Friday, March 15, 2013

Bacarra, Ilocos Norte Vice Mayor Pacifico Velasco on the technical malversation case

The Supreme Court has ordered the Sandiganbayan to proceed with the indictment of Bacarra, Ilocos Norte Vice Mayor Pacifico Velasco on the technical malversation case filed against him.

In a ruling, the SC's Second Division dismissed for lack of merit the petition for certiorari filed by Velasco alleging grave abuse or discretion on the part of the Sandiganbayan for issuing the June 9, 2005 resolution denying his motion for reinvestigation and the subsequent Aug. 15, 2005 resolution denying his motion for reconsideration in a graft case filed against him.

Then Bacarra Mayor Philip Corpus Velasco filed an affidavit-complaint against the vice mayor for using public funds in the amount of P670,000 in the purchase of a road grader that was subsequently appropriated by the latter as his personal property.

In his counter-affidavit, Vice Mayor Velasco branded the filing of the complaint as politically motivated.

Velasco admitted requesting for a cash advance from the municipality for the purpose of acquiring the road grader, which was subsequently utilized by the municipality to repair and maintain roads.

When the expected funds from the national government were not released, he was faced with the problem of liquidating said cash advance.

Thus, he said he was forced to mortgage the road grader just so he could reimburse the municipality in the sum of P670,000.

He justified the need for replacement of spare parts and/or necessary repairs to be paid out of municipal funds because the municipal government was using the road grader from October 1998 up to the end of his term in June 2001.

The Office of the Deputy Ombudsman for Luzon issued on Dec. 11, 2002 a resolution dismissing the complaint for lack of probable cause.

Then Acting Mayor Nicomedes Dela Cruz filed an MR on Oct. 15, 2003.

The Office of the Deputy Ombudsman for Luzon denied the MR in an order dated Feb. 13, 2004.

However, Deputy Ombudsman for the Military and Other Law Enforcement Offices Orlando Casimiro directed the Office of Legal Affairs to review the case.

The Office of Legal Affairs recommended on July 8, 2004 that Velasco be indicted for technical malversation.

It found while the Sangguniang Bayan authorized the purchase of a road grader, no sum was appropriated for its purchase.

The source of the funding of the P670,000 cash advance came from the municipality's funds for personal services, which were originally appropriated for salaries of municipal employees.

When the case reached the Sandiganbayan and Velasco's pleas were dismissed, he sought redress before the SC alleging he was denied the right to file an MR.

In the ruling written by Associate Justice Antonio T. Carpio and concurred in by Associate Justices Arturo D. Brion and Mariano C. del Castillo, the SC said "it is incorrect for petitioner to insist that he was denied the right to file [an MR] of the Order of the Special Prosecutor."

"Records prove that it was Special Prosecutor Dennis Villa-Ignacio who deputized the Deputy Ombudsman for MOLEO to act on the case with finality," it said.

"Pursuant to this authority, the Deputy Ombudsman for MOLEO approved the Memorandum-Resolution dated 8 July 2004 indicting petitioner. Thus, this Memorandum-Resolution proceeds from the authority of the Special Prosecutor and is virtually his own memorandum. So when petitioner filed an Omnibus Motion for Reconsideration, he was effectively appealing a Memorandum issued by the Office of the Special Prosecutor," it added.

"The filing of another [MR] constitutes a prohibited pleading," the SC ruling said.

"After the preliminary investigation compliant with due process, the Ombudsman, guided by the evidence presented during the preliminary investigation formulates and designates the offense. The Ombudsman did so in this case. The formulation of the offense depends on the evidence presented, not on the conclusionary designation in the complaint," it said.

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