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SECONDDIVISION

[G.R.Nos.16178486.April26,2005]

DINAH C. BARRIGA, petitioner, vs. THE HONORABLE SANDIGANBAYAN


(4THDIVISION)andTHEPEOPLEOFTHEPHILIPPINES,respondents.
DECISION
CALLEJO,SR.,J.:

ThisisapetitionforcertiorariunderRule65oftheRulesofCourtforthenullificationofthe
[1]
Resolution oftheSandiganbayaninCriminalCaseNos.27435to27437denyingthemotion
to quash the Informations filed by one of the accused, Dinah C. Barriga, and the Resolution
denyinghermotionforreconsiderationthereof.
TheAntecedents
OnApril3,2003,theOfficeoftheOmbudsmanfiledamotionwiththeSandiganbayanfor
the admission of the three Amended Informations appended thereto. The first Amended
Information docketed as Criminal Case No. 27435, charged petitioner Dinah C. Barriga and
Virginio E. Villamor, the Municipal Accountant and the Municipal Mayor, respectively, of
Carmen,Cebu,withmalversationoffunds.Theaccusatoryportionreads:
ThatinoraboutJanuary1996orsometimepriororsubsequentthereto,intheMunicipalityofCarmen,
ProvinceofCebu,PhilippinesandwithinthejurisdictionofthisHonorableCourt,abovenamedaccused
VIRGINIOE.VILLAMORandDINAHC.BARRIGA,bothpublicofficers,beingthentheMunicipal
MayorandMunicipalAccountant,respectively,oftheMunicipalityofCarmen,Cebu,andassuch,had
intheirpossessionandcustodypublicfundsamountingtoTWENTYTHREETHOUSANDFORTY
SEVENAND20/100PESOS(P23,047.20),PhilippineCurrency,intendedforthepaymentofFive(5)
rollsofPolyethylenepipestobeusedintheCorteCantumogWaterSystemProjectoftheMunicipality
ofCarmen,Cebu,forwhichtheyareaccountablebyreasonofthedutiesoftheiroffice,insuchcapacity
andcommittingtheoffenseinrelationtooffice,connivingandconfederatingtogetherandmutually
helpingeachother,didthenandtherewillfully,unlawfullyandfeloniouslymisappropriate,take,
embezzleandconvertintotheirownpersonaluseandbenefitsaidamountofP23,047.20,anddespite
demandsmadeuponthemtoaccountforsaidamount,theyhavefailedtodoso,tothedamageand
prejudiceofthegovernment.
[2]

CONTRARYTOLAW.

The inculpatory portion of the second Amended Information, docketed as Criminal Case
No.27436,chargingthesaidaccusedwithillegaluseofpublicfunds,reads:
ThatinoraboutthemonthofNovember1995,orsometimepriororsubsequentthereto,inthe

MunicipalityofCarmen,ProvinceofCebu,Philippines,andwithinthejurisdictionoftheHonorable
Court,abovenamedaccusedVIRGINIOE.VILLAMORandDINAHC.BARRIGA,bothpublic
officers,beingthentheMunicipalMayorandMunicipalAccountant,respectively,oftheMunicipalityof
Carmen,Cebu,andassuch,hadintheirpossessionandcontrolpublicfundsintheamountofONE
THOUSANDTHREEHUNDREDFIVEPESOS(P1,305.00)PhilippineCurrency,representinga
portionoftheCentralVisayasWaterandSanitationProjectTrustFund(CVWSPFund)intendedand
appropriatedfortheprojectsclassifiedunderLevelIandIIIparticularlytheconstructionofDeepWell
andSpringBoxforLevelIprojectsandconstructionofwaterworkssystemforLevelIIIprojectsof
specifiedbarangaybeneficiaries/recipients,andforwhichfundaccusedareaccountablebyreasonofthe
dutiesoftheiroffice,insuchcapacityandcommittingtheoffenseinrelationtooffice,connivingand
confederatingtogetherandmutuallyhelpingeachother,didthenandthere,willfullyunlawfullyand
feloniouslydisburseandusesaidamountofP1,305.00fortheSpringBoxofBarangayNatimaoan,
Carmen,Cebu,abarangaywhichwasnotincludedasarecipientofCVWSPTrustFund,thus,accused
usedsaidpublicfundtoapublicpurposedifferentfromwhichitwasintendedorappropriated,tothe
damageandprejudiceofthegovernment,particularlythebarangayswhichwereCVWSPTrustFund
beneficiaries.
[3]

CONTRARYTOLAW.

