Case Digests

October 17, 2017 | Author: Jeninah Calimlim | Category: Impeachment, Prosecutor, Corporations, Courts Martial In The United States, Jurisdiction
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3. CUENCO vs. FERNAN Facts: Atty. Miguel Cuenco, a former Member of the Philippine House of Representatives from the province of Cebu prayed for judgment ordering the disbarment of Mr. Justice Marcelo B. Fernan, Chairman of the Third Division of the SC. Vito Borromeo died without any forced heirs, but left behind extensive properties. A petition for probate of a one-page document — purportedly the last will and testament of the decedent — was filed with the then Court of First Instance of Cebu. Those instituted under said will as the sole heirs of the late Vito Borromeo were Fortunate, Tomas and Amelia, all surnamed Borromeo. The probate court declared the will to be a forgery. That decision became final after being affirmed by the SC. In the intestacy proceedings that ensued, nine (9) individuals were declared by the trial court as the rightful successors to the decedent Vito Borromeo's estate. During the course of the intestacy proceedings, several petitions were filed with this Court by the parties involved therein. Five of these petitions were consolidated. The Third Division of the Court, through Mr. Justice Hugo E. Gutierrez, Jr., rendered a Decision in the consolidated petitions. Cuenco requested that he be given more time within which to file a motion for reconsideration of the Judge Gutierrez’ decision in the consolidated petitions. This request was granted by the Court's Third Division with the Warning, however, that no further extensions of time would be allowed. The Court, sitting en banc dismissed for lack of merit the two administrative charges filed by Cuenco and Estenzo, respectively, against Judge Francisco P. Burgos, the former trial judge at the Vito Borromeo intestate estate proceedings. Cuenco alleged that: (1) That Fernan, appeared as counsel for the three (3) instituted heirs (Fortunato, Tomas and Amelia) and despite having already accepted his appointment as an Associate Justice of the Court, "continues to be counsel for the instituted heirs;' (2) That Fernan "had exerted personal efforts to assign the Vito Borromeo proceedings to his Office as Chairman of the Third Division to enable him to influence

the decision or the outcome of the Vito Borromeo proceedings " (3) That Fernan "has operated his Office in Cebu City as a Star Chamber to fabricate fake and fictitious heirs of Vito Borromeo," (4) ThatFernan has 'practically abolished and crippled the legitimate functions of the Court of Appeals in CA. knowingly (sic) that the claims for attorney's fees of movant Miguel Cuenco and Judge Fernando Ruiz are pending in the Court of Appeals,' thereby 'render[ing] impossible the payment of Miguel Cuenco's attorney's fees for his services rendered to the Vito Borromeo Estate. (5) That Mr. Justice Fernan's strong and unyielding determination to collect big sums of money in payment of his legal services rendered to his clients' had induced the Honorable Justice, as Chairman of the Court's Third Division, to unduly influence the Members thereof into dismissing Cuenco’s administrative complaint against Judge Burgos (6) That Fernan "had wilfully, persistently, stubbornly and systematically violated his Oath of Office as a lawyer which imposes upon him the duty not to delay any man for money or malice." Ruling: (1) There is nothing in the record of the Vito Borromeo estate proceedings — and Cuenco has failed to point to anything therein — to indicate that Fernan had appeared as counsel in such proceedings representation of instituted heirs and claimants. Mr. Justice Fernan did enter his appearance. The record, however, reveals that Mr. Justice Fernan withdrew as such counsel as. Cuenco has submitted nothing at all to support his accusation that Fernan "continues to be counsel for the instituted heirs." It is entirely clear that Mr. Justice Fernan's professional involvement in such special Proceedings had ceased long before his appointment to the SC. (2) Prior to the appointment of Mr. Justice Fernan to the Court, the aforementioned five (5) consolidated petitions had already been assigned for preliminary study to Mr. Justice Gutierrez, Jr. The subsequent designation of Mr. Justice Fernan as Chairman of the Court's Third Division and the assignment of Mr. Justice Gutierrez along with three other Members of the Court to said Third Division, after the 1987 Constitution went into effect, were determined and carried out by the Chief Justice in accordance with the time-honored procedures followed by the Court in those matters and were, thus,

