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Sandiganbayan upholds ruling acquitting Misuari of P77M ARMM IT scam

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The Sandiganbayan has upheld its ruling that denied the motion seeking to dismiss the graft and malversation cases against former Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (ARMM) governor Nur Misuari over the alleged anomalous procurement of more than P77-million worth of Information Technology (IT) packages in 2000 and 2001.

“The Court finds the subject motion for reconsideration unmeritorious,” the Sandiganbayan’s 3rd Division said in its resolution dated March 8.

“It bears stressing that accused-movant Misuari merely rehashed the same arguments regarding his alleged non-liability and lack of participation in the offenses charged, which were raised in his omnibus motion to dismiss and defer arraignment,” it added.

“The Court must stress that a comprehensive consideration of the merits of the prosecution’s evidence and the defense’s arguments, as to the alleged weakness thereof, is premature at this point and better left to trial on the merits. Suffice it to say that the Court has long determined the existence of probable cause and has already resolved to proceed with trial to afford all the parties the full opportunity to present their case,” the court said.

In his motion, Misuari asked the Sandiganbayan to reconsider its ruling dated Nov. 29, 2018, which denied his omnibus motion to dismiss and defer arraignment dated September 12 that year.

He reiterated that the court failed to consider that he only served as ARMM governor until Sept. 30, 2001 and that he was no longer a public officer when the alleged anomalous transactions were consummated in 2003 and 2004.

Misuari added that he was illegally detained from 2001 to 2008 and that he did not receive any money or funds that are subject of the complaint as payment was made when he was no longer ARMM governor.

“These arguments are not evidentiary in nature that require ventilation in a full-blown trial as the Court may take judicial notice of the same,” he said.

In its opposition, the prosecution argued that Misuari merely raised the same arguments or matters that have already been raised in his verified omnibus motion to dismiss and defer arraignment.

It added that for a motion for reconsideration to be given proper judicial cognizance, it “must contain not merely a reiteration of the arguments already submitted to and considered without merit by the Court.”

The prosecution argued that “there is no truth to the claim of accused Misuari that he had no participation in the consummation of the transactions subject of the Information”.

It cited the following documents that Misuari allegedly signed and approved in his capacity as ARMM governor:

For the transaction with MBJ Learning Tools: requisition issue voucher dated Dec. 21, 2000 for the procurement of P31-million worth of 124 sets of IT package for elementary and high schools; purchase order dated Dec. 23, 2000; and disbursement voucher No. 101-01-08-3190 for the payment of the IT package;

For the transaction with CPR Publishing House: requisition and issue voucher dated July 24, 2001 for the procurement of P46,261,260 worth of 170 sets of Multi-Media IT package from CPR intended for elementary and high schools; purchase order dated July 30, 2001; and undated disbursement voucher of P46,261,260 for the payment of the Multi-Media IT package. (PNA)

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