Samar lawmaker cleared of graft, malversation

Elizabeth Marcelo (The Philippine Star) - March 30, 2019 - 12:00am

MANILA, Philippines — The Sandiganbayan has dismissed the charges filed against Samar second district Rep. Milagrosa Tan in connection with the procurement of medicine and dental supplies when she was governor.

In a 67-page decision promulgated yesterday, the Sandiganbayan’s First Division acquitted Tan of eight counts of graft and five counts of malversation of public funds.

Tan’s co-accused – former provincial treasurer Bienvenido Sabeneci Jr., accountant Francisco Detosil, general service office acting head Ariel Yboa, administrative officer Rolando Montejo and supply officer George Abrina as well as Roselyn Larce, proprietor of Zybermed Medi Pharma – were also cleared of the charges.

The  Office of the Ombudsman said the purchase was attended by irregularities, citing a report of the Commission on Audit (COA) that it was made despite a steady increase in the yearend inventory.

The ombudsman said the supplier, Zybermed Medi Pharma, had no valid business permit.

However, the Sandiganbayan said the prosecution failed to establish partiality or bad faith of the accused, adding that even the COA has no finding of violation of the Government Procurement Law.

“A review of the disbursement vouchers... as well as supporting documents reveal that the procurement... is above board,” the court ruling read.

The court said the COA also confirmed that the items were distributed to various municipalities and barangays.

“There is no allegation that ownership was transferred or that these items were misappropriated,”  the court said.

Tan was earlier sentenced to up to 115 years in prison over the anomalous purchase of emergency supplies for typhoon victims worth P16.1 million in 2001.

She was also perpetually disqualified from holding public office.

Tan is appealing her conviction.       

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