MANILA — The Sandiganbayan has found a former mayor in Isabela province guilty of graft for purchasing P1.8 million in petrol products from his wife's gas station.
The Sandiganbayan 7th Division, in a decision dated Nov. 8, sentenced former Gamu town Mayor Fernando Cumigad to 6 to 8 years imprisonment for each of 36 counts of graft, as well as perpetual disqualification from public office.
Cumigad and his wife Marilou were married 11 years before the Family Code took effect in 1988, which means that the system of conjugal partnership of gains governed their property relations, the anti-graft court noted.
The former mayor earlier said he did not know that his wife owned the gas station FOC Petron because her name did not appear on its vouchers and checks.
“Accused’s defense predicated on a bare denial is at most self-serving, unsubstantiated by clear and convincing evidence. Surely, such denial is a mere attempt to avoid liability,” said the court.
It also noted that Cumigad failed to comply with government rules in resorting to direct contracting for the petrol purchase instead of holding a public bidding for the supply deal.
Cumigad argued that direct contracting had been the practice of the municipality.
Still, the court stressed Cumigad gave his wife unwarranted benefit, given that there were 3 other gas stations in town.
The Sandiganbayan also said Cumigad violated the Local Government Code and the Code of Conduct and Ethical Standards for Public Officials and Employees for engaging in direct or indirect business transactions with the government.
“The fact still stands that accused benefited from the transactions since it was not shown that FOC Petron was established from the exclusive funds of Marilou, and considering further that accused and Marilou remained married to each other,” the court said.
Associate Justice Zaldy Trespeses penned the decision, with the concurrence of Division Chairperson Ma. Theresa Dolores Gomez-Estoesta and Associate Justice Georgina Hidalgo.