By Czarina Nicole Ong
The Sandiganbayan Seventh Division has affirmed its acquittal of former Postmaster General Diomedio Villanueva, who is also the former Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) chief of staff, of his graft charge involving the anomalous awarding of mail international services back in 2003.
Villanueva and other officers of the Philippine Postal Corporation (PPC) were accused of violating Section 3(e) of Repubic Act 3019, also known as the Anti-Graft and Corrupt Practices Act, for giving unwarranted benefits to Philpost USA, a private corporation established for mailing services of the USA.
Through the PPC license agreement they made on April 23, 2003, they refunded US$1,031,936.04 or its equivalent of P53,043,834.52 to the company as a representation of alleged terminal dues paid for mail matters sent to the UK Post Office. The refund was made even though Philpost USA was not entitled to it.
On August 24, 2017, the court decided to clear him of his graft charge due to insufficiency of the Information. According to the court, the prosecution failed to prove that Villanueva acted with “manifest partiality” or “evident bad faith” in the awarding of the mail services.
In turn, the prosecution filed a motion for reconsideration (MR) hoping to reverse the court’s ruling. But their MR only left the court “perplexed.”
“Prosecution is seeking for the reversal or reconsideration of the resolution dismissing the case. It further avers that the court should have ordered for the amendment of the Information instead of dismissing it outright. On the other hand, it believes and still insists that the Information is valid and does not suffer any infirmity,” the resolution reads.
The court maintained that the prosecution’s belief is “misplaced,” since they haven’t even filed an amended Information to this date. The court added that they have not prevented the prosecution from filing any motion to correct the Information. The least they could have done was to ask for an amendment.
“It should be noted that the court cannot dictate or instruct the prosecution on what to do or what to file because it is the latter who has the discretion and control of how to prosecute a criminal case,” the resolution continued. “To do otherwise would give rise to suspicion of partiality on the part of the court in the middle of the opposing party.”
The court also reprimanded the prosecution for the use of “intemperate, abrasive and unseemly language” in its MR, which was neither warranted nor necessary in making their point.
“A lawyer’s language may be forceful and emphatic, it should always be dignified and respectful, befitting the dignity of the legal profession. The use of intemperate language and unkind ascriptions has no place in the dignity of judicial forum,” the court finalized as it denied the MR for lack of merit.