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Flash Report

Former Cortes Mayor Sentenced to 48 years for Graft and Falsification

The Sandiganbayan has sentenced former Cortes mayor Apolinaria Balistoy to up to 48 years in prison after finding her guilty of graft and falsification of public documents.

Balistoy was convicted of falsifying her attendance in seminars to get reimbursements totaling P105,000 from the municipal funds in 2010. She also brought her son to the seminars, who was not a public official or employee.

The anti-graft court said that the prosecution was able to prove that the documents Balistoy submitted were falsified, as they were signed by a Civil Service Commission officer who had retired before the year of her travel.

Balistoy was also found guilty of five counts of the complex crime of malversation of public funds through falsification of public documents.

For the graft offense, Balistoy was sentenced to six to eight years in prison with the accessory penalty of perpetual disqualification from holding public office.

For the crime of falsification, Balistoy was sentenced to four to 10 years in prison and ordered to pay a fine of P5,000.

For the crime of malversation through falsification, Balistoy was sentenced to six years in prison for each count and ordered to pay a fine of P105,000 with an interest of 6% per annum until fully paid.

She was also ordered to refund the Cortes municipal government the amount of P105,000 with an interest of 6% per annum until fully paid.

Balistoy has been in hiding since the cases were filed in 2017 and when the court issued a warrant of arrest and a hold departure order against her.

She was arrested by the National Bureau of Investigation in 2017, but was released after posting bail.

She fled the country again in 2023, reportedly as an airline crew member on a special flight. Her destination was not known.

The Bureau of Immigration has coordinated with the Interpol to locate and extradite Balistoy to face her conviction.