TheaccusatoryportionofthethirdAmendedInformation,docketedasCriminalCaseNo.
27437,chargedthesameaccusedwithillegaluseofpublicfunds,asfollows:
ThatinoraboutthemonthofJanuary1997,orsometimepriororsubsequentthereto,intheMunicipality
ofCarmen,ProvinceofCebu,Philippines,andwithinthejurisdictionofthisHonorableCourt,above
namedaccusedVirginioE.VillamorandDinahC.Barriga,bothpublicofficers,beingthenthe
MunicipalMayorandMunicipalAccountant,respectively,oftheMunicipalityofCarmen,Cebu,andas
such,hadintheirpossessionandcontrolpublicfundsintheamountofTWOHUNDREDSIXTY
SEVENTHOUSANDFIVEHUNDREDTHIRTYSEVENand96/100(P267,537.96)PESOS,
representingaportionoftheCentralVisayasWaterandSanitationProjectTrustFund(CVWSPFund),
intendedandappropriatedfortheprojectsclassifiedunderLevelIandLevelIII,particularlythe
constructionofSpringBoxandDeepWellforLevelIprojectsandconstructionofwaterworkssystem
forLevelIIIprojectsofspecifiedbarangaybeneficiaries/recipients,andforwhichfundaccusedare
accountablebyreasonforthedutiesoftheiroffice,insuchcapacityandcommittingtheoffensein
relationtooffice,connivingandconfederatingtogetherandmutuallyhelpingeachother,didthenand
therewillfully,unlawfullyandfeloniouslydisburseandusesaidamountofP267,537.96forthe
constructionandexpansionofBarangayCantucongWaterSystem,aprojectfallingunderLevelIIof
CVWSP,thus,accusedusedsaidpublicfundstoapublicpurposedifferentfromwhichitwasintended
andappropriated,tothedamageandprejudiceofthegovernment,particularlythebarangaybeneficiaries
ofLevelsIandIIIofCVWSP.
[4]

CONTRARYTOLAW.

The Sandiganbayan granted the motion and admitted the Amended Informations. The
petitioner filed a Motion to Quash the said Amended Informations on the ground that under
Section 4 of Republic Act No. 8294, the Sandiganbayan has no jurisdiction over the crimes
charged. She averred that the Amended Informations failed to allege and show the intimate
relationbetweenthecrimeschargedandherofficialdutiesasmunicipalaccountant,whichare
conditions sine qua non for the graft court to acquire jurisdiction over the said offense. She
averred that the prosecution and the Commission on Audit admitted, and no less than this
[5]

Court held in Tan v. Sandiganbayan, that a municipal accountant is not an accountable

officer.Sheallegedthatthefeloniesofmalversationandillegaluseofpublicfunds,forwhich
she is charged, are not included in Chapter 11, Section 2, Title VII, Book II, of the Revised
PenalCodehence,theSandiganbayanhasnojurisdictionoverthesaidcrimes.Moreover,her
positionasmunicipalaccountantisclassifiedasSalaryGrade(SG)24.
ThepetitioneralsopositedthatalthoughtheSandiganbayanhasjurisdictionoveroffenses
committedbypublicofficialsandemployeesinrelationtotheiroffice,themereallegationinthe
AmendedInformationsthatshecommittedtheoffenseschargedinrelationtoherofficeisnot
sufficient as the phrase is merely a conclusion of law controlling are the specific factual
allegationsintheInformationsthatwouldindicatethecloseintimacybetweenthedischargeof
herofficialdutiesandthecommissionoftheoffensescharged.Tobolsterherstance,shecited
[6]
[7]
the rulings of this Court in People v. Montejo, Soller v. Sandiganbayan, and Lacson v.
[8]

