MEINRADO ENRIQUE A. BELLO v. PEOPLE OF THE PHILIPPINES. G.R. No.

199430 : March 21, 2012 FACTS: In its 14 June 2011 Decision, the Sandiganbayan convicted petitioner of violation of R.A. 3019, Sec. 3(e) for acting in evident bad faith in the purchase of the property sold by Glicerio Plaza as part of the Armed Forces of the Philippines — Retirement Separation and Benefit System (AFP-RSBS) Calamba Land Banking Project. The Sandiganbayan found that the true consideration of the sale made by Plaza to AFP-RSBS was only P227,460 as stated in a unilateral Deed of Absolute Sale dated 14 April 1997, and not the disbursed amount of P1,531,564 as reflected in the 23 April 1997 bilateral Deed of Sale. Despite the validity of the earlier unilateral Deed of Absolute Sale, petitioner, along with other AFP-RSBS officers, made it appear that the property was sold for P1,531,564. To perpetuate the act, petitioner signed the Status Transaction Report, which recommended the release of funds. Issue: WON the basis to determine the true consideration of the sale made by Plaza to AFP-RSBS should be that which is stated in the unilateral Deed of Absolute Sale dated 14 April 1997, and not the disbursed amount of P1,531,564 as reflected in the 23 April 1997 bilateral Deed of Sale. Ruling: Petition is denied. We find no cogent reason to reverse or modify the Sandiganbayan's ruling on the basis of petitioner's claims that (1) the true consideration was P1,531,564. At the outset, it must be emphasized that the Sandiganbayan's finding of fact that the true consideration was only P227,460 is a factual issue generally beyond this Court's jurisdiction. In any event, the finding that the true consideration was only P227,460 and not P1,531,564 is supported by the evidence on record. Here, the Sandiganbayan found that the unilateral Deed of Sale was the official document used by the buyer AFPRSBS and seller Plaza in the registration of the sale; as well as in the payment of the registration fee, transfer tax, capital gains tax, and documentary stamp tax necessary to effect transfer. This finding was not disputed by the petitioner. At most, petitioner relied on the testimony of Plaza, which referred to a consideration of P1,137,300 to P1,213,120 as purchase price of the property. However, based on the parol evidence rule, there can generally be no evidence of the terms other than the contents of the written agreement; and even if this were the case; it still appears that the consideration cannot be the P1,531,564 disbursed according to the Status Transaction Report signed by petitioner. Neither did the seller or the buyer dispute the validity of the unilateral Deed of Absolute Sale. The subsequent bilateral Deed of Absolute Sale did not repeal or modify the earlier sale either. As the deed was a valid agreement of conveyance, notwithstanding that only the seller signed the deed, the Sandiganbayan did not err when it used the unilateral Deed of Sale as basis to determine the true consideration. Consequently, the Sandiganbayan concluded that petitioner had entered into a contract grossly disadvantageous to the government.

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