J. Laurel: "Justice is a game of fair play, not foul play"

Also, respondent wanted to know the specific nature, manner, time and extent of support, participation and collaboration of his father in (1) Cruzs alleged blatant abuse as GSIS president and general manager, PAL president and chairman of the board, and executive officer of the CBM; (2) the purchase of a lot and building in California using GSIS funds and Cruzs allowing Lichauco as broker in the sale of the lot and building contrary to PAL policies; (3) Cruzs appropriating to himself CBM funds; (4) Cruzs disbursement of P81,152 CBM funds for personal services rendered to him by Tuazon; (5) Cruzs entering into an agency agreement for GSIS with IFC to solicit, insure, and effect reinsurance of GSIS, as result of which IFC effected a great part of its reinsurance with INRE Corporation, a London-registered non-insurance company, of which Cruz was one of the directors; (6) Cruzs allowing IFC to service the accounts emanating from government agencies which were required under the law to insure and deal directly with the GSIS for their insurance needs; (7) the GSIS-AIC agreement wherein GSIS ceded and conveyed to AIC five parcels of land in Manila in exchange for AICs Pinugay Estate in Tanay, Rizal; (8)PALs purchase of three Airbus 300 jets for a higher price than the market price; and (9) if former President Marcos was connected in any way to IFC and INRE Corporation. Respondent likewise asked, what is the specific amount of damages demanded?

The 1991 Virata-Mapa Doctrine prescribes a motion for a bill of particulars, not a motion to dismiss, as the remedy for perceived ambiguity or vagueness of a complaint for the recovery of ill-gotten wealth, which was similarly worded as the complaint in this case. That doctrine provided protective precedent in favor of respondent when he filed his motion for a bill of particulars.

While the allegations as to the alleged specific acts of Cruz were clear, they were vague and unclear as to the acts of the Marcos couple who were allegedly in unlawful concert with the former. There was no factual allegation in the original and expanded complaints on the collaboration of or on the kind of support extended by former President Marcos to Cruz in the commission of the alleged unlawful acts constituting the alleged plunder. All the allegations against the Marcoses, aside from being maladroitly laid, were couched in general terms. The alleged acts, conditions and circumstances that could show the conspiracy among the defendants were not particularized and sufficiently set forth by petitioner.

That the late presidents co-defendants were able to file their respective answers to the complaint does not necessarily mean that his estates executor will be able to file an equally intelligent answer, since the answering defendants defense might be personal to them.

In dismissing this petition, Tantuico, Jr. v. Republic also provides the Supreme Court a cogent jurisprudential guide. There, the allegations against former President Marcos were also conclusions of law unsupported by factual premises. The particulars prayed for in the motion for a bill of particulars were also not evidentiary in nature. In that case, the Supreme Court ruled that the anti-graft court acted with grave abuse of discretion amounting to lack or excess of jurisdiction in denying an alleged cronys motion for a bill of particulars on a complaint with similar tenor and wordings as in the case at bar.

Likewise the Supreme Court has ruled in Virata v. Sandiganbayan (1993) that Tantuicos applicability to that case was ineluctable, and the propriety of the motion for a bill of particulars under Section 1, Rule 12 of the Revised Rules of Court was beyond dispute.

In 1996, in the similar case of Republic v. Sandiganbayan (Second Division), the Supreme Court also affirmed the resolutions of the Sandiganbayan granting the motion for a bill of particulars of Marcos alleged crony, business tycoon Lucio Tan.
Phrases like in "flagrant breach of public trust and of their fiduciary obligations as public officers with grave and scandalous abuse of right and power and in brazen violation of the Constitution and laws, unjust enrichment, embarked upon a systematic plan to accumulate ill-gotten wealth, arrogated unto himself all powers of government," are easy and easy to read; they have potential media quotability and they evoke passion with literary flair, not to mention that it was populist to flaunt those statements in the late 1980s. But they are just that, accusations by generalization. Motherhood statements they are, although now they might be a politically incorrect expression and an affront to mothers everywhere, although they best describe the accusations against the Marcoses in the case at bar.

In Justice Laurel's words, the administration of justice is not a matter of guesswork. The name of the game is fair play, not foul play. The Supreme Court cannot allow a legal skirmish where, from the start, one of the protagonists enters the arena with one arm tied to his back. The Supreme Court must stress anew that the administration of justice entails a painstaking, not haphazard, preparation of pleadings.

The facile verbosity with which the legal counsel for the government flaunted the accusation of excesses against the Marcoses in general terms must be soonest refurbished by a bill of particulars, so that respondent can properly prepare an intelligent responsive pleading and so that trial in this case will proceed as expeditiously as possible. To avoid a situation where its pleadings may be found defective, thereby amounting to a failure to state a cause of action, petitioner for its part must be given the opportunity to file a bill of particulars. Thus, the Supreme Court is hereby allowing it to supplement its pleadings now, considering that amendments to pleadings are favored and liberally allowed especially before trial. (G.R. No. 148154; December 17, 2007)