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xx - Ombudsman asks Sandiganbayan to reverse ruling - Philippine Daily News
Ombudsman asks Sandiganbayan to reverse ruling
« on: January 03, 2017, 08:32:12 PM »
Ombudsman asks Sandiganbayan to reverse ruling junking plunder rap vs ex-DA execs

MANILA, Jan. 3 (PNA) -- The Office of the Ombudsman (Ombudsman) has asked the Sandiganbayan to reverse its decision dismissing the plunder case against former Department of Agriculture (DA) Secretary Cito Lorenzo and DA Undersecretary Jocelyn “Joc-joc” Bolante and five others in connection with the alleged misuse of the PHP723-million fertilizer fund.

Ombudsman prosecutors filed the motion for reconsideration (MR) before the Sandiganbayan Second Division seeking the reversal of its ruling on the said case.

The Ombudsman insisted on the existence of probable cause on Bolante's case.

It said that the Sandiganbayan "clearly went beyond its authority at this stage of proceeding (determination of probable)".

The Ombudsman said that “probable cause exists for the issuance of arrest warrants vs. all of the accused in the fertilizer fund scam.”

”The Honorable Court cannot close its eyes to glaring badges of fraud, irregularities committed in release of fertilizer funds,” it said.

”Determining reasonable ground to believe that the accused is guilty and should be put to trial is the function of the Prosecutor,” it added.

The Ombudsman said that “the determination of probable cause for the warrant of arrest is made by the judge.”

The Sandiganbayan acquitted Bolante of plunder case over the alleged misuse of PHP723-million fertilizer fund last December 12.

The anti-graft court said that the prosecution failed to provide evidence that will link Bolante to plunder charges.

Last August, the prosecution submitted a 20-page judicial affidavit of "whistleblower" Jose Barredo, claiming that he was a runner in the fertilizer fund scam.

However, the Sandiganbayan found "nothing substantial" on Barredo's statement.

The Sandiganbayan dismissed the PHP723-million fertilizer fund scam plunder case despite the chance given to the prosecution to amend the case information.

"All that is essentially stated by Barredo is the modus operandi of the scam, the persons who were offered...," the Sandiganbayan said.

"...or had received, and how the "SOP" (Standard Operating Procedure) or commissions were distributed," it added.

The anti-graft court said that "are either local officials who had fund allotments from the DA or DA regional directors..."

It added that "...and none of them are even charged in this case as co-conspirators of Bolante or of the other accused."

The Sandiganbayan said that Bolante was "central key player in the case but there was no proof he acquired ill-gotten wealth.”

"No material representation, other than the release of the funds, could be shown attributable to accused Bolante," it added. (PNA)

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