REYNALDO R. BAYOT vs. SANDIGANBAYAN (SECOND DIVISION) and PEOPLE OF THE PHILIPPINES
FACTS: Reynaldo R. Bayot is one of several persons accused in more than 100 counts of Estafa thru Falsification of Public Documents before the Sandiganbayan. The charges stemmed from his alleged involvement, as a government auditor of the Commission on Audit assigned to the Ministry of Education and Culture, with some employees of the said Ministry, the Bureau of Treasury and the Teachers' Camp in Baguio City, in the preparation and encashment of fictitious TCAA checks for non-existent obligations of the Teachers' Camp. In the meantime, Bayot ran and won as Municipal Mayor of Amadeo, Cavite in January 1980. In May 1980, the Sandiganbayan promulgated a decision convicting herein petitioner and some of his co-accused in all but one of the first 32 cases filed against them in July 1976 whereupon an appeal before the SC was taken. However in March 1982, Batas Pambansa Blg. 195 was passed amending, among others, Section 13 of Republic Act No. 3019. The amended section reads - "Sec.13. Suspension of and Loss of Benefits. Any incumbent public officer against whom any criminal prosecution under a valid information under this Act or under Title 7, Book II of the Revised Penal Code or for an offense involving fraud upon government or public funds or property whether as a simple or as a complex offense and in whatever stage of execution and mode of participation, is pending in court, shall be suspended from office. Should he be convicted by final judgment, he shall lose all retirement or gratuity benefits under any law, but if acquitted, he shall be entitled to reinstatement and to the salaries and benefits which he failed to receive during suspension, unless in the meantime administrative proceedings had been filed against him." Thereafter, all accused-public officers were suspended pendente lite from their respective offices. The motion for reconsideration alleging that to apply the provision of Batas Pambansa Blg. 195 to the herein accused would violate the constitutional guarantee of protection against an ex post facto law was denied by respondent court. Hence, this petition.
(1) Is the retroactive application of Batas Pambansa Blg. 195 violative of the constitutional prohibition against ex post facto law?
(2) Is the suspension of Bayot from office as Mayor in order?
RULING: (1) No. Section 13 of Republic Act 3019, as amended by Batas Pambansa Blg. 195, which includes the crime of Estafa thru Falsification of Public Document as among the crimes subjecting the public officer charged therewith with suspension from office pending action in court, is not a penal provision which violates the constitutional prohibition against the enactment of ex post facto law. Paragraph 3 of Article 24 of the Revised Penal Code clearly states that suspension from employment or public office during the trial or in order to institute proceedings shall not be considered as penalty because it is not imposed as a result of judicial proceedings. In fact, if acquitted, the official concerned shall be entitled to reinstatement and to the salaries and benefits which he failed to receive during suspension. Article 24 merely provides preventive measures before final judgment. Not being a penal provision, therefore, the suspension from office, pending trial of the public officer charged with crimes mentioned in the amendatory provision committed before its effectivity does not violate the constitutional provision on ex post facto law.
(2) Yes. The suspension of Bayot is in order. The use of the word "office" in the amendatory provision applies to any office which the officer charged may be holding, and not only the particular office under which he was charged.
