Sandiganbayan convicts mayor, ex-treasurer for non-remittance of P1.27-M taxes to BIR

Published October 24, 2021, 4:51 PM

by Rey Panaligan 


The Sandiganbayan has convicted Mayor Arnold B. Abalos of San Sebastian town in Samar and former treasurer Virginia A. Uy of graft for not remitting to the Bureau of Internal Revenue (BIR) the P1.27 million in tax liabilities due from the municipality in 2008 and 2009.

Abalos and Uy were sentenced to a prison term ranging from six years and one month to eight years and were perpetually banned from holding public office for violation of Section 3 (e) of Republic Act No. 3019, the Anti-Graft and Corrupt Practices Act.

But they were acquitted of malversation charges for failure of the prosecution to prove that “the public funds were missing, or that these same public funds cannot be accounted for.”

Also, the anti-graft court – in a decision written by Associate Justice Bernelito R. Fernandez – said “no proof of any shortage of funds was presented nor was there any proof that the funds were taken by either, or all of the accused, or, if they were taken at all, by any third party.”

“All that was proven by the prosecution was that the tax liabilities of San Sebastian were not paid and remained unpaid. No shortage was proven, nor any misappropriation on the part of both accused. Thus, both accused cannot be held liable of malversation,” the court stressed.

On the graft charges, the Sandiganbayan said:

“The evidence presented by the prosecution was, at the very least, shows that both accused committed gross inexcusable negligence in not paying the tax liabilities of the Municipality of San Sebastian.

“Both accused were fully aware not only of the existence of the tax liabilities but also of a demand for payment from the BIR.

“However, they failed to act accordingly, despite of their duty to do so, not inadvertently, but willfully and intentionally, with a conscious indifference to the consequences insofar as the Municipality of San Sebastian is concerned.

“This Court cannot assent to the stance of both accused. Although accused Abalos maintains that his act of paying the taxes is ministerial or that there are no documents that will show the details of the tax liabilities, these are not sufficient grounds to excuse him from criminal liability.

“On the other hand, the posture of accused Uy that the Commission of Audit (COA) was unable to complete its audit is likewise not enough to relieve her of any criminal liability.

“At the very least, these postures are simply unconvincing.

“The evidence on record reveals that the non-payment of the taxes clearly caused damage to the Government, particularly to San Sebastian, because it did not receive any gain from the taxes but instead incurred penalties and interest therefrom. Penalties and interest that could have been avoided had payment been made.”