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ACCESS TO COURTS AND QUASI-JUDICIAL who is a member of the Philippine National Police, spouse Lorencita Algura also

had a mini-store and a computer shop on the ground floor of their residence
BODIES along Bayawas St., Sta. Cruz, Naga City. Also, respondents claimed that
petitioners' second floor was used as their residence and as a boarding house,
from which they earned more than PhP 3,000.00 a month. In addition, it was
Republic of the Philippines claimed that petitioners derived additional income from their computer shop
SUPREME COURT patronized by students and from several boarders who paid rentals to them.
Manila Hence, respondents concluded that petitioners were not indigent litigants.
THIRD DIVISION
On March 28, 2000, petitioners subsequently interposed their Opposition to the
G.R. No. 150135 October 30, 2006 Motion12 to respondents' motion to disqualify them for non-payment of filing
fees.
SPOUSES ANTONIO F. ALGURA and LORENCITA S.J. ALGURA,
petitioners, On April 14, 2000, the Naga City RTC issued an Order disqualifying petitioners
vs. as indigent litigants on the ground that they failed to substantiate their claim for
THE LOCAL GOVERNMENT UNIT OF THE CITY OF NAGA, ATTY. MANUEL exemption from payment of legal fees and to comply with the third paragraph of
TEOXON, ENGR. LEON PALMIANO, NATHAN SERGIO and BENJAMIN Rule 141, Section 18 of the Revised Rules of Court—directing them to pay the
NAVARRO, SR., respondents. requisite filing fees.13

On April 28, 2000, petitioners filed a Motion for Reconsideration of the April 14,
DECISION 2000 Order. On May 8, 2000, respondents then filed their Comment/Objections
to petitioner's Motion for Reconsideration.

VELASCO, JR., J.: On May 5, 2000, the trial court issued an Order14 giving petitioners the
opportunity to comply with the requisites laid down in Section 18, Rule 141, for
Anyone who has ever struggled with poverty knows how extremely expensive it them to qualify as indigent litigants.
is to be poor.
–– James Baldwin On May 13, 2000, petitioners submitted their Compliance15 attaching the
affidavits of petitioner Lorencita Algura16 and Erlinda Bangate,17 to comply with
The Constitution affords litigants—moneyed or poor—equal access to the the requirements of then Rule 141, Section 18 of the Rules of Court and in
courts; moreover, it specifically provides that poverty shall not bar any person support of their claim to be declared as indigent litigants.
from having access to the courts.1 Accordingly, laws and rules must be
formulated, interpreted, and implemented pursuant to the intent and spirit of this In her May 13, 2000 Affidavit, petitioner Lorencita Algura claimed that the
constitutional provision. As such, filing fees, though one of the essential demolition of their small dwelling deprived her of a monthly income amounting
elements in court procedures, should not be an obstacle to poor litigants' to PhP 7,000.00. She, her husband, and their six (6) minor children had to rely
opportunity to seek redress for their grievances before the courts. mainly on her husband's salary as a policeman which provided them a monthly
amount of PhP 3,500.00, more or less. Also, they did not own any real property
The Case as certified by the assessor's office of Naga City. More so, according to her, the
meager net income from her small sari-sari store and the rentals of some
This Petition for Review on Certiorari seeks the annulment of the September 11, boarders, plus the salary of her husband, were not enough to pay the family's
2001 Order of the Regional Trial Court (RTC) of Naga City, Branch 27, in Civil basic necessities.
Case No. 99-4403 entitled Spouses Antonio F. Algura and Lorencita S.J. Algura
v. The Local Government Unit of the City of Naga, et al., dismissing the case for To buttress their position as qualified indigent litigants, petitioners also
failure of petitioners Algura spouses to pay the required filing fees.2 Since the submitted the affidavit of Erlinda Bangate, who attested under oath, that she
instant petition involves only a question of law based on facts established from personally knew spouses Antonio Algura and Lorencita Algura, who were her
the pleadings and documents submitted by the parties,3 the Court gives due neighbors; that they derived substantial income from their boarders; that they
course to the instant petition sanctioned under Section 2(c) of Rule 41 on Appeal lost said income from their boarders' rentals when the Local Government Unit
from the RTCs, and governed by Rule 45 of the 1997 Rules of Civil Procedure. of the City of Naga, through its officers, demolished part of their house because
from that time, only a few boarders could be accommodated; that the income
The Facts from the small store, the boarders, and the meager salary of Antonio Algura
were insufficient for their basic necessities like food and clothing, considering
On September 1, 1999, spouses Antonio F. Algura and Lorencita S.J. Algura that the Algura spouses had six (6) children; and that she knew that petitioners
filed a Verified Complaint dated August 30, 19994 for damages against the did not own any real property.
Naga City Government and its officers, arising from the alleged illegal demolition
of their residence and boarding house and for payment of lost income derived Thereafter, Naga City RTC Acting Presiding Judge Andres B. Barsaga, Jr.
from fees paid by their boarders amounting to PhP 7,000.00 monthly. issued his July 17, 200018 Order denying the petitioners' Motion for
Reconsideration.
Simultaneously, petitioners filed an Ex-Parte Motion to Litigate as Indigent
Litigants,5 to which petitioner Antonio Algura's Pay Slip No. 2457360 (Annex Judge Barsaga ratiocinated that the pay slip of Antonio F. Algura showed that
"A" of motion) was appended, showing a gross monthly income of Ten the "GROSS INCOME or TOTAL EARNINGS of plaintiff Algura [was]
Thousand Four Hundred Seventy Four Pesos (PhP 10,474.00) and a net pay of ₧10,474.00 which amount [was] over and above the amount mentioned in the
Three Thousand Six Hundred Sixteen Pesos and Ninety Nine Centavos (PhP first paragraph of Rule 141, Section 18 for pauper litigants residing outside
3,616.99) for [the month of] July 1999.6 Also attached as Annex "B" to the Metro Manila."19 Said rule provides that the gross income of the litigant should
motion was a July 14, 1999 Certification7 issued by the Office of the City not exceed PhP 3,000.00 a month and shall not own real estate with an
Assessor of Naga City, which stated that petitioners had no property declared assessed value of PhP 50,000.00. The trial court found that, in Lorencita S.J.
in their name for taxation purposes. Algura's May 13, 2000 Affidavit, nowhere was it stated that she and her
immediate family did not earn a gross income of PhP 3,000.00.
Finding that petitioners' motion to litigate as indigent litigants was meritorious,
Executive Judge Jose T. Atienza of the Naga City RTC, in the September 1, The Issue
1999 Order,8 granted petitioners' plea for exemption from filing fees.
Unconvinced of the said ruling, the Alguras instituted the instant petition raising
Meanwhile, as a result of respondent Naga City Government's demolition of a a solitary issue for the consideration of the Court: whether petitioners should be
portion of petitioners' house, the Alguras allegedly lost a monthly income of PhP considered as indigent litigants who qualify for exemption from paying filing fees.
7,000.00 from their boarders' rentals. With the loss of the rentals, the meager
income from Lorencita Algura's sari-sari store and Antonio Algura's small take The Ruling of the Court
home pay became insufficient for the expenses of the Algura spouses and their
six (6) children for their basic needs including food, bills, clothes, and schooling, The petition is meritorious.
among others.
A review of the history of the Rules of Court on suits in forma pauperis (pauper
On October 13, 1999, respondents filed an Answer with Counterclaim dated litigant) is necessary before the Court rules on the issue of the Algura spouses'
October 10, 1999,9 arguing that the defenses of the petitioners in the complaint claim to exemption from paying filing fees.
had no cause of action, the spouses' boarding house blocked the road right of
way, and said structure was a nuisance per se. When the Rules of Court took effect on January 1, 1964, the rule on pauper
litigants was found in Rule 3, Section 22 which provided that:
Praying that the counterclaim of defendants (respondents) be dismissed,
petitioners then filed their Reply with Ex-Parte Request for a Pre-Trial Setting10 Section 22. Pauper litigant.—Any court may authorize a litigant to prosecute his
before the Naga City RTC on October 19, 1999. On February 3, 2000, a pre- action or defense as a pauper upon a proper showing that he has no means to
trial was held wherein respondents asked for five (5) days within which to file a that effect by affidavits, certificate of the corresponding provincial, city or
Motion to Disqualify Petitioners as Indigent Litigants. municipal treasurer, or otherwise. Such authority[,] once given[,] shall include
an exemption from payment of legal fees and from filing appeal bond, printed
On March 13, 2000, respondents filed a Motion to Disqualify the Plaintiffs for record and printed brief. The legal fees shall be a lien to any judgment rendered
Non-Payment of Filing Fees dated March 10, 2000.11 They asserted that in in the case [favorable] to the pauper, unless the court otherwise provides.
addition to the more than PhP 3,000.00 net income of petitioner Antonio Algura,
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From the same Rules of Court, Rule 141 on Legal Fees, on the other hand, did Sec. 19. Indigent litigants exempt from payment of legal fees.– INDIGENT
not contain any provision on pauper litigants. LITIGANTS (A) WHOSE GROSS INCOME AND THAT OF THEIR IMMEDIATE
FAMILY DO NOT EXCEED AN AMOUNT DOUBLE THE MONTHLY MINIMUM
On July 19, 1984, the Court, in Administrative Matter No. 83-6-389-0 (formerly WAGE OF AN EMPLOYEE AND (B) WHO DO NOT OWN REAL PROPERTY
G.R. No. 64274), approved the recommendation of the Committee on the WITH A FAIR MARKET VALUE AS STATED IN THE CURRENT TAX
Revision of Rates and Charges of Court Fees, through its Chairman, then DECLARATION OF MORE THAN THREE HUNDRED THOUSAND
Justice Felix V. Makasiar, to revise the fees in Rule 141 of the Rules of Court to (P300,000.00) PESOS SHALL BE EXEMPT FROM PAYMENT OF LEGAL
generate funds to effectively cover administrative costs for services rendered by FEES.
the courts.20 A provision on pauper litigants was inserted which reads:
The legal fees shall be a lien on any judgment rendered in the case favorable
Section 16. Pauper-litigants exempt from payment of court fees.—Pauper- to the indigent litigant unless the court otherwise provides.
litigants include wage earners whose gross income do not exceed P2,000.00 a
month or P24,000.00 a year for those residing in Metro Manila, and P1,500.00 To be entitled to the exemption herein provided, the litigant shall execute an
a month or P18,000.00 a year for those residing outside Metro Manila, or those affidavit that he and his immediate family do not earn a gross income
who do not own real property with an assessed value of not more than abovementioned, and they do not own any real property with the fair value
P24,000.00, or not more than P18,000.00 as the case may be. aforementioned, supported by an affidavit of a disinterested person attesting to
the truth of the litigant's affidavit. The current tax declaration, if any, shall be
Such exemption shall include exemption from payment of fees for filing appeal attached to the litigant's affidavit.
bond, printed record and printed brief.
Any falsity in the affidavit of litigant or disinterested person shall be sufficient
The legal fees shall be a lien on the monetary or property judgment rendered in cause to dismiss the complaint or action or to strike out the pleading of that
favor of the pauper-litigant. party, without prejudice to whatever criminal liability may have been incurred.
(Emphasis supplied.)
To be entitled to the exemption herein provided, the pauper-litigant shall execute
an affidavit that he does not earn the gross income abovementioned, nor own Amendments to Rule 141 (including the amendment to Rule 141, Section 18)
any real property with the assessed value afore-mentioned [sic], supported by were made to implement RA 9227 which brought about new increases in filing
a certification to that effect by the provincial, city or town assessor or treasurer. fees. Specifically, in the August 16, 2004 amendment, the ceiling for the gross
income of litigants applying for exemption and that of their immediate family was
When the Rules of Court on Civil Procedure were amended by the 1997 Rules increased from PhP 4,000.00 a month in Metro Manila and PhP 3,000.00 a
of Civil Procedure (inclusive of Rules 1 to 71) in Supreme Court Resolution in month outside Metro Manila, to double the monthly minimum wage of an
Bar Matter No. 803 dated April 8, 1997, which became effective on July 1, 1997, employee; and the maximum value of the property owned by the applicant was
Rule 3, Section 22 of the Revised Rules of Court was superseded by Rule 3, increased from an assessed value of PhP 50,000.00 to a maximum market
Section 21 of said 1997 Rules of Civil Procedure, as follows: value of PhP 300,000.00, to be able to accommodate more indigent litigants and
promote easier access to justice by the poor and the marginalized in the wake
Section 21. Indigent party.—A party may be authorized to litigate his action, of these new increases in filing fees.
claim or defense as an indigent if the court, upon an ex parte application and
hearing, is satisfied that the party is one who has no money or property sufficient Even if there was an amendment to Rule 141 on August 16, 2004, there was
and available for food, shelter and basic necessities for himself and his family. still no amendment or recall of Rule 3, Section 21 on indigent litigants.

Such authority shall include an exemption from payment of docket and other With this historical backdrop, let us now move on to the sole issue—whether
lawful fees, and of transcripts of stenographic notes which the court may order petitioners are exempt from the payment of filing fees.
to be furnished him. The amount of the docket and other lawful fees which the
indigent was exempted from paying shall be a lien on any judgment rendered in It is undisputed that the Complaint (Civil Case No. 99-4403) was filed on
the case favorable to the indigent, unless the court otherwise provides. September 1, 1999. However, the Naga City RTC, in its April 14, 2000 and July
17, 2000 Orders, incorrectly applied Rule 141, Section 18 on Legal Fees when
Any adverse party may contest the grant of such authority at any time before the applicable rules at that time were Rule 3, Section 21 on Indigent Party which
judgment is rendered by the trial court. If the court should determine after took effect on July 1, 1997 and Rule 141, Section 16 on Pauper Litigants which
hearing that the party declared as an indigent is in fact a person with sufficient became effective on July 19, 1984 up to February 28, 2000.
income or property, the proper docket and other lawful fees shall be assessed
and collected by the clerk of court. If payment is not made within the time fixed The old Section 16, Rule 141 requires applicants to file an ex-parte motion to
by the court, execution shall issue for the payment thereof, without prejudice to litigate as a pauper litigant by submitting an affidavit that they do not have a
such other sanctions as the court may impose. gross income of PhP 2,000.00 a month or PhP 24,000.00 a year for those
residing in Metro Manila and PhP 1,500.00 a month or PhP 18,000.00 a year for
At the time the Rules on Civil Procedure were amended by the Court in Bar those residing outside Metro Manila or those who do not own real property with
Matter No. 803, however, there was no amendment made on Rule 141, Section an assessed value of not more than PhP 24,000.00 or not more than PhP
16 on pauper litigants. 18,000.00 as the case may be. Thus, there are two requirements: a) income
requirement—the applicants should not have a gross monthly income of more
On March 1, 2000, Rule 141 on Legal Fees was amended by the Court in A.M. than PhP 1,500.00, and b) property requirement––they should not own property
No. 00-2-01-SC, whereby certain fees were increased or adjusted. In this with an assessed value of not more than PhP 18,000.00.
Resolution, the Court amended Section 16 of Rule 141, making it Section 18,
which now reads: In the case at bar, petitioners Alguras submitted the Affidavits of petitioner
Lorencita Algura and neighbor Erlinda Bangate, the pay slip of petitioner Antonio
Section 18. Pauper-litigants exempt from payment of legal fees.—Pauper F. Algura showing a gross monthly income of PhP 10,474.00,21 and a
litigants (a) whose gross income and that of their immediate family do not Certification of the Naga City assessor stating that petitioners do not have
exceed four thousand (P4,000.00) pesos a month if residing in Metro Manila, property declared in their names for taxation.22 Undoubtedly, petitioners do not
and three thousand (P3,000.00) pesos a month if residing outside Metro Manila, own real property as shown by the Certification of the Naga City assessor and
and (b) who do not own real property with an assessed value of more than fifty so the property requirement is met. However with respect to the income
thousand (P50,000.00) pesos shall be exempt from the payment of legal fees. requirement, it is clear that the gross monthly income of PhP 10,474.00 of
petitioner Antonio F. Algura and the PhP 3,000.00 income of Lorencita Algura
The legal fees shall be a lien on any judgment rendered in the case favorably to when combined, were above the PhP 1,500.00 monthly income threshold
the pauper litigant, unless the court otherwise provides. prescribed by then Rule 141, Section 16 and therefore, the income requirement
was not satisfied. The trial court was therefore correct in disqualifying petitioners
To be entitled to the exemption herein provided, the litigant shall execute an Alguras as indigent litigants although the court should have applied Rule 141,
affidavit that he and his immediate family do not earn the gross income Section 16 which was in effect at the time of the filing of the application on
abovementioned, nor do they own any real property with the assessed value September 1, 1999. Even if Rule 141, Section 18 (which superseded Rule 141,
aforementioned, supported by an affidavit of a disinterested person attesting to Section 16 on March 1, 2000) were applied, still the application could not have
the truth of the litigant's affidavit. been granted as the combined PhP 13,474.00 income of petitioners was beyond
the PhP 3,000.00 monthly income threshold.
Any falsity in the affidavit of a litigant or disinterested person shall be sufficient
cause to strike out the pleading of that party, without prejudice to whatever Unrelenting, petitioners however argue in their Motion for Reconsideration of
criminal liability may have been incurred. the April 14, 2000 Order disqualifying them as indigent litigants23 that the rules
have been relaxed by relying on Rule 3, Section 21 of the 1997 Rules of Civil
It can be readily seen that the rule on pauper litigants was inserted in Rule 141 procedure which authorizes parties to litigate their action as indigents if the court
without revoking or amending Section 21 of Rule 3, which provides for the is satisfied that the party is "one who has no money or property sufficient and
exemption of pauper litigants from payment of filing fees. Thus, on March 1, available for food, shelter and basic necessities for himself and his family." The
2000, there were two existing rules on pauper litigants; namely, Rule 3, Section trial court did not give credence to this view of petitioners and simply applied
21 and Rule 141, Section 18. Rule 141 but ignored Rule 3, Section 21 on Indigent Party.

On August 16, 2004, Section 18 of Rule 141 was further amended in The position of petitioners on the need to use Rule 3, Section 21 on their
Administrative Matter No. 04-2-04-SC, which became effective on the same application to litigate as indigent litigants brings to the fore the issue on whether
date. It then became Section 19 of Rule 141, to wit: a trial court has to apply both Rule 141, Section 16 and Rule 3, Section 21 on
such applications or should the court apply only Rule 141, Section 16 and

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discard Rule 3, Section 21 as having been superseded by Rule 141, Section 16 prescribed fees shall be made, without prejudice to such other sanctions as the
on Legal Fees. court may impose.

The Court rules that Rule 3, Section 21 and Rule 141, Section 16 (later amended The Court concedes that Rule 141, Section 19 provides specific standards while
as Rule 141, Section 18 on March 1, 2000 and subsequently amended by Rule Rule 3, Section 21 does not clearly draw the limits of the entitlement to the
141, Section 19 on August 16, 2003, which is now the present rule) are still valid exemption. Knowing that the litigants may abuse the grant of authority, the trial
and enforceable rules on indigent litigants. court must use sound discretion and scrutinize evidence strictly in granting
exemptions, aware that the applicant has not hurdled the precise standards
For one, the history of the two seemingly conflicting rules readily reveals that it under Rule 141. The trial court must also guard against abuse and misuse of
was not the intent of the Court to consider the old Section 22 of Rule 3, which the privilege to litigate as an indigent litigant to prevent the filing of exorbitant
took effect on January 1, 1994 to have been amended and superseded by Rule claims which would otherwise be regulated by a legal fee requirement.
141, Section 16, which took effect on July 19, 1984 through A.M. No. 83-6-389-
0. If that is the case, then the Supreme Court, upon the recommendation of the Thus, the trial court should have applied Rule 3, Section 21 to the application of
Committee on the Revision on Rules, could have already deleted Section 22 the Alguras after their affidavits and supporting documents showed that
from Rule 3 when it amended Rules 1 to 71 and approved the 1997 Rules of petitioners did not satisfy the twin requirements on gross monthly income and
Civil Procedure, which took effect on July 1, 1997. The fact that Section 22 which ownership of real property under Rule 141. Instead of disqualifying the Alguras
became Rule 3, Section 21 on indigent litigant was retained in the rules of as indigent litigants, the trial court should have called a hearing as required by
procedure, even elaborating on the meaning of an indigent party, and was also Rule 3, Section 21 to enable the petitioners to adduce evidence to show that
strengthened by the addition of a third paragraph on the right to contest the they didn't have property and money sufficient and available for food, shelter,
grant of authority to litigate only goes to show that there was no intent at all to and basic necessities for them and their family.27 In that hearing, the
consider said rule as expunged from the 1997 Rules of Civil Procedure. respondents would have had the right to also present evidence to refute the
allegations and evidence in support of the application of the petitioners to litigate
Furthermore, Rule 141 on indigent litigants was amended twice: first on March as indigent litigants. Since this Court is not a trier of facts, it will have to remand
1, 2000 and the second on August 16, 2004; and yet, despite these two the case to the trial court to determine whether petitioners can be considered as
amendments, there was no attempt to delete Section 21 from said Rule 3. This indigent litigants using the standards set in Rule 3, Section 21.
clearly evinces the desire of the Court to maintain the two (2) rules on indigent
litigants to cover applications to litigate as an indigent litigant. Recapitulating the rules on indigent litigants, therefore, if the applicant for
exemption meets the salary and property requirements under Section 19 of Rule
It may be argued that Rule 3, Section 21 has been impliedly repealed by the 141, then the grant of the application is mandatory. On the other hand, when
recent 2000 and 2004 amendments to Rule 141 on legal fees. This position is the application does not satisfy one or both requirements, then the application
bereft of merit. Implied repeals are frowned upon unless the intent of the framers should not be denied outright; instead, the court should apply the "indigency
of the rules is unequivocal. It has been consistently ruled that: test" under Section 21 of Rule 3 and use its sound discretion in determining the
merits of the prayer for exemption.
(r)epeals by implication are not favored, and will not be decreed, unless it is
manifest that the legislature so intended. As laws are presumed to be passed Access to justice by the impoverished is held sacrosanct under Article III,
with deliberation and with full knowledge of all existing ones on the subject, it is Section 11 of the 1987 Constitution. The Action Program for Judicial Reforms
but reasonable to conclude that in passing a statute[,] it was not intended to (APJR) itself, initiated by former Chief Justice Hilario G. Davide, Jr., placed
interfere with or abrogate any former law relating to same matter, unless the prime importance on 'easy access to justice by the poor' as one of its six major
repugnancy between the two is not only irreconcilable, but also clear and components. Likewise, the judicial philosophy of Liberty and Prosperity of Chief
convincing, and flowing necessarily from the language used, unless the later act Justice Artemio V. Panganiban makes it imperative that the courts shall not only
fully embraces the subject matter of the earlier, or unless the reason for the safeguard but also enhance the rights of individuals—which are considered
earlier act is beyond peradventure removed. Hence, every effort must be used sacred under the 1987 Constitution. Without doubt, one of the most precious
to make all acts stand and if, by any reasonable construction they can be rights which must be shielded and secured is the unhampered access to the
reconciled, the later act will not operate as a repeal of the earlier.24 (Emphasis justice system by the poor, the underprivileged, and the marginalized.
supplied).
WHEREFORE, the petition is GRANTED and the April 14, 2000 Order granting
Instead of declaring that Rule 3, Section 21 has been superseded and impliedly the disqualification of petitioners, the July 17, 2000 Order denying petitioners'
amended by Section 18 and later Section 19 of Rule 141, the Court finds that Motion for Reconsideration, and the September 11, 2001 Order dismissing the
the two rules can and should be harmonized. case in Civil Case No. RTC-99-4403 before the Naga City RTC, Branch 27 are
ANNULLED and SET ASIDE. Furthermore, the Naga City RTC is ordered to set
The Court opts to reconcile Rule 3, Section 21 and Rule 141, Section 19 the "Ex-Parte Motion to Litigate as Indigent Litigants" for hearing and apply Rule
because it is a settled principle that when conflicts are seen between two 3, Section 21 of the 1997 Rules of Civil Procedure to determine whether
provisions, all efforts must be made to harmonize them. Hence, "every statute petitioners can qualify as indigent litigants.
[or rule] must be so construed and harmonized with other statutes [or rules] as
to form a uniform system of jurisprudence."25 No costs.

In Manila Jockey Club, Inc. v. Court of Appeals, this Court enunciated that in the SO ORDERED.
interpretation of seemingly conflicting laws, efforts must be made to first
harmonize them. This Court thus ruled: Quisumbing, J., Chairperson, Carpio, Carpio Morales, and Tinga, JJ., concur.

Consequently, every statute should be construed in such a way that will


harmonize it with existing laws. This principle is expressed in the legal maxim
'interpretare et concordare leges legibus est optimus interpretandi,' that is, to Republic of the Philippines
interpret and to do it in such a way as to harmonize laws with laws is the best SUPREME COURT
method of interpretation.26 Manila

In the light of the foregoing considerations, therefore, the two (2) rules can stand EN BANC
together and are compatible with each other. When an application to litigate as
an indigent litigant is filed, the court shall scrutinize the affidavits and supporting A.M. No. 11-10-03-O July 30, 2013
documents submitted by the applicant to determine if the applicant complies
with the income and property standards prescribed in the present Section 19 of RE: LETTER DATED APRIL 18, 2011 OF CHIEF PUBLIC ATTORNEY
Rule 141—that is, the applicant's gross income and that of the applicant's PERSIDA RUEDA-COSTA REQUESTING EXEMPTION FROM THE
immediate family do not exceed an amount double the monthly minimum wage PAYMENT OF SHERIFF'S EXPENSES
of an employee; and the applicant does not own real property with a fair market
value of more than Three Hundred Thousand Pesos (PhP 300,000.00). If the RESOLUTION
trial court finds that the applicant meets the income and property requirements,
the authority to litigate as indigent litigant is automatically granted and the grant REYES, J.:
is a matter of right.
This case stemmed from the February 7, 2011 letter1 of Attorney Persida V.
However, if the trial court finds that one or both requirements have not been Rueda-Acosta (Atty. Acosta), Chief Public Attorney of the Public Attorney's
met, then it would set a hearing to enable the applicant to prove that the Office (PAO), to the Office of the Court Administrator (OCA). In the said letter,
applicant has "no money or property sufficient and available for food, shelter Atty. Acosta sought a clarification as to the exemption of PAO's clients from the
and basic necessities for himself and his family." In that hearing, the adverse payment of sheriffs expenses, alleging that PAO's clients in its Regional Office
party may adduce countervailing evidence to disprove the evidence presented in Region VII are being charged with the payment of sheriff’s expenses in the
by the applicant; after which the trial court will rule on the application depending amount of ₱1,000.00 upon the filing of a civil action in court. She claimed that
on the evidence adduced. In addition, Section 21 of Rule 3 also provides that sheriff’s expenses should not be exacted from PAO’s clients since Section 6 of
the adverse party may later still contest the grant of such authority at any time Republic Act No. 94062 (R.A. No. 9406) specifically exempts them from the
before judgment is rendered by the trial court, possibly based on newly payment of docket and other fees incidental to instituting an action in court and
discovered evidence not obtained at the time the application was heard. If the other quasi-judicial bodies.
court determines after hearing, that the party declared as an indigent is in fact a
person with sufficient income or property, the proper docket and other lawful In its letter3 dated March 23, 2011 to Atty. Acosta, the OCA clarified that PAO’s
fees shall be assessed and collected by the clerk of court. If payment is not clients, notwithstanding their exemption under Section 6 of R.A. No. 9406 from
made within the time fixed by the court, execution shall issue or the payment of payment of "docket and other fees incidental to instituting an action in court,"
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are not exempted from the payment of sheriff’s expenses. The OCA explained the National Treasury as trust fund and shall be disbursed for special
that sheriff’s expenses, strictly speaking, are not considered as "legal fees" allowances of authorized officials and lawyers of the PAO. (Emphasis ours)
under Rule 141 of the Rules of Court since they are not payable to the
government; they are payable to the sheriff/process server to defray his travel The OCA maintains that sheriff’s expenses are not covered by the exemption
expenses in serving court processes in relation to the litigant’s case. granted to PAO’s clients under R.A. No. 9406 since the same are not considered
as a legal fee under Rule 141 of the Rules of Court. Stated differently, the OCA
In her letter4 dated April 18, 2011 to the OCA, Atty. Acosta maintained that, asserts that the exemption provided for under R.A. No. 9406 only covers the
while sheriff’s expenses may not be strictly considered as a legal fee, they are legal fees enumerated under Rule 141 of the Rules of Court.
nevertheless considered as a fee which is incidental to the filing of an action in
court and, hence, should not be exacted from PAO’s clients. She pointed out The court agrees.
that the imposition of sheriff’s expenses on PAO’s clients would render the
latter’s exemption from payment of docket and other fees under Section 6 of It is a well-settled principle of legal hermeneutics that words of a statute will be
R.A. No. 9406 nugatory. Considering that the matter involves an interpretation interpreted in their natural, plain and ordinary acceptation and signification,
of R.A. No. 9406, Atty. Acosta requested that the same be referred to the Court unless it is evident that the legislature intended a technical or special legal
en banc for resolution. meaning to those words. The intention of the lawmakers–who are, ordinarily,
untrained philologists and lexicographers–to use statutory phraseology in such
In its report and recommendation5 dated September 14, 2011, the OCA a manner is always presumed.14
maintained its position that PAO’s clients are not exempted from the payment
of sheriff’s expenses; it stressed that the ₱1,000.00 sheriff’s expenses are not That Section 6 of R.A. No. 9406 exempts PAO’s clients from the payment of
the same as the sheriff’s fee fixed by Section 10, Rule 141 of the Rules of Court "docket and other fees incidental to instituting an action in court and other quasi-
and, hence, not covered by the exemption granted to PAO’s clients under R.A. judicial bodies" is beyond cavil. However, contrary to Atty. Acosta’s claim, a
No. 9406. The OCA further alleged that the grant of exemption to PAO’s clients plain reading of the said provision clearly shows that the exemption granted to
from the payment of sheriff’s expenses amounts to disbursement of public funds PAO’s clients cannot be extended to the payment of sheriff’s expenses; the
for the protection of private interests. Accordingly, the OCA recommended that exemption is specifically limited to the payment of fees, i.e., docket and other
Atty. Acosta’s request for exemption of PAO’s clients from payment of sheriff’s fees incidental to instituting an action.
expenses be denied.
The term "fees" is defined as a charge fixed by law or by an institution for certain
Adopting the recommendation of the OCA, the Court en banc issued privileges or services.15 Viewed from this context, the phrase "docket and other
Resolution6 dated November 22, 2011 which denied Atty. Acosta’s request for fees incidental to instituting an action" refers to the totality of the legal fees
exemption from the payment of sheriff’s expenses. imposed under Rule 14116 of the Rules of Court. In particular, it includes filing
or docket fees, appeal fees, fees for issuance of provisional remedies, mediation
On January 2, 2012, Atty. Acosta sought a reconsideration7 of the Court’s fees, sheriff’s fees, stenographer’s fees and commissioner’s fees.17 These are
Resolution dated November 22, 2011, which the Court en banc referred to the the fees that are exacted for the services rendered by the court in connection
OCA for appropriate action. In its report and recommendation8 dated March 22, with the action instituted before it.
2012, the OCA averred that the exemption of PAO’s clients from payment of
legal fees is not an absolute rule and that the Court is not precluded from Sheriff’s expenses, however, cannot be classified as a "fee" within the purview
providing limitations thereto. Thus, the OCA recommended the denial of Atty. of the exemption granted to PAO’s clients under Section 6 of R.A. No. 9406.
Acosta’s motion for reconsideration. Sheriff’s expenses are provided for under Section 10, Rule 141 of the Rules of
Court, viz:
On April 24, 2012, the Court en banc issued a Resolution9 which denied the
Motion for Reconsideration filed by Atty. Acosta. Sec. 10. Sheriffs, PROCESS SERVERS and other persons serving processes.–

Unperturbed, Atty. Acosta filed a motion for leave to file a second motion for xxxx
reconsideration10 and a Second Motion for Reconsideration11 of the Court’s
Resolution dated April 24, 2012, alleging that the imposition of sheriff’s In addition to the fees hereinabove fixed, the amount of ONE THOUSAND
expenses on PAO’s clients is contrary to the language, intent and spirit of (₱1,000.00) PESOS shall be deposited with the Clerk of Court upon filing of the
Section 6 of R.A. No. 9406 since sheriff’s expenses are considered as fees complaint to defray the actual travel expenses of the sheriff, process server or
"incidental to instituting an action in court." Further, she claimed that the said other court-authorized persons in the service of summons, subpoena and other
imposition on PAO’s clients would hinder their access to the courts contrary to court processes that would be issued relative to the trial of the case. In case the
the mandate of Section 11, Article III of the Constitution. initial deposit of ONE THOUSAND (₱1,000.00) PESOS is not sufficient, then
the plaintiff or petitioner shall be required to make an additional deposit. The
After a conscientious review of the contrasting legal disquisitions set forth in this sheriff, process server or other court authorized person shall submit to the court
case, the Court still finds the instant petition devoid of merit. for its approval a statement of the estimated travel expenses for service of
summons and court processes. Once approved, the Clerk of Court shall release
At the outset, it bears stressing that this is already the third attempt of Atty. the money to said sheriff or process server. After service, a statement of
Acosta to obtain from this Court a declaration exempting PAO’s clients from the liquidation shall be submitted to the court for approval. After rendition of
payment of sheriff’s fees – the initial request therefor and the subsequent motion judgment by the court, any excess from the deposit shall be returned to the party
for reconsideration having been denied by this Court. who made the deposit. x x x x (Emphasis ours)

As a rule, a second motion for reconsideration is a prohibited pleading.12 This Sheriff’s expenses are not exacted for any service rendered by the court; they
rule, however, is not cast in stone. A second motion for reconsideration may be are the amount deposited to the Clerk of Court upon filing of the complaint to
allowed if there are extraordinarily persuasive reasons therefor, and upon defray the actual travel expenses of the sheriff, process server or other court-
express leave of court first obtained.13 authorized persons in the service of summons, subpoena and other court
processes that would be issued relative to the trial of the case. It is not the same
Ordinarily, the Court would have dismissed outright Atty. Acosta’s second as sheriff’s fees under Section 10,18 Rule 141 of the Rules of Court, which
motion for reconsideration. However, for reasons to be discussed at length later, refers to those imposed by the court for services rendered to a party incident to
there is a need to give due course to the instant petition in order to reassess the proceedings before it.
and clarify the Court’s pronouncement in our Resolutions dated November 22,
2011 and April 24, 2012. Thus, in In Re: Exemption of Cooperatives from Payment of Court and Sheriff’s
Fees Payable to the Government in Actions Brought Under R.A. 6938,19 the
In any case, it bears stressing that what is involved in this case is the Court’s Court clarified that sheriff’s expenses are not considered as legal fees,
administrative power to determine its policy vis-à-vis the exaction of legal fees ratiocinating that:
from the litigants. The Court’s policy determination respecting administrative
matters must not be unnecessarily bound by procedural considerations. Surely, The difference in the treatment between the sheriff’s fees and the sheriff’s
a rule of procedure may not debilitate the Court and render inutile its power of expenses in relation with the exemption enjoyed by cooperatives is further
administration and supervision over court procedures. demonstrated by the wording of Section 10, Rule 141, which uses "fees" in
delineating the enumeration in the first paragraph, and "expenses" in qualifying
At the core of this case is the proper interpretation of Section 6 of R.A. No. 9406 the subsequent paragraphs of this provision. The intention to make a distinction
which, in part, reads: between the two charges is clear; otherwise, the Rules would not have used
different designations. Likewise, the difference between the two terms is
Sec. 6. New sections are hereby inserted in Chapter 5, Title III, Book IV of highlighted by a consideration of the phraseology in the first sentence of the
Executive Order No. 292, to read as follows: second paragraph of Section 10, Rule 141, which uses the clause "in addition
to the fees hereinabove fixed," thereby unequivocally indicating that sheriff’s
xxxx expenses are separate charges on top of the sheriff’s fees. (Italics supplied)

