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No. L-75160. March 18,1988 * been committed.

To hold otherwise will encourage unscrupulous individuals to frame up public


officers by simply putting within their physical custody some gift, money or other property.
LEONOR FORMILLEZA, petitioner, vs. THE HONORABLE SANDIGANBAYAN, First Division and
PEOPLE OF THE PHILIPPINES, respondents. Same; Same; To sustain a conviction, moral certainty, not absolute certainty is needed.—Moral
certainty, not absolute certainty, is needed to support a judgment of conviction. Moral certainty
Criminal Procedure; Sandiganbayan; Certiorari; Decisions or final orders of the Sandiganbayan is a certainty that convinces and satisfies the reason and conscience of those who are to act upon
are subject to review on certiorari by the Supreme Court under Rule 45 of the Rules of Court and a given matter. Without this standard of certainty, it may not be said that the guilt of the accused
as a general rule, only questions of law can be raised therein.—Presidential Decree No. 1606, as in a criminal proceeding has been proved beyond reasonable doubt.
amended, governs the procedure through which cases originating from the Sandiganbayan are
elevated to this Court Under Section 7 thereof, the decisions and final orders of the PETITION for review of a decision of the Sandiganbayan.
Sandiganbayan are subject to review on certiorari by the Supreme Court in accordance with Rule
45 of the Rules of Court This Court has ruled that t only questions of of law may be raised in a The facts are stated in the opinion of the Court.
petition for certiorari under Rule 46, subject to certain rare exceptions. Simply stated, one way
K.V. Faylona & Associates for petitioner.
through which a decision or final order of the Sandiganbayan can be elevated to the Supreme
Court is a Petition for certiorari under Rule 45 and, as a general rule, only questions of law may
GANCAYCO, J.:
be raised therein. The Solicitor General cites the case of Peñaverde v. Sandiganbayan in support
of this view. This is a Petition for review of a Decision of the Sandiganbayan.

Same; Same; Same; Same; Exception to the general rule is when the findings of fact by the trial The records of the case disclose that petitioner Leonor Formilleza has been with the government
court overlooked certain facts of substance and value which if considered might affect the result service for around 20 years. She was the personnel supervisor of the regional office of the
of the case.—Indeed, the general rule 10 that only questions of law may be raised in a petition of National Irrigation Administration (NIA) in Tacloban City, Leyte since October 1, 1982. Her duties
this character. The general rule admits exceptions, one of which is when the findings of fact include the processing of the appointment papers of employees.
made by the trial court overlooked certain facts of substance and value which, if considered,
might affect the result of the case. On the other hand, a certain Mrs. Estrella Mutia was an employee of the NIA from February,
1978 up to March, 1985. Her appointment was coterminous with a project of the NIA. On
Same; Same; Same; Same; Same; The exception to the general rule calls for application in this December 31, 1983, her appointment was terminated. This notwithstanding, she continued
case.—We believe that the exception to the general rule calls for application in this case. The working for the NIA pursuant to the verbal instructions of the regional director of the
fundamental axiom underlying a criminal prosecution is that before the accused may be Administration.
convicted of any crime, his guilt must be proved beyond reasonable doubt. Thus, if there are
substantial facts which were overlooked by the trial court but which could alter the results of the Mrs. Mutia testified that she took steps to obtain either a permanent or at the least a renewed
case in favor of the accused, then such facts should be carefully taken into account by the appointment; that when she approached the regional director about the matter she was advised
reviewing tribunal. In the case before Us. there are substantial facts and circumstances which to see the petitioner who was to determine the employees to be appointed or promoted; and
appear to be favorable to the accused but which were not carefully considered by the that the petitioner refused to attend to her appointment papers unless the latter were given
Sandiganbayan. The failure to do so is most unfortunate considering that the Sandiganbayan is some money.
the first and last recourse of the accused before her case reaches the Supreme Court where
findings of fact are generally conclusive and binding. On February 27, 1984, Mrs. Mutia reported her problem to the Philippine Constabulary (PC)
authorities in the province. The PC officials told her that steps were to be taken to entrap the
Criminal Law; Indirect Bribery; Essential element of indirect bribery is that the public officer petitioner. The entrapment equipment consisted of marked paper money bills worth P100.00.
concerned must have accepted the gift or material consideration.—The essential ingredient of The PC officials concerned were colleagues of the husband of Mrs. Mutia in the PC.
indirect bribery as defined in Article 211 of the Revised Penal Code is that the public officer
concerned must have accepted the gift or material consideration. There must be a clear intention The first attempt to entrap the petitioner was on February 28,1984. The plan did not materialize
on the part of the public officer to take the gift so offered and consider the same as his own as the petitioner did not show up at the designated rendezvous at the NIA building canteen.
property from then on, such as putting away the gift for safekeeping or pocketing the same.
The second attempt was on February 29,1984, this time with results. That morning, the
Mere physical receipt unaccompanied by any other sign, circumstance or act to show such
petitioner and Mrs. Mutia met in their service bus on their way to work. The two women
acceptance is not sufficient to lead the court to conclude that the crime of indirect bribery has
supposedly agreed to meet at the canteen later that morning at 9:00 o’clock. Thereafter, Mrs.
Mutia notified the PC authorities who were to arrange the entrapment. The PC soldiers involved by Mrs. Mutia with her right hand underneath the table and received by the accused with her left
in the arrangement were identified as Sergeants Eddie Bonjoc, Formilleza vs. Sandiganbayan, 159 hand. That was also how Mrs. Mutia described the manner she delivered the money to the
SCRA 1, No. L-75160 March 18, 1988Efren Abanes and Ignacio Labong. accused—the money bills were rolled which she handed to accused with her right hand
underneath the table. Although Sgt. Abanes had a camera with him to photograph the
Everyone who was to participate in the entrapment was ready. Mrs, Mutia went to see the entrapment, he could not prematurely expose the camera to allow a shot of the actual giving of
petitioner in her office after which the two of them proceeded to the canteen. Some of their the money lest the accused notice his presence and intention and thereby thwart the operation.
officemates—Mrs. Florida Sevilla and a certain Mrs. Dimaano—joined them in the canteen. They But after the money had been delivered and received. he immediately took out his camera and
occupied two squareshaped tables joined together. The petitioner sat at the head of the table snapped pictures, one of them depicting the accused held by Sgts. Bonjoc and Labong on the left
with Mrs. Mutia seated at her left, Mrs. Dimaano at her (the petitioners) right and Mrs. Sevilla at hand x x x, and another showing the accused also held on the left hand by one of the PC men,
the right of Mrs. Dimaano. Sergeants Bonjoc and Labong sat at another table while Sergeant and the complainant, Mrs. Mutia, drinking from a glass x x x.
Abanes was alone in still another table. The latter brought along a camera in order to take
photographs of the entrapment. The marked money was folded altogether. “The fact that Mrs. Mutia’s husband is a PC man himself does not detract from the credibility of
Sgt. Abanes who took part in the entrapment, took pictures, and testified about the incident in
Mrs. Mutia maintains that after they had finished taking their snacks, she handed the marked court. Sgts. Abanes, Bonjoc and Labong were not the only public authorities privy to the
money bills under the table with her right hand to the petitioner who received the same with her operation. Capt. Pedro Pates was the one to whom Mrs. Mutia reported the accused’s demand
left hand. At that moment, Sergeant Bonjoc approached the petitioner and held her hand holding for money; it was he who broached the idea of entrapping the accused; and it was Major
the money bills. Sergeant Abanes brought out his camera and took photographs of the sequence Fernando Pace who supplied the money and caused it to be marked with powder. It is
of events. He was able to take seven photographs.1 inconceivable that all these commissioned and non- commissioned officers had lent themselves
to take part in an unholy cabal of falsely incriminating a female government employee on the
The petitioner was arrested by the soldiers despite her objections to the entrapment. She was
mere urging of one of their associates.
brought to the PC crime laboratory in the locality where she was found positive for ultra-violet
powder. In the presence of the corporate counsel of the NIA, the petitioner denied accepting any “Just as unreasonable is the insinuation that Mrs. Mutia had inveigled the accused to the canteen
bribe money from Mrs. Mutia. and resorted to the insidious machination of planting money in her hand in a simulated
entrapment simply because she thought the accused was not helping her in her application for
The case was brought to the Sandiganbayan where it was docketed as Criminal Case No. 9634.
appointment to a regular item.
Arraigned on January 10, 1985, the petitioner entered a plea of not guilty and went to trial on
May 13, 1985. “Mrs. Florida Sevilla’s presence on the same table with the complainant and the accused may be
conceded. But her testimony that she did not see anything that took place between the
In the proceedings before the Sandiganbayan, the prosecution argued that the entrapment
complainant and the accused before the PC operative pounced upon the accused, and the latter
arranged by the PC operatives was necessary because the petitioner was asking money from
angrily asked the complainant what she was trying to do to her, does not improve the cause of
Mrs. Mutia in consideration for having the appointment papers of the latter facilitated. On the
the defense. As portrayed by the accused, she was at the head of the rectangular table with the
other hand, the petitioner maintains her innocence—that there was no entrapment; the scenario
complainant at her left; Mrs. Dimaano at her right, and Mrs. Sevilla next to Mrs. Dimaano. Since
was but a scheme set up by Mrs. Mutia and her husband’s colleagues in the PC. The petitioner
the money, according to the complainant and Sgt. Abanes, was handed to and received by the
denies having accepted the supposed bribe money.
accused underneath the table, it is not surprising that Mrs. Sevilla who was two seats away from
the accused did not see it."3
The Sandiganbayan relying on the theory of the prosecution observed in a decision promulgated
on July 14, 1986,2 as follows—
The respondent court ruled that the crime committed by the petitioner was not Direct Bribery as
defined in Article 210 of the Revised Penal Code cited in the Information but Indirect Bribery as
“Upon consideration of the evidence. We find the prosecution’s version credible,
defined under Article 211 of the same code. Citing the case of People v. Abesamis,4 the
“Two days before the entrapment, Mrs. Mutia complained to the PC authorities about the respondent court was of the opinion that she could be convicted for Indirect Bribery under the
inaction of the accused on her appointment papers due to her failure to give grease money. She Information for Direct Bribery to which she pleaded and entered into trial inasmuch as it is the
executed a sworn statement to that effect, x x x. It was the PC who planned the entrapment and allegation of facts rather than the denomination of the offense by the provincial fiscal that
supplied the marked money. Sgt. Efren Abanes, who dusted the money bills with fluorescence determines the crime charged.
powder and who was a member of the entrapment team, witnessed the delivery and receipt of
the money by the accused and the complainant and he saw how the folded money was handed
Thus. the respondent court found the petitioner guilty of Indirect Bribery and sentenced her to court overlooked certain facts of substance and value which, if considered, might affect the
four months of arresto mayor, suspension from public office, profession or calling, including the result of the case. This observation was made by this court in Peñaverde v. Sandiganbayan, cited
right of suffrage, and public censure. by the Solicitor General, to wit—

On August 23, 1986, the petitioner elevated the case to this Court by way of the instant Petition “With respect to the allegation that there was error on the part of respondent Sandiganbayan in
for Review. The thrust of the Petition is that the conclusions reached by the Sandiganbayan are concluding that petitioners conspired in the commission of the offense, suffice it to say that the
not supported by the evidence. Moreover, the petitioner disputes the applicability and/or basis of its finding was the credibility of witnesses. Pursuant to Section 7 of Presidential Decree
correctness of the ruling of this Court in People v. Abesamis relied upon by the respondent court No. 1606, in relation to Section 2, Rule 45 of the Rules of Court, the findings of fact of the
Sandiganbayan are entitled to great respect and only questions of laws (sic) may be raised to the
As instructed by this Court, the Office of the Solicitor General submitted its Comment on the Supreme Court. Besides, well settled is the rule that the findings of (the) trial court on credibility
Petition. In opposing the Petition, the Solicitor General maintains that only questions of law may of witnesses will not be disturbed unless such findings overlook certain facts of substance and
be raised in the instant case and the respondent court did not commit any error of law. The value which, if considered, might affect (the) results of (the) case."9
Solicitor General also stresses therein that the findings of fact made by the Sandiganbayan are
supported by the evidence on record and deserve full faith and credit. The Solicitor General adds We believe that the exception to the general rule calls for application in this case.
that the question of credibility is addressed mainly to the trier of facts, in this case, the
Sandiganbayan. The fundamental axiom underlying a criminal prosecution is that before the accused may be
convicted of any crime, his guilt must be proved beyond reasonable doubt. Thus, if there are
The parties submitted subsequent pleadings in support of their stand. Thereafter, the case was substantial facts which were overlooked by the trial court but which could alter the results of the
deemed submitted for decision. case in favor of the accused, then such facts should be carefully taken into account by the
reviewing tribunal.
We find merit in the Petition.
In the case before Us, there are substantial facts and circumstances which appear to be favorable
Presidential Decree No. 1606, as amended, governs the procedure through which cases to the accused but which were not carefully considered by the Sandiganbayan. The failure to do
originating from the Sandiganbayan are elevated to this Court.5 Under Section 7 thereof, the so is most unfortunate considering that the Sandiganbayan is the first and last recourse of the
decisions and final orders of the Sandiganbayan are subject to review on certiorari by the accused before her case reaches the Supreme Court where findings of fact are generally
Supreme Court in accordance with Rule 45 of the Rules of Court. This Court has ruled that only conclusive and binding.
questions of law may be raised in a petition for certiorari under Rule 45, subject to certain rare
exceptions.6 Simply stated, one way7 through which a decision or final order of the The essential ingredient of indirect bribery as defined in Article 211 of the Revised Penal Code10
Sandiganbayan can be elevated to the Supreme Court is a Petition for certiorari under Rule 45 is that the public officer concerned must have accepted the gift or material consideration. There
and, as a general rule, only questions; of law may be raised therein. The Solicitor General cites must be a clear intention on the part of the public officer to take the gift so offered and consider
the case of Peñaverde v. Sandiganbayan 8 in support of this view. Going now to the question of the same as his own property from then on, such as putting away the gift for safekeeping or
law raised in the instant Petition, We believe that the ruling in People v. Abesamis, contrary to pocketing the same. Mere physical receipt unaccompanied by any other sign, circumstance or act
the contention of the petitioner, is authority for the view that the allegation of facts, not the to show such acceptance is not sufficient to lead the court to conclude that the crime of indirect
denomination of the offense by the prosecutor, determines the crime charged. Anent the bribery has been committed. To hold otherwise will encourage unscrupulous individuals to frame
argument on the correctness of the ruling, the petitioner had not succeeded in showing any up public officers by simply putting within their physical custody some gift, money or other
cogent basis for reversing or modifying the same. property.

The remaining argument that the judgment of conviction is not supported by the evidence raises Did the petitioner accept the supposed bribe money?
a question of fact inasmuch as the resolution of the issue would require this Court to sort out and
re-examine the evidence presented in the trial. Invoking the ruling of this Court in Peñaverde v. The Sandiganbayan noted that the photographs of the entrapment show that the petitioner was
Sandiganbayan, the Solicitor General moves for the denial of the Petition. The Solicitor General accosted by the PC soldiers after she accepted the marked money. Against the evidence of the
adds that the credibility of witnesses is a matter better left to the appreciation of the trial court, prosecution that the money was handed to petitioner by Mrs. Mutia under the table is the
in this case, the Sandiganbayan. assertion of petitioner that it was when she stood up that Mrs. Mutia suddenly placed something
in her hand which she did not know to be money and when she saw that it was money she threw
Indeed, the general rule is that only questions of law may be raised in a petition of this character. it away.11 An examination of the seven photographs that were allegedly taken immediately after
The general rule admits exceptions, one .of which is when the findings of fact made by the trial the passing of the money shows that the petitioner was standing up when the PC agents
apprehended her. This corroborates petitioner’s story. There was no picture showing petitioner Melencio-Herrera and Feliciano, JJ., No part. Did not participate in deliberations.
to be seated which should be her position immediately after the money was handed to her under
the table, which should be the case according to the version of the prosecution.12 None of the Decision set aside.
photographs show the petitioner in the process of appropriating or keeping the money after it
Note.—A review on certiorari of the decision of the Sandiganbayan calls for strict observance of
was handed to her, Two of the seven photographs that were taken outside the canteen appear
the presumption of innocence. The law creating the Sandiganbayan could stand improvement.
to be of no relevance to the operation.
(Nuñez vs. Sandiganbayan, 111 SCRA 433).
As the petitioner was admittedly handed the money, this explains why she was positive for ultra-
——o0o——
violet powder, It is possible that she intended to keep the supposed bribe money or may have
had no intention to accept the same. These possibilities exist but We are not certain.
4 The case was assigned to the First Division of the Sandiganbayan composed of Justices Francis
Garchitorena, Conrado Molina and Augusto Amores. Justice Molina prepared the Decision.
However, what is revealing is that Mrs. Sevilla and Mrs. Dimaano were present around the table
in the canteen with the petitioner and Mrs. Mutia when the latter allegedly handed the money to
5 The Decree was signed into law on December 10, 1978. The validity of the Decree has been
the petitioner. There were other persons in the premises like the PC agents whose identities
upheld in Nuñez v. Sandiganbayan, 111 SCRA 433 (1982).
petitioner possibly did not know. Under the circumstances and in such a public place it is not
probable that petitioner would have the nerve to accept bribe money from Mrs. Mutia even 6 Hernandez v. Court of Appeals, 149 SCRA 67 (1987). See Section 2, Rule 45.
under the table. If the petitioner knew and was prepared to accept the money from Mrs. Mutia
at the canteen. the petitioner would not have invited her officemate Mrs. Sevilla to join them. 7 Another available remedy is the special civil action for certiorari under Rule 65 when only
Mrs. Sevilla stated she did not see the alleged passing of the money. She could not have seen the jurisdictional issues are raised.
money as it was passed on under the table or when, as petitioner said, it was quickly placed in
her hand when she stood up. What Mrs. Sevilla is sure of is that when they were about to leave 8 124 SCRA 345 (1983).
the canteen, two (2) men approached petitioner, one of whom took pictures, and the petitioner
10 Article 211 of the Revised Penal Code provides as follows—“Art, 211. Indirect bribery.—The
shouted at Mrs. Mutia, “What are you trying to do to me?"13 The reaction of petitioner is far
penalties of arresto mayor, suspension in its minimum and medium periods, and public censure
from one with a guilty conscience.
shall be imposed upon any public officer who shall accept gifts offered to him by reason of his
Moral certainty, not absolute certainty, is needed to support a judgment of conviction. Moral office.”
certainty is a certainty that convinces and satisfies the reason and conscience of those who are to
11 TSN, February 12, 1985, pp. 6–7.
act upon a given matter.14 Without this standard of certainty, it may not be said that the guilt of
the accused in a criminal proceeding has been proved beyond reasonable doubt 12 Exhibits M to M-6.

With all these circumstances taken into account altogether, We are left at a loss as to the guilt of 13 TSN, September 18, 1985, pp. 6–7.
the accused. Overlooked by the Sandiganbayan, these facts and circumstances make out a good
case for the petitioner.

Accordingly, the Court holds that the guilt of the petitioner in Criminal Case No. 9634 has not
been proved beyond reasonable doubt. She is, therefore, entitled to an acquittal.

WHEREFORE, in view of the foregoing, the Decision of the Sandiganbayan in Criminal Case No.
9634 is hereby SET ASIDE. The petitioner Leonor Formilleza is hereby ACQUITTED on the basis of
reasonable doubt, We make no pronouncement as to costs. This Decision is immediately
executory.

SO ORDERED.

Teehankee (C.J.), Yap, Fernan, Narvasa, Gutierrez, Jr., Cruz, Paras, Padilla, Bidin, Sarmiento,
Cortés and Griño-Aquino, JJ., concur.
G.R. No. 175222. July 27, 2007.* Same; Same; Same; What is material is the proof that the transaction actually took place,
coupled with the presentation before the court of the corpus delicti.—In the case of People v.
PEOPLE OF THE PHILIPPINES, plaintiff-appellee, vs. RAMON QUIAOIT, JR., accused-appellant. Mala, 411 SCRA 327 (2003), we held that what is material is the proof that the transaction
actually took place, coupled with the presentation before the court of the corpus delicti. It bears
Criminal Law; Comprehensive Dangerous Drugs Act of 2002; Instigation; Entrapment; Distinction
emphasizing that neither the law nor jurisprudence requires the presentation of any of the
between “instigation” and “entrapment” explained in People vs. Quintana, 174 SCRA 675 (1989)
money used in a buy-bust operation, for the only elements necessary to consummate the crime
.—The demarcation line distinguishing “instigation” from “entrapment” is clearly drawn. In the
is proof that the illicit transaction took place, coupled with the presentation in court of the illicit
case of People v. Quintana, 174 SCRA 675 (1989), we explained the distinction between the two,
drug as evidence.
to wit—There is a wide difference between entrapment and instigation, for while in the latter
case the instigator practically induces the will be accused into the commission of the offense and APPEAL from a decision of the Court of Appeals.
himself becomes a coprincipal, in entrapment ways and means are resorted to for the purpose of
trapping and capturing the law breaker in the execution of his criminal plan. Instigation and The facts are stated in the opinion of the Court.
inducement must be distinguished from entrapment. The general rule is that instigation and
inducement to commit a crime, for the purpose of filing criminal charges, is to be condemned as The Solicitor General for plaintiff-appellee.
immoral, while entrapment, which is the employment of means and ways for the purpose of
Public Attorney’s Office for accused-appellant.
trapping and capturing the law breaker, is sanctioned and permissible. And the reason is obvious.
Under the first instance, no crime has been committed, and to induce one to commit it makes of
CHICO-NAZARIO, J.:
the instigator a co-criminal. Under the last instance, the crime has already been committed and
all that is done is to entrap and capture the law breaker. For review is the Decision1 of the Court of Appeals promulgated on 12 July 2006 in CA-G.R. CR-
H.C. No. 00803 entitled, “People of the Philippines v. Ramon Quiaoit, Jr. y De Castro,” affirming
Same; Same; Evidence; Witnesses; In cases involving the sale of illegal drugs, credence is given to
the Decision2 dated 1 December 2004 of the Regional Trial Court of Tarlac City, Branch 65, in
prosecution witnesses who are police officers, for they are presumed to have performed their
Criminal Case No. 13229, finding appellant guilty beyond reasonable doubt of violation of Article
duties in a regular manner, unless there is evidence to the contrary.—In challenging the
II, Section 5 of Republic Act No. 9165, otherwise known as “The Comprehensive Dangerous Drugs
existence of a legitimate buy-bust operation, appellant casts questionable, if not improper,
Act of 2002.”
motive on the part of the police officers. Unfortunately for appellant, jurisprudence instructs us
that in cases involving the sale of illegal drugs, credence is given to prosecution witnesses who The information against appellant reads as follows:
are police officers, for they are presumed to have performed their duties in a regular manner,
unless there is evidence to the contrary. Where there is nothing to indicate that the witnesses for “That at around 3:45 o’clock in the morning of April 13, 2004, at Tarlac City, Philippines, and
the prosecution were moved by improper motives, the presumption is that they were not so within the jurisdiction of this Honorable Court, accused, did then and there, willfully, unlawfully
moved and their testimony, therefore, is entitled to full faith and credit. In this case, the records and criminally sell, dispense and deliver 0.851 gram of Methamphetamine Hydrochloride, known
are bereft of any indication which even remotely suggests ill motive on the part of the police as Shabu, a dangerous drug, to poseur buyer PO1 Mark Anthony Baquiran for P500.00, without
officers. being authorized by law.”3

Same; Same; Same; Buy-Bust Operations; There is no textbook method of conducting buy-bust Appellant pleaded not guilty when arraigned on 5 May 2004.4
operations; Court has left to the discretion of police authorities the selection of effective means
to apprehend drug dealers.—Neither can we give credence to appellant’s contention that the During the trial, the prosecution presented the following witnesses: P/Sr. Insp. Ma. Luisa G.
existence of a valid buy-bust operation was betrayed by the inadequate training of the members David, a Forensic Chemical Officer of the Philippine National Police (PNP) Crime Laboratory
of the team for, it must be stated here, there is no textbook method of conducting buybust assigned at the Tarlac Provincial Crime Laboratory; PO2 Ronnie Dueña, a member of the buy-bust
operations. The Court has left to the discretion of police authorities the selection of effective operation team and the one who arrested appellant; and PO1 Mark Anthony Baquiran, a
means to apprehend drug dealers. member of the PNP and the designated poseur-buyer.

Same; Same; Same; Elements Essential in the Prosecution of Illegal Sale of Regulated or The prosecution’s version of the case is as follows:
Prohibited Drugs.—In order to successfully prove the existence of the illegal sale of regulated or
At around 11:00 o’clock in the evening of 12 April 2004, the Tarlac PNP received a report from a
prohibited drugs, the prosecution must be able to establish the following elements of the crime:
confidential informant that someone was selling shabu at the Golden Miles,5 a videoke bar
(1) the identity of the buyer and seller, the object, and the consideration; and (2) the delivery of
located in Barangay San Roque, Tarlac City. Acting on said information, a team was immediately
the thing sold and the payment therefor.
organized by PNP Provincial Director Rudy Gamido Lacadin to conduct a surveillance in order to Appellant claimed that at around 1:00 o’clock in the morning of 13 April 2004, he went to the
verify the information and perform a buy-bust operation. Golden Miles in order to meet a friend of his. While he was having drinks, PO1 Baquiran saw him
and asked if he had company and he replied that he was by himself. He alleged that he knew PO1
Shortly thereafter, the team went to Golden Miles where they initially observed the movements Baquiran as he used to be a police asset. PO1 Baquiran then inquired if he was familiar with a
of appellant who was with the confidential informant at that time. Later, the informant certain August Medrano who was a drug pusher in their place. When he answered in the
introduced PO1 Baquiran to appellant and the two negotiated the sale of shabu. According to affirmative, PO1 Baquiran supposedly instructed him to buy P500.00 worth of shabu from
PO1 Baquiran’s testimony, appellant handed to him a plastic sachet containing white crystalline Medrano. He was also allegedly ordered by PO1 Baquiran to bring Medrano with him to Golden
substance in front of The Golden Miles’ comfort room which was located at the back of said Miles. He initially declined to follow PO1 Baquiran’s instructions since he no longer worked with
establishment.6 In return, he gave appellant a marked P500.00 bill. As soon as the exchange the police. PO1 Baquiran, however, represented that he was the one who would buy shabu from
between appellant and PO1 Baquiran took place, the latter gave his companions the prearranged Medrano and not appellant. Despite this, appellant alleged that he was “forced”9 to buy shabu
signal by scratching his head. PO2 Dueñas and PO1 Cabradilla moved in to arrest appellant. The himself after PO1 Baquiran told him that “(they) need August Medrano.”10
plastic sachet containing white crystalline substance was later marked RID 1 by PO2 Dueñas.
And so, from Golden Miles, appellant proceeded to Medrano’s house. He informed Medrano that
On their way back to Camp Makabulos, the informant allegedly told the buy-bust team, through someone was interested in buying shabu but the prospective buyer wanted to talk to him in
a text message, that appellant still had in his possession illegal drugs other than that which he person. Medrano refused appellant’s invitation claiming that he had to go somewhere else;
had sold to PO1 Baquiran. Thus, upon reaching the camp, they frisked appellant and this yielded instead, he gave the plastic sachet containing shabu to appellant and the latter gave him the
six more plastic sachets, the contents of which were similar to those earlier bought by PO1 P500.00 earlier given by PO1 Baquiran. After this, appellant went back to Golden Miles to inform
Baquiran. PO1 Baquiran of what had just transpired between him and Medrano including the latter’s
refusal to go with him. He also handed over to said police officer the plastic sachet containing
All seven pieces of the plastic sachets were then forwarded to the Provincial Crime Laboratory
shabu which he bought from Medrano. All of a sudden, PO1 Baquiran placed his hand over
for examination. The test was conducted by P/Sr. Insp. David, and her report7 contained the
appellant’s shoulder and the latter was then taken to Camp Makabulos.
following pertinent information:
At the camp, PO2 Dueñas called for a certain PO4 Donato for whom appellant used to act as a
SPECIMEN SUBMITTED:
police asset. PO4 Donato allegedly asked appellant if it was possible for him to buy some more
shabu from Medrano. Appellant purportedly replied in the negative claiming that the personnel
Seven (7) heat-sealed transparent plastic sachets with markings “RID-1” through “RID-7” and
at Golden Miles already knew about his arrest. To this, PO4 Donato reportedly retorted, “How
marked as specimen “A” through “G,” respectively, each containing white crystalline substance
could we release you when this August Medrano is not yet arrested.”11 Appellant claimed that
having a total weight of 0.851 gram. x x x.
he was surprised by PO4 Donato’s statement since he was only doing the police force a favor.
PURPOSE OF LABORATORY EXAMINATION:
Appellant also denied having possessed the other six plastic sachets of shabu, insisting that he
bought only one heatsealed plastic sachet from Medrano which he turned over to PO1 Baquiran.

To determine the presence of dangerous drugs x x x After trial, the court a quo found appellant guilty as charged. The dispositive portion of the trial
court’s Decision reads:
FINDINGS:
“Wherefore, the prosecution having established the guilt of the [appellant] beyond reasonable
Qualitative examination conducted on the above-stated specimen gave POSITIVE results to the doubt of the crime of Violation of Sec. 5, Art. II of RA 9165, the accused RAMON QUIAOIT JR. y DE
tests for the presence of Methylamphetamine Hydrochloride, a dangerous drug. x x x. CASTRO is sentenced to undergo a prison term of life imprisonment, to pay a fine of
Php500,000.00 and to pay the cost.”12
CONCLUSION:
On 8 February 2005, appellant filed a Notice of Appeal.13 The Court of Appeals, in its Decision
Specimen “A” through “G” contain Methylamphetamine Hydrochloride, a dangerous drug. x x dated 12 July 2006, affirmed the findings and conclusion of the trial court, thus:
x.”8
“WHEREFORE, the present appeal is DENIED. The December 1, 2004 Decision of the Regional
Expectedly, appellant presented a disparate narration of the incident: Trial Court of Tarlac City, Branch 65, in Criminal Case No. 13229, is hereby AFFIRMED in toto.”14
Aggrieved, appellant is now before us assailing the above-mentioned Decision of the Court of condemned as immoral, while entrapment, which is the employment of means and ways for the
Appeals. In our Resolution of 21 January 2007, we required the parties to file their respective purpose of trapping and capturing the law breaker, is sanctioned and permissible. And the
supplemental briefs if they so desired. Appellant manifested that he was adopting the reason is obvious. Under the first instance, no crime has been committed, and to induce one to
Appellant’s Brief dated 7 September 2005 which he previously filed before the Court of Appeals commit it makes of the instigator a co-criminal. Under the last instance, the crime has already
in order to avoid the repetition of substantially the same arguments.15 Similarly, the Office of been committed and all that is done is to entrap and capture the law breaker.”20
the Solicitor General manifested that it was no longer filing a supplemental brief.16
In the case at bar, we find appellant’s claim of instigation to be baseless. To recall appellant’s
In his brief, appellant impugns the trial court’s decision on the following grounds: version of the story, PO1 Baquiran approached him that night inquiring about Medrano, the
alleged object of the buy-bust operation. PO1 Baquiran then gave him a P500.00 bill to be used
I. THE TRIAL COURT GRAVELY ERRED IN NOT TAKING INTO CONSIDERATION THE ABSOLUTORY for purchasing shabu from Medrano; but PO1 Baquiran had an additional instruction for
CIRCUMSTANCE OF INSTIGATION. appellant which was to bring along Medrano to Golden Miles. While appellant was able to talk
II. THE TRIAL COURT GRAVELY ERRED IN DISREGARDING THE ACCUSED-APPELLANT’S DEFENSE OF
with Medrano, he was unable to convince the latter to accompany him back to Golden Miles.
FRAME-UP.
III. THE TRIAL COURT GRAVELY ERRED IN CONVICTING THE ACCUSED-APPELLANT DESPITE THE Such being the case, we fail to see anymore reason for him to still buy shabu considering that he
PROSECUTION’S FAILURE TO IDENTIFY THE CORPUS DELICTI. knew fully well that he would be unable to fully abide by PO1 Baquiran’s instructions.
IV. THE TRIAL COURT GRAVELY ERRED IN CONVICTING THE ACCUSED-APPELLANT OF VIOLATION Furthermore, we scrutinized the records of this case and failed to discern any “force” that was
OF SECTION 5, ARTICLE II, OF REPUBLIC ACT 9165, WHEN THE LATTER’S GUILT WAS NOT PROVEN exerted upon him by PO1 Baquiran. In fact, nowhere in appellant’s testimony did he aver that
BEYOND REASONABLE DOUBT.17 PO1 Baquiran insisted that he buy shabu from Medrano. We note that after appellant had
initially refused to take part in the buy-bust operation that night, PO1 Baquiran merely told him
In essence, appellant contends that the trial court erred in not finding that the buy-bust team that “(they) needed August Medrano” and nothing more.
instigated him into buying shabu from Medrano and that the prosecution failed to prove his guilt
by its failure to properly identify the sachet of shabu allegedly bought from him by PO1 Baquiran. THE COURT:
Q: What will you buy?
In support of the first error, appellant argues that the facts obtaining in this case reveal that he A: Shabu worth 5 hundred pesos, sir.
was a victim of instigation perpetrated by PO1 Baquiran. He emphasizes that despite his initial Q: Did he give you the money?
resistance to participate in the police operation that night, PO1 Baquiran, nevertheless, insisted A: Yes, sir.
ATTY. ABELLERA:
that he purchase shabu from Medrano with the specific instruction to bring the latter to Golden
Q: What again PO1 Baquiran says to buy and what else?
Miles. Appellant, likewise, points out that the money he used in acquiring shabu was supplied by A: “Take him along with you”.
PO1 Baquiran himself, thus, proving that it was said police officer who initiated the events which Q: Where?
led to his eventual arrest. A: At GMA Golden Miles, sir.
Q: And how much money did he hand to you?
Appellant further assails the existence of a valid buy-bust operation on the ground that the buy- A: Five hundred, sir.
bust team was composed of untrained and incompetent police officers. He claims that it was Q: And how many items will you buy?
“inconceivable”18 for such a team to be made up of police officers who had insufficient A: One sachet, sir.
Q: And how much is one sachet?
knowledge of how to properly conduct a buy-bust operation as shown by their failure to frisk
A: Five Hundred, sir.
appellant at the scene of the crime. Q: Now, you said that he asked you to buy from this Medrano, did you comply?
A: Yes, sir.
The demarcation line distinguishing “instigation” from “entrapment” is clearly drawn. In the case Q: By the way, what did you tell PO1 Baquiran concerning the task that he is asking you to do?
of People v. Quintana,19 we explained the distinction between the two, to wit— A: I told him I was already passed on that matter, I am now working. Then he told me that he will
be the one to buy but I was forced to buy, sir.
“There is a wide difference between entrapment and instigation, for while in the latter case the Q: How did he force you, Mr. Witness?
instigator practically induces the will be accused into the commission of the offense and himself A: He told me, “We need that August Medrano.”
becomes a co-principal, in entrapment ways and means are resorted to for the purpose of Q: And how did you find this August Medrano?
trapping and capturing the law breaker in the execution of his criminal plan. A: I went to his house in Suizo, sir.
Q: Who told you that he lives in Suizo at that time?
A: My friend, sir.
Instigation and inducement must be distinguished from entrapment. The general rule is that
Q: What is the name of your friend?
instigation and inducement to commit a crime, for the purpose of filing criminal charges, is to be
A: Noel Mallari, sir.
Q: What did you use in going there? Quiaoit was really a victim of frame-up, then he should have filed an administrative or criminal
A: Single motorcycle, sir. case against these policemen. But he did not. Hence, his defense of frame-up must fail.
Q: And were you able [to] purchase a sachet of shabu from Medrano?
A: Yes, sir.21 Finally, Quiaoit’s defense of denial is a weak defense. Unless substantiated by clear and
convincing proof, it is self-serving and undeserving of any weight in law (see People v. Hampton,
To our mind, such innocuous statement on the part of PO1 Baquiran is inadequate to lead to the
395 SCRA 156). It cannot prevail over the positive identification by PO1 Baquiran that it was
conclusion that appellant was “forced” by the police to procure shabu. Moreover, appellant
Quiaoit who sold to him a sachet of “shabu” in the early morning of April 13, 2004 at Golden
himself admitted that he was all alone when he went to see Medrano at the latter’s house, far
Miles Beerhouse.”24
from the prying eyes and the perceived influence of PO1 Baquiran. Clearly, at that point, he could
have easily desisted from buying shabu from Medrano and chosen instead to go back to Golden Neither can we give credence to appellant’s contention that the existence of a valid buy-bust
Miles empty handed for he already knew before he bought the illegal drug that Medrano could operation was betrayed by the inadequate training of the members of the team for, it must be
not accompany him back to the said videoke bar. The fact that he persisted in buying shabu stated here, there is no textbook method of conducting buy-bust operations. The Court has left
despite the absence of PO1 Baquiran betrays his contention that said police officer “forced” him to the discretion of police authorities the selection of effective means to apprehend drug
to purchase shabu. dealers.25

In challenging the existence of a legitimate buy-bust operation, appellant casts questionable, if Anent the second issue, appellant maintains that the prosecution failed to establish his guilt
not improper, motive on the part of the police officers. Unfortunately for appellant, beyond reasonable doubt by its failure to properly identify the sachet of shabu which he sold to
jurisprudence instructs us that in cases involving the sale of illegal drugs, credence is given to PO1 Baquiran. Again, we disagree with appellant’s proposition.
prosecution witnesses who are police officers, for they are presumed to have performed their
duties in a regular manner, unless there is evidence to the contrary.22 Where there is nothing to In order to successfully prove the existence of the illegal sale of regulated or prohibited drugs,
indicate that the witnesses for the prosecution were moved by improper motives, the the prosecution must be able to establish the following elements of the crime: (1) the identity of
presumption is that they were not so moved and their testimony, therefore, is entitled to full the buyer and seller, the object, and the consideration; and (2) the delivery of the thing sold and
faith and credit.23 In this case, the records are bereft of any indication which even remotely the payment therefor.26
suggests ill motive on the part of the police officers. The following observation of the Court of
Appeals is indeed appropriate, thus: In the case of People v. Mala,27 we held that what is material is the proof that the transaction
actually took place, coupled with the presentation before the court of the corpus delicti. It bears
“In this case, the policemen categorically identified Quiaoit as the one subject of the “buy-bust” emphasizing that neither the law nor jurisprudence requires the presentation of any of the
operation who agreed to sell to PO1 Baquiran a sachet of “shabu” in front of the restroom of money used in a buy-bust operation, for the only elements necessary to consummate the crime
Golden Miles Beerhouse after he was being introduced by the informant. As police officers, PO1 is proof that the illicit transaction took place, coupled with the presentation in court of the illicit
Baquiran and PO2 Dueñas had in their favor the presumption of regularity of performance of drug as evidence.28 In the present case, appellant insists that the prosecution failed to properly
duty. Furthermore, the defense failed to present any evidence to show that the police officers identify the sachet of shabu sold by appellant to PO1 Baquiran because of the buy-bust team’s
were improperly motivated to bear false witness against Quiaoit. While Quiaoit claimed that he failure to segregate the said sachet from those confiscated from him at Camp Makabulos.
was a former asset of the police and he knew the police officers who arrested him, yet, he did
not impute any ill-motive as to why the police officers would implicate him to drug pushing. This The pertinent portions of the testimony of PO1 Baquiran belies appellant’s claim:
fact bolsters the police officers’ claim that Quiaoit was, indeed, arrested in a buy-bust operation.
ATTY. ABELLERA:
Q. Mr. Witness did Dueñas mark these RID before Quiaoit was frisked?
Quiaoit’s claim that he was just being framed-up by the arresting officers does not inspire belief.
FISCAL
Appellant failed to show any motive why the policemen would implicate him in a crime for illegal
No basis.
possession of prohibited drugs. It is the settled rule that where there is nothing to indicate that a ATTY. ABELLERA
witness was actuated by improper motives, his/her positive and categorical declarations on the Q. Mr. Witness, you said that this RID 1, these RID 2 and series where they mark these (sic)?
witness stand made under solemn oath, should be given full faith and credence. (People vs. Dela A. RID 2 and series were marked in Camp Makabulos.
Torre, 373 SCRA 104). Q. Did he marked (sic) them simultaneously or one at a time?
A. One at a time sir.
Moreover, there is nothing in the record that the police officers were trying to extort money Q. He was already marking after you handed this to him?
from Quiaoit during his apprehension up to the time he was brought to the police station. If A. The RID 1 was marked before Quiaoit was frisked.29
It is clear from PO1 Baquiran’s declaration that, contrary to appellant’s assertion, the packet of ——o0o——
shabu sold to PO1 Baquiran by appellant during the buy-bust operation was properly identified
and marked as RID 1 by PO2 Dueñas even before the police frisked appellant for more illegal 1 Penned by Associate Justice Elvi John S. Asuncion with Associate Justices Jose C. Mendoza and
drugs. With PO1 Baquiran’s testimony, there can no longer be any basis for vacillation with Arturo G. Tayag, concurring; Rollo, pp. 2-8.
2 Records, pp. 22-27.
respect to the identity of the object which he, acting as poseur buyer, obtained from appellant.
3 Id., at p. 1.
And, as the laboratory examination would later confirm, the contents of the sachet bearing the 4 Id., at p. 7.
mark RID 1 was positive for shabu. 5 Sometimes referred to in the records as “GM Golden Miles.”
6 TSN, 3 August 2004, p. 4.
All told, as the illegal sale of drugs had been established beyond reasonable doubt, this Court is 7 Exhibit “C” for the prosecution.
constrained to uphold appellant’s conviction. 8 Id.
9 TSN, 30 September 2004, p. 5.
We shall now determine the proper imposable penalty. 10 Id.
11 Id., at p. 8.
The sale of shabu is penalized under Section 5, Article II of Republic Act No. 9165. It reads: 12 Records, p. 27.
13 Id., at p. 30.
“SEC. 5. Sale, Trading, Administration, Dispensation, Delivery, Distribution and Transportation of
Dangerous Drugs and/or Controlled Precursors and Essential Chemicals.—The penalty of life 14 Rollo, p. 8.
15 Id., at p. 25.
imprisonment to death and a fine ranging from Five hundred thousand pesos (P500,000.00) to
16 Id., at p. 10.
Ten million pesos (P10,000,000.00) shall be imposed upon any person, who, unless authorized by
law, shall sell, trade, administer, dispense, deliver, give away to another, distribute, dispatch in 17 CA Rollo, p. 29.
transit or transport any dangerous drug, including any and all species of opium poppy regardless 18 Id., at p. 36.
of the quantity and purity involved, or shall act as a broker in any of such transactions.” 19 G.R. No. 83888, 30 June 1989, 174 SCRA 675.
21 TSN, 30 September 2004, pp. 4-6; emphasis supplied.
Under the law, the sale of any dangerous drug, regardless of its quantity and purity, is punishable 22 People v. Bongalon, 425 Phil. 96, 114; 374 SCRA 289, 304 (2002).
by life imprisonment to death and a fine of P500,000.00 to P10,000,000.00. The statute, in 23 People v. Pacis, 434 Phil. 148, 159; 384 SCRA 684, 693 (2002).
24 CA Rollo, p. 78.
prescribing the range of penalties imposable, does not concern itself with the amount of
25 People v. Nicolas, G.R. No. 170234, 8 February 2007, 515 SCRA 187.
dangerous drug sold by an accused. With the effectivity, however, of Republic Act No. 9346, 26 Suson v. People of the Philippines, G.R. No. 152848, 12 July 2006, 494 SCRA 691, 699.
otherwise known as “An Act Prohibiting the Imposition of Death Penalty in the Philippines,” the 27 458 Phil. 180, 190; 411 SCRA 327, 334 (2003).
imposition of the supreme penalty of death has been proscribed. Consequently, the penalty to 28 People v. Astudillo, 440 Phil. 203, 224; 391 SCRA 536, 555 (2002).
be meted to appellant shall only be life imprisonment and fine. In this regard, this Court likewise 29 TSN, 3 August 2004, p. 12.
sustains the penalty imposed by the court a quo and which was subsequently affirmed by the
Court of Appeals.

WHEREFORE, premises considered, the instant appeal is DISMISSED. The Decision of the Court of
Appeals in CA-G.R. CR-H.C. No. 00803 dated 12 July 2006 which affirmed in toto the decision of
the Regional Trial Court of Tarlac City, Branch 65, in Criminal Case No. 13229, finding appellant
Ramon Quiaoit, Jr. y de Castro guilty of violation of Section 5, Article II of Republic Act No. 9165,
is AFFIRMED.

SO ORDERED.

Ynares-Santiago (Chairperson), Austria-Martinez and Nachura, JJ., concur.

Appeal dismissed, judgment affirmed in toto.

Note.—There is no rigid or textbook method in conducting buy-bust operations. (People vs.


Ahmad, 419 SCRA 677 [2004])
G.R. No. 171019. February 23, 2007.* Objection to evidence cannot be raised for the first time on appeal; when a party desires the
court to reject the evidence offered, he must so state in the form of objection. Without such
THE PEOPLE OF THE PHILIPPINES, appellee, vs. RAFAEL STA. MARIA y INDON, appellant. objection he cannot raise the question for the first time on appeal.

Criminal Law; Dangerous Drugs Act; Entrapment Distinguished from Instigation.—In entrapment, APPEAL from a decision of the Court of Appeals.
the entrapper resorts to ways and means to trap and capture a lawbreaker while executing his The facts are stated in the opinion of the Court.
criminal plan. In instigation, the instigator practically induces the would-be-defendant into The Solicitor General for appellee.
committing the offense, and himself becomes a co-principal. In entrapment, the means Public Attorney’s Office for appellant.
originates from the mind of the criminal. The idea and the resolve to commit the crime come GARCIA, J.:
from him. In instigation, the law enforcer conceives the commission of the crime and suggests to
Under consideration is this appeal by Rafael Sta. Maria y Indon from the Decision1 dated
the accused who adopts the idea and carries it into execution. The legal effects of entrapment do
November 22, 2005 of the Court of Appeals (CA) in CA-G.R. CR-H.C. No. 00802, denying his earlier
not exempt the criminal from liability. Instigation does.
appeal from and affirming the May 5, 2004 decision2 of the Regional Trial Court (RTC) of Bulacan,
Same; Same; Statutory Construction; Where great inconvenience will result from a particular Branch 20, which found him guilty beyond reasonable doubt of the crime of violation of Section
construction or great public interests would be endangered or sacrificed, or great mischief done, 5,3 Article II of Republic Act No. 9165, otherwise known as the Comprehensive Dangerous Drugs
such construction is to be avoided or the court ought to presume that such construction was not Act of 2002.
intended by the makers of the law unless required by clear and unequivocal words.—Cursory
The indicting Information,4 docketed in the RTC as Criminal Case No. 3364-M-2002, alleges:
read, the foregoing provision is silent as to the consequences of failure on the part of the law
enforcers to transfer drug-related cases to the PDEA, in the same way that the Implementing “That on or about the 29th day of November, 2002, in the municipality of San Rafael, province of
Rules and Regulations (IRR) of Republic Act No. 9165 is also silent on the matter. But by no Bulacan, Philippines, and within the jurisdiction of this Honorable Court, the above-named
stretch of imagination could this silence be interpreted as a legislative intent to make an arrest accused, without authority of law and legal justification, did then and there willfully, unlawfully
without the participation of PDEA illegal nor evidence obtained pursuant to such an arrest and feloniously sell, trade, deliver, give away, dispatch in transit and transport Contrary to law.”
inadmissible. It is a well-established rule of statutory construction that where great
inconvenience will result from a particular construction, or great public interests would be Duly arraigned on January 23, 2003, appellant pleaded “Not Guilty” to the crime charged. Trial
endangered or sacrificed, or great mischief done, such construction is to be avoided, or the court ensued thereafter.
ought to presume that such construction was not intended by the makers of the law, unless
required by clear and unequivocal The prosecution’s version of events which led to appellant’s arrest and subsequent prosecution
under the aforementioned Information is as follows:
Same; Same; Same; Section 86 is explicit only in saying that the Philippine Drug Enforcement
Agency (PDEA) shall be the “lead agency” in the investigations and prosecutions of drug-related On November 27, 2002, at around 10:00 o’clock in the morning, P/Chief Insp. Noli Pacheco, Chief
cases.—As we see it, Section 86 is explicit only in saying that the PDEA shall be the “lead agency” of the Provincial Drug Enforcement Group of the Bulacan Provincial Office based at Camp Alejo
in the investigations and prosecutions of drug-related cases. Therefore, other law enforcement Santos, Malolos, Bulacan received an intelligence report about the illegal drug activities in Sitio
bodies still possess authority to perform similar functions as the PDEA as long as illegal drugs Gulod, Barangay Pantubig, San Rafael, Bulacan of a certain “Fael,” who later turned out to be
cases will eventually be transferred to the latter. Additionally, the same provision states that appellant Rafael Sta. Maria. P/Chief Insp. Pacheco formed a surveillance team to look for a police
PDEA, serving as the implementing arm of the Dangerous Drugs Board, “shall be responsible for asset to negotiate a drug deal with appellant. In the morning of November 29, 2002, the
the efficient and effective law enforcement of all the provisions on any dangerous drug and/or surveillance team reported to P/Chief Insp. Pacheco that a confidential asset found by the team
controlled precursor and essential chemical as provided in the Act.” had already negotiated a drug deal for the purchase of P200 worth of shabu from appellant at
the latter’s house at No. 123 Sitio Gulod, Barangay Pantubig, San Rafael, Bulacan between 7:00
Appeals; Objection to evidence cannot be raised for the first time on appeal.—The law excuses and 7:30 in the evening of November 29, 2002. The surveillance team then prepared for a buy-
non-compliance under justifiable grounds. However, whatever justifiable grounds may excuse bust operation, with PO3 Enrique Rullan as team leader, and PO1 Rhoel Ventura, who was
the police officers involved in the buy-bust operation in this case from complying with Section 21 provided with two (2) marked P100bills, as poseur-buyer. At the appointed time and place, PO1
will remain unknown, because appellant did not question during trial the safekeeping of the Ventura and the confidential informant proceeded to appellant’s house and knocked at the door.
items seized from him. Indeed, the police officers’ alleged violations of Sections 21 and 86 of Appellant opened the door and the confidential informant introduced to him PO1 Ventura as a
Republic Act No. 9165 were not raised before the trial court but were instead raised for the first prospective buyer. PO1 Ventura later handed the two (2) marked P100-bills to appellant who, in
time on appeal. In no instance did appellant least intimate at the trial court that there were turn, gave him a plastic sachet of shabu. Thereupon, PO1 Ventura sparked his cigarette lighter,
lapses in the safekeeping of seized items that affected their integrity and evidentiary value. which was the pre-arranged signal to the other members of the buy-bust team that the sale was
consummated. Appellant was arrested and the two marked P100-bills recovered from him. Also “x x x The Court sees no reason to disturb the finding of trial court. The evidence presented by
arrested on that occasion was one Zedric dela Cruz who was allegedly sniffing shabu inside the prosecution proves to a moral certainty appellant’s guilt of the crime of selling illegal drugs.
appellant’s house and from whom drug paraphernalia were recovered. Upon laboratory What is material is proof that the transaction or sale actually took place, coupled with the
examination of the item bought from appellant, the same yielded positive for presentation in court of the substance seized as evidence.
methylampetamine hydrochloride or shabu weighing 0.041 gram.
WHEREFORE, the appeal is DENIED. The decision of the Regional Trial Court is hereby AFFIRMED.
The defense gave an entirely different account of what allegedly transpired prior to and at the Costs de oficio.
time of appellant’s arrest on that evening of November 29, 2002. SO ORDERED.”

Appellant testified that on November 29, 2002, he was at home with a certain Zedric dela Cruz The case is again with this Court following its elevation from the CA, together with the case
records.
who was allegedly offering him a cellphone for sale and collecting payment on a loan of his wife.
In his Brief, appellant contends that the trial court erred in convicting him because his guilt was
At that time, his wife was out of the house to pay their electric bill. While waiting for his wife, he
not proven beyond reasonable doubt. He maintains that instigation, not entrapment, preceded
and Zedric watched television when they heard the barking of dogs. Immediately, three (3) men
his arrest. He also faults the appellate court in not finding that the evidence adduced by the
suddenly barged into the house and announced that they were police officers while three other
prosecution was obtained in violation of Sections 21 and 86 of Republic Act No. 9165.
men stayed outside the house. The police officers frisked him and Zedric and searched the house.
He tried to complain about what they were doing but the police officers got mad and accused It is appellant’s submission that what transpired on that fateful evening of November 29, 2002
him of selling shabu. He replied that he does not know anything about drugs. Afterwards, he and was instigation and not a valid buy-bust operation. He would make much of the fact that the
Zedric were brought out of the house and handcuffed. While on board the police vehicle, the transaction between him and the police informant occurred on November 27, 2002, while the
police officers warned them to cooperate. The police officers also asked him to be their asset and buy-bust operation took place on November 29, 2002. To appellant, the informant, by
when he said that he does not know anything about it, they told him that they could file a case pretending that he was in need of shabu, instigated or induced him to violate the anti-dangerous
against him. The police officers also offered to buy drugs from him but he refused the offer drugs law. He adds that the prosecution was not able to prove that at the time of the police
because he knows that it is only a plan for them to arrest him. surveillance, he was indeed looking for buyers of shabu, and that were it not for the inducement
of the informant that the latter would buy shabu, he would not have produced the same on
In a decision5 dated May 5, 2004, the trial court found appellant guilty beyond reasonable doubt
November 29, 2002.
of the offense charged, and accordingly sentenced him, thus:
We are not persuaded.
“WHEREFORE, premises considered, judgment is hereby rendered as follows:
In entrapment, the entrapper resorts to ways and means to trap and capture a lawbreaker while
3). In Criminal Case No. 3264-M-2002, the Court finds accused RAFAEL STA. MARIA Y INDON
executing his criminal plan. In instigation, the instigator practically induces the would-be-
guilty beyond reasonable doubt of Violation of Section 5, Article II of Republic Act 9165. He is
defendant into committing the offense, and himself becomes a co-principal. In entrapment, the
hereby sentenced to suffer the penalty of life imprisonment and is ordered to pay a fine of Five
means originates from the mind of the criminal. The idea and the resolve to commit the crime
Hundred Thousand Pesos (P500,000.00).
come from him. In instigation, the law enforcer conceives the commission of the crime and
suggests to the accused who adopts the idea and carries it into execution.
The dangerous drug and drug paraphernalia submitted as evidence in these cases are hereby
ordered to be transmitted to the Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency (PDEA).
The legal effects of entrapment do not exempt the criminal from liability. Instigation does.8
SO ORDERED.”
Here, the mere fact that the agreement between appellant and the police informant for the
purchase and sale of illegal drugs was made on November 27, 2002, while the buy-bust operation
From the aforesaid decision, appellant went directly to this Court. Pursuant to our
was conducted on November 29, 2002, is of no moment. Without more, it does not prove that
pronouncement in People v. Mateo,6 which modified the pertinent provisions of the Rules of
said informant instigated appellant into committing the offense. If at all, the earlier agreement
Court insofar as they provide for direct appeals from the RTC to the Supreme Court in cases
and the subsequent actual sale suggest that appellant was habitually dealing in illegal drugs.
where the penalty imposed is death, reclusion perpetua or life imprisonment, the Court
transferred the appeal to the CA for appropriate action and disposition, whereat it was docketed
It is no defense to the perpetrator of a crime that facilities for its commission were purposely
as CA-G.R. CR-H.C. No. 00802.
placed in his way, or that the criminal act was done at the “decoy solicitation” of persons seeking
to expose the criminal, or that detectives feigning complicity in the act were present and
On November 22, 2005, the CA promulgated the herein assailed Decision7 denying the appeal
apparently assisting its commission. Especially is this true in that class of cases where the offense
and affirming that of the trial court, to wit:
is one habitually committed, and the solicitation merely furnishes evidence of a course of operation and purchase from him of shabu. To reiterate, there is no showing that said police
conduct.9 officers were actuated by any ill or improper motive or intention in effecting the arrest of the
accused Sta. Maria and in testifying against him in Court. (See People v. Dela Cruz, 229 SCRA 754;
As here, the solicitation of drugs from appellant by the informant utilized by the police merely People v. Persiano, 233 SCRA 393).”11
furnishes evidence of a course of conduct. The police received an intelligence report that
appellant has been habitually dealing in illegal drugs. They duly acted on it by utilizing an Appellant would next argue that the evidence against him was obtained in violation of Sections
informant to effect a drug transaction with appellant. There was no showing that the informant 21 and 86 of Republic Act No. 9165 because the buy-bust operation was made without any
induced appellant to sell illegal drugs to him. involvement of the Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency (PDEA). Prescinding therefrom, he
concludes that the prosecution’s evidence, both testimonial and documentary, was inadmissible
It is a basic rule in evidence that each party must prove his affirmative allegation.10 In this case, having been procured in violation of his constitutional right against illegal arrest.
apart from appellant’s self-serving declaration that he was instigated into committing the
offense, he did not present any other evidence to prove the same. The argument is specious.

A perusal of the records readily reveals that the police operatives who took part in the buy-bust Section 86 of Republic Act No. 9165 reads:
operation, namely, PO1 Alexander Ancheta, PO1 Rhoel Ventura and PO3 Enrique Rullan, clearly
and convincingly testified on the circumstances that led to appellant’s arrest. In a credible “SEC. 86. Transfer, Absorption, and Integration of All Operating Units on Illegal Drugs into the
manner, they narrated in open court the details of the buy-bust operation they conducted on PDEA and Transitory Provisions.—The Narcotics Group of the PNP, the Narcotics Division of the
November 29, 2002 in Sitio Gulod, Barangay Pantubig, San Rafael, Bulacan. We thus quote with NBI and the Customs Narcotics Interdiction Unit are hereby abolished; however they shall
approval the trial court’s findings on this matter: continue with the performance of their task as detail service with the PDEA, subject to screening,
until such time that the organizational structure of the Agency is fully operational and the
“PO1 Ancheta, PO1 Ventura and PO2 Rullan testified on the aforementioned circumstances number of graduates of the PDEA Academy is sufficient to do the task themselves: Provided, That
concerning the drug buy-bust operation that led to the arrest of accused Sta. Maria, following such personnel who are affected shall have the option of either being integrated into the PDEA
the purchase from him of P200 worth of shabu by PO1 Ventura posing as poseur-buyer. The or remain with their original mother agencies and shall, thereafter, be immediately reassigned to
testimonies of these officers, as summarized above, are essentially clear credible and convincing. other units therein by the head of such agencies. Such personnel who are transferred, absorbed
Notwithstanding minor inconsistencies, their declarations in Court dovetail and corroborated one and integrated in the PDEA shall be extended appointments to positions similar in rank, salary,
another on material points, and are generally consistent with the narrations contained in their and other emoluments and privileges granted to their respective positions in their original
“Joint Affidavit of Arrest” (Exh. “D”) executed on December 2, 2002. More significantly, there is mother agencies.
no credible showing that the aforementioned police officers were impelled by any improper
motive or intention in effecting the arrest of accused Sta. Maria and in testifying against him in The transfer, absorption and integration of the different offices and units provided for in this
Court. Section shall take effect within eighteen (18) months from the effectivity of this Act: Provided,
That personnel absorbed and on detail service shall be given until five (5) years to finally decide
The Court also takes judicial notice of the fact that accused Sta. Maria had other criminal cases to join the PDEA.
before other branches of this Court for involvement in drug activities. He was charged with and
convicted by Branch 21 of this Court of Violation of Section 16, Article III of the Republic Act of Nothing in this Act shall mean a diminution of the investigative powers of the NBI and the PNP on
6425, as amended, also known as the “Dangerous Drugs Act of 1972,” following a voluntary plea all other crimes as provided for in their respective organic laws: Provided, however, That when
of guilty in Criminal Case No. 341-M-2001. He was likewise charged with Violation of Sections 15 the investigation being conducted by the NBI, PNP or any ad hoc anti-drug task force is found to
and 16 of the same law before Branch 81 under Criminal Cases Nos. 59-M-2000 and 60-M-2000, be a violation of any of the provisions of this Act, the PDEA shall be the lead agency. The NBI, PNP
which were dismissed on mere technicality because of non-appearance of the arresting officers. or any of the task force shall immediately transfer the same to the PDEA: Provided, further, That
the NBI, PNP and the Bureau of Customs shall maintain close coordination with the PDEA on all
The Court is not persuaded by the defense of denial interposed by accused Sta. Maria. According drug related matters.”
to him, the police officers just barged into his house on November 29, 2002 while he was
watching television together with co-accused Dela Cruz. He said, he was frisked and his place Cursory read, the foregoing provision is silent as to the consequences of failure on the part of the
searched, and he was arrested for no reason at all by the police officers. law enforcers to transfer drug-related cases to the PDEA, in the same way that the Implementing
Rules and Regulations (IRR) of Republic Act No. 9165 is also silent on the matter. But by no
The Court rules that the version bandied about by accused Sta. Maria is purely self-serving. It stretch of imagination could this silence be interpreted as a legislative intent to make an arrest
cannot prevail over the positive declarations of the police officers regarding the drug buy-bust
without the participation of PDEA illegal nor evidence obtained pursuant to such an arrest the accused or the person/s from whom such items were confiscated and/or seized, or his/her
inadmissible. representative or counsel, a representative from the media and the Department of Justice (DOJ),
and any elected public official who shall be required to sign the copies of the inventory and be
It is a well-established rule of statutory construction that where great inconvenience will result given a copy thereof.”
from a particular construction, or great public interests would be endangered or sacrificed, or
great mischief done, such construction is to be avoided, or the court ought to presume that such Regrettably, the pertinent implementing rules, Section 21 of the IRR, states:
construction was not intended by the makers of the law, unless required by clear and
unequivocal words.12 “Section 21. a. xxx Provided, further, that non-compliance with these requirements under
justifiable grounds, as long as the integrity and the evidentiary value of the seized items are
As we see it, Section 86 is explicit only in saying that the PDEA shall be the “lead agency” in the properly preserved by the apprehending officer/team, shall not render void and invalid such
investigations and prosecutions of drug-related cases. Therefore, other law enforcement bodies seizures of and custody over said items.”
still possess authority to perform similar functions as the PDEA as long as illegal drugs cases will
eventually be transferred to the latter. Additionally, the same provision states that PDEA, serving It is beyond quibbling then that the failure of the law enforcers to comply strictly with Section 21
as the implementing arm of the Dangerous Drugs Board, “shall be responsible for the efficient was not fatal. It did not render appellant’s arrest illegal nor the evidence adduced against him
and effective law enforcement of all the provisions on any dangerous drug and/or controlled inadmissible.
precursor and essential chemical as provided in the Act.” We find much logic in the Solicitor
The law excuses non-compliance under justifiable grounds. However, whatever justifiable
General’s interpretation that it is only appropriate that drugs cases being handled by other law
grounds may excuse the police officers involved in the buy-bust operation in this case from
enforcement authorities be transferred or referred to the PDEA as the “lead agency” in the
complying with Section 21 will remain unknown, because appellant did not question during trial
campaign against the menace of dangerous drugs. Section 86 is more of an administrative
the safekeeping of the items seized from him. Indeed, the police officers’ alleged violations of
provision. By having a centralized law enforcement body, i.e., the PDEA, the Dangerous Drugs
Sections 21 and 86 of Republic Act No. 9165 were not raised before the trial court but were
Board can enhance the efficacy of the law against dangerous drugs. To be sure, Section 86 (a) of
instead raised for the first time on appeal. In no instance did appellant least intimate at the trial
the IRR emphasizes this point by providing:
court that there were lapses in the safekeeping of seized items that affected their integrity and
“(a) Relationship/Coordination between PDEA and Other Agencies—The PDEA shall be the lead evidentiary value. Objection to evidence cannot be raised for the first time on appeal; when a
agency in the enforcement of the Act, while the PNP, the NBI and other law enforcement party desires the court to reject the evidence offered, he must so state in the form of objection.
agencies shall continue to conduct anti-drug operations in support of the PDEA xxx. Provided, Without such objection he cannot raise the question for the first time on appeal.13
finally, that nothing in this IRR shall deprive the PNP, the NBI, other law enforcement personnel
To recapitulate, the challenged buy-bust operation, albeit made without the participation of
and the personnel of the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) from effecting lawful arrests and
PDEA, did not violate appellant’s constitutional right to be protected from illegal arrest. There is
seizures in consonance with the provisions of Section 5, Rule 113 of the Rules of Court.
nothing in Republic Act No. 9165 which even remotely indicate the intention of the legislature to
Appellant next argues that the prosecution failed to show compliance with Section 21 of Republic make an arrest made without the participation of the PDEA illegal and evidence obtained
Act No. 9165 regarding the custody and disposition of the evidence against him. pursuant to such an arrest inadmissible. Moreover, the law did not deprive the PNP of the power
to make arrests.
Appellant demands absolute compliance with Section 21 and insists that anything short of the
adherence to its letter, renders the evidence against him inadmissible. Pertinently, Section 21 of WHEREFORE, the appeal is DENIED and the appealed decision of the CA, affirmatory of that of
the law provides: the trial court, is AFFIRMED.

