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Laurel v. Desierto (G.R.

145368 / 12 April 2002) IN RE: In Relation to Public Office; Sandiganbayan


In 1991, then President Aquino created a Committee tasked with the preparation for the National Centennial Celebration. Subsequently, then President Ramos reconstituted the Committee and renamed it the National Centennial Commission, to which petitioner Laurel was appointed chair, thereof. Eventually, the construction and operation of the Centennial project were met with controversies, which prompted then President Estrada to create a committee to investigate the same. Reports were then sent to the Office of the Ombudsman, whereby the latter would recommend that filing of a complaint against the chair, among others. Petitioner now assails the jurisdiction of the Ombudsman. First, it must be noted that while the Ombudsman has primary jurisdiction over cases cognizable by the Sandiganbayan, such import does not necessarily imply the exclusion from its jurisdiction of cases involving public officers and employees. It must be stressed that the powers of the Ombudsman are very broad and encompass all kinds of malfeasance, misfeasance and non-feasance committed by public officers and employees during their tenure. This not only covers those with the government, but also that within any of the latters subdivision, agency or instrumentality or even GOCCs. On the issue of the NCC as a public office, it must be noted that the enabling law of the latter grants the same the power to perform executive functions. These functions include, among others, the promotion of industrialization and full employment, among others, which is a sovereign function in itself. As according to Mechem, the characteristics of a public office include, among others, the delegation of sovereign functions. Further, it must be created by law. Such applies with the NCC; hence, the same being a public office, its chair, then, must be considered a public officer.
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Buaya v. Polo (G.R. 75079 / 26 January 1989) IN RE: Determined by Allegations of Complaint Petitioner was an insurance agent of respondent Country Bankers who was authorized to transact and underwrite insurance business and collect premiums. At one point, an audit revealed shortages in the petitioners account. This prompted the filing of a charge of Estafa with the RTC of Manila. Petitioner now challenges the jurisdiction of the RTC. Well-settled is the rule that the averments in the complaint or information characterize the crime to be prosecuted. Jurisprudence had held that in order to determine a courts jurisdiction, the allegations in the complaint or information must be examined and not by waiting for the court where it was filed to conclude its findings during a trial. In this case, the information charges the petitioner with estafa committed during the period of 1980 to June 15, 1982 inclusive in the City of Manila On this note, it is clear that it is the RTC of Manila which has jurisdiction over the case filed.

People v. Lagon (G.R. 45815 / 18 May 1990) IN RE: Determined by Allegations of Complaint On 7 July 1976, an information for estafa was filed against accused Lagon for allegedly issuing a check for payment of goods without having sufficient funds. The city court of Roxas, however, dismissed the information for the very reason that the penalty prescribed for crime charged had become beyond the latter courts authority to impose. It appears that when the crime was committed (April 1975), the law vested the city court with jurisdiction. However, by the time the information was filed (July 1976), P.D. 818 increased the penalty for the same. Well-settled is the doctrine that the subject matter jurisdiction of a court in criminal law matters is properly measured by the law in effect at the time of the commencement of a criminal action, rather than by the law in effect at the time of the commission of the offense charged. In this regard, considering the passage of P.D. 818, jurisdiction of the case now pertained to the CFI of Roxas and not with the city court.

Francisco v. CA (G.R. L-45674 / 30 May 1983) IN RE: Prescription A case for intriguing against honor was filed by one Dr. Angeles against accused Dr. Francisco and Bernardino with the Office of the Provincial Fiscal, which was later on changed to grave oral defamation by latter in an information filed by same. Both accused were convicted thereof. On appeal, the CA modified the crime into simple slander. Eventually, Bernardino died and the case against Dr. Francisco was elevated to the SC. Accused argues that the CAs modification served as to acquit him of the charges for the simple reason that the lesser offense of simple slander had already prescribed. While the accused was correct insofar as the lesser offense of simple slander includible in the offense charged can no longer be applied to him by reason of prescription, Art. 91 of the RPC, as well as jurisprudence, provides that the filing of a complaint, regardless if it is with the Fiscals office or with the court, interrupts the period of prescription. On this note, whether the court counts 2 months (simple slander) or 6 months (grave oral defamation) is immaterial since the crime committed still falls within the period (the offense was committed on 26 December 1965 and was filed with the Office of the Fiscal on 3 February 1966). Still, the accused cannot be convicted since the statements imputed were clearly not libellous per se; at the most, such statements were merely criticism of one doctor to another, to which is not necessarily libellous.

