MANILA, Philippines – The anti-graft court Sandiganbayan convicted retired general Jose Ramiscal Jr for the misuse of army retirement funds 21 years ago.
Ramiscal was the president of the Armed Forces of the Philippines Retirement and Separation Benefits System (AFP-RSBS). Ramsical was charged with graft for approving the payment of P24.2 million in retirement funds to a property development firm he entered into a contract with in 1995.
The Sandiganbayan fourth division found Ramiscal guilty and sentenced him to 12 years imprisonment. Ramiscal was already convicted of malversation and falsification of public documents in 2016 for overpriced lots purchased for a housing project for retired soldiers.
The anti-graft court affirmed the 2016 conviction just last April. Ramiscal got 14 years for the conviction and was fined P250 million for the overpricing.
This latest conviction stems from the irregular payments of AFP-RSBS of a total of P24 millon in property fees and taxes.
AFP–RSBS went into a joint venture with DM Wenceslao and Associates Inc. (DMWAI) to create the Bay Resources Development Corp (Bradco). Bradco was an investment of the army retirement group to develop a 10-hectare portion of the Manila-Cavite Coastal Road and Reclamation Project.
After the successful reclamation of the property, Bradco sold it to AFP-RSBS for P372 million. Because of the purchase, Ramiscal's retirement group paid P18.61 million worth of creditable withholding tax and P5.58 million worth of documentary stamp taxes.
Ramiscal was charged because the Deed of Conveyance states that it should have been Bradco as the vendor who paid all the taxes. Investigation also found that Ramiscal authorized the payment without the approval from his board.
Fourth Division Associate Justices Reynaldo P. Cruz, Alex L. Quiroz, and Geraldine Faith A. Econg said Ramiscal was motivated by the “presumption of interest or personal gain” when he released the funds to “finance manifestly irregular transactions”.
Ramiscal had defended himself by saying he approved the payments because his subordinates recommended it to him. However, investigation also found that the Deed of Conveyance was signed on the same day of Ramiscal's authorization of the payment.
For the court, this means Ramiscal was aware of what the Deed of Conveyance says and cannot feign ignorance of proper procedure.
The anomaly was further proven when they examined a supposed authorization from the board, but it was one which only allowed a fund release up to P15 million.
According to the court, the fact the payments reached P24 million "establishes the irregularity in the release of funds."
“From the foregoing discussions, this Court is convinced that the guilt of the accused Ramiscal Jr. has been established and proven beyond reasonable doubt, thereby warranting his conviction in these cases,” the fourth division said in its 21-page decision. – Rappler.com