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5/23/2017 G.R.No.

139930

G.R. No. 139930 REPUBLIC OF THE PHILIPPINES v. EDUARDO M. COJUANGCO,


JR., JUAN PONCE ENRILE, MARIA CLARA L. LOBREGAT, JOSE R.
ELEAZAR,JR.,JOSEC.CONCEPCION,ROLANDOP.DELACUESTA,
EMMANUEL M. ALMEDA, HERMENEGILDO C. ZAYCO, NARCISO
M. PINEDA, IAKI R. MENDEZONA, DANILO S. URSUA, TEODORO
D. REGALA, VICTOR P. LAZATIN, ELEAZAR B. REYES, EDUARDO
U. ESCUETA, LEO J. PALMA, DOUGLAS LU YM, SIGFREDO
VELOSOANDJAIMEGANDIAGA.
xx

CONCURRINGOPINION


BERSAMIN,J.:

ICONCURwiththeMajorityOpinionwrittenbyJusticeAbad.Likehim,Ifindandholdthat
theStatealreadylosttherighttoprosecuterespondentsforviolatingSection3(e)ofRepublic
ActNo.3019byFebruary8,1990,ortenyearsafterUNICOMfileditsAmendedArticlesof
Incorporation.

RespondentswerechargedwithviolatingSection3(e)ofRepublicActNo.3019forallegedly
wateringdowntheP495millionworthofnoparvaluestocksinUNICOMbyUnitedCoconut
PlantersBank(UCPB)withfundstakenfromtheCoconutIndustryInvestmentFund(CIIF).But
the offense charged clearly prescribed upon the lapse of ten years from the date of its
[1]
commissiononFebruary8,1980,theprescriptiveperiodapplicabletotheoffensecharged.

Theissueofwhentoreckonthecommissionoftheoffensechargedisnotdifficulttodetermine.
I disagree that the commission of the offense should be reckoned from the filing of the 1980
GeneralInformationSheet(GIS).Instead,Ifinditmorelogicaltoreckonthecommissionofthe
offense to the filing of the Amended Articles of Incorporation on February 8, 1980 in the
SecuritiesandExchangeCommission(SEC).Indeed,theCertificateofIncreaseofCapitalStock
[2]
thatUNICOMfiledonSeptember17,1979involvedtheaffectedshareholdings. Thesecond
page of the certificate clearly showed that UCPB had subscribed to 4,000,000 nopar value
[3]
shares worth P495 million. The certificate is significant because it reflected the very same
shareholdingsthatrespondentsallegedlydilutedbyincreasingUNICOMscapitalstockfrom10
milliontoonebillionshares.

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Although it did not reflect the subject investment of UCPB, the Amended Articles of
Incorporation filed on February 8, 1980 is indisputably the only trustworthy evidence that
provedthedilution.InotethattheStateitselfpresentedtheAmendedArticlesofIncorporation
to establish its allegations because the Amended Articles of Incorporation showed that
UNICOMhadincreaseditscapitalstocktoP1,000,000,000.00,dividedasfollows:500,000,000
ClassAvotingcommonshares400,000,000ClassBvotingcommonsharesand100,000,000
[4]
ClassCnonvotingcommonshares,allhavingaparvalueofP1.00pershare. Thefilingin
theSECandthesubsequentapprovalbytheSECoftheAmendedArticlesofIncorporationon
February 8, 1980 indubitably consummated the unlawful transaction alleged in the
information.ReckoningtheprescriptionperiodfromFebruary8,1980wasreallywarrantedby
therecords.

AstowhetherornotthecriminalactionprescribedastoEduardoM.Cojuangco,Jr.becausehis
supposedabsencefromthecountryintheperiodfrom1986to1991hadinterruptedtherunning
oftheperiodofprescription,Irespectfullysubmitthattherewasnointerruptionevenassuming
thatsaidrespondenthadtrulybeenabsentfromthecountryinthatperiod.

