MANILA – The Sandiganbayan has turned down pleas filed by the co-accused in four graft cases involving the late Davao del Sur Gov. Douglas Cagas and businesswoman Janet Lim Napoles.
In its five page resolution dated May 11, the anti-graft court dismissed the motions for leave of court to file demurrer filed by Napoles’ counsels as well as officials of the now defunct Technology and Livelihood Research Center’s (TLRC) group manager Maria Rosalinda Lacsamana and deputy director general Dennis Cunanan, and former Department of Budget and Management (DBM) officials led by Undersecretary Mario Relampagos and his staff Rosario Nunez, Laline Paule, and Marilou Bare.
“The Court finds unwarranted the pleas of the accused for leave to file demurrer to evidence. Following a careful study of the evidence on record, both testimonial and documentary, the Court rules that these are prima facie sufficient for the conviction of the accused of the crime charges in the information filed, unless successfully contradicted by defense evidence,” the court said.
A demurrer to evidence is a motion filed by an accused asking the court to dismiss outright the charges based on the insufficiency of the prosecution’s evidence.
Nineteen witnesses have been presented by the prosecution so far, including former Digos City mayor Joseph Penas and Hagonoy, Davao del Sur vice mayor Fanco Calida.
Cagas, who died last year of coronavirus disease 2019 (Covid-19) complications, was charged with alleged irregularities in the use of Priority Development Assistance Fund (PDAF) when he was still a lawmaker in 2007, along with other co-accused.
Cagas allegedly conspired in funneling at least PHP8 million in funds to non-government organizations run by Napoles.
He allegedly chose the TLRC as the implementing agency.
The Ombudsman earlier said the projects should have raised red flags because of the haste in the one-day approval of the requirements. (PNA)