Nueva Vizcaya mayor gets 22 years over vehicle purchase
Elizabeth Marcelo (The Philippine Star) - December 18, 2018 - 12:00am

MANILA, Philippines — The mayor of Alfonso Castañeda town in Nueva Vizcaya will be spending up to 22 years in prison over the anomalous purchase of a vehicle, which he also failed to immediately return to the municipal government when his term ended in 2013.

Jerry Pasigian was found guilty of violating Section 3 (e) of Republic Act 3019 or the Anti-Graft and Corrupt Practices Act and malversation of public property under Article 217 of the Revised Penal Code, according to an 18-page decision of the Sandiganbayan’s Fifth Division promulgated on Dec. 6 and released yesterday.

Pasigian was sentenced to six to 15 years in prison for graft and up to seven years for malversation.

The court also ordered Pasigian to pay a fine of P453,214.29 and his perpetual disqualification from holding public office.

Filed by the Office of the Ombudsman in February 2017, the cases stemmed from the municipal government’s purchase in April 2009 of a 2003 Nissan Patrol worth P1.3 million.

The vehicle was purchased from a certain Gilbert Arellano without public bidding in violation of RA 9184 or the Government Procurement Reform Act.

Graft probers said Pasigian registered the car under his name instead of the municipal government.

The Sandiganbayan said the prosecution presented sufficient evidence showing Pasigian’s “evident bad faith and manifest partiality” when he gave unwarranted benefit to himself and Arellano.

“Having signed and approved the purchase request, purchase order, disbursement voucher, check... and the inspection and acceptance reports notwithstanding the glaring absence of public bidding is suggestive of accused’s bad faith in pursuing the transaction,” the decision penned by Associate Justice Mary Anne Corpus-Mañalac read.

The court said Pasigian’s specification of the model of the vehicle, plate, engine and chassis number was a clear indication of giving preference to Arellano and deprived the municipality of the opportunity to procure an alternative item at better terms.

The vehicle was returned on June 23, 2014 after repeated demands, but graft probers said Pasigian attempted to sell it to a certain Ben Polig and received a partial payment amounting to P250,000.

“It does not matter if... he was able to turn over to the municipality the custody of the vehicle... the fact of misappropriation has... been committed,” the Sandiganbayan said.

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