Former NIA cashier found guilty of malversation of public funds

KIDAPAWAN CITY (MindaNews/ 7 Oct) – After 16 long years of trial, a former cashier of the National Irrigation Administration (NIA) in Kabacan town in North Cotabato was sentenced to imprisonment of from 10 to 18 years after she was found guilty “beyond reasonable doubt” by a local court for malversation of public funds.

In his 31-page decision, newly-appointed Judge Laureano Alzate, of the Regional Trial Court branch 22, said that Mildred Decalos, former cashier and disbursing officer of the NIA Kabacan River Irrigation System (KABRIS), could not give a legal excuse for the loss of P475,594.47, which happened sometime January in 1994.

The court said that the alibi made by Decalos saying the money was stolen from her vault was not substantial and credible.

Citing investigations done by the local police, the court said the loss of the collections of NIA-KABRIS “was very mysterious.”

“Only the accused knew how to open and close the vault. Nobody also knew the combination of the vault, except her,” the court quoted one of the witnesses’ accounts.

The court did not also give much weight on the results of the lie detector or polygraph test as it has not yet attained scientific acceptance as a reliable instrument to determine if someone was lying or telling the truth.

Citing as basis Article 217 of the Revised Penal Code, Alzate said, “There is presumption of malversation of public funds when any public officer shall appropriate or misappropriate the same or permit any other person to take such public funds, wholly or partially.”

“Aside from imprisonment as penalty, the accused shall also suffer the penalty of perpetual special disqualification and a fine equal to amount of the funds malversed or equal to the total value of the property embezzled,” the court stated.

Immediately after the promulgation was read, Decalos’s lawyer, Esmael Guru, filed a motion that his client be given temporary liberty using the bond she posted during the trial as guarantee.

The request was granted by the court.

For the meantime, Guru said they will appeal the lower court’s decision at the Court of Appeals in Cagayan de Oro City. (Malu Cadeliña Manar / MindaNews)