SC greenlights prosecution of construction firm chief over Makati parking building

Rappler.com
SC greenlights prosecution of construction firm chief over Makati parking building
The Supreme Court's Second Division does not give weight to the argument of Hilmarc's Construction chief Efren Canlas that he, as a private individual, cannot be charged for violation of Section 3 (e) of the Anti-Graft and Corrupt Practices Act

MANILA, Philippines – The Supreme Court (SC) has greenlighted the prosecution of Hilmarc’s Construction Corporation chief Efren Canlas for his supposed involvement in the alleged overpriced  Makati City parking building.

The SC’s Second Division junked the petition of Canlas to reverse two Sandiganyan resolutions issued in 2017 that denied his motions to quash the two graft cases filed against him in connection with the alleged anomalous construction of Phase 4 and 5 of the parking building.

In issuing the decision, the Court did not give weight to Canlas’ arguments that he, as a private individual, cannot be charged for violation of Section 3 (e) Republic Act No 3019 or the Anti-Graft and Corrupt Practices Act which declares that it is unlawful for a public officer to give any “unwarranted benefits, advantage or preference” to a private party.

In his petition, Canlas had argued that he, as a private individual, can only be held liable under Section 4 (b) of RA 3019, which declares it unlawful for any person to induce or cause any public official to commit the offenses under Section 3. 

In its 9-page resolution, the SC said the Sandiganbayan did not commit grave abuse of discretion when it denied Canlas’ bid to dismiss the cases against him. 

“The well-settled rule is that ‘private persons, when acting in conspiracy with public officers, may be indicted and, if found guilty held liable for the pertinent offenses under Section 3, of RA 3019, in consonance with the avowed policy of the anti-graft law to repress certain acts of  public officers and private persons alike constituting graft or corrupt practice act or which may lead thereto,” said the SC resolution penned by Associate Justice Henri Jean Paul Inting.

It also said that the SC had previously affirmed the conviction of a private individual, acting in conspiracy with public officers, for violation of Section 3 (e) of RA 3019.

The case stemmed from the two information filed against Canlas along with other incumbent and former Makati City officials for violation of Section 3 (e) of RA 3019, in relation to the construction of the Makati City Hall Parking Building. 

In 2014, the Senate began its probe into alleged anomalies surrounding the construction of the Makati City Hall parking building. Former vice president Jejomar Binay was Makati mayor during the first 3 phases of the building construction while his son, Junjun, was Makati mayor for the last two phases of construction.

The Senate blue ribbon subcommittee report released in June 2015 said that the then-Vice President should be charged with plunder for an “alarming pattern of overpricing.” The exposé hurt the presidential bid of the older Binay, who was the early front runner in the 2016 presidential race, based on surveys.

The Office of the Ombudsman filed criminal charges before the Sandiganbayan against Junjun and several other city executives in February 2016, and against the former vice president in July 2016.

The Commission on Audit ordered the Binays to refund  the P2.292 billion used for the controversial building, which they had appealed.

In 2014, the complainants in the graft case against the Binays had pushed for the filing of graft cases against past and present Hilmarc’s Construction, including Canlas, over the  building project. – Rappler.com