Maguindanao's ex-budget officer found guilty of graft, ordered to pay P14 million

Adrian Ayalin, ABS-CBN News

Posted at Mar 10 2020 05:17 PM

MANILA - The former budget officer of Maguindanao was found by the Sandiganbayan guilty of graft over fraudulent transactions from 2008 to 2009.

In a decision promulgated Feb. 14, 2020, the court sentenced Datu Ali Abpi, Al-Haj to imprisonment of 8 to 12 years, and ordered him to pay a fine of P14.25 million, which is equivalent to the amount of unlawful purchases made using government funds.

In the information filed by the Office of Ombudsman in 2017, Abpi, Al Haj was accused of conspiring with other provincial officials to make it appear that various medicines were bought from a supplier named Farmacia Minda, found later to be fictitious.

In its decision, the court said payments were made by the provincial government to Farmacia Minda even before disbursement vouchers were issued.

The prosecution was also able to establish that the Special Audit Team of the Commission on Audit was not able to locate Farmacia Minda, and that no business permits were issued to the company.

“These cumulatively serve to support the prosecution’s charge that the accused conspired to make it appear as if medicine was legitimately procured from Farmacia Minda when, in fact, it was a fictitious entity that could not have participated in any bidding, much less deliver the goods required by the provincial government,” the court said in the decision penned by Associate Justice Bayani Jacinto, with the concurrence of Division Chairperson Alex Quiroz and Associate Justice Reynaldo Cruz.

The court, however, acquitted Abpi, Al Haj in the related two cases of malversation and 41 cases of falsification of documents, citing the prosecution's failure to prove his guilt.

The cases involved transactions that took place during the term of governor Datu Andal Ampatuan, Sr.. The latter was no longer indicted as his death in 2015 preceded the filing of the cases.

The court archived the cases of Abpi, Al Haj’s co-accused, former provincial accountant John Estelito Dollosa and provincial treasurer Osmeña Bandila, who remain at-large.

The court also ordered the prosecution to produce the death certificates of the other accused who died while the trial was ongoing, namely Kasan Makapedeg, Norie Unas and Landap Guinaid.