The Sandiganbayan has sentenced a former vice mayor in Iloilo province to a 20-year jail term after he was found guilty of graft and falsification of public documents over the massive illegal quarrying at the Tigum River in 1996.
The anti-graft court Fifth Division, in a 26-page decision dated Nov. 23, 2018, ordered former Maasin vice mayor Arnaldo Partisala to pay a P5,000 fine and perpetual special disqualification for the exercise of the right of suffrage.
Court records showed that Partisala, was charged with graft and falsification together with then Mayor Rene Mondejar, Sangguniang Bayan (SB) Secretary Francisco Tolentino, SB Members Ildefonso Espejo, Margarita Gumapas, Manuel Piolo, Roberto Velasco, and the president of International Builders Corp. (IBC), Helen Tan.
On Oct. 15, 1999, the Sandiganbayan ordered the arrest of all the accused. Partisala voluntarily surrendered and upon motion, he was granted reduction of the amount of bail and was issued a waiver of appearance.
However, for failure to appear in the arraignment on Sept. 1, 2003, despite due notice, the anti-graft court ordered his arrest and the cash bond posted for his temporary liberty was confiscated in favor of the government.
On Nov. 7, 2013, the anti-graft court rendered a decision, convicting all of the accused, except Partisala, who remained at-large when the judgment was promulgated.
The Office of the Ombudsman indicted the accused of graft for conspiring with Tan on June 27, 1996.
Records also showed that the accused made it appear a resolution was enacted by the SB of Maasin, authorizing Mondejar to exercise his emergency powers to enter into a memorandum of agreement with Tan, authorizing IBC to engage in massive quarrying in the guise of rechanneling the Tigum River in Maasin.
They were also accused of falsification of a public document when they conspired on June 21, 2016 to falsify a public document consisting of the minutes of the regular session of the SB of Maasin and made it appear that the SB validly enacted and passed Resolution Nos. 30-A and 30-B.
The accused very well knew that the two resolutions were never taken up, deliberated nor acted upon by the SB of Maasin, court records showed.PNA