SC upholds ruling on graft charges against 5 BAC members of Tabontabon, additional penalty imposed

Published July 11, 2019, 4:26 PM

by Martin Sadongdong & Antonio Colina

By Rey Panaligan 

The Supreme Court (SC) has affirmed with modification the guilty verdict imposed by the Sandiganbayan on five members of the bids and awards committee (BAC) of Tabontabon town in Leyte.

Supreme Court (MANILA BULLETIN)
Supreme Court (MANILA BULLETIN)

Instead of only a prison term ranging from six years and one day for each count of graft, the SC also imposed the penalty of permanent disqualification to hold public office on the five BAC members.

Modified was the 2018 Sandiganbayan decision that meted out prison terms for five counts of graft on Edgardo E. Cinco, Luzviminda G. Bibar, Meonilo C. Reforzado, Ricardo M. Efren and Alfredo Canonigo.

The SC decision dismissed the petition filed by the five BAC members “for failure of the petitioners to show that the Sandiganbayan committed any reversible error in its Feb. 26, 2018 Decision and April 5, 2018 Resolution in SB-10-CRM-0040 to 0044.”

The SC said all the elements of violations of Section 3(e) of the Anti-Graft and Corrupt Practices Act were present in the cases filed against the BAC members.

It said the Sandiganbayan was correct in finding that the five accused were all public officers at the time they committed the offense, that they acted with evident bad faith when they received their honoraria from January to May in 2007 even while there was no bidding held during the period, and that they caused undue injury to the municipal government in the amount of P272,000 representing their honoraria collected for the five-month period.

But the SC said that while the Sandiganbayan correctly imposed the prison term on the five BAC members, it (the anti-graft court) should have also imposed their perpetual disqualification to hold public office under Section 9 of the law for violations not only of Section 3 but also of Sections 4, 5 and 6 of Republic Act No. 3019, the anti-graft law.

“As such, petitioners (BAC members) are perpetually disqualified from public office. As for the penalty of payment of the sum of P272,000.00, which was the total amount of honoraria the petitioners unlawfully received, the Court upholds the same as it was duly established during trial,” the SC said.

“ACCORDINGLY, the Court resolves to AFFIRM the February 26, 2018 Decision and April 5, 2018 Resolution of the Sandiganbayan in SB-1 O-CRM-0040 to 0044 with the following MODIFICATIONS: petitioners EDGARDO E. CINCO, LUZVIMINDA G. BIBAR, MEONILO C. REFORZADO, RICARDO M. EFREN, and ALFREDO F. CANONIGO are hereby found GUILTY of five (5) counts of violation of Section 3(e) of Republic Act No. 3019 and are sentenced to suffer the penalty of imprisonment of six (6) years and one (1) month for each count, with perpetual disqualification from holding public office,” the SC ruled.

 
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