Sandiganbayan orders arrest of former Koronadal mayor for graft

KORONADAL CITY (MindaNews / 13 Apr) – The Sandiganbayan has ordered the arrest of former city mayor Fernando Miguel after the Supreme Court upheld his conviction for graft in connection with the construction of the public market here in 1995.

Lawyer Dennis Pulma, executive clerk of the Sandiganbayan third division, said Friday the court issued a warrant of arrest against Miguel “for the execution of judgment” based on its decision promulgated on Feb. 29, 2016.

The Sandiganbayan found Miguel “guilty beyond reasonable doubt” of violating Section 3(e) of the Anti-Graft and Corrupt Practices Act (Republic Act No. 3019) for rigging the procurement of the architectural and engineering design, construction supervision, and management of the proposed Koronadal public market in 1995.

The court sentenced the former mayor to a prison term of 6 to 10 years, with perpetual disqualification from public service.

Pulma said the Supreme Court decided against an appeal made by Miguel in a ruling dated Sept. 25, 2017, which was received by the Sandiganbayan on Jan. 26, 2018.

He said the Sandiganbayan third division ordered the issuance of the arrest warrant and cancelled Miguel’s bail bond last Feb. 6.

“There’s already an entry of judgment from the Supreme Court so the warrant of arrest was issued (against Miguel),” he said in an interview over radio station Brigada News FM here.

The arrest warrant was relayed by the court to the Koronadal City police station, Criminal Investigation and Detection Group (CIDG)-South Cotabato and the National Bureau of Investigation.

Pulma said the court has not yet received a report from concerned law enforcement agencies regarding the serving of the arrest warrant.

There were no docketed reports so far in the concerned police units regarding the status of the arrest order against the former mayor, who is the father of incumbent city mayor Peter Miguel.

But last week, South Cotabato Gov. Daisy Avance-Fuentes initially disclosed that an arrest warrant has been issued against “a prominent former official” in the area but could not confirm if it was already served.

Miguel lost to Fuentes in his bid for the province’s top post in the 2013 and 2016 elections.

He was reportedly considering a comeback at the city hall after the incumbent mayor’s third straight term ends next year.

Case records showed that that the former mayor, who was chairman of Koronadal’s prequalification, evaluation and awards committee in 1995, “orchestrated” a scheme that favored contractor Independent Executive and Consultants Inc. (Index) for consultancy services without actual public bidding.

The court said Miguel made it appear “that a bidding for consultancy services actually took place [through] fake copies of Taliba showing the invitation to bid and dubious or fabricated bid documents.”

In a statement, the Office of the Ombudsman said prosecutors established that the invitation to bid issued in July 1995 was fabricated and that Miguel used forged pre-qualification bid documents to award the contract to Index, through its president Gaspar Nepomuceno.

It also turned out that the Sangguniang Bayan resolution for the project was secured only after contract had been awarded.

In its 22-page decision, the Sandiganbayan said “[t]he truth was, accused Miguel had, from the very beginning favored only Nepomuceno and that all efforts were made so that the consultancy services will be awarded to the latter.” (MindaNews)