Sandiganbayan affirms conviction of PNP general

Published July 31, 2021, 3:26 PM

by Czarina Nicole Ong Ki


The Sandiganbayan has affirmed its decision that convicted PBGen. Bienvenido G. Latag of his graft charge for illegally suspending a Philippine National Police (PNP) member in 2011.

Affirmed by the court was its March 12, 2021 decision that found Latag guilty of violation of 3(e) of Republic Act 3019, the Anti-Graft and Corrupt Practices Act. He was sentenced to a prison term ranging from six to eight years imprisonment with perpetual disqualification from holding public office.

Under the rules, Latag can still elevate the judgment of conviction directly before the Supreme Court (SC).

The charge against Latag’s co-accused, PCol. Jaime C. Pido, had been dismissed due to his death.

The anti-graft court found that Latag and Pido, as regional director and chief of the human resources development division of the PNP, respectively, in the Autonomous Region for Muslim Mindanao (ARMM), ordered the 90-day preventive suspension of PLt. Romenick A. Linsangan effective on April 9, 2011 despite lack of authority to do so.

In his motion for reconsideration, Latag argued that he and Pido acted in good faith in Linsangan’s suspension which, he said, was in the exercise of their authority to discipline members of the PNP who were administratively charged before the Internal Affairs Service (IAS).

Latag also denied that Linsangan suffered undue injury by reason of his preventive suspension, since he was immediately reinstated in service without loss of rank and salary.

“As held by the Court in the assailed decision, it is only the trial court having jurisdiction over the crime that has the authority to order the preventive suspension of a police officer charged before it,” the Sandiganbayan said in a resolution.

The court said that while it is true that Latag, as regional director, was also authorized by law to preventively suspend a police officer under his command, he can only do so on the basis of an administrative case filed against the said police officer.

It also disagreed that Linsangan suffered no undue injury, as he failed to receive his combat allowance and hazard pay, and was deprived of the full amount of his mid-year and year-end bonuses because of the preventive suspension.

“In fine, accused Latag failed to convince this Court that the reversal of the assailed decision is warranted,” the resolution penned by Associate Justice Karl B. Miranda stated.

Sixth Division Chairperson Sarah Jane T. Fernandez and Associate Justice Kevin Narce B. Vivero concurred in the eight-page resolution.