Sandigan reopens usurpation case against ex-Cebu mayor

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by Allan Yves Briones

“No less than his liberty is as stake in this case.”

The Sandiganbayan 5th Division remarked as it reopened the usurpation case against former Dumanjug mayor Nelson Garcia on the grounds of “justice and equity.”

“For the Court, it will be an injustice on the part of the accused if he will be deprived of the chance to present witnesses to authenticate the documents provisionally marked during the Pre-trial Conference,” the anti-graft court stated in a resolution.

On September 23, the former mayor filed a motion to re-open proceedings, arguing that the documentary exhibits presented were “mere photocopies”, and that his counsel failed to present the records officer of the municipality.

In its opposition, the prosecution rebutted that the concerned documents have already been formally offered. In addition, they alleged that Dumanjug’s failure to secure the certified copies also signified their failure to “observe due diligence.”

However, the court ruled otherwise, finding that the present motion was filed properly and timely by Dumanjug’s side, citing Section 24 of Rule 119 of the Rules on Criminal Procedure.

“Higher interest of justice and equity demand that the accused-movant be not penalized based on the negligence or mistake of his counsel,” the court said.

Garcia was charged with usurpation over the allegedly anomalous appointment of his municipal council secretary.

The resolution, promulgated October 25, was written by Associate Justice Ma. Theresa Mendoza-Arcega, concurred by Division Chairperson Rafael Lagos and Associate Justice Maryann Corpus-Mañalac. #