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Mayor Bayani Alonte vs Judge Maximo Savellano, NBI & People

of the Philippines

Alonte was accused of raping JuvieLyn Punongbayan with accomplice


Buenaventura Concepcion. It was alleged that Concepcion befriended Juvie and
had later lured her into Alonetes house who was then the mayor of Bian,
Laguna. The case was brought before RTC Bian. The counsel and the
prosecutor later moved for a change of venue due to alleged intimidation. While
the change of venue was pending, Juvie executed an affidavit of desistance. The
prosecutor continued on with the case and the change of venue was done
notwithstanding opposition from Alonte. The case was raffled to the Manila RTC
under J Savellano. Savellano later found probable cause and had ordered the
arrest of Alonte and Concepcion. Thereafter, the prosecution presented Juvie
and had attested the voluntariness of her desistance the same being due to
media pressure and that they would rather establish new life elsewhere. Case
was then submitted for decision and Savellano sentenced both accused to
reclusion perpetua. Savellano commented that Alonte waived his right to due
process when he did not cross examine Juvie when clarificatory questions were
raised about the details of the rape and on the voluntariness of her desistance.

ISSUE: Whether or not Alonte has been denied criminal due process.

HELD: The SC ruled that Savellano should inhibit himself from further deciding
on the case due to animosity between him and the parties. There is no showing
that Alonte waived his right. The standard of waiver requires that it not only must
be voluntary, but must be knowing, intelligent, and done with sufficient awareness
of the relevant circumstances and likely consequences. Mere silence of the
holder of the right should not be so construed as a waiver of right, and the courts
must indulge every reasonable presumption against waiver. Savellano has not
shown impartiality by repeatedly not acting on numerous petitions filed by Alonte.
The case is remanded to the lower court for retrial and the decision earlier
promulgated is nullified.

PEOPLE OF THE PHILIPPINES, appellee, vs. ARIEL


MACARANG, appellant.
Before us on automatic review is a Decision[1] of the Regional Trial Court of
Pasig City (Branch 163) in Criminal Cases Nos. 116969-H and 117275-H,
sentencing appellant Ariel Macarang to suffer the penalty of death in each of said
criminal cases for qualified rape. The dispositive portion of said Decision reads
as follows:

WHEREFORE, in Criminal Case No. 116969-H, the accused is convicted of the


crime of rape and is sentenced to suffer the penalty of death by lethal injection
and the accessory penalty provided by law and to pay the costs.

In Criminal Case No. 117275-H, the accused is also convicted of the crime of
rape and is sentenced to suffer the penalty of death by lethal injection and the
accessory penalties provided by law and to pay the costs.

On the civil aspects of the two cases the accused is ordered to pay the victim,
Armie Christine Macarang, Php75,000.00 as civil indemnity and Php50,000.00 as
moral damages.

SO ORDERED.

Appellant claims that the trial court erred in giving weight and credence to the
testimony of private complainant and that appellants guilt was not proven beyond
reasonable doubt.

Appellee, represented by the Office of the Solicitor General, filed its brief, entitled
Brief For The Appellee With Recommendation To Remand The Cases To The
Court A Quo For Further Proceedings, calling our attention to the fact that the trial
court had considered appellant to have waived his right to present his evidence
without any showing that the latter was fully aware of the consequences of such
waiver.
As borne out by the records of the case, the following proceedings took place in
the trial court:

Two separate Infomations were filed charging appellant with the crime of
qualified rape, to wit:

Criminal Case No. 116969-H

On or about November 8, 1999, in San Juan, Metro Manila and within the
jurisdiction of this Honorable Court, the accused, being the father of Armie
Christine Macarang y Amboy, with lewd designs, by means of force and
intimidation, did then and there willfully, unlawfully and feloniously have sexual
intercourse with said Armie Christine Macarang y Amboy, 13 years old, against
her will and consent.

Contrary to law.

Criminal Case No. 117275-H

On or about June 12, 1998, in San Juan, Metro Manila and within the jurisdiction
of this Honorable Court, the accused, being the father of Armie Christine
Macarang y Amboy, with lewd designs, by means of force and intimidation, did
then and there willfully, unlawfully and feloniously have sexual intercourse with
said Armie Christine Macarang y Amboy, 12 years old, against her will and
consent.

Contrary to law.

Upon arraignment on December 14, 1999 in Criminal Case No. 116969-H and on
April 11, 2000 in Criminal Case No. 117275-H, appellant, with assistance of
counsel, pleaded NOT GUILTY to each Information. The cases were then
consolidated and jointly heard before Branch 163 of the Regional Trial Court of
Pasig City.

After pre-trial, the prosecution proceeded to present evidence and thereafter,


rested its case.

The initial hearing for the reception of defense evidence was scheduled on March
13, 2001. Presiding Judge Leili Suarez Acebo cancelled the setting as she had to
attend a seminar given by the Supreme Court and scheduled anew the hearing
on April 24, 2001 and May 8 and 22, 2001. The April 24 hearing was cancelled
upon motion of public prosecutor who had to attend a seminar at the COMELEC.
The May 8 hearing was also cancelled as appellant informed the court that his de
parte counsel, Atty. Arnoldo Pabelonio, was indisposed. The trial court reset the
hearing to May 22 as previously scheduled, and set additional hearings on July
3, 17 & 24, 2001. The May 22 hearing was cancelled for failure of counsel for
appellant to appear in court for the hearing.Again, defense counsel was absent
for the July 3 hearing and the same was reset to the next scheduled hearing
dates. On July 17, 2001, defense counsel manifested in court that appellant was
contemplating on changing his plea from not guilty to guilty and requested for
more time for the appellant to come to a decision. The trial court then cancelled
the July 17 and 24, 2001 hearings and re- scheduled the same on August 14 and
28, 2001. On August 14, the trial court, apparently irked by the numerous
postponements of the cases, issued the following:

ORDER

When this case was called supposedly for the initial presentation of defense
evidence, the defense counsel manifested that the accused had intimated to him
that he was not prepared to testify, the reason being that he was just
recuperating from an illness. However, when asked by the Court, accused stated
that it was up to his lawyer, inspite of which, the Defense Counsel begged the
indulgence of the Court as he did not bring the record of the case and was not
prepared to call the accused to the witness stand.
WHEREFORE, considering that the trial of this case had been repeatedly
postponed and that Defense Counsel had been the subject at least two (2) show
cause orders, reset for the last time to August 28 and September 18, 2001 at
8:30 oclock in the morning, with a warning that if on the next scheduled hearing
accused would not still be ready to present evidence, he would be deemed to
have waived his right to do so.

SO ORDERED.

On August 28, 2001, defense counsel filed an Urgent Motion to be Allowed to


Withdraw as Counsel, stating therein that the delay in the hearing of the case
was due to the insistence of appellant that he moved for postponements, in the
hope that appellants daughter would eventually cause the dismissal of the case.
At the hearing set on the same date, the trial court issued the following:

ORDER

When these cases were called for trial, accused begged the Court for one last
resetting on the ground that he is not prepared. The Public Prosecutor did not
object to the request for postponement on the condition that if on the next
scheduled hearing, accused would still not be able to present evidence, he would
rest his cases and the cases would be deemed submitted for decision on the
basis of the prosecution evidence.

WHEREFORE, as prayed for, reset to September 18, 2001, as previously


scheduled and additional settings on September 25, 2001, October 2 & 9, 2001,
all at 8:30 oclock in the morning. The pending motion to withdraw as counsel filed
by Atty. Arnoldo C. Pabelonio is denied for lack of merit.

SO ORDERED.

Finally, at the hearing held on September 18, 2001, the trial court issued the
following:

ORDER

When this case was called supposedly for the presentation of defense
evidence, accused manifested that he was still not ready to do so. Record
shows that such presentation had been repeatedly postponed mostly at the
instance of the accused and/or his lawyer.

Thus, as prayed for by the Public Prosecutor and pursuant to the order of
August 28, 2001, accused is now deemed to have waived his right to
present evidence. As further prayed for, this case is now deemed submitted
for decision.

Moreover, the Urgent Motion to be Allowed to Withdraw as Counsel filed by Atty.


Arnoldo Pabelonio, is granted with the consent of the accused.

SO ORDERED.

Based on the prosecution evidence, the trial court, on November 13, 2001
promulgated its Decision dated October 17, 2001, convicting appellant of the
crime of qualified rape and sentencing him to suffer the ultimate penalty of death
in each of the criminal cases.

ISSUE: Whether or not the petitioner's right is waived

NO

We are aware of the usual practice of presiding judges in warning a party in a


case that he will be considered to have waived his right to adduce evidence if he
fails to present it at the next hearing, after prior unwarranted postponements,
despite previous agreement of the parties. Its objective is to instill discipline on
the litigants and their counsel so that the proceedings of the court would not be
unduly delayed.

However, in criminal cases where the imposable penalty may be death, as in the
present cases, the presiding judge is called upon to see to it that the accused is
made aware of the consequences of not heeding the warning given by the trial
court. It must be noted that the waiver of the right to present defense evidence in
the present cases was not even voluntary nor upon the instance of the appellant
but imposed by the trial court, apparently to penalize appellant, after he and his
counsel repeatedly moved for the postponements of the scheduled hearings.

As stated by the trial court in its Order dated September 18, 2001, appellant
manifested in open court that he was still not ready to do so, that is, that he was
not ready to present his evidence. Appellant never said that he did not wish to
present evidence. It should have been clear to the trial court that appellant never
intended to waive his right to present his evidence. Thus, a simple forewarning to
the appellant that the next time that he would not be ready with his defense
evidence, he would be deemed to have waived his right to present it, did not
satisfy appellants constitutional right to due process. The trial court should have
first apprised appellant or explained to him in clear terms the exact nature and
consequences of a waiver. The trial court should have satisfied itself that
appellant understood the real import of the courts action if it would consider him
as having waived his right to present his evidence if he would not be ready to do
so the next time the case would be called for trial.

Moreover, in the same Order declaring appellant to have waived his right to
present evidence, the trial court granted the motion of appellants counsel to
withdraw his appearance. Appellant, therefore, had no more counsel. The trial
court did not ask him if he would wish to solicit the services of another counsel de
parte or want the court to designate a de oficio counsel for him. Consequently,
appellants inaction, after the dection by the trial court that he was deemed to
have waived his right to present evidence in spite of the fact that there were other
dates previously scheduled by the trial court for reception of his evidence, should
not be taken against appellant. It did not justify the trial court to render judgment
against him on the basis of the prosecution evidence and sentence him to suffer
the penalty of death in both cases, without first ensuring that appellant was
aware of the consequences of the waiver of his right to present his evidence, and
without exerting any effort to ask him if he would like to be represented by
another lawyer of his own choice or through the assistance of the Public
Attorneys Office (PAO) or through a counsel de oficio appointed by the court.

It is obvious then that the appellant was deprived of his right to due process.

We apply by analogy our ruling in People vs. Bodoso,[13] to wit:

This Court notes with deep regret the failure of the trial court to inquire from
accused-appellant himself whether he wanted to present evidence; or submit his
memorandum elucidating on the contradictions and insufficiency of the
prosecution evidence, if any; or in default thereof, file a demurrer to evidence
with prior leave of court, if he so believes that the prosecution evidence is so
weak that it need not even be rebutted. The inquiry is simply part and parcel of
the determination of the validity of the waiver, i.e., not only must be voluntary, but
must be knowing, intelligent, and done with sufficient awareness of the relevant
circumstances and likely consequences, which ought to have been done by the
trial court not only because this was supposed to be an uncomplicated and
routine task on its part, but more importantly since accused-appellant himself did
not personally, on a person-to-person basis, manifest to the trial court the waiver
of his own right.

In the light of the foregoing, we have no other recourse but to set aside the
judgment of the trial court convicting appellant and order the remand of the
records of the case to the trial court to conduct further proceedings.

WHEREFORE, the Decision of the Regional Trial Court of Pasig City, Branch
163, in Criminal Cases Nos. 116969-H and 117275-H dated October 17, 2001 is
SET ASIDE.
Antonio Lejano vs. People of the Philippines

FACTS:

On 30 June 1991, Estellita Vizconde and her daughters Carmela and Jennifer
were brutally slain at their home in Paranaque City. Four years later in 1995, the
NBI announced that it had solved the crime. It presented star-witness Jessica
Alfaro, one of its informers, who claimed that she had witnessed the crime. She
pointed to Hubert Webb, Antonio Lejano, Artemio Ventura, Michael Gatchalian,
Hospicio Fernandez, Peter Estrada, Miguel Rodriguez and Joy Filart as the
culprits. She also tagged police officer, Gerardo Biong, as an accessory after the
fact. Alfaro had been working as an asset to the NBI by leading the agency to
criminals. Some of the said criminals had been so high-profile, that Alfaro had
become the darling of the NBI because of her contribution to its success. The
trial court and the Court of Appeals found that Alfaros direct and spontaneous
narration of events unshaken by gruesome cross-examination should be given a
great weight in the decision of the case.

In Alfaros story, she stated that after she and the accused got high of shabu, she
was asked to see Carmela at their residence. After Webb was informed that
Carmela had a male companion with her, Webb became piqued and thereafter
consumed more drugs and plotted the gang rape on Carmela. Webb, on the
other hand, denied all the accusations against him with the alibi that during the
whole time that the crime had taken place, he was staying in the United States.
He had apparently left for the US on 09 March 1991 and only returned on 27
October 1992. As documentary evidence, he presented photocopies of his
passport with four stamps recording his entry and exit from both the Philippines
and the US, Flights Passenger Manifest employment documents in the US
during his stay there and US-INS computer generated certification authenticated
by the Philippine DFA. Aside from these documentary alibis, he also gave a
thorough recount of his activities in the US

ISSUE:

Whether or not Webbs documented alibi of his U.S. travel should be given
more credence by the Court than the positive identification by Alfaro.

YES

RULING:

For a positive identification to be acceptable, it must meet at least two criteria:


the positive identification of the offender must come from a credible witness; and
the witness story of what she personally saw must be believable, not inherently
contrived.

The Supreme Court found that Alfaro and her testimony failed to meet the above
criteria. She did not show up at the NBI as a spontaneous witness bothered by
her conscience. She had been hanging around the agency for sometime as a
stool pigeon, one paid for mixing up with criminals and squealing on them. And
although her testimony included details, Alfaro had prior access to the details that
the investigators knew of the case. She took advantage of her familiarity with
these details to include in her testimony the clearly incompatible acts of Webb
hurling a stone at the front door glass frames, for example, just so she can
accommodate the crime scene feature.

To establish alibi, the accused must prove by positive, clear and satisfactory
evidence that:

He was present at another place at the time of the perpetration of the crime, and

That it was physically impossible for him to be at the scene of the crime.

The Supreme Court gave very high credence to the compounded documentary
alibi presented by Webb. This alibi altogether impeaches Alfaros testimony not
only with respect to him, but also with respect to the other accused. For, if the
Court accepts the proposition that Webb was in the US when the crime took
place, Alfaros testimony will not hold altogether. Webbs participation is the
anchor of Alfaros story.

In our criminal justice system, what is important is, not whether the court
entertains doubts about the innocence of the accused since an open mind is
willing to explore all possibilities, but whether it entertains a reasonable, lingering
doubt as to his guilt. For, it would be a serious mistake to send an innocent man
to jail where such kind of doubt hangs on to ones inner being, like a piece of
meat lodged immovable between teeth.

LOUIS "BAROK" C. BIRAOGO, Petitioner,


vs.
THE PHILIPPINE TRUTH COMMISSION OF 2010,
Respondent.

When the judiciary mediates to allocate constitutional boundaries, it does not


assert any superiority over the other departments; it does not in reality nullify or
invalidate an act of the legislature, but only asserts the solemn and sacred
obligation assigned to it by the Constitution to determine conflicting claims of
authority under the Constitution and to establish for the parties in an actual
controversy the rights which that instrument secures and guarantees to them. ---
Justice Jose P. Laurel

Facts:

The genesis of the foregoing cases can be traced to the events prior to the
historic May 2010 elections, when then Senator Benigno Simeon Aquino III
declared his staunch condemnation of graft and corruption with his slogan, "Kung
walang corrupt, walang mahirap." The Filipino people, convinced of his sincerity
and of his ability to carry out this noble objective, catapulted the good senator to
the presidency.

The first case is G.R. No. 192935, a special civil action for prohibition instituted
by petitioner Louis Biraogo (Biraogo) in his capacity as a citizen and taxpayer.
Biraogo assails Executive Order No. 1 for being violative of the legislative power
of Congress under Section 1, Article VI of the Constitution as it usurps the
constitutional authority of the legislature to create a public office and to
appropriate funds therefor.
The second case, G.R. No. 193036, is a special civil action for certiorari and
prohibition filed by petitioners Edcel C. Lagman, Rodolfo B. Albano Jr., Simeon A.
Datumanong, and Orlando B. Fua, Sr. (petitioners-legislators) as incumbent
members of the House of Representatives.

Thus, at the dawn of his administration, the President on July 30, 2010, signed
Executive Order No. 1 establishing the Philippine Truth Commission of 2010
(Truth Commission).

Issues:

1. Whether or not the petitioners have the legal standing to file their respective
petitions and question Executive Order No. 1;

2. Whether or not Executive Order No. 1 violates the principle of separation of


powers by usurping the powers of Congress to create and to appropriate funds
for public offices, agencies and commissions;

3. Whether or not Executive Order No. 1 supplants the powers of the


Ombudsman and the DOJ;

4. Whether or not Executive Order No. 1 violates the equal protection clause; and

5. Whether or not petitioners are entitled to injunctive relief.

Held:

Legal Standing of the Petitioners


The Court, however, finds reason in Biraogos assertion that the petition covers
matters of transcendental importance to justify the exercise of jurisdiction by the
Court. There are constitutional issues in the petition which deserve the attention
of this Court in view of their seriousness, novelty and weight as precedents.
Where the issues are of transcendental and paramount importance not only to
the public but also to the Bench and the Bar, they should be resolved for the
guidance of all.Undoubtedly, the Filipino people are more than interested to know
the status of the Presidents first effort to bring about a promised change to the
country. The Court takes cognizance of the petition not due to overwhelming
political undertones that clothe the issue in the eyes of the public, but because
the Court stands firm in its oath to perform its constitutional duty to settle legal
controversies with overreaching significance to society.

Power of the President to Create the Truth Commission

The Chief Executives power to create the Ad hoc Investigating Committee


cannot be doubted. Having been constitutionally granted full control of the
Executive Department, to which respondents belong, the President has the
obligation to ensure that all executive officials and employees faithfully comply
with the law. With AO 298 as mandate, the legality of the investigation is
sustained. Such validity is not affected by the fact that the investigating team and
the PCAGC had the same composition, or that the former used the offices and
facilities of the latter in conducting the inquiry.

Power of the Truth Commission to Investigate

The distinction between the power to investigate and the power to adjudicate was
delineated by the Court in Cario v. Commission on Human Rights.59 Thus:

The legal meaning of "investigate" is essentially the same: "(t)o follow up step by
step by patient inquiry or observation. To trace or track; to search into; to
examine and inquire into with care and accuracy; to find out by careful inquisition;
examination; the taking of evidence; a legal inquiry;" "to inquire; to make an
investigation," "investigation" being in turn described as "(a)n administrative
function, the exercise of which ordinarily does not require a hearing. 2 Am J2d
Adm L Sec. 257; x x an inquiry, judicial or otherwise, for the discovery and
collection of facts concerning a certain matter or matters."

In the legal sense, "adjudicate" means: "To settle in the exercise of judicial
authority. To determine finally. Synonymous with adjudge in its strictest sense;"
and "adjudge" means: "To pass on judicially, to decide, settle or decree, or to
sentence or condemn. x x. Implies a judicial determination of a fact, and the entry
of a judgment."

Finally, nowhere in Executive Order No. 1 can it be inferred that the findings of
the PTC are to be accorded conclusiveness. Much like its predecessors, the
Davide Commission, the Feliciano Commission and the Zenarosa Commission,
its findings would, at best, be recommendatory in nature. And being so, the
Ombudsman and the DOJ have a wider degree of latitude to decide whether or
not to reject the recommendation. These offices, therefore, are not deprived of
their mandated duties but will instead be aided by the reports of the PTC for
possible indictments for violations of graft laws.

Violation of the Equal Protection Clause

The petitioners assail Executive Order No. 1 because it is violative of this


constitutional safeguard. They contend that it does not apply equally to all
members of the same class such that the intent of singling out the "previous
administration" as its sole object makes the PTC an "adventure in partisan
hostility." Thus, in order to be accorded with validity, the commission must also
cover reports of graft and corruption in virtually all administrations previous to
that of former President Arroyo.

The equal protection clause is aimed at all official state actions, not just those of
the legislature. Its inhibitions cover all the departments of the government
including the political and executive departments, and extend to all actions of a
state denying equal protection of the laws, through whatever agency or whatever
guise is taken.

Applying these precepts to this case, Executive Order No. 1 should be struck
down as violative of the equal protection clause. The clear mandate of the
envisioned truth commission is to investigate and find out the truth "concerning
the reported cases of graft and corruption during the previous
administration"only. The intent to single out the previous administration is plain,
patent and manifest. Mention of it has been made in at least three portions of the
questioned executive order.

Decision

The issue that seems to take center stage at present is - whether or not the
Supreme Court, in the exercise of its constitutionally mandated power of Judicial
Review with respect to recent initiatives of the legislature and the executive
department, is exercising undue interference. Is the Highest Tribunal, which is
expected to be the protector of the Constitution, itself guilty of violating
fundamental tenets like the doctrine of separation of powers? Time and again,
this issue has been addressed by the Court, but it seems that the present
political situation calls for it to once again explain the legal basis of its action lest
it continually be accused of being a hindrance to the nations thrust to progress.

WHEREFORE, the petitions are GRANTED. Executive Order No. 1 is hereby


declared UNCONSTITUTIONAL insofar as it is violative of the equal protection
clause of the Constitution.

PEOPLE V. SIONGCO G.R. NO. 186472 JULY 5, 2010

FACTS:
Appellants Siongco, Boton and Enriquez, induced 11-year old Nikko Satimbre, a
resident of Balanga, Bataan, to board a bus bound for Pilar, Bataan and
promised the latter a Gameboy. He wasthen bought to Dinalupihan, Bataan
where he was kept for the night. Two days after, Siongco called Elvira Satimbre,
Nikkos mother, and demanded P400,000.00, in exchange for the release of her
son. Siongco further threatened that Nikko would be killed if Elvira failed to give
the ransom money. Nikko was moved to Taguig City and was cautioned not to tell
anybody that he was kidnapped. Appellants were finally arrested in an
entrapment operation conducted by the PAOCTF four days after Nikko was
kidnapped. The RTC convicted appellants of kidnapping with serious illegal
detention, then punishable by death, with the exception of Boton, on the ground
of reasonable doubt. The CA affirmed the conviction byt modified the penalty to
reclusion perpetua. On review, the appellants claimed that they were deprived of
their right to an independent and competent counsel when the RTC appointed
Atty. Michael Moralde (Atty. Moralde) as their counsel de oficio during the pre-trial
conference, direct examination and cross-examination of the prosecutions
principal witness, Nikko. This was so, despite Atty. Moraldes manifestation
during Nikkos cross-examination that the defense of his actual client, accused
Boton, conflicts with that of the other accused.

ISSUE: Whether Appellants were deprived of their right to an


independent and competent counsel by the appointment of
Atty.Moralde.

HELD:

NO, A scrutiny of the records shows that Atty. Moralde was appointed as
appellants counsel de oficio in six (6) hearings, because their regular counsel de
oficio, Atty. Antoniano from the Public Attorneys Office (PAO), was inexplicably
absent. There is no denial of the right to counsel where a counsel de oficio is
appointed during the absence of the accused's counsel de parte, or in this case
the regular counsel de oficio, pursuant to the court's desire to finish the case as
early as practicable under the continuous trial system. The choice of counsel by
the accused in a criminal prosecution is not a plenary one. If the chosen counsel
deliberately makes himself scarce, the court is not precluded from appointing a
de oficio counsel, which it considers competent and independent, to enable the
trial to proceed until the counsel of choice enters his appearance. Otherwise, the
pace of a criminal prosecution will be entirely dictated by the accused, to the
detriment of the eventual resolution of the case.

CRESENCIO C. MILLA,

- versus -

PEOPLE OF THE PHILIPPINES and MARKET PURSUITS, INC.


represented by CARLO V. LOPEZ,

This is a Petition for Certiorari assailing the 22 April 2009 Decision[1] and 8 July
2009 Resolution[2] of the Court of Appeals, affirming the Decision of the trial
court finding petitioner Cresencio C. Milla (Milla) guilty of two counts of estafa
through falsification of public documents.

