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Rodrigo v.

Sandiganbayan
G.R. No. 125498
February 18, 1999
Article 3
FACTS:
Petitioners Mayor Conrado Rodrigo and Municipal Planning and Development Coordinator,
Reynaldo Mejica of San Nicolas, Pangasinan, while Alejandro Facundo is the former Municipal
Treasurer. Represented by Mayor Rodrigo, the Municipality of San Nicolas entered into an
agreement with Philwood Construction represented by Larry Lu, for the electrification of Brgy.
Caboloan, San Nicolas for P486,386.18, on June 15, 1992. Eventually Mejica prepared an
Accomplishment Report stating that the project was 97.5% accomplished, which was supposedly
approved by mayor Rodrigo and confirmed by Larry Lu. P452,825.53 was then paid by Facundo to
Philwood.
On August 14, 1993, petitioners received a Notice of Disallowance from the Provincial Auditor
of Pangasinan who found that as per COA evaluation of the project, only 60.0171% of the project
(P291,915.07) was actually accomplished. He thus disallowed the amount of P160,910.46.
Petitioners requested the to lift the notice of disallowance and for a re-inspection, attaching a
Certificate of Acceptance and Completion. The Provincial Auditor did not act on their requests and
eventually filed a criminal complaint for estafa before the Ombudsman against the petitioners. Acting
Ombudsman Villa approved the filing of an information against petitioners for violation of RA 3019
before the Sandiganbayan, so the petitioners filed a motion for reinvestigation. The Office of the
Special Prosecutor issued a memorandum recommending that the charges against petitioners be
maintained which the Ombudsman approved. Petitioners thereafter filed before the Sandiganbayan a
motion to quash the information alleging that (1) the facts alleged in the information did not
constitute an offense, and (2) the same information charged more than one offense. They faulted the
Provincial Auditor for instituting the complaint against them when their opposition to the notice of
disallowance is still pending. This was denied and as the prosecution moved to suspend petitioners
pendent lite, they opposed it by alleging that the Sandiganbayan lacks jurisdiction over them which
was again denied.
ISSUE(S):
1. Whether petitioners right to due process was violated by the filing of the complaint against
them by the Provincial Auditor.
2. Whether the Ombudsman committed grave abuse of discretion in filing the information
against petitioners.
3. Whether or not the Sandiganbayan has jurisdiction over them.
HELD:
1. No.
Petitioners primarily oppose the institution by the Provincial Auditor of the complaint despite the
pendency of their opposition to the notice of disallowance, violating their right to due process. Based
on Section 44.6.4 of the State Audit Manual, it shall be the responsibility of the auditor to exercise
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professional judgment in evaluating the grounds for a charge of suspension or disallowance of an


account or transaction for the purpose of lifting the suspension or extending the time to answer
beyond the 90 day period prior to its conversion into a disallowance. Thus, the auditor may disallow
an expenditure/transaction which is unlawful or improper or defer action to credit pending
compliance with requirements through suspension. Petitioners misinterpreted Section 44.6.4. They
were not charged with suspension but disallowance. Second, the written explanation referred to in
said section is for the purpose of lifting the suspension or extending the time to answer beyond the 90
day period prior to its conversion into a disallowance, not for contesting a disallowance. Clearly
Section 44.6.4 is inapplicable.
According to Sections 55 and 56 of Commission on Audit Circular No. 85-156-B as respondents
invoke, the Provincial Auditor has the duty to file a complaint before the Ombudsman when, from
the evidence obtained during the audit he is convinced that criminal prosecution is warranted. He
does not need to resolve the opposition to the notice of disallowance and the motion for re-inspection
pending in his office, as long as he finds sufficient grounds. The right to due process of the
respondents to the complaint is not impaired for they will still have the opportunity to confront the
accusations contained in the complaint during the preliminary investigation.
2. No.
The Court ruled that it has maintained a consistent policy of non-interference in the
determination of the Ombudsman regarding the existence of probable cause, provided there is no
grave abuse of discretion. This policy is based on the respect for the powers granted by the
Constitution to the Ombudsman, and also on practicality. It is inefficient to deal with numerous
petitions assailing the dismissal of investigatory proceedings conducted by the Ombudsman with
regard to complaints filed before it. Their dockets would be extremely hampered if they can be
compelled to review the exercise of discretion on the part of the fiscals or prosecuting attorneys each
time they decide to file an information in court or dismiss a complaint by a private complainant.
3. Yes.
Petitioners assert that the Sandiganbayan only has original and exclusive jurisdiction over those
with a salary grade of 27 or higher, and the Mayor Rodrigos position has a salary grade of 24.
Although the position of the Municipal Mayor was not specifically indicated as one of the positions
the Sandiganbayan has jurisdiction over, the Congress provided a catch-all provision: All other
national and local officials classified as Grade 27 and higher under the Compensation and Position
Classification Act of 1989, which includes the Municipal Mayor. In addition to that, the interpretation
of the petitioners of the law is incorrect. The salary grade is determined by the Grade accorded his
position and by the nature of his position, the level of difficulty and responsibilities and level of
qualification requirements of the work.

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