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CASE DIGEST: Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo vs.

People of the Philippines and the

Sandiganbayan, G. R. No. 220598, 19 July 2016


On July 10, 2012, the Ombudsman charged in the Sandiganbayan former

President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo (GMA) and PCSO Budget and Accounts
Manager Aguas (and some other officials of PCSO and Commission on Audit
whose charges were later dismissed by the Sandiganbayan after their
respective demurrers to evidence were granted, except for Uriarte and
Valdes who were at large) for conspiracy to commit plunder.

The Sandiganbayan acquired jurisidiction over most of the accused,

including petitioners. All filed petitions for bail, which the Sandiganbayan
granted except those of the petitioners. Their motions for reconsideration
were denied. GMA assailed the denial of her petition for bail before the
Supreme Court. However, this remains unresolved.

After the Prosecution rested its case, the accused separately filed their
demurrers to evidence asserting that the Prosecution did not establish a
case for plunder against them.

The Sandiganbayan granted the demurrers and dismissed the case against
the accused within its jurisdiction, except for petitioners and Valencia. It
held that there was sufficient evidence showing that they had conspired to
commit plunder.

Petitioners filed this case before the Supreme Court on certiorari before the
Supreme Court to assail the denial of their demurrers to evidence, on the
ground of grave abuse of discretion amounting to lack or excess of


Whether or not the special civil action for certiorari is proper to assail the
denial of the demurrers to evidence.

Yes. The petition for certiorari of GMA was improper to challenge the denial
of her demurrer to evidence.

The special civil action for certiorari is generally not proper to assail such an
interlocutory order issued by the trial court because of the availability of
another remedy in the ordinary course of law.

Section 23, Rule 119 of the Rules of Court expressly provides that “the order
denying the motion for leave of court to file demurrer to evidence or the
demurrer itself shall not be reviewable by appeal or by certiorari before

“In the exercise of our superintending control over other courts, we are to
be guided by all the circumstances of each particular case ‘as the ends of
justice may require.’ So it is that the writ will be granted where necessary to
prevent a substantial wrong or to do substantial” (citing Ong v. People [G.R.
No. 140904, October 9, 2000]).

WHEREFORE, the Court GRANTS the petitions for certiorari; ANNULS and
SETS ASIDE the resolutions issued in Criminal Case No. SB-12-CRM-0174
by the Sandiganbayan on April 6, 2015 and September 10, 2015; GRANTS
the petitioners’ respective demurrers to evidence; DISMISSES Criminal
Case No. SB-12-CRM-0174 as to the petitioners GLORIA
MACAPAGAL-ARROYO and BENIGNO AGUAS for insufficiency of evidence;
ORDERS the immediate release from detention of said petitioners; and
MAKES no pronouncements on costs of suit.