Thursday, October 11, 2012

jed nieves case digest

[ G.R. NO. 152375, DECEMBER 13, 2011 ]

FACTS: On July 22, 1987, the petitioner Republic of the Philippines, through the Presidential Commission on Good Government (PCGG), filed a complaint against Jose L. Africa, Manuel H. Nieto, Jr., Ferdinand E. Marcos, Imelda R. Marcos, Ferdinand R. Marcos, Jr., Juan Ponce Enrile, and Potenciano Ilusorio (collectively, the respondents) for reconveyance, reversion, accounting, restitution,and damages before the Sandiganbayan. The petitioner alleged that the respondents illegally manipulated the purchase of the major shareholdings of Cable and Wireless Limited in Eastern Telecommunications Philippines, Inc. (ETPI), which shareholdings respondents Jose Africa and Manuel Nieto, Jr. held for themselves and, through their holdings and the corporations they organized, beneficially for respondents Ferdinand E. Marcos and Imelda R. Marcos. This case docketed as Civil Case No. 0009. Victor Africa (Africa), son of the late Jose L. Africa, was not impleaded in and so is plainly not a party to Civil Case No. 0009. Civil Case No. 0009 spawned numerous incidental cases, among them, Civil Case No. 0130. The present respondents were not made parties in Civil Case No. 0130.
Africa, as an ETPI stockholder, filed a petition for certiorari, with prayer for a temporary restraining order/preliminary injunction with the Sandiganbayan (docketed as Civil Case No. 0130), seeking to nullify the order of the Sandiganbayan for the former  to account for his sequestered shares in ETPI and to cease and desist from exercising voting rights. During the pendency of Africa’s petition, Civil Case No. 0130, Africa filed a motion with the Sandiganbayan, alleging that the PCGG had been “illegally ‘exercising’ the rights of stockholders of ETPI, especially in the election of the members of the board of directors and prayed for the issuance of an order for the “calling and holding of [ETPI] annual stockholders meeting under the court’s control and supervision. Sandiganbayan favored Africa’s motion.
The PCGG assailed this resolution before this Court via a petition for certiorari docketed as G.R. No. 107789 (PCGG’s petition), imputing grave abuse of discretion on the Sandiganbayan for holding, inter alia, that the registered stockholders of ETPI had the right to vote.[14] In our November 26, 1992 Resolution, we enjoined the Sandiganbayan from implementing its assailed resolution.
The Sandiganbayan ordered for the consolidation of Civil Cases Nos. 0009 and 0130, with the former as the main case and the latter as an incident.
                During the pendency of PCGG’s petition (G.R. No. 107789), A “Very Urgent Petition for Authority to Hold Special Stockholders’ Meeting for the Sole Purpose of Increasing [ETPI’s] Authorized Capital Stock” (Urgent Petition) was filed by PCGG. In our May 7, 1996 Resolution, we referred this Urgent Petition to the Sandiganbayan for reception of evidence and immediate resolution which will be in Civil Case No. 0130.
To resolve the Urgent Petition, the testimony of Mr. Maurice V. Bane (former director and treasurer-in-trust of ETPI) was taken– at the petitioner’s instance for the purpose for Bane to identify and testify on the facts in his affidavit so as to prove the ownership issue in favor of the petitioner and/or establish the prima facie factual foundation for sequestration of ETPI’s Class A stock in support of the Urgent Petition. The notice also states that the petitioner shall use the Bane deposition “in evidence… in the main case of Civil Case No. 0009. On the scheduled deposition date, only Africa was present and he cross-examined Bane.

                The Sandiganbayan  granted the Urgent Petition hence, Africa went to this Court via a petition for certiorari docketed as G.R. No. 147214 (Africa’s petition). The court resolved the PCGG and Africa’s petition and were REFERRED to the Sandiganbayan for reception of evidence and to decide it within 60 days from receipt of this resolution.
                In Civil case 0009, the pre trial conference was scheduled and concluded only on November 29, 1996 and March 17, 1997. Among the witnesses offered was  Maurice V. Bane – representative of Cable and Wireless Limited (C & W) at the time ETPI was organized. After the trial of Civil Case No. 009, the petitioner filed a motion  to adopt the testimonies of the witnesses in Civil Case No. 0130, including Bane. The Sandiganbayan promulgated the 1998 Resolution which denied the adoption of oral deposition of Bane because he was not available for cross-examination.

