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Digest Author: ELAINE Viktoria Dayanghirang

SERANA vs SANDIGANBAYAN

Petition: Petition for review on Certiorari of the Resolutions of Sandiganbayan


Petitioner: Hannah Eunice Serana
Respondent: SANDIGANBAYAN
Ponente: Reyes
Date: January 22, 2008

DOCTRINE: Board of Regents performs functions similar to the Board of Trustees of a non-
stock corporation. Hence, an official of such corporation is a public official to which the
Sandiganbayan has jurisdiction, regardless of her salary grade. In addition, petitioner is a public
officer because she is vested with some portion of sovereign function of the government, to be
exercised by her for the benefit of the public.

FACTS

Hannah Eunice Serana, a senior student of the University of the Philippines – Cebu, was
appointed as a student regent in UP Diliman for a one-year term starting January 1, 2000 to
December 21, 2000 by former President Joseph Estrada. As a student regent, she registered with
the Securities and Exchange Commission the OSFRI (Office of the Student Registration
Foundation, Inc.). She proposed a renovation of the Vinzons Hall in UP Diliman. Former
President Estrada released Php 15, 000, 000 for the project, however the project never
materialized. And so, the succeeding student regent, Kristine Bugayong, and Christine de
Guzman, Secretary-General of KASAMA sa U.P., filed a complaint for Malversation of Public
Funds and Property with the Office of the Ombudsman. The Ombudsman found probable cause
to indict the petitioner and her brother for estafa, docketed as Criminal Case in the
Sandiganbayan. The information in the Criminal Case are as follows: that Hannah Serana, a
high-ranking public officer, being then the Student Regent of UPD, while in the performance of
her official functions, committing an offense in relation to her office, unlawfully defrauded the
government by misappropriating for personal use the Php 15,000,000 given by former President
Estrada. The petitioner contend that she is not a public officer with Salary Grade 27, and
therefore, the Sandiganbayan does not have jurisdiction over her person. She contends that she is
not a public officer, as she does not receive any salary as a student regent and that she pays her
tuition fee.

ISSUES:

1. W/N the petitioner is a public officer performing governmental functions


2. W/N she committed an offense in relation to her office
Digest Author: ELAINE Viktoria Dayanghirang

RULING:

1. YES. Petitioner is a public officer. A UP Student Regent is a public officer. The


administration of UP is a sovereign function in line with Article XIV of the 1987
Constitution. UP performs a legitimate governmental function by providing advanced
instruction. Further, UP is maintained by the government and it declares no dividends and
is not a corporation created for profit. Hence, Sandiganbayan has jurisdiction over
Serana’s case.

2. YES. While in the performance of her official functions, she conspired with her brother,
and willfully, unlawfully, and feloniously defrauded the government.

Petition is DENIED for lack of merit.