M. LACSON vs. THE EXECUTIVE SECRETARY, THE SANDIGANBAYAN, OFFICE OF THE SPECIAL
PROSECUTOR, THE DEPARTMENT OF JUSTICE, MYRNA ABALORA, NENITA ALAP-AP, IMELDA
PANCHO MONTERO, AND THE PEOPLE OF THE PHILIPPINES. ROMEO M. ACOP and FRANCISCO
G. ZUBIA, JR., PETITIONERS-INTERVENORS.
FACTS: In May 1995, eleven (11) persons believed to be members of the Kuratong
Baleleng gang, an organized crime syndicate involved in bank robberies were
slain by elements of the Anti-Bank Robbery and Intelligence Task Group (ABRITG)
headed by Chief Superintendent Jewel Canson of the Philippine National Police
(PNP). The ABRITG was composed of police officers from the Traffic Management
Command (TMC) led by petitioner-intervenor Senior Superintendent Francisco
Zubia, Jr.; Presidential Anti-Crime Commission – Task Force Habagat (PACC-TFH)
headed by petitioner Chief Superintendent Panfilo M. Lacson; Central Police
District Command (CPDC) led by Chief Superintendent Ricardo de Leon; and the
Criminal Investigation Command (CIC) headed by petitioner-intervenor Chief
Superintendent Romeo Acop. Acting on a
media exposé of SPO2 Eduardo de los Reyes, a member of the CIC, that what
actually transpired in May 1995 was a summary execution (or a rub out) and not
a shoot-out between the Kuratong Baleleng
gang members and the ABRITG, Ombudsman Aniano Desierto formed a panel to
investigate the incident. The panel found the incident as a legitimate police
operation and absolved all PNP officers and personnel involved from any
criminal liability. However, a review board led by Overall Deputy Ombudsman
Francisco Villa modified the panel’s finding and recommended the indictment for
multiple murder against twenty-six (26) respondents, including herein
petitioner, charged as principal and
petitioner-intervenors, charged as accessories in eleven informations
filed before the Sandiganbayan which
when later amended charged Lacson only as an accessory. All accused filed
separate motions questioning the jurisdiction of the Sandiganbayan, asserting that under the amended informations, the
cases fall within the jurisdiction of the Regional Trial Court pursuant to
Section 2 of RA 7975 with contention that said law limited the jurisdiction of
the Sandiganbayan to cases where one
or more of the “principal accused” are government officials with Salary Grade
27 or higher, or PNP officials with rank of Chief Superintendent or higher and
that the accused did not satisfy said requisites. The Sandiganbayan ordered the transfer of the cases to the Quezon City
RTC in May 1996. The Special Prosecutor moved for reconsideration and while
pending resolution, R.A. No. 8249 was signed into law in February 1997 defining
and expanding the jurisdiction of the Sandiganbayan
and specifically seeking to amend its jurisdiction by deleting the word
“principal” from the phrase “principal accused” in Section 2 (now Section 4 of
RA 8249) of R.A. No. 7975. Subsequently the Sandiganbayan
retained its jurisdiction to try and decide the cases as pertinent provisions of the new law shall apply to all cases pending in any court over which trial has not begun as of its approval.
ISSUES: (1) Whether or not the Sandiganbayan has jurisdiction over petitioners on the ground that the offense of multiple murder was committed in relation to the office of the accused PNP officers. (2) Whether or not Sections 4 and 7 of R.A. 8249 violate petitioners’ Constitutional right to equal protection of the law because the enactment was particularly directed only to the Kuratong Baleleng cases (3) Whether or not the retroactive application of R.A. 8249 to the Kuratong Baleleng cases constitutes an ex post facto law
RULING: (1) The Sandiganbayan has no jurisdiction over petitioners. Section 4 of R.A. 8249 provides that for cases to fall under the exclusive original jurisdiction of the Sandiganbayan, the following requisites must concur: (1) violation of (a) R.A. 3019, as amended (the Anti-Graft and Corrupt Practices Act), (b) R.A. 1379 (the law on ill-gotten wealth), (c) Chapter II, Section 2, Title VII, Book II of the Revised Penal Code (the law on bribery), (d) Executive Order Nos. 1, 2, 14, and 14-A, issued in 1986 (sequestration cases), or (e) other offenses or felonies whether simple or complexed with other crimes; (2) the offender committing the offenses in items (a), (b), (c) and (e) is a public official or employee holding any of the positions enumerated in paragraph a of Section 4; and (3) the offense committed is in relation to the office. Considering that accused are being charged with murder, a felony punishable under the Revised Penal Code, the governing provision on the jurisdictional offense is paragraph b, Section 4 of R.A. 8249 which pertains to “other offenses or felonies” whether simple or complexed with other crimes committed by the public officials and employees mentioned in subsection a of Section 4, R.A. 8249 in relation to their office. Thus, under said paragraph b, what determines the Sandiganbayan’s jurisdiction is the official position or rank of the offender – that is, whether he is one of those public officers or employees enumerated in paragraph a of Section 4. The offenses mentioned in paragraphs a, b and c of the same Section 4 do not make any reference to the criminal participation of the accused public officer as to whether he is charged as a principal, accomplice or accessory. The law does not mention the criminal participation of the public officer as a requisite to determine the jurisdiction of the Sandiganbayan.
In People vs. Montejo, an offense is said to have been committed in relation to the office if it is “intimately connected” with the office of the offender and perpetrated while he was in the performance of his official functions. This intimate relation between the offense charged and the discharge of official duties “must be alleged in the Information. The amended informations for murder against herein petitioners are wanting of specific factual averments to show the intimate relation/connection between the offense charged and the discharge of official function of the offenders. There is no specific allegation of facts that the shooting of the victim by the said principal accused was intimately related to the discharge of their official duties as police officers. For failure to show in the amended informations that the charge of murder was intimately connected with the discharge of official functions of the accused PNP officers, the offense charged in the subject criminal cases is plain murder and, therefore, within the exclusive original jurisdiction of the Regional Trial Court, not the Sandiganbayan.
