Court acquits ex-Gensan mayor, 2 others

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The Sandiganbayan’s Seventh Division has acquitted South Cotabato first district Rep. Pedro Acharon Jr. and two others in a graft case over the issuance of a travel order in 2006 while the lawmaker was the mayor of General Santos City. Also cleared were then-Sangguniang Panlungsod (City Council) members Jose Orlando Acharon and Minda Atendido. The decision promulgated on Tuesday was penned by Associate Justice Ma. Theresa Dolores Gomez-Estoesta and concurred in by Associate Justices Alexander Gesmundo, who heads the 7th Division, and Zaldy Trespeses. The case stemmed from a travel order issued to Acharon and Atendido for their trip to Los Angeles on June 9–16, 2006 which was disapproved by the Department of the Interior and Local Government. The court said in part that then-Mayor Acharon “has shown manifest partiality in allowing [then-]SP Member Acharon, who happens to be his son, and [then-]SP Member Atendido, to join the local delegation to the Tambayayong Festival in the United States despite the disapproval of their travel by the [then-]DILG Secretary.” The ruling cited DILG Memorandum Circular No. 2001-52, among others, under which the local chief executive could authorize personal or private trips not exceeding three months while non-study trips are subject to the DILG secretary’s approval.

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