Children hold plates on top of their heads against rainfall as they queue for free meals during Christmas celebrations at the town of Bislig, Tanauan in Leyte province, central Philippines December 24, 2013, a month after Typhoon Haiyan battered central Philippines. Super typhoon Haiyan reduced almost everything in its path to rubble when it swept ashore in the central Philippines on November 8, killing at least 6,069 people, leaving 1,779 missing and 4 million either homeless or with damaged homes. (MNS photo)

Children hold plates on top of their heads against rainfall as they queue for free meals during Christmas celebrations at the town of Bislig, Tanauan in Leyte province, central Philippines December 24, 2013, a month after Typhoon Haiyan battered central Philippines. Super typhoon Haiyan reduced almost everything in its path to rubble when it swept ashore in the central Philippines on November 8, killing at least 6,069 people, leaving 1,779 missing and 4 million either homeless or with damaged homes. (MNS photo)

MANILA, July 7 (Mabuhay) – The Supreme Court (SC) has upheld the case of technical malversation filed against a former town mayor of Leyte province for illegal distribution of food to typhoon victims in his town.

The amount of government fund involved in the case was P3,396, which was diverted to poor calamity victims who were beneficiaries of a reconstruction project in Leyte.

The SC held liable former Mayor Arnold James Ysidoro of Leyte, Leyte for the illegal distribution of food to the calamity victims which was originally intended for the malnourished children in the town.

The SC affirmed its Nov. 14, 2012 ruling entitled “ARNOLD JAMES YSIDORO vs. PEOPLE OF THE PHILIPPINES” which was written by now retired Associate Justice Roberto Abad.

Abad reached the compulsory retirement age of 70 years last May 22.

Ysidoro made such distribution of food based on the recommendation of the Municipal Social Welfare and Development Office and with the assistance of the Core Shelter Assistance Program which supervised the construction of houses for the victims of the typhoon.

The distribution of food was aimed so as not to delay the construction of the houses because the poor beneficiaries of the program were then busy in the search for food for their respective families.

Ysidoro argued that his action was legal because the money used to buy the food came from savings of the Supplemental Feeding Program of the local government and that the victims of the calamity were already hungry.

However, the SC said that even if the mayor had a noble desire in his decision and even if the government fund involved in the case was not that much, it can still be considered as “technical malversation.”

Under Article 220 of the Revised Penal Code (RPC), illegal diversion of a fund intended for a program or a service to another project will be held criminally liable.

The SC added that even if such action of the mayor was not “immoral,” it can still be considered as a “criminal offense” pursuant to the existing “public policy.”

Likewise, the SC also affirmed the decision of the Sandiganbayan that a fine should be imposed against the mayor in the amount of P1,698, which was half of the amount of food illegally distributed to the calamity victims. (MNS)