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Ex-MSU exec gets 10 years for graft, malversation

MANILA, Philippines — A former chancellor of the Mindanao State University (MSU)-Buug campus in Zamboanga Sibugay may spend up to 10 years in prison for using university funds for the repair and maintenance of his personal vehicle.

Taha Sarip was sentenced to up to seven years in prison for graft and up to three years for malversation, the Sandiganbayan’s Sixth Division said in a 33-page decision promulgated on Monday.

The court also ordered Sarip’s perpetual disqualification from public office aside from paying a fine of P94,257.15 “with subsidiary imprisonment in case of insolvency or refusal to pay.”

Filed by the Office of the Ombudsman in 2022, the cases stemmed from Sarip’s disbursement of P96,657.15 for the repair and maintenance of his Toyota Innova from April 2011 to November 2012.

The ombudsman’s prosecution team said Sarip approved seven disbursement vouchers (DVs) for the purchase of tires, batteries, spare parts and repair and maintenance of his vehicle.

“There is no doubt that… Sarip converted MSU-Buug’s funds, which are public funds, for his own personal use and benefit,” the decision read.

The sixth division found no merit in Sarip’s claim that he approved the DVs and release of the checks in good faith. Sarip cited the advice of the vice chancellor for administration and finance that he can reimburse the expenses for the repair and maintenance of his vehicle since he was using it for his official travels.

However, the court said there was no evidence to support Sarip’s claims that he used his Innova for his official travels, adding that there are no records to show that the vehicle needed to be repaired.

The return of the disbursed amount cannot exonerate Sarip of his criminal liabilities as the return of the fund was made about six months after the cases were filed against him, the court said.