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1/8/2016

G.R.No.113811

TodayisFriday,January08,2016

RepublicofthePhilippines
SUPREMECOURT
Manila
ENBANC

G.R.No.113811October7,1994
ISHMAELHIMAGAN,petitioner,
vs.
PEOPLEOFTHEPHILIPPINESandHON.JUDGEHILARIOMAPAYO,RTC,Br.11,DavaoCity,respondents.
VictorioS.Advinculaforpetitioner.

KAPUNAN,J.:
Petitioner,apolicemanassignedwiththemedicalcompanyofthePhilippineNationalPoliceRegionalHeadquarters
atCampCatitigan,DavaoCity,wasimplicatedinthekillingofBenjaminMachitar,Jr.andtheattemptedmurderof
BernabeMachitar.Aftertheinformationsformurder1andattemptedmurder2werefiledwiththeRegionalTrialCourt,
Branch11,DavaoCity,onSeptember16,1992,thetrialcourtissuedanOrdersuspendingpetitioneruntiltheterminationof
the case on the basis of Section 47, R.A. 6975, otherwise known as Department of Interior and Local Government Act of
1990,whichprovides:

Sec. 47. Preventive Suspension Pending Criminal Case. Upon the filing of a complaint or
informationsufficientinformandsubstanceagainstamemberofthePNPforgravefelonieswherethe
penaltyimposedbylawissix(6)yearsandone(1)dayormore,thecourtshallimmediatelysuspend
theaccusedfromofficeuntilthecaseisterminated.Suchcaseshallbesubjecttocontinuoustrialand
shallbeterminatedwithinninety(90)daysfromarraignmentoftheaccused(Emphasisours).
OnOctober11,1993,petitionerfiledamotiontolifttheorderforhissuspension,3relyingonSection42ofP.D.807of
the Civil Service Decree, that his suspension should be limited to ninety (90) days and, also, on our ruling in Deloso v.
Sandiganbayan,4andLayno v. Sandiganbayan.5In his order dated December 14, 1993 6 respondent judge denied the
motion pointing out that under Section 47 of R.A. 6975, the accused shall be suspended from office until his case is
terminated.Themotionforreconsiderationoftheorderofdenialwas,likewise,denied.7Hence,thepetitionforcertiorariand
mandamustosetasidetheordersofrespondentJudgeandtocommandhimtoliftpetitioner'spreventivesuspension.

