Ex-Leyte mayor acquitted over feasibility study that skipped bidding, went over budget

The Sandiganbayan has acquitted former Pastrana, Leyte, Mayor Joselito Chan of graft in connection with alleged procurement irregularities hounding a P2.4-million feasibility study that supposedly went over the budget in May 2005.

The case concerned the award of the contract to R.C. Soledad Construction to conduct a feasibility study on the construction of farm-to-market roads in the interior barangays of Pastrana. They alleged that the contract price exceeded the available appropriations by P480,000.

In a recent 48-page decision, the court’s 2nd Division found the municipal government’s resort to a more costly negotiated contract justified, after the failure to two public biddings.

It said the prosecution failed to establish evident bad faith on Chan’s part, as he contracted the project “through the alternative mode of procurement not at his own behest but by recommendation of the BAC (bids and awards committee).”

The court noted that the Sangguniang Bayan (SB) approved and ratified the higher budget after the contract was awarded.

The prosecution also failed to present evidence that R.C. Soledad was a blacklisted constructor.

Since the prosecution failed to establish the felonious character of Chan’s acts, there was also no basis to impose civil liability, read the decision penned by Associate Justice Michael Frederick Musngi.

Also cleared were municipal accountant Jocelyn Morbos-Vilvestre, municipal budget officer Anacleta Gabriente, municipal planning and development officer Imelda Candaza, and municipal treasurer Carmencita Gallego.

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