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G.R.No.162059

THIRDDIVISION

HANNAHEUNICED.SERANA,G.R.No.162059
Petitioner,
Present:

YNARESSANTIAGO,J.,
Chairperson,
versusAUSTRIAMARTINEZ,
CORONA,*
NACHURA,and
REYES,JJ.

SANDIGANBAYANandPromulgated:
PEOPLEOFTHEPHILIPPINES,
Respondents.January22,2008
xx
DECISION

REYES,R.T.,J.:

CAN the Sandiganbayan try a government scholar** accused, along with her brother, of
swindlinggovernmentfunds?

MAAARI bang litisin ng Sandiganbayan ang isang iskolar ng bayan, at ang kanyang
kapatid,nakapwapinararatanganngestafangperangbayan?

The jurisdictional question is posed in this petition for certiorari assailing the
[1]
Resolutions of the Sandiganbayan, Fifth Division, denying petitioners motion to quash the
informationandhermotionforreconsideration.

TheAntecedents

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Petitioner Hannah Eunice D. Serana was a senior student of the University of the Philippines
Cebu.A student of a state university is known as a government scholar. She was appointed by
thenPresidentJosephEstradaonDecember21,1999asastudentregentofUP,toserveaone
yeartermstartingJanuary1,2000andendingonDecember31,2000.

In the early part of 2000, petitioner discussed with President Estrada the renovation of
[2]
VinzonsHallAnnexinUPDiliman. OnSeptember4,2000,petitioner,withhersiblingsand
relatives, registered with the Securities and Exchange Commission the Office of the Student
[3]
RegentFoundation,Inc.(OSRFI).

[4]
One of the projects of the OSRFI was the renovation of the Vinzons Hall Annex. President
EstradagaveFifteenMillionPesos(P15,000,000.00)totheOSRFIasfinancialassistanceforthe
proposedrenovation.Thesourceofthefunds,accordingtotheinformation,wastheOfficeofthe
President.

[5]
The renovation of Vinzons Hall Annex failed to materialize. The succeeding student regent,
KristineClareBugayong,andChristineJillDeGuzman,SecretaryGeneraloftheKASAMAsa
U.P.,asystemwideallianceofstudentcouncilswithinthestateuniversity,consequentlyfileda
[6]
complaintforMalversationofPublicFundsandPropertywiththeOfficeoftheOmbudsman.

OnJuly3,2003,theOmbudsman,afterdueinvestigation,foundprobablecausetoindict
petitionerandherbrotherJadeIanD.Seranaforestafa,docketedasCriminalCaseNo.27819of
[7]
theSandiganbayan. TheInformationreads:

TheundersignedSpecialProsecutionOfficerIII, Office of the Special Prosecutor, hereby


accuses HANNAH EUNICE D. SERANA and JADE IAN D. SERANA of the crime of Estafa,
definedandpenalizedunderParagraph2(a),Article315oftheRevisedPenalCode,asamended
committedasfollows:

ThatonOctober,24,2000,orsometimepriororsubsequentthereto,inQuezonCity,Metro
Manila, Philippines, and within the jurisdiction of this Honorable Court, abovenamed accused,
HANNAHEUNICED.SERANA,ahighrankingpublicofficer,beingthentheStudentRegentof
theUniversityofthePhilippines,Diliman,QuezonCity,whileintheperformanceofherofficial
functions, committing the offense in relation to her office and taking advantage of her position,
withintenttogain,conspiringwithherbrother,JADEIAND.SERANA,aprivateindividual,did
then and there wilfully, unlawfully and feloniously defraud the government by falsely and
fraudulently representing to former President Joseph Ejercito Estrada that the renovation of the
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Vinzons Hall of the University of the Philippines will be renovated and renamed as President
Joseph Ejercito Estrada Student Hall, and for which purpose accused HANNAH EUNICE D.
SERANA requested the amount of FIFTEEN MILLION PESOS (P15,000,000.00), Philippine
Currency, from the Office of the President, and the latter relying and believing on said false
pretensesandmisrepresentationgaveanddeliveredtosaidaccusedLandBankCheckNo.91353
dated October 24, 2000 in the amount of FIFTEEN MILLION PESOS (P15,000,000.00), which
check was subsequently encashed by accused Jade Ian D. Serana on October 25, 2000 and
misappropriatedfortheirpersonaluseandbenefit,anddespiterepeateddemandsmadeuponthe
accused for them to return aforesaid amount, the said accused failed and refused to do so to the
damageandprejudiceofthegovernmentintheaforesaidamount.

CONTRARYTOLAW.(Underscoringsupplied)

Petitionermovedtoquashtheinformation.She claimed that the Sandiganbayan does not


haveanyjurisdictionovertheoffensechargedoroverherperson,inhercapacityasUPstudent
regent.

Petitioner claimed that Republic Act (R.A.) No. 3019, as amended by R.A. No. 8249,
[8]
enumerates the crimes or offenses over which the Sandiganbayan has jurisdiction. It has no
[9]
jurisdictionoverthecrimeofestafa. ItonlyhasjurisdictionovercrimescoveredbyTitleVII,
ChapterII,Section2(CrimesCommittedbyPublicOfficers),BookIIoftheRevisedPenalCode
(RPC).EstafafallingunderTitleX,ChapterVI(CrimesAgainstProperty),BookIIoftheRPCis
notwithintheSandiganbayansjurisdiction.

She also argued that it was President Estrada, not the government, that was duped. Even
assuming that she received the P15,000,000.00, that amount came from Estrada, not from the
[10]
coffersofthegovernment.

Petitioner likewise posited that the Sandiganbayan had no jurisdiction over her person. As a
studentregent,shewasnotapublicofficersinceshemerelyrepresentedherpeers,incontrastto
the other regents who held their positions in an ex officio capacity. She added that she was a
simplestudentanddidnotreceiveanysalaryasastudentregent.

