MANILA -- The Sandiganbayan has upheld the graft charges against Iligan City Rep. Frederick Siao over the alleged anomalous land lease contracts the city government entered into with a private company when he was a councilor in 2013.

In a 16-page resolution written by Sandiganbayan Presiding Justice Amparo Cabotaje-Tang, the Sandiganbayan Third Division denied the motion to dismiss the case filed by Siao and former councilor Michelle Sweet-Booc, saying that the arguments they raised should be brought up during the trial.

“The presence or absence of the elements of the crime charged, existence of good faith or lack thereof, merits and validity of a party’s defense or accusations as well as the admissibility of testimonies and evidence are matters of defense and evidentiary in nature that are best passed upon during the trial,” the resolution said.

Siao and Booc were charged before the Sandiganbayan, along with former Iligan City Mayor Lawrence Cruz, last February for signing contracts with Salvatori Development Corp. for the lease of seven parcels of land in Barangay Tubod which was used as a bus terminal.

The Office of the Ombudsman said that there was no public bidding, and added that some officials and stockholders of SDC are Cruz’s relatives.

It said that Siao, Booc and nine other former councilors approved three resolutions authorizing Cruz to enter into the lease contracts. (PNA)