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Ex-Iloilo lawmaker returns P5.96 million; plea bargain to proceed

Janvic Mateo - The Philippine Star

MANILA, Philippines — Former Iloilo congresswoman Judy Syjuco has returned to the government the full amount alleged in graft cases filed against her, paving the way for a plea bargain agreement that will allow her to plead guilty to lesser offenses.

The Sandiganbayan Third Division approved Syjuco’s plea bargain agreement with the Office of the Ombudsman after she paid P5.96 as full restitution of the amounts alleged in the cases filed against her.

Syjuco was originally charged with graft and malversation of public funds through falsification of public documents in connection with an allegedly anomalous cell phone project in 2005.

Last month, the Sandiganbayan allowed Syjuco and the prosecution to enter into a plea bargain.

The court deferred its ruling until after she has paid the amount she allegedly malversed.

Syjuco paid the amount on Sept. 8, according to a Sandiganbayan resolution promulgated on Oct. 3 and released to journalists yesterday.

Under the plea bargain agreement, Syjuco will plead guilty to the lesser charges of fraud against public treasury and failure of the accountable officer to render accounts.

Unlike the original charges, which often carry a penalty of imprisonment, the lesser offenses only require payment of fines, subject to the discretion of the court.

Syjuco’s re-arraignment was set on Oct. 21.

JUDY SYJUCO

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