By Ellson Quismorio
The Sandiganbayan First Division has found a former regional director of Department of Education (DepEd)-Region IX guilty of violations of the Anti-Graft and Corrupt Practices Act as well as Malversation of Public Funds in connection with a missing P6.3 million foreign grant.
The graft court sentenced Jesus Nieves to suffer six to 10 years imprisonment and perpetual disqualification from public office for violation of Section 3(e) of Republic Act (RA) No. 3019 (Anti-Graft and Corrupt Practices Act).
For committing Malversation of Public Funds under Article 217 of the Revised Penal Code (RPC), Nieves was slapped with a 15 to 17 years imprisonment and perpetual disqualification from public office.
His co-accused, chief accountant Marilou Tolosa, was acquitted on both charges “for failure of the prosecution to prove her guilt beyond reasonable doubt.”
The hold-departure orders issued against Tolosa were consequently lifted and set aside. “The Bureau of Immigration is directed to remove her name in the hold-departure list,” read the 32-page decision penned by Associate Justice Geraldine Faith Econg.
Concurring with the decision were Associate Justices Efren de la Cruz, division chairman; and Edgardo Caldona. The decision was promulgated last January 17.
Reports said Nieves authorized the Philippine Veterans Bank (PVB) to debit P6.3 million from a trust account and had it transferred to the closed Belgian Integrated Agrarian Reform Support Program (BIARSP) account in November 2007.
The following month, Nieves and Tolosa allegedly withdrew the amount from the account, which was previously maintained for a special project funded by the government of Belgium.
The charges against Nieves and Tolosa were filed by the Office of the Ombudsman back in October, 2018.
Government prosecutors had claimed that the actions of the accused caused the “misappropriation, conversion, or loss” of the public funds.