Sandiganbayan allows Elenita Binay to file demurrer

Published March 21, 2019, 12:46 PM

by Patrick Garcia

By Czarina Nicole Ong-Ki

The Sandiganbayan Fifth Division has allowed former Makati Mayor Dr. Elenita Binay, wife of former Vice President Jejomar “Jojo” Binay, to challenge the evidence of the prosecution in her overpriced furniture and partitions case.


This was after her motion for leave to file demurrer to evidence was granted by the anti-graft court in a resolution promulgated on March 12.

Binay is facing a graft charge together with former Sangguniang Panglungsod member Salvador Pangilinan, former city administrator Luz Yamane, former treasurer Ernesto Aspillaga, and several others due to the reportedly anomalous purchase of furniture and partitions from September to November 1999.

They awarded the contract for the supply and delivery of Panel Fabric Partition and Connector Brackets for the furnishing of the New City Hall of Makati to Li Yee Shing, Jason Li, and Vivian Edurise – all officers of Office Gallery International Inc. – seven days in advance of the alleged date of bidding.

As a result, furniture and partitions amounting to P21,536,873.07 were purchased in excess, so Office Gallery International received unwarranted benefits amounting to P72,065,037.25.

In her motion for leave to file demurrer to evidence, Binay contested that neither the documentary evidence in the case, nor the testimonies of the prosecution witnesses, can justify conviction at this stage.

She argued that her charge sheet failed to show conspiracy among all of the accused, which was why the case against private individual Edurise was quashed.

“Upon the respectful submission that the prosecution failed to discharge its burden of overcoming the constitutional presumption of innocence in that it failed to present evidence that will prove the guilt of the accused beyond reasonable doubt, herein accused is entitled to file a demurrer to evidence,” her motion read.

After a thorough consideration of the prosecution’s evidence, the Sandiganbayan felt inclined to grant Binay’s motion.

To recall, the prosecution earlier moved to discharge Aspillaga to be a state witness. However, the anti-graft court denied this move on August 22, 2018.

“By filing the aforesaid motion to discharge, the prosecution impliedly admitted that there was an absolute necessity for the testimony of Aspillaga and that there was no other direct evidence available to prove the culpability of accused Binay, except Aspillaga’s testimony,” the court ruled.

“Since Aspillaga’s testimony as state witness was denied admission, there are doubts as to the sufficiency of evidence with respect to accused Binay’s criminal culpability,” it added.

Binay has been given 10 days from notice to file her demurrer to evidence. Should the court grant it, then her case would be dismissed. But if her demurrer to evidence is denied, the trial will proceed without Binay waiving her right to present her own evidence.

The two-page resolution was penned by Chairperson Rafael Lagos with the concurrence of Associate Justices Ma. Theresa Mendoza-Arcega and Maryann Corpus-Manalac.