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1.

Manalo vs CA It appears that from the years 1986 to 1991, Vargas negotiated with
the respondent (through its then liquidator, the Central Bank) for
DECISION the repurchase of the foreclosed property. The negotiations,
however, fizzled out as Vargas cannot afford the repurchase price
PUNO, J.: fixed by the respondent based on the appraised value of the land at
that time. On October 4, 1991, Vargas filed a case for annulment of
This petition for certiorari seeks the review of the Decision of the mortgage and extra-judicial foreclosure sale before Branch 116 of
Court of Appeals in C.A.-G.R. SP. No. 50341 promulgated December the Pasay City Regional Trial Court. On July 22, 1993, the court
23, 1999, which affirmed an Order issued by the Regional Trial rendered a decision[6] dismissing the complaint and upholding the
Court, Branch 112, Pasay City, in Civil Case No. 9011 dated validity of the mortgage and foreclosure sale. On appeal, the
December 9, 1998. appellate court upheld the assailed judgment and declared the said
mortgage and foreclosure proceedings to be in accord with law.[7]
On July 19, 1983, S. Villanueva Enterprises, represented by its This decision of the Court of Appeals subsequently became final and
president, Therese Villanueva Vargas, obtained a loan of three executory when we summarily dismissed Vargas's Petition for
million pesos (P3,000,000.00) and one million pesos Review on Certiorari for having been filed beyond the reglementary
(P1,000,000.00) from the respondent PAIC Savings and Mortgage period.[8]
Bank and the Philippine American Investments Corporation (PAIC),
respectively. To secure payment of both debts, Vargas executed in In the meantime, on June 22, 1992, respondent petitioned the
favor of the respondent and PAIC a Joint First Mortgage[1] over two Regional Trial Court, Branch 112, of Pasay City, herein court a quo,
parcels of land registered under her name. One of the lots, located for the issuance of a writ of possession for the subject property in
in Pasay City with an area of nine hundred nineteen square meters Civil Case No. 9011. This is in view of the consolidation of its
(919 sq.m.) and covered by TCT No. 6076, is the subject of the ownership over the same as mentioned earlier. Vargas and S.
present case. Section 2 of the mortgage contract states that "the Villanueva Enterprises, Inc. filed their opposition thereto. After
properties mortgaged therein shall include all buildings and which, trial ensued.
improvements existing on the mortgaged property at the time of the
execution of the mortgage contract and thereafter."[2] During the pendency of Civil Case No. 9011 (for the issuance of a
writ of possession), Vargas, on December 23, 1992, executed a
S. Villanueva Enterprises defaulted in paying the amortizations due. Deed of Absolute Sale[9] selling, transferring, and conveying
Despite repeated demands from the respondent, it failed to settle its ownership of the disputed lot in favor of a certain Armando Angsico.
loan obligation. Accordingly, respondent instituted extrajudicial Notwithstanding this sale, Vargas, still representing herself to be the
foreclosure proceedings over the mortgaged lots. On August 22, lawful owner of the property, leased the same to petitioner Domingo
1984, the Pasay City property was sold at a public auction to the R. Manalo on August 25, 1994. Pertinent provisions of the lease
respondent itself, after tendering the highest bid. The respondent agreement[10] state:
then caused the annotation of the corresponding Sheriff's Certificate
of Sale[3] on the title of the land on December 4, 1984. After the "3. (a) The lease is for a period of ten year lease (sic), involving 450
lapse of one year, or the statutory period extended by law to a square meters, a portion of the above 919 square meter property.
mortgagor to exercise his/her right of redemption, title was
consolidated in respondent's name for failure of Vargas to redeem. x x x (d) The LESSEE has to introduce into the said 450 square
meter premises improvements thereon (sic) consisting of one story
On October 29, 1986, the Central Bank of the Philippines filed a building to house a Karaoke Music Restaurant Business, which
Petition[4] for assistance in the liquidation of the respondent with improvements constructed therof (sic), upon the termination of the
the Regional Trial Court. The petition was given due course in an lease contract, by said LESSEE be surrendered in favor of the
Order[5] dated May 19, 1987. LESSOR (sic)."[11]
Later, on June 29, 1997, Armando Angsico, as buyer of the property,
assigned his rights therein to petitioner.[12] "All told, WE find the Order, subject of the instant Petition for
Certiorari and Prohibition, to be not without rational bases and we
On April 21, 1998, the court a quo granted the petition for the observe that the court a quo, in issuing its questioned Order,
issuance of the Writ of Possession.[13] The writ was subsequently committed no grave abuse of discretion amounting to lack of
issued on April 24, 1998, the pertinent portion of which reads:[14] jurisdiction.

"NOW THEREFORE you are hereby commanded that you cause WHEREFORE, the Petition for Certiorari and Prohibition is hereby
oppositors THERESE VILLANUEVA VARGAS and S. VILLANUEVA DISMISSED and the assailed December 9, 1998 Order is AFFIRMED
ENTERPRISES, INC. and any and all persons claiming rights or title in all respects.
under them, to forthwith vacate and surrender the possession of
subject premises in question known as that parcel of land and SO ORDERED."[20]
improvements covered by TCT No. 6076 of the Registry of Deeds of
Pasay City; you are hereby further ordered to take possession and Hence, this appeal, where petitioner raises and argues the following
deliver to the petitioner PAIC SAVINGS AND MORTGAGE BANK the legal issues:
subject parcel of land and improvements."
"I. Whether or not public respondent acted without or in excess of
Shortly, on May 8, 1998, S. Villanueva Enterprises and Vargas its jurisdiction and/or was patently in error when it affirmed the
moved for its quashal.[15] Thereafter on June 25, 1998, petitioner, denial of petitioner's motion for intervention, despite the fact that he
on the strength of the lease contract and Deed of Assignment made has a legal interest, being a lessee and an assignee of the property
in his favor, submitted a Permission to File an Ex-parte Motion to subject matter of this case.
Intervene.[16] It bears mentioning, however, that before petitioner
sought intervention in the present case, he had separately instituted II. Whether or not the public respondent committed grave abuse of
a Complaint for Mandamus, docketed as Civil Case No. 98-0868 discretion when it held that what are required to be instituted before
before another branch[17] of the Pasay City RTC to compel PAIC the liquidation court are those claims against the insolvent banks
Bank to allow him to repurchase the subject property. only considering that the private respondent bank is legally dead
due to insolvency and considering further that there is already a
On October 7, 1998, the court a quo denied the Motion to Quash liquidation court (Regional Trial Court of Makati, Branch 57,
and Motion to Intervene filed respectively by Vargas and petitioner. docketed as Spec. Pro. No. M-1280) which is exclusively vested with
[18] A Motion for Reconsideration and a Supplemental Motion for jurisdiction to hear all matters and incidents on liquidation pursuant
Reconsideration were filed by the petitioner which, however, were to Section 29, Republic Act No. 265, otherwise known as The Central
similarly denied on December 9, 1998. Bank Act, as amended.

III. Whether or not the public respondent committed grave abuse of


Petitioner then sought relief with the Court of Appeals, filing therein discretion and/or was patently in error in affirming the ruling of the
a Petition for Certiorari. While this was awaiting resolution, he trial court, totally disregarding the arguments raised in petitioner's
entered into another lease agreement,[19] this time with the supplemental motion for reconsideration only through a minute
respondent, represented by its liquidator, over the same 450 sq.m. order and without taking into consideration the fact that there is a
portion of the lot. The contract fixed a period of one month pending action in another court (RTC, Pasay City, Branch 231) which
beginning January 28, 1999, renewable for another month at the presents a prejudicial question to the case at bar.
exclusive option of the lessor, respondent PAIC Bank.
IV. Whether or not the petitioner is estopped from questioning
On December 23, 1999, the appellate court rendered the impugned private respondent's ownership when it entered into a contract of
Decision, dismissing the petition, thus: lease involving the property in question."[21]
of its intent. The requirement that all claims against the bank be
We will first resolve the jurisdictional and procedural questions pursued in the liquidation proceedings filed by the Central Bank is
raised by the petitioner. intended to prevent multiplicity of actions against the insolvent bank
and designed to establish due process and orderliness in the
I. liquidation of the bank, to obviate the proliferation of litigations and
to avoid injustice and arbitrariness.[25] The lawmaking body
Petitioner postulates that the lower court should have dismissed contemplated that for convenience, only one court, if possible,
respondent's "Ex-Parte Petition for Issuance of Writ of Possession" in should pass upon the claims against the insolvent bank and that the
Civil Case No. P-9011 for want of jurisdiction over the subject liquidation court should assist the Superintendents of Banks and
matter of the claim. The power to hear the same, he insists, regulate his operations.[26]
exclusively vests with the Liquidation Court pursuant to Section 29
of Republic Act No. 265, otherwise known as The Central Bank Act. It then ought to follow that petitioner's reliance on Section 29 and
[22] He then cites our decision in Valenzuela v. Court of Appeals, the Valenzuela case is misplaced. The Petition for the Issuance of a
[23] where we held that "if there is a judicial liquidation of an Writ of Possession in Civil Case No. 9011 is not in the nature of a
insolvent bank, all claims against the bank should be filed in the disputed claim against the bank. On the contrary, it is an action
liquidation proceeding." For going to another court, the respondent, instituted by the respondent bank itself for the preservation of its
he accuses, is guilty of forum shopping. asset and protection of its property. It was filed upon the instance of
the respondent's liquidator in order to take possession of a tract of
These contentions can not pass judicial muster. The pertinent land over which it has ownership claims.
portion of Section 29 states:
To be sure, the liquidator took the proper course of action when it
applied for a writ in the Pasay City RTC. Act 3135,[27] entitled An
"x x x The liquidator designated as hereunder provided shall, by the Act to Regulate the Sale of Property Under Special Powers Inserted
Solicitor General, file a petition in the Regional Trial Court reciting In or Annexed To Real Estate Mortgages, mandates that jurisdiction
the proceedings which have been taken and praying the assistance over a Petition for Writ of Possession lies with the court of the
of the court in the liquidation of such institution. The court shall province, city, or municipality where the property subject thereof is
have jurisdiction in the same proceedings to assist in the situated. This is sanctioned by Section 7 of the said Act, thus:
adjudication of disputed claims against the bank or non-bank
financial intermediary performing quasi-banking functions and the "Section 7. In any sale made under the provisions of this Act, the
enforcement of individual liabilites of the stockholders and do all purchaser may petition the Court of First Instance of the province or
that is necessary to preserve the assets of such institution and to place where the property or any part thereof is situated, to give him
implement the liquidation plan approved by the Monetary Board. x x possession thereof during the redemption period, furnishing bond in
x"[24] (emphasis supplied.) an amount equivalent to the use of the property for a period of
twelve months, to indemnify the debtor in case it be shown that the
Petitioner apparently failed to appreciate the correct meaning and sale was made without violating the mortgage or without complying
import of the above-quoted law. The legal provision only finds with the requirements of this Act. x x x"[28] (emphasis supplied)
operation in cases where there are claims against an insolvent bank.
In fine, the exclusive jurisdiction of the liquidation court pertains Since the land subject of this controversy is located in Pasay City,
only to the adjudication of claims against the bank. It does not then the city's RTC should rightly take cognizance of the case, to the
cover the reverse situation where it is the bank which files a claim exclusion of other courts.
against another person or legal entity.
Anent petitioner's auxiliary contention that respondent should be
held guilty of forum shopping for not filing the case in the liquidation
This interpretation of Section 29 becomes more obvious in the light court, suffice it to state here that the doctrine only ponders
situations where two (or more) cases are pending before different million pesos for the subject property. He argues that the primary
tribunals.[29] Well to point, we have laid down the yardstick to issue therein constitutes a prejudicial question in relation to the
determine whether a party violated the rule against forum shopping present case in that if the Court therein will grant petitioner's prayer,
as where the elements of litis pendentia are present or where a final then this will necessarily negate the possessory writ issued by the
judgment in one case will amount to res judicata in the other.[30] court a quo.
Inasmuch as the case at bar is the only one filed by the respondent
for the issuance of a writ of possession over the subject property,
there is no occasion for the doctrine to apply. Again, we are not persuaded. A prejudicial question is one which
arises in a case the resolution of which is a logical antecedent of the
Petitioner next casts doubt on the capacity of the respondent to issue involved therein, and the cognizance of which pertains to
continue litigating the petition for the issuance of the writ. He another tribunal.[34] It generally comes into play in a situation
asserts that, being under liquidation, respondent bank is already a where a civil action and a criminal action are both pending and there
"dead" corporation that cannot maintain the suit in the RTC. Hence, exists in the former an issue which must be preemptively resolved
no writ may be issued in its favor. before the criminal action may proceed, because howsoever the
issue raised in the civil action is resolved would be determinative
The argument is devoid of merit. A bank which had been ordered juris et de jure of the guilt or innocence of the accused in the
closed by the monetary board retains its juridical personality which criminal case. The rationale behind the principle of prejudicial
can sue and be sued through its liquidator. The only limitation being question is to avoid two conflicting decisions.[35]
that the prosecution or defense of the action must be done through
the liquidator.[31] Otherwise, no suit for or against an insolvent Here, aside from the fact that Civil Case No. 98-0868 and the
entity would prosper. In such situation, banks in liquidation would present one are both civil in nature and therefore no prejudicial
lose what justly belongs to them through a mere technicality.[32] question can arise from the existence of the two actions,[36] it is
apparent that the former action was instituted merely to frustrate
That the law allows a bank under liquidation to participate in an the Court's ruling in the case at bar granting the respondent the
action can be clearly inferred from the third paragraph of the same right to possess the subject property. It is but a canny and
Section 29 of The Central Bank Act earlier quoted, which authorizes preemptive maneuver on the part of the petitioner to delay, if not
or empowers a liquidator to institute actions, thus: prevent, the execution of a judgment adverse to his interests. It
bears stressing that the complaint for mandamus was filed only on
"x x x and he (liquidator) may in the name of the bank or non-bank May 7, 1998, sixteen days after the lower court granted
financial intermediary performing quasi-banking functions and with respondent's petition and thirteen days after it issued the writ. It
the assistance of counsel as he may retain, institute such actions as cannot then possibly prejudice a decided case.
may be necessary in the appropriate court to collect and recover
accounts and assests of such institution or defend any action filed At any rate, it taxes our imagination why the questions raised in
against the institution."[33] (emphasis supplied.) Case No. 98-0868 must be considered determinative of Case No.
9011. The basic issue in the former is whether the respondent, as
It is therefore beyond dispute that respondent was legally the purchaser in the extra-judicial foreclosure proceedings, may be
capacitated to petition the court a quo for the issuance of the writ. compelled to have the property repurchased or resold to a
mortgagor's successor-in-interest (petitioner); while that in the
II. latter is merely whether the respondent, as the purchaser in the
extra-judicial foreclosure proceedings, is entitled to a writ of
Petitioner likewise proffers one other procedural obstacle, which is possession after the statutory period for redemption has expired.
the pendency of Civil Case No. 98-0868 in Branch 231 of Pasay City The two cases, assuming both are pending, can proceed separately
RTC. The said action is the complaint he filed against the respondent and take their own direction independent of each other.
for the latter to receive and accept the redemption price of eighteen
III. Ranch Corporation v. Court of Appeals,[42] is the function to
consider whether or not the intervention will unduly delay or
Having disposed of the jurisdictional and procedural issues, we now prejudice the adjudication of the rights of the original parties, and
come to the merits of the case. Petitioner seeks intervention in this whether or not the intervenor's rights may be fully protected in a
case by virtue of the lease agreement and the deed of assignment separate proceeding.
executed in his favor by the mortgagor (Vargas) and an alleged
buyer (Angsico) of the land, respectively. He posits that as a lessee The period within which a person may intervene is also restricted.
and assignee in possession of the foreclosed real estate, he Section 2, Rule 19 of the 1997 Rules of Civil Procedure requires:
automatically acquires interest over the subject matter of the
litigation. This interest is coupled with the fact that he introduced "Section 2. Time to intervene. - The motion to intervene may be
improvements thereon, consisting of a one-storey building which filed at any time before the rendition of judgment by the trial court.
houses a karaoke-music restaurant, allegedly to the tune of fifteen x x x"
million pesos (P15,000,000.00). Enforcing the writ, he adds, without
hearing his side would be an injustice to him. After the lapse of this period, it will not be warranted anymore. This
is because, basically, intervention is not an independent action but is
ancillary and supplemental to an existing litigation.[43]
Intervention is a remedy by which a third party, not originally
impleaded in the proceeding, becomes a litigant therein to enable Taking into account these fundamental precepts, we rule that the
him to protect or preserve a right or interest which may be affected petitioner may not properly intervene in the case at bar. His
by such proceeding.[37] The pertinent provision is stated in Section insistence to participate in the proceeding is an unfortunate case of
1, Rule 19 of the 1997 Rules of Civil Procedure, thus: too little, too late.

"Section 1. Who may intervene. - A person who has a legal interest In the first place, petitioner's Ex-parte Permission to File a Motion to
in the matter in litigation, or in the success of either of the parties, Intervene was submitted to the RTC only on June 25, 1998. At that
or an interest against both, or is so situated as to be adversely stage, the lower court had already granted respondent's petition for
affected by a distribution or other disposition of property in the the writ in an Order dated April 21, 1998. It had issued the Writ of
custody of the court or of an officer thereof may, with leave of court, Possession on April 24, 1998. Petitioner's motion then was clearly
be allowed to intervene in the action. The court shall consider out of time, having been filed only at the execution stage. For that
whether or not the intervention will unduly delay or prejudice the reason alone, it must meet the consequence of denial. While it is
adjudication of the rights of the original parties, and whether or not true that on May 8, 1998, Vargas and S. Villanueva Enterprises
the intervenor's rights may be fully protected in a separate moved to quash the writ, that did not in any way affect the nature
proceeding."[38] of the RTC's Order as an adjudication on the merits. The issuance of
the Order is in essence a rendition of judgment within the purview
Intervention is not a matter of right but may be permitted by the of Section 2, Rule 19.
courts only when the statutory conditions for the right to intervene
is shown.[39] Thus, the allowance or disallowance of a motion to Allowing petitioner to intervene, furthermore, will serve no other
intervene is addressed to the sound discretion of the court.[40] In purpose but to unduly delay the execution of the writ, to the
determining the propriety of letting a party intervene in a case, the prejudice of the respondent. This cannot be countenanced
tribunal should not limit itself to inquiring whether "a person (1) has considering that after the consolidation of title in the buyer's name,
a legal interest in the matter in litigation; (2) or in the success of for failure of the mortgagor to redeem, the writ of possession
either of the parties; (3) or an interest against both; (4) or when is becomes a matter of right.[44] Its issuance to a purchaser in an
so situated as to be adversely affected by a distribution or other extra-judicial foreclosure is merely a ministerial function.[45] As
disposition of property in the custody of the court or of an officer such, the court neither exercises its official discretion nor judgment.
thereof."[41] Just as important, as we have stated in Big Country [46] If only to stress the writ's ministerial character, we have, in
previous cases, disallowed injunction to prohibit its issuance,[47] ventilate his side to a fuller extent as that would be the more
just as we have held that issuance of the same may not be stayed appropriate venue for elucidating whatever legal basis he alleges in
by a pending action for annulment of mortgage or the foreclosure compelling the respondent to sell to him the currently disputed
itself.[48] land.

IV.
Even if he anchors his intervention on the purported interest he has
over the land and the improvements thereon, petitioner, still, should This brings us to petitioner's final point. He briefly asserts that his
not be allowed to do so. He admits that he is a mere lessee and act of entering into a lease contract with the respondent should not
assignee. Whatever possessory rights he holds only emanate from affect his right to redeem the subject property.
that of Vargas, from whom he leased the lot, and from whom his
assignor/predecessor-in-interest bought it. Therein lies the
precariousness of his title. Petitioner cannot validly predicate his The possible legal implication of the lease on the petitioner's act of
supposed interest over the property in litigation on that of Vargas, trying to redeem the disputed lot is a question which, in our opinion,
for the simple reason that as early as December 4, 1985, the latter can best be resolved in the mandamus complaint. Whether the
has already been stripped of all her rights over the land when she, agreement must be construed as a waiver on his part of exercising
as mortgagor, failed to redeem it. A mortgagor has only one year his purported right of redemption is an issue best left for the court
within which to redeem her foreclosed real estate.[49] After that therein to decide. Whether by acknowledging the legality of the
period, she loses all her interests over it. This is in consonance with respondent's claim and title over the land at the time of the
Section 78 of the General Banking Act,[50] viz.: execution of the contract, he likewise perpetually barred himself
from redeeming the same is a matter which can be addressed most
"x x x In the event of foreclosure, whether judicially or aptly in that pending action. Hence, there is presently no need for
extrajudicially, of any mortgage on real estate which is security for us to squarely rule on this ultimate point.
any loan granted before the passage of this Act or the provisions of
this Act, the mortgagor or debtor whose real property has been sold IN VIEW WHEREOF, finding no cogent reason to disturb the
at public auction, judicially or extrajudicially, for the full or partial assailed Decision, the instant petition is hereby DENIED.
payment of an obligation to any bank, banking or credit institution,
within the purview of this Act shall have the right, within one year SO ORDERED.
after the sale of the real estate mortgage as a result of the
foreclosure of the respective mortgage, to redeem the property by
paying the amount fixed by the court in the order or execution x x
x."[51] (emphasis supplied.)

Being herself bereft of valid title and rights, Vargas can not
legitimately convey any to some other person. She could not have
lawfully sold the land to Angsico nor leased it to petitioner for her
own account. It is axiomatic that one can not transmit what one
does not have.[52] It ought to follow that petitioner could not have
acquired any right or interest from Vargas.

Withal, all is not lost for the petitioner. He can still fully protect his
rights in Civil Case No. 98-0868 or the complaint for mandamus he
filed before Branch 231 of the Pasay City RTC. There, he can
petitioner, private respondent added that he committed an act of
2. Te vs CA falsification by stating in his marriage contract with Santella that he
was still single.[8]
DECISION
After the prosecution rested its case in the criminal case for bigamy,
Before us is a petition for review on certiorari which seeks to reverse petitioner filed a demurrer to evidence with leave of court and
the Decision of the Court of Appeals Tenth Division, dated 31 August motion to inhibit the trial court judge for showing antagonism and
1994 in CA-G.R. SP No. 23971[1] and CA-G.R. SP No. 26178[2] and animosity towards petitioner's counsel during the hearings of said
the Resolution dated October 18, 1996 denying petitioner's motion case.
for reconsideration.
The trial court denied petitioner's demurrer to evidence in an Order
The facts of the case are as follows: dated November 28, 1990 which stated that the same could not be
granted because the prosecution had sufficiently established a prima
Petitioner Arthur Te and private respondent Liliana Choa were facie case against the accused.[9] The RTC also denied petitioner's
married in civil rites on September 14, 1988. They did not live motion to inhibit for lack of legal basis.[10]
together after the marriage although they would meet each other
regularly. Not long after private respondent gave birth to a girl on Petitioner then filed with the Court of Appeals a petition for
April 21, 1989, petitioner stopped visiting her.[3] certiorari, alleging grave abuse of discretion on the part of the trial
court judge, Judge Cezar C. Peralejo, for (1) exhibiting antagonism
On May 20, 1990, while his marriage with private respondent was and animosity towards petitioner's counsel; (2) violating the
subsisting, petitioner contracted a second marriage with a certain requirements of due process by denying petitioner's [motion for
Julieta Santella (Santella).[4] reconsideration and] demurrer to evidence even before the filing of
the same; (3) disregarding and failing to comply with the
On the basis of a complaint-affidavit filed by private respondent appropriate guidelines for judges promulgated by the Supreme
sometime in June 1990, when she learned about petitioner's Court; and (4) ruling that in a criminal case only "prima facie
marriage to Santella, an information charging petitioner with bigamy evidence" is sufficient for conviction of an accused. This case was
was filed with the Regional Trial Court (RTC) of Quezon City on docketed as CA-G.R. SP No. 23971.[11]
August 9, 1990.[5] This case was docketed as Criminal Case No. Q-
90-14409.[6] Petitioner also filed with the Board of Civil Engineering of the PRC
(PRC Board), where the administrative case for the revocation of his
Meanwhile, on July 20, 1990, petitioner filed in the RTC of Quezon engineering license was pending, a motion to suspend the
City an action for the annulment of his marriage to private proceedings therein in view of the pendency of the civil case for
respondent on the ground that he was forced to marry her. He annulment of his marriage to private respondent and criminal case
alleged that private respondent concealed her pregnancy by another for bigamy in Branches 106 and 98, respectively of the RTC of
man at the time of their marriage and that she was psychologically Quezon City.[12] When the Board denied the said motion in its
incapacitated to perform her essential marital obligations.[7] Order dated July 16, 1991,[13] petitioner filed with the Court of
Appeals another petition for certiorari, contending that the Board
On November 8, 1990, private respondent also filed with the gravely abused its discretion in: (1) failing to hold that the
Professional Regulation Commission (PRC) an administrative case resolution of the annulment case is prejudicial to the outcome of the
against petitioner and Santella for the revocation of their respective administrative case pending before it; (2) not holding that the
engineering licenses on the ground that they committed acts of continuation of proceedings in the administrative case could render
immorality by living together and subsequently marrying each other nugatory petitioner's right against self-incrimination in this criminal
despite their knowledge that at the time of their marriage, petitioner case for bigamy against him; and (3) making an overly-sweeping
was already married to private respondent. With respect to interpretation that Section 32 of the Rules and Regulations
Governing the Regulation and Practice of Professionals does not COMMITTED AN ERROR OF LAW IN NOT HOLDING THAT THE
allow the suspension of the administrative proceeding before the DEMURRER TO EVIDENCE SHOULD HAVE BEEN GIVEN DUE
PRC Board despite the pendency of criminal and/or administrative COURSE.
proceedings against the same respondent involving the same set of
facts in other courts or tribunals. This petition was docketed as CA- III
G.R. SP No. 26178.[14] PUBLIC RESPONDENT COMMITTED A SERIOUS LEGAL ERROR IN
NOT HOLDING THAT THE TRIAL JUDGE A QUO SHOULD HAVE
The two petitions for certiorari were consolidated since they arose INHIBITED HIMSELF.[19]
from the same set of facts.
The petition has no merit.
On 31 August 1994, the Court of Appeals, Tenth Division, rendered
the assailed decision in the consolidated petitions. The appellate While the termination of Civil Case No. Q-90-6205 for annulment of
court upheld the RTC's denial of the motion to inhibit due to petitioner's marriage to private respondent has rendered the issue
petitioner's failure to show any concrete evidence that the trial court of the propriety of suspending both the criminal case for bigamy
judge exhibited partiality and had prejudged the case. It also ruled before the RTC of Quezon City, Branch 98 and the administrative
that the denial of petitioner's motion to suspend the proceedings on case for revocation of petitioner's engineering license before the PRC
the ground of prejudicial question was in accord with law.[15] The Board moot and academic, the Court shall discuss the issue of
Court of Appeals likewise affirmed the RTC's denial of the demurrer prejudicial question to emphasize the guarding and controlling
to evidence filed by petitioner for his failure to set forth persuasive precepts and rules.[20]
grounds to support the same, considering that the prosecution was
able to adduce evidence showing the existence of the elements of A prejudicial question has been defined as one based on a fact
bigamy.[16] distinct and separate from the crime but so intimately connected
with it that it determines the guilt or innocence of the accused, and
Neither did the appellate court find grave abuse of discretion on the for it to suspend the criminal action, it must appear not only that
part of the Board's Order denying petitioner's motion to suspend said case involves facts intimately related to those upon which the
proceedings in the administrative case on the ground of prejudicial criminal prosecution would be based but also that in the resolution
question. Respondent court held that no prejudicial question existed of the issue or issues raised in the civil case, the guilt or innocence
since the action sought to be suspended is administrative in nature, of the accused would necessarily be determined.[21] The rationale
and the other action involved is a civil case.[17] behind the principle of suspending a criminal case in view of a
prejudicial question is to avoid two conflicting decisions.[22]
Petitioner thereafter filed a motion for reconsideration of the
decision of the Court of Appeals but the same was denied.[18] The Court of Appeals did not err when it ruled that the pendency of
the civil case for annulment of marriage filed by petitioner against
Hence, petitioner filed the instant petition raising the following private respondent did not pose a prejudicial question which would
issues: necessitate that the criminal case for bigamy be suspended until
said civil case is terminated.
I
PUBLIC RESPONDENT COMMITTED A SERIOUS ERROR IN REFUSING The outcome of the civil case for annulment of petitioner's marriage
TO SUSPEND THE LEGAL [CRIMINAL AND ADMINISTRATIVE] to private respondent had no bearing upon the determination of
PROCEEDINGS DESPITE THE PENDENCY OF THE CIVIL CASE FOR petitioner's innocence or guilt in the criminal case for bigamy,
DECLARATION OF NULLITY OF MARRIAGE. because all that is required for the charge of bigamy to prosper is
that the first marriage be subsisting at the time the second marriage
II is contracted.[23] Petitioner's argument that the nullity of his
PUBLIC RESPONDENT GRAVELY ABUSED ITS DISCRETION AND marriage to private respondent had to be resolved first in the civil
case before the criminal proceedings could continue, because a examinee or registered professional involving the same facts as in
declaration that their marriage was void ab initio would necessarily the administrative case filed or to be filed before the Board shall
absolve him from criminal liability, is untenable. The ruling in People neither suspend nor bar the proceeding of the latter case. The Board
vs. Mendoza[24] and People vs. Aragon[25] cited by petitioner that shall proceed independently with the investigation of the case and
no judicial decree is necessary to establish the invalidity of a shall render therein its decision without awaiting for the final
marriage which is void ab initio has been overturned. The prevailing decision of the courts or quasi-judicial body.
rule is found in Article 40 of the Family Code, which was already in
effect at the time of petitioner's marriage to private respondent in It must also be noted that the allegations in the administrative
September 1988. Said article states that the absolute nullity of a complaint before the PRC Board are not confined to the issue of the
previous marriage may not be invoked for purposes of remarriage alleged bigamous marriage contracted by petitioner and Santella.
unless there is a final judgment declaring such previous marriage Petitioner is also charged with immoral conduct for continued failure
void. Thus, under the law, a marriage, even one which is void or to perform his obligations as husband to private respondent and as
voidable, shall be deemed valid until declared otherwise in a judicial father to their child, and for cohabiting with Santella without the
proceeding.[26] In Landicho vs. Relova,[27] we held that: benefit of marriage.[30] The existence of these other charges
justified the continuation of the proceedings before the PRC Board.
Parties to a marriage should not be permitted to judge for
themselves its nullity, for this must be submitted to the judgment of Petitioner also contends that the Court of Appeals erred in upholding
competent courts and only when the nullity of a marriage is so the trial court's denial of his demurrer to evidence in the criminal
declared can it be held as void, and so long as there is no such case for bigamy, arguing that the prosecution failed to establish the
declaration the presumption of marriage exists.[28] existence of both the first and second marriages beyond reasonable
doubt. Petitioner claims that the original copy of marriage contract
It is clear from the foregoing that the pendency of the civil case for between him and private respondent was not presented, the
annulment of petitioner's marriage to private respondent did not signatures therein were not properly identified and there was no
give rise to a prejudicial question which warranted the suspension of showing that the requisites of a valid marriage were complied with.
the proceedings in the criminal case for bigamy since at the time of He alleges further that the original copy of the marriage contract
the alleged commission of the crime, their marriage was, under the between him and Santella was not presented, that no proof that he
law, still valid and subsisting. signed said contract was adduced, and that there was no witness
presented to show that a second marriage ceremony participated in
Neither did the filing of said civil case for annulment necessitate the by him ever took place.[31]
suspension of the administrative proceedings before the PRC Board.
As discussed above, the concept of prejudicial question involves a We are not persuaded. The grant or denial of a demurrer to
civil and a criminal case. We have previously ruled that there is no evidence is left to the sound discretion of the trial court, and its
prejudicial question where one case is administrative and the other ruling on the matter shall not be disturbed in the absence of a grave
is civil.[29] abuse of such discretion.[32] In this case, the Court of Appeals did
not find any grave abuse of discretion on the part of the trial court,
Furthermore, Section 32 of the Rules and Regulations Governing the which based its denial of the demurrer on two grounds: first, the
Regulation and Practice of Professionals of the PRC Board expressly prosecution established a prima facie case for bigamy against the
provides that the administrative proceedings before it shall not be petitioner; and second, petitioner's allegations in the demurrer were
suspended notwithstanding the existence of a criminal and/or civil insufficient to justify the grant of the same. It has been held that
case against the respondent involving the same facts as the the appellate court will not review in a special civil action for
administrative case: certiorari the prosecution's evidence and decide in advance that
such evidence has or has not yet established the guilt of the
The filing or pendency of a criminal and/or civil cases in the courts accused beyond reasonable doubt.[33] In view of the trial court's
or an administrative case in another judicial body against an finding that a prima facie case against petitioner exists, his proper
recourse is to adduce evidence in his defense.[34] voluntary inhibition of a judge under Section 1, Rule 137, the
rudimentary rule is that the mere suspicion that a judge is partial is
The Court also finds it necessary to correct petitioner's not enough. There should be clear and convincing evidence to prove
misimpression that by denying his demurrer to evidence in view of the charge of bias and partiality.[39]
the existence of a prima facie case against him, the trial court was
already making a pronouncement that he is liable for the offense Furthermore, since the grounds raised by petitioner in his motion to
charged. As correctly held by the Court of Appeals, the order of the inhibit are not among those expressly mentioned in Section 1, Rule
RTC denying the demurrer was not an adjudication on the merits but 137 of the Revised Rules of Court, the decision to inhibit himself lay
merely an evaluation of the sufficiency of the prosecution's evidence within the sound discretion of Judge Peralejo. Said provision of law
to determine whether or not a full-blown trial would be necessary to states:
resolve the case.[35] The RTC's observation that there was a prima
facie case against petitioner only meant that the prosecution had Section 1. Disqualification of judges. No judge or judicial officer shall
presented sufficient evidence to sustain its proposition that sit in any case in which he, or his wife or child, is pecuniarily
petitioner had committed the offense of bigamy, and unless interested as heir, legatee, creditor or otherwise, or in which he is
petitioner presents evidence to rebut the same, such would be the related to either party within the sixth degree of consanguinity or
conclusion.[36] Said declaration by the RTC should not be construed affinity, or to counsel within the fourth degree, computed according
as a pronouncement of petitioner's guilt. It was precisely because of to the rules of the civil law, or in which he has been executor,
such finding that the trial court denied the demurrer, in order that administrator, guardian, trustee or counsel, or in which he has
petitioner may present evidence in his defense and allow said court presided in any inferior court when his ruling or decision is the
to resolve the case based on the evidence adduced by both parties. subject of review, without the written consent of all parties in
interest, signed by them and entered upon the record.
Lastly, petitioner contends that his motion to inhibit Judge Peralejo
in Criminal Case No. Q-90-14409 should have been granted since A judge may, in the exercise of his sound discretion, disqualify
said judge exhibited partiality and bias against him in several himself from sitting in the case, for just and valid reasons other than
instances. First, when petitioner manifested that he would file a those mentioned above.
motion for reconsideration of the denial of his motion to suspend the
proceedings in said case, the judge said such motion was dilatory Thus, it was not mandatory that the judge inhibit himself from
and would be denied even though the motion for reconsideration hearing and deciding the case.
had not yet been filed. Second, when petitioner's counsel
manifested that he had just recovered from an accident and was not This Court does not find any abuse of discretion by respondent
physically fit for trial, the judge commented that counsel was merely judge in denying petitioner's motion to inhibit. The test for
trying to delay the case and required said counsel to produce a determining the propriety of the denial of said motion is whether
medical certificate to support his statement. Third, when petitioner petitioner was deprived a fair and impartial trial.[40] The instances
manifested that he was going to file a demurrer to evidence, the when Judge Peralejo allegedly exhibited antagonism and partiality
judge characterized the same as dilatory and declared that he would against petitioner and/or his counsel did not deprive him of a fair
deny the same. According to petitioner, the judge's hostile attitude and impartial trial. As discussed earlier, the denial by the judge of
towards petitioner's counsel as shown in the foregoing instances petitioner's motion to suspend the criminal proceeding and the
justified the grant of his motion to inhibit. demurrer to evidence are in accord with law and jurisprudence.
Neither was there anything unreasonable in the requirement that
We agree with the appellate court that the grounds raised by petitioner's counsel submit a medical certificate to support his claim
petitioner against Judge Peralejo did not conclusively show that the that he suffered an accident which rendered him unprepared for
latter was biased and had prejudged the case.[37] In People of the trial. Such requirement was evidently imposed upon petitioner's
Philippines vs. Court of Appeals,[38] this Court held that while bias counsel to ensure that the resolution of the case was not hampered
and prejudice have been recognized as valid reasons for the by unnecessary and unjustified delays, in keeping with the judge's
duty to disposing of the court's business promptly.[41]

WHEREFORE, the petition is hereby DENIED for lack of merit.


