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FIRST DIVISION

MARINO B. ICDANG,

G.R. No. 185960

Petitioner,
Present:

CORONA, C.J.,
Chairperson,
- versus -

LEONARDO-DE CASTRO,
BERSAMIN,
DEL CASTILLO, and
VILLARAMA, JR., JJ.

SANDIGANBAYAN (Second
Division) and PEOPLE OF THE
PHILIPPINES,

Promulgated:

Respondents.

January 25, 2012

the crime of malversation of public funds.


The factual antecedents:

Petitioner Marino B. Icdang, at the time of the transactions subject of this controversy,
was the Regional Director of the Office for Southern Cultural Communities (OSCC)
Region XII in Cotabato City.
petitioner was granted cash advances which remained unliquidated. In the cash
examination conducted by the team on March 10, 1998, it was discovered that
petitioner had a shortage of P219,392.75. Out of the total amount of P920,933.00
released in September 1996 to their office under sub-allotment advice No. COT-043,
to cover the implementation of various socio-economic projects for the cultural
communities of the regionIn the Audit Observation Memorandum No. 97-001 (March
18, 1998) sent by the COA Region XII to the OSCC-Region XII reflecting the
findings of the Special Audit Team, it was also disclosed that: (1) Funds intended for
programs for Ancestral Domain Claim Development and to support tribal
cooperatives, but the proposed projects were not implemented by the OSCC-Region
XII; (2) No official cashbooks are maintained to record cash advances and
disbursements from the 1996 funds allocated for livelihood projects; and (3) Out of
the total P920,933.00 allocated for 1996 livelihood projects,
From the field interviews conducted by the audit team, it was also gathered that the
intended projects covered by the cash advances were never implemented.
After the cash examination, petitioner was still found short of P219,392.75.

Consequently, a demand letter was sent by the COA for petitioner to immediately
produce the missing funds. In his letter-reply dated March 19, 1998, petitioner
requested for one-week extension to comply with the directive.

10

However, the one-week period lapsed without compliance having been made by
petitioner. Hence, the audit team recommended the initiation of administrative and
criminal charges against him.

Office of the Ombudsman found probable cause against petitioner for violation of Art.
217 of the Revised Penal Code, as amended, and Section 3(e) of Republic Act No.
3019 (Anti-Graft and Corrupt Practices Act).
The Amended Information charging petitioner with the crime of Malversation of
Public Funds (Criminal Case No. 26327) reads:
That during the period from October 1996 to February 1997 in Cotabato
City, Philippines and within the jurisdiction of this Honorable Court, accused
Marino B. Icdang, a public officer being then the Regional Director of the Office
for Southern Communities (OSCC), Region XII, Cotabato City and as such is
accountable officer for the public fund received by him that were intended for the
socio-economic and cultural development projects of the OSCC Region XII, did
then and there willfully, unlawfully and feloniously take[,] misappropriate,
embezzle and convert for his own personal use and benefit from the said fund the
aggregate amount of TWO HUNDRED NINETEEN THOUSAND THREE
HUNDRED NINETY-TWO PESOS AND 75/100 (P219,392.75) to the damage
and prejudice of the government in the aforesaid sum.
CONTRARY TO LAW.

11

The lone witness for the prosecution was Hadji Rashid A. Mudag, State Auditor IV of
COA Region XII. He presented vouchers which they were able to gather during the
cash examination conducted on March 10, 1998, which showed cash advances granted
to petitioner, and in addition other cash advances also received by petitioner for which
he remained accountable, duly certified by the Accountant of OSCC-Region XII.
Petitioner was notified of the cash shortage through the Audit Observation
Memorandum No. 97-001 dated March 18, 1998 and was sent a demand letter after
failing to account for the missing funds totalling P219,392.75.

12

On May 26, 2008, the SBs Second Division rendered its decision convicting
petitioner of malversation The dispositive portion reads:
WHEREFORE, premises considered judgment is hereby rendered finding
accused MARINO B. ICDANG Guilty beyond reasonable doubt of Malversation
of Public Funds or Property in Criminal Case No. 26327 and finding in his favor

the mitigating circumstance of voluntary surrender, is hereby sentenced to an


indeterminate penalty of, considering the amount involved, TEN (10) YEARS and
ONE (1) DAY of PRISION MAYOR as minimum to EIGHTEEN (18) YEARS,
EIGHT (8) MONTHS and ONE (1) DAY of Reclusion Temporal as maximum, to
suffer the penalty of perpetual special disqualification, and to pay a fine of
P196,000.00 without subsidiary imprisonment in case of insolvency.
He is also ordered to reimburse the government of the said amount.
With cost against accused.
SO ORDERED.

14

The SB ruled that the prosecution has established the guilt of petitioner beyond
reasonable doubt for the crime of malversation of public funds, the presumption from
his failure to account for the cash shortage in the amount of P232,000.00 remains
unrebutted. As to the reasons given by petitioner for non-compliance with the COA
demand, the SB held:
A careful perusal of Mr. Icdangs Letter-Answer dated 19 March 1998
(Exh. J) to the demand letter and directive issued by the COA clearly shows he
was just asking for extension of time to comply with the demand letter. There was
virtually no denial on his part that he received the P232,000.00 amount earmarked
for the various government projects. His reasons were first, the committee tasked
to prepare the liquidation of the cash advances are still in the process of collecting
all the documents pertinent to the disbursement of the project funds; and second,
the payees to the disbursements were still to be notified so that they will have to
come to the office to affix their signatures as payees to the liquidation vouchers.
This response is queer because as he gave the money to the supposed
payees, he should have kept a ledger to keep track of the same, considering that
these are public funds. More importantly, Mr. Icdang was given ample
opportunity to dispute the COA findings that there was indeed a shortage. Instead
of doing so, Mr. Icdang never presented the promised proof of his innocence
before this Court during the trial of this case. Thus, the prima facie presumption
under Article 217 of the Revised Penal Code, that the failure of a public officer to
have duly forthcoming the public funds with which he is chargeable, upon
demand, shall be evidence that he put the missing funds for personal uses, arises
because first, there was no issue as to the accuracy, correctness and regularity of
the audit findings and second, the funds are missing.
15