Sanchez v. Demetrio (G.R. 111771-77 / 9 November 1993) IN RE: Motion for Inclusion Petitioner Mayor Sanchez is being prosecuted for the rape-slay of Mary Sarmenta, inter alia. A motion to quash was filed by the same and, having been denied, elevated the same via petition for certiorari. Petitioner raises the following (inter alia): (1) the RTC never acquired jurisdiction over him by reason of the illegality of his arrest; (2) the information(s) is/are discriminatory for not including Alqueza and Lavadia. First, the Court held that Petitioners circumstance of being taken to Camp Vicente Lim constitutes an arrest. This being the case, though such arrest does not come within the purview of warrantless arrests, the Court maintains that the RTC lawfully acquired jurisdiction over Petitioner by reason of the subsequent warrant of arrest issued by Judge Lanzanas in connection with RA 6731. Pending the issuance of the warrant in connection with the rape case, the warrant issued served as the initial justification for Petitioners detention. Furthermore, the Court had ruled before that the issuance of a subsequent warrant will cure the defect of illegal detainment. Second, the prosecuting officer cannot be compelled to include in the information persons whom he/she believes are not guilty. If there was grave abuse of discretion on the part of the prosecuting officer, mandamus may lie but the petitioner, thereto, must first seek a motion for inclusion before resorting to the latter relief.

Crespo v. Mogul (G.R. L-53373 / 30 June 1987) IN RE: Control by Court An information for estafa was filed against petitioner Crespo. When the case was set for arraignment, accused filed a motion to defer (on the ground of a pending petition with the Secretary of Justice), but was denied. Upon petition to the CA, the lower court was directed to refrain from therefrom. Eventually, the pending petition for review with the Secretary was resolved, thereby ordering the Provincial Fiscal to move for the dismissal of the information. Such motion by the same, however, was denied by the lower court. Petitioner Crespo files a petition for review with the SC. While it is a cardinal principle that all criminal actions shall be prosecuted under the direction and control of the fiscal, the same it not without any limitation or control. Among others, the powers of the fiscal in relation to his/her power to determine whether a prima facie case that warrants prosecution exists terminates upon the filing of the information in the proper court. In other words, once filed in court, any disposition of the case (dismissal, conviction or acquittal) rests with the sound discretion of the court. Though endowed with discretionary powers, the fiscal cannot impose his opinion on the court for it is the latter which is the best and sole judge of the case filed with it. A motion to dismiss, even if filed by the fiscal, must still await the decision of the court.

Perez v. Hagonoy (G.R. 126210 / 9 March 2000) IN RE: Control by Court Petitioner was employed by respondent Bank. Sometime later, an audit of the respondent Banks financial affairs revealed several anomalies. For this reason, Respondent Bank filed a complaint for estafa against Petitioner, inter alia. Eventually, petitioner filed a petition for review with the Secretary of Justice which subsequently ruled that the prosecutor should now cause the dismissal of the complaint against Petitioner, et al. When a motion to dismiss was filed, the lower court granted the same. The present petition now alleges grave abuse of discretion against the lower court judge. Having granted the dismissal on the basis solely of the recommendation of the Secretary, the judge, indeed, acted with grave abuse of discretion. The fact that the judge did not make an independent evaluation or assessment of the merits of the case is evident in its order granting the dismissal. To the Court, such act was a blatant violation of the Courts pronouncement in the case of Crespo v. Mogul.

Sta. Rosa Mining v. Zabala (G.R. L-44723 / 31 August 1987) IN RE: Control by Court A complaint for attempted theft was filed by petitioner against private respondents Alapan, et al with the Office of the Provincial Fiscal. Thereafter, the said office recommended the filing of an information and, soon, the same was filed with the lower court. Eventually, the Secretary of Justice reversed the Provincial Fiscal and directed the same to cause the dismissal of the case. Two motions for dismissal were submitted but both were denied by the lower court. For this reason, the respondent Fiscal manifested that he would not prosecute the case and he will not allow any private prosecutor to do the same. Petitioner, thus, files a mandamus. While Fiscals are given discretionary powers in relation to the filing of information, inter alia, it must be noted that once an information is filed in court, Fiscals become unclothed with the power to dismiss criminal actions for, in such cases, it is now the court which vested with such power. Additionally, it must also be noted that, notwithstanding his/her personal convictions or opinions, a Fiscal must, still, proceed with his/her duties. Mere denial of his/her motion to dismiss cannot serve as a valid justification for his/her refusal to prosecute.

