Ex-Cavite mayor cleared of malversation, ordered to pay P2 million
Elizabeth Marcelo (The Philippine Star) - September 20, 2020 - 12:00am

MANILA, Philippines — Former mayor Albert Ambagan Jr. of Amadeo, Cavite and two other municipal government officials have been acquitted of malversation in connection with missing public funds.

In a 33-page decision promulgated on Aug. 28 and released on Friday, the Sandiganbayan’s Fifth Division said the Office of the Ombudsman failed to prove that Ambagan, municipal treasurer Jaime Rojales and assistant treasurer Alma Ambat were guilty beyond reasonable doubt of misappropriating public funds for their personal use or benefit.

However, the court said the accused should reimburse P2.029 million to the municipal government.

The amount is equivalent to the local government’s collections from January to October 2008, which was found missing in the vault of the municipal treasurer’s office during an inspection by the Commission on Audit (COA).

Rojales and Ambat admitted that P1.4 million of the missing amount was issued to the office of the mayor through Ambagan’s secretary Belen Bebe and given to several officials and employees in the form of cash advances through the issuance of Reimbursement Expense Receipts (RERs).

The court noted that all the RERs presented by the prosecution panel were photocopies and were not signed by Ambagan.

The accused have civil liability for the unlawful release of the funds, the sixth division said.

”Ambagan admitted in his judicial affidavit that he knew Bebe took the money but he denied giving her any instructions to take it. Despite this knowledge, he said he did not take any action against Bebe nor did he report this to the COA,” the court ruling read.

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