This is AI generated summarization, which may have errors. For context, always refer to the full article.
MANILA, Philippines – The Sandiganbayan, the country’s anti-graft court, affirmed the charge against former Quezon City mayor Herbert “Bistek” Bautista.
In a 15-page resolution, the court denied Bautista’s motion seeking the outright dismissal of graft case against Bautista for the alleged anomalous contract he signed three days before he stepped down as mayor in 2019. The Sandiganbayan’s Seventh Division, in blocking the former mayor’s move, denied Bautista’s Urgent Omnibus Motion asking to dismiss the case with prejudice.
The ruling was penned by Associate Justice Ma. Theresa Dolores Gomez-Estoesta, with the concurrence of Associate Justices Zaldy Trespeses and Georgina Hidalgo.
The anti-graft court said the case filed by the Office of the Ombudsman dated March 15, 2023 sufficiently states the allegations to sustain the indictment. In addition, the Sandiganbayan also set aside Bautista’s contention that his constitutional right to speedy disposition of cases has been violated.
“The length of time taken by the Ombudsman to complete its preliminary investigation and to file the Information, by itself, cannot be deemed as vexatious, capricious, or oppressive. Absent any vexatious, capricious or oppressive delays…It is unwarranted to conclude that the accused’s constitutional right to speedy disposition of cases was infringed,” the Sandiganbayan declared.
Bautista’s arguments also concern matters of evidence, which are not proper for a motion to quash, the court said.
“(I)t is at once clear that the issues raised by the accused cannot be considered in evaluating the sufficiency of the Information because the same largely pertain to extrinsic matters or evidence aliunde. They not only highlight factual allegations that require evidence presentation but more so, relegate legal issues that require a conclusion from the court when trial is yet to begin,” the Sandiganbayan said.
The case stemmed from the allegation that Bautista and former city administrator Aldrin Cuña allegedly favored private contractor Geodata Solutions Inc. The deal allegedly caused undue injury to Quezon City when Bautista and Cuña approved the P32.108 million contract for the “procurement of online occupational permitting and tracking system.”
According to the prosecutors, the project had no specific appropriation approved by the Sangguniang Panlungsod. The private contractor also failed to make a complete delivery of the project.
In his arguments, Bautista argued that Geodata’s contract underwent a competitive public bidding undertaken by the Bids and Awards Committee. The former QC mayor also raised that none of the BAC members was named co-defendant in the case.
Bautista also invoked good faith and said as mayor, he relied on his subordinates in dealing with the bidding documents. The former mayor also said the project was supported by QC’s Annual Procurement Plan and backed by certifications from the budget office, accounting department, and the treasurer’s office.
The former QC mayor also said he derived no personal gain in the transaction and the project was strictly for QC residents’ benefits.
Both Bautista and Cuña are facing a second graft case before the anti-graft court’s Third Division concerning P25.34 million solar power contract system with Cygnet Energy and Power Asia Inc. – Rappler.com