The Sandiganbayan sentenced a cult leader to 30 years in prison for entering into an anomalous contract in 1993 where the government incurred about P2.4 million in losses.
In a decision penned by Associate Justice Diosdado Peralta, the Sandiganbayan First Division found Ruben Ecleo Jr., ôsupreme leader" of a Mindanao-based cult, guilty of three counts of violating Republic Act 3019 or the Anti-Graft and Corrupt Practices Act.
His co-accused, Anadelia Nalauan-Navarra and Ricardo Santillan, were convicted to two counts of violating the anti-graft law and ordered jailed from six to 10 years for each count.
Ecleo was the mayor San Jose town, in Surigao del Norte province when P4.008 million was released to Santillan, proprietor of PBMA Builders, for the construction of the town's public market in 1993. Navarra was the Municipal Planning and Development coordinator.
The special graft court found however that the real value of construction was only P3.5 million.
At the same time, the officials approved a separate release of P3.8 million for the construction of the municipal hall to the PBMA Builders. But investigation showed that the actual contract value was only P3.6 million.
The government also incurred losses amounting to about P2.4 million because the construction was only 37-percent completed.
The Sandiganbayan ordered the three to pay a total of P2.856 million to the municipal government of San Jose.
Ecleo was also accused of killing his own wife Alona in Cebu in 2002.