PCGG CHAIRMAN MAGDANGAL B. ELMA and PCGG, petitioners,
REINER JACOBI, CRISPIN REYES, MERCEDITAS N. GUTIERREZ, in her capacity as Undersecretary of DOJ, respondent.
[G.R. No. 155996. June 27, 2012]
There were several letters showing that there exists agreement between PCGG and respondent Jacobi entitling the latter of incentive percentage for efforts in recovering ill-gotten wealth of the Marcoses. Respondent Jacobi filed before the Sandiganbayan thru his counsel Atty. Reyes a petition for mandamus, prohibition and certiorari (with prayer for injunction) against PCGG for allegedly re-hiring two “trojan horse” consultants preventing the enforcement of claims against the Marcoses. Another similar thrust was filed before the Ombudsman against PCGG in violation of R.A. No. 3019, with a later manifestation of withdrawing a letter because Jacobi is allegedly part of said letter. PCGG claimed that said that the letter is a falsified document there being nothing on their records that such ever existed. PCGG through Chairman Elma filed before the DOJ criminal complaint under Art.171 par.2 and Art. 172 pars.1 and 3 of RPC against respondents. No summons were issued to respondents. DOJ found no probable cause on the complaint and the case was dismissed.
1. Whether certiorari under Rule 65 is the proper remedy to question the DOJ’s determination of probable cause.
a) If it is, where should the petition be filed.
2. Whether the DOJ committed grave abuse of discretion.
a) In (i) effectively allowing Jacobi to simultaneously avail of the remedy of a petition for review and a motion for reconsideration, and (ii) file a second motion for reconsideration.
b) In finding that no probable cause for falsification and use of falsified document exists against the respondents
(a) No. The respondents are mistaken in their claim that petition for review under Rule 43 is the proper remedy. By weighing the evidence submitted by the parties in a preliminary investigation and by making an independent assessment thereof, an investigating prosecutor is, to that extent, performing functions of a quasi-judicial nature in the conduct of a preliminary investigation. However, since he does not make a determination of the rights of any party in the proceeding, or pronounce the respondent’s guilt or innocence (thus limiting his action to the determination of probable cause to file an information in court), an investigating prosecutor’s function still lacks the element of adjudication essential to an appeal under Rule 43.
As an extraordinary remedy, Rule 65 of the Rules of Court does not require that summons be issued to the respondent; the service upon him of an order to file its Comment or Memorandum is sufficient. But it is required that this be filed before the Court of Appeals and not directly to SC under the doctrine of hierarchy of courts. SC’s original jurisdiction may be allowed only if there are special and important reasons clearly and specifically set out in the petition or where exceptional and compelling circumstances justify availment of a remedy within and calling for the exercise of its primary jurisdiction.
(a) No. The ruling on Jacobi’s second MR and on Atty. Reyes’ first MR cannot be appreciated as grave abuse of discretion. While it seemingly violated established rules of procedure, it provided ample justification therefor – the avoidance of possibility of two conflicting rulings on two motions treating of the same inseparable subject matter.
(b) No. The existence of several letters and reports made by the respondents to the PCGG, shows that the PCGG was at least aware of the respondents’ efforts to assist in the recovery efforts of the government, in general, and of the PCGG, in particular. Therefore, forging a letter that would simply be evidence of an implied agreement for those services hardly makes any sense. Considering the inapplicability of the presumption of authorship and the dearth of evidence to support the allegation of conspiracy, much less of evidence directly imputing the forgery of the De Guzman letter to Jacobi, SC found no grave abuse of discretion on the part of the DOJ in absolving respondent Jacobi.