Sie sind auf Seite 1von 63

IN RE: SPEEDY DISPOSITION OF CASE

JURISPRUDENCE
Caballes vs Court of Appeals; G.R. No.: 161308 Decided, 2005
Note: In this case, the dismissal prayed for in violation of speedy
disposition of a case was NOT granted; reason being is that the second
requisite (Reason for the Delay) was not met, (i.e. it was a minimal hurdle).

There is no definitive time duration as to whether or not a case is not


being tried speedily (that is the right to a speedy trial is violated). What
is speedy is a flexible concept.1

There is however a set of guidelines (four factors) which determine if


the right is being violated. To wit:
o Length of Delay
Length of the proceedings must be within reason. There is
no concrete measure. The measure is that in the ordinary
administration of justice, the length of the proceedings is
reasonable.
o Reason for the Delay
In People vs. Demetrio Jardin, if the reason of the delay is
attributable to the actions of the accused, which in this
case is his call for reinvestigation, he cannot invoke the
right against speedy disposition of cases.
In Caballes vs. Court of Appeals, however, a heavy case
load of the Prosecutor will tilt in favor of the State but at
the same time, it should be meted out with the first
requirement, that is the length of the delay must be within
reason in the ordinary administration of justice.
o Defendants Assertion of the Right
Irrelevant as of now, usually relevant if it is raised on
appeal.
o Prejudice to the defendant
This is the most accused-friendly of the requisites.
The right to speedy trial seeks to protect the accused from
prejudice, that is, a lengthy trial will drain the accuseds
resources; his defenses will more or less be impaired
(witnesses may have already left); he is restrained in terms
of his liberty and in some cases, hostility against him is
ever so present; his association to the public might be
curtailed.
o Length of time of delay based on jurisprudence
Four (4) years of delay in preliminary investigation is a
violation of right to speedy disposition of cases.
(Coscolluela v. Sandiganbayan, GR no. 191411, July 15,
2013)
Delay of almost Three (3) years in preliminary
investigation eventually until the reopening of the

1 Ombudsman vs. Jurado G.R. No. 154155, 2008

investigation and filing of Information violates due process


and right to speedy disposition of cases (Tatad v.
Sandiganbayan)
The Court held that the delay of almost or more than six
(6) years in resolving the criminal charges against the
petitioners therein amounted to a violation of their
constitutional rights to due process and to a speedy
disposition of the cases against them, as well as the
Ombudsmans own constitutional duty to act promptly on
complaints filed before him (Angchangco vs. Ombudsman,
GR no. 122728, February 13, 1997 and Roque vs. Office of
the Ombudsman, GR no. 129978 May 12, 1999)
Delay of five years can be a violation of rights to speedy
disposition of cases in an administrative tribunal (Capt
Wilfredo Roquero v. Chancellor of UP Manila and
Administrative Disciplinary Tribunal, GR no. 181851)

Proving prejudice attributable to the slow disposition of a case is the


best bet as length per se is to be weighted depending on the circumstances
behind the delay. As held in Williams v. United States, for the government to
sustain its right to try the accused despite a delay, it must show two things:
(a) that the accused suffered no serious prejudice beyond that which ensued
from the ordinary and inevitable delay; and (b) that there was no more delay
than is reasonably attributable to the ordinary processes of justice. Once the
right is raised, the State must justify the delay.

Republic of the Philippines


SUPREME COURT
Manila
SECOND DIVISION
G.R. No. 191411

July 15, 2013

RAFAEL L. COSCOLLUELA, Petitioner,


vs.
SANBIGANBAYAN (FIRST DIVISION) and PEOPLE OF THE PHILIPPINES,
Respondents.
x-----------------------x
G.R. No. 191871
EDWIN N. NACIONALES, ERNESTO P. MALVAS, and JOSE MA. G.
AMUGOD, Petitioners,
vs.
SANDIGANBAYAN (FIRST DIVISION) and PEOPLE OF THE PHILIPPINES,
represented by the OFFICE OF THE SPECIAL PROSECUTOR, OFFICE OF THE
OMBUDSMAN, Respondents.
DECISION
PERLAS-BERNABE, J.:
Assailed in these consolidated Petitions for Certiorari1 are the October
6, 20092 and February 10, 20103 Resolutions of public respondent First
Division of Sandiganbayan (SB), denying the Motion to Quash4 dated July 8,
2009 filed by petitioner Rafael L. Coscolluela (Coscolluela). The said motion
was adopted by petitioners Edwin N. Nacionales (Nacionales), Dr. Ernesto P.
Malvas (Malvas), and Jose Ma. G. Amugod (Amugod), praying for the
dismissal of Crim. Case No. SB-09-CRM-0154 for violation of their right to
speedy disposition of cases.
The Facts
Coscolluela served as governor of the Province of Negros Occidental
(Province) 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.5
On November 9, 2001, the Office of the Ombudsman for the Visayas
(Office of the Ombudsman) received a letter-complaint6 dated November 7,
2001 from Peoples 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 Report7 dated April 16, 2002 which upgraded the complaint
into a criminal case against petitioners.8 Consequently, petitioners filed their
respective counter-affidavits.9
On March 27, 2003, the assigned Graft Investigation Officer Butch E.
Caares (Caares) prepared a Resolution (March 27, 2003 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 Information10 was prepared and signed by Caares and
submitted to Deputy Ombudsman for the Visayas Primo C. Miro (Miro) for
recommendation. Miro recommended the approval of the Information on June
5, 2003. However, the final approval of Acting Ombudsman Orlando C.
Casimiro (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.11
On July 9, 2009, Coscolluela filed a Motion to Quash,12 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 Coscolluelas motion.
In reply, the respondents filed their Opposition to Motion to Quash13
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.14
The Ruling of the Sandiganbayan
In a Resolution15 dated October 6, 2009, the SB denied petitioners
Motion to Quash for lack of merit. It held that the preliminary investigation
against petitioners was actually resolved by Caares on March 27, 2003, one
(1) year and four (4) months from the date the complaint was filed, or in
November 9, 2001. Complying with internal procedure, Caares then
prepared the March 27, 2003 Resolution and Information for the
recommendation of the Miro and eventually, the final approval of the
Casimiro. As these issuances had to undergo careful review and revision
through the various levels of the said office, the period of delay i.e., from

March 27, 2003 to May 21, 2009, or roughly over six (6) years cannot be
deemed as inordinate16 and as such, petitioners constitutional right to
speedy disposition of cases was not violated.17
Aggrieved,
petitioners
filed
their
respective
Motions
for
Reconsideration18 dated November 9, 2009 and November 6, 2009, similarly
arguing that the SB erred in making a distinction between two time periods,
namely: (a) from the filing of the complaint up to the time Caares prepared
the resolution finding probable cause against petitioners; and (b) from the
submission of the said resolution to the Acting Ombudsman for review and
approval up to the filing of the Information with the SB. In this regard,
petitioners averred that the aforementioned periods should not be
compartmentalized and thus, treated as a single period. Accordingly, the
delay of eight (8) years of the instant case should be deemed prejudicial to
their right to speedy disposition of cases.19
The SB, however, denied the foregoing motions in its Resolution20
dated February 10, 2010 for lack of merit.
Hence, the instant petitions.
The Issue Before the Court
The sole issue raised for the Courts resolution is whether the SB
gravely abused its discretion in finding that petitioners right to speedy
disposition of cases was not violated.
The Courts Ruling
The petitions are meritorious.
A persons right to the speedy disposition of his case is guaranteed
under Section 16, Article III of the 1987 Philippine Constitution (Constitution)
which provides:
SEC. 16. All persons shall have the right to a speedy disposition of their
cases before all judicial, quasi-judicial, or administrative bodies.
This constitutional right is not limited to the accused in criminal
proceedings but extends to all parties in all cases, be it civil or administrative
in nature, as well as all proceedings, either judicial or quasi-judicial. In this
accord, any party to a case may demand expeditious action to all officials
who are tasked with the administration of justice.21
It must be noted, however, that the right to speedy disposition of cases
should be understood to be a relative or flexible concept such that a mere
mathematical reckoning of the time involved would not be sufficient.22
Jurisprudence dictates that the right is deemed violated only when the
proceedings are attended by vexatious, capricious, and oppressive delays; or

when unjustified postponements of the trial are asked for and secured; or
even without cause or justifiable motive, a long period of time is allowed to
elapse without the party having his case tried.23
Hence, in the determination of whether the defendant has been denied
his right to a speedy disposition of a case, the following factors may be
considered and balanced: (1) the length of delay; (2) the reasons for the
delay; (3) the assertion or failure to assert such right by the accused; and (4)
the prejudice caused by the delay.24
Examining the incidents in the present case, the Court holds that
petitioners right to a speedy disposition of their criminal case had been
violated.
First, it is observed that the preliminary investigation proceedings took
a protracted amount of time to complete.
In this relation, the Court does not lend credence to the SBs position
that the conduct of preliminary investigation was terminated as early as
March 27, 2003, or the time when Caares prepared the Resolution
recommending the filing of the Information. This is belied by Section 4,
Rule II of the Administrative Order No. 07 dated April 10, 1990,
otherwise known as the "Rules of Procedure of the Office of the
Ombudsman," which provides:
SEC. 4. Procedure The preliminary investigation of cases falling under
the jurisdiction of the Sandiganbayan and Regional Trial Courts shall be
conducted in the manner prescribed in Section 3, Rule 112 of the Rules of
Court, subject to the following provisions:
xxxx
No information may be filed and no complaint may be dismissed
without the written authority or approval of the Ombudsman in cases falling
within the jurisdiction of the Sandiganbayan, or of the proper Deputy
Ombudsman in all other cases. (Emphasis and underscoring supplied)
The above-cited provision readily reveals that there is no complete
resolution of a case under preliminary investigation until the Ombudsman
approves the investigating officers recommendation to either file an
Information with the SB or to dismiss the complaint. Therefore, in the case at
bar, the preliminary investigation proceedings against the petitioners were
not terminated upon Caares preparation of the March 27, 2003 Resolution
and Information but rather, only at the time Casimiro finally approved the
same for filing with the SB. In this regard, the proceedings were terminated
only on May 21, 2009, or almost eight (8) years after the filing of the
complaint.

Second, the above-discussed delay in the Ombudsmans resolution of


the case largely remains unjustified.
To this end, the Court equally denies the SBs ratiocination that the
delay in proceedings could be excused by the fact that the case had to
undergo careful review and revision through the different levels in the Office
of the Ombudsman before it is finally approved, in addition to the steady
stream of cases which it had to resolve.
Verily, the Office of the Ombudsman was created under the mantle of
the Constitution, mandated to be the "protector of the people" and as such,
required to "act promptly on complaints filed in any form or manner against
officers and employees of the Government, or of any subdivision, agency or
instrumentality thereof, in order to promote efficient service."25 This great
responsibility cannot be simply brushed aside by ineptitude. Precisely, the
Office of the Ombudsman has the inherent duty not only to carefully go
through the particulars of case but also to resolve the same within the proper
length of time. Its dutiful performance should not only be gauged by the
quality of the assessment but also by the reasonable promptness of its
dispensation. Thus, barring any extraordinary complication, such as the
degree of difficulty of the questions involved in the case or any event
external thereto that effectively stymied its normal work activity any of
which have not been adequately proven by the prosecution in the case at bar
there appears to be no justifiable basis as to why the Office of the
Ombudsman could not have earlier resolved the preliminary investigation
proceedings against the petitioners.
Third, the Court deems that petitioners cannot be faulted for their
alleged failure to assert their right to speedy disposition of cases.
Records show that they could not have urged the speedy resolution of
their case because they were unaware that the investigation against them
was still on-going. They were only informed of the March 27, 2003 Resolution
and Information against them only after the lapse of six (6) long years, or
when they received a copy of the latter after its filing with the SB on June 19,
2009.26 In this regard, they could have reasonably assumed that the
proceedings against them have already been terminated. This serves as a
plausible reason as to why petitioners never followed-up on the case
altogether. Instructive on this point is the Courts observation in Duterte v.
Sandiganbayan,27 to wit:
Petitioners in this case, however, could not have urged the speedy
resolution of their case because they were completely unaware that the
investigation against them was still on-going. Peculiar to this case, we
reiterate, is the fact that petitioners were merely asked to comment, and not
file counter-affidavits which is the proper procedure to follow in a preliminary
investigation. After giving their explanation and after four long years of being
in the dark, petitioners, naturally, had reason to assume that the charges
against them had already been dismissed.

On the other hand, the Office of the Ombudsman failed to present any
plausible, special or even novel reason which could justify the four-year delay
in terminating its investigation. Its excuse for the delay the many layers of
review that the case had to undergo and the meticulous scrutiny it had to
entail has lost its novelty and is no longer appealing, as was the
invocation in the Tatad case. The incident before us does not involve
complicated factual and legal issues, specially (sic) in view of the fact that
the subject computerization contract had been mutually cancelled by the
parties thereto even before the Anti-Graft League filed its complaint.
(Emphasis and underscoring supplied)
Being the respondents in the preliminary investigation proceedings, it
was not the petitioners duty to follow up on the prosecution of their case.
Conversely, it was the Office of the Ombudsmans responsibility to expedite
the same within the bounds of reasonable timeliness in view of its mandate
to promptly act on all complaints lodged before it. As pronounced in the case
of Barker v. Wingo:28
A defendant has no duty to bring himself to trial; the State has that
duty as well as the duty of insuring that the trial is consistent with due
process.
Fourth, the Court finally recognizes the prejudice caused to the
petitioners by the lengthy delay in the proceedings against them.
Lest it be misunderstood, the right to speedy disposition of cases is not
merely hinged towards the objective of spurring dispatch in the
administration of justice but also to prevent the oppression of the citizen by
holding a criminal prosecution suspended over him for an indefinite time.
Akin to the right to speedy trial, its "salutary objective" is to assure that an
innocent person may be free from the anxiety and expense of litigation or, if
otherwise, of having his guilt determined within the shortest possible time
compatible with the presentation and consideration of whatsoever legitimate
defense he may interpose.30 This looming unrest as well as the tactical
disadvantages carried by the passage of time should be weighed against the
State and in favor of the individual. In the context of the right to a speedy
trial, the Court in Corpuz v. Sandiganbayan31 (Corpuz) illumined:
A balancing test of applying societal interests and the rights of the
accused necessarily compels the court to approach speedy trial cases on an
ad hoc basis.
x x x Prejudice should be assessed in the light of the interest of the
defendant that the speedy trial was designed to protect, namely: to prevent
oppressive pre-trial incarceration; to minimize anxiety and concerns of the
accused to trial; and to limit the possibility that his defense will be impaired.
Of these, the most serious is the last, because the inability of a defendant
adequately to prepare his case skews the fairness of the entire system. There

is also prejudice if the defense witnesses are unable to recall accurately the
events of the distant past. Even if the accused is not imprisoned prior to trial,
he is still disadvantaged by restraints on his liberty and by living under a
cloud of anxiety, suspicion and often, hostility. His financial resources may be
drained, his association is curtailed, and he is subjected to public obloquy.
Delay is a two-edge sword. It is the government that bears the burden
of proving its case beyond reasonable doubt. The passage of time may make
it difficult or impossible for the government to carry its burden. The
Constitution and the Rules do not require impossibilities or extraordinary
efforts, diligence or exertion from courts or the prosecutor, nor contemplate
that such right shall deprive the State of a reasonable opportunity of fairly
prosecuting criminals. As held in Williams v. United States, for the
government to sustain its right to try the accused despite a delay, it must
show two things: (a) that the accused suffered no serious prejudice beyond
that which ensued from the ordinary and inevitable delay; and (b) that there
was no more delay than is reasonably attributable to the ordinary processes
of justice.
Closely related to the length of delay is the reason or justification of
the State for such delay. Different weights should be assigned to different
reasons or justifications invoked by the State. For instance, a deliberate
attempt to delay the trial in order to hamper or prejudice the defense should
be weighted heavily against the State. Also, it is improper for the prosecutor
to intentionally delay to gain some tactical advantage over the defendant or
to harass or prejudice him. On the other hand, the heavy case load of the
prosecution or a missing witness should be weighted less heavily against the
State. x x x (Emphasis and underscoring supplied; citations omitted)
As the right to a speedy disposition of cases encompasses the broader
purview of the entire proceedings of which trial proper is but a stage, the
above-discussed effects in Corpuz should equally apply to the case at bar. As
held in Dansal v. Fernandez, Sr.:32
Sec. 16, Article III of the 1987 Constitution, reads:
"Sec. 16. All persons shall have the right to a speedy disposition of
their cases before all judicial, quasi-judicial, or administrative bodies."
Initially embodied in Section 16, Article IV of the 1973 Constitution, the
aforesaid constitutional provision is one of three provisions mandating
speedier dispensation of justice. It guarantees the right of all persons to "a
speedy disposition of their case"; includes within its contemplation the
periods before, during and after trial, and affords broader protection than
Section 14(2), which guarantees just the right to a speedy trial. It is more
embracing than the protection under Article VII, Section 15, which covers
only the period after the submission of the case. The present constitutional
provision applies to civil, criminal and administrative cases. (Emphasis and
underscoring supplied; citations omitted)

