The Sandiganbayan Sixth Division has acquitted former Mandaue City Administrator Serafin Guievelondo Blanco of the province of Cebu of graft and malversation charges due to the failure of the prosecution to prove his guilt beyond reasonable doubt.
Blanco was initially slapped with violations of Section 3(e) of R.A. 3019 or the Anti-Graft and Corrupt Practices Act and Article 217 of the Revised Penal Code or Malversation of Public Funds.
On December 20, 2001, Blanco was accused of embezzling and converting to his personal use P189,600 worth of cash advances that he received for the Christmas party of the employees. Despite demands for him to liquidate the funds, he reportedly failed to do so.
In its ruling, the anti-graft court said that the prosecution failed to prove that the accused acted with manifest partiality, evident bad faith, and gross inexcusable negligence in the handling of the cash advances.
It is undisputed that Blanco received P500,000 worth of cash advances for the Christmas party. Blanco said he gave it to Executive Secretary Cheryl Zoleta Ouano, the organizer of the 2001 Christmas party and fund handler.
When the Demand Letter dated December 10, 2004 reached his office, Blanco submitted supporting documents to liquidate his cash advances until only P189,600 remain unliquidated. Later, with the help of Ouano, he submitted the corrected official receipts.
“This only shows that the accused, indeed, submitted official receipts and other supporting documents to liquidate his cash advances amounting to P189,600,” the court ruled.
“The submission of these official receipts and other supporting documents by the accused to liquidate his cash advances shows his lack of bad judgment, fraudulent or dishonest purpose, perverse motive, ill-will, furtive design, self-interest, or ulterior purpose that could qualify bad faith as evident,” it added.
As for his malversation charge, the anti-graft court said that Blanco was not at fault, either intentional or through negligence, when he allowed Ouano to be the fund handler because he still submitted official receipts and other supporting documents to account for the cash advances.
The 39-page decision was penned by Associate Justice Karl Miranda with the concurrence of Chairperson Sarah Jane Fernandez and Associate Justice Kevin Narce Vivero.