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MANUEL C. ROXAS and AHMED S. NACPIL, petitioners, vs. HON.

CONRADO M. VASQUEZ, Ombudsman and JOSE DE FERRER,


Deputy Special Prosecutor, and the HONORABLE
SANDIGANBAYAN, respondents.

DECISION
YNARES-SANTIAGO, J.:

The instant petition for certiorari and prohibition seeks to set aside the Orders of
the Ombudsman dated October 19, 1993[1] and February 10, 1994,[2] insofar as they
found probable cause to charge petitioners Police General Manuel C. Roxas and
Police Colonel Ahmed S. Nacpil for violation of Section 3 (e) of the Anti-Graft and
Corrupt Practices Act; and to prohibit respondents from trying petitioners in Criminal
Case No. 18956 before the Sandiganbayan.
Petitioners Roxas and Nacpil were Chairman and Member, respectively, of the
Bids and Awards Committee of the PC-INP. The other Members of the Committee
were:

F/Brig. Gen. Mario C. Tanchanco

F/Brig. Gen. Diosdado B. Codoy

P/Lt. Col. Juhan A. Kairan

P/Lt. Col. Concordio Apolonio

P/Maj. Reynold E. Osia

Sometime in September 1990, the PC-INP invited bids for the supply purchase of
sixty five (65) units of fire trucks. Accordingly, the public bidding was held on
September 14, 1990, where the following suppliers submitted their respective bids, to
wit:

Supplier Bid Price

1. Aeolus Phil. P 1,218,240.00

2. V.G. Roxas Enterprises 1,720,764.00

3 CISC 1,943,549.64
4. Tahei Co., Ltd. 2,292,784.00

5. Viceroy Const. Comml Corp. 2,385,775.00

6. Sumitomo Corp. 2,521,730.00

7. Worldtrade Inter NW 2,700,000.00

8. Accumetrix 2,844,844.20

9. Comml Mfr. Corp. 2,985,000.00

10. Asianet Tech 3,012,606.00

11. Philipps Associate 3,016,348.30[3]

The lowest bidder, Aeolus Philippines, was disqualified since its fire trucks had a
water tank capacity of only 1,800 liters, far below the required 3,785 liter capacity.
After the opening of the bids, Director General Cesar Nazareno created a
Technical Evaluation Committee composed of four members, headed by Gen. Mario
C. Tanchanco, to conduct ocular inspections of the overseas plant facilities and
equipment of the five qualified lowest bidders. On December 4, 1990, the Technical
Committee submitted its report to General Nazareno, rating the quality of the
inspected fire trucks based on the ranking of their respective companies from the
lowest to the highest bidder as follows:

1. Toyota Morita

2. Ssangyong

3. Nikki-Hino

4. Morita-Isuzu

On December 18, 1990, the Bids and Awards Committee came up with its own
listing of lowest bidders whose offered fire trucks met with the agencys minimum
requirements, as follows:

