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Senators want Sabio sacked from PCGG

By Gil C. Cabacungan Jr.
Philippine Daily Inquirer
First Posted 06:22:00 08/13/2008

Filed Under: Graft & Corruption, Government offices & agencies, Congress, Judiciary (system of justice)

MANILA, Philippines?Senators Tuesday called for the ouster or resignation of Presidential Commission on Good Government (PCGG) Chair Camilo Sabio for purportedly intervening in the case being handled by his brother at the Court of Appeals (CA) while failing to account for the missing $34 million from the Marcos Swiss deposits.

Sen. Francis Escudero said Sabio ?must go not only for intervening but [also] allowing a classic case of money that was stolen not once but twice.?

Sen. Richard Gordon made a similar call, saying Sabio ?should explain where the Marcos money went.? Gordon also noted that the Senate had once ordered Sabio?s detention for refusing to answer questions at a hearing.

On Monday, CA Associate Justice Jose Sabio Jr. said his brother had called him to convince him to side with the Government Service Insurance System (GSIS) in its battle to wrest control of Manila Electric Co. (Meralco).

On the same day, an audit report on the PCGG showed that $34.13 million of the $660 million in Marcos Swiss deposits held in escrow at the Philippine National Bank were not turned over to the Bureau of Treasury in 2007 and could not be located.

But according to the PNB, the P34 million was not missing.

His own backyard

?If [Camilo Sabio] cannot clean up his own backyard, I?m wondering why he would step out of his way to intervene in the case being handled by his brother. Was he acting on his own or was he instructed by someone else?? Sen. Alan Peter Cayetano said.

Cayetano said the PCGG chair?s actions only confirmed the government?s concerted action to ?gang up? on the Lopez family, owners of Meralco and ABS-CBN Broadcasting Corp.

Said Senate Majority Leader Francis Pangilinan: ?The act of the brother of Justice Sabio may be considered a criminal act. It appears to be an attempt to corrupt a public official under the Revised Penal Code. An investigation must be undertaken and the necessary criminal charges filed.?

Senate President Manuel Villar said Sabio?s interference in the CA case was ?unethical? and should be quickly looked into.

Compromised integrity

At the House, Akbayan Rep. Risa Hontiveros demanded Sabio?s immediate resignation for purported violation of the Anti-Graft and Corrupt Practices Act.

?There should be no ifs or buts because he has already compromised the integrity of his office, which was ironically established to correct corruption and institute reforms for good government,? said the party-list lawmaker.

Hontiveros urged Justice Secretary Raul Gonzalez to initiate the filing of charges against Sabio.

She cited the provision in the anti-graft law prohibiting public officials from ?persuading, inducing or influencing another public officer to perform an act constituting a violation of rules and regulations duly promulgated by competent authority.? With a report from Christian V. Esguerra

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