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2 former ARMM execs sentenced to 10 years each

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Two former officials of the now defunct Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao were sentenced to up to 10 years imprisonment each for the anomalous purchase of emergency medical kits eight years ago.

The Sandiganbayan convicted former ARMM disbursing officer Serda Hassan-Bangsa and former ARMM Manila Liaison Office head Socorro Natividad of violating Republic Act 319 or the Anti-Graft and Corrupt Practices Act.

In a 36-page decision written by Associate Justice Karl Miranda dated March 22, the anti-graft court’s Sixth Division also ordered the two to pay the supplier, Geneve SA Philippines, the P5 million balance of the purchase price of the GPI rescue kits they failed to deliver.

In the same decision, the anti-graft court ordered the case against former ARMM governor Parouk Hussin and former ARMM accountant Ricardo Luna to be archived until such time these are brought within the jurisdiction of the court. Both Hussin and Luna have yet to be arraigned.

Earlier, Hussin asked the Supreme Court to stop the trial of the case, but this was nixed by the tribunal.

“Taken together, the overt acts of accused Hassan-Bangsa, Natividad, Luna, and Hussin point to a joint purpose and design, concerted action, and community of interest, which is the processing and approval of the disbursement vouchers and purchase order for the down payment of the GPI rescue kits to Geneve without public bidding, available funds, and incomplete documents,” the Sandiganbayan said. Maricel V. Cruz

“In addition, partly because of the said deficiencies, they and the ARMM failed to pay the remaining balance of the said purchase price amounting to P5 million,” it added.

The charges were filed on July 31, 2008, five years after the transaction was completed.

Associate Justices Sarah Jane Fernandez and Kevin Vivero concurred in the decision.


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