The anti-graft court Sandiganbayan’s Sixth Division denied with finality the plea of Philrem Service Corp. (Philrem) President Salud Bautista to throw out the graft case she is facing in connection with the alleged anomalous courier deal entered into by the Philippine National Police (PNP) with Werfast Documentation Agency, Inc. (Werfast) in 2011.
Earlier, Bautista’s camp filed a motion for reconsideration on the court’s ruling last May 18 that found sufficient grounds to try the case.
But the court thumbed down the said motion in open court after the prosecution moved for its denial, as it (prosecution) pointed out that the defense failed to attend the hearing.
Bautista was one of five individuals who were identified in the charge sheet as Werfast incorporators, namely: Mario Juan, Enrique Valerio, Lorna Perena, and Juliana Pasia.
The other respondents include former PNP officials Alan Purisima, Napoleon Estilles, Gil Meneses, Raul Petrasanta, Allan Parreño, Eduardo Acierto, Melchor Reyes, Lenbell Fabia, Sonia Calixto, Nelson Bautista, Ford Tuazon, and Ricardo Zapata Jr.
Bautista earlier filed the motion for reconsideration saying that the court “committed a reversible error in failing to consider the valid arguments raised in her Motion when it made its judicial determination of probable cause.”
According to the defense, there was no basis for her inclusion in the prosecution of the case.
“The Honorable Ombudsman conveniently included Ms. Bautista in its indictment despite the lack of a single finding as to supposed extent of her participation in the alleged conspiracy. Obviously, Petitioner’s inclusion as an alleged conspirator was grounded exclusively on her being a listed stockholder and director of the Werfast and nothing else,” it said.
Bautista did not participate in the execution and implementation of the deal and she was not actively involved in Werfast’s operations, it said.
The defense also pointed out that when Werfast was incorporated on August 10, 2011, the memorandum of agreement (MOA) had already been entered into by Werfast and the PNP.
“This can only mean that at the time when the MOA was initiated by the parties thereto, and eventually entered into, Ms. Bautista was absolutely out of the picture,” it said.
The defense then argued that the case should be dismissed because of the supposed failure of the evidence to establish probable cause against her.
In filing the case at the Sandiganbayan, the Office of the Ombudsman alleged that the respondents gave Werfast unwarranted benefits, advantage or preference by entering into a MOA with the said firm for courier services for firearms license applications, approving and implementing as mandatory the delivery by courier of firearms license cards, and granting Werfast accreditation as the PNP’s courier service provider for all such applications despite the firm’s supposed failure to comply with government regulations on courier services.
Such regulations include prior registration with the Securities and Exchange Commission, authority from the Department of Transportation and Communications to operate a delivery service, and accreditation by the Department of Science and Technology.
The PNP terminated the deal in March 2014.