Sandiganbayan recalls conviction, junks case vs. deceased ex-mayor

Published April 2, 2021, 1:59 PM

by Czarina Nicole Ong Ki

The Sandiganbayan has recalled its judgment of conviction against former Dumanjug, Cebu Mayor Nelson Gamaliel F. Garcia who died two months before the promulgation of the decision on Nov. 6, 2020.


Garcia and Administrative Officer IV Emmylou Cabonilas were sentenced to a prison term ranging from two months and one day to eight months and 21 days for usurpation.

In a motion filed last Feb. 9, Garcia’s lawyer Francisco S. Yabut submitted a motion to dismiss the case because his client had died on Sept. 1, 2020 or two months prior to the promulgation of the decision. He presented Garcia’s death certificate.

Garcia and Cabonilas’ conviction has not attained finality as a motion for reconsideration could still be filed and if denied, the judgment of conviction may still be elevated to a higher court.

Finding merit on the motion, the anti-graft decided to dismiss the case and eventually recalled its decision as far as Garcia was concerned.

“The present case is rendered dismissible pursuant to Article 89 of the Revised Penal Code (RPC) insofar as he (Garcia) is concerned. The civil action instituted in the criminal action for the recovery of civil liability ex delicto (from a wrong or transgression) is ipso facto (by the fact itself) extinguished,” the court ruled.

Under Article 89 of RPC, criminal liability is totally extinguished “by the death of the convict, as to the personal penalties and as to pecuniary penalties, liability therefor is extinguished only when the death of the offender occurs before final judgment.”

The resolution was written by Associate Justice Maria Theresa Mendoza-Arcega with the concurrence of Associate Justices Rafael Lagos and Maryann Corpus Mañalac.

The criminal charges against Garcia and Cabonilas stated that on Dec. 26, 2013, Cabonilas performed acts “pertaining to the position of Secretary of the Sangguniang Bayan of Dumanjug,” such as signing a Sanggunian Bayan Resolution which approved the municipal government’s budget for 2014.

The anti-graft court said that while Cabonilas had no authority to do so,  Garcia allowed her to act as municipal council secretary.

Their co-accused — Sangguniang Bayan members Ricardo Boquecosa, Ricardo Condes, Eliezer Amadora, Meriam Llaño, and Antonio Garcia — were acquitted for failure of the prosecution to prove their guilt beyond reasonable doubt.