SC dismisses graft case against Enrile, Danding
MANILA, Philippines - The Supreme Court upheld a ruling by the Office of the Ombudsman which junked a graft case against business tycoon Eduardo 'Danding' Cojuangco and now Senate President Juan Ponce Enrile on July 13, saying the charges against them had prescribed.
The government filed a case against the Enrile and Cojuangco in March 1990 in connection with the behest loans they extended as part of the Board of Directors of the United Coconut Planters Bank (UCPB) to the United Coconut Oil Mills Inc (Unicom) in 1979.
The SC, in a decision penned by Justice Roberto Abad, affirmed a 1999 ruling made by the Office of the Ombudsman, which said that the government only had until February 1990 to file a case against Cojuangco, Enrile and 16 others.
The respondents to the case authorized UCPB and the Administrator of the Coconut Industry Investment Fund (CII Fund) to invest not more than P500 million from the fund in the equity of Unicom for the benefit of the coconut farmers.
Teodoro Regala, Victor Lazatin Eduardo Escueta and Leo Palma incorporated Unicom in 1975 with an authorized capitalization stock of P100 million.
On September 4, 1979, Unicom increased its authorized capital stock to 10 million shares without par value to P495 million. This was approved by the new set of Unicom directors which included Cojuangco and Enrile.
The Office of the Solicitor General filed a case against Enrile, Cojuangco and others at the Presidential Commission on Good Government 10 years after. The PCGG then filed a case against them at the Office of the Ombudsman.
The SC said that while the recovery of the alleged ill-gotten wealth of the late President Ferdinand Marcos and his cronies does not prescribe, the filing of the criminal charges does.
"Notably, Section 11 of RA 3019 now provides that the offenses committed under that law prescribes in 15 years. Since the acts complained of were committed before the enactment of BP 195, the prescriptive period for such acts is 10 years as provided," the SC said.
Justices Mariano Del Castillo, Lucas Bersamin, Martin Villarama Jr., Jose Portugal Perez, Bienvenido Reyes concurred with the decision; Justices Arturo Brion, Lourdes Sereno and Estela Perlas-Bernabe dissented. - Rappler.com
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