SC denies Genuino’s bid to dismiss graft charges

Neil Jayson Servallos – The Philippine Star

January 4, 2023 | 12:00am

MANILA, Philippines — Former Philippine Amusement and Gaming Corp. (Pagcor) chairman Efraim Genuino has lost his plea to dismiss the 18 counts of graft and malversation charges that were filed against him over the disbursement of financial assistance in a span of five years amounting to nearly P160 million following a Supreme Court (SC) ruling.

In a seven-page resolution, the SC denied Genuino’s petition for certiorari before the high court to reverse the Sandiganbayan’s 2021 decisions that denied his motion for leave to file demurrer to evidence and subsequent motion for reconsideration that were both grounded on supposed lack of evidence from the prosecution.

Based on court records, Genuino had granted financial support to Batang Iwas Droga (BIDA) Foundation and BIDA Productions – anti-illegal drugs advocacy group – as part of Pagcor’s corporate social responsibility project.

Previously, Pagcor said documents it obtained showed how Genuino and 40 others who are also facing graft charges over the anomalous donations “purportedly conspired with each other to repeatedly and systematically siphon off Pagcor funds into the coffers of BIDA entities, or to projects intended to boost the popularity of BIDA foundation and/or the personalities behind it” from 2003 to 2010.

BIDA Foundation was a party-list candidate which lost in the 2010 national elections. The ombudsman earlier linked the party-list to Genuino and other Pagcor executives for its 2010 election campaign.

In the appeal Genuino filed before the SC, he argued that there was grave abuse of discretion from the Sandiganbayan when it denied his motion despite what he believed was insufficient evidence to establish guilt.

“For his constitutional rights to due process and presumption of innocence are deemed to have been violated. It cannot be denied that all the transactions subject of the criminal cases were duly approved by the Pagcor Board as a collegial body,” the petition as written by Genuino’s lawyers read.

In denying Genuino’s appeal, the SC said the Rules of Criminal Procedure do not allow filing a petition for certiorari against the denial of a motion for leave of court to file a demurrer to evidence before a final verdict has been handed down.

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 Sept. 1, 2021…” the SC said.

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