Former AFP Comptroller Carlos Garcia inside Sandiganbayan offices
MANILA - For 1991 and 2005, the Office of the Ombudsman has so far scored a dismal conviction rate of only 0.75 percent in cases filed against military officials.
The figure for the 14-year period surfaced after Lt. Gen. Rodrigo Maclang, chief of the Armed Forces of the Philippines-Office of Ethical Standards and Public Accountability (OESPA) requested the Sandiganbayan Records Division for an update on the status of the cases field against 15 retired and active officers.
Maclang’s letter, dated June 26, 2009, did not mention the purpose for the record update. It simply said that the OESPA is “mandated to conduct the record verification and monitoring check of the pending cases filed in court against its retired and active personnel.”
Between 1991 and 2005, the Ombudsman filed 633 criminal cases against 12 high-ranking military officers including a former Chief of Staff, a commandant of the Philippine Marines, a Navy flag officer in command and a comptroller of the Armed Forces of the Philippines.
Of the said number, 369 cases remain pending in court today.
The Ombudsman has so far scored only two convictions against 264 cases that were dismissed, withdrawn or the defendant dropped from the case for lack of evidence for a dismal conviction rate of only 0.75 percent.
Among those named in the OESPA letter of inquiry were former AFP chief-of-staff Lisandro Abadia, Lt. Gen. (ret.) Edgardo V. Espinosa, Navy commandant (ret.) Mariano J. Dumancas, Maj. Gen. (ret.) Carlos F. Garcia, Maj. Gen. (ret.) Ralph Flores, Brig. Gen. Vladimir B. delos Trino, Brig. Gen. (ret.) Domingo T. Rio, Brig. Gen. (ret.) Jose S. Ramiscal Jr., Navy Capt. Walter E. Briones Jr., naval procurement officer Gilmer Batestil, Marine Capt. Bienvenido C. Sapigao and Navy technical inspection committee member Sebastian C. Siga-an.
Abadia still has two perjury cases pending before the First and Second Divisions of the graft court over alleged undeclared assets.
Briones topped the tally with 184 counts of graft (20 dismissed, 152 pending, 12 archived) and 33 malversation cases (19 pending, 11 archived, 3 dismissed).
The two convictions were against Dumancas who was found guilty in May 2007 of failure to render an account over P67.64 million worth of AFP funds; and Garcia who was convicted of perjury only last February by the Fourth Division.
Dumancas was sentenced to four months and twenty days jail term while Garcia was meted 20 to 28 months imprisonment.
Both have appealed the ruling of the Sandiganbayan.
Dumancas is still facing 109 counts of graft after 27 similar cases were dismissed along with 53 counts of malversation of public funds.
Garcia remains in detention due to a non-bailable offense of plunder although three of the perjury cases filed against him by Ombudsman prosecutors were junked by the graft court.