6 ex-TESDA officials cleared in graft case

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Metro Manila (CNN Philippines, September 13) — The Sandiganbayan has cleared six former officials of the Technical Education and Skills Development Authority (TESDA) of six counts of graft and corruption that stemmed from a 2007 procurement case.

In its 60-page decision dated September 11, the anti-graft court found former TESDA officials Teodoro Sanico, Ernesto Beltran, Buen Mondejar, Juanito Belda, Francis Fang, Maximiano Montemayor not guilty, as the prosecution failed to establish their guilt beyond reasonable doubt.

Prosecutors accused the former officials of entering into various "grossly and manifestly disadvantageous" contracts that led to overpricing of various training and testing tools and equipment by 4% to 42,732%.

The malicious procurement was allegedly made by the accused under the Ladderized Education Program of TESDA.

The following are the amount of contract and program involved cited in the decision that the accused allegedly entered into:

- ₱69,287,426.40 (LEPTES-03)

- ₱96,669,171.88 (NDFTES-03)

- ₱113,033,072.03 (LEPTES-02)

- ₱24,147,504.57 (LEPTES-03)

- ₱34,232,873.24 (LEPTES-02)

- ₱21,395,545.78 (LEPTES-02)

But according to the Sandiganbayan, it was the TESDA board that made a deal with V.G. Roxas Company and not the accused.

"Unless conspiracy is adequately established, the accused cannot be held liable," the court ruling read.

"Unfortunately for the prosecution, they failed to convince this court that, indeed, the accused conspired with one another in committing the crimes charged," it added.

The Sandiganbayan added that the actions of the accused in the assailed transactions as members of the TESDA Bids and Awards Committee (BAC) and its Secretariat "are too removed from the anomalies that allegedly attended and tainted the same."

These actions include: overpricing of the training tools and equipment, the delivery of defective, low quality, unnecessary or otherwise inoperable training tools and equipment, and the approval and the actual payment of TESDA funds in favor of the V.G. Roxas Company, for the training tools and equipment.

"The duties of the accused as members of the BAC and Secretariat have nothing to do with the foregoing acts constituting the offenses charged," the court ruled.

In the course of the proceedings, five other respondents – former TESDA chief Augusto Syjuco Jr., Rogelio Peyuan, Antonio Del Rosario, and Vicente Roxas – died. The Sandiganbayan said the cases against them were dismissed on account of their death.