Shefurthercontendedthatshehadnopowerorauthoritytoreceivemoniesorfunds.Suchpower
was vested with the Board of Regents (BOR) as a whole. Since it was not alleged in the
information that it was among her functions or duties to receive funds, or that the crime was

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committed in connection with her official functions, the same is beyond the jurisdiction of the
[11]
SandiganbayancitingthecaseofSollerv.Sandiganbayan.

[12]
TheOmbudsmanopposedthemotion.
Itdisputedpetitionersinterpretationofthelaw.Section
4(b) of Presidential Decree (P.D.) No. 1606 clearly contains the catchall phrase in relation to
office, thus, the Sandiganbayan has jurisdiction over the charges against petitioner.In the same
breath,theprosecutioncounteredthatthesourceofthemoneyisamatterofdefense.Itshouldbe
[13]
threshedoutduringafullblowntrial.

According to the Ombudsman, petitioner, despite her protestations, was a public officer. As a
member of the BOR, she had the general powers of administration and exercised the corporate
powersofUP.BasedonMechemsdefinitionofapublicoffice,petitionersstancethatshewasnot
compensated,hence,notapublicofficer,iserroneous.Compensation is not an essential part of
publicoffice. Parenthetically, compensation has been interpreted to include allowances. By this
[14]
definition,petitionerwascompensated.

SandiganbayanDisposition

InaResolutiondatedNovember14,2003,theSandiganbayandeniedpetitionersmotionforlack
[15]
ofmerit.
Itratiocinated:

ThefocalpointincontroversyisthejurisdictionoftheSandiganbayanoverthiscase.
ItisextremelyerroneoustoholdthatonlycriminaloffensescoveredbyChapterII,Section2,Title
VII, Book II of the Revised Penal Code are within the jurisdiction of this Court. As correctly
pointedoutbytheprosecution,Section4(b)ofR.A.8249providesthattheSandiganbayanalsohas
jurisdiction over other offenses committed by public officials and employees in relation to their
office.Fromthisprovision,thereisnosingledoubtthatthisCourthasjurisdictionovertheoffense
ofestafacommittedbyapublicofficialinrelationtohisoffice.
Accusedmovantsclaimthatbeingmerelyamemberinrepresentationofthestudentbody,shewas
never a public officer since she never received any compensation nor does she fall under Salary
Grade27,isofnomoment,inviewoftheexpressprovisionofSection4ofRepublicActNo.8249
whichprovides:

Sec.4.JurisdictionTheSandiganbayanshallexerciseexclusiveoriginaljurisdictioninall
casesinvolving:

(A)xxx

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(1) Officials of the executive branch occupying the positions of regional director and higher,
otherwiseclassifiedasGrade27andhigher,oftheCompensationandPositionClassificationAct
of1989(RepublicActNo.6758),specificallyincluding:

xxxx

(g) Presidents, directors or trustees, or managers of governmentowned or controlled


corporations,stateuniversitiesoreducationalinstitutionsorfoundations.(Italicssupplied)

It is very clear from the aforequoted provision that the Sandiganbayan has original exclusive
jurisdiction over all offenses involving the officials enumerated in subsection (g), irrespective of
theirsalarygrades,becausetheprimordialconsiderationintheinclusionoftheseofficialsisthe
natureoftheirresponsibilitiesandfunctions.

Isaccusedmovantincludedinthecontemplatedprovisionoflaw?

A meticulous review of the existing Charter of the University of the Philippines reveals that the
BoardofRegents,towhichaccusedmovantbelongs,exclusivelyexercisesthegeneralpowersof
administrationandcorporatepowersintheuniversity,suchas:1)Toreceiveandappropriatetothe
endsspecifiedbylawsuchsumsasmaybeprovidedbylawforthesupportoftheuniversity2)To
prescribe rules for its own government and to enact for the government of the university such
generalordinancesandregulations,notcontrarytolaw,asareconsistentwiththepurposesofthe
university and 3) To appoint, on recommendation of the President of the University, professors,
instructors, lecturers and other employees of the University to fix their compensation, hours of
service, and such other duties and conditions as it may deem proper to grant to them in its
discretionleaveofabsenceundersuchregulationsasitmaypromulgate,anyotherprovisionsof
law to the contrary notwithstanding, and to remove them for cause after an investigation and
hearingshallhavebeenhad.

It is wellestablished in corporation law that the corporation can act only through its board of
directors, or board of trustees in the case of nonstock corporations. The board of directors or
trustees,therefore,isthegoverningbodyofthecorporation.

It is unmistakably evident that the Board of Regents of the University of the Philippines is
performing functions similar to those of the Board of Trustees of a nonstock corporation. This
drawstoforetheconclusionthatbeingamemberofsuchboard,accusedmovantundoubtedlyfalls
within the category of public officials upon whom this Court is vested with original exclusive
jurisdiction,regardlessofthefactthatshedoesnotoccupyapositionclassifiedasSalaryGrade27
orhigherundertheCompensationandPositionClassificationActof1989.

Finally,thiscourtfindsthataccusedmovantscontentionthatthesameofP15Millionwasreceived
fromformerPresidentEstradaandnotfromthecoffersofthegovernment,isamatteradefense
[16]
thatshouldbeproperlyventilatedduringthetrialonthemeritsofthiscase.

[17]
OnNovember19,2003,petitionerfiledamotionforreconsideration.
Themotionwas
[18]
deniedwithfinalityinaResolutiondatedFebruary4,2004.

Issue

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Petitioner is now before this Court, contending that THE RESPONDENT COURT
COMMITTED GRAVE ABUSE OF DISCRETION AMOUNTING TO LACK AND/OR
EXCESSOFJURISDICTIONINNOTQUASHINGTHEINFORMATIONAND DISMISING
THE CASE NOTWITHSTANDING THAT IS HAS NO JURISDICTION OVER THE
[19]
OFFENSECHARGEDINTHEINFORMATION.

