Pardoned graft convict vows to pay up

ABS-CBN News

Posted at Nov 15 2010 07:35 PM | Updated as of Nov 16 2010 03:35 AM

MANILA, Philippines – A private contractor whose 203-year sentence on 27 counts of graft got written off after being pardoned by then-President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo, has agreed to pay penalties imposed by the Sandiganbayan and the Supreme Court.

Jaime Ponce de Leon made the promise after prosecutors sought his arrest for non-payment of his liabilities.

In a 2-page manifestation filed with the Sandiganbayan Second Division last November 2, lawyer Ernesto Dinopol said his client "is ready and willing to pay what is required of him".

De Leon asked the court to order a computation of the full amount he is supposed to pay based on a Supreme Court decision dated June 25, 1990.

The SC ruling affirmed a July 7, 1989 verdict of the graft court, which convicted de Leon of 14 counts of graft for conspiracy with officials of the Ministry of Public Highways (now Department of Public Works and Highways) - Bais City Highway Engineering District (BCHED) in ghost road projects in Negros Oriental. 

He was sentenced to 8 years for each count or a total of 112 years.

On December 15, 1998, the Third Division also convicted him and 7 co-accused on 13 additional counts of graft with 7 years imprisonment for each count or a total of 91 years. 

Petitions for certiorari filed by the defendants were dismissed by the Supreme Court on March 10, 1999.

De Leon remained at large for close to a decade until he suddenly filed a motion on March 5, 2007, saying he is placing himself under court jurisdiction to serve his sentence.

A commitment order was issued on April 11, 2007 to turn over de Leon to the New Bilibid Prisons in Muntinlupa City the following day.

Once there however, officers of the Sandiganbayan Sheriff Office were presented a copy of a conditional pardon signed by Arroyo and then-Executive Secretary Eduardo Ermita, which had preceded de Leon's arrival by only a few hours.