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Crimes Committed by Public Officers Bribery and Corruption of Public Officials G.R. No.

L-58889 July 31, 1986 NATHANIEL S. MANIPON, JR., petitioner, vs. SANDIGANBAYAN, Second Division composed of HON. BERNARDO P. FERNANDEZ as Acting Presiding Justice and HON. BUENAVENTURA J. GUERRERO and HON. MOISES C. KALLOS, as Associate Justices, respondents. FERNAN, J.: This is a case of direct bribery penalized under Article 210 of the Revised Penal Code. In its decision dated September 30, 1981, the Sandiganbayan found accused Nathaniel S. Manipon, Jr., 31, guilty of direct bribery, sentenced him to four months and twenty days of arresto mayor with temporary special disqualification for eight years and one day and a fine of P2,000.00 with subsidiary imprisonment in case of insolvency and to pay the costs. Manipon came to this Court on petition for review on certiorari seeking the reversal of the judgment of conviction. The Court dismissed the petition, "the question raised being factual and for lack of merit." 1 However, upon motion for reconsideration, the Court reconsidered its resolution and gave due course to the petition. 2 The facts of this case are as follows: Nathaniel S. Manipon, Jr., a deputy sheriff of the Court of First Instance of Baguio City and Benguet, Branch IV, was assigned to enforce an order of the Minister of Labor dated October 31, 1979 directing the Sheriff of Baguio City or his deputy to execute the decision of the labor arbiter in NLRC Case No. RB-1-C-1428-79 entitled "Longog Tabek, et al vs. Harry Dominguez et al" and to make a return within thirty (30) days from said date. 3 The labor arbiter's decision ordered Harry Dominguez, a building contractor and the then municipal mayor of Tadian, to pay Longog Tabek and the other judgment creditors the amount of P2,720.00 with interest, as the balance of their work contract. 4 Pursuant to that assignment, Manipon on November 9, 1979 sent a notice to the Commercial Bank and Trust branch [Comtrust] in Baguio City garnishing the bank accounts of Dominguez. 5 The bank agreed to hold the accounts. For one reason or another, Manipon did not inform the labor arbiter of the garnishment nor did he exert efforts to immediately satisfy the judgment under execution. On November 12, 1979, Dominguez sought Manipon's help in the withdrawal of the garnished account. Manipon told Dominguez that the money could not be withdrawn. However, on December 27, 1979 when the two met again at the Office of the National Intelligence and Security Authority [NISA] in Baguio City, Manipon told Dominguez that he "can remedy the withdrawal so they will have something for the New Year." 6 Dominguez interpreted this to mean that Manipon would withdraw the garnished amount for a consideration. Dominguez agreed and they arranged to meet at the bank later in the afternoon. After Manipon left, Dominguez confided the offer to NISA Sub-Station Commander Luisito Sanchez. They then hatched up a plan to entrap Manipon by paying him with marked money the next day. Col. Sanchez and a Col. Aguana were able to put up P700.00 in fifty-peso bills which were then authenticated, xeroxed and dusted with fluorescent powder. 7 Thus, at about 4:00 o'clock in the afternoon of December 28, 1979, Dominguez went to Comtrust as planned. Manipon showed up with two companions, named Deputy Sheriff Crisanto Flora and Baltazar Pacis. Manipon delivered his letter to the bank lifting the garnishment. 8 Then Dominguez prepared a withdrawal slip for P2,500.00. 9 As soon as Dominguez received the money from the teller, he took out P300.00 therefrom added it to the P 700.00 in marked bills and handed the total amount of P l,000.00 to Manipon. Then they all left the bank. Dominguez walked over to his car and drove off. Manipon and his two companions walked down Session Road. Moments later, PC and NISA operatives accosted them, seized the P1,000.00 from the left breast pocket of Manipon and thereafter brought them to Camp Dangwa for questioning. Manipon was subjected to an ultraviolet light test and found positive for fluorescent powder. However, after executing a certification relative to the money recovered, he refused to give any statement. 10 He filed his sheriff's return unsatisfied on February 20, 1980 or after 114 days. 11 Originally, Manipon was charged with violation of Presidential Decree No. 46 for having demanded and received P l,000.00 from Dominguez, a private individual, for a favor extended by him to the latter, i.e., by not enforcing the garnishment order issued to Comtrust which was his official duty. However, in an amended information dated February 16, 1981, the charge was changed to direct bribery under the Revised Penal Code. 12 Manipon was released on bail. When arraigned, he pleaded not guilty. 13 In his brief, Manipon contends that the Sandiganbayan erred in convicting him of direct bribery, in not giving credence to the defense theory that there was novation of the money judgment and in admitting illegally-obtained evidence. The crime of direct bribery as defined in Article 210 of the Revised Penal Code consists of the following elements: (1) that the accused is a public officer; (2) that he received directly or through another some gift or present, offer or promise; (3) that such gift, present or promise has been given in consideration of his commission of some crime, or any act not constituting a crime, or to refrain from doing something which it is his official duty to do, and (4) that the crime or act relates to the exercise of his functions as a public officer. 14 The promise of a public officer to perform an act or to refrain from doing it may be express or implied. 15 It is not disputed that at the time of the commission of the crime Manipon was the deputy sheriff of the Court of First Instance of Benguet and Baguio assigned to implement the execution order issued in NLRC Case No. RB-1-C-1428-79. It is also not disputed that Manipon garnished the bank accounts of Dominguez at Comtrust and that he lifted the same on December 28, 1979 after which he received P l,000.00 from Dominguez.

It is the theory of the defense that the P1,000.00 Manipon collected from Dominguez on December 28, 1979 was not a bribe but a payment in partial satisfaction of the judgment under execution to which the judgment creditors headed by Longog Tabek had agreed. Manipon narrates that during his meeting with Dominguez at the NISA office on December 27, 1979, Dominguez requested Manipon to convey to the creditors that he was only willing to pay for the time being a partial amount of P1,000.00, the balance of P 1,720. 00 to be paid after the New Year. 16 So he visited Longog Tabek who was the "lead man." Tabek, an illiterate, consented to the lesser amount because he needed money badly. 17 His arrangements with Tabek and Dominguez were all verbal. At that time he found no reason to have some written memorandum for his own protection. At Comtrust after Dominguez had given him the P1,000.00 Manipon made a move to hand him a temporary receipt but Dominguez brushed it aside and said he was in a hurry. 18 Manipon maintains that Dominguez had framed him up because of a grudge. He said that in 1978 he and Flora had levied execution against several vehicles owned by Dominguez, an act which the latter had openly resented. 19 The defense theory is so incredible that it leaves no doubt whatsoever in the Court's mind that Manipon is guilty of the crime charged. It is very strange indeed that for such an important agreement that would modify a final judgment, no one took the bother of putting it down on paper. Of course Manipon would have us believe that there was no need for it because he trusted Dominguez and Tabek. And yet did he not also claim that Dominguez had framed him up because of a grudge? And if there was really an agreement to alter the judgment, why did he not inform the labor arbiter about it considering that it was the labor arbiter who had issued the order of execution? Manipon could not give satisfactory explanations because there was no such agreement in the first place. The temporary receipt 20 adduced by Manipon, as correctly pointed out by the Solicitor General, is a last-minute fabrication to provide proof of the alleged agreement for the trial payment of the judgment debt. Contrary to Manipon's claim, it is hard to believe that Dominguez was not interested in getting said temporary receipt because precisely that was the proof he needed to show that he had partially complied with his legal obligation. The testimonies of Crisanto Flora and Longog Tabek are of no help either to the defense. Flora is Manipon's co-sheriff and is therefore biased. On the other hand, Tabek, on several occasions on the witness stand, answered with obvious hesitation, betraying himself to be a rehearsed witness. While he claimed that he was the supposed headman of the other creditors, he could not present any authority that would allow him to speak for them, let alone agree to receive a lesser amount in their behalf. He even admitted that he did not know their names. 21 Indeed, Manipon's behavior at the very outset, had been marked with irregularities. As early as November 9, 1979, he had already garnished the bank accounts of Dominguez at Comtrust, but he did not notify the labor arbiter so that the corresponding order for the payment by the bank of the garnished amount could be made and the sum withdrawn immediately to satisfy the judgment under execution. His lame excuse was that he was very busy in the sheriff's office, attending to voluminous exhibits and court proceedings. That was also the same excuse he gave for not informing the labor arbiter of the novation. In fact he candidly admitted that he never communicated with the NLRC concerning the garnishment. He returned the writ unsatisfied only on February 20, 1980 although by its express terms, it was returnable within thirty days from October 29, 1979. 22 Clearly, Manipon had planned to get Dominguez to acquiesce to a consideration for lifting the garnishment order. Manipon was also asked about the affidavit he executed during the preliminary investigation. 23 That affidavit contained two annexes but the temporary receipt which he allegedly prepared on December 28, 1979 was not included. He said he misplaced it in his office and found it only several weeks after he had made the affidavit. 24 This leads us to strongly suspect there was actually no temporary receipt at all at the time of payment on December 28 and that it was concocted by the defense as a last-ditch effort to make the authorities believe that what had transpired was not a payoff but a legitimate partial satisfaction of a judgment debt. In the final analysis, it all boils down to credibility. In this regard, the prosecution witnesses have acquitted themselves welt The Sandiganbayan did not err in giving weight and credence to their version instead of Manipon's. Indeed, Manipon's guilt for the crime of direct bribery has been proved beyond reasonable doubt. Dwelling on one last point, Manipon has pointed out that the P1,000.00 was illegally seized because there was no valid March warrant and therefore inadmissible. The argument is untenable. The rule that searches and seizures must be supported by a valid warrant is not an absolute rule. There are at least three exceptions to the rule recognized in this jurisdiction. These are: 1) search incidental to an arrest, 2) search of a moving vehicle, and 3) seizure of evidence in plain view. 25 In the case at bar, the records show that at about 2:00 p.m. on December 28,1979, NISA Sub-Station Commander Colonel Luisito Sanchez held a final briefing among his men and some operatives from the Benguet Philippine Constabulary concerning the planned entrapment. He had earlier received word from Dominguez that the lifting of the garnishment would be effected that afternoon and he informed them that Manipon was asking money from Dominguez. 26 As Colonel Sanchez earlier testified, part of the money to be withdrawn after lifting the garnishment was to be given to the accused 27 for agreeing to lift the order of garnishment. After the briefing which lasted from ten to fifteen minutes, they an headed for the Comtrust bank. NISA Agent Caesar Murla stationed himself near the door of the bank so that he could observe what transpired inside the bank. 28 He testified that he saw Dominguez give the marked money to Manipon which the latter accepted and counted. Upon seeing Manipon take the money from Dominguez, Agent Murla gave a signal to some of the agents positioned nearby by placing his right hand on his head to indicate that the money had changed hands. Immediately thereafter, Dominguez left the bank, Manipon placed the money in his left breast pocket and followed suit. As Manipon walked past Murla on his way out, the latter gave another signal by putting his hand on his left breast to indicate that Manipon had placed the money in his left breast pocket. 29

Upon noticing the second signal, the NISA agents and the PC operatives approached Manipon and his two companions. After Identifying themselves as peace officers, they retrieved the P l,000.00 from Manipon. Through it all, Manipon remained amazingly silent and voiced no protest. 30 The search and seizure of the P1,000.00 from Manipon would therefore fall within the first exception. The search was made as an incident to a lawful arrest, in accordance with our pronouncement in Moreno v. Ago Chi 12 Phil. 439, reiterated in Alvero v. Dizon 76 Phil. 637, to wit: An officer making an arrest may take from the person arrested any money or property found upon his person which was used in the commission of the crime or was the fruit of the crime or which might furnish the prisoner with the means of committing violence or escaping, or which may be used in evidence in the trial of the case. The evident purpose of this exception is both to protect the arresting officer against physical harm from the person being arrested who might be armed with a concealed weapon and also to prevent the person arrested from destroying evidence within his reach. 31 Since the other issues raised by Manipon are factual they need not be discuss here. WHEREFORE, in view of the foregoing, the instant petition is denied for lack of merit, with costs against petitioner-accused Nathaniel Manipon, Jr. The decision of the Sandiganbayan dated September 30, 1981 is affirmed. SO ORDERED. [ G.R. No. 95000, April 16, 1991 ] ALFONSO C. DACUMOS, PETITIONER, VS. THE HON. SANDIGANBAYAN AND THE PEOPLE OF THE PHILIPPINES, RESPONDENTS. CRUZ, J.: The Court has carefully considered the arguments of the parties in their respective pleadings and finds no reason for reversing the decision of the Sandiganbayan convicting the petitioner of direct bribery. As found by the respondent court, the petitioner, a revenue examiner of the Bureau of Internal Revenue stationed at San Pablo City, offered to settle the tax liability of R. Revilla Interiors, in the amount of P73,307.31 by pulling out its assessment papers from the office of the BIR Commissioner and procuring a tax clearance. For such service, he would require a fee of P35,000.00 (later reduced to P30,000.00). Gregorio Samia, the manager of the firm, pretended to go along with him but reported the matter to the National Bureau of Investigation, which arranged an entrapment. This was effected on October 28, 1986, near the Rizal Cafe in Makati. Samia, meeting with the petitioner there, told him he had only P1,000.00 then but would deliver P9,000.00 to him that same evening at his residence and pay the balance of P20,000.00 in November. The petitioner wrote his address on the back of a receipt, which he gave Samia. Samia tendered the white envelope containing P1,000.00 previously dusted with fluorescent powder, but the petitioner accepted it only when they had left the eatery and he was nearing his car outside. He put the envelope in his pocket. The NBI agents closed in, identified themselves, and placed him under arrest. The petitioner's reaction was to draw out the envelope and throw it on the ground. One of the agents retrieved it. At the NBI headquarters, the petitioner's hands were found positive for fluorescent powder, as so were the envelope itself and the bills inside. The petitioner claims the charges against him were fabricated. He argues inter alia that he could not have promised to remove the assessment papers from the Commissioner's office as he had no access to that place; that at the time of his supposed offer the tax liability of the firm had not yet been ascertained and that in any case the percentage tax imposed on it was mandatory and not subject to adjustment. He stresses that as a tax examiner with 29 years service he would not have been "so crude and so rash" as to demand money from Samia whom he barely knew. He said he had met Samia at the Rizal Cafe only because the latter was "irritatingly insistent" on securing his help regarding the firm's tax amnesty. It was Samia who had urged the envelope on him but he had rejected it twice, first when they were at the restaurant and later when they were outside. He also faults the respondent court for misappreciating the evidence and for obvious bias in favor of the prosecution. The issues he raises are mainly factual. The petitioner has not shown that the findings thereon of the respondent court are tainted with arbitrariness or are not supported by substantial evidence. His charge that he was "framed" because Samia resented his refusal to be bribed is not convincing. It is belied by his proven acts. The implausibility of his promises does not mean they were not made or that they did not appear to be credible, coming as they did from one with his long experience in the BIR and appeared to know his way around. The Court finds it especially remarkable that he met Samia at a private place instead of his office at the BIR, considering that they were supposed to be discussing official business and it was Samia who he says was requesting his assistance. It was within the discretion of the respondent court to weigh the evidence of the parties and to admit such of it as it regarded as credible and reject those that it considered perjurious or fabricated. Every trial court must have that leeway. If the Sandiganbayan chose to believe Samia and not the petitioner or Exhibit F-1, the NBI report, rather than Exhibit 5, the petitioner's alleged assessment report, this would not necessarily prove that its decision was biased and arbitrary. The Court is not inclined to believe that Samia would be so vindictive as to falsely incriminate the petitioner with the serious charge of bribery simply because the petitioner refused to reduce the tax assessment of R. Revilla Interiors. Samia was not even directly involved in that assessment. As for Exhibit 5, the respondent court cannot be faulted for not accepting it in the absence of corroboration that the petitioner actually filed it only on October 17, 1986 (to show that he could not have offered to reduce the assessment of the taxpayer company earlier in September, as alleged). On the other hand, the technical report on the test conducted by the NBI for fluorescent powder on the petitioner's hands invited easy acceptance. While protesting his innocence, the petitioner has failed to rebut the evidence of the prosecution that has sufficiently established his guilt and shifted the burden of proof to him. He has not discharged that burden by just contending that the decision is based on "speculations, conjectures and assumptions" and that the conclusions drawn therefrom are "mistaken, absurd and fallacious." The thrust of his defense is that the respondent court should have believed him instead of the People, but he has not convinced us that the trial court has erred. In short, he has failed to prove, in this petition for certiorari where only questions of law may be raised, that he is entitled to a reversal of his conviction.

The petitioner seems to be suggesting in the conclusion to his petition that judgment was rendered against him because he happens to be a tax collector, whom he says "history, even from Biblical times, depicts ... as the most unpopular and vilified adjunct of any society." The plea does not persuade. It suffices to observe that he was convicted not because he is a tax collector but because he accepted a bribe. We find, on the basis of the evidence of record, that the constitutional presumption of innocence has been overcome and that the guilt of the petitioner has been established beyond reasonable doubt. ACCORDINGLY, the assailed decision is AFFIRMED and the petition DENIED, with costs against the petitioner. SO ORDERED. PRESIDENTIAL DECREE No. 46 November 10, 1972 MAKING IT PUNISHABLE FOR PUBLIC OFFICIALS AND EMPLOYEES TO RECEIVE, AND FOR PRIVATE PERSONS TO GIVE, GIFTS ON ANY OCCASION, INCLUDING CHRISTMAS WHEREAS, under existing laws and the civil service rules, it is prohibited to receive, directly or indirectly, any gift, present or any other form of benefit in the course of official duties; WHEREAS, it is believed necessary to put more teeth to existing laws and regulations to wipe out all conceivable forms of graft and corruption in the public service, the members of which should not only be honest but above suspicion and reproach; and WHEREAS, the stoppage of the practice of gift-giving to government men is a concrete step in the administration's program of reforms for the development of new moral values in the social structure of the country, one of the main objectives of the New Society; NOW, THEREFORE, I, FERDINAND E. MARCOS, President of the Philippines, by virtue of the powers vested in me by the Constitution as Commander-in-Chief of all the Armed Forces of the Philippines, and pursuant to Proclamation No. 1081 dated September 21, 1972, and General Order No. 1 dated September 22, 1972, do hereby make it punishable for any public official or employee, whether of the national or local governments, to receive, directly or indirectly, and for private persons to give, or offer to give, any gift, present or other valuable thing to any occasion, including Christmas, when such gift, present or other valuable thing is given by reason of his official position, regardless of whether or not the same is for past favor or favors or the giver hopes or expects to receive a favor or better treatment in the future from the public official or employee concerned in the discharge of his official functions. Included within the prohibition is the throwing of parties or entertainments in honor of the official or employees or his immediate relatives. For violation of this Decree, the penalty of imprisonment for not less than one (1) year nor more than five (5) years and perpetual disqualification from public office shall be imposed. The official or employee concerned shall likewise be subject to administrative disciplinary action and, if found guilty, shall be meted out the penalty of suspension or removal, depending on the seriousness of the offense. Any provision of law, executive order, rule or regulation or circular inconsistent with this Decree is hereby repealed or modified accordingly. This Decree shall take effect immediately after its publication. Done in the City of Manila, this 10th day of November, in the year of Our Lord, nineteen hundred and seventy-two. PRESIDENTIAL DECREE No. 749 July 18, 1975 GRANTING IMMUNITY FROM PROSECUTION TO GIVERS OF BRIBES AND OTHER GIFTS AND TO THEIR ACCOMPLICES IN BRIBERY AND OTHER GRAFT CASES AGAINST PUBLIC OFFICERS WHEREAS, public office is a public trust: public officers are but servants of the people, whom they must serve with utmost fidelity and integrity; WHEREAS, it has heretofore been virtually impossible to secure the conviction and removal of dishonest public servants owing to the lack of witnesses: the bribe or gift-givers being always reluctant to testify against the corrupt public officials and employees concerned for fear of being indicted and convicted themselves of bribery and corruption; WHEREAS, it is better by far and more socially desirable, as well as just, that the bribe or gift giver be granted immunity from prosecution so that he may freely testify as to the official corruption, than that the official who receives the bribe or gift should be allowed to go free, insolently remaining in public office, and continuing with his nefarious and corrupt practices, to the great detriment of the public service and the public interest. NOW, THEREFORE, I, FERDINAND E. MARCOS, President of the Philippines, by virtue of the powers in me vested by the Constitution, do hereby decree and order that: Section 1. Any person who voluntarily gives information about any violation of Articles 210, 211, and 212 of the Revised Penal Code; Republic Act Numbered Three Thousand Nineteen, as amended; Section 345 of the Internal Revenue Code and Section 3604 of the Tariff and Customs Code and other provisions of the said Codes penalizing abuse or dishonesty on the part of the public officials concerned; and other laws, rules and regulations punishing acts of graft, corruption and other forms of official abuse; and who willingly testifies against any public official or employee for such violation shall be exempt from prosecution or punishment for the offense with reference to which his information and testimony were given, and may plead or prove the giving of such information and testimony in bar of such prosecution: Provided; that this immunity may be enjoyed even in cases where the information and testimony are given against a person who is not a public official but who is a principal, or accomplice, or accessory in the commission of any of the above-mentioned violations: Provided, further, that this immunity may be enjoyed by such informant or witness notwithstanding that he offered or gave the bribe or gift to the public official or his accomplice for such gift or bribe-giving; and Provided, finally, that the following conditions concur: 1. The information must refer to consummated violations of any of the above-mentioned provisions of law, rules and regulations; 2. The information and testimony are necessary for the conviction of the accused public officer;

3. Such information and testimony are not yet in the possession of the State; 4. Such information and testimony can be corroborated on its material points; and 5. The informant or witness has not been previously convicted of a crime involving moral turpitude. Section 2. The immunity granted hereunder shall not attach should it turn out subsequently that the information and/or testimony is false and malicious or made only for the purpose of harassing, molesting or in any way prejudicing the public officer denounced. In such a case, the public officer so denounced shall be entitled to any action, civil or criminal, against said informant or witness. Section 3. All preliminary investigations conducted by a prosecuting fiscal, judge or committee, and all proceedings undertaken in connection therewith, shall be strictly confidential or private in order to protect the reputation of the official under investigation in the event that the report proves to be unfounded or no prima facie case is established. Section 4. All acts, decrees and rules and regulations inconsistent with the provisions of this decree are hereby repealed or modified accordingly. Section 5. This Decree shall take effect immediately. DONE in the City of Manila, this 18th day of July, in the year of Our Lord, nineteen hundred and seventy-five. 1. Graft and Corruption REPUBLIC ACT No. 1379 AN ACT DECLARING FORFEITURE IN FAVOR OF THE STATE ANY PROPERTY FOUND TO HAVE BEEN UNLAWFULLY ACQUIRED BY ANY PUBLIC OFFICER OR EMPLOYEE AND PROVIDING FOR THE PROCEEDINGS THEREFOR. Section 1. Definitions. (a) For the purposes of this Act, a "public officer or employee" means any person holding any public office or employment by virtue of an appointment, election or contract, and any person holding any office or employment, by appointment or contract, in any State owned or controlled corporation or enterprise. (b) "Other legitimately acquired property" means any real or personal property, money or securities which the respondent has at any time acquired by inheritance and the income thereof, or by gift inter vivos before his becoming a public officer or employee, or any property (or income thereof) already pertaining to him when he qualified for public office or employment, or the fruits and income of the exclusive property of the respondent's spouse. It shall not include: 1. Property unlawfully acquired by the respondent, but its ownership is concealed by its being recorded in the name of, or held by, the respondent's spouse, ascendants, descendants, relatives, or any other person. 2. Property unlawfully acquired by the respondent, but transferred by him to another person or persons on or after the effectivity of this Act. 3. Property donated to the respondent during his incumbency, unless he can prove to the satisfaction of the court that the donation is lawful. Section 2. Filing of petition. Whenever any public officer or employee has acquired during his incumbency an amount of property which is manifestly out of proportion to his salary as such public officer or employee and to his other lawful income and the income from legitimately acquired property, said property shall be presumed prima facie to have been unlawfully acquired. The Solicitor General, upon complaint by any taxpayer to the city or provincial fiscal who shall conduct a previous inquiry similar to preliminary investigations in criminal cases and shall certify to the Solicitor General that there is reasonable ground to believe that there has been committed a violation of this Act and the respondent is probably guilty thereof, shall file, in the name and on behalf of the Republic of the Philippines, in the Court of First Instance of the city or province where said public officer or employee resides or holds office, a petition for a writ commanding said officer or employee to show cause why the property aforesaid, or any part thereof, should not be declared property of the State: Provided, That no such petition shall be filed within one year before any general election or within three months before any special election. The resignation, dismissal or separation of the officer or employee from his office or employment in the Government or in the Government-owned or controlled corporation shall not be a bar to the filing of the petition: Provided, however, That the right to file such petition shall prescribe after four years from the date of the resignation, dismissal or separation or expiration of the term of the office or employee concerned, except as to those who have ceased to hold office within ten years prior to the approval of this Act, in which case the proceedings shall prescribe after four years from the approval hereof. Section 3. The petition. The petition shall contain the following information: (a) The name and address of the respondent. (b) The public officer or employment he holds and such other public offices or employment which he has previously held. (c) The approximate amount of property he has acquired during his incumbency in his past and present offices and employments. (d) A description of said property, or such thereof as has been identified by the Solicitor General. (e) The total amount of his government salary and other proper earnings and incomes from legitimately acquired property, and (f) Such other information as may enable the court to determine whether or not the respondent has unlawfully acquired property during his incumbency. Section 4. Period for the answer. The respondent shall have a period of fifteen days within which to present his answer.