“SEC. 21. Custody and Disposition of Confiscated, Seized, and/or Surrendered Dangerous Drugs, No pronouncement as to costs.
Plant Sources of Dangerous Drugs, Controlled Precursors and Essential Chemicals, SO ORDERED.
Puno (C.J., Chairperson), Sandoval-Gutierrez and Corona, JJ., concur.
Instruments/Paraphernalia and/or Laboratory Equipment.—The PDEA shall take charge and have
Azcuna, J., On Official Leave.
custody of all dangerous drugs, plant sources of dangerous drugs, controlled precursors and Appeal denied, judgment affirmed.
essential chemicals, as well as instruments/paraphernalia and/or laboratory equipment so Note.—In a buy-bust operation, the idea to commit a crime originates from the offender without
confiscated, seized and/or surrendered, for proper disposition in the following manner: anybody inducing or prodding him to commit the offense. (People vs. Valencia, 390 SCRA 696
[2002]) containing methylampetamine hydrochloride weighing 0.041 gram.
(1) The apprehending team having initial custody and control of the drugs shall, immediately
after seizure and confiscation, physically inventory and photograph the same in the presence of ______________________________
G.R. No. 192235. July 6, 2011.* Same; Same; Same; Presumption of Regularity; The presumption of regularity in the performance
of the police officers’ official duties should prevail over the self-serving denial of the accused.—
PEOPLE OF THE PHILIPPINES, appellee, vs. ROLANDO LAYLO y CEPRES, appellant. Further, appellant did not attribute any ill-motive on the part of the police officers. The
presumption of regularity in the performance of the police officers’ official duties should prevail
Criminal Law; Dangerous Drugs Act; Illegal Sale of Drugs; Elements.—The elements necessary for
over the self-serving denial of appellant.
the prosecution of illegal sale of drugs are: (1) the identity of the buyer and seller, the object, and
the consideration; and (2) the delivery of the thing sold and the payment. APPEAL from a decision of the Court of Appeals.
The facts are stated in the opinion of the Court.
Same; Same; Same; Attempted Sale of Dangerous Drugs; Where the sale was interrupted when Office of the Solicitor General for appellee.
the police officers introduced themselves as cops and immediately arrested the accused and his Public Attorney’s Office for appellant.
live-in partner, the sale was not consummated but merely attempted.—From the testimonies CARPIO, J.:
given, PO1 Reyes and PO1 Pastor testified that they were the poseur-buyers in the sale. Both The Case
positively identified appellant as the seller of the substance contained in plastic sachets which
Before the Court is an appeal assailing the Decision1 dated 28 January 2010 of the Court of
were found to be positive for shabu. The same plastic sachets were likewise identified by the
Appeals (CA) in CA-G.R. CR-H.C. No. 03631. The CA affirmed the Decision2 dated 16 September
prosecution witnesses when presented in court. Even the consideration of P200.00 for each
2008 of the Regional Trial Court (RTC) of Binangonan, Rizal, Branch 67, in Criminal Case No. 06-
sachet had been made known by appellant to the police officers. However, the sale was
017, convicting appellant Rolando Laylo y Cepres (Laylo) of violation of Section 26(b), Article II
interrupted when the police officers introduced themselves as cops and immediately arrested
(Attempted Sale of Dangerous Drugs) of Republic Act No. 91654 (RA 9165) or the Comprehensive
appellant and his live-in partner Ritwal. Thus, the sale was not consummated but merely
Dangerous Drugs Act of 2002.
attempted. Thus, appellant was charged with attempted sale of dangerous drugs. Section 26(b),
Article II of RA 9165 provides: Section 26. Attempt or Conspiracy.—Any attempt or conspiracy to The Facts
commit the following unlawful acts shall be penalized by the same penalty prescribed for the
commission of the same as provided under this Act: x x x (b) Sale, trading, administration, On 21 December 2005, two separate Informations against appellant Laylo and Melitona Ritwal
dispensation, delivery, distribution and transportation of any dangerous drug and/or controlled (Ritwal) were filed with the RTC of Binangonan, Rizal, Branch 67, docketed as Criminal Case Nos.
precursor and essential chemical; x x x. 06-017 and 06-018, respectively. The information against Laylo states:

Same; Same; Same; Frame-Up; Allegations of frame-up and extortion by police officers are Criminal Case No. 06-017
common and standard defenses in most dangerous drugs cases.—Appellant claims that he was a
victim of a frame up. However, he failed to substantiate his claim. The witnesses presented by “That on or about the 17th day of December, 2005, in the Municipality of Binangonan, Province
the defense were not able to positively affirm that illegal drugs were planted on appellant by the of Rizal, Philippines and within the jurisdiction of this Honorable Court, the above-named
police officers when they testified that “they saw someone place something inside appellant’s accused, not being authorized by law to sell any dangerous drug, did then and there willfully,
jacket.” In Quinicot v. People, 590 SCRA 458 (2009), we held that allegations of frame-up and unlawfully, and knowingly attempt to sell, deliver, and give away shabu to PO1 Angelito G. Reyes,
extortion by police officers are common and standard defenses in most dangerous drugs cases. 0.04 gram of white crystalline substance contained in two (2) heat-sealed transparent plastic
They are viewed by the Court with disfavor, for such defenses can easily be concocted and sachets which were found positive to the test for Methylamphetamine Hydrochloride, also
fabricated. known as shabu, a dangerous drug, thus commencing the commission of the crime of illegal sale
but did not perform all the acts of execution which would produce such crime by reason of some
Same; Same; Same; Same; Peddlers of illicit drugs have been known, with ever increasing cause or accident other than the accused’s own spontaneous desistance, that is, said PO1
casualness and recklessness, to offer and sell their wares for the right price to anybody, be they Angelito G. Reyes introduced himself as policeman, arrested the accused and confiscated the two
strangers or not.—Appellant asserts that it is unbelievable that he would be so foolish and (2) above-mentioned sachets from the latter.
reckless to offer to sell shabu to strangers. In People v. de Guzman, 539 SCRA 306 (2007), we
have ruled that peddlers of illicit drugs have been known, with ever increasing casualness and CONTRARY TO LAW.”5
recklessness, to offer and sell their wares for the right price to anybody, be they strangers or not.
What matters is not the existing familiarity between the buyer and the seller, or the time and Upon arraignment, both accused pleaded not guilty. Joint trial on the merits ensued. However,
venue of the sale, but the fact of agreement as well as the act constituting the sale and delivery during the trial, Ritwal jumped bail and was tried in absentia. Thus, Ritwal was deemed to have
of the prohibited drugs. waived the presentation of her evidence and the case was submitted for decision without any
evidence on her part.
The prosecution presented two witnesses: Police Officer 1 (PO1) Angelito G. Reyes (PO1 Reyes) Teresita Marquez (Marquez) testified that while she was fetching water from the well on 17
and PO1 Gem A. Pastor (PO1 Pastor), the poseur-buyers in the attempted sale of illegal drugs. December 2005, at around 5:00 or 6:00 p.m., she heard Laylo’s son shouting, “Amang, Amang.”
Marquez then saw the child run to his father, who was with several male companions. Then
The prosecution summed up its version of the facts: In the afternoon of 17 December 2005, PO1 someone pulled Laylo’s collar and frisked him. Marquez overheard someone uttering, “Wala po,
Reyes and PO1 Pastor, both wearing civilian clothes, were conducting anti-drug surveillance wala po.” Marquez went home after the incident. At around 9:00 in the evening, Ritwal’s
operations at Lozana Street, Calumpang, Binangonan, Rizal. While the police officers were in daughter visited her and borrowed money for Laylo and Ritwal’s release. Marquez then
front of a sari-sari store at around 5:40 p.m., appellant Laylo and his live-in partner, Ritwal, accompanied Ritwal’s daughter to the municipal hall, where a man demanded P40,000.00 for the
approached them and asked, “Gusto mong umiskor ng shabu?” PO1 Reyes replied, “Bakit couple’s release.
mayroon ka ba?” Laylo then brought out two plastic bags containing shabu and told the police
officers, “Dos (P200.00) ang isa.” Upon hearing this, the police officers introduced themselves as In its Decision dated 16 September 2008, the RTC found Laylo and Ritwal guilty beyond
cops. PO1 Reyes immediately arrested Laylo. Ritwal, on the other, tried to get away but PO1 reasonable doubt of violations of RA 9165. The RTC gave credence to the testimonies of the
Pastor caught up with her. PO1 Pastor then frisked Ritwal and found another sachet of shabu in a police officers, who were presumed to have performed their duties in a regular manner. The RTC
SIM card case which Ritwal was carrying. stated that Reyes and Pastor were straightforward and candid in their testimonies and unshaken
by cross-examination. Their testimonies were unflawed by inconsistencies or contradictions in
PO1 Reyes and PO1 Pastor marked the three plastic sachets of shabu recovered from Laylo and their material points. The RTC added that the denial of appellant Laylo is weak and self-serving
Ritwal and forwarded them to the Philippine National Police Crime Laboratory for forensic and his allegation of planting of evidence or frame-up can be easily concocted. Thus, Laylo’s
testing. Forensic Chemist Police Inspector Yehla C. Manaog conducted the laboratory defense cannot be given credence over the positive and clear testimonies of the prosecution
examination on the specimens submitted and found the recovered items positive for witnesses. The dispositive portion of the decision states:
methylamphetamine hydrochloride or shabu, a dangerous drug.
“We thus find accused Rolando Laylo GUILTY beyond reasonable doubt of violating Section 26(b)
The police officers charged Laylo for attempted sale of illegal drugs and used the two plastic of R.A. No. 9165 and sentence him to suffer a penalty of life imprisonment and to pay a fine of
sachets containing shabu as basis while Ritwal was charged for possession of illegal drugs using P500,000.00. We also find accused Melitona Ritwal GUILTY beyond reasonable doubt of violating
as basis the third sachet containing 0.02 grams of shabu. Section 11 of R.A. No. 9165 and illegally possessing a total of 0.02 grams of Methylamphetamine
Hydrochloride or shabu and accordingly sentence her to suffer an indeterminate penalty of 12
The defense, on the other hand, presented different versions of the facts. The witnesses
years and one day as minimum to 13 years as maximum and to pay a fine of P300,000.00.
presented were: appellant Laylo; Laylo’s three neighbors namely Rodrigo Panaon, Jr., Marlon de
Leon, and Teresita Marquez. Let the drug samples in this case be forwarded to the Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency
(PDEA) for proper disposition. Furnish PDEA with a copy of this Decision per OCA Circular No. 70-
Laylo testified that while he and his common-law wife, Ritwal, were walking on the street, two
2007.
men grabbed them. The two men, who they later identified as PO1 Reyes and PO1 Pastor,
dragged them to their house. Once inside, the police officers placed two plastic sachets in each SO ORDERED.”6
of their pockets. Afterwards, they were brought to the police station where, despite protests and
claims that the drugs were planted on them, they were arrested and charged. Laylo filed an appeal with the CA. Laylo imputed the following errors on the RTC:

To corroborate Laylo’s testimony, the defense presented Laylo’s three neighbors. Marlon de I. THE TRIAL COURT GRAVELY ERRED IN CONVICTING THE ACCUSED-APPELLANT OF THE
Leon (de Leon), also a close friend of the couple, testified that he was taking care of the Laylo and OFFENSE CHARGED DESPITE THE PROSECUTION WITNESS’ PATENTLY FABRICATED ACCOUNTS.
Ritwal’s child when he heard a commotion. He saw men, whom de Leon identified as assets, II. THE TRIAL COURT GRAVELY ERRED IN CONVICTING THE ACCUSED-APPELLANT OF THE
OFFENSE CHARGED WHEN HIS GUILT WAS NOT PROVEN BEYOND REASONABLE DOUBT.
holding the couple and claimed that he saw one of them put something, which he described as
III. THE TRIAL COURT GRAVELY ERRED IN CONVICTING THE ACCUSED-APPELLANT DESPITE THE
“plastic,” in the left side of Laylo’s jacket. APPREHENDING OFFICERS’ FAILURE TO PRESERVE THE INTEGRITY OF THE ALLEGED SEIZED
SHABU.7
Rodrigo Panaon, Jr. (Panaon) narrated that on 17 December 2005, at around 5:00 or 6:00 p.m., The Ruling of the Court of Appeals
he was on his way home when he saw Laylo arguing with three men in an alley. He overheard
Laylo uttering, “Bakit ba? Bakit ba?” Later, Panaon saw a commotion taking place at Laylo’s In a Decision dated 28 January 2010, the CA affirmed the decision of the RTC. The dispositive
backyard. The three men arrested Laylo while the latter shouted, “Mga kapitbahay, tulungan portion of the decision states:
ninyo kami, kami’y dinadampot.” Then Panaon saw someone place something inside the jacket
of Laylo as he heard Laylo say, “Wala kayong makukuha dito.”
“WHEREFORE, premises considered, the appeal is DISMISSED for lack of merit. The challenged A: At that time I don’t know the names but when they were brought to the police station I
decision of the court a quo is AFFIRMED. Costs against the accused-appellant. came to know their names, Ma’am.
Q: What are the names of these two persons?
SO ORDERED.”8 A: Rolando Laylo and Melitona Ritwal, Ma’am.
Q: At that time they approached you during the time you were conducting surveillance at
Hence, this appeal. Lozana Street, what happened?
A: The male person approached PO1 Reyes and asked if “iiskor”, Ma’am.
The Ruling of the Court Q: What was the reply of PO1 Reyes?
A: He answered “Bakit meron ka ba?”
The appeal lacks merit. Q: When that answer was given by Reyes, what did that male person do?
A: He produced two (2) small plastic sachets containing allegedly shabu
COURT: What do you mean by “dos ang isa”?
The elements necessary for the prosecution of illegal sale of drugs are: (1) the identity of the
A: Php 200.00, Your Honor.
buyer and seller, the object, and the consideration; and (2) the delivery of the thing sold and the PROS. ARAGONES:
payment.9 Q: Where were you when that male person produced two (2) small plastic sachets?
A: I was beside PO1 Reyes, Ma’am.
In the present case, PO1 Reyes narrated in court the circumstances of the illegal sale: Q: After he showed the plastic sachets containing drugs, what happened next?
A: We introduced ourselves as policemen, Ma’am.
PROS. ARAGONES: Q: After you introduced yourselves, what happened next?
Q: What time did you proceed to that place of surveillance? A: PO1 Reyes arrested the male person while I arrested the female person, Ma’am.
A: 5:40 p.m., Ma’am. Q: Why did you arrest the woman?
Q: And what happened when you and PO1 Gem Pastor went there? A: At that time, she was about to run I confiscated from her a SIM card case, Ma’am.
A: When we were making standby at a nearby store there was a man talking with a woman, the COURT: What was the contents of the SIM card case?
man asked me if we want to have a shot of shabu. A: One (1) piece of alleged shabu, Your Honor.11
Q: What was your reply?
A: “Bakit, meron ka ba?” From the testimonies given, PO1 Reyes and PO1 Pastor testified that they were the poseur-
Q: How did that other person react to that question, what did he tell you, if any? buyers in the sale. Both positively identified appellant as the seller of the substance contained in
A: “Gusto mong umiskor ng shabu?”
plastic sachets which were found to be positive for shabu. The same plastic sachets were likewise
Q: What happened after that?
A: I replied, “Bakit meron ka ba?” then he showed me two small plastic bags containing shabu, identified by the prosecution witnesses when presented in court. Even the consideration of
Ma’am. P200.00 for each sachet had been made known by appellant to the police officers. However, the
Q: How big is that bag, Mr. Witness? sale was interrupted when the police officers introduced themselves as cops and immediately
A: Small, Ma’am. arrested appellant and his live-in partner Ritwal. Thus, the sale was not consummated but merely
Q: Can you tell us the size? attempted. Thus, appellant was charged with attempted sale of dangerous drugs. Section 26(b),
A: (Demonstrating) Almost one inch the size of a cigarette, Ma’am. Article II of RA 9165 provides:
COURT: It was in a plastic not in foil?
A: Yes, your Honor.
“Section 26. Attempt or Conspiracy.—Any attempt or conspiracy to commit the following
PROS. ARAGONES:
Q: After showing you two plastic bags, what happened? unlawful acts shall be penalized by the same penalty prescribed for the commission of the same
A: I introduced myself as a police officer then I caught this man and confiscated the two small as provided under this Act:
plastic bag containing shabu.
Q: How about the lady? (b) Sale, trading, administration, dispensation, delivery, distribution and transportation of any
A: My partner caught the woman because she was intending to run away and he got from her dangerous drug and/or controlled precursor and essential chemical;
right hand Smart SIM card case containing one small plastic.10
PO1 Pastor corroborated the testimony of PO1 Reyes: Here, appellant intended to sell shabu and commenced by overt acts the commission of the
PROS. ARAGONES: intended crime by showing the substance to PO1 Reyes and PO1 Pastor.12 The sale was aborted
Q: Mr. Witness, while you were conducting surveillance on December 17, 2005, what when the police officers identified themselves and placed appellant and Ritwal under arrest.
happened?
From the testimonies of the witnesses, the prosecution was able to establish that there was an
A: While we were conducting surveillance at Lozana Street, Calumpang, Binangonan, Rizal,
while we were at the store, two (2) persons approached us, one male and one female, Ma’am. attempt to sell shabu. In addition, the plastic sachets were presented in court as evidence of
Q: Who were those persons? Did you come to know the name of those persons? corpus delicti. Thus, the elements of the crime charged were sufficiently established by evidence.
Appellant claims that he was a victim of a frame up. However, he failed to substantiate his claim.
The witnesses presented by the defense were not able to positively affirm that illegal drugs were
planted on appellant by the police officers when they testified that “they saw someone place
something inside appellant’s jacket.” In Quinicot v. People,13 we held that allegations of frame-
up and extortion by police officers are common and standard defenses in most dangerous drugs
cases. They are viewed by the Court with disfavor, for such defenses can easily be concocted and
fabricated.

Appellant asserts that it is unbelievable that he would be so foolish and reckless to offer to sell
shabu to strangers. In People v. de Guzman,14 we have ruled that peddlers of illicit drugs have
been known, with ever recklessness, to offer and sell their wares for the right price to anybody,
be they strangers or not. What matters is not the existing familiarity between the buyer and the
seller, or the time and venue of the sale, but the fact of agreement as well as the act constituting
the sale and delivery of the prohibited drugs.

Further, appellant did not attribute any ill-motive on the part of the police officers. The
presumption of regularity in the performance of the police officers’ official duties should prevail
over the self-serving denial of appellant.15

In sum, we see no reason to disturb the findings of the RTC and CA. Appellant was correctly
found to be guilty beyond reasonable doubt of violating Section 26(b), Article II of RA 9165.

WHEREFORE, we DISMISS the appeal. We AFFIRM the Decision dated 28 January 2010 of the
Court of Appeals in CA-G.R. CR-H.C. No. 03631.

SO ORDERED.

Leonardo-De Castro,** Brion, Perez and Sereno, JJ., concur.

Appeal dismissed, judgment affirmed.

Note.—Why a dealer would trust a buyer, which is to say the motive behind a drug deal, is not an
essential element of the drug-related offense. (People vs. Chua, 363 SCRA 562 [2001])

——o0o——
G.R. No. 185163. January 17, 2011.* confederating and both of them mutually helping and aiding with one another, without the
necessary license or prescription and without being authorized by law, did then and there,
PEOPLE OF THE PHILIPPINES, plaintiff-appellee, vs. CARLO MAGNO AURE y ARNALDO and willfully, unlawfully and feloniously sell, deliver, and give away P6,000.00 worth of
MELCHOR AUSTRIACO y AGUILA, accused-appellants. Methylamphetamine Hydrochloride (Shabu) weighing three point ninety-one (3.91) grams, a
dangerous drug.
Criminal Law; Comprehensive Dangerous Drugs Act of 2002; Illegal Sale of Dangerous Drugs;
What is material to the prosecution for illegal sale of dangerous drugs is the proof that the CONTRARY TO LAW.3
transaction or sale actually occurred, coupled with the presentation in court of the substance
seized as evidence.—In the prosecution for the crime of illegal sale of prohibited drugs under In Criminal Case No. 03-3297, the Information charged Aure with violation of Sec. 11, Art. II of RA
Sec. 5, Art. II of RA 9165, the following elements must concur: (1) the identities of the buyer and 9165, as follows:
seller, object, and consideration; and (2) the delivery of the thing sold and the payment for it.
What is material to the prosecution for illegal sale of dangerous drugs is the proof that the “That on or about the 26th day of August, 2003, in the City of Makati, Metro Manila, Philippines
transaction or sale actually occurred, coupled with the presentation in court of the substance and within the jurisdiction of this Honorable Court, the above-named accused, not being lawfully
seized as evidence. In the instant case, all these were sufficiently established by the prosecution. authorized to possess and/or use regulated drugs and without any license or proper prescription,
did then and there willingly, unlawfully, feloniously have in his possession, custody and control
Same; Same; Illegal Possession of Dangerous Drugs; The elements necessary for the prosecution Methylamphetamine Hydrochloride (Shabu) weighing eighty six point twenty-three (86.23)
of illegal possession of dangerous drugs are: (1) the accused is in possession of an item or object grams, which is a dangerous drug, in violation of the aforesaid law.
which is identified to be a prohibited drug; (2) such possession is not authorized by law; and (3)
the accused freely and consciously possessed the said drug.—As regards the charge of illegal CONTRARY TO LAW.”4
possession of dangerous drugs under Sec. 11, Art. II of RA 9165 against accused-appellant Aure,
And the Information in Criminal Case No. 03-4210 charged Austriaco with violation of Sec. 15,
We also find that the elements of the offense have been established by the evidence of the
Art. II of RA 9165, as follows:
prosecution. The elements necessary for the prosecution of illegal possession of dangerous drugs
are: (1) the accused is in possession of an item or object which is identified to be a prohibited
“That on or about the 26th day of August, 2003, in the City of Makati, Metro Manila, Philippines
drug; (2) such possession is not authorized by law; and (3) the accused freely and consciously
and within the jurisdiction of this Honorable Court, the above-named accused, not being lawfully
possessed the said drug.
authorized to use any dangerous drug, and having been arrested and found positive for the use
of Methylamphetamine after a confirmatory test, did then and there willfully, unlawfully and
APPEAL from a decision of the Court of Appeals.
The facts are stated in the opinion of the Court. feloniously use Methylamphetamine, a dangerous drug, in violation of the said law.
The Solicitor General for plaintiff-appellee.
Public Attorney’s Office for accused-appellant. CONTRARY TO LAW.”5
VELASCO, JR., J.:
The Case When arraigned in Criminal Case Nos. 03-3296 and 03-3297 on September 9, 2003, Aure and
Austriaco entered their negative pleas.6
This is an appeal from the May 12, 2008 Decision1 of the Court of Appeals (CA) in CA-G.R. CR No.
02600 entitled People of the Philippines v. Carlo Magno Aure and Melchor Austriaco, which Meanwhile, during the arraignment on February 19, 2004, Austriaco pleaded guilty in Criminal
affirmed the September 1, 2006 Decision2 in Criminal Case Nos. 03-3296, 03-3297, and 03-4210 Case No. 03-4210. The promulgation of the decision in this case was deferred pending
of the Regional Trial Court (RTC), Branch 64 in Makati City. The RTC found accused Carlo Magno submission by the defense counsel of a certification that he had not been convicted of the same
Aure (Aure) and Melchor Austriaco (Austriaco) guilty of violating Sections 5, 11, and 15, Article II offense.7
of Republic Act No. (RA) 9165 or the Comprehensive Dangerous Drugs Act of 2002.
Thereafter, a consolidated trial of Criminal Case Nos. 03-3296 and 03-3297 ensued.
The Facts
During trial, the prosecution presented three (3) witnesses, to wit: (1) Makati Anti-Drug Abuse
The Information in Criminal Case No. 03-3296 charged Aure and Austriaco with violation of Sec. Council (MADAC) operative Norman Bilason (Bilason), the designated poseur-buyer; (2) Police
5, Art. II of RA 9165. The Information reads: Officer 3 Jay Lagasca (PO3 Lagasca), the buy-bust team leader; and (3) MADAC operative Rogelio
Flores (Flores), one of the back-up operatives. On the other hand, the defense presented Aure
“That on or about the 26th day of August, 2003, in the City of Makati, Metro Manila, Philippines and Austriaco as its witnesses.8
and within the jurisdiction of this Honorable Court, the above-named accused, conspiring and
The Prosecution’s Version of Facts wrapping paper, empty plastic sachets, and glass pipe tooter. Also seized was a .45 caliber pistol
with one magazine and five live bullets found inside the car near the place where Aure was
At around 4:00 in the afternoon of August 26, 2003, an informant came to the Office of MADAC seated. Flores also recovered the marked money from Aure. The recovered items were marked
Cluster 2 and reported that a certain Carlo, later identified as Carlo Magno Aure, was rampantly by Bilason in the presence of Aure and Austriaco. PO3 Lagasca likewise explained to the two
selling illegal drugs along F. Nazario Street, Barangay Singkamas, Makati City.9 Aure was suspects the cause of their arrest and apprised them of their constitutional rights.
reportedly armed with a handgun and was using his car in his illegal transactions.10
Eventually, Aure and Austriaco were brought to the AIDSOTF office. The examinations conducted
Upon being apprised of the ongoing drug peddling, the Chief of the Drug Enforcement Unit of the by the Philippine National Police Crime Laboratory on the plastic sachets of suspected shabu and
Makati City Police Station immediately created a group of officers which would conduct a buy- the glass pipe tooter yielded positive results for Methylamphetamine Hydrochloride.15 This was
bust operation.11 Composing this team was PO3 Lagasca, as the team leader, with operatives indicated in Chemistry Report No. D-1068-0316 issued by Police Inspector Alejandro C. de
from both the police station’s Anti-Illegal Drug Special Operation Task Force (AIDSOTF) and Guzman.
MADAC’s Clusters 2 and 3 as members.
Version of the Defense
When a briefing was conducted, MADAC operative Bilason was assigned as the poseur-buyer to
be provided with 12 marked five hundred peso (PhP 500) bills, amounting to six thousand pesos Aure and Austriaco interposed the defense of denial.
(PhP 6,000).
Aure testified that on August 26, 2003, at around 8:00 in the evening, he fetched Austriaco in
After marking the 12 PhP 500 bills, the team, with the informant, went to the place where Aure Pasay City.17 The latter was referred to him by his compadre18 to repair the cabinet in the house
was reported to be conducting his trade. When they reached a point along Primo Rivera Street, he intended to lease on F. Nazario Street, Barangay Singkamas, Makati City. They proceeded to
about 30 meters away from F. Nazario Street, they alighted from their vehicles. MADAC the said house in Makati City on board Aure’s Toyota Celica.
operative Bilason and the informant walked towards F. Nazario Street, while the rest of the team
members followed them. At around 8:30 in the evening, while Austriaco was estimating the cost of materials to be used
for the repair of the cabinet, Aure heard knocks on the door. When he opened the door, he saw
Thereafter, when Bilason and the informant saw Aure and a certain “Buboy,” who turned out to 10 men in civilian clothes who immediately grabbed him and made him lie face down for about
be Austriaco, seating inside a car parked along F. Nazario Street, they approached the latter. In three minutes.
the meantime, the other team members strategically positioned themselves within the area to
monitor the transaction. This group of men allegedly began to search the house and seized the money amounting to PhP
200,000 which Aure intended to use for purchasing a taxi cab, among other things. During this
Bilason was introduced by the informant as a buyer of shabu. Aure initially expressed his time, Austriaco was standing beside the cabinet near the lavatory when someone ordered,
apprehension that Bilason could be an operative. Nevertheless, when the informant assured him “Kunin niyo na rin yung isa.”19
that Bilason is his friend from the province, Aure asked Bilason how much he needed. To this,
Bilason replied “Isang bolto, pare,”12 which meant six thousand pesos (PhP 6,000) worth of Thereafter, Aure was handcuffed and was subsequently brought to the office of the Drug
shabu. When demanded by Aure, Bilason handed the previously marked money to him. The Enforcement Unit.20 After about five to 10 minutes, he saw Austriaco, who was also handcuffed,
latter then placed the marked money inside his right front pocket. being brought inside the said office.21

Afterwards, Aure secured from Austriaco a small brown bag and a plastic sachet containing white Aure further testified that a plastic sachet of shabu was shown to him, and when he denied that
crystalline substance, suspected as shabu, taken from the same bag. Aure then handed over the the item came from him despite the arresting men’s insistence that this was in his possession, he
same plastic sachet with its contents to Bilason. was punched by a police officer. He also averred that a certain Rogelio Flores tried to extort
money from him. His wallet and license were allegedly taken from him by the persons who
After ascertaining that what Aure gave him was shabu, Bilason lighted his cigarette to signal to arrested him.
his team members that the transaction with Aure was already consummated. Immediately, PO3
Lagasca and MADAC operative Flores closed in.13 After introducing themselves as AIDSOTF and For his part, Austriaco recounted that in the evening of August 26, 2003, he was fetched by a
MADAC operatives, Bilason and his team members placed Aure and Austriaco under arrest, and certain Benjamin Zaide from his house in Pasay City to repair the cabinet of Aure.
ordered them to get out of the car.14
Together, they proceeded to the house of Benjamin Zaide, also in Pasay City, where Aure was
Subsequently, Bilason seized the small brown bag from Aure. When inspected, said bag yielded waiting. Thereafter, they proceeded to Aure’s house in Makati City.
another plastic sachet containing substantial amount of suspected shabu wrapped in red
Upon arriving at Aure’s house, Austriaco immediately attended to the cabinet he was supposed On May 12, 2008, the CA affirmed the judgment of the RTC. It ruled that all the elements
to repair. A few minutes later, he heard some noise coming from the direction of the stairs of the necessary to establish the fact of sale or delivery of illegal drugs were aptly established by the
house. Nonetheless, he went on with his work and just focused his attention on the cabinet he prosecution, to wit:
was estimating.22
“In the present controversy, the elements of the crimes charged were amply proven not only by
Austriaco further narrated that when Aure opened the door, he saw several men wearing civilian the categorical and materially consistent declarations of the poseur-buyer and two other
clothes enter the house and forcibly grab Aure. The latter stumbled and fell to the floor with his members of the buy-bust team, but also by laboratory examinations of the substance seized,
face down. The group of men began to search the house. Eventually, Austriaco saw Aure being drug test of one of the accused-appellants, affidavits, marked bills, and other reports which were
brought outside of Aure’s house. After two to three minutes, he was also taken out of the house all submitted in court. Taken collectively, these pieces of evidence bear out that the accused-
and was brought to the Criminal Investigation Division.23 appellants indeed sold a packet of white crystalline substance to MADAC operative and poseur-
buyer Norman Bilason in exchange for P6,000 and that the substance seized eventually tested
Ruling of the Trial Court positive for shabu. In the prosecution of the offense of illegal sale of prohibited drugs, what is
essential is the proof that the transaction or sale actually took place coupled with the
After trial, the RTC convicted Aure and Austriaco. The dispositive portion of its Decision reads:
presentation in court of the corpus delicti as evidence.”26 (Citations omitted.)
“WHEREFORE, in view of the foregoing judgment is rendered as follows:
The CA held also that in the absence of proof to suggest that the arresting officers were moved
by improper motives, the presumption of regularity in the performance of official duty, as well as
1. In Criminal Case No. 03-3296, for Violation of Section 5, Article II of Republic Act No. 9165,
the findings of the trial court on the credibility of witnesses, shall prevail over the self-serving
the accused CARLO MAGNO AURE y ARNALDO and MELCHOR AUSTRIACO y AGUILA are found
claim of having been framed.27 Further, the appellate court ruled that the statutory burden of
GUILTY beyond reasonable doubt of the offense charged and both are sentenced to suffer the
guilt beyond reasonable doubt was ably discharged by the prosecution. After all, it ratiocinated
penalty of LIFE IMPRISONMENT and each one to pay a fine of FIVE HUNDRED THOUSAND (PHP
that “proof beyond reasonable doubt” does not necessarily contemplate “absolute certainty” but
500,000.00) PESOS.
that degree of proof which produces conviction in an unprejudiced mind.
2. In Criminal Case No. 03-3297 for Violation of Section 11, Article II Republic Act No. 9165, the
The fallo of the CA Decision reads:
accused CARLO MAGNO
“WHEREFORE, in the light of the foregoing discussion, the present appeal is hereby DISMISSED.
AURE y ARNALDO is found GUILTY beyond reasonable doubt of the offense charged and
Accordingly, the decision of the court a quo dated 01 September 2006 is perforce affirmed in its
considering the quantity of shabu recovered from his possession which is 86.23 grams, is
entirety.
sentenced to suffer the penalty of LIFE IMPRISONMENT and to pay a fine of Five Hundred
Thousand (Php 500,000.00) [Pesos].
SO ORDERED.”28
3. In Criminal Case No. 03-4210, for Violation of Section 15 Article II, Republic Act No. 9165, the
On June 3, 2008, accused-appellants filed their Notice of Appeal.29
accused MELCHOR AUSTRIACO y AGUILA having pleaded GUILTY to the charge is sentenced to
undergo drug rehabilitation for at least six (6) months in a government rehabilitation center In our Resolution dated January 14, 2009,30 We notified the parties that they may file their
under the auspices of the Bureau of Corrections subject to the provisions of Article VIII of respective supplemental briefs if they so desired. On March 19, 2009, the People of the
Republic Act No. 9165. Philippines manifested that it was no longer filing a supplemental brief, as it believed that the
Brief for the Plaintiff-Appellee dated November 6, 2007 had thoroughly refuted and discussed
The Branch Clerk of Court is directed to transmit to the Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency
the lone issue raised by accused-appellants in the instant case.31 Similarly, accused-appellants,
(PDEA), the two (2) plastic sachets of shabu with a combined weight of 90.14 grams subject
on April 8, 2009, manifested that they were no longer filing a supplemental brief, as they are
matter of Criminal Cases Nos. 03-3296 and 03-3297 for said agency’s appropriate disposition.
adopting all the arguments contained in their Brief for the Accused-Appellants dated June 15,
2007.32
SO ORDERED.”24
The Issues
On appeal to the CA, Aure and Austriaco questioned the trial court’s decision in convicting them
despite their claim that the prosecution failed to prove their guilt beyond reasonable doubt.25
Accused-appellants contend in their Brief for the Accused-Appellants dated June 15, 200733 that:
Ruling of the Appellate Court
THE COURT A QUO GRAVELY ERRED IN FINDING THE ACCUSED GUILTY OF THE CRIME CHARGED Q: If this alias Carlo is present in court, will you be able to identify him?
NOTWITHSTANDING THE FAILURE OF the PROSECUTION TO PROVE their GUILT BEYOND A: Yes, sir.
REASONABLE DOUBT. Q: Will you please point him out to us?
A: (The witness pointed to a man who identified himself as Carlo Magno Aure y Arnaldo)
Our Ruling Q: How about Melchor Austriaco Mr. Witness, will you please point him out to us?
A: (The witness pointed to a man who identified himself as Melchor Austriaco y Aguila)
xxxx
We sustain accused-appellants’ conviction.
Q: What happened Mr. Witness after the operation was coordinated with the PDEA?
A: PO3 Jay Lagasca prepared the buy bust money, sir.
Proof of guilt beyond reasonable doubt adequately established by the prosecution
Q: And how much were you supposed to buy in the buy bust operation?
A: Worth P6,000.00 pesos, sir.
After a careful examination of the records of this case, We are satisfied that the prosecution’s
Q: And what were you supposed to buy?
evidence established the guilt of accused-appellants beyond reasonable doubt. A: Shabu, sir.
Q: You said that PO3 Jay Lagasca prepared the buy bust money?
In deciding this appeal, this Court is guided by the legal aphorism that factual findings of the CA, A: Yes, sir.
affirming those of the trial court, are binding on this Court, unless there is a clear showing that Q: Where were you when it was given to you?
such findings are tainted with arbitrariness, capriciousness, or palpable error.34 As this Court A: I was present, sir, beside PO3 Jay Lagasca, sir.
held in People v. Lusabio, Jr.:35 Q: If the buy bust money that was given to you by PO3 Jay Lagasca will be shown to you, will
you be able to identify the same?
“All in all, we find the evidence of the prosecution to be more credible than that adduced by A: Yes, sir.
Q: By the way, how much was given to you by PO3 Jay Lagasca?
accused-appellant. When it comes to credibility, the trial court’s assessment deserves great
A: Worth P6,000.00 pesos, sir.
weight, and is even conclusive and binding, if not tainted with arbitrariness or oversight of some
Q: And could you tell us in what denomination were those P6,000.00 pesos are?
fact or circumstance of weight and influence. The reason is obvious. Having the full opportunity A: Twelve (12) pieces of P500.00 peso bills, sir.
to observe directly the witnesses’ deportment and manner of testifying, the trial court is in a Q: If this [sic] twelve (12) pieces of P500.00 peso bills given to you by PO3 Jay Lagasca to be
better position than the appellate court to evaluate testimonial evidence properly.” (Emphasis used in that operation will be shown to you, will you be able to identify the same?
supplied; citations omitted.) A: I am very sure, sir.
Q: I’m showing to you Mr. Witness twelve (12) pieces of P500.00 peso bills. Will you please go
Here, accused-appellants failed to show any palpable error, arbitrariness, or oversight on the over the same and tell us what relation does that have to the money that was given to you by
findings of fact of the trial and appellate courts as to warrant a review of such findings. PO3 Jay Lagasca?
A: This is the same buy bust money that we used in the buy bust operation.
Q: x x x Why are you certain Mr. Witness that these are the same buy bust money that were
In the prosecution for the crime of illegal sale of prohibited drugs under Sec. 5, Art. II of RA 9165,
given to you by PO3 Jay Lagasca?
the following elements must concur: (1) the identities of the buyer and seller, object, and
A: Because of the marking above the serial number C2, sir.
consideration; and (2) the delivery of the thing sold and the payment for it.36 What is material to Q: What does this marking C2 stands for?
the prosecution for illegal sale of dangerous drugs is the proof that the transaction or sale A: Cluster 2, sir.
actually occurred, coupled with the presentation in court of the substance seized as evidence.37 Q: Who placed these markings above the serial numbers of the P500.00 peso bills?
In the instant case, all these were sufficiently established by the prosecution. A: Our team leader, PO3 Jay Lagasca, sir.
Q: Where were you when these markings were placed?
MADAC operative Bilason, the poseur-buyer, testified on the first element, thus: A: I’m just in front of him, sir.
Q: x x x Mr. Witness, what did you do next after the P500.00 peso bills were given to you by
Q: On August 26, 2003 at around 9:05 in the evening, where were you Mr. Witness? PO3 Jay Lagasca?
A: I’m at F. Nazario St., Brgy. Singkamas, Makati City, sir. A: After receiving the money, we proceeded to the area, sir.
Q: What were you doing in the said place? Q: Who was with you when you proceeded to the area?
A: We were conducting buy bust operation against a certain Carlo, sir. A: The confidential informant together with the buy bust team, sir.
Q: What was your participation in that buy bust operation that you were then conducting? xxxx
A: I was the poseur buyer. Q: You said that while you were walking at F. Nazario Street, you saw the [sic]?
xxxx A: The informant told me that that is the accused, sir.
Q: Could you tell us what happened to the buy bust operation that you conducted at F. Nazario Q: And what was the accused doing when you saw him?
St., Brgy. Singkamas, Makati City? A: He was seated inside the car and beside him on the driver side is a male person.
A: We successfully apprehended Carlo together with his companion Melchor Austriaco. xxxx
Q: And what was the other male person doing at that time that you saw accused Carlo Magno Q: What was the pre-arranged signal that you gave?
Aure? A: By lighting my cigarette, sir.
A: They were talking to each other, sir. Q: And what happened after the pre-arranged signal was given?
Q: Where was this other man at that time? A: Our team leader and my back up Rogelio Flores approached us and helped me in arresting
A: Beside him, sir, at the other side, sir. the suspect, sir.
Q: What happened after you saw the two men, Mr. Witness? Q: What happened Mr. Witness after you arrested the two accused?
A: The confidential informant introduced me to the subject alias Carlo and told him that I am in A: I got hold of Carlo Magno and I introduced myself as MADAC operative and we asked him to
need of shabu. go outside the vehicle, sir.
Q: So Mr. Witness, you said that you were introduced by the informant to accused Carlo Magno Q: And what happened after you ordered the two to get off the car?
Aure? A: Narecover ko po yung isang brown bag na naglalaman ng nakabot [sic] na kulay pulang
A: Yes, sir. birthday wrapping paper na shabu at glass tooter at saka may lamang mga plastic po.
Q: How were you introduced by the informant? Q: Mr. Witness, if the item that you bought from the accused will be shown to you, will you be
A: That I was in need of shabu, sir. able to identify the same?
Q: And what was the reply of accused Carlo Magno Aure? A: Yes, sir.
A: Carlo Magno Aure said that pare “parang parak yata yan tol?” Q: I’m showing to you Mr. Witness several pieces of object evidence. Will you please go over
Q: And when he said “parang parak yata yan tol?” to whom was he addressing this statement? these and identify the item that you bought from the accused?
A: To the informant. A: Sir, ito po mismo yung nabili ko kay Carlo Magno Aure worth P6,000.00 pesos.
Q: And what happened after he uttered those words Mr. Witness? Q: x x x Why are you certain that this is the same item that you bought?
A: Sumagot yung informant “barkada ko yan, taga probinsya.”38 A: Because of the marking CAA 8/26/03.
The second element¾the delivery of the thing sold and the payment for it¾was satisfied through Q: Who placed the markings on the sachet?
the testimony of witness Bilason: A: I was the one, sir.
Q: And what happened after that? Q: Where were you when you placed this marking?
A: “Tinanong ako ni Carlo Magno Aure kung magkano ang kukunin ko, sabi ko sa kanya isang A: In front of the accused, in the area where we arrested the accused.
bolto pare.” Q: What does the initial CAA stands for?
Q: When you said “isang bolto” what exactly do you mean? A: Carlo Magno Aure y Arnaldo, sir.
A: According to the informant worth P6,000.00 pesos “isang bolto.” Q: How did you come to know that the initial of accused Carlo Magno Aure was CAA at the time
Q: And what happened after you said “isang bolto?” that you made this marking?
A: He got the money from me and put it inside his right front pocket, sir. A: After arresting them and after confiscating all the items PO3 Jay Lagasca asked his name.
Q: And what happened after that? xxxx
A: He ordered his companion alias Buboy to get the brown bag and took out one plastic sachet, Q: By the way Mr. Witness, earlier you identified these pieces of evidence contained in this
sir. brown plastic bag. Why are you certain Mr. Witness that these are the same evidence, which you
Q: And what did he do with this plastic sachet? recovered from the possession of accused Carlo Magno Aure?
A: Alias Buboy handed to Carlo Magno Aure one plastic sachet containing white crystalline A: I was the one who marked that evidence that we recovered from Carlo Magno Aure, sir.
substance, the suspected shabu and the brown bag. Q: What happened to the buy bust money, Mr. Witness?
Q: After the plastic sachet and the brown bag were handed to accused Carlo Magno Aure what A: MADAC Rogelio Flores recovered the buy bust money from the front pocket of his worn
happened next? pants.
A: Alias Carlo gave me the one piece of transparent plastic sachet containing crystalline Q: From whom was it recovered?
substance, the suspected shabu. A: From Carlo Magno Aure, sir.
Q: If the male companion of Carlo Magno is inside the courtroom, will you be able to identify Q: Where were you when MADAC Flores recovered the money?
him? A: I was beside him, sir.
A: Yes, sir. Q: After you have arrested the two accused where did you go?
Q: Will you please point him out to us. A: We [went] to the Drug Enforcement Unit of the Makati Police Station.
A: (The witness pointed to a man who identified himself as Melchor Austriaco y Aguila) Q: And what happened at the Drug Enforcement Unit?
Q: So, you are referring to accused Melchor Austriaco y Aguila? A: To give the evidence to the duty investigator PO1 Alex Inopia and PO1 Alex Inopia made a
A: Yes, sir. request for laboratory examination of the specimen recovered from Carlo Magno Aure and drug
Q: What happened next Mr. Witness after accused Carlo Magno Aure handed to you this plastic test as well.
sachet? Q: Who brought the two accused to the PNP Crime Laboratory for drug testing and the shabu
A: When I got the plastic sachet and I was convinced that it was shabu then I gave the pre- for laboratory examination?
arranged signal, sir. A: I was the one together with my group, sir.
Q: What convinced you that the sachet contained shabu? Q: Did you come to know the result of the drug test conducted from the two accused?
A: Because of [sic] the appearance consist of white crystalline substance, sir. A: I’m not aware, sir. I have not seen the result.
Q: How about the drug that were subject of these cases? Considering the foregoing disquisitions, We uphold the presumption of regularity in the
A: It gave positive result for Methlyamphetamine [sic] Hydrochloride, sir.39 performance of official duty and find that the prosecution has discharged its burden of proving
the guilt of accused-appellants beyond reasonable doubt.
As shown in Bilason’s testimony, a buy-bust operation took place. Being the poseur-buyer, he
positively identified accused-appellants as the sellers of a sachet containing a white crystalline WHEREFORE, the appeal is DENIED. The CA Decision in CA-G.R. CR No. 02600 finding accused-
substance for a sum of PhP 6,000. The sachet was confiscated and marked with the initials “CAA” appellants Carlo Magno Aure and Melchor Austriaco guilty of the crimes charged is AFFIRMED.
and was subsequently taken to the crime laboratory for examination, where a chemical analysis
on its contents confirmed that the substance is indeed Methylamphetamine Hydrochloride or SO ORDERED.
shabu. Moreover, the testimonies of the other members of the buy-bust team, PO3 Lagasca and
MADAC operative Flores, substantially corroborated Bilason’s testimony. Corona (C.J., Chairperson), Leonardo-De Castro, Del Castillo and Perez, JJ., concur.

As regards the charge of illegal possession of dangerous drugs under Sec. 11, Art. II of RA 9165 Appeal denied, judgment affirmed.
against accused-appellant Aure, We also find that the elements of the offense have been
established by the evidence of the prosecution.

The elements necessary for the prosecution of illegal possession of dangerous drugs are: (1) the
accused is in possession of an item or object which is identified to be a prohibited drug; (2) such
possession is not authorized by law; and (3) the accused freely and consciously possessed the
said drug.40

In the instant case, a brown bag was found inside the car of accused-appellant Aure. It yielded a
plastic sachet of shabu weighing 86.23 grams wrapped in red wrapping paper, small plastic
sachets, and an improvised plastic tooter. Considering that during the sale to Bilason, it was from
the same bag that accused-appellant Austriaco took the sachet of shabu, per order of accused-
appellant Aure, the owner-possessor of said bag and its contents is no other than accused-
appellant Aure, who has not shown any proof that he was duly authorized by law to possess
them or any evidence to rebut his animus possidendi of the shabu found in his car during the
buy-bust operation.

Defense of denial is inherently weak

The sachet containing the dangerous drug was positively identified by MADAC operative Bilason
during the trial as the very sachet with white crystalline substance sold and delivered to him by
accused-appellants. Thus, accused-appellants’ denial is self-serving and has little weight in law. A
bare denial is an inherently weak defense,41 and has been invariably viewed by this Court with
disfavor, for it can be easily concocted but difficult to prove, and is a common standard line of
defense in most prosecutions arising from violations of RA 9165.42

Time and again, We have held that “denials unsubstantiated by convincing evidence are not
enough to engender reasonable doubt particularly where the prosecution presents sufficiently
telling proof of guilt.”43In the absence of any intent on the part of the police authorities to
falsely impute such crime against the accused-appellants, the presumption of regularity in the
performance of duty stands.44 Especially here, where an astute analysis of MADAC operative
Bilason’s testimony does not indicate any inconsistency, contradiction, or fabrication.
G.R. No. 212940. September 16, 2015.* that the marking, physical inventory and photograph be conducted at the nearest police station
or at the nearest office of the apprehending officer/team, whichever is practicable, in case of
CHRISTOPHER DELA RIVA y HORARIO, petitioner, vs. PEOPLE OF THE PHILIPPINES, respondent. warrantless seizures. Additionally, the law requires that the said procedure must be done in the
presence of the accused or the person/s from whom such items were confiscated and/or seized,
Constitutional Law; Presumption of Innocence; It is fundamental in our Constitution and basic in
or his/her representative or counsel, a representative from the media and the Department of
our Rules of Court that the accused in a criminal case enjoys the presumption of innocence until
Justice (DOJ), and any elected public official who shall be required to sign the copies of the
proven guilty.—It is fundamental in our Constitution and basic in our Rules of Court that the
inventory and be given a copy thereof. Surprisingly, the PDEA agents in this case failed to observe
accused in a criminal case enjoys the presumption of innocence until proven guilty. Likewise, it is
the proper procedures.
well-established in jurisprudence that the prosecution bears the burden to overcome such
presumption. If the prosecution fails to discharge this burden, the accused deserves a judgment Same; Same; Same; Marking; The immediate marking of the seized drugs is the first and the most
of acquittal. On the other hand, if the existence of proof beyond reasonable doubt is established crucial point in the custodial links.—Unquestionably, the immediate marking of the seized drugs
by the prosecution, the accused gets a guilty verdict. is the first and the most crucial point in the custodial links. The significance of this link was
elaborately discussed in the recent case of People of the Philippines v. Beverly Alagarme y Citoy,
Criminal Law; Dangerous Drugs Act; Illegal Sale of Dangerous Drugs; Elements of.—In order to
751 SCRA 317 (2015).
survive the test for a successful prosecution of cases of illegal sale of dangerous drugs, the
prosecution must be able to: 1) establish the essential elements of the crime — (a) the identity of Same; Same; Same; Under the current Section 21, noncompliance of the requirements shall not
the buyer and the seller, the object and consideration of the sale, and (b) the delivery of the render void and invalid such seizures and custody over said items as long as the integrity and the
thing sold and the payment therefor; and 2) strictly follow the seizure and custody procedure evidentiary value of the seized items are properly preserved by the apprehending
provided under Section 21(1) of R.A. No. 9165 and Section 21(a) of the IRR. officer/team.—Under the current Section 21, noncompliance of the requirements shall not
render void and invalid such seizures and custody over said items as long as the integrity and the
Same; Same; Chain of Custody Rule; Section 21 of Republic Act (RA) No. 9165 has been amended
evidentiary value of the seized items are properly preserved by the apprehending officer/team. It
by RA No. 10640.—Section 21 of R.A. No. 9165 has been amended by R.A. No. 10640 (An Act to
must be stressed, however, that the noncompliance must be for “justifiable grounds.” In this
Further Strengthen the Anti-Drug Campaign of the Government, Amending for the Purpose
case, the PDEA agents failed to convince the Court that they had justifiable reasons not to
Section 21 of Republic Act No. 9165, Otherwise Known as the “Comprehensive Dangerous Drugs
immediately and strictly comply with the provisions of the law so as to comply with the chain of
Act of 2002”). Considering that the buy-bust incident in this case transpired on April 28, 2009 and
custody requirements.
the old law was favorable to the accused, the Court shall be guided by the earlier version of
Section 21 and its corresponding IRR. PETITION for review on certiorari of a decision of the Court of Appeals.

Same; Same; Same; The chain of custody is divided into four (4) links.—The chain of custody is The facts are stated in the opinion of the Court.
divided into four (4) links: first, the seizure and marking, if practicable, of the illegal drug
recovered from the accused by the apprehending officer; second, the turnover of the illegal drug Defensor, Lantion, Briones, Villamor & Tolentino Law Offices for petitioner.
seized by the apprehending officer to the investigating officer; third, the turnover by the
investigating officer of the illegal drug to the forensic chemist for laboratory examination; and Office of the Solicitor General for respondent.
fourth, the turnover and submission of the marked illegal drug seized by the forensic chemist to
MENDOZA, J.:
the court.
Challenged in this petition for review is the February 13, 2014 Decision1 of the Court of Appeals
Same; Same; Same; The law requires that the marking, physical inventory and photograph be
(CA), in C.A.-G.R. CR-H.C. No. 05895, which affirmed the August 30, 2012 Decision2 of the
conducted at the nearest police station or at the nearest office of the apprehending
Regional Trial Court, Branch 75, Olongapo City (RTC), finding the petitioner, accused Christopher
officer/team, whichever is practicable, in case of warrantless seizures. Additionally, the law
Dela Riva y Horario (Dela Riva), guilty beyond reasonable doubt for violation of Section 5, Article
requires that the said procedure must be done in the presence of the accused or the person/s
II of Republic Act (R.A.) No. 9165, otherwise known as the Comprehensive Dangerous Drugs Act
from whom such items were confiscated and/or seized, or his/her representative or counsel, a
of 2002.
representative from the media and the Department of Justice (DOJ), and any elected public
official who shall be required to sign the copies of the inventory and be given a copy thereof.—In
The Facts
the case at bench, the prosecution breached the first link right away when the buy-bust team
failed to immediately mark the seized drugs, conduct a physical inventory and photograph the On April 29, 2009, an Information was filed charging accused with violation of Section 5, Article II
same after the arrest of the accused and the confiscation of the seized drugs. The law requires of R.A. No. 9165. The accusatory portion of the Information reads:
That on or about the 28th day of April 2009, at about 6:00 in the morning, in Brgy. Calapacuan, Agent Lucero then asked appellant for the rest of the items who upon saying “sa akin na lang
Municipality of Subic, Province of Zambales, Philippines, and within the jurisdiction of this muna pare” handed to him from his pocket a small transparent plastic sachet. Agent Lucero then
Honorable Court, the said accused, did then and there willfully, unlawfully and feloniously put the small sachet in the right pocket of his pants. Agent Lucero again asked for the rest and
without any lawful authority, give away, deliver and sell one (1) heat-sealed transparent plastic appellant asked for the payment. Agent Lucero then handed to appellant the boodle money
sachet weighing 1.3095 grams of Methamphetamine Hydrochloride, known as ‘shabu,’ a which was placed in an envelope.
dangerous drug, to a poseur-buyer for One Thousand (Php1,000.00) Pesos marked money.
While appellant is opening the envelope, Agent Lucero made a missed call to their team leader
CONTRARY TO LAW.3 but after a few seconds they heard a voice shouting from the outside, “Abu-Abu.” The two (2)
persons who were having pot session inside the house then rushed to the door and run outside
On June 3, 2009, Dela Riva was arraigned and he pleaded not guilty to the offense charged. and Agent Lucero introduced himself to appellant as PDEA Agent and arrested him. The backup
team then entered the house to assist in the arrest while others chased the two (2) persons who
Prosecution’s Version and Evidence
ran away. However, they were not able to catch them.
On April 27, 2009 a confidential agent reported to the officers at the National Headquarters
The team saw in plain view some paraphernalia inside the house and these were two (2) pieces
Special Enforcement Services, Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency (PDEA) Headquarters at Brgy.
aluminum foil, improvised water pipe, five (5) pieces disposable lighters and several transparent
Piñahan, Quezon City that a certain Chris, who turned out to be appellant herein, is doing illegal
plastic sachets. They confiscated said items.
drug activities at Brgy. Calapacuan, Subic, Zambales.
After informing appellant of his rights, they immediately left the area. The inventory was
Acting on the report, a briefing was conducted to entrap the suspect. IO1 Enrique Lucero was
conducted at the National Headquarters of PDEA for security and safety considerations. The
assigned as the poseur-buyer. The briefing was followed by a pre-operation report and an
inventory was witnessed and also signed by a Barangay Kagawad while photographs were also
authorization to operate. A Certificate of Coordination was then issued by the PDEA National
taken.
Operating Center. Such a document is issued whenever an operation is to be conducted outside
the national headquarters. Boodle money in the amount of P60,000.00 was prepared with two A request for the laboratory examination of the specimen yielded positive results for the
(2) P500.00 as the actual money placed on top of the bundle. Said amount was for ten (10) grams presence of methamphetamine hydrochloride. Appellant’s urine was also tested and yielded
of shabu as agreed between the confidential agent and herein appellant. positive for the presence of methamphetamine hydrochloride.4

Said buy-operation was intended for two (2) targets, appellant herein and a certain Jun The prosecution offered the following exhibits as evidence:
Magsaysay. After the preparation was done, the team proceeded from Manila to Subic on April
28, 2009. The team stopped at Angeles City around 8 o’clock in the evening and stayed there for Exhibit “A” – Pre-operation Report5
about three (3) hours because the confidential agent received a text message from appellant that Exhibit “B” – Authority to Operate6
the ten (10) grams of shabu [was] not yet complete. Exhibit “C” – Certificate of Coordination7
Exhibits “D” to “E” – marked money8
At 2 o’clock, the team then proceeded to Subic and arrived at the target area around 5 o’clock. Exhibit “F” – white window envelope and boodle money
Exhibit “G” – Inventory of Seized Evidence9
The specific location was at Maniago Street, Brgy. Calapuan, Subic. Those who went to Maniago
Exhibit “H” – photograph of witnesses signing the inventory10
Street were Agent Lucero, Agent Tumabini, Agent Fajardo and the civilian asset. The rest of the Exhibit “I” – photograph of seized drug and paraphernalia11
team or the backup team stayed at the National Highway at Brgy. Calapuan. Exhibits “J” and series – shabu and drug paraphernalia
Exhibits “K” to “K-1” – Letter Request for Drug Testing12
The team waited at the vehicle near a residential place with a store and after a few moments, Exhibit “L” – Chemistry Report13
appellant appeared. The confidential agent and Agent Lucero approached appellant and Exhibit “M” – Letter Request for Drug Testing14
introduced Agent Lucero. Agent Lucero then asked appellant for the agreed item to which the Exhibit “N” – Letter Request for Physical/Medical Examination15
latter replied, “Andito na pare pero kulang pa.” Appellant then invited them to go to a certain Exhibit “O” – Result of the Physical Examination16
Exhibits “P” and series – Sworn Statement of the Poseur-Buyer17
Abu to get the rest of the items and then proceeded to Abu’s house.
Exhibit “Q” – PDEA Certification18
Exhibits “R” to “R-1” – Booking Sheet and Arrest Report19
The trio walked to the house of “Abu” which was about fifteen (15) to twenty (20) meters away.
Exhibit “S” and series – Chemistry Report for Drug Test20
The house is located in a squatter area and the walls were dilapidated. The three (3) entered the Defense’s Version and Evidence
house which has no bedroom but with a curtain to separate some parts of it. Inside, they saw
two (2) persons having a pot session.
According to the accused, x x x he was already detained at the PDEA on April 28, 2009 at around documentary and object evidence it presented. The RTC found that all the elements of the crime
6:00 o’clock in the morning, as he was arrested on April 26, 2009 at about 10:00 in the afternoon were established, to wit: 1) the identity of the buyer and the seller, the object and consideration;
at Barangay Calapacuan, Subic, Zambales, while at the house of his grandfather Ronnie Horario. and 2) the delivery of the thing sold and the payment thereof.
At that time, he received a cell phone call from a certain Jovann inviting him to go to the casino,
and they agreed that the latter would fetch accused. Accused decided to go home at Rizal, San The RTC did not give weight to the defense of frame-up put up by Dela Riva as it could not prevail
Mar-celino, Zambales, because Jovann was not replying to his text message. While he was over the positive declaration of the poseur-buyer and the compelling documentary evidence
waiting for a passenger jeep, Jovann arrived onboard a CR-V, and invited accused to board. Inside shown by the prosecution. The trial court opined that the procedural lapse committed by the
the vehicle were four passengers including the driver, and Jovann introduced accused to them. apprehending team with respect to the requirements under Section 21 of R.A. No. 9165 was not
They went to SBMA and accused thought that they would play at the casino, but instead they fatal to its cause because the integrity and the evidentiary value of the seized items were
travelled through SCTEX and accused was told that they would play casino at Angeles City. properly preserved and safeguarded by the apprehending officers.

Accused felt nervous and started asking where they were really heading. The driver told him to The RTC stated that the chain of custody of the seized drug, which involved only one (1) sachet of
just relax and they will soon reach their destination. Accused tried to control his fear as he was shabu, was continuous and unbroken. In the absence of proof of tampering of evidence, bad
with a friend, and from then on they used to play at the Oriental Casino, SBMA, every weekend. faith and ill will on the part of the buy-bust team, the police officers were to be presumed to
have regularly performed their duties. The RTC, thus, disposed:
Accused was brought at the PDEA Headquarters in Quezon City, and when he asked why they
were there, Jovann told him to be silent. The man seated beside accused gave him a handcuff WHEREFORE, the Court finds CHRISTOPHER DELA RIVA GUILTY beyond reasonable doubt of
and told him to wear it. Accused asked what his violation was, but a gun was poked at his chest. Violation of Sec. 5, RA 9165 and sentences him to suffer the penalty of life imprisonment and to
A man told him in a loud voice to wear the handcuffs, and he obeyed. He was investigated inside pay a fine of P500,000.00 plus cost, without subsidiary imprisonment in case of insolvency.
an office and was told that he was selling drugs which he denied. After asking his personal
The accused shall also suffer the accessory penalties under Section 35, RA 9165 and shall be
circumstances he was asked for a “palit-ulo” meaning, that he should produce another person
credited in the service of his sentence with the full time during which he has undergone
selling drugs in exchange for his release, but accused denied any knowledge of anyone involved
preventive imprisonment subject to the conditions imposed under Art. 29 of the Revised Penal
in drug trade.
Code as amended.
Accused was then told to sign the Booking Sheet Arrest Report which he did. He just filled up the
The sachet of shabu marked Exh. ‘J’ of the Prosecution is ordered confiscated in favor of the
portion for his personal circumstances and name of relatives but the other entries were provided
government and to be disposed of in accordance with law.
by the investigator, and then he signed the document. The pictures were taken on April 27, 2009
prior to the alleged arrest on April 28, 2009. Agent Enrique Lucero was not among those in the
SO DECIDED.23
vehicle and he first saw him at the office. Accused is not aware of the execution of the Inventory
of Seized Items and he did not see the Kagawad who allegedly signed it. At the PDEA Compound The CA’s Ruling
were several men in uniform and one of them investigated accused. He did not see Jovann
anymore. Accused denied that the items in the inventory were taken from him. Accused former On appeal, the CA affirmed the decision of the RTC. It basically stated that the integrity of the
counsel demanded copy of the logbook and blotter of his departure and arrival to prove that he drugs seized from the accused was preserved and that the chain of custody of the subject drugs
was arrested on April 26 and not on April 28, 2009, but nothing happened to the request.21 was unbroken. The CA pointed out that the confiscated drugs remained under the care of PDEA
Agent Lucero (Agent Lucero) until he reached the PDEA National Headquarters at Barangay
Dela Riva offered the following exhibits as evidence: Piñahan, Quezon City. He immediately marked the same with his signature in the presence of the
accused and Barangay Kagawad Jose Ruiz before turning it over to the crime laboratory for
Exhibit “1” – Booking Sheet and Arrest Report
examination. Subsequently, the same sachet bearing the same markings was completely
examined within 24 hours of seizure by Chemist Engineer Elaine E. Erno and found to be positive
Exhibit “2” – Pictures of the accused taken on April 28, 200922
for methamphetamine hydrochloride, a dangerous drug.
The RTC’s Ruling
The CA pointed out that noncompliance with the strict directive of Section 21 of R.A. No. 9165
On August 30, 2012, the RTC convicted Dela Riva for the offense charged, stating that the was not necessarily fatal to the prosecution case as long as there were justifiable grounds for the
prosecution was able to establish his guilt with moral certainty based on the consistent, positive, lapses committed and the integrity and evidentiary value of the evidence seized were preserved.
straightforward, convincing, and credible testimonies of the police witnesses and the supporting
The CA added that when the prosecution presented the transparent plastic sachet before the 1) There was no clear and definite testimony of IO1 Lucero as to the marking of the seized items.
Court, Agent Lucero positively identified it as one which came from Dela Riva. The appellate He mentioned only in his direct-examination that he inspected the items confiscated in their
court stated that the integrity of the evidence was presumed to have been preserved unless vehicle. Notably, the said testimony constituted the totality in the marking of the seized
there was a showing of bad faith ill will or proof that the evidence had been tampered with. Dela evidence;
Riva had the burden of showing that the evidence was tampered or meddled with to overcome
the presumption of regularity in the handling of the exhibits by public officers and in the 2) Taking of photos and inventory of illicit materials purportedly seized from appellant and in the
discharge of their duties. Unfortunately, Dela Riva failed to produce convincing proof that there crime scene was not conducted in the place where the purported arrest was effected. This is not
was tampering of the evidence of the prosecution. surprising since, in actuality, the PDEA operatives in the instant case had never conducted an
arrest. Instead what they have done was to frame-up the petitioner;
Regarding the defense of frame-up and inconsistencies in the manner of operation, the CA
opined that they could not prevail over the positive, straightforward and convincing testimonies 3) No representative of the Department of Justice or of the media was present during the
of the police operatives who performed their duties regularly, in accordance with law and marking, taking of pictures and inventory of the illicit materials purportedly seized from
without any improper motive. The arrest of Dela Riva was made in the course of an entrapment, petitioner and in the crime scene;
following a surveillance operation, normally performed by police officers in the apprehension of
4) The barangay official, who the prosecution claims to have been present during the inventory,
violators of the Dangerous Drugs Act. The CA concluded that there was a consummated sale
was not present during the arrest of petitioner, in violation of what the law enjoins law officers
between the poseur-buyer and Dela Riva. The dispositive portion of the CA decision reads:
to follow;
WHEREFORE, premises considered, the: 1) August 30, 2012 Decision; and 2) October 18, 2012
5) There was a violation by the PDEA operatives of their duty to deliver petitioner to the nearest
Order of the Olongapo City, Regional Trial Court, Branch 75, in Criminal Case No. 135-09
police station or jail without unnecessary delay which is in this case, their regional office in
convicting Christopher Dela Riva y Horario for violation of Section 5 of Republic Act No. 9165, are
Pampanga; and
hereby AFFIRMED. No costs.