SO ORDERED.
3. Bobis vs Bobis Court, Rule 111, Sec. 5. Elements of prejudicial question. - The two (2)
DECISION essential elements of a prejudicial question are: (a) the civil action involves
On October 21, 1985, respondent contracted a first marriage with one Maria Dulce B. an issue similar or intimately related to the issue raised in the criminal
Javier. Without said marriage having been annulled, nullified or terminated, the same action; and (b) the resolution of such issue determines whether or not the
respondent contracted a second marriage with petitioner Imelda Marbella-Bobis on criminal action may proceed. (See also Prado v. People, 218 Phil. 571)]
January 25, 1996 and allegedly a third marriage with a certain Julia Sally Hernandez.
Based on petitioner's complaint-affidavit, an information for bigamy was filed against
(a) the civil action involves an issue similar or intimately related to the issue
respondent on February 25, 1998, which was docketed as Criminal Case No. Q98-
75611 of the Regional Trial Court, Branch 226, Quezon City. Sometime thereafter, raised in the criminal action; and
respondent initiated a civil action for the judicial declaration of absolute nullity of his (b) the resolution of such issue determines whether or not the criminal
first marriage on the ground that it was celebrated without a marriage license. action may proceed.
Respondent then filed a motion to suspend the proceedings in the criminal case for
bigamy invoking the pending civil case for nullity of the first marriage as a prejudicial A prejudicial question does not conclusively resolve the guilt or innocence of the
question to the criminal case. The trial judge granted the motion to suspend the accused but simply tests the sufficiency of the allegations in the information in order
criminal case in an Order dated December 29, 1998.1 [Rollo, pp. 29-30.] Petitioner to sustain the further prosecution of the criminal case. A party who raises a
filed a motion for reconsideration, but the same was denied. prejudicial question is deemed to have hypothetically admitted that all the essential
elements of a crime have been adequately alleged in the information, considering
Hence, this petition for review on certiorari. Petitioner argues that that the prosecution has not yet presented a single evidence on the indictment or
respondent should have first obtained a judicial declaration of nullity of his may not yet have rested its case. A challenge of the allegations in the information on
the ground of prejudicial question is in effect a question on the merits of the criminal
first marriage before entering into the second marriage, inasmuch as the
charge through a non-criminal suit.
alleged prejudicial question justifying suspension of the bigamy case is no
longer a legal truism pursuant to Article 40 of the Family Code.2 [Petition, p.
Article 40 of the Family Code, which was effective at the time of celebration
6; Rollo, p. 23.]
of the second marriage, requires a prior judicial declaration of nullity of a
previous marriage before a party may remarry. The clear implication of this
The issue to be resolved in this petition is whether the subsequent filing of a
is that it is not for the parties, particularly the accused, to determine the
civil action for declaration of nullity of a previous marriage constitutes a
validity or invalidity of the marriage.8 [Nial v. Badayog, G.R. No. 133778,
prejudicial question to a criminal case for bigamy.
March 14, 2000.] Whether or not the first marriage was void for lack of a
license is a matter of defense because there is still no judicial declaration of
A prejudicial question is one which arises in a case the resolution of which is
its nullity at the time the second marriage was contracted. It should be
a logical antecedent of the issue involved therein.3 [Fortich-Celdran v.
remembered that bigamy can successfully be prosecuted provided all its
Celdran, 19 SCRA 502 (1967); Zapanta v. Montessa; 114 Phil. 428 (1962);
elements concur - two of which are a previous marriage and a subsequent
Merced v. Diez, 109 Phil. 155 (1960); See also People v. Aragon, 94 Phil. 357
marriage which would have been valid had it not been for the existence at
(1954) cited in Dichaves v. Judge Apalit, AM-MTJ-00-1274, June 8, 2000.] It is a
the material time of the first marriage.9 [People v. Dumpo, 62 Phil. 246
question based on a fact distinct and separate from the crime but so
(1935). The elements of bigamy are: (1) the offender has been legally
intimately connected with it that it determines the guilt or innocence of the
married; (2) that the first marriage has not been legally dissolved, or in case
accused.4 [Yap v. Paras, 205 SCRA 625 (1992); Donato v. Luna, 160 SCRA 441
his or her spouse is absent, the absent spouse has not been judicially
(1988); Quiambao v. Osorio, 158 SCRA 674 (1988); Mendiola v. Macadaeg, 1
declared presumptively dead; (3) that he contracts a subsequent marriage;
SCRA 593 (1961); Aleria v. Mendoza, 83 Phil. 427 (1949); Berbari v.
(4) the subsequent marriage would have been valid had it not been for the
Concepcion, 40 Phil. 837 (1920)] It must appear not only that the civil case
existence of the first. The exception to prosecution for bigamy are those
involves facts upon which the criminal action is based, but also that the
covered by Article 41 of the Family Code and by P.D. 1083 otherwise known
resolution of the issues raised in the civil action would necessarily be
as the Code of Muslim Personal Laws of the Philippines, which provides that
determinative of the criminal case.5 [Ras v. Rasul, 100 SCRA 125 (1980);
penal laws relative to the crime of bigamy "shall not apply to a person
Benitez v. Concepcion, Jr., 2 SCRA 178 (1961) citing De Leon v. Mabanag, 70
married xxx under Muslim Law" where the requirements set therein are met.
Phil. 202 (1940)] Consequently, the defense must involve an issue similar or
See also Sulu Islamic Association v. Malik, 226 SCRA 193 (1993); Merced v.
intimately related to the same issue raised in the criminal action and its
Diez, 109 Phil. 155 (1960)]
resolution determinative of whether or not the latter action may proceed.6
[Yap v. Paras, 205 SCRA 625 (1992)] Its two essential elements are:7 [Rules of
In the case at bar, respondent's clear intent is to obtain a judicial declaration June 20, 2000.] This ruling applies here by analogy since both crimes
of nullity of his first marriage and thereafter to invoke that very same presuppose the subsistence of a marriage.
judgment to prevent his prosecution for bigamy. He cannot have his cake
and eat it too. Otherwise, all that an adventurous bigamist has to do is to Ignorance of the existence of Article 40 of the Family Code cannot even be
disregard Article 40 of the Family Code, contract a subsequent marriage and successfully invoked as an excuse.16 [Civil Code, Article 3. ] The contracting
escape a bigamy charge by simply claiming that the first marriage is void and of a marriage knowing that the requirements of the law have not been
that the subsequent marriage is equally void for lack of a prior judicial complied with or that the marriage is in disregard of a legal impediment is an
declaration of nullity of the first. A party may even enter into a marriage act penalized by the Revised Penal Code.17 [Revised Penal Code, Article 350.]
aware of the absence of a requisite - usually the marriage license - and The legality of a marriage is a matter of law and every person is presumed to
thereafter contract a subsequent marriage without obtaining a declaration of know the law. As respondent did not obtain the judicial declaration of nullity
nullity of the first on the assumption that the first marriage is void. Such when he entered into the second marriage, why should he be allowed to
scenario would render nugatory the provisions on bigamy. As succinctly held belatedly obtain that judicial declaration in order to delay his criminal
in Landicho v. Relova:10 [22 SCRA 731, 735 (1968)] prosecution and subsequently defeat it by his own disobedience of the law?
If he wants to raise the nullity of the previous marriage, he can do it as a
(P)arties to a marriage should not be permitted to judge for themselves its matter of defense when he presents his evidence during the trial proper in
nullity, only competent courts having such authority. Prior to such the criminal case.
declaration of nullity, the validity of the first marriage is beyond question. A
party who contracts a second marriage then assumes the risk of being The burden of proof to show the dissolution of the first marriage before the
prosecuted for bigamy. second marriage was contracted rests upon the defense,18 [People v.
Dungao, 56 Phil. 805 (1931)] but that is a matter that can be raised in the trial
Respondent alleges that the first marriage in the case before us was void for of the bigamy case. In the meantime, it should be stressed that not every
lack of a marriage license. Petitioner, on the other hand, argues that her defense raised in the civil action may be used as a prejudicial question to
marriage to respondent was exempt from the requirement of a marriage obtain the suspension of the criminal action. The lower court, therefore,
license. More specifically, petitioner claims that prior to their marriage, they erred in suspending the criminal case for bigamy. Moreover, when
had already attained the age of majority and had been living together as respondent was indicted for bigamy, the fact that he entered into two
husband and wife for at least five years.11 [Civil Code, Article 76.] The issue marriage ceremonies appeared indubitable. It was only after he was sued by
in this case is limited to the existence of a prejudicial question, and we are petitioner for bigamy that he thought of seeking a judicial declaration of
not called upon to resolve the validity of the first marriage. Be that as it may, nullity of his first marriage. The obvious intent, therefore, is that respondent
suffice it to state that the Civil Code, under which the first marriage was merely resorted to the civil action as a potential prejudicial question for the
celebrated, provides that "every intendment of law or fact leans toward the purpose of frustrating or delaying his criminal prosecution. As has been
validity of marriage, the indissolubility of the marriage bonds."12 [Civil Code, discussed above, this cannot be done.
Article 220.] Hence, parties should not be permitted to judge for themselves
the nullity of their marriage, for the same must be submitted to the In the light of Article 40 of the Family Code, respondent, without first having
determination of competent courts. Only when the nullity of the marriage is obtained the judicial declaration of nullity of the first marriage, can not be
so declared can it be held as void, and so long as there is no such declaration said to have validly entered into the second marriage. Per current
the presumption is that the marriage exists.13 [Landicho v. Relova, supra.] jurisprudence, a marriage though void still needs a judicial declaration of
No matter how obvious, manifest or patent the absence of an element is, the such fact before any party can marry again; otherwise the second marriage
intervention of the courts must always be resorted to. That is why Article 40 will also be void.19 [Apiag v. Judge Cantero, 268 SCRA 47, 61 (1997)] The
of the Family Code requires a "final judgment," which only the courts can reason is that, without a judicial declaration of its nullity, the first marriage is
render. Thus, as ruled in Landicho v. Relova,14 [Supra. ] he who contracts a presumed to be subsisting. In the case at bar, respondent was for all legal
second marriage before the judicial declaration of nullity of the first marriage intents and purposes regarded as a married man at the time he contracted
assumes the risk of being prosecuted for bigamy, and in such a case the his second marriage with petitioner.20 [Wiegel v. Hon. Sempio-Dy, 143 SCRA
criminal case may not be suspended on the ground of the pendency of a civil 499, 501 (1986)] Against this legal backdrop, any decision in the civil action
case for declaration of nullity. In a recent case for concubinage, we held that for nullity would not erase the fact that respondent entered into a second
the pendency of a civil case for declaration of nullity of marriage is not a marriage during the subsistence of a first marriage. Thus, a decision in the
prejudicial question.15 [Beltran v. People of the Philippines, G.R. No. 137567, civil case is not essential to the determination of the criminal charge. It is,
therefore, not a prejudicial question. As stated above, respondent cannot be
permitted to use his own malfeasance to defeat the criminal action against
him.21 [People v. Aragon, 94 Phil. 357, 360 (1954)].

WHEREFORE, the petition is GRANTED. The order dated December 29, 1998 of the
Regional Trial Court, Branch 226 of Quezon City is REVERSED and SET ASIDE and the
trial court is ordered to IMMEDIATELY proceed with Criminal Case No. Q98-75611.
SO ORDERED.
4. First Producers Holdings vs Co the complaint is hereby quoted as follows:

DECISION '2.....On November 25, 1997, in the regular meeting of the Board of Directors
of the Producers Bank of the Philippines held at Manhattan Bldg. Nueva
A criminal proceeding, as a rule, may be suspended upon a showing that a Street, Manila, a resolution was adopted authorizing the corporation to
prejudicial question determinative of the guilt or innocence of the accused is purchase three (3) proprietary shares of Manila Polo Club to be placed in the
the very issue to be decided in a civil case pending in another tribunal. names of Messrs. Co Bun Chun, Henry Co and Luis Co to be held by them on
However, such suspension cannot be allowed if it is apparent that the civil behalf of the corporation which is evidenced by the attached ANNEX 'C':
action was filed as an afterthought for the purpose of delaying the ongoing
criminal action. This exception applies especially in cases in which the trial '3. In accordance with said resolution, the corporation purchased said
court trying the criminal action has authority to decide such issue, and the proprietary shares in the name of the nominees, one of which was placed in
civil action was instituted merely to delay the criminal proceeding and the name of Mr. Luis L. Co as evidenced by Proprietary Membership
thereby multiply suits and vex the court system with unnecessary cases. Certificate No. 203 dated July 2, 1979, hereto attached as ANNEX D;
Procedural rules should be construed to promote substantial justice, not to
frustrate or delay its delivery. '4. On March 17, 1994, after the separation from the service of Mr. Luis L. Co,
Ms. Amelita F. Bautista demanded from him the transfer of the subject
Statement of the Case certificate in the name of the corporation as evidenced by a letter dated
March 16, 1994 attached hereto as ANNEX 'E';
Before this Court is a Petition for Review on Certiorari1 [Rollo, pp. 11-26.]
under Rule 45 of the Rules of Court, seeking a reversal of the May 10, 1999 '5. Despite his duty to assign the certificate back to the corporation and the
Decision2 [Rollo, pp. 31-35.] of the Court of Appeals3 [Seventeenth Division, subject demand, Mr. LUIS L. CO, on April 26, 1994, instead registered the loss
composed of J. Eugenio S. Labitoria, Division chairman and ponente; and JJ of the said proprietary share with Manila Polo Club Inc. by executing a false
Marina L. Buzon and Renato C. Dacudao, members, both concurring.] (CA) in Affidavit of Loss and subsequently, he was able to secure a replacement
CA-GR SP No. 49701. The dispositive portion of the assailed Decision reads as certificate No. 4454 in his name after allegedly complying with the legal
follows: requirements for the replacement of lost certificates. This is evidenced by the
letter dated September 5, 1996 signed by Ramon B. Salazar, General
"WHEREFORE, premises considered, the Orders dated February 27, 1998 and Manager of Manila Polo Club, Inc., hereto attached as ANNEX 'F';
October 9, 1998 are hereby ANNULLED and SET ASIDE, and respondent judge
is hereby DIRECTED TO SUSPEND the proceedings in Criminal Case No. 97- '6. In so doing, Mr. Luis L. Co misrepresented himself to be the legitimate
734 to await the outcome of Civil Case No. 97-2663."4 [Assailed Decision, p. owner of subject share and by executing a false affidavit, he made it appear
5; rollo, p. 35.] that Certificate No. 203 was lost despite the fact that said certificate is
existing and remains in possession of the corporation;
The February 27, 1998 Order5 [Written by Judge Fernando V. Gorospe Jr. of
the Regional Trial Court of Makati City, Branch 61.] of the Regional Trial Court '7. That on February 06, 1997, another demand was made upon Mr. Luis L.
(RTC) which was set aside by the CA disposed as follows: Co to deliver to us the newly issued Manila Polo Club Certificate No. 4454
and to execute a Deed of Assignment in favor of a new nominee. Said
"The MOTION TO SUSPEND on grounds of prejudicial question and to reset demand is evidenced by the attached letter dated February 6, 1997 signed by
arraignment is hereby DENIED for lack of merit."6 [Rollo, p. 55.] Atty. Pedro M. Malabanan, ANNEX 'G' hereof;

The Facts '8. That the value of said certificate is FIVE MILLION SIX HUNDRED FIFTY
THOUSAND PESOS (P5,650,000.00) as of April 1996 as evidenced by a
The undisputed facts are summarized by the Court of Appeals as follows: certification dated Oct. 03, 1996 hereto attached as ANNEX 'H';

"On March 13, 1997, x x x Armand M. Luna filed a criminal complaint for '9. Despite subject demand, Mr. Luis L. Co failed and [has] continuously
estafa and perjury against [herein respondent] Luis L. Co in the Office of the fail[ed] to deliver the subject certificate to the corporation and to execute a
City Prosecutor of Manila, docketed as I.S. No. 97-10892. Pertinent portion of Deed of Assignment in favor of the nominee of the corporation to the
damage and prejudice of the latter; Romualdez, was filed earlier.]

'10. That said act of Mr. Luis Co constitutes misappropriation or conversion Issues
of something given to him in trust to the prejudice of the bank;'
Petitioner attributes to the CA the following errors:
"After the filing of [Co's] counter affidavit and after consideration of
necessary pleadings appended thereto, [the] City Prosecutor recommended "A.....The Court of Appeals committed grave and reversible error in finding
the filing of estafa and perjury against [him]. Thus, the Office of the City that a prejudicial question exists with respondent's filing of Civil Case No. 97-
Prosecutor filed [an] information for estafa against [him] in the Regional Trial 2663.
Court of Makati docketed as Criminal Case No. 97-734 and another
information for perjury was filed in the Metropolitan Trial Court of Makati. B.....The Court of Appeals committed grave and reversible error in directing
the suspension of Criminal Case No. 97-734 pending resolution of Civil Case
"Unsatisfied, [Co] appealed the resolution of the City Prosecutor to the No. 97-2663."10 [Memorandum for Petitioner, p. 7; rollo, p. 142.]
Department of Justice but was dismissed by the latter in a[n] order dated
October 2, 1997. In the main, the Court will resolve the propriety of the suspension of the
criminal proceedings based on the alleged prejudicial question.
"On November 16, 1997, during the pendency of the criminal case, [Co] filed
an action for damages against Armand Luna and First Producers Holdings The Court's Ruling
(complainant in the criminal case filed) with the Regional Trial Court of
Makati, and was docketed as Civil Case No. 97-2663. In the said complaint, The Petition is meritorious.
[he] claimed ownership over questioned Manila Polo Club Proprietary Share
No. 203. Main Issue: Existence of a Prejudicial Question

"On December 10, 1997, [Co] filed a motion for suspension of the case and Echoing the appellate court's position, respondent maintains that the issue
his arraignment thereon but was denied by [the trial court] in an order dated of ownership of the Manila Polo Club share, which was raised in the civil
February 27, 1998."7 [Assailed Decision, pp. 1-4; rollo, pp. 31-34.] action, constitutes a prejudicial question warranting the suspension of the
criminal case for estafa. He argues that his guilt or innocence may be
Ruling of the Court of Appeals determined only after the issue of ownership has been resolved. He further
contends that the prejudicial question was seasonably raised because the
The Court of Appeals explained that "a prejudicial question is a question Rules provide that it may be made "at any time before the prosecution
which arise[s] in a case, the resolution of which is a logical antecedent of the rests."
issue involved in said case, and the cognizance of which pertains to another
tribunal."8 [Assailed Decision, p. 4; rollo, p. 34, citing People v. Aragon, 94 Prejudicial questions are regulated by Rule 111 of the Rules of Court, as
Phil. 357.] And based on the above definition, it ruled that the requisites for follows:
the existence of a prejudicial question were present in the case at bar.
Should the ownership of the share in question be decided in favor of Luis Co, "SEC. 5. Elements of prejudicial question. -- The two (2) essential elements of
there would be no basis for the charge of estafa against him. The CA added a prejudicial question are: (a) the civil action involves an issue similar or
that respondent's belated filing of the civil case did not detract from the intimately related to the issue raised in the criminal action; and (b) the
correctness of his cause, since a motion for suspension of a criminal action resolution of such issue determines whether or not the criminal action may
based on the pendency of a prejudicial action may be filed at any time before proceed."
the prosecution rests.
"SEC. 6. Suspension by reason of prejudicial question. -- A petition for
Hence, this Petition.9 [The case was deemed submitted for resolution on suspension of the criminal action based upon the pendency of a prejudicial
March 22, 2000, upon receipt by this Court of Respondent's Memorandum, question in a civil action may be filed in the office of the fiscal or the court
signed by Attys. Marius P. Corpus and Ephraim B. Cortez. Petitioner's conducting the preliminary investigation. When the criminal action has been
Memorandum, signed by Attys. Raul T. Vasquez and Brigida Conception H. filed in court for trial, the petition to suspend shall be filed in the same
criminal action at any time before the prosecution rests."
Equally unmeritorious is respondent's theory that the trial court trying the
True, the Motion to Suspend the criminal case on the ground that a criminal case would be bound by the Membership Certificate, which was
prejudicial question existed was raised "before the prosecution rest[ed]."11 registered in his name and would thus be "conclusive evidence of his
[Section 6, Rule 111, Rules of Court.] However, the peculiar circumstances of ownership."16 [Respondent's Memorandum, p. 7; rollo, p. 160.]
this case clearly show that it was merely a ploy to delay the resolution of the
criminal case and vex the already overloaded court system with an If the trial court would indeed consider the Certificate as conclusive proof of
unnecessary case. his ownership, then such ruling would in fact be favorable to him and give
him no reason to file the civil suit. It would be up to petitioner, then, to
Civil Case Clearly Dilatory disprove during the criminal proceedings his alleged ownership.

The criminal action for estafa had been lodged with the Office of the City Ownership Is Not Necessarily An Element of Estafa
Prosecutor on March 13, 1997. Yet, respondent filed the civil case only eight
months later, on November 18, 1997. Indeed, as early as 1994, a written In any event, the issue of ownership is not a necessary element of estafa, as
demand had already been served on him to return the said share.12 held by the Court in Hernandez v. Court of Appeals, which we quote:
[Petitioner's Memorandum, pp. 14-15; rollo, pp. 149-150.] He did not contest
petitioner's claim; in fact, he filed the present civil action several months "Ownership is not a necessary element of the crime of estafa x x x. In estafa,
after the institution of the criminal charge. Verily, it is apparent that the civil the person prejudiced or the immediate victim of the fraud need not be the
action was instituted only as an afterthought to delay the proceedings in the owner of the goods. Thus, Article 315 of the Revised Penal Code provides
criminal case. that 'Any person who shall defraud another (it does not say 'owner') by any
means mentioned is that the loss should have fallen on someone other than
The dilatory character of the strategy of respondent is apparent from the fact the perpetrators of the crime. x x x"17 [228 SCRA 430, 437, December 14,
that he could have raised the issue of ownership in the criminal case. He 1993, per Quiason, J.]
himself admits that the issue of ownership may be raised in the estafa case.
Furthermore, to allow respondent's stance is to open the floodgates, as it were, to
Yet, he resorts to subterfuge, arguing: similar dilatory tactics. In this light, we reiterate hereunder our earlier
pronouncement:
"x x x. The resolution of the issue of ownership in Criminal Case No. 97-734
would only be for the purpose of determining the guilt or innocence of the "Were we to sanction the theory advanced by the respondents x x x, there
respondent. The said issue may not be resolved with finality in the same would hardly be a case for estafa that could be prosecuted speedily, it being
criminal proceedings, since the court a quo would be bound by what appears the easiest thing for the accused to block the proceedings by the simple
on the face of the Manila Polo Club Proprietary Membership Certificate No. expedient of filing an independent civil action against the complainant,
203. Considering that the subject Membership Certificate clearly shows that raising therein the issue that he had not received from the latter the amount
the same is registered in the name of the respondent, the same is conclusive alleged to have been misappropriated. A claim to this effect is properly a
evidence of his ownership."13 [Respondent's Memorandum, p. 7; rollo, p. matter of defense to be interposed by the party charged in the criminal
160.] proceedings."18 [Jimenez v. Averia, 22 SCRA 1380, 1382, March 29, 1968, per
Dizon, J.]
This argument is bereft of merit. We find no sufficient reason why the trial court
hearing the criminal case cannot resolve the question of ownership. Significantly, the The foregoing principle applies with equal force in this case. Indeed, the
civil action for recovery of civil liability is impliedly instituted with the filing of the rules of procedure, including the rule on prejudicial questions, were
criminal action.14 [Section 1, Rule 111, Rules of Court.] Hence, respondent may conceived to afford parties an expeditious and just disposition of cases. This
invoke all defenses pertaining to his civil liability in the criminal action. In fact, there Court will not countenance their misuse and abuse to frustrate or delay the
is no law or rule prohibiting him from airing exhaustively the question of ownership. delivery of justice.19 [Cf. Cusi-Hernandez v. Diaz, GR No. 140436, July 18,
After all, the trial court has jurisdiction to hear the said defense. The rules of evidence 2000.] In this light, the civil action may in fact give rise to the evils of forum
and procedure for the recovery of civil liabilities are the same in both criminal and
civil cases.15 [See Tolentino, Commentaries and Jurisprudence on the New Civil Code,
shopping.
1987 ed., Vol. I, p. 157.]
WHEREFORE, the Petition is hereby GRANTED and the assailed Decision of the Court
of Appeals REVERSED and SET ASIDE. The Regional Trial Court is ordered to proceed
with the trial of Criminal Case No. 97-734 with all deliberate dispatch. No costs.
SO ORDERED.
5. Philippine Rabbit vs People
'c. to the heirs of LORNA ANCHETA, the sum of P50,000.00 as indemnity for
DECISION her death, the sum of P22,838.00 as funeral expenses, the sum of P20,544.94
PANGANIBAN, J.: as medical expenses and her loss of income for 30 years at P1,000.00 per
month, and the further sum of P100,000.00 for moral damages;
When the accused-employee absconds or jumps bail, the judgment meted
out becomes final and executory. The employer cannot defeat the finality of 'd. to MAUREEN BRENNAN, the sum of P229,654.00 as hospital expenses,
the judgment by filing a notice of appeal on its own behalf in the guise of doctor's fees of P170,000.00 for the orthopedic surgeon, P22,500.00 for the
asking for a review of its subsidiary civil liability. Both the primary civil [n]eurologist, an additional indemnity [of] at least P150,000.00 to cover
liability of the accused-employee and the subsidiary civil liability of the future correction of deformity of her limbs, and moral damages in the
employer are carried in one single decision that has become final and amount of P1,000,000.00;
executory.
'e. to ROSIE BALAJO, the sum of P3,561.46 as medical expenses, P2,000.00 as
The Case loss of income, and P25,000.00 as moral damages;

Before this Court is a Petition for Review[1] under Rule 45 of the Rules of 'f. to TERESITA TAMONDONG, the sum of P19,800.47 as medical expenses,
Court, assailing the March 29, 2000[2] and the March 27, 2001[3] Resolutions P800.00 for loss of income, and P25,000.00 as moral damages;
of the Court of Appeals (CA) in CA-GR CV No. 59390. Petitioner's appeal from
the judgment of the Regional Trial Court (RTC) of San Fernando, La Union in 'g. to JULIANA TABTAB, the amount of P580.81 as medical expenses,
Criminal Case No. 2535 was dismissed in the first Resolution as follows: P4,600.00 as actual damages and her loss earnings of P1,400.00 as well as
moral damages in the amount of P10,000.00;
"WHEREFORE, for all the foregoing, the motion to dismiss is GRANTED and
the appeal is ordered DISMISSED."[4] 'h. to MIGUEL ARQUITOLA, the sum of P12,473.82 as hospital expenses,
P14,530.00 as doctor's fees, P1,000.00 for medicines and P50,000.00 as
The second Resolution denied petitioner's Motion for Reconsideration.[5] moral damages;

The Facts 'i. to CLARITA CABANBAN, the sum of P155.00 for medical expenses, P87.00
for medicines, P1,710.00 as actual damages and P5,000.00 as moral
The facts of the case are summarized by the CA in this wise: damages;

"On July 27, 1994, accused [Napoleon Roman y Macadangdang] was found 'j. to MARIANO CABANBAN, the sum of P1,395.00 for hospital bills, P500.00
guilty and convicted of the crime of reckless imprudence resulting to triple for medicine, P2,100.00 as actual damages, P1,200.00 for loss of income and
homicide, multiple physical injuries and damage to property and was P5,000.00 as moral damages;
sentenced to suffer the penalty of four (4) years, nine (9) months and eleven
(11) days to six (6) years, and to pay damages as follows: 'k. to La Union Electric Company as the registered owner of the Toyota Hi-Ace
Van, the amount of P250,000.00 as actual damages for the cost of the totally
'a. to pay the heirs of JUSTINO TORRES the sum of P50,000.00 as indemnity wrecked vehicle; to the owner of the jeepney, the amount of P22,698.38 as
for his death, plus the sum of P25,383.00, for funeral expenses, his unearned actual damages;'
income for one year at P2,500.00 a month, P50,000.00 as indemnity for the
support of Renato Torres, and the further sum of P300,000.00 as moral "The court further ruled that [petitioner], in the event of the insolvency of
damages; accused, shall be liable for the civil liabilities of the accused. Evidently, the
judgment against accused had become final and executory.
'b. to the heirs of ESTRELLA VELERO, the sum of P50,000.00 as indemnity for
her death, the sum of P237,323.75 for funeral expenses, her unearned "Admittedly, accused had jumped bail and remained at-large. It is worth
income for three years at P45,000.00 per annum, and the further sum of mention[ing] that Section 8, Rule 124 of the Rules of Court authorizes the
P1,000,000.00 as moral damages and P200,000.00 as attorney's fees[;] dismissal of appeal when appellant jumps bail. Counsel for accused, also
admittedly hired and provided by [petitioner], filed a notice of appeal which The Court's Ruling
was denied by the trial court. We affirmed the denial of the notice of appeal
filed in behalf of accused. The Petition has no merit.

"Simultaneously, on August 6, 1994, [petitioner] filed its notice of appeal Main Issue:
from the judgment of the trial court. On April 29, 1997, the trial court gave
due course to [petitioner's] notice of appeal. On December 8, 1998, Propriety of Appeal by the Employer
[petitioner] filed its brief. On December 9, 1998, the Office of the Solicitor
General received [a] copy of [petitioner's] brief. On January 8, 1999, the OSG Pointing out that it had seasonably filed a notice of appeal from the RTC
moved to be excused from filing [respondents'] brief on the ground that the Decision, petitioner contends that the judgment of conviction against the
OSG's authority to represent People is confined to criminal cases on appeal. accused-employee has not attained finality. The former insists that its appeal
The motion was however denied per Our resolution of May 31, 1999. On stayed the finality, notwithstanding the fact that the latter had jumped bail.
March 2, 1999, [respondent]/private prosecutor filed the instant motion to In effect, petitioner argues that its appeal takes the place of that of the
dismiss."[6] (Citations omitted) accused-employee.

Ruling of the Court of Appeals We are not persuaded.

The CA ruled that the institution of a criminal case implied the institution Appeals in Criminal Cases
also of the civil action arising from the offense. Thus, once determined in the
criminal case against the accused-employee, the employer's subsidiary civil Section 1 of Rule 122 of the 2000 Revised Rules of Criminal Procedure states
liability as set forth in Article 103 of the Revised Penal Code becomes thus:
conclusive and enforceable.
"Any party may appeal from a judgment or final order, unless the accused
The appellate court further held that to allow an employer to dispute will be placed in double jeopardy."
independently the civil liability fixed in the criminal case against the accused-
employee would be to amend, nullify or defeat a final judgment. Since the Clearly, both the accused and the prosecution may appeal a criminal case,
notice of appeal filed by the accused had already been dismissed by the CA, but the government may do so only if the accused would not thereby be
then the judgment of conviction and the award of civil liability became final placed in double jeopardy.[9] Furthermore, the prosecution cannot appeal
and executory. Included in the civil liability of the accused was the on the ground that the accused should have been given a more severe
employer's subsidiary liability. penalty.[10] On the other hand, the offended parties may also appeal the
judgment with respect to their right to civil liability. If the accused has the
Hence, this Petition.[7] right to appeal the judgment of conviction, the offended parties should have
the same right to appeal as much of the judgment as is prejudicial to them.
The Issues [11]

Petitioner states the issues of this case as follows: Appeal by the Accused

"A. Whether or not an employer, who dutifully participated in the defense of Who Jumps Bail
its accused-employee, may appeal the judgment of conviction independently
of the accused. Well-established in our jurisdiction is the principle that the appellate court
may, upon motion or motu proprio, dismiss an appeal during its pendency if
"B. Whether or not the doctrines of Alvarez v. Court of Appeals (158 SCRA 57) the accused jumps bail. The second paragraph of Section 8 of Rule 124 of the
and Yusay v. Adil (164 SCRA 494) apply to the instant case."[8] 2000 Revised Rules of Criminal Procedure provides:

There is really only one issue. Item B above is merely an adjunct to Item A. "The Court of Appeals may also, upon motion of the appellee or motu
proprio, dismiss the appeal if the appellant escapes from prison or
confinement, jumps bail or flees to a foreign country during the pendency of Article 102 of the Revised Penal Code states the subsidiary civil liabilities of
the appeal."[12] innkeepers, as follows:

This rule is based on the rationale that appellants lose their standing in court "In default of the persons criminally liable, innkeepers, tavernkeepers, and
when they abscond. Unless they surrender or submit to the court's any other persons or corporations shall be civilly liable for crimes committed
jurisdiction, they are deemed to have waived their right to seek judicial relief. in their establishments, in all cases where a violation of municipal ordinances
[13] or some general or special police regulation shall have been committed by
them or their employees.
Moreover, this doctrine applies not only to the accused who jumps bail
during the appeal, but also to one who does so during the trial. Justice "Innkeepers are also subsidiary liable for restitution of goods taken by
Florenz D. Regalado succinctly explains the principle in this wise: robbery or theft within their houses from guests lodging therein, or for
payment of the value thereof, provided that such guests shall have notified in
"x x x. When, as in this case, the accused escaped after his arraignment and advance the innkeeper himself, or the person representing him, of the
during the trial, but the trial in absentia proceeded resulting in the deposit of such goods within the inn; and shall furthermore have followed
promulgation of a judgment against him and his counsel appealed, since he the directions which such innkeeper or his representative may have given
nonetheless remained at large his appeal must be dismissed by analogy with them with respect to the care and vigilance over such goods. No liability shall
the aforesaid provision of this Rule [Rule 124, 8 of the Rules on Criminal attach in case of robbery with violence against or intimidation of persons
Procedure]. x x x"[14] unless committed by the innkeeper's employees."

The accused cannot be accorded the right to appeal unless they voluntarily Moreover, the foregoing subsidiary liability applies to employers, according
submit to the jurisdiction of the court or are otherwise arrested within 15 to Article 103 which reads:
days from notice of the judgment against them.[15] While at large, they
cannot seek relief from the court, as they are deemed to have waived the "The subsidiary liability established in the next preceding article shall also
appeal.[16] apply to employers, teachers, persons, and corporations engaged in any kind
of industry for felonies committed by their servants, pupils, workmen,
Finality of a Decision apprentices, or employees in the discharge of their duties."
in a Criminal Case
Having laid all these basic rules and principles, we now address the main
As to when a judgment of conviction attains finality is explained in Section 7 issue raised by petitioner.
of Rule 120 of the 2000 Rules of Criminal Procedure, which we quote:
Civil Liability Deemed Instituted
"A judgment of conviction may, upon motion of the accused, be modified or in the Criminal Prosecution
set aside before it becomes final or before appeal is perfected. Except where
the death penalty is imposed, a judgment becomes final after the lapse of At the outset, we must explain that the 2000 Rules of Criminal Procedure has
the period for perfecting an appeal, or when the sentence has been partially clarified what civil actions are deemed instituted in a criminal prosecution.
or totally satisfied or served, or when the accused has waived in writing his
right to appeal, or has applied for probation." Section 1 of Rule 111 of the current Rules of Criminal Procedure provides:

In the case before us, the accused-employee has escaped and refused to "When a criminal action is instituted, the civil action for the recovery of civil
surrender to the proper authorities; thus, he is deemed to have abandoned liability arising from the offense charged shall be deemed instituted with the
his appeal. Consequently, the judgment against him has become final and criminal action unless the offended party waives the civil action, reserves the
executory.[17] right to institute it separately or institutes the civil action prior to the criminal
action.
Liability of an Employer "x x x x x x x x x"
in a Finding of Guilt Only the civil liability of the accused arising from the crime charged is
deemed impliedly instituted in a criminal action; that is, unless the offended
party waives the civil action, reserves the right to institute it separately, or with the subsidiary liability of employers. Thereafter, it noted that none can
institutes it prior to the criminal action.[18] Hence, the subsidiary civil liability be applied to it, because "in all th[o]se cases, the accused's employer did not
of the employer under Article 103 of the Revised Penal Code may be interpose an appeal."[27] Indeed, petitioner cannot cite any single case in
enforced by execution on the basis of the judgment of conviction meted out which the employer appealed, precisely because an appeal in such
to the employee.[19] circumstances is not possible.

