By Czarina Nicole Ong Ki
Former Optical Media Board (OMB) Chairman Ronald Naldo “Ronnie” Ricketts has been convicted by the Sandiganbayan Fourth Division for graft in relation to the anomalous release of confiscated DVDs and VCDs in 2010.
He was convicted alongside OMB Enforcement and Inspection Division (EID) Computer Operator Glenn Perez. They were sentenced to a minimum of six years and one day imprisonment as minimum to eight years imprisonment maximum with perpetual disqualification from holding public office.
On the other hand, EID Head Manuel Mangubat and EID investigation agent Joseph Arnaldo were acquitted of their graft charge due to the failure of the prosecution to prove their guilt beyond reasonable doubt.
Before the promulgation, Ricketts’ lawyer Pedro Tanchuling moved that the case be reopened and that they be given a one-day trial. After some “soul searching,” Ricketts decided to take the witness stand so that the “Honorable Court may be clarified better,” his lawyer said.
They filed the very urgent motion to reopen the case and, hold in abeyance, the promulgation only on Thursday, which the prosecution opposed in open court. Prosecutor Rayman Rafael argued that Ricketts was given reasonable time to present his evidence, but he opted not to do so.
The Fourth Division, headed by Chairperson Alex Quiroz, saw no compelling reason to defer the promulgation. He added that Ricketts has indeed been given enough chances to present his evidence, and he only decided to do so when the case had already been submitted for decision.
“The court finds it to be procedurally improper to still reopen or for the court to give Ricketts [the chance to] give further defense evidence,” Quiroz said.
The decision convicting Ricketts was penned by Associate Justice Bayani Jacinto with the concurrence of Quiroz and Associate Justices Reynaldo Cruz, Karl Miranda, and Ronald Moreno.
After the promulgation, Ricketts posted an additional P30,000 bail since he will appeal his conviction. He was accompanied by his wife, Mariz.
The case stemmed from the confiscated boxes of DVDs and VCDs from Sky High Marketing building in Quezon City sometime on May 2010.
The confiscated items were said to have been released to the raided establishment that same day, and no charges were filed against the company.