Former mayor’s plea to challenge evidence to junk graft case denied

Published July 13, 2021, 12:26 PM

by Czarina Nicole Ong Ki


The Sandiganbayan has denied the plea of former Mayor Datu Umbra Bayam Dilangalen of Northern Kabuntalan, Maguindanao to file a demurrer to evidence that may dismiss his graft case.

Had it been granted, Dilangalen would have sought the dismissal of his case on his representations that the pieces of evidence of the prosecution against him are weak to sustain a conviction.

“After a thorough review of the case and the evidence submitted by the prosecution, the court rules that granting accused Dilangalen’s motion for leave of court (permission) to file demurrer to evidence will accomplish nothing but delay the proceedings,” the Sandiganbayan said in a resolution.

“Also, the court notes that accused Dilangalen, in his motion, merely made a general denial of the existence of the elements of the offense charged,” the anti-graft court said.

Under the rules, Dilangalen can still file a demurer to evidence even without approval or permission from the court. However, doing so would waive his right to present his defense evidence and the court will base its judgment on the evidence presented by the prosecution.

The Sandiganbayan’s resolution was written by Associate Justice Rafael L. Lagos, chairman of the court’s fifth division, with the concurrence of Associate Justices Maria Theresa V. Mendoza-Arcega and Maryann E. Corpus Mañalac.

Dilangalen, former Municipal Accountant Rahima Ali and Municipal Treasurer Kabiba Mael were charged with graft in the alleged anomalous water project in 2011.

The prosecution alleged that they gave FFJJ Construction unwarranted benefits and advantages by releasing the full payment of P5 million for the Small Water Impounding Project (SWIP) even if the project has not been completed.

In his defense, Dilangalen said there was no proof in the prosecution’s evidence that he acted with manifest partiality, evident bad faith, or gross inexcusable negligence in causing the release of payment for the SWIP to FFJJ Construction.