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REPUBLIC OF THE PHILIPPINES

SANDIGANBAYAN
Quezon City

Seventh Division

PEOPLE OF THE PHILIPPINES, Grim. Case No. SB-12-CRM-0310


Plaintiff,

-versus-

ALFREDO Y.PO,
Accused.

PEOPLE OF THE PHILIPPINES, Grim. Case No SB-12-CRM-0311


Plaintiff,

-versus-

ALFREDO Y.PO,
Accused.

X X

PEOPLE OF THE PHILIPPINES, Crim. Case No. SB-12-CRM-0312


Plaintiff,

-versus-

ALFREDO Y.PO,
Accused.

X X

PEOPLE OF THE PHILIPPINES, Crim. Case No. SB-12-CRM-0313


Plaintiff,
Present:

-versus- Gesmundo,J., Chairperson


Gomez-Estoesta, J., and
ALFREDO Y.PO, Trespeses, J.
Accused.
Promulgated: u
1^, m
X f

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People V. Alfredo Y. Po |
2 Page
Criminal Cases No. SB-12-CRM-0310 to 0313
DECISION

DECISION

GOMEZ-ESTOESTA, J.:

The physical transfer ofthe Philippine Regulations Commission(PRC)


Regional Office in Baguio City became an imperative necessity when its lease
of office space from the Court of Appeals Administration Building was
terminated in the latter part of the year 2011.^ Having since occupied the
building on a grace period, an assessment ofoffice alternatives began. Barely
has the procurement process moved when the PRC, represented by then
Commissioner Teresita R. Manzala, executed a Contract of Lease^ on
November 22, 2012, with Atty. Ernesto De Los Santos, owner of a
commercial building known as CTLL Building, for a guaranteed 15-month
period commencing on October 1, 2012. Commissioner Alfredo Yap Po,
accused in these charges, signed as mere witness to the contract.
In the midst ofthe transfer, however, an allusion to "greed"^ indicative
of bribery was exposed by Atty. Ernesto De Los Santos, when he eventually
filed a Complaint-Affidavit^ against Commissioner Po before the National
Bureau ofInvestigation, resulting in the operation of entrapment proceedings
on December 4 and 5, 2012.
After the apprehension of Commissioner Po from the entrapment
proceedings,the following Informations were filed against him:

SB-12-CRM-0310 for Violation of Sec. 3(bl of R.A.3019


In December 2012, or sometime prior or subsequent thereto, in the
City of Manila, Philippines, and within the jurisdiction of this Honorable
Court, the above-named accused, a public officer being then a
Commissioner of the Professional Regulatory Commission (PRC) and as
such, together with the other members of the Commission, had the power
to enter into contracts in behalfofthe PRC,taking advantage ofhis official
position, did then and there willfully, unlawfully, and feloniously demand
and receive money from Ernesto De Los Santos,as commission in exchange
for the facilitation by the accused ofthe lease contract between Ernesto De
Los Santos and the PRC.

CONTRARY TO LAW.^

^ Exhibits "V","W","X","V", and "Z"


2 Exhibit "T"
^ See Compiaint Sheet filed by Atty. Ernesto de ios Santos marked as Exhibit "PP"
Exhibit "QQ"
® Records, Voi. 1, pp. 1-2

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People V. Alfredo Y. Po |
3 Page
Criminal Cases No. SB-12-CRM-0310 to 0313
DECISION

SB-12-CRM-0311 for Violation of Sec. 7(d)of R.A.6713


In December 2012, or sometime prior or subsequent thereto, in the
City of Manila, Philippines, and within the jurisdiction of this Honorable
Court, the above-named accused, a public officer being then a
Commissioner ofthe Professional Regulatory Commission(PRC),while in
the performance of his official functions, did then and there willfully,
unlawfully, and feloniously solicit and accept money as commission from
Ernesto De Los Santos in exchange for the facilitation by the accused ofthe
lease contract between Ernesto De Los Santos and the PRC.

CONTRARY TO LAW.^

SB-12-CRM--0312 for Violation of Articles 293 and 294(5) of the


Revised Penal Code

In December 2012, or sometime prior or subsequent thereto, in the


City of Manila, Philippines, and within the jurisdiction of this Honorable
Court, the above-named accused, a public officer being then a
Commissioner of the Professional Regulatory Commission (PRC), taking
advantage of his official position, by means ofintimidation and with intent
to gain, did then and there willfully, unlawfully, and feloniously demand,
take and extort from Ernesto De Los Santos, the amount of Four Hundred
Seventy Eight Thousand Pesos (P478,000.00) as commission for the
facilitation by the accused of the lease contract between PRC and Ernesto
De Los Santos to the prejudice ofthe latter.
CONTRARY TO LAW.^

SB-12-CRM-0313 for Violation of Article 210 of the Revised Penal


Code

In December 2012, or sometime prior or subsequent thereto, in the


City of Manila, Philippines, and within the jurisdiction of this Honorable
Court, the above-named accused, a public officer being then a
Commissioner ofthe Professional Regulatory Commission(PRC),while in
the performance of his official functions, did then and there willfully,
unlawfully, and feloniously demand and receive money in the sum of Four
Hundred Seventy Eight Thousand Pesos (P478,000.00) from Ernesto De
Los Santos, in consideration of the facilitation by the accused as PRC
Commissioner ofthe lease contract between Ernesto De Los Santos and the
PRC.

CONTRARY TO LAW.«

Hold Departure Orders were issued against Commissioner Po on


December 14,2012.^ Earlier, he posted cash baiP® for his provisional liberty
on December 12,2012. Meantime, he filed an Omnibus Motion*^ seeking the

® Folder attached to Vol. 1 of Records


'Ibid.
^Ibid
® Id, pp. 53-56
pp. 62-64
11
Id., pp. 57-60
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People V. Alfredo Y. Po |
4 Page
Criminal Cases No. SB-12-CRM-0310 to 0313
DECISION

reinvestigation of Criminal Case Nos. SB-12-CRM-0310, 0311, and 0313


and/or a reconsideration of the Inquest Resolution pertaining thereto; the
conduct of a preliminary investigation in Criminal Case No. SB-12-CRM-
0312; and asked to be furnished a copy of the recording of the alleged raid
conducted by the NBI on December 5, 2012. In his Motion, Commissioner
Po alleged that he was entitled to a re-investigation for three ofthe four cases
as the video footage ofthe money exchange was never shown to him; and that
he has a right to move for a preliminary investigation ofthe case for extortion,
as he was never apprised thereof. In its Resolution dated March 11, 2013,^^
this Court directed the preliminary investigation / re-investigation of all four
cases, during which the prosecution was given the discretion on whether to
furnish Commissioner Po with a copy of the videotape. Commissioner Po
was eventually given copies ofthe video footages.
On July 8, 2013, after conducting preliminary investigation / re-
investigation per directive of this Court, ^e Office of the Ombudsman
rendered a Resolution^^ affirming its finding ofprobable cause for all charges
filed against Commissioner Po.
When arraigned. Commissioner Po pleaded not guilty to these
charges. During pre-trial,'^ the parties entered into the following stipulation
offacts and defined the following issues:

1. STIPULATION OF FACTS

From the proposals for stipulation made by the accused, the


prosecution stipulated on the following facts:
• The accused, as the PRC Commissioner in charge of Physical
Infrastructure and Development, visited the CTLL Building
sometime in 2011.

• On November 12, 2012, a contract of lease was concluded


between De los Santos and the PRC through Chairperson
Manzala.

11. ISSUES

A. As proposed by the prosecution

• Whether or not accused Po is liable for the offenses charged.


B. As proposed by the accused:
• Whether or not the.accused solicited and accepted bribe money
from De Los Santos for which he should be convicted for each
ofthe four(4)offenses alleged in the Informations.
• Whether or not the entrapment operation conducted by the NBl-
Counter Terrorism Division (NBl-CTD) and the video footage

"/d, pp. 145-148


pp. 205-218
"/d, pp.428-429
^ Pre-Trial Order dated June 16,2014, Records, Vol. 3, pp. 60-72

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People V. Alfredo Y. Po |
5 Page
Criminal Cases No. SB-12-CRM-0310 to 0313
DECISION

that is submitted on the occasion thereof show commission by


the accused ofthe offenses alleged in the Informations.

Trial ensued.

EVIDENCE FOR THE PROSECUTION

The following testified for the Prosecution:


1. Members of the Bids and Awards Committee (BAG) and the
BAG Secretariat ofthe Professional Regulation Commission(PRC),namely:

1(a). Mei-Lin A. Anit ["Anit"], who was the Executive Assistant of


PRC Commissioner Jennifer Jardin-Manalili since 2011 and a member ofthe
BAG Secretariat from 2011 to 2012.'^ As Executive Assistant, she reviewed
documents to be signed by Commissioner Manalili for legal compliance, and
provided recommendations based on consultations with concerned
officials/employees from where the documents originated. As member ofthe
BAG Secretariat, she provided technical assistance to BAG members, but did
not participate in the BAG's decision-making process.'^

1(b). Sarah Edna A. Tabije ["Tabije"], who was the Officer-in-


Gharge (OIG) of the Financial and Administrative Services (OFAS) of the
PRC since 2011^^ and a member and, subsequently, the Chairperson of the
BAG.'^ As OIG ofthe OFAS,she supervised its 7 divisions, i.e., Accoimting,
Budget,Gash and Disbursing,Administrative,Human Resource,Property and
Supplies, and Records Divisions; while as Chairperson of the BAG, she
presided over the BAG's activities and meetings, and made sure that
procurement laws were complied with.^^

1(c). Alfonso D. Viloria ["Viloria"], who, as Secretary of the Bids


and Awards Gommittee,^^ was tasked with ensuring that the BAG Secretariat
provides administrative support to the BAG, commimicating with end-users
and other government agencies, organizing necessary arrangements for BAG
meetings and conferences, preparing minutes and resolutions of the BAG,
taking custody of procurement documents and records, posting

Office Order No.88 dated March 8,2012, Exhibit "U"


"Judicial Affidavit of Mei-Lin Anit dated February 21,2014,Records, Vol. 2, pp.313-366,Q&A Nos.1-5;TSN
dated June 16, 2014, p. 11
Exhibit "A'"'
Exhibits "B^" and "U"
^"Judicial Affidavit of Sarah Edna Tabije, Records, Vol. 2, pp. 256-312, Q&A Nos. 1-9
Exhibit "U"

