SC sacks Mindoro municipal accountant over P1.35M transactions with family businesses

The Supreme Court (SC) has dismissed Bongabon, Oriental Mindoro, municipal accountant Raquel de Castro from public service in connection with the government’s P1.35-million transactions with her family’s businesses.

In a recent 11-page decision, the SC 2nd Division reinstated the Ombudsman’s August 11, 2015 ruling finding De Castro guilty of the administrative offense of grave misconduct and barring her from public office.

The SC set aside the Court of Appeals’ (CA) January 20, 2017 decision to downgrade De Castro’s penalty to one-month suspension for the lesser offense of simple misconduct.

It said De Castro “on more than one occasion, knowingly certified and approved disbursement vouchers” for the transactions between the municipal government and her family’s businesses.

This violated Sections 89 and 341 of the Local Government Code, which prohibited public officers from having pecuniary interest in the local government’s transactions.

The sheer number of transactions—63 in total from February 2006 to April 2010—showed her “propensity to ignore the rules as clearly manifested by his or her actions constitutes flagrant disregard of rules,” the SC said.

De Castro argued she did not take part in the consummation of the contracts and only certified the completeness of the supporting documents.

But, the SC said the accountant’s obligation of appropriations was necessary to consummate the transactions under Section 344 of the Local Government Code. Without her certifications, these could not have pushed through.

The decision was penned by Associate Justice Andres Reyes, Jr.

The municipal government entered into 18 transactions totaling P269,670.53 with Pink Plates Bistro from February 2006 to December 2007.

It also had seven and three transactions worth P54,167.95 and P130.824.00 with Pink Shop Computer Center and Pink Plates General Merchandise from February 2006 to March 2007 and from November 2008 to April 2010, respectively.

The three aforementioned businesses were owned by De Castro’s husband.

These transactions paled in comparison with the 35 entered with Pink Splash Resort worth P892,248.20 from May 2008 to April 2010. The said resort was owned by De Castro’s daughter.

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