MANILA  – The Sandiganbayan has acquitted a former Eastern Samar town mayor of charges arising from his refusal to reinstate and pay back wages to two municipal employees in defiance of an order by the Civil Service Commission (CSC).

In the 79-page decision written by Associate Justice Sarah Jane T. Fernandez dated March 31, the graft court acquitted former San Policarpio, Eastern Samar Mayor Conrado Nicart III of charges in violation of the Anti-Graft and Corrupt Practices Act (RA 3019).

Nicart was charged for his failure and refusal in 2012 to immediately reinstate Diosdado B. Cidro and Anita P. Moscosa to their respective positions as an agriculturist technician and budgeting aide respectively, as directed by the CSC in its decision dated April 17, 2012.

The mayor had asked for a reconsideration of the CSC ruling but the same was denied. Nicart then initiated a formal charge in January 2013 dismissing Cidro, Moscosa, and municipal civil registrar Virginia Acol for dishonesty, grave misconduct, and conduct prejudicial to the best interest of the service.

A month later, the mayor issued a decision dismissing the three from the service. Acol would later resign.

Cidro, eventually received a check for PHP182,816 from the municipality in 2016 when Nicart was no longer the mayor representing the period from January 2012 to February 2013 or roughly 14 months' salary.

Moscosa, similarly received in 2016 a check of PHP140,112 in payment for back salaries for the periods January 2012 to February 2013.

In clearing Nicart, the court said the prosecution failed to prove his guilt beyond reasonable doubt.

"(W)hile the prosecution established that accused Nicart acted with evident bad faith and gross inexcusable negligence, the evidence presented failed to establish the element of undue injury or damage of Cidro and Moscosa. Absent one of the essential elements of violation of RA 3019, the acquittal of accused Nicart must follow," the tribunal said.

Associate Justices Karl B. Miranda and Kevin Narce B. Vivero concurred. (PNA)