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Ilusorio vs. Bildner, GR No. 139789, May 12, 2000; 332 Baguio Country Club.

Country Club. In 1942, he married Erlinda Kalaw. They


SCRA 169 lived together for a period of thirty (30) years until they
separated from bed and board in 1972 for undisclosed
(Special Proceedings Husband cannot be forced to live with reasons. Potenciano lived at Makati every time he was in
his wife by Habeas Corpus) Manila and at Illusorio Penthouse, Baguio Country Club when
Facts: Erlinda filed with the CA a petition for habeas corpus he was in Baguio City. Erlinda, on the other hand, lived in
to have the custody of her husband Potenciano alleging that Antipolo City.
respondents refused petitioners demands to see and visit her
husband. In 1997, upon Potencianos arrival from the United States, he
The CA allowed visitation rights to Erlinda for humanitarian stayed with Erlinda for about five (5) months in Antipolo City.
consideration but denied the petition for habeas corpus for The children, Sylvia and Erlinda Ilusorio Bildner, alleged that
lack of unlawful restraint or detention of the subject of the during this time, their mother gave Potenciano an overdose of
petition. 200 mg instead of 100 mg Zoloft, an antidepressant drug
prescribed by his doctor. As a consequence, Potencianos health
Erlinda seeks to reverse the CA decision dismissing the deteriorated.
application for habeas corpus to have the custody of her
husband and enforce consortium as the wife. On May 31, 1998, after attending a corporate meeting in Baguio
City, Potenciano did not return to Antipolo City and instead
Potenciano seeks to annul that portion of the CA decision lived in Makati. Erlinda filed with the CA a petition for habeas
giving Erlinda visitation rights. corpus to have the custody of Potenciano alleging that
respondents Sylvia and Bildner refused her demands to see and
Issue: May a wife secure a writ of habeas corpus to compel visit Potenciano. The CA allowed visitation rights to Erlinda
her husband to live with her in their conjugal dwelling. for humanitarian consideration but denied the petition for
Held: No. Marital rights including coverture and living in habeas corpus.
conjugal dwelling may not be enforced by the extra-ordinary
writ of habeas corpus. Issue: May a wife secure a writ of habeas corpus to compel her
A writ of habeas corpus extends to all cases of illegal husband to live with her in their conjugal dwelling?
confinement or detention, or by which the rightful custody of a
person is withheld from the one entitled thereto. It is available Held: No. a writ of habeas corpus extends to all cases of illegal
where a person continuous unlawfully denied of one or more confinement or detention, or by which the rightful custody of a
of his constitutional freedom. It is devised as a speedy and person is withheld from the one entitled thereto. To justify the
effectual remedy to relieve persons from unlawful grant of the petition, the restraint of liberty must be an illegal
restrainment, as the best and only sufficient defense of and involuntary deprivation of freedom of action. The illegal
personal freedom. restraint of liberty must be actual and effective, not merely
nominal or moral.
The essential object and purpose of the writ of habeas corpus
is to inquire into all manner of involuntary restraint and to
The evidence shows that there was no actual and effective
relieve a person therefrom if such restraint is illegal.
detention or deprivation of lawyer Potenciano Ilusorios liberty
that would justify the issuance of the writ. The fact that
A person with full mental capacity coupled with the right
Potenciano Ilusorio is about 86 years of age, or under
choice may not be the subject of visitation rights against free
medication does not necessarily render him mentally
choice. The CA exceeded its authority when it awarded
incapacitated. Soundness of mind does not hinge on age or
visitation rights in a petition for habeas corpus where Erlinda
medical condition but on the capacity of the individual to
never even prayed for such right.
discern his actions.
No court is empowered as a judicial authority to compel a
With his full mental capacity coupled with the right of choice,
husband to live with his wife. Coverture cannot be enforced by
Potenciano Ilusorio may not be the subject of visitation rights
compulsion of a writ of habeas corpus carried out by the
against his free choice. Otherwise, we will deprive him of his
sheriffs or by any other mesne process.
right to privacy. Needless to say, this will run against his
fundamental constitutional right.

The Court of Appeals missed the fact that the case did not
involve the right of a parent to visit a minor child but the right
of a wife to visit a husband. In case the husband refuses to see
his wife for private reasons, he is at liberty to do so without
threat of any penalty attached to the exercise of his right.
Ilusorio vs. Bildner
GR No. 139789, May 12, 2000; 332 SCRA 169 No court is empowered as a judicial authority to compel a
husband to live with his wife. Coverture cannot be enforced by
Facts: Potenciano Ilusorio, a lawyer, is about 86 years of age compulsion of a writ of habeas corpus carried out by sheriffs or
possessed of extensive property valued at millions of pesos. For by any other mesne process. That is a matter beyond judicial
many years, he was Chairman of the Board and President of authority and is best left to the man and womans free choice.
This May 12, 2000 ruling spawned several incidents.
First, Erlinda Ilusorio moved for its reconsideration, reiterating
her basic plea for a writ of habeas corpus and that daughters
petitioner Bildner and Sylvia Ilusorio be directed to desist from
preventing her from seeing Potenciano. Erlinda Ilusorio
followed this motion with a Motion to Set Case for Preliminary
SECOND DIVISION Conference, requesting that she and Potenciano be [allowed to
be] by themselves together in front of the Honorable
Court.[2] She reiterated this request in an Urgent Manifestation
ERLINDA I. BILDNER and MAXIMO K. G.R. No. 157384
and Motion dated August 25, 2000.
ILUSORIO,
Petitioners, Present: By Resolution of September 20, 2000, the Court set
the case for preliminary conference on October 11, 2000 but
- versus - QUISUMBING,
withoutJ.,requiring
Chairperson, YNARES- presence of the parties.[3] In
the mandatory
*
SANTIAGO,another resolution dated January 31, 2001, the Court denied
ERLINDA K. ILUSORIO, RAMON K. VELASCO, JR., Ilusorios manifestation and motion in which she prayed
Erlinda
*
ILUSORIO, MARIETTA K. ILUSORIO, LEONARDO-DE CASTRO,
that Potenciano and before, and be medically examined
be produced
SHEREEN K. ILUSORIO, CECILIA A. BISUA, BRION, JJ.
by a team of medical experts appointed by, the Court.[4] Erlinda
and ATTY. MANUEL R. SINGSON, Ilusorio sought reconsideration of the January 31, 2001
Respondents. Promulgated:
resolution.

June 5, 2009 On March 27, 2001, the Court denied with finality
x-------------------------------------------------------------------------- Erlinda Ilusorios motion for reconsideration of the January 31,
---------------x 2001 resolution.[5] Undaunted, she filed an Urgent
Manifestation and Motion for Clarification of the Courts
January 31, 2001 resolution. On May 30, 2001, the Court
DECISION merely noted the urgent manifestation and motion for
clarification.[6]

VELASCO, JR., J.: By Resolution of July 19, 2001,[7] the Court denied
Erlinda Ilusorios motion for reconsideration of the Decision
dated May 12, 2000. Thereafter, in another resolution dated
In this petition filed directly with the Court in July 24, 2002, we resolved to expunge from the records her
accordance with Rule 71, Section 5 of the Rules of Court, repetitive motions, with the caveat that no further pleadings
Erlinda I. Bildner and Maximo K. Ilusorio pray that shall be entertained.[8]
respondents, one of them their mother and three their siblings,
be cited for indirect contempt for alleged contemptuous Barely over a month after, Erlinda Ilusorio, this time
remarks and acts directed against the Court, particularly the represented by Dela Cruz Albano & Associates, sought leave to
then members of its First Division. By motion dated June 5, file an urgent motion for reconsideration of the July 24, 2002
2003, petitioners pray that the same petition be treated as a resolution.
formal complaint for disbarment or disciplinary action against
respondent Atty. Manuel R. Singson for alleged gross In relation to the above habeas corpus case, Erlinda
misconduct, among other offenses. Ilusorio addressed two letters to then Chief Justice Hilario G.
Davide, Jr. dated February 26, 2001 and April 16, 2001,
respectively. In the first, she sought assistance vis--vis her wish
to see Potenciano.[9] In the second, she chafed at what she
The Undisputed Facts considered the Courts bent to adhere to forms and procedure
and, at the same time, urged the Court to personally see
Indirect Contempt Potenciano.[10]

The resulting alleged contemptuous statements and Another letter of September 5, 2001 to Chief Justice
actions date back to proceedings before the Court, specifically Davide drew attention to the Courts decision in G.R. No.
in G.R. Nos. 139789 and 139808 that were appeals from the 148985 entitled Ramon K. Ilusorio v. Baguio Country Club, in
decision of the Court of Appeals (CA) in CA-G.R. SP No. which Erlinda Ilusorio tagged the decision
51689, denying the petition for habeas corpus filed by as appalling, unilaterally brazen, and unprecedented in the
respondent Erlinda K. Ilusorio to have custody of her husband, annals of the Supreme Court decision-making process. In
Potenciano Ilusorio. The appealed decision found Potenciano to her words, the decision denied and dismissed the petition of her
be of sound mind and not unlawfully restrained of his liberty. son, Ramon Ilusorio, through a four-page resolution by
The CA, however, granted Erlinda Ilusorio visitation rights, an unilaterally arguing and citing the arguments made by the
accommodation which the Court nullified in its Decision of respondents in the case at the courts a quo, without even
May 12, 2000 in G.R. Nos. 139789 and 139808.[1] giving the same respondents the proper hearing or
requiring a comment or a reply. In the same letter, she made xxxx
reference to the Court giving special treatment to particular
litigants.[11] You simply quoted an obiter dictum of the
Court of Appeals. There was no ruling on his
To petitioners, Erlinda Ilusorios filing of redundant mental condition as this was not at issue at the
motions and pleadings, along with her act of writing the habeas corpus. How could you have made a
aforementioned letters, constitutes contemptuous disrespect ruling based on an obiter? All the doctors
and disobedience or defiance of lawful orders of the Court. reports submitted were totally
disregarded. In reality it was his frailty, not
On top of the foregoing circumstances, petitioners his mental competence that I raised. During
would also have respondents cited for contempt in view of the the last five years, he became increasingly
publication of On the Edge of Heaven, a book carrying Erlinda frail, almost blind and could barely talk. He
Ilusorios name as author and which contained her was not able to read nor write for almost
commentaries on the aforesaid habeas corpus case. In this book, twenty years. x x x Our separation, three
published by PI-EKI Foundation[12] whose board of directors is years ago, cruel and inhuman that it was, was
composed of respondents Ramon, Marietta K. Ilusorio, Shereen made more painful by your ruling that I
K. Ilusorio, and Cecilia A. Bisua, the following excerpts from may not even visit him.
the Postscript section captioned Where is Justice? appear:
xxxx
I pursued my case in the Supreme Court at
Division I. There I was heard by Justice On May 30, 2001, you ruled that your
Pardo, Davide, Puno, Kapunan, decision noted without action the
and Santiago. questions of my lawyers, in effect brushing
aside the Motion for Clarification without
Just the same this highest court of the land did any answers whatsoever. Why?
not heed to my desperate
pleas. Conveniently, they omitted the state xxxx
of my husbands true desires; dismissed the
importance of my husbands presence in If your decision becomes res
the court; ignored the ultimate need to judicata havent you just provided a most
check for themselves the true state of convenient venue to separate spouses from
Nanoys health; and after PIs recent death each otherbased on individual
in June 28, 2001, easily dismissed my case rightsparticularly when one spouse is
as moot and academic. My husband was ailing and prone to manipulation and
referred to as another subject. (On the needs the other spouse the most? Why did
Edge of Heaven, p. 180)[13] you wait for more than one year and after
my husbands death to deny my motion for
reconsideration? Is it because it is easier to
In the same book, Erlinda Ilusorio denounced Justice do so now that it is academic? Does your
Bernardo P. Pardo, now retired, the ponente of the habeas conscience bother you at all?
corpus case, the other members of the then First Division of the
Court, and the Court as a whole: xxxx

Where is justice? I close by asking you: how can the highest


court of our land be a party to the break
Sadly, the Court of Appeals and, moreso, up of my family and, disregarding the
the Supreme Court broke-up my Family Code, not let me take care of my
family. Doesnt our Constitution, our Civil husband, permit my husband to die without
Code and our Family Code protect the even heeding my desperate pleas, if not for
sanctity of marriage and the family? justice, at least your concern for a human
being?
Was justice for sale? Was justice
sold? Nasaan ang katarungan? xxxx

xxxx Looking back, I cannot fail to see thatif our


courts can render this kind of justice to one
August 29, 2001 like myself because I have lesser means,
and lesser connections than my well-
To the Supreme Court of the Philippines, married daughters, what kind of justice is
Division One, Justice Bernardo Pardo, given to those less privileged? To the poor,
Ponente on Case No. x x x with no meanswhat have they? I cry for
them[14] (Emphasis ours.)
classmate at Ateneo Law School
P500,000.00 to give it to me for the
Disbarment Complaint purpose of ruling in favor of your
client[?]
The disbarment case against respondent Atty. Singson
stemmed from his alleged attempt, as counsel of Ramon in Civil ATTY. JOSE: I have no knowledge your
Case No. 4537-R, to exert influence on presiding Regional Trial honor.
Court Judge Antonio Reyes to rule in Ramons favor. To
complainant-petitioners, the bid to influence, which allegedly COURT: Ask him that tell him to face the
came in the form of a bribe offer, may be deduced from the mirror and ask him if he is telling the
following exchanges during the May 31, 2000 hearing on truth alright? I will summon the
Ramons motion for Judge Reyes to inhibit himself from hearing records of PLDT. The audacity of
Civil Case No. 4537-R: telling me to inhibit myself
here. It has been him who has
COURT: Do you have something to add to been trying to influence me.
your motion?
xxxx
ATTY. JOSE: The purpose of this
representation basically, your honor COURT: Tell him to look at his face in the
state the facts are already mirror, tell me if he is honest or
established as a basis for tendency not.[15]
or a perception correctly or
incorrectly that there is already a And to support their disbarment charge against Atty.
possibility of partiality. Singson on the grounds of attempted bribery and serious
misconduct, complainant-petitioners submitted an affidavit
COURT: Who is your partner? executed on December 23, 2004 by Judge Reyes in which he
pertinently alleged:
ATTY. JOSE: The counsel for the plaintiff is 2) That one of the cases I tried, heard and
Law Office of Singson and decided was Civil Case No. 4537-R
Associates and I am the associate of entitled Ramon K. Ilusorio v. Baguio Country
said Law Office, your honor. Club for the Declaration of Nullity of
Limitations and/or Injunction x x x;
COURT: And you are aware that Atty.
Manuel R. Singson is your boss? 3) That the very minute that the case was
xxxx assigned by raffle to the undersigned, Atty.
Manuel Singson counsel of plaintiff Ramon
ATTY. JOSE: Yes, your honor? K. Ilusorio in the aforementioned case,
started working on his channels to the
COURT: Has he been telling you the truth in undersigned to secure a favorable decision
this case? for his client;

ATTY. JOSE: Well, your honor my 4) That Atty. Singsons foremost link to the
appearance here for the purpose of undersigned was Atty. Oscar Sevilla, my
having this motion duly heard. family friend and who incidentally was a
classmate of Atty. Singson;
COURT: That is why Im asking you the
question, has he been telling you the 5) That Atty. Sevilla, being a close family
truth regarding this case? friend, immediately intimated to undersigned
that Atty. Singson wanted a favorable
ATTY. JOSE: Well, your honor in fact the decision and that there was a not so vague
actual counsel here is Atty. Gepty an offer of a bribe from him (Atty.
and I have been Singson);

COURT: Are you aware of the fact that 6) That I rejected every bit of illegal
Atty. Singson has been calling my insinuations and told Atty. Sevilla to assure
residence in Baguio City for Atty. Singson that I am duty bound to decide
about 20 to 50 times already? every case on the merits no matter who the
litigants are;
ATTY. JOSE: I have no knowledge already.
7) That even before the start of the hearing of
COURT: Are you aware that he has the case, Atty. Singson himself relentlessly
offered Atty. Oscar Sevilla his worked on undersigned by visiting him
about three times in his office. And not Complainant-petitioners also submitted Atty. Oscar
being satisfied with those visits, he (Atty. Sevillas affidavit to support the attempted bribery charge
Singson) made more than a dozen calls to against Atty. Singson. In its pertinent part, Atty. Sevillas
undersigneds Manila and Baguio residenc affidavit reads:
es, and worked on Atty. Sevilla x x x by
calling the latters cell phone even when we That sometime in late October of 1999 x x x,
were playing golf in Manila. These phone I received a call from Atty. Singson x x x and
calls were even admitted by Atty. Singson in in the course of our conversation, I learned
a Manifestation he filed in court citing that Ramon K. Ilusorio is his client who has
several ridiculous, unbelievable and a civil case raffled to Judge Reyes;
untruthful reasons for his phone calls;
That during said conversation, I mentioned to
8) That when Ramon K. Ilusorios plea for Atty. Singson that Judge Reyes is a family
injunctive relief was submitted for resolution, friend and x x x is a man of integrity;
Atty. Singson became more unrelenting in
throwing his professional ethics out of the That in the months that followed, Atty.
window and breached his lawyers oath Singson made a call or two to my cellphone
by personally calling many more times, requesting if I could mention to Judge Reyes
some of which were even made late that he (Atty. Singson) is my classmate at the
evenings, just trying to convince undersigned Ateneo and also a good friend;
to grant the injunctive relief his client Ramon
K. Ilusorio desperately needed in the case; That I remember having mentioned this to
Judge Reyes who told me that he always
9) That because of his inability to influence decides on the merits of all cases x x x and to
undersigned x x x, Atty. Singson filed a tell Atty. Singson that he need not worry if he
motion to inhibit alleging that facts have been had a meritorious case.[17]
established of undersigneds partiality for his
clients adversary, the defendant Baguio In view of the foregoing considerations, petitioners
Country Club; prayed that respondents be adjudged guilty of criminal
contempt of court and punished in accordance with Sec. 7, Rule
10) That at the hearing on the motion to 71 of the Rules of Court. The censure of respondents was also
inhibit x x x I declared in open court and in sought for using extrajudicial ways of influencing pending
public the dishonest and unprofessional cases in court. Lastly, petitioners asked for the disbarment or
conduct of Atty. Singson in trying to discipline of Atty. Singson for attempted bribery and gross
influence a judge to favor his client, no matter misconduct.
how unmeritorious his prayer for injunction
was. In open court, undersigned scored Atty. By separate resolutions, the Court directed
Singsons audacity of asking an inhibition respondents to submit their comment on the contempt aspect of
when it has always been him and him alone the petition and Atty. Singson to submit his comment on
who wanted and tried to influence the petitioners motion to consider the same petition as a formal
undersigned. complaint for disbarment or other disciplinary action.

11) That on January 12, 2000, undersigned Respondents Comments


issued an Order in Civil Case No. 4537-R x x
x denying Atty. Singsons clients prayer for Respondents admitted the fact of filing by Erlinda
the issuance of a writ of preliminary Ilusorio of the various manifestations and motions mentioned
injunction x x x; in the basic petition for contempt, her authorship of On the
Edge of Heaven, and her having written personal letters to then
12) That the undersigneds ruling against Chief Justice Davide. They contended, however, that the
Atty. Singsons client in the case was elevated motions and manifestations, couched in a very respectful
to the [CA] in G.R. No. 59353 where x x x language,[18] can hardly be considered contemptuous,
Atty. Singson never raised the issue of interposed as they were in the exercise of the litigants right to
undersigneds denial to inhibit; avail herself of all legal remedies under the Rules of
13) That still unsatisfied with the [CAs] Court.Erlinda Ilusorios acts, so respondents claimed, were all
adverse ruling against his client, Atty. made in good faith, motivated by the desire to secure custody x
Singson went on to the Supreme Court in x x of her husband, [and] to provide [him] adequate medical
G.R. No. 148985 questioning the [CAs] care x x x and to prevent him from being an unwitting pawn to
affirmation of undersigneds decision. The illegally dissipate the properties of the conjugal properties of
Supreme Court x x x dismissed the appeal of the spouses.
Ramon K. Ilusorio and sustained
undersigneds decision.[16] (Emphasis ours.) As to Erlinda Ilusorios letters to Chief Justice Davide
and the members of the Court, respondents stated that these
letters, far from being contemptuous, tend to improve the Supreme Court or to the IBP or even
administration of justice and encourage the courts to decide better, cite Atty. Sevilla and/or Singson
cases purely on the merits. in contempt of court, or file a criminal
case of attempted bribery against them,
And in traversal of the allegation that On the Edge of or discipline them by himself in
Heaven contains actionable matters, respondents claimed, inter accordance with the provisions of Rule
alia, that the comments Erlinda Ilusorio made in the book were 138 and 139 of the Revised Rules of
no more than reasonable reactions from a layperson aggrieved Court? The fact that Judge Reyes did not
by what she considers an unjust Court decision and who felt she do any of the foregoing clearly shows the
had to write a book that would rectify the erroneous findings of falsity of his claims.[20]
the Court and put forth the truth about the so-called Ilusorio
family feud.[19] What is more, respondents
said, sisters Marietta and Shereen as well as Cecilia had no Respondents added that the bribery charge was based
hand in the contents of the book and its publication, as Erlinda on a hearsay account, since the alleged offer to Judge Reyes
Ilusorio, as Chairperson and President of PI-EKI Foundation, is emanated from Atty. Sevilla.
authorized to perform acts on behalf of the foundation.

