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President’s alter egos ain’t immune from suit: SC upholds ex-PCGG chair Sabio’s graft conviction

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The Supreme Court (SC) has declared that none of the alter-egos of the President is immune from suit.

With this, the high court upheld the decision of the Sandiganbayan convicting former Presidential Commission on Good Governance (PCGG) chair Camilo Sabio for the illegal lease of 11 PCGG vehicles.

“Sabio cannot claim immunity from suit for being an alter ego of the President,” read the SC decision.

“It was the PCGG, through Sabio and his Commissioners, not the President, who entered into the subject lease agreements without the requisite public bidding,” the high court added.

The Sandiganbayan sentenced Sabio to imprisonment found Sabio guilty of two counts of graft for having leased the vehicles to the United Coconut Planters Bank Leasing and Finance Corporation from 2007 to 2009 without undergoing the required public bidding.

During that time, Sabio was also a board member of the UCBP, the parent company of UCBP Leasing.

“It will be ridiculous to hold that alter egos of the President are, likewise, immune from suit simply because their acts are considered acts of the President if not repudiated,” the SC pointed out.

“In fact, the 1987 Constitution is replete with provisions on the constitutional principles of accountability and good governance that should guide a public servant,” the high court cited.

The high court pointed stated that the rule is “unlawful acts of public officials are not acts of the State and the officer who acts illegally is not acting as such but stands in the same footing as any other trespasser.”

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