The Supreme Court has affirmed the Sandiganbayan’s decision that sentenced Romblon town Vice Mayor Mariano Mateo, former mayor Leo Merida, and eight other former local officials to 10 years in prison in connection with the alleged anomalous procurement of heavy equipment.
In a resolution released on August 22, the Supreme Court stated that the respondent’s gross negligence caused undue injury to the government and the municipal residents.
“The municipality suffered damage representing the contract price of the backhoe loader and interest on the loan as residents of the municipality still have not benefitted from the wasted funds that could have been spent to meet the exigencies of public services and to address the more pressing needs of constituency,” the court resolution said.
“This Court finds Leo G. Merida, Melben M. Mesana, Gerry M. Mijares, Mariano.M. Mateo, Francisco G. Mayor, Jr., Chris G. Mazo, Ramon M. Magallon, Edler M. R9bis, Rafael R. Riano, and Bryant R. Riano GUILTY beyond reasonable doubt of violating Section 3 (e) of Republic Act No. 3019, as amended.” according to the resolution.
The case against former Romblon vice mayor Nonito Mallen was dismissed due to his death.
The case, filed by the Office of the Ombudsman in 2010, originated from the municipal government’s purchase of a backhoe amounting to P13.95 million in November 2005 without public bidding. Merida was the mayor while Mateo was a councilor at the time. Investigation revealed that a check payment to the supplier was issued on December 28, 2005, but the backhoe was delivered only on September 13, 2006.