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Antique mayor Lomugdang cleared of graft raps over market supplies

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The Sandiganbayan has cleared Culasi, Antique Mayor Joel Lomugdang of grave misconduct charges over the alleged anomalous purchase of supplies for the municipal public market office worth P9.862 million in 2010.

The anti-graft court’s Second Division found Lomugdang not guilty of complaint for violation of Sec. 3(h) of Republic Act 3019 or the Anti-Graft and Corrupt Practices Act.

“In other words, accused mayor’s participation in the whole transaction was certainly not the actual and direct participation that would render him liable of the Anti Graft Law,” its ruling read. (https://dailyguardian.com.ph/culasi-mayor-cleared-of-graft-raps/)

In a 10-page resolution signed by Assistant Special Prosecutor Anna Isabel Aurellano in 2015, Lomugdang was guilty of grave misconduct for the procurement of supplies for the municipal public market office from a supplier that has been indebted to the mayor.

A check amounting to P9.862 million paid by the municipal government to NK Enterprises was endorsed and deposited to the bank account of YL Trading, which is owned by the mayor and his wife.

Several other checks issued by the municipality to NK Enterprises were eventually deposited in the account, according to the Ombudsman.

Lomugdang said the amounts were in payment for a P10-million loan of Nestor Kho Yute, owner of NK Enterprises, contracted on January 18, 2010.

He also insisted that the procurement was done in good faith and followed procedures.

But, the Ombudsman said the “creditor-debtor relationship necessary makes respondent Lomugdang financially interested in the (debtor’s) business and financial transactions….”

Lomugdang also “intervened” in the procurement process by signing purchase request, purchase order and issued the check, the resolution stated.

The Sandiganbayan, however, ruled the prosecution failed to establish the guilt of Lomugdang beyond a reasonable doubt.

“In the instant case, the prosecution failed to prove the presence of the actual intervention of the accused in his official capacity as mayor in the purchase of supplies and materials for the public market from NK Enterprises where he has an alleged indirect pecuniary interest” the anti-graft court said.

The purchase of the supplies for the public market has complied with the implementing rules and regulations of the Government Procurement Reform Act.

“It was not proven that such procurement procedures were manipulated by the accused in order to benefit NK Enterprises because he was its creditor,” the reso stated.