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People V. Alfredo Y. Po . 61 P a g e
Criminal Cases No. SB-12-CRM-0310 to 0313
DECISION

advertisements to PHILGEPS, and assisting in, and monitoring procurement


activities.^^

1(d). Aurora H. Mendoza ["Mendoza"], who was the Officer-in-


charge of the Records Management Division and a member of the Bids and
Awards Committee^^ in 2012, and as such was involved in the PRC's
procurement processes.^"^
1(e). Emma T.Francisco,another BAG member,but whose testimony
was dispensed with in view of the stipulation that it would merely be
corroborative ofthe testimony of Aurora Mendoza.^^
In gist, the officers / memibers of the BAG and its Secretariat testified
that among the physical infi-astructure projects undertaken by the BAG^^ in
2012 was the lease of the PRC's Regional Office in Baguio City. The PRC
was unable to renew its lease with the Court of Appeals in Baguio City
because ofissues with its structural integrity. The PRC had to negotiate a new
one, preferably with a publicly-owned office space or venue from other
government agencies, pursuant to the GPPB Implementing Guidelines for
Lease of Privately-owned Real Estate and Venue.^^ In this case, it was the
first time the BAG would handle a procurement on lease of office space and
there were no documents / history it may refer to, hence the need to review
the documents for inspection of the prospective sites for the PRC Baguio
Regional Office.^®
While the DOLE Baguio City Regional Office initially offered its office
space to the PRC for firee, it had limited space, which was only 244 sq.m.,
representing one-third of the office space occupied in the Court of Appeals
Building. This led Regional Director Teofilo Gaius M. Sison, Jr. to
recommend instead the lease ofa privately-owned space.^^ A shortlist,^® cost-
benefit analysis^' and market analysis^^ were thus prepared for the lease, and
GTLL Building was recommended as the most suitable location for the PRC's
operations. These documents,among others,^^ were turned over to the newly-

^Judicial Affidavit of Alfonso Viloria dated March 3,2014, Records, Vol. 2, pp. 367-415
23 Exhibit "U"
2'* Judicial Affidavit of Aurora Mendoza dated February 11, 2014, Records, Vol. 2, pp. 155-195, Q&A Nos. 1-
7
23 Order dated June 30,2014,Records, Vol. 3, p. 91
2® BAG Activities(for the period of March 2012 to December 2012), Exhibit C
22 Judicial Affidavit of Mel-LIn Anif, Q&A Nos. 6,7,9,12;See Appendix 7 of the Revised Implementing Rules
and Regulations of R.A. 9184
2® Judicial Affidavit of Sarah Edna Tablje, Q&A No. 26;Judicial Affldavit.of Alfonso Vlloria, Q&A No. 14
29 Exhibit "DO";Q&A Nos. 15-16
3° Exhibit "CC"
31 Exhibit "Z"
32 Exhibit "EE"
33 Exhibits "X","W","Y","Z","AA","BB","CC","DO","EE","FF

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People V. Alfredo Y. Po |
7 Page
Criminal Cases No. SB-12-CRM-0310 to 0313
DECISION

created by a route slip^^ handwritten by Chairperson Manzala^^


approving the transfer ofthe PRC Baguio Regional Office to another site.^^
A meeting was called by the BAC to review these documents, and to
set the first ocular inspection of the properties.^^ During said meeting, BAC
Chairperson Sarah Edna Tabije broached the issuance of Office Order No.
2012-98 creating a Physical Infi*astructure and Building Advisory Committee
(PIBAC) and Delineation of its Functions, wherein Commissioner Po was
designated as its Chairman.'^® Anit observed that accused Po's functions
thereunder seemed to overlap with the functions ofthe BAC under the Revised
IRR ofR.A. 9184, particularly the preparation of Terms ofReference and the
recommendation of approval ofinfi'astructure projects.^^
Commissioner Po was also designated Oversight Commissioner for
Physical Infrastructure Development."^^ His tasks as such included overseeing
the physical conditions ofbuildings proposed for lease by the Regional Office,
reporting issues to the Chairperson, making decisions when policy has already
been established, recommendation and indorsement of lease contracts, and
ordering a stop payment in cases of violation of the lease contract."^^ In his
capacity as Oversight Commissioner for Physical Infi'astructure Development
and Chairman of the PIBAC, Commissioner Po travelled to Baguio City to
conduct his own ocular inspection,"^ particularly ofthe CTLL Building."^^
Meanwhile,the Office ofCommissioner Manalili received a Resolution
choosing the CTLL Building as the most suitable location for PRC's Regional
Office in Baguio, with an attached Letter of Intent"*^ signed by Chairman
Manzala addressed to Atty. Ernesto De Los Santos. The Letter ofIntent read:
Dear Atty. Delos Santos:

The Commission intends to lease your property located at the


Second Floor of CTTL (sic) Building, Kisad, Baguio City consisting of
1,014 square meters at P400.00 per square meter,exclusive of Value Added
Tax(VAT).

We need to transfer to another location because the Court ofAppeals


now needs to use the office space being occupied by the PRC Baguio
Regional Office.

Exhibit "U"
Exhibit "FF"
Judicial Affidavit of Mei-Lin Anit, Q&A Nos. 18-31
"Judicial Affidavit of Sarah Edna Tabije, Q&A Nos. 17-22
"Id, Q&A Nos. 24-25; BAC Agenda for June 25, 2012, Exhibit "D""
"Office Order No. 2012-307,July 10, 2012, Exhibit"GG"
Exhibit "H"
Judicial Affidavit of Mei-Lin Anit, Q&A Nos.37-38
Office Order No. 2011-122 dated April 12,2011, Exhibit "G"
Judicial Affidavit of Mei-Lin Anit, Q&A Nos. 70,74,75
^Travel Order Nos. 2011-120 and 2011-270, Exhibits "G^' and "H'"'
Judicial Affidavit of Mei-Lin Anit, Q&A No. 70
^ Exhibit "ZZZ" f

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People V. Alfredo Y. Po |
8 Page
Criminal Cases No. SB-12-CRM-0310 to 0313
DECISION

Commissioner Manalili interposed her written opposition thereto,


observing that"as compared to other PRC regional offices, particularly Davao
and Cebu which are also highly urbanized cities, the amount of proposed
rental for Baguio is way above the rates PRC is currently paying for the PRC-
Davao and PRC-Cebu regional offices." The Letter of Intent, however, was
signed even before the BAC could start with the preliminary activities in the
procurement ofthe lease."^^
As the initial ocular inspection did not proceed, the BAC re-scheduled
and proceeded with the ocular inspection on July 27,2012.^^^ Meanwhile,in a
Memorandum dated July 10, 2012,^® Commissioner Po conveyed his
objection to the BAC's ocular inspection ofprospective buildings for lease of
the PRC's Baguio Office, stating that:
Anent thereto, may I respectflilly manifest for the record that I maintain my
continuing objection to the conduct of subject inspection for the lack of
technical knowledge and skill by the members of the BAC and its
Secretariat to properly evaluate and make appropriate recommendation for
the proposed new office building ofPRC Baguio Regional Office.
Consequently, the necessity ofinvolving a substantial number of members
ofthe BAC and its Secretariat composing the team that would be conducting
the adverted ocular inspection raises the question of its necessity and
practicality considering that the same would involved (sic) expense and
payment of per diems. x x x

CommissionerPo may not have wanted BAC to handle projects relative


to physical infrastructure since he was the Oversight Commissioner for
Physical Infrastructure Development and as Chairman ofthe PIBAC.^'
Guided by the following criteria: (a) location and site condition,(b)
neighbourhood data,(c) structural condition, and (d) services and facilities,
the BAC proceeded to conduct ocular inspection on the following proposed
sites despite the opposition of Commissioner Po: MBP Building, DBP
Building, Junifer Building, DOLE-CAR Building, Strawberry Valley Hotel,
CTLL Building,Summer Place Hotel,and the PRC Satellite Office in Resales,
Pangasinan.^^ After the ocular inspection, the BAC Secretary proceeded to
prepare the post-report^^ with the attached Comparative Analysis of the
Proposed Building for the PRC Baguio Transfer.^'* However, before Anit
could even prepare the bidding documents, she learned that the PRC Baguio
Regional Office had already transferred to CTLL Building, sometime in July

Exhibit "F'"'; Judicial Affidavit of Mei-Lin Anit, Q&A Nos.43-46


^Judicial Affidavit of Aurora Mendoza, Q&A No. 26
Travel Order No. 2012-353 dated July 27,2012, Exhibit "JJ"
5° Exhibit"HH"
"Judicial Affidavit of Sarah Edna Tabije, Q&A Nos. 41,43
"Id., Q&A Nos. 33-34; Judicial Alfonso Viloria, Q&A Nos. 25-26
S3 Exhibit "KK"
s" Exhibit "LL"; Judicial Affidavit of Sarah Edna Tabije, Q&A Nos. 33-38; Judicial Affidavit of Alfonso Viloria,
Q&A Nos. 26-40

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People V. Alfredo Y. Po |
9 Page
Criminal Cases No. SB-12-CRM-0310 to 0313
DECISION

IQllP Thus, she deemed it best to no longer prepare the pre-procurement


documents.^^ Tabije confirmed that the PRC Baguio Office has indeed
transferred to CTLL Building upon reading a letter from Director Sison to
Commissioner Po regarding the deployment of two security guards to the
CTLL Building to ensure 24-hour security over the premises. Tabije referred
the matter to Ms. Jane Seveses, Chief ofthe Budget Office, who replied that
overtime pay to the security guards may be necessary, subject to the authority
granted by the Regional Director concemed.^^ Tabije also decided not to
proceed with the procurement activities relative to the lease of office space
for the PRC Baguio Regional Office.^^
These witnesses testified that neither the Lease Contract^^ ofthe CTLL
Building with Atty. De Los Santos nor any documents relative thereto passed
through or were reviewed by BAC.^® BAC Chairperson Tabije countersigned
the lease contract, but only as OIC of the OFAS, and not in her capacity as
Chairperson ofthe BAC,as she did not intend to give her imprimatur thereto
as part ofany BAC activity.^' The BAC did not issue any Resolution relative
to the lease ofoffice space for the PRC Baguio Regional Office; in fact, it had
only taken the initial steps, i.e., up to ocular inspection, in securing such
lease.^^

On cross examination, the BAC members confirmed that they


proceeded with the ocular inspection on July 27, 2012 notwithstanding the
opposition of Commissioner Po,^^ but also acknowledged that none of them
had an engineering or architecture degree.^"^ There was no action by the PRC
on the opposition of Commissioner Po.^^ Tabije conceded that there was an
urgent need to move out of the Court of Appeals Building,^^ and that there
was adequate basis for a decision to have been made in respect to the CTLL
Building, which was suitable for the PRC's purposes.^^ She also conceded
that none of the documents attached to her Judicial Affidavit confirmed that
Commissioner Po was involved in the approval of the lease of the CTLL
building and the transfer thereto.^^ Purser, nothing in the Office Orders
designating Commissioner Po as in-charge of Physical Infrastructure

Exhibits"MM" and "E*", Judicial Affidavit of Alfonso Viloria, Q&A No.46,Judicial Affidavit of Sarah Edna
Tabije, Q&A No.52
Judicial Affidavit of Mei-Lin Anit, Q&A Nos. 52-59; TSN dated June 16, 2014, p. 37
"Exhibit""MM",Judicial Affidavit of Sarah Edna Tabije, Q&A Nos.54-63
Judicial Affidavit of Sarah Edna Tabije, Q&A No.69
Exhibit "T"
Judicial Affidiavit of Mei-Lin Anit, Q&A No.67,Judicial Affidavit of Sarah Edna Tabije, Q&A No.51
Judicial Affidavit of Sarah Edna Tabije, Q&A Nos.68,70
Judicial Affidavit of Alfonso Viloria, Q&A Nos. 47,50
TSN dated June 16, 2014, p. 31
"TSN dated June 17, 2014, p. 19
^ Id., p. 29
^Id., p. 29, Exhibit "X"
®7/d„p.28
®®/d.,p.33
Id., pp. 47-48
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People V. Alfredo Y. Po 10
| Page
Criminal Cases No. SB-12-CRM-0310 to 0313
DECISION

