Sandiganbayan junks DepEd regional director’s appeal on graft conviction

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    THE Sandiganbayan is not convinced that Walter Albos, former regional director of the Department of Education-Regional Office 9, should get off the hook for his role in the anomalous procurement of P3 million worth of information technology (IT) equipment in 2008.

    In a resolution penned by Associate Justice Bernelito Fernandez, the anti-graft court’s Third Division refused to reverse its September 6, 2019 and instead affirmed Albos’ guilt and reiterated he should be jailed for six to eight years and perpetually disqualified from holding any other government post.

    Presiding Justice Amparo M. Cabotaje-Tang and Associate Justice Ronald B. Moreno concurred.

    Based on the 2016 information for violation of the Anti-Graft and Corrupt Practices Act (RA 3019), Albos was charged with acting with manifest partiality, evident bad faith, or gross inexcusable negligence in awarding the supply contract to Davenport Computers, Spareparts and Services, Inc. without holding a public bidding.

    In his appeal, Albos faulted the court’s decision saying the Sandiganbayan merely assumed that he was aware beforehand that no public bidding was held for the transaction.

    He likewise questioned the validity of the case wherein he was the only DepEd-RO9 official charged even if another official signed the purchase request and someone else was supposed to be responsible for the procurement of IT equipment.

    The defendant insisted that his acts should have been excused on the ground of good faith since, as head of the agency, he merely relied on his subordinates who were in a better position to be informed of any violation in the procurement process.

    His arguments however failed to impress the court.

    It noted that Albos admitted during direct-examination that he signed several documents pertaining to the purchase including the disbursement voucher, the purchase request, and the purchase order.

    “On cross-examination, he also admitted that these documents would not have any legal effect unless he signs them and that he himself verified and checked the completeness of the supporting documents and the availability of (budget),” the Sandiganbayan said.

    It likewise rejected his argument that members of the agency’s Bids and Awards Committee (BAC) were party to committing the crime.

    The Sandiganbayan highlighted the fact that the BAC made no recommendation for the use of an alternative method of procurement and that it was the accused who unilaterally decided to resort to direct contracting.

    “We reiterate our earlier findings that Davenport was awarded the subject Contract without the benefit of a fair system in determining the best price for the government through public bidding,” the court added.