G.R. No. 162059, January 22, 2008
HANNAH EUNICE D. SERANA, Petitioner,
SANDIGANBAYAN and PEOPLE OF THE PHILIPPINES, Respondents.
Hannah Serana was appointed by former President Estrada as a student regent of UP Cebu, to serve a one-year term. President Estrada gave P15,000,000.00 to the Office of the Student Regent Foundation, Inc as financial assistance for the proposed renovation. The renovation of Vinzons Hall Annex failed to materialize. The Ombudsman filed estafa case against her before the Sandiganbayan. She moved to quash the information. She claimed that the Sandiganbayan does not have any jurisdiction over the offense charged or over her person, in her capacity as UP student regent because the Sandiganbayan has no jurisdiction over estafa; the petitioner is not a public officer with Salary Grade 27; the offense charged was not committed in relation to her office; and the funds in question personally came from President Estrada, not from the government. As to jurisdiction over her person, she contends that as a UP student regent, she is not a public officer who held the position in an ex officio capacity.
The Sandiganbayan denied her motion for lack of merit.
Whether or not the Sandiganbayan has no jurisdiction over Serana’s case.
No, Sandiganbayan has jurisdiction over this case. In Geduspan v. People, the SC held that while the first part of Sec. 4(A) covers only officials with Salary grade 27 and higher but who are by express provisions of law placed under the jurisdiction of the Sandiganbayan as she is placed there by express provisions of law. Sec. 4(A)(1)(g) of PD No. 1606 explicitly vested the Sandiganbayan with jurisdiction over Presidents, directors and trustees, or manager of government-owned or controlled corporations, state universities, or educational foundations. Petitioner falls under this category. As the Sandiganbayan pointed out, the Board of Regents performs functions similar to those of a board of trustee of a non-stock corporation. By express mandate of law, petitioner is, indeed, a public officer as contemplated by PD No. 1606. Thus, her position as a board of regent (UP student regent) is among those enumerated and the Sandiganbayan has jurisdiction over her.