By Czarina Nicole Ong
The Sandiganbayan Seventh Division saw no reason for South Cotabato Rep. Pedro Acharon Jr. to challenge the evidence in his graft charge since it believes it is sufficient enough to support a conviction.
Acharon was earlier accused of violating Section 3(e) of Republic Act. 3019 or the Anti-Graft and Corrupt Practices Act in connection with the anomalous cash advances amounting to P1,500,000 and P1,000,000 on May 25, 2006, which was reportedly for the “Pagana Dinner Show and Tambayayong Festival” in Los Angeles, California from June 9 to 16, 2006.
According to his rap sheet, Acharon knew fully well that the amount was intended for 37 individuals, but only 17 were able to participate. As a result, Acharon caused undue injury to the government in the said amount. He was still the mayor of General Santos City when that happened.
Acharon said in his motion for leave to file demurrer to evidence that the prosecution failed to “adduce any grain of evidence” to prove that he acted with manifest partiality, evident bad faith or gross inexcusable negligence when he issued the two cash advances.
At the same time, he argued that there was no proof that the issuance of the checks to GSC Tourism Association Inc. was unlawful.
Acharon also said that prosecution failed to prove that he acted in conspiracy with his co-accused in the issuance of the checks since there was no “factual and physical evidence” that “asserted the element of conspiracy or confederation.”
Filing a demurrer to evidence is an act contesting that the evidence offered in the case is insufficient. However, the anti-graft court saw no reason to allow Acharon to do so.
The court said Acharon’s arguments are issues that are “evidentiary in nature,” and need to be addressed in a full-blown trial. The one demurring challenges the sufficiency of the whole evidence, and all the court needs to do is ascertain whether or not there is competent evidence to sustain the accused’s indictment.
“Gauging from the evidence thus far presented, the court is of the mind that, for now, the pieces of evidence presented by the prosecution are strong enough to support conviction,” the court ruled.
“Hence, there is a need for the accused to present their respective evidence because it is only in doing so that there can be a full appreciation and evaluation of the case,” it added.