With regard to the bribery allegations against Atty. The Issues


Singson, respondents invited attention to the Manifestation in
Civil Case No. 4537-R to dispute the accusation of Judge WHETHER OR NOT RESPONDENTS
Reyes. The refutations, as reproduced in the respondents ARE GUILTY OF INDIRECT CONTEMPT
Memorandum, run as follows: OF COURT

(a) While it is true that Singson called WHETHER OR NOT ATTY. SINGSON
Judge Reyes numerous times the nature SHOULD BE ADMINISTRATIVELY
and purpose of said calls were proper and DISCIPLINED OR DISBARRED FROM
above board. The reason why the phone THE PRACTICE OF LAW FOR ALLEGED
calls were numerous is because GROSS MISCONDUCT IN ATTEMPTING
oftentimes, Judge Reyes was not in the TO BRIBE JUDGE ANTONIO REYES
places where the calls were made.
The Courts Ruling
(b) The phone calls were made either to
request for a postponement of a hearing Indirect Contempt
of the case or to inquire about the status
of the incident on the issuance of the The Courts dignity and authority would always be
temporary restraining order applied for prey to attack were it to treat with abject indifference and look
in the case. with complacent eyes on serious breaches of ethics and
denigrating utterances directed against it. To preserve their
(c) It was Judge Reyes himself who authority and efficiency, safeguard the public confidence in
furnished the telephone numbers in his them, and keep inviolate their dignity, courts of justice should
office and his residence not yield to the assaults of disrespect[21] and must, when
in Baguio City. Apparently, Judge necessary, wield their inherent power to punish for contempt, a
Reyes did not find the telephone calls power necessary for their own protection against improper
improper as he answered most of them, interference with the due administration of justice.[22]
and that he never reported or complained
about the said calls to the appropriate Contempt, whether direct or indirect, may be civil or
judicial authorities or to the Integrated criminal, depending on the nature and effect of the
Bar of the Philippines if he had found the contemptuous act.[23] Civil contempt is the failure to do
actuations of Singson in violation of the something ordered by the court for the benefit of the opposing
provisions of the Code of Professional party. Criminal contempt, on the other hand, is conduct directed
Responsibility. against the dignity and authority of the court or a judge acting
judicially; it is an act obstructing the administration of justice
(d) As to the alleged bribery attempt, there which tends to bring the court into disrepute or
is absolutely no truth to the same. If it is disrespect.[24] On the basis of the foregoing principles, it can be
true that there was such an offer, there is safely concluded that under Sec. 3(d) of Rule 71 on contempt,
no reason why Singson could not have any improper conduct tending, directly or indirectly, to impede,
made the offer himself, since he obstruct, or degrade the administration of justice constitutes
personally knows Judge Reyes. The criminal contempt. This is what petitioners obviously would
allegations of Judge Reyes [are] purely have respondents cited for.
hearsay and imaginary. If the bribery
attempt had indeed happened, why did The contempt power, however plenary it may seem,
Judge Reyes not report the matter to the must be exercised judiciously and sparingly with utmost self-
restraint with the end in view of utilizing it for correction and methods to secure relief. There are adequate remedies for the
preservation of the dignity of the court, not for retaliation or purpose under the Rules of Court.
vindication.[25] To be sure, courts and judges, as institutions, are
neither sacrosanct nor immune to public criticisms of their Unlike the contents of the pleadings and letters in
conduct.[26] And well-recognized is the right of citizens to question, EKIs statements in On the Edge of Heaven, however,
criticize in a fair and respectful manner and through legitimate pose a different threat to the Courts repute. For reference, the
channels the acts of courts or judges,[27] who in turn ought to be following are the defining portions of what she wrote:
patient and tolerate as much as possible everything which
appears as hasty and unguarded expression of passion or (1) The Supreme Court broke up my family.
momentary outbreak of disappointment at the outcome of a
case. Even snide remarks, as People v. Godoy teaches, do not (2) Was justice for sale? Was justice
necessarily partake the nature of contumacious utterance sold? Nasaan ang katarungan?
actionable under Rule 71 of the Rules of Court.[28]
(3) If your decision becomes res
But as we have emphasized time and time again, [i]t judicata havent you just provided a most
is the cardinal condition of all such criticism that it shall convenient venue to separate spouses
be bona fide, and shall not spill over the walls of decency and from each other x x x?
propriety. A wide chasm exists between fair criticism, on one
hand, and abuse and slander of courts and the judges thereof, on (4) Why did you wait for more than one year
the other.[29] Obstructing, by means of opprobrious words, and after my husbands death to deny my
spoken or written, the administration of justice by the courts motion for reconsideration? Is it because
will subject the abuser to punishment for contempt of court. it is easier to do so now that it is
And regardless of whether or not the case of reference has been academic? Does your conscience bother
terminated is of little moment. One may be cited for contempt you at all?
of court even after the case has ended where such punitive
action is necessary to protect the court and to vindicate it from (5) How can the highest court of our land be
acts or conduct calculated to degrade, ridicule, or bring it into a party to the break up of my family and,
disfavor and thereby erode public confidence in that court.[30] disregarding the Family Code x x x?

In the case at bar, the various motions and (6) [I]f our courts can render this kind of
manifestations filed by Erlinda Ilusorio neither contained justice to one like myself because I have
offensively disrespectful language nor tended to besmirch the lesser means, and lesser connections
dignity of the Court. In fact, the Court, mindful of the need to than my well-married daughters, what
clear its docket of what really is an unfortunate family kind of justice is given to those less
squabble, considered and ruled on each of her motions and privileged?
manifestations. For the nonce, the Court accords Erlinda
Ilusorio the benefit of the doubt and is inclined to think that her Taken together, the foregoing statements and their
numerous pleadings that reiterate the same issues were bona reasonably deducible implications went beyond the permissible
fide attempts to resuscitate and salvage what she might have bounds of fair criticism. Erlinda Ilusorio minced no words in
sanguinely believed to be a meritorious case involving her directly attacking the Court for its alleged complicity in the
marital rights. This is not to say, however, that the Court views break up of the Ilusorio family, sharply insinuating that the
with unqualified approval the obnoxious practice of filing Court intentionally delayed the resolution of her motion for
pleadings after pleadings that only substantially reiterate the reconsideration, disregarded the Family Code, and unduly
same issues that had already been passedupon and found to be favored wealthy litigants. But the worst cut is her suggestion
unmeritorious. The Court, as a matter of sound practice, will about the Court selling its decisions. She posed the
not allow its precious time and resources to be eaten query, Nasaan ang katarungan? (Where is justice?), implying
unnecessarily.[31] Accordingly, Erlinda Ilusorio and/or counsel that this Court failed to dispense justice in her case. While most
is put on notice against trying the Courts patience and abusing of her statements were in the form of questions instead of
its forbearance by continuing with their taxing ways. categorical assertions, the effect is still the same: they constitute
a stinging affront to the honor and dignity of the Court and tend
Erlinda Ilusorios personal letters to then Chief Justice to undermine the confidence of the public in the integrity of the
Davide were not contumacious in character. Neither do we find highest tribunal of the land.
them actionable, as a sleigh but sub-rosa attempt to influence
the letter-addressee, under the contempt provisions of the Rules Erlinda Ilusorio explains that she is a layperson
of Court. As we articulated in In Re: Wenceslao Laureta, letters uninitiated in legal matters, an aggrieved widow who just wants
addressed to individual members of the Court, in connection to be relieved of pain caused by the injustice of the decision of
with the performance of their judicial functions, become part of this Court. She felt she had to write a book that would rectify
the judicial record and are a matter of concern for the entire the erroneous findings of the Court x x x.[33] Obviously she had
Court.[32] Although decisions of the Court are not based on achieved her goal of self-expression but to the detriment of the
personal letters and pleas to individual justices, we nonetheless orderly administration of justice. To be sure, she could have had
discourage litigants from pursuing such unnecessary extra-legal adequately expressed her disagreement with the Courts
disposition in the habeascorpus case without taking the low
road, without being insulting, without casting a cloud of showing less than full respect for the dignity
suspicion on the reputation of the Court. In some detail, the of the court.[35]
Court, in People v. Godoy, set forth what is permissible and
when one is considered to have overstepped bounds: As to the other members of the Board of Directors of
the PI-EKI Foundation, the publisher of On the Edge of
Generally, criticism of a courts Heaven, we find no merit in the charge of indirect contempt
rulings or decisions is not improper, and may against them. True, except for Atty. Singson, respondents
not be restricted after a case has been finally Ramon, Marietta and Shereen Ilusorio, and Cecilia appear to be
disposed of and has ceased to be pending. So officers of PI-EKI Foundation. There is no compelling reason,
long as critics confine their criticisms to facts however, to pierce, as petitioners urge, the veil of corporate
and base them on the decisions of the court, fiction in order to hold these officers liable, especially in light
they commit no contempt no matter how of Erlinda Ilusorios assertion of being authorized, as
severe the criticism may be; but when they Chairperson and President of the said foundation, to perform
pass beyond that line and charge that judicial acts on behalf of the foundation without prior board
conduct was influenced by improper, corrupt, approval. Indirect contempt is a deliberate act to bring the court
or selfish motives, or that such conduct was or judge into disrepute. In this case, proof of the participation
affected by political prejudice or interest, the of the board of directors and officers to willfully malign the
tendency is to create distrust and destroy the Court is utterly wanting. In this regard, there is authority
confidence of the people in their courts. indicating that no one can be amenable to criminal contempt
unless the evidence makes it abundantly clear that one intended
But criticism should be to commit it.[36] It cannot plausibly be assumed that the said
distinguished from insult. A criticism after a officers shared Erlinda Ilusorios ill regard towards the judiciary
case has been disposed of can no longer from the mere fact that the PI-EKI Foundation published the
influence the court, and on that ground it does book.
not constitute contempt. On the other hand,
an insult hurled to the court, even after a case Disbarment
is decided, can under no circumstance be
justified. Mere criticism or comment on the As to the complaint for disbarment, there is a well-
correctness or wrongness, soundness or grounded reason to believe that Atty. Singson indeed attempted
unsoundness of the decision of the court in a to influence Judge Reyes decide a case in favor of Atty.
pending case made in good faith may be Singsons client. The interplay of the following documentary
tolerated; but to hurl the false charge that the evidence, earlier cited, provides the reason: (1) the transcript of
Supreme Court has been committing the stenographic notes of the May 31, 2000 hearing in the sala
deliberately so many blunders and injustices of Judge Reyes in Civil Case 4537-R when the judge made it of
would tend necessarily to undermine the record about the attempt to bribe; (2) the affidavit of Judge
confidence of the people in the honesty and Reyes dated December 23, 2004 narrating in some detail how
integrity of its members, and consequently to and thru whom the attempt to bribe adverted to was made; and
lower or degrade the administration of (3) the affidavit of Atty. Sevilla who admitted having been
justice, and it constitutes contempt.[34] approached by Atty. Singson to intercede for his case pending
with Judge Reyes. Significantly, Atty. Singson admitted having
made phone calls to Judge Reyes, either in his residence or
A becoming respect for the courts should always be office in Baguio Cityduring the period material. He offers the
the norm. Litigants, no matter how aggrieved or dissatisfied lame excuse, however, that he was merely following up the
they may be of courts decision, do not have the unbridled status of a temporary restraining order applied for and
freedom in expressing their frustration or grievance in any sometimes asking for the resetting of hearings.
manner they want. Crossing the permissible line of fair
comment and legitimate criticism of the bench and its The Court finds the explanation proffered as puerile as
actuations shall constitute contempt which may be visited with it is preposterous. Matters touching on case status could and
sanctions from the Court as a measure of protecting and should be done through the court staff, and resetting is usually
preserving its dignity and honor. accomplished thru proper written motion or in open court. And
going by Judge Reyes affidavit, the incriminating calls were
We explained in Wicker v. Arcangel: sometimes made late in the evening and sometimes in the most
unusual hours, such as while Judge Reyes was playing golf with
x x x [T]he power to punish for Atty. Sevilla. Atty. Sevilla lent corroborative support to Judge
contempt is to be exercised on the Reyes statements, particularly about the fact that Atty. Singson
preservative and not on the vindictive wanted Judge Reyes apprised that they, Singson and Sevilla,
principle. Only occasionally should it be were law school classmates.
invoked to preserve that respect without
which the administration of justice will fail. The highly immoral implication of a lawyer
The contempt power ought not to be utilized approaching a judgeor a judge evincing a willingnessto discuss,
for the purpose of merely satisfying an in private, a matter related to a case pending in that judges sala
inclination to strike back at a party for cannot be over-emphasized. The fact that Atty. Singson did talk
on different occasions to Judge Reyes, initially through a SO ORDERED.
mutual friend, Atty. Sevilla, leads us to conclude that Atty.
Singson was indeed trying to influence the judge to rule in his
clients favor. This conduct is not acceptable in the legal
profession. Canon 13 of the Code of Professional
Responsibility enjoins it:

Canon 13. A lawyer shall rely upon the


merits of his cause and refrain from any Duterte v. Sandiganbayan
impropriety which tends to influence or gives
the appearance of influencing the court. Duterte v. Sandiganbayan, 289 SCRA 721 (1998)

At this juncture, the Court takes particular stock of the


ensuing statement Judge Reyes made in his affidavit: x x
x Atty. Sevilla, being a close family friend, immediately
intimated to [me] that Atty. Singson wanted a favorable FACTS: Petitioners were charged before the Sandiganbayan
decision and that there was a not so vague an offer of a bribe for violating Sec. 3(g) of R.A. No. 3019, otherwise known as
from him (Atty. Singson). Judge Reyes reiterated the bribe the Anti-Graft And Corrupt Practices Act for allegedly
attempt during the hearing on May 31, 2000, and made entering into an anomalous contract for the purchase of
reference to the figure PhP 500,000, the amount Atty. Singson computer hardware and accessories with the Systems Plus,
offered through Atty. Sevilla. As may be expected, Atty. Incorporated.
Singson dismissed Judge Reyes account as hearsay and
questioned the non-filing of any complaint for attempted
bribery or disciplinary action by Judge Reyes at or near the time It appears that four years prior to filing of the information
it was said to have been committed. before the Sandiganbayan, petitioners were merely directed to
submit a point-by-point comment under oath on the
First, we must stress the difficulty of proving allegations in a civil case filed against them before the RTC
bribery. The transaction is always done in secret and often only and on the allegations in an unverified complaint filed before
between the two parties concerned. Indeed, there is no concrete the Ombudsman by the Anti-Graft League. Petitioners had no
evidence in the records regarding the commission by Atty. inkling that they were being subjected to a preliminary
Singson of attempted bribery. Even Atty. Sevilla did not investigation as in fact there was no indication in the order that
mention any related matter in his affidavit.Nevertheless, Judge a preliminary investigation was being conducted.
Reyes disclosures in his affidavit and in open court deserve
some weight. The possibility of an attempted bribery is not far Petitioners filed a motion a motion for reconsideration
from reality considering Atty. Singsons persistent phone calls, alleging among others that they were deprived of their right to
one of which he made while Judge Reyes was with Atty. a preliminary investigation, due process and the speedy
Sevilla. Judge Reyes declaration may have been an emotional disposition of their case, which the Sandiganbayan denied.
outburst as described by Atty. Singson, but the spontaneity of They filed a motion to quash but the same was denied by the
an outburst only gives it more weight. Sandiganbayan.
While the alleged attempted bribery may perhaps not
be supported by evidence other than Judge Reyes statements, Hence this petition.
there is nevertheless enough proof to hold Atty. Singson liable
for unethical behavior of attempting to influence a judge, itself
ISSUE: W/N the petitioners right to speedy trial was violated
a transgression of considerable gravity. However, heeding the
by the inordinate delay in the conduct of the preliminary
injunction against decreeing disbarment where a lesser sanction
investigation?
would suffice to accomplish the desired end, a suspension for
one year from the practice of law appears appropriate.
HELD: YES. The preliminary investigation of the charges
WHEREFORE, Erlinda K. Ilusorio is against petitioners has been conducted not in the manner laid
adjudged GUILTY of INDIRECT CONTEMPT and is down in Administrative Order No. 07. The inordinate delay in
ordered to pay a fine of ten thousand pesos (PhP 10,000). Atty. the conduct of the preliminary investigation infringed upon
Manuel R. Singson is SUSPENDED for ONE (1) their constitutionally guaranteed right to a speedy disposition
YEAR from the practice of law, effective upon his receipt of of their case.[22] In Tatad vs. Sandiganbayan,[23] we held
this Decision. Costs against respondents. that an undue delay of close to three (3) years in the
termination of the preliminary investigation in the light of the
Let all the courts, through the Office of the Court circumstances obtaining in that case warranted the dismissal
Administrator, as well as the Integrated Bar of of the case.
the Philippines and the Office of the Bar Confidant be notified
of this Decision and be it duly recorded in the personal file of
respondent Manuel R. Singson. Petitioners in this case, however, could not have urged the
speedy resolution of their case because they were completely
unaware that the investigation against them was still on-
going. Peculiar to this case, we reiterate, is the fact that systems and technology development. It also aimed to provide
petitioners were merely asked to comment, and not file consultancy and training services and to assist all local
counter-affidavits which is the procedure to follow in a government units in Mindanao set up their respective
preliminary investigation. After giving their explanation and computer systems.
after four long years of being in the dark, petitioners,
naturally, had reason to assume that the charges against them To implement the project, a Computerization Program
had already been dismissed. Committee, composed of the following was formed:

Finally, under the facts of the case, there is no basis in the law Chairman : Atty. Benjamin C. de Guzman, City Administrator
or in fact to charge petitioners for violation of Sec. 3(g) of
R.A. No. 3019. To establish probable cause against the Members : Mr. Jorge Silvosa, Acting City Treasurer
offender for violation of Sec. 3(g), the following elements
must be present: (1) the offender is a public officer; (2) he Atty. Victorino Advincula, City Councilor
entered into a contract or transaction in behalf of the
government; (3) the contract or transaction is grossly and
Mr. Alexis Almendras, City Councilor\
manifestly disadvantageous to the government.
Atty. Onofre Francisco, City Legal Officer

Mr. Rufino Ambrocio, Jr., Chief of Internal Control Office

Atty. Mariano Kintanar, COA Resident Auditor.[1]

The Committees duty was to conduct a thorough study of the


different computers in the market, taking into account the
quality and acceptability of the products, the reputation and
track record of the manufacturers and/or their Philippine
distributors, the availability of service centers in the country
that can undertake preventive maintenance of the computer
hardwares to ensure a long and uninterrupted use and, last but
not the least, the capability of the manufacturers and/or
Philippine distributors to design and put into place the
[G.R. No. 130191. April 27, 1998]
computer system complete with the flow of paperwork, forms
to be used and personnel required.[2]

