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Ombudsman dismisses CICC case
By: Eleanor Valeros | Published Tuesday, January 5, 2021
The Cebu International Convention Center (CICC) today, from being a prestigious venue for big international events in 2006, is left to rot since the Bohol earthquake struck in 2013 followed by the wrath of typhoon Yolanda. A few years later, this was also sold by the previous Capitol administration to the Mandaue City Government. (Tonee Despojo)

Seeing that the construction of the Cebu International Convention Center (CICC) in Mandaue City was done with utmost impartiality, in reasonable price, and no unwarranted benefit, the Office of the Ombudsman dismissed the criminal charges against Governor Gwendolyn Garcia, ten other officials of the Cebu Provincial Government, and a private contractor.

“The items procured were reasonably priced and is within the standards set by COA (Commission on Audit). As such, there was no undue injury because the local government did not spend money more than it was supposed to and there was no showing that the respondents obtained benefits as a result of the transaction,” the decision read.

“Further, there were no unwarranted benefits given considering that the respondents gave sufficient justification in resorting to alternative modes of procurement and the materials were purchased at cost,” it continued.

The decision, dated December 14, 2020, signed by Ombudsman Samuel R. Marites, dismissed the criminal case filed against Governor Garcia and the Capitol officials for alleged violation of Section 3(e) of Republic Act No. 3019 concerning the public bidding, awarding, and construction of the CICC.

The other provincial officials are former Provincial Administrator Eduardo T. Habin, Provincial Treasurer Roy G. Salubre, former Provincial General Services Office Chief Bernard E. Calderon, former Provincial Legal Office Chief Marino D. Martinquilla, former Provincial Planning and Development Office Chief Adolfo V. Quiroga, Provincial Agriculturist Necias A. Vicoy Jr., Integrated Provincial Health Office Cristina B. Giango, Provincial Budget Office Chief Emme T. Gingoyon, former Provincial Environment and Natural Resources Office Chief Glenn F. Baricuatro, and former Provincial Engineering Office Chief Eulogio B. Pelayre.

In the decision, the Ombudsman acknowledged the elements that must be met to successfully prosecute a violation of Section 3(e) of RA 3019 or the Anti-Graft and Corrupt Practices Act.

These elements include the offender is a public officer; the act was done in the discharge of the public officer’s official, administrative, or judicial functions; the act was done thru manifest partiality, evident bad faith, or gross inexcusable negligence; and the public officer caused any undue injury to any party, including the government, or gave unwarranted benefits, advantage or preference.

The Ombudsman emphasized that, after a careful review of the records of the case and applicable case law, the third and fourth elements of the crime punishable under Section 3(e) of RA 3019 were absent. 

WT Construction Inc. Vice President Willy U. Te, the contractor of the CICC project, is likewise cleared of the charges.

The criminal complaint was filed by the Public Assistance and Corruption Prevention Office, Office of the Ombudsman (Visayas) with the Preliminary Investigation, Administrative Adjudication and Review Bureau of the Office of the Ombudsman in Diliman, Quezon City. (Eleanor Valeros)