MANILA — A former Bohol town mayor was sentenced to serve up to 48 years in jail for unliquidated cash advances amounting to P20,779.50 she made in 2010.
The Sandiganbayan 5th Division found former Cortes, Bohol mayor Apolinaria Balistoy guilty of the graft and falsification of public documents charges filed against her.
In its decision dated Jan. 20, the anti-graft court sentenced Balistoy to imprisonment of 6 to 8 years for graft and 4 to 10 years for each of the 4 counts of falsification.
According to the Ombudman's office Balistoy had traveled to Cebu City several times between January and February 2010 in the guise of official travel, even when she had no actual authority from the provincial governor.
She also utilized falsified certificates of appearance to liquidate her cash advances by making it appear that the Civil Service Commission Regional Office 7, through its Public Assistance and Liaison Division chief Dr. Lorenzo Canapi, affixed his signature in 4 certificates of appearance.
“Despite the unbridled opportunity given to her, she failed to present countervailing evidence to refute the allegations hurled against her,” the court said in the decision penned by Associate Justice Maria Theresa Mendoza-Arcega, with the concurrence of Division Chairperson RAfael lagos and Maryann Corpus-Mañalac.
Among the pieces of evidence submitted by the prosecution against Balistoy were boat tickets, boarding passes and terminal tickets which she herself submitted for liquidation of her cash advances.
The court noted that the boat tickets pointed to the fact that Balistoy traveled to Cebu City and yet the trips were not authorized by the provincial governor, as mandated by Republic Act No. 7160 or The Local Government Code of the Philippines.
“Immediately apparent is that she intended to use the coffers of the municipality for her personal travels to Cebu City by submitting the questionable supporting documents, including the falsified certificates of appearance,” the court said.
Aside from imprisonment, Balistoy was also ordered by the court to indemnify the municipality of Cortes the amount of P20,779 with 6 percent annual interest as civil liability.
She was also ordered to pay a fine amounting to P10,000 for each count of falisification.