• Prosecutors disapprove Cedric Lee’s motion to dismiss graft charges

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    THE prosecution panel is asking the anti-graft court Sandiganbayan’s Third Division to deny businessman Cedric C. Lee’s request to dismiss the graft and malversation charges against him, insisting there is probable cause to push through with the case.

    Lee filed a motion to seek the dismissal of the cases saying there is no evidence to establish probable cause against him and that the facts stated in the charge sheets do not constitute an offense.

    “Accused-movant’s [Lee’s] assertion is without merit,” the prosecutors said.

    Lee is facing the charges along with former Mariveles, Bataan Municipal Mayor Angel Peliglorio Jr., who allegedly authorized the release of the municipality’s funds in the amount of P23.47 million to Izumo Contractors Inc. in 2005 as advance payment for a public market that was never built.

    The businessman, who is accused of beating TV host and comedian Vhong Navarro, heads the said firm as President and CEO.

    Quoting the charge sheets, the prosecution team said that “[t]he averments in the foregoing information if hypothetically admitted would prove the abovementioned elements of the crime of Malversation and Violation of Section 3 (e) RA [Republic Act] 3019.”

    R.A. 3019 is the Anti-Graft and Corrupt Practices Act.

    The elements of malversation are; that the accused is a public officer; that he had custody of the funds or property by reason of his office; that these are public funds or property for which he is accountable, and; that he appropriated, took, misappropriated, consented or through negligence or abandonment, permit another to take them.

    The elements of graft are; that the accused is a public officer; that he acted with manifest partiality, evident bad faith, or inexcusable negligence, and; that his action caused undue injury to any party, or giving any private party unwarranted benefits, advantage or preference in the discharge of his functions.

    The prosecutors stressed, “The Information[s]clearly states that accused-movant, as President of Izumo Contractors Inc., requested from accused Angel Peliglorio, Jr. (Peliglorio, Jr.), then Mayor of Mariveles, the amount PhP23,470,500.00 as advance payment for the construction of Mariveles Public Market, which the latter approved by auhorizing the release thereof from the bank. Yet despite receipt of the money, accused-movant’s company did not begin the construction of the market. Thus, accused-movant took the money belonging to the Municipality of Mariveles (Municipality) which he was not entitled thereto. This was made possible with the assistance of accused Peliglorio Jr., hence, the conspiracy. As a result, the Municipality suffered undue injury because its Internal Revenue account was debited in the amount of PhP14,056,084.43.”

    The state lawyers explained it is not an issue that Lee is not a public officer, citing the 2014 Supreme Court case People vs. Henry T. Go.

    “In conspiracy, the act of one is the act of all. Hence, the criminal liability incurred by a co-conspirator is also incurred by the other co-conspirator,” they said.

    The prosecutors also said Lee’s assertion that he was legally entitled to the P16.54 million which he received “is a matter of defense that is best ventilated during the trial proper.”

    In his motion, the businessman questioned the charges involving P23.47 million against him when his firm only received P16,540,500.

    “Likewise, accused-movant’s argument that there is no probable cause to indict him for Malversation and Violation of Section 3(e) RA 3019 is misplaced. The denial by the Honorable Court of his Omnibus Motion, which sought among others the re-investigation of theses cases on the same ground, is proof that probable cause exists for him to stand trial on the said offenses,” the prosecutors added.

     

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