Case Brief: Agullo vs. Sandiganbayan

G.R. No. 132926       July 20, 2001

ELVIRA AGULLO, petitioner,
vs.
SANDIGANBAYAN and PEOPLE OF THE PHILIPPINES, respondents.

 

FACTS:

On September 30,1988 Elvira was Charge of malversation germinated from an audit conducted on 14 July 1986 by Ignacio Gerez, Auditing Examiner III, as a result of which a P26,404.26 cash shortage was discovered on petitioner’s accountability. In the course of the pre-trial, petitioner Agullo conceded the fact of audit and admitted the findings in the Report of Cash Examination and the facts set forth in the Letter of Demand. In effect, she admitted the fact of shortage in the amount stated in the Information. Notwithstanding, petitioner  Agullo, at all stages of the criminal indictment, persistently professed her innocence of the charge and categorically denied having malversed or converted the public funds in question for her own personal use or benefit. With petitioner’s admission of the fact of cash shortage, the prosecution then rested its case For its part, the defense, in its bid to overturn the presumption of malversation and shatter the prima facie evidenceof conversion, offered the testimony of the following witnesses: petitioner Elvira Agullo; Rene Briones Austero, Cashier III of the Department of Public Works and Highways (DPWH), Region VIII; and Engracia Camposano-Camaoy, Barangay Captain of Hinabuyan, Dagame, Leyte. Striking down the defense as “incredible and without basis,” the Sandiganbayan rendered its assailed decision, convicting petitioner  Agullo of the crime of malversation of public funds, ratiocinating principally that “no evidence has been presented linking the loss of the government funds with the alleged sudden heart attack of the accused (herein petitioner).”

 

ISSUE:

Whether or not the Sandiganbayan disregarded or overlooked certain evidence of substance for the crime of malversation.

 

HELD:

The Supreme Court ruled that the Sandiganbayan undoubtedly disregarded or overlooked certain evidence of substance which, to a large extent, bear considerable weight in the adjudication of petitioner’s guilt or the affirmation of her constitutional right to be presumed innocent until proven otherwise. Upon thorough scrutiny of the evidence adduced by both prosecution and defense, we hold that petitioner Agullo has satisfactorily overcome and rebutted by competent proof, the prima facie evidence of conversion so as to exonerate her from the charge of malversation. To this end, petitioner presented evidence that satisfactorily prove that not a single centavo of the missing funds was used for her own personal benefit or gain. Notably, the Sandiganbayan, in convicting petitioner, obviously relied more on the flaws and deficiencies in the evidence presented by the defense, not on the strength and merit of the prosecution’s evidence This course of action is impermissible for the evidence of the prosecution clearly cannot sustain a conviction “in an unprejudiced mind. “The constitutional presumption of innocence is not an empty platitude meant only to embellish the Bill of Rights. Its purpose is to balance the scales in what would otherwise be an uneven contest between the lone individual pitted against the People of the Philippines and all the resources at their command. Its inexorable mandate is that, for all the authority and influence of the prosecution, the accused must be acquitted and set free if his guilt cannot be proved beyond the whisper of doubt.”

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Case Brief: Laguna Lake Development Authority v CA

G.R. Nos. 120865-71   December 7, 1995

LAGUNA LAKE DEVELOPMENT AUTHORITY, petitioner,
vs.
COURT OF APPEALS; HON. JUDGE HERCULANO TECH, PRESIDING JUDGE, BRANCH 70, REGIONAL TRIAL COURT OF BINANGONAN RIZAL; FLEET DEVELOPMENT, INC. and CARLITO ARROYO; THE MUNICIPALITY OF BINANGONAN and/or MAYOR ISIDRO B. PACIS, respondents.

LAGUNA LAKE DEVELOPMENT AUTHORITY, petitioner,
vs.
COURT OF APPEALS; HON. JUDGE AURELIO C. TRAMPE, PRESIDING JUDGE, BRANCH 163, REGIONAL TRIAL COURT OF PASIG; MANILA MARINE LIFE BUSINESS RESOURCES, INC. represented by, MR. TOBIAS REYNALD M. TIANGCO; MUNICIPALITY OF TAGUIG, METRO MANILA and/or MAYOR RICARDO D. PAPA, JR., respondents.

LAGUNA LAKE DEVELOPMENT AUTHORITY, petitioner,
vs.
COURT OF APPEALS; HON. JUDGE ALEJANDRO A. MARQUEZ, PRESIDING JUDGE, BRANCH 79, REGIONAL TRIAL COURT OF MORONG, RIZAL; GREENFIELD VENTURES INDUSTRIAL DEVELOPMENT CORPORATION and R. J. ORION DEVELOPMENT CORPORATION; MUNICIPALITY OF JALA-JALA and/or MAYOR WALFREDO M. DE LA VEGA, respondents.

