Case Brief: Ramiscal vs. Sandiganbayan

G.R. Nos. 140576-99. December 13, 2004
JOSE S. RAMISCAL, JR., petitioner,
vs.
HONORABLE SANDIGANBAYAN (Fourth Division), ALBANO & ASSOCIATES and the ASSOCIATION OF GENERALS & FLAG OFFICERS, INC., respondents.

Facts:
Jose S. Ramiscal Jr., Julian Alzaga, Manuel Satuito, Elizabeth Liang and Jesus Garcia were charged with Malversation through Falsification of Public Documents before the Sandiganbayan. The Information alleged that Ramiscal, et. al. misappropriated and converted the amount of P250,318,200.00 for their personal use from the funds of AFP-RSBS.
Ramiscal filed with the Sandiganbayan an “Urgent Motion to Declare Nullity of Information and to Defer Issuance of Warrant of Arrest.” He argued, that the Sandiganbayan had no jurisdiction over the case because the AFP-RSBS is a private entity. The said Urgent Motion was later adopted by Alzaga and Satuito. The Urgent Motion was denied by the Sandiganbayan. Ramiscal, et. al. filed a Motion for Reconsideration. In a Resolution issued, the Sandiganbayan sustained Ramiscal, et. al.’s contention that the AFP-RSBS is a private entity. Hence, it reconsidered its earlier Resolution and ordered the dismissal of their criminal case. Upon denial of its Motion for Reconsideration, the prosecution filed the present special civil action for certiorari with the Supreme Court.

Issue:
Whether or not the AFP-RSBS is not a government entity.

Held:
No, the AFP-RSBS is a government entity. It was created by Presidential Decree 361. Its purpose and functions are akin to those of the GSIS and the SSS, as in fact it is the system that manages the retirement and pension funds of those in the military service. Members of the Armed Forces of the Philippines and the Philippine National Police are expressly excluded from the coverage of The GSIS Act of 1997. Therefore, soldiers and military personnel, who are incidentally employees of the Government, rely on the administration of the AFP-RSBS for their retirement, pension and separation benefits. Its enabling law further mandates that the System shall be administered by the Chief of Staff of the Armed Forces of the Philippines through an agency, group, committee or board, which may be created and organized by him and subject to such rules and regulations governing the same as he may, subject to the approval of the Secretary of National Defense, promulgate from time to time. Moreover, the investment of funds of the System shall be decided by the Chief of Staff of the Armed Forces of the Philippines with the approval of the Secretary of National Defense. The funds of the AFP-RSBS, except for the initial seed money, come entirely from contributions and that no part thereof come from appropriations. While it may be true that there have been no appropriations for the contribution of funds to the AFP-RSBS, the Government is not precluded from later on adding to the funds in order to provide additional benefits to them. The above considerations indicate that the character and operations of the AFP-RSBS are imbued with public interest. As such, we hold that the same is a government entity and its funds are in the nature of public funds.

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