Monday 21 January, 2019
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Sandiganbayan rejects COA evidence in Melquiades Robles’ janitor scam cases

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The Sandiganbayan has denied the Ombudsman’s request to mark certain Commission on Audit (COA) documents as part of its evidence in the graft case concerning the anomalous implementation of a janitorial services contract for the Light Rail Transit Authority (LRTA) during the tenure of former administrator Melquiades Robles.

In a recent 9-page resolution, the court’s 5th Division said the documents presented by COA supervising administrative officer Lolita Soriano were “not originals or certified true copies of the [photocopies] pre-marked during the preliminary conferences.”

Soriano was presented as an additional witness, as prosecutors belatedly located the supposed original copies in her custody. Prosecutors were only able to submit the photocopies and mark them as evidence during the pretrial, because the documents were previously unavailable.

The court, however, sustained the objections of Robles’s coaccused: bids and awards committee members Elmo Stephen Triste and Eduardo Abiva, as well as Dennis Acorda, representative of the joint venture of COMM Builders and Technology Philippines Corp., PMP Inc., and Gradski Saobracaj GRAS.

Triste and Abiva were the ones who pointed out that the paginations in the marked documents and Soriano’s original copies did not actually match.

Ombudsman prosecutors accused Robles and LRTA officials of allowing the contractor to shortchange the train system, by reducing the number of janitors to 219 instead of the agreed-upon minimum of 321.

This allegedly caused the government to sustain losses of P1.07 million monthly, or P12.86 million for the year 2009.


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