Sabio not immune from suit, SC rules

September 11, 2019

THE Supreme Court has ruled that immunity from suit does not extend to the alter egos of the President.

The SC denied the petition for review filed by former Presidential Commission on Good Governance chairman Camilo L. Sabio questioning his conviction for graft by the Sandiganbayan in connection with the lease of 11 motor vehicles entered into with the United Coconut Planters Bank Leasing and Finance Corporation without public bidding in 2007-2009.

In a 10-page decision, the SC said Sabio cannot claim or invoke immunity from suit being an alter ego of the President.

“It was the PCGG, through Sabio and his Commissioners, not the President, who entered into the subject lease agreements without the requisite public bidding. It will be ridiculous to hold that alter egos of the President are, likewise, immune from suit simply because their acts are considered acts of the President if not repudiated,” the Court said.

Citing jurisprudence, the SC said Sabio’s contention “is untenable for the simple reason that the petition is directed against petitioner and not against the President, and that the questioned acts are those of petitioners and not of the President.”

“In fact, the 1987 Constitution is replete with provisions on the constitutional principles of accountability and good governance that should guide a public servant. The rule is that unlawful acts of public officials are not acts of the State and the officer who acts illegally is not acting as such but stands in the same footing as any other trespasser,” the Court added.