Supreme Court (File photo)

MANILA –The Supreme Court (SC) dismissed for lack of merit a petition filed by former Optical Media Board (OMB) chairperson and chief executive officer Ronald “Ronnie” Ricketts seeking the dismissal of graft charges against him before the Sandiganbayan.

The charges stemmed from Ricketts’ alleged failure to charge those arrested for possession of pirated digital video discs (DVDs) and video compact discs (VCDs) during a raid in Quiapo, Manila in 2010.

In a resolution promulgated in November and shared online Tuesday, the Court’s First Division affirmed the 2017 resolutions of Sandiganbayan’s Fourth Division that denied Ricketts’ motion for leave of court to file a demurrer to evidence.

A demurrer seeks the dismissal of a case by questioning the sufficiency of the evidence presented to support the charges.

Following the decision of the Sandiganbayan to deny the motion for leave to file a demurrer, the SC ruled that Ricketts’ proper recourse is to appeal whatever the eventual judgment will be.

“Hence, where the demurrer (filed by the accused) to evidence is denied (by the court), should the judgment be rendered against him, the proper remedy is to appeal the same, raising his defenses and objects for review before the appellate court,” the SC said.

In dismissing Ricketts’ petition, the Court ruled that there was nothing from the instant petition that would validate the accused’s claim that the Sandiganbayan gravely abused its discretion or acted beyond its jurisdiction in denying his motion and the demurrer itself.

It stressed that there was no showing that the Sandiganbayan’s finding on the sufficiency of the evidence of the prosecution was made without legal or evidentiary basis, or that the same was reached in a capricious or whimsical exercise of judgment that could warrant the issuance of the extraordinary writ of certiorari.

On May 27, 2010, upon Ricketts’ instructions, a team of OMB raiding agents seized 127 boxes and two sacks of pirated DVDs and VCDs as well as one video recording unit at an establishment along Carlos Palanca Street in Quiapo.

Three Chinese nationals were arrested.

The confiscated materials were brought to the OMB office but purportedly upon the instruction of Ricketts, 121 of the 127 boxes of the pirated materials were hauled out of the OMB premises and loaded into a vehicle marked “Sky High Marketing”.

No charges were filed by the OMB against any person or entity.

On July 18, 2019, the Field Investigation Office of the Office of the Ombudsman filed a complaint before the Sandiganbayan against Ricketts and other co-accused for allegedly giving unwarranted benefits, advantages, or preference to Sky High Marketing Corporation, by releasing and reloading into the corporation’s vehicle the confiscated items.

These comprised the pieces of evidence that could support the case that should have been filed and by not suing the violators of Republic Act 9239 or the OMB Act of 2003, caused damage and prejudice to the government.

The law regulates the mastering, manufacturing, replication, importation and exportation, distribution and sale of optical and magnetic media, and other media storage devices.

“All told, the denial of petitioner’s motion for leave to file demurrer to evidence and the demurrer itself was made by the Sandiganbayan in the due exercise of its jurisdiction,” the SC said. (PNA)