Sarangani prosecutor, aide question bribery conviction before anti-graft courtBy Leila B. Salaverria
Philippine Daily Inquirer
MANILA, Philippines — A Sarangani prosecutor and his aide have contested their bribery conviction before the Sandiganbayan, insisting that the charge against them was “preposterous.”
In their joint motion for reconsideration, prosecutor Alfredo Barcelona and his aide Violeto Novio also assailed complainant Ludivico Ripdos, who was then the police chief of Glan, Sarangani, for supposed lapses in his statement with regard to the charge of bribery.
The anti-graft court had convicted Barcelona and Novio of bribery and sentenced them to two to five years imprisonment for conspiring to demand P5,000 from Ripdos in exchange for dropping him as a respondent in a rape case.
Novio was arrested in an entrapment operation, and had pointed to Barcelona as the one who directed him to get the money.
But in their motion for reconsideration, they said that if Barcelona had indeed made a favorable offer to Ripdos to drop him as an accomplice in a rape case, there would be no need for an entrapment operation.
They said it could be “safely assumed” that Ripdos could be willing to give money to Barcelona to save his retirement benefits.
They also said that if Ripdos’ allegation that P20,000 was demanded from him was true, it was puzzling why he did not include this in his sworn statement and supplemental statement.
The police official only mentioned the amount for the first time on the witness stand, they noted. They added that Ripdos did not even talk to Barcelona before releasing the money to Novio to confirm that the prosecutor sent the latter.
Ripdos did not record the alleged extortion in the police blotter, Barcelona and Novio further contended.
“Such incredible allegations have become even more apparent for failure even to record the alleged extortion, granting it was true, in the police blotter book; and intriguingly suspicious is not even anyone from his police forces corroborated him,” they said.
They also contested the court’s ruling that gave no weight to Barcelona’s contention that he had only directed Novio to get the records of the criminal case from Ripdos.
They said that during the hearing of the case in the Sandiganbayan, it was disclosed that another official had brought the records of the case with him to his next assignment. They said the court should take notice of this as this showed that Barcelona had indeed directed Novio to get the case records from Ripdos, and not to extort money.
They further contended that the extrajudicial confession of Novio was inadequate because it was not supported by the marked money. They said the money never reached Barcelona, and thus conspiracy was not shown.
They questioned the supposed entrapment operation, and contended that it could have been a set-up.
According to them, Novio’s alleged voluntary extrajudicial confession was suspect because it was executed several hours after he was taken into the National Bureau of Investigation custody. The lawyer who assisted him was also the counsel of the main suspect in the rape case where Ripdos was charged.