G.R. No. 148560 November 19,2001
· Consti – Overbreadth doctrine, void-for-vagueness doctrine
· Crim Law 1- mala in se
· Crim pro – proof beyond reasonable doubt
Laws Applicable: Art. 3 RPC
- An information is filed against former President Joseph Ejercito Estrada a.k.a. 'Asiong Salonga' and 'Jose Velarde,' together with Jose 'Jinggoy' Estrada, Charlie 'Atong' Ang, Edward Serapio, Yolanda T. Ricaforte, Alma Alfaro, John Doe a.k.a. Eleuterio Tan or Eleuterio Ramos Tan or Mr. Uy, Jane Doe a.k.a. Delia Rajas and John Does & Jane Does of the crime of Plunder under RA 7080 (An Act Defining and Penalizing the Crime of Plunder)
- June, 1998 to January 2001: Estrada himself and/or in connivance/conspiracy with his co-accused, who are members of his family, relatives by affinity or consanguinity, business associates, subordinates and/or other persons, by taking undue advantage of his official position, authority, relationship, connection, or influence, did then and there willfully, unlawfully and criminally amass, accumulate and acquire by himself, directly or indirectly, ill-gotten wealth of P4,097,804,173.17 thereby unjustly enriching himself or themselves at the expense and to the damage of the Filipino people and the Republic of the Philippines, through any or a combination or a series of overt or criminal acts, or similar schemes or means
- Received P545,000,000.00 in the form of gift, share, percentage, kickback or any form of pecuniary benefit, by himself and/or in connection with co-accused Charlie 'Atong' Ang, Jose 'Jinggoy' Estrada, Yolanda T. Ricaforte, Edward Serapio, and John Does and Jane Does, in consideration of toleration or protection of illegal gambling
- Diverting, receiving, misappropriating, converting or misusing directly or indirectly, for his or their personal gain and benefit, public funds of P130,000,000.00, more or less, representing a portion of P200,000,000.00) tobacco excise tax share allocated for the province of Ilocos Sur under R.A. No. 7171, by himself and/or in connivance with co-accused Charlie 'Atong' Ang, Alma Alfaro, John Doe a.k.a. Eleuterio Ramos Tan or Mr. Uy, Jane Doe a.k.a. Delia Rajas, and other John Does & Jane Does
- For His Personal Gain And Benefit, The Government Service Insurance System (GSIS) To Purchase 351,878,000 Shares Of Stocks, More Or Less, And The Social Security System (SSS), 329,855,000 Shares Of Stock, More Or Less, Of The Belle Corporation worth P1,102,965,607.50 and P744,612,450.00 respectively and by collecting or receiving, directly or indirectly, by himself and/or in connivance with John Does and Jane Does, commissions or percentages by reason of said purchases which became part of the deposit in the equitable-pci bank under the account name “Jose Velarde”
- by unjustly enriching himself from commissions, gifts, shares, percentages, kickbacks, or any form of pecuniary benefits, in connivance with John Does and Jane Does, P3,233,104,173.17 and depositing the same under his account name “Jose Velarde” at the Equitable-Pci Bank
- Estrada questions the constitutionality of the Plunder Law since for him:
1. it suffers from the vice of vagueness
2. it dispenses with the "reasonable doubt" standard in criminal prosecutions
3. it abolishes the element of mens rea in crimes already punishable under The Revised Penal Code
· April 4, 2001: Office of the Ombudsman filed before the Sandiganbayan 8 separate Informations, docketed as:
1. Crim. Case No. 26558, for violation of RA 7080, as amended by RA 7659
2. Crim. Cases Nos. 26559 to 26562, inclusive, for violation of Secs. 3, par. (a), 3, par. (a), 3, par. (e) and 3, par. (e), of RA 3019 (Anti-Graft and Corrupt Practices Act), respectively
3. Crim. Case No. 26563, for violation of Sec. 7, par. (d), of RA 6713 (The Code of Conduct and Ethical Standards for Public Officials and Employees)
4. Crim. Case No. 26564, for Perjury (Art. 183 of The Revised Penal Code)
5. Crim. Case No. 26565, for Illegal Use Of An Alias (CA No. 142, as amended by RA 6085)
· April 11, 2001: Estrada filed an Omnibus Motion on the grounds of lack of preliminary investigation, reconsideration/reinvestigation of offenses and opportunity to prove lack of probable cause. - Denied
· April 25, 2001: Sandiganbayan issued a Resolution in Crim. Case No. 26558 finding that a probable cause for the offense of plunder exists to justify the issuance of warrants for the arrest of the accused
· June 14, 2001: Estrada moved to quash the Information in Crim. Case No. 26558 on the ground that the facts alleged therein did NOT constitute an indictable offense since the law on which it was based was unconstitutional for vagueness and that the Amended Information for Plunder charged more than 1 offense – Denied
· Estrada filed a petition for certiorari are:
1. The Plunder Law is unconstitutional for being vague
2. The Plunder Law requires less evidence for proving the predicate crimes of plunder and therefore violates the rights of the accused to due process
3. Whether Plunder as defined in RA 7080 is a malum prohibitum, and if so, whether it is within the power of Congress to so classify it
1. W/N the Plunder Law is constitutional (consti1)
2. W/N the Plunder Law dispenses with the "reasonable doubt" standard in criminal prosecutions (crim pro)
3. W/N the Plunder Law is a malum prohibitum (crim law 1)
HELD: Petition is dismissed. Plunder Law is constitutional.
