You are on page 1of 14

REPUBLIC OF THE PHiLIPPINES

SANDIGANBAYAN
Quezon City

SPECIAL SIXTH DWISION

PEOPLE OF THE PHILIPPINES, CRIM. CASES NOS. SB-17-CRM-


Plaintiff 1593 & 1594
For: Violation of Section 3(e) of
Republic Act No. 3019, as amended

CRIM. CASES NOS. SB-17-cRM-


- versus - 1595 & 1596
For: Violation of Article 217 of the
Revised Penal Code (Malversation)

RODOLFO W. ANTON1N09 ET Present:


AL., FERNANDEZ, SJ, J., Chairperson
Accused. MUSNOI,** J., Associate Justice
JACINTO,*** J., Associate Justice
QUIROZ,**** J., Associate Justice
ECONG,**** J., Associate Justice

N,I,2S1
Promulgated

RESOLUTION
MUSNGI, J.:

The Court resolves the Urgent Omnibus Motion' filed by accused


Arthur Cua Yap ("Yap") on 25 August 2017.

Accused Yap prays. for the Court (a) to dismiss the charges Or quash the
Informations against him .based on inordinate delay in the conduct and
termination of the preliminary investigation of these cases; and (b) to defer
the issuance of warrants of arrest and suspend the conduct of further
proceedings in these cases pending resolution of the instant motion.

F. Fernandez assumed her position as Chairperson of the Sixth Division per Administrative Order No. 314-
2017, in view of J. Ponferrada's retirement on 13 September 2017. The incident was deemed submitted
for resolution after the filing of the prosecution's Comment/Opposition on 13 September 2017 (Record,
p. 553; Rule XII, Sec.3, Revised Internal Rules ofthe Sandiganbayan)
Designated as temporary member of the Sixth Division per Administrative Order No. 124-2017 dated 04
April 2017, in view of the vacancy therein.
* Designated as temporary member per Administrative Order No. 307-A-2017 dated 31 August 2017, in
view of the inhibition of J. Miranda.
** Designated as temporary members per Administrative Order No. 17-C-2017 dated 04December20!
'Sandiganbayan Records, Vol. 1, pp. 288-327.
Criminal Cases Nos. SB -1 7-CRM-1593 to 1596
People vs. Antonino, et al.
RESOLUTION
Page 2 of 9
X-- --- ------- - ----x
Citing the case of Tatad vs. Sandiganbayan, 2 wherein the Supreme
Court considered as inordinate a delay of only three (3) years in the conclusion
of a preliminary investigation, he asserts that his constitutional right to speedy
disposition of cases enshrined in Section 16, Article III of the 1987 Philippine
Constitution has been violated.

The accused narrates that the Complaint-Affidavit, alleging offenses


which were supposedly committed ten (10) years ago, was filed with the
Office of the Ombudsman on 18 June 2014, and it took the latter more than
one year from the last submission of Counter-Affidavit to issue its Resolution.
The last Counter-Affidavit was filed on 16 March 2015 and the Ombudsman's
Resolution was issued on 09 June 2016, or one year and three (3) months later.
He claims that it also took the Office of the Ombudsman almost another year
to resolve his Motion for Reconsideration, which he filed on 21 June 2016.
The Ombudsman's Order denying the same was issued on 25 April 2017.
Hence, he asserts that it. took almost three (3) years to conclude the
preliminary investigation of these cases.

Accused Yap further asserts that his constitutional right to due process
has likewise been violated. He explains that the time limitation for the conduct
of preliminary investigation forms an important part of procedural due process
to which he is entitled.

In its Comment/Opposition (To Accused Yap 's Urgent Omnibus


Motion), 3 the prosecution cites Dela PePia v. Sandiganbayan, 4 wherein the
Supreme Court held that the right to a speedy disposition of cases is deemed
violated only "when the proceedings are attended by vexatious, capricious,
and oppressive delays." It adds that the circumstance of "undue delay"
attendant in Tatad v. Sandiganbayan, 5 which was cited by accused Yap, is
absent in the present cases.