Inherdiscussion,shereiteratesherfourfoldargumentbelow,namely:(a)theSandiganbayanhas
nojurisdictionoverestafa(b)petitionerisnotapublicofficerwithSalaryGrade27andshepaid
hertuitionfees(c)theoffensechargedwasnotcommittedinrelationtoheroffice(d)thefunds
inquestionpersonallycamefromPresidentEstrada,notfromthegovernment.

OurRuling

Thepetitioncannotbegranted.

Preliminarily,thedenialofamotionto
quashisnotcorrectiblebycertiorari.

We would ordinarily dismiss this petition for certiorari outright on procedural grounds.
Wellestablishedistherulethatwhenamotiontoquashinacriminalcaseisdenied,theremedy
isnotapetitionforcertiorari,butforpetitionerstogototrial,withoutprejudicetoreiteratingthe
[20]
special defenses invoked in their motion to quash.
Remedial measures as regards
[21]
interlocutoryorders,suchasamotiontoquash,arefrowneduponandoftendismissed.
The
[22]
evidentreasonforthisruleistoavoidmultiplicityofappealsinasingleaction.

[23]
In Newsweek, Inc. v. Intermediate Appellate Court,
the Court clearly explained and
illustratedtheruleandtheexceptions,thus:

Asageneralrule,anorderdenyingamotiontodismissismerelyinterlocutoryandcannot
besubjectofappeal until final judgment or order is rendered. (Sec. 2ofRule41). The ordinary
procedure to be followed in such a case is to file an answer, go to trial and if the decision is
adverse,reiteratetheissueonappealfromthefinaljudgment.The same rule applies to an order
denyingamotiontoquash,exceptthatinsteadoffilingananswerapleaisenteredandnoappeal
liesfromajudgmentofacquittal.

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This general rule is subject to certain exceptions. If the court, in denying the motion to
dismiss or motion to quash, acts without or in excess of jurisdiction or with grave abuse of
discretion,thencertiorariorprohibitionlies.Thereasonisthatitwouldbeunfairtorequirethe
defendantoraccusedtoundergotheordealandexpenseofatrialifthecourthasnojurisdiction
overthesubjectmatteroroffense,orisnotthecourtofpropervenue,orifthedenialofthemotion
todismissormotiontoquashismadewithgraveabuseofdiscretionorawhimsicalandcapricious
exerciseofjudgment.Insuchcases,theordinaryremedyofappealcannotbeplainandadequate.
Thefollowingareafewexamplesoftheexceptionstothegeneralrule.

InDeJesusv.Garcia(19SCRA554),uponthedenialofamotiontodismissbasedonlack
ofjurisdictionoverthesubjectmatter,thisCourtgrantedthepetitionforcertiorariandprohibition
againsttheCityCourtofManilaanddirectedtherespondentcourttodismissthecase.

InLopezv.CityJudge(18SCRA616),uponthedenialofamotiontoquashbasedonlack
of jurisdiction over the offense, this Court granted the petition for prohibition and enjoined the
respondentcourtfromfurtherproceedinginthecase.

InEnriquezv.Macadaeg(84Phil.674),uponthedenialofamotiontodismissbasedon
impropervenue,thisCourtgrantedthepetitionforprohibitionandenjoinedtherespondentjudge
fromtakingcognizanceofthecaseexcepttodismissthesame.

InManalov.Mariano(69SCRA80),uponthedenialofamotiontodismissbasedonbar
bypriorjudgment,thisCourtgrantedthepetitionforcertiorarianddirectedtherespondentjudge
todismissthecase.

InYuviengcov.Dacuycuy(105SCRA668),uponthedenialofamotiontodismissbased
ontheStatuteofFrauds,thisCourtgrantedthepetitionforcertiorarianddismissedtheamended
complaint.

InTacasv.Cariaso(72SCRA527),thisCourtgrantedthepetitionforcertiorariafterthe
motion to quash based on double jeopardy was denied by respondent judge and ordered him to
desistfromfurtheractioninthecriminalcaseexcepttodismissthesame.

In People v. Ramos (83 SCRA 11), the order denying the motion to quash based on
[24]
prescriptionwassetasideoncertiorariandthecriminalcasewasdismissedbythisCourt.

WedonotfindtheSandiganbayantohavecommittedagraveabuseofdiscretion.

ThejurisdictionoftheSandiganbayanis
setbyP.D.No.1606,asamended,notby
R.A.No.3019,asamended.

We first address petitioners contention that the jurisdiction of the Sandiganbayan is


determined by Section 4 of R.A. No. 3019 (The AntiGraft and Corrupt Practices Act, as
amended).WenotethatpetitionerreferstoSection4ofthesaidlawyetquotesSection4ofP.D.

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[25]
No. 1606, as amended, in her motion to quash before the Sandiganbayan.
She repeats the
[26]
[27]
referenceintheinstantpetitionforcertiorari
andinhermemorandumofauthorities.

Wecannotbringourselvestowritethisoffasamereclericalortypographicalerror.Itbears
stressingthatpetitionerrepeatedthisclaimtwicedespitecorrectionsmadebytheSandiganbayan.
[28]

Herclaimhasnobasisinlaw.ItisP.D.No.1606,asamended,ratherthanR.A.No.3019,
asamended,thatdeterminesthejurisdictionoftheSandiganbayan.Abrieflegislativehistoryof
thestatutecreatingtheSandiganbayanisinorder.The Sandiganbayan was created by P.D. No.
1486,promulgatedbythenPresidentFerdinandE.MarcosonJune11,1978.Itwaspromulgated
toattainthehighestnormsofofficialconductrequiredofpublicofficersandemployees,basedon
the concept that public officers and employees shall serve with the highest degree of
responsibility, integrity, loyalty and efficiency and shall remain at all times accountable to the
[29]
people.

P.D. No. 1486 was, in turn, amended by P.D. No. 1606 which was promulgated on
[30]
December10,1978.P.D.No.1606expandedthejurisdictionoftheSandiganbayan.

