Anti-graft court rules Purisima, 16 co-accused to argue corruption case in trial
MANILA, Philippines – The Sandiganbayan ruled against Former PNP Chief Alan La Madrid Purisima and 16 other co-accused in a 3-year-old graft case filed against them, adding the defendants would have to argue their case and present evidence in a trial to prove their innocence.
Prosecutors said the accused PNP officials gave undue preference to Werfast Documentation Agency, which was awarded a contract to handle deliveries of firearms permits and licenses. This, even though Werfast wasn't duly accredited as a courier service according to government regulations.
In a resolution dated June 13, but released only on Monday, July 15, the Sandiganbayan Sixth DIvision denied 11 separate motions filed by the defendants, who asked for the leave of court to file demurrers to evidence which would challenge the sufficiency of documentary and testimonal evidence presented by the prosecution to support its case.
If a leave of court was granted, the accused could try to attack the relevance and materiality of given evidence by prosecutors and attempt to convince the anti-graft court that they cannot overcome the constitutional presumption of innocence. The defense could also present evidence to refute the allegations and prove the existence of reasonable doubt even in the case of an adverse ruling.
The Sandiganbayan, however, ruled against the motions and has previously dismissed earlier challenges made by the defendants as it related to the validity of the indictment, the sufficiency of evidence, and the existence of probable cause.
“After carefully reviewing the accused’ respective Motions and the prosecution’s evidence, this Court resolves to deny the motions of the accused,” the Sandiganbayan said.
Aside from Purisima, the graft charge also included the following names:
- former PNP Civil Security Group chief Gil C. Meneses
- former Firearms and Explosives Office (FEO) chief Raul D. Petrasanta
- Former FEO chief Napoleon R. Estilles
- former FEO assistant head Allan A. Parreño
- former Firearms Licensing Division (FLD) chief Eduardo P. Acierto
- former Education and Enforcement Management Division (EEMD) chief Melchor V. Reyes
- FLD assistant chief Lendel J. Fabia
- FLD section chief Sonia C. Calixto
- FEO-I&E assistant chief Ricardo Zapata Jr.
- FEO-Inspection and Enforcement Section chief Nelson L. Bautista
- servicing legal officer Ford G. Tuazon
Private defendants also named in the case were the following Werfast executives:
- Mario Juan
- Salud Bautista
- Enrique S. Valerio
- Lorna Perena
- Juliana Pasia
The Sandiganbayan's ruling also says the defendants may still choose to file demurrers to evidence but they would have to do so without leave of court. This is seen as risky, as they will be deemed to have waived their right to present evidence in the event that the court might rule against them.
The court ruling is still subject to appeal, even if trial dates for the defense presentation have been set for this month. – Rappler.com