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THIRDDIVISION

[G.R.No.14426162.May9,2001]

PRUDENTE D. SOLLER, M.D., PRECIOSA M. SOLLER, M.D., RODOLFO I.


SALCEDO,JOSEFINAB.MORADA,MARIOM.MATINING,andROMMELM.
LUARCA, petitioners vs. THE HONORABLE SANDIGANBAYAN and PEOPLE
OFTHEPHILIPPINES,respondents.
DECISION
GONZAGAREYES,J.:

This special civil action for certiorari, prohibition and mandamus raises the issue of the propriety of the
assumption of jurisdiction by the Sandiganbayan[1] in Criminal Cases Nos. 25521 and 25522 both entitled
PeopleofthePhilippinesvs.PrudenteD.Soller,PreciosaM.Soller,RodolfoSalcedo,JosefinaMorada,Mario
Matining and Rommel Luarca wherein petitioners are charged with Obstruction of Apprehension and
ProsecutionofCriminalOffendersasdefinedandpenalizedunderP.D.No.1829.The grounds for petitioners
MotiontoQuashtheInformationsagainstthemarethatonlypetitionerPrudenteD.Solleroccupiedaposition
classifiedasGrade27andhigherandbecausetheoffenseschargedwerenotcommittedbyhiminviolationof
hisofficeasMunicipalMayorofBansud,OrientalMindoro.
It appears that in the evening of March 14, 1997, Jerry Macabael a municipal guard, was shot and killed
along the national highway at Bansud, Oriental Mindoro while driving a motorcycle together with petitioner
Sollersson,VincentM.Soller.HisbodywasbroughttoamedicalcliniclocatedinthehouseofpetitionerDr.
Prudente Soller, the Municipal Mayor, and his wife Dr. Preciosa Soller, who is the Municipal Health Officer.
TheincidentwasreportedtoandinvestigatedbypetitionerSPO4MarioMatining.Anautopsywasconducted
on the same night on the cadaver of Jerry by petitioner Dr. Preciosa Soller with the assistance of petitioner
RodolfoSalcedo,SanitaryInspector,andpetitionerJosefinaMorada,RuralHealthMidwife.
Onthebasisoftheforegoingincident,acomplaintwaslaterfiledagainstthepetitionersbythewidowof
JerryMacabaelwiththeOfficeoftheOmbudsmanchargingthemwithconspiracytomisleadtheinvestigation
ofthefatalshootoutofJerryMacabaelby(a)alteringhiswound(b)concealinghisbrain(c)falselystatingin
police report that he had several gunshot wounds when in truth he had only one and d) falsely stating in an
autopsyreportthattherewasnoblackeningaroundhiswoundwhenintruththerewas.
PetitionersspousesSollerdeniedhavingtamperedwiththecadaverofJerryMacabael,andclaimed,among
othersthatJerryMacabaelwasbroughttotheirprivatemedicalclinicbecauseitwastherewherehewasrushed
byhiscompanionsaftertheshooting,thatpetitionerPrudenteSoller,whoisalsoadoctor,wasmerelyrequested
byhiswifePreciosaSoller,whowastheMunicipalHealthOfficer,toassistintheautopsyconsideringthatthe
procedureinvolvedsawingwhichrequiredmalestrength,andthatMrs.Macabaelsconsentwasobtainedbefore
theautopsy.Thetwo(2)policeofficersdeniedhavingplantedthree(3)shellsattheplacewheretheshooting
tookplace.
The Office of the Ombudsman recommended the filing of an Information for Obstruction of Justice
(ViolationofP.D.1829),andtwo(2)Informations[2]werefiledwiththeSandiganbayanwhichweredocketedas
CriminalCasesNos.25521and25522.Thetwo(2)informationsrespectivelyreadasfollows:
CriminalCaseNo.25521

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TheundersignedGraftInvestigationOfficerI,OfficeoftheDeputyOmbudsmanforLuzon,herebyaccuses
PRUDENTESOLLER,PRECIOSASOLLER,MARIOMATINING,ROMMELLUARCA,RODOLFO
SALCEDO,andJOSIEMORADA,ofcommittingtheoffenseofObstructionofApprehensionandProsecution
ofCriminalOffendersasdefinedandpenalizedunderSection1,ParagraphbofP.D.1829,committedas
follows:
ThatonoraboutMarch14,1997,priororsubsequentthereto,attheMunicipalityofBansud,OrientalMindoro
andwithinthejurisdictionofthisHonorableCourt,theabovenameaccused,allpublicofficers,thenbeingthe
MunicipalMayor,MunicipalHealthOfficer,SPOII,PO1,SanitaryInspectorandMidwife,respectively,allof
saidmunicipality,conspiringandconfederatingwithoneanother,didthenandtherewilfully,unlawfully,and
criminallyalterandsuppressthegunshotwoundandconcealthebrainofJERRYMACABAELwithintentto
impairitsveracity,authenticity,andavailabilityasevidenceintheinvestigationofcriminalcaseformurder
againsttheaccusedVincentSoller,thesonofhereinrespondents.
