Sandigan junks Palawan engineers’ appeal in Malampaya graft raps

By Benjamin Pulta

April 2, 2024, 6:18 pm

MANILA – The Sandiganbayan has denied the motions for reconsideration filed by three former Palawan officials charged in 2017 in connection with alleged irregularities in 210 public projects involving PHP1.585 billion in royalties from the Malampaya-Camago natural gas field.

In a resolution dated April 2, the anti-graft court denied the bid of engineers Romeo C. Llacuna and Bernard I. Zambales, and senior technical audit specialist Ronelo del Socorro to reconsider an earlier decision junking their motion to drop graft charges against them.

"All things considered, there being no new or additional arguments or compelling reason raised by the accused-movants to warrant a reconsideration of the assailed resolution of the Court denying their motions for leave of court to file demurrer to evidence, the denial of their motions to revisit the resolution for lack of merit is in order," the court said.

Last January, the Sandiganbayan denied the motion to file demurrer to evidence filed by the three, along with ex-Palawan governor Joel Reyes and provincial engineer Charlie M. Factor in the Malampaya graft cases.

Among other things, the three cited a decision by the Puerto Princesa Regional Trial Court Branch 51 where del Socorro was acquitted on reasonable doubt in a closely related falsification of public document case involving the inspection report prepared in relation to the implementation of Phase 1 of the SVADP (San Vicente Airport Development Project).

However, the court said "other than the fact that the inspection report (in the RTC case) relates to the same SVAD project, the present controversy pertains to different parties, issues, and subject matter.” (PNA)