Prosecution appeals dismissal of graft raps vs ex-AFP chief Villanueva

Adrian Ayalin, ABS-CBN News

Posted at Sep 08 2017 05:58 PM

MANILA - State prosecutors on Friday told the Sandiganbayan it had erred in dismissing graft charges against former Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) Chief of Staff Gen. Diomedio Villanueva, who was accused of favoring a private company during his service as postmaster general of the Philippine Postal Corporation.

The court dismissed the graft case after siding with Villanueva, who cited the Supreme Court decision on Dela Chica v. Sandiganbayan, where a case was dismissed because essential elements of graft were not present. 

The Sandiganbayan found the case against the former military chief "fatally defective."

“This sort of jurisprudence cut short the proceedings erroneously and precipitously to the point of ripping off the State of justice and fairness,” the prosecution said in its motion for reconsideration.

Villanueva, along with former assistant postmaster general Antonio Siapno and former acting director Leonido Basilio, were charged by the Office of the Ombudsman for violating the anti-graft law for allegedly giving unwarranted benefit to Philpost USA, a private corporation based in New York, in 2003.

The Ombudsman accused Villanueva, Siapno and Basilio of conspiring to refund Philpost USA $1,031,936.04 or P53,043,834.52 representing alleged "Terminal Dues paid for mail matters sent to Royal Mail (UK post office)."

The Sandiganbayan, however, dismissed the case as the prosecution supposedly failed to specifically allege that the accused acted with manifest partiality, evident bad faith, and/or gross inexcusable negligence, which are essential elements in a graft case.

But the prosecution stressed in their appeal that they should be given the chance to amend the case against Villanueva.

“The alleged defect in the information is more apparent than real and, assuming arguendo that there was a defect, the same is curable and could be remedied in the ordinary course of law other than dismissing the case with such immediacy and precipitousness,” it said.