ExecutiveSecretary. ShefurthercontendedthatalthoughtheAmendedInformationsalleged
thatsheconspiredwithhercoaccusedtocommitthecrimescharged,theyfailedtoallegeand
showherexactparticipationintheconspiracyandhowshecommittedthecrimescharged.She
also pointed out that the funds subject of the said Amended Informations were not under her
controloradministration.
[9]

OnOctober9,2003,theSandiganbayanissuedaResolution denyingthemotionofthe
petitioner. The motion for reconsideration thereof was, likewise, denied, with the graft court
[10]
holdingthattheapplicablerulingofthisCourtwasMontillav.Hilario, i.e.,thatanoffenseis
committed in relation to public office when there is a direct, not merely accidental, relation
between the crime charged and the office of the accused such that, in a legal sense, the
offense would not exist without the office in other words, the office must be a constituent
elementofthecrimeasdefinedinthestatute.Thegraftcourtfurtherheldthattheofficesofthe
municipal mayor and the municipal accountant were constituent elements of the felonies of
malversationandillegaluseofpublicfunds.Thegraftcourtemphasizedthattherulingsofthis
[11]

[12]

CourtinPeoplev.Montejo andLacsonv.ExecutiveSecretary applyonlywheretheoffice


held by the accused is not a constituent element of the crimes charged. In such cases, the
Informationmustcontainspecificfactualallegationsshowingthatthecommissionofthecrimes
charged is intimately connected with or related to the performance of the accused public
officerspublicfunctions.Infine,thegraftcourtopined,thebasicruleisthatenunciatedbythis
CourtinMontillav.Hilario,andtherulingofthisCourtinPeoplev.Montejoistheexception.
The petitioner thus filed the instant petition for certiorari under Rule 65 of the Rules of
Court,seekingtonullifytheaforementionedResolutionsoftheSandiganbayan.Thepetitioner
claimsthatthegraftcourtcommittedgraveabuseofitsdiscretionamountingtoexcessorlack
ofjurisdictioninissuingthesame.
Initscommentonthepetition,theOfficeoftheSpecialProsecutoraverredthattheremedy
of filing a petition for certiorari, from a denial of a motion to quash amended information, is
improper. It posits that any error committed by the Sandiganbayan in denying the petitioners
motiontoquashismerelyanerrorofjudgmentandnotofjurisdiction.Itassertsthatasruledby
theSandiganbayan,whatappliesistherulingofthisCourtinMontillav.HilarioandnotPeople
v. Montejo. Furthermore, the crimes of malversation and illegal use of public funds are
classifiedascrimescommittedbypublicofficersinrelationtotheiroffice,whichbytheirnature
fall within the jurisdiction of the Sandiganbayan. It insists that there is no more need for the
AmendedInformationstospecificallyallegeintimacybetweenthecrimeschargedandtheoffice
oftheaccusedsincethesaidcrimescanonlybecommittedbypublicofficers.Itfurtherclaims
that the petitioner has been charged of malversation and illegal use of public funds in
conspiracywithMunicipalMayorVirginioE.Villamor,whooccupiesapositionclassifiedasSG

27 and even if the petitioners position as municipal accountant is only classified as SG 24,
under Section 4 of Rep. Act No. 8249, the Sandiganbayan still has jurisdiction over the said
crimes.TheOfficeoftheSpecialProsecutorfurtheraversthatthepetitionersclaim,thatsheis
notanaccountableofficer,isamatterofdefense.
TheRulingoftheCourt
Thepetitionhasnomerit.
We agree with the ruling of the Sandiganbayan that based on the allegations of the
Amended Informations and Rep. Act No. 8249, it has original jurisdiction over the crimes of
malversation and illegal use of public funds charged in the Amended Informations subject of
thispetition.
[13]

