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Sandigan denies ex-Eastern Samar town execs' plea to junk evidence in graft case.

The Sandiganbayan has denied the attempt by former Lawaan, Eastern Samar officials to contest evidence presented against them in graft and malversation cases.

The Second Division said in its May 2 resolution that accused former Mayor Candida Gabornes and municipal accountant Pedro Gabornes failed to prove why the prosecution's evidence was allegedly not sufficient.

The two were accused of conspiring with each other in the two separate purchases of spare parts and tires for a Mitsubishi Montero SUV owned by Candida, worth P30,601 and P11,200. Complainants claimed that the purchase and installation of the parts served no public purpose because it was a private vehicle.

In 2014, the Office of the Ombudsman ordered the suspension of Candida and Pedro, along with co-accused municipal treasurer Ruben Baet for the case.

'Accused failed to show that the prosecution's evidence was insufficient to establish a prima facie case against them. The grounds raised by the accused in their motions are best appreciated in the course of trial on the presentation of defense evidence,' the resolution penned by Associate Justice Michael Frederick Musngi said.

According to Candida, the evidence presented against them and the testimonies of a witness - a former city council member - has not proven that the government was disadvantaged in the project.

'According to accused Candida, while the motor vehicle appears in paper to be privately owned by a public official, the said vehicle is in actuality serving the municipality,' the anti-graft court said, relaying parts of the accused's motion.

'Thus, she maintains that the repair and/or maintenance thereof may be legally charged and/or reimbursed from the funds of the municipality, which directly benefitted with the service of the said vehicle,' they added.

This was countered by the prosecution in its own opposition.

'The prosecution maintains that it was able to prove the accused's commission of the crimes charged since it presented evidence that public funds were used for private purpose through falsification of public documents, which eventually caused undue injury to the government,' the court said.

'The prosecution states that it is immaterial whether the vehicle was being used by the municipality of Lawaan since the nature of the vehicle remained to be a private property of accused Candida,' they added.

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Publication:Philippines Daily Inquirer (Makati City, Philippines)
Date:May 8, 2019
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