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Republic of the Philippines

~anbiganha\!an
Quezon City

FIFTH DIVISION

PEOPLE OF THE PHILIPPINES, SB-19-CRM-0053


Plaintiff, For: Violation of Section 3(e)
ofR.A. No. 3019, as amended
- versus -

OSMENA M. BANDILA, ET AL.,


Accused.
)( - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - )(
PEOPLE OF THE PHILIPPINES, SB-19-CRM-0054
Plaintiff, For: Malversation of Public Funds
(Article 217, Revised Penal Code,
as amended)
- versus -

OSMENA M. BANDILA, ET AL.,


Accused.
)( - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - )(
PEOPLE OF THE PHILIPPINES, SB-19-CRM-0055
Plaintiff, For: Violation of Section 3(e)
ofR.A. No. 3019, as amended
- versus -

OSMENA M. BANDILA, ET AL.,


Accused.
)( - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - )(
PEOPLE OF THE PHILIPPINES, SB-19-CRM-0056
Plaintiff, For: Malversation of Public Funds
(Article 217, Revised Penal Code,
as amended)

- versus - Present:

OSMENA M. BANDILA, ET AL., MENDOZA-ARCEGA, J.,


Acting Chairperson,
Accused. CORPUS-MANALAC, and
HIDALGO, JJ.*

Promulgated: (j#
~<z J~ly 2J)t~
)( - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - )(

• Designated as Special Member per Administrative Order No. 233-2019 dated June 10,2019.

1,/
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SB-19-CRM-0053 to 0056
People v. Bandila, et al.
x-----------------x

RESOLUTION

CORPUS-MAN-ALAC, J.:

Before this Court is the Motion to Quash Information due to


Inordinate Delay and to Hold in Abeyance the Arraignment of the Accused
Pending the Resolution of this Motion to Quash' dated June 19,2019 filed
by accused Mariflor S. Garcia, through counsel, on June 20, 2019, seeking
the quashal of the Informations in SB-19-CRM-0053 to 0056, insofar as said
accused is concerned, on the ground of inordinate delay, and the deferment
of her scheduled arraignment on June 21, 2019.

Accused Garcia avers that from the time of filing her answer-affidavit
to the complaint, docketed as OrvtB-C-C-13-0068, allegedly on May 22,
2013, it took almost three (3) years and nine (9) months for the Office of the
Ombudsman to resolve the complaint until February 7, 2017, the date of the
Resolution finding probable cause against her, among others; that she
invoked her right to a speedy disposition of her case right from the start, via
the continuing prayer for the dismissal of the complaint in her answer-
affidavit; and that she has been suffering from grave and undue prejudice
caused by the delay, for she retired from government service in 2013 and her
retirement benefits had been cut off due to administrative sanctions, placing
her in a difficult position to bear the burden, inconvenience and expenses of
litigation, including the long distance between the Honorable Court and her
place of residence, Davao City.

On June 21, 2019, the Court deferred the scheduled arraignment of


accused Garcia on even date and reset the same to July 26,2019.2

On June 28, 2019, the prosecution filed its Comment/Opposition'


dated June 27,2019, arguing that accused Garcia failed to invoke her right to
a speedy disposition of her case during preliminary investigation, whether in
her answer-affidavit or in the motion for reconsideration of the finding of
probable cause, and that she did not suffer any prejudice or injury during
preliminary investigation.

RULING

After a careful evaluation of the records, the Court resolves to deny


the motion to quash the Informations.

Accused Garcia predicated the ground of alleged inordinate delay in


her motion to quash upon Section 3(d), Rule 117 of the Rules of Court:

I Records, pp. 490-495.


2 Id. at 497.
3 Id. at 501-505.
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SB-19-CRM-0053 to 0056
People v. Bandila, et al.
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3. In a long line of cases, the Supreme Court held that a criminal


information can be quashed whenever the right of a party to speedy
disposition of a case before any judicial, quasi-judicial or administrative
bodies is violated. The inordinate delay in the case effectively
terminates the authority of the government officer to prosecute the
case against the accused." (Emphasis supplied)

Section 3(d) of Rule 117 provides that:

Section 3. Grounds. - The accused may move to quash the


complaint or information on any of the following grounds:

xxxx

(d) That the officer who filed the information had no authority
to do so[.] (Emphasis supplied)

A review of jurisprudence where the lack of authority of the officer to


file the information had been invoked for the inordinate delay on the part of
the Office of the Ombudsman is necessary.

In People v. Sandiganbayan and Perez' (2013), the Sandiganbayan


quashed the information on the ground of inordinate delay, upon motions for
reconsideration by the respondents therein, holding that "there being a clear
violation of the constitutional right of the accused, the prosecution is ousted
of any authority to file the information." The Supreme Court held that the
Sandiganbayan did not commit "any grave abuse of discretion in finding
that there had been an inordinate delay" in the fact-finding and preliminary
investigations conducted by the Office of the Ombudsman, without delving
on the supposed lack of authority of the prosecution to file the information.

In the subsequent case of Torres v. Sandiganbayan' (2016), the


petitioner therein filed a motion to quash before the Sandiganbayan, raising
the issue of inordinate delay, via Section 3(d) of Rule 117, on the part of the
Office of the Ombudsman in conducting the fact-finding and preliminary
investigations. In denying the motion to quash, the Sandiganbayan ruled that
there was no inordinate delay. On review, the Supreme Court disagreed and
held that petitioner's constitutional right to speedy disposition of cases had
been violated, without passing upon, again, the propriety of using Section
3(d) of Rule 117 as a ground in the motion to quash.

The reason behind the significant difference, as to effects, between


lack of authority of the officer to file the information via a motion to quash,
on one hand, and inordinate delay in violation of the right to speedy
disposition of cases, on the other hand, is that the former prevents the court
from acquiring jurisdiction over the case while the latter does not.