Section 5. Hearing. The Court shall set a date for a hearing, which may be open to the public, and during which the respondent shall be given ample opportunity to explain, to the satisfaction of the court, how he has acquired the property in question. Section 6. Judgment. If the respondent is unable to show to the satisfaction of the court that he has lawfully acquired the property in question, then the court shall declare such property, forfeited in favor of the State, and by virtue of such judgment the property aforesaid shall become property of the State: Provided, That no judgment shall be rendered within six months before any general election or within three months before any special election. The Court may, in addition, refer this case to the corresponding Executive Department for administrative or criminal action, or both. Section 7. Appeal. The parties may appeal from the judgment of the Court of First Instance as provided in the Rules of Court for appeals in civil cases. Section 8. Protection against self-incrimination. Neither the respondent nor any other person shall be excused from attending and testifying or from producing books, papers, correspondence, memoranda and other records on the ground that the testimony or evidence, documentary or otherwise, required of him may tend to incriminate him or subject him to prosecution; but no individual shall be prosecuted criminally for or on account of any transaction, matter or thing concerning which he is compelled, after having claimed his privilege against self-incrimination, to testify or produce evidence, documentary or otherwise, except that such individual so testifying shall not be exempt from prosecution and conviction for perjury or false testimony committed in so testifying or from administrative proceedings. Section 9. Immunity. The Solicitor General may grant immunity from criminal prosecution to any person who testifies to the unlawful manner in which the respondent has acquired any of the property in question in cases where such testimony is necessary to prove violations of this Act. Section 10. Effect of record of title. The fact that any real property has been recorded in the Registry of Property or office of the Register of Deeds in the name of the respondent or of any person mentioned in paragraphs (1) and (2) of subsection (b) of section one hereof shall not prevent the rendering of the judgment referred to in section six of this Act. Section 11. Laws on prescription. The laws concerning acquisitive prescription and limitation of actions cannot be invoked by, nor shall they benefit the respondent, in respect of any property unlawfully acquired by him. Section 12. Penalties. Any public officer or employee who shall, after the effective date of this Act, transfer or convey any unlawfully acquired property shall be repressed with imprisonment for a term not exceeding five years, or a fine not exceeding ten thousand pesos, or both such imprisonment and fine. The same repression shall be imposed upon any person who shall knowingly accept such transfer or conveyance. Section 13. Separability of provisions. If any provision of this Act or the application thereof to any person or circumstance, is held invalid, the remainder of the Act and the application of such provision to other persons or circumstances shall not be affected thereby. Section 14. Effective date. This Act shall take effect on its approval, and shall apply not only to property thereafter unlawfully acquired but also to property unlawfully acquired before the effective date of this Act. Approved: June 18, 1955 G.R. No. L-18428 August 30, 1962 MARIANO G. ALMEDA, SR., and VALERIANA F. ALMEDA, petitioners, vs. THE HON. JESUS Y. PEREZ, Judge of the Court of First Instance of Manila, and the REPUBLIC OF THE PHILIPPINES, respondents. LABRADOR, J.: This is a petition for prohibition and certiorari, with preliminary injunction, filed by petitioners seeking to set aside and declare null and void the orders, dated March 15, 1961 and May 8, 1961, of the respondent Judge Jesus Y. Perez of the Court of First Instance of Manila, in Civil Case No. 44693 of said court. The first order allowed the filing of an amended petition for forfeiture against petitioners; the second denied a motion for the reconsideration thereof and for the dismissal of the amended petition for forfeiture. In October, 1961, Epifanio T. Villegas and Jesus A. Mendoza, filed a complaint with the Secretary of Justice, charging Mariano G. Almeda, Sr. with having acquired, during his incumbency as government employee, cash and properties from unknown sources in the total amount of P121,407.98 which acquisitions, according to the complaint, were manifestly out of proportion to the salary and other lawful income of said Mariano G. Almeda, Sr., and, therefore, in violation of the provisions of Republic Act No. 1379, otherwise known as the Anti-Graft Law. Pursuant to the provisions of said Act, a preliminary investigation was conducted by a committee of investigators designated by the Secretary of Justice. In a resolution of said investigators, dated November 4, 1960, it was certified that there is reasonable ground to believe that from 1950 to 1959, Mariano G. Almeda, Sr. acquired properties manifestly out of proportion to his salary as Assistant Director of the National Bureau of Investigation, and to his other lawful income. On the basis of the findings of the investigators, the Solicitor General, representing the Republic of the Philippines as petitioner, filed on November 12, 1960, with, Court of First Instance of Manila, a petition for forfeiture against Mariano G. Almeda, Sr., docketed as Civil Case No. 44693. It charges him with having committed while engaged in the performance of his official and, in consequence of said graft, had acquired properties and made cash disbursements from 1950 to 1959 grossly disproportionate to his lawful income. His wife was included as a co-respondent in her capacity as wife of Mariano G. Almeda, Sr. and as co-owner of their conjugal properties. Petitioners herein filed their answer on December 1960 and thereafter the case was set for hearing, but February 15, 1961, the Solicitor General filed a "Motion for Leave to Amend Petition for Forfeiture". The judge granted the motion but rejected the inclusion of Mariano F. Almeda, Jr. as party respondent. On March 25, 196 the Solicitor General filed the amended petition for forfeiture, adding other counts and items of alleged unlawful acquisitions and disbursements thus increasing the alleged cash from unexplained sources received by the respondent from the years 1950-59 to P208,682.45, as against respondent's salary and other lawful income of only P59,860.97. Respondents, petitioners herein, objected to the amendment on the ground that the new counts or charges already been investigated and dismissed after investigation, and respondents had not

been given a new preliminary investigation with respect to the new counts or charges that the proceeding under Republic Act No. 1379 being criminal in nature, the petition may not be amended as substance without respondents' consent. It is also claim that the amendments were presented only to delay the proceedings to the prejudice of the respondents, and that the new counts or charges could not be included because one year had already elapsed after a general election in violation of the provisions of Republic Act No. 1379. After the filing of memoranda by the parties the respondent judge issued the order sought to be reviewed, authorizing the presentation of the second amended petition but without including therein Mariano F. Almeda, Jr. as a party respondent. The court ruled as follows: The Court finds no merit to the contention that the amended petition seeks to include new counts which were previously dismissed by the investigating Fiscals because no such dismissal appears in the resolution of said investigating fiscal and moreover, the only function of the investigating fiscals in the preliminary investigation was to determine whether or not there is probable cause that respondents have acquired properties beyond their means. The items of receipts and disbursements or acquisitions referred to as new counts by the respondents are but allegations in detail respecting the main allegation that respondents unlawfully acquired the properties described in the amended petition. The new allegations of receipts and disbursements embodied in the amended petition objected to by the respondents merely supplement or amplify the facts of unlawful acquisition originally alleged in the original petition. These amendments hence relate back to the date of the filing of the original petition so that the prohibition contained in Rep. Act 1379 that no petition shall be filed within one year before a general election cannot apply with respect to the new items of receipts and disbursements. The Court finds no merit in the respondents' contention that the amended petition should not be admitted on the allegation that this proceeding is penal in nature and no amendment as to matters of substance can be admitted after the respondents have filed their answer because this is a civil case and the rules respecting amendments in civil cases and not of informations in criminal cases should govern the admission of amendments in this case. The mere fact that a preliminary investigation is required to be held in a proceeding of this nature does not make the same a criminal proceeding. Hence, the rule that amendments of pleadings are favored and should be liberally allowed in the furtherance of justice should be applied. With reference to the objection that no preliminary investigation was conducted insofar as the new respondent Mariano P. Almeda is concerned, the Court finds said objection to be well-founded because no preliminary investigation was in fact conducted insofar as said new respondent is concerned in violation of Sec. 2 of Rep. Act 1379. WHEREFORE, the Court hereby orders the petitioner to file, within ten days, a second amended petition without including therein, Mariano F. Almeda as party respondent or make reference therein with respect to said person. SO ORDERED. The principal contention of the petitioners herein, respondents in the court below, is that Republic Act No. 1379 is penal in substance and effect, hence the presentation of the amended petition without the benefit of a previous preliminary investigation under the Act cannot be allowed; that the amendment would have the effect of presenting charge (under Republic Act No. 1379) within one year from the date of a general election; and lastly that amendment may not be made on a matter of substance after the defendants had pleaded. A study of the provisions of Republic Act No. 1379 readily discloses that the proceeding for forfeiture is in nature and not criminal, as claimed by the petitioners. A test has been suggested to determine whether the proceeding for forfeiture is civil or criminal, thus: . . . Forfeiture proceedings may be either civil or criminal in nature, and may be in rem or in personam. If they are under a statute such that if an indictment is presented forfeiture can be included in the criminal case they are in nature, although they may be civil in form; and where it must be gathered from the statute that the action is meant to be criminal in its nature it cannot be considered as civil. If however, the proceeding does not involve the conviction of wrongdoer for the offense charged the proceeding is of a civil nature; and under statutes which specifically so provision where the act or omission for which the forfeiture is imposed is not also a misdemeanor, such forfeiture may be sued for recovered in a civil action. (37 CJS, Forfeitures, Sec. 5, pp. 15-16). In the first place a proceedings under the Act (Rep. Act No. 1379) does, not terminate in the imposition of penalty but merely in the forfeiture of the properties illegally acquired in favor of the state. (Sec. 6) In the second place the procedure outlined in the law leading to forfeiture is that provided for in a civil action. Thus there is a petition (Sec. 3), then an answer (Sec. 4), and lastly, a hearing. The preliminary investigation which is require prior to the filing of the petition, in accordance with Sec. 2 of the Act, is provided expressly to be one similar to a preliminary investigation in a criminal in a criminal case. If the investigation is only similar to that in a criminal case, but other steps in the proceedings are those for civil proceedings, it stands to reason that the proceeding is not criminal. Had it been a criminal proceeding there would been, after a preliminary investigation, a reading of information, a plea of guilty or not guilty, and a trial thereafter, with the publication of the judgement in the presence of the defendant. But these proceedings as above set forth, are not provided for in the law.1wph1.t Section 12 of the law provides a penalty to the public officer, but said penalty is against the employee or officer for the transfer or conveyance of any unlawfully acquired properties. The law therefore penalizes an officer for transferring or conveying properties unlawfully acquired but does not do so for making the unlawful acquisition; it merely imposes the penalty of forfeiture of the properties unlawfully acquired. As the proceeding for forfeiture, as pointed out and as provided for in the law, is not a penal proceeding but a civil one for the forfeiture of the properties illegally acquired, and as the procedure outlined in the law is that which is followed in civil actions, amendment of the charges or the petition for forfeiture may be made as in ordinary civil actions; i.e., the amendments may be made before trial or in the course of trial without need of another investigation. It also follows that amendments setting forth newly discovered acquisitions may be in the petition without obtaining the consent of the respondent. WHEREFORE, the petition should be, as it is hereby, denied, with costs. So ordered. G.R. No. L-19052 December 29, 1962 MANUEL F. CABAL, petitioner, vs. HON. RUPERTO KAPUNAN, JR., and THE CITY FISCAL OF MANILA, respondents. CONCEPCION, J.:

This is an original petition for certiorari and prohibition with preliminary injunction, to restrain the Hon. Ruperto Kapunan, Jr., as Judge of the Court of First Instance of Manila, from further proceeding in Criminal Case No. 60111 of said court, and to set aside an order of said respondent, as well as the whole proceedings in said criminal case. . On or about August 1961, Col. Jose C. Maristela of the Philippine Army filed with the Secretary of Nation Defense a letter-complaint charging petitioner Manuel Cabal, then Chief of Staff of the Armed Forces of the Philippines, with "graft, corrupt practices, unexplained wealth, conduct unbecoming of an officer and gentleman dictatorial tendencies, giving false statements of his as sets and liabilities in 1958 and other equally reprehensible acts". On September 6, 1961, the President of the Philippines created a committee of five (5) members, consisting of former Justice Marceliana R. Montemayor, as Chairman, former Justices Buenaventura Ocampo and Sotero Cabahug, and Generals Basilio J. Valdez and Guillermo B. Francisco, to investigate the charge of unexplained wealth contained in said letter-complaint and submit its report and recommendations as soon as possible. At the beginning of the investigation, on September 15, 1961, the Committee, upon request of complainant Col. Maristela, or considered petitioner herein to take the witness stand and be sworn to as witness for Maristela, in support of his aforementioned charge of unexplained wealth. Thereupon, petitioner objected, personally and through counsel, to said request of Col. Maristela and to the aforementioned order of the Committee, invoking his constitutional right against self-incrimination. The Committee insisted that petitioner take the witness stand and be sworn to, subject to his right to refuse to answer such questions as may be incriminatory. This notwithstanding, petitioner respectfully refused to be sworn to as a witness to take the witness stand. Hence, in a communication dated September 18, 1961, the Committee referred the matter to respondent City Fiscal of Manila, for such action as he may deem proper. On September 28, 1961, the City Fiscal filed with the Court of First Instance of Manila a "charge" reading as follows: The undersigned hereby charges Manuel F. Cabal with contempt under section 580 of the Revised Administrative Code in relation to sections I and 7, Rule 64 of the Rules of Court, committed as follows: That on or about September 15, 1961, in the investigation conducted at the U.P. Little Theater:, Padre Faura, Manila, by the Presidential Committee, which was created by the President of the Republic of the Philippines in accordance with law to investigate the charges of alleged acquisition by respondent of unexplained wealth and composed of Justice Marceliano Montemayor, as Chairman, and Justices Buenaventura Ocampo and Sotero Cabahug and Generals Basilio Valdez and Guillermo Francisco, as members, with the power, among others, to compel the attendance of witnesses and take their testimony under oath, respondent who was personally present at the time before the Committee in compliance with a subpoena duly issued to him, did then and there willfully, unlawfully, and contumaciously, without any justifiable cause or reason refusal and fail and still refuses and fails to obey the lawful order of the Committee to take the witness stand, be sworn and testify as witness in said investigation, in utter disregard of the lawful authority of the Committee and thereby obstructing and degrading the proceedings before said body. Wherefore, it is respectfully prayed that respondent be summarily adjudged guilty of contempt of the Presidential Committee and accordingly disciplined as in contempt of court imprisonment until such time as he shall obey the subject order of said committee. This charge, docketed as Criminal Case No. 60111 of said court, was assigned to Branch XVIII thereof, presided over by respondent Judge. On October 2, 1961, the latter issued an order requiring petitioner to show cause and/or answer the charge filed against him within ten (10) days. Soon thereafter, or on October 4, 1961, petitioner filed with respondent Judge a motion to quash the charge and/or order to show cause, upon the ground: (1) that the City Fiscal has neither authority nor personality to file said char and the same is null and void, for, if criminal, the charge has been filed without a preliminary investigation, and, civil, the City Fiscal may not file it, his authority in respect of civil cases being limited to representing the City of Manila; (2) that the facts charged constitute no offense for section 580 of the Revised Administrative Code, upon which the charge is based, violates due process, in that it is vague and uncertain as regards the offense therein defined and the fine imposable therefor and that it fail to specify whether said offense shall be treated also contempt of an inferior court or of a superior court (3) that more than one offense is charged, for the contempt imputed to petitioner is sought to be punished as contempt of an inferior court, as contempt of a superior court an as contempt under section 7 of Rule 64 of the Rules Court; (4) that the Committee had no power to order an require petitioner to take the witness stand and be sworn to, upon the request of Col. Maristela, as witness for the latter, inasmuch as said order violates petitioner's constitutional right against selfincrimination. By resolution dated October 14, 1961. respondent Judge denied said motion to quash. Thereupon, or on October 20, 1961, petitioner began the present action for the purpose adverted to above, alleging that, unless restrained by this court, respondent Judge may summarily punish him for contempt, and that such action would not be appealable. In their answer, respondents herein allege, inter alia, that the investigation being conducted by the Committee above referred to is administrative, not criminal, in nature; that the legal provision relied upon by petitioner in relation to preliminary investigations (Section '08-C, Republic Act No. 409, as amended by Republic Act No. 1201) is inapplicable to contempt proceedings; that, under section 580 of the Revised Administrative Code. contempt against an administrative officer is to be dealt with as contempt of a superior court; that petitioner herein is charged with only one offense; and that, tinder the constitutional guarantee against self-incrimination, petitioner herein may refuse, not to take the witness stand, but to answer incriminatory questions. At the outset, it is not disputed that the accused in a criminal case may refuse, not only to answer incriminatory questions, but, also, to take the witness stand (3 Wharton's Criminal Evidence, pp. 1959-1960; 98 C.J.S., p. 264). Hence, the issue before us boils down to whether or not the proceedings before the aforementioned Committee is civil or criminal in character. In this connection, it should be noted that, although said Committee was created to investigate the administrative charge of unexplained wealth, there seems to be no question that Col. Maristela does not seek the removal of petitioner herein as Chief of Staff of the Armed Forces of the Philippines. As a matter of fact he no longer holds such office. It seems, likewise conceded that the purpose of the charge against petitioner is to apply the provisions of Republic Act No. 1379, as amended, otherwise known as the Anti-Graft Law, which authorizes the forfeiture to the State of property of a public officer or employee which is manifestly out of proportion to his salary as such public officer or employee and his other lawful income and the income from legitimately acquired property. Such for forfeiture has been held, however, to partake of the nature of a penalty. In a strict signification, a forfeiture is a divestiture property without compensation, in consequence of a default an offense, and the term is used in such a sense in this article. A forfeiture, as thus defined, is imposed by way of punishment not by the mere convention of the parties, but by the lawmaking power, to insure a prescribed course of conduct. It is a method deemed necessary by the legislature to restrain the commission of an offense and to aid in the prevention of such a offense. The effect of such a forfeiture is to transfer the title to the specific thing from the owner to the sovereign power (23 Am. Jur. 599) (Emphasis ours.)

In Black's Law Dictionary a "forfeiture" is defined to be "the incurring of a liability to pay a definite sum of money as the consequence of violating the provisions of some statute or refusal to comply with some requirement of law." It may be said to be a penalty imposed for misconduct or breach of duty. (Com. vs. French, 114 S.W. 255.) As a consequence, proceedings for forfeiture of proper are deemed criminal or penal, and, hence, the exemption of defendants in criminal case from the obligation to be witnesses against themselves are applicable thereto. Generally speaking, informations for the forfeiture of goods that seek no judgment of fine or imprisonment against any person are deemed to be civil proceedings in rem. Such proceedings are criminal in nature to the extent that where the person using the res illegally is the owner or rightful possessor of it, the forfeiture proceeding is in the nature of a punishment. They have been held to be so far in the nature criminal proceedings that a general verdict on several count in an information is upheld if one count is good. According to the authorities such proceedings, where the owner of the property appears, are so far considered as quasi-criminal proceeding as to relieve the owner from being a witness against himself and to prevent the compulsory production of his books and papers. ... (23 Am. Jur. 612; emphasis ours.) Although the contrary view formerly obtained, the late decisions are to the effect that suits for forfeitures incurred by the commission of offenses against the law are so far of quasi-criminal nature as to be within the reason of criminal proceedings for all purposes of ... that portion of the Fifth Amendment which declares that no person shall be compelled in any criminal case to be a witness against himself. .... It has frequently been held upon constitutional grounds under the various State Constitution, that a witness or party called as witness cannot be made to testify against himself as to matters which would subject his property to forfeiture. At early common law no person could be compelled to testify against himself or to answer any question which would have had a tendency to expose his property to a forfeiture or to form a link in a chain of evidence for that purpose, as well as to incriminate him. Under this common-law doctrine of protection against compulsory disclosures which would tend to subject the witness to forfeiture, such protection was claimed and availed of in some early American cases without placing the basis of the protection upon constitutional grounds. (23 Am. Jur., 616; emphasis ours.) Proceedings for forfeitures are generally considered to be civil and in the nature of proceedings in rem. The statute providing that no judgment or other proceedings in civil cases shall be arrested or reversed for any defect or want of form is applicable to them. In some aspects, however, suits for penalties and forfeitures are of quasi-criminal nature and within the reason of criminal proceedings for all the purposes of ... that portion of the Fifth Amendment which declares, that no person shall be compelled in any criminal case to be a witness against himself. The proceeding is one against the owner, as well as against the goods; for it is his breach of the laws which has to be proved to establish the forfeiture and his property is sought to be forfeited. (15 Am. Jur., Sec. 104, p. 368; emphasis ours.)lawphil.net The rule protecting a person from being compelled to furnish evidence which would incriminate him exists not only when he is liable criminally to prosecution and punishment, but also when his answer would tend to expose him to a ... forfeiture .... (58 Am. Jur., See. 43, p. 48; emphasis ours.) As already observed, the various constitutions provide that no person shall be compelled in any criminal case to be a witness against himself. This prohibition against compelling a person to take the stand as a witness against himself applied only to criminal, quasi-criminal, and penal proceedings, including a proceeding civil in form for forfeiture of property by reason of the commission of an offense, but not a proceeding in which the penalty recoverable is civil or remedial in nature, .... (58 Am. Jur., Sec. 44, p. 49: emphasis ours.) The privilege of a witness not to incriminate himself is not infringed by merely asking the witness a question which he refuses to answer. The privilege is simply an option of refusal, and not a prohibition of inquiry. A question is not improper merely because the answer may tend to incriminate but, where a witness exercises his constitutional right not to answer, a question by counsel as to whether the reason for refusing to answer is because the answer may tend to incriminate the witness is improper. The possibility that the examination of the witness will be pursued to the extent of requiring self-incrimination will not justify the refusal to answer questions. However, where the position of the witness is virtually that of an accused on trial, it would appear that he may invoke the privilege in support of a blanket refusal to answer any and all questions. (C.J.S., p. 252; emphasis ours.) A person may not be compelled to testify in an action against him for a penalty or to answer any question as a witness which would subject him to a penalty or forfeiture, where the penalty or forfeiture is imposed as a vindication of the public justice of the state. In general, both at common law and under a constitution provision against compulsory self-incrimination, a person may not be compelled to answer any question as a witness which would subject him to a penalty or forfeiture, or testify in action against him for a penalty. The privilege applies where the penalty or forfeiture recoverable, or is imposed in vindication of the public justice the state as a statutory fine or penalty, or a fine or penalty for violation of a municipal ordinance, even though the action or proceeding for its enforcement is not brought in a criminal court but is prosecuted through the modes of procedure applicable to ordinary civil remedy. (98 C. J. S., pp. 275-6.) Thus, in Boyd vs. U.S. (116 U.S. 616, 29 L. ed. 746), it was held that the information, in a proceeding to declaration a forfeiture of certain property because of the evasion of a certain revenue law, "though technically a civil proceeding is in substance and effect a criminal one", and that suits for penalties and forfeitures are within the reason criminal proceedings for the purposes of that portion the Fifth Amendment of the Constitution of the U.S. which declares that no person shall be compelled in a criminal case to be a witness against himself. Similarly, a proceeding for the removal of an officer was held, in Thurston vs. Clark (107 Cal. 285, 40 pp. 435, 437), to be in substance criminal, for said portion of the Fifth Amendment applies "to all cases in which the action prosecution is not to establish, recover or redress private and civil rights, but to try and punish persons charged with the commission of public offenses" and "a criminal case is a action, suit or cause instituted to punish an infraction the criminal laws, and, with this object in view, it matters not in what form a statute may clothe it; it is still a criminal case ...". This view was, in effect confirmed in Lees vs. U.S. (37 L. ed. 1150-1151). Hence, the Lawyer Reports Annotated (Vol. 29, p. 8), after an extensive examination of pertinent cases, concludes that said constitutional provision applies whenever the proceeding is not "purely remedial", or intended "as a redress for a private grievance", but primarily to punish "a violation of duty or a public wrong and to deter others from offending in likewise manner. ...". We are unmindful of the doctrine laid down in Almeda vs. Perez, L-18428 (August 30, 1962) in which the theory that, after the filing of respondents' answer to a petition for forfeiture under Republic Act No. 1379, said petition may not be amended as to substance pursuant to our rules of criminal procedure, was rejected by this Court upon the ground that said forfeiture proceeding in civil in nature. This doctrine refers, however, to the purely procedural aspect of said proceeding, and has no bearing the substantial rights of the respondents therein, particularly their constitutional right against self-incrimination.

WHEREFORE, the writ prayed for is granted and respondent Judge hereby enjoined permanently from proceeding further in Criminal Case No. 60111 of the Court of First Instance of Manila. It is so ordered. G.R. No. 74225 April 17, 1989 REPUBLIC OF THE PHILIPPINES, petitioner,vs. INTERMEDIATE APPELLATE COURT, SIMPLICIO BERDON, GAUDIOSA BERDON and LUIS BERDON, respondents. CORTES, J.: The Republic assails as erroneous the decision of the Intermediate Appellate Court affirming that of the Court of First Instance which dismissed the petition for forfeiture of unexplained wealth under Republic Act No. 1379 filed against private respondents herein. The dismissed petition charged Simplicio Berdon, an Assistant Staff Civil Engineer assigned to Regional Office No. VII of the Bureau of Public Highways in Cebu City, with having acquired unexplained wealth in violation of Republic Act No. 1379. It alleged that during the period from 1963 to 1969 he and his wife Gaudiosa Mangubat Berdon purchased parcels of land and constructed a house, the purchase prices and costs of which were not commensurate to their incomes, savings or declared assets. Pleaded as defendants in the petition were Berdon, his wife, and Luis Berdon, his father. Petitioner Republic of the Philippines, which valued the unexplained wealth at P124,495.82, thus sought the forfeiture of the properties and the issuance of a writ of attachment. Upon orders of the trial court, the properties enumerated in the petition were attached. During the course of the trial, the following evidence was adduced by the parties: xxx xxx xxx The evidence for the petitioner as testified to by Joselito Magno and Atty. David Macayayong may be summarized as follows: That on the basis of a letter complaint sent to the Office of the President by a certain George Valde against Simplicio Berdon, the Complaint and Investigation Office, Malacaang, Manila, sent Joselito Magno and Atty. David Macayayong to conduct an actual field investigation on Mr. Simplicio Berdon. Both investigators went to Cebu City, Danao City and the Northern Towns of Bogo and Borbon, Cebu and secured pertinent documents relative to the case such as the service record of the respondent Simplicio Berdon (Exh. 'B') copies of sworn statement of financial condition, assets, income and liabilities of respondent-spouses Berdon, Exhibit "C" for the year 1962; Exhibit "D" for 1963; Exhibit "E" for 1965; Exhibit "F" for 1967 and Exhibit "G" for 1969. Copies of documents regarding the acquisition of respondent Simplicio Berdon were also obtained, to wit: Exhibit 'H' which is a Deed of Absolute Sale of a parcel of land in favor of respondents-spouses Berdon for a consideration of P3,700.00 executed on July 19,1967; Exh. "I" is a contract to sell by installments of a parcel of land of the Singson Village Subdivision, Cebu City, in favor of respondent Simplicio Berdon for a monthly installment of P107.00, more or less, and with a total consideration of P9,000.00; Exh. "J" is a Deed of Absolute Sale of a parcel of agricultural land dated September 6,1967 also in favor of respondent Simplicio Berdon for a consideration of P3,000.00; Exh. "K" is another Deed of Absolute Sale of a parcel of land situated in Cebu City, containing an area of 623 square meters in favor of respondent Simplicio Berdon for the sum of P15,825.00 executed on November 9, 1967; Exh. "L" is a Deed of Sale With Right to Repurchase within a period of 5 years of a parcel of agricultural land situated at Managasa, Borbon, Cebu executed by Fidel Sepulveda in favor of respondent Simplicio Berdon on November 27, 1967 for a consideration of P5,000.00; Exh. 'M' is another Deed of Sale with Right to Repurchase within the period of three (3) years of a parcel of agricultural land also situated at Managasa, Borbon, Cebu, executed by Felicidad S. Guiachon on December 7, 1967 in favor of respondent Simplicio Berdon for a consideration of P3,000.00; Exh. "N-1" is a Deed of Absolute Sale of a parcel of agricultural land situated in Managasa, Borbon, Cebu, executed by Elias M. Dosdos on December 17, 1967 in favor of respondent Simplicio Berdon for the sum of P25,000.00; Exh. "Y" is a Deed of Sale with Right to Repurchase executed by Felicidad S. Guiachon on July 4, 1968 in favor of respondent Simplicio Berdon for a sum of P5,000.00; Exh. "P" is another Deed of Sale with Right to Repurchase executed by Fidel Sepulveda on November 8, 1968 in favor of Simplicio Berdon for the sum of P10,000. 00 and Exh. "O" refer to a Deed of Absolute Sale dated November 18, 1969 of a parcel of land situated at Bogo, Cebu in favor of respondent Simplicio Berdon; Exh. "S" refer to a Deed of Extrajudicial partition of a parcel of land acquired by respondent Luis Berdon for a consideration of P1,000.00. This parcel of land is included since the respondent Luis Berdon had no known source of income and this land must have been purchased by the respondent Simplicio Berdon but under the name of respondent Berdon; and Exh. "R" is a Declaration of Real Property, a residential house of strong materials owned by respondent Simplicio Berdon with an assessed value of P34,480.00. An analysis and evaluation of respondent Simplicio Berdon's financial condition, income, assets and liabilities reflected in Exhs. "C", "D", "E", "F" and "G" from 1962 to 1969 show an unexplained total income of P105,495.92. Not included in the computation is the sum of P1,000.00 which was the consideration of the parcel of land purchased in the name of respondent Luis Berdon so that the total unexplained income of respondent Simplicio Berdon for the years 1962 to 1969 is P109,495.92. The total amounts paid by respondents spouses in the several real properties purchased and/or constructed by them amounts to P101,305.00 as shown in Exhs. "H", "I" , "J" , "K", "L", "M", "N-1", "O" and "P", "Q" and "R" plus the aforementioned sum of P1,000.00 purchased for a parcel of land in the name of Luis Berdon (Exh. 'S'). Since the money used to purchase those real properties came from an unexplained income these properties should be forfeited in favor of the state. The evidence for the respondents as testified to by respondents spouses Simplicio Berdon and Gaudiosa Mangubat Berdon is as follows: Respondent Mrs. Berdon is employed as a pharmacist at the Danao General Hospital (Exh. '4'). Her parents who have several landholdings in the municipality of Borbon, Cebu (Exh. '9') extended to respondents spouses a loan in the sum of P5,000.00 (Exh. '10-A') to buy the house and lot in Danao City. Aside from this amount respondents spouses were given by Mrs. Berdon's mother the sum of P3,000.00 to repair said house which was already very dilapidated. Respondents deny having owned a moviehouse in Bogo, Cebu. Moreover, Mrs. Romualda Mangubat, respondent Mrs. Berdon's mother, owns the moviehouse. Respondent Simplicio Berdon testified that he started in the government service as construction foreman in the year 1955. Since then he has been in the government service and rose from the ranks when he was promoted to the position of Assistant Staff Civil Engineer in the Ministry of Public Highways, Region 7. Aside from respondents spouses' income as government employees they have also other income, and for which they have paid taxes thereon under Presidential Decree 370 (Exhs. '12' and '12- A') and Presidential Decree 631 (Exhs. '13' & '13-A'). In respondents-spouses' statement of assets and liabilities as of December 31, 1967, the P20,000.00 disbursed as insurance premiums was erroneous. This amount represents the face value of the insurance policy of respondent Simplicio Berdon (Exh.'15'). Insurance premiums should have been only P427.66 semi-annually (Exh. '15-A'). The respondent Simplicio Berdon also denied petitioner's allegation that the purchase price of the parcel of land he bought from a certain Elias Dosdos was P45,000.00. The truth is that he paid only P25,000.00 as shown in Exhs. "16" & "16-A". The residential house of respondents spouses situated in Lahug, Cebu City, actually costs about P25,000.00 as shown in the building permit of said house (Exhs.

