MANILA, Philippines – Anti-graft court Sandiganbayan upheld its earlier decision convicting four Philippine Coast Guard (PCG) officers over the irregular procurement of mobile phone cards worth P6.04 million in 2014.
A special division of the court junked separate appeals filed by Captain Ramon Lopez, and Coast Guard commanders Rommel Supangan, Joselito Quintas, and William Arquero, that sought to reverse a ruling issued in January.
Their convictions are as follows:
- Lopez – two counts of violation of Republic Act (RA) No. 9184 or the Government Procurement Reform Act; jail sentence of 12 to 20 years
- Supangan and Arquero – one count each of violation of the Government Procurement Reform Act; jail sentence of 6 to 10 years
- Quintas – jail sentence of 18 to 30 years
The defendants were accused of splitting contracts among several suppliers even though there was only one purchase request.
In doing so, none of the purchases reached the P500,000 threshold, which would have made public bidding for the contracts mandatory.
In their motions for reconsideration, the PCG officers insisted that there was no intent to avoid public bidding because they merely followed the Annual Procurement Program of the PCG, which called for a direct contracting mode of procurement for cellular cards.
Quintas also argued that tapping several suppliers was necessary because none of the firms could handle the volume of cellular cards needed in just a single transaction.
The court, however, insisted that RA 9184 made it clear that breaking up contracts is a criminal offense.
The vote in the special division was 3-2: Associate Justice Oscar Herrera Jr. and Presiding Justice Amparo Cabotaje-Tang concurred in the majority resolution penned by Associate Justice Arthur Malabaguio, while Associate Justice Michael Frederick Musngi and Associate Justice Bayani Jacinto dissented. – Rappler.com
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