Thus, in view of the unjustified length of time miring the Office of the
Ombudsmans resolution of the case as well as the concomitant prejudice
that the delay in this case has caused, it is undeniable that petitioners
constitutional right to due process and speedy disposition of cases had been
violated. As the institutional vanguard against corruption and bureaucracy,
the Office of the Ombudsman should create a system of accountability in
order to ensure that cases before it are resolved with reasonable dispatch
and to equally expose those who are responsible for its delays, as it ought to
determine in this case.
Corollarily, for the SBs patent and utter disregard of the existing laws
and jurisprudence surrounding the matter, the Court finds that it gravely
abused its discretion when it denied the quashal of the Information. Perforce,
the assailed resolutions must be set aside and the criminal case against
petitioners be dismissed.
While the foregoing pronouncement should, as matter of course, result
in the acquittal of the petitioners, it does not necessarily follow that
petitioners are entirely exculpated from any civil liability, assuming that the
same is proven in a subsequent case which the Province may opt to pursue.
Section 2, Rule 111 of the Rules of Court provides that an acquittal in a
criminal case does not bar the private offended party from pursuing a
subsequent civil case based on the delict, unless the judgment of acquittal
explicitly declares that the act or omission from which the civil liability may
arise did not exist.33 As explained in the case of Abejuela v. People,34 citing
Banal v. Tadeo, Jr.:35
The Rules provide: "The extinction of the penal action does not carry
with it extinction of the civil, unless the extinction proceeds from a
declaration in a final judgment that the fact from which the civil might arise
did not exist. In other cases, the person entitled to the civil action may
institute it in the jurisdiction and in the manner provided by law against the
person who may be liable for restitution of the thing and reparation or
indemnity for the damage suffered."
xxxx
In Banal vs. Tadeo, Jr., we declared:
"While an act or omission is felonious because it is punishable by law,
it gives rise to civil liability not so much because it is a crime but because it
caused damage to another. Viewing things pragmatically, we can readily see
that what gives rise to the civil liability is really the obligation and moral duty
of everyone to repair or make whole the damage caused to another by
reason of his own act or omission, done intentionally or negligently, whether
or not the same be punishable by law."(Emphasis and underscoring supplied)

Based on the violation of petitioners right to speedy disposition of


cases as herein discussed, the present case stands to be dismissed even
before either the prosecution or the defense has been given the chance to
present any evidence. Thus, the Court is unable to make a definite
pronouncement as to whether petitioners indeed committed the acts or
omissions from which any civil liability on their part might arise as prescribed
under Section 2, Rule 120 of the Rules of Court.36 Consequently, absent this
pronouncement, the Province is not precluded from instituting a subsequent
civil case based on the delict if only to recover the amount of P20,000,000.00
in public funds attributable to petitioners alleged malfeasance.
WHEREFORE, the petitions are hereby GRANTED. The assailed
Resolutions dated October 6, 2009 and February 10, 2010 of the First
Division of the Sandiganbayan are ANNULLED and SET ASIDE. The
Sandiganbayan is likewise ordered to DISMISS Crim. Case No. SB-09-CRM0154 for violation of the Constitutional right to speedy disposition of cases of
petitioners Rafael L. Coscolluela, Edwin N. Nacionales, Dr. Ernesto P. Malvas,
and Jose Ma. G. Amugod, without prejudice to any civil action which the
Province of Negros Occidental may file against petitioners.
SO ORDERED.

FIRST DIVISION
G.R. No. 143885-86

January 21, 2002

MERCED TY-DAZO and ROLANDO QUIMINALES, petitioners,


vs.
SANDIGANBAYAN, respondent.
RESOLUTION
KAPUNAN, J.:
This is a petition for certiorari filed by Merced Ty-Dazo and Rolando
Quiminales assailing the Resolutions, dated September 20, 1999 and
September 27, 1999, of the Sandiganbayan in Criminal Cases Nos. 23656
and 22021, respectively, which denied their motions to dismiss for lack of
merit. Petitioners likewise assail the Sandiganbayans Joint Resolution, dated
May 12, 2000, denying their motions for reconsideration.
The antecedent facts are as follows: on February 19, 1993, the 362nd
PNP Mobile Force Company received a report about the illegal cutting of logs
near the Salcedo Watershed. In response to said report, several police
officers were sent to the watershed to investigate. Along the highway near
the watershed, the police saw a mini-truck, then driven by petitioner
Quiminales, being loaded with sawed logs. The logs, allegedly owned by
petitioner Ty-Dazo, were without the proper permit or license. Hence, the
logs were immediately confiscated. Upon recommendation of the local
officers of the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR),
criminal charges were filed against petitioners for the illegal cutting,
gathering and transporting of lumber.
Since petitioner Ty-Dazo was a public official (municipal mayor of
Salcedo, Eastern Samar), the charges against petitioners were referred by
the Office of the Provincial Prosecutor of Eastern Samar to the Office of the
Ombudsman-Visayas. The complaint in Criminal Case No. 22021 (OMB-VISCRIM-93-0632) for violation of Sec. 3(e) of Republic Act No. 3019 (Anti-Graft
and Corrupt Practices Act) was received by the said office of the Ombudsman
on September 1, 1993. The information against petitioner Ty-Dazo was filed
with the Sandiganbayan on February 17, 1995. Petitioner Ty-Dazo then
moved for a reinvestigation on July 4, 1995. The motion for reinvestigation
was denied on March 5, 1999.
On the other hand, the complaint in Criminal Case No. 23656 (OMBVIS-CRIM-03-0347) was received by the Office of the Ombudsman-Visayas on
May 11, 1993. The corresponding information against petitioners for violation
of Presidential Decree No. 705 (Forestry Code), as amended, was filed with
the Sandiganbayan on April 28, 1997. Thereafter, petitioners moved for
reinvestigation. Resolving said motion, on January 4, 1999, the special
prosecutor recommended the dismissal of the case against petitioners for

lack of probable cause. The Ombudsman, however, denied the special


prosecutors recommendation. Instead, he (the Ombudsman) directed the
special prosecutor to proceed to trial. On January 25, 1999, the special
prosecutor filed his manifestation with the Sandiganbayan informing the
latter of the Ombudsmans directive.
On March 5, 1999, in Criminal Case No. 23656, petitioners filed with
the Sandiganbayan a motion to dismiss alleging that the delay in the
termination of the preliminary investigation conducted by the Office of the
Ombudsman violated their rights to due process and speedy disposition of
their case. In the assailed Resolution, dated September 23, 1999, the
Sandiganbayan denied petitioners motion to dismiss.1
Similarly, on September 6, 1999, in Criminal Case No. 22021, petitioner
Ty-Dazo filed a motion to dismiss likewise alleging violation of her rights to
due process and speedy disposition of the case. On September 27, 1999, the
Sandiganbayan issued the assailed Resolution denying petitioner Ty-Dazos
motion to dismiss for lack of merit.2
Petitioners then filed their motions for reconsideration of the aforesaid
resolutions of the Sandiganbayan. Acting on these motions, the
Sandiganbayan issued the assailed Joint Resolution, dated May 11, 2000,
denying these motions for lack of merit.3
Petitioners now come to this Court alleging that the Sandiganbayan
committed grave abuse of discretion in denying their motions to dismiss.
Petitioners contend that the delay in the termination of the preliminary
investigation conducted by the Office of the Ombudsman constitutes a
violation of their rights to due process and speedy trial. The Office of the
Ombudsman allegedly already received the complaints in Criminal Cases
Nos. 23656 and 22021 some time in 1994. However, it was only on April 28,
1997, or three (3) years after the receipt of the complaint, that the
corresponding information in Criminal Case No. 23656 was filed with the
Sandiganbayan. On the other hand, while the information in Criminal Case
No. 22021 was filed with the Sandiganbayan on January 18, 1995, it took the
Office of the Ombudsman more than four (4) years to resolve petitioner TyDazos motion for reinvestigation.
Petitioners take exception to the pronouncement of respondent
Sandiganbayan that they are deemed to have waived their right to speedy
disposition of their cases by the filing of the motion for reinvestigation. Said
motion was allegedly filed precisely to bring to the attention of respondent
Sandiganbayan that the unreasonable length of time that it took the Office of
the Ombudsman to file the information in Criminal Case No. 23656 violated
petitioners right to due process and right to the speedy disposition of their
cases.
To support their contention, petitioners rely mainly on our ruling in
Tatad vs. Sandiganbayan4 where we ruled that the long delay in the

termination of the preliminary investigation conducted by the then


Tanodbayan violated the constitutional rights of the accused to due process
and to the speedy disposition of cases.
The petition lacks merit.
The right to a speedy disposition of cases, like the right to a speedy
trial, is deemed violated only when the proceedings is attended by vexatious,
capricious, and oppressive delays; or when unjustified postponements of the
trial are asked for and secured, or when without cause or unjustifiable
motive, a long period of time is allowed to elapse without the party having
his case tried.5 In the determination of whether or not that right has been
violated, the factors that may be considered and balanced are: the length of
the delay the reasons for such delay, the assertion or failure to assert such
right by the accused, and the prejudice caused by the delay.6
A mere mathematical reckoning of the time involved, therefore, would
not be sufficient.1wphi1 In the application of the constitutional guarantee of
the right to speedy disposition of cases, particular regard must also be taken
of the facts and circumstances peculiar to each case.7
In Tatad, this Court held that "the inordinate delay in terminating the
preliminary investigation and filing the information" constituted a violation of
the right of the accused to due process and to a speedy disposition of cases
after it took into consideration several attendant circumstances, namely: that
political motivation played a vital role in activating and propelling the
prosecutorial process; that there was a blatant departure from the
established procedure prescribed by law for the conduct of a preliminary
investigation; and that the long delay in resolving the preliminary
investigation could not be justified on the basis of the facts on record.8
Reliance by petitioners on Tatad is utterly misplaced.1wphi1 In the
first place, there is no showing that the filing of the cases against petitioners
was politically motivated. Moreover, unlike in Tatad, the established
procedure prescribed for the conduct of preliminary investigation was
observed in this case. Petitioners were given the opportunity to submit their
respective evidence to refute the charges against them before the
corresponding information was filed with the Sandiganbayan. Finally, as
noted by the Sandiganbayan, petitioners themselves contributed to the
delay, thus:
[T]he Court notes that notwithstanding their present claim that the
lapse of time from the conduct of the preliminary investigation until the filing
of the cases already violated their constitutional right to due process,
accused filed a motion for reinvestigation of this case, which, admittedly,
served to further delay the case.9
The Court thus finds that there is no basis for petitioners allegations
that their constitutional rights to due process and speedy disposition of cases

against them. The bare allegation that it took the Ombudsman more than
three (3) years to terminate the preliminary investigation and file the
necessary information would not suffice. As earlier stated, "a mere
mathematical reckoning of the time involved would not be sufficient."10
In fine, petitioners failed to show that the assailed resolutions of
respondent Sandiganbayan are tainted by grave abuse of discretion or
jurisdictional defect to warrant the issuance of the writ of certiorari.
WHEREFORE, the instant petition is hereby DISMISSED for lack of merit.
SO ORDERED.
Davide, Jr., C.J., (Chairman), Puno, Pardo, and Ynares-Santiago, JJ.,
concur.

Footnotes
1 Rollo, pp. 19-22.
2 Id., at 23-26.
3 Id., at 34-35.
4 159 SCRA 70 (1988).
5 Binay vs. Sandiganbayan, 316 SCRA 65 (1999); Gonzales vs.
Sandiganbayan, 199 SCRA 298 (19991).
6 Blanco vs. Sandiganbayan, G.R. No. 136757-58, November 27, 2000.
7 Binay vs. Sandiganbayan, supra.
8 Tatad vs. Sandiganbayan, supra, at 83; See also Blanco vs.
Sandiganbayan, id.
9 Resolution, Criminal Case No. 23656, September 23, 1999, p. 3;
Resolution, Criminal Case No. 22021, October 1, 1999, p. 3.
10 Tai Lim vs. Court of Appeals, 317 SCRA 521 (1999).

