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PEOPLE OF THE PHILIPPINES … Plaintiff-Appellee

versus

NESTOR ANO y DEL REMEDIOS … Accused-Appellant

PRESENT: CARPIO, J*,CHAIRPERSON; PERALTA; PERLAS-BERNABE; CAGUIOA


AND REYES, JR, JJ

Promulgated: 14 MAR 2018

DECISION

PERLAS-BERNABE, J:

Assailed in this ordinary appeal1 is the Decision2 dated December 4, 2015 of the Court
of Appeals (CA) in CA-G.R. CR-H.C. No. 06127, which affirmed the Decision3 dated
October 1, 2012 of the Regional Trial Court of San Mateo, Rizal, Branch 76 (RTC) in
Criminal Case No. 11427 finding accused-appellant Nestor Ano y Del Remedios (Ano)
guilty beyond reasonable doubt for violating Section 5 of Republic Act No. (RA)
9165,4 otherwise known as the “Comprehensive Dangerous Drugs Act of 2002.”

The Facts

This case stemmed from an Information5 filed before the RTC, charging Ano with
violation of Section 5, Article II of RA 9165, the accusatory portion of which reads:

Criminal Case No. 11427

That on or about the 3rd day of August 2009 in the Municipality of San Mateo, Province
of Rizal, Philippines and within the jurisdiction of this Honorable Court, the above-
named accused, without having been authorized by law, did then and there willfully,
unlawfully and knowingly sell, deliver and give away to poseur buyer, P02 Ruel T. Ayad,
0.03 gram of white crystalline substance contained in one (1) heat-sealed transparent
plastic sachet which substance was found positive to the tests for Methamphetamine
Hydrochloride, also known as “shabu”, a dangerous drug, in consideration of the
amount of Php.200.00, in violation of the above-cited law.

CONTRARY TO LAW. 6

The prosecution alleged that at around five (5) o’clock in the afternoon of August 3,
2005 and after receiving information about Ano’s drug activities at Daangbakal,
Guitnangbayan II, Police Officer (PO) 2 Ruel T. Ayad (PO2 Ayad), PO1 Aldwin Ortilla
(PO1 Ortilla), and PO1 Jenesis A. Acuin7 (PO1 Acuin) formed a buy-bust team
designating P02 Ayad as the poseur-buyer, with PO1 Ortilla and PO1 Acuin as back-
ups, and marked two (2) P1 00.00 bills to be used in the operation.8 Thereafter, the
team headed to the house of Ano where P02 Ayad knocked on the door and upon
seeing Ano, whispered that he “wants to score” worth P200.00. Ano replied that he has
drugs with him and gave P02 Ayad a transparent plastic sachet, while the latter
simultaneously handed the marked money as payment. As Ano placed the money
inside his pocket, PO2 Ayad introduced himself as a policeman, causing Ano to flee.
Fortunately, PO2 Ayad caught Ano and asked him to empty his pockets which produced
the two (2) P100.00 bills. Due to the commotion caused by Ano’s relatives who were
preventing his arrest, the team moved at a distance of around 100 meters from the
place of arrest, marked the confiscated sachet, and completed the inventory thereat.
Barangay Captain Leo S. Buenviaje (Brgy. Captain Buenviaje) witnessed and signed
the Inventory of Seized/ Confiscated Items,9 photographs were also taken in the
presence of Ano, PO2 Ayad, and PO1 Acuin.10 On the same day, PO2 Ayad delivered
the seized sachet to the Crime Laboratory where it was turned over to Police Inspector
Forensic Chemist Beaune V. Villaraza (FC Villaraza) for examination. In Laboratory
Report No. D-198-09,11 FC Villaraza confirmed that the seized sachet was positive for
methamphetamine hydrochloride or shabu, a dangerous drug.12

Upon arraignment, Ano pleaded not guilty and denied the charges leveled against him.
He claimed that on said date, he was at home celebrating the 4 th birthday of his nephew
when suddenly, three police officers whom he identified to be PO2 Ayad, PO1 Ortilla,
and PO1 Acuin, forcibly arrested him and brought him to the police station for inquiry.
The following day, he learned that he was being charged of drug pushing. 13

The RTC Ruling

In a Decision14 dated October 1, 2012, the RTC found Ano guilty beyond reasonable
doubt of Illegal Sale of Dangerous Drugs under Section 5 of RA 9165, sentencing him to
suffer the penalty of life imprisonment and a fine of P500,000.00. 15

The RTC found all the elements for the prosecution of sale of dangerous drugs present,
noting that the identity of Ano as the seller of the illegal drug was clearly established
when he was arrested in flagrante delicto during a buy-bust operation.16

Aggrieved, Ano elevated his conviction before the Court of Appeals (CA).17

The CA Ruling
In a Decision18 dated December 4, 2015, the CA upheld the RTC ruling, 19 likewise
finding that all the elements constituting the crime of Illegal Sale of Dangerous Drugs
were present. Moreover, it ruled that the apprehending officers duly complied with the
chain of custody rule under Section 21 (a), Article II of the Implementing Rules and
Regulations (IRR) of RA 9165, as PO2 Ayad testified in detail the links in the chain of
custody of the seized drug from the time of its confiscation until its presentation in court
as evidence.

Hence, this appeal.

The Issue Before the Court

The issue for the Court’s resolution is whether or not Ano is guilty beyond reasonable
doubt of Section 5, Article II of RA 9165.

The Court’s Ruling

The appeal is meritorious.

At the outset, it must be stressed that an appeal in criminal cases opens the entire case
for review and, thus, it is the duty of the reviewing tribunal to correct, cite, and
appreciate errors in the appealed judgment whether they are assigned or
unassigned.20 “The appeal confers the appellate court full jurisdiction over the case and
renders such court competent to examine records, revise the judgment appealed from,
increase the penalty, and cite the proper provision of the penal law.”21

Here, Ano was charged with the crime of Illegal Sale of Dangerous Drugs, defined and
penalized under Section 5, Article II of RA 9165. In order to secure the conviction of an
accused charged with Illegal Sale of Dangerous Drugs, the prosecution must prove: (a)
the identity of the buyer and the seller, the object, and the consideration; and (b) the
delivery of the thing sold and the payment.22 It is likewise essential for a conviction that
the drugs subject of the sale be presented in court and its identity established with
moral certainty through an unbroken chain of custody over the same. In cases like this,
the prosecution must be able to account for each link in the chain of custody over the
dangerous drug from the moment of seizure up to its presentation in court as evidence
of the corpus delicti.23

In this relation, Section 21, Article II of RA 9165 provides the chain of custody rule,
outlining the procedure that police officers must follow in handling the seized drugs in
order to ensure that their integrity and evidentiary value are preserved.24 Under the said
section, prior to its amendment by RA 10640,25 the apprehending team shall, among
others, immediately after seizure and confiscation conduct a physical inventory and take
photographs of the seized items in the presence of the accused or the person from
whom such items were seized, or his representative or counsel, a representative
from the media and the Department of Justice (DOJ), and any elected public
official who shall then sign the copies of the inventory and be given a copy of the same;
and the seized drugs must be turned over to the PNP Crime Laboratory within twenty-
four (24) hours from confiscation for examination purposes.26 In the case of People v.
Mendoza,27 the Court stressed that “[w]ithout the insulating presence of the
representative from the media or the [DOJ], or any elected public official during
the seizure and marking of the [seized drugs], the evils of switching, ‘planting’ or
contamination of the evidence that had tainted the buy-busts conducted under the
regime of [RA] 6425 (Dangerous Drugs Act of 1972) again reared their ugly heads as
to negate the integrity and credibility of the seizure and confiscation of the [said
drugs] that were evidence herein of the corpus delicti, and thus adversely
affected the trustworthiness of the incrimination of the accused. Indeed, the x x x
presence of such witnesses would have preserved an unbroken chain of custody.” 28

The Court, however, clarified that under varied field conditions, strict compliance with
the requirements of Section 21 of RA 9165 may not always be possible. 29 In fact, the
Implementing Rules and Regulations (IRR) of RA 9165-which is now crystallized into
statutory law with the passage of RA 1064030-provide that non-compliance with the
requirements of Section 21, Article II of RA 9165-under justifiable grounds-will not
automatically render void and invalid the seizure and custody over the seized
items so long as the integrity and evidentiary value of the seized items are
properly preserved by the apprehending officer or team.31In other words, the failure
of the apprehending team to strictly comply with the procedure laid out in Section 21 of
RA 9165 and its IRR does not ipso facto render the seizure and custody over the items
as void and invalid, provided that the prosecution satisfactorily proves that: (a) there is
justifiable ground for non-compliance; and (b) the integrity and evidentiary value of the
seized items are properly preserved.32 In People v. Almorfe,33 the Court explained that
for the above-saving clause to apply, the prosecution must explain the reasons
behind the procedural lapses, and that the integrity and evidentiary value of the
seized evidence had nonetheless been preserved.34 Also, in People v. De
Guzman,35 it was emphasized that the justifiable ground for non-compliance must
be proven as a fact, because the Court cannot presume what these grounds are
or that they even exist.36
After a judicious study of the case, the Court finds that there are substantial gaps in the
chain of custody of the seized items from Ano which were unfortunately, left unjustified,
thereby putting into question their integrity and evidentiary value.

As the prosecution submits, upon Ano’s arrest, PO1 Ortilla called Brgy. Captain
Buenviaje to witness the marking and to sign the inventory. After which, PO2 Ayad
marked the sachet of shabu subject of the sale with Ano’s intials, “NDRA,” while PO1
Ortilla prepared an inventory of the seized items, which was signed by Brgy. Captain
Buenviaje as witness, and had them photographed. Thereafter, the buy-bust team
escorted Ano to the police station and turned over the sachet for examination to FC
Villaraza.

While the fact of marking and inventory of the seized item was established by the
attached Inventory of Seized/ Confiscated Items,37the records are glaringly silent as to
the presence of the required witnesses, namely, the representatives from the media and
the DOJ. To reiterate, Section 21 (1) of RA 9165, prior to its amendment by RA 10640,
as well as its IRR requires the presence of the following witnesses during the conduct of
inventory and photography of the seized items: (a) the accused or the person/s from
whom such items were confiscated and/or seized, or his/her representative or counsel;
(b) any elected public official; and (c) a representative from the media and the DOJ.38 In
their absence, the prosecution must provide a credible explanation justifying the non--
compliance with the rule; otherwise, the saving clause under the IRR of RA 9165 (and
now, the amended Section 21, Article II of RA 9165) would not apply.

Here, no such explanation was proffered by the prosecution to justify the procedural
lapse. It then follows that there are unjustified gaps in the chain of custody of the items
seized from Ano, thereby militating against a finding of guilt beyond reasonable doubt,
which resultantly warrants his acquittal.39 It is well-settled that the procedure under
Section 21, Article II of RA 9165 is a matter of substantive law, and cannot be brushed
aside as a simple procedural technicality; or worse ignored as an impediment to the
conviction of illegal drug suspects.40

As a final note, the Court finds it fitting to echo its recurring pronouncement in recent
jurisprudence on the subject matter:

The Court strongly supports the campaign of the government against drug addiction and
commends the efforts of our law enforcement officers against those who would inflict
this malediction upon our people, especially the susceptible youth. But as demanding as
this campaign may be, it cannot be more so than the compulsions of the Bill of Rights
for the protection of liberty of every individual in the realm, including the basest of
criminals. The Constitution covers with the mantle of its protection the innocent and the
guilty alike against any manner of high-handedness from the authorities, however
praiseworthy their intentions.

Those who are supposed to enforce the law are not justified in disregarding the right of
the individual in the name of order. Order is too high a price for the loss of liberty. x x x.41

In this light, prosecutors are strongly reminded that they have the positive duty to
prove compliance with the procedure set forth in Section 21 of RA 9165, as amended.
As such, they must have the initiative to not only acknowledge but also justify any
perceived deviations from the said procedure during the proceedings before the
trial court. Since compliance with this procedure is determinative of the integrity and
evidentiary value of the corpus delicti and ultimately, the fate of the liberty of the
accused, the fact that any issue regarding the same was not raised, or even threshed
out in the court/s below, would not preclude the appellate court, including this Court,
from fully examining the records of the case if only to ascertain whether the procedure
had been completely complied with, and if not, whether justifiable reasons exist to
excuse any deviation. If no such reasons exist, then it is the appellate court’s bounden
duty to acquit the accused, and perforce, overturn a conviction.

WHEREFORE, the appeal is GRANTED. The Decision dated December 4, 2015 of the
Court of Appeals in CA-G.R. CR-H.C. No. 06127 is hereby REVERSED and SET
ASIDE. Accordingly, accused-appellant Nestor Ano y Del Remedios is ACQUITTED of
the crime charged. The Director of Bureau of Corrections is ordered to cause his
immediate release, unless he is being lawfully held in custody for any other reason.

SO ORDERED.