The prosecution admits that it took the Office of the Ombudsman


almost three (3) years to conclude the preliminary investigation. Nevertheless,
it contends that the same cannot be considered as an unreasonable and
arbitrary delay which deprived the accused of his constitutional right to
speedy disposition of cases. It narrates that the Complaint-Affidavit was filed
by the Office of the Deputy Ombudsman for Luzon Field Investigation Unit
on 18 June 2014. On 29 October 2014, the Ombudsman issued an Order
directing the accused to submit their Counter-Affidavits. After the last
Counter-Affidavit was filed on 16 March 2016, the Office of the Ombudsman

2 G.R. No. 72335-3921 March 1988.


Sandiganbayan Records, Vol. I, pp. 553-559.
4 G.R. No. 144542,29 June 2001.
5 G.R. Nos. 72335-39, 21 March 1988.
Criminal Cases Nos. SB -17-CRM-1593 to 1596
People vs. Antonino, et al.
RESOLUTION
Page 3 of 9
X__----- - -------------------------x

issued the Resolution finding probable cause against the accused on 03 June
2016. Consequently, accused Yap flied his Motion for Reconsideration on 22
June 2016 which was denied in an Order dated 11 January 2017.

Lastly, the prosecution argues that an accused's right to speedy


disposition of cases should not operate to deprive the State of its inherent
prerogative to prosecute criminal cases. It asserts that the nature of the Office
of the Ombudsman encourages individuals who clamor for efficient
government service to freely lodge their complaints against alleged
wrongdoing of government personnel. Hence, numerous cases reach the
Office of the Ombudsman which would naturally take some time to dispose.

RULING

The Court grants the instant motion for violation of the accused's
constitutional right to speedy disposition of cases.

The constitutional right to speedy disposition of cases is enshrined in


Section 16, Article Ill of the 1987 Philippine Constitution, which provides:

"Section 16. All persons shall have the right to a speedy disposition of their
cases before all judicial, quasi-judicial, or administrative bodies."

In Corpuz vs. Sandiganbayan,6 the Supreme Court explained how to


determine whether the right of the accused to a speedy disposition of cases
has been violated, to wit:
"In determining whether the accused has been deprived of his right
to a speedy disposition of the case and to a speedy trial, four factors must
be considered: (a ) length of delay: (b ) the reason for the delay: (c ) the
defendant's assertion of his riEht; and (d) preludice to the defendant.
Prejudice should be assessed in the light of the interest of the defendant that
the speedy trial was designed to protect, namely:, to prevent oppressive pre-
,// trial incarceration; to minimize anxiety and concerns of the accused to trial;
and to limit the possibility that his defense will be impaired. Of these, the
most serious is the last, because the inability of a defendant adequately to
prepare his case skews the fairness of the entire system. There is also
prejudice if the defense witnesses are unable to recall accurately the events
of the distant past. Even if the accused is not imprisoned prior to trial, he is
still disadvantaged by restraints on his liberty and by living under a cloud
of anxiety, suspicion and often, hostility. His financial resources may be
drained, his association is curtailed, and he is subjected to public obloquy.

6 G.R No. 162214, 11 November 2004.


eli
4)'
Criminal Cases Nos. SB -1 7-CRM-1593 to 1596
People vs. Antonino, et al.
RESOLUTION
Page 4 of 9
x—_ -
Delay is a two-edge - sword. It is the government that bears the
burden of proving its case beyond reasonable doubt. The passage of time
may make it difficult or impossible for the government to carry its burden.
The Constitution and the Rules do not require impossibilities or
extraordinary efforts, diligence or exertion from courts or the prosecutor,
nor contemplate that such right shall deprive the State of a reasonable
opportunity of fairly prosecuting criminals. As held in Williams v. United
States, for the government to sustain its right to try the accused despite a
delay, it must show two things: (a) that the accused suffered no serious
prejudice beyond that which ensued from the ordinary and inevitable delay;
and (b) that there was no more delay than is reasonably attributable to the
ordinary processes of justice.

Closely related to the length of delay is the reason or justification of


the State for such delay. Different weights should be assigned to different
reasons or justifications invoked by the State. For instance, a deliberate
attempt to delay the trial in order to hamper or prejudice the defense should
be weighted heavily against the State. Also, it is improper for the prosecutor
to intentionally delay to gain some tactical advantage over the defendant or
to harass or prejudice him. On the other hand, the heavy caseload of the
prosecution or a missing witness should be weighted less heavily against
the State. Corollarily, Section 4, Rule 119 of the Revised Rules of Criminal
Procedure enumerates the factors for granting a continuance." 7 (Emphasis
supplied and citations omitted)

Hence, the following factors should be considered in determining


whether the accused has been denied his/her right to a speedy disposition of
cases: (1) length of delay; (2) the reason for the delay; (3) the accused's
assertion of his/her right; and (4) prejudice to the accused.