4 Id. at 490 (Motion to Quash, p. 1).


5 G.R. No. 188165, 11 December 2013.
6 G.R. Nos. 22\562-69, 5 October 2016.
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SB-19-CRM-0053 to 0056
People v. Bandila, et at.
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The case of Villa v. Ibahez' (1951) enunciated the principle that lack
of authority of the officer to file the information prevents the court from
acquiring jurisdiction over the case:

x x x. Now, the objection to the respondent's actuations goes to the


very foundations of jurisdiction. It is a valid information signed by a
competent officer which, among other requisites, confers jurisdiction
on the court over the person of the accused and the subject matter of
the accusation. In consonance with this view, an infirmity of the
nature noted in the information cannot be cured by silence,
acquiescence, or even by express consent. (Emphasis supplied)

In People v. Garfin8 (2004), the Supreme Court, per Justice Puno,


affirmed this doctrine, in relation to the present rules, that is, the 2000
Revised Rules of Criminal Procedure, and explained its effects on the
information, thus:

The provisions in the 2000 Revised Rules of Criminal Procedure


that demand illumination are Sections 3 and 9 of Rule 117 in relation to
paragraph 3, Section 4 of Rule 112, to wit:

Rule 117, Section 3. Grounds. - The accused may move


to quash the complaint or information on any of the following
grounds:

xxxx
(d) That the officer who filed the information had no
authority to do so;

xxxx

The case of Villa is [the) authority for the principle that lack of
authority on the part of the filing officer prevents the court from
acquiring jurisdiction over the case. Jurisdiction over the subject matter
is conferred by law while jurisdiction over the case is invested by the
act of plaintiff and attaches upon the filing of the complaint or
information. Hence, while a court may have jurisdiction over the
subject matter, like a violation of the SSS Law, it does not acquire
jurisdiction over the case itself until its jurisdiction is invoked with the
filing of the information.
xxxx

The application of the 1951 Villa ruling is not confined to


instances where the person who filed the information is disqualified from
being a special prosecutor under Section 1686 of the Revised
Administrative Code, as amended, but has been extended to various
cases where the information was filed by an unauthorized officer as in
the case at bar. In Cruz, Jr. v. Sandiganbayan, et aI., the Court held that it
is a fundamental principle that when on its face the information is null
and void for lack of authority to file the same, it cannot be cured nor
resurrected by amendment. x x x. Of similar import is Romualdez v.

7 G.R. No. L-4313, 20 March 1951.


8 G.R. No. 153176,29 March 2004.
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People v. Bandila, et al.
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Sandiganbayan, et al. where we ruled that the information having been


filed by an unauthorized party (the PCGG), the information was fatally
flawed. We noted that this defect is not a mere remediable defect of form,
but a defect that could not be cured.

xxxx

In Cudia v. Court of Appeals, et al., we also reiterated the Villa


ruling. x x x. We held that an information, when required by law to be
filed by a public prosecuting officer, cannot be filed by
another. Otherwise, the court does not acquire jurisdiction. x x x.
Questions relating to lack of jurisdiction may be raised at any stage of the
proceeding. An infirmity in the information, such as lack of authority
of the officer signing it, cannot be cured by silence, acquiescence, or
even by express consent.

Despite modifications of the provisions on unauthorized filing


of information contained in the 1940 Rules of Criminal Procedure
under which Villa was decided, the t 951 Villa ruling continues to be
the prevailing case law on the matter.

xxxx

The 1940 Rules of Court was amended in 1964. With only minimal
changes introduced, the 1964 Rules of Court contained provisions on
unauthorized filing of information similar to the above provisions of the
1940 Rules.

Then came the 1985 Rules of Criminal Procedure. Lack of


authority of the officer who filed the information was also a ground
for a motion to quash under these rules. x x x.

The 1985 Rules was amended in 2000. The 2000 Revised Rules of
Criminal Procedure also provide for lack of authority of the filing
officer as among the grounds for a motion to quash and the waiver of
these grounds. Similar to the 1985 Rules, the Revised Rules enumerate the
exceptions from the waiver, namely: x x x. Under the regime of the 2000
Revised Rules, we reiterated the Villa ruling in the above-cited
Romualdez case. x x x, the 2000 Rules did not intend to abandon Villa.
The Villa ruling subsisted alongside the enumerated exceptions under the
1985 Rules, and it remains to do so under the enumerated exceptions
under the 2000 Rules. Neither the Rationale of the 2000 Revised Rules
of Criminal Procedure nor the Minutes of the Meeting of the
Committee on the Revision of the Rules of Court evinces any intent to
abandon the doctrine enunciated in Villa.

In sum, we hold that, in the absence of a directive from the


Secretary of Justice designating State Prosecutor Tolentino as Special
Prosecutor for SSS cases or a prior written approval of the information by
the provincial or city prosecutor, the information in Criminal Case No.
RTC 2001-0597 was filed by an officer without authority to file the same.
As this infirmity in the information constitutes a jurisdictional defect
that cannot be cured, the respondent judge did not err in dismissing
the case for lack of jurisdiction. (Emphasis and underscoring supplied)
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People v. Bandila, et al.
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In Maximo v. Villapando, Jr.9 (2017), the Supreme Court once again


affirmed the Villa doctrine, as cited in People v. Garjin:

The case of People v. Garfin firmly instructs that the filing of an


Information by an officer without the requisite authority to file the same
constitutes a jurisdictional infirmity which cannot be cured by silence,
waiver, acquiescence, or even by express consent. In the said case, We lift
the ruling in Villa v. Ibahez, et al.:

xxxx

An Information, when required by law to be filed by a public


prosecuting officer, cannot be filed by another. The court does not
acquire jurisdiction over the case because there is a defect in the
Information. There is no point in proceeding under a defective
Information that could never be the basis of a valid conviction.
(Emphasis and underscoring supplied)

Since the information has been rendered void, as the primary result of
a successful challenge under Section 3(d) of Rule 117, preventing the court
from acquiring jurisdiction over the case, substantial differences from this
perspective, as to consequences, between lack of authority of the officer to
file the information and inordinate delay in violation of the right to speedy
disposition of cases need to be highlighted, viz.:

1. In the former, the information filed is void, \0 but in the latter, the
information is valid;

2. In the former, the dismissal of the case is actually for lack of


jurisdiction!' whereas, in the latter, the dismissal is for violation of
the constitutional right to speedy disposition of cases; 12 and

3. In the former, the dismissal of the case is without prejudice despite


the arraignment of the accusedl3 while, in the latter, the dismissal
is tantamount to an acquittal even if the accused has not been
arraigned, except where the dismissal is done with grave abuse of
discretion amounting to lack or excess of jurisdiction. 14

Therefore, inordinate delay in violation of the right to speedy


disposition of cases is not within the scope of lack of authority of the officer
to file the information, which has been extended only to various cases where
the information was filed by an unauthorized officer, as held in People v.
Garfin, and their nature and effects are significantly different from one
another.

