Sandiganbayan: Old age not an excuse to cut prison term
The Sandiganbayan has denied the plea of a 71-year-old retired police official to reduce his prison sentence of 6 to 10 years over a P10 million graft case and let him be confined in his house or a hospital.
In a 13-page resolution dated Nov. 19, the court’s Fifth Division—which on Nov. 9 convicted former First Lady Imelda Marcos of seven counts of graft—said that “there is no law or rule that authorizes” the reduction of ex-Chief Insp. Salvador Duran Sr.’s final and executory sentence on the grounds of old age.
Duran tried to invoke the “mitigating circumstance” of being over 70 years old in seeking the reduction of his sentence. However, the court pointed out that he was only 45 years old when he committed the crime in August 1992.
His voluntary surrender last Oct. 15 also could not be counted as a mitigating circumstance because the trial was long over.
Since Duran’s conviction was handed down in January 2009 and upheld by the Supreme Court in February 2011, the Sandiganbayan said he should now serve his sentence in a regular prison.
Similarly, the court cited the absence of a law allowing Duran to serve his sentence in a hospital or his house due to his supposedly poor health.
It pointed out that Article 88 of the Revised Penal Code only allows house confinement for crimes punishable by arresto menor, or imprisonment of one to 30 days.
The court said the cases of former Presidents Joseph Estrada and Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo, who were respectively placed under house and hospital arrest, were not comparable to Duran’s.
Unlike the policeman, Estrada and Arroyo were not yet convicts because their plunder cases were still pending trial at that time. (Estrada was convicted in September 2007, but pardoned by Arroyo six weeks later. Arroyo was acquitted by the Supreme Court in July 2016.)
The graft court also cited inconsistencies that weakened Duran’s claim of poor health. Although he said in his petition that he was too weak to move, he also said he was the one accompanying his grandchildren to school.
His regular visits to Veterans Memorial Medical Center also “belied” his claim of forgetfulness and extreme illness, the court noted.
The resolution was penned by Associate Justice Rafael R. Lagos and concurred in by Associate Justices Maria Theresa V. Mendoza-Arcega and Maryann E. Corpus-Mañalac.
Duran and two other police officials, retired Superintendents Van Luspo and Arturo Montano, were found guilty of graft over alleged ghost purchases of “combat, clothing and individual equipment.”
Duran, then chief of the regional finance service unit of the Philippine National Police’s North Capital Command, prepared 100 checks of P100,000 each in favor of four suppliers that were all operated by coaccused Margarita Tugaoen.
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