Sandiganbayan convicts ex-Bakun mayor for malversation

Sentenced to imprisonment of 10-15 years

The Sandiganbayan has convicted former Bakun mayor Bartolome Sacla, Sr. and municipal treasurer Manuel Bagayao of Malversation for issuing a P5million check in 2002 without any supporting documents. Sacla Sr. and Bagayao were sentenced to imprisonment ranging from 10 years and one day to 18 years, eight months and one day. They were also ordered perpetually disqualified from holding public office and for each to pay a fine of P5 million.

In his defense, Sacla claimed that the check was issued as payment for medical supplies. However, no proof of delivery was presented.

In its Decision, the Sandiganbayan stated that “at the time of the issuance of the check, two prevalent factors made the transaction highly irregular: one, the check was issued without any supporting documents such as the disbursement voucher; and the other, no Accountant’s Advice was issued, which was a COA requirement.”

“Considering the number of years and experience devoted by accused Sacla to public service from the time he served as the barangay captain to the time he was elected as councilor, until he became the mayor, he would have been more than aware of the fiscal requirements in the release of public funds,” the Decision added.

Malversation of public funds is committed by misappropriating public funds or property; by consenting or through abandonment or negligence, by permitting any other person to take such public funds.

But Sacla and Bagayao are facing yet another case before the Sandiganbayan.

Fertilizer fund scam
On November 11, 2015, Ombudsman Morales directed the filing of an Information for violation of Section 3(e) of Republic Act No. 3019 (Anti-Graft and Corrupt Practices Act) against officials of Bakun for the anomalous purchase of P1.9 million worth of Nutro Ocean Liquid Fertilizers from Bry Cin Enterprises (BCE) in 2004. Facing indictment before the Sandiganbayan are former MayorSacla, Sr., Municipal Treasurer Bagayao, Municipal Accountant Virginia Kigisan, and Dolly Villaflor of BCE.

The 19-page Resolution narrated that in 2004, the municipality of Bakun received the amount of P1.95 million from the Department of Agriculture (DA) as part of the Farm Inputs and Farm Implements Program (FIFIP). The FIFIP formed part of the alleged P728 million fertilizer fund scam in 2004.

Records show that the municipality used the funds to buy 1,300 bottles of Nutro Ocean Fertilizers at P1,500.00/bottle from BCE, a company located in Quezon City. The inspection and payment for the supplier was made on May 7, 2004 even if actual delivery was made only on 14 May 2004.

In its audit, the COA found that there was no public bidding conducted as the municipality did not create its Bids and Awards Committee; the fertilizers were grossly overpriced by as much as P1.74 million; based on COA’s market probe, suitable fertilizers were readily available at the market at much lower prices; and that the products delivered were substandard and not registered with the Fertilizer and Pesticides Authority. As a result, the COA issued a Notice of Disallowance in January 2006.

“All these circumstances showed that public respondents, in conspiracy with Dolly Villaflor, acted with manifest partiality and gross inexcusable negligence in the procurement of nutro ocean fertilizers thereby causing undue injury to the municipality of Bakun and giving unwarranted benefit, advantage and preference to Bry Cin Enterprises and/or Dolly Villaflor,” stated the Resolution.

Section 3(e) of R.A. No. 3019 penalizes any public official who, by his official functions, causes undue injury to the government through manifest partiality, evident bad faith and gross inexcusable negligence. It covers private individuals who collude or conspire with public officials./The Junction News Team with release from OMB