Three former officials of the Department of Finance-One Stop Shop Inter-Agency Tax Credit and Drawback Center have been cleared by the Sandiganbayan on charges of graft and falsification of public documents pertaining to the alleged fraudulent issuance of tax credit certificates in 1996.
Acquitted on reasonable doubt were former DOF Center deputy executive director Uldarico Andutan, Net Local Content/Net Value Earned and Domestic Capital Equipment officer-in-charge Raul de Vera, and senior tax specialist Brandy L. Marzan.
Associate Justice Lorifel Lacap Pahimna penned the 34-page resolution concurred in by Associate Justices Oscar C. Herrera Jr. and Michael Frederick L. Musngi.
The Sandiganbayan Second Division said the prosecution evidence fell short of establishing the existence of all the key elements of the criminal offense alleged, particularly conspiracy among all the accused.
Based on information filed in 2011, the Office of the Ombudsman accused the DOF officials of giving unwarranted benefit, advantage or preference to bus company Triffman Liner by approving its application for TCC worth P2.4 million, saying the transport firm’s acquisition of five bus units in 1995 did not comply with the requirement to choose a domestic manufacturer.
Prosecutors said the buses were purchased from PhilHino Sales Corp. and not from local builder Pilipinas Hino Inc.
Defendants allegedly submitted falsified information in the evaluation report for Tax Credit Application by making it appear that the bus units were acquired from Pilipinas Hino Inc.
In acquitting the defendants, the court said that contrary to the stand of the prosecution, Triffman Liner Corp. was found to be entitled to the tax credit incentive.
“The pieces of evidence presented before the Court categorically shows that Triffman Liner Corp. acquired the subject bus units from PhilHino Sales Corporation, which is the exclusive dealer of Pilipinas Hino Inc. for a certain period in Luzon,” the Sandiganbayan said.
Testimony was submitted during trial that it was Pilipinas Hino that manufactured the body of the buses based on the specifications given by Triffman Liner.
“The foregoing then gives an impression to the Court that Triffman Liner acquired the subject bus units indirectly from PHI, a domestic manufacturer, through its dealer, PHSC under a dealership agreement,” the court added.