The Lawphil Project - Arellano Law Foundation

FRANCISCO S. TATAD, petitioner,


vs.
THE SANDIGANBAYAN, and THE TANODBAYAN, respondents.
YAP, J.:
In this petition for certiorari and prohibition, with preliminary
injunction, dated October 16, 1985, petitioner seeks to annul and set aside
the resolution of the Tanodbayan of April 7, 1985, and the resolutions of the
Sandiganbayan, dated August 9, 1985, August 12,1985 and September 17,
1985, and to enjoin the Tanodbayan and the Sandiganbayan from continuing
with the trial or any other proceedings in Criminal Cases Nos. 10499, 10500,
10501, 10502 and 10503, an entitled "People of the Philippines versus
Francisco S. Tatad."
The petition alleges, among other things, that sometime in October
1974, Antonio de los Reyes, former Head Executive Assistant of the then
Department of Public Information (DPI) and Assistant Officer-in-Charge of the
Bureau of Broadcasts, filed a formal report with the Legal Panel, Presidential
Security Command (PSC), charging petitioner, who was then Secretary and
Head of the Department of Public Information, with alleged violations of
Republic Act No. 3019, otherwise known as the Anti-Graft and Corrupt
Practices Act. Apparently, no action was taken on said report.
Then, in October 1979, or five years later, it became publicly known
that petitioner had submitted his resignation as Minister of Public
Information, and two months after, or on December 12, 1979, Antonio de los
Reyes filed a complaint with the Tanodbayan (TBP Case No. 8005-16-07)
against the petitioner, accusing him of graft and corrupt practices in the
conduct of his office as then Secretary of Public Information. The complaint
repeated the charges embodied in the previous report filed by complainant
before the Legal Panel, Presidential Security Command (PSC).
On January 26, 1980, the resignation of petitioner was accepted by
President Ferdinand E. Marcos. On April 1, 1980, the Tanodbayan referred the
complaint of Antonio de los Reyes to the Criminal Investigation Service (CIS)
for fact-finding investigation. On June 16, 1980, Roberto P. Dizon, CIS
Investigator of the Investigation and Legal Panel, PSC, submitted his
Investigation Report, with the following conclusion, ". . . evidence gathered
indicates that former Min. TATAD have violated Sec. 3 (e) and Sec. 7 of RA
3019, respectively. On the other hand, Mr. ANTONIO L. CANTERO is also liable
under Sec. 5 of RA 3019," and recommended appropriate legal action on the
matter.
Petitioner moved to dismiss the complaint against him, claiming
immunity from prosecution by virtue of PD 1791, but the motion was denied
on July 26, 1982 and his motion for reconsideration was also denied on
October 5, 1982. On October 25, 1982, all affidavits and counter-affidavits
were with the Tanodbayan for final disposition. On July 5, 1985, the

Tanodbayan approved a resolution, dated April 1, 1985, prepared by Special


Prosecutor Marina Buzon, recommending that the following informations be
filed against petitioner before the Sandiganbayan, to wit:
l. Violation of Section 3, paragraph (e) of RA. 3019 for giving D' Group,
a private corporation controlled by his brother-in-law, unwarranted benefits,
advantage or preference in the discharge of his official functions through
manifest partiality and evident bad faith;
2. Violation of Section 3, paragraph (b) of RA. 3019 for receiving a
check of P125,000.00 from Roberto Vallar, President/General Manager of
Amity Trading Corporation as consideration for the release of a check of
P588,000.00 to said corporation for printing services rendered for the
Constitutional Convention Referendum in 1973;
3. Violation of Section 7 of RA. 3019 on three (3) counts for his failure
to file his Statement of Assets and Liabilities for the calendar years 1973,
1976 and 1978.
Accordingly, on June 12, 1985, the following informations were flied
with the Sandiganbayan against the petitioner:
Re:Criminal Case No. 10499
The undersigned Tanodbayan Special Prosecutor accuses Francisco S.
Tatad with Violation of Section 3, paragraph (b) of Republic Act No. 3019,
otherwise known as the Anti-Graft and Corrupt Practices Act, committed as
follows:
That on or about the 16th day of July, 1973 in the City of Manila,
Philippines, and within the jurisdiction of this Honorable Court, the abovenamed accused, being then the Secretary of the Department (now Ministry)
of Public Information, did then and there, wilfully and unlawfully demand and
receive a check for Pl25,000.00 from Roberto Vallar, President/General
Manager of Amity Trading Corporation as consideration for the payment to
said Corporation of the sum of P588,000.00, for printing services rendered
for the Constitutional Convention Referendum of January, 1973, wherein the
accused in his official capacity had to intervene under the law in the release
of the funds for said project.
That the complaint against the above-named accused was filed with
the Office of the Tanodbayan on May 16, 1980.
CONTRARY TO LAW.
Re:

Criminal Case No. 10500

The undersigned Tanodbayan Special Prosecutor accuses FRANCISCO


S. TATAD with Violation of Section 7 of Republic Act No. 3019, otherwise
known as the Anti-Graft and Corrupt Practice Act, committed as follows:
That on or about the 31st day of January, 1974 in the City of Manila,
Philippines, and within the jurisdiction of this Honorable Court, the abovenamed accused, a public officer being then the Secretary of the Department
(now Ministry) of Public Information, did then and there wilfully and
unlawfully fail to prepare and file with the Office of the President, a true
detailed and sworn statement of his assets and liabilities, as of December 31,
1973, including a statement of the amounts and sources of his income, the
amounts of his personal and family expenses and the amount of income
taxes paid for the next preceding calendar year (1973), as required of every
public officer.
That the complaint against the above-named accused was flied with
the Office of the Tanodbayan on June 20, 1980.
CONTRARY TO LAW.
Re:

Criminal Case No. 10501

The undersigned Tanodbayan Special Prosecutor accuses FRANCISCO


S. TATAD with Violation of Section 3, paragraph (e) of Republic Act No. 3019,
otherwise known as the Anti-Graft and Corrupt Practices Act, committed as
follows:
That on or about the month of May, 1975 and for sometime prior
thereto, in the City of Manila, Philippines, and within the jurisdiction of this
Honorable Court, the above-named accused, a public officer being then the
Secretary of the Department (now Ministry) of Public Information, did then
and there, wilfully and unlawfully give Marketing Communication Group, Inc.
(D' Group), a private corporation of which his brother-in-law, Antonio L.
Cantero, is the President, unwarranted benefits, advantage or preference in
the discharge of his official functions, through manifest partiality and evident
bad faith, by allowing the transfer of D' GROUP of the funds, assets and
ownership of South East Asia Research Corporation (SEARCH), allegedly a
private corporation registered with the Securities and Exchange Corporation
on June 4, 1973, but whose organization and operating expenses came from
the confidential funds of the Department of Public Information as it was
organized to undertake research, projects for the government, without
requiring an accounting of the funds advanced by the Department of Public
Information and reimbursement thereof by D' GROUP, to the damage and
prejudice of the government.
That the complaint against the above-named accused was filed with
the Office of the Tanodbayan on May 16, 1980.
CONTRARY TO LAW.

Re:

Criminal Case No. 10502

The undersigned Tanodbayan Special Prosecutor accuses FRANCISCO


S. TATAD with Violation of Section 7 of Republic Act No. 3019, otherwise
known as the Anti-Graft and Corrupt Practices Act, committed as follows:
That on or about the 31st day of January, 1977 in the City of Manila,
Philippines, and within the jurisdiction of this Honorable Court, the abovenamed accused, a public officer being then the Secretary of the Department
(now Ministry) of Public Information, did then and there wilfully and
unlawfully fail to prepare and file with the Office of the President, a true and
sworn statement of his assets and liabilities, as of December 31, 1976,
including a statement of the amounts of his personal and family expenses
and the amount of income taxes paid for the next preceding calendar year
(1976), as required of every public officer.
That the complaint against the above-named accused was filed with
the Office of the Tanodbayan on June 20, 1988.
CONTRARY TO LAW.
Re:

Criminal Case No. 10503

The undersigned Tanodbayan Special Prosecutor accuses FRANCISCO


S. TATAD with Violation of Section 7 of Republic Act No. 3019, otherwise
known as the Anti-Graft and Corrupt Practices Act, committed as follows:
That on or about the 15th day of April, 1979, in the City of Manila
Philippines, and within the jurisdiction of this Honorable Court, the abovenamed accused, a public officer being then the Secretary of the Department
(now Ministry) of Public Information, did then and there wilfully and
unlawfully fail to prepare and file with the Office of the President, a true,
detailed and sworn statement of his assets and liabilities, as of December 31,
1978, including a statement of the amounts and sources of his income, the
amounts of his personal and family expenses and the amount of income
taxes paid for the next preceding calendar year (1978), as required of every
public officer.
That the complaint against the above-named accused was filed with
the Office of the Tanodbayan on June 20, 1980.
CONTRARY TO LAW.
On July 22, 1985, petitioner filed with the Sandiganbayan
consolidated motion to quash the informations on the follow grounds:

1
The prosecution deprived accused-movant of due process of law
and of the right to a speedy disposition of the cases filed against him,
amounting to loss of jurisdiction to file the informations;
2. Prescription of the offenses charged in Crim. Case Nos. 10499,
10500 and 10501;
3.
The facts charged in Criminal Case No. 10500 (for failure to file
Statement of Assets and Liabilities for the year 1973) do not constitute an
offense;
4. No prima facie case against the accused-movant exists in Criminal
Cases Nos. 10500, 10502 and 10503;
5. No prima facie case against the accused-movant exists in Criminal
Case No. 10199 for Violation of Sec. 3, par. (b) of R.A. 3019, as amended;
6. No prima facie case against the accused-movant exists in Criminal
Case No. 10501 (for Violation of Sec. 3 (e) of R.A. 3019, as amended.
On July 26, 1985, the Tanodbayan filed its opposition to petitioner's
consolidated motion to quash, stating therein in particular that there were
only two grounds in said motion that needed refutation, namely:
1. The offense charged in Criminal Cases Nos. 10499,10500 and
10501, have already prescribed and criminal liability is extinguished; and
2.
The facts charged in the information (Criminal Case No. 10500
For failure to file Statement of Assets and Liabilities for the year 1973) do not
constitute an offense.
On the issue of prescription, Tanodbayan citing the case of Francisco
vs. Court of Appeals, 122 SCRA 538, contended that the filing of the
complaint or denuncia in the fiscal's office interrupts the period of
prescription. Since the above-numbered cases were filed with the Office of
the Tanodbayan in 1980 and the alleged offenses were committed on July 16,
1973, January 31, 1974 and in May 1975, respectively, although the charges
were actually filed in Court only on July 9, 1985, the Tanodbayan has still the
right to prosecute the same, it appearing that the ten (10) year prescriptive
period has not yet lapsed. Moreover, Tanodbayan pointed out that a law such
as Batas Pambansa Blg. 195, extending the period of limitation with respect
to criminal prosecution, unless the right to acquittal has been acquired, is
constitutional.
Tanodbayan likewise said that the requirement for the filing of the
Statement of Assets and Liabilities in P.D. 379 is separate and distinct from
that required pursuant to the provisions of the Anti-Graft Law, as amended.
For while the former requires "any natural or juridical person having gross
assets of P50,000.00 or more..." to submit a statement of assets and

liabilities "... regardless of the networth," the mandate in the latter law is for
ALL government employees and officials to submit a statement of assets and
liabilities. Hence, the prosecution under these two laws are separate and
distinct from each other. Tanodbayan also explained that delay in the
conduct of preliminary investigation does not impair the validity of the
informations filed and that neither will it render said informations defective.
Finally, Tanodbayan added that P.D. 911, the law which governs preliminary
investigations is merely directory insofar as it fixes a period of ten (10) days
from its termination to resolve the preliminary investigation.
On August 9, 1985, the Sandiganbayan rendered its challenged
resolution denying petitioner's motion to quash, the dispositive portion of
which reads:
WHEREFORE, prescinding therefrom, We find, and so hold, that the
accused's "Consolidated Motion to Quash" should be as it is hereby, denied
for lack of merit. Conformably to Rule 117, Section 4 of the 1985 Rules on
Criminal Procedure, the defect in the information in Criminal Case No. 10500
being one which could be cured by amendment, the Tanodbayan is hereby
directed to amend said information to change the date of the alleged
commission of the offense therein charged from January 31, 1974 to
September 30, 1974 within five (5) days from receipt hereof.
SO ORDERED.
On August 10, 1985, in compliance with the Sandiganbayan's
resolution of August 8, 1985, the Tanodbayan filed an amended information
in Criminal Case No. 10500, changing the date of the commission of the
offense to September 30, 1974.
On August 30, 1985, petitioners filed a consolidated motion for
reconsideration which was denied by the Sandiganbayan September 17,
1985. Hence, petitioner filed this petition on October 16, 1985 assailing the
denial of his motion to quash. On October 22, 1985, the Court, without giving
due course the petition, resolved to require the respondents to comment
thereon and issued a temporary restraining order effective immediately and
continuing until further orders of the Court, enjoining the respondents
Sandiganbayan and Tanodbayan from continuing with the trial and other
proceedings in Criminal Cases Nos. 10499, 10500, 10501, 10502 and 10503.
In compliance with said resolution, the respondents, through ,Solicitor
General Estelito P. Mendoza, filed their comment on January 6, 1986.
On April 10, 1986, the Court required the parties to move in the
premises considering the supervening events, including the change of
administration that had transpired, and the provisions of Sec. 18, Rule 3 of
the Rules of Court, insofar far as the Public respondents were concerned,
which requires the successor official to state whether or not he maintains the
action or position taken by his predecessor in office. On June 20, 1986, the
new Tanodbayan manifested that since "the charges are not political offenses

and they have no political bearing whatsoever," he had no alternative but to


pursue the cases against the petitioner, should the Court resolve to deny the
petition; that in any event, petitioner is not precluded from pursuing any
other legal remedies under the law, such as the filing of a motion for reevaluation of his cases with the Tanodbayan. The new Solicitor General filed
a manifestation dated June 27, 1986 in which he concurred with the position
taken by the new Tanodbayan.
Pursuant to the above manifestation of the new Tanodbayan, the
petitioner filed a motion for re-evaluation with the Office of the Tanodbayan,
dated July 21, 1986, praying that the cases in question be re-evaluated and
the informations be quashed. The Court is not aware of what action, if any,
has been taken thereon by the Tanodbayan. However, be that as it may, the
filing of the aforesaid motion for re-evaluation with the Tanodbayan has no
material bearing insofar as the duty of this Court to resolve the issues raised
in the instant petition is concerned.
Petitioner has raised the following issues in his petition:
1.
Whether the prosecution's long delay in the filing of these cases
with the Sandiganbayan had deprived petitioner of his constitutional light to
due process and the right to a speedy disposition of the cases against him.
2.

Whether the crimes charged has already prescribed.

3.
Whether there is a discriminatory prosecution of the petitioner by
the Tanodbayan.
4.
Whether Sandiganbayan should have ruled on the question of
amnesty raised by the petitioner.
5.
Whether petitioner's contention of the supposed lack or nonexistence of prima facie evidence to sustain the filing of the cases at bar
justifies the quashal of the questioned informations.
Petitioner claims that the Tanodbayan culpably violated the
constitutional mandate of "due process" and "speedy disposition of cases" in
unduly prolonging the termination of the preliminary investigation and in
filing the corresponding informations only after more than a decade from the
alleged commission of the purported offenses, which amounted to loss of
jurisdiction and authority to file the informations. The respondent
Sandiganbayan dismissed petitioner's contention, saying that the
applicability of the authorities cited by him to the case at bar was
"nebulous;" that it would be premature for the court to grant the "radical
relief" prayed for by petitioner at this stage of the proceeding; that the mere
allegations of "undue delay" do not suffice to justify acceptance thereof
without any showing "as to the supposed lack or omission of any alleged
procedural right granted or allowed to the respondent accused by law or
administrative fiat" or in the absence of "indubitable proof of any irregularity

or abuse" committed by the Tanodbayan in the conduct of the preliminary


investigation; that such facts and circumstances as would establish
petitioner's claim of denial of due process and other constitutionally
guaranteed rights could be presented and more fully threshed out at the
trial. Said the Sandiganbayan:
That there was a hiatus in the proceedings between the alleged
termination of the proceedings before the investigating fiscal on October 25,
1982 and its resolution on April 17, 1985 could have been due to certain
factors which do not appear on record and which both parties did not bother
to explain or elaborate upon in detail. It could even be logically inferred that
the delay may be due to a painstaking an gruelling scrutiny by the
Tanodbayan as to whether the evidence presented during the preliminary
investigation merited prosecution of a former high-ranking government
official. In this respect, We are the considered opinion that the provision of
Pres. Decree No. 911, as amended, regarding the resolution of a complaint
by the Tanodbayan within ten (10) days from termination of the preliminary
investigation is merely "directory" in nature, in view of the nature and extent
of the proceedings in said office.
The statutory grounds for the quashal of an information are clearly set
forth in concise language in Rule 117, Section 2, of the 1985 Rules on
Criminal Procedure and no other grounds for quashal may be entertained by
the Court prior to arraignment inasmuch as it would be itself remiss in the
performance of its official functions and subject to the charge that it has
gravely abused its discretion. Such facts and circumstances which could
otherwise justify the dismissal of the case, such as failure on the part of the
prosecution to comply with due process or any other constitutionallyguaranteed rights may presented during the trial wherein evidence for and
against the issue involved may be fully threshed out and considered.
Regrettably, the accused herein attempts to have the Court grant such a
radical relief during this stage of the proceedings which precludes a precocious or summary evaluation of insufficient evidence in support thereof.
This brings us to the crux of the issue at hand. Was petitioner deprived
of his constitutional right to due process and the right to "speedy disposition"
of the cases against him as guaranteed by the Constitution? May the court,
ostrich like, bury its head in the sand, as it were, at the initial stage of the
proceedings and wait to resolve the issue only after the trial?
In a number of cases, 1 this Court has not hesitated to grant the socalled "radical relief" and to spare the accused from undergoing the rigors
and expense of a full-blown trial where it is clear that he has been deprived
of due process of law or other constitutionally guaranteed rights. Of course,
it goes without saying that in the application of the doctrine enunciated in
those cases, particular regard must be taken of the facts and circumstances
peculiar to each case.

