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Press Release

Surigao del Norte mayor convicted for demoting employee
22 June 2017

           The Sandiganbayan has sentenced Mayor Lucio Gonzales of Pilar, Surigao del Norte, to imprisonment of six to ten years after he was found guilty of violation of Section 3(e) of the Anti-Graft and Corrupt Practices Act (Republic Act No. 3019).  Mayor Gonzales was also perpetually disqualified from holding public office.

Ombudsman prosecutors proved that Gonzales committed graft when he removed Victor Literato as municipal agriculturist in May 2007. Gonzales subsequently issued office orders initially appointing Anecita Penera then Alex Literato, as officers-in-charge of the Municipal Agricultural Office.

As defense, Gonzales claimed that Victor’s removal was due to the latter’s sub-par performance.

In its Decision, the Sandiganbayan ruled that “even granting for the sake of argument that Victor Literato’s performance was less than desirable, still, the Court cannot countenance the position taken by the accused…as the Court finds the accused’s designation of Penera and Alex Literato was not only patently illegal, but was also committed with manifest partiality, evident bad faith and gross inexcusable negligence.”

 “[T]he Court finds the accused to have given unwarranted benefit to Anecita Penera and Alex Literato, by designating them, one after the other as Officer-In-Charge of the Municipal Agriculture Office, despite the presence and capability of the appointed Municipal Agriculturist, Victor Exuperancio T. Literato to perform the functions of the said position as head of the said office to the prejudice of the latter,” added the Sandiganbayan. It also held that Victor Literato’s reassignment as fisheries coordinator is a demotion tantamount to removal which has violated his constitutional right to security of tenure that “no employee of the civil service shall be removed or suspended except for cause provided by law.”

Under Section 3(e) of R.A. No. 3019, public officials are prohibited from causing any undue injury to any party, including the Government, or giving any private party any unwarranted benefits, advantage or preference in the discharge of his official administrative or judicial functions through manifest partiality, evident bad faith or gross inexcusable negligence. ###