The Sandiganbayan Fourth Division has denied a motion for reconsideration filed by former Maguindanao governor Sajid Ampatuan, who was convicted of graft and malversation in connection with the release of P38 million from public funds and purchases of construction materials from a “non-existing entity.”
In a 14-page resolution promulgated last September 4, the court denied the motion filed by Ampatuan and the motion for partial reconsideration of Datu Ali Abpi Al Haj, then-provincial budget officer and then-Bids and Awards Committee member, for lack of merit.
The resolution said Ampatuan himself had admitted that the public funds had been released to Abo Lumberyard, but failed to explain why these funds were disbursed despite overwhelming evidence that the business entity does not exist, as established by the prosecution.
His co-accused Abpi, meanwhile, recommended all 73 emergency purchases even as the Commission on Audit found that “there were no documents to prove that the eligibility of the supplier and the submitted questions were evaluated.”
“The irregularities in the pre-procurement, procurement and disbursements of public funds clearly show that accused-movants failed to carry out their duties and… support the finding of conspiracy between them,” the resolution read.
Ampatuan earlier argued that the court erred in its ruling on his conviction and that he supposedly conspired with Abpi, claiming that the prosecution failed to present testimonial evidence of his negotiations with the suppliers of Abo Lumberyard.
“It has long been settled that chief executives of local government units are accountable for the public funds within their jurisdiction. This necessarily includes that obligation to make sure that the disbursements that they make and the contracts that they enter into in their capacities as public officials, serve to safeguard the public treasury,” the anti-graft court said.
In March, the Sandiganbayan convicted Ampatuan of graft, falsification and malversation charges and sentenced him to reclusion perpetua or a maximum of 40 years of imprisonment.