Sandiganbayan dismisses charges vs 2 PNP generals

Published August 1, 2020, 9:07 PM

by Czarina Nicole Ong Ki

The Sandiganbayan Fourth Division has granted the motion to dismiss filed by way of demurrer to evidence by Philippine National Police (PNP) generals Reynaldo Varilla and Charlemagne Alejandrino who were facing graft and malversation through falsification charges.

A demurrer to evidence is a motion contesting that the prosecution’s evidence is weak and would not be enough to support a guilty verdict. Once granted, the case is dismissed, such as in this case.

Varilla and Alejandrino are two of the co-accused in the case for violation of Section 3 (e) of RA 3019 or the Anti-Graft and Corrupt Practices Act and Article 217 in relation to Article 171 of the Revised Penal Code, also known as Malversation through Falsification of Public Documents, filed against former PNP Chief Avelino Razon Jr. and 15 other individuals.

This was for the reportedly anomalous purchase of P134.39 million worth of spare parts for police armored vehicles back in August 2007 to January 2008. However, no such deliveries were made. They were likewise accused of failing to comply with the Government Procurement Reform Act for the purchase of materials, engines, and transmissions for the 10 V-150 Light Armored Vehicles of the PNP.

In their demurrer, Varilla and Alejandrino said that the prosecution “utterly failed” to prove that they conspired with their co-accused to take public funds by falsifying documents and cause undue injury to the government when they purchased the spare parts.

Both of them contended that there is no evidence that proves their participation in the transactions.

They denied signing the National Headquarters (NHQ) bids and awards committee (BAC) Resolution No. 2007-12, and they said the prosecution even failed to present the original copy of it to the court. In fact, Varilla and Alejandrino said the prosecution’s own evidence show no such original document exists, and there is a strong possibility that it is a falsified document.

In its 24-page ruling, the anti-graft court gave weight to Varilla and Alejandrino’s arguments and granted their demurrer to evidence.

“Other than the public positions of accused Varilla and Alejandrino, the prosecution has not presented any other evidence to show their participation in the acts alleged in both Amended Informations,” the court ruled.

“Given the foregoing circumstances, the prosecution’s evidence is not sufficient to sustain a finding of guilt against them. This so because conspiracy, as it has been consistently held, must be established by positive and conclusive evidence and that the same degree of proof necessary to establish the crime is required to support a conclusion of the presence of a criminal conspiracy,” it added.

The resolution was written by Associate Justice Bayani Jacinto with the concurrence of Fourth Division Chairperson Alex Quiroz and Associate Justice Lorifel Pahimna.

Aside from Razon, Varilla, and Alejandrino, other accused include police generals Geary Barias, Teodorido R. Lapuz IV, and Orlando Pestaño; police colonels Emmanuel Ojeda and Reuel Leverne Labrado, Lt. Cols. Rainier Espina, Warlito Tubon, Edgar Paatan, and Josefina Dumanew; police captain Analee Forro; sergeants Victor Puddao and Alfredo Laviña; and non-uniformed personnel (NUP) Antonio Retrato, Eulito Fuentes, Alex Barrameda, and Nancy Basallo. The cases against the others will continue before the Sandiganbayan.