SO ORDERED.24
6) There was no written explanation as to why a) said marking, taking of pictures and inventory
Aggrieved, Dela Riva filed the subject petition seeking the reversal of the CA decision and a
were not done in the place mandated by law for the same to be done; b) no representatives from
judgment of acquittal based on the following:
the Department of Justice or from the media were present; and c) the barangay official, who the
Grounds prosecution claims to have been present during the inventory, was not present during the arrest
of petitioner.26
I. THERE WAS A MISAPPRECIATION OF FACTS, WHICH IF CONSIDERED, WOULD OVERTURN THE
DECISION RENDERED BY THE COURT OF APPEALS. Position of the Prosecution

II. THERE WAS FAILURE TO ESTABLISH THE IDENTITY AND INTEGRITY OF THE DRUGS ALLEGEDLY The Office of the Solicitor General (OSG) argues that the factual findings of the CA were
SEIZED FROM ACCUSED-APPELLANT. supported by substantial evidence and could no longer be reviewed in the petition for review
filed by Dela Riva. His guilt was proven beyond reasonable doubt when the prosecution was able
III. THE HONORABLE COURT OF APPEALS ERRED WHEN IT RULED THAT THE GUILT OF ACCUSED- to establish the elements for the illegal sale of a dangerous drug, to wit: 1) the identity of the
APPELLANT WAS PROVEN BEYOND REASONABLE DOUBT.25 buyer and the seller, the object and consideration; and 2) the delivery of the thing sold and
payment therefor The positive, straightforward, convincing, and credible testimony of Agent
Position of the Accused Lucero, coupled with the physical evidence on record, are enough proof that the accused
committed the offense charged.
Accused Dela Riva mainly argues that the prosecution failed to establish the identity and the
integrity of the drugs seized. He claims that the PDEA operatives disregarded the procedural The Court’s Ruling
rules under Section 21 of the Implementing Rules and Regulations (IRR) of R.A. No. 9165 in
conducting the seizure and identification of the drugs. He submits that the prosecution After a review of the evidentiary records as well as the applicable law and jurisprudence on the
committed the following errors, which if properly considered, would not establish his guilt with matter, the Court finds merit in the petition and, for said reason, renders a verdict of acquittal.
moral certainty:
Presumption of Innocence;
Burden of Proof (1) The apprehending team having initial custody and control of the drugs shall, immediately
after seizure and confiscation, physically inventory and photograph the same in the presence of
It is fundamental in our Constitution27 and basic in our Rules of Court28 that the accused in a the accused or the person/s from whom such items were confiscated and/or seized, or his/her
criminal case enjoys the presumption of innocence until proven guilty. Likewise, it is well- representative or counsel, a representative from the media and the Department of Justice (DOJ),
established in jurisprudence that the prosecution bears the burden to overcome such and any elected public official who shall be required to sign the copies of the inventory and be
presumption. If the prosecution fails to discharge this burden, the accused deserves a judgment given a copy thereof;
of acquittal. On the other hand, if the existence of proof beyond reasonable doubt is established
by the prosecution, the accused gets a guilty verdict. Section 21(a), Article II of the IRR of R.A. No. 9165, states:

In order to survive the test for a successful prosecution of cases of illegal sale of dangerous (a) The apprehending office/team having initial custody and control of the drugs shall,
drugs, the prosecution must be able to: 1) establish the essential elements of the crime — (a) the immediately after seizure and confiscation, physically inventory and photograph the same in the
identity of the buyer and the seller, the object and consideration of the sale, and (b) the delivery presence of the accused or the person/s from whom such items were confiscated and/or seized,
of the thing sold and the payment therefor; and 2) strictly follow the seizure and custody or his/her representative or counsel, a representative from the media and the Department of
procedure provided under Section 21(1) of R.A. No. 9165 and Section 21(a) of the IRR. Justice (DOJ), and any elected public official who shall be required to sign the copies of the
inventory and be given a copy thereof: Provided, that the physical inventory and photograph
_______________ shall be conducted at the place where the search warrant is served; or at the nearest police
station or at the nearest office of the apprehending officer/team, whichever is practicable, in
27 Article III, Section 14(2) In all criminal prosecutions, the accused shall be presumed innocent
case of warrantless seizures; Provided, further, that noncompliance with these requirements
until the contrary is proved, and shall enjoy the right to be heard by himself and counsel, to be
under justifiable grounds, as long as the integrity and the evidentiary value of the seized items
informed of the nature and cause of the accusation against him, to have a speedy, impartial, and
are properly preserved by the apprehending officer/team, shall not render void and invalid such
public trial, to meet the witnesses face to face, and to have compulsory process to secure the
seizures of and custody over said items.
attendance of witnesses and the production of evidence in his behalf. However, after
arraignment, trial may proceed notwithstanding the absence of the accused: Provided, that he The above procedure serves as a proper guideline for police officers involved in drug buy-bust
has been duly notified and his failure to appear is unjustifiable. operations in moving the seized drugs from the time of arrest and seizure up to the laboratory
examination and finally to its presentation in court. The purpose of this legal process is to
28 Rule 133, Section 2. Proof beyond reasonable doubt.—In a criminal case, the accused is
preserve the identity, integrity and evidentiary value of the seized drugs through an unbroken
entitled to an acquittal, unless his guilt is shown beyond reasonable doubt. Proof beyond
chain of custody. The chain of custody is divided into four (4) links: first, the seizure and marking,
reasonable doubt does not mean such a degree of proof, excluding possibility of error, produces
if practicable, of the illegal drug recovered from the accused by the apprehending officer;
absolute certainly. Moral certainly only is required, or that degree of proof which produces
second, the turnover of the illegal drug seized by the apprehending officer to the investigating
conviction in an unprejudiced mind.
officer; third, the turnover by the investigating officer of the illegal drug to the forensic chemist
for laboratory examination; and fourth, the turnover and submission of the marked illegal drug
Section 21 of R.A. No. 9165 has been amended by R.A. No. 10640 (An Act to Further Strengthen
seized by the forensic chemist to the court.29
the Anti-Drug Campaign of the Government, Amending for the Purpose Section 21 of Republic
Act No. 9165, Otherwise Known as the “Comprehensive Dangerous Drugs Act of 2002”).
Chain of Custody Broken
Considering that the buy-bust incident in this case transpired on April 28, 2009 and the old law
was favorable to the accused, the Court shall be guided by the earlier version of Section 21 and In the case at bench, the prosecution breached the first link right away when the buy-bust team
its corresponding IRR, viz.: failed to immediately mark the seized drugs, conduct a physical inventory and photograph the
same after the arrest of the accused and the confiscation of the seized drugs. The law requires
SECTION 21. Custody and Disposition of Confiscated, Seized, and/or Surrendered Dangerous
that the marking, physical inventory and photograph be conducted at the nearest police station
Drugs, Plant Sources of Dangerous Drugs, Controlled Precursors and Essential Chemicals,
or at the nearest office of the apprehending officer/team, whichever is practicable, in case of
Instruments/Paraphernalia and/or Laboratory Equipment.—The PDEA shall take charge and have
warrantless seizures. Additionally, the law requires that the said procedure must be done in the
custody of all dangerous drugs, plant sources of dangerous drugs, controlled precursors and
presence of the accused or the person/s from whom such items were confiscated and/or seized,
essential chemicals, as well as instruments/paraphernalia and/or laboratory equipment so
or his/her representative or counsel, a representative from the media and the Department of
confiscated, seized and/or surrendered, for proper disposition in the following manner:
Justice (DOJ), and any elected public official who shall be required to sign the copies of the
inventory and be given a copy thereof. Surprisingly, the PDEA agents in this case failed to observe
the proper procedures.
In the prosecution of illegal sale, what is essential is to prove that the transaction or sale actually his lawyer, a media representative or DOJ representative, or an elected official from Brgy.
took place, coupled with the presentation in court of evidence of the corpus delicti. The Calapacuan or Municipality of Subic or even the Province of Zambales. The only one present was
consummation of sale is perfected the moment the buyer receives the drug from the seller. In Barangay Kagawad Jose Y. Ruiz, Jr. (Kagawad Ruiz) who was from Barangay Piñahan, Quezon City,
where the PDEA National Headquarters was located. Kagawad Ruiz was definitely not present at
this case, the prosecution failed to prove that the four sachets which tested positive for shabu
the scene of the buy-bust operation.
and eventually presented in court were the same ones confiscated by the police officers due to Q And Mr. witness at the time of the preparing of this inventory and photography there was no
its non-marking at the place where the buy-bust operation was committed at the police station. presence of media, correct?
A None, sir.
In People v. Nacua, the Court emphasized that given the unique characteristic of dangerous and _______________
illegal drugs which are indistinct, not readily identifiable, and easily susceptible to tampering, Q No presence of the DOJ representative?
alteration, or substitution, either by accident or otherwise, there must be strict compliance with A None, sir.
the prescribed measures during and after the seizure of dangerous drugs and related Q No presence of elected Brgy. Calapacuan of Municipality of Subic?
paraphernalia, during the custody and transfer thereof for examination, and at all times up to A None, sir.
Q But according to you only the presence of Brgy. Official of Brgy. Piñahan?
their presentation in court.30
A Yes, sir.
Q Where this National Office is located at?
Agent Lucero stated in paragraph 13 of his affidavit that the seized drugs were immediately A Yes, sir.
marked after he made the arrest. Yet, he gave a different statement during his testimony. He Q Mr. witness, I will go to the Inventory, this Mr. Jose Y. Ruiz is a Brgy. Kagawad of Brgy. Piñahan,
admitted that the marking, inventory and photographing of the seized drugs were all made and do you agree?
conducted only at the PDEA National Headquarters in Quezon City located several kilometers A Yes, sir.
away from the scene of the buy-bust operation. Q And this person was the one who witnessed the inventory?
A Yes, sir.
Q And what happened next Mr. Witness after you have completed the seizure of the item in a Q But not the seizure?
clean view and have the suspect arrested? A Yes, sir.
A We immediately left the area, and proceeded to the vehicle and after proceeding to the Q So, this incorrect, witness to seizure and then below that, is the signature of Jose Ruiz, do you
vehicle, we inspect the items confiscated. confirm that?
Q Mr. witness, where were you now when you inspect all the items? A Yes, sir.
A At the vehicle, ma’am. Q So, he only witnessed the inventory that he made?
Q Which was parked outside of the house of the accused? A Yes, sir.
A Yes, ma’am. Q And Mr. witness will you agree with me that this inventory of seized evidence is made not
Q Did you prepare an inventory of all the items that were seized and the item that you actually under oath?
purchased? A Yes sir.33
A Yes, ma’am. Agent Lucero further admitted that they left Brgy. Calapacuan, Subic, Zambales, early in the
Q And where was the inventory prepared? morning and arrived at
A It was prepared at the National Headquarters in Manila, ma’am.31 the PDEA National Headquarters in Quezon City at past 9:00 o’clock in the morning after a
stopover for more than an hour at a gasoline station along the North Luzon Expressway (NLEX).
On cross, he testified as follows: Thereafter, they rested upon reaching the PDEA National Headquarters. After resting, they
Q And Mr. witness, this drug items were inventoried and photographed according to you at the prepared the request for laboratory examination and conducted an inventory.
national office? Q And at what time you arrived in the National office Mr. witness?
A Yes sir. A Past 9 AM sir.
Q And who prepared this Mr. witness or who sealed these items? Q So, what happened when you already reached the national office at Quezon City?
A I was the one, sir. A We rested sir and then we prepared the request for laboratory examination and we also made
Q Where? an inventory.
A At the office, sir. Q Including the photography?
Q So, you were the one in this Exhibit “J” the plastic sachet of shabu you were the one who put A Yes, sir.
this plastic tape and sealed it? Q In your office?
A This one sir, the crime laboratory, this one is my initial. A Yes, sir.
Q Also the other tape in the other item? Q Not at the crime scene?
A Yes sir.32 A No, sir.34
Contrary to his statement in his affidavit, Agent Lucero never confirmed that he conducted the Records further show that Agent Lucero failed to give a credible and convincing justification for
marking, physical inventory and photograph of the seized items in the presence of the accused, the delay in the marking, physical inventory and photographing of the seized items. When asked
about the delay, he gave three different answers. First, he reasoned out that he was concerned uncertainty about whether the crime really transpired or not. To eliminate the uncertainty, the
with their security and safety; that they lacked sleep; and that there were so many operations Prosecution
conducted in the area.
Q And where was the inventory prepared? should account for every link in the chain of custody; otherwise, the crime is not established
A It was prepared at the National Headquarters in Manila, ma’am. beyond reasonable doubt. In other words, the Prosecution does not comply with the
Q Why not there at the scene itself Mr. witness?
indispensable requirement of proving the violation of Section 5 of Republic Act No. 9165 either
A Because we are thinking of the security, safety at the same time we are lack of sleep.
Q Mr. witness, what was it in that area you which made you fear that your safety and security when the dangerous drugs are missing or when there are substantial gaps in the chain of custody
was going to be threatened Mr. witness? of the seized dangerous drugs that raise doubts about the authenticity of the evidence presented
A Because there were so many operation conducted in that area.35 in court.

Second, Agent Lucero explained that they proceeded to the National Headquarters so he could A reading of the record indicates that the buy-bust team did not observe the procedures laid
immediately prepare all the needed documents. down by Republic Act No. 9165 and its IRR. The marking of the seized drugs or other related
Q Is that the reason why from the crime scene you straight to the headquarters because you do items immediately upon seizure from the accused is crucial in proving the chain of custody
not know where the Regional Office?
because it is the starting point in the custodial link. The marking upon seizure serves a two-fold
A No, sir.
Q So, what was the reason in proceeding to the National Headquarters? function, the first being to give to succeeding handlers of the specimens a reference, and the
A To immediately prepare all the documents needed.36 second being to separate the marked evidence from the corpus of all other similar or related
Third, he immediately left Zambales upon the instruction of their team leader. evidence from the time of
Q But was it not better if you will proceed with your regional office in San Fernando to prepare
this inventory and photography instead of going to your office in Quezon City preparing this seizure from the accused until their disposition at the end of criminal proceedings, thereby
inventory and photography? obviating switching, “planting,” or contamination of evidence. This requirement of marking as
A That is the instruction of the team leader, sir.37 laid down by the law was not complied with. Firstly, PO1 Mendoza simply stated that he did the
The buy-bust team knew that PDEA had a regional office near the area but, surprisingly, they still
marking of the confiscated items with his initials inside the Toyota Revo. Although the appellant
proceeded to the
was also inside the Toyota Revo at that time, he did not state if his marking was done within the
view of the appellant, or within the view of any representative from the media, Department of
National Headquarters in Quezon City on the flimsy excuse that Agent Lucero was not familiar
Justice or any elected public official. Secondly, both he and MADAC Operative Castillo did not
with the address of the Pampanga Regional Office.
indicate if any media or DOJ representative or elected public official had been present during the
Q Mr. witness, do you have a PDEA Regional Office? buy-bust operation and when the drugs were recovered from the appellant at the scene of the
A Yes, sir. apprehension. The law unequivocally required such presence. Thirdly, there was also no showing
Q Here in Region 3 where this Brgy. Calapacuan, Subic, Zambales, is located. Do you have a of any inventory of the confiscated items being undertaken or prepared. The lack of the
Regional Office? inventory was confirmed by the absence of any certificate of inventory being formally offered as
A We have a Regional Office in Region 3, I am not familiar with the address, sir, it is Camp Olivas, evidence by the Prosecution. Lastly, the Prosecution did not produce any photographs taken of
I think, sir.
the sachets of shabu immediately following their seizure.
Q Where is that Camp Olivas?
A I am not familiar with that address, sir.
The Court would like to stress that the prosecution had the chance to redeem their cause
Q Is it is Olongapo, Subic, Bataan, Pampanga?
A Pampanga, sir.38 through the saving mechanism provided in the last paragraph of Section 21(a), Article II of the
IRR of R.A. No. 9165 which provides that noncompliance with the safeguards of the chain of
Unquestionably, the immediate marking of the seized drugs is the first and the most crucial custody would not be fatal to the prosecution’s cause if there would be a justified explanation for
point in the custodial links. The significance of this link was elaborately discussed in the recent it. Unfortunately, the prosecution failed to provide a credible and convincing explanation,
case of People of the Philippines v. Beverly Alagarme y Citoy:39 justifying the marking, physical inventory and photographing of the seized items in the far away
PDEA National Headquarters in Quezon City rather than in the nearer PDEA Regional Office in
With this concern for the due recording of the authorized movement and custody of the seized Pampanga.
drugs or controlled chemicals or plant sources of dangerous drugs or laboratory equipment, the
presentation as evidence in court of the dangerous drugs subject of the illegal sale is material in The prosecution did not bother either to give a sufficient justification on why the marking,
every prosecution for the illegal sale of dangerous drugs. This materiality derives from the physical inventory and photographing were not done in the presence of the accused or his
dangerous drugs being themselves the corpus delicti. Indeed, proof of the corpus delicti is counsel or a media representative or a DOJ representative or an elected official who was at the
essential in every judgment of conviction. Without proof of the corpus delicti, there is crime scene. The prosecution chose to remain silent about their absence or the reason why they
were not informed earlier. Indeed, the prosecution’s unjustified non­compliance with the however, That a final certification shall be issued immediately upon completion of the said
safeguards of the chain of custody constitutes a fatal procedural flaw that destroys the reliability examination and certification;
of the corpus delicti.
Under the current Section 21, noncompliance of the requirements shall not render void and
Aside from the defect in the first link, there was also a fatal procedural lapse in the fourth link of invalid such seizures and custody over said items as long as the integrity and the evidentiary
the chain. Chemist Elaine Erno testified that she received the seized drugs from Agent Lucero and value of the seized items are properly preserved by the apprehending officer/team. It must be
his request for laboratory examination. The records, however, are bereft of any testimonial or stressed, however, that the noncompliance must be for “justifiable grounds.” In this case, the
documentary evidence whatsoever as to how the seized drug was kept while in the custody of PDEA agents failed to convince the Court that they had justifiable reasons not to immediately
the evidence custodian until it was brought to the court. There were even no details given and strictly comply with the provisions of the law so as to comply with the chain of custody
on the identity of the evidence custodian and how the seized drug was handled and transferred requirements.
before it was presented in court. No information was given as to how the evidence custodian
preserved the seized drug while it was in his/her custody. It could be that the accused was engaged in the sale of dangerous drugs. A doubt, however,
lingers because the flaws in this particular link coupled with the defects in the first link are so
Section 21 of R.A. No. 9165, as amended by R.A. No. 10640 glaring that the Court cannot ignore them as they definitely compromised the identity, integrity
and evidentiary value of the seized drugs.
Granting that the new but more stringent provisions of Section 21 of R.A. No. 9165, as amended
by R.A. No. 10640,40 are applicable, the prosecution’s case would still fail. Section 21 now reads There being a doubt, the Court resolves it in favor of the accused.
as follows:
WHEREFORE, the petition is GRANTED. The February 13, 2014 Decision of the Court of Appeals in
SEC. 21. Custody and Disposition of Confiscated, Seized, and/or Surrendered Dangerous Drugs, C.A.-G.R. CR-H.C. No. 05895 is REVERSED and SET ASIDE. The accused, Christopher Dela Riva y
Plant Sources of Dangerous Drugs, Controlled Precursors and Essential Chemicals, Horario, is ACQUITTED of the crime charged against him and ordered immediately RELEASED
Instruments/Paraphernalia and/or Laboratory Equipment.—The PDEA shall take charge and have from custody, unless he is being held for some other lawful cause.
custody of all dangerous drugs, plant sources of dangerous drugs, controlled precursors and
essential chemicals, as well as instruments/paraphernalia and/or laboratory equipment so The Director of the Bureau of Corrections is ordered to implement this decision and to inform
confiscated, seized and/or surrendered, for proper disposition in the following manner: this Court of the date of the actual release from confinement of the accused within five (5) days
from receipt of copy.
(1) The apprehending team having initial custody and control of the dangerous drugs,
controlled precursors and essential chemicals, instruments/paraphernalia and/or laboratory SO ORDERED.
equipment shall, immediately after seizure and confiscation, conduct a physical inventory of the
Carpio (Chairperson), Del Castillo, Perez** and Leonen, JJ., concur.
seized items and photograph the same in the presence of the accused or the persons from whom
such items were confiscated and/or seized, or his/her representative or counsel, with an elected
Petition granted, judgment reversed and set aside. Accused Christopher Dela Riva y Horario
public official and a representative of the National Prosecution Service or the media who shall be
acquitted and ordered immediately released.
required to sign the copies of the inventory and be given a copy thereof: Provided, That the
physical inventory and photograph shall be conducted at the place where the search warrant is Notes.—The Constitution guarantees the accused’s presumption of innocence until proven
served; or at the nearest police station or at the nearest office of the apprehending officer/team, guilty. (People vs. Climaco, 672 SCRA 631 [2012])
whichever is practicable, in case of warrantless seizures: Provided, finally, That noncompliance of
these requirements under justifiable grounds, as long as the integrity and the evidentiary value _______________
of the seized items are properly preserved by the apprehending officer/team, shall not render
void and invalid such seizures and custody over said items. The Constitution presumes a person innocent until proven guilty by proof beyond reasonable
doubt. (People vs. Marao-rao, 674 SCRA 151 [2012])
(3) A certification of the forensic laboratory examination results, which shall be done by the
forensic laboratory examiner, shall be issued immediately upon the receipt of the subject item/s: ——o0o—— Dela Riva vs. People, 771 SCRA 39, G.R. No. 212940 September 16, 2015
Provided, That when the volume of dangerous drugs, plant sources of dangerous drugs, and
controlled precursors and essential chemicals does not allow the completion of testing within the
time frame, a partial laboratory examination report shall be provisionally issued stating therein
the quantities of dangerous drugs still to be examined by the forensic laboratory: Provided,
G.R. No. 195419. October 12, 2011.* The facts are stated in the opinion of the Court.

PEOPLE OF THE PHILIPPINES, plaintiff-appellee, vs. HADJA JARMA LALLI y PURIH, RONNIE Office of the Solicitor General for plaintiff-appellee.
ARINGOY y MASION, and NESTOR RELAMPAGOS (at large), accused.
Faundo, Esguerra and Associates Law Firm for accused-appellant Ronnie Aringoy.
Evidence; Witnesses; The Court has ruled that inconsistencies pointed out by the accused in the
testimony of prosecution witnesses relating to minor details do not destroy the credibility of Public Attorney’s Office for accused-appellant Hadja Jarma Lalli.
witnesses. On the contrary, they indicate that the witnesses were telling the truth and not
CARPIO, J.:
previously rehearsed.—
The Case
** Designated as additional member of the Second Division vice Associate Justice Jose P. Perez
per Special Order No. 1114 dated October 3, 2011.
This is a consolidated criminal case filed against the accused-appellants for the crimes of Illegal
Recruitment (Criminal Case No. 21930) and Trafficking in Persons (Criminal Case No. 21908).
* SECOND DIVISION.
The Regional Trial Court (RTC) of Zamboanga City, in its Decision dated 29 November 2005 (RTC
Both Aringoy and Lalli, in their respective Appeal Briefs, assail the testimony of Lolita due to its
Decision),1 found accused-appellants guilty beyond reasonable doubt of the crimes of Illegal
alleged inconsistency on immaterial facts, such as the status of Lolita’s grandfather, the name of
Recruitment and Trafficking in Persons committed by a syndicate, and sentenced each of the
the village she was in, the date she was brought to Labuan, Malaysia, and the like. In a long line
accused to suffer the penalty of life imprisonment plus payment of fines and damages. On
of cases, the Court has ruled that inconsistencies pointed out by the accused in the testimony of
appeal, the Court of Appeals (CA) in Cagayan de Oro, in its Decision dated 26 February 2010 (CA
prosecution witnesses relating to minor details do not destroy the credibility of witnesses. On the
Decision),2 affirmed in toto the RTC Decision. The accused-appellants appealed to this Court by
contrary, they indicate that the witnesses were telling the truth and not previously rehearsed.
filing a Notice of Appeal3 in accordance with Section 3(c), Rule 122 of the Rules of Court.
Labor Law; Illegal Recruitment; Illegal Recruitment is commited by persons who, without
The Facts
authority from the government, give the impression that they have the power to send workers
abroad for employment purposes.—Given the broad definition of recruitment and placement,
The findings of fact of the RTC, which were affirmed in toto by the CA, are as follows:
even the mere act of referring someone for placement abroad can be considered recruitment.
Such act of referral, in connivance with someone without the requisite authority or POEA license, “In the evening of June 3, 2005, while Lolita Sagadsad Plando, 23 years old, single, was in
constitutes illegal recruitment. In its simplest terms, illegal recruitment is committed by persons Tumaga, Zamboanga City on her way to the house of her grandfather, she met Ronnie Masion
who, without authority from the government, give the impression that they have the power to Aringoy and Rachel Aringoy Cañete. Ronnie greeted Lolita, “Oy, it’s good you are here” (“oy,
send workers abroad for employment purposes. maayo kay dia ka”). Rachel asked Lolita if she is interested to work in Malaysia. x x x Lolita was
interested so she gave her cellphone number to Ronnie. After their conversation, Lolita
Same; Syndicated Illegal Recruitment; Elements; (1) the accused have no valid license or
proceeded to her grandfather’s house.
authority required by law to enable them to lawfully engage in the recruitment and placement of
workers; (2) the accused engaged in this activity of recruitment and placement by actually On June 4, 2005, at about 7:00 o’clock in the morning, Lolita received a text message from
recruiting, deploying and transporting; (3) illegal recruitment was committed by three persons, Ronnie Aringoy inviting her to go to the latter’s house. At 7:30 in the morning, they met at
conspiring and confederating with one another.—In this case, the trial court, as affirmed by the Tumaga on the road near the place where they had a conversation the night before. Ronnie
appellate court, found Lalli, Aringoy and Relampagos to have conspired and confederated with brought Lolita to the house of his sister in Tumaga. Lolita inquired what job is available in
one another to recruit and place Lolita for work in Malaysia, without a POEA license. The three Malaysia. Ronnie told her that she will work as a restaurant entertainer. All that is needed is a
elements of syndicated illegal recruitment are present in this case, in particular: (1) the accused passport. She will be paid 500 Malaysian ringgits which is equivalent to P7,000.00 pesos in
have no valid license or authority required by law to enable them to lawfully engage in the Philippine currency. Lolita told Ronnie that she does not have a passport. Ronnie said that they
recruitment and placement of workers; (2) the accused engaged in this activity of recruitment will look for a passport so she could leave immediately. Lolita informed him that her younger
and placement by actually recruiting, deploying and transporting Lolita to Malaysia; and (3) sister, Marife Plando, has a passport. Ronnie chided her for not telling him immediately. He told
illegal recruitment was committed by three persons (Aringoy, Lalli and Relampagos), conspiring Lolita that she will leave for Malaysia on June 6, 2005 and they will go to Hadja Jarma Lalli who
and confederating with one another. will bring her to Malaysia. Ronnie sent a text message to Lalli but the latter replied that she was
not in her house. She was at the city proper.
APPEALS from a decision of the Court of Appeals.
On June 5, 2005, at about 6:00 o’clock in the evening, Ronnie Aringoy and Rachel Aringoy Cañete the entertainer. Pipen Club is a big club in a two-storey building. There were about 100 women
arrived on board a tricycle driven by Ronnie at the house where Lolita was staying at Southcom working in the club, many of them were Filipina women.
Village. Ronnie asked if Lolita already had a passport. Lolita said that she will borrow her sister’s
passport. Ronnie, Rachel and Lolita went to Buenavista where Lolita’s other sister, Gina Plando Lolita Plando was forced to work as entertainer at Pipen Club. She started working at 8:30 in the
was staying. Her sister Marife Plando was there at that time. Lolita asked Marife to let her use evening of June 14, 2005. She was given the number 60 which was pinned on her. That night, she
Marife’s passport. Marife refused but Lolita got the passport. Marife cried. Ronnie, Rachel and had her first customer who selected her among the other women at the club. He was a very big
Lolita proceeded to Tumaga. Ronnie, Rachel and Lolita went to the house of Hadja Jarma Lalli just man, about 32 years old, a Chinese-Malay who looked like a wrestler. The man paid for short
two hundred meters away from the house of Ronnie in Tumaga. Ronnie introduced Lolita to time service at the counter. Lolita was given by the cashier a small pink paper. She was instructed
Hadja Jarma, saying “Ji, she is also interested in going to Malaysia.” Lolita handed a passport to to keep it. A small yellow paper is given to the entertainer for overnight services. The customer
Hadja Jarma telling her that it belongs to her sister Marife Plando. Hadja Jarma told her it is not a brought Lolita to a hotel. She did not like to go with him but a “boss” at the club told her that she
problem because they have a connection with the DFA (Department of Foreign Affairs) and could not do anything. At the hotel, the man poked a gun at Lolita and instructed her to undress.
Marife’s picture in the passport will be substituted with Lolita’s picture. Nestor Relampagos She refused. The man boxed her on the side of her body. She could not bear the pain. The man
arrived driving an owner-type jeep. Hadja Jarma introduced Nestor to Lolita as their financier undressed her and had sexual intercourse with her. He had sexual intercourse with her every
who will accompany them to Malaysia. x x x Lolita noticed three other women in Hadja Jarma’s fifteen minutes or four times in one hour. When the customer went inside the comfort room,
house. They were Honey, about 20 years old; Michele, 19 years old, and another woman who is Lolita put on her clothes and left. The customer followed her and wanted to bring her back to the
about 28 years old. The women said that they are from Ipil, Sibugay Province. Ronnie told Lolita hotel but Lolita refused. At about 1:00 o’clock in the morning of June 15, 2005, Lolita was chosen
that she will have many companions going to Malaysia to work. They will leave the next day, June by another customer, a tall dark man, about 40 years old. The customer paid for an overnight
6, and will meet at the wharf at 2:30 in the afternoon. service at the counter and brought Lolita to Mariner Hotel which is far from Pipen Club. At the
hotel, the man told Lolita to undress. When she refused, the man brought her to the comfort
On June 6, 2005, Lolita went to Zamboanga City wharf at 2:00 o’clock in the afternoon bringing a room and bumped her head on the wall. Lolita felt dizzy. The man opened the shower and said
bag containing her make-up and powder. She met at the wharf Hadja Jarma Lalli, Ronnie Aringoy, that both of them will take a bath. Lolita’s clothes got wet. She was crying. The man undressed
Honey and Michele. Ronnie gave to Lolita her boat ticket for the vessel M/V Mary Joy bound for her and had sexual intercourse with her. They stayed at the hotel until 11:00 o’clock in the
Sandakan, Malaysia; a passport in the name of Marife Plando but with Lolita’s picture on it, and morning of June 15, 2005. The customer used Lolita many times. He had sexual intercourse with
P1,000.00 in cash. Hadja Jarma, Lolita, Honey, Michele and two other women boarded the boat her every hour.
M/V Mary Joy bound for Sandakan. Ronnie Aringoy did not go with them. He did not board the
boat. x x x After the boat sailed, Hadja Jarma Lalli and Nestor Relampagos approached Lolita and Lolita worked at Pipen Club from June 14 to July 8, 2005. Every night, a customer used her. She
her companions. Nestor told them that they will have a good job in Malaysia as restaurant had at least one customer or more a night, and at most, she had around five customers a night.
entertainers. They will serve food to customers. They will not be harmed. They all had sexual intercourse with her. On July 9, 2005, Lolita was able to contact by cellphone
at about 10:00 o’clock in the morning her sister Janet Plando who is staying at Sipangkot Felda x
M/V Mary Joy arrived at the port of Sandakan, Malaysia at 10:00 o’clock in the morning of June x x. Janet is married to Said Abubakar, an Indonesian national who is working as a driver in the
7, 2005. After passing through the immigration office, Hadja Jarma Lalli, Nestor Relampagos, factory. x x x Lolita told Janet that she is in Labuan, Malaysia and beg Janet to save her because
Lolita, Honey, Michele and two other women boarded a van for Kota Kinabalu. x x x At the hotel, she was sold as a prostitute. Janet told Lolita to wait because her husband will go to Pipen Club
Nestor Relampagos introduced to Lolita and her companions a Chinese Malay called “Boss” as to fetch Lolita at 9:00 o’clock that evening of that day. x x x She told Janet to instruct her
their employer. After looking at the women, “Boss” brought Lolita, Honey, Diane and Lorraine to husband to ask for No. 60 at Pipen Club. x x x At 9:00 o’clock in the evening, Lolita was told by
a restaurant near the hotel. Diane and Lorraine were also on baord M/V Mary Joy when it left the Daddy Richard, one of the bosses at the club, that a customer requested for No. 60. The man was
port of Zamboanga for Sandakan on June 6, 2005. When they were already at the restaurant, a seated at one of the tables. Lolita approached the man and said, “good evening.” The man asked
Filipina woman working there said that the place is a prostitution den and the women there are her is she is the sister of Janet Plando. Lolita replied that she is, and asked the man if he is the
used as prostitutes. Lolita and her companions went back to the hotel. They told Hadja Jarma husband of her sister. He said, “yes.” The man had already paid at the counter. He stood up and
and Nestor that they do not like to work as prostitutes. x x x After about five minutes, another left the place. Lolita got her wallet and followed him. x x x Lolita told her sister about her ordeal.
person called “boss” arrived. x x x [T]hey were fetched by a van at about 7:00 o’clock in the She stayed at her sister’s house until July 22, 2005. On July 21, 2005 at 7:00 o’clock in the
evening and brought to Pipen Club owned by “Boss Awa”, a Malaysian. At the club, they were evening, a policeman went to her sisters house and asked if there is a woman staying in the
told that they owe the club 2,000 ringgits each as payment for the amount given by the club to house without a passport. Her sister told the policeman that she will send Lolita home on July 22.
Hadja Jarma Lalli and Nestor Relampagos. They will pay for the said amount by entertaining At dawn on July 22, Lolita and her brother-in-law took a taxi from Sipangkot Felda to
customers. The customers will pay 300 ringgits for short time services of which 50 ringgits will go Mananamblas where Lolita will board a speedboat to Sibuto, Tawi-Tawi. x x x
to the entertainer, and 500 ringgits for over night service of which 100 ringgits will be given to
Upon arrival in Zamboanga City on July 24, 2005, Lolita went directly to the house of her eldest establishment for nine months from February to October 2002. She has four children from four
sister Alejandra Plando Maywila at Sta. Catalina, Zamboanga City. She left her things at her different men. No other evidence was submitted in court to prove their assertions.”4
sister’s house and immediately went to the sister of Ronnie Aringoy in Tumaga. Ronnie was not
there. She asked Russel, niece of Ronnie, to call for the latter. Ronnie arrived and said to her, “so The Decision of the Trial Court
you are here, you arrived already.” He said he is not involved in what happened to her. Lolita
The Regional Trial Court rendered its Decision on 29 November 2005, with its dispositive portion
asked Ronnie to accompany her to the house of Nestor Relampagos because she has something
declaring:
to get from him. Ronnie refused. He told Lolita not to let them know that she had already arrived
from Malaysia.
“WHEREFORE, the Court finds accused HADJA JARMA LALLI y PURIH and RONNIE ARINGOY y
MASION GUILTY beyond reasonable doubt in Criminal Case No. 21908 of the Crime of Trafficking
Lolita was advised to file a complaint with the police regarding her ordeal in Malaysia. On August
in Persons defined in Section 3(a) and penalized under Section 10(c) in relation to Sections 4(a)
2, 2005, at past 9:00 o’clock in the morning, Lolita Plando went to Zamboanga Police Office at
and 6(c) of Republic Act No. 9208 known as the “Anti-Trafficking in Persons Act of 2003” and in
Gov. Lim Avenue to file her complaint. x x x
Criminal Case No. 21930 of the crime of Illegal Recruitment defined in Section 6 and penalized
In her Counter-Affidavit (Exh. “1”; “1-A”-Lalli), Hadja Jarma Lalli admitted that she met Lolita under Section 7(b) of Republic Act No. 8042 known as the “Migrant Workers and Overseas
Plando on June 6, 2005 on board M/V Mary Joy while the said vessel was at sea on its way to Filipinos Act of 1995” and SENTENCES each of said accused:
Sandakan, Malaysia. The meeting was purely coincidental. By coincidence also, Hadja Jarma,
1. In Criminal Case No. 21908, to suffer the penalty of LIFE IMPRISONMENT and to pay a fine of
Nestor Relampagos and Lolita Plando boarded the same van for Kota Kinabalu, Malaysia. Upon
P2,000,000.00 pesos;
arrival, they parted ways. They did not see each other anymore at Kota Kinabalu, Malaysia. She
did not know what happened to them. She went to Kota Kinabalu to visit his son-in-law. She
2. In Criminal Case No. 21930, to suffer the penalty of LIFE IMPRISONMENT and to pay a fine of
denied having recruited Lolita Plando for employment abroad (Exh. “1”; “1-A”). x x x
P500,000.00 pesos;
In his Counter-Affidavit (Exh. “1”-Aringoy), Ronnie Aringoy affirmed that he personally knows
3. To pay the offended party Lolita Plando y Sagadsad, jointly and severally, the sum of
Lolita Plando since she was a teenager and he knows for a fact that her name is Cristine and not
P50,000.00 as moral damages, and P50,000.00 as exemplary damages; and
Marife “as she purports it to appear.” Sometime in the first week of June 2005, Lolita borrowed
P1,000.00 from Ronnie because she wanted to go to Malaysia to work as a guest relation officer 4. To pay the costs.
(GRO). Ronnie lent her P1,000.00. He told her that he knows “a certain Hadja Jarma Lalli, distant
neighbor, who frequents to Malaysia and with whom she can ask pertinent information on job SO ORDERED.”5
opportunities.” The entries in Philippine Passport No. MM401136 issued to Hadja Jarma Lalli on
January 29, 2004 (Exh. “2”; “2-A” to “2-Q”) showed that she traveled to Malaysia no less than The trial court did not find credible the denials of the accused-appellants over the candid,
nine (9) times within the period from March 2004 to June 2005. positive and convincing testimony of complainant Lolita Plando (Lolita). The accused, likewise,
tried to prove that Lolita was a Guest Relations Officer (GRO) in the Philippines with four children
Nora Mae Adling, ticketing clerk of Aleson Shipping Lines, owner of the vessel M/V Mary Joy 2 fathered by four different men. However, the trial court found these allegations irrelevant and
plying Zamboanga City to Sandakan, Malaysia route and of M/V Kristel Jane 3, testified that immaterial to the criminal prosecution. These circumstances, even if true, would not exempt or
Hadja Jarma Lalli bought passenger tickets for her travel to Sandakan, not only for herself but mitigate the criminal liability of the accused. The trial court found that the accused, without a
also for other women passengers. POEA license, conspired in recruiting Lolita and trafficking her as a prostitute, resulting in crimes
committed by a syndicate.6 The trial court did not pronounce the liability of accused-at-large
Ronnie Aringoy submitted the Affidavit of his witness Rachel Cañete (Exh. “2”) and the Joint Nestor Relampagos (Relampagos) because jurisdiction was not acquired over his person.
Affidavits of witnesses Mercedita Salazar and Estrella Galgan. Rachel Cañete declared that Lolita
Plando whom she knows as Cristine Plando worked as a GRO (guest relation officer) and massage The Decision of the Court of Appeals
attendant at Magic 2 Videoke and Massage Parlor, that Lolita Plando has four children sired by
different men; and that she knows for a fact that Lolita Plando has been going to and from On 26 February 2010, the Court of Appeals affirmed in toto the RTC Decision and found accused-
Malaysia to work in bars. When she testified in court, Rachel did not present other evidence to appellants guilty beyond reasonable doubt of the crimes of Illegal Recruitment and Trafficking in
substantiate her allegations. Mercedita Salazar and Estrella Galgan declared in their Joint Persons.
Affidavit that Lolita Plando who is known to them as Marife Plando was their co-worker as
The Issue
massage attendant and GRO (guest relation officer) at Magic 2 Massage Parlor and Karaoke bar
where she used the names Gina Plando and Cristine Plando. She worked in the said
The only issue in this case is whether the Court of Appeals committed a reversible error in reaching her destination, Lalli got off the van, leaving Lolita, Relampagos and their other
affirming in toto the RTC Decision. companions to continue their journey towards the city proper of Kota Kinabalu.23 After spending
several days in Malaysia with her daughter and son-in-law, Lalli went to Brunei to visit a cousin
The Ruling of this Court on 12 June 2005, and headed back to Malaysia on 14 June 2005.24

We dismiss the appeal for lack of merit. Lalli assails the credibility of Lolita due to inconsistencies in her testimony with regard to: (1)
Lolita not being in Southcom Village on 5 June 2005 at 6:00 p.m., as she claimed, but in
We modify and increase the payment of damages in the crime of Trafficking in Persons from
Buenavista Village; and (2) Lolita’s claim that Lalli and Relampagos on 12 June 2005 brought the
P50,000 to P500,000 for moral damages and P50,000 to P100,000 for exemplary damages.
girls to Labuan, when in fact, Lalli was already in Brunei on 12 June 2005, as evidenced by the
stamp in her passport.25
Grounds for Appeal
Credibility of Testimonies
In his Appeal Brief,7 Ronnie Aringoy (Aringoy) admits that he referred Lolita to a certain Hadja
Jarma Lalli (Lalli), Aringoy’s neighbor who frequents Malaysia and from whom Lolita could ask
Both Aringoy and Lalli, in their respective Appeal Briefs, assail the testimony of Lolita due to its
pertinent information on job opportunities.8 Aringoy claims that he learned later that Lolita left
alleged inconsistency on immaterial facts, such as the status of Lolita’s grandfather, the name of
for Malaysia.9 He denies knowing Relampagos to whom Lolita paid P28,000 as placement fee for
the village she was in, the date she was brought to Labuan, Malaysia, and the like. In a long line
finding her work in Malaysia.10
of cases, the Court has ruled that inconsistencies pointed out by the accused in the testimony of
prosecution witnesses relating to minor details do not destroy the credibility of witnesses.26 On
Aringoy presented three witnesses: his niece Rachel Aringoy Cañete (Rachel), Mercedita Salazar
the contrary, they indicate that the witnesses were telling the truth and not previously
(Mercedita), and Estrella Galgan (Estrella). In her testimony, Rachel declared that: (1) Lolita is a
rehearsed.27
GRO and Massage Attendant at Magic 2 Videoke and Massage Parlor; (2) Lolita has four children
sired by different men; and (3) Lolita has been travelling to Malaysia to work in bars. Mercedita
The clear material inconsistency in this case, however, lies in the testimonies of accused Aringoy
and Estrella, on the other hand, declared in their testimonies that Lolita was their co-worker as
and Lalli. Aringoy admitted that he referred Lolita to a certain Hadja Jarma Lalli, his neighbor who
Massage Attendant and GRO in Magic 2 Massage Parlor and Karaoke Bar from February to
frequents Malaysia and with whom Lolita could ask pertinent information on job
October 2002.11
opportunities.28 Lalli, on the other hand, denies having met Lolita prior to their meeting on
board M/V Mary Joy on 6 June 2005,29 and claims that her meeting with Lolita was purely
Aringoy assailed the credibility of Lolita’s testimony because of inconsistencies with regard to: (1)
coincidental.30 Lalli admits that, even if she met Relampagos, Lolita and their companions only
Lolita’s grandfather’s status and name; (2) the persons (Ronnie and Rachel) who approached
on that day on board M/V Mary Joy, she allowed these people to ride with her in Malaysia using
Lolita to talk about the job opportunity in Malaysia; (3) certain statements in Lolita’s testimony
the van driven by the friend of Lalli’s son-in-law.31 Lastly, Lalli claims that she often goes to
that were not alleged in her Sworn Statement; (4) payment of placement fee of P28,000; and (5)
Malaysia to visit her daughter and son-in-law.32 However, this does not explain why Lalli
names of the other female recruits who were with Lolita in the boat going to Sandakan and Kota
purchased boat tickets, not only for herself, but for the other women passengers going to
Kinabalu.12 Aringoy likewise claims that he was never included in the initial complaint filed by
Malaysia.33 From March 2004 to June 2005, Lalli traveled to Malaysia no less than nine (9)
Lolita, and Lolita’s statements about her meetings with him, Lalli and Relampagos on 3, 4, 5 and 6
times.34 Nora Mae Adling, ticketing clerk of Aleson Shipping Lines, owner of the vessel M/V Mary
June 2005 were not corroborated by any witness.13
Joy 2 plying Zamboanga City to Sandakan, Malaysia route and of M/V Kristel Jane 3, testified in
On the other hand, in her Appeal Brief,14 Lalli claims that she simply met Lolita on 6 June 2005 open court that “Hadja Jarma Lalli bought passenger tickets for her travel to Sandakan, not only
on board the ship M/V Mary Joy bound for Sandakan, Malaysia.15 Lalli denies having met Lolita for herself but also for other women passengers.”35 Clearly, it is not Lolita’s testimony that is
prior to their meeting on board M/V Mary Joy.16 Lalli claims she was going to Malaysia to visit materially inconsistent, but the testimonies of Lalli and Aringoy.
her daughter and son-in-law who was a Malaysian national.17 Lalli further claims that she only
Aringoy presented his witnesses Rachel, Mercedita and Estrella to impeach the credibility of
spoke to Lolita aboard the ship for idle conversation to pass away the time.18 In this
Lolita by alleging that Lolita was a Massage Attendant and GRO in a massage parlor and videoke
conversation, she learned that Lolita was with a party of girls accompanied by Relampagos, and
bar. His witness Rachel further declared that Lolita, at the young age of 23 years, already had
the latter was bringing them to Malaysia to work as sales ladies.19 Lalli admits that Lolita,
four children sired by four different men, and had been previously travelling to Malaysia to work
Relampagos and the other girls rode in Lalli’s van in Sandakan, driven by a friend of Lalli’s son-in-
in bars. These bare allegations were not supported by any other evidence. Assuming, for the sake
law.20 They all rode together because Relampagos talked to the van driver, requesting if he and
of argument, that Lolita previously worked in a Karaoke Bar and Massage Parlor and that she had
his party of girls could board the van and pay their fare when they reach the city proper of Kota
four children from different men, such facts cannot constitute exempting or mitigating
Kinabalu.21 Lalli boarded the van with Lolita, Relampagos and their companions.22 Upon
circumstances to relieve the accused from their criminal liabilities. It does not change the fact
that the accused recruited Lolita to work in Malaysia without the requisite POEA license, thus licensee or non-holder of authority contemplated under Article 13(f) of Presidential Decree No.
constituting the crime of illegal recruitment. Worse, the accused deceived her by saying that her 442, as amended, otherwise known as the Labor Code of the Philippines.
work in Malaysia would be as restaurant entertainer, when in fact, Lolita would be working as a
prostitute, thus, constituting the crime of trafficking. Illegal recruitment when committed by a syndicate or in large scale shall be considered an
offense involving economic sabotage.
The facts found by the trial court, as affirmed in toto by the Court of Appeals, are, as a general
rule, conclusive upon this Court, in the absence of any showing of grave abuse of discretion.36 Illegal recruitment is deemed committed by a syndicate if carried out by a group of three (3) or
The Court, however, may determine the factual milieu of cases or controversies under specific more persons conspiring or confederating with one another.” (Emphasis supplied)
circumstances, such as:
Article 13(f) of Presidential Decree No. 442, as amended, otherwise known as the Labor Code of
(1) when the inference made is manifestly mistaken, absurd or impossible; the Philippines, defines “authority” as follows:
(2) when there is a grave abuse of discretion;
(3) when the finding is grounded entirely on speculations, surmises or conjectures; “Authority” means a document issued by the Department of Labor authorizing a person or
(4) when the judgment of the Court of Appeals is based on misapprehension of facts; association to engage in recruitment and placement activities as a private recruitment entity.
(5) when the findings of fact are conflicting;
(6) when the Court of Appeals, in making its findings, went beyond the issues of the case and Section 7 of RA 8042 provides for the penalty of illegal recruitment committed by a syndicate
the same is contrary to the admissions of both appellant and appellee; (which constitutes economic sabotage), as follows:
(7) when the findings of the Court of Appeals are contrary to those of the trial court;
(8) when the findings of fact are conclusions without citation of specific evidence on which they (b) The penalty of life imprisonment and a fine of not less than Five hundred thousand pesos
are based; (P500,000.00) nor more than One million pesos (P1,000,000.00) shall be imposed if illegal
(9) when the Court of Appeals manifestly overlooked certain relevant facts not disputed by the
recruitment constitutes economic sabotage as defined therein.
parties and which, if properly considered, would justify a different conclusion; and
(10) when the findings of fact of the Court of Appeals are premised on the absence of evidence
and are contradicted by the evidence on record.37 It is clear that a person or entity engaged in recruitment and placement activities without the
requisite authority from the Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE), whether for profit or
In this case, none of these exceptions to the general rule on conclusiveness of facts are not, is engaged in illegal recruitment.39 The Philippine Overseas Employment Administration
applicable. The Court gives weight and respect to the trial court’s findings in criminal prosecution (POEA), an agency under DOLE created by Executive Order No. 797 to take over the duties of the
because the latter is Overseas Employment Development Board, issues the authority to recruit under the Labor Code.
The commission of illegal recruitment by three or more persons conspiring or confederating with
36 Cosmos Bottling Corporation v. Nagrama, Jr., G.R. No. 164403, 4 March 2008, 547 SCRA 571, one another is deemed committed by a syndicate and constitutes economic sabotage,40 for
584, citing The Philippine American Life and General Insurance Co. v. Gramaje, 484 Phil. 880; 442 which the penalty of life imprisonment and a fine of not less than P500,000 but not more than
SCRA 274 (2004). P1,000,000 shall be imposed.41

37 Reyes v. Court of Appeals (Ninth Division), 328 Phil. 171, 180; 258 SCRA 651 (1996) citing Floro The penalties in Section 7 of RA 8042 have already been amended by Section 6 of Republic Act
v. Llenado, 314 Phil. 715; 244 SCRA 713 (1995). No. 10022, and have been increased to a fine of not less than P2,000,000 but not more than
P5,000,000. However, since the crime was committed in 2005, we shall apply the penalties in the
in a better position to decide the question, having heard the witnesses in person and observed old law, RA 8042.
their deportment and manner of testifying during the trial.38 For this reason, the Court adopts
the findings of fact of the trial court, as affirmed in toto by the Court of Appeals, there being no In People v. Gallo,42 the Court enumerated the elements of syndicated illegal recruitment, to
grave abuse of discretion on the part of the lower courts. wit:

Criminal Case No. 21930 (Illegal Recruitment) (1) the offender undertakes either any activity within the meaning of “recruitment and
placement” defined under Article 13(b), or any of the prohibited practices enumerated under
Section 6 of Republic Act No. 8042 (RA 8042) defines illegal recruitment, as follows: Art. 34 of the Labor Code;

[I]llegal recruitment shall mean any act of canvassing, enlisting, contracting, transporting, (2) he has no valid license or authority required by law to enable one to lawfully engage in
utilizing, hiring, or procuring workers and includes referring, contact services, promising or recruitment and placement of workers; and
advertising for employment abroad, whether for profit or not, when undertaken by a non-
(3) the illegal recruitment is committed by a group of three (3) or more persons conspiring or Aringoy claims that no conspiracy existed in illegal recruitment, as he denies even knowing
confederating with one another.43 Relampagos, who is currently at-large. Lalli denies any involvement in the illegal recruitment, and
claims that she only met Relampagos through Lolita on board the ship M/V Mary Joy on 6 June
Article 13(b) of the Labor Code of the Philippines defines recruitment and placement as “any act 2005, and learned that Relampagos was bringing Lolita and their other girl companions to
of canvassing, enlisting, contracting, transporting, utilizing, hiring or procuring workers, and Malaysia to work as sales ladies.
includes referrals, contract services, promising or advertising for employment, locally or abroad,
whether for profit or not, provided, that any person or entity which, in any manner, offers or Under Article 8 of the Revised Penal Code, there is conspiracy “when two or more persons come
promises for a fee, employment to two or more persons shall be deemed engaged in recruitment to an agreement concerning the commission of a felony and decide to commit it.”
and placement.”
In People v. Lago,46 the Court discussed conspiracy in this wise:
Clearly, given the broad definition of recruitment and placement, even the mere act of referring
someone for placement abroad can be considered recruitment. Such act of referral, in “The elements of conspiracy are the following: (1) two or more persons came to an agreement,
connivance with someone without the requisite authority or POEA license, constitutes illegal (2) the agreement concerned the commission of a felony, and (3) the execution of the felony was
recruitment. In its simplest terms, illegal recruitment is committed by persons who, without decided upon. Proof of the conspiracy need not be based on direct evidence, because it may be
authority from the government, give the impression that they have the power to send workers inferred from the parties’ conduct indicating a common understanding among themselves with
abroad for employment purposes.44 respect to the commission of the crime. Neither is it necessary to show that two or more persons
met together and entered into an explicit agreement setting out the details of an unlawful
In this case, the trial court, as affirmed by the appellate court, found Lalli, Aringoy and scheme or objective to be carried out. The conspiracy may be deduced from the mode or manner
Relampagos to have conspired and confederated with one another to recruit and place Lolita for in which the crime was perpetrated; it may also be inferred from the acts of the accused evincing
work in Malaysia, without a POEA license. The three elements of syndicated illegal recruitment a joint or common purpose and design, concerted action and community of interest.”47
are present in this case, in particular: (1) the accused have no valid license or authority required
by law to enable them to lawfully engage in the recruitment and placement of workers; (2) the In this case, Lolita would not have been able to go to Malaysia if not for the concerted efforts of
accused engaged in this activity of recruitment and placement by actually recruiting, deploying Aringoy, Lalli and Relampagos. First, it was Aringoy who knew Lolita, since Aringoy was a
and transporting Lolita to Malaysia; and (3) illegal recruitment was committed by three persons neighbor of Lolita’s grandfather. It was Aringoy who referred Lolita to Lalli, a fact clearly admitted
(Aringoy, Lalli and Relampagos), conspiring and confederating with one another. by Aringoy. Second, Lolita would not have been able to go to Malaysia if Lalli had not purchased
Lolita’s boat ticket to Malaysia. This fact can be deduced from the testimony of Nora Mae Adling
Aringoy claims and admits that he only referred Lolita to Lalli for job opportunities to Malaysia. (Nora), ticketing clerk of Aleson Shipping Lines, owner of the vessel M/V Mary Joy 2 plying
Such act of referring, whether for profit or not, in connivance with someone without a POEA Zamboanga City to Sandakan, Malaysia route and of M/V Kristel Jane 3. Nora testified in open
license, is already considered illegal recruitment, given the broad definition of recruitment and court that “Hadja Jarma Lalli bought passenger tickets for her travel to Sandakan, not only for
placement in the Labor Code. herself but also for other women passengers.” Lalli’s claim that she only goes to Malaysia to visit
her daughter and son-in-law does not explain the fact why she bought the boat tickets of the
Lalli, on the other hand, completely denies any involvement in the recruitment and placement of other women passengers going to Malaysia. In fact, it appears strange that Lalli visited Malaysia
Lolita to Malaysia, and claims she only met Lolita for the first time by coincidence on board the nine (9) times in a span of one year and three months (March 2004 to June 2005) just to visit her
ship M/V Mary Joy. Lalli’s denial does not deserve credence because it completely conflicts with daughter and son-in-law. In Malaysia, it was Relampagos who introduced Lolita and her
the testimony of Aringoy who claims he referred Lolita to Lalli who had knowledge of the job companions to a Chinese Malay called “Boss” as their first employer. When Lolita and her
opportunities in Malaysia. companions went back to the hotel to tell Relampagos and Lalli that they did not want to work as
prostitutes, Relampagos brought Lolita and the girls on board a van to Sangawan China Labuan,
The conflicting testimonies of Lalli and Aringoy on material facts give doubt to the truth and
where they stayed in a room for one night. The next day, they were picked up by a van and
veracity of their stories, and strengthens the credibility of the testimony of Lolita, despite
brought to Pipen Club, where Lolita and her companions worked as prostitutes. To date, accused
allegations of irrelevant inconsistencies.
Relampagos is at large and has not been brought under the jurisdiction of the courts for his
crimes.
No improper motive could be imputed to Lolita to show that she would falsely testify against the
accused. The absence of evidence as to an improper motive entitles Lolita’s testimony to full
Flight in criminal law is the evading of the course of justice by voluntarily withdrawing oneself in
faith and credit.45
order to avoid arrest or detention or the institution or continuance of criminal proceedings.48
The unexplained flight of an accused person may as a general rule be taken into consideration as
evidence having a tendency to establish his guilt.49 Clearly, in this case, the flight of accused (c) Any person found guilty of qualified trafficking under Section 6 shall suffer the penalty of life
Relampagos, who is still at-large, shows an indication of guilt in the crimes he has been charged. imprisonment and a fine of not less than Two million pesos (P2,000,000.00) but not more than
Five million pesos (P5,000,000.00).
It is clear that through the concerted efforts of Aringoy, Lalli and Relampagos, Lolita was
recruited and deployed to Malaysia to work as a prostitute. Such conspiracy among Aringoy, Lalli The Anti-Trafficking in Persons Act is a new law passed last 26 May 2003, designed to criminalize
and Relampagos could be deduced from the manner in which the crime was perpetrated—each the act of trafficking in persons for prostitution, sexual exploitation, foced labor and slavery,
of the accused played a pivotal role in perpetrating the crime of illegal recruitment, and evinced among others.
a joint common purpose and design, concerted action and community of interest.
In this case, Aringoy claims that he cannot be convicted of the crime of Trafficking in Persons
For these reasons, this Court affirms the CA Decision, affirming the RTC Decision, declaring because he was not part of the group that transported Lolita from the Philippines to Malaysia on
accused Ronnie Aringoy y Masion and Hadja Jarma Lalli y Purih guilty beyond reasonable doubt board the ship M/V Mary Joy. In addition, he presented his niece, Rachel, as witness to testify
of the crime of illegal recruitment committed by a syndicate in Criminal Case No. 21930, with a that Lolita had been travelling to Malaysia to work in bars. On the other hand, Lalli denies any
penalty of life imprisonment and a fine of P500,000 imposed on each of the accused. involvement in the recruitment and trafficking of Lolita, claiming she only met Lolita for the first
time on board M/V Mary Joy going to Malaysia.
Criminal Case No. 21908 (Trafficking in Persons)
The testimony of Aringoy’s niece, Rachel, that Lolita had been travelling to Malaysia to work in
bars cannot be given credence. Lolita did not even have a passport to go to Malaysia and had to
use her sister’s passport when Aringoy, Lalli and Relampagos first recruited her. It is questionable
Section 3(a) of Republic Act No. 9208 (RA 9208), otherwise known as the Anti-Trafficking in
how she could have been travelling to Malaysia previously without a passport, as Rachel claims.
Persons Act of 2003, defines Trafficking in Persons, as follows:
Moreover, even if it is true that Lolita had been travelling to Malaysia to work in bars, the crime
of Trafficking in Persons can exist even with the victim’s consent or knowledge under Section 3(a)
Trafficking in Persons—refers to the recruitment, transportation, transfer or harboring, or receipt
of RA 9208.
of persons with or without the victim’s consent or knowledge, within or across national borders
by means of threat or use of force, or other forms of coercion, abduction, fraud, deception,
Trafficking in Persons under Sections 3(a) and 4 of RA 9208 is not only limited to transportation
abuse of power or of position, taking advantage of the vulnerability of the person, or, the giving
of victims, but also includes the act of recruitment of victims for trafficking. In this case, since it
or receiving of payments or benefits to achieve the consent of a person having control over
has been sufficiently proven beyond reasonable doubt, as discussed in Criminal Case No. 21930,
another person for the purpose of exploitation which includes at a minimum, the exploitation or
that all the three accused (Aringoy, Lalli and Relampagos) conspired and confederated with one
the prostitution of others or other forms of sexual exploitation, forced labor or services, slavery,
another to illegally recruit Lolita to become a prostitute in Malaysia, it follows that they are also
servitude or the removal or sale of organs. x x x (Emphasis supplied)
guilty beyond reasonable doubt of the crime of Qualified Trafficking in Persons committed by a
syndicate under RA 9208 because the crime of recruitment for prostitution also constitutes
Section 4 of RA 9208 enumerates the prohibited acts of Trafficking in Persons, one of which is:
trafficking.
(a) To recruit, transport, transfer, harbor, provide, or receive a person by any means, including
When an act or acts violate two or more different laws and constitute two different offenses, a
those done under the pretext of domestic or overseas employment or training or apprenticeship,
prosecution under one will not bar a prosecution under the other.50 The constitutional right
for the purpose of prostitution, pornography, sexual exploitation, forced labor, slavery,
against double jeopardy only applies to risk of punishment twice for the same offense, or for an
involuntary servitude or debt bondage.
act punished by a law and an ordinance.51 The prohibition on double jeopardy does not apply to
The crime of Trafficking in Persons is qualified when committed by a syndicate, as provided in an act or series of acts constituting different offenses.
Section 6(c) of RA 9208:
Damages
(c) When the crime is committed by a syndicate, or in large scale. Trafficking is deemed
Lolita claimed actual damages of P28,000, which she allegedly paid to the accused as placement
committed by a syndicate if carried out by a group of three (3) or more persons conspiring or
fee for the work of restaurant entertainer in Malaysia. The trial court did not award this amount
confederating with one another. It is deemed committed in large scale if committed against
to Lolita. We agree and affirm the trial court’s non-award due to Lolita’s inconsistent statements
three (3) or more persons, individually or as a group.
on the payment of placement fee. In her sworn statement, Lolita alleged that she paid P28,000
Section 10(c) of RA 9208 provides for the penalty of qualified trafficking: as placement fee to Lalli.52 On cross-examination, however, she admitted that she never paid
P28,000 to the accused.53
We, however, modify and increase the payment of damages in the crime of Trafficking in Persons The spouse, descendants, ascendants, and brothers and sisters may bring the action mentioned
from P50,000 to P500,000 as moral damages and P50,000 to P100,000 as exemplary damages. in No. 9 of this article, in the order named.”

