MANILA- The Sandiganbayan has exonerated Tuguegarao City Mayor Jefferson Soriano of graft in connection with the alleged illegal parking terminals in the city in 2013.
The anti-graft court acquitted Soriano of graft charges filed against him, ruling that the local chief executive had no any “corrupt” nor “criminal intent” when he issued a provisional permit to a private firm to operate parking terminals.
“Verily, inasmuch as herein accused issued the subject provisional permit devoid of any corrupt nor criminal intent, the court is therefore inclined to absolve him from any liability as regards the instant criminal charge,” the court’s First Division ruled in a 36-page decision dated May 11, 2018,
Concurring with the ruling were Associate Justices Efren de La Cruz and Geraldin Faith Econg.
During arraignment, Soriano, assisted by counsel, entered a “not guilty” plea to the criminal charge filed against him.
Prosecutors accused Soriano of giving unwarranted benefits, advantage or preference when he issued a provisional permit in favor of One Way Parking Terminal, Incorporated (OWPTI) to operate a parking terminal without the prior authorization from the Sangguniang Panlungsod of Tuguegarao City by way of an ordinance.
They added that the mayor issued the permit to OWPTI to operate parking terminals notwithstanding the fact that there was another applicant, RBO and Brothers Realty.
“The court fails to see how the accused mayor gave unwarranted benefits, advantage or preference through manifest partiality in favor of OWPTI when, ultimately, the granting of the franchise to operate the parking terminals was lodged with the Sangguniang. In fact, as the events would eventually unfold, the Sangguniang Panlungsod granted the applications of both OWPTI and RBO,” the Sandiganbayan said.
“In other words, the city council was satisfied with the documentary requirements and qualifications of both OWPTI and RBO vis-à-vis the existing city ordinances on the establishment and operation of parking terminals,” anti-graft court added.
The court also ordered the release of the bond posted by the accused for his temporary liberty and recalled the hold departure order against the accused dated July 31, 2017. (PNA)