G.R. No. 168539, March 25, 2014
PEOPLE OF THE PHILIPPINES, Petitioner, v. HENRY T. GO, Respondent.
D E C I S I O N
On or about July 12, 1997, or sometime prior or subsequent thereto, in Pasay City, Metro Manila, Philippines and within the jurisdiction of this Honorable Court, the late ARTURO ENRILE, then Secretary of the Department of Transportation and Communications (DOTC), committing the offense in relation to his office and taking advantage of the same, in conspiracy with accused, HENRY T. GO, Chairman and President of the Philippine International Air Terminals, Co., Inc. (PIATCO), did then and there, willfully, unlawfully and criminally enter into a Concession Agreement, after the project for the construction of the Ninoy Aquino International Airport International Passenger Terminal III (NAIA IPT III) was awarded to Paircargo Consortium!PIATCO, which Concession Agreement substantially amended the draft Concession Agreement covering the construction of the NAIA IPT III under Republic Act 6957, as amended by Republic Act 7718 (BOT law), specifically the provision on Public Utility Revenues, as well as the assumption by the government of the liabilities of PIATCO in the event of the latter’s default under Article IV, Section 4.04 (b) and (c) in relation to Article 1.06 of the Concession Agreement, which terms are more beneficial to PIATCO while manifestly and grossly disadvantageous to the government of the Republic ofthe Philippines.4
The prosecution is given a period of ten (10) days from today within which to show cause why this case should not be dismissed for lack of jurisdiction over the person of the accused considering that the accused is a private person and the public official Arturo Enrile, his alleged co–conspirator, is already deceased, and not an accused in this case.5
Acting on the Motion to Quash filed by accused Henry T. Go dated April 22, 2005, and it appearing that Henry T. Go, the lone accused in this case is a private person and his alleged co–conspirator–public official was already deceased long before this case was filed in court, for lack of jurisdiction over the person of the accused, the Court grants the Motion to Quash and the Information filed in this case is hereby ordered quashed and dismissed.9
WHETHER OR NOT THE COURT A QUO GRAVELY ERRED AND DECIDED A QUESTION OF SUBSTANCE IN A MANNER NOT IN ACCORD WITH LAW OR APPLICABLE JURISPRUDENCE IN GRANTING THE DEMURRER TO EVIDENCE AND IN DISMISSING CRIMINAL CASE NO. 28090 ON THE GROUND THAT IT HAS NO JURISDICTION OVER THE PERSON OF RESPONDENT GO.
WHETHER OR NOT THE COURT A QUO GRAVELY ERRED AND DECIDED A QUESTION OF SUBSTANCE IN A MANNER NOT IN ACCORD WITH LAW OR APPLICABLE JURISPRUDENCE, IN RULING THAT IT HAS NO JURISDICTION OVER THE PERSON OF RESPONDENT GO DESPITE THE IRREFUTABLE FACT THAT HE HAS ALREADY POSTED BAIL FOR HIS PROVISIONAL LIBERTY
WHETHER OR NOT THE COURT A QUO GRAVELY ERRED WHEN, IN COMPLETE DISREGARD OF THE EQUAL PROTECTION CLAUSE OF THE CONSTITUTION, IT QUASHED THE INFORMATION AND DISMISSED CRIMINAL CASE NO. 2809010
Sec. 3. Corrupt practices of public officers. – In addition to acts or omissions of public officers already penalized by existing law, the following shall constitute corrupt practices of any public officer and are hereby declared to be unlawful:x x x x
(g) Entering, on behalf of the Government, into any contract or transaction manifestly and grossly disadvantageous to the same, whether or not the public officer profited or will profit thereby.
