THE Court of Appeals (CA) has ordered the release on bail of former Pagadian City Mayor Samuel Co, who has been charged with syndicated estafa for his alleged intricacy in the multi-billion Aman Futures investment scam.
In an 18-page decision, the CA reversed and set aside the May 11, 2015 order of the Regional Trial Court (RTC) of Manila which denied his application for bail while granting that of his wife and co-accused Priscilla.
Also reversed by the CA were the orders issued by the Manila RTC on Aug. 24, 2015 and Dec. 15, 2015, which denied Co’s motions for reconsideration and clarification.
The Manila RTC denied Co’s motion to post bail based on the allegations that he used his position as mayor of Pagadian City to induce the victims of the Aman Futures scam to part with their money and invest the same with the said company.
“The Court hereby orders the provisional release of petitioner Samuel Co… upon posting of a cash bond of P500,000, unless he is being detained for some other lawful cause or causes,” the CA decision read.
The appellate court held that the evidence of the prosecution against Co was not strong enough to implicate him in the fraudulent investment scheme of Aman Futures.
“The prosecution failed to prove that petitioner performed any overt act in furtherance of the alleged conspiracy. The allegation that petitioner is a friend of the direct principals does not constitute strong evidence that he had conspired with them,” the CA said.
In his petition before the CA, Co argued that Manila RTC Branch 14 Presiding Judge Alberto Tenorio acted with grave abuse of discretion when he denied his application for bail despite absence of evidence to show his participation in the alleged conspiracy to commit syndicated estafa against their complainants.
He insisted that the evidence of guilt is not only weak, but totally absent, which warrants the granting of his bail application.
The CA, however, said the Manila RTC erred in denying Co’s application for bail considering the failure of the prosecution to present evidence that would establish his direct participation in the crime.
“Furthermore, the evidence presented by the prosecution does not strongly establish that petitioner deliberately and consciously acted in such a manner as would ensure the commission of the crime charged,” the CA stressed.