Sandiganbayan allows prosecutors to amend charges vs ex-Landbank officials
MANILA, Philippines – The Sandiganbayan allowed prosecutors to amend original information stated within a graft charge filed against former Land Bank of the Philippines (Landbank) officials in relation to an allegedly anomalous sale of its Meralco stake in 2008.
In a decision, the anti-graft court's 3rd Division granted the Office of the Ombudsman's amendment of the charge to state that the share purchase agreement (SPA) entered into with Global 5000 Investments Incorporated was "grossly disadvantageous to the government" because it gave the firm various privileges despite tendering only a 20% downpayment.
The charge against former Landbank president Gilda Pico, former vice president for local currency Carel Halog, former board director Margarito Teves, and 7 others stemmed from allegations of conspiracy with the planned sale of the state-owned bank's P4.2 billion shares in Meralco.
The defense argued that the petition for amendment shows the government's case against them is "defective" and should be dismissed.
But the Sandiganbayan said the right of the prosecution to make amendments is still valid since the defendants' arraignment has not yet been held.
"In the present case, there is no issue as to the fact that all the accused have yet to be arraigned and enter a plea. The prosecution's motion must be granted as a matter of course," the anti-graft court said.
The Sandiganbayan declared the arguments of the defense "irrelevant in determining whether the request for amendment must be granted." – Rappler.com