Category: LEGAL DIGESTS


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PEOPLE OF THE PHILIPPINES VS. SANDIGANBAYAN (FOURTH DIVISION) AND IMELDA R. MARCOS (G.R. NO. 155832, 07 DECEMBER 2010) SUBJECT: DELEGATION OF QUASI JUDICIAL POWER; ESTOPPEL.

 

THIS CASE IS ABOUT THE RESTHOUSE OF IMELDA IN OLOT LEYTE. SHE RECOVERED IT. FIND OUT WHY.

 READ THE FULL TEXT OF THE DECISION IN jabbulao.com under the category RECENT SUPREME COURT DECISIONS.

 

DIGEST:

 

FACTS:

 

ON 18 MARCH 1986, ATTY. RAMIREZ AND ATTY. ABELLA, PCGG AGENTS, ISSUED A SEQUESTRATION ORDER AGAINST THE RESTHOUS THE SOLE ISSUE PRESENTED IS WHETHER OR NOT THE MARCH 18, 1986 SEQUESTRATION ORDER AGAINST PROPERTIES OF IMELDA IN LEYTE INCLUDING THE RESTHOUSE AT OLOT. THEIR ORDER WAS NOT SIGNED BY ANY PCGG COMMISSIONERS.

 

ISSUE:

 

IS THEIR ORDER VALID?

 

RULING:

 

NO. JUDICIAL OR QUASI-JUDICIAL POWERS MAY NOT BE DELEGATED. IN PCGG V. JUDGE PEÑA,[1][17] THE COURT HELD THAT THE POWERS, FUNCTIONS AND DUTIES OF THE PCGG AMOUNT TO THE EXERCISE OF QUASI-JUDICIAL FUNCTIONS, AND THE EXERCISE OF SUCH FUNCTIONS CANNOT BE DELEGATED BY THE COMMISSION TO ITS REPRESENTATIVES OR SUBORDINATES OR TASK FORCES BECAUSE OF THE WELL ESTABLISHED PRINCIPLE THAT JUDICIAL OR QUASI-JUDICIAL POWERS MAY NOT BE DELEGATED.

 

PETITIONER REPUBLIC ARGUES THAT MRS. MARCOS SHOULD BE DEEMED ESTOPPED FROM QUESTIONING THE SEQUESTRATION OF HER OLOT RESTHOUSE BY HER ACTIONS IN REGARD TO THE SAME.  BUT A VOID ORDER PRODUCES NO EFFECT AND CANNOT BE VALIDATED UNDER THE DOCTRINE OF ESTOPPEL.  FOR THE SAME REASON, THE COURT CANNOT ACCEPT PETITIONER’S VIEW THAT MRS. MARCOS SHOULD HAVE FIRST SOUGHT THE LIFTING OF THE SEQUESTRATION ORDER THROUGH A MOTION TO QUASH FILED WITH THE PCGG.  BEING VOID, THE SANDIGANBAYAN HAS THE POWER TO STRIKE IT DOWN ON SIGHT. 

 

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RULING OF THE COURT:

 

The Court’s Ruling

Under Section 26, Article XVIII of the Constitution, an order of sequestration may only issue upon a showing “of a prima facie case” that the properties are ill-gotten wealth under Executive Orders 1 and 2.[2][11]  When a court nullifies an order of sequestration for having been issued without a prima facie case, the Court does not substitute its judgment for that of the PCGG but simply applies the law.[3][12]

In Bataan Shipyard & Engineering Co, Inc. v. PCGG,[4][13] the Court held that a prima facie factual foundation that the properties sequestered are “ill-gotten wealth” is required.  The power to determine the existence of a prima facie case has been vested in the PCGG as an incident to its investigatory powers.  The two-commissioner rule is obviously intended to assure a collegial determination of such fact.[5][14] 

Here, it is clear that the PCGG did not make a prior determination of the existence of a prima facie case that would warrant the sequestration of the Olot Resthouse. The Republic presented no evidence before the Sandiganbayan that shows differently.  Nor did the Republic demonstrate that the two PCGG representatives were given the quasi-judicial authority to receive and consider evidence that would warrant such a prima facie finding.

Parenthetically, the Republic’s supposed evidence does not show how the Marcoses acquired the sequestered property, what makes it “ill-gotten wealth,” and how former President Marcos intervened in its acquisition. Taking the foregoing view, the resolution of the issue surrounding the character of the property sequestered – whether or not it could prima facie be considered ill-gotten – should be necessary.

