Jan 19, 2021 @ 15:31

Sandiganbayan says enough proof versus ex-Tacloban judge over bail irregularity

The Sandiganbayan has denied the appeal of former Tacloban City Regional Trial Court (RTC) Branch 7 Judge Crisologo Bitas arguing about the insufficiency of the prosecution’s evidence in his graft case concerning the irregular grant of bail to two qualified trafficking suspects who did not file a petition.

In a recent 3-page resolution, the Sandiganbayan 5th Division affirmed its October 23, 2020 resolution that denied Bitas’s demurrer to evidence.

This means that the evidence presented by Ombudsman prosecutors during the trial would be enough to lead to Bitas’s conviction if he failed to refute them. Instead of cutting the trial short as he hoped, he would now have to begin presenting evidence to defend himself on February 3.

The Sandiganbayan said Bitas merely rehashed the arguments it already passed upon in its earlier resolution to deny his demurrer.

“For failure of the plaintiff to present new matters that could warrant the reversal of the Resolution dated October 23, 2020, the Court finds no cogent basis, in law and in fact to set aside the same,” read the resolution penned by Associate Justice Maria Theresa Mendoza-Arcega.

Bitas was charged with two counts of violation of Section 3(e) of the Anti-Graft and Corrupt Practices Act. He was accused of granting bail to Danilo Miralles and Lynna Brito without hearing, despite them being charged with a nonbailable offense.

He argued that while he may have erred in treating the hearing for the determination of probable cause as akin to a hearing for the application for bail, it cannot be presumed that he acted with manifest partiality, evident bad faith or gross inexcusable negligence to be convicted of graft.

The Supreme Court (SC) in a March 5, 2014 decision suspended Bitas for three months and one day without pay after finding him guilty of the administrative offense of gross ignorance of the law. #

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