The Sandiganbayan has found probable cause to proceed with the trial of the graft and falsification charges against former Makati Mayor Jejomar Erwin “Junjun” Binay Jr. in connection with the alleged overpriced parking building of Makati City Hall.
The anti-graft court’s Third Division, in a 65-page resolution promulgated on April 18 and released to the media yesterday, denied Binay and other former Makati officials’ respective appeals to dismiss their cases.
The former mayor had filed a “motion for judicial determination and probable cause and to defer the issuance of warrants of arrest pending such determination.”
He argued that there is no evidence to prove his participation or commission of any overt act to warranthis indictment in the case as his mere signing of the Bids and Awards Committee (BAC) resolutions, contracts and other documents is insufficient to implicate him in the crime.
As for the falsification charges, Binay stressed “it is absurd to impute its commission to him as he was not even a signatory or author of the allegedly falsified affidavits of publication; and his act of approving the BAC resolutions is not an element of falsification of public documents and the said crime could be consummated even without his participation.”
The charges stemmed from the construction of the allegedly overpriced Makati car park building which amounted to P2.2 billion.
The court, however, ruled that there was probable cause to try Binay Jr. for falsification and graft charges because he was then the head of procuring entity (HOPE) and had the duty to evaluate the documents submitted to him by the BAC.
“A finding of probable cause needs only to rest on evidence showing that, more likely than not, a crime has been committed and that it was committed by the accused,” it stressed.
The court also said Binay’s motion was “a mere superfluity, if not a deliberate attempt to cut short the process by asking the Court to weigh in on the evidence without a full-blown trial.”
“There is probable cause to believe that the crimes of falsification and violation of Section 3 (e) of Republic Act 3019 were committed and that the herein accused are probably guilty thereof; hence, they ought to be arrested and brought to trial,” the ruling, signed by Sandiganbayan Presiding Justice and Third Division chairman Amparo Cabotaje-Tang, stated.
The court also stressed the issues raised by the accused in their motions are “matters of defense” and can best be examined during the trial proper.
“Indeed, ‘the presence or absence of the elements of the crime is evidentiary in nature and is a matter of defense that may be passed upon after a full-blown trial on the merits,’” it said.
Named as Binay’s co-accused in the charges were 12 former Makati City officials namely; city administrator Marjorie de Veyra, BAC vice chairman and General Services Department officer-in-charge Gerardo San Gabriel, city legal officer Pio Kenneth Dasal, Makati Budget Officer Lorenza Amores, BAC Secretariat head Manolito Uyaco, BAC Technical Working Group (TWG) chairman Rodel Nayve, Central Planning Management Office (CPMO) chief Line Dela Peña, CPMO civil engineer Connie Consulta, City treasurer Nelia Barlis, City accountant Cecilio Lim III, City engineer Mario Badillo and acting City administrator Eleno Mendoza Jr.