Tribunal upholds conviction of ex-Isabela mayor for graft

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    THE Supreme Court has upheld the decision of the Sandiganbayan convicting a former mayor of Luna town in Isabela for graft over a P2.5 million road concreting project in 2008.

    In its ruling dated January 19 but released only last March 10, the tribunal sided with the Sandiganbayan decision sentencing former mayor Manuel Tio and municipal accountant Lolita Cadiz to a minimum of six years and maximum of 10 years imprisonment and perpetual disqualification from public office.

    The anti-graft court convicted the two in a decision handed down in November 2016 and denied their appeal in February 2017.

    In upholding their conviction, the SC said the anti-graft court was correct in finding them guilty as “both of them acted with gross negligence” in causing the payment of P2.5 million to the contractor for the road concreting project despite the incomplete supporting documents and lack of public bidding.

    Court records showed that Tio approved in July 2008 the release of P2.5 million to contractor Double A as partial payment for the road project in Barangays Harana and Mambabanga in Luna town. The project has a total funding cost of P5 million.

    As municipal accountant, Cadiz also signed the disbursement voucher.

    But the Commission on Audit found no documents attached to the disbursement voucher.

    During trial, the prosecution presented evidence that the project did not go through public bidding in violation of the Government Procurement Reform Act and that the documents submitted were incomplete.

    “Both Tio and Cadiz acted with gross inexcusable negligence in causing the payment of P2.5 million to Double A despite the incomplete supporting documents giving unwarranted benefit and advantage or preference to Double A,” the SC ruling penned by Chief Justice Diosdado Peralta said.

    Concurring with the decision were Associate Justices Alfredo Benjamin Caguioa, Rodil Zalameda, Samuel.Gaerlan and Rosmari Carandang.