Ex-Dinagat town mayor convicted of perjury over SALN issues
MANILA, Philippines – The former mayor of Dinagat town in Dinagat Island has been sentenced to one-year imprisonment for failing to declare ownership of five motorcycles in her 2007 Statement of Assets, Liabilities, and Net Worth (SALN) in 2007.
In a decision of the Fourth Division of the Sandiganbayan issued November 29 but was release only today, ex-mayor Gwendolyn Ecleo was found guilty of perjury despite her claims that her former husband purchased the vehicles using her name.
The prosecution presented sufficient evidence, including certificates of registration (CR) of four Honda Bravo motorcycles and one Honda NF — all placed under Ecleo’s name.
“The motorcycles were purchased by Ecleo on different dates in 2006. As such, they should be declared as among her personal properties in her 2006 SALN, as well as in SALNs for 2007 and 2010,” the decision penned by Associate Justice Reynaldo Cruz said.
“Not only are the CRs of the motorcycles in the name of Ecleo as their owner, their corresponding ORs (official receipts) for the years 2006, 2009, 2010, and 2011 are also still in her name,” the court added.
Last March 2016, while the case was being heard, defense witness Jose Jundy Castillo, the branch manager of Eduhome Enterprises Inc. where the motorcycles were purchased from, issued a certification that Ecleo was the one who purchased the motorcycles.
After a year, in May 2017, Castillo issued another certification saying that the accused’s former husband, a certain Baltazar Robert Durano was responsible for the purchase. But upon prodding by the court, Castillo admitted that Ecleo requested this certification to spare her from liabilities.
“When asked by the court, Castillo admitted that Ecleo personally requested him to issue the 29 May 2017 Certification and to supply the paragraph mentioning Durano as the one who purchased the motorcycles,” the anti-graft court said.
“To the mind of the court, the inclusion of Durano as the buyer of the motorcycles in the certification issued by Castillo […] is a mere afterthought on the part of Ecleo so that she can feign ignorance on the ownership of the motorcycles,” it added.
No civil liability has been issued against Ecleo as the case did not tackle damage to the government’s coffers.
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