• Ex-Palawan mayor convicted for ghost procurement

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    The Office of the Ombudsman has secured the conviction of a former Palawan mayor for unlawfully paying 1,500 bags of cement worth P247,500.

    In an 18-page ruling written by Associate Justice Alexander Gesmundo, the Sandiganbayan found Alejandro Villapando, former mayor of San Vicente, Palawan, guilty beyond reasonable doubt of violation of Section 3(e) of Republic Act No. 3019, or “The Anti-Graft and Corrupt Practices Act.”

    The Sandiganbayan sentenced Villapando to suffer an indeterminate penalty of six years and one month as minimum to 10 years as maximum imprisonment, with the accessory penalty of perpetual disqualification from public office.

    It also ordered Villapando to pay the amount of P247,500 to the municipality of San Vicente, Palawan as civil liability.

    However, the case against his co-accused, Rodrigo Cipriano Sr., municipal treasurer, was provisionally dismissed pending submission of his Death Certificate issued by the National Statistics Office (NSO).

    The Sandiganbayan found that in January 2000 Villapando and Cipriano approved and released check no. 4973927 amounting P247,500 to Apollo Trading for the purchase of 1,500 bags of Portland cement to be used for concreting works of the project “Toursite Panindigan Road” located at Sitio Panindigan, San Vicente, Palawan.

    Records showed that the undated Certificate of Purchase and Certificate of Acceptance for the 1,500 bags of cement were both signed by Villapando and Cipriano.

    In the Special Audit conducted by the Commission on Audit (COA), however, it was found that there was no such delivery of cements and the Toursite road for which they were intended neither existed nor accomplished.

    The ruling noted that even the record of the Municipality’s General Service Division was bereft of the supplies and certifications made by accountable municipal employees, and concerned barangay officials revealed that the road for which the cements were intended remained unpaved.

    It concluded that “the foregoing pieces of evidence indubitably show that the roads in Sitio Panindigan remained unpaved which would lead to the logical conclusion that the project for the concreting of Toursite Paninidigan Road was not executed and that the payment of P247,500 made by the municipality ostensibly for the delivery of 1,500 bags of cement to be used for such project was unjustified.”

    Section 3(e) of RA No. 3019 punishes a public officer who, in the discharge of his official functions, acted with manifest partiality, evident bad faith, or inexcusable negligence causing undue injury to any party, including the Government, or giving any private party unwarranted benefits, advantage, or preference. PNA

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