Sandiganbayan keeps ex-Napocor official from challenging evidence

By Czarina Nicole Ong

The Sandiganbayan Second Division rejected the motion for leave to file demurrer to evidence filed by former National Power Corporation (Napocor) officials to challenge the evidence in their graft and malversation charges in relation to the anomalous payments made to a foreign representative.

Former Napocor President and Chief Executive Officer Rogelio Murga and former Chair of the Company’s Committee on Contract Expiration on Insurance Capacities Alberto Guanzon were slapped with two graft and two malversation charges each for the payments they made in favor of Singapore national Kaw Swee Tuan, owner of S.T. Kay and Company, an “unauthorized entity,” amounting to around P124 million back in 2003.

Graft Investigation and Prosecution Officer I Lucielo Ramirez Jr. said in the charge sheet that the accused “are not authorized to do considering the nature of their duties, thus misappropriating public funds.”

Guanzon filed a motion for leave to file demurrer to evidence, contending that the evidence presented by the prosecution failed to prove all the elements of the offenses charged.

However, the anti-graft court was not convinced.

“After a meticulous review of the records, the court finds that the evidence adduced by the prosecution, testimonial and documentary, as well as the admission and stipulations on record, are prima facie sufficient for conviction of accused Guanzon of the crimes charged, unless successfully rebutted by defense evidence,” the resolution read.

The three-page resolution was penned by Chairperson Oscar Herrera Jr. with the concurrence of Associate Justices Michael Frederick Musngi and Lorifel Pahimna.
A demurrer to evidence is an act contesting that the prosecution’s evidence is not sufficient to render a guilty verdict. If the court approves it, then the case is dropped.

Guanzon can still file his demurrer. However, doing so means he is waiving his right to present his own evidence and the case would be submitted for resolution.