'17' and '17-A') and respondents spouses were able to obtain a real estate loan of P14,000.00 from the GSIS to finance the construction of said building (Exhs. '18' & '19'). Sometime on November 7, 1967, the respondent Simplicio Berdon obtained a personal loan from former Congressman Ramon Durano in the sum of P100,000.00 under a Memorandum of Agreement (Exhs. '20') which amount he used to purchase the several parcels of agricultural lands in 1967 and 1968. The marriage contract of the respondents spouses marked Exh. "21" showed that Congressman and Mrs. Durano stood as sponsors of the wedding of respondents spouses. Defendants spouses had also obtained a loan from the Development Bank of the Philippines (Exh. '22') which they used to purchase the lot in Bogo, Cebu containing an area of 359 sq. m. (Exh. '23') mentioned in petitioner's Exh. "O". Respondent Luis Berdon was not presented. However, Exhibit "11" which is a medical certificate issued by the municipal health officer of Bordon, Cebu was presented to show that the general physical condition of the respondent Luis Berdon cannot sustain long distance land travel. Exhs. "5" and "9" were also presented showing that the respondent Luis Berdon is a retired school teacher and a declared owner of several parcels of land situated in Bordon, Cebu, respectively. (pp. 67-76, Record on Appeal). [IAC Decision, pp. 3-7; Rollo, pp. 34-38.] On the basis of the aforesaid evidence, the trial court dismissed the petition, holding that respondents have no unexplained wealth. The Republic appealed the trial court's decision to the Intermediate Appellate Court. The appellate court, finding no reversible error in the decision appealed from, affirmed said decision. Said court found that, on the basis of the evidence presented, "the assets acquired by the respondentspouses in excess of their income and receipts from their employment in the Government were satisfactorily explained, thus justifying the conclusion of the trial court that respondent-spouses do not have unexplained wealth subject to forfeiture under Republic Act 1379." [IAC Decision, p. 7; Rollo, p. 38.] Hence, the instant recourse by the Republic to this Court through a petition to review the appellate court's decision. Republic Act No. 1379, entitled "An Act Declaring Forfeiture in Favor of the State of Any Property Found to Have Been Unlawfully Acquired By Any Public Officer or Employee and Providing for the Procedure Thereof," provides inter alia: Sec. 2. Filing of petition. Whenever any public officer or employee has acquired during his incumbency an amount of property which is manifestly out of proportion to his salary as such public officer or employee and to his other lawful income from legitimately acquired property, said property shall be presumed prima facie to have been unlawfully acquired.... xxx xxx xxx Sec. 6. Judgment. If the respondent is unable to show to the satisfaction of the court that he has lawfully acquired the property in question, then the court shall declare such property, forfeited in favor of the State, and by virtue of such judgment the property aforesaid shall become property of the State: Provided, That no judgment shall be released within six months before any general election or within three months before any special election. The Court may, in addition, refer this case to the corresponding Executive Department for administrative or criminal action, or both. xxx xxx xxx Clear from these provisions is that the law creates a presumption against the public officer or employee who acquires property grossly disproportionate to his income, i.e. that the property was unlawfully acquired. However, this presumption is juris tantum. It may be rebutted by the public officer or employee by showing to the satisfaction of the court that his acquisition of the property was lawful. In the instant case, both the trial and the appellate courts had found satisfactory the private respondents' explanation of their acquisition of the properties and consequently held that they do not have any unexplained wealth as contemplated by the law. The Solicitor General contends that the findings of the appellate court are not supported by the evidence and, hence, should not bind the Court. The Court finds the contention unmeritorious, as the evidence indeed obviates a finding of unexplained wealth. The Court has carefully gone over the evidence presented by private respondents, and like the trial court and the Intermediate Appellate Court, finds the acquisition of the subject properties satisfactorily explained. While respondent spouses had acquired properties and constructed a house the costs of which were disproportionate to their combined incomes from their employment in the government it had been proved that such were financed through a donation and loans, to wit: (1) a P3,000.00 donation and a P5,000.00 loan from the parents of Mrs. Berdon who owned several parcels of land and a moviehouse [TSN, October 3,1979, pp. 11-17; Exh. "9"]; (2) a P14,000.00 loan from the Government Service Insurance System [Exhs. "18" and "19"]; (3) a P6,000.00 loan from the Development Bank of the Philippines [TSN, November 21, 1979, pp. 21-22; Exhs. "22" and "23"]; and, (4) a P100,000.00 loan from Congressman Ramon Durano, a wedding sponsor of respondent spouses [TSN, November 20, 1979, pp. 18-19; Exh. "21"], for the purchase of agricultural land to be planted with sugarcane (although only a total amount of approximately P60,000.00 was actually released) [TSN, November 21, 1979, pp. 17-19; Exh. "20"]. The Solicitor General also makes much of the fact that the statements of assets and liabilities filed by private respondent Simplicio Berdon covering the years material to the case did not accurately reflect the donation and the loans granted to private respondent spouses and that Simplicio's testimony in effect contradicts the entries in said statements. It must be emphasized, however, that in determining whether or not there is unexplained wealth within the purview of R.A. No. 1379 the courts are not bound by the statements of assets and liabilities filed by the respondent. ** On the contrary, this statute affords the respondent every opportunity to explain, to the satisfaction of the court, how he had acquired the property in question [Sec. 5, R.A. No. 1379.]

In sum, the presumption under See. 2 of R.A. No. 1379 that the subject properties were unlawfully acquired had been successfully rebutted by private respondents through competent evidence. Hence, the Intermediate Appellate Court did not err in affirming the trial court's decision dismissing the Republic's petition. WHEREFORE, no reversible error having been committed by the Intermediate Appellate Court, the instant petition is hereby DENIED and its decision dated March 31, 1986 is AFFIRMED. REPUBLIC ACT No. 3019 ANTI-GRAFT AND CORRUPT PRACTICES ACT Section 1. Statement of policy. It is the policy of the Philippine Government, in line with the principle that a public office is a public trust, to repress certain acts of public officers and private persons alike which constitute graft or corrupt practices or which may lead thereto. Section 2. Definition of terms. As used in this Act, that term (a) "Government" includes the national government, the local governments, the government-owned and government-controlled corporations, and all other instrumentalities or agencies of the Republic of the Philippines and their branches. (b) "Public officer" includes elective and appointive officials and employees, permanent or temporary, whether in the classified or unclassified or exempt service receiving compensation, even nominal, from the government as defined in the preceding subparagraph. (c) "Receiving any gift" includes the act of accepting directly or indirectly a gift from a person other than a member of the public officer's immediate family, in behalf of himself or of any member of his family or relative within the fourth civil degree, either by consanguinity or affinity, even on the occasion of a family celebration or national festivity like Christmas, if the value of the gift is under the circumstances manifestly excessive. (d) "Person" includes natural and juridical persons, unless the context indicates otherwise. Section 3. Corrupt practices of public officers. In addition to acts or omissions of public officers already penalized by existing law, the following shall constitute corrupt practices of any public officer and are hereby declared to be unlawful: (a) Persuading, inducing or influencing another public officer to perform an act constituting a violation of rules and regulations duly promulgated by competent authority or an offense in connection with the official duties of the latter, or allowing himself to be persuaded, induced, or influenced to commit such violation or offense. (b) Directly or indirectly requesting or receiving any gift, present, share, percentage, or benefit, for himself or for any other person, in connection with any contract or transaction between the Government and any other part, wherein the public officer in his official capacity has to intervene under the law. (c) Directly or indirectly requesting or receiving any gift, present or other pecuniary or material benefit, for himself or for another, from any person for whom the public officer, in any manner or capacity, has secured or obtained, or will secure or obtain, any Government permit or license, in consideration for the help given or to be given, without prejudice to Section thirteen of this Act. (d) Accepting or having any member of his family accept employment in a private enterprise which has pending official business with him during the pendency thereof or within one year after its termination. (e) Causing any undue injury to any party, including the Government, or giving any private party any unwarranted benefits, advantage or preference in the discharge of his official administrative or judicial functions through manifest partiality, evident bad faith or gross inexcusable negligence. This provision shall apply to officers and employees of offices or government corporations charged with the grant of licenses or permits or other concessions. (f) Neglecting or refusing, after due demand or request, without sufficient justification, to act within a reasonable time on any matter pending before him for the purpose of obtaining, directly or indirectly, from any person interested in the matter some pecuniary or material benefit or advantage, or for the purpose of favoring his own interest or giving undue advantage in favor of or discriminating against any other interested party. (g) Entering, on behalf of the Government, into any contract or transaction manifestly and grossly disadvantageous to the same, whether or not the public officer profited or will profit thereby. (h) Director or indirectly having financing or pecuniary interest in any business, contract or transaction in connection with which he intervenes or takes part in his official capacity, or in which he is prohibited by the Constitution or by any law from having any interest. (i) Directly or indirectly becoming interested, for personal gain, or having a material interest in any transaction or act requiring the approval of a board, panel or group of which he is a member, and which exercises discretion in such approval, even if he votes against the same or does not participate in the action of the board, committee, panel or group. Interest for personal gain shall be presumed against those public officers responsible for the approval of manifestly unlawful, inequitable, or irregular transaction or acts by the board, panel or group to which they belong. (j) Knowingly approving or granting any license, permit, privilege or benefit in favor of any person not qualified for or not legally entitled to such license, permit, privilege or advantage, or of a mere representative or dummy of one who is not so qualified or entitled. (k) Divulging valuable information of a confidential character, acquired by his office or by him on account of his official position to unauthorized persons, or releasing such information in advance of its authorized release date. The person giving the gift, present, share, percentage or benefit referred to in subparagraphs (b) and (c); or offering or giving to the public officer the employment mentioned in subparagraph (d); or urging the divulging or untimely release of the confidential information referred to in subparagraph (k)

of this section shall, together with the offending public officer, be punished under Section nine of this Act and shall be permanently or temporarily disqualified in the discretion of the Court, from transacting business in any form with the Government. Section 4. Prohibition on private individuals. (a) It shall be unlawful for any person having family or close personal relation with any public official to capitalize or exploit or take advantage of such family or close personal relation by directly or indirectly requesting or receiving any present, gift or material or pecuniary advantage from any other person having some business, transaction, application, request or contract with the government, in which such public official has to intervene. Family relation shall include the spouse or relatives by consanguinity or affinity in the third civil degree. The word "close personal relation" shall include close personal friendship, social and fraternal connections, and professional employment all giving rise to intimacy which assures free access to such public officer. (b) It shall be unlawful for any person knowingly to induce or cause any public official to commit any of the offenses defined in Section 3 hereof. Section 5. Prohibition on certain relatives. It shall be unlawful for the spouse or for any relative, by consanguinity or affinity, within the third civil degree, of the President of the Philippines, the Vice-President of the Philippines, the President of the Senate, or the Speaker of the House of Representatives, to intervene, directly or indirectly, in any business, transaction, contract or application with the Government: Provided, That this section shall not apply to any person who, prior to the assumption of office of any of the above officials to whom he is related, has been already dealing with the Government along the same line of business, nor to any transaction, contract or application already existing or pending at the time of such assumption of public office, nor to any application filed by him the approval of which is not discretionary on the part of the official or officials concerned but depends upon compliance with requisites provided by law, or rules or regulations issued pursuant to law, nor to any act lawfully performed in an official capacity or in the exercise of a profession. Section 6. Prohibition on Members of Congress. It shall be unlawful hereafter for any Member of the Congress during the term for which he has been elected, to acquire or receive any personal pecuniary interest in any specific business enterprise which will be directly and particularly favored or benefited by any law or resolution authored by him previously approved or adopted by the Congress during the same term. The provision of this section shall apply to any other public officer who recommended the initiation in Congress of the enactment or adoption of any law or resolution, and acquires or receives any such interest during his incumbency. It shall likewise be unlawful for such member of Congress or other public officer, who, having such interest prior to the approval of such law or resolution authored or recommended by him, continues for thirty days after such approval to retain such interest. Section 7. Statement of assets and liabilities. Every public officer, within thirty days after the approval of this Act or after assuming office, and within the month of January of every other year thereafter, as well as upon the expiration of his term of office, or upon his resignation or separation from office, shall prepare and file with the office of the corresponding Department Head, or in the case of a Head of Department or chief of an independent office, with the Office of the President, or in the case of members of the Congress and the officials and employees thereof, with the Office of the Secretary of the corresponding House, a true detailed and sworn statement of assets and liabilities, including a statement of the amounts and sources of his income, the amounts of his personal and family expenses and the amount of income taxes paid for the next preceding calendar year: Provided, That public officers assuming office less than two months before the end of the calendar year, may file their statements in the following months of January. Section 8. Dismissal due to unexplained wealth. If in accordance with the provisions of Republic Act Numbered One thousand three hundred seventy-nine, a public official has been found to have acquired during his incumbency, whether in his name or in the name of other persons, an amount of property and/or money manifestly out of proportion to his salary and to his other lawful income, that fact shall be a ground for dismissal or removal. Properties in the name of the spouse and unmarried children of such public official may be taken into consideration, when their acquisition through legitimate means cannot be satisfactorily shown. Bank deposits shall be taken into consideration in the enforcement of this section, notwithstanding any provision of law to the contrary. Section 9. Penalties for violations. (a) Any public officer or private person committing any of the unlawful acts or omissions enumerated in Sections 3, 4, 5 and 6 of this Act shall be punished with imprisonment for not less than one year nor more than ten years, perpetual disqualification from public office, and confiscation or forfeiture in favor of the Government of any prohibited interest and unexplained wealth manifestly out of proportion to his salary and other lawful income. Any complaining party at whose complaint the criminal prosecution was initiated shall, in case of conviction of the accused, be entitled to recover in the criminal action with priority over the forfeiture in favor of the Government, the amount of money or the thing he may have given to the accused, or the value of such thing. (b) Any public officer violation any of the provisions of Section 7 of this Act shall be punished by a fine of not less than one hundred pesos nor more than one thousand pesos, or by imprisonment not exceeding one year, or by both such fine and imprisonment, at the discretion of the Court. The violation of said section proven in a proper administrative proceeding shall be sufficient cause for removal or dismissal of a public officer, even if no criminal prosecution is instituted against him. Section 10. Competent court. Until otherwise provided by law, all prosecutions under this Act shall be within the original jurisdiction of the proper Court of First Instance. Section 11. Prescription of offenses. All offenses punishable under this Act shall prescribe in ten years. Section 12. Termination of office. No public officer shall be allowed to resign or retire pending an investigation, criminal or administrative, or pending a prosecution against him, for any offense under this Act or under the provisions of the Revised Penal Code on bribery. Section 13. Suspension and loss of benefits. Any public officer against whom any criminal prosecution under a valid information under this Act or under the provisions of the Revised Penal Code on bribery is pending in court, shall be suspended from office. Should he be convicted by final judgment, he shall lose all retirement or gratuity benefits under any law, but if he is acquitted, he shall be entitled to reinstatement and to the salaries and benefits which he failed to receive during suspension, unless in the meantime administrative proceedings have been filed against him.

Section 14. Exception. Unsolicited gifts or presents of small or insignificant value offered or given as a mere ordinary token of gratitude or friendship according to local customs or usage, shall be excepted from the provisions of this Act. Nothing in this Act shall be interpreted to prejudice or prohibit the practice of any profession, lawful trade or occupation by any private person or by any public officer who under the law may legitimately practice his profession, trade or occupation, during his incumbency, except where the practice of such profession, trade or occupation involves conspiracy with any other person or public official to commit any of the violations penalized in this Act. Section 15. Separability clause. If any provision of this Act or the application of such provision to any person or circumstances is declared invalid, the remainder of the Act or the application of such provision to other persons or circumstances shall not be affected by such declaration. Section 16. Effectivity. This Act shall take effect on its approval, but for the purpose of determining unexplained wealth, all property acquired by a public officer since he assumed office shall be taken into consideration. Republic Act No. 6713 AN ACT ESTABLISHING A CODE OF CONDUCT AND ETHICAL STANDARDS FOR PUBLIC OFFICIALS AND EMPLOYEES, TO UPHOLD THE TIME-HONORED PRINCIPLE OF PUBLIC OFFICE BEING A PUBLIC TRUST, GRANTING INCENTIVES AND REWARDS FOR EXEMPLARY SERVICE, ENUMERATING PROHIBITED ACTS AND TRANSACTIONS AND PROVIDING PENALTIES FOR VIOLATIONS THEREOF AND FOR OTHER PURPOSES Section 1. Title. - This Act shall be known as the "Code of Conduct and Ethical Standards for Public Officials and Employees." Section 2. Declaration of Policies. - It is the policy of the State to promote a high standard of ethics in public service. Public officials and employees shall at all times be accountable to the people and shall discharge their duties with utmost responsibility, integrity, competence, and loyalty, act with patriotism and justice, lead modest lives, and uphold public interest over personal interest. Section 3. Definition of Terms. - As used in this Act, the term: (a) "Government" includes the National Government, the local governments, and all other instrumentalities, agencies or branches of the Republic of the Philippines including government-owned or controlled corporations, and their subsidiaries. (b) "Public Officials" includes elective and appointive officials and employees, permanent or temporary, whether in the career or non-career service, including military and police personnel, whether or not they receive compensation, regardless of amount. (c) "Gift" refers to a thing or a right to dispose of gratuitously, or any act or liberality, in favor of another who accepts it, and shall include a simulated sale or an ostensibly onerous disposition thereof. It shall not include an unsolicited gift of nominal or insignificant value not given in anticipation of, or in exchange for, a favor from a public official or employee. (d) "Receiving any gift" includes the act of accepting directly or indirectly, a gift from a person other than a member of his family or relative as defined in this Act, even on the occasion of a family celebration or national festivity like Christmas, if the value of the gift is neither nominal nor insignificant, or the gift is given in anticipation of, or in exchange for, a favor. (e) "Loan" covers both simple loan and commodatum as well as guarantees, financing arrangements or accommodations intended to ensure its approval. (f) "Substantial stockholder" means any person who owns, directly or indirectly, shares of stock sufficient to elect a director of a corporation. This term shall also apply to the parties to a voting trust. (g) "Family of public officials or employees" means their spouses and unmarried children under eighteen (18) years of age. (h) "Person" includes natural and juridical persons unless the context indicates otherwise. (i) "Conflict of interest" arises when a public official or employee is a member of a board, an officer, or a substantial stockholder of a private corporation or owner or has a substantial interest in a business, and the interest of such corporation or business, or his rights or duties therein, may be opposed to or affected by the faithful performance of official duty. (j) "Divestment" is the transfer of title or disposal of interest in property by voluntarily, completely and actually depriving or dispossessing oneself of his right or title to it in favor of a person or persons other than his spouse and relatives as defined in this Act. (k) "Relatives" refers to any and all persons related to a public official or employee within the fourth civil degree of consanguinity or affinity, including bilas, inso and balae. Section 4. Norms of Conduct of Public Officials and Employees. - (A) Every public official and employee shall observe the following as standards of personal conduct in the discharge and execution of official duties: (a) Commitment to public interest. - Public officials and employees shall always uphold the public interest over and above personal interest. All government resources and powers of their respective offices must be employed and used efficiently, effectively, honestly and economically, particularly to avoid wastage in public funds and revenues. (b) Professionalism. - Public officials and employees shall perform and discharge their duties with the highest degree of excellence, professionalism, intelligence and skill. They shall enter public service with utmost devotion and dedication to duty. They shall endeavor to discourage wrong perceptions of their roles as dispensers or peddlers of undue patronage. (c) Justness and sincerity. - Public officials and employees shall remain true to the people at all times. They must act with justness and sincerity and shall not discriminate against anyone, especially the poor and the underprivileged. They shall at all times respect the rights of others, and shall refrain from doing acts contrary to law, good morals, good customs, public policy, public order, public safety and public interest. They shall not

dispense or extend undue favors on account of their office to their relatives whether by consanguinity or affinity except with respect to appointments of such relatives to positions considered strictly confidential or as members of their personal staff whose terms are coterminous with theirs. (d) Political neutrality. - Public officials and employees shall provide service to everyone without unfair discrimination and regardless of party affiliation or preference. (e) Responsiveness to the public. - Public officials and employees shall extend prompt, courteous, and adequate service to the public. Unless otherwise provided by law or when required by the public interest, public officials and employees shall provide information of their policies and procedures in clear and understandable language, ensure openness of information, public consultations and hearings whenever appropriate, encourage suggestions, simplify and systematize policy, rules and procedures, avoid red tape and develop an understanding and appreciation of the socio-economic conditions prevailing in the country, especially in the depressed rural and urban areas. (f) Nationalism and patriotism. - Public officials and employees shall at all times be loyal to the Republic and to the Filipino people, promote the use of locally produced goods, resources and technology and encourage appreciation and pride of country and people. They shall endeavor to maintain and defend Philippine sovereignty against foreign intrusion. (g) Commitment to democracy. - Public officials and employees shall commit themselves to the democratic way of life and values, maintain the principle of public accountability, and manifest by deeds the supremacy of civilian authority over the military. They shall at all times uphold the Constitution and put loyalty to country above loyalty to persons or party. (h) Simple living. - Public officials and employees and their families shall lead modest lives appropriate to their positions and income. They shall not indulge in extravagant or ostentatious display of wealth in any form. (B) The Civil Service Commission shall adopt positive measures to promote (1) observance of these standards including the dissemination of information programs and workshops authorizing merit increases beyond regular progression steps, to a limited number of employees recognized by their office colleagues to be outstanding in their observance of ethical standards; and (2) continuing research and experimentation on measures which provide positive motivation to public officials and employees in raising the general level of observance of these standards. Section 5. Duties of Public Officials and Employees. - In the performance of their duties, all public officials and employees are under obligation to: (a) Act promptly on letters and requests. - All public officials and employees shall, within fifteen (15) working days from receipt thereof, respond to letters, telegrams or other means of communications sent by the public. The reply must contain the action taken on the request. (b) Submit annual performance reports. - All heads or other responsible officers of offices and agencies of the government and of governmentowned or controlled corporations shall, within forty-five (45) working days from the end of the year, render a performance report of the agency or office or corporation concerned. Such report shall be open and available to the public within regular office hours. (c) Process documents and papers expeditiously. - All official papers and documents must be processed and completed within a reasonable time from the preparation thereof and must contain, as far as practicable, not more than three (3) signatories therein. In the absence of duly authorized signatories, the official next-in-rank or officer in charge shall sign for and in their behalf. (d) Act immediately on the public's personal transactions. - All public officials and employees must attend to anyone who wants to avail himself of the services of their offices and must, at all times, act promptly and expeditiously. (e) Make documents accessible to the public. - All public documents must be made accessible to, and readily available for inspection by, the public within reasonable working hours. Section 6. System of Incentives and Rewards. - A system of annual incentives and rewards is hereby established in order to motivate and inspire public servants to uphold the highest standards of ethics. For this purpose, a Committee on Awards to Outstanding Public Officials and Employees is hereby created composed of the following: the Ombudsman and Chairman of the Civil Service Commission as Co-Chairmen, and the Chairman of the Commission on Audit, and two government employees to be appointed by the President, as members. It shall be the task of this Committee to conduct a periodic, continuing review of the performance of public officials and employees, in all the branches and agencies of Government and establish a system of annual incentives and rewards to the end that due recognition is given to public officials and employees of outstanding merit on the basis of the standards set forth in this Act. The conferment of awards shall take into account, among other things, the following: the years of service and the quality and consistency of performance, the obscurity of the position, the level of salary, the unique and exemplary quality of a certain achievement, and the risks or temptations inherent in the work. Incentives and rewards to government officials and employees of the year to be announced in public ceremonies honoring them may take the form of bonuses, citations, directorships in government-owned or controlled corporations, local and foreign scholarship grants, paid vacations and the like. They shall likewise be automatically promoted to the next higher position with the commensurate salary suitable to their qualifications. In case there is no next higher position or it is not vacant, said position shall be included in the budget of the office in the next General Appropriations Act. The Committee on Awards shall adopt its own rules to govern the conduct of its activities. Section 7. Prohibited Acts and Transactions. - In addition to acts and omissions of public officials and employees now prescribed in the Constitution and existing laws, the following shall constitute prohibited acts and transactions of any public official and employee and are hereby declared to be unlawful: (a) Financial and material interest. - Public officials and employees shall not, directly or indirectly, have any financial or material interest in any transaction requiring the approval of their office. (b) Outside employment and other activities related thereto. - Public officials and employees during their incumbency shall not: (1) Own, control, manage or accept employment as officer, employee, consultant, counsel, broker, agent, trustee or nominee in any private enterprise regulated, supervised or licensed by their office unless expressly allowed by law;

(2) Engage in the private practice of their profession unless authorized by the Constitution or law, provided, that such practice will not conflict or tend to conflict with their official functions; or (3) Recommend any person to any position in a private enterprise which has a regular or pending official transaction with their office. These prohibitions shall continue to apply for a period of one (1) year after resignation, retirement, or separation from public office, except in the case of subparagraph (b) (2) above, but the professional concerned cannot practice his profession in connection with any matter before the office he used to be with, in which case the one-year prohibition shall likewise apply. (c) Disclosure and/or misuse of confidential information. - Public officials and employees shall not use or divulge, confidential or classified information officially known to them by reason of their office and not made available to the public, either: (1) To further their private interests, or give undue advantage to anyone; or (2) To prejudice the public interest. (d) Solicitation or acceptance of gifts. - Public officials and employees shall not solicit or accept, directly or indirectly, any gift, gratuity, favor, entertainment, loan or anything of monetary value from any person in the course of their official duties or in connection with any operation being regulated by, or any transaction which may be affected by the functions of their office. As to gifts or grants from foreign governments, the Congress consents to: (i) The acceptance and retention by a public official or employee of a gift of nominal value tendered and received as a souvenir or mark of courtesy; (ii) The acceptance by a public official or employee of a gift in the nature of a scholarship or fellowship grant or medical treatment; or (iii) The acceptance by a public official or employee of travel grants or expenses for travel taking place entirely outside the Philippine (such as allowances, transportation, food, and lodging) of more than nominal value if such acceptance is appropriate or consistent with the interests of the Philippines, and permitted by the head of office, branch or agency to which he belongs. The Ombudsman shall prescribe such regulations as may be necessary to carry out the purpose of this subsection, including pertinent reporting and disclosure requirements. Nothing in this Act shall be construed to restrict or prohibit any educational, scientific or cultural exchange programs subject to national security requirements. Section 8. Statements and Disclosure. - Public officials and employees have an obligation to accomplish and submit declarations under oath of, and the public has the right to know, their assets, liabilities, net worth and financial and business interests including those of their spouses and of unmarried children under eighteen (18) years of age living in their households. (A) Statements of Assets and Liabilities and Financial Disclosure. - All public officials and employees, except those who serve in an honorary capacity, laborers and casual or temporary workers, shall file under oath their Statement of Assets, Liabilities and Net Worth and a Disclosure of Business Interests and Financial Connections and those of their spouses and unmarried children under eighteen (18) years of age living in their households. The two documents shall contain information on the following: (a) real property, its improvements, acquisition costs, assessed value and current fair market value; (b) personal property and acquisition cost; (c) all other assets such as investments, cash on hand or in banks, stocks, bonds, and the like; (d) liabilities, and; (e) all business interests and financial connections. The documents must be filed: (a) within thirty (30) days after assumption of office; (b) on or before April 30, of every year thereafter; and (c) within thirty (30) days after separation from the service. All public officials and employees required under this section to file the aforestated documents shall also execute, within thirty (30) days from the date of their assumption of office, the necessary authority in favor of the Ombudsman to obtain from all appropriate government agencies, including the Bureau of Internal Revenue, such documents as may show their assets, liabilities, net worth, and also their business interests and financial connections in previous years, including, if possible, the year when they first assumed any office in the Government. Husband and wife who are both public officials or employees may file the required statements jointly or separately. The Statements of Assets, Liabilities and Net Worth and the Disclosure of Business Interests and Financial Connections shall be filed by: (1) Constitutional and national elective officials, with the national office of the Ombudsman;

(2) Senators and Congressmen, with the Secretaries of the Senate and the House of Representatives, respectively; Justices, with the Clerk of Court of the Supreme Court; Judges, with the Court Administrator; and all national executive officials with the Office of the President. (3) Regional and local officials and employees, with the Deputy Ombudsman in their respective regions; (4) Officers of the armed forces from the rank of colonel or naval captain, with the Office of the President, and those below said ranks, with the Deputy Ombudsman in their respective regions; and (5) All other public officials and employees, defined in Republic Act No. 3019, as amended, with the Civil Service Commission. (B) Identification and disclosure of relatives. - It shall be the duty of every public official or employee to identify and disclose, to the best of his knowledge and information, his relatives in the Government in the form, manner and frequency prescribed by the Civil Service Commission. (C) Accessibility of documents. - (1) Any and all statements filed under this Act, shall be made available for inspection at reasonable hours. (2) Such statements shall be made available for copying or reproduction after ten (10) working days from the time they are filed as required by law. (3) Any person requesting a copy of a statement shall be required to pay a reasonable fee to cover the cost of reproduction and mailing of such statement, as well as the cost of certification. (4) Any statement filed under this Act shall be available to the public for a period of ten (10) years after receipt of the statement. After such period, the statement may be destroyed unless needed in an ongoing investigation. (D) Prohibited acts. - It shall be unlawful for any person to obtain or use any statement filed under this Act for: (a) any purpose contrary to morals or public policy; or (b) any commercial purpose other than by news and communications media for dissemination to the general public. Section 9. Divestment. - A public official or employee shall avoid conflicts of interest at all times. When a conflict of interest arises, he shall resign from his position in any private business enterprise within thirty (30) days from his assumption of office and/or divest himself of his shareholdings or interest within sixty (60) days from such assumption. The same rule shall apply where the public official or employee is a partner in a partnership. The requirement of divestment shall not apply to those who serve the Government in an honorary capacity nor to laborers and casual or temporary workers. Section 10. Review and Compliance Procedure. - (a) The designated Committees of both Houses of the Congress shall establish procedures for the review of statements to determine whether said statements which have been submitted on time, are complete, and are in proper form. In the event a determination is made that a statement is not so filed, the appropriate Committee shall so inform the reporting individual and direct him to take the necessary corrective action. (b) In order to carry out their responsibilities under this Act, the designated Committees of both Houses of Congress shall have the power within their respective jurisdictions, to render any opinion interpreting this Act, in writing, to persons covered by this Act, subject in each instance to the approval by affirmative vote of the majority of the particular House concerned. The individual to whom an opinion is rendered, and any other individual involved in a similar factual situation, and who, after issuance of the opinion acts in good faith in accordance with it shall not be subject to any sanction provided in this Act. (c) The heads of other offices shall perform the duties stated in subsections (a) and (b) hereof insofar as their respective offices are concerned, subject to the approval of the Secretary of Justice, in the case of the Executive Department and the Chief Justice of the Supreme Court, in the case of the Judicial Department. Section 11. Penalties. - (a) Any public official or employee, regardless of whether or not he holds office or employment in a casual, temporary, holdover, permanent or regular capacity, committing any violation of this Act shall be punished with a fine not exceeding the equivalent of six (6) months' salary or suspension not exceeding one (1) year, or removal depending on the gravity of the offense after due notice and hearing by the appropriate body or agency. If the violation is punishable by a heavier penalty under another law, he shall be prosecuted under the latter statute. Violations of Sections 7, 8 or 9 of this Act shall be punishable with imprisonment not exceeding five (5) years, or a fine not exceeding five thousand pesos (P5,000), or both, and, in the discretion of the court of competent jurisdiction, disqualification to hold public office. (b) Any violation hereof proven in a proper administrative proceeding shall be sufficient cause for removal or dismissal of a public official or employee, even if no criminal prosecution is instituted against him. (c) Private individuals who participate in conspiracy as co-principals, accomplices or accessories, with public officials or employees, in violation of this Act, shall be subject to the same penal liabilities as the public officials or employees and shall be tried jointly with them. (d) The official or employee concerned may bring an action against any person who obtains or uses a report for any purpose prohibited by Section 8 (D) of this Act. The Court in which such action is brought may assess against such person a penalty in any amount not to exceed twenty-five thousand pesos (P25,000). If another sanction hereunder or under any other law is heavier, the latter shall apply.

