PILI, Camarines Sur -- Mayor Tomas Bongalonta of this town was found not guilty by the Sandiganbayan Seventh Division based in Quezon City, acquitting him of graft charges on Friday after the case had dragged on for seven years.
Bongalonta, who has also suffered unjust suspension from the provincial government of CamSur last year, said finally, the truth has surfaced in a case of violation of the Anti-Graft and Corrupt Practices Act filed against him by former Municipal Accountant Eileen B. Ceron, who is now on absence without official leave (AWOL) at the local government of the town.
The mayor said that last Friday, he was personally brought to the Sandiganbayan where the court read to him his acquittal at about 8:30 a.m. on the said case, Sandiganbayan Criminal Case No. SB-11-CRIM-0203.
Reportedly, the charge against Bongalonta was a counter charge by Ceron, who was earlier sentenced by the Sandiganbayan for dismissal in service, forfeiture of benefits and disqualification to hold public position in government.
The case merited dismissal after Ceron was found guilty of dishonesty after reportedly deducting salaries of Pili LGU employees, to pay her salary loan.
Reportedly, Ceron was given a second chance by the Court of Appeals (CA) by reducing her sentence to one-year suspension in office and a pledge not to repeat the same offense.
However, Ceron failed to comply with the one-year suspension by the CA when the late Mayor Alexis San Luis Sr. reinstalled her as municipal accountant, complying only six months of the suspension, until Bongalonta returned to office and reiterated that she should serve her non-complied suspension order.
The acquittal of Bongalonta was issued by Judge Amparo Cabutaje Tan, of Sandiganbayan Seventh Division.