Sandiganbayan maintains acquittal of ex-Bukidnon city planning and development coordinator » Manila Bulletin News

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By Czarina Nicole Ong

The Sandiganbayan Second Division has remained firm on its decision to acquit former city planning and development coordinator Junaida Guerrero Prantilla from Valencia City, Bukidnon of her falsification of public document charge.

Prantilla was earlier charged by assistant special prosecutor Wenceslao Caoyan of violating Article 171(4) of the Revised Penal Code. On Jan. 16, 2009 Prantilla reportedly received P396,800 “by reason of or in relation to the performance of her duties as city planning and development coordinator.”

The money was intended to defray the expenses for the annual budget hearing of the city of Valencia to be held at Crown Regency Hotel in Davao City on Nov. 24 to 26, 2008.

However, Prantilla reportedly made “untruthful statements in a narration of facts when she falsified her Liquidation Report No. 100-2009-01-353 dated January 16, 2009, an official document which she prepared and submitted to the Office of the City Accountant of Valencia to liquidate the cash advance.”

(Manila Bulletin File Photo)

She made it appear that the government spent P396,800 when in truth, only P151,288 was spent. She was acquitted by the court last year due to the violation of her right to speedy disposition of case, but the prosecution refused to budge as they filed a motion for reconsideration stating that the time it took the Office of the Ombudsman to conduct its preliminary investigation was reasonable.

This time around, the court dismissed their motion for lack of merit. “It bears repeating that the complaint-affidavit against the accused was filed before the Office of the Ombudsman on Feb. 9, 2010, and the information against her was finally filed before the Sandiganbayan only on Jan. 27, 2016,” the resolution reads.

It took almost six years for the Ombudsman to file the information, and no justification was made for the delay. The court said it could not turn a blind eye to the prejudice suffered by the accused pending the resolution of her case.

The court also cited double jeopardy, which is the prosecution of a person twice for the same offense. “A judgment of acquittal becomes final, unappealable and immediately executory upon promulgation, hence, cannot be recalled for correction or amendment, because of the doctrine that nobody may be put twice in jeopardy of punishment for the same offense,” the resolution concludes.

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