The Sandiganbayan has acquitted Sarangani Mayor Aniceto Lopez Jr. of his falsification case owing his alleged intervention in the preparation of the town’s P10.75-million supplemental budget for 2010.
The anti-graft court’s First Division, in a 23-page decision dated Oct. 22, the said Lopez, Maasim, Sarangani mayor, was absolved after the prosecution failed to prove his guilt.
“It appears clear that the liability of the accused for the crime charged has not been established with the required quantum of proof. Consequently, their acquittal becomes a matter of course,” the Sandiganbayan said.
Lopez’s co-accused, then-municipal treasurer Moises Magallona Jr. and municipal budget officer Reina Perpetua Jamora were also cleared from the case.
The three respondents were accused of conspiring together in the issuance of certification that P10.75 million worth of internal revenue allotment adjustment would be utilized as one of the sources of funds intended for the opening of 84 new plantilla positions.
The prosecution claimed that Lopez and his co-accused tried to make it appear the IRA adjustment is available even if the funds did exist.
Lopez, in his defense, said there is no proof he benefited from the alleged falsification. He cited an ordinance passed by the municipal council and the approval of the Civil Service Commission on the hiring of new employees.
In absolving Lopez and his co-accused, the Sandiganbayan said: “It is abundantly clear that the Municipality of Maasim can defray the salaries, wages and benefits of the concerned employees from funds other than the IRA adjustment for the present year.”
“Thus, the element of deliberate or willful intent to pervert the truth, or that the facts narrated are absolutely false, was not met in this case,” it added.”‹