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Ronald Roy

If public servants — like senators, congressmen, local government officials and those from the Department of Budget and Management (DBM), Commission on Audit (COA) and other departments and agencies that have had to do with pork barrel funds ending up in private pockets — think they can beat plunder and graft raps, they should think again.
First off, Millie (de Silva), even if Janet Lim Napoles (JLN) does not turn state witness, convictions can be obtained on the strength of circumstantial evidence. While this species of evidence is not the best, jurisprudence showcases instances where it has been found to be sufficient to produce convictions.
Additionally, should JLN’s testimony as a state witness be found to be dispensable, the state may nonetheless opt to use the same to fortify its prosecutorial efforts, thereby speeding up the trial. But there is still a faster way to jail these scammers, Millie: Charge them with Malversation in appropriate cases.
Malversation, as prescribed by Art. 217 of the Revised Penal Code, Act No. 3815, as amended, is easier to prove than plunder or graft and corruption because mere negligence in the discharge of the accused’s official duties will be enough to convict him.
In reply to your query, Millie, malversation is committed by ” any public officer who, by reason of the duties of his office is accountable for public funds or property, appropriates the same, or takes or misappropriates or consents, or through abandonment or negligence permits any other person to take such public funds or property, wholly or partially, xxx”.
Please take note, Millie, that a public officer is presumed to have committed malversation if, by his negligence, he allowed another person to take what was not intended for that person. Thus, in appropriate cases, a solon will find it difficult to pass the buck to a member of his staff who may have been implicated as an unintended receiver of a kickback.
Needless to state, it therefore behooves a lawmaker to carefully oversee his staffers in their handling of public money matters. Otherwise, he may suffer the penalties imposed by law even if he did not pocket a single centavo since he never got the kickback. “Sed lex dura lex” — the law is harsh, but that is the law.
The severity of the penalty will depend on the amount involved. Thus, ” the penalty of reclusion temporal in its medium and maximum periods is suffered if the amount is more than 12,000 pesos but is less than 22,000 pesos. If the amount exceeds the latter, the penalty shall be reclusion temporal in its maximum period to reclusion perpetua. [ The penalty of reclusion temporal is from 12 years and 1 day to 20 years ]

” In all cases, persons found guilty of malversation shall also suffer the penalty of perpetual special disqualification and a fine equal to the amount of the funds malversed or equal to the total value of the property embezzled.
” The failure of a public officer to have duly forthcoming any public funds or property with which he is chargeable, upon demand by any duly authorized officer, shall be prima facie evidence that he has put such missing funds or property to personal use.” ( As amended by R.A. 1060, June 12, 1954 )
Well, Billy (Mesina), note that the amounts and values in today’s realities are so ridiculously small that the cited provisions must be further amended. And yes, I am now convinced more than ever that selective investigation is being undertaken by Ombudsman Conchita Carpio Morales, DOJ Sec. Leila de Lima and COA Chair Pulido-Tan, zeroing as it does on opposition senators Marcos, Revilla, Enrile, Honasan, Estrada and Legarda. In any event, let’s be glad that whistle-blower Benhur Luy has bared damning evidence of pork corruption in the year 2012, although I’m pessimistic pork anomalies during P- Noy’s term will seriously be probed under his watch.
Scuttlebutt has it that P-Noy regards Senate President Franklin Drilon as his most reliable adviser. This being the case, expect opposition quarters to try to expose the pork-related crimes Drilon is believed to have committed during his incumbency as senate chief from 2004 to 2007.
Again, will Pulido-Tan grant the request of Sen. Jayvee Ejercito for her to release a COA report for the said period? Will she be willing to bare records showing JLN’s hundreds of millions of pesos worth of contributions allegedly given to Drilon for the funding of Gloria Arroyo’s run for the presidency in 2004 and her party’s candidates in the 2007 elections, among other alleged cash gifts to him from JLN’s piggy banks?
Today, one remembers only too vividly Drilon’s obsequiousness to GMA during those years, including that obscenely overpriced Iloilo International Airport reportedly constructed from his pork allocation. Well, I’ll bet every hard-earned peso I’ve got that the COA Chair, who is said to be P-Noy’s close friend, will not scrutinize the 2004-2007 period.
Hmmm…sayang, it should not be too difficult to catch some big fish on charges of Malversation.

(https://musingsbyroy.wordpress.com | 09186449517 | @ronald8roy | #musingsbyroy )

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