CamNor execs walk on graft charges


    FOR failure of the prosecution to prove conspiracy as well as manifest partiality, evident bad faith, or gross inexcusable negligence, the Sandiganbayan has thrown out two graft charges filed in 2017 against former provincial officials of Camarines Norte.

    In an 18-page resolution promulgated October 23, 2019 but released only last week, the Sandiganbayan Second Division granted separate demurrers to evidence filed by former provincial treasurer Lorna Coreses, provincial agriculturist Rodolfo Salamero, and general services officer Jose Rene Rudeira.

    The three, all members of the provincial government’s Bids and Award Committee (BAC), were named co-accused of the late Gov. Jesus Typoco in two charges for alleged violation of Section 3 (e) of RA 3019 or the Anti-Graft and Corrupt Practices Act in connection with the alleged anomalous procurement of agricultural inputs worth P1 million in 2004.

    Prosecutors charged the accused provincial officials of favoring supplier MDB Agrovet and General Merchandise with two contracts to deliver Kaneko vegetable seeds worth P499,917 in the first one and P499,750 for the next approved just one day apart on May 13 and 14, 2004.

    Investigators said no public bidding was conducted in violation of RA 9184 or the Government Procurement Reform Law and the purchase requests and purchase orders were signed even ahead of the release of funds for the said transaction.

    However, the anti-graft court noted that the witnesses presented by the prosecution to testify during the trial admitted that they have no personal knowledge regarding the transactions or the involvement of each defendant.

    Because of this, the Sandiganbayan held that the evidence fell short of the required proof that the accused public officials acted with evident bad faith, manifest partiality or gross inexcusable negligence which is a key element of a graft case.

    “Plaintiff merely relied on the signatures of the accused on the documentary exhibits issued and alleged conspiracy among them in committing the offense charged. Absent sufficient proof to establish any of the element of the crime…the allegation of conspiracy …must likewise necessarily fail,” the court noted.

    It reminded the prosecution of its burden to present proof of guilt beyond reasonable which it failed to discharge hence the defendants need not even present their own evidence.

    “Simply put, the prosecution failed to prove the charges in the instant criminal cases with the required quantum of proof in order to convict. To require the accused to adduce evidence for their defense would therefore be futile and unnecessary,” the Sandiganbayan declared.