MANILA – The Sandiganbayan has dismissed charges filed against workers of a branch of the Land Bank of the Philippines (LBP) in Marikina City who were accused 24 years ago by a government retiree of defrauding her of her gratuity pay via a fake bank account in her name.

In a decision dated March 25, the anti-graft court's Fourth Division acquitted LBP Concepcion branch bank cashier Emelyn Pizarro, bank clerk Hendrei Soriaga, teller Danilo Panaguiton and document examiner Ricardo Espino.

The court ordered that the case against their boss, then branch bank manager Eric Emmanuel Pineda who remains at large, will remain archived until the court acquires jurisdiction over him.

In dismissing the charges, the court noted that the prosecution failed to present the complainant, retired Pasig City treasurer’s office revenue collection officer Marina M. Coronel, so that she could confirm her accusations, and testify on the circumstances surrounding the allegations.

Coronel, who retired on Jan. 23, 1998, said the proceeds of a check in her name representing PHP364,892 in gratuity pay due her were withdrawn on Oct. 15, 1998, through a bogus account that bore her name that she did not open.

The court said while the prosecution presented proof of the said transactions including a testimony from a document examiner from the Philippine National Police, it did not prove that the workers were guilty of gross inexcusable negligence.

The court added that complainant's affidavits, even if notarized and classified as public documents, are considered as hearsay evidence when an affiant fails to go to court to identify, affirm and confirm the statement and the other party be given the opportunity to cross-examine.

It also noted that while the complainant’s affidavit contains a narration, it does not contain any statements that implicate any wrongdoing on the part of any of the accused.

“Rather, it appears that the private complainant only intended to accuse a certain Lita Pasumbal, against whom she attributed the undue release of her gratuity check,” the court said. (PNA)