The Sandiganbayan has acquitted former La Union Second District Rep. Thomas Dumpit Jr. and two others of graft charges in connection with the Priority Development Assistance Fund (PDAF) scam.
In a decision promulgated on Nov. 8, 2019, the court’s First Division granted the demurrer to evidence filed by Dumpit. It also acquitted Romulo Relevo and Rhodora Mendoza of the National Agribusiness Corp. (Nabcor).
The court said no evidence was presented to show that Dumpit “had a palpably and patently fraudulent and dishonest purpose showing evident bad faith.”
“He did not act with gross inexcusable negligence in the release of the fund to KMBFI (Kasangga sa Magandang Bukas Foundation, Inc.) or in the implementation of the project,”it added.
“Accused Dumpit did not perform an act which manifested that he unilaterally chose KMBFI as the implementing NGO (or non-government organization) of the livelihood project. He was not a party to or a signatory of the two MOAs [or memorandums of agreement] between Nabcor and KMBFI,” the court said.
The court added that the prosecution failed to establish that Relevo, Mendoza and Dumpit knew that the supporting documents to the disbursement voucher and check were falsified.
The three were also acquitted of one count of malversation and one count of malversation through falsification.
The Office of the Ombudsman filed the four cases in 2017.
The Ombudsman alleged that Dumpit “unilaterally chose and requested” KMBFI as “project partner” in implementing livelihood projects to farmers in his legislative district costing P14.5 million. The funds came from his PDAF allocation.
It claimed that KMBFI unduly profited from the “fictitious transaction.”
But the anti-graft court threw out the case.
“[C]onsidering the entirety of the evidence presented by the prosecution, it is clear that accused Dumpit, Relevo and Mendoza did not appropriate, misappropriate or permitted another person to take public funds. They have exercised their duties with the degree of diligence required of them under the law,” it said.
It pointed out that the three accused did not know each other personally, and “they were not shown to have unity of action and purpose to commit the crimes charged.”
“Considering that the prosecution has not proven any act or omission on the part of accused Dumpit, Relevo and Mendoza from which civil liability might arise, no such form of damages may be imposed against them,” it said.