MANILA -- The Sandiganbayan has exonerated a former executive of the Philippine Heart Center (PHC) of criminal charges in connection with the purchase of a 27,106-square-meter lot of the Government Service Insurance System (GSIS) valued at PHP380 million in 1999.
In a 30-page decision dated Oct. 19, 2018, the anti-graft court's First Division cleared former PHC Deputy Director Zylma Sanchez of violation of Section 3(e) of Republic Act No. 3019, or the “Anti-Graft and Corrupt Practices act,” malversation through falsification of public documents, falsification of public documents and malversation of public funds.
Having ruled that there exists no conspiracy between Sanchez and the other accused -- former PHC Director Lutgerio Torres, PHC Deputy Director Adonis Mella, also a legal officer of PHC, and Edna Cruz, a contractual employee of the Quezon City Treasurer’s Office (QCTO) -- the anti-graft court said “only the individual acts of accused Sanchez will be used as basis to determine her criminal liability.”
“...the charges against accused Torres had already been dismissed by the Supreme Court more than 10 years ago. It would be the height of injustice if accused Sanchez will be held criminally liable for her actions, which were merely the result of her having followed the instructions of her superior, accused Torres,” it added.
Court records showed that the four accused allegedly conspired to make it appear that the QCTO issued a memo-assessment to the PHC, dated Sept. 25, 2000 in the amount of PHP1,985,301.75, for payment of transfer tax, including the amount of PHP714,708.75, for the property acquired from the GSIS.
Despite the absence of a memo, they purportedly managed to withdraw PHP714,708.75, which they converted for their own personal use.
The Office of the Ombudsman charged the four accused before the Sandiganbayan on Aug. 24, 2006,
The four also allegedly falsified the QCTO official receipt dated Oct. 2, 2000 in the sum of PHP1,985,301.75 purportedly for the payment of transfer tax, penalty and surcharge of the PHC property acquired from the GSIS. Only PHP1,270,593 was actually paid by the accused for the PHC to the QCTO, court records said.
Torres and Sanchez separately pleaded not guilty when arraigned while Mella and Cruz remained at-large.
On Aug. 10, 2007, the Sandiganbayan resolved that there exists no probable cause to proceed with the cases against Torres, dropping him from the charge sheet.
The prosecution filed a petition with the Supreme Court for the annulment and setting aside of the Sandiganbayan’s resolutions, which dismissed the charges against Torres. However, the SC dismissed it on Aug. 17, 2016. (PNA)
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