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Case of Atty. Demetrio Bolante
« on: December 25, 2017, 08:13:15 PM »
Sandiganbayan finds private lawyer guilty of graft
13 June 2013, Press Release Ombudsman

     THE Sandiganbayan convicted a private lawyer for graft after he conspired with a judge and two court employees in giving unwarranted benefits to his client in 1991.

     In a 30-page Decision, the Sandiganbayan’s Fifth Division denied Atty. Demetrio Bolante’s Demurrer to Evidence for lack of merit and proceeded in finding him guilty of violating Section 3(e) of Republic Act No. 3019 (Anti-Graft and Corrupt Practices Act).

     Bolante was meted the penalty of imprisonment of six years and one month, as minimum, to 10 years, as maximum, and was also perpetually disqualified from holding public office.

     Judge Luis Dictado, Clerk of Court Perfecto Loria and Sheriff III Edgardo Delos Reyes, all assigned at the Regional Trial Court (RTC) Branch 39 in Daet, Camarines Norte, were criminally charged along with Bolante and his client-litigant Reynaldo Tolentino, Sr., after Judge Dictado issued in December 1991 an Order granting Tolentino’s motion for the issuance of a writ of execution, which motion was filed by his counsel Bolante in a case filed before said RTC.

     In his Order, Dictado commanded Camarines Norte Electric Cooperative, Inc. (CANORECO) to award the sum of P427,650 to Tolentino despite the fact that no such award was mentioned in the dispositive portion of the decision and, moreover, the case is no longer within his jurisdiction since an appeal is pending before the Court of Appeals.

     The anti-graft court issued an arrest order for Bolante on August 5, 1996, but he went into hiding. He surrendered only on March 30, 2011 or almost 15 years after the issuance of the order of arrest.

     Meanwhile, on March 30, 2004, the Sandiganbayan provisionally dismissed the case as against the accused/public officers.

     In the Decision penned by Associate Justice Amparo Cabotaje-Tang and concurred in by Associate Justices Roland Jurado and Alexander Gesmundo, the Court held that the confluence of events – from Bolante’s filing of Tolentino’s baseless motion, Dictado’s baseless grant of the motion, Loria’s issuance of the writ of execution, to Delos Reyes’ implementation of the writ, thereby eventually resulting in the garnishment of P427,650 in CANORECO’s bank account – unmistakably shows that they were animated by a single criminal purpose.

     Citing People v. Dumlao, the Decision explained that the dismissal of the case against Bolante’s co-accused did not remove the basis of the charge against them considering that the evidence presented by the prosecution clearly established the existence of a criminal conspiracy among them.

     The Court stated that Bolante, as a lawyer, cannot feign ignorance of the fundamental legal precept that a trial judge loses jurisdiction to issue a writ of execution after an appeal has been perfected, and such “blatant disregard of such an elementary rule of procedure does not simply import bad judgment but betrays a malevolent intention.”

     It also noted that Bolante’s act of “eluding arrest for such a long period of time, without any justification whatsoever, is a clear indication of his guilt.”
 
     Court proceedings show that after the court denied his Motion for Leave to File Demurrer, Bolante filed a Demurrer to Evidence without leave of court, thereby waiving his right to present evidence and consequently submitting the case for judgment on the basis of the prosecution evidence.

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