The Sandiganbayan, established under Presidential Decree No. 1606, is a special court in the Philippines that has jurisdiction over criminal and civil cases which involve graft and corrupt practices and other offenses committed by public officers and employees in relation to their office. Its rank is equivalent to the Court of Appeals. It consists of a Presiding Judge and 14 Associate Justices, and shall sit in five divisions of three justices each. The first three divisions shall be stationed in Metro Manila, the fourth division shall be in Cebu City for cases coming from the Visayas region, and the fifth division shall be in Cagayan de Oro City for cases coming from the Mindanao region.
Seal of the Sandiganbayan
The Seal of the Sandiganbayan consists of two concentric circles as its margins with the inscription “Sandiganbayan” on the upper margin and “Republika ng Pilipinas” on the lower margin, and 13 stars along the outer edge of the inner circle representing the 13 existing judicial regions of the Philippines. At the center, a triangle with the words “KATAPATAN” on the left side, “KAPANAGUTAN” on the right side, and “KARANGALAN” on the base; with a star in each corner representing Luzon, Visayas and Mindanao. The center of triangle is composed of the national colors of white on its upper part, blue on the left and red on the right, and a balance superimposed on a Bolo.
The creation of the Sandiganbayan was originally provided for by Section 5, Article XIII of the 1973 Constitution of the Philippines which states that: "The National Assembly shall create a special court, to be known as Sandiganbayan, which shall have jurisdiction over criminal and civil cases involving graft and corrupt practices and such other offenses committed by public officers and employees, including those in government-owned or controlled corporations, in relation to their office as may be determined by law."
On June 11, 1978, President Ferdinand Marcos, exercising emergency legislative powers vested in him by the 1976 Amendments to the Constitution, issued Presidential Decree No. 1486 creating the Sandiganbayan and placing it on the same level as the Courts of First Instance, now called the Regional Trial Courts. On December 10, 1978, the Sandiganbayan was elevated to the level of the Court of Appeals by virtue of Presidential Decree No. 1606.
At the start of its operation on February 12, 1979, the Sandiganbayan had only one Division, composed of Presiding Justice Manuel R. Pamaran, and two Associate Justices: Hon. Bernardo P. Fernandez and Hon. Romeo M. Escareal, and a skeleton force of fifteen. The start of the third year of the Court's operation in 1981 was marked by the activation of the Second Division. The appointment of three more Justices of the Third Division in August 4, 1982 completed the full membership of the Court.
The 1986 People Power Revolution signaled the beginning of a new dispensation and caused substantial changes in the entire government machinery, including the judiciary. However, both the “Freedom Constitution” and the new Constitution of the Philippines have seen fit to maintain the Sandiganbayan as one of the principal instruments of public accountability. In furtherance of this, its jurisdiction has been broadened to include the so-called “ill-gotten wealth” cases investigated by the Presidential Commission on Good Government (PCGG) through Executive Orders No. 14 and No. 14-A. In the reorganization program of the new government, the resignation of some of the members of the Court was accepted leading to the appointment of a new Presiding Justice in the person of Hon. Francis E. Garchitorena.
To further strengthen the functional and structural organization of the Sandiganbayan, several amendments have been introduced to the original law that created it. The latest of these are Republic Act Nos. 7975 and 8249. Under these new laws, the jurisdiction of the Sandiganbayan is now confined to cases involving public officials occupying positions classified as salary grade 27 and higher. As restructured, the Sandiganbayan is presently composed of a Presiding Justice and fourteen Associate Justices who sit in five Divisions of three Justices each in the trial and determination of cases.
Before the implementation of Republic Act No. 8249, Sandiganbayan's jurisdiction was determined on the basis of the penalty imposable on the offense or offenses charged on the accused. Then it was amended such that regardless of the penalty, so long as the offense charged was committed by a public officer, the Sandiganbayan has jurisdiction on the said case.