Sec. 16-D. Exemption from Fees and Costs of the Suit – The clients of PAO The Court, however, is not unmindful of the predicament of PAO’s clients. In
shall be exempt from payment of docket and other fees incidental to instituting exempting PAO’s clients from paying docket and other legal fees, R.A. No. 9406
an action in court and other quasi-judicial bodies, as an original proceeding or intended to ensure that the indigents and the less privileged, who do not have
on appeal. the means to pay the said fees, would not be denied access to courts by reason
of poverty. Indeed, requiring PAO’s clients to pay sheriff’s expenses, despite
The costs of the suit, attorney’s fees and contingent fees imposed upon the their exemption from the payment of docket and other legal fees, would effectly
adversary of the PAO clients after a successful litigation shall be deposited in fetter their free access to the courts thereby negating the laudable intent of
Congress in enacting R.A. No. 9406.
Page 4 of 34
Command (PSC), charging petitioner, who was then Secretary and Head of the
Free access to the courts and adequate legal assistance are among the Department of Public Information, with alleged violations of Republic Act No.
fundamental rights which the Constitution extends to the less privileged. Thus, 3019, otherwise known as the Anti-Graft and Corrupt Practices Act. Apparently,
Section 11, Article III of the 1987 Constitution mandates that "free access to the no action was taken on said report.
courts and quasi-judicial bodies and adequate legal assistance shall not be
denied to any person by reason of poverty." The Constitution affords litigants— Then, in October 1979, or five years later, it became publicly known that
moneyed or poor—equal access to the courts; moreover, it specifically provides petitioner had submitted his resignation as Minister of Public Information, and
that poverty shall not bar any person from having access to the courts. two months after, or on December 12, 1979, Antonio de los Reyes filed a
Accordingly, laws and rules must be formulated, interpreted, and implemented complaint with the Tanodbayan (TBP Case No. 8005-16-07) against the
pursuant to the intent and spirit of this constitutional provision.20 petitioner, accusing him of graft and corrupt practices in the conduct of his office
as then Secretary of Public Information. The complaint repeated the charges
Access to justice by all, especially by the poor, is not simply an ideal in our embodied in the previous report filed by complainant before the Legal Panel,
society. Its existence is essential in a democracy and in the rule of law.21 Presidential Security Command (PSC).
Without doubt, one of the most precious rights which must be shielded and
secured is the unhampered access to the justice system by the poor, the On January 26, 1980, the resignation of petitioner was accepted by President
underprivileged and the marginalized.22 Ferdinand E. Marcos. On April 1, 1980, the Tanodbayan referred the complaint
of Antonio de los Reyes to the Criminal Investigation Service (CIS) for fact-
Having the foregoing principles in mind, the Court, heeding the constitutional finding investigation. On June 16, 1980, Roberto P. Dizon, CIS Investigator of
mandate of ensuring free access to the courts and adequate legal assistance to the Investigation and Legal Panel, PSC, submitted his Investigation Report, with
the marginalized and less privileged, hereby authorizes the officials and the following conclusion, ". . . evidence gathered indicates that former Min.
employees of PAO to serve summons, subpoena and other court processes TATAD have violated Sec. 3 (e) and Sec. 7 of RA 3019, respectively. On the
pursuant to Section 3,23 Rule 14 of the Rules of Court. The authority given other hand, Mr. ANTONIO L. CANTERO is also liable under Sec. 5 of RA 3019,"
herein by the Court to the officials and employees of PAO shall be limited only and recommended appropriate legal action on the matter.
to cases involving their client.1âwphi1
Petitioner moved to dismiss the complaint against him, claiming immunity from
Authorizing the officials and employees of P AO to serve the summons, prosecution by virtue of PD 1791, but the motion was denied on July 26, 1982
subpoenas and other court processes in behalf of their clients would relieve the and his motion for reconsideration was also denied on October 5, 1982. On
latter from the burden of paying for the sheriff's expenses despite their non- October 25, 1982, all affidavits and counter-affidavits were with the Tanodbayan
exemption from the payment thereof under Section 6 of R.A. No. 9406. The for final disposition. On July 5, 1985, the Tanodbayan approved a resolution,
amount to be defrayed in the service of summons, subpoena and other court dated April 1, 1985, prepared by Special Prosecutor Marina Buzon,
processes in behalf of its clients would consequently have to be taken from the recommending that the following informations be filed against petitioner before
operating expenses of P AO. In turn, the amount advanced by PAO as actual the Sandiganbayan, to wit:
travel expenses may be taken from the amount recovered from the adversaries
of PAO's clients as costs of suit, attorney's fees or contingent fees prior to the l. Violation of Section 3, paragraph (e) of RA. 3019 for giving D' Group, a private
deposit thereof in the National Treasury. corporation controlled by his brother-in-law, unwarranted benefits, advantage or
preference in the discharge of his official functions through manifest partiality
WHEREFORE, in consideration of the foregoing disquisitions, the Second and evident bad faith;
Motion for Reconsideration filed by Atty. Persida V. Rueda-Acosta is DENIED.
The Court's Resolutions dated November 22, 2011 and April 24, 2012 are 2. Violation of Section 3, paragraph (b) of RA. 3019 for receiving a check of
hereby AFFIRMED. The request of Atty. Persida V. RuedaAcosta for the P125,000.00 from Roberto Vallar, President/General Manager of Amity Trading
exemption of the clients of the Public Attorney's Office from the payment of Corporation as consideration for the release of a check of P588,000.00 to said
sheriff's expenses is DENIED. corporation for printing services rendered for the Constitutional Convention
Referendum in 1973;
Nevertheless, the officials and employees of the Public Attorney's Office are
hereby AUTHORIZED to serve summons, subpoenas and other court 3. Violation of Section 7 of RA. 3019 on three (3) counts for his failure to file his
processes in behalf of their clients pursuant to Section 3, Rule 14 of the Rules Statement of Assets and Liabilities for the calendar years 1973, 1976 and 1978.
of Court, in coordination with the concerned court. The amount to be defrayed
in serving the summons, subpoenas and other court processes could Accordingly, on June 12, 1985, the following informations were flied with the
Sandiganbayan against the petitioner:
be taken from the operating expenses of the Public Attorney's Office which, in
turn, may be taken from the amount recovered by it from the adversaries of Re: Criminal Case No. 10499
PAO's clients as costs of suit, attorney's fees or contingent fees prior to the
deposit thereof in the National Treasury, or damages that said clients may be The undersigned Tanodbayan Special Prosecutor accuses Francisco S. Tatad
decreed as entitled to in case of the success of P AO' s indigent clients. with Violation of Section 3, paragraph (b) of Republic Act No. 3019, otherwise
known as the Anti-Graft and Corrupt Practices Act, committed as follows:
SO ORDERED.
That on or about the 16th day of July, 1973 in the City of Manila, Philippines,
BIENVENIDO L. REYES and within the jurisdiction of this Honorable Court, the above- named accused,
Associate Justice being then the Secretary of the Department (now Ministry) of Public Information,
did then and there, wilfully and unlawfully demand and receive a check for
Pl25,000.00 from Roberto Vallar, President/General Manager of Amity Trading
Corporation as consideration for the payment to said Corporation of the sum of
SPEEDY DISPOSITION OF CASES P588,000.00, for printing services rendered for the Constitutional Convention
Referendum of January, 1973, wherein the accused in his official capacity had
to intervene under the law in the release of the funds for said project.
Republic of the Philippines
SUPREME COURT That the complaint against the above-named accused was filed with the Office
Manila of the Tanodbayan on May 16, 1980.

EN BANC CONTRARY TO LAW.

G.R. No. 72335-39 March 21, 1988 Re: Criminal Case No. 10500

FRANCISCO S. TATAD, petitioner, The undersigned Tanodbayan Special Prosecutor accuses FRANCISCO S.
vs. TATAD with Violation of Section 7 of Republic Act No. 3019, otherwise known
THE SANDIGANBAYAN, and THE TANODBAYAN, respondents. as the Anti-Graft and Corrupt Practice Act, committed as follows:

That on or about the 31st day of January, 1974 in the City of Manila, Philippines,
and within the jurisdiction of this Honorable Court, the above- named accused,
YAP, J.:
a public officer being then the Secretary of the Department (now Ministry) of
Public Information, did then and there wilfully and unlawfully fail to prepare and
In this petition for certiorari and prohibition, with preliminary injunction, dated
file with the Office of the President, a true detailed and sworn statement of his
October 16, 1985, petitioner seeks to annul and set aside the resolution of the
assets and liabilities, as of December 31, 1973, including a statement of the
Tanodbayan of April 7, 1985, and the resolutions of the Sandiganbayan, dated
amounts and sources of his income, the amounts of his personal and family
August 9, 1985, August 12,1985 and September 17, 1985, and to enjoin the
Tanodbayan and the Sandiganbayan from continuing with the trial or any other expenses and the amount of income taxes paid for the next preceding calendar
proceedings in Criminal Cases Nos. 10499, 10500, 10501, 10502 and 10503, year (1973), as required of every public officer.
an entitled "People of the Philippines versus Francisco S. Tatad."
That the complaint against the above-named accused was flied with the Office
of the Tanodbayan on June 20, 1980.
The petition alleges, among other things, that sometime in October 1974,
Antonio de los Reyes, former Head Executive Assistant of the then Department
CONTRARY TO LAW.
of Public Information (DPI) and Assistant Officer-in-Charge of the Bureau of
Broadcasts, filed a formal report with the Legal Panel, Presidential Security
Re: Criminal Case No. 10501
Page 5 of 34
On July 26, 1985, the Tanodbayan filed its opposition to petitioner's
The undersigned Tanodbayan Special Prosecutor accuses FRANCISCO S. consolidated motion to quash, stating therein in particular that there were only
TATAD with Violation of Section 3, paragraph (e) of Republic Act No. 3019, two grounds in said motion that needed refutation, namely:
otherwise known as the Anti-Graft and Corrupt Practices Act, committed as
follows: 1. The offense charged in Criminal Cases Nos. 10499,10500 and 10501, have
already prescribed and criminal liability is extinguished; and
That on or about the month of May, 1975 and for sometime prior thereto, in the
City of Manila, Philippines, and within the jurisdiction of this Honorable Court, 2. The facts charged in the information (Criminal Case No. 10500 —
the above-named accused, a public officer being then the Secretary of the For failure to file Statement of Assets and Liabilities for the year 1973) do not
Department (now Ministry) of Public Information, did then and there, wilfully and constitute an offense.
unlawfully give Marketing Communication Group, Inc. (D' Group), a private
corporation of which his brother-in-law, Antonio L. Cantero, is the President, On the issue of prescription, Tanodbayan citing the case of Francisco vs. Court
unwarranted benefits, advantage or preference in the discharge of his official of Appeals, 122 SCRA 538, contended that the filing of the complaint or
functions, through manifest partiality and evident bad faith, by allowing the denuncia in the fiscal's office interrupts the period of prescription. Since the
transfer of D' GROUP of the funds, assets and ownership of South East Asia above-numbered cases were filed with the Office of the Tanodbayan in 1980
Research Corporation (SEARCH), allegedly a private corporation registered and the alleged offenses were committed on July 16, 1973, January 31, 1974
with the Securities and Exchange Corporation on June 4, 1973, but whose and in May 1975, respectively, although the charges were actually filed in Court
organization and operating expenses came from the confidential funds of the only on July 9, 1985, the Tanodbayan has still the right to prosecute the same,
Department of Public Information as it was organized to undertake research, it appearing that the ten (10) year prescriptive period has not yet lapsed.
projects for the government, without requiring an accounting of the funds Moreover, Tanodbayan pointed out that a law such as Batas Pambansa Blg.
advanced by the Department of Public Information and reimbursement thereof 195, extending the period of limitation with respect to criminal prosecution,
by D' GROUP, to the damage and prejudice of the government. unless the right to acquittal has been acquired, is constitutional.

That the complaint against the above-named accused was filed with the Office Tanodbayan likewise said that the requirement for the filing of the Statement of
of the Tanodbayan on May 16, 1980. Assets and Liabilities in P.D. 379 is separate and distinct from that required
pursuant to the provisions of the Anti-Graft Law, as amended. For while the
CONTRARY TO LAW. former requires "any natural or juridical person having gross assets of
P50,000.00 or more..." to submit a statement of assets and liabilities "...
Re: Criminal Case No. 10502 regardless of the networth," the mandate in the latter law is for ALL government
employees and officials to submit a statement of assets and liabilities. Hence,
The undersigned Tanodbayan Special Prosecutor accuses FRANCISCO S. the prosecution under these two laws are separate and distinct from each other.
TATAD with Violation of Section 7 of Republic Act No. 3019, otherwise known Tanodbayan also explained that delay in the conduct of preliminary investigation
as the Anti-Graft and Corrupt Practices Act, committed as follows: does not impair the validity of the informations filed and that neither will it render
said informations defective. Finally, Tanodbayan added that P.D. 911, the law
That on or about the 31st day of January, 1977 in the City of Manila, Philippines, which governs preliminary investigations is merely directory insofar as it fixes a
and within the jurisdiction of this Honorable Court, the above-named accused, period of ten (10) days from its termination to resolve the preliminary
a public officer being then the Secretary of the Department (now Ministry) of investigation.
Public Information, did then and there wilfully and unlawfully fail to prepare and
file with the Office of the President, a true and sworn statement of his assets On August 9, 1985, the Sandiganbayan rendered its challenged resolution
and liabilities, as of December 31, 1976, including a statement of the amounts denying petitioner's motion to quash, the dispositive portion of which reads:
of his personal and family expenses and the amount of income taxes paid for
the next preceding calendar year (1976), as required of every public officer. WHEREFORE, prescinding therefrom, We find, and so hold, that the accused's
"Consolidated Motion to Quash" should be as it is hereby, denied for lack of
That the complaint against the above-named accused was filed with the Office merit. Conformably to Rule 117, Section 4 of the 1985 Rules on Criminal
of the Tanodbayan on June 20, 1988. Procedure, the defect in the information in Criminal Case No. 10500 being one
which could be cured by amendment, the Tanodbayan is hereby directed to
CONTRARY TO LAW. amend said information to change the date of the alleged commission of the
offense therein charged from January 31, 1974 to September 30, 1974 within
Re: Criminal Case No. 10503 five (5) days from receipt hereof.

The undersigned Tanodbayan Special Prosecutor accuses FRANCISCO S. SO ORDERED.


TATAD with Violation of Section 7 of Republic Act No. 3019, otherwise known
as the Anti-Graft and Corrupt Practices Act, committed as follows: On August 10, 1985, in compliance with the Sandiganbayan's resolution of
August 8, 1985, the Tanodbayan filed an amended information in Criminal Case
That on or about the 15th day of April, 1979, in the City of Manila Philippines, No. 10500, changing the date of the commission of the offense to September
and within the jurisdiction of this Honorable Court, the above-named accused, 30, 1974.
a public officer being then the Secretary of the Department (now Ministry) of
Public Information, did then and there wilfully and unlawfully fail to prepare and On August 30, 1985, petitioners filed a consolidated motion for reconsideration
file with the Office of the President, a true, detailed and sworn statement of his which was denied by the Sandiganbayan September 17, 1985. Hence,
assets and liabilities, as of December 31, 1978, including a statement of the petitioner filed this petition on October 16, 1985 assailing the denial of his motion
amounts and sources of his income, the amounts of his personal and family to quash. On October 22, 1985, the Court, without giving due course the petition,
expenses and the amount of income taxes paid for the next preceding calendar resolved to require the respondents to comment thereon and issued a
year (1978), as required of every public officer. temporary restraining order effective immediately and continuing until further
orders of the Court, enjoining the respondents Sandiganbayan and Tanodbayan
That the complaint against the above-named accused was filed with the Office from continuing with the trial and other proceedings in Criminal Cases Nos.
of the Tanodbayan on June 20, 1980. 10499, 10500, 10501, 10502 and 10503. In compliance with said resolution, the
respondents, through ,Solicitor General Estelito P. Mendoza, filed their
CONTRARY TO LAW. comment on January 6, 1986.

On July 22, 1985, petitioner filed with the Sandiganbayan a consolidated motion On April 10, 1986, the Court required the parties to move in the premises
to quash the informations on the follow grounds: considering the supervening events, including the change of administration that
had transpired, and the provisions of Sec. 18, Rule 3 of the Rules of Court,
1 The prosecution deprived accused-movant of due process of law insofar far as the Public respondents were concerned, which requires the
and of the right to a speedy disposition of the cases filed against him, amounting successor official to state whether or not he maintains the action or position
to loss of jurisdiction to file the informations; taken by his predecessor in office. On June 20, 1986, the new Tanodbayan
manifested that since "the charges are not political offenses and they have no
2. Prescription of the offenses charged in Crim. Case Nos. 10499, 10500 and political bearing whatsoever," he had no alternative but to pursue the cases
10501; against the petitioner, should the Court resolve to deny the petition; that in any
event, petitioner is not precluded from pursuing any other legal remedies under
3. The facts charged in Criminal Case No. 10500 (for failure to file the law, such as the filing of a motion for re-evaluation of his cases with the
Statement of Assets and Liabilities for the year 1973) do not constitute an Tanodbayan. The new Solicitor General filed a manifestation dated June 27,
offense; 1986 in which he concurred with the position taken by the new Tanodbayan.

4. No prima facie case against the accused-movant exists in Criminal Cases Pursuant to the above manifestation of the new Tanodbayan, the petitioner filed
Nos. 10500, 10502 and 10503; a motion for re-evaluation with the Office of the Tanodbayan, dated July 21,
1986, praying that the cases in question be re-evaluated and the informations
5. No prima facie case against the accused-movant exists in Criminal Case No. be quashed. The Court is not aware of what action, if any, has been taken
10199 for Violation of Sec. 3, par. (b) of R.A. 3019, as amended; thereon by the Tanodbayan. However, be that as it may, the filing of the
aforesaid motion for re-evaluation with the Tanodbayan has no material bearing
6. No prima facie case against the accused-movant exists in Criminal Case No. insofar as the duty of this Court to resolve the issues raised in the instant petition
10501 (for Violation of Sec. 3 (e) of R.A. 3019, as amended. is concerned.

Petitioner has raised the following issues in his petition:


Page 6 of 34
approved by the Tanodbayan, recommending the ring of the corresponding
1. Whether the prosecution's long delay in the filing of these cases with criminal informations against the accused Francisco Tatad. Five (5) criminal
the Sandiganbayan had deprived petitioner of his constitutional light to due informations were filed with the Sandiganbayan on June 12, 1985, all against
process and the right to a speedy disposition of the cases against him. petitioner Tatad alone.

2. Whether the crimes charged has already prescribed. A painstaking review of the facts can not but leave the impression that political
motivations played a vital role in activating and propelling the prosecutorial
3. Whether there is a discriminatory prosecution of the petitioner by the process in this case. Firstly, the complaint came to life, as it were, only after
Tanodbayan. petitioner Tatad had a falling out with President Marcos. Secondly, departing
from established procedures prescribed by law for preliminary investigation,
4. Whether Sandiganbayan should have ruled on the question of which require the submission of affidavits and counter-affidavits by the
amnesty raised by the petitioner. complainant and the respondent and their witnesses, the Tanodbayan referred
the complaint to the Presidential Security Command for finding investigation and
5. Whether petitioner's contention of the supposed lack or non- report.
existence of prima facie evidence to sustain the filing of the cases at bar justifies
the quashal of the questioned informations. We find such blatant departure from the established procedure as a dubious,
but revealing attempt to involve an office directly under the President in the
Petitioner claims that the Tanodbayan culpably violated the constitutional prosecutorial process, lending credence to the suspicion that the prosecution
mandate of "due process" and "speedy disposition of cases" in unduly was politically motivated. We cannot emphasize too strongly that prosecutors
prolonging the termination of the preliminary investigation and in filing the should not allow, and should avoid, giving the impression that their noble office
corresponding informations only after more than a decade from the alleged is being used or prostituted, wittingly or unwittingly, for political ends or other
commission of the purported offenses, which amounted to loss of jurisdiction purposes alien to, or subversive of, the basic and fundamental objective of
and authority to file the informations. The respondent Sandiganbayan dismissed serving the interest of justice even handedly, without fear or favor to any and all
petitioner's contention, saying that the applicability of the authorities cited by him litigants alike, whether rich or poor, weak or strong, powerless or mighty. Only
to the case at bar was "nebulous;" that it would be premature for the court to by strict adherence to the established procedure may the public's perception of
grant the "radical relief" prayed for by petitioner at this stage of the proceeding; the of the prosecutor be enhanced.
that the mere allegations of "undue delay" do not suffice to justify acceptance
thereof without any showing "as to the supposed lack or omission of any alleged Moreover, the long delay in resolving the case under preliminary investigation
procedural right granted or allowed to the respondent accused by law or can not be justified on the basis of the facts on record. The law (P.D. No. 911)
administrative fiat" or in the absence of "indubitable proof of any irregularity or prescribes a ten-day period for the prosecutor to resolve a case under
abuse" committed by the Tanodbayan in the conduct of the preliminary preliminary investigation by him from its termination. While we agree with the
investigation; that such facts and circumstances as would establish petitioner's respondent court that this period fixed by law is merely "directory," yet, on the
claim of denial of due process and other constitutionally guaranteed rights could other hand, it can not be disregarded or ignored completely, with absolute
be presented and more fully threshed out at the trial. Said the Sandiganbayan: impunity. It certainly can not be assumed that the law has included a provision
that is deliberately intended to become meaningless and to be treated as a dead
That there was a hiatus in the proceedings between the alleged termination of letter.
the proceedings before the investigating fiscal on October 25, 1982 and its
resolution on April 17, 1985 could have been due to certain factors which do not We find the long delay in the termination of the preliminary investigation by the
appear on record and which both parties did not bother to explain or elaborate Tanodbayan in the instant case to be violative of the constitutional right of the
upon in detail. It could even be logically inferred that the delay may be due to a accused to due process. Substantial adherence to the requirements of the law
painstaking an gruelling scrutiny by the Tanodbayan as to whether the evidence governing the conduct of preliminary investigation, including substantial
presented during the preliminary investigation merited prosecution of a former compliance with the time limitation prescribed by the law for the resolution of the
high-ranking government official. In this respect, We are the considered opinion case by the prosecutor, is part of the procedural due process constitutionally
that the provision of Pres. Decree No. 911, as amended, regarding the guaranteed by the fundamental law. Not only under the broad umbrella of the
resolution of a complaint by the Tanodbayan within ten (10) days from due process clause, but under the constitutional guarantee of "speedy
termination of the preliminary investigation is merely "directory" in nature, in view disposition" of cases as embodied in Section 16 of the Bill of Rights (both in the
of the nature and extent of the proceedings in said office. 1973 and the 1987 Constitutions), the inordinate delay is violative of the
petitioner's constitutional rights. A delay of close to three (3) years can not be
The statutory grounds for the quashal of an information are clearly set forth in deemed reasonable or justifiable in the light of the circumstance obtaining in the
concise language in Rule 117, Section 2, of the 1985 Rules on Criminal case at bar. We are not impressed by the attempt of the Sandiganbayan to
Procedure and no other grounds for quashal may be entertained by the Court sanitize the long delay by indulging in the speculative assumption that "the delay
prior to arraignment inasmuch as it would be itself remiss in the performance of may be due to a painstaking and gruelling scrutiny by the Tanodbayan as to
its official functions and subject to the charge that it has gravely abused its whether the evidence presented during the preliminary investigation merited
discretion. Such facts and circumstances which could otherwise justify the prosecution of a former high ranking government official." In the first place, such
dismissal of the case, such as failure on the part of the prosecution to comply a statement suggests a double standard of treatment, which must be
with due process or any other constitutionally-guaranteed rights may presented emphatically rejected. Secondly, three out of the five charges against the
during the trial wherein evidence for and against the issue involved may be fully petitioner were for his alleged failure to file his sworn statement of assets and
threshed out and considered. Regrettably, the accused herein attempts to have liabilities required by Republic Act No. 3019, which certainly did not involve
the Court grant such a radical relief during this stage of the proceedings which complicated legal and factual issues necessitating such "painstaking and
precludes a pre-cocious or summary evaluation of insufficient evidence in gruelling scrutiny" as would justify a delay of almost three years in terminating
support thereof. the preliminary investigation. The other two charges relating to alleged bribery
and alleged giving of unwarranted benefits to a relative, while presenting more
This brings us to the crux of the issue at hand. Was petitioner deprived of his substantial legal and factual issues, certainly do not warrant or justify the period
constitutional right to due process and the right to "speedy disposition" of the of three years, which it took the Tanodbayan to resolve the case.
cases against him as guaranteed by the Constitution? May the court, ostrich
like, bury its head in the sand, as it were, at the initial stage of the proceedings It has been suggested that the long delay in terminating the preliminary
and wait to resolve the issue only after the trial? investigation should not be deemed fatal, for even the complete absence of a
preliminary investigation does not warrant dismissal of the information. True-but
In a number of cases, 1 this Court has not hesitated to grant the so-called the absence of a preliminary investigation can be corrected by giving the
"radical relief" and to spare the accused from undergoing the rigors and expense accused such investigation. But an undue delay in the conduct of a preliminary
of a full-blown trial where it is clear that he has been deprived of due process of investigation can not be corrected, for until now, man has not yet invented a
law or other constitutionally guaranteed rights. Of course, it goes without saying device for setting back time.
that in the application of the doctrine enunciated in those cases, particular
regard must be taken of the facts and circumstances peculiar to each case. After a careful review of the facts and circumstances of this case, we are
constrained to hold that the inordinate delay in terminating the preliminary
Coming to the case at bar, the following relevant facts appear on record and are investigation and filing the information in the instant case is violative of the
largely undisputed. The complainant, Antonio de los Reyes, originally filed what constitutionally guaranteed right of the petitioner to due process and to a speedy
he termed "a report" with the Legal Panel of the Presidential Security Command disposition of the cases against him. Accordingly, the informations in Criminal
(PSC) on October 1974, containing charges of alleged violations of Rep. Act Cases Nos. 10499, 10500, 10501, 10502 and 10503 should be dismissed. In
No. 3019 against then Secretary of Public Information Francisco S. Tatad. The view of the foregoing, we find it unnecessary to rule on the other issues raised
"report" was made to "sleep" in the office of the PSC until the end of 1979 when by petitioner.
it became widely known that Secretary (then Minister) Tatad had a falling out
with President Marcos and had resigned from the Cabinet. On December 12, Accordingly, the Court Resolved to give due course to the petition and to grant
1979, the 1974 complaint was resurrected in the form of a formal complaint filed the same. The informations in Criminal Cases Nos. 10499, 10500, 10501,
with the Tanodbayan and docketed as TBP Case No. 8005-16-07. The 10502 and 10503, entitled "People of the Philippines vs. Francisco S. Tatad"
Tanodbayan acted on the complaint on April 1, 1980-which was around two are hereby DISMISSED. The temporary restraining order issued on October 22,
months after petitioner Tatad's resignation was accepted by Pres. Marcos — by 1985 is made permanent.
referring the complaint to the CIS, Presidential Security Command, for
investigation and report. On June 16, 1980, the CIS report was submitted to the SO ORDERED.
Tanodbayan, recommending the filing of charges for graft and corrupt practices
against former Minister Tatad and Antonio L. Cantero. By October 25, 1982, all Teehankee, C.J., Fernan, Narvasa, Melencio-Herrera, Gutierrez, Jr., Cruz,
affidavits and counter-affidavits were in the case was already for disposition by Paras, Feliciano, Gancayco, Padilla, Bidin, Sarmiento, Cortes and Griño-
the Tanodbayan. However, it was only on July 5, 1985 that a resolution was Aquino, JJ., concur.
Page 7 of 34
Republic of the Philippines On March 14, 1990, Judge Aquino ordered the parties to follow-up and complete
SUPREME COURT the transcript of stenographic notes within 30 days considering that the same
Manila was found to be incomplete.

THIRD DIVISION On April 20, 1990, since the parties were not able to complete the transcript of
stenographic notes, the court ordered the retaking of the testimonies of the
G.R. No. 107211 June 28, 1996 witnesses.

FRANCISCO GUERRERO, petitioner, On May 15, 1990, the private prosecutor submitted copies of the duplicate
vs. originals of the testimonies of Eusebio Garcia and Elena Obidosa (December
HON. COURT OF APPEALS, (Former Special Seventh Division), 11, 1969), Celestino Nazareno (March 16, 1973), Cenen Miras (April 27, 1973),
REGIONAL TRIAL COURT OF MALABON, BRANCH 72, and PEOPLE OF Ariston Agustin (February 10, 1977) and Francisco Guerrero (December 5 and
THE PHILIPPINES, respondents. 19, 1977). The private prosecutor manifested that he had communicated with
one of the stenographers on record, Ms. Remedios S. Delfin, who promised to
PANGANIBAN, J.:p look into her files and hopefully complete the transcription of her stenographic
notes.
"Does the constitutional right to a speedy trial include the right to a prompt
disposition and judgment?" This is the question posed before this Court in the On October 1, 1990, the presiding Judge set the retaking of the witnesses
instant petition for review under Rule 45 seeking to set aside (a) the Decision 1 testimony on October 24, 1990.
of the Court of Appeals 2 promulgated on February 18, 1992 in CA-G.R. SP No.
23737; and (b) the Resolution promulgated on September 10, 1992 denying the On October 24, 1990, the retaking of the testimonies was reset to November 9,
motion for reconsideration. 1990 due to petitioner's failure to appear on the scheduled hearing.

By a resolution dated November 13, 1935, the First Division of this Court On November 7, 1990, petitioner filed a motion to dismiss on the ground that
transferred this case, along with several others, to the Third. After careful his right to speedy trial has been violated.
deliberation and consultation on the petition, comment, reply, memoranda and
other submissions of the parties, this Court assigned the writing of this Decision On November 9, 1990, presiding Judge dented the motion to dismiss and reset
to the undersigned ponente. the retaking of the testimonies to November 21, 1990.

The Facts On November 16, 1990, petitioner filed a motion for reconsideration which was
denied oil November 21, 1990. The presiding Judge set anew the retaking of
The antecedents are not disputed. As summarized by the Solicitor General in the testimonies December 5, 1990.
his memorandum, they are as follows: 3
Hence, petitioner filed petition for certiorari, prohibition and mandamus for the
On November 16, 1971, an Information for Triple Homicide Through Reckless review of the orders of the Regional Trial Court dated November 9, 1990 and
Imprudence was filed against petitioner before the Court of First Instance, November 20, 1990 anent petitioner's motion to dismiss, as well as his motion
Branch XXXV, Caloocan City, presided by Judge Manuel A. Argel, and docketed for reconsideration. The petition was anchored on the alleged violation of
as Criminal Case No. C-2073. which reads: petitioner's constitutional right to speedy trial.

That on or about the 13th day of May, 1969, in the Municipality of Malabon, In its decision which was promulgated on February 18, 1992, the Honorable
Province of Rizal, Philippines and within the jurisdiction of this Honorable Court, Court of Appeals dismissed the petition. In a resolution dated September 10,
the above-named accused being then the pilot of non-commercial Aircraft, type 1992, petitioner's motion for reconsideration was denied.
Camanche PA-24-250 with registration marking PI-C515, then in-charge of, and
has complete responsibility for, the maintenance and operation of said aircraft, Errors Assigned
without taking the necessary care and precaution to avoid accidents or injuries
to persons, and without ascertaining as to whether the quantity of fuel in the Petitioner now assigns the following errors 4 against the respondent Court:
tanks of said aircraft was sufficient for the flight from Cuyapo, Nueva Ecija to
MIA, Parañaque, Rizal, did, then and there willfully, unlawfully and feloniously I.
operate, fly, pilot, maneuver and/or conduct the flight of said aircraft from the
airport at Cuyapo, Nueva Ecija with four (4) passengers on board, and while the The respondent Court of Appeals erred in not finding that the re-hearing of the
said aircraft was already airborne after several minutes, the engine quitted twice instant case will not suit the intended purpose and will only result in untold
indicating that there was no more fuel, prompting the accused to make an prejudice to the petitioner.
emergency manner landing on a fishpond which he executed in a careless,
negligent and imprudent manner in the Piper Camanche Owner's handbook, II.
and as a result of the improper execution of said emergency landing, the
aircraft's landing gear collided with a dike and trees near the fishpond in The respondent Court of Appeals erred in not ruling that the petitioner is entitled
Malabon, Rizal, resulting to the fatal injuries in three (3) passengers, namely, to a dismissal of the criminal case equivalent to an acquittal on the merits based
Cpl. Teodoro Neric, Jose Mari Garcia and Lourdes Garcia which directly caused on the violation of his right to speedy trial resulting from the failure to render a
their deaths. prompt disposition of judgment.

Contrary to law. The First Issue: Untold Prejudice

Due to several postponements, all filed by the petitioner, the prosecution was Petitioner claims that through no fault of his, seven of the ten witnesses who
finally able to start presenting its evidence on September 29, 1972 after testified for the accused will no longer be able to testify anew.
petitioner entered his plea of "Not Guilty".
So too, three witness for the prosecution have died and thus would not be able
On August 19, 1975, the prosecution finally rested its case. to appear during the re-hearing. And even if all witnesses would be able to testify
again, "the passage of a long period of time spanning more than two decades
On February 7, 1978, the defense rested its case. since the incident complained of will tend to confuse or hinder than aid the
accurate recall of the facts and circumstances of the case," as follows 5:
On March 16, 1978, the hearing was terminated and the parties were ordered
by Judge Argel to submit their respective memoranda. (a) Capt. Ricardo B. Stohner of the Civil Aeronautics Administration has
reportedly migrated to either the U.S.A. or Canada, after he retired from the CAA
On January 19, 1979, Judge Bernardo P. Pardo who ostensibly took over as about eight (8) years ago. Capt. Stohner's indispensable testimony as an expert
presiding judge vice Judge Argel, granted private prosecutor's omnibus motion witness as well as to his personal knowledge of certain material facts as
to file memorandum up to January 29, 1979. described in Francisco Guerrero's Memorandum of 17 December 1979, crucial
to the defense, is now lost to the petitioner.
On December 21, 1979, petitioner filed his memorandum.
(b) Eduardo V. Guerrero, a son of Francisco Guerrero, has been
It would appear that from the RTC of Caloocan City, Branch XXXV, the case undergoing psychiatric treatment for more than two years now, as he is suffering
was subsequently assigned to Branch CXXV presided over by Judge Alfredo from chronic mental illness. He is in no condition to testify. Copies of medical
Gorgonio who apparently did not take action thereon. certificates on Eduardo's condition were submitted to the respondent courts as
annexes to various pleadings.
On January 30, 1989, Court Administrator Meynardo Tiro ordered the reraffling
of the case from the RTC of Caloocan City, Branch CXXV to the RTC of (c) Rosario V. Guerrero, wife of Francisco Guerrero. was operated on
Navotas-Malabon which, under the provisions of B.P. 129, had jurisdiction over last August for tumor of the colon and is still suffering a partial disability. She is
the case. under medical advice to avoid activities which may cause her stress, including
testifying in court. Copies of medical certificates on Mrs. Guerrero's operation
The case, now docketed as Criminal Case No. 7356-MN, was raffled to and condition were submitted to the respondent courts as annexes to various
presiding Judge Benjamin N. Aquino of the RTC, Navotas-Malabon, Branch 72. pleadings.

