Friday, October 19, 2012


uy v. sandiganbayan 
 Does the  of the Ombudsman extends only to cases cognizable by the Sandiganbayan and that the Ombudsman has no authority to prosecute cases falling within the jurisdiction of regular courts.

We held that the Ombudsman is clothed with authority to conduct preliminary investigation and to prosecute all criminal cases involving public officers and employees, not only those within the jurisdiction of the Sandiganbayan, but those within the jurisdiction of the regular courts as well.

The authority of the Ombudsman to investigate and prosecute offenses committed by public officers and employees is founded in Section 15 and Section 11 of RA 6770. Section 15 vests the Ombudsman with the power to investigate and prosecute 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.
The power to investigate and to prosecute granted by law to the Ombudsman is plenary and unqualified. It pertains to any act or omission of any public officer or employee when such act or omission appears to be illegal, unjust, improper or inefficient. The law does not make a distinction between cases cognizable by the Sandiganbayan and those cognizable by regular courts. It has been held that the clause "any illegal act or omission of any public official" is broad enough to embrace any crime committed by a public officer or employee.

Section 15 of RA 6770 gives the Ombudsman primary jurisdiction over cases cognizable by the Sandiganbayan. The law defines such primary jurisdiction as authorizing the Ombudsman "to take over, at any stage, from any investigatory agency of the government, the investigation of such cases." The grant of this authority does not necessarily imply the exclusion from its jurisdiction of cases involving public officers and employees cognizable by other courts. The exercise by the Ombudsman of his primary jurisdiction over cases cognizable by the Sandiganbayan is not incompatible with the discharge of his duty to investigate and prosecute other offenses committed by public officers and employees. Indeed, it must be stressed that the powers granted by the legislature to the Ombudsman are very broad and encompass all kinds of malfeasance, misfeasance and non-feasance committed by public officers and employees during their tenure of office.

Finally, it must be clarified that the authority of the Ombudsman to prosecute cases involving public officers and employees before the regular courts does not conflict with the power of the regular prosecutors under the Department of Justice to control and direct the prosecution of all criminal actions under Rule 110 of the Revised Rules of Criminal Procedure. The Rules of Court must be read in conjunction with RA 6770 which charged the Ombudsman with the duty to investigate and prosecute all illegal acts and omissions of public officers and employees. The Court held in the case of Sanchez vs. Demetriou[24] that the power of the Ombudsman under Section 15 (1) of RA 6770 is not an exclusive authority but rather a shared or concurrent authority in respect of the offense charged. Thus, Administrative Order No. 8 issued by the Office of the Ombudsman provides:
"The prosecution of case cognizable by the Sandiganbayan shall be under the direct exclusive control and supervision of the Office of the Ombudsman. In cases cognizable by regular Courts, the control and supervision by the Office of the Ombudsman is only in Ombudsman cases in the sense defined (therein).[25] The law recognizes a concurrence of jurisdiction between the Office of the Ombudsman and other investigative agencies of government in the prosecution of cases cognizable by regular courts."

