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SC upholds Occidental Mindoro mayor’ Jose Villarosa’s malversation rap

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The Supreme Court (SC) has sustained the findings of probable cause for the crime of technical malversation against San Jose, Occidental Mindoro mayor Jose T. Villarosa and two other local officials for alleged irregularities in the use of the local government’s share in tobacco excise taxes.

In its decision dated January 23, penned by Associate Justice Diosdado M. Peralta, the High Court’s 3rd Division affirmed the joint resolution of the Office of the Ombudsman dated Mar. 23,2015 against Villarosa, municipal accountant Pablo I. Alvaro and municipal treasurer Carlito T. Cajayon finding probable cause for the technical malversation charge.

“The Ombudsman’s finding of probable cause to indict petitioners with the crime of technical malversation prevails over their bare allegations of grave abuse of discretion. Accordingly, this Court must defer to the exercise of discretion of the Ombudsman, in the absence of actual grave abuse of discretion on the part of the same,” the SC said.

The tribunal, however, found no probable cause to charge the officials with corruption under Section 3 (e) of Republic Act 3019 or the Anti-Graft and Corrupt Practices Act.

The case stemmed from a complaint of Rolando C. Basilio against the three men in connection with the use of the municipality’s “Trust Fund” derived from tobacco excise taxes (Tobacco Fund) under R.A. No. 82403 to finance regular operations of the municipality.

It was also alleged that the expenses of the municipality which the Tobacco Fund was made to account for were not within the purpose for which the said fund was created.

Villarosa was also alleged to have procured 10 “reconditioned” multi-cab vehicles amounting to PP2.115 million but the invitation to bid and the contracts did not indicate that said vehicles were “reconditioned.” (PNA)