502 Phil. 702
CARPIO MORALES, J.:
WHEREFORE, premises considered, this Office finds probable cause to conclude that the crimes (sic) of Falsification of Public Document are (sic) probably committed [by] Mayor Ludwig Adaza and another crime of Falsification of Public Document was probably committed by respondents (sic) Mayor and his co-respondent wife. Accordingly, let the appropriate Informations be filed in court.On even date, petitioner was charged in two Informations filed before the Sandiganbayan. The inculpatory portion of the first, docketed as Criminal Case No. 24854, reads as follows:
That sometime on or about 18 July 1997, or shortly subsequent thereto, in Dipolog City, Philippines and within the jurisdiction of this Honorable Court, the accused Ludwig Adaza, a public officer being then the Mayor with salary grade 27 of Jose Dalman, Zamboanga del Norte, while in the performance of his official duties, committing the offense in relation to his official function and taking advantage of his public position, did there and then, wilfully, unlawfully and feloniously, falsify a public document, namely Disbursement Voucher No. B-1019707309 of the DPWH 1st Engineering District, Dipolog City, by counterfeiting therein the signature of Felix Mejorada when in truth and in fact, as the accused well knew, Felix Mejorada did not affix his signature on the document and did not authorize the accused to affix Mejorada's signature therein.Petitioner was charged together with Aristela in the second Information, docketed as Criminal Case No. 24853, the inculpatory portion of which reads:
CONTRARY TO LAW. (Underscoring supplied)
That sometime on or about 18 July 1997, or shortly subsequent thereto, in Dipolog City, Philippines and within the jurisdiction of this Honorable Court, the accused Ludwig Adaza, a public officer being then the Mayor with salary grade 27 of Jose Dalman, Zamboanga del Norte, while in the performance of his official duties, committing the offense in relation to his official function and taking advantage of his public position, conspiring, cooperating and confederating with accused Aristela Adaza, did there and then, wilfully, unlawfully and feloniously, falsify a public document, namely DPB Check No. 0000718668 issued by the DPWH 1st Engineering District, Dipolog City, by counterfeiting therein the signature of indorsement of Felix Mejorada when in truth and in fact, as the accused well knew, Felix Mejorada did not affix his signature on the document and did not authorize the accused to affix Mejorada's signature therein.After petitioner and his co-accused wife Aristela posted their respective bail bonds for their provisional liberty, Mejorada filed an Affidavit of Confirmation dated October 28, 1998 affirming the truth and veracity of the contents of his Affidavit of Desistance dated May 22, 1998 and further alleging that he believed that there was no crime of falsification committed.
CONTRARY TO LAW. (Underscoring supplied)
On October 29, 2002, the law office of Atty. Felipe Antonio B. Remollo entered its appearance for petitioner. On even date, petitioner filed a Supplement to the petition raising the following additional arguments:1
. . . BY CONSIDERING THE MOTION FOR RECONSIDERATION OF ITS DECISION AS PRO FORMA2
. . . BY ALLOWING BALD TECHNICALITY TO PREVAIL OVER THE MERITS OF THE MOTION FOR RECONSIDERATION THUS IGNORING SECTION 6 OF RULE 1 OF THE REVISED RULES AND THE APPROPRIATELY APPLICABLE JURISPRUDENCE3
. . . BY IGNORING THE MERITS OF THE MOTION FOR RECONSIDERATION AND BY CONVICTING THE ACCUSED/PETITIONER WHEN THERE IS ABSOLUTELY NO EVIDENCE WHATSOEVER FOR CONVICTING THE ACCUSED/PETITIONER BEYOND A REASONABLE DOUBT (Underscoring supplied)
Petitioner's counsel of record Homobono A. Adaza later withdrew his appearance.I
WITH ALL DUE RESPECT, THE HONORABLE RESPONDENT SANDIGANBAYAN HAS NO JURISDICTION OVER THE OFFENSE CHARGED OF FALSIFICATION OF PUBLIC DOCUMENTS UNDER ARTICLE 172 PARAGRAPH 1 IN RELATION TO ARTICLE 171 PARAGRAPH 1 OF THE REVISED PENAL CODE AGAINST THE ACCUSED (FORMER) MUNICIPAL MAYOR (WITH SALARY GRADE 27) WHO DID NOT TAKE ADVANTAGE OF HIS OFFICIAL POSITION IN THE ALLEGED COMMISSION OF THE CRIME AS RULED BY THE SANDIGANBAYAN. SUCH BEING THE CASE, THE ALLEGED OFFENSE WAS NOT COMMITTED IN RELATION TO THE OFFICE OF THE MUNICIPAL MAYOR WHICH IS OUTSIDE THE JURISDICTION OF THE SANDIGANBAYAN.II
THE RIGHT OF THE ACCUSED TO "A COMPETENT AND INDEPENDENT" COUNSEL IS ENSHRINED IN THE 1987 CONSTITUTION. THIS RIGHT SHOULD BE UPHELD AT ALL TIMES AND SHOULD NOT BE OUTWEIGHT (sic) OR DISLODGED BY WHATEVER GROSS PROCEDURAL LAPSES IN SUCCESSION THAT DEFENSE COUNSEL MAY HAVE COMMITTED TANTAMOUNT TO DENIAL OF DUE PROCESS IN THE INTEREST OF SUBSTANTIVE JUSTICE.III
