By Antonio Manaytay
The anti-graft court has affirmed the conviction of former Naga Mayor Gemma Adana and her co-accused over the procurement of heavy equipment worth P8.8 million in 2007.
In July, the Sandiganbayan Sixth Division had convicted Adana together with then-bids and awards committee (BAC) Chairman Felix Abelano Timsan and BAC members Emmanuel Fortuno Enteria and Jonathan Kee Cartagena for violating Section 3(e) of Republic Act (R.A.) 3019 or the Anti-Graft and Corrupt Practices Act when they conspired with CVCK General Manager Jose Ely Solivar to purchase five heavy equipment from his company.
Adana filed a motion for reconsideration on August 14. Her co-accused had also asked the court to reconsider its decision in their filing on August 15.
The former mayor asked the anti-graft court to set aside its earlier decision. Adana claimed she was not informed of the nature and cause of the accusation against her, which is a violation of her constitutional right.
No factual basis
She also argued that there was no factual basis to conclude, beyond a reasonable doubt, that she gave unwarranted benefit and advantage to the supplier.
Assuming that she was negligent in her duties, Adana said it does not automatically constitute gross and inexcusable negligence.
Her co-accused argued that the court’s decision was based on “speculative assumption.”
They contended that the errors in the conduct of public bidding are “mistakes attributable to human frailties.”
They said that they did not have any malicious motive or ulterior design when they gave the award to CVCK Trading.
However, the anti-graft court refused to budge and cited several “misconceptions or fallacies” in the arguments of the accused.
Even if bad faith is not present
The court said it is not correct to assume that their conviction was based on grounds not alleged in the Information filed by the prosecution.
The court added the accused had erred when they heavily on the presumption of good faith and regularity.
“It bears stressing that the offense defined under Section 3(e) of R.A. 3019 may be committed even if bad faith is not attendant,” the decision explained.
“Thus, even assuming the accused did not act in bad faith, their manifest partiality is clearly ostensible and the negligence under the circumstances was not only gross but also inexcusable.”
Associate Justice Kevin Narce Vivero with the concurrence of Chairperson Sarah Jane Fernandez and Associate Justice Karl Miranda penned the seven-page resolution.
The anti-graft court sentenced the accused to the imprisonment of six to eight years with perpetual disqualification from holding public office. (Mindanao Sun)