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A. VENUE IN CRIMINAL CASES IS JURSIDICTIONAL 1. G.R. No. 170298 June 26, 2007 MANUEL S. ISIP, petitioner, vs. PEOPLE OF THE PHILIPPINES, respondent. DECISION CHICO-NAZARIO, J.: Before us is a Petition for Review on Certiorari under Rule 45 of the Rules of Court, which seeks to set aside the Decision1 of the Court of Appeals dated 26 October 2004 in CA-G.R. CR No. 21275 entitled, "People of the Philippines v. Manuel S. Isip and Marietta M. Isip" to the extent that it affirmed with modifications petitioner Manuel S. Isips conviction for Estafa in Criminal Case No. 136-84 of the Regional Trial Court (RTC), Branch XVII, Cavite City, and its Amended Decision2 dated 26 October 2005 denying his Partial Motion for Reconsideration. The antecedents are the following: Petitioner was charged with Estafa in Criminal Case No. 136-84 before Branch XVII of the RTC of Cavite City, under the following information: That on or about March 7, 1984, in the City of Cavite, Republic of the Philippines and within the jurisdiction of this Honorable Court, the above-named accused, received from Leonardo A. Jose one (1) seven carat diamond (mens ring), valued at P200,000.00, for the purpose of selling the same on commission basis and to deliver the proceeds of the sale thereof or return the jewelry if not sold, on or before March 15, 1984, but the herein accused once in possession of the above-described articles, with intent to defraud and with grave abuse of confidence, did, then and there, willfully, unlawfully and feloniously misappropriate, misapply and convert the same to his own personal use and benefit and notwithstanding repeated demands made by Leonardo A. Jose for the return of the jewelry or the delivery of the proceeds of the sale thereof, failed to do so, to the damage and prejudice of the aforesaid Leonardo A. Jose in the abovestated amount of P200,000.00, Philippine Currency.3 Petitioners wife, Marietta M. Isip, was indicted before the same court for seven counts of Viola tion of Batas Pambansa Blg. 22, otherwise known as the Bouncing Checks Law. The cases were docketed as Criminal Cases No. 146-84, 147-84, 148-84, 149-84, 155-84, 156-84 and 157-84. The accusatory portion of the information in Criminal Case No. 146-84 reads: That on or about March 27, 1984, in the City of Cavite, Republic of the Philippines and within the jurisdiction of this Honorable Court, the above-named accused, knowing fully well that her account with the bank is insufficient, did, then and there, willfully, unlawfully, feloniously and knowingly issue Pacific Banking Corporation Check No. 518672 in the amount of P562,000.00, in payment for assorted pieces of jewelry, received from Leonardo A. Jose, which check upon presentation with the drawee bank for payment was dishonored for insufficiency of funds and notwithstanding repeated demands made by Leonardo A. Jose for the redemption of the said check, accused refused and still refuses to do so, to the damage and prejudice of the aforesaid Leonardo A. Jose in the above-stated amount of P562,000.00, Philippine Currency.4 The six other Informations are similarly worded except for the date when the offense was committed, the number and amount of the check. The pertinent data in the other informations are as follows: Crim. Case No. 147-84 148-84 149-84 Date of Commission 17 March 1984 30 March 1984 12 March 1984 No. of Check 518644 518645 0300865 Amount of Check P50,000.00 P50,000.00 P150,000.00

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155-84 156-84 157-84 25 March 1984 29 March 1984 1 April 1984 518674 518646 518669 P95,000.00 P90,000.00 P25,000.00

The spouses Isip were likewise charged before the same court with five (5) counts of Estafa. The cases were docketed as Criminal Cases No. 256-84, 257-84, 260-84, 261-84 and 378-84. The Estafa charged in Crim. Case No. 256-84 was allegedly committed as follows: That on or about March 20, 1984, in the City of Cavite, Republic of the Philippines and within the jurisdiction of this Honorable Court, the above-named accused, conspiring, confederating together and mutually helping one another, received from one Leonardo A. Jose the following pieces of jewelry, to wit: one (1) set dome shape ring and earrings valued at P120,000.00, with the obligation of selling the same on commission basis and deliver the proceeds of the sale thereof or return them if not sold, on or before March 21, 1984, but the herein accused, once in possession of the said jewelry by means of false pretenses, with intent to defraud and with grave abuse of confidence, did, then and there, willfully, unlawfully and feloniously misappropriate, misapply and convert them to their own personal use and benefit and paid the same with Check Nos. 518646 and 518669, dated March 29, 1984 and April 1, 1984, respectively, in the amount of P90,000 and P25,000, respectively, which upon presentation with the bank was dishonored for insufficiency of funds and notwithstanding repeated demands made by Leonardo A. Jose for the redemption of the said check, failed to do so, to his damage and prejudice in the abovestated amount of P120,000.00, Philippine Currency.6 Except for the description and value of the pieces of jewelry involved, date of receipt and agreed date of return, and the number, date and amount of the checks issued in payment thereof, the four other informations are similarly worded. The specifics thereof are as follows: Crim. Case No. 257-84 P150,000 260-84 P95,000 261-84 P562,000 378-84 P200,000 02-03-84 518645/03-30-84 P50,000 03-20-84 03-27-84 518644/03-17-84 P50,000 03-20-84 03-27-84 518672/03-27-84 P562,000 03-07-84 03-30-84 518647/03-25-84 P95,000 Value of Jewelry Date of Receipt Agreed Date of Return Check No./Date 030086/03-12-84 Amount P150,000

When arraigned on the charges, petitioner and Marietta Isip pleaded not guilty. There being only one complainant in all the cases, joint trial of the cases followed. The versions of the prosecution and the defense, as taken by the Court of Appeals in the parties respective briefs, are the following: i) Prosecution Version. Sometime in 1982, appellant spouses Manuel and Marietta Isip were introduced to complainant Atty. Leonardo Jose. The introduction was made by complainants father, Nemesio, business associate of the Isips. Nemesio and the Isips were then engaged in the buy and sell of pledged and unredeemed jewelry pawned by gambling habitus (pp. 8-16, tsn, June 8, 1993). Needing a bigger capital to finance the growing operation, the Isips convinced complainant to be their capitalist, a proposition to which complainant acceded to (p. 14, ibid). Thus, the operation went smoothly that was before February, 1984 (pp. 14-18, tsn, ibid).

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On February 3, 1984, at complainants residence in Caridad, Cavite City, appellant spouses received from complainant a 6 carat mens ring valued at P200,000.00 with the condition that they are going to sell said jewelry x x x on commission basis for P200,000.00 and if they are not able to sell the same, they have to return the ring if sold on or before March 3, 1984 (p. 8, tsn, October 15, 1993). On March 3, 1984, the Isips did not return the ring or the proceeds thereof. Instead, Marietta Isip issued two (2) personal checks dated March 17 and 30, 1984, respectively, for P50,000.00 each as partial payment for the jewelry. The receipt of the jewelry was acknowledged by Marietta Isip with Manuel acting as a witness (pp. 9-11, tsn, ibid). This particular mens ring is the subject of Criminal Case No. 378-84 for Estafa while Check Nos. 518644 and 518645 (Pacific Banking Corp.) dated March 17 and 30, respectively, are the subject of Criminal Case Nos. 147-84 and 14884. In the morning of March 7, 1984, the Isip couple went again to complainants residence in Caridad, Cavite City where complainant delivered one (1) Choker Pearl with 35 pieces of south sea pearls with diamond worth P150,000.00. The condition was that the proceeds be turned over to complainant on or before March 30, 1984 (pp. 27-29, tsn, ibid). March 30, 1984 came, but instead of turning over the proceeds or return the Choker Pearl, Mrs. Isip issued a check dated March 12, 1984 for P150,000.00 (RCBC check No. 030086) as payment (p. 34, ibid). This is the subject of Criminal Case No. 254-84 for Estafa against the spouses and Criminal Case No. 149-84 for violation of BP 22 against Marietta Isip. In the afternoon of the same day, Mr. Manuel Isip went to complainants residence in Cavite City and got from the latter a mens ring (7 carats) worth P200,000.00. Mr. Isip signed a receipt with the condition that he return the ring or deliver the proceeds, if sold, on or before March 15, 1984. March 15, 1984 came, but Mr. Isip sought an extension which fell due on April 7, 1984. April 7, 1984 came and went by, but Mr. Isip defaulted (pp. 41-46, tsn, ibid). The above is the subject matter of Criminal Case No. 136-84 for Estafa against Manuel Isip. On March 20, 1984, the Isips went again to Cavite City and got from complainant one (1) Dome shaped ring with matching earring with diamonds valued at P120,000.00. As with their previous agreement, the item was to be returned or the proceeds of the sale be delivered on March 21, 1984 (pp. 48-52, tsn, ibid). The following morning, however, Mrs. Isip issued two (2) personal checks (Check Nos. 518646 and 518669 dated March 29, 1984 for P90,000.00 and P25,000.00, respectively) in payment for the Dome shaped ring (p. 53, tsn, ibid). This is the subject of Criminal Case No. 256084 for Estafa against the spouses Isip and Criminal Case Nos. 156-84 and and (sic) 157-84 for Violation of BP 22 against Marietta Isip. At noontime on the same day, the Isip couple went back to the residence of complainant and got from him one (1) collar heart shaped necklace and one (1) baguette necklace worth P95,000.00 (p. 60, tsn, ibid). As agreed upon, Marietta Isip signed a receipt with the condition that the jewelry or the proceeds thereof be delivered to complainant on March 27, 1984. The Isips defaulted and instead, Mrs. Isip issued a check (Check No. 518647) dated March 27, 1984 in the amount of P90,000.00 (pp. 3-5, tsn, October 22, 1993). The subject pieces of jewelry are the subject of Criminal Case No. 260-84 for Estafa against the Isip couple and Criminal Case No. 155-84 for Violation of BP 22 against Marietta Isip. Again, in the early evening of March 20, 1984, the Isips went to complainant informing him that Balikbayan doctors are having a convention in Vigan, Ilocos Sur saying that, that was the most opportune time to sell jewelries. Assorted pieces of jewelry were delivered to Mrs. Isip as reflected in a receipt duly signed by her (E xhibit O) acknowledging the value thereof to the tune of P562,000.00. Exhibit O contained the promise that the jewelry or proceeds thereof will be delivered on March 27, 1984. Inspite of the promise contained in Exhibit O, Mrs. Isip issued a postdated check (Check No. 51867) dated March 27, 1984 in the amount of P562,000.00 as payment for the assorted pieces of jewelry (pp. 8-12, tsn, October 22, 1993). This is the subject matter of Criminal Case No. 261-84 for Estafa against the couple and Criminal Case No. 146-84 against Marietta Isip for Violation of BP 22.

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All of the checks covered by the above transactions were deposited on April 6, 1984 (p. 14, tsn, ibid), but all of them bounced for being drawn against insufficient funds. Demand letters sent to the couple proved futile (pp. 15-20, ibid). ii) Defense Version. During all the times material to these cases, complainant Leonardo Jose, who had his residence at Room 411, 4th Floor, Plaza Towers Condominium on (sic) 3375 Guerrero Street, Ermita, Manila, but claims he had his ancestral home at 506 P. Burgos Street, Caridad, Cavite, was an employee of the Bureau of Customs, having been so since 1964 (Tr., 6/8/93, 7). Upon the other hand, appellants Manuel S. Isip (Manuel hereafter) and Marietta M. Isip (Marietta hereafter) are spouses, residents at 3635 M. Arellano Street, Bacood, Sta. Mesa, Manila (Tr., 8/29/93, 4) and engaged in various business undertakings in Pampanga, Nueva Ecija, Baguio City, Olongapo City and Bataan (Tr., Idem, 9; Tr., 10/2/95, 13) appellant Manuel, in the brokerage and trucking business; while appellant Marietta, in that of selling jewelry and financing, as well as in PX goods, real estate and cars, which she started when she was still single (Tr., Idem, 9-10; Tr., 10/2/95, 12). In 1982, at the casino in Olongapo City, appellant Marietta started obtaining jewelry from losing or financially-strapped players which she repledged as security for financing she obtained from one Nemesio Jose, father of complainant Leonardo Jose (Tr., Idem, 11-12; Tr., Idem, 14). After about a year, when Nemesio Jose ran short of capital, he referred appellants to his son, complainant Leonardo Jose, with address at the Plaza Towers Condominium aforesaid for needed financing (Tr., Idem, 13-14; Tr., Idem, 17-19). Beginning early 1983, at complainants residence at Plaza Tower Condominium in Manila, appellant Marietta, accompanied by her husband who participated only as a witness, started having transactions with complainant who, on different dates in February, March and April, 1984, extended various amounts to her for which appellant Marietta pledged jewelry which, in turn, were agreed between her and complainant to be sold on commission and to turn over the proceeds thereof or return the jewelry to complainant (Tr., Idem, 16-18). In the course of the transactions, appellant Marietta had issued several checks to complainant as guarantee for the payment of the subject jewelry which have either been paid or redeemed, had returned the unsold jewelry to complainant and had conveyed, by way of payment for other jewelry, some personal properties, like brass and antics, and real properties in Balanga, Bataan and Mabalacat, Pampanga, to complainant who caused the same to be registered in the names of his son, Christian Jose, and his wife, Zenaida Jose (Exhibits 1, 2, 2-A, 3, 4, 5, 6, 6-A, 7, 7-A), with the result that all the obligations of appellants to complainant have already been paid for or offset (Tr., Idem, 23; Tr., Idem, 24, 34-36, 37-39; Tr., 3/4/96, 7-8). Also, all the checks that appellant Marietta issued which were initially dishonored have already been (sic) (Tr., 10/2/95, 25-30; Tr., 3/4/96, 8-9). In fact, complainant caused the dismissal of some cases he filed against appellants. Complainant however failed to return some of the redeemed and/or paid checks issued to him by appellant Marietta on the pretext that he did not bring them (Tr., 3/4/96, 20). Inasmuch as appellant Marietta incurred some default in payment and complainant suspected that she would not be able to redeem the checks or pay for the pledged jewelry, complainant demanded that appellants sign certain documents to avoid any misunderstanding, with threat of prosecution before the Cavite courts if they do not comply (Tr., Idem, 19-20; Tr., 3/4/96, 5-6). So, in order to maintain good relations with complainant, appellant Marietta signed the document acknowledging obligations to him in one sitting, which appellant Manuel witnessed (Tr., Idem, 21-22). Later, appellants learned that, although all the transactions were entered into in Manila, complainant filed the cases herein before the Cavite Regional Trial Court (Tr., Idem, 23-24).7 On November 25, 1996, the trial court rendered its decision, the dispositive portion thereof reading: WHEREFORE, in view of the foregoing, the Court finds the accused Dra. Marietta M. Isip guilty beyond reasonable doubt of a (sic) violation of B.P. 22 in Crim. Cases Nos. 146-84, 147-84, 148-84, 149-84, 155-84, 156-84 and 157-84 and she is hereby sentenced to undergo imprisonment of One (1) year of prision correctional (sic) in each case; and of Estafa in the following Crim. Cases: No. 256-84 where she is sentenced to undergo imprisonment of, from Twelve (12) years of prision mayor, as minimum, to Twenty (20) years of reclusion temporal, as maximum, and to indemnify the complainant Atty. Leonardo Jose the amount of P120,000.00 for the value of the articles misappropriated; Crim. Case No. 257-84 where she is sentenced to undergo imprisonment of, from Twelve (12) years of prision mayor, as minimum, to Twenty (20) years of reclusion temporal, as maximum, and to indemnify the complainant Atty. Leonardo Jose the amount of P150,000.00; Crim. Case No. 260-84 where she is sentenced to undergo imprisonment of, from Eight (8) years and One (1) day of prision mayor, as minimum, to Seventeen (17) years of reclusion temporal, as maximum, and to indemnify the complainant Atty. Leonardo Jose the amount of P95,000.00; Crim. Case No. 261-84 where she is sentenced to undergo imprisonment of, from Twelve (12) years and One (1) day of reclusion temporal, as minimum, to Twenty (20) years of reclusion temporal, as maximum, and to indemnify the complainant Atty. Leonardo Jose the amount of P562,000.00; Crim. Case No. 378-84 where she is sentenced to undergo imprisonment of, from Twelve (12) years and One (1) day of reclusion temporal, as minimum, to Twenty (20) years of reclusion temporal, as maximum, and to indemnify the complainant Atty. Leonardo Jose the amount of P200,000.00 and to pay the costs.

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Likewise, accused Manuel Isip is acquitted in Crim. Cases Nos. 256-84, 257-84, 260-84, 261-84 and 378-84. However, in Crim. Case No. 136-84, he is hereby found guilty of Estafa and he is hereby sentenced to undergo imprisonment of, from Twelve (12) years and One (1) day of reclusion temporal, as minimum, to Twenty (20) years of reclusion temporal, as maximum, to indemnify the complainant Atty. Leonardo Jose in the amount of P200,000.00 8 value of the jewelry misappropriated, and to pay the costs. In ruling the way it did, the RTC found that the transactions involved in these cases were sufficiently shown to have taken place at complainant Atty. Leonardo Joses ancestral house in Cavite City when the latter was on leave of absence from the Bureau of Customs where he was connected. It said the defense failed to substantially prove its allegations that the transactions occurred in Manila, particularly in the Towers Condominium, and that complainant is a resident of Bigasan, Makati. It added that the testimony of Marietta Isip that the money with which the complainant initially agreed to finance their transactions was withdrawn from the Sandigan Finance in Cavite City further refuted the defenses claim that the transactions happened in Manila. The trial court likewise found the defenses contention, that the obligations were already paid and set-off with the turnover to complainant of personal and real properties, to be untenable for it is contrary to human nature to demand payment when the same had already been made and the alleged set-offs were for other cases which were settled amicably and subsequently dismissed upon motion of the City Prosecutors Office at the instance of the complainant. The trial court was convinced that accused Marietta Isip misappropriated the pieces of jewelry involved in Criminal Cases No. 256-84, 257-84, 260-84, 261-84 and 378-84 and violated Batas Pambansa Blg. 22 when she issued the checks mentioned in Criminal Cases No. 146-84, 147-84, 148-84, 149-84, 155-84, 156-84 and 157-84. As to petitioner, the trial court acquitted him in Criminal Cases No. 256-84, 257-84, 260-84, 261-84 and 378-84 finding him to have acted as a mere witness when he signed the receipts involved in said cases, but found him liable in Criminal Case No. 136-84 for misappropriating a 7-carat diamond mens ring which he secured from the complainant. Aggrieved, petitioner and spouse appealed to the Court of Appeals assigning the following as errors: -ITHE TRIAL COURT ERRED IN TAKING COGNIZANCE OF AND DECIDING THE CASES AGAINST APPELLANTS AND IN NOT DISMISSING THE SAME UPON THE GROUND THAT NONE OF THE ESSENTIAL INGREDIENTS OF THE OFFENSES CHARGED THEREIN WAS COMMITTED WITH (SIC) ITS TERRITORIAL JURISDICTION. - II THE TRIAL COURT, ASSUMING IT HAD JURISDICTION OVER THE CASES BELOW, ERRD IN NOT HOLDING THAT NO CRIMINAL LIABILITY UNDER BATAS PAMBANSA BLG. 22 WAS INCURRED BY APPELLANT MARIETTA M. ISIP FOR THE ISSUANCE OF THE SUBJECT CHECKS INASMUCH AS SAID CHECKS WERE ISSUED AS MERE GUARANTY FOR OBLIGATIONS INCURRED. - III THE TRIAL COURT, ASSUMING ANY INCIPIENT LIABILITY FOR THE CRIME OF ESTAFA HAD BEEN INCURRED BY APPELLANTS IN THE PREMISES, ERRED IN NOT HOLDING THAT SUCH INCIPIENT LIABILITY HAD BEEN EXTINGUISHED BY PAYMENTS/REDEMPTIONS MADE AND/OR NOVATION ENTERED INTO BETWEEN COMPLAINANT AND SAID APPELLANTS. - IV THE TRIAL COURT ERRED IN FINDING APPELLANTS MANUEL S. ISIP AND MARIETTA M. ISIP GUILTY BEYOND REASONABLE DOUBT OF THE CRIMES OF ESTAFA AND VIOLATION OF BATAS PAMBANSA BLG. 22 RESPECTFULLY IMPUTED UPON THEM AND IN NOT ACQUITTING THEM UPON THE GROUND THAT THEIR GUILT THEREOF, OR OF ANY CRIME FOR THAT MATTER, HAD NOT BEEN ESTABLISHED BEYOND REASONABLE DOUBT AND/OR THAT THE LIABILITY INCURRED BY THEM, IF ANY, IS MERELY CIVIL.9 Before the Court of Appeals could have decided the case, Marietta Isip died thereby extinguishing her criminal and civil liability, if any.

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In a decision promulgated 26 October 2004, the Court of Appeals disposed of the case as follows: WHEREFORE, the appealed decision of the Regional Trial Court of Cavite City (Branch XVII) 1. In Crim. Case No. 136-84 is AFFIRMED with the MODIFICATIONS that the sentence imposed on accusedappellant Manuel S. Isip shall be two (2) years of prision correccional, as minimum, to twenty (20) years of reclusion temporal, as maximum, and that the sum of P200,000.00 he was ordered to pay to Leonardo A. Jose shall bear interest at the legal rate from filing of the information until fully paid; 2. In Crim. Cases Nos. 146-84, 147-84, 148-84, 149-84, 155-84, 156-84 and 157-84 is REVERSED and accusedappellant Marietta M. Isip ACQUITTED of the crimes charged; and 3. In Crim. Cases Nos. 256-84, 257-84, 260-84, 261-84 and 378-84 is REVERSED and accused-appellants Manuel S. Isip and Marietta M. Isip ACQUITTED of the crimes charged, but ordering them to pay to Leonardo A. Jose, jointly and severally, the sums of P120,000.00, P150,000.00, P95,000.00, P562,000.00 and P200,000.00 representing the 10 amounts involved in said cases, plus interest thereon at the legal rate from filing of the information until fully paid. The Court of Appeals upheld the lower courts finding that the venue was properly laid and th at the checks were delivered by the two accused and/or that the transactions transpired at complainants ancestral home in Cavite City, and that, consequently, the offenses charged took place within its territorial jurisdiction. With respect to the seven counts of violation of Batas Pambansa Blg. 22, the appellate court acquitted Marietta Isip of the charges on the ground that since the checks involved were issued prior to 8 August 1984, the dishonor thereof did not give rise to a criminal liability pursuant to Ministry Circular No. 4 of the Ministry of Justice. As to the Estafa cases (Criminal Cases No. 256-84, 257-84, 260-84, 261-84 and 378-84), the Court of Appeals ruled that since the checks issued by Marietta Isip as payment for the pieces of jewelry were dishonored, there was no payment to speak of. It also found the defenses claim of redemption/dacion en pago that real and personal properties were conveyed to complainant who executed affidavits of desistance and caused the dismissal of some of the cases to be unmeritorious. However, the appellate court ruled that though novation does not extinguish criminal liability, it may prevent the rise of such liability as long at it occurs prior to the filing of the criminal information in court. In these five cases, it ruled that there was novation because complainant accepted the checks issued by Marietta Isip as payment for the pieces of jewelry involved in said cases. Consequently, the Court of Appeals acquitted Marietta and petitioner,11 but held them liable to complainant for the value of the jewelry involved. As regards Criminal Case No. 136-84 for estafa against petitioner, the appellate court affirmed the trial courts ruling of conviction. It found petitioners claims that he did not receive the jewelry worth P200,000.00 mentioned in the information; that the receipt he issued for said jewelry was among those documents which were forced upon him to sign under threat of criminal prosecution; and that he signed the same to preserve his friendship with complainant, to be not persuasive. On 17 November 2004, petitioner, for himself and in representation of his deceased wife, Marietta Isip, filed a Partial Motion for Reconsideration insofar as it affirmed his conviction in Criminal Case No. 136-84 and adjudged him civilly liable, jointly and severally, with Marietta Isip in Criminal Cases No. 256-84, 257-84, 260-84, 261-84 and 378-84.12 On 26 October 2005, the Court of Appeals, taking into account the death of Marietta M. Isip prior to the promulgation of its decision, rendered an Amended Decision with the following dispositive portion: WHEREFORE, the decision dated October 26, 2004 is AMENDED in respect to par. 3 of the dispositive portion thereof which shall now read as follows: "3. In Crim. Cases Nos. 256-84, 257-84, 260-84, 261-84 and 378-84 is REVERSED, accused-appellants Manuel S. 13 Isip and Marietta M. Isip ACQUITTED of the crimes charged and the civil aspect of those cases DISMISSED." Petitioner is now before us appealing his conviction in Criminal Case No. 136-84. He raises the following issues: First WHETHER OR NOT THE TRIAL COURT HAD JURISDICTION OVER THE OFFENSE IMPUTED TO PETITIONER AND FOR WHICH HE WAS CONVICTED;

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Second WHETHER THE EVIDENCE SUFFICIENTLY SHOWS THAT PETITIONER RECEIVED THE SUBJECT OF SAID OFFENSE OR THAT HE RECEIVED IT IN CAVITE CITY; and Third, WHETHER THE INCIPIENT CRIMINAL LIABILITY ARISING FROM SAID OFFENSE, IS (sic) ANY, WAS EXTINGUISHED BY NOVATION. On the first issue, petitioner maintains that the RTC had no jurisdiction over the estafa charge in Criminal Case No. 136-84 and it is pure speculation and conjectural, if not altogether improbable or manifestly absurd, to suppose that any of the essential elements of the Estafa charged in Criminal Case No. 136-84 took place in Cavite City. First, he states that the residence of the parties is immaterial and that it is the situs of the transaction that counts. He argues that it is non sequitur that simply because complainant had an alleged ancestral house in Caridad, Cavite, complainant actually lived there and had the transactions there with him when he and his late wife were actual residents of Manila. Mere convenience suggests that their transaction was entered into in Manila. He adds that the source of the fund used to finance the transactions is likewise inconsequential because it is where the subject item was delivered and received by petitioner and/or where it was to be accounted for that determines venue where Estafa, if any, may be charged and tried. Second, he further argues that it does not follow that because complainant may have been on leave from the Bureau of Customs, the transactions were necessarily entered into during that leave and in Cavite City. He asserts that there is no competent proof showing that during his leave of absence, he stayed in Cavite City; and that the transactions involved, including the subject of Criminal Case 136-84 covering roughly the period from February to April 1984, coincided with his alleged leave. The concept of venue of actions in criminal cases, unlike in civil cases, is jurisdictional. 14 The place where the crime was committed determines not only the venue of the action but is an essential element of jurisdiction. 15 It is a fundamental rule that for jurisdiction to be acquired by courts in criminal cases, the offense should have been committed or any one of its essential ingredients should have taken place within the territorial jurisdiction of the court. Territorial jurisdiction in criminal cases is the territory where the court has jurisdiction to take cognizance or to try the offense allegedly committed therein by the accused. Thus, it cannot take jurisdiction over a person charged with an offense allegedly committed outside of that limited territory. Furthermore, the jurisdiction of a court over the criminal case is determined by the allegations in the complaint or information. And once it is so shown, the court may validly take cognizance of the case. However, if the evidence adduced during the trial shows that the offense was committed somewhere else, the court should dismiss the action for want of jurisdiction. 16 In the case at bar, we, like the RTC and the Court of Appeals, are convinced that the venue was properly laid in the RTC of Cavite City. The complainant had sufficiently shown that the transaction covered by Criminal Case No. 13617 84 took place in his ancestral home in Cavite City when he was on approved leave of absence from the Bureau of Customs. Since it has been shown that venue was properly laid, it is now petitioners task to prove otherwise, for it is his claim that the transaction involved was entered into in Manila. The age-old but familiar rule that he who alleges must prove his allegations applies.18 In the instant case, petitioner failed to establish by sufficient and competent evidence that the transaction happened in Manila. Petitioner argues that since he and his late wife actually resided in Manila, convenience alone unerringly suggests that the transaction was entered into in Manila. We are not persuaded. The fact that Cavite City is a bit far from Manila does not necessarily mean that the transaction cannot or did not happen there. Distance will not prevent any person from going to a distant place where he can procure goods that he can sell so that he can earn a living. This is true in the case at bar. It is not improbable or impossible for petitioner and his wife to have gone, not once, but twice in one day, to Cavite City if that is the number of times they received pieces of jewelry from complainant. Moreover, the fact that the checks issued by petitioners late wife in all the transactions with complainant were drawn against accounts with banks in Manila or Makati likewise cannot lead to the conclusion that the transactions were not entered into in Cavite City. It is axiomatic that when it comes to credibility, the trial courts assessment deserves great weight, and is even conclusive and binding, if not tainted with arbitrariness or oversight of some fact or circumstance of weight and influence. The reason is obvious. Having the full opportunity to observe directly the witnesses deportment and manner of testifying, the trial court is in a better position than the appellate court to evaluate properly testimonial evidence.19 It is to be pointed out that the findings of fact of the trial court have been affirmed by the Court of Appeals. It is settled that when the trial courts findings have been affirmed by the app ellate court, said findings are generally conclusive and binding upon this Court.20 In the case at bar, we find no compelling reason to reverse the findings of the trial court, as affirmed by the Court of Appeals, and to apply the exception. We so hold that there is sufficient evidence to show that the particular transaction took place in Cavite City.