Development and Chairperson ofthe PIBAC gave him the authority to order
a stop-payment on leases.^^

2. Tricia D. Camara ["Camara"] was the Officer-in-Charge /


Head ofthe Accounting Division, wherein she was tasked with certifying cash
and fund availability and the completeness of supporting documents to
disbursement vouchers, keeping these disbursement vouchers and their
supporting documents, and preparing financial reports for the PRC7^
Camara described the process by which monetary obligations were
settled by the PRC. She certified the availability offunds for the PRC's lease
ofthe CTLL Building. After the lease contract was signed by the parties and
docketed by the Records and Management Division, the Budget Division
prepared the Obligation Request,'^ which was then signed by the QIC ofthe
OFAS, certifying as to the necessity and lawfulness of the allotment and the
validity of its supporting documents. She then signed the Obligation Request
and Disbursement Vouchers^^ and forwarded them to Chairperson Manzala
for the approval of payment,^"^ which she did.^^ Check Nos. 2154836,^^
2154837,^^ and 2157856,^^ all in the amount ofP785,600.00, were thereafter
prepared and released by the cash-disbursing section.^^ Camara processed the
payment even without the documents she would have typically considered,
such as the BAC Resolution, Notice of Award and Notice to Proceed, as the
usual BAC procedure had not been observed and the PRC had already
transferred to the CTLL Building even prior to the approval of the Lease
Agreement, and she had no other recourse but to process the payment for the
lease.^°

Commissioner Po introduced Atty. De Los Santos to Camara and


referred him to her for follow-ups on the lease payments on the CTLL
Building. On several occasions, even before the lease contract was approved,
Atty. De Los Santos followed up on such payments. She informed him
through text messages when the payments were ready.
On cross examination, she confirmed that the National Government
Accounting System(NGAS), did not provide for the signing ofthe checks as
a requirement for disbursement,^^ and that Commissioner Po did not sign any
™ TSN dated June 16, 2014, p. 29
'^Judicial Affidavit of Tricia Camara dated February 10,2014, Records, Vol. 2, pp. 138-154, Q&A Nos. 1-4
^ Exhibit "SSS"
Exhibits "L","N", and "R"
Under Office Order No. 11-33 dated January 20, 2011 (Exhibit "I"), the following were authorized to
approve payments: Chairperson Teresita R. Manzala, Commissioners Jennifer Jardln-Manalill and Alfredo V.
Po, and Asst. Comm. Arlstogerson T. Gesmundo
TSN dated July 1, 2014, pp. 18-19
Exhibit "K"
Exhibit"M"
^8 Exhibit"Q"
^ Judicial Affidavit of Tricia Camara, Q&A Nos. 5-26; TSN dated July 1, 2014, p. 20
80/d., Q&A No. 32
81 Id., Q&A Nos. 27-29
82 TSN dated July 1,2014, p. 16

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People V. Alfredo Y. Po 11 I P a g e
Criminal Cases No. SB-12-CRM-0310 to 0313
DECISION

ofthe disbursement vouchers necessary for the payments of the said checks
for the lease ofthe CTLL Building; instead,they were signed by Chairperson
Manzala.®^

3. Josephine R.Bonto ["Bonto"] was the Head ofthe Disbursing


Section ofthe Cash Division ofthe PRC. She testified that on November 23,
2012, Ms. Gloria Asinas, upon instruction of Commissioner Po, went to their
office to collect the checks payable to Atty. Ernesto De Los Santos. Check
Nos. 2154836^'^ and 2154837^^ payable to Atty. De Los Santos, under
Disbursement Voucher Nos. 12-11-4058^^ and 12-11-4059®' and both in the
amount of P785,600.00, were released to her after she signed in the
disbursement logbook,®® even without first confirming with Commissioner Po
the release ofthe check to Bonto,and in the absence ofan authorization letter
from him.®9

Soon thereafter, Atty. De Los Santos arrived at their office to claim the
checks payable to him, but was told that payment had already been released
to Commissioner Po's staff. Gloria Asinas then came to fetch Atty. De Los
Santos and ushered him to Commissioner Po's office. The next day, a staff
of Commissioner Po returned Disbursement Voucher Nos. 12-11-4058^® and
12-11-4059^^ with their corresponding official receipts.^^

4. Gloria L. Asinas ["Asinas"], a member of the staff of


Commissioner Po, testified that on November 23, 2012, she received
instructions from Commissioner Po to collect two checks payable to Atty. De
Los Santos. Thus,she went to the Disbursing Section ofthe Cash Division of
the PRC and approached its Head, Josephine Bonto. After signing the
disbursing logbook,^^ she claimed two disbursement vouchers^"* with their
corresponding checks^^ in the name of Atty. De Los Santos, both in the
amount ofP785,600.00. She turned over these checks to Commissioner Po.
At 3:00 p.m. to 4:00 p.m. later that day, Edgar del Castillo from Accounting
informed her that Atty. De Los Santos was in the Disbursing Section to get
his checks, but was informed that his checks were with Commissioner Po.

pp. 17-20
Exhibit "K"
Exhibit"M"
8® Exhibit "L"
87 Exhibit "N"
88 Exhibit "J"; Judicial Affidavit of Josephine Bonto dated January 13, 2014, Records, Vol. 2, pp.84-99, Q&A
Nos. 1-31
88 TSN dated August 4,2014, pp. 19-20, 22
80 Exhibit "L"
81 Exhibit"N"
87 Exhibits "0" and "P"; Judicial Affidavit of Josephine Bonto, Q&A Nos. 33-39
88 Exhibit "J"
84Exhibits'!" and "N"
88 Exhibits "K" and "M"

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People V. Alfredo Y. Po 12
| Page
Criminal Cases No. SB-12-CRM-0310 to 0313
DECISION

She proceeded there to escort Atty. De Los Santos to Commissioner Po's


office, where Commissioner Po gave Atty. De Los Santos the two checks.^^
On December 4, 2012, Atty. De Los Santos arrived with his wife at
their office looking for Commissioner Po,who was then not around. Atty. De
Los Santos and Commissioner Po talked over the phone, after which
Commissioner Po instructed Asinas to receive something fi*om Atty. De Los
Santos. It was a small brown envelope which she received without issuing an
acknowledgment receipt. The next day, a group of men in civilian clothes
came to their office, and she later learned that the NBI had conducted an
entrapment operation therein.^^

5. Elcid Q. Dela Rosa ["SI Dela Rosa"], Special Investigator of


the NBI Counter Terrorism Division(CTD)since November 2012,was tasked
as such to investigate crimes, serve warrants of arrest and search warrants,
conduct entrapment operations, and gather evidence in connection with
crimes being investigated.^^
SI Dela Rosa related that on December 3, 2014, Atty. Ernesto De Los
Santos filed a complaint^^ against Commissioner Po with the NBI for violation
of the Anti-Graft and Corrupt Practices Act. Allegedly, Commissioner Po
demanded money fi*om Atty. De Los Santos in connection with the PRC's
lease of complainant's building in Baguio City, and otherwise threatened to
terminate the lease contract or delay rental payments. Though not related to
terrorism, the complaint was referred to the CTD by then NBI Director
Nonatus Cesar R. Rojas who had full trust and confidence in the Chief ofthe
CTD. With the approval ofDeputy Director for Intelligence Services(DDIS)
Ruel Lasala,^^^ the CTD handled and investigated the case, and SI Dela Rosa
was designated team leader.
During a conference with Atty. De Los Santos, the latter received a call
supposedly firom Commissioner Po on speaker phone demanding the delivery
of P394,000.00 to his office in PRC on December 4, 2012. Atty. De Los
Santos was asked to produce ten P500 bills, which were marked and dusted
with fluorescent powder by the Forensic Chemistry Division, as follows:
Serial No. Exhibit
TS347688 "SS"
ZM549703 "SS-1"
ZX557451 "SS-2"
JQ499695 "SS-3"

Judicial Affidavit of Gloria Asinas dated January 20,2014,Records, Vol. 2, pp. 100-115, Q&A Nos. 1-27
®^/d.,Q&ANos. 29-42
Judicial Affidavit of Eicid dela Rosa dated March 6,2014, Records, Vol. 2, pp. 416-477, Q&A Nos. 1-6
Complaint sheet dated December 3, 2012, Exhibit "PP"; Complaint-affidavit dated December 3, 2012,
Exhibit"QQ" » '
Routing Slip dated December 4, 2012, Exhibit "NN"; Disposition Form from DDIS dated December 4,
2012, Exhibit "00"
Judicial Affidavit of Elcid dela Rosa, Q&A Nos. 7-2S
Id., Q&A No. 27, TSN dated September 1, 2014, pp. 10-11

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People V. Alfredo Y. Po 13
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Criminal Cases No. SB-12-CRM-0310 to 0313
DECISION

KZ128240 "SS-4"
AD356519 "SS-5"
JD646828 "SS-6"
SW646817 "SS-7"
CZ905976 "SS-8"
Y477057 "SS-9"

After the marking and dusting ofthe P500 bills,the team,through Chief
Raul Manguera, requested for authority to operate^®^ jfrom DDIS, which was
approved. Atty. De Los Santos was eventually fitted with a hidden camera
tucked in his clutch bag and was instructed to speed-dial SI Dela Rosa's
cellphone number once the money has been handed to Commissioner Po,
The December 4, 2012 entrapment operation, however, was aborted
because Commissioner Po was not around.*®^ A smaller amount of money
was handed to his secretary, and entrapment was scheduled anew for the next
day,December 5. Again, Atty. De Los Santos was fitted with the spy camera
in his clutch bag and was told to speed-dial SI Dela Rosa's phone. SI Dela
Rosa, together with Sis Roble and Aperio, stayed in the ground floor of the
PRC, while the rest of the team stayed outside the PRC premises. Upon
receipt of Atty. De Los Santos' call, SI Dela Rosa and SI Roble rushed to the
office of Commissioner Po. They introduced themselves as NBI Operatives
and looked for the marked money but did not find it, so they asked Atty. De
Los Santos where the money was, and were told that the money was left on
top of Commissioner Po's table. Having been locked out of Commissioner
Po's room,they were constrained to force the door open until somebody from
inside the room opened it. There, they saw Commissioner Po calmly sitting
in his executive chair fronting his table. He did not show panic. He did not
shout at them. Neither did he tell them to leave. He did not touch the money
or attempt to hide or push it away.^®^ He was then apprised of his
constitutional rights and afterwards arrested, but was not handcuffed so as not
to "shame" him.^®^ Photographs were taken inside and outside of
Commissioner Po's office.^®®

