Abubakar v. People, GR 202408, 27 June 2018
The case was a Petitions for Review on Certiorari concerning alleged anomalies in the implementation of infrastructure projects within the Autonomous Region of Muslim Mindanao (ARMM).
Abubakar, Baraguir, and Guiani were public officials of the Department of Public Works and Highways in ARMM (DPWH-ARMM) when the offenses were allegedly committed. Abubakar held the position of Director III, Administrative, Finance Management Service. Baraguir was the Director of the Bureau of Construction, Materials and Equipment, and a member of the Pre-Qualification Bids and Awards Committee, while Guiani was the DPWH-ARMM Regional Secretary.
Based on the report submitted by the Commission on Audit, the Office of the Ombudsman conducted a preliminary investigation and found probable cause to indict the regional officials of DPWH-ARMM for violation of Section 3(e) of Republic Act No. 3019 or the Anti-Graft and Corrupt Practices Act. On July 31, 1998, 21 separate Informations were filed against Abubakar, Baraguir, Guiani, and other officials of DPWH-ARMM. The consolidated cases were docketed as Criminal Case Nos. 24963-24983.
Abubakar, Guiani, Baraguir, and two (2) employees of DPWH-ARMM were charged in Criminal Case No. 24970 for allegedly awarding excessive mobilization fees to Arce Engineering Services.
Abubakar, Baraguir, Guiani, and two (2) other officials of DPWH¬-ARMM were charged in Criminal Case Nos. 24972, 24975 to 24980, and 24982 to 24983 for allegedly advancing P14,400,000.00 to several contractors for sub-base aggregates
Lastly, Abubakar, Baraguir, Guiani, and several other DPWH-ARMM officials were charged in Criminal Case Nos. 24973, 24974, and 24981 for allegedly causing overpayment on several projects due to bloated accomplishment reports.
Upon arraignment, Abubakar, Baraguir, Guiani, and some of their co-accused entered a plea of not guilty. Seven (7) of their co-accused remained at large while one (1) died prior to the scheduled arraignment
Abubakar claimed that he was only implicated due to the presence of his signature in the disbursement vouchers. He asserted that he examined the supporting documents and the certifications made by the technical experts before affixing his signature.
Accused Guiani, Mamogkat, Abubakar, Baraguir, and Suasin were found guilty beyond reasonable doubt of violation of Section 3(e) of Republic Act No. 3019 for causing the disbursement of30% of the mobilization fees or advance payment to Arce Engineering Services.
Abubakar and Baraguir filed their respective motions for new trial and reconsideration on separate dates. They anchored their prayer for new trial on the alleged incompetence of their former counsel.
Petitioners Abubakar and Baraguir maintain that they are entitled to a new trial due to their former counsel's incompetence and negligence. They claim that aside from simply adopting the evidence submitted by their co-¬accused, their former counsel also failed to present and to formally offer relevant evidence that would exonerate them from liability. Petitioners Abubakar and Baraguir believe that they were deprived of the opportunity to fully present their case and to claim that the following documents should have been presented before the Sandiganbayan:
Aside from this, petitioners Abubakar and Baraguir assert that their right to equal protection was violated due to "selective prosecution." Only a handful of DPWH-ARMM officials were charged of violation of Republic Act No. 3019. Several employees who allegedly participated in the preparation of project documents were not indicted
Whether or not the right of petitioners Farouk B. Abubakar and Ulama S. Baraguir to the equal protection of the laws was violated due to "selective prosecution"
No. The prosecution of offenses is generally addressed to the sound discretion of the fiscal. A claim of "selective prosecution" may only prosper if there is extrinsic evidence of "clear showing of intentional discrimination. The prosecution of one person to the exclusion of others who may be just as guilty does not automatically entail a violation of the equal protection clause.
Selective prosecution is a concept that is foreign to this jurisdiction. It originated from United States v. Armstrong a 1996 case decided by the United States Supreme Court. A case for selective prosecution arises when a prosecutor charges defendants based on "constitutionally prohibited standards such as race, religion or other arbitrary classification." Essentially, a selective prosecution claim rests upon an alleged violation of the equal protection clause.]
Although "selective prosecution" has not been formally adopted in this jurisdiction, there are cases that have been decided by this Court recognizing the possibility of defendants being unduly discriminated against through the prosecutorial process. The burden lies on the defendant to show discriminatory intent through extrinsic evidence