Former Sibugay exec gets 194 years for graft, malversation

THE SANDIGANBAYAN has sentenced former Zamboanga Sibugay vice Governor Eugenio Famor to 194 years in prison for non-existent projects under his Aid for the Poor program from 2001 to 2002.

The First Division of the anti-graft court ruled that Famor is guilty of 7 counts of graft as well as 7 counts of malversation through falsification of public documents.

The court, however, said Famor is entitled to the “three-fold rule” which can reduce his prison sentence to around 54 years and a fine of P600,000.

The case against Famor stemmed between August 2001 to January 2002 when he allegedly collected a total of P593,500 worth of public funds for the beneficiaries of the province’s Aid to the Poor Program. Investigations revealed that Famor had full knowledge that the beneficiaries were fictitious.

Famor and his co-accused falsified disbursement vouchers, social case study reports, and reimbursement expense receipts to make it appear that the payment to 131 beneficiaries were made, when in fact the funds were only used for their personal benefit.

In his defense, Famor said the Commission on Audit should be blamed for not knowing the dynamics of the province. He said most of the beneficiaries are poor who hold no permanent addresses, hence the return of confirmation letters to state auditors.

But Famor admitted that his office made no validation efforts as to the actual need or existence of the beneficiaries, saying he believes those are the responsibilities of the provincial social welfare department.

The Sandiganbayan ruled that Famor made it appear that the beneficiaries received their medical, burial, and other forms of financial assistance when in fact there were no supporting documents to back his claim.

“At the onset, the transactions surrounding the reimbursements are already replete with irregularities, which would lead a reasonable man to believe that indeed, these transactions were tainted with bad faith,” the court said.

Meanwhile, the court also ordered that the cases against Daylinda Balbosa, a former provincial government employee who went at large, be archived.

For accused Erlinda Albelda, another provincial government employee, the prosecution was ordered to verify her death, as alleged by one of the witnesses and one of the defense lawyers.

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