Sandigan junks ‘pork’ raps vs dead lawmaker

Elizabeth Marcelo - The Philippine Star

MANILA, Philippines — The Sandiganbayan has dismissed the charges filed against the late Benguet lawmaker Samuel Dangwa in connection with the pork barrel scam.

The anti-graft court’s third division granted the motion to dismiss the case filed by Dangwa’s legal team, citing Section 89 of the Revised Penal Code, which states that a defendant’s criminal liability is totally extinguished if he dies before the finality of judgment of the case.

The legal team informed the third division that the former congressman died on April 3, 2019 due to a lingering illness.

Meanwhile, the court denied the motion of the prosecution to issue a writ of preliminary attachment to prevent the heirs of Dangwa from withdrawing funds from his bank account.

The court found no merit in the argument of the prosecution that Dangwa’s death did not extinguish his civil liability and the claim should be charged against his estate if the offense was proven.

The third division cited Section 4, Rule 111 of the Revised Rules of Criminal Procedure, which states that the death of the accused during the pendency of the case also extinguishes his civil liability.

However, the court said the prosecution could still file an independent civil suit against the estate or legal representative of Dangwa to enforce “liability arising from other sources of obligation” apart from his alleged wrongful act.

Dangwa was charged with six counts of malversation of public funds, five counts of graft and four counts of direct bribery in connection with the alleged misuse of his Priority Development Assistance Fund (PDAF) or pork barrel from 2001 to 2010.

The ombudsman said Dangwa allowed the allocation of his PDAF worth P54 million to bogus non-government organizations owned by alleged pork barrel scam mastermind Janet Lim-Napoles, in exchange for kickbacks or commissions amounting to P26.7 million.

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