Fresh corruption charges vs Sajid Ampatuan over P500-M road projects

MANILA, Phillippines – Former Maguindanao governor Sajid Ampatuan was indicted for another set of corruption charges, this time stemming from P500 million worth farm-to-market roads in 2009.

Ampatuan and former provincial treasurer Osmeña Bandila were indicted for graft, malversation of public funds, and failure of accountable officer to render account over allegations that the road funds were misused.

Former provincial accountant John Estelito Dollosa and state auditor Danny Calib were also indicted for graft and malversation of public funds.

“Based on the Commission On Audit (COA) findings, the roads were in bad condition and far shorter than the reported lengths, and the reported accomplishments were no longer visible, are sufficient proof to engender a well-founded belief that public funds were misappropriated for respondents Ampatuan, Bandila, Dollosa and Calib’s own private use or benefit,” the Office of the Ombudsman said in a statement on Monday, July 23.

Maguindanao, who was then provincial governor, entered into an agreement with the  Department of Agrarian Reform  (DAR) in 2009 to build farm-to-market roads but the officials did not submit liquidation reports, list of beneficiaries, and certificates of acceptance to support the release of the funds.

'Projects not implemented'

The Office of the Ombudsman said that Bandila, Dollosa, and Calib executed certifications that the P500 million was disbursed by the province, meaning the money was spent for the implementation of the projects.

“There is no dispute that the Province received the funds.  The investigation conducted by the COA, however, belie the assertion that the projects were implemented,” it said.

Ampatuan is liable because as governor, he is tasked to oversee the implementation of the projects, said the Ombudsman.

“These circumstances sufficiently establish that respondents Ampatuan, Bandila, Dollosa, and Calib came to an agreement concerning the misappropriation of the funds and decided to commit the same,” said the Ombudsman’s resolution.

Ampatuan is facing other corruption charges. He is out on bail for 3 batches of charges over fake construction projects, equivalent to 197 counts of graft, malversation, and falsification of documents for a trend of anomalies. 

Ampatuan is also out on bail for 58 counts of murder related to the Maguindanao massacre of 2009, the single worst election-related violence in recent history. The Court of Appeals affirmed his bail grant  in February 2017.

Following his bail grant in 2015, Ampatuan ran for Shariff Aguak mayor in 2016 but lost. Rappler.com

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 lian.buan@rappler.com or tweet @lianbuan.

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