(2) Section 4 and 7 of R.A. 8249 did not violate petitioners’ right to equal protection of the law for being a legislation based on reasonable classification as there is concurrence of four elements, namely: (a) it must rest on substantial distinction (b) it must be germane to the purpose of the law (c) must not be limited to existing conditions only, and (4) must apply equally to all members of the same class, all of which are present in this case. The classification between those pending cases involving the concerned public officials whose trial has not yet commenced and whose cases could have been affected by the amendments of the Sandiganbayan jurisdiction under R.A. 8249, as against those cases where trial had already started as of the approval of the law, rests on substantial distinction that makes real differences.
(3) There is nothing ex post facto in R.A. 8249. An ex post facto law is one (a) which makes an act done criminal before the passing of the law and which was innocent when committed, and punishes such action; or (b) which aggravates a crime or makes it greater that when it was committed; or (c) which changes the punishment and inflicts a greater punishment than the law annexed to the crime when it was committed, (d) which alters the legal rules of evidence and receives less or different testimony than the law required at the time of the commission of the offense in order to convict the defendant, (e) which, in relation to the offense or its consequences, alters the situation of a person to his disadvantage. The Court added two more to the list, namely: (f) that which assumes to regulate civil rights and remedies only but in effect imposes a penalty or deprivation of a right which when done was lawful, and (g) deprives a person accused of crime of some lawful protection to which he has become entitled, such as the protection of a former conviction or acquittal, or a proclamation of amnesty. R.A. 8249 is not a penal law. It is a substantive law on jurisdiction which is not penal in character. Thus, its retroactive application cannot be challenged as unconstitutional.
FRANCISCO I. CHAVEZ vs. HON. ALBERTO G. ROMULO, IN HIS CAPACITY AS EXECUTIVE SECRETARY; DIRECTOR GENERAL HERMOGENES E. EBDANE, JR., IN HIS CAPACITY AS THE CHIEF OF THE PNP, et al.
FACTS: In January 2003, President Gloria Arroyo in her speech directed the then PNP Chief, Hermogenes Ebdane, to suspend the issuance of Permits to Carry Firearms Outside of Residence (PTCFOR). Ebdane subsequently issued an Order directing that the carrying of firearms outside of residence is prohibited except those covered with mission/letter orders and provided strict guidelines for the issuance of new license to carry firearms. The order likewise provided strict guidelines in carrying firearms outside of residence. Petitioner Francisco I. Chavez, a licensed gun owner requested the DILG to reconsider the implementation of the Guidelines. However, his request was denied. Thus, he filed the present petition.
- Whether or not the PNP Chief has the authority to issue the assailed Guidelines.
- Whether or not PGMA’s declaration of a nationwide gun ban alters, modifies, or amends the law on firearms through a mere speech.
- Whether or not the citizen’s right to bear arms is a constitutional right.
- Whether or not the PNP Guidelines violate the equal protection clause.
- Whether or not the PNP Guidelines is a valid exercise of Police Power by the State.
- Whether or not the PNP Guidelines constitute an ex post facto law.
1. Yes. The PNP Chief has authority to issue the Guidelines. The legislative body may delegate its licensing power to certain persons, municipal corporations, towns, boards, councils, commissions, commissioners, auditors, bureaus and directors. Such licensing power includes the power to promulgate necessary rules and regulations. By virtue of Republic Act No. 6975 the Philippine National Police (PNP) absorbed the Philippine Constabulary (PC). Consequently, the PNP Chief succeeded the Chief of the Constabulary and, therefore, assumed the latter’s licensing authority. Section 24 thereof specifies, as one of PNP’s powers, the issuance of licenses for the possession of firearms and explosives in accordance with law. This is in conjunction with the PNP Chief’s “power to issue detailed implementing policies and instructions” on such “matters as may be necessary to effectively carry out the functions, powers and duties” of the PNP.
2. No. President Arroyo’s declaration of a nationwide gun ban, did not alter, modify, or amend the law on firearms through a mere speech. Section 17, Article VII of the Constitution specifies the power of the Chief Executive, thus: “The President shall have control of all the executive departments, bureaus and offices. He shall ensure that the laws be faithfully executed.” The speech was just an expression of her policy and a directive to her subordinate to perform an assigned duty. In short, she has the power of control. Such act is well within the prerogative of her office. It cannot, therefore, be argued that President Arroyo enacted a law through a mere speech.
