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Sandiganbayan junks Abalos’ motion for leave

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By JOHN CARLO M. CAHINHINAN

The anti-graft court on Friday junked the motion for leave filed by former Commission on Elections chair and Mandaluyong City Mayor Benjamin Abalos.

In resolution by the Sandiganbayan 6th Division, the court stressed that there was sufficient evidence against Abalos who is currently facing graft charges in connection with the alleged irregular procurement of vehicles while he was still Mandaluyong City mayor.

“After a careful study of the documentary and testimonial evidence submitted by the prosecution, the Court finds that, if unrebutted, the same is sufficient to support a verdict of guilt for violation of Section 3(e), Republic Act No. 3019,” the resolution read.

In 2003, Abalos allegedly procured two units of Toyota Revo VX200 worth Php 1.7 million without holding any public bidding.

The former Mandaluyong City Mayor has been accused of unilaterally purchasing the vehicles from Toyota Pasong Tamo in Makati City even without any audit observation submitted to the Commission on Audit (COA).

Toyota Pasong Tamo during that period was allegedly being ran by the late former olympian Arturo Macapagal. Macapagal is the older brother of former President and now House Speaker Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo.

Meanwhile, the anti-graft division clarified that Abalos can still file a motion for outright dismissal for his graft case but the members of the Sixth Division warned that the former poll body chair may loose his chance to present rebuttal if his demurrer will be junked.

Last year, the anti-graft court’s Fourth Division dismissed a separate graft case against Abalos in connection with the $329-million National Broadband Network (NBN) deal with Chinese company Zhing Xing Telecommunications Equipment Inc. (ZTE) citing the lack evidence presented by government prosecutors.