Court asked to hold acquittal of SCotabato lawmaker, 2 others

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Prosecutors underthe Office of the Ombudsman are asking the Sandiganbayan’s Seventh Division to reconsider the acquittal of South Cotabato First District Rep. Pedro Acharon Jr. and two others over a graft case in connection with the issuance of a travel order when he was mayor of General Santos City in 2006.

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In a six-page motion for reconsideration, the prosecutors argued they “presented proof beyond reasonable doubt of all the elements charged…”

“In this light, the prosecution seeks the reconsideration of the decision subject of this motion on the ground that, with due respect, the Honorable Court has grossly misappreciated and misinterpreted the evidence on record resulting in a grave miscarriage of justice,” they said.

Acquitted along with Acharon were then-Sangguniang Panlungsod (SP or City Council) members Jose Orlando Acharon and Minda Atendido.

The case stemmed from the travel order allegedly issued to Acharon and Atendido for their trip to Los Angeles in the United States on June 9–16, 2006 even when their request for authority to travel was disapproved by the then-secretary of the Department of the Interior and Local Government (DILG).

The foreign travel was for the two then-city councilors’ participation in the Pagana Dinner and Tambayayong Festival 2006.

In its ruling, the court held that “[n]o undue injury caused to the government was proven,” adding that Acharon and Atendido “cannot be deemed as ‘private parties’” who were allegedly given unwarranted benefits, advantage or preference.

It said in part the foreign travel was supposedly official in nature, adding that the delegation of the two then-city councilors to the Tambayayong Festival “was in their capacity as [then-]‘City Councilor’ of General Santos City.”
But the prosecutors argued that the two former city councilors should be considered as private parties.

“For the prosecution, this intention for them to travel in their capacity as [then-]‘City Councilors,’ can only be the perceived intention for the issuance of the travel order in their favor. Such intention however, cannot overcome the established fact that accused were not granted travel authority by the [DILG] so there is no basis to consider accused as traveling in their official capacity. Accused former Mayor Pedro B. Acharon Jr. does not have the power to grant them official travel despite the denial of their request for travel authority from the DILG,” they said.

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