Sandiganbayan deals blow to former Zamboanga Sibugay town mayor’s bid to reverse graft charges ruling

MANILA — The Sandiganbayan has dealt a blow to former Zamboanga Sibugay town mayor’s bid to reverse the earlier ruling over graft charges for giving unequal provision of financial aid to fish farmers in 2007.

In the resolution dated March 22, the anti-graft court’s Sixth Division denied the motion for reconsideration filed by former mayor, now Vice Mayor Gemma Adana of Naga, Zamboanga Sibugay for lack of merit. The resolution was penned by Associate Justice Karl Miranda and concurred by Associate Justices Sarah Jane Fernandez and Kevin Narce Vivero.

The resolution said it was established that Adana had favored her husband and sister when she released larger financial assistance to them compared to other people when Typhoon “Bebing” hit the region in 2007.

It was found out that Edgar Adana, the mayor’s husband had received P45,000 while her sister Emma Aranas received P40,000. Other beneficiaries had received only a maximum of P10,000. The financial aid was to help the fishermen repair their fish dryers destroyed by the typhoon.

The anti-graft court said “the documentary and testimonial evidence presented, offered and admitted by the Court have successfully established Adana’s criminal liability.”

“As discussed in the assailed Decision, it was Adana who approved the payment of financial assistance to her husband and sister that was evidently higher than the other calamity victims who were similarly or almost similarly situated.  Said act constituted evident bad faith and manifest partiality that gave unwarranted preference to her husband and sister,” it added.

In her motion for reconsideration, Adana assailed her conviction last December 2018 saying the witnesses Rolando Loon and Adelaida Decin were inconsistent in their testimonies which should not be relied upon.

But Adana’s claim of inconsistencies, the prosecution countered, had “removed the suspicions of rehearsed testimonies” and, in fact, had strengthened the credibility of the witnesses.

The Sandiganbayan ruled the alleged inconsistencies were not material to the decision of the case saying “said inconsistencies and contradictions, however, pertained only to details of immaterial nature that do not diminish the probative value of the testimonies at issue.”

The anti-graft court said a review of the portions of the ruling assailed by Adana “it was found that said inconsistencies had no substantial effect on the nature of the offense charged.”

With the ruling, the sentencing of Adana to six years and one month up to eight years in prison and disqualifying her from holding any public position thereafter was affirmed. (amm)

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