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Ex-Claveria town mayor guilty of graft

March 29, 2019

BY JOEL CALAMBA ESCOL CLAVERIA, Misamis Oriental - The former mayor of this town was found guilty of graft due to his involvement on the reported anomalous payments of housing project construction works made from 1995 to 1996. Found guilty of 15 counts of graft by the Sandiganbayan 2nd Division was ex-mayor Antonio P. Calingin of the town of Claveria, this province. Calingin has also been found guilty of violating the provisions of the Anti-graft and Corrupt Practices Act in the past years. Based on the 79-page decision penned by Associate Justice Lorifel Pahimna, which was also concurred by Associate Justices Michael Frederick Musngi, the former mayor was involved in the reported anomalous payments of construction works for Balay Ticala Housing Project way back in 1995 up to 1996. Also convicted by Sandiganbayan include Estrellita Ballescas who was then the municipal accountant at the time of the construction of Ticala Housing Project. The former mayor was meted with a minimum of 90 years up to 120 years imprisonment, including perpetual disqualification from holding office. The former municipal accountant was also found guilty of 9 counts of graft and sentenced to 54 years up to 72 years of imprisonment.    The Sandiganbayan also sentenced a private individual identified as Renato Quiblat. He was convicted of 2 counts of graft and will be imprisoned for 12 years up to 16 years. The former mayor was also ordered by the Sandiganbayan to pay 7.205 million.  Ballescas and Quiblat was also ordered to return to the government P1.345 million. Three other accused in the same anomalous payments namely Romeo Estrada, former municipal engineer; Lourdes Plantas, former municipal treasurer; and Joaquin Dilag, former assistant municipal treasurer  - were dismissed by Sandiganbayan as they have already died. The government probers at Sandiganbayan 2nd Division found out that the former mayor has approved vouchers and also issued its corresponding checks. It was then signed by the municipal accountant Ballescas. And said checks were also accepted by Quiblat. The investigators said in 79-page decision that Ballescas displayed gross negligence which was deemed inexcusable. This act constitutes evident bad faith when the municipal account Ballescas also justified the payments as well as the reimbursements even without the usual paper trail in all government transactions involving payments. The decision said that “without any other document establishing the basis for the supposed advance payment made and the claim for reimbursement,” she should not have affixed her signature on the vouchers.” This, according to the results of the probe demonstrates the municipal accountant’s wanton and deliberate disregard of the demands of her duties being the municipal accountant. In the case of the former mayor of Claveria town, Sandiganbayan said Calingin should not have made payment “in the first place for some irregularities maybe found” in said transactions. The court also found that sometime in May 1995, the accused Calingin facilitated the payment of P4,500,000 to private persons identified as Kim Tulio and Andy Bejasa for different construction works. However, accomplishments in its actuality only totalled to P1,706,854.70. On December 2, 1995, the group reported about land management development and processed a voucher for P1,500,000. But in actuality, there were no expenses made for land management development.  Another charge was the recorded payment for project management fee in which it was paid to DVF Construction dated December 22, 2015, and this totalled to P750,000. But still, no actual services rendered. There were still other anomalous transactions in said 79-page decision that were no longer included in this news report, and all of them resulted to the conviction of the accused former government executives mentioned above.  

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More than 50 million peso worth of pirated CDs and DVDs confiscated

March 25, 2019

BREAKING NEWS The Optical Media Board confiscates more than 50 million-peso worth of pirated CDs and DVDs in a three simultaneous operation in three areas in Iligan City, past 5pm today (March 25). (Divina M. Suson)

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Fake cigar makers, peddlers to face charges: NBI-10

March 11, 2019

By GERRY LEE GORIT and JESSIE MONGCAL Correspondents CAGAYAN de Oro City--The National Bureau of Investigation (NBI) yesterday it will file criminal charges against individuals behind the proliferation of illegally made and illegally sold cigarettes in Northern Mindanao. NBI-10 Regional Director Patricio Bernales said those who are suspected of manufacturing the counterfeit tobacco products will be charged with violation of Republic Act 8293 or the Intellectual Property Code of the Philippines. He said the suspects will be facing intellectual properties rights case for copying legitimate products “It was determined that these products were counterfeit based on verification made by company representatives,” Bernales said, referring to the boxes of cigarettes bearing brands commonly found in the market that were seized by a joint team of NBI-10 and the regional office of  the Bureau of Internal Revenue in a warehouse in Barangay Kauswagan, this city, on Thursday, March 7. Those who were able to determine that the confiscated cigarette brands using an electronic device were faked were representatives from the Philip Morris Fortune Tobacco Corp. (PMFTC) and Japan Tobacco Industry. NBI-10 special investigator Nolan Gadia, in a previous interview following the confiscation, placed the worth of the seized cigarettes at about P0 million. One of the possible respondents was identified by the NBI as Shi Zhulian, a Chinese national based on his passport, who was at the warehouse when authorities came. Aside from Shi, there were other individuals, both Chinese and Filipinos, who will be included in the list of respondents, although Bernales has yet to divulge the names of the other persons. Bernales said they released Shi from the NBI-10 custody as he was not subjected yet to an inquest proceeding at the City Prosecutor’s Office. “But he (Shi) can be arrested anytime,” he said, adding that the Chinese national is now under the custody Filipino associate of Shi while awaiting the filing of the legal action. Bernales said they are now determining if Shi and his cohorts are members of larger group allegedly involved in the manufacturing of counterfeit goods. He added the NBI is also trying to connect Shi and his companions with a group responsible for the manufacture of cigarettes that law enforcers raided in Barangay Cugman, this city, and in Villanueva last year. Both the NBI and BIR are planning to destroy the confiscated items in the immediate future.

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