BY JOEL CALAMBA ESCOL, Managing Editor
MDNN NATIONAL – A top-official of the Sandiganbayan has ordered the arrest of a former governor of Maguindanao province in Mindanao.
Ordered arrested was former Maguindanao Governor Sajid Ampatuan, who was found guilty of graft and falsification of public documents involving ghost road projects in the province amounting to P20 million.
The decision was penned down by Associate Justice Mary Ann Corpuz-Mañalac of the Sandiganbayan Fifth Division. Mañalac issued the arrest order after the former governor did not appear during the promulgation of the guilty verdict.
“Considering he failed to appear in today’s promulgation, he already waived the remedies available to him. Let a warrant of arrest be issued for the apprehension and serving of sentence of Datu Sajid Ampatuan,” Mañalac claimed.
She added that the former governor could have posted a cash bond for his provisional liberty pending the appeal and other legal recourse his team could make, if he appeared during the promulgation.
Based on the guilty verdict, the Sandiganbayan sentenced Ampatuan to eight years of imprisonment for each count of his graft conviction, plus one count each for his conviction of the falsification of public documents.
He was also ordered to pay the province of Maguindanao a total of P22 million as indemnity for his multiple conviction to graft cases.
The Sandiganbayan also ordered Ampatuan to pay a fine of P5,000 for each of his falsification of public documents conviction.
Meanwhile, Lawyer Manuel Castro told the media they will appeal the ruling of the Sandiganbayan. “We will file the necessary motion,” the lawyer told the media.
Castro claimed his client’s absence during the promulgation proceedings was because of his gout. But the lawyer has failed to secure a medical certificate when asked by the Sandiganbayan lawyers to attest to the condition of the former governor.
Also given conviction of the same case were as follows: Engineers Yahiya Kandong, Omar Camsa, Anthony Kasan, Akmad Salim and Jaypee Piang.
Kandong was meted with two counts of falsification of public documents charges. The other engineers were all convicted of one count of the same offense.
They were all sentenced to stay at least two to six years of imprisonment and pay at least P5,000 for each count of falsification of public funds conviction.
It was learned that the said engineers, except Engr Kandong, were allowed by the anti-graft court to post a cash bond double the amount of their existing P24,000 cash bond for their temporary liberty.
Kandong, however, was ordered to pay P48,000 because of his two-count conviction of falsified public documents.