Wednesday, October 29, 2014

case digest

G.R. No. 130191                  April 27, 1998
Rodrigo R. Duterte and Benjamin C. De Guzman, petitioners, 
The Honorable Sandiganbayan, respondent.

            In 1990, the the Davao City Local Automation Project was launched by the City government of Davao. The Computerization Program Committee recommended the acquisition of Goldstar computers manufactured by Goldstar Information and Communication, Ltd., South Korea and exclusively distributed in the Philippines by Systems Plus, Inc. (SPI). After obtaining prior clearance from COA Auditor Kintanar, the Committee proceeded to negotiate with SPI.
            Sometime in February 1991, a complaint was filed before the Regional Trial Court of Davao City, by Dean Pilar Braga, Hospicio Conanan, Jr., and Korsung Dabaw Foundation, Inc. against the petitioners, the City Council, various City Officials and SPI for the judicial declaration of nullity of the aforestated resolutions and ordinances and the computer contract executed pursuant thereto. On February 22, 1991, Goldstar, through its agent, Mr. S.Y. Lee sent a proposal to petitioner Duterte for the cancellation of the computerization contract. On May 6, 1991, petitioner Duterte, in behalf of Davao City, and SPI mutually rescinded the contract and the downpayment was duly refunded.
            On August 1, 1991, the Anti-Graft League - Davao City, through one Miguel C. Enriquez, filed an unverified complaint with the Ombudsman – Mindanao against petitioners, the City Treasurer, City Auditor, the whole city government of Davao and SPI. The League alleged that the respondents, in entering into the computerization contract, violated R.A. 3019 (Anti-Graft and Corrupt Practices Act), P.D. No. 1445 (Government Auditing Code of the Philippines), COA circulars and regulations, the Revised Penal Code and other pertinent laws.
            Petitioners allege that the Honorable Sandiganbayan committed grave abuse of discretion amounting to lack or excess of jurisdiction in denying petitioners’ Motion to Quash and Motion for Reconsideration considering that petitioners were effectively deprived of their Right to a Preliminary Investigation pursuant to Sec. 4, Rule II of Administrative Order NO. 07 (Rules of Procedure of the Office of the Ombudsman); and assuming that a Preliminary Investigation was properly conducted, there was an inordinate delay in terminating the same thereby depriving them of their Right to Due Provess and Speedy Disposition of the case.

1.         Whether or not the petitioners were deprived of their right to due process.
2.         Whether or not Mayor Duterte violated the R.A. No. 3019.

1.         Yes.
.           The right to a preliminary investigation is not a mere formal right; it is a substantive right. To deny the accused of such right would be to deprive him of due process.
            Preliminary investigation of the charges against petitioners has been conducted not in the manner laid down in Administrative Order No. 07. In November 12, 1991 Order of Graft Investigator Manriquez, petitioners were merely directed to submit a point-by-point comment under oath on the allegations in Civil Case No. 20,550-91 and on SAR No. 91-05. The said order was not accompanied by a single affidavit of any person charging petitioners of any offense as required by law. They were just required to comment upon the allegations in Civil Case No. 20,550-91 of the Regional Trial Court of Davao City which had earlier been dismissed and on the COA Special Audit Report. Petitioners had no inkling that they were being subjected to a preliminary investigation as in fact there was no indication in the order that a preliminary investigation was being conducted. If Graft Investigator Manriquez had intended merely to adopt the allegations of the plaintiffs in the civil case or the Special Audit Report (whose recommendation for the cancellation of the contract in question had been complied with) as his bases for criminal prosecution, then the procedure was plainly anomalous and highly irregular. As a consequence, petitioners' constitutional right to due process was violated.
            Apparently, in the case at bar, the investigating officer considered the filing of petitioner's comment as a substantial compliance with the requirements of a preliminary investigation. Initially, Graft Investigator Manriquez directed the members of the Special Audit Team on 9 October 1991 to submit their affidavits relative to SAR No. 91-05. However, on 12 November 1991, before the affidavits were submitted, Manriquez required petitioners to submit their respective comments on the complaint in the civil case and on Special Audit Report (SAR) 91-05. Even when the required affidavits were filed by the audit team on 4 December 1991, petitioners were still not furnished copies thereof. The Ombudsman contends that failure to provide petitioners the complaint-affidavits is immaterial since petitioners were well aware of the existence of the civil complaint and SAR No. 91-05. We find the Ombudsman's reasoning flawed. The civil complaint and the COA Special Audit Report are not equivalent to the complaint-affidavits required by the rules. Moreover, long before petitioners were directed to file their comments, the civil complaint (Civil Case No. 20,550-91) was rendered moot and academic and, accordingly, dismissed following the mutual cancellation of the computerization contract. In SAR No. 91-05, on the other hand, petitioners were merely advised to rescind the subject contract — which was accomplished even before the audit report came out. In light of these circumstances, the Court cannot blame petitioners for being unaware of the proceedings conducted against them.
2.         There is no basis in law or in fact to charge petitioners for violation of Sec. 3(g) of R.A. No. 3019. To establish probable cause against the offender for violation of Sec. 3(g), the following elements must be present: (1) the offender is a public officer; (2) he entered into a contract or transaction in behalf of the government; and (3) the contract or transaction is grossly and manifestly disadvantageous to the government. The second element of the crime — that the accused public officers entered into a contract in behalf of the government — is absent. The computerization contract was rescinded on May 6, 1991 before SAR No. 91-05 came out on May 31, 1991 and before the Anti-Graft League filed its complaint with the Ombudsman on  August 1, 1991. Hence, at that time the Anti-Graft League instituted their complaint and the Ombudsman issued its Order on November 12, 1991, there was no longer any contract to speak of. The contract, after May 6, 1991 became in contemplation of law, non-existent, as if no contract was ever executed.

