MANILA - Former Looc, Romblon Mayor Juliet Ngo-Fiel was acquitted by the Sandiganbayan 1st Division of graft stemming from an allegedly anomalous irrigation project worth P9 million in 2007.
Ngo-Fiel was accused by the Office of the Ombudsman of entering into a contract with R.G. Florentino Construction and Trading for the small-scale irrigation/small water impounding project despite having no authority from the municipal council.
But the anti-graft court said the procurement for the project was in accordance with the Government Procurement Act contrary to claims of the complainant, former Mayor Manuel Arboleda, who was defeated by Ngo-Fiel in the 2007 elections.
The Sandiganbayan also said the project does not need a resolution from the municipal council because the funding came from the national government and also because of the urgency of the project.
"Absent any damage nor injury, coupled with the fact that the accused were merely actuated by good faith in acting as they did in the implementation of the subject project, this court therefore is inclined to absolve them from the instant criminal charge," the court said in its decision penned by Associate Justice Edgardo Caldona, with the concurrence of 1st Division Chairperson Efren De La Cruz and Associate Justice Geraldine Faith Econg.
The Sandiganbayan also acquitted then Bids and Awards Committee members Solomon Gregorio, Renato Saludaga, Jessie Jomadiao, Wilma Pastor, and Rolando Gregorio.
The hold departure orders and bail bonds of the accused were also ordered lifted and released.