The Sandiganbayan 5th Division has cleared former Presidential Commission on Good Government chairperson Camilo Sabio of three malversation cases.
The malversation cases involved alleged unliquidated P1.1 million cash advances made under Sabio’s name.
In its ruling promulgated last July 8, the court said that aside from failing to provide original copies of their exhibits, the “fatal blow” to the prosecution came from one of its witnesses, Lourdes Navarro, ABS-CBN News report,
According to the court, the details of the disbursement vouchers identified by Navarro were “disconcertingly different” from the accusatory portion of the information filed before the court.
“The court cannot turn a blind eye to the said inconsistencies as these relate to the main allegations against the accused,” the court said in the decision penned by Associate Justice Maria Theresa Mendoza-Arcega, with the concurrence of Division Chairperson Rafael Lagos and Associate Justice Maryann Corpus-Manalac.
According to the information filed by the Office of the Ombudsman in 2017, Sabio, as chairperson of the PCGG, allegedly made cash advances from 2008 to 2009 for litigation and other purposes for his personal benefit and to the damage and prejudice of the government.
Sabio cited his acquittal in a similar case decided by the Sandiganbayan Special 4th Division in 2016 wherein the prosecution failed to prove his alleged receipt of demand letters from the Commission on Audit, ABS-CBN News further reported.
He also stressed that whenever there were cash advances in the PCGG, those were used for the agency’s operations including litigation expenses and as such, he never used the money for personal expenses.
“The criminal liability of Sabio has no leg to stand on considering that Navarro’s testimony bears no provative weight as well as the documentary evidence that are supposed to prove the unliquidated cash advances. After all, mere absence of funds is not sufficient proof of conersion,” the court said.
Earlier, the Supreme Court allowed the release of Sabio, who is in his 80s, for humanitarian reasons.