Sandiganbayan clears Abalos of graft charge

Published August 21, 2020, 5:37 PM

by Czarina Nicole Ong Ki

The Sandiganbayan Sixth Division has acquitted former Commission on Elections chairperson Benjamin Abalos of a graft charge in relation to the purchase of two Toyota Revo vehicles worth P1.7 million in 2003.

Abalos was charged with graft for making the purchase without undergoing public bidding, which was allegedly in violation of R.A. 9184 or the Government Procurement Reform Act.

The court said in its decision that “the prosecution failed to prove the guilt beyond reasonable doubt.”

The copy of the decision acquitting Abalos has not yet been released to the media.

The anti-graft court’s decision finding Abalos not guilty came even after it earlier ruled against his motion for leave to file demurrer to evidence, which sought to challenge the sufficiency of the prosecution’s evidence against him.

Abalos said in an interview that he never once doubted that the court will find him not guilty. “All these years, wala ako kakaba-kaba (I did not feel nervous) that I will be acquitted,” he said.

Abalos, who recovered recently from the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19), said that the acquittal is “very timely,” since it would motivate his wife, Corazon, to fight for her life.

“She’s not a lawyer, you know,” he said. “With my motion to file demurrer… natatakot siya, sinasabi niya, ‘Maco-convict ka, maco-convict ka.’ (she was scared and kept telling me, ‘You will be convicted. You will be convicted).'”

Abalos added that his acquittal would hopefully encourage his wife to recover from COVID-19.