RODRIGO R. DUTERTE and BENJAMIN C. DE Following these guidelines, the Committee recommended
GUZMAN, petitioners, vs. THE HONORABLE the acquisition of Goldstar computers manufactured by
SANDIGANBAYAN, respondent. Goldstar Information and Communication, Ltd., South Korea
and exclusively distributed in the Philippines by Systems Plus,
Inc. (SPI).
DECISION
After obtaining prior clearance from COA Auditor
KAPUNAN, J.: Kintanar, the Committee proceeded to negotiate with SPI,
represented by its President Rodolfo V. Jao and Executive Vice
The right to preliminary investigation is not a mere formal President Manuel T. Asis, for the acquisition and installation of
right, it is a substantive right. To deny the accused of such right the computer hardware and the training of personnel for the
would be to deprive him of due process. Electronic Data-Processing Center. The total contract cost
amounted to P11,656,810.00
In this special civil action for certiorari with preliminary
injunction, petitioners seek to set aside the Order of the On 5 November 1990, the City Council (Sangguniang
Sandiganbayan dated 27 June 1997 denying the Motion to Panlungsod) of Davao unanimously passed Resolution No.
Quash the information filed against them for violating Sec. 3(g) 1402 and Ordinance No. 173 approving the proposed contract
of R.A. No. 3019, otherwise known as the Anti-Graft And for computerization between Davao City and SPI. The
Corrupt Practices Act. Petitioners similarly impugn the Sanggunian, likewise, authorized the City Mayor (petitioner
Resolution of the Sandiganbayan dated 5 August 1997 which Duterte) to sign the said contract for and in behalf of Davao
denied their Motion for Reconsideration thereof. City.[3]
Pertinent to this case are the following facts: On the same day, the Sangguniang issued Resolution No.
1403 and Ordinance No. 174, the General Fund Supplemental
In 1990, the Davao City Local Automation Project was Budget No. 07 for CY 1990 appropriating P3,000,000.00 for
launched by the city government of Davao. The goal of said the citys computerization project.
project was to make Davao City a leading center for computer
Given the go-signal, the contract was duly signed by the 3. The cost of computer hardware and accessories under
parties thereto and on 8 November 1990, petitioner City contract with Systems Plus, Inc. (SPI) differed from
Administrator de Guzman released to SPI PNB Check No. the teams canvass by as much as 1200% or a total
65521 in the amount of P1,748,521.58 as downpayment. of P1.8M.
On 27 November 1990, the Office of the Ombudsman-
Mindanao received a letter-complaint from a concerned citizen, 4. The City had no Information System Plan (ISP) prior to the
stating that some city officials are going to make a killing in the award of the contract to SPI in direct violation of
transaction.[4] The complaint was docketed as OMB-MIN-90- Malacaang Memo. Order No. 287 and NCC Memo.
0425. However, no action was taken thereon.[5] Circular 89-1 dated June 22, 1989. This omission
resulted in undue disadvantage to the City
Thereafter, sometime in February 1991, a complaint Government.
docketed as Civil Case No. 20,550-91, was instituted before the
Regional Trial Court of Davao City, Branch 12 by Dean Pilar 5. To remedy the foregoing deficiencies, the team
Braga, Hospicio C. Conanan, Jr. and Korsung Dabaw recommends that the contract with Systems Plus, Inc.
Foundation, Inc. against the petitioners, the City Council, be rescinded in view of the questionable validity due
various city officials and SPI for the judicial declaration of to insufficient funding. Further, the provisions of
nullity of the aforestated resolutions and ordinances and the NCC-Memorandum Circular 89-1 dated June 22,
computer contract executed pursuant thereto. 1989 regarding procurement and/or installation of
computer hardware/system should be strictly adhered
On 22 February 1991, Goldstar, through its agent, Mr.
to.[7]
S.Y. Lee sent a proposal to petitioner Duterte for the
cancellation of the computerization contract.
The city government, intent on pursuing its
Consequently, on 8 April 1991, the Sangguniang issued computerization plan, decided to follow the audit teams
Resolution No. 449 and Ordinance No. 53 accepting Goldstars recommendation and sought the assistance of the National
offer to cancel the computerization contract provided the latter Computer Center (NCC).After conducting the necessary
return the advance payment of P1,748,521.58 to the City studies, the NCC recommended the acquisition of Philips
Treasurers Office within a period of one month. Petitioner computers in the amount of P15,792,150.00. Davao City
Duterte, as city mayor, was thus authorized to take the proper complied with the NCCs advice and hence, was finally able to
steps for the mutual cancellation of the said contract and to sign obtain the needed computers.
all documents relevant thereto.[6]
Subsequently, on 1 August 1991, the Anti-Graft League-
Pursuant to the aforestated authority, on 6 May 1991, Davao City Chapter, through one Miguel C. Enriquez, filed an
petitioner Duterte, in behalf of Davao City, and SPI mutually unverified complaint with the Ombudsman-Mindanao against
rescinded the contract and the downpayment was duly petitioners, the City Treasurer, City Auditor, the whole city
refunded. government of Davao and SPI. The League alleged that the
respondents, in entering into the computerization contract,
In the meantime, a Special Audit Team of the Commission
violated R.A. No. 3019 (Anti-Graft and Corrupt Practices Act),
on Audit was tasked to conduct an audit of the Davao City Local
PD No. 1445 (Government Auditing Code of the Philippines),
Automation Project to determine if said contract conformed to
COA circulars and regulations, the Revised Penal Code and
government laws and regulations.
other pertinent laws. The case was docketed as OMB-3-91-
On 31 May 1991, the team submitted its Special Audit 1768.[8]
Report (SAR) No. 91-05 recommending rescission of the
On 9 October 1991, Graft Investigation Officer (GIO)
subject contract. A copy of the report was sent to petitioner
Pepito A. Manriquez of the Office of the Ombudsman sent a
Duterte by COA Chairman Eufemio C. Domingo on 7 June
letter[9] to COA Chairman Domingo requesting the Special
1991. In the latters transmittal letter, Chairman Domingo
Audit Team to submit their joint affidavit to substantiate the
summarized the findings of the special audit team, thus:
complaint in compliance with Section 4, par. (a) of the Rules of
Procedure of the Office of the Ombudsman (A. O. No. 07).
1. The award of the contract for the Davao City Local
Automation Project to Systems Plus, Inc., On 14 October 1991, Judge Paul T. Arcangel, issued an
for P11,656,810 was done thru negotiated contract Order dismissing Civil Case No. 20,550-91. The dispositive
rather than thru competitive public bidding in portion reads, thus:
violation of Sections 2 and 8 of PD 526. Moreover,
there was no sufficient appropriation for this WHEREFORE, in view of all the foregoing, this case is
particular contract in violation of Sec. 85 of PD 1445. hereby dismissed on the ground of prematurity and that it has
become moot and academic with the mutual cancellation of
2. Advance payment of P1.7M was made to Systems Plus, Inc. the contract. The other claims of the parties are hereby
covering 15% of the contract cost of P11.6M in denied. No pronouncement as to costs.
violation of Sec. 45 of PD 477 and Sec. 88 of PD
1445. SO ORDERED.[10]
On 12 November 1991, Graft Investigator Manriquez MILLION SIX HUNDRED FIFTY-SIX THOUSAND EIGHT
issued an order in OMB-3-91-1768 directing petitioners, Jorge HUNDRED TEN (P11,656,810.00), which contract is
Silvosa (City Treasurer), Mariano Kintanar (City Auditor) and manifestly and grossly disadvantageous to the government,
Manuel T. Asis of SPI to: said accused knowing fully-well that the said acquisition cost
has been overpriced by as much as twelve hundred (1200%)
xxx file in ten (10) days (1) their respective verified point-by- percent and without subjecting said acquisition to the required
point comment under oath upon every allegation of the public bidding.
complaint in Civil Case No. 20,550-91 in the Regional Trial
Court (RTC), Branch 12, Davao City Dean Pilar C. Braga, et CONTRARY TO LAW.[13]
al. vs. Illegality of City Council of Davao Resolutions and
Ordinances, and the Computer Contract executed Pursuant On 27 February 1996, petitioners filed a motion for
Thereto, for Recovery of Sum of Money, Professional Fees reconsideration and on 29 March 1996, a Supplemental Motion
and Costs with Injunctive Relief, including the Issuance of a for Reconsideration on the following grounds:
Restraining Order and/or a Writ of Preliminary Prohibitory
Injunction in which they filed a motion to dismiss, not an
1. Petitioners were deprived of their right to a preliminary
answer and (2) the respective comments, also under oath, on
investigation, due process and the speedy disposition
the Special Audit Report No. 91-05, a copy of which is
of their case;
attached.[11]
2. Petitioner Duterte acted in good faith and was clothed with
On 4 December 1991, the Ombudsman received the
authority to enter into the subject contract;
affidavits of the Special Audit Team but failed to furnish
petitioners copies thereof.
3. There is no contract manifestly and grossly disadvantageous
On 18 February 1992, petitioners submitted a to the government since the subject contract has been
manifestation adopting the comments filed by their co- duly rescinded.
respondents Jorge Silvosa and Mariano Kintanar dated 25
November 1991 and 17 January 1992, respectively. On 19 March 1996, the Ombudsman issued a Resolution
Four years after, or on 22 February 1996, petitioners denying petitioners motion for reconsideration.
received a copy of a Memorandum prepared by Special On 18 June 1997, petitioners filed a Motion to Quash
Prosecution Officer I, Lemuel M. De Guzman dated 8 February which was denied by the Sandiganbayan in its Order dated 27
1996 addressed to Ombudsman Aniano A. Desierto regarding June 1997. The Sandiganbayan ruled:
OMB-MIN-90-0425 and OMB-3-91-1768. Prosecutor De
Guzman recommended that the charges of malversation,
It appears, however, that the accused were able to file motions
violation of Sec. 3(e), R.A. No. 3019 and Art. 177, Revised
for the reconsideration of the Resolution authorizing the filing
Penal Code against petitioners and their co-respondents be
of the Information herein with the Ombudsman in
dismissed. He opined that any issue pertaining to unwarranted
Manila. This would mean, therefore, that whatever decision
benefits or injury to the government and malversation were
which might have occurred with respect to the preliminary
rendered moot and academic by the mutual rescission of the
investigation would have been remedied by the motion for
subject contract before the COA submitted its findings (SAR
consideration in the sense that whatever the accused had to say
No. 91-05) or before the disbursement was
in their behalf, they were able to do in that motion for
disallowed. However, Prosecutor De Guzman recommended
reconsideration.
that petitioners be charged under Sec. 3(g) of R.A. No. 3019 for
having entered into a contract manifestly and grossly
disadvantageous to the government, the elements of profit, Considering the denial thereof by the Office of the
unwarranted benefits or loss to government being Ombudsman, the Court does not believe itself empowered to
immaterial.[12] authorize a reinvestigation on the ground of an inadequacy of
the basic preliminary investigation nor with respect to a
Accordingly, the following information dated 8 February dispute as to the proper appreciation by the prosecution of the
1996 was filed against petitioners before the Sandiganbayan evidence at that time.
(docketed as Criminal Case No. 23193):
In view hereof, upon further representation by Atty.
That on or about November 5, 1990, in the City of Davao, Medialdea that he represents not only Mayor Duterte but City
Philippines, and within the jurisdiction of this Honorable Administrator de Guzman as well, upon his commitment, the
Court, the above-named accused, both public officers, accused arraignment hereof is now set for July 25, 1997 at 8:00 oclock
Benjamin C. De Guzman being then the City Administrator of in the morning.[14]
Davao City, committing the crime herein charged in relation
to, while in the performance and taking advantage of their On 15 July 1997, petitioners moved for reconsideration of
official functions, and conspiring and confederating with each the above order but the same was denied by the Sandiganbayan
other, did then and there willfully, unlawfully and criminally for lack of merit in its Resolution dated 5 August 1997. [15]
enter into a negotiated contract for the purchase of computer
hardware and accessories with the Systems Plus, Incorporated Hence, the present recourse.
for and in consideration of the amount of PESOS: ELEVEN
Petitioners allege that: No. 20,550-91 and SAR No. 91-05. The said order
was not accompanied by a single affidavit of any person
THE HONORABLE SANDIGANBAYAN COMMITTED charging petitioners of any offense as required by law.[17] They
GRAVE ABUSE OF DISCRETION AMOUNTING TO were just required to comment upon the allegations in Civil
LACK OR EXCESS OF JURISDICTION IN DENYING Case No. 20,550-91 of the Regional Trial Court of Davao City
PETITIONERS MOTION TO QUASH AND MOTION FOR which had earlier been dismissed and on the COA Special Audit
RECONSIDERATION, CONSIDERING THAT: Report. Petitioners had no inkling that they were being
subjected to a preliminary investigation as in fact there was no
indication in the order that a preliminary investigation was
A
being conducted. If Graft Investigator Manriquez had intended
(1) PETITIONERS WERE EFFECTIVELY DEPRIVED merely to adopt the allegations of the plaintiffs in the civil case
OF THEIR RIGHT TO A PRELIMINARY or the Special Audit Report (whose recommendation for the
INVESTIGATION PURSUANT TO SEC. 4, cancellation of the contract in question had been complied with)
RULE II OF ADMINISTRATIVE ORDER NO. as his basis for criminal prosecution, then the procedure was
07 (RULES OF PROCEDURE OF THE plainly anomalous and highly irregular. As a consequence,
OFFICE OF THE OMBUDSMAN); AND petitioners constitutional right to due process was violated.
(2) ASSUMING THAT A PRELIMINARY Sections (2) and (4), Rule II of Administrative Order No.
INVESTIGATION WAS PROPERLY 07 (Rules of Procedure of the Office of the Ombudsman)
CONDUCTED, THERE WAS AN provide:
INORDINATE DELAY IN TERMINATING
THE SAME THEREBY DEPRIVING THEM Sec. 2. Evaluation. Upon evaluating the complaint, the
OF THEIR RIGHT TO DUE PROCESS AND investigating officer shall recommend whether or not it may
SPEEDY DISPOSITION OF THE CASE. be:
B
a) dismissed outright for want of palpable merit;
THERE IS NO SUFFICIENT BASIS, IN FACT
AND IN LAW, TO CHARGE PETITIONERS b) referred to respondent for comment;
DUTERTE AND DE GUZMAN OF
VIOLATING SEC. 3 (G) OF R.A. 3019 IN
c) endorsed to the proper government office or agency which
THAT:
has jurisdiction over the case;
(1) PETITIONER DUTERTE ACTED IN GOOD FAITH
AND WAS CLOTHED WITH FULL LEGAL d) forwarded to the appropriate office or official for fact-
AUTHORITY FROM THE CITY COUNCIL finding investigation;
TO ENTER INTO A CONTRACT WITH
SYSTEMS PLUS, INC., e) referred for administrative adjudication; or
(2) THERE IS NO CONTRACT MANIFESTLY AND
GROSSLY DISADVANTAGEOUS TO THE f) subjected to a preliminary investigation
GOVERNMENT TO SPEAK OF AS THE
SAME HAS BEEN RESCINDED AND NO xxx
DAMAGE WAS SUFFERED BY THE CITY
GOVERNMENT; Sec. 4. Procedure. The preliminary investigation of cases
(3) ASSUMING THAT THE CONTRACT WAS NOT falling under the jurisdiction of the Sandiganbayan and
RESCINDED, THE SAME CANNOT BE Regional Trial Courts shall be conducted in the manner
CONSIDERED AS MANIFESTLY AND prescribed in Section 3, Rule 112 of the Rules of Court,
GROSSLY DISADVANTAGEOUS TO THE subject to the following provisions:
GOVERNMENT.[16]
a) If the complaint is not under oath or is based only on
On 4 September 1997, the Court issued a Temporary official reports, the investigating officer shall require the
Restraining Order enjoining the Sandiganbayan from further complainant or supporting witnesses to execute affidavits to
proceeding with Criminal Case No. 23193. substantiate the complaints.
The Court finds the petition meritorious.
b) After such affidavits have been secured, the investigating
We have judiciously studied the case records and we find officer shall issue an order, attaching thereto a copy of the
that the preliminary investigation of the charges against affidavits and other supporting documents, directing the
petitioners has been conducted not in the manner laid down in respondent to submit, within ten (10) days from receipt
Administrative Order No. 07. thereof, his counter-affidavits and controverting evidence with
In the 12 November 1991 Order of Graft Investigator proof of service thereof on the complainant. The complainant
Manriquez, petitioners were merely directed to submit a point- may file reply affidavits within ten (10) days after service of
by-point comment under oath on the allegations in Civil Case the counter-affidavits.
c) If the respondent does not file a counter-affidavit, the the merits of the complaint. That being done, the investigating
investigating officer may consider the comment filed by him, officer shall again recommend any one of the actions
if any, as his answer to the complaint. In any event, the enumerated in Section 2, which include the conduct of a
respondent shall have access to the evidence on record. preliminary investigation.
A preliminary investigation, on the other hand, takes on
d) No motion to dismiss shall be allowed except for lack of an adversarial quality and an entirely different procedures
jurisdiction. Neither may a motion for a bill of particulars be comes into play. This must be so because the purpose of a
entertained. If respondent desires any matter in the preliminary investigation or a previous inquiry of some kind,
complainants affidavit to be clarified, the particularization before an accused person is placed on trial, is to secure the
thereof may be done at the time of clarificatory questioning in innocent against hasty, malicious and oppressive prosecution,
the manner provided in paragraph (f) of this section. and to protect him from an open and public accusation of a
crime, from the trouble, expenses and anxiety of public
e) If the respondent cannot be served with the order mentioned trial.[18] It is also intended to protect the state from having to
in paragraph 6 hereof, or having been served, does not comply conduct useless and expensive trials.[19] While the right is
therewith, the complaint shall be deemed submitted for statutory rather than constitutional in its fundament, it is a
resolution on the basis of the evidence on record. component part of due process in criminal justice. The right to
have a preliminary investigation conducted before being bound
f) If, after the filing of the requisite affidavits and their over to trial for a criminal offense and hence, formally at risk of
supporting evidences, there are facts material to the case incarceration or some other penalty, is not a mere formal or
which the investigating officer may need to be clarified on, he technical right; it is a substantive right. To deny the accuseds
may conduct a clarificatory hearing during which the parties claim to a preliminary investigation would be to deprive him of
shall be afforded the opportunity to be present but without the the full measure of his right to due process.[20]
right to examine or cross-examine the witness being
questioned. Where the appearance of the parties or witnesses Note that in preliminary investigation, if the complaint is
is impracticable, the clarificatory questioning may be unverified or based only on official reports (which is the
conducted in writing, whereby the questions desired to be situation obtaining in the case at bar), the complainant is
asked by the investigating officer or a party shall be reduced required to submit affidavits to substantiate the complaint. The
into writing and served on the witness concerned who shall be investigating officer, thereafter, shall issue an order, to which
required to answer the same in writing and under oath. copies of the complaint-affidavit are attached, requiring the
respondent to submit his counter-affidavits. In the preliminary
investigation, what the respondent is required to file is a
g) Upon the termination of the preliminary investigation, the counter-affidavit, not a comment. It is only when the respondent
investigating officer shall be forward the records of the case fails to file a counter-affidavit may the investigating officer
together with his resolution to the designated authorities for consider the respondents comment as the answer to the
their appropriate action thereon. complaint. Against the foregoing backdrop, there was a
palpable non-observance by the Office of the Ombudsman of
No information may be filed and no complaint may be the fundamental requirements of preliminary investigation.
dismissed without the written authority or approval of the
Ombudsman in cases falling within the jurisdiction of the Apparently, in the case at bar, the investigating officer
Sandiganbayan, or the proper Deputy Ombudsman in all other considered the filing of petitioners comment as a substantial
cases. compliance with the requirements of a preliminary
investigation. Initially, Graft Investor Manriquez directed the
In what passes off as application of the foregoing rules, all members of the Special Audit Team on 9 October 1991 to
that petitioners were asked to do was merely to file their submit their affidavits relative to SAR No. 91-05. However, on
comment upon every allegation of the complaint in Civil Case 12 November 1991, before the affidavits were submitted,
No. 20,550-91 in the Regional Trial Court (RTC) and on the Manriquez required petitioners to submit their respective
COA Special Audit Report. The comment referred to in Section comments on the complaint in the civil case and on Special
2(b) Rule II, of A.O. No. 07 is not part of or is equivalent to the Audit Report (SAR) 91-05. Even when the required affidavits
preliminary investigation contemplated in Sec. 4, Rule II, of the were filed by the audit team on 4 December 1991, petitioners
same Administrative Order. A plain reading of Sec. 2 would were still not furnished copies thereof. The Ombudsman
convey the idea that upon evaluation of the complaint, the contends that failure to provide petitioners the complaint-
investigating officer may recommend its outright dismissal for affidavits is immaterial since petitioners were well aware of the
palpable want of merit; otherwise, or if the complaint appears existence of the civil complaint and SAR No. 91-05. We find
to have some merit, the investigator may recommend action the Ombudsmans reasoning flawed. The civil complaint and the
under any of those enumerated from (b) to (f), that is, the COA Special Audit Report are not equivalent to the complaint-
investigator may recommend that the complaint be: referred to affidavits required by the rules. Moreover, long before
respondent for comment, or endorsed to the proper government petitioners were directed to file their comments, the civil
office or agency which has jurisdiction over the case; or complaint (Civil Case No. 20, 550-91) was rendered moot and
forwarded to the appropriate office of official for fact-finding academic and, accordingly, dismissed following the mutual
investigation. Now, if the investigator opts to recommend the cancellation of the computerization contract. In SAR No. 91-
filing of a comment by the respondent, it is presumably because 05, on the other hand, petitioners were merely advised to
he needs more facts and information for further evaluation of rescind the subject contract which was accomplished even
before the audit report came out. In light of these circumstances, Lemuel M. De Guzman recommending the filing of information
the Court cannot blame petitioners for being unaware of the against them for violation of Sec. 3(g) of R.A. No. 3019 (Anti-
proceedings conducted against them. Graft and Corrupt Practices Act). The inordinate delay in the
conduct of the preliminary investigation infringed upon their
In Olivas vs. Office of the Ombudsman,[21] this Court, constitutionally guaranteed right to a speedy disposition of their
speaking through Justice Vicente V. Mendoza, emphasized that case.[22] In Tatad vs. Sandiganbayan,[23] we held that an undue
it is mandatory requirement for the complaint to submit his delay of close to three (3) years in the termination of the
affidavit and those of his witnesses before the respondent can preliminary investigation in the light of the circumstances
be compelled to submit his counter-affidavits and other obtaining in that case warranted the dismissal of the case:
supporting documents. Thus:
We find the long delay in the termination of the preliminary
Even in investigations looking to the prosecution of a party, investigation by the Tanodbayan in the instant case to be
Rule I, 3 can only apply to the general criminal investigation, violative of the constitutional right of the accused to due
which in the case at bar was already conducted by the PCGG. process. Substantial adherence to the requirements of the law
But after the Ombudsman and his deputies have gathered governing the conduct of preliminary investigation, including
evidence and their investigation has ceased to be a general substantial compliance with the time limitation prescribed by
exploratory one and they decide to bring the action against a the law for the resolution of the case by the prosecutor, is part
party, their proceedings become adversary and Rule II 4(a) of the procedural due process constitutionally guaranteed by
then applies. This means that before the respondent can be the fundamental law. Not only under the broad umbrella of the
required to submit counter-affidavits and other supporting due process clause, but under the constitutional guarantee of
documents, the complaint must submit his affidavit and those speedy disposition of cases as embodied in Section 16 of the
of his witnesses. This is true not only of prosecutions of graft Bill of Rights (both in the 1973 and 1987 Constitution), the
cases under Rep. Act No. 3019 but also of actions for the inordinate delay is violative of the petitioners constitutional
recovery of unexplained wealth under Rep. Act No. 1379, rights. A delay of close to three (3) years can not be deemed
because 2 of this latter law requires that before a petition is reasonable or justifiable in the light of the circumstances
filed there must be a previous inquiry similar to preliminary obtaining in the case at bar. We are not impressed by the
investigation in criminal cases. attempt of the Sandiganbayan to sanitize the long delay by
indulging in the speculative assumption that the delay may be
Indeed, since a preliminary investigation is designed to screen due to a painstaking and grueling scrutiny by the Tanodbayan
cases for trial, only evidence may be considered. While reports as to whether the evidence presented during the preliminary
and even raw information may justify the initiation of an investigation merited prosecution of a former high-ranking
investigation, the stage of preliminary investigation can be government official. In the first place, such a statement
held only after sufficient evidence has been gathered and suggests a double standard of treatment, which must be
evaluated warranting the eventual prosecution of the case in emphatically rejected. Secondly, three out of the five charges
court. As this Court held in Cojuangco, Jr. v. PCGG: against the petitioner were for his alleged failure to file his
sworn statement of assets and liabilities required by Republic
Although such a preliminary investigation is not a trial and is Act No. 3019, which certainly did not involve complicated
not intended to usurp the function of the trial court, it is not a legal and factual issues necessitating such painstaking and
casual affair. The officer conducting the same investigates or grueling scrutiny as would justify a delay of almost three years
inquires into the facts concerning the commission of the crime in terminating the preliminary investigation. The other two
with the end in view of determining whether or not an charges relating to alleged bribery and alleged giving of
information may be prepared against the accused. Indeed, a unwarranted benefits to a relative, while presenting more
preliminary investigation is in effect a realistic judicial substantial legal and factual issues, certainly do not warrant or
appraisal of the merits of the case. Sufficient proof of the guilt justify the period of three years, which it took the Tanodbayan
of the accused must be adduced so that when the case is tried, to resolve the case.
the trial court may not be bound as a matter of law to order an
acquittal. A preliminary investigation has then been called a It has been suggested that the long delay in terminating the
judicial inquiry. It is a judicial proceeding. An act becomes preliminary investigation should not be deemed fatal, for even
judicial when there is opportunity to be heard and for the the complete absence of a preliminary investigation does not
production and weighing of evidence, and a decision is warrant dismissal of the information. True but the absence of a
rendered thereof. preliminary investigation can be corrected by giving the
accused such investigation. But an undue delay in the conduct
II of the preliminary investigation can not be corrected, for until
now, man has not yet invented a device for setting back time.
Compounding the deprivation of petitioners of their right
to a preliminary investigation was the undue and unreasonable
In the recent case of Angchangco, Jr. vs.
delay in the termination of the irregularity conducted
Ombudsman,[24] the Court upheld Angchangcos right to the
preliminary investigation. Petitioners manifestation adopting
speedy disposition of his case. Angchangco was a sheriff in the
the comments of their co-respondents was filed on 18 February
Regional Trial Court of Agusan del Norte and Butuan City. In
1992. However, it was only on 22 February 1996 or four (4)
1990 criminal complaints were filed against him which
years later, that petitioners received a memorandum dated 8
February 1996 submitted by Special Prosecutor Officer I
remained pending before the Ombudsman even after his investigation therein to justify the invocation of their right to
retirement in 1994. The Court thus ruled: speedy disposition of cases, the particular facts of each case
must be taken into consideration in the grant of the relief
Here, the Office of the Ombudsman, due to its failure to sought. In the Tatad case, we are reminded:
resolve the criminal charges against petitioner for more than
six years, has transgressed on the constitutional right of In a number of cases, this Court has not hesitated to grant the
petitioner to due process and to a speedy disposition of the so-called radical relief and to spare the accused from the
cases against him, as well as the Ombudsmans own undergoing the rigors and expense of a full-blown trial where
constitutional duty to act promptly on complaints filed before it is clear that he has been deprived of due process of law or
it. For all these past 6 years, petitioner has remained under a other constitutional guaranteed rights. Of course, it goes
cloud, and since his retirement in September 1994, he has without saying that in the application of the doctrine
been deprived of the fruits of his retirement after serving the enunciated in those cases, particularly regard must be taken of
government for over 42 years all because of the inaction of the facts and circumstances peculiar to its case.[27]
respondent Ombusman. If we wait any longer, it may be too
late for petitioner to receive his retirement benefits, not to In Alviso vs. Sandiganbayan,[28] the Court observed that
speak of clearing his name. This is a case of plain injustice the concept of speedy disposition of cases is a relative term and
which calls for the issuance of the writ prayed for. [25] must necessarily be a flexible concept and that the factors that
may be considered and balanced are the length of the delay, the
We are not persuaded by the Ombudsmans argument that assertion or failure to assert such right by the accused, and the
the Tatad ruling does not apply to the present case which is not prejudice caused by the delay.
politically motivated unlike the former, pointing out the
following findings of the Court in the Tatad decision: Petitioners in this case, however, could not have urged the
speedy resolution of their case because they were completely
unaware that the investigation against them was still on-
A painstaking review of the facts can not but leave the going.Peculiar to this case, we reiterate, is the fact that
impression that political motivations played a vital role in petitioners were merely asked to comment, and not file counter-
activating and propelling the prosecutional process in this affidavits which is the procedure to follow in a preliminary
case. Firstly, the complaint came to life, as it were, only after investigation.After giving their explanation and after four long
petitioner Tatad had a falling out with President Marcos. years of being in the dark, petitioners, naturally, had reason to
Secondly, departing from established procedures prescribed by assume that the charges against them had already been
law for preliminary investigation, which require the dismissed.
submission of affidavits and counter-affidavits by the
complainant and the respondent and their witnesses, the On the other hand, the Office of the Ombudsman failed to
Tanodbayan referred the complaint to the Presidential Security present any plausible, special or even novel reason which could
Command for fact-finding investigation and report. justify the four-year delay in terminating its investigation. Its
excuse for the delay-the many layers of review that the case had
We find such blatant departure from the established procedure to undergo and the meticulous scrutiny it had to entail has lost
as dubious, but revealing attempt to involve an office directly its novelty and is no longer appealing, as was the invocation in
under the President in the prosecutional process lending the Tatad case. The incident before us does not involve
credence to the suspicion that the prosecution was politically complicated factual and legal issues, specially in view of the
motivated. We cannot emphasize too strongly that prosecutors fact that the subject computerization contract had been mutually
should not allow, and should avoid, giving the impression that cancelled by the parties thereto even before the Anti-Graft
their noble office is being used or prostituted, wittingly or League filed its complaint.
unwittingly, for political ends, or other purposes alien to, or
The Office of the Ombudsman capitalizes on petitioners
subversive of, the basic and fundamental objective observing
three motions for extension of the time to file comment which
the interest of justice evenhandedly, without fear or favor to
it imputed for the delay. However, the delay was not caused by
any and all litigants alike whether rich or poor, weak or strong,
the motions for extension. The delay occurred after petitioners
powerless or mighty. Only by strict adherence to the
filed their comment. Between 1992-1996, petitioners were
established procedure may be publics perception of the
under no obligation to make any move because there was no
impartiality of the prosecutor be enhanced.[26]
preliminary investigation within the contemplation of Section
4, Rule II of A.O. No. 07 to speak of in the first place.
The Ombudsman endeavored to distinguish the present
suit from the Angchangco case by arguing that in the latter, III
Angchangco filed several motions for early resolution,
Finally, under the facts of the case, there is no basis in the
implying that in the case at bar petitioners were not as vigilant
law or in fact to charge petitioners for violation of Sec. 3(g) of
in asserting or protecting their rights.
R.A. No. 3019. To establish probable cause against the offender
We disagree. The constitutional right to speedy for violation of Sec. 3(g), the following elements must be
disposition of cases does not come into play only when political present: (1) the offender is a public officer; (2) he entered into
considerations are involved. The Constitution makes no such a contract or transaction in behalf of the government; (3) the
distinction.While political motivation in Tatad may have been contract or transaction is grossly and manifestly
a factor in the undue delay in the termination of the preliminary disadvantageous to the government. The second element of the
crime that the accused public officers entered into a contract in
behalf of the government is absent. The computerization The facts are as follows:
contract was rescinded on 6 May 1991 before SAR No. 91-05
came out on 31 May 1991 and before the Anti-Graft League On March 6, 1986, one Pedro Almendras filed with the
filed its complaint with the Ombudsman on 1 August Office of the Tanodbayan (predecessor of the Ombudsman) a
1991. Hence, at that time the Anti-Graft League instituted their sworn complaint[2] against Alejandro Tapang for falsification of
complaint and the Ombudsman issued its Order on 12 complainant's "salaysay" alleging that Alejandro Tapang made
November 1991, there was no longer any contract to speak complainant sign a piece of paper in blank on which paper a
of. The contract, after 6 May 1991 became in contemplation of "salaysay" was later inscribed stating that complainant had been
the law, non-existent, as if no contract was ever executed. paid his claim in the amount of P17,594.00, which was not true.
In the said complaint, Pedro Almendras mentioned that he
WHEREFORE, premises considered, the petition is sought the help of petitioner Elpidio C. Cervantes who worked
GRANTED and Criminal Case No. 23193 is hereby as analyst in the office of labor arbiter Teodorico L. Ruiz. [3]
DISMISSED. The temporary restraining order issued on 4
September 1997 is made PERMANENT. On October 2, 1986, Alejandro Tapang submitted to the
Office of the Tanodbayan a counter-affidavit stating that the
SO ORDERED. letter complaint of Almendras was the subject of a labor case
decided by Arbiter Teodorico L. Ruiz; that the letter "is full of
lies and improbabilities" and "that it is vague." [4]
On October 16, 1986, petitioner Elpidio C. Cervantes filed
with the office of the Tanodbayan an affidavit stating that he
had nothing to do with the blank paper that Almendras signed,
as admitted by the latter in a confrontation in the presence of
National Labor Relations Commission (NLRC) vice chairman
Diego Atienza.[5]
On May 18, 1992, more than six (6) years after the filing
of the initiatory complaint with the Tanodbayan, Special
Prosecution Officer II, Office of the Special Prosecutor Luz L.
Quinones-Marcos filed with the Sandiganbayan, assigned to the
First Division, an Information charging petitioner Elpidio C.
Cervantes, together with Teodorico L. Ruiz and Alejandro
Tapang with violation of Section 3 (e), Republic Act 3019,
committed as follows:

