THE Sandiganbayan has upheld and affirmed the conviction of a Baguio City barangay councilor for falsification of documents and malversation of public funds, but has reduced the number of cases that he was guilty of.
Beltran’s criminal charges were from a complaint by a former barangay councilor who claimed Beltran made false entries in various Summary of Collections and Deposits (SCD) and pocketed the difference.
Initially, Romel H. Beltran was found by the Baguio City Regional Trial Court (RTC) guilty of 10 counts of falsification of public documents, and nine counts of malversation of public funds.
Beltran appealed the ruling before the Sandiganbayan, which partially granted the appeal and upheld the conviction but reduced the guilty counts to four each for falsification and malversation, each count carrying a penalty of imprisonment ranging from two to four years. The other guilty counts were reversed on grounds of reasonable doubt.
The Sandiganbayan’s seventh division also reduced the fines for the cases, with the original RTC fine of P3,820 in the malversation cases being reduced to P1,470, and the fine for each falsification count to P1,000 each.
“We hold that, insofar as Criminal Case Nos. 37716-R, 37718-R, 37720-R, and 37721-R, where the fund shortages were duly established, the RTC was correct in presuming that accused-appellant Beltran misappropriated the difference in the amounts indicated in the OR (official receipt) issued to payors and the SCDs based on his failure to account therefor upon demand,” the Sandiganbayan said.
The decision was written by Associate Justice Zaldy V. Trespeses with the concurrence of Seventh Division Chairperson Ma. Theresa Dolores C. Gomez-Esotesta and Associate Justice Georgina D. Hidalgo.