By Czarina Ong Ki
The Sandiganbayan Fourth Division has convicted three officials of the National Commission on Muslim Filipinos (NCMF) and a private individual of their criminal charges involving the anomalous use of the priority development assistance fund (PDAF) of the late Maguindanao 2nd District Congressman Simeon Ampatuan Datumanong.
NCMF Commissioner Mehol Kiram Sadain, Acting Chief Aurora Ocular Aragon-Mabang, Director III Galay Makalinggan, and Maharlikang Lipi Foundation Inc. (MLFI) General Manager Queenie Rodriguez were slapped with graft charges due to the endorsement of MLFI as the project partner in implementing the livelihood projects in Datumanong’s district, which was funded by his PDAF.
The accused made an offer for plea bargaining on May 7, 2018, to plead guilty to the lesser offense of Section 7(a) of R.A. 6713 or the Code of Conduct and Ethical Standards for Public Officials instead of graft.
The prosecution manifested no opposition, so in a decision promulgated on June 14, the anti-graft court approved the plea bargain.
Sadain, Aragon-Mabang, and Rodriguez pleaded guilty to two breaches of conduct violations and were imposed a total fine of P10,000. Meanwhile, Makalinggan is imposed a fine of just P5,000 after he was found guilty of one breach of conduct violation.
Their cash bonds and hold departure orders were likewise ordered released by the court.
The 10-page decision was written by Acting Chairperson Zaldy Trespeses with the concurrence of Associate Justices Georgina Hidalgo and Bayani Jacinto.