Anti-graft court acquits Joey Marquez over ammunitions deal
MANILA, Philippines – The anti-graft court Sandiganbayan on Thursday, January 22, acquitted actor and former Parañaque City Mayor Joey Marquez of graft charges over the purchase of ammunitions, which the Ombudsman alleged were overpriced.
Marquez was charged with 3 counts of plunder as a result of the Commission on Audit (COA) report that the city of Parañaque during his term had purchased 2,000 rounds of ammunition from an unaccredited company in 1996, 1997, and 1998 that was overpriced by P1.219 million.
In its decision, the Sandiganbayan Second Division found that Marquez's signatures on the transactions were forged.
"Based on the foregoing discussion, therefore, the Court believes that the signature of accused Marquez on the documents covering the questioned transactions were not really his, thus warranting the inevitable conclusion that he had no participation in the questioned transactions," the decision read.
The case is an offshoot of the case on the infamous walis tingting (broomstick) deal, where Marquez was accused of purchasing brooms worth up to P3 million without public bidding.
Alleged anomalies on the ammunitions deal were uncovered while COA was auditing the walis tingting transaction. Marquez was also acquitted of graft charges on the brooms deal twice – by the Supreme Court in 2009, and by the Sandiganbayan in 2011.
In its decision, the Sandiganbayan's 2nd division ruled that Marquez and his fellow accused Ofelia Caunan, former purchasing officer of Parañaque city, did not conspire to gain from the transactions due to the "non-participation" of Marquez in the deal.
The Ombudsman accused Marquez and Caunan of acting in bad faith by splitting the purchase of the ammunitions into 3 batches worth P510,000, P1,275,000, and P294,000 without proper bidding.
The court found that although a public bidding was only conducted for the first batch worth P510,000, the city of Parañaque conducted a "personal canvass" of prices for two other purchases.
On whether the deal caused undue injury to the government, the court ruled that the COA report was inadmissible as evidence because it was unable to obtain a price quotation from the registered dealer. The disbursement vouchers used in the report also did not contain any descriptions of the ammunitions purchased.
In the walis tingting deal, the Supreme Court also declared the COA report as hearsay evidence.
Marquez welcomed the decision. He said the entire saga showed the perils of politics and that life is better as a private citizen. He said he has no plans to re-enter politics in 2016.
Marquez is presently part of the cast of television show Forevermore on ABS-CBN. – Rappler.com