ILOILO City – Former Iloilo 2nd District congressman Augusto “Boboy” Syjuco passed away. He was 77.
Also a former director general of the Technical Education and Skills Development Authority (TESDA) during the administration of then president Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo, Syjuco died on Jan. 10 in Singapore, a source close to Syjuco told Panay News last night.
There had been scant information about the death. The source told Panay News Syjuco had been seeking treatment for Advanced Myelodysplastic Syndrome, a disease of the blood, in Singapore since last year.
He was cremated after he died, said the source who asked for anonymity for lack of authority to speak on the matter.
Syjuco’s ashes are expected to be flown back by his family to the Philippines this week.
The former congressman served the 2nd District of Iloilo for two consecutive terms (1998 to 2001 and 2001 to 2004) before he was succeeded by his wife, Judy.
In the 2013 elections, Syjuco sought re-election but lost to then Pavia, Iloilo mayor Arcadio Gorriceta.
Jessie Castillo, Syjuco’s fellow Epsilonian and friend, was one those who confirmed Syjuco’s demise through his Facebook post yesterday.
In March last year, the Syjuco couple, charged by the Office of the Ombudsman with graft before the Sandiganbayan’s 2nd Division, offered to plead guilty for a lesser offense to avoid imprisonment.
In their motion seeking a plea bargain even at that stage of their trial, the Syjuco couple invoked their health issues.
The Ombudsman accused Mrs. Syjuco of transferring P20 million in Priority Development Assistance Fund (PDAF) to nongovernment organization Tagipusuon Cooperative through TESDA from 2005 to 2006 for TESDA’s I-CARE Program when Mr. Syjuco was the director general.
According to the Ombudsman, however, the Commission on Audit found that Tagipusuon purchased only P15 million worth of school bags, notebooks and uniforms for elementary and high school students and that P5.297 million of the PDAF was unaccounted.
A plea bargain would also make the government “save precious time and valuable resources” in the prosecution of their case, the couple told the anti-graft court.
The Syjucos, in their motion filed by lawyer Federico Roxas, asked that they be allowed to plead guilty to the lower offense of “possession of prohibited interest by a public officer” or for violation of sections 106 and 108 of the Government Auditing Code.
However, the Syjucos were only inclined to pay the total penalty of P400 to P2,000 with no subsidiary imprisonment, their motion stated.
The male Syjuco cited his “frail health”, specifically his Advanced Myelodysplastic Syndrome, a disease of the blood that could, at any given time, lead to leukemia. The motion stated he was “slowly dying.”
Mrs. Syjuco, on the other hand, stated she suffered a stroke that led to her sustaining a broken rib cage.
The motion also stated she was finding it “sorely difficult” to participate in the trial and lamented the cost of litigation./PN