MANILA— The Sandiganbayan has dismissed the graft charges filed against retired Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) chief of staff Gen. Diomedio Villanueva due to a “fatally defective” case information” filed by the prosecution.
A reading of the information revealed the prosecution failed to specifically allege that the accused acted with ‘manifest partiality’, ‘evident bad faith’ and/or ‘gross inexcusable negligence’, and essential element of the offense charged,” the Sandiganbayan Seventh Division said in its 13-page resolution.
The resolution was written by Associate Justice Zaldy Trespeses and concurring were Associate Justices Ma. Theresa Dolores Gomez-Estoesta and Bayani Jacinto.
“Since the information is fatally defective, the instant case should be dismissed,” the resolution said.
The case involves the alleged anomalous refund of PHP53 million given by the Philippine Postal Corporation (PPC) to Philpost USA, a New York-based corporation established for remailing services to American citizens using the Philippine Postage Indicia.
In the case information, Villanueva and his co-accused allegedly conspired when they refunded USD1 million or PHP53 million to Philpost USA as representation of alleged Terminal Dues paid for mail matters sent to the Royal Mail in the United Kingdom.
The Ombudsman accused Villanueva, former Assistant Postmaster General Antonio Siapno, and former Acting Director Leonildo Basilio of facilitating the refund despite knowing fully well that Philpost USA was not entitled to it, causing a deficit in revenue for PPC.
However, the Sandiganbayan said that the prosecution “failed to use words that would characterize the elements of the offense” such as partiality, bad faith, and gross negligence against the respondents.
“Basic is the rule that every element constituting the offense must be alleged in the information,” it said. “An information is fatally defective when an essential element of the crime has not been sufficiently alleged,” it added.