The petitioners did not question the 1998 resolution, and instead they made  its Formal Offer of Evidence. Significantly, the Bane deposition was not included as part of its offered exhibits. In order to correct this, they filed a second motion with prayer for re-opening of the case for the purpose of introducing additional evidence and requested the court to take judicial notice of the facts established by the Bane deposition. This was denied by the Sandiganbayan  in its November 6, 2000 resolution. A third motion was filed by the petitioners on November 16, 2001 seeking once more to admit the Bane deposition which the Sandiganbayan for the reason that without plaintiff having moved for reconsideration within the reglementary period, the resolution has attained finality and its effect cannot be undone by the simple expedient of filing a motion.

                Whether or not the Sandiganbayan committed grave abuse of jurisdiction on holding that the 1998 resolution already attained finality and that the 3rd motion for reconsideration of the petitioner is prohibited.


                 A judgment or order is considered final if the order disposes of the action or proceeding completely, or terminates a particular stage of the same action; in such case, the remedy available to an aggrieved party is appeal. If the order or resolution, however, merely resolves incidental matters and leaves something more to be done to resolve the merits of the case, the order is interlocutory and the aggrieved party’s remedy is a petition for certiorari under Rule 65. Therefore, the 1998 resolution is interlocutory.  The Sandiganbayan’s denial of the petitioner’s 1st motion through the 1998 Resolution came at a time when the petitioner had not even concluded the presentation of its evidence. Plainly, the denial of the motion did not resolve the merits of the case, as something still had to be done to achieve this end.
the Sandiganbayan’s 1998 resolution – which merely denied the adoption of the Bane deposition as part of the evidence in Civil Case No. 0009 – could not have attained finality.
                The Sandiganbayan undoubtedly erred on a question of law in its ruling, but this legal error did not necessarily amount to a grave abuse of discretion in the absence of a clear showing that its action was a capricious and whimsical exercise of judgment affecting its exercise of jurisdiction.[62]  Without this showing, the Sandiganbayan’s erroneous legal conclusion was only an error of judgment, or, at best, an abuse of discretion but not a grave one.
                The 3rd motion could not also be considered as a prohibited motion because Section 5, Rule 37 of the Rules of Court clearly provides, the proscription against a second motion for reconsideration is directed against “a judgment or final order.” But a second motion for reconsideration of an interlocutory order can be denied on the ground that it is discusses again the arguments already passed upon and resolved by the court. In this case, the latter is the reason cited by the respondents for the denial of the motion

Garcia vs. Sandiganbayan

                     On Sept27, 2004,  Atty. Maria Olivia Roxas, Graft Investigation and Prosecution Officer of the Field Investigation Office of the Office of the Ombudsman, after due investigation, filed a COMPLAINT vs. Garcia for VIOLATION OF (1.) SECTION 8 of RA 6713(Code of Conduct of Ethical Standards for Public Officials and Employees) (2.) Art 183 of the Revised Penal Code (3.) Sec52(A)(1), (3) & (20) of the Civil Service Law. Wife and 3 sons were impleaded for violation of RA 1379 insofar as they acted as conspirators, conduits, dummies and fronts of petitioner in receiving, accumulating, using and disposing of ill-gotten wealth. A PETITION W/ VERIFIED URGENT EX PARTE APPLICATION FOR THE ISSUANCE OF A WRIT OF PRELIMINARY ATTACHMENT was filed by Ombudsman before the SB vs. Garcia, his wife and 3 sons seeking the forfeiture of unlawfully acquired properties under Sec. 2 of R.A. No. 1379, as amended. Ombudsman, after conducting inquiry has determined a prima facie case exists vs. Maj. General Garcia since during his incumbency as a soldier and public officer he acquired huge amounts of money and properties manifestly out of proportion to his salary as such public officer and his other lawful income – Sandiganbayan granted the petition and issued a writh of preliminary attachment.

