ASSOCIATION of Bara-ngay Councils (ABC) officials who were acquitted by the Sandiganbayan recently over a case filed by a former employee will ask for “back wages” equivalent to the 90 days they were preventively suspended.
Atty. Julius Ceasar Entise, ABC legal counsel, said they will send next week a notice to the respective barangay treasurers informing them of the Sandiganbayan decision.
“(The) arrear rate or salary or honorarium due them, which was withheld during the preventive suspension (period), will be given to them per reason of the dismissal of the case,” he said.
“We will just have to establish first that the case against them was dismissed by providing the treasurers a copy of the decision,” he added.
He said that in the case of Guadalupe Barangay Captain Eugenio Faelnar, who is an ex-officio member of the City Council for being the ABC president, the notice will be sent to the City Treasurer’s Office.
Faelnar is receiving an honorarium from the City Government and has not received what is due him as Guadalupe barangay captain.
“First thing next week, the notices will be sent to the barangays concerned,” Entise said.
After around seven years, Faelnar and nine others were acquitted by the Sandiganbayan, after it dismissed the criminal case filed against them in relation to the complaint of Leah Rondez, former ABC engineer.
The case was for a supposed violation of Section 3(e) of Republic Act 3019, or the Anti-Graft and Corrupt Practices Act.
Penned by Associate Justice Gregory Ong, the 36-page decision said not all four elements of the offense were present in case, thus the acquittal of the 10 officials.
Acquitted along with Faelnar were former barangay captains Michael Ocleasa Sr. (Day-as), Fortunato Parawan (Lorega San Miguel), Nemesio Pagador Jr. (Luz), Licerio Jaca (Inayawan), Daido Abcede Sr. (San Antonio) and incumbent Barangay Captains Michael Ralota (T. Padilla) Jerry Guardo (Sambag I), Sisinio Andales (Pahina Central) and Nilo Tariman (Pit-os).
The Sandiganbayan fourth division said that to warrant a conviction for corrupt practices, as alleged by Rondez, the accused should be public officers, and should have committed the alleged act during the performance of their official duty.
They must have also acted with manifest partiality, evident bad faith, or gross inexcusable negligence; and that the act has caused undue injury to the government or to a private party.
Rondez, who was fired when Faelnar and company took over in 2002, filed the complaint for their refusal to reimburse the P4,300 worth of gasoline expenses that she incurred while working for the ABC during the term of Punta Princesa Barangay Captain Jose Navarro in 2001.
The ABC officials, however, refused to reimburse the amount, as recommended by their then legal counsel Raul Bitoon, because the expenses were incurred during the past administration, which had enough time to supposedly do so.
The ABC also discovered an anomaly in the documents because the purchase request was dated January 2001, yet the original duplicate was dated January 2002 and the actual purchase was for January to March 2001.
When the case reached the Sandiganbayan on Feb. 7, 2003, the fourth division ordered a 90-day preventive suspension of Faelnar and the other ABC officials.
In its decision, the anti-graft court said it was not established that the officials acted with evident bad faith or malice or manifest partiality.
“It cannot be concluded with moral certainty that the accused had any corrupt motive, or that they received any material benefit or profit as a result thereof…. (The) denial of reimbursement had legal or factual basis,” it added.
And since conviction requires the presence of all four elements of the offense, the Sandiganbayan no longer discussed whether or not the denial of the claim resulted to any injury.