Thu. Nov 26th, 2020

Two former officials of the then Department of Education, Culture and Sports have been sentenced by the Sandiganbayan to up to 10 years imprisonment for their part in a fraudulent transaction involving textbooks in 1998 worth P24 million.

In a decision dated October 16, the anti-graft court found former Education officials Emilia de la Aranas and Ernesto Guiang guilty for violation of Republic Act 3019 or the Anti-Graft and Corrupt Practices Act

De la Aranas was the agency’s Region 8 (Eastern Visayas) chief accountant while Guiang was the budget and finance division chief. Publishing company agent Mary Ann Maslog, one of the accused, died last year, the court noted.

The Ombudsman charged Maslog, Aranas and Guiang liable for processing and paying out two falsified Department of Budget and Management Sub-Allotment Release Order (SARO) for P10 million on February 3, 1998 and for P14 million on June 22, 1998 to Esteem Enterprises which Maslog represented.

“The Court finds that the prosecution has sufficiently proved that the acts of the accused in proceeding with the payment of the SAROs despite the non-issuance of the required Notice of Cash Allocation was done through evident bad faith and through their gross negligence, knowing fully well there was no such Sub-ARO and notice of cash allocation to fund the purchase of the textbooks and supplementary materials…to the damage and prejudice of the government,” the court decision read.

In 1999, Maslog figured in news reports after she delivered a box containing P3 million in cash to the Department of Budget and Management (DBM) office in Manila, prompting then Budget Secretary Benjamin Diokno to ask the National Bureau of Investigation to investigate Maslog for the bribe try.

Maslog claimed she mistakenly brought the wrong box to the DBM and said that she was supposed to bring a box of ceramic mugs as Christmas giveaways. (pna.gov.ph)

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