Sandiganbayan denies ex-PRC chair's bid to dismiss graft case

Adrian Ayalin, ABS-CBN News

Posted at Feb 11 2019 11:52 AM | Updated as of Feb 11 2019 05:10 PM

MANILA - (UPDATED) The Sandiganbayan 6th Division denied the appeal of former Professional Regulation Commission Chairperson Teresita Manzala for the dismissal of her graft case over the alleged irregular office space rental in Baguio City from 2011 to 2012.

The anti-graft court said the motion for reconsideration of Manzala was filed after the 5-day period, starting from the day she received the resolution denying her motion for leave of court to file demurrer to evidence.

A motion for leave is usually filed by an accused so that even if his or her demurrer to evidence is denied, he or she can still present evidence.

“This is without prejudice to the filing by the accused of a demurrer to evidence without prior leave of court, but subject to the legal consequence provided under Section 23, Rule 119 of the Revised Rules of Criminal Procedure, that is, she shall waive her right to present evidence and is submitting this case for judgment on the basis of the evidence adduced by the prosecution,” the court said in the resolution promulgated on January 24, 2019.

The resolution was penned by Division Chairperson Sarah Jane Fernandez, with the concurrence of Associate Justices Karl Miranda and Kevin Narce Vivero.

Manzala and other PRC officers are on trial for supposedly giving unwarranted benefits to CTLL Building owner Ernesto Delos Santos for the lease of office space amounting to P6.696 million without competitive bidding.

Her motion for leave was denied last month, with the court saying that if the evidence of the prosecution remains unrebutted, she may be declared guilty.

The court also noted that even if her motion for reconsideration was filed within the 5-day period, the arguments she raised are still immaterial.

“Further, the other grounds raised by accused Manzala, i.e., propriety or impropriety of a public bidding, existence or absence of conspiracy, compliance with the procurement procedure provided under the law, etc, are matters of defense and are better ventilated during trial proper,” the court said.