By Czarina Nicole Ong
The Sandiganbayan Sixth Division has refused to release former Baganga Mayor Gerry Morales of Davao Oriental and former municipal accountant Emeritos Jovilla and municipal treasurer Francisco Jimenez Jr. after they were convicted of graft due to the anomalous purchase of tires back in 2002.
Morales and company filed an ex-parte motion to reopen and [modify] sentence. They asked the court to allow their release since they have already served the minimum prison sentence, and they want to be allowed to apply for probation under the Probation Law. They also asked that their respective cash bonds be released.
They were earlier convicted of violating Section 3(e) of Republic Act 3019 or the Anti-Graft and Corrupt Practices Act due to their involvement in the procurement of 10 pieces of exterior tires worth over P100,000.
In October 2002, the three of them purchased the tires from Villtrade Marketing, which is owned by Donald Villademosa. However, they proceeded with the purchase despite several irregularities.
In their motion, the respondents highlighted R.A. 10951, which states that “the imposable penalty, as adjusted, ranges from arresto mayor as minimum to prison correccional as maximum.”
The said law applies in cases where the imposable penalties of crimes such as theft, qualified theft, estafa, robbery, malicious mischief, malversation and similar crimes. The penalty under the said law is dependent on the value of the object in consideration.
However, the prosecution argued otherwise and said R.A. 10951 does not apply in their case. “There is nothing in said law allowing the suppletory application of its provisions to crimes punished under special penal laws,” the prosecution countered.
This time, the court sided with the prosecution. “There is no ground for the modification of the sentence imposed upon them. Their prayer that they be released after serving the minimum sentence term and they be allowed to apply for probation, being grounded on the adjustment of their sentence, must necessarily be denied,” the five-page resolution read.
However, the court did grant their request to have their respective bail bonds be released, since they commenced the service of their sentence on January 6, 2017.
The resolution was penned by Chairperson Sarah Jane Fernande and concurred by Associate Justices Karl Miranda and Zaldy Trespeses.