CONTRARYTOLAW.
CriminalCaseNo.25522
TheundersignedGraftInvestigationOfficer,I,OfficeoftheDeputyOmbudsmanforLuzon,herebyaccuses
PRUDENTESOLLER,PRECIOSASOLLER,MARIOMATINING,ROMMELLUARCA,RODOLFO
SALCEDO,andJOSIEMORADA,ofcommittingtheoffenseofObstructionofApprehensionandProsecution
ofCriminalOffendersasdefinedandpenalizedunderSection1,ParagraphbofP.D.1829,committedas
follows:
ThatonoraboutMarch14,1997,priororsubsequentthereto,attheMunicipalityofBansud,OrientalMindoro
andwithinthejurisdictionofthisHonorableCourt,theabovenameaccused,allpublicofficers,thenbeingthe
MunicipalMayor,MunicipalhealthOfficer,SPOII,PO1,SanitaryInspectorandMidwife,respectively,allof
saidmunicipality,conspiringandconfederatingwithoneanother,didthenandtherewilfully,unlawfully,and
criminalgivefalseandfabricatedinformationintheautopsyreportandpolicereporttomisleadorpreventthe
lawenforcementagency,fromapprehendingtheoffenderbyreportingthatthereareseveralgunshotwoundsin
thebodyofthevictim,JERRYMACABAELandthatthereisnotattooing(blackening)aroundthewoundofthe
saidvictimwhenintruthandinfact,thereisonlyonegunshotwoundandthereistattooing(blackening)around
thewoundwhichwouldindicatethatthevictimwasshotbyVincentSoller,thesonofthehereinrespondents
spousesPrudenteandPreciosaSoller.
CONTRARYTOLAW.
PetitionersfiledaMotiontoQuashontheprincipalgroundthattheSandiganbayanhadnojurisdictionover
theoffenseschargedthismotionwasopposedbyrespondentPeople.InitsassailedOrderdatedApril14,2000,
the Sandiganbayan denied petitioners Motion to Quash on the ground that the accusation involves the
performanceofthedutiesofatleastone(1)oftheaccusedpublicofficials,andiftheMayorisindeedproperly
chargedtogetherwiththatofficial,thentheSandiganbayanhasjurisdictionovertheentirecaseandoverallthe
coaccused.TheOrderstatedthattheaccusedistheMayorofthemunicipalitywheretheallegedincidenttook
placeand,therefore,anyattempttodeviateortopresentfalseevidenceinconnectionwithacriminaloffense
committed in his municipality for which he is charged would be an offense also in which the accused Mayor
wouldbeprobablyheldaccountablebeforethisCourt.
MotionforReconsiderationoftheaboveorderwasfiledonthepremisethatitisnotamongthefunctionsof
the mayor to conduct autopsies so that any misdeed, if indeed there was any, could not be an offense which
would put him under the jurisdiction of the court.Motion for Reconsideration was denied, the Sandiganbyan
rulingthat:
Theenumerationofthefunctionsofthemayorindicateveryclearlythatheistheprimaryexecutiveand,
therefore,necessarilytheprimarypeaceofficerofthemunicipality,forwhichreason,anyactiononhispart
whichdeviatesfromthatfunctionisanofficerelatedoffense.Inthisparticularinstance,theaccusedischarged
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forhavingcooperatedorcoparticipatedwithanotherpublicofficialoflowerrankinthesamemunicipalityin
thesupposedfalsificationoftheresultsofanautopsy.Additionally,evenifthefunctionsofanautopsywere
totallyunrelatedtoanyoftheadministrativeorexecutivefunctionsoverwhichthemayormayhavesupervision
and,morespecially,control,thefactofthematteristhatthejurisdictionoftheCourtcoversnotonlythe
offensescommittedbytheofficialsofGradeLevel27orhigherastheprincipalaccusedbutevenwheresuch
officialsarealsoaccusedtogetherwithsomeotherpublicofficialswhomaybeatalevelbelowGradeLevel27
inconnectionwiththeperformanceoftheirduties.
