• Former Tesda Cavite chief convicted of graft

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    The anti-graft court Sandiganbayan’s Second Division found former Provincial Director Felicidad Zurbano of the Technical Education and Skills Development Authority (TESDA) in Cavite guilty beyond reasonable doubt of 13 counts of graft for having indirect financial interest in a 2003 deal with an enterprise owned by her sister.

    The charges were for violation of Section 3(h) of Republic Act No. 3019 or the Anti-Graft and Corrupt Practices Act.

    In a 46-page Decision promulgated on April 12 and made public Wednesday, the court sentenced Zurbano “to suffer the indeterminate penalty of thirteen counts of imprisonment ranging from six (6) years and one (1) month as minimum to twelve (12) years as maximum. She is further disqualified from holding any public office.”

    The Office of the Ombudsman had accused Zurbano of having indirect financial or pecuniary interest in the contract with CDZ Enterprises which, it said, was owned by the respondent’s sister.

    Based on the charge sheets, the contract was for the purchase of office and technical supplies.

    “After an incisive scrutiny of the facts and the evidence presented by the parties, the Court thus concludes that the prosecution in these cases was able to discharge its duty to establish the guilt of the accused beyond reasonable doubt,” the court’s ruling said in part.

    The accused, for her part, “failed to discharge that burden of overthrowing the positive evidence of the prosecution,” it said.

    Zurbano never denied the award of supplies and materials to CDZ Enterprises, according to the court.

    “Her proclivity to award the procurement of supplies and materials to CDZ Enterprises, whose sole proprietor was her sister, Nieves B. Cabigan, as admitted in the Joint Stipulation of Facts, is likewise evident,” it added.

    Under the rules, the defense can still file a motion for reconsideration on the court’s ruling.

    REINA TOLENTINO

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