Coming to the case at bar, the following relevant facts appear on


record and are largely undisputed. The complainant, Antonio de los Reyes,
originally filed what he termed "a report" with the Legal Panel of the
Presidential Security Command (PSC) on October 1974, containing charges of
alleged violations of Rep. Act No. 3019 against then Secretary of Public
Information Francisco S. Tatad. The "report" was made to "sleep" in the office
of the PSC until the end of 1979 when it became widely known that Secretary
(then Minister) Tatad had a falling out with President Marcos and had
resigned from the Cabinet. On December 12, 1979, the 1974 complaint was
resurrected in the form of a formal complaint filed with the Tanodbayan and
docketed as TBP Case No. 8005-16-07. The Tanodbayan acted on the
complaint on April 1, 1980-which was around two months after petitioner
Tatad's resignation was accepted by Pres. Marcos by referring the
complaint to the CIS, Presidential Security Command, for investigation and
report. On June 16, 1980, the CIS report was submitted to the Tanodbayan,
recommending the filing of charges for graft and corrupt practices against
former Minister Tatad and Antonio L. Cantero. By October 25, 1982, all
affidavits and counter-affidavits were in the case was already for disposition
by the Tanodbayan. However, it was only on July 5, 1985 that a resolution
was approved by the Tanodbayan, recommending the ring of the
corresponding criminal informations against the accused Francisco Tatad.
Five (5) criminal informations were filed with the Sandiganbayan on June 12,
1985, all against petitioner Tatad alone.
A painstaking review of the facts can not but leave the impression that
political motivations played a vital role in activating and propelling the
prosecutorial process in this case. Firstly, the complaint came to life, as it
were, only after petitioner Tatad had a falling out with President Marcos.
Secondly, departing from established procedures prescribed by law for
preliminary investigation, which require the submission of affidavits and
counter-affidavits by the complainant and the respondent and their
witnesses, the Tanodbayan referred the complaint to the Presidential Security
Command for finding investigation and report.
We find such blatant departure from the established procedure as a
dubious, but revealing attempt to involve an office directly under the
President in the prosecutorial process, lending credence to the suspicion that
the prosecution was politically motivated. We cannot emphasize too strongly
that prosecutors should not allow, and should avoid, giving the impression
that their noble office is being used or prostituted, wittingly or unwittingly,
for political ends or other purposes alien to, or subversive of, the basic and
fundamental objective of serving the interest of justice even handedly,
without fear or favor to any and all litigants alike, whether rich or poor, weak
or strong, powerless or mighty. Only by strict adherence to the established
procedure may the public's perception of the of the prosecutor be enhanced.
Moreover, the long delay in resolving the case under preliminary
investigation can not be justified on the basis of the facts on record. The law
(P.D. No. 911) prescribes a ten-day period for the prosecutor to resolve a

case under preliminary investigation by him from its termination. While we


agree with the respondent court that this period fixed by law is merely
"directory," yet, on the other hand, it can not be disregarded or ignored
completely, with absolute impunity. It certainly can not be assumed that the
law has included a provision that is deliberately intended to become
meaningless and to be treated as a dead letter.
We find the long delay in the termination of the preliminary
investigation by the Tanodbayan in the instant case to be violative of the
constitutional right of the accused to due process. Substantial adherence to
the requirements of the law governing the conduct of preliminary
investigation, including substantial compliance with the time limitation
prescribed by the law for the resolution of the case by the prosecutor, is part
of the procedural due process constitutionally guaranteed by the
fundamental law. Not only under the broad umbrella of the due process
clause, but under the constitutional guarantee of "speedy disposition" of
cases as embodied in Section 16 of the Bill of Rights (both in the 1973 and
the 1987 Constitutions), the inordinate delay is violative of the petitioner's
constitutional rights. A delay of close to three (3) years can not be deemed
reasonable or justifiable in the light of the circumstance obtaining in the case
at bar. We are not impressed by the attempt of the Sandiganbayan to
sanitize the long delay by indulging in the speculative assumption that "the
delay may be due to a painstaking and gruelling scrutiny by the Tanodbayan
as to whether the evidence presented during the preliminary investigation
merited prosecution of a former high ranking government official." In the first
place, such a statement suggests a double standard of treatment, which
must be emphatically rejected. Secondly, three out of the five charges
against the petitioner were for his alleged failure to file his sworn statement
of assets and liabilities required by Republic Act No. 3019, which certainly did
not involve complicated legal and factual issues necessitating such
"painstaking and gruelling scrutiny" as would justify a delay of almost three
years in terminating the preliminary investigation. The other two charges
relating to alleged bribery and alleged giving of unwarranted benefits to a
relative, while presenting more substantial legal and factual issues, certainly
do not warrant or justify the period of three years, which it took the
Tanodbayan to resolve the case.
It has been suggested that the long delay in terminating the
preliminary investigation should not be deemed fatal, for even the complete
absence of a preliminary investigation does not warrant dismissal of the
information. True-but the absence of a preliminary investigation can be
corrected by giving the accused such investigation. But an undue delay in
the conduct of a preliminary investigation can not be corrected, for until now,
man has not yet invented a device for setting back time.
After a careful review of the facts and circumstances of this case, we
are constrained to hold that the inordinate delay in terminating the
preliminary investigation and filing the information in the instant case is
violative of the constitutionally guaranteed right of the petitioner to due

process and to a speedy disposition of the cases against him. Accordingly,


the informations in Criminal Cases Nos. 10499, 10500, 10501, 10502 and
10503 should be dismissed. In view of the foregoing, we find it unnecessary
to rule on the other issues raised by petitioner.
Accordingly, the Court Resolved to give due course to the petition and
to grant the same. The informations in Criminal Cases Nos. 10499, 10500,
10501, 10502 and 10503, entitled "People of the Philippines vs. Francisco S.
Tatad" are hereby DISMISSED. The temporary restraining order issued on
October 22, 1985 is made permanent.
SO ORDERED.
Teehankee, C.J., Fernan, Narvasa, Melencio-Herrera, Gutierrez, Jr., Cruz,
Paras, Feliciano, Gancayco, Padilla, Bidin, Sarmiento, Cortes and GrioAquino, JJ., concur.

Footnotes
1
Salonga vs. Cruz Pano, et al., 134 SCRA 438; Mean vs. Argel, 115
SCRA 256; Yap vs. Lutero, 105 Phil, 3007; People vs. Zulueta, 89 Phil. 880.

The Lawphil Project - Arellano Law Foundation

G.R. Nos. 211933 & 211960

April 15, 2015

ROBERTA S. SALDARIEGA, Petitioner,


vs.
HON. ELVIRA D.C. PANGANIBAN, Presiding Judge, Branch 227, Regional
Trial Court, National Capital Region, Quezon City and PEOPLE OF THE
PHILIPPINES, Respondents.
DECISION
PERALTA, J.:
Before us is a special civil action for certiorari1 under Rule 65 of the
Rules of Court, dated April 21, 2014 filed by Roberta S. Saldariega
(petitioner), through counsel, assailing the Order dated June 14, 2013 issued
by respondent Presiding Judge Elvira D.C. Panganiban, which granted the
motion to reopen Criminal Case Nos. Q-11-173055 and Q-11-173056, for
allegedly having been issued with grave abuse of discretion amounting to
lack or excess of jurisdiction. The facts of the case, as culled from the
records, are as follows:
On November 8, 2011, the Office of the City Prosecutor, Quezon City
filed two (2) Informations against petitioner Roberta S. Saldariega for
violation of Sections 5 and 11, Article2, Republic Act No. 9165, otherwise
known as the Comprehensive Dangerous Drugs Act of 2002, docketed as
Criminal Case Nos. Q-11-173055 and Q-11-173056, respectively.2 Said cases
were raffled to Branch 227, Regional Trial Court, Quezon City, presided by
herein respondent Judge Elvira D.C. Panganiban.
Court hearings were set for the subject cases, however, the
prosecution's principal witness PO2 Nelson Villas (PO2 Villas), one of the
arresting officers, failed to attend said scheduled hearings, specifically on
October 22, 2012 and October 25, 2012.3 Thus, during the May 16, 2013
hearing, respondent judge issued an Order provisionally dismissing the cases
with the express consent of the accused-petitioner,4 the dispositive portion
of which reads as follows:
xxxx
Today is supposedly set for the continuation of the direct testimony of
PO2 Nelson Villas. However, although notified, said witness failed to appear
simply on the ground that there is a deceased relative, the body of whom, he
will accompany to the province.
The records show that on December 10, 2012, he testified partially on
direct examination and he was notified of the March 26, 2013 continuation of
his testimony, but despite Notice in open Court, he failed to appear. Likewise,
the Court noticed that the other prosecution witness, PO3 Rionaldo Sabulaan
never appeared despite Notice received. It appears from the records that

only the Forensic Chemist testified on September 13, 2012, but the Forensic
Chemist does not have any personal knowledge of the source of the
evidence she examined, and also on the facts and circumstances affecting
the arrest of the accused. Thus, the defense counsel invoked the right of the
accused to speedy trial. The Public Prosecutor did not object to the dismissal,
provided the dismissal is only provisional. Hence, let these cases be ordered
PROVISIONALLY DISMISSED WITH THE EXPRESS CONSENT OF THE ACCUSED
AND HER COUNSEL.
xxxx
SO ORDERED.5
On June 5, 2013, PO2 Villas filed a Motion to Re-open the Case against
petitioner. PO2 Villas explained that his failure to appear during the hearings
of the cases was due to the untimely death of his father-in-law.6 He further
averred that PO3 Rionaldo Sabulaan, one of the arresting officers, is no
longer assigned at the Cubao Police Station and had been transferred at the
Batasan Police Station since November 2012, thus, could not have received
his subpoena which is directed at his former place of assignment.
In the disputed Order7 dated June 14, 2013, respondent Judge granted
the motion and ordered the re-opening of the cases against petitioner and
set the cases for continuation of hearing.
Petitioner moved for reconsideration. She argued that the provisional
dismissal of the criminal cases is considered an acquittal and PO2 Villas had
no personality to file the motion to re-open the case.8
In an Order9 dated February 18, 2014, respondent denied petitioner's
motion for reconsideration.
On April 29, 2014, the Court resolved to require respondents to
comment on the instant petition.10
In their Comment11 dated June 11, 2014, the Office of the Solicitor
General, through then Solicitor General Francis H. Jardeleza,12 maintained
that respondent judge committed no grave abuse of discretion in issuing the
assailed Orders dated June 14, 2013 and February 18, 2014. It argued that
petitioner did not expressly object to the motion to revive the criminal cases.
Thus, the instant petition raising the following issues:
I
WHETHER OR NOT WITNESS PO2 NELSON VILLAS CAN FILE A MOTION
TO REOPEN A PROVISIONALLY DISMISSED CASE WITHOUT THE PARTICIPATION
OF A PUBLIC PROSECUTOR.
II

WHETHER OR NOT THE BRANCHCLERK OF COURT HAS THE RIGHT TO


RECEIVE A MOTION TO RE-OPEN THAT DOES NOT CONTAIN A NOTICE OF
HEARING AND A SHOWING THAT THE OTHER PARTY WAS GIVEN A COPY
THEREOF.
III
WHETHER OR NOT THE RESPONDENT JUDGE HAS THE AUTHORITY TO
ACT FAVORABLY UPON SAID MOTION.
IV
WHETHER OR NOT THE PROVISIONAL DISMISSAL OF CRIMINAL CASES
NOS. Q-11-173055-56 WITH THE CONSENT OF THE ACCUSED BUT
PREDICATED ON FAILURE TO PROSECUTE WHICH VIOLATES THE RIGHT OF
THE ACCUSED TO SPEEDY TRIAL IS NOT EQUIVALENT TO AN ACQUITTAL,
SUCH THAT ITS REVIVAL WOULD CONSTITUTE DOUBLE JEOPARDY.
V
WHETHER OR NOT THE ABSENCE OF PROSECUTION'S PRINCIPAL
WITNESS PO2 NELSON VILLAS FOR FOUR (4) CONSECUTIVE HEARINGS HAD
BEEN CONSIDERED WAIVER PURSUANT TO A.M. NO. 11-6-10-SC.
RULING
We deny the petition.
The Court notes that the instant case suffers from procedural
infirmities which this Court cannot ignore. While this petition is to be treated
as one for certiorari under Rule 65, it is still dismissible for violation of the
hierarchy of courts. Although the Supreme Court has concurrent jurisdiction
with the RTC and the CA to issue writs of certiorari, this should not be
taken as granting parties the absolute and unrestrained freedom of choice of
the court to which an application will be directed. Direct resort to this Court
is allowed only if there are special, important and compelling reasons clearly
and specifically spelled out in the petition, which are not present in this
case.13
Moreover, this being a petition on certiorari under Rule 65, the issues
raised herein should be confined solely to questions of jurisdiction. Thus,
while in the course of the discussion, it may be necessary to thresh out
pertinent factual issues, the same is limited for the purpose of resolving the
issue on jurisdiction, that is, whether the trial court committed grave abuse
of discretion resulting to lack or in excess of jurisdiction.
When a criminal case is provisionally

dismissed with the express consent of


the accused, the case may be revived by
the State within the periods provided
under the 2nd paragraph of Section 8,
Rule 117 of the Rules of Criminal
Procedure.
A case shall not be provisionally dismissed except with the express
consent of the accused and with notice to the offended party. Here, a perusal
of the Order, dated May 16, 2013, stresses in no uncertain terms that the
dismissal of the case was provisional, i.e., the case could be revived at some
future time. If petitioner believed that the case against her should be
dismissed with prejudice, she should not have agreed to a provisional
dismissal. She should have moved for a dismissal with prejudice so that the
court would have no alternative but to require the prosecution to present its
evidence. There was nothing in the records showing the accused's opposition
to the provisional dismissal nor was there any after the Order of provisional
dismissal was issued. She cannot claim now that the dismissal was with
prejudice. Thus, if a criminal case is provisionally dismissed with the express
consent of the accused, as in this case, the case may be revived by the State
within the periods provided under the 2nd paragraph of Section 8, Rule 117
of the Rules of Criminal Procedure. There is no violation of due process as
long as the revival of a provisionally dismissed complaint was made within
the time-bar provided under the law.
Generally, the prosecutor should have been the one who filed the
motion to revive because it is the prosecutor who controls the trial. But in
this particular case, the defect, if there was any, was cured when the public
prosecutor later actively participated in the denial of the accused's motion
for reconsideration when she filed her Comment/Objection thereto. In the
Order denying the motion, the trial court stated that "in her
Comment/Objection, the Public Prosecutor begged to disagree primarily on
the ground that double jeopardy has not set in, because the provisional
dismissal of the case was with the express consent of the accused."14 The
court even went further when it stated that "although the Motion to Re-open
the case was filed by the witness without securing the conformity of the
Public Prosecutor, in effect, the prosecutor has conformed to the re-opening
of the case because she (the prosecutor) finds that the failure of the witness
to appear on two (2) hearings was due to the death of the father in law on
March 23, 2013 and the death of his aunt on May 12, 2013, as substantiated
by the respective Certificates of Death of the said relatives."15
Moreover, in the case at bar, it must be noted that the accused is
charged with a public crime, hence, it is a victim-less crime. Unlike in private
crimes where the participation of the private offended party is generally
required for the recovery of civil liability, in the instant case, there is no
particular private offended party who can actually file the motion to revive.
Hence, in some instances, as in this case, it is the arresting officer, PO2
Villas, who filed the motion to revive the case out of his sense of duty as a

police officer and compelled by his sense of obligation considering that he


knew his absence was the cause why the complaint was provisionally
dismissed.
We could not entirely blame PO2 Villas in filing the motion to revive
since we are aware that in drug-related cases, the arresting officers are
usually required to explain by their superiors when a case is provisionally
dismissed due to their failure to appear during trial. Thus, in order to
exonerate themselves from a possible administrative and criminal
liability, the arresting officers would then opt instead to file the motion to
revive on their own.
The provisional dismissal of the case does
not operate as an acquittal since its
dismissal was made with the express consent
of the accused, thus, there is no double
jeopardy.
Further, the proscription against double jeopardy presupposes that an
accused has been previously charged with an offense, and the case against
him is terminated either by his acquittal or conviction, or dismissed in any
other manner without his consent. As a general rule, the following requisites
must be present for double jeopardy to attach: (1) a valid indictment, (2)
before a court of competent jurisdiction,(3) the arraignment of the accused,
(4) a valid plea entered by him, and (5) the acquittal or conviction of the
accused, or the dismissal or termination of the case against him without his
express consent. However, there are two (2) exceptions to the foregoing rule,
and double jeopardy may attach even if the dismissal of the case was with
the consent of the accused: first, when there is insufficiency of evidence to
support the charge against him; and second, where there has been an
unreasonable delay in the proceedings, in violation of the accuseds right to
speedy trial.16
In the instant case, while the first four requisites are present, the last
requisite is lacking, considering that here the dismissal was merely
provisional and it was done with the express consent of the accusedpetitioner. Petitioner is not in danger of being twice put in jeopardy with the
reopening of the case against her as it is clear that the case was only
provisionally dismissed by the trial court. The requirement that the dismissal
of the case must be without the consent of the accused is not present in this
case. Neither does the case fall under any of the aforementioned exceptions
because, in fact, the prosecution had failed to continue the presentation of
evidence due to the absence of the witnesses, thus, the fact of insufficiency
of evidence cannot be established. Likewise, we find no unreasonable delay
in the proceedings that would be tantamount to violation of the accused's
right to speedy trial.