TheapplicableruleforcomputingtheprescriptiveperiodofaviolationofRepublicAct
No.3019isActNo.3326(AnActtoEstablishPeriodsofPrescriptionforViolationsPenalized
by Special Acts and Municipal Ordinances and to Provide When Prescription Shall Begin to
[5]
Run). TherelevantprovisionisSection2,whichstates:

Section2.Prescriptionshallbegintorunfromthedayofthecommissionoftheviolationof
thelaw,andifthesamebenotknownatthetime,fromthediscoverythereofandtheinstitution
ofjudicialproceedingforitsinvestigationandpunishment.

The prescription shall be interrupted when proceedings are instituted against the
guiltyperson,andshallbegintorunagainiftheproceedingsaredismissedforreasonsnot
constitutingjeopardy.

ItisnoticeablethatSection2,supra,doesnotstatetheeffectontheprescriptiveperiodofan
accusedsabsencefromthecountry.

Yet, the Minority insist that respondent Cojuangco, Jr.s purported absence from the
countryinterruptedtherunningoftheprescriptiveperiod,citingArticle91oftheRevisedPenal

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Code,whichpertinentlyprovidesthat[t]hetermofprescriptionshallnotrunwhentheoffender
is absent from the Philippine Archipelago. The Minority justify their insistence by relying on
Article10oftheRevisedPenalCodethatdeclarestheRevisedPenalCodetobesupplementary
tospeciallawsunlesssuchspeciallawsshouldspeciallyprovidethecontrary.

IcannotaccepttheMinoritysinsistence.IcertainlydoubtthattheomissionbytheLegislature
fromActNo.3326oftheeffectontherunningoftheprescriptiveperiodoftheabsenceofthe
accused from the country was an inadvertent drafting error on the part of the Legislature. As
such, the omission does not give to the Court the license to apply Article 91 of the Revised
PenalCodeatwillinordertosupplytheomission.Casusomissusprohabendusest.Aperson,
object,orthingomittedfromanenumerationinastatutemustbeheldtohavebeenintentionally
[6]
omitted. ItissettledthatifcasesshouldariseforwhichCongresshasmadenoprovision,the
[7] [8]
courts cannot supply the omission. A casus omissus does not justify judicial legislation,
[9]
mostparticularlyinrespectofstatutesdefiningandpunishingcriminaloffenses.

Bearinginmindthatprescriptionisamatterofpositivelegislationandcannotbeestablishedby
[10]
mereimplicationsordeductions, IconstruethesilenceofActNo.3326ontheeffectofthe
absenceoftheaccusedfromthecountryasaclearandundeniablelegislativestatement that
suchabsencedoesnotinterrupttherunningoftheprescriptiveperiodforviolationsofspecial
[11]
penallaws.InRomualdezv.Marcelo, theCourtclearlydeclaredso,holdingthatSection2,
supra,was:
xxxconspicuouslysilentastowhethertheabsenceoftheoffenderfromthePhilippinesbarsthe
running of the prescriptive period. The silence of the law can only be interpreted to mean that
Section 2 of Act No. 3326 did not intend such an interruption of the prescription unlike the
explicitmandateofArticle91.Thus,aspreviouslyheld:

Evenontheassumptionthatthereisinfactalegislativegapcausedbysuchanomission,
neither could the Court presume otherwise and supply the details thereof, because a
legislativelacunacannotbefilledbyjudicialfiat.Indeed,courtsmaynot,intheguiseof
the interpretation, enlarge the scope of a statute and include therein situations not
provided nor intended by the lawmakers. An omission at the time of the enactment,
whethercarelessorcalculated,cannotbejudiciallysuppliedhoweverafterlaterwisdom
mayrecommendtheinclusion.Courtsarenotauthorizedtoinsertintothelawwhatthey
thinkshouldbeinitortosupplywhattheythinkthelegislaturewouldhavesuppliedifits
[12]
attentionhasbeencalledtotheomission.
ThisconstructionentirelyprecludestheapplicationofArticle91oftheRevisedPenalCode
eveninasuppletorymanner.

