Bataan Gov. Garcia, 10 others charged with graft in Sandiganbayan

Posted at 10/31/08 12:37 AM

Two counts of graft were filed before the Sandiganbayan Wednesday against Bataan Governor Enrique Garcia and ten co-accused for allegedly signing over to a private corporation at least 49 percent of the province’s interest in the Bataan Shipyard and Engineering Co. (Baseco), P60 million escrowed rental proceeds and 49 percent of all future earnings of the property. 
Indicted along with Garcia were former vice governor Benjamin Alonzo; incumbent provincial board members Edgardo Calimbas, Eduard Florendo, Edward Roman, Orlando Miranda, Rodolfo Izon and Manuel Beltran; former board members Fernando Austria and Rodolfo Salandanan; and Balanga City councilor Dante Manalaysay.
Graft prosecutor Clarisa Tejada recommended the indictment of the 11 accused which was approved by Overall Deputy Ombudsman Orlando Casimiro. 
Tejada asked the graft court to set the defendants’ bail bond at P30,000 for each count. 
Based on the complaint filed by Oscar delos Reyes, a resident of Mariveles, Bataan, the accused incumbent and former board members passed a resolution authorizing Garcia to negotiate with the Presidential Commission on Good Government (PCGG) and Baseco to partition the disputed assets. 
Baseco is subject of a separate legal action, Civil Case No. 0010, still pending before the Sandiganbayan naming former Tacloban City mayor Alfredo Romualdez, the Marcoses and several others as defendants. 
In 1988, the provincial government publicly auctioned a number of Baseco’s assets for the company’s failure to pay real property taxes. Baseco was given a year to redeem its properties but it failed to do so. 
In 1989, Bataan won a case at the regional trial court for the transfer of Baseco’s assets to the name of the province. 
From 1990 to 2001, the Baseco properties were leased out to port operators and earned some P60 million which was placed in escrow after the PCGG lodged its own claim in behalf of the national government. 
In a resolution dated June 22, 2005, the Supreme Court encouraged all parties to explore the possiblity of entering into a compromise agreement on the disposition of the disputed properties to obviate costly litigation. 
But regardless of the High Court’s directive, the Ombudsman said the defendants’ actions violated their mandate to safeguard the interest of the province of Bataan by preserving its assets.

"This conveyance of Baseco properties to a new corporation is tantamount to entering into a contract manifestly and grossly disadvantageous to the Province of Bataan. The reduction of ownership over Baseco properties likewise caused undue injury to the province," the Ombudsman declared.