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2 ex-mayors convicted of graft.

Ombudsman investigators have scored another legal victory with the recent conviction by the Sandiganbayan anti-graft court of two former mayors and three others in two separate cases of graft.

Florante Raspado, a former mayor of Jones, Isabela, was sentenced by the Sandiganbayan First Division to up to eight years in prison after he was found guilty beyond reasonable doubt of falsification of public documents, the Office of the Ombudsman said on Wednesday.

The case against Raspado stemmed from the ghost delivery of 21 secondhand vans worth P7.72 million which were purchased out of the pork barrel allocation of the late Isabela Rep. Antonio Abaya in 2002.

Also convicted were Robert Ngo, Abaya's aide; Miguel Ramos, the former president of the Isabela State University; and Director Venancio Santidad of the Department of Transportation and Communications (DOTC).

In a separate case, the Third Division imposed a 10-year prison sentence on Lucio Uera, a former mayor of Pantabangan, Nueva Ecija, for awarding a P1.1-million service contract to a company which listed his wife, Ruby Uera, as one of its incorporators in 2002.

According to the Ombudsman, Uera was held criminally liable for violations of the Anti-Graft and Corrupt Practices Act, because of a clear case of conflict of interest.

It said Uera signed the maintenance contract between the Pantabangan municipal government and Priva Power and Allied Services in March 2002 for the management of the Pantabangan municipal electric system.

Prosecutors proved during the trial that Uera had direct pecuniary benefit from the agreement because his wife is an incorporator, stockholder and director of Priva as certified by the Securities and Exchange Commission, the Ombudsman said.

In convicting Uera, Associate Justice Samuel Martires said the former mayor has a direct interest in Priva and that it was very evident that he had intervened in the act or agreement in an official capacity.

Without being the mayor, and acting in such capacity, (Uera) could not have facilitated the contract with Priva, Martires said.

In finding Raspado and the three others guilty in the Jones, Isabela case, the antigraft court said Raspado and Ramos signed documents purportedly showing the delivery of 21 refurbished units of Mitsubishi Delica vans despite the lack of physical turnover of the vans.

Santidad, on the other hand, issued a certification that all the vehicles had been delivered to Abaya's congressional district.

But the Commission on Audit later discovered that the supposed recipients of the vehicles did not receive the vehicles.

An extensive verification process with the Land Transportation Office on the vehicles' purported registration also revealed that not one of the 21 vehicles was registered with the DOTC, Abaya or any of the officials involved, the Ombudsman said. Hence, the sale was a farce.

It said Santidad falsified the (delivery receipts) to make it appear that the vans were delivered to the beneficiaries when in fact no such deliveries were made.

Prosecutors presented witnesses and documents proving that the supplier did not appear as owner of the vans and that no deliveries were made to any of the listed beneficiaries, the Ombudsman added.

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Publication:Philippines Daily Inquirer (Makati City, Philippines)
Date:Oct 29, 2015
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