G.R. No. 94284                    April 8, 1991
Ricardo C. Silverio, petitioner
The Court of Appeals, Hon. Benigno G. Gaviola, as Judge of the Regional Trial Court of Cebu City, Branch IX, and People of the Philippines, respondents

            On October 14, 1985, petitioner was charged with violation of Section 20 (4) of the Revised Securities Act. In due time, he posted bail for his provisional liberty. On January 26, 1988, respondent People of the Philippines filed an urgent ex parte Motion to cancel the passport of and to issue a hold-departure order against accused-petitioner on the ground that he had gone abroad several times without the necessary Court approval resulting in postponements of the arraignment and scheduled hearings. On April 4, 1988, the Regional Trial Court issued and order directing the Department of Foreign Affairs to cancel petititoner’s passport or to deny his application therefor, and the Commission on Immigration to prevent petitioner from leaving the country.

            Whether or not the cancellation of the petitioner’s passport violated his constitutional right to travel.

            Petitioner thus theorizes that under the 1987 Constitution, Courts can impair the right to travel only on the grounds of “national security, public safety, or public health.”
            Article III, Section 6 of the 1987 Constitution should by no means be construed as delimiting the inherent power of the Courts to use all means necessary to carry their orders into effect in criminal cases pending before them. When by law jurisdiction is conferred on a Court or judicial officer, all auxillary writs, processes and other means necessary to carry it into effect may be employed by such Court or officer.
            Petitioner is facing a criminal charge. He has posted bail but has violated the conditions thereof by failing to appear before the Court when required. Warrants for his arrest have been issued. Those orders and processes would be rendered nugatory if an accused were to be allowed to leave or to remain, at his pleasure, outside the territorial confines of the country. Holding an accused in a criminal case within the reach of the Courts by preventing his departure from the Philippines must be considered as a valid restriction on his right to travel so that he may be dealt with in accordance with law. The offended party in any criminal proceeding is the People of the Philippines. It is to their best interest that criminal prosecutions should run their course and proceed to finality without undue delay, with an accused holding himself amenable at all times to Court Orders and processes.

 G.R. No. 193023                  June 22, 2011
National Power Corporation, petitioner
Yunita Tuazon, Rosauro Tuazon and Maria Teresa Tuazon, respondents 



The respondents are co-owners of a 136,736-square-meter coconut land in Barangay Sta. Cruz, Tarangnan, Samar. The land has been declared for tax purposes in the name of the respondents’ predecessor-in-interest, the late Mr. Pascual Tuazon. Sometime in 1996, NAPOCOR installed transmission lines on a portion of the land for its 350 KV Leyte-Luzon HVDC Power TL Project.  In the process, several improvements on the land were destroyed. Instead of initiating expropriation proceedings, however, NAPOCOR entered into a mere right-of-way agreement with Mr. Tuazon for the total amount of TWENTY SIX THOUSAND NINE HUNDRED SEVENTY EIGHT and 21/100 PESOS (P26,978.21). The amount represents payments for “damaged improvements” (P23,970.00), “easement and tower occupancy fees” (P1,808.21), and “additional damaged improvements” (P1,200.00).

