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Thursday, December 7, 2023

Sandigan clears former Postmaster General in unlawful appointment case

Former Postmaster General Maria Josefina Mendoza dela Cruz has been acquitted by the Sandiganbayan in one of her two graft and two unlawful appointment charges involving the same employee of the Philippine Postal Corporation (PhilPost) in 2011 and 2013.

Dela Cruz was charged in connection with the appointment of Esther V. Cabigao as a director in 2011. Cabigao was reappointed by dela Cruz in 2013 although she did not have a master’s degree, which was a prerequisite for the position.

In her defense, de la Cruz filed a demurrer to evidence which alleged that the weakness of the evidence of the prosecution to warrant a conviction.

The antigraft court found that the evidence submitted by the prosecution was not enough to convict de la Cruz.

The anti-graft court said it “found weakness” in the evidence presented to prove that de la Cruz was aware of the deficiencies in the appointee’s qualifications for the position of Director III at the time of the appointment.

In the 2011 appointment, the Sandiganbayan said the prosecution “failed to establish manifest partiality, evident bad faith, or gross inexcusable negligence.”

However, the anti-graft court found sufficient evidence to establish prima facie evidence of guilty in the other graft and unlawful appointment charges in the 2013 appointment of Cabigao.

“Accordingly, the trial for those cases should proceed and, consistent allow the accused to present countervailing evidence,” the court’s resolution said.

Associate Justice Maryann E. Corpus-Mañalac wrote the 22-page resolution. The Fifth Division chairman, Associate Justice Rafael R. Lagos, and Associate Justice Maria Theresa V. Mendoza-Arcega concurred.

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