February 21 ------ The Sandiganbayan Sixth Division has cleared Shariff Saydona Mustapha, Maguindanao Mayor Datu Sajid Islam Uy Ampatuan of nine counts of falsification of public documents, for lack of evidence. The case stemmed from Ampatuan’s alleged misuse of P77 million worth of government funds, which were paid out to four construction companies. But while nine falsification charges were dropped, Ampatuan still faces 136 criminal charges over the reported implementation of ghost projects for the province in 2009, during his term as governor. He also faces four counts of malversation and four counts of graft.
In the resolution granting Ampatuan’s demurrer to evidence that effectively dismissed the case, the antigraft court noted that the testimonies of three prosecution witnesses did not prove Ampatuan’s participation in falsifying any document that led to the grant of the contract to the four “ghost” suppliers.
The court noted that while Ampatuan’s name indeed appeared in disbursement vouchers, purchase requests and purchase orders pertaining to the transactions, there were no signatures. “The prosecution’s evidence is insufficient in SB-17-CRM-0898 to 0906 insofar as accused Ampatuan is concerned, considering that such evidence failed to establish his participation, much less the precise degree of his participation in the alleged falsification of the documents,” the resolution said.