circumstances of pure coincidence. Justice Gutierrez brought the Vito Borromeo estate cases (and all other pending cases previously assigned to him) along with him to the Third Division of the Court when the third Division was organized in accordance with procedures agreed upon by the Court en banc. Mr. Justice Fernan inhibited himself from participating in the deliberations on the Vito Borromeo estate cases and, in fact, did not take part in the resolution thereof; this was made explicit by the annotation appearing beside his signature: "No part — I appeared as counsel for one of the parties". This express statement on the record has been totally ignored by complainant Cuenco. (3) Justice Fernan could not have fabricated fake and fictitious heirs Vito Borromeo." The Court is unable to see how Justice Fernan could have had any control or influence over the actions of the instituted heirs when said heirs claimed rights of ownership over the aforementioned thirteen (13) parcels of land and sought to exclude them from the estate of the decedent. (4) The "legitimate functions" of the Court of Appeals in C.A. G.R. No. 08093 — where complainant Cuenco has filed a claim for payment of attorney's fees — have not been abolished and crippled" by the mere fact that the maximum amounts, expressed in a percentage of the market value of the distributive shares received from the estate, of attorney's fees had been determined and set by the SC. The Court is unable to see how payment of Cuenco's attorney's fees for services rendered in the Vito Borromeo estate case has been "rendered impossible;' while final settlement of the decedent's estate may have to be awaited, payment of such fees may nevertheless be expected in due course.

written Appearance and Motion to Withdraw as Counsel and stressed that he had ceased a long time ago to act as counsel for the two Borromeos mentioned earlier and that he did not in any way take part in the deliberations and decision. By a telegram, Cuenco asked for leave to file a "Clarificatory Memorandum based on official court records already filed in Supreme Court before and after Honorable Fernan was appointed Justice of the Supreme Court. The Court granted Cuenco’s leave to file a "Clarificatory Memorandum" within a non-extendible period of ten (1 0) days from notice thereof. To date, no memorandum has been filed by complainant Cuenco. The Court received from Cuenco a telegram, where it appears that Cuenco believes that he is preparing a memorandum addressing, not the administrative charges he has preferred against Justice Fernan, but rather the merits of the consolidated petitions. There appears no reason therefore why the Court should entertain this second request of complainant Cuenco. There is another reason why the complaint for disbarment here must be dismissed. Members of the Supreme Court must, under Article VIII (7) (1) of the Constitution, be members of the Philippine Bar and may be removed from office only by impeachment (Article XI [2], Constitution). To grant a complaint for disbarment of a Member of the Court during the Member's incumbency, would in effect be to circumvent and hence to ran afoul of the constitutional mandate that Members of the Court may be removed from office only by impeachment for and conviction of certain offenses listed in Article XI (2) of the Constitution. 5. OFFICE OF THE OMBUDSMAN vs. CA

(5) Cuenco charged Judge Burgos with "gross incompetence and manifest negligence" for allegedly having intentionally delayed settlement of the estate of the late Vito Borromeo. The SC, having found that the delay complained of was caused by several factors beyond the control of respondent judge, dismissed that complaint for lack of merit. (6) There is no in the record, other than the undocumented assertions of complainant Cuenco, that would suggest that Mr. Justice Fernan has violated his oath of office as a lawyer. Cuenco has offered not a shred of evidence to support his serious accusations against Mr. Justice Fernan. Justice Fernan made a statement to the Court en banc and embodied that in a Memorandum given to the Members of the Court that he invited attention to his

Facts: The case had its inception when twenty-two officials and employees of the Office of the Deputy Ombudsman (OMB) for the Visayas, led by its two directors, filed a formal complaint with the Office of the Ombudsman requesting an investigation on the basis of allegations that then Deputy Ombudsman for the Visayas, private respondent Arturo Mojica, committed the following: 1. Sexual harassment against Rayvi Padua-Varona; 2. Mulcting money from confidential employees James Alueta and Eden Kiamco; and 3. Oppression against all employees in not releasing the P7,200.00 benefits of OMB-Visayas employees. The complaints in Criminal Case No. OMB-0-00-0615 and Administrative Case No. OMB-ADM-0-00-0316, were dismissed.

