Fajardo v. People


Fajardo v. People

G.R. No. 239823

September 25, 2019


                The RTC and SB convicted Angelica Anzia Fajardo. That on or about November 13, 2008, and sometime prior or subsequent thereto, in Quezon City, Philippines, and within the jurisdiction of this Honorable Court, the above-named accused, a  public officer, being the Cashier V and designated OIC, Division Chief Ill,   Prize Payment (Teller) Division, Treasury Department of the Philippines Charity Sweepstakes Office while in the performance of her official duties, committing the offense in relation thereto and taking advantage of her official position, as an accountable officer of PCSO's funds, appropriate, take and/or misappropriate public funds in the following manner, to wit: accused received Php3,000,000 as cash advance for the payment of sweepstakes and lotto low-tier prizes and for the prize seed fund of the Pacific Online System Corporation Scratch IT Project, but upon two spot audits conducted by the Internal Audit Department of the PCSO on November 13, 2008 and on January 8, 2009, the total amount of Php 1,877,450 were missing, and when given several opportunities to explain the missing funds, she cannot explain nor give proof as to the whereabouts of the funds she is  accountable for, to the damage and prejudice of public interest.


                Whether or not the Sandiganbayan erred in convicting Fajardo.


                No. That petitioner subsequently retracted the said letters in her counter-affidavit before the Ombudsman will not exculpate her. Courts look upon retractions with considerable disfavor because they are generally unreliable, 54 as there is always the probability that it will later be repudiated. 55 At most the retraction is an afterthought which should not be given probative value. 56 Only when there exist special circumstances in the case which when coupled with the retraction raise doubts as to the truth of the testimony or statement given, can retractions be considered and upheld,57 which does not obtain in this case. Viewed in this light, any objections or reservations with regard to the conduct of the spot audits conducted on Fajardo's account should have been reflected on the said letters. As it  is, Fajardo did not challenge the conduct of the audit nor did she point out any irregularity therein. Instead, she requested for more time to respond to the allegations and later, acknowledged her infractions and offered ways to restitute the missing amount. Further, and as aptly pointed out58 by the respondent People of the Philippines through the Ombudsman, the fact that the spot audits were conducted pursuant to the IAD's authority to do so raises the presumption of regularity in the performance of official duty. Besides, this issue does not detract from or diminish the fact that Fajardo failed to produce the missing funds upon demand.


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