MANILA - Former Talisay City, Cebu mayor Socrates Fernandez has been found guilty of obstruction of justice by the Sandiganbayan 5th Division in relation to a grave threats case involving his son Joavan.
Fernandez, now serving as a city councilor, was sentenced to pay a fine of P6,000 as well as perpetual disqualification from holding public office, the court said in its decision promulgated Oct. 25.
The court noted that in 2010, when Fernandez took away a bag from from their car, he concealed the contents of the bag with the intention to impair its availability as evidence in the investigation.
The vehicle was then under police custody as Joavan was under a warrantless arrest for allegedly poking a gun at a certain Vincent Joe Castrodes,
“Criminal intent, being a state of mind, is manifested here by the overall circumstances produced by the prosecution's evidence surrounding the taking away of the lady's bag from the vehicle, that is, despite the clear proscription from the police, as well as the refusal to turn it over despite the clear instruction therefor,” the decision read.
The court noted that Presidential Decree No. 1829 stated that acts which “obstruct or frustrate or tend to obstruct or frustrate” the successful apprehension and prosecution of criminal offenders must by penalized.
During trial, Fernandez presented his sole witness, then Talisay City chief of police, who testified that the blotter book containing entries at the time of the incident could not be located.
The court however emphasized in its ruling that Fernandez opted not to present any evidence to prove that there was good faith for his actions, which “failed to cast any doubt on his criminal intent as proved by the prosecution.”
“As a final word, the accused is reminded that the Constitution stresses that a public office is a public trust, and public officers must at all times be accountable to the people, serve them with utmost responsibility, integrity, loyalty and efficiency, act with patriotism and justice, and lead modest lives,” the court said.