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Ex-BFP chief, 6 other fire officials convicted on graft charges

May 8, 2013 6:24pm

Former Bureau of Fire Protection chief Mario G. Tanchangco, six other agency officials and a trader were convicted of graft by the Sandiganbayan Third Division on Wednesday in relation to “ghost purchases” in 1992 of vehicle spare parts worth P6.5 million.

In a 67-page decision penned by Associate Justice Alex L. Quiroz, the court sentenced Tanchangco, former Fire Senior Supt. Aristeo O. Argosino, Fire Chief Hilario Cachero, Fire Senior Supt. Leonardo I. Sabellina Jr., Fire Supt. Romeo O. Camacho, Fire Senior Inspector Veronica S. Cataluña, SPO1 Emmanuel S. Macabuhay and private defendant Analyn P. Cuesta-Rubio to six- to 10-year jail terms with perpetual disqualification from holding public office.
Presiding Justice Francisco H. Villaruz Jr. and Associate Justice Samuel R. Martires concurred with the decision.

Alias warrants of arrest were issued against two others, Fire Supt. Alfredo B. Vite and trader Rowena T. Chan, while the cases against them were ordered archived.

According to the decision, the accused “acted with evident bad faith” in allowing the release of P6,504,802, “ostensibly to purchase spare parts which were never delivered to the BFP. Their participation is clearly indicated in the audit report.”

State auditors submitted evidence that Cuesta-Rubio was the owner of Lyn Cues Enterprises, which supposedly received payment for the purchase of P3.5 million worth of engine and vehicle parts.

“The court notes that the defense was not able to present proof that the spare parts were indeed delivered to the end users,” the decision read in part.

Police investigators had opened an inquiry into the matter at the request of BFP employees, with the request being endorsed by the late Sen. Raul Roco. — BM, GMA News
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