Sandiganbayan affirms Cebu official’s conviction

Published January 22, 2021, 2:54 PM

by Czarina Nicole Ong Ki

The Sandiganbayan Fifth Division has affirmed its decision convicting Dumanjug, Cebu Administrative Officer IV Emmylou Cabonilas of the charge of usurpation.

Cabonilas is the co-accused of the late Dumanjug Mayor Nelson Gamaliel Garcia. They were found guilty of violating Article 177 of the Revised Penal Code for signing a Sangguniang Bayan (SB) resolution and overtaking the functions of the municipal council secretary back in 2014.

On December 26, 2013, Cabonilas reportedly performed acts “pertaining to the position of Secretary of the Sangguniang Bayan of Dumanjug,” such as signing a Sanggunian Bayan Resolution, which approved the municipal government’s budget for 2014.

During trial, Cabonilas said that she was merely compelled to prepare the resolution because Nerio Aquino, the municipal council secretary, refused to do so. However, the anti-graft court said her argument was unworthy of merit because there was no evidence presented that Aquino refused to prepare the resolution.

Cabonilas filed a motion for reconsideration dated November 19, 2020, arguing that there was no malice on her part in certifying the correctness of the SB Resolution and approving the appropriation ordinance of the annual budget of the municipality.

She added that the appointment of Aquino as Sangguniang Bayan Secretary was nullified. Meanwhile, the prosecution averred that the arguments of Cabonilas were already considered and thoroughly discussed in the assailed decision of the court.

In a resolution dated January 8, the anti-graft court denied Cabonilas’ MR for utter lack of merit.

“The ratiocinations of accused Cabonilas are mere reiterations of her previous arguments in the instant case. The instant motion for reconsideration must necessarily fail as there are no new and substantial matters raised. More so, the issues have already been passed upon in the assailed decision. It would be a useless ritual for the Court to reiterate itself,” the resolution read.

It was written by Associate Justice Maria Theresa Mendoza-Arcega with the concurrence of Chairperson Rafael Lagos and Associate Justice Maryann Corpus Mañalac.

Cabonilas has been sentenced to suffer the indeterminate penalty of two months and one day of arresto mayor as the minimum penalty and eight months and 21 days of prision correccional as the maximum penalty.