MANILA - Former Hinabangan, Samar mayor Alejandro Abarratigue was found guilty by the Sandiganbayan 1st Division of 5 counts of graft for re-assigning 5 municipal employees to a far-flung barangay and eventually dismissing them from service from 2009 to 2010.
In the decision of the court promulgated April 26, 2019, Abarratigue was sentenced to 5 counts of imprisonment of 6 to 10 years, with perpetual disqualification from holding public office.
He was also ordered to pay the five former employees a total amount of P556,196, with 6% interest per annum from the finality of the decision.
“Taken together, the acts of accused Abarratigue were committed to harass private complainants and have brought mental and financial hardship upon them. It is beyond reasonable doubt that such acts constitute evident bad faith,” the court said in the decision signed by Division Chairperson Efren Dela Cruz and Associate Justices Geraldine Faith Econg and Edgardo Caldona.
The private complainants who filed the case against Abarratigue in 2016 were Lydia Tono, Fe Grande, Renato Abaigar, Jocelyn Ventura and Miguel Aban, Jr.
During trial, Abarratigue justified the re-assignment of the employees as they were supposedly needed by the Sangguniang Bayan when it conducted hearings in the area.
He also denied withholding the salaries of the complainants and maintained that either they did not report for work or they failed to record their attendance in the logbook.
Abarratigue, along with co-accused Esmeralda Frincillo, Purita Cagangangan and Analiza Bagro however were aquitted of four other counts of graft involving private complainants Jovita Mabansag, Maribeth Abina, Marita Abarrcoso, Gloria Tacad.
The court said there was no evident bad faith or gross inexcusable negligence in the re-assignments of the four, but Abarratigue was also ordered to pay them a total of P432,095, plus 6% interest, for their unpaid salaries and other benefits.