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Article 217: Malversation of Public Funds

G.R. No. 184908


July 3, 2013
Major Joel G. Cantos, Petitioner VS People of the Philippines, Respondent

FACTS:
Major Joel G. Cantos is a Commanding Officer of the 22nd Finance Service Center in the
Presidential Security Group, Malacanang Park in Manila. On December 21, 2000, he took and
misappropriated the amount of P3, 270,000.00 from public funds, by reason of his position in the Office
and for his personal interest.
Meanwhile, Major Eligio T. Balao, a Disbursing Officer at the 22nd FSU who acted as a witness,
revealed that Major Cantos called him at around 12 noon to his office and notified him about the missing
Special Duty Allowance for December and other Maintenance Operating Expenses under his supervision
all amounting to P3 Million pesos. Balao was taken aback by what he had just found out about the said
money.
When he asked Major Cantos where he kept it and asked why he did not keep the money in a
safety vault, there was no response from Cantos. Balao further narrated that he was instructed by Major
Cantos to get a screw driver to unscrew the safety vault and make it appear that the money was stolen
from the vault. Instructions on getting the combination number of the vault from a certain Major Mendoza
in Taguig were also given to Balao but he was not able to find Mendoza. When Balao went back to the
office, Col. Espinelli tried to make him disclose that he took the money.
On the part of Major Cantos, he mentioned that he was informed by Major Mendoza that the
safety vault where he wished to keep the money was defective and so he kept the money in a duffel bag
in a steel cabinet. At that time, he had the keys to the steel cabinet. The next day, he narrated that the
duffel bag with the money was gone. At first, they wanted to make it appear that the money was stolen by
unscrewing the vault. But, Cantos later informed Gen. Diaz about the lost money and was advised to
relay the incident to Col. Espinelli to which Espinelli made an investigation.
In the case at bar, it showed that all the elements of the crime of malversation of public funds
were found. He was public officer and had complete supervision and control of the funds and he failed to
explain adequately what had happened to the funds.

ISSUE:
Did the Sandiganbayan make a mistake in finding the petitioner guilty beyond reasonable doubt of the
crime of malversation of public funds? No.

HELD/RULING:
Petitioner Cantos failed to explain satisfactorily the missing money amounting to P3 Million and
restitute the amount upon demand. The reasons he gave the funds being stolen and forcibly taken -were not well-supported by evidence. There was no trace of the steel cabinet where he placed the money
being opened by force and it was only Cantos who had the keys to the said steel cabinet.

His explanation was insufficient and did not overcome the presumption that he had put the
missing funds to personal use. Even if no direct evidence of misappropriation exists, it was mentioned
that the only required element is that there is shortage in the officers account which has not been able to
be explained adequately.
The petition was DENIED. The Decision of the Sandiganbayan in convicting Major Joel G. Cantos
of the crime of Malversation of Public Funds was AFFIRMED and UPHELD. There were costs against the
petitioner.