THE Court of Appeals has reinstated two high-ranking officials of the Land Bank of the Philippines (LBP) who were dismissed by the Ombudsman for the anomalous sale of Meralco shares involving the Social Security System (SSS) and LBP to a private company several years ago.
In a 36-page decision penned by Associate Justice Amy Lazaro-Javier and concurred in by Associate Justices Celia Librea-Leagogo and Melchor Sadang, the CA’s Ninth Division granted the petition filed by current Landbank president Gilda Pico and LBP Senior Vice President Carel Halog as it reversed and set aside the decision dated October 21, 2015 of the Office of the Ombudsman.
“The complaint against petitioners…is ordered dismissed,” the CA said.
“Petitioners are ordered immediately reinstated to the posts from which they were respectively dismissed.”
“The Ombudsman… and all persons acting in its behalf are immediately and permanently enjoined from implementing its decision,” it added.
The Ombudsman had found Pico and Halog, along with several SSS officials liable for graft for approving the block sale of its Meralco shares worth P5.699 billion to Global 5000 with a down payment of only P1.133 billion.
The anti-graft office held that the Landbank gave unwarranted benefits, advantage or preference to Global, a firm with doubtful financial capacity and no track record to undertake the sale.
It was found that LBP executives entered into a Stock Purchase Agreement (SPA) without any negotiations and was undertaken in a matter of 10 days.
In its ruling, the Ombudsman found Pico, Halog ang several other guilty of administrative charges.
However, in reinstating Pico and Halog, the CA ruled in its May 27, 2016 ruling but was released just recently that their “role in the execution of the SPA is not one that tarnishes the image and integrity of the LBP as a banking institution.”
“The SPA was reasonable as it was framed, possibly no longer reasonable now, due to the seven years that have passed. But that is not the issue regarding petitioners’ present plight of having been dismissed from the service. In this present opportunity, this court will act where fairness and rightful compassion are.”