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Section2ofActNo.3326expresslyprovidesonlyoneinstanceinwhichtheprescriptive
periodisinterrupted,thatis,whencriminalproceedingsareinstitutedagainsttheguiltyperson.
[13]
Inthatregard,thefilingofthecomplaintforpurposesofpreliminaryinvestigationinterrupts
[14]
theperiodofprescription. Hence,theprescriptiveperiodforcriminalviolationsofR.A.No.
3019istolledonlywhentheOfficeoftheOmbudsmaneitherreceivesacomplaint,orinitiates
[15]
itsowninvestigationoftheviolations.

Herein,therunningofthe10yearprescriptiveperiodwastolledonlywhentheOfficeof
the Ombudsman actually received the complaint filed by the Office of the Solicitor General.
Although the records do not bear the date of receipt by the Office of the Ombudsman, I am
nonetheless sure that the date was definitely not March 1, 1990, when the complaint was
wronglyfiledwiththePresidentialCommissiononGoodGovernment(PCGG).Rather,thedate
couldonlybeafterOctober2,1990,whentheCourtpromulgatedthedecisioninCojuangco,Jr.
[16]
v. Presidential Commission on Good Government, simply because that decision was what
caused the PCGG to transfer the wronglyfiled complaint to the Office of the Ombudsman in
[17]
order to commence the criminal prosecution. To recall, the Court said in Cojuangco, Jr. v.
PresidentialCommissiononGoodGovernmentthatitwouldbemoreintheinterestofajustand
fair administration of justice if the PCGG was prohibited from conducting a preliminary
investigation and instead to just allow the Office of the Ombudsman to investigate and take
[18]
appropriateaction. Yet,bythattime(i.e., October 2, 1990), prescription had already set in
(asofFebruary8,1990).

IcannotsubscribetotheMinorityssubmissionthattheperiodofprescriptionshouldrunfrom
thedateofdiscoveryinsteadofthedateofthecommissionoftheoffense.
The transaction in question was evidenced by public instruments and records. There is good
authority for the view that when the offense has not been concealed, such as when it is
evidencedbypublicdocumentsorisamatterofpublicrecordopentoinspection,theState
will not be permitted to plead ignorance of the act of the accused in order to evade the
[19]
operation of the Statute of Limitations. Nor may we presume a connivance among
respondentsfromthefactthattheboardsofdirectorsofUNICOMandUCPBhadinterlocking
members who might have effectively concealed the transaction from the public in order to

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justifythereckoningfromthedateofdiscovery.AsJusticeAbadsMajorityOpinionsufficiently
indicates,thiscasewasnotlikeacriminalprosecutionbasedonthesecretivegrantingofbehest
loans as to which reckoning the period from the date of discovery of the offense would be
justified. The transaction in question had already left the boardrooms of both UCPB and
UNICOMwhentheSECapprovedtheincreaseincapitalization.InPeople v. Sandiganbayan,
[20]
the Court applied the dateofcommission rule as the start of the reckoning because the
illegaltransactioninvolvedhadpassedthehandsofseveralpublicofficials.Here,thefactthat
theincreasedcapitalizationwasapprovedandcertifiedbynolessthantheSEC,thegovernment
[21]
agencyestablishedtoprotectbothdomesticandforeigninvestmentsandthepublic, called
fortheuseofthedateofcommissionrule.

Having interlocking directors between UNICOM and UCPB was insignificant
consideringthatthetransactioninquestionwasnotdoneonlywithinthetwocorporations,but
involvedtheparticipationoftheSEC,athirdpartywiththeexpressdutytoensurethelegality
ofcorporatetransactionslikeincreasedcapitalization.

