SC affirms former Agoo mayor guilty in loan scam

>> Monday, April 26, 2010

AGOO, La Union -- The Supreme Court recently affirmed a Court of Appeals decision finding ex-mayor Eufranio Eriguel of Agoo, erstwhile candidate for the second congressional district of La Union, culpable for abuse of public trust and authority and personally liable for payments to loans for an Agoo public loan scam when he was still mayor of the town.

The SC, in a Feb.1 ruling, said Eriguel, together with his Sangguniang Bayan then, used municipal properties as collaterals for loans without authority for a development which saw the destruction of time-honored landmarks in the town.

The estimated 38 million-peso loan was previously charged by Eriguel and his SB members to the municipality during his incumbency as mayor of Agoo from 2004-2007.

Court records showed the loan ballooned to an estimated P60 million. In affirming the CA decision the SC ruled Eriguel and his board are required to assume the burden of payment for in their personal capacities.

The development remains a property of the people of Agoo, having been confiscated in favor of the public by decision of the courts.

The case is considered a “landmark” decision since it penalizes abusive municipal officials even beyond their terms.

The existence of the development in its present form did not render the decision moot and academic, lawyers here said.

The decision citing that a later municipal council passage of an empowering bill (passed under the term of Eriguel’s wife as mayor) reclassifying the property as alienable could not right the wrong that had been committed.

The conviction stemmed from a municipal property, known as Imelda Park among the locals, considered “beyond the commerce of man.”

Lawyer Pablo Olarte, a former three-term mayor of Agoo now running for the La Union provincial board, said Eriguel and his board made the loans without proper authority from the people of the town as the rightful owners of the property.


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