By Czarina Nicole Ong-Ki
The Sandiganbayan Sixth Division refused to let former Caloocan City budget officer Jesusa Garcia and city accountant Edna Centeño off the hook from their falsification charge as their motion for reconsideration was denied.
The two of them are the co-accused of former Caloocan City Mayor Enrico Echiverri, who was slapped with a graft charge in relation to the P4.9 million construction of the Proposed Multi-Purpose Hall at Urduja, Barangay 172, Caloocan City.
Echiverri was slapped with a violation of Section 3(e) of R.A. 3019 or the Anti-Graft and Corrupt Practices Act with Garcia and Centeño, who were charged with an additional falsification charge for violation of Article 171, paragraph 4 of the Revised Penal Code.
The three of them were accused of giving unwarranted benefits to C.B. Tampengco Construction from October 2011 to July 2012 when they released P4,901,746.34 worth of public funds to C.B. Tampengco General Manager Carmencita Tampengco. The payment was made even without a specific itemized appropriation and approval from the city council.
On July 17, the anti-graft court granted Echiverri’s demurrer to evidence and partly granted theirs. Echiverri is off the hook, while Garcia and Centeño escaped their graft charge but not their falsification charge.
In their MR, Garcia and Centeño said that the prosecution failed to show that they had criminal intent to pervert the truth when they made their respective certifications in the allotment and obligation slip (ALOBS) dated October 20, 2011.
The two of them added that they did not benefit from the alleged falsification, and more importantly, no damage was caused either to the government or to a third person.
However, the anti-graft court stressed that despite their arguments, there was really no appropriation for the subject project. Plus, falsification of documents under paragraph 1 of Article 172, like Article 171, does not require the idea of gain or the intent to injure a third person as an element of conviction.
“If left unrebutted, the prosecution’s evidence would prove that accused Garcia certified the existence of an appropriation in the subject ALOBS when there was in fact none, and that accused Centeño obligated a non-existent allotment, thereby improperly allowing the disbursement of local funds,” the resolution stated.
The six-page resolution was written by Chairperson Sarah Jane Fernandez with the concurrence of Associate Justices Karl Miranda and Kevin Narce Vivero.