MANILA — The Sandiganbayan has exonerated former Caloocan City mayor Enrico Echiverri and two others of criminal charges, in connection with the alleged illegal drainage improvement in 2011.
In a resolution dated Feb. 7, 2019, the anti-graft court’s 2nd Division granted the demurrer to evidence filed by Echiverri and former city accountant Edna Centeno and city budget officer Jesusa Garcia, after the prosecution failed to establish their involvement in the purportedly anomalous development projects of the city.
“Absent sufficient proof to establish any elements of the crime of violation of Section 3 (e) of RA 3019, the allegation of conspiracy, which should be proven as the crime itself, must likewise necessarily fail,” the court said.
It also noted that it cannot be said that the accused acted with partiality or gross negligence in awarding the PHP2.75-million contract to E.V. & E. Construction from May 9, 2011 to Dec. 22, 2011 for the improvement of Molave St., Drainage System (Phase 1) at Pleasant View Subdivision in Barangay 165.
The awarding of the contract was without prior authorization from the City Council, according to the graft case filed by the Office of the Ombudsman against the three former city executives on Apr. 14, 2016.
The project itself was admittedly completed and properly accepted by the local government and has since been serving the purpose for which it has been implemented, the court said in its ruling, affirming the findings of its 1st Division when it ruled that Echiverri was authorized by the City Council to enter into contracts for various city development projects, all of which were subsequently ratified in its resolutions.
The court also dismissed the falsification charges against Centeno and Garcia for certifying on May 19, 2011 the existence of appropriation for and obligation of allotment of PHP2.97 million for the same project.
“Simply put, the prosecution failed to prove the charges in the instant criminal cases with the required quantum of proof in order to convict at this stage of the proceedings. To require the accused to adduce evidence for their defense would therefore be futile and unnecessary,” the Sandiganbayan said. (PNA)
Photo by Jay Directo/AFP/ABS-CBN News