Corruption in the Philippines

Ex-Maguindanao governor Sajid Ampatuan gets at least 40 years for corruption

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Ex-Maguindanao governor Sajid Ampatuan gets at least 40 years for corruption
The Sandiganbayan finds Sajid Ampatuan to have falsified public documents involving a ghost procurement of farm supplies worth P98.25 million

MANILA, Philippines – The anti-graft court sentenced former Maguindanao governor Datu Sajid Islam Ampatuan to reclusion perpetua for corruption involving a ghost procurement of farm supplies worth P98.25 million.

In a 56-page decision on March 10, the Sandiganbayan 3rd Division sentenced Ampatuan to a maximum of 40 years for malversation through falsification of public documents, and another 8 to 12 years for one count of graft.

The decision was penned by Associate Justice Bernelito Fernandez, with concurrences from Presiding Justice Amparo Cabotaje-Tang and Associate Justice Ronald Moreno.

Aside from Ampatuan, the court also convicted former provincial budget officer Datu Ali Abpi of two counts of graft, and former provincial agriculturist Mosibicak Guiabel of two counts of graft and two counts of malversation through falsification of public documents.

Abpi faces 16 to 24 years in prison, while Guiabel faces two reclusion perpetua (maximum of 40 years each) and another 16 to 24 years for graft.

The decision stemmed from the case that accused Abpi and Guiabel of allegedly conspiring with late governor Datu Andal Ampatuan in September 2008 over a P50-million ghost procurement, and with Datu Sajid Islam Ampatuan in June 2009 over a P98.25-million ghost procurement. Both procurements involved palay or corn seeds and fertilizer from Tamoni Enterprises.

“Sufficient evidence exists that the public funds totaling to P49,999,993.15 and P98,249,850.00, respectively, allegedly for the purchase of fertilizers, palay, and corn seeds from Tamoni Enterprises, did not occur. Tamoni Enterprises did not receive any amount from Maguindanao,” the court said in the decision.

State auditors testified for the prosecution, saying they verified with Herbert Tamoni, the owner of Tamoni Enterprises, that these transactions did not happen. Tamoni, however, admitted issuing receipts after a “representative from Maguindanao came and demanded, under threat, that he issue receipts.”

“In sum, this court holds that, with the totality of the evidence presented, it was satisfactorily established that the elements for a violation of Sec. 3 (e) of [Republic Act] No. 3019 exist and that accused Ampatuan, Al Haj and Guiabel are guilty as charged,” the Sandiganbayan decision read.

Two other co-accused in the case – former provincial accountant John Estelito Dollosa Jr. and former provincial treasurer Osmeña Bandila – remain at large. Defendants Kasan Macapendeg, Norie Unas, and Landap Guinaid – members of the bids and awards committee – have already died.

In December 2019, Ampatuan was acquitted in the murder of 58 people, including 32 journalists, in the 2009 Maguindanao massacre. Sajid’s brothers Andal Jr. and Zaldy, along with relatives Datu Anwar Sajid, Datu Anwar Jr., and Datu Anwar Sr., were convicted of 57 counts of murder.

In 2022, he was found guilty of four counts of graft and four counts of malversation of public funds. –

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