Cebu ex-mayor convicted of malversation
08 November 2017
Good intentions do not suffice as an excuse for non-compliance with existing processes and rules in the handling of public property. This ruling by the Sandiganbayan underpins the conviction of Tudela, Cebu ex-Mayor Rogelio Baquerfo, Sr. which found him guilty of Malversation of Public Property (Article 217, Revised Penal Code). He was sentenced to 12 years to 18 years imprisonment with perpetual special disqualification from holding any public office, and was ordered to pay a fine of P57,750.00 plus interest at a rate of six percent (6%) per annum reckoned from finality of decision until the amount is fully paid.
The case stemmed from the purchase of some 350 bags of cement worth P339,233.33 in June 2004 when Baquerfo was still the mayor. Prosecutors presented evidence that the bags of cement were delivered to the house of the accused. This was corroborated by the testimonies of the two drivers who delivered the items to the mayor’s warehouse that despite several demands, Baquerfo refused to return the materials to the municipality.
Baquerfo claimed that the cement was used for a clean and green project.
The evidence adduced by the prosecution, however, showed that the purpose for the procurement of the bags of cement no longer existed since the clean and green project of the municipality was implemented in 2003. This theory was sustained by the court when it junked Baquerfo’s defense citing that, “that the accused initially provided the cements for the clean and project in 2003 is beside the point. What is apparent is that the accused allowed the procurement of the bags of cement by signing the purchase request, abstract of proposal, purchase order, disbursement voucher and the check, knowing fully-well that there was no resolution from the Sangguniang Bayan for the appropriation of funds for the clean and green project.”
Malversation of Public Property is committed when any public officer who, by reason of the duties of office is accountable for funds or property, shall appropriate the same, or shall take or misappropriate, or shall consent, or through abandonment or negligence, shall permit any other person to take such public funds or property, wholly or partially. ###