The Firm scored a major victory last September 14, 2018, when the Sandiganbayan (the Philippines’ anti-graft court) handed down a verdict of NOT GUILTY in the case involving North Cotabato Governor Emmylou T. Mendoza. She was cleared of all charges under Section 3(e) of Republic Act No. 3019 (or the Anti-Graft and Corrupt Practices Act).
The case stemmed from allegations that Governor Mendoza approved the purchase of fuel from the Shell Station allegedly without the conduct of public bidding. The Court, in acquitting Governor Mendoza ruled that the prosecution was not able to prove the crucial elements of manifest partiality or evident bad faith. Nor could preference, unwarranted benefit and advantage be derived from the evidence of the prosecution which was rebutted by evidence of the defense.
The Court said that Governor Mendoza, when she approved the Bids and Awards Committee (BAC) Resolution recommending direct contracting as the mode of procurement for fuel, could rely on the BAC’s recommendation especially when the BAC resolution appears regular on its face. There was no mention to whom fuel would be awarded to, nor did she participate in the request for quotes, canvassing and negotiations with the fuel suppliers. It was also noted that the prosecution was unable to sufficiently show the fact of the registered owner of the fuel supplier.
Governor Mendoza was represented in the trial by our Atty. Thea T. Daep, Senior Partner. The Firm’s Managing Partner, Atty. Alejandro Alfonso E. Navarro also formulated the defense legal strategy. Other members of the Firm who handled the trial are Senior Associates Dianne Marie V. Roa-Oarde and Via Monina G. Valdepenas and Associates Carlo Augustine A. Roman, Joseph Thomas R. Ricalde and Antonio Rafael B. Ongkeko, Jr.
Just two months before, or in July 2018, Atty. Daep, representing former Camarines Sur Governor Luis Villafuerte, Sr. also successfully argued for the dismissal against him citing inordinate delay and the violation of the constitutional right to speedy disposition of cases. The Motion for Reconsideration that was subsequently filed by the prosecution has since been denied. Senior Associate Rashel Ann C. Pomoy and Associates Elaine A. Atienza and Ronald K. San Juan complete the team that handled this matter.
Atty. Daep recently formed the Firm’s Anti-Money Laundering, Fraud and Other Investigations Department. This practice group handles this type of cases and in the very short time since its inception, has already won several dismissals before the Office of the Ombudsman. The practice group also handles appeals before the Commission on Audit.