a group of people posing for the camera: GMA News photo from 2017 GMA News photo from 2017

The Sandiganbayan has acquitted former Makati Mayor Elenita Binay of graft and malversation over the local government’s P45-million purchase of beds and sterilizers for the Ospital ng Makati in 2000 and 2001.

In a 149-page decision promulgated June 10, the anti-graft court’s Special Third Division said the prosecution failed to prove the guilt beyond reasonable doubt of Binay in connection with irregular transactions with Apollo Medical Equipment and Supplies.

The cases stemmed from Makati City’s March 2001 purchase of P36.43 million worth of hospital beds and cabinets and December 2000 procurement of P8.83 million worth of sterilizers from Apollo. Binay also chaired the Committee on Awards at the time.

The purchases were made without competitive public bidding and under the pretext that Apollo was the exclusive distributor of the said products.

In its ruling, the Sandiganbayan said there was “no clear evidence to show that the accused-members of the Committee on Awards disregarded the rules on procurement by relying on the recommendations of the Committee on Canvass.”

“The reliance of the Committee on Awards on the recommendations of the Committee on Canvass falls short of the degree of criminal liability demanded by Republic Act No. 3019,” it added, referring to the Anti-Graft and Corrupt Practices Act.

The former Makati Committee on Canvass members accused in the same case were Conrado Pamintuan, Jaime De los Reyes, and Nestor Bulos.

The Sandiganbayan said the Committee on Canvass could have found out that Apollo was not an exclusive distributor of the purchased medical supplies if only it had done its job instead of relying on recommendations from the requisition officer.

“This simply proves that members of the Committee on Canvass acted with gross inexcusable negligence by being totally remiss in their respective duties and functions under the Local Government Code of 1991,” the court said.

Pamintuan and Delos Reyes were found guilty of graft but acquitted of malversation over both the 2000 and 2001 purchases.

The decision was penned by Associate Justice Bernelito Fernandez while Associate Justices Ronald Moreno, Oscar Herrera Jr., and Alex Quiroz concurred.

Associate Justice Amparo Cabotaje-Tang dissented, arguing that there were “more than adequate bases” to find members of the Committee on Awards “equally grossly and inexcusably negligent” in their performance of their duties.

Binay camp 'relieved'

Binay's counsel welcomed the ruling.

“We are relieved that after more than 10 years, this case is finally over,” lawyer Sandy Coronel said. “The Ospital ng Makati has meantime, through those many years, established itself as vital to the City’s service to its citizens, and Dra. Binay is proud to have founded it.”

“Let this be a vindication for all local government executives who dare to dream big for their LGUs despite the risk that political opponents will get in the way,” Coronel added.?— BM, GMA News

This article Elenita Binay acquitted of graft, malversation in OsMak case was originally published in GMA News Online.

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