CEBU CITY, Philippines – The anti-graft court has convicted former Daanbantayan, Cebu, mayor Maria Luisa Loot and former councilor Samuel Punay Moralde of malversation over a loan agreement that they entered without the municipal council’s approval.
The conviction comes two years after the Office of the Ombudsman charged Loot and Moralde for malversation of public funds. Both pleaded not guilty to the charges.
In its ruling, dated August 2, the anti-graft court’s 7th division found Loot’s approval of a P500,000 loan from the municipality to the RBA Quail Raisers Association in 2007 illegal. The associatio was chaired by Moralde, who at the time was also the chairperson of the association.
According to charges filed by the Ombudsman, the agreement was without the required approval of the sangguniang bayan. Loot and Moralde also failed to monitor the project and ensure repayment of the loan.
Loot served as mayor of Daanbantayan from 2004 to 2013. Her husband, retired police general Vicente Loot, was tagged by President Rodrigo Duterte as one of the police officials allegedly involved in the drug trade in 2016, shortly after he won his election as mayor in 2016.
In 2018, Vicente Loot survived an attempted ambush in their town.
Loot’s son Sun Shimura won as town mayor in the 2019 elections.
Both Loot and Moralde face a prison term and perpetual disqualification from public office. – Rappler.com
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