Wefindthepetitiondevoidofmerit.
There is no question that the case of petitioner who is charged with murder and attempted murder under the
RevisedPenalCodefallssquarelyunderSec.47ofRA6975whichspecificallyappliestomembersofthePNP.In
disputehowever,iswhethertheprovisionlimitstheperiodofsuspensionto90days,consideringthatwhilethefirst
sentenceofSec.47providesthattheaccusedwhoischargedwithgravefelonieswherethepenaltyimposedissix
(6)yearsandone(1)dayshallbesuspendedfromoffice"untilthecaseisterminated",thesecondsentenceofthe
samesectionmandatesthatthecase,whichshallbesubjecttocontinuoustrial,shallbeterminatedwithin90days
fromthearraignmentoftheaccused.
PetitionerpositsthatasamemberofthePhilippineNationalPolice,underSec.91ofRA6975whichreads:
Sec.91.TheCivilServiceLawanditsimplementingrulesandregulationsshallapplytoallpersonnel
oftheDepartment.
heiscoveredbytheCivilServiceLaw,particularlySec.42ofPD807oftheCivilServiceDecree,whichlimitsthe
maximumperiodofsuspensiontoninety(90)days,thus:
Sec. 42. Lifting of Preventive Suspension Pending Administrative Investigation. When the
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administrativecaseagainsttheofficeroremployeeunderpreventivesuspensionisnotfinallydecided
by the disciplining authority within the period of ninety (90) days after the date of suspension of the
respondentwhoisnotapresidentialappointee,therespondentshallbeautomaticallyreinstatedinthe
serviceProvided,Thatwhenthedelayinthedispositionofthecaseisduetothefault,negligenceor
petition of the respondent, the period of delay shall not be counted in computing the period of
suspensionhereinprovided.
Heclaimsthatanimpositionofpreventivesuspensionofover90daysiscontrarytotheCivilServiceLawandwould
beaviolationofhisconstitutionalrighttoequalprotectionoflaws.Hefurtherassertsthattherequirementsin
Sec.47ofR.A.6975that"thecourtshallimmediatelysuspendtheaccusedfromofficeuntilthecaseisterminated"
andthesucceedingsentence,"Suchcaseshallbesubjecttocontinuoustrialandshallbeterminatedwithinninety
(90)daysfromarraignmentoftheaccused"arebothsubstantiveandshouldbetakentogethertomeanthatifthe
caseisnotterminatedwithin90days,theperiodofpreventivesuspensionmustbeliftedbecauseofthecommand
thatthetrialmustbeterminatedwithinninety(90)daysfromarraignment.
Wedisagree.
First.ThelanguageofthefirstsentenceofSec.47ofR.A.6975isclear,plainandfreefromambiguity.Itgivesno
othermeaningthanthatthesuspensionfromofficeofthememberofthePNPchargedwithgraveoffensewherethe
penaltyissixyearsandonedayormoreshalllastuntiltheterminationofthecase.Thesuspensioncannotbelifted
before the termination of the case. The second sentence of the same Section providing that the trial must be
terminatedwithinninety(90)daysfromarraignmentdoesnotqualifyorlimitthefirstsentence.Thetwocanstand
independently of each other. The first refers to the period of suspension. The second deals with the time frame
withinwhichthetrialshouldbefinished.
Supposethetrialisnotterminatedwithinninetydaysfromarraignment,shouldthesuspensionofaccusedbelifted?
Theansweriscertainlyno.Whilethelawusesthemandatoryword"shall"beforethephrase"beterminatedwithin
ninety(90)days",thereisnothinginR.A.6975thatsuggeststhatthepreventivesuspensionoftheaccusedwillbe
liftedifthetrialisnotterminatedwithinthatperiod.Nonetheless,theJudgewhofailstodecidethecasewithinthe
period without justifiable reason may be subject to administrative sanctions and, in appropriate cases where the
factssowarrant,tocriminal8orcivilliability.9Ifthetrialisunreasonablydelayedwithoutfaultoftheaccusedsuchthathe
isdeprivedofhisrighttoaspeedytrial,heisnotwithoutaremedy.Hemayaskforthedismissalofthecase.Shouldthe
courtrefusetodismissthecase,theaccusedcancompelitsdismissalbycertiorari,prohibitionormandamus,orsecurehis
libertybyhabeascorpus.10

