Sandigan convicts PRC optometry board exec of graft

Posted at 09/17/08 4:42 PM

The Sandiganbayan Fourth Division on Tuesday convicted of graft Dr. Marissa Callanta-Oliveros, a member of the Professional Regulatory Commission's (PRC) Board of Optometry, for taking an examination over which her position in the board gave her some degree of control.
In a 21-page decision penned by Associate Justice Jose Hernandez, the graft court upheld the argument of government prosecutor Jacinto dela Cruz Jr. that the defendant was prohibited under the law from taking the special examination of ocular pharmacology for optometrists.
Oliveros, who was an appointee of former president Joseph Estrada, took and passed the exam in February 2002.
The court declared that contrary to her claim that she only sought ‘professional advancement’, Oliveros actually benefitted from the prohibited act because it gave her the authority to ‘use and administer specific diagnostic pharmaceutical agents’.
“The accused argues that she wrote a letter of inhibition to the PRC chairman but evidence shows that she was still a member of the Board when she took the examination. She never resigned,” the Sandiganbayan pointed out.
Dela Cruz presented Dr. Ligaya Perez, chairman of the Board of Optometry, who testified that Oliveros was assigned as the examiner in the 2000 and 2001 special pharmacology examinations.
“In this case, the prosecution was correct in saying that by personally handling the conduct of the first two examinations, she gained immense access to confidential information about the preparation, contents, process, procedure, facilities (including the actual list of probable questions and their sources) and materials for examination,” the graft court said.
Associate Justices Roland Jurado and Gregory Ong, division chairman, concurred.
Oliveros was meted six to ten years jail term and was perpetually disqualified from holding public office.