Ex-PCGG chief Sabio found guilty of grave misconduct

- Rainier Allan Ronda () - February 15, 2012 - 12:00am

MANILA, Philippines - The Office of the Ombudsman has found controversial former Presidential Commission on Good Government (PCGG) chairman Camilo Sabio guilty of grave misconduct for his attempt to influence his younger brother, Court of Appeals (CA) Associate Justice Jose Sabio Jr., in the Manila Electric Co. (Meralco)-Government Service Insurance System (GSIS) case in 2008.

In a decision issued by the Ombudsman’s graft investigation and prosecution officer Darius Sagadal, Sabio was meted the penalty of cancellation of his civil service eligibility, the forfeiture of his retirement benefits, and his perpetual disqualification from holding public office.

“In the present case, we find that Chairman Sabio’s attempt to influence his brother (a CA justice) under the guise of impressing upon him ‘the character and essence of the controversy’ which was pending before his division, amounted to a flagrant disregard of well-known legal and, more importantly, ethical rules,” Sagadal said in his 12-page decision approved by Ombudsman Conchita Carpio-Morales.

“Such actuations unduly prejudiced and compromised the image and independence of the judiciary, and government service in general, thus making it appear that Chairman Sabio could sway, manipulate or control members of the appellate court in the resolution of cases pending before them,” the Ombudsman prosecutor added.

Sagadal noted that the former PCGG chief himself admitted before a panel of investigators formed by the Supreme Court (SC) that he had called his younger brother and talked to him about the case which, he informed the latter, has been raffled to a CA division that he was a member of.

The SC panel was created to investigate the controversy brought out by the public revelation of the younger Sabio of a bribery attempt on him to rule in favor of a party in the Meralco-GSIS case in 2008.

Sabio told the Panel of Investigators that he made the call to his younger brother after he was asked by then GSIS board member Jesus Santos to help the GSIS.

The SC had recommended the filing of a disbarment case against Sabio upon discovery of his role in the Merlaco-GSIS controversy.

Subsequently, Sabio went on leave from the PCGG for a period of several months in 2008 to prepare his defense, but he did not resign from the position despite widespread calls for him to do so.

The CA bribery scandal erupted when the younger Sabio came out publicly to accuse his fellow CA justices, particularly Associate Justice Vicente Roxas, of trying to grab the resolution of the Meralco-GSIS case from him.

Sabio had also claimed that a businessman had tried to bribe him with P10 million to rule in favor of Meralco.

The squabble between Meralco and GSIS broke out when former GSIS president and general manager Winston Garcia tried to unseat the Lopez family from control of the Meralco board, accusing them of “mischievous management” in favor of the GSIS in alliance with the Social Security System (SSS). GSIS and SSS had considerable stakes in Meralco at the time.

GSIS and SSS have since sold their stakes in Meralco to San Miguel Corp. (SMC) and its private partners.

In the inquiry conducted by the SC on the bribery case, Sabio had admitted that his older brother called him and attempted to convince him to decide in favor of the government or the GSIS in the case.

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