Applying the above-cited factors to these cases, it is evident that the


constitutional right of accused Yap to the speedy disposition of his cases has
indeed been violated.

Length of Delay. Culled from the records are the following


uncontroverted dates and incidents:

Date Indicent
15 June 2010 The Special Audits Office ("SÃO") of the Commission
on Audit ('COX) conducted .a performance audit of
the Priority Development Assistance Fund ("PDAF")
for 2007 to 2009, which included the transactions
subject of the present cases. 8
13 September 2012 The SAO terminated its performance audit of the PDAF
for 2007 to 2009.

7 G.R No. L-37007, 20 July 1987.


8 Sandiganbayan Records, Vol. 1, p. 10.
9 lbid

4. 1
Criminal Cases Nos. SB -1 7-CRM-1593 to 1596
People vs. Antonino, et al.
RESOLUTION
Page sof9
x------------------------------ -----.-----x
14 August 2013 The SAO released the SAO Report No. 2012-03
containing its findings on the PDAF for 2007 to 2009. 10
18 June 2014 The Complaint-Affidavit dated 28 April 2014 was filed
with the Office of the Ombudsman.
29 October 2014 The Office of the Ombudsman ordered then
respondents, including accused Yap, to file their
Counter-Affidavits.

14 November 2014 Accused Rodolfo W. Antonino ("Antonino") filed his


Counter-Affidavit.

03 December 2014 Accused Yap filed his Counter-Affidavit.

19 March 2015 Accused Alan A. Javellana ("Javellana") filed his


Counter-Affidavit.

03 June 2016 The Office of the Ombudsman issued the Resolution


finding probable cause against then respondents.

09 June 2016 Ombudsman Carpio-Morales approved the Resolution.


21 June 2016 Accused Yap filed his Motion for Reconsideration of
the 03 June 2016 Resolution of the Office of the
Ombudsman.
22 June 2016 Accused Antonino and Javellana filed their separate
Motions for Reconsideration of the 03 June 2016
Resolution of the Office of the Ombusdman.
11 January 2017 The Office of the Ombudsman issued an Order denying
the Motions for Reconsideration of then respondents.

25 April 2017 Ombudsman Carpio-Morales approved the Order.


22 August 2017 The Office of the Ombudsman filed the present
Informations with the Sandiganbayan.

Evidently, the preliminary investigation was conducted within a total


period of three (3) years, two (2) months, and three (3) days reckoned from
the receipt by the Office of the Ombudsman of the Complaint-Affidavit on 18
June 2014 up to the filing of the Informations with the Sandiganbayan on 22
August 2017.

10 i

e--~Y '
Criminal Cases Nos. SB -1 7-CRM-1593 to 1596
People vs. Antonino, et al.
RESOLUTION
Page 6of9
x------------..---------- --------------x
It is worthy to note that the period spent on the preliminary
investigation upon receiving the Counter-Affidavit Of accused Yap on 03
December 2014 up to the issuance on 03 June 2016 of the Resolution finding
probable cause against, him already constituted a period of one year and six
(6) months delay.

Thereafter, the Office of the Ombudsman spent another one year and
two (2) months to file the Informations with the Sandiganbayan, reckoned
from accused Yap's filing of his Motionfor Reconsideration on 21 June 2016.

It is likewise worthy to note that prior to the filing of the Complaint-


Affidavit before the Office of the Ombudsman, COA already conducted a fact-
finding investigation through a performance audit from 15 June 2010 to 13
September 2012. Such period should be considered in computing the delay in
the instant cases in accordance with the ruling of the Supreme Court in Torres
v. Sandiganbayan," wherein it held "that the speedy disposition of cases
covers not only the period within which the preliminary investigation was
conducted, but also all stages to which the accused is subjected, even
including fact-finding investigations conducted prior to the preliminary
investigation proper." 2 Hence, accused Yap was subjected to fact-finding
investigation and preliminary investigation within a combined period of seven
(7) years, two (2) months, and Seven (7) days.

From the foregoing timeline and the totality of circumstances, a delay


of seven (7) years, two (2) months, and seven (7) days indicates a violation of
the right of the accused to a speedy disposition of his cases.