3. No. The citizen’s right to bear arms is not a constitutional right. The right to bear arms cannot be classified as fundamental under the 1987 Constitution. In People vs. Persce, the Court of Appeals said: “Neither is there any constitutional provision securing the right to bear arms which prohibits legislation with reference to such weapons as are specifically before us for consideration.” Evidently, possession of firearms by the citizens in the Philippines is the exception, not the rule. The right to bear arms is a mere statutory privilege, not a constitutional right. Being a mere statutory creation it cannot be considered an inalienable or absolute right.
4. No. The PNP guidelines did not violate the equal protection clause. Section 1, Article III of the Constitution provides that “no person shall be deprived of life, liberty or property without due process of law.” Petitioner invoked this provision, asserting that the revocation of his PTCFOR pursuant to the assailed Guidelines deprived him of his “vested property right” without due process of law and in violation of the equal protection of law. In evaluating a due process claim, the first and foremost consideration must be whether life, liberty or property interest exists. The bulk of jurisprudence is that a license authorizing a person to enjoy a certain privilege is neither a property nor property right. In Tan vs. The Director of Forestry, it was held that “a license is merely a permit or privilege to do what otherwise would be unlawful, and is not a contract between the authority granting it and the person to whom it is granted; neither is it property or a property right, nor does it create a vested right.” The Court said in Oposa vs. Factoran, Jr.: “Needless to say, all licenses may thus be revoked or rescinded by executive action. It is not a contract, property or a property right protected by the due process clause of the Constitution.”
The PTCFOR does not constitute a property right protected under our Constitution. Consequently, like ordinary licenses in other regulated fields, it may be revoked any time. It does not confer an absolute right, but only a personal privilege to be exercised under existing restrictions, and such as may thereafter be reasonably imposed. A licensee takes his license subject to such conditions as the Legislature sees fit to impose, and one of the statutory conditions of this license is that it might be revoked by the select men at their pleasure. Such a license is not a contract, and a revocation of it does not deprive the defendant of any property, immunity, or privilege within the meaning of these words in the Declaration of Rights. The US Supreme Court, in Doyle vs. Continental Ins. Co, held: “The correlative power to revoke or recall permission is a necessary consequence of the main power. A mere license by the State is always revocable.”
In our jurisdiction, the PNP Chief is granted broad discretion in the issuance of PTCFOR. This is evident from the tenor of the Implementing Rules and Regulations of P.D. No. 1866 which state that “the Chief of Constabulary may, in meritorious cases as determined by him and under such conditions as he may impose, authorize lawful holders of firearms to carry them outside of residence.” Thus, in The Government of the Philippine Islands vs. Amechazurra it was ruled:
“x x x no private person is bound to keep arms. Whether he does or not is entirely optional with himself, but if, for his own convenience or pleasure, he desires to possess arms, he must do so upon such terms as the Government sees fit to impose, for the right to keep and bear arms is not secured to him by law. The Government can impose upon him such terms as it pleases. If he is not satisfied with the terms imposed, he should decline to accept them, but, if for the purpose of securing possession of the arms he does agree to such conditions, he must fulfill them.”
5. The issuance of the PNP Guidelines is a valid exercise of Police Power. The test to determine the validity of a police measure includes: (a) The interests of the public generally, as distinguished from those of a particular class; and (b) The means employed are reasonably necessary for the accomplishment of the purpose and not unduly oppressive upon individuals.
The issuance of the assailed Guidelines was anchored on the need for peace and order in the society which is threatened by the proliferation of crimes particularly those committed by the New People’s Army (NPA). The primary motivation was the interest of the public in general. The Guidelines do not entirely prohibit possession of firearms. What they proscribe is merely the carrying of firearms outside of residence. However, those who wish to carry their firearms outside of their residences may re-apply for a new PTCFOR. This is a reasonable regulation. If the carrying of firearms is regulated, necessarily, crime incidents will be curtailed. With the revocation of all PTCFOR, it would be difficult for criminals to roam around with their guns. On the other hand, it would be easier for the PNP to apprehend them.
6. The PNP Guidelines do not constitute an ex post facto law. An ex post facto law is one – (a) which makes an action done before the passing of the law and which was innocent when done criminal, and punishes such action; or (b) which aggravates a crime or makes it greater than it was when committed; or (c) which changes the punishment and inflicts a greater punishment than the law annexed to the crime when it was committed; or (d) which alters the legal rules of evidence and receives less or different testimony than the law required at the time of the commission of the offense in order to convict the defendant. The assailed Guidelines cannot be considered as an ex post facto law because it is prospective in its application. It would not result in the punishment of acts previously committed.