By Czarina Nicole Ong
Former Cordon Water District (CWD) general manager Godofredo Vicumodo from Isabela has been acquitted of his graft and malversation charges before the Sandiganbayan Fourth Division.
He was earlier accused of violating four counts of Section 3(e) of Republic Act 3019 or the Anti-Graft and Corrupt Practices Act and another four counts of Article 217 of the Revised Penal Code, otherwise known as malversation.
This was for the disbursement of public funds, supposedly incurred by him on his trip to and from the Local Water Utilities Administration (LWUA) head office in Quezon City.
But in truth, the prosecution said the trip was not authorized by the CWD board of directors and he was not legally entitled to reimbursements for travel expenses incurred. On July 2009, he took P5,083. He took another P4,000 in June 2010, then P4,433 from July to August 2010, and finally P4,526 on October 2010 – which makes it a total of P18,042.
It was up to the prosecution to prove that the travels taken by Vicumodo needed prior approval from the CWD board. After reviewing its evidence, or lack thereof, the court is convinced that the prosecution failed to do so.
In fact, the court said Vicumodo’s travels were “properly substantiated and confirmed by the relevant officers within the CWD.”
The prosecution also failed to convince the court that Vicumodo was not entitled to have his travel expenses reimbursed.
“The Court does not have any basis for finding that he misappropriated public funds or committed actionable conduct relating to the same,” the court said. “In sum, the court finds that the prosecution failed to discharge the burden of proving the accused’s guilt beyond reasonable doubt of the crimes charged.”
The 16-page decision was penned by Associate Justice Bayani Jacinto with the concurrence of Fourth Division Chairperson Alex Quiroz and Associate Justice Reynaldo Cruz.