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Sandiganbayan convicts Negros Oriental town mayor of graft

MANILA, Philippines – The town mayor of Jimalalud town in Negros Oriental has been convicted of graft after giving himself a cockpit promoter permit in 2010.

The Sandiganbayan Fifth Division, in an Aug. 30 decision, said the prosecution was able to prove that Mayor Reynaldo Vidal Tuanda violated Republic Act No. 3019, or the Anti Graft and Corrupt Practices Act, by taking advantage of his position as mayor.

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Tuanda admitted paying P250 to the municipal government to be granted a cockpit promoter permit but said it was just for a fiesta or derby.

But the court also found that the municipal council and the provincial board of Negros Oriental have not approved any ordinance allowing cockfighting.

“Despite the foregoing, accused Tuanda issued the permit to operate a cockpit to Arsenio Gentiles and the permit to engage as Cockpit Promoter to himself,” the court said in a decision written by Associate Sandiganbayan Justice Maria Theresa Mendoza-Arcega.

Tuanda was also chided for promoting cockfighting.

“Finally, as to the element of direct financial or pecuniary interest, let it be remembered that cockfighting, although authorized by law is still a form of gambling,” the court said.

“Immersing himself in convening and holding of arranged cockfights as the promoter cannot spare the accused from the fact that money is involved in the process,” he added. “As the mayor of the municipality, and a reputable cockfight aficionado in Jimalalud, it would be a disgrace if the bettors would not give the promoter a commission.”

Tuanda won over main rival Emmanuel Gantalao by just 98 votes in the May elections.

The anti-graft court sentenced Tuanda to a jail term of one to six years and perpetually barred him from holding any public office./TSB

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