Inthisinstance,accusedMayorPrudenteD.Soller,Sr.whooccupiesapositionatGradeLevel27,iscoaccused
withhiswife,theMunicipalHealthOfficerwhooccupiesapositionatGradeLevel24,sothat,necessarily,the
offenseattributedtothelowerrankingofficerelevatestheentirecasetothisCourtprimarilybecausesomebody
overwhomthisCourthasjurisdiction,theMayor,isaccusedtogetherwiththelowerrankingofficer.[3]
Hence,thispetitionallegingthat
RESPONDENTSANDIGANBAYANACTEDWITHOUTORINEXCESSOFJURISDICTIONORWITH
GRAVEABUSEOFDISCRETIONAMOUNTINGTOLACKOFJURISDICTIONINHOLDINGTHATIT
HASJURISDICTIONOVERTHEOFFENSECHARGEDINSUBJECTCRIMINALCASESNOS.25521and
25522.[4]
CitingSection4ofP.D.1606asamended,whichdefinesthejurisdictionoftheSandiganbayan,petitioners
claim that for an offense to fall within the jurisdiction of the Sandiganbayan, the offense must have been
committed by the officials enunciated in paragraph (a) in relation to their office, i.e. it should be intimately
connected with the office of the offender, and should have been perpetrated while the offender was in the
performance of his official functions. Moreover, these requisites must all be alleged in the information.
Petitionersassertthatinthesubjectcriminalcases,theInformationsdonotcontainfactualavermentsshowing
that they committed the acts charged in relation to their office, i.e., the acts charged are intimately connected
withtheirrespectiveofficesandwereperpetratedbythemwhiletheywereintheperformanceoftheirdutiesand
functions.
On the other hand, respondent People of the Philippines, represented by the Office of the Ombudsman,
throughtheOfficeoftheSpecialProsecutor,positsthateveniftheoffensechargedwasnotcommittedbythe
accusedwhileintheperformanceofhisofficialfunctions,thesamecouldstillbeconsidereddoneinrelationto
hisofficeiftheactswerecommittedinlineofduty.Respondentspositionisthatanoffensemaybeconsidered
committedinrelationtoofficeifitarosefrommisuseorabuseofpublicofficeorfromnonperformanceofan
officialdutyorfunctionthustheoffenseoffalsifyingautopsyandpolicereportsisofficerelatedconsidering
thatamongthedutiesandfunctionsofthemunicipalmayorintheexerciseofgeneralsupervisionandcontrol
overallprograms,projects,servicesandactivitiesofthemunicipalgovernment,isthatheshallensurethatall
executive officials and employees of the municipality faithfully discharge their duties and functions.The fact
thattheinformationsdonotallegethattheactschargedwerecommittedbypetitionerPrudenteSollerwhilehe
wasintheperformanceofhisofficialfunctionsordutiesisnotafataldefect,astheconclusionoflawthathis
actsareinviolationofhisdutiesasmunicipalmayorcouldnecessarilybededucedfromtheinformations.
Petitioners,intheirReply,reiteratethatthefactualavermentsintheInformationwerefatallydefectivein
viewoftheabsenceofanyspecificallegationthatwouldindicatethatthecrimeschargedwerecommittedbythe
defendantsinlineofdutyorintheperformanceoftheirofficialfunctions.
Thepetitionismeritorious.
Theruleisthatinordertoascertainwhetheracourthasjurisdictionornot,theprovisionsofthelawshould
beinquiredinto.[5]Furthermore,thejurisdictionofthecourtmustappearclearlyfromthestatutelaworitwill
notbeheldtoexist.Itcannotbepresumedorimplied.Forthispurposeincriminalcases,thejurisdictionofthe
courtisdeterminedbythelawatthetimeofthecommencementoftheaction.[6]
TheactionherewasinstitutedwiththefilingoftheInformationsonMay25,1999chargingthepetitioners
with the offense of Obstruction of Apprehension and Prosecution of Criminal Offenders as defined and
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penalizedunderSection1,ParagraphbofP.D.1829.TheapplicablestatutoryprovisionsarethoseofP.D.No.
