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Case Digest in ConstiLaw 2

Luis A. Tabuena, et al. vs. Sandiganbayan (268 SCRA 332, February 17, 1 FACTS"


Then Pres. Ferdinand Marcos instructed Luis Tabuena, General Manager of the Manila International Airport Authority (MIAA), o er the phone to pay directly to the president!s office and in cash "hat the MIAA o"es the Phil. #ational $onstruction $orp. The erbal instruction "as reiterated in a Presidential %e%orandu%. In obedience to Pres. Marcos! instruction, Tabuena, "ith the help of Gerardo &abao and Adolfo Peralta, the Asst. Gen. Mgr. and the Acting Finance 'er ices Mgr. of MIAA, respecti ely, caused the release of P((M of MIAA funds of three ()) "ithdra"als and deli ered the %oney to Mrs. Fe *oa+Gi%ene,, pri ate secretary of Marcos. Gi%ene, issued a receipt for all the a%ounts she recei ed fro% Tabuena. Later, it turned out that P#$$ ne er recei ed the %oney. The case in ol es t"o (-) separate petitions for re ie" by Luis Tabuena and Adolfo Peralta. They appeal the 'andiganbayan decision con icting the% of %al ersation of MIAA funds in the a%ount of P((M. Further, petitioners clai%ed that they "ere charged "ith intentional %al ersation, as alleged in the a%ended infor%ation, but it "ould appear that they "ere con icted for %al ersation "ith negligence. .ence, their con iction of a cri%e different fro% that charged iolated their constitutional right to be infor%ed of the accusation. #SS$%" (/) (-) &%L'" (/) #o. Mal ersation is co%%itted either intentionally or by negligence. The dolo or the culpa present in the offense is only a %odality in the perpetration of the felony. 2 en if the %ode charged differs fro% the %ode pro ed, the sa%e offense of %al ersation is in ol ed. 3es. Tabuena acted in strict co%pliance "ith the MA*$4' Me%orandu%. The order e%anated fro% the Office of the President and bears the signature of the President hi%self, the highest official of the land. It carries "ith it the presu%ption that it "as regularly issued. And on its face, the %e%orandu% is patently la"ful for no la" %a5es the pay%ent of an obligation illegal. This fact, coupled "ith the urgent tenor for its e6ecution constrains one to act s"iftly "ithout 7uestion. 0hether or not the 'andiganbayan con icted the% of a cri%e not charged in the a%ended infor%ation1 and 0hether or not Tabuena and Peralta acted in good faith.


.o"e er, a %ore co%pelling reason for the A$89ITTAL is the iolation of the accused:s basic constitutional right to due process. *ecords sho" that the 'andiganbayan acti ely too5 part in the 7uestioning of a defense "itness and of the accused the%sel es. The 7uestions of the court "ere in the nature of cross e6a%inations characteristic of confrontation, probing and insinuation. Tabuena and Peralta %ay not ha e raised the issue as an error, there is ne ertheless no i%pedi%ent for the court to consider such %atter as additional basis for a re ersal since the settled doctrine is that an appeal thro"s the "hole case open to re ie", and it beco%es the duty of the appellate court to correct such errors as %ay be found in the ;udg%ent appealed fro% "hether they are %ade the sub;ect of assign%ents of error or not. The <cold neutrality of an impartial judge < re7uire%ent of due process "as certainly denied Tabuena and Peralta "hen the court, "ith its o er,ealousness, assu%ed the dual role of %agistrate and ad ocate. Ti%e and again the $ourt has declared that due process re7uires no less than the cold neutrality of an i%partial ;udge. That the ;udge %ust not only be i%partial but %ust also appear to be i%partial, to gi e added assurance to the parties that his decision "ill be ;ust. The parties are entitled to no less than this, as a %ini%u% guaranty of due process. .2#$2, Luis Tabuena and Adolfo Peralta are ac7uitted of the cri%e of %al ersation.

/digested by ETLope