Sandiganbayan affirms conviction of LRA examiner for direct bribery, but acquits him for graft

Published November 19, 2019, 2:17 PM

by Francine Ciasico

By Czarina Nicole Ong-Ki 

The Sandiganbayan Third Division has affirmed the conviction of Land Registration Authority (LRA) Examiner Giovanni Purugganan of direct bribery, but decided to acquit him from his earlier graft conviction.

Sandiganbayan (MANILA BULLETIN)
Sandiganbayan (MANILA BULLETIN)

Purugganan was found guilty by the Regional Trial Court (RTC) Branch 88 in Quezon City of direct bribery and violation of Section 3(b) of R.A. 3019 or the Anti-Graft and Corrupt Practices Act.

This was for his act of receiving the sum of P50,000 from Albert Avecilla on August 23, 2011 in exchange for the release of the latter’s order from the LRA to the Register of Deeds of La Union regarding the titling of the property of his uncle, Benjamin Ramos.

Not happy with the results, Purugganan elevated the case to the Sandiganbayan and argued that the lower court erred in finding him guilty beyond reasonable doubt because the prosecution failed to prove the essential element of both crimes – that he requested, accepted or received a gift from Avecilla.

The anti-graft court found Purugganan’s arguments partly meritorious. While he is indeed guilty of direct bribery, the court said there are still questions in his graft conviction.

As land examiner, Purugganan had the right to intervene in the release of the order from the LRA. However, the release of an order from the LRA in connection with the titling of land is not the contract transaction contemplated by Section 3(b) of R.A. 3019.

The term “transaction,” explained the court, is limited only to contracts or transactions involving monetary consideration where the public officer has authority to intervene under the law.

“It is jurisprudentially settled that the State is required, in the discharge of the burden imposed upon it, to establish by proof all the essential elements of the crime with which the accused is charged in the indictment,” the court said.

“Thus, in the absence of one of the essential elements of violation of Section 3(b) of R.A. 3019, the acquittal of accused-appellant is in order,” it added.

The 46-page decision was written by Presiding Justice Amparo Cabotaje-Tang with the concurrence of Associate Justices Bernelito Fernandez and Ronald Moreno.

 
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Sandiganbayan affirms conviction of LRA examiner for direct bribery, but acquits him for graft

Published November 19, 2019, 12:00 AM

by manilabulletin_admin

By Czarina Nicole Ong-Ki 

The Sandiganbayan Third Division has affirmed the conviction of Land Registration Authority (LRA) Examiner Giovanni Purugganan of direct bribery, but decided to acquit him from his earlier graft conviction.

Sandiganbayan (MANILA BULLETIN)
Sandiganbayan (MANILA BULLETIN)

Purugganan was found guilty by the Regional Trial Court (RTC) Branch 88 in Quezon City of direct bribery and violation of Section 3(b) of R.A. 3019 or the Anti-Graft and Corrupt Practices Act.

This was for his act of receiving the sum of P50,000 from Albert Avecilla on August 23, 2011 in exchange for the release of the latter’s order from the LRA to the Register of Deeds of La Union regarding the titling of the property of his uncle, Benjamin Ramos.

Not happy with the results, Purugganan elevated the case to the Sandiganbayan and argued that the lower court erred in finding him guilty beyond reasonable doubt because the prosecution failed to prove the essential element of both crimes – that he requested, accepted or received a gift from Avecilla.

The anti-graft court found Purugganan’s arguments partly meritorious. While he is indeed guilty of direct bribery, the court said there are still questions in his graft conviction.

As land examiner, Purugganan had the right to intervene in the release of the order from the LRA. However, the release of an order from the LRA in connection with the titling of land is not the contract transaction contemplated by Section 3(b) of R.A. 3019.

The term “transaction,” explained the court, is limited only to contracts or transactions involving monetary consideration where the public officer has authority to intervene under the law.

“It is jurisprudentially settled that the State is required, in the discharge of the burden imposed upon it, to establish by proof all the essential elements of the crime with which the accused is charged in the indictment,” the court said.

“Thus, in the absence of one of the essential elements of violation of Section 3(b) of R.A. 3019, the acquittal of accused-appellant is in order,” it added.

The 46-page decision was written by Presiding Justice Amparo Cabotaje-Tang with the concurrence of Associate Justices Bernelito Fernandez and Ronald Moreno.

 
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