A former mayor and his wife are facing charges for extortion after Ombudsman Conchita Carpio-Morales ordered the raps filed before the Sandiganbayan.
Preliminary investigations showed that Camilo Lammawin Jr. and his wife, Salud, of Tabuk in Kalinga allegedly extorted money from a contractor for the Tabuk Water Supply Project, Rodman Corporation.
The couple allegedly demanded P520,000 from the contractor in exchange for the release of a check amounting to P1,732,260 to cover for the firm’s work on the project.
The complaint was filed by the treasurer of Rodman Corporation, Susan Rodriguez, in 2002. Based on the affidavit of Rodriguez, the couple allegedly received P100,000 and P300,000 separate deposits on their individual personal bank accounts.
Salud later demanded more money from Rodman Corporation to supposedly pay for the purchase of the land where the firm’s project was being done. For this, Rodriguez made another deposit to Lammawin’s personal account in the amount of P120,000. It was credited on October 21, 2002.
Based on the preliminary investigations done by the Office of the Ombudsman, the couple were not able to provide enough proof of entitlement to show that they have the right to the money deposited in their accounts.
Morales said that the respondents (the mayor and his wife) acted in conspiracy to extort money from the complainant (Rodman Corporation via Rodriguez). The couple showed a united mind and purpose in getting the money from the firm for their own pockets.
In a 17-page resolution, Morales stated that the couple’s offense falls under the Anti-Graft and Corrupt Practices Act or Section 3(b) of Republic Act No. 3019. This law covers the graft and corruption practices of those holding public office wherein the public officer receives any commission, percentage, share, gift, present, or any other benefit from any project, transaction, or contract that the government enters with another party. In this practice, the public officer received either direct or indirect monetary compensation.
Under Article 210 of the Revised Penal Code, direct bribery is punishable by law. In the case of the Lammawin couple, it would be direct bribery because they were the ones who personally demanded and received the money from the Rodman Corporation.
Possible punishment for the bribery
Under the law, violators of Section 3 (as well as sections 4, 5, and 6) of Republic Act No. 3019 will be imprisoned for at least one year, but not more than 10 years. He/she will be perpetually disqualified from running for any office in the government. The government also has the right to confiscate or forfeit money or properties from the violator, the total amount of which will depend on the nature and depth of the offense committed.
The complainant, in turn, is entitled to recover what was lost from him/her in the form of forfeiture of the thing or money equivalent to what was given to the accused/respondent. The complainant has priority over the government in recovering money or property from the accused.