The Sandiganbayan’s Fifth Division has dismissed a malversation case against former Batangas Gov. Jose Antonio Leviste in connection with cash advances he allegedly failed to liquidate in 2003 while he was chairman of the Board of Trustees of the Philippine Retirement Authority (PRA).
The court granted Leviste’s plea for the dismissal of the case, citing the 2015 Supreme Court (SC) ruling in Domingo Panganiban v. People of the Philippines, where the high tribunal reversed a Sandiganbayan ruling that convicted a mayor who allegedly failed, despite demand from the Commission on Audit, to liquidate cash advances he drew for travel.
The SC held that for a public officer to have custody or control of funds or property by reason of his office’s duties, he “must be a cashier, treasurer, collector, property officer or any other officer or employee who is tasked with the taking of money or property from the public which they are duty-bound to keep temporarily…”
The court said that following the SC ruling, Leviste’s alleged failure to liquidate the cash advances that he received did not render him liable for malversation “essentially because he was not the public officer who had the custody of such public funds and was therefore not accountable for them, and could therefore not have misappropriated them.”