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Ricketts appeals graft conviction.

By Czarina Nicole Ong Ki

Former Optical Media Board (OMB) Chairman Ronald Naldo "Ronnie" Ricketts is appealing his graft conviction before the Sandiganbayan Fourth Division, as he urged the anti-graft court to set aside its guilty ruling and acquit him.

On March 15, the Fourth Division sentenced Ricketts to six to eight years imprisonment due to the anomalous release of confiscated DVDs and VCDs back in 2010.

The confiscated boxes of DVDs and VCDs from Sky High Marketing were said to have been released to the raided establishment that same day, and no charges were filed against the company.

Ricketts was convicted alongside OMB Enforcement and Inspection Division (EID) Computer Operator Glenn Perez. They were also slapped with perpetual disqualification from holding public office.

On the other hand, EID Head Manuel Mangubat and EID investigation agent Joseph Arnaldo were acquitted of their graft charge due to the failure of the prosecution to prove their guilt beyond reasonable doubt.

In his motion for reconsideration (MR), Ricketts argued that the prosecution's evidence did not support how he acted with evident bad faith and manifest partiality.

The court said in its assailed decision that Ricketts caused the release of the seized items sometime between 9 to 10 p.m. of May 27, 2010. The fact that the release was made without the requisite gate pass way past office hours was a "conscious and willful disregard of the law and OMB protocols."

However, Ricketts said the court came to this conclusion based on the testimony of Pedro Gazzingan, the security guard on duty that night, which is "pure hearsay and has no probative value."

"Indeed, Gazzingan's entire testimony is bereft of any allegation and assertion that he personally heard or saw accused Ricketts giving the direct and specific order to...bring out the items inside the OMB compound," the MR stated.

In fact, Ricketts said in his MR that it was Valenzuela, who permitted the release of the confiscated items. Gazzingan testified that "he never allowed the taking out of items from the OMB without a gate pass except on May 27, 2010."

The MR stressed that this deviation from OMB policy, absent any clear instruction from Ricketts himself, is patently the act of Gazzingan alone.

At the same time, Ricketts argued that the anti-graft court's conclusion that he gave unwarranted benefit, preference or advantage to Sky High Marketing was without factual and legal basis. He stressed that he did not cause undue injury to the government.

"Considering the failure of the prosecution to present admissible and credible evidence against the accused to prove his guilt beyond reasonable doubt, the Honorable Court is duty-bound to reverse the assailed decision and accordingly, acquit accused Ricketts," the MR stated.

CAPTION(S):

Ronald Naldo "Ronnie" Ricketts (MANILA BULLETIN FILE PHOTO)

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Title Annotation:National
Publication:Manila Bulletin
Date:Apr 6, 2019
Words:463
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