[G.R. No. 108595. May 18, 1999] That on or about June 16, 1984, or for sometime subsequent
thereto, in Manila, Philippines, and within the jurisdiction of
this Honorable Court, the above-named accused Teodorico L.
Ruiz, a public officer, being then a Labor Arbiter, National
ELPIDIO C. CERVANTES, petitioner, vs. THE Labor Relations Commission, NCR, Department of Labor and
SANDIGANBAYAN, FIRST DIVISION, THE Elpidio Cervantes, also a public officer, being then a Labor
SPECIAL PROSECUTOR, and PEDRO Analyst, National Labor Relations Commission, NCR,
ALMENDRAS, respondents. Department of Labor, in the exercise of their official and
administrative functions, conspiring, confederating and
DECISION conniving with private respondent Alejandro Tapang, did then
and there, wilfully, unlawfully and criminally with evident bad
PARDO, J.: faith and manifest partiality cause undue injury to one Pedro
Almendras by then and there inducing Pedro Almendras to
The case before the Court is a special civil action sign a blank paper, on which a statement was later typed and
for certiorari and prohibition with preliminary injunction attributed as his (Almendras) statement in which statement
seeking to annul and set aside the resolution of the Almendras allegedly acknowledged that the whole amount
Sandiganbayan, First Division,[1] that denied petitioner's awarded to him by the NLRC in a decision in NCR Case No.
motion to quash the information against him for violation of 10-731-81 had been paid by Alejandro Tapang and therefore,
Section 3 (e), Republic Act 3019, and to restrain or enjoin the he is no longer pursuing any claim against Tapang, thereby
Sandiganbayan from proceeding with his arraignment and giving said Alejandro Tapang unwarranted benefits and
trial.The motion is based on the ground that the filing of the advantage to the damage and prejudice of Pedro Almendras.
information against petitioner over six (6) years after the initial
complaint with the Tanodbayan (predecessor of the CONTRARY TO LAW.[6]
Ombudsman) violated his right to speedy disposition of the
case, and that the acts charged in the information do not On May 28, 1992, petitioner filed a motion for
constitute an offense. reconsideration with the Office of the Special Prosecutor
We grant the petition. reiterating that he never met complainant Almendras on June
29, 1984, that complainant filed a case before the City Fiscal of
Quezon City, claiming that his counsel together with Tapang Constitutional right of speedy disposition of cases because
conspired to deprive him of his monetary award and that the political motivations played a vital role in activating and
case was dismissed.[7] propelling the prosecutorial process in this case.
On October 2, 1992, petitioner filed with the The Special Prosecutor also cited Alvizo vs.
Sandiganbayan, Manila, a "motion to defer arraignment due to Sandiganbayan (footnote 220 SCRA 55, 64) alleging that, as in
pendency of reinvestigation or motion to quash and motion to Alvizo, the petitioner herein was insensitive to the implications
recall warrant of arrest" on the ground that (a) petitioner filed and contingencies thereof by not taking any step whatsoever to
with the office of the Special Prosecutor a motion for accelerate the disposition of the matter.
reinvestigation; (b) that the case against Cervantes "has
prescribed" due to unreasonable delay in the resolution of the We cannot accept the Special Prosecutors ratiocination. It
preliminary investigation, and (c) that the acts charged in the is the duty of the prosecutor to speedily resolve the complaint,
information do not constitute an offense.[8] as mandated by the Constitution, regardless of whether the
petitioner did not object to the delay or that the delay was with
On October 2, 1992, the Ombudsman denied petitioners his acquiescence provided that it was not due to causes directly
motion for reconsideration,[9] and simultaneously filed with the attributable to him.
Sandiganbayan an amended information. The amendment
consisted of the insertion of the total amount involved.[10] Consequently, we rule that the Sandiganbayan gravely
abused its discretion in not quashing the information for
By minute resolution dated December 24, 1992, the violation of petitioners Constitutional right to the speedy
Sandiganbayan denied petitioner's motion, ruling that there was disposition of the case in the level of the Special Prosecutor,
no "unwarranted postponement nor any denial by the Office of the Ombudsman.[14]
Tanodbayan or of the Ombudsman of any step taken by the
accused to accelerate the disposition on the matter."[11] We deem it unnecessary to resolve the first issue in view
of the foregoing ruling.
Hence, this petition.
WHEREFORE, the Court hereby GRANTS the petition
On February 22, 1993, the Court required respondents to and ANNULS the minute resolution of the
comment on the petition (not to file a motion to dismiss) within Sandiganbayan, dated December 24, 1992, in Criminal Case
ten (10) days from notice, and issued a temporary restraining No. 17673. The Court directs the Sandiganbayan to dismiss the
order enjoiningrespondent Sandiganbayan from continuing case, with costs de oficio.
with the arraignment and trial or from further proceeding with
Criminal Case No. 17673. On December 14, 1993, respondents The temporary restraining order heretofore issued is made
filed their comment. On March 10, 1994, petitioner filed a reply permanent.
to comment. On November 22, 1994, respondents filed a No costs in this instance.
rejoinder.
SO ORDERED.
We resolve to give due course to the petition and decide
the case.
The issues raised are (a) whether the acts charged in the
information filed against petitioner for violation of Section 3
(e), R. A. 3019 do not constitute an offense; and (b) whether the
Sandiganbayan acted with grave abuse of discretion in denying
his motion to quash for violation of the right to speedy
disposition of the case.
We shall first resolve the second issue. We find
petitioner's contention meritorious. He was deprived of his right
to a speedy disposition of the case, a right guaranteed by the
Constitution.[12] It took the Special Prosecutor (succeeding the
Tanodbayan) six (6) years from the filing of the initiatory
complaint before he decided to file an information for the
offense with the Sandiganbayan. The letter complaint was filed [G.R. Nos. 116259-60. February 20, 1996]
with the Tanodbayan on March 6, 1986. The affidavit of the
petitioner was filed therein on October 16, 1986. The Special
Prosecutor resolved the case on May 18, 1992. In their
comment to the petition at bar,[13] the Sandiganbayan and the SALVADOR P. SOCRATES, petitioner,
Special Prosecutor try to justify the inordinate delay in the vs. SANDIGANBAYAN, Third Division, and
resolution of the complaint by stating that no political PEOPLE OF THE PHILIPPINES, respondents.
motivation appears to have tainted the prosecution of the case
in apparent reference to the case of Tatad vs. Sandiganbayan,
(footote: 159 SCRA 70, 81-82.) where the Court ruled that the
long delay (three years) in the termination of the preliminary [G.R. Nos. 118896-97. February 20, 1996]
investigation by the Tanodbayan" was violative of the
SALVADOR P. SOCRATES, petitioner, In a letter to the Honorable Tanodbayan dated June 23, 1988,
vs. SANDIGANBAYAN and PEOPLE OF THE however, Nelia Yap-Fernandez, the Deputized Tanodbayan
PHILIPPINES, respondents. Prosecutor from the Office of the City Prosecutor of Puerto
Princesa City, requested that she be allowed to inhibit herself
DECISION from handling the preliminary investigation of the present case
considering that petitioner appears to be her co-principal
REGALADO, J.: sponsor in a wedding ceremony held last May 28, 1988
(Annex C-3, ibid.).
Before us are two consolidated original actions for
certiorari and prohibition filed by petitioner Salvador P. On January 16, 1989, the Office of the Ombudsman received a
Socrates assailing the orders and resolution issued by letter from Rodriguez, who was then the incumbent governor
respondent Sandiganbayan in Criminal Cases Nos. 18027 and of the province, inquiring about the present status of TBP No.
18028, both entitled People of the Philippines vs. Salvador 86-01 119 (Annex D, ibid.). In its 4th Indorsement dated
P. Socrates. In G.R. Nos. 116259-60, petitioner assails the February 7, 1989, the Ombudsman referred the matter of
legality of (a) the order dated February 9, 1994 denying continuing and terminating the investigation of the present
petitioners Amended and Consolidated Motion to Quash the case to the newly deputized Tanodbayan Prosecutor, Sesinio
Informations;1 (b) the order dated May 24, 1994 denying the Belen from the Office of the Provincial Prosecutor (Annex D-
Motion for Reconsideration and/or Reinvestigation;2 and (c) the 1, ibid.). However, the latter, in his 5th Indorsement dated
order dated July 20, 1994 denying the Motion for Partial February 27, 1989 to the Ombudsman, requested that the
Reconsideration of the Order of May 24, 1994. 3 On the other present case be reassigned to another Prosecutor considering
hand, in G.R. Nos. 118896-97 petitioner seeks the annulment of that he is a long time close friend and compadre of petitioner
the Resolution dated December 23, 19944 ordering the and that one of the complainants therein Eustaquio Gacott, Jr.,
preventive suspension of petitioner as Provincial Governor who was formerly a member of the Sangguniang
of Palawan for a period of ninety (90) days, and to enjoin Panlalawigan, is now the Provincial Prosecutor of Palawan,
respondent court from enforcing the same. his present superior (Annex D-2, ibid.).
The antecedent facts, as may be culled from the Comment
filed by the Solicitor General in G.R. Nos. 116259-60, are as On April 25, 1989, petitioner was directed by the Ombudsman
follows: to comment on the letter-manifestation dated April 4, 1989
filed by Rodriguez requesting that an amendment be effected
on certain portions of the present complaint (Annexes E & E-
Petitioner who is the incumbent governor of Palawan, was
2, ibid.). No comment having been received by the
first elected governor of the said province in 1968 and was
Ombudsman as of May 24, 1989, petitioner, on an even date,
again reelected in both the 1971 and 1980 elections, until he
was again directed to comment thereon (Annex E-
was replaced by private complainant Victoriano Rodriguez as
1, ibid.). Finally, petitioner filed his required comment
Officer-In-Charge Governor after the EDSA Revolution in
dated June 2, 1989 (Annex E-3, ibid.).
February 1986. Subsequently, both petitioner and Rodriguez
ran for governor in the 1988 elections where the latter
emerged victorious. In the 1992 synchronized national and Based on the Resolution dated August 27, 1992 of Special
local elections, the two again contested the gubernatorial post; Prosecution Officer I Wendell Barreras-Sulit (Annex F-
and this time, it was petitioner who won. 2, ibid.), which affirmed the Resolution dated February 21,
1992 rendered by Ombudsman Investigator Ernesto Nocos
recommending the filing of appropriate charges against
Meanwhile, at the time Rodriguez was still the OIC Governor
petitioner, the Office of the Special Prosecutor filed on
of the province, the Provincial Government of Palawan, as
September 16, 1992 with the respondent Court two (2)
represented by Rodriguez and the Provincial Board Members
Informations against petitioner, docketed as Criminal Cases
of Palawan, filed before the Office of the Tanodbayan two (2)
Nos. 18027 and 18028. The first was for violation of Section
complaints both dated December 5, 1986 and docketed as TBP
3(h) of Republic Act No. 3019, and the second for violation of
No. 86-01119. The first complaint charged petitioner with
Section 3(e) of the same law (Annexes F & F-1, ibid.).
violation of Section 3(b) of Republic Act No. 3019, otherwise
known as the Anti-Graft and Corrupt Practices Act, and the
second charged petitioner, together with several other Before his arraignment could be set, petitioner initially filed
provincial officers, with violation of Section 3(a) and (g) of an Urgent Motion for Quashal of Information and/or
the same law (Annexes A & A-I , respectively, Petition). Reinvestigation in the Light of Supervening Facts. However,
when the said motion was subsequently called for hearing,
petitioners counsel was made to choose which of the aforesaid
Instead of filing a counter-affidavit as directed, petitioner filed
two (2) conflicting motions he preferred to take up with
a Motion to Suspend Preliminary investigation dated
respondent Court. Thus, on January 18, 1993, petitioner filed
September 3, 1987 on the ground that upon the ratification of
an Amended and Consolidated Motion to Quash the
the 1987 Constitution, the present Tanodbayan has been
Information in the Above-entitled Cases. After an Opposition
transformed into the Office of the Special Prosecutor and has,
and a Reply were filed by the prosecution and petitioner,
therefore, lost his power to conduct preliminary investigation
respectively, respondent court issued its first assailed
(Annex C, ibid).
Resolution on February 9, 1994, denying the same (Annex
G, ibid.).
On March 15, 1994, petitioner filed a Motion for questioned resolution granting the motion to suspend pendente
Reconsideration and/or Reinvestigation, which was lite and ordering the suspension of petitioner as Provincial
subsequently denied by respondent court in its second assailed Governor of Palawan for a period of ninety (90) days from
Resolution issued on May 24, 1992 (Annex H-1 , ibid.).5 notice.
His motion for the reconsideration thereof having been
Petitioner then filed a petition for certiorari and denied, another petition for certiorari and prohibition with
prohibition, docketed as G.R. Nos. 116259-60, challenging the prayer for a restraining order was filed by petitioner on
aforementioned orders of the Sandiganbayan for allegedly February 20, 1995 against the same respondents, docketed as
having been issued with grave abuse of discretion amounting to G.R. Nos. 118896-97, and which seeks to annul as well as to
lack or excess of jurisdiction. It was likewise prayed that enjoin respondent court from enforcing its resolution dated
respondent court be enjoined from taking cognizance of and December 23, 1994 ordering his
from proceeding with the arraignment of petitioner and the trial suspension pendente lite. On March 8, 1995, the Court resolved
and hearing of Criminal Cases Nos. 18027-28 pending before to consolidate this second petition with G.R. Nos. 116259-60.
it. Respondents thereafter filed their Comment to which a Reply
was submitted by petitioner. From the mosaic of the foregoing events and the incidents
interjected therein, the following pattern of contentious issues
In the meantime, no temporary restraining order having has emerged:
been issued by this Court in G.R. Nos. 116259-60, respondent
court proceeded with the arraignment of herein petitioner In G.R. Nos. 116259-60, the validity of the informations
on October 5, 1994 wherein a plea of not guilty was entered for filed in Criminal Cases Nos. 18027-28 is being contested on
him by the court after he refused to do so. Thereafter, with the three grounds, viz.: (1) the respondent court did not acquire
denial of petitioners motion to quash the informations, the jurisdiction over the case on the ground that an inordinate delay
prosecution filed on October 11, 1994 before respondent court of six (6) years between the conduct of the preliminary
a Motion to Suspend Accused Pendente Lite6 pursuant to investigation and the subsequent filing of the informations
Section 13 of Republic Act No. 3019. Petitioner opposed said against petitioner constitutes a violation of his constitutional
motion on the ground that the validity of the informations filed rights to a speedy disposition of the case and due process of law
against him is still pending review before the Supreme Court. pursuant to the Tatad doctrine; (2) the facts charged do not
He further contended therein that Section 13 of Republic Act constitute an offense; and (3) since the acts charged in the
No. 3019, on which the motion to suspend is based, is complaints filed before the Tanodbayan are different from the
unconstitutional in that it constitutes an undue delegation of charges contained in the informations, another preliminary
executive power and is arbitrary and discriminatory. investigation should have been conducted, in the absence of
which there is a denial of due process.
In view of the filing of the motion for his suspension,
petitioner filed on October 14, 1994 in G.R. Nos. 116259-60 a In G.R. Nos. 118896-97, petitioner questions the validity
Supplemental Petition7 questioning the veracity of and seeking of the suspension order in that: (1) he may not be suspended
to restrain respondent court from acting on said motion to while the issue on the validity of the informations filed against
suspend pendente lite, the hearing of which was scheduled him is still pending review before the Supreme Court; and (2)
on October 17, 1994. However, before respondents could file Section 13 of Republic Act No. 3019, which forms the basis of
their comment thereto as required by this Court, petitioner, who the order of suspension, is unconstitutional on the ground that
initially sought the holding in abeyance of further action on his it constitutes an undue delegation of the authority to suspend
supplemental petition until after respondent court shall have which is essentially an executive power. Petitioner contends
resolved the motion to suspend pendente lite, eventually that the jurisprudential doctrines relied upon by respondent
decided to withdraw the same purportedly in order not to delay court in upholding the constitutionality of Section 13 are not
the disposition of the main petition. Hence, on January 16, applicable to the cases at bar which involve an issue not yet
1995, this Court issued a resolution8 granting the motion to passed upon by this Court. In addition, petitioner again attacks
withdraw the supplemental petition and considering the petition the legality of the subject informations for having been filed in
in G.R. Nos. 116259-60 as submitted for resolution. violation of the due process and equal protection clauses by
reason of the non-inclusion therein, as co-principals, of the
In the interim, petitioner filed before respondent court on members of the Sangguniang Panlalawigan who approved the
November 28, 1994 an amended motion to include as co- purchase of the vessel, as well as the board of directors of ERA
principals: (a) in Criminal Case No. 18028, the members of the Technology and Resource Corporation which entered into a
Sangguniang Panlalawigan who authorized the purchase and contract with the Province of Palawan.
repair of the vessel in question; and (b) in Criminal Case No.
18027, the Board of Directors of ERA Technology and I. G.R. Nos. 116259-60
Resources Corporation which entered into a contract with the
Province of Palawan.9 Petitioner argued that the non-inclusion 1. In asserting that there was a violation of his right to a
of these co-principals violates his right to due process and equal speedy trial by reason of the unreasonable delay of six (6) years
protection of the laws which thus rendered the informations null between the conduct of the preliminary investigation and the
and void. It appears that the prosecution did not oppose nor filing of the informations, petitioner invokes the doctrine laid
object to this amended motion. down in the leading case of Tatad vs. Sandiganbayan, et al.10 In
said case, all the affidavits and counter-affidavits had already
On December 23, 1994, respondent court, without ruling been filed with the Tanodbayan for final disposition as of
on petitioners motion to include co-principals, issued its October 25, 1982 but it was only on June 12, 1985, or three (3)
years thereafter, that the informations accusing Tatad of a (6) On April 1, 1991, counsel for the accused filed an
violation of Republic Act No. 3019 were filed before the Appearance and Motion for Extension of Time to File
Sandiganbayan. The Court held there that an inordinate delay Appropriate Pleading. Counsel prayed that respondents be
of three (3) years in the conduct and termination of the granted an extension of twenty (20) days within which to
preliminary investigation is violative of the constitutional rights comply with the order of March 11, 1991;
of the accused to due process and speedy disposition of his case,
by reason of which the informations filed against the accused (7) The accused Governor Salvador P. Socrates, through
therein were ordered dismissed. It must be emphasized, counsel, filed a motion to quash/dismiss on December 17,
however, that in the Tatad case, no explanation or ratiocination 1991. This pleading was received by the Office of the Deputy
was advanced by the prosecution therein as to the cause of the Ombudsman only on January 13, 1992. It took some time for
delay. the prosecution to resolve the motion and there never was any
In the present case, as distinguished from the factual intimation on the part of the accused that the accused was
milieu obtaining in Tatad, respondent court found that the six- invoking his right to a speedy disposition of the complaint
year delay in the termination of the preliminary investigation against him. The motion to quash/dismiss was in fact denied
was caused by petitioners own acts. Thus: by the prosecution in an order dated January 20, 1990;

In the cases at bar, the record shows that delay in the filing of (8) A motion for reconsideration having been filed thereafter,
the Informations in these cases was caused, not by inaction of the Informations in these cases were after all filed on
the prosecution, but by the following actuations of the September 16, 1992, but only after the ruling of the
accused: prosecution on the motion to quash/dismiss.11

(1) Sometime after the complaint of private complainant was Petitioner, in a futile attempt to refute the foregoing
filed with the Office of the City Fiscal of the City of Puerto factual findings of respondent court, could only raise the
Princesa, preliminary investigation was held in abeyance on defense that the motion to suspend the preliminary investigation
account of the motion of accused Salvador P. Socrates, did not affect the proceedings therein; that the preliminary
entitled Motion to Suspend Preliminary Investigation. investigation really started on February 18, 1987 when the
Suspension was prayed for until an Ombudsman, as provided Tanodbayan issued subpoenas to the respondents; that the
in Executive Order No. 243, shall have been appointed; motion to dismiss/quash the complaints was purposely for the
early termination of the preliminary investigation; that the filing
of the complaint was politically motivated, as may be gleaned
(2) Preliminary investigation was interrupted when private from the affidavit of complainant Rodriguez; and that pursuant
complainant, then Governor Victoriano J. Rodriguez, filed to Section 3, Rule 112 of the Rules of Court, the case should
on April 24, 1989, a letter-manifestation correcting the have been resolved within ten (10) days from the time the
complaint; investigation was concluded.