LAGUNA LAKE DEVELOPMENT AUTHORITY, petitioner,
vs.
COURT OF APPEALS; HON. JUDGE MANUEL S. PADOLINA, PRESIDING JUDGE, BRANCH 162, REGIONAL TRIAL COURT OF PASIG, METRO MANILA; IRMA FISHING & TRADING CORP.; ARTM FISHING CORP.; BDR CORPORATION, MIRT CORPORATION and TRIM CORPORATION; MUNICIPALITY OF BINANGONAN and/or MAYOR ISIDRO B. PACIS, respondents.

LAGUNA LAKE DEVELOPMENT AUTHORITY, petitioner,
vs.
COURT OF APPEALS; HON. JUDGE ARTURO A. MARAVE, PRESIDING JUDGE, BRANCH 78, REGIONAL TRIAL COURT OF MORONG, RIZAL; BLUE LAGOON FISHING CORP. and ALCRIS CHICKEN GROWERS, INC.; MUNICIPALITY OF JALA-JALA and/or MAYOR WALFREDO M. DE LA VEGA, respondents.

LAGUNA LAKE DEVELOPMENT AUTHORITY, petitioner,
vs.
COURT OF APPEALS; HON. JUDGE ARTURO A. MARAVE, PRESIDING JUDGE, BRANCH 78, REGIONAL TRIAL COURT OF MORONG, RIZAL; AGP FISH VENTURES, INC., represented by its PRESIDENT ALFONSO PUYAT; MUNICIPALITY OF JALA-JALA and/or MAYOR WALFREDO M. DE LA VEGA, respondents.

LAGUNA LAKE DEVELOPMENT AUTHORITY, petitioner,
vs.
COURT OF APPEALS; HON. JUDGE EUGENIO S. LABITORIA, PRESIDING JUDGE, BRANCH 161, REGIONAL TRIAL COURT OF PASIG, METRO MANILA; SEA MAR TRADING CO. INC.; EASTERN LAGOON FISHING CORP.; MINAMAR FISHING CORP.; MUNICIPALITY OF BINANGONAN and/or MAYOR ISIDRO B. PACIS, respondents.

Facts:

The Laguna Lake Development Authority (LLDA) was created through RA No. 4850 in order to execute the policy towards environmental protection and sustainable development so as to accelerate the development and balanced growth of the Laguna Lake area and the surrounding provinces and towns.

Upon implementation of RA 7160 (Local Government Code of 1991), the municipalities assumed exclusive jurisdiction & authority to issue fishing privileges within their municipal waters since Sec.149 thereof provides: “Municipal corporations shall have the authority to grant fishery privileges in the municipal waters and impose rental fees or charges therefore…” Big fishpen operators took advantage of the occasion to establish fishpens & fish cages to the consternation of the LLDA.

The implementation of separate independent policies in fish cages & fish pen operation and the indiscriminate grant of fishpen permits by the lakeshore municipalities have saturated the lake with fishpens, thereby aggravating the current environmental problems and ecological stress of Laguna Lake.

The LLDA then served notice to the general public that:

(1) fishpens, cages & other aqua-culture structures unregistered with the LLDA as of March 31, 1993 are declared illegal;

(2) those declared illegal shall be subject to demolition by the Presidential Task Force for Illegal Fishpen and Illegal Fishing; and

(3) owners of those declared illegal shall be criminally charged with violation of Sec.39-A of RA 4850 as amended by PD 813.

A month later, the LLDA sent notices advising the owners of the illegally constructed fishpens, fishcages and other aqua-culture structures advising them to dismantle their respective structures otherwise demolition shall be effected.

 

Issue

Which agency of the Government — the Laguna Lake Development Authority or the towns and municipalities comprising the region — should exercise jurisdiction over the Laguna Lake and its environs insofar as the issuance of permits for fishery privileges is concerned?

 

Held

LLDA has jurisdiction over such matters because the charter of the LLDA prevails over the Local Government Code of 1991.

The said charter constitutes a special law, while the latter is a general law.

The Local Government Code of 1991, has not repealed the provisions of the charter of the Laguna Lake Development Authority, Republic Act No. 4850, as amended.

Thus, the Authority has the exclusive jurisdiction to issue permits for the enjoyment of fishery privileges in Laguna de Bay to the exclusion of municipalities situated therein and the authority to exercise such powers as are by its charter vested on it.

