Albay ex-mayor, 3 others convicted over anomalous vehicle repairs

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

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

The case stemmed 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 for the exorbitant amount ofP447,027.53.

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 Decision penned by Associate Justice Napoleon Inoturan stated that “[t]hese 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 court stressed that “[t]he 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.”

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