Graft raps vs ex-Leyte mayor junked
Elizabeth Marcelo (The Philippine Star) - March 25, 2019 - 12:00am

MANILA, Philippines — The Sandiganbayan has dismissed a graft case filed against a former municipal mayor in Leyte in connection with an illegal quarry operation.

In a 21-page resolution promulgated recently, the anti-graft court cited insufficient evidence in dismissing the case against former Babatngon town mayor Charita Chan.

The Sandiganbayan’s First Division granted Chan’s demurrer to evidence, which sought the dismissal of her case without presenting her defense.

It also granted a separate demurrer filed by Chan’s co-accused, Christopher Estrella, owner of the quarry firm CSE Builders.

The case against the respondents stemmed from Chan’s supposed request to the municipal council to allow the CSE Builders to extract sand and gravel from the municipality.

The Office of the Ombudsman said the firm was allowed to operate in Salug Dongon River without a permit from the office of the provincial governor and the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR).

Anti-graft investigators said Chan ignored a petition filed by residents of affected communities and a recommendation of the municipal council to stop the operation of the CSE.

The First Division said while it was true that the CSE Builders did not secure a permit to operate from the provincial government and DENR, it was not proven that it was Chan’s request that paved way for the firm’s illegal quarry operation.

The court cited a testimony given by the prosecution’s witness, who was a member of the municipal council.

The witness testified that the council would have allowed the quarry operation as most of its members were allies of Chan.

The court said that even without Chan’s request, the firm would still be allowed to operate.

It said Chan could not be faulted for failing to stop the quarry operation as it is not within her power to do so.

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