Ex-Northern Samar gov gets jail term for failing to return 2 guns, motorbike
MANILA — The Sandiganbayan has sentenced the former officer-in-charge governor of Northern Samar to at least 10 years in prison for malversation of public property.
In a 16-page decision dated March 7, the anti-graft court’s Fourth Division issued a guilty verdict against John Kam, who served as acting governor in 1987, for taking and failing to return a Smith & Wesson Airweight .38-revolver and a Bingham Revolver, as well as a Yamaha DT-100 motorcycle.
He was sentenced to imprisonment of at least 10 years and one day, to a maximum of 14 years, eight months and one day. He was also ordered to pay a fine of P18,050.00, but the court no longer imposed civil liability because he had paid for the properties involved in the case.
The court said Kam “never protested or denied the allegations of the prosecution” regarding his alleged failure to turn over the firearms and the motorcycle that were under his custody as OIC governor.
It said that liability for malversation already arose when the provincial government under then-Governor Harlin Abayon began demanding the turnover of the items from 1988 to 1994, when court cases ensued.
Although the items had been returned while the case was ongoing, the court only considered it as a “mitigating circumstance.”
“It is apparent that when Kam had been called to account for the properties he received, he could not produce the same,” read the resolution penned by Justice Alex L. Quiroz.
The case arose from a complaint by then-Governor Harlin Abayon against Kam, who became provincial health officer.
Kam was charged at the Sandiganbayan in 1995, but proceedings had to be deferred pending the resolution of a replevin suit before the Catarina Regional Trial Court seeking the recovery of the items.
The court revived the case in 2004 but had to archive it four years later due to Kam’s failure to show up for arraignment. Finally, the case began moving again in 2014 after Kam sought its revival and the lifting of his standing arrest warrant.
Kam has since filed an appeal on his conviction, arguing in a 22-page motion for reconsideration that prosecutors failed to show that he took the items and failed to turn them over. SFM
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