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Leyte officials face six-year imprisonment for excessive allowances

The Sandiganbayan has convicted five officials from the local government of Tabontabon, Leyte of graft and sentenced them to six years imprisonment for their alleged excessive allowances.

In a decision penned by Associate Justice Bayani Jacinto, the Sandiganbayan found Bids and Awards Committee members Edgardo Cinco, Luzminda Bibar, Meonilo Reforzado, Ricardo Efren and Alfredo Canonigo guilty of five counts each of violation of Section 3(e) of the Anti-Graft and Corrupt Practices Act.

The Sandiganbayan also ordered the respondents to pay the local government the sum of P272,000 with subsidiary imprisonment in case of solvency.

The Ombudsman had accused the BAC members of each receiving P34,000 in honorarium from January to May 2007. It said the amount they received was above the limit set by the Department of Budget and Management.

Under DBM rules, the grant of honoraria, sourced from bidding activities, for each BAC member should not exceed 25 percent of his/her basic monthly salary.

During the trial of the case, the prosecution presented documents which showed that Cinco only received a monthly salary of P15,314, while Bibar and Reforzado received P14,874 and P7,374, respectively.

The monthly compensation of Efren amounted to P6,288 while Canonigo had a salary of P4,277.

The Sandiganbayan said the honoraria given to the BAC members were sourced from the Annual Investment Fund of the municipality. These should have been sourced from a competitive bidding activity; however no such record of a competitive bidding activity could be found.

The anti-graft court said the respondents offered no evidence to refute the accusations against them.

“As against the documentary proof submitted by the prosecution, the said accused offered no defense that would supply any alternative context or justification for their actions,” the decision read. —KG, GMA News