(1) that the accused is a public officer;
(2) that he entered into a contract or transaction on behalf of the government; and
(3) that such contract or transaction is grossly and manifestly disadvantageous to the government.11
x x x [a] conspiracy is in its nature a joint offense. One person cannot conspire alone. The crime depends upon the joint act or intent of two or more persons. Yet, it does not follow that one person cannot be convicted of conspiracy. So long as the acquittal or death of a co–conspirator does not remove the bases of a charge for conspiracy, one defendant may be found guilty of the offense.19
x x x A conspiracy exists when two or more persons come to an agreement concerning the commission of a felony and decide to commit it. Generally, conspiracy is not a crime except when the law specifically provides a penalty therefor as in treason, rebellion and sedition. The crime of conspiracy known to the common law is not an indictable offense in the Philippines. An agreement to commit a crime is a reprehensible act from the view–point of morality, but as long as the conspirators do not perform overt acts in furtherance of their malevolent design, the sovereignty of the State is not outraged and the tranquility of the public remains undisturbed. However, when in resolute execution of a common scheme, a felony is committed by two or more malefactors, the existence of a conspiracy assumes pivotal importance in the determination of the liability of the perpetrators. In stressing the significance of conspiracy in criminal law, this Court in US. vs. Infante and Barreto opined thatWhile it is true that the penalties cannot be imposed for the mere act of conspiring to commit a crime unless the statute specifically prescribes a penalty therefor, nevertheless the existence of a conspiracy to commit a crime is in many cases a fact of vital importance, when considered together with the other evidence of record, in establishing the existence, of the consummated crime and its commission by the conspirators.Once an express or implied conspiracy is proved, all of the conspirators are liable as co–principals regardless of the extent and character of their respective active participation in the commission of the crime or crimes perpetrated in furtherance of the conspiracy because in contemplation of law the act of one is the act of all. The foregoing rule is anchored on the sound principle that “when two or more persons unite to accomplish a criminal object, whether through the physical volition of one, or all, proceeding severally or collectively, each individual whose evil will actively contributes to the wrong–doing is in law responsible for the whole, the same as though performed by himself alone.” Although it is axiomatic that no one is liable for acts other than his own, “when two or more persons agree or conspire to commit a crime, each is responsible for all the acts of the others, done in furtherance of the agreement or conspiracy.” The imposition of collective liability upon the conspirators is clearly explained in one case where this Court held thatx x x it is impossible to graduate the separate liability of each (conspirator) without taking into consideration the close and inseparable relation of each of them with the criminal act, for the commission of which they all acted by common agreement x x x. The crime must therefore in view of the solidarity of the act and intent which existed between the x x x accused, be regarded as the act of the band or party created by them, and they are all equally responsible x x x
Verily, the moment it is established that the malefactors conspired and confederated in the commission of the felony proved, collective liability of the accused conspirators attaches by reason of the conspiracy, and the court shall not speculate nor even investigate as to the actual degree of participation of each of the perpetrators present at the scene of the crime. Of course, as to any conspirator who was remote from the situs of aggression, he could be drawn within the enveloping ambit of the conspiracy if it be proved that through his moral ascendancy over the rest of the conspirators the latter were moved or impelled to carry out the conspiracy.
In fine, the convergence of the wills of the conspirators in the scheming and execution of the crime amply justifies the imputation to all of them the act of any one of them. It is in this light that conspiracy is generally viewed not as a separate indictable offense, but a rule for collectivizing criminal liability.
x x x x
x x x A time–honored rule in the corpus of our jurisprudence is that once conspiracy is proved, all of the conspirators who acted in furtherance of the common design are liable as co–principals. This rule of collective criminal liability emanates from the ensnaring nature of conspiracy. The concerted action of the conspirators in consummating their common purpose is a patent display of their evil partnership, and for the consequences of such criminal enterprise they must be held solidarily liable. 22
When a defendant in a criminal case is brought before a competent court by virtue of a warrant of arrest or otherwise, in order to avoid the submission of his body to the jurisdiction of the court he must raise the question of the court’s jurisdiction over his person at the very earliest opportunity. If he gives bail, demurs to the complaint or files any dilatory plea or pleads to the merits, he thereby gives the court jurisdiction over his person. (State ex rel. John Brown vs. Fitzgerald, 51 Minn., 534)
x x x x
As ruled in La Naval Drug vs. CA [236 SCRA 78, 86]:” [L]ack of jurisdiction over the person of the defendant may be waived either expressly or impliedly. When a defendant voluntarily appears, he is deemed to have submitted himself to the jurisdiction of the court. If he so wishes not to waive this defense, he must do so seasonably by motion for the purpose of objecting to the jurisdiction of the court; otherwise, he shall be deemed to have submitted himself to that jurisdiction.”Moreover, “[w]here the appearance is by motion for the purpose of objecting to the jurisdiction of the court over the person, it must be for the sole and separate purpose of objecting to said jurisdiction. If the appearance is for any other purpose, the defendant is deemed to have submitted himself to the jurisdiction of the court. Such an appearance gives the court jurisdiction over the person.”