9 G.R. No. 214925, 26 April 2017.


\0 People v. Garfin, supra note 8 and Maximo v. Vilfapando, Jr., id.
11 People v, Garfin, supra note 8.
12 Torres v. Sandiganbayan, supra note 6.
\3 Villa v.Tbahez; supra note 7; People v. Garfin, supra note 8 and Maximo v. Villapando, Jr., supra note 9.

14 Vide People v. Sandiganbayan and Gamos, G.R. Nos. 232197-98, 16 April 2018.
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SB-19-CRM-0053 to 0056
People v. Bandila, et al.
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In the present cases, all the four (4) Informations were approved not
only by then Ombudsman Conchita Carpio Morales on March 23, 2018, but
likewise by the new Ombudsman, Samuel R. Martires, on January 29, 2019.
Considering the approval of the Informations pursuant to Section 4, last
paragraph," Rule 11 of the Rules of Procedure of the Office of the
Ombudsman, the filing thereof was certainly made by the officer who has
the authority to do so.

Considering that accused Garcia's motion to quash the Informations


is, in actuality, anchored on the alleged inordinate delay on the part of the
Office of the Ombudsman in the conduct of preliminary investigation, a
ground that is not one of those stated in Section 316 of Rule 117, it is a
prohibited motion under Item Ill, 2(b)(iv) of the recently issued Revised
Guidelines for Continuous Trial of Criminal Cases (A.M. No. 15-06-10-SC),
which took effect on September 1, 2017:

Ill. Procedure
xxxx
2. Motions
xxxx
(b) Prohibited Motions. - Prohibited motions shall be denied
outright before the scheduled arraignment without need of comment
and/or opposition.

The following motions are prohibited:

xxxx

iv. Motion to quash information when the ground is not one of


those stated in Sec. 3, Rule 117. (Emphasis supplied)

On this score alone, the motion to quash may be denied outright.

Even if this Court treats the motion to quash the Informations as a


generic motion to dismiss on the ground of inordinate delay in the conduct of
preliminary investigation, it appears that such a motion does not find express
support under the Revised Guidelines for Continuous Trial of Criminal
Cases. While such a motion has not been explicitly listed as a prohibited

15 Section 4. Procedure - x x x.
xxxx
No information may be filed and no complaint may be dismissed without the written authority or
approval of the Ombudsman in cases falling within the jurisdiction of the Sandiganbayan, or of the proper
Deputy Ombudsman in all other cases.
16 Rule 117, Sec. 3. Grounds. - The accused may move to quash the complaint or information on any of the

following grounds: (a) That the facts charged do not constitute an offense; (b) That the court trying the case
has no jurisdiction over the offense charged; (c) That the court trying the case has no jurisdiction over the
person of the accused; (d) That the officer who filed the information had no authority to do so; (e) That it
does not conform substantially to the prescribed form; (t) That more than one offense is charged except
when a single punishment for various offenses is prescribed by law; (g) That the criminal action or liability
has been extinguished; (h) That it contains averments which, if true, would constitute a legal excuse or
justification; and (i) That the accused has been previously convicted or acquitted of the offense charged, or
the case against him was dismissed or otherwise terminated without his express consent.
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SB-19-CRM-0053 to 0056
People v. Bandila, et al.
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motion under said guidelines, it is neither included, however, m the


enumeration of meritorious motions therein. 17

Under the Rules of Criminal Procedure, the sanctioned motions that


may be filed and the grounds that may be invoked by an accused for the
dismissal of a criminal case prior to arraignment or trial, as the case may be,
are very specific and limited, viz.: 1) Motion to quash warrant of arrest for
lack of probable cause; 18 2) Motion to quash the complaint or information on
any of the nine specific grounds under Section 3 of Rule 117;19 3) Motion to
17 Item Ill, 2(b) and (c) of the Revised Guidelines for Continuous Trial of Criminal Cases provides that:

III. Procedure
xxxx
2. Motions
xxxx
(b) Prohibited Motions. - Prohibited motions shall be denied outright before the scheduled
arraignment without need of comment and/or opposition.
The following motions are prohibited:
i. Motion for judicial determination of probable cause.
ii. Motion for preliminary investigation filed beyond the five (5)-day reglementary period in
inquest proceedings under Sec. 6, Rule 112, or when preliminary investigation is required under Sec. 8,
Rule 112, or allowed in inquest proceedings and the accused failed to participate in the preliminary
investigation despite due notice.
iii. Motion for reinvestigation of the prosecutor recommending the filing of information once the
information has been filed before the court (1) if the motion is filed without prior leave of court; (2) when
preliminary investigation is not required under Sec. 8, Rule 112; and (3) when the regular preliminary
investigation is required and has been actually conducted, and the grounds relied upon in the motion are not
meritorious, such as issues of credibility, admissibility of evidence, innocence of the accused, or lack of
due process when the accused was actually notified, among others.
iv. Motion to quash information when the ground is not one of those stated in Sec. 3, Rule 117.
v. Motion for bill of particulars that does not conform to Sec. 9, Rule 116.
vi. Motion to suspend the arraignment based on grounds not stated under Sec. 11, Rule 116.
vii. Petition to suspend the criminal action on the ground of prejudicial question. when no civil
case has been filed, pursuant to Sec. 7, Rule Ill.
(c) Meritorious Motions. - Motions that allege plausible grounds supported by relevant documents
and/or competent evidence, except those that are already covered by the Revised Guidelines, are
meritorious motions, such as:
i. Motion to withdraw information, or to downgrade the charge in the original information, or to
exclude an accused originally charged therein, filed by the prosecution as a result of a reinvestigation,
reconsideration, and review;
ii. Motion to quash warrant of arrest;
iii. Motion to suspend arraignment on the ground of an unsound mental condition under Sec.
11(a), Rule 116;
iv. Motion to suspend proceedings on the ground of a prejudicial question where a civil case was
filed prior to the criminal case under Sec. 11(b), Rule 116;
v. Motion to quash information on the grounds that that facts charged do not constitute an offense,
lack of jurisdiction, extinction of criminal action or liability, or double jeopardy under Sec. 3, par. (a), (b),
(g), and (i), Rule 117;
vi. Motion to discharge accused as a state witness under Sec. 17, Rule 119;
vii. Motion to quash search warrant under Sec. 14, Rule 126, or motion to suppress evidence; and
viii. Motion to dismiss on the ground that the criminal case is a Strategic Law Suit Against Public
Participation (SLAPP) under Rule 6 of the Rules of Procedure for Environmental Cases.
xxxx
Motions that do not conform to the requirements stated above shall be considered unmeritorious
and shall be denied outright.
18 In Aguinaldo v. Ventus, G.R. No. 176033, 11 March 2015, the Supreme Court has declared that "the
quashal of a warrant of arrest may only take place upon the finding that no probable cause exists."
19 Supra note 16.

