The Sandiganbayan has acquitted former Caloocan City Budget Officer Jesusa C. Garcia and City Accountant Edna V. Centeno of two counts of falsification of public documents for failure of the prosecution to prove their guilt beyond reasonable doubt.
“After a thorough review of the documentary and testimonial evidence on record, as well as the stipulations between the prosecution and the defense, the Court finds that, in spite of serious efforts, the prosecution failed to prove beyond reasonable doubt that accused Centeno and Garcia violated Article 171, paragraph 4 of the RPC (Revised Penal Code). Accordingly, they are acquitted of the charge against them,” the anti-graft court said in its decisions promulgated last Aug. 11.
In the first case, both Garcia and Centeno were charged in relation to the P5,430,200 Proposed Multi-Purpose Hall at Urduja, Barangay 172, Caloocan City.
The prosecution alleged that they certified the Allotment and Obligation Slip (ALOBS) No. 100-11-10-5649 dated Oct. 20, 2011 as to the appropriation of public funds despite lack of specific or itemized appropriation for the project.
The second charged involved the P2,432,400 renovation and additional construction of the second floor of the Multi-Purpose Hall, Barangay 124, 8th Street corner C-3 Road in Caloocan City. The prosecution also alleged that there was no appropriation for the project.
The court said that contrary to the accusations of the prosecution, the projects were included in the Annual Budget of Caloocan City and even had an allocation by the City Development Council (CDC).
Given these facts, the court said that they did not make untruthful or false statements in the ALOBS because evidence showed that these were included by the CDC for local funding in the city’s annual budget.
Both decisions were written by Associate Justice Karl B. Miranda with the concurrence of Sixth Division Chairperson Sarah Jane T. Fernandez and Associate Justice Kevin Narce B. Vivero.
Garcia and Centeno were charged together with former Caloocan City Mayor Enrico R. Echiverri who was accused only in the graft case. Since the anti-graft court granted their demurrer to evidence in their graft charge, Echiverri was left off the hook and only Centeno and Garcia went to trial for the falsification charge.