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Dela Cruz v.

Sandiganbayan
G.R. No. 161929 | December 8, 2009
Political Law

Facts: Upon post audit of a construction/ renovation project involving several multi-purpose barangay
halls in Tarlac City, the Provincial Auditor of the COA issued Notices of Disallowance on the ground that
what were constructed and renovated were barangay chapels, in violation of Sec. 29(2), Art. VI of the
1987 Constitution and Sec. 335 of the Local Government Code prohibiting public expenditure for religious
purposes. Private complainants filed a complaint with the Office of the Ombudsman against petitioners,
local government officials of Tarlac City, for violation of Sec. 3(c) of the Anti-Graft and Corrupt Practices
Act. The complaint was filed with the Sandiganbayan, which later ordered the preventive suspension of
the accused for 90 days.

Issues:
(1) WON preventive suspension of the accused is mandatory upon a finding that the information is
valid – YES.
 Sec. 13 of RA 3019 provides that any public officer against whom any criminal prosecution
under a valid information under RA 3019 or under the RPC provisions of bribery is pending
in court, shall be suspended from office.
 Under this provision, it becomes mandatory for the court to immediately issue the
suspension order upon a proper determination of the validity of the information.
 The court has no discretion to determine whether a preventive suspension is necessary
to forestall the possibility that the accused may use his office to intimidate witnesses,
frustrate his prosecution, or continue committing malfeasance.
 The issues proper for a pre-suspension hearing are limited to ascertaining whether: 1) the
accused had been afforded due preliminary investigation prior to the filing of the
information against him; 2) the acts for which he was charged constitute a violation of
the provisions of RA 3019 or Title 7, Book II of the RPC; or 3) the information against him
may be quashed under any of the ground provided in Sec. 2, Rule 117 of the ROC.
 All of the above issues proper in a pre-suspension hearing were previously passed upon
by the Sandiganbayan and by the SC in G.R. No. 158308. Petitioners conveniently failed
to reveal that it was the second time they had appealed to the SC, advancing the same
issues and arguments in the instant petition.

Held: Petition dismissed. Treble costs against petitioners.