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Sandigan denies Oriental Mindoro mayor motion for leave

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by Allan Yves Briones

The Sandiganbayan 4th Division denied the motion for leave filed by Socorro Mayor Maria Fe Brondiel, stating that it lacked merit.

“[T]he Court considers the prosecution’s adduced evidence as prima facie sufficient to sustain the charge for violation of Section 8 of R.A. No. 6713,” the court stated in a resolution promulgated September 11.

Brondiel was charged for allegedly refusing to file her yearly Statements of Assets, Liabilities and Networth (SALN) for over a decade, from 1998 to 2007.

In her motion for leave to file demurrer filed August 13, she argued that the evidence presented by the prosecution “failed to prove beyond reasonable doubt” her committing an illegal act.

In addition, she claimed that her argument is supported by the “irremovability of public records” stated under Section 26, Rule 132 of the Rules of Court.

However, the court ruled otherwise.

“(If the prosecution’s evidence) remains unrebutted, it can support a finding of guilty beyond reasonable doubt. Under the circumstances, it is imperative upon said accused to present her evidence in order to counter the charges against her,” the court said.

A demurrer for evidence is tantamount to a dismissal of the case. In this case, a motion for leave is filed to be granted the opportunity to file a demurrer – without which, the party is understood to be filing no additional evidence.

Brondiel made the news in 2018 over a flirtatious joke made by President Rodrigo Duterte.

The resolution was written by Associate Justice Reynaldo Cruz, concurred by Division Chairperson Alex Quiroz and Associate Justice Bayani Jacinto.