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Sandigan upholds Mendoza indictment

The Sandiganbayan First Division has upheld the indictment of reelected North Cotabato Gov. Emmylou Talino-Mendoza over graft charges in connection with the alleged illegal purchase of P2.3-million worth of fuel from a gas station belonging to her mother in 2012.

“This Court has found that there is indeed probable cause to hold the accused for trial for violation of Section 3(e) of R.A. No. 3019 (Anti-Graft and Corrupt Practices Act),” the Sandiganbayan said in a seven-page resolution penned by Associate Justice Reynaldo Cruz and concurred in by Chairperson Efren dela Cruz and Associate Justice Frederick Musngi.

The anti-graft court denied Mendoza’s motion for judicial determination of probable cause which sought the dismissal of the three counts of graft filed against her.

The First Division pointed out that “to move the court to conduct a judicial determination of probable cause is mere superfluity, for with or without such motion, the judge is duty bound to personally evaluate the resolution off the public prosecutor and the supporting evidence.”

Under the charges, Mendoza is accused of having approved in 2012 the release of P2.3 million from the provincial funds to pay the Talino Shell gas station which was found registered under the name of her mother, Noemi.

The amount was used to pay for 49,526.72 liters of diesel fuel used by one road grader and four dump trucks in two-day road rehabilitation projects.

The Ombudsman which filed the cases discovered that no public bidding was conducted for the procurement of fuel which deprived the government of the opportunity to obtain the contract at a more advantageous terms.

Mendoza claimed that the gas station was directly contracted since it was “willing to accommodate the credit term requested by the provincial government.” (Jeffrey G. Damicog)