Sandiganbayan refuses to junk graft case of Aurora governor

Adrian Ayalin, ABS-CBN News

Posted at Jan 21 2019 12:10 PM

MANILA - The Sandiganbayan 6th Division refused to junk the graft case of Aurora Governor Gerardo Noveras who was charged by the Office of the Ombudsman last year for alleged irregularities in a road repair project in 2014.

In his motion to quash filed before the anti-graft court, Noveras argued that the charge against him was insufficient because there was no mention of undue injury to any party, including the government.

The anti-graft court however noted in its resolution promulgated on January 14, 2019 that in the Supreme Court decision on Braza vs. Sandiganbayan, there are two ways of violating Section 3(e) of Republic Act 3019 or the Anti-Graft and Corrupt Practices Act, either by causing undue injury or giving unwarranted benefits to any party.

“The information need not allege 'causing undue injury to any party in addition to the allegation of' giving any private party any unwarranted benefit, advantage or preference,” the court said in the resolution penned by Division Chairperson Sarah Jane Fernandez, with the concurrence of Associate Justices Karl Miranda and Kevin Narce Vivero.

The information against Noveras was filed by Ombudsman Samuel Martires on October 5, 2018 after the indictment ordered by former Ombudsman Conchita Carpio Morales on April 3, 2018.

Aside from Noveras, 7 other individuals were charged: provincial Bids and Awards Committee officials Simeon De Castro, Paz Torregosa, Ricardo Bautista, Benedito Rojo, Isaias Noveras Jr., and Norma Clemente, as well as private contractor Manding Claro Ramos.

Noveras supposedly gave Ramos' RMCR Construction undue advantage through a rigged bidding for the repair of the Dimalang Bridge Approach of Casiguran-Dilasag Road.

The motion for reinvestigation and the remanding of the case back to the Office of the Ombudsman was likewise denied by the anti-graft court.

In the motion, Noveras had assailed the credibility of witness Engr. Rodante Tolentino and insisted on his innocence.

“Clearly, the attached motion for reinvestigation is grounded on issues of credibility and on his innocence. A preliminary investigation has actually been conducted, and hence, the motion sought to be filed and admitted is prohibited,” the court said.

The motions to quash and motions for reinvestigation of Noveras' co-accused, which were adoptions of the original motions of Noveras, were likewise denied by the anti-graft court.