Philippine Supreme Court Jurisprudence


Philippine Supreme Court Jurisprudence > Year 1986 > October 1986 Decisions > G.R. No. L-56132 October 2, 1986 - VICENTE LUZ v. SANDIGANBAYAN:




PHILIPPINE SUPREME COURT DECISIONS

EN BANC

[G.R. No. L-56132. October 2, 1986.]

VICENTE LUZ, Petitioner, v. THE HONORABLE SANDIGANBAYAN and THE PEOPLE OF THE PHILIPPINES, Respondents.

Rafael Mison, Jr. for Petitioner.

The Solicitor General for Respondents.


SYLLABUS


1. CRIMINAL LAW; MALVERSATION OF PUBLIC FUNDS AND FALSIFICATION OF PUBLIC DOCUMENTS; NOT PRESENTS IN CASE AT BAR. — The accused alleges in his defense that he knew nothing of the scheme devised by the mayor to enable the policemen to get paid, that he did not know them personally and did not know they were really policemen; that at any rate his duty to allow payment was purely ministerial as long as the needed certification by the regulation which requires him to get out into the roads and which requires him to get out into the roads and bridges to see for himself whether or not the persons supposed to be paid were actually performing their jobs. We believe he should be acquitted on the basis of reasonable doubt, among other things. No proof has been given if the charge, that the knew of the mayor’s plan. And besides the presumption of good faith, it is clear that what he did was purely ministerial, in view of the certification that had been made by the municipal mayor. Were he to be given the task of verifying whether or not the employees and laborers of the municipality are really performing their assigned jobs, his would be an impossible function.


D E C I S I O N


PARAS, J.:


In a complaint filed on July 19, 1980, (apparently as a retaliatory move for his ouster as municipal treasurer of the municipality of Bula, province of Camarines Sur) with the Sandiganbayan, Nestor R. Rueda charged the following with the crimes of malversation of public funds and falsification of public documents:chanrob1es virtual 1aw library

1. herein petitioner Vicente Luz, Acting Municipal Treasurer 1 (who had replaced complainant Rueda);

2. Sabino Pontanal; mayor of the municipality of Bula;

3. Juan Baldoza;

4. Eliseo Parro;

5. Rodolfo Colambo

6. Juan Alba;

7. Manuel Raña;

8. Perfecto Nogales, and

9. Antonio Guinoo.

The undisputed facts indicate that the accused policemen, after rendering service as such policemen in the municipality were unable, for one reason or another, to get paid. To enable them to receive something, the mayor decided to have them included in the payroll for laborers on the municipal roads and bridges, and issued a certification to said effect. The certification was then sent to petitioner who in his capacity as acting municipal treasurer and disbursing officer, signed the voucher involved (Voucher No. 118). The policemen were then paid. When complainant learned of this irregularity, (with the government being compelled to disburse some P336.00, or P48.00 for each of the seven policemen involved), he filed his charge with the Sandiganbayan. After trial, all the aforementioned accused were acquitted of the crime of malversation of public funds and all except petitioner Vicente Luz were acquitted of the crime of falsification of public document. No sentence was imposed on the mayor because he had died while the trial was in progress. As already stated petitioner was convicted of falsification of public document and was sentenced to:chanroblesvirtualawlibrary

an indeterminate imprisonment ranging from two (2) years, four (4) months and one (1) day of prision correccional as minimum, eight (8) years and one (1) day of prision Mayor as maximum, to pay a fine of P2,000.00 and to pay the costs.

After his motion for reconsideration was denied, he filed the instant petition with Our Court.

He alleges in his defense that he knew nothing of the scheme devised by the mayor to enable the policemen to get paid, that he did not know them personally and did not know they were really policemen; that at any rate his duty to allow payment was purely ministerial as long as the needed certification by the municipal mayor was present, since there is no law or regulation which requires him to set out into the roads and bridges to see for himself whether or not the persons supposed to be paid were actually performing their jobs.

We believe he should be acquitted on the basis of reasonable doubt, among other things. No proof has been given of the charge, that he knew of the mayor’s plan. And besides the presumption of good faith, it is clear that what he did was purely ministerial, in view of the certification that had been made by the municipal mayor. (See People v. Reodica, 62 Phil. 567). Were he to be given the task of verifying whether or not the employees and laborers of the municipality are really performing their assigned jobs (See U.S. v. Balais, 17 Phil. 503), his would be an impossible function.

WHEREFORE, petitioner is hereby ACQUITTED on reasonable doubt.

SO ORDERED.

Teehankee, C.J., Feria, Yap, Fernan, Narvasa, Melencio-Herrera, Alampay, Gutierrez, Jr., Cruz and Feliciano, JJ., concur.

Endnotes:



1. He was Officer-in-Charge of the Treasurer’s Office.




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