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Sandigan absolves Sarangani town mayor in falsification case

/ 01:02 PM November 07, 2018
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The Sandiganbayan First Division has acquitted incumbent Mayor Aniceto Lopez Jr. of Maasim, Sarangani province from charges of falsifying documents pertaining to the town’s P10.75-million supplemental budget in 2010.

The anti-graft court’s decision dated October 22 said that the prosecution failed to establish sufficient evidence to prove that Lopez indeed committed a crime.

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“From the foregoing discussions, it appears clear that the liability of the accused for the crime has not been established with the required quantum of proof,” Sandiganbayan’s decision said.

“Consequently, their acquittal becomes a matter of course,” they added.

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According to former Maasim Mayor Jose Zamorro who filed the complaint, Lopez along with Municipal Budget Officer Reina Perpetua Jamora and Municipal Treasurer Moises Magallona Jr. indicated in the Supplemental Budget No. 2 that the Internal Revenue Allotment (IRA) adjustment of P10.75 million as a source of funds even if it was not yet available.

The local government under Lopez used the funds for the creation of 84 new plantilla positions.  Zamorro said that he also wanted to create new positions after Lopez’ term expired in 2010, but was unable to do so because the town had already exceeded the 45 percent personal services expenditure limitation set by law.

Article 171 (4) of the Revised Penal Code states that a public officer or employee “making untruthful statements in a narration of facts” is also warranted as a falsification of public documents.

However, Sandiganbayan noted a previous decision in saying that Lopez and other officials were not motivated by any criminal act and that they did not take advantage of their position in enlisting the IRA adjustment in their supplemental budget.

“The perversion of truth in the narration of facts must be made with wrongful intent on injuring a third person,” Sandiganbayan said, citing Fajelga vs. Escareal.

“Wrongful intent to injure a third person and obligation on the part of the narrator to disclose the truth are thus essential to conviction for the crime of falsification under the above articles of the Revised Penal Code,” they added.

With the three’s acquittal, the bail they posted has been ordered canceled and released, while the hold departure order against them have been recalled. /jpv

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