Ex-Ecija governor, mayors found guilty of graft over vehicle donations

Adrian Ayalin, ABS-CBN News

Posted at Aug 05 2019 04:53 PM

MANILA - Former Nueva Ecija governor Tomas Joson III was found guilty of 3 counts of graft by the Sandiganbayan 7th Division and sentenced to 6 to 10 years imprisonment for each count over donated vehicles to the towns of Quezon and Bongabon in 2007.

Also convicted by the anti-graft court were the nephew of Joson, then Quezon mayor Eduardo Basilio Joson for one count of graft, as well as Bongabon mayor Amelia Gamilla for two counts of graft.

The court noted that the two mayors were given preference by the governor over other municipalities in Nueva Ecija.

“Had accused Tomas Joson not exhibited such obvious bias, he could have simply made a more equitable distribution of the heavy equipment or service vehicles which would have benefited all of the municipalities who had made similar requests,” the court said.

Eduardo Basilio received a mobile clinic, a Toyota Revo, a Ford F150 and a Nissan Urvan while Gamilla got a Nissan Terrano and a Ford Expedition.

The two Josons however were acquitted in one graft case as it was not proven that the donations to Quezon town were disadvantageous to the provincial government as the vehicles were put to good use such as during humanitarian missions.

In the case involving vehicles given to Bongabon and Gamilla however, the court said the donations were disadvantageous to the provincial government as no formal turnover was done after her term.

“The only plausible answer to such questions is that accused Gamila had appropriated the vehicles for her own use, which was made all too convenient by her participation in the conspiracy with accused Tomas Joson,” the court said.

All three however were all sentenced to suffer perpetual disqualification to hold public office as another penalty for graft conviction, aside from imprisonment.

The decision, promulgated on July 26, 2019, was penned by Division Chairperson Ma. Theresa Dolores Gomez-Estoesta, with the concurrence of Associate Justices Zaldy Trespeses and Georgina Hidalgo.