Sandiganbayan convicts Dapitan City ex-mayor for malversation of funds
MANILA, Philippines—The Sandiganbayan convicted former municipal mayor of Dapitan City for pocketing close to P1-million in confidential intelligence funds from 1998 to 2001.
In a 27-page decision, the anti-graft court through Associate Justice Efren De la Cruz sentenced Joseph Cedrick O. Ruiz to up to eight years imprisonment for violation of Republic Act 3019 or the Anti-Graft and Corrupt Practices Act and an imprisonment of up to 18 years and one day for violation of Article 217 [Malversation] of the Revised Penal Code.
Besides imprisonment, the former mayor who was eventually appointed as judge of the Regional Trial Court in Makati, was also slapped with perpetual special disqualification from holding any public office, fined P950,000 equivalent to the amount malversed, and ordered to indemnify the city of Dapitan the sum of P950,000, plus interest.
Records showed that for the period from June 30, 1998 to June 30, 2001, Ruiz allowed Police Inspector Pepe E. Nortal to request, for and in his behalf, the withdrawal as cash advance the amount of P1 million from the CIF appropriated under the Office of the City Mayor for fiscal year 2001 “to address the peace and order situation of Dapitan City.”
Nortal testified that Ruiz could not make the cash advance himself as he had not liquidated his previous cash releases. Of the amount, P50,000 was handed to Nortal for the PNP expenses.
In convicting Ruiz, the Sandiganbayan stated that the timing of the P1-million cash advance was suspect as it was done on May 16, 2001 or five days after the May 11, 2001 elections, where he lost his bid for re-election.
“Accused Ruiz’s failure to satisfactorily explain where the money went is sufficient to conclude that he converted the same for his personal use,” the ruling stated.
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