Sandiganbayan denies demurrer of ex-NAPOCOR official

Published July 19, 2019, 3:31 PM

by Francine Ciasico

By Czarina Nicole Ong-Ki

The Sandiganbayan Second Division has denied the demurrer to evidence filed by former National Power Corporation (NAPOCOR) President and Chief Executive Officer Rogelio Murga because he failed to show how the prosecution’s evidence was insufficient to prove his guilt.

Sandiganbayan (FACEBOOK)
Sandiganbayan (FACEBOOK)

Murga has been slapped with two counts for violating Section 3(e) of R.A. 3019 or the Anti-Graft and Corrupt Practices Act and another two counts violating Article 217 paragraph 4 of the Revised Penal Code, otherwise known as malversation.

Murga and his co-accused, Chairman of the Committee on Contract Expiration on Insurance Capacities Alberto Guanzon, were accused of releasing P9.55 million from NAPOCOR’s account to Ganda Energy and Holdings Inc. (GEHI) to a certain Ms. Kaw Swee Tuan or S.T. Kay & Company, an unauthorized entity, back on March 19, 2003.

The very next day, they released P114.89 million in favor of the same individual or company even though they “are not authorized to do considering the nature of their duties,” their charge sheets read.

On May 22, Murga filed his demurrer to evidence with the court’s permission. A demurrer to evidence contests that the prosecution’s evidence is not sufficient enough to render a guilty verdict. If the court approves it, then the case is dropped.

But in this case, Murga’s demurrer filed. He argued that the testimony of witness James Calleja, the National Bureau of Investigation (NBI) Special Investigator, was hearsay since he did not have personal knowledge of the facts of the case.

He added that the prosecution wanted to make it appear that S.T. Kay & Company was not authorized to act on behalf of GEHI in its claims against NPC, but there was no evidence refuting this.

As for his malversation charge, Murga insisted that the prosecution failed to prove how he took or misappropriated public funds. He also said that there was no proof of damages caused to the government since there was no audit report to show that payments were not due. There likewise wasn’t any demand for him to return the payments made.

Unfortunately for him, the anti-graft court did not see things his way. “After circumspect review of the evidence presented by the prosecution, the Court is not persuaded to grant the instant demurrer to evidence,” the resolution read.

“The arguments raised by the accused constitute matters which are best appreciated in the course of trial on the merits of this case,” it added.

The seven-page resolution was penned by Associate Justice Michael Frederick Musngi with the concurrence of Chairperson Oscar Herrera Jr. and Associate Justice Lorifel Pahimna.