Commissioner Po was thereafter brought to the NBI for photographing,


fingerprinting, and booking; and then to the Forensic Chemistry Division
for ultraviolet light examination,^ which yielded negative results.^ The
Operative Team executed a Joint-Affidavit of Arrest,^ and indorsed all
documents relative to the entrapment operation to the Department of

Exhibit "TT"
Judicial Affidavit of Elcid dela Rosa, Q&A Nos. 38-43
Footage is contained in a DVD, Exhibit "UU"
TSN dated September 1, 2014, pp. 28-30
p43
Exhibits "GGG",et seq.. Judicial Affidavit of Elcid dela Rosa, Q&A Nos.44-58
Exhibits "DDD","YY", and "ZZ"
"0 Exhibit "EEE"
Exhibit "FFF"
"2 Exhibit "XX"

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People V. Alfredo Y. Po 14
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Criminal Cases No. SB-12-CRM-0310 to 0313
DECISION

Justice,^ where inquest proceedings were conducted on Commissioner Po.^


The team also examined the footage from the hidden camera, which was
copied to a compact disc^ on the same day.^
On cross examination, SI Dela Rosa conceded that it was not he but SI
Roble who transferred the footage taken by the hidden camera to a CD,and
that such hidden camera used by Atty. De Los Santos was no longer in the
possession ofthe NBI.^ Likewise,the money used during the operations on
December 5, 2012 not dusted with fluorescent powder, amounting to
P389,000.00, was no longer in their possession.^ His knowledge of the
conveyance of money by Atty. De Los Santos was based only on the video
footages, as he did not personally witness nor participate in such
conveyance.'
While the Judicial Affidavits ofNBI Special Investigator III Geovel M.
Aperio and NBI Special Investigator III Edwin J. Roble were submitted to
corroborate the testimony of SI Dela Rosa, the same were dispensed with in
view of the stipulation made by Atty. Philip Sigfrid Fortun, counsel of
Commissioner Po, that the said witnesses would be able to identify their
respective Judicial Affidavits, their signatures appearing thereon, and the
existence ofthe documents attached thereto.'^®

6. Crispino L. Lacayanga, Jr. ["Lacayanga"] was a security


guard of ODIN Security Agency assigned at the second floor of the PRC oii
December 4 and 5,2012. This was where the office ofCommissioner Po was
located.'^'

On December 4, 2012, *Ma'am Glo," a member of the staff of


Commissioner Po,advised him that Commissioner Po was expecting a visitor,
Atty. Ernesto De Los Santos. He arrived at 3:27 p.m., and was escorted by
Lacayanga to the office of Commissioner Po. He left at around 3:40 p.m.'^^
On December 5,2012,at around 4:10 p.m., Atty. De Los Santos arrived again,
this time without prior advice, and proceeded to the office ofCommissioner
Po. At around 4:18 p.m., a group of three persons, whom he later learned
were NBI agents, charged into Commissioner Po's office without seeking
permission even as he tried to stop them. Thus, he sought assistance from his
superior officer Oquias, who instructed him to close the glass door in the

Letter dated December 6,2012, Exhibit "III"


Minutes of Inquest dated December 6,2012, Exhibit "JJJ"
"5 Exhibit"WW"
Judicial Affidavit of Elcid dela Rosa, Q&A Nos. 60-87
^"TSN dated September 1, 2014, pp. 12,32
p.2S
Id., p. 16
"0 Order dated September 1, 2014, Records, Vol. 3, p. 116
Judicial Affidavit of Crispino Lacayanga dated February 7, 2014, Records, Vol. 2, pp. 237-255, Q&A Nos.
1-7
Security Logbook for December 4,2012, Exhibit "KKK"
TSN dated October 7, 2014, p. 21

1
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People V. Alfredo Y. Po 15
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Criminal Cases No. SB-12-CRM-0310 to 0313
DECISION

entrance of the VIP Offices and to cordon off the area. Thereafter, he saw
Commissioner Po exit his office together with the NBI Agents.

7. Jovito P. Del Rosario ["Del Rosario"],Photographer III ofthe


Photography and Publication Division of the NBI for 26 years, ,was tasked
with providing technical assistance, i.e., taking photographs of entrapment
operations, surveillances, crime scene operations, retrieval operations,
arrested persons, and other pieces of evidence that could be used in the
investigation of a case,^^^ to the NBI.
Del Rosario recalled that on December 5, 2012, the Chief of the
Photography and Publication Division instructed him to proceed to the CTD
to accompany them in an entrapment operation, which he heeded. The NBI
Operatives proceeded to the PRC, where some agents entered, while the
others, including him, stayed outside. He followed the agents when they
proceeded to the second floor ofthe main building, where he entered the room
of one whom he later came to know as Commissioner Po, the target of the
investigation; and, as instructed, took photographs of the PRC Building,
Commissioner Po himself, the bundles of money on top of the table, the
confrontation between Commissioner Po and the NBI agents, and
Commissioner Po's arrest. After Commissioner Po was brought to the NBI,
SI Dela Rosa requested for the exposed film used in the entrapment operation,
which was developed in their office, but printed^ in Sta. Mesa, Manila as
they had ran out ofphotographic paper. On cross-examination, del Rosario
confirmed that to his recollection. Commissioner Po was not berating anyone
while he was in his office taking pictures.
8. Commissioner Po stipulated on the testimony of prospective
witness Caroline D. Caras,"® as contained in her Judicial Affidavit, and the
authenticity of the documents attached to her Judicial Affidavit."® Her
Judicial Affidavit alleged that she was a Service Officer ofBDO on November
28, 2012, when Atty. De Los Santos, a client of another branch, applied for
and purchased a Manager's Check in favor of one Alfredo Y. Po for the
amount of P349,000.00.^^' She co-signed Manager's Check No. 0001816
dated November 28, 2012^^^ issued to Atty. De Los Santos. The following
day, Atty. De Los Santos returned to their branch to request for the
cancellation of such Manager's Check, which request was approved.^^^ In

Security Logbook for December 5,2012, Exhibit "ILL"; Judicial Affidavit of Crispino Lacayanga, Q&A Nos.
8-26
Judicial Affidavit of Jovito del Rosario dated March 14, 2014, Records, Vol. 2, pp. 551-558, Q&A Nos. 1-6
Photographs, Exhibits "GGG", etseq.
"'Judicial Affidavit of Jovito del Rosario, Q&A Nos. 7-20
TSN dated October 8, 2014, pp. 22-23
Records, Vol. 2, pp. 116-124
"0 Exhibits "AAA","BBB",and "CCC"
Application for Manager's Check, Exhibit "AAA"
Exhibit "BBB"
"3 Exhibit "CCC"

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People V. Alfredo Y. Po 16
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Criminal Cases No. SB-12-CRM-0310 to 0313
DECISION

view of the stipulation made by the accused, the Prosecution no longer


presented Caras.""*
9. Commissioner Po also stipulated on the testimony of Atty.
Judith Luis on the fact that she assisted Atty. De Los Santos in preparing his
judicial affidavit. The Prosecution thus dispensed with the presentation of
both Atty. Luis and Atty. De Los Santos as witnesses.^^^
Despite such waiver, and upon motion, the Prosecution was afforded
several opportunities to present Atty. De Los Santos. Later, despite the
hearings scheduled on February 23, 2012, February 25, 2012, and April 20,
2015, the Prosecution failed to present Atty. De Los Santos as witness,
alluding to a number of reasons, among which was the inability of the
Prosecution to get in touch with him.^^^
The Prosecution thereafter filed its Formal Offer of Documentary
Exhibits, i.e., Exhibits "A" to In a Resolution dated August 7,
2015,^^^ this Court admitted the Prosecution's exhibits in the tenor that they
were stipulated upon by the parties or testified on by the witnesses, except
Exhibits "C","D","E","W","HHH","MMM","NNN","XXX","YYY",
and "L"^" for lack of authentication; Exhibits "HH","GGG-l", and "J"*" for
not having been submitted to the Court; and Exhibit "QQQ", a judicial
affidavit, which was not presented to the Court. Upon Partial Motion [sic]
for Reconsideration^ by the Prosecution, this Court admitted Exhibits C ,
"D","E","MMM","NNN","XXX","YYY","HHH","W","L4","HH",
and "GGG-l",thus leaving excluded only Exhibits"Q^" and
Thereafter, Commissioner Po filed a Motionfor Leave tofile Demurrer
to Evidence,^ alleging that Prosecution evidence was insufficient to prove
the charges against him, particularly:(a) private complainant did not testify,
making his affidavit and the video ofthe alleged entrapment hearsay;(b)the
NBI Agents had no personal knowledge ofthe offenses allegedly committed
by the accused;(c)there was no evidence to prove that accused was caught in
flagrantedelicto during the alleged entrapment operation ofthe NBI;(d)none
ofthe prosecution's witnesses testified on the alleged demand and receipt by
Commissioner Po ofthe money; and(e)the charges against the accused were
not supported by evidence. In a Resolution dated October 28, 2015,^^^ this
Court denied Commissioner Po's Motion. His motion for reconsideration^"^^
was likewise denied.

134 Order dated October 8,2014, Records, Vol. 3, p. 124


Records, Vol. 3, p. 134
Manifestation and Motion dated December 3,2014,Id., pp. 138-140; Orders dated December 10,2014,
Id., p. 142; February 23, 2015,Id., p. 154-A; February 25, 2015,Id., p. 155-A; April 20, 2015, Id., p. 186
"7/d., pp. 193-351
"®/d.,p.380
Id., pp. 395-398
Resolution dated September 3, 2015,Id., pp. 438-439
Records, Vol. 3, pp. 444-446, attached Demurrer to Evidence, Id., pp.447-515
"7 Records, Vol. 4, pp, 27-28
pp. 31-39
Resolution dated January 4, 2016, Id., pp.49-50

I
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People V. Alfredo Y. Po 17
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Criminal Cases No. SB-12-CRM-0310 to 0313
DECISION

His motion for leave to file demurrer to evidence having been denied,
Commissioner Po sought the admission of his revised judicial affidavit,
which this Court granted Accused forthwith sou^t the recusal of the
members of this Court's First Division from trying these cases, alleging
manifest bias and partiality considering the undue leniency it extended the
Prosecution by giving it prolonged and unreasonable extensions to ensure the
presentation of complainant Atty. De Los Santos, the admission of exhibits
that have not been duly authenticated, and the denial ofleave to file demurrer
to evidence despite the total lack of evidence presented by the Prosecution.
The matter ofrecusal was deemed moot when the cases were unloaded to this
Court's new divisions.

The presentation of defense evidence was thereafter heard by the


Seventh Division ofthis Court.

