The Cebu City regional trial court (RTC) has set for Jan. 19 the pre-trial on the graft case filed against six officials of the Department of Public Works and Highways in Cebu province.
Accused in the graft charges were Florida Pangilinan-Nuñez, acting chief of Cebu 5th District Engineering Office; Eduardo Virtucio, bids and awards committee (BAC) chairman of the DPWH engineering office; Stephen Eric Castrodes, BAC vice chairman; and Lito Catubig, Rogelio Quibilan, and Violeto Orbeta.
They have posted bail for their temporary liberty after arrest warrants were issued by Judge Grace Veloso-Fernandez of Cebu City RTC Branch 19.
The civil aspect of the case has been referred for mediation before the Philippine Mediation Center on Nov. 14, 2022.
The six DPWH officials pleaded not guilty upon arraignment, claiming that statements issued by the complainant Pablito Obial, owner of P.B. Obial Construction, in his complaint filed in June 2022 were all “hearsay and self-serving.”
They six DPWH officials were charged of “deliberately and evidently” declared P.B. Obial Construction as post-disqualified from five government projects despite being declared as having the lowest calculated bid in a December 2019 bidding for the province’s flood control program.
On Sept. 13, 2022, the Cebu City Prosecutor’s Office filed an information (criminal charge sheet) against the DPWH officials after finding a probable cause to indict them with violation of Section 3 (e) of Republic Act No. 3019, the Anti-Graft and Corrupt Practices Act.
The prosecutor’s office alleged that the accused DPWH officials connived “with deliberate intent and acting with manifest impartiality” in declaring P.B. Obial Construction as post-disqualified from the five government projects which the latter have participated in despite being declared as having the lowest calculated bid for all the five biddings.
It also alleged that the construction company suffered undue injury in violation of RA 3019.
Verified records at the Department of Justice (DOJ) showed that the appeal of the DPWH officials from the ruling of the prosecutor’s office was denied on July 22, 2022.
The denial prompted the prosecutor’s office to follow up the case that led to the scheduled Jan. 19 pre-trial.
Under the law, RTCs have co-equal jurisdiction with the Sandiganbayan on graft cases for government officials and employees with Salary Grade 26 and below.