Published on 02 December 2012
Written by John Constantine G. Cordon


The Sandiganbayan has sentenced former mayor Pedro Cuerpo of Rodriguez, Rizal province to six months in prison for disobeying a court order directing him to process building permits.
In a 23-page decision penned by Associate Justice Teresita Diaz-Baldos, the anti-graft court’s Second Division convicted Cuerpo and municipal engineer Fernando Roño for refusing to comply with the order of the San Mateo Regional Trial Court (RTC) to accommodate the applications for building permit of Samahang Magkakapitbisig (Samahan).
The Sandiganbayan found that though Cuerpo’s engineering office had already received the order from the RTC, the applications for building permit were still rejected.
The Samahan considered Roño and Cuerpo’s refusal “as an open defiance” to the ruling of the RTC and charged the officials with open disobedience, an offense punishable under the Revised Penal Code.
The Sandiganbayan regarded the RTC ruling as an “explicit order” for Roño and Cuerpo to process the building permit applications in conformity to standard rules.
The “applications were truly not accepted, much less processed,” the court said. “If [the applications] were [processed], then they should have borne marks, or notations, or even signatures of officials concerned.”
The Sandiganbayan observed that from the beginning, Cuerpo did not intend to approve the building permits because he was opposed to the relocation of informal settlers—members of Samahan—to his municipality.
The processing of the building permits on the part of Cuerpo and Roño, the Sandiganbayan said: “was not really that difficult to do, had they not been overridden by their obstinate decision not to allow the members of the Samahan to relocate at Rodriguez.”
Earlier this year, the same division of the anti-graft court convicted Cuerpo, Roño, and a barangay chairman of graft for unlawful demolition of temporary shelters of members of Samahan. They were each meted six to nine years imprisonment with an additional penalty of perpetual disqualification from holding public office.