Sandiganbayan affirms graft conviction of ex-MCIAA chief

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    THE Sandiganbayan has denied the appeal of former Mactan-Cebu International Airport Authority (MCIAA) general manager Adelberto Yap and two of his co-defendants for a reversal of their conviction on graft charges last February 14.

    Associate Justice Ronald B. Moreno penned the nine-page resolution of the anti-graft court’s Third Division affirming the pronouncement that Yap, MCIAA accounting division head Ma. Venus Casas, and private defendant Marlon Barillo, president of Asiaborders Philippines Inc., were guilty as charged.

    “After due consideration, the Court denies the separate motions for reconsideration filed by accused Yap, Casas, and Barillo. The acts of the accused, taken together, clearly leads to no other conclusion than that their acts were in pursuance of one common criminal objective,” the court declared.

    Presiding Justice Amparo M. Cabotaje-Tang and Associate Justice Bernelito R. Fernandez concurred.

    Yap, a former official of the Philippine Air Force and former head of the Air Transportation Office, was convicted on two counts of graft punishable by 12 to 18 years imprisonment with perpetual disqualification from holding another public office.

    Casas and Barillo were found guilty on one graft charge and were both meted six to 10-year jail terms together with Bids and Awards Committee (BAC) chairperson Veronica Ordoñez and BAC member Sigfredo Dublin, who were not mentioned in the resolution.

    Based on the information filed by the Office of the Ombudsman in 2016, the appellants were accused of conspiracy to defraud the government through the anomalous procurement of an Aircraft Rescue Fire Fighting (ARFF) truck in 2006.

    Prosecutors said the MCIAA made an unlawful advance payment of P6 million to supplier Asiaborders in violation of Section 88 of Presidential Decree No. 1445 that prohibits any form of payment for items not yet delivered.

    Yap was the lone defendant in the second graft case involving alleged overpricing of the firetruck at $732,000 (P38.14 million in 2006) when the fair value was only $616,836.86 (P30.9 million).

    Prosecutors also presented evidence that the BAC reduced the minimum number of years of operation by the supplier from at least five years to just one year, which tended to favor Asiaborders as it had only been in operation for less than two years.

    In his appeal, Yap challenged the court’s finding that conspiracy between him and the other defendants has been proven.

    He invoked good faith, claiming he only acted under the authority of the MCIAA Board hence he should not be held criminally liable for relying on the recommendations of the BAC.

    Casas and Barillo argued that there was no undue injury on the part of the government even with the release of the advance payment as the sum was a precondition for the shipping of the fire-fighting equipment.

    The Sandiganbayan, however, upheld the prosecution’s stand that the evidence clearly showed the P6 million was “paid even without the delivery, inspection and acceptance of the subject fire truck.”

    It also noted the “glaring” difference between the contract price and the declared value of the fire-fighting vehicle and Yap’s failure to exercise diligence when he signed the disbursement voucher before delivery.