Former University Student Government (USG) Executive Treasurer Rupert Laurel has been found guilty of gross negligence of duty by the Judiciary in an impeachment hearing held yesterday evening at A1506.
After the judicial review and deliberation, Magistrates Angel Pascual and JC Santos sanctioned Laurel by disbarring him from office. Laurel has also been ordered by the court to deliver the remaining sum of P15,000 to petitioner Norben Sagun Jr., with duly processed documents specified by Treasurer’s Manual, before this term ends. The court also ordered Laurel to provide the court and Sagun a documentation of the initial delivery of P15,000, also before this term ends. Lastly, the court also called for Laurel to issue a public apology addressed to Sagun as well as the undergraduate students of the University no later than November 11.
In addition, the court stated that it will forward the specifics of the case to the University Student Discipline Formation Office.
Respondent Laurel was not in attendance during the hearing. The respondent’s counsel had earlier sent a manifestation to the Judiciary stating that Laurel did not recognize the proceedings of the court.
With the newly elected officers for academic year 2015-2016 already being announced and duly inducted, Laurel insisted that because he is no longer in office, the case against him should be moot and academic. His counsel further stated during the hearing that there will be no possibility to impeach Laurel because he is no longer an elected officer of the USG.
Laurel’s counsel opted out of entering a plea. The defendant’s side raised a motion to desist trial, but it was overruled by the Judiciary. The court proceeded with the hearing without the defense.
In presenting evidence for the case, the plaintiff argued that Laurel, as one of the project heads of the Lasallian Exchange Scholarship Grant (LESG), had ample time to settle the disbursement of funds for the winners of the grant. However, Sagun has not been awarded the remaining balance of his P30,000 grant.
The plaintiff alleged that since LESG had been planned as early as January this year, with winners of the program being announced in March, the defendant Laurel, together with the organizers of LESG, had around nine months to process cash advances for the cash prize. The pre-activity requirements for the program reflected a total cash prize of P60,000 to be shared among three winners. The plaintiff stated that they were under the impression that only one other winner had received their prize.
Furthermore, the plaintiff contended that although Laurel had mentioned during the preliminary hearing that there had been no specified deadline for the disbursement of funds for the prize money, the cash should have been “demandable whenever” given the nature of the program.
Read more: During the preliminary hearing, it was revealed that no withdrawals had been made from the accounts of both the Office of the Executive Treasurer and the Office of the Vice President for External Affairs, headed by Laurel and Mae Mae Gonzales, respectively. The money was instead found to have been sourced from sponsorships, donations, and Laurel’s own funds. Gonzales was previously found guilty of the same charges as Laurel during a hearing on November 4.
“In essence, I shouldn’t have had to follow up for the amount that I should receive,” Sagun expressed when he was called to the stand to deliver his testimony. “That’s the problem here — that they were not able to produce the money after [their announcement of the winners],” he added.
The Judiciary will release its court opinion on Laurel’s case no later than November 10.