Review of REPUBLIC ACT NO. 7080: An Act Defining and Penalizing The Crime Of Plunder

The country does not lack in pertinent laws.  A review of the salient points in RA 7080 renders the ongoing process in the plunder of the PDAF chaotic (e.g. IAGCC appears redundant given that the law has already the Sandiganbayan as the competent court having jurisdiction over cases of plunder; why wait for the ‘roomful of evidence’ to pile up when the law is clear that a pattern of the overt act is sufficient?; the Senate Committee investigation is an unnecessary layer to what should be the job of the Sandiganbayan who by virtue of this law has jurisdiction over Senators and members of Congress suspected for plunder.).

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Section 1. Definition of Terms. — As used in this Act, the term —
a) “Public Officer” means any person holding any public office in the Government of the Republic of the Philippines by virtue of an appointment, election or contract.

d) “Ill-gotten wealth” means any asset, property, business enterprise or material possession of any person within the purview of Section Two (2) hereof, acquired by him directly or indirectly through dummies, nominees, agents, subordinates and/or business associates by any combination or series of the following means or similar schemes:

1) Through misappropriation, conversion, misuse, or malversation of public funds or raids on the public treasury;
2) By receiving, directly or indirectly, any commission, gift, share, percentage, kickbacks or any other form of pecuniary benefit from any person and/or entity in connection with any government contract or project or by reason of the office or position of the public officer concerned;
3) By the illegal or fraudulent conveyance or disposition of assets belonging to the National Government or any of its subdivisions, agencies or instrumentalities or government-owned or -controlled corporations and their subsidiaries;
4) By obtaining, receiving or accepting directly or indirectly any shares of stock, equity or any other form of interest or participation including the promise of future employment in any business enterprise or undertaking;
5) By establishing agricultural, industrial or commercial monopolies or other combinations and/or implementation of decrees and orders intended to benefit particular persons or special interests; or
6) By taking undue advantage of official position, authority, relationship, connection or influence to unjustly enrich himself or themselves at the expense and to the damage and prejudice of the Filipino people and the Republic of the Philippines.

Section 2. Definition of the Crime of Plunder; Penalties.

— Any public officer who, by himself or in connivance with members of his family, relatives by affinity or consanguinity, business associates, subordinates or other persons, amasses, accumulates or acquires ill-gotten wealth through a combination or series of overt or criminal acts as described in Section 1(d) hereof in the aggregate amount or total value of at least Fifty million pesos (P50,000,000.00) shall be guilty of the crime of plunder and shall be punished by reclusion perpetua to death.

Any person who participated with the said public officer in the commission of an offense contributing to the crime of plunder shall likewise be punished for such offense. In the imposition of penalties, the degree of participation and the attendance of mitigating and extenuating circumstances, as provided by the Revised Penal Code, shall be considered by the court. The court shall declare any and all ill-gotten wealth and their interests and other incomes and assets including the properties and shares of stocks derived from the deposit or investment thereof forfeited in favor of the State. (As amended by RA 7659, approved Dec. 13, 1993.)

Section 3.Competent Court.

— Until otherwise provided by law, all prosecutions under this Act shall be within the original jurisdiction of the Sandiganbayan.

Section 4. Rule of Evidence.

— For purposes of establishing the crime of plunder, it shall not be necessary to prove each and every criminal act done by the accused in furtherance of the scheme or conspiracy to amass, accumulate or acquire illgotten wealth, it being sufficient to establish beyond reasonable doubt a pattern of overt or criminal acts indicative of the overall unlawful scheme or conspiracy.

Section 5. Suspension and Loss of Benefits.

— Any public officer against whom any criminal prosecution under a valid information under this Act whatever stage of execution and mode of participation, is pending in court, shall be suspended from office.  Should he be convicted by final judgment, he shall lose all retirement or gratuity benefits under any law, but if he is acquitted, he shall be entitled to reinstatement and to the salaries and other benefits which he failed to receive during suspension, unless in the meantime, administrative proceedings have been filed against him.

Section 6. Prescription of Crimes.

— The crime punishable under this Act shall prescribe in twenty (20) years. However, the right of the State to recover properties unlawfully acquired by public officers from them or from their nominees or transferees shall not be barred by prescription, laches, or estoppel.

Access the document at lawphil.net

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