Cabrera v. People


Cabrera v. People

G.R. No. 191611-14

July 29, 2019


                Librado and Leonor, in their capacity as then Municipal Mayor and Municipal Councilor, respectively, of Taal, Batangas, through manifest partiality, evident bad faith and gross inexcusable negligence, made several direct purchases of medicines from Diamond Laboratories, Inc. (DLI), a corporation owned by the relatives by consanguinity of Librado. The purchases were made without the benefit of public bidding or canvass giving DLI unwanted benefit and depriving the Municipality of Taal the opportunity to avail of a better price of the same quality of supplies. The total costs of the purchases amounted to ₱503,920.35. Leonor, despite being the Municipal Councilor, acted as the authorized representative of DLI as he was the one who received all payments due and signed all pertinent documents of the transactions.


                Whether or not the accused is guilty of violating Sec 3 (e) RA 3019


                Yes. Petitioners' second act constituting violation of Section 3 (e) of R.A. No. 3019 is the alleged illegal reimbursements made by petitioners of the amount representing their expenses for their alleged unauthorized travels. Two acts are involved here: the unauthorized travels and the illegal reimbursements.Petitioners claim that their travels to Manila in 1998-1999 were authorized by the Governor. To prove this fact, petitioners adduce as evidence the testimony of then incumbent Governor Mandanas who testified that he signed petitioners' permit to travel on December 14, 2000. He also admitted that it is his policy to allow all travels and sign any documents when presented to him - whether before or after the travel dates.

                Under the LGC of 1991, SEC. 96. Permission to Leave Station. - (a) Provincial, city, municipal, and barangay appointive officials going on official travel shall apply and secure written permission from their respective local chief executives before departure. The application shall specify the reasons for such travel, and the permission shall be given or withheld based on considerations of public interest, financial capability of the local government unit concerned and urgency of the travel. Should the local chief executive concerned fail to act upon such application within four (4) working days from receipt thereof, it shall be deemed approved. (b) Mayors of component cities and municipalities shall secure the permission of the governor concerned for any travel outside the province. (c) Local government officials traveling abroad shall notify their respective sanggunian: Provided, That when the period of travel extends to more than three (3) months, during periods of emergency or crisis or when the travel involves the use of public funds, permission from the Office of the President shall be secured. (d) Field officers of national agencies or offices assigned in provinces, cities, and municipalities shall not leave their official stations without giving prior written notice to the local chief executive concerned. Such notice shall state the duration of travel and the name of the officer whom he shall designate to act for and in his behalf during his absence.

                Paragraph (a) speaks of the term "permission" as one that is "written" and secured "before departure." While the words "written" and "before departure" are not repeated in paragraph (b) of the aforesaid provision, we take into consideration the general rule of statutory construction that a word used in a statute in a given sense is presumed to be used in the same sense throughout the law. While this rule is not, by some authorities, regarded as so rigid and peremptory as some other of the rules of construction, nevertheless it is particularly applicable in the case at bar, where in the statute the words appear so near to each other physically, and particularly where the word has a technical meaning and that meaning has been defined in the statute.


As the Sandiganbayan observed, the term permission was defined in terms of form, time and content in paragraph (a). Following the above-mentioned rule of statutory construction, the Sandiganbayan was therefore correct when it concluded that the word "permission" in paragraph (b) should carry the same meaning attached to the word permission in paragraph (a) as one that was written and issued before the departure/travel. Strictly speaking, when the permission is not written and is not obtained before departure, the travel is unauthorized.

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