Sandigan denies Cebu mayor’s motion challenging evidence

Published November 28, 2020, 2:09 PM

by Czarina Nicole Ong Ki

The Sandiganbayan Fourth Division believes that the evidence in the graft case against Dumanjug, Cebu Mayor Efren Guntrano Zozobrado Gica of Cebu is strong as it denied his motion seeking to challenge its sufficiency to render a guilty verdict.

Gica is facing violations of Section 3(e) of Republic Act 3019 or the Anti-Graft and Corrupt Practices Act, as well as Articles 171(4) and 217 of the Revised Penal Code, which are Falsification of Public Documents and Malversation of Public Funds, respectively, due to the reportedly anomalous expenditures made in a conference in 2014.

He filed a Motion for Leave of Court to File Demurrer to Evidence, arguing that the prosecution failed to present original copies of its evidence, such as the Ding Qua Qua Dimsum Restaurant official receipt dated April 25, 2014 for the amount of P11,435.

In the absence of the original copy of the material document, Gica said there is no direct evidence that the receipt was tampered and changed to the amount of P21,435.

But after carefully studying the testimonial and documentary evidence of the prosecution, the anti-graft court found no basis to grant Gica’s motion.

“The Court finds that the evidence adduced by the prosecution, both testimonial and documentary, appear to be prima facie sufficient to sustain a conviction, unless successfully rebutted by defense evidence,” the Sandiganbayan said in a resolution.

The four-page resolution was penned by Associate Justice Lorifel Pahimna and concurred in by Chairperson Alex Quiroz and Associate Justice Bayani Jacinto.