SC upholds Recom Echiverri’s first-ever acquittal in ‘unauthorized projects’ cases
The Supreme Court (SC) has upheld the first-ever acquittal of former Caloocan City Mayor Enrico Echiverri out of the more than 40 graft cases filed before the Sandiganbayan.
According to a recent 3-page notice, the SC 2nd Division dismissed the Ombudsman’s appeal on the Sandiganbayan 1st Division’s April 16, 2018 decision to grant Echiverri’s demurrer in the case involving an P8.08-million road and drainage project.
The SC stressed that the grant of the demurrer—which seeks the dismissal of the case on the ground of the prosecution evidence’s insufficiency to lead to a conviction—“operates as an acquittal.”
“Thus, a reopening of the case will subject them to double jeopardy,” read the notice, adding that the Ombudsman failed to show deprivation of due process or grave abuse of discretion to warrant the reversal of the acquittal.
The case concerned the alleged lack of authorization by the Sangguniang Panlungsod (SP) prior to Echiverri’s award of the contract to P.B. Grey Construction in October 2011.
The SC said the Sandiganbayan “correctly ruled” that the city council’s approval of the 2010 supplemental budget and the 2012 ratification of unauthorized projects were already proof that Echiverri obtained its consent.
It also noted that the road and drainage project “strictly underwent” the required procurement process, which “eliminat[ed] the possibility that it was entered into by respondents with manifest partiality or with gross inexcusable negligence.”
The SC also upheld the acquittal of city accountant Edna Centeno and city budget officer Jesusa Garcia of graft and falsification charges for certifying the availability of funds.