Sandiganbayan (File photo)
MANILA – The Supreme Court (SC) has directed the Sandiganbayan to proceed with the arraignment of the former mayor of Lapu-Lapu City, Cebu for graft charges arising from street lighting projects in 2006 for the 12th Association of Southeast Asian Nations (Asean) Summit.
In a 24-page decision published online on Oct. 27 and written by Associate Justice Ramon Paul Hernando, the SC dismissed the petition to quash information of Arturo Radaza.
“His arguments are too trivial to merit the quashal of the information, and too vacuous to justify the delay in the prosecution of this criminal case. This has fermented in the preliminary investigation stage of 13 long years. While unnecessary, this Court indulged in a wordy discourse on the baselessness of Radaza’s prolonged saga against the information filed by the Ombudsman, all for the purpose of finally ending the same. The Sandiganbayan is hereafter enjoined to fully dispose of the case with dispatch and without tolerance for further needless delays,” the SC ruled.
Radaza was sued in connection with the contract of 139 sets of street light poles amounting to PHP72,500 each and another 60 sets worth PHP85,500 each put up along the Mactan-Mandaue Bridge that connects the cities of Mandaue and Lapu-Lapu Lapu City.
Cebu province was designated as the venue of the 12th Asean Summit on Jan. 9 to 15, 2007.
Thadeo Ouano, the Mandaue mayor at that time, died in 2016.
In 2008, the Office of the Ombudsman for the Visayas received letters of complaints from various organizations, alleging irregularities in the contracts.
The agency later found prima facie evidence of overpricing resulting from the collusion among the winning bidders, private contractors, and the city governments of Mandaue and Lapu-Lapu.
The contract, the Ombudsman said, gave unwarranted benefits, advantages or preferences to the contractor, Fabmik Construction and Equipment Supply Co.
Former executives of the Department of Public Works and Highways Region 7 were sentenced last year to six to eight years imprisonment and perpetually barred from holding government office.
Radaza appealed and questioned, among other things, whether his mere signature on the Program of Works and Detailed Estimates sufficiently established probable cause against him.
“Jurisprudence has declared that matters that are evidentiary in nature are better threshed out in a full-blown trial on the merits,” the court said. (PNA)