LGUs in the Philippines

Anti-graft court acquits former Caloocan mayor Echiverri, 2 others over infra projects

Rappler.com
Anti-graft court acquits former Caloocan mayor Echiverri, 2 others over infra projects
The dismissed 13 counts of graft and 13 counts of falsification of public documents were in connection with P38.97 million worth of projects in 2012

MANILA, Philippines – The Sandiganbayan Third Division has acquitted former Caloocan mayor Enrico Echiverri and the city accountant and budget officer during his time over alleged irregularities committed a decade ago. 

Prosecutors had questioned Echiverri, former city accountant Edna Centeno, and former city budget officer Jesusa Garcia of favoring certain contractor and causing undue injury to the local government when they approved contracts for various infrastructure projects supposed without authorization from the city council. 

In a 70-page decision on October 14, however, Third Division chairperson Amparo Cabotaje-Tang, who is also the presiding justice of the anti-graft court, gave weight to the findings of state auditors that the mayor had authority to approve the contracts because the Sangguniang Panlungsod had allocated funds for various city development projects.

The contracts for flood control, road maintenance, and beautification projects in 2012 underwent public bidding, and the Office of the Ombudsman didn’t make references to any irregularities in the bidding. The projects had a combined amount of P38.97 million.

Associate justices Bernelito Fernandez and Ronald Moreno concurred with Tang’s ruling to dismiss the 13 counts of graft and 13 counts of falsification of public documents against the respondents.

“The Court finds that the prosecution has failed to discharge the said burden [of proving the elements of the criminal offense]. Thus, the Court is constrained to grant the accused’s demurrer to evidence for lack of sufficient evidence to warrant their conviction,” the anti-graft court said. – Rappler.com

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