Sandigan upholds ex-NFA exec’s conviction

Elizabeth Marcelo (The Philippine Star) - August 15, 2020 - 12:00am

MANILA, Philippines — The Sandiganbayan has upheld the conviction of a former official of the National Food Authority (NFA) in Albay over missing stocks of palay, rice, seeds, imported sugar and rice bran amounting to P5 million.

In a 16-page decision dated July 9, the Sandiganbayan’s First Division affirmed the  May 30, 2018 ruling of the Ligao City Regional Trial Court Branch 14 , which convicted former NFA-Ligao City senior grains operations officer and warehouse supervisor Maria Concepcion Serrano of malversation of public funds and property.

“Failure to account for the stock... upon demand gave rise to the presumption that she had converted the property or funds for her personal use, which  she failed to rebut with competent evidence,” the anti-graft court ruling read.

Serrano was sentenced to up to 19 years in prison and ordered to pay a fine of P5.138 million,which is equivalent to the amount of stocks found malversed.

The court also ordered Serrano to pay the NFA a separate P5.138 million in civil liability.

Records of the case showed that Serrano paid P90,000 sometime in 2011, which reduced the amount of her liability to P5.138 million.

In her appeal, Serrano argued that the shortage in stocks was not sufficient to convict her of malversation, adding that stocks audit conducted by NFA-Albay was not supported by any investigation by the Commission on Audit.

“Having established that warehouse stocks amounting to P5.1 million was in her custody by reason of her public position, it was incumbent upon her to produce the same upon demand or explain its whereabouts,” the first division said.

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