P.D.No.1606waslateramendedbyP.D.No.1861onMarch23,1983,furtheralteringthe
Sandiganbayan jurisdiction. R.A. No. 7975 approved on March 30, 1995 made succeeding
amendmentstoP.D.No.1606,whichwasagainamendedonFebruary5,1997byR.A.No.8249.
Section 4 of R.A. No. 8249 further modified the jurisdiction of the Sandiganbayan. As it now
stands,theSandiganbayanhasjurisdictionoverthefollowing:

Sec.4.Jurisdiction.TheSandiganbayanshallexerciseexclusiveoriginaljurisdictioninallcases
involving:

A.ViolationsofRepublicActNo.3019,asamended,otherknownastheAntiGraftandCorrupt
PracticesAct,RepublicActNo.1379,andChapterII,Section2,TitleVII,BookIIoftheRevised
PenalCode,whereoneormoreoftheaccusedareofficialsoccupyingthefollowingpositionsin
thegovernment,whetherinapermanent,actingorinterimcapacity,atthetimeofthecommission
oftheoffense:
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(1) Officials of the executive branch occupying the positions of regional director and higher,
otherwiseclassifiedasGrade27andhigher,oftheCompensationandPositionClassificationAct
of989(RepublicActNo.6758),specificallyincluding:

(a) Provincial governors, vicegovernors, members of the sangguniang panlalawigan, and


provincialtreasurers,assessors,engineers,andothercitydepartmentheads

(b)Citymayor,vicemayors,membersofthesangguniangpanlungsod,citytreasurers,assessors,
engineers,andothercitydepartmentheads

(c)Officialsofthediplomaticserviceoccupyingthepositionofconsulandhigher

(d)Philippinearmyandairforcecolonels,navalcaptains,andallofficersofhigherrank

(e)OfficersofthePhilippineNationalPolicewhileoccupyingthepositionofprovincialdirector
andthoseholdingtherankofseniorsuperintendedorhigher

(f)Cityandprovincialprosecutorsandtheirassistants,andofficialsandprosecutorsintheOffice
oftheOmbudsmanandspecialprosecutor

(g)Presidents,directorsortrustees,ormanagersofgovernmentownedorcontrolledcorporations,
stateuniversitiesoreducationalinstitutionsorfoundations.

(2) Members of Congress and officials thereof classified as Grade 27 and up under the
CompensationandPositionClassificationActof1989

(3)MembersofthejudiciarywithoutprejudicetotheprovisionsoftheConstitution

(4)ChairmenandmembersofConstitutionalCommission,withoutprejudicetotheprovisionsof
theConstitutionand

(5)AllothernationalandlocalofficialsclassifiedasGrade27andhigherundertheCompensation
andPositionClassificationActof1989.

B.Otheroffensesoffelonieswhethersimpleorcomplexedwithothercrimescommittedby
the public officials and employees mentioned in subsection a of this section in relation to their
office.

C.CivilandcriminalcasesfiledpursuanttoandinconnectionwithExecutiveOrderNos.
1,2,14and14A,issuedin1986.

IncaseswherenoneoftheaccusedareoccupyingpositionscorrespondingtoSalaryGrade27or
higher, as prescribed in the said Republic Act No. 6758, or military and PNP officer mentioned
above, exclusive original jurisdiction thereof shall be vested in the proper regional court,
metropolitantrialcourt,municipaltrialcourt,andmunicipalcircuittrialcourt,asthecasemaybe,
pursuanttotheirrespectivejurisdictionsasprovidedinBatasPambansaBlg.129,asamended.

TheSandiganbayanshallexerciseexclusiveappellatejurisdictionoverfinaljudgments,resolutions
ororderofregionaltrialcourtswhetherintheexerciseoftheirownoriginaljurisdictionoroftheir
appellatejurisdictionashereinprovided.

TheSandiganbayanshallhaveexclusiveoriginaljurisdictionoverpetitionsfortheissuanceofthe
writs of mandamus, prohibition, certiorari, habeas corpus, injunctions, and other ancillary writs
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andprocessesinaidofitsappellatejurisdictionandoverpetitionsofsimilarnature,includingquo
warranto, arising or that may arise in cases filed or which may be filed under Executive Order
Nos.1,2,14and14A,issuedin1986:Provided,Thatthejurisdictionoverthesepetitionsshall
notbeexclusiveoftheSupremeCourt.

TheprocedureprescribedinBatasPambansaBlg.129,aswellastheimplementingrulesthatthe
Supreme Court has promulgated and may thereafter promulgate, relative to appeals/petitions for
review to the Court of Appeals, shall apply to appeals and petitions for review filed with the
Sandiganbayan. In all cases elevated to the Sandiganbayan and from the Sandiganbayan to the
SupremeCourt,theOfficeoftheOmbudsman,throughitsspecialprosecutor,shallrepresentthe
PeopleofthePhilippines,exceptincasesfiledpursuanttoExecutiveOrderNos.1,2,14and14A,
issuedin1986.

Incaseprivateindividualsarechargedascoprincipals,accomplicesoraccessorieswiththepublic
officersoremployees,includingthoseemployedingovernmentownedorcontrolledcorporations,
theyshallbetriedjointlywithsaidpublicofficersandemployeesinthepropercourtswhichshall
exerciseexclusivejurisdictionoverthem.

AnyprovisionsoflaworRulesofCourttothecontrarynotwithstanding,thecriminalactionand
thecorrespondingcivilactionfortherecoveryofcivilliabilityshall,atalltimes,besimultaneously
instituted with, and jointly determined in, the same proceeding by the Sandiganbayan or the
appropriatecourts,thefilingofthecriminalactionbeingdeemedtonecessarilycarrywithitthe
filing of the civil action, and no right to reserve the filing such civil action separately from the
criminalactionshallberecognized:Provided,however,Thatwherethecivilactionhadheretofore
been filed separately but judgment therein has not yet been rendered, and the criminal case is
hereafter filed with the Sandiganbayan or the appropriate court, said civil action shall be
transferredtotheSandiganbayanortheappropriatecourt,asthecasemaybe,forconsolidationand
joint determination with the criminal action, otherwise the separate civil action shall be deemed
abandoned.