Sec. 9 of Rule 117 provides that "[t]he failure of the accused to assert any ground of a motion to
quash before he pleads to the complaint or information, x x x, shall be deemed a waiver of any objections
except those based on the grounds provided for in paragraphs (a), (b), (g), and (i) of section 3 of this Rule; tT'
Resolution 9
SB-19-CRM-0053 to 0056
People v. Bandila, et al.
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dismiss the information on the ground of denial of right to speedy trial under
Section 9 of Rule 119;20and 4) Motion to dismiss under Section 10 of Rule
119 on the ground of denial of the right to speedy trial under Section 14(2),
Article III of the 1987 Constitution."

Further, unlike in the National Prosecution Service where a petition


for certiorari under Rule 65 of the Rules of Court directly before the
Supreme Court is not an established remedy against its resolutions, a direct
resort to an original action for certiorari in the Supreme Court is a regular
and established remedy, since Tirol, Jr. v. Del Rosario+ (1999) and Kuizon
v. Des ierto'" (2001), for the judicial review of the resolutions and orders of
the Office of the Ombudsman in criminal actions."

In Acuha v. Deputy Ombudsman for Luzon:25

The remedy of an aggrieved party in criminal complaints


before the Ombudsman is to file with this Court a petition for
certiorari under Rule 65. Thus, we held in Tirol, Jr. v. Del Rosario:

x x x. As we ruled in Fabian, the aggrieved party


[in administrative cases] is given the right to appeal to the
Court of Appeals. Such right of appeal is not granted to
parties aggrieved by orders and decisions of the
Ombudsman in criminal cases, like finding probable cause
to indict accused persons.

However, an aggrieved party is not without


recourse where the finding of the Ombudsman x x x is
tainted with grave abuse of discretion, amounting to
lack [or) excess of jurisdiction. An aggrieved party may
file a petition for certiorari under Rule 65 of the 1997 Rules
of Civil Procedure. (Emphasis and underscoring supplied)

20 Rule 119, Sec. 9. Remedy where accused is not brought to trial within the time limit. - If the accused is
not brought to trial within the time limit required by Section 1(g), Rule 116 and Section 1, as extended by
Section 6 of this rule, the information may be dism issed on motion of the accused on the ground of denial
of his right of speedy trial. x x x. The dismissal shall be subject to the rules on double jeopardy. Failure of
the accused to move for dismissal prior to trial shall constitute a waiver of the right to dismiss under this
section.
21 Rule 119, Sec. 10. Law on speedy trial not a bar to provision on speedy trial in the Constitution. - No
provision of law on speedy trial and no rule implementing the same shall be interpreted as a bar to any
charge of denial of the right to speedy trial guaranteed by Section 14(2), Article III, of the 1987
Constitution.
22 G.R. No. 135913,4 November 1999.
23 G.R. Nos. 140619-24, 9 March 2001.

24 Tirol, Jr. v. Del Rosario, supra note 22; Kuizon v. Desierto, id.; Nava v, Commission on Audit, G.R. No.
136470, 16 October 2001; Baylon v. Office of the Ombudsman, G.R. No. 142738, 14 December 2001;
Mendoza-Arce v. Office of the Ombudsman (Visayas), G.R. No. 149148,5 April 2002; Enemecio v. Office
of the Ombudsman (Visayas), G.R. No. 146731, 13 January 2004; Perez v. Ombudsman, G.R. No. 131445,
27 May 2004; Estrada v. Desierto, G.R. No. 156160,9 December 2004; Acuha v. Deputy Ombudsmanfor
Luzon, G.R. No. 144692,31 January 2005; Golangco v. Fung, G.R. No. 147640, 12 October 2006; Soriano
v. Cabais, G.R. No. 157175,21 June 2007; Office of the Ombudsman v. Heirs of Margarita Vda. de
Ventura, G.R. No. 151800, 5 November 2009; Duyon v. Court of Appeals, G.R. No. 172218, 26 November
2014; Information Technology Foundation of the Philippines v. Commission on Elections, G.R. No.
159139,6 June 2017; and Gatchalian v. Office of the Ombudsman, G.R. No. 229288, 1 August 20) 8.
25 Id.

It!
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SB-19-CRM-0053 to 0056
People v. Bandila, et al.
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Given this direct remedy, a supposed inordinate delay on the part of


the Office of the Ombudsman, such as the one being alleged by accused
Garcia, is a proper subject of such a petition for certiorari, which determines
whether grave abuse of discretion amounting to lack or excess of jurisdiction
has been committed, since "what the Constitution prohibits [under Section
16 of Article III]26 are unreasonable, arbitrary and oppressive delays which
render rights nugatory.t'F

It bears to stress that accused Garcia is assailing in her motion to


quash the constitutionality of 1) the issuance of the Office of the
Ombudsman's Resolution dated February 7, 2017,28 which found probable
cause against her, among others; and 2) the issuance of its Order dated
November 23, 2017,29 which denied her motion for reconsideration that was
received by the Office of the Ombudsman on September 19,2017,30 both on
the supposed inordinate delay in the conduct of preliminary investigation, in
alleged violation of her constitutional right to a speedy disposition of her
case under Section 16, Article III of the Constitution.

