Former Muntinlupa Mayor Acquitted of Graft Charges

BIG CHECK FOR A BIG GSIS CLAIM. The Government Service Insurance System (GSIS) General Insurance Vice President Antonio V. Resurreccion (right) hands over to Muntinlupa Mayor Aldrin L. San Pedro (center) a replica of a check worth P20.85 million, representing the fire insurance claim of Muntinlupa. The P20.85 million from the GSIS and the P50 million President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo allotted for Muntinlupa enabled its city government to expedite the construction of its city hall, which was gutted by fire on August 3, 2007. Mayor San Pedro said he will make sure that all Muntinlupa city properties will also get insurance from GSIS, as he called on other LGU leaders to do the same to protect their properties especially town halls, schools, and public markets from accidents such as fire. Also in photo is Muntinlupa councilor Icasiano M. Dela Rea.
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Former Muntinlupa mayor Aldrin San Pedro has been acquitted by the Sandiganbayan, the Philippines’ anti-graft court, of violating the Anti-Graft and Corrupt Practices Act. The court’s Second Division, composed of Associate Justices Edgardo Caldona, Oscar Herrera Jr., and Arthur Malabaguio, issued the decision on Friday. The court also acquitted Angel Palmiery, the President and CEO of Palmer Asia, the supplier of the fire truck units to the city government of Muntinlupa.

The 35-page decision highlighted the prosecution’s failure to prove that San Pedro showed “partiality, evident bad faith, or gross inexcusable negligence” that caused harm to the government and provided unwarranted benefits to Palmer Asia. The court also found that there was no evidence of malicious or fraudulent intent on San Pedro’s part in approving the disbursement vouchers that allowed initial payments to Palmer Asia.

The court emphasized that San Pedro’s involvement in the bidding process occurred after the fact, as the purchase orders and resolution of the city’s bids and awards committee had already been reviewed and signed by his subordinates. The court recognized the expertise of the committee in determining the qualified bidder for the project.

Furthermore, the court dismissed the prosecution’s claim of a conspiracy between San Pedro and Palmiery, as there was no supporting evidence to corroborate the allegations. The court found the credibility of the prosecution’s main witness suspect and noted the lack of evidence demonstrating San Pedro’s participation in the selection of Palmer Asia.

As a result of the acquittal, the hold departure orders against San Pedro and Palmiery have been lifted, and the bonds posted for their provisional liberty have been released.

This decision by the Sandiganbayan marks an important development in the case against Aldrin San Pedro and Angel Palmiery. The court’s thorough examination of the evidence and its emphasis on the prosecution’s failure to meet the burden of proof resulted in the acquittal of the defendants.

It is crucial to note that the Anti-Graft and Corrupt Practices Act is a significant legislation in the Philippines aimed at combating corruption in public office. The court’s decision in this case serves as a reminder of the importance of ensuring that evidence is presented to establish guilt beyond a reasonable doubt.

The acquittal of Aldrin San Pedro and Angel Palmiery underscores the principle of “innocent until proven guilty” and highlights the need for a fair and just legal system. The court’s ruling reinforces the importance of due process and the requirement for solid evidence to support allegations of wrongdoing.

The lifting of the hold departure orders and the release of the bonds provide San Pedro and Palmiery with the opportunity to resume their normal lives without the constraints imposed during the legal proceedings.

As this case concludes, it serves as a reminder of the complexities and challenges faced by the justice system in ensuring accountability and fairness. The acquittal of Aldrin San Pedro and Angel Palmiery demonstrates the need for a thorough examination of evidence and the importance of upholding the principles of justice.

In conclusion, the acquittal of former Muntinlupa mayor Aldrin San Pedro and Palmer Asia President and CEO Angel Palmiery by the Sandiganbayan highlights the court’s commitment to a fair and just legal process. The decision underscores the importance of presenting compelling evidence to establish guilt beyond a reasonable doubt. With the lifting of hold departure orders and the release of their bonds, San Pedro and Palmiery can now move forward without the constraints imposed by the legal proceedings. This case serves as a reminder of the challenges faced by the justice system and the need for a thorough examination of evidence to ensure accountability and fairness.

Source: The Manila Times

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