Court junks duo's appeal on conviction in Cebu sugar shipment case

By Benjamin Pulta

October 19, 2023, 5:05 pm

<p><em>(File photo)</em></p>

(File photo)

MANILA – The Sandiganbayan has junked the appeal filed by a former Cebu customs official and a private individual convicted of graft in connection with anomalies in the auction by the Bureau of Customs (BOC) for 13,753 bags of sugar worth PHP10.85 million in 2000.

The anti-graft court, in a seven-page resolution dated Oct. 17, dismissed the appeal filed by former customs official Benjamin Bongon and Roger T. Ang who were convicted by the Cebu Regional Trial Court Branch 23 of graft.

The Cebu court on Dec. 1, 2017 found the two guilty of charges of violation of Republic Act 3019 also known as the Anti-Graft and Corrupt Practices Act while it acquitted them on estafa through falsification raps which stemmed from the same transaction.

Court records showed that Bongon, then chief of the Auction and Cargo Disposal Division of the BOC-Port of Cebu, connived with Ang, the proprietor of Consumer Enterprises, to understate in a certification dated Aug. 29, 2000 the number of bags of refined sugar that were unloaded from the vessel, MV Affy.

Ang, as the winning bidder in the public auction by the BOC, received the bags of refined sugar.

The certification stated that the transactions involved only 13,753 bags, when in truth Ang was able to withdraw 26,908 bags, causing injury to the government amounting to PHP10.026 million, the court said.

After finding guilty of graft, the lower court sentenced the two to up to seven years imprisonment and ordered them to pay PHP10.859 million to the government.

The court also ruled that Bongon shall be disqualified from holding public office.

The duo filed an appeal before the Court of Appeals (CA) Cebu City Station.

In June 2022, the CA, citing the Office of the Solicitor General (OSG) in its ruling, said the Sandiganbayan and not the appellate court has jurisdiction over the appeal from the ruling of the RTC.

"The (Sandiganbayan) need not transfer this case back to the Court of Appeals and will instead dismiss the same (appeal) clearly no correction of the appellate court designation was made within the 15-day period to appeal," the Sandiganbayan said. (PNA)