“An assiduous review of both testimonial and documentary evidence... will confirm that the prosecution’s evidence is not sufficient to warrant the conviction of Relampagos,” the Sandiganbayan’s First Division said in a resolution released yesterday.
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Ex-DBM exec Mario Relampagos cleared of ‘pork barrel’ charges
Elizabeth Marcelo (The Philippine Star) - February 7, 2019 - 12:00am

MANILA, Philippines — Former budget undersecretary Mario Relampagos has been cleared of the charges filed against him in connection with the alleged misuse of P50.5 million in Priority Development Assistance Fund (PDAF) of former Cagayan de Oro congressman Constantino Jaraula.

“An assiduous review of both testimonial and documentary evidence... will confirm that the prosecution’s evidence is not sufficient to warrant the conviction of Relampagos,” the Sandiganbayan’s First Division said in a resolution released yesterday.

Relampagos was acquitted of two counts each of graft and malversation of public funds as the court granted the demurrer to evidence that he filed last Aug. 6.

A demurrer seeks the dismissal of the case halfway through the trial based on the weak evidence of the prosecution.

The court agreed with Relampagos that the prosecution failed to present a single evidence to prove that he conspired with Jaraula and his co-accused.

The Sandiganbayan said Relampagos’ signing of special allotment release orders and advices of notice of cash allocation issued is not proof of conspiracy and “well within his lawful authority” as budget undersecretary.

The Office of the Ombudsman said Relampagos’ act paved way for the release of Jaraula’s PDAF to the now defunct Technology Resource Center (TRC), which was chosen as the partner agency, despite the absence of a project proposal. 

Hearsay

The court also dismissed as “hearsay” the testimony of state witness Ben Luy.

Luy had testified that his former boss, Janet Lim-Napoles, the alleged brains of the PDAF or pork barrel scam, told him that Relampagos was their “contact” in the Department of Budget and Management.

“Aside from what Napoles told him, Luy failed to support his claim about Relampagos’ involvement. Luy did not claim to have dealt with Relampagos directly, whether in person or via phone call or that Relampagos appeared as a payee in the DDRs (daily disbursement records),” the decision read.

The DDRs served as Luy’s ledger, which he claimed he used to record the payments given to government officials and lawmakers involved in the PDAF scam.

The court also acquitted former TRC deputy director general Dennis Cunanan of three counts each of graft and malversation in connection with the case.

The trial of Jaraula is ongoing.

MARIO RELAMPAGOS PRIORITY DEVELOPMENT ASSISTANCE FUND
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