Ex-Baao mayor meted 6-10 years jail term

By Mark A. Gomez


Former Mayor Melquaides Gaite of Baao, Camarines Sur has joined the growing list of political figures in Camarines Sur slapped with the penalty of perpetual disqualification from holding any public office by the Sandiganbayan.


In a decision promulgated on March 4, the Sandiganbayan’s Fourth Division found Gaite guilty of violating Republic Act 3019 or the Anti-Graft and Corrupt Practices Act.


The graft court imposed on Gaite the penalty of six to 10 years imprisonment including perpetual disqualification from holding any public office.


Filed by the Office of the Ombudsman in 2018, the case stemmed from the award of a 25-year lease contract to the Lamvert Consolidated Complex Development Corp. Inc. (LCC) involving some portions of the Baao Public Market.


Evidence of the case showed that the lease contract was not authorized by the municipal council and violated the local ordinance, which provides that the lease term should not exceed more than five years.


The prosecution failed to prove the injury suffered by the local government unit of Baao. Yet, the order said that it has been proven that the LCC stood to enjoy unwarranted benefits from the deal.


The decision, penned by Associate Justice Alex Quiroz and concurred in by Associate Justices Lorifel Pahimna and Bayani Jacinto, was released by the Sandiganbayan Fourth Division.


The former town executive’s political record was outstanding in terms of length of service rendered.


Bicol Mail exerted efforts to get the side of Gaite, but as of presstime its reporter failed to get his statement.


Gaite’s case is the third one involving government officials from Camarines Sur in the past few years. The two others involved ex-PNR chief Manuel “Ower” Andal who was sentenced an eight to 12 years imprisonment, and Five Tinambac town councilors who were meted the penalty of dismissal from the service. Andal and the five councilors were also barred from holding public office.


It will be recalled that Andal, a prominent political personality in Camarines Sur, was also convicted for graft and corruption by the Sandiganbayan in relation to his incumbency as general manager of Philippine National Railways (PNR), during the term of former president Gloria Macapagal Arroyo (GMA).


The dismissal order against the five councilors, who were accused of illegal g grant of permit to operate a cockpit arena, came several days prior to the deadline for filing of Certificate of Candidacy (COC) sometime in October 2021. The case still remains pending.