It is clear that the 2000 Rules deleted the requirement of reserving The cases dealing with the subsidiary liability of employers uniformly declare
independent civil actions and allowed these to proceed separately from that, strictly speaking, they are not parties to the criminal cases instituted
criminal actions. Thus, the civil actions referred to in Articles 32,[20] 33,[21] against their employees.[28] Although in substance and in effect, they have
34[22] and 2176[23] of the Civil Code shall remain "separate, distinct and an interest therein, this fact should be viewed in the light of their subsidiary
independent" of any criminal prosecution based on the same act. Here are liability. While they may assist their employees to the extent of supplying the
some direct consequences of such revision and omission: latter's lawyers, as in the present case, the former cannot act
independently on their own behalf, but can only defend the accused.
1. The right to bring the foregoing actions based on the Civil Code need not
be reserved in the criminal prosecution, since they are not deemed included Waiver of Constitutional Safeguard
therein. Against Double Jeopardy

2. The institution or the waiver of the right to file a separate civil action Petitioner's appeal obviously aims to have the accused-employee absolved of
arising from the crime charged does not extinguish the right to bring such his criminal responsibility and the judgment reviewed as a whole. These
action. intentions are apparent from its Appellant's Brief[29] filed with the CA and
from its Petition[30] before us, both of which claim that the trial court's
3. The only limitation is that the offended party cannot recover more than finding of guilt "is not supported by competent evidence."[31]
once for the same act or omission.[24]
An appeal from the sentence of the trial court implies a waiver of the
What is deemed instituted in every criminal prosecution is the civil liability constitutional safeguard against double jeopardy and throws the whole case
arising from the crime or delict per se (civil liability ex delicto), but not those open to a review by the appellate court. The latter is then called upon to
liabilities arising from quasi-delicts, contracts or quasi-contracts. In fact, even render judgment as law and justice dictate, whether favorable or unfavorable
if a civil action is filed separately, the ex delicto civil liability in the criminal to the appellant.[32] This is the risk involved when the accused decides to
prosecution remains, and the offended party may -- subject to the control of appeal a sentence of conviction.[33] Indeed, appellate courts have the power
the prosecutor -- still intervene in the criminal action, in order to protect the to reverse, affirm or modify the judgment of the lower court and to increase
remaining civil interest therein.[25] or reduce the penalty it imposed.[34]

This discussion is completely in accord with the Revised Penal Code, which If the present appeal is given course, the whole case against the accused-
states that "[e]very person criminally liable for a felony is also civilly employee becomes open to review. It thus follows that a penalty higher than
liable."[26] that which has already been imposed by the trial court may be meted out to
him. Petitioner's appeal would thus violate his right against double jeopardy,
Petitioner argues that, as an employer, it is considered a party to the criminal since the judgment against him could become subject to modification
case and is conclusively bound by the outcome thereof. Consequently, without his consent.
petitioner must be accorded the right to pursue the case to its logical
conclusion -- including the appeal. We are not in a position to second-guess the reason why the accused
effectively waived his right to appeal by jumping bail. It is clear, though, that
The argument has no merit. Undisputedly, petitioner is not a direct party to petitioner may not appeal without violating his right against double jeopardy.
the criminal case, which was filed solely against Napoleon M. Roman, its
employee. Effect of Absconding
on the Appeal Process
In its Memorandum, petitioner cited a comprehensive list of cases dealing
Moreover, within the meaning of the principles governing the prevailing
criminal procedure, the accused impliedly withdrew his appeal by jumping Under Article 103 of the Revised Penal Code, employers are subsidiarily
bail and thereby made the judgment of the court below final.[35] Having liable for the adjudicated civil liabilities of their employees in the event of the
been a fugitive from justice for a long period of time, he is deemed to have latter's insolvency.[44] The provisions of the Revised Penal Code on
waived his right to appeal. Thus, his conviction is now final and executory. subsidiary liability -- Articles 102 and 103 -- are deemed written into the
The Court in People v. Ang Gioc[36] ruled: judgments in the cases to which they are applicable.[45] Thus, in the
dispositive portion of its decision, the trial court need not expressly
"There are certain fundamental rights which cannot be waived even by the pronounce the subsidiary liability of the employer.
accused himself, but the right of appeal is not one of them. This right is
granted solely for the benefit of the accused. He may avail of it or not, as he In the absence of any collusion between the accused-employee and the
pleases. He may waive it either expressly or by implication. When the offended party, the judgment of conviction should bind the person who is
accused flees after the case has been submitted to the court for decision, he subsidiarily liable.[46] In effect and implication, the stigma of a criminal
will be deemed to have waived his right to appeal from the judgment conviction surpasses mere civil liability.[47]
rendered against him. x x x."[37]
To allow employers to dispute the civil liability fixed in a criminal case would
By fleeing, the herein accused exhibited contempt of the authority of the enable them to amend, nullify or defeat a final judgment rendered by a
court and placed himself in a position to speculate on his chances for a competent court.[48] By the same token, to allow them to appeal the final
reversal. In the process, he kept himself out of the reach of justice, but criminal conviction of their employees without the latter's consent would
hoped to render the judgment nugatory at his option.[38] Such conduct is also result in improperly amending, nullifying or defeating the judgment.
intolerable and does not invite leniency on the part of the appellate court.
[39] The decision convicting an employee in a criminal case is binding and
conclusive upon the employer not only with regard to the former's civil
Consequently, the judgment against an appellant who escapes and who liability, but also with regard to its amount. The liability of an employer
refuses to surrender to the proper authorities becomes final and executory. cannot be separated from that of the employee.[49]
[40]
Before the employers' subsidiary liability is exacted, however, there must be
Thus far, we have clarified that petitioner has no right to appeal the criminal adequate evidence establishing that (1) they are indeed the employers of the
case against the accused-employee; that by jumping bail, he has waived his convicted employees; (2) that the former are engaged in some kind of
right to appeal; and that the judgment in the criminal case against him is industry; (3) that the crime was committed by the employees in the discharge
now final. of their duties; and (4) that the execution against the latter has not been
satisfied due to insolvency.[50]
Subsidiary Liability
Upon Finality of Judgment The resolution of these issues need not be done in a separate civil action. But
the determination must be based on the evidence that the offended party
As a matter of law, the subsidiary liability of petitioner now accrues. and the employer may fully and freely present. Such determination may be
Petitioner argues that the rulings of this Court in Miranda v. Malate Garage & done in the same criminal action in which the employee's liability, criminal
Taxicab, Inc.,[41] Alvarez v. CA[42] and Yusay v. Adil[43] do not apply to the and civil, has been pronounced;[51] and in a hearing set for that precise
present case, because it has followed the Court's directive to the employers purpose, with due notice to the employer, as part of the proceedings for the
in these cases to take part in the criminal cases against their employees. By execution of the judgment.
participating in the defense of its employee, herein petitioner tries to shield
itself from the undisputed rulings laid down in these leading cases. Just because the present petitioner participated in the defense of its accused-
employee does not mean that its liability has transformed its nature; its
Such posturing is untenable. In dissecting these cases on subsidiary liability, liability remains subsidiary. Neither will its participation erase its subsidiary
petitioner lost track of the most basic tenet they have laid down -- that an liability. The fact remains that since the accused-employee's conviction has
employer's liability in a finding of guilt against its accused-employee is attained finality, then the subsidiary liability of the employer ipso facto
subsidiary. attaches.
prescribed period, then the former has the correlative right to enjoy the
According to the argument of petitioner, fairness dictates that while the finality of the resolution of the case.[59]
finality of conviction could be the proper sanction to be imposed upon the
accused for jumping bail, the same sanction should not affect it. In effect, In fact, petitioner admits that by helping the accused-employee, it
petitioner-employer splits this case into two: first, for itself; and second, for participated in the proceedings before the RTC; thus, it cannot be said that
its accused-employee. the employer was deprived of due process. It might have lost its right to
appeal, but it was not denied its day in court.[60] In fact, it can be said that
The untenability of this argument is clearly evident. There is only one by jumping bail, the accused-employee, not the court, deprived petitioner of
criminal case against the accused-employee. A finding of guilt has both the right to appeal.
criminal and civil aspects. It is the height of absurdity for this single case to
be final as to the accused who jumped bail, but not as to an entity whose All told, what is left to be done is to execute the RTC Decision against the
liability is dependent upon the conviction of the former. accused. It should be clear that only after proof of his insolvency may the
subsidiary liability of petitioner be enforced. It has been sufficiently proven
The subsidiary liability of petitioner is incidental to and dependent on the that there exists an employer-employee relationship; that the employer is
pecuniary civil liability of the accused-employee. Since the civil liability of the engaged in some kind of industry; and that the employee has been adjudged
latter has become final and enforceable by reason of his flight, then the guilty of the wrongful act and found to have committed the offense in the
former's subsidiary civil liability has also become immediately enforceable. discharge of his duties. The proof is clear from the admissions of petitioner
Respondent is correct in arguing that the concept of subsidiary liability is that "[o]n 26 August 1990, while on its regular trip from Laoag to Manila, a
highly contingent on the imposition of the primary civil liability. passenger bus owned by petitioner, being then operated by petitioner's
driver, Napoleon Roman, figured in an accident in San Juan, La Union x x
No Deprivation x."[61] Neither does petitioner dispute that there was already a finding of
of Due Process guilt against the accused while he was in the discharge of his duties.

As to the argument that petitioner was deprived of due process, we reiterate WHEREFORE, the Petition is hereby DENIED, and the assailed Resolutions
that what is sought to be enforced is the subsidiary civil liability incident to AFFIRMED. Costs against petitioner.
and dependent upon the employee's criminal negligence. In other words, the
employer becomes ipso facto subsidiarily liable upon the conviction of the SO ORDERED.
employee and upon proof of the latter's insolvency, in the same way that
acquittal wipes out not only his primary civil liability, but also his employer's
subsidiary liability for his criminal negligence.[52]

It should be stressed that the right to appeal is neither a natural right nor a
part of due process.[53] It is merely a procedural remedy of statutory origin,
a remedy that may be exercised only in the manner prescribed by the
provisions of law authorizing such exercise.[54] Hence, the legal
requirements must be strictly complied with.[55]

It would be incorrect to consider the requirements of the rules on appeal as


merely harmless and trivial technicalities that can be discarded.[56] Indeed,
deviations from the rules cannot be tolerated.[57] In these times when court
dockets are clogged with numerous litigations, such rules have to be
followed by parties with greater fidelity, so as to facilitate the orderly
disposition of those cases.[58]

After a judgment has become final, vested rights are acquired by the winning
party. If the proper losing party has the right to file an appeal within the
dated September 28, 2000 directing the Office of the City Prosecutor to
conduct reinvestigation of the case with a caveat that the reinvestigation will
6. People vs Odilao be terminated within ten days from receipt of the order and thereafter,
DECISION submit appropriate recommendation to it. In the meantime the Executive
Judge countermanded the service of the warrant of arrest.
Before us is a petition for review on certiorari filed by the People of the
Philippines assailing the Decision[1] of the Court of Appeals dated September Based on his reinvestigation report[4] dated October 17, 2000 which found
27, 2002 in CA-G.R. SP No. 71198 which directed Judge Caminade of the no probable cause, Asst. City Prosecutor Capacio filed with the trial court a
Regional Trial Court (RTC) of Cebu City (Branch 6), to defer the proceedings in Motion to Dismiss[5] dated October 20, 2000. On October 27, 2000, private
Criminal Case No. CBU-55283 until the petition for review of the complainant Carmen G. Bugash filed an urgent motion to disregard the
reinvestigation report of the Office of the City Prosecutor is resolved by the reinvestigation report.[6] On November 3, 2000, private complainant filed
Department of Justice (DOJ). with the DOJ a petition for review[7] seeking the reversal of the
Reinvestigation Report. In an Order dated October 30, 2000, the trial court
The antecedent facts are as follows. deferred the arraignment until the petition for review would have been
finally resolved by the Department of Justice.[8] On February 20, 2001, the
Herein respondent David S. Odilao, Jr. together with Enrique Samonte and trial court issued another order holding in abeyance the resolution of the
Mario Yares, was charged with Estafa in an Information[2] filed by the Asst. motion to dismiss until the DOJ shall have resolved the petition for review.[9]
City Prosecutor Feliciano with the RTC of Cebu City, to wit:
More than one year later, private complainant filed with the trial court on March 14,
The undersigned Prosecutor I of Cebu City, accuses David Odilao, Jr., Enrique 2002, a Motion to Suspend Resolution of the Motion to Dismiss.[10] Thereafter, the
Samonte and Mario Yares of the crime of ESTAFA, committed as follows: trial court, acting on the prosecution's motion to dismiss filed on October 20, 2000
and private complainant's motion to disregard the reinvestigation report, issued an
Order[11] dated May 21, 2002, (1) denying the motion to dismiss; and (2) declaring
That sometime during the latter part of 1997, and for sometime prior or the motion to disregard the reinvestigation report to be moot and academic,
subsequent thereto, in the City of Cebu, Philippines, and within the rationalizing that "[t]he Revised Rules of Criminal Procedure which was approved on
jurisdiction of this Honorable Court, the said accused, conniving, December 1, 2000 vests now authority to the trial court to rule on the presence or
confederating and mutually helping with one another, having received in absence of probable cause. If the Court finds probable cause it will issue forthwith a
trust from Trans Eagle Corporation a luxury car known as "Jeep Cherokee warrant of arrest otherwise it will dismiss the case." Respondent filed a motion for
Sport 4wd" valued at P1,199,520.00 with the agreement that they would sign reconsideration[12] which was denied in the Order[13] dated June 13, 2002 of the RTC
the document of sale if they are interested to buy the same and with the which likewise directed the implementation of the existing warrant of arrest against
obligation to return the said car to Trans Eagle Corporation if they are not him.
interested, the said accused, once in possession of the said luxury car, far
from complying with their obligation, with deliberate intent, with intent to Respondent went up to the Court of Appeals by filing a petition for certiorari
gain, with unfaithfulness and grave abuse of confidence, did then and there and prohibition,[14] docketed as CA-G.R. SP No. 91198, against the People of
misappropriate, misapply and convert into their own personal use and the Philippines, Presiding Judge Caminade and private complainant Carmen
benefit the same or the amount of P1,199,520.00 which is the equivalent Bugash. On September 27, 2002, the Court of Appeals rendered a
value thereof, and inspite of repeated demands made upon them to let them Decision[15] granting the petition and directing the trial court to defer the
comply with their obligation to return the luxury car, they have failed and proceedings until the petition for review before the DOJ has been resolved.
refused and instead denied to have received the luxury car known as "Jeep
Cherokee Sport 4WD" and up to the present time still fail and refuse to do so, Hence, the People of the Philippines filed the instant petition for review on
to the damage and prejudice of Trans Eagle Corporation in the amount certiorari seeking the reversal of the Court of Appeal's decision. Petitioner,
aforestated. represented by the Office of the Solicitor General (OSG), claims:

CONTRARY TO LAW. I
THE COURT OF APPEALS COMMITTED REVERSIBLE ERROR IN NOT FINDING
A warrant of arrest against respondent was then issued by the Executive THAT THE TRIAL COURT WAS JUSTIFIED IN RESOLVING THE MOTION TO
Judge. Upon motion of respondent, the Executive Judge issued an Order[3] DISMISS FILED BY THE OFFICE OF THE CITY PROSECUTOR DESPITE THE
PENDENCY OF A PETITION FOR REVIEW BEFORE THE DEPARTMENT OF sixty days from the filing of the petition for review of the resolution of the
JUSTICE. prosecutor.

II It should be emphasized that the Resolution of June 12, 2003 was issued by
THE COURT OF APPEALS COMMITTED REVERSIBLE ERROR IN NOT FINDING the Court of Appeals despite the pendency of the petition for review on
THAT THE TRIAL COURT WAS JUSTIFIED IN DIRECTING THE IMPLEMENTATION certiorari before us. We were only apprised of such development when
OF THE WARRANT OF ARREST AFTER FINDING PROBABLE CAUSE. respondent furnished us with a copy of his Very Urgent Motion for
Reconsideration[18] filed with the Court of Appeals, where he sought
III reconsideration of its Resolution dated June 12, 2003. The records do not
THE COURT OF APPEALS COMMITTED REVERSIBLE ERROR IN GRANTING THE show whether the Court of Appeals had resolved said motion.
INJUNCTION SOUGHT BY THE RESPONDENT WHICH ENJOINED THE TRIAL
COURT FROM IMPLEMENTING THE WARRANT OF ARREST AND FROM Respondent likewise filed with us an Urgent Manifestation[19] dated June 16,
FURTHER CONDUCTING PROCEEDINGS IN THE CASE UNTIL THE PETITION 2003, informing us that the DOJ, acting on private complainant Carmen
FOR REVIEW OF THE REINVESTIGATION REPORT OF THE CITY PROSECUTOR IS Bugash's petition for review, has issued a Resolution[20] dated May 27, 2003,
RESOLVED BY THE DEPARTMENT OF JUSTICE. denying the petition for review; in effect, sustaining the filing of the motion
to dismiss by the Assistant City Prosecutor.
On December 11, 2002, we issued a Resolution[16] requiring respondent to
file his comment on the petition. In compliance therewith respondent filed Meanwhile, on October 6, 2003, we received petitioner's Consolidated Reply
his Comment/Opposition to Petitioner's Application for Temporary and Comment,[21] praying that the Resolution of the Court of Appeals dated
Restraining Order and/or Writ of Preliminary Injunction,[17] which we duly June 12, 2003, finding the trial court's Orders to be valid, be affirmed and
noted. Respondent alleges: that a temporary restraining order and/or preliminary injunction be issued to
restrain respondent and any person acting in his behalf from implementing
a. The Petition for Review on Certiorari filed by the Office of the Solicitor the Court of Appeals' decision dated September 27, 2002 which directed the
General, and wherein the Application for Temporary Restraining Order trial court to defer the proceedings before it until the DOJ shall have resolved
and/or Writ of Preliminary Injunction is incorporated, is fatally defective, the petition for review filed before the DOJ.
hence both Petition and Application should be dismissed and denied,
respectively; and The main issue brought before us is whether or not the trial court was
correct in denying the prosecution's motion to dismiss the estafa case and
b. Petitioner-applicant failed to adequately and sufficiently show that it is ordering the implementation of the warrant of arrest against herein
entitled to the issuance of the temporary restraining order and/or writ of respondent.
preliminary injunction, while on the other hand, it is undeniable that the
issuance of the temporary restraining order and/or writ of preliminary The petition is impressed with merit.
injunction would undeniably cause irreparable damage to the person and
rights of herein respondent. First, let us dispose of respondent's argument that the petition should be
dismissed for failure to comply with the requirements of a proper
Unknown to us, however, while herein petition was pending our resolution, verification and proof of service; and that the petition was prematurely filed
private complainant Bugash filed a motion for reconsideration before the because it was filed even before we issued a resolution granting the motion
Court of Appeals, seeking reversal of its Decision dated September 27, 2002. for extension of time to file the petition.
The Court of Appeals granted private complainant's motion for
reconsideration per its Resolution dated June 12, 2003, thereby reversing its With regard to the verification, we are convinced that the
own Decision dated September 27, 2002. In said Resolution, the Court of verification/certification appearing in the petition for review, although
Appeals ruled that the trial court's Orders dated May 21, 2002 and June 13, referring to a "motion for extension to file" is a valid verification/certification
2002, denying the prosecution's motion to dismiss together with the of the petition for review. The phrase "motion for extension to file" was
implementation of the warrant of arrest against herein respondent is valid, merely a typographical error committed through sheer inadvertence.
pursuant to Section 11, Rule 116 of the Revised Rules of Criminal Procedure
which provides that the suspension of arraignment shall not be more than As to the requirement of attaching an affidavit of service to the petition, a
perusal of the rollo of this case will readily show that such an affidavit of proper to conduct a reinvestigation of the case, at such stage, the permission
service had been attached to the petition.[22] of the Court must be secured. After such reinvestigation the finding and
recommendations of the fiscal should be submitted to the Court for
Moreover, the OSG may not be faulted in filing the petition for review before appropriate action. While it is true that the fiscal has the quasi judicial
its receipt of our Resolution dated November 25, 2002 granting the motion discretion to determine whether or not a criminal case should be filed in
for extension of time. Had petitioner waited to receive a resolution granting court or not, once the case had already been brought to Court whatever
its motion for extension before filing the petition, the extended period for disposition the fiscal may feel should be proper in the case thereafter should
filing would have, by then, expired. Thus, there was nothing irregular with be addressed for the consideration of the Court. The only qualification is that
the procedure taken by petitioner, rather, such was the most prudent thing the action of the Court must not impair the substantial rights of the accused
for it to have done. or the right of the People to due process of law.

We now come to the crux of the petition. Whether the accused had been arraigned or not and whether it was due to a
reinvestigation by the fiscal or a review by the Secretary of Justice whereby a
Section 6 (a), Rule 112 of the Revised Rules of Criminal Procedure, which took motion to dismiss was submitted to the Court, the Court in the exercise of its
effect on December 1, 2000, provides thus: discretion may grant the motion or deny it and require that the trial on the
merits proceed for the proper determination of the case.
SEC. 6. When warrant of arrest may issue. - (a) By the Regional Trial Court. -
Within ten (10) days from the filing of the complaint or information, the However, one may ask, if the trial court refuses to grant the motion to
judge shall personally evaluate the resolution of the prosecutor and its dismiss filed by the fiscal upon the directive of the Secretary of Justice will
supporting evidence. He may immediately dismiss the case if the evidence on there not be a vacuum in the prosecution? . . .
record clearly fails to establish probable cause. If he finds probable cause, he
shall issue a warrant of arrest, or a commitment order if the accused has The answer is simple. The role of the fiscal or prosecutor as We all know is to
already been arrested pursuant to a warrant issued by the judge who see that justice is done and not necessarily to secure the conviction of the
conducted the preliminary investigation or when the complaint or person accused before the Courts. Thus, in spite of his opinion to the
information was filed pursuant to section 7 of this Rule. In case of doubt on contrary, it is the duty of the fiscal to proceed with the presentation of
the existence of probable cause, the judge may order the prosecutor to evidence of the prosecution to the Court to enable the Court to arrive at its
present additional evidence within five (5) days from notice and the issue own independent judgment as to whether the accused should be convicted
must be resolved by the court within thirty (30) days from the filing of the or acquitted. . . .
complaint or information.
The rule therefore in this jurisdiction is that once a complaint or information
... is filed in Court any disposition of the case as its dismissal or the conviction
or acquittal of the accused rests in the sound discretion of the Court.
Pursuant to the aforequoted rule, the judge of the trial court is mandated to Although the fiscal retains the direction and control of the prosecution of
personally evaluate the resolution of the prosecutor and its supporting criminal cases even while the case is already in Court he cannot impose his
evidence to determine whether probable cause exists and pursuant to its opinion on the trial court. The Court is the best and sole judge on what to do
own findings, either dismiss the case immediately if no probable cause with the case before it. The determination of the case is within its exclusive
exists, or to issue the warrant of arrest in the absence of probable cause. jurisdiction and competence. A motion to dismiss the case filed by the fiscal
should be addressed to the Court who has the option to grant or deny the
Even before the effectivity of the aforequoted rule, the Court enunciated the same. It does not matter if this is done before or after the arraignment of the
following ruling in Crespo vs. Mogul,[23] to wit: accused or that the motion was filed after a reinvestigation or upon
instructions of the Secretary of Justice who reviewed the records of the
The preliminary investigation conducted by the fiscal for the purpose of investigation.
determining whether a prima facie case exists warranting the prosecution of
the accused is terminated upon the filing of the information in the proper Thus, in Perez vs. Hagonoy Rural Bank, Inc.,[24] the Court held that the trial
court. In turn, as above stated, the filing of said information sets in motion court judge's "reliance on the prosecutor's averment that the Secretary of
the criminal action against the accused in Court. Should the fiscal find it Justice had recommended the dismissal of the case against the petitioner
was, to say the least, an abdication of the trial court's duty and jurisdiction to September 27, 2002 in its Resolution dated June 12, 2003, and sustained the
determine a prima facie case, in blatant violation of this Court's trial court's Orders dated May 21, 2002 and June 13, 2002 denying the
pronouncement in Crespo vs. Mogul . . ." This was reiterated in Solar Team prosecution's motion to dismiss.
Entertainment, Inc. vs. Hon. Rolando How,[25] where the Court held thus:
However, it cannot be avoided that we remind the Court of Appeals of the
It bears stressing that the court is however not bound to adopt the provisions of Section 15, Rule VI of the 2002 Internal Rules of the Court of
resolution of the Secretary of Justice since the court is mandated to Appeals (effective August 22, 2002), which explicitly provides thus:
independently evaluate or assess the merits of the case, and may either
agree or disagree with the recommendation of the Secretary of Justice. SEC. 15. Effect of Filing an Appeal in the Supreme Court. - No motion for
Reliance alone on the resolution of the Secretary of Justice would be an reconsideration or rehearing shall be acted upon if the movant has
abdication of the trial court's duty and jurisdiction to determine prima facie previously filed in the Supreme Court a petition for review on certiorari or a
case. motion for extension of time to file such petition. If such petition or motion
is subsequently filed, the motion for reconsideration pending in this Court
Evidently, when the trial court issued the Orders dated May 21, 2002 and shall be deemed abandoned.
June 13, 2002, respectively, the trial court judge was merely performing his
mandated duty to personally determine the existence of probable cause and We are, therefore, quite perplexed why the Court of Appeals did not act in
thus arrive at a resolution of the motion to dismiss. Having found probable accord with the aforequoted Rule and instead resolved the motion for
cause, the trial court acted well within its authority in denying said motion to reconsideration of its Decision dated September 27, 2002, filed by private
dismiss and, since in the present case, a warrant of arrest had already been complainant, despite service on it of a copy of the Motion For Extension To
issued and only the service thereof had been countermanded, the trial court File Petition For Review dated October 15, 2002, filed by the OSG.
judge was also correct in ordering the implementation of the previously
issued warrant of arrest. At the very least, prudence dictates that the Court of Appeals should have
first required private complainant to secure the conformity of the OSG; or
Verily, the proceedings in the criminal case pending in the trial court had required the latter to comment on the motion for reconsideration of the
been held in abeyance long enough. Under Section 11, Rule 116 of the private complainant. The positions taken by the Office of the Solicitor
Revised Rules of Criminal Procedure, the suspension of arraignment of an General and private complainant Bugash are practically identical.
accused in cases where a petition for review of the resolution of the
prosecutor is pending at either the Department of Justice or the Office of the In any event, the Court of Appeals ought not to have acted on the said
President "shall not exceed sixty days counted from the filing of the petition motion for reconsideration of private complainant Bugash. It should have
with the reviewing office." Although in this case, at the time that the trial considered said motion which, in the first place, was without the conformity
court deferred the arraignment in its Order dated October 30, 2000, the of the OSG, the representative of petitioner People of the Philippines, as
Revised Rules of Criminal Procedure had not yet taken effect and there was having been abandoned by the filing of herein petition by the OSG, pursuant
as yet no prescribed period of time for the suspension of arraignment, we to the aforequoted Section 15, Rule VI of the 2002 Internal Rules of the Court
believe that the period of one and a half years from October 30, 2000 to June of Appeals.
13, 2002, when the trial court ordered the implementation of the warrant of
arrest, was more than ample time to give private complainant the Nevertheless, in the interest of speedy and orderly administration of justice,
opportunity to obtain a resolution of her petition for review from the DOJ. we deem it expedient to uphold in the present petition, the Orders dated
Indeed, with more than three years having elapsed, it is now high time for May 21, 2002 and June 13, 2002, of the RTC denying the motion to dismiss of
the continuation of the trial on the merits in the criminal case below as the the assistant city prosecutor and directing the implementation of the warrant
sixty-day period counted from the filing of the petition for review with the of arrest against respondent, for being in accordance with our rulings in
DOJ, provided for in Section 11, Rule 116 of the Revised Rules of Criminal Crespo vs. Mogul, Perez vs. Hagonoy Rural Bank, Inc. and Solar Team
Procedure now applicable to the case at bar, had long lapsed. Entertainment, Inc. vs. Hon. Rolando How, as we have discussed in the early
part of our decision.
Although it is clear that the Court of Appeals earlier erred in granting the
petition for certiorari and prohibition filed before it by herein respondent, WHEREFORE, the petition is GRANTED. The Court of Appeals' Decision dated
the Court of Appeals remedied such error by reversing its Decision dated September 27, 2002 is REVERSED and SET ASIDE. Its Resolution dated June 12, 2003
correcting its own error is AFFIRMED with ADMONITION that the Court of Appeals
should act with more circumspection and comply with its 2002 Internal Rules.

The Orders dated May 21, 2002 and June 23, 2002 of the Regional Trial Court
of Cebu City (Branch 6) are AFFIRMED and the said Regional Trial Court is
directed to proceed, with immediate dispatch, with the arraignment of
herein respondent and trial on the merits of Criminal Case No. CBU-55283.

SO ORDERED.
7. Benedicto vs CA other and with the late President Ferdinand E. Marcos, all residents of
Manila, Philippines, and within the jurisdiction of this Honorable Court, did
DECISION then and there wilfully, unlawfully and feloniously fail to submit reports in
the prescribed form and/or register with the Foreign Exchange Department
QUISUMBING, J.: of the Central Bank within 90 days from October 21, 1983 as required of
them being residents habitually/customarily earning, acquiring or receiving
Assailed in this petition is the consolidated decision rendered on May 23, foreign exchange from whatever source or from invisibles locally or from
1996, by the Court of Appeals in CA-G.R. SP No. 35928 and CA-G.R. SP No. abroad, despite the fact they actually earned interests regularly every six (6 )
35719. CA-G.R. SP No. 35928 had affirmed the order dated September 6, months for the first two years and then quarterly thereafter for their
1994, of the Regional Trial Court, Manila, Branch 26, insofar as it denied investment of $50-million, later reduced to $25-million in December 1985, in
petitioners' respective Motions to Quash the Informations in twenty-five (25) Philippine-issued dollar denominated treasury notes with floating rates and
criminal cases for violation of Central Bank Circular No. 960. Therein in bearer form, in the name of Bank Hofmann, AG, Zurich, Switzerland, for
included were informations involving: (a) consolidated Criminal Cases Nos. the benefit of Avertina Foundation, their front organization established for
91-101879 to 91-101883 filed against Mrs. Imelda R. Marcos, Roberto S. economic advancement purposes with secret foreign exchange account
Benedicto, and Hector T. Rivera; (b) consolidated Criminal Cases Nos. 91- Category (Rubric) C.A.R. No. 211 925-02 in Swiss Credit Bank (also known as
101884 to 91-101892 filed against Mrs. Marcos and Benedicto; and (c) SKA) in Zurich, Switzerland, which earned, acquired or received for the
Criminal Cases Nos. 92-101959 to 92-101969 also against Mrs. Marcos and accused Imelda Romualdez Marcos and her late husband an interest of
Benedicto. Note, however, that the Court of Appeals already dismissed $2,267,892 as of December 16, 1985 which was remitted to Bank Hofmann,
Criminal Case No. 91-101884. AG, through Citibank, New York, United States of America, for the credit of
said Avertina account on December 19, 1985, aside from the redemption of
The factual antecedents of the instant petition are as follows: $25 million (one-half of the original $50-M) as of December 16, 1985 and
outwardly remitted from the Philippines in the amounts of $7,495,297.49
On December 27, 1991, Mrs. Imelda Marcos and Messrs. Benedicto and and $17,489,062.50 on December 18, 1985 for further investment outside
Rivera were indicted for violation of Section 10 of Circular No. 960[1] in the Philippines without first complying with the Central Bank
relation to Section 34[2] of the Central Bank Act (Republic Act No. 265, as reporting/registering requirements.
amended) in five Informations filed with the Regional Trial Court of Manila. CONTRARY TO LAW.[4]
Docketed as Criminal Cases Nos. 91-101879 to 91-101883, the charge sheets
alleged that the trio failed to submit reports of their foreign exchange The other charge sheets were similarly worded except the days of the
earnings from abroad and/or failed to register with the Foreign Exchange commission of the offenses, the name(s) of the alleged dummy or dummies,
Department of the Central Bank within the period mandated by Circular No. the amounts in the foreign exchange accounts maintained, and the names of
960. Said Circular prohibited natural and juridical persons from maintaining the foreign banks where such accounts were held by the accused.
foreign exchange accounts abroad without prior authorization from the
Central Bank.[3] It also required all residents of the Philippines who On January 3, 1992, eleven more Informations accusing Mrs. Marcos and
habitually earned or received foreign currencies from invisibles, either locally Benedicto of the same offense, again in relation to different accounts, were
or abroad, to report such earnings or receipts to the Central Bank. Violations filed with the same court, docketed as Criminal Cases Nos. 92-101959 to 92-
of the Circular were punishable as a criminal offense under Section 34 of the 101969. The Informations were similarly worded as the earlier indictments,
Central Bank Act. save for the details as to the dates of the violations of Circular No. 960, the
identities of the dummies used, the balances and sources of the earnings,
That same day, nine additional Informations charging Mrs. Marcos and and the names of the foreign banks where these accounts were maintained.
Benedicto with the same offense, but involving different accounts, were filed
with the Manila RTC, which docketed these as Criminal Cases Nos. 91-101884 All of the aforementioned criminal cases were consolidated before Branch 26
to 91-101892. The accusatory portion of the charge sheet in Criminal Case of the said trial court.
No. 91-101888 reads:
On the same day that Criminal Cases Nos. 92-101959 to 92-101969 were
That from September 1, 1983 up to 1987, both dates inclusive, and for filed, the Central Bank issued Circular No. 1318[5] which revised the rules
sometime thereafter, both accused, conspiring and confederating with each governing non-trade foreign exchange transactions. It took effect on January
20, 1992. respectively filed by Mrs. Marcos and petitioners with the Court of Appeals.
Finding that both cases involved violations of Central Bank Circular No. 960,
On August 24, 1992, the Central Bank, pursuant to the government's policy of the appellate court consolidated the two cases.
further liberalizing foreign exchange transactions, came out with Circular No.
1353,[6] which amended Circular No. 1318. Circular No. 1353 deleted the On May 23, 1996, the Court of Appeals disposed of the consolidated cases as
requirement of prior Central Bank approval for foreign exchange-funded follows:
expenditures obtained from the banking system.
WHEREFORE, finding no grave abuse of discretion on the part of respondent
Both of the aforementioned circulars, however, contained a saving clause, Judge in denying petitioners' respective Motions to Quash, except that with
excepting from their coverage pending criminal actions involving violations respect to Criminal Case No. 91-101884, the instant petitions are hereby
of Circular No. 960 and, in the case of Circular No. 1353, violations of both DISMISSED for lack of merit. The assailed September 6, 1994 Order, in so far
Circular No. 960 and Circular No. 1318. as it denied the Motion to Quash Criminal Case No. 91-101884 is hereby
nullified and set aside, and said case is hereby dismissed. Costs against
On September 19, 1993, the government allowed petitioners Benedicto and petitioners.
Rivera to return to the Philippines, on condition that they face the various
criminal charges instituted against them, including the dollar-salting cases. SO ORDERED.[7]
Petitioners posted bail in the latter cases.
Dissatisfied with the said decision of the court a quo, except with respect to
On February 28, 1994, petitioners Benedicto and Rivera were arraigned. Both the portion ordering the dismissal of Criminal Case No. 91-101884,
pleaded not guilty to the charges of violating Central Bank Circular No. 960. petitioners filed the instant petition, attributing the following errors to the
Mrs. Marcos had earlier entered a similar plea during her arraignment for appellate court:
the same offense on February 12, 1992.
THAT THE COURT ERRED IN NOT FINDING THAT THE INFORMATIONS/CASES
On August 11, 1994, petitioners moved to quash all the Informations filed FILED AGAINST PETITIONERS-APPELLANTS ARE QUASHABLE BASED ON THE
against them in Criminal Cases Nos. 91-101879 to 91-101883; 91-101884 to FOLLOWING GROUNDS:
91-101892, and 91-101959 to 91-101969. Their motion was grounded on lack
of jurisdiction, forum shopping, extinction of criminal liability with the repeal (A) LACK OF JURISDICTION/FORUM SHOPPING/NO VALID PRELIMINARY
of Circular No. 960, prescription, exemption from the Central Bank's INVESTIGATION
reporting requirement, and the grant of absolute immunity as a result of a
compromise agreement entered into with the government. (B) EXTINCTION OF CRIMINAL LIABILITY

On September 6, 1994, the trial court denied petitioners' motion. A similar 1) REPEAL OF CB CIRCULAR NO. 960 BY CB CIRCULAR NO. 1353;
motion filed on May 23, 1994 by Mrs. Marcos seeking to dismiss the dollar-
salting cases against her due to the repeal of Circular No. 960 had earlier 2) REPEAL OF R.A. 265 BY R.A. 7653[8]
been denied by the trial court in its order dated June 9, 1994. Petitioners
then filed a motion for reconsideration, but the trial court likewise denied (C) PRESCRIPTION
this motion on October 18, 1994.
(D) EXEMPTION FROM CB REPORTING REQUIREMENT
On November 21, 1994, petitioners moved for leave to file a second motion
for reconsideration. The trial court, in its order of November 23, 1994, (E) GRANT OF ABSOLUTE IMMUNITY.[9]
denied petitioners' motion and set the consolidated cases for trial on January
5, 1995. Simply stated, the issues for our resolution are:

Two separate petitions for certiorari and prohibition, with similar prayers for (1) Did the Court of Appeals err in denying the Motion to Quash for lack of
temporary restraining orders and/or writs of preliminary injunction, jurisdiction on the part of the trial court, forum shopping by the prosecution,
docketed as CA-G.R. SP No. 35719 and CA-G.R. SP No. 35928, were and absence of a valid preliminary investigation?
penalize the act of receiving the same interest earnings on Treasury Notes in
(2) Did the repeal of Central Bank Circular No. 960 and Republic Act No. 265 violation of the Anti-Graft Law's provisions on prohibited transactions.
by Circular No. 1353 and Republic Act No. 7653 respectively, extinguish the Petitioners aver that the violation of Circular No. 960 is but an element of the
criminal liability of petitioners? offense of prohibited transactions punished under Republic Act No. 3019 and
should, thus, be deemed absorbed by the prohibited transactions cases
(3) Had the criminal cases in violation of Circular No. 960 already prescribed? pending before the Sandiganbayan.

