Anti-graft court sends DPWH execs to prison over anomalous road project

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by Allan Yves Briones

Five Department of Public Works and Highways (DPWH) officials will be serving at least six year prison sentences over an anomalous asphalt overlay project in Iloilo in 2008.

“Accused members of the BAC (Bids and Awards Committee) acted with manifest partiality and gross inexcusable negligence in their brazen abridgment of the applicable law,” the Sandiganbayan 6th Division said in a 48-page decision written by Associate Justice Kevin Narce Vivero.

DPWH BAC Chairman Berna Colago Coca and members Luvisminda Narcisco, Danilo Peroy, Marilyn Hilaga Celiz, and Fernando Tuares were found guilty beyond a reasonable doubt.

According to the court, the accused violated Section 3 (e) of Republic Act No. 3019 or the Anti-Graft and Corrupt Practices Act for giving private company, International Builder’s Corporation (IBC), unwarranted benefits by awarding the Iloilo-Jaro Diversion Road asphalt overlay project without public bidding and the necessary budget.

Under the law, Republic Act No. 9184 or the Government Procurement Law, requires a public bidding for government projects except in certain circumstances including an existing emergency.

However, according to the court, there was no such case.

“Neither an extraordinary circumstance nor a calamitous event within the contemplation of R.A. 9184 justify accused’s resort to negotiated procurement,” the court said.

In addition to an imprisonment of up to eight years, the accused are also forever barred from holding public office, and are stripped off their retirement benefits.

Also undersigned in the decision are Division Chairperson Sarah Jane Fernandez and Associate Justice Karl Miranda.

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