Sandiganbayan convicts Andal Ampatuan Jr. of 21 counts of graft

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Sandiganbayan convicts Andal Ampatuan Jr. of 21 counts of graft
The anti-graft court's decision comes on the 14th year commemoration of the gruesome Ampatuan massacre where 58 people were killed

MANILA, Philippines — Coinciding with the 14th year of the commemoration of the gruesome Ampatuan massacre, the Sandiganbayan convicted Andal Ampatuan Jr. of over 21 counts of corruption on Thursday, November 23.

The country’s anti-graft court found the former Datu Unsay town mayor guilty of graft in relation to anomalous procurement and ghost delivery of fuel for infrastructure projects in Maguindanao in 2008, amounting to millions of pesos. Ampatuan was sentenced to up to ten years of imprisonment for each count, along with perpetual disqualification from holding public post.

On top of these, Ampatuan was also ordered to pay the Maguindanao province P44.184 million representing the amount of the undelivered fuel, subject to 6% annual interest computed from the finality of the decision until paid in full.

The Sandiganbayan’s verdict came on the commemoration of the Ampatuan massacre, where 58 people were killed, which includes 32 journalists. Andal, along with his brothers Zaldy and Anwar Jr., were found guilty of 57 counts of murder over the gruesome massacre.

In convicting Ampatuan and other co-accused, the Sandiganbayan said their actions showed “a scheme to release public funds for purported purchases that were, at most, only partially delivered.”

“The acts of the accused can be characterized as having been done with evidence bad faith, or with palpably and patently fraudulent and dishonest purpose,” the anti-graft court added.

Aside from Ampatuan, the Sandiganbayan also convicted former provincial budget officer Datuali Abpi Al Haj of 19 counts of falsification of public documents, along with one count each of graft and malversation of public funds. He was sanctioned with 114 years of imprisonment for the falsification case, 17 years for malversation, and six years for graft.

The former Maguindanao provincial officer was also ordered to pay a total of P8.45 million in civil liability. Project engineer Samsudin Sema was also convicted of three counts of falsification and was punished with six to seven years of imprisonment for each count, on top of P15,000 fine.

Another engineer, Omar Camsa, was also found guilty of one count of falsification and was sentenced to up to seven years of imprisonment and P5,000 fine. Aside from these convictions, the court also ordered the arrest of other accused who remain at large: former provincial accountant John Estelito Dollosa Jr., provincial treasurer Osmena Bandila, and project engineer Pendi Abpet.

Based on the presented evidence, it was revealed that Ampatuan Jr. was the owner of the Shariff Aguak Petron station, which got the fuel supply contract in 2008 when the province was still under his late father, Andal Ampatuan. In addition, the transaction also did not undergo required public bidding.

The state auditors and prosecutors said that the volume billed for Ampatuan’s gas station — 1.14 million liters of diesel — was impossible. Based on records, the Petron corporation only delivered a total of 618,000 liters to the said station, and the underground tank has only 31,000 liters capacity. —

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