The Sandiganbayan has acquitted former Parañaque Mayor Joey Marquez of graft charges which stemmed from the alleged overpricing of ammunition which he acquired for his bodyguard.
In the 67-page decision, the anti-graft court’s Second Division said the prosecution failed to prove that Marquez and his co-accused Ofelia Caunan, conspired to purchase the overpriced ammunition.
“Although administrative lapses may have occurred, through negligence, in the execution of documents supporting the three Disbursement Vouchers, conviction in these cases would nonetheless be unwarranted due to the failure of the prosecution to prove all the essential elements of the offense charged,” Associate Justice Teresita Baldoz wrote in the decision she penned.
“Moreover, it is fundamental that the evidence for the prosecution must stand or fall on its own merit and cannot be allowed to draw strength from the weakness of the defense’ evident,” the decision
In 2003, graft charges that were filed against Marquez and his co-accused Ofelia Caunan, former head of Paranaque’s General Services Office.
Marquez and Caunan were charged with three counts of violating Section 3(e) of the Anti-Graft and Corrupt Practices Act for allegedly having “conspired with evident bad faith and manifest partiality with, at least, gross inexcusable negligence” in favoring VMY Trading by entering disadvantageous contracts for the purchase of ammunition on behalf of Parañaque, when both were still officials of the city.
The Commission on Audit earlier found the ammunition purchased from VMY Trading was overpriced by P1.219 million.
For his part, Marquez was thankful for the decision, but admitted that he was not expecting anything.
“We were not expecting anything. What we were expecting was for justice to be served. We prayed for it. As a matter of fact sabi ko nga eh kami yung pineke eh, we don’t have to prove anything because we don’t know of anything that’s happened,” he said.
“It also showed na yung magpepeke, di magsusucceed,” he added.
Marquez’ lawyer Rodolfo Philip Jurado emphasized that the not guilty verdict is final.
“This is an acquittal, it cannot be appealed. The mayor is now a free man, completely,” he said.
The ex mayor’s lawyer also noted that during the hearing, they foresaw the verdict, saying the prosecution’s evidence was not strong enough.
“Basically, nung nagperesent, nakita na namin na mahina yung Prosecution. To our minds at the very start it was week. We have seen the COA report and at the start we have seen that the overpricing cannot be proven, legally speaking. There weren’t many requirements that were not fulfilled. We really prayed hard so mayor Marquez will be acquitted and so here we are now and we’re very happy for that,” Atty Efren L. Dizon, Marquez’ other lawyer said. —NB, GMA News