Sandigan affirms conviction of DPWH officials, contractor in 2007 lamppost deal

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    THE Sandiganbayan Sixth Division has thrown out separate appeals filed by former public works officials and a private contractor contesting their conviction for a graft charge on September 29, 2020.

    Associate Justice Kevin Narce B. Vivero penned the 15-page resolution that affirmed the guilt and the sentence of six years imprisonment against former Department of Public Works and Highways (DPWH) – Region 7 director Robert Lala, Bids and Awards Committee (BAC) members Pureza Fernandez and Agustinito Hermoso, and businessman Gerardo Surla, chairman of GAMPIK Construction and Development Inc.
    Associate Justices Sarah Jane T. Fernandez and Karl B. Miranda concurred.

    The DPWH officials were found guilty of colluding with Surla to skirt the rules on public bidding for government contracts and give unfair advantage to GAMPIK which was eventually awarded the P35.634 million project.

    What weighed heavily against the accused was the Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) dated November 22, 2006 which was signed between DPWH-Region 7 and GAMPIK exactly six days before the formal bidding for the project which was held on November 28, 2006.

    According to the court, the MOU established that there was already a “predetermined winning bidder” in violation of the provisions of RA 9184 or the Government Procurement Reform Law.

    In their motions for reconsideration, the defendants claimed the Sandiganbayan convicted them on an element of the crime that was not alleged in the information.

    They said the specific accusations involved absence of a competitive bidding, overpricing in the sum of P12.63 million, and giving unwarranted benefit or advantage to GAMPIK.

    The anti-graft court ruled that the defense argument was misplaced, noting that the criminal information sufficiently alleged all the essential elements of the crime of violation of Section 3 (e) of RA 3019 or the Anti-Graft and Corrupt Practices Act.

    “For as long as the ultimate facts constituting the offense has been alleged, an information… need not state, to the point of specificity, the exact manner of how the crime was committed,” the Sixth Division said.

    It reiterated that the crime is the act of the accused in awarding the contract to GAMPIK without the legal requirements of a valid procurement process which is a competitive bidding.