Ex-Misamis Oriental town mayor convicted of 15 counts of graft

MANILA, Philippines – The anti-graft court Sandiganbayan has convicted formermayor Antonio Calingin of  Claveria town in Misamis Oriental of 15 counts of graft over a housing project in 1996.

Calingin was sentenced  to 6 to 8 years in prison for each of the 15 counts, or a total of 90 to 120 years.

He was also perpetually disqualified from holding public office and ordered to pay  P7.205 million as indemnification to the Philippine government.

The court also convicted Calingin’s former municipal accountant Estrellita Ballescas of 8 counts of graft, and private defendant Romeo Quiblat of two counts of graft.

The case stems from the Balay Ticala housing project, where Calingin was accused of charging the city government reimbursements worth P3.58 million paid to himself over non-existent expenses. The contracts were also executed without a public bidding, according to the Ombudsman’s charge sheet.

The Sandiganbayan also convicted Calingin of 14 counts of violating Section 3(e) of the anti-graft law, or causing injury to the government by giving unwarranted benefits to a party, and one count of violating section 3(h) of the same law, or having direct or indirect pecuniary interest to a government transaction.

“The separate acts of Calingin and Ballescas contributed in the end result of defrauding the government coffers. Without their respective signatures on the vouchers, the unlawful disbursements could not have been made,” said the 2nd Division in the decision promulgated on March 22.

Associate Justice Lorifel E. Pahimna penned the 79-page decision with concurrences from Associate Justices Oscar C. Herrera Jr. and Michael Frederick L. Musngi. – Rappler.com