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On the second issue, petitioner contends that the Court of Appeals holding that the ring subject of Crim. Case No. 136-84 was delivered to and received by petitioner is seriously flawed. He argues that assuming he signed the receipt evidencing delivery of the ring, not due to the threat of prosecution but merely to preserve his friendship with complainant, the fact remains that there is no showing that the ring was actually delivered to him. Petitioner insists there is no competent evidence that the ring subject of Criminal Case No. 136-84 was ever actually received by, or delivered to, him. We find his contentions untenable. The finding of the Court of Appeals that petitioner received the ring subject of Criminal Case No. 136-84 is supported by the evidence on record. The acknowledgment receipt 21 executed by petitioner is very clear evidence that he received the ring in question. Petitioners claim that he did not receive any ring and merely executed said receipt in order to preserve his friendship with the complainant deserves scant consideration. Petitioner, an astute businessman as he is, knows the significance, import and obligation of what he executed and signed. The following disputable presumptions weigh heavily against petitioner, namely: (a) That a person intends the ordinary consequences of his voluntary act; (b) That a person takes ordinary care of his concerns; (c) That private transactions have been fair and regular; and (d) That the ordinary course of business has been followed 22 Thus, it is presumed that one does not sign a document without first informing himself of its contents and consequences. We know that petitioner understood fully well the ramification of the acknowledgment receipt he executed. It devolves upon him then to overcome these presumptions. We, however, find that he failed to do so. Aside from his self-serving allegation that he signed the receipt to preserve his friendship with complainant, there is no competent evidence that would rebut said presumptions. It is clear from the evidence that petitioner signed the acknowledgment receipt when he received the ring from complainant in Cavite City. Petitioners argument that he did not receive the subject ring 23 is further belied by the testimony of his wife when the 24 latter testified that said ring was borrowed by him on 7 March 1984. In all, the delivery of the ring and the transaction regarding the same occurred in Cavite City. Anent the third issue, petitioner argues that, assuming gratia argumenti that any criminal liability was incurred by petitioner respecting the ring subject of Criminal Case No. 136-84, the same was incipient, at best, and was effectively extinguished by novation. The personal and real properties delivered/conveyed to complainant were more than sufficient to cover or offset whatever balance remained of the obligations incurred as shown by the fact that complainant executed Affidavits of Desistance and caused the dismissal of some of the cases filed. He maintains that the Court of Appeals did not apply the rule of novation as regards the ring subject of Criminal Case No. 136-84 because it rejected his denial of receipt of said ring and his claim that he signed the receipt supposedly covering the same under threat of prosecution and merely to preserve their good relations. He claims the Court should not have denied the application of the rule of novation on said case because the rejected initial claim (that he did not receive the ring and that he signed the receipt to preserve their good relations) was but an alternative defense and its rejection is not a reason to deny the application of the novation rule in said case. We agree with the Court of Appeals that novation25 cannot be applied in Criminal Case No. 136-84. The claim of petitioner that the personal and real properties conveyed to complainant and/or to his family were more than sufficient to cover or offset whatever balance remained of the obligations incurred has no basis. If it were true that the properties delivered to complainant were sufficient, the latter would have caused the dismissal of all, not some as in this instance, the cases against petitioner and his late wife. This, complainant did not do for the simple reason that the properties conveyed to him were not enough to cover all the obligations incurred by petitioner and his deceased wife. Complainant testified that the properties he received were in settlement of cases other than the cases being tried herein.26 In particular, he said that petitioner and his spouse settled eight cases which were subsequently 27 dismissed when they delivered properties as payment. It follows then that the obligations incurred by petitioner and his spouse were not yet settled when the criminal cases herein tried were filed. His contention, that the Court of Appeals did not apply the rule of novation in Criminal Case No. 136-84 because it rejected or did not believe his (alternative) defense of denial, is untenable. The main reason why the Court of Appeals did not apply novation in said case was that not all the elements of novation are present. For novation to take place, four essential requisites have to be met, namely, (1) a previous valid obligation; (2) an agreement of all parties concerned to a new contract; (3) the extinguishment of the old obligation; and (4) the birth of a valid new obligation. In Criminal Case No. 136-84, only the first element is extant. What distinguishes this case from Criminal Cases No. 25684, 257-84, 260-84, 261-84 and 378-84, where the Court of Appeals applied the rule of novation, was that there were checks issued as payment, though subsequently dishonored, for the pieces of jewelry involved. In Criminal Case No.

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136-84, it is very clear that neither petitioner nor his wife issued any check as payment for the subject ring that could have extinguished his old obligation and brought to life a new obligation. From the allegations of the information in Criminal Case No. 136-84, it is clear that petitioner was charged with Estafa under Article 315, paragraph 1(b), of the Revised Penal Code. The elements of estafa with abuse of confidence are: (1) the offender receives the money, goods or other personal property in trust, or on commission, or for administration, or under any other obligation involving the duty to deliver, or to return, the same; (2) the offender misappropriates or converts such money or property or denies receiving such money or property; (3) the misappropriation or conversion or denial is to the prejudice of another; and (4) the offended party demands that the offender return the money or property.28 All these are present in this case. Petitioner received from complainant a seven-carat diamond (mens ring), valued at P200,000.00, for the purpose of selling the same on commission basis and to deliver the proceeds of the sale thereof or return the jewelry if not sold. Petitioner misappropriated or converted said ring for his own benefit and even denied receiving the same. Despite repeated demands from complainant, petitioner failed to return the ring or the proceeds of the sale thereof causing damage and prejudice to complainant in the amount of P200,000.00. As to the penalty imposed by the Court of Appeals on petitioner, we find the same to be in order. WHEREFORE, the decision and amended decision of the Court of Appeals in CA-G.R. No. 21275 dated 26 October 2004 dated 26 October 2005, respectively, are AFFIRMED. SO ORDERED. 2. Landbank of the Philipppines v. Belisata, G.R. No. 170298, June 26, 2007

3. G.R. No. 192466 September 7, 2011 PEOPLE OF THE PHILIPPINES, Appellee, vs. ALEJO TAROY y TARNATE, Appellant. DECISION ABAD, J.: Apart from the question of credibility of testimonies in a prosecution for rape, this case resolves the question of proof of the territorial jurisdiction of the trial court. The Facts and the Case The public prosecutor charged Alejo Taroy y Tarnate (Taroy) with two counts of rape in Criminal Cases 02-CR-4671 1 and 02-CR-4672 before the Regional Trial Court (RTC) of La Trinidad, Benguet. DES2 was the eldest daughter of MILA3 by her first marriage. MILA married Taroy in 1997 upon the death of her first husband.4 The couple lived with MILAs children in Pucsusan Barangay, Itogon, Benguet, at the boundary of Baguio 5 City. DES testified that she was alone in the house on August 10, 1997 doing some cleaning since her mother was at work and her two siblings were outside playing. When Taroy entered the house, he locked the door, closed the windows, removed his clothes, and ordered DES to remove hers. When she resisted, Taroy poked a knife at her head and forced her to submit to his bestial desires. Taroy warned her afterwards not to tell anyone about it, lest MILA and her siblings would suffer some harm. DES was 10 years old then.6 DES testified that Taroy sexually abused her again in September 1998. This time, he entered her room, locked the door, closed the windows, undressed himself, and ordered her to do the same. When she refused, Taroy pointed a knife at her. This compelled her to yield to him.

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Four years later or on November 1, 2002, when DES was 15, she told her aunt and MILA about what had happened between Taroy and her. They accompanied DES to the National Bureau of Investigation to complain. MILA and a certain Alumno testified that they later accompanied DES to the hospital for examination. MILA corroborated DES testimony regarding how she revealed to her and an aunt the details of the rape incidents. The doctor who examined DES testified that the latter had two narrow notches in her hymen at three oclock and five oclock positions. She explained that these notches or V-shaped or sharp indentions over the hymenal edges suggested a history of previous blunt force or trauma possibly caused by the insertion of an erect male penis. For the defense, Taroy denied raping DES on the occasions mentioned. He averred that the testimony was a fabrication made upon the prodding of her aunt who disliked him. The RTC found Taroy guilty of two counts of rape and sentenced him to suffer the penalty of reclusion perpetua. It also ordered him to pay DES for each count: P75,000.00 as civil indemnity, P75,000.00 as moral damages, and 7 P25,000.00 as exemplary damages. The RTC found the testimony of DES credible and worthy of belief. Taroy challenged the Benguet RTCs jurisdiction over the crimes charged, he having testified that their residence when the alleged offenses took place was in Pucsusan Barangay, Baguio City. The RTC held, however, that Taroys testimony that their residence was in Baguio City did not strip the court of its jurisdiction since he waived the jurisdictional requirement. On January 19, 2010 the Court of Appeals (CA) affirmed the decision of the RTC. 8 The CA gave weight to the RTCs assessment of DES credibility and found no evil motive in her. The CA also held that the prosecution has sufficiently established the jurisdiction of the RTC through the testimony of MILA, DES, and Alumno. Taroy seeks his acquittal from this Court. The Issues Presented The issues presented to the Court are: 1. Whether or not the RTC of La Trinidad, Benguet, has jurisdiction to hear and decide the cases of rape against Taroy; and 2. Whether or not the prosecution has proved his guilt in the two cases beyond reasonable doubt. The Courts Rulings One. Venue is jurisdictional in criminal cases. It can neither be waived nor subjected to stipulation. The right venue must exist as a matter of law.9 Thus, for territorial jurisdiction to attach, the criminal action must be instituted and tried in the proper court of the municipality, city, or province where the offense was committed or where any of its essential 10 ingredients took place. The Informations11 filed with the RTC of La Trinidad state that the crimes were committed in the victim and the offenders house in City Limit, Tuding, Municipality of Itogon, Province of Benguet. This allegation conferred territor ial jurisdiction over the subject offenses on the RTC of La Trinidad, Benguet. The testimonies of MILA and DES as well 12 as the affidavit of arrest point to this fact. Clearly, Taroys uncorroborated assertion that the subject offenses took place in Baguio City is not entitled to belief. Besides, he admitted during the pre-trial in the case that it was the RTC 13 of La Trinidad that had jurisdiction to hear the case. Taken altogether, that RTCs jurisdiction to hear the case is beyond dispute. Two. What is necessary for the prosecution to ensure conviction is not absolute certainty but only moral certainty that 14 the accused is guilty of the crime charged. Here, the prosecution has sufficiently proved the guilt of Taroy beyond reasonable doubt. DES testimony is worthy of belief, she having no ill-motive to fabricate what she said against her stepfather.1avvphil1 More, contrary to the claims of Taroy, there is nothing in the testimony of DES that would elicit suspicion as to the veracity of her story. For one thing, the fact that she did not shout for help or resist the sexual advances of Taroy

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does not disprove the fact that he raped her. Women who experience traumatic and terrifying experiences such as rape do not react in a uniform pattern of hysteria and breakdown. Lastly, there is nothing unusual for DES to remain in the family dwelling despite the incidents that had happened to her. She was just a child. Where else would she go except stay with her mother who happened to be married to the man who abused her? While we do affirm the guilt of Taroy for the crime of rape, we modify the award of exemplary damages in accordance with People v. Araojo.15 The prosecution has sufficiently established the relationship of Taroy to the victim, as well as the minority of DES necessitating the increase of the award of exemplary damages from P25,000.00 to P30,000.00. WHEREFORE, this Court DISMISSES the appeal and AFFIRMS the Court of Appeals decision in CA-G.R. CR-HC 03510 dated January 19, 2010 with the MODIFICATION that the award of exemplary damages be increased from P25,000.00 to P30,000.00. SO ORDERED. 4. G.R. No. 184800 May 5, 2010 WONINA M. BONIFACIO, JOCELYN UPANO, VICENTE ORTUOSTE AND JOVENCIO PERECHE, SR., Petitioners, vs. REGIONAL TRIAL COURT OF MAKATI, BRANCH 149, and JESSIE JOHN P. GIMENEZ, Respondents. DECISION CARPIO MORALES, J.: Via a petition for Certiorari and Prohibition, petitioners Wonina M. Bonifacio, et al. assail the issuances of Branch 149 of the Regional Trial Court (RTC) of Makati (public respondent) Order1 of April 22, 2008 which denied their motion to quash the Amended Information indicting them for libel, and Joint Resolution 2 of August 12, 2008 denying reconsideration of the first issuance. Private respondent Jessie John P. Gimenez3 (Gimenez) filed on October 18, 2005, on behalf of the Yuchengco Family ("in particular," former Ambassador Alfonso Yuchengco and Helen Y. Dee (Helen) and of the Malayan Insurance Co., Inc. (Malayan),4 a criminal complaint,5 before the Makati City Prosecutors Office, for thirteen (13) counts of libel under Article 355 in relation to Article 353 of the Revised Penal Code (RPC) against Philip Piccio, Mia Gatmaytan and Ma. Anabella Relova Santos, who are officers of Parents Enabling Parents Coalition, Inc. (PEPCI), John Joseph Gutierrez, Jeselyn Upano, Jose Dizon, Rolanda Pareja, Wonina Bonifacio, Elvira Cruz, Cornelio Zafra, Vicente Ortueste, Victoria Gomez Jacinto, Jurencio Pereche, Ricardo Loyares and Peter Suchianco, who are trustees of PEPCI, Trennie Monsod, a member of PEPCI (collectively, the accused), and a certain John Doe, the administrator of the website www.pepcoalition.com. PEPCI appears to have been formed by a large group of disgruntled planholders of Pacific Plans, Inc. (PPI) - a wholly owned subsidiary of Great Pacific Life Assurance Corporation, also owned by the Yuchengco Group of Companies (YGC) - who had previously purchased traditional pre-need educational plans but were unable to collect thereon or avail of the benefits thereunder after PPI, due to liquidity concerns, filed for corporate rehabilitation with prayer for suspension of payments before the Makati RTC. Decrying PPIs refusal/inability to honor its obligations under the educational pre-need plans, PEPCI sought to provide a forum by which the planholders could seek redress for their pecuniary loss under their policies by maintaining a website on the internet under the address of www.pepcoalition.com. Gimenez alleged that PEPCI also owned, controlled and moderated on the internet a blogspot under the website address www.pacificnoplan.blogspot.com, as well as a yahoo e-group7 at no2pep2010@yahoogroups.com. These websites are easily accessible to the public or by anyone logged on to the internet. Gimenez further alleged that upon accessing the above-stated websites in Makati on various dates from August 25 to October 2, 2005, he "was appalled to read numerous articles [numbering 13], maliciously and recklessly caused to be published by [the accused] containing highly derogatory statements and false accusations, relentlessly attacking the
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Yuchengco Family, YGC, and particularly, Malayan." He cited an article which was posted/published on www.pepcoalition.com on August 25, 2005 which stated: Talagang naisahan na naman tayo ng mga Yuchengcos. Nangyari na ang mga kinatatakutan kong pagbagsak ng negotiation because it was done prematurely since we had not file any criminal aspect of our case. What is worse is that Yuchengcos benefited much from the nego. x x x . That is the fact na talagang hindi dapat pagtiwalaan ang mga Yuchengcos. LETS MOVE TO THE BATTLEFIELD. FILE THE CRIMINAL CASES IN COURT, BSP AND AMLC AND WHEREVER. Pumunta tayong muli sa senado, congreso, RCBC Plaza, and other venues to air our grievances and call for boycott ng YGC. Let us start within ourselves. Alisin natin ang mga investments and deposits natin sa lahat ng YGC and I mean lahat and again convince friends to do the same. Yung mga nanonood lang noon ay dapat makisali na talaga ngayon specially those who joined only after knowing that there was a negotiation for amicable settlements. FOR SURE MAY TACTICS PA SILANG NAKABASTA SA ATIN. LET US BE READY FOR IT BECAUSE THEY HAD SUCCESSFULLY LULL US AND THE NEXT TIME THEY WILL TRY TO KILL US NA. x x x 9 (emphasis in the original) By Resolution of May 5, 2006,10 the Makati City Prosecutors Office, finding probable cause to indict the accused, filed thirteen (13) separate Informations11 charging them with libel. The accusatory portion of one Information, docketed as Criminal Case No. 06-876, which was raffled off to public respondent reads: That on or about the 25th day of August 2005 in Makati City, Metro Manila, Philippines, a place within the jurisdiction of the Honorable Court, the above-named accused, being then the trustees of Parents Enabling Parents Coalition and as such trustees they hold the legal title to the website www.pepcoalition.com which is of general circulation, and publication to the public conspiring, confederating and mutually helping with one another together with John Does, did then and there willfully, unlawfully and feloniously and publicly and maliciously with intention of attacking the honesty, virtue, honor and integrity, character and reputation of complainant Malayan Insurance Co. Inc., Yuchengco Family particularly Ambassador Alfonso Yuchengco and Helen Dee and for further purpose exposing the complainant to public hatred and contempt published an article imputing a vice or defect to the complainant and caused to be composed, posted and published in the said website www.pepcoalition.com and injurious and defamatory article as follows: Talagang naisahan na naman tayo ng mga Yuchengcos. Nangyari na ang mga kinatatakutan kong pagbagsak ng negotiation. x x x x x x x x x For sure may tactics pa silang nakabasta sa atin. Let us be ready for it because they had successfully lull us and the next time they will try to kill us na. x x x A copy of the full text of the foregoing article as published/posted in www.pepcoalition.com is attached as Annex "F" of the complaint. That the keyword and password to be used in order to post and publish the above defamatory article are known to the accused as trustees holding legal title to the above-cited website and that the accused are the ones responsible for the posting and publication of the defamatory articles that the article in question was posted and published with the object of the discrediting and ridiculing the complainant before the public. CONTRARY TO LAW.12 Several of the accused appealed the Makati City Prosecutors Resolution by a petition for review to the Secretary of 13 Justice who, by Resolution of June 20, 2007, reversed the finding of probable cause and accordingly directed the withdrawal of the Informations for libel filed in court. The Justice Secretary opined that the crime of "internet libel" was non-existent, hence, the accused could not be charged with libel under Article 353 of the RPC. 14 Petitioners, as co-accused,15 thereupon filed on June 6, 2006, before the public respondent, a Motion to Quash 16 the Information in Criminal Case No. 06-876 on the grounds that it failed to vest jurisdiction on the Makati RTC; the acts complained of in the Information are not punishable by law since internet libel is not covered by Article 353 of the
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RPC; and the Information is fatally defective for failure to designate the offense charged and the acts or omissions complained of as constituting the offense of libel. Citing Macasaet v. People, petitioners maintained that the Information failed to allege a particular place within the trial courts jurisdiction where the subject article was printed and first published or that the offended parties resided in Makati at the time the alleged defamatory material was printed and first published. By Order of October 3, 2006, the public respondent, albeit finding that probable cause existed, quashed the Information, citing Agustin v. Pamintuan. 19 It found that the Information lacked any allegations that the offended parties were actually residing in Makati at the time of the commission of the offense as in fact they listed their address in the complaint-affidavit at Yuchengco Tower in Binondo, Manila; or that the alleged libelous article was printed and first published in Makati. The prosecution moved to reconsider the quashal of the Information, insisting that the Information sufficiently 21 conferred jurisdiction on the public respondent. It cited Banal III v. Panganiban which held that the Information need not allege verbatim that the libelous publication was "printed and first published" in the appropriate venue. And it pointed out that Malayan has an office in Makati of which Helen is a resident. Moreover, the prosecution alleged that even assuming that the Information was deficient, it merely needed a formal amendment. Petitioners opposed the prosecutions motion for reconsideration, contending, inter alia, that since venue is jurisdictional in criminal cases, any defect in an information for libel pertaining to jurisdiction is not a mere matter of form that may be cured by amendment. 22 By Order of March 8, 2007,23 the public respondent granted the prosecutions motion for reconsideration and accordingly ordered the public prosecutor to "amend the Information to cure the defect of want of venue." The prosecution thereupon moved to admit the Amended Information dated March 20, 2007, 24 the accusatory portion of which reads: That on or about the 25th day of August 2005 in Makati City, Metro Manila, Philippines, a place within the jurisdiction of the Honorable Court, the above-named accused, being then the trustees of Parents Enabling Parents Coalition and as such trustees they hold the legal title to the website www.pepcoalition.com which is of general circulation, and publication to the public conspiring, confederating together with John Does, whose true names, identities and present whereabouts are still unknown and all of them mutually helping and aiding one another, did then and there willfully, unlawfully and feloniously and publicly and maliciously with intention of attacking the honesty, virtue, honor and integrity, character and reputation of complainant Malayan Insurance Co. Inc., Yuchengco Family particularly Ambassador Alfonso Yuchengco and Helen Dee and for further purpose exposing the complainant to public hatred and contempt published an article imputing a vice or defect to the complainant and caused to be composed, posted and published in the said website www.pepcoalition.com, a website accessible in Makati City, an injurious and defamatory article, which was first published and accessed by the private complainant in Makati City, as follows: x x x x (emphasis and underscoring in the original; italics supplied) Petitioners moved to quash the Amended Information25 which, they alleged, still failed to vest jurisdiction upon the public respondent because it failed to allege that the libelous articles were "printed and first published" by the accused in Makati; and the prosecution erroneously laid the venue of the case in the place where the offended party accessed the internet-published article. By the assailed Order of April 22, 2008, the public respondent, applying Banal III, found the Amended Information to be sufficient in form. Petitioners motion for reconsideration having been denied by the public respondent by Joint Resolution of August 12, 2008, they filed the present petition for Certiorari and Prohibition faulting the public respondent for: 1. NOT FINDING THAT THE ACTS ALLEGED IN THE INFORMATION ARE NOT PUNISHABLE BY LAW; 2. ADMITTING AN AMENDED INFORMATION WHOSE JURISDICTIONAL ALLEGATIONS CONTINUES TO BE DEFICIENT; and
26 20 18 17

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3. NOT RULING THAT AN AMENDMENT IN THE INFORMATION FOR THE PURPOSE OF CURING JURISDICTIONAL DEFECTS IS ILLEGAL.27 With the filing of Gimenezs Comment to the petition, the issues are: (1) whether petitioners violated the rule on hierarchy of courts to thus render the petition dismissible; and (2) whether grave abuse of discretion attended the public respondents admission of the Amended Information. The established policy of strict observance of the judicial hierarchy of courts, as a rule, requires that recourse must first be made to the lower-ranked court exercising concurrent jurisdiction with a higher court. 30 A regard for judicial hierarchy clearly indicates that petitions for the issuance of extraordinary writs against first level courts should be filed 31 in the RTC and those against the latter should be filed in the Court of Appeals. The rule is not iron-clad, however, as it admits of certain exceptions. Thus, a strict application of the rule is unnecessary when cases brought before the appellate courts do not involve 32 factual but purely legal questions. In the present case, the substantive issue calls for the Courts exercise of its discretionary authority, by way of exception, in order to abbreviate the review process as petitioners raise a pure question of law involving jurisdiction in criminal complaints for libel under Article 360 of the RPC whether the Amended Information is sufficient to sustain a charge for written defamation in light of the requirements under Article 360 of the RPC, as amended by Republic Act (RA) No. 4363, reading: Art. 360. Persons responsible.Any person who shall publish, exhibit or cause the publication or exhibition of any defamation in writing or by similar means, shall be responsible for the same. The author or editor of a book or pamphlet, or the editor or business manager of a daily newspaper, magazine or serial publication, shall be responsible for the defamations contained therein to the same extent as if he were the author thereof. The criminal action and civil action for damages in cases of written defamations, as provided for in this chapter shall be filed simultaneously or separately with the Court of First Instance of the province or city where the libelous article is printed and first published or where any of the offended parties actually resides at the time of the commission of the offense: Provided, however, That where one of the offended parties is a public officer whose office is in the City of Manila at the time of the commission of the offense, the action shall be filed in the Court of First Instance of the City of Manila or of the city or province where the libelous article is printed and first published, and in case such public officer does not hold office in the City of Manila, the action shall be filed in the Court of First Instance of the province or city where he held office at the time of the commission of the offense or where the libelous article is printed and first published and in case one of the offended parties is a private individual, the action shall be filed in the Court of First Instance of the province or city where he actually resides at the time of the commission of the offense or where the libelous matter is printed and first published x x x. (emphasis and underscoring supplied) Venue is jurisdictional in criminal actions such that the place where the crime was committed determines not only the venue of the action but constitutes an essential element of jurisdiction. 33 This principle acquires even greater import in libel cases, given that Article 360, as amended, specifically provides for the possible venues for the institution of the criminal and civil aspects of such cases. In Macasaet, the Court reiterated its earlier pronouncements in Agbayani v. Sayo venue in libel cases, viz:
34 35 29 28

which laid out the rules on

For the guidance, therefore, of both the bench and the bar, this Court finds it appropriate to reiterate our earlier pronouncement in the case of Agbayani, to wit: In order to obviate controversies as to the venue of the criminal action for written defamation, the complaint or information should contain allegations as to whether, at the time the offense was committed, the offended party was a public officer or a private individual and where he was actually residing at that time. Whenever possible, the place where the written defamation was printed and first published should likewise be alleged. That allegation would be a sine qua non if the circumstance as to where the libel was printed and first published is used as the basis of the venue of the action. (emphasis and underscoring supplied)

15
It becomes clear that the venue of libel cases where the complainant is a private individual is limited to only either of two places, namely: 1) where the complainant actually resides at the time of the commission of the offense; or 2) where the alleged defamatory article was printed and first published. The Amended Information in the present case opted to lay the venue by availing of the second. Thus, it stated that the offending article "was first published and accessed by the private complainant in Makati City." In other words, it considered the phrase to be equivalent to the requisite allegation of printing and first publication. The insufficiency of the allegations in the Amended Information to vest jurisdiction in Makati becomes pronounced upon an examination of the rationale for the amendment to Article 360 by RA No. 4363. Chavez v. Court of Appeals 36 explained the nature of these changes: Agbayani supplies a comprehensive restatement of the rules of venue in actions for criminal libel, following the amendment by Rep. Act No. 4363 of the Revised Penal Code: "Article 360 in its original form provided that the venue of the criminal and civil actions for written defamations is the province wherein the libel was published, displayed or exhibited, regardless of the place where the same was written, printed or composed. Article 360 originally did not specify the public officers and the courts that may conduct the preliminary investigation of complaints for libel. Before article 360 was amended, the rule was that a criminal action for libel may be instituted in any jurisdiction where the libelous article was published or circulated, irrespective of where it was written or printed (People v. Borja, 43 Phil. 618). Under that rule, the criminal action is transitory and the injured party has a choice of venue. Experience had shown that under that old rule the offended party could harass the accused in a libel case by laying the venue of the criminal action in a remote or distant place. Thus, in connection with an article published in the Daily Mirror and the Philippine Free Press, Pio Pedrosa, Manuel V. Villareal and Joaquin Roces were charged with libel in the justice of the peace court of San Fabian, Pangasinan (Amansec v. De Guzman, 93 Phil. 933). To forestall such harassment, Republic Act No. 4363 was enacted. It lays down specific rules as to the venue of the criminal action so as to prevent the offended party in written defamation cases from inconveniencing the accused by means of out-of-town libel suits, meaning complaints filed in remote municipal courts (Explanatory Note for the bill which became Republic Act No. 4363, Congressional Record of May 20, 1965, pp. 424-5; Time, Inc. v. Reyes, L28882, May 31, 1971, 39 SCRA 303, 311). x x x x (emphasis and underscoring supplied) Clearly, the evil sought to be prevented by the amendment to Article 360 was the indiscriminate or arbitrary laying of the venue in libel cases in distant, isolated or far-flung areas, meant to accomplish nothing more than harass or intimidate an accused. The disparity or unevenness of the situation becomes even more acute where the offended party is a person of sufficient means or possesses influence, and is motivated by spite or the need for revenge. If the circumstances as to where the libel was printed and first published are used by the offended party as basis for the venue in the criminal action, the Information must allege with particularity where the defamatory article was printed and first published, as evidenced or supported by, for instance, the address of their editorial or business offices in the case of newspapers, magazines or serial publications. This pre-condition becomes necessary in order to forestall any inclination to harass. The same measure cannot be reasonably expected when it pertains to defamatory material appearing on a website on the internet as there would be no way of determining the situs of its printing and first publication. To credit Gimenezs premise of equating his first access to the defamatory article on petitioners website in Makati with "printing and first publication" would spawn the very ills that the amendment to Article 360 of the RPC sought to discourage and prevent. It hardly requires much imagination to see the chaos that would ensue in situations where the websites author or writer, a blogger or anyone who posts messages therein could be sued for libel anywhere in the Philippines that the private complainant may have allegedly accessed the offending website.

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For the Court to hold that the Amended Information sufficiently vested jurisdiction in the courts of Makati simply because the defamatory article was accessed therein would open the floodgates to the libel suit being filed in all other locations where the pepcoalition website is likewise accessed or capable of being accessed. 1avvphi1 Respecting the contention that the venue requirements imposed by Article 360, as amended, are unduly oppressive, 37 the Courts pronouncements in Chavez are instructive: For us to grant the present petition, it would be necessary to abandon the Agbayani rule providing that a private person must file the complaint for libel either in the place of printing and first publication, or at the complainants place of residence. We would also have to abandon the subsequent cases that reiterate this rule in Agbayani, such as Soriano, Agustin, and Macasaet. There is no convincing reason to resort to such a radical action. These limitations imposed on libel actions filed by private persons are hardly onerous, especially as they still allow such persons to file the civil or criminal complaint in their respective places of residence, in which situation there is no need to embark on a quest to determine with precision where the libelous matter was printed and first published. (Emphasis and underscoring supplied.) IN FINE, the public respondent committed grave abuse of discretion in denying petitioners motion to quash the Amended Information. WHEREFORE, the petition is GRANTED. The assailed Order of April 22, 2008 and the Joint Resolution of August 12, 2008 are hereby SET ASIDE. The Regional Trial Court of Makati City, Br. 149 is hereby DIRECTED TO QUASH the Amended Information in Criminal Case No. 06-876 and DISMISS the case. SO ORDERED.

B. JURISDICTION TO ISSUE HOLD DEPARTURE ORDERS (REGULAR COURTS DISTINGUISHED WITH THE SANDIGANBAYAN) 1. A.M. No. MTJ-01-1349 July 12, 2001 BERNADETTE MONDEJAR, complainant, vs. JUDGE MARINO S. BUBAN, MTCC, Tacloban City Branch 1, respondent. KAPUNAN, J.: RESOLUTION In a sworn letter complaint dated May 31, 1999, complainant Bernadette Mondejar charged Judge Marino S. Buban, MTCC, Tacloban City, Branch 1, with gross ignorance of the law, partiality, serious irregularity and grave misconduct relative to Criminal Case No. 98-07-CR-133 entitled "People of the Philippines v. Bernadette Mondejar and Arlette Mondejar" for violation of Batas Pambansa Blg. 22. She alleged that respondent judge issued a "hold departure order" against her on October 23, 1998 in violation of Supreme Court Circular No. 39-97 which provides that "hold departure orders" shall be issued only in criminal cases within the exclusive jurisdiction of the Regional Trial Courts. She further alleged that respondent judge did not give her an opportunity to be heard before issuing the questioned order. When required to comment on the matter, respondent judge admitted having issued said order because he was not aware of the Supreme Court Circular No. 39-97. He alleged that he was not furnished a copy of the circular and managed to secure a copy only after he instructed his legal researcher to get one from the Executive Judge of the Regional Trial Court of Tacloban City. Accordingly, on April 14, 1997, he issued an order lifting and setting aside the hold departure order dated October 23, 1998. As regards the issue of denial of due process, respondent judge averred that complainant and her counsel were duly notified of the scheduled hearing but neither appeared on said date.