(3) Only on September 22, 1989 did the accused in these cases Clearly, the facts of the case at bar are diametrically
file with the Office of the Ombudsman a reply to complainants opposed to the factual situation in Tatad because the obviously
manifestation; delaying tactics resorted to by herein petitioner were not present
in the latter case. Furthermore, the allegation that the filing of
the complaint was politically motivated does not serve to justify
(4) In view of the foregoing actuations of the parties,
preliminary investigation of these cases was started in earnest the nullification of the informations where the existence of such
only on June 25, 1990. Respondents then, including the motive has not been sufficiently established nor substantial
evidence presented in support thereof. The situation
accused herein, were required to submit counter-affidavits;
in Tatad was quite to the contrary since the accused therein
successfully proved that the charges were filed against him only
(5) Interrupting preliminary proceedings again, accused after it became widely known that he actually had a falling out
Governor Salvador P. Socrates, on August 13, 1990, filed a with the late President Marcos.
motion to dismiss the complaint upon the following grounds:
That scenario impelled the Court to make the admonition
(a) That the Honorable Ombudsman has no jurisdiction over therein that prosecutors should not allow, and should avoid,
the person of respondent; and giving the impression that their noble office is being used or
prostituted, wittingly or unwittingly, for political ends or other
purposes alien to, or subversive of, the basic and fundamental
(b) That the complaint does not conform substantially to the
objective of serving the interest of justice evenhandedly,
prescribed form.
without fear or favor to any and all litigants alike, whether rich
or poor, weak or strong, powerless or mighty. Such an exigency
The private complainant was, as a matter of right, granted a apparently does not obtain in the case at bar. There is nothing
period of time within which to oppose the motion. The in the records from which it can be conclusively inferred,
prosecution necessarily had to ponder on the motion after expressly or impliedly, that the investigating prosecutors were
protracted deliberations; politically motivated or even coerced into filing these criminal
charges against petitioner.
We likewise do not adhere to petitioners asseveration that 2. Petitioner then questions the sufficiency of the
the orders issued by Branches 51 and 52 of the Regional Trial allegations in the informations in that the same do not constitute
Court of Puerto Princesa City quashing the informations for an offense supposedly because (a) in Criminal Case No. 18027,
technical malversation filed against herein petitioner, on the there is no statement that herein petitioner actually intervened
ground that the inordinate delay in the termination of the and participated, as a board member of ERA Technology and
preliminary investigation constitutes a violation of petitioners Resources Corporation, in the latters contract with the Province
right to due process and speedy disposition of his case which of Palawan, which is allegedly an element necessary to
thereby ousted said courts of jurisdiction thereover, have constitute a violation of Section 3(h) of Republic Act No. 3019;
become final and conclusive by reason of the prosecutions and (b) in Criminal Case No. 18028, the information failed to
failure to file an appeal therefrom. We have carefully show a causal relation between the act done by the accused and
scrutinized the orders adverted to and we find and so hold that the undue injury caused to the provincial government of
the same cannot effectively deter the prosecution herein from Palawan.
proceeding with the trial before the Sandiganbayan.
With respect to the alleged defects in the information filed
First, the criminal cases for technical malversation filed in Criminal Case No. 18027 for violation of Section 3(h) of the
before said Regional Trial Court are different from the charges anti-graft law, petitioner invokes the ruling in the case
for violation of Republic Act No. 3019 filed with the of Trieste, Sr. vs. Sandiganbayan13 where it was held that
Sandiganbayan. The former is covered by a general law while what is contemplated in Section 3(h) of the anti-graft law is the
the latter involves a special law, with variant elements of the actual intervention in the transaction in which one has financial
offenses being required, hence double jeopardy cannot set or pecuniary interest in order that liability may attach. In the
in. Second, and more importantly, it will be noted that the trial cited case, however, the Court found that the petitioner therein
court in the malversation case hastily concluded that there was did not, in any way, intervene in making the awards and
an inordinate delay of six (6) years in the termination of the payment of the purchases in question since he signed the
preliminary investigation through the mere expedient of voucher only after all the purchases had already been made,
counting the number of years that had elapsed from the delivered and paid for by the municipal treasurer.
institution of the complaint with the Ombudsman until the filing
of the informations in court, without bothering to inquire into The purchases involved therein were previously ordered
the pertinent factual considerations and procedural by the municipal treasurer without the knowledge and consent
technicalities involved. of the accused municipal mayor, were subsequently delivered
by the supplier, and were thereafter paid by the treasurer again
In arriving at such a self-serving conclusion, the trial court without the knowledge and consent of the mayor. The only
confined itself strictly to a mathematical reckoning of the time participation of the accused mayor in the transaction involved
involved, instead of undertaking a more substantive the mechanical act of signing the disbursement vouchers for
appreciation of the circumstances and particulars which could record purposes only. Thus, the Court did not consider the act
have possibly caused the delay. On the contrary, herein therein of the accused mayor to be covered by the prohibition
respondent court has convincingly shown that the preliminary under Section 3(h) of the law.
investigation dragged on for several years owing, ironically, to
petitioners evident propensity to resort to dilatory tactics. In the Contrariwise, in the present cases, petitioner Socrates
cases now before us, it cannot be successfully and validly stands charged with a violation of Section 3(h) for intervening
contended that petitioners right to speedy trial has been in his official capacity as Governor of Palawan in reviewing and
violated. approving the disbursement voucher dated August 2, 1982 for
payment in favor of ERA Technology Resources Corporation
We have only to reiterate the declaration made in Tatad to where he was one of the incorporators and members of the
the effect that in the application of the constitutional guaranty board of directors. Such allegation clearly indicates the nature
of the right to speedy disposition of cases, particular regard and extent of petitioners participation in the questioned
must also be taken of the facts and circumstances peculiar to transaction. Without petitioners approval, payment could not
each case. It is palpably clear that the application of possibly have been effected.
the Tatad doctrine should not be made to rely solely on the
length of time that has passed but equal concern should likewise We likewise do not find any flaw in the information filed
be accorded to the factual ambiance and considerations. It can in Criminal Case No. 18028, for violation of Section 3(e),
easily be deduced from a complete reading of the adjudicatory which would warrant the dismissal thereof. Evidentiary facts
discourse in Tatad that the three-year delay was specifically need not be alleged in the information because these are matters
considered vis--vis all the facts and circumstances which of defense. Informations need only state the ultimate facts; the
obtained therein. Perforce, even on this ground alone, the reasons therefor could be proved during the trial.14 Hence, there
instant petition for certiorari should be dismissed. is no need to state facts in the information which would prove
the causal relation between the act done by the accused and the
A speedy trial is one conducted according to the law of undue injury caused to the Province of Palawan. Antipodal to
criminal procedure and the rules and regulations, free from petitioners contention, a reading of the information in Criminal
vexatious, capricious and oppressive delays. The primordial Case No. 18028 will readily disclose that the essential elements
purpose of this constitutional right is to prevent the oppression of the offense charged have been sufficiently alleged therein. It
of an accused by delaying criminal prosecution for an indefinite is not proper, therefore, to resolve the charges right at the outset
period of time.12 In the cases at bar, while there may have been without the benefit of a full-blown trial. The issues require a
some delay, it was petitioner himself who brought about the fuller ventilation and examination. Given all the circumstances
situation of which he now complains. of this case, we feel it would be unwarranted to cut off the
prosecutory process at this stage of the proceedings and to judgment of conviction must be sustained if it appears from the
dismiss the information.15 evidence in the record that the accused was guilty as charged of
any one of these modes of the offense.19
3. It is likewise asserted by petitioner that the elements of
the offenses charged in the complaints are different from those Neither will the absence of a preliminary investigation,
stated in the informations which were filed before the assuming that it is necessary to conduct a new one, affect the
Sandiganbayan, and that since there was no preliminary validity of the informations filed against petitioner. It has been
investigation conducted with respect to the latter, such consistently held that the absence of a preliminary investigation
informations should be declared null and void for lack of due does not impair the validity of the criminal information or
process. render it defective. Dismissal of the case is not the remedy.20 It
is not a ground for the quashal of a complaint or information.
The first complaint for violation of Section 3(b) became The proper course of action that should be taken is for the
the basis for the filing of an information in Criminal Case No. Sandiganbayan to hold in abeyance the proceedings upon such
18027 for a violation of Section 3(h). In both, petitioner is information and to remand the case to the office of the
accused of intervening in his official capacity as Provincial Ombudsman for him or the Special Prosecutor to conduct a
Governor in the contracts for the installation and construction preliminary investigation,21 if the accused actually makes out a
of waterwork projects, with the ERA Technology and case justifying such relief.
Resources Corporation, where he was an incorporator and a
member of the board of directors, thereby directly or indirectly On the bases of the foregoing disquisitions, therefore, we
benefiting from said transactions. In Criminal Case No. 18028, rule and so hold that the informations filed against petitioner are
petitioner was charged with a violation of Section 3(e) as a valid and legal.
result of the complaint filed against him and several others for
a violation of Section 3(a) and (g). In both instances, petitioner II. G.R. Nos. 118896-97
is charged with the disbursement of public funds for the The main issue submitted herein for resolution is the
purchase of a motor launch which was grossly and manifestly legality of the petitioners preventive suspension, which is
disadvantageous to the provincial government premised on several grounds.
of Palawan because the same broke down only after its maiden
voyage. 1. Initially, petitioner claims that the Sandiganbayan
committed a grave abuse of discretion in ordering his
It is thus clearly apparent that the complaints and the suspension despite the fact that the validity of the informations
informations are based on substantially the same factual filed against him is still pending review before the Supreme
settings, except that the respective designations are different. Court. In support thereof, he invokes the rule laid down
Axiomatic is the rule that what controls is not the designation in Eternal Gardens Memorial Park Corporation vs. Court of
of the offense but its description in the complaint or Appeals, et al.22 that even if no temporary restraining order was
information.16 The real nature of the criminal charge is issued by the Supreme Court, the Court of Appeals could have
determined not from the caption or preamble of the information refrained from taking any action while the petition for certiorari
nor from the specification of the provision of law alleged to was pending with the Supreme Court. Petitioner insists that this
have been violated, they being conclusions of law, but by the is what respondent court should have done. Under this
actual recital of facts in the complaint or information. It is not particular issue, petitioner is in effect seeking a review of the
the technical name given by the fiscal appearing in the title of order issued by the Sandiganbayan, dated February 9, 1994,
the information that determines the character of the crime but denying his amended and consolidated motion to quash the
the facts alleged in the body of the information.17 information.
This Court has repeatedly held that when the facts, acts We have but to reiterate the fundamental rule that an order
and circumstances are set forth in the body of an information denying a motion to quash is interlocutory and therefore not
with sufficient certainty to constitute an offense and to apprise appealable, nor can it be the subject of a petition for certiorari.
the defendant of the nature of the charge against him, a Such order may only be reviewed in the ordinary course of law
misnomer or innocuous designation of a crime in the caption or by an appeal from the judgment after trial.23 In other words, it
other parts of the information will not vitiate it. In such a case, cannot be the subject of appeal until the judgment or a final
the facts set forth in the charge controls the erroneous order is rendered. The ordinary procedure to be followed in that
designation of the offense and the accused stands indicted for event is to enter a plea, go to trial and if the decision is adverse,
the offense charged in the statement of facts. The erroneous reiterate the issue on appeal from the final judgment.24Although
designation may be disregarded as surplusage.18 the special civil action for certiorari may be availed of in case
Furthermore, it will be observed that it is the same section there is a grave abuse of discretion or lack of jurisdiction, that
of the law which is involved in the present case, that is, Section vitiating error is not attendant in the present case.
3 of Republic Act No. 3019, albeit it defines several modes of Section 13 of Republic Act No. 3019 provides that:
committing the same offense. It is an old and well-settled rule
in the appreciation of indictments that where an offense may be
SEC. 13. Suspension and Loss of Benefits. - Any incumbent
committed in any of several different modes, and the offense,
public officer against whom any criminal prosecution under a
in any particular instance, is alleged to have been committed in
valid information under this Act or under Title 7, Book II of
two or more of the modes specified, it is sufficient to prove the
the Revised Penal Code or for any offense involving fraud
offense committed through any one of them, provided that it be
upon government or public funds or property whether as a
such as to constitute the substantive offense. Thereafter, a
simple or as complex offense and in whatever stage of
execution and mode of participation, is pending in court, shall that the hearing be expeditious, and not unduly protracted such
be suspended from office. Should he be convicted by final as to thwart the prompt suspension envisioned by the Act.
judgment, he shall lose all retirement or gratuity Hence, if the trial court, say, finds the ground alleged in the
benefits under any law, but if he is acquitted, he shall be quashal motion not to be indubitable, then it shall be called
entitled to reinstatement and to the salaries and benefits which upon to issue the suspension order upon its upholding the
he failed to receive during suspension, unless in the meantime validity of the information and setting the same for trial on the
administrative proceedings have been filed against him.25 merits.

This Court has ruled that under Section 13 of the anti-graft With the aforequoted jurisprudential authority as the
law, the suspension of a public officer is mandatory after the basis, it is evident that upon a proper determination of the
validity of the information has been upheld in a pre-suspension validity of the information, it becomes mandatory for the court
hearing conducted for that purpose. This pre-suspension to immediately issue the suspension order. The rule on the
hearing is conducted to determine basically the validity of the matter is specific and categorical. It leaves no room for
information, from which the court can have a basis to either interpretation. It is not within the courts discretion to hold in
suspend the accused and proceed with the trial on the merits of abeyance the suspension of the accused officer on the pretext
the case, or withhold the suspension of the latter and dismiss the that the order denying the motion to quash is pending review
case, or correct any part of the proceeding which impairs its before the appellate courts. Its discretion lies only during the
validity. That hearing may be treated in the same manner as a pre-suspension hearing where it is required to ascertain whether
challenge to the validity of the information by way of a motion or not (1) the accused had been afforded due preliminary
to quash.26 investigation prior to the filing of the information against him,
(2) the acts for which he was charged constitute a violation of
In the leading case of Luciano, et al. vs. Mariano, et the provisions of Republic Act No. 3019 or of the provisions of
al.27 we have set out the guidelines to be followed by the lower Title 7, Book II of the Revised Penal Code, or (3) the
courts in the exercise of the power of suspension under Section informations against him can be quashed, under any of the
13 of the law, to wit: grounds provided in Section 2, Rule 117 of the Rules of
Court. 28
(c) By way of broad guidelines for the lower courts in the
exercise of the power of suspension from office of public Once the information is found to be sufficient in form and
officers charged under a valid information under the substance, then the court must issue the order of suspension as
provisions of Republic Act No. 3019 or under the provisions a matter of course. There are no ifs and buts about it. This is
of the Revised Penal Code on bribery, pursuant to Section 13 because a preventive suspension is not a penalty. It is not
of said Act, it may be briefly stated that upon the filing of such imposed as a result of judicial proceedings. In fact, if acquitted,
information, the trial court should issue an order with proper the official concerned shall be entitled to reinstatement and to
notice requiring the accused officer to show cause at a specific the salaries and benefits which he failed to receive during
date of hearing why he should not be ordered suspended from suspension. In view of this latter provision, the accused elective
office pursuant to the cited mandatory provisions of the Act. public officer does not stand to be prejudiced by the immediate
Where either the prosecution seasonably files a motion for an enforcement of the suspension order in the event that the
order of suspension or the accused in turn files a motion to information is subsequently declared null and void on appeal
quash the information or challenges the validity thereof, such and the case dismissed as against him. Taking into
show-cause order of the trial court would no longer be consideration the public policy involved in preventively
necessary. What is indispensable is that the trial court duly suspending a public officer charged under a valid information,
hear the parties at a hearing held for determining the validity the protection of public interest will definitely have to prevail
of the information, and thereafter hand down its ruling, issuing over the private interest of the accused.29
the corresponding order or suspension should it uphold the To further emphasize the ministerial duty of the court
validity of the information or withhold such suspension in the under Section 13 of Republic Act No. 3019, it is said that the
contrary case. court trying a case has neither discretion nor duty to determine
whether or not a preventive suspension is required to prevent
(d) No specific rules need be laid down for such pre- the accused from using his office to intimidate witnesses or
suspension hearing. Suffice it to state that the accused should frustrate his prosecution or continue committing malfeasance in
be given a fair and adequate opportunity to challenge the office. The presumption is that unless the accused is suspended,
validity of the criminal proceedings against him, e.g., that he he may frustrate his prosecution or commit further acts of
has not been afforded the right of due preliminary malfeasance or do both, in the same way that upon a finding
investigation; that the acts for which he stands charged do not that there is probable cause to believe that a crime has been
constitute a violation of the provisions of Republic Act No. committed and that the accused is probably guilty thereof, the
3019 or of the bribery provisions of the Revised Penal Code law requires the judge to issue a warrant for the arrest of the
which would warrant his mandatory suspension from office accused. The law does not require the court to determine
under Section 13 of the Act; or he may present a motion to whether the accused is likely to escape or evade the jurisdiction
quash the information on any of the grounds provided in Rule of the court.30
117 of the Rules of Court. The mandatory suspension decreed
by the Act upon determination of the pendency in court of a Applying now the procedure outlined in Luciano, the
criminal prosecution for violation of the Anti-Graft Act or for records of the instant case do not show that the proceedings
bribery under a valid information requires at the same time leading to the filing of the informations against petitioner were
tainted with any irregularity so as to invalidate the same. informations. Besides, such an infirmity would neither have the
Likewise, the informations show that the allegations contained effect of extinguishing or mitigating petitioners liability if he is
therein meet the essential elements of the offense as defined by subsequently found guilty of the offense charged. No one would
the substantive law. The record is also bereft of undisputed facts contend that if for lack of knowledge of the facts, by mistake or
to warrant the quashal of the informations under any of the for any other reason the prosecuting officer fails to include the
grounds provided in Section 2, Rule 117 of the Rules of names of one or more persons in an information filed by him,
Court.31Finally, a cursory reading of the order dated February who were in fact guilty participants in the commission of the
9, 1994 issued by respondent court will show that petitioner was crime charged therein, such persons will be relieved of criminal
given the opportunity to be heard on his motion to quash. liability; or that those accused who have been charged with the
Veritably, the Sandiganbayan did not commit a grave abuse of offense, brought to trial, and found guilty will be permitted to
discretion in denying the motion to quash and ordering the escape punishment merely because it develops in the course of
preventive suspension of herein petitioner. the trial, or after the trial, that there were other guilty
participants in the crime.34
2. Additionally, petitioner avers that the informations filed
against him on which the order of suspension was based, are Granting arguendo that this plaint of petitioner may be
null and void in view of the non-inclusion of his co-principals invoked as a ground for the quashal of the informations, the
which thus constitutes a violation of petitioners right to due motion to quash must still be denied for having been filed only
process and equal protection of the law and, therefore, ousted after petitioner had been arraigned. Section 8, Rule 117 of the
respondent court of its jurisdiction over the case. Petitioner 1985 Rules on Criminal Procedure provides that (t)he failure of
alleges that in Criminal Case No. 18027, the board of directors the accused to assert any ground of a motion to quash before he
of ERA Technology Corporation should have been included as pleads to the complaint or information, either because he did
principals by indispensable cooperation because without them not file a motion to quash or failed to allege the same in said
he could not possibly have committed the offense. motion, shall be deemed a waiver of the grounds of a motion to
quash, except the grounds of no offense charged, lack of
Also, he claims that in Criminal Case No. 18028, the jurisdiction over the offense charged, extinction of the offense
members of the Sangguniang Panlalawigan who issued the or penalty and jeopardy. The failure to include a co-accused is
resolutions authorizing the purchase and repair of the motor not covered by the exception; hence, the same is deemed
launch should likewise have been included as principals by waived.
inducement or indispensable cooperation, considering that
petitioner was allegedly merely implementing their resolutions. Third, where the government prosecutor unreasonably
Hence, according to him, since the informations are null and refuses to file an information or to include a person as an
void, the suspension order which is based thereon should accused therein despite the fact that the evidence clearly
necessarily also be declared null and void. We find no merit in warrants such action, the offended party has the following
petitioners arguments. remedies: (1) in case of grave abuse of discretion, he may file
an action for mandamus to compel the prosecutor to file such
First, the rule under Section 1, Rule 110 of the Rules of information; (2) he may lodge a new complaint against the
Court, as reformulated in Section 2, Rule 110 of the 1985 Rules offenders before the Ombudsman and have a new examination
on Criminal Procedure, is that all criminal actions must be conducted as required by law; (3) he may institute
commenced either by complaint or information in the name of administrative charges against the erring prosecutor, or a
the People of the Philippines against all persons who appear to criminal complaint under Article 208 of the Revised Penal
be responsible for the offense involved. The law makes it a legal Code, or a civil action for damages under Article 27 of the Civil
duty for prosecuting officers to file the charges against Code; (4) he may secure the appointment of another prosecutor;
whomsoever the evidence may show to be responsible for an or (5) he may institute another criminal action if no double
offense. This does not mean, however, that they shall have no jeopardy is involved.
discretion at all; their discretion lies in determining whether the
evidence submitted justify a reasonable belief that a person has Fourth, it is significant and demonstrative of petitioners
committed an offense. What the rule demands is that all persons strategy that from the inception of the criminal complaint before
who appear responsible shall be charged in the information, the Ombudsman and during the conduct of the preliminary
which conversely implies that those against whom no sufficient investigation, until the filing of the informations before the
evidence of guilt exists are not required to be included. 32 Sandiganbayan and up to the denial of his amended and
consolidated motion to quash, herein petitioner has not been
This notwithstanding, it has equally been ruled that the heard to complain about the alleged non-inclusion of the other
failure of the fiscal to include the other public officials who supposed offenders. Indeed, it is now much too late for
appear to be responsible for the offense charged as co-accused petitioner to invoke and exploit this particular unfounded issue.
in the information filed against the accused does not in any way
vitiate the validity of the information under the Rules.33 Prescinding from the averments raised in the complaint
and information, from the facts and evidence of record, we do
Second, a failure to include other persons who appear to not deem it necessary to include the members of the
be responsible for the crime charged is not one of the grounds Sangguniang Panlalawigan of Palawan and the board members
provided under Section 3, Rule 117 for which a motion to quash of the ERA Technology and Resources Corporation as co-
the information against the accused may be filed, most accused in the informations filed against herein petitioner.
especially in the case at bar where there is prima facie proof that Insofar as the board members of said corporation are concerned,
petitioner is probably guilty of the offense charged, aside from they may be prosecuted only under Section 4(b) of Republic
the fact that there is no allegation of conspiracy in the Act No. 3019 which provides that (i)t shall be unlawful for any
person knowingly to induce or cause any public official to following the ruling in Sarcos vs. Castillo x x x, because the
commit any of the offenses defined in Section 3 thereof. In the main respondents are elective municipal officials, that power of
information filed in Criminal Case No. 18027, petitioner stands suspension must be held to repose in the Provincial Board,
charged with a violation of Section 3(h). It does not contain any under Section 5 of the Decentralization Act of 1967 (Republic
allegation to the effect that the board members knowingly Act 5185). The third is that, by Section 13 of the Anti-Graft and
induced or caused herein petitioner to commit the offense Corrupt Practices Act, solely the court in which the criminal
defined therein, which is an essential element of the crime in case has been filed shall wield the power of suspension.
Section 4(b). Indubitably, therefore, the board members cannot
be included as co-principals in Criminal Case No. 18027. We opt for the third. Common sense and the scheme of the
law so dictate.
On the other hand, the members of the Sangguniang
Panlalawigan cannot likewise be included in the information for It is true that nothing in Section 13 of the Anti-Graft and
violation of Section 3(e) filed in Criminal Case No. 18028, for Corrupt Practices Act grants with specificity upon the Court of
the simple reason that it is not the validity of their resolution First Instance the power to suspend an official charged with a
which is in issue here. While it is true that violation thereof. It would seem to us though that
said sanggunian passed a resolution authorizing the allocation suspensions by virtue of criminal proceedings are separate and
of funds for the purchase of a motor launch, and that petitioner distinct from suspensions in administrative cases. An accurate
merely acted on the strength thereof, it is not the fact of such reading of Section 13 yields two methods of investigation, one
authorization which is the subject of the charges against separate from the other: one criminal before the courts of
petitioner but rather the manner by which that resolution was justice, and the other administrative. This is the plain import
implemented by the latter. There is nothing in the averments in of the last sentence of Section 13, which says that if acquitted,
the information from which it could be inferentially deduced defendant in an Anti-Graft and Corrupt Practices case shall be
that the members of the sanggunian participated, directly or entitled to reinstatement and to the salaries and benefits which
indirectly, in the purchase of the vessel, and which fact could he failed to receive during suspension, unless in the meantime
be the basis for their indictment. administrative proceedings have been filed against him. Our
3. Lastly, petitioner questions the legality of his interpretation but preserves, as it should, the substantial
suspension on the ground that Section 13 of Republic Act No. symmetry between the first part of Section 13 and the last part
3019, which is the basis thereof, is unconstitutional for being an thereof just quoted.
undue delegation of executive power to the Sandiganbayan. He
postulates that the power of suspension, which is an incident of And so, there is in this legal provision a recognition that once
the power of removal, is basically administrative and executive a case is filed in court, all other acts connected with the
in nature. He further submits that the power of removal vested discharge of court functions - which here include suspension -
in the court under Section 9 of Republic Act No. 3019 is an should be left to the Court of First Instance.
incident of conviction, that is, it can only be exercised after a
conviction has been handed down. Hence, according to Not that this view finds no statutory support. By Section 9 of
petitioner, since the power to suspend is merely incidental to the Anti-Graft and Corrupt Practices Act, the court is
the power of removal, the former can only be exercised as an empowered to punish any public official committing any of
incident to conviction. Also, considering that Section 13 the unlawful acts or omissions enumerated in Sections 3, 4, 5
authorizes the court to exercise the power of suspension even and 6 of the law, amongst others, to perpetual disqualification
prior to conviction of the accused, it cannot be considered as an from public office. Here, the Makati elective officials
exercise of judicial power because it is not within the ambit of heretofore named have been charged with and found guilty of
the courts power of removal. In addition, petitioner avers that a violation of Section 3(g) of the Anti-Graft and Corrupt
Section 13 is arbitrary and discriminatory because it serves no Practices Act and were sentenced by the court below, amongst
purpose at all, in that it does not require a proceeding to others to be perpetually disqualified to hold office. Article 30
determine if there is sufficient ground to suspend, except for the of the Revised Penal Code declares that the penalty of
fact that it is required by law. perpetual absolute disqualification entails (t)he deprivation of
the public offices and employments which the offender may
Although presented differently, the issue on the courts have held, even if conferred by popular election. No stretch of
power of suspension under Section 13 has been squarely and the imagination is necessary to show that perpetual absolute
directly raised and adjudicated in the case of Luciano vs. disqualification - which, in effect, is encompassed in the
Provincial Governor, et al.,35 the pronouncements wherein we punishment set forth in Section 9 of the Anti-Graft and
quote in extenso: Corrupt Practices Act - covers that of removal from the office
which each of the respondent municipal official holds.
3. Proceeding from our holding that suspension is not
automatic, who should exercise the mandatory act of Since removal from office then is within the power of the
suspension under Section 13 of the Anti-Graft and Corrupt court, no amount of judicial legerdemain would deprive the
Practices Act? court of the power to suspend. Reason for this is that
suspension necessarily is included in the greater power of
Three theories have been advanced. One is that the power removal. It is without doubt that Congress has power to
of suspension - where a criminal case has already been filed in authorize courts to suspend public officers pending court
court - still is with the Provincial Governor, relying on Section proceedings for removal and that the congressional grant is not
2188 of the Revised Administrative Code. Another is that, violative of the separation of powers. For, our Constitution
being silent, we are not to say that from Congress is withheld political life. There is indeed the dispiriting lesson that in a
the power to decide the mode or procedure of suspension and clash between political considerations and conscience it is the
removal of public officers. latter that quite often gets dented. xxx