In 2002, the respondents filed a complaint against NAPOCOR for just compensation and damages, claiming that no expropriation proceedings were made and that they only allowed NAPOCOR entry into the land after being told that the fair market value would be paid. They also stated that lots similarly located in Catbalogan, Samar, likewise utilized by NAPOCOR for the similar projects, were paid just compensation in sums ranging from P2,000.00 to P2,200.00 per square meter, pursuant to the determination made by different branches of the RTC in Samar.

The herein petitioner filed an ordinary appeal with the CA. In its Appellee’s Brief, NAPOCOR denied that expropriation had occurred. Instead, it claimed to have lawfully established a right-of-way easement on the land per its agreement with Mr. Tuazon, which agreement is in accord with its charter, Republic Act No. (R.A.) 6395. NAPOCOR maintained that Section 3-A(b) of R.A. 6395 gave it the right to acquire a right-of-way easement upon payment of “just compensation” equivalent to not more than 10% of the market value of a private lot traversed by transmission lines.

            Whether or not the right-of-way easement instead of just compensation on the private land taken for the installation of transmission lines is valid.


NAPOCOR is liable to pay respondents herein just compensation and not only easement fee.

            Normally, the power of eminent domain results in the taking or appropriation of title to, and possession of, the expropriated property; but no cogent reason appears why the said power may not be availed of to impose only a burden upon the owner of condemned property, without loss of title and possession. It is unquestionable that real property may, through expropriation, be subjected to an easement of right of way. True, an easement of a right of way transmits no rights except the easement itself, and respondent retains full ownership of the property. The acquisition of such easement is, nevertheless, not gratis. As correctly observed by the CA, considering the nature and the effect of the installation power lines, the limitations on the use of the land for an indefinite period would deprive respondent of normal use of the property. For this reason, the latter is entitled to payment of a just compensation, which must be neither more nor less than the monetary equivalent of the land.
            Just compensation is defined as the full and fair equivalent of the property taken from its owner by the expropriator. The measure is not the taker’s gain, but the owner’s loss. The word “just” is used to intensify the meaning of the word “compensation” and to convey thereby the idea that the equivalent to be rendered for the property to be taken shall be real, substantial, full and ample. In eminent domain or expropriation proceedings, the just compensation to which the owner of a condemned property is entitled is generally the market value. Market value is “that sum of money which a person desirous but not compelled to buy, and an owner willing but not compelled to sell, would agree on as a price to be given and received therefore.”



G.R. No. L-15474                 August 31, 1960
Alfredo B. Saulo, petitioner
Brig. General Pelagio Cruz, ETC., respondent

After successfully evading arrest since September, 1950, in connection with three criminal cases (Nos. 13681, 19166 and 39253, CFI, Manila) one for inciting to rebellion with murders, arsons, robberies and kidnappings, Alfredo B. Saulo, in whose behalf the present petition for a writ of habeas corpus has been presented, finally showed up at the Indonesian Embassy, Manila, on November 12, 1958, to seek refuge therein. As a result of negotiations had, the Indonesian Embassy surrendered him to the Philippine Government on November 18, 1958, since which date he has remained in the custody of the Philippine Constabulary at Camp Crame, Quezon City. One of the two criminal cases for rebellion having been dismissed with respect to him on motion of the prosecution, Saulo put up bail in the two remaining cases (Nos. 13681 and 39253). When the corresponding order for his temporary release was served, the herein respondent Commanding General of the Philippine Constabulary commanded one of his subordinates to with hold the release of Saulo on account of Criminal Case No. 46410 the Court of First Instance of Manila. Said criminal case is a complaint against Saulo, filed on November 19, 1958, by the Fiscal of Manila, for alleged violation of Republic Act No. 1700, otherwise known as the Anti-Subversion Act, punishable by prision mayor to death, so that the said Court of First Instance might conduct the corresponding preliminary investigation, as provided in the Act. While said preliminary investigation was still going on, that is, on December 23, 1958, petitioner applied for a writ of habeas corpus with the Supreme Court, as already stated, on the ground that his detention, without warrant of arrest, by reason of the pendency of the aforesaid Criminal Case No. 46410, is illegal and void. Said court gave due course to the application and directed the respondent Commanding General of the Philippine Constabulary to file answer, returnable to the Court of First Instance of Manila.
Respondent filed answer, as directed, admitting practically all the facts above related and alleged in the application, with the plea that "the pendency of Criminal Case No. 46410 for violation of Republic Act No. 1700 filed before the Court of First Instance of Manila is sufficient reason for continuing the detention of the petitioner, in the absence of an order of the Court for his discharge under the case aforesaid."