EVIDENCE FOR THE DEFENSE

Accused Alfredo Y. Po ["Commissioner Po"] testified as the lone


witness in his defense. In his Judicial Affidavit, he stated that he knew
complainant Atty. Ernesto De Los Santos as a fellow member of the Rotary
Club since the 1990s.^^® He denied having facilitated the approval ofthe lease
contract between the PRC and Atty. De Los Santos,^^^ averring that it was the
PRC's BAC, upon the recommendation of Regional Director Teofilo Gaius
M. Sison, Jr., and after visiting the different potential office buildings in
Baguio City,^^^ which proposed the approval of the lease; and it was PRC
Chairperson Manzala who approved it, as Head of the Procuring Entity
(HOPE)/ Head ofthe PRC. Chairperson Manzala decided to rent the CTLL
Building^ on July 20, 2012, and asked for a rent-fi*ee grace period of three
months thereon. She signed the Letter ofIntent advising Atty. De Los Santos
of the PRC's intention to lease the CTLL Building and signed the Lease
Contract in behalf of the PRC To date, the PRC still occupies the CTLL
Building and such lease has never been questioned by the COA.^^^
Commissioner Po denied having any participation in the preparation of
the lease contract, but signed merely as a witness, in his capacity as PRC
Commissioner. He also asserted that his functions as Chairman of the

Motion to Admit dated January 13, 2016, Id., pp. 59-60; Attached Revised Judicial Affidavit, Id., pp. 61-
88
Resolution dated January 21,2016, Id., p. 128
Recusation dated February 1,2016,Id., pp. 135-144
Resolution dated February 29, 2016,Id, pp. 175,189
Revised Judicial Affidavit dated January 12,2016, Records, Vol. 4, pp.61-88
^/cf.,Q&ANo.2
Exhibit "9"(Exhibit "T" for the Prosecution)
Travel Order No. 2012-353, Exhibit "8"(Exhibit "JJ" for the Prosecution)
Letter of Intent dated July 20, 2012, Exhibit "7"(Exhibit "ZZZ" for the Prosecution)
^Judicial Affidavit of Alfredo Po,Q&A Nos. 7-20
^TSN dated July 27, 2016, p. 23.
Judicial Affidavit of Alfredo Po, Q&A No. 21;TSN dated July 20, 2016, p. 40

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People V. Alfredo Y. Po 18
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Criminal Cases No. SB-12-CRM-0310 to 0313
DECISION

Physical Infrastructure Committee had nothing to do with the lease of the


CTLL Building. Also, he signed the checks for lease payments as an
alternate because the official signatory was on leave.^^^
At around 4:00 p.m. of December 5, 2012, Atty. De Los Santos paid
him a visit without prior appointment. Atty. De Los Santos attempted to
engage him in a conversation, but Commissioner Po was busy and preferred
that Atty.De Los Santos left,so he did not engage him in further conversation.
Atty. De Los Santos placed something at the far end ofhis desk, which he did
not notice or mind as there-were piles of paper on his table and he was busy
with paperwork. Atty. De Los Santos continued to mutter words and then
spoke on his phone,sounding like someone on drugs. Still, Commissioner Po
did not mind him and continued to work; neither did he call the guards.^^®
Atty. De Los Santos hurriedly left, but shortly thereafter, to his surprise,
unidentified men barged into his office and identified themselves as NBI
agents. He was told that he was involved in a criminal complaint which he
knew nothing about.
The NBI agents then invited him to come with them in relation to the
alleged bribe. It was only while he was discussing with the NBI agents that
he saw what looked like cash on his desk. He refused to go with them, having
done nothing wrong, but was reassured that the investigation would not take
long. He asked what he did wrong, and an NBI agent replied "Sir, trabaho
lang, meron ho kaming directive na na-receive galing sa taas He was told
that he was only being investigated for the money left on his desk, and was
never held nor handcuffed. Upon reaching the NBI Headquarters, he was
subjected to a fluorescent powder test that yielded negative results. He was
placed under arrest for extortion and subjected to inquest proceedings the next
day,December 6,2012.
Commissioner Po asserted that Atty. De Los Santos had been
attempting to bribe him to ensure that the PRC would continue leasing his
building, but he consistently refused, and even rejected a check for
P394,000.00.^^'* Atty. De Los Santos led the entrapment operation to salvage
his bad reputation, and exude a graft-busting and upright image,>vhen he was
actually the opposite. Not only was Atty. De Los Santos a fugitive from
justice, he has also been charged with acts of lasciviousness on his own
daughter. He has likewise been dismissed as Executive Vice-President and

Exhibit "H"
15® TSN dated July 27, 2016, pp. 21-23
15® TSN dated July 20, 2016, pp.40-41
16° TSN dated July 27, 2016, pp. 12-13
161 Judicial Affidavit of Alfredo Po, Q&A Nos. 22-31
162 Certification dated December 5, 2012, Exhibit "10"(Exhibit "FFF" for the Prosecution)
16® Judicial Affidavit of Alfredo Po, Q&A Nos. 3, 32-56
16^ Exhibits "BBB" and "CCC" of the Prosecution
16® Warrant of Arrest, Exhibit "13"
166 Affidavit of Mergarett Veronica De Los Santos dated August 23, 2011, Exhibit "12"

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People V. Alfredo Y. Po 19
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Criminal Cases No. SB-12-CRM-0310 to 0313
DECISION

University Registrar of the University of Manila for bringing shame to the


university by publishing accusations ofimmorality.
Finally, Commissioner Po sought moral damages for his decimated
reputation, and the illness and anxiety caused by the charges against him.^^®
He related that he had already filed bribery and disbarment cases against Atty.
De Los Santos and an illegal arrest case against the
After his testimony. Commissioner Po only offered Exhibits "7","8",
"9","10","12","13", and "14".^^® In 2i Resolution dated August 10,2016,^^^
this Court admitted all these exhibits.

While the Prosecution sought to present rebuttal evidence through the


intended testimony ofprivate complainant, Atty. Ernesto De Los Santos, still,
it was unable to do so due to the consistent failure of Atty. De Los Santos to
appear, bringing the total number of postponements to eight times in two
years. Thus,the Prosecution was deemed to have waived his presentation as
witness. The Prosecution instead filed a Manifestation with Prayer,
submitting to this Court Decisions and Resolutions of the Court of Appeals
and a Notice ofResolution from the Integrated Bar ofthe Philippines. This
Court merely noted the Prosecution's Manifestation with Prayer,^ then
directed the parties to file their respective Memoranda.
With the filing ofthe parties' respective Memoranda,^ this case was
submitted for Decision.

THE COURTIS RULING

Four charges have been levelled against Commissioner Po over a single


incident ofreceiving money he had demanded from private complainant Atty.
De Los Santos in connection with the facilitation ofthe latter's lease contract
with the PRC, of which Commissioner Po was a Commissioner. These are:
(a)violation ofSec. 3(b)ofR.A.3019 or the Anti-Graft and Corrupt Practices
Act, which proscribes the request for or receipt of a gifl/benefit by a public
official in connection with a transaction wherein the public officer has to
intervene;(b) Direct Bribery under Art. 210 of the Revised Penal Code;(c)
Robbery under Arts. 293 and 294(5) of the Revised Penal Code; and (d)
Violation of Sec. 7(d) of R.A. 6713 or the Code of Conduct and Ethical
Standards for Public Officials and Employees, which prohibits a public
Notice of Dismissal dated September 20,2011, Exhibit "14"
Judicial Affidavit of Alfredo Po, Q&A Nos. 57-58
1®® T5N dated July 27, 2016, pp. 20-21
Offer of Exhibits dated August 1, 2016, Records, Vol. 4, pp. 208-216
Id., p. 225
Order dated October 17,2016, Records, Vol. 4, p. 344
Manifestation with Prayer dated October 17, 2016, Id., pp. 245-268; Manifestation dated October 20,
2016, Id., pp. 270-279
Resolutions dated October 18,2016, Id., p. 269; and October 20,2016, Id., p. 281
1'® Accused's Memorandum dated November 19, 2016 - Id., pp. 302-366; Prosecution's Memorandum
dated November 23, 2016- Records, Vol. 5, pp. 23-45

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People V. Alfredo Y. Po 20 I P a g e
Criminal Cases No. SB-12-CRM-0310 to 0313
DECISION

official from soliciting or accepting gifts in the course ofhis/her official duties
or in connection with any operation being regulated by, or any transaction
which may be affected by the functions of his/her office.
A tabulated review of the elements of the crimes charged shows, as
follows:

Section 3(b)of Section 7(d)of Robbery as defined Direct Bribery as


R.A.3019 R.A.6713 under Arts. 293 and defined in Art 210
294(5) of the of the
Revised Penal Code Revised Penal Code
The offender is a public The offender is a public That the accused is a
officer; official or employee public officer;

who requested or who shall solicit or That there is personal who received directly
received a gift, present, accept, directly or property belonging to or through another some
share, percentage, or indirectly, any gift, another; gift or present offer or
benefit; gratuity, fiivor, promise;
entertainment, loan or
anything of monetary
value from a person

who made the request or in the course of one's That there is unlawful That such gift, present
receipt on behalf of the official duties or in taking ofthat property or promise has been
offender or any other connection with any given in consideration
person; operation being of one's commission of
regulated by, or any some crime or any act
transaction which may not constituting a crime,
be affected by the or to refrain from doing
functions ofone's office something which is his
official duty to do; and

The request or receipt That the taking is with That the crime or act
was made in connection intent to gain; and relates to the exercise of
with a contract or one's functions as a
transaction with the public officer
government; and

The offender has the That there is violence


right to intervene, in an against or intimidation
official capacity under of persons or force upon
the law, in the contract things
or transaction

Alfredo Yap Po was appointed Commissioner of the Philippine


Regulation Commission on September 17, 2010, and assumed his duties as
such on October 1,2010,for a term ofseven(7)years. Thus,as ofthe date
alleged in the Informations, or in December 2012, Commissioner Po was a
public officer, satisfying the first element ofthree ofthe crimes charged, i.e.,
violation of Sec. 3(b) of R.A. 3019, violation of Sec. 7(d) of R.A. 6713, and
Direct Bribery under Art. 210 ofthe Revised Penal Code.
As regards the other elements, it would appear that the common
denominator of all four charges is the solicitation or request, whether done
directly or indirectly by force, and/or acceptance, of Commissioner Po of a

Exhibits "A" and "D"

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People V. Alfredo Y. Po 21
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Criminal Cases No. SB-12-CRM-0310 to 0313
DECISION

determinate amount of money from private complainant Atty. De Los Santos,


as specifically alleged in the

Commissioner Po's solicitation and


acceptance of money from Atty, De Los
Santos was proven by the Prosecution,

The resolution ofthe factual question on whether there was solicitation


or request and/or acceptance ofmoney on the part ofCommissionerPo would
necessarily involve a calibration of the entire evidence presented, the
credibility of the witnesses, the existence and the relevance of surrounding
circumstances, and the probability of specific situations.
It is not disputed that on December 5, 2012, Atty. De Los Santos paid
a visit to Commissioner Po at his office at the PRC. The NBI came to the
scene after such meeting, where they found Po seated behind his desk, on top
of which sat wads of cash.