Second.PetitionermisappliesSec.42ofPD807.Ameticulousreadingofthesectionclearlyshowsthatitrefersto
theliftingofpreventivesuspensioninpendingadministrativeinvestigation,notincriminalcases,ashere.Whatis
more, Section 42 expressly limits the period of preventive suspension to ninety (90) days. Sec. 91 of R.A. 6975
whichstatesthat"TheCivilServiceLawanditsimplementingrulesshallapplytoallpersonneloftheDepartment"
simplymeansthattheprovisionsoftheCivilServiceLawanditsimplementingrulesandregulationsareapplicable
to members of the Philippine National Police insofar as the provisions, rules and regulations are not inconsistent
with
R.A. 6975. Certainly, Section 42 of the Civil Service Decree which limits the preventive suspension to ninety (90)
days cannot apply to members of the PNP because Sec. 47 of R.A. 6995 provides differently, that is, the
suspensionwherethepenaltyimposedbylawexceedssix(6)yearsshallcontinueuntilthecaseisterminated.
Third.Petitioner'srelianceonLaynoandDelosoismisplaced.Thesecasesallstemmedfromchargesinviolationof
R.A.3019(1060),otherwiseknownastheAntiGraftandCorruptPracticesActwhich,unlike
R.A.6975,issilentonthedurationofthepreventivesuspension.Sec.13ofR.A.3019readsasfollows:
Suspensionandlossofbenefits.Anypublicofficeragainstwhomanycriminalprosecutionundera
valid information under this Act or under the provisions of the Revised Penal Code on bribery is
pending in court, shall be suspended from office. Should he be convicted by final judgment, he shall
lose all retirement or gratuity benefits under any law, but if he is acquitted, he shall be entitled to
reinstatementandtothesalariesandbenefitswhichhefailedtoreceiveduringsuspension,unlessin
themeantimeadministrativeproceedingshavebeenfiledagainsthim.
In the case of Layno, the duly elected mayor of Lianga, Surigao del Sur, was preventively suspended after an
informationwasfiledagainsthimforoffensesunderR.A.3019(1060),theAntiGraftCorruptPracticesAct.Hehad
beensuspendedforfour(4)monthsatthetimehefiledamotiontolifthispreventivesuspension.Weheldthathis
indefinitepreventivesuspensionviolatedthe"equalprotectionclause"andshortenedhistermofoffice.Thus:
2.PetitionerisadulyelectedmunicipalmayorofLianga,SurigaodelSur.Histermofofficedoesnot
expireuntil1986.WereitnotforthisinformationandthesuspensiondecreedbytheSandiganbayan
according to the AntiGraft and Corrupt Practices Act, he would have been all this while in the full
dischargeofhisfunctionsassuchmunicipalmayor.Hewaselectedpreciselytodoso.AsofOctober
26,1983,hehasbeenunableto.Itisabasicassumptionoftheelectoralprocessimplicitintherightof
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suffragethatthepeopleareentitledtotheservicesofelectiveofficialsoftheirchoice.Formisfeasance
or malfeasance, any of them could, of course, be proceeded against administratively or, as in this
instance,criminally.Ineithercase,hisculpabilitymustbeestablished.Moreover,iftherebeacriminal
action,heisentitledtotheconstitutionalpresumptionofinnocence.Apreventivesuspensionmaybe
justified.Itscontinuance,however,foranunreasonablelengthoftimeraisesadueprocessquestion.
For even if thereafter he were acquitted, in the meanwhile his right to hold office had been nullified.
Clearly,therewouldbeinsuchacaseaninjusticesufferedbyhim.Norishetheonlyvictim.Thereis
injusticeinflictedlikewiseonthepeopleofLianga.Theyweredeprivedoftheservicesofthemanthey
had elected to serve as mayor. In that sense, to paraphrase Justice Cardozo, the protracted
continuance of this preventive suspension had outrun the bounds of reason and resulted in sheer
oppression. A denial of due process is thus quite manifest. It is to avoid such an unconstitutional
applicationthattheorderofsuspensionshouldbelifted.
3. Nor is it solely the denial of procedural due process that is apparent. There is likewise an equal
protection question. If the case against petitioner Layno were administrative in character the Local
GovernmentCodewouldbeapplicable.Itisthereinclearlyprovidedthatwhilepreventivesuspensionis
allowableforthecausesthereinenumerated,thereisthisemphaticlimitationonthedurationthereof:
"In all cases, preventive suspension shall not extend beyond sixty days after the start of said
suspension." It may be recalled that the principle against indefinite suspension applies equally to
nationalgovernmentofficials.SoitwasheldintheleadingcaseofGarciav.Hon.ExecutiveSecretary.
According to the opinion of Justice Barrera: "To adopt the theory of respondents that an officer
appointedbythePresident,facingadministrativecharges,canbepreventivelysuspendedindefinitely,
