MANILA - North Cotabato Governor Emmylou Taliño-Mendoza on Thursday pleaded not guilty to her graft case at the Sandiganbayan.
The case stemmed from the provincial government's purchase of diesel from a gas station owned by Mendoza's mother.
The governor allegedly approved the purchase of 49,526.72 liters of diesel from Shell Stations in Carmen, North Cotabato and in Barangay Lanao, Kidapawan City during her first term in 2010.
Both gas stations are owned by the governor's mother, Noemi Taliño.
The diesel was supposedly used to fuel one road grader and four dump trucks for two-day road rehabilitation projects.
READ: N. Cotabato gov faces raps over P2M fuel purchase from mom's gas station
The Ombudsman had questioned the huge difference between the amount of fuel consumed during the road maintenance projects and the volume of gasoline paid by the provincial government.
Based on the Ombudsman's survey among road grader manufacturers, the biggest volume that can be consumed by a grader for a low to medium road maintenance project is around 36 liters per day, or for a tractor, around 60 liters per day.
The Ombudsman said that the consumption of 20,833 liters per day for the Ginatilan-Bangkal-Manobo Road maintenance is "scientifically impossible" as it would take 35 days for six pieces of equipment, running 8 hours a day to consume 20,000 liters.
Mendoza, for her part, told the Ombudsman that there were no other dealers selling fuel at a lower price and there were no other dealers willing to extend credit purchases.
"It was only the Taliño Shell Station which was willing to accommodate the credit term requested by the provincial government," she said.