THE Court of Appeals (CA) has affirmed a ruling of the Office of the Ombudsman, finding former Special Prosecutor Dennis Villa-Ignacio administratively liable when he converted monetary donations of other officers and employees of the Office of the Special Prosecutor (OSP) for an entirely different purpose in 2005.
In an eight-page amended decision penned by Associate Justice Noel Tijam and concurred in by Associate Justices Romeo Barza and Ramon Cruz, the CA’s former Seventh Division ruled that the Ombudsman’s Internal Affairs Board (IAB) correctly held that Villa-ignacio acted with abuse of authority on the conversion, which was made knowledge and consent of the OSP officers and employees.
“Verily, his [Villa-Ignacio] actuation constitutes simple misconduct, which is punishable by law,” the decision said.
The CA ruling effectively granted a motion for reconsideration filed by Director Elvira Chua and reversed its previous ruling, which exonerated Villa-Ignacio.
Records showed that Chua donated P26,660.00 for purchase of water pumps and nothing else as reflected in an official receipt on January 20, 2005, upon Villa-Ignacio’s instructions, as well as the frontal portion of the brown envelope, which contained the words, “Abe’s donation for water pump.”
In their manifestation, the OSP prosecutors stated that they only came to know that part of the amount they gave to the 2004 Christmas party was diverted to a Gawad Kalinga project when Villa-ignacio revealed to the media that Chua had filed a complaint against him.
In 2010, the Ombudsman found Villa-ignacio administratively liable, prompting him to seek redress with the CA, which rendered a decision on October 8, 2012 in his favor.
Chua sought reconsideration, and this time, the appellate court sided with her.
The CA ruled that Villa-ignacio did not get the consensus of other prosecutors and the employees as to where the contribution or donation would be given.
“Here, although it may arguably be said that [Villa-Ignacio] did not have ill motive or corrupt desire for personal gain in appropriating the donation [for]a different purpose, his act of using the same without the consent of the donees constitutes simple misconduct,” it said.
“This conversion of use for another purpose connotes an act of using or disposing of another’s money or property as it was one’s own or devoting it to a purpose or use different from that agreed upon.”
In a separate case, the CA last February 2014, affirmed the ouster of Villa-Ignacio after the Ombudsman found him guilty in 2010 of serious dishonesty by faking records of his absences.
A ruling of the appellate court’s Ninth Division denied Villa-Ignacio’s “petition for review as it affirmed the decision dated June 17, 2010 rendered by the Internal Affairs Board (IAB) of the Office of the Ombudsman[.]”
He was the special prosecutor of the Ombudsman who symbolized the determined effort of former President Gloria-Macapagal-Arroyo’s administration to prosecute former President and now Manila Mayor Joseph Estrada for corruption and plunder several years ago.
The OSP discovered that Villa-ignacio was absent from work for 113 days in 2008. According to the OMB-IAB, 63 of these were not declared as official leaves.
It was also revealed that Villa-Ignacio’s secretary-daughter, Monica, did not report for work for 166 days in 2008.