Sandigan affirms ex-Samar LGU exec’s conviction over ghost employees

Elizabeth Marcelo - The Philippine Star

MANILA, Philippines — The Sandiganbayan has upheld the conviction of former Samar provincial accountant Romeo Reales in connection with the disbursement of funds for non-existent or ghost employees.

In a resolution promulgated on Nov. 9, the anti-graft court’s sixth division said Reales failed to raise any argument in his motion for reconsideration to warrant the reversal of its June 25 decision finding him guilty of violating Section 3 (e) of Republic Act 3019 or the Anti-Graft and Corrupt Practices Act and malversation of public funds through falsification of public documents.

“His postulations are nothing but rechauffe,” the court declared. “No compelling reason prompts the court to modify, much less reverse, its well-studied verdict.”

The sixth division had sentenced Reales to up to 10 years in prison for graft and two to eight years for malversation through falsification offense.

Reales was also perpetually disqualified from holding public office and ordered to pay a fine of P76,500 and another P76,500 in civil liability to the provincial government.

Filed by the Office of the Ombudsman in 2017, the cases stemmed from Reales’ disbursement of P76,500 for the supposed salary of job order (JO) employees from October to November 2005.

The ombudsman said its investigation revealed that no JO employees were hired or rendered any service during the period.

Graft probers said Reales ”misappropriated the funds for his personal use and benefit” and falsified the timebook, payrolls and daily time records to make it appear that the supposed JO employees rendered actual services.

In his motion for reconsideration, Reales said the prosecution failed to establish the existence or non-existence of ghost employees as well as his bad faith in processing the disbursement of funds.

“Reales’ signatures in the time book and payrolls and in the summary of payrolls plus the daily time records and testimonial evidence point to the inescapable conclusion that accused was indeed guilty of the crime charged,” the court ruling read.

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