Verily, petitioner’s participation in the proceedings before the Sandiganbayan was not confined to his opposition to the issuance of a warrant of arrest but also covered other matters which called for respondent court’s exercise of its jurisdiction. Petitioner may not be heard now to deny said court’s jurisdiction over him. x x x.28
1 Annex “A” to petition, rollo, p. 59.
2 Composed of Associate Justice Godofredo L. Legaspi as Chairman with Associate Justices Efren N. De La Cruz and Norberta Y. Geraldez (now deceased), as members.
3 G.R. Nos. 155001, 155547 and 155661, May 5, 2003,402 SCRA 612.
4 Annex “B” to petition, rollo, pp. 61–62.
5 Annex “C” to petition, id. at 64.
6 See Annex “F” to petition, id. at 74–82.
7 Annex “G” to petition, id. at 84–88.
8 Annex “H” to petition, id. at 90–101.
9 Annex “A” to petition, id. at 59.
10Rollo, p. 27.
11Gov. Fifth Division, Sandiganbayan, 549 Phil. 783, 799 (2007).
12Gregorio Singian, Jr. v. Sandiganbayan, et al., GR. Nos. 195011–19, September 30, 2013; Santillano v. People, GR. Nos. 175045–46, March 3, 2010, 614 SCRA 164; Go v. Fifth Division, Sandiganbayan, supra; Singian, Jr. v. Sandiganbayan, 514 Phil. 536 (2005); Domingo v. Sandiganbayan, GR. No. 149175, October 25, 2005, 474 SCRA 203; Luciano v. Estrella, G.R. No. L–31622, August 31, 1970, 34 SCRA 769.
13 See Gov. Fifth Division, Sandiganbayan, supra note 11.
14 Records, vol. 1, p. 106.
15 15 C.J.S. Conspiracy § 82, p. 1115.
16 §14 16 Am Jur 2d, pp. 134–135.
18 §19 16 Am Jur 2d, pp. 137–138.
19Villa v. Sandiganbayan, G.R. Nos. 87186, 87281, 87466 and 87524, April 24, 1992, 208 SCRA 283, 297–298, citing U.S. vs. Remigio, 37 Phil. 599 (1918). (Emphasis supplied)
20 See R.A. 3019, Sec. 1.
21 G.R. No. L–19069, October 29, 1968, 25 SCRA 759.
22Id. at 771–777. (Italics in the original; emphasis supplied)
23People v. Dumlao, G.R. No. 168918, March 2, 2009, 580 SCRA 409, 432; Heirs of the late Nestor Tria v. Obia,, GR. No. 175887, November 24, 2010, 636 SCRA 91, 116.
24Rollo, pp. 176–180.
25 Id. at 186–192.
26 Annex “J” to petition, id. at 112.
27Miranda v. Tuliao, 520 Phil. 907, 918 (2006), citing Santiago v. Vasquez, G.R. Nos. 99289–90, January 27, 1993, 217 SCRA 633, 643; Cojuangco v. Sandiganbayan, 360 Phil. 559, 581 (1998); Velasco v. Court of Appeals, 315 Phil. 757, 770 (1995).
28Cojuangco v. Sandiganbayan, supra, at 582–583. (Emphasis supplied; citations omitted)