STAR NEWS FEATURE:  GMA  PARDON  WRITES  OFF  CONVICT'S  203-YEAR  TERM

MANILA, SEPTEMBER 26, 2007
(STAR) A private contractor convicted of 27 counts of graft and sentenced to 203 years imprisonment was pardoned by President Arroyo right after he surrendered, more than eight years after hiding from authorities to avoid the prison sentence.

Convicted of graft by the Sandiganbayan, Jaime Ponce de Leon did not serve even a minute of his sentence after he was granted a conditional pardon by President Arroyo last April 12, the same day he was supposed to be imprisoned.

Anti-graft court documents revealed that De Leon was found guilty of conspiring with officials of the then Ministry of Public Highways (now the Department of Public Works and Highways) – Bais City Highway Engineering District in ghost road projects.

The verdict of the Sandiganbayan Second Division, promulgated on July 7, 1989, sentenced De Leon to eight years in each of the 14 graft cases pending against him or a total of 112 years.

The conviction of De Leon was affirmed by the Supreme Court on June 25, 1990.

De Leon remained at large during and even after his conviction.

On Dec. 15, 1998, the Third Division also convicted him and seven co-accused on 13 additional counts of graft.

Penalties for this conviction were seven years imprisonment for each count or a total of 91 years.

Petitions for certiorari filed by the defendants were dismissed by the Supreme Court on March 10, 1999.

De Leon, after spending some time hiding, filed through his lawyer last March 5 a motion submitting himself to voluntarily serve his sentence.

An order dated April 11, 2007 was signed by Associate Justice Godofredo Legaspi, chairman of the Third Division, to bring De Leon to the New Bilibid Prisons in Muntinlupa City.

De Leon was brought to Bilibid the following day, April 12.

Upon reaching the New Bilibid Prisons, Sandiganbayan Sheriff’s Office personnel, who escorted De Leon, were given a copy of the conditional pardon signed by Mrs. Arroyo and Executive Secretary Eduardo Ermita.

The document was shown the same day and preceded De Leon’s arrival at the prison by only a few hours.

But even if the pardon wrote off his entire 203-year jail term, De Leon was barred for life from holding any position in the government.

He was also ordered to pay penalties amounting to P1.16 million.


Chief News Editor: Sol Jose Vanzi

© Copyright, 2007  by PHILIPPINE HEADLINE NEWS ONLINE
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