In a six-page resolution promulgated on Oct. 15 and obtained by reporters on Wednesday, the Sandiganbayan’s Fifth Division said Tuanda should pay a fine of only P10,000.
The STAR/File
Sandigan scraps prison term for convicted Negros Mayor
Elizabeth Marcelo (The Philippine Star) - November 22, 2019 - 12:00am

NEGROS OCCIDENTAL, Philippines — Mayor Reynaldo Tuanda of Jimalalud, Negros Oriental, who was convicted of graft in August, will no longer spend time in prison.

In a six-page resolution promulgated on Oct. 15 and obtained by reporters on Wednesday, the Sandiganbayan’s Fifth Division said Tuanda should pay a fine of only P10,000.

The anti-graft court had earlier sentenced Tuanda to up to six years in prison. The mayor was also perpetually disqualified from holding public office.

While the court maintained that Tuanda was guilty of graft, it said a lighter penalty under Republic Act 7160 or the Local Government Code is more applicable.

Filed by the Office of the Ombudsman in 2017, the case stemmed from Tuanda’s grant to himself of a permit to operate as a cockpit promoter from January to December 2010.

The ombudsman said Tuanda’s action was a clear violation of Section 3 (h) of RA 3019  or the Anti-Graft and Corrupt Practices Act,  which prohibits a public official “from directly or indirectly having financial or pecuniary interest in any business, contract or transaction with the government in which he has the official capacity to intervene or... prohibited by the Constitution or any law from having any interest.”

The court found merit in Tuanda’s argument that Section 89 (2) of RA 7160 covers his act instead of Section 3 (h) of RA 3019.

RA 7160 prohibits a local government official ”from having interests in any cockpit or other games licensed by a local government unit.”

“It is a rule of statutory construction that where one statute deals with a subject in general terms and another deals with a part of the same subject in a more detailed way, the two should be harmonized if possible. If there is any conflict, the latter shall prevail regardless of whether it was passed prior to the general statute,” the fifth division said, quoting a Supreme Court ruling.

“(Tuanda) is guilty beyond reasonable doubt of violating Section 3 (h) of RA 3019 for possession of a pecuniary interest in a cockpit, which is prohibited under Section 89 (2) of RA 7160... and is therefore ordered to pay a fine of P10,000,” the court said.

REYNALDO TUANDA
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