Ex-Zambo Sibugay guv appeals Sandiganbayan arrest order

ABS-CBN News

Posted at Mar 30 2011 05:46 PM | Updated as of Mar 31 2011 01:46 AM

MANILA, Philippines - Former Zamboanga Sibugay Governor George Hofer has asked the Sandiganbayan Fifth Division to suspend implementation of arrest warrants issued against him in connection with 4 criminal charges filed by the Office of the Ombudsman in September 2010.

The defendant, father of Rep. Ann Hofer, is accused of pocketing P125,000 from the Aid to the Poor Program of the Department of Social Welfare and Development.

He was charged along with provincial government employees Editha Quinte and Lucia Palang.

Based on an inquiry by government auditors, disbursement vouchers numbers 101-0109-523 and 101-0110-1645 were issued to facilitate the release of 2 checks for P100,000 and  P25,000 for Hofer.

Graft investigators said the checks were converted to cash even if the money was supposedly earmarked as assistance to poor communities.

The defendants filed a motion dated October 1, 2010, challenging basis for the indictments and seeking dismissal of the cases. 

The court, however, affirmed the validity of the charges and ordered the issuance of arrest warrants against all the accused in a resolution issued last March 4.

Hofer’s lawyers, meanwhile, said implementation of the warrants has to be suspended in light of a motion for reconsideration they filed on March 23, 2011.

The defense also questioned the “no bail” recommendation by Ombudsman prosecutor Clarissa M. Muego on the 2 malversation cases even if she asked the court to set P40,000 for the two separate graft charges.

“It is the humble submission of herein accused that the penalty of reclusion perpetua in malversation of public funds is not the prescribed penalty for the offense for determining the availability of bail to the accused, but merely describes the penalty actually imposed if the amount involved exceeds P22,000,” the defense added.