REP. Rodrigo “Bebot” Abellanosa (Cebu City South District) has gained initial victory after the First Division of the Sandiganbayan dismissed the criminal case filed by the Ombudsman against him.

In a 10-page resolution that was promulgated last Janauary 27, the Sandiganbayan granted the motion to quash information filed by Abellanosa, saying that the facts in the case do not constitute an offense.

When sought for comment, Abellanosa said justice was finally served.

“We and our best intentions for the city scholars and their parents are vindicated from the exaggerated and lopsided political opponents,” he said.

Because of the development, the higher court has ordered to lift the hold-departure order issued against Abellanosa and release the bond he posted for his provisional liberty.

Last October, the Ombudsman has filed graft charges against Abellanosa before the Sandiganbayan after they accused the congressman of violating Section 3(i) of Republic Act 3019 or the Anti-Graft Corrupt Practices Act when he allowed his school to participate in the Cebu City Government’s scholarship program.

At that time, Abellanosa was a city councilor, who also sat in the City’s scholarship committee.

He was accused of having an unlawful interest in City’s distribution of P51.065 million in scholarship programs since he was still sitting as trustee and president of Asian College of Technology International Educational Foundation Inc. (ACTIEF) in 2011.

But the Sandiganbayan said that after careful scrutiny of the allegations against Abellanosa, it concluded that not all essential elements of the offense were sufficiently charged therein.

To constitute a violation of Section 3(i) of RA 3019, there must be three elements that must be established first.

The Sandiganbayan said that the complainant failed to establish that Abellanosa has exercised discretion in the approval of City Resolution 12-3355-2011, which authorized former Mayor Michael Rama to enter and sign a memorandum of agreement with Department of Education and ACTIEF.

The court said that the previous Council’s act in passing the resolution was merely an expression of a sentiment or opinion and did not exercise discretion.

“Hence, this court is of the view that the passage of the subject resolution cannot be considered as a transaction or act as contemplated in Section 3(i) of RA 3019,” read a portion of the resolution.

The resolution was signed by Associate Judge Efren dela Cruz, chairperson of the First Division and concurred by Associate Justices Reynaldo Cruz and Bernelito Fernandez.

The Sandiganbayan also pointed out that it was clear that it was the Office of the Mayor that determines which school will be accredited as stated under the Section 5 and 7 Executive Order 10-124.

Earlier, the Ombudsman found Abellanosa guilty in a separate administrative complaint for grave misconduct due to conflict of interest and was ordered dismissed from government service.

However an appeal for that order is still pending before the Court of Appeals as of the moment.

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