would be to countenance a situation where the preventive suspension can, in effect, be the penalty
itself without a finding of guilt after due hearing, contrary to the express mandate of the Constitution
andtheCivilServicelaw."Further:"Intheguiseofapreventivesuspension,histermofofficecouldbe
shortenedandhecouldineffect,beremovedwithoutafindingofacausedulyestablishedafterdue
hearing,inviolationoftheConstitution.Clearlythen,thepolicyofthelawmandatedbytheConstitution
frowns at a suspension of indefinite duration. In this particular case, the mere fact that petitioner is
facingachargeundertheAntiGraftandCorruptPracticesActdoesnotjustifyadifferentruleoflaw.
Todosowouldbetonegatethesafeguardoftheequalprotectionguarantee.11
ThecaseofDeloso,likewise,involvedanotherelectiveofficialwho
waspreventivelysuspendedasprovincialgovernor,alsounderRA3019theAntiGraftLaw.ThisCourt,facedwith
similarfactual circumstancesasinLayno, applied the ruling in the latter case "in relation to the principles of due
processandequalprotection."
ItisreadilyapparentthatSection13ofR.A.3019uponwhichthepreventivesuspensionoftheaccusedinLayno
andDelosowasbasedissilentwithrespecttothedurationofthepreventivesuspension,suchthatthesuspension
oftheaccusedthereinforaprolongedandunreasonablelengthoftimeraisedadueprocessquestion.Notsointhe
instant case. Petitioner is charged with murder under the Revised Penal Code and it is undisputed that he falls
squarely under Sec. 47 of R.A. 6975 which categorically states that his suspension shall last until the case is
terminated. The succeeding sentence of the same section requires the case to be subjected to continuous trial
which shall be terminated within ninety (90) days from arraignment of the accused. As previously emphasized,
nowhereinthelawdoesitsaythatafterthelapseofthe90dayperiodfortrial,thepreventivesuspensionshouldbe
lifted.Thelawisclear,theninety(90)daysdurationappliestothetrialofthecasenottothesuspension.Nothing
else should be read into the law. When the words and phrases of the statute are clear and unequivocal, their
meaningdeterminedfromthelanguageemployedandthestatutemustbetakentomeanexactlywhatitsays.12
Fourth.FromthedeliberationsoftheBicameralConferenceCommitteeonNationalDefenserelativetothebillthat
became R.A. 6975, the meaning of Section 47 of R.A. 6975 insofar as the period of suspension is concerned
becomesallthemoreclear.Wequote:
Sootherthanthatinthatparticularsection,anobaitong"JurisdictioninCriminalCases?"
Whatisthisallabout?
REP.ZAMORA.Incasetheyarechargedwithcrimes.
THECHAIRMAN(SEN.MACEDA).Ah,thepreviousoneisadministrative,no.Now,ifitis
chargedwithacrime,regularcourts.
SEN.GONZALES.Ano,thecourtsmismoangmagsasabing...
THECHAIRMAN(SEN.MACEDA).No,thejurisdiction.
REP.ZAMORA.Thejurisdictionifthereisrobbery.
THE CHAIRMAN (SEN. MACEDA). Okay. "Preventive Suspension Pending Criminal
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Case. Upon the filing of a complaint or informations sufficient in form and substance
againstamemberofthePNPforgravefelonieswherethepenaltyimposedbylawissix
years and one day or more, the court shall immediately suspend the accused from the
officeuntilthecaseisterminated."
REP.ALBANO.WherearewenowMr.Chairman.
THECHAIRMAN(SEN.MACEDA).Gravefeloniesitoe.Sixyearsandonedayormore.
SEN.SAGUISAG.KungfiveyearsandlitigationngSupremeCourt,ganoonbaand...?
THECHAIRMAN(SEN.MACEDA).Hindi,dahiliyongibapanaydisciplinaryiyone.
SEN.PIMENTEL.Anongpageiyan,Rene?
THECHAIRMAN(SEN.MACEDA).Page29PreventiveSuspension.
REP.GUTANG.Angcomplaintkasingmgatao,pagkamaypulisnamaycriminalcaseat
maybarilparinatnaguuniforme,hindimagandangtingnane.Soparangnatatakotiyong
mgawitnesses.
SEN.GONZALES.Anyway,kungmaexemptnaritonamansiyae.
REP.GUTANG.Mayroongentitlementtoreinstatementandpay....
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SEN.PIMENTEL.Ditosa"PreventiveSuspensionPendingCriminalCase."OkayitobutI
thinkweshouldalsomandatetheearlyterminationofthecase.Ibigsabihin,okay,hindi
ba"thesuspensionoftheaccusedfromofficeuntilthecaseisterminated?"Alamnaman
natinangtakbongmgakasoritosaatingbansae.
REP.ZAMORA.Twentydays,okayna.
SEN.PIMENTEL.Hindi,andibigkongsabihin,letusjustassumethatacasecanbe,as
Renepointedout,canruntosixyearsbago
materminate,sometimestenyearspangae.Okay,butmaybeweshouldmandate...
REP.ZAMORA.Continuoushearing.
SEN.PIMENTEL.Notonlythat,butthecasemustbeterminatedwithinaperiod.
REP.ALBANO.NinetydaysnahosaSupremeCourtthetrial.
SEN.PIMENTEL.Ha?
REP.ALBANO.Thetrialmustbedonewithinninetydays,
SEN.PIMENTEL.Angibigkongsabihinkungmaarisanangilagayritothatthecaseshall
