SC junks graft raps against former NLRC commissioner
THE Supreme Court (SC) has dismissed criminal cases against a commissioner of the National Labor Relations Commission (NLRC) who was prosecuted for allegedly soliciting 100,000 pesos from a lawyer.
In a 19-page resolution, the SC First Division quashed and acquitted Commissioner Angelo Ang Palaña of charges of violating Section 3(e) of Republic Act 3019 and Section 7(d) of Republic Act 6713 or the Code of Conduct and Ethical Standards for Public Officials and Employees, on the basis that his guilt has not been proven beyond a reasonable doubt.
“Let the corresponding entry of the final judgment be immediately published,” said the CS.
The case arose from the complaint filed by attorney Rebene Carrera, who was then handling 16 cases pending before the NLRC’s 4th Division, of which Palaña is a member.
Carrera said he is a practicing attorney specializing in maritime and labor law.
He said Palaña had insinuated he had discretion, authority and influence over the outcome of his cases pending before the NLRC.
Carrera was reportedly told that they would meet in the lobby of the NLRC and that sometimes Palaña would invite him for coffee in their office.
In the process, Palaña was also informed by Carrera that some of his cases fell within his jurisdiction and could resolve them in his favor.
He noted that in December 2011, Palaña allegedly asked him for a loan because he needed the money, adding that the loan would be considered “goodwill money”.
Carrera gave in to Palaña’s request and deposited 100,000 pesos into his bank account lest his business be harmed, as evidenced by a cash deposit slip.
In his defense, Palaña claimed that it was an office janitor who made the cash deposit.
The Sandiganbayan found Palaña guilty beyond a reasonable doubt of both crimes.
He was found guilty of breaching Section 3(e) of the Anti-Corruption Act and was sentenced to an indefinite term of imprisonment of six years and one month, minimum, to eight years, maximum, with a permanent ban on holding public meetings. Office.
Palaña was ordered to pay 100,000 pesos to Carrera.
In addition, he was also found guilty of violating Section 7(d) of RA No. 6713 and was sentenced to three years imprisonment.
According to the anti-corruption court, all the elements of the two crimes were established by the prosecution.
The Sandiganbayan found that Palaña had committed a scheme with obvious bad faith by soliciting and requesting a loan from Carrera. This prompted Palaña to take his case to the SC.
In its decision, the High Court noted that the prosecution had “not established undue hardship to any party, including the government, or the granting of undue advantage, advantage or preference to any party”. .
“Here, the Sandiganbayan erred in finding that there was undue hardship to the plaintiff, either in the form of a loan that was not repaid or in the form of a solicitation, in as goodwill money.”
Similarly, the SC held that the elements of violation of Art. 7(d) of RA 6713 have not been sufficiently established by the prosecution.
“The Sandiganbayan misjudged the evidence by relying on mere hearsay. To emphasize, the testimony of the plaintiff and his secretary regarding the alleged cash deposit is inadmissible for lack of personal knowledge. Ultimately, the evidence presented against the defendant-appellant is seriously impaired by his reliance on hearsay and unsubstantiated allegations,” the high court said.
The court said that the presumption of innocence of an accused “is a basic constitutional principle reinforced by rules of procedure which impose on the prosecution the burden of proving that an accused is guilty of the offense charged by a proof beyond a reasonable doubt”.