Tuesday, December 8, 2015

A prosecution for violation of Sec. 3(e) of RA 3019 (Anti-Graft Law) will lie regardless of whether or not the accused public officer is "charged with the grant of licenses or permits or other concessions."


“x x x.

As regards the two other elements, the Court explained in Cabrera v. Sandiganbayan33that there are two (2) ways by which a public official violates Sec. 3(e) of R.A. No. 3019 in the performance of his functions, namely: (a) by causing undue injury to any party, including the Government; or (b) by giving any private party any unwarranted benefits, advantage or preference. The accused may be charged under either mode or under both.34 This was reiterated in Quibal v. Sandiganbayan,35 where the Court held that the use of the disjunctive term "or" connotes that either act qualifies as a violation of Sec. 3(e) of R.A. No. 3019.

In this case, petitioner was charged of violating Sec. 3(e) of R.A. No. 3019 under the alternative mode of "causing undue injury" to Moleta committed with evident bad faith, for which she was correctly found guilty. "Evident bad faith" connotes not only bad judgment but also palpably and patently fraudulent and dishonest purpose to do moral obliquity or conscious wrongdoing for some perverse motive or ill will. "Evident bad faith" contemplates a state of mind affirmatively operating with furtive design or with some motive of self-interest or ill will or for ulterior purposes,36 which manifested in petitioner’s actuations and representation.

The inevitable conclusion is that petitioner capitalized on her official function to commit the crimes charged. Without her position, petitioner would not have induced Moleta to part with her money. In the same vein, petitioner could not have orchestrated a scheme of issuing postdated checks meddling with the municipality’s coffers and defiling the mayor’s signature. As correctly found by the court a quo:

x x x Likewise worthy of stress is [petitioner’s] failure to establish that the amount she disbursed to Rusillon came from the money she loaned from Moleta. If indeed theP268,800.00 advanced to Rusillon was charged against the loan, then, this should have been reflected in the municipality’s books of accounts. The same is true with theP320,000.00 and the P32,000.00 given to Moleta if the proceeds of the loan really went to the municipality’s treasury. It is a standard accounting procedure that every transaction must be properly entered in the books of accounts of the municipality. A cash that comes in is a debit to the asset account and every loan incurred is a credit to the liability account.37

Given the above disquisition, it becomes superfluous to dwell further on the issue raised by petitioner that Sec. 3(e) applies only to officers and employees of offices or government corporations charged with the grant of licenses or other concessions. Nonetheless, to finally settle the issue, the last sentence of the said provision is not a restrictive requirement which limits the application or extent of its coverage. This has long been settled in our ruling in Mejorada v. Sandiganbayan,38 where we categorically declared that a prosecution for violation of Sec. 3(e) of the Anti-Graft Law will lie regardless of whether or not the accused public officer is "charged with the grant of licenses or permits or other concessions." Quoted hereunder is an excerpt from Mejorada:39

Section 3 cited above enumerates in eleven subsections the corrupt practices of any public officers (sic) declared unlawful. Its reference to "any public officer" is without distinction or qualification and it specifies the acts declared unlawful. We agree with the view adopted by the Solicitor General that the last sentence of paragraph [Section 3] (e) is intended to make clear the inclusion of officers and employees of officers (sic) or government corporations which, under the ordinary concept of "public officers" may not come within the term. It is a strained construction of the provision to read it as applying exclusively to public officers charged with the duty of granting licenses or permits or other concessions. (Emphasis and underscoring supplied)

The above pronouncement was reiterated in Cruz v. Sandiganbayan,40 where the Court affirmed the Mejorada ruling that finally puts to rest any erroneous interpretation of the last sentence of Sec. 3(e) of the Anti-Graft Law.

All the elements of the crimes as charged are present in the case at bar. All told, this Court finds no justification to depart from the findings of the lower court. Petitioner failed to present any cogent reason that would warrant a reversal of the Decision assailed in this petition.

X x x.”