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Sandigan affirms conviction of ex-DepEd official

Elizabeth Marcelo (The Philippine Star) - November 14, 2020 - 12:00am

MANILA, Philippines — The Sandiganbayan has upheld its earlier ruling sentencing a former regional official of the Department of Education (DepEd) to up to 12 years in prison for failure to remit P75 million worth of premium contributions of employees to the Government Service Insurance System (GSIS).

In a nine-page resolution promulgated on Nov. 10, the anti-graft court’s Sixth Division denied the motion for reconsideration of Leovigilda Cinches, former director for administrative and finance services of the DepEd Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (ARMM).

The court said Cinches failed to raise any meritorious argument that would warrant the reversal of its Sept. 29 decision convicting her of four counts of violation of Section 52 of Republic Act 8291 or the Government Service Insurance Act of 1997.

She was ordered to pay a fine of P80,000 and perpetually disqualified from holding public office.

Filed by the Office of the Ombudsman in 2015, the case stemmed from the non-remittance to the GSIS of the premium contributions of DepEd-ARMM officials and employees from August to November 2004 totaling P75.38 million.

The court dismissed Cinches’ defense that she was not directly responsible for the remittance of the GSIS contributions of the employees as it was supposedly the function of the disbursing officer.

However, two DepEd-ARMM officials testified that Cinches, as finance director, used to approve the payroll as well as the disbursement vouchers for the remittance of GSIS payments of the employees.

The court said the witnesses also testified that Cinches was among the authorized signatories of the checks for the GSIS remittances.

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