Upontheotherhand,R.A.No.3019isapenalstatuteapprovedonAugust17,1960.The
saidlawrepressescertainactsofpublicofficersandprivatepersonsalikewhichconstitutegraft
[31]
orcorruptpracticesorwhichmayleadthereto.
PursuanttoSection10ofR.A.No.3019,all
[32]
prosecutionsforviolationofthesaidlawshouldbefiledwiththeSandiganbayan.

R.A.No.3019doesnotcontainanenumerationofthecasesoverwhichtheSandiganbayan
hasjurisdiction.Infact,Section4ofR.A.No.3019erroneouslycitedbypetitioner,dealsnotwith
thejurisdictionoftheSandiganbayanbutwithprohibitiononprivateindividuals.Wequote:

Section4.Prohibitiononprivateindividuals.(a)Itshallbeunlawfulforanypersonhaving
familyorclosepersonalrelationwithanypublicofficialtocapitalizeorexploitortakeadvantage
of such family or close personal relation by directly or indirectly requesting or receiving any
present, gift or material or pecuniary advantage from any other person having some business,
transaction,application,requestorcontractwiththegovernment,inwhichsuchpublicofficialhas
tointervene.Familyrelationshallincludethespouseorrelativesbyconsanguinityoraffinityinthe
thirdcivildegree.Thewordclosepersonalrelationshallincludeclosepersonalfriendship,social

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andfraternalconnections,andprofessionalemploymentallgivingrisetointimacywhichassures
freeaccesstosuchpublicofficer.

(b)Itshallbeunlawfulforanypersonknowinglytoinduceorcauseanypublicofficialto
commitanyoftheoffensesdefinedinSection3hereof.

Infine,thetwostatutesdifferinthatP.D.No.1606,asamended,definesthejurisdictionof
the Sandiganbayan while R.A. No. 3019, as amended, defines graft and corrupt practices and
providesfortheirpenalties.

Sandiganbayanhasjurisdictionover
theoffenseofestafa.

RelyingonSection4ofP.D.No.1606,petitionercontendsthatestafaisnotamongthose
crimes cognizable by the Sandiganbayan. We note that in hoisting this argument, petitioner
isolated the first paragraph of Section 4 of P.D. No. 1606, without regard to the succeeding
paragraphsofthesaidprovision.

The rule is wellestablished in this jurisdiction that statutes should receive a sensible
[33]
constructionsoastoavoidanunjustoranabsurdconclusion.
Interpretatiotalisinambiguis
semper fienda est, ut evitetur inconveniens et absurdum. Where there is ambiguity, such
interpretationaswillavoidinconvenienceandabsurdityistobeadopted.Kungsaanmayroong
kalabuan,angpagpapaliwanagayhindidapatmagingmahirapatkatawatawa.

Everysection,provisionorclauseofthestatutemustbeexpoundedbyreferencetoeach
[34]
other in order to arrive at the effect contemplated by the legislature.
The intention of the
legislator must be ascertained from the whole text of the law and every part of the act is to be
[35]
takenintoview.
Inotherwords,petitionersinterpretationliesindirectoppositiontotherule
that a statute must be interpreted as a whole under the principle that the best interpreter of a
[36]
statuteisthestatuteitself.
Optimastatutiinterpretatrixestipsumstatutum.Angisangbatas
ay marapat na bigyan ng kahulugan sa kanyang kabuuan sa ilalim ng prinsipyo na ang
pinakamainamnainterpretasyonayangmismongbatas.

Section4(B)ofP.D.No.1606reads:

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B.Otheroffensesorfelonieswhethersimpleorcomplexedwithothercrimescommittedby
the public officials and employees mentioned in subsection a of this section in relation to their
office.

Evidently,theSandiganbayanhasjurisdictionoverotherfeloniescommittedbypublicofficialsin
relation to their office. We see no plausible or sensible reason to exclude estafa as one of the
offensesincludedinSection4(B)ofP.D.No.1606.Plainly,estafaisoneofthoseotherfelonies.
The jurisdiction is simply subject to the twin requirements that (a) the offense is committed by
publicofficialsandemployeesmentionedinSection4(A)ofP.D.No.1606,asamended,andthat
(b)theoffenseiscommittedinrelationtotheiroffice.

[37]
In Perlas, Jr. v. People,
the Court had occasion to explain that the Sandiganbayan has
jurisdiction over an indictment for estafa versus a director of the National Parks Development
Committee,agovernmentinstrumentality.TheCourtheldthen:

The National Parks Development Committee was created originally as an Executive


CommitteeonJanuary14,1963,forthedevelopmentoftheQuezonMemorial,Lunetaandother
national parks (Executive Order No. 30). It was later designated as the National Parks
DevelopmentCommittee(NPDC)onFebruary7,1974(E.O.No.69).On January 9, 1966, Mrs.
Imelda R. Marcos and Teodoro F. Valencia were designated Chairman and ViceChairman
respectively(E.O.No.3).DespiteanattempttotransferittotheBureauofForestDevelopment,
DepartmentofNaturalResources,onDecember1,1975(LetterofImplementationNo.39,issued
pursuanttoPDNo.830,datedNovember27,1975),theNPDChasremainedundertheOfficeof
thePresident(E.O.No.709,datedJuly27,1981).

Since 1977 to 1981, the annual appropriations decrees listed NPDC as a regular
government agency under the Office of the President and allotments for its maintenance and
operatingexpenseswereissueddirecttoNPDC(Exh.10A,Perlas,ItemNos.2,3).

