N. Cotabato governor acquitted of graft over P2.4-M fuel purchase

Adrian Ayalin, ABS-CBN News

Posted at Sep 17 2018 05:22 PM

MANILA - The Sandiganbayan 1st Division acquitted North Cotabato Governor Emmylou Taliño-Mendoza after finding her not guilty of 3 counts of the Anti-Graft and Corrupt Practices Act in connection with the alleged purchase of P2.4 million worth of diesel by the provincial government from the gas station owned by her mother.

In the decision of the anti-graft court promulgated on September 14, 2018, the evidence presented by government prosecutors that the provincial government resorted to direct contracting in the fuel purchase was not sufficient.

The court said the prosecution merely relied on the resolution of the Bids and Awards Committee and testimony of a witness that the procurement for fuel for three road projects was through direct contracting.

“In sum, the prosecution was unable to prove beyond reasonable doubt that accused took advantage of her official position and acted with manifest partiality and evident bad faith, when she signed the three purchase orders for fuel and authorized its payment to Taliño Shell Station,” the court said in the decision penned by Associate Justice Geraldine Faith Econg, with the concurrence of Division Chairperson Efren Dela Cruz and Associate Justice Edgardo Caldona. 

Taliño-Mendoza had consistently denied the accusation but she nonetheless served her 90-day preventive suspension in 2016.

The court also gave weight to the testimony of a witness who said the Taliño gas station provided the lowest price.

“Based on the testimony of the witness, it could then be concluded that accused did not give unwarranted benefit to the Taliño Shell Station as the BAC, not the accused, followed the same procedure or process for projects requiring fuel in the implementation,” the court said.

With the acquittal of Taliño-Mendoza, the court also ordered the release of the P90,000 cash bond she posted as well as the setting aside of the hold departure order issued against the governor.