 Kevin Belmonte y Goromeo Vs. People of the Philippines


G.R. No. 224143. June 28, 2017

Topic: Failure to observe Section 21, Article II of RA 9165

Section 21, Article II of RA 9165 provides the chain of custody rule, outlining the procedure police officers
must follow in handling the seized drugs, in order to preserve their integrity and evidentiary value. Under
the said section, the apprehending team shall, immediately after seizure and confiscation conduct a
physical inventory and photograph the seized items in the presence of the accused or the person from
whom the items were seized, his representative or counsel, a representative from the media and the
Department of Justice, and any elected public official who shall be required to sign the copies of the
inventory and be given a copy of the same, and the seized drugs must be turned over to the PNP Crime
Laboratory within twenty-four (24) hours from confiscation for examination.
By and large, the foregoing sufficiently established the existence of a continuous chain of custody which
preserved the identity, integrity, and evidentiary value of the items confiscated from the accused,
notwithstanding the absence of the representatives from the media and the DOJ at the time of the arrest
and the taking of inventory. Notably, the absence of media representatives at the time Ominga prepared
the inventory was sufficiently explained by her during her cross-examination when she testified that when
contacted, the media representatives told them that they were still far from the area and would not be able
to arrive on time. As regards the absence of the DOJ representative, Eulogio Gapasin, the DOJ clerk who
signed the inventory, explained that it has been the practice in their office for him to go to the PDEA office
to sign the inventories instead of going to the site of the crime. While this is not ideal and the Court by no
means condones it, the Court is also cognizant of the fact that this is not the fault of the apprehending
officers. Verily, under varied field conditions, the strict compliance with the requirements of Section 21,
Article II of RA 9165 may not always be possible. What is of utmost importance is the preservation of the
integrity and the evidentiary value of the seized items, as the same would be utilized in the determination
of the guilt or innocence of the accused. In People v. Rebotazo, 89 the Court held that so long as this
requirement is met, as in this case, non-compliance with Section 21, Article II of RA 9165 will not render
the arrest of the accused illegal or the items seized or confiscated inadmissible.

[G.R. No. 127073. January 29, 1998]

JOSE P. DANS, JR., petitioner, vs. PEOPLE OF THE


PHILIPPINES, respondent.

[G.R. No. 126995. January 29, 1998]

IMELDA R. MARCOS, petitioner, vs. THE HONORABLE


SANDIGANBAYAN (FIRST DIVISION), AND THE PEOPLE OF THE
PHILIPPINES, respondents.

DECISION
ROMERO, J.:

A mans signature, even if merely a flourish or even if indecipherable, may signify


authority, agreement, acknowledgment and ownership. As indelible as his fingerprints,
dental records or DNA genetic map, it denotes trust and honor. But the same trust and
honor may be tainted by polluted intentions, as when signing is done in bad faith, or to
perpetrate a fraud, to deceive others, or to commit a crime. The petitions at bar will
illustrate how ones John Hancock can bring a man, or a woman for that matter, to ruin.
Sometime in 1984, then Minister of Human Settlements Imelda R. Marcos and then
Transportation and Communications Minister Jose P. Dans, Jr., petitioners herein,
entered into several contracts involving the Light Rail Transit Authority (LRTA) and the
Philippine General Hospital Foundation, Inc. (PGHFI). Concurrently and respectively,
Marcos and Dans served as ex-oficio Chairman and ex-oficio Vice-Chairman of the
LRTA, and as Chairman and Director of the Board of Trustees of the PGHFI. By virtue of
these agreements, which were authorized and in fact ratified by the LRTA Board of
Directors, two vacant LRTA lots consisting of a 7,340-square meter parcel of land located
in Pasay City (the Pasay lot), and a 1,141.20-square meter lot in Carriedo, Sta. Cruz,
Manila (the Sta. Cruz lot), were leased out to the PGHFI. Specifically, the LRTA and the
PGHFI, represented by Dans and Marcos, respectively, approved three deeds, namely,
an Agreement for the Development of the Areas Adjacent to the Light Rail Transit System
Stations and the Management and Operation of the Concession Areas Therein, [1] and two
lease agreements[2] dated June 8 and June 18, 1984, covering the Pasay and the Sta.
Cruz lots. The terms of the lease agreements were identical except as to the price:the
lease would be good for 25 years subject to an annual escalation of 7.5%; PGHFI had
the right to sublease the lots; and the monthly lease was P102,760.00 for the Pasay lot
and P92,437.20 for the Sta. Cruz lot. Within the same month, the Pasay lot was
subleased by PGHFI, through Marcos, to Transnational Construction Corporation
(TNCC)[3] for P734,000.00 a month, while the Sta. Cruz lot was allegedly[4] subleased to
Joy Mart Consolidated Corporation (Joy Mart)[5] for P199,710.00 per month.
Because of these deeds, petitioners were charged on January 14, 1992, with a
violation of Republic Act No. 3019 (the Anti-Graft and Corrupt Practices Act), to wit:
Criminal Case No. 17449
The undersigned Special Prosecution Officer I, Office of the Special
Prosecutor, hereby accuses IMELDA R. MARCOS and JOSE P.
DANS, JR. of Violation of Section 3(g) of RA 3019, as amended,
committed as follows:
That on or about September 8, 1982, and for sometime prior or
subsequent thereto, in Manila, Philippines, and within the
jurisdiction of this Honorable Court, the accused IMELDA R.
MARCOS and JOSE P. DANS, JR., public officers, being then
the Chairman and Vice-Chairman, respectively, of the Light Rail
Transit Authority (LRTA), a government corporate entity created
under Executive Order No. 603 of the former President
Ferdinand E. Marcos, while in the performance of their official
functions, taking advantage of their positions and committing the
crime in relation to their offices, did then and there wilfully,
unlawfully and criminally conspiring with one another, enter on
behalf of the aforesaid government corporation into an
agreement for the development of the areas adjacent to the
LRTA stations and the management and operation of the
concession areas therein, with the Philippine General Hospital
Foundation, Inc. (PGHFI), a private enterprise, under terms and
conditions manifestly and grossly disadvantageous to the
government.
CONTRARY TO LAW.
Criminal Case No. 17450
The undersigned Special Prosecution Officer I, Office of the Special
Prosecutor, hereby accuses IMELDA R. MARCOS and JOSE P.
DANS, JR. of Violation of Section 3(g) of RA 3019, as amended,
committed as follows:
That on or about June 8, 1984, and for sometime prior or
subsequent thereto, in Makati, Metro Manila, Philippines, and
within the jurisdiction of this Honorable Court, the accused
IMELDA R. MARCOS and JOSE P. DANS, JR., public officers,
being then the Chairman and Vice-Chairman, respectively, of the
Light Rail Transit Authority (LRTA), a government corporate
entity created under Executive Order No. 603 of the former
President Ferdinand E. Marcos, while in the performance of their
official functions, taking advantage of their positions and
committing the crime in relation to their offices, did then and
there wilfully, unlawfully and criminally conspiring with one
another, enter on behalf of the aforesaid government corporation
into a Lease Agreement covering LRTA property located in
Pasay City, with the Philippine General Hospital Foundation, Inc.
(PGHFI), a private enterprise, under terms and conditions
manifestly and grossly disadvantageous to the government.
CONTRARY TO LAW.
Criminal Case No. 17451
The undersigned Special Prosecution Officer I, Office of the Special
Prosecutor, hereby accuses IMELDA R. MARCOS of Violation of
Section 3(d) of RA 3019, as amended, committed as follows:
That on or about June 8, 1984, and for sometime prior or
subsequent thereto, in Makati, Metro Manila, Philippines, and
within the jurisdiction of this Honorable Court, the accused
IMELDA R. MARCOS, a public officer, being then the Chairman
of the Light Rail Transit Authority (LRTA), a government
corporate entity created under Executive Order No. 603 of the
former President Ferdinand E. Marcos, while in the performance
of her official functions, taking advantage of her position and
committing the offense in relation to her office, did then and there
wilfully, unlawfully and criminally accepted employment and/or
acted as Chairman of (the) Philippine General Hospital
Foundation, Inc. (PGHFI), a private corporation duly organized
under the laws of the Philippines, which private enterprise had, at
that time(,) pending business transactions with the accused, in
her capacity as Chairman of LRTA.
CONTRARY TO LAW.
Criminal Case No. 17452
The undersigned Special Prosecution Officer I, Office of the Special
Prosecutor, hereby accuses JOSE P. DANS, JR. of Violation of Section
3(d) of RA 3019, as amended, committed as follows:
That on or about June 8, 1984, and for sometime prior or
subsequent thereto, in Makati, Metro Manila, Philippines, and
within the jurisdiction of this Honorable Court, the accused JOSE
P. DANS, JR., a public officer, being then the Vice-Chairman of
the Light Rail Transit Authority (LRTA), a government corporate
entity created under Executive Order No. 603 of the former
President Ferdinand E. Marcos, while in the performance of his
official functions, taking advantage of his position and committing
the offense in relation to his office, did then and there wilfully,
unlawfully and criminally accepted employment and/or acted as
Director of (the) Philippine General Hospital Foundation, Inc.
(PGHFI), a private corporation duly organized under the laws of
the Philippines, which private enterprise had, at that time(,)
pending business transactions with the accused, in his capacity
as Vice-Chairman of LRTA.
CONTRARY TO LAW.
Criminal Case No. 17453
The undersigned Special Prosecution Officer, Office of the Special
Prosecutor, hereby accuses IMELDA R. MARCOS and JOSE P.
DANS, JR. of Violation of Section 3(g) of RA 3019, as amended,
committed as follows:
That on or about June 18, 1984, and for sometime prior or
subsequent thereto, in Makati, Metro Manila, Philippines, and
within the jurisdiction of this Honorable Court, the accused
IMELDA R. MARCOS and JOSE P. DANS, JR., public officers,
being then the Chairman and Vice-Chairman, respectively, of the
Light Rail Transit Authority (LRTA), a government corporate
entity created under Executive Order No. 603 of the former
President Ferdinand E. Marcos, while in the performance of their
official functions, taking advantage of their positions and
committing the crime in relation to their offices, did then and
there wilfully, unlawfully and criminally conspiring with one
another, enter on behalf of the aforesaid government corporation
into a Lease Agreement covering LRTA property located in Sta.
Cruz, Manila, with the Philippine General Hospital Foundation,
Inc. (PGHFI), a private enterprise, under terms and conditions
manifestly and grossly disadvantageous to the government.
CONTRARY TO LAW.
In short, Marcos and Dans were separately charged under Criminal Case Nos. 17451
and 17452 for accepting employment in and/or acting as Chairman and Director,
respectively, of the PGHFI while the latter had pending business (the lease agreements)
with the LRTA, which they both also headed. With regard to the other cases, Criminal
Case Nos. 17449, 17450 and 17453, the accusations against both of them stemmed from
the contracts they signed in representation of the LRTA and of the PGHFI which were
allegedly entered into under terms and conditions manifestly and grossly
disadvantageous to the government.
When arraigned, petitioners pleaded not guilty to all of the charges. Before trial could
commence, Dans moved for the advance examination of defense witness Ramon F.
Cuervo, Jr., a real estate broker, appraiser and friend of Dans who, as an expert witness,
was in a position to inform the court that the agreed lease prices stated in the subject
agreements were fair based on standard industry valuation standards. The court a
quo granted said motion, and Cuervo was allowed to testify on August 12, 13, and 19,
1992. During this time, Marcos never questioned Cuervo and later expressed that she
had no desire to further examine him.[6] Five days after the final hearing of Cuervos
testimony, the trial of the five cases opened with the formal offer of the prosecutions
documentary evidence, which included, inter alia, the five agreements mentioned
earlier. On November 23, 1992, the court issued an order admitting all the exhibits except
Exhibits D and E as to Dans, who challenged the two sublease agreements, and Exhibit
E-1 as to Marcos, who, while accepting the validity of said sublease agreement,
nevertheless questioned the authenticity of her signature thereon.
In Criminal Case No. 17543, Dans filed a Motion to Dismiss (demurrer to evidence)
dated December 7, 1992, but the court denied the same, as well as his motion for
reconsideration thereof.
By the time the case was submitted for decision, Marcos had neither submitted a
formal offer of evidence, despite notice of the courts orders[7] to do so, nor the required
memorandum.She did file a motion for inhibition of the justices of the Sandiganbayans
First Division on the ground of pre-judgment of her case based on the courts denial of
Dans demurrer to evidence, but this was denied in the courts resolution of May 20, 1993.
On September 24, 1993, the court a quo rendered judgment,[8] acquitting petitioners
in Criminal Case Nos. 17449, 17451, and 17452, but convicting them in Criminal Case
Nos. 17450 and 17453. The decretal portion of the assailed decision is reproduced
hereunder:

WHEREFORE, judgment is now rendered

1. ACQUITTING the accused IMELDA R. MARCOS and the


accused JOSE P. DANS, JR. of the charge in Criminal Case No.
17449, there being no manifest and gross disadvantage brought
about by the contract dated September 8, 1982;
2. ACQUITTING accused IMELDA R. MARCOS in Criminal Case
No. 17451, it not having been demonstrated that the Information
charging her had given her adequate notice of the acts for which
she could be held liable under the law;
3. ACQUITTING accused JOSE P. DANS, JR. in Criminal Case
No. 17452, it not having been demonstrated that the Information
charging him had given him adequate notice of the acts for which
he could be held liable under the law;
and considering that the charges against them have been proved
beyond reasonable doubt
4. CONVICTING accused IMELDA R. MARCOS and JOSE P.
DANS, JR. in Criminal Case No. 17450 under Sec. 3(g) of R.A.
No. 3019, otherwise known as the Anti-Graft and Corrupt
Practices Act, and hereby imposes upon each accused the
penalty of imprisonment for an indeterminate period of nine (9)
years and one (1) day as minimum to twelve (12) years and ten
(10) days as maximum.
Both accused shall also suffer the additional penalty of perpetual
disqualification from public office as provided in Sec. 9 of R.A.
No. 3019;
5. CONVICTING accused IMELDA R. MARCOS and JOSE P.
DANS, JR. in Criminal Case No. 17453 under Sec. 3(g) of R.A.
No. 3019, otherwise known as the Anti-Graft and Corrupt
Practices Act, and hereby imposes upon each accused the
penalty of imprisonment for the indeterminate period of nine (9)
years and one (1) day as minimum to twelve (12) years and ten
(10) days as maximum.
Both accused shall also suffer the additional penalty of perpetual
disqualification from public office as provided in Sec. 9 of R.A.
No. 3019.
The Ombudsman is given thirty (30) days from today within which to
make a determination of whether or not the other members of the
Board of Directors of the Light Rail Transit Authority during the relevant
periods with respect to the lease contracts dated June 8, 1984 and
June 18, 1984 executed by said Authority with the Philippine General
Hospital Foundation, Inc. may also be prosecuted under Sec. 3(g) of
R.A. No. 3019, and to report to this Court at the end of said period
whatever determination he has made including the steps intended to
be taken hereon towards a new preliminary investigation, if the same is
appropriate.
The bonds posted for the provisional liberty of accused IMELDA R.
MARCOS and accused JOSE P. DANS, JR. in Criminal Case No.
17449, No. 17451 and No. 17452 are hereby CANCELLED.
SO ORDERED.
Petitioners filed their respective motions for reconsideration of the courts decision on
October 8, 1993. The Office of the Solicitor General also filed a motion for partial
reconsideration on the same date, seeking civil indemnity for the People of the
Philippines. On November 13, 1996, respondent court promulgated two resolutions, one
denying the motion of Dans,[9] and another denying that of Marcos and modifying the
assailed September 24, 1993, decision with the addition of a sixth paragraph in the
dispositive portion which dealt with the civil liability of petitioners, viz.:[10]
6. Accused IMELDA R. MARCOS and JOSE P. DANS, JR. are hereby
ordered jointly and solidarily to reimburse the Light Railway Transit
Authority for the prejudice that they have caused to said Light Railway
Transit Authority through the lease contracts which they executed.
(a) Under Criminal Case No. 17450, the sum of THIRTY TWO
MILLION ONE HUNDRED SEVENTY TWO THOUSAND PESOS
(P32,172,000.00);
(b) Under Criminal Case No. 17453, the sum of NINETY TWO
MILLION TWO HUNDRED SIXTY EIGHT THOUSAND EIGHT
HUNDRED FORTY PESOS (P92,268,840.00).
Aggrieved, petitioners separately elevated their case to this Court for a review on the
following grounds:
G.R. No. 127073
I. Respondent Court erred in denying petitioners demurrer to evidence
in Criminal Case No. 17453 on the basis of baseless assumptions and
conjectures not established by evidence. Worse, in violation of
mandatory rules of evidence, the denial of the demurrer was made to
rest on the advance, conditional testimony of defense witness Ramon
Cuervo which had not yet been offered in evidence.
II. Respondent Court erred in concluding that the two lease contracts in
question were manifestly and grossly disadvantageous to the
government despite unrebutted evidence that their terms and
conditions were fair and reasonable and did not prejudice the
Government.
III. Respondent Court erred when it assumed without evidentiary basis
that LRTA had put up or would put up buildings on the leased land.
IV. Respondent Court erred in holding that the lease contracts were
also grossly disadvantageous to the Government because non-
payment of rentals . . . was not actionable unless the rentals were in
arrears for one year, citing the stipulation: Should there be a delay in
any payment of the rental consideration equivalent to one year, the
lessor shall have the right to take possession of the premises, the
property and improvements thereon, the ownership of all improvements
thereby accruing to the lessor. (Stip. II, par. 4).
V. Assuming without admitting that LRTA would receive less than fair
rental under the disputed lease contracts, respondent Court erred
when it considered injury to LRTA as necessarily an injury to the
Government, notwithstanding that such supposed injury to LRTA was
offset by the corresponding benefit enuring to the Philippine General
Hospital (a government hospital funded by government funds), which is
inconsistent with the theory that the disputed lease contracts were
disadvantageous to the Government. Under Sec. 3(g) of R.A. No. 3019
which seeks to protect public interest in general by condemning
contracts disadvantageous to the Government, the term government is
used in its widest sense so as to include the national government, the
government-owned and government-controlled corporations, and all
other instrumentalities or agencies of the Republic of the Philippines
and their branches. [Sec. 2(a)].
VI. While respondent Court was duty-bound to be just and impartial, it
failed to give petitioner a fair trial, who was thereby denied due process
of law. Respondent Court was plainly biased against, if not downright
hostile to, petitioner; it unfairly allied itself with the prosecution, which
made it prosecutor and judge at the same time.
VII. Aside from the foregoing, the appealed decision is flawed by fatal
infirmities which have effectively denied petitioner due process of law.
G.R. No. 126995
A. The questioned Decision is a nullity because Section 3 (g) of the
Anti-Graft and Corrupt Practices Act (RA 3019, as amended) is
unconstitutional for being, on its face, void for vagueness.
B. The questioned Decision is a nullity because Section 3 (g) of the
Anti-Graft and Corrupt Practices Act (RA 3019, as amended) is
unconstitutional for being a rider.
C. The questioned Decision is a nullity because the Informations in SB
Criminal Cases Nos. 17450 and 17453 did not state all the essential
facts constituting the offense but instead stated conclusions of law,
thereby denying the Petitioner her constitutional right to be informed of
the nature and the cause of the accusation against her (Sec. 14 (2), Bill
of Rights).
D. The questioned Decision is a nullity because the Information in said
SB Criminal Cases Nos. 17450 and 17453 charged only two of the total
number of members in the Board of Directors of the LRTA and the
Board of Directors of the PGH Foundation, who had participated in the
collective acts, thereby singling Petitioner and her companion for
discriminatory prosecution, in violation of her right to Equal Protection
of the Laws, which violation existed from the filing of the information
and cannot be cured by post hoc proceedings.
E. The questioned Decision is a nullity, because of the participation
therein of Mr. Justice Garchitorena, whose long-standing bias and
hostility towards President Marcos and Petitioner Imelda R. Marcos
prevented him from having the requisite cold neutrality of an impartial
judge, in violation of her right as an accused person to Procedural Due
Process of Law.
F. The questioned Decision is a nullity because Petitioner was denied
of her Constitutional Right to counsel.
1. Facts of record showing that Petitioner was deprived of and
denied her Right to Counsel.
2. Under the circumstances of record, the absence of counsel
resulting from imposition of suspension from the practice of law
upon her retained counsel, constituted deprivation of or denial of
the Right to Counsel.
3. Facts of record showing legal representation of Petitioner
Imelda Marcos was not adequate.
G. The questioned Decision is premature and had disregarded the
constitutional right of the Petitioner to present evidence in her
behalf. Her right to testify in her own behalf is a guaranteed right, the
exercise of which is her personal choice alone, and which counsel had
no authority to waive in her behalf. Besides, counsel being suspended,
he could not have made a waiver. This constitutional right to be heard
by himself and counsel she is invoking now, as part of her right to due
process (Sec. 14 (1) and (2), Bill of Rights).
H. The questioned Decision is a nullity for it was rendered in derogation
of Petitioners subsisting right to be heard and to submit evidence in her
defense. The finding of waiver is a prejudicial error. The evidence
thereof on the record is tenuous. A waiver by an accused person of the
right to be heard in her defense, including her right to testify in her own
behalf must be indubitable, and is valid only if personally exercised
through her own manifestation in open court.
I. The questioned Decision is a nullity because the crime charged was
not proven beyond a reasonable doubt, and the presumption of
innocence was not overcome, which is required by Due Process.

1. There was no disadvantage to the Government.

i. PGH Foundation is part of the Government.


ii. There was no disadvantage to the Government
because the PGH, which is part of the Government
benefitted.
iii. Facts of record, especially the questioned leases,
show no disadvantage.
iv. Conviction was based on pure speculation.
v. Respondent Sandiganbayan (First Division) erred in
holding the leases disadvantageous as to rental in
absence of evidence existing at the time that higher
rentals should have been paid.
vi. Respondent Sandiganbayan erred in holding that
rentals for sub-leases were evidence of disadvantage
when such sub-leases were made later and negotiated by
a charitable foundation deserving of support through
higher rentals.
2. Assuming arguendo alleged disadvantage, the same was not
manifest nor gross.
3. Petitioner Marcos did not enter into the questioned lease
contracts on behalf of the Government.
4. The charge of conspiracy was not proved hence no basis for
liability.
5. Conviction was based on weakness of defense evidence and
not (on) strength of prosecutions evidence.
J. The questioned Decision and Resolution are null and void because
the Respondent Sandiganbayan (First Division) acted without
jurisdiction in issuing the questioned Decision and Resolution since the
records clearly show that the Court with jurisdiction over these cases is
the Special Division of Five Justices created by Admin. Order 288-93
pursuant to Sec. 5 of PD 1606 as amended and not Respondent
Sandiganbayan (First Division).
The Court resolved to consolidate the two cases inasmuch as they raise similar
issues and seek the same reliefs. The questions may be stated thus:

1) Was respondent court correct in denying the demurrer to evidence of


petitioner Dans in Criminal Case No. 17453?

After the prosecution had rested its case, Dans filed a Motion to Dismiss (Demurrer
to Evidence) dated December 7, 1992, based on Section 15, Rule 119 of the Rules of
Court.[11] He argued that the prosecution failed to establish the fact that the lease
agreement covering the Sta. Cruz lot (Exhibit C) was manifestly and grossly
disadvantageous to the government.[12]
On February 10, 1993, the court a quo denied the said motion in this wise:

Since per testimony of witness Ramon Cuervo, Jr. (tsn, pp. 20 to 26, August
13, 1992) that considering the nature of the terminal at the Sta. Cruz Station,
which would be (the) subject of the lease contract between the Light Rail
Transit Authority and the PGH Foundation, Inc. (Exhibit C), the rental of the
premises in question could go up to P400,000.00 per month if the LRTA would
put up the building as against the stipulated rental of P92,437.00 actually
entered into between the parties, there would appear cause to believe that the
lease contract in question was grossly disadvantageous for (sic) the
government.

For this reason, the Demurrer to Evidence of accused Jose P. Dans, Jr.,
dated December 7, 1992, is DENIED for lack of merit.

Dans questioned the denial on the ground that the demurrer should have been
resolved solely on the basis of the prosecutions evidence; and even assuming that it could
be resolved using the evidence for the defense, the latter must have been previously
formally offered.[13]
These arguments are specious and must, therefore, be rejected.
Although a demurrer to evidence must be resolved based on the evidence of the
prosecution, there is nothing in the rules which would bar the court from taking cognizance
of any matter taken up during the trial or which has become part of the records of the
case, especially in this instance where the disputed evidence was taken in advance at
the request of the defendant himself. Additionally, it is erroneous to suppose that Cuervos
testimony was not formally offered at the time because (t)estimonial evidence is formally
offered by the calling of the witness to the stand.[14] Thus, we find merit in the manner by
which the trial court justified the denial of Dans demurrer to evidence,[15] viz.:
First, the advance testimony of Mr. Cuervo taken at the instance of Engr. Dans
on August 12 and 13, 1992, was already part of the record(s) in these cases
when the Demurrer to Evidence was filed by Engr. Dans on December 7,
1992. The testimony was introduced into the record in exactly the same manner
as any other testimony would be presented in evidence during trial. x x x.
Being already part of the record in these cases, the advance testimony
of Mr. Cuervo could be taken judicial notice of.
xxx xxx xxx
. . . . (J)udicial notice takes the place of proof and is of equal force. As a
means of establishing facts it is therefore superior to evidence. In its
appropriate field it displaces evidence since, as it stands for proof, it
fulfills the objects which the evidence is designed to fulfill and makes
evidence unnecessary. Consequently, the party desiring to establish
[16]

a fact is relieved, when judicial notice is taken of the fact, from


introducing evidence to prove it. [17]

Second, having been given in the course of the proceedings in these


cases, the testimony of Mr. Cuervo constitutes judicial admission of
Engr. Dans who made it part of the record of these cases.
xxx xxx xxx
As in judicial notice of a fact, admissions made in the course of the
judicial proceedings are substitutes for, and dispense with, the actual
proof of facts. The party benefited by the admission is relieved of the
[18]

duty of presenting evidence of the admitted fact and (t)he court, for the
proper decision of the case, may and should consider, without the
introduction of evidence, the fact admitted by the parties. [19]

Third, since the advance testimony of Mr. Cuervo was given in open
court and duly recorded, the Court could not just ignore the solemn
declarations therein on the technicality that the testimony had not been
formally offered in evidence. x x x.
In any event, even if the testimony of Cuervo were to be excluded, there was enough
evidence proffered by the prosecution, particularly Exhibits B (the lease agreement in
favor of the PGHFI) and D (the sublease agreement in favor of TNCC) which would have
more than justified the denial of the demurrer. In other words, notwithstanding Cuervos
testimony, these exhibits constitute solid documentary proof of petitioners liability under
Section 3(g) of R.A. No. 3019, as amended, as will be shown later in our discussion of
Issue No. 5, Was the evidence properly appreciated by respondent court?

2) Were the informations filed in Criminal Case Nos. 17450 and 17453
sufficient in form?

