Laguna town treasurer’s malversation conviction affirmed by Sandigan

Sandiganbayan upholds conviction of Pagsanjan town official for malversation of public funds

The Sandiganbayan has upheld the conviction of Elizalde G. Gabaleño, the assistant municipal treasurer of Pagsanjan town in Laguna, for malversation of public funds amounting to P483,529.31 in 2005. The decision affirmed the ruling of the Sta. Cruz, Laguna regional trial court (RTC) on December 16, 2021, which sentenced Gabaleño to imprisonment ranging from four to 11 years with perpetual disqualification to hold public office. He was also ordered to pay a fine of P483,529.31.

Gabaleño appealed the RTC’s decision before the Sandiganbayan, arguing that the Commission on Audit (COA) only reported a cash shortage of P483,529.31, without providing proof that the funds were public in nature and that he received the amount.

However, the Sandiganbayan denied his allegations, stating that evidence showed the shortage in Gabaleño’s accountabilities was based on official receipts recorded in the cash book and verified remittances in the Land Bank.

The court, in a 17-page decision written by Fifth Division Chairperson Rafael R. Lagos with the concurrence of Associate Justices Maria Theresa V. Mendoza-Arcega and Maryann E. Corpus-Mañalac, affirmed the RTC’s judgment of conviction of Gabaleño for the crime of malversation of public funds beyond reasonable doubt.

The ruling serves as a reminder that public officials must be held accountable for the proper handling of public funds to ensure transparency and prevent corruption.

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