Ex-PNP chief’s P409.7 million graft trial to proceed

Janvic Mateo - The Philippine Star

MANILA, Philippines — Former Philippine National Police (PNP) chief Avelino Razon will continue to face trial over the graft and malversation charges filed against him and other former police officials in relation to the alleged “ghost” repair of vehicles worth more than P400 million over 15 years ago.

In a 273-page resolution dated June 21 and released on Friday night, the Sandiganbayan Fourth Division denied Razon’s demurrer to evidence in two graft and two malversation through falsification of documents charges filed against him.

A demurrer to evidence challenges the sufficiency of evidence presented by the prosecution during the trial. The case will be dismissed if a demurrer is granted.

In its ruling, the court said that at this stage of the proceedings, the prosecution’s evidence is strong enough to support the indictments against Razon and over a dozen co-accused.

The cases stemmed from a complaint filed by the Fact-Finding Investigation Bureau of the Deputy Ombudsman for the Military and Law Enforcement Office over the alleged anomalous transactions relating to the repair and maintenance of 28 units of V-150 Light Armored Vehicles of the PNP totaling P409.74 million in 2007.

In 2012, the ombudsman found probable cause to file charges of graft, malversation and procurement law violation in relation to four transactions.

During the trial, the prosecution alleged that the accused falsified public documents to make it appear that there were valid biddings and that there were deliveries made.

The malversation and graft cases against Razon that will proceed to trial involved the alleged anomalous procurement of vehicle supplies, spare parts and maintenance worth P134.388 million and P239.615 million.

In both transactions, the court noted that the former police chief signed the purchase and work orders “despite the defects and irregularities therein.”

“As HoPE (head of the procuring entity), he should have already noticed the stark anomalies attendant in both the procurement and disbursement processes yet appeared to have made no attempt to make further inquiries,” read the ruling penned by Associate Justice Bayani Jacinto.

“In approving the disbursements made to the three proponents under these circumstances, his attitude bespeaks of bad faith and manifest partiality. Considering that there were ready indications of lack of delivery, if not questions that may be raised relative thereto, he still signed off on the disbursements, putting him at the same level as the other accused certifying officers,” it added.

But in the same ruling, the Fourth Division also granted the demurrer to evidence of some of the accused, including those filed by former police comptrollers Eliseo dela Paz and Geary Barias.

The court also dismissed the four counts of violation of procurement law for failure of the prosecution to sustain the charges against the accused.

Associate Justices Michael Frederick Musngi and Lorifel Lacap Pahimna concurred with the result of the decision.

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