Former Sta. Monica, Surigao del Norte mayor Rosalinda Penera has been acquitted of graft over the purchase of land for the town’s shelter program.
Apart from her, the Sandiganbayan 1st Division also acquitted her co-accused, namely, municipal treasurer Aurea Menil, municipal budget officer Gilbert Dagcuta, municipal budget officer designate Lei Amor Laplana, and private individual Rodulfo Arlan Sr.
Under the case, the defendants were accused of giving unwarranted benefit to Arlan in purchasing his land for P980,000 in Poctoy, Barangay T-Arlan to be used for the Core Shelter Assistance Project (CSAP).
During the term of Penera from 2010 to 2013, the purchase was allegedly done without the prior and specific authorization from the Sangguniang Bayan and without the specific appropriation ordinance for its payment.
In its decision, the anti-graft court pointed out the Sangguniang Bayan, in fact, issued two resolutions, one authorizing Penera to enter into a memorandum of agreement with the Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD) and another allocating the land as the project site for the CSAP.
“Gleaned from the tenor of the two resolutions, which were both unanimously approved by the Sanggunian Bayan members, and the purpose or objective for which they were adopted, there should be no room for doubt that accused Mayor Penera was actually clothed with authority to purchase the needed property that would serve as a site for the DSWD assisted housing project,” read the decision.
“Such authority that was bestowed upon the accused mayor inevitably negates the charge of manifest partiality, evident bad faith or gross inexcusable negligence on her part,” it added.