SC upholds conviction of former CH engineer-A A +A
Saturday, September 7, 2013
THE Supreme Court (SC) has upheld the ruling of the Sandiganbayan convicting a former Cebu City Hall official of “gross inexcusable negligence” for his failure to verify the ownership of a property where a canal was built in 1998.
The SC First Division affirmed the anti-graft court’s decision finding then city engineer Antonio Sanchez guilty of violating Section 3 (e) of Republic Act 3019, or the Anti-Graft and Corrupt Practices Act.
“Moreover, the undue injury to private complainant was established,” read the SC decision penned by Chief Justice Maria Lourdes Sereno.
Repeated calls and text messages made to Sanchez’s mobile phone were unanswered as of press time last night.
The case stemmed from the administrative complaint filed by Lucia Nadela before the Visayas Ombudsman accusing Sanchez of violating the anti-graft law.
Former mayor Alvin Garcia and former Cogon, Pardo barangay captain and now City Councilor Eugenio Gabuya Jr. were also impleaded in the complaint.
But the anti-graft office dismissed the charges against them for lack of evidence.
In 1998, Gabuya requested the City Engineer’s Office to improve an existing canal in the barangay.
The Maintenance and Drainage Section of the engineer’s office surveyed the canal and recommended its improvement.
City Engineer’s Office staff Thessani Rubi prepared the program of works and estimate of construction and plans, which was submitted and approved by the City Council.
During the preparation, Sanchez did not order any of his subordinates to verify the
ownership of the land the canal traverses, thinking the land was a public lot.
The council later passed a resolution authorizing Garcia to enter into a contract with Alvarez Construction to build a canal and install a box culvert in Highway Tagunol.
The project, which cost P496,054, was completed on May 9, 1998.
Nadela said the City build the canal on her property without her consent.
The anti-graft office filed an information for violation of the anti-graft law against Sanchez before the Sandiganbayan.
The anti-graft court later found Sanchez guilty and sentenced him from six years and one month to eight years in jail.
It also barred Sanchez from working again in government.
The Sandiganbayan said Sanchez’s negligence deprived Nadela of the control and use of the portion of her land.
The negligence also resulted in the loss of income from harvesting and selling nipa leaves.
Nadela also said squatters use the the canal as their toilet, dirtying and damaging her land.
Sanchez filed a certiorari petition before the SC, arguing that it was the duty of the Maintenance and Drainage Section of the Inspection Office, not his, to determine whether the land was private.
He said he had no hand in the approval of plans for the land or in the implementation of the project.
In an interview with Sanchez in 2008, he told Sun.Star Cebu that no government money was lost because of what happened.
‘Doing his job’
“How can that be graft? This is very, very unfair. I was just doing my job,” he had said.
In the decision, the SC denied Sanchez’s petition.
“We have carefully reviewed the records of this case and found nothing therein to warrant a reversal of the assailed decision of the Sandiganbayan,” the SC decision
The damage to Nadela did not end with the canal’s construction, it pointed out.
“Informal settlers dirtied her private property by using the canal constructed thereon as their lavatory, washroom and waste disposal site,” read the SC decision.
Published in the Sun.Star Cebu newspaper on September 07, 2013.