Thus, following the rule that any constitutional issue should be


raised at the earliest opportunity in the pleadings filed before a competent
court that can resolve the same," or that the constitutional issue should be
raised and lodged in the case at the earliest opportunity that orderly
procedure will admit under the circumstances.F accused Garcia should have
invoked her right to a speedy disposition of her case during preliminary
investigation, and, thereafter, pursuant to the established remedy of
certiorari, it is not unreasonable to opine that she should have filed a
petition for certiorari with the Supreme Court within the reglementary
period of sixty (60) days" from notice of the Order dated November 23,
2017, which denied her motion for reconsideration, instead of 1) awaiting
the filing of the Informations on April 22, 2019; and 2) filing the instant
motion to quash the Informations on June 20, 2019, more than a year from
notice of the Order dated November 23,2017.

Neither did she raise, however, the issue of alleged inordinate delay
during preliminary investigation nor she filed an action for certiorari before
the Supreme Court.

26 Art. Ill, Sec. 16. All persons shall have the right to a speedy disposition of their cases before all judicial,
quasi-judicial, or administrative bodies.
27 People v. Sandiganbayan and Gamos, supra note 14, citing The Ombudsman v. Jurado, G.R. No.
154155,6 August 2008.
28 Records, pp. 9-27 (Reviewed by the Deputy Ombudsman for Luzon and Chairman, Special Panel on
Fertilizer Fund Seam, Gerard A. Mosquera, on July 17, 2017, and approved by Ombudsman Conchita
Carpio Morales on July 31, 2017).
29 Id. at 521-525 (Reviewed by Acting Director, PIAB-C, Maricel M. Marcial-Oquendo, and recommended
for approval by Assistant Ombudsman, PAMO I, Aleu A. Amante, on November 23, 2017 and December
5,2017, respectively, and approved by Ombudsman Conchita Carpio Morales on January 8, 2018).
30 Id. at 517-520 (Annexes "E" to "E-3" ofCommentlOpposition dated June 27, 2019).
31 Matibag v. Benipayo, G.R. No. 149036,2 April 2002.

32 Robb v. People, G.R. No. L-45866, 12 June 1939.


33 Rules of Court, Rule 65, Sec. 4.
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SB-19-CRM-0053 to 0056
People v. Bandila, et al.
x-----------------x

It is true that in numerous cases, the Supreme Court has affirmed


certain decisions of the Sandiganbayan dismissing criminal cases on the
ground of inordinate delay on the part of the Office of the Ombudsman. It
appears, however, that the issue of whether such alleged inordinate delay
should have been raised directly before the Supreme Court, pursuant to the
established remedy of certiorari against the resolutions and orders of the
Office of the Ombudsman in criminal actions, or may be raised via a motion
to dismiss in a trial court, particularly the Sandiganbayan, despite the
availability of the aforesaid established remedy of certiorari and the
apparent lack of express support under the Revised Guidelines for
Continuous Trial of Criminal Cases and the Rules of Criminal Procedure,
has not yet been squarely passed upon by the Supreme Court.

Thus, based on all the foregoing reasons, the Court opines that the
motion to quash the Informations may be denied under these circumstances.
In the exercise of its discretion, however, the Court gives due course to
the motion to quash, albeit the same is still denied for lack of merit.

In the recent case of Cagang v. Sandiganbayan (2018),34 the Supreme


Court has abandoned the prior rulings that fact-finding investigations are
included in the period for determination of inordinate delay, and pronounced
that a case is deemed to have commenced from the filing of the formal
complaint and the subsequent conduct of the preliminary investigation:

Considering that fact-finding investigations are not yet adversarial


proceedings against the accused, the period of investigation will not be
counted in the determination of whether the right to speedy disposition of
cases was violated. Thus, this Court now holds that for the purpose of
determining whether inordinate delay exists, a case is deemed to have
commenced from the filing of the formal complaint and the
subsequent conduct of the preliminary investigation. In People v.
Sandiganbayan, Fifth Division, the ruling that fact-finding
investigations are included in the period for determination of
inordinate delay is abandoned.

xxxx

Second, a case is deemed initiated upon the filing of a formal


complaint prior to a conduct of a preliminary investigation. x x x. The
period taken for fact-finding investigations prior to the filing of the
formal complaint shall not be included in the determination of
whether there has been inordinate delay.

xxxx

The ruling in People v. Sandiganbayan, Fifth Division that fact-


finding investigations are included in the period for determination of
inordinate delay is ABANDONED. (Additional emphasis supplied;
italics and capitalization in the original)

34 G.R. Nos. 206438 and 206458,31 July 2018.


Resolution 12
SB-19-CRM-0053 to 0056
People v. Bandila, et al.
x-----------------x

In Cagang, the Supreme Court further enunciated the doctrine that the
right to speedy disposition of cases must be timely raised, or during
preliminary investigation, for the waiver of the right does not necessarily
require that the respondent has already been subjected to the rigors of
criminal prosecution. Otherwise, the failure of the respondent to invoke that
right, despite the presence of inordinate delay, constitutes a valid waiver
thereof:

The right to speedy disposition of cases, however, is invoked by a


respondent to any type of proceeding once delay has already
become prejudicial to the respondent. The invocation of the constitutional
right does not require a threat to the right to liberty. Loss of employment
or compensation may already be considered as sufficient to invoke the
right. Thus, waiver of the right does not necessarily require that the
respondent has already been subjected to the rigors of criminal
prosecution. The failure of the respondent to invoke the right even
when or she has already suffered or will suffer the consequences of
delay constitutes a valid waiver of that right.

xxx x

Fourth, determination of the length of delay is never mechanical.


Courts must consider the entire context of the case, from the amount of
evidence to be weighed to the simplicity or complexity of the issues
raised.

