THE Sandiganbayan affirmed the conviction of former Philippine Aerospace Development Corporation (PADC) department manager Antonio Suba last July 31 for violation of Article 218 of the Revised Penal Code over his failure to liquidate his cash advances for a foreign trip in 2006.
The anti-graft court’s Sixth Division denied Suba’s motion for reconsideration wherein he claimed that the prosecution failed to discharge its burden of proving his guilt while the Sandiganbayan violated due process of law when it gave no probative value to evidence offered in his defense.
Suba was found guilty for failure to render accounts for P132,978.68 which was part of the cash advance he received for his four-day travel to Beijing, China on October 10 to 14, 2006. He was meted the penalty of imprisonment for six months and one day.
Associate Justice Kevin Narce B. Vivero penned the 20-page resolution with Associate Justices Sarah Jane T. Fernandez and Bayani H. Jacinto concurring.
The court upheld the findings of government auditors that Suba did not submit any proof that he had secured an authority to travel from the head of the PADC and the Secretary of the Department of Transportation and Communications (formerly DOTC now Department of Transportation).
Based on the findings of the Commission on Audit, the accused only accomplished full liquidation of his accountability on September 12, 2014 or almost eight years after the December 23, 2006 deadline.
The Sandiganbayan declared that contrary to the defendant’s contention, actual damage to the government arising from non-liquidation of cash advances is not an essential element of the criminal offense filed against him.
“Instead, the mere failure to timely liquidate the cash advance is the gravamen of the offense. Verily, the law seeks to compel the accountable officer, by penal provision, to promptly render an account of the funds which he has received,” the court pointed out.
It likewise noted that the COA’s issuance of a notice of suspension on June 29, 2007 followed by a notice of disallowance on March 17, 2008 after Suba failed to comply with the demand for him to submit a liquidation reflects his inaction.
“There is no gainsaying that the accused was accorded due process by the COA,” the Sandiganbayan said.
Despite full payment of the unliquidated sum in 2014 the court said the defendant’s action is too late to absolve him of the crime.