Sandiganbayan dismisses 9 falsification raps against Sajid Ampatuan
MANILA, Philippines – Falsification cases against Mayor Datu Sajid Islam Ampatuan of Shariff Saydona Mustapha town in Maguindanao have been dismissed by the Sandiganbayan as the prosecution’s evidence was deemed insufficient.
According to the Sixth Division’s resolution last February 7, Ampatuan’s demurrer to evidence for cases SB-17-CRM-0898 to 0906 was granted after no evidence was presented to establish his involvement in the falsification of public documents.
Ampatuan is accused of ordering the release of P72.26 million worth of funds to nonexistent lumber companies in 2009 while he was still Maguindanao acting governor. However, the court said that the evidence in the falsification of documents cases only bears Ampatuan’s name but not his signature.
“An examination of disbursement vouchers, purchase requests, and purchase orders pertaining to transactions subject of SB-17-CRM-0898 to 0906 would show that in each of said documents, accused Ampatuan’s name is printed therein, but indeed, there is no signature above such printed name,” division chair and Associate Justice Sarah Jane Fernandez said.
“The prosecution failed to prove the precise degree of accused Ampatuan’s participation in the alleged falsification (…) therefore, such evidence is insufficient to support a verdict of guilt in cases insofar as accused Ampatuan is concerned,” the court added.
A demurrer to evidence is a document submitted by the accused that if granted by the court, effectively dismisses the charges. Ampatuan was allowed to file his demurrer to evidence in 2018, but only for some of the falsification cases and not for the rest of the graft and malversation raps.
After this dismissal, he still had to face 137 corruption-related cases.
The same court division junked Ampatuan’s bid for the dismissal of his cases, citing an alleged violation of his right to a speedy disposition.
Sandiganbayan noted that the delay in the proceedings — a period of eight years from the release of the Commission on Audit’s findings to the filing of the charges — does not translate to inordinate delay.
Ampatuan is currently suspended from holding public office due to the charges, even if the position he is occupying right now is different from the one he held for which he was charged.
The court ordered the lifting of the hold departure orders and the release of bail bonds concerning the eight falsification cases.
Edited by EDV
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