A former Department of Agriculture-Davao City official, Godofredo Ramos, has been cleared of a graft case filed against him in connection with the purchase of P4.89 million worth of liquid fertilizer.
The Sandiganbayan cleared the official, who was accused of purchasing the item without public bidding. The anti-graft court said in a 13-page decision the prosecution failed to prove the official’s guilt beyond a reasonable doubt.
The decision, dated December 7 but released only on January 5, said the prosecution failed to show that then DA-Davao City Administrator Godofredo Ramos acted with manifest partiality, evident bad faith, or gross inexcusable negligence in awarding the P4.89 million fertilizer contract to RCS Trading.
Under the questioned direct contracting deal, the DA bought Florida Green Gold Foliar Fertilizer at P1,500 per bottle.
In the same decision, the antigraft court lifted the hold departure order it issued against Ramos as well as ordered the refund of the amount he deposited in bail.
“The prosecution’s theory is that accused Ramos acted in conspiracy with accused [Regional Executive Director Roger] Chio [of DA Davao City] and accused [Reynato] Sarmiento [of RCS Trading], but no proof was offered to show the alleged conspiracy. It was not shown that the accused had conspired with one another to benefit from the procurement,” the Sandiganbayan said.
“It has been consistently held that conspiracy must always be proven and if it cannot be established by direct evidence, the totality of evidence must be strong enough to show a community of criminal design,” it added.
Although the contract was “irregularly awarded” to RCS Trading via direct contracting despite the absence of requirements allowing such a scheme, the court said such irregularity “is not tantamount to committing graft.”
“An irregularity in the bidding process does not always constitute manifest partiality, evident bad faith, or gross inexcusable negligence which is an essential element of a violation of Section 3.e of Republic Act 3019 (Anti-Graft and Corrupt Practices Act). The prosecution still has the duty to prove the elements of Sec. 3 (e) of RA 3019,” the Sandiganbayan said.
It also said the prosecution also failed to back up its allegation that RCS Trading was not an exclusive distributor of the said fertilizer and that another distributor, identified as Jozeth Trading, exists.
“The prosecution failed to prove this allegation as it only offered a sworn statement/certification to try to prove this fact. The prosecution could have offered more convincing evidence that other distributors offered the same, if not a similar product,” the anti-graft court said.
“The bare signatures of accused Ramos in the BAC. Resolution and in the Notice to Bidder for Sealed Canvassing are insufficient for a conviction. Wherefore, for the failure of the prosecution to prove the guilt of the accused beyond a reasonable doubt, Godofredo Ramos is hereby acquitted of violation of Sec. 3 (e) of Republic Act 3019. No civil liability is hereby adjudged,” it added.