MANILA — Former Makati City Mayor Elenita Binay has been acquitted by the Sandiganbayan 3rd Division of 2 counts of graft and 2 counts of malversation charges over the P45-million procurement of medical supplies and equipment in 2001.
In a decision by the anti-graft court, Binay, wife of former vice president and long-time Makati mayor Jejomar Binay, was acquitted for the prosecution's failure to prove her guilt beyond reasonable doubt.
Binay was accused of irregularities in the procurement of P36.431 million worth of hospital beds, cabinets, intensive care unit beds, orthopedic beds as well as P8.83 million worth of sterilizers from Apollo Medical Equipment and Supplies.
The procurement supposedly gave unwarranted benefits to the supplier and did not undergo competitive public bidding.
The court said Binay, as well as her co-accused Ernesto Aspillaga, Dulce Cruz, Luz Yamane-Garcia, as members of the Committee on Awards, cannot be held liable.
But supply officer Conrado Pamintuan and administrative officer Jaime Delos Reyes can be held liable as they are members of the Committee on Canvass.
Pamintuan and Delos Reyes were found guilty of two counts of graft.
"Accused Pamintuan and accused Delos Reyes, being members of the Committee on Canvass, performed conspiratorial acts or omissions in their part of the procurement process [which], when taken collectively, contributed to defrauding the government," the court said.
For the two counts of malversation, all the accused were acquitted for the failure of the prosecution to prove their guilt beyond reasonable doubt.
Associate Justices Bernelito Fernandez, Ronald Moreno, Oscar Herrera Jr. and Alex Quiroz concurred with the majority decision to acquit Binay.
Presiding Justice and Division Chairperson Amparo Cabotaje-Tang, however, dissented with the majority opinion to acquit Binay.
While she agreed to the conviction of Pamintuan and Delos Reyes, she disagreed with the finding that the members of the Committee on Awards cannot be similarly held criminally liable.
"I submit that there are more than adequate bases to find them equally grossly and inexcusably negligent in the discharge of their duties as members of the Committee on Awards, hence they should also be found guilty of violating Republic Act. No. 3019 on both counts," Cabotaje-Tang said in her dissent.
Former Vice President Binay was the first in the family to hold the mayoralty, first as an appointed local chief executive in 1986, then winning the mandate for the same post in 1988.
The post was later held by Elenita, and their children Junjun and Abigail, the incumbent.
Daughter Nancy is currently senator.
Several Binays have been accused of irregularities while at the helm of Makati City, including questionable city hall projects, but none of the allegations have been proven in court.