MANILA – The Sandiganbayan on Thursday acquitted former Makati City Mayor Elenita Binay of graft and malversation charges arising from alleged irregularities in a PHP45-million transaction for Ospital ng Makati (OsMak) in 2000 and 2001.
The anti-graft court’s Special Third Division ruled that “the prosecution failed to prove that the subject medical equipment and supplies purchased were either non-existent or that they were not delivered or converted to personal use by the accused”.
It said there can be no misappropriation since the funds were used for a public purpose for the purchase of the medical equipment and supplies, despite irregularities in the procurement process.
“Hence, there being no sufficient evidence of misappropriation of public funds against all the accused, they cannot be held liable for malversation,” the court said.
One of the contracts involved a PHP36.431-million deal with Apollo Medical Equipment and Supplies for 172 hospital beds; 202 bedside cabinets; 10 intensive care beds; and four orthopedic beds.
The second contract with the same supplier was for six dry heat sterilizers worth PHP8.83 million.
Also acquitted were former Makati City General Services Department head Ernesto Aspillaga, city accountant Dulce Cruz, and city treasurer Luz Yamane-Garcia.
Former city budget officer Virgilio Clarete died before the proceedings were terminated.
Supply officer Conrado Pamintuan and administrative officer Jaime Delos Reyes, members of the Committee on Canvass which screened the suppliers, were found guilty of graft but acquitted of malversation.
The two admitted that they visited the medical supplies showroom of Apollo Medical but did not ascertain other possible suppliers.
They secured proposals only from Apollo Medical because it represented itself as the exclusive distributor of the products requested by OsMak.
“Had the Committee on Canvass performed their avowed duty of canvassing rather than merely relying on the recommendation, it could have found that Apollo Medical was not an exclusive distributor of the medical equipment and supplies,” the court said. (PNA)