Court rejects Bistek plea for dismissal of graft case

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Metro Manila (CNN Philippines, June 7) — The Sandiganbayan has junked former Quezon City Mayor Herbert "Bistek" Bautista's plea for the outright dismissal of a graft case filed against him over an alleged anomalous solar power system project.

In a resolution signed on Wednesday, the anti-graft court's Third Division said Bautista's motion to quash the case lacks merit.

The case stems from the payment of over ₱25 million to Cygnet Energy Power Inc. for the installation of a solar power system and waterproofing at one of the buildings of the Quezon City Hall despite the company's failure to comply with certain project requirements.

READ: Ombudsman files 2 graft charges vs ex-QC mayor Herbert Bautista

In his motion to quash, Bautista argued that signing the disbursement voucher for the release of payment does not automatically mean he acted to favor Cygnet.

He also pointed out that a public bidding was conducted in compliance with procurement laws. Bautista added that possible irregularities in the bidding could not be attributed to him as he is not a member of the Bids and Awards Committee.

But the Sandiganbayan said these issues require the presentation of evidence and are best taken up during a full-blown trial.

Bautista also said his right to the speedy disposition of cases was violated as it took the Ombudsman three years to file the case in court.

The court, however, said this was a reasonable amount of time for the investigating prosecutor to carefully evaluate the complaint.

"This court also recognized the COVID-19 pandemic that gripped the world and made a significant impact on the timeline of the events of this case, particularly when quarantines and lockdowns were imposed," the court added.

Bautista is facing another graft case before the Sandiganbayan's 7th Division over alleged irregularities in a ₱32.1 million permitting and tracking system project.