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Consti Persons Case Digest: Honasan v The Panel of Investigating Prosecutor of the Department of Justice

Gregorio Honasan II petitioner vs.
The Panel of Investigating Prosecutors
Of the Department of Justice
G.R.No. 159747 April 13,2004

Lessons Applicable: Rule on Interpretative Regulations (persons), Powers of the Ombudsman (consti), concurrent jurisdiction of the Ombudsman and the DOJ to conduct preliminary investigation (consti)

Law Applicable: Section 13, Article XI of the Constitution, Art. 2 Civil Code

·         August 4, 2003: CIDG-PNP/P Director Edguardo Matillano  filed an affidavit-complaint with the Department of Justice (DOJ) which contains the following in part:
o   July 27, 2003: crime of coup d’ etat  was committed by military personnel who occupied Oakwood and Senator Gregorio “Gringo” Honasan, II
o   On or about 11 p.m. June 4,2003: A meeting was held and presided by Senator Honasan in a house located in San Juan, Metro Manila
o   Early morning of July 27, 2003: Capt. Gerardo Gambala, in behalf of the military rebels occupying Oakwood, made a public statement aired on national television, stating their withdrawal of support to the chain of command of the AFP and the Government of President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo. Willing to risk their lives to achieve the National Recovery Agenda (NRA) of Senator Honasan which they believe is the only program that would solve the ills of society.

·         Sworn statement of AFP Major Perfecto Ragil stated that:
o   June 4, 2003 about 11 pm: Senator Gregorio “Gringo” Honasan arrived with Capt. Turinga to hold the NRP meeting where they concluded the use of force, violence and armed struggle to achieve the vision of NRP where a junta will be constituted which will run the new government. They had a blood compact and that he only participated due to the threat made by Senator Honasan when he said “Kung kaya nating pumatay sa ating mga kalaban, kaya din nating pumatay sa mga kasamahang magtataksil.”
o   July 27, 2003: He saw on TV that Lieutenant Antonio Trillanes, Captain Gerardo Gambala, Captain Alejano and some others who were present during the NRP meeting he attended, having a press conference about their occupation of the Oakwood Hotel.  He saw that the letter "I" on the arm bands and the banner is the same letter "I" in the banner is the same as their blood compact wound. 
·         August 27, 2003: Senator Honasan appeared with counsel at the DOJ to file a a Motion for Clarification questioning DOJ's jurisdiction over the case since the imputed acts were committed in relation to his public office  by a group of public officials with Salary Grade 31 which should be handled by the Office of the Ombudsman and the Sandiganbayan
·         Senator Honasan then filed a petition for certiorari under Rule 65 of the Rules of Court against the DOJ Panel and its members, CIDG-PNP-P/Director Eduardo Matillano and Ombudsman Simeon V. Marcelo, attributing grave abuse of discretion on the part of the DOJ Panel in issuing the aforequoted Order of September 10, 2003 directing him to file his respective counter-affidavits and controverting evidence on the ground that the DOJ has no jurisdiction to conduct the preliminary investigation

  1. Whether in regards to Ombudsman-DOJ Circular no. 95-001, the office of the Ombudsman should deputize the prosecutors of the DOJ to conduct the preliminary investigation.
  2. Whether the Ombudsman-DOJ Joint Circular no. 95-001 is ineffective on the ground that it was not published
  3. Whether the Ombudsman has jurisdiction to conduct the preliminary investigation because the petitioner is a public officer with salary grade 31 (Grade 27 or Higher) thereby falling within the jurisdiction of the Sandigan Bayan.

Held: Wherefore, the petition for certiorari is DISMISSED for lack of merit

1.      No.
  • Ombudsman cases involving criminal offenses may be subdivided into two classes, to wit: (1) those cognizable by the Sandiganbayan, and (2) those falling under the jurisdiction of the regular courts. The difference between the two, aside from the category of the courts wherein they are filed, is on the authority to investigate as distinguished from the authority to prosecute
  • The power to investigate or conduct a preliminary investigation on any Ombudsman case may be exercised by an investigator or prosecutor of the Office of the Ombudsman, or by any Provincial or City Prosecutor or their assistance, either in their regular capacities or as deputized Ombudsman prosecutors.
  • circular supports the view of the respondent Ombudsman that it is just an internal agreement between the Ombudsman and the DOJ
  • The Constitution, The Ombudsman Act of 1989, Administrative order no. 8 of the office of the Ombudsman. The prevailing jurisprudence and under the Revised Rules on Criminal Procedure, All recognize and uphold the concurrent jurisdiction of the Ombudsman and the DOJ to conduct preliminary investigation on charges filed against public officers and employees.
  • The DOJ Panel need not be authorized nor deputized by the Ombudsman to conduct the preliminary investigation for complaints filed with it because the DOJ's authority to act as the principal law agency of the government and investigate the commission of crimes under the Revised Penal Code is derived from the Revised Administrative Code which had been held in the Natividad case13 as not being contrary to the Constitution. Thus, there is not even a need to delegate the conduct of the preliminary investigation to an agency which has the jurisdiction to do so in the first place. However, the Ombudsman may assert its primary jurisdiction at any stage of the investigation.

2.      No.
·         In the case of People vs. Que Po Lay, 94 Phil. 640 (1954). The only circulars and regulations which prescribe a penalty for its violation should be published before becoming effective.
·         In the case of Taňada V. Tuvera, 146 Scra 453 (1986), The Honorable Court rules that:
o   Interpretative regulations and those merely internal in nature, that is regulating only the personnel of the administrative agency and not the public, need not be published. Neither is publication required of the so called letters of instructions issued by the administrative superiors concerning the rules on guidelines to be followed by their subordinates in performance of their duties.
  • OMB-DOJ Joint Circulars no. 95-001 is merely an internal circular between the DOJ and the office of the Ombudsman, Outlining authority and responsibilities among prosecutors of the DOJ and of the office of the Ombudsman in the conduct of preliminary investigation. It does not regulate the conduct of persons or the public, in general.

3.      No. Whether or not the offense is within exclusive jurisdiction or not will not resolve the present petition so as not to pre-empt the result of the investigation conducted by the DOJ Panel.