Former RTC judge to undergo trial on graft case filed by Ombudsman

Published April 30, 2021, 3:26 PM

by Czarina Nicole Ong Ki

Sandiganbayan

Former Tacloban City Regional Trial Court (RTC) Judge Crisologo S. Bitas has to undergo trial on the graft case filed against him by the Office of the Ombudsman (OMB).

Court trial is the consequence of the Sandiganbayan’s ruling that dismissed Bitas’ motion to reconsider the resolution which denied his demurrer to evidence, a pleading that sought the dismissal of a criminal case on allegations that the prosecution’s evidence is weak to sustain a judgment of conviction.

Bitas was hailed to court on two counts of violations of the Anti-Graft and Corrupt Practices Act when he, in 2011, granted bail to two persons who were charged with the non-bailable offense of qualified trafficking under Republic Act No. 9208, the Anti-Trafficking in Persons Act.

OMB prosecutors told the anti-graft court that Bitas gave unwarranted benefits, undue advantage and preference to Danilo Miralles and Lynna Brito in the grant of bail even without hearing.

The prosecutors said that Miralles was a classmate of Bitas’ sister and throughout the handling of the case, the former judge showed partiality and bias.

“His partiality towards Miralles and Brito was so patent and clear that there can be no other conclusion that can be drawn for the way he handled the case other than his inclination or predisposition to favor Miralles and Brito,” they said.

On Sept. 3, 2020, Bitas filed a demurrer to evidence and pointed out that he granted bail to the two accused because the evidence against them was weak.

Bitas’ motion was denied by the court in a resolution dated Oct. 23, 2020. He filed a motion for reconsideration.

“The instant motion is a mere rehash of the arguments already passed upon by the Court in the assailed resolution and consequently deserves a scant consideration for lack of merit,” stated the Sandiganbayan’s resolution written by Associate Justice Ma. Theresa V. Mendoza-Arcega with the concurrence of Associate Justices Rafael R. Lagos and Maryann E. Corpus-Mañalac.

 
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