In a decision that would have certainly disappointed his critics, ex-FIDE head Florencio Campomanes was last month acquitted by the Philippine Supreme Court because the government prosecutor used the wrong law and, therefore, failed to prove culpability!
The Supreme Court's decision reads:
The laws cited by the OSP do not sufficiently show that Campomanes is legally required to render accounts to the COA. Neither the “prosecution’s evidence” nor the Audit Report is the “law or regulation” contemplated by the Revised Penal Code. Moreover, it is error for the OSP to submit that Section 102 of Presidential Decree No. 1445 (“PD 1445”) is the law mandating the FIDE or its officers to render an accounting. Section 102 of PD 1445, read together with other Sections in Chapter 5 of PD 1445, clearly refers to “official(s) or employee(s)” who are “accountable officers” of “any government agency,” and not to “non-governmental entities receiving subsidy or equity, directly or indirectly, from or through the Government x x x.” When it comes to subsidy or equity extended by the government to a “non-governmental entity,” the legal obligation on the part of the non-governmental entity to account for, and the power of the COA to audit, such subsidy or equity arises only if “the law or the granting institution” requires such audit as a condition for the subsidy or equity.
As gleaned from the parties’ stipulation of facts, the PSC and the FIDE entered here into a contract requiring the PSC to provide the FIDE the funds for the latter to organize the Chess Olympiad and Congress in Manila. The PSC delivered the funds to the FIDE, which apparently successfully organized the Chess Olympiad and Congress since the PSC does not claim that the FIDE failed to organize the two events. In short, the FIDE complied with its undertaking under the contract. There is no claim by the PSC or the COA that the FIDE, a foreign non-governmental entity, is obligated under the contract to render an accounting. There is also no showing that the PSC’s charter or any law or regulation requires the FIDE to render an accounting to the PSC or the COA as a condition for the receipt of funds. Clearly, this situation cannot give rise to criminal liability on the part of the FIDE’s officers under Article 222 of the Revised Penal Code which admittedly requires that there must be a “law or regulation” requiring the rendering of accounts by private individuals.
We acquit Campomanes because of the failure of the prosecution to prove all the elements of Article 218, in relation to Article 222, of the Revised Penal Code. Because of this failure, we deem it unnecessary to rule on the other issues raised by both parties.
WHEREFORE, we GRANT the petition. We SET ASIDE the Decision promulgated on 31 January 2003 and the Resolution promulgated on 6 February 2004 of the Sandiganbayan. We ACQUIT Florencio B. Campomanes of the crime of failure to render accounts as defined in Article 218, in relation to Article 222, of the Revised Penal Code.
The item was reported by Jomar Canlas for the Manila Times last month.