THE Sandiganbayan has reaffirmed its previous decision to throw out the charges against former Cagayan de Oro City mayor Vicente "Dongkoy" Emano for the latter’s supposed refusal to implement a final decision of the Civil Service Commission (CSC) to reinstate city hall employee Leonor Esparcia to her original post in 2013.
The Anti-graft court was responding to a motion for reconsideration filed by the prosecution last October 23.
In a three-page decision penned by Associate Justice Efren Dela Cruz and promulgated on January 3, the anti-graft court found no cogent reasons to reverse or set aside the acquittal of Emano.
"Wherefore, in light of the foregoing, the prosecution's motion for reconsideration is hereby denied," reads part of the decision.
Emano was acquitted of the charges of violation of section 121, Rule 24 of the Revised Rules on Administrative Cases in the Civil Service (RRACCS) in relation to the administrative code of 1987.
The prosecution appealed to the court to reverse its decision last October 23.
But Emano responded by pointing out that the prosecution's motion for reconsideration of a judgment of acquittal is proscribed by the doctrine of double jeopardy.
Emano argued that the court correctly found that his failure to restore Esparcia was not a willful refusal to comply with the CSC decision.
The decision said that the arguments raised by the prosecution had already been considered and passed upon by the court in the questioned decision.
The court maintains that "the non-reinstatement of Esparcia as Bookkeeer of J.R. Borja General Hospital was not tainted with bad faith tantamount to a willful refusal to implement the decision," as shown in the evidences and circumstances:
Lack of a writ of execution from the CSC; There was a pending petition for certiorari before the CA; He was a layman who depended on the legal advice of the City Legal Office: At the time the CSC reaffirmed the reinstatement of Esparcia, there was an election ban prohibiting transfer or movement of government personnel: The defeat of the accused in the mayoralty race limited his capacity to effect the reinstatement of Esparcia; and the accused has issued a standing order directing the hospital chief to allow Esparcia to return to her mother unit.
"In not immediately reinstating Esparcia, accused Emano may have erroneously understood the law, but his reliance thereon is a basis of good faith," the decision added.
Lawyer Francis Ku, Emano's legal counsel, said the Sandiganbayan's decision makes the verdict of acquittal final.
Ku received the copy of the decision yesterday, January 23.
He said there is no more appeal or remedy as a general rule but there is also a petition for certiorari which is a special kind of appeal that could be filed directly to the Supreme Court.
"It's up for the ombudsman to file or not. For me this case is finished and there is no more case against Emano," Ku said.
Published in the SunStar Cagayan de Oro newspaper on January 24, 2018.