TheSandiganbayansjurisdictionoverestafawasreiteratedwithgreaterfirmnessinBondoc
[38]
v.Sandiganbayan.
PertinentpartsoftheCourtsrulinginBondocread:

Furthermore,itisnotlegallypossibletotransferBondocscasestotheRegionalTrialCourt,
forthesimplereasonthatthelatterwouldnothavejurisdictionovertheoffenses.Asalreadyabove
intimated,theinabilityoftheSandiganbayantoholdajointtrialofBondocscasesandthoseofthe
government employees separately charged for the same crimes, has not altered the nature of the
offenses charged, as estafa thru falsification punishable by penalties higher than prision
correccional or imprisonment of six years, or a fine of P6,000.00, committed by government
employees in conspiracy with private persons, including Bondoc. These crimes are within the
exclusive,originaljurisdictionoftheSandiganbayan.Theysimplycannotbetakencognizanceof
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bytheregularcourts,apartfromthefactthatevenifthecasescouldbesotransferred,ajointtrial
wouldnonethelessnotbepossible.

PetitionerUPstudentregent
isapublicofficer.

Petitioneralsocontendsthatsheisnotapublicofficer.Shedoesnotreceiveanysalaryor
remunerationasaUPstudentregent.ThisisnotthefirstorlikelythelasttimethatWewillbe
calledupontodefineapublicofficer.InKhan,Jr.v.OfficeoftheOmbudsman,Weruledthatitis
[39]
difficulttopindownthedefinitionofapublicofficer.
The1987Constitutiondoesnotdefine
whoarepublicofficers.Rather,thevarieddefinitionsandconceptsarefoundindifferentstatutes
andjurisprudence.

[40]
InAparriv.CourtofAppeals,
theCourtheldthat:

Apublicofficeistheright,authority,anddutycreatedandconferredbylaw,bywhichfora
givenperiod,eitherfixedbylaworenduringatthepleasureofthecreatingpower,anindividualis
investedwithsomeportionofthesovereignfunctionsofthegovernment,tobeexercisebyhimfor
thebenefitofthepublic([MechemPublicOfficesandOfficers,]Sec.1).Therighttoholdapublic
officeunderourpoliticalsystemisthereforenotanaturalright.Itexists,whenitexistsatallonly
becauseandbyvirtueofsomelawexpresslyorimpliedlycreatingandconferringit(MechemIbid.,
Sec.64).Thereisnosuchthingasavestedinterestoranestateinanoffice,orevenanabsolute
righttoholdoffice.Exceptingconstitutionalofficeswhichprovideforspecialimmunityasregards
salaryandtenure,noonecanbesaidtohaveanyvestedrightinanofficeoritssalary(42Am.Jur.
881).

[41]
InLaurelv.Desierto,
theCourtadoptedthedefinitionofMechemofapublicoffice:

Apublicofficeistheright,authorityandduty,createdandconferredbylaw,bywhich,for
agivenperiod,eitherfixedbylaworenduringatthepleasureofthecreatingpower,anindividual
isinvestedwithsomeportionofthesovereignfunctionsofthegovernment,tobeexercisedbyhim
[42]
forthebenefitofthepublic.Theindividualsoinvestedisapublicofficer.

Petitioner claims that she is not a public officer with Salary Grade 27 she is, in fact, a
regulartuitionfeepayingstudent.Thisislikewisebereftofmerit.Itisnotonlythesalarygrade
that determines the jurisdiction of the Sandiganbayan. The Sandiganbayan also has jurisdiction
[43]
overotherofficersenumeratedinP.D.No.1606.InGeduspanv.People,
Weheldthat while

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thefirstpartofSection4(A)coversonlyofficialswithSalaryGrade27andhigher,itssecondpart
specificallyincludesother
executive officials whose positions may not be of Salary Grade 27 and higher but who are by
expressprovisionoflawplacedunderthejurisdictionofthesaidcourt.Petitionerfallsunderthe
[44]
jurisdictionoftheSandiganbayanassheisplacedtherebyexpressprovisionoflaw.

Section4(A)(1)(g)ofP.D.No.1606explictlyvestedtheSandiganbayanwithjurisdiction
over Presidents, directors or trustees, or managers of governmentowned or controlled
corporations, state universities or educational institutions or foundations. Petitioner falls under
thiscategory.AstheSandiganbayanpointedout,theBORperformsfunctionssimilartothoseof
[45]
a board of trustees of a nonstock corporation.
By express mandate of law, petitioner is,
indeed,apublicofficerascontemplatedbyP.D.No.1606.

[46]
Moreover,itiswellestablishedthatcompensationisnotanessentialelementofpublicoffice.
[47]
Atmost,itismerelyincidentaltothepublicoffice.

Delegation of sovereign functions is essential in the public office. An investment in an


individualofsomeportionofthesovereignfunctionsofthegovernment,tobeexercisedbyhim
[48]
forthebenefitofthepublicmakesoneapublicofficer.

The administration of the UP is a sovereign function in line with Article XIV of the
Constitution.UPperformsalegitimategovernmentalfunctionbyprovidingadvancedinstruction
[49]
inliterature,philosophy,thesciences,andarts,andgivingprofessionalandtechnicaltraining.
Moreover, UP is maintained by the Government and it declares no dividends and is not a
[50]
corporationcreatedforprofit.

Theoffensechargedwascommitted
inrelationtopublicoffice,according
totheInformation.

Petitioner likewise argues that even assuming that she is a public officer, the Sandiganbayan
wouldstillnothavejurisdictionovertheoffensebecauseitwasnotcommittedinrelationtoher
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office.

Accordingtopetitioner,shehadnopowerorauthoritytoactwithouttheapprovalofthe
BOR. She adds there was no Board Resolution issued by the BOR authorizing her to contract
withthenPresidentEstradaandthatheractswerenotratifiedbythegoverningbodyofthestate
university.Resultantly,heractwasdoneinaprivatecapacityandnotinrelationtopublicoffice.

