The most celebrated graft case in the history of Bohol is set to be raffled for assignment to one of the five divisions of the Sandiganbayan today, Wednesday, according to Atty. Victor Dela Serna, one of the complainants in the graft case that allegedly involved top officials of the Provincial Government of Bohol.
However, according Â to Atty, Lord “Popot” Marapao, 1V, legal spokesman of Gov. Edgar Chatto and Congressman Rene Relampagos Â “the raffle will be held on Friday, October 30, 2015” in consonance with the Revised Internal Rules (RIR) of the Sandiganbayan.
Section 1, Part IV, Rule XII of the RIR states that all cases filed with the Sandiganbayan shall be distributed among the five divisions for hearing and decision by regular raffle at 1:30PM of every Friday.
But both Dela Serna and Marapao agreed that the date of the raffle is immaterial but the fact that after 15 years the graft and corruption case has reached the Sandiganbayan, after several appeals filed by the complainants were denied.
Ombudsman Assistant Special Prosecutor III, Manuel Soriano, Jr. accused
Relampagos, then governor of Bohol, Chatto, the then vice governor and presiding officer of the Sanggunniang Panlalawigan, Vice Governor Concepcion Lim, former district board member are now facing Â a graft case at the Sandiganbayan for selling the water and electric assets and franchises owned by the PGB to a private consortium which is alleged as “manifestly and grossly disadvantageous to the government”.
Also included were the signatories to the assailed contract – incumbent Board Member Tomas Abapo who was a signatory to the assailed contract, former board members Arnold Lungay, Isabelito Tongco, Eufrasio Mascarinas, Felix Uy and former Provincial Attorney Inocentes Lopez.
Ombudsman Conchita Carpio Morales approved the filing of a criminal information with the Sandiganbayan on October 21, 2015 “that there is sufficient ground to engender a well-founded belief that the crime charged was committed and that the accused are probably guilty thereof”.
Five of the 16 respondents escape indictment due to their demise during the investigation of the case by the Ombudsman – Board Members Severino Caberte, Francisco Alesna, Sr., Renato Lim, Lemuel Digal and former Provincial Planning and Development Officer Juanito Cambangay.
Meanwhile, the rumors fanned by detractors of Chatto, Relampagos and Lim over their much anticipated mugshots and showing them in handcuffs is “pure propaganda”.
Atty. Lord “Popot” Marapao, IV, legal spokesman of the respondents accused by the Ombudsman for entering into a contract or transaction “manifestly and grossly disadvantageous to the government” told DYRD “Inyong Alagad” that mug shots are only for those who are going to be committed to a detention facility”.
“Chatto and Relampagos are not going to be detained. Their alleged offenses are bailable. The mugshots are not required only pictures”, stressed Marapao.
Mugshots of arrested persons as seen on television facing the media with their shoes off are not applicable to Chatto, Relampagos and their co-respondents, according to Marapao.
Mugshots are official photographs taken after a person is arrested. The purpose of a mugshot is to allow law enforcement to a have a photographic record of the arrested individual.
But Dela Serna disagreed saying “mugshots are part of the bail proceedings. Bail money will not be accepted without mugshot and fingerprints,” the lawyer-complainant stressed.
With the case now in the hands of the Sandiganbayan, the fate of the top officials of Bohol will now be decided on the merits far from the glare of media that has characterize the 15 years of the investigation of the allegations of graft in the sale of the water and electricity to the Salcon consortium led by Dennis Villareal.Â (Chito M. Visarra)