Sandiganbayan exonerates ex-Talisay mayor
Mylen P. Manto (The Freeman) - April 10, 2019 - 12:00am

CEBU, Philippines —  The Sandiganbayan second division has cleared former Talisay City mayor Johnny De Los Reyes of criminal case filed against him over alleged falsification of public document.

De Los Reyes was charged in 2014 for allegedly taking advantage of his position by making it appear that the Board of Trustees (BOT) of Talisay City College (TCC) gave him authority to appoint Dr. Paulus Mariae Cañete as officer-in-charge president of the school, when in truth, no such authority was given.

Associate Justice Michael Frederick Musngi, in his penned decision, however, dismissed the case for failure of the prosecution to prove his guilt beyond reasonable doubt.

"Where there is reasonable doubt, the accused must be acquitted even though his innocence may not have been established. Upon examination of the evidence presented, the court finds that the prosecution failed to prove the guilt of the accused with moral certainty," read the decision.

The case stemmed from a complaint filed by Dr. Richel Bacaltos, former president of TCC.

He alleged the issuance of Executive Order 2014-0007 was illegal creating confusion among the students and chaos in the TCC.

"Despite the non-observance of such procedure, the accused still issued Executive Order 2014-0007 appointing a new College President on the basis of the 10 December 2013 meeting. The issuance of the said Executive Order created confusion among the students and chaos in the TCC because there were two graduation ceremonies, two enrollments and two entrance examinations," he stated.

The proper procedure would be, he said, first, the Chairman of the BOT, who is the mayor, will call for a meeting and notices, which includes the appointment of College President among the items in the calendar of business and the qualifications of the College President will be discussed. A resolution will thereafter be issued by the BOT.

In his defense, de los Reyes said there was a discussion to appoint a new college president. In the meeting, there were no objections from the BOT when the said matter was taken up.

Because there were no oppositions and after seeking advice, he issued Executive Order 2014-0007 dated February 3, 2014 in favor of Cañete as the latter was qualified to sign any legal documents for the students who will be graduating in two months.

De los Reyes said he replaced Bacaltos as TCC president because he was not qualified to sign the documents for the graduating students, considering he was not yet a Doctorate degree holder which is required by a CHED Memorandum Order for a college president.

"The fact that it was mentioned in the Minutes shows that accused de los Reyes' statement in the Executive Order is not absolutely false as the same was supposed and backed by such statement at the 10 December 2013 meeting. The presence of such statement in the minutes casts reasonable doubt that the accused committed the act of falsification because his action were not entirely baseless," read the decision. — MBG (FREEMAN)

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