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MANILA, Philippines — The Sandiganbayan has sentenced a former congressman in Bukidnon to 187 years in prison in connection with the alleged misuse of his Priority Development Assistance Fund (PDAF) or pork barrel amounting to P36.9 million from 2007 to 2008
In a 77-page decision promulgated on April 14, the anti-graft court declared former congressman Candido Pancrudo Jr. of the first district of Bukidnon guilty of eight counts of violation of Republic Act (RA) 3019 or the Anti-Graft and Corrupt Practices Act, four counts of malversation of public funds as provided under the Revised Penal Code and another four counts of the complex crime of malversation of public funds through falsification of public documents.
Aside from Pancrudo, the Sandiganbayan’s Second Division convicted Maria Rosalinda Lacsamana, former group manager of the abolished state firm Technology Resource Center (TRC), and private respondent Johanne Edward Labay of the non-government organization Farmerbusiness Development Corp. (FDC).
Pancrudo, Lacsamana, and Labay were sentenced to a minimum of six years to a maximum of 10 years in prison for each count of the graft offense, or a total of 48 to 80 years for the eight counts.
They were also disqualified from holding public office.
The court ordered the defendants to pay the government P36.9 million in civil liability.
As for the malversation cases, the court sentenced the defendants to 10 to 18 years in prison for one count, 14 to 18 years for each of two counts, and 10 to 16 years for another count, or a total of 48 to 70 years for the four cases.
Pancrudo and his co-defendants were each ordered to pay the court P32.8 million aside from the P32.8 million in civil liability that would be remitted to the government treasury.
As for the malversation through falsification offense, Pancrudo, Lacsamana and Labay were sentenced to two to eight years for each of the three counts and six to 13 years for another count, or a total of 12 to 37 years for the four cases.
They were each ordered to pay a fine of P4.1 million on top of a similar amount in civil liability imposed by the court.
The court acquitted the other respondents in the cases – former TRC deputy director general Dennis Cunanan, group manager Francisco Figura, budget officer Consuelo Lilian Espiritu and chief accountant Marivic Jover – after the prosecution failed to prove their guilt.
The charges against another private respondent, Victorino Ujano of the FDC, were dismissed due to his death.
The cases against TRC director general Antonio Ortiz and project consultant-designate Jesus Esmeralda were ordered archived as they remain at large, without prejudice to the revival of the charges upon their arrest or surrender.
Filed by the Office of the Ombudsman in 2017, the charges stemmed from the release of a total of P36.9 million of Pancrudo’s PDAF to FDC for the supposed implementation of livelihood projects in his district.
The ombudsman said Pancrudo picked the FDC to implement the projects without conducting public bidding in violation of RA 9184 or the Government Procurement Reform Act.
The ombudsman said the FDC was not an accredited foundation and had no legal authority to carry out the projects.
It said investigation showed the projects were not implemented. (Elizabeth Marcelo/The Philippine Star)