Police try to arrest Syjuco for P60-M Tesda graft case

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SYJUCO

ILOILO CITY—Police on Thursday tried to arrest Augusto “Boboy” Syjuco Jr. at his home in Sta. Barbara, Iloilo, in connection with the graft charges Syjuco is facing at the Sandiganbayan.

But Syjuco, former congressman and director general of the Technical Education and Skills Development Authority (Tesda), was not at home on Rodriguez Street in Sta. Barbara town when police tried to serve the warrant for his arrest.

Syjuco, instead, sent one of his men to the town’s police station to present a copy of an order releasing him after he posted a P90,000 bail at the antigraft court on Aug. 27.

The warrant for Syjuco’s arrest was issued on Aug. 26 by Associate Justice Roland Jurado, presiding justice of the the Sandiganbayan’s fifth division, in connection with the graft charges filed against Syjuco and several others.

The charges are in connection with the alleged overpricing, by as much as P61 million, of Tesda training materials when Syjuco headed the agency.

The Public Services Labor Independent Confederation, a group of government workers, filed the case against Syjuco in 2009, alleging irregularities in the purchase of equipment for two Tesda programs—the Ladderized Education Program and Nordic Development Fund.

The complaint was based on a March 12, 2009, report of the Commission on Audit, which found that training tools bought by Tesda under Syjuco were overpriced by P60,964,195, with the excess costs ranging from 4 to 42,723 percent per item.

The report said the delivered items were substandard and not used by Tesda training and regional offices.

Among those found overpriced were a pair of video discs on meat processing that were bought for P306,250, although they cost just P715; a dough cutter bought for P48,507, but which actually costs only P120; and an incubator jar bought for P15,375, but costs only P149.

Syjuco, who lost in the May 2013 elections, has repeatedly denied wrongdoing. He had said he stopped the payment to the supplier of the materials and initiated an investigation.

A close ally of former President and now Pampanga Rep. Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo, Syjuco accused the Aquino administration of political persecution.

The Sandiganbayan earlier issued a hold departure order against Syjuco and 10 others, mostly Tesda officials and employees facing the charges.

Syjuco, his wife, former Iloilo Rep. Judy Syjuco, and two others are also facing a separate graft charge for the 2005 disbursement of P20 million from the pork barrel of then Rep. Judy Syjuco through Tesda for a project implemented by a nongovernment organization founded by Syjuco.

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