Court orders Nani trial for falsifying SALN


THE Sandiganbayan Third Division yesterday ruled that former Justice Secretary Hernando “Nani” Perez must stand trial for falsification of public documents as the graft court junked with finality his motion seeking the dismissal of the case.

In a seven-page resolution penned by Associate Justice Francisco H. Villaruz Jr., the Third Division said there is sufficient basis to proceed with trial, contrary to Perez’s argument that the offense should have been absorbed by the graft charge against him now pending before the Sandiganbayan Fourth Division.

Perez was accused of using his former position to extort $2 million from former Manila Rep. Mark Jimenez, a.k.a. Mario Crespo, in 2001 after the latter declined to execute affidavits that would have implicated several private individuals in the Estrada plunder case.

Based on this allegation, the Office of the Ombudsman filed four criminal charges at the San-diganbayan indicting Perez, his wife Rosario, brother-in-law Ramon Arceo and businessman Ernest Escaler for robbery and graft which are now pending before the First and Second Divisions.

Perez alone was accused in the second graft and falsification cases.

The court pointed out that based on the Supreme Court’s pronouncements in the case of People vs. Relova, it is possible for a single act to offend against “two or more entirely distinct and entirely unrelated provisions of law thus justifying the prosecution of the accused for more than one offense.”

The court reiterated that there is no basis to admit into the record newspaper clippings that Perez claims to constitute evidence that the Office of the Ombudsman bowed to “political considerations” in charging him in court. The Sandiganbayan said the news clippings were “hearsay evidence” since none of them contained direct statements from the Ombudsman and none was part of the pleading from the very start, unlike the newspaper excerpts of the diary of Sen. Edgardo Angara which were admitted in the case of Estrada vs. Desierto. – Peter J.G. Tabingo(Malaya)

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