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Regidor B.

Yumul Paolo Dimayuga Criminal Law 2

Professor Amado January 6, 2013

G.R. Nos. 186659-710 October 19, 2011 ZACARIA A. CANDAO, ABAS A. CANDAO AND ISRAEL B. HARON, Petitioners , vs. PEOPLE OF THE PHILIPPINES AND SANDIGANBAYAN, Respondents . FACTS: This is a petition for review on certiorari under Rule 45 is the Decision dated October 29, 2008 and Resolution dated February 20, 2009 of the Sandiganbayan (First Division) finding the petitioners guilty beyond reasonable doubt of malversation of public funds under Article 217 of the Revised Penal Code, as amended. Chairman Pascasio S. Banaria of the Commission on Audit (COA) constituted a team to audit the office of the Office of the Regional Governor, Autonomous Region for Muslim Mindanao (ORG-ARMM). Headed by State Auditors Heidi L. Mendoza. The team found that there were illegal disbursement amounting to P 21,045,570.64 not covered by disbursement voucher. On April 17,1998, the Office of the Special Prosecutor, Office of the Ombudsman-Mindanao, filed Cases of Malversation of Public Funds under Article 217 of the Revised Penal Code against Zacaria A. Candao (Regional Governor), Israel B. Haron (Disbursing Officer II), Abas A. Candao (Executive Secretary) and Pandical M. Santiago (Cashier). The following are the cases filed against the petitioners; Criminal Case Nos. 24569-24574, 24576-24584, 24593, 24595-24620 (42 counts involving checks in the total amount of P 17,190,585.00); Criminal Case Nos. 24585- 24592 and 24594 (9 counts involving checks in the total amount of P 3,854,985.64); Criminal Case No. 24575. At their arraignment, all accused pleaded not guilty to the charge of malversation. In the meantime, accused Santiago died and consequently the case against him in Criminal Case No. 24575 was dismissed.

Heidi L. Mendoza was the prosecutions lone witness was, COA State She testified that their audit conducted from August 24 to September 1, 1993, found out that there were illegal withdrawals of funds from the treasury account of the ORGARMM involving 52 checks issued without the required disbursement vouchers. Specifically, their attention was caught by the fact that the vouchers had no asigned numbers. Mendoza admitted that they were not able to inform that they will be conducting an expanded audit because their lives were in danger as one of the suspect , Zacaria Candao is the Governor of ARMM. . The defense presented their first witness was Nick Luz Aduana who was the Director of Finance of ORG-ARMM during that time, who claimed that the 52 disbursement were used for peace and order purpose. He hinted that the charges were politically motivated. The defense presented two more witnesses claiming that they submitted the disbursement vouchers to the COA Resident Auditor, Supervising State Auditor IV Rosalinda Gagwis, who by the way made an affidavit and submitted it to Mendoza earlier saying that she did not have any disbursement vouchers from the petitioners. Gagwis eventually clarified later on that she did not received the disbursement vouchers that were being submitted by the petitioners because she is not the Regional Auditor anymore of ARMM. On October 29, 2008, the Sandiganbayan found petitioner Israel B. Haron in conspiracy with Abas A. Candao guilty beyond reasonable doubt of 43 counts of malversation of public funds under Article 217 of the Revised Penal Code, as amended, and were sentenced to imprisonment and ordered to pay a fine equivalent to the amount of the check in each case, as follows: Criminal Case Nos. 2456924584, 24593, 24595-24620, and in Criminal Case Nos. 24585-24592 & 24594, Israel B. Haron and Zacaria A. Candao were found guilty of 9 counts of Malversation of Public Funds and were senteced with various prison terms ranging from prision mayor to reclusion temporal for each count. Hence the instant

appeal. ISSUE: Whether or not the Sandiganbayan erred when it convicted the petitioners considering that they have disbursement vouchers, their right to due process was denied because there was no advance notice of the expanded audit and equipoise rule was not applied which would have acquitted them? HELD : The Supreme Court did not find any merit to the contention of the accused. The disbursement vouchers that the petitioners were trying to submit was an afterthought when they were audited. If the vouchers were really existing before the audit, Haron could have immediately presented it when it was being asked by the auditors. The equipoise rule that the defense was claiming is only applicable if there tend to be a preponderance of evidence between the prosecution and the defense in which case the Sandiganbayan should acquit the accused, in this case, all the elements of Malversation of Public Funds were found to be all present on the petitioners. The contention of lack of notice for the expanded audit is hogwash for the reason that before the expanded audit, notice were sent and request were made for the disbursement vouchers before the audit commences. Wherefore the Court upheld the rulings of the Sandiganbayan on the mentioned criminal cases.