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The Court Administrator after finding that respondent judge erred in issuing the assailed "hold departure order," recommended that he be severely reprimanded with a stern warning that a repetition of the same or similar act in the future shall be dealt with more severely. The recommendation of the Court Administrator is well-taken. Circular No. 39-97 limits the authority to issue hold-departure orders to criminal cases within the jurisdiction of second level courts. Paragraph No. 1 of the said circular specifically provides that "hold-departure orders shall be issued only in criminal cases within the exclusive jurisdiction of the regional trial courts." Clearly then, criminal cases within the exclusive jurisdiction of first level courts do not fall within the ambit of the circular, and it was an error on the part of respondent judge to have issued one in the instant case. Canon 3, Rule 3.01 of the Code of Judicial Conduct exhorts judges to be "faithful to the law and maintain professional competence." The Court, in exercising administrative supervision of all lower courts, has not been remised in reminding the members of the bench to exert due diligence in keeping abreast with the development in law and jurisprudence. Besides, Circular No. 39-97 is not a new circular. It was circularized in 1997 and violation of which has been accordingly dealt with in numerous cases before the Court. Herein judge, therefore, cannot be excused for his infraction. Judges should always be vigilant in their quest for new developments in the law so they could discharge their duties and functions with zeal and fervor. 1wphi1.nt In recent cases,1 involving similar violations, this Court imposed the penalty of reprimand on erring judges. Hence, the same penalty should be imposed on respondent judge. WHEREFORE, Judge Marino S. Buban is hereby REPRIMANDED with the warning that a repetition of the same and similar acts in the future will be dealt with more severely. SO ORDERED. Davide, Jr., Puno, Pardo, and Ynares-Santiago, JJ., concur. 2. A.M. No. RTJ-04-1850 July 14, 2004

JUDGE LORINDA T. MUPAS, petitioner, vs. JUDGE DOLORES L. ESPAOL, Regional Trial Court, Branch 90, Damarias, Cavite, respondent.

RESOLUTION AUSTRIA-MARTINEZ, J.: In a letter-complaint1 dated October 29, 2001 filed with the Office of the Court Administrator (OCA for brevity), Judge Lorinda T. Mupas (complainant Judge for brevity) of the Municipal Trial Court of Dasmarias, Cavite (MTC for brevity), charges Judge Dolores L. Espaol, Regional Trial Court (Branch 90) of Dasmarias, Cavite (RTC for brevity), in her capacity as Executive Judge, with Gross Ignorance of the Law and Usurpation of Authority. It appears from the records that on August 23, 2001, private complainants Leonora Bituon, Florencio Cantada, Anita Mendoza, Rodelia Callo and Cael M. Glorioso (private complainants for brevity) filed three separate criminal complaints for syndicated estafa against Eva Malihan, Sister Trinidad Sinagbulo, Mely Vargas, Geraldine Sine Baldovino, Belen Liwanag, Juanita Sanchez and Nelia Tizon before the MTC, docketed as Criminal Cases Nos. 011485 to 01-1487.2 On August 24, 2001, acting upon a motion of private complainants, 3 herein complainant Judge 4 conducted a preliminary investigation. On the same day, she issued a warrant of arrest against the accused and 5 recommended no bail for their provisional liberty. On August 28, 2001, private complainants filed a motion to transfer accused Eva Malihan from the municipal jail to the provincial jail. 6 On August 29, 2001, complainant Judge required the Chief of Police of Dasmarias, Cavite to comment on the motion to transfer within five days from receipt of the 7 8 order. Meanwhile, on August 31, 2001, accused Eva Malihan filed an urgent petition for bail. On September 3, 2001, the private complainants filed a supplemental pleading to support their previous motion to transfer accused Eva 9 Malihan. Invoking that the Executive Judge has authority to supervise all detainees in the municipal jail of

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Dasmarias, Cavite under Section 25 of Rule 114 of the Revised Rules of Criminal Procedure, the private complainants sent copies of the motion to transfer and supplemental pleading to respondent. On September 4, 2001, complainant Judge required the private complainants in the criminal case to file their comment or opposition to the 10 petition for bail. However, on that same day, respondent issued two orders in connection with Criminal Cases Nos. 01-1485 to 01-1487. The first Order directed the transfer of the accused Eva Malihan from the Municipal Jail to the 11 Provincial Jail, while the second Order directed the Commissioner on Immigration and Deportation to hold and 12 prevent the departure from the Philippines of the accused Eva Malihan while the cases are pending. Complainant Judge alleges that respondent's act of issuing said assailed orders, despite the fact that the cases are pending with the MTC, constitutes gross ignorance of the law and usurpation of authority. In her Comment13 dated February 4, 2002, respondent claims that the complaint is baseless and retaliatory as it is founded on intrigue and spite for blowing the whistle concerning complainant's activities that are pernicious to the judiciary. Respondent states that complainant's involvement in a "scam in the form of commissions from bail bond applicants" is the main reason why complainant clings dearly to the delegated authority in the conduct of preliminary investigation of cases filed with her court. Respondent explains that she was surprised when she was furnished a copy of the two pleadings relating to cases pending with the MTC, but admits that she acted on the motions as Executive Judge "in order not to frustrate the administration of justice." With respect to the transfer order, she claims that under Section 25 of Rule 114 of the Revised Rules of Criminal Procedure, she has the authority to supervise all persons in custody. As regards the hold-departure order, she argues that she is authorized under Supreme Court Circular No. 39-97, which does not require that the subject criminal cases be in her court for the issuance of a hold-departure order. She argues further that she issued the questioned hold-departure order based on the allegation of the complaining witnesses that accused is trying to abscond from prosecution in the criminal case. Furthermore, she decided to act on the motions because of the fact that complainant chose to ignore said motions to the prejudice of the complaining witnesses. Subsequently, in a letter14 dated February 8, 2002, complainant Judge iterates her earlier inquiry in 1999 involving the practice of respondent in granting bail on cases within the exclusive jurisdiction of the MTC. On May 15, 2002, the OCA treated complainant's letter as a supplemental complaint and referred it to respondent for her comment.15 In a letter16 dated July 3, 2002, respondent avers that the matter raised in the supplemental complaint is a mutation of A.M. No. MTJ-01-1348, entitled Judge Dolores L. Espaol, et al. vs. Judge Lorinda T. Mupas, pending resolution with the Court along with A.M. No. 01-2-39-RTC, entitled Wilma Go-Amposta and Medy M. Patricio vs. Judge Lorinda T. Mupas, and A.M. No. MTJ-01-1352, entitled Employees of MTC Dasmarias, Cavite vs. Judge Lorinda T. Mupas. She alleges that the issue raised in said supplemental complaint is one of complainant's defenses in A.M. No. MTJ01-1348. Consequently, she submits that this issue should not be treated as separate and distinct therefrom. In her comment to the supplemental complaint 17 dated July 31, 2002, respondent further maintains that the issue of granting bail is subject of investigation in A.M. No. MTJ-01-1348. She contends that the complaint is frivolous considering that the hold-departure order she issued against Eva Malihan was sustained by the prosecutor. She claims that it is complainant Judge who should be investigated on irregularities in approving bail bonds of detention prisoners. She avers further that complainant Judge falsified her report on detention prisoners and purposely delayed the resolution of preliminary investigation cases until after a considerable period of time which is a clear instance of complainant Judge's gross abuse of authority and gross ignorance of the law. In her Reply18 dated May 29, 2003, complainant Judge brandishes as lies the allegations of respondent in her Comment. She adds that the issues therein are subject of investigation in A.M. No. MTJ-01-1348. Moreover, in A.M. No. MTJ-01-1352, which was allegedly initiated by employees of her court through an anonymous letter, she claims that the said employees denied authorship of the anonymous letter. With respect to A.M. No. 01-2-39-RTC, she

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alleges that the said complaint has already been dismissed by the court. As regards the hold-departure order, complainant Judge claims that the case was eventually dismissed by the RTC of Imus, Cavite. Lastly, she claims that respondent continues to defy the rules on bail since she still issues release orders on detention prisoners whose cases are filed either for preliminary investigation or trial in the MTC. On February 28, 2004, complainant Judge filed a supplement to her allegations in the letter dated February 8, 2002 regarding the practice of respondent to grant bail in cases within the exclusive jurisdiction of the MTC. She cites nine cases pending with the MTC wherein respondent granted bail and subsequently released the accused even though the judge where the case is pending is neither absent, unavailable nor even alleged to be absent or unavailable. Complainant Judge emphatically submits that without the necessity of a formal investigation on the matter, the records of the case involved will bear out the culpability of respondent Judge Espaol and will more than justify the imposition of the most severe penalty upon her. In its Memorandum dated May 19, 2004, the OCA opines that respondent's order to transfer the accused from the municipal jail to the provincial jail cannot be justified under Section 25 of Rule 114 of the Revised Rules of Criminal Procedure, which provides, in part: SEC. 25. Court supervision of detainees. The court shall exercise supervision over all persons in custody for the purpose of eliminating unnecessary detention. The executive judges of the Regional Trial Courts shall conduct monthly personal inspections of provincial, city and municipal jails and the prisoners within their respective jurisdictions. They shall ascertain the number of detainees, inquire on their proper accommodation and health and examine the condition of the jail facilities. They shall order the segregation of sexes and of minors from adults, ensure the observance of the right of detainees to confer privately with counsel, and strive to eliminate conditions inimical to detainees. The OCA expounds that as Executive Judge, respondent exercises supervision over all persons in custody for the purpose of eliminating unnecessary detention but the rule does not give her the authority to arrogate upon herself a power vested upon a presiding judge of the court where the case is pending. Instead of issuing an order transferring the accused, the OCA observes that respondent should have called the attention of the complainant regarding the motions which allegedly required immediate action; that there was no showing that she called the attention of complainant Judge on the alleged motion to transfer accused Eva Malihan, neither was there any indication that the accused in the subject cases was in a situation which requires the interference of the Executive Judge. The OCA concludes that respondent encroached upon the power of complaining judge when respondent took cognizance of the motions not pending in her court. With regard to the hold-departure order, the OCA opines that the same cannot be sustained since it is contrary to the mandates of Supreme Court Circular No. 39-97 inasmuch as at the time of its issuance, no case has yet been filed in the RTC. It adds that while Section 1 of said circular states that "Hold-Departure Orders shall be issued only in criminal cases within the exclusive jurisdiction of the Regional Trial Court" the same should be read that the subject criminal case has been filed and pending with the RTC. In the criminal cases subject of the present administrative case, there is even no final determination yet of a prima facie case that would warrant the filing of an information in court. The determination made by an MTC would still be reviewed by the Office of the Provincial Prosecutor. The OCA concludes that respondent went against the injunction in Circular No. 39-97 that judges of the RTC's should be cautious and avoid the indiscriminate issuance of hold-departure orders as this results in inconvenience to the parties affected and is tantamount to an infringement on the right and liberty of an individual to travel. With regard to the Supplemental Complaint, the OCA opines that the same should be incorporated with A.M. No. MTJ-01-1348 entitled Judge Dolores Espaol, et al. vs. Judge Lorinda T. Mupas and A.M. No. MTJ-01-1358 entitled Wilma Go-Amposta and Medy Particio vs. Judge Lorinda Mupas inasmuch as the issues raised in the supplemental complaint containing the granting of bail are the same as those raised and taken up in A.M. No. MTJ-01-1348. Thus, the OCA recommends to the Court that: (a) respondent be admonished for issuing an order transferring the accused from the municipal jail to the provincial jail; (b) respondent be reprimanded for issuing a hold departure order in Criminal Cases Nos. 01-1435 to 01-1437 considering that it is not within her authority to issue hold departure orders in cases pending preliminary investigation in the MTC; and (c) the Supplemental Complaint be incorporated 21 with A.M. No. MTJ-01-1348 entitled Judge Dolores Espaol, et al. vs. Judge Lorinda T. Mupas. Respondent compulsorily retired from service on January 9, 2004.
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The Court agrees with the findings of the OCA, except as to the recommended penalty. Respondent urges that her conduct was nothing more than the zealous fulfillment of her duties as Executive Judge of the RTC, Dasmarias, Cavite. However, it is elementary that an Executive Judge only has administrative supervision over lower courts. Her function relates only to the management of first and second level courts, within her administrative area with a view to attaining prompt and convenient dispatch of its business. Acting as such, she cannot unilaterally override the MTC's actions in cases pending with it under the guise of "administrative supervision," without running afoul of the orderly administration of justice. Only when her court's jurisdiction is appropriately invoked in an appeal or certiorari and other special civil actions can respondent judge, in her judicial capacity, override the lower court's judgment. Although the "Guidelines on the Selection and Designation of Executive Judges and Defining their Powers, Prerogatives and Duties,"22 to wit: SECTION 1. Executive Judges; general powers, prerogatives and duties. Executive Judges shall, within their respective area of administrative supervision: (a) Provide leadership in, and coordinate with the management of the first and second level courts; (b) Exercise supervision over the judges and personnel; (c) Balance the workload among the courts and maintain equitable distribution of cases in accordance with relevant existing issuances; (d) Recommend and implement policies concerning court operations; (e) Identify, address and resolve problems in court administration which do not require any intervention by the Supreme Court or the Court Administrator. (f) Direct, through the Clerk of Court, the undertaking of staff support activities to improve judiciary services in accordance with relevant existing issuances; (g) Initiate, propose, and supervise the implementation of professional development programs for judicial personnel that the Philippine Judicial Academy, in coordination with the Office of the Court Administrator, may undertake; (h) Exercise such other powers and prerogatives as may be necessary or incidental to the performance of their functions in relation to court administration; and (i) Perform such other functions and duties as may be assigned by the Supreme Court or the Court Administrator. the same is a mere reiteration of what has been in effect before said Circular. Administrative Order No. 6, which took effect on July 1, 1975, narrates the specific power, prerogative and duties of an executive judge. Portions pertinent to his duties with respect to lower level courts, read as follows: IV. Specific Powers, Prerogatives and Duties The specific powers, prerogatives and duties of the Executive Judge are as follows: 1. To investigate administrative complaints against Municipal and City Judges, and other court personnel within his administrative area; and to submit his findings and recommendations to the Supreme Court. ...

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10. To visit and inspect municipal and provincial jails and their prisoners as required by Section 1730 of the Revised Administrative Code and by applicable rules and regulations. ... 12. To designate, with immediate notice to the Supreme Court, the municipal judge to try cases in other municipalities within his area of administrative supervision, in case of absence or incapacity of the municipal judge concerned, which designation shall be effective immediately, unless revoked by the Supreme Court. 13. To assign, with the prior approval of the Chief Justice, Municipal and City Judges to hear and determine cadastral cases as provided by law. ... the executive judge has not been given any authority to interfere with the transfer of detainees in cases handled by other judges, be it of the first or second level; nor to grant hold-departure orders in cases not assigned to her sala. The powers of an executive judge relate only to those necessary or incidental to the performance of his/her functions in relation to court administration. Time and again the Court has adverted to the solemn obligation of judges to be very zealous in the discharge of their bounden duties. Nonetheless, the earnest efforts of judges to promote a speedy administration of justice must at all times be exercised with due recognition of the boundaries and limits of their jurisdiction or authority. Respondent's ardent determination to expedite the case and render prompt justice may be a noble objective but she did so in a manner which took away from the complainant MTC judge the initiative which by constitutional and legal mandates properly belongs to her. The Court agrees with the observations of the OCA that respondent should have conferred with complainant regarding the criminal cases and relayed her concerns to the latter, rather than precipitately issuing the assailed orders. The Court further notes that, contrary to respondent's allegation, complainant did not choose to simply ignore the pending motion to transfer but, in fact, promptly directed the Chief of Police to comment thereon. With regard to the hold-departure order, Circular No. 39-97 limits the authority to issue hold-departure orders to criminal cases within the jurisdiction of second level courts. 23 Criminal cases within the exclusive jurisdiction of first level courts do not fall within the ambit of the circular. It is logical to state that the criminal cases must be pending in the sala of the RTC concerned. In this case, at time of the issuance of the hold-departure order, the criminal cases were only in the preliminary investigation stage in the MTC to determine whether there is reasonable ground to believe that accused Eva Malihan is guilty of the offense charged and should be held for trial. Complainant Judge's findings had not yet been elevated to and reviewed by the provincial prosecutor. Respondent's issuance of the hold-departure order was therefore premature and clearly contravenes the mandate of Circular No. 39-97 proscribing the precipitate and indiscriminate issuance of hold-departure orders. All told, respondent's claim of good intention finds no convincing justification. The Court recognizes that not every judicial error bespeaks ignorance of the law and that, if committed in good faith, does not warrant administrative sanction, but only in cases within the parameters of tolerable misjudgment. Where, however, the procedure is so simple and the facts so evident as to be beyond permissible margins of error, to still err thereon amounts to ignorance of the law. 24 Considering the respondent's ten years of service as a judge, her judicial mind should have been tempered with the delicate intricacies of the law and procedure. Respondent's confusion between her administrative and judicial functions betrays the degree of her competency and displays her unfamiliarity with basic procedural rules. Respondent ought to have known the correct procedure to be followed in order to ensure proper administration of justice with due regard to her jurisdictional boundaries. She was bound to discharge her duties with competence, prudence, caution and attention inasmuch as she is a reflection of the entire judiciary.

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Thus, the Court finds the penalty of admonition and reprimand recommended by the OCA to be too lenient. Besides, the recent cases25 wherein the penalty of reprimand was imposed on erring judges for the issuance of holddeparture orders beyond the ambit of Circular 39-97 is not applicable because of the different circumstance in this case where respondent precipitately issued orders in criminal cases still undergoing preliminary investigation in the MTC. Under Section 8 of A.M. No. 01-8-10-SC amending Rule 140 of the Rules of Court on the Discipline of Justices and Judges, which took effect on October 1, 2001, gross ignorance of the law is classified as a serious charge which carries with it a penalty of either dismissal from service, suspension or a fine of more than P20,000.00 but not exceeding P40,000.00. However, considering that the incident took place on September 4, 2001 which is before A.M. No. 01-8-10-SC took effect, the Court finds that a fine of P5,000.00 is sufficient for unduly transferring the detainee and arrogating upon herself the authority to issue a hold-departure order. With regard to the Supplemental Complaint, the Court finds the recommendation of the OCA that the same should be incorporated with A.M. No. MTJ-01-1348 to be well-taken since it refers to an issue subject of said administrative case. WHEREFORE, respondent Judge Dolores L. Espaol is found guilty of Gross Ignorance of the Law and is FINED Five Thousand Pesos (P5,000.00) to be deducted from whatever retirement benefits due her. With regard to the supplemental complaint, the same is incorporated with A.M. No. MTJ-01-1348 entitled "Judge Dolores Espaol, et al. vs. Judge Lorinda T. Mupas." SO ORDERED. Puno, (Chairman), Quisumbing, Callejo, Sr., and Tinga, JJ., concur.

C. JURISDICTION DETERMINED BY THE ALLEGATIONS OF THE COMPLAINT 1. G.R. No. 167764 October 9, 2009 VICENTE FOZ, JR. and DANNY G. FAJARDO, Petitioners, vs. PEOPLE OF THE PHILIPPINES, Respondent. DECISION PERALTA, J.: Before the court is a petition for review on certiorari under Rule 45 of the Rules of Court assailing the Decision of the Court of Appeals (CA), Cebu City, dated November 24, 2004 in CA-G.R. CR No. 22522, which affirmed the Decision of the Regional Trial Court (RTC), Branch 23, Iloilo City, dated December 4, 1997 in Criminal Case No. 44527 finding 2 petitioners guilty beyond reasonable doubt of the crime of libel. Also assailed is the CA Resolution dated April 8, 2005 denying petitioners' motion for reconsideration. In an Information3 dated October 17, 1994 filed before the RTC of Iloilo City, petitioners Vicente Foz, Jr. and Danny G. Fajardo were charged with the crime of libel committed as follows: That on or about the 5th day of July, 1994 in the City of Iloilo, Philippines and within the jurisdiction of this court, both the accused as columnist and Editor-Publisher, respectively, of Panay News, a daily publication with a considerable circulation in the City of Iloilo and throughout the region, did then and there willfully, unlawfully and feloniously with malicious intent of impeaching the virtue, honesty, integrity and reputation of Dr. Edgar Portigo, a physician and medical practitioner in Iloilo City, and with the malicious intent of injuring and exposing said Dr. Edgar Portigo to public hatred, contempt and ridicule, write and publish in the regular issue of said daily publication on July 5, 1994, a certain article entitled "MEET DR. PORTIGO, COMPANY PHYSICIAN," quoted verbatim hereunder, to wit:
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MEET DR. PORTIGO, COMPANY PHYSICIAN PHYSICIAN (sic) are duly sworn to help to do all their best to promote the health of their patients. Especially if they are employed by a company to serve its employees. However, the opposite appears to be happening in the Local San Miguel Corporation office, SMC employees are fuming mad about their company physician, Dr. Portigo, because the latter is not doing well in his sworn obligation in looking after the health problems of employees, reports reaching Aim.. Fire say. One patient, Lita Payunan, wife of employee Wilfredo Payunan, and residing in Burgos, Lapaz, Iloilo City, has a sad tale to say about Dr. Portigo. Her story began September 19 last year when she felt ill and had to go to Dr. Portigo for consultation. The doctor put her under observation, taking seven months to conclude that she had rectum myoma and must undergo an operation. Subsequently, the family sought the services of a Dr. Celis and a Dr. de los Reyes at Doctor's Hospital. Incidentally, where Dr. Portigo also maintains a clinic. Dr. Portigo got angry, sources said, after knowing that the family chose a surgeon (Dr. Celis) on their own without his nod as he had one to recommend. Lita was operated by Dr. de los Reyes last March and was released from the hospital two weeks after. Later, however, she again complained of difficulty in urinating and defecating[. On] June 24, she was readmitted to the hospital. The second operation, done by Dr. Portigo's recommendee, was devastating to the family and the patient herself who woke to find out her anus and vagina closed and a hole with a catheter punched on her right side. This was followed by a bad news that she had cancer. Dr. Portigo recommended another operation, this time to bore another hole on the left side of Lita. But a Dr. Rivera to whom he made the referral frankly turned it down because it would only be a waste of money since the disease was already on the terminal state. The company and the family spent some P150,000.00 to pay for the wrong diagnosis of the company physician. My sympathy for Lita and her family. May the good Lord, Healer of all healers, be on your side, May the Healer of all healers likewise touch the conscience of physicians to remind them that their profession is no license for selfenrichment at the expense of the poor. But, sad to say, Lita passed away, July 2, 1994. Lita is not alone. Society is replete with similar experience where physicians treat their patients for profits. Where physicians prefer to act like agents of multinational corporations prescribing expensive drugs seen if there are equivalent drugs sold at the counter for much lower price. Yes, Lita, we also have hospitals, owned by a so-called charitable religious institutions and so-called civic groups, too greedy for profits. Instead of promoting baby-and mother-friendly practices which are cheaper and more effective, they still prefer the expensive yet unhealthy practices. The (sic) shun breast feeding and promote infant milk formula although mother's milk is many times cheaper and more nutrious (sic) than the brands they peddle. These hospitals separate newly born from their moms for days, conditioning the former to milk formula while at the same time stunting the mother's mammalia from manufacturing milk. Kadiri to death! My deepest sympathy to the bereaved family of Mrs. Lita Payunan who died July 2, 1994, Her body lies at the Payunan residence located at 236-G Burgos St., Lapaz, Iloilo City. May you rest in peace, Inday Lita. wherein said Dr. Portigo was portrayed as wanting in high sense of professional integrity, trust and responsibility expected of him as a physician, which imputation and insinuation as both accused knew were entirely false and

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malicious and without foundation in fact and therefore highly libelous, offensive and derogatory to the good name, character and reputation of the said Dr. Edgar Portigo. CONTRARY TO LAW.
4

Upon being arraigned5 on March 1, 1995, petitioners, assisted by counsel de parte, pleaded not guilty to the crime charged in the Information. Trial thereafter ensued. On December 4, 1997, the RTC rendered its Decision finding petitioners guilty as charged. The dispositive portion of the Decision reads: WHEREFORE, in the light of the facts obtaining and the jurisprudence aforecited, JUDGMENT is hereby rendered finding both accused Danny Fajardo and Vicente Foz, Jr. GUILTY BEYOND REASONABLE DOUBT for the crime of Libel defined in Article 353 and punishable under Article 355 of the Revised Penal Code, hereby sentencing aforenamed accused to suffer an indeterminate penalty of imprisonment of Three (3) Months and Eleven (11) Days of Arresto Mayor, as Minimum, to One (1) Year, Eight (8) Months and Twenty-One (21) Days of Prision Correccional, as 7 Maximum, and to pay a fine of P1,000.00 each. Petitioners' motion for reconsideration was denied in an Order dated February 20, 1998. Dissatisfied, petitioners filed an appeal with the CA. On November 24, 2004, the CA rendered its assailed Decision which affirmed in toto the RTC decision. Petitioners filed a motion for reconsideration, which the CA denied in a Resolution dated April 8, 2005. Hence, herein petition filed by petitioners based on the following grounds: I. THE COURT OF APPEALS ERRED IN FINDING THE SUBJECT ARTICLE "LIBELOUS" WITHIN THE MEANING AND INTENDMENT OF ARTICLE 353 OF THE REVISED PENAL CODE. II. THE COURT OF APPEALS ERRED IN FINDING THE EXISTENCE OF MALICE IN THIS CASE AND IN NOT FINDING THAT THE SUBJECT ARTICLE IS CONSTITUTIONALLY PROTECTED AS PRIVILEGED COMMUNICATIONS. III. THE COURT OF APPEALS ERRED IN AFFIRMING THE CONVICTION OF PETITIONER FAJARDO WHO HAPPENS TO BE MERELY PUBLISHER OF PANAY NEWS AND COULD NOT POSSIBLY SHARE ALL THE 9 OPINIONS OF THE NEWSPAPER'S OPINION COLUMNISTS. Petitioners argue that the CA erred in finding that the element of defamatory imputation was satisfied when petitioner Foz, as columnist, portrayed Dr. Portigo as an incompetent doctor and an opportunist who enriched himself at the expense of the poor. Petitioners pose the question of whether a newspaper opinion columnist, who sympathizes with a patient and her family and expresses the family's outrage in print, commits libel when the columnist criticizes the doctor's competence or lack of it, and such criticism turns out to be lacking in basis if not entirely false. Petitioners claim that the article was written in good faith in the belief that it would serve the public good. They contend that the CA erred in finding the existence of malice in the publication of the article; that no malice in law or actual malice was proven by the prosecution; and that the article was printed pursuant to the bounden duty of the press to report matters of public interest. Petitioners further contend that the subject article was an opinion column, which was the columnists exclusive views; and that petitioner Fajardo, as the editor and publisher of Panay News, did not have to share those views and should not be held responsible for the crime of libel. The Solicitor General filed his Comment, alleging that only errors of law are reviewable by this Court in a petition for review on certiorari under Rule 45; that petitioners are raising a factual issue, i.e., whether or not the element of malice required in every indictment for libel was established by the prosecution, which would require the weighing anew of the evidence already passed upon by the CA and the RTC; and that factual findings of the CA, affirming those of the RTC, are accorded finality, unless there appears on records some facts or circumstance of weight which
8 6

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the court may have overlooked, misunderstood or misappreciated, and which, if properly considered, may alter the result of the case a situation that is not, however, obtaining in this case. In their Reply, petitioners claim that the first two issues presented in their petition do not require the evaluation of evidence submitted in court; that malice, as an element of libel, has always been discussed whenever raised as an issue via a petition for review on certiorari. Petitioners raise for the first time the issue that the information charging them with libel did not contain allegations sufficient to vest jurisdiction in the RTC of Iloilo City. The Court finds that the threshold issue for resolution is whether or not the RTC of Iloilo City, Branch 23, had jurisdiction over the offense of libel as charged in the Information dated October 17, 1994. The Court notes that petitioners raised for the first time the issue of the RTC's jurisdiction over the offense charged only in their Reply filed before this Court and finds that petitioners are not precluded from doing so. In Fukuzume v. People,10 the Court ruled: It is noted that it was only in his petition with the CA that Fukuzume raised the issue of the trial courts jurisdiction over the offense charged. Nonetheless, the rule is settled that an objection based on the ground that the court lacks jurisdiction over the offense charged may be raised or considered motu proprio by the court at any stage of the proceedings or on appeal. Moreover, jurisdiction over the subject matter in a criminal case cannot be conferred upon the court by the accused, by express waiver or otherwise, since such jurisdiction is conferred by the sovereign authority which organized the court, and is given only by law in the manner and form prescribed by law. While an exception to this rule was recognized by this Court beginning with the landmark case of Tijam vs. Sibonghanoy, wherein the defense of lack of jurisdiction by the court which rendered the questioned ruling was considered to be barred by laches, we find that the factual circumstances involved in said case, a civil case, which justified the 11 departure from the general rule are not present in the instant criminal case. The Court finds merit in the petition. Venue in criminal cases is an essential element of jurisdiction. The Court held in Macasaet v. People12 that: It is a fundamental rule that for jurisdiction to be acquired by courts in criminal cases the offense should have been committed or any one of its essential ingredients took place within the territorial jurisdiction of the court. Territorial jurisdiction in criminal cases is the territory where the court has jurisdiction to take cognizance or to try the offense allegedly committed therein by the accused. Thus, it cannot take jurisdiction over a person charged with an offense allegedly committed outside of that limited territory. Furthermore, the jurisdiction of a court over the criminal case is determined by the allegations in the complaint or information. And once it is so shown, the court may validly take cognizance of the case. However, if the evidence adduced during the trial show that the offense was committed somewhere else, the court should dismiss the action for want of jurisdiction. (Emphasis supplied.) 13 Article 360 of the Revised Penal Code, as amended by Republic Act No. 4363, provides the specific rules as to the venue in cases of written defamation, to wit: Article 360. Persons responsible.Any person who shall publish, exhibit or cause the publication or exhibition of any defamation in writing or by similar means, shall be responsible for the same. The author or editor of a book or pamphlet, or the editor or business manager of a daily newspaper, magazine or serial publication, shall be responsible for the defamations contained therein to the same extent as if he were the author thereof. The criminal action and civil action for damages in cases of written defamations, as provided for in this chapter shall be filed simultaneously or separately with the court of first instance of the province or city where the libelous article is printed and first published or where any of the offended parties actually resides at the time of the commission of the offense: Provided, however, That where one of the offended parties is a public officer whose office is in the City of Manila at the time of the commission of the offense, the action shall be filed in the Court of First Instance of the City of Manila or of the city or province where the libelous article is printed and first published, and in case such public officer does not hold office in the City of Manila, the action shall be filed in the Court of First Instance of the province or city where he held office at the time of the commission of the offense or where the libelous article is

26
printed and first published and in case one of the offended parties is a private individual, the action shall be filed in the Court of First Instance of the province or city where he actually resides at the time of the commission of the offense or where the libelous matter is printed and first published x x x. (Emphasis supplied.) In Agbayani v. Sayo,
14

the rules on venue in Article 360 were restated as follows:

