Iloilo City Rep. Geronimo Treñas has been given more time by the Sandiganbayan to present additional evidence to prove his innocence in connection with the graft case filed against him over the grant of P500,000 to a local media group when he was still mayor of the locality.
The anti-graft court’s Seventh Division granted the motion to withdraw demurrer to evidence of Trenas.
“Accordingly, the ends of justice and fairness would be best served if the accused Treñas will be given the full opportunity to threshed out the real issues in a full-blown trial,” the Sandiganbayan said in its May 27 resolution.
The case stemmed from an alleged release of P500,000 to the Iloilo Press Club as assistance in the construction of its building in 2003.
Treñas said the money actually came from the pork barrel or Priority Development Assistance Fund of Senator Loren Legarda, who he said selected the beneficiary.
A motion for demurrer to evidence is an accused’s plea to court to dismiss the case outright with the evidence on hand.
If that motion were filed without an approved motion for leave of court, the accused will lose the right to file a motion for reconsideration and present evidence in his favor if he were found guilty.
The Sandiganbayan also said the mere filing of a demurrer is not considered as a waiver of Treñas’ right.
“This Court is not ready to rule that accused Treñas had waived said right in this case because in the first place, he manifested his intention and willingness to present evidence as can be gleaned from the fact that he sought for the withdrawal of his demurrer without leave by filing the present motion,” it said.
The court gave one setting for Treñas on Aug. 8 to present all his evidence.
Treñas, in his motion, maintained the regularity of the disbursement, saying the Commission on Audit did not issue a notice of disallowance.
However, the court said this argument is “factual in nature best threshed out during trial.”