The Civil Code describes moral damages in Article 2217: The criminal case of Trafficking in Persons as a Prostitute is an analogous case to the crimes of
seduction, abduction, rape, or other lascivious acts. In fact, it is worse. To be trafficked as a
Art. 2217. Moral damages include physical suffering, mental anguish, fright, serious anxiety, prostitute without one’s consent and to be sexually violated four to five times a day by different
besmirched reputation, wounded feelings, moral shock, social humiliation, and similar injury. strangers is horrendous and atrocious. There is no doubt that Lolita experienced physical
Though incapable of pecuniary computation, moral damages may be recovered if they are the suffering, mental anguish, fright, serious anxiety, besmirched reputation, wounded feelings,
proximate result of the defendant’s wrongful act for omission.” moral shock, and social humiliation when she was trafficked as a prostitute in Malaysia. Since the
crime of Trafficking in Persons was aggravated, being committed by a syndicate, the award of
Exemplary damages, on the other hand, are awarded in addition to the payment of moral
exemplary damages is likewise justified.
damages, by way of example or correction for the public good, as stated in the Civil Code:
WHEREFORE, we AFFIRM the Decision of the Court of Appeals dated 26 February 2010, affirming
Art. 2229. Exemplary or corrective damages are imposed, by way of example or correction for
the Decision of the Regional Trial Court of Zamboanga City dated 29 November 2005, finding
the public good, in addition to the moral, temperate, liquidated or compensatory damages.
accused Lalli and Aringoy guilty beyond reasonable doubt of the crimes of Illegal Recruitment
and Trafficking in Persons committed by a syndicate, with the following MODIFICATIONS:
Art. 2230. In criminal offenses, exemplary damages as a part of the civil liability may be
imposed when the crime was committed with one or more aggravating circumstances. Such
1. In Criminal Case No. 21908, each of the accused is sentenced to suffer the penalty of LIFE
damages are separate and distinct from fines and shall be paid to the offended party.
IMPRISONMENT and to pay a fine of P2,000,000;
The payment of P500,000 as moral damages and P100,000 as exemplary damages for the crime
2. In Criminal Case No. 21930, each of the accused is sentenced to suffer the penalty of LIFE
of Trafficking in Persons as a Prostitute finds basis in Article 2219 of the Civil Code, which states:
IMPRISONMENT and to pay a fine of
Art. 2219. Moral damages may be recovered in the following and analogous cases:
P500,000;
(1) A criminal offense resulting in physical injuries;
3. Each of the accused is ordered to pay the offended party Lolita Plando y Sagadsad, jointly
and severally, the sum of P500,000 as moral damages, and P100,000 as exemplary damages for
(2) Quasi-delicts causing physical injuries;
the crime of Trafficking in Persons; and to pay the costs.
(3) Seduction, abduction, rape, or other lascivious acts;
The Court cannot pronounce the liability of accused-at-large Nestor Relampagos as jurisdiction
(4) Adultery or concubinage; over his person has not been acquired.

(5) Illegal or arbitrary detention or arrest; SO ORDERED.

(6) Illegal search; Brion, Sereno, Reyes and Perlas-Bernabe,** JJ., concur.

(7) Libel, slander or any other form of defamation; Judgment affirmed with modifications.

(8) Malicious prosecution; Note.—Illegal recruitment is qualified into large scale, when three or more persons, individually
or as a group, are victimized. (People vs. Bartolome, 557 SCRA 20; People vs. Zenchiro, 561 SCRA
(9) Acts mentioned in Article 309; 682 [2008]).

(10) Acts and actions referred to in Articles 21, 26, 27, 28, 29, 30, 32, 34, and 35.

The parents of the female seduced, abducted, raped, or abused, referred to in No. 3 of this
article, may also recover moral damages.
G.R. Nos. 112761–65. February 3, 1997.* Appellant, as Acting Postmaster of Iligan City, was charged with misappropriating government
funds by manipulating his records and making it appear that he paid a number of postal money
PEOPLE OF THE PHILIPPINES, plaintiff-appellee, vs. PORFERIO M. PEPITO, accused-appellant. orders although no such payments were made. Appellant was found short in his cash accounts,
as follows: (a) P23,643.73 for October 1975;1 (b) P11.07 for December 1975;2 (c) P7,283.59 for
Criminal Law; Malversation of Public Funds; An accountable officer may be convicted of
the month of January 1976;3 (d) P30,052.25 for April 1976,4 and; (e) P42,302.97 for May 1976.5
malversation even in the absence of direct proof of misappropriation so long as there is evidence
Except for the dates and amounts involved, appellant was similarly charged in five (5) separate
of shortage in his accounts which he is unable to explain.—It is settled that in cases of
Informations6 as follows:
malversation of public funds, the mere failure of a public officer to have duly forthcoming any
public funds or property with which he is chargeable, upon demand by any duly authorized “That sometime during the month of _________________ in the City of Iligan, Philippines, and
officer, is prima facie evidence that he has put such funds or property to personal use. An within the jurisdiction of this Honorable Court, the said accused Porferio Pepito, Acting
accountable officer may be convicted of malversation even in the absence of direct proof of Postmaster of Iligan City, with official station thereat, and as such accountable officer,
misappropriation so long as there is evidence of shortage in his accounts which he is unable to responsible for fund collected and received by him by reason of his position, did then and there
explain. Indeed, to justify conviction for malversation of public funds, the prosecution has only to wilfully, unlawfully and fraudulently and with grave abuse of confidence, misappropriate,
prove that the accused received public funds or property and that he could not account for them embezzle and take away government funds in his possession in the amount of ____________
or did not have them in his possession and could not give a reasonable excuse for the accused employing deceit, false manifestation and fraudulent misrepresentations, manipulated
disappearance of the same. his records to make it appear that on the month of ___________, the Money Order Paid by him
was _____________ although his payments amounted only to _____________, making
Same; Same; Elements of Malversation of Public Funds.—In the case at bar, all the elements of
untruthful statements in a narration of facts and that by virtue of such falsification in his record
malversation of public funds are present, viz: (a) the offender is a public officer, (b) he had
of payments, the said accused successfully appropriated and converted to his own personal use
custody or control of the funds or property by reason of the duties of his office, (c) these funds or
and benefit the sum of ______________, to the damage and prejudice of the Bureau of Post,
property were public funds or property for which he was accountable, and (d) that he
Manila, Philippines, in the aforementioned amount of _________________.
appropriated, took, misappropriated or consented, or through abandonment or negligence
permitted another person to take them. Contrary to and in violation of Article 217 and Article 171 of the Revised Penal Code.”

Same; Mitigating Circumstances; Voluntary Surrender; For the mitigating circumstance of First, the facts. In a letter,7 dated August 5, 1976, CESAR L. JUAN, Regional Director of the Bureau
voluntary surrender to be appreciated, it must be proven that the accused freely placed himself of Posts, Region x Cagayan de Oro City, requested the Office of the City Auditor, Iligan City, to
at the disposal of law enforcing authorities.—The rule is clear that for the mitigating audit the accounts of appellant PORFERIO PEPITO, Acting Postmaster of Iligan City. Earlier, an
circumstance of voluntary surrender to be appreciated, it must be proven that the accused freely audit team from the Office of Regional Director Juan uncovered certain anomalies regarding
placed himself at the disposal of law enforcing authorities. The records confirm that appellant appellant’s postal money order transactions at the Iligan City Post Office. However, due to lack of
was arrested and detained by the INP Station of Marawi City for the crimes charged upon the time, the team failed to determine the exact figure involved in the anomaly. Hence, their request
issuance of the Order for his arrest on February 9, 1978. Appellant was only released from for assistance from the City Auditor’s Office.8
custody upon the approval of his bailbond on March 27, 1978. Under the circumstances,
appellant cannot be credited with the mitigating circumstance of voluntary surrender. Iligan City Auditor FRANCISCO APARECE immediately formed an audit team composed of
Assistant City Auditor HONORIO N. PABLICO and Auditor ROMULO ORBE.9 They started their
APPEAL from a decision of the Regional Trial Court of Iligan City, Br. 5. audit on August 19, 1976 and concentrated on the postal money order transactions of appellant.
They examined the cash in appellant’s possession and verified the records of the postal money
The facts are stated in the opinion of the Court.
orders (PMOs), the payment of these checks, and all depository funds of said post office in
government banks and in the Bureau of Posts, Manila, covering the period from July 1, 1975 to
The Solicitor General for plaintiff-appellee.
August 9, 1976.10
Dimnatang T. Saro for accused-appellant.
Asst. Auditor Pablico outlined the procedure for payment of postal money orders, thus: The
PUNO, J.: postmaster pays the postal money order (PMO) upon presentation to him. The PMO paid cards,
evidencing payment of the PMOs, are then kept by the postmaster as custodian. The postmaster
Accused-appellant PORFERIO PEPITO appeals from the Decision of the trial court convicting him then prepares a list of the PMOs he paid for a period of fifteen (15) days. Hence, in a month, the
of Malversation of Public Funds through Falsification of Official Documents on five (5) counts. postmaster prepares two (2) lists or records of payment: one for the first fifteen days of the
month; and another list for the next fifteen days. The PMO paid cards and the lists are then sent
to the central office of the Bureau of Posts in Manila for safekeeping. A copy of each list is sent to Resolution of this motion was deferred for six (6) years with the subsequent reorganization of
the Regional Office of the Bureau of Posts, another copy is sent to the City Auditor’s Office and the judiciary and the re-raffling of appellant’s cases. Finally, in an Order,18 dated September 9,
the last copy is retained by the Postmaster himself.11 1988, appellant’s motion to suspend the trial of the cases was set for hearing by the new
presiding Judge Tago M. Bantuas. However, on the date set, appellant’s counsel failed to appear.
The audit team verified the total amount of PMO payments appearing on the lists or records Judge Bantuas continued with the hearing of appellant’s motion and denied appellant’s motion
prepared by appellant. They totalled the daily PMO payments of appellant and crosschecked to suspend the trial. The continuation of the hearing of the cases was set on January 10, 1989.
them with appellant’s entry on the cash book. These reveal the total money order payments of Upon receipt of the Order and Notice of Hearing, appellant’s counsel, Atty. Dimnatang T. Saro,
appellant for the month. After totalling the PMO payments of the postmaster per month, the filed a motion to postpone the hearing due to conflict of schedule.19 Hearing was thus reset to
audit team requested the Central Office of the Bureau of Posts in Manila, through its regional February 7, 1989.20
office, to furnish them the PMO paid cards, evidencing payments of the PMOs during the period
covered by their audit.12 Again, a series of motions to defer the hearing was filed at appellant’s instance and granted by
the trial court. It was only on January 24, 1992 that the new presiding Judge Maximino Magno-
Upon receipt of the PMO paid cards, the audit team crosschecked the paid cards with the record Libre issued an Order admitting the evidence offered by the prosecution.21 On July 14, 1992, the
of the PMOs allegedly paid by appellant. They discovered that some PMOs were listed as paid defense commenced to adduce its evidence and presented appellant as its lone witness.
but were not supported by paid cards. The audit team uncovered these discrepancies for the
months of October and December, 1975 and for the months of January, April and May, all of On the stand, appellant denied there was shortage in his cash accounts. After he was informed of
1976. Based on the records, the total PMOs paid by appellant during the period covered by the the missing funds, he asked the audit team to re-examine the records for his cash on hand has
audit was P494,720.85, but only P250,090.60 was supported by PMO paid cards. The balance of always tallied with his cashbook. His office had been subjected to various regular audit
two hundred forty-four thousand six hundred thirty pesos and twenty-five centavos examinations by different offices, namely: the Bureau of Treasury, the District Postal Inspector,
(P244,630.25) was disallowed in audit for lack of supporting documents. Hence, the cash the Postal Audit Examiners and the Iligan City Auditor’s Office. None of these offices found any
shortage in appellant’s account.13 Appellant asked the auditors to double-check their findings irregularity in his accountabilities. He urged that there must have been some error or inaccuracy
but the audit team came out with the same result. in the conduct of the audit. He further charged that the malversation cases were filed against
him for political reasons for the late Governor Arsenio Quibranza had a grudge against his son-in-
In a letter14 dated February 25, 1977, the audit team informed appellant of the shortage in his law.22
cash accounts. They demanded from appellant the immediate restitution of the missing funds
and an explanation why no criminal and administrative sanctions should be taken against him.15 Appellant admitted that when he was found short in his cash accounts, he applied for amnesty
No action was taken by appellant to restore and explain his shortage of funds. Hence, five (5) under P.D. 1082. When he was informed by then Presiding Judge Dalisay and Prosecutor Lagcao
criminal Informations for malversation of public funds through falsification of official documents that he would have to admit his guilt in his application for amnesty since amnesty presupposes
were filed against him. the commission of a crime, he still proceeded with his application for his friends in Lanao del Sur
assured him that his amnesty would be immediately processed and approved. His conditional
After the prosecution formally offered its evidence and rested its case on December 18, 1978, amnesty has been granted but it is still pending final approval by the President for allegedly there
the continuation of the hearing for the presentation of the defense evidence was suspended due is someone in Manila who is blocking the grant of his amnesty.23 After trial, the court rendered
to the transfer of then Presiding Judge Leonardo I. Cruz to Angeles City. judgment24 on September 8, 1993 finding appellant guilty of the crime charged. The dispositive
portion reads:
It was only after two (2) years, or on August 13, 1982, that continuation of the trial resumed for
the presentation of the defense evidence. However, on the scheduled date of hearing, appellant, WHEREFORE, in accordance with the provisions of Article(s) 217, 171, in relation to Article 48 of
through counsel, filed a motion to suspend the trial16 on the ground that he has applied for and the Revised Penal Code, the Court finds accused guilty on all the five (5) counts he is charged
was conditionally granted an amnesty under P.D. 1082 by the 11th Amnesty Commission of (with) and is hereby sentenced, to wit:
Marawi City, Lanao del Sur, for said cases. Appellant prayed that pursuant to Section 6 of P.D.
1082, further proceedings in his cases be held in abeyance pending final approval of his “1. As to Criminal Case No. 277, since the amount misappropriated is P23,643.73, accused should
conditional amnesty by the President of the Philippines. be penalized according to the penalty provided in Paragraph No. 4 of Article 217 of the Revised
Penal Code which is reclusion temporal maximum to reclusion perpetua. Since according to
The fiscal opposed17 the motion on the ground that the conditional amnesty of appellant was Article 48 of the Revised Penal Code, the penalty for the most serious crime shall be applied in its
spurious for it was issued by a person not duly authorized for the purpose. maximum period, accused is meted out a penalty of reclusion perpetua.
“2. As to Criminal Case No. 278, considering that the amount misappropriated was P11.07, adduce evidence in his defense. After more than fifteen (15) years of trial of his cases, appellant
according to Article 48 of the Revised Penal Code, the penalty for the most serious crime shall be cannot now impugn the Order of the court denying his motion to suspend his prosecution.27
imposed in its maximum period, thus, accused should be meted out the penalty prescribed in
Article 171 and in applying the provisions of the indeterminate sentence law, accused should be Second. Appellant contends that there was no clear showing that he misappropriated the missing
meted the indeterminate prison terms of six (6) years prision correccional to twelve (12) years funds. Allegedly, his office has been regularly audited by different agencies and none has found
prision mayor. him short in his accountabilities. He insists on the inaccuracy of the audit report of the City
Auditor’s Office which examined his cash and accounts. We find no merit in the contention. It is
“3, As to Criminal Case No. 274, since the amount malversed was P7,283.79, accused should be settled that in cases of malversation of public funds, the mere failure of a public officer to have
penalized according to Paragraph No. 3 of Article 217 of the Revised Penal Code and should be duly forthcoming any public funds or property with which he is chargeable, upon demand by any
meted out an indeterminate penalty of ten (10) years and one (1) day of prision mayor to duly authorized officer, is prima facie evidence that he has put such funds or property to
fourteen (14) years and eight (8) months of reclusion temporal. personal use.28 An accountable officer may be convicted of malversation even in the absence of
direct proof of misappropriation so long as there is evidence of shortage in his accounts which he
to the penalty prescribed in Criminal Case No. 277 mentioned in Paragraph 1 hereof, which is is unable to explain.29 Indeed, to justify conviction for malversation of public funds, the
reclusion perpetua; and prosecution has only to prove that the accused received public funds or property and that he
could not account for them or did not have them in his possession and could not give a
“5. As to Criminal Case No. 276, considering that the amount subject of malversation is
reasonable excuse for the disappearance of the same.30 In the case at bar, all the elements of
P37,558.30, then the necessary penalty of reclusion perpetua should also be meted out against
malversation of public funds are present, viz: (a) the offender is a public officer, (b) he had
accused.
custody or control of the funds or property by reason of the duties of his office, (c) these funds or
property were public funds or property for which he was accountable, and (d) that he
“Finally, accused is also hereby ordered to pay the government the total sum of P98,549.99,
appropriated, took, misappropriated or consented, or through abandonment or negligence
which is the aggregate government funds actually misappropriated, for restitution in accordance
permitted another person to take them.31 Appellant, as Acting Postmaster of Iligan City has
with Article 104 of the Revised Penal Code.
custody of the funds of his Office. A portion of these funds was used in the payment of postal
SO ORDERED." money orders (PMOs) presented to him. As evidence of these payments, the Postmaster
accomplishes the PMO paid cards and makes a list of the PMOs he paid for a given period. These
Hence this appeal where appellant contends that: lists and paid cards are then sent to the Central Office of the Bureau of Post for safekeeping. An
audit of the PMO transactions of appellant, however, disclosed that some of his PMO payments
I. THE TRIAL COURT ERRED IN DENYING THE ACCUSED-APPELLANT’S MOTION TO SUSPEND THE were not supported by PMO paid cards.
PROCEEDINGS OF THE CASES PENDING FINAL ACTION ON THE CONDITIONAL AMNESTY GRANTED
TO THE APPELLANT; Appellant’s assertion that the audit made by the Office of Iligan City Auditor was inaccurate
remains an unsubstantiated allegation. Although appellant insisted on this alleged inaccuracy
II. THE COURT A QUO ERRED IN CONVICTING THE ACCUSED-APPELLANT OF THE CRIMES OF during the trial, he cannot point to the specific procedure where the auditors erred in examining
MALVERSATION OF PUBLIC FUNDS THRU FALSIFICATION OF OFFICIAL DOCUMENTS; AND his accountabilities.32 Noticeably, appellant did not present any document to show that the
audit of other government agencies covered also the PMO transactions of the post office for the
III. THE TRIAL COURT ERRED IN FAILING TO CONSIDER VOLUNTARY SURRENDER IN FAVOR OF THE
same period covered by the audit of the City Auditor.
ACCUSED-APPELLANT.
Appellant also faults the trial court for considering as an admission of guilt his application for
First. Appellant charges that the trial court erred in denying his motion to suspend the
amnesty under P.D. 1082. Regardless of this consideration, however, the totality of the
proceedings in these cases pursuant to Section 6 of P.D. 1082.25 Hence, the proceedings of the
prosecution evidence has proved the guilt of appellant beyond reasonable doubt. The
trial court are null and void and the judgment of conviction against him should be vacated.
testimonies of the auditors and the documentary evidence adduced clearly proved appellant’s
We do not subscribe to appellant’s contention. On the date scheduled for hearing of his motion, shortage of funds and his corresponding liability therefor as an accountable officer. The
appellant’s counsel failed to appear and substantiate the allegations in his motion. The trial court testimonial and documentary evidence of the prosecution were not successfully rebutted by the
proceeded with the hearing of the motion, found no merit thereto and denied the same. defense.
Appellant’s counsel received a copy of the Order of denial and was notified of the continuation of
the hearing of said cases. Appellant did not challenge the correctness of this ruling by way of a
petition for certiorari and prohibition with the Court of Appeals.26 Instead, he proceeded to
Finally, appellant contends that the trial court failed to consider in his favor the mitigating
circumstance of voluntary surrender. Allegedly, he voluntarily surrendered to the court of justice
and posted bail for his provisional liberty before a warrant for his arrest could be issued.

The rule is clear that for the mitigating circumstance of voluntary surrender to be appreciated, it
must be proven that the accused freely placed himself at the disposal of law enforcing
authorities. The records confirm that appellant was arrested and detained by the INP Station of
Marawi City for the crimes charged upon the issuance of the Order33 for his arrest on February
9, 1978. Appellant was only released from custody34 upon the approval of his bailbond on March
27, 1978. Under the circumstances, appellant cannot be credited with the mitigating
circumstance of voluntary surrender.

IN VIEW WHEREOF, the Decision of the trial court convicting appellant PORFERIO M. PEPITO for
five (5) counts of Malversation of Public Funds Through Falsification of Official Documents is
AFFIRMED. Costs against appellant.

SO ORDERED.

Regalado (Chairman), Romero, Mendoza and Torres, Jr., JJ., concur.

Judgment affirmed.

Notes.—In the absence of any evidence of shortage, nor taking, appropriation, conversion or loss
of public funds, there is no malversation. (Narciso vs. Sandiganbayan, 229 SCRA 229 [1994])

The practice of disbursing public funds under the “vale” system is not a meritorious defense in
malversation cases. Under Art. 216 of the Revised Penal Code, any public officer who, by reason
of the duties of his office, is accountable for public funds, shall permit other persons to take such
public funds shall be guilty of the misappropriation or malversation of such fund. (Meneses vs.
Sandiganbayan, 232 SCRA 441 [1994])

Where the information identifies the questioned funds to be public funds and charges that these
funds have been received and misapplied or misappropriated, it adequately expresses in essence
the elements of the crime of malversation. (Ocampo III vs. Sandiganbayan, 236 SCRA 1 [1994])

The act of encashing a check intended for a particular project and subsequently using the money
for some other purpose constitutes misappropriation. (Nizurtado vs. Sandiganbayan, 239 SCRA
33 [1994])

——o0o—— People vs. Pepito, 267 SCRA 358, G.R. Nos. 112761–65 February 3, 1997
G.R. No. 150129. April 6, 2005.* rea).—The Sandiganbayan’s improper reliance on Sec. 5(b) of Rule 131 does not save the day for
the prosecution’s deficiency in proving the existence of criminal intent nor could it ever tilt the
NORMA A. ABDULLA, petitioner, vs. PEOPLE OF THE PHILIPPINES, respondent. scale from the constitutional presumption of innocence to that of guilt. In the absence of criminal
intent, this Court has no basis to affirm appellant’s conviction. x x x. This calls to mind the oft-
Criminal Law; Presumption of Innocence; Recognizing the primary of the right to be presumed
repeated maxim ‘Actus non facit reum, nisi mens sit rea,’ which expounds a basic principle in
innocent, the Supreme Court, where doubt exists, has invariably resolved it in favor of the
criminal law that a crime is not committed if the mind of the person performing the act
accused.—So precious to her is the constitutional right of presumption of innocence unless
complained of be innocent. Thus, to constitute a crime, the act must, except in certain crimes
proven otherwise that appellant came all the way to this Court despite the fact that the sentence
made such by statute, be accompanied by a criminal intent. It is true that a presumption of
imposed upon her by the Sandiganbayan was merely a fine of three thousand pesos, with no
criminal intent may arise from proof of the commission of a criminal act; and the general rule is
imprisonment at all. And recognizing the primacy of the right, this Court, where doubt exists, has
that if it is proved that the accused committed the criminal act charged, it will be presumed that
invariably resolved it in favor of an accused.
the act was done with criminal intention and that it is for the accused to rebut this presumption.
But it must be borne in mind that the act from which such presumption springs must be a
Same; Same; It has often happened that at the commencement of a trial, people’s minds,
criminal act. In the case at bar, the act is not criminal. Neither can it be categorized as malum
sometimes judges too, would have already passed sentence against the accused—an allegation,
prohibitum, the mere commission of which makes the doer criminally liable even if he acted
or even any testimony, that an act was done should never be hastily accepted as proof that it
without evil intent.
was really done.—The Court’s faithful adherence to the constitutional directive imposes upon it
the imperative of closely scrutinizing the prosecution’s evidence to assure itself that no innocent
Same; Same; Same; Elements.—The second assigned error refers to the failure of the
person is condemned and that conviction flows only from amoral certainty that guilt has been
prosecution to prove the existence of all the essential elements of the crime of technical
established by proof beyond reasonable doubt. In the words of People vs. Pascua: Our findings in
malversation defined in Article 220 of the Revised Penal Code, which are: “1. That the offender is
the case at bar should not create the mistaken impression that the testimonies of the
a public officer; “2. That there is public fund or property under his administration; “3. That such
prosecution witnesses should always be looked at with askance. What we are driving at is that
public fund or property has been appropriated by law or ordinance; “4. That he applies the same
every accused is presumed innocent at the onset of an indictment. But, it has often happened
to a public use other than that for which such fund or property has been appropriated by law or
that at the commencement of a trial, people’s minds, sometimes judges too, would have already
ordinance.”
passed sentence against the accused. An allegation, or even any testimony, that an act was done
should never be hastily accepted as proof that it was really done. Proof must be closely examined Same; Same; Same; In the absence of a law or ordinance appropriating the public fund allegedly
under the lens of a judicial microscope and only proof beyond reasonable doubt must be allowed technically malversed, the use thereof for another public purpose will not make the accused
to convict. Here, that quantum of proof has not been satisfied. guilty of violation of Art. 220 of the Revised Penal Code; An authorization given by the
Department of Budget and Management for the use of an allotment for the payment of salary
Same; Same; Illegal Use of Public Funds (Technical Malversation); Presumptions; The disputable
differentials of secondary school teachers is not an ordinance or law contemplated in Art. 220,
presumption of the existence of unlawful or criminal intent presupposes the commission of an
thus, the use by the accused of the remainder of the amount released for the payment of the
unlawful act—the presumption of criminal intent will not automatically apply to all charges of
terminal leave benefits of other school teachers cannot be held guilty of technical malversation
technical malversation because disbursement of public funds for public use is per se not an
in the absence of any provision in the law specifically appropriating said amount for payment of
unlawful act.—The Court must have to part ways with the Sandiganbayan in its reliance on
salary differentials only.—The Court notes that there is no particular appropriation for salary
Section 5(b) of Rule 131 as basis for its imputation of criminal intent upon appellant. For sure, the
differentials of secondary school teachers of the Sulu State College in RA 6688. The third element
procedural rule relied upon does not apply at all to this case. Indeed, clear it is from its very
of the crime of technical malversation which requires that the public fund used should have been
language that the disputable presumption of the existence of unlawful or criminal intent
appropriated by law, is therefore absent. The authorization given by the Department of Budget
presupposes the commission of an unlawful act. *** *** The presumption of criminal intent will
and Management for the use of the forty thousand pesos (P40,000.00) allotment for payment of
not, however, automatically apply to all charges of technical malversation because disbursement
salary differentials of 34 secondary school teachers is not an ordinance or law contemplated in
of public funds for public use is per se not an unlawful act. Here, appellant cannot be said to have
Article 220 of the Revised Penal Code. The Court has unequivocably ruled in Parungao vs.
committed an unlawful act when she paid the obligation of the Sulu State College to its
Sandiganbayan that in the absence of a law or ordinance appropriating the public fund allegedly
employees in the form of terminal leave benefits such employees were entitled to under existing
technically malversed (in that case, the absence of any law or ordinance appropriating the CRBI
civil service laws.
fund for the concreting of Barangay Jalung Road), the use thereof for another public purpose
(there, for the payment of wages of laborers working on projects other than the Barangay Jalung
Same; Same; Same; Same; To constitute a crime, the act must, except in certain crimes made
Road) will not make the accused guilty of violation of Article 220 of the Revised Penal Code.
such by statute, be accompanied by a criminal intent—a crime is not committed if the mind of
Appellant herein, who used the remainder of the forty thousand pesos (P40,000.00) released by
the person performing the act complained of be innocent (actus non facit reum, nisi mens sit
the DBM for salary differentials, for the payment of the terminal leave benefits of other school “Accused Norma Abdulla is hereby convicted of the crime charged and is hereby meted a fine of
teachers of the Sulu State College, cannot be held guilty of technical malversation in the absence, three thousand pesos, pursuant to the second paragraph of Article 220 of the Revised Penal
as here, of any provision in RA 6688 specifically appropriating said amount for payment of salary Code. She is further imposed the penalty of temporary special disqualification for a period of six
differentials only. In fine, the third and fourth elements of the crime defined in Article 220 of the (6) years. She shall also pay the costs of the suit.
Revised Penal Code are lacking in this case. Acquittal is thus in order.
“SO ORDERED.”
PETITION for review on certiorari of a decision of the Sandiganbayan.
Upon motion for reconsideration, the Sandiganbayan amended appellant’s sentence by deleting
The facts are stated in the opinion of the Court. the temporary special disqualification imposed upon her, thus:

Joselito A. Oliveros for petitioner. “Premises considered, the decision of this Court dated August 25, 2000, is hereby amended to
the effect that the penalty of temporary special disqualification for six (6) years is hereby
GARCIA, J.: cancelled and set aside. Hence, the last paragraph of said decision shall read as follows:

Convicted by the Sandiganbayan1 in its Crim. Case No. 23261 of the crime of illegal use of public Accused Abdulla is hereby convicted of the crime charged and is hereby meted a fine of three
funds defined and penalized under Article 220 of the Revised Penal Code, or more commonly thousand pesos, pursuant to the second paragraph of Article 220 of the Revised Penal Code. She
known as technical malversation, appellant shall also pay the costs of the suit.

Norma A. Abdulla is now before this Court on petition for review under Rule 45. “SO ORDERED.”3

Along with Nenita Aguil and Mahmud Darkis, appellant was charged under an Information which Still dissatisfied, appellant, now before this Court, persistently pleas innocence of the crime
pertinently reads: charged.

“That on or about November, 1989 or sometime prior or subsequent thereto, in Jolo, Sulu, The record shows that the prosecution dispensed with the presentation of testimonial evidence
Philippines and within the jurisdiction of this Honorable Court, the above-named accused: and instead opted to mark in evidence the following exhibits:
NORMA A. ABDULLA and NENITA P. AGUIL, both public officers, being then the President and
cashier, respectively, of the Sulu State College, and as such by reason of their positions and EXHIBITS
duties are accountable for public funds under their administration, while in the performance of
their functions, conspiring and confederating with MAH-MUD I. DARKIS, also a public officer, DESCRIPTION
being then the Administrative Officer V of the said school, did then and there willfully, unlawfully
“A” Audit Report which is denominated as Memorandum of Commission on Audit, Region IX,
and feloniously, without lawful authority, apply for the payment of wages of casuals, the amount
Zamboanga City, from the Office of the Special Audit Team, COA, dated May 8, 1992, consisting
of FORTY THOUSAND PESOS (P40,000.00), Philippine Currency, which amount was appropriated
of nine (9) pages;
for the payment of the salary differentials of secondary school teachers of the said school, to the
damage and prejudice of public service.
“B” Certified Xerox copy of a letter from the Department of Budget and Management through
Secretary Guillermo N. Carague to the President of the Sulu State College dated October 30,
“CONTRARY TO LAW.”
1989;
Appellant’s co-accused, Nenita Aguil and Mahmud Darkis, were both acquitted. Only appellant
“C” Certified copy of the DBM Advice of Allotment for the Year 1989;
was found guilty and sentenced by the Sandiganbayan in its decision2 dated August 25, 2000
(promulgated on September 27, 2000), as follows:
“C-1” The entry appearing in Exhibit “C” which reads: “Purpose—release partial funding for the
conversion of 34 Secondary School Teacher positions to Instructor I items; Fund Source—lump-
“WHEREFORE, premises considered, accused Mahmud Darkis and Nenita P. Aguil are hereby
sum appropriation authorized on page 370 of RA 6688 and the current savings under personal
acquitted of the crime charged. The cash bond posted by each of the said accused for their
services;”
provisional liberty are hereby ordered returned to each of them subject to the usual auditing and
accounting procedures.
“D” Manifestation filed by accused Norma Abdulla herself dated November 24, 1997 consisting
of two (2) pages appearing on pages 225 to 226 of the record;
“E” Motion filed by the accused through Atty. Sandra Gopez dated February 9, 1998 found on In this recourse, appellant questions the judgment of conviction rendered against her, claiming
pages 382-a and 382-b of the records of this case; and that the Sandigan-bayan erred:

“F” Prosecution’s Opposition to the motion marked as Exhibit “E” dated February 11, 1998, “I. X X X ON A QUESTION OF LAW IN INVOKING THE PRESUMPTION OF UNLAWFUL INTENT
consisting of three (3) pages, appearing in pages 383 to 385 of the record.4 DESPITE EVIDENCE TO THE CONTRARY.

Thereafter, the prosecution immediately made its Formal Offer of Evidence, and, with the II. X X X ON A QUESTION OF LAW IN HOLDING THAT THE PROSECUTION WAS ABLE TO PROVE
admission thereof by the court, rested its case. THAT PETITIONER COMMITTED TECHNICAL MALVERSATION UNDER ARTICLE 220 OF THE REVISED
PENAL CODE.”
The defense proceeded to adduce its evidence by presenting four (4) witnesses, namely, accused
Mahmud Darkis, who was the Administrative Officer of Sulu State College, Jolo, Sulu; accused The Court grants the appeal.
Nenita Aguil, the Cashier of the same College; appellant Norma Abdulla herself, who was the
College President; and Gerardo Concepcion, Jr., Director IV and Head of the Department of So precious to her is the constitutional right of presumption of innocence unless proven
Budget and Management, Regional Office No. 9, Zamboanga City. otherwise that appellant came all the way to this Court despite the fact that the sentence
imposed upon her by the Sandiganbayan was merely a fine of three thousand pesos, with no
The undisputed facts, as found by the Sandiganbayan itself: imprisonment at all. And recognizing the primacy of the right, this Court, where doubt exists, has
invariably resolved it in favor of an accused.
The evidence on record x x x show that the request for the conversion of thirty-four (34)
secondary school teachers to Instructor I items of the Sulu State College, through its former In a judgment of acquittal in favor of two (2) accused charged of murder in People vs. Abujan,5
president, accused Abdulla, was approved by the Department of Budget and Management the Court wrote:
(DBM); that consequent to the approval of the said request, was the allotment by the DBM of the
partial funding for the purpose of paying the salary differentials of the said thirty-four (34) We are enraged by the shocking death suffered by the victim and we commiserate with her
secondary school teachers in the amount of forty thousand pesos (P40,000.00) sourced from the family. But with seeds of doubt planted in our minds by unexplained circumstances in this case,
“lump sum appropriation authorized on page 370 of R.A. 6688 [should be page 396 of RA 6688 we are unable to accept the lower court’s conclusion to convict appellants. We cannot in
(General Appropriations Act January 1–December 31, 1989)] and the current savings under conscience accept the prosecution’s evidence here as sufficient proof required to convict
personal services of said school (Exhibits ‘B,’ ‘C’ and ‘C-1;’ Exhibit ‘18,’ pp. 32-35; tsn, hearing of appellants of murder. Hence, here we must reckon with a dictum of the law, in dubilis reus est
September 22, 1998, pp. 6 to 25 and 26); that out of the thirty-four (34) secondary school absolvendus. All doubts must be resolved in favor of the accused. Nowhere is this rule more
teachers, only the six (6) teachers were entitled and paid salary differentials amounting to compelling than in a case involving the death penalty for a truly humanitarian Court would rather
P8,370.00, as the twenty-eight (28) teachers, who were occupying Teacher III positions, were no set ten guilty men free than send one innocent man to the death row. Perforce, we must declare
longer entitled to salary differentials as they were already receiving the same salary rate as both appellants not guilty and set them free.
Instructor I (Exhibit ‘A,’ p. 4, par. 1; Exhibits ‘1’ to ‘6,’ inclusive; Exhibit ‘14-A;’ tsn, hearing of
Similarly, the Court had to acquit an accused charged of rape in People vs. De Jesus6 on ground
September 22, 1998, pp. 6 to 8; tsn, hearing of September 23, 1998, pp. 10-11); and that the
of reasonable doubt, to wit:
amount of P31,516.16, taken from the remaining balance of the P40,000.00 allotment, was used
to pay the terminal leave benefits of the six (6) casuals (Exhibits ‘D’ and ‘E;’ Exhibits ‘7’ to ‘12,’
“With seeds of doubt planted in our minds by the conduct of proceedings on record, we are
inclusive; tsn, hearing of September 22, 1998, pp. 13 and 34; tsn, hearing of September 23, 1998,
unable to accept the lower court’s conclusion to convict appellant. His conviction is founded on
p. 13).
the sole testimony of Agnes, but though a credible witness despite her mental retardation, she
showed unnecessary dependence on her mother when identifying the father of her child.
Accused Abdulla was able to sufficiently justify the payment of the salary differentials of only six
Maternal coaching taints her testimony. That her mother had to be ordered by the judge to go
(6), out of the thirty-four (34) teachers, when she testified that out of the thirty-four (34)
outside the courtroom impresses us as significant. We are unable to accept as sufficient the
teachers, twenty-eight (28) were already holding the position of Secondary School Teacher III
quantum of proof required to convict appellant of rape based on the alleged victim’s sole
receiving the salary of Instructor I; and that the remaining six (6) were still holding Secondary
testimony. Hence, here we must fall back on a truism of the law, in dubilis reus est absolvendus.
Teacher II positions and therefore receiving a salary lower than that of Instructor I so they were
All doubts must be resolved in favor of the accused.
paid salary differentials (tsn, hearing of September 23, 1998, pp. 8, 10 and 11). In fact, the
notarized audit investigation report (Exhibit ‘A,’ p. 4, 1st par.) and the Joint Resolution of the
WHEREFORE, the assailed decision dated May 26, 2000, of the Regional Trial Court of Camiling,
Office of the Ombudsman, Mindanao (Exhibit ‘14-a’), also point that said act of the accused is
Tarlac, Branch 68, is REVERSED and SET ASIDE. Appellant RUBEN LUMIBAO is ACQUITTED of the
justified.
charge of rape on reasonable doubt.”
The Court’s faithful adherence to the constitutional directive imposes upon it the imperative of The Court must have to part ways with the Sandiganbayan in its reliance on Section 5(b) of Rule
closely scrutinizing the prosecution’s evidence to assure itself that no innocent person is 131 as basis for its imputation of criminal intent upon appellant.
condemned and that conviction flows only from a moral certainty that guilt has been established
by proof beyond reasonable doubt. In the words of People vs. Pascua:7 For sure, the procedural rule relied upon does not apply at all to this case. Indeed, clear it is from
its very language that the disputable presumption of the existence of unlawful or criminal intent
Our findings in the case at bar should not create the mistaken impression that the testimonies of presupposes the commission of an unlawful act. Thus, intent to kill is presumed when the victim
the prosecution witnesses should always be looked at with askance. What we are driving at is dies because the act of killing clearly constitutes an unlawful act. In People vs. Gemoya,9 the
that every accused is presumed innocent at the onset of an indictment. But, it has often Court held:
happened that at the commencement of a trial, people’s minds, sometimes judges too, would
have already passed sentence against the accused. An allegation, or even any testimony, that an The intent to kill is likewise presumed from the fact of death, unless the accused proves by
act was done should never be hastily accepted as proof that it was really done. Proof must be convincing evidence that any of the justifying circumstances in Article 11 or any of the exempting
closely examined under the lens of a judicial microscope and only proof beyond reasonable circumstances in Article 12, both of the Revised Penal Code, is present.
doubt must be allowed to convict. Here, that quantum of proof has not been satisfied.
In fact, in a Resolution penned by Justice Romeo Callejo, Sr. in People vs. Delim,10 the Court en
We shall now assay appellant’s guilt or innocence in the light of the foregoing crucibles. banc categorically stated:

In her first assigned error, appellant contends that the prosecution failed to adduce evidence to If the victim dies because of a deliberate act of the malefactor, intent to kill is conclusively
prove criminal intent on her part. When she raised this issue in her Motion for Reconsideration presumed. (Emphasis supplied).
before the Sandiganbayan, that court, invoking Section 5(b), Rule 131 of the Rules of Court, ruled
Similarly, intent to gain or animus lucrandi is presumed when one is found in possession of stolen
in a Resolution8 promulgated on September 17, 2001, as follows:
goods precisely because the taking of another’s property is an unlawful act. So it is that in People
Anent the allegation of the movant/accused that good faith is a valid defense in a prosecution for vs. Reyes,11 the Court held:
malversation as it would negate criminal intent on the part of the accused which the prosecution
Accused-appellant’s contention that the animus lucrandi was not sufficiently established by the
failed to prove, attention is invited to pertinent law and rulings of the Supreme Court on the
prosecution is devoid of merit. Animus lucrandi or intent to gain is an internal act which can be
matter.
established through the overt acts of the offender. Although proof of motive for the crime is
Sec. 5(b) of the Rule 131, Rules of Court, provides, ‘That an unlawful act was done with an essential when the evidence of the robbery is circumstantial, intent to gain or animus lucrandi
unlawful intent.’ Hence, dolo may be inferred from the unlawful act. In several cases (Tria, 17 may be presumed from the furtive taking of useful property pertaining to another, unless special
Phil. 303; Ballesteros, 25 Phil. 634; Sia Tioan, 54 Phil. 52; Cueto, 38 Phil. 935; Cubelo, 106 Phil. circumstances reveal a different intent on the part of the perpetrator. The intent to gain may be
496), the Supreme Court ruled that ‘When it has been proven that the appellants committed the presumed from the proven unlawful taking. In the case at bar, the act of taking the victim’s
unlawful acts alleged, it is properly presumed that they were committed with full knowledge and wristwatch by one of the accused Cergontes while accused-appellant Reyes poked a knife behind
with criminal intent, ‘and it is incumbent upon them to rebut such presumption.’ Further, the him sufficiently gave rise to the presumption.
same court also ruled that when the law plainly forbids an act to be done, and it is done by a
The presumption of criminal intent will not, however, automatically apply to all charges of
person, the law implies the guilty intent, although the offender was honestly mistaken as to the
technical malversation because disbursement of public funds for public use is per se not an
meaning of the law which he had violated (State vs. McBrayer, 98 NIC 619; Sing Cong Bieng and
unlawful act. Here, appellant cannot be said to have committed an unlawful act when she paid
Co Kong, 30 Phil. 577, 580; Hermenigildo Bautista, CA 40 O.G. 5th Supp. 139). If the act is
the obligation of the Sulu State College to its employees in the form of terminal leave benefits
criminal, then criminal intent is presumed (Francisco y Martin, CA 53 O.G. 1450).
such employees were entitled to under existing civil service laws. Thus, in a similar case,12 the
In the case at bar, inasmuch as the prosecution had proved that a criminal act was committed by Court reversed a conviction for technical malversation of one who paid out the wages of
the accused under Article 220 of the Revised Penal Code, criminal intent was presumed. The laborers:
accused did not present any evidence to prove that no such criminal intent was present when
There is no dispute that the money was spent for a public purpose—payment of the wages of
she committed the unlawful act of technical malversation. Hence, the presumption that the
laborers working on various projects in the municipality. It is pertinent to note the high priority
unlawful act of the accused was done with criminal intent had been satisfactorily proven by the
which laborers’ wages enjoy as claims against the employers’ funds and resources.
prosecution (Sec. 5[b], Rule 131).
In the absence of any presumption of unlawful intent, the burden of proving by competent “3. That such public fund or property has been appropriated by law or ordinance;
evidence that appellant’s act of paying the terminal leave benefits of employees of the Sulu State
College was done with criminal intent rests upon the prosecution. “4. That he applies the same to a public use other than that for which such fund or property has
been appropriated by law or ordinance.”15
The Court notes the odd procedure which the prosecution took in discharging its undertaking to
prove the guilt of appellant beyond reasonable doubt. As it is, the prosecution did not present Appellant contends that the prosecution was unable to prove the second and third elements of
any single witness at all, not even for the purpose of identifying and proving the authenticity of the crime charged.16 She argued that the public funds in question, having been established to
the documentary evidence on which it rested its case. The prosecution definitely failed to prove form part of savings, had therefore ceased to be appropriated by law or ordinance for any
unlawful intent on the part of appellant. specific purpose.

Settled is the rule that conviction should rest on the strength of evidence of the prosecution and The Court finds merit in appellant’s submission.
not on the weakness of the defense. The weakness of the defense does not relieve it of this
As found by the Sandiganbayan no less, the amount of forty thousand pesos (P40,000.00)
responsibility. And when the prosecution fails to discharge its burden of establishing the guilt of
originally intended to cover the salary differentials of thirty four (34) secondary school teachers
an accused, an accused need not even offer evidence in his behalf. A judgment of conviction
whose employment status were converted to Instructor I, were sourced from the “lump sum
must rest on nothing less than moral certainty. It is thus required that every circumstance
appropriation” authorized on page 370 (should be page 396) of R.A. 6688 and the current savings
favoring his innocence must be duly taken into account. The proof against him must survive the
under personal services of said school.17
test of reason and the strongest suspicion must not be permitted to sway judgment. There must
be moral certainty in an unprejudiced mind that it was accused-appellant who committed the
The pertinent portions of RA 6688 are reproduced here-under:
crime. Absent this required quantum of evidence would mean exoneration for accused-
appellant.13 “K.2 Sulu State College

The Sandiganbayan’s improper reliance on Sec. 5(b) of Rule 131 does not save the day for the For general administration, administration of personnel benefits, salary standardization, higher
prosecution’s deficiency in proving the existence of criminal intent nor could it ever tilt the scale education and secondary education services, including locally-funded project as indicated
from the constitutional presumption of innocence to that of guilt. In the absence of criminal hereunder ........ P17,994,000
intent, this Court has no basis to affirm appellant’s conviction.
New Appropriations, by Function/Project
x x x. This calls to mind the oft-repeated maxim ‘Actus non facit reum, nisi mens sit rea,’ which
expounds a basic principle in criminal law that a crime is not committed if the mind of the person Current Operating Expenditures
performing the act complained of be innocent. Thus, to constitute a crime, the act must, except
in certain crimes made such by statute, be accompanied by a criminal intent. It is true that a -----------------------------------
Personal Services
presumption of criminal intent may arise from proof of the commission of a criminal act; and the
Maintenance
general rule is that if it is proved that the accused committed the criminal act charged, it will be
and Other
presumed that the act was done with criminal intention and that it is for the accused to rebut Operating Expenses
this presumption. But it must be borne in mind that the act from which such presumption springs Capital Outlays
must be a criminal act. In the case at bar, the act is not criminal. Neither can it be categorized as Total
malum prohibitum, the mere commission of which makes the doer criminally liable even if he 2,509,000
acted without evil intent.14 9,382,000
B. Locally-Funded Project
The second assigned error refers to the failure of the prosecution to prove the existence of all 1. Acquisition and Improvements of Lands, Construction, Rehabilitation or Renovation of
Buildings and Structures, and Acquisition of Equipment
the essential elements of the crime of technical malversation defined in Article 220 of the
8,612,000
Revised Penal Code, which are: 8,612,000
Total New Appropriations, Sulu State College
“1. That the offender is a public officer; P6,873,000
P2,509,000
“2. That there is public fund or property under his administration; P8,612,000
P17,994.000
New Appropriations, by Object of Expenditures (In Thousand Pesos) differentials only. In fine, the third and fourth elements of the crime defined in Article 220 of the
A. Functions/Locally-Funded Project Current Operating Expenditures Revised Penal Code are lacking in this case. Acquittal is thus in order.
Personal Services
Total Salaries of Permanent Personnel WHEREFORE, the petition is hereby GRANTED. Accordingly, the appealed decision and resolution
4,148 of the Sandiganbayan in Criminal Case No. 23261 are REVERSED and SET ASIDE and appellant
Total Salaries and Wages of Contractual and Emergency Personnel
ACQUITTED of the crime charged against her. The cash bond posted by appellant for her
146
Total Salaries and Wages provisional liberty, if any, is ordered returned to her subject to the usual auditing and accounting
4,294 procedures.
Other Compensation
Honoraria and Commutable Allowances SO ORDERED.
185
Cost of Living Allowances Panganiban (Chairman), Sandoval-Gutierrez, Corona and Carpio-Morales, JJ., concur.
1,292
Employees Compensation Insurance Premiums Medicare Premiums Petition granted, appealed decision and resolution of the Sandiganbayan reversed and set aside.
18 Appellant acquitted.
Merit Increases
20 Notes.—Technical malversation is not included in, nor does it necessarily include, the crime of
Salary Standardization malversation. (Parungao vs. Sandiganbayan, 197 SCRA 173 [1991])
37
Bonuses and Incentives
The act of encashing a check intended for a particular project and subsequently using the money
511
for some other purpose constitutes misappropriation. (Nizurtado vs. Sandiganbayan, 239 SCRA
Others
437 33 [1994]) Abdulla vs. People, 455 SCRA 78, G.R. No. 150129 April 6, 2005
Total Other Compensation
2,579
O1 Total Personal Services
6,873

The Court notes that there is no particular appropriation for salary differentials of secondary
school teachers of the Sulu State College in RA 6688. The third element of the crime of technical
malversation which requires that the public fund used should have been appropriated by law, is
therefore absent. The authorization given by the Department of Budget and Management for the
use of the forty thousand pesos (P40,000.00) allotment for payment of salary differentials of 34
secondary school teachers is not an ordinance or law contemplated in Article 220 of the Revised
Penal Code.

The Court has unequivocably ruled in Parungao vs. Sandiganbayan18 that in the absence of a law
or ordinance appropriating the public fund allegedly technically malversed (in that case, the
absence of any law or ordinance appropriating the CRBI fund for the concreting of Barangay
Jalung Road), the use thereof for another public purpose (there, for the payment of wages of
laborers working on projects other than the Barangay Jalung Road) will not make the accused
guilty of violation of Article 220 of the Revised Penal Code.

Appellant herein, who used the remainder of the forty thousand pesos (P40,000.00) released by
the DBM for salary differentials, for the payment of the terminal leave benefits of other school
teachers of the Sulu State College, cannot be held guilty of technical malversation in the absence,
as here, of any provision in RA 6688 specifically appropriating said amount for payment of salary
G.R. No. 147333. August 12, 2004.* Dugayon as Chairman, Supply Officer Rogelio Hipolito and Carlito Catabay as authorized
canvasser.
ROSALIA** M. DUGAYON, petitioner, vs. PEOPLE OF THE PHILIPPINES, respondent.
The Board prepared the Requisition for Equipment and Supplies (RES) for the 19 typewriters
Criminal Law; Anti-Graft and Corrupt Practices Act; Evidence; Conspiracy; The proof of indicating their specifications. The RES was submitted to Regional Director Consolacion Arafiles
conspiracy, which is essentially hatched under cover and out of view of others than those directly for signature and approval. Upon approval of the RES, petitioner Dugayon released letters of
concerned, is perhaps most frequently made by evidence of a chain of circumstances only.— canvass (similar to an invitation to bid) addressed to dealers in Tuguegarao and Manila. From
Direct proof is not essential to show conspiracy. It need not be shown that the parties actually four proposals, San Sebastian Marketing, represented by Jessie Callangan, won the bid. When
came together and agreed in express terms to enter into and pursue a common design. The State Auditor Judy Singson, resident auditor of DSWD, Region 2, Tuguegarao, Cagayan, learned
existence of the assent of minds which is involved in a conspiracy may be, and from the secrecy about the opening of the bids, she sent a letter dated July 21, 1989 to Regional Director
of the crime, usually must be, inferred by the court from proof of facts and circumstances which, Consolacion Arafiles about the deficiencies in the bidding. In her letter, Auditor Singson observed
taken together, apparently indicate that they are merely parts of some complete whole. If it is that the Auditor’s Office was not informed of the opening of the bids, in violation of Section 3915
proved that two or more persons aimed by their acts towards the accomplishment of the same of the Government Accounting and Auditing Manual; that the Auditor was not furnished with
unlawful object, each doing a part so that their acts, though apparently independent, were in copies of bid invitations at least two weeks ahead of the opening date; that bidder’s bonds were
fact connected and cooperative, indicating a closeness of personal association and a concurrence not imposed; and that the bidders were not required to submit or present their
of sentiments, then a conspiracy may be inferred though no actual meeting among them to License/Accreditation before the opening of the bid proposals. She recommended that the
concert means is proved. Thus, the proof of conspiracy, which is essentially hatched under cover bidding be cancelled and another one be conducted.
and out of view of others than those directly concerned, is perhaps most frequently made by
evidence of a chain of circumstances only. In a letter dated July 25, 1989, Director Arafiles responded that the opening of the bids was done
in good faith.
Same; Same; Elements; The essential elements of this crime are the following.—The essential
elements of this crime are: (1) the accused are public officers or private persons charged in Auditor Singson6 sent another letter dated July 28, 1989 advising Director Arafiles to require the
conspiracy with them; (2) said public officers commit the prohibited acts during the performance winning bidder to post a performance bond instead, to ensure the delivery of the equipment
of their official duties or in relation to their public position; (3) they caused undue injury to any since it was already late to impose a bidder’s bond.
party, whether the government or a private party; (4) such injury is caused by giving
unwarranted benefits, advantage or preference to such parties; and (5) the public officers have Thereafter, the Procurement Board prepared the Purchase Order specifying the brands and
acted with manifest partiality, evident bad faith or gross inexcusable negligence. specifications of the 19 typewriters to be delivered and addressed to San Sebastian Marketing
c/o Jessie Callangan.
PETITION for review on certiorari of a decision of the Sandiganbayan.
San Sebastian made three partial deliveries on August 14, 16 and 21, 1989. Upon delivery, the
The facts are stated in the opinion of the Court. Inspection and Acceptance Committee headed by Supply Officer Rogelio Hipolito, inspected and
tested the typewriters and certified in the Reports of Inspection that the deliveries were in
Balon Law Office for petitioner. accordance with the specifications in the Purchase Order.

The Solicitor General for the People. Subsequently, Supply Officer Hipolito prepared the voucher for payment attaching therein the
supporting documents including the Reports of Inspection dated August 14, 16 and 21, 1989. San
QUISUMBING, J.:
Sebastian Marketing was paid with three checks in the amounts of P92,880, P88,560 and
P58,050, as evidenced by three official receipts, all dated August 24, 1989.
Petitioner Rosalia Dugayon seeks the review of the Decision1 dated November 24, 2000 of the
Sandiganbayan in Criminal Case No. 20344, convicting her and her co-accused, Jessie2 Callangan,
Upon post-audit, acting on the Inspection Report dated November 15, 1989 by Agapito Malaki,
of violating Section 3(e) of Republic Act No. 3019, the Anti-Graft and Corrupt Practices Act.
Technical Audit Specialist of the COA, Regional Office No. 2, Tuguegarao, Cagayan, the
Commission on Audit (COA) disallowed the vouchers/checks. The Inspection Report stated,
The following facts, as summarized by the Sandiganbayan, are undisputed:3
among others, that all the 19 typewriters were not brand new, but merely rebuilt and
Sometime in July 1989, the Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD), Region 2, reconditioned.
Tuguegarao, Cagayan, embarked on a P239,4604 project involving the procurement of 19
typewriters. A Procurement Board was formed, composed of Assistant Regional Director Rosalia
In notices dated November 29, 1989, the COA informed petitioner Dugayon, Director Arafiles, “SO ORDERED.”10
Supply Officer Hipolito and San Sebastian Marketing of the report.
The Sandiganbayan denied the respective motions for reconsideration of the petitioner and
The petitioner, Arafiles, Hipolito and Callangan were indicted for violation of Section 3(e) of the Callangan in its Resolution11 dated February 26, 2001. Callangan’s petition for review on
Anti-Graft and Corrupt Practices Act before the Sandiganbayan. Quoted below is the Amended certiorari was denied by the Supreme Court in a resolution dated August 8, 2001 for his failure to
Information dated June 17, 1994: file the same within the reglementary period.

“That for the period July 25 to August 24, 1989 or immediately prior and subsequent thereto, in Here, before us, petitioner Dugayon assigns to the Sandiganbayan the following errors:
Tuguegarao, Cagayan and within the jurisdiction of this Honorable Court, the accused,
CONSOLACION ARAFILES, ROSALIA DUGAYON, ROGELIO D. HIPOLITO and JESSEE CALLANGAN, (1) THE HONORABLE SANDIGANBAYAN (FIFTH DIVISION) GRAVELY ERRED IN HOLDING AND
Regional Director, Asst. Regional Director, Supply Officer III, all of DECS8 and Supplier, DECLARING ON THE EXISTENCE OF A CONSPIRACY AMONG PETITIONER-APPELLANT ROSALIA M.
respectively, the said public officers in the discharge of their duties as such, conspiring and DUGAYON, ACCUSED (AT-LARGE) ROGELIO D. HIPOLITO, AND JESSEE CALLANGAN.
confederating with one another and with JESSEE CALLANGAN as supplier, did then and there
(2) THE HONORABLE SANDIGANBAYAN (FIFTH DIVISION) IN CONVICTING PETITIONER-APPELLANT
wilfully, unlawfully, with evident bad faith, purchase, pay and accept nineteen (19) second-hand
ROSALIA M. DUGAYON, FOR THE OFFENSE CHARGED FAILED TO APPRECIATE THE FACT THAT THE
rebuilt and reconditioned typewriters from Jessee Callangan of San Sebastian Marketing,
EVIDENCE ADDUCED BY THE PROSECUTION ARE NOT SUFFICIENT AND ADEQUATE TO ESTABLISH
contrary to the intention to purchase brand new units of typewriters only, for a total cost of
HER GUILT BEYOND REASONABLE DOUBT.12
P239,490.00, when in truth and in fact, the total and actual cost of the said nineteen (19) units of
second-hand, rebuilt and reconditioned typewriters at the time of purchase was only
In our view, the following issues must be resolved: (1) Was there a conspiracy to defraud the
P141,800.00 or a difference of P97,690.00 to the damage and prejudice of the government.
government? and (2) Is the evidence sufficient to prove the crime beyond reasonable doubt?
“CONTRARY TO LAW.”9
On the first issue, petitioner avers that conspiracy is not presumed and that the elements of
conspiracy, like the physical acts constituting the crime itself, must be proven beyond reasonable
On July 6, 1994, the Sandiganbayan ordered the immediate arrest of the accused. Except for
doubt. She notes that the Sandiganbayan could only point to her having signed the certification
Hipolito, who remains at-large, all of the accused were arrested and later released on bail.
portion of the disbursement vouchers that states,
After the trial, the Sandiganbayan rendered its assailed Decision on November 24, 2000,
3. CERTIFIED: Expenses necessary, lawful and incurred under my direct supervision. Additional in
convicting petitioner and Callangan, acquitting Arafiles and ordering the archiving of the case
case of contracts, or purchases of goods or services prices reasonable and not in excess of the
against Hipolito. The decretal portion of said decision reads:
current rates in the locality.
“WHEREFORE, under the premises, this Court finds accused ROSALIA M. DUGAYON and JESSEE G.
(Sgd.) ROSALIA M. DUGAYON
CALLANGAN “GUILTY” beyond reasonable doubt of Violation of Section 3, paragraph (e) of R.A.
No. 3019, as amended, and are hereby sentenced to suffer each an indeterminate prison term of
ARD FOR Admin.13
Six (6) years and One (1) day, as minimum, to Nine (9) years and One (1) day, as maximum; to
indemnify the government jointly and severally, in the amount of Ninety-Seven Thousand Six While she admits being the Chairman of the Procurement Board, she denies being a member of
Hundred and Ninety Pesos (P97,690.00), with costs; and accused Dugayon to further suffer the Inspection and Acceptance Committee. She argues that, as Assistant Regional Director of the
perpetual disqualification from public office. DSWD, she relies entirely on the recommendations of her subordinates, on the recommendation
of the accountant with respect to the Purchase Order, and on the signatures and
“On the other hand, in view of the above findings, accused CONSOLACION D. ARAFILES, is hereby
recommendations of four subordinates who process the documents with respect to the
ACQUITTED of the charge. Accordingly, the Clerk of Court of the Fifth Division of this Court is
disbursement vouchers. She likewise denies she conspired with her co-accused. Petitioner
ordered to release Original Receipt No. 4193001 dated July 18, 1994, in the amount of
submits that the elements of conspiracy were not established beyond reasonable doubt and she
P15,000.00 covering her cash bond, upon proper receipt therefor, subject to the usual auditing
should be acquitted.14
and accounting procedures.
On the issue of conspiracy, petitioner relies on Magsuci v. Sandiganbayan,15 which cited Arias v.
“As far as accused ROGELIO D. HIPOLITO is concerned, who is still at-large up to this time, the
Sandiganbayan,16 as precedent to prove the high improbability of her conspiring with her co-
case against him is hereby ordered archived until the Court shall have obtained jurisdiction over
accused. She quotes,
his person. Correspondingly, let an alias warrant of arrest be issued against him.
“[the Court] would be setting a bad precedent if a head of office plagued by all too common It is not correct for the petitioner to say that the Sandiganbayan could only point to her having
problems—dishonest or negligent subordinates, overwork, multiple assignments or positions, or signed and certified the disbursement vouchers for her involvement in the conspiracy. Other
plain incompetence—is suddenly swept into a conspiracy conviction simply because he did not circumstances point to a finding of conspiracy. Among them, she was the Chairman of the
personally examine every single detail, painstakingly trace every step from inception, and Procurement Board and member/signatory of the Inspection and Acceptance Committee.
investigate the motives of every person involved in a transaction before affixing his signature as Moreover, despite patent and glaring defects in the typewriters which could be determined by a
the final approving authority. (Italics ours.) reasonable inspection of the units, petitioner signed the Reports of Inspection that mentioned
only that the delivered typewriters met the quantity ordered. The report was silent on the
All heads of offices have to rely to a reasonable extent on their subordinates and on the good quality of the typewriters. Yet, she hastily signed it, conveniently overlooking the deficiencies in
faith of those who prepare bids, purchase supplies, or enter into negotiations.” the transaction.