To prove that Commissioner Po indeed solicited, received, or accepted


cash from Atty. De Los Santos, the Prosecution offered in evidence the CD
containing the video^^^ of Atty. De Los Santos' meeting with Commissioner
Po in his office, where in the course thereof, he supposedly laid bundles of
cash on top of Commissioner Po's desk. The Prosecution pointed out that
Commissioner Po showed no sign ofsurprise, did not inquire what the money
was for,and did not protest. Aside from the entrapment video,the Prosecution
also presented witnesses from the NBI to testify on the filing ofthe complaint,
the conduct of entrapment operations on December 5, 2012, and the
identification ofphotographs ofCommissioner Po after the meeting with Atty.
De Los Santos, showing the NBI agents entering his office and afterwards
escorting him therefrom.^
Commissioner Po, on the other hand, denied having accepted the
money. In fact, he tested negative for fluorescent powder as he never touched
the money placed on his desk.^^® He challenged the admissibility ofthe video
footage ofthe NBI operations, as the contents ofthe CD were neither shown
to this Court nor testified on. Neither was the camera used to take such
footage presented in court. The NBI agents were not around to witness what
transpired during the meeting of Atty. De Los Santos and Commissioner Po
in the latter's office.^®^
Regarding Atty. De Los Santos' visit to his office. Commissioner Po
testified that he never saw him place the money on his table, as piles of paper

177 cabaron v. People and Sandiganbayan, G.R. No. 156981, October 5,2009, citing Republic v.
Sandiganbayan, G.R. No. 135789,January 31,2002
Exhibit"WW"
Exhibits "GGG",et seq.
Exhibit "10"
Accused's Memorandum,Records, Vol. 4, pp. 328-331

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People V. Alfredo Y. Po 22
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Criminal Cases No. SB-12-CRM-0310 to 0313
DECISION

were on his desk.^^^ He was too busy to mind Atty. De Los Santos, who came
imannounced and was saying things he could not understand. Shortly after he
left, men who later identified themselves as NBI agents barged into his office.
As confirmed by these NBI agents, they found him calmly sitting on a chair
fronting his table upon their arrival. He made no attempt to hide the money,
and did not panic nor berate the NBI agents.
Significantly, Prosecution's Exhibit "WW", or the CD containing the
video footage of the December 5, 2012 operation, was offered only to prove
that the NBI operatives reviewed the video stored in the CD,and that the video
showed bundles of money on top of Commissioner Fo's table while he and
Atty. De Los Santos were conversing. Exhibit "WW" was admitted in
evidence in die tenor that it was testified on by the Prosecution's witnesses.
However, the contents of the CD were neither viewed by this Court,
authenticated by a witness, nor offered to prove that such footage depicted an
actual incident. Lacking such foundation testimony,the same cannot be given
consideration.

The CD containing the purported video footage^ was identified by SI


Dela Rosa, who testified that after examining the video taken by the hidden
camera carried by Atty. De Los Santos, the footage was transferred to such
CD on the same day.^^^ On cross-examination, however, he testified that it
was his colleague, SI Edwin Roble, who transferred the video footage from
the camera to the CD,and he had no participation in such transfer. SI Roble
was not presented to testify on the transfer of data. Neither was Atty. De Los
Santos presented to walk the Court through the incident captured on video.
Section 1,Rule 11 ofthe Rules on Electronic Evidence under A.M.NO.
01-7-01-SC provides:
Sec. 1. - Audio, video and similar evidence.- Audio, photographic
and video evidence of events, acts or transactions shall be admissible
provided is shall be shown,presented or displayed to the court and shall
be identified, explained or authenticated by the person who made the
recording or by some other person competent to testify on the accuracy
thereof.

The party seeking the introduction in evidence of a tape recording, or


in these cases, video recording, bears the burden ofgoing forth with sufficient
evidence to show that the recording is an accurate reproduction of the
conversation recorded. Without Atty. De Los Santos'testimony to identify

Revised Judicial Affidavit of Alfredo Po dated January 12,2016,Q&A No. 23, Records, Vol. 4, p.65
Accused's Memorandum, Records, Vol. 4, pp. 335-339
Prosecution's Formal Offer of Evidence, Records, Vol. 3, p. 204
Resolution dated August 7,2015, Records, Vol. 3, p. 380
Exhibit"WW"
Judicial Affidavit of Elcid Dela Rosa, Q&A Nos. 72-73
TSN dated September 1, 2014, p. 32
Torralba v. People, G.R. No. 153699, August 22, 2005

/
7
People V. Alfredo Y. Po 23
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Criminal Cases No. SB-12-CRM-0310 to 0313
DECISION

and authenticate the video recording, this undeniably effected a dearth in


prosecution evidence.
The absence of Atty. De Los Santos' testimony on the meeting and the
purported recording thereof notwithstanding, this Court finds more than
enough evidence of Commissioner Po's solicitation and acceptance of the
money from the testimonies ofthe witnesses from the NBI,the photographs
offered by the Prosecution, and Commissioner Po's ovm account ofthe event.
SI Elcid Dela Rosa ofthe NBI testified on the circumstances leading to
the conduct the entrapment operation, thus:
Q7: In line with your duties and responsibilities as Special Investigator,
do you still recall, if you do, what happened on December 3,2012?
A7: On December 3, 2012, Atty. Ernesto L. De los Santos came to the
NBI and filed a complaint for violation of Anti-Graft and Corrupt
Practices against Commissioner Po of the Professional Regulation
Commission.

r Q8: What was the complaint all about?


A8: Accused Po is demanding sums of money from the complainant,
Atty. Ernesto de los Santos, in connection with the lease of the
building in Baguio which the complainant owned. The demand was
made under threat that should complainant refused (sic)to give in to
the demand. Commissioner Po will cause the termination of the
lease contract upon his recommendation or at least, delay the
payment ofthe monthly rental due to the complainant.
XXX

Q27: After reading the complaint, what happened next,ifany?


A27: ^ We had a conference with the complainant. However, while we
were interviewing the complainant, he received a phone call. After
tallying to the caller, he informed us that the call was form
Commissioner Po demanding the delivery of P394,000.00 to his
office at PRC Manila on December 4,2012.

Q28: What action did you take, if any, when you were informed by the
complainant about the phone call from Commissioner Po?
A28: After the conference, in preparation for the entrapment operation,
we requested the complainant to come up with a number of P500
bills for marking and dusting offluorescent powder in the Forensic
Chemistry Division.

XXX

Q44: What else happened,if any?


A44: On December 4, 2012, the entrapment operation was aborted
because Commissioner Po was not in his office but a lesser amount
was handed to his secretary.

Q45: What happened next, if any?


A45: The Team and the complainant went back to the Bureau to plan for
another entrapment operation and we reviewed the video taken in
the spy camera carried by the complainant.

f
7'
People V. Alfredo Y. Po 24
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Criminal Cases No. SB-12-CRM-0310 to 0313
DECISION

XXX

Q47: You mentioned also that after that[,] the Team and the complainant
went back to the Bureau for another entrapment operation, what
happened,if any?
A47: While we were having a briefmg,the complainant, Atty. Ernesto de
los Santos,received a phone call from Commissioner Po demanding
the whole amount of P349,000.00 to be delivered in his office on
December 5, 2012.

Q48: What action did you take,if any when you were informed about the
phone call?
A48: As the Team Leader, I informed my Team and the complainant that
we will push through with the entrapment operation on December 5,
2012.^^°

Admittedly, SI Dela Rosa's testimony'^^ alone is hearsay without Atty.


De Los Santos' testimony. By itself, it does not give sufficient basis to
determine the truth of the solicitation or demand allegedly made by
Commissioner Po. The law, however, provides for specific exceptions to the
hearsay rule. One is the doctrine ofindependently relevant statements, where
only the fact that such statements were made is relevant,and the truth or falsity
thereof is immaterial. The hearsay rule does not apply; hence, the statements
are admissible as evidence. Evidence as to the making of such statement is
not secondary but primary, for the statement itself may constitute a fact in
issue or be circumstantially relevant as to the existence of such a fact. The
witness who testifies thereto is competent because he heard the same, as this
is a matter offact derived jfrom his own perception,and the purpose is to prove
either that the statement was made or the tenor thereof.
Applied to these cases, the testimony of SI Dela Rosa as regards the
conversations between Atty. De Los Santos and Commissioner Po is
admissible insofar as it established that said information led to the conduct of
the entrapment operation on December 5, 2012 The conversation between
the two insofar as any solicitation made was not necessary to prove since what
came within the NBI agents'personal knowledge was the fact that:
(i) Atty. De Los Santos came to their office and filed a complaint
for violation of the Anti-Graft and Corrupt Practices Act against
Commissioner Po on December 3,2012, as the latter was demanding sums of
money from him in connection with the lease of the building he owned in
Baguio City;
(ii) A conference was held with Atty. De Los Santos as the
complainant when a call was received by him purportedly from Commissioner

""Judicial Affidavit of Elcid dela Rosa dated March 6,2014, Records, Vol. 2, pp.417-418,420-421,423-
424
Established through his Judicial Affidavit dated March 6, 2014
People V. Malibiran, G.R. No. 178301, April 24, 2009
People V. Figueroa, G.R. No. 186141, April 11, 2012
People V. Alfredo Y. Po 25
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Criminal Cases No. SB-12-CRM-0310 to 0313
DECISION

Po demanding the delivery of P394,000.00 to his PRC office in Manila on


December 4,2012;
(iii) In anticipation of entrapment operations to be made, ten (10)
P500 bills'^^ were prepared for marking and dusting offluorescent powder in.
the Forensic Chemistry Division;
(iv) The entrapment operation was aborted on December 4, 2012
since Commissioner Po was not in his office; hence, another was set the
following day,December 5,2012;
(v) During a briefing with Atty. De Los Santos on December 5,
2012, another call was received by Atty. De Los Santos from Commissioner
Po who again demanded the delivery of P349,000.00 to his PRC office in
Manila,this time, on December 5, 2012;
(vi) The signal to be given to signify the delivery of the marked
money was for Atty. De Los Santos to speed dial SI Dela Rosa's number;
(vii) Upon receiving the signal,SI Dela Rosa and SI Roble entered the
room of Commissioner Po but at such moment, did not notice where the
money was placed, and left the room to look for Atty. De Los Santos;
(viii) When Atty. De Los Santos confirmed through phone that he left
the money on top of the table of Commissioner Po, they returned but could
not enter the room of Commissioner Po since it was now locked;
(ix) After having forcefully entered the room, they found
Commissioner Po sitting calmly on his chair, and this time, saw the bundles
ofcash on his table; and
(x) It was the same marked money that was found on Commissioner
Po's table, as shown in the Certification^ issued by the Forensic Chemistry
Division ofthe NBI.