          The issue in this case is not new.  The facts are substantially identical to those in the case of Republic v. Sandiganbayan (Dio Island Resort, Inc.).[6][15]  There, the same Atty. Ramirez issued a sequestration order on April 14, 1986 against Dio Island Resort, Inc. and all its assets and properties which were thought to be part of the Marcoses’ ill-gotten wealth.  Alerted by a challenge to his action, the PCGG passed a resolution “to confirm, ratify and adopt as its own all the Writs of Sequestration” that Attys. Ramirez and Abella issued “to remove any doubt as to the validity and enforceability” of their writs.  Still, the Court struck them down as void:

x x x  It is indubitable that under no circumstances can a sequestration or freeze order be validly issued by one not a Commissioner of the PCGG.

 

The invalidity of the sequestration order was made more apparent by the fact that Atty. Ramirez did not even have any specific authority to act on behalf of the Commission at the time he issued the said sequestration order. x x x

 

x x x x

 

Even assuming arguendo that Atty. Ramirez had been given prior authority by the PCGG to place Dio Island Resort under sequestration, nevertheless, the sequestration order he issued is still void since PCGG may not delegate its authority to sequester to its representatives and subordinates, and any such delegation is invalid and ineffective.

 

Under Executive Order Nos. 1 and 2, PCGG is the sole entity primarily charged with the responsibility of recovering ill-gotten wealth.  x x x The power to sequester, therefore, carries with it the corollary duty to make a preliminary determination of whether there is a reasonable basis for sequestering a property alleged to be ill-gotten.  After a careful evaluation of the evidence adduced, the PCGG clearly has to use its own judgment in determining the existence of a prima facie case. 

 

x x x x

 

The absence of a prior determination by the PCGG of a prima facie basis for the sequestration order is, unavoidably, a fatal defect which rendered the sequestration of respondent corporation and its properties void ab initio.  Being void ab initio, it is deemed non-existent, as though it had never been issued, x x x.[7][16]

 

          The Court is maintaining its above ruling in this case. 

Although the two PCGG lawyers issued the sequestration order in this case on March 18, 1986, before the passage of Sec. 3 of the PCGG Rules, such consideration is immaterial following our above ruling. 

          In PCGG v. Judge Peña,[8][17] the Court held that the powers, functions and duties of the PCGG amount to the exercise of quasi-judicial functions, and the exercise of such functions cannot be delegated by the Commission to its representatives or subordinates or task forces because of the well established principle that judicial or quasi-judicial powers may not be delegated.

It is the Republic’s theory of course that Commissioner Daza’s letter, directing Attys. Ramirez and Abella to search and sequester all properties, documents, money and other assets of respondents, should be considered as the writ of sequestration while the order issued by Attys. Ramirez and Abella  should be treated merely as an implementing order.

But the letter did not have the tenor of a sequestration order covering specific properties that the lawyers were ordered to seize and hold for the PCGG.   Actually, that letter is of the same kind issued to Attys. Ramirez and Abella in Dio Island Resort.  Consequently, there is no reason to depart from the Court’s ruling in the latter case where it said:

The invalidity of the sequestration order was made more apparent by the fact that Atty. Ramirez did not even have any specific authority to act on behalf of the Commission at the time he issued the said sequestration order.  Thus, the respondent Court noted:

 

“Contrary to plaintiff’s representation, nothing exists to support its contention that the Task Force had been given prior authority to place DIO under PCGG control.  On the contrary, as the text of the above letters clearly show, Attys. Jose Tan Ramirez and Ben Abella, had acted on broad and non-specific powers: ‘By authority of the commission and the powers vested in it. x x x.’”[9][18]

 

Petitioner Republic argues that Mrs. Marcos should be deemed estopped from questioning the sequestration of her Olot Resthouse by her actions in regard to the same.  But a void order produces no effect and cannot be validated under the doctrine of estoppel.  For the same reason, the Court cannot accept petitioner’s view that Mrs. Marcos should have first sought the lifting of the sequestration order through a motion to quash filed with the PCGG.  Being void, the Sandiganbayan has the power to strike it down on sight. 

Besides, the lifting of the sequestration order will not necessarily be fatal to the main case since it does not follow from such lifting that the sequestered properties are not ill-gotten wealth. Such lifting simply means that the government may not act as conservator or may not exercise administrative or housekeeping powers over the property.[10][19]  Indeed, the Republic can be protected by a notice of lis pendens.

