THE Court of Appeals has upheld the decision of the Office of the Ombudsman finding former Presidential Commission on Good Government Chairman Camilo Sabio guilty of dishonesty, grave misconduct and conduct prejudicial to the best interest of the service.
The appellate court’s 10th Division denied Sabio’s petition for review seeking the reversal of the Ombudsman’s decision issued on July 28, 2011.
“We emphasize that despite the exalted position that respondent Sabio had occupied in the executive arm of the government, he is not immune from administrative suit. As chairman of the PCGG, he had no blanket authority to do as he pleased with the money and property of the government,” the appellate court said.
‘‘As holder of a public office he must observe honesty, candor and faithful compliance with the law. Nothing less is expected. Instead of demonstrating a conduct that is beyond reproach, respondent Sabio abused his power and position to the detriment of the government and the public as a whole.”
In its resolution on July 28, 2011, the Ombudsman found Sabio administratively liable for failure to pay excess telephone charges amounting to P25,594 for the period 2006 to 2008.
He also failed to remit the cash advances and partial remittances from sequestered corporations such as Independent Realty Corp. and the Mid-Pasig Land Development Corp. from the proceeds of the sale of A. Soriano Corp. shares amounting to P10.3 million.
Likewise, he also failed to liquidate P1,555,862 out of his total cash advances totaling P10,213,336 for the period 2005 to 2008.
Since the penalty of dismissal from the service could no longer be imposed against Sabio because he was no longer PCGG chairman when the Office of the Ombudsman issued its ruling, the agency imposed the accessory penalty of forfeiture of all his retirement benefits and privileges “with prejudice to reemployment” in any branch or instrumentality of the government.
In ruling against Sabio, the appellate court said the findings of the Ombudsman were sufficiently supported by substantial evidence.
The court held that Sabio failed to dispute that he incurred cellular phone charges in excess of the amount allowed by his own office, which was P10,000.
The court also said Sabio was unable to turn over and remit to the Bureau of Treasury the amounts he received from MPLDC from the proceeds of the sale of the Anscor shares, which were covered by vouchers and checks.
Sabio also failed to present evidence to rebut the accusation that he failed to liquidate P1.5 million spent on consisting on travel, hotel accommodation, litigation and miscellaneous expenses.