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Ex-Navy captain gets 28 years for falsification

April 30, 2009 5:18pm

MANILA, Philippines - The Philippine anti-graft court on Thursday convicted a retired Navy captain in connection with the anomalous purchase of some P10.44 million worth of medicines and medical supplies 19 years ago.

Retired Navy Capt. Daniel San Juan was sentenced to 28 years imprisonment, or two years and four months for each of the 12 counts of falsification of public documents slapped against him.

San Juan however was acquitted of 12 counts of graft due to the prosecution’s failure to prove that he conspired with other defendants or he personally benefited from the crime.

The 52-verdict was penned by Associate Justice Ma. Cristina G. Cortez-Estrada, head of the Sandiganbayan Fifth Division that heard the case. Concurring with the verdict were Associate Justices Roland B. Jurado and Napoleon E. Inoturan.

In his defense, San Juan shifted the blame to his superior, the late Navy chief surgeon Col. Antonio S. Morga, who he accused of pressuring him to sign the undated certificates of acceptance.

The court however held that this admission only made him more liable for the offense imputed against him.

“It is evident that accused San Juan falsified the certificates of acceptance by making it appear that medicines and medical supplies were delivered to the Philippine Navy, when in truth and in fact, no such delivery was made," the Sandiganbayan said.

Morga was among those charged in the case in 1999 but was dropped as a defendant when he died in November 2005.

The court meanwhile cleared former Navy chief accountant Asuncion L. Jacinto of all 24 charges as it upheld the argument of defense lawyer Norberto Ruiz that Jacinto's certification on the availability of funds did not constitute a criminal act.

“Accused Jacinto was able to present corroborating evidence to support her defense and to negate the allegations of the prosecution that (she) was not authorized to sign documents subject to the instant cases. There exists no basis to charge accused Jacinto of violating Section 3(e) of the Anti-Graft and Corrupt Practices Act," the court said.

The cases involved alleged 12 fraudulent purchase contracts for medicines and medical supplies transacted between May and August 1990 with a total value of P10.44 million.

Government auditors reported finding spurious requisition and issue vouchers, official receipts and certificates of acceptance that led graft investigators to indict the accused for ghost purchases and deliveries.

Also named defendants in the case were Vice Admiral Mariano J. Dumancas Jr., then Navy flag-officer-in-command; Capt. Walter Briones Jr., naval service commander; Capt. Napoleon C. Baylon, Navy comptroller; CDR Gilmer B. Batestil, naval procurement officer; and Lt. Francisco A. Mata, PN supply officer.

In 2000, prosecutors withdrew the cases against Dumancas, Baylon and Batestil for lack of evidence. Briones and Mata, meanwhile, remain at large. - GMANews.TV
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