Sandiganbayan willing to cut short court proceedings for graft case vs former PCG commander

Published July 31, 2020, 8:07 PM

by Ben Rosario

The Sandiganbayan is willing to cut short the court proceedings for the graft case filed against former Philippine Coast Guard Admiral Wilfredo Tamayo who recently failed in his bid to challenge the sufficiency of evidence in the case involving P9.5 million in allegedly fraudulent supply and equipment for Coast Guard rescue teams in 2010.

In a resolution rejecting Tamayo’s Motion for Leave to File Demurrer to Evidence, the Sandiganbayan Fourth Division said Tamayo may still pursue the demurrer  without prior leave of court “but subject to the legal consequence under Section 23, Rule 119 of the Rules of Court.’

The anti-graft division chaired by Associate Justice Alex L. Quiroz said Tamayo should be willing to “waive his right to present evidence and submit this case for judgment on the basis of the evidence adduced by the prosecution.”

However, Tamayo may still appeal the rejection of his motion where he assailed the prosecution evidence as being insufficient.

Information filed in 2018 before the Sandiganbayan alleged that Tamayo committed graft for authorizing payment of P10.64 million to a supplier notwithstanding the short delivery of ordered supplies and equipment.

Prosecution records showed the Philippine Coast Guard issued a purchase order (PO) to Joshwell Trading for the delivery of various operational supplies and equipment worth P11.244 million in 2008.

The items were to be used for the “training, activation, and equipment” of Task Force Special Maritime Advance Rescue Team (TF SMART).

However when audited, it turned out that the delivered items were short of P9.95 million when compared to the purchase order.  It allegedly turned out that only 204 items out of the 1,319 listed in the PO were delivered.

Lt. Ramus Alvarez, TF Smart supply officer, testified that he only received items that were listed in the inventory report but not all the supplies and equipment in the purchase order.

In contesting the evidence presented by the prosecution, Tamayo claimed that counsel’s objections to the testimony of Ramus were sustained by the court so that “almost nothing” was left of his judicial affidavit.

The former PCG commander argued that Ramus never declared that that the supposedly missing items were delivered to him.

The court thumbed down his motion.

 “A perusal of the prosecution’s Comment and/or Opposition vis-a-vis pieces of evidence that were admitted by this Court reveals that, at least on their face, such pieces of evidence sufficiently establish the crime charged,” the Sandiganbayan said.

Nevertheless, the court stressed that the resolution may not be taken as a pronouncement on the merits of the pending case or as a determination of the accused’s guilt.

“To reiterate, the present resolution is a mere prima facie finding of the sufficiency of evidence and does not, in any way, lead to a conclusion of either the guilt or innocence of the accused” the anti-graft magistrates said.