Respondent Carlo Lopez (Lopez) was the Financial Officer of private respondent,
Market Pursuits, Inc. (MPI). In March 2003, Milla represented himself as a real
estate developer from Ines Anderson Development Corporation, which was
engaged in selling business properties in Makati, and offered to sell MPI a
property therein located. For this purpose, he

showed Lopez a photocopy of Transfer Certificate of Title (TCT) No. 216445


registered in the name of spouses Farley and Jocelyn Handog (Sps. Handog), as
well as a Special Power of Attorney purportedly executed by the spouses in favor
of Milla.[3] Lopez verified with the Registry of Deeds of Makati and confirmed that
the property was indeed registered under the names of Sps. Handog. Since
Lopez was convinced by Millas authority, MPI purchased the property for P2
million, issuing Security Bank and Trust Co. (SBTC) Check No. 154670 in the
amount of P1.6 million. After receiving the check, Milla gave Lopez (1) a
notarized Deed of Absolute Sale dated 25 March 2003 executed by Sps. Handog
in favor of MPI and (2) an original Owners Duplicate Copy of TCT No. 216445.[4]

Milla then gave Regino Acosta (Acosta), Lopezs partner, a copy of the new
Certificate of Title to the property, TCT No. 218777, registered in the name of
MPI. Thereafter, it tendered in favor of Milla SBTC Check No. 15467111 in the
amount of P400,000 as payment for the balance.[5]

Milla turned over TCT No. 218777 to Acosta, but did not furnish the latter with the
receipts for the transfer taxes and other costs incurred in the transfer of the
property. This failure to turn over the receipts prompted Lopez to check with the
Register of Deeds, where he discovered that (1) the Certificate of Title given to
them by Milla could not be found therein; (2) there was no transfer of the property
from Sps. Handog to MPI; and (3) TCT No. 218777 was registered in the name of
a certain Matilde M. Tolentino.[6]

Consequently, Lopez demanded the return of the amount of P2 million from Milla,
who then issued Equitable PCI Check Nos. 188954 and 188955 dated 20 and 23
May 2003, respectively, in the amount of P1 million each. However, these checks
were dishonored for having been drawn against insufficient funds. When Milla
ignored the demand letter sent by Lopez, the latter, by virtue of the authority
vested in him by the MPI Board of Directors, filed a Complaint against the former
on 4 August 2003. On 27 and 29 October 2003, two Informations for Estafa Thru
Falsification of Public Documents were filed against Milla and were raffled to the
Regional Trial Court, National Capital Judicial Region, Makati City, Branch 146
(RTC Br. 146).[7] Milla was accused of having committed estafa through the
falsification of the notarized Deed of Absolute Sale and TCT No. 218777
purportedly issued by the Register of Deeds of Makati, viz:

CRIMINAL CASE NO. 034167

That on or about the 25th day of March 2003, in the City of Makati, Philippines
and within the jurisdiction of this Honorable Court, the above-named accused, a
private individual, did then and there, wilfully, unlawfully and feloniously falsify a
document denomindated as Deed of Absolute Sale, duly notarized by Atty. Lope
M. Velasco, a Notary Public for and in the City of Makati, denominated as Doc.
No. 297, Page No. 61, Book No. 69, Series of 2003 in his Notarial Register,
hence, a public document, by causing it to appear that the registered owners of
the property covered by TCT No. 216445 have sold their land to complainant
Market Pursuits, Inc. when in truth and in fact the said Deed of Absolute Sale
was not executed by the owners thereof and after the document was falsified,
accused, with intent to defraud complainant Market Pursuits, Inc. presented the
falsified Deed of Sale to complainant, herein represented by Carlo V. Lopez, and
complainant believing in the genuineness of the Deed of Absolute Sale paid
accused the amount of P1,600,000.00 as partial payment for the property, to the
damage and prejudice of complainant in the aforementioned amount of
P1,600,000.00

CONTRARY TO LAW.
CRIMINAL CASE NO. 034168

That on or about the 3rd day of April 2003, in the City of Makati, Philippines and
within the jurisdiction of this Honorable Court, the above-named accused, a
private individual, did then and there wilfully, unlawfully and feloniously falsify a
document denominated as Transfer Certificate of Title No. 218777 purportedly
issued by the Register of Deeds of Makati City, hence, a public document, by
causing it to appear that the lot covered by TCT No. 218777 was already
registered in the name of complainant Market Pursuits, Inc., herein represented
by Carlo V. Lopez, when in truth and in fact, as said accused well knew that the
Register of Deeds of Makati did not issue TCT No. 218777 in the name of Market
Pursuits Inc., and after the document was falsified, accused with

intent to defraud complainant and complainant believing in the genuineness of


Transfer Certificate of Title No. 218777 paid accused the amount of P400,000.00,
to the damage and prejudice of complainant in the aforementioned amount of
P4000,000.00 (sic).

CONTRARY TO LAW.[8]

After the prosecution rested its case, Milla filed, with leave of court, his Demurrer
to Evidence.[9] In its Order dated 26 January 2006, RTC Br. 146 denied the
demurrer and ordered him to present evidence, but he failed to do so despite
having been granted ample opportunity.[10] Though the court considered his right
to present evidence to have been consequently waived, it nevertheless allowed
him to file a memorandum.[11]

In its Joint Decision dated 28 November 2006,[12] RTC Br. 146 found Milla guilty
beyond reasonable doubt of two counts of estafa through falsification of public
documents, thus:

WHEREFORE, judgment is rendered finding the accused Cresencio Milla guilty


beyond reasonable doubt of two (2) counts of estafa through falsification of public
documents. Applying the indeterminate sentence law and considering that the
amount involved is more than P22,000,00 this Court should apply the provision
that an additional one (1) year should be imposed for every ten thousand
(P10,000.00) pesos in excess of P22,000.00, thus, this Court is constrained to
impose the Indeterminate (sic) penalty of four (4) years, two (2) months one (1)
day of prision correccional as minimum to twenty (20) years of reclusion temporal
as maximum for each count.

Accused is adjudged to be civilly liable to the private complainant and is ordered


pay (sic) complainant the total amount of TWO MILLION (P2,000,000.00)
PESOS with legal rate of interest from the filing of the Information until the same
is fully paid and to pay the costs. He is further ordered to pay attorneys fees
equivalent to ten (10%) of the total amount due as and for attorneys fees. A lien
on the monetary award is constituted in favor of the government, the private
complainant not having paid the required docket fee prior to the filing of the
Information.

SO ORDERED.[13]

On appeal, the Court of Appeals, in the assailed Decision dated 22 April 2009,
affirmed the findings of the trial court.[14] In its assailed Resolution dated 8 July
2009, it also denied Millas subsequent Motion for Reconsideration.[15]

In the instant Petition, Milla alleges that the Decision and the Resolution of the
Court of Appeals were not in accordance with law and jurisprudence. He raises
the following issues:

I. Whether the case should be reopened on the ground of negligence


of counsel;

II. Whether the principle of novation is applicable;

III. Whether the principle of simple loan is applicable;

IV. Whether the Secretarys Certificate presented by the prosecution is


admissible in evidence;

V. Whether the supposed inconsistent statements of prosecution


witnesses cast a doubt on the guilt of petitioner.[16]

In its Comment, MPI argues that (1) Milla was not deprived of due process on the
ground of gross negligence of counsel; (2) under the Revised Penal Code,
novation is not one of the grounds for the extinction of criminal liability for estafa;
and (3) factual findings of the trial court, when affirmed by the Court of Appeals,
are final and conclusive.[17]
On the other hand, in its Comment, the Office of the Solicitor General contends
that (1) Milla was accorded due process of law; (2) the elements of the crime
charged against him were established during trial; (3) novation is not a ground for
extinction of criminal liability for estafa; (4) the money received by Milla from
Lopez was not in the nature of a simple loan or cash advance; and (5) Lopez was
duly authorized by MPI to institute the action.[18]

In his Consolidated Reply, Milla reiterates that the negligence of his former
counsel warrants a reopening of the case, wherein he can present evidence to
prove that his transaction with MPI was in the nature of a simple loan.[

ISSUE:

I. Whether the negligence of counsel deprived


Milla of due process of law
II. Whether the principle of novation can exculpate Milla from criminal
liability

III. Whether the factual findings of the trial court, as affirmed by the
appellate court, should be reviewed on appeal

We resolve to deny the Petition.

Milla was not deprived of due process.

Milla argues that the negligence of his former counsel, Atty. Manuel V. Mendoza
(Atty. Mendoza), deprived him of due process. Specifically, he states that after
the prosecution had rested its case, Atty. Mendoza filed a Demurrer to Evidence,
and that the former was never advised by the latter of the demurrer. Thus, Milla
was purportedly surprised to discover that RTC Br. 146 had already rendered
judgment finding him guilty, and that it had issued a warrant for his arrest. Atty.
Mendoza filed an Omnibus Motion for Leave to File Motion for New Trial, which
Milla claims to have been denied by the trial court for being an inappropriate
remedy, thus, demonstrating his counsels negligence. These contentions cannot
be given any merit.
The general rule is that the mistake of a counsel binds the client, and it is only in
instances wherein the negligence is so gross or palpable that courts must step in
to grant relief to the aggrieved client.[20] In this case, Milla was able to file a
Demurrer to Evidence, and upon the trial courts denial thereof, was allowed to
present evidence.[21] Because of his failure to do so, RTC Br. 146 was justified
in considering that he had waived his right thereto. Nevertheless, the trial court
still allowed him to submit a memorandum in the interest of justice. Further,
contrary to his assertion that RTC Br. 146 denied the Motion to Recall Warrant of
Arrest thereafter filed by his former counsel, a reading of the 2 August 2007
Order of RTC Br. 146 reveals that it partially denied the Omnibus Motion for New
Trial and Recall of Warrant of Arrest, but granted the Motion for Leave of Court to
Avail of Remedies under the Rules of Court, allowing him to file an appeal and
lifting his warrant of arrest.[22]

It can be gleaned from the foregoing circumstances that Milla was given
opportunities to defend his case and was granted concomitant reliefs. Thus, it
cannot be said that the mistake and negligence of his former counsel were so
gross and palpable to have deprived him of due process.

The principle of novation cannot be applied to the case at bar.

Milla contends that his issuance of Equitable PCI Check Nos. 188954 and
188955 before the institution of the criminal complaint against him novated his
obligation to MPI, thereby enabling him to avoid any incipient criminal liability and
converting his obligation into a purely civil one. This argument does not
persuade.

The principles of novation cannot apply to the present case as to extinguish his
criminal liability. Milla cites People v. Nery[23] to support his contention that his
issuance of the Equitable PCI checks prior to the filing of the criminal complaint
averted his incipient criminal liability. However, it must be clarified that mere
payment of an obligation before the institution of a criminal complaint does not,
on its own, constitute novation that may prevent criminal liability. This Courts
ruling in Nery in fact warned:

It may be observed in this regard that novation is not one of the means
recognized by the Penal Code whereby criminal liability can be extinguished;
hence, the role of novation may only be to either prevent the rise of criminal
liability or to cast doubt on the true nature of the original petition, whether or not it
was such that its breach would not give rise to penal responsibility, as when
money loaned is made to appear as a deposit, or other similar disguise is
resorted to (cf. Abeto vs. People, 90 Phil. 581; Villareal, 27 Phil. 481).

Even in Civil Law the acceptance of partial payments, without further change in
the original relation between the complainant and the accused, can not produce
novation. For the latter to exist, there must be proof of intent to extinguish the
original relationship, and such intent can not be inferred from the mere
acceptance of payments on account of what is totally due. Much less can it be
said that the acceptance of partial satisfaction can effect the nullification of a
criminal liability that is fully matured, and already in the process of enforcement.
Thus, this Court has ruled that the offended partys acceptance of a promissory
note for all or part of the amount misapplied does not obliterate the criminal
offense (Camus vs. Court of Appeals, 48 Off. Gaz. 3898).[24] (Emphasis
supplied.)

Further, in Quinto v. People,[25] this Court exhaustively explained the concept of


novation in relation to incipient criminal liability, viz:

Novation is never presumed, and the animus novandi, whether totally or partially,
must appear by express agreement of the parties, or by their acts that are too
clear and unequivocal to be mistaken.

The extinguishment of the old obligation by the new one is a necessary element
of novation which may be effected either expressly or impliedly. The term
expressly means that the contracting parties incontrovertibly disclose that their
object in executing the new contract is to extinguish the old one. Upon the other
hand, no specific form is required for an implied novation, and all that is
prescribed by law would be an incompatibility between the two contracts. While
there is really no hard and fast rule to determine what might constitute to be a
sufficient change that can bring about novation, the touchstone for contrariety,
however, would be an irreconcilable incompatibility between the old and the new
obligations.
There are two ways which could indicate, in fine, the presence of novation and
thereby produce the effect of extinguishing an obligation by another which
substitutes the same. The first is when novation has been explicitly stated and
declared in unequivocal terms. The second is when the old and the new
obligations are incompatible on every point. The test of incompatibility is whether
or not the two obligations can stand together, each one having its independent
existence. If they cannot, they are incompatible and the latter obligation novates
the first. Corollarily, changes that breed incompatibility must be essential in
nature and not merely accidental. The incompatibility must take place in any of
the essential elements of the obligation, such as its object, cause or principal
conditions thereof; otherwise, the change would be merely modificatory in nature
and insufficient to extinguish the original obligation.

The changes alluded to by petitioner consists only in the manner of payment.


There was really no substitution of debtors since private complainant merely
acquiesced to the payment but did not give her consent to enter into a new
contract. The appellate court observed:

xxx xxx xxx

The acceptance by complainant of partial payment tendered by the buyer, Leonor


Camacho, does not evince the intention of the complainant to have their
agreement novated. It was simply necessitated by the fact that, at that time,
Camacho had substantial accounts payable to complainant, and because of the
fact that appellant made herself scarce to complainant. (TSN, April 15, 1981, 31-
32) Thus, to obviate the situation where complainant would end up with nothing,
she was forced to receive the tender of Camacho. Moreover, it is to be noted that
the aforesaid payment was for the purchase, not of the jewelry subject of this
case, but of some other jewelry subject of a previous transaction. (Ibid. June 8,
1981, 10-11)

xxx xxx xxx

Art. 315 of the Revised Penal Code defines estafa and penalizes any person who
shall defraud another by misappropriating or converting, to the prejudice of
another, money, goods, or any other personal property received by the offender
in trust or on commission, or for administration, or under any other obligation
involving the duty to make delivery of or to return the same, even though such
obligation be totally or partially guaranteed by a bond; or by denying having
received such money, goods, or other property. It is axiomatic that the gravamen
of the offense is the appropriation or conversion of money or property received to
the prejudice of the owner. The terms convert and misappropriate have been
held to connote an act of using or disposing of anothers property as if it were
ones own or devoting it to a purpose or use different from that agreed upon. The
phrase, to misappropriate to ones own use has been said to include not only
conversion to ones personal advantage, but also every attempt to dispose of the
property of another without right. Verily, the sale of the pieces of jewelry on
installments (sic) in contravention of the explicit terms of the authority granted to
her in Exhibit A (supra) is deemed to be one of conversion. Thus, neither the
theory of delay in the fulfillment of commission nor that of novation posed by
petitioner, can avoid the incipient criminal liability. In People vs. Nery, this Court
held:

xxx xxx xxx

The criminal liability for estafa already committed is then not affected by the
subsequent novation of contract, for it is a public offense which must be
prosecuted and punished by the State in its own conation. (Emphasis supplied.)
[26]

In the case at bar, the acceptance by MPI of the Equitable PCI checks tendered
by Milla could not have novated the original transaction, as the checks were only
intended to secure the return of the P2 million the former had already given him.
Even then, these checks bounced and were thus unable to satisfy his liability.
Moreover, the estafa involved here was not for simple misappropriation or
conversion, but was committed through Millas falsification of public documents,
the liability for which cannot be extinguished by mere novation.

The Court of Appeals was correct in affirming the trial courts finding of guilt.

Finally, Milla assails the factual findings of the trial court. Suffice it to say that
factual findings of the trial court, especially when affirmed by the appellate court,
are binding on and accorded great respect by this Court.[27]
There was no reversible error on the part of the Court of Appeals when it affirmed
the finding of the trial court that Milla was guilty beyond reasonable doubt of the
offense of estafa through falsification of public documents. The prosecution was
able to prove the existence of all the elements of the crime charged. The relevant
provisions of the Revised Penal Code read:

Art. 172. Falsification by private individual and use of falsified documents. The
penalty of prision correccional in its medium and maximum periods and a fine of
not more than 5,000 shall be imposed upon:

1. Any private individual who shall commit any of the falsification


enumerated in the next preceding article in any public or official document or
letter of exchange or any other kind of commercial document

xxx xxx xxx

Art. 315. Swindling (estafa). Any person who shall defraud another by any of the
means mentioned hereinbelow shall be punished by:

xxx xxx xxx

2. By means of any of the following false pretenses or fraudulent acts executed


prior to or simultaneously with the commission of the fraud:

(a) By using a fictitious name, or falsely pretending to possess power, influence,


qualifications, property, credit, agency, business or imaginary transactions; or by
means of other similar deceits.

xxx xxx xxx


It was proven during trial that Milla misrepresented himself to have the authority
to sell the subject property, and it was precisely this misrepresentation that
prompted MPI to purchase it. Because of its reliance on his authority and on the
falsified Deed of Absolute Sale and TCT No. 218777, MPI parted with its money
in the amount of P2 million, which has not been returned until now despite Millas
allegation of novation. Clearly, he is guilty beyond reasonable doubt of estafa
through falsification of public documents.

WHEREFORE, we resolve to DENY the Petition. The assailed Decision and


Resolution of the Court of Appeals are hereby AFFIRMED.

SO ORDERED.

Del Castillo vs People

For this Court's consideration is the Petition for Review[1] on Certiorari under
Rule 45 of Ruben del Castillo assailing the Decision[2] dated July 31, 2006 and
Resolution[3] dated December 13, 2007 of the Court of Appeals (CA) in CA-G.R.
CR No. 27819, which affirmed the Decision[4] dated March 14, 2003 of the
Regional Trial Court (RTC), Branch 12, Cebu, in Criminal Case No. CBU-46291,
finding petitioner guilty beyond reasonable doubt of violation of Section 16, Article
III of Republic Act (R.A.) 6425.

The facts, as culled from the records, are the following:

Pursuant to a confidential information that petitioner was engaged in selling


shabu, police officers headed by SPO3 Bienvenido Masnayon, after conducting
surveillance and test-buy operation at the house of petitioner, secured a search
warrant from the RTC and around 3 o'clock in the afternoon of September 13,
1997, the same police operatives went to Gil Tudtud St., Mabolo, Cebu City to
serve the search warrant to petitioner.

Upon arrival, somebody shouted raid, which prompted them to immediately


disembark from the jeep they were riding and went directly to petitioner's house
and cordoned it. The structure of the petitioner's residence is a two-storey house
and the petitioner was staying in the second floor. When they went upstairs, they
met petitioner's wife and informed her that they will implement the search
warrant. But before they can search the area, SPO3 Masnayon claimed that he
saw petitioner run towards a small structure, a nipa hut, in front of his house.
Masnayon chased him but to no avail, because he and his men were not familiar
with the entrances and exits of the place.

They all went back to the residence of the petitioner and closely guarded the
place where the subject ran for cover. SPO3 Masnayon requested his men to get
a barangay tanod and a few minutes thereafter, his men returned with two
barangay tanods.

In the presence of the barangay tanod, Nelson Gonzalado, and the elder sister of
petitioner named Dolly del Castillo, searched the house of petitioner including the
nipa hut where the petitioner allegedly ran for cover. His men who searched the
residence of the petitioner found nothing, but one of the barangay tanods was
able to confiscate from the nipa hut several articles, including four (4) plastic
packs containing white crystalline substance. Consequently, the articles that
were confiscated were sent to the PNP Crime Laboratory for examination. The
contents of the four (4) heat- sealed transparent plastic packs were subjected to
laboratory examination, the result of which proved positive for the presence of
methamphetamine hydrochloride, or shabu.

Thus, an Information was filed before the RTC against petitioner, charging him
with violation of Section 16, Article III of R.A. 6425, as amended. The
Information[5] reads:

That on or about the 13th day of September 1997, at about 3:00 p.m. in the City
of Cebu, Philippines and within the jurisdiction of this Honorable Court, the said
accused, with deliberate intent, did then and there have in his possession and
control four (4) packs of white crystalline powder, having a total weight of 0.31
gram, locally known as shabu, all containing methamphetamine hydrochloride, a
regulated drug, without license or prescription from any competent authority.

CONTRARY TO LAW.[6]
During arraignment, petitioner, with the assistance of his counsel, pleaded not
guilty.[7] Subsequently, trial on the merits ensued.

To prove the earlier mentioned incident, the prosecution presented the


testimonies of SPO3 Bienvenido Masnayon, PO2 Milo Arriola, and Forensic
Analyst, Police Inspector Mutchit Salinas.

The defense, on the other hand, presented the testimonies of petitioner, Jesusa
del Castillo, Dalisay del Castillo and Herbert Aclan, which can be summarized as
follows:

On September 13, 1997, around 3 o'clock in the afternoon, petitioner was


installing the electrical wirings and airconditioning units of the Four Seasons
Canteen and Beauty Parlor at Wacky Bldg., Cabancalan, Cebu. He was able to
finish his job around 6 o'clock in the evening, but he was engaged by the owner
of the establishment in a conversation. He was able to go home around 8:30-9
o'clock in the evening. It was then that he learned from his wife that police
operatives searched his house and found nothing. According to him, the small
structure, 20 meters away from his house where they found the confiscated
items, was owned by his older brother and was used as a storage place by his
father.

After trial, the RTC found petitioner guilty beyond reasonable of the charge
against him in the Information. The dispositive portion of the Decision reads:

WHEREFORE, premises considered, this Court finds the accused Ruben del
Castillo alyas Boy Castillo, GUILTY of violating Section 16, Article III, Republic
Act No. 6425, as amended. There being no mitigating nor aggravating
circumstances proven before this Court, and applying the Indeterminate
Sentence Law, he is sentenced to suffer the penalty of Six (6) Months and One
(1) Day as Minimum and Four (4) Years and Two (2) Months as Maximum of
Prision Correccional.

The four (4) small plastic packets of white crystalline substance having a total
weight of 0.31 gram, positive for the presence of methamphetamine
hydrochloride, are ordered confiscated and shall be destroyed in accordance with
the law.

SO ORDERED.[8]

Aggrieved, petitioner appealed his case with the CA, but the latter affirmed the
decision of the RTC, thus:

WHEREFORE, the challenged Decision is AFFIRMED in toto and the appeal is


DISMISSED, with costs against accused-appellant.

SO ORDERED.[9]

After the motion for reconsideration of petitioner was denied by the CA, petitioner
filed with this Court the present petition for certiorari under Rule 45 of the Rules
of Court with the following arguments raised:

1. THE COURT OF APPEALS ERRED IN ITS APPLICATION OF THE


PROVISIONS OF THE CONSTITUTION, THE RULES OF COURT AND
ESTABLISHED JURISPRUDENCE VIS-A-VIS VALIDITY OF SEARCH
WARRANT NO. 570-9-1197-24;

2. THE COURT OF APPEALS ERRED IN RULING THAT THE FOUR


(4) PACKS OF WHITE CRYSTALLINE POWDER ALLEGEDLY FOUND ON THE
FLOOR OF THE NIPA HUT OR STRUCTURE ARE ADMISSIBLE IN EVIDENCE
AGAINST THE PETITIONER, NOT ONLY BECAUSE THE SAID COURT
SIMPLY PRESUMED THAT IT WAS USED BY THE PETITIONER OR THAT THE
PETITIONER RAN TO IT FOR COVER WHEN THE SEARCHING TEAM
ARRIVED AT HIS RESIDENCE, BUT ALSO, PRESUMING THAT THE SAID
NIPA HUT OR STRUCTURE WAS INDEED USED BY THE PETITIONER AND
THE FOUR (4) PACKS OF WHITE CRYSTALLINE POWDER WERE FOUND
THEREAT. THE SUBJECT FOUR (4) PACKS OF WHITE CRYSTALLINE
POWDER ARE FRUITS OF THE POISONOUS TREE; and

3. THE COURT OF APPEALS ERRED IN ITS APPLICATION OF THE


ELEMENT OF POSSESSION AS AGAINST THE PETITIONER, AS IT WAS IN
VIOLATION OF THE ESTABLISHED JURISPRUDENCE ON THE MATTER.
HAD THE SAID COURT PROPERLY APPLIED THE ELEMENT IN QUESTION,
IT COULD HAVE BEEN ASSAYED THAT THE SAME HAD NOT BEEN
PROVEN.[10]

The Office of the Solicitor General (OSG), in its Comment dated February 10,
2009, enumerated the following counter-arguments:

SEARCH WARRANT No. 570-9-11-97-24 issued by Executive Judge Priscilla S.


Agana of Branch 24, Regional Trial Court of Cebu City is valid.

II

The four (4) packs of shabu seized inside the shop of petitioner are admissible in
evidence against him.

III

The Court of Appeals did not err in finding him guilty of illegal possession of
prohibited drugs.[11]

Petitioner insists that there was no probable cause to issue the search warrant,
considering that SPO1 Reynaldo Matillano, the police officer who applied for it,
had no personal knowledge of the alleged illegal sale of drugs during a test-buy
operation conducted prior to the application of the same search warrant. The
OSG, however, maintains that the petitioner, aside from failing to file the
necessary motion to quash the search warrant pursuant to Section 14, Rule 127
of the Revised Rules on Criminal Procedure, did not introduce clear and
convincing evidence to show that Masnayon was conscious of the falsity of his
assertion or representation.

Anent the second argument, petitioner asserts that the nipa hut located about 20
meters away from his house is no longer within the permissible area that may be
searched by the police officers due to the distance and that the search warrant
did not include the same nipa hut as one of the places to be searched. The OSG,
on the other hand, argues that the constitutional guaranty against unreasonable
searches and seizure is applicable only against government authorities and not
to private individuals such as the barangay tanod who found the folded paper
containing packs of shabu inside the nipa hut.

As to the third argument raised, petitioner claims that the CA erred in finding him
guilty beyond reasonable doubt of illegal possession of prohibited drugs,
because he could not be presumed to be in possession of the same just because
they were found inside the nipa hut. Nevertheless, the OSG dismissed the
argument of the petitioner, stating that, when prohibited and regulated drugs are
found in a house or other building belonging to and occupied by a particular
person, the presumption arises that such person is in possession of such drugs
in violation of law, and the fact of finding the same is sufficient to convict.

This Court finds no merit on the first argument of petitioner.