A look into the legislative intent, along with the legislative xxx xxx xxx
scheme, convinces us the more that the power of suspension
should be lodged with the court. While the law may not be a Therefore, since suspension is incident to removal and should
model of precise verbal structure, the intent is there. Section proceed from one who should logically do so, and considering
13 requires as a pre-condition of the power to suspend that that in the operation of a given statute fairness must have been
there be a valid information. Validity of information, of in the mind of the legislators, we brush aside needless
course, is determined by the Court of First Instance where the refinements, and rule that under Section 13 of the Anti-Graft
criminal case is pending. That is essentially a judicial function. and Corrupt Practices Act, once a valid information upon the
Suspension is a sequel to that finding, an incident to the provisions thereof is lodged with the Court of First Instance,
criminal proceedings before the court. Indeed, who can that court has the inescapable duty to suspend the public
suspend except one who knows the facts upon which official indicted thereunder.
suspension is based? We draw support from Lacson vs. Roque,
supra, at page 469: We are certain that no authority or good
These cases have long been on the line, unduly stretched
reason can be found in support of a proposition that the Chief
beyond their logical parameters and the permissible time frame.
Executive can suspend an officer facing criminal charges for Indeed, it is high time, ironically in fairness to petitioner
the sole purpose of aiding the court in the administration of himself, that the same be now calcined in the judicial crucible
justice. Independent of the other branches of the Government,
into their ultimate configuration.
the courts can well take care of their own administration of the
law. WHEREFORE, premises considered, the petitions in
G.R. Nos. 116259-60 and 118896-97 are hereby DISMISSED
The Anti-Graft and Corrupt Practices Act, an important for lack of merit, with costs against the petitioner.
legislation, should not be artificially construed so as to exclude
SO ORDERED.
the courts from the power to suspend - a prime tool designed by
Congress to prevent the power which an official wields from
frustrating the purity and certainty of the administration of
justice. Surely, we should not be pedantically exacting in
reading its provisions. We should rather say that if the courts
power of suspension incident to the court proceedings is to be
withheld or narrowed by construction, Congress should have
spelled it out in no uncertain terms x x x.
The Court then hastened to clarify that such a view may
not be taken as an encroachment upon the power of suspension
given other officials, reiterating in the process that a line should
be drawn between administrative proceedings and criminal
actions in court, that one is apart from the other. Elucidating
further on the possible danger which may arise if the power of
suspension, in consequence of a criminal action under Republic Binay v. Sandiganbayan
Act No. 3019 is vested in any authority other than the court, it
declared that: G.R. Nos. 120681-83
October 1, 1999
There is reasonable ground to believe that Congress did really
apprehend danger should the power of suspension in Article III Section 16 Right to speedy disposition of cases
consequence of a criminal case under the Anti-Graft and FACTS
Corrupt Practices Act be lodged in any authority other than the
court. Quite apart from the fact that the court has a better grasp Cases were filed by the Ombudsman in the Sandiganbayan
of the situation, there is one other factor, and that is, the rights (SB for brevity) against Mayor Binay of
of the person accused. The court could very well serve as a
lever to balance in one equation the public interests involved Makati for Illegal Use of Public Funds(RPC A220) and
and the interests of the defendant. And then, there is the Violation of Anti-Graft and Corrupt Practices
danger that partisan politics may creep in. The hand of Act(RA 3019) on September 1994. The informations filed
political oppression cannot just be ignored especially if the constituted crimes which were committed by
majority members of the Provincial Board and the defendant
public local elective officer are on opposite sides of the the petitioner in his incumbency in the year 1987.The
political fence. Power may be abused. Conversely, if both are petitioner filed a motion to quash alleging that the
of the same political persuasion, the suspending authority will
display reluctance in exercising the power of suspension. It is delay of more than 6 years constituted a violation of his
thus that the statute should catch up with the realities of constitutional right of due process. His
arraignment therefore was held in abeyance pending the Ombudsman.
resolution of the motions. Subsequently, the SB
The right to a speedy disposition of a case, like the right to
issued a resolution denying petitioners motion to speedy trial, is deemed violated only when the
quash and further the latters motion for
proceedings is attended by vexatious, capricious, and
reconsideration. In the meantime, the prosecution filed a oppressive delays; or when unjustified
motion to suspend the accused pendente lite
postponements of the trial are asked for and secured, or when
(benefits) which was later granted and ordered for a 90-day without cause or justifiable motive a long period of time is
suspension. Petition for certiorari was filed by allowed to elapse without the party having his case tried.
Equally applicable is
Mayor Binay in the SC praying that the resolution denying his
motion for reconsideration be set aside and the balancing test used to determine whether a defendant has
been denied his right to a speedy trial, or a
claimed that he was denied of his rights when the suspension
was ordered even before he could file his speedy disposition of a case for that matter, in which the
conduct of both the prosecution and the
reply to the petitioners opposition. SC then, directed the SB
to permit petitioner to file said reply. The SB defendant is weighed, and such factors as the length of the
delay, the reasons for such delay, the
nonetheless reiterated its previous resolutions and order after
the submission of the reply. Meanwhile, RA assertion or failure to assert such right by the accused, and the
prejudice caused by the delay. The
7975 redefining the jurisdiction of SB took effect on May
1995 so much so that the petitioner filed before concept of speedy disposition is a relative term and must
necessarily be a flexible concept.
SB a motion to refer his cases to the RTC of Makati alleging
that the SB has no jurisdiction over said A mere mathematical reckoning of the time involved,
therefore, would not be sufficient. In the
cases when it issued its resolutions and suspension order on
June 1995. The SB in a follow-up resolution application of the constitutional guarantee of the right to
speedy disposition of cases, particular regard
denied the petitioners motion. Hence this present petition,
prohibition and mandamus questioning the must also be taken of the facts and circumstances peculiar to
each case.
jurisdiction of SB over the criminal cases.
ISSUE
(issue relevant to our discussion on Sec. 16)
Whether or not the petitioners right to speedy disposition has
been violated NO.
HELD
The Court finds that there was no undue delay in the
disposition of the subject cases.
The prosecution is not bound by the findings of the [G.R. Nos. 120681-83. October 1, 1999]
Commission on Audit (COA); it must rely on its own
independent judgment in the determination of probable cause.
Accordingly, the prosecution had to
JEJOMAR C. BINAY, petitioner, vs. HON.
conduct its own review of the COA findings. Judging from SANDIGANBAYAN (Third Division) and the
said findings, we find that the cases were DEPARTMENT OF INTERIOR AND LOCAL
GOVERNMENT, respondents.
sufficiently complex, thus justifying the length of time for
their resolution.
Whether or not there is probable cause to warrant the filing of
the subject cases is a question best left to [G.R. No. 128136. October 1, 1999]

the discretion of the Ombudsman. Absent any grave abuse of


such discretion, the Court will not interfere
MARIO C. MAGSAYSAY, FRANCISCO B. CASTILLO,
in the exercise thereof. Petitioner in this case has failed to
CRISTINA D. MABIOG, REGINO E. MALAPIT,
establish any such abuse on the part of the
ERLINDA I. MASANGCAY and VICENTE DE
LA ROSA, petitioners, vs. HON. motion for reconsideration, which was opposed by the
SANDIGANBAYAN, HON. OMBUDSMAN and prosecution, was likewise denied by the Sandiganbayan. The
its PROSECUTOR WENDELL BARERRAS- resolution denying the motion for reconsideration, however,
SULIT and STATE PROSECUTORS ERIC was issued before the petitioner could file a reply to the
HENRY JOSEPH F. MALLONGA and GIDEON prosecutions opposition to the motion for reconsideration.
C. MENDOZA, respondents.
In the meantime, on March 31, 1995, the prosecution filed
a Motion to Suspend Accused Pendente Lite. The
DECISION Sandiganbayan, in a Resolution dated April 25, 1995, granted
KAPUNAN, J.: the motion and ordered the suspension of petitioner for ninety
days from receipt of the resolution. The court ruled that the
requisites for suspension pendente lite were present as
Pursuant to Section 4, Article XIII of the 1973
petitioner was charged with one of the offenses under Section
Constitution, Presidential Decree No. 1486 created an Anti-
13 of R.A. No. 3019[8] and the informations containing these
Graft Court known as the Sandiganbayan. Since then the
charges had previously been held valid in the resolution
jurisdiction of the Sandiganbayan has under gone various
denying the motion to quash and the resolution denying the
changes,[1] the most recent of which were effected through
motion for reconsideration.
Republic Act Nos. 7975[2] and 8249.[3] Whether the
Sandiganbayan, under these laws, exercises exclusive original Petitioner thus filed before this Court a petition
jurisdiction over criminal cases involving municipal mayors for certiorari,[9] to set aside the resolution denying his motion
accused of violations of Republic Act No. 3019 [4] and Article for reconsideration, claiming that he was denied due process
220 of the Revised Penal Code[5] is the central issue in these when the Sandiganbayan ordered his suspension pendente
consolidated petitions. lite before he could file a reply to the prosecutions opposition
to his motion for reconsideration of the resolution denying the
In G.R. Nos. 120681-83, petitioner Jejomar Binay seeks
motion to quash. In a Resolution dated April 28, 1995, the
to annul, among others, the Resolution of the Sandiganbayan
Court directed the Sandiganbayan to, among other things,
denying his motion to refer Criminal Case Nos. 21001, 21005
permit petitioner to file said reply.
and 21007 to the Regional Trial Court (RTC) of Makati and
declaring that the Sandiganbayan has jurisdiction over said After allowing and considering petitioners reply, the
cases despite the enactment of R.A. No. 7975. Sandiganbayan, on June 6, 1995, issued a Resolution reiterating
the denial of his motion for reconsideration of the denial of the
In G.R. No. 128136, petitioner Mario C. Magsaysay, et
motion to quash. On the same day, the Sandiganbayan issued
al. assail the October 22, 1996 Resolution of the
another resolution reiterating the order suspending
Sandiganbayan, reversing its Order of June 21, 1996 which
petitioner pendente lite.
suspended the proceedings in Criminal Case No. 23278 in
deference to whatever ruling this Court will lay down in the Meanwhile, R.A. No. 7975, redefining the jurisdiction of
Binay cases. the Sandiganbayan, took effect on May 16, 1995. [10]
The facts, as gathered from t he records, are as follows: On June 13, 1995, petitioner filed before the
Sandiganbayan a motion to refer his cases to the proper court
for further proceedings, alleging that when the two Resolutions,
G.R. Nos. 120681-83 both dated June 6, 1995, were issued by the Anti-Graft Court,
it had already lost jurisdiction over the subject cases. The
Sandiganbayan, in a Resolution dated July 4, 1995, denied
On September 7, 1994, the Office of the Ombudsman filed petitioners motion, holding thus:
before the Sandiganbayan three separate informations against
petitioner Jejomar Binay, one for violation of Article 220 of the There is no question that Municipal Mayors are classified as
Revised Penal Code,[6] and two for violation of Section 3(e) of Grade 27 under the compensation & Position Classification
R.A. No. 3019.[7] The informations, which were subsequently Act of 1989. Since, at the time of the commission of the
amended on September 15, 1994, all alleged that the acts offenses charged in he above-entitled cases, the accused
constituting these crimes were committed in 1987 during Mayor Jejomar C. Binay was a Municipal Mayor, although in
petitioners incumbency as Mayor of Makati, then a an acting or interim capacity, the Sandiganbayan, has, under
municipality of Metro Manila. Section 4 (e) 5, original jurisdiction over the cases therein
filed against him. The allegation that Mayor Binay ought to
Thereafter, petitioner moved to quash the have been classified with a salary grade lower than Grade 27,
informations. He contended that the six-year delay from the because at the time of the commission of the offenses charged
time the charges were filed in the Office of the Ombudsman on he was paid a salary which merits a grade lower than Grade 27
July 27, 1988 to the time the informations were filed in the does not hold water. In 1986 when the herein offenses were
Sandiganbayan on September 7, 1994 constituted a violation of committed by the accused, the Compensation & Position
his right to due process. Arraignment of the accused was held Classification Act of 1989 was not as yet in existence. From
in abeyance pending the resolution of this motion. the very definition of he very Act itself, it is evident that the
On March 29, 1995, the Sandiganbayan issued a Act was passed and had been effective only in 1989. The
Resolution denying petitioners motion to quash. Petitioners Grade classification of a public officer, whether at the time of
the commission of the offense or thereafter, is determined by
his classification under the Compensation & Position San Pascual Central School. This was docketed in the Office of
Classification Act of 1989. Thus since the accused Mayor the Ombudsman as OMB-1-94-1232.
Jejomar C. Binay was a Municipal Mayor at the time of the
commission of the offenses and the Compensation & Position In a Resolution dated June 14, 1995, Graft Investigation
Classification Act of 1989 classifies Municipal Mayors as Officer Lourdes A. Alarilla recommended the filing of an
Grade 27, it is a conclusion beyond cavil that the information for violation of Section 3(e) and (g) of R.A. No.
Sandiganbayan has jurisdiction over the accused herein. 3019, as amended, against petitioners with the
Sandiganbayan. Director Elvis John S. Asuncion concurred in
the resolution, and Manuel C. Domingo, Deputy Ombudsman
As of July 1, 1989, when Republic Act No. 6758 took effect, for Luzon, recommended approval of the same. The resolution
Municipal Mayor Jejomar C. Binay had begun receiving a was approved by then Acting Ombudsman Francisco A. Villa
monthly salary of P15,180.00 which is equivalent to Grade 28 with the following marginal note:
under the salary scale provided for in Section 27 of the said
Act. Under the Index of Occupational Services, the position
titles and salary grades of the Compensation & Position Authority is given to the deputy Ombudsman for Luzon to
classification system prepared by the Department of Budget cause the preparation of the information and to approve the
and Management pursuant to Section 6 of Republic [A]ct No. same for filing with the proper court.[12]
6758, the position of Municipal Mayor had been classified as
Grade 27.[11] On August 11, 1995, an Information for violation of
Section 3 (e) and (g) was filed against petitioners and Jovey C.
On July 7, 1995, petitioner filed the present petition Babago, not with the Sandiganbayan per the June 14, 1995
for certiorari, prohibition and mandamus questioning the Resolution, but with the RTC of Batangas City. The
jurisdiction of the Sandiganbayan over Criminal Case Nos. information was signed by a Lourdes A. Alarilla, the same Graft
21001, 21005 and 21007. He prayed, among others, that the Investigation Officer who recommended the filing of the
Court annul and set aside: (1) the Resolution of the information with the Sandiganbayan.
Sandiganbayan dated June 6, 1995 reiterating the denial of the In the meantime, a group denominated as the Concerned
motion for reconsideration of the motion to quash; (2) the Citizens of San Pascual, Batangas filed a complaint before the
Resolution of the same court also dated June 6, 1995 reiterating Ombudsman against petitioners, and Elpidia Amada and
the order suspending petitioner pendente lite; and (3) the Brigido Buhain, with violations of R.A. No. 3019. The
Resolution of the Sandiganbayan dated July 4, 1995 denying complaint also alleged, among others, the overpricing of the
the motion to refer case to the RTC. Petitioner also asked that landscaping project of San Pascual Central School. The case
the Court issue a temporary restraining order preventing the was docketed as OMB-0-94-0149.
suspension and arraignment of petitioner. The Court on July 7,
1995, resolved, among others, to issue the temporary restraining In a Resolution dated July 27, 1995, Graft Investigation
order prayed for. Officer Ernesto M. Nocos recommended the filing of an
information charging petitioners with violation of Section 3(e)
On July 14, 1995, petitioner filed an Addendum to Petition and (g) of R.A. No. 3019, as amended with proper court. The
(To allow the introduction of alternative reliefs), praying that, resolution, which was recommended for approval by Nicanor J.
should this Court hold that the Sandiganbayan has jurisdiction Cruz, OIC-Deputy Ombudsman for Luzon, and approved by
over the cases, the criminal cases filed against him be dismissed Ombudsman Aniano A. Desierto, adopted the findings and
just the same on the ground that the long delay of the conclusions in the resolution in OMB-1-94-1232 that the
preliminary investigation before the Ombudsman prior to the landscaping project was overpriced.
filing of the informations, deprived him of his right to due
process; and that, moreover, there was no probable cause to On February 9, 1996, another Information for violation of
warrant the filing of the informations. Section 3(e) of R.A. No. 3019, as amended, was filed against
petitioners for the overpricing of the landscaping project, this
time before the Sandiganbayan. The information was
subsequently amended on May 17, 1996. Except for the date the
G.R. No. 128136 alleged crime was committed, the information charged
essentially the same inculpatory facts as the information filed
in the RTC. The case was docketed in the Sandiganbayan as
Petitioner Mario Magsaysay is the Mayor of the
Crim. Case No. 22378.
Municipality of San Pascual, Batangas. Save for petitioner
Vicente dela Rosa, all of Mayor Magsaysays co-petitioners are On June 1, 1996, the accused filed with the
officials of the same municipality. Sandiganbayan a motion to quash the information in Crim. Case
No. 22378 on the following grounds: that the Sandiganbayan
In a complaint dated April 16, 1994, Victor Cusi, then
had no jurisdiction over the case; that the accused were charged
Vice-Mayor of San Pascual, Batangas, charged petitioners
with the same offense in two informations; and that the
along with Elpidia Amada, Jovey C. Babago, and Brigido H.
proceedings in the Sandiganbayan would expose petitioners to
Buhain, also officials of San Pascual Batangas, with violation
double jeopardy. The Sandiganbayan denied the accuseds
of R.A. No. 3019, as amended. The complaint charged the
motion to quash in a Resolution dated June 21, 1996. The court,
respondent municipal officials of overpaying Vicente de la
however, suspended proceedings in the case until the Supreme
Rosa of TDR Construction for the landscaping project of the
Court resolved the question of the Sandiganbayans jurisdiction
involved in the Binay petition.
Meanwhile, on June 7, 1996, Prosecutor Eric Mallonga On October 6, 1997, the Court resolved to consolidate
filed a motion before the RTC to refer the R.A. No. 3019 case G.R. No. 128136 (the Magsaysay petition) with G.R. Nos.
pending therein to the Sandiganbayan, arguing that under R.A. 120681-83 (the Binay petition).
No. 7975 the Sandiganbayan, not the RTC, had jurisdiction
over the case. On July 3, 1996, the RTC issued an order holding In resolving these consolidated petitions, the Court shall
in abeyance the resolution of the motion to refer the case since first address the common question of the Sandiganbayans
the issue of jurisdiction was pending before the Sandiganbayan. jurisdiction.

