MANILA The Sandiganbayan has found a former mayor guilty of obstruction of justice after he tried to hide a piece of evidence from investigators of a vehicular accident involving his adopted son nine years ago.
The anti-graft court's' Fifth Division, in a decision dated October 25, also slapped former Talisay City, Cebu mayor Socrates C. Fernandez a PHP6,000-fine for the crime. Fernandez was also perpetually disqualified from holding office.
Sandiganbayan Associate Justice Maryann E. Corpus-Manalac penned the decision concurred in by Associate Justices Rafael R. Lagos and Maria Theresa V. Mendoza-Arcega.
Fernandez was charged in 2016 with violation of Section 1 (b) of Presidential Decree 1829 (Decree Penalizing Obstruction of Apprehension and Prosecution of Criminal Offenders) arising from an incident that happened Sitio Zombria, Barangay Lawaan 2, Talisay City on June 4, 2010 when he retrieved a lady's bag from a red Isuzu Bighorn sport utility vehicle (SUV) with plate number YEZ 460.
The SUV at the time was under police custody in connection with the arrest of the former mayor's adopted son, Joavan Fernandez.
Fernandez had been arrested by policemen while inside an auto shop for poking a gun at a certain Vincent Joe R. Castrodes when the latter's BMW sedan and the SUV nearly collided earlier that day.
With the police guarding the seized vehicle, the mayor arrived around an hour later to retrieve a red bag which he said was requested by the bag's owner, his son's friend, Katherine Jane Mahinay.
"(H)e suppressed or concealed the lady's bag, including its possible contents, with the intention to impair its availability as evidence in the investigation," the court said.
The following day, Cebu City Regional Trial Court (RTC) Branch 10 Judge Soliver Peras issued a search warrant, authorizing a search of the vehicle which yielded a .45 caliber pistol with magazines loaded with live ammunition.
The anti-graft court in its ruling reminded "that the Constitution stresses that a public office is a public trust, and public officers must at all times be accountable to the people, serve them with utmost responsibility, integrity, loyalty and efficiency, act with patriotism and justice, and lead modest lives."
"These constitutionally enshrined principles, oft-repeated in case law, are not mere rhetorical flourishes or idealistic sentiments. They should be taken as working standards by all in the public service," the court added. (PNA)
Source: Philippines News Agency