June 9, 2023

A former municipal employee of the La Trinidad, Benguet will face 14 years in jail for embezzling P1.3 million in public funds.  

In an 18-page decision on Nov. 25, Benguet Regional Trial Court Branch 8 Judge Isagani Calderon has found Alex Dalupang Budas, then the revenue collection clerk II at the Municipal Treasurer’s Office, guilty of malversation of public funds. 

Budas failed to remit the accountable forms, which were issued to him to cater to the queuing taxpayers availing of the 10 percent discount for the advancement of real property tax in November 2019.

Due to the failure to comply in submitting the forms, MTO then relieved Budas as revenue collector at the real property tax section and was transferred to the assessment of the business tax section. 

He still failed to remit the accountable forms, including his collections, despite several demand letters from his superior. The final demand letter given to him was on Nov. 23, 2020.

By Oct. 7, 2021, Mayor Romeo Salda executed a complaint-affidavit against Budas while the town council issued a resolution condemning his acts. He was then charged administratively with serious dishonesty and grave misconduct.

After investigation, Salda issued a decision dismissing Budas as a municipal employee for the administrative case.

On Nov. 18, 2021, the Benguet Provincial Prosecutor’s Office filed malversation of public funds against Budas.

The decision states the prosecution has established that Budas indeed committed malversation of public funds and he failed to remit his collection amounting to P1,396,607.84. Though Budas admitted he did not remit the funds, he gave no justifiable explanation of the shortage of funds under his care.

The decision also stated that the non-appearance of Budas after his arraignment up to the time the prosecution completed presenting evidence, is indicative of his guilt while his whereabout remains unknown.  

“Here, instead of presenting evidence to rebut the allegations against him, Budas jumped bail. The flight of Budas may be taken as evidence to establish his guilt, for a truly innocent person would normally take the first available opportunity to defend him and to assert his innocence. If he truly is innocent,” the decision stated.

He was meted with a penalty of 10 years as minimum penalty and 14 years in jail as the maximum penalty. Also, he shall be barred from holding any public office in the future.

Budas was also ordered to pay the amount of P1,396,607.84 with legal interest of six percent per annum from the finality of the decision.

The warrant of arrest of Budas has also been reiterated by the court. – Ofelia C. Empian