By Czarina Nicole Ong Ki
The Sandiganbayan Fifth Division has allowed former Light Rail Transit Authority (LRTA) Administrator Melquiades A. Robles and several others to file a demurrer to evidence in their graft case involving the reportedly irregular hiring of janitors back in 2009.
Robles was accused of violating Section 3(e) of R.A. 3019, the Anti-Graft and Corrupt Practices Act for paying Joint Venture a total of P3,373,808.51 per month for the services of 321 janitors. However, the LRTA only used 219 janitors in the end, therefore modifying the terms of the contract.
Because of Robles and his co-accused, undue injury was caused to the government in the amount of P1,072,615.63 per month or P12,864,615.63 in 2009 alone.
Robles was charged with graft alongside Department Manager Federico J. Canar Jr., Dennis Francisco, Accounting Manager Evelyn L. Macalino, special bids and awards committee chairman Marilou Liscano, administrative department manager Elmo Stephen P. Triste, member Eduardo A. Abiva, Automated Fare Collection System (AFCS) manager Nicholas G. Ombao, procurement services chief Roger L. Vano, division manager Maynard S. Tolosa, HR management officer III Juliet U. Labisto, and private individuals Lilia S. Diaz and Dennis Acorda.
Robles filed his motion for leave to file demurrer, as well as Liscano, Triste, Abiva, Ombao, Labisto, Vano, Tolosa, Francisco, Canar, Macalino, Diaz, and Acorda.
“After a judicious evaluation of the prosecution’s documentary and testimonial evidence, the Court believes that there is sufficient basis to grant leave for the movants to file their respective demurrers,” the resolution stated.
The accused have been given a non-extendible period of 10 days to file their demurrer, while the prosecution is likewise given 10 days after to file their comment.
The five-page resolution dated September 9 was signed by Chairperson Rafael R. Lagos and Associate Justices Maria Theresa Mendoza-Arcega and Maryann Corpus-Mañalac.