Ex-mayor fined for tobacco tax misuse
Elizabeth Marcelo (The Philippine Star) - December 7, 2018 - 12:00am

MANILA, Philippines — The Sandiganbayan has fined a former municipal mayor in Occidental Mindoro in connection with the misuse of the tobacco excise tax amounting to P2.92 million .

In a 37-page decision promulgated on Nov. 28, the anti-graft court ordered former San Jose town mayor Jose Villarosa to pay a fine of P730,185.

Villarosa was found guilty of 12 counts of technical malversation as provided under Article 220 of the Revised Penal Code.

Villarosa’s co-respondent, former municipal treasurer Carlito Cajayon, was found guilty of two counts of the same offense and was fined P550,625.

The court dismissed the 12 counts of graft that  the Office of the Ombudsman filed against Villarosa and Cajayon due to insufficiency of evidence.

The court also dismissed the graft and technical malversation cases filed against another respondent, former municipal accountant Pablo Alvaro, due to his death early this year.

Filed by the ombudsman in 2015, the cases stemmed from the San Jose municipal government’s use of its shares from the tobacco excise tax in 2010 to 2011.

The respondents reportedly spent the amount on other purposes not provided under  Republic Act 8240, or the law that serves as a guideline in the use of tobacco funds and taxes.

The ombudsman said the municipal government, under Villarosa’s term as mayor used the  amount for the purchase of vehicles, fuel and lubricants, medicine, construction materials, payment for catering services  and other activities and expenses.

The anti-graft court said that while the fund was used for other purposes not provided under RA 8240, the prosecution failed to prove the key element for the graft offense, which is the giving of unwarranted benefit, advantage or preference to a private party or causing undue injury to the government.

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