1. Whether the offended party is a public official or a private person, the criminal action may be filed in the Court of First Instance of the province or city where the libelous article is printed and first published. 2. If the offended party is a private individual, the criminal action may also be filed in the Court of First Instance of the province where he actually resided at the time of the commission of the offense. 3. If the offended party is a public officer whose office is in Manila at the time of the commission of the offense, the action may be filed in the Court of First Instance of Manila. 4. If the offended party is a public officer holding office outside of Manila, the action may be filed in the Court of First 15 Instance of the province or city where he held office at the time of the commission of the offense. Applying the foregoing law to this case, since Dr. Portigo is a private individual at the time of the publication of the alleged libelous article, the venue of the libel case may be in the province or city where the libelous article was printed and first published, or in the province where Dr. Portigo actually resided at the time of the commission of the offense. The relevant portion of the Information for libel filed in this case which for convenience the Court quotes again, to wit: That on or about the 5th day of July, 1994 in the City of Iloilo, Philippines and within the jurisdiction of this court, both the accused as columnists and Editor-Publisher, respectively, of Panay News, a daily publication with a considerable circulation in the City of Iloilo and throughout the region, did then and there willfully, unlawfully and feloniously with malicious intent of impeaching the virtue, honesty, integrity and reputation of Dr. Edgar Portigo, a physician and medical practitioner in Iloilo City, and with the malicious intent of injuring and exposing said Dr. Edgar Portigo to public hatred, contempt and ridicule, write and publish in the regular issue of said daily publication on July 5, 1994, a certain article entitled "MEET DR. PORTIGO, COMPANY PHYSICIAN...." The allegations in the Information that "Panay News, a daily publication with a considerable circulation in the City of Iloilo and throughout the region" only showed that Iloilo was the place where Panay News was in considerable circulation but did not establish that the said publication was printed and first published in Iloilo City. In Chavez v. Court of Appeals,16 which involved a libel case filed by a private individual with the RTC of Manila, a portion of the Information of which reads: That on or about March 1995, in the City of Manila, Philippines, the said accused [Baskinas and Manapat] conspiring and confederating with others whose true names, real identities and present whereabouts are still unknown and helping one another, with malicious intent of impeaching the honesty, virtue, character and reputation of one FRANCISCO I. CHAVEZ, former Solicitor General of the Philippines, and with the evident purpose of injuring and exposing him to public ridicule, hatred and contempt, did then and there willfully, unlawfully and maliciously cause to be published in "Smart File," a magazine of general circulation in Manila, and in their respective capacity as Editor-inChief and Author-Reporter, ....17 the Court ruled that the Information did not sufficiently vest jurisdiction in the RTC of Manila to hear the libel charge in consonance with Article 360. The Court made the following disquisition: x x x Still, a perusal of the Information in this case reveals that the word "published" is utilized in the precise context of noting that the defendants "cause[d] to be published in 'Smart File', a magazine of general circulation in Manila." The Information states that the libelous articles were published in Smart File, and not that they were published in Manila. The place "Manila" is in turn employed to situate where Smart File was in general circulation, and not where the libel was published or first printed. The fact that Smart File was in general circulation in Manila does not necessarily establish that it was published and first printed in Manila, in the same way that while leading national dailies such as the Philippine Daily Inquirer or the Philippine Star are in general circulation in Cebu, it does not mean that these newspapers are published and first printed in Cebu. 1avvphi1

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Indeed, if we hold that the Information at hand sufficiently vests jurisdiction in Manila courts since the publication is in general circulation in Manila, there would be no impediment to the filing of the libel action in other locations where Smart File is in general circulation. Using the example of the Inquirer or the Star, the granting of this petition would allow a resident of Aparri to file a criminal case for libel against a reporter or editor in Jolo, simply because these newspapers are in general circulation in Jolo. Such a consequence is precisely what Rep. Act No. 4363 sought to 18 avoid. In Agustin v. Pamintuan, which also involved a libel case filed by a private individual, the Acting General Manager of the Baguio Country Club, with the RTC of Baguio City where the Information therein alleged that the libelous article was "published in the Philippine Daily Inquirer, a newspaper of general circulation in the City of Baguio and the entire Philippines," the Court did not consider the Information sufficient to show that Baguio City was the venue of the printing and first publication of the alleged libelous article. Article 360 of the Revised Penal Code as amended provides that a private individual may also file the libel case in the RTC of the province where he actually resided at the time of the commission of the offense. The Information filed against petitioners failed to allege the residence of Dr. Portigo. While the Information alleges that "Dr. Edgar Portigo is a physician and medical practitioner in Iloilo City," such allegation did not clearly and positively indicate that he was actually residing in Iloilo City at the time of the commission of the offense. It is possible that Dr. Portigo was actually residing in another place. Again, in Agustin v. Pamintuan,20 where the Information for libel alleged that the "offended party was the Acting General Manager of the Baguio Country Club and of good standing and reputation in the community," the Court did not find such allegation sufficient to establish that the offended party was actually residing in Baguio City. The Court explained its ruling in this wise: The residence of a person is his personal, actual or physical habitation or his actual residence or place of abode provided he resides therein with continuity and consistency; no particular length of time of residence is required. However, the residence must be more than temporary. The term residence involves the idea of something beyond a transient stay in the place; and to be a resident, one must abide in a place where he had a house therein. To create a residence in a particular place, two fundamental elements are essential: The actual bodily presence in the place, combined with a freely exercised intention of remaining there permanently or for an indefinite time. While it is possible that as the Acting General Manager of the Baguio Country Club, the petitioner may have been actually residing in Baguio City, the Informations did not state that he was actually residing therein when the alleged crimes were committed. It is entirely possible that the private complainant may have been actually residing in another place. One who transacts business in a place and spends considerable time thereat does not render such person a resident therein. Where one may have or own a business does not of itself constitute residence within the meaning of the 21 statute. Pursuit of business in a place is not conclusive of residence there for purposes of venue. Settled is the rule that jurisdiction of a court over a criminal case is determined by the allegations of the complaint or information, and the offense must have been committed or any one of its essential ingredients took place within the territorial jurisdiction of the court. 22 Considering that the Information failed to allege the venue requirements for a libel case under Article 360, the Court finds that the RTC of Iloilo City had no jurisdiction to hear this case. Thus, its decision convicting petitioners of the crime of libel should be set aside for want of jurisdiction without prejudice to its filing with the court of competent jurisdiction. WHEREFORE, the petition is GRANTED. The Decision dated November 24, 2004 and the Resolution dated April 8, 2005 of the Court of Appeals in CA-G.R. CR No. 22522 are SET ASIDE on the ground of lack of jurisdiction on the part of the Regional Trial Court, Branch 23, Iloilo City. Criminal Case No. 44527 is DISMISSED without prejudice. SO ORDERED.
19

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D. CREATION OF THE SANDIGANBAYAN 1. SECTION 4, ART. XI OF THE 1987 CONSTITUTION The present anti-graft court known as the Sandiganbayan shall continue to function and exercise its jurisdiction as now or hereafter may be provided by law. 2. P.D. 1486 DATED JUNE 11, 1978 CREATING A SPECIAL COURT TO BE KNOWN AS "SANDIGANBAYAN" AND FOR OTHER PURPOSES WHEREAS, the New Constitution declares that a public office is a public trust and ordains that public officers and employees shall serve with the highest degree of responsibility, integrity, loyalty and efficiency and shall remain at all times accountable to the people; WHEREAS, to attain the highest norms of official conduct required of public officers and employees, Section 5, Article XIII of the New Constitution provides for the creation of a special court to be known as Sandiganbayan; NOW, THEREFORE, I, FERDINAND E. MARCOS, President of the Philippines, by virtue of the powers in me vested by the Constitution and pursuant to Proclamation No. 1081, dated September 21, 1972, do hereby order and decree as follows: Section 1. Sandiganbayan; Composition; Qualifications; tenure; removal and compensation. A special court, possessing all the inherent powers of a court of justice, to be known as the Sandiganbayan is hereby created composed of a Presiding Judge and eight (8) Associate Judges who shall be appointed by the President and shall be subject to the same inhibitions and/or disqualifications as judges of courts of first instance. No person shall be appointed Presiding Judge or Associate Judge of the Sandiganbayan, unless he is a natural-born citizen of the Philippines, at least 40 years of age and for at least ten (10) years or more had been a judge of a court of record or been engaged in the practice of law in the Philippines or has held office requiring admission to the bar as a prerequisite for a like period. The Presiding Judge shall be so designated in his commission and the other judges shall have precedence according to the dates of their respective commissions, or when the commissions of two (2) or more of them shall hear the same date, according to the order in which their commissions have been issued by the President. The Presiding Judge and the Associate Judges shall not be removed from office except on impeachment upon the grounds and in the manner provided for in Sections 2 and 3 of Article III of the 1973 Constitution. The Presiding Judge shall receive an annual compensation of P60,000.00 and each Associate Judge P50,000.00 which shall not be diminished during their continuance in office. They shall hold office until they reach the age of 65 years or become incapacitated to discharge the duties of their office. Section 2. Official Station; Place of Holding Sessions. The Sandiganbayan shall have its principal office in the Metro Manila Area; Provided, however, that the Presiding Judge may authorize any division or divisions of the court to hold sessions at any time and place outside Metro Manila to hear and decide cases emanating from any of the existing judicial districts. Whenever necessary, the Sandiganbayan may require the services of the personnel and the use of the facilities of any agency of the Government, national or local, including the courts of first instance of the province where any of the divisions is holding session and those personnel of such agencies or courts shall be subject to the order of the Sandiganbayan. Section 3. Quorum. Five judges shall constitute a quorum for sessions en banc, and two judges for sessions in division; Provided, that when a quorum and/or the majority required for a decision of the Sandiganbayan either en

29
banc or in division, or the trial or hearing of cases cannot be had due to the legal disqualification or temporary disability of a judge or of a vacancy occurring therein, the President shall, upon recommendation of the Presiding Judge, designate any judge of the court of first instance or of the circuit criminal court of the judicial district concerned to sit temporarily therein. The Sandiganbayan shall, as a body, sit en banc but it may sit in three (3) divisions of three (3) judges each. The three (3) divisions may sit at the same time. If the Presiding Judge is present in any session of the court, whether en banc or in division, he shall preside. In his absence the Associate Judge attending who is first in precedence shall preside. Section 4. Jurisdiction. Except as herein provided, the Sandiganbayan shall have original and exclusive jurisdiction to try and decide: (a) Violations of Republic Act No. 3019, as amended, otherwise known as the Anti-Graft and Corrupt Practices Act and Republic Act No. 1379; (b) Crimes committed by public officers or employees, including those employed in government- owned or controlled corporations, embraced in Title VII of the Revised Penal Code; (c) Other crimes or offenses committed by public officers or employees including those employed in governmentowned or controlled corporations in relation to their office; Provided, that, in case private individuals are accused as principals, accomplices or accessories in the commission of the crimes hereinabove mentioned, they shall be tried jointly with the public officers or employees concerned. Where the accused is charged of an offense in relation to his office and the evidence is insufficient to establish the offense so charged, he may nevertheless be convicted and sentenced for the offense included in that which is charged. (d) Civil suits brought in connection with the aforementioned crimes for restitution or reparation of damages, recovery of the instruments and effects of the crimes, or forfeiture proceedings provided for under Republic Act No. 1379; (e) Civil actions brought under Articles 32 and 34 of the Civil Code. Exception from the foregoing provisions during the period of material law are criminal cases against officers and members of the Armed Forces of the Philippines, and all others who fall under the exclusive jurisdiction of the military tribunals. Section 5. Proceedings against constitutional officers; votes required. All cases involving constitutional officers shall be heard and decided by the Sandiganbayan en banc; Provided, that when a non-constitutional officer or employee or private individual is charged or sued jointly with a constitutional officer under Section 4 hereof, they shall all be tried jointly by the Sandiganbayan en banc. All other cases may be tried and decided by a division. The affirmative vote of five (5) judges is necessary for a decision of the Sandiganbayan en banc. The affirmative vote of two judges in a division shall be necessary for the promulgation of a judgment. Section 6. Maximum period for termination of cases. As far as practicable, the trial of cases before the Sandiganbayan en banc or in division once commenced shall be continuous until terminated and the judgment en banc or in division shall be rendered within three (3) months from the date the case was submitted for decision. Section 7. Form, finality and enforcement of decisions; petitions for reconsideration. Decisions and final orders of the Sandiganbayan shall contain complete findings of fact on all issues properly raised before it. Decisions and final orders en banc shall be subject to review by the Supreme Court in accordance with Rule 45 of the Rules of Court; and those of a division shall be appealable under Rule 42 thereof. The Supreme Court shall hear and decide any case on appeal promptly and without the necessity of placing it upon the regular calendar. Whenever, in any case decided by the Sandiganbayan en banc or by a division thereof, the death penalty of life imprisonment shall have

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been imposed, the records shall be forwarded to the Supreme Court whether the accused shall have appealed or not, for review and judgment, as law and justice shall dictate. Any party may file a petition for reconsideration of any order or decision of the Sandiganbayan en banc or in division within fifteen (15) days from receipt of a certified copy of such order or decision and such petition for reconsideration shall be decided by the Sandiganbayan en banc or in division, as the case may be, within thirty (30) days from submission thereof. Final judgments and orders of the Sandiganbayan en banc or in division shall be executed and enforced in the manner provided for in the Rules of Court. Section 8. Transfer of cases. All cases cognizable by the Sandiganbayan as herein provided, the trial of which had not yet commenced in the trial courts as of the date of its organization shall be transferred to the Sandiganbayan, except those cases filed in the military tribunals and those cases against military personnel which shall remain in the military tribunals. Section 9. Authority over internal affairs. The Sandiganbayan shall administer its own internal affairs and may adopt such rules governing the constitution of its divisions, the allocation of cases among them, the rotation of judges and other matters relating to its business. Section 10. Proceedings free of charge; premature publicity prohibited. All proceedings in the Sandiganbayan en banc or in division shall be conducted at no cost to the complainant and/or his witnesses. No criminal complaint shall be given due course by the Sandiganbayan except upon a certification by the Chief Special Prosecutor of the existence of probable cause to be determined after a preliminary investigation conducted in accordance with existing laws. No publicity shall be allowed during the pendency of such preliminary investigation and the name of the complainant and the accused shall not be made public until after an information is field with the Sandiganbayan. Section 11. Administrative Personnel. Upon recommendation of the Sandiganbayan, the Supreme Court may designate, from among the officers and employees under it, or appoint the personnel necessary for the Sandiganbayan, including a Clerk of Court and three (3) Deputy Clerks of Court; Provided, however, that those designated shall not receive additional compensation, except per diems, traveling and necessary expenses in accordance with existing laws and rules. The Clerk of Court shall have an annual compensation of P23,000.00, and the deputy clerks of court, P18,000.00. The Clerk of Court and deputy clerks of court shall at least be members of the bar. All subordinate employees of the Sandiganbayan shall be governed by the provisions of the Civil Service Law; Provided, that the Sandiganbayan may, by resolution en banc, remove any of them for cause. Section 12. Office of the Chief Special Prosecutor. The provisions of any law or rule to the contrary notwithstanding, the direction and control of the prosecution of cases mentioned in Section 4 hereof, shall be exercised by a Chief Special Prosecutor who shall be assisted by one (1) Assistant Chief Special Prosecutor and nine (9) Special Prosecutors who shall be appointed by the President. The Chief Special Prosecutor shall have annual compensation of P30,000.00, the Assistant Chief Special Prosecutor of P28,000.00 and the Special Prosecutors of P24,000.00 which shall not be diminished during their continuance in office. The Chief Special Prosecutor, the Assistant Chief and the Special Prosecutors shall have exclusive authority to conduct preliminary investigations of all complaints filed with the Sandiganbayan, to file information and conduct the prosecution of all cases; Provided, that the Secretary of Justice may designate any lawyer in the government service as special prosecutor or special counsel to assist the Chief Special Prosecutor in conducting preliminary investigations and prosecuting cases before the Sandiganbayan. The Chief Special Prosecutor, Assistant Chief Special Prosecutor and Special Prosecutors mentioned in the preceding paragraph shall have the authority to administer oaths, to issue subpoena and subpoena duces tecum, summon and compel witnesses to appear and testify under oath before them and to bring books, documents or other things under their control and to secure the attendance or presence of any absent or recalcitrant witness through

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application before the Sandiganbayan en banc or in division or before any inferior or superior court having jurisdiction of the place where the witness or evidence may be found. The Chief Special Prosecutor and his assistants shall be under the control of the Secretary of Justice. Section 13. Office of Special Investigators. To assist the Chief Special Prosecutor in the performance of his duties, the Secretary of Justice may, upon the recommendation of the Chief Special Prosecutor, appoint such number of Special Investigators and subordinate personnel as may be deemed necessary therefor and/or detail to the Office of the Chief Special Prosecutor any officer or employee of the Department of Justice or any Bureau or Office under the executive supervision thereof; Provided, that those designated shall not receive additional compensation except per diems, traveling and necessary expenses in accordance with existing law and rules. The Office of Special Investigators shall be under the Chief Special Prosecutor. The appointment of Special Investigators and subordinate personnel therein shall be subject to Civil Service Law and Rules. "The Sandiganbayan may, upon proper, request of the Chief Special Prosecutor, require the assistance and services of any Department, Agency, or Bureau of the government. Section 14. Report to the President. The Sandiganbayan shall submit an annual report to the President including all disbursements of funds entrusted to it within two months from the end of the Fiscal Year. Section 15. Funding. There is hereby immediately appropriated out of any funds in the National Treasury not otherwise appropriated, such sums as may be necessary to carry out the provisions of this Decree and thereafter to be included in the general appropriation act. The appropriations for the Sandiganbayan shall be automatically released in accordance with a schedule submitted by the Sandiganbayan. Section 16. Repealing Clause. Any provision of law, order, rule or regulation inconsistent with the provisions of this Decree is hereby repealed or modified accordingly. Section 17. Effectivity. This Decree shall be part of the laws of the land and shall take effect immediately. Done in the City of Manila, this 11th day of June, in the year of Our Lord, nineteen hundred and seventy-eight.

3.

P.D. 1606 DATED DECEMBER 10, 1978 REVISING PRESIDENTIAL DECREE NO. 1486 CREATING A SPECIAL COURT TO BE KNOWN AS "SANDIGANBAYAN" AND FOR OTHER PURPOSES WHEREAS, the new Constitution declares that a public office is a public trust and ordains that public officers and employees shall serve with the highest degree of responsibility, integrity, loyalty and efficiency and shall remain at all times accountable to the people; WHEREAS, to attain the highest norms of official conduct required of public officers and employees, Section 5, Article XIII of the New Constitution provides for the creation of a special court to be known as Sandiganbayan; NOW, THEREFORE, I, FERDINAND E. MARCOS, President of the Philippines, by virtue of the powers in me vested by the Constitution, do hereby order and decree as follows: Section 1. Sandiganbayan; composition; qualifications; tenure; removal and composition. A special court, of the same level as the Court of Appeals and possessing all the inherent powers of a court of justice, to be known as the Sandiganbayan is hereby created composed of a Presiding Justice and eight Associate Justices who shall be appointed by the President. No person shall be appointed Presiding Justice or Associate Justice of the Sandiganbayan; unless he is a naturalborn citizen of the Philippines, at least 40 years of age and for at least ten years has been a judge of a court of record

32
or been engaged in the practice of law in the Philippines or has held office requiring admission to the bar as a prerequisite for a like period. The Presiding Justice shall be so designated in his commission and the other Justices shall have precedence according to the dates of their respective commissions, or, when the commissions of two or more of them shall bear the same date, according to the order in which their commissions have been issued by the President. The Presiding Justice and the Associate Justices shall not be removed from office except on impeachment upon the grounds and in the manner provided for in Sections 2, 3 and 4 of Article XIII of the 1973 Constitution. The Presiding Justice shall receive an annual compensation of P60,000.00 and each Associate Justice P55,000.00 which shall not be diminished during their continuance in office. They shall have the same rank, privileges and other emoluments, be subject to the same inhibitions and disqualifications, and enjoy the same retirement and other benefits as those provided for under existing laws of the Presiding Justice and Associate Justices of the Court of Appeals. Whenever the salaries of the Presiding Justice and the Associate Justices of the Court of Appeals are increased, such increases in salaries shall be correspondingly extended to and enjoyed by the Presiding Justice and the Associate Justices of the Sandiganbayan. They shall hold office until they reach the age of 65 years or become incapacitated to discharge the duties of their office. Section 2. Official Station; Place of Holding Sessions. The Sandiganbayan shall have its principal office in the Metro Manila area and shall hold sessions thereat for the trial and determination of all cases filed with it irrespective of the place where they may have arisen; Provided, however, that the Presiding Justice may authorize any division or divisions of court to hold sessions at any time and place outside Metro Manila to hear and decide cases emanating from any of the existing judicial districts. Whenever necessary, the Sandiganbayan may require the services of the personnel and the use of the facilities of any agency of the Government, national or local, including the courts of first instance of the province where any of the divisions is holding session, and those personnel of such agencies or courts shall be subject to the orders of the Sandiganbayan. Section 3. Divisions of the Courts; Quorum. The Sandiganbayan shall sit in three divisions of three Justices each. The three divisions may sit at the same time. Three Justices shall constitute a quorum for session in division; Provided, that when the required quorum cannot be had due to the legal disqualification or temporary disability of a Justice or of a vacancy occurring therein, the President shall, upon recommendation of the Presiding Justice, designate any Justice of the Court of Appeals or Judge of the Court of First Instance or of the Circuit Criminal Court of the judicial district concerned to sit temporarily therein. Section 4. Jurisdiction. The Sandiganbayan shall have jurisdiction over: (a) Violations of Republic Act No. 3019, as amended, otherwise, known as the Anti-Graft and Corrupt Practices Act, and Republic Act No. 1379; (b) Crimes committed by public officers and employees including those employed in government-owned or controlled corporations, embraced in Title VII of the Revised Penal Code, whether simple or complexed with other crimes; and (c) Other crimes or offenses committed by public officers or employees, including those employed in governmentowned or controlled corporations, in relation to their office. The jurisdiction herein conferred shall be original and exclusive if the offense charged is punishable by a penalty higher than prision correccional, or its equivalent, except as herein provided; in other offenses, it shall be concurrent with the regular courts.

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In case private individuals are charged as co-principals, accomplices or accessories with the public officers or employees including those employed in government-owned or controlled corporations, they shall be tried jointly with said public officers and employees. Where an accused is tried for any of the above offenses and the evidence is insufficient to establish the offense charged, he may nevertheless be convicted and sentenced for the offense proved, included in that which is charged. Any provision of law or the Rules of Court to the contrary notwithstanding, the criminal action and the corresponding civil action for the recovery of civil liability arising from the offense charged shall at all times be simultaneously instituted with, and jointly determined in the same proceeding by, the Sandiganbayan, the filing of the criminal action being deemed to necessarily carry with it the filing of the civil action, and no right to reserve the filing of such action shall be recognized; Provided, however, that, in cases within the exclusive jurisdiction of the Sandiganbayan, where the civil action had therefore been filed separately with a regular court but judgment therein has not yet been rendered and the criminal case is hereafter filed with the Sandiganbayan, said civil action shall be transferred to the Sandiganbayan for consolidation and joint determination with the criminal action, otherwise, the criminal action may no longer be filed with the Sandiganbayan, its exclusive jurisdiction over the same notwithstanding, but may be filed and prosecuted only in the regular courts of competent jurisdiction; Provided, further, that, in cases within the concurrent jurisdiction of the Sandiganbayan and the regular courts, where either the criminal or civil action is first filed with the regular courts, the corresponding civil or criminal action, as the case may be, shall only be filed with the regular courts of competent jurisdiction. Excepted from the foregoing provisions, during martial law, are criminal cases against officers and members of the armed forces in the active service. Section 5. Proceedings, how conducted; votes required. The unanimous vote of the three justices in a division shall be necessary for the pronouncement of a judgment. In the event that the three justices do not reach a unanimous vote, the Presiding Judge shall designate two other justices from among the members of the Court to sit temporarily with them, forming a division of five justices, and the concurrence of a majority of such division shall be necessary for rendering judgment. Section 6. Maximum period for termination of cases. As far as practicable, the trial of cases before the Sandiganbayan once commenced shall be continuos until terminated and the judgment shall be rendered within three (3) months from the date the case was submitted for decision. Section 7. Form, finality and enforcement of decisions. Decisions and final orders of the Sandiganbayan shall contain complete findings of facts on all issues properly raised before it. A petition for reconsideration of any final order or decision maybe filed within (15) days from promulgation or notice of the final order or judgment, and such petition for reconsideration shall be decided within thirty (30) days from submission thereon. Decisions and final orders shall be subject to review on certiorari by the Supreme Court in accordance with Rule 45 of the Rules of Court. The Supreme Court shall decide any case on appeal promptly and without the necessity of placing it upon the regular calendar. Whenever, in any case decided, the death penalty shall have been imposed, the records shall be forwarded to the Supreme Court, whether the accused shall have appealed or not, for review and judgment, as law and justice shall dictate. Final judgments and orders of the Sandiganbayan shall be executed and enforced in the manner provided by law. Section 8. Transfer of cases. As of the date of the effectivity of this decree, any case cognizable by the Sandiganbayan within its exclusive jurisdiction where none of the accused has been arraigned shall be transferred to the Sandiganbayan. Section 9. Rule-making Power. The Sandiganbayan shall have the power to promulgate its own rules of procedure and, pending such promulgation, the Rules of Court shall govern its proceedings.

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Section 10. Authority over internal affairs. The Sandiganbayan shall administer its own internal affairs and may adopt such rules governing the constitution of its divisions, the allocation of cases among them, the rotation of justices and other matters relating to its business. Section 11. Proceeding free of charge. All proceedings in the Sandiganbayan shall be conducted at no cost to the complainant and/or his witnesses. No criminal information or complaint shall be entertained by the Sandiganbayan except upon a certification by the Investigating Prosecutor of the existence of a prima facie case to be determined after a preliminary investigation conducted in accordance with applicable laws and approved by the Chief Special Prosecutor. Section 12. Administrative personnel. The Sandiganbayan shall reelect and appoint such personnel as it may deem necessary to discharge its functions under this Decree including a Clerk of Court and three (3) Deputy Clerks of Court who shall be members of the Bar. The Clerk of Court shall have an annual compensation of P36,000.00 and the Deputy Clerks of Court, P30,000.00. All other subordinate employees of the Sandiganbayan shall be governed by the provisions of the Civil Service Law; Provided, that the Sandiganbayan may, by resolution en banc, remove any of them for cause. Section 13. Report to the President. The Sandiganbayan shall submit an annual report to the President, including all disbursements of funds entrusted to it, within two months from the end of the Fiscal Year. Section 14. Funding. There is hereby immediately appropriated the sum of Five Million Pesos (P5,000.00) out of any funds in the National Treasury to carry out the provisions of this Decree and thereafter to be included in the general appropriations act. The appropriations for the Sandiganbayan shall be automatically released in accordance with a schedule submitted by the Sandiganbayan. Section 15. Separability of Provisions. If for any reason, any section or provision of this Decree is declared to be unconstitutional or invalid, other sections or provisions thereof which are not affected thereby, shall continue in full force and effect. Section 16. Repealing Clause. This Decree hereby repeals Presidential Decree No. 1486 and all other provisions of law, General Orders, Presidential Decrees, Letters of Instructions, rules or regulations inconsistent herewith. Section 17. Effectivity. This Decree shall take effect immediately. Done in the City of Manila, this 10th day of December, in the year of Our Lord, nineteen hundred and seventy-eight.

RULES OF THE SANDIGANBAYAN Pursuant to the provisions of Section 5 of Article XIII of the Constitution of the Philippines, as implemented by Presidential Decree No. 1606, the Sandiganbayan hereby adopts and promulgates the following rules to govern the conduct of its business. RULE I TITLE AND CONSTRUCTION Section 1. Title of the Rules. These Rules shall be known and cited as the Rules of the Sandiganbayan. Section 2. Construction. These Rules shall be liberally construed in order to promote their objectives and to achieve a just, expeditious and inexpensive determination of every action and proceeding before the Sandiganbayan. RULE II

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CONTROL OF FUNCTIONS AND SUCCESSION Section 1. Exclusive Control. Except as otherwise provided by the Constitution and Presidential Decree No. 1606, the Sandiganbayan shall have exclusive control, direction and supervision of all matters pertaining to its internal affairs and the operation of its business. Section 2. Succession in the Office of the Presiding Justice. In case of vacancy in the position of Presiding Justice of the Sandiganbayan or his temporary incapacity to exercise the powers and perform the duties of his office, the same shall devolve upon the qualified most senior Associate Justices until such incapacity is removed or another Presiding Justice is appointed and has duly qualified. RULE III COMPOSITION OF DIVISIONS Section 1. How Divisions Constituted. The Sandiganbayan shall consist of three divisions which shall be known as the First Division, Second Division, and Third Division, and shall each be composed of Presiding Justice and the first two Associate Justices in the order of precedence as the respective Chairmen; the next three Associate Justices in the order of precedence as the respective senior members; and the last three Associate Justices in the order of precedence as the respective junior members. However, until the entire complement of the Sandiganbayan shall have been appointed and qualified, the Presiding justice and the two Associate Justices first appointed and qualified shall constitute the First Division. Section 2. Vacancy; How Filled. In case of any vacancy in the composition of a division, whether permanent or temporary, the Presiding Justice may designate an Associate Justice of the Court, to be determined by strict rotation on the basis of the reverse order of precedence, to sit as a special member of said division with all the rights and prerogatives of a regular member of said division in the trial and determination of cases assigned thereto, unless the operation of the other divisions of the Court will be prejudiced thereby, in which case, the procedure provided in Section 3, Rule VIII of these Rules shall apply. RULE IV FILING OF CASES Section 1. Proceedings Free of Charge. All proceedings in the Sandiganbayan be conducted at no cost to the complainant and/or his witnesses. Section 2. Preliminary Investigation Necessary. No criminal information or complaint shall be entertained by the Sandiganbayan except upon a certification by the investigating Prosecutor of the existence of a prima facie case to be determined after a preliminary investigation conducted in accordance with applicable laws and approved by the Chief Special Prosecutor. Section 3. Where Cases Filed. All cases to be filed with the Sandiganbayan shall be filed with the Office of the Clerk of Court of the Sandiganbayan which shall be open for the purpose of receiving complaints, information, motions and the like from eight to twelve o'clock in the morning and twelve thirty to four-thirty o'clock in the afternoon, on Mondays to Fridays, except on public or special holidays. RULE V DISTRIBUTION AND CONSOLIDATION OF CASES Section 1. Distribution of Cases. All cases filed with the Sandiganbayan shall be allotted among the three divisions for hearing and decision by raffle to be conducted by a Raffle Committee composed of the Presiding Justice and the two most senior Associate Justices available, on such days as may hereafter be fixed by the Presiding Justice depending upon the need for such raffle to be made in view of the number of cases filed, with notice to the interested parties who may, if they so desire, be present therein by themselves or through counsel. Section 2. Consolidation of Cases. Cases arising from the same incident on series of incidents, or involving common questions of fact and law, may, in the discretion of Sandiganbayan, be consolidated in only one division. Should the propriety of such consolidation appear upon the filing of the cases concerned and before they are raffled, all such

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cases shall be considered as one case for purposes of the raffle; but, should the propriety of such consolidation may be affected upon motion of an interested party filed with the division taking cognizance of the case to be consolidated and, if granted, consolidation shall be made in the division before which the case with the lowest number is pending. In either case, the division in which consolidation is effected shall be entitled to be credited in the distribution of cases with the same number of cases transferred to it to the end that all divisions shall, as much as possible, receive more or less the same number of cases filed with the Sandiganbayan. Section 3. Assignment of Cases Permanent. Cases assigned to a division of the Sandiganbayan in accordance with these Rules shall remain with said division notwithstanding changes in the composition thereof and all matters raised therein shall be deemed to be submitted for consideration and adjudication by any and all of the Justices who are members of the division aforesaid at the time said matters are taken up, irrespective of whether they were or were not members of the division at the time the case was first assigned thereto: Provided, however, That only Justices who are members of the division at the time a case is submitted for decision shall take part in the consideration and adjudication of said case, unless any such member thereafter ceases to be a member of the Sandiganbayan for any reason whatsoever in which case any Justice chosen to fill the vacancy in accordance with the manner provided in Section 2, Rule III, of these Rules shall participate in the consideration and adjudication of said case; Provided, lastly, that the Sandiganbayan en banc may, for special or compelling reasons, transfer cases from one division thereof to another. RULE VI PROCESSES Processes and writs of the Sandiganbayan which by their nature or by provision of existing laws or the Rules of Court are to be issued under the signature of a Judge or a Justice shall be signed by the Chairman of the division concerned: Provided, That if there is an urgent necessity for the issuance thereof before the case is raffled to a division, the same shall be signed by the Presiding Justice. In the absence of the Presiding Justice or the Chairman aforesaid, the process or writ shall be signed by the senior Associate Justice in the Sandiganbayan or in the divisions concerned, respectively. All other processes or writs issued upon authority of the Sandiganbayan or a division thereof shall be signed by the Clerk of Court or, in his absence, by the Deputy Clerk of Court of the division concerned. RULE VII BAIL Section 1. How Amount Fixed; Approval. The amount of bail to be posted in cases in the Sandiganbayan shall be fixed by the Chairman of the division thereof to which they are assigned; and such bail may be approved by any Justice of the Sandiganbayan, but preferably by a Justice of the division concerned: Provided, however, That where the accused is arrested, detained or otherwise placed in custody outside the Metropolitan Manila area, any judge of the Court of First Instance or Circuit Criminal Court may accept and approve the bail for his appearance before the division to which his case is assigned and release him, and shall inform the division issuing the order of arrest of his action, forwarding thereto the papers in this case. Section 2. Condition of the Bail. The condition of the bail is that the accused shall appear and answer the complaint or information in the division of the Sandiganbayan to which it is assigned or transferred for trial and submit himself to the orders and processes thereof and, after conviction, if the case is appealed to the Supreme Court, that he will surrender himself for the execution of such judgment as the Supreme Court may render; or, that, in case the cause is to be tried anew or remanded for a new trial, he will appear in the division to which it may be remanded and submit himself to the orders and processes thereof. RULE VIII SESSIONS AND TRIAL Section 1. How Sessions Held. The Sandiganbayan shall for administrative purposes, sit en banc; and, for the trial and determination of cases, sit in three divisions of three Justices each. The three divisions may sit at the same time. Section 2. Presiding Officer. Sessions of the Sandiganbayan en banc shall be presided by the Presiding Justice; whereas sessions in division shall be presided by the respective Chairman of each division. In the absence of the Presiding Justice or the Chairman of a division, as the case may be, the Associate Justice attending the session en banc or in division who is first in the order of precedence and able to preside, shall do so.