This Court has emphasized that "speedy trial is a relative term and
necessarily a flexible concept." In determining whether the accused's right to
speedy trial was violated, the delay should be considered in view of the
entirety of the proceedings. The factors to balance are the following: (a)
duration of the delay; (b) reason therefor; (c) assertion of the right or failure
to assert it; and (d) prejudice caused by such delay. In the instant case,
petitioner failed to show any evidence that the alleged delay in the trial was
attended with malice or that the same was made without good cause or
justifiable motive on the part of the prosecution. Mere mathematical
reckoning of the time involved would not suffice as the realities of everyday
life must be regarded in judicial proceedings.17
Here, the delay in the proceedings, which ran from October 25, 2012
until the provisional dismissal of the case on May 13, 2013, is not the kind of
delay contemplated under the law as to violate the accused's right to speedy
trial. More so, when the cause of the delay is valid, as in the instant case.
Likewise, a perusal of the Order dated May 16, 2013would show that the
order was categorical in stating that the dismissal of the complaint was
provisional with the express consent of the accused and her counsel. The
court merely stated in the Order as to what transpired during the
proceedings of the case and not that the dismissal was based on the
accused's right to speedy trial.
While the Court recognizes the accused's right to speedy trial and
adheres to a policy of speedy administration of justice, we cannot, however,
deprive the State of a reasonable opportunity to fairly prosecute criminals.
We reiterate that unjustified postponements which prolong the trial for an
unreasonable length of time are what offend the right of the accused to
speedy trial.18
In a petition for certiorari under Rule 65,
petitioner should establish that the court or
tribunal acted in a capricious, whimsical,
arbitrary or despotic manner in the exercise
of its jurisdiction as to be equivalent to lack
of jurisdiction.
In view of the foregoing, we, thus, find no basis for issuing the
extraordinary writs of certiorari with injunction, as there was no showing that
the alleged error in judgment was tainted with grave abuse of discretion.
Nowhere in the petition did petitioner show that the issuance of the assailed
orders was patent and gross that would warrant striking it down through a
petition for certiorari. No argument was shown that the trial court exercised
its judgment capriciously, whimsically, arbitrarily or despotically by reason of
passion and hostility.
It is well settled that a petition for certiorari against a court which has
jurisdiction over a case will prosper only if grave abuse of discretion is
manifested.1wphi1 The burden is on the part of the petitioner to prove not

merely reversible error, but grave abuse of discretion amounting to lack or


excess of jurisdiction on the part of the public respondent issuing the
impugned order. Mere abuse of discretion is not enough; it must be grave.
The term grave abuse of discretion is defined as a capricious and whimsical
exercise of judgment as patent and gross as to amount to an evasion of a
positive duty or a virtual refusal to perform a duty enjoined by law, as where
the power is exercised in an arbitrary and despotic manner because of
passion or hostility.19 Certiorari will issue only to correct errors of
jurisdiction, and not errors or mistakes in the findings and conclusions of the
trial court.
WHEREFORE, the petition is DENIED for lack of merit. The Orders dated
June 14, 2013 and February 18, 2014 in Criminal Cases Nos. Q-11-173055
and Q-11-173056 entitled People of the Philippines v. Roberta Saldariega are
AFFIRMED. Let the case be remanded to the lower court for further
proceedings with dispatch.
SO ORDERED.
DIOSDADO M. PERALTA
Associate Justice
WE CONCUR:
PRESBITERO J. VELASCO, JR.
Associate Justice
Chairperson
JOSE CATRAL MENDOZA*
Associate Justice BIENVENIDO L. REYES
Associate Justice
MARVIC M.V.F. LEONEN**
Associate Justice
ATTESTATION
I attest that the conclusions in the above Decision had been reached in
consultation before the case was assigned to the writer of the opinion of the
Court's Division.
PRESBITERO J. VELASCO, JR.
Associate Justice
Chairperson, Third Division
CERTIFICATION
Pursuant to Section 13, Article VIII of the Constitution and the Division
Chairperson's Attestation, I certify that the conclusions in the above Decision

had been reached in consultation before the case was assigned to the writer
of the opinion of the Court's Division.
MARIA LOURDES P.A. SERENO
Chief Justice

Footnotes
* Designated additional Member, in lieu of Associate Justice Martin S.
Villarama, Jr., per Special Order No. 1966 dated March 30, 2015.
** Designated Acting Member, in lieu of Associate Justice Francis H.
Jardeleza, per Raffle dated October 20, 2014.
1 Rollo, pp. 3-20.
2 Id. at 21-24.
3 Id. at 26-27.
4 Id. at 29-30.
5 Id. at 29.
6 Id. at 31-32.
7 Id. at 33.
8 Id. at 34-39.
9 Id. at 40-42.
10 Id. at 46.
11 Id. at 64-72.
12 Now an Associate Justice of the Supreme Court.
13 Macapagal v. People, G.R. No. 193217, February 26, 2014, 717 SCRA
425, 430-431.
14 Rollo at 40-41
15 Id.
16 Condrada v. People, 446 Phil. 635, 641-642 (2003).

17 William Co v. New Prosperity Plastic Products, G.R. No. 183994, June


30, 2014.
18 People v. Rama, 403 Phil. 155, 168 (2001).
19 Tan v. Spouses Antazo, 659 Phil. 400, 404 (2011).

The Lawphil Project - Arellano Law Foundation

SECOND DIVISION

CAPT. WILFREDO G. ROQUERO,


Petitioner,

- versus -

THE CHANCELLOR OF UP-MANILA; THE ADMINISTRATIVE DISCIPLINARY


TRIBUNAL (ADT) OF UP-MANILA; ATTY. ZALDY B. DOCENA; EDEN PERDIDO;
ISABELLA LARA, IN THEIR CAPACITIES AS CHAIRMAN and MEMBERS OF THE
ADT; and IMELDA O. ABUTAL,
Respondents.

G.R. No. 181851

Present:
CARPIO, J.,
Chairperson,
BRION,
DEL CASTILLO,
ABAD, and
PEREZ, JJ.

Promulgated:

March 9, 2010
x---------------------------------------------------- - - - - - - -x

DECISION

PEREZ, J.:

This is a petition for review on certiorari under Rule 45 seeking to set


aside the Decision[1] dated 22 March 2007, and the Resolution[2] dated 1
February 2008, of the Court of the Appeals in CA-G.R. SP No. 87776 entitled,
Capt. Wilfredo G. Roquero v. The Chancellor of the University of the
Philippine-Manila (UP Manila), et al., a petition for Certiorari under Rule 65 of
the Rules of Civil Procedure with Prayer for the Issuance of a Temporary
Restraining Order (TRO), which sought to reverse and set aside the Orders
dated 8 June 2004[3] and 9 November 2004[4] of the Administrative
Disciplinary Tribunal (ADT) of UP-Manila, chaired by Atty. Zaldy B. Docena
with Eden Perdido and Isabella Lara as members.
The undisputed facts of the case as found by the Court of Appeals are
as follows:
Petitioner Wildredo G. Roquero is an employee of UP-Manila assigned at
the Philippine General Hospital (PGH) Security Division as Special Police
Captain. Private respondent Imelda O. Abutal is a Lady Guard of Ex-Bataan
Security Agency who was applying for a position in the security force
assigned at UP-PGH.
The instant controversy arose from a complaint by private respondent
Abutal with then Chancellor of UP-Manila Perla D. Santos-Ocampo for Grave
Misconduct against petitioner Capt. Roquero. The formal charge filed on 1
October 1998 and docketed as ADM Case No. UPM-AC 97-007 reads as
follows:
After preliminary investigation duly conducted in accordance with the
Rules and Regulations on the Discipline of UP Faculty and Employees, a
prima facie case has been found to exist against you for GRAVE
MISCONDUCT punishable under the University Rules and Regulations on the
Discipline of UP Faculty and Employees in relation to the Civil Service Law,
committed as follows:
That you, Capt. Wilfredo Roquero of the UP Manila Police Force,
sometime in April 1996, while conducting an interview on MS. IMELDA
ABUTAL who was then applying for the position of Lady Guard of Ex-Bataan
Security Agency to be assigned at UP-PGH, proposed to her that if she
agreed to be your mistress, you would facilitate her application and give her
a permanent position; that despite the fact the MS. ABUTAL rejected your
proposal, you still insisted on demanding said sexual favor from her; that
you, therefore, are liable for GRAVE MISCONDUCT under Section 22,
paragraph (c) of Rule XIV of the Omnibus Rules Implementing Book V of E.O.
292 on Civil Rules.

x x x x.
On 1 October 1998, the petitioner was placed under preventive
suspension for ninety (90) days by Chancellor Santos-Ocampo, the material
portion of said Order reads:
Considering the gravity of the offense charged and pursuant to Section
19 of Rules and Regulations on the Discipline of UP Faculty Members and
Employees and Section 26 and 27 Rule XIV of Book V of Executive Order No.
292 and Omnibus Rules, you are hereby preventively suspended for ninety
(90) days effective upon receipt hereof.
While on preventive suspension, you are hereby required to appear
before the Administrative Disciplinary Tribunal (ADT) whenever your
presence is necessary.
Thereafter, the Administrative Disciplinary Tribunal (ADT) composed of
Atty. Zaldy B. Docena, Eden Perdido and Isabella Lara, was organized to hear
the instant case. Atty. Paul A. Flor, as University Prosecutor, represented the
prosecution. He was later on replaced by Atty. Asteria Felicen. Petitioner was
represented by Atty. Leo G. Lee of the Public Attorneys Office (PAO) who was
then replaced by Public Attorney Philger Inovejas.
The Prosecution presented its only witness, private respondent Abutal.
After the completion of the cross-examination on the prosecutions only
witness, the prosecution agreed to submit its Formal Offer of Evidence on or
before 16 July 1999.
xxxx
The prosecution, however, failed to submit its formal offer of evidence
within the period agreed upon.
Thereafter, on 10 August 1999, when the case was called, only
petitioner and his counsel appeared. Atty. Flor merely called by telephone
and requested Atty. Docena to reset the case to another date. Atty. Docena
then ordered the resetting of the hearing on the following dates: 11 August
and 21 August 1999. On 11 August 1999, only petitioner and his counsel
came. No representative from the prosecution appeared before the ADT. Atty.
Flor again called and asked for the postponement of the hearing. By reason
thereof, Atty. Docena issued an Order, which reads as follows:
The continuation of the hearing of this case is hereby set to September
29, 1999 at 2:00 p.m., with the understanding that if and when the parties
fail to appear at said hearing date, this case shall be deemed submitted for
resolution based on the evidences already obtaining in the record of the
case.

SO ORDERED.
11 August 1999.
On said date, the representative from the prosecution again failed to
appear.
On 22 October 1999, petitioner filed a Motion through counsel praying
that complainant (private respondent herein) be declared to have waived her
rights to formally offer her exhibits since complainant was not able to file her
Formal Offer within the given period of fifteen (15) days from 1 July 1999 or
up to 16 July 1999.
The ADT was not able to act on the said Motion for almost five (5)
years. Due to the unreasonable delay, petitioner, on 19 May 2004 filed
another Motion asking for the dismissal of the administrative case against
him. The Motion to Dismiss was anchored on the following reasons: that the
prosecution had not formally offered its evidence; that the ADT had failed to
act on the motion filed on 22 October 1999; that the unfounded charges in
the administrative complaint were filed just to harass him; and that he is
entitled to a just and speedy disposition of the case.
On 26 May 2004, the prosecution, represented by Atty. Felicen in view
of the resignation of Atty. Flor in August 1999, filed its Comment/Opposition
to the Motion to Dismiss. The prosecution alleged that a Formal Offer of
Documentary Exhibits had been filed on 24 January 2004, of which a copy
thereof was received by Atty. Lee, petitioners counsel, on 30 January 2004,
per registry return receipt. However, petitioner has not filed his comment to
the said Formal Offer.
Furthermore, the prosecution explained in its Comment/Opposition that
in view of the resignation of Atty. Flor in August 1999 but who had been on
leave by mid-July 1999, the Formal Offer could not be prepared by another
counsel until all the transcript of stenographic notes have been furnished to
the counsel that replaced Atty. Flor. Meanwhile, the stenographer, Jamie
Limbaga, had been in and out of the hospital due to a serious illness, thus
the delay in the filing of the prosecutors Formal Offer of Documentary
Exhibits.
On 8 June 2004, Atty. Docena issued the assailed Order denying
petitioners motion to dismiss, to wit:
Acting on respondents Motion to Dismiss, as well as the University
Prosecutors Comment and/or Opposition to said Motion, and finding that said
Motion to Dismiss to be bereft of merit, the same is hereby DENIED.
In view of the failure of the respondent to file his comment on the
Prosecutions Formal Offer of Evidence, the Exhibits (A to G-1) of the

Prosecution are hereby ADMITTED for the purpose for which the same have
been offered.
The respondent is hereby directed to present his evidence on June 22,
2004 at 10:30 in the morning.
SO ORDERED.
A motion for reconsideration was filed by petitioner but the same was
denied in an Order dated 9 November 2004.[5]

