MANILA - The Supreme Court (SC) has affirmed the Sandiganbayan in junking the plea of alleged Marcos crony Herminio Disini for the quashal or outright junking of two criminal cases against him.
In an advisory by its Public Information Office (PIO), the high court said that its First Division voted unanimously at 5-0 to affirm the anti-graft court and junked Disini's petition, pointing out that contrary to Disini's claims, the Sandiganbayan has jurisdiction over the offenses alleged against him, and, the offenses have not yet prescribed.
The cases against Disini were initially filed by the Presidential Commission on Good Government (PCGG), as an offshoot of sequestration efforts to recover ill-gotten wealth allegedly amassed during the term of former Pres. Ferdinand Marcos.
The first case against Disini, filed on June 30, 2004, accused him of Corruption of Public Officials penalized under the Revised Penal Code for "offering his shares in Vulcan Industrial and Mining Corp. (2.5 B shares of stock having a book value of P100 each) and the Energy Corp. (4 B shares at P100 each) to Marcos through the Engineering and Construction Company of Asia, owned and controlled by Marcos, to allow Disini to seek and obtain for Burns and Roe and Westinghouse Electrical Corp.
(Westinghouse) the contracts to do the engineering and architectural design and to construct the Philippine Nuclear Power Plant Project at Morong, Bataan which contracts were eventually awarded to Burns and Roe and Westinghouse."
The second case accused Disini of "using his personal connection to Marcos... to request and receive from Burns and Roe the amount of One Million US Dollars, both entities having transactions and applications with the government of the Philippines, which amounts were given to Disini in consideration of his seeking and obtaining the contract for the construction of the Philippine Nuclear Power Plant, which contract, through the intervention of Marcos, Disini was able to obtain for Burns and Roe and Westinghouse."
Disini filed his motion to quash on Aug. 2, 2004, pointing out that the alleged criminal offenses had already prescribed; the prosecution opposed.
The Sandiganbayan denied his motion, and subsequent motion for reconsideration.
"This Court (SC), is not persuaded to hold that the prescriptive period began to run from 1974, the time when the contracts for the PNPP project were awarded to Burns and Roe and Westinghouse," the Supreme Court said in its decision.
The high court stressed that it was impossible for the state to discover "the commission of the crimes charged prior to the EDSA revolution in 1986."
"Consequently, in this case, prescription did not yet set in because only five years elapsed from 1986, the time of the discovery of the offenses charged, up to April 1991, the time of the filing of the criminal complaints in the Office of the Ombudsman," the decision read.