Ex-Zambo Sibugay town mayor faces 8-year jail term for graft

MANILA The Sandiganbayan has sentenced a former municipal mayor of a town in Zamboanga Sibugay province to eight years imprisonment for giving higher typhoon cash aid to her husband and sister in 2007.

The Sandiganbayan Sixth Division, in a 32-page decision dated Dec. 4, 2018, also perpetually barred former Naga Mayor Gemma Florante Adana from holding public office.

The anti-graft court, however, dismissed the graft case against former municipal welfare officer Isabel Tabamo on Mar. 24, 2017 after receiving an authenticated copy of her death certificate from the Philippine Statistics Authority (PSA).

After a careful examination of the evidence on record, the Court finds accused Adana's act of allowing the payment of financial assistance to her own husband and sister in amounts evidently higher than those received by other calamity victims who were similarly situated, as clear proof of evident bad faith and manifest partiality in the exercise of her position as the highest ranking public official in the municipality, the court said in its ruling.

The Sandiganbayan noted that the alleged admission of Tabamo in her counter-affidavit and supplemental counter-affidavit that Adana changed the entries in the handwritten list of calamity victims submitted to her is hearsay and unverified because of death and she could no longer testify in court.

Court records showed the Office of the Ombudsman charged Adana and Tabamo with graft for conspiring on Sept. 30, 2007 by giving typhoon victims, Adana's husband, Edgar; and sister, Emma Aranas, PHP45,000 and PHP40,000, respectively, when the maximum amount given to typhoon victims was only PHP10,000.

The Sandiganbayan found probable cause against Adana and Tabamo and issued an arrest order against them on Apr. 24, 2012.

The anti-graft court issued a hold departure order against the accused on May 7, 2012.

Adana and Tabamo appeared before the Zamboanga Sibugay Regional Trial Court Branch 24 and posted bail for temporary liberty on May 21, 2012.

They were arraigned on April 10, 2013 and pleaded not guilty. (PNA)

Source: Philippine News Agency

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