Sandiganbayan affirms validity of graft raps vs ex-Postmaster General

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    FORMER Postmaster General Maria Josefina dela Cruz failed in her bid to have the Sandiganbayan dismiss four criminal charges filed against her by the Office of the Ombudsman last August 16.

    Declaring that there is no defect in form or ambiguity to the nature of the offense charged, the anti-graft court’s Fifth Division denied the defendant’s motion to quash.

    Dela Cruz is facing two counts each of graft and unlawful appointment of a government personnel in relation to her designation of PhilPost officer Esther Cabigao to the position of Director III on September 1, 2011 and Department Manager III on November 29, 2013.

    The court noted that in both instances, the Civil Service Commission nullified the appointment for lack of eligibility which gave the appointee “unwarranted benefit, advantage of preference.”

    The Ombudsman said Dela Cruz had prior knowledge that Cabigao “did not possess the required education, training and experience qualifications for the said position” but still approved her designation to the posts.

    In denying the defendant’s motion, the Sandiganbayan reminded Dela Cruz that she should have raised the said challenges before she was arraigned on the four criminal charges last September 13, 2019.

    It reminded the defense that based on the Supreme Court ruling in the 2014 case of People vs Andrade, the prosecution is allowed to amend the information where there is regarding the sufficiency of the complaint or the information.

    This is to avoid the necessity of appealing the case later on technical ground when the pending may still be easily amended.

    Dela Cruz is also facing other criminal charges involving 15 counts of alleged violation of RA 8291 or the Government Service Insurance (GSIS) Act of 1997 together Zamboanga City Postal Area 10 director Bernardito Gonzales and PPC accountant Arlene Bendanillo.

    Complainant Santos Jose Pamatong Jr. said his loan amortizations amounting to P2,345.23 per month covering the period from December 2011 to February 2013 were not delivered to the GSIS on time even if, under the law, the payments were supposed to be credited to his account within 30 days from due date.

    The cases were filed in January 2017 and are now being heard before the Seventh Division.