A FORMER municipal mayor of Jimalalud, Negros Oriental has been ordered to pay a fine of P10,000 for illegally issuing himself a P250 cockpit operator’s permit in 2010.
Reynaldo Tuanda can count himself lucky after the Sandiganbayan granted his appeal to downgrade his conviction from violation of Section 3(h) of RA 3019 or the Anti-Graft and Corrupt Practices Act to Section 89 (2) of RA 7160 or the Local Government Code of 1991.
The modification of the decision meant the previous sentenced of imprisonment of one year and one month with perpetual disqualification from holding public office has been reduced to just a P10,000 fine.
Trial records showed the defendant, as municipal mayor of Jimalalud, issued a permit as cockpit promoter in favor of his own self on January 6, 2010.
On August 30, 2019, the Sandiganbayan Fifth Division found Tuanda guilty of intervening in his official capacity in a business interest that is prohibited by law.
In his appeal, Tuanda invoked his constitutional right to be informed of the nature of the offense imputed against him, arguing that the crime as charged was covered not by RA 3019 but by RA 7160.
Granting the motion for reconsideration, the Sandiganbayan said the mayor’s intervention in the business of cockfighting is specifically prohibited under Section 89 paragraph 2 of RA 7160.
Since the criminal offense was committed after the Local Government Code took effect, the court agreed with the defense that the defendant should benefit from a lighter penalty.
Quoting the Supreme Court ruling in the 2004 case of Teves v. Sandiganbayan, the anti-graft court held that “being an earlier statute, the Anti-Graft Law has to yield to the LGC (Local Government Code) of 1991” because it is the later expression of legislative will.