SC junks ex-Pagcor chief’s plea for dismissalof graft raps pending before Sandiganbayan

THE Supreme Court (SC) has denied the plea of former Philippine Amusement and Gaming Corporation (Pagcor) chairman Efraim Genuino seeking the immediate dismissal of the 18 counts of graft and malversation charges filed against him involving the agency’s grant of financial assistances to different entities from 2004 to 2009 amounting to almost P160 million.

In a seven-page resolution, the Court’s Second Division affirmed the resolutions issued by the Sandiganbayan on July 9, 2021 and September 1, 2021 denying Genuino’s motion to file demurrer to evidence and his subsequent motion for reconsideration.

The motion sought the dismissal of the case against him on the ground of insufficiency of evidence presented by the prosecution.

The case stemmed following Genuino’s grant of financial support to Batang Iwas Droga Foundation Inc. (BIDA Foundation) and Batang Iwas Droga Production (BIDA Production), as part of its corporate social responsibility projects.

For the said disbursements, Genuino together with other Pagcor executives, were charged with 18 counts of violation of Section 3 (e) of Republic Act No. 3019 and another 18 counts of malversation.

In seeking the reversal of the Sandiganbayan’s dismissal of his motion for demurrer to evidence, Genuino argued that the anti-graft court gravely abused its discretion when it denied his motion despite lack of sufficient evidence to establish his guilt.

He also claimed that his constitutional rights to due process and presumption of innocence are deemed to have been violated.

Genuino insisted that all the transactions subject of the criminal cases were duly approved by the board as a collegial body.

However, the SC held that Section 23 of Rule 119 of the Rules of Criminal Procedure expressly prohibits the filing of a certiorari petition against the denial of one’s motion for leave of court to file a demurrer to evidence until judgment has been rendered in the main case.

The said provision specifically states: “The order denying the motion for leave of court to file demurrer to evidence or the demurrer itself shall not be reviewable by appeal or by certiorari before judgment.”

“Verily, the Sandiganbayan did not commit grave abuse of discretion amounting to excess or lack of jurisdiction in rendering its assailed resolutions dated July 9, 2021 and September 1, 2021…” the SC said.

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