Rep.ActNo.8249, whichamendedSection4ofPresidentialDecreeNo.1606,provides,
interalia,thattheSandiganbayanhasoriginaljurisdictionovercrimesandfeloniescommitted
by public officers and employees, at least one of whom belongs to any of the five categories
[14]

thereunderenumeratedatthetimeofthecommissionofsuchcrimes. Therearetwoclasses
ofpublicofficerelatedcrimesundersubparagraph(b)ofSection4ofRep.ActNo.8249:first,
thosecrimesorfeloniesinwhichthepublicofficeisaconstituentelementasdefinedbystatute
andtherelationbetweenthecrimeandtheoffenseissuchthat,inalegalsense,theoffense
[15]
committed cannot exist without the office second, such offenses or felonies which are
intimatelyconnectedwiththepublicofficeandareperpetratedbythepublicofficeroremployee
[16]
whileintheperformanceofhisofficialfunctions,throughimproperorirregularconduct.
The Sandiganbayan has original jurisdiction over criminal cases involving crimes and
felonies under the first classification. Considering that the public office of the accused is by
statuteaconstituentelementofthecrimecharged,thereisnoneedfortheProsecutortostate
intheInformationspecificfactualallegationsoftheintimacybetweentheofficeandthecrime
charged,orthattheaccusedcommittedthecrimeintheperformanceofhisduties.However,
the Sandiganbayan likewise has original jurisdiction over criminal cases involving crimes or
felonies committed by the public officers and employees enumerated in Section (a) (1) to (5)
underthesecondclassificationiftheInformationcontainsspecificfactualallegationsshowing
theintimateconnectionbetweentheoffensechargedandthepublicofficeoftheaccused,and
[17]
the discharge of his official duties or functions whether improper or irregular. The
requirementisnotcompliedwithiftheInformationmerelyallegesthattheaccusedcommitted
thecrimechargedinrelationtohisofficebecausesuchallegationismerelyaconclusionoflaw.
[18]

Two of the felonies that belong to the first classification are malversation defined and
penalized by Article 217 of the Revised Penal Code, and the illegal use of public funds or
property defined and penalized by Article 220 of the same Code. The public office of the
accusedisaconstituentelementinbothfelonies.
For the accused to be guilty of malversation, the prosecution must prove the following
essentialelements:
(a)Theoffenderisapublicofficer

(b)Hehasthecustodyorcontroloffundsorpropertybyreasonofthedutiesofhisoffice
(c)Thefundsorpropertyinvolvedarepublicfundsorpropertyforwhichheisaccountableand
(d)Hehasappropriated,takenormisappropriated,orhasconsentedto,orthroughabandonmentor
[19]

negligence,permittedthetakingbyanotherpersonof,suchfundsorproperty.

For the accused to be guilty of illegal use of public funds or property, the prosecution is
burdenedtoprovethefollowingelements:
(1)Theoffendersareaccountableofficersinbothcrimes.
(2)Theoffenderinillegaluseofpublicfundsorpropertydoesnotderiveanypersonalgainorprofitin
malversation,theoffenderincertaincasesprofitsfromtheproceedsofthecrime.
(3)Inillegaluse,thepublicfundorpropertyisappliedtoanotherpublicuseinmalversation,thepublic
[20]

fundorpropertyisappliedtothepersonaluseandbenefitoftheoffenderorofanotherperson.

We agree with the ruling of the Sandiganbayan that the public office of the accused
MunicipalMayorVirginioE.Villamorisaconstituentelementofmalversationandillegaluseof
publicfundsorproperty.AccusedmayorspositionisclassifiedasSG27.SincetheAmended
Informationsallegedthatthepetitionerconspiredwithhercoaccused,themunicipalmayor,in
committingthesaidfelonies,thefactthatherpositionasmunicipalaccountantisclassifiedas
SG24andassuchisnotanaccountableofficerisofnomomenttheSandiganbayanstillhas
exclusive original jurisdiction over the cases lodged against her. It must be stressed that a
publicofficerwhoisnotinchargeofpublicfundsorpropertybyvirtueofherofficialposition,or
evenaprivateindividual,maybeliableformalversationorillegaluseofpublicfundsorproperty
ifsuchpublicofficerorprivateindividualconspireswithanaccountablepublicofficertocommit
malversationorillegaluseofpublicfundsorproperty.
[21]

