Sandiganbayan: Enough evidence in graft case vs former Navotas solon

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    OMBUDSMAN prosecutors have presented enough evidence to prove allegations in graft and technical malversation charges against former Navotas Rep. Federico Sandoval II and his co-accused who are agriculture officials.

    The Sandiganbayan Second Division made this pronouncement in a resolution issued

    October 14, 2019 denying the defendants’ motions for leave to file demurrer to evidence.

    Associate Justice and division chairman Oscar C. Herrera Jr. penned the seven-page ruling with Associate Justices Michael Frederick L. Musngi and Lorifel Lacap Pahimna concurring.

    “After a meticulous study, the Court finds, and so holds, that the evidence adduced by the prosecution… appear to be prima facie sufficient for conviction of the accused… unless successfully rebutted by defense evidence,” the Sandiganbayan said.

    The cases filed on March 18, 2011 alleged that Sandoval and officials of the Department of Agriculture Regional Field Unit 4 (DA-RFU 4) unlawfully allowed the procurement of a P3 million Tornado Brush Chipper/Shredder using government fund intended for the purchase of fertilizers.

    DA-RFU 4 officials charged with graft and technical malversation together with Sandoval were regional executive director Dennis Araullo, and staff Juvylee Obice, Raymundo Braganza, Lourdes Imperial, Abelardo Bragas, Felix Ramos, Ofelia Montilla, Gregorio Sangalang, Balagtas Torres.

    Private defendant Remus Villanueva, president of LCV Design and Fabrication Corporation was also named co-accused in the graft case.

    Prosecutors said LCV Corp. was a favored supplier since it was awarded the contract even if the patent application for the said equipment has not been approved in May 2004 when the transaction was executed. Likewise, they noted the absence of any public bidding for the purchase.

    Invoking RA No. 8435 or the Agriculture and Fisheries Modernization Act (AFMA), the prosecution said the money was specifically allocated for the purchase of fertilizers for distribution to farmers as a form of assistance.

    In their three separate motions, defendants claimed the prosecution evidence fell short of the degree of proof required to secure a conviction.

    The court disagreed, clarifying in deciding a question on sufficiency of evidence that it is merely required to ascertain whether there is competent or sufficient evidence to sustain the indictment.

    Among those who testified for the prosecution were government auditors as well agriculture and budget officials whose testimonies bolstered the prosecution’s cases.