In those instances when either petitioner or his counsel was present in court, the
following documentary evidence listed during the pre-trial, allegedly in the possession
of petitioner, and which he undertook to present at the trial, were never produced in
court at any time: (1) Liquidation Report by petitioner; (2) Certification of Accountant
Zamba Lajaratu of the National Commission on Indigenous People, Region XII,
Cotabato City; and (3) Different Certifications by project officers and barangay
captains. If indeed these documents existed, petitioner could have readily submitted
48

them to the court considering the length of time he was given to do so. The fact that
not a single document was produced and no witness was produced by the defense in a
span of 4 years afforded them by the SB, it can be reasonably inferred that petitioner
did not have those evidence in the first place.
The elements of malversation of public funds are:
1

that the offender is a public officer;

that he had the custody or control of funds or property by reason of the duties of
his office;

that those funds or property were public funds or property for which he was
accountable; and

that he appropriated, took, misappropriated or consented or, through abandonment


or negligence, permitted another person to take them.
49

There is no dispute on the existence of the first three elements; petitioner


admitted having received the cash advances for which he is accountable. As to the
element of misappropriation, indeed petitioner failed to rebut the legal presumption
that he had misappropriated the said public funds to his personal use, notwithstanding
his unsubstantiated claim that he has in his possession liquidation documents. The SB
therefore committed neither reversible error nor grave abuse of discretion in
convicting the petitioner of malversation for failure to explain or account for his cash

shortage by any liquidation or supporting documents. As this Court similarly ruled in


one case :
50

In the crime of malversation, all that is necessary for conviction is


sufficient proof that the accountable officer had received public funds, that he did
not have them in his possession when demand therefor was made, and that he
could not satisfactorily explain his failure to do so. Direct evidence of personal
misappropriation by the accused is hardly necessary as long as the accused cannot
explain satisfactorily the shortage in his accounts.
In convicting petitioner, the Sandiganbayan cites the presumption in
Article 217, supra, of the Revised Penal Code, i.e., the failure of a public officer
to have duly forthcoming any public funds or property with which he is
chargeable, upon demand by any duly authorized officer, is prima facie evidence
that he has put such missing fund or property to personal uses. The presumption
is, of course, rebuttable. Accordingly, if the accused is able to present adequate
evidence that can nullify any likelihood that he had put the funds or property to
personal use, then that presumption would be at an end and the prima facie case is
effectively negated. This Court has repeatedly said that when the absence of funds
is not due to the personal use thereof by the accused, the presumption is
completely destroyed; in fact, the presumption is never deemed to have existed at
all. In this case, however, petitioner failed to overcome this prima facie evidence
of guilt.

WHEREFORE, the petition is DISMISSED. The Decision promulgated on


May 26, 2008 and Resolution issued on November 18, 2008 by the Sandiganbayan in
Criminal Case No. 26327 are AFFIRMED.

1. Malversation Case:
Agency Y : Gave Mr. X, a regional director for the Office for Southern Cultural
Communities (OSCC) an amount of 1,000,000.00 (one million pesos) for the
cultural program projects.
Mr. X : received 1,000,000.00 pesos from agency Y for the funding of cultural program projects.
------- : More than one year elapsed, Agency Y ordered agency W to conduct an audit of the said
funds. Moreover, agency W found out that Mr. X has an unliquidated cash amounting to
200,000.00 . Mr. X was charged before Agency U for malversation.
Mr. X : requested from agency U that he will produce evidences that he did not malversed the
unaccounted money.

Agency U: was lenient to Mr. X until the time given for Mr. U to produce evidence he did not
malverse the money has elapsed. Mr. X found guilty of malversation for failure to supply
pertinent documents to prove otherwise.
Agency V: upheld the decision of Agency U upon Mr. X appealed case.
--------------------------------------------------------------Agency A (National Government) : Okay, Agency B, I will give you 1,000,000.00 pesos and use
this in cultural program in your jurisdiction.
Agency B (regional director for cultural activities) : Well, uhhmm, that is great. I will accept the
funds.
One year passed:
Agency B: I have consumed the total amount of money for the cultural program in my
jurisdiction.
Agency A: But you still have 200,000.00 unliquidated amount from the money for the project.
Agency B: I will produce the receipts and the like for the 200,000.00.
Agency A: your deadline to produce evidence that you use the 200,000.00 pesos has ended.
@@@@ will Agency B liable for the unliquidated amount for malversation?
###########################################################################

FIRST DIVISION
JUANITO T. MERENCILLO,
Petitioner,

G.R. Nos. 142369-70


Present:
PUNO, C.J., Chairperson,
SANDOVAL-GUTIERREZ,

-versus-

CORONA,
AZCUNA and
GARCIA, JJ.

PEOPLE OF THE PHILIPPINES,


Respondent. Promulgated:
April 13, 2007
x------------------------------------------x
DECISION
CORONA, J.:

This petition for review1 assails the June 18, 1999 decision2 of
the Sandiganbayan in A.R. Case Nos. 004-005 affirming 3 the
omnibus decision4 of the Regional Trial Court (RTC) of Tagbilaran
City, Branch 47, in Criminal Case Nos. 9482-83 finding petitioner
Juanito T. Merencillo guilty of violating Section 3(b) of RA 3019 5 and
Article 2106 of the Revised Penal Code.

1
2
3
4
5
6

On the other hand, the information for direct bribery penalized


under Article 210 of the Revised Penal Code in Criminal Case No.
9483 charged:
That, on or about the 28 th day of September, 1995 in the City of
Tagbilaran, Philippines, and within the jurisdiction of this Honorable Court,
the above-named accused being then a public official connected with the
performance of official duty as its Group Supervising Examiner, did then
and there willfully, unlawfully and feloniously and with intent of personal
gain, demand, extort and agree to perform an act constituting a crime, an
act which is in violation of the Anti-Graft and Corrupt Practices Act, that is
that the certification for payment of the capital gains tax relative to the land
purchased by the Ramasola Superstudio Incorporated from Catherine
Corpus Enerio be released by him only upon payment of an additional
under the table transaction in the amount of TWENTY THOUSAND PESOS
(P20,000.00), Philippine Currency, which Mrs. Maria Angeles Ramasola
Cesar reluctantly agreed, but upon prior consultation with the military
authorities particularly the elements of the 702 nd Criminal [Investigation]
Command (CIC) who set up the accused for a possible entrapment
resulting to (sic) his being caught in the act of receiving an envelope
supposedly containing the amount of TWENTY THOUSAND PESOS
(P20,000.00) but, consisting only of four (4) marked one hundred pesos
bills and the rest all bogus (paper) monies, an act performed by the
accused in his official capacity as Group Supervising Examiner of the BIR,
to the damage and prejudice of Mrs. Maria Angeles Ramasola Cesar in
particular and the public and the government in general in the amount to be
proved during the trial of the case.
Acts committed contrary to the provisions of Article 210 of the
Revised Penal Code of the Philippines.7

Petitioner pleaded not guilty to both charges when arraigned.


Thereafter trial ensued and the cases were tried jointly.
7 Sandiganbayan records (A.R. Case No. 005), pp. 4-5.

THE FACTS ESTABLISHED


BY THE PROSECUTION

In the morning of September 13, 1995, Lucit Estillore went to


the Bureau of Internal Revenue (BIR) office in Tagbilaran City to ask
for the computation of taxes due on the sale of real property to
Ramasola

Superstudio,

Inc.

and

to

apply

for

certificate

authorizing registration (CAR).8 At the BIR office, she was


entertained by revenue examiner Lourdes Fuentes who computed
the documentary stamp tax (P37,500) and capital gains tax
(P125,000) due on the transaction. The computation was approved
by petitioner in his capacity as group supervisor. Estillore paid the
taxes in the bank and returned to apply for a CAR. She submitted
the application together with relevant documents to Fuentes for
processing. Fuentes prepared the revenue audit reports and
submitted them together with the application for the CAR to
8 Estillore was acting as agent of the parties to the sale.

petitioner for preliminary approval. [The application was to be


forwarded thereafter to the Revenue District Officer (RDO) for final
approval.] Fuentes advised Estillore that the CAR would be released
after seven days.

