In a ruling penned by Associate Justice Mariano del Castillo, the SC reversed a September 30, 2009 decision and a January 22, 2010 resolution of the Court of Appeals that upheld the dismissal of the cases against Go and the others that were pending before the Manila Regional Trial Court Branch 49.
“For purposes of proving the crime, it has been shown that Go converted bank funds to his own personal use when they were deposited in his accounts and his personal checks were cleared and the funds were debited from his account. This suffices,” the high court said.
The SC ruled that the prosecution’s reliance on supposed loan documents, subsidiary ledgers, deposit slip, cash proof, and other documents was proper.
“They are both public and private documents which may be received in evidence; Notably, petitioner’s documentary evidence was admitted in full by the trial court,” it said.
The OCBC was shut down on Oct. 14, 1998 and was placed in receivership by the The Philippine Deposit Insurance Corp. (PDIC). A string of estafa cases and other charges were filed against Go in various courts.
The PDIC, as the statutory receiver of OCBC, effectively took charge of OCBC’s assets and liabilities in accordance with its mandate under Section 30 of Republic Act 7653.
PDIC then began collecting loan payments from OCBC’s borrowers. Allegedly among these borrowers are Timmy’s Inc. and Asia Textile Mills Inc, which supposedly obtained a loan of P10 million each from the bank. A representative of Timmy’s Inc., however, denied getting any loan from OCBC and insisted that the signatures on the loan documents were falsified.
In 1997, two manager’s checks were issued for these supposed loans worth P120,819,475. The checks were later found to have been encashed and deposited to Go’s savings account, then transferred to his current accounts. The money in the current account was eventually used to fund Go’s previously dishonored checks.
Aside from Go, bank officials Aida Dela Rosa and Felecitas Necomedes were also charged for the same offense of estafa through falsification of commercial documents.
Demurrer to evidence
Go and the other accused eventually filed a demurrer to evidence, which was granted by the Manila court on July 2, 2007. Handling public prosecutor, Manila Prosecutor Marlo Campanilla, did not file a motion for reconsideration to contest the ruling granting the demurrer.
A demurrer to evidence, filed after the prosecution rests its case, is a motion to dismiss a case on the grounds of insufficiency of evidence of the prosecution.
When the matter was elevated to the CA, the appellate court sided with the Manila court, saying the prosecution failed to demonstrate that the local court committed grave abuse of discretion in granting the demurrer.
The SC said even if the prosecutor’s actions showed a patent ignorance of procedure, their “dissection” has already been rendered “unnecessary” because the Manila court’s orders have been declared null and void.
“It is conceded that the lack of Campanilla’s approval and/or conformé to PDIC’s Motion for Reconsideration should have rendered the trial court’s assailed Orders final and executory were it not for the fact that they were inherently null and void,” said the SC.
“Campanilla’s irresponsible actions almost cost the People its day in court and their right to exact justice and retribution, not to mention that they could have caused immeasurable damage to the banking industry,” it added.
The SC stressed that a voided decision has no legal and binding effect. “It is not even necessary to take any steps to vacate or avoid a void judgment or final order; it may simply be ignored,” it said.
Concurring with the ruling were Associate Justices Antonio Carpio, Arturo Brion, Jose Perez and Martin Villarama Jr. —KBK, GMA News