Sandigan junks ‘defective’ $1-M graft case vs ex-PHLPost chief
The Sandiganbayan has tossed out the US$1-million graft case against former Postmaster-General Diomedio Villanueva of the Philippine Postal Corp. on the grounds that the Ombudsman filed a “defective” charge sheet.
In a 13-page resolution dated Aug. 24, the court’s Seventh Division dismissed the case in connection with an anomalous refund to Philpost USA, a New York-based private corporation, in 2003.
Prosecutors failed to specifically allege that Villanueva acted with “manifest partiality,” “evident bad faith,” or “gross inexcusable negligence,” which are essential elements for a case of violation of Section 3(e) of the Anti-Graft and Corrupt Practices Act.
“Basic is the rule that every element constituting the offense must be alleged in the information. An Information is fatally defective when an essential element of the crime has not been sufficiently alleged,” read the resolution.
The ruling was penned by Associate Justice Zaldy V. Trespeses and concurred in by Associate Justices Ma. Theresa Dolores C. Gomez-Estoesta.
Besides Villanueva, then-assistant postmaster-general Antonio Siapno and then-acting director Leonido Basilio were also cleared of charges of causing undue injury to the government and giving unwarranted benefits to a private party.
The case arose from the Nov. 19, 2003 refund of $1,031,936.04 (equivalent to P53,043,834.52) to Philpost USA for terminal dues paid for mail matters sent to the United Kingdom’s Royal Mail. Prosecutors claimed Philpost USA was not entitled to the refund.
The information only stated the offense was committed “in the performance of their official duties as such and committing the crime in relation to their office and taking advantage thereof, conspiring and confederating with one another, did then and there, willfully, unlawfully and feloniously, give unwarranted benefit to Philpost USA.”
Prior to his stint as postmaster-general, Villanueva served as the Armed Forces of the Philippines chief-of-staff from 2001 to 2002 under President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo.
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