At around 10:00 a.m. of the same day, private complainant


Maria Angeles Ramasola Cesar9 (Cesar) received a call from
Estillore. She was told that petitioner wanted to see her for some
negotiation. She proceeded to petitioners office where the latter
demanded P20,000 in exchange for the approval of the CAR. Cesar
replied that she needed to confer with her two brothers who were
her business associates.

The following day, on September 14, 1995, Cesar received a


call from petitioner who was following up his demand. Later that
day, Cesar received another call from petitioner who told her that
she could get the CAR after four or five days.

9 Co-owner of Ramasola Superstudio, Inc.

Cesar was able to return to the BIR only on September 20,


1995. When petitioner saw her, he repeated his demand for P20,000
although the CAR had in fact been signed by RDO Galahad Balagon
the day before, on September 19, 1995, and was therefore ready for
release. On Cesars inquiry, the releasing clerk, Susan Cabangon,
informed Cesar that she (Cabangon) was still waiting for petitioners
go signal to release the document.
On September 22, 1995, Cesar visited RDO Balagon and
complained about petitioners refusal to release the CAR unless his
demand was met. RDO Balagon assured Cesar that he would look
into her complaint. Subsequently, Cesar received a call from
petitioner informing her that she could get the CAR but reminded
her of his demand. He told her that he was willing to accept a lesser
amount. It was at this point that Cesar decided to report the matter
to the authorities. She sought the help of the Provincial Director of
the Philippine National Police (PNP) in Bohol, Senior Superintendent
Dionaid Baraguer.

The

following

day,

Sr.

Supt.

Baraguer

referred

Cesars

complaint to the chief of police of Tagbilaran City who coordinated


with Cesar for the entrapment of petitioner. Cesar was instructed to
prepare two bundles of bogus money by putting a one-hundred peso
bill on each side of each of the two bundles to make it appear that
the two bundles amounted to P10,000 each or a total of P20,000.
After the serial numbers of the four one-hundred peso bills were
recorded, the entrapment was set for September 28, 1995.

On the appointed day, Cesar called petitioner and pleaded for


the release of the CAR as well as for the reduction of petitioners
demand. Petitioner cautiously told Cesar not to talk about the
matter on the phone and asked her to see him instead. Cesar went
to petitioners office with the two bundles of bogus money inside a
white envelope.

Petitioner was entertaining a lady visitor when Cesar arrived.


The members of the PNP entrapment team were already in

petitioners office posing as civilians. On seeing Cesar, petitioner


handed

the

CAR

to

her

and,

as

she

was

signing

the

acknowledgment for the release of the CAR, he informed her that he


was going down to the second floor. Cesar took this as a cue for her
to follow.

As petitioner left his office, he held the door open for Cesar to
follow. On reaching the third floor lobby, petitioner uttered Here
only. Cesar handed the envelope containing the two bundles of
marked money to petitioner who, upon receiving it, asked Why is
this thick? Before Cesar could answer, a member of the PNP
entrapment team photographed petitioner holding the envelope.
Petitioner panicked, hid the envelope behind his back and turned
towards the window at the back of the BIR building. On seeing that
the window was closed, he turned around towards the open window
facing the street. He threw the envelope towards the window but it
hit the ceiling instead, bounced and fell to the first floor of the BIR

building.10 The PNP entrapment team then introduced themselves to


petitioner and invited him to go with them to their headquarters.

Charges were filed against petitioner. During the trial,


petitioners evidence consisted of nothing more than a general
denial of the charges against him. He claimed that he never asked
for money and that the allegations of demand for money existed
only in Cesars mind after she was told that there was a
misclassification of the asset and additional taxes had to be paid.
He was surprised when policemen suddenly arrested him as soon
as Cesar handed him a white envelope the contents of which he
suspected to be money.

After trial, the RTC found petitioner guilty as charged. The


dispositive portion of the decision read:
WHEREFORE, premises considered, the Court finds the
accused Juanito T. Merencillo, guilty beyond reasonable doubt as
principal by direct participation, defined and penalized by Section 3(b)
of [RA] 3019, otherwise known as the Anti-Graft and Corrupt Practices
10 The envelope was recovered at the first floor of the BIR building and was presented to court
during the trial.

Act, and sentences him to suffer the indeterminate penalty of


imprisonment for eight (8) years and one (1) month as minimum to
fifteen (15) years as maximum, there being aggravating circumstances
considered under Section 3(e) and Section (f) of [RA] 3019 in relation to
Article 14(1) and (11) of the [RPC] in the sense that the offender have
taken advantage of his public position, and that the crime was
committed in consideration of a price or promise, without any mitigating
or extenuating circumstances to neutralize or offset any of the
aggravating circumstances, with perpetual disqualification from public
office, and the Court further finds the accused guilty beyond reasonable
doubt as principal by direct participation, for the crime of Direct Bribery
defined and penalized by Article 210 of the Revised Penal Code and
sentences him to suffer the indeterminate penalty of four (4) years and
one (1) day as minimum to eight (8) years of prision mayor as
maximum and a fine of Sixty Thousand (P60,000.00) Pesos, all as
mandated by law. The accused Juanito T. Merencillo likewise is ordered
to indemnify private complainant [Cesar] to pay moral damages in the
amount of P50,000.00 and attorneys fees in the amount of Five
Thousand (P5,000.00) Pesos. Costs shall also be taxed against the
accused.
CONTRARY TO LAW.11

Petitioner appealed the RTC decision to the Sandiganbayan.


The Sandiganbayan, however, denied the appeal and affirmed the
RTC

decision

with

modification

reducing

the

penalty

of

imprisonment for violation of Section 3(b) of RA 3019 to an


indeterminate sentence of six years and one month of prision mayor,

11 Supra note 4.

as minimum, to ten years of prision mayor, as maximum.12 Thus,


this petition.
Petitioner basically raises two points: (1) the Sandiganbayans
refusal to believe his evidence over that of the prosecutions and (2)
the Sandiganbayans failure to recognize that he was placed in
double jeopardy.

Petitioner faults the Sandiganbayan for affirming the RTC


decision and disregarding his evidence. He claims that, had the
RTC and the Sandiganbayan not ignored the inconsistencies in the
testimonies of the prosecutions witnesses, 13 he would have been
acquitted. He also asserts that he was placed twice in jeopardy
when he was prosecuted for violation of Section 3(b) of RA 3019 and
for direct bribery.
12 Supra note 3. The Sandiganbayan ruled that the RTC erred in appreciating the aggravating
circumstances of abuse of authority and in consideration of a price, promise or reward because
these circumstances are integral elements of the crime.
13 As pointed out by petitioner, these inconsistencies include the testimony of SPO4 Manuelito
Antipala (a member of the entrapment team) that he saw petitioner hand the CAR to Cesar while
SPO2 Genaro Boja (another member of the entrapment team) failed to mention the handing over
of the CAR to Cesar by petitioner.

Petitioner is wrong.

