Case Brief: Tabuena vs. Sandiganbayan

G.R. Nos. 103501-03 February 17, 1997

LUIS A. TABUENA, petitioner,
vs.
HONORABLE SANDIGANBAYAN, and THE PEOPLE OF THE PHILIPPINES, respondents.

G.R. No. 103507 February 17, 1997

ADOLFO M. PERALTA, petitioner,
vs.
HON. SANDIGANBAYAN (First Division), and THE PEOPLE OF THE PHILIPPINES, represented by the OFFICE OF THE SPECIAL PROSECUTOR, respondents.

 

Facts:

Then President Marcos instructed Luis Tabuena over the phone to pay directly to the president’s office and in cash what the Manila International Airport Authority (MIAA) owes the Philippine National Construction Corporation (PNCC), pursuant to the 7 January 1985 memorandum of then Minister Trade and Industry Roberto Ongpin. Tabuena agreed. About a week later, Tabuena received from Mrs. Fe Roa-Gimenez, then private secretary of Marcos, a Presidential Memorandum dated 8 January 1986 reiterating in black and white such verbal instruction. In obedience to President Marcos’ verbal instruction and memorandum, Tabuena, with the help of Gerardo G. Dabao and Adolfo Peralta, caused the release of P55 Million of MIAA funds by means of three (3) withdrawals. On 10 January 1986, the first withdrawal was made for P25 Million, following a letter of even date signed by Tabuena and Dabao requesting the PNB extension office at the MIAA the depository branch of MIAA funds, to issue a manager’s check for said amount payable to Tabuena. The check was encashed, however, at the PNB Villamor Branch. Dabao and the cashier of the PNB Villamor branch counted the money after which, Tabuena took delivery thereof. The P25 Million in cash was delivered on the same day to the office of Mrs. Gimenez. Mrs. Gimenez did not issue any receipt for the money received. Similar circumstances surrounded the second withdrawal/encashment and delivery of another P25 Million, made on 16 January 1986. The third and last withdrawal was made on 31 January 1986 for P5 Million. Peralta was Tabuena’s co-signatory to the letter- request for a manager’s check for this amount. Peralta accompanied Tabuena to the PNB Villamor branch as Tabuena requested him to do the counting of the P5 Million. After the counting, the money was loaded in the trunk of Tabuena’s car. Peralta did not go with Tabuena to deliver the money to Mrs. Gimenez’ office. It was only upon delivery of the P5 Million that Mrs. Gimenez issued a receipt for all the amounts she received from Tabuena. The receipt was dated January 30,1986. Tabuena and Peralta were charged for malversation of funds, while Dabao remained at large. One of the justices of the Sandiganbayan actively took part in the questioning of a defense witness and of the accused themselves; the volume of the questions asked were more the combined questions of the counsels. On 12 October 1990, they were found guilty beyond reasonable doubt. Tabuena and Peralta filed separate petitions for review, appealing the Sandiganbayan decision dated 12 October 19990 and the Resolution of 20 December 1991.

 

Issue:

Whether or not petitioners are guilty of the crime of malversation.

 

Held:

Luis Tabuena and Adolfo Peralta are acquitted of the crime of malversation. Tabuena acted in strict compliance with the MARCOS Memorandum. The order emanated from the Office of the President and bears the signature of the President himself, the highest official of the land. It carries with it the presumption that it was regularly issued. And on its face, the memorandum is patently lawful for no law makes the payment of an obligation illegal. This fact, coupled with the urgent tenor for its execution constrains one to act swiftly without question. Records show that the Sandiganbayan actively took part in the questioning of a defense witness and of the accused themselves. The questions of the court were in the nature of cross examinations characteristic of confrontation, probing and insinuation. Tabuena and Peralta may not have raised the issue as an error, there is nevertheless no impediment for the court to consider such matter as additional basis for a reversal since the settled doctrine is that an appeal throws the whole case open to review, and it becomes the duty of the appellate court to correct such errors as may be found in the judgment appealed from whether they are made the subject of assignments of error or not.

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.”

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.

Case Brief: Serana vs. Sandiganbayan

G.R. No. 162059, January 22, 2008
HANNAH EUNICE D. SERANA, Petitioner,
vs
SANDIGANBAYAN and PEOPLE OF THE PHILIPPINES, Respondents.

Facts:
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.

Issue:
Whether or not the Sandiganbayan has no jurisdiction over Serana’s case.

Held:
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.

Case Brief: Escobal v Garchitorena

G.R. No. 124644     Feb. 5, 2004

Escobal

vs.

Hon. Garchitorena

Facts:

Petitioner 2Lt. Arnel Escobal is a member of the Intellegence Group of the PNP. On March 1990, while he was conducting a surveillance operation on drug trafficking he somehow got involved in a shooting incident resulting to the death of Rodney Nueca.  Thereafter, petitioner was arrested and tried in the RTC of Naga City Branch 21. Petitioner filed a motion to dismiss the case

Petitioner filed a motion to dismiss the case reiterating that since he committed the crime in the performance of his duty, the Sandiganbayan has the exclusive jurisdiction over his case. Thus, the case was transferred to the Sandiganbayan.  However, respondent Justice Garchitorena which is the presiding justice of the case ordered the return of the records and that the case be remanded back to its court of origin, RTC 21.

Petitioner then filed a certiorari.

Issue:

Whether or not the presiding Justice of the Sandiganbayan committed a grave abuse of his discretion amounting to excess or lack of jurisdiction in remanding the case back to the RTC?

Held:

No.  According to the Supreme Court under P.D. 1606 as amended by R.A. 7975, even if the offender committed the crime charged in relation to his office but occupies a position corresponding to the salary grade below 27, the RTC or MTC as the case may be, shall have the exclusive jurisdiction over the case.

Here, the petitioner is occupying a position equivalent to a Police Senior Inspector which has a salary grade of 23 falling short to the requirement of the law, givingthe RTC the exclusive jurisdiction over the case.

Case Brief: Balaba v People

G.R. No. 169519   July 17, 2009

Balaba

vs.

People

Facts:

Accused Balaba, Assistant Municipal Treasurer of Guindulman, Bohol, was charged and convicted with Malversation of Public Funds by the RTC on it’s decision dated December 9, 2002. On January 14, 2003 filed his Notice of Appeal before the CA which was dismissed on its December 14, 2004 decision on the ground that it had no jurisdiction to act on the appeal because

SB has exclusive appellate jurisdiction over the case. Hence this appeal on the ground that CA erred in dismissing his appeal instead of certifying the case to the proper court.

Issue:

WON CA erred in dismissing his appeal instead of certifying the case to the proper court?

Held:

No. An error in designating the appellate court is not fatal to the appeal. However, the correction in designating the proper appellate court should be made within the 15-day period to appeal. Once made within the said period, the designation of the correct appellate court may be allowed even if the records of the case are forwarded to the Court of Appeals. An appeal erroneously taken to the Court of Appeals shall not be transferred to the appropriate court but shall be dismissed outright. In this case, Balaba sought the correction of the error in filing the appeal only after the expiration of the period to appeal.

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.