No bad faith: Ex-Negros Oriental mayor acquitted in Sandiganbayan case

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The Sandiganbayan has acquitted a former Negros Oriental town mayor, along with other officials, of charges arising from the grant of transportation allowances.

In a 20-page decision dated October 18, the Sandiganbayan’s Second Division through Associate Justice Lorifel Lacap Pahimna acquitted former Dauin, Negros Oriental officials led by Mayor Rodrigo Alanano, budget officer Pearl Enriquez, accountant Maria Ana Delfino, treasurer Isabelita Mongcopa, and disbursing officer Josielos Alcantara.

Associate Justices Oscar Herrera, Jr. and Michael Frederick Musngi concurred with the ruling which arose from charges lodged in 2013 by the office of then Ombudsman Conchita Carpio-Morales alleging that from April to December 2005, the mayor availed of P31,837 in transportation allowance despite not being entitled to it since he had already been assigned a Mitsubishi Pajero as a government vehicle.

Alanano clarified that he did not collect his transportation allowance and claimed that the vice mayor, heads of offices and Sangguniang bayan members are all entitled to transportation allowance yet they were all using the said government vehicle.

“(T)here is no showing that Mayor Alanano acted with manifest partiality, evident bad faith, or inexcusable negligence in collecting the transportation allowance from April to December 2005 despite the assignment to him of the government vehicle,” the tribunal ruled.

“It cannot be said that the grant is unauthorized when a government vehicle, specifically the Mitsubishi Pajero, was assigned to and received by him…was not solely used by accused Alanano. The vehicle was used for the daily deposit of collections to transport patients and transport midwives during the weekly immunization in various barangays.” (PNA)