The anti-graft court has affirmed the conviction against six former officials of the Department of Education-Region XI office and a trader in connection with falsified purchase of construction materials for an elementary school building in Davao City in 1991.
In a six-page resolution, the Sandiganbayan Fifth Division thumbed down separate motions for reconsideration filed by defendants Venancio Nava, former DECS (Department of Education, Culture and Sports – DepEd predecessor) Region XI regional director; assistant regional director Susana Cabahug; administrative officer Aquilina Granada; finance officer Carlos Bautista; administrative officer Edilberto Madria; supply officer Felipe Pancho; and private defendant Jesusa dela Cruz, president of supply firm Giomiche Inc.
Prosecutors have shown during trial that there was no public bidding conducted for the construction project. Evidence indicated that the accused merely simulated documents and processes to make it appear that procurement rules were observed.
The court likewise found proof that the accused overpriced the construction supplies and materials in the amount of P512,967.69.
All of the accused were sentenced to six to 12 years imprisonment and ordered to jointly repay the government the alleged overprice. This is aside from being barred for life from holding any position in government in the future.
In their appeal, the defendants claimed the court erred in giving weight to the canvass of materials conducted by the Commission on Audit saying auditors did not follow procedures.
Prosecutors, however, countered that the COA canvass should be accorded presumption of regularity in the absence of malice, bias or gross error on the part of the auditors.
Likewise, the Sandiganbayan pointed out that none of the defendants raised new arguments in the motions for reconsiderations that would compel it to reverse its original ruling.