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Section 3. Quorum. Five Justices shall constitute a quorum for sessions en banc, and three Justices for sessions in division: Provided, That when a quorum and/or the votes required for a resolution or decision of the Sandiganbayan, either en banc or in division, or the trial or hearing of cases cannot be had due to the legal disqualification or temporary disability of a Justice or of a vacancy occurring therein, the President shall, upon recommendation of the Presiding Justice, designate any Justice of the Court of Appeals, Judge of the Court of First Instance or of the Circuit Criminal Court to sit temporarily therein. Section 4. Place of Holding Sessions. Sessions of the Sandiganbayan, whether en banc or in division, shall be held in the place of its principal office in the Metropolitan Manila area where it shall try and determine all cases filed with it irrespective of the place where they may have arisen: Provided, however, That the Presiding Justice may authorize any division or divisions of the Court to hold sessions at any time and place outside Metropolitan Manila to hear and decide cases emanating therefrom. For this purpose and whenever necessary, the Sandiganbayan may require the services of the personnel and the use of the facilities of any agency of the Government, national or local, including the Courts of First Instance or Circuit Criminal Court of the province or city where any of the divisions is holding session, and those personnel of such agencies or courts shall be subject to the orders of the Sandiganbayan. Section 5. Time of Holding Sessions. Sessions of the Sandiganbayan en banc may be called at any time by the Presiding Justice or at the instance at least five Associate Justices. Sessions for the trial of cases cognizable by it shall be held on such days and at such times as the divisions thereof may, by order and upon notice to the parties concerned, fix. Section 6. Pre-trial Inquest. After the arraignment of an accused who pleads not guilty, the division concerned shall, without prejudice to the invocation by the accused of his constitutional rights, direct the prosecutor and the accused and his counsel to appear before any of the Justices thereof for a conference to consider; (a) Admissions of facts about which there can be no dispute; (b) Marking for identification of documentary or real evidence of the parties; (c) Waiver of objections to admissibility of evidence; (d) Procedure on objections where there are multiple counsel; (e) Order of presentation of evidence and arguments where there are multiple accused; (f) Order of cross-examination where there are multiple accused; and (g) Such other matter as will promote a fair and expeditious termination of the trial. After the pre-trial inquest, a pre-trial order shall be issued by the Associate Justice presiding the conference reciting the actions and/or proceedings taken thereat, the admissions of facts made, the documents and real evidence marked, and the agreement entered into by the parties as to any of the matters taken up therein. Such order shall limit the issues for trial to those not disposed of by the admissions or agreements of the parties and when entered shall blind the parties and control the course of the action during the trial, on appeal, and in post-conviction proceedings, unless modified by the division concerned before trial to prevent manifest injustice. RULE IX MOTIONS Section 1. Motion Day. The first hours of the morning session of the divisions every Friday shall be devoted to the hearing of motions, unless, upon motion of an interested party and for special reasons, the division concerned shall fix another day for the hearing of any particular motion. Section 2. Resolution on Interlocutory or Incidental Motions. Rulings on all written motions submitted to the Sandiganbayan or any division thereof for resolution shall be reached in consultation among the Justices participating in the consideration thereof: Provided, however, That rulings on oral motions or on objections made in the course of the trial or hearing shall be handed down by the Chairman of the division concerned.

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RULE X JUDGMENT Section 1. Votes Necessary to Decide. The unanimous vote of three Justices in a division shall be necessary for the rendition of a judgment or order. In the event that the three Justices do not reach a unanimous vote, the Presiding Justice shall designated by raffle two Justices from among the other members of the Sandiganbayan to sit temporarily with them forming a special division of five Justices, and the vote of a majority of such special division shall be necessary for the rendition of a judgment or order. Section 2. Procedure in Deciding Cases. The conclusions of a division of the Sandiganbayan in any case submitted to it for decision shall be reached in consultation before the case is assigned to a Justice for the writing of the opinion of the division. Any Justice dissenting from a judgment shall state the reasons for his dissent. Section 3. Maximum Period to Decide Cases. The judgment or final order of a division of the Sandiganbayan shall be rendered within three (3) months from the date the case was submitted for decision. Section 4. Form of judgment and final order of a division of the Sandiganbayan shall contain complete findings of fact and a statement of the law on all issues properly raised before it. RULE XI PROMULGATION OF JUDGMENT A judgment of a division of the Sandiganbayan shall be promulgated by reading the judgment or sentence in the presence of the accused and any Justice of the division which rendered the same: Provided, That, if the accused is confined or detained in a place outside Metropolitan Manila or of the city or province in which any division of the Sandiganbayan is sitting at the time of such promulgation, the judgment may, upon delegation by the division concerned be promulgated by any judge of the Court of First Instance or Circuit Criminal Court having jurisdiction over the place of confinement or detention, in which event the Court so promulgating the judgment shall have authority to accept and approve the appeal bond. RULE XII PETITION FOR RECONSIDERATION Within fifteen (15) days from the promulgation or notice of a judgment or final order of a division of the Sandiganbayan, unless said judgment or order had in the meantime otherwise attained finality, a petition for the reconsideration thereof may be filed upon the grounds, in the form and subject to the requirements, for motions for new trial in criminal cases under Rule 121 of the Rules of Court, and such petition for reconsideration shall be decided within thirty (30 days from submission thereof. RULE XIII REVIEW OF JUDGMENTS AND FINAL ORDERS Section 1. Method of Review. A party may appeal from a judgment or final order of a division of the Sandiganbayan by filing with the Supreme Court a petition for certiorari in accordance with Rule 45 of Rules of Court and by serving a copy thereof to the Sandiganbayan. Whenever, in any case decided, the death penalty shall have been imposed, the records shall be forwarded to the Supreme Court, whether the accused shall have appealed or not, for review and judgment, as law and justice shall dictate. Section 2. Bail Pending Appeal. An accused who has been released on bail shall not committed to jail upon conviction pending the expiration of the period for appeal or pending an appeal seasonably taken, except when the penalty imposed is reclusion perpetua or death, in which case, the accused may forthwith be committed to jail after promulgation of the sentence. The division of the Sandiganbayan concerned, however, may, for good cause, cancel the bond or increase the amount of bail and commit the accused into custody pending appeal, unless he gives bail in the increased amount. The surely shall also be responsible for the surrender or the accused after judgment shall have become final.

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RULE XIV PUBLICATION OF DECISIONS With the consent of the respective writers thereof, the decisions of the Sandiganbayan may be published in the Official Gazette in the language in which they have been originally written. The syllabi for the decisions shall be prepared by the Clerk of Court in consultation with writers thereof. RULE XV APPLICABILITY OF THE RULES OF COURT Except as otherwise herein provided or as may hereafter be modified from time to time by the Sandiganbayan and insofar as practicable, the Rules of Court shall govern proceedings in the Sandiganbayan. RULE XVI SEAL OF THE SANDIGANBAYAN The seal of the Sandiganbayan shall be of standard size, circular in form, consisting of two concentric circles as its margin, with the inscription, running from left to right, on the upper margin of the word "Sandiganbayan" and on the lower margin of the words "Republika ng Pilipinas"; with 16 stars, representing the existing 16 judicial districts, immediately along the outer edge of the inner circle; and with a design at the center of a triangle, with a trisected area composed of the national colors of white on its upper part, blue on the left and red on the right, with the words "KATAPATAN" on the right side, "KAPANAGUTAN" on the left side, and "KARANGALAN" on the base; a star in each corner of the triangle representing Luzon, Visayas and Mindanao; and a bolo inside the triangle on which is superimposed a balance. RULE XVII SEPARABILITY CLAUSE If, for any reason, any section or provision of these Rules shall be held to be unconstitutional or invalid, no other section or provision thereof shall be effected thereby. RULE XVIII EFFECTIVITY The Rules shall take effect upon approval. Done in the City of Manila, this 10th day of January, in the year of Our Lord, nineteen hundred and seventy-nine.

4.

P.D. 1861 PRESIDENTIAL DECREE NO. 1861 - AMENDING THE PERTINENT PROVISIONS OF PRESIDENTIAL DECREE NO. 1606 AND BATAS PAMBANSA BLG. 129 RELATIVE TO THE JURISDICTION OF THE SANDIGANBAYAN AND FOR OTHER PURPOSES

WHEREAS, Batas Pambansa Blg. 129 has simplified the rules on jurisdiction by, among others, abolishing the concurrent jurisdiction of the Sandiganbayan and the regular courts; WHEREAS, Batas Pambansa Blg. 129 expanded the exclusive original jurisdiction of the Sandiganbayan over the offenses enumerated in Section 4 of Presidential Decree No. 1606, to embrace all such offenses irrespective of the imposable penalty; WHEREAS, there has been a proliferation and marked increase in the filing of cases before the Sandiganbayan where the offense charged is punishable by a penalty not higher than prision correccional or its equivalent; and WHEREAS, to insure that the prosecution of offenses committed by public officers and employees, including those employed in government-owned or controlled corporations, shall be as inexpensive and as expeditious as possible,

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and in keeping with the constitutional mandate constituting the Sandiganbayan as a special court to try cases involving graft and corruption, and other offenses committed by public officers and employees in relation to their office, it is necessary and desirable that certain cases shall be triable by the appropriate courts, with appellate jurisdiction over these cases to be vested in the Sandiganbayan. NOW, THEREFORE, I, FERDINAND E. MARCOS, President of the Philippines, by virtue of the powers vested in me by the Constitution, do hereby order and decree as follows: Section 1. Section 4 of Presidential Decree No. 1606 is hereby amended to read as follows: "Sec. 4. Jurisdiction. The Sandiganbayan shall exercise: "(a) Exclusive original jurisdiction in all cases involving: (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 II, Section 2, Title VII of the Revised Penal Code; (2) Other offenses or felonies committed by public officers and employees in relation to their office, including those employed in government-owned or controlled corporations, whether simple or complexed with other crimes, where the penalty prescribed by law is higher than prision correccional or imprisonment for six (6) years, or a fine of P6,000.00: PROVIDED, HOWEVER, that offenses or felonies mentioned in this paragraph where the penalty prescribed by law does not exceed prision correccional or imprisonment for six (6) years or a fine of P6,000.00 shall be tried by the proper Regional Trial Court, Metropolitan Trial Court, Municipal Trial Court and Municipal Circuit Trial Court. "(b) Exclusive appellate jurisdiction: (1) On appeal, from the final judgments, resolutions or orders of the Regional Trial Courts in cases originally decided by them in their respective territorial jurisdiction. (2) By petition for review, from the final judgments, resolutions or orders of the Regional Trial Courts in the exercise of their appellate jurisdiction over cases originally decided by the Metropolitan Trial Courts, Municipal Trial Courts and Municipal Circuit Trial Courts, in their respective jurisdiction. "The procedure prescribed in Batas Pambansa Blg. 129, as well as the implementing rules the Supreme Court has promulgated and may hereinafter promulgate, relative to appeals/petitions for review to the Intermediate Appellate Court shall apply to appeals and petitions for review filed with the Sandiganbayan. In all cases elevated to the Sandiganbayan, the Office of the Tanodbayan shall represent the People of the Philippines. "In case private individuals are charged as co-principals, accomplices or accessories with the public officers or employees, including those employed in government-owned or controlled corporations, they shall be tried jointly with said public officers and employees. "Any provision of law or the Rules of Court to the contrary notwithstanding, the criminal action and the corresponding civil action for the recovery of civil liability arising from the offense charged shall at all times be simultaneously instituted with, and jointly determined in the same proceeding by the Sandiganbayan or the appropriate courts, the filing of the criminal action being deemed to necessarily carry with it the filing of the civil action, and no right to reserve the filing of such civil action separately from the criminal action shall be recognized: PROVIDED, HOWEVER, that where the civil action had heretofore been filed separately but judgment therein has not yet been rendered, and the criminal case is hereafter filed with the Sandiganbayan or the appropriate court, said civil action shall be transferred to the Sandiganbayan or the appropriate court, as the case may be, for consolidation and joint determination with the criminal action, otherwise the separate civil action shall be considered abandoned." Section 2. All cases pending in the Sandiganbayan or in the appropriate courts as of the date of the effectivity of this Decree shall remain with and be disposed of by the courts where they are pending. Section 3. The provisions of this Decree notwithstanding, the Office of the Tanodbayan shall continue to have the exclusive authority to conduct preliminary investigation, file the necessary information, and direct and control the prosecution of all cases enumerated in Section 4 of Presidential Decree No. 1606, whether such cases be within the exclusive original/appellate jurisdiction of the Sandiganbayan or the appropriate courts in accordance with the provisions of Presidential Decree No. 1630.

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Section 4. All other laws, orders, promulgations, rules and regulations or parts thereof, which are inconsistent herewith are hereby amended, repealed or modified accordingly. Section 5. This Decree shall take effect immediately. Done in the City of Manila, this 23rd day of March, in the year of Our Lord, nineteen hundred and eighty-three.

5.

R.A. 7995 APPROVED MARCH 10, 1995 AN ACT PROVIDING FOR THE CONVERSION OF THE BAROTAC NUEVO NATIONAL COMPREHENSIVE HIGH SCHOOL IN THE MUNICIPALITY OF BAROTAC NUEVO, PROVINCE OF ILOILO, INTO A POLYTECHNIC INSTITUTE, TO BE KNOWN AS THE BAROTAC NUEVO POLYTECHNIC INSTITUTE, AND APPROPRIATING FUNDS THEREFORE Section 1. The Barotac Nuevo National Comprehensive High School in the Municipality of Barotac Nuevo, Province of Iloilo, is hereby converted into a polytechnic institute to be known as the Barotac Nuevo Polytechnic Institute. Section 2. The Institute, in addition to its present secondary offerings, is hereby authorized to offer post-secondary programs in agriculture, technology and engineering and teacher education, which are priority programs of the government schools as well as short-term technical and vocational courses, subject to the policies of the Commission on Higher Education. Section 3. The title to the assets and properties now under the name of the Barotac Nuevo National Comprehensive High School shall be changed and transferred to the Barotac Nuevo Polytechnic Institute, in accordance with existing laws, rules and regulations. Section 4. The faculty and employees of the Barotac Nuevo National Comprehensive High School shall remain as such faculty and employees of the Institute: provided, however, that those who may opt to retire shall be granted such benefits and privileges as may be provided by existing laws. Section 5. The chairperson of the Commission on Higher Education, in coordination with the Secretary of Education, Culture and Sports, is hereby authorized to promulgate the necessary rules and regulations to implement the conversion and operation of the Institute subject to existing rules and regulations. Section 6. The amount necessary for the implementation of this Act shall be charged ag ainst the current years appropriations of the Barotac Nuevo National Comprehensive High School. Thereafter, such sums as may be necessary for its operation and maintenance shall be included in the annual General Appropriations Act. Fees and charges, including government subsidies and other income generated by the Institute shall constitute special trust funds and shall be deposited in any authorized government depository bank, and all interest that shall accrue therefrom shall form part of the same funds for the use of the Institute. The income generated by the Institute may, at their discretion, be disbursed for the professional growth and development, health, welfare and other similar benefits of the faculty members and personnel, for extension and student welfare expenses so that the flexibility on use of income shall be focused on faculty, personnel improvement and student welfare activities, and for expenses necessary for the attainment of its purposes under this Act. Section 7. This Act shall take effect upon its approval. Lapsed into law on April 22, 1995 without the signature of the President in accordance with Article VI, Section 27 (1) of the Constitution.

6.

R.A. 8249 APPROVED FEBRUARY 5, 1997 Tenth Congress

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Begun and held in Metro Manila, on Monday, the twenty-third day of July, two thousand seven. Republic Act No. 8249 February 5, 1997 AN ACT FURTHER DEFINING THE JURISDICTION OF THE SANDIGANBAYAN, AMENDING FOR THE PURPOSE PRESIDENTIAL DECREE NO. 1606, AS AMENDED, PROVIDING FUNDS THEREFOR, AND FOR OTHER PURPOSES Be it enacted by the Senate and House of Representatives of the Philippines in Congress assembled: : Section 1. The first paragraph of Section 1 of Presidential Decree No. 1606, as amended, is hereby further amended to read as follows: "SECTION 1. Sandiganbayan; Composition, Qualifications; Tenure; Removal and Compensation. - A special court, of the same level as the Court of Appeals and possessing all the inherent powers of a court ofjustice, to be known as the Sandiganbayan is hereby created composed of a presiding justice and fourteen associate justices who shall be appointed by the President." Section 2. Section 2 of the same decree is hereby further amended to read as follows: "SECTION 2. Official Station; Place of Holding Sessions. - The Sandiganbayan shall have its principal office in the Metro Manila area and shall hold sessions thereat for the trial and determination of cases filed with it: Provided, however, That cases originating from the principal geographical regions of the country, that is, from Luzon, Visayas or Mindanao, shall be heard in their respective regions of origin except only when the greater convenience of the accused and of the witnesses, or other compelling considerations require the contrary, in which instance a case originating from one geographical region may be heard in another geographical region: Provided, further, That for this purpose the presiding justice shall authorize any divisions of the court to hold sessions at any time and place outside Metro Manila and, where the interest of justice so requires, outside the territorial boundaries of the Philippines. The Sandiganbayan may require the services of the personnel and the use of facilities of the courts or other government offices where any of the divisions is holding sessions and the personnel of such courts or offices shall be subject to the orders of the Sandiganbayan." Section 3. The second paragraph of Section 3 of the same decree is hereby deleted. Section 4. Section 4 of the same decree is hereby further amended to read as follows: "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 II, Section 2, Title VII, Book II of the Revised Penal Code, where one or more of the accused are officials occupying the following positions in the government whether in a permanent, acting or interim capacity, at the time of the commission of the offense: "(1) Officials of the executive branch occupying the positions of regional director and higher, otherwise classified as Grade '27' and higher, of the Compensation and Position Classification Act of 1989 (Republic Act No. 6758), specifically including: "(a) Provincial governors, vice-governors, members of the sangguniang panlalawigan and provincial treasurers, assessors, engineers and other provincial department heads; "(b) City mayors, vice-mayors, members of the sangguniang panlungsod, city treasurers, assessors engineers and other city department heads; "(c) Officials of the diplomatic service occupying the position of consul and higher; "(d) Philippine army and air force colonels, naval captains, and all officers of higher rank; "(e) Officers of the Philippine National Police while occupying the position of provincial director and those holding the rank of senior superintendent or higher;

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"(f) City and provincial prosecutors and their assistants, and officials and prosecutors in the Office of the Ombudsman and special prosecutor; "(g) Presidents, directors or trustees, or managers of government-owned or -controlled corporations, state universities or educational institutions or foundations; "(2) Members of Congress and officials thereof classified as Grade'27'and up under the Compensation and Position Classification Act of 1989; "(3) Members of the judiciary without prejudice to the provisions of the Constitution; "(4) Chairmen and members of Constitutional Commissions, without prejudice to the provisions of the Constitution; and "(5) All other national and local officials classified as Grade'27'and higher under the Compensation and Position Classification Act of 1989. "b. Other offenses orfelonies whether simple or complexed with other crimes committed by the public officials and employees mentioned in subsection a of this section in relation to their office. "c. Civil and criminal cases filed pursuant to and in connection with Executive Order Nos. 1, 2, 14 and 14-A, issued in 1986. "In cases where none of the accused are occupying positions corresponding to salary grade '27' or higher, as prescribed in the said Republic Act No. 6758, or military or PNP officers mentioned above, exclusive original jurisdiction thereof 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, pursuant to their respective jurisdiction as provided in Batas Pambansa Blg. 129, as amended. "The Sandiganbayan shall exercise exclusive appellate jurisdiction over final judgments, resolutions or orders or regional trial courts whether in the exercise of their own original jurisdiction orof their appellate jurisdiction as herein provided. "The Sandiganbayan shall have exclusive original jurisdiction over petitions for the issuance of the writs of mandamus, prohibition, certiorari, habeas corpus, injunctions, and other ancillary writs and processes in aid of its appellate jurisdiction and over petitions of similar nature, including quo warranto, arising or that may arise in cases filed or which may be filed under Executive Order Nos. 1,2,14 and 14-A, issued in 1986: Provided, That the jurisdiction over these petitions shall not be exclusive of the Supreme Court. The procedure prescribed in Batas Pambansa Blg. 129, as well as the implementing rules that the Supreme Court has promulgated and may hereafter promulgate, relative to appeals/petitions for review to the Court of Appeals, shall apply to appeals and petitions for review filed with the Sandiganbayan. In all cases elevated to the Sandiganbayan and from the Sandiganbayan to the Supreme Court, the Office of the Ombudsman, through its special prosecutor, shall represent the People of the Philippines, except in cases filed pursuant to Executive Order Nos. 1, 2, 14 and 14-A, issued in 1986. "In case private individuals are charged as co-principals, accomplices or accessories with the public officers or employees, including those employed in govemment-owned or controlled corporations, they shall be tried jointly with said public officers and employees in the proper courts which shall exercise exclusive jurisdiction over them. "Any provisions of law or Rules of Court to the contrary notwithstanding, the criminal action and the corresponding civil action for the recovery of civil liability shall at all times be simultaneously instituted with, and jointly determined in, the same proceeding by the Sandiganbayan or the appropriate courts, the filing of the criminal action being deemed to necessarily carry with it the filing of the civil action, and no right to reserve the filing of such civil action separately from the criminal action shall be recognized: Provided, however, That where the civil action had therefore been filed separately but judgment therein has not yet been rendered, and the criminal case is hereafter filed with the Sandiganbayan or the appropriate court, said

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civil action shall be transferred to the Sandiganbayan or the appropriate court, as the case may be, for consolidation and joint determination with the criminal action, otherwise the separate civil action shall be deemed abandoned." Section 5. Section 7 of the same decree is hereby further amended to read as follows: 'SECTION 7. Form, Finality and Enforcement of Decisions. - All decisions and final orders determining the merits of a case or finally disposing of the action or proceedings of the Sandijanbayan shall contain complete findings of the facts and the law on which they are based, on all issues properly raised before it and necessary in deciding the case. "A petition for reconsideration of any final order or decision may be filed within fifteen (15) days from promulgation or notice of the final order on judgment, and such motion for reconsideration shall be decided within thirty (30) days from submission thereon. "Decisions and final orders ofthe Sandiganbyan shall be appealable to the Supreme Court by petition for review on certiorari raising pure questions of law in accordance with Rule 45 of the Rules of Court. Whenever, in any case decided by the Sandiganbayan, the penalty of reclusion perpetua, life imprisonment or death is imposed, the decision shall be appealable to the Supreme Court in the manner prescribed in the Rules of Court. "Judgments and orders of the Sandiganbayan shall be executed and enforced in the manner provided by law. "Decisions and final orders of other courts in cases cognizable by said courts under this decree as well as those rendered by them in the exercise of their appellate jurisdiction shall be appealable to, or be reviewable by, the Sandiganbayan in the manner provided by Rule 122 of the Rules of the Court. "In case, however, the imposed penalty by the Sandiganbayan or the regional trial court in the proper exercise of their respective jurisdictions, is death, review by the Supreme Court shall be automatic, whether or not accused files an appeal." Section 6. Appropriations. - The amount necessary to carry out the initial implementation of this Act shall be charged against the current fiscal year appropriations of the Sandiganbayan. Thereafter, such sums as may be needed for its continued implementation shall be included in the annual General Appropriations Act. Section 7. Transitory Provision. - This Act shall apply to all cases pending in any court over which trial has not begun as of the approval hereof Section 8. Separability of Provisions. - If for any reason any provision of this Act is declared unconstitutional or invalid, such parts or portions not affected thereby shall remain in full force and effect. Section 9. Repealing Clause. - All acts, decrees, general orders and circulars, or parts thereof inconsistent with the provisions of this Act are hereby repealed or modified accordingly. Section 10. Effectivity. - This Act shall take effect fifteen (15) days after its complete publication in at least two (2) newspapers of general circulation. Approved: (Sgd.) ERNESTO M. MACEDA (Sgd.) JOSE DE VENECIA, JR. President of the Senate Speaker of the House of Representatives This Act which is a consolidation of House Bill No. 5323 and Senate Bill No. 844 was finally passed by the House of Representatives and the Senate on January 28,1997 and January 29, 1997, respectively. (Sgd.) LORENZO E. LEYNES, JR. (Sgd.) ROBERTO P. NAZARENO Secretary of Senate Secretary General House of Represenatives Approved: February 5, 1997

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(Sgd.) FIDEL V. RAMOS President of the Philippines

E. JURSIDICTION OF THE SANDIGANBAYAN 1. G.R. No. 167304 August 25, 2009 PEOPLE OF THE PHILIPPINES, Petitioner, vs. SANDIGANBAYAN (third division) and VICTORIA AMANTE, Respondents.

