The Philippine Star

Sandigan reverses Palawan mayor’s conviction

- – Elizabeth Marcelo

The Sandiganba­yan has reversed its ruling convicting the mayor of Narra town in Palawan for graft and sentencing her to a maximum of 140 years in prison.

”After painstakin­g re-examinatio­n of the records of the cases and relevant jurisprude­nce... the court resolves to grant the accused’s motion for reconsider­ation,” the antigraft court’s third division said in its recent ruling.

Lucena Demaala was found guilty of 14 counts of violation of Section 3 (h) of Republic Act 3019 or the Anti-Graft and Corrupt Practices Act in connection with the transactio­ns the municipal government entered into with a company owned by her daughter Arleen Cabando, the Sandiganba­yan said in its ruling on Dec. 15.

Based on the complaints, the Narra municipal government procured office supplies, trophies, curtains and other materials from ADB Trading and Services, which is registered under the name of Demaala’s daughter Arleen Cabando. The purchases were covered by 14 disburseme­nt vouchers signed by Demaala between January to December 2000, totaling P93,521.

In reversing Demaala’s conviction, the Sandiganba­yan said the prosecutio­n failed to prove that she intervened in her official capacity as mayor in the purchase of office supplies and materials from ADB Trading.

”Neither was there evidence to show that the accused influenced the bids and awards committee to award the contracts to ADB Trading,” the court said.

The Sandiganba­yan also ordered the lifting of the hold departure order it issued against Demaala in 2002 and the release of the bail she posted.

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