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Former Cebu mayor walks free, cleared of graft over ‘overpriced’ school computers

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by Allan Yves Briones

Lapu-Lapu City’s former mayor Arturo Radaza was found not guilty of graft, as key evidence presented by the prosecution regarding the former’s alleged bidding misconduct fails to stick.

“Undue injury is caused to the government or any party when it sustains actual loss or damage, which must exist as a fact and cannot be based on speculations or conjectures,” the Sandiganbayan 7th Division stated in a recent decision.

In 2005, Radaza reportedly procured 470 desktop computers worth P23.48 million, coming out at P49,950 apiece, for the use of the city’s public schools.

The former mayor was hounded by the Office of the Ombudsman, finally filing a case in 2014 asserting that the units were substandard and overpriced by P12.62 million, perpetuated due to the relationship between the city government and private company Kein Enterprises and its manager Jennet Valencia.

In its complaint, the prosecution charged Radaza with violating Section 3(e) of Republic Act No. 3019 or the Anti-Graft and Corrupt Practices Act for the “excessive” transaction, presenting evidence from the Commission on Audit.

However, the anti-graft court sided with the former mayor, ruling that the prosecution failed to establish the alleged undue injury which was brought about by the grant of the contract.

In addition, the court was not convinced by to the prosecution’s attempt to prove the overpricing of the desktop units, explaining that the evidence from the state auditing agency only dealt with the missing specifications.

Alongside Radaza, 16 other individuals were similarly acquitted including the former city legal officer, budget officer, treasurer, Bids and Awards Committee members, and Valencia.

The decision was written by Division Chairperson Ma. Theresa Gomez-Estoesta, concurred by Associate Justices Zaldy Trespeses and Georgina Hidalgo. #