People v. CFI Quezon (G.R. 46772 / 13 February 1992) IN RE: Sufficiency of Complaint or Information Private Respondents Arrozal and Flores were charged with the crime of qualified theft of logs under Sec. 68 of P.D. 705. Thereafter, the accused filed a motion to quash on the ground that, inter alia, the charge does not constitute an offense. For this reason, the lower court dismissed the information; thus, a petition was filed directly to this Court. The sufficiency of the information hinges on the question of whether the facts alleged meet the essential elements of the offense defined in the law. In this case, the elements of the crime alleged are (1) that the accused cut, gathered, collected or removed timber; (2) that such belonged to the government or to any private individual; and (3) that the acts thereof was without authority under a license or permit (inter alia). This Court rules that the failure to allege that the logs were owned by the government is not fatal. Under the P.D., ownership is not an essential element of the offense; therefore, such failure to allege the true owner thereof is immaterial and the fact it was alleged that the taking was without authority or license from the government is sufficient.

People v. Asuncion (G.R. L-80066 / 24 May 1988) IN RE: Sufficiency of Complaint or Information Private respondent Abadilla was charged with illegal possession of firearms under P.D. 1866. Upon his motion, the lower court dismissed the information on the ground of insufficiency of facts so as to constitute an offense. Having been denied reconsideration, the present petition was filed. Petitioner claims, inter alia, that the failure to allege in the information the fact that the firearms were brought out of residence or were used by the accused in the commission of an offense are not fatal to the information; the same being not essential to the crime charged. In several cases involving firearms and ammunition, jurisprudence had held that the use of or the carrying of firearms and ammunition was essential to the offense, that is, such were the very acts that were punishable (subject to certain conditions); hence, the same should be alleged and proved. The apparent failure to do so cannot give rise to a valid information. On this note, a subsequent presentation of evidence cannot serve as to validate the defective information for, in the eyes of the law, there never was an information in the first place.

Ilo v. CA (G.R. L-11241 / 26 July 1960) IN RE: Sufficiency of Complaint or Information Petitioner, et al., were charged with and found guilty of the crime of arson under Art. 321, par. 5 of the RPC. On appeal, the CA held that, while still guilty, it is par. 1 of the same article which should apply. Petitioners counsel, however, elevated the case; arguing that both courts are incorrect insofar as the fact that the building burned was used as a dwelling and located in an uninhabited place nor the fact that the accused knew the same to be occupied at the time of commission were not alleged in the information. On this note, the counsel argues the previous provisions cannot be applied by reason, thereof. Under the above provision on arson, knowledge on the part of the accused that building set on fire was occupied is an essential element of the crime, thereof. As such, the same must be alleged within the information; otherwise, the information would become defective and a subsequent conviction under such information would not lie. In this regard, the Court modified the conviction; applying, instead, Art. 322, par. 3, for it must be noted that the subsequent presentation of evidence cannot cure a defect in the information.

People v. Regala (G.R. L-23693 / 27 April 1982) IN RE: Sufficiency of Complaint or Information Defendants Regala and Flores were charged with the crime of murder with assault upon an agent of a person in authority following the murder of one Sgt. Juan Desilos. Witnesses were presented by both sides, but in the end, the lower court judge gave more weight and credence to the prosecution, thereby ruling against the accused. On appeal, the Defendants argued, inter alia, that there was no murder, but only homicide and that the same cannot be complexed by reason of defective information. First, in this case, neither treachery nor evident premeditation can be appreciated since, among others, the facts stated by the witnesses does not give rise thereto. Second, it must be noted that the information filed against the accused did not allege the essential element of assault, that is, the latter knew that the victim was an agent of a person in authority before or at the time of the commission of the crime. Though it was already established by evidence that there was, indeed, assault, the fact that it was not alleged in the information cannot serve as to cure the same and thereby, subsequently hold the accused guilty thereof. For this reason, the required knowledge, though already proven, can only be treated as an aggravating circumstances, i.e., in contempt of or with insult to the public authorities or, otherwise, insult or in disregard of the respect due to the offended party on account of his rank.

Matilde v. Jabson Balitaan v. CFI People v. Perreras People v. Alagao People v. Aguduz People v. Borromeo Manuel v. Pano Teehankee v. Madayag People v. Casey Naguiat v. IAC Cojuangco v. CA People v. Bayotas Ras v. Rasul Librodo v. Coscolluela Tuada v. Sandiganbayan Veloso v. Carmona Faraon v. Priela Yonaha v. CA Corpus v. Paje