MANILA - The Sandigabayan on Monday convicted former Kabankalan, Negros Occidental councilor Carlo Villavicencio for violation of the Anti-Sexual Harassment Act of 1995 after changing his plea of not guilty to guilty.
The Office of the Ombudsman earlier accused Villavicencio of demanding sexual favors from Ian She Salon, a technical assistant working in his office in 2005, in exchange for the renewal of her appointment for employment.
Salon's appointment was not renewed after she allegedly rejected the councilor' demand.
Villavincencio pleaded not guilty in June 2016, but manifested his intention to change his plea to guilty last August 8.
The court did not find it necessary to re-arraign him as it is already satisfied that he has fully understood the nature and consequence of his guilty plea.
"Having appreciated in his favor the mitigating circumstance of the plea of guilty, accused is imposed the penalty of fine of ten thousand pesos (P10,000.00)," the court said in its decision penned by 7th Division chairperson Associate Justice Ma. Theresa Dolores Estoesta.
The court initially informed Villavicencio that by changing his plea, he could be penalized with 1 to 6 months of imprisonment and/or a fine of P10,000 to P20,000, aside from facing disqualification from public office.
The court however decided to impose just the P10,000 fine against Villavicencio.
"The mitigating circumstance of the plea of guilty would be appreciated in favor of the accused as the change of plea was made prior to the presentation of evidence by the prosecution," the court said.