The Sandiganbayan has reduced to 12, instead of 30 counts, the convictions for graft of a former employee of the Management Information System Group (MISG) of the Philippine Veterans Affairs Office (PVAO) for anomalous encoding and printing of pension checks in 1995.

Its ruling on the appeal of Leomar “Omar” Basuel modified the decision of the Quezon City regional trial court (RTC) which convicted him of 30 counts of graft and sentenced him to a prison term ranging from one to four years for each count.

As modified, the Sandiganbayan found Basuel guilty in only 12 counts and imposed on him a stiffer jail term ranging from one to eight years for each count. He was also ordered to pay PVAO a total of P474,252.99 with legal interest of six percent per annum.

The decision issued by the anti-graft court was issued on Basuel’s appeal which was partially granted.

Affirmed was the RTC’s ruling that Basuel encoded entries in the PVAO’s computer database knowing that some of the pensioners were already deceased, and some payees had fictitious names.

“His acts were tantamount to evident bad faith as he orchestrated a wrongdoing with a fraudulent intent,” the decision read.

But the Sandiganbayan said the prosecution presented only 12 checks which were negotiated and encashed or deposited with the Philippine Veterans Bank.

“There were no proofs presented that the 18 remaining checks were actually encashed or negotiated by the payees. Therefore, accused-appellant’s presumption of innocence must be sustained for these cases,” it said.

The decision was written by Associate Justice Lorifel L. Pahimna with the concurrence of fourth division Chairperson Alex L. Quiroz and Associate Justice Bayani H. Jacinto.

Source: Manila Bulletin (