Ex-Zamboanga Sibugay governor Famor convicted of graft again

MANILA, Philippines – For the second straight year, the anti-graft court Sandiganbayan has convicted former Zamboanga Sibugay vice governor Eugenio Famor of graft, this time in connection with the illegal hiring of a provincial employee.

In its 24-page decision promulgated on March 29, the Sandiganbayan's 2nd Division also convicted Famor's co-accused, former Sangguniang Panlalawigan Secretary Nicasio Peña and private secretary Camacho Chiong.

The 3 were sentenced to 6 years and one month to 8 years in  jail and were perpetually disqualified from holding public office. They were also ordered to pay back P161,563.30 to the provincial government. 

The case involved the hiring Camacho Chiong as provincial board secretary despite bypassing some required processes. 

According to court documents, Famor approved the appointment of Chiong as board secretary, with salary grade 22,  in October 2001. The appointment was based on the recommendation of provincial board secretary Peña.

The appointment of Chiong, however, did not go through the Personnel Selection Board (PSB), the Provincial Human Resource Management Office (PHRMO), and the Civil Service Commission (CSC).

'Evident bad faith'

 

The board secretary position required a college degree with 3 years of relevant experience and a Career Service Professional second level eligibility. Chiong was an  undergraduate.

“Under this factual backdrop, the Court concludes that Peña in recommending Chiong and Famor in appointing Chiong both acted in evident bad faith thereby giving unwarranted benefit and advantage to Chiong,” the court said.

Famor defended himself by saying he did not know about the minimum qualificaitons for the position given to Chiong, and said he thought his signature served only as an endorsement that still needed validation.

The anti-graft court, citing the Supreme Court pronouncement in the case of Co vs Sandiganbayan, said Famor “cannot hide behind the cloak of ignorance.”

“On the contrary, the attendant circumstances in this case gives the impression that Famor and Peña purposely chose to ignore the long-established rules and regulations on appointment in the civil service,” the court explained.

It said that since all the elements of Section 3(e) of Republic Act No. 3019 or the Anti-Gract and Corrupt Practices Act “were without doubt proved in this case and conspiracy having been established, a moral certainty is achieved to find the 3 accused criminally liable.”

The decision was penned by Associate Justice Lorifel Pahimna with concurrences from 2nd Division chair Oscar Herrera Jr and Associate Justice Michael Frederick Musngi.

This is Famor's latest conviction. On February 2, 2018, he was convicted of 7 counts each of graft and malversation through falsification of public documents and was given a jail term ranging from 120 to 194 years.

In the 2018 case, Famor was held liable for pocketing P593,500 in public funds from the government’s Aid to the Poor Program. The program was intended to provide cash assistance for the livelihood and medical and burial expenses of indigent constituents. – Rappler.com