Sandigan acquits Echiverri of graft
The Sandiganbayan has ordered the dismissal of one of 44 graft and falsification of public documents cases filed by the Office of the Ombudsman against former Caloocan City mayor Enrico Echiverri.
Also acquitted were former city accountant Edna Centeno and former city budget officer Jesusa Garcia.
The Sandiganbayan said the ombudsman prosecutors, halfway through the trial, failed to prove the guilt of the respondents beyond reasonable doubt.
“Given the state of prosecution’s evidence in these cases, the court is constrained to grant the instant motion to dismiss on demurrer to evidence,” the anti-graft court’s First Division ruling released yesterday read.
Echiverri, Centeno and Garcia were specifically acquitted of a charge accusing them of giving unwarranted benefits to a contractor in an P8-million road and drainage system improvement project in 2011.
The respondents moved for the dismissal of the case halfway through the trial through a demurrer to evidence, which argues that the prosecution failed to prove its accusations that there is not even a need for the presentation of defense evidence and witnesses.
Echiverri and other former city officials are, however, facing 43 other graft and falsification of public funds cases arising from various government projects that were allegedly implemented without an appropriation ordinance from the city council.
The Commission on Audit initially tagged the government transactions as irregular but later on issued a reversal of its findings.