Sandigan convicts ex-Cebu town treasurer


Former municipal treasurer Esperato A. Del Socorro of Ronda town in Cebu has been convicted by the Sandiganbayan of graft and malversation of public funds involving P2.06 million in 2009.

Del Socorro was sentenced to jail terms ranging from six to 10 years each for graft and malversation. He was perpetually disqualified to hold public office and ordered to refund P2.06 million to the Bureau of Treasury.

The criminal charges against former Ronda mayor Esteban R. Sia had been dismissed on account of his death.

In 2009, Sia and Del Socorro were accused of "conniving and confederating together, and mutually helping each other with deliberate intent" in their refusal to liquidate or return P2,063,422.72 in public funds.

The prosecution said that Sia received the amount as cash advances which were not allowed under Commission on Audit (COA) Circular No. 97-002.

Del Socorro feigned ignorance of Sia's unliquidated cash advances, and told the Sandiganbayan during the trial that keeping tabs on them was not part of his job description.

But the court disagreed. "The malefactors' overt acts were actionable because it showed gross negligence amounting to bad faith," it said.

Del Socorro also defended himself by presenting letters from Sia that showed how the latter “threatened” him.

The court ruled: "After having marshaled the facts and circumstances, this Court has reached a moral certainty as to the accused's guilt. Correlatively, the constitutional presumption of innocence has been overthrown by the strength of the prosecution's evidence proving the crimes, as well as the conspiracy attendant thereto, beyond reasonable doubt.”

The decision dated Feb. 7, 2023 was written by Associate Justice Kevin Narce B. Vivero. Sixth Division Chairperson Sarah Jane T. Fernandez and Associate Justice Karl B. Miranda concurred.

TAGS: #Sandiganbayan #Ronda, Cebu