Ombudsman loses graft case vs ex-Caloocan mayor Echiverri
The Sandiganbayan has acquitted former Caloocan City mayor Enrico Echiverri and two other city officials of graft and falsification of public document charges for failure of the prosecution to prove their guilt over the alleged unappropriated road improvement project in 2011.
In a decision dated Dec. 14, the anti-graft court’s 1st Division also acquitted former accountant Edna Centeno and budget officer Jesus Garcia of the crime of violation of the “Anti-Graft and Corrupt Practices Act” and falsification of public document for insufficiency of evidence.
“Considering that the prosecution has not proven any act or omission on the part of any of the accused from which civil liability might arise, no such form of damages may be imposed upon them,” the Sandiganbayan said.
“This court remains convinced that there is no evidence to even hint that accused Mayor Echiverri was motivated by evident bad faith in entering into a contract for the improvement of pathwalk and drainage system at Phase 8, Package 1, Bagong Silang, Caloocan City contrary to the allegation in the information under Criminal Case No. SB-18-CRM-0346 for violation of Section 3(e) of Republic Act No. 3019,” it added.
The anti-graft court ordered the release of the bonds posted by the accused for their temporary liberty.
It also cancelled the hold departure order issued against the accused dated May 4, 2018.
Court records showed that the Office of the Ombudsman charged Echiverri, Centeno and Garcia with graft for conspiring in awarding a contract to E.V. & E. Construction in the amount of PHP3,550,170 for the road improvement project in Bagong Silang, Barangay 176, Caloocan City from June 1, 2011 to Dec. 22, 2011.
There was neither a specific or itemized appropriation for the said project or authorization from the Sanggniang Panlungsod (SP), the Ombudsman alleged in its complaint.
Centeno and Garcia were also charged with falsification of public document.
During the arraignment on June 18, 2018, the three accused refused to enter any plea, prompting the court to enter a separate please of “not guilty” for each of them. (PNA)