The Sandiganbayan Special Fifth Division has found former Mayor Edmundo Jose Buencamino of San Miguel, Bulacan guilty of two counts of graft for illegally collecting “pass way fees” and impounding the delivery trucks of a mining company in 2004.
In a 27-page Decision penned by Associate Justice Napoleon Inoturan, the anti-graft court sentenced Buencamino to six to eight years in prison for each count and was perpetually disqualified from holding public office.
Buencamino allegedly caused undue injury to Rosemoor Mining and Development Corporation by collecting P1,000 through former barangay captain Robert Tabernero from mining operators as “pass way fee” for each truck traversing San Miguel.
The court said that he “imposed and collected payment for pass way fee knowing fully well that he is without authority of law, decree, ordinance or resolution to do so.”
It also pointed out Buencamino’s “inexcusable negligence” in allowing Tabernero, a private person, to collect the fees when under the law, the collection of taxes, fees and charges shall not be allowed to be done by any private individual.
It ruled that the undue injury in the case was “the act of imposing tax on a subject that is outside of the legal authority of a municipality as provided under the Local Government Code of 1991. Worse, the accused imposed it without any legal basis but upon his whims and caprices.”
The court also said that the defendant’s act of designating a former barangay captain to collect the fees without an official receipt caused undue injury to the government, because it failed to fully account the collection, assuming it was indeed remitted.
However, it found through the testimony of the municipal treasurer and the record of deposit and collection that “the same was not fully remitted to the coffers of the Municipality.”
In the other graft charge, Buencamino was accused of causing undue injury to the same firm by ordering the apprehension and impounding of two of its delivery trucks allegedly for failing to pay the fee.
The court said, “When its truck was impounded, it deeply affected the corporation because it failed to meet its daily quota of seven blocks per day delivery.”