THE Sandiganbayan’s Fifth Division has found the late Dumanjug, Cebu Mayor Nelson Garcia and another local official guilty of usurpation of authority.
The decision by the anti-graft court stemmed from a complaint filed by then Vice Mayor, now Mayor Guntrano “Gungun” Gica against Garcia
In his complaint, Gica claimed that Garcia authorized his then information officer Emmylou Cabonilas to illegally act as municipal council secretary and even sign resolutions even when she had no authority to do so.
In a 67-page decision penned on Nov. 6, 2020, Sandiganbayan Associate Justice Maria Theresa Mendoza-Arcega sentenced Garcia and Cabonilas with two months to one day of imprisonment as minimum penalty to one year, to eight months and 21 days as the maximum penalty.
Aside from Garcia and Cabonilas, also facing the complaint were municipal councilors Ricardo Boquecosa, Ricardo Condes, Eliezer Amadora, Meriam Llano and Antonio Garcia who reportedly gave their consent to Cabonilas to act as their secretary.
The Sandigan acquitted the five councilors.
Based on the anti-graft court’s decision, Garcia committed usurpation after he refused to declare the position of Sangguniang Bayan (SB) secretary vacant, which prevented Gica, as vice mayor, to exercise his power to appoint a new SB secretary.
“This Committee is of the opinion, as supported by admitted and established facts, that the acts of the respondent Mayor clearly constitute an undue interference on the functions of the complainant Vice Mayor and consequently an undue interference on the legislative branch of the Municipality of Dumanjug, Cebu, which is the Sangguniang Bayan,” the decision said.
In Cabonilas’ case, the anti-graft court found her guilty of the same crime for conspiring with Garcia to prevent Gica from allowing his appointed SB secretary to perform his function.
Boquecos, Condes, Amadora, Llamo and Garcia were acquitted by the Sandiganbayan after no evidence was shown that they conspired with Garcia and Cabonilas to usurp Gica’s authority.
Only Cabonilas will be carrying out the sentence because Garcia died on September 1, 2020. / JKV