THE Sandiganbayan has affirmed the validity of 21 charges for violation of RA 3019 or the Anti-Graft and Corrupt Practices Act against former Datu Unsay municipal mayor Andal Ampatuan Jr. even if his name was not included in the enumeration of respondents that the Office of the Ombudsman recommended for indictment.
In its six-page resolution dated December 16, 2019 that was only released yesterday, the anti-graft court’s Sixth Division said the non-inclusion of Ampatuan’s name was a mere clerical error or inadvertence caused by confusion because of the number of respondents involved.
It said the real intent of the Ombudsman was to name the movant as one of the defendants in all 21 cases alleging fraud in the procurement of fuel for government vehicles.
Associate Justice and Sixth Division chairperson Sarah Jane T. Fernandez penned the ruling with Associate Justice Karl B. Miranda and Keving Narce B. Vivero concurring.
Quoting the pertinent part of the Resolution of the Ombudsman issued on July 11, 2016 the Sandiganbayan noted that a “respondent Ampatuan Jr.” was ordered charged together with his father, Andal Ampatuan Sr., his brother Sajid Ampatuan who both served previously as Maguindanao governors.
The elder Ampatuan died before the cases reached the court which extinguished all his criminal liability.
However, the Ombudsman has likewise ordered the filing of a separate forfeiture case against the Ampatuan family’s alleged ill-gotten wealth.
Graft investigators said they found probable cause based on evidence that P238.318 million worth of fuel and lubricant supposedly purchased from the Shariff Aguak Petron Station did not undergo the required public bidding.
Prosecutors said the fuel station was owned by Datu Unsay municipal mayor Andal Ampatuan Jr.
“A reading of the body of said resolution would clarify that the Ombudsman found that there was probable cause to indict accused Ampatuan for violation of Section 3(e) of RA 3019,” the court pointed out.