Sandiganbayan clears Silay City vice mayor in P18-M computer project graft case

BACOLOD CITY — Vice Mayor Mark Andrew Golez of Silay City, Negros Occidental has been cleared by the Sandiganbayan in a graft case filed against him and 27 others in connection with the allegedly anomalous P18-million computerization project of the Silay City government in 2008.

Golez was the only one cleared in the case, for lack of probably cause, according to the decision of the Second Division of Sandiganbayan dated January 7, 2015.

“I feel so happy. I celebrated my birthday on Tuesday, and this is the greatest gift I received in my whole life. This is a vindication on my part and it goes to show and I realized that the justice is still working. I’m so happy and relieved,” Golez said after receiving the decision Wednesday.

In an information filed before the Sandiganbayan, the Office of the Ombudsman said that on or about Jan. 24, 2008, Silay Mayor Jose Montelibano and 27 others unlawfully awarded the information and communications technology (ICT) project of Silay City worth P18 million to the Systems and Plan Integrator and Development Corp. (SPIDC), despite the alleged absence of competitive public bidding and compliance with the legal requirements under Republic Act 9184, or the Government Procurement Reform Act.

Aside from Montelibano and Golez, other respondents are Silay Councilor Jose Raymundo Locsin, former councilors Michael Maravilla, Mario Torres, Ramon Jison, Warlito Go, Salvador Segovia, Joedith Gallego and April Grace de los Reyes, City Administrator Ignacio Salmingo, OIC City Treasurer Elsie Jimenea, OIC City Accountant Emmanuel Arsenal and Bids and Award Committee (BAC) chairperson Kara Aimee Quevenco, 13 BAC members and staff as well as Julieta Cunanan, president of SPIDC, of Cainta, Rizal.

The 27 others are set for arraignment today, Thursday, before the Sandiganbayan.

The Ombudsman noted that the respondents immediately resorted to direct contracting mode of procurement even if the computerization service was not of proprietary nature as there were other companies in the market offering similar services.

The procurement process was started even before the approved budget for the contract was made, giving unwarranted benefits, advantage, and preference to SPIDC, the Ombudsman added.

In a decision dated January 7, 2015 signed by Associate Justices Maria Cristina Cornejo, Teresita Diaz- Baldos and Ma. Theresa Dolores Gomez-Estoesta, the Sandiganbayan said that in the information filed in connection with the case, Golez was mentioned only as the vice mayor being sued together with the rest of the members of the Sangguniang Panlungsod, as well as the mayor and other officers of the city government.

They are lumped together as having given unwarranted benefits, advantage and preference to SPIDC, it added.

“No specific act of Golez is alleged in the information. He is used simply as the Vice Mayor. The same is true in the resolution supporting the indictment,” it said

He is referred to as the Vice Mayor but there is no showing that he strictly acted as presiding officer and he used his position as such and took part in the proceedings that led to the resolutions in question, it added. (PNA)

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