The Sandiganbayan’s Second Division has found the former Regional Trial Court Judge of Daet, Camarines Norte guilty of soliciting and accepting money in exchange for the dropping of a robbery case against a policeman.
Former RTC Branch 41 presiding judge Owen Amor was sentenced to three years imprisonment and ordered to pay a P5,000 penalty. He was also disqualified from holding any public office.
In a 23-page decision, the Sandiganbayan said “the facts and evidence presented by the prosecution positively show that indeed, accused Judge Amor solicited and accepted money from P/Supt. Danilo Manzano for the supposed dismissal of the latter’s cases . . . which were then pending with the Regional Trial Court, Branch 41, Daet, Camarines Norte presided over by the accused.”
Amor was charged for violation of Section 7(d) of Republic Act No. 6713 (Code of Conduct and Ethical Standards for Public Officials and Employees).
Under the said law, public officials and employees are prohibited from soliciting or accepting any gift, gratuity, favor, entertainment, loan or anything of monetary value from any person in the course of their official duties.
Associate Justice Teresita Diaz-Baldos of the Second Division penned the ruling, which was concurred in by Associate Justices Napoleon Inoturan and Rafael Lagos.
In filing the case, the Ombudsman alleged that Amor solicited and accepted P400,000 from Manzano in exchange for the dismissal of the latter’s robbery and graft cases in 2000.
The policeman testified that he was invited by the judge to his house and informed him about the weight of the case filed against him. Owen added that the case could be dismissed if Manzano could raise at least half of the one million pesos offered by the complainant.
Manzano then sought the assistance of the Presidential Anti-Organized Crime Task Force (PAOCTF) and an entrapment was set on January 24, 2000 where operatives collared Amor on the act of receiving the marked money at Sulo Hotel in Quezon City.
The former judge denied Manzano’s allegations during his testimony, saying it was the policeman who begged for his help in the case.
But the Sandiganbayan said it inclined to believe the testimony of Manzano and pointed out the presence of flourescent powder on Amor’s hands following the entrapment operation. It added that none of the defense witnesses rebutted the allegation that he demanded and accepted money from Manzano.