Sandiganbayan convicts Zamboanga Sibugay ex-governor over aid to poor scam
26 February 2018
For diverting P593,500.00 of public funds to personal use, former Zamboanga Sibugay Vice Governor Eugenio Famor was convicted of seven counts of violation of Section 3(e) of the Anti-Graft and Corrupt Practices Act (Republic Act No. 3019) and seven counts of Malversation Through Falsification of Public Documents (Revised Penal Code).
Famor was sentenced by the Sandiganbayan to suffer imprisonment ranging from 6 years to 18 years for each of the offenses, with perpetual absolute and special disqualification from holding public office, profession or calling licensed by the government. He was also ordered to pay a fine totaling to P593,500.00.
The sentence is, however, subject to the threefold rule that when the accused has to serve two or more penalties, he shall serve them simultaneously if the nature of the penalties so permits, but the maximum duration of his sentence shall not be more than threefold the length of time corresponding to the most severe of the penalties imposed upon him, which in no case shall exceed 40 years.
Evidence proved that Famor together with co-accused, Erlinda Albelda and Daylinda Balbosa, illegally claimed reimbursements under the Aid to the Poor Program of the Department of Social Welfare and Development, by orchestrating a system of false claims and fabricated supporting documents. Famor, et al. made it appear that he advanced financial assistance totalling P593,500.00 to 131 beneficiaries in the form of burial, medical and other form of assistance from August 2001 to January 2002.
The results of special audit conducted by the Commission on Audit revealed that the disbursements were not supported by proper documents such as medical certificates, doctor’s preions or death certificates. The COA also failed to locate any of the listed beneficiaries.
The Court brushed aside Famor’s alibi that all the beneficiaries are itinerants who do not possess properties or hold permanents jobs, and thus, they travel from one municipality to another, as being unlikely.
“All these point to a fraudulent scheme of using a legitimate program such as the Aid to the Poor to funnel government funds to accused’s personal use, by making it appear that the funds were paid to legitimate beneficiaries, who later turned out to be fictitious. The manner by which the alleged doling out of aid were carried out, and the subsequent reimbursements therefore, all [point to] the evident bad faith of accused Famor, Albelda and Balbosa,” stated the Decision.
As accused Balbosa remains at large, the court issued an alias warrant against her and the cases were ordered archived. Insofar as accused Albelda, the court directed the prosecution to verify her death and to submit a death certificate, if any. ###