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Ex-judgeâs appeal to dismiss graft denied
In a resolution promulgated on Jan. 8, the anti-graft court’s Fifth Division said Crisologo Bitas, former presiding judge of Tacloban City Regional Trial Court Branch 7, failed to raise any new argument that would warrant the reversal of the denial of his demurrer.
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Ex-judge’s appeal to dismiss graft denied

Elizabeth Marcelo (The Philippine Star) - January 19, 2021 - 12:00am

MANILA, Philippines — The Sandiganbayan has denied an appeal of a former judge in Tacloban for an early dismissal of a graft case filed against him in connection with the allegedly anomalous granting of bail to two trafficking suspects.

In a resolution promulgated on Jan. 8, the anti-graft court’s Fifth Division said Crisologo Bitas, former presiding judge of Tacloban City Regional Trial Court (RTC) Branch 7, failed to raise any new argument that would warrant the reversal of the denial of his demurrer.

In his demurrer filed on Sept. 7, Bitas asked the court to dismiss the case against him for violation of Republic Act 3019 or the Anti-Graft and Corrupt Practices Act, citing the supposed insufficient evidence of the Office of the Ombudsman.

Bitas said he no longer needed to present his defense as the pieces of evidence presented by the prosecution failed to prove the elements of a graft offense, particularly his supposed giving of unwarranted benefit, advantage or preference to a private party.

But the Sandiganbayan said the prosecution’s evidence, both testimonial and documentary, would support Bitas’ conviction if it would remain unrebutted.

“The accused should present his evidence to disprove and refute all allegations against him and for the court to have a full appreciation of the instant case,” the Fifth Division said in a ruling issued on Oct. 23.

Filed by the ombudsman in 2018, the case stemmed from Bitas’ granting of bail to two persons accused of qualified trafficking without a petition or application to post bail in 2011.

The ombudsman said the bail was granted even as the charges were considered a capital crime punishable by life imprisonment.

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