FORMER Barlig, Mountain Province mayor Magdalena Lupoyon and treasurer Albert Marafo have been convicted of two counts of graft by the Sandiganbayan Third Division over their alleged mishandling of cash donations from media giants ABS-CBN Corporation and GMA Network Inc. in 2009.
Voting 4-1, a special division of five justices of the Sandiganbayan sentenced the two local government officials to six years imprisonment for each count or a total of 12 years.
Also convicted in one count of graft were former vice mayor Edmundo Sidchayao, Sangguniang Bayan members Clark Ngayam and Fernando Cablog, and municipal engineer Danilo Lucas. They were each meted six-year jail terms.
The cases stemmed from an audit report which exposed irregularities in transactions pertaining to a P364,890 donation from GMA Network and P3 million from ABS-CBN in 2009.
Government auditors testified that the money was not deposited in the municipal government’s official bank account with the Land Bank of the Philippines but to a separate account at the Philippine National Bank which they described as a “deliberate attempt” to evade government accounting and auditing rules.
The P3 million from ABS-CBN was not recorded in the trust fund books of account of the municipality, no corresponding journal entry voucher or a report of collections or deposits.