Ex-PCGG chief Sabio gets 12 to 20 years for graft

Lian Buan
Ex-PCGG chief Sabio gets 12 to 20 years for graft
Camilo Sabio, who turns 82 next month, will appeal the decision of the Sandiganbayan 1st Division

MANILA, Philippines – The anti-graft court Sandiganbayan sentenced former Presidential Commission on Good Government (PCGG) chairman Camilo Sabio to 12 to 20 years in prison for graft.

In a decision promulgated on Thursday, June 22, the Sandiganbayan’s 1st Division convicted Sabio, who turns 82 in July, of two counts of graft stemming from anomalous vehicle leases in 2007 and 2009 when was PCGG chair.

Each count of graft carried a sentence of 6 to 12 years.

Sabio entered into a lease deal with UCPB Leasing and Finance Corporation without public bidding – first in 2007 for 5 service vehicles for P5.3 million, and the second in 2009 for 6 service vehicles for P6.7 million.

The court found that these were not within budget, and that the PCGG already had available vehicles.

“We are left with the incontrovertible conclusion that Sabio was motivated by a dishonest purpose or some moral obliquity and conscious doing of a wrong when he subjected the PCGG, and the government, to an expense which was essentially unnecessary,” the decision said.

It added: “The fact is that not even one document exists in the instant case to show the subject lease agreements are within the legal exceptions. These point to the fact that there is bad faith on the part of Sabio in authorizing these contracts as well as entering into these transactions.”

Sabio appeared in court on Thursday with wife Marlene who had to assist him when walking. Sabio appeared unresponsive to reporters’ questions though his wife said it was only because he was gathering his thoughts.

Speaking for her husband, Mrs Sabio said they will appeal the decision.

She added: “Public service has always been the life of my husband. So whatever comes with that public service, he welcomes it.”

CONVICTED AT 81. Ex-PCGG chairman Camilo Sabio limps in court and has to be assisted by wife Marlene. Photo by Lian Buan/Rappler

Slew of charges

Sabio had been charged several times before the Sandiganbayan, including a graft case for allegedly attempting to influence his brother, Court of Appeals (CA) Justice Jose Sabio, in an ownership dispute between the Government Service Insurance System (GSIS) and the Manila Electric Company (Meralco).

In 2016, the Sandiganbayan acquitted him of graft and malversation involving P12 million in alleged kickbacks from the ill-gotten wealth of the Marcos family.

The kickbacks supposedly came from remittances from sequestered Marcos-time firms that he allegedly converted for personal use, but the Sandiganbayan’s 4th Division ruled “insufficiency of evidence engendering reasonable doubt.”

In April this year, Sabio faced fresh charges, this time for malversation for allegedly embezzling P632,000 worth of cash advances when he was PCGG chief. The funds were supposed to be for litigation, but he allegedly used it for his own.

Sabio has been out of government since 2010. He tried to run for president in 2016, but his candidacy was blocked because the Ombudsman had already barred him from ever holding public office. The CA upheld this decision. Rappler.com 

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Lian Buan

Lian Buan covers justice and corruption for Rappler. She is interested in decisions, pleadings, audits, contracts, and other documents that establish a trail. If you have leads, email lian.buan@rappler.com or tweet @lianbuan.