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Versoza, 5 others convicted for graft over rubber boats mess

Alvin Murcia



Former Philippine National Police (PNP) chief Jesus Verzosa and five others were convicted by the Sandiganbayan of graft in connection with the anomalous purchase of P131.5 million worth of police rubber boats (PRBs) and outboard motors (OBMs) in 2009.

The Sandiganbayan Third Division in a decision promulgated 25 June, sentenced Verzosa and fellow PNP officials Benjamin Belarmino Jr., Jefferson Soriano, Luizo Ticman, Romeo Hilomen, and Villamor Bumanglag to six to eight years imprisonment.

Aside from the jail time, the anti-graft court also perpetually disqualified them from holding public office.

Former Police Director Ronald Roderos, member of the PNP National Headquarters (NHQ)-Bids and Awards Committee (BAC), on the other hand was acquitted of graft “for failure of the prosecution to prove his guilt beyond reasonable doubt.”

Also dismissed by the Sandiganbayan was the case against former BAC member and Police Chief Superintendent Herold Ubalde on account of his death.

The case stemmed from the PNP’s purchase of 75 PBRs and 93 OBMs from EnviroAire Inc., Geneve SA Philippines, and Bay Industrial Philippines Corp. even though the suppliers did not pass the eligibility tests.

Three suppliers delivered the procured items that failed to meet the specifications set by the National Police Commission and were not functionally compatible.

“The accused NHQ-BAC officials recommended the award of the supply contract to co-accused Verzosa, who approved the same. Hence, all the accused are responsible for the functional incompatibility of the PRBs and OBMs delivered,” the court said.

The verdict said Verzosa should have noticed the financial weakness of the suppliers and functional incompatibility of the PRBs and OBMs, but he kept silent that showed manifest partiality toward the ineligible suppliers.

Associate Justice Bernelito Fernandez penned the decision, while Associate Justices Amparo Cabotaje-Ang and Ronald Moreno concurred.