ANTONIO L. SANCHEZ vs. The Honorable HARRIET O. DEMETRIOU G.R. Nos. 111771-77, November 9, 1993

On July 28, 1993, the Presidential Anti-Crime Commission requested the filing of appropriate charges against several persons, including the petitioner, in connection with the rape-slay of Mary Eileen Sarmenta and the killing of Allan Gomez. On August 12, 1993, PNP Commander Rex Piad issued an “invitation” to the petitioner requesting him to appear for investigation at Camp Vicente Lim in Canlubang, Laguna. It was served on Sanchez in the morning of August 13,1993, and he was immediately taken to the said camp. At a confrontation that same day, Sanchez was positively identified by Aurelio Centeno, and SPO III Vivencio Malabanan, who both executed confessions implicating him as a principal in the rape-slay of Sarmenta and the killing of Gomez. The petitioner was then placed on “arrest status” and taken to the Department of Justice in Manila.

The petitioner argued earlier that since most of the accused were incumbent public officials or employees at the time of the alleged commission of the crimes, the cases against them should come under the jurisdiction of the Sandiganbayan and not of the regular courts.

Whether the Sandiganbayan has jurisdiction over the accused.

No, The crime of rape with homicide with which the petitioner stands charged obviously does not fall under paragraph (1), which deals with graft and corruption cases. Neither is it covered by paragraph (2) because it is not an offense committed in relation to the office of the petitioner. The relation between the crime and the office contemplated by the Constitution is, in our opinion, direct and not accidental. To fall into the intent of the Constitution, the relation has to be such that, in the legal sense, the offense cannot exist without the office. In other words, the office must be a constituent element of the crime as defined in the statute, such as, for instance, the crimes defined and punished in Chapter Two to Six, Title Seven, of the Revised Penal Code. Public office is not of the essence of murder. The taking of human life is either murder or homicide whether done by a private citizen or public servant, and the penalty is the same except when the perpetrator. being a public functionary took advantage of his office, as alleged in this case, in which event the penalty is increased.

It is apparent from these allegations that, although public office is not an element of the crime of murder in abstract, as committed by the main respondents herein, according to the amended information, the offense therein charged is intimately connected with their respective offices and was perpetrated while they were in the performance, though improper or irregular, of their official functions. Indeed they had no personal motive to commit the crime and they would not have committed it had they not held their aforesaid offices. The co-defendants of respondent Leroy S. Brown, obeyed his instructions because he was their superior officer, as Mayor of Basilan City. (Emphasis supplied).

The SC find no allegation therein that the crime of rape with homicide imputed to the petitioner was connected with the discharge of his functions as municipal mayor or that there is an “intimate connection” between the offense and his office. It follows that the said crime, being an ordinary offense, is triable by the regular courts and not the Sandiganbayan.

2 thoughts on “ANTONIO L. SANCHEZ vs. The Honorable HARRIET O. DEMETRIOU G.R. Nos. 111771-77, November 9, 1993

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