There appears to be no doubt that the questioned informations are reasonably


adequate as to apprise Marcos on the nature and cause of the accusations against her. In
the case of Luciano v. Estrella,[20] the Court had occasion to enumerate the elements of
the crime under Section 3(g), R.A. No. 3019, namely, (1) that the accused is a public
officer; (2) that he entered into a contract or transaction on behalf of the government; and
(3) that such contract or transaction is grossly and manifestly disadvantageous to the
government. The allegations in the two informations are hereby reproduced for quick
reference:
That on or about June 8 [18], 1984, and for sometime prior or
subsequent thereto, in Makati, Metro Manila, Philippines, and within the
jurisdiction of this Honorable Court, the accused IMELDA R. MARCOS
and JOSE P. DANS, JR., public officers, being then the Chairman and
Vice-Chairman, respectively, of the Light Rail Transit Authority (LRTA),
a government corporate entity created under Executive Order No. 603
of the former President Ferdinand E. Marcos, while in the performance
of their official functions, taking advantage of their positions and
committing the crime in relation to their offices, did then and there
wilfully, unlawfully and criminally conspiring with one another, enter on
behalf of the aforesaid government corporation into a Lease
Agreement covering LRTA property located in Pasay City [Sta. Cruz,
Manila], with the Philippine General Hospital Foundation, Inc. (PGHFI),
a private enterprise, under terms and conditions manifestly and grossly
disadvantageous to the government. (Underscoring supplied)
[21]

As can be readily observed, the informations meet the minimum requirements


for them to be upheld in court.
It is also alleged that for a criminal complaint or information to sufficiently inform the
accused of the nature and cause of the accusation against him, all the essential facts
constituting the offense must be stated therein, and not mere conclusions of law. [22]
Assuming that the matters which Marcos wanted to see alleged in the informations
are not evidentiary in character, and that they are really vague and ambiguous, other
courses of action could have been taken, such as filing a motion for a bill of
particulars. This is what the Court precisely suggested in People v. Arlegui,[23] viz.:
. . . A bill of particulars while provided for under Section 6 of Rule 116
is not a popular procedure among lawyers for the accused in criminal
cases. For one thing, it may invite an amended information which is not
only clearer but may also be stronger and more
incriminating. However, it would have clarified and corrected at an early
stage the kind of doubt which the accused in this particular case
alleged to have entertained. Section 6 of Rule 116 provides:
SEC. 6. Bill of Particulars. -- Defendant may, at any time on or
before arraignment, move for or demand a more definite
statement or a bill of particulars of any matter which is not
averred with sufficient definiteness or particularity to enable him
properly to plead or prepare for trial. The motion shall point out
the defects complained of and the details desired. [24]

The more appropriate procedure under the circumstances would have


been an order from the court directing the Fiscal to amend the
information because the defect, if there ever was one, was curable by
the simplest of amendments or clarifications. (Underscoring supplied)
In fact, the records reveal that Marcos did file such a motion.[25] After the prosecution had
filed its answer thereto, she was given an opportunity to file a reply, but she did not,
thereby indicating that she was satisfied with what was already stated in the answer.

3) Is Section 3(g), R.A. No. 3019, as amended, constitutional?

The validity of this provision is being assailed by petitioner Marcos on grounds of


vagueness and superfluity. She claims that the phrase manifestly and grossly
disadvantageous to the government is vague for it does not set a definite standard by
which the court will be guided, thus, leaving it open to human subjectivity.
There is, however, nothing vague about the statute. The assailed provision answers
the basic query What is the violation? Anything beyond this, the hows and the whys, are
evidentiary matters which the law itself cannot possibly disclose in view of the uniqueness
of every case. The disadvantage in this instance is something that still has to be
addressed by the States evidence as the trial progresses. It may be said that the law is
intended to be flexible in order to allow the judge a certain latitude in determining if the
disadvantage to the government occasioned by the act of a public officer in entering into
a particular contract is, indeed, gross and manifest.
The personal circumstances of an accused are, in this regard, also immaterial,
because of the nature of the statute. As the Court declared in Luciano,[26]
. . . In other words, the act treated thereunder partakes of the nature of
a malum prohibitum; it is the commission of that act as defined by the
law, not the character or effect thereof, that determines whether or not
the provision has been violated. And this construction would be in
consonance with the announced purpose for which Republic Act (No.)
3019 was enacted, which is the repression of certain acts of public
officers and private persons constituting graft or corrupt practices or
which may lead thereto. Note that the law does not merely contemplate
repression of acts that are unlawful or corrupt per se, but even of those
that may lead to or result in graft and corruption. Thus, to require for
conviction under the Anti-Graft and Corrupt Practices Act that the
validity of the contract or transaction be first proved would be to
enervate, if not defeat, the intention of the Act.
We, therefore, affirm the constitutionality of Section 3(g) of R.A No. 3019, as
amended.

4) Was petitioner Marcos deprived of her constitutional right to be heard by


herself or counsel?

Marcos claims that she was not adequately represented by counsel at the trial due to
the suspension from the practice of law of her counsel of record, Atty. Antonio Coronel. It
appears from the records, however, that during the absence of Atty. Coronel and
sometime thereafter, she was still represented by other lawyers, including Renato Dilag,
Luis Sillano, Perfecto V. Fernandez, Jose and Cristobal Fernandez, Vicente D. Millora,
Juan T. David, Balbino Diego, and the law firm of Manuel M. Lazaro and Associates. The
representation of Atty. Millora and the Fernandezes subsisted even in this Court, where
they were later substituted by Atty. Estelito Mendoza. In any event, at the time Atty.
Coronel and his replacements withdrew their respective appearances, all evidence had
already been presented. It is just that Marcos opted not to present any evidence for her
defense, relying, perhaps, on what she perceived to be glaringly weak prosecution
evidence. Or it is not impossible or far-fetched that her refusal may have been due to her
indifference to or open defiance of the justice system.

5) Was the evidence properly appreciated by respondent court?


In proclaiming his innocence, Dans relied only on his and Cuervos testimony. Marcos,
on the other hand, presented no evidence at all, claiming that she had been prejudged
by respondent court. The prosecution submitted documentary evidence and nothing
else. The question that must first be answered, therefore, is: Was the States evidence
sufficient to prove beyond a shadow of a doubt that the accused, petitioners herein,
committed the crimes for which they were held accountable?
Petitioners were charged with and found guilty of violating Section 3(g) of R.A. No.
3019, as amended. It states thus:
SEC. 3. Corrupt practices of public officers. -- In addition to acts or
omissions of public officers already penalized by existing law, the
following shall constitute corrupt practices of any public officer and are
hereby declared to be unlawful:
xxx xxx xxx
(g) Entering, on behalf of the Government, into any contract or
transaction manifestly and grossly disadvantageous to the same,
whether or not the public officer profited or will profit thereby.
It is clear that for liability to attach under the aforequoted provision, the public officer
concerned must have entered into a contract which is manifestly and grossly
disadvantageous to the Government. The court a quo phrased the focal issue in these
petitions in this wise: (A)re exhibits A, B and C, the Lease Agreements executed by the
LRTA with the PGH Foundation over the LRT property at the stations in Pasay City and
Sta. Cruz (Manila) manifestly and grossly disadvantageous to the government?
A perusal of the prosecutions documentary evidence would readily reveal, even from
a laymans perspective, that the Government was seriously prejudiced in the transactions
under review.
We concur with the observation of the court a quo that, by itself, Exhibit A, the mother
contract which initially granted the PGHFI a virtual exclusive license or franchise over the
subject properties, would neither be prejudicial (n)or beneficial to anybody, because it did
not refer to any specific property or consideration. Hence, petitioners were correctly
acquitted in Criminal Case No. 17449, which was based on this agreement.
With regard to Criminal Case Nos. 17450 and 17453, the Court is likewise
constrained to agree with the trial court that the Government suffered a manifest and
gross disadvantage with the execution of the two lease agreements, Exhibits B and
C. The facts in this regard are undisputed.
The monthly rental price agreed upon between the LRTA and the PGHFI for the lease
of the Pasay lot was P102,760.00, and for the Sta. Cruz lot, it was P92,437.20. Barely ten
days later, the very same properties were subleased by PGHFI to private entities
for P734,000.00 (for the Pasay lot) and P199,710.00 (for the Sta. Cruz lot). The difference
in the lease price is too enormous to ignore, for no market force could possibly have
raised the rental cost in the same site by that margin in just over a week. Even by
conservative estimates, the properties could have originally been leased out for at
least P500,000.00[27] more. The Government was thereby deprived of at least an
additional half a million pesos per month.
Indubitably, there was some kind of conflict of interest in the premises. Marcos and
Dans, who were then Cabinet members, occupied the highest positions in the Boards of
the LRTA and the PGHFI in a concurrent capacity at the time the questioned deals were
made. They were, as it were, playing both ends; but on paper, one was acting for the
lessor and the other for the lessee. The fact that petitioners were cleared of the charge
that they acted improperly in accepting seats in the PGHFI Board of Trustees at the time
when it had pending business transactions with the LRTA, of which they were also officers
is of no moment. First, their acquittal in Criminal Case No. 17451 and No. 17452 was
simply due to the insufficiency of the informations. Second, the accusation in said
informations have no bearing whatsoever on the subject matter of the other cases filed
against them as signatories to the assailed lease agreements. Even Justice Garchitorena
had occasion to advert to this conflict of interest in his resolution of November 13, 1996. [28]
The focus now shifts to the testimony of defense witness Ramon Cuervo. An
examination of the pleadings filed in these petitions, including all their attachments, would
demonstrate the confusion sown by Cuervos expert opinion. Petitioners insist that Cuervo
confirmed their allegation that the lease price stated in the questioned agreements was a
fair valuation based on the comparative rental costs in the immediate vicinity of the subject
properties. This inference was drawn from Cuervos calculation of the fair monthly rental
value of the Pasay lot at P73,400.00[29] and the Sta. Cruz lot at P80,825.64,[30] using
standard appraisal techniques in the industry.
The court, on the other hand, interpreted his testimony differently and arrived at a
much higher valuation, that is, P210,000.00 a month for the Pasay lot and P400,000.00
monthly for the Sta. Cruz lot.
In view of this conflict in opinion, with petitioners and respondent court holding
steadfast to their respective interpretations of Cuervos testimony, this Court has no
alternative but to fall back on the documentary evidence.
Dans, in his motion to dismiss dated December 7, 1992, actually made an implied
recognition that the prosecution was able to establish the manifest and gross
disadvantage to the government brought about by the lease agreement over the Pasay
lot (Exhibit B), when he raised no objection to the presentation by the prosecution of the
sublease agreement between the PGHFI and TNCC over the same property (Exhibit
D). Just as he read the lease and sublease agreements over the Sta. Cruz lot (Exhibits
C and E) together in order to demonstrate to the court that the prosecutions evidence in
Criminal Case No. 17453 was weak, Exhibit B must also be appreciated in connection
with Exhibit D so that the gross and manifest disadvantage to the government in Criminal
Case No. 17450 can be established.
It must be noted that Dans objected vigorously to Exhibit E on the ground that it was
a mere photocopy of the original. Despite diligent efforts to locate an original duplicate or
an authentic copy, the prosecution could not produce one, so that as to Dans, said exhibit
was not admitted. The same cannot be said of Marcos who never challenged the
authenticity of Exhibit E, although she contested the validity of her signature thereon as
representative of the PGHFI, the lessor.
For a better appreciation of the evidence at hand, the lease agreements (Exhibits B
and C) must be read simultaneously with the sublease agreements (Exhibits D and
E). While Dans signed the lease agreements in behalf of the LRTA, he apparently had no
hand in the ensuing sublease of the properties, as indicated by the absence of his
signature from the two subsequent agreements. Marcos, on the other hand, represented
the PGHFI twice, first in the lease contract and later in the sublease agreements. Within
the very brief period of time that separated the lease and the sublease of the LRTAs prime
lots, Marcos inevitably generated a situation where the LRTA, a government
corporation,[31] lost out to the PGHFI, a private enterprise[32] headed by Marcos herself.
But, considering that there is an allegation of conspiracy in the informations, the
sufficiency of which we have earlier upheld, should the liability of Dans be the same as
that of Marcos?
The court a quo entertained no doubt that the prosecutions evidence amply
established a conspiracy between Dans and Marcos, thus:
. . . ., (T)he avowed purpose of both accused in entering into the Lease
Agreements was not to earn additional income for the use of the LRTA
in its operations, but to give financial assistance to the PGHF in the
pursuit of its charitable objectives.
xxx xxx xxx
This expressly admitted purpose explains why the rentals stipulated in
the Lease Agreements were so low that when compared with the
rentals provided in the Sub-Lease Agreements, the latter deceivingly
appear, to borrow the words of Mr. Cuervo, to be extra-ordinarily
high. To have fixed much higher rentals would have been to reduce the
income which both the accused would like the PGHF to earn from the
lease contracts. And the rentals in the Lease Agreements all the more
became very low in light of the fact that the Agreement for the
development of the areas adjacent to the LRT stations was without any
valuable consideration. [33]

xxx xxx xxx


In these cases, Engr. Dans and Mrs. Marcos had a common objective,
namely, to lease in favor of the PGHF the Pasay City and Sta. Cruz
properties under such terms and conditions so favorable to the PGHF
as to result in manifest and gross disadvantage to the LRTA. This
common purpose they pursued together and in concert with each
other, being in the position to do so because they were both ranking
officials of the LRTA and the PGHF.
Thus, on September 8, 1982, avowedly desirous to extend financial
support to the PGHF (not to the PGH), Engr. Dans, representing the
LRTA, and Mrs. Marcos, as chairman of the PGHF, executed an
agreement wherein without any valuable consideration, the latter was
granted (exclusive) authority to develop areas adjacent to the LRT
stations and to operate commercial concessions therein.
In furtherance of their common design and pursuant to their intention to
financially benefit the PGHF, Engr. Dans and Mrs. Marcos, acting in
their said representative capacities, entered into a Lease Agreement
on June 8, 1984, over the Pasay City area for P102,760.00 a month
and another Lease Agreement ten days later over the Sta. Cruz Area
for P92,437.20 per month. As already demonstrated, the monthly
rentals and other stipulations in both contracts placed the LRTA in a
manifestly and grossly disadvantageous position.
Engr. Dans and Mrs. Marcos were, therefore, both co-conspirators for
having acted in conspiracy with each other and co-principals by direct
participation for having taken direct part in the execution of the acts
charged. Engr. Dans could not have committed the offenses without
Mrs. Marcos and vice-versa. [34]

While these observations cannot be said to be flawed, they were made only after the
trial, in fact, after the assailed decision was promulgated, and these conclusions are the
courts alone. The prosecution never attempted to establish a connection between the two
defendants in committing the acts for which they were charged. It is a fundamental rule,
however, that a charge of conspiracy must be proven just like any other criminal
accusation, that is, independently and beyond reasonable doubt.[35] In this regard,
therefore, this Courts opinion that the alleged conspiracy between the petitioners was not
sufficiently established by the States evidence.

