MANILA – Sandiganbayan has acquitted Jonas Cruz, former vice-mayor of Rodriguez Rizal, of graft charges.
Cruz was accused of graft over the alleged failure to pay in 2009 a number of city employees hired through job order.
According to the Sandiganbayan, the prosecution failed to prove that payroll documents actually reached Cruz's office. This negates the basis for determination whether Cruz acted with manifest partiality, or inexcusable negligence in administrative functions, the court said.
In 2008, Cruz temporarily took over from the town's mayor Pedro Cuerpo, who was suspended by the Rizal provincial government due to issues concerning the town's sanitary landfill. Cuerpo was reinstated at the end of 2009.
Cruz was accused of firing 1,400 of the town's 4,000 employees but he said the employees' contracts had ended, and the local government rehired street sweepers, garbage collectors, and other frontline department personnel.
Councilors drafted a resolution to reinstate the employees and release their salaries. --With reports by Carolyn Bonquin, ABS-CBN News