Page 8 of 34
(d) The whereabouts of Alberto Atanacio, Rodolfo Fontanilla, Editha True, indeed, the 1987 Constitution provides the right not only to a speedy trial
Pangilinan, and Rizal and Belen Macabole, are unknown, and despite diligent but also to a speedy judgment after trial when in Section 16, Article III, it
efforts exerted by petitioner, they have not been found up to the present. provides:

At this point, this argument is premature and at best speculative. As to whether All persons shall have the right to a speedy disposition of their cases before all
the witnesses for the defense would be available at the trial, and if available, judicial, quasi-judicial or administrative bodies.
whether they will still be in a position to recall the events that transpired in the
case more than twenty five years ago is a question of fact which cannot be Hence, the Constitution mandates dispatch not only in the trial stage but also in
determined now. As pointed out by the Solicitor General in his memorandum: 6 the disposition thereof, warranting dismissals in case of violations thereof
without the fault of the party concerned, not just the accused.
Contrary to petitioner's contention, the whereabouts of his witnesses (except
Rizal and Evelyn Macabole) are ascertainable should a diligent search be made In the recent case of People vs. Leviste, 12 this Court citing Gonzales vs.
by him. This can be gleaned from the return of the subpoena dated October 1, Sandiganbayan 13 and People vs. Tampal, 14 reiterated the ruling that the right
1990 which forms part of the record of the case. Eduardo Guerrero and Rosario to speedy trial is violated only where there is an unreasonable, vexatious and
Guerrero were respectively served with subpoena and their alleged mental and oppressive delay without the participation or fault of the accused, or when
physical incapacity to testify should best be left to the assessment of respondent unjustified postponements are sought which prolong the trial for unreasonable
trial court. Edith (sic) Pangilinan was notified of the retaking and is, thus, lengths of time.
available. Alberto Atanacio and Rodolfo Fontanilla, on the other hand, are in
Lucena City. The exact whereabouts of the last two witnesses can be On the other hand, the case of Caballero vs. Alfonso, Jr., 15 laid down the
ascertained if diligent efforts were exerted to locate them. guidelines in determining the applicability of the "speedy disposition" formula:

The alleged unavailability of the witnesses for the prosecution should not be the . . . (S)peedy disposition of cases' is a relative term. Just like the constitutional
concern of the petitioner at this time. The burden of proving his guilt rests upon guarantee of "speedy trial" accorded an accused in all criminal proceedings,
the prosecution. And if the prosecution fails for any reason to present evidence "speedy disposition of cases" is a flexible concept. It is consistent with delays
sufficient to show his guilt beyond reasonable doubt, he will be acquitted. and depends upon the circumstances. What the Constitution prohibits are
unreasonable, arbitrary and oppressive delays which render rights nugatory.
. . . The burden of proof rests upon the prosecution and unless the State
succeeds in proving his guilt. the presumption of innocence in favor of the In the determination of whether or not the right to a "speedy trial" has been
accused-appellant applies. The conscience must be satisfied that, on the violated, certain factors may be considered and balanced against each other.
accused-appellant could be laid the responsibility of the offense charged. 7 These are length of delay, reason for the delay, assertion of the right or failure
to assert it, and prejudice caused by the delay. The same factors may also be
. . . [C]ourts must exert utmost scrupulousness in evaluating the evidence of the considered in answering judicial inquiry whether or not a person officially
prosecution for it is elementary that the conviction of an accused must rest on charged with the administration of justice has violated the "speedy disposition
the strength of the prosecution and not on the weakness of the defense (People of cases" guarantee.
vs. Cruz, 215 SCRA 339 [1992]). The prosecution must overcome the
constitutional presumption of innocence by proof beyond reasonable doubt; In the case before us, the petitioner merely sat and waited after the case was
otherwise, the acquittal of the accused is ineluctably demanded. . . . 8 submitted for resolution in 1979. It was only in 1989 when the case below was
reraffled from the RTC of Caloocan City to the RTC of Navotas-Malabon and
. . . It is safely entrenched in our jurisprudence that unless the prosecution only after respondent trial judge of the latter court ordered on March 14, 1990
discharges its burden to prove the guilt of an accused beyond reasonable doubt, the parties to follow-up and complete the transcript of stenographic notes that
the latter need not even offer evidence in his behalf. Acquittal then of the matters started to get moving towards a resolution of the case. More importantly,
accused-appellant is in order. 9 it was only after the new trial judge reset the retaking of the testimonies to
November 9, 1990 because of petitioner's absence during the original setting
On this matter, the respondent Court, 10 citing the assailed order of the trial on October 24, 1990 that the accused suddenly became zealous of
court, argues that there are really only two witnesses of the prosecution whose safeguarding his right to speedy trial and disposition.
testimonies need to be retaken and the rehearing should not really present a
monumental problem: While it may be said that it was not petitioner's fault that the stenographic notes
of the testimonies of the witnesses were not transcribed, yet neither was it the
With only two (2) witnesses of the prosecution to be presented, coupled with a prosecution's. The respondent trial judge can hardly be faulted either because
promise of expeditiousness by respondent Judge, the Court is of the view that he could not have rendered the decision without the transcripts in question. Let
petitioner's misgivings are rather exaggerated. And as to his expressed fear that it be remembered that he was not the judge who conducted the trial and hence
his own witnesses for the defense can no longer testify "in the same manner as he would not have had sufficient basis to make a disposition in the absence of
before," the same Order well and truly states in adequate refutation that -- the said transcripts. As respondent Court of Appeals noted:

. . . the fear that the witnesses to the incident which occurred in 1969 may no Indeed, it can be gleaned from the pleadings on file that the case was assigned
longer have the same perception of what they saw and, therefore, would not be to respondent Judge only in late 1989 or early 1990, and that he took prompt
able to testify in Court in the same manner they originally testified is not the action thereon by setting the case for retaking of testimonies, obviously as a
concern of the defense but of the prosecution. If the prosecution witnesses prelude to judgment. The case then was finally making progress toward
cannot give convincing testimony in the retaking of their testimony, that is the termination. For such dispatch and diligence, respondent Judge hardly deserves
worry of the prosecution. It is not even unfair to the accused if his witnesses condemnation. Petitioner also faults the prosecution for its failure to follow up
cannot testify in the same convincing manner that they testified before as long the status of the case.
as the prosecution witnesses are convincing. Everything in a criminal
prosecution should be interpreted liberally in favor of the accused and strictly As regards the other judge to whom the case was assigned prior to 1989, the
against the state. . . . accused himself could not pinpoint the cause of the problem: 16

Anent petitioner's contention that the re-hearing would place him in double 2) Reason for the delay No one knows why the Presiding Judge
jeopardy, suffice it to say that there has been no termination of the criminal (Manuel A. Argel) of the respondent court who heard the trial did not render a
prosecution -- i.e. of that "first jeopardy." For double jeopardy to attach, the decision during his tenure. No one knows either why another former Presiding
following elements must concur: Judge (Alfredo Gorgonio) failed to turn over the case to the Malabon court during
the Judiciary Reorganization under B.P. Blg. 129.
. . . It is a settled rule that to raise the defense of double jeopardy, the following
requisites must concur: (1) a first jeopardy must have attached prior to the It appears later on that the case became a victim of neglect and languished in
second; (2) the first jeopardy must have been validly terminated; and (3) the the court docket, Not surprisingly, since the risk of such loss through neglect
second jeopardy must be for the same offense, or the second offense includes and other causes grew with each passing year, part of the records and several
or is necessarily included in the offense charged in the first information, or is an transcripts were lost in the time the case lay unattended. Before being finally
attempt, to commit the same or is a frustration thereof (emphasis omitted). assigned to the respondent trial court, the case was shuttled from court to court
through various indorsements of Executive Judges and the Court Administrator
And legal jeopardy attaches only: (a) upon a valid indictment: (b) before a of the Supreme Court as a result of the confusion as to which court had territorial
competent court; (c) after arraignment; (d) a valid plea having been entered; and jurisdiction over it.
(e) the case was dismissed or otherwise terminated without the express consent
of the accused (emphasis omitted). In the present case, there is no question that petitioner raised the violation
against his own right to speedy disposition only when the respondent trial judge
In the present case, there has not even been a first jeopardy, since the fourth reset the case for rehearing. It is fair to assume that he would have just
element -- dismissal or termination of the case without the express consent of continued to sleep on his right -- a situation amounting to laches -- had the
the accused -- is not present. Moreover, measured against the aforequoted respondent judge not taken the initiative of determining the non-completion of
standard, the re-taking of testimonies cannot in any wise be deemed a second the records and of ordering the remedy precisely so he could dispose of the
jeopardy. Hence, it is beyond dispute that petitioner's claim of double jeopardy case. The matter could have taken a different dimension if during all those ten
is utterly without basis. years between 1979 when accused filed his memorandum and 1989 when the
case was reraffled, the accused showed signs of asserting his right which was
The Second Issue: Speedy Trial and Speedy Disposition granted him in 1987 when the new constitution took effect, 17 or at least made
some overt act (like a motion for early disposition or a motion to compel the
stenographer to transcribe stenographic notes) that he was not waiving it. As it
is, his silence would have to be interpreted as a waiver of such right.
Page 9 of 34
With the criminal complaints remaining unresolved for more than 6 years,
While this Court recognizes the right to speedy disposition quite distinctly from petitioner filed a motion to dismiss, invoking Tatad vs. Sandiganbayan (G.R.No.
the right to a speedy trial, and although this Court has always zealously 72335-39, March 21, 1988). Sad to say, even this motion to dismiss, however,
espoused protection from oppressive and vexatious delays not attributable to has not been acted upon.
the party involved, at the same time, we hold that a party's individual rights
should not work against and preclude the people's equally important right to Hence, the instant petition.
public justice. In the instant case, three people died as a result of the crash of
the airplane that the accused was flying. It appears to us that the delay in the Acting on the petition, the Court issued a resolution dated December 20, 1995
disposition of the case prejudiced not just the accused but the people as well. requiring respondents to comment thereon. In compliance therewith, the Office
Since the accused has completely failed to assert his right seasonably and of the Solicitor General filed a Manifestation and Motion (in lieu of Comment.),
inasmuch as the respondent judge was not in a position to dispose of the case which is its way of saying it agreed with the views of petitioner. On July 22, 1996,
on the merits due to the absence of factual basis, we hold it proper and equitable we issued another resolution requiring the Ombudsman to file his own comment
to give the parties fair opportunity to obtain (and the court to dispense, on the petition if he so desires, otherwise, the petition will be deemed submitted
substantial justice in the premises. for resolution without such comment. After several extensions, respondent
Ombudsman, through the Office of the Special Prosecutor, filed a comment
WHEREFORE, the petition is DENIED. The respondent trial court is directed to dated October 7, 1996.
proceed with judicious dispatch in the re-taking of testimonies and in concluding
the case in accordance with law. The Court finds the present petition to be impressed with merit.

SO ORDERED. Mandamus is a writ commanding a tribunal, corporation, board, or person to do


the act required to be done when it or he unlawfully neglects the performance
Narvasa, C.J., Davide, Jr., Melo and Francisco, JJ., concur. of an act which the law specifically enjoins as a duty resulting from an office,
trust, or station, or unlawfully excludes another from the use and enjoyment of
a right or office to which such other is entitled, there being no other plain,
speedy, and adequate remedy in the ordinary course of law (Section 3 of Rule
Republic of the Philippines 65 of the Rules of Court).
SUPREME COURT
Manila After a careful review of the facts and circumstances of the present case, the
Court finds the inordinate delay of more than six years by the Ombudsman in
THIRD DIVISION resolving the criminal complaints against petitioner to be violative of his
constitutionally guaranteed right to due process and to a speedy disposition of
G.R. No. 122728 February 13, 1997 the cases against him, thus warranting the dismissal of said criminal cases
pursuant to the pronouncement of the Court in Tatad vs. Sandiganbayan (159
CASIANO A. ANGCHANGCO, JR., petitioner, SCRA 70 [1988]), wherein the Court, speaking through Justice Yap, said:
vs.
THE HONORABLE OMBUDSMAN, ZALDY TAMAYO, GILDA NAVARRA, We find the long delay in the termination of the preliminary investigation by the
ODELIA LEGASPI, SALVADOR TAMAYO, GASPAR ABORQUE, ROEL Tanodbayan in the instant case to be violative of the constitutional right of the
ABAS, REMEDIOS OLITA, ET AL., TEODORO TORREON, ET AL., JIMMY accused to due process. Substantial adherence to the requirements of the law
MARTIN, MENRADO ALLAWAN, MARGARITO ESCORIAL, NORBERTO governing the conduct of preliminary investigation, including substantial
OCAT and ALEJANDRO ERNA, respondents. compliance with the time limitation prescribed by the law for the resolution of the
case by the prosecutor, is part of the procedural due process constitutionally
guaranteed by the fundamental law. Not only under the board umbrella of the
MELO, J.: due process clause, but under the constitutional guarantee of "speedy
disposition" of cases as embodied in Section 16 of the Bill of Right (both in the
Before us is a petition for mandamus seeking to: a) compel the Ombudsman to 1973 and the 1987 Constitutions), the inordinate delay is violative of the
dismiss Ombudsman Cases No. MIN-3-90-0671, MIN-90-0132, MIN-90-0133, petitioner's constitutional rights. A delay of close to three (3) years can not be
MIN-90-0138, MIN-90-0188, MIN-90-0189, MIN-90-0190, MIN- 90-0191, and deemed reasonable or justifiable in the light of the circumstance obtaining in the
MIN-90-0192; and b) direct the Ombudsman to issue a clearance in favor of case at bar. We are not impressed by the attempt of the Sandiganbayan to
petitioner Casiano A. Angchangco. sanitize the long delay by indulging in the speculative assumption that "the delay
may be due to a painstaking and gruelling scrutiny by the Tanodbayan as to
The facts are as follows: whether the evidence presented during the preliminary investigation merited
prosecution of a former high-ranking government official." In the first place, such
Prior to his retirement, petitioner served as a deputy sheriff and later as Sheriff a statement suggests a double standard of treatment, which must be
IV in the Regional Trial Court of Agusan del Norte and Butuan City. emphatically rejected. Secondly, three out of the five charges against the
petitioner were for his alleged failure to file his sworn statement of assets and
On August 24, 1989, the Department of Labor and Employment (Region X) liabilities required by Republic Act No. 3019, which certainly did not involve
rendered a decision ordering the Nasipit Integrated Arrastre and Stevedoring complicated legal and factual issues necessitating such "painstaking and
Services Inc. (NIASSI) to pay its workers the sum of P1,281,065.505. The gruelling scrutiny" as would justify a delay of almost three years in terminating
decision having attained finality, a writ of execution was issued directing the the preliminary investigation. The other two charges relating to alleged bribery
Provincial Sheriff of Agusan del Norte or his deputies to satisfy the same. and alleged giving of unwarranted benefits to a relative, while presenting more
Petitioner, as the assigned sheriff and pursuant to the writ of execution issued, substantial legal and factual issues, certainly do not warrant or justify the period
caused the satisfaction of the decision by garnishing NIASSI's daily collections of three years, which it took the Tanodbayan to resolve the case.
from its various clients.
It has been suggested that the long delay in terminating the preliminary
In an attempt to enjoin the further enforcement of the writ of execution, Atty. investigation should not be deemed fatal, for even the complete absence of a
Tranquilino O. Calo, Jr., President of NIASSI, filed a complaint for prohibition preliminary investigation does not warrant dismissal of the information. True--
and damages against petitioner. The regional trial court initially issued a but the absence of a preliminary investigation can not be corrected, for until now,
temporary restraining order but later dismissed the case for lack of jurisdiction. man has not yet invented a device for setting back time.

In addition to the civil case, Atty. Calo likewise fled before the Office of the Verily, the Office of the Ombudsman in the instant case has failed to discharge
Ombudsman a complaint against petitioner for graft, estafa/malversation and its duty mandated by the Constitution "to promptly act on complaints filed in any
misconduct relative to the enforcement of the writ of execution. Acting on the form or manner against public officials and employees of the government, or
complaint, the Ombudsman, in a Memorandum dated July 31, 1992, any subdivision, agency or instrumentality thereof."
recommended its dismissal for lack of merit.
Mandamus is employed to compel the performance, when refused of a
Meanwhile, from June 25 to 28, 1990, several workers of NIASSI filed letters- ministerial duty, this being its chief use and not a discretionary duty. It is
complaints with the Office of the Ombudsman-Mindanao alleging, among others nonetheless likewise available to compel action, when refused, in matters
things, that petitioner illegally deducted an amount equivalent to 25% from their involving judgment and discretion, but not to direct the exercise of judgment or
differential pay. The Office of the Ombudsman-Mindanao endorsed to the Court discretion in a particular way or the retraction or reversal of an action already
the administrative aspect of the complaints which was docketed hereat as A.M. taken in the exercise of either (Rules of Court in the Philippines, Volume III by
No. 93-10-385-OMB. The Court in an En Banc Resolution dated November 25, Martin, 4th Edition, page 233).
1993 dismissed the case for lack of interest on the part of complainants to
pursue their case. It is correct, as averred in the comment that in the performance of an official
duty or act involving discretion, the corresponding official can only be directed
Although the administrative aspect of the complaints had already been by mandamus to act, but not to act one way or the other. However, this rule
dismissed, the criminal complaints remained pending and unresolved, admits of exceptions such as in cases where there is gross abuse of discretion,
prompting petitioner to file several omnibus motions for early resolution. manifest injustice, or palpable excess of authority (Kant Kwong vs. PCGG, 156
SCRA 222, 232 [1987]).
When petitioner retired in September 1994, the criminal complaints still
remained unresolved, as a consequence of which petitioner's request for Here, the Office of the Ombudsman, due to its failure to resolve the criminal
clearance in order that he may qualify to receive his retirement benefits was charges against petitioner for more than six years, has transgressed on the
denied. constitutional right of petitioner to due process and to a speedy disposition of
the cases against him, as well as the Ombudsman's own constitutional duty to
Page 10 of 34
act promptly on complaints filed before it. For all these past 6 years, petitioner On the same day, the Sanggunian issued Resolution No. 1403 and Ordinance
has remained under a cloud, and since his retirement in September 1994, he No. 174, the General Fund Supplemental Budget No. 07 for CY 1990
has been deprived of the fruits of his retirement after serving the government for appropriating P3,000,000.00 for the city's computerization project.
over 42 years all because of the inaction of respondent Ombudsman. If we wait
any longer, it may be too late for petitioner to receive his retirement benefits, not Given the go-signal, the contract was duly signed by the parties thereto and on
to speak of clearing his name. This is a case of plain injustice which calls for the 8 November 1990, petitioner City Administrator de Guzman released to SPI
issuance of the writ prayed for. PNB Check No. 65521 in the amount of P1,748,521.58 as downpayment.

WHEREFORE, the Court RESOLVED to give DUE COURSE to the petition and On 27 November 1990, the Office of the Ombudsman-Mindanao received a
to GRANT the same. Ombudsman Cases No. MIN-3-90-0671, MIN-90-0132, letter-complaint from a "concerned citizen," stating that "some city officials are
MIN-90-0133, MIN-90-0138, MIN-90-0188, MIN-90-0189, MIN-90 0190, MIN- going to make a killing" in the transaction.4 The complaint was docketed as
90-0191, and MIN-90-0192 are ordered DISMISSED. The Office of the OMB-MIN-90-0425. However, no action was taken thereon.5
Ombudsman is further directed to issue the corresponding clearance in favor of
petitioner. Thereafter, sometime in February 1991, a complaint docketed as Civil Case No.
20,550-91, was instituted before the Regional Trial Court of Davao City, Branch
SO ORDERED. 12 by Dean Pilar Braga, Hospicio C. Conanan, Jr. and Korsung Dabaw
Foundation, Inc. against the petitioners, the City Council, various city officials
Narvasa, C.J., Davide, Jr., Francisco and Panganiban, JJ., concur. and SPI for the judicial declaration of nullity of the aforestated resolutions and
ordinances and the computer contract executed pursuant thereto.

On 22 February 1991, Goldstar, through its agent, Mr. S.Y. Lee sent a proposal
Republic of the Philippines to petitioner Duterte for the cancellation of the computerization contract.
SUPREME COURT
Baguio City Consequently, on 8 April 1991, the Sanggunian issued Resolution No. 449 and
Ordinance No. 53 accepting Goldstar's offer to cancel the computerization
THIRD DIVISION contract provided the latter return the advance payment of P1,748,521.58 to the
City Treasurer's Office within a period of one month. Petitioner Duterte, as city
G.R. No. 130191 April 27, 1998 mayor, was thus authorized to take the proper steps for the mutual cancellation
of the said contract and to sign all documents relevant thereto.6
RODRIGO R. DUTERTE and BENJAMIN C. DE GUZMAN, petitioners,
vs. Pursuant to the aforestated authority, on 6 May 1991, petitioner Duterte, in
THE HONORABLE SANDIGANBAYAN, respondent. behalf of Davao City, and SPI mutually rescinded the contract and the
downpayment was duly refunded.
KAPUNAN, J.:
In the meantime, a Special Audit Team of the Commission on Audit was tasked
The right to a preliminary investigation is not a mere formal right; it is a to conduct an audit of the Davao City Local Automation Project to determine if
substantive right. To deny the accused of such right would be to deprive him of said contract conformed to government laws and regulations.
due process.
On 31 May 1991, the team submitted its Special Audit Report (SAR) No. 91-05
In this special civil action for certiorari with preliminary injunction, petitioners recommending rescission of the subject contract. A copy of the report was sent
seek to set aside the Order of the Sandiganbayan dated 27 June 1997 denying to petitioner Duterte by COA Chairman Eufemio C. Domingo on 7 June 1991. In
the Motion to Quash the information filed against them for violating Sec. 3(g) of the latter's transmittal letter, Chairman Domingo summarized the findings of the
R.A. No. 3019, otherwise known as the Anti-Graft And Corrupt Practices Act. special audit team, thus:
Petitioners similarly impugn the Resolution of the Sandiganbayan dated 5
August 1997 which denied their Motion for Reconsideration thereof. 1. The award of the contract for the "Davao City Local Automation
Project" to Systems Plus, Inc., for P11,656,810 was done thru negotiated
Pertinent to this case are the following facts: contract rather than thru competitive public bidding in violation of Sections 2 and
8 of PD 526. Moreover, there was no sufficient appropriation for this particular
In 1990, the Davao City Local Automation Project was launched by the city contract in violation of Sec. 85 of PD 1445.
government of Davao. The goal of said project was to make Davao City a
leading center for computer systems and technology development. It also aimed 2. Advance payment of P1.7M was made to Systems Plus, Inc.
to provide consultancy and training services and to assist all local government covering 15% of the contract cost of P11.6M in violation of Sec. 45 of PD 477
units in Mindanao set up their respective computer systems. and Sec. 88 of PD 1445.

To implement the project, a Computerization Program Committee, composed of 3. The cost of computer hardware and accessories under contract with
the following was formed: "Systems Plus, Inc. (SPI)" differed from the team's canvass by as much as
1200% or a total of P1.8M.
Chairman : Atty. Benjamin C. de Guzman, City Administrator
Members : Mr. Jorge Silvosa, Acting City Treasurer 4. The City had no Information Systems Plan (ISP) prior to the award
Atty. Victorino Advincula, City Councilor of the contract to SPI in direct violation of Malacañang Memo. Order No. 287
Mr. Alexis Almendras, City Councilor and NCC Memo. Circular 89-1 dated June 22, 1989. This omission resulted in
Atty. Onofre Francisco, City Legal Officer undue disadvantage to the City Government.
Mr. Rufino Ambrocio, Jr., Chief of Internal Control Office
Atty. Mariano Kintanar, COA Resident Auditor. 1 5. To remedy the foregoing deficiencies, the team recommends that
the contract with Systems Plus, Inc. be rescinded in view of the questionable
The Committee's duty was to "conduct a thorough study of the different validity due to insufficient funding. Further, the provisions of NCC-MC 89-1
computers in the market, taking into account the quality and acceptability of the dated June 22, 1989 regarding procurement and/or installation of computer
products, the reputation and track record of the manufacturers and/or their hardware/system should be strictly adhered to. 7
Philippine distributors, the availability of the replacement parts and accessories
in the Philippines, the availability of service centers in the country that can The city government, intent on pursuing its computerization plan, decided to
undertake preventive maintenance of the computer hardwares to ensure a long follow the audit team's recommendation and sought the assistance of the
and uninterrupted use and, last but not the least, the capability of the National Computer Center (NCC). After conducting the necessary studies, the
manufacturers and/or Philippine distributors to design and put into place the NCC recommended the acquisition of Philips computers in the amount of
computer system — complete with the flow of paperwork, forms to be used and P15,792,150.00. Davao City complied with the NCC's advice and hence, was
personnel required."2 finally able to obtain the needed computers.

Following these guidelines, the Committee recommended the acquisition of Subsequently, on 1 August 1991, the Anti-Craft League-Davao City Chapter,
Goldstar computers manufactured by Goldstar Information and Communication, through one Miguel C. Enriquez, filed an unverified complaint with the
Ltd., South Korea and exclusively distributed in the Philippines by Systems Plus, Ombudsman-Mindanao against petitioners, the City Treasurer, City Auditor, the
Inc. (SPI). whole city government of Davao and SPI. The League alleged that the
respondents, in entering into the computerization contract, violated R.A. No.
After obtaining prior clearance from COA Auditor Kintanar, the Committee 3019 (Anti-Graft and Corrupt Practices Act), PD No. 1445 (Government Auditing
proceeded to negotiate with SPI, represented by its President Rodolfo V. Jao Code of the Philippines), COA circulars and regulations, the Revised Penal
and Executive Vice President Manuel T. Asis, for the acquisition and installation Code and other pertinent penal laws. The case was docketed as OMB-3-91-
of the computer hardware and the training of personnel for the Electronic Data- 1768.8
Processing Center. The total contract cost amounted to P11,056,810.00.
On 9 October 1991, Graft Investigation Officer (GIO) Pepito A. Manriquez of the
On 5 November 1990, the City Council (Sangguniang Panlungsod) of Davao Office of the Ombudsman sent a letter9 to COA Chairman Domingo requesting
unanimously passed Resolution No. 1402 and Ordinance No. 173 approving the the Special Audit Team to submit their joint affidavit to substantiate the
proposed contract for computerization between Davao City and SPI. The complaint in compliance with Section 4, par. (a) of the Rules of Procedure of the
Sanggunian, likewise, authorized the City Mayor (petitioner Duterte) to sign the Office of the Ombudsman (A.O. No. 07).
said contract for and in behalf of Davao City.3

Page 11 of 34
On 14 October 1991, Judge Paul T. Arcangel, issued an Order dismissing Civil whatever the accused had to say in their behalf, they were able to do in that
Case No. 20,550-91. The dispositive portion reads, thus: motion for reconsideration.

WHEREFORE, in view of all the foregoing, this case is hereby dismissed on the Considering the denial thereof by the Office of the Ombudsman, the Court does
ground of prematurity and that it has become moot and academic with the not believe itself empowered to authorize a reinvestigation on the ground of an
mutual cancellation of the contract. The other claims of the parties are hereby inadequacy of the basic preliminary investigation nor with respect to a dispute
denied. No pronouncement as to costs. as to the proper appreciation by the prosecution of the evidence at that time.

SO ORDERED. 10 In view hereof, upon further representation by Atty. Medialdea that he


represents not only Mayor Duterte but City Administrator de Guzman as well,
On 12 November 1991, Graft Investigator Manriquez issued an order in OMB- upon his commitment, the arraignment hereof is now set for July 25, 1997 at
3-91-1768 directing petitioners, Jorge Silvosa (City Treasurer), Mariano 8:00 o'clock in the morning. 14
Kintanar (City Auditor) and Manuel T. Asis of SPI to:
On 15 July 1997, petitioners moved for reconsideration of the above order but
. . . file in ten (10) days (1) their respective verified point-by-point comment under the same was denied by the Sandiganbayan for lack of merit in its Resolution
oath upon every allegation of the complaint in Civil Case No. 20,550-91 in the dated 5 August 1997.15
Regional Trial Court (RTC), Branch 12, Davao City "Dean Pilar C. Braga, et al.
vs. Hon. Rodrigo Duterte," for Judicial Declaration of Nullity and Illegality of City Hence, the present recourse.
Council of Davao Resolutions and Ordinances, and the Computer Contract
executed Pursuant Thereto, for Recovery of Sum of Money, Professional Fees Petitioners allege that:
and Costs — with Injunctive Relief, including the Issuance of a Restraining
Order and/or a Writ of Preliminary Prohibitory Injunction in which they filed a THE HONORABLE SANDIGANBAYAN COMMITTED GRAVE ABUSE OF
motion to dismiss, not an answer and (2) the respective comments, also under DISCRETION AMOUNTING TO LACK OR EXCESS OF JURISDICTION IN
oath, on the Special Audit Report No. 91-05, a copy of which is attached. 11 DENYING PETITIONERS' MOTION TO QUASH AND MOTION FOR
RECONSIDERATION, CONSIDERING THAT:
On 4 December 1991, the Ombudsman received the affidavits of the Special
Audit Team but failed to furnish petitioners copies thereof. A

On 18 February 1992, petitioners submitted a manifestation adopting the (1) PETITIONERS WERE EFFECTIVELY DEPRIVED OF THEIR
comments filed by their co-respondents Jorge Silvosa and Mariano Kintanar RIGHT TO A PRELIMINARY INVESTIGATION PURSUANT TO SEC. 4, RULE
dated 25 November 1991 and 17 January 1992, respectively. II OF ADMINISTRATIVE ORDER NO. 07 (RULES OF PROCEDURE OF THE
OFFICE OF THE OMBUDSMAN); AND
Four years after, or on 22 February 1996, petitioners received a copy of a
Memorandum prepared by Special Prosecution Officer I, Lemuel M. De Guzman (2) ASSUMING THAT A PRELIMINARY INVESTIGATION WAS
dated 8 February 1996 addressed to Ombudsman Aniano A. Desierto regarding PROPERLY CONDUCTED, THERE WAS AN INORDINATE DELAY IN
OMB-MIN-90-0425 and OMB-3-91-1768. Prosecutor De Guzman TERMINATING THE SAME THEREBY DEPRIVING THEM OF THEIR RIGHT
recommended that the charges of malversation, violation of Sec. 3(e), R.A. No. TO DUE PROCESS AND SPEEDY DISPOSITION OF THE CASE.
3019 and Art. 177, Revised Penal Code against petitioners and their co-
respondents be dismissed. He opined that any issue pertaining to unwarranted B
benefits or injury to the government and malversation were rendered moot and
academic by the mutual rescission of the subject contract before the COA THERE IS NO SUFFICIENT BASIS, IN FACT AND IN LAW, TO CHARGE
submitted its findings (SAR No. 91-05) or before the disbursement was PETITIONERS DUTERTE AND DE GUZMAN OF VIOLATING SEC. 3 (G) OF
disallowed. However, Prosecutor De Guzman recommended that petitioners be R.A. 3019 IN THAT:
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 (1) PETITIONER DUTERTE ACTED IN GOOD FAITH AND WAS
profit, unwarranted benefits or loss to government being immaterial."12 CLOTHED WITH FULL LEGAL AUTHORITY FROM THE CITY COUNCIL TO
ENTER INTO A CONTRACT WITH SYSTEMS PLUS, INC.;
Accordingly, the following information dated 8 February 1996 was filed against
petitioners before the Sandiganbayan (docketed as Criminal Case No. 23193): (2) THERE IS NO CONTRACT MANIFESTLY AND GROSSLY
DISADVANTAGEOUS TO THE GOVERNMENT TO SPEAK OF AS THE SAME
That on or about November 5, 1990, in the City of Davao, Philippines, and within HAS BEEN RESCINDED AND NO DAMAGE WAS SUFFERED BY THE CITY
the jurisdiction of this Honorable Court, the above-named accused, both public GOVERNMENT;
officers, accused Rodrigo R. Duterte being then the City Mayor and accused
Benjamin C. De Guzman being then the City Administrator of Davao City, (3) ASSUMING THAT THE CONTRACT WAS NOT RESCINDED, THE
committing the crime herein charged in relation to, while in the performance and SAME CANNOT BE CONSIDERED AS MANIFESTLY AND GROSSLY
taking advantage of their official functions, and conspiring and confederating DISADVANTAGEOUS TO THE GOVERNMENT. 16
with each other, did then and there willfully, unlawfully and criminally enter into
a negotiated contract for the purchase of computer hardware and accessories On 4 September 1997, the Court issued a Temporary Restraining Order
with the Systems Plus, Incorporated for and in consideration of the amount of enjoining the Sandiganbayan from further proceeding with Criminal Case No.
PESOS: ELEVEN MILLION SIX HUNDRED FIFTY-SIX THOUSAND EIGHT 23193.
HUNDRED TEN (P11,656,810.00), which contract is manifestly and grossly
disadvantageous to the government, said accused knowing fully-well that the The Court finds the petition meritorious.
said acquisition cost has been overpriced by as much as twelve hundred
(1200%) percent and without subjecting said acquisition to the required public I
bidding.
We have judiciously studied the case records and we find that the preliminary
CONTRARY TO LAW. 13 investigation of the charges against petitioners has been conducted not in the
manner laid down in Administrative Order No. 07.
On 27 February 1996, petitioners filed a motion for reconsideration and on 29
March 1996, a Supplemental Motion for Reconsideration on the following In the 12 November 1991 Order of Graft Investigator Manriquez, petitioners
grounds: were merely directed to submit a point-by-point comment under oath on the
allegations in Civil Case No. 20,550-91 and on SAR No. 91-05. The said order
1. Petitioners were deprived of their right to a preliminary investigation, was not accompanied by a single affidavit of any person charging petitioners of
due process and the speedy disposition of their case; any offense as required by law.17 They were just required to comment upon the
allegations in Civil Case No. 20,550-91 of the Regional Trial Court of Davao City
2. Petitioner Duterte acted in good faith and was clothed with authority which had earlier been dismissed and on the COA Special Audit Report.
to enter into the subject contract; 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
3. There is no contract manifestly and grossly disadvantageous to the investigation was being conducted. If Graft Investigator Manriquez had intended
government since the subject contract has been duly rescinded. merely to adopt the allegations of the plaintiffs in the civil case or the Special
Audit Report (whose recommendation for the cancellation of the contract in
On 19 March 1996, the Ombudsman issued a Resolution denying petitioners' question had been complied with) as his bases for criminal prosecution, then
motion for reconsideration. the procedure was plainly anomalous and highly irregular. As a consequence,
petitioners' constitutional right to due process was violated.
On 18 June 1997, petitioners filed a Motion to Quash which was denied by the
Sandiganbayan in its Order dated 27 June 1997. The Sandiganbayan ruled: Sections (2) and (4), Rule II of Administrative Order No. 07 (Rules of Procedure
of the Office of the Ombudsman) provide:
It appears, however, that the accused were able to file motions for the
reconsideration of the Resolution authorizing the filing of the Information herein Sec. 2. Evaluation. — Upon evaluating the complaint, the
with the Ombudsman in Manila. This would mean, therefore, that whatever investigating officer shall recommend whether or not it may be:
decision which might have occurred with respect to the preliminary investigation
would have been remedied by the motion for reconsideration in the sense that a) dismissed outright for want of palpable merit;

