Sandiganbayan convicts ex-Sorsogon governor of graft over P10-million IT deal

ANTI-GRAFT COURT. The facade of the Sandiganbayan.

Rappler file photo

Former Sorsogon governor Raul Lee is sentenced to 12 years over the anomalous procurement of information technology equipment in 2005

The anti-graft court Sandiganbayan has convicted former Sorsogon governor Raul Lee of two counts of graft over the anomalous procurement of information technology equipment for his province in 2005.

The Sandiganbayan’s 6th Division also convicted former provincial General Services Officer Teresita Paladin of two counts of graft.

In the first graft case, the court said Lee should be held criminally liable for approving the release of P10 million to First Education and Training Ventures Incorporated (FETVI)  even if the delivery was not complete and many of the items delivered to the province did not comply with the specifications of the contract.

The court also found Paladin, provincial inspection officer Manuel Laurora, and accounting clerk Felicisimo Brondial guilty of gross inexcusable negligence for signing the inspection and acceptance report that the purchases were supposedly fully delivered and in satisfactory condition.

The delivered items included second-hand computers with inauthentic software.

In the second graft case, the court convicted only Lee and Paladin for approving the contract with FETVI without public bidding.

The Sandiganbayan sentenced all the accused to 6 to 8 years for each count of graft, and ordered their perpetual disqualification from holding public office.

In the decision penned by Associate Justice Kevin Narce Vivero, the court said that the governor had already picked FETVI as a contractor/partner in 2003, even when the Bids and Awards Committee (BAC) was not yet convened.

The court said that Lee “did not wait for the requisite recommendation of the BAC before he signed the joint venture agreement and the memorandum of agreement.”

“It is thus clear that accused Lee was already set on entering into the contract in question with FETVI,” it added.

The court said Lee “acted with manifest partiality when he approved and caused to be paid the computer hardware and software delivered by FETVI…knowing fully well that they were incomplete as to quantity and not complying with specifications.” 

Associate Justices Sarah Jane Fernandez and Bernelito Fernandez concurred.

In 2017, the Sandiganbayan convicted Lee of 4 counts graft in connection with the  fertilizer fund scam. The Supreme Court upheld his conviction in February. –