Sandiganbayan stands pat on acquittal of PCGG execs

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    THE Sandiganbayan Second Division has junked a motion by a private prosecutor seeking recall of its July 5, 2019 resolution that acquitted Enrique Locsin and Manuel Andal, former executives of government-sequestered firms, on one graft case each.

    Citing the constitutional right of the defendants against double jeopardy, the anti-graft court underscored that the grant of the demurrer to evidence does not admit any reconsideration.

    “The ruling is an adjudication on the merits of the case which is tantamount to an acquittal and may no longer be appealed. Any further prosecution of the accused after an acquittal would, thus, violate the constitutional proscription on double jeopardy,” the court declared.

    Locsin and Andal were nominees of former President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo in the Philippine Communication Satellite Corp. (Philcomsat) and Philippine Overseas Telecommunications Corp. (POTC) and served as corporate officer of the Philcomsat Holdings Corp (PHC) from 2003 to 2005.

    The charges filed in 2011 by the Office of the Ombudsman accused them of paying themselves “exorbitant salaries” of P300,000 per year for each of the sequestered firms over the three-year period in excess of the uniform salaries of P180,000 per year per sequestered corporation set under Memorandum Circular No. 40.

    Graft investigators also said they were also paid P550,000 travel allowances each year even as there were “unexplained reimbursements” in the sum of P15 million charged against the PHC covering representation and transportation expenses, consultancy fees, and various cash advances.

    However, in its assailed ruing, the Sandiganbayan said that evidence adduced by the prosecution “failed to sufficiently establish the essential elements of the crime.”

    It noted that the limit on grant of allowance did not apply to the PHC because it was not a sequestered corporation while the allegation of losses incurred by the sequestered firms lacked evidentiary support.

    “The Court found no undue injury in the concept of actual damages as the factual basis and amount of loss has not been proven with a reasonable degree of certainty nor premised upon a competent proof. After thoughtful consideration of the arguments put forward, …the Court still does not find any cogent reasons to overturn its earlier pronouncement,” the Sandiganbayan said.