The Sandiganbayan has dismissed the two antigraft charges filed against a non-government organization over the alleged misuse of the Priority Development Assistance Fund of late former Maguindanao Legislator Simeon Datumanong. In its 32-page resolution promulgated on Oct. 5, 2022, Sandiganbayan Seventh Division Associate Justice Zaldy V. Trespeses concurred by Chairperson Ma. Theresa Dolores Gomez-Estoesta granted the demurrer to evidence filed by Maharlikang Lipi Foundation Inc. President
Gracita Cecilia Mascenon- Sales, an NGO involved in livelihood projects, and dismissed two counts of
Republic 3019 otherwise known as the Anti-Graft and Corrupt Practices Act against Sales and other public and private respondents.

The NGO and Sales were among those charged over alleged irregularities in the release of P3.8 million PDAF funds or pork barrel by Datumanong from 2012 to 2013. It was alleged there were violations committed when MLFI was chosen as implementer of the project when it did not follow due process. In the demurrer to evidence, Sales argued the prosecution failed to prove the elements of violation or that
Datumanong and the other public respondents acted with manifest partiality, evident bad faith, or gross inexcusable negligence, among others arguments.

She asserted that Datumanong did not endorse but merely requested that the livelihood project be
implemented by MLFI subject to the accounting and auditing rules and regulations of the National Commission on Muslim Filipinos. NCMF is the implementing agency tapped by Datumanong for his PDAF funded projects. In granting Sales’ claims, the Seventh Division of the Sandiganbayan ruled failed to prove that Sales conspired with accused with the public officers in the commission of the alleged graft charges.

It added there were no other conclusive evidence presented by the prosecution of an agreement between
Datumanong and Sales nor there was proof Datumanong endorsed MLFI as an NGO partner to implement his PDAF –funded projects. “It is basic that for a private person to be charged with and convicted of violation of RA 3019, it must be satisfactorily proven that he or she acted in conspiracy with the public
officers in committing the offense. Here, there is no evidence that the accused by some overt act conspired with any of the NCMF officers in the alleged giving of unwarranted benefit to MLFI,” the Sandiganbayan ruled.


Amianan Balita Ngayon