alsobeterminatedinoneyearfromthetime...aywankokungkayanatinggawiniyon.
REP.ALBANO.Onesolution,Mr.Chairman.
THE CHAIRMAN (SEN. MACEDA). Criminal case? Hindi ba that has all been held as
directoryevenifyouputitinthelaw?
SEN.PIMENTEL.Iknow,but,iyonnanga,wearelookingatsomesolutiontoaparticular
situation.
SEN. ANGARA. Let's have continuous hearing and be terminated not later than ninety
days.
REP.ZAMORA.AngpointniErnie,that'sreallyonlythedirectory.Allofthese,well,looks
exactlythesamething.
SEN. ANGARA. No, but at least, we will shorten it up in a case like this. We are really
keenonhavingitquick,swift.
SEN.PIMENTEL.Swiftjustice.
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REP.ALBANO.Mr.Chairman.
THECHAIRMAN.(SEN.MACEDA).Yes.
REP.ALBANO.FollowingtheVelosocaseinAntigraftcasesbeforetheSandiganbayan,
thepreventivesuspensionisonlyninetydays.Innocaseshallitgobeyondninetydays
whichcanalsobeapplicableherebecausethisisapreventivesuspension.
SEN.PIMENTEL.No,becauseyoucanlegislateatleast.
SEN. SAGUISAG. But then the case may be antigraft ha. The case filed against a
policemanmaybeantigraftinnature...
SEN.PIMENTEL.Correct,correct,butisthataconstitutionalprovision?Isit?
REP.ALBANO.No,butasastandardprocedure.
SEN.PIMENTEL.Thenyoucanlegislate.
THE CHAIRMAN (SEN. MACEDA). No, because this particular provision is for criminal
cases. I know antigraft is a criminal case but here we are talking, let's say, of murder,
rape,treason,robbery.That'swhyitisinthatcontextthatthereisadifferencebetweena
purely antigraft case and a criminal case which could be a serious case since it is six
yearsandonedayormore,soitmustbealreadyagravefelony.
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REP.ALBANO....
WhatImeantosayis,preventivesuspension,wecanusethe
Velosocase.
THE CHAIRMAN (SEN. MACEDA). No, that's too short, that's what I am saying. The
feelinghereis,forpoliceman,wehavetobestricterespeciallyifitisacriminalcase.
WhatReneisjusttryingtosayis,heisagreeablethatthesuspensionisuntilthecaseis
terminated,buthejustwantssomeadministrativebalancingtoexpediteit.Soletusstudy
what kind of language could be done along that line. So just on the National Police
Commission...
SEN.ANGARA.CanIsuggestalanguagethatmayreflect...
THECHAIRMAN(SEN.MACEDA).Okay,please.
SEN.ANGARA."Suchcaseshallbesubjecttocontinuoustrialandbeterminatednotlater
than..."whateverweagree.
THECHAIRMAN(SEN.MACEDA).Okay,solet'sstudythat.
SoifthereareanyfurtheramendmentstoChapter2ontheNationalPoliceCommission..
....13
The foregoing discussions reveal the legislative intent to place on preventive suspension a member of the PNP
charged with grave felonies where the penalty imposed by law exceeds six years of imprisonment and which
suspensioncontinuesuntilthecaseagainsthimisterminated.
ThereasonwhymembersofthePNParetreateddifferentlyfromtheotherclassesofpersonschargedcriminallyor
administrativelyinsofarastheapplicationoftheruleonpreventivesuspensionisconcernedisthatpolicemencarry
weaponsandthebadgeofthelawwhichcanbeusedtoharassorintimidatewitnessesagainstthem,assuccinctly
broughtoutinthelegislativediscussions.
If a suspended policeman criminally charged with a serious offense is reinstated to his post while his case is
pending,hisvictimandthewitnessesagainsthimareobviouslyexposedtoconstantthreatandthuseasilycowedto
silencebythemerefactthattheaccusedisinuniformandarmed.Theimpositionofpreventivesuspensionforover
90daysunderSection47of
R.A.6975doesnotviolatethesuspendedpoliceman'sconstitutionalrighttoequalprotectionofthelaws.
Theequalprotectionclauseexiststopreventunduefavororprivilege.Itisintendedtoeliminatediscriminationand
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oppression based on inequality. Recognizing the existence of real differences among men, the equal protection
clause does not demand absolute equality. It merely requires that all persons shall be treated alike, under like
circumstancesandconditionsbothastotheprivilegesconferredandliabilitiesenforced.14Thus,theequalprotection
clausedoesnotabsolutelyforbidclassifications,suchastheonewhichexistsintheinstantcase.Iftheclassificationisbased
onrealandsubstantialdifferences15isgermanetothepurposeofthelaw16appliestoallmembersofthesame
class 17 and applies to current as well as future conditions, 18 the classification may not be impugned as violating the
Constitution's equal protection guarantee. A distinction based on real and reasonable considerations related to a proper
legislativepurposesuchasthatwhichexistshereisneitherunreasonable,capriciousnorunfounded.

