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PRESIDENTIAL COMMISSION ON GOOD GOVERNMENT (PCGG) v. THE HONORABLE OMBUDSMAN CONCHITA CARPIO-MORALES,

et. al.

G.R. No. 206357, 12 November 2014, THIRD DIVISION (Velasco, Jr., J.)

Considering that the crimes were committed in 1969, 1970, 1973, 1975, and 1977, the applicable prescriptive period thereon is the ten-year period set in RA 3019, the law in force at that time. What is, then, left for the Court’s determination is the reckoning point for the 10-year period. Act No. 3326, Section 2 of which provides for two reckoning points for the counting of the prescription of an offense: 1) the day of the commission of the violation of the law; and 2) if the day when the violation was committed be not known, then it shall begin to run from the discovery of said violation and the institution of judicial proceedings for investigation and punishment.

In 1992, then President Fidel V. Ramos issued Administrative Order No. 13 creating a Presidential Ad-Hoc Fact-Finding Committee on Behest Loans (Ad Hoc Committee) and Memorandum Order No. 61 prescribing certain criteria to be used by the Ad Hoc Committee as a guide in investigating and studying loans granted by government financing institutions that amount to behest loans. One of the loan accounts referred to the Ad Hoc Committee for investigation was that of Resorts Hotel Corporation (RHC), which was 37.2% owned by Rodolfo Cuenca, a known Marcos business associate. From 1969 to 1977, RHC obtained a number of loans totaling P86.9 million. To secure said loans, RHC offered as collaterals the assets that were acquired by these loans. In 1980, 40% of the amount were converted into DBP’s common shareholding in RHC, and the balance of P58.4 million was restructured. The properties were foreclosed in 1983 with arrearages of P11.97 million.

On the basis of the foregoing, the Ad Hoc Committee found that DBP’s total exposure as of 1986 amounted to P99.1 million. On January 4, 1993, the Ad Hoc Committee then submitted a report to the President where it concluded that the RHC account qualifies as behest in character. An Affidavit-Complaint was filed on January 6, 2003 with the Office of the Ombudsman, against respondent directors and officers of RHC and the directors of DBP for violation of Sections 3(e) and 3 (g) of Republic Act (RA) No. 3019 or the Anti-Graft and Corrupt Practices Act. The Ombudsman issued an Order dismissing the Affidavit-Complaint for lack of jurisdiction. Petitioner moved for reconsideration but the Ombudsman issued another Order dismissing the complaint on the ground ofprescription, effectively denying the motion for reconsideration.

ISSUE:

Whether respondent Ombudsman committed grave abuse of discretion in dismissing the Affidavit-Complaint dated January 6, 2003 on the ground of prescription

UST Law Review, Vol. LIX, No. 1, May 2015

RULING:

The petition is without merit. RA 3019, Section 11 provides that all offenses punishable under saidlaw shall prescribe in ten (10) years. This period was later increased tofifteen (15) years with the passage of Batas Pambansa (BP) Blg. 195, whichtook effect on March 16, 1982. This does not mean, however, that the longerprescriptive period shall apply to all violations of RA 3019.

Following the Court’s pronouncements in People v. Pacificador, the rule is that “in the interpretation of the law on prescription of crimes, that which is more favorable to the accused is to be adopted.” As such, the longer prescriptive period of 15 years pursuant to BP Blg. 195 cannot be applied to crimes committed prior to the effectivity of the said amending law on March16, 1982.

Considering that the crimes were committed in 1969, 1970, 1973,1975, and 1977, the applicable prescriptive period thereon is the ten-year period set in RA 3019, the law in force at that time. What is, then, left for the Court’s determination is the reckoning point for the 10-year period. Notably, RA 3019 is silent as to when the period of prescription shall begin to run. This void, however, is remedied by Act No. 3326, Section 2 of which provides in part:

Sec. 2. Prescription shall begin to run from the day of the commission of the violation of the law, and if the same be not known at the time, from the discovery thereof and the institution of judicial proceeding for its investigation and punishment. xxx.

