The Sandiganbayan has convicted former Mayor Isaias B. Ubana II of Lopez town in Quezon province and two other persons of graft in the staggered delivery of plastic and glass kitchenware worth P1.12 million in Nov. 2008
Ubana, former Senior Administrative Assistant Ma. Bernadette Eudela Nieva and private individual Leonardo V. Revuelta, owner of Revuelta Enterprises, were sentenced to six to eight years imprisonment with perpetual disqualification from holding public office.
Ubana and Nieva were also convicted of falsification of public documents and were sentenced to two to eight years imprisonment with a penalty of P5,000 each.
During the trial, it was established that on Nov. 24, 2008, Ubana and Nieva conspired with Revuelta in the submission to the town accountant the Inspection and Acceptance Report and Inventory Custodian Slip No. 2008-252 for the disbursement of funds.
The slip showed that Revuelta Enterprises had completely delivered plasticware and glassware worth P1,122,800 to the municipality, so payment was made to Revuelta Enterprises for P1,055,432 on Dec. 8, 2008 even if the items have yet to be delivered.
The supply of plastic and glass kitchenware was intended for selected barangays for use during their assemblies.
Ubana and Nieves insisted that the prosecution failed to prove “the heart of the offense.” They explained that the delivery of the procured items and its distribution among the barangay-beneficiaries are two different things, and the former is already sufficient enough to release payment to the supplier.
While the anti-graft court agreed with their argument, it was determined during trial that the complete delivery of items was not made on Nov. 24, 2008. In fact, the court said that Revuelta himself admitted to the state auditor that he made staggered deliveries, one as late as March 10, 2009, due to lack of warehouse or stockrooms in the municipality.
“The prosecution was able to present evidence leading to a fair and reasonable conclusion that while there may have been delivery of kitchenware by accused Revuelta on Nov. 24, 2008, the same was not complete and that there was, in fact, at least one delivery of kitchenware to the municipality after payment had already been released to the supplier,” the court said.
“We find accused guilty of the crime as charged,” it added.
In the case of Revuelta, the court said he is just as guilty as Ubana and Nieves when he received the payment even if he has yet to complete the delivery of the purchased items.
The Sandiganbayan’s sixth division Chairperson and Associate Justice Sarah Jane T. Fernandez wrote the 75-page decision with the concurrence of Associate Justices Karl B. Miranda and Kevin Narce B. Vivero.