Sandiganbayan OKs graft raps vs Navy officials

Posted at 09/03/12 8:03 PM

MANILA, Philippines - Two Philippine Navy officials will have to stand trial for graft charges over the alleged anomalous purchase of medical supplies, according to the Sandiganbayan 1st Division.

The court has dismissed the motions filed by Navy Commanders Rosendo Roque and Ramon Renales who sought to dismiss the cases against them.

In an 8-page resolution, the Sandiganbayan affirmed the multiple counts of graft filed by the Office of the Ombudsman in 2010 against Roque and Renales over the alleged spurious purchase of medical supplies more than 20 years ago.

First Division chairman Associate Justice Efren N. dela Cruz penned the ruling that was concurred in by Associate Justices Rodolfo Ponferrada and Rafael Lagos.

Roque and Renales, who were part of the Navy Bids and Awards Committee/Procurement Committee along with retired Navy Flag Officer Mariano Dumancas, retired Commodore Lamberto Torres and retired Captains Alfredo Penola and Walter Briones, are accused violating the Anti-Graft and Corrupt Practices Act for allegedly binding the government in several grossly disadvantageous contracts with pharmaceutical suppliers.

They are also accused of causing the government undue injury by declaring a false emergency to avoid mandatory public bidding.

A Commission on Audit report said 5 procurement contracts for antibiotics, pain relievers and cough and cold medicines between November 1991 and April 1992 were falsely certified as urgent and suppliers were declared "sole distributors."

Roque, who is facing 10 counts of graft, claimed that prosecutors illegally split the charges.

He claimed that this will violate rules against double jeopardy.

"The Court finds that accused Roque's claim of double jeopardy should be denied. While it is true that the charges against him proceeded from the same transaction, it is however possible that two or more separate and individual offenses may arise therefrom," the Sandiganbayan ruling said.

The court also dismissed Renale's argument, saying the dismissal of a case for insufficiency of evidence should be invoked only after the prosecution has rested its case.