The requisites for the issuance of a search warrant are: (1) probable cause is
present; (2) such probable cause must be determined personally by the judge;
(3) the judge must examine, in writing and under oath or affirmation, the
complainant and the witnesses he or she may produce; (4) the applicant and the
witnesses testify on the facts personally known to them; and (5) the warrant
specifically describes the place to be searched and the things to be seized.[12]
According to petitioner, there was no probable cause. Probable cause for a
search warrant is defined as such facts and circumstances which would lead a
reasonably discreet and prudent man to believe that an offense has been
committed and that the objects sought in connection with the offense are in the
place sought to be searched.[13] A finding of probable cause needs only to rest
on evidence showing that, more likely than not, a crime has been committed and
that it was committed by the accused. Probable cause demands more than bare
suspicion; it requires less than evidence which would justify conviction.[14] The
judge, in determining probable cause, is to consider the totality of the
circumstances made known to him and not by a fixed and rigid formula,[15] and
must employ a flexible, totality of the circumstances standard.[16] The existence
depends to a large degree upon the finding or opinion of the judge conducting
the examination. This Court, therefore, is in no position to disturb the factual
findings of the judge which led to the issuance of the search warrant. A
magistrate's determination of probable cause for the issuance of a search
warrant is paid great deference by a reviewing court, as long as there was
substantial basis for that determination.[17] Substantial basis means that the
questions of the examining judge brought out such facts and circumstances as
would lead a reasonably discreet and prudent man to believe that an offense has
been committed, and the objects in connection with the offense sought to be
seized are in the place sought to be searched.[18] A review of the records shows
that in the present case, a substantial basis exists.

With regard to the second argument of petitioner, it must be remembered that the
warrant issued must particularly describe the place to be searched and persons
or things to be seized in order for it to be valid. A designation or description that
points out the place to be searched to the exclusion of all others, and on inquiry
unerringly leads the peace officers to it, satisfies the constitutional requirement of
definiteness.[19] In the present case, Search Warrant No. 570-9-1197-24[20]
specifically designates or describes the residence of the petitioner as the place to
be searched. Incidentally, the items were seized by a barangay tanod in a nipa
hut, 20 meters away from the residence of the petitioner. The confiscated items,
having been found in a place other than the one described in the search warrant,
can be considered as fruits of an invalid warrantless search, the presentation of
which as an evidence is a violation of petitioner's constitutional guaranty against
unreasonable searches and seizure. The OSG argues that, assuming that the
items seized were found in another place not designated in the search warrant,
the same items should still be admissible as evidence because the one who
discovered them was a barangay tanod who is a private individual, the
constitutional guaranty against unreasonable searches and seizure being
applicable only against government authorities. The contention is devoid of merit.

It was testified to during trial by the police officers who effected the search
warrant that they asked the assistance of the barangay tanods, thus, in the
testimony of SPO3 Masnayon:

Fiscal Centino:

Q For how long did the chase take place?

A Just a very few moments.

Q After that, what did you [do] when you were not able to reach him?

A I watched his shop and then I requested my men to get a barangay tanod.

Q Were you able to get a barangay tanod?

A Yes.

Q Can you tell us what is the name of the barangay tanod?

A Nelson Gonzalado.

Q For point of clarification, how many barangay tanod [did] your driver get?

A Two.
Q What happened after that?

A We searched the house, but we found negative.

Q Who proceeded to the second floor of the house?

A SPO1 Cirilo Pogoso and Milo Areola went upstairs and found nothing.

Q What about you, where were you?

A I [was] watching his shop and I was with Matillano.

Q What about the barangay tanod?

A Together with Milo and Pogoso.

Q When the search at the second floor of the house yielded negative what did
you do?

A They went downstairs because I was suspicious of his shop because he ran
from his shop, so we searched his shop.

Q Who were with you when you searched the shop?

A The barangay tanod Nilo Gonzalado, the elder sister of Ruben del Castillo
named Dolly del Castillo.

Q You mean to say, that when (sic) SPO1 Reynaldo Matillano, Barangay Tanod
Nilo Gonzalado and the elder sister of Ruben del Castillo were together in the
shop?

A Yes.
Q What happened at the shop?

A One of the barangay tanods was able to pick up white folded paper.

Q What [were] the contents of that white folded paper?

A A plastic pack containing white crystalline.

Q Was that the only item?

A There are others like the foil, scissor.

Q Were you present when those persons found those tin foil and others inside
the electric shop?

A Yes.[21]

The fact that no items were seized in the residence of petitioner and that the
items that were actually seized were found in another structure by a barangay
tanod, was corroborated by PO2 Arriola, thus:

FISCAL:

Q So, upon arriving at the house of Ruben del Castillo alias Boy, can you still
recall what took place?

A We cordoned the area.

Q And after you cordoned the area, did anything happen?

A We waited for the barangay tanod.


Q And did the barangay tanod eventually appear?

A Yes. And then we started our search in the presence of Ruben del Castillo's
wife.

Q What is the name of the wife of Ruben del Castillo?

A I cannot recall her name, but if I see her I can recall [her] face.

Q What about Ruben del Castillo, was she around when [you] conducted the
search?

A No. Ruben was not in the house. But our team leader, team mate Bienvenido
Masnayon saw that Ruben ran away from his adjacent electronic shop near his
house, in front of his house.

Q Did you find anything during the search in the house of Ruben del Castillo?

A After our search in the house, we did not see anything. The house was clean.

Q What did you do afterwards, if any?

A We left (sic) out of the house and proceeded to his electronic shop.

Q Do you know the reason why you proceeded to his electronic shop?

A Yes. Because our team leader Bienvenido Masnayon saw that (sic) Ruben run
from that store and furthermore the door was open.

Q How far is the electronic shop from the house of Ruben del Castillo?

A More or less, 5 to 6 meters in front of his house.

xxxx
Q So, who entered inside the electronic shop?

A The one who first entered the electronic shop is our team leader Bienvenido
Masnayon.

Q You mentioned that Masnayon entered first. Do you mean to say that there
were other persons or other person that followed after Masnayon?

A Then we followed suit.

Q All of your police officers and the barangay tanod followed suit?

A I led Otadoy and the barangay tanod.

Q What about you?

A I also followed suit.

Q And did anything happen inside the shop of Ruben del Castillo?

A It was the barangay tanod who saw the folded paper and I saw him open the
folded paper which contained four shabu deck.

Q How far were you when you saw the folded paper and the tanod open the
folded paper?

A We were side by side because the shop was very small.[22]

SPO1 Pogoso also testified on the same matter, thus:


FISCAL CENTINO:

Q And where did you conduct the search, Mr. Witness?

A At his residence, the two-storey house.

Q Among the three policemen, who were with you in conducting the search at the
residence of the accused?

A I, Bienvenido Masnayon.

Q And what transpired after you searched the house of Ruben del Castillo?

A Negative, no shabu.

Q And what happened afterwards, if any?

A We went downstairs and proceeded to the small house.

Q Can you please describe to this Honorable Court, what was that small house
which you proceeded to?

A It is a nipa hut.

Q And more or less, how far or near was it from the house of Ruben del Castillo?

A 5 to 10 meters.

Q And could you tell Mr. Witness, what was that nipa hut supposed to be?

A That was the electronic shop of Ruben del Castillo.


Q And what happened when your team proceeded to the nipa hut?

A I was just outside the nipa hut.

Q And who among the team went inside?

A PO2 Milo Areola and the Barangay Tanod.[23]

Having been established that the assistance of the barangay tanods was sought
by the police authorities who effected the searched warrant, the same barangay
tanods therefore acted as agents of persons in authority. Article 152 of the
Revised Penal Code defines persons in authority and agents of persons in
authority as:

x x x any person directly vested with jurisdiction, whether as an individual or as a


member of some court or governmental corporation, board or commission, shall
be deemed a person in authority. A barangay captain and a barangay chairman
shall also be deemed a person in authority.

A person who, by direct provision of law or by election or by appointment by


competent authority, is charged with the maintenance of public order and the
protection and security of life and property, such as barrio councilman, barrio
policeman and barangay leader, and any person who comes to the aid of
persons in authority, shall be deemed an agent of a person in authority.

The Local Government Code also contains a provision which describes the
function of a barangay tanod as an agent of persons in authority. Section 388 of
the Local Government Code reads:

SEC. 388. Persons in Authority. - For purposes of the Revised Penal Code, the
punong barangay, sangguniang barangay members, and members of the lupong
tagapamayapa in each barangay shall be deemed as persons in authority in their
jurisdictions, while other barangay officials and members who may be designated
by law or ordinance and charged with the maintenance of public order, protection
and security of life and property, or the maintenance of a desirable and balanced
environment, and any barangay member who comes to the aid of persons in
authority, shall be deemed agents of persons in authority.

By virtue of the above provisions, the police officers, as well as the barangay
tanods were acting as agents of a person in authority during the conduct of the
search. Thus, the search conducted was unreasonable and the confiscated items
are inadmissible in evidence. Assuming ex gratia argumenti that the barangay
tanod who found the confiscated items is considered a private individual, thus,
making the same items admissible in evidence, petitioner's third argument that
the prosecution failed to establish constructive possession of the regulated drugs
seized, would still be meritorious.

Appellate courts will generally not disturb the factual findings of the trial court
since the latter has the unique opportunity to weigh conflicting testimonies,
having heard the witnesses themselves and observed their deportment and
manner of testifying,[24] unless attended with arbitrariness or plain disregard of
pertinent facts or circumstances, the factual findings are accorded the highest
degree of respect on appeal[25] as in the present case.

It must be put into emphasis that this present case is about the violation of
Section 16 of R.A. 6425. In every prosecution for the illegal possession of shabu,
the following essential elements must be established: (a) the accused is found in
possession of a regulated drug; (b) the person is not authorized by law or by duly
constituted authorities; and (c) the accused has knowledge that the said drug is a
regulated drug.[26]

In People v. Tira,[27] this Court explained the concept of possession of regulated


drugs, to wit:
This crime is mala prohibita, and, as such, criminal intent is not an essential
element. However, the prosecution must prove that the accused had the intent to
possess (animus posidendi) the drugs. Possession, under the law, includes not
only actual possession, but also constructive possession. Actual possession
exists when the drug is in the immediate physical possession or control of the
accused. On the other hand, constructive possession exists when the drug is
under the dominion and control of the accused or when he has the right to
exercise dominion and control over the place where it is found. Exclusive
possession or control is not necessary. The accused cannot avoid conviction if
his right to exercise control and dominion over the place where the contraband is
located, is shared with another.[28]

While it is not necessary that the property to be searched or seized should be


owned by the person against whom the search warrant is issued, there must be
sufficient showing that the property is under appellants control or possession.[29]
The CA, in its Decision, referred to the possession of regulated drugs by the
petitioner as a constructive one. Constructive possession exists when the drug is
under the dominion and control of the accused or when he has the right to
exercise dominion and control over the place where it is found.[30] The records
are void of any evidence to show that petitioner owns the nipa hut in question nor
was it established that he used the said structure as a shop. The RTC, as well as
the CA, merely presumed that petitioner used the said structure due to the
presence of electrical materials, the petitioner being an electrician by profession.
The CA, in its Decision, noted a resolution by the investigating prosecutor, thus:

x x x As admitted by respondent's wife, her husband is an electrician by


occupation. As such, conclusion could be arrived at that the structure, which
housed the electrical equipments is actually used by the respondent. Being the
case, he has control of the things found in said structure.[31]

In addition, the testimonies of the witnesses for the prosecution do not also
provide proof as to the ownership of the structure where the seized articles were
found. During their direct testimonies, they just said, without stating their basis,
that the same structure was the shop of petitioner.[32] During the direct testimony
of SPO1 Pogoso, he even outrightly concluded that the electrical shop/nipa hut
was owned by petitioner, thus:

FISCAL CENTINO:

Q Can you please describe to this Honorable Court, what was that small house
which you proceeded to?

A It is a nipa hut.

Q And more or less, how far or near was it from the house of Ruben del Castillo?

A 5 to 10 meters.

Q And could you tell Mr. Witness, what was that nipa hut supposed to be?

A That was the electronic shop of Ruben del Castillo.

Q And what happened when your team proceeded to the nipa hut?

A I was just outside the nipa hut.[33]

However, during cross-examination, SPO3 Masnayon admitted that there was an


electrical shop but denied what he said in his earlier testimony that it was owned
by petitioner, thus:

ATTY. DAYANDAYAN:

Q You testified that Ruben del Castillo has an electrical shop, is that correct?

A He came out of an electrical shop. I did not say that he owns the shop.
Q Now, this shop is within a structure?

A Yes.

Q How big is the structure?

A It is quite a big structure, because at the other side is a mahjong den and at the
other side is a structure rented by a couple.[34]

The prosecution must prove that the petitioner had knowledge of the existence
and presence of the drugs in the place under his control and dominion and the
character of the drugs.[35] With the prosecution's failure to prove that the nipa
hut was under petitioner's control and dominion, there casts a reasonable doubt
as to his guilt. In considering a criminal case, it is critical to start with the law's
own starting perspective on the status of the accused - in all criminal
prosecutions, he is presumed innocent of the charge laid unless the contrary is
proven beyond reasonable doubt.[36] Proof beyond reasonable doubt, or that
quantum of proof sufficient to produce a moral certainty that would convince and
satisfy the conscience of those who act in judgment, is indispensable to
overcome the constitutional presumption of innocence.[37]

WHEREFORE, the Decision dated July 31, 2006 of the Court of Appeals in CA-
G. R. No. 27819, which affirmed the Decision dated March 14, 2003 of the
Regional Trial Court, Branch 12, Cebu, in Criminal Case No. CBU-46291 is
hereby REVERSED and SET ASIDE. Petitioner Ruben del Castillo is
ACQUITTED on reasonable doubt.

PEOPLE OF THE PHILIPPINES, plaintiff-appellee,

vs.

RlCARDO RIO, accused-appellant.


Convicted of rape and sentenced to reclusion perpetua by the Regional Trial
Court, Branch CXLVI * of Makati, Metro Manila, in Criminal Case No. 12042,
accused-appellant Ricardo Rio interposed his appeal and as a consequence, the
clerk of court of said regional trial court branch forwarded the records of the case
to the Court of Appeals. The appellate court, however, forwarded the records of
the case to the Supreme Court in view of the penalty imposed upon the accused.

On 29 December 1989, the accused-appellant Ricardo Rio, in two (2) letters


dated 14 December 1989, addressed to Division Clerk of Court Fermin J. Garma
and to Assistant Clerk of Court Tomasita M. Dris, manifested his intention to
withdraw the appeal due to his poverty. 1

The Court resolved in a resolution dated 22 June 1990 to require the Solicitor
General to comment on the appellant's manifestation to withdraw the appeal.

In the Comment filed by the Solicitor General, the action recommended was for
the Court to ascertain from the accused-appellant, through the clerk of court of
the trial court, whether he desired the appointment of a counsel de oficio on
appeal, in view of the reasons stated by him for the withdrawal of his appeal, and
inasmuch as poverty should not preclude anyone from pursuing a cause. It was
also recommended that the clerk of court of the trial court be required by the
Court to submit the response of the accused-appellant along with a certificate of
compliance with the duty imposed on him 2 by Section 13, of Rule 122 of the
Rules of Court, which provides:

Sec. 13. Appointment of counsel de oficio for accused on appeal. It shall be


the duty of the clerk of the trial court upon the presentation of a notice of appeal
in a criminal case, to ascertain from the appellant, if he is confined in prison,
whether he desires the Intermediate Appellate Court or the Supreme Court to
appoint a counsel to defend him de oficio and to transmit with the record, upon a
form to be prepared by the clerk of the appellate court, a certificate of compliance
with this duty and of the response of the appellant to his inquiry.

The branch clerk of the trial court, in a letter addressed to the Assistant Clerk of
Court of the Second Division, this Court, in compliance with the resolution of this
Court, dated 16 April 1990, adopting the suggestions of the Solicitor General,
which required him to comply with his duty mandated in Section 13, Rule 122 of
the Rules of Court, submitted the reply of the accused-appellant informing the
Court that he was no longer interested in pursuing his appeal and had, in fact,
withdrawn his appeal. 3

Upon recommendation of the Solicitor General, however, the Court in a


resolution dated 1 October 1990, denied the appellant's motion withdrawing the
appeal and appointed a counsel de oficio for the accused-appellant for, as
correctly observed by the Solicitor General, all the letters of the accused-
appellant reveal that the only reason offered by him for the withdrawal of his
appeal is his inability to retain the services of a counsel de parte on account of
his poverty, a reason which should not preclude anyone from seeking justice in
any forum. 4

It seems that the accused-appellant was unaware that this Court can appoint a
counsel de oficio to prosecute his appeal pursuant to Section 13 of Rule 122 of
the Rules of Court and the constitutional mandate provided in Section 11 of
Article III of the 1987 Constitution which reads as follows:

Sec. 11. Free access to the courts and quasi-judicial bodies and adequate legal
assistance shall not be denied to any person by reason of poverty.

This constitutional provision imposes a duty on the judicial branch of the


government which can cannot be taken lightly. "The Constitution", as aptly stated
in one case, "is a law for rulers and for people equally in war and in peace and
covers with the shield of its protection all classes of men at all times and under all
circumstances." 5

Paraphrasing Mr. Justice Malcolm, "Two (2) of the basic privileges of the accused
in a criminal prosecution are the right to the assistance of counsel and the right to
a preliminary examination. President Mckinley made the first a part of the
Organic Law in his Instructions to the Commission by imposing the inviolable rule
that in all criminal prosecutions the accused 'shall enjoy the right ... to have
assistance of counsel for the defense' ". 6 Today said right is enshrined in the
1987 Constitution for, as Judge Cooley says, this is "perhaps the privilege most
important to the person accused of crime." 7

"In criminal cases there can be no fair hearing unless the accused be given an
opportunity to be heard by counsel. The right to be heard would be of little
meaning if it does not include the right to be heard by counsel. Even the most
intelligent or educated man may have no skill in the 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 not know how to establish his
innocence. And this can happen more easily to 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 constitutional right and it is so
implemented that under our rules of procedure it is not enough for the Court to
apprise an accused of his right to have an attorney, it is not enough to ask him
whether he desires the aid of an attorney, but it is essential that the court should
assign one de oficio for him if he so desires and he is poor, or grant him a
reasonable time to procure an attorney of his own." 8

This right to a counsel de oficio does not cease upon the conviction of an
accused by a trial court. It continues, even during appeal, such that the duty of
the court to assign a counsel de oficio persists where an accused interposes an
intent to appeal. Even in a case, such as the one at bar, where the accused had
signified his intent to withdraw his appeal, the court is required to inquire into the
reason for the withdrawal. Where it finds the sole reason for the withdrawal to be
poverty, as in this case, the court must assign a counsel de oficio, for despite
such withdrawal, the duty to protect the rights of the accused subsists and
perhaps, with greater reason. After all, "those who have less in life must have
more in law." 9 Justice should never be limited to those who have the means. It is
for everyone, whether rich or poor. Its scales should always be balanced and
should never equivocate or cogitate in order to favor one party over another.

It is with this thought in mind that we charge clerks of court of trial courts to be
more circumspect with the duty imposed on them by law (Section 13, Rule 122 of
the Rules of Court) so that courts will be above reproach and that never (if
possible) will an innocent person be sentenced for a crime he has not committed
nor the guilty allowed to go scot-free.

In this spirit, the Court ordered the appointment of a counsel de oficio for the
accused-appellant and for said counsel and the Solicitor General to file their
respective briefs, upon submission of which the case would be deemed
submitted for decision.

From the records of the case, it is established that the accused-appellant was
charged with the crime of rape in a verified complaint filed by complainant Wilma
Phua Rio, duly subscribed before 3rd Assistant Fiscal Rodolfo M. Alejandro of the
province of Rizal, which reads as follows:

That on or about the 24th day of March, 1984, in the Municipality of Muntinlupa,
Metro Manila, Philippines, a place within the jurisdiction of this Honorable Court,
the above-named accused, by means of force and intimidation did then and there
wilfully, unlawfully and feloniously have carnal knowledge of the undersigned
Wilma Phua against her will. 10

On 26 June 1985, at the arraignment, the accused-appellant, assisted by Atty.


Leonido Manalo of the Makati CLAO office, as counsel de oficio, entered a plea
of not guilty to the offense charged. 11 The evidence for the prosecution adduced
at the trial established the following facts:

During the months of February and March 1984, complainant Wilma Phua, then
only 13 years of age, was living with her mother and three (3) sisters in a house
in Barangay Bayanan, Municipality of Muntinlupa, Metro Manila. At a distance of
about three (3) meters from this house is another house with a toilet and bath
also owned by complainant's mother but which was uninhabited at that time. The
accused, complainant's uncle, being the younger brother of complainant's
mother, was staying in their house, free of board and lodging, although he helped
in the household chores. The children used the bathroom in the uninhabited
house because the amenities in the inhabited house were used only by the
adults. 12
At about 2:00 o'clock in the afternoon of 24 March 1984, classes having closed
for vacation and while Maria Zena Phua Rio was in the house occupied by her
family, her daughter Wilma (complainant) asked her for the key to the comfort
room of the uninhabited house because she had to answer a call of nature. After
having delivered the key to Wilma, the latter proceeded to the other house,
entered the comfort room, and seeing that nobody was around and that her uncle
was washing dishes in their house, proceeded to answer nature's call without
taking the precaution of locking the comfort room from inside. 13

After relieving herself but before she could raise her panty, the accused entered
the bathroom with his body already exposed, held Wilma's hands, and ordered
her in a loud voice to lie down and when she resisted, the accused got mad and
ordered her to lie down. After she lay down on her back, the accused put himself
on top of her and tried to insert his private organ into her private part. Wilma kept
pushing the accused away and calling for her mother; however, since the
accused was heavier than she, the accused succeeded in overpowering her,
inserting his penis into her vagina and having sexual intercourse with her. After
satisfying his lust, the accused released Wilma and allowed her to leave the
bathroom. 14

Outside the bathroom door, complainant met her mother Maria Zena who,
meanwhile, had proceeded to the said other house after sensing that an
inordinate length of time had passed and her daughter, complainant herein, had
not returned from the bathroom. Maria Zena, upon noticing that Wilma was
speechless, trembling and looking fearful, suspected something remiss so she
tried to open the door of the bathroom. Unable to open it the first time because it
was locked from inside, Maria Zena waited a few minutes before pushing the
door again. This time she was successful in finding her brother, the herein
accused-appellant in the process of raising his pants. Maria Zena was ignored by
her brother when she asked him the reason for his presence inside the
bathroom. 15

Still suspecting that the accused has done something to her daughter, Maria
Zena continued her inquisition of her brother for several days but to no avail.
Finally, on 9 April 1984, the accused was asked to leave the house and move out
by his sister Maria Zena. 16
Only after the departure of the accused did Wilma report to her mother the fact
that she had been raped by the accused four (4) times between the months of
February and March of that year (1984). After receiving such information, Maria
Zena wanted her daughter to immediately undergo physical examination;
however, Wilma, apparently traumatized by her experience, was too weak to go
with her for such examination and frequently suffered from fainting spells. It was
only on 30 April 1984 that Maria Zena was able to bring Wilma to the police to
report the matter and to file the complaint. After the report to the police, they were
referred to the P.C. Crime Laboratory at Camp Crame where Wilma underwent
physical examination. 17

Dr. Dario Gajardo, the physician who conducted the internal examination of
Wilma, submitted a report of his examination dated 6 May 1984. The medical
report showed, among others, the following findings:

There is a scanty growth of pubic hair. Labia majora are full, convex and gaping
which pale brown, slightly hypertrophied labia minora presenting in between. On
separating the same is disclosed an elastic, fleshly-type hymen with deep
lacerations at 3, 8 and 9 o'clock. ... 18

The medical report also showed that "there was (sic) no external signs of recent
application of any form of trauma." 19 All these findings led him to conclude that
Wilma is "in a non-virgin state physicially." 20 Later, on the witness stand, Dr.
Gajardo would further testify that Wilma, on inquiry, revealed that the first rape
happened in the month of February 1984, but that he could not tell the
approximate period or age of the lacerations. 21

Armed with this medical report, Maria Zena and Wilma went back to the police
where a sworn statement of Wilma was taken and the complaint for rape against
the accused was filed before Third Assistant Fiscal Rodolfo M. Alejandro on 12
May 1984. 22

The evidence for the defense consisted of the testimony of the accused himself
and his brother, Amado Rio. The accused's defense was anchored on alibi and
he substantially testified as follows: that contrary to the statements made by the
witnesses for the prosecution, he was not asked to leave their house in April
1984, the truth being that he left in the month of January 1984 or about a month
before the alleged first rape on Wilma was committed because, contrary to an
alleged employment agreement between brother and sister, his sister, Maria
Zena, had not paid him any salary as helper in their house; that from the month
of January 1984, up to 24 March 1984 when the rape charged in the complaint
was allegedly committed, he was in their hometown in Kambalo, Cahidiocan,
province of Romblon; that at the time of his arrest, he was informed of the
criminal charge of rape on his niece filed against him in court; that from January
1984 up to the time of his arrest on 6 May 1984, he had stayed in the house of
his uncle, Francisco Rio, and had never left the place during the whole period.

The accused vehemently denied the rape and conjectured that his sister could
have fabricated the charge because he left her house due to her non-payment of
his salary as helper. The brother of the accused in the person of Amado Rio
corroborated the defense of alibi of the accused. 23

On rebuttal, the prosecution presented Nemesia B. Merca, the Election Registrar


of the Municipality of Muntinlupa, who brought with her a Voter's Affidavit which
was executed on 31 March 1984 by one Ricardo Rio and was subscribed and
sworn to on 31 March 1984 before Tessie Balbas, Chairman of Voting Center No.
37-A of Bayanan, Muntinlupa, Metro Manila. On cross-examination, Registrar
Merca admitted that she does not know the accused personally but that the xerox
copy of the Voter's Affidavit that she brought to court was copied from a book
containing about 60 voter's affidavits of said precinct. 24

After comparing the signature appealing in the Voter's Affidavit with the
penmanship appearing on a letter 25 dated 12 December 1985 written by the
accused to his brother, Amado Rio and on the envelope of said letter, 26 the trial
court ruled that the writing characteristics on the presented documents are the
same, especially the rounded dot over the letter "i" appearing in the afore-
mentioned mentioned documents. It was, therefore, satisfied that the Voter's
Affidavit was indeed prepared by the accused in Bayanan, Muntinlupa, Metro
Manila, on 31 March 1984, before Tessie Balbas and that this piece of evidence
completely belies the defense of the accused as corroborated by his brother,
Amado, that he was in Romblon continuously from the month of January 1984 up
to the time that he was arrested on 6 May 1984. 27

Thus, the trial court found the accused-appellant guilty of the crime of rape. The
dispositive portion of the decision reads as follows:

WHEREFORE, finding the above-named accused guilty of the crime charged in


the information beyond reasonable doubt the Court hereby sentences him to
suffer the penalty of reclusion perpetua, with the accessory penalties of the law,
to indemnify Wilma Phua in the sum of P15,000.00, Philippine currency, and to
pay the costs.

