Graft raps vs. 6 ex-Bohol board members junked

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Graft raps vs. 6 ex-Bohol board members junked

Topic |  

The Sandiganbayan dismissed the graft and corruption case of six (6) former provincial Board Members over their passage of a Sanggunian resolution authorizing the anomalous purchase of several heavy equipment through letters of credit.

In an 11-page Resolution, the Sandiganbayan-First Division dismissed the criminal case against former provincial Board Members Godofreda Tirol, Esther Corazon Galbreath, Brigido Imboy, Ma. Fe Camacho-Lejos, Aster Piollo and Jane Censoria Cajes-Yap for the reason that “their constitutional right to speedy disposition of their case” has been violated.

The case stemmed from the series of heavy equipment purchases of the provincial government costing almost P170-million during the administration of former Gov. Erico Aumentado that were allegedly ridden with irregularities.

This particular case, however, was allegedly committed at the time when then Vice-Governor Julius Caesar Herrera was acting-governor of Bohol.


As OIC-governor, Herrera requested the Sangguniang Panlalawigan (SP) for the passage of a resolution to authorize the opening and negotiation of letters of credit with LandBank of the Philippines (LBP) for the purchase of several heavy equipment through importation.

The Sanggunian resolution authorized then governor Aumentado to sign documents in relation to the equipment deal while allowing LandBank to debit all charges incidental to the opening and negotiation of the letters of credit to be charged against the bank account of the province.

Several top Bohol officials, many of whom are still holding posts in the provincial government were among those charged by the Ombudsman at the Sandiganbayan in connection with said anomalous equipment deal. Among those charged are former vice-governor Herrera and the provincial board members at the time who voted for the passage of the resolution, including Provincial Administrator Alfonso Damalerio II, Cesar Tomas Lopez, Brigido Imboy, Felix Uy, Concepcion Lim, Maribojoc Vice Mayor Jose Veloso, and incumbent Vice Gov. Dionisio Balite.


However, six of the former board members – Tirol, Galbreath, Imboy, Camacho-Lejos, Piollo, and Cajes-Yap filed two motions to dismiss the case, assailing that the Ombudsman took six (6) years to complete its fact-finding and preliminary investigation for their alleged offense.

In its resolution, the graft court said that from the fact-finding investigation in January 2012, it took the Ombudsman almost 6 years to file the case at the Sandiganbayan on December 1, 2017.

The resolution finding probable cause against the accused was dated November 24, 2015, or almost 4 years from the start of the fact-finding investigation in January 2012.

It took the Ombudsman more than one year to finally approve the said resolution on December 6, 2016. Then, another year was spent just to prepare the Information on September 11, 2017, and to file it before the Sandiganbayan on December 1, 2017.

According to the Sandiganbayan, the Ombudsman did not provide any plausible explanation for the unreasonable long period of delay.

“Such delay, without any justifiable reason provided by the prosecution, is inordinate, capricious and oppressive to the accused, thereby violating their right to a speedy disposition of their cases,” the ruling stated.

The “inordinate delay being violative of the constitutionally guaranteed right to due process and to the speedy disposition of cases, warrants the dismissal of the criminal case.”


 Despite the dismissal of the case on the principle of inordinate delay, the Sandiganbayan nevertheless pointed out that the allegations against the six former board members established the essential elements to hold them liable for graft and corruption, under Section 3(e) of Republic Act 3019, or the Anti-Graft and Corrupt Practices Act.

 In its ruling, the Sandiganbayan said that the accused officials are being charged in their capacity as members of the Sanggunian who were among those of approved and enacted the resolution authorizing Landbank to debit the charges from the account of the province of Bohol for the opening and negotiation fees of the letters of credit in the purchase of the heavy equipment.

 “In so doing, [they] allegedly acted with evident bad faith, manifest partiality and gross inexcusable negligence, and gave CMI (supplier) unwarranted benefits, advantage or preference, and caused undue injury to the government. Without a doubt, the Information is sufficient in form and substance to charge the accused of violation of Section 3(e) of RA 3019.,” the graft court ruled.

 Lawyer Roland Inting was the counsel for Yap, Tirol, Galbreath, Lejos Imboy and Piollo.

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