Sajid Ampatuan gets 128 years for graft
MANILA, Philippines – The Sandiganbayan has handed down a prison sentence of 128 years on Datu Sajid Islam Ampatuan, former mayor of Shariff Saydona Mustapha in Maguindanao, after convicting him for graft and malversation over the anomalous purchase of P79.75 million worth of food supplies.
In a 162-page decision promulgated on Oct. 10, the antigraft court’s First Division found Ampatuan guilty beyond reasonable doubt of four counts each of graft and malversation of public funds through the falsification of public documents.
On top of the prison term, he was also banned for life from holding public office.
Also convicted of the same charges was former Maguindanao budget officer Datu Ali Abpi Al Haj.
Ampatuan was appointed officer in charge (OIC) governor of Maguindanao in 2009 by his late father Andal Sr., who was not included in the case following his death on July 15, 2015.
As the OIC, Ampatuan and his coaccused made it appear that more than P79 million worth of public funds were used to purchase various food supplies, such as brown sugar and sardines, among others, although no actual purchase was made from the following suppliers: H&S Merchandise, Nestor Merchandise, N&S Merchandise, Isulan & General Merchandise and Tomani Enterprises.
According to the court, Ampatuan and the other respondent in the case “devised a large-scale plan to perpetuate the ghost projects” and “with a singularity of design of purpose.”
The court also noted that Ampatuan “streamlined” the ghost projects by granting cash advances to Osmeña Bandila, then provincial treasurer and a member of the bids and awards committee, in making the purchase.
“In fine, the concerted acts of the accused in emptying the coffers of the government through the ghost projects prove that they appropriated, took, misappropriated, consented or permitted another person to take funds from the IRA (internal revenue allotments),” read the decision penned by Associate Justice Geraldine Faith Econg.
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