THE Sandiganbayan has acquitted Cotabato Gov. Emmylou J. Taliño-Mendoza of graft charges over fuel purchases by the provincial government from a gas station allegedly owned by her mother in 2012.
The ruling penned by Associate Justice Geraldine Faith A. Econg with Associate Justices Efren N. De La Cruz and Edgardo M. Caldona cited the prosecution’s failure to show evidence supporting that Taliño- Mendoza allegedly used her position to give undue advantage to the gas station of her mother to supply fuel for heavy equipment machineries deployed for infrastructure projects.
According to the anti-graft court, the provincial government’s Bids and Awards Committee (BAC) and not the governor chose the supplier after a canvass of various gasoline stations in the province was held.
At the same time, the defense team of Taliño-Mendoza presented during the trial that cost was only one of the factors in choosing the supplier as the BAC also had to determine volume capacity, distance from the project site, and conformity to deliver on credit.
The ruling added that enough space to accommodate the heavy equipment during refueling was also given importance as the vehicles included a road grader and four dump trucks used by the provincial government during rehabilitation projects.
“It should be emphasized that the accused did not choose which mode of procurement should be used in the purchase of fuel. It was the Bids and Awards Committee through its Resolution No. 0855... that recommended for the purchase of fuel through direct contracting,” the ruling stressed.