By Czarina Nicole Ong-Ki
The Sandiganbayan Special Third Division has affirmed the graft conviction of former Quezon City Barangay Secretary Carolyn Tabora for allowing a barangay kagawad to take his salary even though he was out of the country, and not able to render services.
Tabora was convicted on August 19, 2017 by the Quezon City Regional Trial Court Branch 98 of six counts of violation of Section 3(e) of R.A. 3019 or the Anti-Graft and Corrupt Practices Act.
For each count, she was sentenced to suffer the indeterminate penalty of imprisonment of one year and one day as minimum up to four years as maximum.
After her guilty verdict, Tabora elevated her case to the Sandiganbayan, arguing that there was no sufficient evidence proving that she committed graft and corruption. Because of this, she prayed that her conviction be reversed.
Tabora reasoned that she was not the one in charge of the barangay payrolls, but she was indeed one of its signatories. While she knew that Ronario was in Japan from July to December 2004, Tabora said she did not see Ronario’s signature in the payrolls.
Unfortunately for Tabora, the anti-graft court found her appeal devoid of merit.
“To be sure, the appellant was well aware that Kagawad Raymund Ronario did not work from July to December 2004 because he was in Japan,” the decision read. “As such, Ronario was not entitled to receive his salary for the said period.”
When Tabora saw his name on the daily wages payrolls, the court said she should have taken appropriate action under the circumstances.
“This she utterly failed to do. While she claimed that she asked the barangay captain if the name of Kagawad Ronario should be removed from the payroll since he was out of the country at that time, she did nothing despite the barangay captain’s answer in the affirmative.”
The court stressed that removing Ronario’s name from the daily wages payrolls was a very simple task, and in failing to do so, she is guilty of gross inexcusable negligence “characterized by want of the slightest care with conscious indifference to the consequences.”
Not only did the Sandiganbayan affirm her conviction, but it also modified her prison sentence to six years and one month as minimum to 10 years as maximum for each of the six graft charges. She is also perpetually disqualified from holding public office.
The 23-page decision was penned by Presiding Justice Amparo Cabotaje-Tang with the concurrence of Associate Justices Sarah Jane Fernandez and Bernelito Fernandez.