Ex-Leyte mayor gets 8 years for graft
Elizabeth Marcelo (The Philippine Star) - October 26, 2020 - 12:00am

MANILA, Philippines — A former municipal mayor in Leyte has been sentenced to up to eight years in prison in connection with the anomalous rental of a property owned by his brother.

Former mayor Melchor Quemado Sr. of Sta. Fe town was found guilty of violation of Republic Act 3019 or the Anti-Graft and Corrupt Practices Act, which prohibits public officials from giving unwarranted benefit, advantage or preference to a private party.

In a ruling issued recently, the Sandiganbayan ordered Quemado disqualified from holding public office.

Filed by the Office of the Ombudsman in 2016, the case stemmed from the P16,000 in rental fees for an office space paid by the municipal government to the Hayward Travelodge in 2005.

The space, owned by Quemado’s brother Anastacio, was supposedly used by consultants hired by the municipal government to conduct a feasibility study on its proposed infrastructure project.

The anti-graft court upheld the ombudsman’s findings that the transaction was irregular as no public bidding was conducted.

It said Quemado issued a certification showing the lodge, located in Tacloban, offered the lowest rent, thereby depriving the municipal government the opportunity to obtain a more advantageous term and rental rate from other prospective lessors.

“It was Quemado who recommended, requested and approved the rental of Hayward Travelodge without conducting the required public bidding,” the Sandiganbayan said.

Anti-graft investigators said the Hayward Travelodge had no business permit to operate at the time the transaction was entered into.

The ombudsman also found out that there was space available at the Sta. Fe municipal hall that could have been used by the consultants for the supposed conduct of the feasibility study.

The court said the check payment for the rental fees was issued by Quemado under his name instead of the Hayward Travelodge.

It said the prosecution presented sufficient evidence proving Quemado's guilt.

The ruling was penned by Associate Justice Karl Miranda and concurred in by Associate Justices Sarah Fernandez and Kevin Narce Vivero.

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