TRIAL
COURTS
EVALUATION
OF
EVIDENCE WILL NOT BE DISTURBED

Both the RTC and the Sandiganbayan found the testimonies of


the prosecutions witnesses (that petitioner demanded and received
money from private complainant Cesar for the release of the CAR)
sufficient and credible enough to sustain conviction.

This notwithstanding, petitioner now asks this Court to review


the entire evidence anew, re-evaluate the credibility of witnesses
and make another factual determination of the case a course of
action clearly improper given the nature of the instant petition. 14
Questions of fact cannot generally be raised for the consideration of
this Court.

14 See Siccuan v. People of the Philippines, G.R. No. 133709, 28 April 2005, 457 SCRA 458.

The calibration of evidence and the relative weight thereof


belongs to the appellate court.15 Its findings and conclusions cannot
be set aside by this Court unless there is no evidence on record to
support them.16 In this case, however, the findings of fact of the
Sandiganbayan, affirming the factual findings of the RTC, were
amply supported by evidence and the conclusions therein were not
against the law and jurisprudence. There is no reason to disturb
the congruent findings of the trial and appellate courts.

Moreover, findings and conclusions of the trial court on the


credibility of witnesses enjoy the respect of appellate courts because
trial courts have the distinct advantage of observing the demeanor
of witnesses as they testify.17 In the absence of any arbitrariness in
the trial courts findings and evaluation of evidence tending to show
that it overlooked certain material facts and circumstances, its

15 Ceremonia v. Court of Appeals, 373 Phil. 511 (1999).


16 Id.
17 People v. Cabiles, 348 Phil. 220 (1998).

findings and evaluation of evidence should be respected on review. 18


The presiding judge of the trial court had the opportunity to
actually observe the conduct and demeanor of the witnesses on the
witness stand on direct examination by the prosecution, crossexamination by the defense as well as during clarificatory
questioning by the trial judge himself. 19 Between the trial judge and
this Court, the former was concededly in a better position to
determine whether or not a witness was telling the truth. 20 Based
on the records, we find no reason to disagree with the trial courts
assessment and to discredit the prosecutions witnesses.

Contrary

to

petitioners

contention,

the

RTC

and

the

Sandiganbayan considered the alleged inconsistencies in the


testimonies of the prosecution witnesses. Both courts, however,
ruled that the inconsistencies referred only to minor details that did

18 People v. Dio, G.R. No. 106493, 8 September 1993, 226 SCRA 176.
19 People of the Philippines v. Gado, 358 Phil. 956 (1998).
20 Id.

not detract from the truth of the prosecutions testimonial evidence.


We agree.
Witnesses testifying on the same event do not have to be
consistent in each and every detail. Differences in the recollection of
the

event

are

inevitable

and

inconsequential

variances

are

commonly regarded as signs of truth instead of falsehood.


Inconsistencies in the testimonies of prosecution witnesses with
respect to minor details and collateral matters do not affect either
the substance of their declaration, their veracity or the weight of
their testimony.21 In fact, such minor flaws may even enhance the
worth of a testimony for they guard against memorized falsities. 22

Minor discrepancies or inconsistencies do not impair the


essential integrity of the prosecutions evidence as a whole or reflect
on the witnesses honesty.23 The test is whether the testimonies

21 People of the Philippines v. Quimzon, G.R. No. 133541, 14 April 2004, 427 SCRA 261.
22 Id.
23 People of the Philippines v. Sibug, G.R. No. 108520, 24 January 1994, 229 SCRA 489.

agree on essential facts and whether the respective versions


corroborate and substantially coincide with each other so as to
make a consistent and coherent whole.24 Thus, inconsistencies and
discrepancies in details which are irrelevant to the elements of the
crime cannot be successfully invoked as grounds for acquittal. 25

The RTC and the Sandiganbayan correctly ruled that the


inconsistencies pointed out by petitioner were neither material nor
relevant to the elements of the offenses for which he was charged.
For instance, whether or not it was petitioner himself who handed
the CAR to private respondent was immaterial. The fact was that
petitioner demanded and received money in consideration for the
issuance of the CAR.
PETITIONER WAS NOT PLACED
IN DOUBLE JEOPARDY

Section 3 of RA 3019 begins with the following statement:


24 Id.
25 People of the Philippines v. Crisanto, 411 Phil. 289 (2001).

Sec. 3. In addition to acts or omissions of public officers


already penalized by existing law, the following [acts] shall constitute
corrupt practices of any public officer and are hereby declared unlawful:
xxx

xxx

xxx (emphasis supplied)

One may therefore be charged with violation of RA 3019 in addition


to a felony under the Revised Penal Code for the same delictual act,
that is, either concurrently or subsequent to being charged with a
felony under the Revised Penal Code.26 There is no double jeopardy
if a person is charged simultaneously or successively for violation of
Section 3 of RA 3019 and the Revised Penal Code.

The rule against double jeopardy prohibits twice placing a


person in jeopardy of punishment for the same offense. 27 The test is
whether one offense is identical with the other or is an attempt to
commit it or a frustration thereof; or whether one offense
26 Ramiscal, Jr. v. Sandiganbayan, G.R. Nos. 169727-28, 18 August 2006.
27 When one act violates two different statutes or two different provisions of a statute and that
act results in two distinct offenses, prosecution under one (statute or provision) is not a bar to
prosecution under the other (statute or provision). (Bernas, S.J. Joaquin G., The 1987 Philippine
Constitution: A Comprehensive Reviewer, 2006 edition, Rex Bookstore, pp. 189-190) The test is
not whether the accused has already been tried for the same act but whether he has been put in
jeopardy for the same offense. (People of the Philippines v. Cabrera, 43 Phil. 82 [1922])

necessarily includes or is necessarily included in the other, as


provided in Section 7 of Rule 117 of the Rules of Court. 28 An offense
charged necessarily includes that which is proved when some of the
essential elements or ingredients of the former, as alleged in the
complaint or information, constitute the latter; and an offense
charged is necessarily included in the offense proved when the
essential ingredients of the former constitute or form a part of those
constituting the latter.29

A comparison of the elements of the crime of direct bribery


defined and punished under Article 210 of the Revised Penal Code
and those of violation of Section 3(b) of RA 3019 shows that there is
neither identity nor necessary inclusion between the two offenses.