When, however, that infraction consists in the reliance in good faith, albeit misplaced, by a head Petitioner cannot seek refuge in the cases of Magsuci and Arias when she relied on the
of office on a subordinate upon whom the primary responsibility rests, absent a clear case of recommendations of her subordinates. Petitioner is an Assistant Regional Director, not the head
conspiracy, the Arias doctrine must be held to prevail. of office or the final approving authority on whom the Arias doctrine is applicable. That is the
reason why the Sandiganbayan acquitted Regional Director Arafiles, who was the head of office.
Respondent, on the other hand, insists that petitioner was evidently part of the conspiracy
considering that she certified the disbursement vouchers when she very well knew that the Moreover, petitioner’s denial of her membership in the Inspection and Acceptance Committee is
typewriters were not brand new. Respondent offers as basis People v. Geronimo17 which cited belied by the records of this case. The records show she signed the Reports of Inspection as a
People v. Carbonel,18 and quotes, when the defendants by their acts aimed at the same object, member/signatory of the Acceptance Committee. In her testimony, she also admitted inspecting
one performing one part and another performing another part so as to complete it, with a view the three deliveries20 and supervising three subordinates.21
to the attainment of the same object, and their acts, though apparently independent were in fact
concerted and cooperative, indicating closeness of personal association, concerted action and On the sufficiency of the evidence to prove petitioner was guilty beyond reasonable doubt of
concurrence of sentiments, the court will be justified in concluding that said defendants were graft and corruption, Section 3(e) of Rep. Act No. 3019 (Anti-Graft and Corrupt Practices Act) is
engaged in a conspiracy. . . . pertinent. It provides,

Respondent notes that the Sandiganbayan pointed out that petitioner certified the disbursement SEC. 3. Corrupt practices of public officers.—In addition to acts or omissions of public officers
vouchers; she chaired the Procurement Board, and she signed the report of the Inspection and already penalized by existing law, the following shall constitute corrupt practices of any public
Acceptance Committee. On the whole, she had an extensive and active participation in this officer and are hereby declared to be unlawful:
transaction for which she cannot disclaim responsibility and liability. She could not have been
unaware that the 19 typewriters were secondhand, rebuilt and reconditioned. (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
In the recent case of Alvizo v. Sandiganbayan,19 we said, 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
Direct proof is not essential to show conspiracy. It need not be shown that the parties actually corporations charged with the grant of licenses or permits or other concessions.
came together and agreed in express terms to enter into and pursue a common design. The
existence of the assent of minds which is involved in a conspiracy may be, and from the secrecy The essential elements of this crime are: (1) the accused are public officers or private persons
of the crime, usually must be, inferred by the court from proof of facts and circumstances which, charged in conspiracy with them; (2) said public officers commit the prohibited acts during the
taken together, apparently indicate that they are merely parts of some complete whole. If it is performance of their official duties or in relation to their public position; (3) they caused undue
proved that two or more persons aimed by their acts towards the accomplishment of the same injury to any party, whether the government or a private party; (4) such injury is caused by giving
unlawful object, each doing a part so that their acts, though apparently independent, were in unwarranted benefits, advantage or preference to such parties; and (5) the public officers have
fact connected and cooperative, indicating a closeness of personal association and a concurrence acted with manifest partiality, evident bad faith or gross inexcusable negligence.22
of sentiments, then a conspiracy may be inferred though no actual meeting among them to
concert means is proved. Thus, the proof of conspiracy, which is essentially hatched under cover Recall that at the time of purchase of the typewriters, the petitioner was then the Assistant
and out of view of others than those directly concerned, is perhaps most frequently made by Regional Director of DSWD Region 2, Tuguegarao, Cagayan. She was Chairman of the
evidence of a chain of circumstances only. Procurement Board and member/signatory of the Inspection and Acceptance Committee. She
accepted the secondhand typewriters, contrary to the requirement to buy brand new units, and
allowed payment for them at the price of brand new units. She admitted that the specification
for the typewriters should be brand new.23 The Sandiganbayan found the typewriters that were the proper safeguard of the interests of the government; and (b) obtain an authenticated copy of
paid for were secondhand, rebuilt and reconditioned. These findings of fact are binding on us.24 the abstract of bids and quotations (COA Cir. 78-87, Sept. 6, 1978).
We find no reason to reject these findings as these were based on the Inspection Report of the
COA. Employees of the Commission on Audit shall not participate in any of the following functions:

Without hesitation we find that this transaction defrauded and caused injury to the government. a. Canvassing the market for quotations
The Sandiganbayan reported that based on the Prices Comparison of Agency Purchase Price
b. Issuing invitations to bid
Against Re-canvassed Prices on Re-conditioned Items, the government paid P239,490 for the
deliveries or P97,690 more than the actual cost of P141,800 of the rebuilt/reconditioned
c. Examining bids before making the award
typewriters, giving unwarranted benefits to San Sebastian Marketing and Jessie Callangan. The
amount of P97,690 represents the actual damage suffered by the government in this anomalous d. Awarding the contract
transaction.
e. Any functions relating to the securing of bids or awarding of contracts, except only as provided
In our view, petitioner not only failed in her duty as Chairman of the Procurement Board and in Sections 46 and 47 of Book V, Title I-B, of the 1987 Administrative Code.
member/signatory of the Inspection and Acceptance Committee, she also clearly acted with
evident bad faith. Bad faith does not simply connote bad judgment or negligence. It imputes a However, the Commission on Audit shall examine an agency’s files of bids and awards of
dishonest purpose or some moral obliquity and conscious wrongdoing. It partakes the nature of contracts and orders, either in full or on a selective basis, as circumstances require. These
fraud. It contemplates a state of mind affirmatively operating with furtive design or with some examinations shall be made to determine that the agency’s procedures are fundamentally sound,
motive, self-interest or ill will, or for ulterior purposes.25 Verily, petitioner must answer for her properly implemented, and the acquisition of supplies, materials, equipment and services is at
acts and omissions. the most advantageous prices and in a regular and businesslike manner.

WHEREFORE, the petition is DISMISSED. The assailed Decision dated November 24, 2000 of the The agency head shall arrange for the conduct of reviews with similar objectives. A report shall
Sandiganbayan is hereby AFFIRMED. be required for each review made, and the original signed report shall be held available for
inspection by the Commission on Audit on demand (Gen. Cirs. 45 and 83, Memo Cirs. 322 & 324).
SO ORDERED.
6 Referred to as “Pagulayan” in the decision of the Sandiganbayan but based on Exhibits “D” and
Davide, Jr. (C.J., Chairman), Ynares-Santiago, Carpio and Azcuna, JJ., concur. “D-1”, Auditor Singson signed this letter. For clarity, instead of referring to “Pagulayan” the same
is changed to “Auditor Singson.”
Petition dismissed, assailed decision affirmed.
7Also referred to as “Inspection Report” in some parts of the records. Rephrased “Reports of
Note.—The law, Anti-Graft and Corrupt Practices Act, was intended to promote morality in public
Inspection” (based on the titles of Exhibits “K”, “K-4,” “K-8”) and to distinguish the same from the
administration. (Cavite Crusade for Good Government vs. Cajigal, 370 SCRA 423 [2001]) Dugayon
Inspection Report of the COA.
vs. People, 436 SCRA 262, G.R. No. 147333 August 12, 2004
_______________
----------------------------------------------------------
8 The Sandiganbayan observed that the amended information inadvertently alleged that the
4 As cited by the Sandiganbayan in its Decision. Based on Exhibit “F”, the amount should be
accused public officers were all from “DECS”; that such allegation is inaccurate considering that
P239,490.
all of them were from “DSWD” as contained in the original information and from the testimonies
of witnesses; and that such inaccuracy is clearly a typographical error. See Rollo, p. 51.
5As cited in the letter (Exhibit C). Proper reference should have been to Section 436 which
provides,

Sec. 436. Examination of bids.—A representative of the COA Chairman shall be present at the
opening of all bids and quotations in all cases of competitive public bidding conducted by the
national, provincial, city or municipal governments. His duties shall be confined strictly to: (a)
secure and identify such papers and samples of the materials submitted by the bidders to ensure
No. L-58889. July 31, 1986.* the defeated party is for delivery to the winning party.—Indeed, Manipon’s behavior at the very
outset, had been marked with irregularities. As early as November 9, 1979, he had already
NATHANIEL S. MANIPON, JR., petitioner, vs. SANDIGANBAYAN, Second Division composed of garnished the bank accounts of Dominguez at Comtrust, but he did not notify the labor arbiter so
HON. BERNARDO P. FERNANDEZ as Acting Presiding Justice and HON. BUENAVENTURA J. that the corresponding order for the payment by the bank of the garnished amount could be
GUERRERO and HON. MOISES C. KALLOS, as Associate Justices, respondents. made and the sum withdrawn immediately to satisfy the judgment under execution. His lame
excuse was that he was very busy in the sheriff’s office, attending to voluminous exhibits and
Criminal Law; Elements of Direct Bribery.—The crime of direct bribery as defined in Article 210 of
court proceedings. That was also the same excuse he gave for not informing the labor arbiter of
the Revised Penal Code consists of the following elements: (1) that the accused is a public officer;
the novation. In fact he candidly admitted that he never communicated with the NLRC
(2) that he received directly or through another some gift or present, offer or promise; (3) that
concerning the garnishment. He returned the writ unsatisfied only on February 20, 1980
such gift, present or promise has been given in consideration of his commission of some crime,
although by its express terms, it was returnable within thirty days from October 29, 1979.
or any act not constituting a crime, or to refrain from doing something which it is his official duty
Clearly, Manipon had planned to get Dominguez to acquiesce to a consideration for lifting the
to do, and (4) that the crime or act relates to the exercise of his functions as a public officer. The
garnishment order.
promise of a public officer to perform an act or to refrain from doing it may be express or
implied. Same; Same; Failure of sheriff to attach to his affidavit the alleged temporary receipt he issued in
accepting the money from losing party, lends to suspicion that there was none.—Manipon was
Same; Evidence; It is strange that a sheriff or any one else would not put down in writing a
also asked about the affidavit he executed during the preliminary investigation. That affidavit
modification of a money judgment if there were such an agreement between the parties; and
contained two annexes but the temporary receipt which he allegedly prepared on December 28,
that the sheriff will not report the matter to the tribunal that rendered the decision.—It is very
1979 was not included. He said he misplaced it in his office and found it only several weeks after
strange indeed that for such an important agreement that would modify a final judgment, no one
he had made the affidavit. This leads us to strongly suspect there was actually no temporary
took the bother of putting it down on paper. Of course Manipon would have us believe that
receipt at all at the time of payment on December 28 and that it was concocted by the defense
there was no need for it because he trusted Dominguez and Tabek. And yet did he not also claim
as a last-ditch effort to make the authorities believe that what had transpired was not a payoff
that Dominguez had framed him up because of a grudge? And if there was really an agreement
but a legitimate partial satisfaction of a judgment debt.
to alter the judgment, why did he not inform the labor arbiter about it considering that it was the
labor arbiter who had issued the order of execution? Manipon could not give satisfactory Criminal Procedure; Evidence; Exceptions to the rule that a search warrant is necessary in making
explanations because there was no such agreement in the first place. searches on a person.—The argument is untenable. The rule that searches and seizures must be
supported by a valid warrant is not an absolute rule. There are at least three exceptions to the
Same; Same; The alleged temporary receipt offered by the sheriff to the defeated party who
rule recognized in this jurisdiction. These are: 1) search incidental to an arrest, 2) search of a
gave him the money in question is a last-minute fabrication.—The temporary receipt adduced by
moving vehicle, and 3) seizure of evidence in plain view.
Manipon, as correctly pointed out by the Solicitor General, is a last-minute fabrication to provide
proof of the alleged agreement for the partial payment of the judgment debt. Contrary to Same; Same; Sheriffs; Where intelligence authorities have been alerted of a possible bribe-taking
Manipon’s claim, it is hard to believe that Dominguez was not interested in getting said and actually saw the marked money being placed inside his breast pocket by the sheriff, the
temporary receipt because precisely that was the proof he needed to show that he had partially search of the latter’s person amounts to a search incidental to an arrest and no search warrant is,
complied with his legal obligation. therefore, necessary.—Immediately thereafter, Dominguez left the bank. Manipon placed the
money in his left breast pocket and followed suit. As Manipon walked past Murla on his way out,
Same; Same; Defense witness is not credible where one of them is biased and the other, one of
the latter gave another signal by putting his hand on his left breast to indicate that Manipon had
the winning parties in the labor case subject of execution, by the sheriff charged with bribery, is
placed the money in his left breast pocket. Upon noticing the second signal, the NISA agents and
an obviously rehearsed witness.—The testimonies of Crisanto Flora and Longog Tabek are of no
the PC operatives approached Manipon and his two companions. After identifying themselves as
help either to the defense. Flora is Manipon’s co-sheriff and is therefore biased. On the other
peace officers, they retrieved the P1,000.00 from Manipon. Through it all, Manipon remained
hand, Tabek, on several occasions on the witness stand, answered with obvious hesitation,
amazingly silent and voiced no protest. The search and seizure of the P1,000.00 from Manipon
betraying himself to be a rehearsed witness. While he claimed that he was the supposed
would therefore fall within the first exception. The search was made as an incident to a lawful
headman of the other creditors, he could not present any authority that would allow him to
arrest.
speak for them, let alone agree to receive a lesser amount in their behalf. He even admitted that
he did not know their names. PETITION for certiorari to review the judgment of the Sandiganbayan.

Same; Same; Failure of a sheriff to follow the prescribed procedure in execution of judgments The facts are stated in the opinion of the Court.
renders doubtful his defense that he did not accept a bribe but that the money he accepted from
Guillermo B. Bandonill for petitioner. Thus, at about 4:00 o’clock in the afternoon of December 28, 1979, Dominguez went to Comtrust
as planned. Manipon showed up with two companions, named Deputy Sheriff Crisanto Flora and
The Solicitor General for respondents. Baltazar Pacis. Manipon delivered his letter to the bank lifting the garnishment.8 Then
Dominguez prepared a withdrawal slip for P2,500.00.9 As soon as Dominguez received the
FERNAN, J .:
money from the teller, he took out P300.00 therefrom added it to the P700.00 in marked bills
and handed the total amount of P1,000.00 to Manipon. Then they all left the bank. Dominguez
This is a case of direct bribery penalized under Article 210 of the Revised Penal Code.
walked over to his car and drove off. Manipon and his two companions walked down Session
In its decision dated September 30, 1981, the Sandiganbayan found accused Nathaniel S. Road. Moments later, PC and NISA operatives accosted them, seized the P1,000.00 from the left
Manipon, Jr., 31, guilty of direct bribery, sentenced him to four months and twenty days of breast pocket of Manipon and thereafter brought them to Camp Dangwa for questioning.
arresto mayor with temporary special disqualification for eight years and one day and a fine of Manipon was subjected to an ultraviolet light test and found positive for fluorescent powder.
P2,000.00 with subsidiary imprisonment in case of insolvency and to pay the costs. However, after executing a certification relative to the money recovered, he refused to give any
statement.10 He filed his sheriff’s return unsatisfied on February 20, 1980 or after 114 days.11
Manipon came to this Court on petition for review on certiorari seeking the reversal of the
judgment of conviction. The Court dismissed the petition, ‘“the question raised being factual and Originally, Manipon was charged with violation of Presidential Decree No. 46 for having
for lack of merit.”1 However, upon motion for reconsideration, the Court reconsidered its demanded and received P1,000.00 from Dominguez, a private individual, for a favor extended by
resolution and gave due course to the petition.2 him to the latter, i.e., by not enforcing the garnishment order issued to Comtrust which was his
official duty. However, in an amended information dated February 16, 1981, the charge was
The facts of this case are as follows: changed to direct bribery under the Revised Penal Code.12

Nathaniel S. Manipon, Jr., a deputy sheriff of the Court of First Instance of Baguio City and Manipon was released on bail. When arraigned, he pleaded not guilty.13
Benguet, Branch IV, was assigned to enforce an order of the Minister of Labor dated October 31,
1979 directing the Sheriff of Baguio City or his deputy to execute the decision of the labor arbiter In his brief, Manipon contends that the Sandiganbayan erred in convicting him of direct bribery,
in NLRC Case No. RB-l-C-1428-79 entitled ‘Longog Tabek, et al. vs. Harry Dominguez et al.’ and to in not giving credence to the defense theory that there was novation of the money judgment and
make a return within thirty (30) days from said date.3 The labor arbiter’s decision ordered Harry in admitting illegally-obtained evidence.
Dominguez, a building contractor and the then municipal mayor of Tadian, to pay Longog Tabek
The crime of direct bribery as defined in Article 210 of the Revised Penal Code consists of the
and the other judgment creditors the amount of P2,720.00 with interest, as the balance of their
following elements: (1) that the accused is a public officer; (2) that he received directly or
work contract.4
through another some gift or present, offer or promise; (3) that such gift, present or promise has
Pursuant to that assignment, Manipon on November 9, 1979 sent a notice to the Commercial been given in consideration of his commission of some crime, or any act not constituting a crime,
Bank and Trust branch [Comtrust] in Baguio City garnishing the bank accounts of Dominguez.5 or to refrain from doing something which it is his official duty to do, and (4) that the crime or act
The bank agreed to hold the accounts. For one reason or another, Manipon did not inform the relates to the exercise of his functions as a public officer.14 The promise of a public officer to
labor arbiter of the garnishment nor did he exert efforts to immediately satisfy the judgment perform an act or to refrain from doing it may be express or implied. 15
under execution.
It is not disputed that at the time of the commission of the crime Manipon was the deputy sheriff
On November 12, 1979, Dominguez sought Manipon’s help in the withdrawal of the garnished of the Court of First Instance of Benguet and Baguio assigned to implement the ex-ecution order
account. Manipon told Dominguez that the money could not be withdrawn. issued in NLRC Case No. RB-1-C-1428-79. It is also not disputed that Manipon garnished the bank
accounts of Dominguez at Comtrust and that he lifted the same on December 28, 1979 after
However, on December 27, 1979 when the two met again at the Office of the National which he received P1,000.00 from Dominguez.
Intelligence and Security Authority [NISA] in Baguio City, Manipon told Dominguez that he “can
remedy the withdrawal so they will have something for the New Year.”6 Dominguez interpreted It is the theory of the defense that the P1,000.00 Manipon collected from Dominguez on
this to mean that Manipon would withdraw the garnished amount for a consideration. December 28, 1979 was not a bribe but a payment in partial satisfaction of the judgment under
Dominguez agreed and they arranged to meet at the bank later in the afternoon. After Manipon execution to which the judgment creditors headed by Longog Tabek had agreed.
left, Dominguez confided the offer to NISA Sub-Station Commander Luisito Sanchez. They then
Manipon narrates that during his meeting with Dominguez at the NISA office on December 27,
hatched up a plan to entrap Manipon by paying him with marked money the next day. Col.
1979, Dominguez requested Manipon to convey to the creditors that he was only willing to pay
Sanchez and a Col. Aguana were able to put up P700.00 in fifty-peso bills which were then
for the time being a partial amount of P1,000.00, the balance of P1,720,00 to be paid after the
authenticated, xeroxed and dusted with fluorescent powder.7
New Year,16 So he visited Longog Tabek who was the “lead man.” Tabek, an illiterate, consented October 29, 1979.22 Clearly, Manipon had planned to get Dominguez to acquiesce to a
to the lesser amount because he needed money badly.17 His arrangements with Tabek and consideration for lifting the garnishment order.
Dominguez were all verbal. At that time he found no reason to have some written memorandum
for his own protection. Manipon was also asked about the affidavit he executed during the preliminary investigation.23
That affidavit contained two annexes but the temporary receipt which he allegedly prepared on
At Comtrust after Dominguez had given him the P1,000.00 Manipon made a move to hand him a December 28, 1979 was not included. He said he misplaced it in his office and found it only
temporary receipt but Dominguez brushed it aside and said he was in a hurry.18 several weeks after he had made the affidavit.24 This leads us to strongly suspect there was
actually no temporary receipt at all at the time of payment on December 28 and that it was
Manipon maintains that Dominguez had framed him up because of a grudge. He said that in 1978 concocted by the defense as a last-ditch effort to make the authorities believe that what had
he and Flora had levied execution against several vehicles owned by Dominguez, an act which transpired was not a payoff but a legitimate partial satisfaction of a judgment debt.
the latter had openly resented.19
In the final analysis, it all boils down to credibility. In this regard, the prosecution witnesses have
The defense theory is so incredible that it leaves no doubt whatsoever in the Court’s mind that acquitted themselves well. The Sandiganbayan did not err in giving weight and credence to their
Manipon is guilty of the crime charged. version instead of Manipon’s. Indeed, Manipon’s guilt for the crime of direct bribery has been
proved beyond reasonable doubt.
It is very strange indeed that for such an important agreement that would modify a final
judgment, no one took the bother of putting it down on paper. Of course Manipon would have Dwelling on one last point, Manipon has pointed out that the P1,000.00 was illegally seized
us believe that there was no need for it because he trusted Dominguez and Tabek. And yet did he because there was no valid search warrant and therefore inadmissible.
not also claim that Dominguez had framed him up because of a grudge? And if there was really
an agreement to alter the judgment, why did he not inform the labor arbiter about it considering The argument is untenable. The rule that searches and seizures must be supported by a valid
that it was the labor arbiter who had issued the order of execution? Manipon could not give warrant is not an absolute rule. There are at least three exceptions to the rule recognized in this
satisfactory explanations because there was no such agreement in the first place. jurisdiction. These are: 1) search incidental to an arrest, 2) search of a moving vehicle, and 3)
seizure of evidence in plain view.25
The temporary receipt20 adduced by Manipon, as correctly pointed out by the Solicitor General,
is a last-minute fabrication to provide proof of the alleged agreement for the trial payment of the In the case at bar, the records show that at about 2:00 p.m. on December 28, 1979, NISA Sub-
judgment debt. Contrary to Manipon’s claim, it is hard to believe that Dominguez was not Station Commander Colonel Luisito Sanchez held a final briefing among his men and some
interested in getting said temporary receipt because precisely that was the proof he needed to operatives from the Benguet Philippine Constabulary concerning the planned entrapment. He
show that he had partially complied with his legal obligation. had earlier received word from Dominguez that the lifting of the garnishment would be effected
that afternoon and he informed them that Manipon was asking money from Dominguez.26 As
The testimonies of Crisanto Flora and Longog Tabek are of no help either to the defense. Flora is Colonel Sanchez earlier testified, part of the money to be withdrawn after lifting the garnishment
Manipon’s co-sheriff and is therefore biased. On the other hand, Tabek, on several occasions on was to be given to the accused27 for agreeing to lift the order of garnishment. After the briefing
the witness stand, answered with obvious hesitation, betraying himself to be a rehearsed which lasted from ten to fifteen minutes, they all headed for the Comtrust bank.
witness. While he claimed that he was the supposed headman of the other creditors, he could
not present any authority that would allow him to speak for them, let alone agree to receive a NISA Agent Caesar Murla stationed himself near the door of the bank so that he could observe
lesser amount in their behalf. He even admitted that he did not know their names.21 what transpired inside the bank.28 He testified that he saw Dominguez give the marked money
to Manipon which the latter accepted and counted. Upon seeing Manipon take the money from
Indeed, Manipon’s behavior at the very outset, had been marked with irregularities. As early as Dominguez, Agent Murla gave a signal to some of the agents positioned nearby by placing his
November 9, 1979, he had already garnished the bank accounts of Dominguez at Comtrust, but right hand on his head to indicate that the money had changed hands. Immediately thereafter,
he did not notify the labor arbiter so that the corresponding order for the payment by the bank Dominguez left the bank, Manipon placed the money in his left breast pocket and followed suit.
of the garnished amount could be made and the sum withdrawn immediately to satisfy the As Manipon walked past Murla on his way out, the latter gave another signal by putting his hand
judgment under execution. His lame excuse was that he was very busy in the sheriff’s office, on his left breast to indicate that Manipon had placed the money in his left breast pocket.29
attending to voluminous exhibits and court proceedings. That was also the same excuse he gave
for not informing the labor arbiter of the novation. In fact he candidly admitted that he never Upon noticing the second signal, the NISA agents and the PC operatives approached Manipon
communicated with the NLRC concerning the garnishment. He returned the writ unsatisfied only and his two companions. After identifying themselves as peace officers, they retrieved the
on February 20, 1980 although by its express terms, it was returnable within thirty days from P1,000.00 from Manipon. Through it all, Manipon remained amazingly silent and voiced no
protest.30
The search and seizure of the P1,000.00 from Manipon would therefore fall within the first
exception. The search was made as an incident to a lawful arrest, in accordance with our
pronouncement in Moreno v. Ago Chi, 12 Phil. 439, reiterated in Alvero v. Dizon, 76 Phil. 837, to
wit:

“An officer making an arrest may take from the person arrested any money or property found
upon his person which was used in the commission of the crirne or was the fruit of the crime or
which might furnish the prisoner with the means of committing violence or escaping, or which
may be used in evidence in the trial of the case.”

The evident purpose of this exception is both to protect the arresting officer against physical
harm from the person being arrested who might be armed with a concealed weapon and also to
prevent the person arrested from destroying evidence within his reach.31

Since the other issues raised by Manipon are factual, they need not be discussed here.

WHEREFORE, in view of the foregoing, the instant petition is denied for lack of merit, with costs
against petitioner-accused Nathaniel Manipon, Jr. The decision of the Sandiganbayan dated
September 30, 1981 is affirmed.

SO ORDERED.

Teehankee, C.J., Feria, Yap, Narvasa, Melencio-Herrera, Alampay, Gutierrez, Jr., Cruz and Paras,
JJ., concur.

Decision affirmed.

Note.—To fall under par. 1 of art. 210, Revised Penal Code, the act which the public officer has
agreed to perform must be criminal. When the justice of the peace allegedly agreed to dismiss a
criminal case, his act is not necessarily criminal because the dismissal may be proper. And if the
information does not state whether the justice of the peace executed the act or not, the case
would not fall under par. 2 of art. 210 which distinguishes between the act which was executed
and that which was not accomplished. (People vs. Abesamis, 93 Phil. 712.) Manipon, Jr. vs.
Sandiganbayan, 143 SCRA 267, No. L-58889 July 31, 1986

---------------------------
No. L-65952. July 31, 1984.* The factual background is as follows:

LAURO G. SORIANO, JR., petitioner, vs. THE HONORABLE SANDIGANBAYAN AND THE PEOPLE Thomas N. Tan was accused of qualified theft in a complaint lodged with the City Fiscal of
OF THE PHILIPPINES, respondents. Quezon City. The case was docketed as I.S. No. 82-2964 and assigned for investigation to the
petitioner who was then an Assistant City Fiscal. In the course of the investigation the petitioner
Remedial Law; Criminal Procedure; Sandiganbayan; Although factual questions of the demanded P4,000.00 from Tan as the price for dismissing the case. Tan reported the demand to
Sandiganbayan are not reviewable by the Supreme Court, the facts establishing petitioners guilt the National Bureau of Investigation which set up an entrapment. Because Tan was hard put to
and the competence of the witnesses who testified against him are explicitly stated in the raise the required amount only P2,000.00 in bills were marked by the NBI which had to supply
decision.—The latter is to the effect that the Sandiganbayan convicted him on the weakness of one-half thereof. The entrapment succeeded and an information was filed with the
his defense and not on the strength of the prosecution’s evidence. This claim is not meritorious Sandiganbayan in Criminal Case No. 7393 which reads as follows:
not only because it is not for Us to review the factual findings of the court a quo but also because
a reading of its decision shows that it explicitly stated the facts establishing the guilt of the “The undersigned Tanodbayan Special Prosecutor accuses LAURO G. SORIANO, for Violation of
petitioner and the competence of the witnesses who testified against him. Section 3, paragraph (b) of Republic Act 3019, otherwise known as the Anti-Graft and Corrupt
Practices Act, committed as follows:
Same; Same; Same; Anti-Graft and Corrupt Practices Act (RA 3019); Interpretation; Term
“contract” or “transaction” in Sec. 3 (b) of RA 3019, interpreted; Preliminary investigation of a That on or about the 21st day of March 1983, at Quezon City, Philippines, and within the
criminal complaint conducted by a Fiscal, not a “contract” or “transaction” provided in RA jurisdiction of this Honorable Court, the above-named accused, a public officer, being then and
3019.—It is obvious that the investigation conducted by the petitioner was not a contract. still is an Assistant City Fiscal of the Quezon City Fiscal’s Office, detailed as the Investigating Fiscal
Neither was it a transaction because this term must be construed as analogous to the term which in the case of MARIANNE Z, LACAMBRA versus THOMAS N. TAN, docketed as I.S. No. 82-2964, for
precedes it. A transaction, like a contract, is one which involves some consideration as in credit Qualified Theft, taking advantage of his official position and with grave abuse of authority, did
transactions and this element (consideration) is absent in the investigation conducted by the then and there wilfully, unlawfully and feloniously demand and request from Thomas N. Tan the
petitioner. amount of FOUR THOUSAND PESOS (P4,000.00) Philippine Currency, and actually received from
said Thomas N. Tan the amount of TWO THOUSAND PESOS (P2,000.00) Philippine Currency, in
Same; Same; Same; Bribery; Constitutional Law; Right to be informed of the nature and cause of consideration for a favorable resolution by dismissing the above-mentioned case, wherein said
the accusation against the accused, not violated, where the information clearly makes out a case accused has to intervene in his official capacity as such Investigating Fiscal.
of bribery against the Fiscal.—The petitioner also claims that he cannot be convicted of bribery
under the Revised Penal Code because to do so would be violative of his constitutional right to CONTRARY TO LAW.
be informed of the nature and cause of the accusation against him. Wrong. A reading of the Manila, Philippines, March 22, 1983.
information which has been reproduced herein clearly makes out a case of bribery so that the (SGD.) EDGARDO C. LABELLA
Special Prosecutor”
petitioner cannot claim deprivation of the right to be informed.
After trial the Sandiganbayan rendered a decision with the following dispositive portion:
Same; Same; Penalty for bribery against Fiscal for demanding P4,000.00 but actually receiving
“WHEREFORE, the Court finds accused Lauro G. Soriano, Jr., GUILTY beyond reasonable doubt, as
P2,000.00.—The petitioner is deemed guilty of bribery as defined and penalized by Article 210 of
Principal, in the Information, for Violation of Section 3, paragraph (b), of Republic Act No. 3019,
the Revised Penal Code and is hereby sentenced to suffer an indeterminate penalty of six (6)
as amended, otherwise known as the Anti-Graft and Corrupt Practices Act, and hereby sentences
months of arresto mayor, as minimum, to two (2) years of prision correccional, as maximum, and
him to suffer the indeterminate penalty of imprisonment ranging from SIX (6) YEARS and ONE (1)
to pay a fine of Two Thousand (P2,000.00) Pesos.
MONTH, as minimum, to NINE (9) YEARS and ONE (1) DAY, as maximum; to suffer perpetual
PETITION to review a decision of the Sandiganbayan. disqualification from public office; to suffer loss of all retirement or gratuity benefits under any
The facts are stated in the opinion of the Court. law; and, to pay costs.
Dakila F. Castro for petitioner.
The Solicitor General for respondents. “Of the sum of Two Thousand Pesos (P2,000.00) used in the entrapment operations, and which
ABAD SANTOS, J.: was fully recovered from the accused, One Thousand Pesos (P1,000.00) shall be returned to
private complainant Thomas N. Tan, and the other half, to the National Bureau of Investigation,
The principal issue in this petition to review a decision of the Sandiganbayan is whether or not National Capital Region.”
the preliminary investigation of a criminal complaint conducted by a Fiscal is a “contract or
transaction” so as to bring it within the ambit of Section 3 (b) of Republic Act No. 3019, otherwise A motion to reconsider the decision was denied by the Sandiganbayan; hence the instant
known as the Anti-Graft and Corrupt Practices Act. petition.
The petitioner has raised several legal questions plus one factual question. The latter is to the expressed purpose and object is to embrace all kinds of transaction between the government
effect that the Sandiganbayan convicted him on the weakness of his defense and not on the and other party wherein the public officer would intervene under the law.” (Comment, p. 8.)
strength of the prosecution’s evidence. This claim is not meritorious not only because it is not for
Us to review the factual findings of the court a quo but also because a reading of its decision It is obvious that the investigation conducted by the petitioner was not a contract. Neither was it
shows that it explicitly stated the facts establishing the guilt of the petitioner and the a transaction because this term must be construed as analogous to the term which precedes it. A
competence of the witnesses who testified against him. transaction, like a contract, is one which involves some consideration as in credit transactions
and this element (consideration) is absent in the investigation conducted by the petitioner.
As stated above, the principal issue is whether or not the investigation conducted by the
petitioner can be regarded as a “contract or transaction” within the purview of Sec. 3 (b) of R.A. In the light of the foregoing, We agree with the petitioner that it was error for the Sandiganbayan
No. 3019. On this issue the petition is highly impressed with merit. to have convicted him of violating Sec. 3 (b) of R. A. No. 3019.

The afore-mentioned provision reads as follows: The petitioner also claims that he cannot be convicted of bribery under the Revised Penal Code
because to do so would be violative of his constitutional right to be informed of the nature and
“SEC. 3. Corrupt practices of public officers.—In addition to acts or omissions of public officers cause of the accusation against him. Wrong. A reading of the information which has been
already penalized by existing law, the following shall constitute corrupt practices of any public reproduced herein clearly makes out a case of bribery so that the petitioner cannot claim
officer and are hereby declared to be unlawful: deprivation of the right to be informed.

(b) Directly or indirectly requesting or receiving any gift, present, share, percentage, or benefit, IN THE LIGHT OF THE FOREGOING, the judgment of the Sandiganbayan is modified in that the
for himself or for any other person, in connection with any contract or transaction between the petitioner is deemed guilty of bribery as defined and penalized by Article 210 of the Revised
Government and any other party, wherein the public officer in his official capacity has to Penal Code and is hereby sentenced to suffer an indeterminate penalty of six (6) months of
intervene under the law.” arresto mayor, as minimum, to two (2) years of prision correccional as maximum, and to pay a
fine of Two Thousand (P2,000.00) Pesos. The rest of the judgment is hereby affirmed. Costs
The petitioner states: against the petitioner.

“Assuming in gratia argumenti, petitioner’s guilt, the facts make out a case of Direct Bribery SO ORDERED.
defined and penalized under the provision of Article 210 of the Revised Penal Code and not a
violation of Section 3, subparagraph (b) of Rep. Act 3019, as amended. Fernando, C.J., Teehankee, Makasiar, Aquino, Concepcion, Jr., Guerrero, Melencio-Herrera,
Plana, Escolin, Relova, Gutierrez, Jr., De la Fuente and Cuevas, JJ., concur.
“The evidence for the prosecution clearly and undoubtedly support, if at all, the offense of Direct
Bribery, which is not the offense charged and is not likewise included in or is necessarily included Judgment affirmed with modification.
in the offense charged, which is for violation of Section 3, subparagraph (b) of Rep. Act 3019, as
amended. The prosecution showed that: the accused is a public officer; in consideration of Notes.—Jurisdiction over the crimes of falsification allegedly committed by a public officer
P4,000.00 which was allegedly solicited, P2,000.00 of which was allegedly received, the belongs exclusively to the Sandiganbayan. The Tanodbayan shall conduct the preliminary
petitioner undertook or promised to dismiss a criminal complaint investigation. (De Guzman vs. Villaluz, 117 SCRA 182.)

pending preliminary investigation before him, which may or may not constitute a crime; that the The definition in Article 203 of the Revised Penal Code as to public officers is quite
act of dismissing the criminal complaint pending before petitioner was related to the exercise of comprehensive, embracing as it does every public servant from the highest to the lowest. It
the function of his office. Therefore, it is with pristine clarity that the offense proved, if at all, is obliterates the distinction between “officer” and “employee” in the law of public officers. It does
Direct Bribery.” (Petition, p. 5.) not distinguish between permanent and temporary employees. Where the accused was originally
appointed a laborer, but was detailed to perform clerical functions such as the preparation of
Upon the other hand, the respondents claim: motions for dismissal and the issuance of summons and subpoenas to traffic violators in the
municipal court, Manila, in that capacity, albeit temporary, he is a public officer for purposes of
“A reading of the above-quoted provision would show that the term ‘transaction’ as used thereof the penal law. He may be convicted of bribery.
is not limited in its scope or meaning to a commercial or business transaction but includes all
kinds of transaction, whether commercial, civil or administrative in nature, pending with the
government. This must be so, otherwise, the Act would have so stated in the ‘Definition of
Terms’, Section 2 thereof. But it did not, perforce leaving no ether interpretation than that the
G.R. No. 160211. August 28, 2006.* finality when they are not tainted with grave abuse of discretion.—The principal evidence
presented during trial was the COA Special Audit Report (COA Report). The COA is the agency
VENANCIO R. NAVA, petitioner, vs. The Honorable Justices RODOLFO G. PALATTAO, GREGORY specifically given the power, authority and duty to examine, audit and settle all accounts
S. ONG, and MA. CRISTINA G. CORTEZ-ESTRADA as Members of the Sandiganbayan’s Fourth pertaining to the revenue and receipts of, and expenditures or uses of fond and property owned
Division, and the PEOPLE OF THE PHILIPPINES, respondents. by or pertaining to the government. It has the exclusive authority to define the scope of its audit
and examination and to establish the required techniques and methods. Thus, COA’s findings are
Appeals; Certiorari; Pleadings and Practice; To contest a decision of the Sandiganbayan,
accorded not only respect but also finality, when they are not tainted with grave abuse of
petitioner should file a petition for review on certiorari under Rule 45, not a petition for certiorari
discretion. Only upon a clear showing of grave abuse of discretion may the courts set aside
under Rule 65.—At the outset, it must be stressed that to contest the Sandiganbayan’s Decision
decisions of government agencies entrusted with the regulation of activities coming under their
and Resolution on June 2, 2003 and September 29, 2003, respectively, petitioner should have
special technical knowledge and training. In this case, the SBN correctly accorded credence to the
filed a petition for review on certiorari under Rule 45, not the present Petition for Certiorari
COA Report. As will be shown later, the Report can withstand legal scrutiny.
under Rule 65. Section 7 of Presidential Decree No. 1606, as amended by Republic Act No. 8249,
provides that “[d]ecisions and final orders of the Sandiganbayan shall be appealable to the Appeals; Evidence; It is hornbook doctrine that the findings of the trial court are accorded great
Supreme Court by petition for review on certiorari raising pure questions of law in accordance weight, since it was able to observe the demeanor of witnesses firsthand and up close.—What is
with Rule 45 of the Rules of Court.” Section 1 of Rule 45 of the Rules of Court likewise provides glaring is the discrepancy in prices. The tabulated figures are supported by Exhibits “E-1,” “E-2,”
that “[a] party desiring to appeal by certiorari from a judgment or final order or resolution of the “E-3,” and “E-4,” the Official Receipts evidencing the equipment purchased by the audit team for
x x x Sandiganbayan x x x whenever authorized by law, may file with the Supreme Court a verified purposes of comparison with those procured by petitioner. The authenticity of these Exhibits is
petition for review on certiorari. The petition shall raise only questions of law which must be not disputed by petitioner. As the SBN stated in its Decision, the fact of overpricing—as reflected
distinctly set forth.” in the aforementioned exhibits—was testified to or identified by Laura S. Soriano, team leader of
the audit team. It is hornbook doctrine that the findings of the trial court are accorded great
Same; Same; Same; A remedy is considered plain, speedy and adequate if it will promptly relieve
weight, since it was able to observe the demeanor of witnesses firsthand and up close. In the
the petitioner from the injurious effects of the judgment and the acts of the lower court or
absence of contrary evidence, these findings are conclusive on this Court. It was therefore
agency.—Basic is the principle that when Rule 45 is available, recourse under Rule 65 cannot be
incumbent on petitioner to prove that the audit team or any of its members thereof was so
allowed either as an add-on or as a substitute for appeal. The special civil action for certio-rari is
motivated by ill feelings against him that it came up with a fraudulent report. Since he was not
not and cannot be a substitute for an appeal, when the latter remedy is available. This Court has
able to show any evidence to this end, his contention as to the irregularity of the audit due to the
consistently ruled that a petition for certiorari under Rule 65 lies only when there is no appeal or
discrepancy of the dates, involved must necessarily fail.
any other plain, speedy and adequate remedy in the ordinary course of law. A remedy is
considered plain, speedy and adequate if it will promptly relieve the petitioner from the injurious Audits; An audit is conducted to determine whether the amounts allotted for certain
effects of the judgment and the acts of the lower court or agency or as in this case, the expenditures were spent wisely, in keeping with official guidelines and regulations—it is not a
Sandiganbayan. Since the assailed Decision and Resolution were dispositions on the merits, and witch hunt to terrorize accountable public offi-cials.—An audit is conducted to determine
the Sandiganbayan had no remaining issue to resolve, an appeal would have been the plain, whether the amounts allotted for certain expenditures were spent wisely, in keeping with official
speedy and adequate remedy for petitioner. guidelines and regulations. It is not a witch hunt to terrorize accountable public officials. The
presumption is always that official duty has been regularly per-formed—both on the part of
Same; Same; Same; Inasmuch as the instant petition for certiorari was filed within the 15-day
those involved with the expense allotment being audited and on the part of the audit team—
period provided under Rule 45, the Supreme Court treated it as a petition for review (not
unless there is evidence to the contrary.
certiorari) under Rule 45 in order to accord substantial justice to the parties.—To be sure, the
remedies of appeal and certiorari are mutually exclusive and not alternative or successive. For Bids and Bidding; Executive Order No. 301 states the general rule that no contract for public
this procedural lapse, the Petition should have been dismissed outright. Nonetheless, inasmuch services or for furnishing supplies, materials and equipment to the government or any of its
as it was filed within the 15-day period provided under Rule 45, the Court treated it as a petition branches, agencies or instrumentalities may be renewed or entered into without public bidding;
for review (not certiorari) under Rule 45 in order to accord substantial justice to the parties. Exceptions.—Executive Order No. 301 states the general rule that no contract for public services
Thus, it was given due course and the Court required the parties to file their Memoranda. or for furnishing supplies, materials and equipment to the government or any of its branches,
agencies or instrumentalities may be renewed or entered into without public bidding. The rule
Commission on Audit; The Commission on Audit (COA) is the agency specifically given the power,
however, is not without exceptions. Specifically, negotiated contracts may be entered into under
authority and duty to examine, audit and settle all accounts pertaining to the revenue and
any of the following circumstances: “a. Whenever the supplies are urgently needed to meet an
receipts of, and expenditure of funds or uses of fund and property owned by or pertaining to the
emergency which may involve the loss of, or danger to, life and/or property; “b. Whenever the
government; Commission on Audit’s (COA’s) findings are accorded not only respect but also
supplies are to be used in connection with a project or activity which cannot be delayed without DECS and the samples purchased by the COA audit team clearly established such undue injury.
causing detriment to the public service; “c. Whenever the materials are sold by an exclusive Indeed, the discrepancy was grossly and manifestly disadvantageous to the government.
distributor or manufacturer who does not have subdealers selling at lower prices and for which
no suitable substitute can be obtained elsewhere at more advantageous terms to the Same; Same; Bids and Bidding; Presumption of Innocence; Lack of a public bidding and the
government; “d. Whenever the supplies under procurement have been unsuccessfully placed on violation of an administrative order do not by themselves satisfy the third element of Section 3(g)
bid for at least two consecutive times, either due to lack of bidders or the offers received in each of R.A. No. 3019—lack of public bidding alone does not result in a manifest and gross
instance were exorbitant or non-conforming to specifications; “e. In cases where it is apparent disadvantage; If an accused is to be sent to jail, it must be because there is solid evidence to pin
that the requisition of the needed supplies through negotiated purchase is most advantageous to that person down, not because of the omission of procedural matter alone.—We must
the government to be determined by the Department Head concerned; “f. Whenever the emphasize however, that the lack of a public bidding and the violation of an administrative order
purchase is made from an agency of the govern-ment.” do not by themselves satisfy the third element of Republic Act No. 3019, Section 3(g); namely,
that the contract or transaction entered into was manifestly and grossly disadvantageous to the
Same; The law on public bidding is not an empty formality—it aims to secure the lowest possible government, as seems to be stated in the Resolution of the Sandiganbayan denying the Motion
price and obtain the best bargain for the govern-ment.—As the COA Report aptly states, the law for Reconsideration. Lack of public bidding alone does not result in a manifest and gross
on public bidding is not an empty formality. It aims to secure the lowest possible price and obtain disadvantage. Indeed, the absence of a public bidding may mean that the government was not
the best bargain for the government. It is based on the principle that under ordinary able to secure the lowest bargain in its favor and may open the door to graft and corruption.
circumstances, fair competition in the market tends to lower prices and eliminate favoritism. Nevertheless, the law requires that the disadvantage must be manifest and gross. Penal laws are
strictly construed against the government. If the accused is to be sent to jail, it must be because
Same; Public Officers; The process of approval is not a ministerial duty of approving authorities there is solid evidence to pin that person down, not because of the ommission of a procedural
to sign every document that comes across their desks, and then point to their subordinates as matter alone. Indeed, all the elements of a violation of Section 3(g) of Republic Act No. 3019
the parties responsible if something goes awry.—Although this Court has previously ruled that all should be established to prove the culpability of the accused. In this case, there is a clear
heads of offices have to rely to a reasonable extent on their subordinates and on the good faith showing that all the elements of the offense are present. Thus, there can be no other conclusion
of those who prepare bids, purchase supplies or enter into negotiations, it is not unreasonable to other than conviction.
expect petitioner to exercise the necessary diligence in making sure at the very least, that the
proper formalities in the questioned transaction were observed—that a public bidding was SPECIAL CIVIL ACTION in the Supreme Court. Certiorari.
conducted. This step does not entail delving into intricate details of product quality, complete
delivery or fair and accurate pricing. Unlike other minute requirements in government The facts are stated in the opinion of the Court.
procurement, compliance or noncompliance with the rules on public bidding is readily apparent;
Jose G. Ferrer for petitioner.
and the approving authority can easily call the attention of the subordinates concerned. To rule
otherwise would be to render meaningless the accountability of high-ranking public officials and
Jose Armand C. Arevalo collaborating counsel for petitioner.
to reduce their approving authority to nothing more than a mere rubber stamp. The process of
approval is not a ministerial duty of approving authorities to sign every document that comes PANGANIBAN, C.J.:
across their desks, and then point to their subordinates as the parties responsible if something
goes awry. A meticulous review of the records and the evidence establishes the guilt of the accused beyond
reasonable doubt. Clearly, the prosecution was able to prove all the elements of the crime
Criminal Law; Anti-Graft and Corrupt Practices Act (R.A. No. 3019); To sustain a conviction under charged. Hence, the conviction of petitioner is inevitable.
Section 3(g) of R.A. No. 3019, it must be clearly proven that 1) the accused is a public officer, 2)
the public officer entered into a contract or transaction on behalf of the government, and, 3) the The Case
contract or transaction was grossly and manifestly disadvantageous to the government.—To
sustain a conviction under Section 3(g) of Republic Act No. 3019, it must be clearly proven that 1) Before us is a Petition for Certiorari1 under Rule 65 of the Rules of Court, assailing the June 2,
the accused is a public officer; 2) the public officer entered into a contract or transaction on 2003 Decision2 and September 29, 2003 Resolution of the Sandiganbayan in Criminal Case No.
behalf of the government; and 3) the contract or transaction was grossly and manifestly 23627. The dispositive portion of the challenged Decision reads:
disadvantageous to the government. From the foregoing, it is clear that the Sandiganbayan did
“WHEREFORE, premises considered, judgment is hereby rendered convicting accused VENANCIO
not err in ruling that the evidence presented warranted a verdict of conviction. Petitioner is a
NAVA Y RODRIGUEZ of the crime of violation of the Anti-Graft and Corrupt Practices Act
public officer, who approved the transactions on behalf of the government, which thereby
particularly Section 3(g) thereof, or entering on behalf of government in any contract or
suffered a substantial loss. The discrepancy between the prices of the SLTDs purchased by the
transaction manifestly and grossly disadvantageous to the same whether or not the public officer
profited or will profit thereby. In the absence of any aggravating or mitigating circumstances, “In the hurried purchase of SLTD’s, the provision on the conduct of a public bidding was not
applying the Indeterminate Sentence Law, accused is hereby sentenced to suffer the penalty of followed. Instead the purchase was done through negotiation. Evidence shows that the items
imprisonment of six (6) years, and one (1) day as minimum to twelve (12) years and one (1) day were purchased from Joven’s Trading, a business establishment with principal address at Tayug,
as maximum and to suffer perpetual disqualification from public office. Accused Nava is further Pangasi-nan; D’[I]mplacable Enterprise with principal business address at 115 West Capitol Drive,
ordered to pay the government the amount of P380,013.60 which it suffered by way of damages Pasig, Metro Manila and from Evelyn Miranda of 1242 Oro-queta Street, Sta. Cruz, Manila. As
because of the unlawful act or omission committed by the herein accused Venancio Nava. disclosed by the audit report, the prices of the [SLTDs] as purchased from the above-named
sellers exceeded the prevailing market price ranging from 56% to 1,175% based on the
“From the narration of facts, there hardly appears any circumstance that would suggest the mathematical computation done by the COA audit team. The report concluded that the
existence of conspiracy among the other accused in the commission of the crime. government lost P380,013.60. That the injury to the government as quantified was the result of
the non-observance by the accused of the COA rules on public bidding and DECS Order No. 100
“Thus in the absence of conspiracy in the commission of the crime complained of and as the
suspending the purchases of [SLTDs].”4
herein other accused only acted upon the orders of accused Venancio Nava, in the absence of
any criminal intent on their part to violate the law, the acts of the remaining accused are not The Commission on Audit (COA) Report recommended the filing of criminal and administrative
considered corrupt practices committed in the performance of their duties as public officers and charges against the persons liable, including petitioner, before the Office of the Ombudsman-
consequently, accused AJATIL JAIRAL Y PONGCA, ROSALINDA MERKA Y GUANZON & JOSEPH Mindanao.
VENTURA Y ABAD are hereby considered innocent of the crime charged and are hereby
acquitted.”3 Petitioner was subsequently charged in an Information5 filed on April 8, 1997, worded as follows:

The assailed Resolution dated September 29, 2003, denied reconsideration. “That on or about the period between November to December 1990, and for sometime prior or
subsequent thereto, in Digos, Davao Del Sur and/or Davao City, Philippines and within the
The Facts jurisdiction of this Honorable Court, the accused Venancio R. Nava (DECS-Region XI Director) and
Ajatil Jairal (Division Superintendent, DECS, Davao del Sur), both high[-]ranking officials and
The Sandiganbayan narrated the facts of this case as follows:
Rosalinda Merka, and Teodora Indin (Administrative Officer and Assistant Division
Superintendent, respectively of DECS-Division of Davao Del Sur), all low ranking officials, while in
“The complaint involving the herein accused was initiated by the COA, Region XI, Davao City,
the discharge of their respective official functions, committing the offense in relation to their
which resulted from an audit conducted by a team which was created by the COA Regional Office
office and with grave abuse [of] authority, conniving and confederating with one another, did
per COA Regional Assignment Order No. 91-74 dated January 8, 1991. The objective of the team
then and there willfully, unlawfully and feloniously enter, on behalf of the government, into
[was] to conduct an audit of the 9.36 million allotment which was released in 1990 by the DECS,
transactions with D’Implacable Enterprise and Joven’s Trading, respectively, represented by
Region XI to its Division Offices.
accused Antonio S. Tan and Evelyn Miranda and Joseph Ventura for the purchase of Science
“In the Audit Report, the amount of P603,265.00 was shown to have been released to the DECS Laboratory Tools and Devices (SLTD) intended for use by the public high schools in the area
Division of Davao del Sur for distribution to the newly nationalized high schools located within amounting to [P603,265.00], Philippine currency, without the requisite public bidding and in
the region. Through the initiative of accused Venancio Nava, a meeting was called among his violation of DECS Order No. 100, Series of 1990, which transaction involved an overprice in the
seven (7) schools division superintendents whom he persuaded to use the money or allotment amount of P3 80,013.60 and thus, is manifestly and grossly disadvantageous to the
for the purchase of Science Laboratory Tools and Devices (SLTD). In other words, instead of government.”6
referring the allotment to the one hundred fifty-five (155) heads of the nationalized high schools
Special Prosecution Officer II Evelyn T. Lucero-Agcaoili recommended the dismissal of the
for the improvement of their facilities, accused Nava succeeded in persuading his seven (7)
foregoing Information on the ground, among others, that there was no probable cause. She
schools division superintendents to use the allotment for the purchase of science education
argued that only estimates were made to show the discrepancy of prices instead of a
facilities for the calendar year 1990.
comparative listing on an item to item basis.7 The recommendation was disapproved, however,
“In the purchase of the school materials, the law provides that the same shall be done through a by then Ombudsman Aniano A. Desierto.
public bidding pursuant to Circular No. 85-55, series of 1985. But in the instant case, evidence
Ruling of the Sandiganbayan
shows that accused Nava persuaded his seven (7) schools division superintendents to ignore the
circular as allegedly time was of the essence in making the purchases and if not done before the
After due trial, only petitioner was convicted, while all the other accused were acquitted.8
calendar year 1990, the funds allotted will revert back to the general fund.
Petitioner was found guilty of violating Section 3(g) of the Anti-Graft and Corrupt Practices Act, “II. Whether the public respondent committed grave abuse of discretion amounting to a lack of
or entering on behalf of the government any contract or transaction manifestly and grossly or excess of jurisdiction in upholding the findings in the special audit report where the Special
disadvantageous to the latter, whether or not the public officer profited or would profit thereby. Audit Team egregiously failed to comply with the minimum standards set by the Supreme Court
and adopted by the Commission on Audit in violation of petitioner’s right to due process, and
The Sandiganbayan (SBN) said that, in the purchase of the Science Laboratory Tools and Devices which report suppressed evidence favorable to the petitioner.
(SLTDs), petitioner had not conducted a public bidding in accordance with COA Circular No. 85-
55A. As a result, the prices of the SLTDs, as purchased, exceeded the prevailing market price from “III. Whether the public respondent committed grave abuse of discretion amounting to a lack of
56 percent to 1,175 percent, based on the mathematical computations of the COA team.9 In his or excess of jurisdiction in upholding the findings in the Special Audit Report considering that
defense, petitioner had argued that the said COA Circular was merely directory, not mandatory. none of the allegedly overpriced items were canvassed or purchased by the Special Audit Team
Further, the purchases in question had been done in the interest of public service.10 such that there is no competent evidence from which to determine that there was an overprice
and that the transaction was manifestly and grossly disadvantageous to the government.
The Sandiganbayan did not give credence to the foregoing defenses raised by petitioner. On the
contrary, it found the evidence adduced by petitioner’s co-accused, Superintendent Ajatil Jairal, “IV. Whether the public respondent committed grave abuse of discretion amounting to a lack of
to be “enlightening,” manifesting an intricate web of deceit spun by petitioner and involving all or excess of jurisdiction in finding that there was an overprice where none of the prices of the
the other superintendents in the process.11 questioned items exceeded the amount set by the Department of Budget and Management.

The graft court did not accept the claim of petitioner that he signed the checks only after the “V. Whether the public respondent committed grave abuse of discretion amounting to a lack of
other signatories had already signed them. The evidence showed that blank Philippine National or excess of jurisdiction in selectively considering the findings in the decision in Administrative
Bank (PNB) checks had been received by Nila E. Chavez, a clerk in the regional office, for Case No. XI-91-088 and failing to consider the findings thereon that petitioner was justified in
petitioner’s signature. The Sandiganbayan opined that the evidence amply supported Jairal’s undertaking a negotiated purchase and that there was no overpricing.
testimony that the questioned transactions had emanated from the regional office, as in fact, all
the documents pertinent to the transaction had already been prepared and signed by petitioner “VI. Whether the public respondent committed grave abuse of discretion amounting to a lack of
when the meeting with the superintendents was called sometime in August 1990.12 or excess of jurisdiction in selectively considering the findings of XI-91-088 and failing to consider
the findings thereon that petitioner was justified in undertaking a negotiated purchase, there
In that meeting, the superintendents were given prepared documents like the Purchase Orders was no overpricing, and that the purchases did not violate DECS Order No. 100.
and vouchers, together with the justi-fication.13 This circumstance prompted Jairal to conduct
his own canvass. The Sandiganbayan held that this act was suggestive of the good faith of Jairal, “VII. Whether the public respondent committed grave abuse of discretion amounting to a lack of
thereby negating any claim of conspiracy with the other co-accused and, in particular, petitioner. or excess of jurisdiction in failing to absolve the petitioner where conspiracy was not proven and
the suppliers who benefited from the alleged overpricing were acquitted.
In its assailed Resolution, the SBN denied petitioner’s Motion for Reconsideration. It held that
the series of acts culminating in the questioned transactions constituted violations of “VIII. Whether the public respondent committed grave abuse of discretion amounting to a lack of
Department of Education, Culture and Sports (DECS) Order No. 100; and COA Circular No. 85- or excess of jurisdiction in admitting in evidence and giving probative value to Exhibit ‘8’ the
55A. Those acts, ruled the SBN, sufficiently established that the contract or transaction entered existence and contents of which are fictitious.
into was manifestly or grossly disadvantageous to the government.
“IX. Whether the public respondent committed grave abuse of discretion amounting to a lack of
Hence, this Petition.14 or excess of jurisdiction in giving credence to the self-serving and perjurious testimony of co-
accused Ajatil Jairal that the questioned transactions emanated from the regional office [in spite]
The Issues of the documentary evidence and the testimony of the accused supplier which prove that the
transaction emanated from the division office of Digos headed by co-accused Ajatil Jairal.
Petitioner raises the following issues for our consideration:
“X. Whether the public respondent committed grave abuse of discretion amounting to a lack of
“I. Whether the public respondent committed grave abuse of discretion amounting to a lack of or or excess of jurisdiction in finding that the petitioner entered into a transaction that was
excess of jurisdiction in upholding the findings of the Special Audit Team that irregularly manifestly and grossly disadvantageous to the government where the evidence clearly
conducted the audit beyond the authorized period and which team falsified the Special Audit established that the questioned transactions were entered into by the division office of Digos
Report. through co-accused Ajatil Jairal.
“XI. Whether the public respondent committed grave abuse of discretion amounting to a lack of Petitioner argues that the Sandiganbayan erred in convicting him, because the pieces of evidence
or excess of jurisdiction in convicting the petitioner in the absence of proof beyond reasonable to support the charges were not convincing. Specifically, he submits the following detailed
doubt.”15 argumentation:

All these issues basically refer to the question of whether the Sandiganbayan committed “1. the Special Audit Report was fraudulent, incomplete, irregular, inaccurate, illicit and
reversible errors (not grave abuse of discretion) in finding petitioner guilty beyond reasonable suppressed evidence in favor of the Petitioner;
doubt of violation of Section 3(g), Republic Act No. 3019. “2. there was no competent evidence to determine the overprice as none of the samples secured
by the audit team from the Division of Davao del Sur were canvassed or purchased by the audit
The Court’s Ruling team;
“3. the allegedly overpriced items did not exceed the amount set by the Department of Budget
and Management;
The Petition has no merit.
“4. the decision in an administrative investigation were selectively lifted out of context;
“5. the administrative findings that Petitioner was justified in undertaking a negotiated purchase,
Procedural Issue: Propriety of Certiorari
that there was no overpricing, and that the purchases did not violate DECS Order No. 100 were
disregarded;
At the outset, it must be stressed that to contest the Sandiganba-yan’s Decision and Resolution
“6. Exhibit ‘8,’ the contents of which are fictitious, was admitted in evidence and given probative
on June 2, 2003 and September 29, 2003, respectively, petitioner should have filed a petition for value;
review on certiorari under Rule 45, not the present Petition for Certiorari under Rule 65. Section “7. The suppliers who benefited from the transactions were acquitted, along with the other
7 of Presidential Decree No. 1606,16 as amended by Republic Act No. 8249,17 provides that accused who directly participated in the questioned transactions; and
“[d]ecisions and final orders of the Sandiganbayan shall be appealable to the Supreme Court by “8. The self-serving and perjury-ridden statements of co-accused Jairal were given credence
petition for review on certiorari raising pure questions of law in accordance with Rule 45 of the despite documentary and testimonial evidence to the contrary.”23
Rules of Court.” Section 1 of Rule 45 of the Rules of Court likewise provides that “[a] party
desiring to appeal by certiorari from a judgment or final order or resolution of the x x x Petitioner further avers that the findings of fact in the Decision dated October 21, 1996 in DECS
Sandiganbayan x x x whenever authorized by law, may file with the Supreme Court a verified Administrative Case No. XI-91-08824 denied any overpricing and justified the negotiated
petition for review on certiorari. The petition shall raise only questions of law which must be purchases in lieu of a public bidding.25 Since there was no overpricing and since he was justified
distinctly set forth.” in undertaking the negotiated purchase, petitioner submits that he cannot be convicted of
violating Section 3(g) of Republic Act No. 3019.
Basic is the principle that when Rule 45 is available, recourse under Rule 65 cannot be allowed
either as an add-on or as a substitute for appeal.18 The special civil action for certiorari is not The principal evidence presented during trial was the COA Special Audit Report (COA Report).
and cannot be a substitute for an appeal, when the latter remedy is available.19 The COA is the agency specifically given the power, authority and duty to examine, audit and
settle all accounts pertaining to the revenue and receipts of, and expenditures or uses of fond
This Court has consistently ruled that a petition for certiorari under Rule 65 lies only when there and property owned by or pertaining to the government.26
is no appeal or any other plain, speedy and adequate remedy in the ordinary course of law.20 A
remedy is considered plain, speedy and adequate if it will promptly relieve the petitioner from It has the exclusive authority to define the scope of its audit and examination and to establish
the injurious effects of the judgment and the acts of the lower court or agency or as in this case, the required techniques and methods.27 Thus, COA’s findings are accorded not only respect but
the Sandiganba-yan.21 Since the assailed Decision and Resolution were dispositions on the also finality, when they are not tainted with grave abuse of discretion.28 Only upon a clear
merits, and the Sandiganbayan had no remaining issue to resolve, an appeal would have been showing of grave abuse of discretion may the courts set aside decisions of government agencies
the plain, speedy and adequate remedy for petitioner. entrusted with the regulation of activities coming under their special technical knowledge and
training.29 In this case, the SBN correctly accorded credence to the COA Report. As will be shown
To be sure, the remedies of appeal and certiorari are mutually exclusive and not alternative or later, the Report can withstand legal scrutiny.
successive.22 For this procedural lapse, the Petition should have been dismissed outright.
Nonetheless, inasmuch as it was filed within the 15-day period provided under Rule 45, the Court Initially, petitioner faults the audit team for conducting the investigation beyond the twenty-one
treated it as a petition for review (not certiorari) under Rule 45 in order to accord substantial day period stated in the COA Regional Office Assignment Order No. 91-174 dated January 8,
justice to the parties. Thus, it was given due course and the Court required the parties to file 1991. But this delay by itself did not destroy the credibility of the Report. Neither was it sufficient
their Memoranda. to constitute fraud or indicate bad faith on the part of the audit team. Indeed, in the conduct of
an audit, the length of time the actual examination occurs is dependent upon the documents
Main Issue: Sufficiency of Evidence involved. If the documents are voluminous, then it necessarily follows that more time would be
needed.30 What is important is that the findings of the audit should be sufficiently supported by accountable public officials. The presumption is always that official duty has been regularly
evidence. performed37—both on the part of those involved with the expense allotment being audited and
on the part of the audit team—unless there is evidence to the contrary.
Petitioner also imputes fraud to the audit team for making “it-appear that the items released by
the Division Office of Davao Del Due Process

Sur on 21 February 1991 were compared with and became the basis for the purchase of exactly Petitioner likewise invokes Arriola v. Commission on Audit38 to support his claim that his right to
the same items on 20 February 1991.”31 due process was violated. In that case, this Court ruled that the disallowance made by the COA
was not sufficiently supported by evidence, as it was based on undocumented claims. Moreover,
The discrepancy regarding the date when the samples were taken and the date of the purchase in Arriola, the documents that were used as basis of the COA Decision were not shown to
of the same items for comparison was not very material. The discrepancy per se did not petitioners, despite their repeated demands to see them. They were denied access to the actual
constitute fraud in the absence of ill motive. We agree with respondents in their claim of clerical canvass sheets or price quotations from accredited suppliers.
inadvertence. We accept their explanation that the wrong date was written by the supplier
concerned when the items were bought for comparison. Anyway, the logical sequence of events As the present petitioner pointed out in his Memorandum, the foregoing jurisprudence became
was clearly indicated in the COA Report: the basis for the COA to issue Memorandum Order No. 97-012 dated March 31, 1997, which
states:
“1.5.1. Obtained samples of each laboratory tools and devices purchased by the Division of
Davao del Sur, Memorandum Receipts covering all the samples were issued by the agency to the “3.2 To firm up the findings to a reliable degree of certainty, initial findings of overpricing based
audit team and are marked as Exhibits “1.2” and “3” of this Report.” on market price indicators mentioned in par. 2.1 above have to be supported with canvass sheet
and/or price quotations indicating:
“1.5.2. Bought and presented these samples to reputable business establishments in Davao City
like Mercury Drug Store, Berovan Marketing Incorporated and [A]llied Medical Equipment and a) the identities of the suppliers or sellers;
Supply Corporation (AMESCO) where these items are also available, for price verification. b) the availability of stock sufficient in quantity to meet the requirements of the procuring
agency;
“1.5.3. Available items which were exactly the same as the samples presented were purchased c) the specifications of the items which should match those involved in the finding of overpricing;
from AMESCO and Berovan Marketing Incorporated, the business establishments which quoted d) the purchase/contract terms and conditions which should be the same as those of the
questioned transaction.”
the lowest prices. Official receipts were issued by the AMESCO and Berovan Marketing
Incorporated which are hereto marked as Exhibits 4, 5, 6 and 7 respectively.”32 Petitioner’s reliance on Arriola is misplaced. First, that Decision, more so, the COA Memorandum
Order that was issued pursuant to the former, was promulgated after the period when the audit
The COA team then tabulated the results as follows:33
in the present case was conducted. Neither Arriola nor the COA Memorandum Order can be
What is glaring is the discrepancy in prices. The tabulated figures are supported by Exhibits “E-l,” given any retroactive effect.
“E-2,” “E-3,” and “E-4,” the Official Receipts evidencing the equipment purchased by the audit
Second and more important, the circumstances in Arriola are different from those in the present
team for purposes of comparison with those procured by petitioner.34 The authenticity of these
case. In the earlier case, the COA merely referred to a cost comparison made by the engineer of
Exhibits is not disputed by petitioner. As the SBN stated in its Decision, the fact of overpricing—
COA-Technical Services Office (TSO), based on unit costs furnished by the Price Monitoring
as reflected in the aforementioned exhibits—was testified to or identified by Laura S. Soriano,
Division of the COA-TSO. The COA even refused to show the canvass sheets to the petitioners,
team leader of the audit team.35 It is hornbook doctrine that the findings of the trial court are
explaining that the source document was confidential.
accorded great weight, since it was able to observe the demeanor of witnesses firsthand and up
close.36 In the absence of contrary evidence, these findings are conclusive on this Court. In the present case, the audit team examined several documents before they arrived at their
conclusion that the subject transactions were grossly disadvantageous to the government. These
It was therefore incumbent on petitioner to prove that the audit team or any of its members
documents were included in the Formal Offer of Evidence submitted to the Sandiganbayan.39
thereof was so motivated by ill feelings against him that it came up with a fraudulent report.
Petitioner was likewise presented an opportunity to controvert the findings of the audit team
Since he was not able to show any evidence to this end, his contention as to the irregularity of
during the exit conference held at the end of the audit, but he failed to do so.40
the audit due to the discrepancy of the dates, involved must necessarily fail.
Further, the fact that only three canvass sheets/price quotations were presented by the audit
An audit is conducted to determine whether the amounts allotted for certain expenditures were
team does not bolster petitioner’s claim that his right to due process was violated. To be sure,
spent wisely, in keeping with official guidelines and regulations. It is not a witch hunt to terrorize
there is no rule stating that all price canvass sheets must be presented. It is enough that those “e. In cases where it is apparent that the requisition of the needed supplies through negotiated
that are made the basis of comparison be submitted for scrutiny to the parties being audited. purchase is most advantageous to the government to be determined by the Department Head
Indubitably, these documents were properly submitted and testified to by the principal concerned;
prosecution witness, Laura Soriano. Moreover, petitioner had ample opportunity to controvert
them. “f. Whenever the purchase is made from an agency of the govern-ment.”46

Public Bidding National Center for Mental Health v. Commission on Audit47upheld the validity of the negotiated
contracts for the renovation and the improvement of the National Center for Mental Health. In
Petitioner oscillates between denying that he was responsible for the procurement of the that case, petitioners were able to show that the long overdue need to renovate the Center
questioned SLTDs, on the one hand; and, on the other, stating that the negotiated purchase was “made it compelling to fast track what had been felt to be essential in providing due and proper
justifiable under the circumstances. treatment and care for the center’s patients.”48

On his disavowal of responsibility for the questioned procurement, he claims that the This justification was likewise accepted in Baylon v. Ombudsman49 in which we recognized that
transactions emanated from the Division Office of Digos headed by Jairal.41 However, in the the purchases were made in response to an emergency brought about by the shortage in the
administrative case42 filed against petitioner before the DECS, it was established that he “gave blood supply available to the public. The shortage was a matter recognized and addressed by
the go signal”43 that prompted the division superintendents to procure the SLTDs through then Secretary of Health Juan M. Flavier, who attested that “he directed the NKTI [National
negotiated purchase. This fact is not disputed by petitioner, who quotes the same DECS Decision Kidney and Transplant Insti-tute] to do something about the situation and immediately fast-track
in stating that his “acts were justifiable under the circumstances then obtaining at that time and the implementation of the Voluntary Blood Donation Program of the government in order to
for reasons of efficient and prompt distribution of the SLTDs to the high schools.”44 prevent further deaths owing to the lack of blood.”50

In justifying the negotiated purchase without public bidding, petitioner claims that “any delay in Unfortunately for petitioner, there was no showing of any immediate and compelling justification
the enrichment of the minds of the public high school students of Davao del Sur is detrimental for dispensing with the requirement of public bidding. We cannot accept his unsubstantiated
and antithetical to public service.”45 Although this reasoning is quite laudable, there was nothing reasoning that a public bidding would unnecessarily delay the purchase of the SLTDs. Not only
presented to substantiate it. would he have to prove that indeed there would be a delay but, more important, he would have
to show how a public bidding would be detrimental and antithetical to public service.
Executive Order No. 301 states the general rule that no contract for public services or for
furnishing supplies, materials and equipment to the government or any of its branches, agencies As the COA Report aptly states, the law on public bidding is not an empty formality. It aims to
or instrumentalities may be renewed or entered into without public bidding. The rule however, is secure the lowest possible price and obtain the best bargain for the government. It is based on
not without exceptions. Specifically, negotiated contracts may be entered into under any of the the principle that under ordinary circumstances, fair competition in the market tends to lower
following circumstances: prices and eliminate favoritism.51

“a. Whenever the supplies are urgently needed to meet an emergency which may involve the In this case, the DECS Division Office of Davao del Sur failed to conduct public bidding on the
loss of, or danger to, life and/or property; subject transactions. The procurement of laboratory tools and devices was consummated with
only the fol-lowing documents to compensate for the absence of a public bidding:
“b. Whenever the supplies are to be used in connection with a project or activity which cannot
be delayed without causing detriment to the public service; “1.13.a Price lists furnished by the Supply Coordination Office

“c. Whenever the materials are sold by an exclusive distributor or manufacturer who does not 1.13.b. Price lists furnished by the Procurement Services of the Department of Budget and
have subdealers selling at lower prices and for which no suitable substitute can be obtained Management
elsewhere at more advantageous terms to the government;
1.13.C. Price lists of Esteem Enterprises”52
“d. Whenever the supplies under procurement have been unsuccessfully placed on bid for at
least two consecutive times, either due to lack of bidders or the offers received in each instance The COA Report states that the Division Office merely relied on the above documents as basis for
were exorbitant or non-conforming to specifications; concluding that the prices offered by D’Implacable Enterprises and Joven’s Trading were
reasonable. But as found by the COA, reliance on the foregoing supporting documents was
completely without merit on the following grounds:
“a. The Supply Coordination Office was already dissolved or abolished at the time when the a) textbooks published by the Instructional Materials Corporation and its commercial edition;
transactions were consummated, thus, it is illogical for the management to consider the price
lists furnished by the Supply Coordination Office. b) elementary school desks and tablet arm chairs[.]”

