Sandiganbayan affirms graft conviction of MMDA, QC execs

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    THE Sandiganbayan has affirmed the conviction of former Quezon City Engineer Alfredo Macapugay, former Metropolitan Manila Development Authority (MMDA) Real Property Assessment Service director Ramon Mateo, and businessmen Margarito Chan and Dickson Lim for violation of Section 3 (e) of RA 3019 or the Anti-Graft and Corrupt Practices Act.

    In a 16-page resolution dated August 27, 2019 but released only last week, the anti-graft court denied separate motions for reconsideration filed by the four defendants seeking reversal of the April 12, 2019 decision that pronounced them guilty of defrauding the government of P3,291,840 representing payment to Servy Realty Corp. in November 1993 for a demolished warehouse.

    The court agreed with state auditors and government prosecutors that the reimbursement was a fraud because the supposed 457-square meter warehouse never existed on Sgt. Esguerra St., Barangay Manresa, San Jose, Quezon City.

    Records show the structure was demolished to give way to the construction of the DPWH Circumferential Road Project, more commonly known as C-3 Road.

    In convicting the accused, the Sandiganbayan noted that the road project divided Servy Realty’s property into two – Lot No. 3-A and Lot No. 3-B.

    Lot No. 3-A which was retained by the private defendant, has a 240-square meter warehouse on it. Lot No. 3-B, the portion affected by the road span, had no tax declaration of any improvement erected on it.

    The court agreed with the prosecution that the demolished 457-square meter warehouse could not have been on Lot No. 3-A since the property only has an area of 501-square meters.

    In effect, the DPWH was made to cough up money for the demolition of a structure that was never there.

    Macapugay said he should have been acquitted since the prosecution failed to show who made the recommendation to purchase the property, who approved the same recommendation and who implemented it.

    Mateo said he had very limited involvement in the transaction since he did not participate in the deliberations of the Technical Working Group that recommended the cost of the old building.

    Chan and Lim insisted the court wrongfully convicted them even if the nature and the cause of action against them was not made clear.

    Their lawyers argued that the allegation was unlawful payment of compensation for a building that does not exist while the court’s ruling held them guilty because the existing warehouse was only 240 sqm and not 457 sqm.

    The court stood pat on its pronouncements that the conviction was based on the evidence on record.

    “We deny the motions of accused for lack of merit. The fact that a 240 sqm warehouse existed will not in any way exonerate accused from the charge. The Court maintains its finding that the prosecution has sufficiently established the fact that the said warehouse subject of expropriation did not exist,” the court declared.

    It added that even while the defense was given ample opportunity to disprove the prosecution’s case, it failed to present contrary evidence.