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MANILA, Philippiness – Former Government Service Insurance System (GSIS) officials and a property developer have been sentenced to jail time for their involvement in anomalous loans amounting to P293.16 million.
The Sandiganbayan Seventh Division handed down the verdict on March 3, convicting former GSIS-Tarlac City division chief Celestino Cabalitasan, property appraiser Ma. Victoria Leonardo, and senior general insurance specialist Jerry Balagtas, as well as private defendant Jose de Guzman, president and chief executive officer of JQG Homes Development.
They were sentenced to six to 10 years imprisonment for each count, totaling 12 to 20 years, and were also perpetually disqualified from holding public office.
The anti-graft court found them guilty of two counts of graft in connection with housing loans granted under the GSIS Bahay Ko Program in 2001, which was intended to be a low-cost housing loan program for public school teachers.
The ex-state pension fund officials were discovered to have given loans to more than 400 ineligible borrowers, provided double loans to at least 18 members, and manipulated property titles.
A witness at the trial, a teacher, also testified that a loan was drawn in her name without her filing any application.
Another teacher also testified that she was granted a loan, despite residing in Bataan, which fell beyond the jurisdiction of the Tarlac-based program.
Teachers from other provinces, who should have been unqualified, applied for loans under the program after being offered hefty rebates of up to P100,000 and transport allowances to Tarlac that ranged from P1,400 to P1,600.
According to the indictment issued by the Office of the Ombudsman in 2012, the former GSIS officers conspired with property developer De Guzman to approve 491 loan applications by ineligible individuals, which resulted in a total loss of P241.053 million for GSIS.
Another P52.11 million in loans were granted to 53 borrowers for commercial lots that were over-appraised by P33.243 million.
The Sandiganbayan also determined that the housing units provided by JQG Homes Development were either unfinished or inhabitable.
“Based on the evidence presented and after careful evaluation thereof, accused Cabalitasan, Leonardo, and Balagtas…had exhibited manifest partiality and acted in bad faith in processing and approving the housing loans in favor of JQG Home Development,” the anti-graft court said. – Rappler.com