Sandigan affirms ‘dead’ ex-Sulu governors conviction

Elizabeth Marcelo (The Philippine Star) - March 6, 2021 - 12:00am

MANILA, Philippines — The Sandiganbayan has affirmed the conviction of former Sulu governor Yusop Jikiri in connection with the fertilizer fund scam while his lawyer is facing sanctions for claiming that his client is dead.

In a resolution promulgated on Feb. 18, the anti-graft court’s third division said it is giving Jikiri’s counsel Jose Aspiras five days to explain why he made a manifestation regarding Jikiri’s death when the accused is “still very much alive.”

The court ordered the resolution forwarded to the Integrated Bar of the Philippines and Supreme Court “for appropriate action.”

The third division said Jikiri was absent during the promulgation of the decision on Nov. 27, during which Aspiras told the court that the former governor has died.

The court said it was “befuddled” as Aspiras presented Jikiri’s motion for reconsideration of his conviction instead of a death certificate.

Under Article 89 of the Revised Penal Code, the criminal liability of an accused is “totally extinguished” if he dies before the court promulgates its decision.

Jikiri and former Department of Agriculture-Zamboanga peninsula executive director Oscar Parawan were found guilty of graft and malversation of public funds.

They were sentenced to up to 10 years in prison for graft and up to 16 years for malversation, perpetually disqualified from holding public office and ordered to pay a fine of P3.25 million, equivalent to the amount of public funds that found to have been malversed.

They were also ordered to pay P3.25 million to the Sulu provincial government with legal interest of six percent per year until full payment.

The Moro National Liberation Front had earlier said Jikiri died of bone cancer on Oct. 17, 2020.

The cases filed against Jikiri stemmed from the Sulu provincial government’s procurement of soil conditioner and fertilizer amounting to P3.25 million from private supplier Rim Allied Merchandise without public bidding.

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