“b. The indorsement letter made by the Procurement Services of the Department of Budget and As the COA Report succinctly states, the Administrative Order is explicit in its provisions that
Management containing the price lists specifically mentions Griffin and George brands, made in tools and devices were among the items whose-procurement was suspended by the DECS for the
England. However, the management did not procure these brands of [SLTDs]. year 1990.

“c. The price lists furnished by the Esteem Enterprises does not deserve the scantest Petitioner claims that in the administrative case against him, there was no mention of a violation
consideration, since there is no law or regulation specifically mentioning that the price lists of the of DECS Order No. 100.56 He alleges that the purchases of SLTDs by the division superintendents
Esteem Enterprises will be used as basis for buying [SLTDs].”53 were entered into and perfected on July 1, 1990; that is, more than two (2) months before the
issuance of DECS Order No. 100. He also alleged that the Sub-Allotment Advice (SAA) to the DECS
Granting arguendo that petitioner did not have a hand in the procurement and that the Regional Office No. XI in the amount of P9.36M—out of which P603,265.00 was used for the
transactions emanated from the Division Office of Davao del Sur, we still find him liable as the procurement of the questioned SLTDs—had been released by the DECS Central Office in August
final approving authority. In fact, Exhibit “B-2”—Purchase Order No. 90-024, amounting to 1990, a month before the issuance of DECS Order No. 100.
P231,012 and dated December 17, 1990—was recommended by Jairal and approved by
petitioner.54 This exhibit was part of the evidence adduced in the Sandiganbayan to prove that The Court notes that these arguments are mere assertions bereft of any proof. There was no
the purchase of the SLTDs was consummated and duly paid by the DECS without any proof of evidence presented to prove that the SAA was issued prior to the effectivity of DECS Order No.
public bidding. 100. On the other hand, the COA Report states that the DECS Division of Davao del Sur received
the following Letters of Advice of Allotments (LAA):57
Although this Court has previously ruled55 that all heads of offices have to rely to a reasonable
extent on their subordinates and on the good faith of those who prepare bids, purchase supplies xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx
or enter into negotiations, it is not unreasonable to expect petitioner to exercise the necessary
The foregoing LAAs were attached as annexes58 to the COA Report and were presented during
diligence in making sure at the very least, that the proper formalities in the questioned
trial in the Sandiganbayan.59
transaction were observed—that a public bidding was conducted. This step does not entail
delving into intricate details of product quality, complete delivery or fair and accurate pricing.
Also, Schools Division Superintendent Jairal had sent a letter to petitioner, requesting favorable
consideration of a forthcoming release of funding for the different barangay and municipal high
Unlike other minute requirements in government procurement, compliance or noncompliance
schools. The letter was dated October 16, 1990,60 and was made well within the effectivity of
with the rules on public bidding is readily apparent; and the approving authority can easily call
the DECS Order. In that letter, Jairal mentioned the receipt by his office of DECS Order No. 100,
the attention of the subordinates concerned. To rule otherwise would be to render meaningless
albeit wrongly interpreting it as suspending only the purchases of reference books,
the accountability of high-ranking public officials and to reduce their approving authority to
supplementary readers, and so on, but allegedly silent on the purchase of laboratory supplies
nothing more than a mere rubber stamp. The process of approval is not a ministerial duty of
and materials.61
approving authorities to sign every document that comes across their desks, and then point to
their subordinates as the parties responsible if something goes awry.
Finally, the SLTDs were purchased within the covered period of DECS Order No. 100, as
evidenced by the following relevant documents adduced by the COA audit team, among others:
Suspension of Purchases
1) Disbursement Voucher dated November 27, 1990 for the payment of various laboratory
Obviously working against petitioner is DECS Order No. 100 dated September 3, 1990 which
supplies and materials by DECS, Davao del Sur in the amount of P303,29.4062
states thus:
2) Official Receipt No. 455 dated January 7, 1991 amounting to £68,424.00 issued by Joven’s
“In view of the Government’s call for economy measures coupled with the deficiency in
Trading63
allotments intended for the payment of salary standardization, retirement benefits, bonus and
other priority items, the procurement of reference and supplementary materials, tools and
3) Report of Inspection dated November 26, 1990 signed by Jacinta Villareal and Felicisimo
devices equipment, furniture, including land acquisition and land improvement shall be
Canoy64
suspended for CY 1990. However, the following items shall be exempted from the said
suspension:
4) Sales Invoice No. 044 dated November 26, 1990 issued by Joven’s Trading in favor of DECS If the accused is to be sent to jail, it must be because there is solid evidence to pin that person
amounting to P303,259.4065 down, not because of the ommission of a procedural matter alone. Indeed, all the elements of a
violation of Section 3(g) of Republic Act No. 3019 should be established to prove the culpability
5) Certificate of Acceptance dated November 27, 1990 signed by Feli-cismo Canoy66 of the accused. In this case, there is a clear showing that all the elements of the offense are
present. Thus, there can be no other conclusion other than conviction.
6) Purchase Order No. 90-021 in favor of Joven’s Trading dated No-vember 26, 1990
recommended for approval by Ajatil Jairal67 We note, however, that petitioner was sentenced to suffer the penalty of six (6) years and one
(1) day as minimum to twelve (12) years and one (1) day as maximum. Under Section 9 of
7) Official Receipt No. 92356 dated January 7, 1991 issued by D’Implacable Enterprises
Republic Act 3019, petitioner should be punished with imprisonment of not less than six (6) years
amounting to P231,012.0068
and one (1) month nor more than fifteen years. Thus, we adjust the minimum penalty imposed
on petitioner in accordance with the law.
8) Purchase Order No. 90-024 dated December 17, 1990 recommended for approval by Ajatil
Jairal and approved Director Venancio Nava amounting to P231,012.00.”69
WHEREFORE, the Petition is DENIED. The assailed Decision and Resolution are AFFIRMED,with
the MODIFICATION that the minimum sentence imposed shall be six (6) years and one (1) month,
The confluence of the foregoing circumstances indubitably establishes that petitioner indeed
not six (6) years and one (1) day. Costs against petitioner.
wantonly disregarded regulations. Additionally, DECS Order No. 100 negates his claim that the
negotiated transaction—done instead of a public bidding—was justified. If that Order suspended
SO ORDERED.
the acquisition of tools and devices, then there was all the more reason for making purchases by
public bidding. Since the buying of tools and devices was specifically suspended, petitioner Ynares-Santiago, Austria-Martinez, Callejo, Sr. and Chico-Nazario, JJ., concur.
cannot argue that the purchases were done in the interest of public service.
Petition denied, assailed decision and resolution affirmed with modification.
Proof of Guilt
Notes.—A petition for review under Rule 45 of the Revised Rules of Court is generally limited
To sustain a conviction under Section 3(g) of Republic Act No. 3019, it must be clearly proven only to questions of law or errors of judgment while a petition for certiorari under Rule 65 may
that 1) the accused is a public officer; 2) the public officer entered into a contract or transaction be availed of to correct errors of jurisdiction including the commission of grave abuse of
on behalf of the government; and 3) the contract or transaction was grossly and manifestly discretion amounting to lack or excess of jurisdiction. (Bace-lonia vs. Court of Appeals, 397 SCRA
disadvantageous to the government.70 286 [2003])

From the foregoing, it is clear that the Sandiganbayan did not err in ruling that the evidence In a petition under Rule 45 of the Rules of Court—as distinguished from an ordinary appeal of a
presented warranted a verdict of convic- criminal case in which the whole case is opened for review—the appeal is limited to the errors
assigned by petitioner; No affirmative relief can be given to one who did not contest the lower
tion. Petitioner is a public officer, who approved the transactions on behalf of the government,
court’s decision. (Munsayac-De Villa vs. Court of Ap-peals, 414 SCRA 436 [2003])
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 © Copyright 2016 Central Book Supply, Inc. All rights reserved. Nava vs. Palattao, 499 SCRA 745,
such undue injury. Indeed, the discrepancy was grossly and manifestly disadvantageous to the G.R. No. 160211 August 28, 2006
government.

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,
Section 3(g); namely, that the contract or transaction entered into was manifestly and grossly
disadvantageous to the government, as seems to be stated in the Resolution of the
Sandiganbayan denying the Motion for Reconsid-eration.71 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.72
G.R. No. 180363. April 28, 2009.* capacity in connection with his financial or pecuniary interest in any business, contract, or
transaction. The second mode is when he is prohibited from having such an interest by the
EDGAR Y. TEVES, petitioner, vs. THE COMMISSION ON ELECTIONS and HERMINIO G. TEVES, Constitution or by law. In Teves v. Sandiganbayan, 447 SCRA 309 (2004), petitioner was convicted
respondents. under the second mode for having pecuniary or financial interest in a cockpit which is prohibited
under Sec. 89(2) of the Local Government Code of 1991.
Election Law; Moral Turpitude; The fact that a candidate lost in the congressional race in the May
14, 2007 elections did not effectively moot the issue of whether he was disqualified from running Same; Same; Conviction under the second mode does not automatically mean that the same
for public office on the ground that the crime he was convicted of involved moral turpitude.— involved moral turpitude—a determination of all surrounding circumstances of the violation of
The fact that petitioner lost in the congressional race in the May 14, 2007 elections did not the statute must be considered.—Conviction under the second mode does not automatically
effectively moot the issue of whether he was disqualified from running for public office on the mean that the same involved moral turpitude. A determination of all surrounding circumstances
ground that the crime he was convicted of involved moral turpitude. It is still a justiciable issue of the violation of the statute must be considered. Besides, moral turpitude does not include
which the COMELEC should have resolved instead of merely declaring that the disqualification such acts as are not of themselves immoral but whose illegality lies in their being positively
case has become moot in view of petitioner’s defeat. Further, there is no basis in the COMELEC’s prohibited, as in the instant case.
findings that petitioner is eligible to run again in the 2010 elections because his disqualification
shall be deemed removed after the expiration of a period of five years from service of the Same; Same; Cockfighting; Cockfighting, or sabong in the local parlance, has a long and storied
sentence. Assuming that the elections would be held on May 14, 2010, the records show that it tradition in our culture and was prevalent even during the Spanish occupation—while it is a form
was only on May 24, 2005 when petitioner paid the fine of P10,000.00 he was sentenced to pay of gambling, the morality thereof or the wisdom in legalizing it is not a justiciable issue.—Suffice
in Teves v. Sandiganbayan, 447 SCRA 309 (2004). Such being the reckoning point, thus, the five- it to state that cockfighting, or sabong in the local parlance, has a long and storied tradition in
year disqualification period will end only on May 25, 2010. Therefore he would still be ineligible our culture and was prevalent even during the Spanish occupation. While it is a form of gambling,
to run for public office during the May 14, 2010 elections. Hence, it behooves the Court to the morality thereof or the wisdom in legalizing it is not a justiciable issue. In Magtajas v. Pryce
resolve the issue of whether or not petitioner’s violation of Section 3(h), R.A. No. 3019 involves Properties Corporation, Inc., 234 SCRA 255 (1994), it was held that: The morality of gambling is
moral turpitude. not a justiciable issue. Gambling is not illegal per se. While it is generally considered inimical to
the interests of the people, there is nothing in the Constitution categorically proscribing or
Same; Same; Words and Phrases; “Moral Turpitude,” Defined.—Moral turpitude has been penalizing gambling or, for that matter, even mentioning it at all. It is left to Congress to deal
defined as everything which is done contrary to justice, modesty, or good morals; an act of with the activity as it sees fit. In the exercise of its own discretion, the legislature may prohibit
baseness, vileness or depravity in the private and social duties which a man owes his fellowmen, gambling altogether or allow it without limitation or it may prohibit some forms of gambling and
or to society in general. allow others for whatever reasons it may consider sufficient. Thus, it has prohibited jueteng and
monte but permits lotteries, cockfighting and horse-racing. In making such choices, Congress has
Criminal Law; Anti-Graft and Corrupt Practices Act (R.A. No. 3019); Violation of Sec. 3(h) of R.A.
consulted its own wisdom, which this Court has no authority to review, much less reverse. Well
3019; Elements.—Section 3(h) of R.A. 3019 of which petitioner was convicted, reads: Sec. 3.
has it been said that courts do no sit to resolve the merits of conflicting theories. That is the
Corrupt practices of public officers.—In addition to acts or omissions of public officers already
prerogative of the political departments. It is settled that questions regarding the wisdom,
penalized by existing law, the following shall constitute corrupt practices of any public officer and
morality, or practicability of statutes are not addressed to the judiciary but may be resolved only
are hereby declared to be unlawful: x x x x (h) Directly or indirectly having financial or pecuniary
by the legislative and executive departments, to which the function belongs in our scheme of
interest in any business, contract or transaction in connection with which he intervenes or takes
government. That function is exclusive. Whichever way these branches decide, they are
part in his official capacity, or in which he is prohibited by the Constitution or by any law from
answerable only to their own conscience and the constituents who will ultimately judge their
having any interest. The essential elements of the violation of said provision are as follows: 1)
acts, and not to the courts of justice.
The accused is a public officer; 2) he has a direct or indirect financial or pecuniary interest in any
business, contract or transaction; 3) he either: a) intervenes or takes part in his official capacity in BRION, J., Concurring Opinion:
connection with such interest, or b) is prohibited from having such interest by the Constitution or
by law. Moral Turpitude; Legal Research; Words and Phrases; The term “moral turpitude” first took root
under the United States (U.S.) immigration laws—its history can be traced back as far as the 17th
Same; Same; Two modes by which a public officer who has a direct or indirect financial or century when the States of Virginia and Pennsylvania enacted the earliest immigration
pecuniary interest in any business, contract, or transaction may violate Section 3(h) of Republic resolutions excluding criminals from America, in response to the British government’s policy of
Act No. 3019.—There are two modes by which a public officer who has a direct or indirect sending convicts to the colonies.—The term “moral turpitude” first took root under the United
financial or pecuniary interest in any business, contract, or transaction may violate Section 3(h) States (U.S.) immigration laws. Its history can be traced back as far as the 17th century when the
of R.A. 3019. The first mode is when the public officer intervenes or takes part in his official
States of Virginia and Pennsylvania enacted the earliest immigration resolutions excluding directly derived from the word “turpitude,” is the standard of depravity viewed from a scale of
criminals from America, in response to the British government’s policy of sending convicts to the right and wrong.—Even a cursory examination of the above-listed readily reveals that while the
colonies. State legislators at that time strongly suspected that Europe was deliberately exporting concept of “moral turpitude” does not have one specific definition that lends itself to easy and
its human liabilities. In the U.S., the term “moral turpitude” first appeared in the Immigration Act ready application, the Court has been fairly consistent in its understanding and application of the
of March 3, 1891, which directed the exclusion of persons who have been convicted of a felony term and has not significantly deviated from what it laid down in In re Basa. The key element,
or other infamous crime or misdemeanor involving moral turpitude; this marked the first time directly derived from the word “turpitude,” is the standard of depravity viewed from a scale of
the U.S. Congress used the term “moral turpitude” in immigration laws. Since then, the presence right and wrong. The application of this depravity standard can be made from at least three
of moral turpitude has been used as a test in a variety of situations, including legislation perspectives or approaches, namely: from the objective perspective of the act itself, irrespective
governing the disbarment of attorneys and the revocation of medical licenses. Moral turpitude of whether or not the act is a crime; from the perspective of the crime itself, as defined through
also has been judicially used as a criterion in disqualifying and impeaching witnesses, in its elements; and from the subjective perspective that takes into account the perpetrator’s level
determining the measure of contribution between joint tortfeasors, and in deciding whether a of depravity when he committed the crime.
certain language is slanderous.
SPECIAL CIVIL ACTION in the Supreme Court. Certiorari.
Same; Same; In the Philippines, the term moral turpitude was first introduced in 1901 in Act No.
190, otherwise known as the Code of Civil Actions and Special Proceedings.—In the Philippines, The facts are stated in the opinion of the Court.
the term moral turpitude was first introduced in 1901 in Act No. 190, otherwise known as the
Quasha, Ancheta, Peña and Nolasco for petitioner.
Code of Civil Actions and Special Proceedings. The Act provided that a member of the bar may be
removed or suspended from his office as lawyer by the Supreme Court upon conviction of a
Martin Gerard S. Cornelio for private respondent.
crime involving moral turpitude. Subsequently, the term “moral turpitude” has been employed in
statutes governing disqualifications of notaries public, priests and ministers in solemnizing YNARES-SANTIAGO, J.:
marriages, registration to military service, exclusion and naturalization of aliens, discharge of the
accused to be a state witness, admission to the bar, suspension and removal of elective local The issue for resolution is whether the crime of which petitioner Edgar Y. Teves was convicted in
officials, and disqualification of persons from running for any elective local position. Teves v. Sandiganbayan1 involved moral turpitude.

Same; Same; In Re Basa, 41 Phil. 275 (1920), provided the first instance for the Court to define The facts of the case are undisputed.
the term moral turpitude in the context of Section 21 of the Code of Civil Procedure on the
disbarment of a lawyer for conviction of a crime involving moral turpitude.—In Re Basa, 41 Phil. Petitioner was a candidate for the position of Representative of the 3rd legislative district of
275 (1920), a 1920 case, provided the first instance for the Court to define the term moral Negros Oriental during the May 14, 2007 elections. On March 30, 2007, respondent Herminio G.
turpitude in the context of Section 21 of the Code of Civil Procedure on the disbarment of a Teves filed a petition to disqualify2 petitioner on the ground that in Teves v. Sandiganbayan,3 he
lawyer for conviction of a crime involving moral turpitude. Carlos S. Basa, a lawyer, was convicted was convicted of violating Section 3(h), Republic Act (R.A.) No. 3019, or the Anti-Graft and
of the crime of abduction with consent. The sole question presented was whether the crime of Corrupt Practices Act, for possessing pecuniary or financial interest in a cockpit, which is
abduction with consent, as punished by Article 446 of the Penal Code of 1887, involved moral prohibited under Section 89(2) of the Local Government Code (LGC) of 1991, and was sentenced
turpitude. The Court, finding no exact definition in the statutes, turned to Bouvier’s Law to pay a fine of P10,000.00. Respondent alleged that petitioner is disqualified from running for
Dictionary for guidance and held: “Moral turpitude,” it has been said, “includes everything which public office because he was convicted of a crime involving moral turpitude which carries the
is done contrary to justice, honesty, modesty, or good morals.” (Bouvier’s Law Dictionary, cited accessory penalty of perpetual disqualification from public office.4 The case was docketed as SPA
by numerous courts.) Although no decision can be found which has decided the exact question, it No. 07-242 and assigned to the COMELEC’s First Division.
cannot admit of doubt that crimes of this character involve moral turpitude. The inherent nature
On May 11, 2007, the COMELEC First Division disqualified petitioner from running for the
of the act is such that it is against good morals and the accepted rule of right conduct.
position of member of House of Representatives and ordered the cancellation of his Certificate
Same; Same; Depravity Standard; Three Perspectives or Approaches from Which the Application of Candidacy.5
of the Depravity Standard Can Be Made; Even a cursory examination of the lists of crimes
Petitioner filed a motion for reconsideration before the COMELEC en banc which was denied in
categorized as crimes involving or not involving moral turpitude readily reveals that while the
its assailed October 9, 2007 Resolution for being moot, thus:
concept of “moral turpitude” does not have one specific definition that lends itself to easy and
ready application, the Court has been fairly consistent in its understanding and application of the
term and has not significantly deviated from what it laid down in In re Basa—the key element,
“It appears, however, that [petitioner] lost in the last 14 May 2007 congressional elections for of P10,000.00 he was sentenced to pay in Teves v. Sandiganbayan.8 Such being the reckoning
the position of member of the House of Representatives of the Third district of Negros Oriental point, thus, the five-year disqualification period will end only on May 25, 2010. Therefore he
thereby rendering the instant Motion for Reconsideration moot and academic. would still be ineligible to run for public office during the May 14, 2010 elections.

WHEREFORE, in view of the foregoing, the Motion for Reconsideration dated 28 May 2007 filed Hence, it behooves the Court to resolve the issue of whether or not petitioner’s violation of
by respondent Edgar Y. Teves challenging the Resolution of this Commission (First Division) Section 3(h), R.A. No. 3019 involves moral turpitude.
promulgated on 11 May 2007 is hereby DENIED for having been rendered moot and academic.
Section 12 of the Omnibus Election Code reads:
SO ORDERED.”6
“Sec. 12. Disqualifications.—Any person who has been declared by competent authority insane
Hence, the instant petition based on the following grounds: or incompetent, or has been sentenced by final judgment for subversion, insurrection, rebellion,
or for any offense for which he has been sentenced to a penalty of more than eighteen months,
I. THERE WAS ABUSE OF DISCRETION, AMOUNTING TO LACK OR EXCESS OF JURISDICTION, WHEN or for a crime involving moral turpitude, shall be disqualified to be a candidate and to hold any
THE COMELEC EN BANC DEMURRED IN RESOLVING THE MAIN ISSUE RAISED IN PETITIONER’S office, unless he has been given plenary pardon or granted amnesty.
MOTION FOR RECONSIDERATION, WHETHER PETITIONER IS DISQUALIFIED TO RUN FOR PUBLIC
OFFICE TAKING INTO CONSIDERATION THE DECISION OF THE SUPREME COURT IN G.R. NO. The disqualifications to be a candidate herein provided shall be deemed removed upon the
154182. declaration by competent authority that said insanity or incompetence had been removed or
after the expiration of a period of five years from his service of sentence, unless within the same
II. THE MAIN ISSUE IS NOT RENDERED MOOT AND ACADEMIC AS THE RESOLUTION THEREOF period he again becomes disqualified.” (Emphasis supplied)
WILL DETERMINE PETITIONER’S QUALIFICATION TO RUN FOR OTHER PUBLIC POSITIONS IN
FUTURE ELECTIONS. Moral turpitude has been defined as everything which is done contrary to justice, modesty, or
good morals; an act of baseness, vileness or depravity in the private and social duties which a
III. THERE WAS ABUSE OF DISCRETION, AMOUNTING TO LACK OR EXCESS OF JURISDICTION, man owes his fellowmen, or to society in general.9
WHEN THE COMELEC EN BANC IN EFFECT AFFIRMED THE FINDINGS OF THE FIRST DIVISION
WHICH RULED THAT PETITIONER’S CONVICTION FOR VIOLATION OF SECTION 3(H) OF R.A. 3019 Section 3(h) of R.A. 3019 of which petitioner was convicted, reads:
AND THE IMPOSITION OF FINE IS A CONVICTION FOR A CRIME INVOLVING MORAL TURPITUDE.
“Sec. 3. Corrupt practices of public officers.—In addition to acts or omissions of public officers
A. THE ISSUE OF WHETHER PETITIONER WAS CONVICTED OF A CRIME INVOLVING MORAL already penalized by existing law, the following shall constitute corrupt practices of any public
TURPITUDE SHOULD BE RESOLVED TAKING INTO CONSIDERATION THE FINDINGS OF THE officer and are hereby declared to be unlawful:
SUPREME COURT IN G.R. NO. 154182.
(h) Directly or indirectly having financial or pecuniary interest in any business, contract or
B. THERE IS NOTHING IN THE DECISION OF THE SUPREME COURT THAT SUPPORTS THE FINDINGS transaction in connection with which he intervenes or takes part in his official capacity, or in
OF THE FIRST DIVISION OF THE COMELEC, THAT BASED ON THE “TOTALITY OF FACTS” DOCTRINE, which he is prohibited by the Constitution or by any law from having any interest.”
PETITIONER WAS CONVICTED OF A CRIME INVOLVING MORAL TURPITUDE.7
The essential elements of the violation of said provision are as follows: 1) The accused is a public
The petition is impressed with merit. officer; 2) he has a direct or indirect financial or pecuniary interest in any business, contract or
transaction; 3) he either: a) intervenes or takes part in his official capacity in connection with
The fact that petitioner lost in the congressional race in the May 14, 2007 elections did not such interest, or b) is prohibited from having such interest by the Constitution or by law.10
effectively moot the issue of whether he was disqualified from running for public office on the
ground that the crime he was convicted of involved moral turpitude. It is still a justiciable issue Thus, there are two modes by which a public officer who has a direct or indirect financial or
which the COMELEC should have resolved instead of merely declaring that the disqualification pecuniary interest in any business, contract, or transaction may violate Section 3(h) of R.A. 3019.
case has become moot in view of petitioner’s defeat. The first mode is when the public officer intervenes or takes part in his official capacity in
connection with his financial or pecuniary interest in any business, contract, or transaction. The
Further, there is no basis in the COMELEC’s findings that petitioner is eligible to run again in the second mode is when he is prohibited from having such an interest by the Constitution or by
2010 elections because his disqualification shall be deemed removed after the expiration of a law.11
period of five years from service of the sentence. Assuming that the elections would be held on
May 14, 2010, the records show that it was only on May 24, 2005 when petitioner paid the fine
In Teves v. Sandiganbayan,12 petitioner was convicted under the second mode for having “Not every criminal act, however, involves moral turpitude. It is for this reason that “as to what
pecuniary or financial interest in a cockpit which is prohibited under Sec. 89(2) of the Local crime involves moral turpitude, is for the Supreme Court to determine.” In resolving the
Government Code of 1991. The Court held therein: foregoing question, the Court is guided by one of the general rules that crimes mala in se involve
moral turpitude, while crimes mala prohibita do not, the rationale of which was set forth in “Zari
“However, the evidence for the prosecution has established that petitioner Edgar Teves, then v. Flores,” to wit:
mayor of Valencia, Negros Oriental, owned the cockpit in question. In his sworn application for
registration of cockpit filed on 26 September 1983 with the Philippine Gamefowl Commission, “It (moral turpitude) implies something immoral in itself, regardless of the fact that it is
Cubao, Quezon City, as well as in his renewal application dated 6 January 1989 he stated that he punishable by law or not. It must not be merely mala prohibita, but the act itself must be
is the owner and manager of the said cockpit. Absent any evidence that he divested himself of inherently immoral. The doing of the act itself, and not its prohibition by statute fixes the moral
his ownership over the cockpit, his ownership thereof is rightly to be presumed because a thing turpitude. Moral turpitude does not, however, include such acts as are not of themselves
once proved to exist continues as long as is usual with things of that nature. His affidavit dated immoral but whose illegality lies in their being positively prohibited.”
27 September 1990 declaring that effective January 1990 he “turned over the management of
the cockpit to Mrs. Teresita Z. Teves for the reason that [he] could no longer devote a full time as This guideline nonetheless proved short of providing a clear-cut solution, for in “International
manager of the said entity due to other work pressure” is not sufficient proof that he divested Rice Research Institute v. NLRC, the Court admitted that it cannot always be ascertained whether
himself of his ownership over the cockpit. Only the management of the cockpit was transferred moral turpitude does or does not exist by merely classifying a crime as malum in se or as malum
to Teresita Teves effective January 1990. Being the owner of the cockpit, his interest over it was prohibitum. There are crimes which are mala in se and yet but rarely involve moral turpitude and
direct. there are crimes which involve moral turpitude and are mala prohibita only. In the final analysis,
whether or not a crime involves moral turpitude is ultimately a question of fact and frequently
Even if the ownership of petitioner Edgar Teves over the cockpit were transferred to his wife, still depends on all the circumstances surrounding the violation of the statute.” (Emphasis supplied)
he would have a direct interest thereon because, as correctly held by respondent Sandiganbayan,
they remained married to each other from 1983 up to 1992, and as such their property relation Applying the foregoing guidelines, we examined all the circumstances surrounding petitioner’s
can be presumed to be that of conjugal partnership of gains in the absence of evidence to the conviction and found that the same does not involve moral turpitude.
contrary. Article 160 of the Civil Code provides that all property of the marriage is presumed to
First, there is neither merit nor factual basis in COMELEC’s finding that petitioner used his official
belong to the conjugal partnership unless it be proved that it pertains exclusively to the husband
capacity in connection with his interest in the cockpit and that he hid the same by transferring
or to the wife. And Section 143 of the Civil Code declares all the property of the conjugal
the management to his wife, in violation of the trust reposed on him by the people.
partnership of gains to be owned in common by the husband and wife. Hence, his interest in the
Valencia Cockpit is direct and is, therefore, prohibited under Section 89(2) of the LGC of 1991,
The COMELEC, in justifying its conclusion that petitioner’s conviction involved moral turpitude,
which reads:
misunderstood or misapplied our ruling in Teves v. Sandiganbayan. According to the COMELEC:
Section 89. Prohibited Business and Pecuniary Interest.—(a) It shall be unlawful for any local
“In the present case, while the crime for which [petitioner] was convicted may per se not involve
government official or employee, directly or indirectly, to:
moral turpitude, still the totality of facts evinces [his] moral turpitude. The prohibition was
intended to avoid any conflict of interest or any instance wherein the public official would favor
(2) Hold such interests in any cockpit or other games licensed by a local government unit….
his own interest at the expense of the public interest. The [petitioner] knew of the prohibition
[Emphasis supplied].
but he attempted to circumvent the same by holding out that the Valencia Cockpit and
The offense proved, therefore, is the second mode of violation of Section 3(h) of the Anti-Graft Recreation Center is to be owned by a certain Daniel Teves. Later on, he would aver that he
Law, which is possession of a prohibited interest.”13 already divested himself of any interest of the cockpit in favor of his wife. But the Supreme Court
saw through the ruse and declared that what he divested was only the management of the
However, conviction under the second mode does not automatically mean that the same cockpit but not the ownership. And even if the ownership is transferred to his wife, the
involved moral turpitude. A determination of all surrounding circumstances of the violation of respondent would nevertheless have an interest thereon because it would still belong to the
the statute must be considered. Besides, moral turpitude does not include such acts as are not of conjugal partnership of gains, of which the [petitioner] is the other half.
themselves immoral but whose illegality lies in their being positively prohibited, as in the instant
case. [Petitioner] therefore maintained ownership of the cockpit by deceit. He has the duty to divest
himself but he did not and instead employed means to hide his interests. He knew that it was
Thus, in Dela Torre v. Commission on Elections,14 the Court clarified that: prohibited he nevertheless concealed his interest thereon. The facts that he hid his interest
denotes his malicious intent to favor self-interest at the expense of the public. Only a man with a
malevolent, decadent, corrupt and selfish motive would cling on and conceal his interest, the that violation thereof necessarily involves moral turpitude or makes such possession of interest
acquisition of which is prohibited. This plainly shows his moral depravity and proclivity to put inherently immoral. Under the old LGC, mere possession by a public officer of pecuniary interest
primacy on his self interest over that of his fellowmen. Being a public official, his act is also a in a cockpit was not among the prohibitions. Thus, in Teves v. Sandiganbayan, the Court took
betrayal of the trust reposed on him by the people. Clearly, the totality of his acts is contrary to judicial notice of the fact that:
the accepted rules of right and duty, honesty and good morals. The crime, as committed by the
[petitioner], plainly involves moral turpitude.”15 “x x x under the old LGC, mere possession of pecuniary interest in a cockpit was not among the
prohibitions enumerated in Section 41 thereof. Such possession became unlawful or prohibited
On the contrary, the Court’s ruling states: only upon the advent of the LGC of 1991, which took effect on 1 January 1992. Petitioner Edgar
Teves stands charged with an offense in connection with his prohibited interest committed on or
“The Sandiganbayan found that the charge against Mayor Teves for causing the issuance of the about 4 February 1992, shortly after the maiden appearance of the prohibition. Presumably, he
business permit or license to operate the Valencia Cockpit and Recreation Center is “not well- was not yet very much aware of the prohibition. Although ignorance thereof would not excuse
founded.” This it based, and rightly so, on the additional finding that only the Sangguniang Bayan him from criminal liability, such would justify the imposition of the lighter penalty of a fine of
could have issued a permit to operate the Valencia Cockpit in the year 1992. Indeed, under P10,000 under Section 514 of the LGC of 1991.”18 (Italics supplied)
Section 447(3) of the LGC of 1991, which took effect on 1 January 1992, it is the Sangguniang
Bayan that has the authority to issue a license for the establishment, operation, and The downgrading of the indeterminate penalty of imprisonment of nine years and twenty-one
maintenance of cockpits. Unlike in the old LGC, Batas Pambansa Blg. 337, wherein the municipal days as minimum to twelve years as maximum to a lighter penalty of a fine of P10,000.00 is a
mayor was the presiding officer of the Sangguniang Bayan, under the LGC of 1991, the mayor is recognition that petitioner’s violation was not intentionally done contrary to justice, modesty, or
not so anymore and is not even a member of the Sangguniang Bayan. Hence, Mayor Teves could good morals but due to his lack of awareness or ignorance of the prohibition.
not have intervened or taken part in his official capacity in the issuance of a cockpit license
during the material time, as alleged in the information, because he was not a member of the Lastly, it may be argued that having an interest in a cockpit is detrimental to public morality as it
Sangguniang Bayan.”16 tends to bring forth idlers and gamblers, hence, violation of Section 89(2) of the LGC involves
moral turpitude.
Thus, petitioner, as then Mayor of Valencia, did not use his influence, authority or power to gain
such pecuniary or financial interest in the cockpit. Neither did he intentionally hide his interest in Suffice it to state that cockfighting, or sabong in the local parlance, has a long and storied
the subject cockpit by transferring the management thereof to his wife considering that the said tradition in our culture and was prevalent even during the Spanish occupation.19 While it is a
transfer occurred before the effectivity of the present LGC prohibiting possession of such form of gambling, the morality thereof or the wisdom in legalizing it is not a justiciable issue. In
interest. Magtajas v. Pryce Properties Corporation, Inc., it was held that:

As aptly observed in Teves v. Sandiganbayan: “The morality of gambling is not a justiciable issue. Gambling is not illegal per se. While it is
generally considered inimical to the interests of the people, there is nothing in the Constitution
“As early as 1983, Edgar Teves was already the owner of the Valencia Cockpit. Since then until 31 categorically proscribing or penalizing gambling or, for that matter, even mentioning it at all. It is
December 1991, possession by a local official of pecuniary interest in a cockpit was not yet left to Congress to deal with the activity as it sees fit. In the exercise of its own discretion, the
prohibited. It was before the effectivity of the LGC of 1991, or on January 1990, that he legislature may prohibit gambling altogether or allow it without limitation or it may prohibit
transferred the management of the cockpit to his wife Teresita. In accordance therewith it was some forms of gambling and allow others for whatever reasons it may consider sufficient. Thus, it
Teresita who thereafter applied for the renewal of the cockpit registration. Thus, in her sworn has prohibited jueteng and monte but permits lotteries, cockfighting and horse-racing. In making
applications for renewal of the registration of the cockpit in question dated 28 January 1990 and such choices, Congress has consulted its own wisdom, which this Court has no authority to
18 February 1991, she stated that she is the Owner/Licensee and Operator/Manager of the said review, much less reverse. Well has it been said that courts do no sit to resolve the merits of
cockpit. In her renewal application dated 6 January 1992, she referred to herself as the conflicting theories. That is the prerogative of the political departments. It is settled that
Owner/Licensee of the cockpit. Likewise in the separate Lists of Duly Licensed Personnel for questions regarding the wisdom, morality, or practicability of statutes are not addressed to the
Calendar Years 1991 and 1992, which she submitted on 22 February 1991 and 17 February 1992, judiciary but may be resolved only by the legislative and executive departments, to which the
respectively, in compliance with the requirement of the Philippine Gamefowl Commission for the function belongs in our scheme of government. That function is exclusive. Whichever way these
renewal of the cockpit registration, she signed her name as Operator/Licensee.”17 (Emphasis branches decide, they are answerable only to their own conscience and the constituents who will
supplied) ultimately judge their acts, and not to the courts of justice.”

Second, while possession of business and pecuniary interest in a cockpit licensed by the local WHEREFORE, the petition is GRANTED. The assailed Resolutions of the Commission on Elections
government unit is expressly prohibited by the present LGC, however, its illegality does not mean dated May 11, 2007 and October 9, 2007 disqualifying petitioner Edgar Y. Teves from running for
the position of Representative of the 3rd District of Negros Oriental, are REVERSED and SET Justice Vinzon, disagreed, finding that “under an unbroken course of judicial decisions, the crime
ASIDE and a new one is entered declaring that the crime committed by petitioner (violation of of conspiring to defraud the U.S. is a crime involving moral turpitude.”6 Notably, the Court
Section 3(h) of R.A. 3019) did not involve moral turpitude. determined that fraudulent conduct involved moral turpitude without exception:

SO ORDERED. “Whatever the phrase “involving moral turpitude” may mean in peripheral cases, the decided
cases make it plain that crimes in which fraud was an ingredient have always been regarded as
Puno (C.J.), Carpio, Austria-Martinez, Corona, Carpio-Morales, Tinga, Chico-Nazario, Velasco, Jr., involving moral turpitude. x x x Fraud is the touchstone by which this case should be judged. x x x
Nachura, Leonardo-De Castro, Peralta and Bersamin, JJ., concur. We therefore decide that Congress sufficiently forewarned respondent that the statutory
consequence of twice conspiring to defraud the United States is deportation.”
Quisumbing, J., On Official Leave.
Significantly, the U.S. Congress has never exactly defined what amounts to a “crime involving
Brion, J., I concur with Separate Opinion.
moral turpitude.” The legislative history of statutes containing the moral turpitude standard
indicates that Congress left the interpretation of the term to U.S. courts and administrative
CONCURRING OPINION
agencies.8 In the absence of legislative history as interpretative aid, American courts have
BRION, J.: resorted to the dictionary definition—”the last resort of the baffled judge.”9 The most common
definition of moral turpitude is similar to one found in the early editions of Black’s Law
I fully concur with the ponencia of my esteemed colleague, Justice Consuelo Ynares-Santiago. I Dictionary:
add these views to further explore the term “moral turpitude”—a term that, while carrying far-
reaching effects, embodies a concept that to date has not been given much jurisprudential focus. “[An] act of baseness, vileness, or the depravity in private and social duties which man owes to
his fellow man, or to society in general, contrary to the accepted and customary rule of right and
I. Historical Roots duty between man and man. x x x Act or behavior that gravely violates moral sentiment or
accepted moral standards of community and is a morally culpable quality held to be present in
The term “moral turpitude” first took root under the United States (U.S.) immigration laws.1 Its some criminal offenses as distinguished from others. x x x The quality of a crime involving grave
history can be traced back as far as the 17th century when the States of Virginia and infringement of the moral sentiment of the community as distinguished from statutory mala
Pennsylvania enacted the earliest immigration resolutions excluding criminals from America, in prohibita.”10
response to the British government’s policy of sending convicts to the colonies. State legislators
at that time strongly suspected that Europe was deliberately exporting its human liabilities.2 In In the Philippines, the term moral turpitude was first introduced in 1901 in Act No. 190,
the U.S., the term “moral turpitude” first appeared in the Immigration Act of March 3, 1891, otherwise known as the Code of Civil Actions and Special Proceedings.11 The Act provided that a
which directed the exclusion of persons who have been convicted of a felony or other infamous member of the bar may be removed or suspended from his office as lawyer by the Supreme
crime or misdemeanor involving moral turpitude; this marked the first time the U.S. Congress Court upon conviction of a crime involving moral turpitude.12 Subsequently, the term “moral
used the term “moral turpitude” in immigration laws.3 Since then, the presence of moral turpitude” has been employed in statutes governing disqualifications of notaries public,13 priests
turpitude has been used as a test in a variety of situations, including legislation governing the and ministers in solemnizing marriages,14 registration to military service,15 exclusion16 and
disbarment of attorneys and the revocation of medical licenses. Moral turpitude also has been naturalization of aliens,17 discharge of the accused to be a state witness,18 admission to the
judicially used as a criterion in disqualifying and impeaching witnesses, in determining the bar,19 suspension and removal of elective local officials,20 and disqualification of persons from
measure of contribution between joint tortfeasors, and in deciding whether a certain language is running for any elective local position.21
slanderous.4
In Re Basa,22 a 1920 case, provided the first instance for the Court to define the term moral
In 1951, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled on the constitutionality of the term “moral turpitude” in turpitude in the context of Section 21 of the Code of Civil Procedure on the disbarment of a
Jordan v. De George.5 The case presented only one question: whether conspiracy to defraud the lawyer for conviction of a crime involving moral turpitude. Carlos S. Basa, a lawyer, was convicted
U.S. of taxes on distilled spirits is a crime involving moral turpitude within the meaning of Section of the crime of abduction with consent. The sole question presented was whether the crime of
19 (a) of the Immigration Act of 1919 (Immigration Act). Sam De George, an Italian immigrant abduction with consent, as punished by Article 446 of the Penal Code of 1887, involved moral
was convicted twice of conspiracy to defraud the U.S. government of taxes on distilled spirits. turpitude. The Court, finding no exact definition in the statutes, turned to Bouvier’s Law
Subsequently, the Board of Immigration Appeals ordered De George’s deportation on the basis Dictionary for guidance and held:
of the Immigration Act provision that allows the deportation of aliens who commit multiple
crimes involving moral turpitude. De George argued that he should not be deported because his “Moral turpitude,” it has been said, “includes everything which is done contrary to justice,
tax evasion crimes did not involve moral turpitude. The U.S. Supreme Court, through Chief honesty, modesty, or good morals.” (Bouvier’s Law Dictionary, cited by numerous courts.)
Although no decision can be found which has decided the exact question, it cannot admit of to be expected that a word which baffle judges will be more easily interpreted by laymen.33 This
doubt that crimes of this character involve moral turpitude. The inherent nature of the act is led Justice Jackson to conclude in Jordan that “moral turpitude offered judges no clearer
such that it is against good morals and the accepted rule of right conduct. guideline than their own consciences, inviting them to condemn all that we personally
disapprove and for no better reason than that we disapprove it.”34 This trait, however, cannot
Thus, early on, the Philippines followed the American lead and adopted a general dictionary be taken lightly, given that the consequences of committing a crime involving moral turpitude
definition, opening the way for a case-to-case approach in determining whether a crime involves can be severe.
moral turpitude.
Crimes Categorized as Crimes Involving
II. Problems with the Definition of Moral Turpitude
Moral Turpitude35
Through the years, the Court has never significantly deviated from the Black’s Law Dictionary
definition of moral turpitude as “an act of baseness, vileness, or depravity in the private duties Since the early 1920 case of In re Basa,36 the Court has maintained its case-by-case
which a man owes his fellow men, or to society in general, contrary to the accepted and categorization of crimes on the basis of moral turpitude and has labeled specific crimes as
customary rule of right and duty between man and woman, or conduct contrary to justice, necessarily involving moral turpitude. The following is a list,. United States; Albert v. California,
honesty, modesty, or good morals.”23 This definition is more specific than that used in In re 354 U.S. 476 (1957); Miller v. California, 413 U.S. 15 (1973) and Paris Adult Theatre I v. Slaton,
Vinzon24 where the term moral turpitude was considered as encompassing “everything which is 413 U.S. 49 (1973). Only a decade after Roth, Justice Harlan observed that “[t]he subject of
done contrary to justice, honesty, or good morals.”25 obscenity has produced a variety of views among the members of the Court unmatched in any
other course of constitutional adjudication.” As evidence, Justice Harlan noted that in the
In the U.S., these same definitions have been highly criticized for their vagueness and thirteen obscenity cases decided in the decade after Roth, there were “a total of 55 separate
ambiguity.26 In Jordan, Justice Jackson noted that “except for the Court’s [majority opinion], opinions among the Justices;” Geoffrey R. Stone, et al., Constitutional Law, 1255, (1996 ed.) citing
there appears to be a universal recognition that we have here an undefined and undefinable Interstate Circuit, Inc. v. Dallas, 390 U.S. 676, 704-705, 705 n.1 (1968) (Harlan, J., dissenting). not
standard.”27 Thus, the phrase “crimes involving moral turpitude” has been described as “vague,” necessarily complete, of the crimes adjudged to involve moral turpitude:
“nebulous,” “most unfortunate,” and even “bewildering.” Criticisms of moral turpitude as an
inexactly defined concept are not unwarranted. First, the current definition of the term is broad. 1. Abduction with consent37
It can be stretched to include most kinds of wrongs in society—a result that the Legislature could 2. Bigamy38
not have intended. This Court itself concluded in IRRI v. NLRC29 that moral turpitude “is 3. Concubinage39
4. Smuggling40
somewhat a vague and indefinite term, the meaning of which must be left to the process of
5. Rape41
judicial inclusion or exclusion as the cases are reached”—once again confirming, as late as 1993 6. Estafa through falsification of a document42
in IRRI, our case-by-case approach in determining the crimes involving moral turpitude. 7. Attempted Bribery43
8. Profiteering44
Second, the definition also assumes the existence of a universally recognized code for socially 9. Robbery45
acceptable behavior—the “private and social duties which man owes to his fellow man, or to 10. Murder, whether consummated or attempted46
society in general”; moral turpitude is an act violating these duties. The problem is that the 11. Estafa47
definition does not state what these duties are, or provide examples of acts which violate them. 12. Theft48
13. Illicit Sexual Relations with a Fellow Worker49
Instead, it provides terms such as “baseness,” “vileness,” and “depravity,” which better describe
14. Violation of BP Bldg. 2250
moral reactions to an act than the act itself. In essence, they are “conclusory but non-
15. Falsification of Document51
descriptive.”30 To be sure, the use of morality as a norm cannot be avoided, as the term “moral 16. Intriguing against Honor52
turpitude” contains the word “moral” and its direct connotation of right and wrong. “Turpitude,” 17. Violation of the Anti-Fencing Law53
on the other hand, directly means “depravity” which cannot be appreciated without considering 18. Violation of Dangerous Drugs Act of 1972 (Drug-pushing)54
an act’s degree of being right or wrong. Thus, the law, in adopting the term “moral turpitude,” 19. Perjury55
necessarily adopted a concept involving notions of morality—standards that involve a good 20. Forgery56
21. Direct Bribery57
measure of subjective consideration and, in terms of certainty and fixity, are far from the usual
22. Frustrated Homicide58
measures used in law.31
Zari v. Flores59 is one case that has provided jurisprudence its own list of crimes involving moral
Third, as a legal standard, moral turpitude fails to inform anyone of what it requires.32 It has
turpitude, namely: adultery, concubinage, rape, arson, evasion of income tax, barratry, bigamy,
been said that the loose terminology of moral turpitude hampers uniformity since … [i]t is hardly
blackmail, bribery, criminal conspiracy to smuggle opium, dueling, embezzlement, extortion, highly reputable according to prevailing social standards, have come more and more to resemble
forgery, libel, making fraudulent proof of loss on insurance contract, murder, mutilation of public it. Prohibition against gambling has had something of a police rather than a truly penal character.
records, fabrication of evidence, offenses against pension laws, perjury, seduction under the At all times an important fact in arousing antagonism in gambling has been the association,
promise of marriage, estafa, falsification of public document, and estafa thru falsification of almost inevitable, with sharp practice. In established societies more or less serious attempts are
public document.60 everywhere made, however, to prohibit or to regulate gambling in its more notorious forms.

Crimes Categorized as Crimes Not Involving It would appear that statutes permitting gambling, such as those under discussion, rest primarily
Moral Turpitude61 on the theory that they are in the interest of public policy: that is to regulate and restrict any
The Court, on the other hand, has also had the occasion to categorically rule that certain crimes possible abuse, to obviate cheating and other corrupt practices that may result if uncontrolled.”
do not involve moral turpitude, namely:
1. Minor transgressions of the law (i.e., conviction for speeding)62 From this ruling, the Court went on to conclude that gambling is a malum prohibitum that is not
2. Illegal recruitment63
intrinsically evil and, thus, is not a crime involving moral turpitude.
3. Slight physical injuries and carrying of deadly weapon (Illegal possession of firearms)64
4. Indirect Contempt65
With the same approach, but with a different result, is Office of the Court Administrator v.
III. Approaches and Standards. Librado,68 a case involving drug possession. Librado, a Deputy Sheriff in MTCC Iligan City was
convicted of possession of “shabu,” a prohibited drug. The Office of the Court Administrator
Even a cursory examination of the above-listed readily reveals that while the concept of “moral commenced an administrative case against him and he was subsequently suspended from office.
turpitude” does not have one specific definition that lends itself to easy and ready application, In his subsequent plea for reinstatement, the Court strongly denounced drug possession as an
the Court has been fairly consistent in its understanding and application of the term and has not “especially vicious crime, one of the most pernicious evils that has ever crept into our society…
significantly deviated from what it laid down in In re Basa. The key element, directly derived from For those who become addicted to it not only slide into the ranks of the living dead, what is
the word “turpitude,” is the standard of depravity viewed from a scale of right and wrong. worse, they become a grave menace to the safety of law abiding members of society.” The Court,
apparently drawing on what society deems important, held that the use of drugs amounted to an
The application of this depravity standard can be made from at least three perspectives or act so inherently evil that no law was needed to deem it as such; it is an evil without need for a
approaches, namely: from the objective perspective of the act itself, irrespective of whether or law to call it evil69—“an immoral act in itself regardless of whether it is In People v. Yambot,71
not the act is a crime; from the perspective of the crime itself, as defined through its elements; the Court categorically ruled that the possession of a deadly weapon does not involve moral
and from the subjective perspective that takes into account the perpetrator’s level of depravity turpitude since the act of carrying a weapon by itself is not inherently wrong in the absence of a
when he committed the crime. law punishing it. Likewise, the Court acknowledged in Court Administrator v. San Andres72 that
illegal recruitment does not involve moral turpitude since it is not in itself an evil act; it
The Court best expressed the first approach in Zari v. Flores66 where the Court saw the
considered recruitment an act in the usual course of business and is not illegal in the absence of
involvement of moral turpitude where an act is intrinsically immoral, regardless of whether it is
the a regulatory law. This ruling, of course, did not take into account the proud they usually
punishable by law or not. The Court emphasized that moral turpitude goes beyond being merely
accompanies present-day illegal recruitment activities.
mala prohibita; the act itself must be inherently immoral. Thus, this approach requires that the
committed act itself be examined, divorced from its characterization as a crime. The second approach is to look at the act committed through its elements as a crime, singling out
this element and largely evaluating it under the objective norms of the first approach. In Paras v.
A ruling that exemplifies this approach is that made in the U.S. case In The Matter of G---67
Vailoces,73 the Court recognized that as a “general rule, all crimes of which fraud is an element
where, in considering gambling, it was held that:
are looked on as involving moral turpitude.” This is the same conclusion that the U.S. Supreme
Court made in Jordan, i.e., that crimes requiring fraud or intent to defraud always involve moral
“Gambling has been in existence since time immemorial. Card playing for small stakes is a
turpitude.74
common accompaniment of social life; small bets on horse racing and the “policy or numbers
games” are diversions of the masses. That such enterprises exist surreptitiously is a matter of
Dela Torre v. Commission on Elections75 is a case in point that uses the second approach and is
common knowledge. Many countries permit it under a license system. In ancient times laws
one case where the Court even dispensed with the review of facts and circumstances
were enacted to discourage people from gambling on the theory that the State had first claim
surrounding the commission of the crime since Dela Torre did not assail his conviction. Dela
upon their time and energy, and at later dates antigambling laws were aimed especially at the
Torre was disqualified by the Comelec from running as Mayor of Cavinti, Laguna on the basis of
activity as practiced by the working classes. Present-day movements to suppress gambling are
his conviction for violation of Presidential Decree No. 1612, otherwise known as the Anti-Fencing
also tinged with other considerations. In urban communities in the past few decades the purely
Law. Dela Torre appealed to this Court to overturn his disqualification on the ground that the
religious opposition to gambling has tended to become less violent because certain activities,
crime of fencing is not a crime involving moral turpitude. The Court ruled that moral turpitude is
deducible from the third element. Actual knowledge by the fence of the fact that property The Court stressed, too, not only the subjective element, but the need for the appreciation of
received is stolen displays the same degree of malicious deprivation of one’s rightful property facts in considering whether moral turpitude exists—an unavoidable step under the third
that animates the crimes of robbery or theft-crimes that by their very nature involve moral approach. Thus, the Court explained:
turpitude.
“This is not to say that all convictions of the crime of homicide do not involve moral turpitude.
To be sure, the elements of the crime can be a critical factor in determining moral turpitude if Homicide may or may not involve moral turpitude depending on the degree of the crime. Moral
the second approach is used in the must of the listed crimes found to involve moral turpitude. In turpitude is not involved in every criminal act and is not shown by every known and intentional
Villaber v. Commission on Elections,76 the Court, by analyzing the elements alone of the offense violation of statute, but whether any particular conviction involves moral turpitude may be a
under Batas Pambansa Blg. 22, held that the “presence of the second element manifest moral question of fact and frequently depends on all the surrounding circumstances.” [Emphasis
turpitude” in that “a drawer who issues an unfunded check deliberately reneges on his private supplied]
duties he owes his fellow men or society in a manner contrary to accepted and customary rule of
right and duty, justice, honesty or good morals.” The same conclusion was reached by the Court In contrast, while IRRI refused to characterize the crime of homicide as one of moral turpitude,
in Magno v. Commission on Elections,77 when it ruled that direct bribery involves moral the recent case of Soriano v. Dizon80 held that based on the circumstances, the crime of
turpitude, thus: frustrated homicide committed by the respondent involved moral turpitude. In Soriano,
complainant Soriano filed a disbarment case against respondent Atty. Manuel Dizon alleging that
“Moral turpitude can be inferred from the third element. The fact that the offender agrees to the crime of frustrated homicide involves moral turpitude under the circumstances surrounding
accept a promise or gift and deliberately commits an unjust act or refrains from performing an its commission, and was a sufficient ground for his disbarment under Section 27 of Rule 138 of
official duty in exchange for some favors, denotes a malicious intent on the part of the offender the Rules of Court. The Court after noting the factual antecedents of IRRI held that—
to renege on the duties which he owes his fellowmen and society in general. Also, the fact that
the offender takes advantage of his office and position is a betrayal of the trust reposed on him “The present case is totally different. As the IBP correctly found, the circumstances clearly evince
by the public. It is a conduct clearly contrary to the accepted rules of right and duty, justice, the moral turpitude of respondent and his unworthiness to practice law. Atty. Dizon was
honesty and good morals. In all respects, direct bribery is a crime involving moral turpitude.” definitely the aggressor, as he pursued and shot complainant when the latter least expected it.
[Emphasis supplied] The act of aggression shown by respondent will not be mitigated by the fact that he was hit once
and his arm twisted by complainant. Under the circumstances, those were reasonable actions
The third approach, the subjective approach, essentially takes the offender and his acts into clearly intended to fend off the lawyer’s assault.
account in light of the attendant circumstances of the crime: was he or she personally motivated
by ill will indicating depravity? The Court apparently used this approach in Ao Lin v. Republic,78 a We also consider the trial court’s finding of treachery as a further indication of the skewed
1964 case, when it held “that the use of a meter stick without the corresponding seal of the morals of respondent. He shot the victim when the latter was not in a position to defend himself.
Internal Revenue Office by one who has been engaged in business for a long time, involves moral In fact, under the impression that the assault was already over, the unarmed complainant was
turpitude because it involves a fraudulent use of a meter stick, not necessarily because the merely returning the eyeglasses of Atty. Dizon when the latter unexpectedly shot him. To make
Government is cheated of the revenue involved in the sealing of the meter stick, but because it matters worse, respondent wrapped the handle of his gun with a handkerchief so as not to leave
manifests an evil intent on the part of the petitioner to defraud customers purchasing from him fingerprints. In so doing, he betrayed his sly intention to escape punishment for his crime.
in respect to the measurement of the goods purchased.”
The totality of the facts unmistakably bears the earmarks of moral turpitude. By his conduct,
In IRRI v. NLRC,79 the International Rice Research Institute terminated the employment contract respondent revealed his extreme arrogance and feeling of self-importance. As it were, he acted
of Nestor Micosa on the ground that he has been convicted of the crime of homicide—a crime like a god on the road, who deserved to be venerated and never to be slighted. Clearly, his
involving moral turpitude. The Court refused to characterize the crime of homicide as one of inordinate reaction to a simple traffic incident reflected poorly on his fitness to be a member of
moral turpitude in light of the circumstances of its commission. The Court ruled: the legal profession. His overreaction also evinced vindictiveness, which was definitely an
undesirable trait in any individual, more so in a lawyer. In the tenacity with which he pursued
“These facts show that Micosa’s intention was not to slay the victim but only to defend his complainant, we see not the persistence of a person who has been grievously wronged, but the
person. The appreciation in his favor of the mitigating circumstances of self-defense and obstinacy of one trying to assert a false sense of superiority and to exact revenge.”81 [Emphasis
voluntary surrender, plus the total absence of any aggravating circumstances demonstrate that supplied]
Micosa’s character and intentions were not inherently vile, immoral or unjust. [italics supplied].”
Laguitan v. Tinio,82 expressed in terms of the protection of the sanctity of marriage,83 also
necessarily looked at the subjective element because the offender’s concubinage involved an
assault on the basic social institution of marriage. Another subjective element case, in terms of
looking at the damage wrought by the offender’s act, is People v. Jamero84 where the Court From the Perspective of the Elements of the Crime
disregarded the appellants’ argument that the trial court erred in ordering the discharge of
Inocencio Retirado from the Information in order to make him a state witness, since he has been Under this approach, we determine whether a crime involves moral turpitude based solely on
previously convicted of the crime of malicious mischief—a crime involving moral turpitude. The our analysis of the elements of the crime alone.
Court said:
The essential elements of the offense of possession of prohibited interest (Section 3(h) of the
“In the absence of any evidence to show the gravity and the nature of the malicious mischief Anti-Graft Law) for which the petitioner was convicted are:
committed, We are not in a position to say whether or not the previous conviction of malicious
1. The accused is a public officer;
mischief proves that accused had displayed the baseness, the vileness and the depravity which
2. He has a direct or indirect financial or pecuniary interest in any business, contract or
constitute moral turpitude. And considering that under paragraph 3 of Article 329 of the Revised transaction; and
Penal Code, any deliberate act (not constituting arson or other crimes involving destruction) 3. He is prohibited from having such interest by the Constitution or any law.
causing damage in the property of another, may constitute the crime of malicious mischief, We
should not make haste in declaring that such crime involves moral turpitude without From the perspective of moral turpitude, the third element of the crime is the critical element.
determining, at least, the value of the property destroyed and/or the circumstances under which An analysis of this element, significantly using the objective norms of the first approach, shows
the act of destroying was committed.”85 [Emphasis supplied] that the holding of interest that the law covers is not a conduct clearly contrary to the accepted
rules of right and duty, justice, honesty and good morals; it is illegal solely because of the
We conclude from all these considerations that in some crimes, the application of the third prohibition that exists in law or in the Constitution. Thus, no depravity immediately leaps up or
approach is critical so that a close factual consideration of the attendant circumstances is suggests itself based on the elements of the crime committed.
necessary to arrive at a conclusion. This conclusion in turn implies that in some cases the use of
the first two approaches may not be conclusive, or at least, may lead to results that may still be The Subjective Approach
affected by the results of the third approach.
This approach is mainly the mode the ponencia used to arrive at its conclusion that no moral
In sum, a survey of jurisprudence from the earliest case of In Re Basa86 to the recent case of turpitude is involved, as it expressly stated that “a determination of all surrounding
Soriano v. Dizon87 shows that the Court has used varying approaches, but used the same circumstances of the violation of the statute must be considered.”90
standard or measure—the degree of attendant depravity. The safest approach to avoid being
misled in one’s conclusion is to apply all three approaches, if possible, and to evaluate the results In this determination, the ponencia firstly considered that the petitioner did not use his official
from each of the approaches. A useful caveat in the evaluation is to resolve any doubt in favor of capacity in connection with the interest in the cockpit, he did not likewise hide this interest by
the perpetrator, as a conclusion of moral turpitude invariably signifies a worse consequence for transferring it to his wife, as the transfer took effect before the effectivity of the law prohibiting
him or her. the possession of interest. The ponencia significantly noted, too, that the violation was not
intentionally committed in a manner contrary to justice, modesty, or good morals, but due
IV. The Approaches Applied to TEVES simply to Teves’ lack of awareness or ignorance of the prohibition. This last consideration, in my
view, is the clinching argument that no moral turpitude can be involved as no depravity can be
The Objective Approach gleaned where intent is clearly absent.

