Corruption in the Philippines

Sandiganbayan affirms conviction of ex-DepEd officials over P24-M textbook scam

The anti-graft court says the former officials 'cannot shield themselves from criminal liability on the ground that they merely performed a ministerial duty'

The anti-graft court Sandiganbayan has affirmed the conviction of two former education officials over the anomalous procurement of P24 million worth of textbooks in 1998.

The Sandiganbayan Second Division denied the joint motion for reconsideration of former chief accountant Emilia Aranas and former budget and finance officer Ernesto Guiang of the Department of Education, Culture, and Sports (DECS) – the precursor of the Department of Education (DepEd) – in Eastern Visayas.

The two had sought the reversal of the court’s October 16, 2020 guilty verdict over their approval of the P24-million payment to Esteem Enterprises for the delivery of textbooks and supplementary printed materials based on falsified documents.

The two were sentenced to 6 to 10 years imprisonment with perpetual disqualification from holding any public post.

In its October 2020 decision, the court said the prosecution “sufficiently proved the acts of the accused” as it was found that the sub-allotment release orders (Sub-AROs) for P10 million and P14 million, for payment for the textbooks and printed materials, were fabricated.

Aranas and Guiang  appealed the decision, saying that they thought that the Sub-AROs were valid.

The court said in its ruling, “The accused cannot shield themselves from criminal liability on the ground that they merely performed a ministerial duty in affixing their signatures on the disbursement vouchers.”

“As chief accountant of the DECS Regional Office VIII, Aranas was duty bound to verify the authenticity of the sub-AROs, notice of cash allocation and corresponding funding checks. The same applies to accused Guiang, being the chief of Budget and Finance Division,” the court added. – Rappler.com