Espinosa plays safe on  treñas graft case

By: Emme Rose Santiagudo

ILOILO CITY Mayor Jose Espinosa III refrained from dishing acerbic words at his brother-in-law-turned- political rival, lone district Rep. Jerry Treñas, after the Sandiganbayan junked the latter’s plea to dismiss a graft case against him.

Espinosa, instead, made general statements on the matter.

“Dali na lang eleksyon atubangon niya lang ina. That is a process if you are accused of having committed an offense. Maayo gani gintagaan pa siya sang korte chance nga you should answer,” Espinosa said.

The Sandiganbayan’s 7th Division junked Treñas motion to dismiss the graft case that stemmed from the alleged misuse of the PHP500,000 priority development assistance fund (PDAF) of Senator Loren Legarda to the Iloilo Press Club.

The PDAF was released to the club through a memorandum with the City Government of Iloilo then headed by Treñas in 2003.

In a resolution dated January 28, 2019, the Sandiganbayan denied for lack of merit the motion for leave of court to file demurrer to evidence submitted by Treñas.

“Since accused Treñas is yet to present his case, this Court has no basis to rule that his evidence is clearer and more convincing than what the prosecution has presented. Not only that, accused Treñas’ allegation that the elements of manifest partiality, evident bad faith or gross inexcusable negligence are absent in this case, likewise requires an examination of both the evidence of the prosecution and the accused,” the ruling said.

Treñas cited the lack of basis in the accusation that the release of the financial assistance from Legarda’s PDAF is a transaction that is “illegal, irregular, unnecessary, and extravagant.”

According to Treñas, the prosecution failed to prove that he favored IPC over any other beneficiary since it was Legarda who was personally in charge of selecting the project.

But state prosecutors maintained that the arguments raised by Treñas were evidentiary matters that are not yet proven.

“The prosecution alleged that the matters raised by accused Treñas require separate evidentiary matters that relate to the defense of the accused,” they said.

Meanwhile, Treñas said in a text message that he would continue to fight the case.

“My lawyers filed a motion to file demurrer. The motion was denied. My lawyers will proceed with what is necessary under the premises,” he said

Espinosa said it is up to the Sandiganbayan to decide on the case.

“Ang korte mismo naghambal nga the evidence against you is strong and you can be convicted by the evidence of the Ombudsman, warning na ina sa imo” he added.

Treñas and Espinosa are both running for Iloilo City mayor in May 2019. (With a report from PNA)