MANILA, Philippines – Brothers Sajid Islam Ampatuan and Andal Ampatuan Jr., the primary suspects in the 2009 Maguindanao massacre, are facing another criminal case, this time, over the allegedly anomalous multimillion-peso infrastructure projects in Maguindanao province, during Sajid's term as governor.
Filed by the Office of the Ombudsman before the Sandiganbayan was a 483-page separate case information sheet involving charges of violation of Republic Act 3019 or the Anti-Graft and Corrupt Practices Act, falsification of public documents under Article 171 of the Revised Penal Code (RPC) and malversation of public funds under Article 217 of the RPC.
Sajid was the primary accused in all the 161 cases. The ombudsman set his bail at P4 million.
Andal Jr., meanwhile, was named as Sajid's co-accused in eight counts of graft. The ombudsman set his bail at P240,000.
Andal Jr. is in detention for multiple murder charges over the Maguindanao Massacre, thus, posting bail now, seems futile.
Ghost projects, fuel supply
The first set of cases stemmed from the alleged falsification of several accomplishment reports to make it appear that eight infrastructure projects worth P23.363 million were accomplished in accordance with the approved plans and specifications “when in truth and in fact, there was no implementation of said project(s).”
The purported projects included repairs of various farm-to-market roads and common roads in the municipalities of Shariff Aguak, Rajah Buayan, Datu Saudi Ampatuan and Datu Piang as well as the repair of the municipal hall in Shariff Aguak.
In connection with the supposed implementation of the repair work, the ombudsman said a total of P22.367 million in supply contracts for fuel and lubricants were awarded by the provincial government to a Shariff Aguak Petron Station owned by Andal Jr., allegedly without holding the required public bidding.
The ombudsman said that aside from the lack of bidding, the transactions were also covered by undated purchase orders and unnumbered disbursement vouchers.
Meanwhile, the second set of cases stemmed from the alleged anomalous disbursements of P72.256-million provincial funds for the supposed payments of construction and lumber materials purchased from four suppliers.
Sajid and the other respondents allegedly declared that the materials were purchased for the repair of various school buildings in the province.
The ombudsman, however, said that “no such purchases were made” and the purported suppliers were “fictitious and/or non-existent”. The ombudsman said the respondents instead “misappropriated the funds into themselves”.
The ombudsman said Sajid and the other then provincial officials conspired in falsifying 137 disbursement vouchers and other supporting documents to make it appear that the materials were purchased and delivered to the provincial government.
Named as Sajid's co-accused in all the 161 cases was former officer-in-charge provincial engineer Landap Guinaid.
The ombudsman, however, has yet to clarify, why Guinaid was still charge despite his death in July 2016 in an ambush at the provincial capitol in Shariff Aguak.
Meanwhile, former provincial administrator Norie Unas was named as Sajid's co-accused in 145 of the cases.
Unas was the star witness in the electoral sabotage case against former President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo in connection with the 2007 presidential elections. Arroyo is now representative for the 2nd District of Pampanga.
Other former provincial officials named as Sajid's co-accused in some of the cases were:
accountant John Estelito Dollosa Jr.
treasurer Osmena Bandila
Bids and Awards Committee chairman Kasan Macapendeg
BAC member and provincial engineer Ali K. Abpi Al Haj
project engineers Yahiya Kandong
The anomalies were allegedly committed from February to September 2009, or a few months before the massacre of 58 people, including 32 journalists, in Maguindanao on November 23, 2009.
The massacre was allegedly perpetrated by the Ampatuan clan led by its patriarch, former Maguindanao Gov. Andal Ampatuan Sr.
Ampatuan Sr. died in July 2015 while under hospital arrest due to liver cancer.
Sajid was granted bail by the Quezon City Regional Trial Court in March 2015 due to supposed insufficiency of evidence of the prosecution.
Andal Jr. and his bothers Zaldy and Anwar remain detained at Camp Bagong Diwa in Taguig.
In a text message to reporters, Ampatuans' lawyer Gregorio Marquez said they have yet to read the voluminous charge sheets but maintained that “all those contracts or procurements passed through the regular process of procurement, bidding and audit”.
“The complaints are mere allegations and proving the same would be otherwise and must be proved beyond reasonable doubt,” Marquez said.