Reason for the Delay. The prosecution failed to allege and prove
factual circumstances that could have justified its delay in the conduct of the
reliminary investigation. Instead of offering any plausible reason to justify
why the Office of the Ombudsman spent more than three (3) years and two
(2) months in conducting its preliminary investigation, the prosecution merely
asserted the presumption of regularity in the performance by the Office of the
Ombudsman of its functions and the alleged failure of the accused to show
any sign of asserting his right to a speedy disposition of cases.

In Coscolluela vs. Sandiganbayan,' 3 the Supreme Court emphasized


that the Ombudsman must act with reasonable dispatch on the cases entrusted
to it, thus:

G.R. Nos. 221562-69, 05 Oct. 2016.


12 Jbid. (citation omitted) (emphasis supplied).
11 G.R. No. 191411, July 15, 2013.
Criminal Cases Nos. SB -1 7-CRM-1593 to 1596
People vs. Antonino, et al.
RESOLUTION
Page 7of9
X __------- -_---------_------_----x
"Verily, the Office of the Ombudsman was created under the mantle
of the Constitution, 'mandated to be the 'protector of the people' and as such,
required to 'act promptly on complaints filed in any form or manner against
officers and employees of the Government, or of any subdivision, agency
or instrumentality thereof, in order to promote efficient service.' This great
responsibility cannot be simply brushed aside by ineptitude. Precisely, the
Office of the Ombudsman has the inherent duty not only to carefully go
through the particulars of case but also to resolve the same within the proper
length of time. Its dutiful performance should not only be gauged by the
quality of the assessment but also by the reasonable promptness of its
dispensation."

Consequently, the prosecution cannot just state conclusions of law to


justify the attendant delay in the preliminary investigation of the subject cases.
The factual and legal issues. involved in the present proceeding is not
complicated enough to justify the inordinate delay on the part of the
prosecution. Furthermore, only three (3) out of the eight (8) respondents have
filed their Counter-Affidavits.

Assertion of Such Right by the Accused. The prosecution argues that


the accused did not show any sign of asserting his right like filing a motion
for an early resolution of his cases. However, even without the filing of such
motion, it is the duty of the prosecution to conclude the preliminary
investigation with reasonable dispatch. Citing the case of Barker v. Wingo 14
in Coscolluela vs. Sandiganbayan,'5 the Supreme Court held:

"Being the respondents in the preliminary investigation proceedings, it was


not, the petitioners' duty to follow up on the prosecution of their case.
Conversely, it was the Office of the Ombudsman's responsibility to
expedite the same within the bounds of reasonable timeliness in view of its
mandate to promptly act on all complaints lodged before it. As pronounced
in the case of Barker v. Wingo:

A defendant has no duty to bring himself to trial; the State has that
duty as well as the duty of insuring that the trial is consistent with
due process." (citation omitted).

Prejudice Caused by the Delay. Finally, the most serious interest of the
accused which is protected by the right to speedy disposition of cases is the
limitation on the possibility of impairing his/her defense. The inordinate delay
in the disposition of cases against the accused causes anxiety, hostility,,
additional expenses, and restriction on his person and well-being. The case of
Corpuz vs. Sandiganbayan,' 6 is instructive, thus:

14
407 U.S. 514 (1972).
'5 G.R.No. 191411,15 July 2013
16 0.R. No. 162214, 11 November 2004.
Criminal Cases Nos. SB -1 7-CRM-1593 to 1596
People vs. Antonino, et al.
RESOLUTION
Page 8 of 9
X_--------------------- ---------x
"In determining whether the accused has been deprived of his right
to a speedy disposition of the case and to a speedy trial, four factors must
be considered: (a) length of delay; (b) the reason for the delay; (c) the
defendant's assertion of his right; and (d) prejudice to the defendant.
Prejudice should be assessed in the light of the interest of the defendant
that the speedy trial was designed to protect, namely: to prevent
oppressive pre-trial incarceration; 'to minimize anxiety and concerns of
the accused to trial; and to limit the possibility that his defense will be
impaired. Of these, the most serious is the last, because the inability of
a defendant adequately to prepare his case skews the fairness of the
entire system. There is also prejudice if the defense witnesses are unable
to recall accurately the events of the distant past. Even if the accused is
not imprisoned prior to trial, he is still disadvantaged by restraints on
his liberty and by living under a cloud of anxiety, suspicion and often,
hostility. His financial resources may be drained, his association is
curtailed, and he is subjected to public obloquy." (emphasis supplied)

