Former Philippine National Police (PNP) chief Jesus Verzosa and five others were recently convicted and sentenced to prison in connection with the anomalous purchase of 75 rubber boats and outboard motors worth P131.5 million in 2009.
Versosa and his co-accused – former PNP deputy director generals Benjamin Belarmino Jr. and Jefferson Soriano (incumbent mayor of Tuguegarao City); former PNP directors Luizo Ticman and Romeo Hilomen and retired C/Supt. Villamor Bumanblag – were sentenced to six to eight years in jail by the Sandiganbayan anti-graft court.
Various published reports said the Sandiganbayan found the equipment, which were supposed to rescue thousands of victims of Typhoons Ondoy and Peping in 2009, were sourced from “select suppliers” who were incapable of delivering the required goods within the specified delivery period.
“The violation of Sec. 3 of the Anti-Graft and Corrupt Practices Act was consummated the moment the accused, in conspiracy with one another, awarded the contract to ineligible suppliers who were neither of good standing nor could deliver the boats compliant with National Police Commission specifications,” the Sandiganbayan said.
The defendants were accused of doing away with the required public bidding and conducting the unjustified negotiated procurement citing the exigencies of the situation occasioned by Ondoy and Peping.
The court said the suppliers EnviroAire Inc., Geneve SA Corp. and Bay Industrial Phils. benefited despite the fact they “were not technically, financially and legally capable.”
“The accused committed acts with evident bad faith, manifest partiality or at the very least gross inexcusable negligence which gave unwarranted benefit and advantage to the suppliers,” the court said in its ruling.
The Sandiganbayan said the former top cop cannot escape liability since he approved the procurement of the boats, the award of the contracts to purchase and the payment to the suppliers despite the absence of the required sea trials to ascertain their safety.
The Sandiganbayan’s decision was penned by Associate Justice Bernelito Fernandez with Associate Justices Amparo Cabotaje-Ang and Ronald Moreno concurring.
Lawyers for Mayor Soriano said a motion for reconsideration is being readied against the Sandiganbayan’s decision.
Soriano has been insisting the rubber boat deal went through the proper public bidding under emergency procurement conditions.
Sources said the Sandiganbayan’s ruling is not immediately executory as the defendants may still file an appeal before the Supreme Court, if their motion for reconsideration doesn’t make any headway.