1606aslastamendedbytheRepublicActNo.8249.Section4ofP.D.No.1606asamendedprovidesinsofaras
pertinent:
SEC.4.JurisdictionTheSandiganbayanshallexerciseexclusiveoriginaljurisdictioninallcasesinvolving:
a.ViolationsofRepublicActNo.3019,asamended,otherwiseknownastheAntiGraftandCorruption
PracticesAct,RepublicActNo.1379,andChapterII,Section2,TitleVII,BookIIoftheRevisedPenalCode,
whereoneormoreoftheaccusedareofficialsoccupyingthefollowingpositionsinthegovernment,whetherin
apermanent,actingorinterimcapacity,atthetimeofthecommissionoftheoffense:
xxxxxxxxx
(5)AllothernationalandlocalofficialsclassifiedasGrade27andhigherundertheCompensationandPosition
ClassificationActof1989.
xxxxxxxxx
b.Otheroffensesorfelonieswhethersimpleorcomplexedwithothercrimecommittedbythepublicofficials
andemployeesmentionedinsubsectionaofthissectioninrelationtotheiroffice.
xxxxxxxxx
IncaseswherenoneoftheaccusedareoccupyingpositionscorrespondingtosalaryGrade27orhigher,as
prescribedinthesaidRepublicAct6758,ormilitaryandPNPofficersmentionedabove,exclusiveoriginal
jurisdictionthereofshallbevestedintheproperregionaltrialcourt,metropolitantrialcourt,municipaltrial
court,andmunicipalcircuittrialcourt,asthecasemaybe,pursuanttotheirjurisdictionsasprovidedbyBatas
PambansaBlg.129,amended.
xxxxxxxxx
InBinayvs.Sandiganbayan,[7]thisCourtheldthattheMunicipalMayor,whooccupiesSalaryGrade27in
the hierarchy of positions in the government under Republic Act No. 6758 and the Index of Occupational
Services.PositionTitlesandSalaryGrades,fallswithintheexclusiveoriginaljurisdictionoftheSandiganbayan.
Theboneofcontentionhereiswhethertheoffenseschargedmaybeconsideredascommittedinrelationto
theirofficeasthisphraseisemployedintheabovequotedSection4.
AsearlyasMontillavs.Hilario,[8]thisCourthasinterpretedtherequirementthatanoffensebecommitted
in relation to the office to mean that the offense cannot exist without the office or that the office must be a
constituent element of the crime as defined and punished in Chapter Two to Six, Title Seven of the Revised
Penal Code (referring to the crimes committed by the public officers). People vs. Montejo[9] enunciated the
principlethattheoffensemustbeintimatelyconnectedwiththeofficeoftheoffenderandperpetratedwhilehe
was in the performance, though improper or irregular of his official functions. The Court, speaking through
Chief Justice Concepcion said that although public office is not an element of the crime of murder in (the)
abstract,thefactsinaparticularcasemayshowthat
xxxtheoffensethereinchargedisintimatelyconnectedwith(theaccuseds)respectiveofficesandwas
perpetratedwhiletheywereintheperformancethoughimproperorirregular,oftheirofficialfunctions.Indeed
(theaccused)hadnopersonalmotivetocommitthecrimeandtheywouldnothavecommittedithadtheynot
heldtheiraforesaidoffices.ThecodefendantsofrespondentLeroyS.Brownobeyedhisinstructionsbecausehe
wastheirsuperiorofficer,asMayorofBasilanCity.[10]
ThecitedrulingsinMontillavs.HilarioandinPeoplevs.MontejowerereiteratedinSanchezvs.Demetriou,[11]
Republic vs. Asuncion,[12] and Cunanan vs. Arceo.[13] The case of Republic vs. Asuncion categorically
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pronouncedthatthefactthatoffensewascommittedinrelationtotheofficemustbeallegedintheinformation:
Thatthepublicofficersoremployeescommittedthecrimeinrelationtotheiroffice,must,however,bealleged
intheinformationfortheSandiganbayantohavejurisdictionoveracaseunderSection4(a)(2).Thisallegation
isnecessarybecauseoftheunbendingrulethatjurisdictionisdeterminedbytheallegationsoftheinformation.
