MANILA, Philippines - The Sandiganbayan Fourth Division has convicted former National Electrification Administration (NEA) deputy administrator Manuel Luis Sanchez on graft and malversation charges for the loss of government funds amounting to P85 million 11 years ago.
In a 45-page decision penned by Associate Justice Maria Cristina J. Cornejo, the graft court held Sanchez liable for the loss of the money, which he claimed was secretly withdrawn by other persons.
Associate Justices Jose R. Hernandez and Gregory S. Ong, division chairman, concurred with the verdict.
Sanchez was meted 6 to 10 years for graft and 10 to 18 years for malversation, with an additional penalty of perpetual special disqualification from holding public office.
He was also fined P85 million, which is equivalent to the fund lost, and was ordered to reimburse NEA the entire amount.
The court held that although Sanchez challenged the veracity of his signatures appearing on documents used for the bank withdrawal, his expert witness failed to persuade the court after admitting that no 2 signatures would be exactly alike even if done by the same person.
It also noted that the prosecution evidence clearly established the defendant’s participation in the crime highlighted by the opening of the special deposit account on March 1, 2000 without following regular procedures.
Land Bank officers testified that Sanchez’s technical assistant, Galileo Ibay, opened the account presenting only signature cards that were already signed by Sanchez and then NEA chief Conrado Estrella III.
It was also Ibay who delivered a letter by Sanchez and Estrella authorizing the bank to debit P45 million on May 26, 2000 and another letter dated May 31, 2000 with the same signatories for the issuance of two cashier’s checks for P25 million and P15 million, respectively.
“Based on the foregoing facts, the questioned bank transactions involving the subject NEA savings account could not have been made without authority from the persons concerned, namely, the officers-signatories of the accountholder, NEA, one of who is Sanchez,” the court said.