In these cases, the passage of time in the conduct of the preliminary


investigation has already adversely affected the defense of accused Yap. It has
obviously caused tactical disadvantage in the preparation of his defense.
Accused Yap served as the Secretary of the Department of Agriculture ("DA")
from the year 2004 up to 2010. The subject transaction occurred during his
incumbency as DA Secretaty. It was only four (4) years thereafter that a
complaint was filed against him. Hence, during the course of the preliminary
investigation and up to the time the Informations were filed in Court, the
accused no longer had access to documents and other pieces of evidence. As
such, the retrieval and examination thereof has already become very difficult.
Moreover, witnesses may no longer recall accurately the events and
transactions which have transpired more than seven (7) years ago.

In sum, the prejudice and pernicious effect of the inordinate delay that
attended the investigation into these cases against the accused-movant
becomes manifest.

WHEREFORE, in light of the foregoing, the' Urgent Omnibus Motion


filed by accused Arthur Cua Yap on 25 August 2017 is GRANTED.
Accordingly, CRIMINAL CASES NOS. SB-17-CRM-1593 to 1594 and SB-
17-CRM-1595 to 1596 are hereby DISMISSED as regards said accused for
violation of his constitutional right to speedy. disposition of cases.

The hold departure order issued by the Court against the abovenamed
accused, if any, is hereby LIFTED and SET ASIDE, and the cash bond he
posted is ordered RELEASED, subject to the usual accounting and auditing
procedures. . .
Criminal Cases Nos. SB-i 7-CRM-1593 to 1596
People vs. Antonino, et al.
RESOLUTION
Page 9of9
x----------- --------

SO ORDERED.

Quezon City, Philippines.

MICHAEL MUSNGI

We concur:

I JvtuiY
ALTfL Q Y
--U
Associate
-
11? LJDINE FAITH A. EbONG
Associate Justice

We dissent:

iko D1 4
0 4ft
*
i II
14 %'

JANET.FERN Z BAY H ACINTO


Associate Justice
I Chairperson Ass?iat/Justice
People v. Rodolfo W. Antonino, et al. (SBA 7-CRM-1 593 to 1596)

DISSENTING OPINION

FERNANDEZ, SJ, J.:

I dissent from the majority's Resolution granting accused Yap's


Urgent Omnibus Motion and dismissing the present cases on the ground of
violation of the right to speedy disposition of cases.

In Corpuz v. Sandiganbayan, 1 the Supreme Court explained that the


right to speedy disposition of cases is violated only when the proceedings
are attended by vexatious, capricious and oppressive delays. Speedy
disposition is a flexible concept, and thus, in determining if the right to
speedy disposition of cases is violated, the balancing test requires courts to
approach each case on an ad hoc basis. Viz.:

The right of the accused to a speedy trial and to a speedy


disposition of the case against him was designed to prevent the
oppression of the citizen by holding criminal prosecution suspended over
him for an indefinite time, and to prevent delays in the administration of
justice by mandating the courts to proceed with reasonable dispatch in the
trial of criminal cases. Such right to a speedy trial and a speedy
disposition of a case is violated only when the proceeding is attended by
vexatious, capricious and oppressive delays. The inquiry as to whether or
not an accused has been denied such right is not susceptible by precise
qualification. The concept of a speedy disposition is a relative term and
must necessarily be a flexible concept.

While justice is administered with dispatch, the essential ingredient


is orderly, expeditious and not mere speed. It cannot be definitely said
how long is too long in a system where justice is supposed to be swift, but
deliberate. It is consistent with delays and depends upon circumstances.
It secures rights to the accused, but it does not preclude the rights of
public justice. Also, it must be borne in mind that the rights given to the
accused by the Constitution and the Rules of Court are shields, not
weapons; hence, courts are to give meaning to that intent.

