Quezon vice mayor cleared in water tapping raps
Elizabeth Marcelo (The Philippine Star) - September 15, 2020 - 12:00am

MANILA, Philippines — A municipal vice mayor in Quezon province has been acquitted in a criminal case involving the alleged illegal water connection in his property.

Lucban Vice Mayor Moises Villaseñor was charged with violations of Republic Act 3019 or the Anti-Graft and Corrupt Practices Act and RA 8041 or the National Water Crisis Act.

Following the acquittal, the court ordered the return of he P38,000 bail that Villaseñor posted for his provisional liberty.

The court also lifted the hold order it earlier issued against the vice mayor.

In a 29-page decision promulgated on Friday, the Sandiganbayan said the Office of the Ombudsman failed to prove Villaseñor’s guilt beyond reasonable doubt.

The charges stemmed from a water connection found in Villaseñor’s property in Barangay Samil in January 2008, or during his term as town mayor.

The ombudsman alleged the pipelines were installed during the implementation of the municipal government’s Rural Water and Sanitation Project in the villages of Samil, Ayuti, Kalyaat and Abang.

State prosecutors said the water connection in Villasenior’s property was not authorized by utility provider Apolinario dela Cruz Waterworks System.

The ombudsman said Villaseñor violated RA 8041 for allowing the installation despite knowing that the water connection was illegal.

It said Villaseñor enjoyed unlimited and free water supply for five years, amounting to P1.7 million, including penalties.

State prosecutors said Villaseñor accorded himself unwarranted benefits, causing undue injuries and disadvantages to the municipal government.

The anti-graft court’s Third Division however, said the prosecution did not present evidence or witnesses who could have proven that it was Villaseñor himself who ordered the pipelines installed.

It said the accused bought the property from a certain Wilfredo Hernandez in 2009.

The Sandiganbayan noted the admission made by prosecution witnesses that the pipelines were installed in 2000, when Hernandez was still the owner of the property.

The decision was penned by Associate Justice Ronald Moreno and concurred in by Presiding Justice Amparo Cabotaje-Tang and Associate Justice Bernelito Fernandez.

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