Monday, January 25, 2021

Philippine: Former Kalinga mayor, wife convicted of graft, direct bribery

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Former Tabuk Mayor Camilo T. Lammawin Jr. of Kalinga and his wife Salud Imatong Lammawin have been convicted by the Sandiganbayan Seventh Division of two graft and two direct bribery charges due to their demand of money in exchange for the release of payment to a construction company.

They were also ordered to pay a fine of P1,200,000 and P360,000, which is thrice the value of the gift of P400,000 and P120,000, respectively, they received from RCDC.

The Lammawin couple was likewise slapped with the penalty of perpetual disqualification from holding public office.

On July 10, 2002, the couple allegedly demanded P400,000 from Rodman Construction and Development Corporation (RCDC) in exchange for the approval and release of its check amounting to P2 million, which represented the balance of the advance payment of the municipality of Tabuk to RCDC.

Then on October 18, 2002, the couple once again demanded P120,000 in exchange for the release of a check payment worth P1,732,260, which was the remaining balance of the advance payment for RCDC.

Section 3(b) of R.A. 3019 penalizes the act of demanding or requesting, as well as receiving money or gifts by a public officer in his or her official capacity to intervene under the law.

The anti-graft court noted that the local chief executive plays the most important role in the approval of contracts entered into by the municipality.

Camilo only released the checks for payment to RCDC after the P400,000 and P120,000 payment was made by RCDC.

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It was also successfully proven by the prosecution that the amounts of P400,000 and P120,000 were deposited into the respective accounts of the Lammawin couple.

Camilo and Salud tried to defend the deposits by saying that they borrowed money from RCDC six times in 2002.

However, Camilo admitted in his testimony that there was no written contract of loan between him and RCDC since there was only a verbal request.

“These borrowings, without any evidence to prove their existence, are therefore mere allegations,” the court ruled.

“It is basic in the rule of evidence that bare allegations, unsubstantiated by evidence, are not equivalent to proof.”

Camilo and Salud failed to show sufficient proof of entitlement to the amounts deposited into their accounts since there was no “evidentiary value” in their defense of a loan.

The 44-page decision was penned by Associate Justice Georgina Hidalgo with the concurrence of Chairperson Ma. Theresa Dolores Gomez-Estoesta and Associate Justice Zaldy Trespeses.

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