MANILAA former disbursing officer of an agency under the Department of Justice is now facing a seven-year prison term after the Sandiganbayan convicted him of malversation when he pocketed more or less PHP51,000 of public funds in 1989.
In a decision dated Nov. 16, 2018, the anti-graft court's First Division found Celso Tan Fuentes of the Probation Administration (PA) Regional Office 10 in Cagayan de Oro City guilty of malversation of public funds.
Considering that the accused had already restituted the full amount of PHP51,481.99, no civil liability is assessed against him, the Sandiganbayan said in its 23-page decision.
The Office of the Ombudsman accused Fuentes of conspiring with former PA Regional Office 10 Director Maximo Bernal Jr. of misappropriating PHP51,481.99 on Nov. 24, 1989, which they converted to their personal use.
On Nov. 5, 1990, the Ombudsman charged Fuentes before the Sandiganbayan with malversation of public funds.
Records of the case showed that Fuentes entered a not guilty plea on Nov. 21, 1991. He moved for a reinvestigation implicating Bernal in a counter-affidavit dated Sept. 20, 1991 and asked that his plea of not guilty be set aside.
The anti-graft court granted the motion for reinvestigation in an order dated March 12, 1991.
The Ombudsman later filed the case of malversation of public funds, impleading Bernal.
Bernal pleaded not guilty when arraigned on Feb. 8, 1993.
In an order dated Nov. 22, 1993, the Sandiganbayan ordered the case against Fuentes archived for his continued failure to appear for the arraignment.
The anti-graft court discharged Bernal from the case on Mar. 28, 1994 in view of the recantation of Fuentes and the prosecution's motion to dismiss dated Mar. 17, 1994.
Fuentes appeared before the Sandiganbayan on Mar. 28, 2017 thus, the revival of the case.
He entered a not guilty plea during his arraignment on Apr. 20, 2017.
In its resolution dated Feb. 26, 2018, the anti-graft court denied the accused's demurrer to evidence, finding prima facie evidence to sustain a verdict of conviction for malversation of public funds against him, unless rebutted by the defense. (PNA)
Source: Philippine News Agency