THE anti-graft court has denied the appeal of former Misamis Oriental Governor Antonio “Bong” Calingin after he was convicted over the anomalous housing project in 1996.
In a four-page ruling, the Sandiganbayan denied the urgent omnibus motion to lift bench warrant of arrest (dated March 22, 2019), that will allow posting of bail for temporary liberty, and to reschedule the promulgation of decision of these cases against Calingin through the special appearance of lawyer Eduardo Robles last May 17.
The court, however, denied the motion for lack of merit.
The Sandiganbayan resolution was promulgated on July 9. It was penned by Associate Justice Lorifel Pahimna and concurred by Associate Justices Oscar Herrera Jr. and Michael Frederick Musngi.
It can be recalled that the anti-graft court, in its March 22 decision, found Calingin guilty of 15 counts of graft and meted with a minimum of 90-120 years imprisonment and perpetual disqualification from holding public office.
Prior to his gubernatorial stint, Calingin also became mayor of Claveria town.
The case stemmed from the controversial Balay Ticala housing projects in 1995 in Claveria town and the anomalous reimbursements of more than P7 million under his name.
In his motion, the accused wants the bench warrant of arrest issued on March 22 be lifted and allow him to post bail and reschedule the promulgation of the decision based on the following reasons:
- He was not personally served with the notice of the scheduled promulgation;
- The notification made to Atty. Romualdo Densing regarding the promulgation of the decision on March 22, 2019 was not effective notification since Atty. Densing did not appear in these cases as counsel for the accused-movant;
- There was no other way the accused could have known of the scheduled promulgation of the decision.
However, the plaintiff argues that the motion of the accused is “bereft of any merit considering that records show that Densing remains to be his counsel of record since the withdrawal of appearance filed by said counsel on February 19, 2019 has no force and effect because it does not bear the conformity of the accused-movant as required by the rules.”
The court said the motion “has no leg to stand on.”
“When the accused failed to present themselves at the promulgation of the judgment of conviction, they lose the remedies of filing a motion for a new trial or reconsideration and an appeal from the judgment of conviction,” the order said.
“The court finds that the accused-movant was never denied due notice of his promulgation since as earlier discussed, the notices sent to his counsel and to his last known address are substantial compliance with the rules on notices and promulgations of judgment in absentia,”the order added.
On the other hand, the Sandiganbayan also denied the twin motions for reconsideration filed by co-accused Estrellita Ballescas and Renato Quiblat last April 5, for want of merit.