DECISION PERALTA, J.: Before this Court is a petition under Rule 45 of the Rules of Court seeking to reverse and set aside the Resolution of the Sandiganbayan (Third Division) dated February 28, 2005 dismissing Criminal Case No. 27991, entitled People of the Philippines v. Victoria Amante for lack of jurisdiction. The facts, as culled from the records, are the following: Victoria Amante was a member of the Sangguniang Panlungsod of Toledo City, Province of Cebu at the time pertinent to this case. On January 14, 1994, she was able to get hold of a cash advance in the amount of P71,095.00 under a disbursement voucher in order to defray seminar expenses of the Committee on Health and Environmental Protection, which she headed. As of December 19, 1995, or after almost two years since she obtained the said cash advance, no liquidation was made. As such, on December 22, 1995, Toledo City Auditor Manolo V. Tulibao issued a demand letter to respondent Amante asking the latter to settle her unliquidated cash advance within seventy-two hours from receipt of the same demand letter. The Commission on Audit, on May 17, 1996, submitted an investigation report to the Office of the Deputy Ombudsman for Visayas (OMB-Visayas), with the recommendation that respondent Amante be further investigated to ascertain whether appropriate charges could be filed against her under Presidential Decree (P.D.) No. 1445, otherwise known as The Auditing Code of the Philippines. Thereafter, the OMB-Visayas, on September 30, 1999, issued a Resolution recommending the filing of an Information for Malversation of Public Funds against respondent Amante. The Office of the Special Prosecutor (OSP), upon review of the OMB-Visayas' Resolution, on April 6, 2001, prepared a memorandum finding probable cause to indict respondent Amante. On May 21, 2004, the OSP filed an Information3 with the Sandiganbayan accusing Victoria Amante of violating Section 89 of P.D. No. 1445, which reads as follows: That on or about December 19, 1995, and for sometime prior or subsequent thereto at Toledo City, Province of Cebu, Philippines, and within the jurisdiction of this Honorable Court, the abovenamed accused VICTORIA AMANTE, a high-ranking public officer, being a member of the Sangguniang Panlungsod of Toledo City, and committing the offense in relation to office, having obtained cash advances from the City Government of Toledo in the total amount of SEVENTY-ONE THOUSAND NINETY-FIVE PESOS (P71,095.00), Philippine Currency, which she received by reason of her office, for which she is duty-bound to liquidate the same within the period required by law, with deliberate intent and intent to gain, did then and there, wilfully, unlawfully and criminally fail to liquidate said cash advances of P71,095.00, Philippine Currency, despite demands to the damage and prejudice of the government in aforesaid amount. CONTRARY TO LAW. The case was raffled to the Third Division of the Sandiganbayan. Thereafter, Amante filed with the said court a 4 MOTION TO DEFER ARRAIGNMENT AND MOTION FOR REINVESTIGATION dated November 18, 2004 stating that the Decision of the Office of the Ombudsman (Visayas) dated September 14, 1999 at Cebu City from of an incomplete proceeding in so far that respondent Amante had already liquidated and/or refunded the unexpected balance of her cash advance, which at the time of the investigation was not included as the same liquidation papers were still in the process of evaluation by the Accounting Department of Toledo City and that the Sandiganbayan had
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no jurisdiction over the said criminal case because respondent Amante was then a local official who was occupying a position of salary grade 26, whereas Section 4 of Republic Act (R.A.) No. 8249 provides that the Sandiganbayan shall have original jurisdiction only in cases where the accused holds a position otherwise classified as Grade 27 and higher, of the Compensation and Position Classification Act of 1989, R.A. No. 6758. The OSP filed its Opposition dated December 8, 2004 arguing that respondent Amante's claim of settlement of the cash advance dwelt on matters of defense and the same should be established during the trial of the case and not in a motion for reinvestigation. As to the assailed jurisdiction of the Sandiganbayan, the OSP contended that the said court has jurisdiction over respondent Amante since at the time relevant to the case, she was a member of the Sangguniang Panlungsod of Toledo City, therefore, falling under those enumerated under Section 4 of R.A. No. 8249. According to the OSP, the language of the law is too plain and unambiguous that it did not make any distinction as to the salary grade of city local officials/heads. The Sandiganbayan, in its Resolution dated February 28, 2005, dismissed the case against Amante, the dispositive portion of which reads: WHEREFORE, IN VIEW OF ALL THE FOREGOING, this case is hereby dismissed for lack of jurisdiction. The dismissal, however, is without prejudice to the filing of this case to the proper court. The Motion for Reinvestigation filed by the movant is hereby considered moot and academic. SO ORDERED. Hence, the present petition. Petitioner raises this lone issue: WHETHER OR NOT THE SANDIGANBAYAN HAS JURISDICTION OVER A CASE INVOLVING A SANGGUNIANG PANLUNGSOD MEMBER WHERE THE CRIME CHARGED IS ONE COMMITTED IN RELATION TO OFFICE, BUT NOT FOR VIOLATION OF RA 3019, RA 1379 OR ANY OF THE FELONIES MENTIONED IN CHAPTER II, SECTION 2, TITLE VII OF THE REVISED PENAL CODE. In claiming that the Sandiganbayan has jurisdiction over the case in question, petitioner disputes the former's appreciation of this Court's decision in Inding v. Sandiganbayan.7 According to petitioner, Inding did not categorically nor implicitly constrict or confine the application of the enumeration provided for under Section 4(a)(1) of P.D. No. 1606, as amended, exclusively to cases where the offense charged is either a violation of R.A. No. 3019, R.A. No. 1379, or Chapter II, Section 2, Title VII of the Revised Penal Code. Petitioner adds that the enumeration in Section (a)(1) of P.D. No. 1606, as amended by R.A. No. 7975 and R.A. No. 8249, which was made applicable to cases concerning violations of R.A. No. 3019, R.A. No. 1379 and Chapter II, Section 2, Title VII of the Revised Penal Code, equally applies to offenses committed in relation to public office. Respondent Amante, in her Comment dated January 16, 2006, averred that, with the way the law was phrased in Section 4 of P.D. No. 1606, as amended, it is obvious that the jurisdiction of the Sandiganbayan was defined first, enumerating the several exceptions to the general rule, while the exceptions to the general rule are provided in the rest of the paragraph and sub-paragraphs of Section 4. Therefore, according to respondent Amante, the Sandiganbayan was correct in ruling that the latter has original jurisdiction only over cases where the accused is a public official with salary grade 27 and higher; and in cases where the accused is public official below grade 27 but his position is one of those mentioned in the enumeration in Section 4(a)(1)(a) to (g) of P.D. No. 1606, as amended and his offense involves a violation of R.A. No. 3019, R.A. No. 1379 and Chapter II, Section 2, Title VII of the Revised Penal Code; and if the indictment involves offenses or felonies other than the three aforementioned statutes, the general rule that a public official must occupy a position with salary grade 27 and higher in order that the 9 Sandiganbayan could exercise jurisdiction over him must apply. The same respondent proceeded to cite a decision of this Court where it was held that jurisdiction over the subject matter is conferred only by the Constitution or law; it cannot be fixed by the will of the parties; it cannot be acquired through, or waived, enlarged or diminished by, any act or omission of the parties, neither is it conferred by acquiescence of the court. 1avvphi1 In its Reply dated March 23, 2006, the OSP reiterated that the enumeration of public officials in Section 4(a)(1) to (a) to (g) of P.D. No. 1606 as falling within the original jurisdiction of the Sandiganbayan should include their
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commission of other offenses in relation to office under Section 4(b) of the same P.D. No. 1606. It cited the case of Esteban v. Sandiganbayan, et al.11 wherein this Court ruled that an offense is said to have been committed in relation to the office if the offense is "intimately connected" with the office of the offender and perpetrated while he was in the performance of his official functions. The petition is meritorious. The focal issue raised in the petition is the jurisdiction of the Sandiganbayan. As a background, this Court had thoroughly discussed the history of the conferment of jurisdiction of the Sandiganbayan in Serana v. Sandiganbayan, 12 et al., thus: x x x The Sandiganbayan was created by P.D. No. 1486, promulgated by then President Ferdinand E. Marcos on June 11, 1978. It was promulgated to attain the highest norms of official conduct required of public officers and employees, based on the concept that public officers and employees shall serve with the highest degree of 13 responsibility, integrity, loyalty and efficiency and shall remain at all times accountable to the people. P.D. No. 1486 was, in turn, amended by P.D. No. 1606 which was promulgated on December 10, 1978. P.D. No. 14 1606 expanded the jurisdiction of the Sandiganbayan. P.D. No. 1606 was later amended by P.D. No. 1861 on March 23, 1983, further altering the Sandiganbayan jurisdiction. R.A. No. 7975 approved on March 30, 1995 made succeeding amendments to P.D. No. 1606, which was again amended on February 5, 1997 by R.A. No. 8249. Section 4 of R.A. No. 8249 further modified the jurisdiction of the Sandiganbayan. x x x Specifically, the question that needs to be resolved is whether or not a member of the Sangguniang Panlungsod under Salary Grade 26 who was charged with violation of The Auditing Code of the Philippines falls within the jurisdiction of the Sandiganbayan. This Court rules in the affirmative. The applicable law in this case is Section 4 of P.D. No. 1606, as amended by Section 2 of R.A. No. 7975 which took effect on May 16, 1995, which was again amended on February 5, 1997 by R.A. No. 8249. The alleged commission of the offense, as shown in the Information was on or about December 19, 1995 and the filing of the Information was on May 21, 2004. The jurisdiction of a court to try a criminal case is to be determined at the time of the institution of 15 the action, not at the time of the commission of the offense. The exception contained in R.A. 7975, as well as R.A. 8249, where it expressly provides that to determine the jurisdiction of the Sandiganbayan in cases involving violations of R.A. No. 3019, as amended, R.A. No. 1379, and Chapter II, Section 2, Title VII of the Revised Penal Code is not applicable in the present case as the offense involved herein is a violation of The Auditing Code of the Philippines. The last clause of the opening sentence of paragraph (a) of the said two provisions states: Sec. 4. Jurisdiction. -- The Sandiganbayan shall exercise exclusive original jurisdiction in all cases involving: A. Violations of Republic Act No. 3019, as amended, other known as the Anti-Graft and Corrupt Practices Act, Republic Act No. 1379, and Chapter II, Section 2, Title VII, Book II of the Revised Penal Code, where one or more of the accused are officials occupying the following positions in the government, whether in a permanent, acting or interim capacity, at the time of the commission of the offense: The present case falls under Section 4(b) where other offenses and felonies committed by public officials or employees in relation to their office are involved. Under the said provision, no exception is contained. Thus, the general rule that jurisdiction of a court to try a criminal case is to be determined at the time of the institution of the action, not at the time of the commission of the offense applies in this present case. Since the present case was instituted on May 21, 2004, the provisions of R.A. No. 8249 shall govern. Verily, the pertinent provisions of P.D. No. 1606 as amended by R.A. No. 8249 are the following: Sec. 4. Jurisdiction. -- The Sandiganbayan shall exercise original jurisdiction in all cases involving: 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 II, Section 2, Title VII of the Revised Penal Code, where

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one or more of the principal accused are officials occupying the following positions in the government, whether in a permanent, acting or interim capacity, at the time of the commission of the offense: (1) Officials of the executive branch occupying the positions of regional director and higher, otherwise classified as grade "27" and higher, of the Compensation and Position Classification Act of 1989 (Republic Act No. 6758), specifically including: (a) Provincial governors, vice-governors, members of the sangguniang panlalawigan and provincial treasurers, assessors, engineers, and other city department heads; (b) City mayors, vice-mayors, members of the sangguniang panlungsod, city treasurers, assessors, engineers, and other city department heads. (c) Officials of the diplomatic service occupying the position of consul and higher; (d) Philippine army and air force colonels, naval captains, and all officers of higher rank; (e) PNP chief superintendent and PNP officers of higher rank; (f) City and provincial prosecutors and their assistants, and officials and prosecutors in the Office of the Ombudsman and Special Prosecutor; (g) Presidents, directors or trustees, or managers of government-owned or controlled corporations, state universities or educational institutions or foundations; (2) Members of Congress and officials thereof classified as Grade "27" and up under the Compensation and Position Classification Act of 1989; (3) Members of the judiciary without prejudice to the provisions of the Constitution; (4) Chairmen and members of Constitutional Commissions, without prejudice to the provisions of the Constitution; and (5) All other national and local officials classified as Grade "27" and higher under the Compensation and Position Classification Act of 1989. B. Other offenses or felonies, whether simple or complexed with other crimes committed by the public officials and employees mentioned in subsection (a) of this section in relation to their office. C. Civil and criminal cases filed pursuant to and in connection with Executive Order Nos. 1, 2, 14 and 14-A. The above law is clear as to the composition of the original jurisdiction of the Sandiganbayan. Under Section 4(a), the following offenses are specifically enumerated: violations of R.A. No. 3019, as amended, R.A. No. 1379, and Chapter II, Section 2, Title VII of the Revised Penal Code. In order for the Sandiganbayan to acquire jurisdiction over the said offenses, the latter must be committed by, among others, officials of the executive branch occupying positions of regional director and higher, otherwise classified as Grade 27 and higher, of the Compensation and Position Classification Act of 1989. However, the law is not devoid of exceptions. Those that are classified as Grade 26 and below may still fall within the jurisdiction of the Sandiganbayan provided that they hold the positions thus enumerated by the same law. Particularly and exclusively enumerated are provincial governors, vice-governors, members of the sangguniang panlalawigan, and provincial treasurers, assessors, engineers, and other provincial department heads; city mayors, vice-mayors, members of the sangguniang panlungsod, city treasurers, assessors, engineers , and other city department heads; officials of the diplomatic service occupying the position as consul and higher; Philippine army and air force colonels, naval captains, and all officers of higher rank; PNP chief superintendent and PNP officers of higher rank; City and provincial prosecutors and their assistants, and officials and prosecutors in the Office of the Ombudsman and special prosecutor; and presidents, directors or trustees, or managers of government-owned or controlled corporations, state universities or educational institutions or foundations. In connection therewith, Section

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4(b) of the same law provides that other offenses or felonies committed by public officials and employees mentioned in subsection (a) in relation to their office also fall under the jurisdiction of the Sandiganbayan. By simple analogy, applying the provisions of the pertinent law, respondent Amante, being a member of the Sangguniang Panlungsod at the time of the alleged commission of an offense in relation to her office, falls within the original jurisdiction of the Sandiganbayan. However, the Sandiganbayan, in its Resolution, dismissed the case with the following ratiocination: x x x the ruling of the Supreme Court in the Inding case, stating that the Congress' act of specifically including the public officials therein mentioned, "obviously intended cases mentioned in Section 4 (a) of P.D. No. 1606, as amended by Section 2 of R.A. No. 7975, when committed by the officials enumerated in (1)(a) to (g) thereof, regardless of their salary grades, to be tried by the Sandiganbayan." Obviously, the Court was referring to cases involving violation of R.A. No. 3019, R.A. No. 1379 and Chapter II, Section 2, Title VII of the Revised Penal Code only because they are the specific cases mentioned in Section 4 (a) of P.D. No. 1606 as amended, so that when they are committed even by public officials below salary grade '27', provided they belong to the enumeration, jurisdiction would fall under the Sandiganbayan. When the offense committed however, falls under Section 4(b) or 4(c) of P.D. No. 1606 as amended, it should be emphasized that the general qualification that the public official must belong to grade '27' is a requirement so that the Sandiganbayan could exercise original jurisdiction over him. Otherwise, jurisdiction would fall to the proper regional or municipal trial court. In the case at bar, the accused is a Sangguniang Panlungsod member, a position with salary grade '26'. Her office is included in the enumerated public officials in Section 4(a) (1) (a) to (g) of P.D. No. 1606 as amended by Section 2 of R.A. No. 7975. However, she is charged with violation of Section 89 of The Auditing Code of the Philippines which is not a case falling under Section 4(a) but under Section 4(b) of P.D. No. 1606 as amended. This being the case, the principle declared in Inding is not applicable in the case at bar because as stated, the charge must involve a violation of R.A. No. 3019, R.A. No. 1379 or Chapter II, Section 2, Title VII of the Revised Penal Code. Therefore, in the instant case, even if the position of the accused is one of those enumerated public officials under Section 4(a)(1)(a) to (g), since she is being prosecuted of an offense not mentioned in the aforesaid section, the general qualification that accused must be a public official occupying a position with salary grade '27' is a requirement before this Court could exercise jurisdiction over her. And since the accused occupied a public office with salary grade 26, then she is not covered by the jurisdiction of the Sandiganbayan. 1avvphi1 Petitioner is correct in disputing the above ruling of the Sandiganbayan. Central to the discussion of the Sandiganbayan is the case of Inding v. Sandiganbayan16 where this Court ruled that the officials enumerated in (a) to (g) of Section 4(a)(1) of P. D. No. 1606, as amended are included within the original jurisdiction of the Sandiganbayan regardless of salary grade. According to petitioner, the Inding case did not categorically nor implicitly constrict or confine the application of the enumeration provided for under Section 4(a)(1) of P.D. No. 1606, as amended, exclusively to cases where the offense charged is either a violation of R.A. No. 3019, R.A. No. 1379, or Chapter II, Section 2, Title VII of the Revised Penal Code. This observation is true in light of the facts contained in the said case. In the Inding case, the public official involved was a member of the Sangguniang Panlungsod with Salary Grade 25 and was charged with violation of R.A. No. 3019. In ruling that the Sandiganbayan had jurisdiction over the said public official, this Court concentrated its disquisition on the provisions contained in Section 4(a)(1) of P.D. No. 1606, as amended, where the offenses involved are specifically enumerated and not on Section 4(b) where offenses or felonies involved are those that are in relation to the public officials' office. Section 4(b) of P.D. No. 1606, as amended, provides that: b. Other offenses or felonies committed by public officials and employees mentioned in subsection (a) of this section in relation to their office. A simple analysis after a plain reading of the above provision shows that those public officials enumerated in Section 4(a) of P.D. No. 1606, as amended, may not only be charged in the Sandiganbayan with violations of R.A. No. 3019, R.A. No. 1379 or Chapter II, Section 2, Title VII of the Revised Penal Code, but also with other offenses or felonies in relation to their office. The said other offenses and felonies are broad in scope but are limited only to those that are committed in relation to the public official or employee's office. This Court had ruled that as long as the offense charged in the information is intimately connected with the office and is alleged to have been perpetrated while the accused was in the performance, though improper or irregular, of his official functions, there being no personal motive to commit the crime and had the accused not have committed it had he not held the aforesaid office, the accused is 17 held to have been indicted for "an offense committed in relation" to his office. Thus, in the case of Lacson v. 18 Executive Secretary, where the crime involved was murder, this Court held that:

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The phrase "other offenses or felonies" is too broad as to include the crime of murder, provided it was committed in relation to the accuseds official functions. Thus, under said paragraph b, what determines the Sandiganbayans jurisdiction is the official position or rank of the offender that is, whether he is one of those public officers or employees enumerated in paragraph a of Section 4. x x x. Also, in the case Alarilla v. Sandiganbayan, ruled:
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where the public official was charged with grave threats, this Court

x x x In the case at bar, the amended information contained allegations that the accused, petitioner herein, took advantage of his official functions as municipal mayor of Meycauayan, Bulacan when he committed the crime of grave threats as defined in Article 282 of the Revised Penal Code against complainant Simeon G. Legaspi, a municipal councilor. The Office of the Special Prosecutor charged petitioner with aiming a gun at and threatening to kill Legaspi during a public hearing, after the latter had rendered a privileg e speech critical of petitioners administration. Clearly, based on such allegations, the crime charged is intimately connected with the discharge of petitioners official functions. This was elaborated upon by public respondent in its April 25, 1997 resol ution wherein it held that the "accused was performing his official duty as municipal mayor when he attended said public hearing" and that "accuseds violent act was precipitated by complainants criticism of his administration as the mayor or chief executive of the municipality, during the latters privilege speech. It was his response to private complainants attack to his office. If he was not the mayor, he would not have been irritated or angered by whatever private complainant might have said during said privilege speech." Thus, based on the allegations in the information, the Sandiganbayan correctly assumed jurisdiction over the case. Proceeding from the above rulings of this Court, a close reading of the Information filed against respondent Amante for violation of The Auditing Code of the Philippines reveals that the said offense was committed in relation to her office, making her fall under Section 4(b) of P.D. No. 1606, as amended. According to the assailed Resolution of the Sandiganbayan, if the intention of the law had been to extend the application of the exceptions to the other cases over which the Sandiganbayan could assert jurisdiction, then there would have been no need to distinguish between violations of R.A. No. 3019, R.A. No. 1379 or Chapter II, Section 2, Title VII of the Revised Penal Code on the one hand, and other offenses or felonies committed by public officials and employees in relation to their office on the other. The said reasoning is misleading because a distinction apparently exists. In the offenses involved in Section 4(a), it is not disputed that public office is essential as an element of the said offenses themselves, while in those offenses and felonies involved in Section 4(b), it is enough that the said offenses and felonies were committed in relation to the public officials or employees' office. In expounding the meaning of offenses deemed to have been committed in relation to office, this Court held: In Sanchez v. Demetriou [227 SCRA 627 (1993)], the Court elaborated on the scope and reach of the term "offense committed in relation to [an accuseds] office" by referring to the principle laid down in Montilla v. Hilario [90 Phil 49 (1951)], and to an exception to that principle which was recognized in People v. Montejo [108 Phil 613 (1960)]. The principle set out in Montilla v. Hilario is that an offense may be considered as committed in relation to the accuseds office if "the offense cannot exist without the office" such that "the office [is] a constituent element of the crime x x x." In People v. Montejo, the Court, through Chief Justice Concepcion, said that "although public office is not an element of the crime of murder in [the] abstract," the facts in a particular case may show that x x x the offense therein charged is intimately connected with [the accuseds] respective offices and was perpetrated while they were in the performance, though improper or irregular, of their official functions. Indeed, [the accused] had no personal motive to commit the crime and they would not have committed it had they not held their aforesaid offices. x x x20 Moreover, it is beyond clarity that the same provision of Section 4(b) does not mention any qualification as to the public officials involved. It simply stated, public officials and employees mentioned in subsection (a) of the same section. Therefore, it refers to those public officials with Salary Grade 27 and above, except those specifically enumerated. It is a well-settled principle of legal hermeneutics that words of a statute will be interpreted in their 21 natural, plain and ordinary acceptation and signification, unless it is evident that the legislature intended a technical 22 or special legal meaning to those words. who are, ordinarily, untrained philologists
23

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WHEREFORE, the Petition dated April 20, 2005 is hereby GRANTED and the Resolution of the Sandiganbayan (Third Division) dated February 28, 2005 is NULLIFIED and SET ASIDE. Consequently, let the case be REMANDED to the Sandiganbayan for further proceedings. SO ORDERED. 2. G.R. No. 162059 January 22, 2008 HANNAH EUNICE D. SERANA, petitioner, vs. SANDIGANBAYAN and PEOPLE OF THE PHILIPPINES, respondents. DECISION REYES, R.T., J.: CAN the Sandiganbayan try a government scholaran accused, along with her brother, of swindling government funds? MAAARI bang litisin ng Sandiganbayan ang isang iskolar ng bayan, at ang kanyang kapatid, na kapwa pinararatangan ng estafa ng pera ng bayan? The jurisdictional question is posed in this petition for certiorari assailing the Resolutions 1 of the Sandiganbayan, Fifth Division, denying petitioners motion to quash the information and her motion for reconsideration. The Antecedents Petitioner Hannah Eunice D. Serana was a senior student of the University of the Philippines-Cebu. A student of a state university is known as a government scholar. She was appointed by then President Joseph Estrada on December 21, 1999 as a student regent of UP, to serve a one-year term starting January 1, 2000 and ending on December 31, 2000. In the early part of 2000, petitioner discussed with President Estrada the renovation of Vinzons Hall Annex in UP Diliman.2 On September 4, 2000, petitioner, with her siblings and relatives, registered with the Securities and Exchange Commission the Office of the Student Regent Foundation, Inc. (OSRFI). 3 One of the projects of the OSRFI was the renovation of the Vinzons Hall Annex.4 President Estrada gave Fifteen Million Pesos (P15,000,000.00) to the OSRFI as financial assistance for the proposed renovation. The source of the funds, according to the information, was the Office of the President. The renovation of Vinzons Hall Annex failed to materialize. 5 The succeeding student regent, Kristine Clare Bugayong, and Christine Jill De Guzman, Secretary General of the KASAMA sa U.P., a system-wide alliance of student councils within the state university, consequently filed a complaint for Malversation of Public Funds and Property with the Office of the Ombudsman.6 On July 3, 2003, the Ombudsman, after due investigation, found probable cause to indict petitioner and her brother 7 Jade Ian D. Serana for estafa, docketed as Criminal Case No. 27819 of the Sandiganbayan. The Information reads: The undersigned Special Prosecution Officer III, Office of the Special Prosecutor, hereby accuses HANNAH EUNICE D. SERANA and JADE IAN D. SERANA of the crime of Estafa, defined and penalized under Paragraph 2(a), Article 315 of the Revised Penal Code, as amended committed as follows: That on October, 24, 2000, or sometime prior or subsequent thereto, in Quezon City, Metro Manila, Philippines, and within the jurisdiction of this Honorable Court, above-named accused, HANNAH EUNICE D. SERANA, a high-ranking public officer, being then the Student Regent of the University of the Philippines, Diliman, Quezon City, while in the performance of her official functions, committing the offense in relation to her office and taking advantage of her position, with intent to gain, conspiring with her brother, JADE IAN D. SERANA, a private individual, did then and there wilfully, unlawfully and feloniously defraud the government
**

52
by falsely and fraudulently representing to former President Joseph Ejercito Estrada that the renovation of the Vinzons Hall of the University of the Philippines will be renovated and renamed as "President Joseph Ejercito Estrada Student Hall," and for which purpose accused HANNAH EUNICE D. SERANA requested the amount of FIFTEEN MILLION PESOS (P15,000,000.00), Philippine Currency, from the Office of the President, and the latter relying and believing on said false pretenses and misrepresentation gave and delivered to said accused Land Bank Check No. 91353 dated October 24, 2000 in the amount of FIFTEEN MILLION PESOS (P15,000,000.00), which check was subsequently encashed by accused Jade Ian D. Serana on October 25, 2000 and misappropriated for their personal use and benefit, and despite repeated demands made upon the accused for them to return aforesaid amount, the said accused failed and refused to do so to the damage and prejudice of the government in the aforesaid amount. CONTRARY TO LAW. (Underscoring supplied) Petitioner moved to quash the information. She claimed that the Sandiganbayan does not have any jurisdiction over the offense charged or over her person, in her capacity as UP student regent. Petitioner claimed that Republic Act (R.A.) No. 3019, as amended by R.A. No. 8249, enumerates the crimes or 8 9 offenses over which the Sandiganbayan has jurisdiction. It has no jurisdiction over the crime of estafa. It only has jurisdiction over crimes covered by Title VII, Chapter II, Section 2 (Crimes Committed by Public Officers), Book II of the Revised Penal Code (RPC). Estafa falling under Title X, Chapter VI (Crimes Against Property), Book II of the RPC is not within the Sandiganbayans jurisdiction. She also argued that it was President Estrada, not the government, that was duped. Even assuming that she received the P15,000,000.00, that amount came from Estrada, not from the coffers of the government. 10 Petitioner likewise posited that the Sandiganbayan had no jurisdiction over her person. As a student regent, she was not a public officer since she merely represented her peers, in contrast to the other regents who held their positions in an ex officio capacity. She addsed that she was a simple student and did not receive any salary as a student regent. She further contended that she had no power or authority to receive monies or funds. Such power was vested with the Board of Regents (BOR) as a whole. Since it was not alleged in the information that it was among her functions or duties to receive funds, or that the crime was committed in connection with her official functions, the same is beyond the jurisdiction of the Sandiganbayan citing the case of Soller v. Sandiganbayan.11 The Ombudsman opposed the motion.12 It disputed petitioners interpretation of the law. Section 4(b) of Presidential Decree (P.D.) No. 1606 clearly contains the catch -all phrase "in relation to office," thus, the Sandiganbayan has jurisdiction over the charges against petitioner. In the same breath, the prosecution countered that the source of the money is a matter of defense. It should be threshed out during a full-blown trial.13 According to the Ombudsman, petitioner, despite her protestations, iwas a public officer. As a member of the BOR, she hads the general powers of administration and exerciseds the corporate powers of UP. Based on Mech ems definition of a public office, petitioners stance that she was not compensated, hence, not a public officer, is erroneous. Compensation is not an essential part of public office. Parenthetically, compensation has been interpreted to include allowances. By this definition, petitioner was compensated. 14 Sandiganbayan Disposition In a Resolution dated November 14, 2003, the Sandiganbayan denied petitioners mo tion for lack of merit.15 It ratiocinated: The focal point in controversy is the jurisdiction of the Sandiganbayan over this case. It is extremely erroneous to hold that only criminal offenses covered by Chapter II, Section 2, Title VII, Book II of the Revised Penal Code are within the jurisdiction of this Court. As correctly pointed out by the prosecution, Section 4(b) of R.A. 8249 provides that the Sandiganbayan also has jurisdiction over other offenses committed by public officials and employees in relation to their office. From this provision, there is no single doubt that this Court has jurisdiction over the offense of estafa committed by a public official in relation to his office.

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Accused-movants claim that being merely a member in representation of the student body, she was never a public officer since she never received any compensation nor does she fall under Salary Grade 27, is of no moment, in view of the express provision of Section 4 of Republic Act No. 8249 which provides: Sec. 4. Jurisdiction The Sandiganbayan shall exercise exclusive original jurisdiction in all cases involving: (A) x x x (1) Officials of the executive branch occupying the positions of regional director and higher, otherwise classified as Grade "27" and higher, of the Compensation and Position Classification Act of 1989 (Republic Act No. 6758), specifically including: xxxx (g) Presidents, directors or trustees, or managers of government-owned or controlled corporations, state universities or educational institutions or foundations. (Italics supplied) It is very clear from the aforequoted provision that the Sandiganbayan has original exclusive jurisdiction over all offenses involving the officials enumerated in subsection (g), irrespective of their salary grades, because the primordial consideration in the inclusion of these officials is the nature of their responsibilities and functions. Is accused-movant included in the contemplated provision of law? A meticulous review of the existing Charter of the University of the Philippines reveals that the Board of Regents, to which accused-movant belongs, exclusively exercises the general powers of administration and corporate powers in the university, such as: 1) To receive and appropriate to the ends specified by law such sums as may be provided by law for the support of the university; 2) To prescribe rules for its own government and to enact for the government of the university such general ordinances and regulations, not contrary to law, as are consistent with the purposes of the university; and 3) To appoint, on recommendation of the President of the University, professors, instructors, lecturers and other employees of the University; to fix their compensation, hours of service, and such other duties and conditions as it may deem proper; to grant to them in its discretion leave of absence under such regulations as it may promulgate, any other provisions of law to the contrary notwithstanding, and to remove them for cause after an investigation and hearing shall have been had. It is well-established in corporation law that the corporation can act only through its board of directors, or board of trustees in the case of non-stock corporations. The board of directors or trustees, therefore, is the governing body of the corporation. It is unmistakably evident that the Board of Regents of the University of the Philippines is performing functions similar to those of the Board of Trustees of a non-stock corporation. This draws to fore the conclusion that being a member of such board, accused-movant undoubtedly falls within the category of public officials upon whom this Court is vested with original exclusive jurisdiction, regardless of the fact that she does not occupy a position classified as Salary Grade 27 or higher under the Compensation and Position Classification Act of 1989. Finally, this court finds that accused-movants contention that the same of P15 Million was received from former President Estrada and not from the coffers of the government, is a matter a defense that should be properly ventilated during the trial on the merits of this case. 16 On November 19, 2003, petitioner filed a motion for reconsideration. 17 The motion was denied with finality in a 18 Resolution dated February 4, 2004. Issue

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Petitioner is now before this Court, contending that "THE RESPONDENT COURT COMMITTED GRAVE ABUSE OF DISCRETION AMOUNTING TO LACK AND/OR EXCESS OF JURISDICTION IN NOT QUASHING THE INFORMATION AND DISMISING THE CASE NOTWITHSTANDING THAT IS HAS NO JURISDICTION OVER THE 19 OFFENSE CHARGED IN THE INFORMATION." In her discussion, she reiterates her four-fold argument below, namely: (a) the Sandiganbayan has no jurisdiction over estafa; (b) petitioner is not a public officer with Salary Grade 27 and she paid her tuition fees; (c) the offense charged was not committed in relation to her office; (d) the funds in question personally came from President Estrada, not from the government. Our Ruling The petition cannot be granted. Preliminarily, the denial of a motion to quash is not correctible by certiorari. We would ordinarily dismiss this petition for certiorari outright on procedural grounds. Well-established is the rule that when a motion to quash in a criminal case is denied, the remedy is not a petition for certiorari, but for petitioners to go to trial, without prejudice to reiterating the special defenses invoked in their motion to quash. 20 Remedial measures as regards interlocutory orders, such as a motion to quash, are frowned upon and often dismissed. 21 The evident reason for this rule is to avoid multiplicity of appeals in a single action. 22 In Newsweek, Inc. v. Intermediate Appellate Court,23 the Court clearly explained and illustrated the rule and the exceptions, thus: As a general rule, an order denying a motion to dismiss is merely interlocutory and cannot be subject of appeal until final judgment or order is rendered. (Sec. 2 of Rule 41). The ordinary procedure to be followed in such a case is to file an answer, go to trial and if the decision is adverse, reiterate the issue on appeal from the final judgment. The same rule applies to an order denying a motion to quash, except that instead of filing an answer a plea is entered and no appeal lies from a judgment of acquittal. This general rule is subject to certain exceptions. If the court, in denying the motion to dismiss or motion to quash, acts without or in excess of jurisdiction or with grave abuse of discretion, then certiorari or prohibition lies. The reason is that it would be unfair to require the defendant or accused to undergo the ordeal and expense of a trial if the court has no jurisdiction over the subject matter or offense, or is not the court of proper venue, or if the denial of the motion to dismiss or motion to quash is made with grave abuse of discretion or a whimsical and capricious exercise of judgment. In such cases, the ordinary remedy of appeal cannot be plain and adequate. The following are a few examples of the exceptions to the general rule. In De Jesus v. Garcia (19 SCRA 554), upon the denial of a motion to dismiss based on lack of jurisdiction over the subject matter, this Court granted the petition for certiorari and prohibition against the City Court of Manila and directed the respondent court to dismiss the case. In Lopez v. City Judge (18 SCRA 616), upon the denial of a motion to quash based on lack of jurisdiction over the offense, this Court granted the petition for prohibition and enjoined the respondent court from further proceeding in the case. In Enriquez v. Macadaeg (84 Phil. 674), upon the denial of a motion to dismiss based on improper venue, this Court granted the petition for prohibition and enjoined the respondent judge from taking cognizance of the case except to dismiss the same. In Manalo v. Mariano (69 SCRA 80), upon the denial of a motion to dismiss based on bar by prior judgment, this Court granted the petition for certiorari and directed the respondent judge to dismiss the case. In Yuviengco v. Dacuycuy (105 SCRA 668), upon the denial of a motion to dismiss based on the Statute of Frauds, this Court granted the petition for certiorari and dismissed the amended complaint.