Petitioner Captain Wilfredo Roquero then filed with the Court of Appeals
a Petition for Certiorari under Rule 65, docketed as CA-G.R. SP No. 87776,
alleging therein that the ADT committed grave abuse of discretion when it
denied the motion to dismiss the administrative case filed against him.
In a Decision dated 22 March 2007, the Honorable Court of Appeals
denied the petition with prayer for TRO of Roquero reasoning that the ADT
did not commit grave abuse of discretion in issuing the assailed orders.
The Court of Appeals ruled, thus:
The main issue to be resolved is whether the ADT gravely abused its
discretion amounting to lack or excess of jurisdiction when it issued the
Order denying petitioners motion to dismiss the administrative case filed
against him.
We rule in the negative.
Petitioner argues that the administrative case against him should be
dismissed because of the failure of the prosecution to file its Formal Offer of
Evidence within the agreed period.
We do not agree.
The appropriate rule in this case is Section 27 of the Uniform Rules on
Administrative Cases in the Civil Service, which provides, to wit:
When the presentation of evidence has been concluded, the parties
shall formally offer their evidence either orally or in writing and thereafter
objections thereto may also be made either orally or in writing. After which,
both parties may be given time to submit their respective memorandum
which in no case shall [be] beyond five (5) days after the termination of the
investigation. Failure to submit the same within the given period shall be
considered a waiver thereof.
The failure to file a formal offer of evidence amounts to no more than a
waiver of the right to file the same. In administrative cases, particularly,
where the Uniform Rules on Administrative Cases in the Civil Service applies,

the absence of a formal offer of evidence does not bar the adverse party
from presenting its evidence.
Section 3 of the Uniform Rules on Administrative Cases in the Civil
Service provides:
Administrative investigations shall be conducted without necessarily
adhering strictly to the technical rules of procedure and evidence applicable
to judicial proceedings.
While under the Rules of Court, a formal offer may be indispensable
because the rules on evidence so require it, the same is not true in
administrative cases. There is no provision in the Uniform Rules on
Administrative Cases in the Civil Service akin to Section 34, Rule 132 of the
Rules of Court.
Furthermore, Section 27 of the Uniform Rules states that the failure to
file a formal offer of evidence amounts to a mere waiver thereof, and not a
dismissal of the action. As such, petitioner cannot claim a vested right to a
dismissal of his case below just because a formal offer was not filed within
the agreed period.
In addition thereto, the Uniform Rules give the hearing officer a leeway
when it provided that x x x the hearing officer shall accept all evidence
deemed material and relevant to the case. In case of doubt, he shall allow
the admission of evidence subject to the objection interposed against its
admission.
In the case at bar, records show that in fact, a formal offer of evidence
was filed by the prosecution, a copy of which was received by petitioners
counsel. The action of the ADT in admitting the prosecutions exhibits was
consistent with the above-mentioned Rules. Thus, the tribunal acted within
the bounds of its authority.
Grave abuse of discretion implies such capricious and whimsical
exercise of judgment as is equivalent to lack of jurisdiction, or in other words,
where the power is exercised in an arbitrary or despotic manner by reason of
passion, prejudice, or personal hostility, and it must be so patent and gross
as to amount to an evasion of a positive duty or to a virtual refusal to
perform the duty enjoined or to act at all in contemplation of law.
To reiterate, the admission of the exhibits for the prosecution is in
accordance with Section 3, 27, and 28 of the Uniform Rules on Administrative
Cases in the Civil Service. In admitting the exhibits for the prosecution,
petitioner was not denied the opportunity to present his evidence. In fact, he
could have presented his evidence as early as 11 August 1999 but he did not
do so.

WHEREFORE, for utter lack of merit, the instant petition with prayer for
temporary restraining order is hereby DENIED.[6]

Roquero moved for reconsideration of the Decision, but the same was
likewise denied by the Court of Appeals in its Resolution promulgated on 1
February 2008.
Roquero is now before us seeking the reversal of the decision and
resolution of the Court of Appeals.
The core issue of this case is whether the failure of the ADT to resolve
Roqueros Motion (to declare complainant Imelda Abutal to have waived her
right to submit her Formal Offer of Exhibit) which he seasonably filed on 22
October 1999 and the assailed Order of the ADT dated 8 June 2004 admitting
the Formal Offer of Exhibit of complainant Imelda Abutal despite having filed
after almost five years violated the constitutional right of Roquero to a
speedy disposition of cases.
We find merit in the petition.
The Court of Appeals faulted petitioner for his failure to present his
own evidence which he could have done as early as 11 August 1999.[7] It
must be noted, however, that petitioners 22 October 1999 motion to declare
complainant to have waived her right to submit her Formal Offer of Exhibit
remained unresolved. This is reason enough for Roquero to defer
presentation of his own evidence.
Indeed, while Section 27 of the Uniform Rules on Administrative Cases
in Civil Service states that the failure to submit the formal offer of evidence
within the given period shall be considered as waiver thereof, the ADT in fact
allowed the prosecution to present its formal offer almost five (5) years later
or on 24 January 2004. Starting on that date, petitioner was presented with
the choice to either present his evidence or to, as he did, file a motion to
dismiss owing to the extraordinary length of time that ADT failed to rule on
his motion.
We cannot accept the finding of the Court of Appeals that there was no
grave abuse of discretion on the part of the ADT because a formal offer of
evidence was filed by the prosecution, a copy of which was received by
petitioners counsel.[8] The admission by ADT on 8 June 2004 of the formal
offer of exhibits belatedly filed did not cure the 5-year delay in the resolution
of petitioners 1999 motion to deem as waived such formal offer of evidence.
Indeed, the delay of almost five (5) years cannot be justified.
The prosecution tried to explain in its Comment/Opposition dated 26
May 2004, that the resignation of Atty. Paul Flor in August 1999, who had by
then already been on leave since mid-July 1999, contributed to the delay of
the filing of the formal offer and that the formal offer could not be prepared
by another counsel until all the transcripts of stenographic notes had been

given to him. Also, it was pointed out that the stenographer, Jaime Limbaga,
had been in and out of the hospital due to a serious illness.[9]
The ADT admitted this explanation of the prosecutor hook, line and
sinker without asking why it took him almost five (5) years to make that
explanation. If the excuses were true, the prosecution could have easily
manifested with the ADT of its predicament right after Roquero filed his
motion to declare the waiver of the formal offer. It is evident too that the
prosecution failed to explain why it took them so long a time to find a
replacement for the original prosecutor. And, the stenographer who had been
in and out of the hospital due to serious illness should have been replaced
sooner.
While it is true that administrative investigations should not be bound
by strict adherence to the technical rules of procedure and evidence
applicable to judicial proceedings,[10] the same however should not violate
the constitutional right of respondents to a speedy disposition of cases.
Section 16, Article III of the 1987 Constitution provides:
Section 16. All person shall have the right to a speedy disposition of
their cases before all judicial, quasi-judicial, or administrative bodies.
The constitutional right to a speedy disposition of cases is not limited
to the accused in criminal proceedings but extends to all parties in all cases,
including civil and administrative cases, and in all proceedings, including
judicial and quasi-judicial hearings. Hence, under the Constitution, any party
to a case may demand expeditious action by all officials who are tasked with
the administration of justice.[11]
The right to a speedy disposition of a case, like the right to a speedy
trial, is deemed violated only when the proceedings are attended by
vexatious, capricious, and oppressive delays; or when unjustified
postponements of the trial are asked for and secured; or even without cause
or justifiable motive, a long period of time is allowed to elapse without the
party having his case tried. Equally applicable is the balancing test used to
determine whether a defendant has been denied his right to a speedy trial,
or a speedy disposition of a case for that matter, in which the conduct of
both the prosecution and the defendant is weighed, and such factors as the
length of the delay, the reasons for such delay, the assertion or failure to
assert such right by the accused, and the prejudice caused by the delay. The
concept of a speedy disposition is a relative term and must necessarily be a
flexible concept.[12]
Hence, the doctrinal rule is that in the determination of whether that
right has been violated, the factors that may be considered and balanced are
as follows: (1) the length of delay; (2) the reasons for the delay; (3) the
assertion or failure to assert such right by the accused; and (4) the prejudice
caused by the delay.[13]

Applying the doctrinal ruling vis-a-vis the factual milieu of this case,
the violation of the right to a speedy disposition of the case against
petitioner is clear for the following reasons: (1) the delay of almost five (5)
years on the part of ADT in resolving the motion of petitioner, which
resolution petitioner reasonably found necessary before he could present his
defense; (2) the unreasonableness of the delay; and (3) the timely assertions
by petitioner of the right to an early disposition which he did through a
motion to dismiss. Over and above this, the delay was prejudicial to
petitioners cause as he was under preventive suspension for ninety (90)
days, and during the interregnum of almost five years, the trial of the
accusation against him remained stagnant at the prosecution stage.
The Constitutional guarantee against unreasonable delay in the
disposition of cases was intended to stem the tide of disenchantment among
the people in the administration of justice by our judicial and quasi-judicial
tribunals.[14] The adjudication of cases must not only be done in an orderly
manner that is in accord with the established rules of procedure but must
also be promptly decided to better serve the ends of justice. Excessive delay
in the disposition of cases renders the rights of the people guaranteed by the
Constitution and by various legislations inutile.[15]
WHEREFORE, the Petition is hereby GRANTED. The assailed Decision
dated 22 March 2007 and Resolution dated 1 February 2008 of the Court of
Appeals in CA-G.R. SP No. 87776 are hereby REVERSED and SET ASIDE. The
Administrative Disciplinary Tribunal (ADT) of the University of the PhilippinesManila, Atty. Zaldy B. Docena, Eden Perdido and Isabella Lara, in their
capacities as Chairman and Members of the ADT respectively, are hereby
ORDERED to DISMISS the administrative case against Capt. Wilfredo G.
Roquero for violation of his constitutional right to a speedy disposition of
cases.

SO ORDERED.

JOSE PORTUGAL PEREZ


Associate Justice

WE CONCUR:

ANTONIO T. CARPIO

Associate Justice
Chairperson

ARTURO D. BRION MARIANO C. DEL CASTILLO


Associate Justice Associate Justice

ROBERTO A. ABAD
Associate Justice

ATTESTATION
I attest that the conclusions in the above Decision were reached in
consultation before the case was assigned to the writer of the opinion of the
Courts Division.

ANTONIO T. CARPIO
Associate Justice
Chairperson, Second Division
CERTIFICATION
Pursuant to Section 13, Article VIII of the Constitution, and the Division
Chairpersons Attestation, it is hereby certified that the conclusions in the
above Decision were reached in consultation before the case was assigned to
the writer of the opinion of the Courts Division.

REYNATO S. PUNO
Chief Justice
[1] Penned by Associate Justice Monina Arevalo Zearosa, with Associate
Justices Marina L. Buzon and Edgardo F. Sundiam concurring. Rollo, pp. 1727.
[2] Id. at 29-30.
[3] CA rollo, p. 18.
[4] Id. at 21.
[5] Id. at 18-23.
[6] Id. at 23-26.
[7] Rollo, p. 26.

[8] Id. at 25.


[9] Id. at 22.
[10] Section 3 of the Uniform Rules on Administrative Cases in Civil
Service.
[11] Lopez, Jr. v. Office of the Ombudsman, 417 Phil. 39, 49 (2001)
citing Cadalin v. POEAs Administrator, G.R. No. 104776, 5 December 1994,
238 SCRA 721, 765.
[12] Binay v. Sandiganbayan, G.R. Nos. 120681-83, 1 October 1999,
316 SCRA 65, 95.
[13] Dela Pea v. Sandiganbayan, 412 Phil. 921, 929 (2001) citing Alvizo
v. Sandiganbayan, G.R. No. 101689, 17 March 1993, 220 SCRA 55, 63.
[14] CRUZ, Constitutional Law, 2007 Ed., p. 295.
[15] Matias v. Plan, A.M. No. MTJ-98-1159, 3 August 1998, 293 SCRA
532, 538-539.

Speedy trial; inordinate/oppressive delay by Ombudsman.


Upon its finding that the Office of the Ombudsman had incurred
inordinate delay in resolving the complaint Cong. Jimenez had brought
against the respondents, the Sandiganbayan dismissed Criminal Case No.
SB-08-CRM-0266 ma inly to uphold their constitutional right to the speedy
disposition of their case.
But now comes the State contending that the delay in the resolution of
the case against the respondents was neither inordinate nor solely
attributable to the Office of the Ombudsman. Citing Mendoza-Ong v.
Sandiganbayan, 87 in which the Court held that speedy disposition of cases
was also consistent with reasonable delays, the State supported its
contention by listing the various incidents that had caused the delay in the
investigation, and then laying part of the blame on the respondents
themselves.
The right to the speedy disposition of cases is enshrined in Article III of
the Constitution, which declares:
Section 16. All persons shall have the right to a speedy disposition of
their cases before all judicial, quasi-judicial, or administrative bodies.
The constitutional right to a speedy disposition of cases is not limited
to the accused in criminal proceedings but extends to all parties in all cases,
including civil and administrative cases, and in all proceedings, including
judicial and quasi-judicial hearings.88 While the concept of speedy
disposition is relative or flexible, such that a mere mathematical reckoning of
the time involved is not sufficient,89 the right to the speedy disposition of a
case, like the right to speedy trial, is deemed violated when the proceedings
are attended by vexatious, capricious, and oppressive delays; or when
unjustified postponements of the trial are asked for and secured; or when
without cause or justifiable motive a long period of time is allowed to elapse
without the party having his case tried.90
According to Angchonco, Jr. v. Ombudsman,91 inordinate delay in
resolving a criminal complaint, being violative of the constitutionally
guaranteed right to due process and to the speedy disposition of cases,
warrants the dismissal of the criminal case.92
Was the delay on the part of the Office of the Ombudsman vexatious,
capricious, and oppressive?
We answer in the affirmative.
The acts of the respondents that the Office of the Ombudsman
investigated had supposedly occurred in the period from February 13, 2001
to February 23, 2001. Yet, the criminal complaint came to be initiated only on
November 25, 2002 when Ombudsman Marcelo equested PAGC to provide
his office with the documents relevant to the expose of Cong. Villarama.