(4) Were petitioners exempted from the application and coverage of Circular For a charge of forum shopping to prosper, there must exist between an
No. 960? action pending in one court and another action before another court: (a)
identity of parties, or at least such parties as represent the same interests in
(5) Were petitioners' alleged violations of Circular No. 960 covered by the both actions; (b) identity of rights asserted and relief prayed for, the relief
absolute immunity granted in the Compromise Agreement of November 3, being founded on the same facts; and (c) the identity of the two preceding
1990? particulars is such that any judgment rendered in the other action will,
regardless of which party is successful, amount to res judicata in the action
On the first issue, petitioners assail the jurisdiction of the Regional Trial under consideration.[13] Here, we find that the single act of receiving
Court. They aver that the dollar-salting charges filed against them were unreported interest earnings on Treasury Notes held abroad constitutes an
violations of the Anti-Graft Law or Republic Act No. 3019, and the offense against two or more distinct and unrelated laws, Circular No. 960
Sandiganbayan has original and exclusive jurisdiction over their cases. and R.A. 3019. Said laws define distinct offenses, penalize different acts, and
can be applied independently.[14] Hence, no fault lies at the prosecution's
Settled is the rule that the jurisdiction of a court to try a criminal case is door for having instituted separate cases before separate tribunals involving
determined by the law in force at the time the action is instituted.[10] The 25 the same subject matter.
cases were filed in 1991-92. The applicable law on jurisdiction then was
Presidential Decree 1606.[11] Under P.D. No. 1606, offenses punishable by With respect to the RTC cases, the receipt of the interest earnings violate
imprisonment of not more than six years fall within the jurisdiction of the Circular No. 960 in relation to Republic Act No. 265 because the same was
regular trial courts, not the Sandiganbayan.[12] unreported to the Central Bank. The act to be penalized here is the failure to
report the interest earnings from the foreign exchange accounts to the
In the instant case, all the Informations are for violations of Circular No. 960 proper authority. As to the anti-graft cases before the Sandiganbayan
in relation to Section 34 of the Central Bank Act and not, as petitioners insist, involving the same interest earnings from the same foreign exchange
for transgressions of Republic Act No. 3019. Pursuant to Section 34 of accounts, the receipt of the interest earnings transgresses Republic Act No.
Republic Act No. 265, violations of Circular No. 960 are punishable by 3019 because the act of receiving such interest is a prohibited transaction
imprisonment of not more than five years and a fine of not more than prejudicial to the government. What the State seeks to punish in these anti-
P20,000.00. Since under P.D. No. 1606 the Sandiganbayan has no jurisdiction graft cases is the prohibited receipt of the interest earnings. In sum, there is
to try criminal cases where the imposable penalty is less than six years of no identity of offenses charged, and prosecution under one law is not an
imprisonment, the cases against petitioners for violations of Circular No. 960 obstacle to a prosecution under the other law. There is no forum shopping.
are, therefore, cognizable by the trial court. No error may thus be charged to
the Court of Appeals when it held that the RTC of Manila had jurisdiction to Finally, on the first issue, petitioners contend that the preliminary
hear and try the dollar-salting cases. investigation by the Department of Justice was invalid and in violation of
their rights to due process. Petitioners argue that government's ban on their
Still on the first issue, petitioners next contend that the filing of the cases for travel effectively prevented them from returning home and personally
violations of Circular No. 960 before the RTC of Manila constitutes forum appearing at the preliminary investigation. Benedicto and Rivera further
shopping. Petitioners argue that the prosecution, in an attempt to seek a point out that the joint preliminary investigation by the Department of
favorable verdict from more than one tribunal, filed separate cases involving Justice, resulted to the charges in one set of cases before the Sandiganbayan
virtually the same offenses before the regular trial courts and the for violations of Republic Act No. 3019 and another set before the RTC for
Sandiganbayan. They fault the prosecution with splitting the cases. violation of Circular No. 960.
Petitioners maintain that while the RTC cases refer only to the failure to
report interest earnings on Treasury Notes, the Sandiganbayan cases seek to Preliminary investigation is not part of the due process guaranteed by the
Constitution.[15] It is an inquiry to determine whether there is sufficient did not err in denying the motion to quash the informations on the ground of
ground to engender a well-founded belief that a crime has been committed want of or improperly conducted preliminary investigation. The absence of a
and the respondent is probably guilty thereof.[16] Instead, the right to a preliminary investigation is not a ground to quash the information.[20]
preliminary investigation is personal. It is afforded to the accused by statute,
and can be waived, either expressly or by implication.[17] The waiver extends On the second issue, petitioners contend that they are being prosecuted for
to any irregularity in the preliminary investigation, where one was acts punishable under laws that have already been repealed. They point to
conducted. the express repeal of Central Bank Circular No. 960 by Circular Nos. 1318
and 1353 as well as the express repeal of Republic Act No. 265 by Republic
The petition in the present case contains the following admissions: Act No. 7653. Petitioners, relying on Article 22 of the Revised Penal Code,[21]
contend that repeal has the effect of extinguishing the right to prosecute or
1. Allowed to return to the Philippines on September 19, 1993...on the punish the offense committed under the old laws.[22]
condition that he face the criminal charges pending in courts, petitioner-
appellant Benedicto, joined by his co-petitioner Rivera, lost no time in As a rule, an absolute repeal of a penal law has the effect of depriving a court
attending to the pending criminal charges by posting bail in the above- of its authority to punish a person charged with violation of the old law prior
mentioned cases. to its repeal.[23] This is because an unqualified repeal of a penal law
constitutes a legislative act of rendering legal what had been previously
2. Not having been afforded a real opportunity of attending the preliminary declared as illegal, such that the offense no longer exists and it is as if the
investigation because of their forced absence from the Philippines then, person who committed it never did so. There are, however, exceptions to the
petitioners-appellants invoked their right to due process thru motions for rule. One is the inclusion of a saving clause in the repealing statute that
preliminary investigation...Upon denial of their demands for preliminary provides that the repeal shall have no effect on pending actions.[24] Another
investigation, the petitioners intended to elevate the matter to the Honorable exception is where the repealing act reenacts the former statute and
Court of Appeals and actually caused the filing of a petition for punishes the act previously penalized under the old law. In such instance,
certiorari/prohibition sometime before their arraignment but immediately the act committed before the reenactment continues to be an offense in the
caused the withdrawal thereof...in view of the prosecution's willingness to go statute books and pending cases are not affected, regardless of whether the
to pre-trial wherein petitioners would be allowed access to the records of new penalty to be imposed is more favorable to the accused.[25]
preliminary investigation which they could use for purposes of filing a
motion to quash if warranted. In the instant case, it must be noted that despite the repeal of Circular No.
960, Circular No. 1353 retained the same reportorial requirement for
3. Thus, instead of remanding the Informations to the Department of residents receiving earnings or profits from non-trade foreign exchange
Justice...respondent Judge set the case for pre-trial in order to afford all the transactions.[26] Second, even the most cursory glance at the repealing
accused access to the records of the prosecution... circulars, Circular Nos. 1318 and 1353 shows that both contain a saving
clause, expressly providing that the repeal of Circular No. 960 shall have no
xxx effect on pending actions for violation of the latter Circular.[27] A saving
clause operates to except from the effect of the repealing law what would
5. On the basis of disclosures at the pre-trial, the petitioners-appellants otherwise be lost under the new law.[28] In the present case, the respective
Benedicto and Rivera moved for the quashing of the informations/cases... saving clauses of Circular Nos. 1318 and 1353 clearly manifest the intent to
[18] reserve the right of the State to prosecute and punish offenses for violations
of the repealed Circular No. 960, where the cases are either pending or
The foregoing admissions lead us to conclude that petitioners have expressly under investigation.
waived their right to question any supposed irregularity in the preliminary
investigation or to ask for a new preliminary investigation. Petitioners, in the Petitioners, however, insist that the repeal of Republic Act No. 265,
above excerpts from this petition, admit posting bail immediately following particularly Section 34,[29] by Republic Act No. 7653, removed the
their return to the country, entered their respective pleas to the charges, and applicability of any penal sanction for violations of any non-trade foreign
filed various motions and pleadings. By so doing, without simultaneously exchange transactions previously penalized by Circular No. 960. Petitioners
demanding a proper preliminary investigation, they have waived any and all posit that a comparison of the two provisions shows that Section 36[30] of
irregularities in the conduct of a preliminary investigation.[19] The trial court Republic Act No. 7653 neither retained nor reinstated Section 34 of Republic
Act No. 265. Since, in creating the Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas, Congress did facto application, violating the Bill of Rights.[34]
not include in its charter a clause providing for the application of Section 34
of Republic Act No. 265 to pending cases, petitioners' pending dollar-salting Is Section 36 of Republic Act No. 7653 an ex post facto legislation?
cases are now bereft of statutory penalty, the saving clause in Circular No.
1353 notwithstanding. In other words, absent a provision in Republic Act No. An ex post facto law is one which: (1) makes criminal an act done before the
7653 expressly reviving the applicability of any penal sanction for the passage of the law and which was innocent when done, and punishes such
repealed mandatory foreign exchange reporting regulations formerly an act; (2) aggravates a crime, or makes it greater than it was when
required under Circular No. 960, violations of aforesaid repealed Circular can committed; (3) changes the punishment and inflicts a greater punishment
no longer be prosecuted criminally. than the law annexed to the crime when committed; (4) alters the legal rules
of evidence, and authorizes conviction upon less or different testimony than
A comparison of the old Central Bank Act and the new Bangko Sentral's the law required at the time of the commission of the offense; (5) assuming
charter repealing the former show that in consonance with the general to regulate civil rights, and remedies only, in effect imposes penalty or
objective of the old law and the new law "to maintain internal and external deprivation of a right for something which when done was lawful; and (6)
monetary stability in the Philippines and preserve the international value of deprives a person accused of a crime of some lawful protection to which he
the peso,"[31] both the repealed law and the repealing statute contain a has become entitled such as the protection of a former conviction or
penal clause which sought to penalize in general, violations of the law as well acquittal, or a proclamation of amnesty.[35]
as orders, instructions, rules, or regulations issued by the Monetary Board.
In the case of the Bangko Sentral, the scope of the penal clause was The test whether a penal law runs afoul of the ex post facto clause of the
expanded to include violations of "other pertinent banking laws enforced or Constitution is: Does the law sought to be applied retroactively take "from an
implemented by the Bangko Sentral." In the instant case, the acts of accused any right that was regarded at the time of the adoption of the
petitioners sought to be penalized are violations of rules and regulations constitution as vital for the protection of life and liberty and which he
issued by the Monetary Board. These acts are proscribed and penalized in enjoyed at the time of the commission of the offense charged against
the penal clause of the repealed law and this proviso for proscription and him?"[36]
penalty was reenacted in the repealing law. We find, therefore, that while
Section 34 of Republic Act No. 265 was repealed, it was nonetheless, The crucial words in the test are "vital for the protection of life and
simultaneously reenacted in Section 36 of Republic Act No. 7653. Where a liberty."[37] We find, however, the test inapplicable to the penal clause of
clause or provision or a statute for that matter is simultaneously repealed Republic Act No. 7653. Penal laws and laws which, while not penal in nature,
and reenacted, there is no effect, upon the rights and liabilities which have nonetheless have provisions defining offenses and prescribing penalties for
accrued under the original statute, since the reenactment, in effect their violation operate prospectively.[38] Penal laws cannot be given
"neutralizes" the repeal and continues the law in force without interruption. retroactive effect, except when they are favorable to the accused.[39]
[32] The rule applies to penal laws and statutes with penal provisions. Thus, Nowhere in Republic Act No. 7653, and in particular Section 36, is there any
the repeal of a penal law or provision, under which a person is charged with indication that the increased penalties provided therein were intended to
violation thereof and its simultaneous reenactment penalizing the same act operate retroactively. There is, therefore, no ex post facto law in this case.
done by him under the old law, will neither preclude the accused's
prosecution nor deprive the court of its jurisdiction to hear and try his case. On the third issue, petitioners ask us to note that the dollar interest earnings
[33] As pointed out earlier, the act penalized before the reenactment subject of the criminal cases instituted against them were remitted to foreign
continues to remain an offense and pending cases are unaffected. Therefore, banks on various dates between 1983 to 1987. They maintain that given the
the repeal of Republic Act No. 265 by Republic Act No. 7653 did not considerable lapse of time from the dates of the commission of the offenses
extinguish the criminal liability of petitioners for transgressions of Circular to the institution of the criminal actions in 1991 and 1992, the State's right to
No. 960 and cannot, under the circumstances of this case, be made a basis prosecute them for said offenses has already prescribed. Petitioners assert
for quashing the indictments against petitioners. that the Court of Appeals erred in computing the prescriptive period from
February 1986. Petitioners theorize that since the remittances were made
Petitioners, however, point out that Section 36 of Republic Act No. 7653, in through the Central Bank as a regulatory authority, the dates of the alleged
reenacting Section 34 of the old Central Act, increased the penalty for violations are known, and prescription should thus be counted from these
violations of rules and regulations issued by the Monetary Board. They claim dates.
that such increase in the penalty would give Republic Act No. 7653 an ex post
In ruling that the dollar-salting cases against petitioners have not yet criminal actions against petitioners, which gave rise to the instant case, were
prescribed, the court a quo quoted with approval the trial court's finding filed in 1991 and 1992, or well within the eight-year prescriptive period
that: counted from February 1986.

[T]he alleged violations of law were discovered only after the EDSA The fourth issue involves petitioners' claim that they incurred no criminal
Revolution in 1986 when the dictatorship was toppled down. The date of the liability for violations of Circular No. 960 since they were exempted from its
discovery of the offense, therefore, should be the basis in computing the coverage.
prescriptive period. Since (the) offenses charged are punishable by
imprisonment of not more than five (5) years, they prescribe in eight (8) Petitioners postulate that since the purchases of treasury notes were done
years. Thus, only a little more than four (4) years had elapsed from the date through the Central Bank's Securities Servicing Department and payments of
of discovery in 1986 when the cases were filed in 1991.[40] the interest were coursed through its Securities Servicing
Department/Foreign Exchange Department, their filing of reports would be
The offenses for which petitioners are charged are penalized by Section 34 of surplusage, since the requisite information were already with the Central
Republic Act No. 265 "by a fine of not more than Twenty Thousand Pesos Bank. Furthermore, they contend that the foreign currency investment
(P20,000.00) and by imprisonment of not more than five years." Pursuant to accounts in the Swiss banks were subject to absolute confidentiality as
Act No. 3326, which mandates the periods of prescription for violations of provided for by Republic Act No. 6426,[48] as amended by Presidential
special laws, the prescriptive period for violations of Circular No. 960 is eight Decree Nos. 1035, 1246, and 1453, and fell outside the ambit of the reporting
(8) years.[41] The period shall commence "to run from the day of the requirements imposed by Circular No. 960. Petitioners further rely on the
commission of the violation of the law, and if the same be not known at the exemption from reporting provided for in Section 10(q), [49] Circular No.
time, from the discovery thereof and institution of judicial proceedings for its 960, and the confidentiality granted to Swiss bank accounts by the laws of
investigation and punishment."[42] In the instant case, the indictments Switzerland.
against petitioners charged them with having conspired with the late
President Ferdinand E. Marcos in transgressing Circular No. 960. Petitioners' Petitioners correctly point out that Section 10(q) of Circular No. 960 exempts
contention that the dates of the commission of the alleged violations were from the reporting requirement foreign currency eligible for deposit under
known and prescription should be counted from these dates must be viewed the Philippine Foreign Exchange Currency Deposit System, pursuant to
in the context of the political realities then prevailing. Petitioners, as close Republic Act No. 6426, as amended. But, in order to avail of the aforesaid
associates of Mrs. Marcos, were not only protected from investigation by exemption, petitioners must show that they fall within its scope. Petitioners
their influence and connections, but also by the power and authority of a must satisfy the requirements for eligibility imposed by Section 2, Republic
Chief Executive exercising strong-arm rule. This Court has taken judicial Act No. 6426.[50] Not only do we find the record bare of any proof to support
notice of the fact that Mr. Marcos, his family, relations, and close associates petitioners' claim of falling within the coverage of Republic Act No. 6426, we
"resorted to all sorts of clever schemes and manipulations to disguise and likewise find from a reading of Section 2 of the Foreign Currency Deposit Act
hide their illicit acquisitions."[43] In the instant case, prescription cannot, that said law is inapplicable to the foreign currency accounts in question.
therefore, be made to run from the dates of the commission of the offenses Section 2, Republic Act No. 6426 speaks of "deposit with such Philippine
charged, for the obvious reason that the commission of those offenses were banks in good standing, as may...be designated by the Central Bank for the
not known as of those dates. It was only after the EDSA Revolution of purpose."[51] The criminal cases filed against petitioners for violation of
February, 1986, that the recovery of ill-gotten wealth became a highly Circular No. 960 involve foreign currency accounts maintained in foreign
prioritized state policy,[44] pursuant to the explicit command of the banks, not Philippine banks. By invoking the confidentiality guarantees
Provisional Constitution.[45] To ascertain the relevant facts to recover "ill- provided for by Swiss banking laws, petitioners admit such reports made.
gotten properties amassed by the leaders and supporters of the (Marcos) The rule is that exceptions are strictly construed and apply only so far as
regime"[46] various government agencies were tasked by the Aquino their language fairly warrants, with all doubts being resolved in favor of the
administration to investigate, and as the evidence on hand may reveal, file general proviso rather than the exception.[52] Hence, petitioners may not
and prosecute the proper cases. Applying the presumption "that official duty claim exemption under Section 10(q).
has been regularly performed",[47] we are more inclined to believe that the
violations for which petitioners are charged were discovered only during the With respect to the banking laws of Switzerland cited by petitioners, the rule
post-February 1986 investigations and the tolling of the prescriptive period is that Philippine courts cannot take judicial notice of foreign laws.[53] Laws
should be counted from the dates of discovery of their commission. The of foreign jurisdictions must be alleged and proved.[54] Petitioners failed to
prove the Swiss law relied upon, either by: (1) an official publication thereof; (underscoring supplied);
or (2) a copy attested by the officer having the legal custody of the record, or
by his deputy, and accompanied by a certification from the secretary of the xxx
Philippine embassy or legation in such country or by the Philippine consul
general, consul, vice-consul, or consular agent stationed in such country, or II. Lifting of Sequestrations, Extension of Absolute Immunity and Recognition
by any other authorized officer in the Philippine foreign service assigned to of the Freedom to Travel
said country that such officer has custody.[55] Absent such evidence, this
Court cannot take judicial cognizance of the foreign law invoked by Benedicto a) The Government hereby lifts the sequestrations over the assets listed in
and Rivera. Annex "C" hereof, the same being within the capacity of Mr. Benedicto to
acquire from the exercise of his profession and conduct of business, as well
Anent the fifth issue, petitioners insist that the government granted them as all the haciendas listed in his name in Negros Occidental, all of which were
absolute immunity under the Compromise Agreement they entered into with inherited by him or acquired with income from his inheritance...and all the
the government on November 3, 1990. Petitioners cite our decision in other sequestered assets that belong to Benedicto and his
Republic v. Sandiganbayan, 226 SCRA 314 (1993), upholding the validity of corporation/nominees which are not listed in Annex "A" as ceded or to be
the said Agreement and directing the various government agencies to be ceded to the Government.
consistent with it. Benedicto and Rivera now insist that the absolute
immunity from criminal investigation or prosecution granted to petitioner Provided, however, (that) any asset(s) not otherwise settled or covered by
Benedicto, his family, as well as to officers and employees of firms owned or this Compromise Agreement, hereinafter found and clearly established with
controlled by Benedicto under the aforesaid Agreement covers the suits filed finality by proper competent court as being held by Mr. Roberto S. Benedicto
for violations of Circular No. 960, which gave rise to the present case. in trust for the family of the late Ferdinand E. Marcos, shall be returned or
surrendered to the Government for appropriate custody and disposition.
The pertinent provisions of the Compromise Agreement read:
b) The Government hereby extends absolute immunity, as authorized under
WHEREAS, this Compromise Agreement covers the remaining claims and the the pertinent provisions of Executive Orders Nos. 1, 2, 14 and 14-A, to
cases of the Philippine Government against Roberto S. Benedicto including Benedicto, the members of his family, officers and employees of his
his associates and nominees, namely, Julita C. Benedicto, Hector T. Rivera, x x corporations above mentioned, who are included in past, present and future
x cases and investigations of the Philippine Government, such that there shall
be no criminal investigation or prosecution against said persons for acts (or)
WHEREAS, specifically these claims are the subject matter of the following omissions committed prior to February 25, 1986, that may be alleged to have
cases (stress supplied): violated any laws, including but not limited to Republic Act No. 3019, in
relation to the acquisition of any asset treated, mentioned or included in this
1. Sandiganbayan Civil Case No. 9 Agreement.
2. Sandiganbayan Civil Case No. 24
3. Sandiganbayan Civil Case No. 34 x x x[56]
4. Tanodbayan (Phil-Asia)
5. PCGG I.S. No. 1 In construing contracts, it is important to ascertain the intent of the parties
by looking at the words employed to project their intention. In the instant
xxx case, the parties clearly listed and limited the applicability of the
WHEREAS, following the termination of the United States and Swiss cases, Compromise Agreement to the cases listed or identified therein. We have
and also without admitting the merits of their respective claims and ruled in another case involving the same Compromise Agreement that:
counterclaims presently involved in uncertain, protracted and expensive
litigation, the Republic of the Philippines, solely motivated by the desire for [T]he subject matters of the disputed compromise agreement are
the immediate accomplishment of its recovery mission and Mr. Benedicto Sandiganbayan Civil Case No. 0009, Civil Case No. 00234, Civil Case No. 0034,
being interested to lead a peaceful and normal pursuit of his endeavors, the the Phil-Asia case before the Tanodbayan and PCGG I.S. No. 1. The cases
parties have decided to withdraw and/or dismiss their mutual claims and arose from complaints for reconveyance, reversion, accounting, restitution,
counterclaims under the cases pending in the Philippines, earlier referred to and damages against former President Ferdinand E. Marcos, members of his
family, and alleged cronies, one of whom was respondent Roberto S. Criminal Cases Nos. 91-101879 to 91-101883, 91-101884 to 101892, and 92-
Benedicto.[57] 101959 to 92-101969, pending before the Regional Trial Court of Manila,
Branch 26, are ordered dropped and that any criminal as well as civil liability
Nowhere is there a mention of the criminal cases filed against petitioners for ex delicto that might be attributable to him in the aforesaid cases are
violations of Circular No. 960. Conformably with Article 1370 of the Civil declared extinguished by reason of his death on May 15, 2000. No
Code,[58] the Agreement relied upon by petitioners should include only pronouncement as to costs.
cases specifically mentioned therein. Applying the parol evidence rule,[59]
where the parties have reduced their agreement into writing, the contents of SO ORDERED.
the writing constitute the sole repository of the terms of the agreement
between the parties.[60] Whatever is not found in the text of the Agreement
should thus be construed as waived and abandoned.[61] Scrutiny of the
Compromise Agreement will reveal that it does not include all cases filed by
the government against Benedicto, his family, and associates.

Additionally, the immunity covers only "criminal investigation or prosecution


against said persons for acts (or) omissions committed prior to February 25,
1986 that may be alleged to have violated any penal laws, including but not
limited to Republic Act No. 3019, in relation to the acquisition of any asset
treated, mentioned, or included in this Agreement."[62] It is only when the
criminal investigation or case involves the acquisition of any ill-gotten wealth
"treated, mentioned, or included in this Agreement"[63] that petitioners may
invoke immunity. The record is bereft of any showing that the interest
earnings from foreign exchange deposits in banks abroad, which is the
subject matter of the present case, are "treated, mentioned, or included" in
the Compromise Agreement. The phraseology of the grant of absolute
immunity in the Agreement precludes us from applying the same to the
criminal charges faced by petitioners for violations of Circular No. 960. A
contract cannot be construed to include matters distinct from those with
respect to which the parties intended to contract.[64]

In sum, we find that no reversible error of law may be attributed to the Court
of Appeals in upholding the orders of the trial court denying petitioners'
Motion to Quash the Informations in Criminal Case Nos. 91-101879 to 91-
101883, 91-101884 to 91-101892, and 92-101959 to 92-101969. In our view,
none of the grounds provided for in the Rules of Court[65] upon which
petitioners rely, finds application in this case.

One final matter. During the pendency of this petition, counsel for petitioner
Roberto S. Benedicto gave formal notice to the Court that said petitioner died
on May 15, 2000. The death of an accused prior to final judgment terminates
his criminal liability as well as the civil liability based solely thereon.[66]

WHEREFORE, the instant petition is DISMISSED. The assailed consolidated


Decision of the Court of Appeals dated May 23, 1996, in CA-G.R. SP No. 35928
and CA-G.R. SP No. 35719, is AFFIRMED WITH MODIFICATION that the
charges against deceased petitioner, Roberto S. Benedicto, particularly in
around 1:00 o'clock in the early morning of April 27, 1992. Upon reaching the
tricycle terminal at Doa Soledad St., Better Living Subdivision, Paraaque,
8. People vs Liwanag Metro Manila, she was offered by tricycle driver Ramil Vendibil a "special
trip", which means that she would be brought right in front of her house. She
agreed and boarded the tricycle. While they were about to leave, Randy
DECISION Simbulan and Lope Liwanag also rode the tricycle behind the driver. When
they reached India Street, Lope Liwanag entered the sidecar and sat beside
YNARES-SANTIAGO, J.: complainant. He immediately grabbed complainant's shoulder, pointed an
instrument at the side of her neck, and declared a hold-up. Surprised and
Accused-appellant Lope Liwanag y Buenaventura, and his co-accused Randy fearing for her life, complainant told accused-appellant that she only had
Simbulan and Ramil Vendibil, were charged with the crime of highway sixty pesos (P60.00) in her bag. Accused-appellant Lope Liwanag instructed
robbery with multiple rape in an Information[1] which reads, thus: Randy Simbulan to get her bag.

That on or about the 27th day of April, 1992, in the Municipality of While the tricycle was traversing the road leading to the municipal building of
Paraaque, Metro Manila, Philippines and within the jurisdiction of this Paraaque, accused-appellant informed complainant that since they could
Honorable Court, the above-named accused, armed with an icepick, not get anything from her anyway, she might as well submit herself to them.
conspiring and confederating together and mutually helping and aiding one Then, accused-appellant began kissing complainant and touching her private
another, with intent to gain and by means of force, violence and intimidation, parts. Randy Simbulan, meanwhile, inserted his finger into complainant's
did then and there willfully, unlawfully and feloniously, take, rob and divest vagina.
from the complainant, Corazon Hernandez y Delfin the amount of P60.00;
That on the occasion thereof, the above-named accused, conspiring and As they were entering Levitown Subdivision, accused-appellant ordered
confederating together and each of them mutually helping and aiding one complainant to act naturally while they passed the guardhouse. Once they
another and by means of force and intimidation, did, then and there willfully, got through, accused-appellant asked her to give in to his desire, and then,
unlawfully and feloniously one at a time have carnal knowledge of the said he again began touching her private parts. Complainant answered that she
complainant, inside the Levitown Subdivision, Paraaque, Metro Manila, would rather be killed than accede to his desire. This prompted accused-
against her will and consent; appellant to hit her with an icepick on the abdomen.

That accused Randy Simbulan y Garcia, who is allegedly 14 years old, has Upon reaching a vacant lot, accused-appellant ordered Vendibil to stop the
acted with discernment in the commission of the offense; and tricycle. He then tried to strangle complainant, causing her to fall down from
her seat and lose consciousness. When she regained consciousness, she was
That the aggravating circumstance of that means employed or circumstance forced to board the tricycle. Again, they rode around the village. Accused-
brought about which add ignominy to the natural effect of the act where one appellant tried to strangle her with a bandana and ordered her to remove
of the accused, by means of force and intimidation, caused the victim to suck her underwear. When she refused, accused-appellant himself removed her
his penis made the effect of the crime more humiliating to the victim, underwear, opened his pant zipper and forced her to sit on his lap.
attended the commission of the offense. Complainant struggled, so accused-appellant ordered the tricycle to stop and
dragged complainant out. Accused-appellant then brought complainant to a
CONTRARY TO LAW. grassy vacant lot and forced himself on her. After satisfying his lust, they
again boarded the tricycle and accused-appellant informed complainant that
During the arraignment, all of them pleaded "not guilty" to the charge. his companions would follow. Complainant's pleas were in vain. After a few
Accused Randy Simbulan and Ramil Vendibil were earlier released on minutes of driving around, they came upon another vacant lot where
recognizance, and were later ordered rearrested for their failure to appear at accused-appellant and Vendibil dragged complainant. There, Vendibil forced
the scheduled hearings. However, the warrants for their arrest were not complainant to put his penis into her mouth. Unsatisfied, Vendibil forced her
implemented. Trial on the merits, thus, ensued only against accused- to lie down and succeeded in having sexual intercourse with her while
appellant Lope Liwanag y Buenaventura. accused-appellant and Simbulan watched. Thereafter, Simbulan took his
turn. After he satisfied his lust, they talked of killing complainant.
Complainant Corazon Hernandez was on her way home to Paraaque at
Complainant pleaded for her life and, in desperation, she offered them the subject at the time of examination.
money in exchange for her life. Accused-appellant asked her if she can
produce P10,000.00, but she said she could not. Accused-appellant lowered 2. Genital injury present.
his demand to P5,000.00. They negotiated until they finally agreed on the
sum of P2,000.00. Accused-appellant instructed complainant to deliver the Accused-appellant denied the accusation against him. He claimed that at
money at Guadalupe, Makati. She was to place the amount inside a bag around 12:00 o'clock midnight of April 27, 1992, he was at his house at Texas
together with a sandwich she was to buy at Burger Machine. They agreed to Street, Better Living Subdivision, Paraaque, Metro Manila. His uncle, Emilio
meet at 11:30 that same morning. When they finally let go of her, Changco, dropped by and, together with Ponciano Buenaventura and
complainant proceeded to a church. At daybreak, she went home and told Hermenegildo Liwanag, they had a drinking session up to 3:00 o'clock in the
her mother the whole incident. Together, they proceeded to the Fort morning. At around 4:00 o'clock in the morning, Changco left and accused-
Bonifacio police station and reported the matter. The police, in turn, devised appellant went to sleep. He woke up at 7:30 in the morning to prepare for his
an entrapment operation. trip to San Miguel, Bulacan to see his grandfather.

At the appointed hour, complainant went to Guadalupe, Makati, bringing He alleged that while waiting for a ride in front of Jollibee at Guadalupe,
with her an envelope containing pieces of plain paper. Accused-appellant Makati, he was arrested by policemen in civilian clothes for being a rebel
arrived after 45 minutes. Complainant handed the envelope to him, then she soldier, based on a mark on his right fist indicating his membership in the
ran away. Accused-appellant also ran and boarded a bus, but he was collared Guardians Luzon, an association of soldiers. He was brought to Fort Bonifacio
and arrested by the police. where he allegedly met for the first time Randy Simbulan and Ramil Vendibil.
He claimed that the three of them were beaten and subjected to electric
Dr. Louella Nario, Medico Legal Officer of the National Bureau of shocks. He also claimed that policemen forced his co-accused to point to
Investigation conducted an examination on the complainant and issued a him.
medical certificate[2] with the following findings:
On April 17, 1995, a decision[3] was rendered by the Regional Trial Court of
Extragenital Physical Injuries: Makati, Branch 138, the dispositive portion of which reads:

Abrasions, linear, leg, right, upper third, anterior aspect, 4.8 cms., in length WHEREFORE, the Court finds accused Lope Liwanag y Buenaventura GUILTY
and left, lower third, anterior aspect, 4.7 cm. in length. beyond reasonable doubt of having violated Presidential Decree No. 532,
known as the Anti-Piracy and Anti-Highway Robbery Law of 1974.
Contused abrasion, epigastric region, 2.4 x 0.3 cm. Considering that on the occasion of the highway robbery, rape was
committed, a situation which calls for the imposition of death penalty under
Contusions, reddish, mandibular region, right side, 1.8 x 1.5 cm. and left side, Presidential Decree No. 532 but which penalty was still proscribed at the
2.0 x 1.0 cms.; neck, lateral aspect, right side, 5.5 x 0.5 cms., and 9.8 x 0.5 time of the commission of the offense alleged in the Information, said
cms. and 2.5 x 0.5 cms. deltoid region, left side, 2.4 x 1.3 cms. purplish, accused is hereby sentenced to suffer the penalty of reclusion perpetua, the
deltoid region, left side, 4.2 x 2.5 cms. penalty next lower in degree (People v. Miranda, 235 SCRA 202). He is further
ordered to indemnify the complainant Corazon Hernandez of the amount of
Genital Examination: One Million Pesos (P1,000,000.00) representing moral damages; P20,000.00
as litigation expenses and attorney's fees and to return the P60.00 taken
Pubic hair, fully grown, abundant. Labia majora and minora, gaping. from her. Filing fees due on the award shall be a lien on the amount which
Fourchette, lax. Vestibular mucosa, congested, with fresh superficial abrasion may be recovered by the complainant from the accused.
at the fossa navicularis. Hymen, thick, short, intact. Hymenal orifice, annular,
admits a tube, 2.0 cms., in diameter with moderate resistance. Vagina walls, As to the two other co-accused, Randy Simbulan and Ramil Vendibil, trial of
tight. Rugosities, prominent. the case shall therefore continue.

