Prestige does not prove innocence

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09:57 PM December 6th, 2012

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December 6th, 2012 09:57 PM

The theory of Solita Collas-Monsod (Inquirer, 11/24/12) that the members of the board of the Philippine Charity Sweepstakes Office (PCSO), particularly, Sergio O. Valencia, should not have been indicted by the Ombudsman for plunder of PCSO funds, does not sit well with valid reasoning and the law. She argues that it was simply a ministerial duty of the board to “confirm” the illegal disbursements of PCSO funds, as requested by PCSO’s general manager, Rosario Uriarte, and subsequently approved by then President Gloria Arroyo.

The fallacy is clear. Why was there a need for the board to “confirm” the already disbursed—better still, dissipated—PCSO funds if it was merely a rubber stamp? After all, if its functions were merely ministerial, there would be no reason for its existence. Why still confirm the already confirmed (by Arroyo)?

In law, “confirmation” is needed to validate or ratify an ultra vires act, which is an act needing prior authority from a corporation’s board but did not have such authority when it was performed. It is invalid but may be validated, confirmed or ratified subsequently by the board. Thus, in corporation law, an ultra vires act, or that which cannot be done without authority of the board, may later be validated, ratified, or confirmed by the board. Unless, of course, the ultra vires act is not within the Charter or powers of the corporation, in which case it is void ab initio, hence, cannot be confirmed or ratified.

The argument that the PCSO board merely “confirmed” the illegal disbursements of PCSO funds necessarily admits that the disbursements were ultra vires, hence, needed confirmation or ratification by the PCSO board for validation.

By confirming or ratifying the illegal disbursements of the funds, the PCSO board members became equally guilty as conspirators.

In conspiracy, a party thereto need not participate in the active commission of the crime. Mere omission, silence or inaction, knowing that crime is about to be committed or being committed, when he could have prevented its commission but did not, or such silence, omission or inaction as are indicative of support, may amount to conspiracy.

The pedigree and association of Valencia with prestigious private or government organizations, though impressive, do not, by any measure, prove his innocence. To say so, is a fallacy of non-sequitur. Is Monsod saying that a descendant of George Washington, Abraham Lincoln, Mahatma Gandhi, etc. cannot commit a crime?

The Ombudsman is never bound by whatever findings of the Senate Blue Ribbon Committee. There is no law that makes the Ombudsman subservient or subordinate to the Philippine Senate. The Office of the Ombudsman is a constitutional body, on equal footing with the Senate.

As a lawyer, I am convinced that Valencia and the other members of the PCSO board are indictable for plunder of PCSO funds, together with Arroyo, Uriarte and others.

—REX G. RICO, rico_associates@yahoo.com

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