Lastly,Ineedtoremindthatintheinterpretationofthelawonprescriptionofcrimes,thatwhich
[22]
ismostfavorabletotheaccusedistobeadopted. AsbetweenSection2ofRepublicActNo.
3326andArticle91oftheRevisedPenalCode, therefore, the former is controlling due to its
being more favorable to the accused. This interpretation also accords most with the nature of
prescriptionasastatuteofreposewhoseobjectistosuppressfraudulentandstaleclaimsfrom
springingupatgreatdistancesoftimeandsurprisingthepartiesortheirrepresentativeswhen
the facts have become obscure from the lapse of time or the defective memory or death or
[23]
removalofwitnesses. Morethanbeinganactofgrace,prescription,asastatuteoflimitation,
isequivalenttoanactofamnesty,whichshallbegintorunuponthecommissionoftheoffense
[24]
ratherthanuponthediscoveryoftheoffense.

IVOTEtodenythepetition.


LUCASP.BERSAMIN
AssociateJustice


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[1]
PriortoMarch16,1982,theapplicableprescriptiveperiodforalloffensespunishableunderRepublicActNo.3019wastenyears
(Section11ofRepublicActNo.3019).BatasPambansaBlg.195(whichtookeffectuponitsapprovalonMarch16,1982)raisedthe
periodofprescriptiontofifteenyears.
[2]
Rollo,pp.8083.
[3]
Id.,p.81.
[4]
Rollo,p.92.
[5]
Republic v. Desierto, G.R. No. 136506, August 23, 2001, 363 SCRA 585, 597598 Domingo v. Sandiganbayan, G.R. No.
109376,January20,2000,322SCRA655,663.
[6]
MunicipalityofNuevaEra,IlocosNortev.MunicipalityofMarcos,IlocosNorte,G.R.No.169435,February27,2008,547SCRA
71,94CommissiononAuditoftheProvinceofCebuv.ProvinceofCebu,G.R.No.141386,November29,2001,371SCRA196,
205.
[7]
DelMonteMiningCo.v.LastChanceMiningCo.,171U.S.55,66(1898).
[8]
Ebertv.Poston,266U.S.548,543(1925).
[9]
Black,HandbookontheConstructionandInterpretationofLaws(2008),p.59citingBroadheadv.Holdsworth,L.R.2Ex.Div.
321andStatev.Peters,37La.Ann.730.
[10]
Hermanosv.DelaRiva,G.R.No.L19827,April6,1923.
[11]
G.R.No.16551033,July28,2006,497SCRA89.
[12]
QuotingCanetv.Decena,G.R.No.155344,January20,2004,420SCRA388,394.
[13]
SeePeoplev.Romualdez,G.R.No.166510,April29,2009,587SCRA123PresidentialAdHocFactFindingCommitteeon
BehestLoansv.Desierto,G.R.No.130817,August22,2001,363SCRA489.
[14]
SanrioCompanyLimitedv.Lim,G.R.No.168662,February19,2008,546SCRA303Brillantev.CourtofAppeals,G.R.Nos.
118757&121571,October19,2004,440SCRA541.
[15]
Peoplev.Romualdez,G.R.No.166510,April29,2009,587SCRA123,134.
[16]
G.R.Nos.9231920,October2,1990,190SCRA226.
[17]
Rollo,pp.4344.
[18]
Supra,note16,atp.257.
[19]
IFeria&Gregorio,CommentsontheRevisedPenalCode,1958FirstEdition,pp.666667,citingPeoplev.Dinsay,40O.G.No.
18,63.
[20]
G.R.No.101724,July3,1992,211SCRA241,246247.
[21]
SeeP.D.No.902A.
[22]
Peoplev.Reyes,G.R.Nos.7422627,July27,1989,175SCRA597,608609.
[23]
Bergadov.CourtofAppeals,G.R.No.84051,May19,1989,173SCRA497,503Sinaonv.Sorogon,G.R.No.L59879,May
13,1985,136SCRA407,410.
[24]
Peoplev.Sandiganbayan,G.R.No.101724,July3,1992,211SCRA241,247.

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