Department of Education

Sandiganbayan finds ex-DepEd regional director guilty of graft

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Sandiganbayan finds ex-DepEd regional director guilty of graft
The former head of the DepEd office in Zamboanga Peninsula gets prison time for diverting agency funds to a dormant account, then conniving with an accomplice to withdraw the money

MANILA, Philippines – The Sandiganbayan convicted a former regional director of the Department of Education (DepEd) of two criminal charges for pocketing public funds.

In a 53-page decision, the Sandiganbayan First Division said Jesus Nieves, who once headed the the education department’s regional office in Zamboanga Peninsula (DepEd Region 9), diverted P6.1 million in agency funds to a dormant account in December 2007, then connived with another agency staff to withdraw the money.

State Auditor Remegio Suico Jr. and his team who put together the paper trail testified in court that the funds that came from DepEd Region 9’s bank account was transferred to the account of Belgian Integrated Agrarian Reform Support Program, which had already been closed as of August 2007.

Philippine Veterans Bank (PVB) Mindanao Area head Jaime Cesar Santos said DepEd cashier Virginia Montero withdrew that large sum of money and encashed the check. Montero died before the cases reached the court.

In its ruling, the Sandiganbayan said any bank transfer would not have been possible without Nieves’ go-signal.

“The fact that he affixed his signature on the authorization to transfer the funds and on the check to facilitate the withdrawal of the amount shows that he permitted the taking of the money from the government,” the ruling read.

The anti-graft sentenced Nieves to six to ten years in prison, banned him from public office, and convicted him of a separate charge of malversation, which came with it a jail sentence of up to 17 years, and a fine of P6.1 million, which is the amount of funds that were removed from the DepEd’s bank account.

That money, which would have paid teachers’ salaries and benefits, remain accounted for, according to the Sandiganbayan.

Meanwhile, the anti-graft court acquitted Nieves’ co-accused, DepEd Region 9’s accountant Marilou Tolosa, citing insufficient evidence to establish guilt beyond reasonable doubt. –

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