WHEREFORE, the Court DISMISSES the petition for lack of merit and AFFIRMS the challenged resolutions of the Fourth Division of the Sandiganbayan dated February 28, 2002 and August 28, 2002 in Civil Case 0002, which granted respondent Imelda R. Marcos’ Motion to Quash the March 18, 1986 Sequestration Order covering the Olot Resthouse.

Further, the Court DIRECTS the Register of Deeds of Leyte to immediately annotate a notice of lis pendens on the certificate of title of the Olot Resthouse with respect to the Republic of the Philippines’ claim over the same in Civil Case 0002 of the Sandiganbayan. 

No pronouncement as to costs.

SO ORDERED.

ROBERTO A. ABAD

                                                              Associate Justice

WE CONCUR:

 

 

 

RENATO C. CORONA

Chief Justice

 

 

 

      ANTONIO T. CARPIO              CONCHITA CARPIO MORALES    

  Associate Justice                                               Associate Justice

 

 

             (On Official Leave)                               

PRESBITERO J. VELASCO, JR.     ANTONIO EDUARDO B. NACHURA

               Associate Justice                                     Associate Justice

 

 

 

TERESITA J. LEONARDO-DE CASTRO       ARTURO D. BRION

                     Associate Justice                                 Associate Justice

 

 

                       (No part)

       DIOSDADO M. PERALTA                     LUCAS P. BERSAMIN

                 Associate Justice                                      Associate Justice        

    

 MARIANO C. DEL CASTILLO             MARTIN S. VILLARAMA, JR.

              Associate Justice                                     Associate Justice

  JOSE PORTUGAL PEREZ                           JOSE CATRAL MENDOZA

            Associate Justice                                       Associate Justice

MARIA LOURDES P. A. SERENO

Associate Justice

CERTIFICATION

Pursuant to Section 13, Article VIII of the Constitution, it is hereby certified that the conclusions in the above Decision had been reached in consultation before the case was assigned to the writer of the opinion of the Court.

RENATO C. CORONA

          Chief Justice


 


[1][17]  243 Phil. 93 (1988).

[2][11]         EXECUTIVE ORDER 1 – CREATING THE PRESIDENTIAL COMMISSION ON GOOD GOVERNMENT.   WHEREAS, vast resources of the government have been amassed by former President Ferdinand E. Marcos, his immediate family, relatives, and close associates both here and abroad; 

x x x x

                Sec. 2.  The Commission shall be charged with the task of assisting the President in regard to the following matters:

                (a)           The recovery of all ill-gotten wealth accumulated by former President Ferdinand E. Marcos, his immediate family, relatives, subordinates and close associates, whether located in the Philippines or abroad, including the takeover or sequestration of all business enterprises and entities owned or controlled by them, during his administration, directly or through nominees, by taking undue advantage of their public office and/or using their powers, authority, influence, connections or relationship.

x x x x

                EXECUTIVE ORDER 2. – REGARDING THE FUNDS, MONEYS, ASSETS, AND PROPERTIES ILLEGALLY ACQUIRED OR MISAPPROPRIATED BY FORMER PRESIDENT FERDINAND E. MARCOS, MRS. IMELDA ROMUALDEZ MARCOS, THEIR CLOSE RELATIVES, SUBORDINATES, BUSINESS ASSOCIATES, DUMMIES, AGENTS, OR NOMINEES.   

x x x x

                NOW, THEREFORE, I, CORAZON C. AQUINO, President of the Philippines, hereby:

                (1)           Freeze all assets and properties in the Philippines in which former President Marcos and/or his wife, Mrs. Imelda Romualdez Marcos, their close relatives, subordinates, business associates, dummies, agents, or nominees have any interest or participation; x x x

[3][12]  Presidential Commission on Good Government v. Tan, G.R. Nos. 173553-56, December 7, 2007, 539 SCRA 464, 479-480.

[4][13]  234 Phil. 180, 214 (1987).

[5][14]  Republic of the Philippines v. Sandiganbayan, 355 Phil. 181, 195 (1998).

[6][15]  Supra note 8.

[7][16]  Id. at 218-219, 222.

[8][17]  243 Phil. 93 (1988).

[9][18]  Republic of the Philippines v. Sandiganbayan, supra note 8, at 218.

[10][19]  Presidential Commission on Good Government v. Sandiganbayan, 418 Phil. 8, 20 (2001).

