MANILA — The Sandiganbayan 3rd Division on Wednesday denied former Maguindanao governor Sajid Ampatuan's motion to reconsider his graft and malversation convictions over ghost agricultural projects in 2009.
In its resolution, the anti-graft court said that it found no strong evidence in Ampatuan's recurring claim that the disbursement vouchers for the said projects worth P92 million bore his forged signature.
“Other than his presentation of an expert witness, no strong evidence of non-culpability was further presented,” the court said in the resolution penned by Associate Justice Bernelito Fernandez, with the concurrence of Presiding Justice and Division Chairperson Amparo Cabotaje-Tang and Associate Justice Ronald Moreno.
Last March, Ampatuan and several other Maguindanao provincial officials including former agriculturist Mosibicak Guiabel, were found guilty of graft and malversation over the ghost projects.
Guiabel also filed a motion for reconsideration for his conviction in two graft and two malversation cases, which the court also denied.
Guiabel said in his appeal that he was only forced to sign documents by the late provincial governor Andal Ampatuan, Sr.
“Although he continues to harp on the presence of duress, being an affirmative allegation, this requires clear and convincing evidence, which he failed to present,” the court said.
Ampatuan is a scion of an influential political family in Maguindanao that orchestrated the 2009 massacre where 58 people, including at least 32 journalists, were murdered.
The former governor's brothers, Zaldy and Andal Jr., were convicted for the crime, but Sajid himself was acquitted in 2019.
As of writing, he is now the vice mayor of Shariff Saydona Mustapha town in Maguindanao del Sur.