Section 12. Promulgation of Rules and Regulations, Administration and Enforcement of this Act. - The Civil Service Commission shall have the primary responsibility for the administration and enforcement of this Act. It shall transmit all cases for prosecution arising from violations of this Act to the proper authorities for appropriate action: Provided, however, That it may institute such administrative actions and disciplinary measures as may be warranted in accordance with law. Nothing in this provision shall be construed as a deprivation of the right of each House of Congress to discipline its Members for disorderly behavior. The Civil Service Commission is hereby authorized to promulgate rules and regulations necessary to carry out the provisions of this Act, including guidelines for individuals who render free voluntary service to the Government. The Ombudsman shall likewise take steps to protect citizens who denounce acts or omissions of public officials and employees which are in violation of this Act. Section 13. Provisions for More Stringent Standards. - Nothing in this Act shall be construed to derogate from any law, or any regulation prescribed by any body or agency, which provides for more stringent standards for its official and employees. Section 14. Appropriations. - The sum necessary for the effective implementation of this Act shall be taken from the appropriations of the Civil Service Commission. Thereafter, such sum as may be needed for its continued implementation shall be included in the annual General Appropriations Act. Section 15. Separability Clause. - If any provision of this Act or the application of such provision to any person or circumstance is declared invalid, the remainder of the Act or the application of such provision to other persons or circumstances shall not be affected by such declaration. Section 16. Repealing Clause. - All laws, decrees and orders or parts thereof inconsistent herewith, are deemed repealed or modified accordingly, unless the same provide for a heavier penalty. Section 17. Effectivity. - This Act shall take effect after thirty (30) days following the completion of its publication in the Official Gazette or in two (2) national newspapers of general circulation. G.R. No. L-20387 January 31, 1968 JESUS P. MORFE, plaintiff-appellee, vs. AMELITO R. MUTUC, as Executive Secretary, ET AL., defendants-appellants. FERNANDO, J.: Congress in 1960 enacted the Anti-Graft and Corrupt Practices Act 1 to deter public officials and employees from committing acts of dishonesty and improve the tone of morality in public service. It was declared to be the state policy "in line with the principle that a public office is a public trust, to repress certain acts of public officers and private persons alike which constitute graft or corrupt practices or which may lead thereto." 2 Nor was it the first statute of its kind to deal with such a grave problem in the public service that unfortunately has afflicted the Philippines in the postwar era. An earlier statute decrees the forfeiture in favor of the State of any property found to have been unlawfully acquired by any public officer or employee. 3 One of the specific provisions of the Anti-Graft and Corrupt Practices Act of 1960 is that every public officer, either within thirty (30) days after its approval or after his assumption of office "and within the month of January of every other year thereafter", as well as upon the termination of his position, shall prepare and file with the head of the office to which he belongs, "a true detailed and sworn statement of assets and liabilities, including a statement of the amounts and sources of his income, the amounts of his personal and family expenses and the amount of income taxes paid for the next preceding calendar: . . ." 4 In this declaratory relief proceeding, the periodical submission "within the month of January of every other year thereafter" of such sworn statement of assets and liabilities after an officer or employee had once bared his financial condition upon assumption of office was challenged for being violative of due process as an oppressive exercise of police power and as an unlawful invasion of the constitutional right to privacy, implicit in the ban against unreasonable search and seizure construed together with the prohibition against self-incrimination. The lower court in the decision appealed from sustained plaintiff, then as well as now, a judge of repute of a court of first instance. For it, such requirement of periodical submission of such sworn statement of assets and liabilities exceeds the permissible limit of the police power and is thus offensive to the due process clause. We do not view the matter thus and accordingly reverse the lower court. 1. The reversal could be predicated on the absence of evidence to rebut the presumption of validity. For in this action for declaratory relief filed with the Court of First Instance of Pangasinan on January 31, 1962, plaintiff, after asserting his belief "that it was a reasonable requirement for employment that a public officer make of record his assets and liabilities upon assumption of office and thereby make it possible thereafter to determine whether, after assuming his position in the public service, he accumulated assets grossly disproportionate to his reported incomes, the herein plaintiff [having] filed within the period of time fixed in the aforesaid Administrative Order No. 334 the prescribed sworn statement of financial condition, assets, income and liabilities, . . ." 5 maintained that the provision on the "periodical filing of sworn statement of financial condition, assets, income and liabilities after an officer or employee had once bared his financial condition, upon assumption of office, is oppressive and unconstitutional." 6 As earlier noted, both the protection of due process and the assurance of the privacy of the individual as may be inferred from the prohibition against unreasonable search and seizure and self-incrimination were relied upon. There was also the allegation that the above requirement amounts to "an insult to the personal integrity and official dignity" of public officials, premised as it is "on the unwarranted and derogatory assumption" that they are "corrupt at heart" and unless thus restrained by this periodical submission of the statements of "their financial condition, income, and expenses, they cannot be trusted to desist from committing the corrupt practices defined. . . ." 7 It was further asserted that there was no need for such a provision as "the income tax law and the tax census law also require statements which can serve to determine whether an officer or employee in this Republic has enriched himself out of proportion to his reported income." 8 Then on February 14, 1962, came an Answer of the then Executive Secretary and the then Secretary of Justice as defendants, where after practically admitting the facts alleged, they denied the erroneous conclusion of law and as one of the special affirmative defenses set forth: "1. That

when a government official, like plaintiff, accepts a public position, he is deemed to have voluntarily assumed the obligation to give information about his personal affair, not only at the time of his assumption of office but during the time he continues to discharge public trust. The private life of an employee cannot be segregated from his public life. . . ." 9 The answer likewise denied that there was a violation of his constitutional rights against self-incrimination as well as unreasonable search and seizure and maintained that "the provision of law in question cannot be attacked on the ground that it impairs plaintiff's normal and legitimate enjoyment of his life and liberty because said provision merely seeks to adopt a reasonable measure of insuring the interest or general welfare in honest and clean public service and is therefore a legitimate exercise of the police power." 10 On February 27, 1962, plaintiff filed a Motion for judgment on the pleadings as in his opinion all his material allegations were admitted. Then on March 10, 1962, an order was issued giving the parties thirty days within which to submit memoranda, but with or without them, the case was deemed submitted for decision the lower court being of the belief that "there is no question of facts, . . . the defendants [having admitted] all the material allegations of the complaint." 11 The decision, now on appeal, came on July 19, 1962, the lower court declaring "unconstitutional, null and void Section 7, Republic Act No. 3019, insofar as it required periodical submittal of sworn statements of financial conditions, assets and liabilities of an official or employee of the government after he had once submitted such a sworn statement upon assuming office; . . . ." 12 In Ermita-Malate Hotel and Motel Operators Association v. The Mayor of Manila, 13 it was the holding of this Court that in the absence of a factual foundation, the lower court deciding the matter purely "on the pleadings and the stipulation of facts, the presumption of validity must prevail." In the present case likewise there was no factual foundation on which the nullification of this section of the statute could be based. Hence as noted the decision of the lower court could be reversed on that ground. A more extended consideration is not inappropriate however, for as likewise made clear in the above Ermita-Malate Hotel case: "What cannot be stressed sufficiently is that if the liberty involved were freedom of the mind or the person, the standard for the validity of governmental acts is much more rigorous and exacting, but where the liberty curtailed affects at the most rights of property, the permissible scope of regulatory measure is wider." Moreover, in the Resolution denying the Motion for Reconsideration in the above case, we expressly affirmed: "This is not to discount the possibility of a situation where the nullity of a statute, executive order, or ordinance may not be readily apparent but the threat to constitutional rights, especially those involving the freedom of the mind, present and ominous." 14 In such an event therefore, "there should not be a rigid insistence on the requirement that evidence be presented." Also, in the same Resolution, Professor Freund was quoted thus: "In short, when freedom of the mind is imperiled by law, it is freedom that commands a momentum of respect; when property is imperiled, it is the lawmakers' judgment that commands respect. This dual standard may not precisely reverse the presumption of constitutionality in civil liberties cases, but obviously it does set up a hierarchy of values within the due process clause. 15 2. We inquire first whether or not by virtue of the above requirement for a periodical submission of sworn statement of assets and liabilities, there is an invasion of liberty protected by the due process clause. Under the Anti-Graft Act of 1960, after the statement of policy, 16 and definition of terms, 17 there is an enumeration of corrupt practices declared unlawful in addition to acts or omissions of public officers already penalized by existing law. They include persuading, inducing, or influencing another public officer to perform an act constituting a violation of rules and regulations duly promulgated by competent authority or an offense in connection with the official duties of the latter, or allowing himself to be persuaded, induced, or influenced to commit such violation or offense; requesting or receiving directly or indirectly any gift, present, share, percentage, or benefit, for himself, or for any other person, in connection with any contract or transaction between the government and any other party, wherein the public officer in his official capacity, has to intervene under the law; requesting or receiving directly or indirectly any gift, present, or other pecuniary or material benefit, for himself or for another, from any person for whom the public officer, in any manner or capacity, has secured or obtained, or will secure or obtain, any Government permit or license, in consideration for the help given or to be given; accepting or having any member of his family accept employment in a private enterprise which has pending official business with him during the pendency thereof or within one year after its termination; causing any undue injury to any party, including the Government, or giving any private party any unwarranted benefits, advantage or preference in the discharge of his official administrative or judicial functions through manifest partiality, evident bad faith or gross inexcusable negligence; neglecting or refusing, after due demand or request, without sufficient justification, to act within a reasonable time on any matter pending before him for the purpose of obtaining, directly or indirectly, from any person interested in the matter some pecuniary or material benefit or advantage, or for the purpose of favoring his own interest or giving undue advantage in favor of or discriminating against any other interested party; entering, on behalf of the Government, into any contract or transaction manifestly and grossly disadvantageous to the same, whether or not the public officer profited or will profit thereby; having directly or indirectly financial or pecuniary interest in any business, contract or transaction in connection with which he intervenes or takes part in his official capacity or in which he is prohibited by the Constitution or by any law from having any interests; becoming interested directly or indirectly, for personal gain, or having a material interest in any transaction or act requiring the approval of a board, panel or group of which he is a member, and which exercises discretion in such approval, even if he votes against the same or does not participate in such action; approving or granting knowingly any license, permit, privilege or benefit in favor of any person not qualified for or not legally entitled to such license, permit, privilege or advantage, or of a mere representative or dummy of one who is not so qualified or entitled and divulging valuable information of a confidential character, acquired by his office or by him on account of his official position to unauthorized persons, or releasing such information in advance of its authorized release date. 18 After which come the prohibition on private individuals, 19 prohibition on certain relatives, 20 and prohibition on Members of Congress. 21 Then there is this requirement of a statement of assets and liabilities, that portion requiring periodical submission being challenged here. 22 The other sections of the Act deal with dismissal due to unexplained wealth, reference being made to the previous statute, 23 penalties for violation, 24 the vesting of original jurisdiction in the Court of First Instance as the competent court, 25 the prescription of offenses, 26 the prohibition against any resignation or retirement pending investigation, criminal or administrative or pending a prosecution, 27 suspension and loss of benefits, 28 exception of unsolicited gifts or presents of small or insignificant value as well as recognition of legitimate practice of one's profession or trade or occupation, 29 the separability clause, 30 and its effectivity. 31 Nothing can be clearer therefore than that the Anti-Graft Act of 1960 like the earlier statute 32 was precisely aimed at curtailing and minimizing the opportunities for official corruption and maintaining a standard of honesty in the public service. It is intended to further promote morality in public administration. A public office must indeed be a public trust. Nobody can cavil at its objective; the goal to be pursued commands the assent of all. The conditions then prevailing called for norms of such character. The times demanded such a remedial device.

The statute was framed with that end in view. It is comprehensive in character, sufficiently detailed and explicit to make clear to all and sundry what practices were prohibited and penalized. More than that, an effort was made, so evident from even a cursory perusal thereof, to avoid evasions and plug loopholes. One such feature is the challenged section. Thereby it becomes much more difficult by those disposed to take advantage of their positions to commit acts of graft and corruption. While in the attainment of such public good, no infringement of constitutional rights is permissible, there must be a showing, clear, categorical, and undeniable, that what the Constitution condemns, the statute allows. More specifically, since that is the only question raised, is that portion of the statute requiring periodical submission of assets and liabilities, after an officer or employee had previously done so upon assuming office, so infected with infirmity that it cannot be upheld as valid? Or, in traditional terminology, is this requirement a valid exercise of the police power? In the aforesaid Ermita-Malate Hotel decision, 33 there is a reaffirmation of its nature and scope as embracing the power to prescribe regulations to promote the health, morals, education, good order, safety, or the general welfare of the people. It has been negatively put forth by Justice Malcolm as "that inherent and plenary power in the state which enables it to prohibit all things hurtful to the comfort, safety and welfare of society." 34 Earlier Philippine cases refer to police power as the power to promote the general welfare and public interest; 35 to enact such laws in relation to persons and property as may promote public health, public morals, public safety and the general welfare of each inhabitant; 36 to preserve public order and to prevent offenses against the state and to establish for the intercourse of citizen with citizen those rules of good manners and good neighborhood calculated to prevent conflict of rights. 37 In his work on due process, Mott 38 stated that the term police power was first used by Chief Justice Marshall. 39 As currently in use both in Philippine and American decisions then, police power legislation usually has reference to regulatory measures restraining either the rights to property or liberty of private individuals. It is undeniable however that one of its earliest definitions, valid then as well as now, given by Marshall's successor, Chief Justice Taney does not limit its scope to curtailment of rights whether of liberty or property of private individuals. Thus: "But what are the police powers of a State? They are nothing more or less than the powers of government inherent in every sovereignty to the extent of its dominions. And whether a State passes a quarantine law, or a law to punish offenses, or to establish courts of justice, or requiring certain instruments to be recorded, or to regulate commerce within its own limits, in every case it exercises the same power; that is to say, the power of sovereignty, the power to govern men and things within the limits of its domain." 40 Text writers like Cooley and Burdick were of a similar mind. 41 What is under consideration is a statute enacted under the police power of the state to promote morality in public service necessarily limited in scope to officialdom. May a public official claiming to be adversely affected rely on the due process clause to annul such statute or any portion thereof? The answer must be in the affirmative. If the police power extends to regulatory action affecting persons in public or private life, then anyone with an alleged grievance can invoke the protection of due process which permits deprivation of property or liberty as long as such requirement is observed. While the soundness of the assertion that a public office is a public trust and as such not amounting to property in its usual sense cannot be denied, there can be no disputing the proposition that from the standpoint of the security of tenure guaranteed by the Constitution the mantle of protection afforded by due process could rightfully be invoked. It was so implicitly held in Lacson v. Romero, 42 in line with the then pertinent statutory provisions 43 that procedural due process in the form of an investigation at which he must be given a fair hearing and an opportunity to defend himself must be observed before a civil service officer or employee may be removed. There was a reaffirmation of the view in even stronger language when this Court through Justice Tuason in Lacson v. Roque 44 declared that even without express provision of law, "it is established by the great weight of authority that the power of removal or suspension for cause can not, except by clear statutory authority, be exercised without notice and hearing." Such is likewise the import of a statement from the then Justice, now Chief Justice, Concepcion, speaking for the Court in Meneses v. Lacson; 45 "At any rate, the reinstatement directed in the decision appealed from does not bar such appropriate administrative action as the behaviour of petitioners herein may warrant, upon compliance with the requirements of due process." To the same effect is the holding of this Court extending the mantle of the security of tenure provision to employees of government-owned or controlled corporations entrusted with governmental functions when through Justice Padilla in Tabora v. Montelibano, 46 it stressed: "That safeguard, guarantee, or feeling of security that they would hold their office or employment during good behavior and would not be dismissed without justifiable cause to be determined in an investigation, where an opportunity to be heard and defend themselves in person or by counsel is afforded them, would bring about such a desirable condition." Reference was there made to promoting honesty and efficiency through an assurance of stability in their employment relation. It was to be expected then that through Justice Labrador in Unabia v. City Mayor, 47 this Court could categorically affirm: "As the removal of petitioner was made without investigation and without cause, said removal is null and void. . . ." It was but logical therefore to expect an explicit holding of the applicability of due process guaranty to be forthcoming. It did in Cammayo v. Via, 48 where the opinion of Justice Endencia for the Court contained the following unmistakable language: "Evidently, having these facts in view, it cannot be pretended that the constitutional provision of due process of law for the removal of the petitioner has not been complied with." Then came this restatement of the principle from the pen of Justice J.B.L. Reyes "We are thus compelled to conclude that the positions formerly held by appellees were not primarily confidential in nature so as to make their terms of office co-terminal with the confidence reposed in them. The inevitable corollary is that respondents-appellees, Leon Piero, et al., were not subject to dismissal or removal, except for cause specified by law and within due process. . . ." 49 In a still later decision, Abaya v. Subido, 50 this Court, through Justice Sanchez, emphasized "that the vitality of the constitutional principle of due process cannot be allowed to weaken by sanctioning cancellation" of an employee's eligibility or "of his dismissal from service without hearing upon a doubtful assumption that he has admitted his guilt for an offense against Civil Service rules." Equally emphatic is this observation from the same case: "A civil service employee should be heard before he is condemned. Jurisprudence has clung to this rule with such unrelenting grasp that by now it would appear trite to make citations thereof." If as is so clearly and unequivocally held by this Court, due process may be relied upon by public official to protect the security of tenure which in that limited sense is analogous to property, could he not likewise avail himself of such constitutional guarantee to strike down what he considers to be an infringement of his liberty? Both on principle, reason and authority, the answer must be in the affirmative. Even a public official has certain rights to freedom the government must respect. To the extent then, that there is a curtailment thereof, it could only be permissible if the due process mandate is not disregarded.

Since under the constitutional scheme, liberty is the rule and restraint the exception, the question raised cannot just be brushed aside. In a leading Philippine case, Rubi v. Provincial Board, 51 liberty as guaranteed by the Constitution was defined by Justice Malcolm to include "the right to exist and the right to be free from arbitrary personal restraint or servitude. The term cannot be dwarfed into mere freedom from physical restraint of the person of the citizen, but is deemed to embrace the right of man to enjoy the facilities with which he has been endowed by his Creator, subject only to such restraint as are necessary for the common welfare." In accordance with this case therefore, the rights of the citizens to be free to use his faculties in all lawful ways; to live and work where he will; to earn his livelihood by any lawful calling; to pursue any avocation, are all deemed embraced in the concept of liberty. This Court in the same case, however, gave the warning that liberty as understood in democracies, is not license. Implied in the term is restraint by law for the good of the individual and for the greater good, the peace and order of society and the general wellbeing. No one can do exactly as he pleases. Every man must renounce unbridled license. In the words of Mabini as quoted by Justice Malcolm, "liberty is freedom to do right and never wrong; it is ever guided by reason and the upright and honorable conscience of the individual." The liberty to be safeguarded is, as pointed out by Chief Justice Hughes, liberty in a social organization, 52 implying the absence of arbitrary restraint not immunity from reasonable regulations and prohibitions imposed in the interest of the community. 53 It was Linton's view that "to belong to a society is to sacrifice some measure of individual liberty, no matter how slight the restraints which the society consciously imposes." 54 The above statement from Linton however, should be understood in the sense that liberty, in the interest of public health, public order or safety, of general welfare, in other words through the proper exercise of the police power, may be regulated. The individual thought, as Justice Cardozo pointed out, has still left a "domain of free activity that cannot be touched by government or law at all, whether the command is specially against him or generally against him and others." 55 Is this provision for a periodical submission of sworn statement of assets and liabilities after he had filed one upon assumption of office beyond the power of government to impose? Admittedly without the challenged provision, a public officer would be free from such a requirement. To the extent then that there is a compulsion to act in a certain way, his liberty is affected. It cannot be denied however that under the Constitution, such a restriction is allowable as long as due process is observed. The more crucial question therefore is whether there is an observance of due process. That leads us to an inquiry into its significance. "There is no controlling and precise definition of due process. It furnishes though a standard to which governmental action should conform in order that deprivation of life, liberty or property, in each appropriate case, be valid. What then is the standard of due process which must exist both as a procedural and as substantive requisite to free the challenged ordinance, or any action for that matter, from the imputation of legal infirmity sufficient to spell its doom? It is responsiveness to the supremacy of reason, obedience to the dictates of justice. Negatively put, arbitrariness is ruled out and unfairness avoided. To satisfy the due process requirement, official action, to paraphrase Cardozo, must not outrun the bounds of reason and result in sheer oppression. Due process is thus hostile to any official action marred by lack of reasonableness. Correctly has it been identified as freedom from arbitrariness. It is the embodiment of the sporting idea of fair play. It exacts fealty 'to those strivings for justice' and judges the act of officialdom of whatever branch 'in the light of reason drawn from considerations of fairness that reflect [democratic] traditions of legal and political thought.' It is not a narrow or 'technical conception with fixed content unrelated to time, place and circumstances,' decisions based on such a clause requiring a 'close and perceptive inquiry into fundamental principles of our society.' Questions of due process are not to be treated narrowly or pedantically in slavery to form or phrases." 56 It would be to dwell in the realm of abstractions and to ignore the harsh and compelling realities of public service with its ever-present temptation to heed the call of greed and avarice to condemn as arbitrary and oppressive a requirement as that imposed on public officials and employees to file such sworn statement of assets and liabilities every two years after having done so upon assuming office. The due process clause is not susceptible to such a reproach. There was therefore no unconstitutional exercise of police power. 4. The due process question touching on an alleged deprivation of liberty as thus resolved goes a long way in disposing of the objections raised by plaintiff that the provision on the periodical submission of a sworn statement of assets and liabilities is violative of the constitutional right to privacy. There is much to be said for this view of Justice Douglas: "Liberty in the constitutional sense must mean more than freedom from unlawful governmental restraint; it must include privacy as well, if it is to be a repository of freedom. The right to be let alone is indeed the beginning of all freedom." 57 As a matter of fact, this right to be let alone is, to quote from Mr. Justice Brandeis "the most comprehensive of rights and the right most valued by civilized men." 58 The concept of liberty would be emasculated if it does not likewise compel respect for his personality as a unique individual whose claim to privacy and interference demands respect. As Laski so very aptly stated: "Man is one among many, obstinately refusing reduction to unity. His separateness, his isolation, are indefeasible; indeed, they are so fundamental that they are the basis on which his civic obligations are built. He cannot abandon the consequences of his isolation, which are, broadly speaking, that his experience is private, and the will built out of that experience personal to himself. If he surrenders his will to others, he surrenders his personality. If his will is set by the will of others, he ceases to be master of himself. I cannot believe that a man no longer master of himself is in any real sense free." 59 Nonetheless, in view of the fact that there is an express recognition of privacy, specifically that of communication and correspondence which "shall be inviolable except upon lawful order of Court or when public safety and order" 60 may otherwise require, and implicitly in the search and seizure clause, 61 and the liberty of abode 62 the alleged repugnancy of such statutory requirement of further periodical submission of a sworn statement of assets and liabilities deserves to be further looked into. In that respect the question is one of first impression, no previous decision having been rendered by this Court. It is not so in the United States where, in the leading case of Griswold v. Connecticut, 63 Justice Douglas, speaking for five members of the Court, stated: "Various guarantees create zones of privacy. The right of association contained in the penumbra of the First Amendment is one, as we have seen. The Third Amendment in its prohibition against the quartering of soldiers 'in any house' in time of peace without the consent of the owner is another facet of that privacy. The Fourth Amendment explicitly affirms the 'right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures.' The Fifth Amendment in its Self-Incrimination Clause enables the citizen to create a zone of privacy which government may not force him to surrender to his detriment. The Ninth Amendment provides: 'The enumeration in the Constitution, of certain rights, shall not be construed to deny or disparage others retained by the people." After referring to various American Supreme Court decisions, 64 Justice Douglas continued: "These cases bear witness that the right of privacy which presses for recognition is a legitimate one." The Griswold case invalidated a Connecticut statute which made the use of contraceptives a criminal offense on the ground of its amounting to an unconstitutional invasion of the right of privacy of married persons; rightfully it stressed "a relationship lying within the zone of privacy created by several fundamental constitutional guarantees." 65 It has wider implications though. The constitutional right to privacy has come into its own.1wph1.t