SO ORDERED.

The theory of the defense at the trial level was grounded on alibi. The accused
claimed that at the time of the alleged commission of the crime of rape he was in
Romblon. This claim was corroborated by the accused's brother, Amado Rio.
However, this claim was, as aforestated, rebutted by the prosecution's
submission of the voter's affidavit executed by the accused in Muntinlupa, Metro
Manila on 31 March 1984 when appellant claimed he was in Romblon.

Upon careful examination of the voter's affidavit, the Court is convinced, as the
trial court, that the affidavit was indeed executed by the accused himself and the
date appearing therein must be presumed correct and genuine.

Alibi is inherently a weak defense, easy of fabrication especially between parents


and children, husband and wife, and other relatives and even among those not
related to each other. For such defense to prosper, the accused must prove that
it was not possible for him to have been at the scene of the crime at the time of
its commission. 28

In the present case, where nothing supports the alibi except the testimony of a
relative, in this case the accused's brother Amado, it deserves but scant
consideration. 29 Moreover, the Court notes the fact that while the accused-
appellant had another brother and sister living in Manila besides the
complainant's mother, those two never came to his aid. Were the accused the
innocent man he claims to be, these siblings would have readily helped in his
defense. The testimony of his other brother Amado alone cannot raise the
necessary doubt to acquit him as against the evidence presented by the
prosecution.

Furthermore, it would be hard to believe that a female, especially a twelve-year


old child, would undergo the expense, trouble and inconvenience of a public trial,
not to mention suffer the scandal, embarrassment and humiliation such action
inevitably invites, as wen as allow an examination of her private parts if her
motive were not to bring to justice the person who had abused her. A victim of
rape will not come out in the open if her motive were not to obtain justice. 30

It is harder still to believe that the mother of a child of twelve will abuse her child
and make her undergo the trauma of a public trial only to punish someone, let
alone a brother, for leaving her without the services of an unpaid helper were it
not with the aim to seek justice for her child. Nobody in his right mind could
possibly wish to stamp his child falsely with the stigma that follows a rape.

On appeal, appellant's counsel de oficio changed the theory of the defense. The
new theory presented by counsel de oficio is that Wilma Phua consented when
accused-appellant had sexual intercourse with her on 24 March 1984. It was
stressed by counsel de oficio that the rape occurred on 24 March 1984 and that,
allegedly, it was the fourth time accused had abused complainant. This allegation
as well as the fact that complainant failed to lock the door to the bathroom could
only have been due to the fact that there was consent. The charge was filed,
according to defense counsel de oficio, only because the complainant's mother
caught them. 31

This theory of the defense on appeal that there had been consent from the
complainant, fails to generate doubt as to the accused's guilt, for it would be an
incredulous situation indeed to believe that one, so young and as yet uninitiated
to the ways of the world, would permit the occurrence of an incestuous
relationship with an uncle, a brother of her very own mother.

The Court notes the sudden swift in the theory of the defense from one of total
denial of the incident in question, by way of alibi, to one of participation, that is,
with the alleged consent of the complainant. This new version could only be
attributed by the Court to the fact that counsel on appeal is different from the
counsel in the trial court. Although the Solicitor General has suggested that this
sudden shift be interpreted as an afterthought by the accused or a desperate
effort to get himself acquitted, 32 the Court deems it more likely that this shift was
caused by counsel de oficio's preparation of the appellant's brief without
examining the entire records of the case. If the appointed counsel for the
accused, on appeal, had read the records and transcripts of the case thoroughly,
he would not have changed the theory of the defense for such a shift can never
speak well of the credibility of the defense. Moreover, the rule in civil procedure,
which applies equally in criminal cases, is that a party may not shift his theory on
appeal. If the counsel de oficio had been more conscientious, he would have
known that the sudden shift would be violative of aforementioned procedural rule
and detrimental to the cause of the accused-appellant (his client).

The Court hereby admonishes members of the Bar to be more conscious of their
duties as advocates of their clients' causes, whether acting de parte or de oficio,
for "public interest requires that an attorney exert his best efforts and ability in the
prosecution or defense of his client's cause." 33 Lawyers are an indispensable
part of the whole system of administering justice in this jurisdiction. 34 And a
lawyer who performs that duty with diligence and candor not only protects the
interests of his client; he also serves the ends of justice, does honor to the Bar
and helps maintain the respect of the community to the legal profession. This is
so because the entrusted privilege to practice law carries with it correlative duties
not only to the client but also to the court, to the bar and to the public. 35

While a lawyer is not supposed to know all the laws, 36 he is expected to take
such reasonable precaution in the discharge of his duty to his client and for his
professional guidance as will not make him, who is sworn to uphold the law, a
transgressor of its precepts. 37
The fact that he merely volunteered his services or the circumstance that he was
a counsel de oficio neither diminishes nor alters the degree of professional
responsibility owed to his client. 38 The ethics of the profession require that
counsel display warm zeal and great dedication to duty irrespective of the client's
capacity to pay him his fees. 39 Any attempted presentation of a case without
adequate preparation distracts the administration of justice and discredits the
Bar. 40

Returning to the case at bar, even if we consider the sudden shift of defense
theory as warranted (which we do not), the Court is just as convinced, beyond
reasonable doubt, that the accused-appellant is guilty of the crime as charged.
His conviction must be sustained.

WHEREFORE, the decision of the trial court finding the accused-appellant


Ricardo Rio guilty beyond reasonable doubt of the crime of rape and sentencing
him to the penalty of reclusion perpetua with all the accessory penalties of the
law, is hereby AFFIRMED. The Court, however, increases the amount of
indemnity to be paid by the accused-appellant to Wilma Phua to thirty thousand
pesos (P30,000.00) in line with prevailing jurisprudence on this matter. Costs
against accused-appellant.

SO ORDERED.

Teofilo Martinez vs. People of the Philippines

FACTS:

Teofilo Martinez, herein petitioner, was accused of homicide. Before the Regional
Trial Court, petitioner filed a motion to be allowed to litigate as pauper. However,
this was denied by the trial court and prompted petitioner to go to the Court of
Appeals by way of petition for certiorari. Petitioner alleged that the trial court
acted with grave abuse of discretion amounting to lack of jurisdiction when it
issued the assailed orders.
Later on, petitioner also filed with the Court of Appeals a motion to litigate as
pauper attaching thereto affidavits by himself and two disinterested persons of
his eligibility to avail this privilege. The appellate court subsequently issued a
resolution denying the motion and directing the petitioner to pay the proper
docketing fees within five (5) days from notice. Thereafter, Petitioner filed a
motion for reconsideration but this was also denied by the appellate court.
Petitioner then filed a manifestation through his counsel that he was transmitting
the docket fees required "under protest" and that the money was advanced by
his counsel. The transmittal was evidenced by two (2) postal money orders
attached to the motion to litigate as pauper.

In the assailed resolution, the Court of Appeals dismissed the petition on the
ground that petitioner failed to pay the required docket fees. Petitioner moved for
reconsideration citing his compliance with the required docket fee. In the second
assailed resolution, the Court of Appeals denied the latest motion on the ground
that it was short of 150.00.

ISSUE:

Whether or not the Court of Appeals acted with grave abuse of discretion in
denying petitioner's motion to appeal as pauper litigant?

RULING:

In the case at bar, the Supreme Court applied the 1997 Rules on Civil Procedure.
The Court held that a motion to litigate as indigent can be made even before the
appellate courts, either for the prosecution of appeals, in petitions for review or in
special civil actions. It maintained that the interpretation of the present rules is
more in keeping with the Bill of Rights, which decrees that "free access to the
courts and quasi-judicial bodies and adequate legal assistance shall not be
denied to any person by reason of poverty."

A perusal of the records shows that petitioner complied with all the evidentiary
requirements for prosecuting a motion to appear in court as pauper. The
affidavits executed by himself and two other disinterested persons were enough
to convince the court that petitioner is qualified to litigate as indigent.

The assailed resolutions of the Court of Appeals were set aside for having been
issued with grave abuse of discretion. Accordingly, the case is remanded for
appropriate action to the Court of Appeals which is further ordered to allow the
petitioner to litigate as pauper and to return to him the docket fees he paid.

PEOPLE OF THE PHILIPPINES, plaintiff-appellee,

vs.

STALIN GUEVARRA y PAPASIN accused-appellant.

Stalin Guevarra was convicted of murder by the Court of First Instance (now
Regional Trial Court) of Oriental Mindoro. 1 On appeal, the then Intermediate
Appellate Court (now Court of Appeals) rendered judgment on August 17, 1983,
increasing the indeterminate penalty from "TEN (10) YEARS and ONE (1) DAY,
of prision mayor, as minimum, to SEVENTEEN (17) YEARS and FOUR (4)
MONTHS, of reclusion temporal, as maximum, to indemnify the heirs of the
deceased in the amount of P12,000.00, without subsidiary imprisonment in case
of insolvency and to pay the costs," imposed by the trial court, to reclusion
perpetua, and affirmed in all other respects the appealed decision. 2 However,
considering that this case involves a capital offense, the appellate court could not
enter judgment. Conformably, therefore, to Daniel, 3 Ramos, 4 Galang, 5 and
similar cases the entire records were certified and elevated to us for review.

The facts are as follows:

On November 29, 1980, Joselito de los Reyes, twenty-three years of age,


assistant chief security guard at "Baklad" Naujan Oriental Mindoro, together with
Teofilo Martinez, a thirty-two year-old fisherman of Bancurro Naujan attended a
dance sponsored by the San Agustin Barangay High School. Teofilo saw
Eduardo Romero (still at large) and Stalin Guevarra together at the dance hall.
The affair was interrupted abruptly when someone stoned the school. At about
midnight, Joselito and Teofilo went home to Bancurro. Together with them were
Rosabel , Magno and Babylyn Martinez, both students, seventeen and
seventeen and eighteen years of age, respectively. Along the way, Teofilo held a
flashlight to illuminate the rocky path whereon Joselito, Rosabel, and Babylyn
walked. Suddenly, they were waylaid by Stalin and Eduardo. Stalin, 27 years old,
went immediately behind Joselito, and embraced him with both hands. 6 Joselito
struggled from the clutches of Stalin but in vain; the firm embrace locked the
whole body and both arms of Joselito. Facing the hapless Joselito, Eduardo got
his knife from his pocket, opened it, 7 and thrust the shiny and pointed end of the
weapon at the right side of Joselito's body just below his navel. 8 "May tama
ako," were the words uttered by Joselito just before he fell to the ground. 9
Teofilo, Babylyn, and Rosabel froze where they stood. The abruptness of the
incident petrified them. But after the stabbing the assailants fled in the direction
of San Agustin and disappeared in the dark. The beam of light from the flashlight
Teofilo carried, however, was sufficient to enable him and his two female
companions to witness clearly the stabbing of Joselito and to recognize the
appellant and Eduardo Romero, both known to them (Teofilo, Babylyn, and
Rosabel), as the perpetrators of the crime.

Bathed in blood, the victim was pedalled in a tricycle to the Naujan Police
Station. Unfortunately, Private First Class (Pfc) Henry Aceremo, the officer-in-
charge, was not able to get an ante mortem statement because the victim could
hardly talk. 10 He was hovering between life and death when he was rushed to
the clinic of Dr. Nicolas B. Balbin.

As a result of the mortal wound inflicted by Eduardo Romero, Joselito died.

Dr. Nicolas B. Balbin who conducted a post mortem examination, certified that
the cause of death was hemorrhage within the adbominal cavity, and that the
wound might have been caused by a sharp-bladed instrument, probably a
"balisong." 11

As a consequence, Pfcs Bautista and Aceremo accompanied by Rosabel and


Babylyn, went to the house of the appellant where he was found drunk. As to
Eduardo, he vanished from the barrio without a trace.

Subsequently, an information was filed stating:

That on or about the 29th day of November, 1980 at around 12:00 o'clock in the
evening, in Barangay San Agustin II, Municipality of

Naujan, Province of Oriental Mindoro, Philippines and within the jurisdiction of


this Honorable Court, the above named accused, with deliberate intent to kill, by
means of treachery and evident premeditation, conspiring and confabulating with
Eduardo Romero, who is still at large and therefore no preliminary investigation
has yet been conducted against him, did then and there wilfully, unlawfully and
feloniously attack, assault and stab with a sharp- pointed instrument one Joselito
delos Reyes, who was then unaware and helpless, inflicting upon the latter a
fatal stab wound, as a result of which caused his udden and unexpected death.

That in the commission of the offense, the qualifying circumstances of treachery


and evident premeditation, in addition to the aggravating circumstances of
superior strength and nocturnity, were present.

Contrary to Article 248 of the Revised Penal Code. 12

After trial, the trial court found Stalin Guevarra guilty and imposed the penalty
adverted to at the outset.

The appellant vehemently denies killing Joselito de los Reyes. He argues that if
indeed he had embraced the victim from behind to facilitate the commission of
the crime without posing any danger to his supposed co-conspirator or ,without
fear of reprisal from the victim, then he could have fled the scene out of a sense
of guilt, out of fear, or to avoid arrest and ultimate imprisonment. He did not leave
his barrio, however, instead, a few hours after the alleged commission of the
crime, he was found by the policemen boiling and eating bananas with the
Hernandez girls. He quotes: "It has been truly said, since long ago that the
wicked teeth, even when no man pursueth whereas the righteous are brave as
the lion." 13

We can not accept the appellant's submission. As a review of the records shows,
after the stabbing incident, both the appellant and Eduardo Romero hastily fled
into the night. This flight from the stabbing scene is a strong indication of a guilty
mind. 14 In small localities where people generally know one another and are
inclined, nay, expected, to show great concern for neighbors and even nodding
acquaintances who fall victim to cruel and inhuman acts, it would have been
natural for the appellant, if indeed he was innocent of the crime charged, to have
gone to the succor of the fallen Joselito; he would have taken him to the nearest
hospital. Or, at the very least, he could have reported the incident to the local
police authorities. But he did neither of these Good Samaritan acts. By his
account, he went home, obviously confident that he was not Identified as it was
nighttime. While it may be true that Romero escaped and remains at large, the
appellant, appearing like a brave lion, stayed home, Yet it now appears that he
did so not because he was innocent but because he believed he could not be
Identified. But he was wrong. He was clearly and positively Identified by the
prosecution eyewitnesses. Teofilo Martinez recognized Stalin as the person who
embraced the victim to ensure the killing 15 of Joselito. Rosabel Magno, one of
the student companions of Joselito, pointed an accusing finger at Stalin as one of
the culprits. 16 Babylyn Martinez, likewise, Identified the appellant as the one
who immobilized the hands of the victim to render him vulnerable to the assault
of Eduardo. 17

In his attempt to absolve himself of guilt, the appellant contends that there is an
absolute variance between the allegations in the information and the proofs
presented by the prosecution witnesses. But Rosabel Magno's testimony on
cross-examination showed her unwavering Identification of Stalin Guevarra as a
co-perpetrator of the killing of Joselito.

xxx xxx xxx

Q. Now, you stated that a stabbing incident transpired while you and your
companions were walking towards the direction of your respective houses.
Please tell the Court what happened?

A. We were walking side by side, sir. While we were walking side by side on
our way there was a sudden appearance of two persons one of whom was Stalin
Guevarra, one of those persons who appeared went immediately behind Joselito
de los Reyes and embraced the latter and immediately thereafter Eduardo
Romero stabbed Jose de los Reyes. 18

Q. Please tell the court?

A. I told the police investigators that Eduardo Romero stabbed Joselito while
Stalin Guevarra embraced Joselito. 19

xxx xxx xxx

The defense deposits that the prosecution witnesses uttered contradictory


statements, in effect trying to raise doubts as to their veracity.

First, the appellant points out that Teofilo Martinez contradicted his own
testimony:

xxx xxx xxx

Q. When you arrived there at the dance at ten o'clock of November 29, 1980,
in the evening, did you see Eduardo Romero and Stalin Guevarra at the dance.

A. Yes, sir.
Yet, 12 pages later, he did not see them:

Q. Let us go now to the incident in the dance floor. You stated that you did not
see the accused Stalin Guevarra and Romero dancing. In what part of the dance
floor or in the dance hall were they before the incident in question?

A. It was already on our way home when we saw them.

Q. So, while you were witnessing the dance you did not see them in the
dance hall that evening?

A. That is right, sir. 20

xxx xxx xxx

The alleged contradictions are minor inconsistencies. Whether or not Teofilo saw
Stalin at the dance is immaterial. That has nothing to do with the stabbing of the
victim. At any rate, Teofilo's narration of the incident was replete with details,
clear and straight-forward, which is a convincing indication that he had actually
witnessed the killing of Joselito. Hence, the trivial and unimportant details that the
appellant emphasizes do not detract from the veracity of the testimony of the
prosecution witnesses.

Secondly, Stalin contends that he could not have embraced Joselito to give
Eduardo Romero the chance to stab the former as he was not at the scene of the
crime in the evening of November 29, 1980 at about 12:00 o'clock midnight.

This defense of alibi was not established at all.


Alibi is one of the weakest of all defenses. lt can be easily concocted. To sustain
the defense of alibi, the accused must not only prove satisfactorily that he was at
some other place at the time the crime happened, but more so, that it was
physically impossible for him to have been at the place where the crime was
committed. 21

The very evidence for the defense convinces us that it was physically possible for
the appellant to be where the prosecution witnesses testified he was, at the
scene of the crime, and then rush away to his house after the fatal incident. The
place where the stabbing took place is only about seventy meters from the
appellant's house.

xxx xxx xxx

He Stalin Guevarra) however, admitted that he and his companions were walking
towards the direction of his house on the same evening of November 29, 1980,
where they were about seventy (70) meters away from the place of the incident.
The testimony of the accused was corroborated by defense witnesses Myra
Hernandez and Julio Guevarra when they took the witness stand. 22

xxx xxx xxx

We have stated, time and again, the almost inflexible rule that alibi cannot prevail
over the positive testimony of prosecution witnesses and their clear Identification
of the accused as the perpetrator of the crime. 23 In the instant case, prosecution
witness Teofilo Martinez, who carried a flashlight, positively and clearly
pinpointed the appellant as one of the assailants. Likewise, Babylyn Martinez and
Rosabel Magno, the female companions of the deceased, sufficiently
corroborated Teofilo Martinez's Identification of Stalin.

Thirdly, the appellant disputes the finding that he had conspired and confabulated
with Eduardo to attack, assault, and stab Joselito. Thus, he denies conspiracy.
We do not agree.
Conspiracy, it is true, is "always predominantly 'mental in composition' because it
consists primarily of a meeting of minds and an intent." 24 Hence, direct proof is
not essential to establish it. By its nature, conspiracy is planned in utmost
secrecy, it can rarely be proved by direct evidence. 25

Although here there is no well founded evidence that the appellant and Romero
had conferred and agreed to kill Joselito, their complicity can be justified by
circumstantial evidence, that is, their community of purpose and their unity of
design in the contemporaneous or simultaneous performance of the act of
assaulting the deceased. 26

The appellant cooperated with Romero in the commission of the offense by


another act without which it would not have been accomplished. Therefore, the
appellant is guilty as a principal by indispensable cooperation under Article 17,
paragraph 3 of the Revised Penal Code. The requisites for criminal liability under
this provision are: 1) participation in the criminal resolution, i.e., there is either
anterior conspiracy or unity of criminal purpose and intention immediately before
or simultaneously with the commission of the crime charged; and 2) cooperation
in the commission of the offense by performing another act without which it would
not have been accomplished. 27

At the locus criminis was the appellant. His presence did not merely give aid or
support, but emboldened the attacker as the victim was immobilized by the
appellant.

There can be no question that the appellant's act in holding the victim from
behind immediately before the latter was stabbed by Eduardo constitutes a
positive and an overt act towards the realization of a common criminal intent,
although the intent may be classified as instantaneous. 28 The act was
impulsively done on the spur of the moment. It sprang from the turn of events,
thereby uniting with the criminal design of the slayer immediately before the
commission of the offense. That is termed as implied conspiracy. 29 The
appellant's voluntary and indispensable cooperation was a concurrence of the
criminal act to be executed. Consequently, he is a co-conspirator by
indispensable cooperation, although the common desire or purpose was never
bottled up by a previous undertaking.

It can be safely inferred that the appellant was animated to cooperate in the
taking of the 'life of the deceased. Had it not been of the appellant's embrace of
the victim from behind, the latter could have fought back, parried the thrust, or
could have even run away.

If, indeed, the appellant intended to save the deceased from the attack, he could
have wrestled for the "balisong" from Eduardo's hands and prevented the
assault. Or, he could have placed himself between the assailant and the victim,
instead of grabbing him from behind and holding both his arms. The appellant's
actuations thus belie his claimed innocence.

True, the appellant did not inflict any wound or injury materially contributing to the
death of the victim. But, as already stated, his act of immobilizing Joselito's arms
establishes the indispensable cooperation required by law to make him equally
guilty with Romero who alone stabbed and wounded the former.

Curiously, appellant Stalin Guevarra filed in the Court a motion to withdraw his
appeal, dated July 22, 1985. He expressed that he was no longer interested in
his appeal and manifested his willingness to serve his sentence and
subsequently apply for executive clemency or parole. Considering that the
appellant in his motion was un-assisted by counsel, the Court denied the motion.

The Court of Appeals ruled that the crime committed by the appellant is "murder
as the killing is qualified by evident premeditation." We do no agree. Not one of
the three basic elements of evident premeditation was proven, to wit: First, the
time when the offender determined to commit the crime itself, second, an act
manifestly indicating that the culprit had tenaciously clung to his obsession to
commit the crime; and third, a sufficient lapse of time between the determination
and the execution to allow him to reflect upon the consequence of his act. On the
other hand, what the evidence on record shows is that both the appellant and
Romero, assaulted the victim spontaneously and cooperated fully. This
circumstance, we rule, precludes evident premidatation.

Be that as it may, the crime committed is still murder, the killing being qualified by
treachery. The evidence shows beyond reasonable doubt that the attack by
Romero, with the indispensable cooperation of the appellant, was so sudden and
unexpected as to deprive the victim of any opportunity to defend himself or to
inflict retaliation.

WHEREFORE, the appealed judgment is AFFIRMED WITH MODIFICATION as


to the civil indemnity which is hereby increased to P30,000.00.

Costs against the appelant.

People vs Bartolini

We review the May 31, 2007 Decision[1] of the Court of Appeals (CA) which
affirmed the guilty verdict rendered by Branch 29 of the Regional Trial Court
(RTC) of Bislig City[2] in Criminal Case Nos. 99-1-2083-H, 99-1-2084-H and 99-
1-2085-H, finding appellant Rustico Bartolini y Ampis guilty of three (3) counts of
incestuous rape against his two (2) daughters, AAA and BBB.[3]

The facts are culled from the findings of both the trial and appellate courts.

Appellant Bartolini was charged with three (3) counts of rape before the RTC,
Branch 29, of Bislig City, Surigao del Sur. The informations filed against him read:

Criminal Case No. 99-1-2083-H:

That on or about 7:00 oclock in the morning sometime in the month of March
1995, at Sitio [ABC], Barangay [123], Municipality of Hinatuan, Province of
Surigao del Sur, Philippines, and within the jurisdiction of this Honorable Court,
the above-named accused with lewd and unchaste designs, did then and there
wilfully, unlawfully and feloniously rape [his] daughter, [AAA], by means of force
and intimidation, and against his daughters will, to the damage and prejudice of
the said [AAA], who was then 14 years old.

CONTRARY TO LAW: In violation of Article 335 of the Revised Penal Code as


amended by Section 11 of Republic Act No. 7659.

Bislig, Surigao del Sur, November 23, 1998.[4]

Criminal Case No. 99-1-2084-H:

That on or about March 2, 1998, at 8:00 oclock in the morning, more or less, at
Sitio [ABC], Barangay [123], Municipality of Hinatuan, Province of Surigao del
Sur, Philippines, and within the jurisdiction of this Honorable Court, the above-
named accused, with lewd and unchaste designs and by means of force and
intimidation, did then and there wilfully, unlawfully and feloniously [have] carnal
knowledge or rape his own daughter, [BBB], against the latters will, to the
damage and prejudice of said [BBB].

CONTRARY TO LAW: In violation of Article 335 of the Revised Penal Code, as


amended by Section 11 of Republic Act No. 7659.

Bislig, Surigao del Sur, November 27, 1998.[5]

Criminal Case No. 99-1-2085-H:


That on or about 3:00 oclock in the afternoon sometime in the month of March
1994, at Sitio [ABC], Barangay [123], Municipality of Hinatuan, Province of
Surigao del Sur, Philippines, and within the jurisdiction of this Honorable Court,
the above-named accused with lewd and unchaste designs and by means of
force and intimidation, did then and there wilfully, unlawfully and feloniously rape
[his] daughter [BBB], 16 years old, against the latters will, to the damage and
prejudice of the said [BBB].

CONTRARY TO LAW: In violation of Article 335 of the Revised Penal Code as


amended by Section 11 of Republic Act No. 7659.

Bislig, Surigao del Sur, November 27, 1998.[6]

Upon arraignment on May 4, 1999, Bartolini pleaded not guilty to all the three (3)
charges filed against him.[7] The three (3) criminal cases were thereafter tried
jointly.

In the course of the trial, the prosecution presented four (4) witnesses: AAA;
BBB; CCC, appellants wife and mother of both victims; and Dr. Emelie S. Viola,
the Municipal Health Officer of Hinatuan District Hospital who conducted the
physical examination of both victims.

Below are the facts established by their testimonies.

