Sandiganbayan acquits former Tuguegarao vice mayor of graft

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by Allan Yves Briones

The Sandiganbayan Seventh Division ruled that the Office of the Ombudsman failed in proving that former Tuguegarao City Vice Mayor Danilo Baccay violated the law in relation to P400,000 in public funds.

“The prosecution failed to prove Baccay’s guilt beyond reasonable doubt. This court has no other recourse but to free accused Baccay of the crime charged,” the court said.

Baccay was charged with violating Article 218 of the Revised Penal Code for allegedly failing to account for P400,000 in cash advances he received from a former legislative officer, Christopher Samonte, back in 2009.

However, the court found the evidence to be not as solid as required under law.

“This court finds it best not to rely entirely on Samonte’s testimony in resolving the case. Bare allegations of a witness, who himself was accused of the same crime arising from the same factual milieu cannot by itself meet the requisite quantum of evidence to support a judgment of conviction,” the decision read.

Under Article 218, a public officer who is required to remit accounts or funds and fails to do so two months beyond the mandated period is to be charge with the crime of Failure of Accountable Officer to Render Accounts.

Baccay, if he were to have been found guilty, would have had to pay a fine of up to P6,000, as well as imprisonment for a minimum of six months.

The decision was written by Associate Justice Georgina Hidalgo, concurred by Division Chairperson Ma. Theresa Dolores Gomez-Estoesta and Associate Justice Zaldy Trespeses.

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