The Sandiganbayan’s Special First Division stood pat on its ruling dismissing the case filed against Taguig Mayor Laarni Cayetano and City Administrator Jose Montales.
In a five-page resolution promulgated on February 11, the court denied the prosecution’s motion for partial reconsideration for lack of merit.
“The Court finds no compelling reasons to reverse or set aside the questioned resolution on the absence of probable cause for the issuance of warrants of arrest against the accused,” the anti-graft court said.
“Just as it is the Office of the Ombudsman’s prerogative to file an information before the Court upon a finding of probable cause based on its own assessment of the evidence before it, this Court, too, has the independent power to dismiss a case for lack of probable cause to issue a warrant of arrest after personally evaluating the same evidence before it. As emphasized in the challenged resolution, the Court is not bound by the determination of probable cause made by the prosecutor,” it added.
In October last year, the Office of the Ombudsman filed a charge of violation of Article 143 of the Revised Penal Code (RPC) before the Sandiganbayan against Cayetano and Montales for allegedly preventing the meeting of city council members in 2010 by padlocking the session hall.
Article 143 of the RPC punishes those who by force or fraud prevent or tend to prevent the meetings of local lawmaking bodies.
Members of the city council had described the padlocking of the session hall as “an act of hostility, premeditated and executed with undue haste, affording no prior consultation and no prior notice,” according to the Ombudsman.
But Cayetano and Montales explained that the move was part of the city’s reengineering and reorganizational plan.
Cayetano, the wife of Sen. Alan Peter Cayetano, maintained that she did not prevent the city council from holding sessions.