Bartolini is married to CCC.[8] They begot six (6) children, the eldest being BBB
who was born on January 14, 1978,[9] followed by AAA who was born on June
16, 1980.[10]

Sometime in March 1994, at around 3:00 in the afternoon, while BBB was
weeding the grass on their vegetable garden with her father, the latter suddenly
pulled her to the ground and forced her to lie down. Bartolini then lifted BBBs
skirt, removed her panty and proceeded to have sexual intercourse with her. As
BBB struggled, appellant punched her and hit her at her back. Afterwards,
appellant put back his clothes and left. When BBB went inside their house,
appellant, who was waiting for her, warned her not to tell CCC about the incident.
Despite the warning, BBB reported the incident to her mother, but the latter told
her to just keep quiet.[11]

After the said incident, appellant repeatedly had sexual intercourse with BBB, the
last of which happened on March 2, 1998 at about 8:00 in the morning inside
their house while her mother was away selling fish and while all her siblings were
attending school. That morning, appellant ordered BBB to get his clothes for him.
Appellant then followed BBB to the room, took off her clothes and raped her.[12]

It also appears that sometime in March 1995, at about 6:30 in the morning, while
having breakfast, appellant instructed his second eldest daughter, AAA, to burn
the dried leaves in their garden. Dutifully, AAA went to the garden at around 7:00
that morning and met her father there. To her surprise, appellant immediately
pulled her and brought her near a big fallen tree while threatening to kill her and
all the members of their family if she would not acquiesce to his demands.
Appellant told her to remove her panties, but since AAA was crying and pushing
her father away, appellant himself took off AAAs panties, laid her on the ground
and placed one (1) of her feet on top of the fallen tree. Afterwards, appellant
removed his pants and raped her. After having sexual intercourse with AAA,
appellant put back his pants and went to the barangay hall to report for duty as
appellant was a barangay kagawad at that time. Like her sister, AAA also told the
incident to their mother, but the latter told her to keep silent for fear that appellant
would fulfill his threats. Consequently, AAA was repeatedly raped by appellant
until sometime in October 1998, a month before she gave birth to appellants
child.[13]

When CCC discovered that AAA was pregnant, she confided the matter to her
sister-in-law, DDD, who, in turn, reported the incident to the barangay captain
and to a representative of the Department of Social Welfare and Development
(DSWD) in Butuan City. On November 19, 1998, while under the custody of the
DSWD, AAA gave birth to her child.[14]

During the trial, CCC testified that sometime in March 1994, her daughter BBB
confided to her that she was raped by appellant. She just kept silent about the
incident for fear that her husband will maul her when confronted. AAA also
reported to her that she was raped by her father sometime in 1995. In one (1)
instance, CCC even saw appellant touching AAAs vagina while the two (2) were
inside their kitchen. She got angry and told her parents-in-law about the incident,
but the latter replied that she has no other evidence to prove her accusation.
CCC also testified that appellant, despite being an elected barangay kagawad,
was a drunkard, violent and an irresponsible individual. She added that she had
received a letter from appellant threatening to kill them.

Dr. Emelie S. Viola, Municipal Health Officer of Hinatuan District Hospital,


testified that sometime in October 1998, BBB and AAA were brought to her clinic
for physical examination. Although there were no visible signs of physical trauma,
Dr. Viola found that BBB had deep healed hymenal lacerations at the 6 and 7
oclock positions, as well as superficial healed hymenal laceration at the 10
oclock position, which indicate that there was a penetration of an object or a male
reproductive organ at BBBs female genitalia.[15]

Dr. Viola also examined AAA and found that the latter had deep healed
lacerations at the 12 oclock position and superficial healed hymenal lacerations
at the 3, 9 and 10 oclock positions, also indicating penetration of an object or a
male reproductive organ at AAAs vagina. AAA was also pregnant.[16]

The defense, on the other hand, presented its lone witness, appellant Bartolini,
who interposed the defense of denial and alibi. According to him, he could not
have raped BBB in the morning of March 2, 1998 because he has been out of
their house from 4:00 a.m. that day to deliver shrimps, prawns, and crabs to a
certain Benjamin Castaas who resides in Hinatuan, Surigao del Sur. Appellant
claims that he arrived at Castaass house at around 4:20 a.m. and stayed there
for breakfast upon the latters invitation. After getting paid, he left for home at
around 10:00 a.m. and reached his house fifteen (15) minutes later.[17]

On September 4, 2000, a subpoena was issued for Benjamin Castaas to appear


as witness for the defense.[18] Castaas, however, failed to appear before the trial
court. A warrant of arrest was thereafter issued against him,[19] but to no avail.
Thus, on July 24, 2002, the trial court issued another subpoena to Castaas.[20]
When Castaas still failed to appear, the trial court issued an order declaring the
case submitted for decision.[21]

On September 18, 2002, the RTC promulgated its decision finding appellant
guilty beyond reasonable doubt of three (3) counts of rape committed against
AAA and BBB. The fallo reads:

WHEREFORE, finding the accused RUSTICO BARTOLINI Y AMPIS, forty-four


(44) years of age, a fisherman and a resident of [ABC, 123,] Hinatuan, Surigao
del Sur, guilty beyond reasonable doubt of the crime of RAPE pursuant to Article
335 of the Revised Penal Code, as amended by Section 11, Republic Act No.
7659, paragraph (1), this Court hereby sentences him:

1. In Criminal Case No. [99-1-]2083-H, to suffer the penalty of Death by Lethal


Injection. To pay Seventy-Five Thousand (P75,000.00) pesos as civil indemnity
and Fifty Thousand (P50,000.00) pesos as moral damages and to pay the costs;

2. In Criminal Case No. [99-1-]2084-H, to suffer the penalty of Death by Lethal


Injection. To pay Seventy-Five Thousand (P75,000.00) pesos as civil indemnity
and Fifty Thousand (P50,000.00) pesos as moral damages and to pay the costs;
[and]

3. In Criminal Case No. [99-1-]2085-H, to suffer the penalty of Death by Lethal


Injection. To pay Seventy-Five Thousand (P75,000.00) pesos as civil indemnity
and Fifty Thousand (P50,000.00) pesos as moral damages and to pay the costs.

Let the entire records of this case be forwarded to the Supreme Court for
automatic review pursuant to Section 22 of Republic Act No. 7659.

SO ORDERED.[22]

At the CA, Bartolini argued that he should not have been convicted of the crime
of qualified rape since the information in Criminal Case No. 99-1-2085-H was
defective because it failed to allege that the act was committed by force or
intimidation as required by law, while there was no allegation of minority of the
victim in the information for Criminal Case No. 99-1-2084-H. Bartolini also argued
that the prosecution failed to prove his guilt beyond reasonable doubt.[23]

After an extensive discussion on the issues raised by Bartolini, the appellate


court found no compelling reason to deviate from the findings of the trial court.
Nevertheless, the CA modified the penalties by reducing the penalty of death to
reclusion perpetua following the abolition of the death penalty and by modifying
the monetary award in favor of the victims. The dispositive portion of the
appellate courts decision reads,

WHEREFORE, the Decision dated September 18, 2002 of the Regional Trial
Court, 11th Judicial Region, Branch 29, Bislig City, in Criminal Case Nos. [99-
1-]2083-H, [99-1-]2084-H and [99-1-]2085-H finding appellant Rustico Bartolini y
Ampis guilty beyond reasonable doubt for three counts of rape is AFFIRMED with
the following MODIFICATIONS:

(a) in Criminal Case Nos. [99-1-]2083-H and [99-1-]2085-H, the penalty of


death is reduced to reclusion perpetua; and to pay the amount of seventy-five
thousand pesos (P75,000.00) as civil indemnity, seventy-five thousand pesos
(P75,000.00) as moral damages and twenty-five thousand pesos (P25,000.00)
as exemplary damages for each count; and

(b) in Criminal Case No. [99-1-]2084-H, the accused is sentenced to suffer the
penalty of reclusion perpetua; and to pay the amount of fifty thousand pesos
(P50,000.00) as civil indemnity, the amount of fifty thousand pesos (P50,000.00)
as moral damages, and twenty-five thousand pesos (P25,000.00) as exemplary
damages;

(c) with costs.


SO ORDERED.[24]

On August 30, 2007, the records of the case were forwarded to this Court for
automatic review.[25] The Court accepted the appeal and directed the parties to
file their respective supplemental briefs if they so desire. However, both the
Office of the Solicitor General, for the appellee, and the appellant submitted
manifestations[26] stating that they replead and adopt the arguments raised in
their respective briefs[27] before the CA.

Appellant raises the following issues:

I. Whether the trial court erred in convicting the appellant;

II. Whether the trial court erred in convicting the appellant in Criminal
Case No. 99-1-2085-H despite the fact that the information therein was allegedly
defective; and

III. Whether the trial court erred in imposing the death penalty upon the
appellant after finding him guilty in Criminal Case No. 99-1-2084-H considering
the failure of the information to allege minority.[28]

We shall first discuss the second and third issues raised by the appellant, i.e.,
whether the element of force and intimidation was correctly alleged in the
information in Criminal Case No. 99-1-2085-H and whether the penalty of death
was properly imposed upon the appellant in Criminal Case No. 99-1-2084-H.

The appellants arguments are partially meritorious.

Rape is committed by having carnal knowledge of a woman under any of the


following circumstances: (1) when force or intimidation is used; (2) when the
woman is deprived of reason or is otherwise unconscious; and (3) when she is
under 12 years of age.[29]

A perusal of the information used as basis for Criminal Case No. 99-1-2085-H
readily reveals the allegation that appellant employed force and intimidation in
raping BBB. We reproduce the contents of the information below:

Criminal Case No. 99-1-2085-H:

That on or about 3:00 oclock in the afternoon sometime in the month of March
1994, at Sitio [ABC], Barangay [123], Municipality of Hinatuan, Province of
Surigao del Sur, Philippines, and within the jurisdiction of this Honorable Court,
the above-named accused with lewd and unchaste designs and by means of
force and intimidation, did then and there wilfully, unlawfully and feloniously rape
[his] daughter [BBB], 16 years old, against the latters will, to the damage and
prejudice of the said [BBB].

CONTRARY TO LAW: In violation of Article 335 of the Revised Penal Code as


amended by Section 11 of Republic Act No. 7659.

Bislig, Surigao del Sur, November 27, 1998.[30]

The same allegation was proven during the trial. We quote BBBs testimony
during her direct examination:

Q: Do you recall of any unusual incident that happened on March 1994, while
you were still residing at [Sitio ABC], [123], Lingig, Surigao del Sur, together with
your parents?

A: Yes, sir.

Q: What was that unusual incident all about?

A: We were weeding grasses, sir.

Q: Where were you [weeding] grasses?

A: We were weeding grasses near to our house, sir.

Q: Were you alone while you were weeding grasses at [Sitio ABC], [123], Lingig,
Surigao del Sur?

A: We were two, me and my father, sir.

Q: What time was that?

A: Afternoon, sir.

Q: Now, while you were weeding grasses near your house in the afternoon of
March 1994, with your father, what happened if any?

A: He pulled me, sir.

Q: Where did he bring you?

A: At the place where we were weeding grasses, sir.


Q: What happened next after you[r] father brought you near the place where you
were weeding grasses?

A: He made me lie down, sir.

Q: What did you do when your father made you lie down?

A: He lift[ed] my skirt and took up my panty, sir.

Q: What did you do when your father pulled you[r] panty?

A: I pushed aside his hands, sir.

Q: What did your father do next?

A: He made me lie down, sir.

Q: Afterward[s], what happened next?

A: He also took [off] his brief and his pant[s], sir.

Q: You want to tell this Honorable Court that you were already [lying] down when
your father removed his brief and his pant[s]?

A: Yes, sir.

Q: In relation to you[,] where was your father situated when he removed his brief
and pant[s]?

A: [Just by] my side[,] just near me, sir.

Q: What happened after your father removed his pant[s] and brief?

A: He inserted his penis in my vagina, sir.

xxxx

Q: While his penis was inside your vagina, what happened?

A: He boxed me, sir.

Q: Were you hit by the blow?

A: Yes, sir.

Q: Where?

A: [O]n my back, sir.


xxxx

Q: When you reached to your house, what did [he] do?

A: He scolded me, sir.

Q: Who scolded you?

A: My father, sir.

Q: Why did he scold you?

A: He was afraid I might tell my mother, sir.

Q: Did you tell your mother about the incident?

A: Yes, sir.[31]

We are adequately convinced that the prosecution proved that appellant


employed force and intimidation upon his victim. This being so, we find no cogent
reason to disturb the ruling of both the RTC and the appellate court on this
matter.

However, we disagree with the trial courts ruling convicting appellant Bartolini for
qualified rape under Criminal Case No. 99-1-2084-H. The appellate court was
correct in sustaining appellants argument that the special qualifying circumstance
cannot be appreciated in Criminal Case No. 99-1-2084-H since the age of the
victim was not specifically alleged in the information.[32]

Our disquisition in People v. Tagud, Sr.[33] succinctly explains the matter. There,
we said:

To justify the imposition of the death penalty in this case, the single special
qualifying circumstance of the minority of the victim and her relationship to the
offender must be specifically alleged in the Information and proven during the
trial. x x x

xxxx

Even under the old Rules of Criminal Procedure, jurisprudence already required
that qualifying circumstances must be specifically alleged in the Information to be
appreciated as such.

xxxx

Notably, the amended Information merely stated that appellant had carnal
knowledge of his minor daughter without stating Arwins actual age. In a rape
case where the very life of the accused is at stake, such an inexact allegation of
the age of the victim is insufficient to qualify the rape and raise the penalty to
death. The sufficiency of the Information is held to a higher standard when the
only imposable penalty is death. The constitutional right of the accused to be
properly informed of the nature and cause of the accusation against him
assumes the greatest importance when the only imposable penalty in case of
conviction is death.[34]

Similar to Tagud, the qualifying circumstance of relationship of BBB to appellant


was specifically alleged and proven during the trial. Notably absent in the
information, however, is a specific averment of the victims age at the time the
offense against her was committed. Such an omission committed by the
prosecutor is fatal in the imposition of the supreme penalty of death against the
offender. It must be borne in mind that the requirement for complete allegations
on the particulars of the indictment is based on the right of the accused to be fully
informed of the nature of the charges against him so that he may adequately
prepare for his defense pursuant to the constitutional requirement on due
process,[35] specially so if the case involves the imposition of the death penalty
in case the accused is convicted. Thus, even if the victim is below eighteen (18)
years of age and the offender is her parent, but these facts are not alleged in the
information, or if only one (1) is so alleged such as what happened in the instant
case, their proof as such by evidence offered during trial cannot sanction the
imposition of the death penalty.[36]

Appellant also argues that both the trial court and the CA committed reversible
errors when he was found guilty for the three (3) counts of rape even if his guilt
was not proven beyond reasonable doubt. In particular, appellant attacks AAAs
credibility by arguing that it would have been physically impossible for him to
rape said victim on top of a log as claimed by AAA in her testimony. Appellant
also questions the motive of both victims saying that it is unnatural for both to
report the abuses made on them only after the lapse of several years.

We cannot subscribe to appellants desperate attempt to save himself from the


consequences of his dastardly acts.

Settled is the rule that when the issue is one (1) of credibility of witnesses,
appellate courts will generally not disturb the findings of the trial courts
considering that the latter are in a better position to decide the question as they
have heard the witnesses and observed their deportment and manner of
testifying during the trial. It is for this reason that the findings of the trial court are
given the highest degree of respect. These findings will not ordinarily be
disturbed by an appellate court absent any clear showing that the trial court has
overlooked, misunderstood, or misapplied some facts or circumstances of weight
or substance which could very well affect the outcome of the case.[37]

Moreover, AAAs testimony was vivid and precise. She said:

Q: What was your position at that time when you said your father spread your
legs apart?

A: When I spread my legs, I was laying (sic), and he put my one leg on top of the
fallen tree.[38]

We note with approval the CAs observation that such revelation is plausible and
consistent with human experience. Indeed, if there is any incongruity in the
manner of intercourse as portrayed by the appellant, the same would be trivial
and will not smother AAAs revelation of sexual abuse.[39]

How the victims managed to endure the bestial treatment of their father to them
for four (4) long years, with one (1) even having to live with the shame of siring
an offspring from her very own father, should not be taken against them. Children
of tender age have natural respect and reverence for their loved ones. More
often than not, they would try to keep to themselves if anything unnatural was
committed against them, especially if the offender is one (1) of their relatives. A
father is known to have a strong natural, cultural and psychological hold upon his
child. Hence, it would be too assuming for us to ask the victims why they have
kept these facts of abuse to themselves, when their very own mother decided to
be mum on the matter as well.

Anent the award of damages, we find modifications to be in order. We increase


the award of civil indemnity and moral damages in Criminal Case No. 99-1-2084-
H from P50,000.00 to P75,000.00 each. In People v. Catubig,[40] we explained
that the commission of an offense has a two (2)-pronged effect, one (1) on the
public as it breaches the social order and the other upon the private victim as it
causes personal sufferings. Each effect is respectively addressed by the
prescription of heavier punishment for the accused and by an award of additional
damages to the victim. The increase of the penalty or a shift to a graver felony
underscores the exacerbation of the offense by the attendance of aggravating
circumstances, whether ordinary or qualifying, in its commission. But unlike the
criminal liability which is basically the States concern, the award of damages is in
general intended for the offended party who suffers thereby. Hence, although it
is essential to observe the requirements imposed by Sections 8[41] and 9[42] of
Rule 110 of the Revised Rules of Criminal Procedure, as amended, the
requirements should affect only the criminal liability of the accused, which is the
States concern, and should not affect the civil liability of the accused, which is for
the benefit of the injured party. Where the special qualifying circumstances of age
and relationship, although not alleged in the information, are nonetheless
established during the trial, the award of civil indemnity and moral damages in a
conviction for simple rape should equal the award of civil indemnity and moral
damages in convictions for qualified rape. Truly, BBBs moral suffering is just as
great as when her father who raped her is convicted for qualified rape as when
he is convicted only for simple rape due to a technicality.

Likewise, we modify the award for exemplary damages. Pursuant to prevailing


jurisprudence, the award of exemplary damages for the two (2) counts of
qualified rape under Criminal Case Nos. 99-1-2083-H and 99-1-2085-H and for
the crime of simple rape in Criminal Case No. 99-1-2084-H is increased to
P30,000.00 for each count of rape.[43]

WHEREFORE, the judgment on review is AFFIRMED with MODIFICATIONS.

In Criminal Case Nos. 99-1-2083-H and 99-1-2085-H, appellant Rustico Bartolini


y Ampis is found GUILTY beyond reasonable doubt of two (2) counts of
QUALIFIED RAPE and is hereby sentenced to suffer the penalty of reclusion
perpetua, in lieu of death, without the possibility of parole. He is ORDERED to
pay each of his two (2) victims, AAA and BBB, P75,000.00 as civil indemnity,
P75,000.00 as moral damages, and P30,000.00 as exemplary damages.

In Criminal Case No. 99-1-2084-H, appellant is found GUILTY beyond


reasonable doubt of the crime of RAPE and is hereby sentenced to suffer the
penalty of reclusion perpetua. He is ORDERED to pay the victim, BBB,
P75,000.00 as civil indemnity, P75,000.00 as moral damages, and P30,000.00
as exemplary damages.

Costs against the appellant.

SO ORDERED.

Patula vs People

DECISION
BERSAMIN, J.:

In the trial of everycriminal case, a judge must rigidlytest the States evidence of
guilt in order to ensure that such evidenceadheres to the basic rules of
admissibility before pronouncing an accused guilty of the crime charged upon
such evidence. Nothing less is demanded of the judge; otherwise, the guarantee
of due process of law is nullified.The accused need notadduceanythingto rebut
evidence that is discredited for failing the test.Acquittal should then follow.

Antecedents

Petitioner was charged withestafaunder an informationfiled in the Regional Trial


Court (RTC) in DumagueteCitythat averred:

That on or about and during the period from March 16 to 20, 1997 and for
sometime prior thereto, in the City of Dumaguete, Philippines, and within the
jurisdiction of this Honorable Court, the said accused, being then a saleswoman
of Footluckers Chain of Stores, Inc., Dumaguete City, having collected and
received the total sum of P131,286.97 from several customers of said company
under the express obligation to account for the proceeds of the sales and deliver
the collection to the said company, but far from complying with her obligation and
after a reasonable period of time despite repeated demands therefore, and with
intent to defraud the said company, did, then and there willfully, unlawfully and
feloniously fail to deliver the said collection to the said company but instead, did,
then and there willfully unlawfully and feloniously misappropriate, misapply and
convert the proceeds of the sale to her own use and benefit, to the damage and
prejudice of the said company in the aforesaid amount of P131,286.97.

Contrary to Art. 315, par 1 (b) of the Revised Penal Code.[1]

Petitioner pled not guiltyto the offense charged in the information. At pre-trial, no
stipulation of factswas had, and petitioner did not avail herself of plea bargaining.
Thereafter, trial on the merits ensued.

The Prosecutions first witness was Lamberto Go, who testified that he was the
branch manager of Footluckers Chain of Stores, Inc. (Footluckers) in Dumaguete
City since October 8, 1994; that petitioner was an employee of Footluckers,
starting as a saleslady in 1996 until she became a sales representative; that as a
sales representative she was authorized to take orders from wholesale
customers coming from different towns (like Bacong, Zamboanguita, Valencia,
Lumbangan and Mabinay in Negros Oriental, and Siquijor), and to collect
payments from them; that she could issue and sign official receipts of
Footluckers for the payments, which she would then remit; that she would then
submit the receipts for the payments for tallying and reconciliation; that at first her
volume of sales was quite high, but later on dropped, leading him to confront her;
that she responded that business was slow; that he summoned the accounting
clerk to verify; that the accounting clerk discovered erasures on some collection
receipts; that he decided to subject her to an audit by company auditor Karen
Guivencan; that he learned from a customer of petitioners that the customers
outstanding balance had already been fully paid although that balance appeared
unpaid in Footluckers records; and that one night later on, petitioner and her
parents went to his house to deny having misappropriated any money of
Footluckers and to plead for him not to push through with a case against her,
promising to settle her account on a monthly basis; and that she did not settle
after that, but stopped reporting to work.[2]

On March 7, 2002, Gos cross examination, re-direct examination and re-


crossexamination were completed.

The only other witness for the Prosecution was Karen Guivencan,
whomFootluckers employed as its store auditor since November 16, 1995 until
her resignation on March 31, 2001. She declared that Go had requested her to
audit petitioner after some customers had told him that they had already paid
their accounts but the office ledger had still reflected outstandingbalances for
them; that she first conducted her audit by going to the customers in places from
Mabinay to Zamboanguitain Negros Oriental, and then in Siquijor; thatshe
discovered in the course of her audit that the amounts appearing on the original
copies of receipts in the possession of around 50 customers varied from the
amounts written on the duplicate copies of the receipts petitioner submitted to the
office; that upon completing her audit, she submittedto Go a written report
denominated as List of Customers Covered by Saleswoman LERIMA PATULA w/
Differences in Records as per Audit Duly Verified March 16-20, 1997 marked as
Exhibit A; and that based on the report, petitioner had misappropriated the total
amount ofP131,286.92.[3]

During Guivencans stint as a witness, the Prosecution marked the ledgers of


petitioners various customers allegedly with discrepancies as Exhibits B to
YYand their derivatives, inclusive. Each of the ledgers had a first column that
contained the dates of the entries, a second that identified the invoices by the
number, a third that statedthe debit, a fourth that noted the credit (or the amounts
paid), and a fifth that summed the balances (debit minus credit).Only 49 of
theledgerswere formally offered and admitted by the RTC because the
50thledger could no longer be found.

In the course of Guivencansdirect-examination,petitioners counsel interposed a


continuing objection on the ground that the figuresentered in Exhibits B to YYand
their derivatives, inclusive, were hearsay because the persons who had made
the entries were not themselves presented in court.[4]With that, petitioners
counsel did not anymore cross-examine Guivencan, apparently regarding her
testimony to be irrelevant because she thereby tended to prove falsification, an
offense not alleged in the information.

TheProsecution thenformally offered its documentary exhibits, including Exhibits


B to YYand their derivatives (like the originals and duplicates of the receipts
supposedly executed and issued by petitioner), inclusive, the confirmation sheets
used by Guivencan in auditing the accounts served by petitioner, and
Guivencans so-called Summary (Final Report) of Discrepancies.[5]

After the Prosecution rested its case, the Defense decided not to file a demurrer
to evidence although it had manifested the intention to do so, and instead rested
itscase.The Prosecution and Defense submitted their respective memoranda,
and submitted the case for decision.[6]
On January 28, 2004, the RTC, stating that inasmuch as petitioner had opted not
to present evidence for her defense the Prosecutions evidence remained
unrefuted and uncontroverted,[7]rendered its decision finding petitioner guilty of
estafa, to wit:

Wherefore, in the light of the foregoing facts and circumstances, the Court finds
ANNA LERIMA PATULA guilty beyond reasonable doubt of the crime of Estafa
under Art. 315 par (1b) of the Revised Penal Code and accordingly, she is hereby
sentenced to suffer an INDETERMINATE PENALTY of imprisonment of 8 years
and 1 day of prision mayor as minimum to 18 years and 4 months of reclusion
temporal as maximum with all the accessory penalties provided by law and to
indemnify private complainant the amount of P131,286.92 with interest at 12%
per annum until fully paid and to pay the costs.

Pursuant to Sec. 2, Rule 114 of the Revised Rules of Criminal Procedure, the
cash bail put up by the accused shall be effective only until the promulgation of
this judgment.

