The Sandiganbayan Sixth Division has convicted a former official of the Department of Education (DepEd) Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (ARMM) for failing to remit the Government Service Insurance System (GSIS) contributions of DepEd employees worth P75.3 million back in 2004.
Former Regional Director Leovigilda P. Cinches was found guilty beyond reasonable doubt of violating Section 52(g) of R.A. 8291 for failing to remit to the GSIS the amounts due in 2004 – P18,068,932.73 for August, P19,028,193.69 for September, P18,993,527.87 for October, and P19,294,516.72 for November.
She was sentenced to imprisonment of two years minimum to three years maximum for each of the charges and was also ordered to pay a fine of P20,000 for each of the charges or a total of P80,000.
The anti-graft court likewise imposed upon her absolute perpetual disqualification from holding public office or from practicing any profession or calling licensed by the government.
Meanwhile, Cinches was acquitted of her graft charge for the failure of the prosecution to prove her guilt beyond reasonable doubt.
In its ruling, the anti-graft court said that Cinches should be held liable for failing to remit the GSIS contributions because it was part of her responsibilities as Director of Administration, Finance, and Other Support Services at the time.
Even when she was assigned as Regional Secretary officer-in-charge, the court said that she was still involved in the collection and remittance of the said amounts. “Designation connotes merely the imposition of additional duties upon a person already in the public service by virtue of an earlier appointment or election,” the decision read.
Cinches contended that the prosecution failed to prove that she refused to sign the checks for the remittances to the GSIS. However, the court said that the prosecution already overcame its burden of proving all elements of the crime charged.
The burden was then transferred to Cinches to prove that no crime was committed. But she “waived her right to present her evidence because of her and her counsel’s repeated failure to appear during the hearings set for the presentation of her evidence, despite the notice.”
The 22-page decision was written by Sixth Division Chairperson Sarah Jane Fernandez with the concurrence of Associate Justices Karl Miranda and Kevin Narce Vivero.