6) Were the members of the Sandiganbayans First Division biased against


petitioners? Consequently, is the assailed decision dated September 24,
1993, valid?

Petitioners consider erroneous the active participation of the members of the


Sandiganbayans First Division during the hearing of Cuervos testimony. The records
reveal that, indeed, the court a quo may have participated more actively than usual in the
examination of Cuervo in order to elicit from him the information that would nail down the
prosecutions basic theory, thus rendering unassailable the conclusions which are now
being impugned by petitioners who argue that the extensive questioning of
Cuervo[36] made the Sandiganbayan, particularly Justice Garchitorena, not only a judge,
but a prosecutor as well.
To be sure, instead of being satisfied with Cuervos testimonial affirmation of what it
had all along considered to be the fair rental value of the properties, the court a quo relied
on his responses to numerous postulated queries thereby concluding there was a gross
disparity in the lease price, as agreed upon by the parties, and the projected rental price,
as estimated by Cuervo. Indeed, if the trial courts conclusions were to be followed, the
Pasay lot should fetch a monthly rental of P210,000.00 and the Sta. Cruz
lot, P400,000.00. These figures are extrapolated from the potential rental price of the lots,
considering its location.
Petitioners point out that the limitations on the right of judges to ask questions during
the trial were not observed by the Sandiganbayan. They accuse Justice Garchitorena of
acting more of a prosecutor than the impartial judge he is supposed to be, particularly
during the examination of Cuervo. Lest we be distracted by this allegation of bias on the
part of respondent court, it must be remembered that petitioners were never prejudiced
by such questioning,[37] which is about the only thing that would make a string of queries
by a judge objectionable. As the following discussion will reveal, the trial courts
interpretation of Cuervos testimony is immaterial because of the sufficiency of the
documentary evidence of the prosecution to prove the charges against herein petitioners.
In view of the circumstances obtaining here, we find that the trial courts active role in
this regard was necessary to clarify the mostly technical aspect of Cuervos
testimony. Respondent court defended its action by declaring that:
It was precisely for the reason that Mr. Cuervo was merely asked by
Engr. Dans lawyer as to the fair and reasonable rentals of the leased
premises as without improvements, without the LRT stations being
adjacent thereto, and not parts of commercial centers, that the Court,
through Presiding Justice Garchitorena, was constrained to propound
questions on the fair and reasonable rentals of the leased areas by
considering them as not ordinary parcels of land. [38]

The Court notes that while petitioners have been making such an outcry since the
promulgation of the questioned judgment regarding the line of questioning followed by
respondent court, none of them ever objected to such queries during the trial. Neither did
they attempt to salvage the situation by asking questions on re-direct examination if they
harbored the impression that the courts cross-examination seriously prejudiced their
case. This observation was likewise made by the court a quo, to wit:
It is now too late in the day to object to the alleged leading, misleading,
and badgering questions of the Presiding Justice Garchitorena and to
ask (the court) to expunge the answers thereto from the
record. Needless to say, Engr. Dans (and Marcos, for that matter)
should have done so when the supposed objectionable nature of the
questions and/or answers were propounded or given. (Section 36, Rule
132, 1985 Rules on Evidence). As it happened, he (and she) did not
even raise his (and her) objections at the close of the testimony of Mr.
Cuervo. He (and she) did not also ask re-direct questions to correct
whatever mistakes or misimpressions allegedly crept into Mr. Cuervos
testimony. Instead, he formally offered the entire testimony without
making any exceptions or reservations. [39]

We should stress that in affirming the conviction of petitioner Marcos, this Court relies
mainly on the prosecutions documentary evidence showing the chasmic disparity
between the P102,760.00 monthly rental stipulated in Exhibit B and the P734,000.00
monthly rental provided in Exhibit D. The testimony of Cuervo is, at best, opinion only, but
the amounts mentioned in the said two exhibits are facts which cannot be altered by
opinion, however expert. Regardless of Cuervos expert opinion on the probable rental
rate of the Pasay lot, the stubborn fact and cold reality is that the PGHFI was able to lease
it out for an amount that was seven times more than what it stipulated to pay the
government. The sublease (Exhibit D) is the best monument to the gross and manifest
disadvantage suffered by the government due to the willful actions of Marcos. Hence,
even if the questions of Justice Garchitorena and the answers thereto of Cuervo were
totally ignored by this Court, the prosecutions evidence would still firmly stand, and would
definitely be more than sufficient to warrant a conviction beyond reasonable doubt.
Going further, petitioners insist that some impropriety attended the promulgation of
the challenged decision. This allegation stems from the dissolution of the Special Division
earlier created by Justice Garchitorena because of the lack of unanimity among the
members of the First Division.
It appears from the records that Justice Narciso T. Atienza initially wanted to acquit
the defendants in Criminal Case Nos. 17449, 17451 and 17452, while Justices
Garchitorena and Balajadia wanted to convict them in Criminal Case Nos. 17450, 17451,
17452 and 17453. There was, therefore, no unanimous vote in Criminal Case Nos. 17451
and 17452. Thereupon, aSpecial Division was constituted, with the addition of Justices
Augusto M. Amores and Cipriano A. del Rosario. Over an informal luncheon among the
members of the newly-created Special Division,[40] however, where the merits of the cases
were incidentally discussed, an understanding was reached whereby the two newly-
appointed members agreed with Justice Atienza that the defendants should be cleared
of the charges in Criminal Case Nos. 17451 and 17452. The stance of those present was
that if the actual voting were to take place, the majority would acquit the defendants in
Criminal Case Nos. 17451 and 17452. Consequently, Justices Garchitorena and
Balajadia decided to change their opinions in said two cases, thus giving the First Division
a unanimous vote in all the cases. There seemed to be no further need for the Special
Division; hence, it was dissolved. The result is the assailed decision promulgated, as
scheduled, on September 24, 1993.
Petitioners point out that once the Special Division was created, the First Division was
thereby divested of jurisdiction to decide the case. They also maintain that the informal
discussion of the merits of the cases inside a restaurant was unofficial business and,
therefore, should have no binding effect.
While it is true that under Section 5 of Presidential Decree No. 1606, as amended,
when a unanimous vote is not reached by a division, two other justices shall be
designated by the Presiding Justice to sit in a special division, and their majority vote shall
be required to reach a valid verdict, this provision does not totally rule out a situation
where all members of the 3-justice division eventually come to a common agreement to
reach a unanimous decision, thus, making another divisions participation in these cases
redundant. This is exactly what transpired in this case. The change of heart of Justices
Garchitorena and Balajadia, though reached unofficially, may be perceived as a
supervening event which rendered the Special Divisions functions superfluous. In any
case, the fact that Justice Atienza signed his concurrence cured the defect, if any, in the
questioned judgment; again, an illustration of the curative effect of ones
signature. Petitioners are of the impression that this chain of events was meant to railroad
their conviction, thus making the magistrates concerned vulnerable to criticism.While the
Court is averse to encouraging this kind of behavior in judges, it is of the view, however,
that the assailed decision is in harmony with the basic right of an accused to a speedy
disposition of his case. This, to our mind, is more important than any consideration of
technical impropriety in resolving a case.
Summing up, was the guilt of petitioners proved beyond a reasonable doubt by the
prosecution?
We distinguish.
In Criminal Case No. 17453, we do not concur with the conclusions reached by the
court a quo. The culpability of petitioners in this case stems from their entering into the
lease agreement (Exhibit C) over the Sta. Cruz lot under terms and conditions manifestly
and grossly disadvantageous to the government, which, in this instance, is the LRTA. To
prove this assertion, the prosecution presented in evidence the sublease agreement
(Exhibit E) over the same property showing the disparity in the rental price. While the
authenticity of Exhibit D, which was used to prove the manifest and gross disadvantage
to the government occasioned by Exhibit B, was admitted by the court and by the parties
themselves, the validity of Exhibit E cannot, even up to this point, be determined with
certainty because it is a mere uncertified photocopy of the original. Thus, the gross and
manifest disadvantage to the government, which Exhibit E was supposed to engender,
remains an allegation which cannot be proved by other direct evidence. The fact that only
Dans objected to its admissibility does not mean that it is valid as to Marcos. As a result,
both petitioners should be, as they are hereby, acquitted in Criminal Case No. 17453 on
ground of reasonable doubt.
In Criminal Case No. 17450, we must further qualify our judgment.
As regards petitioner Dans, the Court is of the opinion that the prosecution failed to
prove his guilt in committing the offenses charged beyond a reasonable doubt. We
believe that his liability, if any, could only stem from a knowledge of the terms of the
sublease agreements, Exhibits D and E, which formed the core of the Courts appraisal of
the manifest and gross disadvantage to the government. Exhibit E, as already discussed,
was correctly disregarded by the court a quo for being unauthenticated. Even though he
was a Board Director of the PGHFI, Dans denied any knowledge of the execution of
Exhibits D and E, and his denial was never disproved by the prosecution. In fact, his
signature does not appear in either sublease agreements. Neither was the alleged
conspiracy between him and Marcos established by the prosecution.
It is this Courts opinion, however, that the guilt of petitioner Marcos was proved by
the State beyond reasonable doubt. She was charged with violation of Section 3(g) of
R.A. No. 3019, as amended, for executing a lease agreement (Exhibit B) in behalf of the
PGHFI, a private enterprise of which she was the Chairman, over a lot located in Pasay
City owned by the LRTA, a government corporation of which she was undeniably also the
Chairman. The consideration therefor was shown to be unfair and unreasonable upon
comparison with the rental price stipulated in the sublease agreement (Exhibit D) which
she subsequently signed for the PGHFI in favor of TNCC. That she should be held
responsible is shown by the presence of her signature in Exhibits A to E, where she acts
in different capacities. She cannot, under these circumstances, claim ignorance of the
great disparity between the rental price stipulated in the lease and the sublease
agreements. Consequently, in Criminal Case No. 17450, the conviction of petitioner
Marcos should be, as it is hereby, upheld.
Finally, the Court observes that the Sandiganbayan awarded damages to the People
in the amount of P32,172,000.00 in Criminal Case No. 17450 and P92,268,840.00 in
Criminal Case No. 17453. This must be accordingly corrected.
Considering that petitioners were acquitted in Criminal Case No. 17453 due to lack
of evidence, the Court deems them likewise free from any civil liability since the fact from
which such liability might arise no longer exists.[41]
On the other hand, in Criminal Case No. 17450, the Court observes that an error has
been committed in the computation of the damages to be awarded to the People. The
trial court based its figures on the amount it perceived to be the fair rental value of the
Pasay lot, as estimated by Cuervo, less the rental price stated in Exhibit B. Thus, it
deducted P102,760.00 (the stipulated monthly rental for the Pasay lot) from P210,000.00
(Cuervos estimate, as interpreted by the court a quo) to arrive at a difference
of P107,240.00, which was multiplied by 12 months to reach an annual loss
of P1,286,880.00.[42] This amount was then multiplied by the life span of the lease contract,
which is 25 years, to come up with the final award of P32,172,000.00.[43]
Since the estimates of Cuervo were found to be mere estimates, it is difficult to
imagine why the trial court used them as basis for its calculation of damages. As we have
already demonstrated, the gross and manifest disadvantage to the government in
Criminal Case No. 17450 was determined by comparing Exhibits B and D. The conviction
of Marcos was predicated on the nexus between these two documents, as well as on her
obvious conflict of interest in entering into them. By the same token, her civil liability must
also be made to depend on these two pieces of evidence. The correct figures should be
those stated in Exhibits B and D, to wit: P734,000.00 (the stipulated monthly sublease
rental for the Pasay lot) less P102,760.00 (the agreed monthly lease price for said
property) times 12 months times 25 years. Thus, P734,000.00 - P102,760.00
= P631,240.00 x 12 months = P7,574,880.00 x 25 years= P189,372,000.00.
WHEREFORE, judgment is hereby rendered:

1) AFFIRMING the CONVICTION of petitioner Imelda R. Marcos in Criminal


Case No. 17450, with the modification that said petitioner is hereby ordered to
pay the Light Rail Transit Authority (LRTA) the amount of ONE HUNDRED
EIGHTY-NINE MILLION, THREE HUNDRED SEVENTY-TWO THOUSAND
PESOS (P189,372,000.00), as and by way of reimbursement for the prejudice
caused thereto resulting from the execution of the lease contract dated June
8, 1984; and

2) REVERSING the CONVICTION of petitioner Imelda R. Marcos in Criminal


Case No. 17453 and of petitioner Jose P. Dans, Jr. in Criminal Case No.
17450 and No. 17453, on ground of reasonable doubt.

Costs against petitioners.


SO ORDERED.

NAVA vs. PALATTAO


G.R. No. 160211
August 28, 2006

FACTS:

An amount of P603,265.00 was released to the DECS for distribution to the newly
nationalized high schools located within the region. Through the initiative of
accused Venancio Nava, a meeting was called among his seven (7) schools
division superintendents whom he persuaded to use the money or allotment for
the purchase of Science Laboratory Tools and Devices (SLTD). In other words,
instead of referring the allotment to the one hundred fifty-five (155) heads of the
nationalized high schools for the improvement of their facilities, accused Nava
succeeded in persuading his seven (7) schools division superintendents to use
the allotment for the purchase of science education facilities.

In the purchase of the school materials, the law provides that the same shall be
done through a public bidding. But in the instant case, evidence shows that
accused Nava persuaded his seven (7) schools division superintendents to ignore
the circular.

Sandiganbayan found petitioner guilty of violating Section 3(g) of the Anti-


Graft and Corrupt Practices Act, or entering on behalf of the government any
contract or transaction manifestly and grossly disadvantageous to the latter,
whether or not the public officer profited or would profit thereby.

