Malversation evidence upheld vs former Bacolod City mayor

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    THE Sandiganbayan Sixth Division has denied with finality separate motions filed by former Bacolod City mayor Luzviminda Valdez and two co-defendants seeking dissolution of nine cases of malversation of public funds through falsification of public documents.

    “After a careful reevaluation of the documentary and testimonial evidence presented by the prosecution, the Court maintains its conclusion that, if unrebutted, the same is sufficient to support a verdict of guilt against accused,” the anti-graft court declared.

    Associate Justice and Sixth Division chairperson Sarah Jane T. Fernandez penned the 11-page resolution dated October 1, 2019 that denied motions for reconsideration filed by Valdez, Management and Audit Service Office chief Ricardo Dahildahil Jr. and Crafts and Trade staff Brendo Eligio.

    The cases filed in 2012 alleged that Valdez falsified cash slips by changing the amounts written on them to reflect a bigger figure.

    Prosecutors said she received P364,778 even if the actual amount spent was only P2,091.60.

    Also charged were former city accountant Eduardo Ravena and clerk Lalaine Villalva, who were accused of helping Valdez commit fraud despite being aware of irregularities in the documents.

    Dahildahil and Eligio claimed the prosecutors failed to establish the existence of conspiracy between Valdez and the rest of the defendants, saying the disbursement vouchers and its supporting documents were insufficient to prove unity of purpose.

    They likewise argued that they simply acted in good faith in the performance of their official functions and called the court’s attention to the absence of proof that any of them benefitted from the transactions.

    Valdez adopted the arguments of her co-defendants in her own motion assailing the July 24, 2019 resolution.

    The court noted that the appeals were filed beyond the allowable period of 15 days, saying such an infraction warrants an outright denial.

    The Sandiganbayan reminded Valdez and her co-accused to present their defense to rebut the prosecution’s evidence and to notify the court should they opt to file a demurrer to evidence even without leave of court, albeit, with a warning that they would be deemed to have waived their right to present evidence.