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Ombudsman scores win as Sandigan finds former mayor guilty of graft
09 November 2012

     THE Office of the Ombudsman scored a win after the Sandiganbayan convicted Cesar Alpay, former municipal mayor of Unisan, Quezon Province of graft charges arising from the unlawful diversion of the P1-million Social Fund of then President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo from its intended use as cash loans to farmers in 2003.

      In the 75-page November 7, 2012 decision penned by Associate Justice Gregory Ong and concurred in by Associate Justices Jose Hernandez and Maria Cristina Cornejo, the anti-graft court’s Fourth Division found Alpay guilty of violating Section 3(e) of Republic Act (R.A.) No. 3019 (Anti-Graft and Corrupt Practices Act) and sentenced him to: (a) suffer an indeterminate penalty of imprisonment from 6 years and 1 month, as minimum, to 10 years, as maximum; (b) suffer all the appropriate accessory penalties consequent thereto, including perpetual disqualification from public office; and (c) pay the costs.

      Alpay was indicted with graft for causing undue injury to the government for using the P1-million social fund under the "Isang Bayan, Isang Produkto, Isang Milyong Pisong Programa ni Pangulong GMA" to buy hand tractors amounting to P459,110, and motor engines for bancas amounting to P418,200 for a total of P877,310, without the benefit of public bidding and without the required supporting documents.

      The fund was intended as cash loans to deserving Micro and Medium Scale Enterprises or entrepreneurs or farmers.

      In its ruling, the Sandiganbayan stated that the evidence is clear that the amounts given to the farmers/ fishermen-beneficiaries were not paid. Instead, they were outrightly given cash, but were not required to repay the amounts separately given to them.

      This is contrary to the clear directive of Executive Order (E.O.) No. 176, which requires loans to be paid within 5 years for long-term loans and within one year for short-term loans.

      “We find as sufficient the prosecution evidence to support a conclusion that there was evident bad faith,” the ruling said.

      According to the court, the eventual release and distribution of the amounts took place on June 30, 2003, “the last day of the term of office of accused Mayor Alpay who was, obviously, aware that another duly-elected mayor will be taking over the helm of his office on the day following.”

      “Accused Mayor Alpay simply cannot feign ignorance of the requirements under Executive Order No. 176, particularly on the need for the amounts released to the farmers/ fishermen-beneficiaries to be repaid by them,” the decision stated.

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