Sandiganbayan upholds ex-Albay mayor's 135-year sentence

MANILA, Philippines – The Sandiganbayan junked the motion for reconsideration filed by former Guinobatan, Albay mayor Juan Rivera, who had been sentenced to 135 years of imprisonment and ordered to pay up to P302,356 in fines.

In a resolution dated last Wednesday, April 19, and released on Friday, April 21, the anti-graft court said there was no "substantial and valid argument" presented by Rivera for them to reconsider his case.

The former mayor argued in his motion filed August 2016 that there is insufficient evidence against him.

Rivera was found guilty of malversation of public funds after he failed to liquidate cash advances totaling P357,956.08 which were released to him from June 1998 to April 2001.

Audit records showed that Rivera also failed to return the money despite receiving demand letters.

In his motion, Rivera argued that the court's ruling had no factual basis because the cash advances had been fully liquidated. He also said prosecutors were unable to prove that he used the money for personal gain.

The Sandiganbayan, however, stood by its earlier decision. "After a careful study, the Court finds no cogent reason to consider or modify the decision promulgated on July 20, 2016. The grounds invoked are essentially the reiterations of those previously raised by the accused and already considered by the Court." –