InUnitedStatesv.Ponte,

theCourt,citingViada,hadtheoccasiontostate:

Shallthepersonwhoparticipatesorintervenesascoperpetrator,accompliceorabettorinthecrimeof
malversationofpublicfunds,committedbyapublicofficer,havethepenaltiesofthisarticlealso
imposeduponhim?Inoppositiontotheopinionmaintainedbysomejuristsandcommentators(among
othersthelearnedPacheco)wecanonlyanswerthequestionaffirmatively,forthesamereasons(mutatis
mutandis)wehavealreadyadvancedinQuestionIofthecommentaryonarticle314.French
jurisprudencehasalsosettledthequestioninthesamewayonthegroundthatthepersonguiltyofthe
crimenecessarilyaidstheotherculpritintheactswhichconstitutethecrime.(Vol.2,4thedition,p.653)
ThereasoningbywhichGroizardandViadasupporttheirviewsastothecorrectinterpretationofthe
provisionsofthePenalCodetouchingmalversationofpublicfundsbyapublicofficial,isequally
applicableinouropinion,totheprovisionsofActNo.1740definingandpenalizingthatcrime,andwe
haveheretofore,inthecaseoftheUnitedStatesvs.Dowdell(11Phil.Rep.,4),imposedthepenalty
prescribedbythissectionofthecodeuponapublicofficialwhotookpartwithanotherinthe
malversationofpublicfunds,althoughitwasnotalleged,andinfactclearlyappeared,thatthosefunds
werenotinhishandsbyvirtueofhisoffice,thoughitdidappearthattheywereinthehandsofhisco
[22]
principalbyvirtueofthepublicofficeheldbyhim.
TheCourthasalsoruledthatonewhoconspireswiththeprovincialtreasurerincommitting

sixcountsofmalversationisalsoacoprincipalincommittingthoseoffenses,andthataprivate
personconspiringwithanaccountablepublicofficerincommittingmalversationisalsoguiltyof
[23]

malversation.

We reiterate that the classification of the petitioners position as SG 24 is of no moment.


Thedeterminativefactisthatthepositionofhercoaccused,themunicipalmayor,isclassified
asSG27,andunderthelastparagraphofSection2ofRep.ActNo.7975,ifthepositionofone
oftheprincipalaccusedisclassifiedasSG27,theSandiganbayanhasoriginalandexclusive
jurisdictionovertheoffense.
WeagreewiththepetitionerscontentionthatunderSection474oftheLocalGovernment
Code,sheisnotobligedtoreceivepublicmoneyorproperty,norissheobligatedtoaccountfor
the same hence, she is not an accountable officer within the context of Article 217 of the
Revised Penal Code. Indeed, under the said article, an accountable public officer is one who
hasactualcontrolofpublicfundsorpropertybyreasonofthedutiesofhisoffice.Eventhen,it
cannottherebybenecessarilyconcludedthatamunicipalaccountantcanneverbeconvicted
formalversationundertheRevisedPenalCode.Thenameorrelativeimportanceoftheoffice
[24]
oremploymentisnotthecontrollingfactor. The nature of the duties of the public officer or
employee,thefactthataspartofhisdutieshereceivedpublicmoneyforwhichheisboundto
accountandfailedtoaccountforit,isthefactorwhichdetermineswhetherornotmalversation
iscommittedbytheaccusedpublicofficeroremployee.Hence,amereclerkintheprovincialor
municipalgovernment maybeheld guiltyofmalversationif he orsheisentrustedwithpublic
fundsandmisappropriatesthesame.
IN LIGHT OF ALL THE FOREGOING, the petition is DENIED for lack of merit. Costs
againstthepetitioner.
SOORDERED.
Puno,(Chairman),AustriaMartinez,Tinga,andChicoNazario,JJ.,concur.
[1]

[2]
[3]
[4]
[5]
[6]
[7]
[8]
[9]

PennedbyAssociateJusticeGregoryS.Ong,withAssociateJusticesRodolfoG.Palattao(retired)andNorberto
Y.Geraldez,concurring.
Rollo,pp.4849.
Id.at5152.
Id.at5455.
G.R.Nos.8847596,5August1993,225SCRA156.
108Phil.613(1960).
G.R.Nos.14426162,9May2001,357SCRA677.
G.R.No.128096,20January1999,301SCRA298.
Rollo,pp.3340.

