By Czarina Nicole Ong-Ki
The Sandiganbayan Fourth Division has acquitted private individual Leidelyn Glay Padigos of her graft charge in relation to the reportedly anomalous disbursement of P6.3 million worth of public funds to a non-government organization back in 2001.
Padigos is one of the co-accused in the charge for violation of Section 3(e) of R.A. 3019 or the Anti-Graft and Corrupt Practices Act filed against former Zamboanga del Sur Governor Romeo Vera Cruz.
On January 22, 2001, P6.3 million was disbursed from the coffers of Zamboanga del Sur to serve as financial assistance to Rural Livelihood Multi-Purpose Cooperative (RULIMCO), even though it did not submit the required project proposal evincing the intended utilization of the government’s money. Padigos served as the NGO’s treasurer and received the check on its behalf.
The case against Cruz and the others was terminated by the court on August 22, 2013 after they were acquitted, while Padigos and Lowell Lalican, Chairman of RULIMCO, remained at large.
She was arrested on April 25, 2018 then arraigned on May 11. Padigos entered a “Not Guilty” plea.
For her defense, Padigos said that she did not commit any graft violation. There was also no way she could have committed any violation of the law as a private citizen, and the fact that she received the check on behalf of RULIMCO is insufficient to prove that she had conspiratorial intent.
The anti-graft court did not agree with a part of her argument, since a private person may be charged and be convicted of graft if satisfactorily proven by the prosecution. However, there was simply no conspiracy in this case.
Contrary to what the prosecution claimed, the court said RULIMCO was indeed qualified to receive financial assistance from the government. Hence, there was no fault on the part of the accused public officials to disburse the money and on the part of Padigos to receive the check.
“The court finds cause to dismiss the case against herein accused Padigos and find for her acquittal,” the decision read.
The eight-page decision was written by Associate Justice Bayani Jacinto with the concurrence of Chairperson Alex Quiroz and Associate Justice Reynaldo Cruz.