Sandiganbayan affirms conviction of former Leyte municipal mayor

Published February 2, 2021, 6:08 PM

by Czarina Nicole Ong Ki

The Sandiganbayan has affirmed its decision that convicted former Mayor Melchor Morados Quemado Sr. of Santa Fe town in Leyte of graft for renting in 2005 an office space that was owned by his brother.

(MANILA BULLETIN FILE PHOTO)

Affirmed was the ruling that imposed on Quemado a prison term ranging from six to eight years with perpetual disqualification from holding public office for violation of Section 3(e) of Republic Act No. 3019, the Anti-Graft and Corrupt Practices Act.

The prosecution presented evidence that Quemado rented an office space on Dec. 29, 2005 at the Hayward Travelodge, which was owned by his brother Anastacio, for the preparation of the feasibility study on the town’s proposed infrastructure project on Rural Productivity Enhancement Sector (INFRES).

The office space was rented for P16,000 a month without public bidding, Hayward Travelodge had no business permit at the time of the transaction, and is more or less 21 kilometers from the municipality of Santa Fe.

Quemado filed a motion to reconsider the decision. He pointed out that  there was no evident bad faith or manifest partiality in the rental of Hayward Travelodge despite lack of public bidding.

He said that his brother did not receive any unwarranted benefits, advantage or preference from the rental. In fact, Quemado said, his brother supported the municipality’s projects at his own loss and expense.

However, the anti-graft court deemed Quemado’s arguments as “legally twisted” and affirmed that the prosecution was successful in proving all of the elements of the crime charged.

“Records clearly proved that it was Quemado who requested and approved the rental of his brother’s hotel, certified the necessity and lawfulness of the payment of P16,000, and thereafter received the same amount for the said purpose,” the Sandiganbayan’s resolution issued by its fifth division stated.

“Even if the lease was executed and completed way before Dec. 29, 2005, or if it exceeded the amount of P16,000, the law does not exempt the said lease from the conduct of public bidding,” the resolution said.

Associate Justice Karl Miranda wrote the resolution with the concurrence of Associate Associate Justices Sarah Jane Fernandez and Kevin Narce Vivero.

 
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