Sandigan affirms guilty verdict on AFP retirement fund execs
MANILA — The Sandiganbayan has denied the appeals filed by former top officials of the Armed Forces of the Philippines-Retirement and Separation Benefits System (AFP-RSBS) who were convicted in July for the complex crime of malversation through falsification.
In a 13-page resolution, the anti-graft court’s Special Second Division affirmed the guilty verdict on five individuals led by retired Brig. Gen. Jose S. Ramiscal Jr. This sustained their sentences of 14 to 20 years’ imprisonment and the directive to indemnify the government of P250.31 million.
Also convicted were AFP-RSBS Legal Department head Julian Alzaga, Documentation Department head Manuel Satuito, and private defendants Elizabeth Liang and Jesus Garcia, representatives of Concord Resources, Inc.
The verdict arose from the execution of a fraudulent deed of sale to make it appear that the AFP-RSBS paid P341.34 million for four parcels of land in Barrio Makiling, Calamba City, Laguna. This was kept in the office’s records.
This was found to be overstated because the value of the land was only declared to be P91.02 million before the Bureau of Internal Revenue. The prosecution held the P250-million discrepancy to be the damage caused to the government.
The defendants in their appeal insisted there was “no clear and convincing evidence of conspiracy” among them, adding the transaction went though normal processes and was duly approved. Ramiscal went so far as to claim that the lower-valued notarized deed of sale submitted to the BIR was the one that contained his falsified signature.
However, the Sandiganbayan found no valid reason to reverse its verdict because all these arguments had been threshed out in the trial.
“The arguments invoked have all been previously raised and considered when the decision in question was rendered,” the court said. “There is no new substantial and valid argument presented to warrant a reconsideration.”
Justice Oscar C. Herrera Jr. penned the decision with the concurrence of Justices Michael Frederick L. Musngi and Zaldy V. Trespeses. SFM/rga
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