[14]

For this purpose what is controlling is not whether the phrase committed in violation to public office
appears in the information what determines the jurisdiction of the Sandiganbayan is the specific factual
allegationintheinformationthatwouldindicatecloseintimacybetweenthedischargeoftheaccusedsofficial
duties and the commission of the offense charged in order to qualify the crime as having been committed in
relationtopublicoffice.[15]
Inthiscase,theInformationssubjectofCriminalCasesNos.25521and25522quotedearlier,failtoallege
that petitioners had committed the offenses charged in relation to their offices. Neither are there specific
allegationsoffactstoshowtheintimaterelation/connectionbetweenthecommissionoftheoffensechargedand
thedischargeofofficialfunctionsoftheoffenders,i.e.thattheobstructionofandapprehensionandprosecution
of criminal offenders was committed in relation to the office of petitioner Prudente Soller, whose office as
MayorisincludedintheenumerationinSection4(a)ofP.D.1606asamended.Althoughthepetitionerswere
describedasbeingallpublicofficers,thenbeingtheMunicipalMayor,MunicipalHealthOfficer,SPOII,POI,
SanitaryInspectorandMidwife,therewasnoallegationthattheoffenseofalteringandsuppressingthegunshot
wound of the victim with intent to impair the veracity, authenticity and availability as evidence in the
investigation of the criminal case for murder (Criminal Case No. 25521) or of giving false and fabricated
information in the autopsy report and police report to mislead the law enforcement agency and prevent the
apprehension of the offender (Criminal Case No. 25522) was done in the performance of official function.
IndeedtheoffensesdefinedinP.D.1829maybecommittedbyanypersonwhetherapublicofficeroraprivate
citizen,andaccordinglypublicofficeisnotanelementoftheoffense.Moreover, the Information in Criminal
CaseNo.25522statesthatthefabricationofinformationinthepoliceandautopsyreportwouldindicatethatthe
victimwasshotbyVincentSoller,thesonofhereinpetitionersspousesPrudenteandPreciosaSoller.Thusthere
isacategoricalindicationthatthepetitionersspousesSollerhadapersonalmotivetocommittheoffensesand
theywouldhavecommittedtheoffenseschargedeveniftheydidnotrespectivelyholdthepositionofMunicipal
MayororMunicipalHealthOfficer.
AcursoryreadingofthedutiesandfunctionsoftheMunicipalMayorasenumeratedinSection444ofthe
Local Government Code will readily show that the preparation of police and autopsy reports and the
presentation and gathering of evidence in the investigation of criminal cases are not among such duties and
functions, and the broad responsibility to maintain peace and order cannot be a basis for construing that the
criminalactsimputedtopetitionerMayorfallunderhisfunctionsasMunicipalMayor.[16]Whatisobviousis
that petitioners spouses probably acted as the parents of the alleged assailant and if at all, were motivated by
personalreasonsratherthanofficialduty.
Consequently,forfailuretoshowintheinformationsthatthechargeswereintimatelyconnectedwiththe
dischargeoftheofficialfunctionsofaccusedMayorSoller,theoffenseschargedinthesubjectcriminalcases
fallwithintheexclusiveoriginalfunctionoftheRegionalTrialCourt,nottheSandiganbayan.
WHEREFORE,thepetitionisGRANTEDandthechallengedordersareSETASIDEanddeclaredNULL
andVOIDforlackofjurisdiction.Nocosts.
SOORDERED.
Melo(Chairman),Vitug,Panganiban,andSandovalGutierrez,JJ.,concur.
[1]FirstDivisioncomposedofPresidingJusticeFrancisE.GarchitorenaandAssociateJusticesCatalinoR.Castaeda,Jr.andGregory
S.Ong.
[2]Rollo,pp.3738.
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[3]Rollo,pp.3536.
[4]Petition,p.15.
[5]Quiazon,Camilo,PhilippineCourtsandtheirJurisdictions,1993,p.36.
[6]Azarconvs.Sandiganbayan,268SCRA747Peoplevs.Magallanes,249SCRA212.
[7]316SCRA65.
[8]90Phil.49.
[9]108Phil.613.
[10]Atp.622.
[11]227SCRA627.
[12]231SCRA211.
[13]242SCRA88.
[14]Atp.232.
[15]Lacsonvs.ExecutiveSecretary,301SCRA298.
[16]SeeNatividadvs.Felix,229SCRA680.

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