Section 3(b) of RA 3019 provides:

Sec. 3. In addition to acts or omissions of public officers already


penalized by existing law, the following shall constitute corrupt practices
of any public officer and are hereby declared unlawful:
28 Suero v. People of the Philippines, G.R. No. 156408, 31 January 2005, 450 SCRA 350.
29 Sec. 5, Rule 120, Rules of Court.

xxx xxx xxx


(b) Directly or indirectly requesting or receiving any gift, present,
share percentage or benefit, for himself or for any other
person, in connection with any contract or transaction between
the Government and any other party, wherein the public officer
in his official capacity has to intervene under the law.
xxx xxx xxx

The elements of the crime penalized under Section 3(b) of RA


3019 are:
1

the offender is a public officer;

he requested or received a gift, present, share, percentage or benefit;

he made the request or receipt on behalf of the offender or any other


person;

the request or receipt was made in connection with a contract or


transaction with the government and

he has the right to intervene, in an official capacity under the law, in


connection with a contract or transaction has the right to intervene. 30

On the other hand, direct bribery has the following essential


elements:

the offender is a public officer;

the offender accepts an offer or promise or receives a gift or present


by himself or through another;

30 Chang v. People of the Philippines, G.R. No. 165111, 21 July 2006, 496 SCRA 321.

such offer or promise be accepted or gift or present be received by


the public officer with a view to committing some crime, or in
consideration of the execution of an act which does not constitute a
crime but the act must be unjust, or to refrain from doing something
which it is his official duty to do and

the act which the offender agrees to perform or which he executes is


connected with the performance of his official duties. 31

Clearly, the violation of Section 3(b) of RA 3019 is neither


identical nor necessarily inclusive of direct bribery. While they have
common elements, not all the essential elements of one offense are
included among or form part of those enumerated in the other.
Whereas the mere request or demand of a gift, present, share,
percentage or benefit is enough to constitute a violation of Section
3(b) of RA 3019, acceptance of a promise or offer or receipt of a gift
or present is required in direct bribery. Moreover, the ambit of
Section 3(b) of RA 3019 is specific. It is limited only to contracts or
transactions involving monetary consideration where the public
officer has the authority to intervene under the law. Direct bribery,
on the other hand, has a wider and more general scope: (a)
31 Tad-y v. People of the Philippines, G.R. No. 148862, 11 August 2005, 466 SCRA 474.

performance of an act constituting a crime; (b) execution of an


unjust act which does not constitute a crime and (c) agreeing to
refrain or refraining from doing an act which is his official duty to
do.

Although the two charges against petitioner stemmed from the


same transaction, the same act gave rise to two separate and
distinct offenses. No double jeopardy attached since there was a
variance between the elements of the offenses charged. 32 The
constitutional protection against double jeopardy proceeds from a
second prosecution for the same offense, not for a different one. 33

WHEREFORE, the petition is hereby DENIED. The June 18,


1999 decision of the Sandiganbayan in A.R. Case Nos. 004-005 is
AFFIRMED.

Costs against petitioner.


32 Suero v. People of the Philippines, supra.
33 Id.

SO ORDERED.

RENATO C. CORONA
Associate Justice
WE CONCUR:

REYNATO S. PUNO
Chief Justice
Chairperson

ANGELINA SANDOVAL-GUTIERREZ ADOLFO S. AZCUNA


Associate Justice Associate Justice

CANCIO C. GARCIA
Associate Justice
^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^
Client : Public Officer can I have the certification from this office that I have requested?
Public Officer : okay, you have to pay 5,000.00 pesos, based on the schedule of fees for the
processing of your documents. And you have to add another 15,000.00 pesos as grease money so
that your requested papers will be released early.
Client : reluctantly, but gave way to Public Officers request with the help of an authority.

@@@@@ Client got his papers and Public Officer his 15,000.00 pesos, as well. Is Public
Officer liable for the crime of Direct Bribery under Article 210 of the Revised Penal Code?
^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^
[G.R. No. 142265. April 5, 2000]
P/SUPT. FRANCISCO E. OVILLA vs. HON. DIOSDADO M. PERALTA, et al.
THIRD DIVISION
Gentlemen:
Quoted hereunder, for your information, is a resolution of this Court dated APR 5, 2000.
G.R. No. 142265 (P/Supt. Francisco E. Ovilla vs. Hon. Diosdado M. Peralta, in his capacity as Presiding
Judge of Branch 95 of the Regional Trial Court in Quezon City, et al.)
Petitioner assails the decision of the Court of Appeals which denied his petition for the issuance of a writ of
habeas corpus, thus upholding the resolution of the regional trial court denying petitioner's application for
bail.
Petitioner Police Superintendent Francisco Ovilla and eleven police officers were charged with the crime of
Qualified Robbery before the Regional Trial Court under the following information:
That on or about the 22nd day of August, 1999, or sometime subsequent thereto, in Quezon City,
Philippines, and within the jurisdiction of this Honorable Court, above-named Accused, all public
officers entrusted with law enforcement, being then members of the Philippine National Police,
assigned at Central Police District - Police Station 9, taking advantage of their position and in
grave abuse thereof, committing the offense in relation to their office, conspiring and
confederating together, did then and there, wilfully and unlawfully, with evident bad faith and
manifest partiality, give unwarranted benefit preference and advantage to the following
Detainees of Police Station No. 9 namely: Jimmy Tan alias Tony, Albert/Randy Koo and Ester
Ulpindo, said Jimmy Tan and Albert/Randy Koo, having been duly arrested by above-named
Accused in a legitimate drug buy-bust operation in the act of selling 1.5 kilos worth of "shabu",
an offense punishable by death, while said Ester Ulpindo having been duly arrested also by
above-named Accused in a similar drug buy-bust operation involving an undetermined quantity
of shabu, by then and there releasing said detainees from police custody, in exchange for cash
amounting to P650,000.00 given to, received and distributed among all the said Accused by said
Jimmy Tan and Albert/Randy Koo, to the end that said Detainees be freed from investigation and
criminal prosecution before a court of law, thereby causing undue injury to the Philippine
Government.
Petitioner was arraigned and the pre-trial conference accordingly followed.
After conducting a hearing on petitioner's application for bail, the trial court denied the same, ruling thusly:
The prosecution's evidence, which remain unrebutted at this time, further shows that no charges
were filed against the two (2) Chinese nationals and the stuff, subject matter of the sale, cannot
be accounted for. Was the failure then of the police officers who comprised the team that
arrested the two (2) Chinese nationals and purposely failed to prosecute and apprehend the
accused in consideration of promised gift and present? The two (2) prosecution witnesses, police
officers Gonzales and Resurreccion, did not testify but they actually saw any bribe money being
handed to the police officers in exchange for the release of the two (2) Chinese nationals. There
are, however, unrebutted circumstantial pieces of evidence showing that there was money used
in the release of the two (2) Chinese nationals. In fact, there are admissions by some of the
accused that the two (2) Chinese nationals were released in exchange for money.

