MANILA - Former Sta. Fe, Leyte mayor Melchor Quemado, Sr. was sentenced by the Sandiganbayan to imprisonment of 6 to 8 years for renting office space in a hotel in Tacloban City owned by his brother.
According to the graft case filed by the Office of the Ombudsman, Quemado paid P16,000 using municipal government funds in 2005 for the rental of office space in Hayward Travelodge.
The space was used by consultants who worked in a technical working group for the preparation of a feasibility study for a road construction project.
In its ruling promulgated on October 23, 2020, the court noted that there was lack of public bidding for the rental of the office space.
“No pubic bidding was held because the selection of Hayward Travelodge was already pre-determined by Quemado’s certification that it had the cheapest rate in Tacloban City,” the Sandiganbayan's 6th Division said in a decision penned by Associate Justice Karl Miranda.
In his defense, Quemado said the consultants who supposedly gave their services for free were based in Tacloban City.
He also noted that because of the work of the consultants, the town was granted the P27 million grant from the Department of Agriculture.
But aside from the lack of public bidding, it also did not help that the hotel was owned by his brother.
“As a result, Anastacio Quemado, his (Melchor's) brother and owner of Hayward Trevelodge, received unwarranted benefits, advantage and preference over other prospective lessors that may have offered a more advantageous term and rental for the municipality,” the court said.
The court likewise imposed on Quemado the accessory penalty of perpetual disqualification from holding public office.