Conclusion: Aggrieved by the trial court's decision, accused-appellant interposed the


instant appeal assigning as errors the following:
1. The above-described extragenital physical injuries noted on the body of
1. The trial court erred in convicting accused-appellant notwithstanding the Accused-appellant maintains that the trial court erred in convicting him
fact that he was deprived of his constitutional right to effective and because: 1) the prosecution failed to provide sufficient evidence positively
competent counsel, and, consequently, other constitutional rights afforded identifying him as the perpetrator of the crime; 2) inconsistencies tainted the
an accused; prosecution evidence; 3) the manner by which the crime was committed was
improbable; and, 4) complainant failed to offer any resistance prior to and
2. The trial court erred in convicting accused-appellant notwithstanding that even during her alleged rape.
there was no sufficient evidence positively identifying him as the perpetrator
of the crime charged; This appeal revolves primarily on the issue of whether accused-appellant was
denied his constitutionally guaranteed right to be heard by himself and
3. The trial court erred in convicting accused-appellant in spite of the counsel. He argues that his right to be heard through his counsel means that
inconsistencies that tainted the evidence for the prosecution; he should be effectively assisted by counsel throughout the proceedings,
from the time he was arrested up to the time judgment is rendered.
4. The trial court erred in convicting accused-appellant in spite of the
improbability of the manner by which the crime was allegedly committed; The records show that at the start of the proceedings before the trial court,
accused-appellant was represented by counsel de officio, Atty. William T. Uy
5. The trial court erred in convicting accused-appellant inspite of of the Public Attorney's Office. In the middle of the trial, accused-appellant
complainant's failure to offer any resistance prior to and even during her retained the services of counsel de parte Atty. Bienvenido R. Brioso,
alleged rape; and replacing Atty. Uy. After the trial court rendered the judgment of conviction,
Atty. Brioso filed the Notice of Appeal on behalf of accused-appellant. Atty.
6. The trial court erred in disregarding the defense of accused-appellant as a Brioso, however, failed to file the appellant's brief because of the refusal of
mere alibi. accused-appellant's mother to transmit the entire records of the case to him.
Thus, accused-appellant was required to manifest whether he still desired to
Accused-appellant submits that he was deprived of his constitutional right to be represented by Atty. Brioso in this appeal. Upon accused-appellant's
counsel under Article III, Section 14, (2) of the 1987 Constitution which failure to reply, Atty. Francis Ed. Lim was appointed counsel de officio.
provides, thus:
There is no dispute that accused-appellant was provided with a counsel de
In all criminal prosecutions, the accused shall be presumed innocent until officio who assisted him during the arraignment and conducted the cross
the contrary is proved, and shall enjoy the right to be heard by himself and examination of all prosecution witnesses as well as his direct examination.
counsel, x x x. (Italics supplied) Thereafter, from the time he was cross-examined up to the presentation of
other defense witnesses, he was assisted by a counsel of his choice.
As a consequence, accused-appellant claims that from the time he was
arrested up to the time of his conviction, he was deprived of his other Accused-appellant's citation of People v. Holgado[7] and Powell v. Alabama,
constitutional rights, particularly his right to be secure in his person against [8] insofar as the right to be heard by counsel is concerned, is misleading.
unreasonable searches and seizures,[4] his right to preliminary investigation, Both cases only defined the "right to be heard by counsel" as "the right to be
[5] and his right to bail.[6] assisted by counsel." It cannot be inferred from these cases that "the right to
be heard by counsel" presupposes "the right to an intelligent counsel." The
In addition, accused-appellant claims that the assistance extended to him by requirement is not for counsel to be "intelligent", but to be effective.
his former counsel was ineffective to the extent that private complainant, as
well as prosecution witnesses SPO1 Armando P. Sevilla and Editha Jurisprudence defined the meaning of "effective counsel" only in the light of
Hernandez, were hardly cross-examined, while Dra. Louella Nario was not Article III, Section 12 (1) of the Constitution, which refers to the right of
cross-examined at all. persons under custodial investigation. In People v. Lucero,[9] the rationale
for this constitutional right was elucidated by this Court, to wit:
In any case, accused-appellant claims that he could not have committed the
crime being imputed to him as he was engaged in a drinking session at the The 1987 Constitution requires that a person under investigation for the
very moment when the alleged crime was committed. commission of a crime should be provided with counsel. We have
constitutionalized the right to counsel because of our hostility against the
use of duress and other undue influence in extracting confessions from a words, the right to counsel is the right to effective assistance of counsel."[11]
suspect. Force and fraud tarnish confessions and render them inadmissible.
In providing for said right, this Court has held in the same case that when the In the light of the above ratiocination, accused-appellant contends that the
Constitution requires the right to counsel, it did not mean any kind of right to be heard by counsel is the right to effective assistance of counsel.
counsel but effective and vigilant counsel. The requirements of effectiveness Citing Strickland v. Washington,[12] accused-appellant contends that the
and vigilance of counsel during that stage before arraignment were for the assistance rendered by counsel is ineffective or is defective if the following
purposes of guarding against the use of duress and other undue influence in elements are present: (1) that counsel's performance was deficient, which
extracting confessions which may taint them and render them inadmissible. requires a showing that counsel was not functioning as the counsel
(Italics supplied) guaranteed the defendant by the Sixth Amendment; and (2) that the deficient
performance prejudiced the defense, which requires a showing that
On the other hand, Article III, Section 14 (2) of the 1987 Constitution requires counsel's errors were so serious as to deprive the defendant of a fair trial, a
that the accused shall enjoy the right to be heard by himself and counsel. trial which result is reliable. Accused-appellant claims that the assistance
The reason for the latter provision was explained in People v. Holgado, thus: afforded him by his counsel during the course of the trial was "ineffective"
since the counsel de officio failed to safeguard his rights necessary for the
One of the great principles of justice guaranteed by our Constitution is that reversal of his conviction.
"no person shall be held to answer for a criminal offense without due
process of law", and that all accused "shall enjoy the right to be heard by One of the rights which accused-appellant contends his counsel de officio
himself and counsel." In criminal cases there can be no fair hearing unless failed to safeguard was his right to be secure in his person against
the accused be given an opportunity to be heard by counsel. The right to be unreasonable searches and seizures as enshrined in the Bill of Rights. He
heard would be of little avail if it does not include the right to be heard by claims that his right was violated when he was arrested without a warrant
counsel. Even the most intelligent or educated may have no skill in the which his counsel should have contested.
science of the law, particularly in the rules of procedure, and, without
counsel, he may be convicted not because he is guilty but because he does Accused-appellant's argument is not well-taken. As reiterated in People v.
not know how to establish his innocence. And this can happen more easily to Costelo:[13]
persons who are ignorant or uneducated. It is for this reason that the right to
be assisted by counsel is deemed so important that it has become a [A]ppellant's failure to quash the information, his participation in the trial
constitutional right and it is so implemented that under our rules of and presenting evidence in his behalf, placed him in estoppel to make such
procedure it is not enough for the Court to apprise an accused of his right to challenge. He has patently waived any objection or irregularities and is
have an attorney, it is not enough to ask him whether he desires the aid of deemed as having submitted himself to the jurisdiction of the court. It
an attorney, but it is essential that the court should assign one de oficio for should be noted that the legality of arrest affects only the jurisdiction of the
him if he so desires and he is poor or grant him a reasonable time to procure court over the person of the accused. Consequently, if objection on such
an attorney of his own.[10] (Italics supplied) ground is waived, the illegality of the arrest is not sufficient reason for setting
aside an otherwise valid judgment rendered after the trial, free from error.
In essence, the right to be heard by counsel simply refers to the right to be The technicality cannot render the subsequent proceedings void and deprive
assisted by counsel for the purpose of ensuring that an accused is not denied the State of its right to convict the guilty when the facts on the record point
the collateral right to due process, a fundamental right which cannot be to the culpability of the accused. (Italics supplied)
waived by an accused. The underlying basis for due process is the concept of
fairness, without which there can be no justice. In other words, there can be Any objection involving a warrant of arrest must be made before he enters
no due process accorded an accused if he is not given the right to be heard his plea, otherwise the objection is deemed waived.[14]
through counsel or assisted by counsel. It follows that in order to be heard,
and therefore be accorded due process, the assistance given by counsel must Accused-appellant, likewise, claims that he was deprived of his right to a
be "effective" as implied in the rationale of Article III, Section 14 (2). In this preliminary investigation. Had his counsel de oficio been effective, he should
sense, this Court subscribes to American jurisprudence when it held that have filed the proper motion on his behalf.
"[t]he right of an accused to counsel is beyond question a fundamental right.
Without counsel, the right to a fair trial itself would be of little consequence, There is no merit in this contention.
for it is through counsel that the accused secures his other rights. In other
Considering that accused-appellant submitted himself to the jurisdiction of same way.
the trial court, he is deemed to have waived his right to preliminary
investigation. In showing the ineffectiveness of the assistance rendered by counsel de
officio, accused-appellant points out the following:
As aptly stated in People v. Buluran:[15]
The private complainant, whose testimony was the principal basis of the
The failure to accord appellants their right to preliminary investigation did conviction, was hardly cross-examined. The same is true with prosecution
not impair the validity of the information nor affect the jurisdiction of the witnesses SPO1 Armando P. Sevilla and Editha Hernandez. In fact,
trial court. While the right to preliminary investigation is a substantive right prosecution witness Dra. Louella Nario was not cross-examined at all.
and not a mere formal or technical right of the accused, nevertheless, the
right to preliminary investigation is deemed waived when the accused fails to As a result of the insufficient cross-examination of the witnesses for the
invoke it before or at the time of entering a plea at arraignment. It appearing prosecution, particularly the private complainant, the defense of the
that appellants only raised the issue of lack of preliminary investigation accused-appellant failed to bring to the attention of the trial court several
during appeal, their right to a preliminary investigation was deemed waived matters which amplify the improbability, if not impossibility, in the
when they entered their respective pleas of not guilty.[16] complainant's testimony on how the crime was allegedly committed. Thus,
the defense was not able to highlight several crucial points, among which
Accused-appellant next contends that he was deprived of his right to bail. He are: (1) the impossibility that the alleged crime, particularly the rape, was
contends that had his counsel de officio been effective, he would have filed committed in a populated area - an inhabited and well-developed
the proper motion. subdivision in Paraaque, with a 24-hour store (Burger Machine) at that -
without being noticed; (2) the fact that, assuming that accused-appellant had
The contention is without any merit. As ruled by this Court in People v. carnal knowledge of the complainant, the latter did not offer any form of
Manes:[17] resistance; and (3) the impossibility that after the crime charged was
allegedly committed, accused-appellant and his co-accused gentlemanly
The issue of bail has been rendered academic by the conviction of the accompanied complainant to a place of her choice (the church).
accused. When an accused is charged with a capital offense, or an offense
punishable by reclusion perpetua, or life imprisonment or death, and Moreover, several questions remained unanswered. For example (1) What
evidence of guilt is strong, bail must be denied, as it is neither a matter of time did the complainant report the incident to the police?; (2) How long did
right nor of discretion. the police plan the alleged entrapment?; (3) Were there other officers
involved in the entrapment?; and (4) Why was the money and other materials
In the case of Strickland,[18] the United States Supreme Court: used for entrapment not presented in evidence?

Judicial scrutiny of counsel's performance must be highly deferential. It is all Furthermore, there were also no attempts to impeach the testimony of the
too tempting for a defendant to secondguess counsel's assistance after private complainant on the scene of the crime through the use of
conviction or adverse sentence, and it is all too easy for a court, examining contradictory evidence as provided in the Rules. For instance, accused-
counsel's defense after it has proved unsuccessful, to conclude that a appellant's counsel could have presented a resident of the subdivision where
particular act or omission of counsel was unreasonable. A fair assessment of the crime was allegedly committed to describe the area. Such witness can
attorney performance requires that every effort be made to eliminate the establish: (1) whether or not the area where the crime was allegedly
distorting effects of hindsight, to reconstruct the circumstances of counsel's committed was indeed too dark for anyone to notice the commission of the
challenged conduct, and to evaluate the conduct from counsel's perspective alleged crime; (2) whether or not the houses in the subdivision are indeed
at the time. Because of the difficulties inherent in making the evaluation, a too far apart that occurrences outside one house would not be discernible
court must indulge a strong presumption that counsel's conduct falls within from within; and (3) whether or not the location of the houses in the
the wide range of reasonable professional assistance; that is, the defendant subdivision is such that it would indeed be useless for a woman, faced with
must overcome the presumption that, under the circumstances, the the threat of rape to even attempt to ask for help.
challenged action "might be considered sound trial strategy." There are
countless ways to provide effective assistance in any given case. Even the We are not convinced. The assistance extended by Attorney Uy of the Public
best criminal defense attorneys would not defend a particular client in the Attorney's Office was sufficiently effective. As noted by the Office of the
Solicitor General, to wit: fact or law;

The pertinent transcripts of stenographic notes would show that appellant's xxxxxxxxx
counsel de oficio, Atty. William Uy, cross-examined the private complainant
extensively as well as two other prosecution witnesses (SPO1 Sevilla and (h) Never to reject, for any consideration personal to himself, the cause of
Edith Hernandez). That said counsel opted not to cross-examine the the defenseless or oppressed;
prosecution expert witness, Dr. Louella Nario, is of no moment because said
witness merely explained in court her findings and conclusions that she had (i) In the defense of a person accused of crime, by all fair and honorable
arrived at after conducting the medical examination on the private means, regardless of his personal opinion as to the guilt of the accused, to
complainant [Exhibit C] (TSN, March 30, 1993, pp. 10-12). In fact, at one present every defense that the law permits, to the end that no person may
point, Atty. Uy raised an objection to the private prosecutor's question on be deprived of life or liberty, but by due process of law. (Italics supplied)
how private complainant's genital injuries were sustained for being
incompetent to answer, which objection was impliedly sustained by the trial The following canons of the Code of Professional Responsibility, likewise,
judge (Ibid., p. 13). provide:

In assessing the effectiveness of counsel's assistance, the Strickland standard Canon 2 -- A lawyer shall make his legal services available in an efficient and
invoked by accused-appellant is too stringent for application in Philippine convenient manner compatible with the independence, integrity and
judicial setting. Strickland only seeks to ensure that the adversarial testing effectiveness of the profession.
process is present in a case by requiring that the assistance rendered by
counsel be "effective". The presence of an adversarial testing process, in xxxxxxxxx
other words, ensures that the trial is fair by according the accused due
process through the "effective" assistance of counsel. Canon 12 -- A lawyer shall exert every effort and consider it his duty to assist
in the speedy and efficient administration of justice.
While fairness is likewise the object of Article III, Section 14 (2) of the
Philippine Constitution, the assistance afforded by counsel to an accused in xxxxxxxxx
light of the Philippine constitutional requirement need only be in accordance
with the pertinent provisions of the Rules of Court, the Code of Professional Canon 17 -- A lawyer owes fidelity to the cause of his client and he shall be
Responsibility and the Canons of Professional Ethics. In Philippine judicial mindful of the trust and confidence reposed in him.
setting, a counsel assisting an accused is presumed to be providing all the
necessary legal defense which are reasonable under the circumstances in Canon 18 -- A lawyer shall serve his client with competence and diligence.
accordance with said norms.
xxxxxxxxx
In this regard, a counsel assisting an accused is guided by the following
provisions of Section 20 of Rule 138 of the Rules of Court: Canon 19 -- A lawyer shall represent his client with zeal within the bounds of
the law.
Sec. 20. Duties of attorneys. -- It is the duty of an attorney:
Lastly, the Canons of Professional Ethics provide:
xxxxxxxxx
4. A lawyer assigned as counsel for an indigent prisoner ought not to ask to
(c) To counsel or maintain such actions or proceedings only as appear to him be excused for any trivial reason and should always exert his best efforts in
to be just, and such defenses only as he believes to be honestly debatable his behalf.
under the law;
5. It is the right of the lawyer to undertake the defense of a person accused
(d) To employ, for the purpose of maintaining the causes confided to him, of crime, regardless of his personal opinion as to the guilt of the accused;
such means only as are consistent with truth and honor, and never seek to otherwise, innocent persons, victims only of suspicious circumstances, might
mislead the judge or any judicial officer by an artifice or false statement of be denied proper defense. Having undertaken such defense, the lawyer is
bound, by all fair and honorable means, to present every defense that the officio reasonably assisted accused-appellant in accordance with the
law of the land permits, to the end that no person may be deprived of life or prevailing norms of professional conduct and his sworn duties as an officer
liberty but by due process of law. of the court.

15. x x x x x x x x x Based on the findings of the trial court, accused-appellant was not at all
prejudiced by the alleged ineffectiveness of his counsel. The alleged failures
The lawyer owes "entire devotion to the interest of the client, warm zeal in by his counsel to safeguard his rights from the time he was arrested up to
the maintenance and defense of his rights and the exertion of his utmost the time he was sentenced and the alleged inadequacies in the direct and
learning and ability," to the end that nothing be taken or be withheld from cross-examinations of prosecution witnesses were ultimately
him, save by the rules of law, legally applied. No fear of judicial disfavor or inconsequential to the eventual outcome of the case. If at all, the outcome
public unpopularity should restrain him from the full discharge of his duty. was the result of the strength of the prosecution evidence rather than the
In the judicial forum the client is entitled to the benefit of any and every failures and inadequacies in the conduct of the defense as shown by the
remedy and defense that is authorized by the law of the land, and he may following:
expect his lawyer to assert every such remedy or defense. But it is steadfastly
to be borne in mind that the great trust of the lawyer is to be performed First, counsel's decision to adopt the defense of denial and alibi as part of the
within and not without the bounds of the law. The office of attorney does not trial strategy merely highlighted the strength of the prosecution evidence.
permit, much less does it demand of him for any client, violation of law or While its adoption may have been dictated by the factual circumstances of
any manner of fraud or chicanery. He must obey his own conscience and not the case as perceived by accused-appellant, however, denial is an inherently
that of his client. weak defense vis- -vis the positive and categorical assertion of
prosecution witnesses. In fact, the trial court found accused-appellant's
The above-cited norms are more than adequate to guide a counsel's conduct denial to be self-serving.
in the performance of his duty to assist a client in an effective manner as
required by Article III, Section 14 (2). Said constitutional provision is Like denial, accused-appellant's alibi was not looked upon with favor by the
patterned after the Sixth Amendment of the American Constitution. As in trial court. Not only is it one of the weakest defenses due to its being capable
Article III, Section 14 (2), the Sixth Amendment refers simply to "counsel," of easy fabrication, it also cannot prevail over witnesses' positive
not specifying particular requirements of effective assistance. It relies identification of accused-appellant as the perpetrator of the crime. In any
instead on the egal profession's maintenance of standards sufficient to event, for the defense of alibi to prosper, it is not enough that the accused
justify the law's presumption that counsel will fulfill the role in the adversary can prove his being at another place at the time of its commission, it is
process that the Amendment envisions. The proper measure of attorney likewise essential that he can show physical impossibility for him to be at the
performance remains simply reasonableness under prevailing professional locus delicti.[20] The trial court found accused-appellant's and his witnesses'
norms.[19] testimonies on the former's alibi unconvincing.

Coupled with the presumption that counsel's performance was reasonable In the instant case, accused-appellant claims that he was engaged in a
under the circumstances, as long as the trial was fair in that the accused was drinking session with some persons at their house in Texas Street, Better
accorded due process by means of an effective assistance of counsel, then Living Subdivision at about the time when the crime was committed until
the constitutional requirement that an accused shall have the right to be 3:00 o'clock in the morning. However, Better Living Subdivision is adjacent to
heard by himself and counsel is satisfied. The only instance when the quality Levitown Subdivision, where the rape was committed. In fact, it was in Better
of counsel's assistance can be questioned is when an accused is deprived of Living Subdivision where complainant was robbed and sexually molested
his right to due process. Otherwise, there is the danger that questioning prior to being raped at Levitown Subdivision.
counsel's acts or omissions in the conduct of his duties as counsel for an
accused may breed more unwanted consequences than merely upholding an Second, accused-appellant also points to alleged discrepancies between
accused's constitutional right or raising the standard of the legal profession. some of complainant's accounts in her sworn statement and some of her
declarations in her direct testimony regarding the position of accused
In the case at bar, accused-appellant's right to due process has been relative to that of complainant, the kind of instrument used to threaten
observed and the trial was conducted in a fair manner. Corollarily, this Court complainant and the person who got complainant's money. The apparent
sees no reason to doubt or overcome the presumption that counsel de discrepancies, however, only refer to immaterial or irrelevant details.
Complainant was consistent in her narration in her sworn statement as well faint, and some may be shocked into insensibility while others may openly
as during her direct examination and even in the cross-examination welcome the intrusion. In any case, the law does not impose upon a rape
regarding the roles played by the three accused in the commission of the victim the burden of proving resistance. Physical resistance need not be
crime. established in rape when intimidation is exercised upon the victim and she
submits herself against her will to the rapist's lust because of fear for life and
A Sinumpaang Salaysay or a sworn statement is merely a short narrative personal safety.[23]
subscribed to by the complainant in question and answer form. Thus, it is
only to be expected that it is not as exhaustive as one's testimony in open Lastly, complainant positively pointed at accused-appellant as one of the
court. The contradictions, if any, may be explained by the fact that an perpetrators of the crime. Accused-appellant could not show any reason why
affidavit can not possibly disclose the details in their entirety, and may complainant would point him as one of the perpetrators of the crime. It is
inaccurately describe, without deponent detecting it, some of the settled that where there is no evidence to show any dubious reason or
occurrences narrated. Being taken ex-parte, an affidavit is almost always improper motive why a prosecution witness would testify falsely against an
incomplete and often inaccurate, sometimes from partial suggestions, and accused or falsely implicate him in a crime, the testimony is worthy of full
sometimes from the want of suggestions and inquiries. It has thus been held faith and credit.[24]
that affidavits are generally subordinated in importance to open court
declarations because the former are often executed when an affiant's mental The trial court ordered accused-appellant to pay complainant moral
faculties are not in such a state as to afford her a fair opportunity of damages in the amount of P1,000,000.00. This award must be reduced to
narrating in full the incident which has transpired. Further, affidavits are not P50,000.00. The purpose of this award is not to enrich the victim but to
complete reproductions of what the declarant has in mind because they are compensate her for injuries to her feelings. Moreover, moral damages for
generally prepared by the administering officer and the affiant simply signs rape is fixed at P50,000.00.[25]
them after the same have been read to her.[21]
WHEREFORE, in view of the foregoing, the decision of the Regional Trial Court
In People v. Mangat,[22] this Court has reiterated the doctrine that of Makati, Branch 138, finding accused-appellant Lope Liwanag guilty of
discrepancies between sworn statements and testimonies made at the violating P.D. No. 532 and sentencing him to suffer the penalty of reclusion
witness stand do not necessarily discredit the witness. Sworn perpetua, to indemnify complainant Corazon Hernandez P20,000.00 as
statements/affidavits are generally subordinated in importance to open court litigation expenses and attorney's fees and to return the P60.00 is AFFIRMED
declarations because the former are often executed when an affiant's mental with the MODIFICATION that the amount of moral damages is reduced to
faculties are not in such a state as to afford him a fair opportunity of P50,000.00. Costs against accused-appellant.
narrating in full the incident which has transpired. Testimonies given during
trials are much more exact and elaborate. Thus testimonial evidence carries SO ORDERED.
more weight than statements/affidavits.

Third, accused-appellant alleges that complainant failed to offer any


resistance prior to or even during her alleged rape thereby concluding that it
could have been consensual. She did not ask for help when the alleged rape
took place in a populated area. She likewise did not try to escape when she
had the opportunity to do so.

This Court finds the above argument specious and unmeritorious. It should
be noted that accused-appellant was brandishing an icepick which clearly
showed his readiness to use the same by hitting complainant with it. Besides,
she testified that she was already weak and tired to be able to do anything
against three malefactors who were stronger than her. It would have been
foolhardy for complainant to resist the accused considering her weakened
condition. The workings of a human mind placed under emotional stress are
unpredictable and people react differently - some may shout, some may
9. Public Utilities Dept vs Guingona building located at No. 46 Fendler Street, East Tapinac, Olongapo City, was
DECISION found to register 0-0 consumption. After a thorough inspection, it was
BUENA, J.: discovered that the potential link of the KWH meter installed at the second
This is a petition for review of the Decision of the Court of Appeals[1] floor of the said building was disengaged. The KWH meter thus did not
promulgated on August 22, 1997 in CA-G.R. SP No. 39689, which affirmed the register any consumption.
Resolution dated November 6, 1995 of respondent Secretary of Justice
Teofisto Guingona which directed the Acting City Prosecutor of Olongapo City Subsequently, petitioner filed a complaint for violation of City Ordinance No.
to "move for the withdrawal of the informations against the respondent for 23, Series of 1989, and of Presidential Decree No. 401 for theft of electricity
theft of electricity in relation to P.D. 401, if the same were already filed in against private respondent.
court, xxx."
After preliminary investigation, the office of the State Prosecutor dismissed
The antecedent facts of the case are undisputed: the complaint.

Private respondent Conrado L. Tiu is the owner and manager of Conti's Plaza, On appeal, then Acting Secretary of the Department of Justice Demetrio
a supermarket located at Rizal Avenue corner 21st Street, Olongapo City, and Demetria concurred with the office of the State Prosecutor's findings that the
another establishment located at No. 46 Fendler Street, East Tapinac, violation of City Ordinance No. 23 had prescribed but found sufficient
Olongapo City. The electric power consumption of private respondent is evidence to hold private respondent liable for theft of electricity.[2] Upon
supplied by petitioner Public Utilities Department. private respondent's filing of a motion for reconsideration, respondent
Secretary of Justice reversed[3] the said ruling and directed the withdrawal of
Petitioner claimed that pursuant to its Power Loss Reduction Program, the information against private respondent for theft of electricity. This
implemented with the assistance of Meralco, a digital recording ammeter, or prompted petitioner to file a petition for certiorari with the Court of Appeals.
load logger, was installed on November 25, 1992 at the primary line of
Conti's Plaza to monitor its actual power utilization. It was later discovered On August 22, 1997, the Court of Appeals promulgated its decision
that the KWH electric meter of Conti's Plaza failed to register the actual dismissing the petition for lack of merit. Hence, the present petition.
amount of its power consumption. The power loss to petitioner was
computed at 86.08%. For the purpose of pinpointing the source of the power The only issue in this case is whether or not the Court of Appeals erred in
loss, private respondent was informed by petitioner that the KWH electric ruling that the respondent Secretary of Justice did not commit grave abuse of
meter, current transformers and metering facilities of Conti's Plaza would be discretion in issuing the Resolution of November 6, 1995.
inspected.
Petitioner alleges that the Court of Appeals committed grave and serious
The inspection was done on March 3, 1993 in the presence of private reversible error in dismissing the petition for certiorari since the petitioner
respondent Tiu's operations manager and lawyer. Meralco meter test crew has established a prima facie case to prosecute private respondent for two
checked the two (2) current transformers installed outside of Conti's Plaza (2) counts of theft of electricity.
using state-of-the-art phase angle test apparatus. The test showed that the
polarity markings on the terminals of one of the two (2) current transformers Petitioner argues that the purpose of a preliminary investigation is not to
were reversed or interchanged. This would counter-act the current of the determine whether the accused is guilty beyond reasonable doubt of the
other transformer. Consequently, the effective registration of the KWH crime charged, but merely whether there existed a probable cause for his
electric meter of Conti's Plaza was only 10.71% with the corresponding prosecution, i.e., whether there is sufficient ground to engender a well-
power loss to the herein petitioner of 89.29%. When corrections were made, founded belief that a crime has been committed; that the respondent is
the KWH electric meter reflected the correct amount of electric consumption probably guilty thereof and should be held for trial. Petitioner submits that it
at Conti's Plaza. The unregistered consumption at Conti's Plaza for the billing is sufficient to adduce evidence which inclines the mind to believe, without
period from November 8, 1988 until February, 1993, was pegged and valued necessarily leaving room for doubt, that the accused is guilty of a crime and
in the amount of P9,364,267.00. Despite repeated demands to pay the said should be held for trial.
amount, respondent Tiu failed and refused to pay the same.
In support of its petition, petitioner cites then Acting Secretary of Justice
On March 17, 1993, the KWH electric meter installed at respondent Tiu's Demetrio G. Demetria's resolution, to wit:
"Assuming there is no direct proof that respondent caused the tampering of "5. That an inventory of the electrical connections to the tampered meter
the electric meters either by disengaging the polarity thereof or causing the revealed that respondent installed electrical connections without the consent
unauthorized electrical connections, there is ample circumstantial evidence of complainant, the electrical consumption of the connections thereby not
to prove his culpability. Thus, 'circumstantial evidence is sufficient for being reflected in the tampered meter.
conviction if: (a) there is more than one circumstance; (b) the facts from
which the inference are derived are proven; and (c) the combination of all "The above-enumerated unbroken chain of events leads to the unmistakable
the circumstances is such as to produce a conviction beyond a reasonable conclusion that respondent, to the exclusion of others, was the author of the
doubt.' (Section 5, Rule 133, Revised Rules of Court). crime."[4]

"The following circumstances have been shown, to wit: Petitioner further argues that it is not necessary to prove directly that
respondent Tiu did the tampering himself for a contrary rule would make the
"In I.S. No. 339 - prosecution of power theft and pilferage next to impossible.

"1. That respondent provided the required electric meters and current After a careful examination of the assailed decision and resolutions, and the
transformers (CTs) installed at his business premises; pleadings filed by both parties, the Court finds the instant petition to be
without merit.
"2. That complainant's installation crew simply followed the standard
metering principle in connecting the current transformers to the KWH meter The holding of a preliminary investigation is a function of the Executive
as respondent's technicians prepared all electrical connections; Department and not of the Judiciary.[5] The primary objective of a
preliminary investigation is to free a respondent from the inconvenience,
"3. That it was discovered by the MERALCO meter test crew that the two CTs expense, ignominy and stress of defending himself/herself in the course of a
had their polarity markings tampered, resulting in that the tampered formal trial, until the reasonable probability of his or her guilt has been
marking of the polarity of the CTs led to a wrong connection of the KWH passed upon in a more or less summary proceeding by a competent officer
meter which, consequently, registered a 10.71% electric consumption only, designated by law for that purpose. Secondly, such summary proceeding also
with a power loss of 89.29% to complainant; protects the state from the burden of unnecessary expense and effort in
prosecuting alleged offenses and in holding trials arising from false, frivolous
"4. That after the wiring connection was reversed, the rotation pace of the or groundless charges.[6] The decision whether or not to dismiss the
meter increased to almost 675%; complaint against private respondent is necessarily dependent on the sound
discretion of the prosecuting fiscal and, ultimately, that of the Secretary of
"In I.S. No. 506, aside from the first and second circumstances above- Justice.[7]
mentioned, additional circumstances were also noted, thus:
Decisions or resolutions of prosecutors are subject to appeal to the Secretary
"1. That when inspected by complainant's team, meter No. 26439328 of Justice who, under the Revised Administrative Code, exercises the power
reflected zero consumption; of direct control and supervision over said prosecutors; and who may thus
affirm, nullify, reverse or modify their rulings.[8]
"2. That the potential link in the said electric meter at the second floor was
disengaged resulting in the meter not registering any electric consumption; When the respondent Secretary of Justice, in his Resolution of November 6,
1995, reversed the findings of Acting Secretary of Justice Demetria, in the
"3. That respondent transferred the load of his appliances and equipment Resolution dated May 18, 1995, it was done in the exercise of his power of
from the first floor of the building to the second floor where the tampered review, which rests upon his sound discretion.
meter is located;
The Resolution of the Secretary of Justice may be reviewed by the court.
"4. That when complainant's team disconnected the loadside of the meter, a However, the court is without power to directly decide matters over which
spark was produced, indicating that there were loads attached to the full discretionary authority has been delegated to the legislative or executive
tampered meter; branch of the government. It is not empowered to substitute its judgment for
that of the Congress or of the President when they did not act in grave abuse buttressed by the fact that when the subject electric meter was inspected on
of discretion. March 17, 1993, the seal was still intact and there is no evidence of
tampering. Whoever initially installed said electric meter failed to connect
Thus, although it is entirely possible that the investigating fiscal may the potential link before covering or sealing the meter. Certainly, we cannot
erroneously exercise the discretion lodged in him by law, this does not blame respondent for the inefficiency or incompetence of others. The fact
render his act amenable to correction and annulment by the extraordinary that it was respondent who informed the PUD (complainant) that one of his
remedy of certiorari, absent any showing of grave abuse of discretion electric meters has a 0-0 reading after receiving his monthly billing negates
amounting to excess of jurisdiction.[9] bad faith or deliberate intent on the part of the respondent to violate P.D.
401.'"[11]
This Court finds that the Court of Appeals did not err in ruling that the
respondent Secretary of Justice did not act in grave abuse of discretion in Comparing the alleged circumstantial evidence enumerated by the petitioner
directing the Acting City prosecutor of Olongapo City to move for the and the ratiocination made by the respondent Secretary of Justice, the Court
withdrawal of the informations against the private respondent for theft of finds that no sufficient evidence of guilt and no prima facie case has been
electricity. presented by petitioner to compel the fiscal to prosecute the case of theft of
electricity against private respondent.
Findings of the Secretary of Justice are not subject to review unless shown to
have been made with grave abuse.[10] In Quiso vs. Sandiganbayan,[12] this Court pointed out that:
In its Resolution, respondent Secretary of Justice made the following
ratiocination: "x x x[A] fiscal by the nature of his office, is under no compulsion to file a
particular criminal information where he is not convinced that he has
"We could not lend credence to the claim of the complainant that evidence to support the allegations thereof. Although this power and
respondent stole electricity in view of the findings of the Meralco meter test prerogative xxx is not absolute and subject to judicial review, it would be
crew that the polarity markings of the terminals of one of the current embarrassing for the prosecuting attorney to be compelled to prosecute a
transformers were reversed or interchanged. The assumption derived from case when he is in no position to do so, because in his opinion he does not
this finding is hardly persuasive. Even after the correction of the perceived have the necessary evidence to secure a conviction, or he is not convinced of
defect in the current transformers, there was no material and substantial the merits of the case."
increase in the KWH consumption of the respondent.
We reiterate the ruling of this Court in Quiso vs. Sandiganbayan[13] and in
"xxx the respondent cannot be faulted for the reversed or interchanged Jacob vs. Puno,[14] that certiorari will not lie to compel the respondent
polarity markings. The current transformers, prior to their installation, were Secretary of Justice to file a case if he thinks the evidence does not warrant it.
duly verified, tested and examined by authorized personnel of the Otherwise, he will be committing a dereliction of duty.
complainant. They were installed after they were verified to be fit for service
and were approved for connection on 4 October 1988 by the complainant. WHEREFORE, there being no showing of grave abuse of discretion on the part
The respondent, therefore, could not have caused the reversal or the of public respondent which would warrant the overturning of its decision,
interchange of the markings. In fact, the witness for the complainant, Mr. the instant petition is DISMISSED and the assailed Decision of the Court of
Jose Ricky V. Tan, even stated that since the current transformer were old, he Appeals is hereby AFFIRMED.
could not determine if the polarity markings were changed or not."
SO ORDERED.
"xxx Thus, we affirmed your findings that:

'x x x. As correctly pointed out by respondent, it is not possible for him to


disconnect the potential link after its installation because there would be
some initial reading that will be registered. Since the reading is 0-0 from the
time of its installation up to the time it was discovered on March 17, 1993,
the only logical explanation for the 0-0 reading is that the potential link was
never engaged/connected when the new meter was installed. This is
The BAC referred the three (3) agencies (Nationwide, Odin and Masada) to
10.Odin Security vs Sandiganbayan the Presidential Security Group (PSG) for clearance. Forthwith, the PSG
recommended Nationwide as the most suitable agency to provide security
services.
DECISION
Before the Notice of Award could be sent to Nationwide, Odin, represented
SANDOVAL-GUTIERREZ, J.: by its president and general manager, Col. Arturo Ferrer (ret.), filed with the
PMS a protest alleging that Nationwide made a misrepresentation in its
Assailed in this instant petition for certiorari is the Resolution of the financial statement, reflecting therein an authorized paid up capital of P
Sandiganbayan, Second Division, dated December 15, 1997 dismissing the 2,400,000.00 although its authorization with the Securities and Exchange
Information in Criminal Case No. 23325 (for violation of Sec. 3 (e) of R. A. Commission (SEC) at that time was only P 1,000,000.00. Hence, Nationwide
3019[1]) against private respondents and the Resolution dated August 25, should be disqualified in the bidding.
1998 denying petitioner's motion for reconsideration.
Despite Odin's protest, the BAC recommended the award of the security
The facts are: service contract to Nationwide, stating that there was no substantial
misrepresentation on its part; and there is nothing illegal in declaring an
On April 26, 1991, the Presidential Management Staff (PMS) of the Office of increased paid-up capital pending its approval by the SEC. Accordingly,
the President conducted a public bidding for security services required for its private respondent Aniceto Sobrepena, then head of the PMS, approved the
various offices. Fifteen (15) security agencies participated in the bidding, BAC's recommendation, resulting in the award of the contract to Nationwide
including petitioner Odin Security Agency (Odin). Odin and Masada Security effective January 1, 1992.
Agency (Masada) submitted the lowest bid proposals. They were evaluated
by the Bids and Awards Committee (BAC) of the PMS, composed of private On February 19, 1992, Odin filed another protest, alleging for the first time
respondents Manuel B. Gaite, as Chairman, Dalisay Nazareno, Guillerma that Nationwide also falsified other entries in its financial statement (with
Reyes and Demetrio Ignacio, as members. In determining the most counterfeit BIR stamps) submitted to the PMS.
advantageous bid, the BAC was guided by the following criteria:
Respondent Sobrepena referred the matter to the PMS Legal Office. After a
a. Bid price- 25% thorough investigation, the PMS found that Nationwide committed
substantial misrepresentation. Consequently, its services were terminated
b. Financial status- 20% effective June 7, 1992.

c. Years of Service- 10% To replace Nationwide, the PMS awarded the security service contract to
Ardee Security Agency, Inc. (Ardee). Again petitioner lodged a protest but
d. Communication and transactions- 10% was dismissed by respondent Sobrepena on the ground that PMS has no
obligation to award the contract to the next ranking bidder.
e. Area of operations- 10%
On June 26, 1992, Odin, through Col. Ferrer, filed with the Office of the
f. Mobilization- 10% Ombudsman a complaint-affidavit for violation of Section 3(e) of Republic Act
No. 3019, otherwise known as the Anti-Graft and Corrupt Practices Act,
g. Other government clientele- 10% against the private respondents, namely:

h. Availability of training centers- 5% 1. Aniceto M. Sobrepea, head of PMS;

After evaluation, the BAC concluded that Nationwide Security and Allied 2. Manuel B. Gaite, Chairman, PMS Bids and Awards Committee;
Services, Inc. (Nationwide) ranked first, while Odin and Masada tied at
second place. 3. Dalisay Nazareno, member, PMS Bids and Awards Committee;
in the discharge of his official administrative or judicial functions through
4. Guillerma Reyes, member, PMS, Bids and Awards Committee; manifest partiality, evident bad faith or gross inexcusable negligence. This
provision shall apply to officers and employees of offices or government
5. Demetrio L. Ignacio, Jr., member, PMS Bids and Awards Committee and corporations charged with the grant of licenses or permits or other
others. concessions.

