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De la Rosa, Jomel Noi Statutory Construction Garcia VS.

Sandiganbayan 460 SCRA 600 Facts: On September, 27, 2004, Atty. Maria Olivia Elena A. Roxas, Graft Investigation and Prosecution Officer II of the Field Investigation Office of the office of the Ombudsman, after due investigation filed a complaint against the petitioner, Major General Carlos F. Garcia an officer of the Armed Forces with public respondent the office of the Ombudsman for alleged violation of several statutes pertaining to the petitioners alleged accumulation of ill-gotten wealth. Petitioners wife and sons were also tried for the violation of R.A 1379. Public respondent, the office of the Ombudsman filed before the Sandiganbayan a petition with Verified Urgent Ex Parte Application for the Issuance of a Writ of Preliminary Attachment against the Petitioner including his wife and sons, seeking for the forfeiture of unlawfully acquired properties under Sec. 2 of R.A 1379 as amended. Such writ was eventually issued. On November 17, 2004, the petitioner filed before the Sandiganbayan a motion to dismiss such case for lack of jurisdiction and at the same time filed a petition of certiorari and prohibition under rule 65, also for the lack of jurisdiction on the part of Sandiganbayan in trying cases under R.A 1379 and the lack of authority on the part of the office of the Ombudsman. Issues: 1. Whether Sandiganbayan has jurisdiction over cases of forfeiture under R.A 1379. 2. Whether the office of the Ombudsman has authority to investigate, initiate and prosecute such petitions for forfeiture. 3. Whether petitioner is guilty of forum shopping. Ruling: On the issue raised by the petitioner concerning the jurisdiction of the Sandiganbayan, the court ruled that the Sandiganbayan has jurisdiction over cases of forfeiture under R.A 1379, reiterating its decision in the case of Republic vs. Sandiganbayan that jurisdiction over violations of R.A. No. 3019 and 1379 is lodged with the Sandiganbayan. Further stating that: It is logically congruent, the refore, that violations of R.A. No. 1379 are placed under the jurisdiction of the Sandiganbayan, even though the proceeding is civil in nature, since the forfeiture of the illegally acquired property amounts to a penalty. The soundness of this reasoning becomes even more obvious when we consider that the respondent in such forfeiture proceedings is a public officer or employee and the violation of R.A. No. 1379 was committed during the respondent officer or employees incumbency and in relation to his offi ce. This is in line with the purpose behind the creation of the Sandiganbayan as an anti-graft courtto address the urgent problem of dishonesty in public service. On the issue raised by the petitioner with regards to the authority of the Ombudsman to investigate, file and prosecute petitions for forfeiture, the court ruled that the office of the Ombudsman has jurisdiction, invoking P.D. No. 1630, P.D 1860 and PD. 1861 all provide the Tanodbayan (Ombudsman) the exclusive authority to conduct preliminary investigation of all cases cognizable by the Sandiganbayan, to file informations therefore and to direct and control the prosecution of such cases. The

court has also reiterated the provision of R.A. No. 6770, corollary to Sec. 13, Art. XI of the Constitution which provides the authority of the Ombudsman to: (1) Investigate and prosecute on its own or on complaint by any person, any act or omission of any public officer or employee, office or agency, when such act or omission appears to be illegal, unjust, improper or inefficient. It has primary jurisdiction over cases cognizable by the Sandiganbayan and, in the exercise of this primary jurisdiction, may take over, at any stage, from any investigatory agency of Government, the investigation of such cases; (11) Investigate and initiate the proper action for the recovery of illgotten and/or unexplained wealth amassed after 25 February 1986 and the prosecution of the parties involved therein. Finally, the petitioner is guilty of forum shopping for filing Both Motion to Dismiss and Petition, both pending and having the same intent and facts. Forum-shopping is manifest whenever a party repetitively avail[s] of several judicial remedies in different courts, simultaneously or successively, all substantially founded on the same transactions and the same essential facts and circumstances, and all raising substantially the same issues either pending in, or already resolved adversely by, some other court. WHEREFORE, in view of the foregoing, the Petition is DISMISSED