The Court incisively analyzed the testimony of the two (2) prosecution witnesses and holds that
all the members of the team that participated in the operation involving Ester Ulpindo and the
two (2) Chinese nationals must answer for the release of the two (2) Chinese nationals without
any charge against the two (2) Chinese nationals especially at this stage of the proceedings that
no evidence has yet been presented to rebut the evidence of the prosecution. x x x.
x x x The Petitions for Bail of the other eleven (11) accused are hereby DENIED in view of the
findings of the Court that the Prosecution, at this stage of the proceedings and without any
evidence of the accused to rebut the Prosecution's evidence, has established a strong evidence of
guilt of the crime charged (Qualified Bribery) in the Information.
Displeased, petitioner filed a petition for habeas corpus urging the Court of Appeals to issue the writ prayed
for so that the legality or illegality of his detention may be ventilated in court.
The Court of Appeals dismissed the petition.
Thus, the instant petition.
The crime of qualified bribery as defined in and penalized by Article 211-A of the Revised Penal Code
provides:
If any public officer is entrusted with law enforcement and he refrains form arresting or
prosecuting an officer who has committed a crime punishable by reclusion perpetua and/or
death in consideration of any offer , promise, gift or present, he shall suffer the penalty for the
offense which was not prosecuted.
If it is the public officer who asks or demands such gift or present, he shall suffer the penalty of
death. (As added by Sec. 4, R.A. No. 7659).
From the above, the crime is considered a capital offense, in which case, bail is a not a matter of right.
Since the right to bail partly depends on the quantum of evidence of guilt, the prosecution has the burden of
proving why bail should not granted or allowed. The prosecution must show that there is strong evidence of
guilt of a capital offense, meaning that which is punishable by reclusion perpetua. The word "strong",
however, does not mean that the prosecution must present proof beyond reasonable doubt (Pareja vs.
Gomez, 5 SCRA 830 [1962]).
In the case at bar, the trial court rules that the evidence presented by the prosecution overcame such
burden while petitioner merely insist on allegation of violation of his constitutional rights.
Although the judge is under legal obligation, upon proper application, to receive evidence with a view of
determining the right to bail in appropriate cases, the determination of the weight of the evidence is
discretionary upon him and its outcome cannot be compelled by mandamus (Payao vs. Lesaca, 63 Phil 210
[1936]), or in this case circumvented by the issuance of writ of habeas corpus.
Finally, the Court of Appeals committed no error in denying the petition for habeas corpus considering that:
1) the information has already been filed in court against petitioner (Cruz vs. Montoya, 62 SCRA 543); 2)
petitioner had petitioned for bail but the same was denied (Galvez v. CA, 237 SCRA 685); 3) petitioner is in
custody of the jail warden under process issued by a court which has jurisdiction to issue said process (Sec.
4, Rule 192, Rules of Court); and 4) a writ of habeas corpus cannot be issued to the correct errors of fact or
law for as long as the court has jurisdiction over the case and the person of the accused (Talabon v. Iloilo
Provincial Warden, 78 Phil. 599).
The Court has ruled that a petition for habeas corpus is not the appropriate vehicle for asserting a right to
bail or vindicating its denial (Galvez vs. Court of Appeals, 237 SCRA 685 [1994]).
WHEREFORE, petition is denied due course.

SO ORDERED.
Very truly yours,
(Sgd.) JULIETA Y. CARREON
Clerk of Court

^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^
Police Superintendent : okay, Prisoner 1 and Prisoner 2, give us
Half million and we will release you. Except Prisoner 3 will be left to answer the charges for
selling 1.5 kilos of shabu.
Prisoner 1 and 2: That is a welcome preposition sir. We have that kind of amount to give you sir.
Police Superintendent : This money is good enough for me and my men. Okay, Prisoner 1 and 2,
you are now released. Good speed.
@@@@@@ Do the Police Superintendent and his men liable for the crime of qualified
bribery?
^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^

SECOND DIVISION
HON. PRIMO C. MIRO, Deputy G.R. No. 170697
Ombudsman for the Visayas,
Petitioner,
Present:
CARPIO, J., Chairperson,
- versus - BRION,
DEL CASTILLO,
ABAD, and
PEREZ, JJ.
REYNALDO M. DOSONO, Promulgated:
Respondent. April 30, 2010
x--------------------------------------------------------------------------------------- x

DECISION
CARPIO, J.:
The Case
This resolves the petition for review on certiorari[1] of the Decision[2] of the Court
of Appeals absolving respondent Reynaldo M. Dosono, an internal revenue officer,
from administrative liability for extortion.
The Facts
Respondent Reynaldo M. Dosono (respondent) is an examiner of the Bureau of
Internal Revenue (BIR) at its district office in Mandaue City, Cebu. As such,
respondent takes care in assessing tax liabilities.
On 14 July 2003, the spouses Vicente G. Igot and Paterna C. Igot (complainants)
went to the BIR office in Mandaue City for an assessment of their tax liabilities
from the transfer of two parcels of land. The complainants narrated what transpired
at the BIR office:
[A]tty. Reynaldo DOSONO assessed the aforementioned
properties at eighty nine thousand eight hundred pesos (P89,800.00)
which we believed that the computation is too much for the capital gains
tax of my [sic] two aforementioned lots valued at one hundred thousand
pesos per lot. We asked him for a re-computation that [sic] he agreed and
told us to follow him to his table. In his re-computation, it turned out that
the capital gains tax amounted only to twenty four thousand nine
hundred sixty pesos (P 24,960.00) x x x. At this point, he told us that
from the amount reduced, we have already saved more than sixty
thousand pesos wherein he demanded an amount of thirty thousand
pesos (P30,000). We suggested to pay him the said amount after we have
paid the taxable amount with the Philippine National Bank x x x the
following day which he agreed.[3]

Complainants sought the help of the Cebu City police which arranged an
entrapment. As pay-off money, complainants were given eight P500 bills and fake
notes (boodle money) placed in a white envelope, with the bills and envelope
dusted with ultraviolet fluorescent powder. The policemen who took part in the
operation, Police Inspector Joie Pacito P. Yape, Jr. (Yape), PO2 Bernard Calzada
(Calzada), and CI-I Douglas C. Castillon, Jr., described how the entrapment
unfolded on 15 July 2003:
2. After briefing with our Investigation Chief, in the presence of
Vicente IGOT, we proceeded to the said BIR office, and arrived thereat
at about 10:30 a.m.;
3. At the said office particularly at the Capital Gains Tax Division,
we saw Vicente IGOT and his wife approached [sic] Atty. Reynaldo
DOSONO, an examiner, and who is the subject of the entrapment.
Spouses IGOT handed the envelope containing the marked boodle
money with eight (8) pieces of P500 bills;
4. After Atty. Reynaldo DOSONO received the marked boodle
money and place [sic] it under his drawer, we introduced ourselves and
informed him of our purpose and recovered the said marked money,
whereby we apprehended and informed him of his offense, and
subsequently read him his constitutional rights. x x x [4]

Respondent was brought to the police headquarters in Camp Sotero Cabahug in


Cebu City where he was tested and found positive for fluorescent powder in both
hands.
The complainants filed with the Office of the Ombudsman Visayas (Ombudsman)
an administrative complaint against respondent for Grave Misconduct.[5]
Respondent denied any wrongdoing. Respondent alleged that in assessing
complainants tax liabilities on 14 July 2003, he merely followed the schedule of
zonal values prominently displayed at his office and that after informing
complainants of their tax liability (P24,960 for two transfers covering capital gains
and documentary stamp taxes), complainants requested an assessment for a third
transfer. Because complainants did not have with them a copy of the deed of sale,
respondent told complainants to come back with the document. On 15 July 2003,

