Ex-Sarangani officials found guilty over fake financial assistance

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Metro Manila (CNN Philippines, August 16) — The Sandiganbayan has found former Sarangani officials guilty of graft and malversation for using barangay officials and cooperatives as dummies in the release of fake financial assistance worth ₱450,000 in 2002.

In a decision signed August 15, the anti-graft court’s sixth division sentenced former Sarangani governor Miguel Escobar to up to 20 years imprisonment for the crime.

“The prosecution established that accused Escobar acted with gross inexcusable negligence when he signed and approved the disbursement voucher and check despite the lack of supporting documents,” the court said.

Former Sarangani management analyst Alexis Jude dela Cruz faces the same conviction.

Aside from criminal liability, Escobar and Dela Cruz must refund ₱450,000 to the Bureau of Treasury.

They were both also directed to pay a fine of ₱5,000 each.

The court, meantime, will archive the cases against three other accused namely Amelia Carmina Zoleta, Suzette Clerigo, and Velsie Banzon as they remain at large.