Baguio cashier gets 7-year jail term over missing public funds

By Benjamin Pulta

June 5, 2023, 4:28 pm

<p>Sandiganbayan <em>(PNA file photo)</em></p>

Sandiganbayan (PNA file photo)

MANILA – The Sandiganbayan has sentenced a former cashier to up to seven years in prison for malversation involving more than PHP250,000 in public funds.

The anti-graft court’s Second Division affirmed the 2022 decision of the Baguio Regional Trial Court Branch 6 convicting Nila Cariño, the former cashier of state-owned Human Settlements Development Corp. (HSDC) - Maharlika Livelihood Complex.

Cariño was likewise fined PHP295,764 representing the amount malversed.

She was charged in 2018 following findings by the Commission on Audit - Cordillera Administrative Region that she incurred cash shortage in public funds representing collections entrusted to her and which she failed to turn over or deposit from Oct. 13, 2017 to July 24, 2018.

She was subsequently dismissed while the case was pending.

Cariño appealed her conviction with legal assistance from the Public Attorney’s Office, claiming the prosecution failed to establish that the missing amount of money was in her possession since no cash count was conducted.

She said the alleged missing or unaccounted for money has been turned over to her successor.

However, the Sandiganbayan ruled that the absence of any explanation from Cariño evidently showed that she cannot account for the cash shortage.

“There is prima facie evidence that she misappropriated the missing funds," the anti-graft court said in its June 5 decision that was made public Monday.

HSDC used to be an attached agency of the Department of Agriculture but was ordered transferred to the Baguio City government in 2009 since it does not fulfill agriculture-related functions. (PNA)