complainants returned and unceremoniously gave him several documents. [6] Before
respondent knew it, several men placed him under arrest and brought him to Camp
Sotero Cabahug for booking and testing for fluorescent powder. Respondent denied
holding the dusted envelope but surmised that he must have been contaminated at
the police headquarters where one of the arresting officers seized his handkerchief
and rubbed it against the white envelope containing the marked money and when
he was made to pose before mediamen holding the same white envelope.
As a preventive measure, the Ombudsman suspended respondent from office for
six months as the evidence appear to be strong enough to establish probable guilt x
x x for Grave Misconduct x x x.[7]
At the hearings before the Ombudsman, only respondent and the arresting
policemen testified as complainants failed to appear.
The Ruling of the Ombudsman
In its Decision dated 27 January 2004, the Ombudsman found respondent liable as
charged and dismissed him from service. The Ombudsman gave credence to
complainants allegation on respondents extortion attempt, prompting them to seek
police assistance. The Ombudsman found pivotal the presence of fluorescent
powder on respondents hands. The Ombudsman rejected respondents
unsubstantiated frame-up theory as inadequate to overcome the presumption of
regularity in the performance of official duties clothing the acts of the arresting
policemen. On the complainants failure to testify, the Ombudsman did not consider
this fatal in light of the testimonies of the arresting policemen.
Upon the denial of his motion for reconsideration,[8] respondent appealed to the
Court of Appeals.
The Ruling of the Court of Appeals
In its Decision dated 18 April 2005, the Court of Appeals reversed the Ombudsman
and dismissed the complaint against respondent. The Court of Appeals found the
Ombudsmans findings unsupported by substantial evidence. Further, the Court of

Appeals held that complainants failure to testify during the hearings rendered their
joint affidavit hearsay and the testimonies of the arresting policemen baseless.
Lastly, the Court of Appeals found merit in respondents claim of frame-up in light
of the testimonies of Yape and Calzada that during the entrapment, the dusted
envelope and money were placed inside a folder which respondent immediately
placed in his table drawer unopened.
Petitioners motion for reconsideration was denied in the Resolution dated 30
November 2005.
Hence, this petition.

The Issue
The question is whether the Court of Appeals erred in exonerating respondent for
grave misconduct involving extortion.

The Ruling of the Court


We hold in the affirmative, grant the petition and reinstate the Ombudsmans ruling.
Substantial Evidence Supports
Respondents Liability

We are loathe to relax the beneficent rule limiting reviews under Rule 45 to
questions of law.[9] Nevertheless, we are sometimes called to review rulings which
reverse initial factual findings,[10] draw unreasonable inferences[11] or overlook
relevant facts,[12] constraining us to widen the scope of review to cover factual
questions. This is one such case.
As an administrative proceeding, the evidentiary bar against which the evidence at
hand is measured is not the highest quantum of proof beyond reasonable doubt,
requiringmoral certainty to support affirmative findings. Instead, the lowest
standard of substantial evidence,[13] that is, such relevant evidence as a reasonable

mind will accept asadequate to support a conclusion, applies.[14] Because


administrative liability attaches so long as there is some evidence adequate to
support the conclusion that acts constitutive of the administrative offense have
been performed (or have not been performed), reasonable doubt does not ipso
facto result in exoneration unlike in criminal proceedings where guilt must be
proven beyond reasonable doubt.[15] This hornbook doctrinal distinction undergirds
our parallel findings of administrative liability and criminal acquittal on reasonable
doubt for charges arising from the same facts.[16]
Here, no one disputes that complainants, ordinary taxpayers who were
complete strangers to respondent, immediately sought police help for respondents
illegal solicitation. As the joint affidavit of Yape and Calzada attested:
1. [O]n July 15, 2003, we were instructed by our Regional Chief to
conduct an entrapment operation at the BIR Office in Subangdaku,
Mandaue City, pursuant to the complaint lodged by Mr. Vicente IGOT of
Lapu-Lapu City x x x for alleged [a]ttempted bribery [sic].[17] (Emphasis
supplied)
xxxx
3. At the said office particularly at the Capital Gains Tax Division,
we saw Vicente IGOT and his wife approached [sic] Atty. Reynaldo
DOSONO, an examiner, and who is the subject of the entrapment.
Spouses IGOT handed the envelope containing the marked boodle
money with eight (8) pieces of P500 bills;

Following the entrapment, respondent was brought to the police


headquarters where he was tested and found positive for ultraviolet fluorescent
powder in both hands, the same substance dusted on the pay-off envelope. The
Ombudsman found substantial evidence to pin respondent:
The taxpayers, upon realizing that the demand was too much and the
amount would go to the pocket of the respondent Dosono instead, sought
the assistance of the CIDG-7, which in turn set up an entrapment
operation against said respondent. After preparation, the CIDG-7,
through its investigation Section headed by P/Insp. Enrique Lacerna,
created a team composed of P/Insp. Joie Yape, Jr., PO2 Bernard Calzada
and CI-1 Douglas Castillon, Jr. which would be tasked to execute the
said entrapment operation.

Thus, on July 14, 2003 at about 10:30 oclock in the morning, the team of
P/Insp. Yape, together with Spouses Igot, proceeded to the BIR Mandaue
City Office to carry out the entrapment operation which led to the arrest
of respondent Dosono who was caught in flagrante delicto receiving an
envelope containing marked boodle money and eight (8) marked P500
bills from complainant Vicente Igot. As stipulated by the parties, the
envelope, marked boodle money and eight (8) marked P500 bills all
were dusted with ultraviolet fluorescent powder. x x x
xxxx
From the facts obtaining, the acts committed by respondent Dosono
appeared to have been motivated by bad faith and corruption and thus,
constitute Grave Misconduct x x x and the evidence at hand is found to
be substantial enough to convict him as the said offense, the quantum of
evidence required in an administrative case. [18] x x x x

We affirm the Ombudsmans ruling. To a reasonable as opposed to a


suspicious mind, the circumstances leading to the filing of the complaint against
respondent, his arrest following his entrapment, and the results from the laboratory
tests are more than adequate to support the conclusion that respondent illegally
solicited money from complainants and was caught red-handed receiving the payoff money. This is clear-cut grave misconduct corrupt conduct inspired by

an intention to violate the law, or constituting flagrant disregard of wellknown legal rules.[19]
The Court of Appeals found the evidence inadequate because it dwelt on
the doubts respondent conjured to weaken the case against him. In doing so, the
Court of Appeals unwittingly mutated this proceeding to a quasi-criminal litigation
and employed heightened standard of proof approximating proof beyond
reasonable doubt. How else could it explain its invocation of Formilleza v.
Sandiganbayan,[20] a criminal appeal of a verdict rendered by the Sandiganbayan
finding the respondent guilty of Indirect Bribery under Article 211 of the Revised
Penal Code?[21] In the process, the Court of Appeals discarded without basis the
crucial presumption of regularity in the performance of official duties [22] by the
arresting policemen and took respondents word as veritable truth. Yet, a considered