So it is likewise in our jurisdiction. The right to privacy as such is accorded recognition independently of its identification with liberty; in itself, it is fully deserving of constitutional protection. The language of Prof. Emerson is particularly apt: "The concept of limited government has always included the idea that governmental powers stop short of certain intrusions into the personal life of the citizen. This is indeed one of the basic distinctions between absolute and limited government. Ultimate and pervasive control of the individual, in all aspects of his life, is the hallmark of the absolute state. In contrast, a system of limited government, safeguards a private sector, which belongs to the individual, firmly distinguishing it from the public sector, which the state can control. Protection of this private sector protection, in other words, of the dignity and integrity of the individual has become increasingly important as modern society has developed. All the forces of a technological age industrialization, urbanization, and organization operate to narrow the area of privacy and facilitate intrusion into it. In modern terms, the capacity to maintain and support this enclave of private life marks the difference between a democratic and a totalitarian society." 66 Even with due recognition of such a view, it cannot be said that the challenged statutory provision calls for disclosure of information which infringes on the right of a person to privacy. It cannot be denied that the rational relationship such a requirement possesses with the objective of a valid statute goes very far in precluding assent to an objection of such character. This is not to say that a public officer, by virtue of a position he holds, is bereft of constitutional protection; it is only to emphasize that in subjecting him to such a further compulsory revelation of his assets and liabilities, including the statement of the amounts and sources of income, the amounts of personal and family expenses, and the amount of income taxes paid for the next preceding calendar year, there is no unconstitutional intrusion into what otherwise would be a private sphere. 5. Could it be said, however, as plaintiff contends, that insofar as the challenged provision requires the periodical filing of a sworn statement of financial condition, it would be violative of the guarantees against unreasonable search and seizure and against self-incrimination? His complaint cited on this point Davis v. United States. 67 In that case, petitioner Davis was convicted under an information charging him with unlawfully having in his possession a number of gasoline ration coupons representing so many gallons of gasoline, an offense penalized under a 1940 statute. 68 He was convicted both in the lower court and in the Circuit Court of Appeals over the objection that there was an unlawful search which resulted in the seizure of the coupons and that their use at the trial was in violation of Supreme Court decisions. 69 In the District Court, there was a finding that he consented to the search and seizure. The Circuit Court of Appeals did not disturb that finding although expressed doubt concerning it, affirming however under the view that such seized coupons were properly introduced in evidence, the search and seizure being incidental to an arrest, and therefore reasonable regardless of petitioner's consent. In affirming the conviction the United States Supreme Court, through Justice Douglas emphasized that the Court was dealing in this case "not with private papers or documents, but with gasoline ration coupons which never became the private property of the holder but remained at all times the property of the government and subject to inspection and recall by it." 70 He made it clear that the opinion was not to be understood as suggesting "that officers seeking to reclaim government property may proceed lawlessly and subject to no restraints. Nor [does it] suggest that the right to inspect under the regulations subjects a dealer to a general search of his papers for the purpose of learning whether he has any coupons subject to inspection and seizure. The nature of the coupons is important here merely as indicating that the officers did not exceed the permissible limits of persuasion in obtaining them." 71 True, there was a strong dissenting opinion by Justice Frankfurter in which Justice Murphy joined, critical of what it considered "a process of devitalizing interpretation" which in this particular case gave approval "to what was done by arresting officers" and expressing the regret that the Court might be "in danger of forgetting what the Bill of Rights reflects experience with police excesses." Even this opinion, however, concerned that the constitutional guarantee against unreasonable search and seizure "does not give freedom from testimonial compulsion. Subject to familiar qualifications every man is under obligation to give testimony. But that obligation can be exacted only under judicial sanctions which are deemed precious to Anglo-American civilization. Merely because there may be the duty to make documents available for litigation does not mean that police officers may forcibly or fraudulently obtain them. This protection of the right to be let alone except under responsible judicial compulsion is precisely what the Fourth Amendment meant to express and to safeguard." 72 It would appear then that a reliance on that case for an allegation that this statutory provision offends against the unreasonable search and seizure clause would be futile and unavailing. This is the more so in the light of the latest decision of this Court in Stonehill v. Diokno, 73 where this Court, through Chief Justice Concepcion, after stressing that the constitutional requirements must be strictly complied with, and that it would be "a legal heresy of the highest order" to convict anybody of a violation of certain statutes without reference to any of its determinate provisions delimited its scope as "one of the most fundamental rights guaranteed in our Constitution," safeguarding "the sanctity, of the domicile and the privacy of communication and correspondence. . . ." Such is precisely the evil sought to be remedied by the constitutional provision above quoted to outlaw the so-called general warrants. It thus appears clear that no violation of the guarantee against unreasonable search and seizure has been shown to exist by such requirement of further periodical submission of one's financial condition as set forth in the Anti-Graft Act of 1960. Nor does the contention of plaintiff gain greater plausibility, much less elicit acceptance, by his invocation of the non-incrimination clause. According to the Constitution: "No person shall be compelled to be a witness against himself." 74 This constitutional provision gives the accused immunity from any attempt by the prosecution to make easier its task by coercing or intimidating him to furnish the evidence necessary to convict. He may confess, but only if he voluntarily wills it. He may admit certain facts but only if he freely chooses to.75 Or he could remain silent, and the prosecution is powerless to compel him to talk. 76 Proof is not solely testimonial in character. It may be documentary. Neither then could the accused be ordered to write, when what comes from his pen may constitute evidence of guilt or innocence. 77 Moreover, there can be no search or seizure of his house, papers or effects for the purpose of locating incriminatory matter. 78 In a declaratory action proceeding then, the objection based on the guaranty against self-incrimination is far from decisive. It is well to note what Justice Tuason stated: "What the above inhibition seeks to [prevent] is compulsory disclosure of incriminating facts." 79 Necessarily then, the protection it affords will have to await, in the language of Justice J. B. L. Reyes, the existence of actual cases, "be they criminal, civil or administrative." 80 Prior to such a stage, there is no pressing need to pass upon the validity of the fear sincerely voiced that there is an infringement of the non-incrimination clause. What was said in an American State decision is of relevance. In that case, a statutory provision requiring any person operating a motor vehicle, who knows that injury has been caused a person or property, to stop and give his name, residence, and his license number to the injured party or to a police officer was sustained against the contention that the information thus exacted may be used as evidence to establish his connection with the injury and therefore compels him to incriminate himself. As was stated in the opinion: "If the law which exacts this information is invalid, because such information, although in itself no evidence of guilt, might possibly lead to a charge of crime against the informant,

then all police regulations which involve identification may be questioned on the same ground. We are not aware of any constitutional provision designed to protect a man's conduct from judicial inquiry or aid him in fleeing from justice. But, even if a constitutional right be involved, it is not necessary to invalidate the statute to secure its protection. If, in this particular case, the constitutional privilege justified the refusal to give the information exacted by the statute, that question can be raised in the defense to the pending prosecution. Whether it would avail, we are not called upon to decide in this proceeding." 81 6. Nor could such a provision be nullified on the allegation that it constitutes "an insult to the personal integrity and official dignity" of public officials. On its face, it cannot thus be stigmatized. As to its being unnecessary, it is well to remember that this Court, in the language of Justice Laurel, "does not pass upon questions of wisdom, justice or expediency of legislation." 82 As expressed by Justice Tuason: "It is not the province of the courts to supervise legislation and keep it within the bounds of propriety and common sense. That is primarily and exclusively a legislative concern." 83 There can be no possible objection then to the observation of Justice Montemayor: "As long as laws do not violate any Constitutional provision, the Courts merely interpret and apply them regardless of whether or not they are wise or salutary." 84 For they, according to Justice Labrador, "are not supposed to override legitimate policy and . . . never inquire into the wisdom of the law." 85 It is thus settled, to paraphrase Chief Justice Concepcion in Gonzales v. Commission on Elections, 86 that only congressional power or competence, not the wisdom of the action taken may be the basis for declaring a statute invalid. This is as it ought to be. The principle of separation of powers has in the main wisely allocated the respective authority of each department and confined its jurisdiction to such a sphere. There would then be intrusion not allowable under the Constitution if on a matter left to the discretion of a coordinate branch, the judiciary would substitute its own. If there be adherence to the rule of law, as there ought to be, the last offender should be courts of justice, to which rightly litigants submit their controversy precisely to maintain unimpaired the supremacy of legal norms and prescriptions. The attack on the validity of the challenged provision likewise insofar as there may be objections, even if valid and cogent on its wisdom cannot be sustained. WHEREFORE, the decision of the lower court of July 19, 1962 "declaring unconstitutional, null and void Section 7, Republic Act No. 3019, insofar as it requires periodical submittal of sworn statements of financial conditions, assets and liabilities of an official or employee of the government after he had once submitted such a sworn statement . . . is reversed." Without costs. G.R. No. L-56170 January 31, 1984 HILARIO JARAVATA petitioner, vs. THE HON. SANDIGANBAYAN and THE PEOPLE OF THE PHILIPPINES, respondents. ABAD SANTOS, J.: This is a petition to review the decision of the Sandiganbayan in Criminal Case No. 873. Hilario Jaravata was accused of violating Section 3(b) of Republic Act No. 3019, as amended, said to have been committed in the following manner: That on or about the period from April 30, 1979 to May 25, 1979, in the Municipality of Tubao, Province of La Union, Philippines, and within the jurisdiction of this Honorable Court, the abovenamed accused, being then the Assistant Principal of the Leones Tubao, La Union Barangay High School and with the use of his influence as such public official and taking advantage of his moral and official ascendancy over his classroom teachers, with deliberate intent did then and there wilfully, unlawfully and feloniously made demand and actually received payments from other classroom teachers, ROMEO DACAYANAN, DOMINGO LOPEZ, MARCELA BAUTISTA, and FRANCISCO DULAY various sums of money, namely: P118.00, P100.00, P50.00 and P70.00 out of their salary differentials, in consideration of accused having officially intervened in the release of the salary differentials of the six classroom teachers, to the prejudice and damage of the said classroom teachers, in the total amount of THREE HUNDRED THIRTY EIGHT (P338.00) PESOS, Philippine Currency. (Decision, p.1-2.) After trial, the Sandiganbayan rendered the following judgment: WHEREFORE, accused is hereby found guilty beyond reasonable doubt for Violation of Section 3(b), Republic Act No. 3019, as amended, and he is hereby sentenced to suffer an indeterminate imprisonment ranging from ONE (1) YEAR, is minimum, to FOUR (4) YEARS, as maximum, to further suffer perpetual special disqualification from public office and to pay the costs. No pronouncement as to the civil liability it appearing that the money given to the accused was already refunded by him. (Id. pp, 16-17.) The petition raises factual and legal issues but for obvious reasons Our decision shall deal with the legal issue only. The Sandiganbayan states in its decision the following: A perusal of the conflicting versions of the prosecution and the defense shows that there is no dispute that [complainants] Ramos, Lloren, Lopez, Dacayanan, Dulay and Bautista are classroom teachers of the Leones Barangay High School with accused as their assistant principal and [Conrado Baltazar as the administrator; that on January 5, 1979, accused informed the classroom teachers of the approval of the release of their salary differentials for 1978 and to facilitate its payment accused and the classroom teachers agreed that accused follow-up the papers in Manila with the obligation on the part of the classroom teachers to reimburse the accused of his expenses; that accused incurred expenses in the total amount of P220.00 and there being six classroom teachers, he divided said amount by six or at the rate of P36.00 each; that the classroom teachers actually received their salary differentials and pursuant to said agreement, they, with the exception of Lloren and Ramos, gave the accused varying amounts but as Baltazar did not approve it, he ordered the accused to return the money given to him by Lopez, Dacayanan, Dulay and Bautista, and accused complied (Pp. 7-8.) The decision also recites that "the evidence is overwhelming to show that accused received more than the rightful contribution of P36.00 from four classroom teachers, namely: Lopez, Dulay, Dacayanan and Bautista. Lopez categorically declared that he gave the accused P100.00 (TSN, p. 5, August 21, 1980 hearing) after he received his salary differential or an excess of P64.00. So with Dulay, that he gave P70.00 to the accused (TSN, p. 16, supra) or an excess of P34.00; Dacayanan, that he gave to the accused P118.00 (TSN, p. 26, supra) or an excess of P82.00, and Bautista, that he gave to the accused P50.00 (TSN, p. 38, supra) or an excess of P14.00. In short, the total amount received by the accused in excess of the share of the classroom teachers in the reimbursement of his expenses is P194.00. " (P. 9.)

Republic Act No. 3019, otherwise known as the Anti-Graft and Corrupt Practices Act provides, inter alia the following: Sec. 3. Corrupt practices of public officers. In addition to acts or omissions of public officers already penalized by existing law, the following shall constitute corrupt practices of any public officer and are hereby declared to be unlawful: xxx xxx xxx (b) Directly or indirectly requesting or receiving any gift, present, share, percentage, or benefit, for himself or for any other person in connection with any contract or transaction between the Government and any other party, wherein the public officer in his official capacity has to intervene under the law. xxx xxx xxx The legal issue is whether or not, under the facts stated, petitioner Jaravata violated the above-quoted provision of the statute. A simple reading of the provision has to yield a negative answer. There is no question that Jaravata at the time material to the case was a "public officer" as defined by Section 2 of R.A. No. 3019, i.e. "elective and appointive officials and employees, permanent or temporary, whether in the classified or unclassified or exempt service receiving compensation, even normal from the government." It may also be said that any amount which Jaravata received in excess of P36.00 from each of the complainants was in the concept of a gift or benefit. The pivotal question, however, is whether Jaravata, an assistant principal of a high school in the boondocks of Tubao, La Union, "in his official capacity has to intervene under the law" in the payment of the salary differentials for 1978 of the complainants. It should be noted that the arrangement was "to facilitate its [salary differential] payment accused and the classroom teachers agreed that accused follow-up the papers in Manila with the obligation on the part of the classroom teachers to reimburse the accused of his expenses. In Our opinion, Sec. 3(b) of R.A. No. 3019, refers to a public officer whose official intervention is required by law in a contract or transaction. There is no law which invests the petitioner with the power to intervene in the payment of the salary differentials of the complainants or anyone for that matter. Far from exercising any power, the petitioner played the humble role of a supplicant whose mission was to expedite payment of the salary differentials. In his official capacity as assistant principal he is not required by law to intervene in the payment of the salary differentials. Accordingly, he cannot be said to have violated the law afore-cited although he exerted efforts to facilitate the payment of the salary differentials. WHEREFORE, the petition is hereby granted and the judgment of the Sandiganbayan convicting the petitioner is set aside. Costs de oficio. G.R. No. 70332-43 November 13, 1986 GENEROSO TRIESTE, SR., petitioner, vs. SANDIGANBAYAN (SECOND DIVISION), respondent. ALAMPAY, J.: The present case relates to an appeal by way of a Petition for Review of the decision promulgated on November 6, 1984, by the Sandiganbayan convicting the herein petitioner, Generoso Trieste, Sr., of twelve (12) separate violations of Section 3 paragraph (h) of Republic Act 3019, otherwise known as the Anti-Graft and Corrupt Practices - Act, which petitioner were accused of in Criminal Cases Nos. 6856-6867 of said Court. Petitioner's motion for reconsideration and/or new trial was denied by the respondent Sandiganbayan under its Resolution of March 11, 1985. The twelve (12) separate Informations filed by the Tanodbayan against the herein petitioner for violation of Section 3 (h) of the Anti-Graft Law are all similarly worded as the information presented in Criminal Case No. 6856 which is hereunder quoted: That on or about the month of July, 1980 and some time subsequent thereto, in the municipality of Numancia, Aklan, Philippines, and within the jurisdiction of this Honorable Court, the abovenamed accused, being then the Municipal Mayor and member of the Committee on Award of the Municipality of Numancia, Aklan and as such, had administrative control of the funds of the municipality and whose approval is required in the disbursements of municipal funds, did then and there wilfully and unlawfully have financial or pecuniary interest in a business, contract or transaction in connection with which said accused intervened or took part in his official capacity and in which he is prohibited by law from having any interest, to wit the purchases of construction materials by the Municipality of Numancia, Aklan from Trigen Agro-Industrial Development Corporation, of which the accused is the president, incorporator, director and major stockholder paid under Municipal Voucher No. 211-90-10-174 in the amount of P558.80 by then and there awarding the supply and delivery of said materials to Trigen Agro-Industrial Development Corporation and approving payment thereof to said corporation in violation of the Anti-Graft and corrupt Practices Act. except only as to the dates of the commission of the offense, voucher numbers, and amounts involved. Criminal Cases Nos. 6856, 6857, 6858, 6859, 6860. 6861, and 6862 were allegedly committed in July, 1980; Criminal Cases Nos. 6863 and 6864, in August, 1980; and Criminal Cases Nos. C-865, 6866 and 6867 in October, 1980. The separate vouchers involved in the twelve (12) cases are said to be the following: Crim. Case #6856, Vchr #211-90-10-174 at P558.80 Crim. Case #6857, Vchr #211-80-10-187 at 943.60 Crim. Case #6858, Vchr #211-80-10-189 at 144.00 Crim. Case #6859, Vchr #211-80-10-190 at 071.30 Crim. Case #6860, Vchr #211-80-10-191 at 270.00

Crim. Case #6861, Vchr #211-80-10-232 at 1,820.00 Crim. Case #6862, Vchr #211-80-10-239 at 1,085.80 Crim. Case #6863, Vchr #211-80-10-407 at 150.00 Crim. Case #6864, Vchr #211-80-12-494 at 500.00 Crim. Case #6865, Vchr #211-81-04-61 at 840.00 Crim. Case #6866, Vchr #211-81-04-62 at 787.00 Crim. Case #6867, Vchr #211-81-04-63 at 560.00 T o t a l - - - - P7,730.50 (Consolidated Comment, pg. 4; Rollo, 325) After trial, the Sandiganbayan rendered the challenged decision dated November 6, 1984, convicting the petitioner in all the twelve (12) criminal cases, (Rollo, pp. 324-325) and in each case he was sentenced,"...to suffer the indeterminate penalty of imprisonment ranging from THREE (3) YEARS and ONE (1) DAY as the minimum, to SIX (6) YEARS and ONE (1) DAY as the maximum, to further suffer perpetual disqualification from the public office, and to pay the cost of the action." (pp. 37-40, Decision; Rollo, 322). After the petition for review was filed in this case and pending the submission by respondent of its comment to the petition, herein petitioner presented to this Court on June 7, 1985, an urgent petition to lift the order of the Sandiganbayan dated September 12, 1983, suspending him from Office as the elected Municipal Mayor of Numancia, Aklan. His term was to expire in 1986. No objection to the petition for the lifting of the suspension order was interposed by the Solicitor General. Accordingly, and pursuant to the resolution of this Court dated October 1, 1985, petitioner's preventive suspension was lifted and his reinstatement as Municipal Mayor of Numancia, Aklan was ordered to take effect immediately. A supplemental petition, dated October 10, 1985, was later filed by petitioner's new counsel in collaboration with the original counsel on record of petitioner. In this supplemental pleading, it was vigorously stressed that the petitioner did not, in any way, intervene in making the awards and payment of the purchases in question as he signed the voucher only after all the purchases had already been made, delivered and paid for by the Municipal Treasurer. It was further pointed out that there was no bidding at all as erroneously adverted to in the twelve informations filed against herein petitioner because the transactions involved were emergency direct purchases by personal canvass. Upon leave of the Court given, the former Solicitor General filed a consolidated comment dated November 4, 1984, to the original petition filed in this case dated April 30, 1985 as well as on the supplemental petition dated October 10, 1985. He argued the dismissal of the petition on the ground that the same raise factual issues which are, therefore, non-reviewable (Consolidated Comment, pg. 20; Rollo, 341). The submission made by the Office of the Solicitor General in the Consolidated Comment dated November 4, 1986, are hereunder quoted: xxx xxx xxx The impugned decision convicted petitioner for violation of Section 3 (h), paragraph (h) of the Anti-Graft and Corrupt Practices Act which reads as follows: SEC. 3. Corrupt Practices of Public Officers. - In addition to acts or omissions of public officers already penalized by existing laws, the following shall constitute corrupt practices of any public officer and are hereby declared to be unlawful: xxx xxx xxx (h) Directly or indirectly having financial or pecuniary interest in any business, contract or transaction in connection with which he intervenes or takes part in his official capacity, or in which he is prohibited by the Constitution or by any law from having any interest. The elements essential in the commission of the crime are: a) The public officer has financial or pecuniary interest in a business, contract or transaction; b) In connection with which he intervenes in his official capacity. Concurrence of both elements is necessary as the absence of one will not warrant conviction. (Rollo, pp. 338-339). The earlier view taken by the Solicitor General's Office was that petitioner's evidence of divestment of interest in Trigen 'Corporation, which is said to have been effected on February 25, 1980, before the petitioner assumed the Mayorship, should have been presented at the earliest opportunity before the Tanodbayan and because this was not done by him the resolution of the Tanodbayan finding a prima facie case against petitioner should be sustained. Furthermore, petitioner was faulted because the transfer of his interest in the corporate stock of Trigen Corporation should have been recorded in the Securities and Exchange Commission but no evidence of this sort, was presented. The consolidated comment also played up the advertisement of Trigen Corporation in the program of the Rotary Club of Kalibo, Aklan, showing the printed name of petitioner as the PresidentManager of the said corporation. (Consolidated Comment; Rollo, pp. 340-341) Petitioner filed a Reply controverting the allegations and arguments recited in the aforestated Consolidated Comment of the Solicitor General. After considering the pleadings filed and deliberating on the issues raised in the petition and supplemental petition for review on certiorari of the decision of the Sandiganbayan, as well as the consolidated comment and the reply thereto filed by petitioner's counsel, the Court in its resolution of January 16, 1986, gave due course to the petition and required the parties to file their respective briefs.

Petitioner's exhaustive and well-reasoned out Brief which was filed with the Court on April 14, 1986, raised the following legal questions. xxx xxx xxx From the foregoing recital of facts, the following legal questions arise: 1. Does the mere signing by a Municipal Mayor of municipal vouchers and other supporting papers covering purchases of materials previously ordered by the Municipal Treasurer without the knowledge and consent of the former, subsequently delivered by the supplier, and, thereafter paid by the same Municipal Treasurer also without the knowledge and consent of the Municipal Mayor, constitute a violation of the provisions of Section 3 (h) of Rep. Act No. 3019 otherwise known as the Anti-Graft and Corrupt Practices Act? 2. Does the mere signing of the mere documents above constitute the kind of intervention of taking part in (his) official capacity within the context of the above-mentioned law? 3. Was damage or prejudice, as an element of the offense under Section 3 (h) of the said law, caused to the Government or the Municipality of Numancia as a result of the contracts in question and as a corollary thereto, was undue advantage and gained by the transacting corporation? 4. Was there divestment on the part of the herein petitioner of his shares in Trigen Agro-Industrial Development Corporation long before the questioned transactions? (Appellant's Brief, page 15) It was then discus and argued by the petitioner that the prosecution failed to establish the presence of all the elements of the offense, and more particularly to adduce proof that petitioner has, directly or indirectly, a financial or pecuniary interest in the imputed business contracts or transactions. Discussion of petitioner's arguments in this regard will not however, be recited anymore as this was obviated when a new Solicitor General, after seeking and obtaining several extensions of time to file its Brief in this case at bar, filed on October 7, 1986, a "Manifestation For Acquittal" (in lieu of the People's Brief). Rollo, 293). The new Solicitor General's Office after adopting the statement of facts recited in the consolidated comment of the former Solicitor General's Office moved for the acquittal of the petitioner, upon acknowledging and concluding that: xxx xxx xxx Petitioner has divested his interest with Trigen Petitioner sought to establish that before he assumed office as mayor on March 3, 1980, he had already sold his shares with Trigen to his sister Mrs. Rosene Trieste-Tuason. The sale was made by corresponding indorsements to her stock certificate which was duly recorded in the stock and transfer book of the corporation. Respondent Sandiganbayan however doubts the sale because the same was not reported to the SEC. SEC records, as the prosecution evidence show, do not reflect the sale and petitioner still appears as the firm's President. The prosecution's evidence to establish non-divestment of petitioner's interest with Trigen is weak. Anyway, Trigen has not updated its reports to the SEC since 1976. It have not even submitted its financial annual report ever since. Absence of the sales report in the SEC does not mean that the sale did not take place. Reporting the sale is not a mandatory requirement. Sales of stocks need not be reported to SEC In any event, the law only requires submission of annual financial reports, not sales or disposal of stocks (Section 141, Corporation Code of the Philippines). Upholding the evidence of petitioner's divestment of his interest with Trigen would necessarily allow him to act freely in his official capacity in the municipality's dealings or transactions with Trigen. That in itself is sufficient to acquit him of the crimes charged. (Rollo, pp. 299-300). In the matter of the alleged intervention of petitioner, the Office of the Solicitor General itself subscribes to and on its own volition place on record the following observations: Prosecution failed to prove charges; evidence discloses absence of bidding and award The prosecution's lone witness, Treasurer Aniceto Vega, testified that there never was a public bidding conducted because all the transactions were made by direct purchases from Trigen. Q. In other words, in all these transactions there never really was any public bidding? A. Yes, Sir. There was no public bidding. Q. And these purchases were made by direct purchases from the establishment of Trigen? A. Yes, Sir. (pp. 36-37, Tsn., Oct. 26, 1983) In the absence of a public bidding and as emphatically declared by the prosecution's sole witness Vega that all the transactions were on direct purchases from Trigen, how can one ever imagine that petitioner has awarded the supply and delivery of construction materials to Trigen as specifically charged in the twelve (12) informations? The charges are of course baseless and even contradict the evidence of the prosecution itself.

Even the respondent Court finally found that petitioner did not intervene during the bidding and award, which of course is a false assumption because of Vega's testimony that there was no public bidding at all. Respondent Court said: . . . . In short, accused's intervention may not be present during the bidding and award, but his liability may also come in when he took part in said transactions such as signing the vouchers under certifications 1, 2 and 3 thereof, to make it appear that the transactions were regular and proper. (Resolution dated March 11, 1985 denying petitioner's motion for reconsideration/new trial, page 7). No evidence to prove petitioner approved payment Now, did petitioner intervene by approving payments to Trigen as also charged in the information? Can there be intervention after payment. Vega testified that petitioner signed the twelve (12) municipal vouchers (Exhibits A to L) for the purchase and payment of construction materials. It was sometime after delivery of the construction materials that he (Vega) signed and paid the twelve (12) -municipal vouchers (pages 5 to 7), decision of respondent Sandiganbayan dated November 2, 1984). The prosecution has not presented evidence to show as to when petitioner signed the twelve (12) municipal vouchers. But it can safely be assumed as a matter of procedure that petitioner had signed the voucher after Treasurer Vega signed and paid them., (Rello, pp. 301-303) xxx xxx xxx Testimonial and documentary evidence confirms that petitioner signed vouchers after payment Additional facts which respondent Court failed to consider and which could have altered the outcome of the case in the following uncontroverted testimony of Josue Maravilla: Q. When these municipal vouchers were prepared by the municipal treasurer, as you said, and then presented to Mayor Trieste for his signature, were the purchases in question already paid? A. They had already been paid for, sir. Q. Previously, prior to the signature of Mayor Trieste? A. Yes, sir. A.J. ESCAREAL: Q. Under what authority were they paid? A. Under official receipt issued by Trigen. Q. Who authorized the payment? A. The municipal treasurer who paid the materials. ATTY. CONSULTA: Q. You said they had already been paid for. Do you know of any receipts issued by Trigen to indicate that at the time these municipal vouchers were signed by Mayor Trieste, the materials had already been delivered and paid by the municipality to Trigen? xxx xxx xxx A. Yes, sir Q. Now, what exhibits particularly do you know were issued by Trigen to indicate that payments were made prior to the signing of the municipal vouchers by Mayor Trieste? A. Exhibits A, G, B, F, C, D, Exhibit I and Exhibit H. xxx xxx xxx Q. Now, Mr. Maravilla, aside from these prosecution's exhibits which are Trigen receipts showing payments long before the municipal vouchers were prepared, what can you say about the other municipal vouchers in this case in reference to payments made by Trigen to the municipality? ESCAREAL: Payment made by Trigen? ATTY. CONSULTA: I am sorry, Your Honor, made to Trigen by the municipality? A. Official receipts issued by Trigen also indicate that when municipal vouchers marked Exhibits E, B, C, D, F, G, H, I were prepared, they had already been delivered and the amounts indicated therein were already prepared by the municipal treasurer. Q. Did you say already made by the municipal treasurer-the amounts were already paid by the municipal treasurer?