Based on the above, there are two reckoning points for the counting of the prescription of an offense: 1) the day of the commission of the violationof the law; and 2) if the day when the violation was committed be not known, then it shall begin to run from the discovery of said violation and the institution of judicial proceedings for investigation and punishment.

In the case at bar, involving as it does the grant of behest loans which the Court has recognized as a violation that, by their nature, could be concealed from the public eye by the simple expedient of suppressing their documentation, the second mode applies. The Court, therefore, counts the running of the prescriptive period from the date of discovery thereof on January 4,1993, when the Presidential Ad Hoc Fact-Finding Committee reported to the President its findings and conclusions anent RHC’s loans. This being the case, the filing by the PCGG of its Affidavit-Complaint before the Office ofthe Ombudsman on January 6, 2003, a little over ten (10) years from the date of discovery of the crimes, is clearly belated. Undoubtedly, the ten-year period within which to institute the action has already lapsed, making it proper for the Ombudsman to dismiss petitioner’s complaint on the ground of prescription.

UST Law Review, Vol. LIX, No. 1, May 2015

PEOPLE OF THE PHILIPPINES v. LTSG. DOMINADOR BAYABOS,

et al.

G.R. Nos. 171222 & 174786, 18 February 2015, FIRST DIVISION, (Sereno, C.J.)

The failure by school authorities to take any action to prevent the offenses as provided by the law exposes them to criminal liability as accomplices in the criminal acts. Thus, the institution and its officers cannot stand idly by in the face of patently criminal acts committed within their sphere of responsibility. They bear the commensurate duty to ensure that the crimes covered by the Anti-Hazing Law are not committed.

Fernando C. Balidoy, Jr. was admitted as a probationary midshipman at the Philippine Merchant Marine Academy (PMMA). In order to reach active status, all new entrants were required to successfully complete the mandatory “Indoctrination and Orientation Period,” which was set from 2 May to 1 June 2001. Balidoy died on 3 May 2001. PMMA were criminally charged before the Sandiganbayan as accomplices to hazing under the Anti-Hazing Law. Before they were arraigned, the Sandiganbayan quashed the Information against them on the basis of the dismissal of the criminal case against the principal accused and, the failure to include in the Information the material averments required by the Anti-Hazing Law. Consequently, this petition was filed before this Court questioning the Sandiganbayan’s quashal of the Information.

ISSUE:

May the dismissal of the criminal case of the principal accused be invoked as a ground to dismiss the criminal case of the accomplices, some school authorities herein?

RULING:

No. That the case against those charged as accomplices is not ipso facto dismissed in the absence of trial of the purported principals; the dismissal of the case against the latter; or even the latter’s acquittal, especially when the occurrence of the crime has in fact been established.

In the case of school authorities and faculty members who have had no direct participation in the act, they may nonetheless be charged as accomplices if it is shown that (1) hazing, as established by the above elements, occurred; (2) the accused are school authorities or faculty members; and (3) they consented to or failed to take preventive action against hazing in spite actual knowledge thereof.

First, the Court rejects the contention of respondents that PMMA should not be considered an organization. Under the Anti-Hazing Law, the breadth of the term organization includes but is not limited to groups, teams, fraternities, sororities, citizen army training corps, educational institutions, clubs, societies,

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cooperatives, companies, partnerships, corporations, the PNP, and the AFP. Attached to the Department of Transportation and Communications, the PMMA is a government-owned educational institution established for the primary purpose of producing efficient and well-trained merchant marine officers. Clearly, it is included in the term organization within the meaning of the law.

Nevertheless, the Court finds albeit for a different reason that the Motion to Quash must be granted, as the Information does not include all the material facts constituting the crime of accomplice to hazing. Failure to aver this crucial ingredient would prevent the successful prosecution of the criminal responsibility of the accused, either as principal or as accomplice, for the crime of hazing.

UST Law Review, Vol. LIX, No. 1, May 2015