Aug 30, 2007

Joey Marquez posts bail, will appeal Sandigan decision

Former Paranaque mayor Joselito "Joey" Marquez posted a P240,000 bail Thursday afternoon, and said he will file an appeal after he and three co-accused were
found guilty of graft by the Sandiganbayan.
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The bail was posted hours after the Sandiganbayam Fourth Divisionhad sentenced the comedian actor up to fifty years imprisonment over the anomalous "broom deal" worth over P2.9 million.

In a 30-page decision, the graft court ruled that Marquez and three other former city officials caused undue injury to the government because of the anomalous deal.

The walis tingting (brooms) were overpriced by P462,708, the Commission on Audit (COA) found.

These were purchased from January 1996 to September 1997 during Marquez's tenure as Parañaque mayor.

"A perusal of the prosecution's evidence would readily reveal … that the local government of Parañaque was seriously prejudiced by the transactions under review. The transactions were entered into in violation of existing COA regulations," the Sandiganbayan ruled.

It added that, "This Court is convinced that the transactions entered into by Parañaque City relative to the walis tingting are manifestly and grossly disadvantageous to the government."

With his conviction on five counts of graft, Marquez could be jailed for a period of 30 to 50 years.

The three former city officials who were also found guilty are Silvestre de Leon (city treasurer), Marilou Tanael (city accountant), and Ofelia Caunan (officer-in-charge, general services section).

Marquez and the three co-accused were ordered to each post P90,000 bail bonds, as well as P150,000 additional cash bonds.

They were instructed to reimburse the P462,708, or the deal's overpriced value.

GMA News' Flash Report said Marquez already posted bail. The report also said Marquez's lawyer Noel Malaya filed a motion for reconsideration.

Radio station dzMM reported that Marquez was driven to tears when the decision was read.

Sought for comment, Marquez said some facts about the transaction may have been overlooked.

"We respect the decision of the Sandiganbayan, but this is a process that we have to take. We have to look on the decision and some of the findings, and probably include some of the findings that might not have been included," Marquez told dzBB radio in an interview.

For his part, Malaya said that, "the case is still sub judice and our ethics proscribe us from making any comment."

Associate Justice Jose Hernandez penned the verdict while Associate Justices Rodolfo Ponferrada and Gregory Ong concurred.

The Sandiganbayan sided with Director Cornelio Somido and prosecutor Karen Funelas of the Office of the Special Prosecutor.

Somido and Funelas repeatedly brought before the graft court's attention the Parañaque government's failure to hold a public bidding for the deal.

"The court cannot ignore the obvious truth displayed by the (prosecution) evidence. There is no evidence on record that the accused attempted to conduct public bidding," the decision read.

The COA found that 31,334 "extra-sized" brooms were overpriced by P4 each, while the prices of 24,098 "extra large" brooms were jacked up by P14 each.

Taxpayers paid P14 and P25 for each of the smaller and larger brooms, respectively.

Acquitted for insufficiency of evidence were three other respondents, namely former city budget officer Flocerfida Babida, mayor's office staff Ailyn Romea and trader Antonio Razo.

Razo owns ZARO Trading, which entered into several purchase contracts with the Parañaque government.

The 46-year-old Marquez served as mayor of Parañaque from 1995 to 2004. He also served as the city's vice mayor from 1992 to 1995.

Marquez was also a professional basketball player who played for Great Taste and Gilbey's Gin (now the Ginebra Gin Kings).


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