MANILA - Former Maasin, Iloilo town mayor Mariano Malones was sentenced 6 to 10 years imprisonment after the Sandiganbayan found him guilty of graft in connection with the multi-million fertilizer fund scam.
In a decision promulgated Nov. 8, 2019, the anti-graft court also sentenced then municipal accountants Cecilio Montefrio and Jimmy Borra to the same prison time for the irregular purchase of Bio-Nature fertilizers from Feshan Philippines, Inc. worth P999,000 in 2004.
The court noted in its ruling that Malones received 30 percent kickback from the transaction, according to Feshan representative Jose Barredo.
Malones denied the accusation but the court was not convinced.
“Denial, like alibi, is considered with suspicion and always received with caution, not only because it is inherently weak and unreliable but also because it is easily fabricated and concocted,” the ruling read.
In the charge filed by the Office of the Ombudsman in 2016, Malones and his then accountants committed conspiracy to purchase 666 bottles of Bio-Nature fertilizer at P1,500 each, when suitable substitutes worth P150 are available, resulting to an overpricing of P889,110.
The court noted that the funds used by Malones came from the P728 million Ginintuang Masaganang Ani (GMA) Farm Input Fund or known as the fertilizer fund scam.
“There being conspiracy present, said accused are all equally liable pursuant to the rule that when conspiracy is established, the responsibility of the conspirators is collective, not individual, rendering all of them equally liable regardless of the extent of the irrespective participation,” the court said.
Aside from prison sentence, the three individuals were also sentenced by the court to suffer from perpetual disqualification to hold public office.
The decision was penned by Division Chairperson Ma. Dolores Gomez-Estoesta, with the concurrence of Associate Justices Zaldy Trespeses, and Georgina Hidalgo.