Dead in the water-A A +A
Tuesday, January 29, 2013
MANY Cebuanos thought the controversial case on the alleged overpriced decorative lampposts installed in the cities of Cebu, Mandaue and Lapu-Lapu for the 12th Asean Summit in January 2007, which hardly moved like a crippled ship, was dead in the water.
The Sandiganbayan, in a decision dated Jan. 17, 2013, dismissed the case for “lack of evidence.”
The decorative lamppost case, alas, is now simply dead.
Not unlike a medico-legal officer pronouncing a person dead.
Does this mean that the accused in this case, including Lapu-Lapu City Rep. Arturo Radaza, who was then Lapu-Lapu City mayor, and 12 others, many of whom are with the Department of Public Works and Highways (DPWH), are not guilty of the offense charged?
The ruling simply means the evidence is not enough to convict them.
Are they off the hook?
The dismissal of the case says it is without prejudice.
The Sandiganbayan said the prosecution failed to submit enough evidence to prove the officials violated the Anti-Graft and Corrupt Practices Act which prohibits public officials from entering into contracts or transactions grossly disadvantageous to the government.
Now we know the decorative lampposts were not disadvantageous to the government at all.
Thanks to the prosecution who failed to submit enough evidence.
Legal experts like my fellow columnist Frank Malilong say a case may be re-filed before the anti-graft court if it was dismissed without prejudice.
That speaks volumes about the prosecutors and investigators who filed the case on the controversial overpriced lamppost case before the Sandiganbayan.
As it was in all criminal cases as in the decorative lamppost case, the burden is with the prosecution to prove the accused guilty.
Failure on the part of the prosecution to prove the guilt of the accused does not necessarily mean the accused can walk free because they are not guilty.
Published in the Sun.Star Cebu newspaper on January 30, 2013.