Ex-Bohol town vice mayor convicted of graft

MANILA -- The Sandiganbayan has found former Carmen, Bohol Vice Mayor Josil Trabajo guilty beyond reasonable doubt of violating Section 3(h) of Republic Act No. 3019, or the "Anti-Graft and Corrupt Practices Act".

The anti-graft court sentenced Trabajo to suffer the penalty of six to 10 years imprisonment, with perpetual disqualification from holding public office.

The Sandiganbayan appreciated the evidence of the Office of the Ombudsman, showing that Trabajo, in his official capacity as presiding officer of the Sangguniang Bayan (SB), had financial or pecuniary interest in the implementation of the municipality's farm-to-market road projects back in 2003.

Evidence showed that in October 2000, Trabajo instructed the SB to pass two resolutions to fast-track the implementation of barangay road projects covering the areas of Vallehermoso-Montehermoso and Luan La-Salvacion.

Trabajo admitted that in 2003, he supplied limestone called anapog and was paid PHP75,150 for 501 loads for the municipality's projects.

In its decision, the Sandiganbayan gave no credence to Trabajo's defense that he did not benefit from the transaction because he was paid only a year after, and ruled that failure to show that [accused] profited from the transaction would not necessarily result in acquittal.

Neither can he exonerate himself from culpability by arguing that it was Engr. Gudia [municipal engineer] who suggested that Trabajo supply the anapog instead, because as Vice Mayor, he was a local government official who should have known the rules and prohibitions with regard to conflict of interest, the anti-graft court added.

On the other hand, the Sandiganbayan acquitted Trabajo's co-accused, former mayor Pedro Budiongan Jr., for lack of sufficient evidence to prove a conspiracy between them.

Under Section 3(h) of RA 3019, government officials and employees are prohibited from directly or indirectly having financial or pecuniary interest in any business, contract, or transaction in connection with which he intervenes or takes part in his official capacity, or in which he is prohibited by the Constitution or by any law from having any interest.

Source: Philippine News Agency