Ex-Mountain Province mayor gets 16 years for graft

Elizabeth Marcelo (The Philippine Star) - March 3, 2021 - 12:00am

MANILA, Philippines — A former mayor of Barlig town in Mountain Province has been sentenced to up to 16 years in prison over anomalous infrastructure projects.

In a 36-page decision promulgated on Feb. 26, the Sandiganbayan’s Third Division found Magdalena Lupoyon and former municipal treasurer Albert Marafo guilty of two counts of violating Section 3 (e) of Republic Act 3019 or the Anti-Graft and Corrupt Practices Act.

Former Barlig vice mayor Edmundo Sidchayao, former municipal councilors Clark Ngaya and Fernando Cablog and former municipal engineer Danilo Lucas were found guilty of one count of the same offense.

The cases stemmed from the construction of a gymnasium worth P2.5 million and repair of a pathway leading to Mt. Amuyao amounting to P50,000.

The Office of the Ombudsman, which filed the cases in 2016, said both projects were undertaken without public bidding in violation of RA 9184 or the Government Procurement Reform Act.

The court said the fund used for the repair of the pathway to Mt. Amuyao, which came from a donation by a media organization, should have undergone public bidding.

“Donations in cash or in kind to the government or any of its instrumentalities or agencies become government funds or property. Even the proceeds of donations cannot be disbursed or disposed of except in accordance with law,” the third division said.

The court said Lupoyon also took it upon herself to hire workers for the pathway repair and determine their respective salaries. The expenses were supported only by a handwritten and unsigned subsidiary ledger, it added.

The money for the construction of the gymnasium was drawn from a P3-million donation from another media group.

The court said fund releases were not covered by disbursement vouchers.

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