No new trial for graft convict

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    FORMER Negros Oriental provincial administrator Richard Enojo has failed to persuade the Sandiganbayan to reopen the trial of his conviction for a graft charge on Oct. 18, 2019.

    In its 15-page resolution dated Feb. 12, 2020, the anti-graft court’s Fifth Division denied Enojo’s motion to reopen the case couched on his claim that he can present newly discovered evidence that will prevent “a miscarriage of justice.”

    The court held that the document the defendant relied on “proves nothing to warrant a reopening for the reception of further proof or evidence in this case.”

    Associate Justice and Fifth Division chairman Rafael R. Lagos penned the resolution with Associate Justices Maria Theresa V. Mendoza-Arcega and Maryann E. Corpus-Mañalac concurring.

    Enojo was found guilty of violation of section 3 (a) of the Anti-Graft and Corrupt Practices Act (RA 3019) for using his public position to “persuade, induce, or influence” the local police to compel three private individuals to attend a conference with him regarding a land dispute in the municipality of Dauin, Negros Oriental in 2013.

    In convicting the accused, the Sandiganbayan pointed out that “even the courts may not issue such summons or notice for a conference … absent an actual case before it.”

    It said Enojo used the local police on a “fishing expedition” regardless of the “trauma, fear, harassment or intimidation it may cause” to the people who were summoned.

    He was sentenced to six to eight years of imprisonment with perpetual disqualification from holding another public post.

    In his appeal, Enojo’s defense lawyers claimed there was a draft of a radio message from the Dauin police showing that it was the chief of police “who suggested to send out the invitations” rather than the accused.

    Enojo claimed the prosecution, witness SPO4 Proculito Briones, and Dauin police chief Enreque (sic) Asonio knew of the existence of the said draft radio message but withheld such information from him.

    He said if the evidence is admitted, it is bound to change the outcome of the case since it would show that the Dauin police chief’s suggestion that a radio message be sent had to be of his own volition.

    The court was unimpressed.

    The Sandiganbayan said the draft does not prove that his request was forwarded to the Dauin police chief; that the later lied when he testified under oath that he was unaware of the incident; that the chief of police approved it; or that there was any basis to accuse the prosecution of bad faith.

    “Clearly, there is nothing in Annex ‘I’ to indicate, much less prove the claim of accused-movant. The draft itself proves nothing to warrant a reopening for the reception of further proof or evidence,” the court ruled.