After conducting the preliminary investigation, the Ombudsman filed with x x x. "
the Sandiganbayan an information for violation of Sec. 3 (e) of R. A. 3019,
docketed as Criminal Case No. 23325, against private respondents. Probable cause is the existence of such facts and circumstances as would
excite the belief, in a reasonable mind, acting on the facts within the
Meanwhile, acting on private respondents' motion, the Sandiganbayan, in its knowledge of the prosecutor, that the person charged is guilty of the crime
order dated May 15, 1996, directed the prosecution to reinvestigate the case. for which he was prosecuted.[2] Corollarily, the determination of the
On February 7, 1997, the Ombudsman issued a resolution recommending existence or absence of probable cause lies within the sound discretion of
the dismissal of the Information in Criminal Case No. 23325 for lack of the Office of the Ombudsman.[3]
probable cause. This resolution was eventually submitted to the
Sandiganbayan. Time and again, this Court has held that once a case has been filed with the
court, it is that court, no longer the prosecution, which has full control of the
Forthwith, the Sandiganbayan, in its order dated February 24, 1997, required case, so much so that the information may not be dismissed without its
private respondents to comment on the Ombudsman's resolution. approval.[4] Significantly, once a motion to dismiss or withdraw the
information is filed, the court may grant or deny it, in the faithful exercise of
On December 15, 1997, the Sandiganbayan promulgated the assailed judicial discretion.[5] In doing so the trial judge must himself be convinced
Resolution dismissing Criminal Case No. 23325 for lack of probable cause. that there was indeed no sufficient evidence against the accused, and this
conclusion can be arrived at only after an assessment of the evidence in the
Petitioner filed a motion for reconsideration, but was denied. possession of the prosecution. What was imperatively required was the trial
judge's own assessment of such evidence, it not being sufficient for the valid
Hence, the present petition alleging that in dismissing Criminal Case No. and proper exercise of judicial discretion merely to accept the prosecution's
23325, the Sandiganbayan acted with grave abuse of discretion. word for its supposed insufficiency.[6]

In its comment, the People, represented by the Office of the Ombudsman, Here, respondent Sandiganbayan, in dismissing Criminal Case No. 23325
pursuant to P.D. No. 1606, as amended by R.A. No. 7975, asserts that relied on the Ombudsman's findings that:
respondent Sandiganbayan's reliance on the Ombudman's finding of lack of
probable cause is in order. 1. While Nationwide was not the lowest bidder, however, the bid price was
not the sole factor considered by private respondents in determining the
The crucial issue for our resolution is whether there was probable cause to most advantageous bid. The bid price constitutes only 25% of the total
indict respondent PMS officials for violation of Section 3 (e) of Republic Act factors. After evaluation, Nationwide, came out with the highest ranking;
3019, which reads:
2. Private respondents did not give unwarranted benefit or advantage to
"Sec. 3. Corrupt practices of public officers.- In addition to acts or omissions Nationwide because its alleged misrepresentation on its paid-up capital stock
of public officers already penalized by existing law, the following shall was actually investigated and deliberated upon. Private respondents' finding
constitute corrupt practices of any public officer and are hereby declared to is that such misrepresentation is not material, hence, could not disqualify
be unlawful: Nationwide.

xxx 3. In view of the additional alleged misrepresentations committed by


Nationwide (after petitioner's first protest), the PMS terminated its services.
(e) Causing any undue injury to any party, including the Government, or
giving any private party any unwarranted benefits, advantage or preference In addition to the above findings, respondent Sandiganbayan found that
there is no iota of proof showing that private respondents conspired with extraordinary writ of certiorari, neither questions of fact nor even of law are
Nationwide in the commission of the alleged misrepresentation to facilitate entertained, but only questions of lack or excess of jurisdiction or grave
the award of the bid to the latter to the prejudice of other bidders, thus: abuse of discretion.[9]

"We are constrained to dismiss the instant case. In addition to the reasons We thus rule that in dismissing Criminal Case No. 23325 for lack of probable
advanced by the Office of the Ombudsman as afore-cited, WE took note that cause, no taint of grave abuse of discretion can be attributed to respondent
if in fact, there were misrepresentations made by NSAS in its financial Sandiganbayan.
statements, there is no iota of proof showing that herein accused-movants
conspired with NSAS in the commission of the said misrepresentations to WHEREFORE, the petition is DISMISSED.
facilitate the award of the bid to the latter to the prejudice of the other
bidders. What herein accused-movants simply did was to evaluate the SO ORDERED.
competency of NSAS relying on the documents submitted to them, and if
ever there were irregularities in these documents, it is not fair to attribute
the same to herein accused-movants just because they approved the bid in
favor of NSAS. The grant of the bid to NSAS by accused-movants should be
separated from the misrepresentations made by the latter on their financial
statements. There is no proof of felonious linkage so as to warrant the
instant indictment."[7]

In thus concluding, it can readily be discerned that respondent


Sandiganbayan properly exercised its judicial prerogative since it did not
merely rely on the Ombudsman's recommendation but likewise reviewed the
evidence submitted to it.

The established rule is that a preliminary investigation is not the occasion for
the full and exhaustive display of the parties' evidence; it is for the
presentation of such evidence only as may engender a well-grounded belief
that an offense has been committed and that the accused is probably guilty
thereof.[8]

Hence, petitioner's arguments that private respondents conspired with


Nationwide and granted it undue favor, disregarding the fact that petitioner
is the lowest bidder, are misplaced. They are all matters of defense.

In the case at bar, the Ombudsman was convinced there was no probable
cause. His findings, being in order, were adopted by respondent
Sandiganbayan which concluded that "there is no iota of proof" showing that
private respondents conspired with Nationwide to enable the latter to get
the award.

The findings of the Ombudsman and those of respondent Sandiganbayan are


essentially factual in nature. Accordingly, in assailing the findings of
respondent court and contending that it committed grave abuse of
discretion, petitioner is actually raising questions of fact.

This Court is not a trier of facts. At this point it bears stressing that in the
alias) rang the Tanhuecos and told Shirley to bring the ransom money by
11.People vs Deang herself to Carmenville Subdivision that evening. Once there, two men
approached her. One of them, whom she identified as ESPIRITU, quickly
DECISION occupied the driver's seat, while the other, whom she identified as CATLI, sat
PER CURIAM: behind them and examined the plastic bag containing the money. Shirley
"Everything that happens in this world happens at the time God chooses. He was made to sit beside ESPIRITU, and then blindfolded. After driving for
sets the time for birth and the time for death, . . ." (Ecclesiastes 3:1-8). about an hour, Shirley sensed a car passing by and stopping a short distance
away. She was instructed to wait for her son, then she heard ESPIRITU and
Though God has certainly set the time of Arthur Tanhueco's birth, the three CATLI board the other car. For about an hour, Shirley sat waiting in the car,
men accused in this case unblinkingly usurped God's power to set the time of until an old man removed her blindfold. Her son JAY-JAY, however, was
his death. In one virtual motion, they deprived him of his liberty; and nowhere in sight.[7]
demanded a considerable sum from his loved ones for his freedom, and yet,
took his life despite achieving their purpose. For their acts, they shall have to On 27 July 1995, after appropriate proceedings, Angeles City 2nd Asst. City
answer to God and to society. Prosecutor Vicente J. Pornillos filed with the Regional Trial Court of Angeles
City an information for KIDNAPPING against Miller Capil and five (5) "Does"
On 31 January 1997, the Regional Trial Court of Angeles City, Branch 59, who remained at large as of that time. The case was docketed as Criminal
rendered a decision[1] in Criminal Case No. 95-320, finding accused Rommel Case No. 95-320.[8]
Deang, Melvin Espiritu, and Nicson (or Nixon) Catli (hereafter DEANG,
ESPIRITU, and CATLI) guilty beyond reasonable doubt of the crime of In the course of the investigation of JAY-JAY's kidnapping, his father Arturo
kidnapping for ransom with homicide, and sentencing each of them to suffer observed that the telephone calls made were traced to a house numbered
the penalty of death. The case is now before this Court on automatic review, 74-9 along Calachuchi St., Timog Park, Angeles City. Thus, on 20 July 1995, he
pursuant to Article 47 of the Revised Penal Code, as amended by Section 22 visited said address, where he saw his nephew DEANG talking with a young
of Republic Act No. 7659.[2] man, later identified as ESPIRITU, in front of the house owned by a certain
Reynaldo Cunanan.[9]
The following facts were established by the evidence for the prosecution:
In the morning of 5 July 1995, Arthur "Jay-Jay" Tanhueco (hereafter JAY-JAY), a Once DEANG was in police custody, the police recovered, P100,000 from him.
second-year high school student of the Chevalier School in Angeles city, was He then implicated in his sworn statement ESPIRITU, CATLI, and Benito Catli
walking on campus when he was summoned by a man. The latter talked to (hereafter Benito) in the kidnapping for ransom of JAY-JAY.[10] Accordingly,
JAY-JAY for a short while then suddenly dragged him inside a white Nissan on 25 August 1995, the information was amended to specifically identify the
Sentra aided by the driver. Two students, Arnel Mariano and Juliet Somera, "Does." Pursuant to the Amended Information,[11] ESPIRITU, CATLI, and
who were defense witnesses called to testify for DEANG, saw the abduction Benito were charged as Miller's co-accused in the KIDNAPPING of JAY-JAY.
and identified the man who forced JAY-JAY into the car as ESPIRITU.[3]
In the meantime, on 17 July 1995, the dead body of an unidentified boy was
The car sped away, narrowly missing pedestrian Ranulfo Quizon, but not found in Sitio Kaynalawit, Barangay Dayap, Laurel, Batangas, along the
before the latter had a good look at the driver, whom he cursed in the Tagaytay ridge below a ravine 15 to 30 meters from the road. The post-
Pampanga dialect: "Putanayda mo, kalakalale ka!" He later identified the mortem examination of the cadaver revealed the cause of death as follows:
driver of the car as DEANG.[4]
JAY-JAY was held against his will as his captors negotiated with his parents, VICTIM DATA: An unidentified male dead person, around 14 to 15 years old,
Arturo Tanhueco, Sr. and Shirley Tanhueco (hereafter, Arturo and Shirley), for wearing Giordano white shirt black pants, Gamosa shoes.
the payment of a P3-Million ransom, which was reduced to P1.48 million.[5] PLACE OF INCIDENCE: Sitio Kaynalawit, Barangay bayap, Itaas, Laurel,
The pay-off set on the evening of 12 July 1995 at the Game City Amusement Batangas
Center in Balibago, Angeles City, did not, however, push through. Instead, NATURE OF INCIDENCE: Mauling
Shirley was approached by a man in a polka dot shirt, who was earlier seen PLACE DATE AND TIME OF AUTOPSY: Police Station, Laurel, Batangas at about
talking to a certain Miller.[6] 9:50 p.m., July 17, 1995

The next day, 13 July, a man who went by the name of "Bian" (ESPIRITU's GENERAL FINDINGS
investigation/ examination, and to immediately release accused CATLI.[17]
1. Skull Fracture over left temporo parietal area. The motion was opposed by the prosecution and was denied by the court in
2. Multiple lacerated wds: 1-1 /2 inches (L) temporo parietal area. its order of 7 November 1995.[18]
3. Hematoma 2 inches over (R) eye. During the trial, a motion to discharge Benito to become a state witness was
filed,[19] which was opposed by DEANG, ESPIRITU, and CATLI.[20] The trial
CAUSE OF DEATH court, however, granted the motion in an order dated 29 February 1996.[21]
Cerebral Hemorrhages.[12] It reasoned thus:

When the body was identified to be that of JAY-JAY, and such fact was linked . . . First, there is absolute necessity for the testimony of Benito Catli, for
to the kidnapping, the information was amended on 31 August 1995 to despite the presentation of witnesses by the prosecution, none of them
charge the accused not for mere kidnapping, but for KIDNAPPING FOR testified on the exact manner the crime was committed. The question as to
RANSOM WITH HOMICIDE. This time, DEANG was included in the indictment. who masterminded the commission of the offense, the manner it was
[13] committed and the actual participation of the four accused. The existence of
the alleged conspiracy can be gleaned from the sworn statement of Benito
Thereafter, 2nd Asst. City Prosecutor Pornillos moved that accused Miller Catli. Second, the crime charged against the four accused is kidnapping for
Capil be dropped as co-accused after determining that he was erroneously ransom with homicide. The testimony of the witnesses for the prosecution
charged on account of mistaken identity and DEANG did not mention in his was limited to the fact of kidnapping and the fact of the victim's death. The
sworn statement Capil's name.[14] Defense witness Arnel Mariano clarified circumstances leading to the death of the victim and the manner he was
the mistake when he testified on 17 May 1996 regarding the physical killed was not yet established. Without accused Benito Catli's testimony, no
similarity of Miller and ESPIRITU. Thus, on 1 September 1995, the other direct evidence is available for the prosecution to prove the elements
Information was again accordingly amended, and as so amended, it reads: of the crime charged against the four accused. Third, his testimony was and
could be corroborated by the prosecution's witnesses .... Fourth, he does not
The undersigned Second Assistant City Prosecutor accuses ROMMEL DEANG appear to be the most guilty. In his sworn statement, he was merely asked by
Y TANHUECO, MELVIN ESPIRITU, NIXON CATLI, BENITO CATLI, of the crime of the three other accused to join them in their already perceived plan of
KIDNAPPING FOR RANSOM WITH HOMICIDE committed as follows: kidnapping a certain person .... Fifth, there is no evidence that he has at any
time been convicted of any offense involving moral turpitude.
That on or about the 5th day of July, 1995, in the City of Angeles, Philippines,
and within the jurisdiction of this Honorable Court, the above-named DEANG, ESPIRITU, and CATLI had a common defense: denial and alibi.
accused, conspiring and confederating together and mutually aiding and DEANG claimed that on the date in question, he was watching television at
abetting one another, did then and there willfully, unlawfully and feloniously, his house on Jesus St., Angeles City. For his part, ESPIRITU maintained that he
and for the purpose of extorting money from the parents of ARTHUR accompanied his niece, Carmella Arcilla, to a Protestant school at Henson St.,
TANHUECO, a minor, who was kidnap, carry away in an automobile, detain also in Angeles City.[22] Finally, CATLI, a cousin of state witness Benito, said
and later taking him into undisclosed place, thereby depriving him of his that between 5 and 17 July 1995, he never left their family store located at
liberty; and accused herein despite having attained their purpose of the Panlilio Apartments, Jesus St., Angeles City.[23]
demanding and receiving money as ransom for the release of said minor, the
accused failed to release him to his parents, and instead the said accused After trial on the merits, the court found the evidence of the prosecution to
with abuse of superior strength, evident premeditation and treachery killed be more credible, disregarded the defense of alibi set up by DEANG,
said ARTHUR TANHUECO as a consequence.[15] ESPIRITU, and CATLI, and decreed as follows:

The trial court granted the motion to drop Capil as co-accused. The WHEREFORE, premises considered, accused Rommel Deang, Melvin Espiritu
remaining accused, DEANG, ESPIRITU, CATLI, and Benito Catli, each entered a and Nicson Catli are held civilly liable to pay jointly and severally the heirs of
plea of not guilty on 29 September 1995, the scheduled arraignment and pre- the victim Arthur "Jay-jay" Tanhueco, Jr:
trial.[16]
1. the sum of P1,480,000.00 actually given as ransom money minus
On 19 October 1995, counsel for accused CATLI filed an omnibus motion to P100,000.00;
suspend proceedings, to quash warrant of arrest, to hold preliminary 2. P30,000.00 for the wake and funeral expenses;
3. P10,000.00 for expenses in transporting the cadaver of the victim from calls made by the kidnappers were traced and found his nephew, DEANG,
Laurel, Batangas to Angeles City; conversing in front of the house with a man who was later identified as
4. the sum of P3,000,000.00 pesos for and as moral damages; and ESPIRITU. This eventually paved the way to the questioning of DEANG, who
5. the sum of P50,000.00 as attorney's fees. owned up the crime and supplied the information that, in turn, led the police
Finding all the accused GUILTY beyond reasonable doubt of the crime of to CATLI, ESPIRITU and Benito.
Kidnapping For Ransom With Homicide, accused Rommel Deang, Melvin
Espiritu and Nicson Catli are all sentenced to suffer the supreme penalty of State witness Benito Catli's testimony is crucial to the determination of the
DEATH.[24] guilt or innocence of accused-appellants. He maintained that it was DEANG,
The capital punishment having been imposed by the trial court, the assailed ESPIRITU, and CATLI who conceptualized, planned and executed the
judgment is now with this Court on automatic review. abduction. Thereafter, the three mapped out how to get the ransom from
JAY-JAY's parents. Benito also declared that the boy was held against his will.
DEANG insists that the trial court erred in (a) convicting him on the basis of [26] As correctly observed by the trial court:
inadequate and insufficient evidence; (b) basing his conviction on his alleged
extrajudicial confession which is inadmissible in evidence; (c) convicting him The victim was brought to the ancestral home of Nicson Catli's family at San
on the basis of illegally obtained evidence; (d) not upholding his Juan, San Luis, Pampanga. Nicson Catli was the one who guarded the victim,
constitutional right to counsel during his custodial investigation; and (e) not while Melvin Espiritu negotiated for the ransom money and Rommel Deang
considering that he was illegally arrested and detained. was the one who monitored the movement of the Tanhueco family. Benito
Catli also testified that Nicson Catli and Melvin Espiritu were the ones who
ESPIRITU, aside from asserting the lack of evidence to convict the three of met Shirley Tanhueco at Carmenville and that it was Nicson Catli who was
them, assigns as error the failure of the trial court to appreciate his alibi. carrying the ransom money when he transferred from the car of Mrs.
Tanhueco to the car being driven by Benito Catli. The three of them, Melvin,
CATLI avers that the trial court erred in: (a) proceeding with his arraignment Nicson and Benito thereafter brought the victim to Manila at the Longwood
without a preliminary investigation; (b) admitting in evidence, giving weight Hotel and the three of them also counted the ransom money. When Benito
and credence to, and relying chiefly on the alleged extrajudicial confession of and Melvin returned to Angeles City in the early morning of July 13, 1995,
accused DEANG in convicting them; (c) granting the discharge of Benito Catli Nicson Catli was left in Manila to guard Jay-Jay, Tanhueco. Then on July 17 or
when he was the most guilty of the four accused and by giving weight to his 18, 1995, it was Nicson Catli who gave Benito Catli the amount of P50,000.00
testimony; (d) ignoring his defense of alibi; and (e) convicting him despite a and told him that Turo or Jay-Jay Tanhueco was already dead. Nicson even
clear lack of motive. told Benito that Nicson, Rommel and Melvin went to Tagaytay. From there,
Rommel shot Jay Jay Tanhueco with a paltik revolver and thereafter Rommel
After a meticulous review of the voluminous records and the evidence and Melvin threw Turo down the cliff.[27]
adduced by the parties, this Court agrees with the findings of the trial court
and, consequently, affirms the conviction of accused-appellants DEANG, Recovered from the possession of DEANG were peso bills in the amount of
ESPIRITU and CATLI. P100,000,[28] which was part of the ransom money.

Shirley's narration of the events that followed the abduction of her son JAY- The Nissan Sentra car that was used in the forcible taking of JAY-JAY at the
JAY is convincingly clear. Her testimony proved beyond any doubt that JAY-JAY Chevalier School campus on 5 July 1995 was properly identified by witnesses
was kidnapped, that she complied with the ransom demands of the and was traced to Bali Cars, which rented it out to ESPIRITU on several
malefactors, and that she had sufficient knowledge of their identities occasions in July 1995, coinciding with the dates pertinent to the kidnapping
because she personally dealt with them. Her testimony may have had minor of JAY-JAY, the delivery of the ransom money, and the taking of JAY-JAY to
inconsistencies, but these did not affect her credibility. It is settled that Longwood Hotel in Manila.[29] The trial court found ESPIRITU's testimony on
inconsistencies on minor and trivial matters only serve, to strengthen rather the circumstances surrounding said transactions incredible and declared
than weaken the credibility of a witness because they erase any suspicion of thus:
rehearsed testimony.[25]
The explanations made by Melvin Espiritu on why he rented a car on July 5,
JAY-JAY's father Arturo also had a hand in piecing together the evidence 1995 is unmeritorious. He alleged that he rented the car at 6:00 a.m. in favor
against accused-appellants. He went to the place from where the telephone of Benito Catli per the latter's request. Benito Catli's house is nearer and
more accessible to Bali Cars. Benito Catli allegedly went to San Luis the night
before and told him to leave the car to Catli's sister. Likewise, his PO3 Jamisolamin, however, testified that DEANG was informed of his
explanation, on why he rented a car on July 14, 1995 does not deserve constitutional rights and, when asked if he understood them, DEANG replied
consideration. It is improbable for her mother not to call them considering in the affirmative. When apprised of his right to counsel, DEANG also said
that she will not be going home on July 14, 1995 and the succeeding days that he had a lawyer, Atty. Mariano Navarro. Jamisolamin further testified
thereafter. Melvin rented a car on July 14, 1995 allegedly to fetch his mother that Atty. Navarro was right in front of DEANG when the latter was giving his
at the airport and who did not arrive on the said date. He went on again on confession.[32] DEANG's confession was in written form, signed by him, as
July 15 and 16, 1995 using the rented car hoping that his mother would well as by Atty. Navarro.[33]
come. They did not call their mother in Hong Kong although they can call her SPO2 Mario Nulud, who was present at the time DEANG was giving his
up when there is an emergency. This Court believes that such narration was confession, corroborated PO3 Jamisolamin's testimony that DEANG was read
used by the defense only to justify his renting a car on July 14, 1995. The car his constitutional rights; and that the latter's lawyer, Atty. Navarro, was
he rented on July 14, 1995 was returned only on August 4, 1995 and he paid present during the investigation.
P26,400.00 for it.[30] Moreover, a perusal of the extrajudicial confession of DEANG explicitly shows
that he was, indeed, informed of his constitutional custodial rights and that
All the foregoing, especially the pivotal testimony of state witness Benito he was represented by a counsel of his choice, Atty. Navarro, at the time said
Catli, established beyond any shadow of a doubt that DEANG, ESPIRITU, and confession was being executed, notwithstanding his disavowal of said
CATLI committed, and are guilty of, the crime for which they were charged, counsel's services on appeal. The pertinent portion of the extrajudicial
namely, kidnapping for ransom with homicide. confession reads:

There is no merit to DEANG's claim that his extrajudicial confession is PASUBALI: Ginoong, Rommel Deang, ipinagbibigay alam ko sa iyo na ikaw
inadmissible for having been obtained in violation of his constitutional rights ngayon ay sumasailalim ng isang pagsisiyasat at inuusig tungkol sa isang
under custodial investigation. kasalanan na kung saan ikaw ay nasasangkot sa isang krimen (kidnapping).
Bago ang lahat, pinaalala ko sa iyo na sa ilalim ng ating Saligang Batas ikay ay
Paragraph 1, Section 12, Article III of the Constitution provides that: may may sariling karapatan at ito ay ang sumusunod:
Any person under investigation for the commission of an offense shall have
the right to be informed of his right to remain silent and to have competent a. Karapatan mo ang magsawalang kibo sa anumang itatanong sa iyo.
and independent counsel preferably of his own choice. If a person cannot b. Karapatan mong magkaroon ng patnubay ng isang manananggol, ikaw ay
afford the services of counsel, he must be provided with one. These rights bibigyan ng ating gobierno na walang bayad o sa sarili mong pili o
cannot be waived except in writing and in the presence of counsel. kagustuhan. Ito ba ay nauunawaan mo?

And Section 2(a) of R.A. No. 7438 states that: SAGOT: OPO (initialed)
Any extrajudicial confession made by a person arrested, detained or under TANONG: Pagkatapos na maipabatid sa iyo ang inyong karapatan sa ilalim ng
custodial investigation shall be in writing and signed by such person in the ating saligang batas na magsawalang kibo, nais mo bang ipagpatuloy ang
presence of his counsel or in the latter's absence, upon a valid waiver, and in imbestigasyong ito?
the presence of any of his parents, older brothers and sisters, his spouse, the SAGOT: OPO (initialed)
municipal mayor, the municipal judge, district school supervisor, or priest or TANONG: Kailangan mo ba ng isang manananggol?
minister of the gospel as chosen by him; otherwise, such extrajudicial SAGOT: Opo, Si Atty. Mariano Y. Navarro po (initialed).
confession shall be inadmissible as evidence in any proceeding.[31] TANONG: Pinapaalala ka rin sa iyo na anumang salaysay ang ibibigay mo sa
imbestigasyong ito ay maaring gamitin laban sa iyo. Ito ba ay nauunawaan
DEANG asserts that he was not advised of his constitutional rights and that mo?
his confession was dictated by PO3 Primo Jamisolamin. He adds that the SAGOT: OPO (initialed)
lawyer who assisted him, Atty. Mariano Y. Navarro, was not his counsel of TANONG: Handa ka na bang magbigay ng isang kusang loob na salaysay?
choice and that the latter did not ascertain whether his confession was freely SAGOT: Opo, sir.[34]
given. Moreover, he claims, Atty. Navarro did not see him write and sign the
purported confession. DEANG further states that he was never asked any In light of the positive assertions of PO3 Jamisolamin and SPO2 Nulud, police
question at that time relating to the incident under investigation. officers who have not been shown to harbor any ill-motive in testifying
against DEANG, and are even presumed to have acted regularly, the self-
serving and uncorroborated claims of the latter must fail. The Court finds no Preliminary investigation is generally inquisitorial, and it is often the only
constitutional and legal infirmity in the signed extrajudicial confession of means of discovering those who may be reasonably charged with a crime to
DEANG and affirms its admissibility in evidence. enable the prosecutor to prepare his complaint or information. It is not a
trial of the case on the merits and serves no purpose except to determine if a
Neither is there merit in DEANG'S claim that his arrest and the search of his crime has been committed and whether there is probable cause to believe
house were conducted in violation of his constitutional right against that the accused is guilty thereof. It does not place in jeopardy the person
warrantless arrests and searches. As he did not question the legality of his against whom it is taken.[40] It has been consistently held that the absence
arrest before he was arraigned, he is deemed to have waived such defense. of a preliminary investigation does not impair the validity of the criminal
In any case, no proof of the purported illegal arrest was ever presented by information or render it defective.[41] In this case, CATLI is deemed to have
the defense. What is clear from the record is that, when invited by the police, waived his right to preliminary investigation when he entered his plea during
he willingly submitted himself to investigation. arraignment.[42]
CATLI also repeats his objection to the utilization of Benito Catli as state
With regard to the alleged illegal search and seizure, SPO2 Mario Nulud witness. This issue is well within the discretion of the trial judge. Assuming
testified that DEANG conceded to accompany the police to his house in order arguendo that the trial court did err, this Court has held several times in the
to surrender his share of the ransom money. He brought them to his room past that any witting or unwitting error of the prosecution in asking for the
upstairs. There DEANG showed and gave to the police officer P100,000 in discharge of an accused, and of the trial court in granting the petition for
P500-peso bills, some of which were marked.[35] It must be reiterated at this discharge, would not deprive the discharged accused of the acquittal
point that a consented warrantless search is one of the exceptions to the specified in Section 10 of Rule 119 and of the constitutional guarantee
proscription under Section 2, Article III, of the Constitution.[36] The consent against double jeopardy, as long as no question of jurisdiction is involved. It
of the owner of the house to the search effectively removed any badge of is also relevant to note that the improper or mistaken discharge of an
illegality. accused would not affect his competence as a witness or render inadmissible
his testimony.[43]
Neither is the Court impressed with DEANG's assertion that the students who
witnessed the kidnapping of JAY-JAY pointed to Miller Capil as the one who CATLI'S argument that he had no motive to kidnap anybody because his
forced JAY-JAY into the car. Arnel Mariano and Juliet Somera actually family was well-off is irrelevant. In the fist place, the rich and the poor can
identified ESPIRITU as the culprit. A closer scrutiny of the testimonies of the and do commit crimes. Possession of wealth does not make one a saint, and
witnesses reveals that Miller and ESPIRITU bear physical resemblance. On poverty alone does not make one a criminal. In the second place, proof of
the other hand, DEANG was positively identified by Ranulfo Quizon, who motive, in general, is not necessary to pin a crime on the accused if the
remembered him as the driver of the white Nissan Sentra used in abducting commission of the crime has been proven and the evidence of identification
JAY-JAY.[37] Moreover, he was tagged by Benito Catli as one of the co- is convincing.[44] In the present case, CATLI was identified by Benito Catli, his
conspirators in the commission of the crime charged. cousin, as one of the co-conspirators in the planning and execution of the
kidnapping for ransom and the killing of JAY-JAY.
CATLI, for his part, contends that there was a violation of his right to a
preliminary investigation. He filed a separate action before the Court of The common defense of DEANG, ESPIRITU, and CATLI is alibi. DEANG said he
Appeals, docketed therein as CA-G.R. SP No. 39287, raising this issue. In its was in his house in Jesus St., Pulong Bulo, Angeles City when the kidnapping
decision promulgated on 15 March 1996, the Court of Appeals dismissed the was executed on 5 July 1995. He was, however, positively identified by
petition on this ground:[38] Quizon, who was almost hit by the white Nissan Sentra immediately after
[T]he records show that only accused Benito Catli filed a Motion for JAY-JAY was kidnapped.
Reinvestigation. The three (3) other accused did not invoke their right to a
preliminary investigation. So much so that after entering into arraignment on ESPIRITU, on the other hand, claims that Benito Catli asked him to rent a car
September 30, 1995, this right was deemed waived. At any rate, it is settled on 5 July 1995. He thus rented a car at Bali Cars at approximately half past
that the absence of preliminary investigation does not impair the validity of six in the morning, after which he deposited the car at the residence of
the information or otherwise render the same defective and neither does it Benito Catli. He got back home in Timog Park, Angeles City, at around 7:00
affect the jurisdiction of the court over the case or constitute a ground for a.m. then brought his niece to school at around 7:30. He left the school at
quashing the information.[39] around 8:00 o'clock and reached home some thirty minutes later, where he
stayed the rest of the day. kidnapping for ransom and death of JAY-JAY having been established beyond
reasonable doubt, the Court has no other recourse but to agree with the
CATLI maintains he was tending his sister's store at Jesus St., Angeles City, penalty imposed by the trial court.
the entire two months of July and August, including the 5th of July.
Four Justices of the Court have continued to maintain their view that
Alibi is the weakest of all defenses for it is easy to fabricate and difficult to Republic Act No. 7659 is unconstitutional insofar as it prescribes the death
disprove. For this reason, it cannot prevail over the positive identification of penalty. Nevertheless, they submit to the ruling of the majority to the effect
the accused by witnesses.[45] For alibi to prosper, the requirements of time that this law is constitutional and that the death penalty can be lawfully
and place must be strictly met. It is not enough to prove that the accused imposed in the case at bar.
was somewhere else when the crime was committed. He must demonstrate
that it was physically impossible for him to have been at the scene of the In the matter of damages, the Court notes that the trial court awarded actual
crime at the time of its commission.[46] damages in the amount of P30,000 for wake and funeral expenses, and
P10,000 as expenses for transporting the victim's body from Batangas to
Chevalier School, where the kidnapping occurred, is in Pampanga. The Pampanga. These must be deleted for lack of supporting evidence. The
residences of DEANG and ESPIRITU, and the store of CATLI's sister, are all amount of the ransom money, less P100,000, must, however, be returned to
located in Angeles City, Pampanga. Each of them miserably failed to show the Tanhuecos.
that it was physically impossible for them to be at the Chevalier School at the
time JAY-JAY was kidnapped. The award of moral damages in the amount of P3 million must be reduced to
P500,000.
In light of the overwhelming evidence for the prosecution, establishing their The law also allows exemplary damages in criminal cases as part of the civil
authorship of and culpability for the crime charged, the alibis of DEANG, liability of the malefactors when the crime is attended by one or more
ESPIRITU, and CATLI were rightfully disregarded by the trial court as obvious aggravating circumstances.[47] As discussed above, this requisite has already
fabrications. been met. Exemplary damages are, however, imposed "not to enrich one
party or impoverish another but to serve as a deterrent against or as a
Article 267 of the Revised Penal Code, as amended by Section 8 of Republic negative incentive to curb socially deleterious actions."[48] In the case at bar,
Act No. 7659, provides that: exemplary damages in the amount of P100,000 are awarded to the private
Any private individual who shall kidnap or detain another, or in any other complainants, by way of example or correction, in addition to the other
manner deprive him of his liberty, shall suffer the penalty of reclusion damages herein awarded.[49]
perpetua to death:
1) if the kidnapping or detention shall have lasted more than three days Finally, the Court observes that no civil indemnity for the death of the victim
2) xxx was decreed. In line with prevailing jurisprudence,[50] the amount of
3) xxx P50,000 is hereby also awarded.
4) if the person kidnapped or detained shall be a minor, except when the
accused is any of the parents, female or a public officer. WHEREFORE, the decision of the Regional Trial Court, Branch 59, Angeles
City, in Criminal Case No. 95-320, sentencing accused-appellants ROMMEL
The penalty shall be death where the kidnapping or detention was DEANG, MELVIN ESPIRITU, and NICSON CATLI to suffer the penalty of death,
committed for the purpose of extorting ransom from the victim or any other is hereby AFFIRMED, with the following modifications as to damages:
person, even if none of the circumstances above-mentioned were present in
the commission of the offense. (1) the award of actual damages in the amount of P30,000 for funeral and
When the victim is killed or dies as a consequence of the detention or is wake expenses, and P10,000 for transporting the victim's body from
raped, or is subjected to torture or dehumanizing acts, the maximum penalty Batangas to Pampanga, are hereby set aside;
shall be imposed. (Emphasis supplied) (2) the award of P3 million in moral damages is reduced to P500,000; and
(3) the amounts of P50,000 as indemnity for the death of Arthur Tanhueco,
The presence of any of these two circumstances - the ransom demand or the and P100,000 as exemplary damages, are hereby also awarded.
death of the victim - already calls for the imposition for the death penalty.
Here, they are both present. The guilt of DEANG, ESPIRITU, and CATLI for the The awards of restitution of the ransom money in the amount of P1,480,000,
less the P100,000 which was recovered, and attorney's fees in the amount of
P50,000, stand.
The aforesaid awards shall be paid to the heirs of Arthur Tanhueco and
accused-appellants are solidarity liable for the payment thereof.