A balancing test of applying societal interests and the rights of the


accused necessarily compels the court to approach speedy trial cases on
an ad hoc basis. 2 -

The record shows that Complaint-Affidavit' was filed with the Office of
the Ombudsman on June 18, 2014. The Ombudsman approved the
Resolution4 finding probable cause to indict the accused on June 9, 2016 -
around one (1) year and eleven (11) months after the Complaint-Affidavit
was filed. Thereafter, accused Antonino, Yap and Javellana filed their

1
G.R. No. 162214, November 11, 2004
2
Reiterated in the more recent case of Remulla v. Sandiganbayan, G.R. No. 218040, April 17, 2017
'Dated April 28, 2014; Record, Vol. 1, pp. 74-98
4
Dated June 3, 2016; Record, Vol. 1, pp. 8-53
DISSENTING OPINION
People v. Antonino, et al.
SB-17-CRM-1593 to 1596

Page 2 of 5

x----------------------------------------x

respective motions for reconsideration, which were denied in the Order


dated January 11, 2017 5 and approved on April 25, 2017. 1 The
Informations were filed with this Court on August 22, 2017— almost four (4)
months after the approval of said Order. The aforementioned periods
combined, it took around three (3) years and (2) months from the filing of
the Complaint-Affidavit to the filing of the Informations with the Court.

The next question is whether or not the fact-finding investigation


should be considered in computing the delay. In Tilendo v. Ombudsman, 7
the Supreme Court, in holding that there was no unreasonable delay,
excluded the fact-finding investigation conducted by the National Bureau of
Investigation (NBI). It was held:

In this case, there was no unreasonable delay to speak of because


the preliminary investigation stage officially began when the NBI filed
before the Ombudsman a complaint against Tilendo for violation of the
relevant provisions of RA 2019 and the RPC. Contrary to Tilendo's view,
the preliminary investigation did not automatically commence. upon the
filing of the anonymous letters in the Ombudsman.

xxx

Significantly, the Court held in Raro v. Sandiganbayan, that by


referring the complaint to the NBI, the Ombudsman did not thereby
delegate the conduct of the preliminary investigation of the case to the NBI.
What was delegated was only the fact-finding function, preparatory to the
preliminary investigation still to be conducted by the Ombudsman.

However, in the more recent case of Torres v. Sandiganbayan, 8 it


was held:

We find it necessary to emphasize that the speedy disposition of


cases covers not only the period within which the preliminary investigation
was conducted but also all stages to which the accused is subjected, even
including fact-finding investigations conducted prior to the preliminary
investigation proper. x x x

At first glance, it may appear that the ruling in Tilendo was


abandoned - that the time spent in fact-finding investigations conducted by
agencies other than the Office of the Ombudsman should now be included
in computing the length of delay. However, a closer look at Torres reveals j
that there is no inconsistency. It must be emphasized that in Torres, the

Record, Vol. 1, PP. 55-72


6
Record, Vol. 1, p. 71
G.R. No. 165975; September 13, 2007
8
G.R. Nos. 221562-69; October 5, 2016
DISSENTING OPINION
People v. Antonino, et al.
SB-17-CRM-1593 to 1596

Page 3 of 5

Supreme Court did not include the period for the Commission on Audit's
(COA) special audit in computing the length of delay. To wit:

While it may be argued that there was a distinction between the two
sets of investigations conducted in 1996 and 2006, such that they pertain
to distinct acts of different personalities, it cannot be denied that the basis
for both sets of investigations emanated from the same COA Special Audit
Report No. 92-128, which was issued as early as June 18, 1993. Thus,
the Ombudsman had more than enough time to review the same and
conduct the necessary investigation white the individuals implicated
therein, such as herein petitioner, were still in active service.

• Even assuming that the COA Special Audit Report No. 92-128 was
only turned over to the Ombudsman on December 11, 1996 upon the filing
of the Affidavit of the COA Auditors, still, it had been in the Ombudsman's
possession and had been the subject of their review and scrutiny for at
least eight (8) years before Tanodbayan Marcelo ordered the conduct of a
preliminary investigation, and at least sixteen (16) years before the
Ombudsman found probable cause on February 25, 2010.

The point of reckoning was either the date of the issuance of the
COA's Special Audit Report No. 92-128 or the time when such report was
turned over to the Ombudsman. Either way, it appears that the Supreme
Court, in computing the length of delay, only considered the time when the
Office of the Ombudsman had actual control over the case before it. To be
sure, the fact-finding investigation conducted prior to the preliminary
investigation should be included in the computation. But such fact-finding
investigation pertains to that conducted by the Office of the Ombudsman,
and not by other agencies.

