Cebu port cashier convicted of malversation
02 October 2017
Prosecutors from the Office of the Ombudsman in the Visayas have secured the conviction of Romeo Pañares, a cashier of the Cebu Ports Authority, for Malversation of Public Funds. Pañares was sentenced by Branch 23 of the Cebu City Regional Trial Court to imprisonment of 10 to 14 years and to suffer the penalty of perpetual special disqualification.
Trial proceedings showed that the accused misappropriated his collection amounting to P15,817.70. The embezzlement was discovered when the Commission on Audit (COA) conducted an examination of the accounts covering the period January 2003 until December 2004. Prosecutors presented Atty. Chona Labrague of COA Region 7 who testified that “to determine the shortage, they first determined the accountabilities by the receipts and compared to the bank validated remittance advices.” On 17 March 2006, a demand letter was sent by the COA, however, Pañares failed to explain and justify the shortage.
Pañares denied the accusation and insisted that there was no actual shortage.
In her Judgment, Presiding Judge Generosa Labra stated that “the prosecution was able to establish proof beyond reasonable doubt of the existence of the elements of the crime hurled against the accused.” The court added that “an accountable officer may be convicted of Malversation even if there is no direct evidence of misappropriation and the only evidence is that there is a shortage in his accounts which he has not been able to explain satisfactorily. In the case at bar, the prosecution was able to prove that accused incurred shortage in his collection in the amount of P15,817.70 and that he failed to explain or justify the said shortage, thus, he is presumed to have misappropriated the amount.”
The court also explained that “as shown in the [COA] team’s fact-finding inquiry report, the accused intentionally made it appear in the records that his total collections balanced with his total deposits each month. However, a detailed look on each of the collections and its corresponding remittance showed that the accused incessantly, through lapping of collections, and deposits made it appear that his cash collections on the previous day were deposited the following day, by depositing checks of the same amount which he had collected on the same day they were deposited, thus concealing his failure to deposit his cash collections that eventually resulted to his failure to remit the amount.” ###