Ex-PhilRice executive fined P15K for P15 million graft
Elizabeth Marcelo (The Philippine Star) - October 8, 2020 - 12:00am

MANILA, Philippines — A former executive director of the Philippine Rice Research Institute (PhilRice) has been ordered to pay a fine of P15,000 in connection with the approval of a car loan worth P15.78 million for himself and nine other PhilRice employees.

Ronilo Beronio withdrew his not guilty plea to three counts of graft and pleaded guilty to three counts of violation of Section 7 (a) of Republic Act 6713 or the Code of Conduct and Ethical Standards for Public Officials and Employees during a hearing at the Sandiganbayan’s Sixth Division on Oct 2, the court said in a ruling issued on the same date.

Section 7 (a) of RA 6713 prohibits a public official from having direct or indirect financial or material interest in any transaction requiring the approval of his office.

Beronio pleaded guilty to a lesser offense in exchange for the dropping the graft charges, which carry a penalty of up to 10 years in prison for each count aside from perpetual disqualification from holding public office.

The court said Beronio’s admission of guilt was in accordance with his plea bargain agreement with the Office of the Ombudsman.

The graft cases stemmed from the approval of a holdout agreement by the PhilRice board of trustees that allowed Beronio and nine other PhilRice employees to obtain loans from Philippine National Bank for the purchase of rent-to-own cars.

The ombudsman said the deal was approved without public bidding. The beneficiaries were entitled to transportation allowance despite the use of the official vehicles, it added.

Bohol Gov. Arthur Yap, who was secretary of the Department of Agriculture and chairman of the PhilRice at the time was the principal accused.

The sixth division had earlier denied Yap’s motion to dismiss the charges against him.

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