By Czarina Nicole Ong-Ki
Jimalalud Mayor Reynaldo Tuanda of Negros Oriental has been found guilty by the Sandiganbayan of graft after it was found that he granted himself a permit to operate as a cockpit promoter.
Tuanda was convicted for violating Section 3(h) of R.A. 3019 or the Anti-Graft and Corrupt Practices Act and has been sentenced to imprisonment of one year and one month as minimum to six years as maximum, with perpetual disqualification from holding public office.
Tuanda unlawfully granted himself a permit to operate or engage as a cockpit promoter from January 8, 2010 to December 31, 2010, thereby gaining direct financial and pecuniary interest in cockfights within the municipality.
After carefully examining the records, the anti-graft court discovered that Tuanda granted himself a permit as cockpit promoter even without an ordinance from the Sangguniang Bayan authorizing the establishment of cockpits.
It was clear that Tuanda’s intervention in the transaction, which was the issuance of the permit, gave him financial or pecuniary interest.
“Let it be remembered that cockfighting, although authorized by law, is still a form of gambling. Immersing himself in convening and holding of arranged cockfights as the promoter cannot spare the accused from the fact that money is involved in the process,” the decision read.
“As the mayor of the municipality, and a reputable cockfight aficionado in Jimalaud, it would be a disgrace if the betters would not give the promoter a commission,” it added.
The anti-graft court ruled that it was “convinced beyond reasonable doubt” that Tuanda was guilty of graft,” since he tried to justify the issuance of the mayor’s permit even without first conferring with the municipal council.
The 24-page decision was written by Associate Justice Ma. Theresa Mendoza-Arcega with the concurrence of Associate Justices Maryann Corpus-Mañalac and Chairperson Rafael Lagos.