Page 12 of 34
b) referred to respondent for comment; public trial. 18 It is also intended to protect the state from having to conduct
useless and expensive trials.19 While the right is statutory rather than
c) endorsed to the proper government office or agency which has constitutional in its fundament, it is a component part of due process in criminal
jurisdiction over the case; justice. The right to have a preliminary investigation conducted before being
bound over to trial for a criminal offense and hence formally at risk of
d) forwarded to the appropriate office or official for fact-finding incarceration or some other penalty, is not a mere formal or technical right; it is
investigation; a substantive right. To deny the accused's claim to a preliminary investigation
would be to deprive him of the full measure of his right to due process.20
e) referred for administrative adjudication; or
Note that in preliminary investigation, if the complaint is unverified or based only
f) subjected to a preliminary investigation on official reports (which is the situation obtaining in the case at bar), the
complainant is required to submit affidavits to substantiate the complaint. The
xxx xxx xxx investigating officer, thereafter, shall issue an order, to which copies of the
complaint-affidavit are attached, requiring the respondent to submit his counter-
Sec. 4. Procedure. — The preliminary investigation of cases falling under affidavits. In the preliminary investigation, what the respondent is required to file
the jurisdiction of the Sandiganbayan and Regional Trial Courts shall be is a counter-affidavit, not a comment. It is only when the respondent fails to file
conducted in the manner prescribed in Section 3, Rule 112 of the Rules of Court, a counter-affidavit may the investigating officer consider the respondent's
subject to the following provisions: comment as the answer to the complaint. Against the foregoing backdrop, there
was a palpable non-observance by the Office of the Ombudsman of the
a) If the complaint is not under oath or is based only on official reports, fundamental requirements of preliminary investigation.
the investigating officer shall require the complainant or supporting witnesses to
execute affidavits to substantiate the complaints. Apparently, in the case at bar, the investigating officer considered the filing of
petitioner's comment as a substantial compliance with the requirements of a
b) After such affidavits have been secured, the investigating officer preliminary investigation. Initially, Graft Investigator Manriquez directed the
shall issue an order, attaching thereto a copy of the affidavits and other members of the Special Audit Team on 9 October 1991 to submit their affidavits
supporting documents, directing the respondent to submit, within ten (10) days relative to SAR No. 91-05. However, on 12 November 1991, before the affidavits
from receipt thereof, his counter-affidavits and controverting evidence with proof were submitted, Manriquez required petitioners to submit their respective
of service thereof on the complainant. The complainant may file reply affidavits comments on the complaint in the civil case and on Special Audit Report (SAR)
within ten (10) days after service of the counter-affidavits. 91-05. Even when the required affidavits were filed by the audit team on 4
December 1991, petitioners were still not furnished copies thereof. The
c) If the respondent does not file a counter-affidavit, the investigating Ombudsman contends that failure to provide petitioners the complaint-affidavits
officer may consider the comment filed by him, if any, as his answer to the is immaterial since petitioners were well aware of the existence of the civil
complaint. In any event, the respondent shall have access to the evidence on complaint and SAR No. 91-05. We find the Ombudsman's reasoning flawed.
record. The civil complaint and the COA Special Audit Report are not equivalent to the
complaint-affidavits required by the rules. Moreover, long before petitioners
d) No motion to dismiss shall be allowed except for lack of jurisdiction. were directed to file their comments, the civil complaint (Civil Case No. 20,550-
Neither may a motion for a bill of particulars be entertained. If respondent 91) was rendered moot and academic and, accordingly, dismissed following the
desires any matter in the complainant's affidavit to be clarified, the mutual cancellation of the computerization contract. In SAR No. 91-05, on the
particularization thereof may be done at the time of clarificatory questioning in other hand, petitioners were merely advised to rescind the subject contract —
the manner provided in paragraph (f) of this section. which was accomplished even before the audit report came out. In light of these
circumstances, the Court cannot blame petitioners for being unaware of the
e) If the respondent cannot be served with the order mentioned in proceedings conducted against them.
paragraph 6 hereof, or having been served, does not comply therewith, the
complaint shall be deemed submitted for resolution on the basis of the evidence In Olivas vs. Office of the Ombudsman,21 this Court, speaking through Justice
on record. Vicente V. Mendoza, emphasized that it is mandatory requirement for the
complainant to submit his affidavit and those of his witnesses before the
f) If, after the filing of the requisite affidavits and their supporting respondent can be compelled to submit his counter-affidavits and other
evidences, there are facts material to the case which the investigating officer supporting documents. Thus:
may need to be clarified on, he may conduct a clarificatory hearing during which
the parties shall be afforded the opportunity to be present but without the right Even in investigations looking to the prosecution of a party, Rule I, § 3 can only
to examine or cross-examine the witness being questioned. Where the apply to the general criminal investigation, which in the case at bar was already
appearance of the parties or witnesses is impracticable, the clarificatory conducted by the PCGG. But after the Ombudsman and his deputies have
questioning may be conducted in writing, whereby the questions desired to be gathered evidence and their investigation has ceased to be a general
asked by the investigating officer or a party shall be reduced into writing and exploratory one and they decide to bring the action against a party, their
served on the witness concerned who shall be required to answer the same in proceedings become adversary and Rule II 4(a) then applies. This means that
writing and under oath. before the respondent can be required to submit counter-affidavits and other
supporting documents, the complaint must submit his affidavit and those of his
g) Upon the termination of the preliminary investigation, the witnesses. This is true not only of prosecutions of graft cases under Rep. Act
investigating officer shall forward the records of the case together with his No. 3019 but also of actions for the recovery of unexplained wealth under Rep.
resolution to the designated authorities for their appropriate action thereon. Act No. 1379, because § 2 of this latter law requires that before a petition is filed
there must be a "previous inquiry similar to preliminary investigation in criminal
No information may be filed and no complaint may be dismissed without the cases."
written authority or approval of the Ombudsman in cases falling within the
jurisdiction of the Sandiganbayan, or the proper Deputy Ombudsman in all other Indeed, since a preliminary investigation is designed to screen cases for trial,
cases. only evidence may be considered. While reports and even raw information may
justify the initiation of an investigation, the stage of preliminary investigation can
In what passes off as application of the foregoing rules, all that petitioners were be held only after sufficient evidence has been gathered and evaluated
asked to do was merely to file their comment upon every allegation of the warranting the eventual prosecution of the case in court. As this Court held in
complaint in Civil Case No. 20,550-91 in the Regional Trial Court (RTC) and on Cojuangco, Jr. v. PCGG:
the COA Special Audit Report. The comment referred to in Section 2(b) Rule II,
of A.O. No. 07 is not part of or is equivalent to the preliminary investigation Although such a preliminary investigation is not a trial and is not intended to
contemplated in Sec. 4, Rule II, of the same Administrative Order. A plain usurp the function of the trial court, it is not a casual affair. The officer conducting
reading of Sec. 2 would convey the idea that upon evaluation of the complaint, the same investigates or inquires into the facts concerning the commission of
the investigating officer may recommend its outright dismissal for palpable want the crime with the end in view of determining whether or not an information may
of merit; otherwise, or if the complaint appears to have some merit, the be prepared against the accused. Indeed, a preliminary investigation is in effect
investigator may recommend action under any of those enumerated from (b) to a realistic judicial appraisal of the merits of the case. Sufficient proof of the guilt
(f), that is, the investigator may recommend that the complaint be: referred to of the accused must be adduced so that when the case is tried, the trial court
respondent for comment, or endorsed to the proper government office or agency may not be bound as a matter of law to order an acquittal. A preliminary
which has jurisdiction over the case; or forwarded to the appropriate office or investigation has then been called a judicial inquiry. It is a judicial proceeding.
official for fact-finding investigation; or referred for administrative adjudication; An act becomes judicial when there is opportunity to be heard and for the
or subjected to preliminary investigation. Now, if the investigator opts to production and weighing of evidence, and a decision is rendered thereof.
recommend the filing of a comment by the respondent, it is presumably because
he needs more facts and information for further evaluation of the merits of the II
complaint. That being done, the investigating officer shall again recommend any
one of the actions enumerated in Section 2, which include the conduct of a Compounding the deprivation of petitioners of their right to a preliminary
preliminary investigation. investigation was the undue and unreasonable delay in the termination of the
irregularly conducted preliminary investigation. Petitioners' manifestation
A preliminary investigation, on the other hand, takes on an adversarial quality adopting the comments of their co-respondents was filed on 18 February 1992.
and an entirely different procedure comes into play. This must be so because However, it was only on 22 February 1996 or four (4) years later, that petitioners
the purpose of a preliminary investigation or a previous inquiry of some kind, received a memorandum dated 8 February 1996 submitted by Special
before an accused person is placed on trial, is to secure the innocent against Prosecutor Officer I Lemuel M. De Guzman recommending the filing of
hasty, malicious and oppressive prosecution, and to protect him from an open information against them for violation of Sec. 3(g) of R.A. No. 3019 (Anti-Graft
and public accusation of a crime, from the trouble, expenses and anxiety of and Corrupt Practices Act). The inordinate delay in the conduct of the
Page 13 of 34
"preliminary investigation" infringed upon their constitutionally guaranteed right makes no such distinction. While political motivation in Tatad may have been a
to a speedy disposition of their case.22 In Tatad vs. Sandiganbayan,23 we held factor in the undue delay in the termination of the preliminary investigation
that an undue delay of close to three (3) years in the termination of the therein to justify the invocation of their right to speedy disposition of cases, the
preliminary investigation in the light of the circumstances obtaining in that case particular facts of each case must be taken into consideration in the grant of the
warranted the dismissal of the case: relief sought. In the Tatad case, we are reminded:

We find the long delay in the termination of the preliminary investigation by the In a number of cases, this Court has not hesitated to grant the so-called "radical
Tanodbayan in the instant case to be violative of the constitutional right of the relief" and to spare the accused from undergoing the rigors and expense of a
accused to due process. Substantial adherence to the requirements of the law full-blown trial where it is clear that he has been deprived of due process of law
governing the conduct of preliminary investigation, including substantial or other constitutionally guaranteed rights. Of course, it goes without saying that
compliance with the time limitation prescribed by the law for the resolution of the in the application of the doctrine enunciated in those cases, particular regard
case by the prosecutor, is part of the procedural due process constitutionally must be taken of the facts and circumstances peculiar to its case. 27
guaranteed by the fundamental law. Not only under the broad umbrella of the
due process clause, but under the constitutional guarantee of "speedy In Alviso vs. Sandiganbayan,28 the Court observed that the concept of speedy
disposition" of cases as embodied in Section 16 of the Bill of Rights (both in the disposition of cases "is a relative term and must necessarily be a flexible
1973 and 1987 Constitution), the inordinate delay is violative of the petitioner's concept" and that the factors that may be considered and balanced are the
constitutional rights. A delay of close to three (3) years can not be deemed "length of the delay, the assertion or failure to assert such right by the accused,
reasonable or justifiable in the light of the circumstances obtaining in the case and the prejudice caused by the delay."
at bar. We are not impressed by the attempt of the Sandiganbayan to sanitize
the long delay by indulging in the speculative assumption that "the delay may Petitioners in this case, however, could not have urged the speedy resolution of
be due to a painstaking and grueling scrutiny by the Tanodbayan as to whether their case because they were completely unaware that the investigation against
the evidence presented during the preliminary investigation merited prosecution them was still on-going. Peculiar to this case, we reiterate, is the fact that
of a former high-ranking government official." In the first place, such a statement petitioners were merely asked to comment, and not file counter-affidavits which
suggests a double standard of treatment, which must be emphatically rejected. is the proper procedure to follow in a preliminary investigation. After giving their
Secondly, three out of the five charges against the petitioner were for his alleged explanation and after four long years of being in the dark, petitioners, naturally,
failure to file his sworn statement of assets and liabilities required by Republic had reason to assume that the charges against them had already been
Act No. 3019, which certainly did not involve complicated legal and factual dismissed.
issues necessitating such "painstaking and grueling scrutiny" as would justify a
delay of almost three years in terminating the preliminary investigation. The On the other hand, the Office of the Ombudsman failed to present any plausible,
other two charges relating to alleged bribery and alleged giving of unwarranted special or even novel reason which could justify the four-year delay in
benefits to a relative, while presenting more substantial legal and factual issues, terminating its investigation. Its excuse for the delay — the many layers of
certainly do not warrant or justify the period of three years, which it took the review that the case had to undergo and the meticulous scrutiny it had to entail
Tanodbayan to resolve the case. — has lost its novelty and is no longer appealing, as was the invocation in the
Tatad case. The incident before us does not involve complicated factual and
It has been suggested that the long delay in terminating the preliminary legal issues, specially in view of the fact that the subject computerization
investigation should not be deemed fatal, for even the complete absence of a contract had been mutually cancelled by the parties thereto even before the
preliminary investigation does not warrant dismissal of the information. True — Anti-Graft League filed its complaint.
but the absence of a preliminary investigation can be corrected by giving the
accused such investigation. But an undue delay in the conduct of the preliminary The Office of the Ombudsman capitalizes on petitioners' three motions for
investigation can not be corrected, for until now, man has not yet invented a extension of time to file comment which it imputed for the delay. However, the
device for setting back time. delay was not caused by the motions for extension. The delay occurred after
petitioners filed their comment. Between 1992 to 1996, petitioners were under
In the recent case of Angchangco, Jr. vs. Ombudsman,24 the Court upheld no obligation to make any move because there was no preliminary investigation
Angchangco's right to the speedy disposition of his case. Angchangco was a within the contemplation of Section 4, Rule II of A.O. No. 07 to speak of in the
sheriff in the Regional Trial Court of Agusan del Norte and Butuan City. In 1990 first place.
criminal complaints were filed against him which remained pending before the
Ombudsman even after his retirement in 1994. The Court thus ruled: III

Here, the Office of the Ombudsman, due to its failure to resolve the criminal Finally, under the facts of the case, there is no basis in law or in fact to charge
charges against petitioner for more than six years, has transgressed on the petitioners for violation of Sec. 3(g) of R.A. No. 3019. To establish probable
constitutional right of petitioner to due process and to a speedy disposition of cause against the offender for violation of Sec. 3(g), the following elements must
the cases against him, as well as the Ombudsman's own constitutional duty to be present: (1) the offender is a public officer; (2) he entered into a contract or
act promptly on complaints filed before it. For all these past 6 years, petitioner transaction in behalf of the government; and (3) the contract or transaction is
has remained under a cloud, and since his retirement in September 1994, he grossly and manifestly disadvantageous to the government. The second
has been deprived of the fruits of his retirement after serving the government for element of the crime — that the accused public officers entered into a contract
over 42 years all because of the inaction of respondent Ombudsman. If we wait in behalf of the government — is absent. The computerization contract was
any longer, it may be too late for petitioner to receive his retirement benefits, not rescinded on 6 May 1991 before SAR No. 91-05 came out on 31 May 1991 and
to speak of clearing his name. This is a case of plain injustice which calls for the before the Anti-Graft League filed its complaint with the Ombudsman on 1
issuance of the writ prayed for. 25 August 1991. Hence, at that time the Anti-Graft League instituted their complaint
and the Ombudsman issued its Order on 12 November 1991, there was no
We are not persuaded by the Ombudsman's argument that the Tatad ruling longer any contract to speak of. The contract, after 6 May 1991 became in
does not apply to the present case which is not politically motivated unlike the contemplation of law, non-existent, as if no contract was ever executed.
former, pointing out the following findings of the Court in the Tatad decision:
WHEREFORE, premises considered, the petition is GRANTED and Criminal
A painstaking review of the facts can not but leave the impression that political Case No. 23193 is hereby DISMISSED. The temporary restraining order issued
motivations played a vital role in activating and propelling the prosecutorial on 4 September 1997 is made PERMANENT.
process in this case. Firstly, the complaint came to life, as it were, only after
petitioner Tatad had a falling out with President Marcos. Secondly, departing SO ORDERED.
from established procedures prescribed by law for preliminary investigation,
which require the submission of affidavits and counter-affidavits by the Narvasa, C.J., Romero and Purisima, JJ., concur.
complainant and the respondent and their witnesses, the Tanodbayan referred
the complaint to the Presidential Security Command for fact-finding investigation
and report.
Republic of the Philippines
We find such blatant departure from the established procedure as a dubious, SUPREME COURT
but revealing attempt to involve an office directly under the President in the Manila
prosecutorial process, lending credence to the suspicion that the prosecution
was politically motivated. We cannot emphasize too strongly that prosecutors EN BANC
should not allow, and should avoid, giving the impression that their noble office
is being used or prostituted, wittingly or unwittingly, for political ends, or other G.R. Nos. 120681-83 October 1, 1999
purposes alien to, or subversive of, the basic and fundamental objective
observing the interest of justice evenhandedly, without fear or favor to any and JEJOMAR C. BINAY, petitioner,
all litigants alike whether rich or poor, weak or strong, powerless or mighty. Only vs.
by strict adherence to the established procedure may be public's perception of HON. SANDIGANBAYAN (Third Division) and the DEPARTMENT OF
the impartiality of the prosecutor be enhanced. 26 INTERIOR AND LOCAL GOVERNMENT, respondents.

The Ombudsman endeavored to distinguish the present suit from the G.R. No. 128136 October 1, 1999
Angchangco case by arguing that in the latter, Angchangco filed several motions
for early resolution, implying that in the case at bar petitioners were not as MARIO C. MAGSAYSAY, FRANCISCO B. CASTILLO, CRISTINA D. MABIOG,
vigilant in asserting or protecting their rights. REGINO E. MALAPIT, ERLINDA I. MASANGCAY and VICENTE DE LA ROSA,
petitioner,
We disagree. The constitutional right to speedy disposition of cases does not vs.
come into play only when political considerations are involved. The Constitution
Page 14 of 34
HON. SANDIGANBAYAN, HON. OMBUDSMAN and its PROSECUTOR salary which merits a grade lower than Grade "27" does not hold water. In 1986
WENDELL BARERRAS-SULIT and STATE PROSECUTORS ERIC HENRY when the herein offenses were committed by the accused, the Compensation &
JOSEPH F. MALLONGA and GIDEON C. MENDOZA, respondents. Position Classification Act of 1989 was not as yet in existence. From the very
definition of the very Act itself, it is evident that the Act was passed and had
KAPUNAN, J.: been effective only in 1989. The Grade classification of a public officer, whether
at the time of the commission of the offense or thereafter, is determined by his
Pursuant to Section 4, Article XIII of the 1973 Constitution, Presidential Decree classification under the Compensation & Position Classification Act of 1989.
No. 1486 created an Anti-Graft Court known as the Sandiganbayan. Since then Thus since the accused Mayor Jejomar C. Binay was a Municipal Mayor at the
the jurisdiction of the Sandiganbayan has undergone various time of the commission of the offenses and the Compensation & Position
changes, 1 the most recent of which were effected through Republic Act Nos. Classification Act of 1989 classifies Municipal Mayors as Grade "27", it is a
7975 2 and 8249. 3 Whether the Sandiganbayan, under these laws, exercises conclusion beyond cavil that the Sandiganbayan has jurisdiction over the
exclusive original jurisdiction over criminal cases involving municipal mayors accused herein.
accused of violations of Republic Act No. 3019 4 and Article 220 of the Revised
Penal Code 5 is the central issue in these consolidated petitions. As of July 1, 1989, when Republic Act No. 6758 took effect, Municipal Mayor
Jejomar C. Binay had begun receiving a monthly salary of P15,180.00 which is
In G.R. Nos. 120681-83, petitioner Jejomar Binay seeks to annul, among others, equivalent to Grade "28" under the salary scale provided for in Section 27 of the
the Resolution of the Sandiganbayan denying his motion to refer Criminal Case said Act. Under the Index of Occupational Services, the position titles and salary
Nos. 21001, 21005 and 21007 to the Regional Trial Court (RTC) of Makati and grades of the Compensation & Position Classification system prepared by the
declaring that the Sandiganbayan has jurisdiction over said cases despite the Department of Budget and Management pursuant to Section 6 of Republic [A]ct
enactment of R.A. No. 7975. No. 6758, the position of Municipal Mayor had been classified as Grade "27."
11
In G.R. No. 128136, petitioner Mario C. Magsaysay, et al. assail the October 22,
1996 Resolution of the Sandiganbayan, reversing its Order of June 21, 1996 On July 7, 1995, petitioner filed the present petition for certiorari, prohibition and
which suspended the proceedings in Criminal Case No 23278 in deference to mandamus questioning the jurisdiction of the Sandiganbayan over Criminal
whatever ruling this Court will lay down in the Binay cases.1âwphi1.nêt Case Nos. 21001, 21005 and 21007. He prayed, among others, that the Court
annul and set aside: (1) the Resolution of the Sandiganbayan dated June 6,
The, facts, as gathered from the records, are as follows: 1995 reiterating the denial of the motion for reconsideration of the motion to
quash; (2) the Resolution of the same court also dated June 6, 1995 reiterating
G.R. Nos. 120681-83 the order suspending petitioner pendente lite; and (3) the Resolution of the
Sandiganbayan dated July 4, 1995 denying the motion to refer case to the RTC.
On September 7, 1994, the Office of the Ombudsman filed before the Petitioner also asked that the Court issue a temporary restraining order
Sandiganbayan three separate informations against petitioner Jejomar Binay, preventing the suspension and arraignment of petitioner. The Court on July 7,
one for violation of Article 220 of the Revised Penal Code, 6 and two for violation 1995, resolved, among others, to issue the temporary restraining order prayed
of Section 3 (e) of R.A. No. 3019. 7 The informations, which were subsequently for.
amended on September 15, 1994, all alleged that the acts constituting these
crimes were committed in 1987 during petitioner's incumbency as Mayor of On July 14, 1995, petitioner filed an "Addendum to Petition (To allow the
Makati, then a municipality of Metro Manila. introduction of alternative reliefs)," praying that, should this Court hold that the
Sandiganbayan has jurisdiction over the cases, the criminal cases filed against
Thereafter, petitioner moved to quash the informations. He contented that the him be dismissed just the same on the ground that the long delay of the
six-year delay from the time the charges were filed in the Office of the preliminary investigation before the Ombudsman prior to the filing of the
Ombudsman on July 27, 1988 to the time the informations were filed in the informations, deprived him of his right to due process; and that, moreover, there
Sandiganbayan on September 7, 1994 constituted a violation of his right to due was no probable cause to warrant the filing of the informations.
process. Arraignment of the accused was held in abeyance pending the
resolution of this motion. G.R. No. 128136

On March 29, 1995, the Sandiganbayan issued a Resolution denying Petitioner Mario Magsaysay is the Mayor of the Municipality of San Pascual,
petitioner's motion to quash. Petitioner's motion for reconsideration, which was Batangas. Save for petitioner Vicente dela Rosa, all of Mayor Magsaysay's co-
opposed by the prosecution, was likewise denied by the Sandiganbayan. The petitioners are officials of the same municipality.
resolution denying the motion for reconsideration, however, was issued before
petitioner could file a reply to the prosecution's opposition to the motion for In a complaint dated April 16, 1994, Victor Cusi, then Vice-Mayor of San
reconsideration. Pascual, Batangas, charged petitioners along with Elpidia Amada, Jovey C.
Babago, and Brigido H. Buhain, also officials of San Pascual Batangas, with
In the meantime, on March 31, 1995, the prosecution filed a "Motion to Suspend violation of R.A. No. 3019, as amended. The complaint charged the respondent
Accused Pendente Lite." The Sandiganbayan, in a Resolution dated April 25, municipal officials of overpaying Vicente de la Rosa of TDR Construction for the
1995, granted the motion and ordered the suspension of petitioner for ninety landscaping project of the San Pascual Central School. This case was docketed
days from receipt of the resolution. The court ruled that the requisites for in the Office of the Ombudsman as OMB-1-94-1232.
suspension pendente lite were present as petitioner was charged with one of
the offenses under Section 13 of R.A. No. 3019 8 and the informations In a Resolution dated June 14, 1995, Graft Investigation Officer Lourdes A.
containing these charges had previously been held valid in the resolution Alarilla recommended the filing of an information for violation of Section 3(e) and
denying the motion to quash and the resolution denying the motion for (g) of R.A. No. 3019, as amended, against petitioners with the Sandiganbayan.
reconsideration. Director Elvis John S. Asuncion concurred in the resolution, and Manuel C.
Domingo, Deputy Ombudsman for Luzon, recommended approval of the same.
Petitioner thus filed before this Court a petition for certiorari, 9 to set aside the The resolution was approved by then Acting Ombudsman Francisco A. Villa with
resolution denying his motion for reconsideration, claiming that he was denied the following marginal note:
due process when the Sandiganbayan ordered his suspension pendente lite
before he could file a reply to the prosecution's opposition to his motion for Authority is given to the Deputy Ombudsman for Luzon to cause the preparation
reconsideration of the resolution denying the motion to quash. In a Resolution of the information and to approve the same for filing with the proper court. 12
dated April 28, 1995, the Court directed the Sandiganbayan to, among other
things, permit petitioner to file said reply. On August 11, 1995, an Information for violation of Section 3(e) and (g) was
filed against petitioners and Jovey C. Babago, not with the Sandiganbayan per
After allowing and considering petitioner's reply, the Sandiganbayan, on June the June 14, 1995 Resolution, but with the RTC of Batangas City. The
6, 1995, issued a Resolution reiterating the denial of his motion for information was signed by Lourdes A. Alarilla, the same Graft Investigation
reconsideration of the denial of the motion to quash. On the same day, the Officer who recommended the filing of the information with the Sandiganbayan.
Sandiganbayan issued another resolution reiterating the order suspending
petitioner pendente lite. In the meantime, a group denominated as the Concerned Citizens of San
Pascual, Batangas filed a complaint before the Ombudsman against petitioners,
Meanwhile, R.A. No. 7975, redefining the jurisdiction of the Sandiganbayan, and Elpidia Amada and Brigido Buhain, with violations of R.A. No. 3019. The
took effect on May 16, 1995. 10 complaint also alleged, among others, the overpricing of the landscaping project
of San Pascual Central School. The case was docketed as OMB-0-94-0149.
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 In a Resolution dated July 27, 1995, Graft Investigation Officer Ernesto M.
two Resolutions, both dated June 6, 1995, were issued by the Anti-Graft Court, Nocos recommended the filing of an information charging petitioners with
it had already lost jurisdiction over the subject cases. The Sandiganbayan, in a violation of Section 3(e) and (g) of R.A. No. 3019, as amended "with the proper
Resolution dated July 4, 1995, denied petitioner's motion, holding thus: court." The resolution, which was recommended for approval by Nicanor J.
Cruz, OIC-Deputy Ombudsman for Luzon, and approved by Ombudsman
There is no question that Municipal Mayors are classified as Grade "27" under Aniano A. Desierto, adopted the findings and conclusions in the resolution in
the Compensation & Position Classification Act of 1989. Since, at the time of OMB-1-94-1232 that the landscaping project was overpriced.
the commission of the offenses charged in the above-entitled cases, the
accused Mayor Jejomar C. Binay was a Municipal Mayor, although in an acting On February 9, 1996, another Information for violation of Section 3(e)of R.A.
or interim capacity, the Sandiganbayan, has, under Section 4 (e) 5, original No. 3019, as amended, was filed against petitioners for the overpricing of the
jurisdiction over the cases therein filed against him. The allegation that Mayor landscaping project, this time before the Sandiganbayan. The information was
Binay ought to have been classified with a salary grade lower than Grade "27", subsequently amended on May 17, 1996. Except for the date the alleged crime
because at the time of the commission of the offenses charged he was paid a was committed, the information charged essentially the same inculpatory facts
Page 15 of 34
as the information filed in the RTC. The case was docketed in the or imprisonment for six (6) years, or a fine of P6,000.00; PROVIDED,
Sandiganbayan as Crim. Case No. 22378. HOWEVER, that offenses or felonies mentioned in this paragraph where the
penalty prescribed by law does not exceed prision correccional or imprisonment
On June 1, 1996, the accused filed with the Sandiganbayan a motion to quash for six (6) years or a fine of P6,000.00 shall be tried by the proper Regional Trial
the information in Crim. Case No. 22378 on the following grounds: that the Court, Metropolitan Trial Court and Municipal Circuit Trial Court.
Sandiganbayan had no jurisdiction over the case; that the accused were
charged with the same offense in two informations; and that the proceedings in xxx xxx xxx
the Sandiganbayan would expose petitioners to double jeopardy. The
Sandiganbayan denied the accused's motion to quash in a Resolution dated On May 16, 1995, R.A. No. 7975 took effect. At this time, Mayor Binay had not
June 21, 1996. The court, however, suspended proceedings in the case until yet been arraigned in the Sandiganbayan. On the other hand, R.A. No. 7975
the Supreme Court resolved the question of the Sandiganbayan's jurisdiction was already in effect when the information against Mayor Magsaysay et al., was
involved in the Binay petition. filed on August 11, 1995 in the RTC of Batangas City.

Meanwhile, on June 7, 1996, Prosecutor Eric Mallonga filed a motion before the Sec. 2 of R.A. No. 7975 amended Section 4 of P.D. No. 1606 to read as follows:
RTC to refer the R.A. No. 3019 case pending therein to the Sandiganbayan,
arguing that under R.A. No. 7975 the Sandiganbayan, not the RTC, had Sec. 4. Jurisdiction. — The Sandiganbayan shall exercise original jurisdiction in
jurisdiction over the case. On July 3, 1996, the RTC issued an order holding in all cases involving:
abeyance the resolution of the motion to refer the case since the issue of
jurisdiction was pending before the Sandiganbayan. a. Violations of Republic Act No. 3019, as amended, otherwise known
as the Anti-Graft and Corrupt Practices Act, Republic Act No. 1379, and Chapter
Back at the Sandiganbayan, the prosecution, on July 24, 1996, filed a motion II, Section 2, Title VII of the Revised Penal Code, where one or more of the
for reconsideration of the Sandiganbayan's Order dated June 21, 1996. On principal accused are officials occupying the following positions in the
August 2, 1996, filed their own motion for the reconsideration of the same order. government, whether in a permanent, acting or interim capacity, at the time of
On October 22, 1996, the Sandiganbayan granted the motion for the commission of the offense:
reconsideration filed by the prosecution and set the case for arraignment.
Petitioners moved for a reconsideration of the October 22, 1996 Resolution (1) Officials of the executive branch occupying the positions of regional
ordering their arraignment, which motion was denied on February 17, 1997. director and higher, otherwise classified as grade "27" and higher, of the
Compensation and Position Classification Act of 1989 (Republic Act No. 6758),
On February 27, 1997, the accused filed the present petition. specifically including:

On October 1, 1997, the Court resolved to issue a temporary restraining order (a) Provincial governors, vice-governors, members of the sangguniang
to prevent respondents from further proceeding with Crim. Case No. 23278 of panlalawigan, and provincial treasurers, assessors, engineers, and other
the Sandiganbayan. provincial department heads;

The petition raises the following issues: (b) City mayors, vice-mayors, members of the sangguniang panlunsod,
city treasurers, assessors, engineers, and other city department heads;
I
(c) Officials of the diplomatic service occupying the position of consul
Had the Sandiganbayan been ousted of its jurisdiction over the case of and higher;
municipal mayor after the passage of Republic Act No. 7975, coupled with the
filing earlier of an information for the same offense before the Regional Trial (d) Philippine army and air force colonels, naval captains, and all
Court having territorial jurisdiction and venue of the commission of the offense? officers of higher rank;

II (e) PNP chief superintendent and PNP officers of higher rank;

Are the respondents Ombudsman and the prosecutors estopped by laches or (f) City and provincial prosecutors and their assistants, and officials
waiver from filing and prosecuting the case before respondent Sandiganbayan and prosecutors in the Office of the Ombudsman and special prosecutor;
after the filing earlier of the information in the proper court, thereafter repudiating
it, seeking another court of the same category and finally to respondent court? (g) Presidents, directors or trustees, or managers of government-
owned or controlled corporations, state universities or educational institutions or
III foundations;

Whether or not the filing of two (2) informations for the same offense violated (2) Members of Congress and officials thereof classified as Grade "27"
the rule on duplicity of information? and up under the Compensation and Position Classification Act of 1989;

IV (3) Members of the judiciary without prejudice to the provisions of the


Constitution;
Whether or not the trial to be conducted by respondent court, if the case shall
not be dismissed, will expose the petitioners who are accused therein to double (4) Chairmen and members of Constitutional Commissions, without
jeopardy? prejudice to the provisions of the Constitution; and

V (5) All other national and local officials classified as Grade "27" and
higher under the Compensation and Position Classification Act of 1989.
Under the circumstances, are the respondent Ombudsman and the prosecutors
guilty of forum shopping? 13 b. Other offenses or felonies committed by the public officials and
employees mentioned in subsection (a) of this section in relation to their office.
On October 6, 1997, the Court resolved to consolidate G.R. No. 128136 (the
Magsaysay petition) with G.R. Nos. 120681-83 (the Binay petition). c. Civil and criminal cases filed pursuant to and in connection with
Executive Order Nos. 1, 2, 14 and 14-A.
In resolving these consolidated petitions, the Court shall first address the
common question of the Sandiganbayan's jurisdiction. In cases where none of the principal accused are occupying positions
corresponding to salary grade "27" or higher, as prescribed in the said Republic
I Act No. 6758, or PNP officers occupying the rank of superintendent or higher,
or their equivalent, exclusive jurisdiction thereof shall be vested in the proper
The Court rules that it is the Sandiganbayan which has jurisdiction over the Regional Trial Court, Metropolitan Trial Court, Municipal Trial Court, and
subject cases. Municipal Circuit Trial Court, as the case may be, pursuant to their respective
jurisdiction as provided in Batas Pambansa Blg. 129.
The informations against Mayor Binay were filed in the Sandiganbayan on July
7, 1994 pursuant to Presidential Decree No. 1606,14 as amended by xxx xxx xxx
Presidential Decree No. 1861, 15 the pertinent provisions of which state:
While the cases against petitioners were pending in this Court, Congress
Sec. 4. Jurisdiction. — The Sandiganbayan shall exercise: enacted R.A. No. 8249, again redefining the jurisdiction of the Anti-Graft Court.
This law took effect, per Section 10 thereof, on February 23, 1997, fifteen days
(a) Exclusive original jurisdiction in all cases involving: after its complete publication on February 8, 1997 in the Journal and Malaya,
two newspapers of general circulation.
(1) Violations of Republic Act No. 3019, as amended, otherwise known
as the Anti-Graft and Corrupt Practices Act, Republic Act No. 1379, and Chapter As further amended by Section 4 of R.A. No. 8249, Section 4 of P.D. No. 1606
II, Section 2, Title VII of the Revised Penal Code; now reads:

(2) Other offenses or felonies committed by public officers and Sec. 4. Jurisdiction. — The Sandiganbayan shall exercise exclusive original
employees in relation to their office, including those employed in government- jurisdiction in all cases involving:
owned or controlled corporations, whether simple or complexed with other
crimes, where the penalty prescribed by law is higher than prision correccional
Page 16 of 34
a. Violations of Republic Act No. 3019, as amended, otherwise known
as the Anti-Graft and Corrupt Practices Act, Republic Act No. 1379, and Chapter . . . that the basic monthly salary received by Mario C. Magsaysay Municipal
II, Section 2, Title VII, Book II of the Revised Penal Code, where one or more of Mayor of San Pascual, Batangas with Salary Grade 27 is ELEVEN THOUSAND
the accused are officials occupying the following positions in the government, EIGHT HUNDRED TWENTY EIGHT PESOS (P11,828.00) per month as of
whether in a permanent, acting or interim capacity, at the time of the commission November 3, 1993 equivalent only to Grade 25, Step 5 of RA 6758, the
of the offense: Compensation and Position Classification Act of 1989.

(1) Officials of the executive branch occupying the position of regional Sec. 444(1) (Grad[e] 27) of RA 6758 is not as yet implemented due to budgetary
director and higher, otherwise classified as grade "27" and higher, of the constraints. This certification is issued to Mayor Mario C. Magsaysay this 30th
Compensation and Position Classification Act of 1989 (Republic Act No. 6758), day of May 1996 at San Pascual, Batangas for whatever legal purpose and/or
specifically including: purposes it may serve.

(a) Provincial governors, vice-governors, members of the sangguniang The Court does not subscribe to the manner by which petitioners classify
panlalawigan, and provincial treasurers, assessors, engineers, and other Grades.
provincial department heads;
The Constitution 19 states that in providing for the standardization of
(b) City mayors, vice-mayors, members of the sangguniang panlunsod, compensation of government officials and employees, Congress shall take "into
city treasurers, assessors, engineers, and other city department heads; account the nature of the responsibilities pertaining to, and the qualifications
required for their positions," thus:
(c) Officials of the diplomatic service occupying the position of consul
and higher; The Congress shall provide for the standardization of compensation of
government officials, including those in government-owned or controlled
(d) Philippine army and air force colonels, naval captains, and all corporations with original charters, taking into account the nature of the
officers of higher rank; responsibilities pertaining to, and the qualifications required for their positions.

(e) Officers of the Philippine National Police while occupying the Corollary thereto, Republic Act No. 6758 20 provides in Section 2 thereof that
position of provincial director and those holding the rank of senior differences in pay are to be based "upon substantive differences in duties and
superintendent or higher; responsibilities, and qualification requirements of the positions." In short, the
nature of an official's position should be the determining factor in the fixing of
(f) City and provincial prosecutors and their assistants, and officials his or her salary. This is not only mandated by law but dictated by logic as well.
and prosecutors in the Office of the Ombudsman and special prosecutor;
Consistent with these policies, the law employs the scheme known as the
(g) Presidents, directors or trustees, or managers of government- "grade" defined in Presidential Decree No. 985 21 as including
owned or controlled corporations, state universities or educational institutions or
foundations. . . . all classes of positions which, although different with respect to kind or
subject matter of work, are sufficiently equivalent as to level of difficulty and
(2) Members of Congress and officials thereof classified as Grade "27" responsibilities and level of qualification requirements of the work to warrant the
and up under the Compensation and Position Classification Act of 1989; inclusion of such classes of positions within one range of basic compensation.
22
(3) Members of the judiciary without prejudice to the provisions of the
Constitution; The grade, therefore, depends upon the nature of one's position — the level of
difficulty, responsibilities, and qualification requirements thereof — relative to
(4) Chairmen and members of Constitutional Commissions, without that of another position. It is the official's Grade that determines his or her salary,
prejudice to the provisions of the Constitution; and not the other way around.

