By Czarina Ong Ki
The Sandiganbayan Fifth Division has affirmed its decision finding former acting provincial administrator Manuel Nilves Tabora of Nueva Vizcaya guilty of graft for receiving money in exchange for his services as a local government official back in 2011.
In a decision promulgated on May 17, the anti-graft court convicted Tabora of graft, but acquitted him of the charge of breach of conduct because it was “very much akin in coverage or scope” to the graft charge.
Tabora filed a motion for partial reconsideration on May 27, and pleaded with the court to reverse its ruling on his graft conviction. He said in his motion that his defense had “factual and legal basis,” which the court should have taken into consideration.
However, the court said, in its ruling, that Tabora did not cite or mention any of those alleged “factual and legal basis.” “The Court is not swayed by such a generic and unsubstantiated assertion,” the resolution read.
Tabora, likewise, said the court did not even consider the authorized counter-affidavit of defense witness Krisjann Mapile. The court said Mapile’s counter-affidavit was even incriminating for the accused since he admitted that Tabora “served as a onetime conduit between me and Steven R. Shieldkret (private complainant).”
The court added that the defense was given all the opportunity to present Mapile as a witness. Despite his scheduled appearance on October 18, 2018, Mapile failed to show up.
Section 3(c) of R.A. 3019 penalizes officials for requesting or receiving gifts, presents or other pecuniary or material benefit in consideration for the help given or to be given.
In this case, the court said Tabora received from Shieldkret P250,000. “The same money was the ‘poisonous’ fruit of Tabora’s illicit conduct, prescribed and penalized under the anti-graft law,” the resolution stated.
He was sentenced to an indeterminate penalty of six years and one month as minimum to eight years as maximum imprisonment. He was also directed to pay P250,000, with interest, to the private complainant – International Minerals Marketing and Advising Inc. (IMAAI), as part of his civil liability.
The money received by Tabora on April 12, 2011 was in exchange for his assistance in securing the required permits for IMMAI for one of its ore trading business.
These permits were the Ore Transport Permit and the Mineral Ore Expert Permit, which are issued under the authority of the Provincial Mining Regulatory Board (PMRB), where the provincial governor sits either as chairman or member.
The eight-page resolution was written by Chairperson Rafael Lagos with the concurrence of Associate Justices Maria Theresa Mendoza-Arcega and Maryann Corpus-Mañalac.