SC junks plunder raps against ex-financial executive, 6 others

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THE Supreme Court upheld the Sandiganbayan ruling that dropped looting charges against a former Finance Department (DoF) official and six others.

In a 10-page decision, the 1st Division of the Higher Court rejected the government’s petition against the March 9, 2011 resolution of the Anti-Corruption Court in the case against ex-finance secretary Antonio Belicena, Faustino and Gloria Chingkoe, Uldarico Andutan Jr., Rowena Malonzo, Grace Chingkoe and Catalina Aranas Bautista.

The case files show that Belicena was the former executive administrator of the Single Center for Tax Credit and Duty Drawback.

The center issued tax credit certificates (TCC) worth 73.76 million pesos to Filstar Textile Industrial Corp. owned by Chingkoe from 1995 to 1997, which were used as direct payment for taxes and duties or otherwise transferred to Petron Corp. oil companies. and Pilipinas Shell as payment for fuel consumed.

However, the Ombudsman’s office discovered that the TCCs were backed by fake shipping documents, supply contracts, processing records and false delivery receipts, claiming there was collusion between Belicena and individuals. accused of amassing wealth.

In the ruling, the anti-corruption court ruled that the complaint affidavit of Felix Chingkoe, Faustino’s brother, and the Ombudsman’s investigation report indicated that there was no finding that any of the indicted public officials had acquired ill-gotten wealth amounting to at least 50 million pesos.

He also rejected the prosecutor’s claim that the accused colluded to amass wealth.

In affirming Sandiganbayan’s decision, the High Court held that the “applicant had not sufficiently alleged the existence of a conspiracy among the respondents”.

“Contrary to the petitioner’s claim, the certifications and signatures of the public respondents on CBTs were insufficient basis to conclude that they were in a conspiracy to commit looting or any other crime. It is also insufficient to simply allege that a series of acts had been committed on several occasions and that these acts resulted in the accumulation or acquisition of ill-gotten wealth amounting to at least 73 million pesos, as in this case ”, the court said.

“In these circumstances, the finding of the existence of a plot to commit looting was untenable. It should be remembered that looting is a crime that only a public official can commit, the main looter cannot be an individual.

“It is therefore evident that the Sandiganbayan correctly quashed the arrest warrant and ruled that there was no probable cause to hold the respondents responsible for looting,” he said.


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