The Sandiganbayan has sentenced a former municipal mayor in Quezon province to a six-year jail term after he was found guilty of falsifying disbursement vouchers to purchase hand tractors and motor engines under a national livelihood program in 2004.
The anti-graft court also ordered former Unisan, Quezon mayor Cesar Alpay to pay a total fine of PHP95,000 for the 19 counts of falsification of public documents – under Article 171 of the Revised Penal Code – for his involvement in anomalies in the “Isang Bayan, Isang Produkto, Isang Milyong Programa ni GMA.”
Court records showed that on June 30, 2004, Alpay falsified disbursement vouchers and other supporting documents to make it appear that 19 beneficiaries received funds totaling PHP285,230 representing payment for the acquisition of hand tractors and motor engines.
Prosecutors of the Office of the Ombudsman presented the supposed beneficiaries as witnesses, who all denied receiving any fund.
In its decision, the Sandiganbayan said that “when confronted with the allegation that [Alpay] was the author of the falsified vouchers and with proof that he had intervened in the preparation and circulation thereof, he did not present any evidence to the contrary. He cannot even identify anyone who could have done the falsification. He cannot hide behind the cloak of the right to remain silent. His silence at this point, when confronted with potentially incriminating evidence, may be considered against him.”
“All in all, and considering further the paper trail of the disbursement vouchers and its attached documents, it is clear that it was only the accused, using his position as mayor, who could have caused the falsified entries in the disbursement vouchers. With proof of the accused’s authorship of the falsified entries, for these cases, the prosecution has proven all elements of the felony beyond reasonable doubt,” the court added.
The court also ruled that “the timing of the execution of all the disbursement vouchers is highly suspect. The records show that they were all processed in one single day—the last day in office of the accused. The municipal treasurer even testified that the checks were released in the afternoon and she opined there was not even time to encash these.” (PNA)