Back at the Sandiganbayan, the prosecution, on July 24, I


1996, filed a motion for reconsideration of the Sandiganbayans The Court rules that it is the Sandiganbayan which has
Order dated June 21, 1996. On August 2, 1996, filed their own jurisdiction over the subject cases.
motion for the reconsideration of the same order. On October
22, 1996, the Sandiganbayan granted the motion for The informations against Mayor Binay were filed in the
reconsideration filed by the prosecution and set the case for Sandiganbayan on July 7, 1994, pursuant to Presidential Decree
arraignment. Petitioners moved for a reconsideration of the No. 1606,[14] as amended by Presidential Decree No.
October 22, 1996 Resolution ordering their arraignment, which 1861,[15] the pertinent provisions of which state:
motion was denied on February 17, 1997.
SEC. 4. Jurisdiction. - The Sandiganbayan shall exercise:
On February 27, 1997, the accused filed the present
petition.
(a) Exclusive original jurisdiction in all cases involving:
On October 1, 1997, the Court resolved to issue a
temporary restraining order to prevent respondents from further (1) Violations of Republic Act No. 3019, as amended,
proceeding with Crim. Case No. 23278 of the Sandiganbayan. otherwise known as the Anti-Graft and Corrupt Practices Act,
The petition raises the following issues: Republic Act No. 1379, and Chapter II, Section 2, Title VII of
the Revised Penal Code;
I
(2) Other offenses or felonies committed by public officers
Had the Sandiganbayan been ousted of its jurisdiction over the and employees in relation to their office, including those
case of municipal mayor after the passage of Republic Act No. employed in government-owned or controlled corporations,
7975, coupled with the filing earlier of an information for the whether simple or complexed with other crimes, where the
same offense before the Regional Trial Court having territorial penalty prescribed by law is higher than prision
jurisdiction and venue of the commission of the offense? correccional or imprisonment for six (6) years, or a fine of
P6,000.00; PROVIDED, HOWEVER, that offenses or
II felonies mentioned in this paragraph where the penalty
prescribed by law does not exceed prision correccional or
Are the respondents Ombudsman and the prosecutors estopped imprisonment for six (6) years or a fine of P6,000.00 shall be
by laches or waiver from filing and prosecuting the case tried by the proper Regional Trial Court, Metropolitan Trial
before respondent Sandiganbayan after the filing earlier of the Court, Municipal Trial Court and Municipal Circuit Trial
information in the proper court, thereafter repudiating it, Court.
seeking another court of the same category and finally to
respondent court? xxx.
On May 16, 1995, R.A. No. 7975 took effect. At this time,
III Mayor Binay had not yet been arraigned in the
Sandiganbayan. On the other hand, R.A. No. 7975 was already
Whether or not the filing of two (2) informations for the same in effect when the information against Mayor Magsaysay et al.,
offense violated the rule on duplicity of information? was filed on August 11, 1995 in the RTC of Batangas City.
Section 2 of R.A. No. 7975 amended Section 4 of P.D. No.
IV 1606 to read as follows:

Whether or not the trial to be conducted by respondent court, Sec. 4. Jurisdiction. -- The Sandiganbayan shall exercise
if the case shall not be dismissed, will expose the petitioners original jurisdiction in all cases involving:
who are accused therein to double jeopardy?
a. Violations of Republic Act No. 3019, as amended,
V otherwise known as the Anti-Graft and Corrupt Practices Act,
Republic Act No. 1379, and Chapter II, Section 2, Title VII of
Under the circumstances, are the respondent Ombudsman and the Revised Penal Code, where one or more of the principal
the prosecutors guilty of forum shopping? [13] accused are officials occupying the following positions in the
government, whether in a permanent, acting or interim
capacity, at the time of the commission of the offense:
(1) Officials of the executive branch occupying the positions the case may be, pursuant to their respective jurisdiction as
of regional director and higher, otherwise classified as grade provided in Batas Pambansa Blg. 129.
27 and higher, of the Compensation and Position
Classification Act of 1989 (Republic Act No. 6758), xxx.
specifically including:
While the cases against petitioners were pending in this
(a) Provincial governors, vice-governors, members of Court, congress enacted R.A. No. 8249, again redefining the
the sangguniang panlalawigan, and provincial treasurers, jurisdiction of the Anti-Graft Court. This law took effect, per
assessors, engineers, and other provincial department heads; Section 10 thereof, on February 23, 1997, fifteen days after its
complete publication on February 8, 1997 in
the Journal and Malaya, two newspapers of general
(b) City mayors, vice-mayors, members of the sangguniang circulation.
panlungsod, city treasurers, assessors, engineers, and other
city department heads; As further amended by Section 4 of R.A. No. 8249,
Section 4 of P.D. No. 1606 now reads:
(c) Officials of the diplomatic service occupying the position
of consul and higher; SEC. 4. Jurisdiction. - The Sandiganbayan shall exercise
exclusive original jurisdiction in all cases involving:
(d) Philippine army and air force colonels, naval captains, and
all officers of higher rank; a. Violations of Republic Act No. 3019, as amended,
otherwise known as the Anti-Graft and Corrupt Practices Act,
(e) PNP chief superintendent and PNP officers of higher rank; Republic Act No. 1379, and Chapter II, Section 2, Title VII,
Book II of the Revised Penal Code, where one or more of the
(f) City and provincial prosecutors and their assistants, and accused are officials occupying the following positions in the
officials and prosecutors in the Office of the Ombudsman and government, whether in a permanent, acting or interim
special prosecutor; capacity, at he time of the commission of the offense:

(g) Presidents, directors or trustees, or managers of (1) Officials of the executive branch occupying the position of
government-owned or controlled corporations, state regional director and higher, otherwise classified as grade 27
universities or educational institutions or foundations; and higher, of the Compensation and Position Classification
Act of 1989 (Republic Act No. 6758), specifically including:
(2) Members of Congress and officials thereof classified as
Grade 27 and up under the Compensation and Position (a) Provincial governors, vice-governors, members of
Classification Act of 1989; the sangguniang panlalawigan, and provincial treasurers,
assessors, engineers, and other provincial department heads;
(3) Members of the judiciary without prejudice to the
provisions of the Constitution; (b) City mayors, vice-mayors, members of the sangguniang
panlungsod, city treasurers, assessors, engineers, and other
city department heads;
(4) Chairmen and members of Constitutional Commissions,
without prejudice to the provisions of the Constitution; and
(c) Officials of the diplomatic service occupying the position
of consul and higher;
(5) All other national and local officials classified as Grade 27
and higher under the Compensation and Position
Classification Act of 1989. (d) Philippine army and air force colonels, naval captains, and
all officers of higher rank;
b. Other offenses or felonies committed by the public officials
and employees mentioned in subsection (a) of this section in (e) Officers of the Philippine National Police while occupying
relation to their office. the position of provincial director and those holding the rank
of senior superintendent or higher;
c. Civil and criminal cases filed pursuant to and in connection
with Executive Order Nos. 1, 2, 14 and 14-A. (f) City and provincial prosecutors and their assistants, and
officials and prosecutors in the office of the Ombudsman and
special prosecutor;
In cases where none of the principal accused are occupying
positions corresponding to salary grade 27 or higher, as
prescribed in the said Republic Act No. 6758, or PNP officers (g) Presidents, directors or trustees, or managers of
occupying the rank of superintendent or higher, or their government-owned or controlled corporations, state
equivalent, exclusive jurisdiction thereof shall be vested in the universities or educational institutions or foundations.
proper Regional Trial Court, Metropolitan Trial Court,
Municipal Trial Court, and Municipal Circuit Trial Court, as
(2) Members of Congress and officials thereof classified as Mayor Binay, thus, presented a Certification[17] from the
Grade 27 and up under the Compensation and Position City Personnel Officer of Makati stating that petitioner as
Classification Act of 1989; mayor received a monthly salary of only P10,793.00 from
March 1987 to December 31, 1988. This amount was
(3) Members of the judiciary without prejudice to the supposedly equivalent to Grade 22 under R.A. No. 6758.
provisions of the Constitution; Mayor Magsaysay, for his part, submitted a similar
Certification[18] from the Municipal Treasurer of San Pascual,
(4) Chairmen and members of Constitutional Commissions, Batangas, stating:
without prejudice to the provisions of he Constitution; and
x x x that the basic monthly salary received by Mario C.
(5) All other national and local officials classified as Grade 27 Magsaysay, Municipal Mayor of San Pascual, Batangas with
and higher under the Compensation and Position Salary Grade 27 is ELEVEN THOUSAND EIGHT
Classification Act of 1989. HUNDRED TWENTY EIGHT PESOS (P11,828.00) per
month as of November 3, 1993 equivalent only to Grade 25,
b. Other offenses or felonies whether simple or complexed Step 5 of RA 6758, the Compensation and Position
with other crimes committed by the public officials and Classification Act of 1989.
employees mentioned in subsection (a) of this section in
relation to heir office. Section 444(1) (Grad[e] 27) of RA 6758 is not as yet
implemented due to budgetary constraints. This certification is
d. Civil and criminal cases filed pursuant to and in connection issued to Mayor Mario C. Magsaysay this 30th day of May
with Executive Order Nos. 1, 2, 14 and 14-A, issued in 1986. 1996 at San Pascual, Batangas for whatever legal purpose
and/or purposes it may serve.
In cases where none of the accused are occupying positions
corresponding to salary grade 27 or higher, as prescribed in The Court does not subscribe to the manner by which
the said Republic Act No. 6758, or military and PNP officers petitioners classify Grades.
mentioned above, exclusive original jurisdiction thereof shall
be vested in the proper regional trial court, metropolitan trial The Constitution[19] states that in providing for the
court, municipal trial court, and municipal circuit trial court, standardization of compensation of government officials and
as the case may be, pursuant to their respective jurisdictions as employees, Congress shall take into account the nature of the
provided in Batas Pambansa Blg. 129, as amended. responsibilities pertaining to, and the qualifications required for
their positions, thus:
Petitioners contend that they do not come under the
exclusive original jurisdiction of the Sandiganbayan because: The Congress shall provide for the standardization of
compensation of government officials, including those in
(1) At the alleged time of the commission of the crimes government-owned or controlled corporations with original
charged, petitioner municipal mayors were not classified as charters, taking into account the nature of the responsibilities
Grade 27. pertaining to, and the qualifications required for their
positions.
(2) Municipal mayors are not included in the enumeration
in Section 4a(1) of P.D. No. 1606, as amended by R.A. No.
7975. Corollary thereto, Republic Act No. 6758[20] provides in
Section 2 thereof that differences in pay are to be based upon
(3) Congressional records reveal that the law did not substantive differences in duties and responsibilities, and
intend municipal mayors to come under the exclusive original qualification requirements of the positions. In short, the nature
jurisdiction of the Sandiganbayan. of an officials position should be the determining factor in the
fixing of his or her salary. This is not only mandated by law but
dictated by logic as well.
A Consistent with these policies, the law employs the
scheme known as the grade defined in Presidential Decree No.
985[21] as including
In support of his contention that his position was not that
of Grade 27, Mayor Binay argues: xxx all classes of positions which, although different with
respect to kind or subject matter of work, are sufficiently
xxx. The new laws consistent and repeated reference to equivalent as to level of difficulty and responsibilities and
salary grade show[s] an intention to base the separation of level of qualification requirements of the work to warrant the
jurisdiction between the Sandiganbayan and the regular inclusion of such classes of positions within one range of basic
courts on pay scale.Grades are determined by compensation.[22]
compensation. The essence of grades is pay
scales. Therefor, pay scales determine grades.[16] The grade, therefore, depends upon the nature of ones
position -- the level of difficulty, responsibilities, and
qualification requirements thereof -- relative to that of another
position. It is the officials Grade that determines his or her and higher, otherwise classified as grade 27 and higher, of the
salary, not the other way around. compensation and Position Classification Act of 1989.
It is possible that a local government officials salary may The Court fails to see how a different interpretation could
be less than that prescribed for his Grade since his salary arise even if the plain meaning rule were disregarded and the
depends also on the class and financial capability of his or her law subjected to interpretation.
respective local government unit.[23] Nevertheless, it is the law
which fixes the officials grade. The premise of petitioners argument is that the
enumeration in Section 4a(1) is exclusive. It is not. The phrase
Thus, Section 8 of R.A. 6758 fixes the salary grades of the specifically including after [o]fficials of the executive branch
President, Vice-President, Senate President, Speaker, Chief occupying the positions of regional director and higher,
Justice, Senators, Members of the House of Representatives, otherwise classified as grade 27 and higher, of the
Associate Justices of the Supreme Court, as well as the Compensation and Position Classification Act of 1989
Chairmen and Members of the Constitutional necessarily conveys the very idea of non-exclusivity of the
Commissions. Section 8 also authorizes the Department of enumeration.The principle of expressio unius est exclusio
Budget and Management (DBM) to determine the officials who alterius does not apply where other circumstances indicate that
are of equivalent rank to the foregoing officials, where the enumeration was not intended to be exclusive,[27] or where
applicable and to assign such officials the same Salary Grades the enumeration is by way of example only.[28] In Conrado B.
subject to a set of guidelines found in said section. Rodrigo, et al. vs. The Honorable Sandiganbayan (First
Division), supra, the Court held that the catchall in Section
For positions below those mentioned under Section 8, 4a(5) was necessary for it would be impractical, if not
Section 9 instructs the DBM to prepare the Index of impossible, for Congress to list down each position created or
Occupational Services guided by the Benchmark Position will be created pertaining to grades 27 and above. The same
prescribed in Section 9 and the factors enumerated therein. rationale applies to the enumeration in Section 4a(1). Clearly,
To determine whether an official is within the exclusive the law did not intend said enumeration to be an exhaustive list.
original jurisdiction of the Sandiganbayan, therefore, reference Should there be any doubts as to whether petitioner
should be made to R.A. No. 6758 and the Index of Occupational mayors are under the category of Grade 27, Section 444(d) of
Services, Position Titles and Salary Grades. Salary level is not the Local Government Code settles the matter:
determinative. An officials grade is not a matter of proof, but a
matter of law of which the Court must take judicial notice.[24]
The municipal mayor shall receive a minimum monthly
As both the 1989 and 1997 versions of the Index of compensation corresponding to Salary Grade twenty-seven
Occupational Services, Position Titles and Salary Grades list (27) as prescribed under R.A. No. 6758 and the implementing
the municipal Mayor under Salary Grade 27, petitioner mayors guidelines issued pursuant thereto.
come within the exclusive original jurisdiction of the
Sandiganbayan. Petitioner mayors are local officials classified In the Courts Resolution in Rodrigo dated July 2, 1999
as Grade 27 and higher under the Compensation and Position denying the motion for reconsideration, we treated the above
Classification Act of 1989, under the catchall provision, Section provision as confirmatory of the Salary Grade assigned by the
4a(5) of P.D. No. 1606, as amended by R.A. No. 7975. More DBM to Municipal Mayors.
accurately, petitioner mayors are [o]fficials of the executive
branch occupying the positions of regional director and higher,
otherwise classified as grade 27 and higher, of the
Compensation and Position Classification Act of 1989, under C
Section 4a(1) of P.D. No. 1606, as amended by R.A. No.
7975.[25]
Petitioner Binay cites previous bills[29] in Congress
dealing with the jurisdiction of the Sandiganbayan. These bills
supposedly sought to exclude municipal officials from the
B Sandiganbayans exclusive original jurisdiction to relieve these
officials ,especially those from the provinces, of the financial
burden brought about by trials in Manila.
Petitioners, however, argue that they are not included in
the enumeration in Section 4a(1). They invoke the rule in The resort to congressional records to determine the
statutory construction expressio unius est expressio alterius. As proper application of the law in this case is unwarranted in this
what is not included in those enumerated is deemed excluded, case for the same reason that the resort to the rule of inclusio
municipal officials are excluded from the Sandiganbayans unius est expressio alterius is inappropriate.
exclusive original jurisdiction.
Verily, the interpretation of the law desired by the petitioner
Resort to statutory construction, however, is not may be more humane but it is also an elementary rule in
appropriate where the law is clear and unambiguous.[26] The law statutory construction that when the words and phrases of the
is clear in this case. As stated earlier, Section 4a(1) of P.D. No. statute are clear and unequivocal, their meaning must be
1606, as amended by R.A. No. 7975, speaks of [o]fficials of the determined from language employed and the statute must be
executive branch occupying the positions of regional director taken to mean exactly what it says. (Baranda v. Gustilo, 165
SCRA 758-759 [1988]). The courts may not speculate as to
the probable intent of the legislature apart from the words D
(Aparri v. CA, 127 SCRA 233 [1984]). When the law is clear,
it is not susceptible to interpretation. It must be applied
regardless of who may be affected, even if the law may be From the foregoing discussion, it is clear that the cases
harsh or onerous. (Nepomuceno, et al. v. FC, 110 Phil. against petitioner Binay cannot be referred to the regular courts
42). And even granting that exceptions may be conceded, the under Section 7 of R.A. No. 7975, which provides:
same as a general rule, should be strictly but reasonably
construed; they extend only so far as their language fairly Sec. 7. Upon effectivity of this Act, all criminal cases in which
warrants, and all doubts should be resolved in favor of the trial has not begun in the Sandiganbayan shall be referred to
general provisions rather than the exception. Thus, where a the proper courts.
general rule is established by statute, the court will not curtail
the former nor add to the latter by implication (Samson v. In construing the correct import of Section 7, it may be
CA., 145 SCRA 654 [1986]).[30] helpful to refer to the guidelines in determining jurisdiction laid
down in Bengzon vs. Inciong:[34]
Thus, in Rodrigo, petitioners therein argued in their
motion for reconsideration: The rule is that where a court has already obtained and is
exercising jurisdiction over a controversy, its jurisdiction to
x x x that the inclusion of Municipal Mayors within the proceed to the final determination of the cause is not affected
jurisdiction of the Sandiganbayan would be inconvenient since by new legislation placing jurisdiction over such proceedings
the witness in their case would come from Baguio City and in another tribunal. The exception to the rule is where the
San Nicolas, Pangasinan.This, according to petitioners, would statute expressly provides, or is construed to the effect that it
defeat one of the purposes of R.A. No. 7975, that is, the is intended to operate as to actions pending before its
convenience of the accused. enactment. Where a statute changing the jurisdiction of a court
has no retroactive effect, it cannot be applied to a case that
The Court, in denying the motion for reconsideration, was pending prior to the enactment of the statute.
held, among others, that:
R.A. No. 7975, by virtue of Section 7, belongs to the
The legislature has nevertheless chosen the mode and standard exception rather than the rule. The provision is transitory in
by which to implement its intent, and courts have no choice nature and expresses the legislatures intention to apply its
but to apply it. Congress has willed that positions with Grade provisions on jurisdiction to criminal cases in which trial has
27 and above shall come within the jurisdiction of the not begun in the Sandiganbayan. To this extent, R.A. 7975 is
Sandiganbayan and this Court is duty-bound to obey the retroactive.
congressional will.
Such a transitory provision is not peculiar to R.A. No.
7975; similar provisions are found in other laws reallocating the
Petitioner Binay also quotes the Sponsorship Speech of jurisdiction of the courts.[35] There is no reason why Section 7
Senator Roco, stating: of R.A. No. 7975 should be any different.

Since February 1979, when the Sandiganbayan was The term proper courts, as used in Section 7, means courts
established up to the present, the Court has been confronted of competent jurisdiction, and such jurisdiction is defined in
with the problem of those accused who are of limited means Section 4 of P.D. No. 1606, as amended by R.A. No. 7975. The
who stand trial for petty crimes, the so-called small fry -- the former should not be read in isolation but construed in
barangay officials, the municipal officials and conjunction with the latter.
employees, postal clerks and letter carriers and the like -- who The term proper courts as used in Section 7, therefore, is
are involved with nickel-and-dime cases and money-related not restricted to regular courts, but includes as well the
cases such as malversation, estafa and theft. xxx Sandiganbayan, a special court. If the intent of Congress were
to refer all cases the trials of which have not begun to the regular
xxx xxx xxx courts, it should have employed the term proper regular courts
or regular courts instead of proper courts. Accordingly, the law
Senate Bill No. 1353 modifies the present jurisdiction of the in the third paragraph of Section 4 P.D. No. 1606, as amended
Sandiganbayan such that only those occupying high by Section 2 of R.A. No. 7975, uses the term regular courts, not
positions in Government and the military fall under the proper courts:
jurisdiction of the court.[31]
The Sandiganbayan shall exercise exclusive appellate
It is not clear, however, whether Senator Roco meant jurisdiction on appeals from the final judgments, resolutions or
that all municipal officials are excluded from the jurisdiction of orders of regular courts where all the accused are occupying
the Sandiganbayan. In any case, courts are not bound by a positions lower than salary grade 27, or not otherwise covered
legislators opinion in congressional debates regarding the by the preceding enumeration. [Underscoring supplied.]
interpretation of a particular legislation. It is deemed a mere
personal opinion of the legislator.[32] Such opinions do not Construed thus, the effects of Section 7 may be
necessarily reflect the view of the entire Congress.[33] summarized as follows:
1. If trial of cases before the Sandiganbayan has already begun 1. If trial of the cases pending before whatever court has
as of the approval of R.A. No. 7975, R.A. No. 7975 does not already begun as of the approval of R.A. No. 8249, said law
apply. does not apply.

