Ex-Misamis Oriental mayor sentenced to 120 years for graft

THE Sandiganbayan Second Division sentenced a former mayor of Claveria, Misamis Oriental for 90 to 120 years imprisonment for graft.

Ex-Mayor Antonio Calingin was found guilty of 14 counts of violation of Section 3 (e) and one count of Section 3 (h) of Republic Act 3019 or the Anti-Graft and Corrupt Practices Act.

The case stemmed from the irregular releases of public funds for a housing project in 1995 and 1996.

Calingin’s co-accused, former municipal accountant Estrellita Ballescas, was ordered jailed for 48 to 64 years after she was found guilty on nine counts of the same offense.

Private defendant Romeo Quiblat was meted a jail term of 12 to 16 years after his conviction for two counts of the same crime.

Calingin was also barred from holding another government office and was ordered to pay P7.205-million as indemnification to the Republic of the Philippines.

Ballescas was held jointly liable to pay the government indemnity amounting to P1.345 million.

Three other accused, former municipal treasurer Lourdes Plantas, former assistant municipal treasurer Joaquin Dilag, and former municipal engineer Romeo Estrada, died during the pendency of the case, resulting in the dismissal of the charges against them.

Originally, there were 47 graft cases filed in 2008 against the defendants but the prosecution withdrew 32 of the charges on August 23, 2009, with a manifestation that the allegations were already included in the 15 remaining cases.

Court records showed that Calingin allegedly approved the release of excess payments for construction works for the Balay Ticala Housing Project, paid himself reimbursements worth P3.576 million for non-existent expenses, and awarded contracts to various suppliers and contractors without public bidding.