MAY D. AÑONUEVO, ALEXANDER BLEE DESANTIS AND JOHN DESANTIS NERI, PETITIONERS VS. INTESTATE ESTATE OF RODOLFO G. JALANDONI, REPRESENTED BY BERNARDINO G. JALANDONI AS SPECIAL ADMINISTRATOR, RESPONDENT (FIRS DIVISION, G.R. NO. 178221, O1 DECEMBER 2010)

 

THIS CASE IS ABOUT LEGAL PRESUMPTION OF MARRIAGE. BIRTH CERTIFICATE STATING THAT ONE’S PARENTS WERE MARRIED ESTABLISHES THE PRESUMPTION THAT INDEED THEY WERE MARRIED.

 

READ THE FULL TEXT OF THE DECISION IN jabbulao.com under the category RECENT SUPREME COURT DECISIONS.

DIGEST:

 

FACTS:

 

RODOLFO DIED. HIS BROTHER FILED AT RTC PETITION FOR ISSUANCE OF LETTERS OF ADMINISTRATION. ANONUEVO  ET AL INTERVENED. THEY SAID THEIR MOTHER SYLVIA  WAS DAUGHTER  OF ISABEL AND JOHN. BUT AT THE TIME OF RODOLFO’S DEATH, THEIR GRANDMOTHER ISABEL  WAS THE LAWFUL WIFE OF RODOLFO BASED ON A MARRIAGE CERTIFICATE. RODOLFO’S BROTHER  OPPOSED THEIR INTERVENTION BECAUSE THE BIRTH CERTIFICATE OF SYLVIA STATES THAT ISABEL AND JOHN  WERE MARRIED. THEREFORE ISABEL’S MARRIAGE TO RODOLFO WAS NULL AND VOID. ANONUEVO ET AL HOWEVER ARGUED THAT THE ENTRIES IN THE BIRTH CERTIFICATE OF SYLVIA COULD NOT BE USED AS PROOF THAT ISABEL AND JOHN WERE INDEED MARRIED. FURTHER, SUCH  STATEMENT OF MARRIAGE IN THE BIRTH CERTIFICATE IS JUST TO SAVE FACE AND IS CUSTOMARY.

 

ISSUE:

 

CAN ANONUEVO ET AL  INTERVENE?

 

RULING:

 

NO. THEY HAVE NO PERSONAL STANDING TO INTERVENE. THE BIRTH CERTIFICATE OF SYLVIA WHICH SHOWS THAT ISABEL AND JOHN  WERE MARRIED IS SUFFICIENT PROOF THAT INDEED THEY WERE MARRIED. THEREFORE ISABEL’S MARRIAGE TO RODOLFO IS VOID SINCE AT THAT TIME ISABEL WAS STILL MARRIED TO JOHN. BEING NOT MARRIED TO RODOLFO, ISABEL AND HER DESCENDANTS HAVE NO SHARE IN THE ESTATE OF RODOLFO.

 

WHILE A MARRIAGE CERTIFICATE IS CONSIDERED THE PRIMARY EVIDENCE OF A MARITAL UNION, IT IS NOT REGARDED AS THE SOLE AND EXCLUSIVE EVIDENCE OF MARRIAGE.[1][47]  JURISPRUDENCE TEACHES THAT THE FACT OF MARRIAGE MAY BE PROVEN BY RELEVANT EVIDENCE OTHER THAN THE MARRIAGE CERTIFICATE.[2][48]  HENCE, EVEN A PERSON’S BIRTH CERTIFICATE MAY BE RECOGNIZED AS COMPETENT EVIDENCE OF THE MARRIAGE BETWEEN HIS PARENTS. THE REASON “FACE SAVING/ CUSTOMARY” IS WITHOUT MERIT. THE COURT CANNOT TAKE JUDICIAL NOTICE OF A FOLKWAY.

The ruling of the Court:

 

PEREZ, J.:

 

X X X X X X

The second argument of the petitioners is also without merit.  We agree with the finding of the Court of Appeals that the petitioners and their siblings failed to offer sufficient evidence to establish that Isabel was the legal spouse of Rodolfo.  The very evidence of the petitioners and their siblings negates their claim that Isabel has interest in Rodolfo’s estate.

Contrary to the position taken by the petitioners, the existence of a previous marriage between Isabel and John Desantis was adequately established.  This holds true notwithstanding the fact that no marriage certificate between Isabel and John Desantis exists on record.

