Sandiganbayan

LIST: Elenita Binay’s acquittals at the Sandiganbayan

Jairo Bolledo

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LIST: Elenita Binay’s acquittals at the Sandiganbayan

BINAY MATRIARCH. File photo of former Makati City mayor Elenita Binay taken in 2014 when she posted bail.

Rappler

There are cases where the former Makati City mayor secured acquittals, while some of her subordinates got convictions

MANILA, Philippines – Former Makati mayor Elenita Binay secured her fifth and latest acquittal before the Sandiganbayan on Monday, January 22.

The anti-graft court’s Fourth Division cleared Binay of her graft and malversation charges in relation to the allegedly anomalous purchase of P9.9-million worth of medical equipment. The prosecutors failed to prove her guilt beyond reasonable doubt, the court said.

Binay is the wife of former vice president Jejomar Binay, and the mother of Senator Nancy Binay and Makati City Mayor Abigail Binay.

Sandiganbyan Associate Justices Lorifel Lacap Pahimna, Michael Frederick Musngi, and Bayani Jacinto unanimously acquitted Binay in the graft case. Also cleared were her co-accused Luz Yamane-Garcia, Ernesto Aspillaga, Mabel Asunio, and Lilia Nonato.

But similar to a previous case, some of the former Makati City mayor’s subordinates were convicted. The Sandiganbayan handed down a guilty verdict to Conrado Pamintuan and Jaime delos Reyes for graft, sentencing them to up to eight years of imprisonment.

For the malversation charge, meanwhile, Binay, Yamane-Garcia, Aspillaga, Asunio, Nonato, Pamintuan, and Delos Reyes were all acquitted.

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Why Sandiganbayan acquitted Elenita Binay of graft, malversation

Why Sandiganbayan acquitted Elenita Binay of graft, malversation

Binay’s fifth acquittal was for the case that emanated from a report by the Commission on Audit’s Special Task Force for Local Government Units. The said body has the mandate to review contracts of Metro Manila local governments with procurement amounting to P1 million and above.

The prosecutors flagged the Makati City local government for allegedly not conducting a public bidding required by law when it bought P9.9-million worth of hospital equipment from Apollo Medical Equipment and Supplies in 2001 and 2002. The prosecutors also found that the said supplier was not registered as a medical distributor with the Food and Drug Administration.

In Binay’s latest acquittal, the court explained that the mere affixing of signatures on documents in an allegedly anomalous transaction was not enough to link her to a so-called conspiracy. The court also noted that there was not enough evidence to prove that Binay and her acquitted co-accused acted “with evident bad faith nor manifest impartiality” when they directly contacted the supplier for the hospital equipment.

Article 217 of the Revised Penal Code states that malversation is committed when “any public officer who, by reason of the duties of his office, is accountable for public funds or property, shall appropriate the same, or shall take or misappropriate or shall consent, through abandonment or negligence, shall permit any other person to take such public funds or property, wholly or partially, or shall otherwise be guilty of the misappropriation or malversation of such funds or property.”

The Sandiganbayan noted that the documents in the transaction were prepared before Binay attached her signature. The anti-graft court added that it was not proven that she and her fellow accused had “foreknowledge” of the anomaly in the transaction when they signed the necessary documents. 

This acquittal is the latest after the previous one in 2021.

Past acquittals
2021

Three years ago, in 2021, the anti-graft court also acquitted Binay in relation to her P45-million hospital beds case. In the charge, she was accused of favoring a supplier through a contract with no public bidding that included the procurement of P36.431-million worth of hospital beds, cabinets, intensive care unit beds, orthopedic beds, and P8.83 million worth of sterilizers.

With a 4-1 vote, the Sandiganbayan’s Third Division acquitted her and Bids and Awards Committee officials Ernesto Aspillaga, Dulce Cruz, and Luz Yamane-Garcia. However, some of Binay’s subordinates were convicted and sentenced to six to eight years of imprisonment for two counts of graft.

Presiding Justice Amparo Cabotaje-Tang dissented and wanted to convict Binay because according to her, the former Makati City mayor “was an accountable official who had custody and control of the funds.” She added that the other accused, including Binay, were liable because they signed the vouchers and “thus certified that the disbursements were lawful and the supporting documents were complete.”

2019

In 2019, the Sandiganbayan also acquitted Binay in her P72-million graft case involving the purchase of allegedly overpriced furniture for Makati City hall in 1999.

The anti-graft court’s Fifth Division granted Binay’s demurrer to evidence, which paved the way for the junking of the case. Granting a demurrer to evidence has the same effect as an acquittal. Division chairperson, Associate Justice Rafael Lagos, penned the decision with concurrences from Associate Justices Maria Theresa Mendoza-Arcega and Maryann Corpus-Mañalac.

“The Prosecution was not able to present the necessary evidence to prove that accused Binay acted with manifest partiality, evident bad faith or gross, inexcusable negligence in awarding the subject contract under PO 9989, through a simulated/rigged public bidding, in favor of Office Gallery International, Inc,” the court’s resolution read.

November 17, 2016

In 2016, Binay secured two acquittals. On November 17 of the said year, the Sandiganbayan cleared Binay of the charges against her in relation to the allegedly overpriced office furniture worth P13.25 million bought during her term.

The anti-graft court’s Fourth Division said the prosecution failed to establish the elements of conspiracy among the accused. Aside from Binay, former city councilor and general services chief Ernesto Aspillaga and private defendant Vivian Edna Edurise, representative of supplier Office Gallery International Inc, were also cleared.

November 3, 2016

Before the November 17 acquittal, the anti-graft court also junked the case against Binay in relation to the allegedly rigged bidding of P21.7-million worth of furniture and office partitions in 2000. The court also granted a demurrer to evidence filed by Binay and her three co-accused: Aspillaga, Bernadette Aquino, and Nicanor Santiago.

The decision was not unanimous. The decision was penned by Associate Justice Roland Jurado, with concurrences from Associate Justices Samuel Martires (now Ombudsman) and Jose Hernandez. Associate Justices Geraldine Faith Econg and Maria Theresa Dolores Gomez-Estoesta dissented.

“The conduct of rigged bidding has not been sufficiently established; hence, the alleged rigged bidding would not constitute proof beyond reasonable doubt that the accused acted with evident bad faith, manifest partiality or gross inexcusable negligence which is an essential element of the crime charged,” the resolution read. – Rappler.com

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Jairo Bolledo

Jairo Bolledo is a multimedia reporter at Rappler covering justice, police, and crime.