Ex-Albay town mayor, 3 others convicted over anomalous 5 vehicle repairs
By Perfecto T. Raymundo Jr.

MANILA, Nov. 2 (PNA) -- The Sandiganbayan has convicted former Camalig, Albay Mayor Paz Muñoz and three other town officials of graft over anomalous maintenance contracts for the municipality's five service vehicles in 2003.

Convicted along with Muñoz for violation of Section 3(e) of Republic Act No. 3019 or the Anti-Graft and Corrupt Practices Act were Municipal Accountant Rene Ortonio, Municipal Treasurer Armando Quintano and Municipal Engineer Rogelio Naz Jr.

They were each sentenced to imprisonment ranging from six years and one month to eight years, and perpetually disqualified from holding any public office.

The case arose from the 2003 Annual Audit Report of the Commission on Audit (COA) that all repairs, including carwash for the vehicles, were made by Legazpi Tireworld Corporation (Legazpi Tireworld) for the exorbitant amount of PhP447,027.53.

The COA also noted irregularities such as the lack of pre- and post-inspection reports and proper canvass for the repairs; undated requests for bids; and the submission of bids.

Upon inspection, two of the vehicles were found not in running condition, thus, non-serviceable.

As defense, Muñoz claimed that it was an "honest mistake that she inadvertently missed because of her voluminous work."

The 23-page ruling written by Associate Justice Napoleon Inoturan said that "these irregularities are too numerous and blatant to be attributable to honest mistake. More importantly, they relate to the conduct of canvass which is mandatory under the law."

The Sandiganbayan said that "the prosecution has sufficiently proven beyond reasonable doubt that the signatures of the accused appearing in the documents submitted and their respective participation, acting with manifest partiality and evident bad faith, resulted in the award of repair and maintenance of the vehicles and the subsequent release of the checks for the services rendered by and supplies from Legazpi Tireworld." (PNA)

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