RAY SHU, Petitioner,
JAIME DEE, ENRIQUETO MAGPANTAY, RAMON MIRANDA, LARRY MACILLAN, AND EDWIN SO, Respondents.
G.R. No. 182573 April 23, 2014
TOPIC: Right to due process, right to be heard
Petitioner filed a complaint before the National Bureau of Investigation (NBI) charging the respondents of falsification of two deeds of real estate mortgage submitted to Metrobank. Both deeds of real estate mortgage were allegedly signed by the petitioner, one in his own name while the other was on behalf of 3A Apparel Corporation. According to the petitioner, the respondents were employees of Metrobank. After investigation, the NBI filed a complaint with the City Prosecutor of Makati charging the respondents of the crime of forgery and falsification of public documents.
The respondents argued in their counter-affidavits that they were denied their right to due process during the NBI investigation because the agency never required them and Metrobank to submit the standard sample signatures of the petitioner for comparison.
The respondents argued in their counter-affidavits that they were denied their right to due process during the NBI investigation because the agency never required them and Metrobank to submit the standard sample signatures of the petitioner for comparison. The findings contained in the questioned documents report only covered the sample signatures unilaterally submitted by the petitioner as compared with the signatures appearing on the two deeds of real estate mortgage. An examination of the signatures of the petitioner which appear in several documents in Metrobank’s possession revealed that his signatures in the questioned deeds are genuine.
Whether or not the respondents were denied of their right to due process during the NBI investigation.
NO. The Court held that the functions of this agency are merely investigatory and informational in nature. It has no judicial or quasi-judicial powers and is incapable of granting any relief to any party. It cannot even determine probable cause. The NBI is an investigative agency whose findings are merely recommendatory. It undertakes investigation of crimes upon its own initiative or as public welfare may require in accordance with its mandate. It also renders assistance when requested in the investigation or detection of crimes in order to prosecute the persons responsible.
Since the NBI’s findings were merely recommendatory, the Court found that no denial of the respondents’ due process right could have taken place; the NBI’s findings were still subject to the prosecutor’s and the Secretary of Justice’s actions for purposes of finding the existence of probable cause.
The respondents were not likewise denied their right to due process when the NBI issued the questioned documents report. There was no categorical finding in the questioned documents report that the respondents falsified the documents. This report, too, was procured during the conduct of the NBI’s investigation at the petitioner’s request for assistance in the investigation of the alleged crime of falsification. The report is inconclusive and does not prevent the respondents from securing a separate documents examination by handwriting experts based on their own evidence. On its own, the NBI’s questioned documents report does not directly point to the respondents’ involvement in the crime charged.