Ex-Bukidnon lawmaker gets 41 years over ‘pork’ scam

Elizabeth Marcelo - The Philippine Star

MANILA, Philippines — A former congressman in Bukidnon has been sentenced to 28 to 41 years in prison for graft and malversation in connection with the pork barrel scam.

In a 97-page decision promulgated on Oct. 21, the Sandiganbayan convicted former congressman Candido Pancrudo Jr. of the first district of Bukidnon, and private respondent Mark Espinosa, president of the Uswag Pilipinas Foundation Inc. (UPFI), of two counts each of violating Republic Act (RA) 3019 or the Anti-Graft and Corrupt Practices Act.

The anti-graft court’s Fifth Division also found the respondents guilty of one count each of malversation of public funds as well as of malversation of public funds through falsification of public documents as defined under the Revised Penal Code.

The respondents were sentenced to six to 10 years in prison for each count of the graft offense, or 12 to 20 years for both counts. They were disqualified from holding public office.

For the offense of malversation of public funds, Pancrudo and Espinosa were sentenced to two to six years in prison, and 14 to 15 years for malversation through falsification.

Three officials of the abolished state firm National Agribusiness Corp. (NABCOR) Rhodora Mendoza, Maria Ninez Guañizo and Victor Roman Cacal were acquitted of the graft charges, but were convicted along with Pancrudo and Espinosa of malversation as well as malversation through falsification.

Mendoza, Guañizo and Cacal were each sentenced to four to eight years in prison for malversation, and 16 to 17 years for malversation through falsification. They were ordered to pay P1.19 million each for malversation and P6.76 million each for malversation through falsification.

The Sandiganbayan said the amounts were apart from the P1.19 million and P6.76 million that the five respondents must jointly reimburse the government through the Bureau of the Treasury.

Meanwhile, the charges against NABCOR president Alan Javellana were temporarily archived pending his arrest or surrender.

Filed by the Office of the Ombudsman in 2016, the cases stemmed from the release to the UPFI of Pancrudo’s P7.95 million in Priority Development Assistance Fund or pork barrel during his term as congressman.

State prosecutors said Pancrudo picked the UPFI to implement his projects without conducting public bidding, in violation of RA 9184 or the Government Procurement Reform Act.

The ombudsman said the UPFI was not an accredited foundation and had no legal authority to implement government projects.

Investigation showed none of the supposed livelihood projects were implemented, the ombudsman said.

The ruling was penned by Associate Justice Maria Theresa Mendoza-Arcega and concurred in by Associate Justices Rafael Lagos and Maryann Corpus-Mañalac.

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