An exception to this rule is if there is an allegation that the


prosecution of the case was solely motivated by malice, such as when the
case is politically motivated or when there is continued prosecution
despite utter lack of evidence. x x x. If malicious prosecution is properly
alleged and substantially proven, the case would automatically be
dismissed without need of further analysis of the delay.

Another exception would be the waiver of the accused to the


right to speedy disposition of cases or the right to speedy trial. If it can
be proven that the accused acquiesced to the delay, the constitutional
right can no longer be invoked.

xxxx

Fifth, the right to speedy disposition of cases or the right to


speedy trial must be timely raised. The respondent or the accused must
file the appropriate motion upon the lapse of the statutory or procedural
periods. Otherwise, they are deemed to have waived their right to
speedy disposition of cases. (Emphasis and underscoring supplied)

Records show that during preliminary investigation, accused Garcia


filed an Answer-Affidavit" dated May 22, 2013, which the Office of the
Ombudsman received on June 4, 2013.36 After notice of the Office of the

35
36
Records, pp. 510-511 (Annexes "C-I" & "C-2" ofCommentlOpposition dated June 27, 2019).
Id. at 509-511 (Accused Garcia's Letter and Answer-Affidavit, both dated May 22, 2013 and stamped
received by the Office of the Deputy Ombudsman foe Luzon on June 4, 2013; Annexes "C" to "C- 2", id.). / 11
Resolution 13
SB-19-CRM-0053 to 0056
People v. Bandila, et al.
x - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - --x

Ombudsman's Resolution dated February 7, 2017 finding probable cause


against her, among others, she filed a Motion for Reconsideration dated
August 31, 2017, which the Office of the Ombudsman received on
September 19, 2017.37 In either of these submissions, she did not invoke the
right to a speedy disposition of her case.

Accused Garcia argues in the motion to quash that she invoked said
right at the outset, via the continuing prayer for the dismissal of the
complaint in paragraph 8 of her answer-affidavit, for, according to her, such
prayer covers all the reliefs available to her, including the right to speedy
disposition of cases. Paragraph 8 of her answer-affidavit reads:

8. That she prays that this criminal case be dismissed."

The argument is specious. Clearly, no weight may be accorded to this


claim, for, otherwise, there would not be an instance where a waiver of the
right to speedy disposition of cases may set in, contrary to Cagang, since
every counter-affidavit necessarily includes a general prayer for the
dismissal of the complaint.

Nor did she raise the issue of alleged inordinate delay in her motion
for reconsideration, while likewise merely avers a general prayer for the
dismissal of the complaint and the reconsideration of the finding of probable
cause.

Thus, granting arguendo that there was inordinate delay on the part of
the Office of the Ombudsman in the conduct of preliminary investigation,
accused Garcia did not raise the right to a speedy disposition of her case in a
timely manner, for she failed to invoke that right during preliminary
investigation, resulting in a valid waiver of said right.

Nonetheless, a review of the timeline reveals that no such inordinate


delay was committed in the first place in the conduct of preliminary
investigation. Records do not indicate the date of filing of the complaint
filed by the Field Investigation Office, Office of the Ombudsman, but it was
docketed as OMB-C-C-13-0068, indicating that it was filed in 2013. As
borne out by the records, the material dates during preliminary investigation
are as follows:

April 15, 2013 The Special Panel on Fertilizer Fund Seam Cases
issued an Order dated April 15, 2013 directing all
the respondents to file their respective counter-
affidavits.l?

37 Id. at 517-520 (Accused Garcia's Letter dated September 4, 2017 and Motion for Reconsideration dated
August 31,2017, both stamped received by the Office of the Ombudsman on September 19,2017; Annexes
"E" to "E-3", id.).
38 Id. at 511 (Answer-Affidavit, p. 2).
39 Id. at 506-507 (Annexes "A" & "A-I" ofCommentlOpposition dated June 27,2019).
Resolution 14
SB-19-CRM-0053 to 0056
People v. Bandila, et at.
x-----------------x

May 3, 2013 The Order dated April 15, 2013 was sent via
registered mail to respondents."
May 23, 2013 The Office of the Deputy Ombudsman for Luzon
received the counter-affidavits of respondents
Osmefia M. Bandila and John Estelito G. Dollosa."

June 4, 2013 The Office of the Deputy Ombudsman for Luzon


received respondent Garcia's Answer-Affidavit
dated May 22,2013.42
June 17,2015 Respondent Datu Andal S. Ampatuan, Sr. received
a copy of the April 15, 2013 Order.43
July 6, 2015 Respondent Ampatuan, Sr. filed a Very Urgent
Motion for Extension of Time to File Counter-
Affidavit. 44

February 7,2017 The date of the Resolution finding probable cause."


July 17,2017 The Deputy Ombudsman for Luzon and Chairman,
Special Panel on Fertilizer Fund Seam signed the
Resolution dated February 7, 2017, after review."

July 31, 2017 The Ombudsman approved the Resolution dated


February 7, 2017.47

September 19,2017 The Office of the Ombudsman received respondent


Garcia's Motion for Reconsideration dated
August 31, 2017. 48

November 23, 2017 The date of the Order denying respondent


Garcia's motion for reconsideration, and the date
of review by the Acting Director, PIAB-C.49
December 5, 2017 The Assistant Ombudsman, PAMO I, recommended
for approval the Order dated November 23,2017.50
January 8, 2018 The Ombudsman approved the Order dated
November 23,2017.51
January 12,2018 The Office of the Ombudsman received respondent
Carlos P. Mendoza's motion to dismiss and
motion for reconsideration. 52

February 15,2018 The date of the Order partially granting respondent


Mendoza's motion for reconsideration. 53

40 Id at 508 (Annex "8", id).


41 Id at 455 (Annex "C" of Comment/Opposition dated June 4, 2019).
42 Id at 510-511 (Annexes "C-I" & "C-2" of Comment/Opposition dated June 27, 2019).
43 Id. at 457-458 (Annexes "E" & "E-I" of Comment/Opposition dated June 4, 2019).
44 Id at 459 (Annexes "F", id).
45 Id. at 515 (Annex "D-3" of Comment/Opposition dated June 27, 2019).
46 Id
47 Id

