9 Sarangani execs meted life for graft | Inquirer News
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9 Sarangani execs meted life for graft

By: - Reporter / @cynchdbINQ
/ 02:26 AM January 31, 2014

MANILA, Philippines—The Sandiganbayan on Thursday sentenced to life in prison two incumbent and seven former officials of Sarangani for malversation of provincial funds amounting to P475,000 in 2002.

Found guilty by the antigraft court’s First Division were incumbent Board Members Cornelio C. Martinez Jr. and Eugene L. Alzate, former members Lelibeth Canillo-Prospero, Hernando L. Sibugan, Juanito H. Purisima, Marlind L. Marcelo, Redempto Y. Abiso and Jesus H. Desedilla, and former executive assistant Amelia Constantino-Zoleta.

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Both Martinez and Alzate are political allies of Sarangani Rep. Manny Pacquiao.

In addition to the life terms, the nine were ordered to each pay a P475,000 fine and to jointly indemnify Sarangani province in the amount of P475,000. They were also disqualified from holding public office.

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The 33-page decision was penned by Associate Justice and First Division chair Efren N. de la Cruz.

The court gave credence to the eyewitness account of Mary Ann G. Gadian, a computer operator in the office of the late Vice Gov. Felipe K. Constantino, who testified about the siphoning off of the funds.

Gadian was granted immunity from prosecution to testify against the accused.

She told the court her only responsibility was “to make fictitious transactions in order to get money from the government.”

She said she was called upon by the defendants to do “dirty tricks” in April 2002 by producing P20,000 for each of them for a trip to Manila.

Gadian said she made it appear the P475,000 was to go to a nongovernment organization called Sea Angels Aqua Marketing Cooperative as requested by supposed chair Wenilo Bravo for a “bagoong-making venture.”

She admitted that both Wenilo Bravo and Sea Angels were fictitious names she came up with to facilitate the transaction.

“The court subjected Gadian and her testimony to close scrutiny and found that she was a credible witness, and that her testimony was credible in itself,” the decision said.

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TAGS: court, Government Officials, Graft and Corruption, life imprisonment, malversation, Philippines - Regions, Sandiganbayan, Sarangani
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