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Sandiganbayan acquits Tuguegarao city councilor

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By Czarina Nicole Ong Ki

The Sandiganbayan Seventh Division has acquitted Tuguegarao City Councilor Danilo Baccay of his criminal charge for failure to render account due to the failure of the prosecution to prove his guilt beyond reasonable doubt.

Sandiganbayan (MANILA BULLETIN)

Sandiganbayan (MANILA BULLETIN)

Baccay, formerly the vice mayor of Tuguegarao City in Cagayan, has been charged with violation of Article 218 of the Revised Penal Code since he was not able to properly account for a cash advance of P400,000 back in April 2009.

Baccay was accused of committing an offense in relation to his office when he received from Christopher Samonte, former Local Legislative Staff Officer IV of the City Council, a check from Landbank worth P400,000.

The said amount represented the cash advance intended for the codification of ordinances of Tuguegarao City.

As vice mayor, Baccay directed the release of the fund for the Sanggunian’s codification project. He approved and signed the obligation request and disbursement voucher.

However, the anti-graft court asked if he was responsible for rendering the required account of the cash advance. The answer to this, according to the Sandiganbayan, was in the negative.

“In this case, while accused Baccay is an accountable officer within an ambit of the law, to the mind of the Court, and considering the attending circumstances found herein, he is not required by law or regulation to render accounts,” the decision read.

The prosecution tried to stress that Baccay was the one, who had the Landbank check encashed, and that he had custody over the funds. Samonte, on the other hand, was merely the designated payee in the check and he did not receive the proceeds.

But since the prosecution failed to properly support its claims, the anti-graft court ruled that Baccay be acquitted. The decision said that the prosecution merely relied on “bare allegation, unsupported by other evidence.”

At the same time, there was no proof that the fund was indeed handed over to Baccay after its encashment. “Again, other than Samonte’s bare allegations, the prosecution offered no other evidence to support such as opposed to the defense’s testimonial and documentary evidence showing that it was Samonte who had possession of and control over the P400,000 in question,” the decision read.

The 31-page decision was written by Associate Justice Georgina Hidalgo with the concurrence of Chairperson Ma. Theresa Dolores Gomez-Estoesta and Associate Justice Zaldy Trespeses.

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