By Czarina Nicole Ong
Former Kumalarang town mayor Allan P. Dumas of Zamboanga del Sur has been convicted of graft by the Sandiganbayan Sixth Division for recommending his relative for the Municipal Treasurer position back in July 2006.
He has been sentenced to suffer the indeterminate penalty of imprisonment of six years and one month as minimum and eight years as maximum, with perpetual disqualification from holding public office.
Damas was earlier slapped with violation of Section 3(e) of R.A. 3019 or the Anti-Graft and Corrupt Practices Act because he recommended that Nellie Poliran Toledo, his relative within the fourth civil degree of consanguinity, to assume the position of Municipal Treasurer and even certified that they were not related.
His actions violated Section 79 of R.A. 7160 or the Local Government Code, which prohibits the appointment in the career service of the local government of any person related within the fourth civil degree of consanguinity.
When he was arraigned on August 8, 2016, Damas entered a not guilty plea. He also filed a Motion for Leave to Court to File Demurrer to Evidence, which the court denied.
A demurrer to evidence is an act contesting that the evidence offered in the case is insufficient. Since the court said no to his motion for leave, filing a demurrer to evidence meant that the accused was waiving his right to present evidence. As a result, the court decided on the basis of the evidence presented by prosecution.
Unfortunately for Damas, the prosecution was able to prove that Damas and Toledo are first cousins, and that Damas signed and issued a Certification dated July 14, 2006 that Toledo is not related to him. She was then appointed as Municipal Treasurer on January 30, 2007.
“Despite being disqualified from the position of Municipal Treasurer, Toledo was eventually appointed to the position by reason of the acts of the accused. Such acts can be characterized as having performed with evident bad faith,” the decision read.
The court added that their status as cousins is even “public knowledge in the municipality,” so Damas cannot feign that he is not aware they are related.
Even though Damas recommended two other persons for the position aside from Toledo, the court said that “his contention is nonetheless untenable.”
“The prosecution proved beyond reasonable doubt that the accused, through his acts done with evident bad faith, gave unwarranted benefit, advantage or preference to Toledo by paving the way for her appointment to the position of Municipal Treasurer, despite being disqualified due to being the accused’s relative within the fourth civil degree of consanguinity,” the decision read.
It was penned by Chairperson Sarah Jane Fernandez and concurred by Associate Justices Karl Miranda and Michael Frederick Musngi.