Sandiganbayan convicts ex-Cebu lawmaker, ex-Bogo mayor, 6 others in P24.4-M PDAF

Published May 19, 2022, 4:00 PM

by Czarina Nicole Ong Ki


The Sandiganbayan has convicted former Cebu 4th District Rep. Clavel A. Martinez, her son and former Bogo town Mayor Celestino A. Martinez, and six others of graft and malversation for misappropriating in 2002 the former legislator’s P24.4 million in priority development assistance fund (PDAF) which was intended for the Girl Scouts of the Philippines (GSP-Cebu Council).

Clavel and Celestino, together with Municipal Treasurer Rhett E. Minguez; and Municipal Accountant Cresencio P. Verdida (Bogo became a city in 2007), GSP officers Rhodariza V. Kilantang and Julieta G. Quino were convicted of three counts of graft and three counts of malversation.

They were sentenced to jail terms ranging from 18 to 30 years on all counts of graft and were ordered perpetually disqualified from holding any public office. Their retirement benefits were also ordered forfeited.

For malversation convictions involving three counts, they were sentenced to 24 to 51 years imprisonment.

GSP Treasurer Maria Cielo A. Martinez, also the daughter of Clavel, was found guilty in one graft and one malversation charge. GSP officer Paz C. Radaza was found guilty in two graft and two malversation charges.

Clavel, Celestino, Minguez, Verdida, Kilantang, Quino, and Maria Cielo were ordered to pay a fine of P10 million each in one malversation conviction.

“As earlier discussed, it appearing from the evidence that the amount of P10 million was returned to LGU-Bogo and was allegedly spent for road rehabilitation project of the municipality… there is no more basis to impose any civil liability in this case,” the Sandiganbayan’s decision stated.

They, excluding Maria Cielo, were also ordered to pay a fine of P14.4 million for two malversation convictions. They were also held liable, jointly and severally, to reimburse the government through the Bureau of Treasury the amount of P14.4 million.

The court found that in 2002, the accused misappropriated Clavel’s P14.4 million PDAF which was intended as financial assistance to the GSP-Cebu for its anti-illegal drugs campaign.

But the court said the funds went instead to Clavel’s Bank of the Philippines (BPI) account. In 2003, P10 million was misappropriated.

It said that on June 13, 2002, on the same day that the amount was deposited to the GSP Cebu Council, Clavel withdrew through an LBP Check payable to “cash” worth P7.5 million. Simultaneously, Clavel gave the GSP Cebu Council P400,000, which was deemed as a “donation.”

On Sept. 18, 2002, it said that Clavel once again withdrew through another LBP Check, this time payable to her, worth P7.5 million. She then gave another “donation” of P200,000 to the GSP Cebu Council.

“All told, absent any justification from any of the accused adult volunteers and paid professionals of the GSP Cebu Council, this Court finds that it was indeed irregular for the subject two checks to have been payable to ‘cash’ and payable to ‘accused Clavel A. Martinez,'” the decision stated.

“It is abundantly clear to this Court that all the accused herein conspired with accused Clavel A. Martinez and are therefore adjudged guilty beyond reasonable doubt,” it added.

Associate Justice Kevin Narce B. Vivero wrote the 86-page decision with the concurrence of Sixth Division Chairperson Sarah Jane T. Fernandez and Associate Justice Karl B. Miranda.

The case against one of the accused, GSP officer Alejandrita P. Meca, has been ordered archived because she remains at large.