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Momongan v.

Judge Omipon
A.M. No. MTJ-93-874, March 14, 1995, 242 SCRA 332

Syllabus:
The confiscation proceedings under AO No. 59 is different from the confiscation under the Revised Penal
Code, which is an additional penalty imposed in the event of conviction. Despite the order of release, the truck can be
seized again either by filing a motion for reinvestigation and motion to include the truck owner/driver, as co-accused,
which complainant has done as manifested before the lower court or by enforcing AO No. 59. Section 12 thereof
categorically states that “[t]he confiscation of the conveyance under these regulations shall be without prejudice to
any criminal action which shall be filed against the owner thereof or any person who used the conveyance in the
commission of the offense.”

Facts:
Dionisio Golpe was apprehended by police officers while he was driving his truck loaded with illegally cut
lumber. It was later found that a certain Basilio Cabig owned the logs, thus, a complaint was filed against him. Judge
Rafael Omipon, the respondent in this case, “found that a prima facie case exists against Cabig but he ordered the
release of the truck inasmuch as the owner/driver, Golpe, was not charged in the complaint.” Augustus Momongan,
the Regional Director of the DENR, filed the present complaint against Judge Omipon alleging that his order releasing
the truck used in the transport of illegally cut forest products violated Section 68 and 68-A of PD No. 705 and AO No.
59, Series of 1990. Momongan further claims that Judge Omipon is devoid of authority to release the truck despite
the non-inclusion of Golpe in the complaint.

Issue:
Whether Judge Omipon had authority to release the assailed truck and thus be free from any disciplinary
sanction.

Ruling:
Yes. Judge Omipon had the authority to order the release of the truck. Although the DENR Secretary or his
duly authorized representatives have the power to confiscate any illegally obtained or gathered forest products and all
conveyances used in the commission of the offense, based on Section 68-A of PD No. 705 and AO No. 59, this
power is in relation to the administrative jurisdiction of the DENR. The act of Judge Omipon of releasing the truck did
not violate PD No. 705 and AO No. 59 because his act did not render nugatory the administrative authority of the
DENR Secretary. “The confiscation proceedings under Administrative Order No. 59 is different from the confiscation
under the Revised Penal Code, which is an additional penalty imposed in the event of conviction.” Momongan assails
that Judge Omipon should have turned over the truck to the Community Environment and Natural Resources Office
(CENRO). Judge Omipon however had no mandatory duty to do so, and should therefore not be visited with
disciplinary action.