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Sandigan rejects Sajid Ampatuan’s bid for outright dismissal of 136 of 145 cases

GMA News Online logo GMA News Online 10/10/2018 Merueñas, Mark
Sandiganbayan thumbnail © Jannielyn Bigtas, GMA News Sandiganbayan thumbnail

The Sandiganbayan has denied a motion from former Maguindanao Governor Datu Sajid Islam Ampatuan seeking the outright dismissal of 136 cases of falsification, malversation, and graft the alleged P72-million school buildings project he pushed in 2009.

In a resolution dated October 1, the Sixth Division rejected the motion for leave to file demurrer to evidence of Ampatuan in 128 falsification of public documents charges and four counts each of malversation of public funds and violation of Section 3(e) of the Anti-Graft and Corrupt Practices Act.

The Sandiganbayan said the "prosecution evidence is sufficient to support a verdict of guilt," but noted Ampatuan can still file a demurrer on these cases with the risk of waiving his right to submit rebuttal evidence.

"He shall waive his right to present evidence and is submitting this case for judgment on the basis of the evidence adduced by the prosecution," the resolution read.

Ampatuan and his co-accused allegedly caused undue injury to the government in the amount of a total of P72.26 million when they made it appear that the amount had been used to purchase construction and lumber materials for the school building repair.

Four suppliers were supposedly paid for the construction materials, but the prosecution said there was actually no purchase as the suppliers were all non-existent. The respondents also falsified the disbursement vouchers (DV) to justify the use of public funds.

Ampatuan argued his signatures in the DVs appear to have been stamped or printed out of a computer template, and that the prosecution has no evidence that he knew the suppliers were fictitious nor knowledge on the transactions' irregularity.

He also said there was no signature above his name on nine DVs worth a total of more than P4.5 million, hence the partial grant of his motion by the Sandiganbayan.

While denying Ampatuan's plea in 136 cases, the anti-graft court granted his similar plea in nine other falsification cases.

"After a review of the documentary and testimonial evidence presented by the prosecution, the court grants the motion for leave to file demurrer to evidence filed by accused Datu Sajid Islam Uy Ampatuan," the Sandiganbayan said.

The grant of his motion for leave means Ampatuan, one of the suspects in the 2009 Maguindanao massacre that killed 58 individuals including 32 journalists, can still present additional evidence in his defense in case his bid for an outright dismissal is denied.

Ampatuan is currently out on bail in the murder case that stemmed from the Maguindanao massacre.

Aside from this case, Ampatuan faces graft charges with his brother and fellow Maguindanao massacre suspect, former Datu Unsay, Maguindanao Mayor Datu Andal Ampatuan Jr., over the alleged anomalous purchase of fuel and lubricants worth P22.37 million in 2009.

He is also accused of allowing the anomalous purchases of construction and lumber materials worth P38.1 million and food supplies worth P16.32 million. — MDM, GMA News

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