Sandigan affirms conviction of former Manila barangay chairman

Published January 28, 2021, 4:52 PM

by Czarina Nicole Ong Ki

The Sandiganbayan Seventh Division has affirmed its decision convicting former Barangay 772, Manila Chairman Bonuso Libay of his two graft charges as it denied his Motion for Partial Reconsideration.


Libay, former Punong Barangay of Barangay 772, Zone 84, District 5, was convicted for violating Sections 3(e) and 3(b) of Republic Act No. 3019, also known as the Anti-Graft and Corrupt Practices Act, by Judge Rosalyn Mislos-Loja of Branch 41 of the Regional Trial Court (RTC) of Manila.

He was sentenced to eight years imprisonment for each charge. Aside from imprisonment, Libay was perpetually disqualified from holding public office.

His case stemmed from a complaint made by Franco Espiritu of F.R.C.G.E Trading, a supplier. Espiritu testified that on Jan. 20, 2012, Libay demanded and received P10,000 in exchange for the approval and signing of the disbursement voucher representing the payment of rice, paint, and brushes which Espiritu delivered to the barangay.

As evidence, Espiritu presented an Acknowledgement Receipt signed by Libay himself.

Libay elevated his case to the Sandiganbayan after he was convicted, but on Feb. 6, 2018, the anti-graft court affirmed his conviction. He filed a Motion for Partial Reconsideration on Sept. 18, 2020.

In it, Libay argued that Espiritu’s credibility as a witness is “highly questionable” considering that he himself admitted giving money to barangay chairpersons for his projects.

He added that he was convicted despite the insufficiency of the prosecution’s evidence to prove his guilt beyond reasonable doubt, especially since Espiritu was the only witness who allegedly has personal knowledge of the crimes charged.

However, the anti-graft court was not swayed by Libay’s arguments as it found that Espiritu was not politically motivated in testifying against Libay because they were not contenders for the same position.

And contrary to Libay’s claims, the court found that the prosecution sufficiently proved all of the elements of the crime of graft during trial.

“In sum, accused-appellant has failed to raise any new or substantial matter that would warrant a reconsideration of the Court’s decision,” the court ruled.

“We find that there is no cogent reason to modify, much less reverse, our assailed decision, as accused appellant’s motion is a mere rehash of his previous arguments.”

The five-page resolution was written by Associate Justice Georgina Hidalgo and concurred in by Seventh Division Chairperson Ma. Theresa Dolores Gomez-Estoesta and Associate Justice Zaldy Trespeses.