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Ex-mayor gets 10 years for graft

The anti-graft court Sandiganbayan has sentenced to up to 10 years in prison a former Surigao del Norte mayor for his failure to account for P26,000 14 years ago.

The court's Special First Division also slapped former Cagdianao Mayor Bernardino Alcaria Jr. with perpetual special disqualification from public service and ordered him to pay the town the amount he failed to liquidate.

Alcaria is running for provincial board member under the administration party.

The Office of the Ombudsman earlier accused Alcaria of failing to account for cash advances and overpayments which cumulatively amounted to P58, 677 that he got as town mayor from 1989 to 1998.

The allegation was based on a Commission on Audit report.

But in his defense, Alcaria said he received a notice to return the amount only after his term as mayor had ended.

His last term as mayor lapsed on June 30, 1998. He said he learned about the unliquidated amount in July 1998.

The court said the prosecution failed to prove Alcaria's guilt in connection with the alleged disallowances incurred in 1997 and 1998.

The court said: "Since the prosecution was not able to prove that accused knew of the disallowances while he was still mayor, he could not have been expected to settle these disallowances at that point in time."

However, the court found that Alcaria knew about his unpaid disallowances reported in 1996 which amounted to P26, 913.

The court noted there was evidence that Alcaria knew about COA's 1996 annual audit report that listed the town's disallowances.

The decision, penned by Associate Justice Alexander Gesmundo, said: "He was still in office when the disallowances were brought to his attention and he had all the opportunity to settle such amount or, at the very least, to question the findings of the COA.”

"That he did not do so amounts to gross inexcusable negligence," the decision added. (inquirer.net)

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