(5) All other national and local officials classified as Grade "27" and It is possible that a local government official's salary may be less than that
higher under the Compensation and Position Classification Act of 1989. prescribed for his Grade since his salary depends also on the class and financial
capability of his or her respective local government unit. 23 Nevertheless, it is
b. Other offenses or felonies whether simple or complexed with other the law which fixes the official's grade.
crimes committed by the public officials and employees mentioned in subsection
(a) of this section in relation to their office. Thus, Section 8 of R.A. No. 6758 fixes the salary grades of the President, Vice-
President, Senate President, Speaker, Chief Justice, Senators, Members of the
d. Civil and criminal cases filed pursuant to and in connection with House of Representatives, Associate Justices of the Supreme Court, as well as
Executive Order Nos. 1, 2, 14 and 14-A, issued in 1986. the Chairmen and Members of the Constitutional Commissions. Section 8 also
authorizes the Department of Budget and Management (DBM) to "determine the
In cases where none of the accused are occupying positions corresponding to officials who are of equivalent rank to the foregoing officials, where applicable"
salary grade "27" or higher, as prescribed in the said Republic Act No. 6758, or and to assign such officials the same Salary Grades subject to a set of
military and PNP officers mentioned above, exclusive original jurisdiction thereof guidelines found in said section.
shall be vested in the proper regional trial court, metropolitan trial court,
municipal trial court, and municipal circuit trial court, as the case may be, For positions below those mentioned under Section 8, Section 9 instructs the
pursuant to their respective jurisdictions as provided in Batas Pambansa Blg. DBM to prepare the "Index of Occupational Services" guided by the Benchmark
129, as amended. Position prescribed in Section 9 and the factors enumerated therein.

Petitioners contend that they do not come under the exclusive original To determine whether an official is within the exclusive original jurisdiction of the
jurisdiction of the Sandiganbayan because: Sandiganbayan, therefore, reference should be made to R.A. No. 6758 and the
Index of Occupational Services, Position Titles and Salary Grades. Salary level
(1) At the alleged time of the commission of the crimes charged, is not determinative. An official's grade is not a matter of proof, but a matter of
petitioner municipal mayors were not classified as Grade 27. law, of which the Court must take judicial notice. 24

(2) Municipal mayors are not included in the enumeration in Section As both the 1989 and 1997 versions of the Index of Occupational Services,
4a(1) of P.D. No. 1606, as amended by R.A. No. 7975. Position Titles and Salary Grades list the Municipal Mayor under Salary Grade
27, petitioner mayors come within the exclusive original jurisdiction of the
(3) Congressional records reveal that the law did not intend municipal Sandiganbayan. Petitioner mayors are "local officials classified as Grade "27"
mayors to come under the exclusive original jurisdiction of the Sandiganbayan. and higher under the Compensation and Position Classification Act of 1989,"
under the catchall provision, Section 4a(5) of P.D. No. 1606, as amended by
A R.A. No. 7975. More accurately, petitioner mayors are "[o]fficials of the
executive branch occupying the positions of regional director and higher,
In support of his contention that his position was not that of Grade 27, Mayor otherwise classified as grade "27" and higher, of the Compensation and Position
Binay argues: Classification Act of 1989," under Section 4a(1) of P.D. No. 1606, as amended
by R.A. No. 7975. 25
. . . The new law's consistent and repeated reference to salary grades show[s]
an intention to base the separation of jurisdiction between the Sandiganbayan B
and the regular courts on pay scale. Grades are determined by compensation.
The essence of grades is pay scales. Therefor, pay scales determine grades. Petitioners, however, argue that they are not included in the enumeration in
16 Section 4a(1). They invoke the rule in statutory construction expressio unius est
expressio alterius. As what is not included in those enumerated is deemed
Mayor Binay, thus, presented a Certification 17 from the City Personnel Officer excluded, municipal officials are excluded from the Sandiganbayan's exclusive
of Makati stating that petitioner as mayor received a monthly salary of only original jurisdiction.
P10,793.00 from March 1987 to December 31, 1988. This amount was
supposedly equivalent to Grade 22 under R.A. No. 6758. Resort to statutory construction, however, is not appropriate where the law is
clear and unambiguous. 26 The law is clear in this case. As stated earlier,
Mayor Magsaysay, for his part, submitted a similar Certification 18 from the Section 4a(1) of P.D. No. 1606, as amended by R.A. No. 7975, speaks of
Municipal Treasurer of San Pascual, Batangas, stating: "[o]fficials of the executive branch occupying the positions of regional director
Page 17 of 34
and higher, otherwise classified as grade "27" and higher, of the Compensation It is not clear, however, whether Senator Roco meant that all municipal officials
and Position Classification Act of 1989." are excluded from the jurisdiction of the Sandiganbayan. In any case, courts are
not bound by a legislator's opinion in congressional debates regarding the
The Court fails to see how a different interpretation could arise even if the plain interpretation of a particular legislation. It is deemed a mere personal opinion of
meaning rule were disregarded and the law subjected to interpretation. the legislator. 32 Such opinions do not necessarily reflect the view of the entire
Congress. 33
The premise of petitioners' argument is that the enumeration in Section 4a(1) is
exclusive. It is not. The phrase "specifically including" after "[o]fficials of the D
executive branch occupying the positions of regional director and higher,
otherwise classified as grade "27" and higher, of the Compensation and Position From the foregoing discussion, it is clear that the cases against petitioner Binay
Classification Act of 1989" necessarily conveys the very idea of non-exclusivity cannot be referred to the regular courts under Section 7 of R.A. No. 7975, which
of the enumeration. The principle of expressio unius est exclusio alterius does provides:
not apply where other circumstances indicate that the enumeration was not
intended to be exclusive, 27 or where the enumeration is by way of example Sec. 7. Upon effectivity of this Act, all criminal cases in which trial has not
only. 28 In Conrado B. Rodrigo, et al. vs. The Honorable Sandiganbayan (First begun in the Sandiganbayan shall be referred to the proper courts.
Division), supra, the Court held that the catchall in Section 4a(5) was "necessary
for it would be impractical, if not impossible, for Congress to list down each In construing the correct import of Section 7, it may be helpful to refer to the
position created or will be created pertaining to Grades 27 and above." The guidelines in determining jurisdiction laid down in Bengzon vs. Inciong: 34
same rationale applies to the enumeration in Section 4a(1). Clearly, the law did
not intend said enumeration to be an exhaustive list. The rule is that where a court has already obtained and is exercising jurisdiction
over a controversy, its jurisdiction to proceed to the final determination of the
Should there be any doubt as to whether petitioner mayors are under the cause is not affected by new legislation placing jurisdiction over such
category of Grade 27, Section 444(d) of the Local Government Code settles the proceedings in another tribunal. The exception to the rule is where the statute
matter: expressly provides, or is construed to the effect that it is intended to operate as
to actions pending before its enactment. Where a statute changing the
The municipal mayor shall receive a minimum monthly compensation jurisdiction of a court has no retroactive effect, it cannot be applied to a case
corresponding to Salary Grade twenty-seven (27) as prescribed under R.A. No. that was pending prior to the enactment of the statute.
6758 and the implementing guidelines issued pursuant thereto.
R.A. No. 7975, by virtue of Section 7, belongs to the exception rather than the
In the Court's Resolution in Rodrigo dated July 2, 1999 denying the motion for rule. The provision is transitory in nature and expresses the legislature's
reconsideration, we treated the above provision as "confirmatory of the Salary intention to apply its provisions on jurisdiction to "criminal cases in which trial
Grade assigned by the DBM to Municipal Mayors." has not begun in the Sandiganbayan." To this extent, R.A. 7975 is retroactive.

C Such a transitory provision is not peculiar to R.A. No. 7975; similar provisions
are found in other laws reallocating the jurisdiction of the courts. 35 There is no
Petitioner Binay cites previous bills 29 in Congress dealing with the jurisdiction reason why Section 7 of R.A. No. 7975 should be any different.
of the Sandiganbayan. These bills supposedly sought to exclude municipal
officials from the Sandiganbayan's exclusive original jurisdiction to relieve these The term "proper courts," as used in Section 7, means "courts of competent
officials, especially those from the provinces, of the financial burden brought jurisdiction," and such jurisdiction is defined in Section 4 of P.D. No. 1606, as
about by trials in Manila. amended by R.A. No. 7975. The former should not be read in isolation but
construed in conjunction with the latter.
The resort to congressional records to determine the proper application of the
law in this case is unwarranted in this case for the same reason that the resort The term "proper courts" as used in Section 7, therefore, is not restricted to
to the rule of inclusio unius est expressio alterius is inappropriate. "regular courts," but includes as well the Sandiganbayan, a special court. If the
intent of Congress were to refer all cases the trials of which have not begun to
Verily, the interpretation of the law desired by the petitioner may be more the regular courts, it should have employed the term "proper regular courts" or
humane but it is also an elementary rule in statutory construction that when the "regular courts" instead of "proper courts." Accordingly, the law in the third
words and phrases of the statute are clear and unequivocal, their meaning must paragraph of Section 4 of P.D. No. 1606, as amended by Section 2 of R.A. No.
be determined from the language employed and the statute must be taken to 7975, uses the term "regular courts," not "proper courts":
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 Sandiganbayan shall exercise exclusive appellate jurisdiction on appeals
the words (Aparri v. CA, 127 SCRA 233 [1984]). When the law is clear, it is not from the final judgments, resolutions or orders of regular courts where all the
susceptible to interpretation. It must be applied regardless of who may be accused are occupying positions lower than salary grade "27," or not otherwise
affected, even if the law may be harsh or onerous. (Nepomuceno, et al. v. FC, covered by the preceding enumeration. [emphasis supplied.]
110 Phil. 42). And even granting that exceptions may be conceded, the same
as a general rule, should be strictly but reasonably construed; they extend only Construed thus, the effects of Section 7 may be summarized as follows:
so far as their language fairly warrants, and all doubts should be resolved in
favor of the general provisions rather than the exception. Thus, where a general 1. If trial of cases before the Sandiganbayan has already begun as of
rule is established by statute, the court will not curtail the former nor add to the the approval of R.A. No. 7975, R.A. No. 7975 does not apply.
latter by implication (Samson v. C.A., 145 SCRA 654 [1986]). 30
2. If trial of cases before the Sandiganbayan has not begun as of the
Thus, in Rodrigo, petitioners therein argued in their motion for reconsideration: approval of R.A. No. 7975, then R.A. No. 7975 applies.

. . . that the inclusion of Municipal Mayors within the jurisdiction of the (a) If by virtue of Section 4 of P.D. No. 1606, as amended by Section 2
Sandiganbayan would be inconvenient since the witnesses in their case would of R.A. No. 7975, the Sandiganbayan has jurisdiction over a case before it, then
come from Baguio City and San Nicolas, Pangasinan. This, according to the cases shall be referred to the Sandiganbayan.
petitioners, would defeat one of the purposes of R.A. No. 7975, that is, the
convenience of the accused. (b) If by virtue of Section 4 of P.D. No. 1606, as amended by Section 2
of R.A. No. 7975, the Sandiganbayan has no jurisdiction over a case before it,
The Court, in denying the motion for reconsideration, held, among others, that: the case shall be referred to the regular courts.

The legislature has nevertheless chosen the mode and standard by which to The trial of the cases involving Mayor Binay had not yet begun as of the date of
implement its intent, and courts have no choice but to apply it. Congress has the approval of R.A. No. 7975; consequently, the Anti-Graft Court retains
willed that positions with Grade 27 and above shall come within the jurisdiction jurisdiction over said cases.
of the Sandiganbayan and this Court is duty-bound to obey the congressional
will. In any case, whatever seeming ambiguity or doubt regarding the application of
Section 7 of R.A. No. 7975 should be laid to rest by Section 7 of R.A. No. 8249,
Petitioner Binay also quotes the Sponsorship Speech of Senator Roco, stating: which states:

Since February 1979, when the Sandiganbayan was established up to the Sec. 7. Transitory Provision. — This Act shall apply to all cases pending in
present, the Court has been confronted with the problem of those accused who any court over which trial has not begun as of the approval hereof.
are of limited means who stand trial for "petty crimes," the so-called "small fry"
— the barangay officials, the municipal officials and employees, postal clerks The latter provision more accurately expresses the legislature's intent and in
and letter carriers and the like — who are involved with "nickel-and-dime" cases any event should be applied in this case, R.A. No. 8249 having superseded R.A.
and money-related cases such as malversation, estafa and theft. . . No. 7975.
.1âwphi1.nêt
In Panfilo M. Lacson vs. The Executive Secretary, et al., 36 the Court explained
xxx xxx xxx the purpose of the foregoing provision.

Senate Bill No. 1353 modifies the present jurisdiction of the Sandiganbayan . . . it can be reasonably anticipated that an alteration of [the Sandiganbayan's]
such that only those occupying high positions in the Government and the military jurisdiction would necessarily affect pending cases, which is why it has to
fall under the jurisdiction of the court. 31 provide for a remedy in the form of a transitory provision. . . . . The transitory
provision does not only cover cases which are in the Sandiganbayan but also in
Page 18 of 34
"any court." . . . . Moreover, those cases where trial had already begun are not In Cadalin vs. POEA's Administrator, 49 the Court, considering also the
affected by the transitory provision under Section 7 of the new law (RA 8249). complexity of the cases ("not run-of-the-mill variety") and the conduct of the
[Emphasis in the original.] parties' lawyers, held that the right to speedy disposition was not violated
therein.
The possible disruptive effect of the amendments to the Sandiganbayan's
jurisdiction on pending cases was, therefore, not lost on the legislature. In petitioner Binay's case, the Court finds that there was no undue delay in the
Congress has, furthermore, deemed the commencement of the trial as the disposition of the subject cases. The proceedings conducted before the Office
crucial point in determining whether a court retains a case pending before it or of the Tanodbayan, and later with the Office of the Ombudsman, adequately
lose the same on the ground of lack of jurisdiction per the provisions of R.A. No. explains the length of the delay:
8249. The law obviously does not want to waste the time and effort already
devoted to the presentation of evidence if trial had already begun. On the other 1. That on July 27, 1988 Bobby Brillante filed with the Office of the
hand, not much disruption would be caused if the amendment were made to Tanodbayan an affidavit-complaint charging, Jejomar Binay, Sergio Santos,
apply to cases the trials of which have yet to start. Roberto Chang, Delfin Almeda, Nelson Irasga, Nicasio Santiago, Feliciano
Basam, Maria Chan, Romeo Barrios, Azucena Diaz, Virgilio Clarete, Godofredo
The ramifications of Section 7 of R.A. No. 8249 may be stated as follows: Marcelo, Armando San Miguel, Salvador Pangilinan and John Does of the
following offenses: (a) Massive Malversation of Public Funds; (b) Multiple
1. If trial of the cases pending before whatever court has already begun Falsification of Public Documents; (c) Usurpation of Official Functions; (d)
as of the approval of R.A. No. 8249, said law does not apply. Violation of Election Law; and (e) Violation of Sec. 3(e) of R.A. 3019.

2. If trial of cases pending before whatever court has not begun as of 1.1. Brillante's complaint was based on the initial findings and
the approval of R.A. No. 8249, then said law applies. observations of the COA on the examination of the cash and accounts covering
transactions from April 1, 1987 to January 4, 1988 and Post-Audit of Selected
(a) If the Sandiganbayan has jurisdiction over a case pending before it, Accounts for the last quarter of 1987 of the Municipality of Makati contained in
then it retains jurisdiction. its Report dated January 11, 1988. The COA furnished the Tanodbayan a copy
of this report on August 1, 1988 upon request of the latter.
(b) If the Sandiganbayan has no jurisdiction over a case pending before
it, the case shall be referred to the regular courts. 1.2. In the letter of the COA transmitting a copy of the report, the
Tanodbayan was informed that this COA audit report of January 11, 1988 is not
(c) If the Sandiganbayan has jurisdiction over a case pending before a yet released since the Mayor of Makati was given thirty days within which to
regular court, the latter loses jurisdiction and the same shall be referred to the explain/clarify the findings in the report and is subject to change or modification
Sandiganbayan. depending upon the explanation/clarification to be submitted by the Mayor of
Makati. Because of this the information from the COA the preliminary
(d) If a regular court has jurisdiction over a case pending before it, then investigation was held in abeyance until the submission of the final report.
said court retains jurisdiction.
1.3. On March 1, 1989, the first part of the Final Report on Audit of Makati
Thus, under both R.A. Nos. 7975 and 8429, the Sandiganbayan retains was received by the Office of the Ombudsman and was transmitted for purposes
jurisdiction over said cases. of the ensuring preliminary investigation to the Tanodbayan which received the
same on March 22, 1989.
II
1.4. This first part of the Final Report contained the fifteen (15) adverse
Petitioner Binay avers in his Addendum to Petition that his right to speedy findings, above elsewhere stated as the basis of Bobby Brillante's complaint.
disposition has been violated by the inordinate delay in the resolution of the
subject cases by the Ombudsman. 1.5. Eleven (11) COA auditors participated in the documentation and
analysis of its findings and preparation of the final report.
Art. III of the Constitution provides that:
1.6. The first part of the final report was followed by a Supplemental
Sec. 16. All persons shall have the right to a speedy disposition of their cases Report on Findings No. 1 and 3. This Supplemental Report is dated July 3, 1989.
before all judicial, quasi-judicial, or administrative bodies.
2. After securing machine copies of the voluminous documents
The constitutional right to "a speedy disposition of cases" is not limited to the supporting the COA findings, Pros. Margarito Gervacio, Chairman of the Panel
accused in criminal proceedings but extends to all parties in all cases, including of Prosecutors, issued the corresponding subpoena directing the respondents
civil and administrative cases, and in all proceedings, including judicial and to submit their respective counter-affidavits.
quasi-judicial hearings. 37 Hence, under the Constitution, any party to a case
may demand expeditious action on all officials who are tasked with the 2.1. In compliance with the subpoena, Mayor Jejomar Binay submitted
administration of justice. 38 his counter-affidavit on May 18, 1990, Marissa Chan, Feliciano Bascon, Nicanor
Santiago, Jr. on June 19, 1990, Renato Manrique on June 4, 1990, Alfredo
However, the right to a speedy disposition of a case, like the right to speedy Ignacio on June 6, 1990, Roberto Chang on August 27, 1990. Feliciano Bascon
trial, 39 is deemed violated only when the proceedings is attended by vexatious, submitted his Supplemental Affidavit on November 22, 1990.
capricious, and oppressive delays; or when unjustified postponements of the
trial are asked for and secured, or when without cause or justifiable motive a 2.2. Thereafter, clarificatory examinations were conducted on
long period of time is allowed to elapse without the party having his case tried. September 27, 1990, October 26, 1990, November 8, 9, 14, 22, 1990.
40 Equally applicable is the balancing test used to determine whether a
defendant has been denied his right to a speedy trial, or a speedy disposition of 3. On January 15, 1991 Mayor Jejomar Binay submitted a copy of this
a case for that matter, in which the conduct of both the prosecution and the Petition for Certiorari in G.R. No. 92380 which he and the municipality of Makati
defendant is weighed, and such factors as the length of the delay, the reasons filed with the Supreme Court against COA Chairman, Eufemio Domingo and the
for such delay, the assertion or failure to assert such right by the accused, and Commission on Audit, with a manifestation that said petition is submitted to
the prejudice caused by the delay. 41 The concept of speedy disposition is a support Binay's stand as regard COA Finding No. 9 aforestated.
relative term and must necessarily be a flexible concept. 42
4. On April 2, 1992 respondent Marissa Chan filed an affidavit
A mere mathematical reckoning of the time involved, therefore, would not be containing allegations incriminating Jejomar Binay;
sufficient. 43 In the application of the constitutional guarantee of the right to
speedy disposition of cases, particular regard must also be taken of the facts 5. Upon being ordered to comment on the said April 2, 1992 affidavit
and circumstances peculiar to each case. 44 of Marissa Chan, Jejomar Binay submitted his comment thereto on April 30,
1992.
In Tatad vs. Sandiganbayan, 45 the Court held that the length of delay and the
simplicity of the issues did not justify the delay in the disposition of the cases 6. On August 4, 1993, the Investigation Panel submitted to the Deputy
therein. The "unexplained inaction" 46 of the prosecutors called for the dismissal Special Prosecutor its Resolution disposing the preliminary investigation of the
of the cases against petitioner Tatad. case.

In Alvizo vs. Sandiganbayan, 47 the Court also ruled that there was no violation 6.1. On August 10, 1993 the said Resolution was approved by the
of the right to speedy disposition. The Court took into account the reasons for Special Prosecutor, who forwarded the same and the entire records to the Office
the delay, i.e., the frequent amendments of procedural laws by presidential of the Ombudsman for review and/or final action.
decrees, the structural reorganizations in existing prosecutorial agencies and
the creation of new ones by executive fiat, resulting in changes of personnel, 6.2. On August 16, 1994, the Review Panel of the Ombudsman
preliminary jurisdiction, and the functions and powers of prosecuting agencies. submitted to the latter its review action for approval.
The Court likewise considered the failure of the accused to assert such right,
and the lack of prejudice caused by the delay to the accused. 6.3. On August 19, 1994; the Ombudsman approved some of the
recommendations of the Review Panel and directed the preparation and filing
In Santiago vs. Garchitorena, 48 the complexity of the issues and the failure of of the informations. 50
the accused to invoke her right to speedy disposition at the appropriate time
spelled defeat to her claim to the constitutional guarantee. Furthermore, the prosecution is not bound by the findings of the Commission on
Audit (COA); it must rely on its own independent judgment in the determination
of probable cause. Accordingly, the prosecution had to conduct its own review
Page 19 of 34
of the COA findings. Judging from said findings, we find that the cases were no further proceedings after the filing of the information save for the motion to
sufficiently complex, thus justifying the length of time for their resolution. As held refer the case precisely on the ground of lack of jurisdiction, and the motion to
by the Sandiganbayan in its Resolution dated March 29, 1995 denying the resolve the earlier motion. Finally, the trial court had not rendered any decision,
Motion to Quash: much less one adverse to petitioners.

2. Ten charges are involved in these cases and the prosecution, Second, petitioners cannot hold respondents in estoppel for the latter are not
unable to rely on the raw findings of the Commission on Audit in 15 reports themselves party to the criminal action. In a criminal action, the State is the
caused the investigation and examination of thousands of vouchers, payrolls, plaintiff, for the commission of a crime is an offense against the State. Thus, the
and supporting documents considering that no less than the Chairman of the complaint or information filed in court is required to be brought in the name of
Commission on Audit, assisted by a team supervisor and 10 team members had the "People of the Philippines." 58 Even then, the doctrine of estoppel does not
to take part in the conduct of a final audit consisting of evaluation and analysis apply as against the people in criminal prosecutions. 59 Violations of the Anti-
of the initial findings in the 15 raw reports, the cases must have involved Graft and Corrupt Practices Act, like attempted murder, 60 is a public offense.
complicated legal and factual issues which do warrant or justify a longer period Social and public interest demand the punishment of the offender; hence,
of time for preliminary investigation. criminal actions for public offenses can not be waived or condoned, much less
barred by the rules of estoppel. 61
xxx xxx xxx
The filing of the information in the Sandiganbayan did not put petitioners in
5. In the TATAD case, the preliminary investigation was resolved close double jeopardy even though they had already pleaded "not guilty" to the
to three (3) years from the time all the counter-affidavits were submitted to the information earlier filed in the RTC. The first jeopardy never attached in the first
Tanodbayan, notwithstanding the fact that very few documentary and place, the RTC not being not being a court of competent jurisdiction. There can
testimonial evidence were involved. In the above-entitled cases, the preliminary be no double jeopardy where the accused entered a plea in a court that had no
investigation of all ten (10) cases was terminated in merely two (2) years and jurisdiction. 62 The remedy of petitioners, therefore, was not to move for the
four (4) months from the date Mayor Binay filed his last pleading, on April 30, quashal of the information pending in the Sandiganbayan on the ground of
1992. 51 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
Petitioner claims that the Resolution of the Sandiganbayan ordering his
suspension pendente lite is unwarranted since the informations charging him The contention that the filing of the information in the Sandiganbayan violated
were not valid. This contention, however, must fail in view of our pronouncement the rule against duplicitous informations is patently unmeritorious. That rule
that there was no delay in the resolution of the subject cases in violation of his presupposes that there is one complaint or information charging not one
right to speedy disposition. Accordingly, the informations in question are valid offense, but two or more offenses. Thus, Rule 110 of the Rules of Court states:
and petitioner's suspension pendente lite must be upheld.
Sec. 13. Duplicity of offense. — A complaint or information must charge but
Finally, whether or not there is probable cause to warrant the filing of the subject one offense, except only in those cases in which existing laws prescribe a single
cases is a question best left to the discretion of the Ombudsman. Absent any punishment for various offenses.
grave abuse of such discretion, the Court will not interfere in the exercise
thereof. 52 Petitioner in this case has failed to establish any such abuse on the Non-compliance with this rule is a ground for quashing the duplicitous complaint
part of the Ombudsman. or information under Rule 117:

III Sec. 3. Grounds. — The accused may move to quash the complaint or
information on any of the following grounds:
Having ruled that the criminal case against petitioners in G.R. No. 128136 is
within the exclusive original jurisdiction of the Sandiganbayan, the Court will now xxx xxx xxx
dispose of the following issues raised by them:
(e) That more than one offense is charged except in those cases in
(1) The Sandiganbayan was ousted of its jurisdiction by the filing of an which existing laws prescribe a single punishment for various offenses;
information alleging the same facts with the Regional Trial Court.
xxx xxx xxx
(2) Respondents are estopped from filing an information before the
Sandiganbayan considering that they had already filed another information Here, petitioners are faced not with one information charging more than one
alleging the same facts before the Regional Trial Court. offense but with more than one information charging one offense.

(3) The filing of the information before the Sandiganbayan constitutes The Court does not find the prosecution guilty of forum-shopping. Broadly
double jeopardy. speaking, forum shopping exists when, as a result of an adverse opinion in one
forum, a party seeks a favorable opinion (other than by appeal or certiorari) in
The Court tackles these arguments successively then deals with the questions another, or when he institutes two or more actions or proceedings grounded on
of duplicity of information and forum shopping. the same cause, on the gamble that one or the other court would make a
favorable disposition. 65 We discern no intent on the part of the State, in filing
Petitioners invoke the rule that "the jurisdiction of a court once it attaches cannot two informations in two different courts, to "gamble that one or the other court
be ousted by subsequent happenings or events, although of such character would make a favorable disposition."
which would have prevented jurisdiction from attaching in the first instance." 53
They claim that the filing of the information in the Sandiganbayan was a Obviously, respondents got their signals crossed. One set of officials, after
"subsequent happening or event" which cannot oust the RTC of its jurisdiction. investigating a complaint filed by the Vice-Mayor of San Pascual, Batangas
charging petitioners of overpricing, filed the information for violation of Section
This rule has no application here for the simple reason that the RTC had no 3(e) of R.A. No. 3019 in the RTC. Another set of officials investigated another
jurisdiction over the case. Jurisdiction never attached to the RTC. When the complaint from the Concerned Citizens Group accusing petitioners of, among
information was filed before the RTC, R.A. No. 7975 was already in effect and, others, overpricing the same project subject of the previous complaint. Finding
under said law, jurisdiction over the case pertained to the Sandiganbayan. probable cause, the second set of officials instituted the criminal action,
charging the same offense and alleging essentially the same facts as the first,
Neither can estoppel be successfully invoked. First, jurisdiction is determined this time in the Sandiganbayan. Later learning of the procedural faux pas,
by law, not by the consent or agreement of the parties or by estoppel. 54 As a respondents without undue delay asked the RTC to refer the case to the
consequence of this principle, the Court held in Zamora vs. Court of Appeals 55 Sandiganbayan.
that:
WHEREFORE, the consolidated petitions are hereby DISMISSED.
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 from filing the same complaint Bellosillo, Melo, Puno, Vitug, Mendoza, Purisima, Pardo, Buena, Gonzaga-
later with the competent court. The plaintiff is not estopped from doing so simply Reyes and Ynares-Santiago, JJ., concur.
because it made a mistake before in the choice of the proper forum. In such a Davide, Jr., C.J., I join Mr. Justice Panganiban in his separate opinion.
situation, the only authority the first court can exercise is to dismiss the case for Panganiban, J., please see separate opinion.
lack of jurisdiction. This has to be so as a contrary conclusion would allow a Quizumbing, J., concur in the separate opinion of Justice Panganiban.
party to divest the competent court of its jurisdiction, whether erroneously or
even deliberately, in derogation of the law.

It is true that the Court has ruled in certain cases 56 that estoppel prevents a
party from questioning the jurisdiction of the court that the party himself invoked. Republic of the Philippines
Estoppel, however, remains the exception rather than the rule, the rule being SUPREME COURT
that jurisdiction is vested by law. 57 Even in those instances where the Court Manila
applied estoppel, the party estopped consistently invoked the jurisdiction of the THIRD DIVISION
court and actively participated in the proceedings, impugning such jurisdiction
only when faced with an adverse decision. This is not the case here. After G.R. No. 126814 March 2, 2000
discovering that a similar information had earlier been filed in the RTC,
respondents promptly asked the trial court to refer the case to the JUDY CAROL L. DANSAL, RAFAEL T. FLORES, HERMINIO C. ELIZON,
Sandiganbayan, which motion was followed by a motion to resolve the previous ARNULFO S. SOLORIA, petitioners,
motion. There was no consistent invocation of the RTC's jurisdiction. There were vs.
Page 20 of 34
THE HON. GIL P. FERNANDEZ, SR., in his capacity as the Presiding Judge On December 18, 1996, without giving due course to the Petition, the Court
of the RTC, Quezon City, Branch 217 and Benigno S. Montera, required the respondents to comment and denied the prayer for a writ of
respondents. preliminary injunction and/or temporary restraining order.9

PURISIMA, J.: In his Manifestation and Motion in lieu of Comment, the Solicitor General
recommended the granting of the petition. 10
This is a petition for certiorari under Rule 65 of the Rules of Court to enjoin
further proceedings in Criminal Case Nos. Q-96-66607-08, and to annul the The accusation against the petitioners is based on the "Affidavit of Complaint"
Order, dated August 27, 1996, of Branch 217 of the Regional Trial Court in alleging that petitioners falsified the Daily Time Record (DTR) of one Ronaldo
Quezon City, which denied petitioners' Motion to Quash the Informations. Vallada, by making it appear that the latter reported for work during the month
of July 1991 when, in truth and in fact, he did not so report, and that the
Petitioner Judy Carol L. Dansal was the Department Manager of the petitioners collected the amount of P2,244.04 paid on the basis of the falsified
Enforcement, Investigation, and Prosecution Department of the National Food DTR.
Authority ("NFA"), with office address at E. Rodriguez Sr. Avenue, Quezon City.
Petitioner Rafael T. Flores was the Assistant Manager of the said department of In their answer, petitioners countered that the imputation against them is a mere
NFA. Petitioner Herminio C. Elizon was the chief of the Security Division of the harassment by complainant Benigno S. Montera, so as to silence, embarrass
same department of NFA, while Petitioner Arnulfo S. Soloria was a security and destroy their (petitioners') credibility, and that the complainant lodged the
officer of the said department of NFA. Respondent Benigno S. Montera, on the complaint because prior to the filing thereof, petitioner Dansal initiated an
other hand, was employed with the Enforcement, Investigation, and Prosecution investigation of the complainant for alleged irregularities involving the latter's
Department of NFA.1 daily time record, which investigation was set by petitioner Dansal after Ronaldo
Vallada admitted having illegally punched in the Bundy Clock the DTRs of
On December 16, 1991, respondent Montera filed an "Affidavit of Complaint" several employees and the complainant, who requested him to do so, and as a
with the Office of the Ombudsman, charging the herein petitioners and one result, an administrative case was instituted against the complainant before the
Ronaldo Vallada, a casual security guard of NFA, with the offense of estafa Director for Legal Affairs, docketed as Administrative Case No. 1-05-92 for
through falsification of public document. Dishonesty, Falsification of Public Documents, Grave Misconduct and Conduct
Prejudicial to the Best Interest of the Service. 11
On January 14, 1992, petitioners were required by the Office of the Ombudsman
to submit their respective counter-affidavits and other controverting evidence. Placing reliance on the ruling in the case of Tatad vs. Sandiganbayan, 12
Petitioners complied. On April 1, 1992, respondent Montera sent in a reply- petitioners seek redress for what they theorized upon as a violation of their right
affidavit. to due process and speedy disposition of their cases by reason of the alleged
unreasonable delay of the preliminary investigation against them.
On July 10, 1992, petitioner Dansal was directed to submit her verified answer
to respondent Montera's additional charge of violation of Section 3(e) of The petition is barren of merit.
Republic Act No. 3019.
To begin with, the petition is flawed by the failure of petitioners to move for
On September 9, 1992, petitioner Dansal submitted her answer with a counter- reconsideration of the assailed Order. Settled is the rule that, except in some
charge. recognized exceptions, the filing of a motion for reconsideration is a condition
sine qua non to the filing of a petition for certiorari. 13 The rationale behind the
On January 15, 1993, petitioner Dansal filed her rejoinder to respondent rule is to give the respondent court an opportunity to correct its supposed
Montera's reply-affidavit, after which the cases were ripe for resolution.2 mistake and to rectify its questioned Order.