SO ORDERED.[8]

Petitioner filed a motion for reconsideration, butthe RTC denied the motion on
May 7, 2004.[9]

Issues

Insisting that the RTCs judgment grossly violated [her] Constitutional and
statutory right to be informed of the nature and cause of the accusation against
her because, while the charge against her is estafa under Art. 315, par. 1 (b) of
the Revised Penal Code, the evidence presented against her and upon which her
conviction was based, was falsification, an offense not alleged or included in the
Information under which she was arraigned and pleaded not guilty, and that said
judgment likewise blatantly ignored and manifestly disregarded the rules on
admission of evidence in that the documentary evidence admitted by the trial
court were all private documents, the due execution and authenticity of which
were not proved in accordance with Sec. 20 of Rule 132 of the Revised Rules on
Evidence, petitioner has directly appealed to the Court via petition for review on
certiorari, positing the following issues, to wit:

1. WHETHER THE ACCUSED OR ANY ACCUSED FOR THAT MATTER ,


CHARGED OF ESTAFA UNDER ART. 315, PAR. 1 (B) OF THE REVISED
PENAL CODE CAN BE CONVICTED UPON OR BY EVIDENCE OF
FALSIFICATION WHICH IS EVEN (SIC) NOT ALLEGED IN THE
INFORMATION.

2. WHETHER THE ACCUSEDS CONSTITUTIONAL AND STATUTORY RIGHT


TO BE INFORMED OF THE NATURE AND CAUSE OF THE ACCUSATION
AGAINST HER WAS VIOLATED WHEN SHE WAS CONVICTED UPON OR BY
EVIDENCE OF FALSIFICATION CONSIDERING THAT THE CHARGE AGAINST
HER IS ESTAFA THROUGH MISAPPROPRIATION UNDER ART. 315, PAR. 1
(B) OF THE REVISED PENAL CODE.

3. WHETHER OR NOT THE TRIAL COURT ERRED IN ADMITTING IN


EVIDENCE, EXHIBITS B TO YY-YY-2, ALL PRIVATE DOCUMENTS, THE DUE
EXECUTION AND AUTHENTICITY OF WHICH WERE NOT PROVED IN
ACCORDANCE WITH SEC. 20, RULE 132 OF THE SAID REVISED RULES ON
EVIDENCE ASIDE FROM THE FACT THAT SAID EXHIBITS TEND TO PROVE
FALSIFICATION BY THE ACCUSED, A CRIME NEITHER CHARGED NOR
ALLEGED IN THE INFORMATION.

4. WHETHER OR NOT THE TRIAL COURT ERRED IN ADMITTING THE


TESTIMONY OF KAREN GUIVENCAN DESPITE THE OBJECTION THAT SAID
TESTIMONY WHICH TRIED TO PROVE THAT THE ACCUSED FALSIFIED
EXHIBITS B TO YY-YY-2INCLUSIVE VIOLATED THE ACCUSEDS
CONSTITUTIONAL RIGHT TO BE INFORMED OF THE NATURE AND CAUSE
OF THE ACCUSATION AGAINST HER, FOR BEING IRRELEVANT AND
IMMATERIAL SINCE THE CHARGE AGAINST THE ACCUSED IS ESTAFA
UNDER ART. 315, PAR. 1 (B) OF THE REVISED PENAL CODE.
5. WHETHER OR NOT THE TRIAL COURT ERRED IN CONCLUDING THAT
THE EVIDENCE OF THE PROSECUTION REMAINS UNREFUTED AND
UNCONTROVERTED DESPITE ACCUSEDS OBJECTION THAT SAID
EVIDENCE IS IMMATERIAL AND IRRELEVANT TO THE CRIME CHARGED.

6. WHETHER OR NOT THE DEFENSES NOT CROSS-EXAMINING KAREN


GUIVENCAN FOR THE REASON THAT HER TESTIMONY IS IMMATERIAL
AND IRRELEVANT AS IT TENDED TO PROVE AN OFFENSE NOT CHARGED
IN INFORMATION RESULTED IN THE ADMISSION OF SAID TESTIMONY AS
BEING UNREFUTED AND UNCONTROVERTED, AND WHETHER OR NOT
THE DEFENSES OBJECTION WOULD NOT BE CONSIDERED WAIVED IF
THE DEFENSE CROSS-EXAMINED SAID WITNESS.

7. WHETHER OR NOT THE TRIAL COURT ERRED IN RULING THAT EXHIBIT


A, WHICH IS THE LIST OF CUSTOMERS COVERED BY SALESWOMAN
LERIMA PATULA WITH DIFFERENCE IN RECORD IS NOT HEARSAY AND
SELF-SERVING.[10]

The foregoing issues are now restatedas follows:

1. Whether or not the failure of the information for estafa to allege the
falsification of the duplicate receipts issued by petitioner to her customersviolated
petitioners right to be informed of the nature and cause of the accusation;

2. Whether or not the RTC gravely erred in admitting evidence of the


falsification of the duplicate receiptsdespite the information not alleging the
falsification;

3. Whether or not the ledgers and receipts (Exhibits B to YY, and their
derivatives, inclusive) were admissible as evidence of petitioners guilt for
estafaas charged despite their not being duly authenticated;and

4. Whether or not Guivencanstestimony onthe ledgers and receipts (Exhibits B


to YY, and their derivatives, inclusive) to prove petitioners misappropriation or
conversion wasinadmissible for being hearsay.
Ruling

The petition is meritorious.

Failure of information to allege falsification

did not violate petitioners right to be informed

of thenatureand cause of the accusation

Petitioner contends that the RTC grossly violated her Constitutional right to be
informed of the nature and cause of the accusation when: (a) it held that the
information did not have to allege her falsification of the duplicate receipts, and
(b) when it convicted her of estafa under Article 315, paragraph 1(b) of the
Revised Penal Codeby relying on the evidence on falsification.

The contentionof petitioner cannot be sustained.

The Bill of Rights guaranteessome rightsto every person accused of a crime,


among them the right to be informed of the nature and cause of the accusation,
viz:

Section 14. (1) No person shall be held to answer for a criminal offense without
due process of law.

(2) In all criminal prosecutions, the accused shall be presumed innocent until the
contrary is proved, and shall enjoy the right to be heard by himself and counsel,
to be informed of the nature and cause of the accusation against him, to have a
speedy, impartial, and public trial, to meet the witnesses face to face, and to have
compulsory process to secure the attendance of witnesses and the production of
evidence in his behalf. However, after arraignment, trial may proceed
notwithstanding the absence of the accused provided that he has been duly
notified and his failure to appear is unjustifiable.

Rule 110 of the Revised Rules of Court, the rule then in effect when the
information was filed in the RTC, contained the following provisions on the proper
manner of alleging the nature and cause of the accusation in the information, to
wit:

Section 8.Designation of the offense. Whenever possible, a complaint or


information should state the designation given to the offense by the statute,
besides the statement of the acts or omissions constituting the same, and if there
is no such designation, reference should be made to the section or subsection of
the statute punishing it. (7)

Section 9.Cause of accusation. The acts or omissions complained of as


constituting the offense must be stated in ordinary and concise language without
repetition, not necessarily in the terms of the statute defining the offense, but in
such form as is sufficient to enable a person of common understanding to know
what offense is intended to be charged, and enable the court to pronounce
proper judgment. (8)

The importance of the proper manner of alleging the nature and cause of the
accusation in the informationshould never be taken for granted by the State. An
accused cannot be convicted of an offense that is not clearly charged in the
complaint or information. To convict him of an offense other than that charged in
the complaint or information would be violative of the Constitutional right to be
informed of the nature and cause of the accusation.[11] Indeed, the accused
cannot be convicted of a crime, even if duly proven, unless the crime is alleged
or necessarily included in the information filed against him.

The crime of estafacharged against petitioner was defined and penalized by


Article 315, paragraph 1 (b), Revised Penal Code, viz:

Article 315. Swindling (estafa). Any person who shall defraud another by any of
the means mentioned hereinbelow shall be punished by:

1st. The penalty of prision correccional in its maximum period to prision mayor in
its minimum period, if the amount of the fraud is over 12,000 pesos but does not
exceed 22,000 pesos, and if such amount exceeds the latter sum, the penalty
provided in this paragraph shall be imposed in its maximum period, adding one
year for each additional 10,000 pesos; but the total penalty which may be
imposed shall not exceed twenty years. In such cases, and in connection with the
accessory penalties which may be imposed under the provisions of this Code,
the penalty shall be termed prision mayor or reclusion temporal, as the case may
be.

2nd. The penalty of prision correccional in its minimum and medium periods, if
the amount of the fraud is over 6,000 pesos but does not exceed 12,000 pesos;

3rd. The penalty of arresto mayor in its maximum period to prision correccional in
its minimum period if such amount is over 200 pesos but does not exceed 6,000
pesos; and

4th. By arresto mayor in its maximum period, if such amount does not exceed
200 pesos, provided that in the four cases mentioned, the fraud be committed by
any of the following means:

xxx

1. With unfaithfulness or abuse of confidence, namely:


xxx

(b) By misappropriating or converting, to the prejudice of another, money, goods,


or any other personal property received by the offender in trust or on
commission, or for administration, or under any other obligation involving the duty
to make delivery of or to return the same, even though such obligation be totally
or partially guaranteed by a bond; or by denying having received such money,
goods, or other property.

xxx

The elements of the offense charged were as follows:

(a) That the offender received money, goods or other personal property in trust,
or on commission, or for administration, or under any other obligation involving
the duty to make delivery of, or to return, the same;

(b) That the offender misappropriated or converted such money, goods or other
personal property, or denied his part in its receipt;

(c) That the misappropriation or conversion or denial was to the prejudice of


another; and

(d) That the offended party made a demand on the offender for the delivery or
return of such money, goods or other personal property.[12]

According to the theory and proof of the Prosecution, petitioner misappropriated


or converted the sums paid by her customers, and later falsified the duplicates of
the receipts before turning such duplicates to her employer to show that the
customers had paid less than the amounts actually reflected on the original
receipts. Obviously, she committed the falsification in order to conceal her
misappropriation or conversion. Considering that the falsificationwas not an
offense separate and distinct from the estafacharged against her, the
Prosecution could legitimately prove her acts of falsification as its means of
establishing her misappropriation or conversion as an essential ingredient of the
crime duly alleged in the information. In that manner, her right to be informed of
the nature and cause of the accusation against her was not infringed or denied to
her.

We consider it inevitable to conclude that the information herein completely


pleaded the estafa defined and penalized under Article 315, paragraph 1 (b),
Revised Penal Codewithin the context of the substantive lawand the rules. Verily,
there was no necessity for the information to allege the acts of falsification by
petitioner because falsification was not an element of the estafacharged.

Not surprisingly,the RTC correctly dealt in its decision with petitioners concern
thuswise:

In her Memorandum, it is the contention of [the] accused that [the] prosecutions


evidence utterly fails to prove the crime charged. According to the defense, the
essence of Karen Guivencans testimony is that the accused falsified the receipts
issued to the customers served by her by changing or altering the amounts in the
duplicates of the receipts and therefore, her testimony is immaterial and
irrelevant as the charge is misappropriation under Art. 315, paragraph (1b) of the
Revised Penal Code and there is no allegation whatsoever of any falsification or
alteration of amounts in the [i]nformation under which the accused was arraigned
and pleaded NOT GUILTY. Accused, thus, maintains that the testimony of Karen
Guivencan should therefore not be considered at all as it tended to prove an
offense not charged or included in the [i]nformation and would violate [the]
accuseds constitutional and statutory right to be informed of the nature and
cause of the accusation against her. The Court is not in accord with such posture
of the accused.

It would seem that the accused is of the idea that because the crime charged in
the [i]nformation is merely [e]stafa and not [e]stafa [t]hru [f]alsification of
documents, the prosecution could not prove falsification. Such argumentation is
not correct. Since the information charges accused only of misappropriation
pursuant to Art. 315, par. (1b) of the Revised [P]enal Code, the Court holds that
there is no necessity of alleging the falsification in the Information as it is not an
element of the crime charged.

Distinction should be made as to when the crimes of Estafa and Falsification will
constitute as one complex crime and when they are considered as two separate
offenses. The complex crime of Estafa Through Falsification of Documents is
committed when one has to falsify certain documents to be able to obtain money
or goods from another person. In other words, the falsification is a necessary
means of committing estafa. However, if the falsification is committed to conceal
the misappropriation, two separate offenses of estafa and falsification are
committed. In the instant case, when accused collected payments from the
customers, said collection which was in her possession was at her disposal. The
falsified or erroneous entries which she made on the duplicate copies of the
receipts were contrived to conceal some amount of her collection which she did
not remit to the company xxx.[13]

II

Testimonial and documentary evidence,being hearsay,

did not prove petitioners guilt beyond reasonable doubt

Nonetheless, in all criminal prosecutions, the Prosecution bears the burden to


establish the guilt of the accused beyond reasonable doubt. In discharging this
burden, the Prosecutions duty is to prove each and every element of the crime
charged in the information to warrant a finding of guilt for that crime or for any
other crime necessarily included therein.[14] The Prosecution must further prove
the participation of the accused in the commission of the offense.[15]In doing all
these, the Prosecution must rely on the strength of its own evidence, and not
anchor its success upon the weakness of the evidence of the accused. The
burden of proof placed on the Prosecution arises from the presumption of
innocence in favor of the accused that no less than the Constitution has
guaranteed.[16]Conversely, as to his innocence, the accused has no burden of
proof,[17]that he must then be acquitted and set free should the Prosecution not
overcome the presumption of innocence in his favor.In other words, the
weakness of the defense put up by the accused is inconsequential in the
proceedings for as long as the Prosecution has not discharged its burden of
proof in establishing the commission of the crime charged and in identifying the
accused as the malefactor responsible for it.

Did the Prosecution adduce evidence that proved beyond reasonable doubt the
guilt of petitioner for the estafa charged in the information?

To establish the elements of estafaearlier mentioned, the Prosecution presented


the testimonies of Go and Guivencan, and various documentsconsisting of: (a)
the receipts allegedly issued by petitioner to each of her customers upon their
payment, (b) the ledgers listing the accounts pertaining to each customer with the
corresponding notations of the receipt numbers for each of the payments, and (c)
the confirmation sheets accomplished by Guivencan herself.[18]The ledgers and
receipts were marked and formally offered as Exhibits B to YY, and their
derivatives, inclusive.

On his part, Go essentially described for the trial court the various duties of
petitioner as Footluckers sales representative. On her part, Guivencan conceded
having no personal knowledge of the amounts actually received by petitioner
from the customersor remitted by petitioner to Footluckers.This means that
persons other than Guivencan prepared Exhibits B to YY and their derivatives,
inclusive,and that Guivencan based her testimony on the entries found in the
receipts supposedly issued by petitioner and in the ledgers held by Footluckers
corresponding to each customer, as well as on the unsworn statements of some
of the customers. Accordingly, her being the only witness who testified on the
entries effectively deprived the RTC of the reasonable opportunity to validate and
test the veracity and reliability of the entries as evidence of petitioners
misappropriation or conversion through cross-examination by petitioner. The
denial of that opportunity rendered theentire proof of misappropriation or
conversion hearsay, and thus unreliable and untrustworthy for purposes of
determining the guilt or innocence of the accused.
To elucidate why the Prosecutions hearsay evidence was unreliable and
untrustworthy, and thus devoid of probative value, reference is made toSection
36 of Rule 130, Rules of Court, a rule that states that a witness can testify only to
those facts that she knows of her personal knowledge; that is, which are derived
from her own perception, except as otherwise provided in the Rules of Court. The
personal knowledge of a witness is a substantive prerequisite for accepting
testimonial evidence that establishes the truth of a disputed fact. A witness bereft
ofpersonal knowledge of the disputed fact cannot be called upon for that purpose
because her testimony derives its value not from the credit accorded to her as a
witness presently testifying but from the veracity and competency of the
extrajudicial source of her information.

In case a witness is permitted to testify based on what she has heard another
person say about the facts in dispute, the person from whom the witness derived
the information on the facts in dispute is not in court and under oath to be
examined and cross-examined. The weight of such testimony thendepends not
upon theveracity of the witness but upon the veracity of the other person giving
the information to the witness without oath. The information cannot be tested
because the declarant is not standing in court as a witness andcannot, therefore,
be cross-examined.

It is apparent, too, that a person who relates a hearsay is not obliged to enter into
any particular, to answer any question, to solve any difficulties, to reconcile any
contradictions, to explain any obscurities, to remove any ambiguities; and that
she entrenches herself in the simple assertion that she was told so, and leaves
the burden entirely upon the dead or absent author.[19] Thus, the rule against
hearsay testimony rests mainly on the ground that there was no opportunity to
cross-examine the declarant.[20] The testimony may have been given under oath
and before a court of justice, but if it is offered against a party who is afforded no
opportunity to cross-examine the witness, it is hearsay just the same.[21]

Moreover, the theory of the hearsay rule is that when a human utterance is
offered as evidence of the truth of the fact asserted, the credit of the assertor
becomes the basis of inference, and, therefore, the assertion can be received as
evidence only when made on the witness stand, subject to the test of cross-
examination. However, if an extrajudicial utterance is offered, not as an assertion
to prove the matter asserted but without reference to the truth of the matter
asserted, the hearsay rule does not apply. For example, in a slander case, if a
prosecution witness testifies that he heard the accused say that the complainant
was a thief, this testimony is admissible not to prove that the complainant was
really a thief, but merely to show that the accused uttered those words.[22] This
kind of utterance ishearsay in character but is not legal hearsay.[23]The
distinction is, therefore, between (a) the fact that the statement was made, to
which the hearsay rule does not apply, and (b) the truth of the facts asserted in
the statement, to which the hearsay rule applies.[24]

Section 36, Rule 130 of the Rules of Court is understandably not the only rule
that explains why testimony that is hearsay should be excluded from
consideration. Excluding hearsay also aims to preserve the right of the opposing
party to cross-examine the originaldeclarant claiming to have a direct knowledge
of the transaction or occurrence.[25]If hearsay is allowed, the right stands to be
denied because the declarant is not in court.[26]It is then to be stressed that the
right to cross-examine the adverse partys witness,

being the only means of testing the credibility of witnesses and their testimonies,
is essential to the administration of justice.

To address the problem of controlling inadmissible hearsay as evidence to


establish the truth in a dispute while also safeguardinga partys right to cross-
examine her adversarys witness,the Rules of Court offers two solutions. The
firstsolution is to require that allthe witnesses in a judicial trial or hearing be
examined only in courtunder oath or affirmation. Section 1, Rule 132 of the Rules
of Court formalizes this solution,viz:

Section 1. Examination to be done in open court. - The examination of witnesses


presented in a trial or hearing shall be done in open court, and under oath or
affirmation. Unless the witness is incapacitated to speak, or the question calls for
a different mode of answer, the answers of the witness shall be given orally. (1a)
The secondsolution is to require that all witnesses besubject to the cross-
examination by the adverse party. Section 6, Rule 132 of the Rules of
Courtensuresthis solutionthusly:

Section 6. Cross-examination; its purpose and extent. Upon the termination of


the direct examination, the witness may be cross-examined by the adverse party
as to any matters stated in the direct examination, or connected therewith, with
sufficient fullness and freedom to test his accuracy and truthfulness and freedom
from interest or bias, or the reverse, and to elicit all important facts bearing upon
the issue. (8a)

Although the second solution traces its existence to a Constitutional precept


relevant to criminal cases, i.e., Section 14, (2), Article III, of the 1987
Constitution,which guarantees that: In all criminal prosecutions, the accused shall
xxx enjoy the right xxx to meet the witnesses face to face xxx, the rule requiring
the cross-examination by the adverse party equally applies to non-criminal
proceedings.

We thus stress that the rule excluding hearsay as evidence is based upon
serious concerns about the trustworthiness and reliability of hearsay evidence
due to its not being given under oath or solemn affirmation and due to its not
being subjected to cross-examination by the opposing counsel to test the
perception, memory, veracity and articulateness of the out-of-court declarant or
actor upon whose reliability the worth of the out-of-court statement depends.[27]

Based on the foregoing considerations, Guivencans testimony as well as Exhibits


B to YY, and their derivatives, inclusive, must be entirely rejected as proof of
petitioners misappropriation or conversion.

III

Lack of their proper authentication rendered

Exhibits B to YY and their derivatives


inadmissible as judicial evidence

Petitioner also contends that the RTC grossly erred in admitting as evidence
Exhibits B to YY, and their derivatives, inclusive, despite their being private
documents that were not duly authenticated as required by Section 20, Rule 132
of the Rules of Court.

Section 19, Rule 132 of the Rules of Courtdistinguishes between a public


document and a private document for the purpose of their presentation in
evidence, viz:

Section 19. Classes of documents. For the purpose of their presentation in


evidence, documents are either public or private.

Public documents are:

(a) The written official acts, or records of the official acts of the sovereign
authority, official bodies and tribunals, and public officers, whether of the
Philippines, or of a foreign country;

(b) Documents acknowledged before a notary public except last wills and
testaments, and

(c) Public records, kept in the Philippines, of private documents required by law
to be entered therein.

All other writings are private.


The nature of documents as either public or private determines how the
documents may be presented as evidence in court. A public document, by virtue
of its official or sovereign character, or because it has been acknowledged before
a notary public (except a notarial will) or a competent public official with the
formalities required by law, or because it is a public record of a private writing
authorized by law, is self-authenticating and requires no further authentication in
order to be presented as evidence in court.In contrast, a private document is any
other writing, deed, or instrument executed by a private person without the
intervention of a notary or other person legally authorized by which some
disposition or agreement is proved or set forth. Lacking the official or sovereign
character of a public document, or the solemnities prescribed by law, a private
document requires authentication in the manner allowed by law or the Rules of
Court before its acceptance as evidence in court. The requirement of
authentication of a private document is excused only in four instances,
specifically: (a) when the document is an ancient one within the context of
Section 21,[28] Rule 132 of the Rules of Court; (b) when the genuineness and
authenticity of an actionable document have not been specifically denied under
oath by the adverse party;[29](c) when thegenuineness and authenticity of the
document

have been admitted;[30] or (d) when the document is not being offered as
genuine.[31]

There is no question that Exhibits B to YY and their derivatives were private


documents because private individuals executed or generated them for private or
business purposes or uses. Considering that none of the exhibits came under
any of the four exceptions, they could not be presented and admitted as
evidence against petitioner without the Prosecution dutifully seeing to their
authentication in the manner provided in Section20 of Rule 132 of the Rules of
Court,viz:

Section 20. Proof of private documents. Before any private document offered as
authentic is received in evidence, its due execution and authenticity must be
proved either:
(a) By anyone who saw the document executed or written; or

(b) By evidence of the genuineness of the signature or handwriting of the


maker.

Any other private document need only be identified as that which it is claimed to
be.

The Prosecutionattempted to have Go authenticate the signature of petitioner in


various receipts, to wit:

ATTY. ABIERA:

Q. Now, these receipts which you mentioned which do not tally with the original
receipts, do you have copies of these receipts?

A. Yes, I have a copy of these receipts, but its not now in my possession.

Q. But when asked to present those receipts before this Honorable Court, can
you assure this

(Next Page)

ATTY ABIERA (continuing):

Honorable Court that you will be able to present those receipts?

A. Yes.

Q. You are also familiar with the signature of the accused in this case, Anna
Lerima Patula?

A. Yes.

Q. Why are you familiar with the signature of the accused in this case?
A. I used to see her signatures in the payroll and in the receipts also.

Q. Okay, I have here a machine copy of a receipt which we would present this,or
offer the same as soon as the original receipts can be presented, but for
purposes only of your testimony, Im going to point to you a certain signature over
this receipt number FLDT96 20441, a receipt from Cirila Askin, kindly go over the
signature and tell the Honorable Court whether you are familiar with the
signature?

A. Yes, that is her signature.

INTERPRETER:

Witness is pointing to a signature above the printed word collector.

(Next Page)

ATTY. ABIERA:

Q. Is this the only receipt wherein the name, the signature rather, of the accused
in this case appears?

A. That is not the only one, there are many receipts.

ATTY. ABIERA:

In order to save time, Your Honor, we will just be presenting the original receipts
Your Honor, because its quite voluminous, so we will just forego with the
testimony of the witness but we will just present the same using the testimony of
another witness, for purposes of identifying the signature of the accused. We will
request that this signature which has been identified to by the witness in this
case be marked, Your Honor, with the reservation to present the original copy
and present the same to offer as our exhibits but for the meantime, this is only for
the purposes of recording, Your Honor, which we request the same, the receipt
which has just been identified awhile ago be marked as our Exhibit A You Honor.

COURT:

Mark the receipt as Exhibit A.

ATTY. ABIERA:
And the signature be bracketed and be marked as Exhibit A-1.

(Next Page)

COURT:

Bracket the signature &mark it as Exh. A-1. What is the number of that receipt?

ATTY. ABIERA:

Receipt No. 20441 dated August 4, 1996 the statement that: received from Cirila
Askin.[32]

xxx

As the excerpts indicate, Gos attempt at authentication of the signature of


petitioner on the receipt with serial number FLDT96 No. 20441 (a document that
was marked as Exhibit A, while the purported signature of petitioner thereon was
marked as Exhibit A-1) immediately fizzled out after the Prosecution admitted
that the document was a meremachinecopy, not the original. Thereafter, as if to
soften its failed attempt, the Prosecution expressly promised to produce at a later
date the originalsof the receipt with serial number FLDT96 No. 20441 and other
receipts. But that promise was not even true, because almost in the same breath
the Prosecution offered to authenticate the signature of petitioner on the
receiptsthrougha different witness (though then still unnamed). As matters turned
out in the end, the effort to have Go authenticate both themachinecopy of the
receiptwith serial number FLDT96 No. 20441 and the signature of petitioner on
that receipt was wasteful because the machine copy was inexplicablyforgotten
and was no longer evenincluded in the Prosecutions Offer of Documentary
Evidence.

It is true that the original of the receipt bearing serial number FLDT96 No.
20441was subsequentlypresented as Exhibit Bthrough Guivencan. However,the
Prosecution did not establishthat the signature appearing on Exhibit B was the
same signature that Go had earliersought to identify to be the signature of
petitioner (Exhibit A-1) on the machine copy (Exhibit A). This is borne out by the
fact that the Prosecution abandoned Exhibit A as the marking nomenclature for
the machine copyof the receipt bearing serial number FLDT96 No. 20441 for all
intents and purposes of this case, and used the same nomenclature to
referinstead toan entirely differentdocument entitled List of Customers covered
by ANA LERIMA PATULA w/difference in Records as per Audit duly verified
March 16-20, 1997.

