Plea dismissed by ex-mayors of Ilocos Sur in bribery case

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BAGUIO CITY, Philippines — The Ombudsman’s office has rejected a petition filed by two former mayors of Narvacan, Ilocos Sur, in relation to a tobacco tax-related bribery case.

In a recent nine-page ruling, the Ombudsman dismissed the petition of former mayor Edgardo Zaragoza and his son Zuriel for lack of merit.

The Zaragozans were mayors of Narvacan for almost 30 years.

They were charged with malversation and forgery of public documents under Republic Act 3019 or the Anti-Graft and Corrupt Practices Act.

In addition to the Zaragozans, the ombudsman also named the municipal accountant Melody Cadacio and the educational research assistant Mario Cabinte in the case.

The indictment was brought by Narvacan Mayor Luis “Chavit” Singson, who accused the defendants of embezzling hundreds of millions of pesos in the form of city government shares of the tobacco tax.

Singson said respondents falsified records to populate the number of farmers benefiting from the excise tax.

“The people of Narvacan suffered from the mistreatment of local officials,” Singson said in the complaint.

In their application, the Zaragozas said the provincial prosecutor’s office had dismissed a coercion case filed against them by the peasant group’s president, Constante Cabitac, for lack of evidence.

Cabitac testified that the Zaragozas ordered him to cash checks more than 10 times and that he received a paltry amount.

The Ombudsman dismissed the Zaragosas’ arguments.

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