Sandigan clears ex-Ilocos Sur town mayor, 2 others of graft, malversation charges


Former Mayor Diocaesar S. Suero of Cabugao, Ilocos Sur and two others have been acquitted by the Sandiganbayan of their graft and malversation charges in the alleged overpayment of the town’s farm-to-market road project in 2010.

Also acquitted were former municipal planning and development coordinator Florante S. Jara and private individual Nesto A. Ibarra.

The cases against former municipal engineer Jose Suboc have been archived pending his arrest or surrender.

Suero and his group were charged with graft for their reported preference to Ibarra's company, N.A. Ibarra Construction, in the farm-to-market road project.

The prosecution alleged that Suero released the amount of P516,715.14 to Ibarra even though the project was deemed incomplete as declared by the Commission on Audit (COA). It claimed the act of Suero and the other accused resulted in “overpayment in the aforesaid amount in violation of pertinent laws, and government auditing and accounting rules and regulations."

On the malversation charge, Suero and Ibarra were accused together with Suboc and Jara. The prosecution claimed they falsified the Certificate of Work Accomplished, Certificate of Services Rendered, and Certificate of Project Completion in connection with the road project. As a result, it alleged, the accused disbursed a total of P926,650.66 and made it appear as if the project was 100 percent completed.

In its decision, the Sandiganbayan said it was not convinced that the accused committed evident bad faith, manifest partiality, or gross inexcusable negligence in the subject transactions.

The court said the prosecution failed to clearly establish that the project was not 100 percent complete as of April 5, 2010, so the court cannot come to the conclusion that the certifications issued by the accused are false.

"The prosecution failed to prove beyond reasonable doubt that they issued them (certifications) in order to favor one party nor was there proof or ill motive or patently dishonest and fraudulent purpose or with conscious indifference on the part of the accused," the court ruled.

The 74-page decision dated Oct. 28, 2022 was written by Associate Justice Ronald B. Moreno with the concurrence of Presiding Justice Amparo M. Cabotaje-Tang and Associate Justice Bernelito R. Fernandez.

TAGS: #Sandiganbayan #Cabugao, Ilocos Sur