MANILA, Philippines - The Sandiganbayan has sentenced former mayor Pedro Cuerpo of Rodriguez, Rizal to six months in jail for refusing to comply with a court order to accommodate the application for a building permit of an informal settlers’ group.
In a 23-page decision penned by Associate Justice Teresita Diaz-Baldos, the anti-graft court’s Second Division found Cuerpo and municipal engineer Fernando Roño guilty of violating Article 231 of the Revised Penal Code for disobeying the regional trial court’s order directing them to process the application for a building permit of the Samahang Magkakapitbisig (Samahan).
The Sandiganbayan meted on Cuerpo and Roño a jail term from one month and 11 days to a maximum of six months, and temporary special disqualification for 10 years, eight months and one day. They were also ordered to pay a fine of P1,000 each.
Court records show that Leticia Nanay, Nancy Barsubia, Ma. Victoria Ramirez, Crisanta Oxina and their co-owners of a parcel of land accused Cuerpo and Roño of openly defying the Sept. 17, 2003 order of San Mateo RTC Judge Elizabeth Balquin-Reyes for them to process the group’s application for a building permit.
In its decision, the Sandiganbayan found that from the beginning Cuerpo “truly disdained having the members of the Samahan settle at the municipality of Rodriguez because he regarded them as squatters or informal settlers, and he never hid his sentiment that he did not want squatters in his (town).”
The anti-graft court said “the applications (for building permit) were never for a moment allowed to lie in the office of the municipal engineer nor were they given the chance to be perused by the officials supposed to act on them, including the accused.”
“If (the applications) were (processed), then they should have borne marks, or notations, or even signatures of the officials concerned,” it added.