Ex-Bohol vice mayor gets 10 years for graft
MANILA, Philippines — The former vice mayor of Carmen town in Bohol province was sentenced to up to ten years of imprisonment as the anti-graft court Sandiganbayan convicted him of a graft case for having financial interests in the municipality's road projects in 2003.
In a 36-page decision dated December 8, the court's Fourth Division found former vice mayor Josil Trabajo guilty of violation of Section 3 (h) of Republic Act 3019 or the Anti-Graft and Corrupt Practices Act.
Section 3 (h) of RA 3019 prohibits public official from “directly or indirectly having financial or pecuniary interest in any business, contract or transaction” in which he has the official capacity to intervene or in which he is prohibited by the Constitution or by any law from having any interest.
Trabajo was sentenced to a minimum of six years to maximum of ten years of imprisonment. The court also ordered his perpetual disqualification from holding public office.
The co-accused in the case, former Carmen mayor Pedro Budiongan Jr., on the other hand, was acquitted for lack of sufficient evidence to prove his conspiracy with Trabajo.
In its ruling, the court said the ombudsman's prosecution team was able to present sufficient evidence to prove that Trabajo used his position as the presiding officer of the Sangguniang Bayan (SB) or municipal council to pass two resolutions to fast-track the implementation of farm-to-market road improvement projects covering the areas of Vallehermoso-Montehermoso and Luan La-Salvacion Roads in 2003.
The court noted that Trabajo, in the course of the trial, admitted that he supplied 501 loads of limestones or “anapog” for the projects and was paid a total of P75,150.
“Trabajo's own admission that he was one of the suppliers of 'anapog' attests to his financial or pecuniary interest in the road projects,” the court said in its decision.
The Fourth Division dismissed Trabajo’s defense that he did not benefit from the transaction as it was on loan and he was only paid a year after the delivery of the limestones.
“The Court cannot give credence to this defense, because it has previously been ruled that failure to show that [accused] profited from the transaction would not necessarily result in acquittal,” the decision read.
Furthermore, the Fourth Division said Trabajo cannot exonerate himself from culpability by arguing that it was the municipal engineer who suggested that he supply the limestones for the projects, instead.
“As Vice Mayor, he was a local government official who should have known the rules and prohibitions with regard to conflict of interest,” the court said.
The decision was penned by division chairman Associate Justice Alex Quiroz with the concurrence of Associate Justices Reynaldo Cruz and Geraldine Faith Econg.