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Sunday, June 16, 2024

Court: Former Samar mayor guilty of graft

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A former mayor in Samar faces up to eight years imprisonment after the Sandiganbayan found him guilty of graft.

In a 30-page decision, the anti-graft court sentenced former San Sebastian Mayor Arnold Abalos to a minimum of six years and one month and a maximum of eight years of imprisonment.

The Sandiganbayan also perpetually disqualified Abalos from any government position.

Records of the case show that in March 2012, the complainant and then Municipal Planning and Development Coordinator (MPDC) Roberto Rebosura, together with other town officials filed a complaint against Abalos for the non-remittance of their GSIS contributions.

Abalos then issued a memorandum designating Municipal Social Welfare and Development Officer Alma Llanitas as MPDC to replace Rebosura.

Rebosura argued that he was discriminated against by Abalos as he was the only one removed from his position among all officials who complained.

In addition, he said that the former mayor neglected to act on his motion for reconsideration for Abalos to set aside his memorandum designating Llanitas as his replacement.

Abalos justified Rebosura’s replacement saying he conducted a staff meeting to discuss the motion for reconsideration but was unable to discuss the issue further “due to his absence.”

“Lamentably, it was not enough, as the said meeting never resulted in the resolution of the said motion — it was neither granted nor denied, or otherwise properly disposed of,” the anti-graft court said.

“The presence of the element of neglect or refusal to act without sufficient justification, therefore, cannot be denied,” it added.

The anti-graft court also stated a reasonable time has elapsed without Abalos acting on the matter is “beyond question.”

“The issue of Rebosura’s replacement or the uncertainty in its resolution persisted for over a year, until the eventual termination of his employment,” the court added.

“All of the foregoing demonstrates an intention to discriminate or prejudice against the private complainant,” it added.

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