ILOILO – Former mayor Frankie Locsin failed to secure a favorable ruling from the Supreme Court where he appealed his February 2015 conviction for graft at the Sandiganbayan.
The Sandiganbayan found him and five others guilty beyond reasonable doubt of violating Section 3(e) of the Anti-Graft and Corrupt Practices Act or Republic Act 3019.
The Supreme Court denied with finality Locsin’s motion for reconsideration to the high court’s earlier ruling to deny his petition for review on certiorari.
“…(A)nd considering that the basic issues have already been passed upon to warrant a modification of this Court’s resolution, the Court resolves to deny reconsideration with finality.”
The graft case stemmed from medicine purchases of the local government of Janiuay using P15 million from Sen. Vicente Sotto’s Priority Development Assistance Fund (PDAF) way back in 2001.
The medical supply contract was awarded to a supplier whose accreditation was suspended by the Department of Health (DOH) thus making it supposedly unqualified to join the bidding.
Aside from Locsin, the Sandiganbayan First Division also convicted Accountant Carlos Moreno Jr., Budget Officer Ramon Tirador, Treasurer Luzviminda Figueroa, Ricardo Minurtio, and businessman Rodrigo Villanueva.
The Sandiganbayan sentenced them to a jail term of from six to 10 years and perpetual disqualification from public office.
Locsin could not be reached for comment as of this writing.
According to Janiuay vice mayor Joseph Anthony Lutero, the Supreme Court issued an entry of judgment thru Librada C. Buena, Division Clerk of Court, on March 20, 2019 yet.
“The Court finds…conspiracy between accused public officials (and) members of the municipal Committee on Awards of Janiuay…as shown by their respective signatures in the Minutes of Meetings which awarded the subject procurement of medicines in favor of AM Europharma and Mallix Drug which gave undue advantage to accused Rodrigo Villanueva, owner and proprietor of said companies,” part of the anti-graft court’s decision read.
The 34-page Sandiganbayan decision dated Feb. 23, 2015 was penned by Associate Justice Rodolfo Ponferrada and concurred by First Division Chairman Efren dela Cruz and Associate Justice Rafael Lagos.
The Sandiganbayan further stated that “there was unanimity of purpose and intent on the part of said accused officials to consummate the said procurement in favor of accused Rodrigo Villanueva as shown by the undue haste that attended the delivery of the medicines and the speed with which the payments for the said medicines were made…and even without the latter or his companies posting the required 10 percent performance bond, knowing fully well that there was a failed bidding because of AM Europharma’s DOH suspended supplier’s accreditation, that the government was not able to secure the lowest possible price for the said bidders…”
At the time of the transaction Locsin was the president of the provincial league of municipalities. Janiuay served as conduit of the medicine purchases. However, the Commission on Audit (COA) disallowed it.
BACKGROUND OF THE CASE
The Office of the Ombudsman investigated the medicine purchases. There was supposedly a bidding on Jan. 15, 2001, with three participants – AM Europharma Corp., Mallix Drug Center and Philpharmawealth Corp.
Philpharmawealth, however, denied participating in such a bidding.
The Ombudsman also took note of the apparent haste in the process. A P1.7-million purchase contract was awarded to Mallix Drug Center while AM Europharma was awarded with a P13.1-million contract.
Locsin approved the contracts, the Ombudsman said, and the medicines were immediately delivered the following day, Jan. 16, 2001.
On Jan. 17, 2001, the purchases were fully paid after inspection by Supply Officer II Gabriel Billena.
The Ombudsman further discovered that the heads of the AM Europharma Corp. and Mallix Drug Center were one and the same – Rod D. Villanueva, further raising questions on the propriety of the transaction.
According to the Ombudsman, Villanueva was the sole proprietor of Mallix Drug Center and also the general manager and president of AM-Europharma./PN