THE PETITION WAS FILED WITH A STRONG SENSE OF URGENCY IN THE LIGHT OF THE FACT THAT PUBLIC RESPONDENT SANDIGANBAYAN ORDERED THE IMMEDIATE ARREST OF THE ACCUSED IN ITS AUGUST 21, 2002 RESOLUTION (SUBJECT OF HEREIN PETITION FOR CERTIORARI) ON THE THEORY THAT THE ORDER OF CONVICTION OF THE ACCUSED PETITIONER HAS BECOME FINAL BY SHEER TECHNICALITY THAT ON (sic) THE ACCUSED'S MOTION FOR RECONSIDERATION DID NOT BEAR A NOTICE OF HEARING. (Emphasis and underscoring supplied)
Sec. 4. Jurisdiction. - The Sandiganbayan shall exercise exclusive original jurisdiction in all cases involving:For an offense to fall under the exclusive original jurisdiction of the Sandiganbayan, the following requisites must concur: (1) the offense committed is a violation of (a) R.A. 3019, as amended (the Anti-Graft and Corrupt Practices Act), (b) R.A. 1379 (the law on ill-gotten wealth), (c) Chapter II, Section 2, Title VII, Book II of the Revised Penal Code (the law on bribery), (d) Executive Order Nos. 1, 2, 14 and 14-A, issued in 1986 (sequestration cases), or (e) other offenses or felonies whether simple or complexed with other crimes; (2) the offender committing the offenses in items (a), (b), (c) and (e) is a public official or employee holding any of the positions enumerated in paragraph A of Section 4; and (3) the offense committed is in relation to the office.
A. Violations of Republic Act No. 3019, as amended, otherwise known as the Anti-Graft and Corrupt Practices Act, Republic Act No. 1379, and Chapter II, Section 2, Title VII, Book II of the Revised Penal Code, where one or more of the accused are officials occupying the following positions in the government, whether in a permanent, acting or interim capacity, at the time of the commission of the offense:
(1) Officials of the executive branch occupying the positions of regional director and higher, otherwise classified as Grade `27' and higher, of the Compensation and Position Classification Act of 1989 (Republic Act No. 6758), specifically including:
(a) Provincial governors, vice-governors, members of the sangguniang panlalawigan, and provincial treasurers, assessors, engineers, and other city department heads;
(b) City mayor, vice-mayors, members of the sangguniang panlungsod, city treasurers, assessors, engineers, and other city department heads;
(c) Officials of the diplomatic service occupying the position of consul and higher;
(d) Philippine army and air force colonels, naval captains, and all officers of higher rank;
(e) Officers of the Philippine National Police while occupying the position of provincial director and those holding the rank of superior superintendent or higher;
(f) City and provincial prosecutors and their assistants, and officials and prosecutors in the Office of the Ombudsman and special prosecutor;
(g) Presidents, directors or trustees, or managers of government-owned or controlled corporations, state universities or educational institutions or foundations;
(2) Members of Congress and officials thereof classified as Grade `27' and up under the Compensation and Position Classification Act of 1989;
(3) Members of the judiciary without prejudice to the provisions of the Constitution;
(4) Chairmen and members of Constitutional Commissions, without prejudice to the provisions of the Constitution; and
(5) All other national and local officials classified as Grade '27' and higher under the Compensation and Position Classification Act of 1989.
B. Other offenses or felonies whether simple or complexed with other crimes committed by the public officials and employees mentioned in subsection a of this section in relation to their office.
C. Civil and criminal cases filed pursuant to and in connection with Executive Order Nos. 1, 2, 14 and 14-A, issued in 1986.
xxx (Emphasis and underscoring supplied)
As early as 1954, we pronounced that "the factor that characterizes the charge is the actual recital of the facts." "The real nature of the criminal charge is determined not from the caption or preamble of the information nor from the specification of the provision of law alleged to have been violated, they being conclusions of law, but by the actual recital of facts in the complaint or information." (Emphasis and underscoring supplied)It does not thus suffice to merely allege in the information that the crime charged was committed by the offender in relation to his office or that he took advantage of his position as these are conclusions of law. The specific factual allegations in the information that would indicate the close intimacy between the discharge of the offender's official duties and the commission of the offense charged, in order to qualify the crime as having been committed in relation to public office, are controlling.
