MANILA (AdChoiceTV News) — Former mayor Lucio Uera of Pantabangan, Nueva Ecija may spend up to 15 years in prison for using P60,000 in public funds during his unauthorized trip to Australia in 2006.
In a 66-page decision promulgated on Tuesday, the Sandiganbayan’s Seventh Division found Uera guilty of graft and malversation of public funds.
Uera was sentenced to up to eight years in prison for graft and up to seven years for malversation. He was also perpetually disqualified from holding public office and ordered to pay a fine of P60,000.
Filed by the Office of the Ombudsman in 2017, the cases stemmed from Uera’s cash advance of P60,000 for a trip to Australia to watch an animal show.
The ombudsman said the trip was not approved by the secretary of the Department of Interior and Local Government.
The court gave no weight to Uera’s claim that he had an authorization from the office of the provincial governor.
“The issuance of the purported travel authority from the provincial governor, which original or certified true copy was never… produced by the accused, can only be deemed as unauthorized,” the court said.
Uera’s “obstinate” refusal to refund his cash advance despite a notice of disallowance issued by the Commission on Audit amounted to ”evident bad faith,” the court added.
In the same decision, the court acquitted Uera of two counts of malversation for allegedly pocketing P24,605.84, representing reimbursement for food supplies used in his office from February to April 2006.
The court said the former mayor was able to present the necessary documents, such as certificate of availability of funds, allotment and obligation slips as well as disbursement vouchers to support the fund release.
/ART — AdChoiceTV News