GENERAL SANTOS CITY, Philippines – The 5th Division of the Sandiganbayan found a mayor in Maguindanao and two other officials guilty of graft, and sentenced them to jail as a result of a case filed against them four years ago.
The anti-graft court gave Northern Kabuntalan Mayor Umbra Dilangalen, municipal accountant Rahima Ali, and municipal treasurer Kabiba Mael a six- to seven-year maximum prison sentence for fully paying a project contractor P5 million for an uncompleted water impounding project in the village of Damatog in December 2011.
In a 24-page decision on September 9 by Associate Justice Mary Ann Corpus-Mañalac and concurred by associate justices Rafael Lagos and Maria Theresa Mendoza-Arcega, the court division found Dilangalen, Ali, and Mael guilty of violating the Anti-Graft and Corrupt Practices Act when they released funds as “first and final payment” to the company FFJJ Construction.
The court stated that the payment was done just two days after the project contract was signed.
Documents showed that the project was completed on March 12, 2012, long after the full payment was made.
Dilangalen told local broadcaster Brigada News FM in Cotabato City that they would file a motion for reconsideration, and “will accept whatever will be the final decision of the courts.”
“We are ready to face it and follow what the law says,” he said.
The Office of the Ombudsman, which filed the case in 2018, said the officials violated a prohibition on the lump sum payment of government projects stated in the Implementing Rules and Regulations of the Government Procurement Reform Act.
The rule is that advance payments for projects should not exceed 15% of the contract price and that full payments are not allowable before the project completion, the Sandiganbayan stated.
Dilangalen had sought the dismissal of the case in September 2021, but the Sandiganbayan denied it because he did not raise any new and valid argument.
Dilangalen said there was no intention on their part to violate the law when they made the full payment, adding that he and the other officials were confident that the contractor would finish the project. –Rappler.com