SC upholds ex-PCGG chair Sabio’s conviction for graft
The Supreme Court denied the petition for review filed by former Presidential Commission on Good Governance chairman Camilo L. Sabio questioning his conviction for graft by the Sandiganbayan in connection with the lease of 11 motor vehicles entered into with the United Coconut Planters Bank Leasing and Finance Corporation without public bidding in 2007-2009.
In a 10-page decision, the SC held: “Sabio cannot claim immunity from suit for being an alter ego of the President. It was the PCGG, through Sabio and his commissioners, not the President, who entered into the subject lease agreements without the requisite public bidding. It will be ridiculous to hold that alter egos of the President are, likewise, immune from suit simply because their acts are considered acts of the President if not repudiated.”
“In fact, the 1987 Constitution is replete with provisions on the constitutional principles of accountability and good governance that should guide a public servant. The rule is that unlawful acts of public officials are not acts of the State and the officer who acts illegally is not acting as such but stands in the same footing as any other trespasser.”
With this, the SC affirmed the conviction of Sabio in the decision and resolution of the Sandiganbayan, dated June 22, 2017 and August 25, 2017, respectively.
Moroever, the SC cited Republic Act 9184 or the Government Procurement Reform Act, which explicitly provided that all government procurement shall be done through competitive bidding, except as provided for in Article XVI the same law.
“The PCGG, being a government office or agency, is covered by R.A. No. 9184. This means that before entering the lease of the 11 vehicles, the PCGG should have conducted a competitive bidding first,” the high court said.
The SC also held that there was bad faith on Sabio’s part in entering into the said lease agreements without “undertaking the required procurement process; and subjecting government funds to unnecessary expenditure without pre-allocation and the necessity for the same.”
The SC likewise took note of the fact that Sabio was also a member of the board of United Coconut Planters Bank, the parent company of UCPB Leasing, when the lease agreements were entered into; thus giving unwarranted benefit and advantage in favor of UCPB Leasing.