G. R. No. 85468, September 07, 1989
DOROMA VS. SANDIGANBAYAN, Ombudsman and Special Prosecutor
- Quintin S. Doromal, a former Commissioner of the Presidential Commission on Good Government (PCGG), for violation of the Anti-Graft and Corrupt Practices Act (RA 3019), Sec. 3(h), in connection with his shareholdings and position as president and director of the Doromal International Trading Corporation (DITC) which submitted bids to supply P61 million worth of electronic, electrical, automotive, mechanical and airconditioning equipment to the Department of Education, Culture and Sports (or DECS) and the National Manpower and Youth Council (or NMYC).
- An information was then filed by the “Tanodbayan” against Doromal for the said violation and a preliminary investigation was conducted.
- The petitioner then filed a petition for certiorari and prohibition questioning the jurisdiction of the “Tanodbayan” to file the information without the approval of the Ombudsman.
- The Supreme Court held that the incumbent Tanodbayan (called Special Prosecutor under the 1987 Constitution and who is supposed to retain powers and duties NOT GIVEN to the Ombudsman) is clearly without authority to conduct preliminary investigations and to direct the filing of criminal cases with the Sandiganbayan, except upon orders of the Ombudsman. Subsequently annulling the information filed by the “Tanodbayan”.
- A new information, duly approved by the Ombudsman, was filed in the Sandiganbayan, alleging that the Doromal, a public officer, being then a Commissioner of the Presidential Commission on Good Government, did then and there wilfully and unlawfully, participate in a business through the Doromal International Trading Corporation, a family corporation of which he is the President, and which company participated in the biddings conducted by the Department of Education, Culture and Sports and the National Manpower & Youth Council, which act or participation is prohibited by law and the constitution.
- The petitioner filed a motion to quash the information on the ground that it was invalid since there had been no preliminary investigation for the new information that was filed against him.
- The motion was denied by Sandiganbayan claiming that another preliminary investigation is unnecessary because both old and new informations involve the same subject matter.
Whether or not the act of Doromal would constitute a violation of the Constitution.
Whether or not preliminary investigation is necessary even if both informations involve the same subject matter.
Whether or not the information shall be effected as invalid due to the absence of preliminary investigation.
Yes, as to the first and second issuses. No, as to the third issue. Petition was granted by the Supreme Court.
- (1) The presence of a signed document bearing the signature of Doromal as part of the application to bid shows that he can rightfully be charged with having participated in a business which act is absolutely prohibited by Section 13 of Article VII of the Constitution" because "the DITC remained a family corporation in which Doromal has at least an indirect interest."
- Section 13, Article VII of the 1987 Constitution provides that "the President, Vice-President, the members of the Cabinet and their deputies or assistants shall not... during (their) tenure, ...directly or indirectly... participate in any business.
- (2) The right of the accused to a preliminary investigation is "a substantial one." Its denial over his opposition is a "prejudicial error, in that it subjects the accused to the loss of life, liberty, or property without due process of law" provided by the Constitution.
- Since the first information was annulled, the preliminary investigation conducted at that time shall also be considered as void. Due to that fact, a new preliminary investigation must be conducted.
- (3) The absence of preliminary investigation does not affect the court's jurisdiction over the case. Nor do they impair the validity of the information or otherwise render it defective; but, if there were no preliminary investigations and the defendants, before entering their plea, invite the attention of the court to their absence, the court, instead of dismissing the information should conduct such investigation, order the fiscal to conduct it or remand the case to the inferior court so that the preliminary investigation may be conducted.
- WHEREFORE, the petition for certiorari and prohibition is granted. The Sandiganbayan shall immediately remand Criminal Case No. 12893 to the Office of the Ombudsman for preliminary investigation and shall hold in abeyance the proceedings before it pending the result of such investigation.