By Minde Nyl R. Dela Cruz
THE Sandiganbayan has found a former retirement fund official and a lawyer guilty of graft and falsification over the 1997 sale of 12 lot parcels in General Santos City, Cotabato.
In a 55-page decision promulgated last Friday, April 13, the graft court’s 7th Division sentenced retired brigadier-general Jose S. Ramiscal Jr., then president of the now-defunct Armed Forces of the Philippines-Retirement and Separation Benefits System (AFP-RSBS), and lawyer Nilo J. Flaviano, who acted as attorney-in-fact for the land sellers, to imprisonment of six to 10 years for violation of Section 3(e) of the Anti-Graft and Corrupt Practices Act.
Likewise, the two were sentenced to imprisonment of four to eight years for falsifying public documents and ordered to pay a fine of P5,000 for each of the twelve cases lodged against them.
The Sandiganbayan dismissed Mr. Flaviano’s demurrer to evidence, wherein he argued that the prosecution failed to prove conspiracy between him and the AFP-RSBS, for lack of evidence.
The court also dismissed charges against another accused, Wilfredo Pabalan, then project director of AFP-RSBS, who had since died.
The case stemmed from the execution of falsified deeds of absolute sale which stated a lower than agreed price per square meter (sq. m.).
The falsified deeds of absolute sale indicated a price of P3,000 per sq. m. of the 999 sq. m. of property for a total of P2,997,000 when the property was actually sold at P10,500 per sq. m. or a total of P10,489,000.
This led to the payment of capital gains tax amounting to P299,700 and documentary stamp taxes worth P89,910 instead of P524,475 and P157,342.50, respectively.
The Sandiganbayan ruled that the transaction occurred only between AFP-RSBS and Mr. Flaviano and cleared the individual sellers “for failure of the prosecution to prove their guilt beyond reasonable doubt.”
The decision was penned by Sandiganbayan Associate Justice Ma. Theresa Dolores C. Gomez-Estoesta and concurred by Associate Justices Zaldy V. Trespeses and Bayani H. Jacinto.