By Czarina Nicole Ong Ki
The Sandiganbayan Seventh Division refused to let former officials of Caramoan, Camarines Sur file a demurrer to evidence in their falsification case since the prosecution managed to prove all of the elements of the crime.
Former mayor Constantino Huit Cordial Jr., former vice mayor Irene Breis, and Sangguniang Bayan secretary Danilo Obias Belleza were charged with two counts of violation of Article 171 Paragraph 2 of the Revised Penal Code.
The charges were filed since the accused reportedly provided wrong information in a city resolution back in 2014.
The three of them each filed their respective motions for leave to file demurrer to evidence. A demurrer to evidence seeks to challenge the prosecution’s evidence as insufficient to render a guilty verdict.
In his motion, Cordial Jr. argued that the prosecution failed to prove all the elements of falsification, and the prosecution also “failed to rebut the constitutional presumption of [his] innocence.”
He added that the documentary and testimonial evidence was unsuccessful in proving that he conspired with Belleza and Breis, and there is no way he can be held liable for falsification since his function was only ministerial.
Meanwhile, Belleza and Breis reiterated Cordial Jr.’s argument that the evidence presented was insufficient to convict them.
Unfortunately for the accused, the anti-graft court saw otherwise. “The allegation on the failure to prove the elements of Article 177 paragraph 2 of the Revised Penal Code cannot be appreciated,” the resolution read.
The nine-page resolution was penned by Associate Justice Georgina Hidalgo with the concurrence of Chairperson Ma. Theresa Dolores Gomez-Estoesta and Associate Justice Zaldy Trespeses.
On March 24, 2014, the three accused reportedly falsified Resolution No. 48, series of 2014 entitled “Resolution Earnestly Requesting His Excellency President Benigno Simeon Aquino III for Immediate Removal of the Task Force Sagip Kalikasan in the Entire Municipality of Caramoan, Province of Camarines Sur.”
That same day, they also approved Resolution 48-A for the same request, only this time addressed to former Department of Interior and Local Government (DILG) Secretary Mar Roxas.
In the official documents, the accused made it appear that councilors Eduardo Bonita, Lydia Obias, and Francis Benemerito participated and attended in the deliberations of the said resolutions and that it was unanimously approved by all the members of the Sangguniang Bayan.
But in truth, the accused knew that the three councilors were not present during deliberation, nor was the resolution unanimously approved by the city council.