In addition, the charter of the LLDA embodies a valid exercise of police power for the purpose of protecting and developing the Laguna Lake region, as opposed to the Local Government Code, which grants powers to municipalities to issue fishing permits for revenue purposes.

Thus, it has to be concluded that the charter of the LLDA should prevail over the Local Government Code of 1991 on matters affecting Laguna de Bay.

 

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Case Brief: St. Luke’s Medical Center Employee’s Foundation AFW v NLRC

G.R. No. 162053 March 7, 2007

ST. LUKE’S MEDICAL CENTER EMPLOYEE’S FOUNDATION AFW

v.

NLRC

Facts:

Congress passed and enacted Republic Act No. 7431 known as the “Radiologic Technology Act of 1992.” Said law requires that no person shall practice or offer to practice as a radiology and/or x-ray technologist in the Philippines without having obtained the proper certificate of registration from the Board of Radiologic Technology. Petitioner Maribel Santos was hired as X-Ray Technician in the Radiology department of private respondent St. Luke’s Medical Center, Inc. (SLMC).

Pursuant to RA 7431 the assistant Executive Director-Ancillary Services and HR Director of private respondent SLMC issued a final notice to all practitioners of Radiologic Technology to comply with the requirement otherwise, the unlicensed employee will be transferred to an area which does not require a license to practice if a slot is available.

The Director of the Institute of Radiology issued another memorandum to petitioner Maribel S. Santos advising her that only a license can assure her of her continued employment at the Institute of Radiology of the private respondent SLMC and that the latter is giving her the last chance to take and pass the forthcoming board examination scheduled in June 1998; otherwise, private respondent SLMC shall be constrained to take action which may include her separation from employment.  On November 23, 1998, the Director of the Institute of Radiology issued a notice to petitioner Maribel S. Santos informing the latter that the management of private respondent SLMC has approved her retirement in lieu of separation pay. SLMC issued a “Notice of Separation from the Company” to petitioner Maribel S. Santos effective December 30, 1998 in view of the latter’s refusal to accept private respondent SLMC’s offer for early retirement.

Petitioner Maribel Santos files a complaint against private respondent illegal dismissal and non-payment of salaries, allowances and other monetary benefits. She
further contends that her failure to pass the board licensure exam for exam for X-ray
technicians did not constitute just cause for termination as it violated her
constitutional right to security of tenure. The appellate court finds this contention
untenable, hence this petition for certiorari.

Issue:

Whether or not the petitioner is legally dismissed pursuant to R.A. 7431
exercising police power of the State?

Held:

Yes, the petitioner dismissal is valid due to her inability to secure a certificate
of registration from Board of Radiologic Technology.

While the right of workers to security of tenure is guaranteed by the Constitution, its exercise may be reasonably regulated pursuant to the police power of the State to safeguard health, morals, peace, education, order, safety, and the general welfare of the people. Consequently, persons who desire to engage in the learned professions requiring scientific or technical knowledge may be required to take an examination as a prerequisite to engaging in their chosen careers. The state is justified in prescribing the specific requirements for x-ray technicians and/or any other professions connected with the health and safety of its citizens. Respondent being engaged in the hospital and health care business, is a proper subject of the cited law; thus, having in mind the legal requirements of these laws, the latter cannot close its eyes and complainant private interest override public interest. The law is clear that the Certificate of Registration cannot be substituted by any other requirement to allow a person to practice as a Radiologic Technologist and/or X-ray Technologist (Technician

Case Brief: Enrile v Sandiganbayan and People

G.R. No. 213847,     Aug. 18, 2015

Juan Ponce Enrile

vs.

Sandiganbayan ( 3rd division ) and People of the Philippines

 

Facts:

Year 2014, Sen. Enrile was charged with plunder before the Sandiganbayan for their alleged involvement in the diversion and misuse of appropriation under the PDAF. When his warrant was issued, Sen. Enrile voluntarily surrendered to the CIDG and was later confined and detained at the PNP General Hospital, he then filed a motion to fix bail where he argued that:

  1. He should be allowed to post bail as a matter of right;
  2. Although charged with plunder his penalty would only be reclusion temporal considering that there are two mitigating circumstances, his voluntary surrender and that he is already at the age of 90;
  3. That he is not a flight risk and his medical condition must be seriously considered.

The Sandiganbayan however, denied his motion on the grounds that:

  1. He is charged with a capital offense;
  2. That it is premature for the Court to fix the amount of his bail because the prosecution have not yet presented its evidences.

