Ex-Cebu airport chief convicted of graft over overpriced fire truck

MANILA, Philippines – Former Mactan-Cebu International Airport Authority (MCIAA) general manager Adelberto Yap was convicted of graft and sentenced to 12 to 18 years in prison over an overpriced fire truck for the airport.

Yap can appeal the conviction. He was also perpetually disqualified from public office.

Bids and Awards Committee (BAC) chairperson Veronica Ordoñez, legal officer and BAC member Sigfredo Dublin, accounting division manager Maria Venus Casas, and private defendant Marlon Barillo, president of Asiaborders Philippines Incorporated, were sentenced to 6 to 10 years in prison for violation of Presidential Decree (PD) No. 1445 or the Government Auditing Code.

The case stems from a 2006 transaction where the MCIAA bought an aircraft rescue firefighting (ARFF) truck from contractor Asiaborders for $732,000 (P38.14 million) in 2006.

Yap was found guilty of a second graft charge for agreeing to pay $732,000 for the ARFF truck when the fair value was only $616,836.86 (P30.9 million), or an excess of nearly P8 million. Yap was the lone defendant in this case, thus the higher penalty.

The invoice issued by PT Ziegler Indonesia – the winning contractor – showed the value of the vehicle was only $616,836.86. While it was Ziegler which won the contract, it identified Asiaborders as its exclusive distributor.

On top of the overpricing, the court also found that the government underdeclared the value of the ARFF truck, which resulted in the collection of less taxes.

The import entry and internal revenue declaration put the value of the vehicle at only $80,105, with customs duties equivalent to P503,673.

"It bears noting that the P503,673 was less than one-fifth of the expected taxes which the government could have collected had the true value of the importation been declared," the court said.

The other officials were found guilty of Section 88 of PD No. 1445 for making an advanced payment of P6 million although no item had been delivered yet. 

The ARFF truck was also delivered 6 months later than the date of the contract, but the MCIAA failed to collect damages which could have also earned the government P3.966 million.

The decision was penned by Associate Justice Ronald Moreno, with concurrences from Presiding Justice Amparo Cabotaje Tang and Associate Justice Bernelito Fernandez. – Rappler.com