Criminal Law

Sandiganbayan acquits Davao Sur Town Execs of Graft

Date: 09 January 2019; Type: Legal News; Source: Philippine News Agency

MANILA, Jan 9 (PNA) - The Sandiganbayan has acquitted of graft the three former town officials in Davao del Sur who were convicted in August last year for allowing the sale of firecrackers which resulted in a fire that razed a public market in 2010.

The anti-graft court's Seventh Division, in a 16-page resolution dated Jan. 4, 2019, granted the motion for reconsideration filed by former Bansalan Mayor Edwin Reyes, former Business Permit and Licensing Office chief Rita Domingo and former town police chief Supt. Solomon de Castilla.

“The decision dated August 31, 2018 is thus vacated and set aside. In its place, a new one is entered acquitting accused Edwin Granada Reyes, Rita Potestas Domingo, and P/Supt. Solomon Anore de Castilla of the charge of violation of Section 3 (e) of Republic Act No. 3019 on ground of reasonable doubt,” the court said.

It noted that based on the evidence on hand, it was clear, upon a re-evaluation, that the prohibition on the selling of firecrackers was limited or confined only within the premises of the Bansalan Public Market.

“Even if the mayor's permit on its face allowed the sale of firecrackers at the public market, the facts all pointed to the selling of firecrackers outside of its premises, or in Viacrucis Street. Judging by the actions of the accused as against what appeared on the mayor's permit, there appeared to be no substantial violation of the ordinance,” it ruled.

In their motion, the accused pointed to an error in the law which may have been overlooked, had only the principle of “in dubio pro reo” been applied, but which may radically change the judgment of conviction against them.

“Accused are entitled to a favorable interpretation in their favor conformable to the constitutional presumption of innocence, the overriding consideration of which is not whether the court doubts their innocence but whether it entertains a reasonable doubt as to their guilt,” they added in their motion.

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