MANILA — A former town mayor of Nueva Ecija is facing an eight-year jail term after the Sandiganbayan found him guilty of falsifying a certificate, disowning his nephew whom he appointed in the municipal hall in 1997.
In an 40-page decision, the anti-graft court’s Seventh Division also ordered former Talugtug, Nueva Ecija Mayor Quintino Soriano Caspillo Jr. to pay a PHP5,000 fine for falsification of public documents.
“Accused’s admission that he signed the subject certification, which was made during clarificatory hearing and without the assistance of counsel, is void for having been obtained in violation of his right under Section 12(3) of the Constitution,” the Sandiganbayan said in its ruling.
“Moreover, we find no merit in accused’s claim of good faith. We are not persuaded by his claim that third degree or fourth degree relationship is a technical term which he, as an engineer, is not expected to have an intelligent grasp of,” it added.
The case stemmed from complaints of nepotism and falsification of public documents and violation of Section 3(e) of Republic Act No. 3019, or the “Anti-Graft and Corrupt Practices Act”, separately filed by Pacifico Monta on Apr. 6, 2011, and Eugenia Umipig Despuig on June 11, 2011 before the Office of the Ombudsman.
The complainants said Caspillo, who was then mayor of Talugtug, Nueva Ecjia from 1992 to 1999, appointed his nephew, Elmer Caspillo, as the Municipal Planning and Development Coordinator in 1997.
The former local chief executive issued a certification dated June 17, 1997, stating that he and Elmer are not related to each other, either by affinity or consanguinity.
On Nov. 14, 2016, the Sandiganbayan, however, issued an order finding probable cause to order the issuance of a warrant for the his arrest. It also issued a hold departure order against Caspillo.
The anti-graft court lifted on Nov. 29, 2016 the warrant for the accused’s arrest after he posted cash bond for his temporary liberty.
The accused was arraigned and pleaded not guilty on Jan. 17, 2017
On Feb. 13, 2017, the accused filed an omnibus motion, seeking to recall/withdraw his plea; quash the information and dismiss the case on the ground of violation of his right to speedy disposition; dismiss the case due to the mistake in charging the proper offense; dismiss/quash the information due to prescription of offense; and defer the preliminary conference until the omnibus motion is resolved.
The Sandiganbayan denied the accused omnibus motion for lack of merit on Mar. 8, 2017. (Perfecto Raymundo, Jr./PNA)