These incidents, which remain undisputed, are independently relevant


statements ofthe solicitation made by Commissioner Po. Whether what the
NBI investigators heard from Atty. De Los Santos is true or not,it was enough
that an inference was made that it was because of the demands made by
Commissioner Po that entrapment proceedings were conducted. Eventually,
it could be adduced that from the wads of cash found on Commissioner Po's
table, the entrapment, operations apparently achieved its objective. The
possibility that an act of bribery was committed, or its concomitant offenses,
is thus not far from reality.
Irrespective ofthe true nature ofthe transaction behind the solicitation,
what Commissioner Po cannot deny is the fact that he accepted the cash from
Atty. De Los Santos, despite his seeming nonchalance on the matter. He
testified:

Exhibits "SS" to "SS-9"


Exhibit "FFF"

/■
People V. Alfredo Y. Po 26
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Criminal Cases No. SB-12-CRM-0310 to 0313
DECISION
t

Q22: What happened in the afternoon ofDecember 5,2012?


A22: At around 4:00 p.m., Delos Santos entered my office without prior
appointment. A staffopened the door for him. I wasjust there sitting
and signing documents filed atop my desk.

Q23: What did he do after he entered your room?


A23: He was trying to engage me in conversation and he was mumbling
things I did not comprehend.

He then suddenly placed something at the far-end of my desk which


I did not see or mind as I was working and there were piles ofpaper
on top of my desk that obscured my view.

Q24: What did you do or talk to Delos Santos about?


A24: He kept talking and saying things I could not understand and since
he was actually disturbing me and came unarmounced, I preferred
that he left so I did not encourage nor engage him in further
cofiversation.

Q25: What did Delos Santos do thereafter?


A25: He kept on muttering and he was trying to engage me in a
conversation. He was talking to someone on the phone and was
saying things like "sandali lang...""sandali lang""babayaran kita".
He sounded like someone who had taken drugs — tense and
disturbed.

Q26: What was your reaction to his mumblings?


A26: Ijust continued signing papers piled atop my desk and did not even
look at him until he left.

Q27: What happened next?


A27: Delos Santos hurriedly left. I bade him goodbye.

Q28: WTiat happened after that?


A28: Less than a minute after Delos Santos left my room, unidentified
men barged into my office. I sat surprised in my chair and looked
up.to find out what was going on as it was disruptive of what I was
concentrated in working on.

Q29: What happened after that?


A29: The men who came in identified themselves as NBI agents.

Q30: What happened after the NBI agents entered your office?
A30: I calmly asked them why they were there arid what their purpose
was in their sudden entry. One ofthe agents introduced himself as
the team leader. He was trying to shake my hand but I refused as I
felt he was rude and discourteous. He said I was involved in a
criminal complaint I knew nothing about.

Q31: What happened next?


A31: The NBI agents were inviting me to come with them as they claimed
I was bribed by Delos Santos. I got annoyed at the accusation but

/
7
People V. Alfredo Y. Po 27
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Criminal Cases No. SB-12-CRM-0310 to 0313
DECISION

kept calm. It was then that I saw what looked like cash atop my desk
in the front far-end ofthe table where Delos Santos was sitting.'^^

From the photographs^^^ produced during the entrapment proceedings,


a fact has been laid that a pile ofP500 peso bills was found on the office table
of Commissioner Po, which he himself does not dispute save for his own
version ofthe story. But a look at these photographs t^en by the NBI during'
the operation on December 3, 2012, namely. Exhibits "GGG" to "GGG-4"
and "F*" and would show that it was impossible for Commissioner Po
not to have already seen the wads of cash on his table at the time the NBI
entered his office. In fact, these photographs depict that the money, and not
just a few bills but several bundles ofP500 bills, were in Commissioner Fo's
line of sight.
That Atty. De Los Santos had come and gone,leaving wads ofcash that
remained untouched on Commissioner Po's desk, in his plain view while he
sat in the privacy ofhis office, tells this Court that Commissioner Po deemed
the wads of cash as already his. A contrary mindset would project disquiet
at the mere sight of such large sums of money splayed on his desk for no
apparent reason. Instead, Commissioner Po was bizarrely calm.
Accused cites Peligrino v. People where the Supreme Court
supposedly held that the mere placing in custody of a gift to a public officer
does not amount to his acceptance or solicitation thereof. There must be a
clear intention shown by the public officer to accept it.
There was no such ruling in Peligrino. The petitioner in said case was
handed an envelope containing boodle money. Petitioner opened the
envelope, looked inside, closed it and placed it beside him on the table. The
Supreme Court held that such reaction did not signify refusal or resistance to
bribery, especially considering that he was not supposed to accept any cash
from the taxpayer. The proximity of the envelope relative to petitioner also
belies petitioner's contention that he refused the bribe.
The same is actually true in this case wherein Commissioner Po never
exhibited refusal or resistance upon finding money on his table. To this
Court's mind. Commissioner Po' calm demeanor upon the arrival ofthe NBI
agents, who incidentally had to forcibly open the door to his office after
knocking on the locked door to no avail,^^^ signified surrender more than a
clear conscience. Surely, had Commissioner Po been clueless as to why there
was suddenly so much money on his desk, he did not have to close his doors
to the NBI,but could have actually used their help; and upon being confronted
by them,he would have expressed astonishment and defensiveness instead of
outright submission.

136 Revised Judicial Affidavit of Alfredo Po dated January 12,2016, Records, Vol. 4, pp. 65-66
13' Exhibits"GGG" to "GGG-5" and Exhibits "I'"' to "l^'-l"
138 G.R. No. 136266, August 13, 2001
133 Judicial Affidavit of Elcid deia Rosa dated March 6,2014, Q&A Nos. S4&55, Records, Vol. 2, p.425;Joint
Affidavit of Arrest, Exhibit "XX", par.9

/ f /•
People V. Alfredo Y. Po 28
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Criminal Cases No. SB-12-CRM-0310 to 0313
DECISION

While solicitation and acceptance by Commissioner Po have been


proved, this fact alone does not hold a solid bearing in proving the crimes
charged. An equally important question to determine Commissioner Fo's
criminal liability for the offenses charged is: What was the moneyfor?

The Prosecution dismallyfailed to establish


the purpose for the delivery of money by
Atty. De Los Santos to Commissioner Po,
To determine the existence of elements crucial in the commission of
three ofthe four crimes charged,this Court has to know whatthe money,albeit
proven to have been solicited and accepted by Commissioner Po, was for.
For liability to attach, it must be established: (i) for violation ofSec.
3(b) ofR.A. 3019,that Commissioner Po requested or received the money in
connection with a contract or transaction with the government; (ii) for
violation ofSec. 7(d)ofR.A. d773,that Commissioner Po solicited or accepted
the money in the course of his official duties or in connection with any
operation being operated by, or any transaction which may be affected
by the functions of his office; and (iii)for Direct Bribery under Art. 210 of
the Revised Penal Code, that such money has been given in consideration of
Commissioner Fo's commission ofsome crime or any act not constituting
a crime, or refrain from doing something which is his official duty to do,
which relates to the exercise of his functions. It behooved the Prosecution
to prove, at the very least, that Commissioner Po solicited and received the
money in his capacity as PRC Commissioner.
Several circumstances demonstrate interactions between Atty. De Los
Santos and Commissioner Po in the latter's official capacity:
(i) It is subject of stipulation that "accused, as the PRC
Commissioner in charge ofPhysical Infrastructure and Development, visited
the CTLL Building sometime in 2011";200
(ii) Atty.De Los Santos had a subsisting lease contract with the PRC,
of whom Commissioner Po was Commissioner;
(iii) Gloria Asinas, member of Commissioner Po's staff at the PRC,
testified that she retrieved the checks payable to Atty. De Los Santos on
November 23,2012, and the corresponding disbursement vouchers, from the
Disbursing Section, per Commissioner Po's instructions.^®^ This was
confirmed by Josephine Bonto, Head of the Disbursing Section of the PRC,
who testified that Asinas indeed went to their office to retrieve the checks
payable to Atty. De Los Santos for rentals on the CTLL Building;^®^

2°° Pre-trial Order dated June 16, 2014, Records, Vol. 3, p.60
judicial Affidavit of Gloria Asinas dated January 20, 2014,Q&A Nos. 6,7,18-21, Records, Vol. 2, p. 101
Judicial Affidavit of Josephine Bonto dated January 13, 2014, Q&A Nos.6-33, Id., pp.85-88, Exhibits "J",
"K","L","M",and "N"

7
People V. Alfredo Y. Po 29
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Criminal Cases No. SB-12-CRM-0310 to 0313
DECISION

(iv) These checks and their corresponding disbursement vouchers


were turned over to Commissioner Po;

(v) Atty. De Los Santos collected his rental payments for the lease
ofthe CTLL Building from Commissioner Po himself;^®"^
(vi) Atty. De Los Santos was confirmed to have visited the Office of
Commissioner Po on December 4 and 5,2012, by security guard Crispino L.
Lacayanga, Jr.; and
(vii) Commissioner Po himself testified that Atty. De Los Santos had
previously attempted to bribe him to ensure that the PRC would continue to
lease the CTLL building;

These acts reflected the unequivocal intention of Commissioner Po to


have a direct hand in the release of the checks to Atty. De Los Santos. But
that is all. The loophole persistent in such testimonies, however combined,is
the fact that no one witness testified to having gained personal knowledge that
such solicitation was made by Commissioner Po in his capacity as PRC
Commissioner or in direct relation to the lease rentals being paid by PRC to
Atty. De Los Santos as owner ofCTLL Building where Commissioner Po was
alleged to have asked a percentage thereof. None ofthese circumstances, in
fact, not even all of them together, leads this Court to the ineluctable
conclusion that Commissioner Po received the money from Atty. De Los
Santos in his capacity as PRC Commissioner. As imparted by the Supreme
Court in People v. Bato:^^^
Hence, it has been held that a judgment of conviction based on
circumstantial evidence can be upheld only if the circumstances proven
constitute an unbroken chain leading to one fair and reasonable conclusion
that the defendants are guilty, to the exclusion of any other conclusion.
The circumstances proved must be concordant with each other, consistent
with the hypothesis that the accused is guilty and,- at the same time,
inconsistent with any hypothesis other than that of guilt. As a corollary to
the constitutional precept that the accused is presumed innocent until the
contrary is proved, a conviction based on circumstantial evidence must
exclude each and every hypothesis consistent with his innocence,
(emphases supplied)

These circumstances are a poor substitute for what could have been
Atty. De Los Santos' first-hand account of what was actually communicated
between him and Commissioner Po. They do not foreclose the possibility of
Commissioner Po's receipt of the money not in his official capacity. In
reality, all four charges are centrally hinged on the revelations made by one

Judicial Affidavit of Gloria L. Asinas, Q&A No. 22


2®^ Id., Q&A No. 27 •
Judicial Affidavit of Crispino Lacayanga, Q&A Nos. 1-7
206 Revised Judicial Affidavit of Alfredo Po dated January 12,2016, Q&A No.55,Records, Vol. 4, p.69^
207 G.R. No. 113804,January 16,1998
People V. Alfredo Y. Po 30
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Criminal Cases No. SB-12-CRM-0310 to 0313
DECISION

person, Atty. Da Los Santos in this case, who ironically failed to answer the
subpoena issued for him to appear and testify in Court. The failure of Atty.
Ernesto De Los Santos to testify is thus a heavy toll on the Prosecution.
Without Atty. De Los Santos' testimony, the solicitation remains speculative
as to which transaction it was connected to. Hence, the true nature of the
transaction behind the cash which was supposedly handed by Atty. De Los
Santos to Commissioner Po still remains buried in secret.
Significantly, in cases involving the giving of money to a public
official, such as violation of Sec. 3(b)ofR.A. 3019 and bribery, the Supreme
Court remarked:
The sad reality in cases ofthis nature is that no witiiess can be called
to testify since no tl^d party is ordinarily involved to witness the same.
Normally,the only persons present are the ones who made the demand
and on whom the demand was made. In short, like bribery, the giver or
briber is usually the only one who can provide direct evidence of the
commission of this crime. (emphases supplied)

