THE Court of Appeals (CA) has denied the plea of the Government Service Insurance System (GSIS) for the reversal of its earlier decision dismissing the estafa complaint it filed against former board officers and members of the National Press Club (NPC) in connection with the 2007 sale of a Vicente Manansala mural to a private gallery for P10 million.
In a three-page resolution penned by Associate Justice Carmelita Salandanan Manahan, the CA’s Former Fourth Division held that the GSIS failed to raise new arguments that would warrant the reversal of its October 30, 2017, decision.
The CA, in its October 30 ruling, said that the Regional Trial Court (RTC) in Manila did not err in granting the prosecution’s motion to withdraw the information for estafa filed against the former NPC board members in its order issued on March 17, 2014.
The CA did not give merit to GSIS’s claim that the order of then-acting Justice Secretary Alberto C. Agra was for the withdrawal of the case for qualified theft, and not for estafa.
The appellate court agreed with the trial court that there is no probable cause to push for the trial of the estafa complaint against the former NPC board of directors.
“This court finds that all matters and issues raised in the motion have already been passed upon and resolved by this court. In view thereof, there appears no cogent reason for the reconsideration of the decision,” the resolution stated.
Concurring with the resolution were Associate Justices Fernanda Lampas-Peralta and Elihu Ybanez.
The CA earlier explained that the based on the records of the case, the GSIS failed to provide evidence showing that the mural was received by the NPC in trust or on commission, or for administration, or under the obligation to return the same to GSIS.
The CA gave weight to the NPC’s claim that although the real property is registered in the name of GSIS, NPC is still considered the owner of the mural.
It noted that the trial court’s decision declaring NPC as the owner of the mural was affirmed by the CA’s Seventh Division in a ruling in 2011.
The decision, according to the CA, put to rest the issue of ownership over the subject mural.
In its ruling in 2011, the CA upheld the NPC’s right over the contested mural, although it did not resolve the issue on the ownership of the NPC building from where it was taken.
“Being the owner of the mural, NPC has all the rights to dispose of the same in whatever manner it desires. NPC cannot be made liable, in any way, in exercising what is merely a propriety act,” the CA ruled.
The GSIS had claimed ownership of the mural, saying it is an immovable part of the NPC building, which it owns by virtue of Transfer Certificate of Title 265236.
The NPC, on the other hand, insisted on its right over the property through Letter of Instructions 500 issued by the late strongman Ferdinand Marcos in 1977 directing GSIS to donate to NPC the subject property.
The NPC, then under Roy Mabasa as president, sold the mural to Heritage Galleries for P10 million.