FOR missing a court deadline by a week, former Presidential Commission on Good Government (PCGG) chairman Camilo Sabio lost his chance to challenge his conviction on a graft charge last November 29.
In a resolution dated January 27, 2020 but released only this week, the Sandiganbayan Fourth Division issued an arrest order against Sabio for his six-year jail sentence after he was found guilty of unlawful attempt to influence a pending case at the Court of Appeals (CA).
The case stemmed from a phone call made by Sabio to his brother, the late CA Associate Justice Jose Sabio, where the former PCGG chief tried to intercede on behalf of the Government Service Insurance System (GSIS).
Trial records showed chairman Sabio received a phone call from lawyer Jesus Santos, a member of the GSIS Board of Trustees, on May 30, 2008 informing him that a case filed by the Manila Electric Company (Meralco) against the GSIS has landed in the division chaired by his brother Justice Sabio.
Santos reportedly requested for assistance, prompting Sabio to call his brother to convince him “of the rightness of the stand of the GSIS.”
The appellate court magistrate, however, said he will vote according to his conscience.
Justice Sabio and the two other members of the CA division eventually granted Meralco’s petition, disregarding the wishes of his brother.
The CA justice died on April 18, 2012, four years before the Office of the Ombudsman came out with a finding of probable cause against chairman Sabio.
The Sandiganbayan noted that under the rules, an accused is given 15 days after conviction to file an appeal.
Since the judgment was rendered on November 29, 2019, Sabio had until December 14, 2019 to file a motion for reconsideration. He gained two additional days since December 14 fell on a Saturday, which meant the deadline is automatically moved to December 16, 2019 which is the next workday.
“Based on records, accused Sabio’s motion was only filed on 23 December 2019 which is beyond the allowable period. Accordingly, the failure of the accused to file his motion for reconsideration within the prescribed period renders the judgment of conviction… final and executory,” the Sandiganbayan ruled.
Likewise, the court ordered Sabio’s post-promulgation bail bond cancelled paving the way for the issuance of a warrant for his arrest.
The court clarified that even if it were to relax the rules and give due course to the defendant’s appeal, the appeal would still have been denied for lack of merit.
“The motion failed to provide any cogent and substantial reason that would justify the reconsideration, much less, the reversal of this Court’s assailed decision,” the court added.