By Czarina Nicole Ong Ki
Former Island Garden City of Samal mayor Aniano Paraiso Antalan of Davao del Norte has pleaded guilty to lesser offenses before the Sandiganbayan Seventh Division involving the reportedly anomalous receipt of money.
He was initially accused of violating one count of Section 3(b) of R.A. 3019 or the Anti-Graft and Corrupt Practices Act and two counts of Article 211 of the Revised Penal Code, also known as Indirect Bribery.
Antalan reportedly received P100,000 from Samal Island Multi-Purpose Cooperative on December 21, 2014. The Island Garden City of Samal had procurement contracts from the cooperative for the purchase of fuel, oil and lubricants. Antalan, in his official position, had the capacity to intervene in these transactions.
Section 3(b) of R.A. 3019 prohibits public officials from “directly or indirectly requesting or receiving any gift, present, share, percentage, or benefit, for himself or for any other person, in connection with any contract or transaction between the Government and any other part, wherein the public officer in his official capacity has to intervene under the law.”
Meanwhile, for his two indirect bribery charges, Antalan was accused of receiving money “by reason of his office” in the total amount of P300,000. He received P200,000 on December 28, 2012 then P100,000 on December 21, 2014.
During his arraignment on March 15, Antalan entered a “not guilty” plea. During the preliminary conference on May 9, both the prosecution and defense manifested that they are planning to enter a plea bargaining agreement.
Antalan wanted to enter a “guilty” plea to the lesser offense of Sections 7(a) and (d) of R.A. 6713 or the Code of Conduct and Ethical Standards for Public Officials and Employees, and the Ombudsman gave its consent.
As a result, the anti-graft court likewise accepted the plea bargaining agreement. “The Court deems the prosecution’s manifestation as sufficient to allow the withdrawal of accused Antalan’s former plea and to permit him to enter a plea of guilty to a lesser offense,” the decision read.
Antalan was slapped with a penalty of P5,000 for each count of violation of Section 7(a) and (d) of R.A. 6713 or a total of P15,000.
The nine-page decision was penned by Associate Justice Zaldy Trespeses with the concurrence of Chairperson Ma. Theresa Dolores Gomez-Estoesta and Associate Justice Georgina Hidalgo.