By: Gerome Dalipe
FORMER Tigbauan, Iloilo mayor James Excelsior Torres can present additional evidence in his bid to convince the Sandiganbayan to junk the graft charges against him and two others.
This, after the anti-graft court’s Fourth Division granted the defense’s motion for leave of court to allow presentation of additional documentary evidence within 10 days.
Torres intends to present his evidence to prove his innocence on accusations that he conspired with the supplier in the purchase of two second-hand farm tractors in 2009.
A “demurrer to evidence” has the same effect on a motion to dismiss, with the connotation that the evidence of the prosecution was not sufficient.
The Office of the Ombudsman has indicted Torres, former municipal agriculturist Eugenia Sayson, and former market supervisor George Tinguban for violating Sec. 3 (e) of Republic Act 3019, or the Anti-Graft and Corrupt Practices Act.
They allegedly conspired to facilitate the municipality’s purchase of two defective second-hand Ford 8210 farm tractors from Grand Empire Truck and Equipment Center Corp. amounting to P1.87-million in 2009.
The accused are seeking leave to file their respective demurrers in order “to properly demonstrate how the prosecution allegedly failed to prove the existence of all of the Anti-Graft and Corrupt Practices Act.”
But the prosecution said the accused’s motion ought to be dismissed outright for failure to state the specific ground in Section 23 of Rule 119 of the Rules of Court.
In the ruling, the Sandiganbayan granted Torres and Tinguban’s respective motions for leave to file demurrer to evidence. A “leave of court” is a permission from the court to take action that would otherwise not be permissible.
“Considering that the prosecution appears to have failed in establishing a prima facie case against the movants, it is but proper for the court to grant Torres and Tinguban’s respective motions for leave to file demurrer to evidence,” read the ruling.
For his part, Sayson merely made a general allegation in her motion that the prosecution evidence miserably failed to prove her criminal, the auditors said. Likewise, the Sandiganbayan said the prosecution’s evidence miserably failed to prove her criminal intent.