Syjuco wants bail cut in half

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Augusto Syjuco, the former director-general of the Technical Education and Skills Development Authority (TESDA), is asking the Sandiganbayan to reduce his bail to half the amount recommended by the Office of the Ombudsman (OMB).

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The OMB charged Syjuco with 12 counts of graft last month. He is accused of issuing scholarship vouchers beyond the P5.6 billion under the Pangulong Gloria Scholarship Program when he was TESDA chief.

The OMB recommended P30,000 bail for each count of graft, or a total of P360,000. Syjuco asked for only P15,000 for each count.

Citing bail rules, his lawyer argued that his reputation was solid having been in public service for 16 years and that he was “not in good health” and not a flight risk.

Syjuco, 71, was also twice a former congressman of Iloilo’s second district. He lost his bid for reelection in 2013 which, his lawyer said, proves that his client has no intention of fleeing his charges.

He also said Syjuco’s real properties in Iloilo and Makati make flight less likely.

But prosecutors are opposing this move. They argued that the bail guidelines cited in Syjuco’s motion also include the accused’s financial ability to pay the recommended bail, which they said was fixed by the Bail Bond Guide at P30,000.

The accused “has very well the financial capacity to pay the bond fixed no less by law,” they said.

However in seeking bail reduction, Syjuco asserted that evidence against him was weak.

“There is no allegation that the beneficiaries are bogus, only that the expenditures on these beneficiaries resulted in a ‘deficit,’” the motion read, adding that the amount would just be “spillovers” that could be paid by the present TESDA.

But the prosecution disagreed and said, “The Honorable Court no less has already made a judicial determination that probable cause exists in these cases.”

The motion is awaiting resolution.

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