            Whether or not denial of the privilege of writ of habeas corpus is illegal and void.


            Petitioner’s appeal has been filed out of time. The records disclose that the notice of appeal was filed eleven (11) days after a copy of the lower court’s decision, denying the petition, was served upon petitioner’s counsel (on May 12, 1959 as per sheriff's return). As provided by Section 18, Rule 41 of the Rules of Court, petitioner should have perfected his appeal within twenty-four (24) hours from notice of judgment: Sec. 18. Appeal in habeas corpus cases, how taken. — An appeal in habeas corpus case shall be perfected by filing with the clerk of the court or the judge who rendered the judgment, within twenty-four (24) hours of notice of such judgment, a statement that the person making it appeals from the judgment rendered.
            The appeal is hereby dismissed.

G.R. No. 191411                  July 15, 2013
Rafael L. Coscolluela, petitioner,
Sandiganbayan and People of the Philippines, respondents


Coscolluela served as governor of the Province of Negros Occidental for three (3) full terms which ended on June 30, 2001. During his tenure, Nacionales served as his Special Projects Division Head, Amugod as Nacionales’ subordinate, and Malvas as Provincial Health Officer.
           On November 9, 2001, the Office of the Ombudsman for the Visayas received a letter-complaint dated November 7, 2001 from People’s Graftwatch, requesting for assistance to investigate the anomalous purchase of medical and agricultural equipment for the Province in the amount of P20,000,000.00 which allegedly happened around a month before Coscolluela stepped down from office.
           Acting on the letter-complaint, the Case Building Team of the Office of the Ombudsman conducted its investigation, resulting in the issuance of a Final Evaluation Report dated April 16, 2002 which upgraded the complaint into a criminal case against petitioners. Consequently, petitioners filed their respective counter-affidavits.
          On March 27, 2003, the assigned Graft Investigation Officer Butch E. Cañares prepared a Resolution, finding probable cause against petitioners for violation of Section 3(e) of Republic Act No. (RA) 3019, otherwise known as the “Anti-Graft and Corrupt Practices Act,” and recommended the filing of the corresponding information. On even date, the Information was prepared and signed by Cañares and submitted to Deputy Ombudsman for the Visayas Primo C. Miro for recommendation. Miro recommended the approval of the Information on June 5, 2003. However, the final approval of Acting Ombudsman Orlando C. Casimiro, came only on May 21, 2009, and on June 19, 2009, the Information was filed before the SB.
          Petitioners alleged that they learned about the March 27, 2003 Resolution and Information only when they received a copy of the latter shortly after its filing with the SB.
          On July 9, 2009, Coscolluela filed a Motion to Quash, arguing, among others, that his constitutional right to speedy disposition of cases was violated as the criminal charges against him were resolved only after almost eight (8) years since the complaint was instituted. Nacionales, Malvas, and Amugod later adopted Coscolluela’s motion.
          In reply, the respondents filed their Opposition to Motion to Quash dated August 7, 2009, explaining that although the Information was originally dated March 27, 2003, it still had to go through careful review and revision before its final approval. It also pointed out that petitioners never raised any objections regarding the purported delay in the proceedings during the interim.



            Whether or not the constitutional right to speedy disposition of cases of the petitioner was violated.


The petitions are meritorious.
             First, it is observed that the preliminary investigation proceedings took a protracted amount of time to complete. Second, the above-discussed delay in the Ombudsman’s resolution of the case largely remains unjustified. Third, the Court deems that petitioners cannot be faulted for their alleged failure to assert their right to speedy disposition of cases. Fourth, the Court finally recognizes the prejudice caused to the petitioners by the lengthy delay in the proceedings against them.
A person’s right to the speedy disposition of his case is guaranteed under Section 16, Article III of the 1987 Philippine Constitution which provides “All persons shall have the right to a speedy disposition of their cases before all judicial, quasi-judicial, or administrative bodies”.   
Examining the incidents in the present case, the Court holds that petitioners’ right to a speedy disposition of their criminal case had been violated.


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