Sandiganbayan convicts 2 ex-BFP execs of estafa, graft raps

MANILA-- The Sandiganbayan has convicted two former Bureau of Fire Protection (BFP) officials of estafa and graft charges for ghost repairs of vehicles in 2001.

The anti-graft court convicted former BFP Chief Francisco Senot, along with Florante Cruz, former chief of the Finance Service Unit, for the 2001 ghost repairs of the BFP-owned Kia Besta van and an Isuzu Elf Truck which caused undue injury to the government in the amount of PHP192,023.73.

In an 86-page decision, the Sandiganbayan found Senot and Cruz guilty beyond reasonable doubt of five counts of estafa through falsification for violation of Articles 315 and 171 of the Revised Penal Code (RPC).

They were sentenced to suffer the penalty of imprisonment of six to 10 years for each count.

They were also meted the accessory penalties of temporary absolute disqualification, perpetual special disqualification from the right of suffrage and a fine of PHP5,000.

Likewise, Senot and Cruz were found to have violated five counts of violation of Section 3(e) of Republic Act No. 3019, or the "Anti-Graft and Corrupt Practices Act".

They were sentenced to suffer six to eight years imprisonment for each count with perpetual disqualification from holding public office.

The Sandiganbayan also ordered the accused to reimburse the government the amount of PHP192,023.73 as civil liability.

The Office of the Ombudsman (Ombudsman) proved during the trial that Senot and Cruz, with evident bad faith, maneuvered the release of funds from the BFP coffers by making it appear that its Besta van and the Isuzu Elf truck underwent repairs on five separate occasions in 2001 when in fact no repairs were made.

The simulated transactions were supported by incomplete and undated documents corroborated by the testimonies of witnesses Chief Supply Accountable Officer Renato Molina and driver Danilo Dizon.

Molina and Dizon admitted that they were forced to sign the supporting documents for fear of reprisal because Senot and Cruz summoned and threatened them.

"Accused Senot and Cruz, both high-ranking officers of the BFP, abused their respective official positions to influence the prosecution witnesses into signing the documents supporting the disbursement vouchers," the Sandiganbayan noted.

Source: Philippine News Agency