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Monday, April 22, 2024

Retired Navy officer found guilty of malversation over unaccounted medicines, supplies

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THE Sandiganbayan has affirmed its decision convicting retired Philippine Navy Rear Admiral Gilmer Batestil of 20 counts of malversation of public funds and 16 counts of graft in connection with the anomalous procurement of medicines and medical supplies worth millions of pesos.

In a 10-page resolution, the Sandiganbayan’s Third Division denied the motions filed by Batestil and co-accused Victorino Chua seeking reconsideration of its decision promulgated on September 16, 2022 for lack of merit.

The anti-graft court, in the said ruling, sentenced Batestil to a minimum of 12 years and one day to a maximum of 18 years, eight months and one day for the malversation cases and another minimum of six years and one month to a maximum of 10 years for the graft convictions.

He was also ordered to pay a fine of P17,093,717 and indemnify the government for the same amount, which is equivalent to the amount of malversed public funds.

Chua, on the other hand was convicted for four counts of graft and faces a penalty of imprisonment of up to 10 years.

In his motion for reconsideration (MR) Batestil, insisted that there is no indisputable proof to convict him of malversation because he would not have signed the purchase orders (PO) and disbursement vouchers (DV) if there were erasures since he could have just asked an administrative officer to change them.

He added that there is no direct and clear evidence to show that he conspired with his co-accused in the alleged misappropriation of public funds through falsification of public documents.

Chua, on the other hand, argued in his MR that he was entitled to be paid by the Philippine Navy having participated in the bidding, got the award and, thereafter, delivered the medicines, which were allegedly received by the Navy.

The case stemmed from the anomalous procurement of medicines and medical and dental supplies from 1990 to 1992.

Prosecution witnesses testified during trial that there were  P53.9 million worth of medicines and medical supplies remain unaccounted for.

Among them were over P17 million covered by POs and DV signed by Batestil during his time as naval procurement officer.

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