The Sandiganbayan threw out the case filed against Taguig City Mayor Laarni Cayetano and City Administrator Jose Montales for lack of probable cause.
The Office of the Ombudsman filed a complaint against Cayetano, the wife of Sen. Alan Peter Cayetano, and Montales for allegedly preventing the meeting of city council members in 2010 by padlocking the session hall.
But the anti-graft court’s First Division said there was no sufficient evidence to prove hold the mayor for trial.
“Indeed, there is no probable cause to believe that the accused committed the offense charged to justify the issuance of warrants of arrest,’” it said.
The court found that the acts of Cayetano and Montales belied the allegations that they prevented the Sangguniang Panlungsod from holding its session.
“With the three-day notice and an invitation for suggestion, it is hard to believe that the accused meant to prevent the holding of the session of the SP on August 16, 2010. If the intention of the accused was to prevent the SP from holding its session, the accused would not have bothered to inform the SP and its Members and attempted to elicit some inputs from them, which could have likely frustrated the supposed aim of the accused to prevent the SP from conducting its session,” it said.
The court was referring to an August 13, 2010 letter received by the complainants wherein Montales informed them of the repair and reassignment of offices in the City Hall starting August 16.
The court also said Montales offered the biggest room in the City Auditorium where city council members could hold sessions.
“To the mind of the Court, these are well-meaning acts and gestures purposely to allow the SP to proceed with its session, although in a different room. Again, had the accused meant to prevent the SP from holding its session, they should not have bothered to provide the SP an alternative venue, newly-painted at that and complete with the amenities of a session hall, including the sound system, and made sure that the public was informed of the new venue,” it said.
Associate Justice Efren De la Cruz, who leads the court’s First Division, penned the ruling which was concurred in by Associate Justices Rodolfo Ponferrada and Rafael Lagos.