Ex-Catanduanes town officials face prison term for P13.95-million backhoe purchase

Adrian Ayalin, ABS-CBN News

Posted at Oct 14 2020 02:15 PM

MANILA— The Sandiganbayan 3rd Division has found former municipal officials of Viga, Catanduanes guilty of graft for the irregular purchase of a backhoe loader amounting to P13.95 million in 2005.

In the decision of the anti-graft court promulgated on October 9, 2020, former Viga mayor Jose Torres, vice mayor Yolando Tuquero and Sangguniang Bayan members Lourdes Del Rosario, Asuncion Odi, Rosario Mollasgo, Horacio Aquino, Domingo Villanueva, Orbel Tonio, William Tuplano and Gomercindo Litong were sentenced to imprisonment of 6 to 8 years.

In the information filed by the Office of the Ombudsman, the former municipal officials connived with each other in the procurement of the backhoe from a supplier without public bidding, depriving other interested suppliers the opportunity to submit competitive bids.

"From the evidence presented, no public bidding was held, there was no budget for the procurement of the backhoe and the accused SB members gave authority to accused Torres to take out a loan to fund the purchase of the backhoe from CAMEC," the court said. 

The decision was penned by Associate Justice Ronald Moreno, with the concurrence of Presiding Justice and Division Chairperson Amparo Cabotaje-Tang and Associate Justice Bernelito Fernandez.

Aside from imprisonment, the court also sentenced the former municipal officials to perpetual disqualification from holding public office.

The case against accused Nerissa Usero, also a former SB member who remains at-large, was ordered archived and will be revived upon her arrest.