Thereupon, the Office of the Ombudsman filed before this Court “a petition for review on certiorari under Rule 45 of the 1997 Rules of Civil Procedure, and alternatively, an original special civil action for certiorari under Sec. 1, Rule 65 of the same rules. Issue: Is the Deputy Ombudsman an impeachable officer under Section 2, Article XI of the 1987 Constitution? Ruling: The 1987 Constitution, the deliberations thereon, and the opinions of constitutional law experts all indicate that the Deputy Ombudsman is not an impeachable officer. The court has likewise taken into account the commentaries of the leading legal luminaries on the Constitution as to their opinion on whether or not the Deputy Ombudsman is impeachable. All of them agree in unison that the impeachable officers enumerated in Section 2, Article XI of the 1986 Constitution is exclusive. In their belief, only the Ombudsman, not his deputies, is impeachable. The impeachable officers are the President of the Philippines, the Vice-President, the members of the Supreme Court, the members of the Constitutional Commissions, and the Ombudsman. (see Art. XI, Sec. 2) The list is exclusive and may not be increased or reduced by legislative enactment. The rule that an impeachable officer cannot be criminally prosecuted for the same offenses which constitute grounds for impeachment presupposes his continuance in office.Hence, the moment he is no longer in office because of his removal, resignation, or permanent disability, there can be no bar to his criminal prosecution in the courts. Nor does retirement bar an administrative investigation from proceeding against the private respondent, given that, as pointed out by the petitioner, the former’s retirement benefits have been placed on hold in view of the provisions of Sections 12 and 13 of the Anti-Graft and Corrupt Practices Act. 8. CORONA vs. SENATE OF THE PHILIPPINES Facts: Before this Court is a petition for certiorari and prohibition with prayer for immediate issuance of temporary restraining order (TRO) andwrit of preliminary injunction filed by the former Chief Justice of this Court, Renato C. Corona, assailing the impeachment case initiatedby the respondent Members of the House of Representatives (HOR) and trial being conducted by respondent Senate of thePhilippines. The present petition was filed arguing that the Impeachment Court committed grave abuse of discretion amounting to lack or excess of jurisdiction when it: (1) proceeded to trial on the basis of the complaint filed by respondent Representatives which complaint is constitutionally infirm and defective for lack of probable cause; (2) did not strike out the charges discussed in Art. II of the complaint which, aside from being a hodgepodge of

multiple charges, do not constitute allegations in law, much less ultimate facts, being all premised on suspicion and/or hearsay; assuming arguendo that the retention of Par. 2.3 is correct, the ruling of the Impeachment Court to retain Par. 2.3 effectively allows the introduction of evidence under Par. 2.3, as vehicle to prove Par. 2.4 and therefore its earlier resolution was nothing more than a hollow relief, bringing no real protection to petitioner; (3) allowed the presentation of evidence on charges of alleged corruption and unexplained wealth which violates petitioner‘s right to due process because first, Art. II does not mention ―graft and corruption or unlawfully acquired wealth as grounds for impeachment, and second, it is clear under Sec. 2, Art. XI of the Constitution that ―graft and corruption‖ is a separate and distinct ground from ―culpable violation of the Constitution and ―betrayal of public trust; and (4) issued the subpoena for the production of petitioner‘s alleged bank accounts as requested by the prosecution despite the same being the result of an illegal act (―fruit of the poisonous tree) considering that those documents submitted by the prosecution violates the absolute confidentiality of such accounts under Sec. 8 of R.A. No. 6426 (Foreign Currency Deposits Act) whichis also penalized under Sec. 10 thereof. Issue: Had the constitutional issues raised in this case been mooted out? Ruling: more than the required majority vote of the Senator-Judges had concluded the impeachment trial with the conviction of petitioner. Petitioner immediately accepted the verdict and without any protest vacated his office. In fact, the Judicial and Bar Council is already in the process of screening applicants and nominees, and the President of the Philippines is expected to appoint a new Chief Justice within the prescribed 90-day period from among those candidates shortlisted by the JBC. Unarguably, the constitutional issue raised by petitioner had been mooted by supervening events and his own acts. An issue or a case becomes moot and academic when it ceases to present a justiciable controversy so that a determination thereof would be without practical use and value. In such cases, there is no actual substantial relief to which the petitioner would be entitled to and which would be negated by the dismissal of the petition. 9. PEOPLE vs. SANDIGANBAYAN Facts: two separate information for violation of Section 3(e) of the Anti-Graft and Corrupt Practices Act, were filed with the Sandiganbayan against Efren L. Alas. The charges emanated from the alleged anomalous advertising contracts entered into by Alas, in his capacity as President and Chief Operating Officer of the Philippine Postal Savings Bank (PPSB), with Bagong

