Sandiganbayan junks Treñas’ appeal to dismiss graft case

The Sandiganbayan has junked the plea of Iloilo City Rep. Jerry P. Treñas to dismiss a graft case against him over the alleged misuse of a P500,000 priority development assistance fund (PDAF) of Senator Loren Legarda as financial assistance to the Iloilo Press Club (IPC) in 2003.

The Sandiganbayan’s 7th Division, in its resolution dated last January 28, denied for lack of merit the motion for leave of court to file demurrer to evidence submitted by Treñas.

“Since accused Treñas is yet to present his case, this Court has no basis to rule that his evidence is clearer and more convincing than what the prosecution has presented,” the anti-graft court ruled.

“Not only that, accused Treñas’ allegation that the elements of manifest partiality, evident bad faith or gross inexcusable negligence are absent in this case, likewise requires an examination of both the evidence of the prosecution and the accused,” it added.

In his motion, Treñas, former mayor of the city, argued that there being no notice of disallowance, there is no basis to say that the issuance of financial assistance from Legarda’s PDAF is a transaction that can be described as illegal, irregular, unnecessary, and extravagant.

He claimed that the prosecution failed to prove that he favored IPC over any other beneficiary since it was Legarda who selected the project and who has a hand in selecting the beneficiary of the project.

He added that Legarda has the sole discretion on how her PDAF will be used.

In its opposition, the state prosecutors maintained that the arguments raised by Treñas are evidentiary matters that are not yet proven.

“In fact, the prosecution alleged that the matters raised by accused Treñas require separate evidentiary matters that relate to the defense of the accused. Thus, prosecution prayed that the motion for leave to file demurrer to evidence should be denied for lack of merit,” they said.

The prosecution panel also clarified that the liability of Treñas hinges on his act of releasing public funds to a private entity and from his failure to exercise caution in releasing the funds and not because he selected IPC as beneficiary.PNA/IMT