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Former PCIC exec convicted for unlawful release of ex-chair’s benefits

A former executive of the Philippine Crop Insurance Corporation (PCIC) was found guilty for the unlawful payment and release of retirement gratuity and terminal benefits of an ex-PCIC chairman, the Ombudsman said Friday.
In a news release, the Ombudsman said former PCIC acting senior vice president Liberty Tiongco was found guilty beyond reasonable doubt of violation of Section 3(e) of the Anti-Graft and Corrupt Practices Act.
In a 39-page decision penned by Sandiganbayan Associate Justice Ma. Theresa Dolores Gomez-Estoesta, Tiongco was imposed the penalty of imprisonment of six years and one month to a maximum of 10 years, and a perpetual disqualification from public office.
She is also facing six months to two years, 11 months, and 10 days of imprisonment for Usurpation of Official Functions under Article 177 of the Revised Penal Code.
Tiongco was convicted for signing and approving the payment and release of the terminal leave benefits of former PCIC chairman Benito Estacio Jr., who retired in April 2006. 
The check, amounting to more than P1.5 million, was paid to Estacio a month after his retirement without the knowledge of then-PCIC president Lamberto Barbin and despite pending criminal and administrative cases before the Ombudsman.
In its decision, the anti-graft court said Tiongco "put up the facade that she had the discretion" to release Estacio's benefits despite his cases, when "the discretion exclusively belongs to the head of the department, office, or agency concerned."
The release of the retirement benefit did not qualify as an urgent action that could override the signature of the PCIC president, it added. — Rose-An Jessica Dioquino/RSJ, GMA News