3 Alaminos City staff convicted of graft for confiscating chicken meat

MANILA — The Sandiganbayan has convicted three Alaminos City government employees in Pangasinan province of graft for confiscating chicken meat from a dressing plant.

In a 37-page ruling, the Sandiganbayan found city veterinarian Ronaldo Abarra, meat inspector Joseph Soriano, and security officer Lyndon Millan guilty beyond reasonable doubt of violating the Anti-Graft and Corrupt Practices Act for unjustifiably confiscating 2,455 kilograms of chicken meat from San Vicente Dressing Plant in April 2009.

The anti-graft court sentenced the three to prison for six to 10 years, it was learned on Wednesday.

The Sandiganbayan also ordered them to pay PHP226,954.80 plus interest, as civil liability.

Court records showed that on April 17, 2009, Abarra, Soriano, and Milan conspired with one other in ordering the confiscation and seizure of dressed chicken products owned by San Vicente Dressing Plant worth PHP250,000.

In their defense, the three employees said the poultry was “hot meat,” as it had incomplete documentation and were eventually “given away to the Philippine National Police (PNP), Public Order and Safety Office (POSO), local government unit (LGU), and a hospital.”

The prosecution, however, said, “The cargo was well-documented, as it passed through the required inspection, sanitation, and legal requirements for meat inspection, and that if there were missing details in the certification, they could be verified from the supporting documents presented by the occupants of the delivery van.”

“The court lends more credence to the assertions of the prosecution, as positive testimonies – particularly when corroborated by other witnesses – carry more weight than a mere denial,” the anti-graft court said in its ruling. “Even assuming that the meat products had been confiscated only because the Meat Inspection Certificate had missing entries, herein accused did not give the complainant or the San Vicente Dressing Plant, the chance to rectify their deficiencies or to fill out the certificate,” it added. PNA-northboundasia.com