Ex-Cavite mayor cleared of graft

MANILA -- The Sandiganbayan has exonerated a former municipal mayor of a town in Cavite province, in connection with the issuance of an executive order for a business permit to operate a bazaar in 2012.

In a 17-page decision dated March 8, 2019, the Sandiganbayan Seventh Division acquitted former General Mariano Alvarez Mayor Leonisa Virata of the crime of violation of Section 3(e) of Republic Act 3019, or the Anti-Graft and Corrupt Practices Act.

“The prosecution's claim that the accused used the subject executive order to disguise the intent to put up a bazaar based on its fanciful reading of its text and the sketch plan fails in light of the fact that it was not the accused but the Municipal Traffic Management Office (MTMO) which drafted the sketch plan and that the same was based on the re-routing proposals suggested by the stakeholders and considered by the MTMO,” the Sandiganbayan said.

“Without a doubt, the prosecution failed to demonstrate that there was bias, fraud, or neglect on the part of the accused when she issued the assailed executive order,” it added.

“Accused is entitled to acquittal for failure of the prosecution to prove her guilt beyond reasonable doubt,” the Sandiganbayan said.

The Sandiganbayan also lifted the hold departure order (HDO) issued against her in March 21, 2017 and the PHP30,000 bail she posted for her temporary liberty was released.

The Office of the Ombudsman charged the former mayor for allegedly violating Section 3(e) of RA 3019 when she issued Executive Order 23 on Oct. 29, 2012 and for granting one Rasul Ambol a temporary business permit to operate a bazaar on Nov. 14, 2012, in the guise of a re-routing scheme that supposedly gave unwarranted benefit, advantage, or preference to Ambol.

The case was filed before the Sandiganbayan on March 15, 2017.

She posted bail for her temporary liberty on April 24, 2017. She pleaded “not guilty” when arraigned on May 25, 2017. (PNA)

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