Sandiganbayan refuses demurrer request of accused PIT officials

Published September 30, 2019, 5:05 PM

by Rica Arevalo

By Czarina Nicole Ong Ki

The Sandiganbayan Second Division has affirmed its decision denying the motion for leave to file demurrer to evidence filed by former and incumbent officials of Palompon Institute of Technology (PIT), a state-run college located in Leyte.

Sandiganbayan (MANILA BULLETIN)
Sandiganbayan (MANILA BULLETIN)

Former PIT President Delia Combista, incumbent President Norbert Oladives, former dean Mateo Duites, Jimmy Combista, incumbent Associate Professor I Dorothy Lipat, and Nidelyn Jorda have been slapped with a violation of Section 3(e) of R.A. 3019 or the Anti-Graft and Corrupt Practices Act.

This was for the reportedly irregular rehabilitation and repair of the PIT Sports Complex back in 2013. They were accused of giving unwarranted benefits and advantages to private company Shanen Enterprise because there was no public bidding conducted, and the rehabilitation was implemented in several phases.

The anti-graft court already denied their motion for leave to file demurrer to evidence on June 20. Filing a demurrer to evidence challenges the prosecution’s evidence as insufficient to render a guilty verdict. Should the court grant it, then the case would be dismissed.

Since their motion was denied, the accused filed a motion for reconsideration on July 19. In it, they maintained that the prosecution failed to prove the allegations in the Information and that the testimonies of their witnesses were not enough to convict them.

Witness Lynette Vanzuela admitted that she was the one who prepared the Annual Procurement Plan of 2013 after consolidating all the Project Procurement Management Plans from the different department heads, unit heads, and office heads.

Rogelio London from the Planning and Development Unit (PADU), which planned the repair of the PIT Sports Complex, admitted that it was he who recommended that the rehabilitation be done in several phases due to lack of stockrooms for the rehabilitation materials.

With these admissions, the accused said they could not have taken advantage of their positions when they subdivided the project and when they resorted to “shopping” as the mode of procurement.

However, the anti-graft court denied the motion for reconsideration because they filed it beyond the five-day reglementary period. Even discounting the procedural lapse, the court likewise stressed that their MR had no merit.

“The Court maintains its finding that the accused failed to show that the prosecution’s evidence was insufficient to establish a prima facie case against them. The grounds thus raised in their motion are best appreciated in the course of trial on the presentation of defense evidence,” the resolution read.

It was written by Associate Justice Michael Frederick Musngi with the concurrence of Chairperson Oscar Herrera Jr. and Associate Justice Lorifel Pahimna.