Sandiganbayan junks graft case vs Cebu solon over scholarship deal
MANILA — The Sandiganbayan has thrown out the graft case against Cebu City 2nd District Rep. Rodrigo Abellanosa in connection with alleged conflict of interest over the city’s P51.065-million scholarship deal with his own college.
In a 10-page resolution, the court’s First Division granted Abellanosa’s motion to quash because the allegations against him “do not constitute” a case for Section 3(i) of the Anti-Graft and Corrupt Practices Act.
Prosecutors said that as councilor, Abellanosa took part in passing City Resolution No. 12-3355-2011, which “authorized” the city mayor in 2011 to enter into a memorandum of agreement with the Asian College of Technology and International Educational Foundation (ACTIEF). Abellanosa also headed the college as trustee-president.
However, the court said the prosecution failed to show that Abellanosa exercised discretion when he approved the transaction or act, as required by the anti-graft law.
It pointed out that technically, the city council resolution was neither a transaction nor an act, because it was only a statement of support for Executive Order No. 10-124, which established the scholarship program.
“This Court finds that the Sanggunian in passing the said resolution merely expressed a sentiment or opinion, and did not exercise discretion,” the court resolution read.
The court added that the EO itself made the mayor’s office solely responsible for the scholarship project, including the accreditation of the partner schools.
It also noted that “interestingly,” some of the funds were already disbursed as early as 2010, even before the city council resolution was passed the next year.
“Indeed, there was nothing left for the Sanggunian to decide on with respect to the said scholarship program,” the resolution stated.
Justice Efren N. Dela Cruz penned the resolution, with the concurrence of Justices Reynaldo P. Cruz and Bernelito R. Fernandez.
In a statement on his Facebook page, Abellanosa said: “We and our best intentions for the city scholars and their parents are vindicated from the exaggerated and lopsided accounts of political opponents and lapdogs of politically influenced media.” SFM
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