48 Id at 518-520 (Annexes "E-1 " to "E-3", id).


49 Id at 524 (Annex "F-3", id).
50 Id
51 Id

52 Id at 467 (Annex "J" of Comment/Opposition dated June 4, 2019).


53 Id at 471 (Annex "K-3", id.).
Resolution 15
SB-19-CRM-0053 to 0056
People v. Bandila, et at.
x-----------------x
February 26, 2018 The Ombudsman approved the Order dated
February 15,2018.54

April 19, 2018 The Office of the Ombudsman received respondent


Mendoza's second motion for reeonsideration.P

May 3, 2018 The date of the Order denying respondent


Mendoza's second motion for reconsideration, and
signed by Acting Director, PIAB-C, on May 22,
2018, after review, and recommended for approval
by the Assistant Ombudsman on May 25, 2018.56

June 1, 2018 The Ombudsman approved the Order dated May 3,


2018.57

March 23, 2018 Then Ombudsman Morales approved the four (4)
Informations.

January 29, 2019 Ombudsman Martires approved the four (4)


Informations.

April 22, 2019 The four (4) Informations were filed before the
Sandiganbayan.

Apart from accused Garcia, there were nine (9) other respondents in
OMB-C-C-13-0068 for alleged violation of Section 3(e) of Republic Act No.
301958 and Malversation of Public Funds, viz.: 1) Datu Andal S. Ampatuan,
Sr.; 2) Osmefia M. Bandila; 3) John Estelito G. Dollosa, Jr.; 4) Keise T.
Usman; 5) Roger C. Chio; 6) Alma B. Mahinay; 7) Carlos P. Mendoza; 8)
Rita R. Retino; and 9) Corazon M. Ebero.59

Based on the above timeline, the Order dated April 15,2013 directing
all the respondents to submit their respective counter-affidavits was sent to
each of them on May 3, 2013, via registered mail. While some of them
immediately filed their respective counter-affidavits on May 23, 2013 and
June 4, 2013, it clearly appears that the Special Panel on Fertilizer Fund
Seam, which was conducting the preliminary investigation, had difficulty in
effecting the service of said order on respondent Ampatuan, Sr., who was the
primary respondent in OMB-C-C-13-0068.

54 Id.
55 Id. at 472 -473(Annexes "L" & "L-l", id.).
56 Id. at 476-477 (Annexes "M-2" & "M-3", id.).
57 Id. at 477 (Annex "M-3", id.).

58 Anti-Graft and Corrupt Practices Act. Section 3(e) ofR.A. No. 3019 provides that:
Section 3. Corrupt practices of public officers. 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 to be unlawful:
xxxx
(e) Causing any undue. injury to any party, including the Government, or giving any private party
any unwarranted benefits, advantage or preference in the discharge of his official, administrative or judicial
functions through manifest partiality, evident bad faith or gross inexcusable negligence. This provision
shall apply to officers and employees of offices or government corporations charged with the grant of
licenses or permits or other concessions.
" Records, pp. 47-60 (FIO Complaint).
j
It;
Resolution 16
SB-19-CRM-0053 to 0056
People v. Bandila, et at.
x-----------------x

Records show that on June 17, 2015, the service of said order was
finally effected on respondent Ampatuan, Sr., via personal service, in the
National Kidney Training Institute at East Avenue, Quezon City, Metro
Manila, with the assistance of a member of the Bureau of Jail Management
and Penology, as he was apparently under custody at the time." On July 6,
2015, respondent Ampatuan, Sr. filed a Very Urgent Motion for Extension of
Time to file Counter-Affidavit." In the assailed Resolution dated February 7,
2017, it stated that "respondent Ampatuan passed away on 17 July 2015,"62
as can be verified by news reports/"

From this date until the issuance of the assailed Resolution dated
February 7, 2017, and its review by the Deputy Ombudsman for Luzon and
Chairman, Special Panel on Fertilizer Fund Seam, Gerard A. Mosquera, on
July 17,2017, and approval by then Ombudsman Morales on July 31, 2017,
only two (2) years had elapsed. Thereafter, on September 19, 2017, the
Office of the Ombudsman received accused Garcia's motion for
reconsideration, which was immediately acted upon via Order dated
November 23, 2017, reviewed and recommended for approval by the Acting
Director and Assistant Ombudsman on even date and on December 5, 2017,
respectively, and approved by Ombudsman Morales on January 8, 2018.

It bears to stress that the preliminary investigation conducted was not


only against accused Garcia, but against all the respondents in OMB-C-C-
13-0068.

The incidents in OMB-C-C-13-0068 did not stop at then respondent


Garcia's motion for reconsideration, for records show, as shown in the
foregoing timeline, that another respondent therein, Mendoza, only filed his
motion for reconsideration on January 12, 2018, which was nonetheless
promptly acted upon via Order dated February 15, 2018, approved by
Ombudsman Morales on February 26, 2018. Respondent Mendoza then
filed a second motion for reconsideration on April 19, 2018, which was
likewise immediately resolved via Order dated May 3, 2018, reviewed and
recommended for approval by the Acting Director and Assistant
Ombudsman on May 22 and 25, 2018, respectively, and approved by
Ombudsman Morales on June 1,2018.

As reiterated in Cagang, the determination of the length of delay is


never mechanical, as the entire context of the case must be considered:

60 Id at 457-458 (Annexes "E" & "E-I" ofCommentJOpposition dated June 4,2019; Affidavit of Service
dated June 17,2015 by jail officer Juliva A. Tuguinay, BJMP, and a document dated June 17,2015 signed
by respondent Ampatuan, Sr. acknowledging receipt of the order to file counter-affidavit and the complaint
and annexes thereto).
6\ Id. at 459 (Annex "F", id.).

62 Id. at 16 (Resolution dated February 7, 2017, p. 8).

63 Andal Ampatuan Sr. is dead, 12:00 AM July 18, 2015, INQUIRER.net <https://newsinfo.
inquirer.netJ705934/andal-ampatuan-sr-is-dead>; Maguindanao massacre suspect Ampatuan Sr dead,
12:33 AM July 18, 2015, Rappler.com <https://www.rapPler.COmlnatjOn/99713_magUindanao-massacre_~
suspect -andal-ampatuan -sr-dead>. .

