Thu. Jul 29th, 2021

The Sandiganbayan anti-graft court on Friday found six former police officials, including former Philippine National Police (PNP) chief Jesus Verzosa, guilty of corruption arising from a P131.5-million contract for the purchase of rubber boats in 2009.

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In its 88-page decision written by Associate Justice Bernelito Fernandez, the Sandigan Third Division sentenced Versoza; former PNP Deputy Director General Benjamin Belarmino Jr.; Deputy Director General and bids and awards committee (BAC) head Jefferson Soriano, also the current mayor of Tuguegarao City; Director and BAC vice chair Luizo Ticman; Director and BAC member Romeo Hilomen; and Chief Superintendent and BAC member Villamor Bumanglag to six to eight years in prison, as well as perpetual disqualification from holding public office.

They were involved in the procurement of 75 police rubber boats (PRB) and outboard motors (OBM), a project prompted by the lack of water assets of the PNP maritime group as observed during Typhoon Ondoy on Sept. 26, 2009.

They were charged for abandoning the required public bidding and resorting to unjustified negotiated procurement, leading to “functional incompatibility” and “non-usability of the PRBs with the OBMs.”

A technical working committee also cited deficiencies such as the weight of the boats being too light for the power of the motors, missing paddles, non-compliant life rings, as well as holes in at least five of the rubber boats.

All the accused committed acts with evident bad faith, manifest partiality or at the very least, gross inexcusable negligence that gave unwarranted benefit, advantage, and preference to suppliers EnviroAire Inc., Geneve SA Corp., and Bay Industrial Phils. and caused undue injury to the government, the decision stated.

Retired Director Ronald Roderos was acquitted for the failure of the prosecution to prove his guilt, while former Chief Supt. Herold Ubalde died last year.

Roderos claimed he was not part of the negotiation committee.

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