Ex-Caloocan mayor Echiverri gets another graft acquittal

Adrian Ayalin, ABS-CBN News

Posted at Jun 25 2019 02:41 PM

Former Caloocan Mayor Enrico Echiverri gestures in this file photo. Jay Directo, AFP

MANILA -- Former Caloocan mayor Enrico Echiverri has been acquitted by the Sandiganbayan in another graft case -- this time, involving a P4.86-million road and drainage improvement project. 

Echiverri, along with city officials Edna Centeno and Jesusa Garcia, were accused of graft because the project in Barangay Bagong Silang allegedly lacked prior authorization from the city council. 

Centeno and Garcia were also accused of falsification of public documents involving the Allotment and Obligation Slip for the project. 

The Sandiganbayan 5th Division, in a decision promulgated last June 13, noted that state auditors lifted the notice of disallowance against the project after the “defect of lack of prior authorization had been cured” through a city council resolution. 

After this, Ombudsman Samuel Martires withdrew similar graft cases concerning other infrastructure projects that are part of P979-million disbursements from a Land Bank of the Philippines loan, the court said. 

"The court is convinced based on all the foregoing especially in light of the supervening events mentioned in the OMB Memorandum, and on the judicial notice thereof, that the guilt of the accused cannot be proven beyond reasonable doubt," the resolution read. 

Division Chairperson Rafael Lagos penned the resolution, with the concurrence of Associate Justices Maria Theresa Mendoza-Arcega and Maryann Corpus-Mañalac.

With the acquittal of the former city officials, the court ordered the release of the bonds they posted related to the cases, and the lifting their hold departure orders. 

The Sandiganbayan earlier acquitted Echiverri from graft charges in connection with an P8-million road and drainage construction project in Caloocan's Barangay 178. The Supreme Court affirmed the ruling last year.