Buhay Publishing Company, which purportedly caused damage and prejudice to the government. The respondent court ruled that PPSB was a private corporation and that its officers, particularly herein respondent Alas, did not fall under Sandiganbayan jurisdiction. Indeed, it is the basic thrust of Republic Act as well as PD No. 1606 as amended by PD No. 1486 and RA No. 7975 and RA No. 8249 that the Sandiganbayan has jurisdiction only over public officers unless private persons are charged with them in the commission of the offenses. The records disclosed that while PPSB is a subsidiary of the Philippine Postal Corporation which is a government owned corporation, the same is not created by a special law. It was organized and incorporated under the Corporation Code, which is Batas Pambansa Blg. 68. It was registered with the Securities and Exchange Commission. Under its Articles of Incorporation the purpose for which said entity is formed was primarily for business. Likewise, a scrutiny of the seven (7) secondary purposes of the corporation points to the conclusion that it exists for business. Obviously, it is not involved in the performance of a particular function in the exercise of government power. Thus, its officers and employees are not covered by the GSIS and are under the SSS law, and actions for reinstatement and backwages are not within the jurisdiction of the Civil Service Commission but by the National Labor Relations Commission (NLRC). [Jurisprudence:

(1) The Civil Service now covers only government owned or controlled corporations with original or legislative charters, those created by an act of Congress or by special law, and not those incorporated under and pursuant to a general legislation. The Highest Court categorically ruled that the Civil Service does not include government-owned or controlled corporation which are organized as subsidiaries of government-owned or controlled corporation under the general corporation law. (2) The test in determining whether a government-owned or controlled corporation is subject to the Civil Service Law is the manner of its creation such that government corporation created by special charter are subject to its provision while those incorporated under the general corporation law are not within its coverage.

(3) By government-owned or controlled corporation with original charter we mean government-owned or controlled corporation created by a special law and not under the Corporation Code of the Philippines. While a public officer has been ruled, as a person whose duties involve the exercise of discretion in the performance of the function of government.] Clearly, on the basis of the foregoing pronouncements of the Supreme Court, the accused herein cannot be considered a public officer. Thus, this Court may not exercise jurisdiction over his act. Dissatisfied, the People, through the Office of the Special Prosecutor (OSP), filed this petition arguing, in essence, that the PPSB was a government-owned or controlled corporation as the term was defined under Section 2(13) of the Administrative Code of 1987. Likewise, in further defining the jurisdiction of the Sandiganbayan, RA 8249 did not make a distinction as to the manner of creation of the government-owned or controlled corporations for their officers to fall under its jurisdiction. Hence, being President and Chief Operating Officer of the PPSB at the time of commission of the crimes charged, respondent Alas came under the jurisdiction of the Sandiganbayan. Issue: Does the Sandiganbayan have jurisdiction over presidents, directors or trustees, or managers of government-owned or controlled corporations organized and incorporated under the Corporation Code for purposes of the provisions of RA 3019, otherwise known as the Anti-Graft and Corrupt Practices Act? Ruling: Section 2(13) of EO 292 defines governmentowned or controlled corporations as follows: Sec. 2. General Terms Defined Unless the specific words of the text or the context as a whole or a particular statute, shall require a different meaning: government owned or controlled corporations refer to any agency organized as a stock or non-stock corporation vested with functions relating to public needs whether governmental or proprietary in nature, and owned by the government directly or indirectly or through its instrumentalities either wholly, or where applicable as in the case of stock corporations to the extent of at least 51% of its capital stock: provided, that government owned or controlled corporations maybe further categorized by the department of the budget, the civil service commission and the commission on audit for the purpose of the exercise and discharge of their respective