2. If trial of cases before the Sandiganbayan has not begun as 2. If trial of cases pending before whatever court
of the approval of R.A. No. 7975, then R.A. No. 7975 applies. has not begun as of the approval of R.A. No. 8249, then said
law applies.
(a) If by virtue of Section 4 of P.D. No. 1606, as amended by
Section 2 of R.A. No. 7975, the Sandiganbayan has (a) If the Sandiganbayan has jurisdiction over a case pending
jurisdiction over a case before it, then the case shall be before it, then it retains jurisdiction.
referred to the Sandiganbayan.
(b) If the Sandiganbayan has no jurisdiction over a case
(b) If by virtue of Section 4 of P.D. No. 1606, as amended by pending before it, the case shall be referred to the regular
Section 2 of R.A. No. 7975, the Sandiganbayan courts.
has no jurisdiction over a case before it, the case shall be
referred to the regular courts. (c) If the Sandiganbayan has jurisdiction over a case pending
before a regular court, the latter loses jurisdiction and the same
The trial of the cases involving Mayor Binay had not yet shall be referred to the Sandiganbayan.
begun as of the date of the approval of R.A. 7975; consequently,
the Anti-Graft Court retains jurisdiction over the said cases. (d) If a regular court has jurisdiction over a case pending
In any case, whatever seeming ambiguity or doubt before it, then said court retains jurisdiction.
regarding the application of Section 7 of R.A. No. 7975 should
be laid to rest by Section 7 of R.A. No. 8249, which states: Thus, under both R.A. Nos. 7975 and 8429, the
Sandiganbayan retains jurisdiction over said cases.
Sec. 7. Transitory Provision. - This Act shall apply to all cases II
pending in any court over which trial has not begun as of the
approval hereof. Petitioner Binay avers in his Addendum to Petition that
his right to speedy disposition has been violated by the
The latter provision more accurately expresses the legislatures inordinate delay in the resolution of the subject cases by the
intent and in any event should be applied in this case, R.A. No. Ombudsman.
8249 having superseded R.A. No. 7975. Article III of the Constitution provides that:
In Panfilo M. Lacson vs. The Executive Secretary, et
al.,[36] The Court explained the purpose of the foregoing Sec. 16. All persons shall have the right to a speedy
provision. disposition of their cases before all judicial, quasi-judicial, or
administrative bodies.
x x x it can be reasonably anticipated that an alteration of
[Sandiganbayans] jurisdiction would necessarily affect The constitutional right to a speedy disposition of cases is
pending cases, which is why it has to provide for a remedy in not limited to the accused in criminal proceedings but extends
the form of a transitory provision. x x x. The transitory to all parties in all cases, including civil and administrative
provision does not only cover cases which are in the cases, and in all proceedings, including judicial and quasi-
Sandiganbayan but also in any court. x x x. Moreover, those judicial hearings.[37] Hence, under the Constitution, any party to
cases where trial had already begun are not affected by the a case may demand expeditious action on all officials who are
transitory provision under Section 7 of the new law (RA tasked with the administration of justice.[38]
8249). [Emphasis in the original.]
However, the right to a speedy disposition of a case, like
the right to speedy trial,[39] is deemed violated only when the
The possible disruptive effect of the amendments to the proceedings is attended by vexatious, capricious, and
Sandiganbayans jurisdiction on pending cases was, therefore, oppressive delays; or when unjustified postponements of the
not lost on the legislature. Congress has, furthermore, deemed trial are asked for and secured, or when without cause or
the commencement of the trial as the crucial point in justifiable motive a long period of time is allowed to elapse
determining whether a court retains a case pending before it or without the party having his case tried.[40] Equally applicable is
lose the same on the ground of lack of jurisdiction per the the balancing test used to determine whether a defendant has
provisions of R.A. 8249. The law obviously does not want to been denied his right to a speedy trial, or a speedy disposition
waste the time and effort already devoted to the presentation of of a case for that matter, in which the conduct of both the
evidence if trial had already begun. On the other hand, not much prosecution and the defendant is weighed, and such factors as
disruption would be caused if the amendment were made to the length of the delay, the reasons for such delay, the assertion
apply to cases the trials of which have not yet to start. or failure to assert such right by the accused, and the prejudice
The ramifications of Section 7 of R.A. No. 8249 may be caused by the delay.[41] The concept of speedy disposition is a
stated as follows: relative term and must necessarily be a flexible concept.[42]
A mere mathematical reckoning of the time involved, Tanodbayan a copy of this report on
therefore, would not be sufficient.[43] In the application of the August 1, 1988 upon request of the latter.
constitutional guarantee of the right to speedy disposition of
cases, particular regard must also be taken of the facts and 1.2. In the letter of the COA transmitting a
circumstances peculiar to each case.[44] copy of the report, the Tanodbayan was
informed that this COA audit report of
In Tatad vs.Sandiganbayan,[45] the Court held that the January 11, 1988 is not yet released since
length of delay and the simplicity of the issues did not justify the Mayor of Makati was given thirty days
the delay in the disposition of the cases therein. The within which to explain/clarify the
unexplained inaction[46] of the prosecutors called for the findings in the report and is subject to
dismissal of the cases against petitioner Tatad. change or modification depending upon
the explanation/clarification to be
In Alvizo vs. Sandiganbayan,[47] the Court also ruled that submitted by the Mayor of
there was no violation of the right to speedy disposition. The Makati. Because of this information from
Court took into account the reasons for the delay, i.e., the the COA the preliminary investigation
frequent amendments of procedural laws by presidential was held in abeyance until the submission
decrees, the structural reorganizations in existing prosecutorial of the final report.
agencies and the creation of new ones by executive fiat,
resulting in changes of personnel, preliminary jurisdiction, and 1.3. On March 1, 1989, the first part of the
the functions and powers of prosecuting agencies. The Court Final Report on Audit of Makati was
likewise considered the failure of the accused to assert such received by the Office of the Ombudsman
right, and the lack of prejudice caused by the delay to the and was transmitted for purposes of the
accused. ensuring preliminary investigation to the
Tanodbayan which received the same on
In Santiago vs. Garchitorena,[48] the complexity of the March 22, 1989.
issues and the failure of the accused to invoke her right to
speedy disposition at the appropriate time spelled defeat to her 1.4. This first part of the Final Report
claim to the constitutional guarantee. contained the fifteen (15) adverse
findings, above elsewhere stated as the
In Cadalin vs. POEAs Administrator,[49] the Court, basis of Bobby Brillantes complaint.
considering also the complexity of the cases (not run-of-the-
mill variety) and the conduct of the parties lawyers, held that 1.5. Eleven (11) COA auditors participated
the right to speedy disposition was not violated therein. in the documentation and analysis of its
findings and preparation of the final
In petitioner Binays case, the Court finds that there was no report.
undue delay in the disposition of the subject cases. The
proceedings conducted before the Office of the Tanodbayan, 1.6. The first part of the final report was
and later with the Office of the Ombudsman, adequately followed by a Supplemental Report on
explains the length of the delay: Findings No. 1 and 3. This Supplemental
Report is dated July 3, 1989.
1. That on July 27, 1988 Bobby Brillante filed with
the Office of the Tanodbayan an affidavit- 2. After securing machine copies of the voluminous
complaint charging, Jejomar Binay, Sergio documents supporting the COA findings, Pros.
Santos, Roberto Chang, Delfin Almeda, Nelson Margarito Gervacio, Chairman of the Panel of
Irasga, Nicasio Santiago, Feliciano Basam, Prosecutors, issued the corresponding subpoena
Maria Chan, Romeo Barrios, Azucena Diaz, directing the respondents to submit their
Virgilio Clarete, Godofredo Marcelo, Armando respective counter-affidavits.
San Miguel, Salvador Pangilinan and John Does
of the following offenses: (a) Massive 2.1. In compliance with the subpoena,
Malversation of Public Funds; (b) Multiple Mayor Jejomar Binay submitted his
Falsification of Public Documents; (c) counter-affidavit on May 18, 1990,
Usurpation of Official Functions; (d) Violation Marissa Chan, Feliciano Bascon, Nicanor
of Election Law; and (e) Violation of Sec. 3(e) of Santiago, Jr. on June 19, 1990, Renato
R.A. 3019. Manrique on June 4, 1990, Alfredo
Ignacio on June 6, 1990, Roberto Chang
1.1. Brillantes complaint was based on the on August 27, 1990. Feliciano Bascon
initial findings and observations of the submitted his Supplemental Affidavit on
COA on the examination of the cash and November 22, 1990.
accounts covering transactions from April
1, 1987 to January 4, 1988 and Post-Audit 2.2. Thereafter, clarificatory examinations
of Selected Accounts for the last quarter were conducted on September 27, 1990,
of 1987 of the Municipality of Makati October 26, 1990, November 8, 9, 14, 22,
contained in its Report dated January 11, 1990.
1988. The COA furnished the
3. On January 15, 1991 Mayor Jejomar Binay 5. In the TATAD case, the preliminary investigation
submitted a copy of this Petition for Certiorari in was resolved close to three (3) years from the
G.R. No. 92380 which he and the municipality of time all the counter-affidavits were submitted to
Makati filed with the Supreme Court against the Tanodbayan, notwithstanding the fact that
COA Chairman, Eufemio Domingo and the very few documentary and testimonial evidence
Commission on Audit, with a manifestation that were involved. In the above-entitled cases, the
said petition is submitted to support Binays stand preliminary investigation of all ten (10) cases
as regard COA Finding No. 9 aforestated. was terminated in merely two (2) years and four
(4) months from the date Mayor Binay filed his
4. On April 2, 1992 respondent Marissa Chan filed last pleading, on April 30, 1992.[51]
an affidavit containing allegations incriminating
Jejomar Binay; Petitioner claims that the Resolution of the Sandiganbayan
ordering his suspension pendente lite is unwarranted since the
5. Upon being ordered to comment on the said April informations charging him were not valid. This contention,
2, 1992 affidavit of Marissa Chan, Jejomar Binay however, must fail in view of our pronouncement that there was
submitted his comment thereto on April 30, no delay in the resolution of the subject cases in violation of his
1992. right to speedy disposition. Accordingly, the informations in
6. On August 4, 1993, the Investigation Panel question are valid an petitioners suspension pendente lite must
submitted to the Deputy Special Prosecutor its be upheld.
Resolution disposing the preliminary Finally, whether or not there is probable cause to warrant
investigation of the case. the filing of the subject cases is a question best left to the
6.1. On August 10, 1993 the said Resolution discretion of the Ombudsman. Absent any grave abuse of such
was approved by the Special Prosecutor, discretion, the Court will not interfere in the exercise
who forwarded the same and the entire thereof.[52] Petitioner in this case has failed to establish any such
records to the Office of the Ombudsman abuse on the part of the Ombudsman.
for review and/or final action. III
6.2. On August 16, 1994, the Review Panel Having ruled that the criminal case against petitioners in
of the Ombudsman submitted to the latter G.R. No. 128136 is within the exclusive original jurisdiction of
its review action for approval. the Sandiganbayan, the Court will now dispose of the following
6.3. On August 19, 1994, the Ombudsman issues raised by them:
approved some of the recommendations (1) The Sandiganbayan was ousted of its jurisdiction by
of the Review Panel and directed the the filing of an information alleging the same facts with the
preparation and filing of the Regional Trial Court.
informations.[50]
(2) Respondents are estopped from filing an information
Furthermore, the prosecution is not bound by the findings before the Sandiganbayan considering that they had already
of the Commission on Audit (COA); it must rely on its own filed another information alleging the same facts before the
independent judgment in the determination of probable Regional Trial Court.
cause. Accordingly, the prosecution had to conduct it s own
review of the COA findings. Judging from said findings, we (3) The filing of the information before the
find that the cases were sufficiently complex, thus justifying the Sandiganbayan constitutes double jeopardy.
length of time for their resolution. As held by the
Sandiganbayan in its Resolution dated March 29, 1995 denying The Court tackles these arguments successively then deals
the Motion to Quash: with the questions of duplicity of information and forum
shopping.
2. Ten charges are involved in these cases and the
prosecution, unable to rely on the raw findings of Petitioners invoke the rule that the jurisdiction of a court
the Commission on Audit in 15 reports caused once it attaches cannot be ousted by subsequent happenings or
the investigation and examination of thousands events, although of such character which would have prevented
of vouchers, payrolls, and supporting documents jurisdiction from attaching in the first instance.[53] They claim
considering that no less than the Chairman of the that the filing of the information in the Sandiganbayan was a
Commission on Audit, assisted by a team subsequent happening or event which cannot oust the RTC of
supervisor and 10 team members had to take part its jurisdiction.
in the conduct of a final audit consisting of This rule has no application here for the simple reason that
evaluation and analysis of the initial findings in the RTC had no jurisdiction over the case. Jurisdiction never
the 15 raw reports, the cases must have involved attached to the RTC. When the information was filed before the
complicated legal and factual issues which do RTC, R.A. No. 7975 was already in effect and, under said law,
warrant or justify a longer period of time for jurisdiction over the case pertained to the Sandiganbayan.
preliminary investigation.
Neither can estoppel be successfully invoked. First,
xxx jurisdiction is determined by law, not by the consent or
agreement of the parties or by estoppel.[54] As a consequence of informations is patently unmeritorious. That rule presupposes
this principle, the Court held inZamora vs. Court of that there is one complaint or information charging not one
Appeals[55] that: offense, but two or more offenses. Thus, Rule 110 of the Rules
of Court states:
It follows that as a rule the filing of a complaint with one court
which has no jurisdiction over it does not prevent the plaintiff Sec. 13. Duplicity of offense. - A complaint or information
from filing the same complaint later with the competent must charge but one offense, except only in those cases in
court. The plaintiff is not estopped from doing so simply which existing laws prescribed a single punishment for
because it made a mistake before in the choice of the proper various offenses.
forum. In such a situation, the only authority the first court can
exercise is to dismiss the case for lack of jurisdiction. This has Non-compliance with this rule is a ground for quashing the
to be so as a contrary conclusion would allow a party to divest duplicitous complaint or information under Rule 117:
the competent court of its jurisdiction, whether erroneously or
even deliberately, in derogation of the law.
Sec. 3. Grounds. - The accused may move to quash the
complaint or information on any of the following grounds:
It is true that the Court has ruled in certain cases[56] that
estoppel prevents a party from questioning the jurisdiction of
xxx
the court that the party himself invoked. Estoppel, however,
remains the exception rather than the rule, the rule being that
jurisdiction is vested by law.[57] Even in those instances where (e) That more than one offense is charged except in those
the Court applied estoppel, the party estopped consistently cases in which existing laws prescribe a single punishment for
invoked the jurisdiction of the court and actively participated in various offenses;
the proceedings, impugning such jurisdiction only when faced
with an adverse decision. This is not the case here. After xxx
discovering that a similar information had earlier been filed in
Here, petitioners are faced not with one
the RTC, respondents promptly asked the trial court to refer the
information charging more than one offense but with more than
case to the Sandiganbayan, which motion was followed by a
one information charging one offense.
motion to resolve the previous motion. There was no consistent
invocation of the RTCs jurisdiction. There were no further The Court does not find the prosecution guilty of forum-
proceedings after the filing of the information save for the shopping. Broadly speaking, forum shopping exists when, as a
motion to refer the case precisely on the ground of lack of result of an adverse opinion in one forum, a party seeks a
jurisdiction, and the motion to resolve the earlier favorable opinion (other than by appeal or certiorari) in
motion. Finally, the trial court had not rendered any decision, another, or when he institutes two or more actions or
much less one adverse to petitioners. proceedings grounded on the same cause, on the gamble that
one or the other court would make a favorable
Second, petitioners cannot hold respondents in estoppel
disposition.[65]We discern no intent on the part of the State, in
for the latter are not themselves party to the criminal action. In
filing two informations in two different courts, to gamble that
a criminal action, the State is the plaintiff, for the commission
one or the other court would make a favorable disposition.
of a crime is an offense against the State. Thus, the complaint
or information filed in court is required to be brought in the Obviously, respondents got their signals crossed. One set
name of the People of the Philippines.[58] Even then, the of officials, after investigating a complaint filed by the Vice-
doctrine of estoppel does not apply as against the people in Mayor of San Pascual, Batangas charging petitioners of
criminal prosecutions.[59] Violations of the Anti-Graft and overpricing, filed the information for violation of Section 3(e)
Corrupt Practices Act, like attempted murder,[60] is a public of R.A. No. 3019 in the RTC. Another set of officials
offense. Social and public interest demand the punishment of investigated another complaint from the Concerned Citizens
the offender; hence, criminal actions for public offenses can not Group accusing petitioners of, among others, overpricing the
be waived or condoned, much less barred by the rules of same project subject of the previous complaint. Finding
estoppel.[61] probable cause, the second set of officials instituted the criminal
action, charging the same offense and alleging essentially the
The filing of the information in the Sandiganbayan did not
same facts as the first, this time in the Sandiganbayan. Later
put petitioners in double jeopardy even though they had already
learning of the procedural faux pas, respondents without undue
pleaded not guilty to the information earlier filed in the
delay asked the RTC to refer the case to the Sandiganbayan.
RTC. The first jeopardy never attached in the first place, the
RTC not being a court of competent jurisdiction. There can be WHEREFORE, the consolidated petitions are
no double jeopardy where the accused entered a plea in a court hereby DISMISSED.
that had no jurisdiction.[62] The remedy of petitioners, therefore,
was not to move for the quashal of the information pending in
the Sandiganbayan on the ground of double jeopardy.[63] Their
remedy was to move for the quashal of the information pending
in the RTC on the ground of lack of jurisdiction.[64]
The contention that the filing of the information in the
Sandiganbayan violated the rule against duplicitous
On August 9, 1974 Aclaracion filed in this Court a petition
for habeas corpus. He advanced the novel contention that to
compel him to transcribe his stenographic notes, after he
ceased to be a stenographer, would be a transgression of the
rule that "no involuntary servitude in any form shall exist
except as a punishment for a crime whereof the party shall
EN BANC have been duly convicted" (Sec. 14, Art. IV, Bill of Rights,
1972 Constitution). He was averse to being subjected "to
involuntary servitude sans compensation". He desired to be
released from the obligation of transcribing his notes. (He
G.R. No. L-39115 May 26, 1975 filed his petition in forma pauperis).

In the Matter of the Petition for Habeas Corpus. The petition was heard on August 20, 1974. It was already
SEGIFREDO L. ACLARACION, petitioner, moot because, as already noted, the Third Division of the
vs. Court of Appeals had ordered his release on August 7th.
HON. MAGNO S. GATMAITAN, HON. HOSE N. Another hearing was held on September 3, 1974 in connection
LEUTERIO, COLONEL RUPERTO B. ACLE, Chief of with the detention of Aclaracion at the instance of Justice
Police, and Lieutenant FRANCISCO CRUZ, Warden, Leuterio. At that hearing, this Court resolved to order
Makati, Rizal, respondents. Aclaracion's provisional release on condition that within
twenty days thereafter he would complete the transcription of
his notes in the Paderes case in his office at the Insurance
Commission, Manila.
AQUINO, J.:+.wph!1
So, he was provisionally released without prejudice to the
final ruling on his contention that he could not be compelled to
Segifredo L. Aclaracion functioned as a temporary
transcribe his notes in the other cases because he was no
stenographer in the Gapan branch of the Court of First
longer connected with the judiciary and because his stenotype
Instance of Nueva Ecija from October 1, 1969 to November
machine notes were standard notes which could be transcribed
21, 1971. His appointment expired on November 21, 1972
by stenographers trained in stenotype machine shorthand.
while he was working as a temporary stenographer in the
Court of First Instance of Manila. Thereafter, he was
employed as a stenographer in the Public Assistance and On September 4, 1974 Aclaracion was released from the
Claims Adjudication Division of the Insurance Commission, Makati jail. Upon representations made by the Clerk of Court
where he is now working. of this Court with the Insurance Commissioner, the latter
interposed no objection to Aclaracion's transcription of his
stenographic notes either in this Court or in his office in the
After Aclaracion had ceased to be a court stenographer, the
Insurance Commission.
Court of Appeals required him to transcribe his stenographic
notes in two cases decided by the Gapan court which had been
appealed: Muncal vs. Eugenio, CA-G. R. No. 49711-R On November 19, 1974 Aclaracion manifested that he had
and Paderes vs. Domingo, CA-G. R. No. 52367-R. He failed transcribed his notes in the Paderes case in his office at the
to comply with the resolutions of the Court of Appeals. He Insurance Commission after he was provided by the Clerk of
was declared in contempt of court. Court of this Court with the requisite supplies.

On May 29 and July 29, 1974 Justice Magno S. Gatmaitan and We have given Aclaracion's petition the attention and study
Justice Jose N. Leuterio, Chairmen of the Third and Seventh which it deserves. The habeas corpus aspect of his petition has
Divisions of the Court of Appeals, respectively, ordered the become moot in view of his release from jail during the
Chief of Police of Makati, Rizal, to arrest Aclaracion, a pendency of his case. After much reflection, we have come to
resident of that municipality, and to confine him in jail until he the conclusion that his request that he be relieved from
submits a complete transcript of his notes in the said cases. transcribing his notes in the other cases cannot be granted.

Aclaracion was arrested on June 21, 1974 and incarcerated in We hold that an Appellate Court may compel a former court
the municipal jail. In a petition dated July 12, 1974 he asked stenographer to transcribe his stenographic notes. That
the Court of Appeals that he be not required to transcribe his prerogative is ancillary or incidental to its appellate
notes in all the cases tried in the Gapan court. He suggested jurisdiction and is a part of its inherent powers which are
that the testimonies in the said cases be retaken. necessary to the ordinary and efficient exercise of its
jurisdiction and essential to the due administration of justice
(See State vs. Superior Court of Maricopa County, 5 Pac. 2d
The Third Division of the Court of Appeals in its resolution of
192, 39 Ariz. 242, Note 74, 21 C. J. S. 41; 20 Am. Jur. 2d 440;
August 7, 1974 ordered the release of Aclaracion. Later, he
Fuller vs. State, 57 So. 806, 100 Miss. 811).
transcribed his notes in the Muncal case. However, the warden
did not release him because of the order of arrest issued by the
Seventh Division. The provision of section 12, Rule 41 of the Rules of Court that
"upon the approval of the record on appeal the clerk shall
direct the stenographer or stenographers concerned to attach to However, in view of the fact that Aclaracion might have acted
the record of the case five (5) copies of the transcript of the in good faith in not complying with the resolution of the Court
oral evidence referred to in the record on appeal" includes of appeals in the Paterno case, due to the pendency of the
stenographers who are no longer in the judiciary. (See sec. 7, instant habeas corpus case (a fact which is inferable from his
Rule 122 and sec. 7, R. A. No. 3749). letter to this Court dated March 11, 1975), the fine of one
hundred fifty pesos imposed on him is hereby remitted.
The traditional mode of exercising the court's coercive power
is to hold the recalcitrant or negligent stenographer in WHEREFORE, the petition for habeas corpus is dismissed.
contempt of court if he does not comply with the order for the No Costs.
transcription of his notes and imprison him until he obeys the
order (Sec. 7, Rule 71, Rules of Court). SO ORDERED.

Another sanction to compel the transcription is to hold in


abeyance the transfer, promotion, resignation or clearance of a
stenographer until he completes the transcription of his notes.
This is provided for in Circular No. 63 of the Secretary of
Justice.

In the instant case, Aclaracion transcribed his notes in


the Muncal and Paderes cases while he was an employee of
the Insurance Commission. During the time that he made the
transcription, he received his salary as such employee.

We hold that he could be required to transcribe his notes in


other cases, particularly in the case of Heirs of the Late Pacita
Sicioco Cruz, etc. vs. La Mallorca Pambusco, et al, CA-G. R.
No. 49687-R. The Court of Appeals, in its resolution of
November 24, 1972, required him to transcribe his notes in
that case.

The same Court in its resolution of February 20, 1975


in Paterno vs. Tumibay, CA-G. R. No. 51330-R imposed on
Aclaracion a fine of one hundred fifty pesos for his failure to
transcribe his notes in the said case and warned him that he
would be arrested if he failed to submit his transcript within
ten days from notice.

The same arrangement should be made by the Clerk of Court


of this Court with the Insurance Commissioner that Aclaracion
should be allowed to receive his salary while making the
transcription.

Aclaracion's contention that to compel him to transcribe his


stenographic notes would constitute involuntary servitude is
not tenable. Involuntary servitude denotes a condition of
enforced, compulsory service of one to another (Hodges vs.
U.S., 203 U.S. 1; Rubi vs. Provincial Board of Mindoro, 39
Phil. 660, 708) or the condition of one who is compelled by
force, coercion, or imprisonment, and against his will, to labor
for another, whether he is paid or not (Black's Law Dictionary,
4th Ed., p. 961). That situation does not obtain in this case.

Also untenable is Aclaracion's argument that the


imprisonment of a stenographer who had defied the court's
resolution for the transcription of the notes constitutes illegal
detention. The incarceration of the contemning stenographer is
lawful because it is the direct consequence of his disobedience
of a court order. *