In her case, Guivencans identification of petitioners signature on two receipts


based alone on the fact that the signatures contained the legible family name of
Patula was ineffectual, and exposed yet another deep flaw infecting the
documentary evidence against petitioner. Apparently, Guivencan could not
honestly identify petitioners signature on the receipts either because she lacked
familiarity with such signature, or because she had not seen petitioner affix her
signature on the receipts, as the following excerpts from her testimony bear out:

ATTY. ZERNA to witness:

Q. There are two (2) receipts attached here in the confirmation sheet,
will you go over these Miss witness?

A. This was the last payment which is fully paid by the customer. The other
receipt is the one showing her payment prior to the last payment.

COURT:

Q. Where did you get those two (2) receipts?

A. From the customer.

Q. And who issued those receipts?

A. The saleswoman, Miss Patula.

ATTY. ZERNA:

We pray, Your Honor, that this receipt identified be marked as Exhibit B-3, receipt
number 20441.

(Next Page)
COURT:

Mark it.

ATTY. ZERNA:

The signature of the collector be marked as

Q. By the way, there is a signature above the name of the collector, are your
familiar with that signature? (shown to witness)

A. Yes.

Q. Whose signature is that?

A. Miss Patula.

Q. How do you know?

A. It can be recognized because of the word Patula.

Q. Are you familiar with her signature?

A. Yes.

ATTY. ZERNA:

We pray that the signature be bracketed and marked as Exhibit B-3-a

COURT:

Mark it.

ATTY. ZERNA:

The other receipt number 20045 be marked as Exhibit B-4 and the signature as
Exhibit B-4-a.

COURT:

Mark it.[33]

xxx
ATTY. ZERNA:

Q. Ms. Witness, here is a receipt colored white, number 26603 issued to one
Divina Cadilig. Will you please identify this receipt if this is the receipt of your
office?

A.Yes.

Q.There is a signature over the portion for the collector. Whose signature is this?

A.Ms. Patula.

Q.How do you know that this is her signature?

A.Because we can read the Patula.[34]

We also have similar impressions of lack of proper authentication as to the


ledgers the Prosecution presented to prove the discrepancies between the
amountspetitioner hadallegedly received from the customers and the amounts
she had actually remitted to Footluckers. Guivencanexclusively relied on the
entries of the unauthenticated ledgersto support her audit report on petitioners
supposed misappropriation or conversion, revealing her lack of independent
knowledge of the veracity of the entries, as the following excerpts of her
testimony show:

ATTY. ZERNA to witness:

Q. What is your basis of saying that your office records showed that this Cecilia
Askin has an account of P10,791.75?

ATTY. DIEZ:

The question answers itself, You Honor, what is the basis, office record.

COURT:

Let the witness answer.

WITNESS:

A. I made the basis on our ledger in the office. I just copied that and showed it to
the customers for confirmation.
ATTY. ZERNA to witness:

Q. What about the receipts?

COURT:

Make a follow-up question and what was the result when you copied that amount
in the ledger and you had it confirmed by the customers, what was the result
when you had it confirmed by the customers?

WITNESS:

A. She has no more balance but in our office she has still a balance of
P10,971.75.

ATTY. ZERNA to witness:

Q. Do you have a-whats the basis of saying that the balance of this customer is
still P10,971.75

(Next Page)

ATTY. ZERNA (continuing):

[i]n your office?

COURT:

That was already answered paero, the office has a ledger.

Q. Now, did you bring the ledger with you?

A. No, Maam.[35]

(Continuation of the Direct Examination of

Karen Guivencan on August 13, 2002)

ATTY. ZERNA to witness:

Q. Okay, You said there are discrepancies between the original and the
duplicate, will you please enlighten the Honorable Court on that discrepancy
which you said?

A. Like in this case of Cirila Askin, she has already fully paid. Her ledger shows a
zero balance she has fully paid while in the original

(Next page)

WITNESS (continuing):

[r]eceipt she has a balance of Ten Thousand Seven hundred Ninety-one Pesos
and Seventy-five Centavos (10,791.75).

COURT:

Q. What about the duplicate receipt, how much is indicated there?

A. The customer has no duplicate copy because it was already forwarded to the
Manila Office.

Q. What then is your basis in the entries in the ledger showing that it has already
a zero balance?

A. This is the copy of the customer while in the office, in the original receipt she
has still a balance.

xxx

ATTY. ZERNA:

The confirmation sheet ---

COURT:

The confirmation sheet was the one you referred to as the receipt in your earlier
testimony? Is that what you referred to as the receipts, the original receipts?

A. This is what I copied from the ledger.

Q. So where was that(sic) original receipt which you said showed that that
particular customer still has a balance of Ten Thousand something?

A. The receipt is no longer here.

Q. You mean the entry of that receipt was already entered in the ledger?

A. Yes.[36]

In the face of the palpable flaws infecting the Prosecutions evidence, it should
come as no surprise that petitioners counsel interposed timely objections. Yet,
the RTC mysteriously overruled the objections and allowedthe Prosecutionto
present the unauthenticated ledgers, as follows:

(Continuation of the Direct Examination of

Witness Karen Guivencan on September 11, 2002)

ATTY. ZERNA:

CONTINUATION OF DIRECT-EXAMINATION

Q Ms. Witness, last time around you were showing us several ledgers. Where is
it now?

A It is here.

Q Here is a ledger of one Divina Cadilig. This Divina Cadilig, how much is her
account in your office?

ATTY. DIEZ:

Your Honor please before the witness will proceed to answer the question, let me
interpose our objection on the ground that this ledger has not been duly identified
to by the person who made the same. This witness will be testifying on hearsay
matters because the supposed ledger was not identified to by the person who
made the same.

COURT:

Those ledgers were already presented in the last hearing. I think they were
already duly identified by this witness. As a matter of fact, it was she who brought
them to court

(Next Page)

COURT (cont.):

because these were the ledgers on file in their office.

ATTY. DIEZ

That is correct, Your Honor, but the person who made the entries is not this
witness, Your Honor. How do we know that the entries there is (sic) correct on the
receipts submitted to their office.

COURT:

Precisely, she brought along the receipts also to support that. Let the witness
answer.

WITNESS:

A Its the office clerk in-charge.

COURT:

The one who prepared the ledger is the office clerk.

ATTY. ZERNA:

She is an auditor, Your Honor. She has been qualified and she is the auditor of
Footluckers.

COURT:

I think, I remember in the last setting also, she testified where those entries were
taken. So, you answer the query of counsel.
xxx

ATTY. DIEZ:

Your Honor please, to avoid delay, may I interpose a continuing objection to the
questions profounded(sic) on those ledgers on the ground that, as I have said, it
is hearsay.

COURT:

Okey(sic). Let the continuing objection be noted.

Q (To Witness) The clerk who allegedly was the one who prepared the entries on
those ledgers, is she still connected with Footluckers?

A She is no longer connected now, Your Honor,

COURT:

Alright proceed.

(Next Page)

ATTY. ZERNA:

Your Honor, these are entries in the normal course of business. So, exempt from
the hearsay rule.

COURT:

Okey(sic), proceed.[37]
The mystery shrouding the RTCs soft treatment of the Prosecutions flawed
presentation was avoidable simply by the RTC adhering to the instructions of the
rules earlier quoted, as well as withSection 22 of Rule 132 of the Rules of
Court,which contains instructions on how to prove the genuineness of a
handwriting in a judicial proceeding, as follows:

Section 22. How genuineness of handwriting proved. The handwriting of a


person may be proved by any witness who believes it to be the handwriting of
such person because he has seen the person write, or has seen writing
purporting to be his upon which the witness has acted or been charged, and has
thus acquired knowledge of the handwriting of such person. Evidence respecting
the handwriting may also be given by a comparison, made by the witness or the
court, with writings admitted or treated as genuine by the party against whom the
evidence is offered, or proved to be genuine to the satisfaction of the judge.
(Emphases supplied)

If it is already clear that Go and Guivencan had not themselves seen the
execution or signing of the documents,the Prosecution surely did not
authenticate Exhibits B to YY and their derivatives conformably with the
aforequoted rules. Hence, Exhibits B to YY, and their derivatives, inclusive, were
inescapably bereft of probative value as evidence. That was the onlyfair and just
result, as the Court held in Malayan Insurance Co., Inc. v. Philippine Nails and
Wires Corporation:[38]

On the first issue, petitioner Malayan Insurance Co., Inc., contends that Jeanne
Kings testimony was hearsay because she had no personal knowledge of the
execution of the documents supporting respondents cause of action, such as the
sales contract, invoice, packing list, bill of lading, SGS Report, and the Marine
Cargo Policy. Petitioner avers that even though King was personally assigned to
handle and monitor the importation of Philippine Nails and Wires Corporation,
herein respondent, this cannot be equated with personal knowledge of the facts
which gave rise to respondents cause of action. Further, petitioner asserts, even
though she personally prepared the summary of weight of steel billets received
by respondent, she did not have personal knowledge of the weight of steel billets
actually shipped and delivered.

At the outset, we must stress that respondents cause of action is founded on


breach of insurance contract covering cargo consisting of imported steel billets.
To hold petitioner liable, respondent has to prove, first, its importation of
10,053.400 metric tons of steel billets valued at P67,156,300.00, and second, the
actual steel billets delivered to and received by the importer, namely the
respondent. Witness Jeanne King, who was assigned to handle respondents
importations, including their insurance coverage, has personal knowledge of the
volume of steel billets being imported, and therefore competent to testify thereon.
Her testimony is not hearsay, as this doctrine is defined in Section 36, Rule 130
of the Rules of Court.However, she is not qualified to testify on the shortage in
the delivery of the imported steel billets. She did not have personal knowledge of
the actual steel billets received. Even though she prepared the summary of the
received steel billets, she based the summary only on the receipts prepared by
other persons. Her testimony on steel billets received was hearsay. It has no
probative value even if not objected to at the trial.

On the second issue, petitioner avers that King failed to properly authenticate
respondents documentary evidence. Under Section 20, Rule 132, Rules of Court,
before a private document is admitted in evidence, it must be authenticated
either by the person who executed it, the person before whom its execution was
acknowledged, any person who was present and saw it executed, or who after its
execution, saw it and recognized the signatures, or the person to whom the
parties to the instruments had previously confessed execution thereof. In this
case, respondent admits that King was none of the aforementioned persons. She
merely made the summary of the weight of steel billets based on the
unauthenticated bill of lading and the SGS report. Thus, the summary of steel
billets actually received had no proven real basis, and Kings testimony on this
point could not be taken at face value.

xxx Under the rules on evidence, documents are either public or private. Private
documents are those that do not fall under any of the enumerations in Section
19, Rule 132 of the Rules of Court.Section 20of the same law, in turn, provides
that before any private document is received in evidence, its due execution and
authenticity must be proved either by anyone who saw the document executed or
written, or by evidence of the genuineness of the signature or handwriting of the
maker. Here, respondents documentary exhibits are private documents. They are
not among those enumerated in Section 19, thus, their due execution and
authenticity need to be proved before they can be admitted in evidence.With the
exception concerning the summary of the weight of the steel billets imported,
respondent presented no supporting evidence concerning their authenticity.
Consequently, they cannot be utilized to prove less of the insured cargo and/or
the short delivery of the imported steel billets. In sum, we find no sufficient
competent evidence to prove petitioners liability.

That the Prosecutions evidence was left uncontested because petitioner decided
not to subject Guivencan to cross-examination, and did not tender her contrary
evidencewas inconsequential. Although the trial court had overruled the
seasonable objections to Guivencans testimony bypetitioners counsel due to the
hearsay character, it could not be denied thathearsay evidence, whether objected
to or not, had no probative value.[39]Verily, the flaws of the Prosecutions
evidence were fundamental and substantive, not merely technical and
procedural, and were defects that the adverse partys waiver of her cross-
examination or failure to rebutcould not set right or cure. Nor did the trial courts
overruling of petitioners objections imbue the flawed evidence with any virtue and
value.

Curiously, the RTC excepted the entries in the ledgers from the application of the
hearsay rule by also terselystating that the ledgers were prepared in the regular
course of business.[40]Seemingly, the RTC applied Section 43, Rule 130 of the
Rules of Court, to wit:

Section 43. Entries in the course of business. Entries made at, or near the time of
the transactions to which they refer, by a person deceased, or unable to testify,
who was in a position to know the facts therein stated, may be received as prima
facie evidence, if such person made the entries in his professional capacity or in
the performance of duty and in the ordinary or regular course of business or duty.

This was another grave error of the RTC.The terse yet sweeping mannerof
justifying the application of Section 43 was unacceptable due to the need to show
the concurrence of the several requisites before entries in the course of business
could be excepted from the hearsay rule. The requisites are as follows:

(a) The person who made the entry must be dead or unable to testify;
(b) The entries were made at or near the time of the transactions to which they
refer;

(c) The entrant was in a position to know the facts stated in the entries;

(d) The entries were made in his professional capacity or in the performance of a
duty, whether legal, contractual, moral, or religious;

(e) The entries were made in the ordinary or regular course of business or duty.
[41]

The Court has to acquit petitioner for failure of the State to establish her guilt
beyond reasonable doubt. The Court reiterates that in the trial of every criminal
case, a judge must rigidly test the States evidence of guilt in order to ensure that
such evidence adhered to the basic rules of admissibility before pronouncing an
accused guilty of the crime charged upon such evidence. The failure of the judge
to do so herein nullified the guarantee of due of process of law in favor of the
accused, who had no obligation to prove her innocence. Heracquittal should
follow.

IV

No reliable evidence on damage

Conformably with finding the evidence of guilt unreliable, the Court declares that
the disposition by the RTC ordering petitioner to indemnify Footluckers in the
amount of P131,286.92 with interest of 12% per annum until fully paid was not
yet shown to be factually founded. Yet, she cannot now be absolved of civil
liability on that basis. Heracquittal has to bedeclared as without prejudice to the
filing of a civil action against her for the recovery of any amount that she may still
owe to Footluckers.

WHEREFORE, the Court SETS ASIDE ANDREVERSESthe decision convicting


ANNA LERIMA PATULAof estafa as charged, and ACQUITS her for failure of the
Prosecution to prove her guilt beyond reasonable doubt, without prejudice to a
civil action brought against her for the recoveryof any amount still owing in favor
of Footluckers Chain of Stores, Inc.

No pronouncement on costs of suit.

Jacob vs Sandiganbayan

This is a Petition for Certiorari under Rule 65 of the Rules of Court for the
nullification of the Resolutions dated February 4, 2002[1] of the Sandiganbayan
Special Fourth Division and December 12, 2003[2] of the Sandiganbayan Fourth
Division. In its Resolution dated February 4, 2002, the Sandiganbayan Special
Fourth Division set aside the order to dismiss Criminal Case Nos. 25922-25939,
among other cases, verbally issued by Associate Justice Narciso S. Nario
(Justice Nario), Chairman of the Sandiganbayan Fourth Division, during the court
session held on August 20, 2001;[3] while in its Resolution dated December 12,
2003, the Sandiganbayan Fourth Division denied the motions for reconsideration
of the petitioners and other accused.

The following facts are duly established from the pleadings of the parties:

From 1993 to 1997, Petron Corporation (Petron), a corporation engaged in the


business of refining, marketing and distribution of petroleum products, received
Tax Credit Certificates (TCCs) by assignment from 18 private firms[4] registered
with the Board of Investments (BOI). The TCCs were issued by the One Stop
Shop Inter-Agency Tax Credit & Duty Drawback Center (OSS), an office under
the Department of Finance (DOF), created by virtue of Administrative Order No.
266 dated February 7, 1992. Petron used the assigned TCCs to pay its excise
tax liabilities.

The practice was for the BOI-registered firms to sign the Deeds of Assignment
upon delivery of the TCCs to Petron. Petron then forwarded said documents to
the OSS, with a request for authorization to use said TCCs to pay for its excise
tax liabilities. DOF Undersecretary Antonio P. Belicena (Belicena) approved the
request of Petron through the issuance of Tax Debit Memoranda (TDM)
addressed to the Collection Program Division of the Bureau of Internal Revenue
(BIR). The BIR Collection Program Division accepted the TCCs as payment for
the excise tax liabilities of Petron by issuing its own TDM.[5] The control numbers
of the BIR-TDM were indicated on the back of the TCCs, marking the final
utilization of the tax credits.[6]

However, the Fact Finding and Intelligence Bureau (FFIB) of the Office of the
Ombudsman eventually found that the aforementioned transactions involving the
TCCs were irregular and violative of the Memorandum of Agreement dated
August 29, 1989 between the BOI and the DOF, which implemented Article 21 of
Executive Order No. 226, otherwise known as the Omnibus Investments Code of
1987.[7]

After the termination of the requisite preliminary investigation, the Office of the
Ombudsman issued a Resolution dated March 27, 2000 finding probable cause
against several public officers and private individuals, including petitioners
Monico V. Jacob (Jacob), President, and Celso L. Legarda (Legarda), Vice-
President and General Manager for Marketing, both of Petron, for perpetrating
the so-called tax credit scam. On April 10, 2010, the Office of the Ombudsman
filed a total of 62 Informations, 18 of which, docketed as Criminal Case Nos.
25922-25939, were against DOF Undersecretary Belicena, OSS Deputy
Executive Director Uldarico P. Andutan, Jr., petitioners and other Petron officials,
and officers of the BOI-registered firms which assigned the TCCs to Petron,
charging them with violation of Section 3(e) of Republic Act No. 3019, otherwise
known as the Anti-Graft and Corrupt Practices Act.
Petitioners provided an undisputed account of the events that subsequently took
place before the Sandiganbayan:

On April 14, 2000, petitioners and the four other Petron officers who were
similarly charged filed a Motion for Reinvestigation [with the Office of the
Ombudsman].

On 17 April 2000, the [Sandiganbayan Fourth Division] issued an Order giving


the prosecution a period of sixty (60) days within which

to re-assess its evidence in these cases and to take appropriate action on the
said motion for reconsideration of accused movants and to inform the Court
within the same period as to its findings and recommendations including the
action thereon of the Honorable Ombudsman.

Sixty (60) days passed but the Office of the Ombudsman did not even bother to
submit a report on the status of the motions for reconsideration. Months passed,
and then, AN ENTIRE YEAR PASSED. There was still nothing from the
respondent Office of the Ombudsman.

In the meantime, petitioner Jacob was arraigned on 1 June 2000 while petitioner
Legarda was arraigned on 18 May 2001.

On March 20, 2001, in view of a significant development in the Shell cases (then
pending with the 5th Division of [the Sandiganbayan]), petitioners and other
accused Petron officials filed a Motion to Resolve with the Office of the
Ombudsman. In the said motion, petitioners cited the Memorandum dated 30
January 2001 issued by Special Prosecutor Leonardo P. Tamayo upholding the
dropping of the charges against Shell official Pacifico Cruz on the ground that
there was no sufficient evidence to prove that he was part of the conspiracy.
Petitioners asserted that since their situation/alleged participation is similar to
that of Mr. Pacifico Cruz, they should similarly be dropped from the criminal
cases. Despite this, the respondent Office of the Ombudsman took no action.
Considering the time that had lapsed, the [Sandiganbayan Fourth Division], at
the hearing on 1 June 2001, expressly warned the prosecution that should it fail
to resolve the reconsideration/investigation, it would order the dismissal of the
cases or require the prosecution to show cause why it should not be cited for
contempt.

In its Resolution dated 26 June 2001, the [Sandiganbayan Fourth Division] in fact
denied the motion of the prosecution for the resetting of the scheduled
arraignment and pre-trial on 2 July 2001 it appearing that the Reinvestigation of
these cases has been pending for more than one (1) year now and the court
cannot countenance the unreasonable delay attributable to the plaintiff.

In spite of the denial of their motion, the prosecution still failed to submit its report
to the [Sandiganbayan Fourth Division] during the 2 July 2001 hearing. Instead
they asked for a period of seven (7) more days to resolve the motions for
reconsideration. The arraignment (of the other accused) and pre-trial therefore
had to be reset again to 17 July 2001.

One day before the schedule hearing, the prosecution filed a Manifestation
requesting the cancellation of the arraignment and pre-trial scheduled the next
day on the ground that the motions for reconsideration/reinvestigation were still
pending resolution.

Once again, [the Sandiganbayan Fourth Division] gave the prosecution another
chance. During the hearing on 17 July 2001, the [Sandiganbayan 4th Division]
directed the prosecution, through Prosecutor Orlando Ines, to terminate the
reinvestigation within a period of one (1) more month. The arraignment and pre-
trial were then reset to 20 August 2001.

At the scheduled hearing on August 20, 2001, Prosecutor Orlando Ines, however,
again requested for the deferment of the arraignment and pre-trial on the ground
that the resolution on the various motions for reconsideration/reinvestigation
were still pending approval by the Office of the Ombudsman.
In all the hearings conducted in the cases the defense verbally and consistently
invoked their right to speedy trial and moved for the dismissal of the cases. In the
course of more than one year, however, the [Sandiganbayan 4th Division] kept
affording the prosecution one chance after another. The sixty days granted to the
prosecution became more than four hundred days still, there was no resolution in
sight.

Thus on 20 August 2001, compelled by its duty to uphold the fundamental law,
the [Sandiganbayan Fourth Division, through its Chairman, Justice Nario] issued
a verbal order dismissing the cases. The dismissal was duly recorded in the
minutes of the hearing of the said date which was attested to by the Clerk of
Court and signed by the parties.

On 24 August 2001, the prosecution filed a Motion for Reconsideration with the
following prayer: WHEREFORE, the undersigned Ombudsman Prosecutors
prayed (sic) that the Order issued by the Honorable Court for the summary
dismissal of all the graft and estafa charges aforecited be SET ASIDE.

On August 31, 2001, the [Sandiganbayan Fourth Division] issued an Order taking
cognizance of the Motion for Reconsideration filed by the prosecution and
requiring the accused to file their respective comments thereon within five (5)
days.

On 4 February 2002, OR SIX (6) MONTHS after [Justice Nario] issued the verbal
order of dismissal, the [Sandiganbayan Special Fourth Division] issued an Order
setting aside said verbal order.

xxxx

In the 4 February 2002 Resolution, this time a Division of five justices (two of
whom dissented) rendered a Resolution stating:
WHEREFORE, the dismissal of these cases orally ordered in open court by the
Chairman of the Fourth Division during its court session held on August 20, 2001,
and reiterated in his subsequent ponencia, is hereby set aside.[8] (Citations
omitted.)

The Sandiganbayan Special Fourth Division gave the following reasons for
overruling Justice Narios verbal order dismissing the criminal cases against the
accused in the alleged tax credit scam:

In the present case, (1) there is already a delay of the trial for more than one year
now; (2) but it is not shown that the delay is vexatious, capricious and
oppressive; (3) it may be that, as stated in the herein dissented Resolution, at the
hearings conducted in these cases, the defense orally, openly and consistently
asked for the dismissal of these cases; however, these oral manifestations were
more of knee-jerk reactions of the defense counsel in those hearings everytime
the prosecution requested for postponement than anything else as said defense
counsel did not seriously pursue the dismissal of these cases, such as by
reducing their request in a formal written motion to dismiss and/or insisting that
the court formally rule on their request for dismissal and go on certiorari if denied;
and (4) considering the nature and importance of the cases, if there is any
prejudice that may have resulted as a consequence of the series of
postponements, it would be more against the government than against any of the
accused; however, be that as it may, none of the herein accused has come out to
claim having been thus prejudiced.[9]

On February 26, 2002, petitioners, together with four other co-accused Petron
officials, filed a Motion for Reconsideration[10] of the February 4, 2002
Resolution of the Sandiganbayan Special Fourth Division. Other accused also
filed their motions for reconsideration and motions to quash/dismiss. The
prosecution expectedly opposed all such motions of the accused.
In an Omnibus Resolution dated December 12, 2003, the Sandiganbayan Fourth
Division ruled in the prosecutions favor and denied all the motions filed by the
accused, to wit:

Wherefore, premises considered, this court issues an Omnibus Resolution


denying all the above-described Motion to Quash for lack of merit.

Hence, petitioners come before us via the instant Petition for Certiorari averring
grave abuse of discretion on the part of the Sandiganbayan Special Fourth
Division, specifically:

THE RESPONDENT COURT COMMITTED GRAVE ABUSE OF DISCRETION


AMOUNTING TO LACK OR EXCESS OF JURISDICTION IN DENYING
PETITIONERS RIGHT TO SPEEDY TRIAL.

II

THE RESPONDENT COURT COMMITTED GRAVE ABUSE OF DISCRETION


AMOUNTING TO LACK OR EXCESS OF JURISDICTION IN HOLDING THAT
PETITIONERS HAVE NOT BEEN PUT IN DOUBLE JEOPARDY.

III

THE RESPONDENT COURT COMMITTED GRAVE ABUSE OF DISCRETION


AMOUNTING TO LACK OR EXCESS OF JURISDICTION IN NOT
CONSIDERING THE GLARING LACK OF EVIDENCE AGAINST PETITIONERS.
[11]
To recall, Justice Nario, as the Chairman of the Sandiganbayan Fourth Division,
ordered the dismissal of all criminal cases arising from the purported tax credit
scam on the ground that the accused, including petitioners, had already been
deprived of their right to a speedy trial and disposition of the cases against them.
Petitioners assert that the Sandiganbayan gravely abused its discretion in
reversing Justice Narios order of dismissal of Criminal Case Nos. 25922-25939
because such reversal violated petitioners constitutional right against double
jeopardy.

