By Czarina Nicole Ong Ki
The Sandiganbayan Fourth Division has denied the motion for leave to file demurrer to evidence filed by Socorro Mayor Ma. Fe Villar Brondial in relation to her breach of conduct charges for failure to file her statement of assets liabilities and net worth (SALN) for the years 1998 to 2007.
She was slapped with 10 counts of violation of Section 8 of R.A. 6713, also known as the Code of Conduct and Ethical Standards for Public Officials.
In her motion, Brondial said that the evidence of the prosecution failed to prove beyond reasonable doubt that she committed a violation. She explained that the court cannot consider the certifications of the prosecution witnesses – particularly Municipal General Services Officer Lowelyn Ylagan and Administrative Assistant Arnel Larrobis – because they did not take the stand to testify on the documents’ authenticity.
However, the court saw no merit in her argument. “From the foregoing, the Court considers the prosecution’s adduced evidence as prima facie sufficient to sustain the charge for violation of Section 8 of R.A. No. 6713 as against accused Brondial, and if the same remains unrebutted, it can support a finding of guilt beyond reasonable doubt,” the resolution said.
“Under the circumstances, it is imperative upon said accused to present her evidence in order to counter the charges against her,” it added.
The four-page resolution was written by Associate Justice Reynaldo Cruz with the concurrence of Chairperson Alex Quiroz and Associate Justice Bayani Jacinto.