THE Philippine anti-graft court Sandiganbayan has dismissed the graft charges filed against former Makati City Mayor Elenita Binay due to the failure of government prosecutors to prove their case beyond reasonable doubt.
The case stemmed from the alleged anomalous purchase of office partitions and furniture worth P21.7 million during Ms. Binay’s term as the city’s chief executive.
In a 90-page decision, the anti-graft court’s Fifth Division, in a 3-2 vote, granted the demurrers to evidence filed by Binay and her co-accused—former city administrator Nicanor Santiago Jr., former General Services Department head Ernesto Aspillaga and Asia Concept International Corporate Officer Bernadette Aquino—saying the prosecution failed to prove beyond reasonable doubt that they are guilty of graft.
The decision was penned by Fifth Division Associate Justice Roland Jurado and concurred by Associate Justices Samuel Martires and Jose Hernandez while Associate Justices Ma. Theresa Dolores Gomez-Estoesta and Geraldine Faith Econg dissented.
Binay, wife of former Vice President Jejomar Binay, was charged with graft for supposedly rigging the bidding for the procurement of P21.7-million worth of office partitions and furniture in 2000 in favor of Asia Concept International Inc.
The Office of the Ombudsman, which filed the case, said the supposed manipulation of the bidding resulted in excess purchases worth P5.9 million and/or overprice amounting to P2.7 million.
In dismissing the graft case, the Sandiganbayan said the prosecution failed to “satisfactorily establish” that Binay acted with evident bad faith in awarding the contract to Asia Concept, that she conspired with company officials, and that she caused undue injury to the government through the deal.
The Sandiganbayan also said the prosecution’s arguments over the alleged overpricing and excessive purchase wanting because of the methods it used to substantiate their claims.