Ex-Surigao City mayor absolved of malversation raps

A former congressman of Surigao del Norte has been absolved of the malversation charge alleging that he pocketed P1.81 million in cash when he was still mayor of Surigao City.

The Sandiganbayan's Second Division acquitted former Surigao del Norte Rep. Constantino Navarro Jr. of the 22 year case that started when he was the city's chief executive in 1986.

In its 30-page decision promulgated August 26, the graft court held that evidence presented by the prosecution was insufficient to overcome presumption of innocence in favor of the defendant.

"The pieces of evidence presented against the accused in this case does not satisfy the test of moral certainty and may not be deemed sufficient to support a conviction. His guilt was not proven beyond reasonable doubt," the court said.

Prosecutors had accused Navarro of converting his cash advances to his personal use after he failed to liquidate his accountabilities when demanded to do so by the Commission on Audit.

Navarro's cash advances consisted of P1.15 million from the city's general fund and another P664,000 from the infrastructure fund.

The court, however, said that by the auditors' own admission, the findings were "of doubtful validity", meaning "existing records and documents... did not jibe in a certain point or there are not ducments to support it."

The Sandiganbayan said books of accounts of the city for June 31, 1986 did not show such outstanding cash advances and that the accoutabilities appeared to have been 'recorded on a piecemeal basis'.

The general fund only showed a balance of P365,000 at the time the cash advance was supposedly drawn which raises a question on the source of the amount.

"Such being the case, from what sources of fund would the ex-City Treasurer have obtained the unliquidated cash advances of ex-City Mayor Navarro? There is therefore sufficent basis to conclude that there is in fact a doubtful validity on the alleged accounts of the accused," the court said. (abs-cbnnews.com)

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