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In Tacas v. Cariaso (72 SCRA 527), this Court granted the petition for certiorari after the motion to quash based on double jeopardy was denied by respondent judge and ordered him to desist from further action in the criminal case except to dismiss the same. In People v. Ramos (83 SCRA 11), the order denying the motion to quash based on prescription was set 24 aside on certiorari and the criminal case was dismissed by this Court. We do not find the Sandiganbayan to have committed a grave abuse of discretion. The jurisdiction of the Sandiganbayan is set by P.D. No. 1606, as amended, not by R.A. No. 3019, as amended. We first address petitioners contention that the jurisdiction of the Sandiganbayan is determined by Section 4 of R.A. No. 3019 (The Anti-Graft and Corrupt Practices Act, as amended). We note that petitioner refers to Section 4 of the 25 said law yet quotes Section 4 of P.D. No. 1606, as amended, in her motion to quash before the Sandiganbayan. 26 27 She repeats the reference in the instant petition for certiorari and in her memorandum of authorities. We cannot bring ourselves to write this off as a mere clerical or typographical error. It bears stressing that petitioner repeated this claim twice despite corrections made by the Sandiganbayan. 28 Her claim has no basis in law. It is P.D. No. 1606, as amended, rather than R.A. No. 3019, as amended, that determines the jurisdiction of the Sandiganbayan. A brief legislative history of the statute creating the Sandiganbayan is in order. The Sandiganbayan was created by P.D. No. 1486, promulgated by then President Ferdinand E. Marcos on June 11, 1978. It was promulgated to attain the highest norms of official conduct required of public officers and employees, based on the concept that public officers and employees shall serve with the highest degree of responsibility, integrity, loyalty and efficiency and shall remain at all times accountable to the people. 29 P.D. No. 1486 was, in turn, amended by P.D. No. 1606 which was promulgated on December 10, 1978. P.D. No. 1606 expanded the jurisdiction of the Sandiganbayan. 30 P.D. No. 1606 was later amended by P.D. No. 1861 on March 23, 1983, further altering the Sandiganbayan jurisdiction. R.A. No. 7975 approved on March 30, 1995 made succeeding amendments to P.D. No. 1606, which was again amended on February 5, 1997 by R.A. No. 8249. Section 4 of R.A. No. 8249 further modified the jurisdiction of the Sandiganbayan. As it now stands, the Sandiganbayan has jurisdiction over the following: Sec. 4. Jurisdiction. - The Sandiganbayan shall exercise exclusive original jurisdiction in all cases involving: A. Violations of Republic Act No. 3019, as amended, other known as the Anti-Graft and Corrupt Practices Act, Republic Act No. 1379, and Chapter II, Section 2, Title VII, Book II of the Revised Penal Code, where one or more of the accused are officials occupying the following positions in the government, whether in a permanent, acting or interim capacity, at the time of the commission of the offense: (1) Officials of the executive branch occupying the positions of regional director and higher, otherwise classified as Grade "27" and higher, of the Compensation and Position Classification Act of 989 (Republic Act No. 6758), specifically including: " (a) Provincial governors, vice-governors, members of the sangguniang panlalawigan, and provincial treasurers, assessors, engineers, and other city department heads; " (b) City mayor, vice-mayors, members of the sangguniang panlungsod, city treasurers, assessors, engineers, and other city department heads; "(c ) Officials of the diplomatic service occupying the position of consul and higher; " (d) Philippine army and air force colonels, naval captains, and all officers of higher rank;

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" (e) Officers of the Philippine National Police while occupying the position of provincial director and those holding the rank of senior superintended or higher; " (f) City and provincial prosecutors and their assistants, and officials and prosecutors in the Office of the Ombudsman and special prosecutor; " (g) Presidents, directors or trustees, or managers of government-owned or controlled corporations, state universities or educational institutions or foundations. " (2) Members of Congress and officials thereof classified as Grade "27'" and up under the Compensation and Position Classification Act of 1989; " (3) Members of the judiciary without prejudice to the provisions of the Constitution; " (4) Chairmen and members of Constitutional Commission, without prejudice to the provisions of the Constitution; and " (5) All other national and local officials classified as Grade "27'" and higher under the Compensation and Position Classification Act of 1989. B. Other offenses of felonies whether simple or complexed with other crimes committed by the public officials and employees mentioned in subsection a of this section in relation to their office. C. Civil and criminal cases filed pursuant to and in connection with Executive Order Nos. 1, 2, 14 and 14-A, issued in 1986. " In cases where none of the accused are occupying positions corresponding to Salary Grade "27'" or higher, as prescribed in the said Republic Act No. 6758, or military and PNP officer mentioned above, exclusive original jurisdiction thereof shall be vested in the proper regional court, metropolitan trial court, municipal trial court, and municipal circuit trial court, as the case may be, pursuant to their respective jurisdictions as provided in Batas Pambansa Blg. 129, as amended. " The Sandiganbayan shall exercise exclusive appellate jurisdiction over final judgments, resolutions or order of regional trial courts whether in the exercise of their own original jurisdiction or of their appellate jurisdiction as herein provided. " The Sandiganbayan shall have exclusive original jurisdiction over petitions for the issuance of the writs of mandamus, prohibition, certiorari, habeas corpus, injunctions, and other ancillary writs and processes in aid of its appellate jurisdiction and over petitions of similar nature, including quo warranto, arising or that may arise in cases filed or which may be filed under Executive Order Nos. 1, 2, 14 and 14-A, issued in 1986: Provided, That the jurisdiction over these petitions shall not be exclusive of the Supreme Court. " The procedure prescribed in Batas Pambansa Blg. 129, as well as the implementing rules that the Supreme Court has promulgated and may thereafter promulgate, relative to appeals/petitions for review to the Court of Appeals, shall apply to appeals and petitions for review filed with the Sandiganbayan. In all cases elevated to the Sandiganbayan and from the Sandiganbayan to the Supreme Court, the Office of the Ombudsman, through its special prosecutor, shall represent the People of the Philippines, except in cases filed pursuant to Executive Order Nos. 1, 2, 14 and 14-A, issued in 1986. " In case private individuals are charged as co-principals, accomplices or accessories with the public officers or employees, including those employed in government-owned or controlled corporations, they shall be tried jointly with said public officers and employees in the proper courts which shall exercise exclusive jurisdiction over them. " Any provisions of law or Rules of Court to the contrary notwithstanding, the criminal action and the corresponding civil action for the recovery of civil liability shall, at all times, be simultaneously instituted with, and jointly determined in, the same proceeding by the Sandiganbayan or the appropriate courts, the filing of

57
the criminal action being deemed to necessarily carry with it the filing of the civil action, and no right to reserve the filing such civil action separately from the criminal action shall be recognized: Provided, however, That where the civil action had heretofore been filed separately but judgment therein has not yet been rendered, and the criminal case is hereafter filed with the Sandiganbayan or the appropriate court, said civil action shall be transferred to the Sandiganbayan or the appropriate court, as the case may be, for consolidation and joint determination with the criminal action, otherwise the separate civil action shall be deemed abandoned." Upon the other hand, R.A. No. 3019 is a penal statute approved on August 17, 1960. The said law represses certain acts of public officers and private persons alike which constitute graft or corrupt practices or which may lead thereto.31 Pursuant to Section 10 of R.A. No. 3019, all prosecutions for violation of the said law should be filed with the Sandiganbayan.32 R.A. No. 3019 does not contain an enumeration of the cases over which the Sandiganbayan has jurisdiction. In fact, Section 4 of R.A. No. 3019 erroneously cited by petitioner, deals not with the jurisdiction of the Sandiganbayan but with prohibition on private individuals. We quote: Section 4. Prohibition on private individuals. (a) It shall be unlawful for any person having family or close personal relation with any public official to capitalize or exploit or take advantage of such family or close personal relation by directly or indirectly requesting or receiving any present, gift or material or pecuniary advantage from any other person having some business, transaction, application, request or contract with the government, in which such public official has to intervene. Family relation shall include the spouse or relatives by consanguinity or affinity in the third civil degree. The word "close personal relation" shall include close personal friendship, social and fraternal connections, and professional employment all giving rise to intimacy which assures free access to such public officer. (b) It shall be unlawful for any person knowingly to induce or cause any public official to commit any of the offenses defined in Section 3 hereof. In fine, the two statutes differ in that P.D. No. 1606, as amended, defines the jurisdiction of the Sandiganbayan while R.A. No. 3019, as amended, defines graft and corrupt practices and provides for their penalties. Sandiganbayan has jurisdiction over the offense of estafa. Relying on Section 4 of P.D. No. 1606, petitioner contends that estafa is not among those crimes cognizable by the Sandiganbayan. We note that in hoisting this argument, petitioner isolated the first paragraph of Section 4 of P.D. No. 1606, without regard to the succeeding paragraphs of the said provision. The rule is well-established in this jurisdiction that statutes should receive a sensible construction so as to avoid an 33 unjust or an absurd conclusion. Interpretatio talis in ambiguis semper fienda est, ut evitetur inconveniens et absurdum. Where there is ambiguity, such interpretation as will avoid inconvenience and absurdity is to be adopted. Kung saan mayroong kalabuan, ang pagpapaliwanag ay hindi dapat maging mahirap at katawa-tawa. Every section, provision or clause of the statute must be expounded by reference to each other in order to arrive at the effect contemplated by the legislature. 34 The intention of the legislator must be ascertained from the whole text of 35 the law and every part of the act is to be taken into view. In other words, petitioners interpretation lies in direct opposition to the rule that a statute must be interpreted as a whole under the principle that the best interpreter of a 36 statute is the statute itself. Optima statuti interpretatrix est ipsum statutum. Ang isang batas ay marapat na bigyan ng kahulugan sa kanyang kabuuan sa ilalim ng prinsipyo na ang pinakamainam na interpretasyon ay ang mismong batas. Section 4(B) of P.D. No. 1606 reads: B. Other offenses or felonies whether simple or complexed with other crimes committed by the public officials and employees mentioned in subsection a of this section in relation to their office.

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Evidently, the Sandiganbayan has jurisdiction over other felonies committed by public officials in relation to their office. We see no plausible or sensible reason to exclude estafa as one of the offenses included in Section 4(bB) of P.D. No. 1606. Plainly, estafa is one of those other felonies. The jurisdiction is simply subject to the twin requirements that (a) the offense is committed by public officials and employees mentioned in Section 4(A) of P.D. No. 1606, as amended, and that (b) the offense is committed in relation to their office. In Perlas, Jr. v. People, the Court had occasion to explain that the Sandiganbayan has jurisdiction over an indictment for estafa versus a director of the National Parks Development Committee, a government instrumentality. The Court held then: The National Parks Development Committee was created originally as an Executive Committee on January 14, 1963, for the development of the Quezon Memorial, Luneta and other national parks (Executive Order No. 30). It was later designated as the National Parks Development Committee (NPDC) on February 7, 1974 (E.O. No. 69). On January 9, 1966, Mrs. Imelda R. Marcos and Teodoro F. Valencia were designated Chairman and Vice-Chairman respectively (E.O. No. 3). Despite an attempt to transfer it to the Bureau of Forest Development, Department of Natural Resources, on December 1, 1975 (Letter of Implementation No. 39, issued pursuant to PD No. 830, dated November 27, 1975), the NPDC has remained under the Office of the President (E.O. No. 709, dated July 27, 1981). Since 1977 to 1981, the annual appropriations decrees listed NPDC as a regular government agency under the Office of the President and allotments for its maintenance and operating expenses were issued direct to NPDC (Exh. 10-A, Perlas, Item Nos. 2, 3). The Sandiganbayans jurisdiction over estafa was reiterated with greater firmness in Bondoc v. Sandiganbayan.38 Pertinent parts of the Courts ruling in Bondoc read: Furthermore, it is not legally possible to transfer Bondocs cases to the Regional Trial Court, for the simple reason that the latter would not have jurisdiction over the offenses. As already above intimated, the inability of the Sandiganbayan to hold a joint trial of Bondocs cases and those of the government employees separately charged for the same crimes, has not altered the nature of the offenses charged, as estafa thru falsification punishable by penalties higher than prision correccional or imprisonment of six years, or a fine of P6,000.00, committed by government employees in conspiracy with private persons, including Bondoc. These crimes are within the exclusive, original jurisdiction of the Sandiganbayan. They simply cannot be taken cognizance of by the regular courts, apart from the fact that even if the cases could be so transferred, a joint trial would nonetheless not be possible. Petitioner UP student regent is a public officer. Petitioner also contends that she is not a public officer. She does not receive any salary or remuneration as a UP student regent. This is not the first or likely the last time that We will be called upon to define a public officer. In Khan, 39 Jr. v. Office of the Ombudsman, We ruled that it is difficult to pin down the definition of a public officer. The 1987 Constitution does not define who are public officers. Rather, the varied definitions and concepts are found in different statutes and jurisprudence. In Aparri v. Court of Appeals,
40 37

the Court held that:

A public office is the right, authority, and duty created and conferred by law, by which for a given period, either fixed by law or enduring at the pleasure of the creating power, an individual is invested with some portion of the sovereign functions of the government, to be exercise by him for the benefit of the public ([Mechem Public Offices and Officers,] Sec. 1). The right to hold a public office under our political system is therefore not a natural right. It exists, when it exists at all only because and by virtue of some law expressly or impliedly creating and conferring it (Mechem Ibid., Sec. 64). There is no such thing as a vested interest or an estate in an office, or even an absolute right to hold office. Excepting constitutional offices which provide for special immunity as regards salary and tenure, no one can be said to have any vested right in an office or its salary (42 Am. Jur. 881). In Laurel v. Desierto,41 the Court adopted the definition of Mechem of a public office:

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"A public office is the right, authority and duty, created and conferred by law, by which, for a given period, either fixed by law or enduring at the pleasure of the creating power, an individual is invested with some portion of the sovereign functions of the government, to be exercised by him for the benefit of the public. The 42 individual so invested is a public officer." Petitioner claims that she is not a public officer with Salary Grade 27; she is, in fact, a regular tuition fee-paying student. This is likewise bereft of merit. It is not only the salary grade that determines the jurisdiction of the Sandiganbayan. The Sandiganbayan also has jurisdiction over other officers enumerated in P.D. No. 1606. In Geduspan v. People,43 We held that while the first part of Section 4(A) covers only officials with Salary Grade 27 and higher, its second part specifically includes other executive officials whose positions may not be of Salary Grade 27 and higher but who are by express provision of law placed under the jurisdiction of the said court. Petitioner falls under the jurisdiction of the Sandiganbayan as she is placed there by express provision of law. 44 Section 4(A)(1)(g) of P.D. No. 1606 explictly vested the Sandiganbayan with jurisdiction over Presidents, directors or trustees, or managers of government-owned or controlled corporations, state universities or educational institutions or foundations. Petitioner falls under this category. As the Sandiganbayan pointed out, the BOR performs functions similar to those of a board of trustees of a non-stock corporation.45 By express mandate of law, petitioner is, indeed, a public officer as contemplated by P.D. No. 1606. Moreover, it is well established that compensation is not an essential element of public office. 46 At most, it is merely incidental to the public office.47 Delegation of sovereign functions is essential in the public office. An investment in an individual of some portion of the sovereign functions of the government, to be exercised by him for the benefit of the public makes one a public officer.48 The administration of the UP is a sovereign function in line with Article XIV of the Constitution. UP performs a legitimate governmental function by providing advanced instruction in literature, philosophy, the sciences, and arts, and giving professional and technical training.49 Moreover, UP is maintained by the Government and it declares no dividends and is not a corporation created for profit.50 The offense charged was committed in relation to public office, according to the Information. Petitioner likewise argues that even assuming that she is a public officer, the Sandiganbayan would still not have jurisdiction over the offense because it was not committed in relation to her office. According to petitioner, she had no power or authority to act without the approval of the BOR. She adds there was no Board Resolution issued by the BOR authorizing her to contract with then President Estrada; and that her acts were not ratified by the governing body of the state university. Resultantly, her act was done in a private capacity and not in relation to public office. It is axiomatic that jurisdiction is determined by the averments in the information. 51 More than that, jurisdiction is not affected by the pleas or the theories set up by defendant or respondent in an answer, a motion to dismiss, or a motion to quash.52 Otherwise, jurisdiction would become dependent almost entirely upon the whims of defendant or 53 respondent. In the case at bench, the information alleged, in no uncertain terms that petitioner, being then a student regent of U.P., "while in the performance of her official functions, committing the offense in relation to her office and taking advantage of her position, with intent to gain, conspiring with her brother, JADE IAN D. SERANA, a private individual, did then and there wilfully, unlawfully and feloniously defraud the government x x x." (Underscoring supplied) Clearly, there was no grave abuse of discretion on the part of the Sandiganbayan when it did not quash the information based on this ground. Source of funds is a defense that should be raised during trial on the merits.

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It is contended anew that the amount came from President Estradas private funds and not from the government coffers. Petitioner insists the charge has no leg to stand on. We cannot agree. The information alleges that the funds came from the Office of the President and not its then occupant, President Joseph Ejercito Estrada. Under the information, it is averred that "petitioner requested the amount of Fifteen Million Pesos (P15,000,000.00), Philippine Currency, from the Office of the President, and the latter relying and believing on said false pretenses and misrepresentation gave and delivered to said accused Land Bank Check No. 91353 dated October 24, 2000 in the amount of Fifteen Million Pesos (P15,000,000.00)." Again, the Court sustains the Sandiganbayan observation that the source of the P15,000,000 is a matter of defense 54 that should be ventilated during the trial on the merits of the instant case. A lawyer owes candor, fairness and honesty to the Court. As a parting note, petitioners counsel, Renato G. dela Cruz, misrepresented his reference to Section 4 of P.D. No. 1606 as a quotation from Section 4 of R.A. No. 3019. A review of his motion to quash, the instant petition for certiorari and his memorandum, unveils the misquotation. We urge petitioners counsel to observe Canon 10 of the Code of Professional Responsibility, specifically Rule 10.02 of the Rules stating that "a lawyer shall not misquote or misrepresent." The Court stressed the importance of this rule in Pangan v. Ramos,55 where Atty Dionisio D. Ramos used the name Pedro D.D. Ramos in connection with a criminal case. The Court ruled that Atty. Ramos resorted to deception by using a name different from that with which he was authorized. We severely reprimanded Atty. Ramos and warned that a repetition may warrant suspension or disbarment. 56 We admonish petitioners counsel to be more careful and accurate in his citation. A lawyers conduct before the court 57 should be characterized by candor and fairness. The administration of justice would gravely suffer if lawyers do not act with complete candor and honesty before the courts. 58 WHEREFORE, the petition is DENIED for lack of merit. SO ORDERED. 3. G.R. No. 137237 September 17, 2002 ANTONIO PROSPERO ESQUIVEL and MARK ANTHONY ESQUIVEL, petitioners, vs. THE HON. OMBUDSMAN, THE SANDIGANBAYAN (THIRD DIVISION), THE PEOPLE OF THE PHILIPPINES and HERMINIGILDO EDUARDO, respondents. RESOLUTION QUISUMBING, J.: This special civil action for certiorari, prohibition, and mandamus with prayer for preliminary injunction and/or temporary restraining order seeks to annul and set aside: (1) the Ombudsman resolution 2 dated June 15, 1998 finding prima facie case against herein petitioners, and (2) the order 3 denying petitioners motion for reconsideration. 4 Further, in their supplemental petition, petitioners assail the Sandiganbayan for taking cognizance of cases without or beyond its jurisdiction. They impleaded that court and the People of the Philippines as additional parties in this case.1wphi1.nt The factual antecedents of this case are as follows: PO2 Herminigildo C. Eduardo and SPO1 Modesto P. Catacutan are both residents of Barangay Dampulan, Jaen, Nueva Ecija, but assigned with the Regional Intelligence and Investigation Division (RIID), Police Regional Office 3, 5 Camp Olivas, San Fernando, Pampanga. In their respective complaint-affidavits, filed before the Philippine National Police Criminal Investigation and Detection Group (PNP-CIDG), Third Regional Office, Camp Olivas, San 6 Fernando, Pampanga, Eduardo and Catacutan charged herein petitioners Antonio Prospero Esquivel, municipal
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mayor of Jaen and his brother, Mark Anthony "Eboy" Esquivel, barangay captain of barangay Apo, Jaen, with alleged illegal arrest, arbitrary detention, maltreatment, attempted murder, and grave threats. Also included in the charges were SPO1 Reynaldo Espiritu, SPO2 Nestor Villa Almayda, and LTO Officer Aurelio Diaz. PO2 Eduardo and SPO1 Catacutan likewise accused P/S Insp. Bienvenido C. Padua and SPO3 Inocencio P. Bautista of the Jaen Municipal Police Force of dereliction of duty. The initial investigation conducted by the PNP-CIDG showed that at about 12:30 p.m. of March 14, 1998, PO2 Eduardo was about to eat lunch at his parents house at Sta. Monica Village, Dampulan, Jaen, Nueva Ecija, when petitioners arrived. SPO1 Espiritu, SPO2 Almayda, LTO Officer Diaz, and several unidentified persons accompanied them. Without further ado, petitioners disarmed PO2 Eduardo of his Cal. 45 service pistol, which was covered by a Memorandum Receipt and COMELEC Gun Ban Exemption. They then forced him to board petitioners vehicle and brought him to the Jaen Municipal Hall. PO2 Eduardo also stated that while they were on their way to the town hall, Mayor Esquivel mauled him with the use of a firearm and threatened to kill him. Mayor Esquivel pointed a gun at PO2 Eduardo and said, "Putang-ina mo, papatayin kita, aaksidentihin kita dito, bakit mo ako kinakalaban!" (You son of a bitch! I will kill you, I will create an accident for you. Why are you against me?) Upon reaching the municipal hall, Barangay Captain Mark Anthony "Eboy" Esquivel shoved PO2 Eduardo inside an adjacent hut. Mayor Esquivel then ordered SPO1 Espiritu to kill him, saying "Patayin mo na iyan at gawan ng senaryo at report." (Kill him, then create a scenario and make a report.) At this point, according to SPO1 Catacutan, he arrived to verify what happened to his teammate, PO2 Eduardo, but Mayor Esquivel likewise threatened him. Mayor Esquivel then ordered P/S Insp. Bienvenido Padua of the Jaen Police Station to file charges against PO2 Eduardo. Then, the mayor once again struck PO2 Eduardo in the nape with a handgun, while Mark Anthony "Eboy" Esquivel was holding the latter. PO2 Eduardo then fell and lost consciousness. When he regained his consciousness, he was told that he would be released. Prior to his release, however, he was forced to sign a statement in the police blotter that he was in good physical condition. PO2 Eduardo told the PNP-CIDG investigators that he was most likely maltreated and threatened because of jueteng and tupada. He said the mayor believed he was among the law enforcers who raided a jueteng den in Jaen that same day. He surmised that the mayor disliked the fact that he arrested members of crime syndicates with connections to the mayor.7 In support of his sworn statement, PO2 Eduardo presented a medical certificate showing the injuries he suffered and other documentary evidence.8 After the initial investigation, the PNP-CIDG Third Regional Office forwarded the pertinent records to the Office of the Deputy Ombudsman for Luzon for appropriate action. 9 The Office of the Deputy Ombudsman for Luzon conducted a preliminary investigation and required petitioners and 10 their companions to file their respective counter-affidavits. In their joint counter-affidavit, petitioners and their companions denied the charges against them. Instead, they alleged that PO2 Eduardo is a fugitive from justice with an outstanding warrant of arrest for malversation. They further alleged that the gun confiscated from PO2 Eduardo was the subject of an illegal possession of firearm complaint. On June 15, 1998, the Deputy Ombudsman for Luzon issued the impugned resolution11 recommending that both Mayor Esquivel and Barangay Captain Mark Anthony "Eboy" Esquivel be indicted for the crime of less serious physical injuries, and Mayor Esquivel alone for grave threats. The charges against the other respondents below were dismissed, either provisionally or with finality. On August 14, 1998, Ombudsman Aniano A. Desierto approved the aforesaid resolution. Thereafter, separate informations docketed as Criminal Case No. 24777 for less serious physical injuries against Mayor Esquivel and Mark Anthony "Eboy" Esquivel, and Criminal Case No. 2477813 for grave threats against petitioner mayor, were filed with the Sandiganbayan. On August 26, 1998, petitioners moved for reconsideration of the August 14, 1998 resolution of the Deputy Ombudsman for Luzon. As directed by the Sandiganbayan, they likewise filed a motion for reconsideration/reinvestigation14 with the Office of the Special Prosecutor (OSP). That motion was, however, denied
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by the OSP in the assailed order OSPs order of denial.
15