In accordance with Article 83 of the Revised Penal Code, as amended by


Section 25 of Republic Act No. 7659, upon finality of this decision, let the
records of this case be forwarded to the Office of the President for possible
exercise of pardoning power.
Costs de officio.

SO ORDERED.
12.Potot vs People finds him guilty beyond reasonable doubt of the crime of homicide, and
appreciating in his favor the mitigating circumstances of plea of guilty and
DECISION voluntary surrender, with no aggravating circumstance in attendance, and
SANDOVAL-GUTIERREZ, J.: applying the Indeterminate Sentence Law, sentences him to suffer an
imprisonment ranging from two (2) years four (4) months and one (1) day of
After the accused has filed with the trial court a manifestation that he is not prision correccional, as minimum, to eight (8) years and one (1) day of
appealing its Decision convicting him of homicide and that he is ready to prision mayor, as maximum; to indemnify the heirs of Rodolfo Dapulag y
serve his sentence, can the same court, upon motion by the private Conge, also known as Pili, in the amount of P50,000.00; and to pay the costs.
complainant with the conformity of the public prosecutor, set aside the said
judgment and remand the records of the case to the Office of the Provincial The period during which the accused has undergone preventive
Prosecutor for re-evaluation of the evidence and the filing of the imprisonment shall be deducted in full from the foregoing sentences
corresponding charge? This is the issue raised in the instant petition for involving deprivation of liberty should the records reveal that he expressly
review on certiorari. agreed in writing to abide by the same rules and regulations governing
convicted prisoner during his entire detention period and if the records show
Joey S. Potot, petitioner, was charged with homicide in Criminal Case No. that he is entitled to the privilege under the law.
2739 before the Regional Trial Court (RTC), Branch 19, Catarman, Northern SO ORDERED."[4]
Samar. The information against him, filed on December 12, 1999, alleges:
On February 3, 2000, petitioner, through counsel, filed a manifestation with
"That on or about the 2nd day of November, 1999, at about 3:00 o'clock in motion[5] informing the trial court that he is not appealing from the Decision
the early morning in the public cemetery of the Municipality of Mondragon, and praying that a commitment order be issued so he could immediately
Province of Northern Samar, Philippines, and within the jurisdiction of this serve his sentence. Attached to the motion is petitioner's letter to the court
Honorable Court, the above-named accused, armed with a knife locally called stating that he does not intend to appeal from its Decision.[6]
'dipang,' with deliberate intent to kill and without justifiable cause, did then
and there wifully, unlawfully and feloniously attack, assault and stab However, on February 11, 2000, the private complainant, Rosalie Dapulag
RODOLFO DAPULAG @ PILI with the use of said weapon which the accused (wife of the victim), filed through counsel, a motion for
had provided himself for the purpose, thereby inflicting upon said Rodolfo reconsideration/retrial[7] praying that the Decision be set aside and that the
Dapulag @ Pili a mortal wound which caused the death of said victim. case be heard again because "there were irregularities committed before
and during the trial which caused miscarriage of justice." The motion, which
CONTRARY TO LAW." [1] bears the conformity of the public prosecutor, alleges, among others, that:
Upon arraignment on February 1, 2000, wherein the information was read to
him in his own dialect, petitioner, assisted by counsel, pleaded guilty to the "The true facts surrounding the commission of the crime as revealed by the
charge.[2] Forthwith, he invoked not only the mitigating circumstance of plea eyewitnesses, EDUARDO BOYSON and JIMUEL MARQUITA, on December 8,
of guilty, but also the circumstance of voluntary surrender since, as shown in 1999 is that RODOLFO DAPULAG, private offended party's deceased
the records, he surrendered voluntarily to the Philippine National Police husband, was killed on that fateful morning by accused JOEY POTOT with the
(PNP) Headquarters immediately after the commission of the crime. The aid of DOMING JARILLA and MARLITO NAZAM who respectively held the right
public prosecutor did not raise any objection. Instead, he manifested that and left arm of Rodolfo Dapulag to ensure the commission of the crime by
there is no aggravating circumstance which attended the commission of the accused Joey Potot".
crime.
"This information was deliberately withheld by the said eyewitnesses,
Thereupon, the trial court, after being satisfied that petitioner understood especially EDUARDO BOYSON, during the investigation conducted by the
the meaning and consequences of his plea of guilty, rendered and police and the preliminary investigations conducted by the presiding judge of
promulgated its Decision[3] in open court convicting him of homicide, with MCTC of Mondragon-San Roque and the Office of the Provincial Prosecutor
the mitigating circumstances of plea of guilty and voluntary surrender upon the solicitations of Mayor Elito Dapulag, who in good faith believed that
appreciated in his favor. The dispositive portion of the Decision reads: the inclusion of Doming Jarilla and Marlito Nazam would make the
prosecution of the case more difficult. The eyewitnesses, who are likewise in
"WHEREFORE, the Court accepts the plea of guilty of Joey Potot y Sorio, and the belief that indeed the inclusion of the above-named persons would
complicate the case, withheld the said information until witness Jimuel
Marquita revealed the same to the private offended party on December 8, Petitioner filed a motion for reconsideration[10] contending that the trial
1999. court has no jurisdiction to issue the February 1, 2000 order as the Decision
xxxxxxxxx had become final, and that the said order "would place the accused in
"The private offended party (not in her capacity as such, but as a citizen) has double jeopardy. In the order of May 26, 2000,[11] the trial court denied the
the right to demand from the State the punishment of heinous crimes in motion for reconsideration for the reason that the State is not bound by the
accordance with law. And such right is now in jeopardy of being lost for some error or negligence of its prosecuting officers, hence, jeopardy does not
causes not attributable to her. attach."

xxxxxxxxx Petitioner now assails the orders of May 3 and 26, 2000.

Hereto attached and made integral parts hereof are the affidavits of The Solicitor General agrees with the petitioner that the challenged orders
eyewitnesses JIMUEL MARQUITA and EDUARDO BOYSON." (Emphasis should be set aside and that the February 1, 2000 Decision should be
supplied) reinstated.[12]

Petitioner opposed[8] the motion, asserting that there was no irregularity in We find the petition meritorious.
the preliminary investigation of the case and in the proceedings before the
trial court; and that the decision can no longer be modified or set aside Section 7, Rule 120 of the Revised Rules on Criminal Procedure, as amended,
because it became final when he formally waived his right to appeal. provides:

The trial court, in its order dated May 3, 2000,[9] granted private "SEC. 7. Modification of judgment. A judgment of conviction may, upon
complainant's motion and set aside its February 1, 2000 Decision "as motion of the accused, be modified or set aside before it becomes final or
proceeding from a rigged, hence, sham hearing." It likewise ordered that the before appeal is perfected. Except where the death penalty is imposed, a
records of the case be remanded to the Office of the Provincial Prosecutor judgment becomes final after the lapse of the period for perfecting an
"for re-evaluation of the evidence and to file the corresponding charge," appeal, or when the sentence has been partially or totally satisfied or served,
thus: or when the accused has waived in writing his right to appeal, or has applied
for probation. (7a)" (Emphasis ours)
"From the records are gathered that the case, as originally referred to the
Municipal Circuit Trial Court, was for murder. In the conduct of the It is thus clear that only the accused may ask for a modification or setting
preliminary investigation, said court determined that a prima facie case aside of a judgment of conviction. And this he must do before the said
exists and recommended the accused be held for trial on the charge. In his judgment becomes final or before he perfects his appeal. Such judgment
resolution reviewing the records of the preliminary investigation conducted becomes final in any of the following ways: (a) when no appeal is seasonably
by the municipal court, the prosecutor entirely missed discussion of the filed by the accused, except in case of automatic review of the decision
participation of two others allegedly in conspiracy with the accused. The imposing the capital penalty;[13] (b) when he has partially or totally served
exclusion of the two others identified as Doming Jarilla and Marlito Nazam his sentence; (c) when he expressly waives his right to appeal the judgment,
was orchestrated by the Municipal Mayor who, in good faith, prevailed upon except when the death penalty is imposed; or (d) when he applies for
the witnesses not to implicate them. To these foregoing, the Provincial probation. When one of these circumstances is present, the trial court which
Prosecutor is in conformity. rendered the judgment of conviction loses jurisdiction to alter, modify or
revoke it.[14]
Accordingly, the Branch Clerk of Court shall remand the records hereof to
the Office of the Provincial Prosecutor for re-evaluation of the evidence and It is an undisputed fact that on February 3, 2000, or three days after the
to file the corresponding charge supported by the same. The motion or promulgation of the judgment of conviction, petitioner filed a manifestation
manifestation requesting for the issuance of a commitment order filed by expressly waiving his right to appeal therefrom. His intention not to appeal is
the defense is DENIED. further indicated by his prayer in the same manifestation for the immediate
issuance of a commitment order so he could serve his sentence. Such waiver
SO ORDERED." has the effect of causing the judgment to become final and unalterable.[15]
Thus, it was beyond the authority of the trial court to issue the order of May provides that '[a]ll criminal actions commenced by a complaint or
3, 2000 setting aside its February 3, 2000 Decision which had attained information shall be prosecuted under the direction and control of the fiscal.'
finality. It must be remembered that as public prosecutor he is the 'representative
not of the ordinary party to a controversy, but of a sovereignty whose
In Calalang vs. Register of Deeds of Quezon City[16] and in a long line of obligation to govern impartially is as compelling as its obligation to govern
cases, this Court (En Banc) held that a judgment which has acquired the all; and whose interest, therefore, in a criminal prosecution is not that it shall
status of finality becomes immutable. Any error, assuming one was win a case, but that justice shall be done. As such, he is in a peculiar and very
committed in the judgment, will not justify its amendment except only to definite sense the servant of the law, the twofold aim of which is that guilt
correct clerical errors or mistakes. shall not escape or innocence suffer.' Hence, the fiscal or public prosecutor
always assumes and retains full direction and control of the prosecution of
It is likewise procedurally impermissible for the trial court to grant private the case. The institution of a criminal action depends upon his sound
complainant's motion for reconsideration of its Decision. Section 1, Rule 121 discretion. He has the quasi-judicial discretion to determine whether or not a
of the same Rules provides: criminal case should be filed in court; whether a prima facie case exists to
sustain the filing of an Information; whether to include in the charge those
"SECTION 1. New trial or reconsideration. - At any time before a judgment of who appear to be responsible for the crime; whether to present such
conviction becomes final, the court may, on motion of the accused or at its evidence which he may consider necessary." (Emphasis ours)
own instance but with the consent of the accused, grant a new trial or
reconsideration. (1a)" (Emphasis ours) Finally, we agree with the petitioner that the assailed orders would violate his
constitutional right against double jeopardy.[19] Such right prohibits any
Since the motion for reconsideration of the judgment of conviction was not subsequent prosecution of any person for a crime of which he has previously
initiated by the accused (petitioner) or at the instance of the trial court with been acquitted or convicted. The objective is to set the effects of the first
his consent, the same should have been denied outright as being violative of prosecution forever at rest, assuring the accused that he shall not thereafter
the above provision. be subjected to the peril and anxiety of a second charge against him for the
same offense.[20]
At any rate, the records do not show any irregularity in the preliminary
investigation of the case before the Provincial Prosecutor's Office. The To invoke the defense of double jeopardy, the following requisites must be
motion for reconsideration filed by the private complainant questions the (1) present: (1) a valid complaint or information; (2) the court has jurisdiction to
alleged failure of the Provincial Prosecutor to appreciate the sworn try the case; (3) the accused has pleaded to the charge; and (4) he has been
statements of two prosecution witnesses implicating two other individuals in convicted or acquitted, or the case against him dismissed or otherwise
the commission of the crime; and the (2) downgrading by the Provincial terminated without his express consent.[21]
Prosecutor of the initial charge of murder to homicide. But the motion for
reconsideration itself reveals that the supposed vital information from two These requisites have been established. Records show that petitioner was
witnesses implicating two other persons in the crime "was deliberately charged with homicide in Criminal Case No. 2739 under a valid information
withheld by the said witnesses during the police investigation and the before the trial court which has jurisdiction over it. He was arraigned and
preliminary investigation conducted by the MCTC Judge and the Office of the pleaded guilty to the charge. On the basis of his plea, petitioner was
Provincial Prosecutor." Hence, the Provincial Prosecutor who reviewed the convicted and meted the corresponding penalty. As petitioner has been
records could not have possibly appreciated the alleged vital facts. Besides, placed in jeopardy for the crime of homicide, he cannot be prosecuted anew
the complainant did not appeal from the Provincial Prosecutor's finding of for the same offense, or any offense which necessarily includes or is
probable cause for the crime of homicide against petitioner. It bears necessarily included in the first offense charged.[22]
stressing at this point that the public prosecutor has the quasi-judicial
prerogative to determine what crime should be filed in court and who should WHEREFORE, the instant petition is hereby GRANTED. The assailed orders
be charged therefor. He always assumes and retains full discretion and dated May 3, 2000 and May 26, 2000 issued in Criminal Case No. 2739 by the
control of the prosecution of all criminal actions.[17] As held by this Court in trial court are SET ASIDE. Its Decision dated February 1, 2000 is REINSTATED.
People vs. Vergara:[18]
SO ORDERED.
"Section 5 of Rule 110 of the New Rules of Criminal Procedure expressly
Remedios Bermejo-Villaruz and the agreement of the heirs, and stated that
the administration of the new administrator was subject to them. No
13.Mendoza vs Ombudsman mention of the agreement was, however, made in the dispositive portion of
DECISION the order, which simply read:
MENDOZA, J.:
WHEREFORE, premises considered, for lack of merit, oppositors' Opposition
This is a petition for certiorari to annul the resolution, dated April 20, 2001, and Motion dated July 15, 1998 is denied, while action on petitioner's Motion
of the Office of the Ombudsman (Visayas), finding a prima facie case for to Approve Administrator's Bond dated July 1, 1998 is held in abeyance until
violation of 3(e) of R.A. No. 3019 (Anti-Graft and Corrupt Practices Act) and after petitioner submits to this Court, within ten (10) days from receipt of this
Art. 171 of the Revised Penal Code against petitioner Susan Mendoza-Arce, order, an updated certification from the Supreme Court to the effect that the
and the order, dated June 29, 2001, denying her motion for reconsideration. Philippine Phoenix Surety & Insurance, Inc. has no pending obligation and/
or liability to the government insofar as confiscated bonds in civil and
The facts are as follows: criminal cases are concerned.[7]

Respondent Santiago B. Villaruz is one of the oppositors in Special On October 12, 1998, Judge Sergio Pestao, to whom the case was in the
Proceeding Case No. V-6433, entitled "In the Matter of the Petition to meantime reassigned, approved the administrator's bond of respondent
Approve the Will of Remedios Bermejo-Villaruz, deceased, v. Nicolas P. Nicolas B. Villaruz, Jr. in an order which stated:
Villaruz."[1] The case, originally assigned to the Regional Trial Court (RTC),
Branch 15, Roxas City, of which Judge Roger B. Patricio was presiding judge, It appearing from the Certification issued by the Supreme Court that
was later re-assigned to Branch 19 of the same court, presided over by Judge Philippine Phoenix Surety and Insurance, Inc. has no pending obligation and/
(now Justice of the Court of Appeals) Sergio Pestao.[2] or liabilities to the government insofar as confiscated bonds in civil and
criminal cases are concerned, the Administrator's bond filed by petitioner
Respondent Santiago B. Villaruz was originally the administrator of the estate Nicolas B. Villaruz, is approved.
of his mother Remedios Bermejo Villaruz. However, in an order issued by the
trial court on June 10, 1998, he was removed as such for patent neglect of his Send copy of this Order to petitioner through his counsel, to the Clerk of
legal duties and failure to comply with the court orders. In his place, Court of this court, and to the oppositors through their counsel.[8]
respondent's eldest brother, Nicolas B. Villaruz, Jr., was appointed regular
administrator, "upon filing and approval by this Court of an Administrator's After receiving a copy of Judge Pestao's order, respondent Susan Mendoza-
Bond in the amount of fifty thousand pesos (P50,000.00)."[3] Arce, Clerk of Court VI of the Regional Trial Court of Roxas City, prepared a
Letter of Administration (LOA) which read:
In a motion, dated July 1, 1998, Nicolas filed a motion for the approval of his
bond, furnished by the Philippine Surety & Insurance, Inc., in the amount of KNOW ALL MEN BY THESE PRESENTS:
P50,000.00. Santiago and his brother Jose Ma. Villaruz opposed Nicolas' That by order of this Court dated October 12, 1998, issued by Honorable
motion and prayed that Jose Maria be instead appointed regular Sergio Pestao, Judge of the Regional Trial Court, Branch 19, Roxas City,
administrator.[4] Attached to their opposition was a certification, dated Nicolas B. Villaruz, Jr. has been appointed Administrator of the estate of
August 31, 1988, executed by their mother Remedios before she passed Remedios Bermejo-Villaruz, deceased, with full authority to take possession
away, authorizing Santiago to take possession of and/or to manage her nipa of all property/ies of said deceased in any province or provinces in which it
lands, which were then in his care, for a period of 20 years or during her may be situated and to perform all other acts necessary for the preservation
lifetime, whichever was longer. Remedios Bermejo-Villaruz also gave of said property, he having filed a bond satisfactory to the Court. Said
Santiago the option of leasing the properties for P120,000.00 a year plus land Administrator shall within three months from the date of this appointment
taxes.[5] The oppositors likewise submitted an agreement, dated February 6, return to the Court a true inventory and appraisal of the real and personal
1993, executed by the three children of Remedios Bermejo-Villaruz, in which estate of the deceased which have come into his possession or knowledge
they agreed to honor the lease until August 23, 2008.[6] and shall render a true and just account of his administration to the Court
within one year and at any other time when required by the Court.
In an order, dated September 22, 1998, Judge Patricio denied the oppositors'
opposition, while recognizing the validity of the certification executed by IN WITNESS WHEREOF, I sign and seal these presents in Roxas City,
Philippines, this 16th day of October 1998.
(sgd.) Susan Mendoza-Arce In her counter-affidavit, dated June 23, 1999, petitioner admitted issuing the
LOA in favor of Nicolas B. Villaruz, Jr. She claimed, however, that she acted in
(t)SUSAN MENDOZA-ARCE compliance with the order of Presiding Judge Sergio Pestao and that, in
preparing the LOA, she merely adopted the legal form prescribed in the
The LOA was based on the form prescribed in the Manual for Clerks of Court. Manual for Clerks of Court, which had been approved by this Court. She said
[9] Accordingly, on December 7, 1998, administrator Nicolas B. Villaruz, Jr., she issued the LOA "in line [with] my official functions which [are] ministerial
accompanied by three armed security guards and respondent's Deputy in nature and devoid of any bad faith and with manifest partiality."[15]
Sheriff Charles Aguiling, took possession of the entire estate of the decedent,
including the nipa lands which had been leased to respondent Santiago B. In a reply-affidavit, dated June 29, 1999, respondent Santiago B. Villaruz
Villaruz.[10] reiterated the arguments raised in his letter-complaint and asserted that
legal forms are mere guidelines in the preparation of legal documents and
This gave rise to the present action. In a letter-complaint to the Ombudsman, that respondent usurped the functions of the branch clerk of court when she
dated March 25, 1999, respondent Santiago B. Villaruz alleged that petitioner issued the LOA.[16]
committed two crimes in issuing the LOA, to wit:
In a resolution, dated April 20, 2001, Ricardo A. Rebollido, Graft Investigation
1. Falsification by a public officer under Article 171, par. 3 of the Revised Officer II, found probable cause against petitioner. Based on the affidavits
Penal Code, by "attributing to persons who have participated in an act or and counter-affidavits submitted by the parties, he found petitioner guilty of
proceeding statements other than those in fact made by them." the charge by making it appear that it was Judge Pestao, instead of Judge
Patricio, who had appointed Nicolas B. Villaruz as administrator, without
2. Corrupt practice in violation of 3(e) of the Anti-Graft and Corrupt regard to the lease agreement in favor of respondent Santiago B. Villaruz.
Practices Act (R.A. No. 3019) by "causing any undue injury to any party, The Graft Investigation Officer found that although petitioner's duties were
including the Government, or giving any private party any unwarranted ministerial, she should have read the order recognizing the lease. The
benefit, advantage or preference in the discharge of his official resolution concluded,
administrative or judicial functions through manifest partiality, evident bad
faith or gross inexcusable negligence."[11] All things considered, respondent [now petitioner Susan Mendoza-Arce] in
the discharge of her official administrative or judicial functions, through
Attached to his letter-complaint to the Ombudsman were affidavits executed manifest partiality, evident bad faith, or gross inexcusable negligence caused
by respondent Santiago B. Villaruz and his employees, namely, Teresita B. undue injury to complainant and gave unwarranted benefit, advantage or
Bechayda, Ramon Benliro, Jr., Garry B. Bonales, Romeo S. Bolante, and preference to Administrator Nicolas B. Villaruz, Jr. who has been the one
Sulpico B. Blanco.[12] In his affidavit, respondent accused petitioner of acting reaping the fruits and products of the said 120 hectares of nipa lands the
"with manifest partiality, evident bad faith and gross inexcusable negligence" fruits and products of which lawfully and rightfully belong to complainant as
by falsely attributing to Judge Pestao the appointment of Nicolas B. Villaruz lessee.
as new administrator and investing him with "full authority to take
possession of all property/ies" of the decedent, because the fact was that it WHEREFORE, premises considered, this Office finds a prima facie case
was Judge Patricio who had appointed Nicolas administrator of the estate against respondent ATTY. SUSAN MENDOZA-ARCE for violation of Section 3(e)
subject to the terms and conditions of the lease agreement in favor of of Republic Act 3019 otherwise known as the Anti-Graft & Corrupt Practices
respondent Santiago B. Villaruz. Respondent claimed that he had been Act, and for the crime of Falsification of Official Document under paragraph
deprived of income in the amount of P33,000.00 every week, as well as of the 3, Article 171 of the Revised Penal Code. Let the corresponding Informations
bancas and boats used in his business, as a result of the issuance of the be filed before the proper court.[17]
order in question.[13]
Petitioner moved for a reconsideration, maintaining that her official duties as
In her report, dated May 13, 1999, Graft Investigation Officer Estrela Alma A. a clerk of court were ministerial in nature and that she merely tried to
Singco stated that "the allegations in the complaint warrant further comply with the dispositive portion of orders and decisions of the trial court.
investigation" and recommended that petitioner be ordered to file her She pointed out that neither the order, dated June 10, 1998, nor the order,
counter-affidavit.[14] dated September 22, 1998, issued by Judge Patricio mentioned the lease of
nipa lands and that it was only in the text of the order, dated September 22, Coming now to the merits, we find the petition meritorious.
1998, that said lease was referred to. In discharging her official duties, she
argued, she could not be guilty of manifest partiality, evident bad faith, or To begin with, in Posadas v. Ombudsman,[22] we held: "The rule, of course, is
gross inexcusable negligence, as asserted by complainant.[18] that a criminal prosecution cannot be enjoined. But as has been held,
infinitely more important than conventional adherence to general rules of
In an order, dated June 29, 2001, the Graft Investigation Officer found "no criminal procedure is respect for the citizen's right to be free not only from
new matters or issues raised therein which would justify the reversal or arbitrary arrest and punishment but also from unwarranted and vexatious
modification of our earlier findings," and held that in any event "the grounds prosecution." In that case, the Ombudsman ordered the prosecution of
relied by respondent are evidentiary matters which could well be ventilated certain officials of the University of the Philippines in Diliman, Quezon City
before the court of justice." Hence, this petition. for preventing the National Bureau of Investigation from arresting without
warrants student-suspects in the killing of a fraternity member. The question
We first dispose of a procedural issue raised by respondent Santiago B. was whether there was probable cause for violation of P.D. No. 1829, which
Villaruz. In his Comment, dated October 12, 2001, respondent invokes Rule makes it unlawful for anyone to obstruct the apprehension and prosecution
65, 4 of the 1997 Rules of Civil Procedure and contends that the petition of criminal offenders. The Court found none and enjoined the Ombudsman
for certiorari in this case should have been filed in the Court of Appeals. This and his agents from prosecuting the U.P. officials. The attempted arrest was
provision states in pertinent parts: declared illegal and petitioners to be simply protecting the rights of the
students.
SEC. 4. When and where petition filed.- The petition shall be filed not later
than sixty (60) days from notice of the judgment, order or resolution. In case Indeed, while this Court's policy is one of non-interference in the conduct of
a motion for reconsideration or new trial is timely filed, whether such motion preliminary investigations, leaving the investigating officers with a latitude of
is required or not, the sixty (60) day period shall be counted from notice of discretion in the determination of probable cause,[23] nonetheless
the denial of said motion. exceptions to the general rule have been recognized, to wit:

The petition shall be filed in the Supreme Court or, if it relates to the acts or 1. When necessary to afford adequate protection to the constitutional rights
omissions of a lower court or of a corporation, board, officer or person, in of the accused;
the Regional Trial Court exercising jurisdiction over the territorial area as 2. When necessary for the orderly administration of justice or to avoid
defined by the Supreme Court. It may also be filed in the Court of Appeals oppression or multiplicity of actions;
whether or not the same is in aid of its appellate jurisdiction. If it involves the 3. When there is a prejudicial question which is sub judice;
acts or omissions of a quasi-judicial agency, unless otherwise provided by 4. When the acts of the officer are without or in excess of authority;
law or these rules, the petition shall be filed in and cognizable only by the 5. Where the prosecution is under an invalid law, ordinance or regulation;
Court of Appeals. 6. When double jeopardy is clearly apparent;
7. Where the court has no jurisdiction over the offense;
No extension of time to file the petition shall be granted except for 8. Where it is a case of persecution rather than prosecution;
compelling reason and in no case exceeding fifteen (15) days. 9. Where the charges are manifestly false and motivated by the lust for
vengeance;
The contention has no merit. In Tirol, Jr. v. del Rosario,[19] we held that 10. When there is clearly no prima facie case against the accused and a
although as a consequence of the decision in Fabian v. Desierto[20] appeals motion to quash on that ground has been denied.[24]
from the orders, directives, or decisions of the Ombudsman in administrative
cases are now cognizable by the Court of Appeals, nevertheless in cases in In this case, we hold that the Office of the Ombudsman (Visayas) acted
which it is alleged that the Ombudsman has acted with grave abuse of without or in excess of its authority when it ordered the filing of informations
discretion amounting to lack or excess of jurisdiction, a special civil action of against petitioner for violation of R.A. No. 3019, 3(e) and the Revised Penal
certiorari under Rule 65 may be filed in this Court to set aside the Code, Art. 171, par. 3, despite the absence of probable cause, defined as
Ombudsman's order or resolution. In Kuizon v. Desierto,[21] we again held such ground as engenders a well-founded belief that a crime has been
that this Court has jurisdiction over petitions for certiorari questioning committed and the respondent is probably guilty thereof, warranting the
resolutions or orders of the Office of the Ombudsman in criminal cases. filing of the case in court.[25]
First. Petitioner Arce allegedly violated 3 (e) of Republic Act No. 3019 by duty in preparing the letter of administration based on the dispositive
including the phrase "with full authority to take possession of all property/ies portions of the orders dated September 22, 1998 and October 12, 1998. She
of said deceased in any province or provinces in which it may be situated . . ." merely copied substantially the form for letters of administration prescribed
in the LOA she prepared in Special Proceeding Case No. V-6433. This in the Manual for Clerks of Courts. The LOA may not be accurate for lack of
provision states: reference to the lease agreement in favor of respondent Santiago B. Villaruz,
but it cannot be said with certainty that she acted either with gross
SEC. 3. Corrupt Practices of Public Officers. In addition to acts or negligence or from some corrupt motive. The fact is that, instead of
omissions of public officers already penalized by existing law, the following employing her own words, she used phrases in the Manual prescribed by this
shall constitute corrupt practices of any public officer and are hereby Court.
declared to be unlawful: ....
Second. The Office of the Ombudsman (Visayas) found a prima facie case for
(e) Causing any undue injury to any party, including the Government, or falsification under Article 171, par. 3 of the Revised Penal Code against
giving any private party any unwarranted benefits, advantage or preference petitioner because she stated in the letter of administration that Nicolas B.
in the discharge of his official, administrative or judicial functions through Villaruz, Jr. had been appointed administrator by Judge Sergio Pestao when
manifest partiality, evident bad faith or gross inexcusable negligence. This what the latter did was to approve the administrator's bond.
provision shall apply to officers and employees of offices or government
corporations charged with the grant of licenses or permits or other We disagree with the Ombudsman's findings. Art. 171, par. 3 of the Revised
concessions. Penal Code provides:

The elements of the offense are: Falsification by public officer, employee, or notary or ecclesiastical minister.
1. That the accused are public officers or private persons charged in The penalty of prision mayor and a fine not to exceed 5,000 pesos shall
conspiracy with them; be imposed upon any public officer, employee, or notary who, taking
2. That said public officers committed the prohibited acts during the advantage of his official position, shall falsify a document by committing any
performance of their official duties or in relation to their public positions; of the following acts:
3. That they caused undue injury to any party, whether the Government or a
private party; ....
4. That such injury is caused by giving unwarranted benefits, advantage or
preference to such parties; and 3. Attributing to persons who have participated in an act or proceeding
5. That the public officers have acted with manifest partiality, evident bad statements other than those in fact made by them.
faith or gross inexcusable negligence.[26]
Criminal intent must be shown in felonies committed by means of dolo, such
These elements must all be proven.[27] In this case, there is no basis for the as falsification.[30] In this case, there is no reasonable ground to believe that
finding that in issuing the LOA in question petitioner acted with "partiality," the requisite criminal intent or mens rea was present. Petitioner prepared
or bias which excites a disposition to see and report matters as they are the letter of administration on the basis of the order of Judge Pestao, dated
wished for rather than as they are, with "bad faith," which connotes not only October 12, 1998, approving the administrator's bond filed by Nicolas B.
bad judgment or negligence but also a dishonest purpose or conscious Villaruz, Jr. By the approval of his bond, Nicolas B. Villaruz, Jr. qualified as
wrongdoing, a breach of duty amounting to fraud, nor with "gross administrator so that in a sense, therefore, the statement in the letter of
negligence," which is negligence characterized by the want of even slight administration "[t]hat by order of this Court dated October 12, 1998, issued
care, acting or omitting to act in a situation where there is a duty to act, not by Honorable Sergio Pestao, Judge of the Regional Trial Court, Branch 19,
inadvertently but willfully and intentionally, with a conscious indifference to Roxas City, Nicolas B. Villaruz, Jr. has been appointed Administrator of the
consequences as far as other persons are concerned.[28] estate of Remedios Bermejo-Villaruz, deceased" is correct. There was nothing
willful or felonious in petitioner's act warranting her prosecution for
The Manual for Clerks of Court describes the clerk of court as "an officer of falsification.
the Court, a public officer, and an 'officer of the law,' [although] the position
is not that of a judicial officer, nor is it synonymous with the Court. . . . The WHEREFORE, the petition is GRANTED and the resolution dated April 20,
office is essentially a ministerial one."[29] Petitioner performed a ministerial 2001, of the Graft Investigation Officer, as approved by the Office of the
Ombudsman, and his order, dated June 29, 2001, are hereby SET ASIDE and
the complaint of respondent Santiago B. Villaruz against petitioner Susan
Mendoza-Arce for violation of R.A. No. 3019, 3(e) and for falsification
committed by a public officer under Art. 171 of the Revised Penal Code is
DISMISSED.

SO ORDERED.
14.People vs Garfin
CONTRARY TO LAW.
DECISION
PUNO, J: Legazpi City for Naga City. 22 June 2001.

For determination in this petition is a question in procedural law - - - whether (sgd.) ROMULO SJ. TOLENTINO
an information filed by a state prosecutor without the prior written authority State Prosecutor
or approval of the city or provincial prosecutor or chief state prosecutor Special Prosecutor on SSS Cases
should be dismissed after the accused has entered his plea under the in Region V[3]
information.
The information contains a certification signed by State Prosecutor Romulo
Petitioner comes before us with a petition for certiorari and mandamus SJ. Tolentino which states:
under Rule 65 of the Revised Rules of Court, seeking to declare as null and
void the Orders issued by the Regional Trial Court of Naga City, Branch 19 I hereby certify that the required investigation in this case has been
dated February 26, 2002[1] and April 3, 2002[2] which dismissed for lack of conducted by the undersigned Special Prosecutor in accordance with law and
jurisdiction the case of People vs. Serafin Saballegue, Criminal Case No. RTC under oath as officer of the court, that there is reasonable ground to believe
2001-0597, and denied petitioner's motion for reconsideration. that the offense has been committed, that the accused is probably guilty
thereof and that the filing of the information is with the prior authority and
The antecedent facts are undisputed. approval of the Regional State Prosecutor.[4]

On June 22, 2001, private respondent was charged with violation of Section The case was raffled to Branch 19 of the Regional Trial Court of Naga City
22(a) in relation to Sections 19(b) and 28(e) of Republic Act No. 8282, presided by respondent judge Hon. Zeida Aurora B. Garfin. On September
otherwise known as the "Social Security Act," in an information which reads: 24, 2001, accused Serafin Saballegue pleaded not guilty to the charge and the
case was set for pre-trial.[5] Three days thereafter, the accused filed a motion
The undersigned State Prosecutor of the Office of the Regional State to dismiss[6] on the ground that the information was filed without the prior
Prosecutor, Legazpi City, accuses SERAFIN SABALLEGUE, as proprietor of written authority or approval of the city prosecutor as required under
Saballegue Printing Press with business address at 16 San Mateo St., Section 4, Rule 112 of the Revised Rules of Court.[7]
Peafrancia Ave., Naga City for Violation of Section 22(a) in relation to
Sections 19(b) and 28(e) of R.A. 8282 otherwise known as the Social Security The People, through State Prosecutor Tolentino, filed an opposition,[8]
Act of 1997, committed as follows: against which the accused filed a rejoinder.[9] The People filed a reply to the
rejoinder[10] on December 21, 2001. A rejoinder to the reply[11] was filed by
That on or about February 1990 and up to the present, in the City of Naga, the accused on January 21, 2002.
Philippines, within the functional jurisdiction of SSS Naga Branch and the
territorial jurisdiction of this Honorable Court, the above named accused, After considering the arguments raised, the trial court granted the motion to
while being the proprietor of Saballegue Printing Press, did then and there dismiss in its first questioned Order dated February 26, 2002, to wit:
willfully, unlawfully, and criminally refuse and fail and continuously refuse
and fail to remit the premiums due for his employee to the SSS in the After considering the respective arguments raised by the parties, the Court
amount of SIX THOUSAND FIVE HUNDRED THIRTY-THREE PESOS (P6,533.00), believes and so resolves that the Information has not been filed in
Philippine Currency, representing SSS and EC premiums for the period from accordance with Section 4, par. 3 of Rule 112 of the 2000 Rules on Criminal
January 1990 to December 1999 (n.i.), and the 3% penalty per month for late Procedure, thus:
remittance in the amount of ELEVEN THOUSAND ONE HUNDRED FORTY-
THREE PESOS and 28/100 (P11,143.28) computed as of 15 March 2000, 'Rule 112, Section 4 x x x x x x
despite lawful demands by letter in violation of the above-cited provisions of
the law, to the damage and prejudice of the SSS and the public in general. No complaint or information may be filed or dismissed by an investigating
prosecutor without the prior written authority or approval of the provincial
or city prosecutor or chief state prosecutor or the Ombudsman or his
deputy.'
NOTATION: The herein City/Provincial Prosecutor is inhibiting from this case
Expresio unius est exclusio alterius. and the Special Prosecution Team on SSS Cases in Region V is authorized to
dispose of the case without my approval in view of the request for inhibition
The Information will readily show that it has not complied with this rule as it of the SSS Regional Manager as granted by the Regional State Prosecutor.
has not been approved by the City Prosecutor.
A perusal of the Information, however, would readily show that nowhere in
This Court holds that the defendant's plea to the Information is not a waiver the Information has the City Prosecutor of Naga City appended the above-
to file a motion to dismiss or to quash on the ground of lack of jurisdiction. quoted notation/inhibition. At most, the authority of the special prosecutor is
By express provision of the rules and by a long line of decisions, questions of only for the conduct of preliminary investigations and the prosecution of
want of jurisdiction may be raised at any stage of the proceedings (People vs. cases after they are filed. The Court, however, believes that the filing of this
Eduarte, 182 SCRA 750). Information must be in conformity with the Rules on Criminal Procedure,
particularly Section 4 of Rule 112.
The Supreme Court in Villa vs. Ibaez (88 Phil 402) dwelt on lack of authority
of the officer who filed the information and on jurisdiction at the same time, WHEREFORE, premises considered and for lack of jurisdiction, the Court
pertinent portions run as follows: hereby resolves to DISMISS this case without pronouncement as to cost.