pcgg v. sandiganbayan (2010)
On 11 April 1986, the Presidential Commission on Good Government (PCGG) issued a writ[8] of sequestration against Roberto S. Benedicto (Benedicto), Jose L. Africa (Jose), Victor A. Africa (Victor), and Alfredo L. Africa, stating:
The Presidential Commission on Good Government by authority of the President of the Philippines, hereby orders the sequestration of the shares which belong to or are owned or controlled by ROBERTO S. BENEDICTO, JOSE L. AFRICA, VICTOR A. AFRICA AND ALFREDO L. AFRRICA in the following business entities, including whatever emoluments or benefits may be due the said shares.
On 3 November 1990, Benedicto and PCGG entered into a compromise agreement.
Sandiganbayan committed grave abuse of discretion when it ordered the release of the cash dividends, with interest, to Silangan and Polygon because (1) the cash dividends were under custodia legis, and (2) the acts of PCGG in managing Oceanic -- including the declaration of cash dividends -- were void.
PCGG failed to show that the Sandiganbayan acted with grave abuse of discretion. The Resolutions ordering the release to Silangan and Polygon of their Oceanic cash dividends, with interest, were grounded on sound legal and factual bases: (1) PCGG agreed to the release to Silangan of 49% of its cash dividends, with interest; (2) Benedicto ceded to the government his 51% equity in Silangan, not Oceanic; (3) Silangan, being a stockholder of Oceanic, was entitled to the cash dividends declared by the company; (4) Silangan engaged the services of M.M. Lazaro & Associates and agreed to pay 15% of the total amount it may recover as contingent fee; (5) in its 25 April 1994 Decision, the Sandiganbayan declared void PCGG's sequestration of the Oceanic shares of stock in the names of Polygon, Aerocom, Silangan, Belgor, Jose and Victor -- Silanan and Polygon were not sequestered; (6) In Presidential Commission, the Court affirmed the Sandiganbayan's 25 April 1994 Decision; (7) Presidential Commission became final and executory and was entered in the Book of Entries of Judgments; (8) the Sandiganbayan issued a writ of execution, dated 30 September 2003, to implement the 25 April 1994 Decision; and (9) the 30 September 2003 writ of execution was implemented.
The Sandiganbayan correctly held that Silangan and Polygon were entitled to their Oceanic cash dividends, with interest, because the declaration of cash dividends was valid. PCGG declared the cash dividends before the Sandiganbayan's 25 April 1994 Decision came out. At that time, the 11 April 1986 and 15 June 1988 writs of sequestration were presumed valid.

alvizo v. sandiganbayan (2003)
Sometime in 1978, a team from the Commission on Audit (COA) was organized by Sofronio Flores, Jr., the COA Region VII Director, to verify the alleged 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 special audit team was composed of auditors Victoria C. Quejada and Ruth Paredes. Then President Marcos also created a Special Cabinet Committee composed of the heads of the COA, Ministry of Justice, Office of the Budget and Management, Bureau of Treasury and the National Bureau of Investigation to investigate the fund anomalies in Region VII. This Special Cabinet Committee created a Special Task Force made up of various teams, among others, Team II, headed by Supervising Agent Amado de Coco to cover the Cebu 2nd HED. The task force worked with the Audit team and retrieved documents and records from the Regional Office and the Cebu 2nd HED. 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.
The investigations resulted in the filing of 397 criminal cases with the Sandiganbayan charging certain officials and employees of the government as well as private contractors with violation of the Anti-Graft and Corrupt Practices Act.
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.

The Sandiganbayan found petitioners, who were officers and employees of the Cebu 2nd HED and the COA, to have perpetuated the crime by signing the general vouchers and the supporting documents. Their convictions were based upon a finding of conspiracy. The evidence on record shows that such conspiracy existed considering the issuances of fake LAAs, followed by the irregular preparation, processing and approval of the 199 GVs supported by simulated supporting documents and the payment to the contractors for ghost projects.

All the foregoing documents were prepared and processed by petitioners Regional and District officials in connection with the performance of their official functions without which collusion the anomalies charged could not have been committed.

Direct proof is not essential to show conspiracy. It need not be shown that the parties actually 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 of the crime, usually must be, inferred by the court from proof of facts and circumstances which, taken together, apparently indicate that they are merely parts of some complete whole.[115] If it is proved that two or more persons aimed by their acts towards the accomplishment of the same unlawful object, each doing a part so that their acts, though apparently independent, were in fact connected and cooperative, indicating a closeness of personal association and a concurrence of sentiments, then a conspiracy may be inferred though no actual meeting among them to concert means is proved.[116] Thus, the proof of conspiracy, which is essentially hatched under cover and out of view of others than those directly concerned, is perhaps most frequently made by evidence of a chain of circumstances only.[117]

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