Friday, October 12, 2012

aliman digest

Serana vs. Sandiganbayan    GR No. 162059

Hannah Eunice D.  Serana was a senior student of the University of the Philippines-Cebu (UP). She was appointed by then President Joseph Estrada on December 21, 1999 as a student regent of UP, to serve a one-year term starting January 1, 2000 and ending on December 31, 2000.

Petitioner received 15 million from President Estrada for the renovation of the Vinzons Hall Annex. However such renovation failed to materialized. Hence, ombudsman filed a charge of estafa to the sandiganbayan.

Can petitioner be charged of estafa in the Sandiganbayan? Can petitioner be considered as public officer?

Petitioner can be charged of estafa as provided in Section 4(B) of P.D.  No.  1606. The Sandiganbayan has jurisdiction over other felonies committed by public officials in relation to their office.  We see no plausible or sensible reason to exclude estafa as one of the offenses included in Section 4(bB) of P.D.  No.  1606.  Plainly, estafa is one of those other felonies.  The jurisdiction is simply subject to the twin requirements that (a) the offense is committed by public officials and employees mentioned in Section 4(A) of P.D.  No.  1606, as amended, and that (b) the offense is committed in relation to their office.

As to the issue of whether or not petitioner is a public officer. It was held in Laurel vs Desierto, that public office is the right, authority, and duty created and conferred by law, by which for a given period, either fixed by law or enduring at the pleasure of the creating power, an individual is invested with some portion of the sovereign functions of the government, to be exercise by him for the benefit of the public. The individual so invested is a public officer.

Since BOR performs functions similar to those of a board of trustees of a non-stock corporation. By express mandate of law, petitioner is a public officer as contemplated by P.D. No. 1606 the statute defining the jurisdiction of the Sandiganbayan. It is well established that compensation is not an essential element of public office. At most, it is merely incidental to the public office. Hence, Petitioner is a public officer by express mandate of P.D.No. 1606 and jurisprudence.

Disini vs. Sandiganbayan G.R. No. 175730

On July 23, 1987, the Republic (through PCGG) filed with the Sandiganbayan a civil complaint for reconveyance, reversion, accounting, restitution, and damages against petitioner Herminio T. Disini (Disini), spouses Ferdinand and Imelda Marcos (Marcos spouses) and Rodolfo B. Jacob (Jacob). Summons for Disini was unserved on the ground that petitioner did not live at the given address, which was No. 92 Kennedy St., Greenhills, San Juan, Metro Manila. The occupants of said address were the Roman family. Republic exhausted all efforts to ascertain the whereabouts of petitioner Disini.  Failing to do so, the Republic resorted to service of summons by publication.

Whether or not service of summons by publication acquire jurisdiction over the person of the petitioner?

It has been a settled rule that by seeking affirmative relief, voluntary appearance or submission to the jurisdiction of the Sandiganbayan constitute waiver on the objection regarding lack of jurisdiction over the person of the petitioner. Jurisprudence holds that an objection based on lack of jurisdiction over the person is waived when the defendant files a motion or pleading which seeks affirmative relief other than the dismissal of the case.

Alvizo vs. Sandiganbayan

Petitioners Alvizo were charged of violation of RA 3019 (Anti-graft and corrupt practices act) for issuances of fake Letters of Advice of Allotments (LAAs) and Sub-Advices of Cash Disbursement Ceilings (SACDCs) during the period of 1976-1978 in various Highway Engineering Districts (HEDs) of Region VII. The Audit team found out that fake LAAs and SACDCs were issued in the year 1977 leading to irregular disbursements of public funds for the payment of
“ghost” projects.

Testimonies which the prosecution presented are:Of the then Supervising COA Auditor Ruth Paredes which established the standard operating procedure in the releases of allotments to fund the highway projects or the maintenance and repair of the existing ones in the different regions of the MPH; Prosecution witness Felicitas Ona, then Auditor V, who was assigned as a member of the team formed by the Performance Audit Office to investigate the extent of the anomaly in the MPH Central and the Regional Offices; Prosecution witness Manuel Dionisio, a Senior Agent of the NBI and member of the Special Task Force of the Cabinet Committee; Accused-turned-state witness, Delia Preagido who testified that she was employed in the MPH, Region VII, holding the position of Accountant III, sometime in the last week of January 1977,accused Mangubat, Chief Accountant of RegionVII, asked her to stay after office hours and told her that they could get a big money out of the simulated LAAs by selling them to the Contractors, District Accountant, District Engineer and the Assistant District Engineer. Fe delos Reyes, then Auditing Examiner II at theCebu 2nd HED, likewise an accused-turned state witness, testified that sometime in the first quarter of 1977, she was instructed by petitioner Auditor Efren Coyoca to inspect the delivery of supplies and materials at the project site of the Argao Dalaguete project but she found no deliveries therein. She then reported the non-delivery to petitioner Coyoca who told her that he had to confer the matter with petitioner Engr.Rafael Rabaya, Jr. She was later called by petitioner Coyoca to his office and told her, in the presence of petitioner Rabaya, to just sign all the prepared tally sheets and inspection reports as Coyoca would assume the responsibility if anything went wrong. Thereafter, she just signed tally sheets and reports without actually going to the jobsites to inspect the deliveries of supplies and materials because she knew that there would be no deliveries to be made.

Whether the evidence of the prosecution has proven beyond reasonable doubt that the crime charged was committed by petitioners.

The evidence for the prosecution had clearly established the existence of these fake LAAs and SACDCs which became the bases of the subject 199 general vouchers and checks issued to contractors/suppliers in payment for the alleged deliveries of materials in the different project sites. Prosecution witnesses Ruth Paredes and Felicitas Ona, both COA Auditors who were tasked to investigate the issuances of these fake LAAs and SACDCs, had clearly identified the badges of fraud in the issuances of these fake LAAs which were released to Cebu 2nd HED. It was established among others that while the regular LAAs were recorded in the logbook maintained by the Regional Office, the fake LAAs and SACDCs following their issuances were not entered in the logbook. The entry in the logbook is an important safeguard against fraud; thus, the failure to enter the LAAs and SACDCs in the logbook necessarily indicates irregularity and fraud.

Such finding by the COA were corroborated by no less than prosecution witness Delia Preagido, an accused-turned-state witness, who had a first hand knowledge of how such falsification was done. The plea of guilty entered by accused Regional Accountant Rolando Mangubat as the author of such fraud and the signatory of all the fake LAAs and SACDCs, in effect, confirms the testimony of Delia Preagido on the falsity of the LAAs.

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