Sandiganbayan sentences Nueva Vizcaya town mayor up to 22 years in prison
CAGAYAN, Philippines- The anti-graft court has found a Nueva Vizcaya town mayor guilty of graft and malversation because of the anomalous purchase of a government vehicle in 2009.
In its decision, the Sandiganbayan Fifth Division sentenced Alfonso Castañeda town Mayor Jerry Pasigian to 6 to 15 years of imprisonment for his graft charges, and 4 to 7 years for his malversation charges.
Aside from the prison terms, the court also ordered Pasigian to pay of P453,214.19, representing the depreciated value of the vehicle. He was also perpetually disqualified for public office.
The decision, promulgated on December 6, was penned by Associate Justice Maryann Corpus-Mañalac, with the concurrence of Division Chairperson Rafael Lagos and Associate Justice Maria Theresa Mendoza-Arcega.
Without public bidding
The case stemmed from the purchase in April 2009 of P1.269-million for a 2003 model Nissan Patrol without public bidding.
The Court said it was "highly irregular" for Pasigian to sign the necessary documents, including the specifications of the SUV, to facilitate the direct contracting purchase from a certain Gilbert Arellano.
"Evident is accused's partiality towards Gilbert Arellano, the owner of the vehicle purchased, since it was only him who could possibly supply the vehicle intended to be purchased to the exclusion of other prospective bidders who may have offered an equivalent item at terms more advantageous to the municipality," the court said.
Pasigian counter-argued that direct contracting could be an alternative mode under the procurement law, but Sandiganbayan said records showed the purchase is "bereft of any showing that the purchase" falls under the conditions allowed by the law.
Personal use, registration
Sandiganbayan also said Pasigian showed "bad faith" when he registered the government vehicle under his name and later attempted to sell it to a certain Be Polig.
Documents showed Polig made a downpayment of P250,000 and it was Pasigian's name that appeared in the Deed of Sale.
The court added that the mayor failed to return the vehicle after his term expired in June 2013.
It was only when he was ordered to return the vehicle that he got it back from Polig in exchange of an L200 pick-up.
"He cannot, therefore claim to have clean hands in his dealings with the subject vehicle when glaringly, it was otherwise," Sandiganbayan said. – Rappler.com