Sandiganbayan reduces Baja’s prison term
The Sandiganbayan has reduced the prison term of the country’s former permanent representative to the United Nations, Lauro Baja Jr., in connection with the alleged misuse of the Philippine mission’s insurance payments totaling $17,547.27 in 2006.
In a 17-page resolution, the court’s Fourth Division voted 4-1 to reduce Baja’s sentence to a minimum of eight years and four months and a maximum of 17 years and four months.
This is almost a decade shorter than the sentence of 16 to 27 years previously handed down by the court in its April 13 decision that found Baja guilty of one count each of graft and malversation.
Monetary fine doubled
The reduction of the penalty arose from President Duterte’s enactment of Republic Act No. 10951, which adjusted the penalty thresholds set by the Revised Penal Code for malversation to account for the discrepancy in the value of money since 1954, when it was last amended.
Although he was meted a shorter sentence, Baja’s monetary penalty was doubled. He was originally ordered to pay a fine equivalent to the misappropriated amount, but the court said he would have to separately refund that same amount to the government.
Baja was found guilty of converting the insurance payouts of the Philippine Mission to the United Nations for his personal benefit.
Instead of depositing the checks to the official bank account, Baja allegedly created a separate account to which only he had access.
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