9 Sarangani board members convicted of malversation

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Saturday, February 15, 2014

MANILA -- The Sandiganbayan has convicted nine Sarangani provincial officials of malversation of public funds through falsification of public documents and sentenced them to suffer the penalty of reclusion perpetua or imprisonment of 30 to 40 years.

Those found guilty were provincial board members Cornelio Martinez Jr., Eugene Alzate, Lilebeth Canillo-Prospero, Hernando Sibugan, Juanito Purisima, Marlind Marcelo, Redempto Abiso, and Jesus Desedilla as well as Amelia Carmela Zoleta, executive assistant of former Vice Governor Felipe K. Constantino.

In a 33-page ruling, the Sandiganbayan said it found that on April 2, 2002, the province of Sarangani disbursed P475,000 as financial assistance to Sea Angels Aqua Marketing Cooperative (SAAMC) for "bagoong" production.

In a special audit, the Commission on Audit (COA) discovered irregularities and deficiencies in the supporting documents such as lack of accreditation papers, financial statements, corporate profile of SAAMC and financial or work plans to support the project.

The prosecution proved that the project was non-existent and that the intended beneficiary did not receive any amount, instead, the fund was pocketed by the accused.

The Sandiganbayan also ordered all the accused to pay a fine of P475,000 and to jointly and severally indemnify Sarangani province in the amount of P475,000.

The case against Constantino and Pyang L. Singcoy was dismissed in view of their death.

For accused Teodorico Diaz and Maria Deposo Camanay who are still at-large, the case was archived.

The case against co-accused Margie P. Rudes was also archived and to be disposed upon sufficient proof of death. (PNA)

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