THE Sandiganbayan’s Seventh Division has found basis to proceed with the trial of the cases against former La Union Rep. Thomas Dumpit Jr. and several others in connection with the alleged anomalous use of his P43.65 million Priority Development Assistance Fund (PDAF) allocation.
Earlier this year, the Office of the Ombudsman filed charges of graft, malversation, and malversation through falsification against the former lawmaker and several other government employees and private persons.
But no arrest order was issued against Dumpit since he already posted P315,000 bail last Tuesday after the graft court granted his appeal to reduce the initial amount of P630,000 in half.
Meanwhile, in the same minute resolution, the court denied Dumpit’s plea for reinvestigation on the ground that the Office of the Ombudsman failed to consider an examination report which declared his signature on the subject documents as forged.
The court cited, “Section 22 of Rule 132 of the Rules of Court explicitly authorizes the court, by itself, to make a comparison of the disputed handwriting with writings admitted or treated as genuine by the party against whom the evidence is offered, or proved to be genuine. Hence, the finding of the prosecutor on the issue of forgery should be ventilated in a full-blown trial. To stress, a preliminary investigation is not the occasion for the full and exhaustive display of the prosecution’s evidence.”
Dumpit was charged along with his former political affairs assistant Elsie Walican; then-National Livelihood Development Corp. (NLDC) president Gondelina Amata; NLDC employees Ofelia Ordoñez, Filipina Rodriguez, Emmanuel Alexis Sevidal, Gregoria Buenaventura, Sofia Cruz, Chita Jalandoni and Evelyn Sugcang.
Also charged were then-officers and staff of the Kabuhayan at Kalusugang Alay sa Masa Foundation, Inc. (Kkamfi) Flerida Alberto, Marilou Antonio, Godofredo Roque, Rodrigo Doria, Maria Paz Vega, and Ma. Neriza Gador.
As well as Joel Soriano, George Roque, Emilio Estaloza, Cresencio Palway, Lilibeth Aloot-Macazo and Carmelita Barredo.
The court ordered the issuance of warrants of arrest against the defendants except Aloot-Macazo as no notice and order to file a counter-affidavit were sent to her.
“Guided by the principles of due process, it is in the interest of justice that accused Aloot-Macazo first be given an opportunity to file her counter-affidavit or that the counter-affidavit she already filed be considered by OMB,” the court said.
In filing the cases, the Ombudsman alleged that Dumpit “indorsed” the supposedly unqualified Kkamfi to the NLDC “as project partner in implementing livelihood projects” in 18 barangay (villages) in Tubao, La Union.
The respondents, former Kkamfi officers and staff, allegedly submitted falsified documents showing project completion and full liquidation of the funds.