Sandiganbayan says graft cases vs former TRC execs must proceed

Adrian Ayalin, ABS-CBN News

Posted at Feb 13 2019 12:38 PM

MANILA - The Sandiganbayan 2nd Division said the trial of former Technology Resource Center (TRC) deputy director general Dennis Cunanan and group manager Maria Rosalinda Lacsamana for graft and malversation of public funds should continue with the presentation of their own evidence.

The anti-graft court denied the motion for leave of court to file demurrer to evidence of the 2 officials of the defunct government agency involved in the multi-billion peso Priority Development Assistance Fund scam.

A motion for leave is usually filed as it assures an accused that if his demurrer to evidence is denied, he can still present his evidence to further prove his innocence.

“The accused failed to show that the prosecution’s evidence is insufficient to establish a prima facie case against them. The evidence of the prosecution actually established the participation of accused Lacsamana and Cunanan in the release of the subject PDAF,” the court said in a resolution promulgated on Feb. 8, 2019.

The resolution was penned by Associate Justice Frederick Musngi, with the concurrence of Division Chairperson Oscar Herrera, Jr. and Associate Justice Lorifel Pahimna.

The denial of the motion for leave is a blow to the string of cases involving Cunanan especially after his recent acquittal in the PDAF scam cases of former Cagayan De Oro City Rep. Constantino Jaraula before the 1st Division.

The denied motion for leave of the two ex-TRC officials is in connection with the alleged misuse of P19.5 million PDAF of former Isabela 4th District Rep. Anthony Miranda in 2007.

Lacsamana is facing one count of graft and one count of malversation while Cunanan is facing two counts each of graft and malversation.

The court noted in the resolution that Cunanan and Lacsamana emphasized that their supposed act of signing documents such as disbursement vouchers cannot prove their participation in the alleged conspiracy.

The prosecution meantime was able to present testimonial and documentary evidence from five witnesses including state auditor Leona Andriano who conducted a government-wide audit of PDAF transactions covering the years 2007 to 2010.

“The grounds raised by the accused in their motions are best appreciated in the course of trial on the presentation of defense evidence,” the court said.