Former Misamis governor found guilty of graft

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MANILA, Philippines–Former Misamis Oriental governor Antonio Calingin has been convicted of graft by the Sandiganbayan for using the province’s resources and manpower in a project undertaken outside the province by a private company owned by his family in 2003.

In its decision dated March 4, the antigraft court’s 2nd Division found Calingin guilty beyond reasonable doubt of violating the Anti-Graft and Corrupt Practices Act, and handed down an indeterminate sentence of six years and one month to 10 years imprisonment, and perpetual disqualification from public office.

Calingin was accused of giving unwarranted benefit to the family-owned Grain Resources Development Corp. by allowing the use of the heavy equipment and manpower of the provincial government for the repair, construction and rehabilitation of a three-kilometer road in San Miguel, Talakag, Bukidnon. The road led to a farm being managed and developed by the family corporation.

The Ombudsman, who filed the case with the antigraft court, said the project was beyond the territorial jurisdiction of Misamis Oriental and was undertaken to the damage and prejudice of the provincial government.

The Sandiganbayan agreed with the Ombudsman that all three elements of the applicable section of the antigraft law were present: the accused was a public officer discharging administrative, judicial or official functions; he acted with manifest partiality and evident bad faith or gross inexcusable negligence; and his action caused undue injury to any party, including the government.

It cited the testimonies of prosecution witnesses, among them Rodrigo Bagares, the heavy equipment operator in the provincial engineer’s office who testified that he brought out and operated the heavy equipment that was used for the road in Bukidnon.

The office of the provincial treasurer said it had no record of any payment for the use of the equipment.

In 2003, the Office of the President found Calingin guilty of dishonesty, gross negligence and grave abuse misconduct and suspended him for six months without pay.

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