Former Tawi-Tawi governor cleared of graft, malversation charges

Former Tawi-Tawi Governor Sadikul Adalla Sahali and two others have been cleared by the Sandiganbayan Second Division of graft and malversation charges involving the P1.75 million purchase of fertilizers and insecticides back in 2004.

Sahali was initially charged for violating Section 3(e) of R.A. 3019 or the Anti-Graft and Corrupt Practices Act and Article 217 of the Revised Penal Code, also known as malversation of public funds, together with former Provincial Accountant Eldie Lemosnero and Provincial General Services Officer Al Bakri Abdullaj Pilihan.

The three accused reportedly made it appear that Meg Agrivet Supplies was the purported winning bidder for the distribution of fertilizers and insecticides for farmer-beneficiaries of Tawi-Tawi back in December 2004. However, the prosecution said no such procurement and distribution were actually made.

During trial, the anti-graft court found that the prosecution was unable to substantiate its claims.

The prosecution had to prove that the funds were not utilized to purchase and distribute the agricultural input for which it had been intended. But the defense's evidence toppled down the accusations.

"With liquidation and clearance from audit the following year of the P1,750,000 that had been advanced to the Provincial Treasurer in December 2004, and the unrebutted evidence of a distribution of fertilizer and insecticide by the provincial LGU a month and a half afterward, the suggestion of loss or misappropriation of the fund amounting to P1.75 million is rendered untenable," the court said.

The 29-page decision was written by Second Division Chairperson Oscar Herrera Jr. with the concurrence of Associate Justices Michael Frederick Musñgi and Bayani Jacinto.