Sandiganbayan junks plea of ex-postmaster general to dismiss criminal charges

Published March 26, 2021, 1:00 PM

by Czarina Nicole Ong Ki

The Sandiganbayan has denied the motion of former Postmaster General Maria Josefina Mendoza Dela Cruz of the Philippine Postal Corporation (PhilPost) to dismiss the graft and unlawful appointment charges filed against her.


In a resolution, the anti-graft court said that Dela Cruz’s motion was, in effect, a request to determine probable cause which was filed after she had entered a “not guilty” plea on the amended charges.

In her Nov. 11, 2020 motion, Dela Cruz said the charges filed against her do not constitute an offense even after the amendment.

But the anti-graft court, in a resolution written by Associate Justice Rafael R. Lagos and concurred in by Associate Justices Maria Theresa V. Mendoza Arcega and Maryann E. Corpus Manalac, said Dela Cruz had entered a “not guilty” plea to the charges when arraigned on Nov. 8, 2020, and it was “entered with respect to the Amended Information in these cases.”

“Ultimately, it is too late in the day for the accused to be filing the present motion which, for all intents and purposes, is akin to a motion for judicial determination of probable cause, and, therefore, a prohibited motion under the Supreme Court’s A.M. No. 15-06-10-SC (Revised Guidelines for Continuous Trial of Criminal Cases),” the court said.

“Neither does the accused’s motion fall under any of the Meritorious Motions under the rules,” it added.

Dela Cruz was charged with graft and two counts of violations of Article 244 of the Revised Penal Code on unlawful appointments.

The criminal charge sheet stated that Dela Cruz gave unwarranted benefits, advantage or preference when she appointed Esther V. Cabigao on Sept. 1, 2011 as PhilPost director even if “Cabigao did not possess the required education, training and experience qualifications for the said position as prescribed by existing laws, rules and regulations.”