Sen. Enrile then filed a certiorari before the Supreme Court.

Issue:  

Whether or not the Sandiganbayan acted with grave abuse of discretion amounting to lack or excess of jurisdiction for denying his motion to fix bail?

Ruling:

Yes, the Supreme Court held that the Sandiganbayan arbitrarily ignored the objective of bail and unwarrantedly disregarded Sen. Enrile’s fragile health and advanced age. Bail is a matter right and is safeguarded by the constitution, its purpose is to ensure the personal appearance of the accused during trial or whenever the court requires and at the same time recognizing the guarantee of due process which is the presumption of his innocence until proven guilty. The Supreme Court further explained that Bail for the provisional liberty of the accused, regardless of the crime charged should be allowed independently of the merits charged, provided his continued incarceration is injurious to his health and endanger his life. Hence, the Sandiganbayan failed to observe that if Sen. Enrile be granted the right to bail it will enable him to have his medical condition be properly addressed and attended, which will then enable him to attend trial therefore achieving the true purpose of bail.

Case Brief: Hipos v Bay

G.R. Nos. 174813-15     581 SCRA 320

Hipos

vs

Bay

Facts:  

Two Informations for the crime of rape and one Information for the crime of acts of lasciviousness were filed against petitioners Darryl Hipos et al., before Branch 86 of the Regional Trial Court of Quezon City. Petitioners filed their Joint Memorandum to Dismiss the Case[s] before the City Prosecutor. They claimed that there was no probable cause to hold them liable for the crimes charged. The Office of the City Prosecutor issued a Resolution on the reinvestigation affirming the Informations.

2nd Assistant City Prosecutor Lamberto C. de Vera, treating the Joint Memorandum to Dismiss the Case as an appeal of the 10 August 2004 Resolution, reversed the Resolution dated 10 August 2004, holding that there was lack of probable cause. On the same date, the City Prosecutor filed a Motion to Withdraw Informations before Judge Bay. Judge Bay denied the Motion to Withdraw Informations in an Order of even date.

Issue:

Can the Supreme Court compel respondent judge bay to dismiss the case through a writ of mandamus.

Held:

The rule is settled that once a criminal complaint or information is filed in court, any disposition thereof, such as its dismissal or the conviction or acquittal of the accused, rests in the sound discretion of the court. While the prosecutor retains the discretion and control of the prosecution of the case, he cannot impose his opinion on the court. The court is the best and sole judge on what to do with the case. Accordingly, a motion to dismiss the case filed by the prosecutor before or after the arraignment, or after a reinvestigation, or upon instructions of the Secretary of Justice who reviewed the records upon reinvestigation, should be addressed to the discretion of the court. The action of the court must not, however, impair the substantial rights of the accused or the right of the People to due process of law.

Case Brief: Cabador v People

G.R. No. 186001     October 2, 2009

ANTONIO CABADOR, 

vs.

PEOPLE OF THE PHILIPPINES

 

FACTS:

On June 23, 2000 the public prosecutor accused petitioner Antonio Cabador before the RTC of Quezon City of murder. On February 13, 2006, after presenting only five witnesses over five years of intermittent trial, the RTC required the prosecution to make a written or formal offer of its documentary evidence within 15 days from notice. But the public prosecutor asked for three extensions of time. Still, the prosecution did not make the required written offer.

On August 1, 2006 petitioner Cabador filed a motion to dismiss the case, complaining of a turtle-paced proceeding in the case since his arrest and detention in 2001 and invoking his right to a speedy trial. Further, he claimed that in the circumstances, the trial court could not consider any evidence against him that had not been formally offered. He also pointed out that the prosecution witnesses did not have knowledge of his alleged part in the crime charged.

On August 31, 2006, the RTC issued an Order treating petitioner Cabador’s motion to dismiss as a demurrer to evidence. And, since he filed his motion without leave of court, the RTC declared him to have waived his right to present evidence in his defense. The trial court deemed the case submitted for decision. Cabador questioned the RTCs actions before the CA. The latter denied his petition and affirmed the lower courts actions. Petitioner seek the help of Supreme Court via a petition for review on certiorari.

ISSUE:

Whether or not petitioner Cabadors motion to dismiss before the trial court was in fact a demurrer to evidence.

RULING

Supreme Court finds that petitioner Cabador filed a motion to dismiss on the ground of violation of his right to speedy trial, not a demurrer to evidence. In criminal cases, a motion to dismiss may be filed on the ground of denial of the accused’s right to speedy trial. This denial is characterized by unreasonable, vexatious, and oppressive delays without fault of the accused, or by unjustified postponements that unreasonably prolonged the trial.

