Ombudsman sacks ex-Occidental Mindoro mayor charged with graft
The Ombudsman dismissed from service former Occidental Mindoro mayor Jose Villarosa and removed him of his benefits as he faces graft charges for misusing the tobacco trust fund intended for farmers in 2010.
In a statement Thursday, Ombudsman Conchita Carpio Morales said she has affirmed the order sacking former San Jose mayor Villarosa as well as municipal accountant Pablo Alvaro and treasurer Carlito Cajayon.
The Ombudsman dismissed them as they were found guilty of Grave Misconduct, Dishonesty and Conduct Prejudicial to the Best Interest of the Service.
The Ombudsman also meted them out with the penalties of perpetual disqualification from reemployment in government service, cancellation of eligibility, and forfeiture of retirement benefits.
In case of separation from the service, the penalty is convertible to a fine equivalent to respondent’s one year salary.
Villarosa, who was earlier convicted for the murder of his political rival’s sons, was arrested for graft by the National Bureau of Investigation (NBI) last Wednesday.
According to a return of arrest warrant served at the Sandiganbayan Fourth Division, Villarosa was arrested Jan. 6 for the offense of graft and technical malversation at the port in Calapan City, Oriental Mindoro.
Villarosa was accused of using P2.92-million tobacco excise tax revenue when he was San Jose mayor from 2010 to 2011 to fund projects which do not benefit farmer beneficiaries.
Under the sin tax law, a portion of the revenue from higher excise tax on tobacco should be allotted to programs for farmers.
Instead of benefitting the farmers, the funds were spent on multi-cab vehicles, bus rentals, mixed gravel and sand, medicines, meals and snacks, fuel and lubricants, repair and maintenance of a service vehicle, even for the purchase of Christmas lights, the Ombudsman prosecutors said.
Villarosa and his co-accused municipal accountant Alvaro were charged of graft and technical malversation for using these funds for other purposes not authorized under the law, causing undue injury to government and the farmer beneficiaries.
The Ombudsman in dismissing the accused said the“funds should be used solely for cooperative, livelihood and or agro-industrial projects that enhance the quality of agricultural products, develop alternative farming systems, or enable tobacco farmers to manage and own post-harvest enterprises.”
Morales added that“no genius is required to discern the disparity between the Legislature’s declared policy and respondents’ actual expenditures.”
She said the accused’s acts in diverting the funds “resulted in the deprivation of farmers who were the intended beneficiaries.”
“(R)espondents’concerted acts, seen in the light of their years in public office, were certainly motivated by a clear and flagrant intent to violate the law and disregard established rules,” Morales said.
Morales ordered the Interior and Local Government Secretary to implement the dismissal.
According to the NBI report signed by special investigator Richard Sison, Villarosa peacefully surrendered to authorities last Wednesday. He was brought in at the Sandiganbayan last Thursday to post his P432,000 bail from 12 counts of graft and 12 counts of technical malversation.
Under the Anti-Graft and Corrupt Practices Act, graft is a criminal offense of giving undue advantage or causing injury to government or a private party.
Meanwhile, technical malversation under Section 220 of the Revised Penal Code is an offense of using public funds or property for purposes other than which it was intended for by law.
In 2006, Villarosa was sentenced to death by the Quezon City Regional Trial Court for masterminding the 1997 murder of the sons of his political nemesis Ricardo Quintos.
On Dec. 13, 1994, the siblings Michael and Paul Quintos were gunned down by a group of men while they were attending a birthday party in Mamburao, Occidental Mindoro.
A group of farmers called the Mamburao 6 were convicted of carrying out the execution.
In 2008, the Court of Appeals overturned the conviction due to lack of evidence. Villarosa’s acquittal raised speculations former Pres. Gloria Arroyo used her influence to reverse the conviction of the husband of her loyal ally Amelita Villarosa, who succeeded her husband in Congress.
Villarosa’s wife was then Deputy Speaker and a member of the ruling coalition party Kabalikat ng Malayang Pilipino under the Arroyo administration.
While Villarosa and three farmers were acquitted, the other three farmers were found guilty of two counts of murder.
In 2014, the Ombudsman also indicted Villarosa for 10 counts of graft for allegedly awarding extraction permits to several private quarry companies from 2010 to 2011 without securing authority from the Occidental Mindoro governor.
Villarosa was the mayor of San Jose from 2010 to 2013. He had served as Occidental Mindoro representative from 1992 to 1998. CDG
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