THE SANDIGANBAYAN ANTIGRAFT COURT has rejected a motion by four former officials of the soldiers? retirement fund seeking their acquittal on graft charges even without their having presented evidence.
The court disagreed with the contention of the officers that the prosecution?s evidence was insufficient to warrant their conviction. The four former officials of the Armed Forces of the Philippines Retirement and Separation Benefits System (AFP-RSBS)?Brig. Gen. Jose Ramiscal Jr., former president; Capt. Perfecto Quilicot Jr. and lawyers Meinrado Enrique Bello and Manuel De Satuito?were warned that if they failed to rebut the charges related to alleged anomalous land deals, they would be convicted.
In separate motions, the four accused had filed motions for leave of court to file demurrers to evidence, asking the court to just rule on the pending cases without their defense because the ?prosecution?s pieces of evidence were insufficient to warrant their conviction.?
But the court said: ?After a careful review of the evidence of the prosecution, this court found the same, if unrebutted, sufficient to establish the culpability of all the accused for the violations charged against them.?
The court scheduled three hearing dates in February and March for each of the accused to present his defense.
The four former AFP-RSBS officials face 17 counts of graft and 12 counts of falsification of public documents in various divisions of the antigraft court for over P100 million in allegedly irregular real estate acquisitions in Tanauan, Batangas, between 1996 and 1997.
The AFP-RSBS manages the retirement fund of the military.
Last month, the Sandiganbayan Third Division acquitted the four in one of the cases which involved a 12,157-square-meter property in Tanauan bought by the AFP-RSBS for more than P2.4 million in 1997.
The prosecution had alleged that the Tanauan transaction, approved by the accused, cost the government more than P2 million. But while the court noted many irregularities in the transaction, it ruled that no evidence showed the accused had pocketed money from the allegedly overpriced deal.