The crime for which petitioner Teves was convicted (possession of pecuniary or financial interest Conclusion
in a cockpit) is, at its core, related to gambling—an act that by contemporary community
standards is not per se immoral. Other than the ruling heretofore cited on this point,88 judicial To recapitulate, all three approaches point to the conclusion that no moral turpitude was
notice can be taken of state-sponsored gambling activities in the country that, although not involved in the crime Teves committed, with the predominant reasons being the first (or
without controversy, is generally regarded to be within acceptable moral limits. The ponencia objective) and the third (or subjective) approaches. Analyzed under my recommended structure
correctly noted that prior to the enactment of the Local Government Code of 1991, mere of analysis with one approach reinforcing another, CONCURRENCE with the ponencia’s reasoning
possession by a public officer of pecuniary interest in a cockpit was not expressly prohibited. This and conclusion is inevitable.
bit of history alone is an indicator that, objectively, no essential depravity is involved even from
the standards of a holder of a public office. This reasoning led the ponencia to conclude that “its Petition granted, assailed resolutions reversed and set aside.
illegality does not mean that violation thereof . . . makes such possession of interest inherently
Notes.—The Local Government Code, which specifically prohibits local government officials from
immoral.”89
possessing pecuniary interest in a cockpit licensed by the local government unit and which, in
itself, prescribes the punishment for violation thereof, is paramount to the Anti-Graft Law, which
penalizes possession of prohibited interest in a general manner. (Teves vs. Sandiganbayan, 447
SCRA 309 [2004])

The qualifying phrase “any law to the contrary notwithstanding” in Section 447(a)(3)(v) of the
Local Government Code serves notice that it is the sangguniang bayan concerned alone which
has the power to authorize and license the establishment, operation and maintenance of
cockpits, and regulate cockfighting and commercial breeding of gamecocks within its territorial
jurisdiction. But while the sanggunian retains the power to authorize and license the
establishment, operation, and maintenance of cockpits, its discretion is limited in that it cannot
authorize more than one cockpit per city or municipality, unless such cities or municipalities have
a population of over one hundred thousand, in which case two cockpits may be established. (Tan
vs. Pereña, 452 SCRA 53 [2005])

The act of a person in issuing a check knowing at the time of the issuance that he or she does not
have sufficient funds in, or credit with, the drawee bank for the payment of the check in full upon
its presentment, is also a manifestation of moral turpitude. Moral turpitude includes everything
which is done contrary to justice, honesty, modesty, or good morals. (Moreno vs. Araneta, 457
SCRA 329 [2005])

——o0o——

© Copyright 2016 Central Book Supply, Inc. All rights reserved. Teves vs. Commission on
Elections, 587 SCRA 1, G.R. No. 180363 April 28, 2009
G.R. No. 138298. November 29, 2000.* House of Representatives has standing to maintain inviolate the prerogatives, powers and
privileges vested by the Constitution in his office.
RAOUL B. DEL MAR, petitioner, vs. PHILIPPINE AMUSEMENT AND GAMING CORPORATION,
BELLE JAI-ALAI CORPORATION, FILIPINAS GAMING ENTERTAINMENT TOTALIZATOR Gambling; Philippine Amusement and Gaming Corporation (PAGCOR); Jai Alai; Franchises; The
CORPORATION, respondents. charter of PAGCOR does not give it any franchise to operate and manage jai-alai.—After hurdling
the threshold procedural issues, we now come to the decisive substantive issue of whether
G.R. No. 138982. November 29, 2000.* PAGCOR’s legislative franchise includes the right to manage and operate jai-alai. The issue is of
supreme significance for its incorrect resolution can dangerously diminish the plenary legislative
FEDERICO S. SANDOVAL II and MICHAEL T. DEFENSOR, petitioners, vs. PHILIPPINE AMUSEMENT
power of Congress, more especially its exercise of police power to protect the morality of our
AND GAMING CORPORATION, respondent. JUAN MIGUEL ZUBIRI, intervenor.
people. After a circumspect consideration of the clashing positions of the parties, we hold that
the charter of PAGCOR does not give it any franchise to operate and manage jai-alai.
Actions; Pleadings and Practice; Jurisdiction; Injunctions; Supreme Court; It is axiomatic that
what determines the nature of an action and hence, the jurisdiction of the court, are the
Same; Same; Same; Same; History of Jai Alai in the Philippines.—The game was introduced to the
allegations of the pleading and the character of the relief sought; Even assuming, arguendo, that
country during the Spanish colonial period. The first games were played at a fronton in Numancia
the petition filed before the Supreme Court is an action for injunction, the Court has the
Street, Binondo, Manila. In 1917, the games were moved to a larger fronton at the corner of Taft
discretionary power to take cognizance of the petition at bar if compelling reasons, or the nature
Avenue and San Luis Street in Ermita where it gained popularity. From a plain sport, jai-alai
and importance of the issues raised, warrant the immediate exercise of its jurisdiction.—It is
became a form of gambling when the Philippine Legislature issued a franchise legalizing betting
axiomatic that what determines the nature of an action and hence, the jurisdiction of the court,
in June 1939. The fronton was then operated by the Madrigals, a family close to Commonwealth
are the allegations of the pleading and the character of the relief sought. A cursory perusal of the
President Manuel Quezon. Devastated by World War II, the fronton was rebuilt in 1948. During
petition filed in G.R. No. 138982 will show that it is actually one for Prohibition under Section 2 of
the term of President Marcos, the jai-alai franchise was granted to the Romualdez family. After
Rule 65 for it seeks to prevent PAGCOR from managing, maintaining and operating jaialai games.
the EDSA revolution, the Aquino administration closed down jai-alai. Then, in 1994, during the
Even assuming, arguendo, that it is an action for injunction, this Court has the discretionary
term of President Ramos, the Associated Development Corporation (ADC) revived the games at a
power to take cognizance of the petition at bar if compelling reasons, or the nature and
new location in Harrison Plaza, Manila. However, after only a few months of operation, this Court
importance of the issues raised, warrant the immediate exercise of its jurisdiction. It cannot be
ruled that a congressional franchise was required for the games.
gainsaid that the issues raised in the present petitions have generated an oasis of concern, even
days of disquiet in view of the public interest at stake. Same; Same; Same; Same; Police Power; Words and Phrases; A “franchise” is a special privilege
conferred upon a corporation or individual by a government duly empowered legally to grant it, a
Same; Taxpayer’s Suits; Parties; Locus Standi; A party suing as a taxpayer must specifically prove
privilege of public concern which cannot be exercised at will and pleasure, but should be
that he has sufficient interest in preventing the illegal expenditure of money raised by taxation.—
reserved for public control and administration, either by the government directly, or by public
Respondents’ stance is not without oven ready legal support. A party suing as a taxpayer must
agents, under such conditions and regulations as the government may impose on them in the
specifically prove that he has sufficient interest in preventing the illegal expenditure of money
interest of the public.—A “franchise” is a special privilege conferred upon a corporation or
raised by taxation. In essence, taxpayers are allowed to sue where there is a claim of illegal
individual by a government duly empowered legally to grant it. It is a privilege of public concern
disbursement of public funds, or that public money is being deflected to any improper purpose,
which cannot be exercised at will and pleasure, but should be reserved for public control and
or where petitioners seek to restrain respondent from wasting public funds through the
administration, either by the government directly, or by public agents, under such conditions and
enforcement of an invalid or unconstitutional law.
regulations as the government may impose on them in the interest of the public. A franchise thus
emanates from a sovereign power and the grant is inherently a legislative power. It may,
Same; Same; Same; Same; It is now settled that a member of the House of Representatives has
however, be derived indirectly from the state through an agency to which the power has been
standing to maintain inviolate the prerogatives, powers and privileges vested by the Constitution
clearly and validly delegated. In such cases, Congress prescribes the conditions on which the
in his office.—Be that as it may, in line with the liberal policy of this Court on locus standi when a
grant of a franchise may be made. Thus, the manner of granting the franchise, to whom it may be
case involves an issue of overarching significance to our society, we find and so hold that as
granted, the mode of conducting the business, the character and quality of the service to be
members of the House of Representatives, petitioners have legal standing to file the petitions at
rendered and the duty of the grantee to the public in exercising the franchise are almost always
bar. In the instant cases, petitioners complain that the operation of jai-alai constitutes an
defined in clear and unequivocal language. In the absence of these defining terms, any claim to a
infringement by PAGCOR of the legislature’s exclusive power to grant franchise. To the extent
legislative franchise to operate a game played for bets and denounced as a menace to morality
the powers of Congress are impaired, so is the power of each member thereof, since his office
ought to be rejected.
confers a right to participate in the exercise of the powers of that institution, so petitioners
contend. The contention commands our concurrence for it is now settled that a member of the
Same; Same; Same; Same; Same; Statutes; It is abundantly clear from the previous laws, doubt must be resolved against the grant. The legislature is regarded as the guardian of society,
executive orders and decrees that the legislative practice is that a franchise to operate jai-alai is and therefore is not presumed to disable itself or abandon the discharge of its duty. Thus, courts
granted solely for that purpose and the terms and conditions of the grant are unequivocably do not assume that the legislature intended to part away with its power to regulate public
defined by the grantor.—-It is abundantly clear from the aforequoted laws, executive orders and morals. The presumption is influenced by constitutional considerations. Constitutions are widely
decrees that the legislative practice is that a franchise to operate jai-alai is granted solely for that understood to withhold from legislatures any authority to bargain away their police power for
purpose and the terms and conditions of the grant are unequivocably defined by the grantor. the power to protect the public interest is beyond abnegation.
Such express grant and its conditionalities protective of the public interest are evidently wanting
in P.D. No. 1869, the present Charter of PAGCOR. Same; Same; Same; Same; Same; Same; A statute which legalizes a gambling activity or business
should be strictly construed and every reasonable doubt must be resolved to limit the powers
Thus, while E.O. 135 and P.D. No. 810 provided for the apportionment of the wager funds or and rights claimed under its authority.—It is stressed that the case at bar does not involve a
gross receipts from the sale of betting tickets, as well as the distribution of dividends among franchise to operate a public utility (such as water, transportation, communication or
holders of “win” or “place” numbers or holders of the winning combination or grouping of electricity)—the operation of which undoubtedly redounds to the benefit of the general public.
numbers, no such provisions can be found in P.D. No. 1869. Likewise, while P.D. No. 810 What is claimed is an alleged legislative grant of a gambling franchise—a franchise to operate jai-
describes where and how the games are to be conducted and bettings to be made, and imposes alai. A statute which legalizes a gambling activity or business should be strictly construed and
a penalty in case of a violation thereof, such provisions are absent in P.D. No. 1869. every reasonable doubt must be resolved to limit the powers and rights claimed under its
authority.
Same; Same; Same; Same; Same; Same; Statutory Construction; P.D. No. 1869 does not have the
standard marks of a law granting a franchise to operate jai-alai as those found under P.D. No. 810 Same; Same; Same; Same; Same; Same; Statutory Construction; It is widely acknowledged that a
or E.O. 135; There is no reason to resist the beguiling rule that acts of incorporation, and statutes statute is ambiguous when it is capable of being understood by reasonably well-informed
granting other franchises or special benefits or privileges to corporations, are to be construed persons in either of two or more senses.—We reject this simplistic reading of the law considering
strictly against the corporations; and whatever is not given in unequivocal terms is understood to the social, moral and public policy implications embedded in the cases at bar. The plain meaning
be withheld.—In fine, P.D. No. 1869 does not have the standard marks of a law granting a rule used in the dissent rests on the assumption that there is no ambiguity or obscurity in the
franchise to operate jai-alai as those found under P.D. No. 810 or E.O. 135. We cannot blink away language of the law. The fact, however, that the statute admits of different interpretations is the
from the stubborn reality that P.D. No. 1869 deals with details pertinent alone to the operation best evidence that the statute is vague and ambiguous. It is widely acknowledged that a statute
of gambling casinos. It prescribes the rules and regulations concerning the operation of gambling is ambiguous when it is capable of being understood by reasonably well-informed persons in
casinos such as the place, time, persons who are and are not entitled to play, tax exemptions, either of two or more senses. In the cases at bar, it is difficult to see how a literal reading of the
use of foreign exchange, and the exemption of casino employees from the coverage of the Civil statutory text would unerringly reveal the legislative intent. To be sure, the term “jai-alai” was
Service Law and the Labor Code. The short point is that P.D. No. 1869 does not have the usual never used and is nowhere to be found in the law. The conclusion that it is included in the
provisions with regards to jai-alai. The logical inference is that PAGCOR was not given a franchise franchise granted to PAGCOR cannot be based on a mere cursory perusal of and a blind reliance
to operate jai-alai frontons. There is no reason to resist the beguiling rule that acts of on the ordinary and plain meaning of the statutory terms used such as “gaming pools” and
incorporation, and statutes granting other franchises or special benefits or privileges to “lotteries.” Sutherland tells us that a statute is “ambiguous,” and so open to explanation by
corporations, are to be construed strictly against the corporations; and whatever is not given in extrinsic aids, not only when its abstract meaning or the connotation of its terms is uncertain, but
unequivocal terms is understood to be withheld. also when it is uncertain in its application to, or effect upon, the fact-situation of the case at bar.

Same; Same; Same; Same; Same; Same; Words and Phrases; The phrase “affected with public Same; Same; Same; Same; Same; Same; Presidential Decrees; Legislative Power; The so-called
interest” means that an industry is subject to control for the public good, and has been legislative grant to PAGCOR did not come from a real Congress and it is therefore self-evident
considered as the equivalent of “subject to the exercise of the police power”; Constitutions are that there is a need to be extra cautious in treating this alleged grant of a franchise as a grant by
widely understood to withhold from legislatures any authority to bargain away their police the legislature, as a grant by the representatives of our people, for plainly it is not.—There is
power for the power to protect the public interest is beyond abnegation.—Lest the idea gets lost another reason why PAGCOR’s claim to a legislative grant of a franchise to operate jai-alai should
in the shoals of our subconsciousness, let us not forget that PAGCOR is engaged in business be subjected to stricter scrutiny. The so-called legislative grant to PAGCOR did not come from a
affected with public interest. The phrase “affected with public interest” means that an industry is real Congress. It came from President Marcos who assumed legislative powers under martial law.
subject to control for the public good; it has been considered as the equivalent of “subject to the The grant is not the result of deliberations of the duly elected representatives of our people. This
exercise of the police power.” Perforce, a legislative franchise to operate jai-alai is imbued with is not to assail President Marcos’ legislative powers granted by Amendment No. 6 of the 1973
public interest and involves an exercise of police power. The familiar rule is that laws which grant Constitution, as the dissent would put it. It is given that in the exercise of his legislative power,
the right to exercise a part of the police power of the state are to be construed strictly and any President Marcos legally granted PAGCOR’s franchise to operate gambling casinos. The validity of
this franchise to operate gambling casinos is not, however, the issue in the cases at bar. The issue cited rule as to the jurisdiction of this Court to entertain original actions for injunction. In the
is whether this franchise to operate gambling casinos includes the privilege to operate jai-alai. 1917 case of Madarang vs. Santamaria, we have ruled that the Supreme Court does not have
PAGCOR says it does. We hold that it does not. PAGCOR’s overarching claim should be given the original jurisdiction, in an action brought for that purpose, to grant the remedy by injunction
strictest scrutiny because it was granted by one man who governed when the country was under pursuant to Section 17 of Act No. 136 which provided that the Supreme Court shall have original
martial law and whose governance was repudiated by our people in EDSA 1986. The reason for jurisdiction to issue writs of mandamus, certiorari, prohibition, habeas corpus and quo warranto.
this submission is rooted in the truth that PAGCOR’s franchise was not granted by a real Congress As in Section 17 of Act 136, Section 1 of Rule 56 of the 1997 Rules of Civil Procedure has likewise
where the passage of a law requires a more rigorous process in terms of floor deliberations and not made any provision for the granting of the writ of injunction, as an original action, in the
voting by members of both the House and the Senate. It is self-evident that there is a need to be Supreme Court. Hence, the rule that this Court does not have jurisdiction over original actions for
extra cautious in treating this alleged grant of a franchise as a grant by the legislature, as a grant injunction still holds. This Court may, however, issue preliminary writs of injunction in cases on
by the representatives of our people, for plainly it is not. We now have a real Congress and it is appeal before Us or in original actions commenced therein pursuant to Section 2 of Rule 58 of
best to let Congress resolve this issue considering its policy ramifications on public order and the 1997 Rules of Civil Procedure.
morals.
Gambling; Franchises; Philippine Amusement and Gaming Corporation; A cursory reading of
DAVIDE, JR., C.J., Separate Opinion: Section 11 of P.O. No. 1869 would readily show that the extent and nature of PAGCOR’s franchise
is so broad that literally all kinds of sports and gaming pools, including jai alai, are covered
Gambling; Franchises; Philippine Amusement and Gaming Corporation; My reading of the charter therein.—Section 11 of P.D. No. 1869 defining the extent and nature of PAGCOR’s franchise
of the PAGCOR fails to disclose a grant of a congressional authority to allow betting on the results reads: x x x the Corporation is hereby granted x x x the rights, privilege, and authority to operate
of jai alai—all that the PAGCOR may do is operate and conduct the jai alai, but in no case can it and maintain gambling casinos, clubs, and other recreation or amusement places, sports, gaming
allow betting on the results thereof without obtaining a statutory authority for the purpose.—My pools, i.e., basketball, football, lotteries, etc. x x x [italics supplied] Contrary to the majority
reading of the charter of the PAGCOR fails to disclose a grant of a congressional authority to opinion that PAGCOR’s franchise is limited only to the management and operation of casinos, a
allow betting on the results of jai-alai. Accordingly, all that the PAGCOR may do is operate and cursory reading of the above-quoted legal provision would readily show that the extent and
conduct the jai-alai, but in no case can it allow betting on the results thereof without obtaining a nature of PAGCOR’s franchise is so broad that literally all kinds of sports and gaming pools,
statutory authority for the purpose. including jai alai, are covered therein.

VITUG, J., Separate Opinion: Same; Same; Same; Words and Phrases; A sport is defined as “a game or contest especially when
involving individual skill or prowess on which money is staked,” while gaming, on the other hand,
Gambling; Franchises; Philippine Amusement and Gaming Corporation; While PAGCOR is allowed
is defined as “the act or practice of playing games for stakes.”—A sport is defined as “a game or
under its charter to enter into agreements in its authorized operations, that power, upon the
contest especially when involving individual skill or prowess on which money is staked.” Gaming,
other hand, cannot be so construed as to permit it to likewise grant a veritable franchise to any
on the other hand, is defined as “the act or practice of playing games for stakes.” P.D. No. 1869
other person, individual or firm.—PAGCOR has entered into a joint venture agreement with Belle
has made express mention of basketball and football as example of gaming pools. Basketball and
Jai Alai Corporation (“BELLE”) and Filipinas Gaming Entertainment Totalizator Corporation
football, however, like jai alai are games of skills. In U.S. vs. Hilario, the distinction between
(“FILGAME”) in the operation and management of jai alai games. The two firms, under the
games of chance and games of skill was treated in this wise: This distinction between games of
agreement, would also furnish the jai-alai fronton facilities. I see in the joint venture agreement a
chance and games of skill, making betting upon the former illegal is quite well treated in State vs.
situation that places BELLE and FILGAME in active endeavor with PAGCOR in conducting jai alai
Gupton (30 N.C. 271) where a game of tenpins was held not to be a game of chance, but a game
games. Without a congressional franchise of its own, neither BELLE nor FILGAME can lawfully
depending chiefly upon the skill of players, and betting thereon consequently not prohibited by a
engage into the activity. Thus, in Lim vs. Pacquing, this Court held that Associated Development
statute prohibiting bets or wagers upon games of chances.
Corporation, having had no franchise from Congress to operate the jai alai, could not do so even
if it had a license or permit from the city mayor to operate that game in the City of Manila. While Same; Same; Same; Statutory Construction; Considering that under Section 11 of P.D. No. 1869,
PAGCOR is allowed under its charter to enter into agreements in its authorized operations, that games of skill like basketball and football have been lumped together with the word “lotteries”
power, upon the other hand, cannot be so construed as to permit it to likewise grant a veritable just before the word “etc.” and after the words “gaming pools,” it may be deduced from the
franchise to any other person, individual or firm. wording of the law that when bets or stakes are made in connection with games of skill, they
may be classified as games of chance under the coverage of PAGCOR’s franchise; Jai alai,
DE LEON, JR., J., Dissenting Opinion:
otherwise known as “game of Basque pelota,” while in itself is not per se a game of chance, may
be categorized as a game of chance when bets are accepted as a form of gambling.—Considering
Actions; Supreme Court; Injunctions; The rule that the Supreme Court does not have jurisdiction
that under Section 11 of P.D. No. 1869, games of skill like basketball and football have been
over original actions for injunction still holds.—It is clear that no mention was made in the above-
lumped together with the word “lotteries” just before the word “etc.” and after the words franchise, I find no reason why the operations of jai alai cannot be deemed as included in its
“gaming pools,” it may be deduced from the wording of the law that when bets or stakes are franchise. Besides, the subsequent repeal of P.D. Nos. 810 and 1124 in 1986 by E.O. No. 610 only
made in connection with games of skill, they may be classified as games of chance under the meant that PJAC was no longer entitled to exercise its rights under its former franchise. E.O. No.
coverage of PAGCOR’s franchise. The meaning of the phrase “et cetera” or its abbreviation “etc.” 610, otherwise known as Repealing Presidential Decree No. 810, entitled “An Act Granting the
depends largely on the context of the instrument, description and enumeration of the matters Philippine Jai Alai and Amusement Corporation a Franchise to Operate, Construct and Maintain a
preceding the term and subject matter to which it is applied, and when used in a statute, the Fronton for Basque Pelota and Similar Games of Skill in the Greater Manila Area,” as amended,
words should be given their usual and natural signification. Consequently, jai alai, otherwise and Accordingly Revoking and Canceling the Right, Privilege and Authority granted therein in
known as “game of Basque pelota,” while in itself is not per se a game of chance, may be itself did not delimit the scope of the franchise of PAGCOR especially since E.O. No. 610 was
categorized as a game of chance when bets are accepted as a form of gambling. It is a cardinal specific enough to identify the repeal of the law (P.D. No. 810) granting a certain franchise, i.e.
rule of statutory construction that when words and phrases of a statute are clear and PJAC’s franchise. As regards P.D. No. 1602, it should be stressed that it did not outlaw the
unequivocal, their meaning must be determined from the language employed and the statute operations of jai alai. It merely provided for stiffer penalties for illegal or unauthorized activities
must be taken to mean exactly what it says. Even if the Court is fully persuaded that the related to jai alai and other forms of gambling.
legislature really meant and intended something different from what it enacted, and that the
failure to convey the real meaning was due to inadvertence or mistake in the use of language, Same; Same; Same; Statutes; Statutory Construction; In the interpretation of statutes, it is not
yet, if the words chosen by the legislature are not obscure or ambiguous, but convey a precise proper or permissible to inquire into the motives which influenced the legislative body, except
and sensible meaning (excluding the case of obvious clerical errors or elliptical forms of insofar as such motives are disclosed by the statute itself.—As regards the issue that it could not
expression), then the Court must take the law as it finds it, and give it its literal interpretation, have been the intent of then President Marcos to grant PAGCOR a franchise to operate jai alai
without being influenced by the probable legislative meaning lying at the back of the words. In considering that he had already issued to another corporation which is controlled by his in-laws a
that event, the presumption that the legislature meant what it said, though it be contrary to the franchise to operate jai alai, suffice it to say that in the interpretation of statutes, it is not proper
fact, is conclusive. or permissible to inquire into the motives which influenced the legislative body, except insofar as
such motives are disclosed by the statute itself. It should be stressed that the magnitude of the
Same; Same; Same; Same; Where the franchise contains no words either defining or limiting the consideration, political or financial, which may operate upon the legislative mind as an
powers which the holder may exercise, such holder has, by implication, all such powers as are inducement for grants and franchises conferred by statute, do not change the character of the
reasonably necessary to enable it to accomplish the purposes and object of its creation.—While legislation, or vary the rule of construction by which the rights of the grantees must be
there is no specific mention of jai alai as among the games of chance which PAGCOR can operate measured.
under its franchise, the language of the law defining the scope of PAGCOR’s franchise is broad
enough to include the operations of jai alai as a game of chance. Where the franchise contains no Same; Same; Same; Same; The powers granted to PAGCOR is broad enough to include the power
words either defining or limiting the powers which the holder may exercise, such holder has, by to enter into a joint venture agreement with private corporations relating to the operation,
implication, all such powers as are reasonably necessary to enable it to accomplish the purposes management and conduct not only of gambling casinos but also of those relating to jai alai as
and object of its creation. It is well recognized that the principle of strict construction does not legalized gambling.—Clearly, in Section 11 of P.D. No. 1869, the powers granted to PAGCOR is
preclude a fair and reasonable interpretation of such charter and franchises, nor does it justify broad enough to include the power to enter into a joint venture agreement with private
withholding that which satisfactorily appears to have been intended to be conveyed to the corporations like BELLE and FILGAME relating to the operation, management and conduct not
grantee. only of gambling casinos but also of those relating to jai alai as legalized gambling.

Same; Same; Same; The mere granting of a franchise does not amount to an implied contract on Same; Same; Same; Same; Separation of Powers; While jai alai, as a form of legalized gambling,
the part of the grantor that it will not grant a rival franchise to a competing corporation or enter does not promote good morals, it is expected to provide entertainment to the public and much
into a competition itself in reference to the subject of the franchise—monopoly is not an needed revenues to the government, and in balancing these two apparently conflicting interests,
essential element of a franchise and the strictly legal signification of the term franchise is not courts are not supposed to pass upon and do not pass upon questions of wisdom or expediency
always confined to exclusive rights.—The mere granting of a franchise does not amount to an of legislation, for it is not within their province to supervise and keep legislation within the
implied contract on the part of the grantor that it will not grant a rival franchise to a competing bounds of propriety.—Finally, while on one hand, jai alai, as a form of legalized gambling under
corporation or enter into a competition itself in reference to the subject of the franchise. the control and supervision of PAGCOR, does not promote good morals, on the other hand it is
Monopoly is not an essential feature of a franchise and the strictly legal signification of the term expected to provide entertainment to the public and much needed revenues to the government.
franchise is not always confined to exclusive rights. An examination of the provisions of P.D. No. In balancing those two apparently conflicting interests, it must be stressed that courts are not
810 does not give us any indication that the franchise granted to PJAC to operate jai alai is supposed to pass upon and do not pass upon questions of wisdom or expediency of legislation,
exclusive in character. Given the broad language of P.D. 1869 defining the scope of PAGCOR’s for it is not within their province to supervise and keep legislation within the bounds of propriety.
That is primarily and exclusively a legislative concern. Any shortcoming of a statute is for the Thus, on August 10, 1999, petitioner Del Mar filed a Supplemental Petition for Certiorari
legislature alone to correct by appropriate enactment. questioning the validity of said Agreement on the ground that PAGCOR is without jurisdiction,
legislative franchise, authority or power to enter into such Agreement for the opening,
SPECIAL CIVIL ACTION in the Supreme Court. Quo Warranto. establishment, operation, control and management of jai-alai games.

The facts are stated in the opinion of the Court. A little earlier, or on July 1, 1999, petitioners Federico S. Sandoval II and Michael T. Defensor filed
a Petition for Injunction, docketed as G.R. No. 138982, which seeks to enjoin respondent
Policarpio, Concepcion, Sison and Mendoza for petitioners.
PAGCOR from operating or otherwise managing the jai-alai or Basque pelota games by itself or in
joint venture with Belle Corporation, for being patently illegal, having no basis in the law or the
Ocampo, Manalo & Ureta for intervenors.
Constitution, and in usurpation of the authority that properly pertains to the legislative branch of
Herrera, Teehankee & Faylona for Belle Jai-Alai Corp. and Filipinas Gaming Entertainment the government. In this case, a Petition in Intervention was filed by Juan Miguel Zubiri alleging
Totalizator Corp. that the operation by PAGCOR of jai-alai is illegal because it is not included in the scope of
PAGCOR’s franchise which covers only games of chance.
The Government Corporate Counsel for respondent PAGCOR.
Petitioners Raoul B. del Mar, Federico S. Sandoval II, Michael T. Defensor, and intervenor Juan
PUNO, J.: Miguel Zubiri, are suing as taxpayers and in their capacity as members of the House of
Representatives representing the First District of Cebu City, the Lone Congressional District of
These two consolidated petitions concern the issue of whether the franchise granted to the Malabon-Navotas, the Third Congressional District of Quezon City, and the Third Congressional
Philippine Amusement and Gaming Corporation (PAGCOR) includes the right to manage and District of Bukidnon, respectively.
operate jai-alai.
The bedrock issues spawned by the petitions at bar are:
First, we scour the significant facts. The Philippine Amusement and Gaming Corporation is a
government-owned and controlled corporation organized and existing under Presidential Decree Petitioner Del Mar raises the following issues:
No. 1869 which was enacted on July 11, 1983. Pursuant to Sections 1 and 10 of P.D. No. 1869,
respondent PAGCOR requested for legal advice from the Secretary of Justice as to whether or not I. The respondent PAGCOR has no jurisdiction or legislative franchise or acted with grave abuse
it is authorized by its Charter to operate and manage jai-alai frontons in the country. In its of discretion, tantamount to lack or excess of jurisdiction, in arrogating unto itself the authority
Opinion No. 67, Series of 1996 dated July 15, 1996, the Secretary of Justice opined that “the or power to open, pursue, conduct, operate, control and manage jai-alai game operations in the
authority of PAGCOR to operate and maintain games of chance or gambling extends to jai-alai country.
which is a form of sport or game played for bets and that the Charter of PAGCOR amounts to a
II. x x x Respondent PAGCOR has equally no jurisdiction or authority x x x in executing its
legislative franchise for the purpose.”1 Similar favorable opinions were received by PAGCOR from
agreement with co-respondents Belle and Filgame for the conduct and management of jai-alai
the Office of the Solicitor General per its letter dated June 3, 1996 and the Office of the
game operations, upon undue reliance on an opinion of the Secretary of Justice.
Government Corporate Counsel under its Opinion No. 150 dated June 14, 1996.2 Thus, PAGCOR
started the operation of jai-alai frontons.
III. x x x Respondent PAGCOR has equally no jurisdiction or authority x x x in entering into a
partnership, joint venture or business arrangement with its co-respondents Belle and Filgame,
On May 6, 1999, petitioner Raoul B. del Mar initially filed in G.R. No. 138298 a Petition for
through their agreement x x x. The Agreement was entered into through manifest partiality and
Prohibition to prevent respondent PAGCOR from managing and/or operating the jai-alai or
evident bad faith (Sec. 3 [e], RA 3019), thus manifestly and grossly disadvantageous to the
Basque pelota games, by itself or in agreement with Belle Corporation, on the ground that the
government [Anti-Graft and Corrupt Practices Act, RA 3019, Sec. 3(g)1.
controverted act is patently illegal and devoid of any basis either from the Constitution or
PAGCOR’s own Charter.
IV. x x x Respondent PAGCOR has equally no jurisdiction or authority x x x to award to its co-
respondents Belle and Filgame the right to avail of the tax benefits which, by law, inures solely
However, on June 17, 1999, respondent PAGCOR entered into an Agreement with private
and exclusively to PAGCOR itself.
respondents Belle Jai Alai Corporation (BELLE) and Filipinas Gaming Entertainment Totalizator
Corporation (FILGAME) wherein it was agreed that BELLE will make available to PAGCOR the
V. x x x Respondent PAGCOR has equally no jurisdiction or authority x x x to cause the
required infrastructure facilities including the main fronton, as well as provide the needed
disbursement of funds for the illegal establishment, management and operation of jai-alai game
funding for jai-alai operations with no financial outlay from PAGCOR, while PAGCOR handles the
operations.
actual management and operation of jai-alai.3
VI. x x x Respondent PAGCOR has equally no jurisdiction or authority x x x to award or grant 1. An action for injunction is not among the cases or proceedings originally cognizable by the
authority for the establishment, management and operation of off-fronton betting stations or Honorable Supreme Court, pursuant to Sec tion 1, Rule 56 of the 1997 Rules of Civil Procedure.
bookies.
2. Assuming, arguendo, the Honorable Supreme Court has jurisdiction over the petition, the
VII. The respondent PAGCOR has no jurisdiction or authority x x x in awarding unto its co- petition should be dismissed for failure of petitioners to observe the doctrine on hierarchy of
respondents Belle and Filgame, without public bidding, the subject agreement. courts.

In defense, private respondents BELLE and FILGAME assert: 3. x x x Petitioners have no legal standing to file a taxpayer’s suit based on their cause of action
nor are they the real parties-in-interest entitled to the avails of the suit.
1. The petition states no cause of action and must be dismissed outright;
4. Respondent’s franchise definitely includes the operation of jai-alai.
2. The petitioner has no cause of action against the respondents, he not being a real party in
interest; 5. Petitioners have no right in esse to be entitled to a temporary restraining order and/or to be
protected by a writ of preliminary injunction.
3. The instant petition cannot be maintained as a taxpayer suit, there being no illegal
disbursement of public funds involved; The Solicitor General claims that the petition, which is actually an action for quo warranto under
Rule 66 of the Rules of Court, against an alleged usurpation by PAGCOR of a franchise to operate
4. The instant petition is essentially an action for quo warranto and may only be commenced by jai alai, should be dismissed outright because only the Solicitor General or public prosecutor can
the Solicitor General; file the same; that P.D. No. 1869, the Charter of PAGCOR, authorizes PAGCOR to regulate and
operate games of chance and skill which include jai-alai; and that P.D. No. 1602 did not outlaw
5. The operation of jai-alai is well within PAGCOR’s authority to operate and maintain. PAGCOR’s
jai-alai but merely provided for staffer penalties to illegal or unauthorized activities related to jai-
franchise is intended to be wide in its coverage, the underlying considerations being, that: (1) the
alai and other forms of gambling.
franchise must be used to integrate all gambling operations in one corporate entity (i.e.
PAGCOR); and (2) it must be used to generate funds for the government to support its social We shall first rule on the important procedural issues raised by the respondents.
impact projects;
Respondents in G.R. No. 138982 contend that the Court has no jurisdiction to take original
6. The agreement executed by, between and among PAGCOR, BJAC and FILGAME is outside the cognizance of a petition for injunction because it is not one of those actions specifically
coverage of existing laws requiring public bidding. mentioned in Section 1 of Rule 56 of the 1997 Rules of Civil Procedure. Moreover, they urge that
the petition should be dismissed for failure of petitioners to observe the doctrine on hierarchy of
Substantially the same defenses were raised by respondent PAGCOR in its Comment.
courts.
Petitioners contend that:
It is axiomatic that what determines the nature of an action and hence, the jurisdiction of the
court, are the allegations of the pleading and the character of the relief sought.4 A cursory
I. The operation of jai-alai games by PAGCOR is illegal in that:
perusal of the petition filed in G.R. No. 138982 will show that it is actually one for Prohibition
1) the franchise of PAGCOR does not include the operation of jai-alai since jai-alai is a prohibited under Section 2 of Rule 65 for it seeks to prevent PAGCOR from managing, maintaining and
activity under the Revised Penal Code, as amended by P.D. No. 1602 which is otherwise known as operating jai-alai games. Even assuming, arguendo, that it is an action for injunction, this Court
the Anti-Gambling Law; has the discretionary power to take cognizance of the petition at bar if compelling reasons, or
the nature and importance of the issues raised, warrant the immediate exercise of its
2) jai-alai is not a game of chance and therefore cannot be the subject of a PAGCOR franchise. jurisdiction.5 It cannot be gainsaid that the issues raised in the present petitions have generated
an oasis of concern, even days of disquiet in view of the public interest at stake. In Tano, et al. vs.
II. A franchise is a special privilege that should be construed strictly against the grantee. Socrates, et al.,6 this Court did not hesitate to treat a petition for certiorari and injunction as a
special civil action for certiorari and prohibition to resolve an issue of far-reaching impact to our
III. To allow PAGCOR to operate jai-alai under its charter is tantamount to a license to PAGCOR to
people. This is in consonance with our case law now accorded near religious reverence that rules
legalize and operate any gambling activity.
of procedure are but tools designed to facilitate the attainment of justice such that when its rigid
In its Comment, respondent PAGCOR avers that: application tends to frustrate rather than promote substantial justice, this Court has the duty to
suspend their operation.7
Respondents also assail the locus standi or the standing of petitioners to file the petitions at bar After hurdling the threshold procedural issues, we now come to the decisive substantive issue of
as taxpayers and as legislators. First, they allege that petitioners have no legal standing to file a whether PAGCOR’s legislative franchise includes the right to manage and operate jai-alai.14 The
taxpayer’s suit because the operation of jai-alai does not involve the disbursement of public issue is of supreme significance for its incorrect resolution can dangerously diminish the plenary
funds. legislative power of Congress, more especially its exercise of police power to protect the morality
of our people. After a circumspect consideration of the clashing positions of the parties, we hold
Respondents’ stance is not without oven ready legal support. A party suing as a taxpayer must that the charter of PAGCOR does not give it any franchise to operate and manage jai-alai.
specifically prove that he has sufficient interest in preventing the illegal expenditure of money
raised by taxation.8 In essence, taxpayers are allowed to sue where there is a claim of illegal FIRST. A “franchise” is a special privilege conferred upon a corporation or individual by a
disbursement of public funds,9 or that public money is being deflected to any improper government duly empowered legally to grant it.15 It is a privilege of public concern which cannot
purpose,10 or where petitioners seek to restrain respondent from wasting public funds through be exercised at will and pleasure, but should be reserved for public control and administration,
the enforcement of an invalid or unconstitutional law.11 either by the government directly, or by public agents, under such conditions and regulations as
the government may impose on them in the interest of the public.16 A franchise thus emanates
In the petitions at bar, the Agreement entered into between PAGCOR and private respondents from a sovereign power17 and the grant is inherently a legislative power. It may, however, be
BELLE and FILGAME will show that all financial outlay or capital expenditure for the operation of derived indirectly from the state through an agency to which the power has been clearly and
jai-alai games shall be provided for by the latter. Thus, the Agreement provides, among others, validly delegated.18 In such cases, Congress prescribes the conditions on which the grant of a
that: PAGCOR shall manage, operate and control the jai-alai operation at no cost or financial risk franchise may be made.19 Thus, the manner of granting the franchise, to whom it may be
to it (Sec. 1[A][1]); BELLE shall provide funds, at no cost to PAGCOR, for all capital expenditures granted, the mode of conducting the business, the character and quality of the service to be
(Sec. 1[B][1]); BELLE shall make available to PAGCOR, at no cost to PAGCOR, the use of the rendered and the duty of the grantee to the public in exercising the franchise are almost always
integrated nationwide network of on-line computerized systems (Sec. 1 [B][2]); FILGAME shall defined in clear and unequivocal language. In the absence of these defining terms, any claim to a
make available for use of PAGCOR on a rent-free basis the jai-alai fronton facilities (Sec. 1 [C][l]); legislative franchise to operate a game played for bets and denounced as a menace to morality
BELLE & FILGAME jointly undertake to provide funds, at no cost to PAGCOR, for pre-operating ought to be rejected.
expenses and working capital (Sec. 1 [DHU); and that BELLE & FILGAME will provide PAGCOR with
goodwill money in the amount of P200 million (Sec. 1 [D][2]). In fine, the record is barren of SECOND. A historical study of the creation, growth and development of PAGCOR will readily
evidence that the operation and management of jai-alai by the PAGCOR involves expenditure of show that it was never given a legislative franchise to operate jai-alai.
public money.
(2.a) Before the creation of PAGCOR, a 25-year right to operate jai-alai in Manila was given by
Be that as it may, in line with the liberal policy of this Court on locus standi when a case involves President Marcos to the Philippine Jai-Alai and Amusement Corporation then controlled by his
an issue of overarching significance to our society,12 we find and so hold that as members of the inlaws, the Romualdez family. The franchise was granted on October 16, 1975 thru P.D. No. 810
House of Representatives, petitioners have legal standing to file the petitions at bar. In the issued by President Marcos in the exercise of his martial law powers. On that very date, the 25-
instant cases, petitioners complain that the operation of jai-alai constitutes an infringement by year franchise of the prior grantee expired and was not renewed. A few months before,
PAGCOR of the legislature’s exclusive power to grant franchise. To the extent the powers of President Marcos had issued P.D. No. 771 dated August 20, 1975, revoking the authority of local
Congress are impaired, so is the power of each member thereof, since his office confers a right to government units to issue jai-alai franchises. By these acts, the former President exercised
participate in the exercise of the powers of that institution, so petitioners contend. The complete control of the sovereign power to grant franchises.
contention commands our concurrence for it is now settled that a member of the House of
Representatives has standing to maintain inviolate the prerogatives, powers and privileges (2.b) Almost one year and a half after granting the Philippine Jai-Alai and Amusement
vested by the Corporation a 25-year franchise to operate jai-alai in Manila, President Marcos created PAGCOR
on January 1, 1977 by issuing P.D. No. 1067-A. The decree is entitled “Creating the Philippine
Constitution in his office.13 As presciently stressed in the case of Kilosbayan, Inc., viz.: Amusements and Gaming Corporation, Defining Its Powers and Functions, Providing Funds
therefor and for Other Purposes.” Its Declaration of Policy20 trumpeted the intent that PAGCOR
“We find the instant petition to be of transcendental importance to the public. The issues it was created to implement “the policy of the State to centralize and integrate all games of chance
raised are of paramount public interest and of a category even higher than those involved in not heretofore authorized by existing franchises or permitted by law x x x.” One of its whereas
many of the aforecited cases. The ramifications of such issues immeasurably affect the social, clauses referred to the need to prevent “the proliferation of illegal casinos or clubs conducting
economic, and moral well-being of the people even in the remotest barangays of the country and games of chance x x x.”21 To achieve this objective, PAGCOR was empowered “lo establish and
the counter-productive and retrogressive effects of the envisioned online lottery system are as maintain clubs, casinos, branches, agencies or subsidiaries, or other units anywhere in the
staggering as the billions in pesos it is expected to raise. The legal standing then of the Philippines x x x.”22
petitioners deserves recognition x x x.”
(2.c) On the same day after creating PAGCOR, President Marcos issued P.D. No. 1067-B granting franchises and games of chance theretofore permitted by law, upon the generation by the
PAGCOR “x x x a Franchise to Establish, Operate, and Maintain Gambling Casinos on Land or franchise holder of gross revenues amounting to P1.2 billion and its contribution therefrom of
Water Within the Territorial Jurisdiction of the Republic of the Philippines.” Obviously, P.D. No. the amount of P720 million as the government’s share.”
1067-A which created the PAGCOR is not a grant of franchise to operate the game of jai-alai. On
the other hand, Section 1 of P.D. No. 1067-B provides the nature and term of PAGCOR’s franchise (2.e) On June 2, 1978, President Marcos issued P.D. No. 1399 amending P.D. Nos. 1067-A and
to maintain gambling casinos (not a franchise to operate jai-alai), viz.: 1067-B. The amendments did not change the nature and scope of the PAGCOR franchise to
maintain gambling casinos. Rather, they referred to the Composition of the Board of Directors,23
“SECTION 1. NATURE AND TERM OF FRANCHISE.—Subject to the terms and conditions Special Condition of Franchise,24 Exemptions,25 and Other Conditions.26
established in this Decree, the Philippine Amusements and Gaming Corporation is hereby
granted for a period of twenty-five (25) years, renewable for another 25 years, the right, (2.f) On August 13, 1979, President Marcos issued P.D. No. 1632. Again, the amendments did not
privilege, and authority to operate and maintain gambling casinos, clubs and other recreation or change a comma on the nature and scope of PAGCOR’s franchise to maintain gambling casinos.
amusement places, sports, gaming pools, i.e., basketball, football, etc., whether on land or sea, They related to the allocation of the 60% share of the government where the host area is a city
within the territorial jurisdiction of the Republic of the Philippines.” or municipality other than Metro Manila,27 and the manner of payment of franchise tax of
PAGCOR.28
Section 2 of the same decree spells out the scope of the PAGCOR franchise to maintain gambling
casinos (not a franchise to operate jai-alai), viz.: (2.g) On July 11, 1983, President Marcos issued P.D. No. 1869 entitled “Consolidating and
Amending P.D. Nos. 1067-A, 1067-B, 1067-C, 1399 and 1632 Relative to the Franchise and Power
“SEC. 2. SCOPE OF FRANCHISE.—In addition to the right and privileges granted it under Sec. 1, of the PAGCOR.” As a consolidated decree, it reiterated the nature and scope of PAGCOR’s
this Franchise shall entitle the franchise holder to do and undertake the following: existing franchise to maintain gambling casinos (not a franchise to operate jai-alai), thus:

(1) Enter into operator’s and/or management contracts with duly registered and accredited “SEC. 10. Nature and term of franchise.—Subject to the terms and conditions established in this
company possessing the knowledge, skill, expertise and facilities to insure the efficient operation Decree, the Corporation is hereby granted for a period of twenty-five (25) years, renewable for
of gambling casinos; Provided, That the service fees of such management and/or operator another twenty-five (25) years, the rights, privilege and authority to operate and maintain
companies whose services may be retained by the franchise holder of this Franchise shall not in gambling casinos, clubs, and other recreation or amusement places, sports, gaming pools, i.e.
the aggregate exceed ten (10%) percent of the gross income. basketball, football, lotteries, etc., whether on land or sea, within the territorial jurisdiction of
the Republic of the Philippines.
(2) Purchase foreign exchange that may be required for the importation of equipment, facilities
and other gambling paraphernalia indispensably needed or useful to insure the successful SEC. 11. Scope of Franchise.—In addition to the rights and privileges granted it under the
operation of gambling casinos. preceding Section, this Franchise shall entitle the corporation to do and undertake the following:

(3) Acquire the right of way, access to or thru public lands, public waters or harbors, including the (1) Enter into operating and/or management contracts with any registered and accredited
Manila Bay Area; such right to include, but not limited to, the right to lease and/or purchase company possessing the knowledge, skill, expertise and facilities to insure the efficient operation
public lands, government reclaimed lands, as well as land of private ownership or those leased of gambling casinos; provided, that the service fees of such management and/or operator
from the government. This right shall carry with it the privilege of the franchise holder to utilize companies whose services may be retained by the Corporation shall not in the aggregate exceed
piers, quays, boat landings, and such other pertinent and related facilities within these specified ten (10%) percent of the gross income;
areas for use as landing, anchoring, or berthing sites in connection with its authorized casino
operations. (2) Purchase foreign exchange that may be required for the importation of equipment, facilities
and other gambling paraphernalia indis-pensably needed or useful to insure the successful
(4) Build or construct structures, buildings, coastways, piers, docks, as well as any other form of operation of gambling casinos;
land and berthing facilities for its floating casinos.
(3) Acquire the right of way or access to or thru public land, public waters or harbors, including
(5) To do and perform such other acts directly related to the efficient and successful operation the Manila Bay Area; such right shall include, but not be limited to, the right to lease and/or
and conduct of games of chance in accordance with existing laws and decrees.” purchase public lands, government reclaimed lands, as well as lands of private ownership or
those leased from the Government. This right shall carry with it the privilege of the Corporation
(2.d) Still on the day after creating PAGCOR, President Marcos issued P.D. No. 1067-C amending to utilize piers, quays, boat landings, and such other pertinent and related facilities within these
P.D. Nos. 1067-A and B. The amendment provides that PAGCOR’s franchise to maintain gambling
casinos “x x x shall become exclusive in character, subject only to the exception of existing
specified areas for use as landing, anchoring or berthing sites in connection with its authorized competition, President Marcos earlier revoked the power of local governments to grant jai-alai
casino operations; franchises. Thus, PAGCOR’s stance that P.D. No. 1067B is its franchise to operate jai-alai, which
would have competed with the Romualdezes’ franchise, extends credulity to the limit. Indeed,
(4) Build or construct structures, buildings, castways, piers, decks, as well as any other form of P.D. No. 1067-A which created PAGCOR made it crystal clear that it was to implement “the policy
landing and boarding facilities for its floating casinos; and of the State to centralize and integrate all games of chance not heretofore authorized by existing
franchises or permitted by law” which included the Philippine Jai-Alai and Amusement
(5) To do and perform such other acts directly related to the efficient and successful operation
Corporation.
and conduct of games of chance in accordance with existing laws and decrees.”
(3.d) There can be no sliver of doubt that under P.D. No. 1869, PAGCOR’s franchise is only to
(2.h) Then came the 1986 EDSA revolution and the end of the Marcos regime. On May 8, 1987,
operate gambling casinos and not jai-alai. This conclusion is compelled by a. plain reading of its
President Corazon Aquino issued Executive Order No. 169 repealing P.D. Nos. 810, 1124 and
various provisions, viz.:
1966 thus revoking the franchise of the Philippine Jai-Alai and Amusement Corporation
controlled by the Romualdezes to operate jai-alai in Manila. PAGCOR’s franchise to operate “SECTION 1. Declaration of Policy.—It is hereby declared to be the policy of the State to
gambling casinos was not revoked. Neither was it given a franchise to operate jai-alai. centralize and integrate all games of chance not heretofore authorized by existing franchises or
permitted by law in order to attain the following objectives:
THIRD. In light of its legal history, we hold that PAGCOR cannot maintain that Section 10 of P.D.
No. 1869 grants it a franchise to operate jai-alai. Section 10 provides: xxx xxx

“SEC. 10. Nature and term of franchise.—Subject to the terms and conditions established in this (b) To establish and operate clubs and casinos, for amusement and recreation, including sports,
Decree, the Corporation is hereby granted for a period of twenty-five (25) years, renewable for gaming pools (basketball, football, lotteries, etc.) and such other forms of amusement and
another twenty-five (25) years, the rights, privilege and authority to operate and maintain recreation including games of chance, which may be allowed by law within the territorial
gambling casinos, clubs, and other recreation or amusement places, sports, gaming pools, i.e., jurisdiction of the Philippines and which will: x x x (3) minimize, if not totally eradicate, the evils,
basketball, football, lotteries, etc., whether on land or sea, within the territorial jurisdiction of malpractices and corruptions that are normally prevalent in the conduct and operation of
the Republic of the Philippines.” gambling clubs and casinos without direct government involvement.

(3.a) P.D. No. 1869 is a mere consolidation of previous decrees dealing with PAGCOR. PAGCOR xxx xxx
cannot seek comfort in Section 10 as it is not a new provision in P.D. No. 1869 and, from the
beginning of its history, was never meant to confer it with a franchise to operate jai-alai. It is a TITLE IV GRANT OF FRANCHISE
reiteration of Section 1 of P.D. No. 1067-B which provides:
SEC. 10. Nature and term of franchise.—Subject to the terms and conditions established in this
“SECTION 1. Nature and Term of Franchise.—Subject to the terms and conditions established in Decree, the Corporation is hereby granted for a period of twenty-five (25) years, renewable for
this Decree, the Philippine Amusements and Gaming Corporation is hereby granted for a period another twenty-five (25) years, the rights, privileges and authority to operate and maintain
of twenty-five (25) years, renewable for another 25 years, the right, privilege, and authority to gambling casinos, clubs, and other recreation or amusement places, sports, gaming pools, i.e.
operate and maintain gambling casinos, clubs and other recreation or amusement places, sports basketball, football, lotteries, etc. whether on land or sea, within the territorial jurisdiction of the
gaming pools, i.e., basketball, football, etc., whether on land or sea, within the territorial Republic of the Philippines.
jurisdiction of the Republic of the Philippines.”
SEC. 11. Scope of Franchise.—In addition to the rights and privileges granted it under the
(3.b) Plainly, Section 1 of P.D. No. 1067-B which was reenacted as Section 10 of P.D. No. 1869 is preceding Section, this Franchise shall entitle the Corporation to do and undertake the following:
not a grant of legislative franchise to operate jai-alai. P.D. No. 1067-B is a franchise to maintain
gambling casinos alone. The two franchises are as different as day and night and no alchemy of (1) Enter into operating and/or management contracts with any registered and accredited
logic will efface their difference. company possessing the knowledge, skill, expertise and facilities to insure the efficient operation
of gambling casinos; provided, that the service fees of such management and/or operator
(3.c) PAGCOR’s stance becomes more sterile when we consider the law’s intent. It cannot be the companies whose services may be retained by the Corporation shall not in the aggregate exceed
intent of President Marcos to grant PAGCOR a franchise to operate jai-alai because a year and a ten (10%) percent of the gross income;
half before it was chartered, he issued P.D. No. 810 granting Philippine Jai-Alai and Amusement
Corporation a 25-year franchise to operate jai-alai in Manila. This corporation is controlled by his
in-laws, the Romualdezes.29 To assure that this Romualdez corporation would have no
(2) Purchase foreign exchange that may be required for the importation of equipment, facilities (a) A specific area in the casino(s) or gaming pit shall be put up solely and exclusively for players
and other gambling paraphernalia indispensably needed or useful to insure the successful and patrons utilizing foreign currencies;
operation of gambling casinos;
(b) The Corporation shall appoint and designate a duly accredited commercial bank agent of the
(3) Acquire the right of way or access to or thru public land, public waters or harbors x x x. This Central Bank, to handle, administer and manage the use of foreign currencies in the casino(s);
right shall carry with it the privilege of the Corporation to utilize x x x such other pertinent and
related facilities within these specified areas x x x in connection with its authorized casino (c) The Corporation shall provide an office at casino(s) for the employees of the designated bank,
operations; agent of the Central Bank, where the Corporation will maintain a dollar account which will be
utilized exclusively for the above purpose and the casino dollar treasury employees;
(4) Build or construct structures, building castways, piers, decks, as well as any other form of
landing and boarding facilities for its floating casinos; (f) The disbursement, administration, management and recording of foreign exchange currencies
used in the casino(s) shall be carried out in accordance with existing foreign exchange regulations
SEC. 13. Exemptions.— x x x.

(1) Customs duties, taxes and other imposts on importations.—All importations of equipment, SEC. 14. Other Conditions.—
vehicles, automobiles, boats, ships, barges, aircraft and such other gambling paraphernalia,
including accessories or related facilities, for the sole and exclusive use of the casinos, the proper (1) Place.—The Corporation shall conduct the gambling activities or games of chance on land or
and efficient management and administration thereof, and such other clubs. Recreation or water within the territorial jurisdiction of the Republic of the Philippines. When conducted on
amusement places to be established under and by virtue of this Franchise shall be exempt from water, the Corporation shall have the right to dock the floating casino(s) in any part of the
the payment of all kinds of customs duties, taxes and other imposts, including all kinds of fees, Philippines where vessels/boats are authorized to dock under the Customs and Maritime Laws.
levies, or charges of any kind or nature, whether National or Local.
(2)Time.—Gambling activities may be held and conducted at anytime of the day or night;
Vessels and/or accessory ferry boats imported or to be imported by any corporation having provided, however, that in places where curfew hours are observed, all players and personnel of
existing contractual arrangements with the Corporation, for the sole and exclusive use of the gambling casinos shall remain within the premises of the casinos.
casino or to be used to service the operations and requirements of the casino, shall likewise be
(2)Persons allowed to play.—x x x
totally exempt from the payment of all customs duties, x x x.
(4)Persons not allowed to play.—
(2) Income and other taxes.—(a) x x x
From these are excepted the personnel employed by the casinos, special guests, or those who at
(b) Others: The exemption herein granted for earnings derived from the operations conducted
the discretion of the Management may be allowed to stay in the premises.
under the franchise x x x shall inure to the benefit of and extend to corporation(s) x x x with
whom the Corporation or operator has any contractual relationship in connection with the
TITLE VI EXEMPTION FROM CIVIL SERVICE LAW
operations of the casino(s) authorized to be conducted under this Franchise x x x.
SEC. 16. Exemption.—All position in the Corporation, whether technical, administrative,
(3) Dividend Income.—x x x The dividend income shall not in such case be considered as part of
professional or managerial are exempt from the provisions of the Civil Service Law, rules and
beneficiaries’ taxable income; provided, however, that such dividend income shall be totally
regulations, and shall be governed only by the personnel management policies set by the Board
exempted from income or other forms of taxes if invested within six (6) months from date the
of Directors. All employees of the casinos and related services shall be classified as “Confidential”
dividend income is received, in the following:
appointees.

(a) operation of the casino(s) or investments in any affiliate activity that will ultimately redound
TITLE VII TRANSITORY PROVISIONS
to the benefit of the Corporation or any other corporation with whom the Corporation has any
existing arrangements in connection with or related to the operations of the casino(s); SEC. 17. Transitory Provisions.—x x x

(4) Utilization of Foreign Currencies.—The Corporation shall have the right and authority, solely SEC. 18. Exemption from Labor Laws.—No union or any form of association shall be formed by all
and exclusively in connection with the operations of the casino(s), to purchase, receive, exchange those working as employees of the casino or related services whether directly or indirectly. For
and disburse foreign exchange, subject to the following terms and conditions: such purpose, all employees of the casinos or related services shall be classified as “confidential”
appointees and their employment thereof, whether by the franchise holder, or the operators, or
the managers, shall be exempt from the provisions of the Labor Code or any implementing rules “By virtue of the powers vested in me by Commonwealth Act No. 601, entitled An Act to regulate
and regulations thereof.” the establishment, maintenance and operation of places of amusements in chartered cities,
municipalities and municipal districts, the following rules and regulations governing frontons and
From its creation in 1977 and until 1999, PAGCOR never alleged that it has a franchise to operate basque pelota games are hereby promulgated:
jai-alai. Twenty-two years is a long stretch of silence. It is inexplicable why it never claimed its
alleged franchise for so long a time which could have allowed it to earn billions of pesos as SECTION 1. Definitions.—Whenever used in this Order and unless the context indicates a
additional income. different meaning, the following terms shall bear the meaning indicated herein:

(3.e) To be sure, we need not resort to intellectual jujitsu to determine whether PAGCOR has a (a)) ‘Basque pelota game’ shall include the pelota game with the use of pala, raqueta, cesta
franchise to operate jai-alai. It is easy to tell whether there is a legislative grant or not. Known as punta, remonte and mano, in which professional players participate.
the game of a thousand thrills, jai-alai is a different game, hence, the terms and conditions
imposed on a franchisee are spelled out in standard form. A review of some laws and executive (b) ‘Fronton’ comprises the court where basque pelota games are played, including the adjoining
orders granting a franchise to operate jai-alai will demonstrate these standard terms and structures used in connection with such games, such as the betting booths and galleries,
conditions, viz.: totalizator equipment, and the grandstands where the public is admitted in connection with such
games.
(3.e.l) Commonwealth Act No. 485 (An Act to Permit Bets in the Game of Basque Pelota)—June
18, 1939 (c) ‘Pelotari’ is a professional player engaged in playing basque pelota.

“Be it enacted by the National Assembly of the Philippines: SECTION 1. Any provision of existing (d) ‘Professional player’ is one who plays for compensation.
law to the contrary notwithstanding, it shall be permissible in the game of Basque pelota, a game
SEC. 2. Supervision over the establishment and operation of frontons and basque pelota
of skill (including the games of pala, raqueta, cestapunta, remonte and mano), in which
games.—Subject to the administrative control and supervision of the Secretary of the Interior,
professional players participate, to make either direct bets or bets by means of a totalizer;
city or municipal mayors shall exercise supervision over the establishment, maintenance and
Provided, That no operator or maintainer of a Basque pelota court shall collect as commission a
operation of frontons and basque pelota games within their respective territorial jurisdiction, as
fee in excess of twelve per centum on such bets, or twelve per centum of the receipts of the
well as over the officials and employees of such frontons and shall see to it that all laws, orders
totalizer, and of such per centum three shall be paid to the Government of the Philippines, for
and regulations relating to such establishments are duly enforced. Subject to similar approval,
distribution in equal shares between the General Hospital and the Philippine Anti-tuberculosis
they shall appoint such personnel as may be needed in the discharge of their duties and fix their
Society.
compensation which shall be paid out of the allotment of one-half per centum (1/2%) out of the
SEC. 2. Any person, company or corporation, that shall build a court for Basque pelota games total bets or wager funds set aside and made available for the purpose in accordance with
with bets within eighteen months from the date of the approval of this Act, shall thereunder Section 19 hereof. The Secretary of the Interior shall have the power to prohibit or allow the
have the privilege to maintain and operate the said court for a term of twenty-five years from operation of such frontons on any day or days, or modify their hour of operation and to prescribe
the date in which the first game with bets shall have taken place. At the expiration of the said additional rules and regulations governing the same.
term of twenty-five years, the buildings and the land on which the court and the stadium shall be
SEC. 3. Particular duties of city or municipal mayors regarding operation of basque pelota games
established, shall become the property of the Government of the Philippines, without payment.
and frontons.—In connection with their duty to enforce the laws, orders, rules and regulations
SEC. 3. The location and design of the buildings that shall be used for the same games of Basque relating to frontons and basque pelota games, the city or municipal mayor shall require that such
pelota, shall have prior approval of the Bureau of Public Works and the operator shall pay a frontons shall be properly constructed and maintained in accordance with the provisions of
license fee of five hundred pesos a year to the city or municipality in which the establishment Commonwealth Act No. 485; shall see that the proper sanitary accommodations are provided in
shall be situated, in addition to the real-estate tax due on such real property. the grandstands and other structures comprising such frontons; and shall require that such
frontons be provided with a properly equipped clinic for the treatment of injuries to the
SEC. 4. This Act shall take effect upon its approval. pelotaris.

ENACTED, without Executive approval, June 18, 1939.” SEC. 4. Permits.—In the absence of a legislative franchise, it shall be unlawful for any person or
entity to establish and/or operate frontons and conduct basque pelota games without a permit
(3.e.2) Executive Order No. 135 (Regulating the Establishment, Maintenance and Operation of issued by the corresponding city or municipal mayor, with the approval of the provincial
Frontons and Basque Pelota Games [Jai-Alai])—May 4, 1948
governor in the latter case. Any permit issued hereunder shall be reported by the provincial within its premises, the city or municipal mayor may take the necessary action in accordance
governor or city mayor, as the case may be, to the Secretary of the Interior. with the provisions of section 11 hereof.

