A FORMER Municipal Trial Court judge of San Jose, Antique is facing years in jail for allowing a court staff to siphon off money from the court’s bank account holding its collections of fees in 2004.
The Sandiganbayan Fifth Division convicted retired MTC Judge Ma. Monino S. Misajon of two counts of malversation of public funds together with former court interpreter Jingkey Nolasco, who owned up to taking money from the court’s bank account for her personal use.
In its 33-page decision penned by Associate Justice Maria Theresa V. Mendoza-Arcega, the anti-graft court said the two are guilty of the offense although it was only Nolasco who admitted fault.
Misajon, testifying in her defense, cited her untarnished record as an employee of the judiciary starting out as a clerk in 1964 until her retirement as presiding judge in 2007.
She said was never involved in any allegation of irregularity and would not jeopardize her reputation just three years short of retirement.
During cross examination, however, she admitted the signatures on the two withdrawal slips submitted to the bank were hers. She surmised that Nolasco could have put a bigger amount on the withdrawal slips or had made her sign blank documents.
Prosecution evidence showed Nolasco withdrew P60,000 on June 11, 2004 and again on July 2, 2004 even if only P32,200 was supposed to be withdrawn on the first transaction while the second one was not authorized.
The court said that Misajon’s statement makes her liable for the crime due to lack of necessary exercise of precaution in handling government funds.
“Undoubtedly, accused Misajon displayed gross negligence in the discharge of her duties, which is a flagrant violation of her oath as a holder of public office. In totality, accused Misajon’s defense essentially contain alibi and denial which all fail to inspire belief from the Court,” the Sandiganbayan declared.
Associate Justices Rafael R. Lagos and Maryann E. Corpus-Mañalac concurred.
Misajon was sentenced to a total of two years and six months in jail and fined P87,000 with special disqualification from holding any other position in government.
For her admission of guilt, Nolasco was meter four years and eight months imprisonment with fines totaling P87,000. She was also barred from further employment in government.