On May 30, 1994, or after one (1) year and four (4) months, the office of the Sec. 16, Article III of the 1987 Constitution, reads:
Ombudsman came out with its Resolution, copy of which petitioners allegedly
received on February 5, 1996.3 Said Resolution ruled: Sec. 16. All persons shall have the right to a speedy disposition of their cases
before all judicial, quasi-judicial, or administrative bodies.
Wherefore, in view of the foregoing, it is respectfully recommended that
respondents Judy Carol Dansal, Rafael Flores, Herminio Elizon, Arnulfo Soloria, Initially embodied in Section 16, Article IV of the 1973 Constitution, the aforesaid
Ronaldo Vallada be prosecuted for one count of estafa through falsification of constitutional provision is one of three provisions mandating speedier
public document. dispensation of justice. 14 It guarantees the right of all persons to "a speedy
disposition of their case"; includes within its contemplation the periods before,
In addition thereto, a separate information for violation of Section 3(e) of R.A. during and after trial, and affords broader protection than Section 14(2), 15
No. 3019 be filed against respondent Judy Carol Dansal alone while the which guarantees just the right to a speedy trial. It is more embracing than the
additional charge for violation of Section 3(e) of R.A. No. 3019 against the other protection under Article VII, Section 15, which covers only the period after the
respondents be dismissed for lack of merit.4 submission of the case. 16 The present constitutional provision applies to civil,
criminal and administrative cases. 17
On May 13, 1996, after the denial of petitioners' motion for reconsideration, the
aforesaid cases were referred to the deputized prosecutor of Quezon City, Sec. 16 was first given flesh and blood in the Tatad case, which also involved a
together with two Informations, dated October 20, 1995 and January 15, 1996, petition seeking to reverse an order of the trial court denying a motion to quash
respectively, accusing Judy Carol L. Dansal of estafa through falsification of the Information. Applying Section 16, Article IV of the 1973 Constitution, the
public document, and violation of Section 3(e) of R. A. No. 3019;5 and the other Court opined in that case:
petitioners of estafa through falsification of public document.
. . . We find the long delay in the termination of the preliminary investigation by
On July 18, 1996, petitioners interposed a Motion to Quash, contending that the the Tanodbayan in the instant case to be violative of the constitutional right of
delay in terminating the preliminary investigation violated their constitutional the accused to due process. Substantial adherence to the requirements of the
rights to due process and to a speedy disposition of their cases.6 law governing the conduct of preliminary investigation, including substantial
compliance with the time limitation prescribed by the law for the resolution of the
On August 27, 1996, the respondent court denied the said motion, ruling thus: case by the prosecutor, is part of the procedural due process constitutionally
guaranteed by the fundamental law. Not only under the broad umbrella of the
After careful evaluation of the grounds raised by the accused in their Motion to due process clause, but under the constitutional guarantee of "speedy
Quash viz-à-viz the Opposition filed by the prosecution, finding no basis in fact disposition" of cases as embodied in Section 16 of the Bill of Rights (both in the
and in law to warrant the quashal of the two informations against the accused, 1973 and the 1987 Constitutions), the inordinate delay is violative of the
as there appears no unreasonable delay in the conduct of the preliminary petitioner's constitutional rights. 18
investigation amounting to violation of the accused's constitutional right to due
process and to a speedy disposition of the cases, the instant Motion is hereby But the concept of "speedy disposition of cases," like "speedy trial," is a relative
DENIED. Reset the arraignment and pre-trial anew on November 25, 1996 at term and a flexible concept. It is consistent with reasonable delay. 19
8:30 o'clock in the morning.7
In the determination of whether or not the constitutional right invoked by
Undaunted, petitioners found their way to this Court via the present petition petitioners has been violated, the factors to consider and balance are the
under Rule 65 with a prayer for Preliminary Injunction and/or Temporary duration of the delay, reason thereof, assertion of the right or failure to assert it
Restraining Order, theorizing that: and the prejudice caused by such delay. 20 The desideratum of a speedy
disposition of cases should not, if at all possible, result in the precipitate loss of
RESPONDENT JUDGE COMMITTED A GRAVE ABUSE OF DISCRETION IN a party's right to present evidence and either in a plaintiffs being non-suited or
DENYING PETITIONERS' MOTION TO QUASH, FINDING NO BASIS IN FACT the defendant's being pronounced liable under an ex parte judgment. 21
AND IN LAW TO WARRANT THE QUASHAL OF THE TWO (2)
INFORMATIONS AGAINST THE PETITIONERS. The Court believes, and so holds, that the aforecited doctrine laid down in Tatad
vs. Sandiganbayan is inapplicable in light of the attendant facts and
RESPONDENT JUDGE COMMITTED GRAVE ERRORS OF FACTS AND circumstances in this case. Records disclose that the original complaint against
CONCLUSIONS OF LAW WHEN HE ERRONEOUSLY HELD THAT THERE petitioners was brought before the Office of the Ombudsman on December 16,
APPEARS NO UNREASONABLE DELAY IN THE CONDUCT OF THE 1991. The same was deemed submitted for resolution on January 15, 1993. On
PRELIMINARY INVESTIGATION AMOUNTING TO VIOLATION OF THE May 30, 1994, the investigator issued a Resolution finding a probable cause,
PETITIONERS' CONSTITUTIONAL RIGHT TO DUE PROCESS AND TO A which finding was later approved by the Ombudsman. Petitioners were
SPEEDY DISPOSITION OF THE CASES.8 furnished a copy of the said Resolution on February 5 and 6, 1996. On June 30,
1996 were filed the Information dated October 20, 1995, docketed as Criminal
Page 21 of 34
Case No. Q-96-66607, and the other Information dated January 15, 1996, Flores, Herminio T. Elizon and Arnulfo S. Soloria", and Criminal Case No. Q-96-
docketed as Criminal Case No. Q-96-66608. 22 66608, entitled "People of the Philippines vs. Judy Carol L. Dansal". No
pronouncement as to costs.
The preliminary investigation in subject cases against the petitioners took more
than one year and four months to finish. But such a happenstance alone, or any SO ORDERED.
like delay, for that matter, should not be cause for an unfettered abdication by
the court of its duty to try cases and to finally make a determination of the Melo, Vitug, Panganiban and Gonzaga-Reyes, JJ., concur.
controversy after the presentation of evidence. In Francisco Guerrero vs. Court
of Appeals, 23 et al., the Court had this to say:

While this Court recognizes the right to speedy disposition quite distinctly from Republic of the Philippines
the right to a speedy trial, and although this Court has always zealously SUPREME COURT
espoused protection from oppressive and vexatious delays not attributable to Manila
the party involved, at the same time, we hold that a party's individual rights FIRST DIVISION
should not work against and preclude the people's equally important right to
public justice. In the instant case, three people died as a result of the crash of A.M. No. RTJ-93-986 September 26, 2000
the airplane that the accused was flying. It appears to us that the delay in the
disposition of the case prejudiced not just the accused but the people as well. ATTY. EDUARDO C. DE VERA, complainant,
Since the accused has completely failed to assert his right seasonably and vs.
inasmuch as the respondent judge was not in a position to dispose of the case JUDGE WILLIAM LAYAGUE, respondent.
on the merits due to the absence of factual basis, we hold it proper and equitable
to give the parties fair opportunity to obtain (and the court to dispense) RESOLUTION
substantial justice in the premises.
YNARES-SANTIAGO, J.:
The protection under the right to a speedy disposition of cases should not
operate as to deprive the government of its inherent prerogative in prosecuting On March 11, 1993, Atty. Eduardo C. de Vera of Davao City filed a sworn letter-
criminal cases or generally in seeing to it that all who approach the bar of justice complaint to the Court Administrator against William Layague, Presiding Judge
be afforded a fair opportunity to present their side. of the Regional Trial Court of Davao City, Branch 14,1 alleging that the latter
failed to decide or resolve the following cases and incidents for an unreasonable
Contrary to the stance of the Solicitor General, the delay adverted to in the cases length of time:
under consideration does not measure up to the unreasonableness of the delay
of disposition in Tatad vs. Sandiganbayan, and other allied cases. It cannot be (1) Civil Case No. 18,636-87 entitled "Joaquin Reyes, Plaintiff, versus
said that the petitioners found themselves in a situation oppressive to their rights Development Bank of the Philippines, Defendant; Development Bank of the
simply by reason of the delay and without more. Philippines, Third-Party Plaintiff, versus Spouses Oscar Mercado and Leah
Mercado, et al., Third-Party Defendants," wherein trial was terminated on
In Magsaysay et al. vs. Sandiganbayan et al., 24 this Court ruled that: December 12, 1991;

. . . the right to a speedy disposition of a case, like the right to a speedy trial, is (2) Civil Case No. 19,794-89 entitled "Edgar Jamisola, Plaintiff, versus DSG
deemed violated only when the proceedings is attended by vexatious, Sons Group, et al., Defendants," which was submitted for decision in January
capricious, and oppressive delays; or when unjustified postponements of the 1992;
trial are asked for and secured, or when, without cause or justifiable motive a
long period of time is allowed to elapse without the party having his case tried. (3) Civil Case No. 17,215 entitled "Rosario Peñalosa Mercado, Plaintiff, versus
Equally applicable is the balancing test used to determine whether a defendant Jesus K. Mercado, et al., Defendants," which had already been terminated but
has been denied his right to a speedy trial, or a speedy disposition of a case for complainant lawyer filed a "Petition for Intervention" and "Motion Re-Open Case
that matter, in which the conduct of both the prosecution and the defendant is for the Sole Purpose of Determining and Resolving Amount of Attorney’s Fees
weighed, and such factors as the length of the delay, the reasons for such delay, for Plaintiff’s Former Counsel" which remained unresolved since September 22,
the assertion or failure to assert such right by the accused, and the prejudice 1989, or for more than three years;
caused by the delay. The concept of speedy disposition is a relative term and
must necessarily be a flexible concept. (4) Criminal Cases Nos. 20,612-90 and 21,882-90, both entitled "People of the
Philippines versus Joey Herbolingo, et al., Accused," for violation of P.D. 1866
A mere mathematical reckoning of the time involved, therefore, would not be qualified by death and for murder, in which it took respondent judge one year,
sufficient. In the application of the constitutional guarantee of the right to a more or less, to resolve the motion to recall warrant of arrest of one of the
speedy disposition of cases, particular regard must also be taken of the facts accused; AND
and circumstances peculiar to each case.
(5) Criminal Case No. 24,413-91 entitled "People of the Philippines versus
From the facts and circumstances at bar, the Court cannot glean any grave Ronan Dulanas," for murder, where respondent judge hastily granted bail to the
abuse of discretion tainting the denial by the respondent court of petitioners' accused notwithstanding that the evidence of guilt was strong.
motion to quash.
On May 31, 1993, this Court required respondent to comment within ten days.2
The Court is not unmindful of the duty of the Ombudsman under the Constitution Respondent filed three motions for extension of time, all of which were granted.3
and Republic Act No. 6770 to act promptly on Complaints brought before him. However, he still failed to file his comment, for which reason this Court, on
25 But such duty should not be of cases at the expense of thoroughness and August 22, 1994, issued a Resolution requiring respondent to show cause why
correctness. Judicial notice should be taken of the fact that the nature of the he should not be disciplinarily dealt with or held in contempt of court.4 Again,
Office of the Ombudsman encourages individuals who clamor for efficient respondent sought extensions of time to comply with the show-cause order,
governments service to freely lodge their Complaints against wrongdoings of citing health reasons. On November 16, 1994, this Court imposed on
government personnel, thus resulting in a steady stream of cases reaching the respondent a fine in the amount of P500.00 or imprisonment of five (5) days if
Office of the Ombudsman. such fine is not paid, and directed him to file his comment on the administrative
complaint.5 Respondent paid the fine by postal money order, which was
As stressed upon by the Solicitor General, the Rules of Procedure of the received by this Court on January 20, 1995.6
Ombudsman 26 do not specifically prescribe a period within which a criminal
complaint may be investigated and decided. But the same Rules adopt the Also on January 20, 1995, respondent filed a Compliance containing his
Rules of Court on Preliminary Investigation, as modified by the Rules of comments on the administrative complaint.7 He alleges that Civil Case No.
Procedure of the Ombudsman. Under the Rules of Court, 27 the Investigating 18,636-87 had already been decided on November 18, 1994; Civil Case No.
Officer has ten (10) days from submission of the case to come out with the 19,794-89 had been decided on March 2, 1994; and the incident in Civil Case
resolution.1âwphi1 No. 17,215 had been resolved on October 3, 1994. With respect to Criminal
Cases Nos. 20,612-90 and 21,882-90, respondent states that he had already
But it bears stressing that the period fixed by law is merely "directory", although resolved the motion to recall warrant of arrest but admits that there was delay
it can not be disregarded or ignored completely, with absolute impunity. 28 The therein. As to Criminal Case No. 24,413-91, respondent merely states that
records of the case do not show any such complete disregard. In like manner, complainant’s claim of his hasty grant of bail has no basis in the record of that
the circumstances averred in the petition do not suffice to overcome the case. Respondent attributes the delay in his resolution and decision of these
presumption of regularity in the performance by the Ombudsman of his cases to his poor health, and submitted medical certificates dated July 26, 1993
functions, especially those involving the review of numerous resolutions and and September 29, 1994.
recommendations of his investigating officers.
This Court required complainant to reply.8 On January 31, 1995, complainant
In a number of cases, this Court has not hesitated to grant the so-called "radical filed his Reply to Compliance,9 wherein he highlighted the number of years or
relief" and to spare the accused from undergoing the rigors and expense of a months of delay during which the cases complained of remained pending even
full blown trial where it is clear that he has been deprived of due process of law before the alleged sickness adverted to in his medical certificates. Further,
and/or other constitutionally guaranteed rights. 29 But here, the Court finds complainant charged respondent judge of falsifying his monthly reports of
none. cases. Anent Criminal Case No. 24,413-91, complainant avers that although
respondent’s order granting the accused provisional liberty states that the bail
WHEREFORE, the petition is DENIED, and the respondent Regional Trial Court bond was executed by Dominion Insurance Corporation, the Bail Bond
is hereby ordered to attend with dispatch to the trial of Criminal Case No. Q-96- appearing in the record was issued under the name of The First Continental
66607, entitled "People of the Philippines vs. Judy Carol L. Dansal, Rafael T. Assurance Company, Inc., thus indicating that respondent approved the
Page 22 of 34
application for bail without having first seen the bail bond posted by the accused.
Finally, complainant cites another case, Criminal Cases Nos. 15,027-87 and Anent the respondent judge’s grant of bail to the accused and his subsequent
15,033-87 entitled "People of the Philippines versus Petronila Abellana" for approval of the bail bond in Criminal Case No. 24,413-91 entitled "People of the
violation of B.P. 22, in which a motion for reconsideration was submitted for Philippines versus Ronan Dulane, Accused," we are not persuaded by the
resolution as early as January 19, 1993 but remained unresolved. complainant’s accusation that there was undue haste in allowing bail and
improper approval of the bail bond filed. The respondent judge conducted a full-
In a Resolution dated March 8, 1995, respondent judge was required to file his blown hearing in the accused’s application for bail where the prosecution
rejoinder.10 Again, respondent filed successive motions for extension of time, presented its evidence. The Order admitting the evidence adduced and
on the ground that he was suffering from acute erosive and atropic gastritis and declaring the petition for bail submitted for resolution was issued on January 24,
emphysema. These motions for extension were all granted by this Court on May 1992. The Order granting bail to the accused was handed down on February
15, 1995.11 On August 30, 1995, respondent still has not filed his rejoinder; thus 21, 1992, or almost a month later (pp. 102-103, Rollo). The bail bond furnished
prompting this Court to issue another Resolution requiring him to show cause by the Dominion Insurance Corporation, formerly known as the First Continental
why he should not be disciplinarily dealt with or held in contempt.12 Without any Assurance Company, Inc., complete with all the requisite attachments, was
compliance from respondent, this Court, on July 10, 1996, again imposed on approved apparently two (2) days later, February 24, 1992 (pp. 110-112, Rollo).
respondent a fine of P500.00 with subsidiary imprisonment.13 The charges that there was undue haste in grant of bail, and that the bail bond
was irregularly approved, are belied by the evidence on record. We hold,
Respondent paid the fine14 and submitted his rejoinder15 on September 18, therefore, that the respondent judge’s explanation on the point is satisfactory.22
1996. He denies that he was hasty in the grant of bail in Criminal Case No.
24,413-91. According to respondent, the motion for bail was filed on November Finding the foregoing recommendation to be well-taken and supported by the
6, 1991. On January 24, 1992, the motion was duly heard and deemed record, we adopt the same and, accordingly, dismiss the complaint insofar as it
submitted for resolution. The order granting bail to the accused was issued on charges respondent judge of hastily granting bail in Criminal Case No. 24,413-
February 21, 1992, and a copy thereof was served on defense counsel on 91.
February 24, 1992. The accused submitted to the court his bail bond issued by
Dominion Insurance Corporation, formerly known as The First Continental Likewise, we sustain the Court Administrator’s finding that in our Resolution in
Assurance Company, Inc., which respondent approved also on February 24, A.M. 94-5-178-RTC, Re: Report on the Judicial Audit and Physical Inventory of
1992. Cases Conducted in the Regional Trial Courts of Davao City, dated August 7,
1996, respondent has already been fined for delaying the resolution of Civil
Countering complainant’s charge that he did not suffer any illness prior to the Case No. 18,636-87. Hence, respondent judge should no longer be punished a
resolution or decision of the cases, respondent states that way back in 1974, he second time for exactly the same infraction. While double jeopardy does not lie
had his gall bladder surgically removed; in 1976, he developed duodenal ulcer in administrative cases,23 it would be contrary to equity and substantial justice
for which he underwent treatment for three months; in 1988, he was hospitalized to penalize respondent judge a second time for an act which he had already
for vertigo (Menier’s Syndrome); in January 1995, he was diagnosed with answered for.
emphysema and since then had been suffering from numbness in the lower
extremities, and acute erosive and atroptic gastritis. Finally, he denies the The Court Administrator was correct in his recommendation of a fine for
imputation of falsification, pointing out that he brought to the attention of this respondent’s delay in deciding Civil Case No. 19,794-89. We do not, however,
Court En Banc his frail health and lack of support staff which rendered it difficult agree with his recommendation that respondent judge be excused from his
for him to resolve cases within the required period, and he had been adequately delay in the disposition of Civil Case No. 17,215 for the mere reason that it was
punished for this by this Court with a fine of P25,000.00 in A.M. No. 94-5-178- filed before the effectivity of the 1987 Constitution. Even under the 1973
RTC.16 Constitution, deadlines were imposed on the decision or resolution of cases or
matters by all courts, to wit:
In a Resolution dated November 11, 1996, this Court referred the administrative
complaint to Court of Appeals Justice Fermin A. Martin, Jr. for investigation, Upon the effectivity of this Constitution, the maximum period within which a case
report and recommendation.17 On motion by both complainant and respondent, or matter shall be decided or resolved from the date of its submission, shall be
this Court transferred the venue of the investigation to Davao City and eighteen months for the Supreme Court, and, unless reduced by the Supreme
designated Judge Gregorio A. Palabrica, Sr., Executive Judge of the Regional Court, twelve months for all inferior collegiate courts, and three months for all
Trial Court of Davao City, to receive the parties’ evidence and thereafter forward other inferior courts.24
the record of his investigation to Justice Martin.18
As can be clearly seen, the directive to the courts to speedily decide or resolve
After submission by Judge Palabrica of the evidence received in this cases or matters was not a new provision in the 1987 Constitution. It has been
administrative matter, Justice Martin filed his report with this Court, through the there since the previous Constitution. In a case decided under the 1973
Office of the Court Administrator, recommending that for his gross inefficiency, Constitution, this Court reprimanded and admonished a municipal judge for
respondent judge be meted the penalty of fine in the amount of Thirty Thousand deciding a criminal case beyond the ninety-day period required in Article X,
Pesos (P30,000.00) with a stern warning that the commission of the same or Section 15 of the Constitution and Section 5 of the Judiciary Act.25
similar act in the future will subject him to a more severe penalty.19
The deadline within which cases or matters pending before 1987 should be
On October 27, 1998, the Office of the Court Administrator submitted to this decided or resolved was expressly recognized and re-imposed in the Transitory
Court its own evaluation, report and recommendation.20 The Court Provisions of the 1987 Constitution, which states, among others:26
Administrator observed, first, that Civil Case No. 18,636-87 had already been
included in the audit conducted on March 21 to 30, 1994 of Branches 8 to 17 of SEC. 12. The Supreme Court shall, within one year after the ratification of this
the Regional Trial Court of Davao City, and for which this Court already fined Constitution, adopt a systematic plan to expedite the decision or resolution of
respondent in the sum of P25,000.00. Thus, he recommended that respondent cases or matters pending in the Supreme Court or the lower courts prior to the
not be fined a second time for delay in deciding that case. Secondly, the Court effectivity of this Constitution. A similar plan shall be adopted for all special
Administrator noted that Civil Case No. 17,215 was filed last September 27, courts and quasi-judicial bodies.
1984, before the effectivity of the 1987 Constitution. Based on this, respondent
should not be considered as having been in delay. Besides, according to the SEC. 13. The legal effect of the lapse, before the ratification of this Constitution,
Court Administrator, that case had already been decided; it was only the motion of the applicable period for the decision or resolution of the cases or matters
for determining the amount of attorney’s fees that was not acted upon submitted for adjudication by the courts, shall be determined by the Supreme
immediately. Withal, the Court Administrator found that there was only one civil Court as soon as practicable.
case, i.e., Civil Case No. 19,794-89, where the decision was delayed. Hence,
the Court Administrator recommended that respondent be fined in the amount SEC. 14. The provisions of paragraphs (3) and (4), Section 15 of Article VIII of
of P5,000.00. Thus: this Constitution shall apply to cases or matters filed before the ratification of
this Constitution, when the applicable period lapses after such ratification.
In view of all the foregoing, it is respectfully recommended that Judge William
Layague: In turn, Article VIII, Section 15, paragraphs (3) and (4), which are adverted to in
the transitory provisions, read:
[1] be FINED in the amount of P5,000.00 for the delay in the rendition of the
decision in Civil Case No. 19,794; (3) Upon the expiration of the corresponding period, a certification to this effect
signed by the Chief Justice of the presiding judge shall forthwith be issued and
[2] be DECLARED not to have incurred in delay in the resolution of the pending a copy thereof attached to the record of the case or matter, and served upon
incident in Civil Case No. 17,215; the parties. The certification shall state why a decision or resolution has not
been rendered or issued within said period.
[3] NOT be FINED for the delay in the rendition of the decision of Civil Case No.
18,636, he having been already fined for the delay in the rendition of the decision (4) Despite the expiration of the applicable mandatory period, the court, without
in said case in A.M. No. 94-5-178-RTC; and prejudice to such responsibility as may have been incurred in consequence
thereof, shall decide or resolve the case or matter submitted thereto for
[4] be DECLARED not to have been hasty in granting bail to the accused in determination, without further delay.27
Criminal Case No. 24,413, entitled "People of the Philippines vs. Ronan
Dulane," but to have observed procedural due process in the granting of the Accordingly, we issued on January 28, 1988 Administrative Circular No. 1,
same.21 providing for the guidelines for the implementation of Article XVIII, Section 12 of
the Constitution, mandating the adoption of a systematic plan to expedite the
In absolving respondent judge from the charge of hastily granting bail in Criminal decision or resolution of cases or matters pending in the Supreme Court and
Case No. 24,413-91, the Court Administrator sustained Justice Martin’s lower courts prior to the effectivity of the 1987 Constitution. Among them, the
recommendation as follows: more pertinent state:
Page 23 of 34
Petitioner is one of the accused in Criminal Case No. 91-6761, for estafa thru
1. Effective Docket Control: falsification of public document, and Criminal Case No. 91-6762, for estafa, with
respondent RCBC as the offended party in both cases.
xxx xxx x x x.
The informations were filed on October 22, 1992. After petitioner’s arraignment
1.4. Preference in Disposition. --- All cases or matters submitted for decision or on March 18, 1992, pre-trial was held, which was terminated on October 21,
resolution before the effectivity of the Constitution shall be given preference by 1994. Thereafter, the cases were scheduled for continuous trial in December
the presiding judge in his disposition of his docket. 1994, and in January and February 1993, but the hearings were cancelled
because the Presiding Judge of the court was elevated to this Court and no trial
xxx xxx x x x. judge was immediately appointed/detailed thereto.

5. Decision-Writing: The hearing set for June 21, 1995, was postponed for lack of proof of notice to
all the accused and their counsel. The hearing on July 17, 1995, upon request
5.1. All Presiding Judges must observe scrupulously the periods prescribed in of private prosecutor, and without objection on the part of petitioner’s counsel,
Art. VIII, Sec. 15 of the Constitution. postponed to July 24, 1995. However, for lack of proof of service of notice upon
petitioner’s three co-accused, the hearing set for July 24, 1995, was likewise
xxx xxx x x x. cancelled and the cases were reset for trial on September 8 and 25, 1995.

6. Motions and Other Interlocutory Matters: On September 8, 1995, private complainant failed to appear despite due notice.
Hence, upon motion of petitioner’s counsel, respondent court issued the
6.1. All Presiding Judges must endeavor to act promptly on all motions and following order:
interlocutory matters pending before their courts.
When this case was called for hearing, private complainant is not in Court
xxx xxx x x x. despite notice. Atty. Alabastro, counsel for accused Roberto Almario, moved
that the case against the latter be dismissed for failure to prosecute and
10. Maintaining Public Confidence in the Courts: considering that accused is entitled to a speedy trial.

xxx xxx x x x. WHEREFORE, the case against accused Roberto Almario is hereby dismissed.
With respect to accused Spouses Susensio and Guillerma Cruz and Dante
10.3. The reduction of case loads would be an efficacious design to strengthen Duldulao, 1st warrant be issued for their arrest.
public confidence in the Courts.1âwphi1 All efforts should be exerted so that
case disposals should exceed case inputs. Whenever obstacles present SO ORDERED.
themselves which delay case disposition, the Presiding Judge should
immediately call the attention of the Supreme Court through the Court Upon motion of the private prosecutor and despite the opposition of petitioner,
Administrator when the situation requires remedies beyond the control or respondent court in its Order dated October 25, 1995, reconsidered the Order
capability of the judges. of September 8, 1995. The pertinent portion of said order reads as follows:

The constitutional mandate to promptly dispose of cases does not only refer to In Hipolito vs. Court of Appeals (G.R. No. 108478-79, Feb. 21, 1993) the
the decision of cases on their merits, but also to the resolution of motions and Supreme Court held that the right of the accused to a speedy trial is deemed
other interlocutory matters, as the constitutional provisions explicitly mention violated only when the proceedings is attended by vexations, capricious and
"cases" and "matters". Therefore, respondent judge must not be excused for his oppressive delays, or when unjustified postponements of the trial are asked for
delay in resolving the incident in Civil Case No. 17,215. and secured, or when without cause or unjustifiable motive, a long period of time
is allowed to (e) lapse without the party having his case tried. At least this right
Finally, the Court Administrator omitted to mention Criminal Cases Nos. 20,612- is relative, taking into (the) account the circumstances of each case.
90 and 21,882-90, wherein respondent admittedly resolved the motion to recall
warrant of arrest after a delay of one (1) year. This, too, must be taken into There has been no vexations, capricious and oppressive delays, or unjustified
consideration in the imposition of sanctions on respondent judge. postponements of the trial, or a long time is allowed to (e) lapse without the party
having his case tried which would constitute, according to the above case,
WHEREFORE, respondent Judge William Layague is FINED in the amount of violation of the right of the accused to speedy trial. After arraignment of the
TEN THOUSAND PESOS (P10,000.00) for delay in the decision of Civil Case accused, the pre-trial was set and the same was ordered terminated on October
No. 19,794 and in the resolution of the incidents in Civil Case No. 17,215, 25, 1994. On June 21, 1995, the case was set for initial presentation of evidence
Criminal Case No. 20,612-90 and Criminal Case No. 21,882-90. The complaints of the proof of service of the notices to the accused and their respective
against him, of delay in deciding Civil Case No. 18,636-87 and for hastily counsels. On July 17, 1995, counsel for the accused did not interpose objection
granting bail in Criminal Case No. 24,413-91, are DISMISSED. to private prosecutor's motion to postpone due to absence of witnesses. On July
24, 1995, the trial could not proceed as, being a joint trial of three criminal cases,
SO ORDERED. the three other accused were not present. There were only three settings from
the date of termination of the pre-trial for the prosecution to present evidence
Davide, Jr., C.J., (Chairman), Puno, Kapunan, and Pardo, JJ., concur. and the same were postponed with valid reasons.

The dismissal in the Order dated September 8, 1995, did not result in the
acquittal of the accused since the right of the accused to speedy trial has not
Republic of the Philippines been violated, and its dismissal having been made upon the motion of the
SUPREME COURT accused there is no double jeopardy.
Baguio
WHEREFORE, premises considered, the Order dated September 8, 1995
SECOND DIVISION dismissing the charge/case against the accused Roberto Almario is
reconsidered and set aside.
G.R. No. 127772 March 22, 2001
SO ORDERED.
ROBERTO P. ALMARIO, petitioner,
vs. Petitioner sought a reconsideration of the above order. Acting on the Motion for
COURT OF APPEALS, HON. FLORENTINO A. TUASON, JR., PEOPLE OF Reconsideration dated November 9, 1995, respondent Judge issued his
THE PHILIPPINES AND RIZAL COMMERCIAL BANKING CORP., assailed Order of April 11, 1996, the dispositive portion of which reads as
respondents. follows:

QUISUMBING, J.: IN VIEW OF THE FOREGOING, the Motion for Reconsideration dated 9
November 1995 is hereby denied for lack of merit considering that, based on
This appeal by certiorari seeks to set aside the resolutions of the Court of the foregoing facts, the proceedings in this case have not been prolonged
Appeals dated November 21, 19961 and of January 7, 1997,2 in CA-G.R. No. unreasonably nor were there oppressive delays and unjustified postponements
SP-42312, which denied the petition for certiorari, prohibition and mandamus in violation of the Accused's constitutional right to speedy trial.
with preliminary injunction instituted by petitioner against the Hon. Florentino A.
Tuason, Jr., in his capacity as Presiding Judge of Branch 139, Regional Trial SO ORDERED.6
Court of Makati City, the Rizal Commercial Banking Corporation (RCBC), and
the People of the Philippines.3 Involved in said petition were the orders of Judge Aggrieved by the foregoing order, petitioner filed before the Court of Appeals a
Jaime D. Discaya and Judge Tuason dated October 25, 19954 and April 11, petition for certiorari, prohibition and mandamus with preliminary injunction
1996,5 respectively, issued in Criminal Cases Nos. 91-6761-62 which petitioner against the presiding judge of Branch 139 of the Regional Trial Court of Makati
claimed were violative of his constitutional right against double jeopardy but City, RCBC and the People of the Philippines. In a resolution dated November
which respondent appellate court upheld.1âwphi1.nêt 21, 1996, respondent appellate court denied the petition due course and
dismissed it for lack of merit. Petitioner's motion to reconsider it was likewise
The factual antecedents in these cases, as culled by the Court of Appeals, are denied for lack of merit in a resolution dated January 7, 1997.
as follows:
Before us, petitioner maintains that the appellate court erred in sustaining the
trial court which, in turn, had gravely abused its discretion, amounting to lack of
Page 24 of 34
jurisdiction, when it reconsidered the order which dismissed the criminal cases It follows that petitioner cannot invoke the constitutional right against double
against him. Petitioner asserts that this reversal was a violation of the doctrine jeopardy when that order was reconsidered seasonably.16 For as petitioner's
of double jeopardy, as the criminal cases were initially dismissed for an alleged right to speedy trial was not transgressed, this exception to the fifth element of
violation of petitioner's constitutional right to a speedy trial.7 double jeopardy - that the defendant was acquitted or convicted, or the case
was dismissed or otherwise terminated without the express consent of the
The issue for resolution is whether, in petitioner's cases, double jeopardy had accused - was not met. The trial court's initial order of dismissal was upon
set in so that petitioner's constitutional right against such jeopardy had been motion of petitioner's counsel, hence made with the express consent of
violated. petitioner. That being the case, despite the reconsideration of said order, double
jeopardy did not attach. As this Court had occasion to rule in People vs. Tampal,
Article III, Section 21 of the 1987 Constitution provides: (244 SCRA 202) reiterated in People vs. Leviste,17 where we overturned an
order of dismissal by the trial court predicated on the right to speedy trial -
Section 21. No person shall be twice put in jeopardy of punishment for the same
offense. If an act is punished by a law and an ordinance, conviction or acquittal It is true that in an unbroken line of cases, we have held that the dismissal of
under either shall constitute a bar to another prosecution for the same act. cases on the ground of failure to prosecute is equivalent to an acquittal that
would bar further prosecution of the accused for the same offense. It must be
Section 7, Rule 117 of the Revised Rules of Court provides: stressed, however, that these dismissals were predicated on the clear right of
the accused to speedy trial. These cases are not applicable to the petition at
Section 7. Former conviction or acquittal; double jeopardy. - When an accused bench considering that the right of the private respondents to speedy trial has
has been convicted or acquitted, or the case against him dismissed or otherwise not been violated by the State. For this reason, private respondents cannot
terminated without his express consent by a court of competent jurisdiction, invoke their right against double jeopardy.
upon a valid complaint or information or other formal charge sufficient in form
and substance to sustain a conviction and after the accused had leaded to the Both the trial court and the Court of Appeals were thus not in error when they
charge, the conviction or acquittal of the accused or the dismissal of the case allowed reinstatement of the cases against petitioner.
shall be a bar to another prosecution for the offense charged, or for any attempt
to commit the same or frustration thereof, or for any offense which necessarily WHEREFORE, the resolutions of the Court of Appeals in CA-G.R. No. SP-
includes or is necessarily included in the offense charged in the former 42312, dated November 21, 1996 and January 7, 1997, which upheld the orders
complaint or information. of the Regional Trial Court of Makati, Branch 139, in Criminal Cases Nos. 91-
6761-62, are hereby AFFIRMED. Costs against petitioner.
x x x
SO ORDERED.
Clearly, jeopardy attaches only (1) upon a valid indictment, (2) before a
competent court, (3) after arraignment, (4) when a valid plea has been entered, Bellosillo, Mendoza, Buena, and De Leon, Jr., JJ., concur.
and (5) when the defendant was convicted or acquitted, or the case was
dismissed or otherwise terminated without the express consent of the accused.8

In the cases at bar, the order of dismissal based on a violation of the right to Republic of the Philippines
speedy trial was made upon motion by counsel for petitioner before the trial SUPREME COURT
court. It was made at the instance of the accused before the trial court, and with Manila
his express consent. Generally, the dismissal of a criminal case resulting in THIRD DIVISION
acquittal made with the express consent of the accused or upon his own motion
will not place the accused in double jeopardy. However, this rule admits of two G.R. No. 140529 September 6, 2001
exceptions, namely: insufficiency of evidence and denial of the right to speedy
trial.9 Double jeopardy may attach when the proceedings have been prolonged JOSE P. LOPEZ, JR., petitioner,
unreasonably, in violation of the accused's right to speedy trial.10 vs.
OFFICE OF THE OMBUDSMAN, HON. ANIANO A. DESIERTO and HON.
Here we must inquire whether there was unreasonable delay in the conduct of MARGARITO P. GERVACIO, JR. in their official capacities as Ombudsman
the trial so that violation of the right to speedy trial of the accused, herein and Deputy Ombudsman for Mindanao, respectively, and the
petitioner, resulted. For it must be recalled that in the application of the Sandiganbayan, respondents.
constitutional guaranty of the right to speedy disposition of cases, particular
regard must also be taken of the facts and circumstances peculiar to each GONZAGA-REYES, J.:
case.11 Both the trial court and the appellate court noted that after pre-trial of
petitioner's case was terminated on October 21, 1994, continuous trial was set Before us is a Petition for Mandamus seeking: 1) the dismissal of Ombudsman
in the months of December 1994, and January and February of 1995. The Case No. OMB-3-93-2793 (now Criminal Cases Nos. 25247-25226); and 2) the
scheduled hearings, however, were cancelled when the presiding judge was issuance of a clearance in favor of petitioner Jose P. Lopez, Jr.
promoted to the Court of Appeals, and his successor as trial judge was not
immediately appointed, nor another judge detailed to his sala.1âwphi1.nêt The facts as narrated in the memorandum of petitioner are:

Records show that on June 21, 1995, hearing was postponed for lack of proof "1. The petitioner is presently the Administrative Officer of the Department of
of notice to the accused and their counsel. The hearing on July 17, 1995, was Education, Culture and Sports (DECS), Region XII, Cotabato City.
postponed upon motion of the private prosecutor without objection from
petitioner's counsel. The hearing set on July 24, 1995 was reset, despite the Because of the exigency of the service, the petitioner temporarily stays in
presence of petitioner and his counsel, because of lack of proof of service of Cotabato City although he is a resident of Parañaque City.
notice to co-accused Dante Duldulao and the spouses Susencio and Guillerma
Cruz.12 2. On June 30, 1959, the petitioner started working with the DECS as a
classroom teacher. Through hard work, exemplary performance and continuous
As observed by respondent appellate court, delay in the trial was due to studies, he was promoted and assigned to different positions such as Special
circumstances beyond the control of the parties and of the trial court. The first Education Teacher; Child and Youth Specialist; 2nd Lt., 36 Battalion Combat
and third postponements were clearly justified on the ground of lack of notice to Team, Philippine Army (Reserved Force); Asst. Director and concurrent
accused, co-accused, and/or counsel. Another was made without objection from Director, Child and Youth Research Center (now a defunct office); and finally,
petitioner's counsel. However, on September 8, 1995, counsel for petitioner he was appointed as Administrative Officer V, DECS-Region XII, Cotabato City.
moved for dismissal of this case, because of the absence of the private
prosecutor due to a severe attack of gout and arthritis, although he had sent his 3. Among the tasks of the petitioner as Administrative Officer V is to determine
associate lawyer acceptable to the court.13 All in all, there were only three re- whether certain expenses are necessary in the attainment of the objectives of
setting of hearing dates. Thus, after a closer analysis of these successive the DECS-Region XII and to pass upon, review and evaluate documents and
events, the trial court realized that the dates of the hearings were transferred for other supporting papers submitted to him in relation to his duties.
valid grounds. Hence, the trial court set aside its initial order and reinstated the
cases against petitioner,14 which order the appellate court later sustained. 4. Between 1992 and 1993, DECS-Region XII ordered several pieces of
laboratory equipment and apparati requested by different school divisions of the
That there was no unreasonable delay of the proceedings is apparent from the region.
chronology of the hearings with the reasons for their postponements or
transfers. Petitioner could not refute the appellate court's findings that 5. The concerned officers of DECS-Region XII submitted to the petitioner the
petitioner's right to speedy trial had not been violated. As both the trial and documents covering the transactions.
appellate courts have taken pains to demonstrate, there was no unreasonable,
vexatious and oppressive delay in the trial. Hence, there was no violation of 6. After careful scrutiny of the documents submitted to him, the petitioner affixed
petitioner's right to speedy trial as there were no unjustified postponements his signature on the disbursements vouchers that were accompanied by
which had prolonged the trial for unreasonable lengths of time.15 Purchase Orders, Sales Invoices, Delivery/Memorandum Receipts and proof
that the transactions were post audited by the COA Resident Auditor who found
There being no oppressive delay in the proceedings, and no postponements them in order.
unjustifiably sought, we concur with the conclusion reached by the Court of
Appeals that petitioner's right to speedy trial had not been infringed. Where the 7. Disregarding the findings of the COA Resident Auditor - DECS Region XII,
right of the accused to speedy trial had not been violated, there was no reason Cotabato City, who post audited the transactions and found them in order, for
to support the initial order of dismissal. reasons of his own, the COA Regional Director formed a Special Audit Team to
investigate and audit the transactions.
Page 25 of 34
the motion for extension and gave the respondents until May 4, 1994 within
8. Without seeking the presence of the concerned officials and employees of which to submit their Counter-Affidavits.
DECS – Region XII, the COA Special Audit Team conducted an audit of the
transactions. On May 10, 1994 the Office of the Ombudsman, Mindanao received the
Counter-Affidavits of the respondents.
9. On December 20, 1993, the members of the COA Special Audit Team
submitted to the COA Regional Director-Region XII, their Joint Affidavit claiming On August 2, 1994 the Office of the Ombudsman, Mindanao was informed
alleged deficiencies in the transactions of DECS – Region XII implicating thereto through the letter of COA Director Eugenio G. Fernandez that the COA was not
the petitioner and some concerned officials and employees of DECS-Region furnished by the respondents in Case No. OMB-3-93-2791 of their Counter-
XII. Affidavits.

