The Muntinlipa City government yesterday dismissed the graft cases filed by a former official against Mayor Aldrin San Pedro and 15 city councilors as nothing more than a “squid tactic” purportedly to conceal the extortion and other illegal acts that he committed while working as head of the city’s bids and awards secretariat.
Omar Acosta, city’s public information chief, said Abel Sumabat, who claimed to have acted as “bagman” for the respondent city officials in the graft case he filed with the Ombudsman, is himself facing at least six criminal cases before the city prosecutors office involving, among others, extortion, estafa and malversation of public funds.
Three of the cases were filed against Sumabat by private contractors from whom he allegedly extorted close to P5 million by making misrepresentation that the money is for “special operations procedure ” (SOP) to ensure that the contracts will eventually be awarded to them.
But when his promise did not materialize, the contractors decided to file charges against Sumabat, Acosta said.
Sensing that his anomalous acts were about to be discovered, Sumabat promptly resigned on February 2012. Fearing indictment, he then turned the table against the city officials by filing the graft case and even sought state protection through the Witness Protection Program.
“It appears that (Sumabat) is indeed a bagman but only for himself,” Acosta said. “He used his office as head of the BAC secretariat enrich himself.”
“It’s, therefore, obvious that Sumabat filed the graft case only as smoke screen to hide his own guilt,” Acosta added. “Worse, is that some politicians are exploiting the situation by coddling Sumabat, hoping to gain from its outcome.
In addition, a careful reading of the case will reveal that most of the charges made by Sumabat were most rehash versions of cases that had been previously dismissed by the Ombudsman such as those pertaining to purchase of trolley bags and various infrastructure projects.
Respondent city officials are confident that truth will come out and they will be eventually vindicated.
In another development, the city legal office and lawyer for the respondent city officials, Atty Leonard De Vera, sought the removal of Sumabat in the WPP, saying that Sumabat is not a credible witness for the state, citing the numerous cases that so far have been filed against him.
“Truly, there is no greater irony that to have a corrupt former government employee use the agencies of the government to protect himself from the very State he defrauded,” De Vera said in his letter to Justice Secretary Leila De Lima.