[10]
[11]

90Phil.49(1951).
Supra.

[12]
[13]

Supra.
Jurisdiction.TheSandiganbayanshallexerciseexclusiveoriginaljurisdictioninallcasesinvolving:

a.ViolationsofRepublicActNo.3019,asamended,otherwiseknownastheAntiGraftandCorruptPracticesAct,
RepublicActNo.1379,andChapterII,Section2,TitleVII,BookIIoftheRevisedPenalCode,whereone
or more of the accused are officials occupying the following positions in the government, whether in a
permanent,actingorinterimcapacity,atthetimeofthecommissionoftheoffense:
(1) Official of the executive branch occupying the positions of regional director and higher, otherwise classified as
Grade27andhigher,oftheCompensationandPositionClassificationActof1989(RepublicActNo.6758),
specificallyincluding:
(a) Provincial governors, vicegovernors, members of the sangguniang panlalawigan, and provincial treasurers,
assessors,engineers,andotherprovincialdepartmentheads
(b)Citymayors,vicemayors,membersofthesangguniangpanlungsod, city treasurers, assessors, engineers and
othercitydepartmentheads
(c)Officialsofthediplomaticserviceoccupyingthepositionofconsulandhigher
(d)Philippinearmyandairforcecolonels,navalcaptains,andallofficersofhigherrank
(e)OfficersofthePhilippineNationalPolicewhileoccupyingthepositionofprovincialdirectorandthoseholdingthe
rankofseniorsuperintendentorhigher
(f)Cityandprovincialprosecutorsandtheirassistants,andofficialandprosecutorsintheOfficeoftheOmbudsman
andspecialprosecutorand
(g)Presidents,directorsortrustees,ormanagersofgovernmentownedorcontrolledcorporations,stateuniversities
oreducationalinstitutionsorfoundations.
(2) Members of Congress and officials thereof classified as Grade 2 and up under the Compensation and Position
ClassificationActof1989
(3)MembersofthejudiciarywithoutprejudicetotheprovisionsoftheConstitution
(4) Chairmen and members of Constitutional Commissions, without prejudice to the provisions of the Constitution
and
(5) All other national and local officials classified as Grade 27 and higher under the Compensation and Position
ClassificationActof1989.
b.Otheroffensesorfelonieswhethersimpleorcomplexedwithothercrimescommittedbythepublicofficialsand
employeesmentionedinsubsection(a)ofthissectioninrelationtotheiroffice.
c.CivilandcriminalcasesfiledpursuanttoandinconnectionwithExecutiveOrderNos.1,2,14and14A,issued
in1986.
In cases where none of the accused are occupying positions corresponding to Salary Grade 27 or higher, as
prescribed in the said Republic Act No. 6758, or military and PNP officers mentioned above, exclusive
originaljurisdictionthereofshallbevestedintheproperregionaltrialcourt,metropolitantrialcourt,municipal
trialcourt,andmunicipalcircuittrialcourt,asthecasemaybe,pursuanttotheirrespectivejurisdictionsas
providedinBatasPambansaBlg.129,asamended.
[14]
[15]
[16]
[17]
[18]

Indingv.Sandiganbayan,G.R.No.143047,14July2004,434SCRA388.
Montillav.Hilario,supra.
Peoplev.Montejo,supra.
Ibid.
Lacsonv.ExecutiveSecretary,supra.

[19]
[20]
[21]
[22]
[23]
[24]

Sarigumbav.Sandiganbayan,G.R.No.15423941,16February2005.
Reyes,TheRevisedPenalCode,BookII,13thed.,p.378.
20Phil.379(1911).
Id.at384385.
Peoplev.Sendaydiego,G.R.Nos.L33252toL33254,20January197881SCRA120.
Quionv.People,G.R.No.136462,19September2002389SCRA412.