dated December 7, 1998. On December 11, 1998, the Ombudsman approved the

On February 8, 1999, petitioners were arraigned in both cases, and they pleaded not guilty to the charges. With their failure to extend the suspension of proceedings previously granted by the Sandiganbayan by virtue of their motion for reconsideration, petitioners elevated the matter to this Court alleging grave abuse of discretion on the part of public respondents in rendering the resolution and the order. On June 9, 1999, we denied for lack of merit petitioners motion reiterating their plea for the issuance of a TRO 17 directing public respondents to refrain from prosecuting Criminal Cases Nos. 24777 and 24778. Petitioners now submit the following issues for our resolution: 1. WHETHER OR NOT RESPONDENT OMBUDSMAN GRAVELY ABUSED HIS DISCRETION IN DISREGARDING THE ADMISSION OF PRIVATE RESPONDENT THAT HE WAS IN GOOD PHYSICAL CONDITION WHEN HE WAS RELEASED FROM THE POLICE HEADQUARTERS OF JAEN, NUEVA ECIJA; 2. WHETHER OR NOT RESPONDENT OMBUDSMAN GRAVELY ABUSED HIS DISCRETION IN FINDING PROBABLE CAUSE FOR GRAVE THREATS WHEN PETITIONERS WERE LEGALLY EFFECTING THE ARREST OF THE PRIVATE RESPONDENT BY VIRTUE OF THE WARRANT OF ARREST ISSUED BY THE REGIONAL TRIAL COURT OF GAPAN, NUEVA ECIJA UNDER CRIM. CASE NO. 4925 FOR MALVERSATION OF GOVERNMENT PROPERTY; and 3. WHETHER OR NOT RESPONDENT SANDIGANBAYAN HAS JURISDICTION OVER THE OFFENSES FILED AGAINST PETITIONERS. Petitioners formulation of the issues may be reduced to the following: (1) Did the Ombudsman commit grave abuse of discretion in directing the filing of the informations against petitioners? (2) Did the Sandiganbayan commit grave abuse of discretion in assuming jurisdiction over Criminal Cases Nos. 24777 and 24778? Petitioners argue that the Ombudsman committed grave abuse of discretion when he failed to consider the exculpatory evidence in their favor, namely, the admission of PO2 Eduardo that he was in good physical condition when he left the police station in Jaen, Nueva Ecija. 18 With such admission, PO2 Eduardo is now estopped from claiming that he was injured since it is conclusive evidence against him and need not be proven in any other 19 proceeding. Public respondents, represented by the Office of the Ombudsman through the OSP, counter that petitioners raise a factual issue which is not a proper subject of a certiorari action. They further postulate that this is the very same defense advanced by petitioners in the charges against them and being evidentiary in nature, its resolution can only 20 be threshed out in a full-blown trial. We find the present petition without merit. The Ombudsman is empowered to determine whether there exists reasonable ground to believe that a crime has been committed and that the accused is probably guilty thereof and, thereafter, to file the corresponding information 21 with the appropriate courts. Settled is the rule that the Supreme Court will not ordinarily interfere with the Ombudsmans exercise of his investigatory and prosecutory powers without good and compelling reasons to indicate 22 23 otherwise. Said exercise of powers is based upon his constitutional mandate and the courts will not interfere in its exercise. The rule is based not only upon respect for the investigatory and prosecutory powers granted by the Constitution to the Office of the Ombudsman, but upon practicality as well. Otherwise, innumerable petitions seeking dismissal of investigatory proceedings conducted by the Ombudsman will grievously hamper the functions of the
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office and the courts, in much the same way that courts will be swamped if they had to review the exercise of discretion on the part of public prosecutors each time they decided to file an information or dismiss a complaint by a private complainant.24 Thus, in Rodrigo, Jr. vs. Sandiganbayan,25 we held that: This Court, moreover, has maintained a consistent policy of non-interference in the determination of the Ombudsman regarding the existence of probable cause, provided there is no grave abuse in the exercise of such discretion. In this case, petitioners utterly failed to establish that the Ombudsman acted with grave abuse of discretion in rendering the disputed resolution and order. There was no abuse of discretion on the part of the Ombudsman, much less grave abuse in disregarding PO2 26 Eduardos admission that he was in good physical condition when he was released from the police hea dquarters. Such admission was never brought up during the preliminary investigation. The records show that no such averment 27 was made in petitioners counter-affidavit nor was there any document purporting to be the exculpatory statement attached therein as an annex or exhibit. Petitioners only raised this issue in their motion for reconsideration. 28 In his opposition to said motion, PO2 Eduardo did admit signing a document to the effect that he was in good physical condition when he left the police station. However, the admission merely applied to the execution of said document and not to the truthfulness of its contents. Consequently, the admission that petitioners brand as incontrovertible is but a matter of evidence best addressed to the public respondents appreciation. It is evidentiary in nature and its probative value can be best passed upon after a full-blown trial on the merits. Given these circumstances, certiorari is not the proper remedy. As previously held, but now bears stressing: . . . [t]his Court is not a trier of facts and it is not its function to examine and evaluate the probative value of all evidence presented to the concerned tribunal which formed the basis of its impugned decision, resolution 29 or order. Petitioners would have this Court review the Sandiganbayans exercise of jurisdiction over Criminal Cases Nos. 24777-78. Petitioners theorize that the latter has no jurisdiction over their persons as they hold positions excluded in Republic Act No. 7975.30 As the positions of municipal mayors and barangay captains are not mentioned therein, they claim they are not covered by said law under the principle of expressio unius est exclusio alterius.31 Petitioners claim lacks merit. In Rodrigo, Jr. vs. Sandiganbayan, Binay vs. Sandiganbayan, and Layus vs. Sandiganbayan,34 we already held that municipal mayors fall under the original and exclusive jurisdiction of the Sandiganbayan. Nor can Barangay Captain Mark Anthony Esquivel claim that since he is not a municipal mayor, he is outside the Sandiganbayans jurisdiction. R.A. 7975, as amended by R.A. No. 8249, 35 provides that it is only in cases where "none of the accused (underscoring supplied) are occupying positions corresponding to salary grade 27 or higher"36 that "exclusive original jurisdiction shall be vested in the proper regional trial court, metropolitan trial court, municipal trial court, and municipal circuit court, as the case may be, pursuant to their respective jurisdictions as provided in Batas Pambansa Blg. 129, as amended."37 Note that under the 1991 Local Government Code, Mayor 38 Esquivel has a salary grade of 27. Since Barangay Captain Esquivel is the co-accused in Criminal Case No. 24777 of Mayor Esquivel, whose position falls under salary grade 27, the Sandiganbayan committed no grave abuse of discretion in assuming jurisdiction over said criminal case, as well as over Criminal Case No. 24778, involving both of them. Hence, the writ of certiorari cannot issue in petitioners favor. For the same reason, petitioners prayer for a writ of prohibition must also be denied. First, note that a writ of prohibition is directed to the court itself, commanding it to cease from the exercise of a 39 jurisdiction to which it has no legal claim. As earlier discussed, the Sandiganbayans jurisdiction over Criminal Cases Nos. 24777-78 is clearly founded on law. Second, being an extraordinary remedy, prohibition cannot be resorted to when the ordinary and usual remedies 40 provided by law are adequate and available. Prohibition is granted only where no other remedy is available or sufficient to afford redress. That the petitioners have another and complete remedy at law, through an appeal or 41 otherwise, is generally held sufficient reason for denying the issuance of the writ. In this case, petitioners were not devoid of a remedy in the ordinary course of law. They could have filed a motion to quash the informations at the first instance but they did not. They have only themselves to blame for this procedural lapse as they have not shown any adequate excuse for their failure to do so. Petitioners did make a belated oral motion for time to file a motion to quash
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the informations, during their much delayed arraignment, but its denial is not a proper subject for certiorari or prohibition as said denial is merely an interlocutory order. 43 Third, a writ of prohibition will not be issued against an inferior court unless the attention of the court whose 44 proceedings are sought to be stayed has been called to the alleged lack or excess of jurisdiction. The foundation of this rule is the respect and consideration due to the lower court and the expediency of preventing unnecessary 45 litigation; it cannot be presumed that the lower court would not properly rule on a jurisdictional objection if it were 46 properly presented to it. The records show that petitioners only raised the issue of the alleged lack of jurisdiction by the Sandiganbayan before this Court.1wphi1.nt Nor can petitioners claim entitlement to a writ of mandamus. Mandamus is employed to compel the performance, when refused, of a ministerial duty, this being its chief use and not a discretionary duty. 47 The duty is ministerial only when the discharge of the same requires neither the exercise of official discretion nor judgment.48 Hence, this Court cannot issue a writ of mandamus to control or review the exercise of discretion by the Ombudsman, for it is his discretion and judgment that is to be exercised and not that of the Court. When a decision has been reached in a matter involving discretion, a writ of mandamus may not be availed of to review or correct it, however erroneous it may be.49 Moreover, as earlier discussed, petitioners had another remedy available in the ordinary course of law. 50 Where such remedy is available in the ordinary course of law, mandamus will not lie. WHEREFORE, the instant petition is DISMISSED for lack of merit. Costs against petitioners. SO ORDERED.
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F. DISMISSAL OF THE COMPLAINT BECAUSE OF INORDINATE DELAY 1. G.R. No. 72335-39 March 21, 1988 FRANCISCO S. TATAD, petitioner, vs. THE SANDIGANBAYAN, and THE TANODBAYAN, respondents. YAP, J.: In this petition for certiorari and prohibition, with preliminary injunction, dated October 16, 1985, petitioner seeks to annul and set aside the resolution of the Tanodbayan of April 7, 1985, and the resolutions of the Sandiganbayan, dated 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 proceedings in Criminal Cases Nos. 10499, 10500, 10501, 10502 and 10503, an entitled "People of the Philippines versus Francisco S. Tatad." The petition alleges, among other things, that sometime in October 1974, Antonio de los Reyes, former Head Executive Assistant of the then Department of Public Information (DPI) and Assistant Officer-in-Charge of the Bureau of Broadcasts, filed a formal report with the Legal Panel, Presidential Security Command (PSC), charging petitioner, who was then Secretary and Head of the Department of Public Information, with alleged violations of Republic Act No. 3019, otherwise known as the Anti-Graft and Corrupt Practices Act. Apparently, no action was taken on said report. Then, in October 1979, or five years later, it became publicly known that petitioner had submitted his resignation as Minister of Public Information, and two months after, or on December 12, 1979, Antonio de los Reyes filed a complaint with the Tanodbayan (TBP Case No. 8005-16-07) against the 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 embodied in the previous report filed by complainant before the Legal Panel, Presidential Security Command (PSC). On January 26, 1980, the resignation of petitioner was accepted by President Ferdinand E. Marcos. On April 1, 1980, the Tanodbayan referred the complaint of Antonio de los Reyes to the Criminal Investigation Service (CIS) for factfinding investigation. On June 16, 1980, Roberto P. Dizon, CIS Investigator of the Investigation and Legal Panel, PSC, submitted his Investigation Report, with the following conclusion, ". . . evidence gathered indicates that former

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Min. TATAD have violated Sec. 3 (e) and Sec. 7 of RA 3019, respectively. On the other hand, Mr. ANTONIO L. CANTERO is also liable under Sec. 5 of RA 3019," and recommended appropriate legal action on the matter. Petitioner moved to dismiss the complaint against him, claiming immunity from prosecution by virtue of PD 1791, but the motion was denied on July 26, 1982 and his motion for reconsideration was also denied on October 5, 1982. On October 25, 1982, all affidavits and counter-affidavits were with the Tanodbayan for final disposition. On July 5, 1985, the Tanodbayan approved a resolution, dated April 1, 1985, prepared by Special Prosecutor Marina Buzon, recommending that the following informations be filed against petitioner before the Sandiganbayan, to wit: l. Violation of Section 3, paragraph (e) of RA. 3019 for giving D' Group, a private corporation controlled by his brother-in-law, unwarranted benefits, advantage or preference in the discharge of his official functions through manifest partiality and evident bad faith; 2. Violation of Section 3, paragraph (b) of RA. 3019 for receiving a check of P125,000.00 from Roberto Vallar, President/General Manager of Amity Trading Corporation as consideration for the release of a check of P588,000.00 to said corporation for printing services rendered for the Constitutional Convention Referendum in 1973; 3. Violation of Section 7 of RA. 3019 on three (3) counts for his failure to file his Statement of Assets and Liabilities for the calendar years 1973, 1976 and 1978. Accordingly, on June 12, 1985, the following informations were flied with the Sandiganbayan against the petitioner: Re: Criminal Case No. 10499 The undersigned Tanodbayan Special Prosecutor accuses Francisco S. Tatad 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: That on or about the 16th day of July, 1973 in the City of Manila, Philippines, and within the jurisdiction of this Honorable Court, the above- named accused, 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 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. That the complaint against the above-named accused was filed with the Office of the Tanodbayan on May 16, 1980. CONTRARY TO LAW. Re: Criminal Case No. 10500 The undersigned Tanodbayan Special Prosecutor accuses FRANCISCO S. TATAD with Violation of Section 7 of Republic Act No. 3019, otherwise known 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, 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 file with the Office of the President, a true detailed and sworn statement of his assets and liabilities, as of December 31, 1973, including a statement of the amounts and sources of his income, the amounts of his personal and family expenses and the amount of income taxes paid for the next preceding calendar year (1973), as required of every public officer.

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That the complaint against the above-named accused was flied with the Office of the Tanodbayan on June 20, 1980. CONTRARY TO LAW. Re: Criminal Case No. 10501 The undersigned Tanodbayan Special Prosecutor accuses FRANCISCO S. TATAD with Violation of Section 3, paragraph (e) of Republic Act No. 3019, otherwise known as the Anti-Graft and Corrupt Practices Act, committed as follows: 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, the above-named accused, a public officer being then the Secretary of the Department (now Ministry) of Public Information, did then and there, wilfully and unlawfully give Marketing Communication Group, Inc. (D' Group), a private corporation of which his brother-in-law, Antonio L. Cantero, is the President, unwarranted benefits, advantage or preference in the discharge of his official functions, through manifest partiality and evident bad faith, by allowing the transfer of D' GROUP of the funds, assets and ownership of South East Asia Research Corporation (SEARCH), allegedly a private corporation registered with the Securities and Exchange Corporation on June 4, 1973, but whose organization and operating expenses came from the confidential funds of the Department of Public Information as it was organized to undertake research, projects for the government, without requiring an accounting of the funds advanced by the Department of Public Information and reimbursement thereof by D' GROUP, to the damage and prejudice of the government. That the complaint against the above-named accused was filed with the Office of the Tanodbayan on May 16, 1980. CONTRARY TO LAW. Re: Criminal Case No. 10502 The undersigned Tanodbayan Special Prosecutor accuses FRANCISCO S. TATAD with Violation of Section 7 of Republic Act No. 3019, otherwise known as the Anti-Graft and Corrupt Practices Act, committed as follows: That on or about the 31st day of January, 1977 in the City of Manila, Philippines, and within the jurisdiction of this Honorable Court, the above-named accused, 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 file with the Office of the President, a true and sworn statement of his assets and liabilities, as of December 31, 1976, including a statement of the amounts 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. That the complaint against the above-named accused was filed with the Office of the Tanodbayan on June 20, 1988. CONTRARY TO LAW. Re: Criminal Case No. 10503 The undersigned Tanodbayan Special Prosecutor accuses FRANCISCO S. TATAD with Violation of Section 7 of Republic Act No. 3019, otherwise known as the Anti-Graft and Corrupt Practices Act, committed as follows: That on or about the 15th day of April, 1979, in the City of Manila Philippines, and within the jurisdiction of this Honorable Court, the above-named accused, a public officer being then the

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Secretary of the Department (now Ministry) of Public Information, did then and there wilfully and unlawfully fail to prepare and file with the Office of the President, a true, detailed and sworn statement of his assets and liabilities, as of December 31, 1978, including a statement of the amounts and sources of his income, the amounts of his personal and family expenses and the amount of income taxes paid for the next preceding calendar year (1978), as required of every public officer. That the complaint against the above-named accused was filed with the Office of the Tanodbayan on June 20, 1980. CONTRARY TO LAW. On July 22, 1985, petitioner filed with the Sandiganbayan a consolidated motion to quash the informations on the follow grounds: 1 The prosecution deprived accused-movant of due process of law and of the right to a speedy disposition of the cases filed against him, amounting to loss of jurisdiction to file the informations; 2. Prescription of the offenses charged in Crim. Case Nos. 10499, 10500 and 10501; 3. The facts charged in Criminal Case No. 10500 (for failure to file Statement of Assets and Liabilities for the year 1973) do not constitute an offense; 4. No prima facie case against the accused-movant exists in Criminal Cases Nos. 10500, 10502 and 10503; 5. No prima facie case against the accused-movant exists in Criminal Case No. 10199 for Violation of Sec. 3, par. (b) of R.A. 3019, as amended; 6. No prima facie case against the accused-movant exists in Criminal Case No. 10501 (for Violation of Sec. 3 (e) of R.A. 3019, as amended. On July 26, 1985, the Tanodbayan filed its opposition to petitioner's consolidated motion to quash, stating therein in particular that there were only two grounds in said motion that needed refutation, namely: 1. The offense charged in Criminal Cases Nos. 10499,10500 and 10501, have already prescribed and criminal liability is extinguished; and 2. The facts charged in the information (Criminal Case No. 10500 For failure to file Statement of Assets and Liabilities for the year 1973) do not constitute an offense. On the issue of prescription, Tanodbayan citing the case of Francisco vs. Court of Appeals, 122 SCRA 538, contended that the filing of the complaint or denuncia in the fiscal's office interrupts the period of prescription. Since the above-numbered cases were filed with the Office of the Tanodbayan in 1980 and the alleged offenses were committed on July 16, 1973, January 31, 1974 and in May 1975, respectively, although the charges were actually filed in Court only on July 9, 1985, the Tanodbayan has still the right to prosecute the same, it appearing that the ten (10) year prescriptive period has not yet lapsed. Moreover, Tanodbayan pointed out that a law such as Batas Pambansa Blg. 195, extending the period of limitation with respect to criminal prosecution, unless the right to acquittal has been acquired, is constitutional. Tanodbayan likewise said that the requirement for the filing of the Statement of 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 former requires "any natural or juridical person having gross assets of P50,000.00 or more..." to submit a statement of assets and liabilities "... 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 prosecution under these two laws are separate and distinct from each other. Tanodbayan also explained that delay in the conduct of preliminary investigation does not impair the validity of the informations filed and that neither will it render said informations defective. Finally,

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Tanodbayan added that P.D. 911, the law which governs preliminary investigations is merely directory insofar as it fixes a period of ten (10) days from its termination to resolve the preliminary investigation. On August 9, 1985, the Sandiganbayan rendered its challenged resolution denying petitioner's motion to quash, the dispositive portion of which reads: 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 merit. Conformably to Rule 117, Section 4 of the 1985 Rules on Criminal 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 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 five (5) days from receipt hereof. SO ORDERED. On August 10, 1985, in compliance with the Sandiganbayan's resolution of August 8, 1985, the Tanodbayan filed an amended information in Criminal Case No. 10500, changing the date of the commission of the offense to September 30, 1974. On August 30, 1985, petitioners filed a consolidated motion for reconsideration which was denied by the Sandiganbayan September 17, 1985. Hence, petitioner filed this petition on October 16, 1985 assailing the denial of his motion to quash. On October 22, 1985, the Court, without giving due course the petition, resolved to require the respondents to comment thereon and issued a temporary restraining order effective immediately and continuing until further orders of the Court, enjoining the respondents Sandiganbayan and Tanodbayan from continuing with the trial and other proceedings in Criminal Cases Nos. 10499, 10500, 10501, 10502 and 10503. In compliance with said resolution, the respondents, through ,Solicitor General Estelito P. Mendoza, filed their comment on January 6, 1986. On April 10, 1986, the Court required the parties to move in the premises 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, insofar far as the Public respondents were concerned, which requires the successor official to state whether or not he maintains the action or position 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 political bearing whatsoever," he had no alternative but to pursue the cases 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 the law, such as the filing of a motion for re-evaluation of his cases with the Tanodbayan. The new Solicitor General filed a manifestation dated June 27, 1986 in which he concurred with the position taken by the new Tanodbayan. Pursuant to the above manifestation of the new Tanodbayan, the petitioner filed 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 be quashed. The Court is not aware of what action, if any, has been taken 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 insofar as the duty of this Court to resolve the issues raised in the instant petition is concerned. Petitioner has raised the following issues in his petition: 1. Whether the prosecution's long delay in the filing of these cases with the Sandiganbayan had deprived petitioner of his constitutional light to due process and the right to a speedy disposition of the cases against him. 2. Whether the crimes charged has already prescribed. 3. Whether there is a discriminatory prosecution of the petitioner by the Tanodbayan. 4. Whether Sandiganbayan should have ruled on the question of amnesty raised by the petitioner. 5. Whether petitioner's contention of the supposed lack or non- existence of prima facie evidence to sustain the filing of the cases at bar justifies the quashal of the questioned informations.

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Petitioner claims that the Tanodbayan culpably violated the constitutional mandate of "due process" and "speedy disposition of cases" in unduly prolonging the termination of the preliminary investigation and in filing the corresponding informations only after more than a decade from the alleged commission of the purported offenses, which amounted to loss of jurisdiction and authority to file the informations. The respondent Sandiganbayan dismissed petitioner's contention, saying that the applicability of the authorities cited by him to the case at bar was "nebulous;" that it would be premature for the court to grant the "radical relief" prayed for by petitioner at this stage of the proceeding; 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 procedural right granted or allowed to the respondent accused by law or administrative fiat" or in the absence of "indubitable proof of any irregularity or abuse" committed by the Tanodbayan in the conduct of the preliminary investigation; that such facts and circumstances as would establish petitioner's claim of denial of due process and other constitutionally guaranteed rights could be presented and more fully threshed out at the trial. Said the Sandiganbayan: That there was a hiatus in the proceedings between the alleged termination of 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 appear on record and which both parties did not bother to explain or elaborate upon in detail. It could even be logically inferred that the delay may be due to a painstaking an gruelling scrutiny by the Tanodbayan as to whether the evidence presented during the preliminary investigation merited prosecution of a former high-ranking government official. In this respect, We are the considered opinion that the provision of Pres. Decree No. 911, as amended, regarding the resolution of a complaint by the Tanodbayan within ten (10) days from termination of the preliminary investigation is merely "directory" in nature, in view of the nature and extent of the proceedings in said office. The statutory grounds for the quashal of an information are clearly set forth in concise language in Rule 117, Section 2, of the 1985 Rules on Criminal Procedure and no other grounds for quashal may be entertained by the Court prior to arraignment inasmuch as it would be itself remiss in the performance of its official functions and subject to the charge that it has gravely abused its discretion. Such facts and circumstances which could otherwise justify the dismissal of the case, such as failure on the part of the prosecution to comply with due process or any other constitutionally-guaranteed rights may presented during the trial wherein evidence for and against the issue involved may be fully threshed out and considered. Regrettably, the accused herein attempts to have the Court grant such a radical relief during this stage of the proceedings which precludes a pre-cocious or summary evaluation of insufficient evidence in support thereof. This brings us to the crux of the issue at hand. Was petitioner deprived of his constitutional right to due process and the right to "speedy disposition" of the 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 and wait to resolve the issue only after the trial? In a number of cases, 1 this Court has not hesitated to grant the so-called "radical relief" and to spare the accused from undergoing the rigors and expense of a full-blown trial where it is clear that he has been deprived of due process of law or other constitutionally guaranteed rights. Of course, it goes without saying 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. Coming to the case at bar, the following relevant facts appear on record and are largely undisputed. The complainant, Antonio de los Reyes, originally filed what he termed "a report" with the Legal Panel of the Presidential Security Command (PSC) on October 1974, containing charges of alleged violations of Rep. Act No. 3019 against then Secretary of Public Information Francisco S. Tatad. The "report" was made to "sleep" in the office of the PSC until the end of 1979 when 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, 1979, the 1974 complaint was resurrected in the form of a formal complaint filed with the Tanodbayan and docketed as TBP Case No. 8005-16-07. The Tanodbayan acted on the complaint on April 1, 1980-which was around two months after petitioner Tatad's resignation was accepted by Pres. Marcos by referring the complaint to the CIS, Presidential Security Command, for investigation and report. On June 16, 1980, the CIS report was submitted to the Tanodbayan, recommending the filing of charges for graft and corrupt practices against former Minister Tatad and Antonio L. Cantero. By October 25, 1982, all affidavits and counter-affidavits were in the case was already for disposition by the Tanodbayan. However, it was only on July 5, 1985 that a resolution was approved by the Tanodbayan, recommending the ring of the corresponding criminal

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informations against the accused Francisco Tatad. Five (5) criminal informations were filed with the Sandiganbayan on June 12, 1985, all against petitioner Tatad alone. 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 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 from established procedures prescribed by law for preliminary investigation, which require the submission of affidavits and counter-affidavits by the complainant and the respondent and their witnesses, the Tanodbayan referred the complaint to the Presidential Security Command for finding investigation and report. 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 prosecutorial process, lending credence to the suspicion that the prosecution was politically motivated. We cannot emphasize too strongly that prosecutors 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 purposes alien to, or subversive of, the basic and fundamental objective of serving the interest of justice even handedly, without fear or favor to any and all litigants alike, whether rich or poor, weak or strong, powerless or mighty. Only by strict adherence to the established procedure may the public's perception of the of the prosecutor be enhanced. Moreover, the long delay in resolving the case under preliminary investigation can not be justified on the basis of the facts on record. The law (P.D. No. 911) prescribes a ten-day period for the prosecutor to resolve a case under preliminary investigation by him from its termination. While we agree with the respondent court that this period fixed by law is merely "directory," yet, on the other hand, it can not be disregarded or ignored completely, with absolute 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 letter. We find the long delay in the termination of the preliminary investigation by the Tanodbayan in the instant case to be violative of the constitutional right of the accused to due process. Substantial adherence to the requirements of the law governing the conduct of preliminary investigation, including substantial 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 broad umbrella of the due process clause, but under the 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 inordinate delay is violative of the petitioner's constitutional rights. A delay of close to three (3) years can not be deemed reasonable or justifiable in the light of the circumstance obtaining in the case 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 be due to a painstaking and gruelling scrutiny by the Tanodbayan as to whether the evidence presented during the preliminary investigation merited prosecution of a former high ranking government official." In the first place, such a statement suggests a double standard of treatment, which must be 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 liabilities required by Republic Act No. 3019, which certainly did not involve complicated legal and factual issues necessitating such "painstaking and gruelling scrutiny" as would justify a delay of almost three years in terminating the preliminary investigation. The other two charges relating to alleged bribery and alleged giving of 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 it took the Tanodbayan to resolve the case. It has been suggested that the long delay in terminating the preliminary investigation should not be deemed fatal, for even the complete absence of a preliminary investigation does not warrant dismissal of the information. True-but the absence of a preliminary investigation can be corrected by giving the accused such investigation. But an undue delay in the conduct of a preliminary investigation can not be corrected, for until now, man has not yet invented a device for setting back time. 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 investigation and filing the information in the instant case is violative of the constitutionally guaranteed right of the petitioner to due process and to a speedy disposition of the cases against him. Accordingly, the informations in Criminal Cases Nos. 10499, 10500, 10501, 10502 and 10503 should be dismissed. In view of the foregoing, we find it unnecessary to rule on the other issues raised by petitioner.

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Accordingly, the Court Resolved to give due course to the petition and to grant the same. The informations in Criminal Cases Nos. 10499, 10500, 10501, 10502 and 10503, entitled "People of the Philippines vs. Francisco S. Tatad" are hereby DISMISSED. The temporary restraining order issued on October 22, 1985 is made permanent. SO ORDERED. 2. G.R. No. 108595 May 18, 1999 ELPIDIO C. CERVANTES, petitioner, vs. THE SANDIGANBAYAN, FIRST DIVISION, THE SPECIAL PROSECUTOR, and PEDRO ALMEDRAS, respondents. PARDO, J.: The case before the Court is a special civil action for certiorari and prohibition with preliminary injunction seeking to annul and set aside the resolution of the Sandiganbayan. First Division, 1 that denied petitioner's motion to quash the information against him for violation of Section 3 (e). Republic Act 3019, and to restrain or enjoin the Sandiganbayan from proceeding with his arraignment and trial. The motion is based on the ground that the filing of the information against petitioner over six (6) years after the initial complaint with the Tanodbayan (predecessor of the Ombudsman) violated his right to speedy disposition of the case, and that the acts charged in the information do not constitute an offense. We grant the petition. The facts are as follows. On March 6, 1986, one Pedro Almendras filed with the Office of the Tanodbayan (predecessor of the Ombudsman) a 2 sworn complaint against Alejandro Tapang for falsification of complaint's "salaysay" alleging that Alejandro Tapang made complainant sign a piece of paper in blank on which paper a "salaysay" was later inscribed stating that complaint had been paid his claim in the amount of P17,594.00, which was not true. In the said complaint, Pedro Almendras mentioned that he sought the help of petitioner Elpidio C. Cervantes who worked as analyst in the office of labor arbiter Teodorico L. Ruiz. 3 On October 2, 1986, Alejandro Tapang submitted to the Office of the Tanodbayan a counter-affidavit stating that the letter complaint of Almendras was the subject of a labor case decided by Arbiter Teodorico L. Ruiz; that the letter "is full of lies and improbabilities "and "that it is vague." 4 On October 16, 1986, petitioner Elpidio C. Cervantes filed with the office of the Tanodbayan an affidavit stating that he had nothing to do with the blank paper that Almendras signed, as admitted by the latter in a confrontation in the presence of National Labor Relations Commission (NLRC) vice chairman Diego Atienza. 5 On May 18, 1992, more than six (6) years after the filing of the initiatory complaint with the Tanodbayan, Special Prosecution Officer II, Office of the Special Prosecutor Luz L. Quinones-Marcos filed with the Sandiganbayan, assigned to the First Division, an Information charging petitioner Elpidio C. Cervantes, together with Teodorico L. Ruiz and Alejandro Tapang with violation of Section 3 (e), Republic Act 3019, committed as follows: That on or about June 16, 1984, or for sometime subsequent thereto, in Manila, Philippines and within the jurisdiction of this Honorable Court, the above-named accused Teodorico L. Ruiz, a public officer, being then a Labor Arbiter, National Labor Relations Commission, NCR, Department of Labor and Elpidio Cervantes, also a public officer, being then a Labor Analyst, National Labor Relations Commission, NCR, Department of Labor, in the exercise of their official and administrative functions, conspiring, confederating and conniving with private respondent Alejandro Tapang, did then and there, wilfully, unlawfully and criminally with evident bad faith and manifest partiality cause undue injury to one Pedro Almendras by then and there inducing Pedro Almendras to sign a blank paper, on which a statement was later typed and attributed as his (Almendras) statement in which statement allegedly acknowledged that the whole amount awarded to him by the NLRC in a decision in NCR Case No. 10-731-81 had been paid by Alejandro Tapang and therefore, he is no longer pursuing any claim against Tapang unwarranted benefits and advantage to the damage and prejudice of Pedro Almedras.

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CONTRARY TO LAW.
6

On May 28, 1992, petitioner filed a motion for reconsideration with the Office of the Special Prosecutor reiterating that he never met complainant Almendras on June 29, 1984, that complainant filed a case before the City Fiscal of Quezon City, claiming that his counsel together, with Tapang conspired to deprive him of his monetary award and that the case was dismissed. On October 2, 1992, petitioner filed with the Sandiganbayan, Manila, a "motion to defer arraignment due to pendency of reinvestigation or motion to quash and motion to recall warrant of arrest" on the ground that (a) petitioner filed with the office of the Special Prosecutor a motion for reinvestigation; (b) that the case against Cervantes "has prescribed" due to unreasonable delay in the resolution of the preliminary investigation, and (c) that the acts charged in the information do not constitute an offense. 8 On October 2, 1992, the Ombudsman denied petitioner's motion for reconsideration, and simultaneously filed with the Sandiganbayan an amended information. The amendment consisted of the insertion of the total amount involved.
10 9

By minute resolution dated December 24, 1992, the Sandiganbayan denied petitioner's motion, ruling that there was no "unwarranted postponement nor any denial by the Tanodbayan or of the Ombudsman of any step taken by the accused to accelerate the disposition on the matter." 11 Hence, this petition. On February 22, 1993, the Court required respondents to comment on the petition (not to file a motion to dismiss) within ten (10) days from notice, and issued a temporary restraining order enjoining respondent Sandiganbayan from continuing with the arraignment and trial or from further proceeding with Criminal Case No. 17673. On December 14, 1993, respondents filed their comment. On November 22, 1994, respondents filed a rejoinder. We resolved to give due course to the petition and decide the case. The issues raised are (a) whether the acts charged in the information filed against petitioner for violation of Section 3 (e), R. A. 3019 do not constitute a offense; and (b) whether the Sandiganbayan acted with grave abuse of discretion in denying his motion to quash for violation of the right to speedy disposition of the case. We shall first resolve the second issue. We find petitioner's contention meritorious. He was deprived of his right to a speedy disposition of the case, a right guaranteed by the Constitution. 12 It took the Special Prosecutor (succeeding the Tanodbayan) six (6) years from the filing of the initiatory complaint before he decided to file an information for the offense with the Sandiganbayan. The letter complaint was filed with the Tanodbayan on March 6, 1986. The affidavit of the petitioner was filed therein on October 16, 1986. The Special Prosecutor resolved the case on May 18, 1992. In their comment to the petition at bar, 13 the Sandiganbayan and the Special Prosecutor try to justify the inordinate delay in the resolution of the complaint by stating that "no political motivation appears to have tainted the prosecution of the case" in apparent reference to the case of Tatad vs. Sandiganbayan, (footnote: 159 SCRA 70, 81-82.) where the Court ruled that the "long delay (three years") in the termination of the preliminary investigation by the Tanodbayan" was violate of the Constitutional right of "speedy disposition" of cases because "political motivations played a vital role in activating and propelling the prosecutorial process in this case. The Special Prosecutor also cited Alvizo vs. Sandiganbayan (footnote 220 SCRA 55, 64) alleging that, as in Alvizo, the petitioner herein was "insensitive to the implications and contingencies thereof by not taking any step whatsoever to accelerate the disposition of the matter." We cannot accept the Special Prosecutor's ratiocination. It is the duty of the prosecutor to speedily resolve the complaint, as mandated by the Constitution, regardless of whether the petitioner did not object to the delay or that the delay was with his acquiescence provided that it was not due to causes directly attributable to him. Consequently, we rule that the Sandiganbayan gravely abused its discretion in not quashing the information for violation of petitioner's Constitutional right to the speedy disposition of the case in the level of the Special Prosecutor, Office of the Ombudsman. 13

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We deem it unnecessary to resolve the first in view of the foregoing ruling. WHEREFORE, the Court hereby GRANTS the petition and ANNULS the minute resolution of the Sandiganbayan, dated December 24, 1992, in Criminal Case No. 17673. The Court directs the Sandiganbayan to dismiss the case, with costs de oficio. The temporary restraining order heretofore issued is made permanent. No costs in this instances.1wphi1.nt SO ORDERED. Davide, Jr., C.J., Melo, Kapunan and Ynares-Santiago, JJ., concur.