Sandiganbayan refuses to let ex-Bataan mayor challenge evidence

By Czarina Nicole Ong

The Sandiganbayan Second Division has denied the motion for leave to file demurrer to evidence filed by former Mariveles Mayor Angel Viray Peliglorio from Bataan in relation to his graft charge concerning the reportedly anomalous purchase of land for the local government in 2005.

Filing a demurrer to evidence is an act contesting that the evidence offered in the case is insufficient. If the court grants the demurrer, then the case would be dropped.

Peliglorio was earlier slapped with a violation of Section 3(e) of Republic Act 3019, also known as the Anti-Graft and Corrupt Practices Act for approving the acquisition of several parcels of land comprising 3,777 square meters from a certain Lauro Guansing on April 26, 2006.

He approved the payment in the amount of P1,888,500 despite the lack of Transfer Certificate of Titles (TCTs) of the land and several other important documents to support the transaction.

Peliglorio argued that the evidence presented by the prosecution failed to prove his guilt of the crime charged beyond reasonable doubt. However, the anti-graft court was not convinced by his motion.

"After a careful study, the court finds that the evidence presented by the prosecution, testimonial and documentary, together with stipulations entered into by the parties, appear to be prima facie sufficient for conviction of accused Peliglorio of the crime charged, unless successfully rebutted by defense evidence," the resolution read.

The three-page resolution was penned by Chairman Oscar Herrera Jr. with the concurrence of Associate Justices Michael Frederick Musngi and Lorifel Pahimna.

Peliglorio is still free to file his demurrer. However, doing so means he is waiving his right to present evidence and he will be submitting the case for judgment on the basis of the evidence adduced by the prosecution.