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Sandiganbayan junks graft case vs Cebu solon over scholarship deal

/ 05:06 PM February 13, 2017
Cebu City Rep. Rodrigo "Bebot" Abellanosa tweets about his happiness over the junking by the Sandiganbayan, of a graft case filed against him over a city scholarship agreement when he was still a city councilor. (SCREENGRAB)

Cebu City Rep. Rodrigo “Bebot” Abellanosa tweets about his happiness over the junking by the Sandiganbayan, of a graft case filed against him over a city scholarship agreement when he was still a city councilor. (SCREENGRAB)

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.

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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.

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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.

Dispositive portion of the Sandiganbayan resolution clearing Cebu City Rep. Rodrigo Abellanosa of graft on Feb. 13, 2017. (PHOTO BY VINCE F. NONATO / INQUIRER)

Dispositive portion of the Sandiganbayan resolution clearing Cebu City Rep. Rodrigo Abellanosa of graft on Feb. 13, 2017. (PHOTO BY VINCE F. NONATO / INQUIRER)

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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TAGS: acquittal, Anti-Graft and Corrupt Practices Act, Asian College of Technology and International Educational Foundation, Cebu City, Cebu City Council, city councilors, city resolutions, conflict of interest, congressmen, corruption, courts, Crime, dismissal of case, Graft, granting a motion to quash case, House of Representatives, Justice, law, lawmakers, Legislators, litigation, memorandum of agreement, Rodrigo Abellanosa, Sandiganbayan, scholarship agreement, trials
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