10. Dispensing conducting an exit conference and inviting the petitioner to clarify Subsequently, GIO Tolentino issued an Order dropping Alimot Lao Arumpac
the allegations of the COA Special Audit Team in their Joint Affidavit-Complaint, from the case in view of his death. The COA on the other hand was directed to
in post-haste the COA Regional Directors indorsed it to the Office of the submit its Reply-Affidavit within ten days from receipt of the Order.
Ombudsman-Mindanao for preliminary investigation.
On January 11, 1995 the Office of the Ombudsman, Mindanao received a
11. The Office of Ombudsman-Mindanao docketed the complaint as Case No. telegram from COA, Region XII Office requesting that it be allowed until
3-93-27791, entitled "Commission on Audit vs. Makil Pundaodaya, et al.," for February 29, 1995 within which to submit its Reply-Affidavit on the ground that
Falsification of Documents by Public Officers." the audit team leader and members who conducted the special audit of DECS,
Region XII Office were preparing for their annual audit report.
12. In her Order dated March 1, 1994, Graft Investigation Officer (GIO) Marie
Dinah Tolentino directed the petitioner to submit a Counter-Affidavit without On February 29, 1995 the Office of the Ombudsman, Mindanao received the
informing him of his constitutional right to counsel. Reply-Affidavit of COA.

13. On April 14, 1994, without the assistance of counsel, the petitioner wrote the In a Resolution dated July 17, 1998 GIO Rachelle L. Ladrera recommended the
Office of the Ombudsman-Mindanao requesting for an extension of ten (10) filing of thirty (30) Informations against petitioner, Makil U. Pundaodaya, Jose T.
days from April 19, 1994 to submit his Counter-Affidavit. Navera, Rogelio de los Reyes, Daud M. Adiong, Napoleon O. Cedeno, Laga S.
Mangelen and Mama S. Macoming. The said recommendation was approved
14. On April 19, 1994, Atty. Edgardo A. Camello, counsel for Makil Pundaodaya by public respondents Deputy Ombudsman for Mindanao Margarito P. Gervacio
and the other respondents in Case No. OMB-3-93-8791 filed a Motion for on February 27, 1999, and by the Honorable Ombudsman on April 30, 1999.
Extension of Time to submit their Counter-Affidavits.
The thirty Informations docketed as Criminal Cases Nos. 25247 to 25276 were
15. On April 22, 1994, without the assistance of counsel, the petitioner submitted filed with the Sandiganbayan and raffled to the respondent court on May 5,
to the Office of Ombudsman-Mindanao his Counter-Affidavit he personally 1999.
prepared denying specifically each and every criminal act attributed to him by
the Commission on Audit. On July 27, 1999 petitioner filed with the respondent court a motion for the
reduction of the bail. The motion was approved by the respondent court in an
16. Although the petitioner did not submit any written statement authorizing Atty. Order dated August 4, 1999."2
Camello to represent him in Case No. OMB 3-93-8791, the Office of the
Ombudsman-Mindanao erroneously assumed or deliberately made to appear In his Memorandum, petitioner presents before this Court the sole issue of:
that he was represented by said attorney. As a consequence thereof, the Office "Whether or not there was undue and unjustifiable delay on the part of the
of Ombudsman-Mindanao did not notify him of the progress of the preliminary Ombudsman in resolving the complaint filed against the petitioner which violated
investigation. In fact, it did not issue any order directing COA, Region XII to his constitutional right to a speedy disposition of the Complaint against him; and
furnish him with a copy of the latter’s Reply-Affidavit, which explained why whether or not such undue and unjustifiable delay in resolving the Complaint
petitioner could not be expected to submit a Rejoinder to rebut the issues raised against the petitioner would warrant its dismissal."3 Petitioner’s main argument
in said Reply-Affidavit; to summon and compel witnesses to appear and testify is that the "complaint against petitioner, Case No. OMB 3-93-2793, was filed
before the Graft Investigation Officer or to bring books, documents and other with the Office of the Ombudsman-Mindanao on December 10, 1993 and was
records relative to the transactions under their control and to secure the resolved only on April 30, 1998,4 resulting in a delay of 4 years, 4 months and
attendance or presence of any absent or recalcitrant witness. 10 days." In addition, petitioner argues that he was deprived of due process
because he did not engage a certain Atty. Edgardo Camello who filed an
17. More than four (4) years after he submitted his Counter-Affidavit, the "Appearance with Motion for Extension of Time to Submit Counter-Affidavits" on
petitioner was surprised that, without preliminary investigation and clarificatory behalf of the respondents in Case No. OMB-3-93-2791; that he was not advised
question asked, on July 17, 1998, the Office of the Ombudsman-Mindanao by the Graft Investigation Officer of his right to attorney; and that he filed his
terminated the preliminary investigation recommending that he, together with counter-affidavit without the assistance of counsel. On the other hand,
the other respondents in Case No. OMB 3-93-9791, be prosecuted for violation respondent Office of the Ombudsman argues that petitioners cannot, by this
of Sec. 3(e) and (g) of the Anti-Graft and Corrupt Practices Act. special civil action for mandamus, compel the ombudsman to dismiss the
criminal charges filed against them, since such dismissal involves a
18. Within the reglementary period, without the assistance of counsel, the discretionary, not a ministerial, duty.
petitioner sent a letter to the Office of the Ombudsman-Mindanao dated June 8,
1999 seeking the reconsideration of the Resolution in Case No. OMB 33-93- First, we shall discuss the propriety of mandamus as a remedy, an issue which
2791 wherein he stressed that he was deprived of due process and that there is not novel. This Court has held that, "while as a general rule, the performance
was inordinate delay in the resolution of the preliminary investigation; and there of an official act or duty, which necessarily involves the exercise of discretion or
was no exit conference wherein he could have explained to the Graft judgment, cannot be compelled by mandamus, this rule does not apply in cases
Investigation Officer his exculpatory participation in the transactions where there is gross abuse of discretion, manifest injustice, or palpable excess
investigated. In addition, he also submitted to the Office of the Ombudsman- of authority."5 Thus, in Angchangco, Jr. vs. Ombudsman6 and Roque vs. Office
Mindanao a Motion for Reconsideration or Reinvestigation reiterating the of the Ombudsman7 the writ was issued in said instances.
allegations mentioned in his letter dated June 8, 1999. Unfortunately, said
Motion for Reconsideration or Reinvestigation was not acted upon by the Office Second, we shall determine if the exceptions cited apply to this case. The Office
of the Ombudsman-Mindanao by giving the excuse that its Resolution was of the Ombudsman narrates that the verified audit report of the COA special
already forwarded to Ombudsman Aniano Desierto."1 audit team was received on December 22, 1993, and finding the same sufficient
in form and substance was docketed as OMB Case No. 34-93-2791. On the
On the other hand, the facts as narrated in the Memorandum of the Office of the basis thereof, a preliminary investigation was conducted. On March 1, 1994, the
Ombudsman are as follows: respondents were ordered to file their counter-affidavits. On May 10, 1994, the
Office of the Ombudsman received the counter-affidavits of respondents. On
"Criminal Cases Nos. 25247 to 25276 stemmed from a special audit conducted February 29, 1995, the Office of the Ombudsman received the reply-affidavit of
by the Commission on Audit (COA), Region XII relative to the purchase by the COA. In a Resolution dated July 17, 1998, graft investigation officer Rachelle L.
Department of Education, Culture and Sports (DECS), Region XII Office, Ladrera recommended the filing of thirty (30) informations against petitioner,
Cotabato City of school equipment and laboratory apparati. The report on the Makil U. Pundaodaya, Jose T. Navera, Rogelio de los Reyes, Daud M. Adiong,
special audit was received by the Office of the Ombudsman, Mindanao on Napoleon O. Cedeno, Laga S. Mangelen and Mama S. Macoming. The said
December 22, 1993. Finding the audit report sufficient to conduct a preliminary recommendation was approved by Deputy Ombudsman for Mindanao Margarito
investigation the same was docketed as Case No. OMB-3-93-2791. P. Gervacio on February 27, 1999, and by Ombudsman Aniano Desierto on
April 30, 1999. The informations were filed with the Sandiganbayan on May 5,
In an Order dated March 1, 1994, Graft Investigation Officer (GIO) Marie Dinah 1999. In its memorandum, the Office of the Ombudsman justified the delay in
Tolentino directed the concerned public officials, among whom was herein the conduct of the preliminary investigation and subsequently, in the filing of the
petitioner, to submit their Counter-Affidavits and controverting evidences within informations by stating that:
ten days from receipt of the Order and to furnish a copy of their counter-
Affidavits to the complainant. The latter was given the same period of ten (10) "Records of Case No. OMB 3-93-2791 will show that petitioner, thru his counsel,
days to file their reply to the Counter-Affidavits. filed on April 19, 1994 with the Office of the Ombudsman, Mindanao for an
extension of time to file his Counter-Affidavit. Petitioner submitted his Counter-
On April 19, 1994 the Office of the Ombudsman, Mindanao received a pleading Affidavit only on May 11, 1994.
denominated as "APPEARANCE With Motion for Extension of Time to Submit
Counter-Affidavits" from Atty. Edgardo A. Camello, counsel for the respondents However, in a letter dated August 2, 1994 the Office of the Ombudsman,
in Case No. OMB-3-93-2791. The Office of the Ombudsman, Mindanao granted Mindanao was informed by complainant COA that it was not furnished with a
Page 26 of 34
copy of the Counter-Affidavits of the respondents in Case No. OMB-3-93-2791 Verily, the delay in this case disregarded the Ombudsman’s duty, as mandated
in complete disregard of the Order of GIO Tolentino. by the Constitution and Republic Act No. 6770, to enforce the criminal liability
of government officers or employees in every case where the evidence warrants
Hence, the Office of the Ombudsman, Mindanao furnished the COA with a copy in order to promote efficient service to the people.13 The failure of said office to
of the Counter-Affidavits and ordered the same office to submit its reply thereto resolve the complaints that have been pending for almost four years is clearly
within ten (10) days. It filed its Reply-Affidavit on February 28, 1995. violative of this mandate and the rights of petitioner as a public official. In such
event, petitioner is entitled to the dismissal of the cases filed against him.
It will be noted that the Office of the Ombudsman, Mindanao directed the COA
to furnish the respondents in Case No. OMB 3-93-2791 with a copy of their In Tatad vs. Sandiganbayan,14 this Court dismissed the informations pending
Reply-Affidavit to afford the latter an opportunity to controvert the allegations before the Sandiganbayan, after finding the delay of three years in the
contained therein. Petitioner however, and his other co-respondents did not file termination of the preliminary investigation by the Tanodbayan to be violative of
any pleading with, or notified the Office of the Ombudsman, Mindanao that they the constitutional right of the accused to a speedy disposition of cases. It was
were waiving their right to refute the contents of the Reply-Affidavit. Thus, it is held therein:
clear that petitioner’s averment that this case has been pending for more than
six (6) years has no basis. "x x x. A delay of close to three (3) years can not be deemed reasonable or
justifiable in the light of the circumstances obtaining in the case at bar. We are
It should also be considered that there were several transactions involved in not impressed by the attempt of the Sandiganbayan to sanitize the long delay
Case No. OMB 3-93-2791. This fact is proven by the thirty (30) Informations by indulging in the speculative assumption that "the delay may be due to a
filed before the respondent court. Added to this is the fact that from the time the painstaking and gruelling scrutiny by the Tanodbayan as to whether the
July 17, 1998 Resolution was approved by public respondent Deputy evidence presented during the preliminary investigation merited prosecution of
Ombudsman Gervacio in his office in Mindanao the records of the case still has a former high ranking government official." In the first place, such a statement
to be sent to Manila for the review of the Ombudsman. The basic rule therefore suggests a double standard of treatment, which must be emphatically rejected.
that in applying the constitutional guarantee of the right to speedy disposition of Secondly, three out of the five charges against the petitioner were for his alleged
cases particular regard must also be take on the facts and circumstances failure to file his sworn statement of assets and liabilities required by Republic
peculiar to each case, finds meaning herein."8 Act No. 3019, which certainly did not involve complicated legal and factual
issues necessitating such "painstaking and gruelling scrutiny" as would justify a
We find for petitioner. delay of almost three years in terminating the preliminary investigation. The
other two charges relating to the alleged bribery and alleged giving of
Article III of the Constitution provides that: unwarranted benefits to a relative, while presenting more substantial legal and
factual issues, certainly do not warrant or justify the period of three years, which
Sec. 16. All persons shall have the right to a speedy disposition of their cases it took the Tanodbayan to resolve the case."
before all judicial, quasi-judicial, or administrative bodies.
Similarly, we hold that the circumstances obtaining in the instant case do not
The constitutional right to a "speedy disposition of cases" is not limited to the warrant or justify the length of time, that is four years, it took the Ombudsman to
accused in criminal proceedings but extends to all parties in all cases, including resolve the preliminary investigation. What glares from the pleadings of both the
civil and administrative cases, and in all proceedings, including judicial and petitioner and the public respondent Ombudsman is that from the submission of
quasi-judicial hearings."9 Hence, under the Constitution, any party to a case the last reply-affidavit, there was an unexplained interval or inactivity of close to
may demand expeditious action on all officials who are tasked with the four years, prior to the issuance of the resolution finding probable cause and
administration of justice.10 directing the filing of the corresponding informations.

However, the right to a speedy disposition of a case, like the right to speedy Lastly, petitioner prays for the dismissal of Ombudsman Case No. OMB-3-93-
trial, is deemed violated only when the proceedings is attended by vexatious, 2791, and this Court, applying the ruling in the Roque case,15 citing Tatad,16
capricious, and oppressive delays; or when unjustified postponements of the likewise resolves to directly dismiss the informations already filed before the
trial are asked for and secured, or even without cause or justifiable motive a Sandiganbayan against petitioner "in the interest of the speedy disposition of
long period of time is allowed to elapse without the party having his case tried. cases" and considering that "the long and unexplained delay in the resolution of
Equally applicable is the balancing test used to determine whether a defendant the criminal complaints against petitioner was not corrected by the eventual
has been denied his right to a speedy trial, or a speedy disposition of a case for filing of the informations."
that matter, in which the conduct of both the prosecution and the defendant is
weighed, and such factors as the length of the delay, the reasons for such delay, WHEREFORE, the Petition for Mandamus is GRANTED and Ombudsman Case
the assertion or failure to assert such right by the accused, and the prejudice No. OMB-3-93-2791 is accordingly DISMISSED. The Office of the Ombudsman
caused by the delay. The concept of speedy disposition is a relative term and is further directed to issue the corresponding clearance in favor of petitioner.
must necessarily be a flexible concept.11
SO ORDERED.
In this case, the preliminary investigation was resolved close to four (4) years
from the time all the counter and reply affidavits were submitted to the Office of Melo, Vitug, Panganiban, and Sandoval-Gutierrez, JJ., concur.
the Ombudsman. After the last reply-affidavit was filed on February 28, 1995, it
was only on July 17, 1998 that a resolution was issued recommending the filing
of the corresponding criminal informations against the petitioner and the others.
It took eight months or on February 27, 1999 for Deputy Ombudsman Margarito Republic of the Philippines
P. Gervacio, Jr. to approve the same and close to another year or on April 30, SUPREME COURT
1999 for Ombudsman Aniano Desierto to approve the recommendation. During Manila
this interval, no incidents presented themselves for resolution and the delay EN BANC
could only be attributed to the inaction on the part of the investigating officials.
Indeed, we find that without cause or justifiable motive, a long period of time G.R. No. 145851 November 22, 2001
was allowed to elapse at the preliminary investigation stage before the
informations were filed. ABELARDO B. LICAROS, petitioner,
vs.
True, the prosecution is not bound by the findings of the COA and it must rely THE SANDIGANBAYAN and THE SPECIAL PROSECUTOR, respondents.
on its own independent judgment in the determination of probable cause.12
However, we find that the cases are not sufficiently complex to justify the length PANGANIBAN, J.:
of time for their resolution. Neither can the long delay in resolving the case under
preliminary investigation be justified on the basis of the number of informations The unreasonable delay of more, than ten (10) years to resolve a criminal case,
filed before the Sandiganbayan nor of the transactions involved. The thirty without fault on the part of the accused and despite his earnest effort to have
informations consist of sixteen (16) counts of violations of Section 3 (g) of RA his case decided, violates the constitutional right to the speedy disposition of a
3019 relative to the overpricing and lack of public bidding of laboratory case. Unlike the right to a speedy trial, this constitutional privilege applies not
apparatus and school equipment; while the fourteen (14) counts are for only during the trial stage, but also when the case has already been submitted
violations of Section 3 (e) of the same law relative to the certification in the for decision.
inspection reports that the subject items have already been delivered and
received, when in fact they have not yet been actually delivered and received, The Case
in order to facilitate payment to the suppliers. There is no statement that
voluminous documentary and testimonial evidence were involved. On the Before this Court is a Petition for Mandamus1 under Rule 65 of the Rules of
contrary, the Office Ombudsman itself claimed in its memorandum filed before Court, seeking to compel the Sandiganbayan (First Division) to dismiss Criminal
this Court that "the Complaint and the Counter-Affidavits submitted by the Case No. 6672 against herein petitioner, who is charged as an accessory.
complainant and the accused respectively, as well as the documents on hand"
were sufficient to establish the existence of probable cause for violation of The Facts
Section 3 (e) and (g) of RA 3019. Hence, a clarificatory hearing was no longer
conducted. Indeed, it appears that the COA special audit team had already Undisputed by the special prosecutor2 and the Sandiganbayan3 are the
come up and provided the Office of the Ombudsman with the facts and figures material facts as narrated by petitioner in this wise:
on the alleged overpricing, lack of public bidding and irregular inspection
reports, so much so that a delay of almost four years in terminating the "4.1 On 5 June 1982, the Legaspi City Branch of the Central Bank was
preliminary investigation is not justified. robbed and divested of cash in the amount of P19,731,320.00.

Page 27 of 34
"4.2 In the evening of June 6, 1982, Modesto Licaros (no relation to Pantorial, who took the sworn statement of accused Rolando Quejada. None of
herein petitioner), one of the principal accused, together with four companions, these witnesses, nor any of the principal accused who executed the sworn
delivered in sacks a substantial portion of the stolen money to the Concepcion statements implicated herein petitioner to the crime of robbery directly or
Building in Intramuros, Manila where Home Savings Bank had its offices, of indirectly.
which herein petitioner was then Vice Chairman and Treasurer. The delivery
was made on representation by Modesto Licaros to former Central Bank "4.11 On September 17, 1984, the prosecution formally offered its
Governor Gregorio Licaros, Sr., then Chairman of the Bank and father of herein documentary evidence. In a Resolution dated October 1, 1984, the
petitioner, that the money to be deposited came from some Chinese Sandiganbayan admitted the evidence covered by said formal offer and the
businessmen from Iloilo who wanted the deposit kept secret; that Governor prosecution [was] considered to have rested its case.
Licaros left for the United States on May 28, 1982 for his periodic medical check-
up, so left to his son, herein petitioner, to attend to the proposed deposit. "4.12 In a Resolution dated June 25, 1985, the Sandiganbayan granted
the prosecution's motion to reopen the case to allow its witness Lamberto
"4.3 Even the prosecution admits in their Reply Memorandum that from Zuniga to testify on the conspiracy and to identify a sworn statement given
the evidence presented, that in the evening of June 8, 1982, herein petitioner before the NBI on June 15, 1982. Having been established that petitioner was
attempted to report the incident to General Fabian Ver but he could not get in not part of the conspiracy, the testimony had no materiality nor relevance to the
touch with him because the latter was then out of the country; that it was only case insofar as petitioner is concerned.
the following day, June 9, 1982, when herein petitioner was able to arrange a
meeting with then Central Bank Governor Jaime C. Laya, Senior Deputy "4.13 On January 14, 1986, petitioner filed a Motion for Separate Trial
Governor Gabriel Singson, and Central Bank Chief Security Officer, Rogelio contending that the prosecution already closed its evidence and that his defense
Navarete, to report his suspicion that the money being deposited by Modesto is separate and distinct from the other accused, he having been charged only
Licaros may have been stolen money. With the report or information supplied as accessory. The [Motion] was granted in an Order dated January 17, 1986.
by herein petitioner, then CB Governor Laya called up then NBI Director Jolly
Bugarin and soon after the meeting, the NBI, Metrocom and [the] CB security "4.14 Thereafter, herein petitioner commenced the presentation of his
guards joined forces for the recovery of the money and the apprehension of the evidence. Aside from his testimony and that of his late father, former Central
principal accused. Bank Governor-Gregorio S. Licaros, petitioner presented the top officials of the
Central Bank namely then Central Bank Governor Jaime C. Laya, then Senior
"4.4 All the aforesaid Central Bank officials executed sworn statements Deputy Governor Gabriel C. Singson, then Central Bank Security and Transport
and testified for herein petitioner, particularly CB Governor Jaime C. Laya, CB Dept. Chief Rogelio M. Navarette who identified their sworn statements taken
Senior Deputy Governor Gabriel Singson and CB Director of [the] Security and before the investigators and who testified that it was the petitioner's report on
Transport Department Rogelio Navarette, and were one in saying that it was the June 9, 1982 that broke the case and resulted in the recovery of the substantial
report of herein petitioner to the authorities that broke the case on 9 June 1982 portion of the stolen money and the apprehension of the principal accused.
and resulted in the recovery of the substantial portion of the stolen money and
the arrest of all the principal accused. "4.15 On August 8, 1986, petitioner filed his Formal Offer of Exhibits. On
August 14, 1986, petitioner filed his Memorandum praying that judgment be
"4.5 On July 6, 1982, after preliminary investigation, the Tanodbayan rendered acquitting him of the offense charged.
(now Special Prosecutor) filed an Information for robbery with the
Sandiganbayan docketed as Crim. Case No. 6672 against two groups of "4.16 In a Resolution dated August 26, 1986, the Sandiganbayan, through
accused: Presiding Justice Francis E. Garchitorena (then newly appointed after the EDSA
revolution), admitted all the exhibits covered by said Formal Offer of Exhibits at
Principals: the same time, ordering the prosecution to file its Reply Memorandum,
thereafter the case was deemed submitted for decision.
(1) Modesto Licaros y Lacson, [P]rivate [I]ndividual
(2) Leo Flores y Manlangit, CB [S]ecurity [G]uard "4.17 On September 26, 1986, the prosecution filed its Reply
(3) Ramon Dolor y Ponce, CB Assistant Regional Cashier Memorandum. Petitioner also filed his Reply Memorandum on September 29,
(4) Glicerio Balansin y Elaurza, CB Security [G]uard 1986 praying that judgment be rendered acquitting him of the offense charged.
(5) Rolando Quejada y Redequillo, Private Individual
(6) Pio Edgardo Flores y Torres, Private Individual "4.18 In a Resolution dated October 8, 1986 copy of which was received
(7) Mario Lopez Vito y Dayungan, Private Individual by petitioner on October 15, 1986, the Sandiganbayan deferred the decision of
(8) Rogelio De la Cruz y Bodegon, Private Individual the case regarding herein petitioner 'until after the submission of the case for
decision with respect to the other accused.'
Accessory After the Fact:
"4.19 Petitioner filed his Motion for Reconsideration on October 16, 1986,
(1) Abelardo B. Licaros, Vice Chairman and Treasurer, Home Savings but the Sandiganbayan in a Resolution dated December 16, 1986 and
Bank and Trust Co. (HSBTC), Private Individual. promulgated on January 6, 1987 denied the same, the dispositive portion of
which read(s):
"The Tanodbayan did not adopt the recommendation of the NBI that Abelardo
B. Licaros be charged as principal apparently because no one of those whose 'IN VIEW OF THE FOREGOING, the Motion for Reconsideration filed by
statements were taken including the above principal accused ever testified that accused Abelardo B. Licaros is denied.
he participated in the planning or execution of the robbery so that he could be
held also in the conspiracy' as alleged by the NBI. 'The decision as to the accusation against him will be rendered together with the
accusation against the other accused without relating the evidence separately
"4.6 On November 26, 1982, the Tanodbayan filed an Amended presented at the separate proceeding held for the separate sets of accused one
Information naming the same persons as principals, except Rogelio dela Cruz way or the other.'
who is now charged as an accessory, together with private respondent Abelardo
B. Licaros. De la Cruz died on November 6, 1987 as per manifestation by his "4.20. As admitted by the prosecution in its Comment on the Omnibus
counsel dated and filed on November 17, 1987. Motion dated March 31, 2000, the 'case was submitted for decision on June 20,
1990.'
"4.7 On November 29, 1982, the accused were arraigned including
herein petitioner, who interposed the plea of not guilty. "4.21 As of this writing, and more than ten (10) years after the case was
submitted for decision, the Sandiganbayan has not rendered the Decision.
"4.8 On January 7, 1983, the Tanodbayan filed with the Sandiganbayan
a 'Motion for Discharge' of herein petitioner to be utilized as a state witness "4.22 The Sandiganbayan has not rendered the Decision even while the
which was granted in a Resolution dated February 11, 1983. The Supreme proceedings involving herein petitioner as an accessory in a separate trial were
Court, however, on petition for certiorari filed by accused Flores, Modesto terminated as early as October 8, 1986, while those against all the principal
Licaros and Lopez Vito, annulled the discharge because it ruled that the accused were deemed submit[t]ed for decision on June 20, 1990.
Sandiganbayan should have deferred its resolution on the motion to discharge
until after the prosecution has presented all its other evidence. "4.23 As early as October 16, 1986, herein petitioner already invoked his
constitutional right to speedy justice when he filed a Motion on said date praying
"4.9 At the close of its evidence, or on July 23, 1984, the prosecution for, among other things, that the Sandiganbayan reconsider its Resolution dated
filed a second motion for discharge of herein petitioner to be utilized as a state October 8, 1986 deferring the decision of the case against herein petitioner 'until
witness but the Sandiganbayan in a Resolution dated September 13, 1984 after the submission of the case for decision with respect to the other accused'
denied the Motion stating in part that the motion itself does not furnish any cue and that a judgment of acquittal be rendered.
or suggestion on what petitioner will testify in the event he is discharged and
placed on the stand as state witness. "4.24 The Honorable Sandiganbayan has not also rendered a resolution
on herein petitioner's Omnibus Motion to Dismiss filed on March 23, 2000 which
"4.10 Meanwhile, as of March 8, 1983, the prosecution has presented ten was deemed submitted for resolution on May 5, 2000, the last pleading having
(10) witnesses. Among those who testified were NBI Agents Victor Bessat and been filed on said date. In the said Omnibus Motion, petitioner prays for the
Apollo Sayo, who took and identified the sworn statements of accused Leo dismissal of the case insofar as it involves herein petitioner for violation of his
Flores, Ramon Dolor, Rogelio de la Cruz, Mario Lopez Vito and Modesto constitutional right to speedy disposition of the case. Sad to say, even this
Licaros; M/Sgt. Raynero Galarosa, who took and identified the sworn statement Motion to Dismiss has not been acted upon.
of accused Pio Flores and the sworn supplemental statement of accused
Glicerio Balansin; Sgt. Eliseo Rioveros, who took and identified the sworn
statement of accused Glicerus Balansin; and CIS Agent Maria Corazon
Page 28 of 34
"4.25 On 15 August 2000, herein petitioner filed his Motion to Resolve. Justice Francis E. Garchitorena's explanation (contained in his Comment) is
This was followed by Reiterative Motion for Early Resolution filed on September quoted in full hereunder:
21, 2000.
"1. The factual narrative by the petitioner in the instant matter is
"4.26 Notwithstanding the lapse of more than ten (10) years after the case substantially correct;
was deemed submitted for decision, the Sandiganbayan has not rendered the
Decision. Hence, this petition."4 "2. Indeed, originally petitioner Licaros had filed a Motion for Resolution
of his portion of the case after he submitted his evidence separately;
The Issues
"3. Eventually, the instant case was submitted for decision;
Petitioner interposes the following issues for the consideration of this Court:
"4. Indeed, it would have been ripe to resolve the instant case including
A that portion which pertained to petitioner Licaros;

"The unexplained failure of the SANDIGANBAYAN to render the decision for "5. The matter was duly assigned for drafting of the decision (not the
more than ten (10) years after the case was deemed submitted for Decision is undersigned).
tantamount to gross abuse of discretion, manifest injustice or palpable excess
of authority. "6. Sometime in 1995, a draft of the Decision was submitted for
consideration by the other justices of the Division;
B
"7. In the meantime, movements took place in the composition of the
"The unexplained failure of the SANDIGANBAYAN to render the Decision for justices who constituted the First Division later.
more than ten (10) years violated herein petitioner's constitutional right to due
process and to a speedy disposition of the case. "8. In 1997, the entire Court was re-organized with the addition of two
(2) new Divisions and six (6) new justices;
C
"9. At this time, the cases in the Sandiganbayan, whether in progress
"Recent Decisions of this Honorable Supreme Court mandate the immediate or submitted were re-distributed from the original Divisions to which they had
dismissal of the case against herein petitioner."5 been raffled to the new Divisions;

In brief, the main issue is whether petitioner's constitutional right to a speedy "10. The instant case remained with this Division;
disposition of his case has been violated. We shall also discuss, as a side issue,
the propriety of mandamus as a remedy under the circumstances in this case. "11. While the burden of each Division has considerably lightened, the
new justices had to undergo an orientation in this Court;
The Court's Ruling
"12. Not all cases were immediately re-assigned to the different
The Petition is meritorious.6 members. The instant case was one of them;

Main Issue: "13. Then, this Court relocated to its present premises which required not
The Right to a Speedy Disposition only packing and crating the records but the problem of not being able to unpack
them very easily due to the absence of an adequate number of shelves and
On June 20, 1990, Criminal Case No. 6672 was deemed submitted for the cabinets available;
decision of the Sandiganbayan. Since then, no action has been taken by the
anti-graft court. On March 23, 2000, petitioner filed an Omnibus Motion to "14. Due to the difficulty in funds, the Philippine Estate Authority which
Dismiss, grounded on the violation of his right to a speedy disposition. was supposed to have provided new furniture including shelves and cabinets
Unfortunately, even this Motion has not been ruled upon by public respondent. out of the payments made to it, was unable to do so;

Under Section 6 of PD 1606 amending PD 1486, the Sandiganbayan has only "15. To this date, the three original Divisions do not have all the needed
90 days to decide a case from the time it is deemed submitted for decision. shelves and many records remain in cardboard boxes both in chambers and in
Considering that the subject criminal case was submitted for decision as early the offices of the Division Clerk of Court. (In the library and in the Archives, the
as June 20, 1990, it is obvious that respondent court has failed to decide the boxes for books and old records remained unopened.);
case within the period prescribed by law. Even if we were to consider the period
provided under Section 15(1), Article III of the 1987 Constitution, which is 12 "16. In all this, the instant matter was one of those that got 'buried';
months from the submission of the case for decision, the Sandiganbayan would
still have miserably failed to perform its mandated duty to render a decision on "17. Significantly, when the records of this case were returned to the
the case within the period prescribed by law. Clearly then, the decision in this undersigned, the records of this case were not logged in the record book through
case is long overdue, and the period to decide the case under the law has long some oversight of his staff which the undersigned cannot explain so that it did
expired.7 not appear in the tracking process of the records of this office;

Even more important than the above periods within which the decision should "18. At this time, work is being done on the case for the preparation and
have been rendered is the right against an unreasonable delay in the disposition finalization of the decision which the undersigned has taken upon himself.
of one's case before any judicial, quasi-judicial or administrative body.8 This
constitutionally guaranteed right finds greater significance in a criminal case "19. Insofar as this Division is concerned, the responsibility for this
before a court of justice, where any delay in disposition may result in a denial of situation belongs exclusively to the undersigned, both in his capacity as
justice for the accused altogether. Indeed, the aphorism "justice delayed is chairman and as Presiding Justice;
justice denied" is by no means a trivial or meaningless concept that can be taken
for granted by those who are tasked with the dispensation of justice. "The undersigned respectfully reiterates: there is indeed fault and the fault is
exclusively that of the undersigned — for which the undersigned begs for the
Indubitably, there has been a transgression of the right of petitioner to a speedy kindness of this Honorable Court and humbly submits to its wisdom and
disposition of his case due to inaction on the part of the Sandiganbayan. Neither judgment."12
that court nor the special prosecutor contradicted his allegation of a ten-year
delay in the disposition of his case. The special prosecutor in its Comment9 Citing Tatad v. Sandiganbayan,13 Angchangco Jr. v. Ombudsman14 and
even openly admitted the date when the case had been deemed submitted for Roque v. Office of the Ombudsman,15 petitioner claims that he is entitled to a
decision, as well as respondent court's failure to act on it despite petitioner's dismissal of the criminal case against him. An unreasonable delay of three years
several Motions to resolve the case. The special prosecutor stated as follows: in the disposition of a case violates the accused's constitutional rights, as the
Court explained in Tatad v. Sandiganbayan:
"With the termination of presentation of evidence for the prosecution and the
principal accused in this case, the same was deemed submitted for decision on "Not only under the broad umbrella of the due process clause, but under the
June 20, 1990. constitutional guarantee of 'speedy disposition' of cases as embodied in Section
16 of the Bill of Rights (both in the 1973 and the 1987 Constitutions), the
"Alleging violation by respondent court of his right to speedy disposition of the inordinate delay is violative of the petitioner's constitutional rights. A delay of
case, petitioner on March 23, 2000 filed an Omnibus Motion to Dismiss. His close to three (3) years cannot be deemed reasonable or justifiable in the light
motion was deemed submitted for resolution by the respondent court on May 5, of the circumstance obtaining in the case at bar."16
2000.
Because of an inordinate delay of more than six years in the disposition of
"On August 15, 2000, petitioner filed before the respondent court a Motion to Angchangco Jr. v. Ombudsman, the High Court ordered its dismissal, as
Resolve and a month thereafter a Reiterative Motion for Early Resolution. No follows:
decision has yet been rendered by respondent court."10
"After a careful review of the facts and circumstances of the present case, the
For its part, the Sandiganbayan candidly admitted that the said criminal case Court finds the inordinate delay of more than six years by the Ombudsman in
had not been ruled upon all this time, because it "was one of those cases that resolving the criminal complaints against petitioner to be violative of his
got buried"11 in the archives during the reorganization in that court. Presiding constitutional guaranteed right to due process and to a speedy disposition of the

