May 27, 2024

The Sandiganbayan has cleared a former Baguio City councilor charged with estafa by a private individual who sought help for the approval of a bingo franchise.
In a 21-page decision released on March 25, the anti-graft court acquitted Rufino Panagan for the failure of the complainant, Lumina Peil, to prove the elements of the crime beyond reasonable doubt.
Peil recounted that in 2003, Panagan offered a bingo business proposal to be established at Abanao Square. Their initial discussion said the franchise will cost P1.98 million.
A few months later, Panagan informed Peil that the new bingo franchise venue will be transferred to SM City Baguio and that they will enter into a joint venture agreement (JVA) with a known operator.
In his defense, Panagan said he obtained for Peil the certificate of no objection from the mayor’s office and the certificate of registration from the Department of Trade and Industry.
He said Peil failed to make the advance payment of P1.2M and as a result, the grant of provisional authority from the Philippine Amusement and Gaming Corporation for the business name “Bingo Pinoy” expired.
In clearing Panagan, the anti-graft court noted that it was Peil who failed to deliver her obligation and communicate during the crucial period of the transaction that led to the non-execution of the JVA.
“The evidence presented by the parties show there is no sufficient evidence to prove the criminal act because of the absence of the essential elements of the crime and the presumption of innocence in favor of the accused was not overturned,” the Sandigan said.  – PNA