ISSUE:

Whether or not petitioner is guilty of of violating Section 3(g) of the Anti-Graft


and Corrupt Practices Act. (YES)
HELD:

YES, petitioner is guilty of of violating Section 3(g) of the Anti-Graft and


Corrupt Practices Act.

For a charge under Section 3(g) to prosper, the following elements must be
present:
1) that the accused is a public officer;
2) that he entered into a contract or transaction on behalf of the
government; and
3) that such contract or transaction is grossly and manifestly
disadvantageous to the government.

Petitioner is a public officer, who approved the transactions on behalf of the


government, which thereby suffered a substantial loss. The discrepancy between
the prices of the SLTDs purchased by the DECS and the samples purchased by
the COA audit team clearly established such undue injury. Indeed, the
discrepancy was grossly and manifestly disadvantageous to the government.

The law on public bidding is not an empty formality. It aims to secure the lowest
possible price and obtain the best bargain for the government. It is based on the
principle that under ordinary circumstances, fair competition in the market tends
to lower prices and eliminate favouritism.

We must emphasize however, that the lack of a public bidding and the
violation of an administrative order do not by themselves satisfy the third
element of Republic Act No. 3019. Lack of public bidding alone does not
result in a manifest and gross disadvantage. Indeed, the absence of a public
bidding may mean that the government was not able to secure the lowest bargain
in its favor and may open the door to graft and corruption. Nevertheless, the law
requires that the disadvantage must be manifest and gross. Penal laws are
strictly construed against the government.

LIBRADO M. CABRERA, FE M. CABRERA and LUTHER


LEONOR, petitioners, vs. THE HONORABLE SANDIGANBAYAN
(FOURTH DIVISION) and FRANCO P. CASANOVA, respondents.

DECISION
CALLEJO, SR., J.:
Before us is a petition for certiorari under Rule 65 of the Rules of Court with
a prayer for the writ of preliminary injunction and/or temporary restraining order
for the nullification of the Resolution[1] of the Sandiganbayan denying the motion
to quash the Informations filed by the petitioners who were the accused in
Criminal Cases Nos. 27555 to 27558, for violation of Section 3(e) of Republic
Act No. 3019, and its resolution denying their motion for reconsideration.

The Antecedents

On July 23, 2002, four (4) Informations were filed with the Sandiganbayan
charging the petitioners, Librado M. Cabrera, his wife Fe M. Cabrera, and
Luther Leonor, with violation of Section 3(e) of Rep. Act No. 3019. The docket
numbers of the cases and the accusatory portion of each of the Informations
respectively read:

Criminal Case No. 27555

That for the period from January 30, 1998 to June 30, 1998, or sometime prior or
subsequent thereto, in the Municipality of Taal, Province of Batangas, Philippines,
and within the jurisdiction of this Honorable Court, above-named accused LIBRADO
M. CABRERA and LUTHER LEONOR, both public officers, being then the
Municipal Mayor and Municipal Councilor, respectively, of the Municipality of Taal,
Batangas, committing the offense herein charged, in conspiracy and connivance with
each other and in relation to their office, taking advantage of their official position,
and through manifest partiality, evident bad faith or gross inexcusable negligence, did
then and there willfully, unlawfully and criminally give unwarranted benefits to
Diamond Laboratories, Inc. (DLI), a corporation owned by the relatives by
consanguinity of the accused LIBRADO M. CABRERA, by directly purchasing
medicines on several occasions only from the said Diamond Laboratories, Inc.
without the benefit of public bidding or canvass from different duly-licensed
manufacturers, thereby depriving the Municipality of Taal, Batangas the opportunity
to avail of a better price of the same quality of supplies, in the total amount of FIVE
HUNDRED THREE THOUSAND NINE HUNDRED TWENTY PESOS &
THIRTY-FIVE CENTAVOS (P503,920.35), with accused LUTHER LEONOR,
who, in conspiracy and connivance with accused LIBRADO M. CABRERA, acted as
the authorized representative of Diamond Laboratories, Inc. despite his being a
Municipal Councilor of Taal, Batangas, by receiving all payments due and on behalf
of the Diamond Laboratories, Inc. and by signing all pertinent documents of the
transactions, at the same time cause undue injury to the Municipality of Taal,
Batangas, to the Government as a whole and to public interest.
CONTRARY TO LAW.[2]

Criminal Case No. 27556

That for the period from March 13, 1998 to June 22, 1998, or sometime prior or
subsequent thereto, in the Municipality of Taal, Province of Batangas, Philippines,
and within the jurisdiction of this Honorable Court, above-named accused LIBRADO
M. CABRERA, a public officer, being then the Municipal Mayor of Taal, Batangas,
committing the offense herein charged in relation to his office, taking advantage of his
official position, and through manifest partiality evident bad faith or gross inexcusable
negligence, did then and there willfully, unlawfully and criminally cause undue injury
to the Municipality of Taal, Batangas, to the Government as a whole and to public
interest, at the same time, give unwarranted benefits to himself by reimbursing,
collecting and appropriating for himself, the aggregate amount of TWENTY-SEVEN
THOUSAND SIX HUNDRED FIFTY-ONE PESOS & EIGHTY-THREE
CENTAVOS (P27,651.83) from the Municipal coffers of Taal, Batangas, representing
his expenses incurred during his unauthorized and illegal travels, to the damage and
prejudice of the Municipality of Taal, Batangas, to the Government as a whole and to
public interest in the said amount of P27,651.83.

CONTRARY TO LAW.[3]

Criminal Case No. 27557

That for the period from July 28, 1998 to July 6, 1999, or sometime prior or
subsequent thereto, in the Municipality of Taal, Province of Batangas, Philippines,
and within the jurisdiction of this Honorable Court, above-named accused FE M.
CABRERA and LUTHER LEONOR, both public officers, being then the Municipal
Mayor and Municipal Councilor, respectively, of the Municipality of Taal, Batangas,
committing the offense herein charged, in conspiracy and connivance with each other
and in relation to their office, taking advantage of their official position, and through
manifest partiality, evident bad faith or gross inexcusable negligence, did then and
there willfully, unlawfully and criminally give unwarranted benefits to Diamond
Laboratories, Inc. (DLI), a corporation owned by the relatives by affinity of the
accused FE M. CABRERA, by directly purchasing medicines on several occasions
only from the said Diamond Laboratories, Inc. without the benefit of public bidding or
canvass from different duly-licensed manufacturers, thereby depriving the
Municipality of Taal, Batangas the opportunity to avail of a better price of the same
quality of supplies, in the total amount of ONE MILLION FORTY-TWO
THOUSAND NINE HUNDRED TWO PESOS & FORTY-SIX CENTAVOS
(P1,042,902.46), with accused LUTHER LEONOR, who, in conspiracy and
connivance with accused FE M. CABRERA, acted as the authorized representative of
Diamond Laboratories, Inc. despite his being a Municipal Councilor of Taal,
Batangas, by receiving all payments due and on behalf of the Diamond Laboratories,
Inc. and by signing all pertinent documents of the transactions, at the same time cause
undue injury to the Municipality of Taal, Batangas, to the Government as a whole and
to public interest.

CONTRARY TO LAW.[4]

Criminal Case No. 27558

That for the period from August 31, 1998 to September 1, 1999, or sometime prior or
subsequent thereto, in the Municipality of Taal, Province of Batangas, Philippines,
and within the jurisdiction of this Honorable Court, above-named accused FE M.
CABRERA, a public officer, being then the Municipal Mayor of Taal, Batangas,
committing the offense herein charged in relation to her office, taking advantage of
her official position, and through manifest partiality, evident bad faith or gross
inexcusable negligence, did then and there willfully, unlawfully and criminally cause
undue injury to the Municipality of Taal, Batangas, to the Government as a whole and
to public interest, at the same time, give unwarranted benefits to herself by
reimbursing, collecting and appropriating for herself, the aggregate amount of ONE
HUNDRED SEVENTY THOUSAND NINE HUNDRED EIGHTY-SEVEN PESOS
& SIXTY-SIX CENTAVOS (P170,987.66) from the Municipal coffers of Taal,
Batangas, representing her expenses incurred during her unauthorized and illegal
travels, to the damage and prejudice of the Municipality of Taal, Batangas, to the
Government as a whole and to public interest in the said amount of P27,651.83.

CONTRARY TO LAW.[5]

On August 7, 2003, the petitioners filed a motion to quash the Informations


in Criminal Cases Nos. 27555 and 27557 on the ground that the facts contained
therein do not allege the quantity, the extent and value of undue injury to the
Municipality of Taal, Batangas, or to the government as a whole and to public
interest. The petitioners also sought the quashal of the Informations in Criminal
Cases Nos. 27556 and 27558 on the ground that the said Informations failed to
specify and quantify the alleged undue injury to the Municipality of Taal,
Batangas, or to the government as a whole; to prove the same with moral
certainty; and to state that the petitioners therein gave any unwarranted benefits
to a third-party private individual. The petitioners noted that the Informations
merely alleged that the accused gave unwarranted benefits to himself/herself.
The petitioners cited the decisions of this Court in Mendoza-Arce v. Office
of the Ombudsman (Visayas),[6] Llorente v. Sandiganbayan,[7] and Garcia-
Rueda v. Amor,[8] that for violation of Section 3(e) of Rep. Act No. 3019, the
Informations must allege, and the prosecution must prove, that a party
sustained undue injury caused by the act of the accused of giving unwarranted
benefits, advantage or preference through manifest partiality, evident bad faith
or gross inexcusable negligence.
On November 12, 2003, the Sandiganbayan issued a Resolution denying
the petitioners motion to quash. The graft court ruled that as gleaned from all
the Informations in Criminal Cases Nos. 27555 and 27557, the petitioners
caused undue injury to the Municipality of Taal, Batangas, the government and
to the public interest, and that they gave unwarranted benefits, advantage or
preference to the Diamond Laboratories, Inc. The graft court also ruled that
under the Informations in Criminal Cases Nos. 27556 and 27558, petitioners
Librado and Fe Cabrera gave unwarranted benefits to themselves by allocating
and collecting the amounts ofP27,651.83 and P170,987.66, respectively,
representing expenses they incurred during their unauthorized and illegal
travels, thereby causing undue injury to the Municipality of Taal. The
Sandiganbayan relied on the rulings of the Court in Jacinto v.
Sandiganbayan[9] and Santiago v. Garchitorena;[10] instead of relying on the
rulings of this Court in Llorente v. Sandiganbayan,[11] Mendoza-Arce v. Office of
the Ombudsman (Visayas),[12] and Suller v. Sandiganbayan.[13] The
Sandiganbayan also ruled that the elements of the crime of violation of Section
3(e) of Rep. Act No. 3019 enumerated in Jacinto are more consistent with the
law and in harmony with the ruling of this Court in Santiago. The
Sandiganbayan further declared that the rulings in Jacinto and Santiago had
not as yet been overruled by the Court.
The petitioners filed a motion for the reconsideration of said resolution,
contending that the Sandiganbayan should have relied on more recent rulings
of this Court, the latest of which is Mendoza-Arce v. Office of the Ombudsman
(Visayas).[14] On February 18, 2004, the Sandiganbayan issued a Resolution
denying the said motion.
The petitioners now seek relief in this Court via their petition for certiorari
contending that:

WITH ALL DUE RESPECT, PUBLIC RESPONDENT ACTED WITHOUT OR IN


EXCESS OF ITS JURISDICTION OR WITH GRAVE ABUSE OF DISCRETION
AMOUNTING TO LACK OR EXCESS OF JURISDICTION IN ISSUING THE
QUESTIONED RESOLUTIONS DATED 12 NOVEMBER 2003 AND 18
FEBRUARY 2004.[15]
The threshold issue in this case is whether or not all the essential elements
of Section 3(e) of Rep. Act No. 3019 are alleged in the four (4) Informations
filed against the petitioners.
The petition has no merit.
Section 8, Rule 110 of the Revised Rules of Criminal Procedure requires
that the acts or omissions constituting the offense must be stated in the
Information or criminal complaint:

SEC. 8. Designation of the offense. The complaint or information shall state the
designation of the offense given by the statute, aver the acts or omissions constituting
the offense, and specify its qualifying and aggravating circumstances. If there is no
designation of the offense, reference shall be made to the section or subsection of the
statute punishing it.

The petitioner must be apprised of the facts that are imputed on him as he
is presumed to have no independent knowledge of the facts that constitute the
offense. The Information must contain a specific allegation of every fact and
circumstance necessary to constitute the crime charged.[16] Also, the
Information must state only the relevant facts; the reason therefor could be
proved during the trial.[17]
The accused may file a motion to quash the Information under Section 3(a),
Rule 117 of the Revised Rules of Criminal Procedure, on the ground that the
facts charged do not constitute an offense.

SEC. 3. Grounds. The accused may move to quash the complaint or information on
any of the following grounds:

(a) That the facts charged do not constitute an offense.

The fundamental test in determining the sufficiency of the material


averments of an Information is whether or not the facts alleged therein, which
are hypothetically admitted, would establish the essential elements of the crime
defined by the law. The Court has ruled[18] that evidence aliunde or matters
extrinsic of the Information are not to be considered:

Section 3(a) of Rule 117 of the Revised Rules of Court authorizes the quashal of an
information when the facts therein averred do not amount to an offense. The
fundamental test in reflecting on the viability of a motion to quash under this
particular ground is whether or not the facts asseverated, if hypothetically admitted,
would establish the essential elements of the crime defined in the law. In this
examination, matters aliunde are not considered. Anent the sufficiency of the
information, Section 6, Rule 110, of the Rules of Court requires, inter alia, that the
information must state the acts or omissions so complained of as constitutive of the
offense.[19]

Section 3(e) of Republic Act No. 3019, otherwise known as the Anti-Graft
and Corrupt Practices Act, reads:

Sec. 3. Corrupt practices of public officers. - In addition to acts or omissions of public


officers already penalized by existing law, the following shall constitute corrupt
practices of any public officer and are hereby declared to be unlawful:

(e) Causing any undue injury to any party, including the Government, or giving any
private party any unwarranted benefits, advantage or preference in the discharge of his
official, administrative or judicial functions through manifest partiality, evident bad
faith or gross inexcusable negligence. This provision shall apply to officers and
employees of offices or government corporations charged with the grant of licenses or
permits or other concessions.

