LRA employee convicted of direct bribery, graft
23 May 2017
The Regional Trial Court of Quezon City convicted Land Registration Authority (LRA) Examiner I Giovanni Purugganan for the crimes of Direct Bribery and violation of Section 3 (b) of Republic Act No. 3019 (Anti-Graft and Corrupt Practices Act). He was sentenced to imprisonment of two to three years for Direct Bribery and six to eight years for graft. The court also ordered the accused to pay a fine of P100,000.00 and was perpetually disqualified from holding public office.
In a Decision rendered by Presiding Judge Rossana Fe Romero-Maglaya, it was found that sometime in July 2011, Purungganan initially demanded P300,000.00 from private complainant Albert Avecilla in order to expedite the release of an order for the titling of a property located in La Union. The examiner sent several text messages to follow up the payment and indicated that he was willing to accept installment payments. Avecilla was able to bring the matter to the administration of LRA and an entrapment operation was planned with the assistance of the National Bureau of Investigation (NBI).
On August 23, 2011, an entrapment operation was conducted by the NBI in a fastfood restaurant across the LRA Central Office. During the operation, Purungganan accepted the marked money in an envelope from Avecilla containing P50,000.00.
During the trial, accused denied the charges and maintained his innocence, claiming that he did not know that the envelope contained bribe money.
The Decision stated that, "the accused miserably failed to adduce a credible story of non-culpability, and thus, his defense poses nil evidentiary value. Juxtaposed with the testimony of the prosecution witnesses, which was given in a clear, positive and convincing manner, has remained consistent on cross-examination, and thus worthy of full credence, the testimony of the accused loses probative worth and engenders nil doubt thereby.”
Direct bribery is committed by a public officer, while in the exercise of official function, receives directly or indirectly, some gift, present, offer or promise in consideration of the commission of a crime, or any act not constituting a crime, or to refrain from doing something which is his official duty to do so. Meantime, Section 3(b) of R.A. No. 3019 is committed by a public official who directly or indirectly requesting or receiving any gift, present, share, percentage, or benefit, for himself or for any other person, in connection with any contract or transaction between the Government and any other part, wherein the public officer in his official capacity has to intervene under the law. ###