Tudela, Cebu ex-mayor imprisoned over bags of cement

Tudela Municipal Mayor Rogelio Baquerfo Sr. -photo taken from Cebu Daily News as photographed by JUNJIE MENDOZA

MANILA, Philippines — The Sandiganbayan sentenced former Mayor of Tudela  Cebu after he was found guilty of malversation public funds.

Former Mayor Rogelio Baquerfo  Sr. was sentenced to 12 years to 18 years imprisonment with perpetual special disqualification from holding any public office, and was ordered to pay a fine of P57,750.00 plus interest at a rate of six percent (6%) per annum reckoned from finality of decision until the amount is fully paid.

The case  against Baquerfo  stemmed from the purchase of some 350 bags of cement worth P339,233.33 in June 2004 when he  was still the mayor.

When Ombudsman investigators during the hearing asked if the cement was delivered to his residence, Baquerfo  answered in the affirmative.

Prosecutors presented evidence that the bags of cement were delivered to the his house  and not to a government project.

In the project design, the bags of cement was for the Clean and Green project but the bags of cement ended up at  his house.

Testimonies the drivers of the delivery trucks confirmed the reports.

“Despite several demands, Baquerfo refused to return the materials to the municipality,”  the Sandiganbayan noted.

The money used to purchase the bags of cement was taken from the coffers of the government which means- it is a government property and using it for private purposes is equivalent to malversation  of public funds.

In his defense, Baquerfo claimed that the cement was used for a clean and green project.

The evidence obtained the prosecution, however, showed that the purpose for the procurement of the bags of cement no longer existed since the clean and green project of the municipality was implemented in 2003.

What is clear is the fact, that  Baquerfo allowed the procurement of the bags of cement by signing the purchase request, abstract of proposal, purchase order, disbursement voucher and the check, knowing fully-well that there was no resolution from the Sangdiganbayan for the appropriation of funds for the clean and green project.”

The Philippine law  defines,  Malversation of Public Property is committed when any public officer who, by reason of the duties of office is accountable for funds or property, shall appropriate the same, or shall take or misappropriate, or shall consent, or through abandonment or negligence, shall permit any other person to take such public funds or property, wholly or partially.-EZC/Newsline.ph