Sandiganbayan junks NGO head’s bid to junk pork scam case
MANILA, Philippines – The Sandiganbayan has denied the demurrer to evidence filed by an incorporator of a nongovernment organization (NGO) allegedly involved in a pork barrel scam akin to that which sent pork scam mastermind Janet Lim Napoles to jail.
The court’s First Division, in a resolution on Oct. 28, said the demurrer of Godofredo Roque, often described as the male Napoles, had been denied for lack of merit.
A demurrer to evidence is a challenge to the evidence presented by the prosecution. Had the court granted Roque’s demurrer, it would have resulted in the outright dismissal of the cases against him.
Roque, as incorporator of Kabuhayan at Kalusugang Alay sa Masa Foundation (KKAMFI), was allegedly endorsed by Dumpit as a “project partner” for projects to be funded by Dumpit’s pork barrel, or Priority Development Assistance Funds. Roque appears as project partner in Special Allotment Release Orders (Saros) covering the use of Dumpit’s pork.
The endorsement made by Dumpit of Roque’s NGO was allegedly received by the National Livelihood Development Corp. (NLDC) and the projects supposedly implemented at 18 villages in the town of Tubao, La Union province.
The First Division resolution said “a judicious perusal” of testimony and documents submitted by the prosecution “will show that the prosecution was able to establish a prima facie case.”
If these proofs were not rebutted, the court said, they “would be sufficient to establish beyond reasonable doubt the guilt” of Roque, said the resolution penned by Associate Sandiganbayan Justice Efren dela Cruz.
“Indeed there is a clear showing that accused Godofredo in conspiracy with the other accused, acted with manifest partiality and evident bad faith causing injury to the government, or giving any private party, referring to himself, unwarranted benefits, advantage, or preference,” the resolution added.
The court resolution covered nine graft cases and nine cases of malversation of public funds.
The complaint filed by the prosecution showed that in nine cases covering February 2009 to April 2010, a total of P43.65 million in public funds was released to Roque’s group KKAMFI.
Roque, however, said in his demurrer that evidence presented by the prosecution were insufficient to show that he intended to defraud the government and that state lawyers only assumed he did so.
The same Sandiganbayan division had acquitted Roque for the prosecution’s failure to present sufficient evidence.
Aside from lack of merit, late submission also doomed Roque’s demurrer. The court said it was submitted past deadline.
“Accused Godofredo’s demurrer was filed on August 15, 2019 which is 16 days after the order granting his leave was promulgated. Therefore his demurrer is filed out of time,” the court said./TSB
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