[51]
Itisaxiomaticthatjurisdictionisdeterminedbytheavermentsintheinformation.
Morethan
that,jurisdictionisnotaffectedbythepleasorthetheoriessetupbydefendantorrespondentin
[52]
ananswer,amotiontodismiss,oramotiontoquash.
Otherwise,jurisdictionwouldbecome
[53]
dependentalmostentirelyuponthewhimsofdefendantorrespondent.

In the case at bench, the information alleged, in no uncertain terms that petitioner, being
thenastudentregentofU.P.,whileintheperformanceofherofficialfunctions,committingthe
offense in relation to her office and taking advantage of her position, with intent to gain,
conspiring with her brother, JADE IAN D. SERANA, a private individual, did then and there
wilfully,unlawfullyandfeloniouslydefraudthegovernmentxxx.(Underscoringsupplied)

Clearly,therewasnograveabuseofdiscretiononthepartoftheSandiganbayanwhenitdidnot
quashtheinformationbasedonthisground.

Sourceoffundsisadefensethatshould
beraisedduringtrialonthemerits.

ItiscontendedanewthattheamountcamefromPresidentEstradasprivatefundsandnotfromthe
governmentcoffers.Petitionerinsiststhechargehasnolegtostandon.

Wecannotagree. The information alleges that the funds came from the Office of the President
andnotitsthenoccupant,PresidentJosephEjercitoEstrada.Undertheinformation,itisaverred
that petitioner requested the amount of Fifteen Million Pesos (P15,000,000.00), Philippine
Currency, from the Office of the President, and the latter relying and believing on said false
pretensesandmisrepresentationgaveanddeliveredtosaidaccusedLandBankCheckNo.91353
datedOctober24,2000intheamountofFifteenMillionPesos(P15,000,000.00).

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Again,theCourtsustainstheSandiganbayanobservationthatthesourceoftheP15,000,000isa
[54]
matterofdefensethatshouldbeventilatedduringthetrialonthemeritsoftheinstantcase.

Alawyerowescandor,fairness
andhonestytotheCourt.

Asapartingnote,petitionerscounsel,RenatoG.delaCruz,misrepresentedhisreferenceto
Section 4 of P.D. No. 1606 as a quotation from Section 4 of R.A. No. 3019. A review of his
motion to quash, the instant petition for certiorari and his memorandum, unveils the
misquotation. We urge petitioners counsel to observe Canon 10 of the Code of Professional
Responsibility, specifically Rule 10.02 of the Rules stating that a lawyer shall not misquote or
misrepresent.

[55]
The Court stressed the importance of this rule in Pangan v. Ramos,
where Atty
Dionisio D. Ramos used the name Pedro D.D. Ramos in connection with a criminal case. The
CourtruledthatAtty.Ramosresortedtodeceptionbyusinganamedifferentfromthatwithwhich
he was authorized. We severely reprimanded Atty. Ramos and warned that a repetition may
[56]
warrantsuspensionordisbarment.

Weadmonishpetitionerscounseltobemorecarefulandaccurateinhiscitation.Alawyers
[57]
conductbeforethecourtshouldbecharacterizedbycandorandfairness.
The administration
ofjusticewouldgravelysufferiflawyersdonotactwithcompletecandorandhonestybeforethe
[58]
courts.

WHEREFORE,thepetitionisDENIEDforlackofmerit.

SOORDERED.

RUBENT.REYES

AssociateJustice

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WECONCUR:

CONSUELOYNARESSANTIAGO
AssociateJustice
Chairperson

MA.ALICIAAUSTRIAMARTINEZRENATOC.CORONA
AssociateJusticeAssociateJustice

ANTONIOEDUARDOB.NACHURA
AssociateJustice

ATTESTATION

I attest that the conclusions in the above Decision had been reached in consultation before the
casewasassignedtothewriteroftheopinionoftheCourtsDivision.

CONSUELOYNARESSANTIAGO
AssociateJustice
Chairperson

CERTIFICATION

Pursuant to Section 13, Article VIII of the Constitution and the Division Chairpersons
Attestation,IcertifythattheconclusionsintheaboveDecisionhadbeenreachedinconsultation
beforethecasewasassignedtothewriteroftheopinionoftheCourtsDivision.

