Iloilo mayor, 8 others plead guilty to lesser offense in scam
MANILA, Philippines — The Sandiganbayan Seventh Division has accepted the guilty plea of Mayor Alex Centena of Calinog, Iloilo, and eight others, for the offense of failure of an accountable officer to render accounts, in connection with their involvement in an allegedly anomalous purchase of liquid fertilizers worth P999,000.
Aside from Centena, others who pleaded guilty were former municipal officials Valentin Sobretodo, Meriam Celeste, Crispino Castro, Jose Rex Casipe, Melanie Hilario, Rhoda Lyn Panizales, Jose Edeso Enriquez and Anna Lerio Caspillo.
Centena and his coaccused were earlier charged with graft, but through a plea bargain entered with the Office of the Ombudsman, they agreed to plead guilty to the lesser offense.
In a decision dated April 11, the antigraft court accepted their guilty plea, and ordered Centena and his coaccused to pay P5,000 each and P999,000 as civil liability.
“The court has satisfied itself that the accused has fully understood the nature and consequence of their change of plea. Let a plea of guilty be reentered into the record of the case,” said the decision written by Associate Justice Ma. Theresa Dolores Gomez-Estoesta. Associate Justices Zaldy Trespeses and Georgina Hidalgo concurred with the decision.
The case stemmed from their conspiracy to buy more than 600 bottles of fertilizer from Feshan Philippines Inc. without proper public bidding. —Patricia Denise M. Chiu
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