It can be said that petitioner Cabador took pains to point out how trial in the case had painfully dragged on for years. The gaps between proceedings were long, with hearings often postponed because of the prosecutors absence. This was further compounded, Cabador said, by the prosecutions repeated motions for extension of time to file its formal offer and its failure to file it within such time. Cabador then invoked his right to speedy trial. But the RTC and the CA simply chose to ignore these extensive averments and altogether treated Cabadors motion as a demurrer to evidence.

The fact is that Cabador did not even bother to do what is so fundamental in any demurrer and the prosecution was not yet deemed to have rested its case on that date. He did not state what evidence the prosecution had presented against him to show in what respects such evidence failed to meet the elements of the crime charged. His so-called demurrer did not touch on any particular testimony of even one witness. He cited no documentary exhibit. Thus, the petitioner’s motion to dismiss cannot be treated as a demurrer to evidence.

Essay: My take on the constitutionality of Bangsamoro Basic Bill

Bangsamoro Basic Bill is unconstitutional. While the 1987 Constitution provides for the creation of autonomous regions in Muslim Mindanao, such region should still be considered as a territorial and political subdivision of the Philippines and that the President of the Philippines should still exercise general supervision over it. Several provisions of Bangsamoro Basic Bill clearly violates it in such a way that framers of the bill are aiming to give the Bangsamoro Government powers which are not normally given to a mere autonomous region, particularly sovereignty.

Sec. 1, Art. X of the Constitution states that “the territorial and political subdivisions of the Republic of the Philippines are the provinces, cities, municipalities, and barangays. There shall be autonomous regions in Muslim Mindanao and the Cordilleras as hereinafter provided.” This is highly reflective of the idea that the Philippines should consider these autonomous regions as included among its territory. Sec. 16, Art. X of the Constitution states “The President shall exercise general supervision over autonomous regions to ensure that laws are faithfully executed.” Sec. 18, Art. X of the Constitution also provides “The Congress shall enact an organic act for each autonomous region. xxx The organic act shall define the basic structure of government for the region consisting of the executive department and legislative assembly, both of which shall be elective and representative of the constituent political units.”

House Bill No. 4994, also known as the Bangsamoro Basic Law, in its full title “An Act Providing for the Basic Law for the Bangsamoro and Abolishing the Autonomous Region of Muslim Mindanao”, which also repeals RA 9054 and RA 6735, which were organic acts for the creation of such autonomous region, is currently being deliberated in the Congress. For the purposes of discussion, the author selected the following provisions from the bill:

Sec. 1, Art IV of the bill states, “In its exercise of its right to self-governance and self-determination, the Bangsamoro is free to pursue its economic, social and cultural development.” Sec. 2., Art IV of the bill provides “The Bangsamoro Government shall be parliamentary. Its political system is democratic, allowing its people to freely participate in the political processes within its territory.”

The bill title and the two provisions above are clearly indicative that the framers of the bill intend to give Bangsamoro Government great authority, deviating and different from that which is given to a mere autonomous region. In the past, these autonomous regions, while given independence, are still generally governed by the Central Government, and are still subject to its limitations. However, these two provisions in the bill can be construed that the Bangsamoro is aiming to become a small state, having the essential elements of a normal State, including a sovereignty which cannot be touched or encroached upon by the central government. There has never been any indication in the Constitution, especially in Article X, regarding the creation of smaller states.

Furthermore, Sec. 1, Art. VI of the bill provides “The relationship between the Central Government and the Bangsamoro Government shall be asymmetric. xxx This makes it distinct from other regions and other local governments.” Sec. 4, Art. VI of the bill states “The Central Government and the Bangsamoro Government shall be guided by the principles of parity of esteem and accepted norms of good governance. The Central Government shall respect the exercise of competencies and exclusive powers of the Bangsamoro Government. The Bangsamoro Government shall respect the exercise of the competencies and reserve powers of the Central Government.”

While vague, it can be interpreted as violative of the constitutional mandate that autonomous regions should still be under the Central Government, and as such, must still comply with its laws. While the Central Government respects autonomy, it is the locality which must adjust and conform to the existing laws of the higher government and not the other way around.

Sovereignty, being one of the elements of a State, gives it the right and power to govern itself without any interference from outside bodies. The Bangsamoro Basic Bill clearly gives such sovereignty to the Bangsamoro Government. Nowhere in the provisions of Constitution states that this is allowed. It is through here that the author takes his stand in alleging that the Bangsamoro Basic Bill is unconstitutional.