Budiongan v. De la Cruz G.R. No. 170288, September 22, 2006

Fact: By virtue of Municipal Ordinance, the Municipality of Carmen, Bohol appropriated an amount for the purchase of a road roller for the municipality. However, the Municipal Development Council recommended that the amount be realigned and used for the asphalt laying of a portion of a Street. Thereafter, it was discovered that there was yet no ordinance approving the realignment of the funds. Thus, the Sangguniang Bayan passed Ordinance, approving the realignment of the fund. Malmis was paid the contract price. private respondents filed a complaint against the petitioners before the Office of the Deputy Ombudsman for Visayas alleging illegality in the conduct of the bidding, award and notice to commence work since there was no fund appropriated for the purpose. the Office of the Deputy found probable cause and recommended the filing of an information for violation of Article 2207 of the Revised Penal Code against the petitioners. Upon review, the Case Assessment, Review and Reinvestigation Bureau of the Office of the Special Prosecutor, issued the assailed Memorandum modifying the charge against petitioners for allegedly giving unwarranted benefit to Malmis and violation of Section 3(h) of R.A. No. 3019 against petitioner Budiongan for allegedly “directly or indirectly having financial or pecuniary interest in a contract or transaction in connection with which he intervenes or takes part in his official capacity.” Petitioners filed a Motion for Reconsideration with the Office of the Special Prosecutor which was denied for lack of merit in the Resolution dated October 19, 2005. adrianantazo.wordpress.com

Issue: Whether the refusal or failure to conduct a re-investigation has violated petitioners’ right to due process? adrianantazo.wordpress.com

Held: No, The right to a preliminary investigation is not a constitutional right, but is merely a right conferred by statute. The absence of a preliminary investigation does not impair the validity of the Information or otherwise render the same defective. It does not affect the jurisdiction of the court over the case or constitute a ground for quashing the Information. If absence of a preliminary investigation does not render the Information invalid nor affect the jurisdiction of the court over the case, then the denial of a motion for reinvestigation cannot likewise invalidate the Information or oust the court of its jurisdiction over the case. Petitioners were not deprived of due process because they were afforded the opportunity to refute the charges by filing their counter-affidavits. The modification of the offense charged did not come as a surprise to the petitioners because it was based on the same set of facts and the same alleged illegal acts. Moreover, petitioners failed to aver newly discovered evidence nor impute commission of grave errors or serious irregularities prejudicial to their interest to warrant a reconsideration or reinvestigation of the case as required under Section 8, Rule III of the Rules of Procedure of the Office of the Ombudsman. Thus, the modification of the offense charged, even without affording the petitioners a new preliminary investigation, did not amount to a violation of their rights. adrianantazo.wordpress.com

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