DOJ absolves 14 NPC officers of Manansala mural theft

DOJ absolves 14 NPC officers of Manansala mural theft

By DateLine Philippines
Posted on Jun. 16, 2010 at 6:43pm |
MANILA, Philippines – Justice Secretary Alberto Agra has ordered the dropping of a criminal complaint filed against 14 officers of the National Press Club (NPC) in connection with the sale of the Vicente Manansala mural painting on the NPC building in Intramuros, Manila.

In a four-page resolution issued on June 11, Agra withdrew his earlier resolution which ordered the indictment of the journalists before the trial court for the supposed “theft and illegal sale” of the mural.

Cleared of any criminal liability were NPC officials Roy Mabasa, Benny Antiporda, Loui Logarta, Amor Virata, Jun Cobarrubias, Jerry Yap, Alvin Feliciano, Joey Venancia, William Depasupil, Dennis Fetalino, Joel Sy Egco, Conrad Generoso, Rolly Gonzalo, and Samuel Julian.

The NPC officers earlier appealed Agra’s May 27 resolution ordering the filing of criminal charges against them based on the petition for review filed by the Government Service and Insurance System (GSIS) which claimed ownership of the mural.

After reviewing arguments presented in their motion for reconsideration, Agra held there was no probable cause to indict the 14 officers for violation of Article 308 in relation to Article 310 of the Revised Penal Code (qualified theft).

The Justice secretary also ruled that the mural’s buyer, Odette Alcantara, did not violate Presidential Decree 1612 or the Anti-Fencing Law.

In their motion for reconsideration, the NPC officers presented new evidence consisting of a ruling of the Regional Trial Court of Pasay City, Branch 112, declaring that it is NPC that owned the Manansala painting at the time that it was removed from the wood-framed wall of the NPC building.

“Based on this new evidence presented by respondents-appellees, we reverse our findings,” Agra said.

The case stemmed from the criminal complaint lodged by the GSIS against the NPC for selling the painting for more than P10 million.

GSIS stressed that the NPC officers were liable for qualified theft for selling the painting without its consent.

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