SC upholds graft conviction of former PCGG chair Sabio

(Eagle News)–The Supreme Court has upheld the conviction of former Presidential Commission on Good Government Chair Camilo Sabio for graft over the lease agreements entered into by the PCGG with a bank without the required competitive bidding.

The SC’s third division, in denying Sabio’s petition for review that assailed his conviction over the lease of 11 motor vehicles with the United Coconut Planters Bank Leasing and Finance Corporation from 2007 to 2009, noted that Sabio  “cannot claim immunity from suit for being an alter ego of the President,” and that  R.A. No 9184 or the Government Procurement Reform Act explicitly provides that all government procurement shall be done through competitive bidding, except those provided for in Article XVI the same law.

For the first, the division said “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” since  it was the PCGG, through Sabio and his commissioners, who entered into the lease agreements without the requisite public bidding, and not the President, after all.

“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 division said, noting that the rule was 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.”

As for the second, the division noted that the PCGG was a government agency and was therefore covered by R.A. No. 9184.

The division said there was also bad faith on the part of Sabio in entering into the agreements since he was at that time  also a member of the board of United Coconut Planters Bank, the parent company of UCPB Leasing.

“As correctly ruled by the Sandiganbayan, Sabio’s acts unmistakably reflect ‘a dishonest purpose or some moral obliquity and conscious doing of a wrong; a breach of sworn duty through some motive or intent or ill will,” the division said.