On the other hand the ombudsman cleared respondents

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On the other hand, the Ombudsman cleared respondents from the liability on the
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POLITICAL LAW CASE DIGESTS 333 ground of insufficiency of evidence, reasoning that “mere signature on a voucher or certification is not enough” to establish any conspiracy among them which would warrant their conviction. Relying on the doctrine enunciated in the case of Arias v. sandiganbayan (259 Phil 796 [1989]) (Arias) which states that “all heads of offices have to rely to a reasonable extent on their subordinated and on the good faith of those who prepare biids, purchase supplies, or enter into negotiations,” the Ombudsman held that there was “no direct and strong evidence that [Roman] participated in the fraudulent act/transactio n” and that his act, together with that of the other respondents, was protected by the “legal presumption of good faith and regularity,” which Garcia failed to overcome. Oddly, no pronouncement was made with this regard to the criminak charges against Valdecanas. In an Order dated October 9, 2009, the Ombudsman denied Garcia’s motion for reconsideration, hence, this certiorari petition. Probable cause, for the purpose of filing a criminal information, exists when the facts are sufficient to engender a well-founded belief that a crime has been committed and that the respondent us probably guilty thereof. To engender a well-founded belief that a crime has been committed and to determine if the suspect is probably guilty of the same, the elements of the crime charged should, in all reasonable likelihood, be present. This is based on the principle that every crime is defined by its elements, without which there should be, at the most, no criminal offense. The elements of the crime of Violation of Section 3 (e), RA 3019 are as follows: (a) the offender must be a public officer discharging administrative, judicial, or official functions; (b) he must have acted with manifest partiality, evident bad faith or gross inexcusable negligence; and (c) his action caused any undue injury to any party, including the government, or gave any private party unwarranted benefits, advantage or preference in the discharge of his functions. Considering the findings contained in the CoA Memo, which the Ombudsman, however, disregarded, it is quite clear that all the foregoing elements are, in all reasonable likelihood, present with respect to respondent’s participation in this case. Respondents, who were all public officers at the time of the alleged commission of the crime particularly, as provincial officials of Bataan discharging administrative functions (first element) ---apparently acted with manifest partiality, evident bad faith---or, at the very least, gross inexcusable negligence- --when they issued the pertinent documents and certifications that led to the diversion of public funds to a project that had no proper allotment, i.e., the mini-theater project (second element). The absence of such allotment not only renders invalid the release of funds therefor but also taints the legality of
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