The Supreme Court (SC) has allowed the provisional release of former Presidential Commission on Good Government chairman Camilo Sabio from detention for humanitarian reasons.
In a nine-page notice of the resolution, the SC’s First Division said Sabio’s provisional release would take effect upon posting a cash bond of P200,000, unless he is being detained for other lawful cause.
The SC granted the plea for provisional release after finding that Sabio, who is 85 years old, can no longer be considered a flight risk due to his serious medical condition.
“Here, petitioner, all eighty-five (85) years of age is in his twilight and illness-laden years. The People itself has not refuted his serious medical condition. There is no indication that he is a flight risk for he is no longer even ambulatory. Nor does he pose a danger of being a repeat offender since he had long ceased to be in government service. His continuous incarceration will not do any good to his already failing health, let alone, to society in general,” the SC ruled.
Court records showed that Sabio was ordered arrested by the Sandiganbayan after finding him guilty of violation of Section 3(a) of Republic Act No. 3019 or the Anti-Graft and Corrupt Practices Act and sentenced him to imprisonment of between six to 10 years with perpetual disqualification from holding public office.
The case stemmed from his attempt to influence his younger brother, Court of Appeals (CA) Justice Jose Sabio, to rule in favor of the Government Service Insurance System (GSIS) in a case against Meralco in 2008, as a favor for a friend.
Sabio moved for reconsideration of the decision on grounds of double jeopardy.
However, in a resolution issued on January 27, 2020, the Sandiganbayan denied the motion for reconsideration (MR) for lack of merit.
The anti-graft court also stressed that the motion for reconsideration was belatedly filed on December 23, 2019, which was beyond the 15-day required period within which to file an MR.
Sabio also filed a second motion for reconsideration of the resolution dated January 27, 2020 reiterating that the rule of double jeopardy applies in his case.
He argued that his acquittal in Criminal Case No. SB-16-CRM-1235 bars his conviction in Criminal Case No. SB-16-CRM-1234 which involved a similar offense.
This was also denied by the Sandiganyaban in a resolution issued on June 25, 2020on the ground that it was a prohibited pleading.
However, in a resolution issued on September 14, 2020, the Sandiganbayan granted Sabio’s request for hospital confinement until he is medically cleared to serve his sentence.
Aside from allowing the petitioner’s provisional release, the Court also granted Sabio’s petition to nullify the resolution issued by the anti-graft court denying his motion for reconsideration for having been filed out of time
The Court held that the Sandiganbayan committed grave abuse of discretion as it should have reckoned the 15-day period, not from the promulgation of judgment on November 29, 2019, but from the petitioner’s receipt of the decision on December 19, 2019.
“To be sure, when petitioner filed his motion for reconsideration on December 23, 2019, it was well within the reglementary period of fifteen (15) days. Consequently, there is a need to reinstate
petitioner’s motion for reconsideration and remand it to the Sandiganbayan for resolution.,” the Court pointed out.