THE Office of the Ombudsman announced on Thursday the conviction of three executives of Lantawan, Basilan for failure to comply with the mandatory remittance of GSIS premiums under the revised Government Service Insurance System Act or Republic Act No. 8291.
In two separate decisions, the Sandiganbayan convicted ex-mayor Tahira Ismael and ex-municipal treasurer Aida Ajijon of violation of the Anti-Graft and Corrupt Practices Act or Republic Act No. 3019, and Section 3 of the GSIS Act.
The two were sentenced to a jail term of six to 10 years for graft and two to four years for violating the law.
The court also imposed upon them the accessory penalties of absolute perpetual disqualification from holding public office and prohibition from practicing any profession or calling licensed by the government.
Ismael and Ajijon deliberately failed to remit contributions from July 2001 to February 2003 totalling P3,118,005.07, the Ombudsman said.
As a result of such administrative lapse, the loan privileges of employees of Lantawan were suspended to the injury and prejudice of the municipal government.
Ismael tried to cover up for the non-remittance, saying Ajijon failed to prepare the corresponding vouchers for the remittance.
“This argument is skewed,” the Ombudsman said, quoting Sandiganbayan Justice Reynaldo Cruz.
“The Local Government Code explicitly grants the municipal mayor the power to exercise general supervision and control over the activities of the municipal government, which carries the responsibility of ensuring that all executive officials and employees of the municipality faithfully discharge their duties and functions as provided by law,” the decision read.
“In effect the proximate cause of the non-remittance of the GSIS contributions can be traced from the failure of accused Ismael, as the municipal mayor, to exercise her power of general supervision and control over all the activities of the municipality.”
According to the Ombudsman, the “accused Ismael cannot feign ignorance about the unremitted GSIS contributions as [these] statements confirmed that she was fully aware of the non-remittance thereof. And, despite her knowledge of the problem, she ignored the advice given to her and chose not to remit the GSIS contributions. In the same vein, accused Ajijon is not blameless, as the Municipal Treasurer, she is duty bound to advice the Municipal mayor about the disbursement of local funds and matters relating to public finance.
In another decision, Jose Sarasola II, ex-general manager of the Philippine National Railways, was found guilty of violating the GSIS Act over the failure to remit 49 contributions of a certain Benjamin Guinto from June 2000 to May 2004, all totaling P52,632.28.