In a unanimous decision penned by Justice Alex L. Quiroz, Chairperson of the Fourth Division of the Sandiganbayan, the anti-graft court acquitted retired Philippine Coast Guard (PCG) Commandant, Admiral Wilfredo D. Tamayo of the charge for violation of Section 3 (e) of the Republic Act No. 3019 or the Anti-Graft and Corrupt Practices Act.
Associate Justice Lorifel L. Pahimna and Associate Justice Bayani H. Jacinto concurred with the decision.
The Sandiganbayan magistrates said in the Decision promulgated on 17 September 2021 that “The Prosecution’s documentary evidence i.e. the Inspection and Acceptance Report and the inventory (TF SMART Equipment), together with the testimony of Lieutenant Alvarez could not support the conviction of the accused. As such, this Court finds that the accused, as a matter of course, is entitled to an acquittal.”
The said case stemmed from the complaint filed by the Field Investigation Office (FIO) of the Office of the Ombudsman against Admiral Tamayo for violation of Section 3 (e) of R.A. 3019 for paying in full the Special Maritime Advance Rescue Team (SMART) items despite the alleged incomplete delivery by the supplier, Joshwell Trading. This occurred during his term as the PCG Commandant and Head of the Procuring Entity (HOPE).
When asked for comment, defense counsel, Atty. Rony A. Garay said that his client, Admiral Tamayo welcomes the decision that vindicated him with the pronouncement of his innocence for the crime charged.
Garay said that in no uncertain terms, the anti-graft court ruled that: “Paragraphs 3 and 4 of Section 15, Chapter 8 of the Government Accounting Manual state that only when delivery is in order that the dates in the Inspection and Acceptance Columns will be indicated and the boxes with the notation ‘inspected, verified, and found in order as to quantity and specification’ and ‘completed’ will be ticked respectively and then finally signed by the Inspection officers/members of the Technical Inspection and Acceptance Committee.
Moreover, in the event that there is partial delivery only, the quantity delivered shall be declared and the undelivered items shall likewise be specified. In this case, nowhere in the Inspection and Acceptance Report can the enumeration of the undelivered items be found.
This only shows that the items were inspected and found to be in order as to quantity and specifications. Otherwise, the Inspection, as well as the Acceptance Column, shall not be dated, and most importantly, the responsible officials shall not sign the same. Had the delivery been incomplete, the inspectorate team would have specified what and how many items are missing. Most importantly, the incomplete items would have been returned to the supplier. Considering that the appropriate boxes were ticked accordingly and underneath the same were signatures of officers attesting to its veracity, this Court finds no reason to doubt what clearly appears in the document — that there is complete delivery and the items were inspected, verified, and found in order as to quantity and specification.
In criminal prosecution, the court is always guided by evidence that is tangible, verifiable, and in harmony with the usual course of human experience and not by mere conjecture or speculation. While guilt should not escape, innocence should not suffer.
Admiral Tamayo is a recipient of the Order of Lakandula Award from former President Benigno C. Aquino III. The Order of Lakandula is one of the highest honors given by the Philippine government to those who have shown leadership, prudence, fortitude, courage, and resolve in the service of the people.
The said retired PCG Commandant was also awarded the Plaque of Honorable Service by the Department of Transportation and Communications (DOTC), now the Department of Transportation (DOTr), for his exemplary public service.