MANILA, Philippines — Former Caloocan City Mayor Enrico Echiverri and two other former city hall officials have been acquitted in another graft case, this time on alleged illegal disbursement for a road and drainage renovation project.
The resolution from the Sandiganbayan’s Fifth Division on June 13 stated that the demurrers to evidence filed by Echiverri, former city accountant Edna Centeno, and former budget officer Jesusa Garcia were granted because the prosecution failed to establish their guilt.
The three supposedly violated Republic Act 3019 or the Anti Graft and Corrupt Practices Act, while Centeno and Garcia were accused of falsification of public documents when they released P4.858 million for the said project without the approval of the city council.
The anti-graft court, however, noted similar decisions in the past where Echiverri and the others were excused from criminal liability because a city ordinance allows local executives to enter into deals — although not implementable — without the city council’s nod.
“Clearly the gravamen of the charge in SB-17-CRM-1762 for violation of Sec. 3(e), RA 3019 has been that the project involved was contracted ‘without prior authorization from the Sangguniang Panglungsod of Caloocan City, to the damage and prejudice of the government,’” the resolution penned by Associate Justice Rafael Lagos read.
Sandiganbayan also cited a Supreme Court ruling where the high tribunal affirmed the former’s decision to acquit Echiverri and the others.
The decision also banked on the Office of the Ombudsman’s decision to pull out other information against the accused, which supposedly had similar circumstances.
READ: Ombudsman withdraws 4 graft cases vs Echiverri
READ: Sandiganbayan OKs withdrawal of 4 cases vs Echiverri
This acquittal was the most recent in a string of victories for Echiverri which started late in 2018. During his stint as city mayor, he was accused of having committed more than 50 instances of graft. (Editor: Eden Estopace)
READ: Echiverri vs Ombudsman, 4-0; 53 more graft cases to go
READ: Echiverri scores again: Sandiganbayan dismisses another graft case
READ: Sandiganbayan clears Echiverri of another graft case
READ: Sandigan lets Echiverri contest evidence; OKs withdrawal of 2 other cases
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