Singson posts bail for 3 graft cases over fund releases to food firm
MANILA, Philippines — Former Ilocos Sur Governor Luis Chavit Singson posted bail totalling P90,000, on Wednesday, for the three graft cases that the Office of the Ombudsman had filed against him for the questionable use of P26 million in public funds in 2001.
Singson arrived at the Sandiganbayan’s Fifth Division accompanied by his counsels. His co-accused, former Governor Deogracias Victor Savellano, has yet to post bail.
The court set the arraignment for his case on October 30.
Singson, who served as governor of the province from 1998 to 2001, entered into four Memoranda of Agreement (MOAs) with Multi-Line Food Processing International, Inc. (MFPII) dated February 5 (P9.18 million), February 20 (P4 million), May 28 (P3 million) and June (P8 million), all in 2001.
The total releases amounting to P24.18 million were alleged to be intended to bankroll the company’s unspecified livelihood projects.
On the other hand, Savellano, Singson’s successor who served up to 2003, forged a similar agreement with Multi-Line Food in December 2001 for the grant of P1,880,500 in financial assistance.
The combined allocations totaling P26,060,500 were obtained from the province’s share of the portion of the proceeds of excise tax earmarked under Republic Act No. 7171 (An Act to Promote the Development of the Farmers in the Virginia Tobacco Producing Provinces).
The complainant, Estelita Cordero, chairperson of the Save Ilocos Sur Alliance (SISA) Foundation, alerted the Ombudsman on what she considered as an unlawful release of public funds by way of financial assistance to MFPII.
State prosecutors said the MFPII appeared to be a private corporation organized for profit and not intended to advance the interest of a specific cause or sector, as shown by MFPII’s Articles of Incorporation.
The information said Singson “acted with manifest partiality, evident bad faith or gross inexcusable negligence when they (local officials led by Singson) repeatedly entered into the MOAs and approved the successive release of public funds that gave unwarranted benefits to MFPII which was not qualified to receive such financial aid from government and whose purported projects were not subjected to the required inspection or audit (under the MOA) before the subsequent MOAs and fund releases were made.”
It added that the grant of financial assistance was against Republic Act No. 7160, which disallowed disbursements of public funds to private interests and Commission on Audit (COA) Circular No. 95-003, which regulates the extension of financial assistance to a non-government organization (NGO)/people’s organization (PO).
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