Former DPWH chief appeals graft conviction


Posted at Feb 13 2011 06:03 PM | Updated as of Feb 14 2011 03:27 PM



MANILA, Philippines - Former Public Works Secretary Florante Soriquez has asked the Sandiganbayan Fifth Division to set aside its decision last January 14 convicting him of graft in connection with the failure of a section of the P38.29-million Pampanga “megadike” on August 3, 1996 that buried 3 towns under water and lahar.
In his 27-page motion for reconsideration filed through lawyers Amiel Vicente and Vicente Millora, Soriquez said "there is absolutely no factual and logical basis" to convict him and his co-accused government engineers after the graft court acquitted engineers from private contractor Atlantic Erectors Inc.
The court sentenced Soriquez and his co-accused – project supervising engineers Rey David, Ulysis Manago, Juan Gonzales and Gil Rivera – to jail terms ranging from 6 to 9 years with an accessory of perpetual disqualification from holding public office.
They were also ordered to indemnify the government in the amount of P12.7 million corresponding to the cost of the construction of the megadike section that collapsed.
Associate Justice Roland B. Jurado, division chairman, penned the verdict that was concurred in by Associate Justices Teresita V. Diaz-Baldos and Napoleon E. Inoturan.
Soriquez was program director of the Mt. Pinatubo Rehabilitation-Project Management Office (MPR-PMO) when the megadike failed.
The Sandiganbayan held that Soriquez, and the DPWH engineers were "inexcusably negligent in implementing the megadike project" when they failed to comply with rules on construction specification.
Private defendants Ariel Lim, chief executive officer of contractor Atlantic Erectors Inc., and his co-officials Neil Allan T. Mary, Alberto Teolengco and Remigio Angtia Jr. were acquitted for lack of evidence.
Soriquez claimed the information alleged that the contractors proposed that he and the DPWH engineers "to deviate from the plans and specifications" of the section of the megadike that failed.
He, however, claimed that the prosecution offered to evidence to prove that there was such a proposal from Atlantic Erectors Inc.
Since the private individuals representing the contractor have been acquitted, Soriquez said it follows that the private firm could not have made such "indecent proposal.”