THE Court of Appeals has affirmed the decision of the Office of the Ombudsman finding Camilo Sabio, former chairman of the Presidential Commission on Good Government (PCGG), guilty of dishonesty, grave misconduct, and conduct prejudicial to the best interest of the service.
In a decision penned by Associate Justice Zenaida Galapate-Laguilles and concurred in by Associate Justices Mariflor Punzalan-Castillo and Florito Macalino, the court’s 10th Division junked the petition for a review of three administrative charges filed by Sabio, who was PCGG chief from 2005 to 2010.
The case stemmed from separate complaints filed by the Ombudsman’s Field Investigation Office against Sabio and PCGG director for legal affairs Ernest Louie Miguel for excessive use of their cellular phones.
The Commission on Audit had found that Sabio and Miguel used their cell phones beyond the allowable limit of P10,000.
Records of the case showed that the complaint was originally filed by state auditors, who reported that Sabio and Miguel incurred P331,040 in mobile phone expenses.
Moreover, Sabio, who as PCGG chairman was tasked to collect remittances from sequestered corporations, was found to have failed to liquidate P1.5 million out of more than P10 million in cash advances that he used for travel and litigation of foreign cases.
The Ombudsman found Sabio administratively liable and dismissed him from the service with accessory penalties, while it absolved Miguel.
In its decision, the appeals court held that the Ombudsman was right when it handed down its verdict against Sabio.
“We emphasize that despite the exalted position that respondent Sabio had occupied in the Executive arm of the government, he is not immune from administrative suit,” the court said.
“As chairman of the PCGG, he had no blanket authority to do as he pleased with the money and property of the government. He is covered by the same code of conduct and the rules and regulations pertaining to the handling and accounting of public funds.”