Ombudsman files 2 new graft raps vs ex-QC mayor Herbert Bautista, ex-administrator

By Jennifer T. Santos 

QUEZON CITY — The Office of the Ombudsman has filed before the Sandiganbayan two more graft and corruption charges against former Quezon City mayor Herbert Bautista over projects worth more than ₱57 million.

The Office of the Ombudsman also accused Bautista’s city administrator, Aldrin Cuña, of violating Section (3) of Republic Act No. 3019 or the Anti-Graft and Corrupt Practices Act involving two anomalous government projects in 2019.

Bail of ₱90,000 each for Bautista and Cuna was recommended. Both have not made any comment on the charges.

Records from the Sandiganbayan showed that Bautista and Cuña have posted bail.

The charge sheets were prepared by Assistant Special Prosecutor III Lyn Dimayuga and approved by Ombudsman Samuel Martires.

Among those listed by the Ombudsman as its witnesses for the cases were lawyer Carlo Austria of the city legal department, city internal auditor Noel Emmanual Gascon, city council secretary John Thomas Alferos III and the occupational licensing division under the business permit and licensing department officer-in-charge Ramon Jesus Africa.

According to the criminal information signed by Ombudsman Samuel Martires, Bautista and Cuña allegedly released public funds amounting to ₱25.3 million to Cygnet Energy and Power Asia for solar power system and waterproofing works for the Quezon City Civic Center, despite the firm’s failure to secure a Net Metering System from Meralco.

The Ombudsman added that the payment was released based merely on an undated certificate of acceptance issued by Cuña.

The second case alleged both former officials of facilitating and approving the release of ₱32.1 million to Geodata Solutions Inc. for procurement of a permitting and tracking system.

Bautista and Cuña purportedly entered into the contract with the IT firm despite lacking a specific appropriation ordinance enacted by the Sangguniang Panlunsod.

The Ombudsman said Bautista entered into a contract with Geodata and approved the release of payment to the latter despite the absence of a specific budget appropriation ordinance enacted by the city council.

Instead, the Ombudsman said, Cuña signed the purchase request and the obligation request to make it appear that the release of the fund was lawful and under his direct supervision.

Furthermore, the Ombudsman said, full payment was made to Geodata “without complete delivery of the project.”

Based on the charge sheets, payments to both Cygnet and Geodata were approved by Bautista on June 27, 2019 or three days before he stepped down from office after his three terms as mayor.