Davao del Norte village chief gets 13 years

Elizabeth Marcelo - The Philippine Star

Over sale of barangay dump truck

MANILA, Philippines — A village chief in Kapalong, Davao del Norte may spend up to 13 years in prison over the sale of a dump truck owned by his barangay.

In a 37-page decision promulgated on Sept. 19, the Sandiganbayan’s Seventh Division junked the appeal of Arthur Lontoc Jr., chairman of Barangay Pag-asa, to reverse the ruling of the Tagum City Regional Trial Court (RTC) Branch 1, which found him guilty of graft and malversation of public funds.

“The undue injury caused to the government in this case is palpable... The full price for which the dump truck was sold was not remitted to the coffers of the barangay,” the court ruling read.

The court cited a handwritten receipt which showed that the dump truck was sold for P77,000, but only P45,000 was officially recorded.

It noted that after remitting the P45,000 to the barangay treasurer, Lontoc withdrew the amount.

In its Aug. 19, 2022 decision, the Tagum City RTC Branch 1 sentenced Lontoc to six to seven years in prison for graft and three to six years for malversation.

The RTC also ordered Lontoc’s perpetual disqualification from holding public office and to pay a fine of P77,000, which is equivalent to the amount found to have been malversed.

Court records show that Lontoc sold an Isuzu mini dump truck, which was donated by the Kapalong municipal government to Barangay Pag-asa.

The prosecution panel said the dump truck, which was worth P295,000, was sold to a certain Felix Sibonga for P77,000 without authorization from the barangay council.

In affirming the lower court’s decision, the seventh division said that while Lontoc returned the dump truck and refunded Sibonga a total of P150,000 for the sale as well as expenses incurred for the repair of the vehicle, these acts were belatedly done.

“Restitution is not a ground for acquittal...These arguments by accused-appellant are vain attempts to exculpate himself from criminal liability,” the court said.

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