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Ex-Isabela mayor get 8 years prison term for graft

TUGUEGARAO CITY, Cagayan- A former mayor in Isabela province was convicted of graft by the Sandiganbayan over an alleged anomalous award of contract for a road concreting project in 2008.

The Sandiganbayan’s Special Third Division found former mayor Manuel Tio of Luna, Isabela guilty for violation of Section 3(e) of the Anti-Graft and Corrupt Practices Act.

Also convicted is the former municipal accountant, Lolita Cadiz. Both will serve up to eight years of imprisonment with perpetual disqualification from holding public office.

In a 30-page ruling penned by Associate Justice Sarah Jane Fernandez and concurred in by Presiding Justice Amparo Cabotaje-Tang and Associate Justice Samuel Martires, the anti-graft court said Tio gave an “unwarranted benefit” to Double A Gravel and Sand by not conducting a public bidding for the P2.5-million worth of concreting project.

“In fine, the court finds that accused Tio acted with manifest partiality in awarding the supply contract to Double A [Gravel & Sand] without the requisite public bidding, thereby giving unwarranted benefit, advantage or preference to Double A,” the decision said.

The Sandiganbayan also said accused Tio and Cadiz acted with “gross inexcusable negligence” in causing the payment of P2.5 million to Double A despite the incomplete supporting documents.

During the hearings, Tio argued that they did not conduct a public bidding because they relied on a Memorandum of Agreement (MOA) between the town and the Isabela provincial government, which stated that the provincial government would provide P5 million for the road’s construction while the town would implement the road concreting project.

But the court said in part that the arrangement under the MOA does not forego public bidding in the procurement of the materials and supplies.

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