Ronnie Ricketts guilty of graft for releasing seized DVDs
MANILA, Philippines – The anti-graft court Sandiganbayan on Friday, March 15, convicted former Optical Media Board (OMB) chairman Ronnie Ricketts of graft, and sentenced him to 6-8 years in prison.
Because graft is a bailable offense, Ricketts can appeal his conviction and will not be jailed until the decision is final and executory.
Also found guilty of graft is OMB computer operator Glenn Perez.
The court ordered Ricketts and Perez to post additional bail bonds of P30,000 each for their provisional liberty while they appeal their conviction.
Ricketts and Perez were charged of graft for allowing the Sky High Marketing Corporation to recover seized DVDs only hours after the OMB raid.
Ricketts was also perpetually disqualified from holding public office.
“The only conclusion that can be drawn from this is that the accused committed acts with the clear intent to favor Sky High Marketing, since the seized DVDs were returned together with the seized truck and prevent the government from properly initiating an investigation against the said entity,” said the decision of the Sandiganbayan Special 4th Division penned by Associate Justice Bayani Jacinto with concurrences from Associate Justices Alex Quiroz, Reynaldo Cruz, Karl Miranda and Ronald Moreno.
OMB Inspection Division (EID) head Manuel Mangubat and investigation agent Joseph Arnaldo were acquitted.
“The Hold Departure Order against (Mangubat and Arnaldo) are hereby lifted and set aside and their respective cash bonds released subject to the usual accounting and auditing procedures,” said the court.
Ricketts and Perez
Mangubat and Arnaldo denied involvement in the release of the confiscated DVDs.
“Ricketts and Perez chose not to testify or even adopt the testimonies of accused Mangubat and Arnaldo despite the Court’s observation in its October 12 resolution denying their motion for leave to file demurrer to evidence that the prosecution’s evidence is prima facie sufficient to sustain a conviction,” said the court.
According to the prosecution, it was Perez who ordered that the DVDs be reloaded into a truck to transport out of the OMB compound. When confronted by guards, Perez said it was upon Ricketts’ instructions.
The court said the release of the confiscated items violated the OMB law itself that prohibits the disposal of confiscated items which may be used as evidence.
Consequently, the court said Ricketts and Perez violated the graft law for “causing undue injury to the government by giving any private party any unwarranted benefit, advantage or preference.”
“A ruling that would allow accused to remain faultless when they clearly extended unwarranted benefit or advantage to the owner of the seized DVDs, compromised evidence, and intentionally refrained from performing their duties as government officers so that the violators cannot be definitively named or sufficiently identified by the OMB, could only lead to the injustice,” the court said. – Rappler.com