Sajid Ampatuan charged anew for P16M in ghost food purchases

Lian Buan
This adds to the 161 counts of corruption filed against him in early May for ghost construction and repair projects

NEW CHARGES. Sajid Islam Ampatuan, who is photographed here in Cotabato City on May 10, 2015 during his welcome party after being granted bail for massacre charges, faces new charges in court for corruption. Photo by Jef Maitem

MANILA, Philippines – Former Maguindanao governor Datu Sajid Islam Ampatuan was charged with an additional 36 counts of corruption before the anti-graft court Sandiganbayan over more than P16 million worth of non-existent food purchases from 2009.

This adds to the 161 counts of corruption filed against him in early May for ghost construction and repair projects. 

Sajid is a suspect in the 2009 Maguindanao massacre who is free after 5 years in prison after a trial court granted his request to post bail of P11.6 million. 
(READ: Grand welcome for Ampatuan son out on bail)

The recent charges on fake food purchases occurred around the same dates in 2009 that Sajid also implemented the allegedly fake construction and repair projects worth P95 million.

They also involve the same set of provincial officials.

The recent 36 counts – 1 count of graft, 1 count of malversation and 34 counts of falsification of documents – are all concerned with food purchases from Henry Merchandising, worth a total of P16.317 million.

“No such purchase was made as the purported supplier Henry Merchandising is fictitious and/or non-existent resulting to the damage and prejudice to the government in the aforesaid account,” says the charge sheet filed by the Office of the Ombudsman on May 9, copies of which were released on Monday, May 15.

The allegedly fake supplier follows the same scam as the construction projects when Sajid paid a total of P72.26 million to four suppliers of lumber to schools they were either constructing or repairing. The suppliers all turned out to be fake, according to investigation by the Office of the Ombudsman, and no actual construction or repair was done.

Charged along with Sajid are: 

  1. Former provincial Accountant John Estelito Dollosa Jr
  2. Former Provincial Treasurer Osmena Bandilla 
  3. Former Bids and Awards Committee (BAC) Chairperson Kasan Macapendeg 
  4. Former Provincial Administrator Norie Unas 
  5. Former Provincial Engineer Datu Ali Abpi Al Haj 
  6. Former Provincial Engineer Landap Guinaid 

In the charges filed early May, Sajid’s older brother former Datu Unsay mayor Andal Ampatuan Jr was also charged for graft because his Petron Branch was hired to supply the fuel for the supposedly fake construction projects. Andal Jr was paid P22.4 million by Sajid without going through public bidding.

Sajid and Andal Jr are both suspects in the 2009 Maguindanao massacre. Andal Jr remains in jail, while Sajid – out on bail – ran and lost for Shariff Aguak mayor in the 2016 elections. The patriarch of the family and also a principal suspect, Andal Ampatuan Sr died in 2015.

Not a single person has been convicted for the massacre. Last November, the Department of Justice said key suspects would be convicted “in the next few years.” – 

Lian Buan

Lian Buan covers justice and corruption for Rappler. She is interested in decisions, pleadings, audits, contracts, and other documents that establish a trail. If you have leads, email or tweet @lianbuan.