In Coscolluela v. Sandiganbyan, 9 the Supreme Court discussed the


Office of the Ombudsman's duty to promptly act on the cases filed before it.
To wit:

Verily, the Office of the Ombudsman was created under the mantle
of the Constitution, mandated to be the "protector of the people" and as
such, required to "act promptly on complaints filed in any form or manner
against officers and employees of the Government, or of any subdivision,
agency or instrumentality thereof, in order to promote efficient service."
This great responsibility cannot be simply brushed aside by ineptitude.
Precisely, the Office of the Ombudsman has the inherent duty not only to
carefully go through the particulars of case but also to resolve the same
within the proper length of time. Its dutiful performance should not only be
gauged by the quality of the assessment but also by the reasonable
promptness of its dispensation. Thus, barring any extraordinary
complication, such as the degree of difficulty of the questions involved in
the case or any event external thereto that effectively stymied its normal,,/

G.R. Nos. 191411 and 191871, July 15, 2013


DISSENTING OPINION
People v. Antonino, et al.
SB-17-CRM-1593 to 1596

Page 4 of 5

work activity - any of which have not been adequately proven by the
prosecution in the case at bar - there appears to be no justifiable basis as
to why the Office of the Ombudsman could not have earlier resolved the
preliminary investigation proceedings against the petitioners.

Necessarily, the Office of the Ombudsman must have control over the
case before it could act on it. The Office of the Ombudsman can act on
matters before it only after such matters are brought before it, whether by
another person, government agency, or by the offices under its control.

Here, there is no indication of the exact date the matter was brought
to the Office of the Ombudsman, but it appears that the fact-finding
investigation commenced sometime in 2014.10 Both the Complaint-Affidavit
and the Ombudsman's Resolution mention COA Special Audits Office
(SAO) Report No. 2012-03. It appears that such report, which may have
served as one of the bases of said Complaint-Affidavit, was transmitted to
the Department of Budget and Management (DBM) only on August 14,
2013 . 11 Thus, the Office of the Ombudsman may have received a copy of
the same only after such date. It cannot be said that, as held in the
majority's opinion, accused Yap was subjected to fact-finding investigation
and preliminary investigation within a combined period of seven (7) years,
two (2) months, and seven (7) days.

The total period of around three (3) years and two (2) months can be
broken down into the following:

1. The filing of the Complaint-Affidavit on June 18, 2014 to the filing of


then respondent Javellana's Counter-Affidavit on March 19, 2015 12
(around 9 months);

2. The filing of said Counter-Affidavit to the Ombudsman's approval of


the Resolution dated June 3, 2016, on June 9, 2016 (around 1 year
and 2 months);

3. The approval of said Resolution to the approval of the Order dated


January 11, 2017,'on April 25, 2017 (around 10 months); and

4. The approval of said Order to the filing of the Informations with this
Court on August 22, 2017 (around 4 months).

It can be seen that although not all respondents filed their respective
counter-affidavits, all of them were given the opportunity to be heard , /

'° Record, Vol. 1, p. 75 (Complaint-Affidavit, p. 2, footnote 1)


"At www.coa.gov.ph
11Record, Vol. 1, p. 260
DISSENTING OPINION
People V. Antonino, et al.
SB-17-CRM-1593 to 1596

Page 5 of 5

Moreover, in Mendoza-Ong v. Sandiganbayan,' 3 the Supreme Court, citing


Dansal v. Fernandez, Sr., 14 recognized the fact that some delay may result
from the steady stream of cases reaching the Office of the Ombudsman.
To wit:

x x x. "Speedy disposition of cases" is consistent with reasonable


delays. The Court takes judicial notice of the fact that the nature of the
Office of the Ombudsman encourages individuals who clamor for efficient
government service to lodge freely their complaints against alleged
wrongdoing of government personnel. A steady stream of cases reaching
the Ombudsman inevitably results. Naturally, disposition of those cases
would take some time. x x x

The present cases are only part of several cases involving the PDAF.
Considering that the Office of the Ombudsman also handles other PDAF
cases, in addition to those cases not involving the PDAF, the undersigned
is of the opinion that the time it took to terminate the preliminary
investigation is not unreasonable. The delay not being unreasonable, it
cannot be said that such can be characterized as vexatious, capricious and
oppressive. There was no violation of accused Yap's right to speedy
disposition of cases.

ACCORDINGLY, I vote to DENY accused Yap's Urgent Omnibus


Motion.

J NE~ T. FE NNA EZ
Associate Justice
Chairperson

13
G.R. Nos. 146368-69, October 18, 2004
14
G.R. No. 126814, March 2, 2000