Sandiganbayan OKs withdrawal of 4 cases vs Echiverri
MANILA, Philippines — The Sandiganbayan has approved the prosecution’s recommendation to withdraw four graft and falsification cases against former Caloocan City Mayor Enrico Echiverri and two other local officials.
In two separate resolutions dated April 3, the Sixth Division said that the withdrawal of information for criminal cases numbers SB-18-CRM-0140, 0141, 0515 and 0516 were given the green light based on a Supreme Court (SC) resolution in 2018.
SC noted that the Sandiganbayan First Division did not abuse its powers when it granted Echiverri, city accountant Edna Centeno and budget officer Jesusa Garcia’s demurrer to evidence.
“It was held that the grant of the demurrer was warranted because (a) the Sangguniang Panglungsod; in Ordinance No. 0464, series of 2010, authorized then Mayor Echiverri to enter into various city development projects […],” the resolution approved by Associate Justices Sarah Jane Fernandez, Karl Miranda, and Kevin Narce Vivero said.
“(b) the subject project strictly underwent the required procurement process, which eliminated the possibility that the contract was entered into with manifest partiality or gross inexcusable negligence on the part of therein respondents, and likewise, the possibility of the transaction resulting in undue injury or actual damage to Caloocan City,” they added.
Last December, it was reported that Ombudsman Samuel Martires has approved recommendation for the withdrawal of the charges made by Assistant Special Prosecutors Agnes B. Autencio-Daquis, Adonis A. Laure and Maria Theresa M. Tan.
The prosecution cited insufficiency of evidence in the cases involving four projects worth P16.47 million.
Echiverri and his co-accused recently had strings of victories in the Sandiganbayan, after the court granted two of their demurrers to evidence. In the two dismissed cases, the three were charged with graft and falsification for entering into a contract without the nod of the city council.
However, the Sixth Division, which handles the case, said that Caloocan City has passed an ordinance which allows the city mayor to enter into various development projects even without the approval of the city council.
With the approval of these withdrawals, the total remaining cases against Echiverri in the Sandiganbayan goes down to 46./jpv
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