Ombudsman indicts ex-PCGG chair for influence peddling

MANILA, Philippines – Former Presidential Commission on Good Government (PCGG) chairman Camilo Sabio faces graft charges for attempting to influence a Court of Appeals (CA) justice – his younger brother – in a case pending before the court, the Office of the Ombudsman said on Wednesday, November 26.

In a joint resolution, Ombudsman Conchita Carpio Morales found probable cause to indict Sabio for two counts of violation of Republic Act No. 3019 or the Anti-Graft and Corrupt Practices Act, and for violation of  the Revised Penal Code.

On May 30, 2008, CA Associate Justice Jose L. Sabio Jr received a call from his brother, informing him that he was named as a member of the CA division handling the Government Service Insurance System (GSIS)-Manila Electric Company (Meralco) case.

The resolution said that Sabio "tried to convince Justice Sabio 'of the rightness of the stand of the GSIS and asked his brother to help the GSIS, which represents the interest of the poor people.'"

It also said that it had been "uncovered" that Chairman Sabio received a call from GSIS board member Jesus Santos informing him that the case had been raffled to the division of Justice Sabio, and requested "his intercession to convince Justice Sabio to rule against the issuance of Temporary Restraining Order in favor of Meralco."

The Ombudsman cited Section 3(a) of the  RA 3019 which prohibits public officers from “persuading, inducing or influencing another public officer to perform an act constituting a violation of rules and regulations duly promulgated by competent authority or an offense in connection with official duties of the latter, or allowing himself to be persuaded, induced, or influenced to commit such violation or offense.”  

Article 243 of the Revised Penal Code penalizes any “executive officer who shall address any order or suggestion to any judicial authority with respect to any case or business coming within the exclusive jurisdiction of the courts of justice.”

The joint resolution excluded Justice Sabio as respondent in the complaint "since records do not show that he had been influenced by his elder brother." –