Two Manila village execs get six years imprisonment for illegal gas reimbursements

MANILA — The Office of the Ombudsman (Ombudsman) has secured the conviction of two barangay officials in the City of Manila in connection with their involvement in illegal gas reimbursements.

Former Barangay 748, Zone 81, District V of Manila chair Lara Mae Reyes and treasurer Stephanie Belle Maño were convicted for illegally claiming reimbursements for gasoline expenses in 2004 worth Php 10,000.

Probe found that the vehicle was already unserviceable and considered as junk.

In a ruling rendered by Manila Regional Trial Court (RTC) Branch 25 Presiding Judge Marlina Manuel, Reyes and Maño were found guilty beyond reasonable doubt of violation of Section 3(e) of Republic Act No. 3019, or the “Anti-Graft and Corrupt Practices Act”.

The Manila RTC meted out the penalty of six years to 10 years’ imprisonment with perpetual disqualification from holding public office against the two accused.

They were also convicted of four counts of malversation of public funds through falsification and were sentenced to suffer the penalty of six to 13 years’ imprisonment with perpetual special disqualification.

Likewise, they were ordered to pay a fine of Php 2,500 for each count of the offense.

Ombudsman prosecutors have proven during trial that the accused displayed evident bad faith by fraudulently claiming reimbursements of Php 2,500 per quarter purportedly used for a jeep-type patrol vehicle.

In its ruling, the RTC said that “the receipts submitted by the accused in support of their claim for reimbursement, indeed, do not show the vehicle in which the gasoline was loaded.”

“Accused admitted that they were the ones who prepared and signed the Disbursement Vouchers and the documents in support of their claim for reimbursement and that they received the amount. In the absence of proof that they had actually used the barangay funds as indicated in the Disbursement Voucher, they are culpable for misappropriation or malversation of such funds,” it added.

Malversation is committed by a public official who has custody or control of public funds by reason of the duties of his office and misappropriates, takes, or through abandonment or negligence, permitted another person to take the funds.

Section 3(e) of RA No. 3019 provides that public officials are criminally liable for causing any undue injury to any party, or giving any private party any unwarranted benefits, advantage or preference in the discharge of his official administrative or judicial functions through manifest partiality, evident bad faith or gross inexcusable negligence. PTR/