Mar 142013
The Supreme Court has given the go signal for the Sandiganbayan to hear the technical malversation case filed against a vice mayor from Ilocos Norte for allegedly using public funds to purchase a heavy equipment.

In its decision, the Supreme Court second division junked a petition for certiorari filed by Vice Mayor Pacifico Velasco of Bacarra town seeking to stop the Sandiganbayan from hearing the case and accusing the anti-graft court of grave abuse when it denied on June 9, 2005 his motion for reinvestigation of the malversation case lodged against him.

“In all, we see no grave abuse of discretion on the part of the Sandiganbayan in denying the motion for reinvestigation,” said the Supreme Court in a decision penned by Associate Justice Antonio Carpio and concurred in by Associate Justices Arturo Brion and Mariano del Castillo.

The Supreme Court dismissed Velasco’s claim that the Sandiganbayan denied him his right to move for the reconsideration of the Ombudsman’s recommendation to file malversation charges against him, with the high tribunal noting that he had filed earlier an Omnibus Motion for Reconsideration before the Office of the Special Prosecutor.

“(W)hen petitioner filed an Omnibus Motion for Reconsideration, he was effectively appealing a Memorandum issued by the Office of the Special Prosecutor,” the Supreme Court said. “The filing of another [MR] constitutes a prohibited pleading.”

The case against Velasco was filed by former Bacarra mayor Philip Corpus Velasco, who accused the vice mayor of misusing public funds to purchase a road grader worth P670,000

In his counter-affidavit, the vice mayor admitted requesting a cash advance from the local government to purchase the heavy equipment while awaiting funding from the national government. When the expected fund did not arrive, he  claimed that he was forced to mortgage the road grade to be able to refund the cash advance he made.

On July 8, 2004, the Office of Legal Affairs recommended that Velasco be indicted for technical malversation after discovering that while the Sangguniang Bayan authorized the purchase of a road grader, no sum was released for its purchase.

Investigators eventually found out that the money used by Velasco came from the municipality’s funds for personal services, which were originally appropriated for salaries and benefits of municipal employees.

“After the preliminary investigation compliant with due process, the Ombudsman, guided by the evidence presented during the preliminary investigation formulates and designates the offense. The Ombudsman did so in this case. The formulation of the offense depends on the evidence presented, not on the conclusionary designation in the complaint,” the Supreme Court said. — Mark D. Merueñas/KBK, GMA News

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