QUEZON CITY --- For misusing more than P24M in soldiers’ contributions in the Armed Forces of the Philippines Retirement and Separation Benefits System (AFP-RSBS), the Sandiganbayan has convicted former AFP-RSBS President B/Gen. Jose Ramiscal, Jr. of two counts of violation of Section 3(i) of the Anti-Graft and Corrupt Practices Act (Republic Act No. 3019). He was sentenced to suffer imprisonment of six to ten years for each count, with perpetual disqualification from holding public office.
In 1992, the AFP-RSBS and DM Wenceslao and Associates, Inc. entered into a joint venture to establish the Bay Resources Development Corporation (BRADCO) for the purpose of acquiring and developing a ten-hectare property in the Manila-Cavite Coastal Road and Reclamation Project. Ombudsman prosecutors proved during the trial that 29 December 29, 1995, BRADCO sold and transferred the property to AFP-RSBS with the pension fund shouldering the payment of taxes due as Ramiscal approved the payment and release of P24,198,070.00 to BRADCO without board approval.
The court recalled that the cash advances between the AFP-RSBS and BRADCO were placed under scrutiny in a Senate investigation on the utilization of the pension funds.
“As the vendor, it is clearly BRADCO’s sole responsibility to pay all the taxes, including the documentary stamp taxes due on the properties sold to the AFP-RSBS. Thus, it is highly anomalous for the AFP-RSBS to advance the payments thereof,” stated the Decision.
The court further stated that “these general vouchers which granted the advance payments for the said taxes were signed and approved on the same date as the execution of the Deed of Conveyance on 29 December 1995. As such, his awareness of these irregularities should have placed [Ramiscal] on guard in reviewing the approval of said vouchers before he affixed his signature.”
Under Section 3(i) of R.A. No. 3019, it shall be unlawful for any public officer to be directly or indirectly interested, for personal gain, or having a material interest in any transaction or act requiring the approval of a board, panel or group of which he is a member, and which exercises discretion in such approval, even if he votes against the same or does not participate in the action of the board, committee, panel or group.