· Miserably failed in the instant case to discharge his burden and overcome the presumption of constitutionality of the Plunder Law
· Plunder Law contains ascertainable standards and well-defined parameters which would enable the accused to determine the nature of his violation.
· Combination- at least two (2) acts falling under different categories of enumeration
· series - must be two (2) or more overt or criminal acts falling under the same category of enumeration
· pattern - at least a combination or series of overt or criminal acts enumerated in subsections (1) to (6) of Sec. 1 (d)
· Void-For-Vagueness Doctrine - a statute which either forbids or requires the doing of an act in terms so vague that men of common intelligence must necessarily guess at its meaning and differ as to its application, violates the first essential of due process of law
o The test in determining whether a criminal statute is void for uncertainty is whether the language conveys a sufficiently definite warning as to the proscribed conduct when measured by common understanding and practice
o can only be invoked against that specie of legislation that is utterly vague on its face, i.e., that which cannot be clarified either by a saving clause or by construction
o a statute or act may be said to be vague when it lacks comprehensible standards that men of common intelligence must necessarily guess at its meaning and differ in its application.
o the statute is repugnant to the Constitution in 2 respects:
a. it violates due process for failure to accord persons, especially the parties targeted by it, fair notice of what conduct to avoid
b. it leaves law enforcers unbridled discretion in carrying out its provisions and becomes an arbitrary flexing of the Government muscle
o As for the vagueness doctrine, it is said that a litigant may challenge a statute on its face only if it is vague in all its possible applications
· Overbreadth Doctrine - a governmental purpose may NOT be achieved by means which sweep unnecessarily broadly and thereby invade the area of protected freedoms
o overbreadth claims, if entertained at all, have been curtailed when invoked against ordinary criminal laws that are sought to be applied to protected conduct
· A facial challenge is allowed to be made to a vague statute and to one which is overbroad because of possible "chilling effect" upon protected speech.
· Criminal statutes have general in terrorem effect resulting from their very existence, and, if facial challenge is allowed for this reason alone, the State may well be prevented from enacting laws against socially harmful conduct. In the area of criminal law, the law cannot take chances as in the area of free speech.
· The overbreadth and vagueness doctrines then have special application only to free speech cases.
· The use of the "reasonable doubt" standard is indispensable to command the respect and confidence of the community in the application of criminal law.
o has acquired such exalted stature in the realm of constitutional law as it gives life to the Due Process Clause which protects the accused against conviction except upon proof beyond reasonable doubt of every fact necessary to constitute the crime with which he is charged
· What the prosecution needs to prove beyond reasonable doubt is only a number of acts sufficient to form a combination or series which would constitute a pattern and involving an amount of at least P50,000,000.00. There is no need to prove each and every other act alleged in the Information to have been committed by the accused in furtherance of the overall unlawful scheme or conspiracy to amass, accumulate or acquire ill-gotten wealth
o Pattern is merely a by-product of the proof of the predicate acts. This conclusion is consistent with reason and common sense. There would be no other explanation for a combination or series of overt or criminal acts to stash P50,000,000.00 or more, than "a scheme or conspiracy to amass, accumulate or acquire ill gotten wealth."
· plunder is a malum in se which requires proof of criminal intent (mens rea)
o Any person who participated with the said public officer in the commission of an offense contributing to the crime of plunder shall likewise be punished for such offense.
o In the imposition of penalties, the degree of participation and the attendance of mitigating and extenuating circumstances, as provided by the Revised Penal Code, shall be considered by the court.
§ indicates quite clearly that mens rea is an element of plunder since the degree of responsibility of the offender is determined by his criminal intent
o The legislative declaration in R.A. No. 7659 that plunder is a heinous offense implies that it is a malum in se. For when the acts punished are inherently immoral or inherently wrong, they are mala in se and it does not matter that such acts are punished in a special law, especially since in the case of plunder the predicate crimes are mainly mala in se