Garcia filed a Motion to Dismiss then a petition that the Sandiganbayan lack proper jurisdiction over forfeiture proceedings under RA 1379 and should be in the jurisdiction of the RTC as provided by law. Petitioner also contends that the Sandiganbayan’s jurisdiction in Civil Actions pertains only to separate actions for recovery of unlawfully acquired property against President Marcos, his family, and cronies. And that Sandiganbayan principally intended as a criminal court and that  the Sandiganbayan has no jurisdiction over any separate civil action against him, even if such separate civil action is for recovery of unlawfully acquired property under R.A. No. 1379.
                The issues for resolution are: (a) whether the Sandiganbayan has jurisdiction over petitions for forfeiture under R.A. No. 1379; (b) whether the Office of the Ombudsman has the authority to investigate, initiate and prosecute such petitions for forfeiture; and (c) whether petitioner is guilty of forum-shopping.
                Under R.A. No.  8249, the Sandiganbayan is vested with exclusive original jurisdiction in all cases involving violations of R.A. No. 3019, R.A. No. 1379, and Chapter II, Sec. 2, Title VII, Book II of the Revised Penal Code, where one or more of the accused are officials occupying positions whether in a permanent, acting or interim capacity, at the time of the commission of the offense: and the petitioner’s position which is included in the Philippine army and air force colonels, naval captains, and all officers of higher rank, belongs to the occupying positions mentioned by RA No. 8249, therefore the Sandiganbayan has competent jurisdiction over the petitioner.
                The Ombudsman, acted within its authority. The authority of the Ombudsman to investigate, initiate and prosecute petitions for forfeiture, is granted with the enactment of RA No. 6770. Section 15 par. 11 which authorizes the ombudsman to initiate the proper action for the recovery of ill-gotten and/or unexplained wealth amassed and the prosecution of the parties involved therein.” Therefore, it is the Ombudsman who should file the petition for forfeiture under R.A. No. 1379 but is restricted only to cases for the recovery of ill-gotten and/or unexplained wealth amassed after 25 February 1986. The powers of the ombudsman includes the power to investigate and prosecute on its own or on complaint by any person, any act or omission of any public officer or employee, office or agency, when such act or omission appears to be illegal, unjust, improper or inefficient. It has primary jurisdiction over cases cognizable by the Sandiganbayan and, in the exercise of this primary jurisdiction, may take over, at any stage, from any investigatory agency of Government, the investigation of such cases.
                Garcia failed to inform the court that he had filed a MTD in relation to the petition for forfeiture before the SB. Petitioner raised substantially the same issues and prayed for the same reliefs therein as it has in the instant petition. Both Petition and Motion to Dismiss have the same intent of dismissing the case for forfeiture filed against petitioner, his wife and their sons. It is undeniable that petitioner had failed to fulfill his undertaking. This is incontestably forum-shopping which is reason enough to dismiss the petition outright, without prejudice to the taking of appropriate action against the counsel and party concerned.

 Trans middle v. Sandiganbayan (2006)

TMEE is the registered owner of 6,119,067 common shares of stock in the then PCBank, now Equitable-PCI Bank. On 15 April 1986, these shares were sequestered by the Presidential Commission on Good Government (PCGG) on the theory that as they actually belong to Benjamin Romualdez they constitute illegally acquired wealth. Thereafter, a complaint, docketed as Civil Case No. 0035, was filed against Romualdez by the PCGG before the Sandiganbayan for the recovery of these shares. Upon motion, TMEE was allowed to intervene by the Sandiganbayan. and it sought to enjoin the PCGG from voting these shares.

In 1991, the Sandiganbayan, upon motion of TMEE, issued resolutions that enjoined the PCGG from voting the shares of TMEE and authorized TMEE in exercising its voting rights. These resolutions were challenged before the Supreme Court, through petitions docketed as G.R. Nos. 105808 and 105809. The Court then issued a TRO enjoining the implementation of the Sandiganbayan resolutions.  The Court resolved to maintain the TRO it issued enjoining the implementation of the 1991 orders of the Sandiganbayan.

ISSUE: Can PCGG exercise acts of dominion on voting shares over the registered owner of the shares of a corporation?

It is settled that as a general rule, the registered owner of the shares of a corporation, even if they are sequestered by the government through the PCGG, exercises the right and the privilege of voting on them.[23]  The PCGG as a mere conservator cannot, as a rule, exercise acts of dominion by voting these shares.[24] The registered owner of sequestered shares may only be deprived of these voting rights, and the PCGG authorized to exercise the same, only if it is able to establish that (1) there is prima facieevidence showing that the said shares are ill-gotten and thus belong to the State; and (2) there is an imminent danger of dissipation, thus necessitating the continued sequestration of the shares and authority to vote thereupon by the PCGG while the main issue is pending before the Sandiganbayan.

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