Department of Agriculture

Ex-agriculture chief Alcala cleared in P13.5-M graft case, staff convicted

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Ex-agriculture chief Alcala cleared in P13.5-M graft case, staff convicted
The Sandiganbayan 6th Division finds that Laureano Arnulfo Mañalac, former executive assistant of ex-DA chief Proceso Alcala, was involved in a P13.5-million disbursement from the DA to an NGO of which he was an incorporator

MANILA, Philippines – The anti-graft court Sandiganbayan has acquitted former agriculture secretary Proceso Alcala of graft charges, but convicted his executive assistant Laureano Arnulfo Mañalac in relation to a multimillion-peso public fund transfer to a private foundation.

The case pointed to an anomalous 2012 transaction that transferred P13.5 million in public funds to the Isa Akong Magsasaka Foundation Inc (IAMFI).

Mañalac had admitted in court that he, his wife, his daughter, and his mother-in-law were incorporators of nongovernmental organization (NGO) IAMFI.

In its 40-page decision, the Sandiganbayan Sixth Division held that the prosecution’s evidence against Alcala failed to prove reasonable doubt that violated the anti-graft law.

However, the court found that the evidence proved that Mañalac was involved in the processing of IAMFI’s application. Mañalac resigned from the Department of Agriculture (DA) on September 30, 2012, but the transfer had already been completed by then.

Official receipts from IAMFI showed that Mañalac was an authorized signatory of the private foundation for the disbursement of funds from the DA.

The anti-graft court ruled that the executive assistant’s personal connections to the organization should have caused the NGO’s disqualification from any transaction with the DA.

The court also gave weight to Alcala’s statement of good faith in Mañalac’s work to make the IAMFI a partner organization of the DA.

“In sum, Mañalac’s evident bad faith was proven by his involvement in the processing of the proposal of IAMFI of which he, his wife, his daughter, and in-laws are incorporators,” the Sandiganbayan said.

The court slapped Mañalac with 6 to 10 years imprisonment and perpetual disqualification from holding public office. He also has to give back the P13.5 million fund to the department, subject to a 6% legal interest from the finality of the decision until it is paid in full.

Alcala was among those charged with graft in relation to the alleged creation of a garlic cartel under the Noynoy Aquino administration but he denied the allegations. – Rappler.com

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