Former Carmen, Cebu accountant acquitted of criminal charges
CEBU CITY, Philippines – The Sandiganbayan Fourth Division has acquitted former Carmen, Cebu accountant Dinah Barriga of malversation and the illegal use of public funds she allegedly committed almost three decades ago.
Barriga was accused of conspiring with former Carmen Mayor Virginio Villamor and charged for allegedly misappropriating P23,047.20 in government funds in January 1996. The said amount was intended to cover the cost of five rolls of Poly Ethylene pipes for the Corte-Cantumog Water System Project.
Barriga was also accused of illegally using P1,305 in municipal funds in November 1995. The Municipality of Carmen, Cebu disbursed the amount for the repair of Spring Boc at Barangay Upper Natimao-an and charged the same amount to the Central Visayas Water and Sanitation Project Trust Fund (CVWSP Fund).
The prosecution alleged that what Barriga did was illegal since Barangay Natimao-an was not a recipient of the CVWSP trust fund.
However, in its 32-page decision, promulgated last May 23, 2022, the Sandiganbayan Fourth Division said the prosecution failed to prove the essential elements of the crime accused against Barriga.
A copy of the decision was posted on the Sandiganbayan’s official website.
“In these cases, the participation of the two accused to commit the crimes were not adequately proven. The mere fact that accused Villamor is the municipal mayor and accused Barriga is the municipal accountant is certainly not sufficient to justify the conclusion that they conspired to commit the crime,” reads a portion of the decision.
The Sandiganbayan said the prosecution also failed to prove the specific law or ordinance appropriating the funds in question for a particular public purpose. It said that this would have been essential in establishing that the accused used the funds for another purpose than what it was intended for.
The decision was penned by Associate Justice Alex Quiroz and and concurred by Associate Justices Lorifel Lacap Pahimna and Bayani Jacinto.
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