1. V.G. Roxas Enterprises (Kanglim)

2. CISC (Ssangyong)
3. Taihei Corp. (Nikki/Hino)

4. Sumitomo Corp. (Isuzu Morita)

On December 20, 1990, Gen. Tanchanco submitted his Inspection Findings [4] to
Gen. Nazareno, recommending only two fire trucks, namely Morita Isuzu and Nikki-
Hino.
On the other hand, on December 28, 1990, the Bids and Awards Committee voted
to award the contract in favor of the Korean company CISC, which offered Ssangyong
fire trucks.[5] On January 2, 1991, it submitted its recommendation to Gen. Nazareno
for the procurement of Ssangyong fire trucks.[6]
Gen. Nazareno, however, as approving authority, refused to act on the
recommendation and, instead, created a Review Committee with Gen. Flores as
Chairman. Gen. Tanchanco also submitted his Inspection Findings to this Review
Committee, reiterating his recommendation of the Morita Isuzu and Nikki-Hino fire
trucks.
On March 21, 1991, Gen. Flores submitted his Memorandum to Gen. Nazareno,
stating that the action of the Bids and Awards Committee resulted in a failure to
bid.[7] Accordingly, Gen. Nazareno ordered the Bids and Awards Committee to review
its recommendations and consider the findings of the Review Committee.
In compliance with the directive, the Bids and Awards Committee limited its
choice to the two brands recommended by Gen. Tanchanco and, by majority vote,
elected Nikki-Hino of the Tahei Co., Ltd. as the lower bidder. Thus, the Bids and
Awards Committed submitted its Memorandum to Gen. Nazareno dated May 9, 1991,
embodying the aforesaid recommendation.[8]
Thereafter, the Contract of Purchase and Sale of sixty-five units of Nikki-Hino
fire trucks was executed between Gen. Nazareno, on behalf of the PC-INP, and Tahei
Company, Ltd. The corresponding Purchase Order was then prepared with the
following signatories:

1. Col. Nicasio Custodio, Chief, PNP Logistics Support Command

2. Major Obedio Espea, Acting Chief, PNP Procurement Center

3. General Cesar Nazareno, Director General, PNP

4. Luis Santos, Secretary, DILG

Pursuant to a disbursement voucher signed by Custodio, Espea and Gen.


Nazareno, together with the PNP Chief Accountant, Generosa Ramirez, the PNP paid
Tahei Co., Ltd. the amount of P167,335,177.24, representing marginal deposit for the
sixty-five units of fire truck. The Disbursement Voucher showed that, while the bid
price of Tahei Co., Ltd. was only P2,292,784.00 per unit, the price appearing on the
Purchase Order was P2,585,562.00 per unit. Hence, there was a discrepancy of
P292,778.00 per unit of fire truck, or a total of P19,030,570.00 for all the sixty-five
fire trucks.
The Commission on Audit discovered the irregularities in the bidding, awarding
and purchase of the sixty five fire trucks, thus prompting then DILG Secretary Rafael
Alunan III to file a complaint on February 12, 1993 for violation of Section 3 (e) of
Republic Act No. 3019 before the Ombudsman, against the following:

