Ex-Misamis Oriental mayor convicted of graft

ABS-CBN News

Posted at Apr 01 2011 12:52 AM | Updated as of Apr 01 2011 08:52 AM

MANILA, Philippines – A former mayor of Balingoan town in Misamis Oriental has been found guilty of failing to failure to liquidate cash advances by the Sandiganbayan.

In a 36-page decision penned by Associate Justice Gregory Ong, the anti-graft court's 4th Division handed down a guilty verdict against Edgar Santos for the crime of failure to render accounts, which is penalized under Article 218 of the Revised Penal Code.

Santos was sentenced to 6 months to one year in prison with all appropriate accessory penalties.

Records showed that Santos was granted a P55,000 cash advance as mayor of Balingoan town for his travel expenses to Manila from February 13 to 20, 2004.

Santos later failed to properly liquidate the amount, in violation of Commission on Audit (COA) Circular No. 97-002.

The said COA circular requires that all cash advances used for local official travel must be liquidated within 30 days.

The itinerary of travel document attached to Santos' undated liquidation report clearly indicated that he reported “back to station” on February 21, 2004.

Therefore, he had 30 days, or until March 22, 2004, within which to liquidate his cash advances.

Santos' undated liquidation report showed that it was submitted only on July 5, 2004.

He also claimed that he did not receive a demand letter dated March 1, 2005.

Evidence, however, showed that another demand letter dated February 24, 2005 was sent to Santos, which he did not deny.

"Even if the required liquidation report is actually submitted, if done so by the accountable officer beyond the period, criminal liability will nonetheless subsist," the decision explained.

The anti-graft court gave weight to the evidence and testimony of witnesses of the Office of the Ombudsman's prosecution team led by Special Prosecutor Leoveminda Villanueva.

"We find the prosecution has convincingly established with proof beyond reasonable doubt that accused Santos is guilty under Article 218 for his failure to render an account insofar as the public funds covered by the cash advance of P55, 000 [are] concerned. Verily, his culpability is established as to warrant his conviction," the decision added.