V
Resolution 17
SB-19-CRM-0053 to 0056
People v. Bandila, et al.
x-----------------x

Fourth, determination of the length of delay is never


mechanical. Courts must consider the entire context of the case, from the
amount of evidence to be weighed to the simplicity or complexity of the
issues raised.

An exception to this rule is if there is an allegation that the


prosecution of the case was solely motivated by malice, such as when the
case is politically motivated or when there is continued prosecution
despite utter lack of evidence. Malicious intent may be gauged from the
behavior of the prosecution throughout the proceedings. If malicious
prosecution is properly alleged and substantially proven, the case would
automatically be dismissed without need of further analysis of the delay.
(Emphasis supplied)

From the above timeline, the period taken during preliminary


investigation, excluding the period for effecting the service of the order to
file counter-affidavit on respondents, actually lasted for only two (2) years
until the approval of the assailed Resolution finding probable cause against
accused Garcia, among others. No allegation, much less any proof, has been
presented in these cases that the prosecution thereof was motivated by
malice. Prior to the so-called "PDAF64 Seam" involving the alleged misuse
and malversation of the lump-sum discretionary fund, popularly known as
"pork barrel," granted to members of Congress, the P728 million Fertilizer
Fund Seam, which included the complaint in Ol\1B-C-C-13-0068, was the
major public scandal that rocked the nation in 2004.65 It cannot be said,
therefore, that there was malicious intent in subjecting accused Garcia and
other respondents to a preliminary investigation of a complaint alleging such
seam,

The Court holds that this two-year period is not an unreasonable,


arbitrary and oppressive delay which renders rights nugatory. Given the
magnitude of the Fertilizer Fund Seam, as well as the numerous respondents
in all its purported transactions all over the country, the Special Panel on
Fertilizer Fund Seam is expected to incur reasonable delays in the conduct of
preliminary investigation in all the complaints pertaining to said seam, as in
the two-year period in this instance.

The pronouncement in Cagang on institutional delay is instructive:

The reality is that institutional delay [is] a reality that the court
must address. The prosecution is staffed by overworked and underpaid
government lawyers with mounting caseloads. x x x.

Institutional delay, in the proper context, should not be taken


against the State. Most cases handled by the Office of the Ombudsman
involve individuals who have the resources and who engage private
counsel with the means and resources to fully dedicate themselves to their

64Priority Development Assistance Fund.


65 WHAT WENT BEFORE: Fertilizer fund seam, December
/85 3086/what -went-before- fertilizer- fund-seam- 2>.
Resolution 18
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People v. Bandila, et al.
x-----------------x

client's case. More often than not, the accused only invoke the right to
speedy disposition of cases when the Ombudsman has already rendered an
unfavorable decision. The prosecution should not be prejudiced by private
counsels' failure to protect the interests of their clients or the accused's
lack of interest in the prosecution of their case.

In resolving then respondent Garcia's motion for reconsideration, the


above timeline indeed shows that it had been promptly acted upon by the
Office of the Ombudsman.

Insofar as the Informations here are concerned, then Ombudsman


Morales approved the same as early as March 23, 20t8, or after her
approval of the Order dated February 15, 2018 on February 26, 2018, which
partially granted then respondent Mendoza's first motion for reconsideration
filed on January 12, 2018. It appears that the Informations had not been
readily filed before the Sandiganbayan because respondent Mendoza filed a
second motion for reconsideration on April 19, 2018, for which another
Order dated May 3, 2018 denying the same had to be issued. After the Order
dated May 3, 2018 was reviewed and recommended for approval by the
Acting Director and Assistant Ombudsman on May 22 and 25, 2018,
respectively, then Ombudsman Morales approved the same on June 1,2018
without delay.

A cursory examination of the four (4) Informations shows that apart


from the approval thereof by former Ombudsman Morales on March 23,
2018, all Informations likewise bear the signature of Ombudsman Martires
on January 29, 2019, obviously after conducting anew a review of the
records of OMB-C-C-13-0068, expressing his approval for the filing of the
Informations. Thus, the transition of leadership in the Office of the
Ombudsman at the time had apparently affected the filing of the
Informations before the Sandiganbayan, as then Supreme Court Associate
Justice Martires was appointed as the new Ombudsman on July 26, 2018.66

Under these circumstances, there was clearly no unreasonable and


arbitrary amount of delay in the filing of the Informations.

The Court sympathizes with accused Garcia if indeed she is in a


difficult position to bear the burden, inconvenience and expenses of
litigation, but the State is as much entitled to due process as the accused, as
affirmed in Cagang:

The State is as much entitled to due process as the accused.


In People v. Leviste:

[I]t must be emphasized that the state, like any other


litigant, is entitled to its day in court, and to a reasonable

66 Duterte appoints Samuel Martires as Ombudsman, July 26, 2018, Rappler.com


rappler.comlnation/208006-duterte-appoints-samuel-martires-new-ombudsman>.
Resolution 19
SB-19-CRM-0053 to 0056
People v. Bandila, et al.
x-----------------x

opportunity to present its case. A hasty dismissal such as


the one in question, instead of unclogging dockets, has
actually increased the workload of the justice system as a
whole and caused uncalled-for delays in the final resolution
of this and other cases. Unwittingly, the precipitate action
of the respondent court, instead of easing the burden of the
accused, merely prolonged the litigation and ironically
enough, unnecessarily delayed the case in the process,
causing the very evil it apparently sought to avoid. Such
action does not inspire public confidence in the
administration of justice.

In sum, the Court finds that there is no violation of accused Garcia's


right to a speedy disposition of her case under Section 16, Article III of the
Constitution.

WHEREFORE, the Motion to Quash the Informations dated June 19,


2019 of accused Mariflor S. Garcia is DENIED for lack of merit. The
arraignment of said accused shall proceed on July 26, 2019, at 8:30 o'clock
in the morning, as rescheduled.

SO ORDERED.

MARYANNE. 0 US-MAN-ALAC
Asso iate Justice

WE CONCUR:

A-ARCEGA

GEORGINA I. HIDALGO
Associa Justice