Ex-Mindoro mayor appeals graft conviction
MANILA — Former San Teodoro, Oriental Mindoro, Mayor Apollo Feraren has asked the Sandiganbayan to reverse his graft conviction for allegedly allowing a private individual to use government-owned heavy
equipment free of charge.
In a 29-page motion for reconsideration, Feraren said the anti-graft court’s Fourth Division erred in sentencing him to up to 10 years in prison solely on the basis of hearsay testimony.
The court, in its September 19 decision, cited the “categorical” statements by heavy equipment drivers Nestor Elis and Roberto Santero that in July 2004, Feraren authorized the lease of the dump truck, backhoe, and grader to Eugene Li, owner of the Supergreen Coconut Fiber Factory.
But, Feraren’s camp pointed out that Elis only said he was notified by the administration that the former mayor knew of the plan to use the municipality’s dump truck for Li’s business. In this case, the testimonies citing information from the administrative officer “even constituted double hearsay,” the motion noted.
Feraren also argued that accountability for municipal property was with the foreman designated as the Responsible Supply and Property Officer, as well as the municipal treasurer.
“Succinctly, Accused’s [Feraren] lack of personal knowledge of the unauthorized use by Li and the municipality’s equipment, while unconvincing, is practically rational and sensible,” the motion stated.
Feraren argued that he would not have known of this use of government equipment, especially as he had just begun his mayoral term in July 2004. He said his lack of knowledge of the matter did not amount to “gross inexcusable negligence” to warrant his conviction for graft.
Besides imprisonment, the Fourth Division meted Feraren with perpetual disqualification from public office for violation of Section 3(e) of the Anti-Graft and Corrupt Practices Act, which prohibits officials from causing undue injury to the government or giving unwarranted benefits to any private party. SFM
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