In Jacinto v. Sandiganbayan,[20] the Court en banc enumerated the


essential elements of the crime, viz:

1. The accused must be a public officer discharging administrative, judicial or official


functions;

2. He must have acted with manifest partiality, evident bad faith or inexcusable
negligence; and

3. That his action caused any undue injury to any party, including the government, or
giving any private party unwarranted benefits, advantage or preference in the
discharge of his functions.[21]

There are two (2) ways by which a public official violates Section 3(e) of
Rep. Act No. 3019 in the performance of his functions, namely: (a) by causing
undue injury to any party, including the Government; or (b) by giving any private
party any unwarranted benefit, advantage or preference. The accused may be
charged under either mode or under both. In Quibal v. Sandiganbayan,[22] the
Court held that the use of the disjunctive term or connotes that either act
qualifies as a violation of Sec. 3(e) of Rep. Act No. 3019.
In fine, the delictual act of the accused may give rise to or cause either an
undue injury to any party, including the government; or the giving to any private
party unwarranted benefits, advantage or preference, or both undue injury and
warranted benefits, advantage or preference. As explained by the Court
in Bautista v. Sandiganbayan:[23]

Indeed, Sec. 3, par. (e), RA 3019, as amended, provides as one of its elements that the
public officer should have acted by causing any undue injury to any party, including
the government, or by giving any private party unwarranted benefits, advantage or
preference in the discharge of his functions. The use of the disjunctive term "or"
connotes that either act qualifies as a violation of Sec. 3, par. (e), or as aptly held
in Santiago, as two (2) different modes of committing the offense. This does not,
however, indicate that each mode constitutes a distinct offense, but rather, that an
accused may be charged under eithermode or under both.

In Santiago, petitioner therein assailed the failure of respondent to include the phrase
"causing of undue injury to any party, including the Government" in the amended
informations filed against her. Refuting the claim, the Court cited the minute
resolution in Uy v. Sandiganbayan and clarified that the "act of giving any private
party any unwarranted benefit, advantage or preference" is not an indispensable
element of the offense of "causing any undue injury to any party," although there
maybe instances where both elements concur. Thus, in Pareo v. Sandiganbayan, the
information charged the public officers with "willfully and unlawfully causing undue
injury to the Government and giving unwarranted benefits to Tanduay Distillery, Inc."
by failing to verify and act on the validity and/or veracity of the claim for tax credit
filed by the corporation before the BIR.

In Pilapil v. Sandiganbayan, petitioner Pilapil was only charged with having


"willfully caused undue injury to the Municipality of Tigaon, Camarines Sur, when he
failed to deliver the ambulance received by him on behalf of the municipality in
a Deed of Donation executed by the Philippine Charity Sweepstakes Office in its
favor, to the prejudice and damage of the municipal government."

Likewise, in Diaz v. Sandiganbayan, the PCGG Commissioners as public officers


were charged only with having given Enrique Razon, Jr., a stockholder or officer of
the sequestered corporation Metro Port, unwarranted benefits and/or advantage by the
approval of his loan application for P5,000,000.00 belonging to the same sequestered
corporation.

By analogy, Gallego v. Sandiganbayan finds application in the instant case. There,


petitioners claimed that the Information charged the accused with three (3) distinct
offenses, to wit: (a) the giving of "unwarranted" benefits through manifest partiality;
(b) the giving of "unwarranted" benefits through evident bad faith; and, (c) the giving
of "unwarranted" benefits through gross inexcusable negligence while in the discharge
of their official and/or administrative functions; and thus moved for the quashal of the
Information. The Sandiganbayan denied the motion to quash and held that the phrases
"manifest partiality," "evident bad faith" and "gross inexcusable negligence" merely
described the different modes by which the offense penalized in Sec. 3, par. (e), of RA
3019, as amended, could be committed, and the use of all these phrases in the same
Information did not mean that the indictment charged three (3) distinct offenses. [24]

The Court reiterated in Evangelista v. People[25] the ruling of the Court


in Bautista and Santiago, thus:

R.A. 3019, Section 3, paragraph (e), as amended, provides as one of its elements that
the public officer should have acted by causing any undue injury to any party,
including the Government, or by giving any private party unwarranted benefits,
advantage or preference in the discharge of his functions. The use of the disjunctive
term "or" connotes that either act qualifies as a violation of Section 3, paragraph (e),
or as aptly held in Santiago, as two (2) different modes of committing the offense.
This does not, however, indicate that each mode constitutes a distinct offense, but
rather, that an accused may be charged under either mode or under both.[26]

We note that, as pointed out by the petitioners, the Court held in Mendoza-
Arce and other cases[27] that the essential elements for violation of Section 3(e)
of Rep. Act No. 3019 are the following:

1. The accused is a public officer or private person charged in conspiracy with him;

2. Said public officer commits the prohibited acts during the performance of his
official duties or in relation to his public position;

3. He causes undue injury to any party, whether the government or private party;

4. Such undue injury is caused by giving unwarranted benefits, advantage or


preference to such parties; and

5. The public officer has acted with manifest partiality, evident bad faith or gross
inexcusable negligence.[28]

The petitioners posit that, as gleaned from the enumerations by the Court
of the essential elements of the crime, the only mode by which a public officer
may commit a crime for violation of Section 3(e) of Rep. Act No. 3019 is by
causing undue injury to any party, both the government or private party, the
giving of unwarranted benefits, advantage or preference to such party being
only a mode of causing such undue injury, which is inconsistent with the rulings
of this Court in Jacinto, Santiago, Bautista and other cases.
We find the contention of the petitioners to be untenable. For one thing, we
have reviewed the rulings of the Court in Mendoza-Arce and kindred cases and
find that the issue of whether or not violation of Section 3(e) of Rep. Act No.
3019 may be committed only by causing undue injury to the government or to
a private individual, the giving of unwarranted benefits, advantage or preference
being only a mode of causing undue injury to the government or to a private
party had not been raised therein, nor resolved by the Court. In any event, the
ruling in this case has categorized any perceived inconsistencies spawned by
the rulings of the Court in Mendoza-Arce and other cases and those
in Jacinto, Santiago, Evangelista, Quibal and Bautista.
In Gallego v. Sandiganbayan,[29] the Court ruled that unwarranted means
lacking adequate or official support; unjustified; unauthorized; or without
justification or adequate reasons. Advantage means a more favorable or
improved position or condition; benefit or gain of any kind; benefit from course
of action.[30] Preference signifies priority or higher evaluation or desirability;
choice or estimation above another.[31]
Section 3(e) of Rep. Act No. 3019, which was approved by Congress in
Spanish reads:

(e) Causar algun perjuicio indebido a cualquiera, incluyendo al Gobierno, o dar a


alguna persona particular cualesquier beneficios, vengaja o preferencia
injustificados en el desempeo de sus funciones administrativas judiciales de indole
oficial con manifiesta parcialidad, evidente mala fe o crasa negligencia inexcusable.
Esta disposicion se aplicara a los funcionarios y empleados de oficinas o de las
corporaciones del gobierno encargados de otorgar licencias o permisos u otras
concesiones.

Perjuicio means prejudice, mischief, injury, damages.[32] Prejudice means


injury or damage, due to some judgment or action of another.[33] Mischief
connotes a specific injury or damage caused by another.[34] Indebido means
undue, illegal, immoral, unlawful, void of equity and moderations.[35] In Pecho v.
Sandiganbayan,[36] the Court en banc defined injury as any wrong or damage
done to another, either in his person, or in his rights, reputation or property; the
invasion of any legally protected interests of another. It must be more than
necessary or are excessive, improper or illegal.[37] It is required that the undue
injury caused by the positive or passive acts of the accused be quantifiable and
demonstrable and proven to the point of moral certainty.[38] Undue injury cannot
be presumed even after a wrong or a violation of a right has been established.[39]
In Fonacier v. Sandiganbayan,[40] the Court en banc held that proof of the
extent or quantum of damage is not essential. It is sufficient that the injury
suffered or benefits received can be perceived to be substantial enough and
not merely negligible.
In this case, the Court finds that the four (4) Informations allege the essential
elements of violation of Section 3(e) of Rep. Act No. 3019. The Information in
Criminal Case No. 27555 specifically alleges that petitioners Librado Cabrera
and Leonor, being then the Municipal Mayor and Municipal Councilor,
respectively, of the Municipality of Taal, Batangas, conspired and connived with
each other and, in relation to their office, through manifest partiality, evident bad
faith or inexcusable negligence, gave unwarranted benefits to Diamond
Laboratories, Inc., a corporation owned by the relatives of petitioner Librado
Cabrera. The petitioners felonious act consisted of directly purchasing
medicines on several occasions for the total price of P503,920.35 only from the
said corporation,without the benefit of public bidding or canvass from a duly-
licensed manufacturer; in consummating the crime, petitioner Leonor acted as
the duly-authorized representative of Diamond Laboratories, Inc. and received
the payments for the purchases for and in behalf of the corporation. On the
other hand, the Information in Criminal Case No. 27557 alleges that petitioners
Fe Cabrera and Leonor, being then the Municipal Mayor and Municipal
Councilor, respectively, of the Municipality of Taal, Batangas, conspired and
connived with each other and, in relation to their office, took advantage of their
official positions; and through patently evident bad faith or gross inexcusable
negligence, gave unwarranted benefits to Diamond Laboratories, Inc., a
corporation owned by relatives of petitioner Fe Cabrera, by directly purchasing
medicines on several occasions for the total amount of P1,042,902.46 only from
the Diamond Laboratories, Inc. without the benefit of public bidding or canvass
from different licensed manufacturers. In consummating the crime, petitioner
Leonor acted as the duly-authorized representative of said corporation, and
received the said amount for and in behalf of said corporation. By the collective
acts of the petitioners, the Municipality of Taal was deprived of its opportunity
to avail of a better price for the same quantity and quality of medicine from other
suppliers.
In Criminal Cases Nos. 27556 and 27558, the Informations contain factual
averments showing that the Municipality of Taal, Batangas, suffered undue
injury when petitioners Librado and Fe Cabrera collected and
appropriated P27,651.83 and P170,987.66, respectively, based on
their unauthorized and illegal travels.
The petitioners contention that, under Section 366 of the Local Government
Code, procurement of supplies by direct purchase from manufacturers or
exclusive distributors may be made without the benefit of any public bidding is
a matter of defense. The petitioners may adduce evidence during the trial that
the Diamond Laboratories, Inc. is a manufacturer or exclusive distributor of the
subject supplies.
IN LIGHT OF ALL THE FOREGOING, the petition is DENIED. The assailed
Resolutions of the Sandiganbayan are AFFIRMED. No costs.
SO ORDERED.

279 Phil. 345

SARMIENTO, J.:
The petitioner questions the Decision of the Sandiganbayan[*] holding him
civilly liable in spite of an acquittal. The facts are not disputed:

Atty. Llorente was employed in the PCA, a public corporation (Sec. 1, PD


1468) from 1975 to August 31, 1986, when he resigned. He occupied the
positions of Assistant Corporate Secretary for a year, then Corporate Legal
Counsel until November 2, 1981, and, finally, Deputy Administrator for
Administrative Services, Finance Services, and Legal Affairs Departments. x
x x.

As a result of a massive reorganization in 1981, hundreds of PCA employees


resigned effective October 31, 1981. Among them were Mr. Curi, Mrs. Perez,
Mr. Azucena, and Mrs. Javier (TSN, Oct. 22/87, p. 2; Exhs. M-2, N-1, and
O-1). They were all required to apply for PCA clearances in support of their
gratuity benefits (Exhs. C, M-2, N-1, and O-1). Condition (a) of the
clearance provided:

"The clearance shall be signed by the PCA officers concerned only when
there is no item appearing under "PENDING ACCOUNTABILITY" or after
every item previously entered thereunder is fully settled. Settlement thereof
shall be written in RED ink." (Exhs. D or D-1 and 1-B)
After the clearance was signed by the PCA officers concerned, it was to be
approved, first, by Atty. Llorente, in the case of a rank-and-file employee, or
by Col. Dueñas, the acting administrator, in the case of an officer, and then
by Atty. Rodriquez, the corporate auditor x x x.

Notwithstanding Condition (a) just quoted, the clearances of Mrs. Perez


and Mr. Azucena both dated October 30, 1981, were favorably acted upon
by the PCA officers concerned, including Mrs. Sotto, acting for the
accounting division, even if the clearances showed they had pending
accountabilities to the GSIS and the UCPB, and subsequently approved by
Attys. Llorente and Rodriguez (Exhs. M and N). Thereafter, the vouchers
for their gratuity benefits also indicating their outstanding obligations were
approved, among others, by Atty. Llorente, and their gratuity benefits
released to them after deducting those accountabilities. x x x.

