THE Sandiganbayan has cleared former Dumanjug, Cebu mayor Efren Gica from graft, malversation and falsification charges in relation to an alleged misrepresentation of a restaurant receipt during a seminar.

Associate Justice Michael Frederick Musngi said in his decision that the prosecution failed to prove Gica’s guilt on the three cases beyond reasonable doubt.

“No civil liability is hereby adjudged, there being no basis therefore,” the order read.

“Let the Hold Departure Order issued against the accused by reason these cases be lifted and set aside, and their binds release, subject to the usual accounting and auditing procedures,” it added.

Gica was accused of falsifying an official receipt from a Chinese restaurant for a dinner for the Association of Local Budget Officers seminar in Cebu City.

The actual amount paid was allegedly altered to P21,435 from P11,435.

The court said the branch manager of the restaurant who may attest whether the receipt was tampered or not was not presented as a witness.

It said while the rule is that public documents are admissible in evidence even without further proof of their due execution and genuineness, the documents subject of the instant information were offered not as authentic but falsified public documents.

“Thus, the basis for dispensing with the authentication of public documents does not hold true for public documents assailed as falsified,” the order read.

“The court finds that the element of evident bad faith is absent. It was not proven based on the evidence presented that the pertinent documents were indeed falsified,” it added. (SunStar Philippines)