Court finds sufficient evidence vs ex-Coast Guard execs in P10-M deal

Adrian Ayalin, ABS-CBN News

Posted at Nov 04 2019 05:08 PM

The Sandiganbayan 2nd Division said there is sufficient evidence against former Philippine Coast Guard officials led by former Commandant Rodolfo Isorena, which may lead to their conviction for violation of the Government Procurement Reform Act.

In a resolution dated October 21, 2019, the anti-graft court denied the motions for leave to file demurrer to evidence of Isorena, as well as other PCG officials namely William Arquero, Rommel Supangan, John Esplana, Joeven Fabul, Ramond Lopez and Rogelio Caguioa.

Without a granted motion for leave, an accused is deemed to have waived his right to present evidence if his demurrer or dismissal plea is denied and the case is automatically submitted for decision.

“The testimonial and documentary evidence presented by the prosecution, unless successfully rebutted by the accused, appear to be prima facie sufficient to support a finding of guilt beyond reasonable doubt,” the court said in the resolution penned by Associate Justice Lorifel Lacap Pahimna, with the concurrence of Division Chairperson Oscar Herrera, Jr. and Associate Justice Michael Frederick Musngi.

Based on the investigation done by the Office of the Ombudsman, the PCG officials were involved in the allegedly unlawful procurement of P68 million in office supplies in 2014, which led to the filing of multiple counts of graft and violation of procurement law cases.

The violation of procurement law cases involve P10.069 million funds used to buy cellular phone cards, cleaning materials, hardware and groceries.

In their motions for leave, the accused stated that the cases against them should be dismissed based on insufficiency of evidence.

Accused Supangan noted that there was no splitting of contracts as shopping is prescribed in the Annual Procurement Plan of the PCG.

The prosecution however insisted that the arguments of the accused are better raised during trial as splitting was done into two to three payments for cellular phone cards as shown in the receipts.

The related graft cases of the accused were recently dismissed by the 4th Division after the withdrawal of the prosecution following a Court of Appeals ruling exonerating the officials in their administrative cases.