SC junks estafa case vs ex-Ombudsman prosecutor
The Supreme Court has ordered the dismissal of an estafa case filed against a former ranking official of the Office of the Ombudsman.
During Tuesday’s en banc, the high court granted the petition for certiorari filed by former Special Prosecutor Dennis M. Villa-Ignacio, who questioned the regularity of the proceedings that led to the filing of a criminal case against him.
The case stemmed from the complaint by an assistant special prosecutor who contributed P26,000 to a 2004 charity drive for victims of typhoon “Milenyo” through Gawad Kalinga. The complainant accused Villa-Ignacio of utilizing the money for a different purpose, specifically the construction of water pipes in areas damaged by Milenyo.
In granting Villa-Ignacio’s petition, the high court said the Office of the Ombudsman committed grave abuse of discretion for failure to follow their own rules.
Under the Ombudsman rules, the chair and vice chair of the Internal Affairs Board (IAB) shall be automatically disqualified from acting on any proceedings if he belongs to the same component as any of the parties to the case.
The high court also noted that it is highly questionable for the Ombudsman to change its rules in the middle of the proceedings.
“Changing regulations in the middle of the proceedings without reason, violates due process,” the high court said.
“The petition for certiorari filed by petitioner Dennis Villa-Ignacio is granted. The resolution dated 4 February 2010 and joint order dated 4, June 2010 of the Office of the Ombudsman are reversed and set aside. The Information for estafa before the Sandiganblayan is dismissed,” the high court said. RAM/rga
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