Sandigan affirms conviction of ex-NHA execs over housing project
Elizabeth Marcelo (The Philippine Star) - April 15, 2019 - 12:00am

MANILA, Philippines — The Sandiganbayan has upheld its decision senten-cing five former officials of the National Housing Authority (NHA) to up to 10 years in prison in connection with an overpriced housing project in Bacolod City.

In a resolution promulgated on March 28, the anti-graft court’s Second Division said the accused failed to raise new arguments that could reverse the ruling finding them guilty of violating Republic Act 3019 or the Anti-Graft and Corrupt Practices Act.

It said the prosecution’s evidence proved the allegations against the accused.

Denied were the motions filed by former NHA-Visayas officials Josephine Casenas-Hottle, Virgilio Dacalos, Felicisimo Lazarte Jr., Josephine Espinosa and Noel Lobrido.

The anti-graft court cited a Supreme Court ruling, which stated that an appeal containing reiteration or rehashed arguments deserves scant consideration.

Filed by the Office of the Ombudsman in 2001, the case stemmed from the padding of the billings for the Pahanocoy housing project from its actual cost of P330,075 to P1.28 million.

“The accused failed to provide a credible, logical and truthful explanation for the increase in the final billing,” the Sandiganbayan said in a ruling dated Dec. 7, 2018.

Aside from imprisonment, the accused were disqualified from holding public office.

The anti-graft court earlier dismissed the same case filed against former NHA general manager Robert Balao by virtue of his death.

GRAFT AND CORRUPTION NATIONAL HOUSING AUTHORITY
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