• Court convicts four over ghost deliveries

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    A former Department of Transportation and Communications’ (DOTC) official, a former Isabela mayor, a former state school president, and a private individual are facing imprisonment over ghost deliveries of 21 government vehicles bought with a late lawmaker’s pork barrel allocation in 2003.

    In a 64-page ruling, the Sandiganbayan’s First Division convicted former director Venancio Santidad of the DOTC Procurement, Supply and Property Management Service of 21 counts of reckless imprudence resulting to falsification of public documents and sentenced him to four months up to two years imprisonment for each count.

    “Accused Santidad is also ordered to pay P360,000, for each count, as his civil liability, with interest of 12 percent per annum from finality of this judgment until its satisfaction,” the court said.

    This means he would have to restitute P7.56 million to the government for damages.

    The P7.56 million was sourced from the Priority Development Assistance Fund (PDAF) or pork barrel fund allocation of the late representative Antonio Abaya of Isabela.

    Abaya passed away in 2003 before the 21 Mitsubishi Delica Vans, that costs P360,000 each, were delivered.

    Santidad certified that all the vehicles were delivered to Isabela’s fourth district even when he failed to ascertain that these were actually turned over to the recipients, the court found.

    Aside from Santidad, the court also found former mayor Florante Raspado of Jones town in Isabela guilty of falsification, and former Isabela State University President Miguel Ramos guilty of reckless imprudence resulting to falsification of public documents.

    Raspado faces two to eight years in prison and was fined P5,000 “with subsidiary imprisonment in case of insolvency” on top of P360,000 of joint civil liability with private defendant Robert Ngo.

    The court sentenced Ramos, who faces from four months up to two years imprisonment and ordered him to pay the government P360,000 as civil liability.

    The Office of the Ombudsman said on Wednesday that Raspado and Ramos signed the Invoice Receipt of Property (IRP) during the delivery of the vehicles as proof of receipt “despite the lack of physical turnover of the vans. Santidad, meanwhile, signed all of the 21 IRPs in which he certified that all of the 21 vehicles were transferred to the 4th district of Isabela.”

    “However, during the post-audit conducted by the Commission on Audit, the alleged beneficiaries denied receiving any vehicle. An extensive verification process with the Land Transportation Office on the vehicles’ purported registration also revealed that not one of the 21 vehicles was registered with DOTC, Abaya or any of the officials involved. Hence, the sale was a farce,” the office said.

    The court convicted Ngo on three counts of falsification and sentenced him to 18 months in jail and was fined P5,000 for each count and directed to pay the government P360,000 for each count or P1.08 million.

    According to the office, the DOTC Bids and Awards Committee declared Super Car Center the winning bidder in 2003 and “Ngo received the check payments in behalf of the supplier.”

    REINA TOLENTINO

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