By Czarina Nicole Ong Ki
The Sandiganbayan Fifth Division has denied the motions for reconsideration filed by former National Irrigation Administration (NIA) Administrator Carlos Somblingo Salazar and his co-accused, who wanted to file a demurrer to evidence to their graft charge and challenge the prosecution’s evidence as weak.
Salazar and Vice President for Engineering Ricardo Khan Jr. and Authorized Representative Greg Tupaz Jr. of A.M. Oreta & Co. Inc. were charged for violating Section 3(e) of R.A. 3019, the Anti-Graft and Corrupt Practices Act, in relation to the reportedly anomalous P98 million construction of the Libmanan-Cabusao Diversion Dam.
Sometime between April 17 to May 11, 2009, Salazar was accused of acting with evident bad faith and gross inexcusable negligence when he confederated with the officials of A.M. Oreto and issued a Notice of Award to the company.
He executed a Contract of Agreement on May 8, 2009 with the company then issued a Notice to Proceed on May 11, 2009 in connection with the construction of the Libmanan-Cabusao Diversion Dam project.
This was done despite the absence of the prior approval to implement the project from the National Economic Development Authority – Investment Coordination Committee as required under Executive Order No. 230 and Revised ICC Guidelines and Procedures.
On June 13, the anti-graft court denied their motions for leave to demurrer to evidence. They filed their separate motions for reconsideration – Salazar on July 13, and Khan on June 28.
Salazar disputed in his MR that the Libmanan-Cabusao Diversion Dam project, which is a national infrastructure project, does not require a NEDA ICC approval for it involves a project funded by the national government.
Khan, on the other hand, said that the task of securing the NEDA ICC approval is not the responsibility of the private individual.
But the anti-graft court believed otherwise. Since Khan belongs to “a reputable general contracting and general engineering construction company known for its experience in big ticket projects of the national government,” the court ruled that he “is expected to conduct due diligence before submitting its bid” and check with the provisions of R.A. 9184 or the Government Procurement Act.
“All things considered, both accused Khan Jr. and Salazar failed to present cogent and compelling reasons in their respective motions which would merit the reconsideration of the assailed resolution,” the resolution read.
The five-page resolution was written by Chairperson Rafael Lagos with the concurrence of Associate Justices Maria Theresa Mendoza-Arcega and Maryann Corpus-Mañalac.