Ex-Zamboanga accountant gets 23 years in jail over fake receipts

MANILA, Philippines – Former Zamboanga City accountant Sylvia Binarao was sentenced to 23 years in jail for falsifying receipts for her lodging in various official trips. 

The Sandiganbayan Third Division found Binarao guilty of two counts each of graft, malversation of public funds, and falsification of public documents. The court also found Binarao guilty of one count of estafa. The court punished her with 23 years in jail for all the charges. 

Binarao, however, was acquitted in one count of graft for returning the P10,000 cash equivalent of an excess liquidation from one of her trips. 

The prosecution was able to produce documentary evidence showing that Binarao had liquidated a total of P14,800 when she had only paid P4,800 for staying at the Commission on Audit Region 10 Training Center and Dormitory in November 2001. 

In December 2001, Binarao was found to have paid P1,830 to the First Hotel in Binondo, Manila, but liquidated a total of P5,800. Then in May 2002, records showed Binarao liquidating a total of P16,914 for staying at the Cherry Blossoms Hotel in Manila, but prosecutors argued the room only cost P5,914.

Binarao denied falsifying any documents on her official trips, arguing the cases filed against her were initiated by employees who were unhappy over a recent reshuffle she conducted in her office. 

But the Sandiganbayan said the evidence presented has "proved [Binarao's guilt] beyond reasonable doubt."

"There can be no question that the alteration in the amount constitutes falsification of public document because it affected not only the authenticity of the official receipt but it also changed the amount to the document speak something false," said the Sandiganbayan. – Rappler.com