Ex-TESDA Cavite director gets 79 years for graft

MANILA, Philippines – A former provincial director of the Technical Education and Skills Development Authority (TESDA) office in Cavite was convicted of 13 counts of graft by the Sandiganbayan for awarding government supply contracts to a company owned by her sister. 

The anti-graft court's Second Division sentenced Felicidad Brillo Zurbano to 6 years and one month of imprisonment for each count of the criminal offense, adding up to a total jail term of 79 years.

Associate Justice Teresita Diaz-Baldos, in a 46-page decision, said Zurbano was guilty of having "indirect financial interest" in 13 transactions approved by her office from March to October 2003 concerning the purchase of technical and office supplies.

Documentary evidence and testimonies from witnesses called by the prosecution showed CDZ Enterprises, which acquired the contracts, was owned by Nieves Brillo Cabigan, Zurbano's sister.

Arnold Campos, a TESDA employee, testified for the prosecution during the trial. He said that Zurbano asked him to prepare 3 canvass forms for the questioned transactions. Only two copies, however, were sent out to possible suppliers, as Zurbano kept the third copy.

Once the two canvass forms had been returned from potential bidders with their respective prices, they would be handed back to Zurbano. The third copy would appear one to 3 days later, filled out with price quotations from CDZ Enterprises showing lower bids than competing offers.

The court also noted that CDZ Enterprises only became an accredited supplier of TESDA Cavite after Zurbano became provincial director in January 2003.

"After an incisive scrutiny of the facts and the evidence presented by the parties, the Court thus concludes that the prosecution in these cases was able to discharge its duty to establish the guilt of the accused beyond reasonable doubt," stated the Sandiganbayan. – Rappler.com