Subsequently, on December 23, 2002, Cong. Jimenez submitted his


complaint-affidavit to the Office of the Ombudsman. It was only on
November 6, 2006, however, when the Special Panel created to investigate
Cong. Jimenez's criminal complaint issued the Joint Resolution recommending
that the criminal informations be filed against the respondents. Ombudsman
Gutierrez approved the Joint Resolution only on January 5, 2007.93 The
Special Panel issued the second Joint Resolution denying the respondents'
motion for reconsideration on January 25, 2008, and Ombudsman Gutierrez
approved this resolution only on April 15, 2008.
Ultimately, the informations charging the respondents with four
different crimes based on the complaint of Cong. Jimenez were all filed on
April 15, 2008, thereby leading to the commencement of Criminal Case No.
SB-08-CRM-0265 and Criminal Case No. SB-08-CRM-0266. In sum, the factfinding investigation and preliminary investigation by the Office of the
Ombudsman lasted nearly five years and five months.
It is clear from the foregoing that the Office of the Ombudsman had
taken an unusually long period of time just to investigate the criminal
complaint and to determine whether to criminally charge the respondents in
the Sandiganbayan. Such long delay was inordinate and oppressive, and
constituted under the peculiar circumstances of the case an outright
violation of the respondents' right under the Constitution to the speedy
disposition of their cases. If, in Tatad v. Sandiganbayan,94 the Court ruled
that a delay of almost three years in the conduct of the preliminary
investigation constituted a violation of the constitutional rights of the
accused to due process and to the speedy disposition of his case, taking into
account the following, namely: (a) the complaint had been resurrected only
after the accused had a falling out with former President Marcos, indicating
that political motivations had played a vital role in activating and propelling
the prosecutorial process; ( b) the Tanodbayan had blatantly departed from
the established procedure prescribed by law for the conduct of preliminary
investigation; and ( c) the simple factual and legal issues involved did not
justify the delay, there is a greater reason for us to hold so in the
respondents' case.
To emphasize, it is incumbent for the State to prove that the delay was
reasonable, or that the delay was not attributable to it. In both regards, the
State miserably failed.
For one, the State explains that the criminal cases could not be
immediately filed in court primarily because of the insufficiency of the
evidence to establish probable cause, like not having a document showing
that the funds (worth US$1,999,965.00 as averred in the complaint of Cong.
Jimenez) had reached Secretary Perez;95 and that it could not obtain the
document, and to enable it to obtain the document and other evidence it
needed to await the ratification of the Agreement Concerning Mutual Legal
Assistance in Criminal Matters with the Hongkong Special Administrative
Region (RP-HKSAR Agreement),96 and the Treaty on Mutual Legal Assistance

in Criminal Matters between the Republic of the Philippines and the Swiss
Confederation (RP-Swiss MLAT).97
To us, however, the State's dependence on the ratification of the two
treaties was not a sufficient justification for the delay. The fact-finding
investigation had extended from January 15, 2003, when Ombudsman
Marcelo approved the recommendation of the Special Panel and referred the
complaint of Cong. Jimenez for fact-finding investigation, until November 14,
2005, when the FIO completed its fact-finding investigation. That period
accounted for a total of two years and 10 months. In addition, the FIO
submitted its report only on November 14, 2005, which was after the
Department of Justice had received on September 8, 2005 the letter from
Wayne Walsh, the Deputy Government Counsel of the Hongkong Special
Administrative Region in response to the request for assistance dated June
23, 2005,98 and the reply of the Office of Justice of Switzerland dated
February 10, 2005 and a subsequent letter dated February 21, 2005 from
Liza Favre, the Ambassador of Switzerland, to Atty. Melchor Arthur
Carandang, Acting Assistant Ombudsman, FIO, together with documents
pertaining to the bank accounts relevant to the investigation.99 For the
Office of the Ombudsman to mark time until the HKSAR Agreement and the
Swiss-RP MLAT were ratified by the Senate before it would proceed with the
preliminary investigation was oppressive, capricious and vexatious, because
the respondents were thereby subjected to a long and unfair delay.
We should frown on the reason for the inordinate delay because the
State would thereby deliberately gain an advantage over the respondents
during the preliminary investigation. At no time should the progress and
success of the preliminary investigation of a criminal case be made
dependent upon the ratification of a treaty by the Senate that would provide
to the prosecutorial arm of the State, already powerful and overwhelming in
terms of its resources, an undue advantage unavailable at the time of the
investigation. To allow the delay under those terms would definitely violate
fair play and nullify due process of law - fair play, because the field of contest
between the accuser and the accused should at all times be level; and due
process of law, because no less that our Constitution guarantees the speedy
disposition of the case.
The State further argues that the fact-finding investigation should not
be considered a part of the preliminary investigation because the former was
only preparatory in relation to the latter; 100 and that the period spent in the
former should not be factored in the computation of the period devoted to
the preliminary investigation.
The argument cannot pass fair scrutiny.
The guarantee of speedy disposition under Section 16 of Article III of
the Constitution applies to all cases pending before all judicial, quasijudicial
or administrative bodies. The guarantee would be defeated or rendered
inutile if the hair-splitting distinction by the State is accepted.

Whether or not the fact-finding investigation was separate from the


preliminary investigation conducted by the Office of the Ombudsman should
not matter for purposes of determining if the respondents' right to the
speedy disposition of their cases had been violated.
There was really no sufficient justification tendered by the State for the
long delay of more than five years in bringing the charges against the
respondents before the proper court. On the charge of robbery under Article
293 in relation to Article 294 of the Revised Penal Code, the preliminary
investigation would not require more than five years to ascertain the relevant
factual and legal matters. The basic elements of the offense, that is, the
intimidation or pressure allegedly exerted on Cong. Jimenez, the manner by
which the money extorted had been delivered, and the respondents had
been identified as the perpetrators, had been adequately bared before the
Office of the Ombudsman. The obtention of the bank documents was not
indispensable to establish probable cause to charge them with the offense.
We thus agree with the following observation of the Sandiganbayan, viz:
With the Ombudsman's finding that the extortion (intimidation) was
perpetrated on February 13, 2001 and that there was transfer of Mark
Jimenez US $1,999,965.00 to Coutts Bank Account HO 133706 on February
23, 2001 in favor of the accused, there is no reason why within a reasonable
period from these dates, the complaint should not be resolved. The act of
intimidation was there, the asportation was complete as of February 23,
2001 why was the information filed only on April 18, 2008.
For such a simple charge of Robbery there is nothing more to consider
and all the facts and circumstances upon which to anchor a resolution
whether to give due course to the complaint or dismiss it are on hand. The
case is more than ripe for resolution. Failure to act on the same is a clear
transgression of the constitutional rights of the accused. A healthy respect
for the constitutional prerogative of the accused should have prodded the
Ombudsman to act within reasonable time. 101
In fine, the Office of the Ombudsman transgressed the respondents'
right to due process as well as their right to the speedy disposition of their
case.
WHEREFORE, the Court DISMISSES the petitions for certiorari for their
lack of merit. X x x.
See People vs. Sandiganbayan, et. al., GR 189063, Dec. 11. 2013.

SECOND DIVISION
G.R. No. 191411, July 15, 2013
RAFAEL L. COSCOLLUELA, Petitioner, v. SANDIGANBAYAN
DIVISION) AND PEOPLE OF THE PHILIPPINES, Respondents.

(FIRST

RESOLUTION
[G.R. NO. 191871]
RESOLUTION
EDWIN N. NACIONALES, ERNESTO P. MALVAS, AND JOSE MA. G.
AMUGOD, Petitioners, v. SANDIGANBAYAN (FIRST DIVISION) AND PEOPLE OF
THE PHILIPPINES, REPRESENTED BY THE OFFICE OF THE SPECIAL
PROSECUTOR, OFFICE OF THE OMBUDSMAN, Respondents.
DECISION
PERLAS-BERNABE, J.:
Assailed in these consolidated Petitions for Certiorari1 are the October
6, 20092 and February 10, 20103 Resolutions of public respondent First
Division of Sandiganbayan (SB), denying the Motion to Quash4 dated July 8,
2009 filed by petitioner Rafael L. Coscolluela (Coscolluela). The said motion
was adopted by petitioners Edwin N. Nacionales (Nacionales), Dr. Ernesto P.
Malvas (Malvas), and Jose Ma. G. Amugod (Amugod), praying for the
dismissal of Crim. Case No. SB-09-CRM-0154 for violation of their right to
speedy disposition of cases.
The Facts
Coscolluela served as governor of the Province of Negros Occidental
(Province) 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.5
On November 9, 2001, the Office of the Ombudsman for the Visayas
(Office of the Ombudsman) received a letter-complaint6 dated November 7,
2001 from Peoples 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 Report7 dated April 16, 2002 which upgraded the complaint

into a criminal case against petitioners.8 Consequently, petitioners filed their


respective counter-affidavits.9
On March 27, 2003, the assigned Graft Investigation Officer Butch E.
Caares (Caares) prepared a Resolution (March 27, 2003 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 Information10 was prepared and signed by Caares and
submitted to Deputy Ombudsman for the Visayas Primo C. Miro (Miro) for
recommendation. Miro recommended the approval of the Information on June
5, 2003. However, the final approval of Acting Ombudsman Orlando C.
Casimiro (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.11
On July 9, 2009, Coscolluela filed a Motion to Quash,12 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 Coscolluelas motion.
In reply, the respondents filed their Opposition to Motion to Quash13
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.14
The Ruling of the Sandiganbayan
In a Resolution15 dated October 6, 2009, the SB denied petitioners
Motion to Quash for lack of merit. It held that the preliminary investigation
against petitioners was actually resolved by Caares on March 27, 2003, one
(1) year and four (4) months from the date the complaint was filed, or in
November 9, 2001. Complying with internal procedure, Caares then
prepared the March 27, 2003 Resolution and Information for the
recommendation of the Miro and eventually, the final approval of the
Casimiro. As these issuances had to undergo careful review and revision
through the various levels of the said office, the period of delay i.e., from
March 27, 2003 to May 21, 2009, or roughly over six (6) years cannot be
deemed as inordinate16 and as such, petitioners constitutional right to
speedy disposition of cases was not violated.17
Aggrieved,
petitioners
filed
their
respective
Motions
for
Reconsideration18 dated November 9, 2009 and November 6, 2009, similarly

arguing that the SB erred in making a distinction between two time periods,
namely: (a) from the filing of the complaint up to the time Caares prepared
the resolution finding probable cause against petitioners; and (b) from the
submission of the said resolution to the Acting Ombudsman for review and
approval up to the filing of the Information with the SB. In this regard,
petitioners averred that the aforementioned periods should not be
compartmentalized and thus, treated as a single period. Accordingly, the
delay of eight (8) years of the instant case should be deemed prejudicial to
their right to speedy disposition of cases.19
The SB, however, denied the foregoing motions in its Resolution20
dated February 10, 2010 for lack of merit.
Hence, the instant petitions.
The Issue Before the Court
The sole issue raised for the Courts resolution is whether the SB
gravely abused its discretion in finding that petitioners right to speedy
disposition of cases was not violated.
The Courts Ruling
The petitions are meritorious.
A persons right to the speedy disposition of his case is guaranteed
under Section 16, Article III of the 1987 Philippine Constitution (Constitution)
which provides:cralavvonlinelawlibrary
SEC. 16. All persons shall have the right to a speedy disposition of their
cases before all judicial, quasi-judicial, or administrative bodies.
This constitutional right is not limited to the accused in criminal
proceedings but extends to all parties in all cases, be it civil or administrative
in nature, as well as all proceedings, either judicial or quasi-judicial. In this
accord, any party to a case may demand expeditious action to all officials
who are tasked with the administration of justice.21
It must be noted, however, that the right to speedy disposition of cases
should be understood to be a relative or flexible concept such that a mere
mathematical reckoning of the time involved would not be sufficient.22
Jurisprudence dictates that the right is deemed violated only when the
proceedings are attended by vexatious, capricious, and oppressive delays; or
when unjustified postponements of the trial are asked for and secured; or
even without cause or justifiable motive, a long period of time is allowed to
elapse without the party having his case tried.23
Hence, in the determination of whether the defendant has been denied
his right to a speedy disposition of a case, the following factors may be

considered and balanced: (1) the length of delay; (2) the reasons for the
delay; (3) the assertion or failure to assert such right by the accused; and (4)
the prejudice caused by the delay.24
Examining the incidents in the present case, the Court holds that
petitioners right to a speedy disposition of their criminal case had been
violated.
First, it is observed that the preliminary investigation proceedings took
a protracted amount of time to complete.
In this relation, the Court does not lend credence to the SBs position
that the conduct of preliminary investigation was terminated as early as
March 27, 2003, or the time when Caares prepared the Resolution
recommending the filing of the Information. This is belied by Section 4, Rule
II of the Administrative Order No. 07 dated April 10, 1990, otherwise known
as the Rules of Procedure of the Office of the Ombudsman, which
provides:cralavvonlinelawlibrary
SEC. 4. Procedure The preliminary investigation of cases falling under
the jurisdiction of the Sandiganbayan and Regional Trial Courts shall be
conducted in the manner prescribed in Section 3, Rule 112 of the Rules of
Court, subject to the following provisions:cralavvonlinelawlibrary
xxxx
No information may be filed and no complaint may be dismissed
without the written authority or approval of the Ombudsman in cases falling
within the jurisdiction of the Sandiganbayan, or of the proper Deputy
Ombudsman in all other cases. (Emphasis and underscoring supplied)
The above-cited provision readily reveals that there is no complete
resolution of a case under preliminary investigation until the Ombudsman
approves the investigating officers recommendation to either file an
Information with the SB or to dismiss the complaint. Therefore, in the case at
bar, the preliminary investigation proceedings against the petitioners were
not terminated upon Caares preparation of the March 27, 2003 Resolution
and Information but rather, only at the time Casimiro finally approved the
same for filing with the SB. In this regard, the proceedings were terminated
only on May 21, 2009, or almost eight (8) years after the filing of the
complaint.
Second, the above-discussed delay in the Ombudsmans resolution of
the case largely remains unjustified.
To this end, the Court equally denies the SBs ratiocination that the
delay in proceedings could be excused by the fact that the case had to
undergo careful review and revision through the different levels in the Office

of the Ombudsman before it is finally approved, in addition to the steady


stream of cases which it had to resolve.
Verily, the Office of the Ombudsman was created under the mantle of
the Constitution, mandated to be the protector of the people and as such,
required to act promptly on complaints filed in any form or manner against
officers and employees of the Government, or of any subdivision, agency or
instrumentality thereof, in order to promote efficient service.25 This great
responsibility cannot be simply brushed aside by ineptitude. Precisely, the
Office of the Ombudsman has the inherent duty not only to carefully go
through the particulars of case but also to resolve the same within the proper
length of time. Its dutiful performance should not only be gauged by the
quality of the assessment but also by the reasonable promptness of its
dispensation. Thus, barring any extraordinary complication, such as the
degree of difficulty of the questions involved in the case or any event
external thereto that effectively stymied its normal work activity any of
which have not been adequately proven by the prosecution in the case at bar
there appears to be no justifiable basis as to why the Office of the
Ombudsman could not have earlier resolved the preliminary investigation
proceedings against the petitioners.
Third, the Court deems that petitioners cannot be faulted for their
alleged failure to assert their right to speedy disposition of cases.
Records show that they could not have urged the speedy resolution of
their case because they were unaware that the investigation against them
was still on-going. They were only informed of the March 27, 2003 Resolution
and Information against them only after the lapse of six (6) long years, or
when they received a copy of the latter after its filing with the SB on June 19,
2009.26 In this regard, they could have reasonably assumed that the
proceedings against them have already been terminated. This serves as a
plausible reason as to why petitioners never followed-up on the case
altogether. Instructive on this point is the Courts observation in Duterte v.
Sandiganbayan,27 to wit:cralavvonlinelawlibrary
Petitioners in this case, however, could not have urged the speedy
resolution of their case because they were completely unaware that the
investigation against them was still on-going. Peculiar to this case, we
reiterate, is the fact that petitioners were merely asked to comment, and not
file counter-affidavits which is the proper procedure to follow in a preliminary
investigation. After giving their explanation and after four long years of being
in the dark, petitioners, naturally, had reason to assume that the charges
against them had already been dismissed.
On the other hand, the Office of the Ombudsman failed to present any
plausible, special or even novel reason which could justify the four-year delay
in terminating its investigation. Its excuse for the delay the many layers of
review that the case had to undergo and the meticulous scrutiny it had to
entail has lost its novelty and is no longer appealing, as was the

invocation in the Tatad case. The incident before us does not involve
complicated factual and legal issues, specially (sic) in view of the fact that
the subject computerization contract had been mutually cancelled by the
parties thereto even before the Anti-Graft League filed its complaint.
(Emphasis and underscoring supplied)
Being the respondents in the preliminary investigation proceedings, it
was not the petitioners duty to follow up on the prosecution of their case.
Conversely, it was the Office of the Ombudsmans responsibility to expedite
the same within the bounds of reasonable timeliness in view of its mandate
to promptly act on all complaints lodged before it. As pronounced in the case
of Barker v. Wingo:28
A defendant has no duty to bring himself to trial; the State has that
duty as well as the duty of insuring that the trial is consistent with due
process.
Fourth, the Court finally recognizes the prejudice caused to the
petitioners by the lengthy delay in the proceedings against them.
Lest it be misunderstood, the right to speedy disposition of cases is not
merely hinged towards the objective of spurring dispatch in the
administration of justice but also to prevent the oppression of the citizen by
holding a criminal prosecution suspended over him for an indefinite time.29
Akin to the right to speedy trial, its salutary objective is to assure that an
innocent person may be free from the anxiety and expense of litigation or, if
otherwise, of having his guilt determined within the shortest possible time
compatible with the presentation and consideration of whatsoever legitimate
defense he may interpose.30 This looming unrest as well as the tactical
disadvantages carried by the passage of time should be weighed against the
State and in favor of the individual. In the context of the right to a speedy
trial,
the
Court
in
Corpuz
v.
Sandiganbayan31
(Corpuz)
illumined:cralavvonlinelawlibrary
A balancing test of applying societal interests and the rights of the
accused necessarily compels the court to approach speedy trial cases on an
ad hoc basis.
x x x Prejudice should be assessed in the light of the interest of the
defendant that the speedy trial was designed to protect, namely: to prevent
oppressive pre-trial incarceration; to minimize anxiety and concerns of the
accused to trial; and to limit the possibility that his defense will be impaired.
Of these, the most serious is the last, because the inability of a defendant
adequately to prepare his case skews the fairness of the entire system. There
is also prejudice if the defense witnesses are unable to recall accurately the
events of the distant past. Even if the accused is not imprisoned prior to trial,
he is still disadvantaged by restraints on his liberty and by living under a
cloud of anxiety, suspicion and often, hostility. His financial resources may be
drained, his association is curtailed, and he is subjected to public obloquy.

