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Nation

Ex-Pagcor vice president cleared of graft

Janvic Mateo - The Philippine Star

MANILA, Philippines — The Sandiganbayan has acquitted former Philippine Amusement and Gaming Corp. (Pagcor) vice president Estela Ramos of multiple graft and malversation charges filed over the alleged anomalous release of more than P120 million to an anti-drug organization from 2005 to 2009.

In 132-page resolution dated Nov. 11 and released on Monday, the anti-graft court’s Third Division granted the demurrer to evidence and dismissed the six counts of graft and malversation filed against Ramos.

The charges stemmed from the release of P120.24 million to support various activities and programs of the Batang Iwas sa Droga (BIDA) Foundation/Production from 2005 to 2009.

Ramos was charged as she was Pagcor’s vice president for finance and treasury department at the time.

In her demurrer to evidence, Ramos argued that the testimonies and evidence presented by the prosecution were not sufficient to convict her of the crimes charged.

She noted that the prosecution never presented any check voucher that she allegedly signed and that the documents presented were never linked to the check vouchers.

Witnesses, she added, “all chorused” that she did not take part in the preparation and approval of the requests for payment and accounts payable vouchers.

The prosecution argued that the testimonial and documentary evidence showed irregularities that revealed a pattern of giving unwarranted benefits to BIDA.

In the ruling penned by Presiding Justice Amparo Cabotaje-Tang, the Sandiganbayan said there is nothing in the records showing that Ramos had a role in the selection of BIDA as Pagcor’s partner.

The prosecution also failed to prove that Ramos committed evident bad faith in the release of funds, Cabotaje-Tang added.

Associate Justices Bernelito Fernandez and Ronald Moreno concurred with the decision.

During the trial, it was established that the release of the funds stemmed from various memoranda issued by then senior managing head of Pagcor’s corporate communications and services department to chairman Efraim Genuino.

GRAFT

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