Duncano vs Sandiganbayan
G.R. No. 191894 July 15, 2015
Facts: Petitioner Danilo A. Duncano is, at the time material to the case, the Regional Director of the Bureau of Internal Revenue (BIR) with Salary Grade 26 as classified under Republic Act (R.A.) No. 6758. On March 24, 2009, the Office of the Special Prosecutor (OSP), Office of the Ombudsman, filed a criminal case against him for violation of Section 8, in relation to Section 11 of R.A. No. 6713, allegedly committed as follows:
That on or about April 15, 2003, or sometime prior or subsequent thereto, in Quezon City, Philippines, and within the jurisdiction of this Honorable Court, accused DANILO DUNCANO y ACIDO, a high ranking public officer, being the Regional Director of Revenue Region No. 7, of the Bureau of Internal Revenue, Quezon City, and as such is under an obligation to accomplish and submit declarations under oath of his assets, liabilities and net worth and financial and business interests, did then and there, willfully, unlawfully and criminally fail to disclose in his Sworn Statement of Assets and Liabilities and Networth (SALN) for the year 2002, his financial and business interests/connection in Documail Provides Corporation and Don Plus Trading of which he and his family are the registered owners thereof, and the 1993 Nissan Patrol motor vehicle registered in the name of his son VINCENT LOUIS P. DUNCANO which are part of his assets, to the damage and prejudice of public interest.
CONTRARY TO LAW.
Issue: Whether or not the Sandiganbayan has jurisdiction over the petitioner.
Held: No. The creation of the Sandiganbayan was mandated by Section 5, Article XIII of the 1973 Constitution. By virtue of the powers vested in him by the Constitution and pursuant to Proclamation No. 1081, dated September 21, 1972, former President Ferdinand E. Marcos issued P.D. No. 1486. The decree was later amended by P.D. No. 1606, Section 20 of Batas Pambansa Blg. 129, P.D. No. 1860, and P.D. No. 1861.
With the advent of the 1987 Constitution, the special court was retained as provided for in Section 4, Article XI thereof. Aside from Executive Order Nos. 14 and 14-a, and R.A. 7080, which expanded the jurisdiction of the Sandiganbayan, P.D. No. 1606 was further modified by R.A. No. 7975, R.A. No. 8249, and just this year, R.A. No. 10660.
For the purpose of this case, the relevant provision is Section 4 of R.A. No. 8249, which states: SEC. 4. Section 4 of the same decree is hereby further amended to read as follows:
“SEC. 4. Jurisdiction.– The Sandiganbayan shall exercise exclusive original jurisdiction in all cases involving:
“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 provincial 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 senior 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 Commission, 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.
Yet, those that are classified as Salary Grade 26 and below may still fall within the jurisdiction of the Sandiganbayan, provided that they hold the positions enumerated by the law. In this category, it is the position held, not the salary grade, which determines the jurisdiction of the Sandiganbayan. The specific inclusion constitutes an exception to the general qualification relating to “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.”38 As ruled in Inding:
Following this disquisition, the paragraph of Section 4 which provides that if the accused is occupying a position lower than SG 27, the proper trial court has jurisdiction, can only be properly interpreted as applying to those cases where the principal accused is occupying a position lower than SG 27 and not among those specifically included in the enumeration in Section 4 a. (1) (a) to (g). Stated otherwise, except for those officials specifically included in Section 4 a. (1) (a) to (g), regardless of their salary grades, over whom the Sandiganbayan has jurisdiction, all other public officials below SG 27 shall be under the jurisdiction of the proper trial courts “where none of the principal accused are occupying positions corresponding to SG 27 or higher.” By this construction, the entire Section 4 is given effect. The cardinal rule, after all, in statutory construction is that the particular words, clauses and phrases should not be studied as detached and isolated expressions, but the whole and every part of the statute must be considered in fixing the meaning of any of its parts and in order to produce a harmonious whole. And courts should adopt a construction that will give effect to every part of a statute, if at all possible. Ut magis valeat quam pereat or that construction is to be sought which gives effect to the whole of the statute – its every word.
The Sandiganbayan has no jurisdiction over violations of Section 3(a) and (e), Republic Act No. 3019, as amended, unless committed by public officials and employees occupying positions of regional director and higher with Salary Grade “27” or higher, under the Compensation and Position Classification Act of 1989 (Republic Act No. 6758) in relation to their office.
In ruling in favor of its jurisdiction, even though petitioner admittedly occupied the position of Director II with Salary Grade “26” under the Compensation and Position Classification Act of 1989 (Republic Act No. 6758), the Sandiganbayan incurred in serious error of jurisdiction, and acted with grave abuse of discretion amounting to lack of jurisdiction in suspending petitioner from office, entitling petitioner to the reliefs prayed for.