None of the witnesses presented by the Prosecution had personal


Imowledge of any communication between Atty. De Los Santos and
Commissioner Po with regard to the circumstances and considerations leading
to the delivery ofthe money on December 5,2012. The PRC BAC members
and BAC Secretariat who testified for the prosecution only confirmed the need
for the PRC Baguio Regional Office to transfer to another office, which
eventually ended up with a le^ase agreement, short of a procurement process,
with Atty. De Los Santos, who owned CTLL Building. The Head of the
Accounting Division (witness Tricia D. Camara) and the Head of the
Disbursing Division(witness Josephine R.Bonto)only revealed that,contrary
to office procedure,the checks payable to Atty. De Los Santos were collected
by Gloria Asinas,staffofCommissioner Po. The team ofspecial investigators
from the NBI only testified on the entrapment proceedings conducted against
Commissioner Po upon complaint of Atty. De Los Santos. The Prosecution
may have strived to build its case through these witnesses; haplessly,however,
it only scratched the surface ofthe wrongdoing and never fulfilled its onus of
proving the elements ofthe crimes.
Verily, there lies a difficulty in proving bribery. The transaction is
always done in secret and often only between the two parties concemed.^®^
Atty. Ernesto De Los Santos was the best, if not the only person, competent
to testify on his communication with Commissioner Po on these matters.
Short of his vital testimony, the charges may have become vulnerable in
substance. While the written imprint ofthese allegations may be found in the
Complaint-Affidavif^^ filed by Atty. De Los Santos before the National
Bureau of Investigation, the tenor of the same cannot wholly establish the

Cadiao-Palacios v. People, G.R. No. 168544, March 31, 2009


Bildner, et al. v. Ilusorio, et a!., G.R. No. 157384,June 5, 2009
"0 Exhibit "QQ"

/ y
. People V. Alfredo Y. Po 31 I P a g e
Criminal Cases No. SB-12-CRM-0310 to 0313
DECISION

charges as it remained hearsay evidence because Atty. De Los Santos did not
testify on the truth ofthe contents thereof?''
In sum, the Prosecution was unable to prove that Commissioner Po
solicited and received the money delivered by Atty. De Los Santos in his
official capacity / in the course ofhis duties. Necessarily,there is likewise no
link between the money received and the lease ofthe CTLL Building.
In essence, highlighted below are the elements of the four crimes
charged against Commissioner Po which were not proven by the Prosecution:

Section 3(b)of Section 7(d)of Robbery as defined , Direct Bribery as


R.A.3019 R.A.6713 under Arts. 293 and deflned in Art.210
294(5)of the of the
Revised Penal Code Revised Penal Code
The offender is a public The offender is a public That the accused is a
officer; official or employee public officer;

who requested or who shall solicit or That there is personal who received directly
received a gift, present, accept, directly or property belonging to or through another some
share, percentage, or indirectly, any gift, another; gift or present, offer or
benefit; gratuity, favor, promise;
entertainment, loan or
anything of monetary
value from a person

who made the request or That there is unlawful


receipt on behalf of the taking ofthat property
offender or any other
person;

That the taking is with


intent to gain; and

vr"

The offender has the That there is violence


right to intervene, in an against or intimidation
official capacity under of persons or force upon
the law, in the contract things
or transaction

2" Rosit v. Davao Doctors Hospital, eta!., G.R. No. 210445, December 7,2015; Gesmundo, etal. v. Court of
Appeals, et al., G.R. No. 119870, December 23,1999; People's Trust Company v. Leonidas, G.R. No.47815,
March 11,1992

7'
People V. Alfredo Y. Po 32
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Criminal Cases No. SB-12-CRM-0310 to 0313
DECISION

These crucial elements not having been established for the three
offenses charged, i.e., violation of Sec. 3(b) of R.A. 3019, violation of Sec.
7(d) of R.A. 6713, and Direct Bribery under Art. 210 of the Revised Penal
Code,this Court need not belabor the existence ofthe other elements.
This Court is thus left with the charge for Robbery under Articles 293
and 294(5)ofthe Revised Penal Code.

There is no evidence against Commissioner


Po for Robbery under Articles 293 and
294(5) ofthe Revised Penal Code.

Casting even more clouds of uncertainty on the Prosecution's cases is


the charging of both robbery and direct bribery for the exact same act.
While direct bribery essentially connotes an agreement between the
accused and the private person giving the "bribe",^^^ in robbery with
intimidation ofpersons,there is intimidation consisting in causing or creating
fear in the mind ofa person or in bringing in a sense ofmental distress in view
ofa risk or evil that may be impending,real or imagined.^*^
In Atty. De Los Santos' unauthenticated Complaint-Affidavit^^'^ filed
before the NBI,which largely corresponds to the Prosecution's account ofthe
facts, he stated:
14. Following such instruction, I went to Commissioner Po's Office and
upon seeing him, he gave me the checks representing the security deposit
and told me that I should give him Php42,800.00 per month by way of his
commission, xxx

15. Upon my further inquiry. Commissioner Alfredo Po told me that he


deserve (sic) said amount of Php42,800.00 per month because it was thru
his effort that the said contract was signed and said amount will not come
from me but from the Office ofPRC;
16. After a few days, while I was out oftown. Commissioner Alfredo Po
called me up and informed me that another set of my rentals check was
ready for release. I told him that I will get it as soon as I arrived in Manila;
17. On November 28, 2012, as promised, I directly went to his office in
Manila to get my check. Prior to the release of my check, he demanded for
his commissions for the months of October and November,2012. He told
me "pag hindi ka pumay^, hindi ko na itutuloy ang kontrata mo at
madaling hanapan ng butas yan, iipitin ko mga checks mo at pahihirapan
kita" and he was telling this while he was signing some ofthe PRC checks;
18. For fear of reprisal, I was constrained to give his demand of Eighty
Four Thousand (Php84,000.00) pesos in cash, upon tender, he exclaimed
and told me "kulang ito!" He said that in addition to his monthly

Revised Penal Code, Art. 210. Direct Bribery.- Any public officer who shall agree to perform an act x x
^^Sazon V. Sandiganbayan, G.R. No. 150873, February 10, 2009
2" Exhibit "QQ"

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People V. Alfredo Y. Po 33
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Criminal Cases No. SB-12-CRM-0310 to 0313
DECISION

commission,I should give him another Php394,000.00 by way of broker's


commission;

19. When I tried to complain, he threatened me and told me that he will


make things difficult for me insofar as the release of the PRC checks are
concemed and as long as my lease with PRC is existing. He further
threatened me that he will be the next chairperson of the PRC because the
current chairperson will be retiring soon. By reason of such retirement, he
will stay in the office ofthe PRC as chairman for the next 8 years; x x x

Again, Atty. De Los Santos was never presented to authenticate his


complaint-affidavit before the NBI, hence, this Court has no basis to give
credence thereto. The theory of the hearsay rule is that when a human
utterance is offered as evidence of the truth of the fact asserted, the credit of
the assertor becomes the basis of inference, and, therefore, the assertion can
be received as evidence only when made on the witness stand,subject to the
test of cross-examination.^^^ In the same vein, this Court has no way of
knowing Atty. De Los Santos' state of mind, as he never took the witness
stand. Clearly, the attendant circumstances of violence or intimidation that
must be present in the crime ofrobbery have not been proven.
Assumption of public office is impressed with the paramount public
interest that requires the highest standards of ethical conduct. A person
aspiring for public office must observe honesty, candor, and faithful
compliance with the law. Nothing less is expected.^ On the other hand, in
all criminal prosecutions, the Prosecution bears the burden to establish the
guilt ofthe accused beyond reasonable doubt. In discharging this burden,the
Prosecution's duty is to prove each and every element ofthe crime charged in
the information to warrant a finding of guilt for that crime or for any other
crime necessarily included therein.
The Prosecution's evidence, pieced together, may have depicted
Commissioner Po as a public officer that dismally fell short of the ethical
standards required of him, and given this Court strong doubts on his
innocence, but with the gaping hole that is Atty. De Los Santos' testimony, is
too jfrail to support a conviction. In our criminaljustice system,the overriding
consideration is not whether the court doubts the innocence ofthe accused but
whether it entertains a reasonable doubt as to his guilt. Where there is
reasonable doubt as to the guilt of the accused, he must be acquitted even
though his innocence may be doubted since the constitutional right to be
presumed innocent until proven guilty can only be overthrown by proof
beyond reasonable doubt.^'^
Indeed, suspicion no matter how strong must never sway judgment.
When guilt is not proven with moral certainty, it has been our policy of long

Patula V. People, G.R. No. 164457, April 11, 2012


Catipon V. Japson, G.R. No. 191787,June 22, 2015
Patula V. People,Supra.
218 People V. Baulite, G.R. No. 137599, October 8, 2001

/ I y
People V. Alfredo Y. Po 34 I P a g e
Criminal Cases No. SB-12-CRM-0310 to 0313
DECISION

standing that the presumption ofinnocence must be favored, and exoneration


granted as a matter ofright?
WHEREFORE, for failure of the prosecution to prove the guilt of
accused ALFREDO Y. PO beyond reasonable doubt, he is ACQUITTED in
all criminal charges.
The cash bond posted by accused Po is ordered released subject to the
usual accounting procedures. The Hold Departure Orders issued by this Court
on December 14, 2012 are set aside and the Order issued by the Bureau of
Immigration incorporating the name ofthe accused in the Hold Departure List
is ordered recalled and cancelled.

SO ORDERED.

llj^pRES C.
MA.THERESA DOEDRES C. GOMEZ-ESTOESTA
Associate Justice

WE CONCUR:

>ERG.GESMUNDO V.T^SPESES
Hate Justice, Chairperson dssociaie Justice

ATTESTATION

1 attest that the conclusions in the above Decision were reached in


consultation before the case was assigned to the writer of the opinion of the
Court's Division.

>ER G. GESMUNDO
person, Seventh Division

219 People V. Maraorao, G.R. No. 174369,June 20, 2012


People V. Alfredo Y. Po 35 I P a g e
Criminal Cases No. SB-12-CRM-0310 to 0313
DECISION

CERTIFICATION

Pursuant to Article VIII, Section 13 of the Constitution, and the


Division Chairman's Attestation, it is hereby certified that the conclusions in
the above Decision were reached in consultation before the case was assigned
to the writer ofthe opinion ofthe Court's Division.

[PARC Mc-eAB05AJE4TAN<
PresidingVustice