THE Court of Appeal (CA)’s Cebu station has upheld its earlier decision exonerating former Daanbantayan mayor Augusto Corro from administrative charges relating to the distribution of assistance to Typhoon Yolanda victims in 2014.
In a six-page decision issued on April 12, 2021, the CA-Cebu Station’s Special Former Eighteenth Division denied the motion for reconsideration (MR) filed by former Daanbantayan councilor Renato Benatiro asking the appellate court to reverse its Oct. 30, 2019 decision.
CA Cebu Associate Justice Marilyn Lagura-Yap said Benatiro’s MR was denied for lack of merit. She said Benatiro also failed to provide new evidence to support his motion.
The case stemmed from Corro’s alleged flip-flopping on who were the eligible recipients of the Emergency Shelter Assistance (ESA), a financial assistance fund from the Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD) for survivors of Typhoon Yolanda.
ESA provided P30,000 for residents whose houses were destroyed by the typhoon and P10,000 for those whose houses were damaged.
The DSWD asked the assistance of local government units in typhoon-affected areas by requiring them to create a list of family beneficiaries within their jurisdiction.
The Daanbantayan Municipal Government submitted the names of some 16,613 beneficiaries to the DSWD in October 2014; however, in January 2015, the DSWD released Memorandum Circular 24 that disqualified beneficiaries living in unsafe or no-build zones.
Benatiro, a resident of Barangay Tapilon, was among those disqualified from the financial assistance.
But in a March 25, 2015 letter, the Mines and Geosciences Bureau said Barangay Tapilon was “generally not within a danger or unsafe zone for rain-induced landslide and flooding.”
Former Ombudsman Conchita Carpio-Morales, in 2017, found Corro and Heide Aplece, Daanbantayan’s social welfare officer, liable for simple negligence and suspended Corro and Aplece for two months without pay.
On Oct. 30, 2019, the CA’s 18th Division granted Corro’s petition, absolving him of the administrative cases filed against him.
Executive Justice Edgardo delos Santos wrote that Corro merely exercised his sound discretion as chief executive and gave proper attention to a task expected of him based on the spirit of the DSWD guidelines.
In its April 12, 2021 resolution, the CA ruled Corro’s reliance on the Office of the Presidential Assistant for Rehabilitation and Recovery’s 40-meter No Build Zone Policy “was not completely implausible” because it was implemented based on the hazards of possible storm surges. (WBS)