Case Brief: Estino v People

G.R. NOS. 163957-58    APRIL 7, 2009

ESTINO 

vs

PEOPLE 

FACTS:

For review before the Court under Rule 45 are the April 16, 2004 Decision and June 14, 2004 Resolution of the Sandiganbayan in the consolidated Criminal Case Nos. 26192 and 26193 entitled People of the Philippines v. Munib S. Estino and Ernesto G. Pescadera.

In G.R. Nos. 163957-58, petitioners Munib S. Estino and Ernesto G. Pescadera appeal their conviction of violation of Section 3(e), Republic Act No. (RA) 3019 or the Anti-Graft and Corrupt Practices Act for failure to pay the Representation and Transportation Allowance (RATA) of the provincial government employees of Sulu. In G.R. Nos. 164009-11, petitioner Pescadera alone appeals his conviction of malversation of public funds under Article 217 Of the Revised Penal Code for failure to remit the Government Service Insurance System (GSIS) contributions of the provincial government employees amounting to PhP 4,820,365.30.

In these consolidated appeals, petitioners pray for their acquittal.

ISSUE:

Whether a new trial is proper in the determination the guilt of the petitioners in non-payment of RATA in violation of Sec 3(e) of RA 3019.

RULING:

YES. Petitioner’s defense is anchored on their payment of RATA, and for this purpose, they submitted documents which allegedly show that they paid the RATA under the 1998 reenacted budget. They also claim that the COA Report did not sufficiently prove that they did not pay the RATA because the alleged disbursement vouchers, which were supposed to be annexed to the COA Report as proof of nonpayment of RATA, were not submitted with said report. Rule 121 of the Rules of Court allows the conduct of a new trial before a judgment of conviction becomes final when new and material evidence has been discovered which the accused could not with reasonable diligence have discovered and produced at the trial and which if introduced and admitted would probably change the judgment. Although the documents offered by petitioners are strictly not newly discovered, it appears to us that petitioners were mistaken in their belief that its production during

Rule 121 of the Rules of Court allows the conduct of a new trial before a judgment of conviction becomes final when new and material evidence has been discovered which the accused could not with reasonable diligence have discovered and produced at the trial and which if introduced and admitted would probably change the judgment. Although the documents offered by petitioners are strictly not newly discovered, it appears to us that petitioners were mistaken in their belief that its production during trial was unnecessary.

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