By Czarina Nicole Ong
Former Daanbantayan Mayor Ma. Luisa Judal Loot of Cebu is asking permission from the Sandiganbayan Seventh Division to file her demurrer to evidence in relation to her graft and malversation charges.
A demurrer to evidence is an act contesting that the prosecution’s evidence is not sufficient to render a guilty verdict. If the court approves it, then the case is dropped.
Loot was charged for violation of Section 3(e) of R.A. 3019 or the Anti-Graft and Corrupt Practices Act and Article 217 of the Revised Penal Code together with private individual Samuel P. Moralde, due to the reportedly anomalous loan given to the RBA Quail Raisers Association (RBA).
She said in her motion that the prosecution “miserably failed” to prove their guilt beyond reasonable doubt, since there is no proof RBA is not qualified to receive the loan in the first place.
Loot explained that the memorandum of agreement (MOA) she entered into with RBA in behalf of the LGU is not wanting in essential terms and conditions, since it is “padded with several protective provisions advantageous to the LGU’s interests.”
She added that the Sangguniang Bayan of Daanbantayan passed the resolution nos. 2007-38 and 2007-48 allowing the loan to RBA even before the execution of the MOA.
Lastly, she cannot be faulted for failing to impose the provisions of the MOA against RBA because she was no longer the mayor on June 30, 2007 – just four months after the grant of the loan.
On February 28, 2007, Loot was accused of taking advantage of her official position and conspiring with Moralde, Chairman of the RBA, when she gave him financial assistance in the form of a loan without first securing the authority from the Sangguniang Bayan of Daanbantayan.
The loan, amounting to P500,000, was released to RBA even if the RBA was not an accredited organization at the time of the execution of the memorandum of agreement (MOA).
Loot was also faulted for neglecting to conduct periodic monitoring and evaluation to ascertain the operation of Moralde’s quail egg farming. She also failed “to ensure the proper utilization of public funds and to enforce RBA/Moralde’s contractual obligations or intervene and institute corrective measures to safeguard said funds,” the charge sheet read.
Moralde also failed to pay back the loan and submit evidence showing that the public funds were indeed used for its intended purpose.