Anti-graft court says enough evidence to convict Baseco president Maligalig
MANILA, Philippines – There was enough evidence to declare Bataan Shipyard and Engineering Co. Inc. (Baseco) president and board director Proceso Maligalig guilty of graft and malversation, the Sandiganbayan said in a resolution, unless the defense chooses to make a rebuttal.
Maligalig is accused of taking kickbacks by claiming that Baseco's goard of directors authorized him to issue a “release, waiver, and quitclaim” in favor of Northstar Transport Facilities Incorporated, which had unpaid rent on Baseco’s property in Port Area, Manila, totaling P4,819,198.13.
Prosecutors said Northstar only paid P3.554 million for its obligations, yet it got full settlement certification based on Maligalig's false claims. The defendant was also said to have pocketed the money instead of remitting Northstar's money to Baseco.
Maligalig earlier sought the dismissal of the charges, claiming Baseco is not a government-owned or controlled corporation (GOCC), putting it outside the Sandiganbayan's jurisdiction.
Associate justices Sarah Jane Fernandez, Karl Miranda, and Kevin Narce Vivero unanimously denied Maligalig's motion to seek leave of court to file a demurrer to evidence.
Maligalig said he was on Baseco’s board of directors from 2001 to 2011, having been appointed by then-president Gloria Macapagal Arroyo.
The anti-graft court held the prosecution's stand that Baseco is a GOCC supervised by the Presidential Commission on Good Government, even while an ownership dispute remained pending.
Maligalig's motion claimed the prosecution had no proof he kept the money or that Northstar failed to remit the money to Baseco. The Sandiganbayan sustained prosecution's evidence as sufficient for the graft and malversation charges through falsification.
"After a careful study of the documentary and testimonial evidence presented by the prosecution, the Court finds that, if unrebutted, the same is sufficient to support a verdict of guilt. The Court hereby denies the Motion for Leave of Court to File Demurrer to Evidence filed by accused Maligalig," said the Sandiganbayan's resolution dated October 23.
The demurrer to evidence would have challenged the sufficiency of the prosecution's documents and testimonies. If it was granted, the accused would have been cleared of allegations, but the court's denial means the defendant must prove innocence.
Without leave of court, filing a demurrer to evidence is risky as a denial would mean the defendant already waived his right to present rebuttal evidence hence his case will be decided based only on evidence cited by the prosecution.
Maligalig may still file a demurrer to evidence, though without leave of court. As such, there is an understanding that he shall be deemed as having waived his right to present evidence to defend himself. – Rappler.com
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