Local officials convicted of PDAF misuse to bring case to SC
CEBU CITY, Cebu, Philippines — Some of the eight accused recently found guilty by the Sandiganbayan for misappropriating P24.4 million in congressional funds are leaving their fate to the Supreme Court.
Incumbent Board Member Celestino “Tining” Martinez III, the Association of Barangay Captains-Cebu Federation president, said the decision of the antigraft court was not final yet as they intended to elevate it to the high tribunal hoping that it would overturn their conviction.
“We had foreseen this coming so we are set on filing our appeal to the SC,” he said in a text message to local reporters, without elaborating.
The Sandiganbayan, in a resolution promulgated on Oct. 12 but was released only recently, junked the motions for reconsideration filed by Celestino, a former mayor of Bogo, Cebu; his mother and former Cebu Rep. Clavel Martinez; and six others.
Associate Justice Kevin Narce Vivero, in a 21-page resolution, said the accused were guilty of conspiracy to defraud the Girl Scouts of the Philippines (GSP)-Cebu Council and the government of P24.4 million sourced from Clavel’s Priority Development Assistance Fund (PDAF) allocations in 2002 and 2003.
He denied the motion for reconsideration filed by the accused, citing lack of merit.
“The court has painstakingly taken a second hard look at the issues raised by accused-movants. Nonetheless, no substantial and compelling reason warrants the modification, much less the reversal, of the Court’s peremptory conclusion,” Vivero said.
Ready to fight
Paz Radaza, who served as GSP-Cebu treasurer when the alleged irregularities were committed, had yet to issue a statement to reporters.
But in earlier statements, Radaza, a former mayor and representative of Lapu-Lapu City, had maintained her innocence.
She stressed that she was charged in her capacity as the former treasurer of GSP-Cebu from 2000 to 2003, and not as a lawmaker.
“I signed the check because that was the work of the treasurer. I did this after I checked that there was enough funds and this was for a good cause,” Radaza said.
She said she was ready to fight it out until she could prove her innocence.
In May 2022, the Sandiganbayan convicted Clavel, Radaza, Celestino and five others for misappropriating P24.4 million in public funds from Clavel’s PDAF.
The amount was supposed to be used for the anti-illegal drug campaign of GSP-Cebu. Investigators discovered that the funds went to the bank account of Clavel who served as a representative of Cebu’s fourth district from 1998 to 2007.
Prosecutors traced the money being coursed through the then municipality of Bogo, now a city in northern Cebu.
Also convicted were former Bogo municipal treasurer Rhett Miguez, former municipal accountant Cresencio Verdida, GSP-Cebu bookkeeper Rhodariza Kilantang, and cashier Julieta Quiño as well as Maria Cielo, Clavel’s daughter and GSP-Cebu treasurer.
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