The clearance of Mrs. Javier of the same date of October 30, 1981, was also
signed by all PCA officers concerned, including Mrs. Sotto even though the
former had unsettled obligations noted thereon, viz: GSIS loan P5,387.00
and UCPB car loan P19,705.00, or a total of P25,092.00, and later on
approved by Col. Dueñas, Mrs. Javier being an officer, and Atty. Rodriguez
(Exh. O). Similarly, the voucher of Mrs. Javier for her gratuity benefits
likewise recited her accountabilities of P25,092.00 plus P92,000.00, which
was handwritten. Both amounts were deducted from her gratuity benefits,
and the balance released to her on November 16, 1981. The voucher passed
post-audit by Atty. Rodriguez on December 1, 1981 (Exhs. L, L-1, L-2, and
L-3).

The said P92,000.00 was the disallowed portion of the cash advances
received by Mr. Curio in connection with his duties as "super cargo" in the
distribution of seed nuts throughout the country. He received them through
and in the name of Mrs. Javier from the UCPB. When the amount was
disallowed, the UCPB withheld from the PCA certain receivables; the later,
in turn, deducted the same amount from the gratuity benefits of Mrs.
Javier, she being primarily liable therefor (Exhs. L, L-1, L-2, and L-3). At
the time of the deduction, the additional liquidation papers had already
been submitted and were in process. Just in case she would not be
successful in having the entire amount wiped out, she requested Mr. Curio,
who admittedly received it, to execute, as he did, an affidavit dated
November 26, 1981, in which he assumed whatever portion thereof might
not be allowed x x x.

The clearance of Mr. Curio dated November 4, 1981, (Exh. D or D-1)


likewise favorably passed all officers concerned, including Mrs. Sotto, the
latter signing despite the notation handwritten on December 8, 1981, that
Mr. Curio had pending accountabilities, namely: GSIS loan P2,193.74, 201
accounts receivable P3,897.75, and UCPB loan P3,623.49, or a total of
P10,714.78. However, when the clearance was submitted to Atty. Llorente
for approval, he refused to approve it. For this reason, the clearance was
held up in his office and did not reach Atty. Rodriguez. x x x.

The reason given by Atty. Llorente was that when the clearance was
presented to him on December 8, 1981, he was already aware of the
affidavit dated November 26, 1981, in which Mr. Curio assumed to pay any
residual liability for the disallowed cash advances, which at the time,
December 8, 1981, stood at P92,000.00 (Exhs. 2 and 2-A). Moreover, Mr.
Curio had other pending obligations noted on his clearance totalling
P10,714.98 (Exh. 1-a). To justify his stand, Atty. Llorente invoked Condition
(a) of the clearance (Exhs. D and I-B), which, he said, was "very stringent"
and could not be interpreted in any other way x x x.

On December 1, 1982, Mr. Curio brought the matter of his unapproved


clearance to Col. Dueñas (Exh. G), who referred it to the Legal Department,
which was under Atty. Llorente as Deputy Administrator for legal affairs.
After follow-up in that department, Mr. Curio received the answer of Col.
Dueñas dated February 11, 1983, saying that the clearance was being
withheld until the former settled his alleged accountability for P92,000.00
reduced already to P55,000.00 (Exh. I). Mr. Curio elevated the matter to
the Chairman of the PCA Board, who indorsed it to Col. Dueñas, who, in
turn, sent it to the Legal Department. This time the latter, through its
Manager, Manuel F. Pastor, Jr., first cousin of Atty. Llorente, submitted a
formal report under date of August 14, 1986, to the PCA Chairman,
justifying the action taken by Atty. Llorente and Col. Dueñas (Exh. 12). The
PCA Chairman did not respond in writing, but advised Mr. Curio to wait for
the resolution of the Tanodbayan with which he (Mr. Curio) had filed this
case initially against Atty. Llorente and, later on, against Col. Dueñas also.
On August 31, 1986, Atty. Llorente resigned from the PCA; the clearance,
however, could not be issued because, according to the PCA Corporate
Legal Counsel, Arthur J. Liquete, the PCA did not want to preempt the
Tanodbayan. On November 12, 1986, the latter decided to institute this case
in court x x x.

Nine days thereafter, or on November 21, 1986, Mr. Curio accomplished


another clearance, which no longer imposed Condition (a) of his earlier
clearance (Exh. E). The new clearance was approved, even if he still had
pending accountabilities totalling P10,714.78 that had remained unsettled
since December 1981. His voucher was also approved, and his gratuity
benefits paid to him in the middle of December 1986, after deducting those
obligations (Exh. F). Nothing was mentioned anymore about the disallowed
cash advances of P92,000.00, which had been reduced to P55,000.00 x x x.

Between December 1981 and December 1986, Mr. Curio failed to get gainful
employment; as a result, his family literally went hungry. In 1981, he
applied for work with the Philippine Cotton Authority, but was refused,
because he could not present his PCA clearance. The same thing happened
when he sought employment with the Philippine Fish Marketing
Administration in January 1982. In both prospective employers, the item
applied for was P2,500.00 a month. At that time, he was only about 45
years old and still competitive in the job market. But in 1986, being already
past 50 years, he could no longer be hired permanently, there being a
regulation to that effect. His present employment with the Philippine Ports
Authority, which started on March 16, 1987, was casual for that reason. Had
his gratuity benefits been paid in 1981, he would have received a bigger
amount, considering that since then interest had accrued and the foreign
exchange rate of the peso to the dollar had gone up x x x.[1]
On December 10, 1986, an Information for violation of Section 3(c) of the
Anti-Graft and Corrupt Practices Act was filed against the petitioner:

That on or about December 8, 1981 and/or subsequent thereto, in Quezon


City, Philippines, and within the jurisdiction of this Honorable Court,
accused David Pastor Llorente, Deputy Administrator for the Philippine
Coconut Authority (PCA), and as such was empowered among others to
approve clearances of employees thereat, taking advantage of his position,
through evident bad faith, did then and there, wilfully and unlawfully refuse
to issue a certificate of clearance to Herminigildo M. Curio, an employee
thereat, who was forced to resign as a result of the abolition of his item
pursuant to the 1981 reorganization of the PCA, resulting in his deprivation
to receive his gratuity benefits amounting to P29,854.90, and to secure
employment with other offices to his damage and prejudice, and that of the
public service.

CONTRARY TO LAW.

Manila, Philippines, December 10, 1986.[2]


As indicated at the outset, the Sandiganbayan acquitted the petitioner in
the absence of any evidence that he acted in bad faith.[3] The
Sandiganbayan cited three considerations that precluded bad faith:

First, when Atty. Llorente withheld favorable action on the clearance on


and after December 8, 1981, there was still the possibility, remote though it
was when viewed after the fact, that the accountability, which Mrs. Javier
was primarily liable therefor and which was fully settled by deduction from
her gratuity benefits on November 16, 1981 (Exhs. L, L-1, L-2, and L-3),
would be reinstated and charged directly to Mr. Curio, for the latter
executed on November 26, 1981, an affidavit assuming responsibility for
the obligation to the extent of the amount finally disallowed, and the
affidavit was on December 8, 1981, already pending consideration by the
PCA management (Exhs. 2 and 2-A).

Second, Atty. Llorente was appointed Deputy Administrator for


administrative services, finance services, and legal affairs departments only
on November 2, 1981 (TSN, March 9/87, p. 3). Being new in his job, it was
but natural that he was zealous in the performance of his functions in fact,
overzealous in the protection of the PCA interests, even if that protection
was not necessary, as the P92,000.00 accountability had already been paid
(See Exh. 12, 4th paragraph).

Finally, Atty. Llorente was officiously, though incidentally, taking care also
of the interest of Mrs. Javier who, justice and equity demanded, should not
be made to shoulder the P92,000.00 unliquidated cash advances, for the
reason that it was Mr. Curio who admittedly spent them or who, at the very
least, should be able to get reimbursement of what she paid, totally or
partially, from his gratuity benefits (See Exh. 5, pp. 2-3).[4]
The Sandiganbayan, as we also indicated earlier, took the petitioner to task
civilly, and ordered him to pay "compensatory damages" in the sum of
P90,000.00. According to the Sandiganbayan, the petitioner was guilty
nonetheless of abuse of right (under Article 19 of the Civil Code) and as a
public officer, he was liable for damages suffered by the aggrieved party
(under Article 27).

The petitioner claims that the Sandiganbayan's Decision is erroneous even


if the Sandiganbayan acquitted him therein, because he was never in bad
faith as indeed found by the Sandiganbayan.

Under the 1985 Rules of Criminal Procedure, amending Rules 110 through
127 of the Rules of Court, the judgment of the court shall include, in case of
acquittal, and unless there is a clear showing that the act from which the
civil liability might arise did not exist, "a finding on the civil liability of the
accused in favor of the offended party."[5] The rule is based on the
provisions of substantive law,[6] that if acquittal proceeds from reasonable
doubt, a civil action lies nonetheless.

The challenged judgment found that the petitioner, in refusing to issue a


certificate of clearance in favor of the private offended party, Hermenigildo
Curio, did not act with "evident bad faith", one of the elements of Section
3(e) of Republic Act No. 3819.[7] We agree with the judgment, insofar as it
found lack of evident bad faith by the petitioner, for the reasons cited
therein, basically, because the petitioner was acting within the bounds of
law in refusing to clear Curio although "[t]he practice was that the
clearance was nevertheless approved, and then the amount of the unsettled
obligation was deducted from the gratuity benefits of the employee."[8]

We also agree with the Sandiganbayan (although the Sandiganbayan did


not say it) that although the petitioner did not act with evident bad faith, he
acted with bad faith nevertheless, for which he should respond for
damages.

The records show that the office practice indeed in the Philippine Coconut
Authority was to clear the employee (retiree) and deduct his
accountabilities from his gratuity benefits. There seems to be no debate
about the existence of this practice (the petitioner admitted it later on) and
in fact, he cleared three employees on the condition that their obligations
should be deducted from their benefits.[9] We quote:

Confronted with these evidence [sic], Atty. Llorente conceded, albeit


grudgingly, the existence of the practice by the accounting division of not
complying with Condition (a). He, however, claimed that he learned of the
practice only during the trial of this case and that he must have
inadvertently approved the clearances of Mrs. Perez. Mr. Azucena, and,
possibly others who were similarly situated (TSN, March 9/88, pp.4-5).
This the evidence belies. First, he himself testified that when the clearance
of Mr. Curio was presented to him in December 1981, it already bore the
signature of Mrs. Sotto of the accounting division and the notation set
opposite her name about the outstanding accountabilities of Mr. Curio; but
he (Atty. Llorente) significantly did not ask her why she signed the
clearance (TSN, Nov. 24/87, pp. 24-25). Second, in that month, Atty.
Llorente approved Mrs. Perez's and Mr. Azucena's vouchers showing that
they had pending obligations to the GSIS and the UCPB, which were being
deducted from their gratuity benefits. Attached to those vouchers were the
clearances as supporting documents (Exhs. M-2 and N-1; TSN, Dec. 7/87,
pp. 13, 23). And third, in that same month, Atty. Llorente was already
aware of the case of Mrs. Javier whose clearance and voucher were,
according to him, precisely withheld because of her unsettled accountability
for the cash advances of P92,000.00, but were later on given due course;
and her gratuity benefits released on November 16, 1981, minus that
amount (TSN, Nov. 24/87, pp. 31-32; Exhs. L, L-1, L-2, and L-3).

The cash advances of P92,000.00 were the primary obligation of Mrs.


Javier, since they were secured through her and in her name from the
UCPB. That was why they were charged to, and deducted from, her gratuity
benefits. Consequently, as early as that date and in so far as the PCA and
the UCPB were concerned, the accountability was already fully paid. The
assumption of residual liability by Mr. Curio for the cash advances on
November 26, 1981, was a matter between him and Mrs. Javier (Exhs. 2
and 2-A).[10]
The general rule is that this Court is bound by the findings of fact of the
Sandiganbayan.[11]

As we said, the acts of the petitioner were legal (that is, pursuant to
procedures), as he insists in this petition, yet it does not follow, as we said,
that his acts were done in good faith. For emphasis, he had no valid reason
to "go legal" all of a sudden with respect to Mr. Curio, since he had cleared
three employees who, as the Sandiganbayan found, "were all similarly
circumstanced in that they all had pending obligations when, their
clearances were filed for consideration, warranting similar official
action."[12]

The Court is convinced that the petitioner had unjustly discriminated


against Mr. Curio.

It is no defense that the petitioner was motivated by no ill-will (a grudge,


according to the Sandiganbayan), since the facts speak for themselves. It is
no defense either that he was, after all, complying merely with legal
procedures since, as we indicated, he was not as strict with respect to the
three retiring other employees. There can be no other logical conclusion
that he was acting unfairly, no more, no less, to Mr. Curio.
It is the essence of Article 19 of the Civil Code, under which the petitioner
was made to pay damages, together with Article 27, that the performance of
duty be done with justice and good faith. In the case of Velayo v. Shell Co.
of the Philippines,[13] we held the defendant liable under Article 19 for
disposing of its property a perfectly legal act in order to escape the reach of
a creditor. In two fairly more recent cases, Sevilla v. Court of
Appeals[14] and Valenzuela v. Court of Appeals[15], we held that a principal
is liable under Article 19 in terminating the agency again, a legal act when
terminating the agency would deprive the agent of his legitimate business.

We believe that the petitioner is liable under Article 19.

The Court finds the award of P90,000.00 to be justified by Article 2202 of


the Civil Code, which holds the defendant liable for all "natural and
probable" damages. Hermenegildo Curio presented evidence that as a
consequence of the petitioner's refusal to clear him, he failed to land a job
at the Philippine Cotton Authority and Philippine First Marketing
Authority. He also testified that a job in either office would have earned
him a salary of P2,500.00 a month, or P150,000.00 in five years.
Deducting his probable expenses of reasonably about P1,000.00 a month,
or P60,000.00 in five years, the petitioner owes him a total of actual
damages of P90,000.00.

WHEREFORE, premises considered, the Petition is DENIED. No


pronouncement as to costs.

IT IS SO ORDERED.