REYNATOS.PUNO
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ChiefJustice

* Vice Associate Justice Minita ChicoNazario, per Raffle dated January 14, 2008. Justice ChicoNazario penned the assailed
Sandiganbayandecision,withtheconcurrenceofAssociateJusticesMa.CristinaG.CortezEstradaandTeresitaV.DiazBaldos.
**AsitisfundedpartlybythePhilippinegovernmentandprivatedonations,theUPstudentshouldersaminimaltuitionfeewhile
beingprovidedawiderangeofcoursesandprograms.
UPalsohasaSocializedTuitionandFinancialAssistanceProgram(STFAP,otherwiseknownastheIskolarngBayanProgram),which
enablesstudentstoavailofdiscountedtuitionfeestofulltuitionfeewaiversandcashsubsidiesdeterminedaccordingtotheirincome
brackets.(www.up.edu.ph.)
[1]
Rollo,pp.5864.
[2]
Id.at5.
[3]
Id.
[4]
Id.
[5]
Id.
[6]
Id.at29.
[7]
Id.at3640.
[8]
Id.at710.
[9]
Id.at43.
[10]
Id.at44.
[11]
Id.at45,citingG.R.Nos.14426162,May9,2001,357SCRA677.
[12]
Id.at47.
[13]
Id.at50.
[14]
Id.at54.
[15]
Id.at58.
[16]
Id.at6164.
[17]
Id.at65.
[18]
Id.at74.
[19]
Id.at6.
[20]
DelosReyesv.People,G.R.No.138297,January27,2006,480SCRA294Leev.People,G.R.No.137914,December4,2002,
393 SCRA 398 Yap v. Intermediate Appellate Court, G.R. No. 68464, March 22, 1993, 220 SCRA 245, 253, citing Acharon v.
Purisima,G.R.No.23731,June27,1965,13SCRA309Bulaongv.CourtofAppeals,G.R.No.78555,January30,1990,181SCRA
618.
[21]
Marcelov.DeGuzman,G.R.No.L29077,June29,1982,114SCRA657.
[22]
Gov.CourtofAppeals,G.R.No.128954,October8,1998,297SCRA575.
[23]
G.R.No.L63559,May30,1986,142SCRA171.
[24]
Id.at177179.
[25]
Rollo,pp.4243.
[26]
Id.at810.
[27]
Id.at182.
[28]
Id.at62.
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[29]
PresidentialDecreeNo.1486.
[30]
Section4.Jurisdiction.TheSandiganbayanshallhavejurisdictionover:
(a) Violations of Republic Act No. 3019, as amended, otherwise, known as theAntiGraft and Corrupt Practices Act, and
RepublicActNo.1379
(b) Crimes committed by public officers and employees including those employed in governmentowned or controlled
corporations,embracedinTitleVIIoftheRevisedPenalCode,whethersimpleorcomplexedwithothercrimesand
(c) Other crimes or offenses committed by public officers or employees, including those employed in governmentowned or
controlledcorporations,inrelationtotheiroffice.
Thejurisdictionhereinconferredshallbeoriginalandexclusiveiftheoffensechargedispunishablebyapenaltyhigherthanprision
correccional,oritsequivalent,exceptashereinprovidedinotheroffenses,itshallbeconcurrentwiththeregularcourts.
Incaseprivateindividualsarechargedascoprincipals,accomplicesoraccessorieswiththepublicofficersoremployeesincluding
thoseemployedingovernmentownedorcontrolledcorporations,theyshallbetriedjointlywithsaidpublicofficersandemployees.
Where an accused is tried for any of the above offenses and the evidence is insufficient to establish the offense charged, he may
neverthelessbeconvictedandsentencedfortheoffenseproved,includedinthatwhichischarged.
AnyprovisionoflawortheRulesofCourttothecontrarynotwithstanding,thecriminalactionandthecorrespondingcivilactionfor
the recovery of civil liability arising from the offense charged shall, at all times, be simultaneously instituted with, and jointly
determinedinthesameproceedingby,theSandiganbayan,thefilingofthecriminalactionbeingdeemedtonecessarilycarrywithit
thefilingofthecivilaction,andnorighttoreservethefilingofsuchactionshallberecognizedProvided,however,that,incases
withintheexclusivejurisdictionoftheSandiganbayan,wherethecivilactionhadthereforebeenfiledseparatelywitharegularcourt
butjudgmentthereinhasnotyetbeenrenderedandthecriminalcaseishereafterfiledwiththeSandiganbayan,saidcivilactionshall
betransferredtotheSandiganbayanforconsolidationandjointdeterminationwiththecriminalaction,otherwise,thecriminalaction
may no longer be filed with the Sandiganbayan, its exclusive jurisdiction over the same notwithstanding, but may be filed and
prosecutedonlyintheregularcourtsofcompetentjurisdictionProvided,further,that,incaseswithintheconcurrentjurisdictionofthe
Sandiganbayanandtheregularcourts,whereeitherthecriminalorcivilactionisfirstfiledwiththeregularcourts,thecorresponding
civilorcriminalaction,asthecasemaybe,shallonlybefiledwiththeregularcourtsofcompetentjurisdiction.
Exceptedfromtheforegoingprovisions,duringmartiallaw,arecriminalcasesagainstofficersandmembersofthearmedforcesinthe
activeservice.
[31]
RepublicActNo.3019,Sec.1.
[32]
Id.,Sec.10.
[33]
Peoplev.Rivera,59Phil.236(1933).
[34]
CommissionerofInternalRevenuev.TMXSales,G.R.No.83736,January15,1992,205SCRA184.
[35]
AboitizShippingCorporationv.CityofCebu,G.R.No.L14526,March31,1965,13SCRA449Lopezv.ElHogarFilipino,47
Phil.249(1925)CharteredBankv.Imperial,48Phil.931(1921).
[36]
LoyolaGrandVillasHomeowners(South)v.CourtofAppeals,G.R.No.117188,August7,1997,276SCRA681.
[37]
G.R.Nos.8463739,August2,1989,176SCRA57.
[38]
G.R.Nos.7116365,November9,1990,191SCRA252.
[39]
G.R.No.125296,July20,2006,495SCRA452,458459.
[40]
G.R.No.L30057,January31,1984,127SCRA231,237238.
[41]
430Phil.658(2002).
[42]
Laurelv.Desierto,id.at672673,citingF.R.Mechem,ATreatiseontheLawofPublicOfficesandOfficers,Sec.1.
[43]
G.R.No.158187,February11,2005,451SCRA187.
[44]
PresidentialDecreeNo.1606,Sec.4(A)(1)(g).
[45]
Rollo,p.63.
[46]
Laurelv.Desierto,supranote41,at679680.
[47]
Id.
[48]
Id.
[49]
UniversityofthePhilippinesv.CourtofIndustrialRelations,107Phil.848(1960).
[50]
Id.
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[51]
Lacsonv.ExecutiveSecretary,G.R.No.128096,January20,1999,301SCRA298Limv.Rodrigo,G.R.No.L76974,November
18,1988,167SCRA487.
[52]
Commart(Phils.),Inc.v.Securities&ExchangeCommission,G.R.No.85318,June3,1991,198SCRA73.
[53]
Id.
[54]
Rollo,p.64.
[55]
Adm.CaseNo.1053,September7,1979,93SCRA87.
[56]
Rollo,p.89.
[57]
FarEasternShippingCompanyv.CourtofAppeals,G.R.Nos.130068&130150,October1,1998,297SCRA30,5152Albert
v.CourtofFirstInstanceofManila(Br.VI),G.R.No.L26364,May29,1968,23SCRA948.
[58]
Chavezv.Viola,Adm.CaseNo.2152,April19,1991,196SCRA10.

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