A. Already paid. Q. Who disbursed the funds evidenced by the Trigen official receipts? A. The municipal treasurer, then Mr. Vega. Q. Now, do you know why Mr. Vega asked that those municipal vouchers be nevertheless signed in spite of the fact that he knew that the amounts had already been disbursed and paid by him to Trigen? A. He said that the municipal vouchers for record purposes is necessary to be signed by the mayor. (Tsn., Mar. 5, 1984, pp. 19-49). Inasmuch as Treasurer Vega signed and paid the vouchers after the materials were delivered, petitioner's signature on the vouchers after payment is not, we submit the kind of intervention contemplated under Section 3(h) of the Anti-Graft Law. xxx xxx xxx What is contemplated in Section 3(h) of the anti-graft law is the actual intervention in the transaction in which one has financial or pecuniary interest in order that liability may attach. (Opinion No. 306, Series 1961 and Opinion No. 94, Series 1972 of the Secretary of Justice). The official need not dispose his shares in the corporation as long as he does not do anything for the firm in its contract with the office. For the law aims to prevent the don-tenant use of influence, authority and power (Deliberation on Senate Bill 293, May 6, 1959, Congressional Record, Vol. 11, page 603). There is absolutely no evidence that petitioner had, in his capacity as Mayor, used his influence, power, and authority in having the transactions given to Trigen. He didn't ask anyone-neither Treasurer Vega nor Secretary Maravilla for that matter, to get the construction materials from Trigen. Trigen did not gain any undue advantage in the transaction Petitioner should not be faulted for Trigen's transaction with the municipality, which by the way, has been dealing with it even before petitioner had assumed the mayorship on March 3, 1980. Personal canvasses conducted found that Trigen's offer was the lowest, most reasonable, and advantageous to the municipality. . . . (Rollo, pp. 307-308; Emphasis supplied). It is also an acknowledged fact that there was no complaint for non-delivery, underdelivery or overpricing regarding any of the transactions. Considering the correct facts now brought to the attention of this Court by the Solicitor General and in view of the reassessment made by that Office of the issues and the evidence and the law involved, the Court takes a similar view that the affirmance of the decision appealed from cannot be rightfully sustained. The conscientious study and thorough analysis made by the Office of the Solicitor General in this case truly reflects its consciousness of its role as the People's Advocate in the administration of justice to the end that the innocent be equally defended and set free just as it has the task of having the guilty punished. This Court will do no less and, therefore, accepts the submitted recommendation that the decision and resolution in question of the respondent Sandiganbayan be reversed and that as a matter of justice, the herein petitioner be entitled to a judgment of acquittal. WHEREFORE, the decision rendered by the Sandiganbayan, dated November 2, 1984, in Criminal Cases Nos. 6856 to 6867, finding the herein petitioner, Generoso Trieste, Sr. guilty of the violations of Section 3 paragraph (h) of Republic Act 3019, as amended, is hereby set aside and reversing the appealed judgment, a new judgment is now rendered ACQUITTING Generoso Trieste, Sr., of said offenses charged against him with costs de oficio. G.R. Nos. L-51065-72 June 30, 1987 ARTURO A. MEJORADA, petitioner, vs. THE HONORABLE SANDIGANBAYAN and THE PEOPLE OF THE PHILIPPINES, respondents. CORTES, J.: This petition for certiorari seeks to reverse the May 23, 1979 decision of the Sandiganbayan finding the accused Arturo A. Mejorada in Criminal Cases Nos. 002-009 guilty beyond reasonable doubt of violating Section 3(E) of Republic Act No. 3019, otherwise known as the Anti-Graft and Corrupt Practices Act. Eight informations were filed by the Provincial Fiscal against the petitioner and jointly tried before the Sandiganbayan. The eight informations substantially allege the same set of circumstances constituting the offense charged, Criminal Case No. 002 reads as follows: That in (sic) or about and during the period comprised from October 1977 to February 1978, in the municipality of Pasig, Metro Manila, Philippines and within the jurisdiction of this Honorable Court, the above-named accused, being employed in the Office of the Highway District Engineer, Pasig, Metro Manila, as Right-of-Way-Agent conspiring and confederating together with two (2) other John Does whose true Identities and present whereabouts are still unknown, with evident bad faith, and for personal gain, did then and there wilfully, unlawfully and feloniously, directly intervene, work for, and facilitate the approval of one Isagani de Leon's claim for the payment in the removal and reconstruction of his house and a part of his land expropriated by the government having been affected by the proposed Pasig-Sta Cruz-Calamba Road. 2nd IBRD Project at Binangonan, Rizal, while the accused, Arturo A. Mejorada is in the discharge of his official and/or administrative functions and after said claim was approved and the corresponding PNB Check No. SN 5625748 was issued and encashed in the amount of P7,200.00 given only P1,000.00 to claimant (Isagani de Leon), appropriating, applying and converting to themselves the amount of P6,200.00, thereby causing damage and prejudice to Isagani de Leon and the government in the aforementioned amount of P6,200.00. Contrary to law. Except for the date of the commission of the offense, the name of the aggrieved private party, the PNB Check number, the amount involved and the number or John Does, the seven other informations are verbatim repetitions of the above.

The facts are found by the respondent Sandiganbayan are as follows: Arturo A. Mejorada was a public officer who was first employed as a temporary skilled laborer in the Bureau of Public Works on March 16, 1947, and then as right-of-way agent in the Office of the Highway District Engineer, Pasig, Metro Manila, from February, 1974 up to December 31, 1978. As a right-of-way agent, his main duty was to negotiate with property owners affected by highway constructions or improvements for the purpose of compensating them for the damages incurred by said owners. Among those whose lots and improvements were affected by the widening of the proposed Pasig-Sta. Cruz-Calamba Road. 2nd IBRD Project, at Binangonan, Rizal were Isagani de Leon, Isaac Carlos, Napoleon Maybituin, Dominga Villaroza, Florentino de la Cruz, Cipriano Aran, Celestina S. Mallari and Rodolfo Rivera, all residents of Mambog, Binangonan, Rizal. Sometime in October or November 1977, petitioner contacted the aforenamed persons and informed them that he could work out their claims for payment of the values of their lots and/or improvements affected by the widening of said highway. In the process, Mejorada required the claimants to sign blank copies of the "Sworn Statement on the Correct and Fair Market Value of Real Properties" and "Agreement to Demolish, Remove and Reconstruct improvements" pertinent to their claims. The claimants complied without bothering to find out what the documents were all about as they were only interested in the payment of damages. In said "Sworn Statements" and "Agreements to Demolish", the value of the respective properties of the claimants were made to appear very much higher than the actual value claimed by them. Likewise, the said "Agreements to Demolish" reflected the value of the improvements as per assessor" which on the average was only P2,000.00 lower than the value declared by the owners in their sworn statements. The value as per assessor was, in turn, supported by the Declarations of Real Property in the names of the claimants containing an assessed value exactly the same as that stated in the Agreements to Demolish "as per assessor", except the claims of De la Cruz and Aran where there is only a difference of P400.00 and P200.00, respectively. It turned out, however, that said Declarations of Property are not really intended for the claimants as they were registered in the names of other persons, thus showing that they were all falsified. A few months after processing the claims, accused accompanied the claimants to the Office of the Highway District Engineer at the provincial capitol of Pasig, Metro Manila, to receive payments and personally assisted the claimants in signing the vouchers and encashing the checks by certifying as to their Identities and guaranteeing payment. Right after the claimants had received the proceeds of their checks, accused accompanied them to his car which was parked nearby where they were divested of the amounts paid to them leaving only the sum of P1,000.00 to each, except Isaac Carlos to whom P5,000.00 was left, explaining to them that there were many who would share in said amounts. All the claimants were helpless to complaint because they were afraid of the accused and his armed companion. The claimants, through the assistance of counsel, filed their complaints with the Provincial Fiscal's Office of Pasig, Metro Manila, narrating in their supporting sworn statements what they later testified to in court. Five issues are raised in this petition to review the decision of the Sandiganbayan: I. Whether or not the essential elements constituting the offense penalized by section 3(e) of Republic Act No. 3019, otherwise known as the AntiGraft and Corrupt Practices Act have been clearly and convincingly proven by the prosecution; II. Whether or not the Sandiganbayan is a court of competent jurisdiction duly constituted in accordance with Pres. Dec. No. 1606; III. Whether or not the penalty imposed upon the petitioner is excessive and contrary to the three-fold rule as provided for by Article 70 of the Revised Penal Code; IV. Whether or not there is a variance between the offense charged in the information and the offense proved; V. Whether or not the conclusion drawn from the record of the Sandiganbayan in arriving at a verdict of conviction of petitioner is correct is a question of law which this Honorable Court is authorized to pass upon. I. Petitioner contends that the eight informations filed against him before the Sandiganbayan are fatally defective in that it failed to allege the essential ingredients or elements constituting the offense penalized by Section 3(e) of Rep. Act No. 3019. The section under which the accused-petitioner was charged provides: Sec. 3. Corrupt practices of public officers. In addition to acts or omissions of public officers already penalized by existing law, the following shall constitute corrupt practices of any public officer and are hereby declared to be unlawful. xxx xxx xxx (e) Causing any undue injury to any party, including the Government, or giving any private party any unwarranted benefits, advantage or preference in the discharge of his official administrative or judicial functions through manifest partiality, evident bad faith or gross inexcusable negligence. This provision shall apply to officers and employees of offices or government corporations charged with the grant of licenses or permits or other concessions. Petitioner enumerated three elements which, in his opinion, constitute a violation of Section 3(e). First, that the accused must be a public officer charged with the duty of granting licenses or permits or other concessions. Petitioner contends that inasmuch as he is not charged with the duty of granting licenses, permits or other concessions, then he is not the officer contemplated by Section 3 (e).

Section 3 cited above enumerates in eleven subsections the corrupt practices of any public officers declared unlawful. Its reference to "any public officer" is without distinction or qualification and it specifies the acts declared unlawful. We agree with the view adopted by the Solicitor General that the last sentence of paragraph (e) is intended to make clear the inclusion of officers and employees of officers or government corporations which, under the ordinary concept of "public officers" may not come within the term. It is a strained construction of the provision to read it as applying exclusively to public officers charged with the duty of granting licenses or permits or other concessions. The first element, therefore, of Section 3 (e) is that the accused must be a public officer. This, the informations did not fail to allege. Second, that such public officer caused undue injury to any party, including the Government, or gave any private party unwarranted benefits, advantage or preference in the discharge of his official administrative or judicial functions. Petitioner denies that there was injury or damage caused the Government because the payments were allegedly made on the basis of a document solely made by the Highway District Engineer to which petitioner had no hand in preparing. The fact, however, is that the government suffered undue injury as a result of the petitioner's having inflated the true claims of complainants which became the basis of the report submitted by the Highway District Engineer to the Regional Director of the Department of Highways and which eventually became the basis of payment. His contention that he had no participation is belied by the fact that as a right-of-way-agent, his duty was precisely to negotiate with property owners who are affected by highway constructions for the purpose of compensating them. On the part of the complainants, the injury caused to them consists in their being divested of a large proportion of their claims and receiving payment in an amount even lower than the actual damage they incurred. They were deprived of the just compensation to which they are entitled. Third, the injury to any party, or giving any private party any unwarranted benefits, advantage or preference was done through manifest, partiality, evident bad faith or gross inexcusable negligence. Petitioner argues that for the third element to be present, the alleged injury or damage to the complainants and the government must have been caused by the public officer in the discharge of his official, administrative or judicial functions and inasmuch as when the damage was caused to the complainants, he was no longer discharging his official administrative functions, therefore, he is not liable for the offense charged. The argument is devoid of merit. The Sandiganbayan established the fact that the petitioner took advantage of his position as a right-of-way-agent by making the claimants sign the aforementioned agreements to demolish and sworn statements which contained falsified declarations of the value of the improvements and lots. There was evident bad faith on the part of the petitioner when he inflated the values of the true claims and when he divested the claimants of a large share of the amounts due them. In view of the above holding. We also dispose of the fourth issue which relates to the allegation that petitioner cannot be convicted for a violation of the Anti-Graft Law because the evidence adduced by the prosecution is not the violation of Section 3 (e) but the crime of robbery. Contrary to the petitioner averment. We find no variance between the offense charged in the information and the offense proved. The prosecution was able to establish through the corroborating testimonies of the witnesses presented how through evident bad faith, petitioner caused damage to the claimants and the Government. The manner by which the petitioner divested the private parties of the compensation they received was part of' the scheme which commenced when the petitioner approached the claimants and informed them that he could work out their claims for payment of the values of their lots and/or improvements affected by the widening of the Pasig-Sta. Cruz-Calamba Road. The evidence presented by the prosecution clearly establish a violation of Section 3(e). II. The petitioner also assails the competency of the Sandiganbayan to hear and decide this case. He argues that before the Sandiganbayan could legally function as a judicial body, at least two (2) divisions, or majority of the justices shall have been duly constituted and appointed. We previously ruled on this matter in the case of De Guzman v. People (G.R. No. 54288, December 15, 1982, 119 SCRA 337). In that case, the petitioner De Guzman questioned the authority of the Sandiganbayan to hear and decide his case on the same ground that herein petitioner assails its jurisdiction. The Court upheld the authority of the Sandiganbayan saying that: Although the Sandiganbayan is composed of a Presiding Justice, and eight Associate Justices, it does not mean that it cannot validly function without all of the Divisions constituted. Section 3 of P.D. 1606 provides that the "Sandiganbayan shall sit in three divisions of three justices each" while Section 5 thereof provides that the unanimous vote of three justices of a division shall be necessary for the pronouncement of a judgment. Thus the Sandiganbayan functions in Divisions of three Justices each and each Division functions independently of the other. As long as a division has been duly constituted it is a judicial body whose pronouncements are binding as judgments of the Sandiganbayan. The judgment convicting petitioner was a unanimous Decision of the First Division duly constituted. It thus met the requirement for the pronouncement of a judgment as required by Section 5 of P.D. 1606 supra. III. The third issue raised by the petitioner concerns the penalty imposed by the Sandiganbayan which totals fifty-six (56) years and eight (8) days of imprisonment. Petitioner impugns this as contrary to the three-fold rule and insists that the duration of the aggregate penalties should not exceed forty (40) years. Petitioner is mistaken in his application of the three-fold rule as set forth in Article 70 of the Revised Penal Code. This article is to be taken into account not in the imposition of the penalty but in connection with the service of the sentence imposed (People v. Escares, 102 Phil. 677 [1957]). Article 70 speaks of "service" of sentence, "duration" of penalty and penalty "to be inflicted". Nowhere in the article is anything mentioned about the "imposition of penalty". It merely provides that the prisoner cannot be made to serve more than three times the most severe of these penalties the maximum of which is forty years. The Sandiganbayan, therefore, did not commit any error in imposing eight penalties for the eight informations filed against the accused-petitioner. As We pointed out in the case of People v. Peralta, (No. L-19069, October 29, 1968, 25 SCRA 759, 783-784): ... Even without the authority provided by Article 70, courts can still impose as many penalties as there are separate and distinct offenses committed, since for every individual crime committed, a corresponding penalty is prescribed by law. Each single crime is an outrage against the State for which the latter, thru the courts of justice, has the power to impose the appropriate penal sanctions.

In the light of the above reasons, petitioner cannot assail the penalty imposed upon him as harsh, cruel and unusual (See Veniegas v. People, G.R. No. 57601-06 July 20, 1982, 115 SCRA 790, 792). We deem it unnecessary to pass upon the fifth issue raised in view of the foregoing discussion. WHEREFORE, the petition is denied for lack of merit. 2. Plunder Republic Act No. 7080 July 12, 1991 AN ACT DEFINING AND PENALIZING THE CRIME OF PLUNDER Be it enacted by the Senate and House of Representatives of the Philippines in Congress assembled:: Section 1. Definition of Terms - As used in this Act, the term a) Public Officer means any person holding any public office in the Government of the Republic of the Philippines by virtue of an appointment, election or contract. b) Government includes the National Government, and any of its subdivisions, agencies or instrumentalities, including government-owned or controlled corporations and their subsidiaries. c) Person includes any natural or juridical person, unless the context indicates otherwise. d) Ill-gotten wealth means any asset, property, business enterprise or material possession of any person within the purview of Section Two (2) hereof, acquired by him directly or indirectly through dummies, nominees, agents, subordinates and/or business associates by any combination or series of the following means or similar schemes: 1) Through misappropriation, conversion, misuse, or malversation of public funds or raids on the public treasury; 2) By receiving, directly or indirectly, any commission, gift, share, percentage, kickbacks or any other form of pecuniary benefit from any person and/or entity in connection with any government contract or project or by reason of the office or position of the public officer concerned; 3) By the illegal or fraudulent conveyance or disposition of assets belonging to the National Government or any of its subdivisions, agencies or instrumentalities or government-owned or -controlled corporations and their subsidiaries; 4) By obtaining, receiving or accepting directly or indirectly any shares of stock, equity or any other form of interest or participation including promise of future employment in any business enterprise or undertaking; 5) By establishing agricultural, industrial or commercial monopolies or other combinations and/or implementation of decrees and orders intended to benefit particular persons or special interests; or 6) By taking undue advantage of official position, authority, relationship, connection or influence to unjustly enrich himself or themselves at the expense and to the damage and prejudice of the Filipino people and the Republic of the Philippines. See Section 2 As amended by Section 12 of RA No.7659 Section 2. Definition of the Crime of Plunder; Penalties - Any public officer who, by himself or in connivance with members of his family, relatives by affinity or consanguinity, business associates, subordinates or other persons, amasses, accumulates or acquires ill-gotten wealth through a combination or series of overt or criminal acts as described in Section 1(d) hereof, in the aggregate amount or total value of at least Seventy-five million pesos (P75,000,000.00), shall be guilty of the crime of plunder and shall be punished by life imprisonment with perpetual absolute disqualification from holding any public office. Any person who participated with said public officer in the commission of plunder shall likewise be punished. In the imposition of penalties, the degree of participation and the attendance of mitigating and extenuating circumstances shall be considered by the court. The court shall declare any and all ill-gotten wealth and their interests and other incomes and assets including the properties and shares of stock derived from the deposit or investment thereof forfeited in favor of the State. Section 3. Competent Court - Until otherwise provided by law, all prosecutions under this Act shall be within the original jurisdiction of the Sandiganbayan. Section 4. Rule of Evidence - For purposes of establishing the crime of plunder, it shall not be necessary to prove each and every criminal act done by the accused in furtherance of the scheme or conspiracy to amass, accumulate or acquire ill-gotten wealth, it being sufficient to establish beyond reasonable doubt a pattern of overt or criminal acts indicative of the overall unlawful scheme or conspiracy. Section 5. Suspension and Loss of Benefits - Any public officer against whom any criminal prosecution under a valid information under this Act in whatever stage of execution and mode of participation, is pending in court, shall be suspended from office. Should he be convicted by final judgment, he shall lose all retirement or gratuity benefits under any law, but if he is acquitted, he shall be entitled to reinstatement and to the salaries and other benefits which he failed to receive during suspension, unless in the meantime, administrative proceedings have been filed against him. Section 6. Prescription of Crimes - The crime punishable under this Act shall prescribe in twenty (20) years. However, the right of the State to recover properties unlawfully acquired by public officers from them or from their nominees or transferees shall not be barred by prescription, laches, or estoppel. Section 7. Separability of Provisions - If any provisions of this Act or the application thereof to any person or circumstance is held invalid, the remaining provisions of this Act and the application of such provisions to other persons or circumstances shall not be affected thereby.

Section 8. Scope - This Act shall not apply to or affect pending prosecutions or proceedings, or those which may be instituted under Executive Order No. 1, issued and promulgated on February 28, 1986. Section 9. Effectivity - This Act shall take effect after fifteen (15) days from its publication in the Official Gazette and in a newspaper of general circulation. 4. Malversation G.R. No. 71581 March 21, 1990 CARMEN LABATAGOS, petitioner, vs. HON. SANDIGANBAYAN and PEOPLE OF THE PHILIPPINES, respondents. PADILLA, J.: This is a petition for review on certiorari of the decision of the Sandiganbayan (Third Division) * in Criminal Case No. 4799, finding the petitioner guilty beyond reasonable doubt as principal of the crime of malversation of public funds defined and penalized under Article 217, par. 4 of the Revised Penal Code. From January 1978 to December 1980, petitioner Carmen Labatagos was the cashier and collecting officer of the Mindanao State University MSU General Santos City. She filed a leave of absence for the months of March, April and May 1978 and did not discharge her duties for the said period. On 1 October 1980, Francisco T. Rivera, under Commission on Audit (COA) General Order No. 8022-117 (Exh. C) was designated leader of a team to conduct the examination of the cash and accounts of the petitioner. When the team conducted the examination, the petitioner did not have any cash in her posssession, so she was asked to produce all her records, books of collection, copies of official receipts and remittance advices and her monthly reports of collections. Based on the official receipts and the record of remittances for the period from January to August 1978, the audit examination disclosed that the petitioner collected the total amount of P113,205.58 (Exhs. A-1 and A-2) and made a total remittance to the Development Bank of the Philippines (DBP), the depository bank of the university, in the amount of P78,868.69, leaving an unremitted amount of P34,336.19. On the basis of similar official receipts and record of remittances, the audit examination further disclosed that for the period from January 1979 to June 6, 1980, the petitioner made a total collection of P327,982.00 (Exhs. B, B-1, and B-1-a) and remitted to the DBP the total amount of P256,606.25 (Exhs. B-2 and B-2-a) incurring a shortage of P71,365.75. The petitioner signed without exception both Reports of Examination (Exhs. A and B) as well as their supporting summaries. Thereafter, Francisco T. Rivera submitted his report on the examination to the Chairman, Commission on Audit, through the Regional Director, COA, Region IX (Exhs. A-4 and B-4). Subsequently, Rivera prepared the letters of demand corresponding to the two (2) audit reports (Exhs. A-3 and B-3) and served them personally on the petitioner who signed both letters. Despite the demand letters, the petitioner did not submit any explanation of her shortages. Hence, on 27 October 1981, the Tanodbayan filed with the Sandiganbayan an information charging petitioner with the crime of Malversation of Public Funds, committed as follows: That between the periods January 1978 to August 17, 1978, and January 1, 1979 to June 6, 1980, in General Santos City, Philippines, the said accused a public officer being then the Cashier and Collecting Officer of the Mindanao State University, General Santos Unit, General Santos City, who, by reason of the duties of her office was charged with the duty of collecting school dues and tuition fees of the students of said school, and of remitting to, or depositing with, the school's depository bank, the Development Bank of the Philippines, General Santos City branch, all money collections by way of school dues and tuition fees she collected as Cashier and Collecting Officer, was responsible and accountable for the funds collected and received by her, by reason of her position as Collecting Officer, did wilfully, unlawfully, feloniously and fraudulently, and with grave abuse of confidence, misappropriate, and embezzle the total sum of ONE HUNDRED FIVE THOUSAND SEVEN HUNDRED ELEVEN AND 94/100 P105,711.94), Philippine Currency, out of her collection of P441,187.58, during the aforesaid period, which sum of P105,711.94 she appropriated and converted to her own personal use and benefit, to the damage and prejudice of the Republic of the Philippines in said amount. 1 During the trial, petitioner in her defense claimed that she signed the audit reports on the understanding that her shortage would amount to only P2,000.00; that she could not be held accountable for the collections for March, April and May 1978 because she was on maternity leave; and that several disbursements in the total amount of P49,417.12 were not credited in her favor by the auditors. She claimed further that she should not be held accountable for the alleged misappropriations between the months of January 1978 and August 1978 in the amount of P34,336.19 because those who appropriated the amounts were her superiors and that the amounts taken were properly receipted but that the receipts were lost. Respondent Sandiganbayan, however, did not give weight nor credence to her defense. Hence, as previously stated, petitioner was found guilty beyond reasonable doubt of the crime of malversation of public funds. The petitioner then filed the instant petition, and alleged the following reasons why the petition should be granted; (1) that respondent court made manifestly mistaken inferences and misapprehended the significance of the evidence which resulted in the erroneous decision rendered in the case; and (2) that respondent court erred in finding the petitioner guilty of the crime charged when there is ample evidence submitted showing that she did not put the missing funds to her personal use. The petition is devoid of merit. The only issue to be resolved in this case is whether or not the guilt of the petitioner has been proved beyond reasonable doubt.

The established facts show that respondent court did not err in convicting petitioner for the crime of malversation. As held by said court: There is no merit in the accused's defense. Her claim that she signed the audit report and statement of collections and deposits prepared by the audit team of Francisco Rivera on the understanding that her shortage was only P2,000.00 is belied by the figures clearly reflected on the said documents. Exhibit A, the audit report which she signed without exception, shows that she incurred a shortage of P34,336.19 for the period from January to August 1978; while Exhibit A-1, the statement of her collections and deposits for the same period which she certified as correct, indicates the same amount of P34,336.19 as her shortage. Mrs. Ester Guanzon, the prosecution's rebuttal witness, confirmed that she assisted the accused in the collection of fees; that the accused filed application for maternity leave in March 1978 but continued reporting for work during that month; that the accused did not report for work in April 1978; and that she (Guanzon) was the one assigned to collect the fees in her stead. Miss Guanzon, however, explained that she turned over all her collections to the accused during all the times that she was assisting her in collecting the fees; and that even in April 1978 when the accused was physically absent from office, she also turned over her collections to the accused ill the latters house with the duplicate copies of the receipts she issued which the accused signed after satisfying herself that the amounts I turned over tallied with the receipts. There is color of truth to Mrs. Guanzon's explanation. All the collections for the months of March and April 1978 are fully accounted for they are itemized in the reports of collection, (Exhs. F and G) and shown to have been duly remitted in the remittance advices for those months. (Exhs. F-1 to F-5; G-1 and G-2). The auditor was correct in refusing to credit the accused with the three (3) different amounts mentioned in her letter of October 22, 1980. (Exh. 5) The first sum, P7,140.20, purporting to be refunds of tuition fees to students granted tuition privilages is hot supported by any official authorization for such refunds by the University authorities. Besides, the supposed list of students who were recipients of the refunds (Exh. 10) is incompetent evidence being a mere xerox copy uncertified as a true copy of an existing original. The second sum, P4,494.80 was purportedly spent for the cost of uniforms of the school and basketball balls. P2,100.00 in all (Exhs. 6 and 6-A), and the balance taken by Alikhan Marohombsar and Auditor Casan, (Exh. 6-B). The third amount, P6,702.12, was supposedly covered by vouchers submitted to the Auditor's office through Rosa Cabiguin. (Exh. 12-K) Again, the auditor did not err in not crediting the aforesaid sums to the accused's accountability. The P2,100.00 cost of uniforms and balls, unsupported by a duly accomplished and approved voucher, was not a valid disbursement. And since the alleged vouchers for P6,792.12 were not presented in evidence nor was any effort exerted to compel their production in court by subpoena duces tecum, the same was properly refused to be deduced from the incurred shortage of the accused. All the other sums allegedly taken from the accused by Director Osop, Alikhan Marohombsar and Auditor Casan totalling P31,070.00. (Exhs. 12, 12A, etc., 13-A and 14-A), supported as they are by mere pieces of paper, despite the admission by Director Osop of having signed some of them (Exhs. 12-A, 12-D, 12-E and 12-I) were not valid disbursements. Granting that the amounts reflected in the chits were really secured by the persons who signed them, the responsibility to account for them still rests in the accused accountable officer. Malversation consists not only ill misappropriation or converting public funds or property to one's personal use but also by knowingly allowing others to make use of or misappropriate them. 2 WHEREFORE, there being no reversible error in the questioned decision of respondent court and the issues raised in this petition being essentially factual, the petition for review is DENIED and the appealed decision is AFFIRMED. G.R. No. L-59670 LEONARDO N. ESTEPA, petitioner, vs. SANDIGANBAYAN and THE PEOPLE OF THE PHILIPPINES, respondents. Feliciano, J.: Petitioner Leonardo N. Estepa seeks to set aside the decision of the Sandiganbayan in Case No. 3658 convicting him of the crime of malversation of public funds through negligence and sentencing him to an indeterminate penalty of ten (10) years and one (1) day of prision mayor as minimum, to eighteen (18) years, eight (8) months and one (1) day of reclusion temporal as maximum. Petitioner Leonardo N. Estepa was charged in an information which read: That on or about January 24, 1980, in the City of Manila, Metro Manila, Philippines, and within the jurisdiction of this Court, said accused, being then Senior Paymaster, Treasurers Office, City Hall, Manila, and as such is a public officer accountable for the funds received by him by reason of his said position and charged with the duty of diligently safeguarding or looking after the funds placed under his custody, did then and there with great carelessness and unjustifiable negligence, fail to exercise that duty without counting the money during the individual distribution and segregation of said funds at the General Cashiers Room, before assuming total physical control thereof thereby allowing and permitting an unknown man to take, steal, misappropriate and embezzle to his personal use and benefit the amount of FIFTY THOUSAND (P50,000.00) PESOS, Philippine Currency, from the said cashiers room, as in fact that unknown person did take, steal, misappropriate, and embezzle the said amount to the damage and prejudice of the government in the aforesaid sum. CONTRARY TO LAW. 1 Upon arraignment, Estepa pleaded not guilty. After trial, the Sandiganbayan rendered a decision convicting Estepa of the crime charged, the dispositive portion of which read: WHEREFORE, the Court finds Leonardo N. Estepa guilty beyond reasonable doubt as principal of malversation, defined and penalized under paragraph 4, Article 217 of the Revised Penal Code, and there being no aggravating nor mitigating circumstance in the commission of the offense, he is hereby sentenced to suffer an indeterminate penalty of Ten (10) Years and One (1) Day of prision mayor, as minimum; to Eighteen (18) Years, Eight (8) Months and One (1) Day of reclusion temporal, as maximum; to pay a fine of Fifty Thousand (P50,000.00) Pesos, without subsidiary imprisonment in case of insolvency; to suffer the penalty of perpetual special disqualification, to indemnify the City of Manila/National Government the amount of Fifty Thousand (P50,000.00) Pesos and to pay the costs.