Leroy S. Brown, City Mayor of Basilan City, as such, has organized groups of police patrol and civilian commandoes consisting of regular policemen and xxx special policemen appointed and provided by him with pistols and high power guns and then established a camp xxx at Tipo-tipo which is under his command xxx supervision and control where his co-defendants were stationed, entertained criminal complaints and conducted the corresponding investigations as well as assumed the authority to arrest and detain persons without due process of law and without bringing them to the proper court and that in line with this set-up established by said Mayor of Basilan City as such, and acting upon his orders, his co-defendants arrested and maltreated Awalin Tebag who died in consequence thereof.In Alarilla, apart from the phrase "in relation to and taking advantage of his official functions," the information alleged specific factual allegations showing how the therein petitioner committed the crime of grave threats as a consequence of his office as municipal mayor, which allegations led this Court to conclude that the crime charged was intimately connected with the discharge of his official functions. Thus it read:
That on or about October 13, 1982, in Meycauayan, Bulacan, and within the jurisdiction of this Honorable Court, the above-named accused, a public officer, being then the Municipal Mayor of Meycauayan, Bulacan, committing the crime herein charged in relation to and taking advantage of his official functions, did then and there wilfully, unlawfully and feloniously level and aim a .45 caliber pistol at and threaten to kill one Simeon G. Legaspi, during a public hearing about the pollution from the operations of the Giant Achievers Enterprises Plastic Factory and after the said complainant rendered a privilege speech critical of the abuses and excesses of the administration of said accused.Although herein petitioner was described in the information as "a public officer being then the Mayor with salary grade 27 of Jose Dalman, Zamboanga del Norte," there was no allegation showing that the act of falsification of public document attributed to him was intimately connected to the duties of his office as mayor to bring the case within the jurisdiction of the Sandiganbayan. Neither was there any allegation to show how he made use of his position as mayor to facilitate the commission of the crimes charged. The information merely alleges that petitioner falsified the disbursement voucher by counterfeiting therein the signature of Mejorada. For the purpose of determining jurisdiction, it is this allegation that is controlling, not the evidence presented by the prosecution during the trial.
That on or about the 12th day of January, 1977, in the City of Manila, Philippines, and within the jurisdiction of this Honorable Court, accused Rolando Bartolome y Perez, a public officer having been duly appointed and qualified as Senior Labor Regulation Officer and Chief of the Labor Regulations Section, Ministry of Labor, National Capital Region, Manila, conspiring and conniving with the other accused Elino Coronel y Santos, also a public officer having been duly appointed and qualified as Labor Regulation Officer of the same office, taking advantage of their official positions, did then and there wilfully, unlawfully and feloniously prepare and falsify an official document, to wit: the CS Personal Data Sheet (Civil Service Form No. 212) which bears the Residence Certificate No. A-9086374 issued at Manila on January 12, 1977, by making it appear in said document that accused Rolando Bartolome y Perez had taken and passed the `Career Service (Professional Qualifying Examination)' on `May 2, 1976' with a rating of `73.35% in Manila' and that he was a `4th Year AB' student at the Far Eastern University (FEU), when in truth and in fact, as both accused well knew, accused Rolando Bartolome y Perez had not taken and passed the same nor was he a `4th Year AB' student, thereby making untruthful statements in a narration of facts. (Underscoring supplied)This Court held:
In the instant case, there is no showing that the alleged falsification was committed by the accused, if at all, as a consequence of, and while they were discharging, official functions. The information does not allege that there was an intimate connection between the discharge of official duties and the commission of the offense. xxxAs for petitioner's assertion that the Sandiganbayan has no jurisdiction over the offense of falsification under Article 172 in relation to Article 171 of the Revised Penal Code, to buttress which he argues that the offender under Article 172, paragraph 1 is not supposed to be a public official who takes advantage of his position, thus equating the requirement of "taking advantage of one's public position" as stated in the aforementioned provisions of the Revised Penal Code with the prerequisite "in relation to one's office" for the acquisition of jurisdiction of the Sandiganbayan as provided for in R.A. 8249, the same must be discredited.
Clearly therefore, as the alleged falsification was not an offense committed in relation to the office of the accused, it did not come under the jurisdiction of the Sandiganbayan. It follows that all its acts in the instant case are null and void ab initio. (Underscoring supplied)
ART. 171. Falsification by public officer, employee or notary or ecclesiastic minister. - The penalty of prision mayor and a fine not to exceed 5,000 pesos shall be imposed upon any public officer, employee, or notary who, taking advantage of his official position, shall falsify a document by committing any of the following acts:On the other hand, Article 172, paragraph 1 reads:
- Counterfeiting or imitating any handwriting, signature or rubric;
- Causing it to appear that persons have participated in any act or proceeding when they did not in fact so participate;
- Attributing to persons who have participated in an act or proceeding statements other than those in fact made by them;
- Making untruthful statements in a narration of facts;
- Altering true dates;
- Making any alteration or intercalation in a genuine document which changes its meaning;
- Issuing in an authenticated form a document purporting to be a copy of an original document when no such original exists, or including in such copy a statement contrary to, or different from, that of the genuine original; or
- Intercalating any instrument or note relative to the issuance thereof in a protocol, registry, or official book.xxx
ART. 172. Falsification by private individuals and use of falsified documents. - The penalty of prision correccional in its medium and maximum periods and a fine of not more than 5,000 pesos shall be imposed upon:The offender under Article 172 must be a private individual or maybe a public officer, employee or notary public who does not "take advantage of his official position." Under Article 171, an essential element of the crime is that the act of falsification must be committed by a public officer, employee or notary who "takes advantage of his official position."
- Any private individual who shall commit any of the falsifications enumerated in the next preceding article in any public or official document or letter of exchange or any other kind of commercial document; xxx