Original exclusive jurisdiction
Under Section 4 of RA 8249, the Sandiganbayan shall have original exclusive jurisdiction over:
- Violations of RA 3019 (Anti-graft and Corrupt Practices Law)
- RA 1379 (Forfeiture of Illegally Acquired Wealth)
- Crimes committed by public officers or employees punished under the Revised Penal Code, namely:
- Direct Bribery under Art. 210 as amended by BP 871, May 29, 1985
- Indirect Bribery under Art. 211 as amended by BP 871, May 29, 1985
- Qualified Bribery under Art. 211-A as amended by RA 7659, Dec. 13, 1993
- Corruption of public officials under Art. 212
Where one or more of the accused are officials occupying the following positions in the government whether in a permanent, acting or interim capacity, at the time of the commission of the offense:
- Officials of the Executive branch occupying the positions of regional director and higher of the Compensation and Position Classification Act of 1989 (RA 6758) specifically including:
- Provincial governors, vice-governors, members of the Sangguniang Panlalawigan, provincial treasurers, assessors, engineers and other provincial department heads;
- City mayors, vice-mayors, members of the Sangguniang Panglungsod, city treasurers, assessors, engineers and other department heads;
- Officials of the diplomatic service occupying the position of consul and higher;
- Philippine Army and Air force colonels, Naval captains and all officers of higher rank;
- Officers of the PNP while occupying the position of Provincial Director and those holding the rank of Senior Superintendent or higher;
- City and provincial prosecutors and their assistants; officials and the prosecutors in the Office of the Ombudsman and special prosecutor;
- President, directors or trustees or managers of government owned or controlled corporations, state universities or educational institutions or foundations;
- Members of Congress and Officials thereof classified as Grade 27 and up under the Compensation and Classification Act of 1989;
- Members of the Judiciary without prejudice to the provision of the Constitution;
- Chairmen and members of Constitutional Commissions, without prejudice to the provision of the Constitution;
- All other national and local officials classified as Grade 27 and higher under the Compensation and Position Classification Act of 1989.
- Other offenses or felonies whether simple or complexed with other crimes committed in relation to their office by the public officials and employees mentioned above;
- Civil and Criminal Cases filed pursuant to and in connection with EO 1, 2, 14 & 14-A issued in 1986;
- Petitions for issuance of Writ of mandamus, prohibition, certiorari, habeas corpus, injunction and other ancillary writs and processes in aid of its appellate jurisdiction; Provided, jurisdiction is not exclusive of the Supreme Court;
- Petitions for Quo Warranto arising or that may arise in cases filed or that may be filed under EO 1, 2, 14 & 14- A
- Other offenses punishable under the:
- Violation of RA 6713 - Code of Conduct and Ethical Standards
- Violation of RA 7080 - The Plunder Law
- Violation of RA 7659 - The Heinous Crime Law
- RA 9160 - Violation of The Anti-Money Laundering Law when committed by a public officer
- PD 46 referred to as the "gift-giving decree" which makes it punishable for any official or employee to receive directly or indirectly and for the private person to give or offer to give any gift, present or other valuable thing on any occasion including Christmas, when such gift, present or valuable thing is given by reason of his official position, regardless of whether or not the same is for past favors or the giver hopes or expects to receive a favor or better treatment in the future from the public official or employee concerned in the discharge of his official functions. Included within the prohibition is the throwing of parties or entertainment in honor of the official or employee or his immediate relatives.
- PD 749 which grants immunity from prosecution to any person who voluntarily gives information about any violation of Art.210, 211 or 212 of the Revised Penal Code, RA 3019; Sec.345 of the National Internal Revenue Code; Sec. 3604 of the Customs and Tariff Code; and other provisions of the said Codes penalizing abuse or dishonesty on the part of the public officials concerned and other laws, rules and regulations penalizing graft, corruption and other forms of official abuse and who willingly testifies against the public official or employee subject to certain conditions.
List of current Sandigandayan justices
|Francis Garchitorena||Presiding Justice|
|Catalino R. Castañeda, Jr.||Associate Justice|
|Gregory S. Ong||Associate Justice|
|Edilberto G. Sandoval||Associate Justice|
|Godofredo L. Legaspi||Associate Justice|
|Alfredo J. Gustillo||Associate Justice|
|Cipriano A. Del Rosario||Associate Justice|
|Teresita L. De Castro||Associate Justice|
|Ricardo M. Ilarde||Associate Justice|
- Chief Justice of the Philippines
- Philippine Court of Appeals
- Philippine Court of Tax Appeals
- Political History of the Philippines
- Constitution of the Philippines
- Philippines: Gov.Ph: About the Philippines – Justice category
- Sandiganbayan – Official website
- SANDIGANBAYAN Info – Information on the Sandiganbayan
- REPUBLIC ACT NO. 7975: An Act to Strengthen the Functional and Structural Organization of the Sandiganbayan – full text
- REPUBLIC ACT NO. 8249: An Act Further Defining the Jurisdiction of the Sandiganbayan – full text
- About the Sandiganbayan
- Article XIII: Accountability of Public Officers, of the 1973 Constitution – full text
- Article XI: Accountability of Public Officers, of the 1987 Constitution – full text