THE Sandiganbayan has reaffirmed its order to dismiss two graft and corruption cases filed against businessman and former trade minister Roberto V. Ongpin over a P660 million loan.
On Tuesday, the anti-graft’s Special Division issued a March 7 resolution penned by Associate Justice Samuel Martires, upholding the dismissal order.
The resolution said the Office of the Ombudsman prosecutors failed to present new evidence and arguments to challenge the Sandiganbayan’s May 28, 2014 order to quash the graft suits against Ongpin, former Development Bank of the Philippines chairperson Patricia Sto. Tomas and 23 others.
“After going through the instant motion, we find that there are no substantial arguments that would warrant a reversal of our May 28, 2014 Resolution and in fact, the issues raised by the prosecution are the very same matters that have been previously been passed upon and resolved by the Court in the assailed Resolution,” the resolution read.
In June 2014, the Ombudsman filed a 99-page motion for reconsideration, urging the Sandiganbayan to reconsider its May 28, 2014 dismissal order on Ongpin.
The Ombudsman said the anti-graft court’s decision “was premature” since the “dismissal based on insufficiency of evidence may only be made after the prosecution rests its case.”
It said it “was deprived of its opportunity to prosecute its case and to prove the culpability of the accused,” citing the dismissal was “unwanted turnaround” and “constitutes a premature appreciation of evidence not yet formally presented and offered,” thereby “violating the right of plaintiff People of the Philippines to due process of law.”
Alex Poblador, Qngpin’s lawyer, said the loans could not be considered behest since these were paid with interest well before their maturity.
He said the loans made up only 17 percent of the total financing Ongpin raised since 2007 to accumulate the stake in Philex Mining Corp.
Last year, Ongpin issued an official statement and welcomed the Sandiganbayan’s decision, saying the decision “is a clear vindication” to him.
He said he had pursued to bring in investments to the country “despite the continuing persecution by the current administration.”
Also last year, Ongpin sued Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas Deputy Governor Nestor Espenilla and former Anti-Money Laundering Council executive director Vicente Aquino for freezing his bank accounts in connection with the DBP alleged behest loan case.