The Sandiganbayan has decided to proceed with the trial of the falsification of public documents cases filed against five former Bataan provincial officials.
In a resolution, the anti-graft court denied the demurrer to evidence filed by former provincial agriculturist Imelda D. Inieto, supply officer Pedro D. Baluyot, management and audit analyst Angelina M. Villanueva, local treasury officer Francisco T. Caparas, and general services office division head Evangeline A. Diaz
They would have wanted to dismiss the charges against them on their allegations that the prosecution’s pieces of evidence presented against them were weak to sustain a conviction.
The granting of a demurrer to evidence would result in the acquittal of the accused in a criminal case. Its denial, however, would result in the trial of the case for the presentation of evidenced by the accused.
The five former provincial officials were charged with violations of Paragraph 4 of Article 171 of the Revised Penal Code on falsification of public documents.
The criminal charges arose from the purchase of a patrol boat in 2006 for the provincial government’s campaign against illegal fishing.
While the original specification called for a six-cylinder gas engine, it was changed to a four-cylinder gas engine, the prosecution alleged.
In seeking the dismissal of the charges against them on a demurrer to evidence, they claimed that the persons who were named witnesses for the prosecution did not testify in court and did not authenticate their respective “Sinumpang Salaysay” (affidavits) which were marked in evidence.
They also claimed that there was no evidence that would point to them as having taken advantage of their positions and having conspired with one another to commit falsification.
But the Sandiganbayan denied their demurrer. “After a careful study of the records of the case and the evidence submitted by the prosecution, the Court finds that, if unrebutted, the same is sufficient to support a verdict of guilt against accused,” the court said.
“More, the arguments raised by the accused are evidentiary in nature and are matters of defense, the truth of which can best be passed upon in a full-blown trial on the merits,” it added.
Associate Justice Kevin Narce B. Vivero wrote the five-page resolution with the concurrence of Associate Justices Sarah Jane T. Fernandez and Associate Justice Karl B. Miranda.