Sandiganbayan orders arrest of North Cotabato gov

DAVAO CITY (MindaNews/26 April) — The Sandiganbayan First Division issued a warrant of arrest Tuesday against North Cotabato Gov. Emmylou “Lala” Taliñoo-Mendoza for a case involving a procurement of diesel by the provincial government.

The anti-graft court said “sufficient grounds exist for the finding of probably cause for the purpose of issuing a warrant of arrest against the accused.”

In a resolution last April 8, Ombudsman Teresita Carpio-Morales found probable cause to charge the governor for the procurement in 2010 of diesel worth P2.4 million for 49,526.72 liters.

The fuel, purchased from a gas station owned by the governor’s mother, was used for one road grader and four dump trucks during a two-day road rehabilitation work.

No public bidding took place, Morales said. But Gov. Mendoza explained it was the only gasoline station which agreed to “accommodate the credit term requested by the provincial government.”

Section 3(e) of R.A . No. 3019 states: “A public officer is prohibited from causing any undue injury to any party, including the Government, or giving any private party any unwarranted benefits, advantage or preference in the discharge of his official administrative or judicial functions through manifest partiality, evident bad faith or gross inexcusable negligence.”

The Ombudsman’s resolution said: “…[Respondent] made it appear that the diesel fuel was procured and used in a government project when in truth, only a small portion of the fuel was actually used and the rest was converted to cash for the benefit of those who were involved in the fraudulent transaction.”

It further noted that “the great disparity between the estimated 552 liters of diesel actually consumed for the two-day road maintenance project in Magpet vis-à-vis the 20,833 liters actually paid for, is proof that the fuel-purchase transaction is illegal and that this transaction is obviously a scheme to pocket government funds.”

Aside from the arrest warrant, the Sandiganbayan also issued a hold-departure order against Mendoza. (Antonio L. Colina IV/MindaNews)