Ombud: Radaza is still facing 2 graft cases over lampposts-A A +A
Tuesday, January 29, 2013
DEPUTY Ombudsman for the Visayas Pelagio Apostol said Lapu-Lapu City Rep. Arturo Radaza and 12 other government employees accused are still not off-the-hook.
The Sandiganbayan’s fifth division, he said, dismissed only one criminal case against Radaza and his co-accused. There are still two pending cases in the anti-graft court’s first division, he added.
“We are saddened by the dismissal,” Apostol told reporters yesterday.
Radaza and the others were charged for the purchase of allegedly overpriced lampposts in 2007. Radaza was the mayor of Lapu-Lapu City then.
The other respondents in the case were Department of Public Works and Highways (DPWH) officials Robert Lala, Gloria Dindin, Marlina Alvizo, Pureza Fernandez, Agustinito Hermoso, Luis Galang, Restituto Diano, Buenaventura Pajo; Julito Cuizon, Fernando Tagaan Jr. and Rogelio Veloso of the Lapu-Lapu City Engineer’s Office; and Isabelo Braza, president of Fabmik Construction and Equipment Supply Company Inc.
Congressman Radaza said the dismissal of graft charges against him and other city officials proved that local government officials did not have anything to do with the purchase of the lampposts, as it was a project of the National Government.
“At last the court heard us when we questioned the conduct of the probe in 2007, at the height of a midterm election, because we were deprived of our legal rights to answer the complaints,” he said in a press statement yesterday.
But Apostol said the Office of the Special Prosecutor can petition the Supreme Court to reinstate the dismissed the case, if the judges committed abuse of discretion.
The Office of the Ombudsman-Visayas filed seven cases against Radaza and the others.
The cases stemmed from an investigation on the purchase of decorative lampposts that were installed along the streets of Cebu, Mandaue and Lapu-Lapu for the hosting of the 12th Association of Southeast Asian Nations (Asean) Summit in January 2007.
Apostol said four of the cases they filed were returned to them by the Sandiganbayan for reinvestigation.
When asked if there was something lacking in the cases they filed, he answered there was none.
“We don’t file cases without evidence at all,” he said. “Kung may deperensiya wala sa amin, nandoon sa kamay ng Office of the Special Prosecutor in Manila. Hindi dinadali ang filing nang kaso (If there was something wrong with them, it was with the Office of the Special Prosecutor in Manila.
The filing of cases cannot be rushed).”
“Kon nagkamali sila, dapat talaga silang parusahan (If they committed a mistake, they should be punished),” said Apostol.
In dismissing the case, the Sandiganbayan said the prosecution failed to submit enough evidence to prove that the Asean lampposts were overpriced and that the officials violated the Anti-Graft and Corrupt Practices Act.
Radaza said the refusal of the anti-graft office to provide them with the entire copy of their findings “has exposed the haphazard conduct of the probe.”
“I am very thankful to the Lord for justice has been served. I always believe that, in the end, truth will prevail,” Radaza said.
Rep. Tomas Osmeña (Cebu City, south district), however, believes there is enough evidence to prove that the lampposts were overpriced.
In a text message sent to Sun.Star Cebu yesterday, Osmeña said the program of works and estimates (POWE) for the purchase of the lampposts would show that the transaction was overpriced.
“The POWE was tailor-fit to a specific product,” he said.
Osmeña said he was not surprised with the Sandiganbayan dismissal.
Osmeña, who was mayor of Cebu City then, did not sign the lampposts deal, saying it was overpriced.
Published in the Sun.Star Cebu newspaper on January 29, 2013.