Cebu officials linked to P24.4-M pork barrel scam convicted of graft | Inquirer News

Cebu officials linked to P24.4-M pork barrel scam convicted of graft

/ 05:04 AM May 21, 2022

CEBU CITY—An incumbent House representative, a former congresswoman and a provincial board member in Cebu province, and five others were found guilty by the Sandiganbayan of allegedly misappropriating P24.4 million in pork barrel funds in 2002.

Cebu Provincial Board Member Celestino Martinez III and Rep. Paz Radaza of the lone district of Lapu-Lapu City on Friday said they would be filing a motion for reconsideration in a bid to overturn their conviction by the antigraft court.

“Decision isn’t final yet and our lawyers will file a motion for reconsideration,” said Martinez, a village chief of Cayang in Bogo City in northern Cebu who currently represents the province’s Liga ng mga Barangay (Association of Barangay Councils) in the Cebu provincial board, on Friday.


Anzen Dy, Radaza’s legal counsel, said they would also avail of legal remedies to set aside the decision against the lawmaker, stressing that his client was charged in her capacity as the former treasurer of the Girl Scouts of the Philippines (GSP)-Cebu from 2000 to 2003, and not as a congresswoman.


Abundantly clear

On May 17, the Sandiganbayan convicted Celestino, his mother and former Rep. Clavel Asas-Martinez, Radaza and five others of graft and malversation for allegedly misappropriating the Priority Development Assistance Fund (PDAF) intended for the GSP-Cebu.

Convicted of three counts of graft and three counts of malversation were Clavel and Celestino; Rhett Minguez and Cresencio Verdida, who were treasurer and accountant, respectively, when Bogo was still a municipality; and GSP-Cebu officers Rhodariza Kilantang and Julieta Quino.

The antigraft court ordered their imprisonment from 18 to 30 years on all counts of graft and perpetual disqualification from holding any public office. Their retirement benefits would also be forfeited.

All the accused were also sentenced to 24 to 51 years in prison each for three counts of malversation.

GSP-Cebu treasurer Maria Cielo Martinez, daughter of Clavel, was also found guilty of one count of graft and one count of malversation. Radaza, who served as GSP-Cebu treasurer when the alleged irregularities were committed, was found guilty of two counts of graft and two counts of malversation.

The Martinezes—Clavel, Celestino and Maria Cielo—Minguez, Verdida, Kilantang and Quino were ordered to pay a fine of P10 million each in one malversation conviction.


Except for Maria Cielo, the accused were also ordered to pay a fine of P14.4 million for two malversation convictions. They were also ordered to reimburse the government through the Bureau of Treasury the amount of P14.4 million.

The case against another GSP officer, Alejandrita Meca, was archived since she remains at large.

“All things considered, it is abundantly clear to this court that all the accused herein conspired with accused Clavel Martinez and are therefore adjudged guilty beyond reasonable doubt of malversation of public funds,” read the May 17 decision penned by Associate Justice Kevin Narce Vivero and released on Thursday. Sixth Division chair Sarah Jane Fernandez and Associate Justice Karl Miranda concurred with the ruling.

The eight were accused in 2002 of allegedly conniving to misappropriate P14.4 million of Clavel’s PDAF intended for the antidrug campaign of GSP-Cebu after it was found that the funds went to the bank account of Clavel, who served as congresswoman of Cebu’s fourth district from 1998 to 2007.

Court records showed that Clavel withdrew through a check payable to “cash” the amount of P7.5 million on June 13, 2002. Simultaneously, Clavel gave the GSP-Cebu P400,000, which was deemed as a “donation.”

On Sept. 18, 2002, Clavel again withdrew P7.5 million through a check payable to her. The former lawmaker then gave another “donation” of P200,000 to the GSP-Cebu.

In 2003, some P10 million of Clavel’s PDAF fund was also allegedly misappropriated.

‘I am innocent’

Radaza, in a Facebook post on Friday, insisted she was innocent and that she only performed her job as GSP-Cebu’s treasurer.

“In truth, I don’t understand the decision. I signed the check because that is the work of the treasurer. I did this after I checked that there is enough funds and this was for a good cause—the antidrug campaign,” she said in Cebuano.

She added that she would file a motion for reconsideration to the ruling “so that my innocence would be proven.”

According to the Sandiganbayan, the prosecution failed to present evidence that would suggest that Radaza benefited financially from the transfer and withdrawal of funds but that she could still be held liable as she signed two vouchers and two checks, which enabled Clavel to withdraw the P15 million from GSP-Cebu’s bank account. —NESTLE SEMILLA

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READ: What Went Before: Pork barrel scam

TAGS: Cebu, Graft, Pork barrel

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