CA CLEARS IFUGAO SOLON OF GRAFT
MANILA — The Court of Appeals (CA) has upheld its previous decision clearing Ifugao Rep. Teddy Baguilat Jr. of charges over irregularities in the purchase of a government vehicle when he was still governor 19 years ago
In a resolution penned by Associate Justice Marlene Gonzales-Sison, the CA’s special former 15th division affirmed its original decision which set aside the March 2017 ruling of the Office of the Ombudsman against the lawmaker.
The Ombudsman had ordered Baguilat’s dismissal from government service.
The CA, in turning down the Ombudsman’s appeal, held that the arguments raised in the motion for reconsideration were reiterations of its previous allegations.
“(The) Office of the Ombudsman failed to show patent or palpable error to warrant reconsideration of our decision. As such, we find no valid reason to revise, much less to reverse or set aside what have been carefully set bright,” the CA ruled.
Court records showed that the case arose from the purchase of a second-hand Isuzu Trooper wagon for PHP900,000 by Baguilat without public bidding when he was a governor in 2003. The province’s bids and awards committee (BAC) resorted to personal canvass, instead of holding a public bidding.
The Ombudsman argued that the purchase request was also irregular because it specified the plate number, chassis number, motor engine number and other details of the actual vehicle bought.
In its earlier decision, the CA applied the “condonation doctrine” that absolves a re-elected public official for administrative offenses committed during a previous term.
The Supreme Court (SC) abandoned the said doctrine in November 2015 in its ruling on the case former Makati Mayor Junjun Binay but applied the ruling prospectively.
The CA held that the doctrine should still apply to Baguilat’s case because he allegedly committed his offenses in 2003, more than a decade before the SC decision.
Separate criminal charges for graft have also been dismissed by the Sandiganbayan last April on the grounds of unreasonable delays in the Ombudsman’s investigation.
The Sandiganbayan granted the motion to dismiss of Baguilat, ruling that his right to a speedy disposition of cases was violated when it took the prosecution about 13 years to complete its fact-finding and preliminary investigations. (PNA)
Photo from Inquirer