1. Dir. Gen. Cesar Nazareno, PNP

2. Dep. Dir. Manuel Roxas, PNP

3. Fire Marshal Mario Tanchanco

4. Fire B/Gen. Diosdado Godoy (Ret.)

5. P/Sr. Supt. Ahmed Nacpil, PNP

6. P/Supt. Juhan Kairan, PNP

7. CInsp. Reynaldo Osea, PNP

8. Dep. Dir. Gen. Gerardo Flores, PNP

9. Dir. Nicasio Custodio, PNP

10. Supt. Obedio Espea, PNP

11. Former DILG Secretary Luis Santos

12. Ms. Generosa Ramirez

The Deputy Ombudsman for the Military conducted a preliminary investigation


where respondents submitted their respective counter-affidavits. On March 19, 1993,
it recommended the indictment of all respondents, except Generosa Ramirez.[9]
On review, the Office of the Special Prosecutor Review Committee recommended
the dismissal of the complaints against Manuel Roxas, Ahmed Nacpil, Diosdado
Codoy, Juhan Kairan and Generosa Ramirez.[10] This latter recommendation was
approved by the Special Prosecutor and the Ombudsman in a Memorandum dated
April 15, 1993.
Accordingly, the appropriate Information was filed by the Ombudsman before the
Sandiganbayan, where it was docketed as Criminal Case No. 18956, against Cesar
Nazareno, Gerardo Flores, Mario Tanchanco, Nicasio Custodio, Reynold Osia,
Obedeo Espena and Luis Santos.[11] Roxas, Nacpil, Codoy, Kairan and Ramirez were
not included among the accused.
However, upon motion of Generals Flores and Tanchanco, a reinvestigation was
conducted by the Office of the Special Prosecutor. On October 19, 1993, without any
notice to or participation of petitioners, the Office of the Special Prosecutor issued the
first assailed Order, dismissing the charges against Flores and Tanchanco, and
recommending that Gen. Manuel Roxas, P/Lt. Col. Ahmed Nacpil, P/Lt. Col. Julian
Kairan be likewise indicted. Deputy Special Prosecutor Jose de Ferrer voted for the
approval of the recommendation, while Special Prosecutor Aniano A. Desierto
dissented. Ombudsman Conrado M. Vasquez approved the recommendation.
Petitioners Roxas and Nacpil, together with Kairan, filed a Motion for
Reconsideration. The Review Committee of the Office of the Special Prosecutor
recommended that the Motion be granted and the charge against the movants be
dismissed. However, Deputy Special Prosecutor de Ferrer and Ombudsman Vasquez
disapproved the recommendation in the second assailed Order dated February 10,
1994.
Thus, on March 27, 1994, the Office of the Ombudsman filed an Amended
Information with respondent Sandiganbayan,[12] impleading petitioners as additional
accused.
Hence, the instant petition anchored upon the following grounds:

RESPONDENTS OMBUDSMAN VASQUEZ AND DSP DE FERRER ACTED


WITHOUT OR IN EXCESS OF JURISDICTION OR WITH GRAVE ABUSE
OF DISCRETION AMOUNTING TO LACK OR EXCESS OF JURISDICTION
IN HOLDING, ON REINVESTIGATION, PETITIONERS LIABLE FOR
ALLEGED CRIMINAL VIOLATION OF SECTION 3 (E) OF THE ANTI-
GRAFT & CORRUPT PRACTICES ACT CONSIDERING THAT:

A. THE ORDERS, ANNEXES A AND A-1 FATALLY SUFFER FROM PROCEDURAL


INFIRMITIES IN THAT:
1. THE ORDER DATED 15 APRIL 1993 DISMISSING THE CHARGE AGAINST
PETITIONERS HAD LONG BECOME FINAL. HENCE, IT COULD NO LONGER BE
RE-OPENED ON REINVESTIGATION SOUGHT BY GENERALS FLORES,
TANCHANCO AND THE OTHER ACCUSED.
2. RESPONDENT OMBUDSMAN VASQUEZ AND THE OSP HAD LOST JURISDICTION
OVER PETITIONERS UPON ITS DISMISSAL ORDER DROPPING THE CHARGES
AGAINST THEM FOR INSUFFICIENCY OF EVIDENCE.
3. ON REINVESTIGATION, NO NEW MATTER OR EVIDENCE WAS PRESENTED BY
GENERALS FLORES, TANCHANCO AND THE OTHER ACCUSED TO WARRANT
RESPONDENT OMBUDSMANS REVERSAL OF ITS EARLIER ORDER DISMISSING
THE CHARGE AGAINST PETITIONERS.
4. PETITIONERS INDICTMENT, ON REINVESTIGATION, WAS WITHOUT NOTICE
NOR PARTICIPATION OF PETITIONERS, HENCE, NULL AND VOID FOR BEING
VIOLATIVE OF THEIR CONSTITUTIONAL RIGHT TO DUE PROCESS.
B. IN ANY EVENT, THERE EXISTS NO PROBABLE CAUSE AGAINST PETITIONERS
FOR VIOLATION OF SECTION 3 (E) OF THE ANTI-GRAFT & CORRUPT
PRACTICES ACT.[13]

