Sandigan junks Philrem president's MR on graft case

Carolyn Bonquin, ABS-CBN News

Posted at Jun 09 2016 03:29 PM

MANILA - The Sandiganbayan 6th Division junked the motion for reconsideration of Philrem President Salud Bautista on its earlier decision to proceed with the trial for her graft case over an alleged anomalous gun license delivery deal with the Philippine National Police (PNP).

This, after Bautista and her lawyers failed to appear in the scheduled hearing of her motion on Thursday.

Bautista, who is also one of those being investigated over the stolen $81 million from the Bangladesh Bank, is among the accused in the graft case after her company, Philrem, had a joint venture with CMIT Consultancy Group Inc. and Werfast.

The case stemmed from the allegedly anomalous contract of the PNP with Werfast, giving the company the sole responsibility to set up an online system for firearms license application and delivery.

But the company still took the services of LBC for the delivery of the license, collecting P190 for deliveries within Metro Manila and P290 for outside of Metro Manila, although other courier service providers only charge P90 for deliveries within the metropolis.

Bautista filed a motion for judicial determination of probable cause after the case was filed last May.

But the Sandiganbayan denied the motion, and ordered her arrest.

READ: Philrem's Bautista posts bail for graft case

Philrem's Salud Bautista, accompanied by her husband Michael Bautista, gestures as she testifies during the Senate hearing on the $81 million money laundering scheme. Jonathan Cellona, ABS-CBN News

The Sandiganbayan said Bautista's request was "deemed moot and academic" since the anti-graft court makes an independent determination of probable cause after a charge has been filed.

Bautista begged the Sandiganbayan to take a second look on her motion stating that aside from the purpose of ordering an arrest, the anti-graft court may review the information to dismiss the case if the evidence clearly fails to establish probable cause.

She said the review of the records of the case will show that state prosecutors failed to establish probable cause for her arrest and indictment.

She said the "Ombudsman exclusively relied on a theory of conspiracy among the accused without devoting discussion on how such conspiracy was supposedly established."

Though listed as incorporator and director of Werfast, Bautista insisted she never participated in the execution and implementation of the memorandum of agreement.

"Fortunately, the lack of participation on the part of Ms. Bautista is amplified by the fact that the incorporation if Werfast in 10 August 2011 came after the [memorandum of agreement] was apparently entered into by Werfast and PNP," Bautista's motion read.

"This can only mean that at the time when the MOA was initiated by the parties thereto, and eventually entered into, Ms. Bautista was absolutely out of this picture."