Graft raps vs. ex-guv, 3 others dismissed

Corruption allegations against the former Capiz governor Esteban Evan Contreras have been dropped by

the Office of the Ombudsman.

The Sangguniang Panlalawigan's allegations against Contreras, former provincial administrator Edwin

Monares, and former head of Roxas Memorial Provincial Hospital Dr. Edmarie Tormon were dismissed

by the Ombudsman for lack of merit in a 28-page ruling dated February 20, 2023.

The case against Nizzi Billedo of NGB Marketing, an entrepreneur and medical supplier, was also

dismissed for lack of jurisdiction.

The four were accused of violating the Government Procurement Reform Act (RA 9184), the Anti-Graft

and Corrupt Practices Act (RA 3019), and Article 217 of the Revised Penal Code, which prohibits the

misappropriation of public funds or property.

The complaint stemmed from the findings of SP based on the committee hearings conducted by the

Committee on Appropriations in relation to the request of Contreras for the supplemental appropriation

of funds amounting to P79,106,780 procured by the NGB Marketing, particularly dialysis package B

worth P5,728,000 and Dialyzer with surface area of P1,499,000.

According to the Ombudsman, “there is insufficient evidence that public respondents were either

directly or indirectly, interested for personal gain, or had material interest in the subject procurement

projects. They only discharged the functions of their office and there is no evidence showing that they

did not perform their duties with regularity. Moreover, the procurement for hemodialysis supplies was

urgently needed by RMPH in view of the alarming increase in the number of patients requiring

hemodialysis brought by the pandemic. And contrary to the allegation of complaint, the transactions

with NGB Marketing were not shown to be manifestly unlawful, inequitable or irregular.”*