Petitioners invoke Rule II, Section 7 of the Rules of Procedure of the Office of the
Ombudsman, which provides that Motions for Reconsideration or Reinvestigation
against approved Orders or Resolutions must be filed within fifteen (15) days from
notice of the same.[14] They argue that no such Motion for Reconsideration or
Reinvestigation was filed by any of the complainants, namely, the DILG, the
Commission on Audit or the PNP, of the April 15, 1993 Memorandum which
dismissed the charges against them for insufficient evidence. Indeed, no such Motion
for Reconsideration or Reinvestigation had ever been filed to date.
Petitioners further allege that while some of the accused in Criminal Case No.
18956 filed Motions for Reinvestigation, none of the said Motions questioned the
dismissal of the charges against them.Hence, petitioners argue that the dismissal had
become final and could no longer be opened during reinvestigation.
In criminal prosecutions, a reinvestigation, like an appeal, renders the entire case
open for review. It matters not that the complainants did not seek a reinvestigation or
reconsideration of the dismissal of the charges against petitioners. Consistent with its
independence as protector of the people[15] and as prosecutor to ensure accountability
of public officers, the Ombudsman is not and should not be limited in its review by
the action or inaction of complainants. On the other hand, it is clear from Section 15
of R.A. 6770 that the Ombudsman may motu proprio conduct a reinvestigation to
assure that the guilty do not go unpunished.
Likewise, petitioners insistence that the Ombudsman and the Sandiganbayan had
lost jurisdiction over them after the initial dismissal of the charges against them is
untenable. In the case of Abdula v. Guiani,[16] this Court held:

With respect to the allegation that the respondent had no legal authority to order a
reinvestigation of the criminal charge considering that the said charge had been
previously dismissed as against them, we hold that respondent did not abuse his
discretion in doing so.[17]
It is not material either that no new matter or evidence was presented during the
reinvestigation of the case. It should be stressed that reinvestigation, as the word itself
implies, is merely a repeat investigation of the case. New matters or evidence are not
prerequisites for a reinvestigation, which is simply a chance for the prosecutor, or in
this case the Office of the Ombudsman, to review and re-evaluate its findings and the
evidence already submitted.
Neither do the lack of notice to, or participation of, petitioners at the
reinvestigation render the questioned issuances of respondent Office of the
Ombudsman null and void. This was firmly settled in the recent case of Espinosa v.
Office of the Ombudsman,[18] where we held as follows --

xxx. And even without such notice, we agree with the observations of the
Sandiganbayan that under the Rules of Procedures of the Office of the Ombudsman
[Administrative Order No. 07], particularly Sec. 7, in relation to Sec. 4, while
complainants in preliminary investigation before the Ombudsman actively
participated therein, their participation is no longer accorded to them as a matter of
right in the stage of the reinvestigation. In administrative proceedings, moreover,
technical rules of procedure and evidence are not strictly applied; administrative due
process cannot be fully equated with due process in its strict judicial
sense.[19] (underscoring ours)

At any rate, petitioners cannot argue that they have been deprived of due
process. The rule is well established that due process is satisfied when the parties are
afforded fair and reasonable opportunity to explain their side of the controversy or an
opportunity to move for a reconsideration of the action or ruling complained of.[20] In
the case at bar, the record clearly shows that petitioners not only filed their respective
Counter-Affidavits[21] during the preliminary investigation, they also filed separate
Motions for Reconsideration[22] of the October 19, 1993 Order of the Ombudsman
impleading them as accused in Criminal Case No. 18956.
Finally, this Courts consistent policy has been to maintain non-interference in the
determination of the Ombudsman of the existence of probable cause, provided there is
no grave abuse in the exercise of such discretion. This observed policy is based not
only on respect for the investigatory and prosecutory powers granted by the
Constitution to the Office of the Ombudsman but upon practicality as well.Otherwise,
the functions of the Court will be seriously hampered by innumerable petitions
assailing the dismissal of investigatory proceedings conducted by the Office of the
Ombudsman with regard to complaints filed before it, in much the same way that the
courts would be extremely swamped with cases if they could be compelled to review
the exercise of discretion on the part of the fiscals or prosecuting attorneys each time
they decide to file an information in court or dismiss a complaint by a private
complainant.[23]
A careful review of the records fail to show any abuse of discretion on the