By Czarina Nicole Ong-Ki
The Sandiganbayan Sixth Division has denied the bid of Limay Mayor Nelson David of Bataan and three of his co-accused to challenge the prosecution’s evidence as insufficient to support a conviction in the graft case filed against them.
David was charged for violations of Section 3(e) and (g) of R.A. 3019 or the Anti-Graft and Corrupt Practices Act together with three officials of the Department of Public Works and Highways (DPWH) 1st District Engineering Office. They are Municipal Assessor Jocelyn Linao, Municipal Treasurer Felicidad Cruz, and Engineer Rolando Flores.
Their graft charges are due to the municipality’s reportedly overpriced purchase of agricultural land owned by the mayor’s sons Richie Jayson and Christian Ryan David, who were also part of the Municipal Appraisal Committee.
David’s sons appraised the land at P10,180,380 by referencing the valuation set for residential land and not as agricultural land as indicated in its tax declaration back in October 2002. As a result, the municipality purchased the land at this overvalued appraisal.
David filed his motion for leave to file demurrer on July 1, while Linao, Cruz and Flores filed theirs on July 2.
David tried to shake off the blame by reasoning that the Municipal Appraisal Committee came up with an independent report, and it was the municipal council that authorized him to purchase the lots owned by his sons.
Meanwhile, Linao, Cruz and Flores hinged their motion on the argument that the prosecution’s documentary and testimonial evidence are insufficient to prove conspiracy and their guilt beyond reasonable doubt.
They added that the Municipal Appraisal Report dated October 1, 2002 was only recommendatory and was approved by the municipal council of Limay.
But after a thorough review of their motions and the evidence formally offered by the prosecution, the court ruled that “if unrebutted, the same is sufficient to support a verdict of guilt” for graft.
The court said David and the others were still free to file their demurrers. However, doing so, it would mean that they are waiving their right to present evidence, and the case would be submitted for judgment with only the evidence adduced by the prosecution.
The three-page resolution was written by Associate Justice Karl Miranda with the concurrence of Chairperson Sarah Jane Fernandez and Associate Justice Kevin Narce Vivero.