Delay is a two-edge sword. It is the government that bears the burden


of proving its case beyond reasonable doubt. The passage of time may make
it difficult or impossible for the government to carry its burden. The
Constitution and the Rules do not require impossibilities or extraordinary
efforts, diligence or exertion from courts or the prosecutor, nor contemplate
that such right shall deprive the State of a reasonable opportunity of fairly
prosecuting criminals. As held in Williams v. United States, for the
government to sustain its right to try the accused despite a delay, it must
show two things: (a) that the accused suffered no serious prejudice beyond
that which ensued from the ordinary and inevitable delay; and (b) that there
was no more delay than is reasonably attributable to the ordinary processes
of justice.
Closely related to the length of delay is the reason or justification of
the State for such delay. Different weights should be assigned to different
reasons or justifications invoked by the State. For instance, a deliberate
attempt to delay the trial in order to hamper or prejudice the defense should
be weighted heavily against the State. Also, it is improper for the prosecutor
to intentionally delay to gain some tactical advantage over the defendant or
to harass or prejudice him. On the other hand, the heavy case load of the
prosecution or a missing witness should be weighted less heavily against the
State. x x x (Emphasis and underscoring supplied; citations omitted)
As the right to a speedy disposition of cases encompasses the broader
purview of the entire proceedings of which trial proper is but a stage, the
above-discussed effects in Corpuz should equally apply to the case at bar. As
held in Dansal v. Fernandez, Sr.:32
Sec.
16,
Article
reads:cralavvonlinelawlibrary

III

of

the

1987

Constitution,

Sec. 16. All persons shall have the right to a speedy disposition of
their cases before all judicial, quasi-judicial, or administrative bodies.
Initially embodied in Section 16, Article IV of the 1973 Constitution, the
aforesaid constitutional provision is one of three provisions mandating
speedier dispensation of justice. It guarantees the right of all persons to a
speedy disposition of their case; includes within its contemplation the
periods before, during and after trial, and affords broader protection than
Section 14(2), which guarantees just the right to a speedy trial. It is more
embracing than the protection under Article VII, Section 15, which covers
only the period after the submission of the case. The present constitutional
provision applies to civil, criminal and administrative cases. (Emphasis and
underscoring supplied; citations omitted)
Thus, in view of the unjustified length of time miring the Office of the
Ombudsmans resolution of the case as well as the concomitant prejudice
that the delay in this case has caused, it is undeniable that petitioners

constitutional right to due process and speedy disposition of cases had been
violated. As the institutional vanguard against corruption and bureaucracy,
the Office of the Ombudsman should create a system of accountability in
order to ensure that cases before it are resolved with reasonable dispatch
and to equally expose those who are responsible for its delays, as it ought to
determine in this case.
Corollarily, for the SBs patent and utter disregard of the existing laws
and jurisprudence surrounding the matter, the Court finds that it gravely
abused its discretion when it denied the quashal of the Information. Perforce,
the assailed resolutions must be set aside and the criminal case against
petitioners be dismissed.
While the foregoing pronouncement should, as matter of course, result
in the acquittal of the petitioners, it does not necessarily follow that
petitioners are entirely exculpated from any civil liability, assuming that the
same is proven in a subsequent case which the Province may opt to pursue.
Section 2, Rule 111 of the Rules of Court provides that an acquittal in a
criminal case does not bar the private offended party from pursuing a
subsequent civil case based on the delict, unless the judgment of acquittal
explicitly declares that the act or omission from which the civil liability may
arise did not exist.33 As explained in the case of Abejuela v. People,34 citing
Banal v. Tadeo, Jr.:35
The Rules provide: The extinction of the penal action does not carry
with it extinction of the civil, unless the extinction proceeds from a
declaration in a final judgment that the fact from which the civil might arise
did not exist. In other cases, the person entitled to the civil action may
institute it in the jurisdiction and in the manner provided by law against the
person who may be liable for restitution of the thing and reparation or
indemnity for the damage suffered.
xxxx
In Banal vs. Tadeo, Jr., we declared:cralavvonlinelawlibrary
While an act or omission is felonious because it is punishable by law,
it gives rise to civil liability not so much because it is a crime but because it
caused damage to another. Viewing things pragmatically, we can readily see
that what gives rise to the civil liability is really the obligation and moral duty
of everyone to repair or make whole the damage caused to another by
reason of his own act or omission, done intentionally or negligently, whether
or not the same be punishable by law.(Emphasis and underscoring supplied)
Based on the violation of petitioners right to speedy disposition of
cases as herein discussed, the present case stands to be dismissed even
before either the prosecution or the defense has been given the chance to
present any evidence. Thus, the Court is unable to make a definite

pronouncement as to whether petitioners indeed committed the acts or


omissions from which any civil liability on their part might arise as prescribed
under Section 2, Rule 120 of the Rules of Court.36 Consequently, absent this
pronouncement, the Province is not precluded from instituting a subsequent
civil case based on the delict if only to recover the amount of P20,000,000.00
in public funds attributable to petitioners alleged malfeasance.
WHEREFORE, the petitions are hereby GRANTED. The assailed
Resolutions dated October 6, 2009 and February 10, 2010 of the First
Division of the Sandiganbayan are ANNULLED and SET ASIDE. The
Sandiganbayan is likewise ordered to DISMISS Crim. Case No. SB-09-CRM0154 for violation of the Constitutional right to speedy disposition of cases of
petitioners Rafael L. Coscolluela, Edwin N. Nacionales, Dr. Ernesto P. Malvas,
and Jose Ma. G. Amugod, without prejudice to any civil action which the
Province of Negros Occidental may file against petitioners.
SO ORDERED.

[G.R. No. 122728. February 13, 1997]


CASIANO A. ANGCHANGCO, JR., petitioner, vs. THE HONORABLE
OMBUDSMAN, ZALDY TAMAYO, GILDA NAVARRA, ODELIA LEGASPI, SALVADOR
TAMAYO, GASPAR ABORQUE, ROEL ABAS, REMEDIOS OLITA, ET AL., TEODORO
TORREON, ET AL., JIMMY MARTIN, MENRADO ALLAWAN, MARGARITO
ESCORIAL, NORBERTO OCAT and ALEJANDRO ERNA, respondents.
DECISION
MELO, J.:
Before us is a petition for mandamus seeking to: a) compel the
Ombudsman to dismiss Ombudsman Cases No. MIN-3-90-0671, MIN-90-0132,
MIN-90-0133, MIN-90-0138, MIN-90-0188, MIN-90-0189, MIN-90-0190, MIN90-0191, and MIN-90-0192; and b) direct the Ombudsman to issue a
clearance in favor of petitioner Casiano A. Angchangco.
The facts are as follows:
Prior to his retirement, petitioner served as a deputy sheriff and later
as Sheriff IV in the Regional Trial Court of Agusan del Norte and Butuan City.
On August 24, 1989, the Department of Labor and Employment
(Region X) rendered a decision ordering the Nasipit Integrated Arrastre and
Stevedoring Services Inc. (NIASSI) to pay its workers the sum of
P1,281,065.505. The decision having attained finality, a writ of execution was
issued directing the Provincial Sheriff of Agusan del Norte or his deputies to
satisfy the same. Petitioner, as the assigned sheriff and pursuant to the writ
of execution issued, caused the satisfaction of the decision by garnishing
NIASSI's daily collections from its various clients.
In an attempt to enjoin the further enforcement of the writ of
execution, Atty. Tranquilino O. Calo, Jr., President of NIASSI, filed a complaint
for prohibition and damages against petitioner. The regional trial court
initially issued a temporary restraining order but later dismissed the case for
lack of jurisdiction.
In addition to the civil case, Atty. Calo likewise filed before the Office of
the Ombudsman a complaint against petitioner for graft, estafa/malversation
and misconduct relative to the enforcement of the writ of execution. Acting
on the complaint, the Ombudsman, in a Memorandum dated July 31, 1992,
recommended its dismissal for lack of merit.
Meanwhile, from June 25 to 28, 1990, several workers of NIASSI filed
letters-complaints with the Office of the Ombudsman-Mindanao alleging,
among others things, that petitioner illegally deducted an amount equivalent
to 25% from their differential pay. The Office of the Ombudsman-Mindanao
endorsed to the Court the administrative aspect of the complaints which was
docketed hereat as A.M. No. 93-10-385-OMB. The Court in an En Banc

Resolution dated November 25, 1993 dismissed the case for lack of interest
on the part of complainants to pursue their case.
Although the administrative aspect of the complaints had already been
dismissed, the criminal complaints remained pending and unresolved,
prompting petitioner to file several omnibus motions for early resolution.
When petitioner retired in September 1994, the criminal complaints
still remained unresolved, as a consequence of which petitioner's request for
clearance in order that he may qualify to receive his retirement benefits was
denied.
With the criminal complaints remaining unresolved for more than 6
years, petitioner filed a motion to dismiss, invoking Tatad vs. Sandiganbayan
(G.R. No. 72335-39, March 21, 1988). Sad to say, even this motion to
dismiss, however, has not been acted upon. Hence, the instant petition.
Acting on the petition, the Court issued a resolution dated December
20, 1995 requiring respondents to comment thereon. In compliance
therewith, the Office of the Solicitor General filed a Manifestation and Motion
(in lieu of Comment), which is its way of saying it agreed with the views of
petitioner. On July 22, 1996, we issued another resolution requiring the
Ombudsman to file his own comment on the petition if he so desires,
otherwise, the petition will be deemed submitted for resolution without such
comment. After several extensions, respondent Ombudsman, through the
Office of the Special Prosecutor, filed a comment dated October 7, 1996.
The Court finds the present petition to be impressed with merit.
Mandamus is a writ commanding a tribunal, corporation, board, or
person to do the act required to be done when it or he unlawfully neglects
the performance of an act which the law specifically enjoins as a duty
resulting from an office, trust, or station, or unlawfully excludes another from
the use and enjoyment of a right or office to which such other is entitled,
there being no other plain, speedy, and adequate remedy in the ordinary
course of law (Section 3 of Rule 65 of the Rules of Court).
After a careful review of the facts and circumstances of the present
case, the Court finds the inordinate delay of more than six years by the
Ombudsman in resolving the criminal complaints against petitioner to be
violative of his constitutionally guaranteed right to due process and to a
speedy disposition of the cases against him, thus warranting the dismissal of
said criminal cases pursuant to the pronouncement of the Court in Tatad vs.
Sandiganbayan (159 SCRA 70 [1988]), wherein the Court, speaking through
Justice Yap, said:
We find the long delay in the termination of the preliminary
investigation by the Tanodbayan in the instant case to be violative of the
constitutional right of the accused to due process. Substantial adherence to

the requirements of the law governing the conduct of preliminary


investigation, including substantial compliance with the time limitation
prescribed by the law for the resolution of the case by the prosecutor, is part
of the procedural due process constitutionally guaranteed by the
fundamental law. Not only under the broad umbrella of the due process
clause, but under the constitutional guarantee of "speedy disposition" of
cases as embodied in Section 16 of the Bill of Right (both in the 1973 and the
1987 Constitutions), the inordinate delay is violative of the petitioner's
constitutional rights. A delay of close to three (3) years can not be deemed
reasonable or justifiable in the light of the circumstance obtaining in the case
at bar. We are not impressed by the attempt of the Sandiganbayan to
sanitize the long delay by indulging in the speculative assumption that "the
delay may be due to a painstaking and grueling scrutiny by the Tanodbayan
as to whether the evidence presented during the preliminary investigation
merited prosecution of a former high-ranking government official." In the first
place, such a statement suggests a double standard of treatment, which
must be emphatically rejected. Secondly, three out of the five charges
against the petitioner were for his alleged failure to file his sworn statement
of assets and liabilities required by Republic Act No. 3019, which certainly did
not involve complicated legal and factual issues necessitating such
"painstaking and grueling scrutiny" as would justify a delay of almost three
years in terminating the preliminary investigation. The other two charges
relating to alleged bribery and alleged giving of unwarranted benefits to a
relative, while presenting more substantial legal and factual issues, certainly
do not warrant or justify the period of three years, which it took the
Tanodbayan to resolve the case.
It has been suggested that the long delay in terminating the
preliminary investigation should not be deemed fatal, for even the complete
absence of a preliminary investigation does not warrant dismissal of the
information. True but the absence of a preliminary investigation can not be
corrected, for until now, man has not yet invented a device for setting back
time.
Verily, the Office of the Ombudsman in the instant case has failed to
discharge its duty mandated by the Constitution "to promptly act on
complaints filed in any form or manner against public officials and employees
of the government, or any subdivision, agency or instrumentality thereof."
Mandamus is employed to compel the performance, when refused, of a
ministerial duty, this being its chief use and not a discretionary duty. It is
nonetheless likewise available to compel action, when refused, in matters
involving judgment and discretion, but not to direct the exercise of judgment
or discretion in a particular way or the retraction or reversal of an action
already taken in the exercise of either (Rules of Court in the Philippines,
Volume III by Martin, 4th Edition, page 233).
It is correct, as averred in the comment that in the performance of an
official duty or act involving discretion, the corresponding official can only be

directed by mandamus to act, but not to act one way or the other. However,
this rule admits of exceptions such as in cases where there is gross abuse of
discretion, manifest injustice, or palpable excess of authority (Kant Kwong vs.
PCGG, 156 SCRA 222, 232 [1987]).
Here, the Office of the Ombudsman, due to its failure to resolve the
criminal charges against petitioner for more than six years, has transgressed
on the constitutional right of petitioner to due process and to a speedy
disposition of the cases against him, as well as the Ombudsman's own
constitutional duty to act promptly on complaints filed before it. For all these
past 6 years, petitioner has remained under a cloud, and since his retirement
in September 1994, he has been deprived of the fruits of his retirement after
serving the government for over 42 years all because of the inaction of
respondent Ombudsman. If we wait any longer, it may be too late for
petitioner to receive his retirement benefits, not to speak of clearing his
name. This is a case of plain injustice which calls for the issuance of the writ
prayed for.
WHEREFORE, the Court RESOLVED to give DUE COURSE to the petition
and to GRANT the same. Ombudsman Cases No. MIN-3-90-0671, MIN-900132, MIN-90-0133, MIN-90-0138, MIN-90-0188, MIN-90-0189, MIN-90-0190,
MIN-90-0191, and MIN-90-0192 are ordered DISMISSED. The Office of the
Ombudsman is further directed to issue the corresponding clearance in favor
of petitioner.
SO ORDERED.