By Czarina Nicole Ong Ki
Former Margosatubig Mayor Roy Espitacion Encallado of Zamboanga del Sur and Municipal Health Officer and bids and awards committee (BAC) Chairman Arwin Indal Alpha have pleaded guilty to the lesser offense of Frauds Against Public Treasury instead of graft before the Sandiganbayan First Division.
They were sentenced to pay a fine of P1,000 each, with subsidiary penalty in case of insolvency.
The two originally stand accused of violating Section 3(e) of R.A. 3019, the Anti-Graft and Corrupt Practices Act for giving undue advantage to Barcelona Spring Farm when they awarded it with the purchase of fish cages, fingerlings, and fish feeds amounting to P4,112,366.02 even though there were violations of RA 9184 or the Government Procurement Act and Presidential Decree No. 1445.
During the pre-trial on October 4, the lawyer of the accused manifested that they want to plea bargain to the lesser offense of Frauds Against Public Treasury, which is defined by Article 213 of the Revised Penal Code.
On December 5, the prosecution informed the anti-graft court that it had already secured the conformity of the Ombudsman and the complainant to allow the accused to enter into a plea bargain.
As a result, Encallado and Alpha withdrew their earlier plea of “Not Guilty” and entered into a “Guilty” plea to the lesser offense of Frauds Against Public Treasury.
The four-page decision was written by Chairperson Efren De La Cruz with the concurrence of Associate Justices Geraldine Faith Econg and Edgardo Caldona.
Their other co-accused include then Municipal Accountant Eien Jimeno Maning, Municipal Planning Officer and National Resource Management Focal Person Ludivina Domingono Salazar, and BAC members Alex Benigay Villarin, Elvira Zapanta Emia, Andres Patay Limatoc, Merlinda Teves Ambaic, and Pilar Barredo Locop.