Page 29 of 34
cases against him, thus warranting the dismissal of said criminal cases pursuant "In the present case, there is no question that petitioner raised the violation
to the pronouncement of the Court in Tatad vs. Sandiganbayan . x x x "17 against his own right to speedy disposition only when respondent trial judge
reset the case for rehearing. It is fair to assume that he would have just
More recently, in Roque et. al. v. Office of the Ombudsman, the Court dismissed continued to sleep on his right — a situation amounting to laches — had the
the criminal cases against petitioner therein, on the following explanation: respondent judge not taken the initiative of determining the non-completion of
the records and of ordering the remedy precisely so he could dispose of the
"Clearly, the delay of almost six years disregarded the Ombudsman's duty, as case, The matter could have taken a different dimension if during all those ten
mandated by the Constitution and Republic Act No. 6770, to act promptly on years between 1979 when accused filed his memorandum and 1989 when the
complaints before him. More important, it violated the petitioners' rights to due case was reraffled, the accused showed signs of asserting his right which was
process and to a speedy disposition of cases filed against them. Although granted him in 1987 when the new constitution took effect, or at least made
respondents attempted to justify the six months needed by Ombudsman some overt act (like a motion for early disposition or a motion to compel the
Desierto to review the recommendation of Deputy Ombudsman Gervasio, no stenographer to transcribe the stenographic notes) that he was not waiving it.
explanation was given why it took almost six years for the latter to resolve the As it is, his, silence would have to be interpreted as a waiver of such right."24
Complaint."18
In the instant Petition, however, the accused had been assertively and
On the other hand, the special prosecutor contends that the above-cited rulings assiduously invoking his right to a speedy disposition even before the case was
of the Court should not apply to the present case, because what was involved submitted for decision on June 20, 1990.25 In fact, he has already filed an
in those cases was a delay on the part of the Office of the Ombudsman or the Omnibus Motion to Dismiss,26 a Motion to Resolve27 and a Reiterative Motion
Office of the Special Prosecutor (formerly Tanodbayan) with respect to the for Early Resolution,28 all of which have fallen on deaf ears in the
holding of a preliminary investigation. He argues that the case against herein Sandiganbayan. Thus, in the light of the foregoing circumstances, he cannot be
petitioner has already been proven by the ombudsman with the filing of the said to have slept on his rights, much less waived the assertion thereof. Quite
corresponding Information before respondent court. Moreover, the prosecution the contrary, he has been persistent in his demand for the eventual disposition
has already fully discharged its mandated duty to present evidence against the of the criminal case against him.
accused. In other words, the special prosecutor is of the view that the accused's
right to a speedy disposition of his case is not violated when the prosecution Indeed, petitioner has been kept in the dark as to the final outcome of the case,
aspect of the case has already been duly performed. which was deemed submitted for decision more than ten years ago. And though
such failure or inaction may not have been deliberately intended by respondent
We cannot accept the special prosecutor's limited and constrained interpretation court, its unjustified delay has nonetheless caused just as much vexation and
of the constitutionally enshrined right to a speedy disposition of cases. It must oppression, in violation of the right of petitioner to a speedy disposition of his
be understood that in the ordinary course of a criminal proceeding, a court is case. Hence, his reliance on the aforementioned cases for the dismissal of the
responsible for the ultimate disposition of the case. This is true irrespective of criminal case against him may be sustained, not so much on the basis of the
the prosecution's punctual performance of its duty. Hence, notwithstanding the right to a speedy trial, but on the right to a speedy disposition of his case, which
filing of the information, the presentation of evidence and the completion of the is of broader and more appropriate application under the circumstances.
trial proper, the eventual disposition of the case will still depend largely on the
timely rendition of judgment by a court. And where it does not act promptly on In Dela Peña v. Sandiganbayan,29 penned by Chief Justice Hilario G. Davide
the adjudication of a case before it and within the period prescribed by law, the Jr., the Court laid down certain guidelines to determine whether the right to a
accused's right to a speedy disposition of the case is just as much prejudiced speedy disposition has been violated, as follows:
as when the prosecution is prolonged or deferred indefinitely. Accordingly, with
all the more reason should the right to the speedy disposition of a case be "The concept of speedy disposition is relative or flexible. A mere mathematical
looked upon with care and caution when that case has already been submitted reckoning of the time involved is not sufficient. Particular regard must be taken
to the court for decision. of the facts and circumstances peculiar to each case. Hence, the doctrinal rule
is that in the determination of whether that right has been violated, the factors
In Abadia v. Court of Appeals,19 the Court had the occasion to rule on the nature that may be considered and balanced are as follows: (1) the length of the delay;
and the extent as well as the broader protection afforded by the constitutional (2) the reasons for the delay; (3) the assertion or failure to assert such right by
right to the speedy disposition of a case, as compared with the right to a speedy the accused; and (4) the prejudice caused by the delay."30
trial. Thus, it ratiocinated as follows:
As earlier discussed, more than ten years has lapsed since the subject case
"The Bill of Rights provisions of the 1987 Constitution were precisely crafted to has been deemed submitted for decision. The delay cannot at all be attributed
expand substantive fair trial rights and to protect citizens from procedural to petitioner, who has neither utilized dilatory tactics nor undertaken any
machinations which tend to nullify those rights. Moreover, Section 16, Article III procedural device to prolong the proceedings. As a matter of fact, he has been
of the Constitution extends the right to a speedy disposition of cases to cases continuously pushing for the resolution of his case even during the early stages
'before all judicial, quasi-judicial and administrative bodies.' This protection of the prosecution. Moreover, it is undeniable that such delay has caused much
extends to all citizens, x x x and covers the periods before, during and after the prejudice, distress and anxiety to herein petitioner, whose career as bank
trial, affording broader protection than Section 14(2) which guarantees merely executive and businessman has suffered the stigma of being shackled to an
the right to a speedy trial."20 (Emphasis supplied) unresolved criminal prosecution, virtually hanging like a Damocles' sword over
his head for more than a decade. We need not stress the consequences and
It has been held that a breach of the right of the accused to the speedy problems inherent in this pending litigation and/or criminal prosecution which
disposition of a case may have consequential effects, but it is not enough that include the prospects of unrealized business transactions, stagnant
there be some procrastination in the proceedings. In order to justify the professional growth, hampered travel opportunities and a besmirched
dismissal of a criminal case, it must be established that the proceedings have reputation. Furthermore, it is worth noting that petitioner has been charged
unquestionably been marred by vexatious, capricious and oppressive delays.21 merely as an accessory after the fact due to his being a senior executive of the
bank where the principal accused tried to deposit the stolen money. Clearly
In the case before us, the failure of the Sandiganbayan to decide the case even then, the dismissal sought by herein petitioner is justified under the
after the lapse of more than ten years after it was submitted for decision involves circumstances and in accordance with the guidelines set forth in the above-cited
more than just a mere procrastination in the proceedings. From the explanation case.
given by the Sandiganbayan, it appears that the case was kept in idle slumber,
allegedly due to reorganizations in the divisions and the lack of logistics and Procedural Issue:
facilities for case records. Had it not been for the filing of this Petition for Mandamus as an Appropriate Remedy
Mandamus, petitioner would not have seen any development in his case, much
less the eventual disposition thereof. The case remains unresolved up to now, Mandamus is a proper recourse for citizens who seek to enforce a public right
with only respondent court's assurance that at this time "work is being done on and to compel the performance of a public duty, most especially when mandated
the case for the preparation and finalization of the decision."22 by the Constitution.31 To reiterate, the right of the accused to the speedy
disposition of a case is a right guaranteed under the fundamental law.
In Guerrero v. Court of Appeals,23 the Court denied a Petition seeking to Correlatively, it is the bounden duty of a court, as mandated by the Constitution,
dismiss a criminal case grounded on an alleged violation of the accused's right to speedily dispose of the case before it. Thus, a party to a case may demand,
to a speedy disposition. However, the accused in the said case was deemed to as a matter mandated by the Constitution, expeditious action from all officials
have slept on his rights by not asserting them at the earliest possible who are tasked with the administration of justice.32
opportunity. The Court explained its ruling in this wise:
Ideally, a petition for mandamus lies to compel the performance of a ministerial
"In the case before us, the petitioner merely sat and waited after the case was but not of a discretionary duty.33 More specifically, persons or public officials
submitted for resolution in 1979. It was only in 1989 when the case below was may be directed to act with or to exercise discretion, but not as to how that
reraffled from the RTC of Caloocan City to the RTC of Navotas-Malabon and discretion should be exercised. However, our jurisprudence is replete with
only after respondent trial judge of the latter court ordered on March 14, 1990 exceptions in this matter. Thus, it has been held that in a case where there is
the parties to follow-up and complete the transcript of stenographic notes that "gross abuse of discretion, manifest injustice or palpable excess of authority,"
matters started to get moving towards a resolution of the case. More importantly, the writ may be issued to control precisely the exercise of such discretion.34
it was only after the new trial judge reset the retaking of the testimonies to
November 9, 1990 because of petitioner's absence during the original setting As discussed above, the Sandiganbayan's inordinate delay in deciding the
on October 24, 1990 that the accused suddenly became zealous of subject criminal case prejudiced the right of petitioner to a speedy disposition of
safeguarding his right to speedy trial and disposition. his case. Such undue delay can be characterized as no less than a grave abuse
of discretion, resulting in manifest injustice on the part of petitioner. In view of
xxx xxx xxx these circumstances, the case falls squarely into the established exception and
will justify this Court's action of substituting the discretion of respondent with that
of its own.
Page 30 of 34
As to the second ground, we find it raises arguments that have already been
In the very recent case Lopez Jr. v. Office of the Ombudsman et al.,35 the Court passed upon. Reconsideration on that ground may also be denied summarily.
deemed it appropriate to dismiss directly the criminal suit before the Nevertheless, we shall take time to explain why her motion must be set aside
Sandiganbayan in the interest of the speedy disposition thereof. Thus, it ruled for lack of merit, if only to clear any lingering doubt on the matter.
as follows:
Petitioner laments that although the complaint was filed with the Office of the
"x x x [T]his Court applying the ruling in the Roque case, citing Tatad, likewise Deputy Ombudsman for the Visayas as early as December 13, 1994, the
resolves to directly dismiss the informations already filed before the informations were filed with the Sandiganbayan only on August 1, 1997, and the
Sandiganbayan against petitioner 'in the interest of the speedy disposition of amended informations, on October 27, 1998. According to her, the delay of
case' " nearly three years to finish the preliminary investigation violated her
constitutional rights to due process and speedy disposition of cases. The
We find that the circumstances obtaining in the action cited above are similar to established facts of this case, however, show no such violation.
those in the instant Petition and thus warrant the same course of action; namely,
dismissal of the case against herein petitioner. However, no administrative The right to speedy disposition of cases, like the right to speedy trial, is violated
sanction against respondent court or its members can be meted out in the only when the proceedings are attended by vexatious, capricious and
present proceedings. Due process requires that before such penalty can be oppressive delays.4 In the determination of whether said right has been
imposed, the proper administrative proceedings must be conducted, as in fact violated, particular regard must be taken of the facts and circumstances peculiar
one is already being undertaken in AM No. 00-8-05-SC entitled "Re: Problem of to each case.5 The conduct of both the prosecution and the defendant, the
Delays in Cases Before the Sandiganbayan." length of the delay, the reasons for such delay, the assertion or failure to assert
such right by the accused, and the prejudice caused by the delay are the factors
Epilogue to consider and balance.6 A mere mathematical reckoning of time involved
would not be sufficient.7
In sum, we hold that the dismissal of the criminal case against petitioner for
violation of his right to a speedy disposition of his case is justified by the In this case, the Graft Investigation Officer released his resolution finding
following circumstances: (1) the 10-year delay in the resolution of the case is probable cause against petitioner on August 16, 1995, less than six months from
inordinately long; (2) petitioner has suffered vexation and oppression by reason the time petitioner and her co-accused submitted their counter-affidavits. On
of this long delay; (3) he did not sleep on his right and has in fact consistently October 30, 1995, only two and a half months later, Ombudsman Aniano
asserted it, (4) he has not contributed in any manner to the long delay in the Desierto had reviewed the case and had approved the resolution. Contrary to
resolution of his case, (5) he did not employ any procedural dilatory strategies petitioner’s contention, the lapse of only ten months from the filing of the
during the trial or raised on appeal or certiorari any issue to delay the case, (6) complaint on December 13, 1994, to the approval of the resolution on October
the Sandiganbayan did not give any valid reason to justify the inordinate delay 30, 1995, is by no means oppressive. "Speedy disposition of cases" is
and even admitted that the case was one of those that got "buried" during its consistent with reasonable delays. 8 The Court takes judicial notice of the fact
reorganization, and (7) petitioner was merely charged as an accessory after the that the nature of the Office of the Ombudsman encourages individuals who
fact. clamor for efficient government service to lodge freely their complaints against
alleged wrongdoing of government personnel.9 A steady stream of cases
For too long, petitioner has suffered in agonizing anticipation while awaiting the reaching the Ombudsman inevitably results.10 Naturally, disposition of those
ultimate resolution of his case. The inordinate and unreasonable delay is cases would take some time. Moreover, petitioner herself had contributed to the
completely attributable to the Sandiganbayan. No fault whatsoever can be alleged delay when she asked for extension of time to file her counter-affidavit.
ascribed to petitioner or his lawyer. It is now time to enforce his constitutional
right to speedy disposition and to grant him speedy justice. That the informations were filed only on August 1, 1997, also did not violate
petitioner’s constitutional rights. The delay was not without valid reasons. The
WHEREFORE, the Petition is hereby GRANTED and, as against petitioner, Special Prosecutor in charge of preparing the informations felt a genuine need
Criminal Case No. 6672 pending before the Sandiganbayan is DISMISSED. No to specify in the informations (1) the value of the five drums of fuel petitioner
costs. received as gift in violation of the anti-graft law and (2) the amount of the
subsistence allowance of heavy-equipment operators that the municipality of
SO ORDERED. Laoang, Northern Samar, paid for when petitioner used heavy equipment rented
by the municipality to develop her private property. The recommendation to
Davide, Jr., C .J ., Bellosillo, Melo, Puno, Vitug, Kapunan, Mendoza, specify these two amounts then had to undergo levels of review and was
Quisumbing, Pardo, Buena, Ynares-Santiago, De Leon Jr., Sandoval-Gutierrez, approved by Ombudsman Desierto only on January 29, 1996. Unfortunately,
and Carpio, JJ ., concur. the needed information was not in the records, so the Deputy Special
Prosecutor sought it from the Office of the Deputy Ombudsman for the Visayas.
As that office also did not possess the needed information, it issued an Order
on June 10, 1996, directing petitioner to supply the needed information.
Republic of the Philippines
SUPREME COURT When petitioner received a copy of the Order, however, she sought additional
Manila time to comply with the Order. She waited for two months before filing on August
SPECIAL SECOND DIVISION 23, 1996, a verified statement supplying none of the information required of her.
She claimed that the five drums of fuel were merely donated to her and that she
G.R. Nos. 146368-69 October 18, 2004 did not know their value. She also alleged that it was she and her husband, and
not the government, who spent for the subsistence allowance of the heavy-
MADELEINE MENDOZA-ONG, petitioner, equipment operator in the development of her private property. She did not
vs. object to the delay in the termination of the proceedings against her, nor did she
HON. SANDIGANBAYAN and PEOPLE OF THE PHILIPPINES, seek at that time to expedite its resolution.
respondents.
Petitioner’s refusal to supply the information prompted the handling investigator
RESOLUTION at the Office of the Deputy Ombudsman for the Visayas to recommend on
August 28, 1996, that the price of the five drums of fuel be estimated instead.
QUISUMBING, J.: Notably, the Office of the Special Prosecutor could have filed the informations
then, but petitioner had filed with the said office a motion for reassessment of
In this Motion for Reconsideration,1 petitioner Madeleine Mendoza-Ong seeks evidence on June 25, 1996, and a supplemental motion on August 20, 1996.
a reversal of this Court’s October 23, 2003, Resolution dismissing her petition These motions, which incidentally also failed to raise the issue of delay,
for certiorari and upholding the Sandiganbayan’s denial of her motion to quash. effectively suspended the filing of the informations.
She contends that the Court erred in:
Subsequently, the case had to be reassigned to another Special Prosecutor
I because the original handling prosecutor was appointed Resident Ombudsman
for the Bureau of Internal Revenue. Petitioner’s motion for reassessment was
…holding that the information filed against [her] in Criminal Case No. 23848 has resolved only on June 27, 1997. The resolution again went up for further review.
alleged the essential ingredients of the offense charged [and in]
Considering the number of times that the case had to be reviewed, the levels of
II review that the case had to undergo, and petitioner’s own motions for additional
time, the period that lapsed -- roughly two years and five months (from the time
…failing to resolve the fundamental issue of whether the excessive or inordinate petitioner and her co-accused submitted their counter-affidavits on March 29,
delay in the conduct of the preliminary investigation and filing of the informations 1995, to the time the informations were filed on August 1, 1997) to terminate the
after three (3) years had deprived [her] of her Constitutional and statutory right proceedings against petitioner -- could not be considered vexatious, capricious,
to due process and speedy determinations and disposition of the cases against and oppressive delay. They were necessitated by exigency of the actions taken
her warranting dismissal thereof.2 on the case. The period to terminate the proceedings, in our view, had not
violated petitioner’s constitutionally guaranteed rights to due process and to a
Concerning the first ground abovecited, the Court notes that the motion contains speedy disposition of cases.11
merely a reiteration or rehash of arguments already submitted to the Court and
found to be without merit. Petitioner fails to raise any new and substantial Neither could the delay be said to have been prejudicial to her considering that
arguments, and no cogent reason exists to warrant a reconsideration of the she herself is guilty of delay.12 The Court has held that if the long delay in the
Court’s Resolution. It would be a useless ritual for the Court to reiterate itself.3 termination of the preliminary investigation was not solely the prosecution’s
fault, but was also due to incidents attributable to the accused and his counsel,
Page 31 of 34
the right of the accused to speedy disposition of cases is not violated.13
Petitioner cannot now seek the protection of the law to benefit from what she Coscolluela served as governor of the Province of Negros Occidental (Province)
now considers the adverse effects of her own conduct in this case. for three (3) full terms which ended on June 30, 2001. During his tenure,
Nacionales served as his Special Projects Division Head, Amugod as
Petitioner’s reliance on the doctrines in Tatad v. Sandiganbayan,14 Duterte v. Nacionales’ subordinate, and Malvas as Provincial Health Officer.5
Sandiganbayan,15 and Angchangco, Jr. v. Ombudsman16 is misplaced.
On November 9, 2001, the Office of the Ombudsman for the Visayas (Office of
In Tatad v. Sandiganbayan, the cases against petitioner remained dormant for the Ombudsman) received a letter-complaint6 dated November 7, 2001 from
almost three years. In ruling that the long delay violated not only Tatad’s People’s Graftwatch, requesting for assistance to investigate the anomalous
constitutional right to due process but also his right to speedy disposition of the purchase of medical and agricultural equipment for the Province in the amount
cases against him, the Court considered three factors. First, political motivation of ₱20,000,000.00 which allegedly happened around a month before
played a vital role in activating and propelling the prosecutorial process. Second, Coscolluela stepped down from office.
there was a blatant departure from established procedures prescribed by law
for the conduct of a preliminary investigation. And third, the long delay in Acting on the letter-complaint, the Case Building Team of the Office of the
resolving the preliminary investigation could not be justified on the basis of the Ombudsman conducted its investigation, resulting in the issuance of a Final
records.17 Evaluation Report7 dated April 16, 2002 which upgraded the complaint into a
criminal case against petitioners.8 Consequently, petitioners filed their
Worth noting, in Duterte v. Sandiganbayan, petitioners were denied the right to respective counter-affidavits.9
a preliminary investigation altogether. They were not served copies of the
complaint-affidavits and were not given the chance to file counter-affidavits. The On March 27, 2003, the assigned Graft Investigation Officer Butch E. Cañares
Graft Investigator merely required them to comment on a civil complaint against (Cañares) prepared a Resolution (March 27, 2003 Resolution), finding probable
them and on a Special Audit Report of the Commission on Audit, both of which cause against petitioners for violation of Section 3(e) of Republic Act No. (RA)
were not equivalent to the complaint-affidavits required by the applicable 3019, otherwise known as the "Anti-Graft and Corrupt Practices Act," and
administrative rules. In fact, the petitioners were unaware and were never recommended the filing of the corresponding information. On even date, the
informed that a preliminary investigation was being conducted against them. Information10 was prepared and signed by Cañares and submitted to Deputy
The recommendations in the COA Special Audit Report were already accepted Ombudsman for the Visayas Primo C. Miro (Miro) for recommendation. Miro
even before the report came out, and the civil complaint had already long been recommended the approval of the Information on June 5, 2003. However, the
dismissed before the Graft Investigator required petitioner’s comment on it. final approval of Acting Ombudsman Orlando C. Casimiro (Casimiro), came only
on May 21, 2009, and on June 19, 2009, the Information was filed before the
Additionally, in Duterte, although the petitioners had filed the manifestation in SB.
lieu of the required comment on February 18, 1992, it was only on February 22,
1996, or four years later, that they received the resolution recommending the Petitioners alleged that they learned about the March 27, 2003 Resolution and
filing of informations against them. Then, also, informations were filed against Information only when they received a copy of the latter shortly after its filing
petitioners in that case even in the absence of sufficient ground to hold them with the SB.11
liable for the crime charged.
On July 9, 2009, Coscolluela filed a Motion to Quash,12 arguing, among others,
In Angchangco, Jr. v. Ombudsman, the delay lasted for six years despite the that his constitutional right to speedy disposition of cases was violated as the
fact that Angchangco, Jr., had filed several omnibus motions for early resolution. criminal charges against him were resolved only after almost eight (8) years
Angchangco, Jr., even filed a motion to dismiss. Sadly, however, the Office of since the complaint was instituted. Nacionales, Malvas, and Amugod later
the Ombudsman failed to act on said motion.18 adopted Coscolluela’s motion.

Unlike in the Tatad, Duterte, and Angchangco, Jr., cases where the delays were In reply, the respondents filed their Opposition to Motion to Quash13 dated
manifestly oppressive, the facts of this case do not evince vexatious, capricious August 7, 2009, explaining that although the Information was originally dated
and oppressive delay in the conduct of the preliminary investigation. There March 27, 2003, it still had to go through careful review and revision before its
appears, therefore, no persuasive much less compelling reason to grant in this final approval. It also pointed out that petitioners never raised any objections
case the same radical relief granted in those three cases that petitioner cited.19 regarding the purported delay in the proceedings during the interim.14

WHEREFORE, petitioner’s Motion for Reconsideration is hereby DENIED for The Ruling of the Sandiganbayan
lack of merit.
In a Resolution15 dated October 6, 2009, the SB denied petitioners’ Motion to
SO ORDERED. Quash for lack of merit. It held that the preliminary investigation against
petitioners was actually resolved by Cañares on March 27, 2003, one (1) year
Austria-Martinez, Callejo, Sr., Azcuna*, and Tinga, JJ., concur. and four (4) months from the date the complaint was filed, or in November 9,
2001. Complying with internal procedure, Cañares then prepared the March 27,
2003 Resolution and Information for the recommendation of the Miro and
eventually, the final approval of the Casimiro. As these issuances had to
Republic of the Philippines undergo careful review and revision through the various levels of the said office,
SUPREME COURT the period of delay – i.e., from March 27, 2003 to May 21, 2009, or roughly over
Manila six (6) years – cannot be deemed as inordinate16 and as such, petitioners’
constitutional right to speedy disposition of cases was not violated.17
SECOND DIVISION
Aggrieved, petitioners filed their respective Motions for Reconsideration18
G.R. No. 191411 July 15, 2013 dated November 9, 2009 and November 6, 2009, similarly arguing that the SB
erred in making a distinction between two time periods, namely: (a) from the
RAFAEL L. COSCOLLUELA, Petitioner, filing of the complaint up to the time Cañares prepared the resolution finding
vs. probable cause against petitioners; and (b) from the submission of the said
SANBIGANBAYAN (FIRST DIVISION) and PEOPLE OF THE PHILIPPINES, resolution to the Acting Ombudsman for review and approval up to the filing of
Respondents. the Information with the SB. In this regard, petitioners averred that the
aforementioned periods should not be compartmentalized and thus, treated as
x-----------------------x a single period. Accordingly, the delay of eight (8) years of the instant case
should be deemed prejudicial to their right to speedy disposition of cases.19
G.R. No. 191871
The SB, however, denied the foregoing motions in its Resolution20 dated
EDWIN N. NACIONALES, ERNESTO P. MALVAS, and JOSE MA. G. February 10, 2010 for lack of merit.
AMUGOD, Petitioners,
vs. Hence, the instant petitions.
SANDIGANBAYAN (FIRST DIVISION) and PEOPLE OF THE PHILIPPINES,
represented by the OFFICE OF THE SPECIAL PROSECUTOR, OFFICE OF The Issue Before the Court
THE OMBUDSMAN, Respondents.
The sole issue raised for the Court’s resolution is whether the SB gravely
DECISION abused its discretion in finding that petitioners’ right to speedy disposition of
cases was not violated.
PERLAS-BERNABE, J.:
The Court’s Ruling
Assailed in these consolidated Petitions for Certiorari1 are the October 6, 20092
and February 10, 20103 Resolutions of public respondent First Division of The petitions are meritorious.
Sandiganbayan (SB), denying the Motion to Quash4 dated July 8, 2009 filed by
petitioner Rafael L. Coscolluela (Coscolluela). The said motion was adopted by A person’s right to the speedy disposition of his case is guaranteed under
petitioners Edwin N. Nacionales (Nacionales), Dr. Ernesto P. Malvas (Malvas), Section 16, Article III of the 1987 Philippine Constitution (Constitution) which
and Jose Ma. G. Amugod (Amugod), praying for the dismissal of Crim. Case provides:
No. SB-09-CRM-0154 for violation of their right to speedy disposition of cases.
SEC. 16. All persons shall have the right to a speedy disposition of their cases
The Facts before all judicial, quasi-judicial, or administrative bodies.
Page 32 of 34
them have already been terminated. This serves as a plausible reason as to
This constitutional right is not limited to the accused in criminal proceedings but why petitioners never followed-up on the case altogether. Instructive on this
extends to all parties in all cases, be it civil or administrative in nature, as well point is the Court’s observation in Duterte v. Sandiganbayan,27 to wit:
as all proceedings, either judicial or quasi-judicial. In this accord, any party to a
case may demand expeditious action to all officials who are tasked with the Petitioners in this case, however, could not have urged the speedy resolution of
administration of justice.21 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
It must be noted, however, that the right to speedy disposition of cases should petitioners were merely asked to comment, and not file counter-affidavits which
be understood to be a relative or flexible concept such that a mere mathematical is the proper procedure to follow in a preliminary investigation. After giving their
reckoning of the time involved would not be sufficient.22 Jurisprudence dictates explanation and after four long years of being in the dark, petitioners, naturally,
that the right is deemed violated only when the proceedings are attended by had reason to assume that the charges against them had already been
vexatious, capricious, and oppressive delays; or when unjustified dismissed.
postponements of the trial are asked for and secured; or even without cause or
justifiable motive, a long period of time is allowed to elapse without the party On the other hand, the Office of the Ombudsman failed to present any plausible,
having his case tried.23 special or even novel reason which could justify the four-year delay in
terminating its investigation. Its excuse for the delay — the many layers of
Hence, in the determination of whether the defendant has been denied his right review that the case had to undergo and the meticulous scrutiny it had to entail
to a speedy disposition of a case, the following factors may be considered and — has lost its novelty and is no longer appealing, as was the invocation in the
balanced: (1) the length of delay; (2) the reasons for the delay; (3) the assertion Tatad case. The incident before us does not involve complicated factual and
or failure to assert such right by the accused; and (4) the prejudice caused by legal issues, specially (sic) in view of the fact that the subject computerization
the delay.24 contract had been mutually cancelled by the parties thereto even before the
Anti-Graft League filed its complaint. (Emphasis and underscoring supplied)
Examining the incidents in the present case, the Court holds that petitioners’
right to a speedy disposition of their criminal case had been violated. 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
First, it is observed that the preliminary investigation proceedings took a was the Office of the Ombudsman’s responsibility to expedite the same within
protracted amount of time to complete. 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:28
In this relation, the Court does not lend credence to the SB’s position that the
conduct of preliminary investigation was terminated as early as March 27, 2003, A defendant has no duty to bring himself to trial; the State has that duty as well
or the time when Cañares prepared the Resolution recommending the filing of as the duty of insuring that the trial is consistent with due process.
the Information. This is belied by Section 4,
Fourth, the Court finally recognizes the prejudice caused to the petitioners by
Rule II of the Administrative Order No. 07 dated April 10, 1990, otherwise known the lengthy delay in the proceedings against them.
as the "Rules of Procedure of the Office of the Ombudsman," which provides:
Lest it be misunderstood, the right to speedy disposition of cases is not merely
SEC. 4. Procedure – The preliminary investigation of cases falling under the hinged towards the objective of spurring dispatch in the administration of justice
jurisdiction of the Sandiganbayan and Regional Trial Courts shall be conducted but also to prevent the oppression of the citizen by holding a criminal
in the manner prescribed in Section 3, Rule 112 of the Rules of Court, subject prosecution suspended over him for an indefinite time. Akin to the right to
to the following provisions: speedy trial, its "salutary objective" is to assure that an innocent person may be
free from the anxiety and expense of litigation or, if otherwise, of having his guilt
xxxx determined within the shortest possible time compatible with the presentation
and consideration of whatsoever legitimate defense he may interpose.30 This
No information may be filed and no complaint may be dismissed without the looming unrest as well as the tactical disadvantages carried by the passage of
written authority or approval of the Ombudsman in cases falling within the time should be weighed against the State and in favor of the individual. In the
jurisdiction of the Sandiganbayan, or of the proper Deputy Ombudsman in all context of the right to a speedy trial, the Court in Corpuz v. Sandiganbayan31
other cases. (Emphasis and underscoring supplied) (Corpuz) illumined:

The above-cited provision readily reveals that there is no complete resolution of A balancing test of applying societal interests and the rights of the accused
a case under preliminary investigation until the Ombudsman approves the necessarily compels the court to approach speedy trial cases on an ad hoc
investigating officer’s recommendation to either file an Information with the SB basis.
or to dismiss the complaint. Therefore, in the case at bar, the preliminary
investigation proceedings against the petitioners were not terminated upon x x x Prejudice should be assessed in the light of the interest of the defendant
Cañares’ preparation of the March 27, 2003 Resolution and Information but that the speedy trial was designed to protect, namely: to prevent oppressive pre-
rather, only at the time Casimiro finally approved the same for filing with the SB. trial incarceration; to minimize anxiety and concerns of the accused to trial; and
In this regard, the proceedings were terminated only on May 21, 2009, or almost to limit the possibility that his defense will be impaired. Of these, the most
eight (8) years after the filing of the complaint. 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
Second, the above-discussed delay in the Ombudsman’s resolution of the case defense witnesses are unable to recall accurately the events of the distant past.
largely remains unjustified. 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
To this end, the Court equally denies the SB’s ratiocination that the delay in often, hostility. His financial resources may be drained, his association is
proceedings could be excused by the fact that the case had to undergo careful curtailed, and he is subjected to public obloquy.
review and revision through the different levels in the Office of the Ombudsman
before it is finally approved, in addition to the steady stream of cases which it Delay is a two-edge sword. It is the government that bears the burden of proving
had to resolve. 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
Verily, the Office of the Ombudsman was created under the mantle of the Rules do not require impossibilities or extraordinary efforts, diligence or exertion
Constitution, mandated to be the "protector of the people" and as such, required from courts or the prosecutor, nor contemplate that such right shall deprive the
to "act promptly on complaints filed in any form or manner against officers and State of a reasonable opportunity of fairly prosecuting criminals. As held in
employees of the Government, or of any subdivision, agency or instrumentality Williams v. United States, for the government to sustain its right to try the
thereof, in order to promote efficient service."25 This great responsibility cannot accused despite a delay, it must show two things: (a) that the accused suffered
be simply brushed aside by ineptitude. Precisely, the Office of the Ombudsman no serious prejudice beyond that which ensued from the ordinary and inevitable
has the inherent duty not only to carefully go through the particulars of case but delay; and (b) that there was no more delay than is reasonably attributable to
also to resolve the same within the proper length of time. Its dutiful performance the ordinary processes of justice.
should not only be gauged by the quality of the assessment but also by the
reasonable promptness of its dispensation. Thus, barring any extraordinary Closely related to the length of delay is the reason or justification of the State
complication, such as the degree of difficulty of the questions involved in the for such delay. Different weights should be assigned to different reasons or
case or any event external thereto that effectively stymied its normal work justifications invoked by the State. For instance, a deliberate attempt to delay
activity – any of which have not been adequately proven by the prosecution in the trial in order to hamper or prejudice the defense should be weighted heavily
the case at bar – there appears to be no justifiable basis as to why the Office of against the State. Also, it is improper for the prosecutor to intentionally delay to
the Ombudsman could not have earlier resolved the preliminary investigation gain some tactical advantage over the defendant or to harass or prejudice him.
proceedings against the petitioners. On the other hand, the heavy case load of the prosecution or a missing witness
should be weighted less heavily against the State. x x x (Emphasis and
Third, the Court deems that petitioners cannot be faulted for their alleged failure underscoring supplied; citations omitted)
to assert their right to speedy disposition of cases.
As the right to a speedy disposition of cases encompasses the broader purview
Records show that they could not have urged the speedy resolution of their case of the entire proceedings of which trial proper is but a stage, the above-
because they were unaware that the investigation against them was still on- discussed effects in Corpuz should equally apply to the case at bar. As held in
going. They were only informed of the March 27, 2003 Resolution and Dansal v. Fernandez, Sr.:32
Information against them only after the lapse of six (6) long years, or when they
received a copy of the latter after its filing with the SB on June 19, 2009.26 In Sec. 16, Article III of the 1987 Constitution, reads:
this regard, they could have reasonably assumed that the proceedings against
Page 33 of 34
"Sec. 16. All persons shall have the right to a speedy disposition of their cases
before all judicial, quasi-judicial, or administrative bodies."

Initially embodied in Section 16, Article IV of the 1973 Constitution, the aforesaid
constitutional provision is one of three provisions mandating speedier
dispensation of justice. It guarantees the right of all persons to "a speedy
disposition of their case"; includes within its contemplation the periods before,
during and after trial, and affords broader protection than Section 14(2), which
guarantees just the right to a speedy trial. It is more embracing than the
protection under Article VII, Section 15, which covers only the period after the
submission of the case. The present constitutional provision applies to civil,
criminal and administrative cases. (Emphasis and underscoring supplied;
citations omitted)

Thus, in view of the unjustified length of time miring the Office of the
Ombudsman’s resolution of the case as well as the concomitant prejudice that
the delay in this case has caused, it is undeniable that petitioners’ constitutional
right to due process and speedy disposition of cases had been violated. As the
institutional vanguard against corruption and bureaucracy, the Office of the
Ombudsman should create a system of accountability in order to ensure that
cases before it are resolved with reasonable dispatch and to equally expose
those who are responsible for its delays, as it ought to determine in this case.

Corollarily, for the SB’s patent and utter disregard of the existing laws and
jurisprudence surrounding the matter, the Court finds that it gravely abused its
discretion when it denied the quashal of the Information. Perforce, the assailed
resolutions must be set aside and the criminal case against petitioners be
dismissed.

While the foregoing pronouncement should, as matter of course, result in the


acquittal of the petitioners, it does not necessarily follow that petitioners are
entirely exculpated from any civil liability, assuming that the same is proven in a
subsequent case which the Province may opt to pursue.

Section 2, Rule 111 of the Rules of Court provides that an acquittal in a criminal
case does not bar the private offended party from pursuing a subsequent civil
case based on the delict, unless the judgment of acquittal explicitly declares that
the act or omission from which the civil liability may arise did not exist.33 As
explained in the case of Abejuela v. People,34 citing Banal v. Tadeo, Jr.:35

The Rules provide: "The extinction of the penal action does not carry with it
extinction of the civil, unless the extinction proceeds from a declaration in a final
judgment that the fact from which the civil might arise did not exist. In other
cases, the person entitled to the civil action may institute it in the jurisdiction and
in the manner provided by law against the person who may be liable for
restitution of the thing and reparation or indemnity for the damage suffered."

xxxx

In Banal vs. Tadeo, Jr., we declared:

"While an act or omission is felonious because it is punishable by law, it gives


rise to civil liability not so much because it is a crime but because it caused
damage to another. Viewing things pragmatically, we can readily see that what
gives rise to the civil liability is really the obligation and moral duty of everyone
to repair or make whole the damage caused to another by reason of his own act
or omission, done intentionally or negligently, whether or not the same be
punishable by law."(Emphasis and underscoring supplied)

Based on the violation of petitioners’ right to speedy disposition of cases as


herein discussed, the present case stands to be dismissed even before either
the prosecution or the defense has been given the chance to present any
evidence. Thus, the Court is unable to make a definite pronouncement as to
whether petitioners indeed committed the acts or omissions from which any civil
liability on their part might arise as prescribed under Section 2, Rule 120 of the
Rules of Court.36 Consequently, absent this pronouncement, the Province is
not precluded from instituting a subsequent civil case based on the delict if only
to recover the amount of ₱20,000,000.00 in public funds attributable to
petitioners’ alleged malfeasance.

WHEREFORE, the petitions are hereby GRANTED. The assailed Resolutions


dated October 6, 2009 and February 10, 2010 of the First Division of the
Sandiganbayan are ANNULLED and SET ASIDE. The Sandiganbayan is
likewise ordered to DISMISS Crim. Case No. SB-09-CRM-0154 for violation of
the Constitutional right to speedy disposition of cases of petitioners Rafael L.
Coscolluela, Edwin N. Nacionales, Dr. Ernesto P. Malvas, and Jose Ma. G.
Amugod, without prejudice to any civil action which the Province of Negros
Occidental may file against petitioners.

SO ORDERED.

ESTELA M. PERLAS-BERNABE
Associate Justice

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