powers, functions and responsibilities with respect to such corporations. From the foregoing, PPSB fits the bill as a governmentowned or controlled corporation, and organized and incorporated under the Corporation Code as a subsidiary of the Philippine Postal Corporation (PHILPOST). More than 99% of the authorized capital stock of PPSB belongs to the government while the rest is nominally held by its incorporators who are/were themselves officers of PHILPOST. The creation of PPSB was expressly sanctioned by Section 32 of the Postal Service Act of 1992, for purposes of, among others, to encourage and promote the virtue of thrift and the habit of savings among the general public, especially the youth and the marginalized sector in the countryside and to facilitate postal service by receiving collections and making payments, including postal money orders. It is not disputed that the Sandiganbayan has jurisdiction over presidents, directors or trustees, or managers of government-owned or controlled corporations with original charters whenever charges of graft and corruption are involved. However, a question arises whether the Sandiganbayan has jurisdiction over the same officers in government-owned or controlled corporations organized and incorporated under the Corporation Code in view of the delimitation provided for in Article IX-B Section 2(1) of the 1987 Constitution which states that: SEC. 2. (1) The Civil Service embraces all branches, subdivisions, instrumentalities, and agencies of the government, including government-owned or controlled corporations with original charters. It should be pointed out however, that the jurisdiction of the Sandiganbayan is separate and distinct from the Civil Service Commission. The same is governed by Article XI, Section 4 of the 1987 Constitution which provides that the present anti-graft court known as the Sandiganbayan shall continue to function and exercise its jurisdiction as now or hereafter may be provided by law. This provision, in effect, retained the jurisdiction of the anti-graft court as defined under Article XIII, Section 5 of the 1973 Constitution which mandated its creation, thus:

Sec. 5. The Batasang Pambansa shall create a special court, to be known as Sandiganbayan, which shall have jurisdiction over criminal and civil cases involving graft and corrupt practices and such other offense committed by public officers and employees, including those in government-owned or controlled corporations, in relation to their office as may be determined by law. (Italics ours) Congress, pursuant to its authority vested under the 1987 Constitution, enacted RA 7975 maintaining the jurisdiction of the Sandiganbayan over presidents, directors or trustees, or managers of government-owned or controlled corporations without any distinction whatsoever. Thereafter, on February 5, 1997, Congress enacted RA 8249, which preserved the subject provision: The legislature, in mandating the inclusion of presidents, directors or trustees, or managers of government-owned or controlled corporations within the jurisdiction of the Sandiganbayan, has consistently refrained from making any distinction with respect to the manner of their creation. The deliberate omission clearly reveals the intention of the legislature to include the presidents, directors or trustees, or managers of both types of corporations within the jurisdiction of the Sandiganbayan whenever they are involved in graft and corruption. Had it been otherwise, it could have simply made the necessary distinction. But it did not. It is a basic principle of statutory construction that when the law does not distinguish, we should not distinguish. Ubi lex non distinguit nec nos distinguere debemos. Corollarily, Article XI Section 12 of the 1987 Constitution, on the jurisdiction of the Ombudsman (the governments prosecutory arm against persons charged with graft and corruption), includes officers and employees of government-owned or controlled. 11. GONZALES vs. OFFICE OF THE PRESIDENT Congress; power to determine modes of removal from office of public officers; must be consistent with the core constitutional principle of independence of the Office of the Ombudsman. The intent of the framers of the Constitution in providing that “all other public officers and employees may be removed from office as provided by law, but not by impeachment” in the second sentence of Section 2, Article XI is to prevent Congress from extending the more stringent rule of “removal only by impeachment” to favoured public officers. Contrary to the implied view of the minority, in no way can this provision be regarded as blanket authority for Congress to provide

