SC Junks Petition re: Graft Charges of Former Optical Media Board Chair

April 19, 2022

The Supreme Court has dismissed for lack of merit the petition for certiorari of former Optical Media Board (OMB) Chairperson and Chief  Executive Officer Ronald N. Ricketts seeking the dismissal of graft charges against him in connection with his alleged failure to institute charges against those arrested for possession of pirated Digital Video Discs (DVDs) and Video Compact Discs (VCDs) during a raid in 2010.

In a Resolution, the Court’s First Division also affirmed the Resolutions of the Sandiganbayan – Fourth Division dated October 12, 2017 and November 16, 2017 that denied Ricketts’ Motion for Leave of Court to file Demurrer to Evidence and Motion for Reconsideration, respectively.

On May 27, 2010, upon Ricketts’ instructions, a team of OMB agents raided and seized 127 boxes and two sacks of pirated DVDs and VCDs as well as one video recording unit at an establishment along Carlos Palanca Street in Quiapo, Manila. Three Chinese nationals were also arrested. The confiscated materials were brought to the OMB office but, later, and purportedly upon the instruction of Ricketts, 121 of the 127 boxes of the pirated materials were hauled out of the OMB premises and loaded into an Isuzu truck marked “Sky High Marketing.” No charges were filed by the OMB against any person or entity after.

On July 18, 2019, the Field Investigation Office (FIO) of the Office of the Ombudsman filed a complaint before the Sandiganbayan against Ricketts and his co-accused for allegedly giving unwarranted benefit, advantage or preference to Sky High Marketing Corporation, thru manifest partiality, evident bad faith or gross inexcusable negligence, by allowing and causing the release and reloading into the corporation’s vehicle the paraphernalia confiscated from the same establishment. These comprised the pieces of evidence that could support the case that should have been filed against said violators, and, by not filing the appropriate charges against the violators of RA 9239, or the OMB Act of 2003, caused damage and prejudice to the government.

In dismissing the petition, the Court ruled that there was nothing from the instant petition that would validate Ricketts’ claim that the Sandiganbayan gravely abused its discretion or acted beyond its jurisdiction in denying his motion and the demurrer itself. It stressed that there was no showing that the Sandiganbayan’s finding on the sufficiency of the evidence of the prosecution was made without legal or evidentiary basis, or that the same was reached in a capricious or whimsical exercise of judgment that could warrant the issuance of the extraordinary writ of certiorari.

The Court further ruled that petitioner’s allegations rest on the admissibility and credibility of the evidence presented by the prosecution as well as the examination and appreciation of such evidence by the Sandiganbayan, which matters clearly pertain to alleged errors in judgment which are beyond the scope of certiorari.

In questioning the sufficiency of the evidence against him, petitioner raised alleged errors in judgments which are properly the subject of an appeal and not a certiorari.

“All told, the denial of petitioner’s motion for leave to file demurrer to evidence and the demurrer itself was made by the Sandiganbayan in the due exercise of its jurisdiction,” the Court said.