The Supreme Court yesterday gave the Sandiganbayan the "go signal" to proceed with the criminal case against alleged Marcos crony Herminio Disini.
In a ruling made public Monday, the SC's 1st Division denied for lack of merit the petition filed by Disini questioning the jurisdiction of the Sandiganbayan to prosecute him and if the allegation against him has prescribed.
Under the law, the Sandiganbayan has jurisdiction over criminal and civil cases of public officers and employees, including those in government-owned and controlled corporations.
However, in its ruling, the SC said even if Disini was a private individual, he can be prosecuted by the Sandiganbayan since the Presidential Commission on Good Government who filed the case against him was allowed by law "to recover ill-gotten wealth and this covered Marcos' immediate family, relatives, subordinates, without distinction as to their private or public status."
Disini was charged with a case for corruption of public officials in 2004 for pushing for the construction of the mothballed $2.1-billion Bataan Nuclear Power Plant.
He was also charged with a case for violation of the Anti-Graft Law when he allegedly used his connection to then President Ferdinand Marcos to request and receive from the Burns and Roe, contractors of the Philippine Nuclear Power Plant in Bataan $17 million for obtaining the construction contract, which, if not for Marcos' intervention would have been awarded to someone else.
The SC added the case can still be pursued because it has not yet prescribed.
"The Court is not persuaded to hold that the prescription period began to run from 1974, the time when the contracts for the contracts were awarded to Burns and Roe and Westinghouse. Although the criminal cases were the offshoot of the sequestration case to recover ill-gotten wealth, the connivance and conspiracy among the public officials involved and the beneficiaries of the favors illegally extended rendered it similarly well-nigh impossible for the State, as the aggrieved party to have known of the commission of the crimes charged prior to Edsa revolution in 1986," the SC said.*PNA