37 graft conviction vs Zambales assessor affirmed

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    THE Sandiganbayan has thrown out the appeal of former Zambales provincial assessor Roberto R. Corpus who was convicted of 37 counts of graft last September 27.

    In a resolution dated November 26, 2019, the anti-graft court’s Sixth Division denied the defendant’s motion for reconsideration for being unmeritorious despite taking a “second hard look” at the evidence on record.

    The court affirmed its pronouncement that Corpus acted with gross inexcusable negligence when he issued 37 tax declarations to persons who are not legitimate claimants over a 19.69-hectare property in Subic, Zambales in 2007.

    The accused admitted in court that he knew the land was owned by Rolando Young whose name appears on the Transfer Certificate of Title.

    However, he still issued 37 tax declarations to different individuals who are non-owners of the property in question, insisting that he was merely doing a ministerial duty as the tax declarations were only “for taxation purposes.”

    In denying the appeal, the court clarified that the defendant’s action created potential conflicts over land titles that was precisely what the Torrens system had sought to prevent.

    “A fraudulent document may become the root of a valid title. The tax assessor must be leery of fraudsters lest be become an enabler or facilitator of bogus deeds. Lamentably, accused is oblivious to this foreseeable peril,” the court noted.

    Corpus was meted six to ten years for each case or a total of 225 to 370 years in jail. Under Article 70 of the Revised Penal Code, however, he will serve only a maximum period of 40 years.

    Associate Justice Kevin Narce B. Vivero penned the resolution with Associate Justices Sarah Jane T. Fernandez and Karl B. Miranda concurring.