Gallardo v People – GR 142030 21 Apr 2005

Facts:
The records show that the above-numbered case originated from a sworn letter-complaint filed with the Office of the Ombudsman-Mindanao by Atty. Victor dela Serna, for and in behalf of the Public Health Workers (PHWs) of Bansalan, Davao del Sur, charging herein petitioners Mayor Arturo A. Gallardo, Vice-Mayor Peter Melchor J. Arches, Sangguniang Bayan members Allan B. Ampoloquio, Cirilo N. Bacquiano, Josue M. Rodaje, Benjamin R. Macasaet, Jr., Victorina delos Cientos-Miral, Rodolfo M. Cartin, Quirina T. Sarte, Norberto E. Gomez, Genefredo P. Espina, Noel Guinita and Budget Officer Ofelia Nacional, all public officers of the Municipality of Bansalan, Davao del Sur, with violation of Section 3(e) of Republic Act No. 3019 for their alleged refusal to appropriate in the municipal budget the amount representing payment of the mandatory statutory obligations of the Municipality of Bansalan accruing to the complaining PHWs in the nature of unpaid salary differential and magna carta benefits.
public respondent Ombudsman Aniano A. Desierto approved the Resolution dated 26 November 1998 of Graft Investigation Officer II Jovito A. Coresis, Jr., of the Office of the Ombudsman-Mindanao, finding probable cause to indict petitioners of the crime alleged.

Issue:
Whether the accused were not accorded the equal protection of laws when the Ombudsman dismissed the cases similar to case of the accused.

Held:
The contention that petitioners’ right to equal protection of the law has been transgressed is equally untenable. The equal protection clause requires that the law operates uniformly on all persons under similar circumstances or that all persons are treated in the same manner, the conditions not being different, both in privileges conferred and the liabilities imposed. It allows reasonable classification. If the classification is characterized by real and substantial differences, one class may be treated differently from another. Simply because the respondent Ombudsman dismissed some cases allegedly similar to the case at bar is not sufficient to impute arbitrariness or caprice on his part, absent a clear showing that he gravely abused his discretion in pursuing the instant case. The Ombudsman dismissed those cases because he believed there were no sufficient grounds for the accused therein to undergo trial. On the other hand, he recommended the filing of appropriate information against petitioners because there are ample grounds to hold them for trial. He was only exercising his power and discharging his duty based upon the constitutional mandate of his office. Stated otherwise, the circumstances obtaining in the numerous cases previously dismissed by the Ombudsman are entirely divergent from those here existing.

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