TAGBILARAN CITY – Gov. Edgar Chatto has reiterated that the Salcon graft case has been dismissed by the Sandiganbayan.
As this came out, the Motion for Reconsideration filed by Office of Special Prosecutor of the Ombudsman has been recently tackled.
In his State of the Province Address (SOPA) last Friday, he said, “Finally, the one issue that has challenged our integrity in public service, the Joint Venture Case, has been dismissed by the Sandiganbayan. We have gone through the wringer, but our victory today shows that political will and leadership are necessary to improve services – in this case, the water and power utilities for the public.”
In brochures circulated to the audience during the SOPA held at Bohol Cultural Center, advantages of the Joint Venture between the rovincial government and the Bohol Water Utilities Inc, and Bohol Light Company were cited.
These were “efficient services of power and water utilities; Php67 million dividend from two utilities as of December 2015; payment of Php26 million loan of the province for water works development; 30% free equity of the provincial government; no employee laid off due to project; provincial government no subsidizing power and water anymore and use of funds instead for development programs and proejects provincewide.”
“You can see onscreen and in your brochures the reiteration of the benefits of the Joint Venture Project. But let me not belabor the point. We are thankful to God that this repeatedly-revived political issue has been resolved by the RTC, the Court of Appeals, the Ombudsman, and now the Sandiganbayan, proving that we did the right thing. The DILG’s Seal of Good Local Governance, our latest governance award, should further drive home the point that our leadership has always worked towards what is best for Bohol and our beloved Boholanos.,” he said.
The United States Agency for Internatinal Development (USAID) recognized Joint Venture project as “pioneering and trailblazing PPP (public-private partnership) innovation of a local government” the brochure said.
Just recently, lawyer Victor De la Serna, former OIC governor, said that Motion for Reconsideration (MR) filed by the Ombudsman through OSP was tackled after the dismissal of the case SB-15-CRM-0283 by the Sandiganbayan.
He said that the accused in the case people of the Philippines versus Rene L. Relampagos and others asked the Sandigan for 15 days to comment to the MR.
The MR was prompted after the case was dismissed by the Sandiganbayan last month even before the accused were arraigned after they posted bail, he said.
Sandiganbayan first division junked the graft charges filed against former governor and now Rep. Rene Relampagos, former vice-governor and now Gov. Edgardo Chatto and others for technicality.
“In a resolution by the anti-graft court First Division, the court noted the Ombudsman’s inordinate delay in filing the case before the Sandiganbayan.”
“In dismissing the case, the court lifted the hold departure order against the accused and released the bail bond they paid for provisional liberty from the graft charges,” the news report said.
The complaint against Relampagos, Chatto and others stemmed from the alleged under-valuation of the assets of Provincial Public Utilities Department’s power and water systems of the provincial government when it was dealt with Salcon consortium under the Joint Venture Agreement (JVA).
The respondents (Relampagos, Chatto, et al), earlier, filed motion to dismiss the Criminal Case Numbered SB 15 CRM 0283 for violation of section 3 (g) of the Republic Act 3019, as amended, otherwise known as Anti-Graft and Corrupt Practices Act. Section 3, par. (g) of said law provides that “Entering, on behalf of the government, into any contract or transaction manifestly and grossly disadvantageous to the same, whether or not the public officer profited or will profit thereby.”
Citing a Supreme Court ruling, the Sandiganbayan as quoted by the report said that the “accused has a right to a speedy trial. Furthermore, a violation of this constitutional right warrants a dismissal of the case.” And the anti-graft court granted the motion for dismissal of the case for there was a violation of speedy disposition of the case.
It took 15 years for Ombudsman to file the case since a complaint was filed in 2000, the anti-graft court said in dismissing the case. The Ombudsman dismissed it in July 2008 but Ombudsman Conchita Carpio-Morales resurrected it in 2014.
Carpio-Morales issued a Resolution finding probable cause to charge the accused and subsequently a criminal information was filed on October 23, 2015. (rvo)