Sandigan junks PhilForest exec plea to junk graft raps

By Benjamin Pulta

April 19, 2024, 6:46 pm

MANILA – The Sandiganbayan has turned down pleas filed by the former vice president of the defunct Philippine Forest Corporation (PhilForest), Erwin Krishna Santos, and two others who sought the dismissal of graft charges against them in connection with the alleged misuse of PHP5.46 million in Priority Development Assistance Fund (PDAF) in 2012.

In an April 18 resolution, the anti-graft court ruled that the motions for dismissal filed by Santos and private individuals Gracita Sales and Quennie Rodriguez were "unwarranted."

The charges alleged that the three caused undue injury to the government and gave undue advantage to the Maharlikang Lipi Foundation, Inc., a non-governmental organization tapped to implement former Mindoro Oriental Second District congressman Reynaldo Umali’s PDAF for livelihood projects, which turned out to be non-existent.

“After a careful study of the record, the court finds unwarranted the pleas of the movants for leave to file demurrer to evidence,” the court said.

“The evidence adduced by the prosecution, testimonial and documentary, appear to be prima facie, sufficient for the conviction of the accused of the crimes charged in the information filed, unless successfully rebutted by defense evidence,” it said.

PhilForest, the agro-forestry arm of the Department of Environment and Natural Resources, was abolished in 2014. (PNA)