THE Sandiganbayan’s Third Division acquitted former Cabadbaran, Agusan del Norte Mayor Dale Corvera of graft and of malversation over alleged reimbursement of “personal expenses.”
“In essence, there lies no sufficient evidence, which would give, at the very least, a prima facie indication that accused Corvera misappropriated the public funds for his and his wife’s personal use,” the court said in its decision.
The Office of the Ombudsman filed the cases before the Sandiganbayan against Corvera in 2017.
In the charge sheet, the Ombudsman alleged Corvera gave himself and his wife unwarranted benefits and caused undue injury to the government.
It alleged that from May 5, 2011 to June 26, 2014, he charged to the city government’s funds, “by claiming reimbursements therefrom,” his and his wife’s “personal expenses” totaling P362,154.85.
But the court said the prosecution failed to support its position that undue injury was caused to the government.
“It may be conceded that the prosecution alleged that public funds were used by accused Corvera and his wife for personal purpose, specifically, expenses for food and travel, hotel accommodation and other incidental expenses, however, these were all unsubstantiated,” the court said.
Based on the charge sheet, the expenses consisted of, among other things, expenses to attend activities of the Boy Scouts of the Philippines in Manila, meals, hotel accommodation, airfare and other transportation expenses incurred in Cebu City.
The court, however, said there could be no misappropriation when the funds were used for a public purpose, as indicated in the City Appropriation Ordinance.
Associate Justice Bernelito Fernandez penned the decision, which was concurred in by Sandiganbayan Presiding Justice Amparo Cabotaje-Tang, who concurrently leads the court’s Third Division, and by Associate Justice Sarah Jane Fernandez.