Sandiganbayan: Enough evidence in graft raps vs ex-Bukidnon rep

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    THE Sandiganbayan has affirmed the sufficiency of evidence presented by the prosecution in support of its allegations in two counts of graft and two counts of malversation charges against former Bukidnon Rep. Candido Pancrudo and his co-accused.

    Denying motions by the defendants seeking leave of court to file demurrers to evidence, the Fifth Division said the accused have to present their evidence in a full trial to refute the charges against them.

    Based on the indictment approved by former Ombudsman Conchita Carpio Morales in 2015, graft investigators said P7.954 million of Pancrudo’s Priority Development Assistance Fund (PDAF) allocations went into the National Agribusiness Corp. (Nabcor), a government-owned or controlled corporation chosen as implementing agency for livelihood project.

    They said the sum was transferred to the Uswag Pilipinas Foundation Inc. (UPFI), a non-government organization as project partner,

    However, investigators questioned the lack of public bidding even as the lawmaker and Nabcor officials were held liable for failing to verify the NGO’s actual existence and capacity to deliver.

    Named co-accused of Pancrudo in two counts each of graft and malversation are Nabcor ex-president Alan Javellana, director for finance Rhodora Mendoza, accounting division OIC Maria Ninez Guañizo, paralegal Victor Roman Cacal, and UPFI president Mark Espinosa.

    The cases against Pancrudo were among the few that did not include any of the NGOs linked to alleged PDAF scam mastermind Janet Lim-Napole, who was earlier convicted of plunder by another division.

    “After due consideration of the arguments of the parties, including a review of the informations and records of these cases, the Court finds that based on the evidence thus offered by the prosecution, if unrebutted…the same is sufficient to support a finding of guilt beyond reasonable doubt against the accused herein,” the Sandiganbayan declared.