for any ground of removal it deems fit. While the manner and cause of removal are left to congressional determination, this must still be consistent with constitutional guarantees and principles, namely: the right to procedural and substantive due process; the constitutional guarantee of security of tenure; the principle of separation of powers; and the principle of checks and balances. The authority granted by the Constitution to Congress to provide for the manner and cause of removal of all other public officers and employees does not mean that Congress can ignore the basic principles and precepts established by the Constitution. 12. UY vs. SANDIGANBAYAN Facts: In Uy vs Sandiganbayan [G.R. Nos. 105965-70. August 9, 1999], petitioner Uy, who was Deputy Comptroller of the Philippine navy and designated as Assistant Chief of Naval Staff for Comptrollership was charged with estafa through falsification of official documents and violation of RA 3019. The petitioner filed a motion to quash, arguing that the Sandiganbayan had no jurisdiction over the offense charged and that the Ombudsman and the Special Prosecutor had no authority to file the offense. The court ruled that : (1) It is the court-martial, not the Sandiganbayan, which has jurisdiction to try petitioner since he was a regular officer of the Armed Forces of the Philippines, and fell squarely under Article 2 of the Articles of War mentioned in Section 1(b) of P.D. 1850, “Providing for the trial by courts-martial of members of the Integrated National Police and further defining the jurisdiction of courtsmartial over members of the Armed Forces of the Philippines” (2) As to the violations of Republic Act No. 3019, the petitioner does not fall within the “rank” requirement stated in Section 4 of the Sandiganbayan Law, thus, exclusive jurisdiction over petitioner is vested in the regular courts , as amended by R.A. No. 8249, which states that “In cases where none of the accused are occupying positions corresponding to Salary Grade ‘27’ or higher, as prescribed in the said Republic Act No. 6758, or military and PNP officers mentioned above, exclusive original jurisdiction thereof shall be vested in the proper regional trial court, metropolitan trial court, municipal trial court, and municipal circuit trial court, as the case may be, pursuant to their respective jurisdictions as provided in Batas Pambansa Blg. 129, as amended.” In this connection, it is the prosecutor, not the Ombudsman, who has the authority to file the

corresponding information/s against petitioner in the regional trial court. The Ombudsman exercises prosecutorial powers only in cases cognizable by the Sandiganbayan. In February 20, 2000, a motion for clarification which in fact appeared to be a partial motion for reconsideration was filed by the Ombudsman and the Special Prosecutor filed, which was denied. The instant case is a Motion for Further Clarification filed by Ombudsman Aniano A. Desierto of the Court's ruling in its decision dated August 9, 1999 and resolution dated February 22, 2000. Issue: Whether or not the prosecutory power of the Ombudsman extends only to cases cognizable by the Sandiganbayan and that the Ombudsman has no authority to prosecute cases falling within the jurisdiction of regular courts. Ruling: No. The Ombudsman is clothed with authority to conduct preliminary investigation and to prosecute all criminal cases involving public officers and employees, not only those within the jurisdiction of the Sandiganbayan, but those within the jurisdiction of the regular courts as well. The power to investigate and to prosecute granted by law to the Ombudsman is plenary and unqualified. It pertains to any act or omission of any public officer or employee when such act or omission appears to be illegal, unjust, improper or inefficient . The law does not make a distinction between cases cognizable by the Sandiganbayan and those cognizable by regular courts. It has been held that the clause "any illegal act or omission of any public official" is broad enough to embrace all kinds of malfeasance, misfeasance and non-feasance committed by public officers and employees during their tenure of office. The exercise by the Ombudsman of his primary jurisdiction over cases cognizable by the Sandiganbayan is not incompatible with the discharge of his duty to investigate and prosecute other offenses committed by public officers and employees. The prosecution of offenses committed by public officers and employees is one of the most important functions of the Ombudsman. In passing RA 6770, the Congress deliberately endowed the Ombudsman with such power to make him a more active and effective agent of the people in ensuring accountability in public office. Even a perusal of the law (PD 1630) originally creating the Office of the Ombudsman then (to be known as the Tanodbayan), and the amendatory laws issued subsequent thereto will show that, at its inception, the Office of the Ombudsman was already vested with the power to investigate and prosecute civil and criminal cases before the Sandiganbayan and even the regular courts.

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