THE Sandiganbayan has sentenced a former official of the Department of Agrarian Reform (DAR) in the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (Armm) to up to three years in jail for non-remittance of Government Service and Insurance System (GSIS) and Home Development Mutual Fund (or Pag-Ibig Fund) premiums, totaling to P2.56 million.

The court found Datu Guimid Matalam, former DAR-Armm regional secretary, along with DAR-Armm cashier Ansarry Lawi and accountant Naimah Unte guilty of violating the Section 52(g) of the Government Insurance System Act and sentenced them to one to three years in jail.

The three former officials were fined P20,000 each and were meted out the penalty of absolute perpetual disqualification from holding public office for their refusal to remit employers' shares to the GSIS and Pag-Ibig amounting to P2.4 million and P149,100, respectively, from January 1997 to June 1998.

The court said Matalam, Lawi and Unte are accountable officers such that their refusal or delay in the payment, turnover, remittance or delivery of GSIS premiums within 30 days from the time that the same shall have been due and demandable constitutes a violation of the law.

Also, Matalam was found guilty of violation of Section 1, Rule XII of the implementing rules and regulations of the Pag-ibig Universal Coverage Law. He was fined P190,506.00 and was directed to pay a penalty of three percent per month of the amounts payable computed from the date the contributions fell due and until full payment.

Ombudsman prosecutors said Matalam was notified that the loan privileges of his members were suspended due to the non-remittance of GSIS and Pag-Ibig premiums from January to December 1997.

State prosecutors said the GSIS-Cotabato branch manager informed Matalam in a letter dated April 23, 1998 about the default.

Among the evidence presented was the letter from the GSIS-Cotabato branch manager to Matalam dated April 23, 1998 informing him of the default.

"[There was] no justifiable reason for such failure to remit having been presented and considering too that money for that purpose was already received and available," the court said. (Marie Shane Krizzia S. Delgado, UST intern/Sunnex)