Sandiganbayan junks objection to evidence on overpriced IT kits

MANILA — For being devoid of merit, the Sandiganbayan has turned down the objection of one of the accused in the graft case against former Bacolod City Representative Monico Puentebella, in connection with the alleged overpriced PHP26-million IT (information technology) packages in 2005.

The Sandiganbayan 2nd Division, in a resolution dated last Oct. 29, denied the motion filed by Jessie D. Garcia, president and chairman of the board of Merryland Publishing Corp., objecting to the evidence of the prosecution alleging its failure to prove the allegations against the accused.

“Consistent with the pronouncement in the resolution dated Aug. 22, 2018, the Court rules that the testimonies of the various witnesses presented by the prosecution, as well as the admissions made and stipulations entered into by the parties, and the numerous documents submitted as evidence are prima facie sufficient for conviction, unless successfully rebutted by defense evidence,” the Sandiganbayan said in the resolution.

Aside from Garcia and Puentebella, former Department of Education 6 (Western Visayas) director, Victoriano Tirol Jr., has also been charged with violation of Section 3(e) of Republic Act No. 3019, or the “Anti-Graft and Corrupt Practices Act”.

The three allegedly conspired for the procurement of the overpriced IT packages taken from the priority development assistance fund (PDAF) of Puentebella from 2002 to 2005, which gave unwarranted benefits to Merryland.

Puentebella earlier filed a similar motion objecting to the sufficiency of evidence to sustain a conviction, which was denied by the Sandiganbayan in a resolution dated Aug. 22 this year. His motion for reconsideration was also denied in a resolution dated Sept. 24, 2018.