48 tax cases vs Petron execs junked
THE Sandiganbayan has dismissed all charges against former top executives of Petron Corp. involving fraudulent transfer of P700.742 million worth of tax credit certificates to the oil firm.
In two separate resolutions dated March 2, 2017, the Sandiganbayan cleared of any crimimal liability Celso Legarda, former Petron vice president and general manager who had been charged by the Office of the Ombudsman over the issue.
Associate Justice Geraldine Faith Econg penned both rulings. Associate Justices Alex Quiroz and Reynaldo Cruz concurred.
The anti-graft court also cleared of 18 counts of graft former Petron president Monico Jacob, former VP for refinery Apolinario Reyes and former senior marketing executive Rafael Diaz Jr. involving P86.055 million worth of TCCs.
The court also dismissed cases filed against former Petron official, Reynaldo Campos, following his death on Jan. 20, 2013.
However, charges against former Finance Undersecretary Antonio Belicena and former deputy director Uldarico Andutan remain active in court.
In ordering the dismissal, the Sandiganbayan said the cases against accused Petron Corp officials may no longer be tried under the principle of res judicata which bars litigation involving issues that were already resolved with finality and may not be pursued further by the same parties..
Petron lawyers used as defense the Supreme Court pronouncements in the 2010 case of Pacifico Cruz vs. Sandiganbayan involving P131.2 million worth of TCCs that were allegedly issued illegally by the Department of Finance–One-Stop Shop Inter-Agency Tax Credit and Duty Drawback Center (One-Stop Center) transferred to Pilipinas Shell Petroleum Corp represented by former Pilipinas Shell-Treasury and Taxation Department general manager Pacifico Cruz.
In the said ruling, the SC ordered the Sandiganbayan to dismiss the cases against Cruz on the ground that Pilipinas Shell, which he represented, was a “transferee in good faith and for value of the TCCs” and that neither the oil firm nor Cruz was a party to the fraudulent issuance and transfer of the TCCs.
Should the TCCs be questionable, the High Court said the irregularity happened only at the level of the processing by the DOF-One Stop Center wherein Pilipinas Shell had no participation whatsoever.
Since the cases against Pilipinas Shell are similarly situated with the charges against Petron Corp officials, the Sandiganbayan said the SC pronouncements should likewise apply to the latter.
The Court said: “The Court believes that the jurisprudence or case law laid down by the Supreme Court in Cruz applies to these cases.
“Petron, represented by the accused-movants, was found not to be a party to the fraudulent issuance and assignment of the TCCs, and was therefore considered as a transferee in good faith and for value.”