The Office of the Ombudsman has dismissed the graft and plunder case filed against Muntinlupa Mayor Aldrin San Pedro and 30 other current and former officials of the Muntinlupa City government after the complainant failed to prove the charges with evidence in connection with the approval of 11 infrastructure projects in 2007.
In a 61-page decision, the Ombudsman dismissed the case filed by complainant Ariel Dolleton, former city government department head under former Muntinlupa mayor Jaime Fresnedi and a losing candidate for councilor in the May 2010 elections.
“In the light of the foregoing, this Office submits that the complainant [Dolleton] failed to entrench the existence of probable cause against the respondents with the required quantum of evidence,” according to the decision of the Ombudsman signed by Graft Investigation and Prosecution Officer II Lourdes Padre Juan, Acting Assistant Ombudsman Mary Susan Guillermo and Ombudsman Ma. Merceditas Gutierrez.
“We are very happy with the decision of the Ombudsman. Our evidences proved that we followed all the laws in the implementation of the infrastructure projects,” Mayor San Pedro said.
In his complaint, Dolleton alleged that there was irregularity in the approval by the Sangguniang Panlungsod and Mayor San Pedro of supplemental budgets in 2007 for 11 infrastructure projects amounting to P238.07 million.
Dolleton further alleged that the 11 infrastructure projects were approved without sufficient funds available. He also said the respondents conspired to approve the projects by disregarding rules and regulations covering the approval and bidding process.
With these, Dolleton said the respondents violated the Anti-Graft and Corrupt Practices Act (RA 3019), Government Procurement Reform Act (RA 9184), Local Government Code (RA 7160), and the Act Defining and Penalizing Plunder (RA 7080).
Mayor San Pedro and other respondents submitted all documents including receipts, minutes of pre-bidding conference, abstract of bids, contracts and performance bonds to prove that there was no anomaly in the approval of the projects.
The projects approved included sidewalk improvement, streetlights, road repairs, bus landing terminal, water tank and asphalt overlay and concrete blocking implemented all over Muntinlupa.
In its decision, the Ombudsman said Dolleton “failed to tender proofs to controvert the contents and authenticity” of the documents submitted by the mayor and other respondents.
It upheld that, “Even the bidding process relative thereto appeared to be regular as evidenced by the orders of payment and official receipts.”
The Ombudsman pointed out that Dolleton “failed to sufficiently substantiate” that the projects were overpriced and that San Pedro and other respondents accumulated unlawful wealth.
“The undisputed completion of the contested projects showed that the government did not sustain undue injury I the furtherance thereof. Neither was there proof to establish the claim (by Dolleton) that the contracts covering the transactions in issue were disadvantageous to the government,” the Ombudsman’s decision read.
“Wherefore, premises considered, let the instant complaint against all the respondents be, as it is hereby, dismissed,” the Ombudsman ruled.
Besides Mayor San Pedro, other officials who were acquitted in the case were former councilors Icasiano Dela Rea, Melchor Teves, Allan Rey Camilon, Marita Calalang, Ma. Luisa Babaran-Echavez, Francis Ian Bagatsing, Marissa Cole-Rongavilla, Mamerto Sevilla Jr. and Rey Bulay.
Also cleared were incumbent Councilors Amy Patdu-Labios, Luvi Constantino, Vergel Ulanday, Robert Abas, and Joselito Arevalo.
The Ombudsman also acquitted City Administrator Roberto Bunyi, chairman of the Bids and Awards Committee (BAC); BAC members Vicente Navarro, Michael Racelis, Peter Salonga and Sonia Laureta; Budget Officer Avelino Orellana, former Muntinlupa City Treasurer Nelia Barlis, City Accountant Edwin Suitado and members of the BAC Technical Working Group and BAC Secretariat.
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Muntinlupa Mayor Aldrin San Pedro wants the Philippine National Police (PNP) to sack two policemen assigned in the city who were arrested through an entrapment operation when they tried to extort money from a junk shop owner in Tunasan.
The complainant, Oscar Espinoza, owner of Espinoza Junkshop located in Tunasan, Muntinlupa, and the National Police Commission (Napolcom) Regional Office filed charges of extortion against SPO1 Alfredo Mendoza and PO3 Celestino Delos Santos.
The two policemen were arrested by an entrapment team from the Napolcom Regional Office and the Regional Intelligence and Investigation Division with the assistance of the crew of TV program “Imbestigador” last March 9.
“The Philippine National Police should immediately dismiss the two policemen if they are found guilty of the charges. Let them pay for the crime they committed,” Mayor San Pedro said.
Mendoza and Santos are assigned at the Muntinlupa Police Traffic Enforcement Unit.
Following the incident, Police Senior Supt. Elmer Jamias, Muntinlupa Police chief, immediately relieved the two from their posts and are now on floating status and reassigned at the Admin Holding Section of the Muntinlupa Police while the investigation is ongoing.
“Let them pay for the crime committed and may the lesson derivable from this said event serve as a stern warning to other men in uniform, including all those in public service,” Mayor San Pedro declared.