Ex-Bohol mayor’s conviction affirmed

Elizabeth Marcelo (The Philippine Star) - November 22, 2020 - 12:00am

MANILA, Philippines — The Sandiganbayan has upheld the conviction of former mayor Vito Rapal of Corella, Bohol over his unliquidated cash advances amounting to P1.088 million and for pocketing P92,239.70 intended for tarsier preservation.

The anti-graft court’s fourth division in a resolution promulgated on Oct. 29, denied Rapal’s motion for reconsideration of its Oct. 4 decision, which found him guilty of two counts of graft, estafa and failure to render accounts.

Rapal was sentenced to up to 22 years in prison.  He was also ordered perpetually disqualified from holding public office and to pay the Corella municipal government P1.18 million, which is equivalent to the amount involved in the cases.

The court reiterated its findings that the approval of Rapal’s subsequent requests for cash advance can be attributed to his act of using his position to intimidate the person in charge of approving them.

Municipal accountant Inosentes Lamay had testified that Rapal “will get angry to the employees if he will not have the cash advance.”

The court also found no merit in Rapal’s denial that he received funds remitted by the Philippine Tarsier Foundation Inc. (PTFI).

The court cited the testimonies of former mayor’s office secretary Celerina Varquez and municipal tourism officer Maria Asuncion Pandan that Rapal ordered them to hand to him the income share received from PTFI instead of remitting the amount to the municipal treasurer’s office.

The fourth division said Rapal even attempted to offset the missing fund from his terminal leave credits. Such act was ”contrary to human experience” if he did not receive the amount, the court said.

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