Ex-Zambo del Norte execs get 6 to 12 years for buying mayor’s used SUV sans bidding

The Sandiganbayan has sentenced the former mayor and vice-mayor of Labason, Zamboanga del Norte to 6 to 12 years in prison in connection with the purchase of the former’s second-hand sports utility vehicle (SUV) without the benefit of public bidding in 2011.

In a recent 53-page decision, the court’s 6th Division found Wilfredo Balais and Virgilio Go guilty of violation of Section 3(e) of the Anti-Graft and Corrupt Practices Act and perpetually disqualified them from holding public office.

Prosecutors said Balais first owned the Nissan Patrol Wagon Model 2001 unit and sold it to Eduardo Ayunting for P500,000. The municipal government then bought the vehicle for P960,000 just two months later in January 2011.

Ayunting was dropped from the case, as he was turned into a state witness.

The court said a pretend bidding was held for the vehicle purchase, with all three prospective bidders failed to submit requirements and meet the requirement of previous experience.

“From these glaring irregularities, it is evident that the so called bidding is nothing but a sham,” read the decision penned by Associate Justice Sarah Jane Fernandez.

The court rejected Balais and Go’s claim that they were unaware that the former used to own the car, saying they could have disapproved the recommendations of the bids and awards committee (BAC).

“Accused Balais and Go’s acts, as part of the convoluted scheme, caused the purchase by the Municipality of Labason of the subject vehicle, in contravention of the law,” it added.

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