His motion for reconsideration having been denied, Estepa filed the present Petition for Review. The Petition was given due course and the parties required to file briefs. In his brief, 2 petitioner Estepa assigns the following errors: I. Respondent court gravely erred in convicting petitioner of the came of malversation through negligence although the facts charged in the information do not constitute an offense or crime. II. Respondent court gravely erred in convicting petitioner to the crime of malversation through negligence although the prosecution has never proven beyond doubt that he possessed the allegedly lost money of P50,000.00 which is the material ingredient of the crime charged. III. Respondent court gravely erred in convicting petitioner of the crime of malversation through negligence by citing his other alleged negligent acts which were not alleged in the information, contrary to the due process clause of the 1973 Constitution. IV. Respondent court gravely erred in convicting petitioner of the crime of malversation instead of filing malversation charges against his superiors whose gross negligence really caused the loss of that amount. V. Respondent court gravely erred in convicting petitioner, because Justice Guerrero decided the criminal case against him contrary to Section 2 of Rule V of the Rules of Sandiganbayan, which prohibits the preparation of a decision by a court member who has never attended any session thereof as long as the other members are still with said court. From the record, the facts of the case may be collated as follows: In the morning of 24 January 1980, Leonardo N. Estepa, then a senior paymaster of the Cash Division of the City Treasurers Office of the City of Manila, together with nine (9) other paymasters and Cesar R. Marcelo, their Supervising Paymaster, went to the Philippine Nat ional Bank (PNB) to encash checks amounting to P7,640,000.00 representing the cash advances then being requisitioned by the ten (10) Paymasters. It turned out, however, that the cash value of those checks was not available at the PNB. Hence, the personnel from the City Treasurers Off ice, among them Estepa, accompanied by some officials of the PNB, proceeded to the Central Bank. In the presence of Marcelo, and the ten (10) paymasters, P7,640,000.00 in cash was counted out 3 and placed inside two (2) duffel bags which, after being properly sealed, were loaded inside an armored car and immediately transported to and deposited in the central vault of the City Treasurers Office of the City of Manila. Mr. Marcelo testified that there was a power brownout at about 1:00 to 2:00 p.m. on that day and the central vault, where t hey customarily distribute the cash advances was dark; that he decided with the concurrence of Atty. Kempis, the head of the Cash Division, to distribute the cash to the paymasters at the latters Kempis room which was well-lighted by the rays of the sun coming in through a side window. 4 Marcelo stated that in order to deter third persons from entering that room during the distribution, the door was closed and a guard was posted outside the room by the door. 5 In the presence of Atty. Kempis and the ten (10) paymasters, Marcelo opened the two (2) duffel bags and again counted out the amount of P7,640,000.00. 6 The bills were segregated and bundled in denominations of P100.00s, P50.00s, P20.00s and P10.00s up to the last coin, and placed on a big chaise lounge and on a table inside Atty. Kempis room. Some of the paymasters were assigned to take charge of the bundles of money, one paymaster for each denomination; however, Estepa was not one of those so assigned. As each paymaster was called, each paymaster in charge of a denomination handed to the requisitioner the number of bundles of that denomination corresponding to the amount being requisitioned. Thus, one at a time, the paymasters were called and given the amounts they had requisitioned. When Estepas turn came, Mr. Ma rcelo asked the paymasters in charge of the bundles of differing denominations to hand to Estepa the amount of P850,000.00. After all the ten (10) paymasters had gotten their money and while all of them were still inside that room, Mr. Marcelo, as was his usual practice, in a loud voice asked them in Pilipino if everything was fine. No complaint or protest was made by anyone of them, including Estepa, and all left the room uneventfully. 7 However, ten (10) minutes later, Estepa reported to Mr. Marcelo that the amount of P50,000.00 was missing from his cash advance. The latter immediately summoned back all ten (10) paymasters and with the help of the Assistant Cashier, counted once again the money just delivered to each of the ten (1) paymasters. It turned out that the amount received by each of them, except Estepa, was correct. Pacita Sison, an examiner from the Commission on Audit testified that on 25 January 1980? she had examined Estepas cash and accounts which showed that the latters account was short by P50,000.00. Thereupon, she reduced her finding into writing which document was signed by Estepa. 8 Estepa, upon receipt of a formal letter from the City of Manila demanding the amount of P50,000.00, submitted a written explanation denying his liability therefor. He alleged that he had only received the total amount of P800,000.00 and that the loss of the amount of P50,000.00 occurred before that sum was delivered to him. Estepa also executed on 5 February 1980 a sworn statement to that effect. Unconvinced, the Legal Office of the City of Manila filed a complaint against Estepa with the Tanodbayan. In turn, the Tanodbayan, after conducting a preliminary investigation, filed an information in the Sandiganbayan charging petitioner with the crime of malversation through negligence. Petitioners first contention is that the facts alleged in the information did not constitute an offense since there can be n o crime of malversation of public funds through mere failure to count the money. His second contention is that the prosecution had not established that he had in fact received the total amount of P850,000.00 and that therefore he should not be answerable for the loss of the P50,000.00. Lastly, he claims that he had not been negligent. We consider petitioners first argument to be without merit. We think that petitioners view of the information is a very narrow and carping one. It will be seen that the information charged him with having carelessly and negligently allowed an unknown person to steal or misappropriate the amount of P50,000.00; that he had failed to exercise his duty as a public officer accountable for public funds received by him and that he had failed to count the money turned over to him at the General Cashiers Room. The crime of malversation of public funds is defined under Article 217 of the Revised Penal Code in the following terms: ART. 217. Malversation of public funds or property. Presumption of malversation. Any public officer who, by reason of the duties of his office, is accountable for public funds or property, shall appropriate the same, or shall take or misappropriate or shall consent, or through abandonment or negligence, shall permit any other person to take such public funds or property, wholly or partially, or shall otherwise be guilty of the misappropriation or malversation of such funds or property, shall suffer:

1. The penalty of prision correccional in its medium and maximum periods, if the amount involved in the misappropriation or malversation does not exceed two hundred pesos. 2. The penalty of prision mayor in its minimum and medium periods, if the amount involved is more than two hundred pesos but does not exceed six thousand pesos. 3. The penalty of prision mayor in its maximum period to reclusion temporal in its minimum period, if the amount involved is more than six thousand pesos but is less than twelve thousand pesos. 4. The penalty of reclusion temporal in its medium and maximum periods, if the amount involved is more than twelve thousand pesos but is less than twenty-two thousand pesos. If the amount exceed the latter, the penalty shall be reclusion temporal in its maximum period to reclusion perpetua. In all cases, persons guilty of malversation shall also suffer the penalty of perpetual special disqualification and a fine equal to the amount of the funds malversed or equal to the total value of the property embezzled. The failure of a public officer to have duly forthcoming any public funds or property with which he is chargeable, upon demand by any duly authorized officer, shall be prima facie evidence that he has put such missing funds or property to personal use. (As amended by RA 1060.) Turning to the second contention of Estepa, we consider that it was proven beyond reasonable doubt that the amount of P850,000.00 had in fact been distributed to petitioner Estepa. The total amount of P7,640,000.00 was counted out by Mr. Marcelo, Supervising Paymaster, before the actual distribution to the ten (10) paymasters of the amounts respectively requisitioned by them. After petitioner Estepa had reported that P50,000.00 was lost or missing from the cash advance, Mr. Marcelo rounded up all the ten (10) paymasters and counted once again the money distributed to and held by each of the ten (10) paymasters. This recount showed that none of the nine (9) other paymasters had received an amount in excess of the amount requisitioned by each. In other words, in the recount after Estapa had reported his loss, the total amount of P7,590,000.00 was accounted for (P7,640,000 P50,000.00). The loss reported by Estepa occurred after turnover to him of the entire amount of P850,000.00. The explanation offered by Estepa of the loss of P50,000.00 was summarized by the Sandiganbayan in the following terms: In exculpation, accused narrated, inter alia, what transpired inside the room of Atty. Kempis during the partitioning of the money to the ten paymasters. According to him, the room of Atty. Kempis was closed to the public. Together with the other paymasters, accused witnessed the opening of the two duffel bags and counting of the money by Mr. Marcelo. There was no complaint of shortage. He placed them on one side of a sofa which was three meters away. Because some of the paymasters were already going out and accused was afraid that the public might enter the office of Atty. Kempis, accused decided to bring the money with smaller denominations to the table of Pangilinan which was three to four meters away leaving the bigger denomination at the sofa. He did this because accused could not carry the whole amount. By then, there were some people inside the office of Atty. Kempis and the latter was seated at his table. Thereupon, he brought the bundles of bigger denominations (P100s and P50s) directly to his cage and then returned for the bundles of smaller denominations. After counting the money inside his cage, he discovered that one bundle of P50.00 bills worth P50,000.00 was missing. He searched inside his cage looking at the floor where the bundle could have dropped because it was dark. After about ten minutes of futile search he reported the loss to Atty. Kempis. The Sandiganbayan, addressing the question of whether or not petitioner Estepa had been negligent in the handling of the money that he, along with the other nine (9) paymasters had received from the Supervising Paymaster, analyzed the foregoing explanation of petitioner Estepa in the following manner: There is no gainsaying that accused was present when the money which were to be withdrawn from the depository bank, was counted at the Central Bank. There was no shortage. Before his eyes, the entire amount was placed inside two duffel bags which were sealed and subsequently deposited in the central vault of the City Treasurers Office, Manila. When these two duffel bags were opened, accu sed as well as the other requisitioning paymasters were present. Again, Mr. Marcelo counted the money. No shortage. Thereupon, each paymaster received the amount he requisitioned. In the case of the accused, the total sum corresponding to his name was P850,000.00. It was at this moment when Mr. Marcelo asked the paymasters if they had received the correct amount by directing the question, Ayos na ba kayo diyan? No one answered includ ing accused. This is one phase of his negligence. If he had not yet fully counted the money he received, accused should have voiced himself out. Instead, he let the occasion pass in silence giving the impression that the money he had received was in accordance with the amount due him. His fault is not only limited to such inaction. By his own account, people were starting to enter the room of Atty. Kempis. Yet, he left the bundles of bigger denominations at the sofa without even asking somebody to watch for them and proceeded to the table of Mr. Pangilinan where he left the money of smaller denominations. From the sketch (see Exh. E) of the City Treasurers Office submitted by the accused, it is clear that the table of Mr. Pangi linan was outside the room of Atty. Kempis. The danger to the money left at the sofa was real. Again, he left the same bundles this time at Ms cage with nobody to watch them when he returned for the bundles of smaller denominations at the table of Mr. Pangilinan. Accused admitted that at that time, Eufrocinio Mendoza who shared the same cage with him, was not inside the cage. Prudence should have cautioned accused to wait for Mendoza before returning for the smaller denominations. Certainly, it was foolhardy to leave bundles of money of high denominations of Pl00 or P50 with no one to guard for them even only for a fleeting moment. In short, accuseds inexcusable negligence consisted of the following: (1) failure to check -and re-check the denominations by him before the paymasters dispersed, (2) not sounding off that he was not absolutely certain of the amount received when Mr. Marcelo asked the paymasters, Ayos na ba kayo diyan? (3) failure to ask Atty. Kempis or any other person to watch over the money of bigger denominations at his cage before he returned to the table of Mr. Pangilinan for the smaller denominations. Had he not been remiss on these, there would have been no opportunity for an unknown hand to surreptitiously get hold of the money. (Emphasis supplied) After careful examination of the records of this case, including the detailed testimony of the witnesses, we find no reason to depart from the conclusion reached by the Sandiganbayan that petitioner had indeed been negligent in the handling of the funds which had been turned over to him. In the crime of malversation, all that is necessary for conviction is proof that the accountable officer had received the public funds and that he did not have them in his possession when demand therefore was made and he could not satisfactorily explain his failure so to account. An accountable public officer may be convicted for malversation even if there is no direct evidence of personal misappropriation, where he has not been able to explain satisfactorily the absence of the public funds involved. 9

Under Article 217 of the Revised Penal Code, there is prima facie evidence of malversation where the accountable public officer fails to have duly forthcoming any public funds with which he is chargeable upon demand by duly authorized officer. As this Court has pointed out, this presumption juris tantum is founded upon human experience. 10 In the present case, petitioner was neither able to produce the missing amount of P50,000.00 nor adequately to explain his failure to produce that amount. Petitioners explanation leaves one thoroughly dissatisfied. If one took petitioners explanation seriously and literally, the mysterious, unseen third person could have picked up the missing bundle of P50.00 bills either (1) from the sofa inside the room of Atty. Kempis where he had left the bundles of large denomination bills, without asking anyone to keep an eye on them while he left the room; or (2) from petitioners cage outside Atty. Kempis room where he left the bundles of large denomination bills, again without anyone being left in charge thereof, while he went back to Mr. Pangilinans desk (also outside Atty. Kempis room) to retrieve the bundles of small denomination bills he had previously dep osited on top of said desk without, once more, getting some one to watch those bundles. Petitioners self-confessed coming and going from sofa to Pangilinans desk; back to sofa and then to his cage; and back to Pangilinans desk and finally to his cage created at least two (2) clear opportunities for the invisible third person to pick up the missing P50,000.00. Clearly, petitioner was very relaxed and casual in the handling of the bundles of money entrusted to him. Petitioner in fact tried to exculpate himself by suggesting that it was his superiors Atty. Kempis and Mr. Marcelo who had been negligent and whose negligence had really caused the loss of P50,000.00. We are unable to take seriously petitioners claim that because the superiors had no t waited for restoration of electric power in the office of the City Treasurer of Manila before proceeding with the distribution of the P7,640,000.00, his superiors should be held responsible for the loss. Concededly, it had not been customary to distribute funds in a room other than the central vault. However, the distribution was done in the room of Atty. Kempis which, petitioner Estepa had admitted, was sufficiently lighted by sunlight coming through one of the windows. Moreover, as already pointed out, except for Mr. Marcelo, Atty. Kempis, and the ten (10) paymasters and the person guarding the entrance of the room, no other persons had been allowed to enter the room until after all the ten (10) paymasters had received the correct amount requisitioned by them. Finally, since no one had asserted otherwise when Mr. Marcelo had asked the group if everyone had been served, as it were, he had no reason to suppose that petitioner then had not yet ascertained (as he now claims) whether he had received the frill P850,000.00. Finally, petitioner argues that the ponente, Associate Justice Buenaventura J. Guerrero had no authority to write the decision in Case No. 3658 because he was not a member of the First Division of the Sandiganbayan when that case was heard. Section 3, Rule V of the Sandiganbayan reads: Sec. 3. Assignment of Cases Permanent. Cases assigned to a division of the Sandiganbayan in accordance with these rules shall remain with said division notwithstanding changes in the composition thereof and all matters raised therein shall be deemed to be submitted for consideration and adjudication by any and all of the Justices who are members of the division aforesaid at the time said matters are taken up, irrespective of whether they were or were not members of the division at the time the case was first assigned thereto; Provided, however, that only such Justices who are members of the division at the time a case is submitted for decision shall take part in the consideration and adjudication of said case, unless any such member thereafter ceases to be a member of the Sandiganbayan for any reason whatsoever in which case any Justice chosen to fill the vacancy in accordance with the manner provided in Section 2, Rule III, of these Rules shall participate in the consideration and adjudication of said case; Provided, lastly that the Sandiganbayan en banc may, for special or compelling reasons, transfer cases from one division thereof to another. (Emphasis supplied.) Under the foregoing Section, any member of a Division of the Sandiganbayan who is such at the time a case is submitted for decision may take part in the consideration and adjudication of that case. In the instant case, we therefore agree with the Solicitor General that since Justice Guerrero was a member of the First Division of the Sandiganbayan at the time the case was submitted for decision, there was no legal objection to his writing the decision for the Division. WHEREFORE, the Petition for Review is DENIED for lack of merit and the Decision of the First Division of the Sandiganbayan dated 15 December 1981 is hereby AFFIRMED. G.R. No. 102356 February 9, 1993 CALINICO B. ILOGON, petitioner, vs. SANDIGANBAYAN and PEOPLE OF THE PHILIPPINES, respondents. CAMPOS, JR., J.: This is a petition for review on certiorari of the Decision * of the Sandiganbayan in Criminal Case No. 9776 entitled "People of the Philippines vs. Calinico B. Ilogon", dated May 14, 1991 finding petitioner guilty of the crime of Malversation of Public Funds as defined and penalized under Article 217 of the Revised Penal Code and sentencing him to the indeterminate penalty of from ten (10) years of prision mayor, as minimum, to fourteen (14) years of reclusion temporal, as maximum, with the accessory penalties of the law; to suffer the penalty of perpetual special disqualification; and to pay a fine in the sum of P118,003.10, an amount equal to the amount malversed, with costs. Petitioner Calinico B. Ilogon was the acting Postmaster of the Bureau of Posts in Cagayan de Oro City from July, 1978 to January, 1986. He likewise performed the task of accepting payments, making collections and effecting disbursement as there was no cashier employed during the period of his incumbency. He was adept at this work because, before his designation as Acting Postmaster he was, as a matter of fact, a duly-appointed cashier. On September 19, 1983, Commission on Audit Auditors Robin S. Aban and Alfonso A. Gala conducted an examination of the cash and accounts of petitioner covering the period from September 8, 1983 to September 13, 1988. The examination showed that the petitioner incurred a shortage in his accounts amounting to P118,871.29 itemized in the following manner: Accountability: Balance shown by your

cashbook on September 12, 1983 certified correct by you and verified by us P171,999.42 Credits to Accountability: Deduct: Cash, checks, and treasury warrants P 40,116.13 cash items allowed 13,012.00 P 53,128.13 Shortage P 118,871.29 1 ========= The amount of shortage was later reduced to P118,003.10. This shortage represents the following: 1. Vales P 8,846.00 2. Cash shortage (paid vouchers) already reimbursed and/or paid and received by you P 48,028.58 3. Cash items disallowed (paid vouchers) already reimbursed and/or paid and received by individual creditors P 5,787.97 4. Cash items disallowed (paid vouchers) amount disallowed by the Regional Office P 31,036.85 5. Cash items disallowed (paid vouchers) amount still payable non-budgetry expenses as certified by the accountant P 19,555.84 6. Actual shortage P 4,747.86 P 118,003.10 2 ========= On November 27, 1984, petitioner was charged with the crime of Malversation of Public Funds as defined and penalized under Article 217 of the Revised Penal Code in an Information 3 which reads as follows: That on or about September 13, 1983 or prior and subsequent thereto, in Cagayan de Oro City, Philippines, and within the jurisdiction of this Honorable Tribunal, the said accused, a public officer, being the Acting Postmaster of the Bureau of Posts of the said City, and as such accountable for the public funds collected and received by reason of his position, did then and there, wilfully, unlawfully and feloniously, and with grave abuse of confidence misappropriate, misapply and embezzle for his own personal use and benefit from the said funds, the total sum of ONE HUNDRED EIGHTEEN THOUSAND AND THREE PESOS AND TEN CENTAVOS (P118,003.10) Philippine Currency, to the damage and prejudice of the government. CONTRARY TO LAW. Before the Sandiganbayan, herein petitioner put up the following defense: 1. In respect to the shortage of P8,846.00, Item 1 in the auditor's letter of demand, the amount represents vales (cash advances) granted to postal employees of Cagayan de Oro City in payment of salaries or wages which the accused paid out to them, even before the period for which they were supposed to be paid. He received reimbursement checks on the 20th or 25th September, 1983 in payment thereof, but he remitted these payments to the Land Bank of the Philippines only on October 17, 1983, per Official Receipt Number 312164. . . . 2. As regards that category of shortage amounting to P48,028.58, the accused claims that this amount represents the aggregate of the cash advances to salaries of the Regional Director, Postal Inspector, and postal employees of Davao, Iloilo and other places who were assigned in Cagayan de Oro City. The accused did not have these amounts on hand when his cash and account were audited on September 13, 1983, because the reimbursements for the said cash advances were not yet in his possession. If they were, the amounts given were less than the amounts stated in the voucher, consisting, therefore, of partial liquidations. In case of a partial liquidation, he would simply annotate the partial payment in the voucher. He would not enter partial payments in the cash book.

3. Respecting that category of shortage amounting to P5,787.97, the accused explained that this shortage constituted cash advances to postal employees. While reimbursement checks had already been paid to the employees involved by the Regional Office of the Bureau of Posts, these employees had negotiated or encashed their reimbursement checks without turning over the proceeds thereof to the accused Acting Postmaster. The accused claims that the shortage had later been paid through a remittance he made in the Sum of P20,438.60, Exhibit "14", and in the amount of P65,000.00, Exhibit "10" xxx xxx xxx Finally, as regards the cash shortage of P4,747.86, the accused admitted the fact that he did not actually have this amount of cash when, during the audit, he was told to present all his cash on hand. It is his claim that all the while, this amount had in fact been in the possession of his teller. While he forgot to tell the auditors that the cash was actually with the teller, he remitted this amount to the Land Bank on September 19, 1983, as evidenced by Official Receipt No. 31176, Exhibit "11". 4 After trial, the respondent Sandiganbayan found petitioner guilty beyond reasonable doubt of the crime charged. Hence, this appeal. Petitioner would try to evade the application of Article 217 of the Revised Penal Code by arguing that he never misappropriated the amount of P118,003.10 for his own personal use as the bulk of it was given as cash advances to his co-employees. He pleads: . . . the act of petitioner in giving out vales and/or cash advances should not be condemned or be considered as a criminal act but should instead be lauded not only because the same was done purely for humanitarian reasons and that is to alleviate the plight of his co-employees during those hard times when the salaries of lowly government employees were very much below the ordinary level of subsistence and his desire to see to it that the public interest will not be jeopardized, . . ., but also because this has been the undisturbed practice in their office since time immemorial, even before the accused's incumbency . . . . 5 Petitioner's argument fails to persuade Us. In the crime of malversation, all that is necessary for conviction is proof that the accountable officer had received public funds and that he did not have them in his possession when demand therefor was made. There is even no need of direct evidence of personal misappropriation as long as there is a shortage in his account and petitioner cannot satisfactorily explain the same. 6 In this case, petitioner was the official custodian of the missing funds. He himself admitted the shortage of P118,003.10 in his cash and accounts as Acting Postmaster but could not give a satisfactory explanation for the same. he would invoke what he calls "humanitarian reasons" as the justification for the said shortage. But, like the accused Cabello v. Sandiganbayan, 7 petitioner herein knows that his granting of "chits" and "vales" which constituted the bulk of the shortage was a violation of the postal rules and regulations. Such practice, it was held in Cabello, is also prohibited by Memoramdum Circular No. 570, dated June 29, 1968, of the General Auditing Office. This Court went further to state that "giving vales" is proscribed under Presidential Decree No. 1445, otherwise known as the Government Auditing Code of the Philippines, specifically Section 69 thereof, which provides that postmasters are only allowed to use their collections to pay money orders, telegraphic transfers and withdrawals from the proper depository bank whenever their cash advances for the purpose are exhausted." 8 The fact that petitioner did not personally use the missing funds is not a valid defense and will not exculpate him from his criminal liability. And as aptly found by respondent Sandiganbayan, "the fact that (the) immediate superiors of the accused (petitioner herein) have acquiesced to the practice of giving out cash advances for convenience did not legalize the disbursements". The fact also that petitioner fully settled the amount of P188,003.10 later is of no moment. The return of funds malversed is not a defense. It is neither an exempting circumstance nor a ground for extinguishing the accused's criminal liability. At best, it is a mitigating circumstance. 9 In the light of the above finding and under the plain language of the applicable laws, We hold that the evidence was sufficient to sustain the verdict finding the petitioner guilty of the crime charged. The judgment of the Sandiganbayan is hereby AFFIRMED and the petition is DISMISSED. G.R. No. 116033 February 26, 1997 ALFREDO L. AZARCON, petitioner, vs. SANDIGANBAYAN, PEOPLE OF THE PHILIPPINES and JOSE C. BATAUSA, respondents. PANGANIBAN, J.: Does the Sandiganbayan have jurisdiction over a private individual who is charged with malversation of public funds as a principal after the said individual had been designated by the Bureau of Internal Revenue as a custodian of distrained property? Did such accused become a public officer and therefore subject to the graft court's jurisdiction as a consequence of such designation by the BIR? These are the main questions in the instant petition for review of Respondent Sandiganbayan's Decision 1 in Criminal Case No. 14260 promulgated on March 8, 1994, convicting petitioner of malversation of public funds and property, and Resolution 2 dated June 20, 1994, denying his motion for new trial or reconsideration thereof. The Facts Petitioner Alfredo Azarcon owned and operated an earth-moving business, hauling "dirt and ore." 3 His services were contracted by the Paper Industries Corporation of the Philippines (PICOP) at its concession in Mangagoy, Surigao del Sur. Occasionally, he engaged the services of subcontractors like Jaime Ancla whose trucks were left at the former's premises. 4 From this set of circumstances arose the present controversy. . . . It appears that on May 25, 1983, a Warrant of Distraint of Personal Property was issued by the Main Office of the Bureau of Internal Revenue (BIR) addressed to the Regional Director (Jose Batausa) or his authorized representative of Revenue Region 10, Butuan City commanding the latter to distraint the goods, chattels or effects and other personal property of Jaime Ancla, a sub-contractor of accused Azarcon and, a delinquent