ACCORDINGLY,thepetitionisherebyDISMISSED.
SOORDERED.
Narvasa, C.J., Cruz, Regalado, Davide, Jr., Romero, Bellosillo, Melo, Quiason, Puno, Vitug and Mendoza, JJ.,
concur.
Feliciano,PadillaandBidin,JJ.,areonleave.

#Footnotes
1CriminalCaseNo.27,14892,Rollo,p.30.
2CriminalCaseNo.27,14792,Rollo,p.29.
3Rollo,pp.3233.
4173SCRA409(1989).
5136SCRA536(1985).
6Rollo,pp.2426.
7Id.atpp.2728.
8REVISEDPENALCODE,Art.207.Thepenaltyofprisioncorreccionalinitsminimumperiodshallbe
imposeduponanyjudgeguiltyofmaliciousdelayintheadministrationofjustice.
9CIVILCODE,Articles27and32provide:
Art.27.Anypersonsufferingmaterialormorallossbecauseapublicservantoremployeerefusesor
neglects,withoutjustcause,toperformhisofficialdutymayfileanactionfordamagesandotherrelief
againstthelatter,withoutprejudicetoanydisciplinaryadministrativeactionthatmaybetaken.
Art.32.Anypublicofficeroremployee,oranyprivateindividual,whodirectlyorindirectlyobstructs,
defeats,violatesorinanymannerimpedesorimpairsanyofthefollowingrightsandlibertiesof
anotherpersonshallbeliabletothelatterfordamages:
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(16)Therightoftheaccusedtohaveaspeedyandpublictrial,....
10Acebedov.Sarmiento,36SCRA247Esguerrav.delaCosta,66Phil.134Kalawv.Apostol,64
Phil.852.
11Seenote5,supra,pp.541542.
12Pascualv.PascualBautista,207SCRA567.
13SenateandHouseBicameralConferenceCommitteeonNationalDefense,May15,1990,pp.17.
14COOLEY,CONSTITUTIONALLIMITATIONS,824825.
15Villegasvs.HiuChiongTsaiPaoHo,86SCRA270,275(1978).
16Ichongv.Hernandez,101Phil.1155(1957).
17Id.,atp.1176.
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18Id.
TheLawphilProjectArellanoLawFoundation

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