The defendant had pleaded to the information before he filed a motion to SO ORDERED.[12]
quash, and it is contended that by his plea he waived all objections to the
information. The contention is correct as far as formal objections to the A motion for reconsideration was filed by the People contending that as a
pleadings are concerned. But by clear implication, if not by express provision special prosecutor designated by the regional state prosecutor to handle SSS
of section 10 of Rule 113 of the Rules of Court, and by a long line of uniform cases within Region V, State Prosecutor Tolentino is authorized to file
decisions, questions of want of jurisdiction may be raised at any stage of the the information involving violations of the SSS law without need of prior
proceedings. Now, the objection to the respondent's actuations goes to the approval from the city prosecutor. [13] Letters of commendation from Chief
very foundations of jurisdiction. It is a valid information signed by a State Prosecutor Jovencito Zuo[14] and Secretary Hernando Perez[15] were
competent officer which, among other requisites, confers jurisdiction on the offered as proof to show that State Prosecutor Tolentino's authority to file
court over the person of the accused and the subject matter of the the information was recognized. In response, the defense pointed out in its
accusation. In consonance with this view, an infirmity of the nature noted in opposition that the motion for reconsideration lacked a notice of hearing,
the information cannot be cured by silence, acquiescence, or even by hence it is pro forma or a mere scrap of paper. [16]
express consent.
On April 3, 2002, respondent judge issued the second questioned Order
Prosecutor Tolentino also contends that having been duly designated to which reads:
assist the City Prosecutor in the investigation and prosecution of all SSS cases
by the Regional State prosecutor as alter ego of the Secretary of Justice in Acting upon the Motion for Reconsideration filed by State Prosecutor Romulo
Region V, then that authority may be given to other than the City Prosecutor. SJ. Tolentino, Special Prosecutor on SSS cases in Region V, and it appearing
The Court finds this contention to be devoid of merit. The Regional State that the same has failed to comply with the requirement of notice prescribed
Prosecutor is not the alter ego of the Secretary of Justice but a mere in Sections 4 and 5, Rule 15 of the Rules of Court, the same is hereby DENIED
subordinate official and if ever the former files cases, it is by virtue of a for being a mere scrap of paper.
delegated authority by the Secretary of Justice. Potestas delegada non
potesta delegare (sic) - what has been delegated cannot be redelegated. SO ORDERED.[17]

In his opposition, the state prosecutor also attached a memorandum dated Hence, this petition by the People through Regional State Prosecutor
June 22, 2001 by Regional State Prosecutor Santiago M. Turingan addressed Santiago Turingan and State Prosecutor Romulo SJ. Tolentino. Petitioner
to Provincial Prosecutor and City Prosecutors of Region V directing them to attributes grave abuse of discretion amounting to lack or excess of
inhibit and to append the following NOTATION after the certification in the jurisdiction on the part of respondent judge, viz:[18]
Information for filing.
1. RESPONDENT JUDGE DISMISSED THE INFORMATION WITHOUT THE
REQUIRED SUPPORTING FACTUAL AND LEGAL BASES; The reckoning date is the receipt of the second questioned Order and not the
receipt of the first. Section 4, Rule 65, as amended by En Banc Resolution
2. RESPONDENT JUDGE DELIBERATELY AND CAPRICIOUSLY IGNORED THE A.M. No. 00-2-03-SC, September 1, 2000, provides, viz:
PRESUMPTION OF REGULARITY IN FAVOR OF THE PROSECUTION WITHOUT
THE REQUIRED SUFFICIENCY OF REBUTTAL EVIDENCE. THE WORD "MAY" IN Sec. 4. When and where petition filed.-- The petition may be filed not later
SEC. 4, RULE 112 OF THE RULES OF COURT IS NOT MANDATORY; than sixty (60) days from notice of the judgment, order or resolution. In case
a motion for reconsideration or new trial is timely filed, whether such motion
3. RESPONDENT JUDGE COMMITTED GRAVE ERROR IN DELIBERATELY is required or not, the sixty (60)- day period shall be counted from notice of
IGNORING THE JUDICIALLY KNOWN INHIBITION OF THE CITY PROSECUTOR the denial of said motion.
AND THE SETTLED JURISPRUDENCE ON THE MATTER;
xxxxxxxxx
4. RESPONDENT JUDGE GRAVELY ABUSED HER DISCRETION IN INTERFERING
WITH THE PURELY EXECUTIVE FUNCTION OF FILING AN INFORMATION BY As shown by the records, petitioner received the first questioned order dated
RULING ON THE AUTHORITY OF THE FILING OFFICER TO FILE THE February 26, 2002 on March 14, 2002.[23] A motion for reconsideration was
INFORMATION. timely filed on April 1, 2002[24] which was dismissed for lack of notice of
hearing in an Order dated April 3, 2002.[25] This second questioned order
The Office of the Solicitor General (OSG) filed its comment[19] in compliance was received by petitioner on April 11, 2002.[26] A motion for extension of
with this Court's Resolution dated September 23, 2002.[20] It opines that the time to file a petition for review on certiorari was filed on April 18, 2002.[27]
dismissal of the information is mandated under Section 4, Rule 112 of the A motion for leave to file and admit the instant petition for certiorari and
Rules of Criminal Procedure. mandamus was filed on May 29, 2002.[28] Having been filed within the
reglementary period, petitioner's motion for leave to file the instant petition
Private respondent contends that:[21] 1) the instant petition was filed out of was granted in this Court's Resolution dated July 15, 2002.[29]
time; 2) the special State Prosecutor is only authorized to conduct
preliminary investigation and prosecution of SSS cases and not to sign the We now come to the other issue: whether the prior written authority and
information; and 3) the City Prosecutor did not expressly inhibit himself from approval of the city or provincial prosecutor or chief state prosecutor is
handling SSS cases nor signing the information. necessary in filing the information at bar.

We shall first resolve the procedural issues. Respondent contends that the Petitioner takes the unbending view that the approval of the city or provincial
motion for reconsideration filed on April 1, 2002 is late because it was filed prosecutor is no longer required. It is contended that the Regional State
eighteen days after March 14, 2002, the date when petitioner received the Prosecutor has already directed the city or provincial prosecutor to inhibit
first questioned order. Respondent has overlooked that the 15th day after from handling SSS cases.[30] Petitioner cites the letter of Regional State
March 14 is a Good Friday. Hence, petitioner's last day to file the motion for Prosecutor Santiago M. Turingan to SSS Regional Director in Naga City dated
reconsideration was on the next working day after Good Friday, April 1.[22] June 6, 1997[31] and copies of Regional Orders No. 97-024-A[32] and 2001-
033[33] dated July 14, 1997 and September 28, 2001, respectively, showing
Next, respondent argues that having been considered as a mere scrap of the designation of State Prosecutor Tolentino as special prosecutor for SSS
paper, the motion for reconsideration of the petitioner did not toll the cases in Region V. Petitioner relies on Galvez, et al. v. Court of Appeals, et al.
running of the reglementary period. Respondent, however, erroneously [34] and Sanchez v. Demetriou, et al.[35] to prop up its contention that given
assumes that the present case is an appeal by certiorari under Rule 45. As the designation of State Prosecutor Tolentino, the city prosecutor need not
stated at the outset, this is an original petition for certiorari and mandamus participate in the filing and prosecution of the information in the case at bar.
under Rule 65.
We disagree. Under Presidential Decree No. 1275, the powers of a Regional
Sec. 2, Rule 37 of the Rules of Court is clear. It provides that "(a) pro forma State Prosecutor are as follows:
motion for new trial or reconsideration shall not toll the reglementary period
of appeal." (emphases supplied) Hence, the same provision has no Sec. 8. The Regional State Prosecution Office: Functions of Regional State
application in the case at bar. Prosecutor. - The Regional State Prosecutor shall, under the control of the
Secretary of Justice, have the following functions: The Regional State Prosecutor is clearly vested only with the power of
administrative supervision. As administrative supervisor, he has no power to
a) Implement policies, plans, programs, memoranda, orders, circulars and direct the city and provincial prosecutors to inhibit from handling certain
rules and regulations of the Department of Justice relative to the cases. At most, he can request for their inhibition. Hence, the said directive
investigation and prosecution of criminal cases in his region. of the regional state prosecutor to the city and provincial prosecutors is
b) Exercise immediate administrative supervision over all provincial and city questionable to say the least.
fiscals and other prosecuting officers of provinces and cities comprised
within his region. Petitioner cannot lean on the cases of Galvez and Sanchez. In those cases,
c) Prosecute any case arising within the region. the special prosecutors were acting under the directive of the Secretary of
d) With respect to his regional office and the offices of the provincial and city Justice. They were appointed in accordance with law. Nowhere in P.D. No.
fiscals within his region, he shall: 1275 is the regional state prosecutor granted the power to appoint a special
prosecutor armed with the authority to file an information without the prior
1) Appoint such member of subordinate officers and employees as may be written authority or approval of the city or provincial prosecutor or chief
necessary; and approve transfers of subordinate personnel within the state prosecutor. P.D. No. 1275 provides the manner by which special
jurisdiction of the regional office. prosecutors are appointed, to wit:

2) Investigate administrative complaints against fiscals and other prosecuting Sec. 15. Special Counsels. - Whenever the exigencies of the service require
officers within his region and submit his recommendation thereon to the the creation of positions of additional counsel to assist provincial and city
Secretary of Justice who shall, after review thereof, submit the appropriate fiscals in the discharge of their duties, positions of Special Counsels may be
recommendation to the Office of the President: Provided, that where the created by any province or city, subject to the approval of the Secretary of
Secretary of Justice finds insufficient grounds for the filing of charges, he may Justice, and with salaries chargeable against provincial or city funds. The
render a decision of dismissal thereof. Secretary of Justice shall appoint said Special Counsels, upon
recommendation of the provincial or city fiscal and regional state
3) Investigate administrative complaints against subordinate personnel of prosecutors concerned, either on permanent or temporary basis.
the region and submit his recommendations thereon to the Secretary of
Justice who shall have the authority to render decision thereon. (emphases Special Counsel shall be appointed from members of the bar and shall be
supplied) allowed not more than the salary rate provided in this Decree for the lowest
rank or grade of assistant fiscal in the province or city where assigned.
The power of administrative supervision is limited to "the authority of the (emphases supplied)
department or its equivalent to generally oversee the operations of such
agencies and to insure that they are managed effectively, efficiently and Under Department Order No. 318,[38] "Defining the authority, duties and
economically but without interference with day-to-day activities; or require responsibilities of regional state prosecutors," then Acting Secretary of
the submission of reports and cause the conduct of management audit, Justice Silvestre H. Bello III ordered the appointed regional state prosecutors
performance evaluation and inspection to determine compliance with (which included Regional State Prosecutor Turingan for Region V) to, among
policies, standards and guidelines of the department; to take such action as others, "(i)nvestigate and/or prosecute, upon the directive of the Secretary of
may be necessary for the proper performance of official functions, including Justice, specific criminal cases filed within the region." (emphasis supplied)
rectification of violations, abuses and other forms of maladministration; and
to review and pass upon budget proposals of such agencies but may not In the case at bar, there is no pretense that a directive was issued by the
increase or add to them."[36] This is distinguished from the power of Secretary of Justice to Regional State Prosecutor Turingan to investigate
"supervision and control" which includes the authority "to act directly and/or prosecute SSS cases filed within his territorial jurisdiction. A bare
whenever a specific function is entrusted by law or regulation to a reading of the alleged letter of commendation by then Secretary Hernando
subordinate; direct the performance of duty; restrain the commission of acts; Perez would show that it does not amount to a directive or even a
review, approve, reverse or modify acts and decisions of subordinate officials recognition of this authority. In fact, while the letter of Secretary Perez
or units; determine priorities in the execution of plans and programs; and commends the efforts of Regional State Prosecutor Turingan in successfully
prescribe standards, guidelines, plans and programs."[37] prosecuting SSS cases, it also negates his authority to prosecute them.
Secretary Perez called the Regional State Prosecutor's attention to DOJ
Circular No. 27, series of 2001, which states that all important cases of the (e) That it does not conform substantially to the prescribed form;
SSS should be referred to the Office of the Government Corporate Counsel. (f) That more than one offense is charged except when a single punishment
[39] Thus, Regional State Prosecutor Turingan cannot be considered a special for various offenses is prescribed by law;
prosecutor within the meaning of the law. (g) That the criminal action or liability has been extinguished;
(h) That it contains averments which, if true, would constitute a legal excuse
Petitioner argues that the word "may" is permissive. Hence, there are cases or justification; and
when prior written approval is not required, and this is one such instance.
This is too simplistic an interpretation. Whether the word "may" is (i) That the accused has been previously convicted or acquitted of the offense
mandatory or directory depends on the context of its use. We agree with the charged, or the case against him was dismissed or otherwise terminated
OSG that the use of the permissive word "may" should be read together with without his express consent.
the other provisions in the same section of the Rule. The paragraph
immediately preceding the quoted provision shows that the word "may" is xxx xxx xxx
mandatory. It states:
Section 9. Failure to move to quash or to allege any ground therefor.-The
Sec. 4, Rule 112. - x x x failure of the accused to assert any ground of a motion to quash before he
pleads to the complaint or information, either because he did not file a
Within five (5) days from his resolution, he (investigating prosecutor) shall motion to quash or failed to allege the same in said motion, shall be deemed
forward the record of the case to the provincial or city prosecutor or chief a waiver of any objections except those based on the grounds provided for in
state prosecutor, or to the Ombudsman or his deputy in cases of offenses paragraphs (a), (b), (g), and (i) of section 3 of this Rule. (emphasis supplied)
cognizable by the Sandiganbayan in the exercise of its original jurisdiction.
They shall act on the resolution within ten (10) days from their receipt Rule 112, Section 4, paragraph 3 provides, viz:
thereof and shall immediately inform the parties of such action. (emphasis
supplied) No complaint or information may be filed or dismissed by an investigating
prosecutor without the prior written authority or approval of the provincial
Having settled that the prior authority and approval of the city, provincial or or city prosecutor or chief state prosecutor or the Ombudsman or his
chief state prosecutor should have been obtained, we shall now resolve the deputy. (emphasis supplied)
more important issue: whether the lack of prior written approval of the city,
provincial or chief state prosecutor in the filing of an information is a defect Private respondent and the OSG take the position that the lack of prior
in the information that is waived if not raised as an objection before authority or approval by the city or provincial prosecutor or chief state
arraignment. prosecutor is an infirmity in the information that prevented the court from
acquiring jurisdiction over the case. Since lack of jurisdiction is a defect that
We hold that it is not. may be raised as an objection anytime even after arraignment, the
respondent judge did not err in granting the motion to dismiss based on this
The provisions in the 2000 Revised Rules of Criminal Procedure that demand ground. As basis, they cite the case of Villa v. Ibaez, et al.[40] where we
illumination are Sections 3 and 9 of Rule 117 in relation to paragraph 3, held, viz:
Section 4 of Rule 112, to wit:
The defendant had pleaded to an information before he filed a motion to
Rule 117, Section 3. Grounds.-The accused may move to quash the complaint quash, and it is contended that by his plea he waived all objections to the
or information on any of the following grounds: informations. The contention is correct as far as formal objections to the
pleadings are concerned. But by clear implication, if not by express provision
(a) That the facts charged do not constitute an offense; of section 10 of Rule 113 of the Rules of Court (now Section 9 of Rule 117),
(b) That the court trying the case has no jurisdiction over the offense and by a long line of uniform decisions, questions of want of jurisdiction may
charged; be raised at any stage of the proceeding. Now, the objection to the
(c) That the court trying the case has no jurisdiction over the person of the respondent's actuations goes to the very foundation of the jurisdiction. It is a
accused; valid information signed by a competent officer which, among other
(d) That the officer who filed the information had no authority to do so; requisites, confers jurisdiction on the court over the person of the accused
and the subject matter of the accusation. In consonance with this view, an General.[45]
infirmity in the information cannot be cured by silence, acquiescence, or
even by express consent.[41] (emphasis supplied) We held, viz:

The case of Villa is authority for the principle that lack of authority on the Appointments by the Secretary of Justice in virtue of the foregoing provisions
part of the filing officer prevents the court from acquiring jurisdiction over of the Revised Administrative Code, as amended, were upheld in Lo Cham vs.
the case. Jurisdiction over the subject matter is conferred by law while Ocampo et al., 44 Official Gazette, 458, and Go Cam et al., vs. Gatmaitan et
jurisdiction over the case is invested by the act of plaintiff and attaches upon al., (47 Official Gazette, 5092). But in those cases, the appointees were
the filing of the complaint or information.[42] Hence, while a court may have officials or employees in one or another of the bureaus or offices under the
jurisdiction over the subject matter, like a violation of the SSS Law, it does Department of Justice, and were rightly considered subordinates in the office
not acquire jurisdiction over the case itself until its jurisdiction is invoked of the Secretary of Justice within the meaning of section 1686, ante.
with the filing of the information.
The case at bar does not come within the rationale of the above decisions.
In the United States, an information has been held as a jurisdictional Attorney Subido is a regular officer or employee in the Department of
requirement upon which a defendant stands trial. Thus, it has been ruled Interior, more particularly in the City Mayor's office. For this reason, he
that in the absence of probable cause, the court lacks jurisdiction to try the belongs to the class of persons disqualified for appointment to the post of
criminal offense.[43] In our jurisdiction, we have similarly held that: special counsel.

While the choice of the court where to bring an action, where there are two That to be eligible as special counsel to aid a fiscal the appointee must be
or more courts having concurrent jurisdiction thereon, is a matter of either an employee or officer in the Department of Justice is so manifest
procedure and not jurisdiction, as suggested by appellant, the moment such from a bare reading of section 1686 of the Revised Administrative Code as to
choice has been exercised, the matter becomes jurisdictional. Such choice is preclude construction. And the limitation of the range of choice in the
deemed made when the proper complaint or information is filed with the appointment or designation is not without reason.
court having jurisdiction over the crime, and said court acquires jurisdiction
over the person of the defendant, from which time the right and power of The obvious reason is to have appointed only lawyers over whom the
the court to try the accused attaches. (citations omitted) It is not for the Secretary of Justice can exercise exclusive and absolute power of supervision.
defendant to exercise that choice, which is lodged upon those who may An appointee from a branch of the government outside the Department of
validly file or subscribe to the complaint or information under sections 2 and Justice would owe obedience to, and be subject to orders by, mutually
3 of Rule 106 of the Rules of Court. [44] (emphasis supplied) independent superiors having, possibly, antagonistic interests. Referring
particularly to the case at hand for illustration, Attorney Subido could be
A closer look at Villa would be useful in resolving the issue at hand. In that recalled or his time and attention be required elsewhere by the Secretary of
case, Atty. Abelardo Subido, Chief of the Division of Investigation in the Interior or the City Mayor while he was discharging his duties as public
Office of the Mayor of Manila, was appointed by the Secretary of Justice as prosecutor, and the Secretary of Justice would be helpless to stop such recall
special counsel to assist the City Fiscal of Manila in the cases involving city or interference. An eventuality or state of affairs so undesirable, not to say
government officials or employees. Pursuant to his appointment, Atty. detrimental to the public service and specially the administration of justice,
Subido filed an information against Pedro Villa for falsification of a payroll. the Legislature wisely intended to avoid.
Atty. Subido's authority to file the information was challenged on the ground
that he was disqualified for appointment under Section 1686 of the Revised The application of the 1951 Villa ruling is not confined to instances where the
Administrative Code, as amended by Section 4 of Commonwealth Act No. person who filed the information is disqualified from being a special
144, to wit: prosecutor under Section 1686 of the Revised Administrative Code, as
amended, but has been extended to various cases where the information
SEC. 1686. Additional counsel to assist fiscal. - The Secretary of Justice may was filed by an unauthorized officer as in the case at bar. In Cruz, Jr. v.
appoint any lawyer, being either a subordinate from his office or a Sandiganbayan, et al.,[46] the Court held that it is a fundamental principle
competent person not in the public service, temporarily to assist a fiscal or that when on its face the information is null and void for lack of authority to
prosecuting attorney in the discharge of his duties, and with the same file the same, it cannot be cured nor resurrected by amendment. In that
authority therein as might be exercised by the Attorney General or Solicitor case, the Presidential Commission on Good Government (PCGG) conducted
an investigation and filed an information with the Sandiganbayan against if the filing officer lacks authority to file the information, jurisdiction is not
petitioner Roman Cruz, Jr. charging him with graft and corruption. The conferred on the court and this infirmity cannot be cured by silence or
petitioner sought to quash the information on the ground that the crime waiver, acquiescence, or even by express consent.
charged did not constitute a "Marcos crony related crime" over which the
PCGG had authority to investigate and file an information. The Court found The 1940 Rules of Court was amended in 1964. With only minimal changes
that the crime alleged in the information was not among those which PCGG introduced, the 1964 Rules of Court contained provisions on unauthorized
was authorized to investigate under Executive Orders No. 1 and 14 of then filing of information similar to the above provisions of the 1940 Rules.[53]
President Corazon Aquino and ruled that the information was null and void.
Of similar import is Romualdez v. Sandiganbayan, et al.[47] where we ruled Then came the 1985 Rules of Criminal Procedure. Lack of authority of the
that the information having been filed by an unauthorized party (the PCGG), officer who filed the information was also a ground for a motion to quash
the information was fatally flawed. We noted that this defect is not a mere under these rules. The 1985 Rules also provided for waiver of the grounds
remediable defect of form, but a defect that could not be cured. for a motion to quash under Rule 117, Section 8, but enumerated the
following exceptions to the waiver: (a) the facts charged do not constitute an
In Cudia v. Court of Appeals, et al.,[48] we also reiterated the Villa ruling. The offense; (b) the court trying the case has no jurisdiction over the offense
accused in that case was apprehended in Mabalacat, Pampanga for illegal charged or the person of the accused; (c) the criminal action or liability has
possession of firearms and was brought to Angeles City where the been extinguished; and (d) the accused has been previously convicted or in
headquarters of the arresting officers was located. The City Prosecutor of jeopardy of being convicted, or acquitted of the offense charged. Apparently,
Angeles City filed an information in the Regional Trial Court of Angeles City. the want of jurisdiction under the 1985 Rules refers to jurisdiction over the
We invalidated the information filed by the City Prosecutor because he had offense and the person, and not over the case as in Villa where the court did
no territorial jurisdiction, as the offense was committed in Mabalacat, not acquire jurisdiction over the case for lack of authority of the officer who
Pampanga and his territorial jurisdiction was only in Angeles City. We held filed the information. Still, despite the enumeration, the Court continued to
that an information, when required by law to be filed by a public prosecuting apply the Villa ruling as shown in the afore-cited Cruz and Cudia cases.
officer, cannot be filed by another.[49] Otherwise, the court does not acquire
jurisdiction.[50] It is a valid information signed by a competent officer which, The 1985 Rules was amended in 2000. The 2000 Revised Rules of Criminal
among other requisites, confers jurisdiction on the court over the person of Procedure also provide for lack of authority of the filing officer as among the
the accused and the subject matter thereof. The accused's plea to an grounds for a motion to quash and the waiver of these grounds. Similar to
information may be a waiver of all formal objections to the said information the 1985 Rules, the Revised Rules enumerate the exceptions from the waiver,
but not when there is want of jurisdiction. Questions relating to lack of namely: (a) that the facts charged do not constitute an offense; (b) that the
jurisdiction may be raised at any stage of the proceeding. An infirmity in the court trying the case has no jurisdiction over the offense charged; (c) that the
information, such as lack of authority of the officer signing it, cannot be criminal action or liability has been extinguished; and (d) that the accused
cured by silence, acquiescence, or even by express consent.[51] has been previously convicted or acquitted of the offense charged, or the
case against him was dismissed or otherwise terminated without his express
Despite modifications of the provisions on unauthorized filing of information consent. Under the regime of the 2000 Revised Rules, we reiterated the Villa
contained in the 1940 Rules of Criminal Procedure under which Villa was ruling in the above-cited Romualdez case. With the enumeration of the four
decided, the 1951 Villa ruling continues to be the prevailing case exceptions, which was almost a replica of the enumeration in the 1985 Rules,
law on the matter.[52] the 2000 Rules did not intend to abandon Villa. The Villa ruling subsisted
alongside the enumerated exceptions under the 1985 Rules, and it remains
The 1940 Rules of Court provided in Rule 113, Section 10 that, if the to do so under the enumerated exceptions under the 2000 Rules. Neither the
defendant fails to move to quash the complaint or information before he Rationale of the 2000 Revised Rules of Criminal Procedure nor the Minutes of
pleads thereto, he shall be taken to have waived all objections which are the Meeting of the Committee on the Revision of the Rules of Court evinces
grounds for a motion to quash except (1) "when the complaint or any intent to abandon the doctrine enunciated in Villa.
information does not charge an offense" or (2) "the court is without
jurisdiction of the same." (emphasis ours) Among the enumerated grounds In sum, we hold that, in the absence of a directive from the Secretary of
for a motion to quash under Section 2 of the same Rule was "(t)hat the fiscal Justice designating State Prosecutor Tolentino as Special Prosecutor for SSS
has no authority to file the information." With only the above two exceptions cases or a prior written approval of the information by the provincial or city
provided by the 1940 Rules, the Court nevertheless made the Villa ruling that prosecutor, the information in Criminal Case No. RTC 2001-0597 was filed by
an officer without authority to file the same. As this infirmity in the
information constitutes a jurisdictional defect that cannot be cured, the
respondent judge did not err in dismissing the case for lack of jurisdiction.

WHEREFORE, premises considered, the petition is DENIED. The respondent


court's orders dated February 26, 2002 and April 3, 2002 are AFFIRMED.
Criminal Case No. RTC 2001-0597 is DISMISSED without prejudice to the filing
of a new information by an authorized officer.

SO ORDERED.
filed a motion for reconsideration, which was denied again for having been
filed beyond the reglementary period of ten (10) days.
15.Hegerfy vs CA
Undaunted, Nash filed with the Court of Appeals a petition for certiorari and
mandamus under Rule 65 of the 1997 Rules of Civil Procedure, contending
DECISION that the DOJ acted in grave abuse of discretion amounting to lack of or in
excess of jurisdiction when it dismissed his appeal and denied his motion for
YNARES-SANTIAGO, J.: reconsideration.

This petition seeks to annul and set aside the decision of the Court of On June 28, 2002, the Court of Appeals rendered the assailed decision, the
Appeals in CA-G.R. SP No. 66680[1] which reversed the resolution[2] of the dispositive portion of which reads:
Office of the City Prosecutor of Manila dismissing the complaint for estafa WHEREFORE, premises considered, the PETITION is GRANTED. The undated
filed against petitioner Rodney Hegerty, as well as the resolution of the resolution and 22 August 2001 resolution are REVERSED and SET ASIDE. The
Secretary of Justice dismissing respondent Allan Nash's appeal and denying public respondent is directed to prosecute respondent Hegerty for the crime
his motion for reconsideration for having been filed out of time. of estafa under Article 315 (1) (b) of the Revised Penal Code.

Respondent Allan Nash alleged that petitioner Rodney Hegerty, together with SO ORDERED.[4]
the deceased Don Judevine and James Studenski, invited him to invest in a
foreign exchange scheme with a guaranteed return of 10.45% per annum on Hegerty is now before us on this petition for review, raising the following
the money invested. From July 1992 to November 28, 1997, Nash invested a issues:
total of US$236,353.34.
Sometime in December 1997, Hegerty informed Nash that all his investments I. DOES THE RESPONDENT COURT OF APPEALS HAVE JURISDICTION OVER A
had been lost after he lent a portion of the investment to Swagman Hotels CASE WHICH STARTED AT THE OFFICE OF THE PROSECUTOR OF MANILA THEN
and Travel, Inc., of which he was a stockholder. Initially, Hegerty offered to APPEALED TO THE DEPARTMENT OF JUSTICE BUT WHICH APPEAL WAS FILED
return to Nash half of his total investment, but later on withdrew the offer. WAY OUT OF TIME?

After his demands were ignored, Nash filed a complaint-affidavit against II. MAY THE RESPONDENT COURT OF APPEALS ACTING WITHOUT
Hegerty before the City Prosecutor of Manila for estafa under Article 315 (1) JURISDICTION ORDER THE PROSECUTION OF A CRIMINAL CASE?[5]
(b) of the Revised Penal Code.
Hegerty contends that since Nash's appeal with the DOJ and his motion for
For his part, Hegerty denied making any invitation to Nash to invest his reconsideration were both filed out of time, the prosecutor's resolution had
money in any foreign exchange scheme. Neither did he divert any portion of become final and executory. Consequently, the DOJ and the Court of Appeals
such investment to the Swagman Group of Companies. He, however, never acquired jurisdiction over the case. Corollarily, the Court of Appeals
admitted his acquaintance with Judevine and Studenski but denied that they does not have the authority to order the filing of a case in the absence of
were his business partners. He likewise disclaimed any knowledge of or grave abuse of discretion on the part of the prosecutor.
participation in any of the receipts and cash vouchers presented by Nash
supposedly as proofs of his investments. We agree. The rule is settled that our duty in an appropriate case is confined
to determining whether the executive or judicial determination, as the case
The City Prosecutor dismissed the complaint for estafa against Hegerty for may be, of probable cause was done without or in excess of jurisdiction or
insufficiency of evidence. Upon receipt of a copy of the said resolution on with grave abuse of discretion. Thus, although it is entirely possible that the
June 16, 1999, counsel of Nash filed a motion for reconsideration. On May 8, investigating fiscal may erroneously exercise the discretion lodged in him by
2000, Nash himself received a copy of the resolution denying the motion for law, this does not render his act amenable to correction and annulment by
reconsideration. the extraordinary remedy of certiorari, absent any showing of grave abuse of
discretion amounting to excess of jurisdiction.[6]
On May 19, 2000, Nash filed an appeal with the Department of Justice (DOJ),
however, the same was dismissed[3] for having been filed out of time. He The pivotal question, therefore, in this case is: whether the City Prosecutor
acted with grave abuse of discretion in dismissing the criminal complaint for file a criminal information where no clear legal justification has been shown,
estafa against Hegerty. and no sufficient evidence of guilt nor prima facie case has been presented
by the petitioner.[10]
In D.M. Consunji, Inc. v. Esguerra,[7] we defined grave abuse of discretion in
this wise: We need only to stress that the determination of probable cause during a
preliminary investigation or reinvestigation is recognized as an executive
By grave abuse of discretion is meant, such capricious and whimsical function exclusively of the prosecutor. An investigating prosecutor is under
exercise of judgment as is equivalent to lack of jurisdiction. The abuse of no obligation to file a criminal action where he is not convinced that he has
discretion must be grave as where the power is exercised in an arbitrary or the quantum of evidence at hand to support the averments. Prosecuting
despotic manner by reason of passion or personal hostility and must be so officers have equally the duty not to prosecute when after investigation or
patent and gross as to amount to an evasion of positive duty or to a virtual reinvestigation they are convinced that the evidence adduced was not
refusal to perform the duty enjoined by or to act at all in contemplation of sufficient to establish a prima facie case. Thus, the determination of the
law. persons to be prosecuted rests primarily with the prosecutor who is vested
with discretion in the discharge of this function.[11]
The City Prosecutor had the duty to determine whether there was a prima
facie case for estafa based on sufficient evidence that would warrant the In Quiso v. Sandiganbayan,[12] we pointed out that:
filing of an information. The elements of estafa through misappropriation as
defined and penalized under Article 315 (1) (b) are: x x x [A] fiscal by the nature of his office, is under no compulsion to file a
particular criminal information where he is not convinced that he has
(1) That money, goods, or other personal property be received by the evidence to support the allegations thereof. Although this power and
offender in trust or on commission, or for administration, or under any other prerogative x x x is not absolute and subject to judicial review, it would be
obligation involving the duty to make delivery of, or to return, the same; embarrassing for the prosecuting attorney to be compelled to prosecute a
case when he is in no position to do so, because in his opinion he does not
(2) That there be misappropriation or conversion of such money or property have the necessary evidence to secure a conviction, or he is not convinced of
by the offender, or denial on his part of such receipt; the merits of the case.

(3) That such misappropriation or conversion or denial is to the prejudice of The remedy of mandamus does not lie to compel the City Prosecutor to file
another; and an Information against petitioner. There being no showing of grave abuse of
discretion which will warrant the reversal of the dismissal of the complaint
(4) That there is a demand made by the offended party to the offender.[8] against petitioner, there is also no ground to issue a writ of mandamus.[13]
In the case at bar, we find no evidence to prove that the City Prosecutor
The City Prosecutor dismissed the complaint for estafa based on the abused, much less gravely abused, his discretion when he dismissed the
following findings: complaint for estafa filed against Hegerty.

Recouping everything that has been maintained and asserted by the parties, Moreover, the appeal filed by respondent with the Department of Justice was
there is really reason to believe that the complainant had in fact made some out of time. Section 2 of DOJ Order No. 223 dated June 30, 1993, which was
investments with the late DON JUDEVINE who acknowledged receipts thereof then in force, provides:
and bound himself thereby alone. There is, however, an utter and absolute
absence of a showing that the respondent partook of the said investments When to appeal. - The appeal must be filed within a period of fifteen (15)
nor had any business dealing with either the late DON JUDEVINE or the days from receipt of the questioned resolution by the party or his counsel.
complainant. Complainant also tried in vain to show some form of a The period shall be interrupted only by the filing of a motion for
partnership between the respondent and the two deceased individuals but reconsideration within ten (10) days from receipt of the resolution and shall
the former failed to adduce any tangible evidence to support the same continue to run from the time the resolution denying the motion shall have
except his general declarations which remain bare as they were. [9] been received by the movant or his counsel.

A public prosecutor, by the nature of his office, is under no compulsion to In the case at bar, respondent's counsel received a copy of the resolution of
the City Prosecutor dismissing the complaint on June 16, 1999. The tenth day, The above-quoted DOJ Rule expressly provides that service of resolutions
June 26, fell on a Saturday; thus, the motion for reconsideration was filed on may be made to the party or his counsel. In this connection, we had occasion
Monday, June 28, 1999. On May 8, 2000, respondent received the resolution to rule:[15]
denying his motion for reconsideration. He filed an appeal with the
Department of Justice on May 19, 2000. A plain reading of Section 2 of DOJ Order No. 223 clearly shows that in
preliminary investigations, service can be made upon the party himself or
Under the above-quoted rule, respondent's fifteen-day period to appeal was through his counsel. It must be assumed that when the Justice Department
interrupted by the filing of the motion for reconsideration on the tenth day. crafted the said section, it was done with knowledge of the pertinent rule in
The said period continued to run again when he received the resolution the Rules of Court and of jurisprudence interpreting it. The DOJ could have
denying his motion for reconsideration, but only for the remaining period of just adopted the rule on service provided for in the Rules of Court, but did
five days. Therefore, respondent only had until May 15, 2000 - May 13, 2000 not. Instead, it opted to word Section 2 of DOJ Order No. 223 in such a way
was a Saturday - within which to appeal. His appeal filed on May 19, 2000 as to leave no doubt that in preliminary investigations, service of resolutions
was clearly out of time. of public prosecutors could be made upon either the party or his counsel.

Respondent Nash, however, argues that the service to him of the resolution WHEREFORE, in view of the foregoing, the petition is GRANTED. The decision
of the City Prosecutor denying his motion for reconsideration was invalid of the Court of Appeals in CA G.R. SP No. 66680 is REVERSED and SET ASIDE.
inasmuch as he was represented by counsel. There is no "generally accepted The Resolution of the City Prosecutor of Manila, which dismissed the
practice" in the service of orders, resolutions, and processes, which allows complaint against petitioner for estafa, and the Resolution of the
service upon either the litigant or his lawyer. While as a rule, notice or Department of Justice which denied respondent's appeal, are REINSTATED.
service made upon a party who is represented by counsel is a nullity, this No costs.
admits of exceptions, as when the court or tribunal orders service upon the
party or when the technical defect is waived.[14] SO ORDERED.