While a marriage certificate is considered the primary evidence of a marital union, it is not regarded as the sole and exclusive evidence of marriage.[3][47]  Jurisprudence teaches that the fact of marriage may be proven by relevant evidence other than the marriage certificate.[4][48]  Hence, even a person’s birth certificate may be recognized as competent evidence of the marriage between his parents.[5][49]

In the present case, the birth certificate of Sylvia precisely serves as the competent evidence of marriage between Isabel and John Desantis.  As mentioned earlier, it contains the following notable entries: (a) that Isabel and John Desantis were “married” and (b) that Sylvia is their “legitimate” child.[6][50]  In clear and categorical language, Sylvia’s birth certificate speaks of a subsisting marriage between Isabel and John Desantis.

Pursuant to existing laws,[7][51] the foregoing entries are accorded prima facie weight.  They are presumed to be true.  Hence, unless rebutted by clear and convincing evidence, they can, and will, stand as proof of the facts attested.[8][52]  In the case at bench, the petitioners and their siblings offered no such rebuttal.

The petitioners did no better than to explain away the entries in Sylvia’s birth certificate as untruthful statements made only in order to “save face.”[9][53]  They urge this Court to take note of a “typical” practice among unwed Filipino couples to concoct the illusion of marriage and make it appear that a child begot by them is legitimate.  That, the Court cannot countenance.

           The allegations of the petitioners, by themselves and unsupported by any other evidence, do not diminish the probative value of the entries.  This Court cannot, as the petitioners would like Us to do, simply take judicial notice of a supposed folkway and conclude therefrom that the usage was in fact followed.  It certainly is odd that the petitioners would themselves argue that the document on which they based their interest in intervention contains untruthful statements in its vital entries.

Ironically, it is the evidence presented by the petitioners and their siblings themselves which, properly appreciated, supports the finding that Isabel was, indeed, previously married to John Desantis.  Consequently, in the absence of any proof that such marriage had been dissolved by the time Isabel was married to Rodolfo, the inescapable conclusion is that the latter marriage is bigamous and, therefore, void ab initio.

The inability of the petitioners and their siblings to present evidence to prove that Isabel’s prior marriage was dissolved results in a failure to establish that she has interest in the estate of Rodolfo.  Clearly, an intervention by the petitioners and their siblings in the settlement proceedings cannot be justified.  We affirm the Court of Appeals.

WHEREFORE, the instant appeal is DENIED. Accordingly, the decision dated 31 May 2007 of the Court of Appeals in CA-G.R. SP No. 00576 is hereby AFFIRMED.

          Costs against the petitioners.

          SO ORDERED.

  JOSE PORTUGAL PEREZ Associate Justice

 

 

 

 

 

WE CONCUR:

 

 

RENATO C. CORONA

Chief Justice

Chairperson

 

TERESITA J. LEONARDO-DE CASTRO    DIOSDADO M. PERALTA

 Associate Justice                                       Associate Justice

 

ROBERTO A. ABAD

Associate Justice

C E R T I F I C A T I O N

Pursuant to Section 13, Article VIII of the Constitution, it is hereby certified that the conclusions in the above Decision were reached in consultation before the case was assigned to the writer of the opinion of the Court.

       RENATO C. CORONA

                                                                      Chief Justice


 


[1][47]          Trinidad v. Court of Appeals, 352 Phil. 12, 30-31 (1988). 

[2][48]          Pugeda v. Trias, 114 Phil. 781, 787 (1962).

[3][47]          Trinidad v. Court of Appeals, 352 Phil. 12, 30-31 (1988). 

[4][48]          Pugeda v. Trias, 114 Phil. 781, 787 (1962).

[5][49]          In Trinidad v. Court of Appeals, supra note 47 at 30, this Court held:

To prove the fact of marriage, the following would constitute competent evidence: the testimony of a witness to the matrimony, the couple’s public and open cohabitation as husband and wife after the alleged wedlock, the birth and the baptismal certificates of children born during such union, and the mention of such nuptial in subsequent documents. (Pugeda v. Trias, id.) (Emphasis supplied)

[6][50]          CA rollo, p. 64

[7][51]          See Article 410 in relation to Article 408 of the Civil Code and Section 44 of Rule 130 of the Rules of Court.

[8][52]          Bustillo v. People, G.R. No. 160718, 12 May 2010.

[9][53]          Rollo, p. 27.