SEC. 5. License fees.—The following license fees shall be paid: SEC. 11. Revocation or suspension of permits and licenses.—The city or municipal mayor, subject
to the approval of the Secretary of the Interior, may suspend or revoke any license granted under
(a) For each basque pelota fronton, five hundred pesos (P500) annually, or one hundred and this Order to any basque pelota fronton or to any official or employee thereof, for violation of
twenty-five pesos (P125) quarterly. any of the rules and regulations provided in this Order or those which said city or municipal
mayor may prescribe, or for any just cause. Such suspension or revocation shall operate to forfeit
(b) For pelotaris, judges or referees and superintendents (intendentes) of basque pelota games,
to the city or municipality concerned all sums paid therefor.
eighteen pesos (P18) each annually.
SEC. 12. Appeals.—Any action taken by the city or municipal mayor under the provisions of this
The above license fees shall accrue to the funds of the city or municipality where the fronton is
Order shall stand, unless modified or revoked by the Secretary of the Interior.
operated.
SEC. 13. Books, records and accounts.—The city or municipal mayor, or his duly authorized
SEC. 6. Location.—Except in the case of any basque pelota fronton licensed as of December 8,
representative, shall have the power to inspect at all times the books, records, and accounts of
1941, no basque pelota fronton shall be maintained or operated within a radius of 200 lineal
any basque pelota fronton. He may, in his discretion and as the circumstances may warrant,
meters from any city hall or municipal building, provincial Capitol building, national Capitol
require that the books and financial or other statements of the person or entity operating the
building, public playa or park, public school, church, hospital, athletic stadium, or any institution
game be kept in such manner as he may prescribe.
of learning or charity.
SEC. 14. Days and hours of operation.—Except as may otherwise be provided herein, basque
SEC. 7. Buildings, sanitary and parking requirements.—No permit or license for the construction
pelota games with betting shall be allowed every day, excepting Sundays, from 2 o’clock p.m. to
or operation of a basque pelota fronton shall be issued without proper certificate of the
not later than 11 o’clock p.m.
provincial or city engineer and architect certifying to the suitability and safety of the building and
of the district or city health officer certifying to the sanitary condition of said building. The city or SEC. 15. Pelotaris, judges, referees, etc. shall be licensed.—No person or entity operating a
municipal mayor may, in his discretion and as circumstances may warrant, require that the basque pelota fronton, wherein games are played with betting, shall employ any pelotari, judge
fronton be provided with sufficient space for parking so that the public roads and highways be or referee, superintendent of games (intendente), or any other official whose duties are
not used for such purposes. connected with the operation or supervision of the games, unless such person has been duly
licensed by the city or municipal mayor concerned. Such license shall be granted upon
SEC. 8. Protest and complaint.—Any person who believes that any basque pelota fronton is
satisfactory proof that the applicant is in good health, know the rules and usages of the game,
located or established in any place not authorized herein or is being operated in violation of any
and is a person of good moral character and of undoubted honesty. In the case of pelotaris, such
provision of this order may file a protest or complaint with the city or municipal mayor
license shall be granted only upon the further condition that they are able to play the game with
concerned, and after proper investigation of such complaint the city or municipal mayor may
reasonable skill and with safety to themselves and to their opponents. The city or municipal
take such action as he may consider necessary in accordance with the provisions of section 10
mayor may further require other reasonable qualifications for applicants to a license, not
hereof. Any decision rendered on the matter by the city or municipal mayor shall be appealable
otherwise provided herein. Such license shall be obtained yearly.
to the Secretary of the Interior.
SEC. 16. Installation of automatic electric totalizator.—Any person or entity operating a fronton
SEC. 9. Persons prohibited admission.—Persons under 16 years of age, persons carrying firearms
wherein betting in any form is allowed shall install in its premises within the period of one year
or deadly weapons of any description, except government officials actually performing their
from the date this Order takes effect, an automatic electrically operated indicator system and
official duties therein, intoxicated persons, and persons of disorderly nature and conduct who
ticket selling machine, commonly known as totalizator, which shall clearly record each ticket
are apt to disturb peace and order, shall not be admitted or allowed in any basque pelota
purchased on every player in any game, the total number of tickets sold on each event, as well as
fronton: Provided, That persons under 16 years of age may, when accompanied by their parents
the dividends that correspond to holders of winning numbers. This requirement shall, however,
or guardians, be admitted therein but in no case shall such minors be allowed to bet.
not apply to double events or forecast pools or to any betting made on the basis of a
combination or grouping of players until a totalizator that can register such bets has been
SEC. 10. Gambling prohibited.—No card games or any of the prohibited games shall be permitted
invented and placed on the market.
within the premises of any basque pelota fronton; and upon satisfactory evidence that the
operator or entity conducting the game has tolerated the existence of any prohibited game
SEC. 17. Supervision over sale of betting tickets and payment of dividends.—For the purpose of are not contrary to the provisions of this Order or any rule or regulation hereafter issued by the
verifying the accuracy of reports in connection with the sale of betting tickets and the Secretary of the Interior.
computation of dividends awarded to winners on each event, as well as other statements with
reference to the betting in the games played, the city or municipal mayor shall assign such SEC. 22. Regulations governing pelotaris.—Any rule or regulation adopted by any established
number of auditing officers and checkers as may be necessary for the purpose. These auditing fronton governing the conduct or performance of pelotaris to the contrary notwithstanding, the
officers and checkers shall be placed in the ticket selling booths, dividend computation booths following regulations shall be observed:
and such other parts of the fronton, where betting tickets are sold and dividends computed. It
(a) The pelotaris who are participating in the games shall not be allowed to communicate, talk or
shall be their duty to check up and correct any irregularity or any erroneous report or
make signs with any one in the public or with any official or employee of the fronton during the
computation that may be made by officials of the fronton, in connection with the sale of tickets
games, except with the judges or referees or the superintendent (intendente) in charge of the
and the payment of dividends.
games;
SEC. 18. Wager tickets and dividends.—The face value of the wager tickets for any event shall not
(b) The program of games or events, as well as the line-up or order of playing of the pelotaris in
exceed P5 whether for “win” or “place,” or for any combination or grouping of winning numbers.
each event shall be determined by the superintendent of the games (intendente), subject to the
The face value of said tickets, as the case may be, shall be the basis for the computation of the
approval of the city or municipal mayor, or his authorized representatives;
dividends and such dividends shall be paid after eliminating fractions of ten centavos (P0.10); for
example: if the resulting dividend is P10.43, the dividend that shall be paid will be only P10.40.
(c) Pelotaris shall be in good physical condition before participating in any game and shall be laid
off from playing at least two days in a week. Every pelotari shall once a month secure a medical
SEC. 19. Distribution of wager funds.—The total wager funds or gross receipts from the sale of
certificate from a government physician to be designated by the city or municipal mayor
the betting tickets shall be apportioned as follows: a commission not exceeding ten and one-half
concerned certifying to his physical fitness to engage in the games; and
per centum (10 1/2%) on the total bets on each game or event shall be set aside for the person
or entity operating the fronton and four and one-half per centum (4 1/2%) of such bets shall be
(d) The amount of dividends computed for any event shall not be posted within the view of the
covered into the National Treasury for disposition as may be authorized by law or executive
pelotaris participating in the event until after the termination of said event.”
order; and the balance or eighty-five per centum (85%) of the total bets shall be distributed in
the form of dividends among holders of “win” or “place” numbers or holders of the winning (3.e.3) Presidential Decree No. 810 (An Act Granting the Philippine Jai-Alai and Amusement
combination or grouping of numbers, as the case may be: Provided, however, That of the ten and Corporation a Franchise to Operate, Construct and Maintain a Fronton for Basque Pelota and
one-half per centum (10 1/2%) representing the commission of the person or entity operating Similar Games of Skill in the Greater Manila Area)—October 16, 1975
the fronton, an amount equivalent to one-half per centum (1/2%) of the total bets or wager
funds shall be set aside and made available to cover the expenses of the personnel assigned to “WHEREAS, by virtue of the provisions of Commonwealth Act Numbered 485 the franchise to
supervise the operation of basque pelota games and frontons, including payment of salaries of operate and maintain a fronton for the Basque pelota and similar games of skill in the City of
such personnel, purchase of necessary equipment and other sundry expenses as may be Manila, shall expire on October, 1975 whereupon the ownership of the land, buildings and
authorized by competent authority. improvements used in the same game will be transferred without payment to the government by
operation of law;
SEC. 20. Supervision over the conduct of games; enforcement of rules and regulations.—The city
or municipal mayor is authorized to place within the premises of the fronton such number of WHEREAS, there is a pressing need not only to further develop the game as a sport and
inspectors and agents as may be deemed necessary to supervise the conduct of the games to see amusement for the general public but also to exploit its full potential in support of the
that the rules of the games are strictly enforced, and to carry out the provisions of this Order as government’s objectives and development programs;
well as such other regulations as may hereafter be prescribed.
WHEREAS, Basque pelota is a game of international renown, the maintenance and promotion of
SEC. 21. Rules governing the games and personnel of the fronton.—The rules and regulations which will surely assist the tourism industry of the country;
that have been adopted by any fronton to govern the operation of its games and the behavior,
duties and performance of the officials and personnel connected therewith, such as pelotaris, WHEREAS, the tourism appeal of the game will be enhanced only with the government’s support
judges, referees or superintendents of games (intendentes) and others, shall be the recognized and inducement in developing the sport to a level at par with international standards;
rules and regulations of such fronton until the same are altered or repealed by the Secretary of
WHEREAS, once such tourism appeal is developed, the same will serve as a stable and expanding
the Interior; and any fronton may introduce any type or form of games or events, provided they
base for revenue generation for the government’s development projects.
NOW, THEREFORE, I, FERDINAND E. MARCOS, President of the Philippines, by virtue of the distributed as follows: eleven and one-half per centum (11 1/2%) shall be set aside as the
powers vested in me by the Constitution, hereby decree as follows: commission fee of the grantee, and three and one-half per centum (3 1/2%) thereof shall be set
aside and allotted to any special health, educational, civic, cultural, charitable, social welfare,
SECTION 1. Any provision of law to the contrary notwithstanding, there is hereby granted to the sports, and other similar projects as may be directed by the President. The receipts from betting
Philippine Jai-Alai and Amusement Corporation, a corporation duly organized and registered corresponding to the fraction of ten centavos eliminated from the dividends paid to the winning
under the laws of the Philippines, hereinafter called the grantee or its successors, for a period of tickets, commonly known as breakage, shall also be set aside for the above-named special
twenty-five years from the approval of this Act, extendable for another twenty-five years without projects.
the necessity of another franchise, the right, privilege and authority to construct, operate and
maintain a court for Basque Pelota (including the games of pala, raqueta, cestapunta, remonte SEC. 5. The provision of any existing law to the contrary notwithstanding, the grantee is hereby
and mano) within the Greater Manila Area, establish branches thereof for booking purposes and authorized to hold Basque pelota games (including the games of pala, raqueta, cestapunta,
hold or conduct Basque pelota games therein with bettings either directly or by means of electric remonte and mano) on all days of the week except Sundays and official holidays.
and/or computerized totalizator.
SEC. 6. The provisions of Commonwealth Act numbered four hundred and eighty-five as
The games to be conducted by the grantee shall be under the supervision of the Games and amended, shall be deemed incorporated herein, provided that the provisions of this Act shall
Amusements Board, hereinafter referred to as the Board, which shall enforce the laws, rules and take precedence over the provisions thereof and all other laws, executive orders and regulations
regulations governing Basque pelota as provided in Commonwealth Act numbered four hundred which are inconsistent herewith.
and eighty-five, as amended, and all the officials of the game and pelotaris therein shall be duly
licensed as such by the Board. SEC. 7. The grantee shall not lease, transfer, grant the usufruct of, sell or assign this franchise
permit, or the rights or privileges acquired thereunder to any person, firm, company, corporation
SEC. 2. The grantee or its duly authorized agent may offer, take or arrange bets within or outside or other commercial or legal entity, nor merge with any other person, company or corporation
the place, enclosure or court where the Basque pelota games are held: Provided, That bets organized for the same purpose, without the previous approval of the President of the
offered, taken or arranged outside the place, enclosure or court where the games are held, shall Philippines.
be offered, taken or arranged only in places duly licensed by the corporation; Provided, however,
That the same shall be subject to the supervision of the Board. No person other than the grantee SEC 8. For purposes of this franchise, the grantee is herein authorized to make use of the existing
or its duly authorized agents shall take or arrange bets on any pelotari or on the game, or fronton, stadium and facilities located along Taft Avenue, City of Manila, belonging to the
maintain or use a totalizator or other device, method or system to bet on any pelotari or on the government by virtue of the provisions of Commonwealth Act numbered four hundred and
game within or without the place, enclosure or court where the games are held by the grantee. eighty-five.”
Any violation of this section shall be punished by a fine of not more than two thousand pesos or
It is abundantly clear from the aforequoted laws, executive orders and decrees that the
by imprisonment of not more than six months, or both in the discretion of the Court. If the
legislative practice is that a franchise to operate jai-alai is granted solely for that purpose and the
offender is a partnership, corporation, or association, the criminal liability shall devolve upon its
terms and conditions of the grant are unequivocably defined by the grantor. Such express grant
president, directors or any other officials responsible for the violation.
and its conditionalities protective of the public interest are evidently wanting in P.D. No. 1869,
SEC. 3. The grantee shall provide mechanical and/or computerized devices, namely: a) electric the present Charter of PAGCOR. Thus, while E.O. 135 and P.D. No. 810 provided for the
totalizator; b) machine directly connected to a computer in a display board, for the sale of apportionment of the wager funds or gross receipts from the sale of betting tickets, as well as
tickets, including, those sold from the off-court stations; c) modern sound system and loud the distribution of dividends among holders of “win” or “place” numbers or holders of the
speakers; d) facilities that bring safety, security, comfort and convenience to the public; e) winning combination or grouping of numbers, no such provisions can be found in P.D. No. 1869.
modern intercommunication devices; and f) such other facilities, devices and instruments for Likewise, while P.D. No. 810 describes where and how the games are to be conducted and
clean, honest and orderly Basque pelota games, within three years from the approval of this Act. bettings to be made, and imposes a penalty in case of a violation thereof, such provisions are
absent in P.D. No. 1869.
The Board shall assign its auditors and/or inspectors to supervise and regulate the placing of
bets, proper computation of dividends and the distribution of wager funds. In fine, P.D. No. 1869 does not have the standard marks of a law granting a franchise to operate
jai-alai as those found under P.D. No. 810 or E.O. 135. We cannot blink away from the stubborn
SEC. 4. The total wager fund or gross receipts from the sale of betting tickets will be apportioned reality that P.D. No. 1869 deals with details pertinent alone to the operation of gambling casinos.
as follows: eighty-five per centum (85%) shall be distributed in the form of dividends among the It prescribes the rules and regulations concerning the operation of gambling casinos such as the
holders of “win” or “place” numbers or holders of the winning combination or grouping of place, time, persons who are and are not entitled to play, tax exemptions, use of foreign
numbers as the case may be. The remaining balance of fifteen per centum (15%) shall be exchange, and the exemption of casino employees from the coverage of the Civil Service Law and
the Labor Code. The short point is that P.D. No. 1869 does not have the usual provisions with Policy and Section 10 on the Nature and Term of Franchise. It ought to follow that P.D. No. 1869
regards to jai-alai. The logical inference is that PAGCOR was not given a franchise to operate jai- carries with it the same legislative intent that infused P.D. Nos. 1067-A, 1067-B and 1067-C. To be
alai frontons. There is no reason to resist the beguiling rule that acts of incorporation, and sure, both P.D. No. 1067-A and P.D. No. 1869 seek to enforce the same avowed policy of the
statutes granting other franchises or special benefits or privileges to corporations, are to be State to “minimize, if not totally eradicate, the evils, malpractices and corruptions that normally
construed strictly against the corporations; and whatever is not given in unequivocal terms is are found prevalent in the conduct and operation of gambling clubs and casinos without direct
understood to be withheld.30 government involvement.” It did not address the moral malevolence of jai-alai games and the
need to contain it thru PAGCOR. We cannot deface this legislative intent by holding that the
FOURTH. The tax treatment between jai-alai operations and gambling casinos are distinct from grant to PAGCOR under P.D. Nos. 1067-A and 1067-B to establish, operate, and maintain
each other. Letters of Instruction No. 1439 issued on November 2, 1984 directed the suspension gambling casinos, has been enlarged, broadened or expanded by P.D. No. 1869 so as to include a
of the imposition of the increased tax on winnings in horse races and jai-alai under the old grant to operate jai-alai frontons. Then and now, the intention was merely to grant PAGCOR a
revenue code, to wit: franchise to operate gambling casinos, no more, no less.

“WHEREAS, the increased tax on winnings on horse races and jai-alai under Presidential Decree SIXTH. Lest the idea gets lost in the shoals of our subconsciousness, let us not forget that
1959 has already affected the holding of horse races and jai-alai games, resulting in government PAGCOR is engaged in business affected with public interest. The phrase “affected with public
revenue loss and affecting the livelihood of those dependent thereon; interest” means that an industry is subject to control for the public good;31 it has been
considered as the equivalent of “subject to the exercise of the police power.”32 Perforce, a
WHEREAS, the manner of taxation applicable thereto is unique and its effects and incidence are
legislative franchise to operate jai-alai is imbued with public interest and involves an exercise of
in no way similar to the taxes on casino operation or to any shiftable tax;
police power. The familiar rule is that laws which grant the right to exercise a part of the police
power of the state are to be construed strictly and any doubt must be resolved against the
NOW, THEREFORE, I, FERDINAND E. MARCOS, President of the Philippines, by virtue of the
grant.33 The legislature is regarded as the guardian of society, and therefore is not presumed to
powers vested in me by the Constitution, do hereby order and instruct the Minister of Finance,
disable itself or abandon the discharge of its duty. Thus, courts do not assume that the legislature
the Commissioner of the Bureau of Internal Revenue, and the Chairman, Games & Amusements
intended to part away with its power to regulate public morals.34 The presumption is influenced
Board, to suspend the implementation of the increased rate of tax winnings in horse races and
by constitutional considerations. Constitutions are widely understood to withhold from
jai-alai games and collect instead the rate applicable prior to the effectivity of PD 1959.”
legislatures any authority to bargain away their police power35 for the power to protect the
Similarly, under Republic Act No. 8424, or the Tax Reform Act of 1997, there is an amusement tax public interest is beyond abnegation.
imposed on operators of jai-alai (Section 125) and a stamp tax on jai-alai tickets (Section 190).
It is stressed that the case at bar does not involve a franchise to operate a public utility (such as
There is no corresponding imposition on gambling casinos. Well to note, Section 13 of P.D. No.
water, transportation, communication or electricity)—the operation of which undoubtedly
1869 grants to the franchise holder and casino operators tax exemptions from the payment of
redounds to the benefit of the general public. What is claimed is an alleged legislative grant of a
customs duties and income tax, except a franchise tax of five (5%) percent which shall be in lieu
gambling franchise—a franchise to operate jai-alai. A statute which legalizes a gambling activity
of all kinds of taxes, levies, fees or assessments of any kind, nature or description, levied,
or business should be strictly construed and every reasonable doubt must be resolved to limit
established or collected by any municipal, provincial, or national government authority. No
the powers and rights claimed under its authority.36
similar exemptions have been extended to operators of jai-alai frontons.

The dissent would like to make capital of the fact that the cases of Stone vs. Mississippi and
FIFTH. P.D. No. 1869, the present Charter of PAGCOR, is a consolidation of P.D. Nos. 1067-A,
Aicardi vs. Alabama are not on all fours to the cases at bar and, hence, the rulings therein do not
1067-B and 1067-C all issued on January 1, 1977, P.D. No. 1067-A created the PAGCOR and
apply. The perceived incongruity is more apparent than real.
defined its powers and functions; P.D. No. 1067-B granted to PAGCOR a franchise to establish,
operate, and maintain gambling casinos on land or water within the territorial jurisdiction of the
Stone37 involves a contract entered into by the State of Mississippi with the plaintiffs which
Republic of the Philippines; and P.D. No. 1067-C granted PAGCOR the exclusive right, privilege
allowed the latter to sell and dispose of certificates of subscription which would entitle the
and authority to operate and maintain gambling casinos, subject only to the exception of existing
holders thereof to such prizes as may be awarded to them, by the casting of lots or by lot, chance
franchises and games of chance permitted by law.
or otherwise. The contract was entered into by plaintiffs pursuant to their charter entitled “An
Act Incorporating the Mississippi Agricultural, Educational and Manufacturing Aid Society” which
Beyond debate, P.D. No. 1869 adopted substantially the provisions of said prior decrees, with
purportedly granted them the franchise to issue and sell lottery tickets. However, the state
some additions which, however, have no bearing on the franchise granted to PAGCOR to operate
constitution expressly prohibits and legislature from authorizing any lottery or allowing the sale
gambling casinos alone, such as the Affiliation Provisions under Title III and the Transitory
of lottery tickets. Mississippi law makes it unlawful to conduct a lottery.
Provisions under Title VII. It also added the term “lotteries” under Section 1 (b) on Declaration of
The question raised in Stone concerned the authority of the plaintiffs to exercise the franchise or We reject this simplistic reading of the law considering the social, moral and public policy
privilege of issuing and selling lottery tickets. This is essentially the issue involved in the cases at implications embedded in the cases at bar. The plain meaning rule used in the dissent rests on
bar, that is, whether PAGCOR’s charter includes the franchise to operate jai-alai frontons. the assumption that there is no ambiguity or obscurity in the language of the law. The fact,
Moreover, even assuming argu-endo that the facts in the cases at bar are not identical, the however, that the statute admits of different interpretations is the best evidence that the statute
principles of law laid down in Stone are illuminating. For one, it was held in Stone that: is vague and ambiguous.39 It is widely acknowledged that a statute is ambiguous when it is
capable of being understood by reasonably well-informed persons in either of two or more
“Experience has shown that the common forms of gambling are comparatively innocuous when senses.40 In the cases at bar, it is difficult to see how a literal reading of the statutory text would
placed in contrast with the wide-spread pestilence of lotteries. The former are confined to a few unerringly reveal the legislative intent. To be sure, the term “jai-alai” was never used and is
persons and places, but the latter infests the whole community; it enters every dwelling; it nowhere to be found in the law. The conclusion that it is included in the franchise granted to
reaches every class; it preys upon the hard earnings of the poor; and it plunders the ignorant and PAGCOR cannot be based on a mere cursory perusal of and a blind reliance on the ordinary and
simple, x x x”38 plain meaning of the statutory terms used such as “gaming pools” and “lotteries.” Sutherland
tells us that a statute is “ambiguous,” and so open to explanation by extrinsic aids, not only when
The verity that all species of gambling are pernicious prompted the Mississippi Court to rule that
its abstract meaning or the connotation of its terms is uncertain, but also when it is uncertain in
the legislature cannot bargain away public health or public morals. We can take judicial notice of
its application to, or effect upon, the fact-situation of the case at bar.41
the fact that jai-alai frontons have mushroomed in every nook and corner of the country. They
are accessible to everyone and they specially mangle the morals of the marginalized sector of Similarly, the contention in the dissent that:
society. It cannot be gainsaid that there is but a minuscule of a difference between jai-alai and
lottery with respect to the evils sought to be prevented. “x x x Even if the Court is fully persuaded that the legislature really meant and intended
something different from what it enacted, and that the failure to convey the real meaning was
In the case of Aicardi vs. Alabama, Moses & Co. was granted a legislative franchise to carry on due to inadvertence or mistake in the use of the language, yet, if the words chosen by the
gaming in the form specified therein, and its agent, Antonio Aicardi, was indicted for keeping a legislature are not obscure or ambiguous, but convey a precise and sensible meaning (excluding
gaming table. In ascertaining whether the scope of the company’s franchise included the right to the case of obvious clerical errors or elliptical forms of expression), then the Court must take the
keep a gaming table, the Court there held that “such an Act should be construed strictly. Every law as it finds it, and give it its literal interpretation, without being influenced by the probable
reasonable doubt should be so resolved as to limit the powers and rights claimed under its legislative meaning lying at the back of the words. In that event, the presumption that the
authority. Implications and intendments should have no place except as they are inevitable from legislature meant what it said, though it be contrary to the fact, is conclusive.”
the language or the context.”
cannot apply in the cases at bar considering that it has not been shown that the failure to convey
The view expressed in the dissent that the aforequoted ruling was taken out of context is the true intention of the legislature is attributable to inadvertence or a mistake in the language
perched on the premise that PAGCOR’s franchise is couched in a language that is broad enough used.
to cover the operations of jai-alai. This view begs the question for as shown in our disquisition,
PAGCOR’s franchise is restricted only to the operation of gambling casinos. Aicardi supports the EIGHTH. Finally, there is another reason why PAGCOR’s claim to a legislative grant of a franchise
thesis that a gambling franchise should be strictly construed due to its ill-effects on public order to operate jai-alai should be subjected to stricter scrutiny. The so-called legislative grant to
and morals. SEVENTH. The dissent also insists that the legislative intent must be sought first of all PAGCOR did not come from a real Congress. It came from President Marcos who assumed
in the language of the statute itself. In applying a literal interpretation of the provision under legislative powers under martial law. The grant is not the result of deliberations of the duly
Section 11 of P.D. 1869 that “x x x the Corporation is hereby granted x x x the rights, privileges, elected representatives of our people.
and authority to operate and maintain gambling casinos, clubs, and other recreation or
amusement places, sports, gaming pools, i.e., basketball, football, lotteries, etc. x x x,” it This is not to assail President Marcos’ legislative powers granted by Amendment No. 6 of the
contends that the extent and nature of PAGCOR’s franchise is so broad that literally all kinds of 1973 Constitution, as the dissent would put it. It is given that in the exercise of his legislative
sports and gaming pools, including jai-alai, are covered therein. It concluded that since under power, President Marcos legally granted PAGCOR’s franchise to operate gambling casinos. The
Section 11 of P.D. No. 1869, games of skill like basketball and football have been lumped validity of this franchise to operate gambling casinos is not, however, the issue in the cases at
together with the word “lotteries” just before the word “etc.” and after the words “gaming bar. The issue is whether this franchise to operate gambling casinos includes the privilege to
pools,” it may be deduced from the wording of the law that when bets or stakes are made in operate jai-alai. PAGCOR says it does. We hold that it does not. PAGCOR’s overarching claim
connection with the games of skill, they may be classified as games of chance under the coverage should be given the strictest scrutiny because it was granted by one man who governed when
of PAGCOR’s franchise. the country was under martial law and whose governance was repudiated by our people in EDSA
1986. The reason for this submission is rooted in the truth that PAGCOR’s franchise was not
granted by a real Congress where the passage of a law requires a more rigorous process in terms
of floor deliberations and voting by members of both the House and the Senate. It is self-evident P.D. No. 483, enacted on 13 June 1974, penalizes betting, game fixing or point shaving and
that there is a need to be extra cautious in treating this alleged grant of a franchise as a grant by machinations in sports contests, including jai-alai. Section 2 thereof expressly provides:
the legislature, as a grant by the representatives of our people, for plainly it is not. We now have
a real Congress and it is best to let Congress resolve this issue considering its policy ramifications SECTION 2. Betting, game fixing, point shaving or game machinations unlawful.—Game fixing,
on public order and morals. point shaving, machination, as defined in the preceding Section, in connection with the games of
basketball, volleyball, softball, baseball, chess, boxing bouts, “jai-alai,” “sipa,” “pelota” and all
In view of this ruling, we need not resolve the other issues raised by petitioners. other sports contests, games or races; as well as betting therein except as may be authorized by
law, is hereby declared unlawful.
WHEREFORE, the petitions are GRANTED. Respondents PAGCOR, Belle Jai Alai Corporation and
Filipinas Gaming Entertainment Totalizator Corporation are ENJOINED from managing, The succeeding Section 3 provides for the penalties.
maintaining and operating jai-alai games, and from enforcing the agreement entered into by
them for that purpose. On 11 June 1978, P.D. No. 1602 (75 O.G. No. 15, 3270), Prescribing Stiffer Penalties on Illegal
Gambling, was enacted to increase the penalties provided in various “Philippine Gambling Laws
SO ORDERED. such as Articles 195-199 of the Revised Penal Code (Forms of Gambling and Betting), R.A. No.
3063 (Horse Racing Bookies), P.D. No. 449 (Cock-fighting), P.D. No. 483 (Game Fixing), P.D. No.
Melo, Panganiban, Pardo, Buena, Gonzaga-Reyes and Ynares-Santiago, Jr., JJ., concur. 510 (Slot Machines) in relation to Opinion Nos. 33 and 97 of the Ministry of Justice, P.D. No. 1306
(Jai-alai Bookies), and other City and Municipal Ordinances on gambling all over the country,”
Davide, Jr. (C.J.), Please see Separate Opinion.
Section 1 thereof reads:
Bellosillo, Kapunan and Quisumbing, JJ., We join the opinion of J. De Leon, Jr.
Both P.D. No. 483 and P.D. No. 1602 were promulgated in the exercise of the police power of the
State.
Vitug, J., Please see Separate Opinion.

Pursuant to Section 2 of P.D. No. 483, which was not repealed by P.D. No. 1602 since the former
Mendoza, J., I join in the Separate Opinion of Vitug, J.
is not inconsistent with the latter in that respect, betting in jai-alai is illegal unless allowed by
De Leon, Jr., J., Please see Dissenting Opinion. law. There was such a law, P.D. No. 810, which authorized the Philippine Jai-Alai and Amusement
Corporation as follows:
SEPARATE OPINION
SECTION 2. The grantee or its duly authorized agent may offer, take or arrange bets within or
DAVIDE, JR., C.J.: outside the place, enclosure or court where the Basque pelota games are held: Provided, That
bets offered, taken or arranged outside the place, enclosure or court where the games are held,
In my Separate Opinion in G.R. No. 115044 (Alfredo Lim vs. Hon. Felipe Pacquing) and G.R. No. shall be offered, taken or arranged only in places duly licensed by the corporation. Provided,
117263 (Teofisto Guingona vs. Hon. Vetino Reyes), 240 SCRA 649, 685, I reiterated my prior view however, That the same shall be subject to the supervision of the Board. No person other than
in a supplemental concurring opinion I submitted in the earlier case, G.R. No. 115044 that jai alai the grantee or its duly authorized agents shall take or arrange bets on any pelotari or on the
is not a game of chance, but a sport based on skill. Betting on the results thereof can only be game, or maintain or use a totalizator or other device, method or system to bet on any pelotari
allowed by Congress, and I am not aware of any new law authorizing such betting. or on the game within or without the place, enclosure or court where the games are held by the
grantee. Any violation of this section shall be punished by a fine or not more than two thousand
I said therein, thus:
pesos or by imprisonment of not more than six months, or both in the discretion of the Court. If
It follows then that the Mayor’s Permit ordered by the trial court to be issued to the private the offender is a partnership, corporation or association, the criminal liability shall devolve upon
respondent is not a license or authority to allow betting or wagering on the results of the jai-alai its president, directors or any officials responsible for the violation.
games. Jai-alai is a sport based on skill. Under Article 197 of the Revised Penal Code, before it
However, as stated in the ponencia, P.D. No. 810 was repealed by E.O. No. 169 issued by then
was amended by P.D. No. 1602, betting upon the result of any boxing or other sports contests
President Corazon C. Aquino, I am not aware of any other law which authorizes betting in jai alai.
was penalized with arresto menor or a fine not exceeding P200.00, or both. Article 2019 of the
It follows then that while the private respondent may operate the jai-alai fronton and conduct
Civil Code provides that “[b]etting on the results of sports, athletic competitions, or games of skill
jai-alai games, it can do so solely as a sports contest. Betting on the results thereof, whether
may be prohibited by local ordinances.”
within or off-fronton, is illegal and the City of Manila cannot, under the present state of the law,
license such betting. The dismissal of the petition in this case sustaining the challenged orders of
the trial court does not legalize betting, for this Court is not the legislature under our systems of Indeed, the grant of a franchise is a purely legislative act that cannot be delegated to PAGCOR
government. without violating the Constitution.7 The thesis rests on the maxim potestas delegata non delegari
potest. Any constitutionally delegated sovereign power constitutes not only a right but a duty to
My reading of the charter of the PAGCOR fails to disclose grant of a congressional authority to be performed by the delegate, the legislature in this case, through the instrumentality of its own
allow betting on the results of jai-alai. judgment. A further delegation of such power to PAGCOR would constitute a negation of this
duty in violation of the trust reposed in the delegate mandated to discharge it directly8
Accordingly, all that the PAGCOR may do is operate and conduct the jai-alai, but in no case can it
Parenthetically, under the 1987 Constitution, the only instances when the legislature may validly
allow betting on the results thereof without obtaining a statutory authority for the purpose.
delegate its assigned powers are those that involve the fixing of tariff rates to the President9 and
the inherent powers, i.e., police power, eminent domain and taxation, that may be delegated but
SEPARATE OPINION
solely to local legislative units.10
VITUG, J.:
The broad authority then of PAGCOR under its charter to enter into agreements could not have
Gambling, universally regarded to be a threat to the moral fiber of any society, is aptly a been meant to empower PAGCOR to pass on or to share its own franchise to others. Had its
prohibited activity in the Philippines. The Revised Penal Code, as well as succeeding amendatory charter intended otherwise, PAGCOR would have been itself virtually capable of extending
laws, makes “betting, game-fixing, point-shaving or game machination” on games of chance or franchise rights and thereby be a recipient of an unlawful delegation of legislative power.
skill unlawful.1 The Civil Code additionally states that “betting on the result of sports, athletic
For the foregoing considerations, I vote to grant the petitions in these cases insofar as they seek
competitions, or games of skill may be prohibited by local ordinances.”2
to enjoin respondent Philippine Amusement and Gaming Corporation (“PAGCOR”) from
An exception to the rule was introduced by the former President Ferdinand E. Marcos when he, operating jai-alai or Basque Pelota games through respondents Belle Jai Alai Corporation
in the exercise of his legislative powers under the 1973 Constitution, created the Philippine (“BELLE”) and/or Filipinas Gaming Entertainment Totalizator Corporation (“FILGAME”) or through
Amusement Games Corp. (“PAGCOR”)3 and granted it franchise to “operate and maintain any other agency, but I vote to deny the same insofar as they likewise seek to prohibit PAGCOR
gambling casinos, clubs, and other recreation or amusement places, sports, gaming pools, x x from itself managing or operating the game.
x.”4 PAGCOR was authorized to implement, among other things, an objective “to establish and
DISSENTING OPINION
operate clubs and casinos for amusement and recreation, including games of chance, which
(might) be allowed by law within the territorial jurisdiction of the Philippines.”5
DE LEON, JR., J.:
The ponencia views the law to be broad enough to authorize PAGCOR to operate all kinds of
I respectfully dissent from the majority opinion of Mr. Justice Reynato S. Puno granting the
sports and gaming pools, inclusive of jai alai, in the country. Such does appear to be the case, and
consolidated petitions in these two cases.
a statute which is sufficiently clear and free from serious ambiguity can only be given its literal
meaning and simply be applied. Quite a different matter, however, submits itself with regard to SUPREME COURT REPORTS ANNOTATED
PAGCOR’s power to enter into joint venture agreements in the operation and management of
such games. Del Mar vs. Philippine Amusement and Gaming Corporation

PAGCOR has entered into a joint venture agreement with Belle Jai Alai Corporation (“BELLE”) and An exposition of these two cases would be helpful.
Filipinas Gaming Entertainment Totalizator Corporation (“FILGAME”) in the operation and
management of jai alai games. The two firms, under the agreement, would also furnish the jai Here are two consolidated cases filed against respondent Philippine Amusement and Gaming
alai fronton facilities. I see in the joint venture agreement a situation that places BELLE and Corporation (hereinafter referred to as PAGCOR) to desist from managing and/or operating jai
FILGAME in active endeavor with PAGCOR in conducting jai alai games. Without a congressional alai or Basque pelota games, by itself or with the “infrastructure facilities” of co-respondents
franchise of its own, neither BELLE nor FILGAME can lawfully engage into the activity. Thus, in Belle Jai Alai Corporation (hereinafter called BELLE) and Filipinas Gaming Entertainment
Lim vs. Pacquing,6 this Court held that Associated Development Corporation, having had no Totalizator Corporation (hereinafter called FILGAME).
franchise from Congress to operate the jai alai, could not do so even if it had a license or permit
In G.R. No. 138298, Raoul B. del Mar, in his capacity as member of the House of Representatives
from the city mayor t& operate that game in the City of Manila. While PAGCOR is allowed under
representing the First District of Cebu and as a taxpayer, filed a petition for prohibition, with
its charter to enter into agreements in its authorized operations, that power, upon the other
prayer for temporary restraining order, against PAGCOR for conducting jai alai or Basque pelota
hand, cannot be so construed as to permit it to likewise grant a veritable franchise to any other
games. In the said petition filed with this Court on May 6, 1999, del Mar alleged that the
person, individual or firm.
operation of jai alai games by PAGCOR is illegal since its franchise does not include the power to Prayer for Issuance of Temporary Restraining Order, with this Court to compel PAGCOR to refrain
open, pursue, conduct, operate, control and manage jai alai game operations in the country. from operating and managing jai alai games. The petition was docketed as G.R. No. 138982.
Petitioners Sandoval and Defensor alleged that the franchise of PAGCOR does not include the
Under Section 10 of Presidential Decree No. 1869, PAGCOR’s nature and term of franchise which operation of jai alai, jai alai being one of the activities prohibited under the Revised Penal Code,
is therein contained, is as follows: as amended by P.D. No. 1602 otherwise known as the Anti-Gambling Law. Petitioners further
averred that jai alai is not a game of chance and cannot be the subject of a PAGCOR franchise.
SEC. 10. Nature and term of franchise.—Subject to the terms and conditions established in this
Decree, the corporation is hereby granted for a period of twenty-five (25) years, renewable for On August 17, 1999, petitioner del Mar filed a motion for leave to file a supplemental petition in
another twenty-five (25) years, the rights, privilege and authority to operate and maintain G.R. No. 138298, impleading BELLE and FILGAME as additional respondents. The said motion for
gambling casinos, clubs, and other recreations or amusement places, sports, gaming pools, i.e. leave was granted. In his supplemental petition denominated as “Petition for Certiorari,
basketball, football, lotteries, etc. whether on land or sea, within the territorial jurisdiction of the Prohibition with prayer for Temporary Restraining Order and Injunctive Writ” petitioner
Republic of the Philippines. questioned the authority of PAGCOR to enter into an agreement with BELLE and FILGAME for the
opening, establishment, operation, control and management of jai alai operations. Petitioner
PAGCOR, in conducting Basque pelota games otherwise known as jai alai, relied on the Opinion
alleged that in entering into the said agreement with BELLE and FILGAME, PAG-COR has virtually
of the Secretary of Justice dated July 16, 1996 that “the authority of PAGCOR under its charter to
relinquished its control and management of the jai alai operations to the said corporations.
operate and maintain games of chance or gambling extends to jai alai which is a form of sport or
Petitioner further al-
game played for bets and that the charter of PAGCOR (P.D. No. 1869) amounts to a legislative
franchise for the purpose.”1 538

________________

538

1 Opinion No. 67, S., 1996. G.R. No. 138298, Rollo, pp. 171-172. SUPREME COURT REPORTS ANNOTATED

537 Del Mar vs. Philippine Amusement and Gaming Corporation

leged that assuming that PAGCOR has the requisite franchise to operate jai alai, it is still under
obligation to conduct an open and fair public bidding to determine the capability of the parties
VOL. 346, NOVEMBER 29, 2000
concerned who may be interested to provide funds for capital expenditures, including an
integrated computer network system for fronton and off fronton betting stations and the
537
infrastructure or facilities of the fronton at Manila. Petitioner alleged that contracts that require
Del Mar vs. Philippine Amusement and Gaming Corporation competitive public bidding relate to infrastructure projects or public works and the procurement
of equipment, supplies and materials.
On June 17, 1999, PAGCOR entered into a joint venture agreement with BELLE and FILGAME
relating to the opening, operation, control and management of jai alai games operations in the On September 24, 1999, Juan Miguel Zubiri, as a taxpayer and member of the House of
country. Under the said agreement which is coterminous with the franchise of PAGCOR, BELLE Representatives representing the Third District of Bukidnon, filed a petition for intervention in
and FILGAME will provide technical assistance to PAGCOR with respect to various aspects of jai G.R. No. 138982. Zubiri alleged that the legislative power to grant franchises for the operation of
alai operations including the operation of computerized nationwide network of on-line betting jai alai has not been delegated by Congress to anyone. By operating jai alai without the required
systems. The jai alai fronton facilities will be provided by BELLE and FILGAME, on a free-rent legislative franchise, PAGCOR has effectively usurped the authority of Congress to grant
basis, to PAGCOR. PAGCOR, on the other hand, shall consult BELLE and FILGAME as regards the franchises in violation of the Constitution.
formulation of the terms of appointment of their personnel.
Considering that BELLE and FILGAME were impleaded as additional respondents in G.R. No.
On July 1, 1999, Federico S. Sandoval II and Michael T. Defensor, in their capacity as members of 138298, the Court required BELLE and FILGAME on March 21, 2000 to file their respective
the House of Representatives representing the lone district of Malabon-Navotas and the 3rd comments.
District of Quezon City respectively, and as taxpayers, filed a Petition for Injunctive Relief with
On April 18, 2000, BELLE and FILGAME, thru counsel, filed their comment praying for the BELLE and FILGAME which will provide infrastructure facilities to PAGCOR on a rent free basis. I
dismissal of the petition in G.R. No. 138298 on the ground that it is essentially an action for quo cannot see how the Court could treat the subject petitions as taxpayers’ suits when there is
warranto which may only be commenced by the Solicitor General. nothing, apart from petitioners’ bare allegations, to prove that the operations of jai alai would
involve expenditure of public funds. Neither does the pivotal issue raised relate to a
On July 6, 2000, the Solicitor General filed a motion to consolidate G.R. No. 138982 with G.R. No. constitutional question inasmuch as only the scope of PAGCOR’s franchise, and not its validity, is
138298 inasmuch as the issues raised are identical. On August 8, 2000, we granted the said assailed.
motion for consolidation.
This Court is faced, however, with the issue as to the standing of the petitioners who filed their
In both G.R. Nos. 138982 and 138298, no temporary restraining order was issued by this Court. petitions, in their capacity as taxpayers and members of the House of Representatives, alleging
infringement by PAGCOR on the legislature’s sole prerogative in the granting of a jai alai
PAGCOR’s comments, through the Office of the Government Corporate Counsel and the Office of
franchise. Respondents PAGCOR, BELLE and FILGAME contend, however, that the pivotal issue
the Solicitor General, to these consolidated petitions or cases may be essentially summarized as
raised by petitioners is whether or not PAGCOR has violated any law or has committed acts
follows:
beyond the scope of its franchise when it entered into the said Agreement with BELLE and
FILGAME for the resumption of jai alai operations. Respondents aver that petitioners, in
I. Petitioners have no legal standing to file a taxpayer’s suit based on their alleged cause of action
consequence, raised an issue which may be commenced and prosecuted only by the Solicitor
nor are they a real party in interest entitled to the avails of the suit
General through a quo warranto action.
II. An action for injunction is not among the cases or proceedings originally cognizable by the
In support of their position, respondents cite Section 2, Rule 66 of the old Rules of Civil
Honorable Supreme Court
Procedure governing quo warranto proceedings against legally incorporated entities which reads:
III. The franchise of PAGCOR includes its authority and power to open, pursue, conduct, operate,
Sec. 2. Like actions against corporation.—A like action may be brought against a corporation:
control and manage jai alai operations in the country
A) When it has offended against a provision of an act for its creation.
In its comment in G.R. No. 138298, PAGCOR further alleged that:
xxx
IV. Per its charter, the corporate authority and power of PAGCOR to operate and conduct jai alai
games include the express power to enter into joint venture agreements
D) When it has misused a right, privilege, or franchise conferred upon it by law, or when it has
exercised a right, privilege or franchise, or franchise in contravention of law.
V. The joint venture Agreement dated June 17, 1999 entered into by and among PAGCOR, Belle
Jai alai Corporation (BELLE) and Filipinas Gaming Entertainment Totalizator Corporation
Respondents maintain that although Section 2 of Rule 66 was not reproduced in the 1997 Rules
(FILGAME) does not require any public bidding for its validity
of Civil Procedure, an action for quo warranto may still be commenced by the Solicitor General
before the Court based on the aforesaid section.
Respondent PAGCOR maintains that petitioners have no standing to file a taxpayer’s suit since
there is no showing that these cases involve expenditure of public funds.
Quo warranto literally means: “By what authority.” It is an extraordinary legal remedy whereby
the State challenges a person or an entity to show by what authority he holds a public office or
In Kilosbayan, Incorporated vs. Morato 2 we have categorically stated that taxpayers, voters,
exercises a public franchise. It is commenced by the Solicitor General in the name of the Republic
concerned citizens and legislators, as such, may bring suit only (1) in cases involving
of the Philippines against a usurper or against a corporation, on the proposition that the State is
constitutional issues and (2) under certain conditions. Taxpayers are allowed to sue, for example,
the aggrieved party. The Solicitor General institutes the action when directed by the President of
where there is a claim of illegal disbursement of public funds or where a tax measure is assailed
the Philippines, or when upon a complaint or otherwise, he has good reason to believe that any
as unconstitutional. Concerned citizens can bring suits if the constitutional question they raise is
of the cases specified under the law exists to warrant the institution of a quo warranto
of transcendental importance which must be settled early. While herein petitioners and
proceedings. Quo warranto proceedings against corporations are instituted to demand the
intervenor claim illegal disbursement of public funds by PAGCOR in the resumption of the
forfeiture of their franchise or charter.
operations of jai alai games, there is nothing on record to show involvement of any expenditure
of public money on the part of PAGCOR. In fact, what is essentially raised as an issue is whether
It is clear that Section 2 of Rule 66 of the old Rules of Court governing quo warranto proceedings
PAGCOR has the requisite franchise to operate jai alai games and whether it is authorized under
against legally incorporated entities, is not reproduced in the 1997 Rules of Civil Procedure.
its charter to enter into joint venture agreements with private corporations. More specifically,
Proceedings against legally incorporated entities, alleging misuse of its rights, privileges and
under the joint venture Agreement dated June 17, 19993 it is private respondent corporations
franchises granted by law, at the time the subject petitions before this Court were filed in May
and July 1999, respectively, up to the time the last pleading was filed on July 7, 2000, were declared in Philconsa vs. Enriquez 9 that “to the extent that the powers of Congress are impaired,
governed by Section 5 (b) of P.D. 902-A which vested the Securities and Exchange Commission so is the power of each member thereof, since his office confers a right to participate in the
(SEC) with full jurisdiction over the same.4 However, P.D. 902-A was superseded by R.A. exercise of the powers of that institution.”

4 Section 5 (b) of P.D. 902-A reads: Section 5. In addition to the regulatory and adjudicative A more careful scrutiny is warranted, therefore, with regard to the issue as to whether the
functions of the Securities and Exchange Commission over corporations, partnerships and other powers and rights of petitioners, as members of Congress, are in any way impaired by
forms of associations registered with it as expressly granted under existing laws and decrees, it respondent PAGCOR’s act of operating and maintaining jai alai games.
shall have original and exclusive jurisdiction to hear and decide cases involving:
There is no dispute that the power to grant franchises rests within the legislative branch of
xxx government. In a legal or narrower sense, the term “franchise” is more often used to designate a
right or privilege conferred by law. The view taken in a number of cases is that to be a franchise,
(b) Controversies arising out of intra-corporate or partnership relations between and among the right possessed must be such as cannot be exercised without the express permission of a
stockholders, members or associates; between 8799,5 which took effect on August 8, 2000. sovereign power, that is, a privilege or immunity of a public nature which cannot be legally
exercised without legislative grant.10 Having the prerogative to grant franchises, Congress also
The difficulty of the issue posed by petitioners is that, in the cases at bar, the Solicitor General
has the power to revoke or repeal or alter franchises. Considering that whatever judgment may
together with the Office of the Government Corporate Counsel is the counsel for respondent
be rendered in the interpretation of the law defining the scope of PAGCOR’s franchise would
PAGCOR.
have a bearing on petitioners’ prerogative, as members of Congress, to consider whether to
modify, amend, alter, or repeal, through legislation, PAGCOR’s franchise, I believe, that in limited
This is not to say, however, that this Court cannot take cognizance of the instant cases before us.
sense, that petitioners have the requisite standing to bring these suits at bar.
While petitioners allege unlawful operation of jai alai games by PAGCOR, what is ultimately and
mainly at issue in these cases is the interpretation of PAGCOR’s franchise which defines the
Respondent PAGCOR, nevertheless, insists that an action for injunction is not among the cases or
scope of PAGCOR’s rights, privileges and authority. While the Executive branch of the
proceedings originally cognizable by the Supreme Court. In support of its contention, PAGCOR
government, through the Secretary of Justice and Office of the Government Corporate Counsel
cites the cases of Diokno vs. Reyes 11 and Garcia Gavires vs. Robinson 12 where it was held that
have interpreted respondent PAGCOR’s franchise to include the operation of jai alai, the
an application for preliminary injunction will not be entertained by this Court unless the same is
petitioners, in their capacity as members of the House of Representatives, allege a different
prayed for in connection with some other remedy or in an action actually pending before Us.
interpretation. Whether or not PAGCOR has in fact committed acts beyond the scope of its
franchise hinges upon the interpretation of PAGCOR’s franchise. Considering that said pivotal Injunction is a judicial writ, process or proceeding whereby a party is ordered to do or refrain
issue involves the interpretation of the law defining the scope of PAGCOR’s rights, privileges and from doing a particular act. It may be an action in itself brought specifically to restrain or
authority, this Court may rightfully take, as in fact it has taken, jurisdiction over the subject command the performance of an act or it may be just a provisional remedy for and as an incident
petitions. It is well-settled that the duty and power to interpret a statute belongs to the Judiciary. in the main action which may be for other reliefs. The action for injunction should not be
While the legislative and/or executive departments, by enacting and enforcing a law, confused with the ancillary and provisional remedy of preliminary injunction which cannot exist
respectively, may construe or interpret the law, it is the Supreme Court that has the final word as except only as an incident of an independent action or proceeding. In a main action for
to what the law means.6 permanent injunction, a party may ask for preliminary injunction pending the final judgment.

Having ruled that this Court can take cognizance of the subject petitions, I come back to the Section 1, Rule 56 of the 1997 Rules of Civil Procedure provides:
question as to whether petitioners, in their capacity as members of the House of
Representatives, have the requisite standing to file these two related suits. Respondent PAGCOR Section 1. Original cases cognizable.—Only petitions for certiorari, prohibition, quo warranto,
contends that petitioners who instituted these suits in their capacity as lawmakers cannot validly habeas corpus, disciplinary proceedings against members of the judiciary and attorneys, and
claim that they are suing in behalf of Congress. Respondent PAGCOR contends that the issue as cases affecting ambassadors, public ministers and consultants may be filed originally in the
to whether or not it has the authority to operate and manage jai alai games does not violate Supreme Court.
petitioners’ rights as members of Congress nor can it be deemed as impermissibly intruding into
the domain of the legislature. It is clear that no mention was made in the above-cited rule as to the jurisdiction of this Court to
entertain original actions for injunction. In the 1917 case of Madarang vs. Santamaria,13 we have
The issue as to whether a member of Congress may bring suit in his capacity as a lawmaker, ruled that the Supreme Court does not have original jurisdiction, in an action brought for that
alleging impairment of any of the powers, rights and privileges belonging to Congress, is not purpose, to grant the remedy by injunction pursuant to Section 17 of Act No. 136 which provided
novel. Citing the American cases of Coleman vs. Miller 7 and Holtzman vs. Schlesinger 8 we that the Supreme Court shall have original jurisdiction to issue writs of mandamus, certiorari,
prohibition, habeas corpus and quo warranto. As in Section 17 of Act 136, Section 1 of Rule 56 of On July 11, 1983, President Marcos issued P.D. No. 1869 for the purpose of consolidating and
the 1997 Rules of Civil Procedure has likewise not made any provision for the granting of the writ amending P.D. Nos. 1067-A, 1067-B, 1067-C, 1399 and 1632, relative to the franchise and powers
of injunction, as an original action, in the Supreme Court. Hence, the rule that this Court does not of PAGCOR. Under P.D. No. 1869, PAGCOR is mandated to implement the following state policy—
have jurisdiction over original actions for injunction still holds. This Court may, however, issue
preliminary writs of injunction in cases on appeal before Us or in original actions commenced xxx
therein pursuant to Section 2 of Rule 58 of the 1997 Rules of Civil Procedure.
(b) to establish and operate clubs and casinos, for amusement and recreation, including sports
Notwithstanding procedural lapses as to the appropriateness of the remedies prayed for in the gaming pools (basketball, football, lotteries, etc.) and such other forms of amusement and
petitions filed before Us, however, this Court can take primary jurisdiction over the said petitions recreation including games of chance which may be allowed by law within the territorial
in view of the importance of the issues raised. In some instances, this Court has even suspended jurisdiction of the Philippines and which will (1) generate sources of additional revenue to
its own rules and excepted a case from their operation whenever the higher interests of justice infrastructure and socio-civic projects, such as flood control programs, beautification, sewerage
so demanded. and sewage projects, Tulungan ng Bayan centers, Nutritional Programs, population control and
such other essential public services; (2) create recreation and integrated facilities which will
It is helpful, in the discussion of the merits of these consolidated cases, to review the history of expand and improve the country’s existing tourist attractions; and (3) minimize, if not totally
the law creating PAGCOR. eradicate, the evils, malpractices and corruptions that are normally in the conduct and operation
of gambling clubs and casinos without direct government involvement.”
On January 1, 1977, the then President Ferdinand E. Marcos, in the exercise of his legislative
powers under Amendment No. 6 of the 1973 Constitution, issued Presidential Decree (P.D.) No. It is the petitioners’ contention that PAGCOR’s franchise is limited to the management and
1067-A creating the Philippine Amusement Games Corporation (PAGCOR). PAGCOR was created operation of games of chance. They point out that P.D. No. 810 and Executive Order No. 169
and mandated to implement the following state policy: have characterized jai alai as a game of skill and consequently, the operation and management of
jai alai or Basque pelota games cannot be said to have been included in PAGCOR’s franchise. Jai
Section 1. DECLARATION OF POLICY.—It is hereby declared to be the policy of the state to alai as defined in Webster’s dictionary is a game of Basque origin resembling handball and played
centralize and integrate all games of chance not heretofore authorized by existing franchise or (as in Spain and Latin America) on a large walled court by usually two (2) or four (4) players who
permitted by law to obtain the following objectives: use a long curved wicker basket strapped to the right wrist to catch and hurl the ball against the
front wall to make it rebound in such a way that the opponent cannot return it before it has
1. To centralize and integrate the right and authority to operate and conduct games of chance
bounced more than once.14
into one corporate entity to be controlled, administered and supervised by the government;
Respondent PAGCOR, on the other hand, citing the cases of Lim vs. Pacquing and Guingona vs.
2. To establish and operate clubs and casinos, sports gaming pools (basketball, football, etc.) and
Reyes, et al.,15 claims that while jai alai in itself is not a game of chance, it may be characterized
such other for amusement and recreation, including games of chance, which may be allowed by
as a game of chance when bets are accepted as a form of gambling.
law within the territorial jurisdiction of the Philippines which will (1) generate source of
additional revenue infrastructure and socio-economic projects, such as flood control, Tulungan The object of all interpretation and construction of statutes is to ascertain the meaning and
ng Bayan Centers/Nutritional Programs, Population Control and such other essential public intention of the legislature, to the end that the same may be enforced. This meaning and
services; (2) create recreation and integrate facilities which will expand and improve the intention must be sought first of all in the language of the statute itself. For it must be presumed
country’s existing tourist attractions; (3) minimize, if not totally eradicate the evils, malpractices that the means employed by the legislature to express its will are adequate for the purpose and
and corruptions that normally are found prevalent in the conduct and operation of gambling do express that will correctly. If the language is plain and free from obscurity, it must be taken as
clubs and casinos without direct government involvement. meaning exactly what it says, whatever may be the consequences.16

On the same day, PAGCOR was granted by the then President Marcos under P.D. No. 1067-B the Section 11 of P.D. No. 1869 defining the extent and nature of PAGCOR’s franchise reads:
“franchise to establish, operate and maintain gambling casinos on land and water within the
territorial jurisdiction of the Republic of the Philippines.” PAGCOR’s franchise was further x x x the Corporation is hereby granted x x x the rights, privilege, and authority to operate and
amended under P.D. No. 1067-C for the purpose of specifying that “The franchise shall become maintain gambling casinos, clubs, and other recreation or amusement places, sports, gaming
exclusive in character, subject only to the exception of existing franchises and games of chance pools, i.e., basketball, football, lotteries, etc. x x x [italics supplied]
heretofore permitted by law.” P.D. No. 1067-A and P.D. No. 1067-B were again amended by P.D.
Nos. 1399 and 1632 relative to the provisions on Board of Directors, exemptions and allocation Contrary to the majority opinion that PAGCOR’s franchise is limited only to the management and
of fund, among others. operation of casinos, a cursory reading of the abovequoted legal provision would readily show
that the extent and nature of PAGCOR’s franchise is so broad that literally all kinds of sports and management of jai alai can and will undoubtedly generate more funds for PAGCOR as a source of
gaining pools, including jai alai, are covered therein. additional and much needed revenue for the government.

A sport is defined as “a game or contest especially when involving individual skill or prowess on It is alleged that there is no specific mention of jai alai among the games which PAGCOR can
which money is staked.”17 Gaming, on the other hand, is defined as “the act or practice of operate under its franchise. Hence, pursuant to the principle that a franchise is a special privilege
playing games for stakes.”18 P.D. No. 1869 has made express mention of basketball and football that should be construed strictly against the grantee, PAGCOR cannot claim that it is authorized
as example of gaming pools. Basketball and football, however, like jai alai are games of skills. In to conduct the operation of jai alai games.
U.S. vs. Hilario,19 the distinction between games of chance and games of skill was treated in this
wise: While there is no specific mention of jai alai as among the games of chance which PAGCOR can
operate under its franchise, the language of the law defining the scope of PAGCOR’s franchise is
This distinction between games of chance and games of skill, making betting upon the former broad enough to include the operations of jai alai as a game of chance. Where the franchise
illegal is quite well treated in State vs. Gupton (30 N.C. 271) where a game of tenpins was held contains no words either defining or limiting the powers which the holder may exercise, such
not to be a game of chance, but a game depending chiefly upon the skill of players, and betting holder has, by implication, all such powers as are reasonably necessary to enable it to accomplish
thereon consequently not prohibited by a statute prohibiting bets or wagers upon games of the purposes and object of its creation.” It is well recognized that the principle of strict
chances. construction does not preclude a fair and reasonable interpretation of such charter and
franchises, nor does it justify withholding that which satisfactorily appears to have been intended
Considering that under Section 11 of P.D. No. 1869, games of skill like basketball and football to be conveyed to the grantee.”
have been lumped together with the word “lotteries” just before the word “etc.? and after the
words “gaming pools,” it may be deduced from the wording of the law that when bets or stakes It is claimed that jai alai operations is beyond the scope of PAGCOR’s franchise inasmuch as jai
are made in connection with games of skill, they may be classified as games of chance under the alai is not allowed by law within the territorial jurisdiction of the Philippines; and that at the time
coverage of PAGCOR’s franchise. The meaning of the phrase “et cetera” or its abbreviation “etc.” of the passage of P.D. No. 1869, the operations of jai alai was already the subject of a grant to
depends largely on the context of the instrument, description and enumeration of the matters the Philippine Jai Alai and Amusement Corporation (PJAC) by virtue of P.D. Nos. 810 and 1124;
preceding the term and subject matter to which it is applied, and when used in a statute, the and that the subsequent repeal of P.D. Nos. 810 and 1124 in 1986 allegedly reverted betting on
words should be given their usual and natural signification.20 Consequently, jai alai, otherwise the results of jai alai games to the status of a criminal act under P.D. No. 1602.
known as “game of Basque pelota,” while in itself is not per se a game of chance, may be
categorized as a game of chance when bets are accepted as a form of gambling. It is a cardinal The mere granting of a franchise does not amount to an implied contract on die part of the
rule of statutory construction that when words and phrases of a statute are clear and grantor that it will not grant a rival franchise to a competing corporation or enter into a
unequivocal, their meaning must be determined from the language employed and the statute competition itself in reference to the subject of the franchise.24 Monopoly is not an essential
must be taken to mean exactly what it says. Even if the Court is fully persuaded that the feature of a franchise and the strictly legal signification of the term franchise is not always
legislature really meant and intended something different from what it enacted, and that the confined to exclusive rights.25 An examination of the provisions of P.D. No. 810 does not give us
failure to convey the real meaning was due to inadvertence or mistake in the use of language, any indication that the franchise granted to PJAC to operate jai alai is exclusive in character.
yet, if the words chosen by the legislature are not obscure or ambiguous, but convey a precise Given the broad language of P.D. 1869 defining the scope of PAGCOR’s franchise, I find no reason
and sensible meaning (excluding the case of obvious clerical errors or elliptical forms of why the operations of jai alai cannot be deemed as included in its franchise. Besides, the
expression), then the Court must take the law as it finds it, and give it its literal interpretation, subsequent repeal of P.D. Nos. 810 and 1124 in 1986 by E.O. No. 610 only meant that PJAC was
without being influenced by the probable legislative meaning lying at the back of the words. In no longer entitled to exercise its rights under its former franchise. E.O. No. 610, otherwise known
that event, the presumption that the legislature meant what it said, though it be contrary to the as Repealing Presidential Decree No. 810, entitled “An Act Granting the Philippine Jai Alai and
fact, is conclusive.21 Amusement Corporation a Franchise to Operate, Construct and Maintain a Fronton for Basque
Pelota and Similar Games of Skill in the Greater Manila Area,” as amended, and Accordingly
Notably, even the literal application of the word “etc.” does not run counter to the reason for the Revoking and Canceling the Right, Privilege and Authority granted therein in itself did not delimit
enactment of the statute and the purpose to be gained by it. P.D. No. 1869, the law amending the scope of the franchise of PAGCOR especially since E.O. No. 610 was specific enough to
and consolidating P.D. Nos. 1067-A, 1067-B, 1067-C, 1399 and 1632, Relative to the Franchise identify the repeal of the law (P.D. No. 810) granting a certain franchise, i.e. PJAC’s franchise. As
and Powers of PAGCOR, was issued by the then President Marcos, pursuant to the observation regards P.D. No. 1602, it should be stressed that it did not outlaw the operations of jai alai. It
that PAGCOR’s operation has enabled the government to identify potential sources of additional merely provided for stiffer penalties for illegal or unauthorized activities related to jai alai and
revenue for the government provided all games of chance are managed and made subject to the other forms of gambling.
close scrutiny, regulation, supervision and control by the government. The operation and
The majority opinion makes much issue of the fact that the franchise of PAGCOR under P.D. No. integrate all games of chance not heretofore authorized by existing franchises or permitted by
1869 came from President Marcos who assumed legislative powers under martial law. He law in order to attain the following objectives” x x x“to minimize the evils, malpractices and
stresses that “the so-called legislative grant to PAGCOR did not come from a real Congress.” I corruptions that normally are found prevalent in the conduct and operation of gambling clubs
would like to point out, however, the fact that the validity of PAGCOR’s franchise has already and casinos without direct government involvement.” PAGCOR’s right to operate jai alai games
been upheld in the case of Basco vs. PAGCOR.26 As earlier stated, the main issue before this as legalized games of chance under its franchise, is in fact a measure which flows from the
Court is the scope of the aforesaid franchise of PAGCOR and not its validity. The majority opinion legislature’s exercise of police power. In Basco vs. PAGCOR this Court have so declared that
does not dispute that PAGCOR under P.D. No. 1869 has the requisite franchise to operate “Public welfare lies at the bottom of the enactment of P.D. No. 1869.”29
gambling casinos. In the same vein, however, it is argued that P.D. No. 1869 cannot be held as a
valid legislative grant of franchise for the operation of jai alai games. President Marcos had Reliance in the majority opinion on the case of Aicardi vs. Alabama 30 that a statute which
legislative power to grant PAGCOR a franchise to operate all other games of chance including jai legalizes a gambling activity or business should be strictly construed and every reasonable doubt
alai. President Marcos’ exercise of legislative power, under Amendment No. 6 during the martial must be resolved to limit the powers and ri