MANILA -- The Sandiganbayan has junked the criminal cases against a former municipal mayor of Bohol province for issuing cockfighting permits, which were allegedly used for unauthorized purposes.
The anti-graft court's 3rd Division, in a resolution dated March 8, granted the prosecution's manifestation with motion to withdraw the cases dated Oct. 10, 2018 against former Mabini mayor Esther Fostanes-Tabigue for being meritorious.
Accordingly, the information in criminal cases no. SB-17-CRM-1584-1591 are considered withdrawn, the Sandiganbayan said.
The Sandiganbayan noted that the finding of probable cause against Tabigue was anchored on an error of fact and law.
The resolution on which the information was based proceeded under the assumption that the cockfights subject of the instant case were staged by virtue and under the authority of the mayor's permits issued by accused Tabigue. This, however, was an erroneous assumption, it said.
It added that the mayor's permits issued by Tabigue merely acknowledged that the cockfights would be held "as part of... barangay fiesta celebration(s)" and not for "charitable purposes", as alleged in the information.
The court also noted that the charitable purposes were approved by the Sangguniang Bayan and the police provincial director and not by Tabigue.
As far as accused Tabigue was concerned, she merely issued the mayor's permits, subject to compliance with laws and rules, on account of the barangay captain's representations that the cockfights would be part of fiesta activities, it said.
The Sandiganbayan examined the permits issued by Tabigue dated Sept. 9, 2013; Nov. 13, 2013; Jan. 2, 2014; and Nov. 18, 2014, as well as the special permits issued by Bohol Police Director, Col. Dennis Agustin, on Sept. 23, 2013; Nov. 19, 2013; Jan. 3 2014; and Nov. 19, 2014 and their attachments, and found the claims of the prosecution panel meritorious.
After a judicious evaluation of the evidence on record and a thorough consideration of the respective allegations of both parties, the Court finds merit in the prosecution's motion to withdraw the subject information, the Sandiganbayan said.
While some of the grounds cited by the prosecution may indeed be remedied by an amendment of the information, the Court notes that the Ombudsman has effectively re-examined and abandoned its very theory as to the alleged criminal liability of accused Tabigue, it added.
Records show that the mayor's permit issued on Sept. 19, 2013 was granted to Chairman Ruben Maglana of Barangay Lungsodaan, Mabini, Bohol to hold cockfights as part of their barangay fiesta celebration on Sept. 26-27, 2013 in Purok 5, Lungsodaan.
Source: Philippines News Agency