Case stemmed for cockpit use of brgy execs

TACLOBAN CITY-A former mayor in Leyte was convicted by the Supreme Court for graft after she allowed the members of the ‘Liga ng mga Barangay’ to hold cockfights.
The 12-page decision of the First Division of the High Court, promulgated last July 27,2022 but was released only last week, affirmed an earlier ruling of the Sandiganbayan convicting Charita Chan, who served as mayor of Babatngon town from 2007 to 2016.

Chan appealed the February 20,2018 decision of the Sandiganbayan to the Supreme Court.
The High Court also affirmed the anti-graft court’s sentencing of the former mayor to six years and one month to seven years imprisonment and perpetual disqualification to hold public office.

The Supreme Court said that the move of the former mayor was a clear violation of RA 3019, otherwise known as the Anti-Graft and Corrupt Practices Law which prohibits local officials like the members of the Liga ng mga Barangay to conduct cockfight derbies.

The High Court also ruled that by issuing a mayor’s permit to the group on April 13,2012, Chan violated PD 449 and Municipal Ordinance No.281.

Both measures prohibit the holding of a cockfight every Saturday.

“Criminal intent was presumed in the act of issuing the mayor’s permit in violation of existing laws. Chan failed to overcome this presumption since she did not present any evidence to the contrary,” the Supreme Court said.

“All told, the Court upholds the finding of the Sandiganbayan that Chan is guilty beyond reasonable doubt for knowingly granting a permit to hold cockfights in favor of the Liga ng mga Barangay whose members are prohibited from having interest in any cockpit operations pursuant to RA 7160,” the court said.

RA 7160 refers to the Local Government Code of the Philippines.

The decision was penned by Associate Justice Ramon Paul Hernando and concurred by Chief Justice Alexander Gesmundo and Associate Justices Rodil Zalameda, Ricardo Rosario, and Jose Midas Marquez.

Chan, who was elected as a councilor during last elections, could not immediately be reached for her comment on this issue.