Sandigan rejects Tayabas mayor’s plea
The Sandiganbayan thumbed down a plea of Tayabas City Mayor Faustino Silang and other city officials to reconsider the court’s earlier decision which found them guilty of giving some P20 million in cash to city employees without a local ordinance.
The anti-graft court earlier had found Silang, Vice Mayor Vernerando Rea as well as Sangguniang Panlungsod members Maria Zeta-Addun, Estelito Querubin, Lyka Monika Oabel and Luzviminda Cuadra guilty of disbursing cash to 151 city employees under a collective negotiations agreement (CNA).
While a local ordinance was drafted to allow such a disbursement, the court found that it passed and approved the law without the required number of affirmative votes.
Under the Local Government Code, “any ordinance or resolution authorizing or directing the payment of money…shall require the affirmative vote of a majority of all the sanggunian members for its passage.”
Court records show that only five of the 11 city councilors approved the resolution.
Vice Mayor Rea, “as presiding officer of the Sangguniang Panglunsod at the time, was not entitled to vote, there being no tie. Although it does not appear that he voted for the passage of the subject ordinance, it appears that he declared that the ordinance was unanimously approved by the members present at the special, in effect, declaring that the ordinance was passed.”
The Sandiganbayan said that while the prosecution failed to prove that the Tayabas mayor ordered the local council to enact the ordinance, “it established that he approved the same regardless of the fact that it was not duly passed by the Sangguniang Panlunsod…(and) caused the release of the amount of P19.93 million as CNA incentive.”
The court said the local officials’ act of passing and approving the ordinance caused the unlawful disbursement of public funds, resulting to undue injury to the local government. They were all sentenced to maximum prison term of eight years. They were also barred from holding public office.
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