study of respondents defense reveals that the so-called doubts respondent conjured
are not even reasonable.
The presence of ultraviolet powder in respondents hands anchors his
administrative liability; thus, respondent had to discredit Yape and Calzadas
statement in their joint affidavit that complainants handed [to respondent] the
envelope containing the marked boodle money and respondent received the
marked boodle money.[23] Respondent does so by alleging frame-up: a rogue
member of the arresting team snatched his handkerchief at Camp Sotero Cabahug,
rubbed it against the dusted envelope to contaminate it with ultraviolet powder and
gave it back to respondent who, in his absentminded state, received the
handkerchief. (In an ancillary, less-sinister tale, respondent claimed he was further
contaminated when he was later made to pose before mediamen holding the
envelope).
Instead of taking respondents story for a fact, the Court of Appeals should
have accorded greater weight to the following findings of the Ombudsman
rejecting respondents untenable story, being the fact-finding body which saw and
heard respondent testify:
As to respondents claim that in the CIDG-7 one of the apprehending
police officers snatched his handkerchief and wiped a white envelope
with the same and then was asked to pose in front of media holding the
said envelope, he is insinuating that said police officer planted ultraviolet
powder on his handkerchief so that when he happened to hold either the
handkerchief or the envelope, he could be tested positive [for] ultraviolet
fluorescent powder. In order for the defense of frame-up to prosper, the
evidence adduced must be clear and convincing. x x x Moreover, the said
contentions are found to be more fictional than real because during the
formal investigation of the case, the respondent could not even identify,
when required to do so, who among the apprehending police officers did
the same to him.[24] x x x (Emphasis supplied; internal citations omitted)
Indeed, respondent was arrested not by a battalion of law enforcers but by three
policemen who were with him at the BIR office and who transported him from
Mandaue City to Cebu City. All respondent had to do to substantiate his claim was
point to the erring officer during the hearings before the Ombudsman. This

omission and respondents failure to corroborate his alleged prejudicial picturetaking (by submitting the relevant photograph) undercuts his goal of casting
reasonable doubts on complainants case.
On the testimonies of Yape and Calzada (that upon receiving payment during
the entrapment, respondent immediately placed in his table drawer the folder
containing the dusted envelope without opening it), it was error for the Court of
Appeals to treat this as added proof of respondents innocence. First, both the bills
and the envelope were dusted with ultraviolet fluorescent powder.[25] Anyone who
touches the envelope would be contaminated with the powder even if the envelope
is not opened. Second, the Court of Appeals overlooked the fact that Yape and
Calzada declared under oath in their joint affidavit that complainants handed [to
respondent] the envelope containing the marked boodle money and that respondent
received the marked boodle money. The records do not show that Yape and
Calzada were confronted with this statement when they took the stand thus
depriving them of the chance to reconcile the seeming variation between their
statement and testimonies. As the party seeking to exploit this fact, it was
incumbent on respondent to have done so. We cannot allow respondent to
capitalize on his omission. Yape and Calzadas statement that complainants handed
[to respondent] the envelope containing the marked boodle money and respondent
received the marked boodle money, coupled with the presence of the fluorescent
powder in respondents hands and the inconceivability of respondents frame-up
defense lead to no other conclusion: respondent was contaminated during the
entrapment.
Indeed, it is a self-evident fact that our law enforcement officers are sworn to
uphold the law, not to invent crimes. The imperative of ensuring the smooth
functioning of the government machinery grounds the evidentiary presumption that
public officers have performed their duties regularly. True, this presumption is not
conclusive, but it is also not meaningless. It takes more than a bare tale of
malfeasance by an unidentified perpetrator to overcome it. To accept as
presumption-overcoming dubious tales of the likes respondent purveyed is to leave
the smooth functioning of our government to the mercy of the fertile imagination
of litigants, free to concoct all sorts of devious plots and attribute them to unnamed

civil servants. We could not imagine a more insidious way to slowly paralyze state
apparatuses of governance.
The Court of Appeals error was compounded when it treated complainants nonappearance at the hearing as fatal to their case and rendering the testimonies of the
arresting policemen baseless. Considering the physical evidence on record and the
arresting officers unimpeached testimonies (proving that (1) they conducted the
entrapment based on the complainants complaint and (2) respondent was the target
of the entrapment for his illegal solicitation), the Ombudsman committed no error
in proceeding to hear the case and render judgment. Indeed, the Court of Appeals
disposition is akin to a court dismissing an administrative complaint because the
complainants desisted. This runs counter to the deeply ingrained policy that
disciplinary administrative proceedings are imbued with public interest which
cannot be held hostage by fickle-minded complainants. This policy explains our
refusal to dismiss the administrative complaint in Office of the Court
Administrator v. Atty. Morante[26] despite the desistance of the complainants and to
use the evidence on record to hold the respondent public officer liable for grave
misconduct for extortion, as here.
Lastly, the cases the Court of Appeals invoked for doctrinal support are
unavailing. Tapiador v. Office of the Ombudsman[27] rose and fell exclusively on
the affidavits of the complainants: no entrapment was conducted, no arresting
officers testified to substantiate its execution, and no physical evidence linked the
respondent to the pay-off money. Further, the identity of the pay-off recipient
in Tapiador was not proven. With the failure of the complainants to testify during
the hearings, the Court was left with no choice but to discard the case for
insufficiency of evidence. Indeed, even the liberal standard of substantial evidence
demands some adequate evidence.
Suffering from substantially the same defect, Boyboy v. Yabut[28] pitted the
bare allegations of the complainants charging the respondent with extortion against
the respondents denial of the charge. Again, unlike here, no entrapment operation
was conducted in Boyboy and no laboratory findings implicated the respondent
there. Thus, we held in Boyboy that the failure of the investigating body to hold
hearings, which would have tested the parties credibility, undermined the veracity
of the complainants case.

Public Office Imbued with Highest Trust


Unlike private offices which are held largely on the dictates of market forces,
public offices are public trust. [29] Public officers are tasked to serve the public
interest, thus the excessive burden for their retention in the form of numerous
prohibitions. The liberal evidentiary standard of substantial evidence and the
freedom of administrative proceedings from technical niceties effectuate the
fiduciary nature of public office: they are procedural mechanisms assuring ease in
maintaining an efficient bureaucracy, free of rent-seeking officials who exploit
government processes to raise easy money. Respondents hold on his item at the
Mandaue City revenue office, which, like our customs offices, is a common situs
for corrupt activities, is no more lasting than his fidelity to his trust. Although no
criminal verdict deprives respondent of his liberty, adequate evidence justifies his
removal from the bureaucracy for forfeiting the public trust.
WHEREFORE, we GRANT petition. We REVERSE the Decision dated 18
April 2005 and the Resolution dated 30 November 2005 of the Court of Appeals
and REINSTATEthe Decision dated 27 January 2004 and Order dated 17
February 2004 of the Office of the Ombudsman Visayas in OMB-V-A-03-0426-G.
SO ORDERED.

ANTONIO T. CARPIO
Associate Justice

WE CONCUR:

ARTURO D. BRION
Associate Justice

MARIANO C. DEL CASTILLO ROBERTO A. ABAD


Associate Justice Associate Justice

JOSE PORTUGAL PEREZ


Associate Justice

ATTESTATION
I attest that the conclusions in the above Decision had been reached in consultation
before the case was assigned to the writer of the opinion of the Courts Division.

ANTONIO T. CARPIO
Associate Justice
Chairperson

CERTIFICATION
Pursuant

to

Section

13,

Article

VIII

of

the

Constitution,

and

the

Division Chairpersons Attestation, I certify that the conclusions in the above


Decision had been reached in consultation before the case was assigned to the
writer of the opinion of the Courts Division.

REYNATO S. PUNO
Chief Justice