taxpayer. The Warrant of Garnishment was issued to accused Alfredo Azarcon ordering him to transfer, surrender, transmit and/or remit to BIR the property in his possession owned by taxpayer Ancla. The Warrant of Garnishment was received by accused Azarcon on June 17, 1985. 5 Petitioner Azarcon, in signing the "Receipt for Goods, Articles, and Things Seized Under Authority of the National Internal Revenue," assumed the undertakings specified in the receipt the contents of which are reproduced as follows: (I), the undersigned, hereby acknowledge to have received from Amadeo V. San Diego, an Internal Revenue Officer, Bureau of Internal Revenue of the Philippines, the following described goods, articles, and things: Kind of property Isuzu dump truck Motor number E120-229598 Chassis No. SPZU50-1772440 Number of CXL 6 Color Blue Owned By Mr. Jaime Ancla the same having been this day seized and left in (my) possession pending investigation by the Commissioner of Internal Revenue or his duly authorized representative. (I) further promise that (I) will faithfully keep, preserve, and, to the best of (my) ability, protect said goods, articles, and things seized from defacement, demarcation, leakage, loss, or destruction in any manner; that (I) will neither alter nor remove, nor permit others to alter or remove or dispose of the same in any manner without the express authority of the Commissioner of Internal Revenue; and that (I) will produce and deliver all of said goods, articles, and things upon the order of any court of the Philippines, or upon demand of the Commissioner of Internal Revenue or any authorized officer or agent of the Bureau of Internal Revenue. 6 Subsequently, Alfredo Azarcon wrote a letter dated November 21, 1985 to the BIR's Regional Director for Revenue Region 10 B, Butuan City stating that . . . while I have made representations to retain possession of the property and signed a receipt of the same, it appears now that Mr. Jaime Ancla intends to cease his operations with us. This is evidenced by the fact that sometime in August, 1985 he surreptitiously withdrew his equipment from my custody. . . . In this connection, may I therefore formally inform you that it is my desire to immediately relinquish whatever responsibilities I have over the above-mentioned property by virtue of the receipt I have signed. This cancellation shall take effect immediately. . . . 7 Incidentally, the petitioner reported the taking of the truck to the security manager of PICOP, Mr. Delfin Panelo, and requested him to prevent this truck from being taken out of the PICOP concession. By the time the order to bar the truck's exit was given, however, it was too late. 8 Regional Director Batausa responded in a letter dated May 27, 1986, to wit: An analysis of the documents executed by you reveals that while you are (sic) in possession of the dump truck owned by JAIME ANCLA, you voluntarily assumed the liabilities of safekeeping and preserving the unit in behalf of the Bureau of Internal Revenue. This is clearly indicated in the provisions of the Warrant of Garnishment which you have signed, obliged and committed to surrender and transfer to this office. Your failure therefore, to observe said provisions does not relieve you of your responsibility. 9 Thereafter, the Sandiganbayan found that On 11 June 1986, Mrs. Marilyn T. Calo, Revenue Document Processor of Revenue Region 10 B, Butuan City, sent a progress report to the Chief of the Collection Branch of the surreptitious taking of the dump truck and that Ancla was renting out the truck to a certain contractor by the name of Oscar Cueva at PICOP (Paper Industries Corporation of the Philippines, the same company which engaged petitioner's earth moving services), Mangagoy, Surigao del Sur. She also suggested that if the report were true, a warrant of garnishment be reissued against Mr. Cueva for whatever amount of rental is due from Ancla until such time as the latter's tax liabilities shall be deemed satisfied. . . However, instead of doing so, Director Batausa filed a letter-complaint against the (herein Petitioner) and Ancla on 22 January 1988, or after more than one year had elapsed from the time of Mrs. Calo's report. 10 Provincial Fiscal Pretextato Montenegro "forwarded the records of the complaint . . . to the Office of the Tanodbayan" on May 18, 1988. He was deputized Tanodbayan prosecutor and granted authority to conduct preliminary investigation on August 22, 1988, in a letter by Special Prosecutor Raul Gonzales approved by Ombudsman (Tanodbayan) Conrado Vasquez. 11 Along with his co-accused Jaime Ancla, Petitioner Azarcon was charged before the Sandiganbayan with the crime of malversation of public funds or property under Article 217 in relation to Article 222 of the Revised Penal Code (RPC) in the following Information 12 filed on January 12, 1990, by Special Prosecution Officer Victor Pascual: That on or about June 17, 1985, in the Municipality of Bislig, Province of Surigao del Sur, Philippines, and within the jurisdiction of this Honorable Court, accused Alfredo L. Azarcon, a private individual but who, in his capacity as depository/administrator of property seized or deposited by the Bureau of Internal Revenue, having voluntarily offered himself to act as custodian of one Isuzu Dumptruck (sic) with Motor No. E120-22958, Chasis No. SPZU 50-1772440, and number CXL-6 and was authorized to be such under the authority of the Bureau of Internal Revenue, has become a responsible and accountable officer and said motor vehicle having been seized from Jaime C. Ancla in satisfaction of his tax liability in the total sum of EIGHTY THOUSAND EIGHT HUNDRED THIRTY ONE PESOS and 59/100 (P80,831.59) became a public property and the value thereof as public fund, with grave abuse of confidence and conspiring and confederating with said Jaime C. Ancla, likewise, a private individual, did then and there wilfully, (sic) unlawfully and feloniously misappropriate, misapply and convert to his personal use and benefit the aforementioned motor vehicle or the value thereof in the aforestated amount, by then and there allowing accused Jaime C. Ancla to remove, retrieve, withdraw and tow away the said Isuzu Dumptruck (sic) with the authority, consent and knowledge of the Bureau of Internal Revenue, Butuan City, to the damage and prejudice of the government in the amount of P80,831.59 in a form of unsatisfied tax liability. CONTRARY TO LAW. The petitioner filed a motion for reinvestigation before the Sandiganbayan on May 14, 1991, alleging that: (1) the petitioner never appeared in the preliminary investigation; and (2) the petitioner was not a public officer, hence a doubt exists as to why he was being charged with malversation

under Article 217 of the Revised Penal Code. 13 The Sandiganbayan granted the motion for reinvestigation on May 22, 1991. 14 After the reinvestigation, Special Prosecution Officer Roger Berbano, Sr., recommended the "withdrawal of the information" 15 but was "overruled by the Ombudsman." 16 A motion to dismiss was filed by petitioner on March 25, 1992 on the ground that the Sandiganbayan did not have jurisdiction over the person of the petitioner since he was not a public officer. 17 On May 18, 1992; the Sandiganbayan denied the motion. 18 When the prosecution finished presenting its evidence, the petitioner then filed a motion for leave to file demurrer to evidence which was denied on November 16, 1992, "for being without merit." 19 The petitioner then commenced and finished presenting his evidence on February 15, 1993. The Respondent Court's Decision On March 8, 1994, Respondent Sandiganbayan 20 rendered a Decision, 21 the dispositive portion of which reads: WHEREFORE, the Court finds accused Alfredo Azarcon y Leva GUILTY beyond reasonable doubt as principal of Malversation of Public Funds defined and penalized under Article 217 in relation to Article 222 of the Revised Penal Code and, applying the Indeterminate Sentence Law, and in view of the mitigating circumstance of voluntary surrender, the Court hereby sentences the accused to suffer the penalty of imprisonment ranging from TEN (10) YEARS and ONE (1) DAY of prision mayor in its maximum period to SEVENTEEN (17) YEARS, FOUR (4) MONTHS and ONE (1) DAY of Reclusion Temporal. To indemnify the Bureau of Internal Revenue the amount of P80,831.59; to pay a fine in the same amount without subsidiary imprisonment in case of insolvency; to suffer special perpetual disqualification; and, to pay the costs. Considering that accused Jaime Ancla has not yet been brought within the jurisdiction of this Court up to this date, let this case be archived as against him without prejudice to its revival in the event of his arrest or voluntary submission to the jurisdiction of this Court. SO ORDERED. Petitioner, through new counsel, 22 filed a motion for new trial or reconsideration on March 23, 1994, which was denied by the Sandiganbayan in its Resolution 23 dated December 2, 1994. Hence, this petition. The Issues The petitioner submits the following reasons for the reversal of the Sandiganbayan's assailed Decision and Resolution: I. The Sandiganbayan does not have jurisdiction over crimes committed solely by private individuals. II. In any event, even assuming arguendo that the appointment of a private individual as a custodian or a depositary of distrained property is sufficient to convert such individual into a public officer, the petitioner cannot still be considered a public officer because: [A] There is no provision in the National Internal Revenue Code which authorizes the Bureau of Internal Revenue to constitute private individuals as depositaries of distrained properties. [B] His appointment as a depositary was not by virtue of a direct provision of law, or by election or by appointment by a competent authority. III. No proof was presented during trial to prove that the distrained vehicle was actually owned by the accused Jaime Ancla; consequently, the government's right to the subject property has not been established. IV. The procedure provided for in the National Internal Revenue Code concerning the disposition of distrained property was not followed by the B.I.R., hence the distraint of personal property belonging to Jaime C. Ancla and found allegedly to be in the possession of the petitioner is therefore invalid. V. The B.I.R. has only itself to blame for not promptly selling the distrained property of accused Jaime C. Ancla in order to realize the amount of back taxes owed by Jaime C. Ancla to the Bureau. 24 In fine, the fundamental issue is whether the Sandiganbayan had jurisdiction over the subject matter of the controversy. Corollary to this is the question of whether petitioner can be considered a public officer by reason of his being designated by the Bureau of Internal Revenue as a depositary of distrained property. The Court's Ruling The petition is meritorious. Jurisdiction of the Sandiganbayan It is hornbook doctrine that in order "(to) ascertain whether a court has jurisdiction or not, the provisions of the law should be inquired into." 25 Furthermore, "the jurisdiction of the court must appear clearly from the statute law or it will not be held to exist. It cannot be presumed or implied." 26 And for this purpose in criminal cases, "the jurisdiction of a court is determined by the law at the time of commencement of the action." 27

In this case, the action was instituted with the filing of this information on January 12, 1990; hence, the applicable statutory provisions are those of P.D. No. 1606, as amended by P.D. No. 1861 on March 23, 1983, but prior to their amendment by R.A. No. 7975 on May 16, 1995. At that time, Section 4 of P.D. No. 1606 provided that: Sec. 4. Jurisdiction. The Sandiganbayan shall exercise: (a) Exclusive original jurisdiction in all cases involving: (1) Violations of Republic Act No. 3019, as amended, otherwise known as the Anti-Graft and Corrupt Practices Act, Republic Act No. 1379, and Chapter II, Section 2, Title VII of the Revised Penal Code; (2) Other offenses or felonies committed by public officers and employees in relation to their office, including those employed in government-owned or controlled corporations, whether simple or complexed with other crimes, where the penalty prescribed by law is higher than prision correccional or imprisonment for six (6) years, or a fine of P6,000.00: PROVIDED, HOWEVER, that offenses or felonies mentioned in this paragraph where the penalty prescribed by law does not exceed prision correccional or imprisonment for six (6) years or a fine of P6,000.00 shall be tried by the proper Regional Trial Court, Metropolitan Trial Court, Municipal Trial Court and Municipal Circuit Trial Court. xxx xxx xxx In case private individuals are charged as co-principals, accomplices or accessories with the public officers or employees, including those employed in government-owned or controlled corporations, they shall be tried jointly with said public officers and employees. xxx xxx xxx The foregoing provisions unequivocally specify the only instances when the Sandiganbayan will have jurisdiction over a private individual, i.e. when the complaint charges the private individual either as a co-principal, accomplice or accessory of a public officer or employee who has been charged with a crime within its jurisdiction. Azarcon: A Public Officer or A Private Individual? The Information does not charge petitioner Azarcon of being a co-principal, accomplice or accessory to a public officer committing an offense under the Sandiganbayan's jurisdiction. Thus, unless petitioner be proven a public officer, the Sandiganbayan will have no jurisdiction over the crime charged. Article 203 of the RPC determines who are public officers: Who are public officers. For the purpose of applying the provisions of this and the preceding titles of the book, any person who, by direct provision of the law, popular election, popular election or appointment by competent authority, shall take part in the performance of public functions in the Government of the Philippine Islands, or shall perform in said Government or in any of its branches public duties as an employee, agent, or subordinate official, of any rank or classes, shall be deemed to be a public officer. Thus, (to) be a public officer, one must be (1) Taking part in the performance of public functions in the government, or Performing in said Government or any of its branches public duties as an employee, agent, or subordinate official, of any rank or class; and (2) That his authority to take part in the performance of public functions or to perform public duties must be a. by direct provision of the law, or b. by popular election, or c. by appointment by competent authority. 28 Granting arguendo that the petitioner, in signing the receipt for the truck constructively distrained by the BIR, commenced to take part in an activity constituting public functions, he obviously may not be deemed authorized by popular election. The next logical query is whether petitioner's designation by the BIR as a custodian of distrained property qualifies as appointment by direct provision of law, or by competent authority. 29 We answer in the negative. The Solicitor General contends that the BIR, in effecting constructive distraint over the truck allegedly owned by Jaime Ancla, and in requiring Petitioner Alfredo Azarcon who was in possession thereof to sign a pro forma receipt for it, effectively "designated" petitioner a depositary and, hence, citing U.S. vs. Rastrollo, 30 a public officer. 31 This is based on the theory that (t)he power to designate a private person who has actual possession of a distrained property as a depository of distrained property is necessarily implied in the BIR's power to place the property of a delinquent tax payer (sic) in distraint as provided for under Sections 206, 207 and 208 (formerly Sections 303, 304 and 305) of the National Internal Revenue Code, (NIRC) . . . . 32 We disagree. The case of U.S. vs. Rastrollo is not applicable to the case before us simply because the facts therein are not identical, similar or analogous to those obtaining here. While the cited case involved a judicial deposit of the proceeds of the sale of attached property in the hands of the debtor, the case at bench dealt with the BIR's administrative act of effecting constructive distraint over alleged property of taxpayer Ancla in relation to his back taxes, property which was received by Petitioner Azarcon. In the cited case, it was clearly within the scope of that court's jurisdiction and judicial power to constitute the judicial deposit and give "the depositary a character equivalent to that of a public official." 33 However, in the instant case, while the BIR had authority to require Petitioner Azarcon to sign a receipt for the distrained truck, the NIRC did not grant it power to appoint Azarcon a public officer.

It is axiomatic in our constitutional framework, which mandates a limited government, that its branches and administrative agencies exercise only that power delegated to them as "defined either in the Constitution or in legislation or in both." 34 Thus, although the "appointing power is the exclusive prerogative of the President, . . ." 35 the quantum of powers possessed by an administrative agency forming part of the executive branch will still be limited to that "conferred expressly or by necessary or fair implication" in its enabling act. Hence, "(a)n administrative officer, it has been held, has only such powers as are expressly granted to him and those necessarily implied in the exercise thereof." 36 Corollarily, implied powers "are those which are necessarily included in, and are therefore of lesser degree than the power granted. It cannot extend to other matters not embraced therein, nor are not incidental thereto." 37 For to so extend the statutory grant of power "would be an encroachment on powers expressly lodged in Congress by our Constitution." 38 It is true that Sec. 206 of the NIRC, as pointed out by the prosecution, authorizes the BIR to effect a constructive distraint by requiring "any person" to preserve a distrained property, thus: xxx xxx xxx The constructive distraint of personal property shall be effected by requiring the taxpayer or any person having possession or control of such property to sign a receipt covering the property distrained and obligate himself to preserve the same intact and unaltered and not to dispose of the same in any manner whatever without the express authority of the Commissioner. xxx xxx xxx However, we find no provision in the NIRC constituting such person a public officer by reason of such requirement. The BIR's power authorizing a private individual to act as a depositary cannot be stretched to include the power to appoint him as a public officer. The prosecution argues that "Article 222 of the Revised Penal Code . . . defines the individuals covered by the term 'officers' under Article 217 39 . . ." of the same Code. 40 And accordingly, since Azarcon became "a depository of the truck seized by the BIR" he also became a public officer who can be prosecuted under Article 217 . . . ." 41 The Court is not persuaded. Article 222 of the RPC reads: Officers included in the preceding provisions. The provisions of this chapter shall apply to private individuals who, in any capacity whatever, have charge of any insular, provincial or municipal funds, revenues, or property and to any administrator or depository of funds or property attached, seized or deposited by public authority, even if such property belongs to a private individual. "Legislative intent is determined principally from the language of a statute. Where the language of a statute is clear and unambiguous, the law is applied according to its express terms, and interpretation would be resorted to only where a literal interpretation would be either impossible or absurd or would lead to an injustice." 42 This is particularly observed in the interpretation of penal statutes which "must be construed with such strictness as to carefully safeguard the rights of the defendant . . . ." 43 The language of the foregoing provision is clear. A private individual who has in his charge any of the public funds or property enumerated therein and commits any of the acts defined in any of the provisions of Chapter Four, Title Seven of the RPC, should likewise be penalized with the same penalty meted to erring public officers. Nowhere in this provision is it expressed or implied that a private individual falling under said Article 222 is to be deemed a public officer. After a thorough review of the case at bench, the Court thus finds Petitioner Alfredo Azarcon and his co-accused Jaime Ancla to be both private individuals erroneously charged before and convicted by Respondent Sandiganbayan which had no jurisdiction over them. The Sandiganbayan's taking cognizance of this case is of no moment since "(j)urisdiction cannot be conferred by . . . erroneous belief of the court that it had jurisdiction." 44 As aptly and correctly stated by the petitioner in his memorandum: From the foregoing discussion, it is evident that the petitioner did not cease to be a private individual when he agreed to act as depositary of the garnished dump truck. Therefore, when the information charged him and Jaime Ancla before the Sandiganbayan for malversation of public funds or property, the prosecution was in fact charging two private individuals without any public officer being similarly charged as a co-conspirator. Consequently, the Sandiganbayan had no jurisdiction over the controversy and therefore all the proceedings taken below as well as the Decision rendered by Respondent Sandiganbayan, are null and void for lack of jurisdiction. 45 WHEREFORE, the questioned Resolution and Decision of the Sandiganbayan are hereby SET ASIDE and declared NULL and VOID for lack of jurisdiction. No costs. 5. Infidelity in the custody of prisoners G.R. No. L-58652 May 20, 1988 ALFREDO RODILLAS Y BONDOC, petitioner vs. THE HONORABLE SANDIGANBAYAN and THE PEOPLE OF THE PHILIPPINES, respondents. GUTIERREZ, JR., J.: This is a petition brought by Alfredo Rodillas y Bondoc asking for the reversal of a decision of the Sandiganbayan which found him guilty beyond reasonable doubt of the crime of Infidelity in the Custody of Prisoner Thru Negligence (Art. 224, RPC). The dispositive portion of the decision reads: WHEREFORE, judgment is hereby rendered finding accused Alfredo Rodillas y Bondoc GUILTY beyond reasonable doubt as principal in the crime of Evasion through Negligence, as defined and penalized under Article 224 of the Revised Penal Code, and there being no modifying circumstance to consider, hereby sentences him to suffer the straight penalty of FOUR (4) MONTHS and ONE (1) DAY of arresto mayor, to suffer eight (8) years and one (1) day of temporary special disqualification and to pay the costs of this action. SO ORDERED. (Rollo, p. 30) Petitioner Rodillas was charged with having committed the said crime in an information which reads as follows:

That on or about the 27th day of March, 1980, in the City of Caloocan, Philippines, and within the jurisdiction of this Honorable Court, said accused, being then a policeman duly appointed and qualified as such, hence a public officer, specially charged with the duty of keeping under his custody and vigilance and of conducting and delivery from the City Jail, Caloocan City to the Court of First Instance, Branch XXXIV, Caloocan City and return, one Zenaida Sacris Andres, a detention prisoner being tried for violation of Section 4, R.A. No. 6425, otherwise known as the Dangerous Drugs Act of 1972, under Crim. Case No. C-12888, did then and there with great carelessness and unjustifiable negligence, allow and permit said Zenaida Sacris Andres to have snacks and enter the comfort room at the second floor of the Genato Building, Rizal Avenue, Caloocan City after the hearing of said case, v,,ithout first ascertaining for himself whether said comfort room is safe and without any egress by which the said detention prisoner could escape, thereby enabling said Zenaida Sacris Andres, to run away and escape thru the window inside the comfort room, as in fact she did run away and escape from the custody of said accused. CONTRARY TO LAW. (Rollo, p. 6) The prosecution's evidence upon which the court based its finding of guilt is summarized as follows: ... accused herein is a Patrolman of the Integrated National Police Force of Caloocan City and assigned with the jail section thereof. On March 27, 1980, when he reported for work, he was directed by his superior, Corporal Victor Victoriano, officer-in-charge in assigning police officers to escort prisoners, to escort Zenaida Sacris deadline Andres, a detention prisoner, before the sala of Judge Bernardo Pardo of the Court of First Instance, Br.XXXIV, located at the Genato Building, Caloocan City, to face trial for an alleged Violation of the Dangerous Drugs Act of 1972, as the policewoman officer who was supposed to escort the said detainee was then sick. He and the detainee proceeded to the court building and arrived thereat between 8:30 and 9:00 o'clock in the morning. while waiting for the arrival of the judge at the courtroom, Pat. Orlando Andres, who happened to be in the court and a relative of the husband of said detention prisoner Zenaida, approached the accused and requested the latter if he could permit Zenaida to talk to her husband. The accused consented and Zenaida Andres had a short talk with her husband. After a short while, the presiding judge deferred the decision against her because of a new Presidential Decree revising some provisions regarding violations of the Dangerous Drugs Act. After the court had already adjourned, the husband of Zenaida requested the accused to allow them to have lunch as they were already very hungry. He consented to the request and they proceeded to the canteen located at the mezzanine floor of the court building (Exhibit 1).<re ||an1w> He took a seat beside Zenaida and Pat. Andres while the relatives of said detainee were seated at a separate table. While eating, the husband of Zenaida asked him if he could accompany his wife to the comfort room as she was not feeling well and felt like defecating. The accused accompanied Zenaida and a lady companion to the ladies' comfort room located at the second floor of the building (Exibit 2). Zenaida and her lady companion entered the comfort room, while he stood guard along the alley near the ladies' comfort room facing the door thereof (Exhibit 5). Not long after, the lady companion of Zenaida came out of the comfort room and told him that she was going to buy sanitary napkins for Zenaida as the latter was then bleeding and had a menstruation and could not go out of the comfort room. After ten minutes elapsed without the lady companion of Zenaida coming back, the accused became suspicious and entered the comfort room. To his surprise, he found Zenaida no longer inside the comfort room. He noticed that the window of said comfort room was not provided with window grills. He tried to peep out of the window by stepping on the flush tank which is just about 3 feet from the window and noticed that outside of the window there was a concrete eave extending down to the ground floor of the building which he presumed that Zenaida might have used as a passage in escaping (Exhibits 2-A, 3 and 4 to 4-C). He immediately went out to look for the escapee inside the building with the help of Pat. Andres but they were not able to see her. Pat. Andres advised him to go to Zenaida's house as she might be there, which home is located at Bagong Barrio, Caloocan City. Pat. Andres having told him that the husband of the escapee is from Rizal, Nueva Ecija, the accused borrowed the car of his brotherin-law and proceeded to said town. Upon arrival thereat, they contacted the relatives of Zenaida and asked for information as to her whereabouts, but they answered in the negative. They went back to Caloocan City and went again directly to Bagong Barrio to the house of Zenaida, arriving thereat at around 8:00 o'clock in the evening. While at the residence of Zenaida, Cpl. Victoriano arrived and the accused related to him about the escape of Zenaida. He formally reported the matter of his superior officer at the City Jail Capt. Leonardo Zamora. The accused declared further that as a jailer, he never had any training nor lecture by his superiors regarding the manner of delivering prisoners. However, he admitted that he did not inspect first the comfort room before he allowed Zenaida to enter because there were many females going in and out of said comfort room, and that he did not promptly report the escape earlier because they were then pressed for time to intercept Zenaida at the highway. (Rollo, pp. 18-21). The petitioner assigns the following errors: I WHETHER PETITIONER'S CONVICTION BY THE SANDIGANBAYAN BASED ONLY ON HIS ADMISSIONS WITHOUT THE PROSECUTION HAVING PRESENTED EVIDENCE TO PROVE HIS NEGLIGENCE WILL LIE. II WHETHER THE ACTS OF PETITIONER COULD BE QUALIFIED AS DEFINITE LAXITY AMOUNTING TO DELIBERATE NON-PERFORMANCE OF DUTY TO SUSTAIN HIS CONVICTION. (Brief for the petitioner, p. 5) In essence, the sole question to be resolved in the case at bar is whether, under the foregoing facts and circumstances, the respondent Sandiganbayan committed a reversible error in holding the petitioner guilty of infidelity in the custody of a prisoner through negligence penalized under Art. 224 of the Revised Penal Code. The petitioner specifically alleges that his conviction by the Sandiganbayan was based merely on his admissions without the prosecution presenting evidence to prove his negligence. Sec. 22, Rule 130 of the Rules of Court states that "the act, declaration, or omission of a party as to a relevant fact may be given in evidence against him. The admissions and declarations in open court of a person charged with a crime are admissible against him. (See U.S. v. Ching Po, 23 Phil. 578). The records show that the elements of the crime for which the petitioner was convicted are present. Article 224 of the Revised Penal Code states:

ART. 224. Evasion through negligence. If the evasion of the prisoner shall have taken place through the negligence of the officer charged with the conveyance or custody of the escaping prisoner, said officer shall suffer the penalties of arresto mayor in its maximum period to prision correccional in its minimum period and temporary special disqualification. The elements of the crime under the abovementioned article are: a) that the offender is a public officer; b) that he is charged with the conveyance or custody of a prisoner, either detention prisoner or prisoner by final judgment; and c) that such prisoner escapes through his negligence (See Reyes, L.B., Revised Penal Code, Book II, 1977 ed., p. 407). There is no question that the petitioner is a public officer. Neither is there any dispute as to the fact that he was charged with the custody of a prisoner who was being tried for a violation of the Dangerous Drugs Act of 1972. The only disputed issue is the petitioner's negligence resulting in the escape of detention prisoner Zenaida Andres. The negligence referred to in the Revised Penal Code is such definite laxity as all but amounts to a deliberate non-performance of duty on the part of the guard (Id., p. 408). It is evident from the records that the petitioner acted negligently and beyond the scope of his authority when he permitted his charge to create the situation which led to her escape. The petitioner contends that human considerations compelled him to grant Zenaida Andres requests to take lunch and to go to the comfort room to relieve herself. As a police officer who was charged with the duty to return the prisoner directly to jail, the deviation from his duty was clearly a violation of the regulations. In the first place, it was improper for the petitioner to take lunch with the prisoner and her family when he was supposed to bring his charge to the jail. He even allowed the prisoner and her husband to talk to each other at the request of a co-officer. It is the duty of any police officer having custody of a prisoner to take necessary precautions to assure the absence of any means of escape. A failure to undertake these precautions will make his act one of definite laxity or negligence amounting to deliberate non-performance of duty. His tolerance of arrangements whereby the prisoner and her companions could plan and make good her escape should have aroused the suspicion of a person of ordinary prudence. The request for lunch and the consequent delay was an opportunity for the prisoner to learn of a plan or to carry out an earlier plan by which she could escape. The plan was in fact carried out with the help of the lady who accompanied his prisoner inside the comfort room. The use of a toilet is one of the most familiar and common place methods of escape. It is inconceivable that a police officer should fall for this trick. The arrangement with a lady friend should have aroused the petitioner's suspicion because the only pretext given by the petitioner was that she was going to answer the call of nature. It was, therefore, unnecessary for her to be accompanied by anyone especially by someone who was not urgently in need of a toilet if the purpose was merely to relieve herself. Despite this, the petitioner allowed the two to enter the comfort room without first establishing for himself that there was no window or door allowing the possibility of escape. He even allowed the prisoner's companion to leave the premises with the excuse that the prisoner was having her monthly period and that there was a need to buy sanitary napkins. And he patiently waited for more than ten minutes for the companion to return. This was patent negligence and incredible naivette on the part of the police officer. Contrary to what the petitioner claims, the escape was not a confluence of facts and,circumstances which were not foreseen and were not unnatural in the course of things. Not only should they have been foreseen but they should have been guarded against. Considering that the city jail was only a kilometer away and it was only 11:30 a.m., it would not have been inhuman for the petitioner to deny the prisoner's request to first take lunch. Neither would it have been inhuman if he cleared the toilet of female occupants and checked all possible exists first and if he did not allow the lady companion to go with Zenaida Andres to the comfort room. These human considerations, however, are immaterial because the fact remains that as a police officer, he should have exercised utmost diligence in the performance of his duty. The supposed confluence of facts does not alter his liability. That he was not trained in escorting women prisoners is likewise unacceptable as there are no hard and fast rules of conduct under all conceivable situations for police officers acting as guards. However, they are expected to use prudence, diligence, and common sense. That Judge Pardo did not immediately pronounce judgment so the petitioner could have immediately brought Zenaida back to jail is inconsequential. In the first place, the escape would not have materialized had he immediately escorted her back to jail after the hearing. That he cannot follow the prisoner inside the comfort room because it would create a commotion, he being a male, is a lame excuse. There is nothing wrong in asking the ladies for permission so he could check the comfort room first to insure that the prisoner cannot escape. The fact that the building is made of concrete and the outside windows covered with grills should not make a police officer complacent especially because well-planned escapes are not uncommon. Escapes are, in fact, even presumed so much so that two (2) guards are usually assigned to a prisoner. (Tsn, August 4, 1981, p. 40) There appears to have been no genuine effort on the part of the petitioner to recapture the escapee. Instead of promptly reporting the matter so that an alarm could immediately be sent out to all police agencies and expert procedures followed, he allegedly tried to look for her in the latter's house in Caloocan and failing in this, proceeded to Nueva Ecija. It was only later in the evening that he formally reported the matter to his superior. This even gave the escapee greater opportunity to make good her escape because the chances of her being recaptured became much less. Such action requires concerted police effort, not a one-man job which petitioner should have been or was probably aware of. The petitioner further contends that he cannot be convicted because there was no connivance between him and the prisoner. In support of his claim, he cites the case of Alberto v. dela Cruz, (98 SCRA 406). The citation, however, is erroneous. It creates the impression that for one to be held liable under Art. 224, there must be a showing that he first connived with the prisoner. This was not the ruling in said case. Conniving or consenting to evasion is a distinct crime under Art. 223 of the Revised Penal Code. The petitioner here is not being charged with conniving under Art. 223 but for evasion through negligence under Art. 224 of the same Code. It is, therefore, not necessary that connivance be proven to hold him liable for the crime of infidelity in the custody of prisoners. We quote the Solicitor General that the Sandiganbayan's observation regarding escaped prisoners is relevant and timely. The Court stated: It is high time that the courts should take strict measures against law officers to whom have been entrusted the custody and detention of prisoners, whether detention prisoners or prisoners serving sentence. Laxity and negligence in the performance of their duties resulting in the mysterious

escapes of notorious criminals have become common news items, involving as it does the suspicion that monetary considerations may have entered into the arrangements which led to the successful escape of such notorious criminals even from military custody. No quarters should be extended to such kind of law officers who, deliberately or otherwise, fail to live up to the standard required of their duties, thus directly contributing not only to the clogging of judicial dockets but also to the inevitable deterioration of peace and order. (Brief for Respondents, pp. 17-18) WHEREFORE, the petition is hereby DISMISSED. The questioned decision of the Sandiganbayan is AFFIRMED.