MANILA - The Sandiganbayan 7th Division sentenced Jose Ramiscal Jr., former president of the defunct Armed Forces of the Philippines Retirement and Separation Benefit System, to a minimum of 73 years and a maximum of 120 years of imprisonment for the underpayment of taxes for a land purchase in 1997.
Lawyer Nilo Flaviano was likewise sentenced with the same number of years as the representative of the owners of the land purchased by the AFP-RSBS for a housing project and marina complex located in a municipal reservation inside Magsaysay Park in Barrio Dadiangas, General Santos City.
The two were charged by the Office of the Ombudsman with 12 counts of graft for the underpayment of capital gains and documentary stamp tax amounting to P3,506,490 for 12 lots.
“The undue injury in the amount of the balance of P292,207.50 or P3,506,490 for the 12 lots represented the portion of the funds, released from the coffers of the government that should have found their way back in the form of taxes but were instead left free to be used for whatever purposed the accused so intended,” the 7th Division said in its decision penned by Chairperson Ma. Theresa Dolores Gomez-Estoesta, with the concurrence of Associate Zaldy Trespeses and Bayani Jacinto.
The two were also found guilty of falsifying Deeds of Sale and were sentenced to a minimum of 48 years and a maximum of 96 years each.
The graft and falsification of public documents cases also included AFP-RSBS Project Director Wilfredo Pabalan but the court did not render judgment against him by reason of his death.
The court meantime acquitted Alex Guaybar, Oliver Guaybar, Jonathan Guaybar, Joel Teves, Jose Rommel Saludar and the late Miguela Cabi-ao, the owners of the land who only signed a Joint Special Power of Attorney.
The court noted that criminal liability did not extend from Flaviano to the vendors, who are mostly “unschooled, simple folks.”
“Since it was his signatures which all appeared in the bilateral and unilateral deeds of sale, as far as Lot X-1 and X-5 are concerned, the responsibility began and ended with him alone,” the court said.
It was also noted in the decision that the Transfer of Certificate of Titles of the lands have been the subject of reversion proceedings and have been ordered by the Supreme Court to be issued under the name of Republic of the Philippines.
“The cancellation of the TCTs issued to AFP-RSBS, however, does not operate to extinguish the accused’s criminal liability which they incurred upon their deliberate failure to pay the correct capital gainst tax based on the gross selling price presumably received by the seller,” the court said.
Aside from imprisonment, the court also sentenced Ramiscal to perpetual disqualification from holding any public office.