An accuseds right to have a speedy, impartial, and public trial is guaranteed in


criminal cases by Section 14(2), Article III[12] of the Constitution. This right to a
speedy trial may be defined as one free from vexatious, capricious and
oppressive delays, its salutary objective being to assure that an innocent person
may be free from the anxiety and expense of a court litigation or, if otherwise, of
having his guilt determined within the shortest possible time compatible with the
presentation and consideration of whatsoever legitimate defense he may
interpose. Intimating historical perspective on the evolution of the right to speedy
trial, we reiterate the old legal maxim, justice delayed is justice denied. This oft-
repeated adage requires the expeditious resolution of disputes, much more so in
criminal cases where an accused is constitutionally guaranteed the right to a
speedy trial.[13]

Hence, the Revised Rules on Criminal Procedure also include provisions that
ensure the protection of such right. As we presented in Uy v. Hon. Adriano[14]:

Section 1(h), Rule 115 of the Revised Rules of Criminal Procedure provides that
the accused is entitled to a speedy, impartial and public trial. Section 2, Rule 119
of the said Rules provides that trial, once commenced, shall be continuous until
terminated:

Sec. 2. Continuous trial until terminated; postponements. Trial, once


commenced, shall continue from day to day as far as practicable until terminated.
It may be postponed for a reasonable period of time for good cause.
The court shall, after consultation with the prosecutor and defense counsel, set
the case for continuous trial on a weekly or other short-term trial calendar at the
earliest possible time so as to ensure speedy trial. In no case shall the entire trial
period exceed one hundred eighty (180) days from the first day of trial, except as
otherwise authorized by the Supreme Court.

The time limitations provided under this section and the preceding section shall
not apply where special laws or circulars of the Supreme Court provide for a
shorter period of trial.

However, any period of delay resulting from a continuance granted by the court
motu proprio, or on motion of either the accused or his counsel, or the
prosecution, if the court granted the continuance on the basis of its findings set
forth in the order that the ends of justice is served by taking such action outweigh
the best interest of the public and the accused on a speedy trial, shall be
deducted.

The trial court may grant continuance, taking into account the following factors:

(a) Whether or not the failure to grant a continuance in the proceeding would
likely make a continuation of such proceeding impossible or result in a
miscarriage of justice; and

(b) Whether or not the case taken as a whole is so novel, unusual and complex,
due to the number of accused or the nature of the prosecution, or that it is
unreasonable to expect adequate preparation within the periods of time
established therein.

In addition, no continuance under section 3(f) of this Rule shall be granted


because of congestion of the courts calendar or lack of diligent preparation or
failure to obtain available witnesses on the part of the prosecutor.[15]
We further emphasized in Uy that speedy trial is a relative term and necessarily a
flexible concept. In determining whether the right of the accused to a speedy trial
was violated, the delay should be considered, in view of the entirety of the
proceedings. Indeed, mere mathematical reckoning of the time involved would
not suffice as the realities of everyday life must be regarded in judicial
proceedings which, after all, do not exist in a vacuum.[16]

Corpuz v. Sandiganbayan[17] is a case originating from exactly the same factual


background as the case at bar. Therein petitioners Marialen C. Corpuz and
Antonio H. Roman, Sr. were officers of FILSYN Corporation, one of the BOI-
registered firms that assigned TCCs to Petron; and were among the accused in
Criminal Case No. 25922. They filed a separate Petition for Certiorari before us
assailing the Resolutions dated February 4, 2002 of the Sandiganbayan Special
Fourth Division and December 12, 2003 of the Sandiganbayan Fourth Division.

We expounded more extensively in Corpuz on the right of the accused to a


speedy trial and disposition of the case against him, thus:

The right of the accused to a speedy trial and to a speedy disposition of the case
against him was designed to prevent the oppression of the citizen by holding
criminal prosecution suspended over him for an indefinite time, and to prevent
delays in the administration of justice by mandating the courts to proceed with
reasonable dispatch in the trial of criminal cases. Such right to a speedy trial and
a speedy disposition of a case is violated only when the proceeding is attended
by vexatious, capricious and oppressive delays. The inquiry as to whether or not
an accused has been denied such right is not susceptible by precise
qualification. The concept of a speedy disposition is a relative term and must
necessarily be a flexible concept.

While justice is administered with dispatch, the essential ingredient is orderly,


expeditious and not mere speed. It cannot be definitely said how long is too
long in a system where justice is supposed to be swift, but deliberate. It is
consistent with delays and depends upon circumstances. It secures rights to the
accused, but it does not preclude the rights of public justice. Also, it must be
borne in mind that the rights given to the accused by the Constitution and the
Rules of Court are shields, not weapons; hence, courts are to give meaning to
that intent.[18] (Emphases ours.)

We went on to lay down in Corpuz the test for determining whether an accused
was indeed deprived of his right to a speedy trial and disposition of the case
against him:

In determining whether the accused has been deprived of his right to a speedy
disposition of the case and to a speedy trial, four factors must be considered: (a)
length of delay; (b) the reason for the delay; (c) the defendants assertion of his
right; and (d) prejudice to the defendant. Prejudice should be assessed in the
light of the interest of the defendant that the speedy trial was designed to protect,
namely: to prevent oppressive pre-trial incarceration; to minimize anxiety and
concerns of the accused to trial; and to limit the possibility that his defense will be
impaired. Of these, the most serious is the last, because the inability of a
defendant adequately to prepare his case skews the fairness of the entire
system. There is also prejudice if the defense witnesses are unable to recall
accurately the events of the distant past. Even if the accused is not imprisoned
prior to trial, he is still disadvantaged by restraints on his liberty and by living
under a cloud of anxiety, suspicion and often, hostility. His financial resources
may be drained, his association is curtailed, and he is subjected to public
obloquy.

Delay is a two-edge sword. It is the government that bears the burden of proving
its case beyond reasonable doubt. The passage of time may make it difficult or
impossible for the government to carry its burden. The Constitution and the
Rules do not require impossibilities or extraordinary efforts, diligence or exertion
from courts or the prosecutor, nor contemplate that such right shall deprive the
State of a reasonable opportunity of fairly prosecuting criminals. As held in
Williams v. United States, for the government to sustain its right to try the
accused despite a delay, it must show two things: (a) that the accused suffered
no serious prejudice beyond that which ensued from the ordinary and inevitable
delay; and (b) that there was no more delay than is reasonably attributable to the
ordinary processes of justice.

Closely related to the length of delay is the reason or justification of the State for
such delay. Different weights should be assigned to different reasons or
justifications invoked by the State. For instance, a deliberate attempt to delay the
trial in order to hamper or prejudice the defense should be weighted heavily
against the State. Also, it is improper for the prosecutor to intentionally delay to
gain some tactical advantage over the defendant or to harass or prejudice him.
On the other hand, the heavy case load of the prosecution or a missing witness
should be weighted less heavily against the State. Corollarily, Section 4, Rule
119 of the Revised Rules of Criminal Procedure enumerates the factors for
granting a continuance.[19]

In the Petition at bar, Criminal Case Nos. 25922-25939 were filed on April 10,
2000. Petitioner Jacob was arraigned on June 1, 2000, while petitioner Legarda
was arraigned on May 18, 2001; with both petitioners pleading not guilty. Since
then, there had been no other significant development in the cases since the
prosecution repeatedly requested for deferment or postponement of the
scheduled hearings as it awaits the result of the reinvestigation of the Office of
the Ombudsman. Judge Nario verbally ordered the dismissal of said cases
during the hearing on August 20, 2001. Thus, the criminal cases had been
pending for about a year and four months by the time they were dismissed by
Justice Nario.

The accused, including petitioners, had consistently asked in open court that the
criminal cases be dismissed every time the prosecution moved for a deferment or
postponement of the hearings.

The prosecution attributed the delay in the criminal proceedings to: 1) the 23
motions for reinvestigation or reconsideration filed by the accused, which was
granted by the Sandiganbayan in its April 17, 2000 Order; and 2) the failure of
the Office of the Ombudsman to terminate its reinvestigation and submit its report
within the 60-day period fixed by the said graft court.
Irrefragably, there had been an undue and inordinate delay in the reinvestigation
of the cases by the Office of the Ombudsman, which failed to submit its
reinvestigation report despite the lapse of the 60-day period set by the
Sandiganbayan, and even more than a year thereafter. That there were 23
Motions for Reinvestigation filed is insignificant. It should be stressed that
reinvestigation, as the word itself implies, is merely a repeat investigation of the
case. It is simply a chance for the Office of the Ombudsman to review and re-
evaluate its findings based on the evidence previously submitted by the parties.
The Office of the Ombudsman should have expedited the reinvestigation, not
only because it was ordered by the Sandiganbayan to submit a report within a
period of 60 days, but also because said Office is bound by the Constitution[20]
and Republic Act No. 6770, otherwise known as the Ombudsman Act of 1989,
[21] to act promptly on complaints and cases pending before it.

Nevertheless, while the re-investigation by the Office of the Ombudsman delayed


the proceedings in Criminal Case Nos. 25922-25939, the said process could not
have been dispensed with as it was undertaken for the protection of the rights of
petitioners themselves (and their co-accused) and their rights should not be
compromised at the expense of expediency.

In Corpuz, we warned against the overzealous or precipitate dismissal of a case


that may enable the defendant, who may be guilty, to go free without having been
tried, thereby infringing the societal interest in trying people accused of crimes
rather than granting them immunization because of legal error.[22] Earlier, in
People v. Leviste,[23] we already stressed that:

[T]he State, like any other litigant, is entitled to its day in court, and to a
reasonable opportunity to present its case. A hasty dismissal such as the one in
question, instead of unclogging dockets, has actually increased the workload of
the justice system as a whole and caused uncalled-for delays in the final
resolution of this and other cases. Unwittingly, the precipitate action of the
respondent court, instead of easing the burden of the accused, merely prolonged
the litigation and ironically enough, unnecessarily delayed the case in the
process, causing the very evil it apparently sought to avoid. Such action does
not inspire public confidence in the administration of justice.[24]
Thus, even though we acknowledge the delay in the criminal proceedings, as
well as the prejudice suffered by petitioners and their co-accused by reason
thereof, the weighing of interests militate against a finding that petitioners right to
speedy trial and disposition of the cases involving them would have justified the
dismissal of Criminal Case Nos. 25922-25939. We agree with the
Sandiganbayan Special Fourth Division that Justice Narios dismissal of the
criminal cases was unwarranted under the circumstances, since the State should
not be prejudiced and deprived of its right to prosecute the criminal cases simply
because of the ineptitude or nonchalance of the Office of the Ombudsman. We
reiterate our observations in Corpuz that:

There can be no denying the fact that the petitioners, as well as the other
accused, was prejudiced by the delay in the reinvestigation of the cases and the
submission by the Ombudsman/Special Prosecutor of his report thereon. So
was the State. We have balanced the societal interest involved in the cases and
the need to give substance to the petitioners constitutional rights and their quest
for justice, and we are convinced that the dismissal of the cases is too drastic a
remedy to be accorded to the petitioners. The cloud of suspicion may still linger
over the heads of the petitioners by the precipitate dismissal of the cases. We
repeat -- the cases involve the so-called tax credit certificates scam and
hundreds of millions of pesos allegedly perpetrated by government officials in
connivance with private individuals. The People has yet to prove the guilt of the
petitioners of the crimes charged beyond reasonable doubt. We agree with the
ruling of the Sandiganbayan that before resorting to the extreme sanction of
depriving the petitioner a chance to prove its case by dismissing the cases, the
Ombudsman/Special Prosecutor should be ordered by the Sandiganbayan under
pain of contempt, to explain the delay in the submission of his report on his
reinvestigation.[25]

Furthermore, the Sandiganbayan Special Fourth Division did not abuse its
discretion in setting aside Justice Narios verbal order, which dismissed Criminal
Case Nos. 25922-25939, for not only was such order baseless, as we had
previously discussed herein; but more importantly, because it is an utter nullity,
as we had ruled in Corpuz.

We held in Corpuz that:

In the unanimous Resolution of December 12, 2003, the Sandiganbayan ruled as


follows:

In the cases at bar, the dismissal made in open court by the Chairman, which
was not reduced in writing, is not a valid dismissal or termination of the cases.
This is because the Chairman cannot unilaterally dismiss the same without the
approval or consent of the other members of the Division. The Sandiganbayan is
a collegiate court and under its internal rules prevailing at the time (Rule XVIII,
Section 1(b) of the 1984 Revised Rules of the Sandiganbayan, which is now
Section 1(b), Rule VIII of the 2002 Revised Internal Rules of the
Sandiganbayan), an order, resolution or judgment, in order to be valid - that is to
say, in order to be considered as an official action of the Court itself - must bear
the unanimous approval of the members of the division, or in case of lack
thereof, by the majority vote of the members of a special division of five.

We agree with the foregoing ratiocination. Section 1, Rule 120 of the Revised
Rules of Criminal Procedure, mandates that a judgment must be written in the
official language, personally and directly prepared by the judge and signed by
him and shall contain clearly and distinctly a statement of the facts and the law
upon which it is based. The rule applies to a final order dismissing a criminal
case grounded on the violation of the rights of the accused to a speedy trial. A
verbal judgment or order of dismissal is a violation of the provision; hence, such
order is, in contemplation of law, not in esse, therefore, ineffective. Justice Nario
failed to issue a written resolution dismissing the criminal cases for failure of the
prosecution to submit its report on the reinvestigation of the cases within the
sixty-day period fixed by the graft court. Moreover, the verbal order was rejected
by majority vote of the members of the Sandiganbayan Special Division. In fine,
there has been no valid and effective order of dismissal of the cases. The
Sandiganbayan cannot then be faulted for issuing the assailed resolutions.
Neither are the petitioners entitled to a writ of mandamus to compel the
Sandiganbayan to reinstate the cases, considering that the verbal order of
Justice Nario as aforestated does not exist at all in contemplation of law.[26]
(Emphases ours.)

Given that Justice Narios verbal order dismissing Criminal Case Nos. 25922-
25939 is null and void, and does not exist at all in contemplation of law, it follows
that petitioners cannot invoke the constitutional right against double jeopardy.

To substantiate a claim for double jeopardy, the following must be demonstrated:

(1) [A] first jeopardy must have attached prior to the second; (2) the first jeopardy
must have been validly terminated; (3) the second jeopardy must be for the same
offense, or the second offense includes or is necessarily included in the offense
charged in the first information, or is an attempt to commit the same or is a
frustration thereof.

And legal jeopardy attaches only: (a) upon a valid indictment; (b) before a
competent court; (c) after arraignment; (d) [when] a valid plea [has] been
entered; and (e) the case was dismissed or otherwise terminated without the
express consent of the accused.[27]

In the instant Petition, legal jeopardy has not yet attached since there is so far no
valid dismissal or termination of the criminal cases against petitioners.

Finally, the Sandiganbayan Special Fourth Division did not commit grave abuse
of discretion nor erred in not considering the glaring lack of evidence against
petitioners.
As we pointed out in Rizon v. Desierto[28]:

Time and again, we have held that a prosecutor does not decide whether there is
evidence beyond reasonable doubt of the guilt of the person charged. He merely
determines whether there is sufficient ground to engender a well-founded belief
that a crime has been committed and that the accused is probably guilty thereof,
and should be held for trial. A finding of probable cause, therefore, does not
require an inquiry as to whether there is sufficient evidence to secure a
conviction. It is enough that the prosecutor believes that the act or omission
complained of constitutes the offense charged. A trial is intended precisely for the
reception of prosecution evidence in support of the charge. It is the court that is
tasked to determine guilt beyond reasonable doubt based on the evidence
presented by the parties at the trial on the merits.[29]

Here, there has been no trial yet. Therefore, there has been no occasion yet for
the full and exhaustive display of the parties evidence. The presence or absence
of the elements of the crime is evidentiary in nature that shall be passed upon
after a full-blown trial on the merits.

WHEREFORE, there being no showing that the impugned Resolutions dated


February 4, 2002 of the Sandiganbayan Special Fourth Division and December
12, 2003 of the Sandiganbayan Fourth Division in Criminal Case Nos. 25922-
25939 are tainted with grave abuse of discretion amounting to lack or excess of
jurisdiction, the instant Petition for Certiorari is DISMISSED for lack of merit.

SO ORDERED.

Mari vs People
This resolves the Petition for Certiorari under Rule 65 of the Rules of Court,
praying that the Order[1] of the Regional Trial Court of Sogod, Southern Leyte
(RTC), dated January 16, 2009, dismissing the criminal case for rape against
PO1 Rudyard Paloma y Torres (private respondent), and the Resolution[2] dated
March 16, 2009, denying petitioners' motion for reconsideration, be annulled and
set aside.

The records reveal the following antecedent facts.

On October 25, 2004, petitioner AAA, private complainant below, executed a


sworn statement before an Investigator of the 8th Regional Office, Philippine
National Police-Criminal Investigation and Detection Group (PNP-CIDG) in
Tacloban City, where she stated that she was raped by herein private respondent
on October 10, 2004 at her boarding house at Sogod, Southern Leyte. A
preliminary investigation of the case was commenced on November 4, 2004
before the Presiding Judge of the Municipal Circuit Trial Court (MCTC) of Sogod.
A warrant of arrest was issued against private respondent, so he voluntarily
surrendered to the Chief of Police of Sogod on November 18, 2004 and was then
incarcerated at the Sogod Municipal Jail.

On November 20, 2004, private respondent filed a Motion for Bail. Hearings on
the motion commenced on December 7, 2004, but petitioner failed to appear.
Only private respondent presented evidence. Thus, on March 16, 2005, the
MCTC of Sogod issued an Order allowing private respondent to post bail set at
P200,000.00. After posting a surety bond, private respondent was released from
confinement.

Pursuant to the issuance of A.M. No. 05-8-26, divesting first-level courts of


authority to conduct preliminary investigation of criminal complaints cognizable
by Regional Trial Courts, records of the subject case were transmitted to the
Provincial Prosecutor's Office of Southern Leyte.[3] The Prosecutor's Office
issued a Resolution dated May 26, 2008, finding probable cause against private
respondent and, accordingly, an Information for Rape was filed on June 11, 2008.
A warrant of arrest was immediately issued against private respondent.
On June 27, 2008, private respondent was committed to detention[4] and, on
June 30, 2008, the RTC issued an Order[5] stating that accused had voluntarily
surrendered to the Office of the Clerk of Court and arraignment was set for July
31, 2008. In the meantime, on July 3, 2008, private respondent filed a Motion to
Admit Cash Bond in Lieu of Surety Bond; thus, in an Order dated July 10, 2008,
the RTC cancelled the July 31, 2008 schedule for arraignment and reset the
arraignment and hearing on said motion for August 20, 2008. At said scheduled
date for arraignment and hearing on the motion, nobody appeared for the
prosecution. Hence, the RTC issued the Order[6] dated August 20, 2008
resetting the arraignment for October 31, 2008 and stating that:

x x x this Court hereby orders the public prosecutor x x x and/or his assistant
prosecutor x x x to appear and prosecute this case on the next scheduled
hearing from arraignment up to the termination of the trial of this case otherwise
this Court will order the dismissal of this case for failure to prosecute or nolle
prosequi.[7]

On October 28, 2008, petitioner AAA, private complainant below, filed through
her private counsel, a Motion for Cancellation of Hearing,[8] manifesting that Atty.
Pedro Felicen, Jr. had been granted the authority to prosecute by the Provincial
Prosecutor and praying that the scheduled arraignment on October 31, 2008 be
cancelled due to the pendency of private complainant's petition for transfer of
venue before this Court. The authorized private prosecutor did not appear on
said hearing date. The hearing on October 31, 2008 proceeded as the RTC
ruled, in its Order[9] issued on the same day, that unless restrained by a higher
court, the mere pendency of a petition for transfer of venue is not sufficient
reason to suspend the proceedings. Moreover, counsel for accused invoked the
accused's right to a speedy trial and, thus, private respondent was arraigned in
the presence of the Provincial Prosecutor who was designated by the RTC to
represent the prosecution for the purpose of arraignment. Pre-trial was set for
November 13, 2008. Nevertheless, said schedule for pre-trial was cancelled (per
Order[10] dated November 4, 2008) as the Presiding Judge of the RTC had to
attend a PHILJA Seminar, and pre-trial was reset to November 24, 2008. On
November 24, 2008, the day of the pre-trial itself, the private prosecutor again
filed a Motion for Cancellation of Hearing, again using as justification the
pendency of the petition for transfer of venue. The RTC issued an Order on even
date, reading as follows:

During the scheduled pre-trial conference of this case, the public prosecutors of
Leyte, the private prosecutor and the private complainant failed to appear despite
proper notices sent [to] them. A motion for cancellation of hearing was filed by the
authorized private prosecutor, Pedro Felicen, Jr. for reasons stated therein to
which this Court finds to be not meritorious, hence, the same is denied. x x x the
public prosecutor as well as the counsel for the accused were directed to make
their oral comments on the first endorsement of the Hon. Deputy Court
Administrator, regarding the motion to transfer venue of this case to any of the
RTC, at Tacloban City, x x x.

x x x Thereafter, the pre trial proceeded by discussing matters concerning the


amicable settlement, plea bargaining agreement, stipulation of facts, pre-marking
of documentary exhibits, number of witnesses, trial dates and nature of the
defense. There being no other matters to discuss on pre-trial in order to expedite
the early disposition of this case, the pre-trial proper is now deemed terminated.
[11]

The said Order also scheduled the initial hearing for trial on the merits for
December 12, 2008. On December 12, 2008, no one appeared for the
prosecution, prompting counsel for accused private respondent to move for
dismissal of the case on the ground of failure to prosecute. Private respondent's
motion to dismiss was denied per Order[12] dated December 12, 2008, and
hearing was reset to January 16, 2009.

Again, on the very day of the January 16, 2009 hearing, the private prosecutor
filed an Urgent Motion for Cancellation of Hearing, stating that it

was only on January 14, 2009 that he was furnished a copy of the notice of the
January 16, 2009 hearing and he had to attend a previously scheduled hearing
for another case he was handling, set for the very same date. Thus, in the Order
dated January 16, 2009, the RTC disposed, thus:
x x x Again notably absent are the private prosecutor, the two public prosecutors
designated by the Department of Justice to prosecute this case as well as the
private complainant herself.

A last minute urgent motion to reset was filed by the private prosecutor, but the
same is denied being in violation of the three (3) day rule in filing written
postponements. After hearing the arguments coming from both the public
prosecutor assigned to this Court and counsel for the defense, the Court deems
it proper to act on the urgency of the matter prayed for by the said counsel.
Considering that the accused has been languishing in jail since June, 2008 up to
the present and to allow him to stay in jail for a single minute, it is quite
unreasonable and would violate his right to speedy trial.

WHEREFORE, finding the motion of the counsel for the accused to be based on
grounds that are meritorious, this Court pursuant to x x x the rule on speedy trial
(RA 8433) [should be 8493] hereby orders this case dismissed for failure of the
prosecution to prosecute or nolle prosequi.[13]

Petitioners filed a motion for reconsideration, but the RTC denied the same per
Resolution dated March 16, 2009.

Hence, the present petition for certiorari, alleging that public respondent acted
with grave abuse of discretion amounting to lack or excess of jurisdiction in
rashly and precipitately dismissing the rape case against private respondent.
Respondents counter that there was no grave abuse committed by the trial court
and setting aside the dismissal of the rape case would put private respondent in
double jeopardy.

The Court finds the petition bereft of merit.

Firstly, petitioners failed to observe the doctrine on hierarchy of courts. In Garcia


v. Miro,[14] the Court, quoting Vergara, Sr. v. Suelto,[15] ruled thus:
The Supreme Court is a court of last resort, and must so remain if it is to
satisfactorily perform the functions assigned to it by the fundamental charter and
immemorial tradition. It cannot and should not be burdened with the task of
dealing with causes in the first instance. Its original jurisdiction to issue the so-
called extraordinary writs should be exercised only where absolutely necessary
or where serious and important reasons exist therefor. Hence, that jurisdiction
should generally be exercised relative to actions or proceedings before the Court
of Appeals, or before constitutional or other tribunals, bodies or agencies whose
acts for some reason or another are not controllable by the Court of Appeals.
Where the issuance of an extraordinary writ is also within the competence of the
Court of Appeals or a Regional Trial Court, it is in either of these courts that the
specific action for the writ's procurement must be presented. This is, and should
continue, to be the policy in this regard, a policy that courts and lawyers must
strictly observe.[16] (Emphasis supplied.)

On this point alone, the petition is already dismissible. However, on several


occasions, this Court found compelling reasons to relax the rule on observance
on hierarchy of courts. In Pacoy v. Cajigal,[17] the Court opted not to strictly
apply said doctrine, since the issue involved is double jeopardy, considered to be
one of the most fundamental constitutional rights of an accused. Hence, the
Court also finds sufficient reason to relax the rule in this case as it also involves
the issue of double jeopardy, necessitating a look into the merits of the petition.

Petitioners insist that the RTC dismissed the criminal case against private
respondent too hurriedly, despite the provision in Section 10 of the Speedy Trial
Act of 1998 (Republic Act No. 8493), now incorporated in Section 3, Rule 119 of
the Rules of Court, to wit:

SEC. 3. Exclusions. - The following periods of delay shall be excluded in


computing the time within which trial must commence:

(a) Any period of delay resulting from other proceedings concerning the accused,
including but not limited to the following:
xxxx

(5) Delay resulting from orders of inhibition, or proceedings relating to


change of venue of cases or transfer from other courts;

x x x x[18]

A careful reading of the above rule would show that the only delays that may be
excluded from the time limit within which trial must commence are those resulting
from proceedings concerning the accused. The time involved in the proceedings
in a petition for transfer of venue can only be excluded from said time limit if it
was the accused who instituted the same. Hence, in this case, the time during
which the petition for transfer of venue filed by the private complainant is
pending, cannot be excluded from the time limit of thirty (30) days from receipt of
the pre-trial order imposed in Section 1, Rule 119 of the Rules of Court.

The records reveal that the 30-day time limit set by Section 1, Rule 119 of the
Rules of Court had, in fact, already been breached. The private prosecutor
received the Pre-trial Order[19] dated November 24, 2008 on December 3, 2008,
while the Provincial Prosecutor received the same on December 2, 2008.[20]
This means that at the latest, trial should have commenced by January 2, 2009,
or if said date was a Sunday or holiday, then on the very next business day. Yet,
because of the prosecution's failure to appear at the December 12, 2008 hearing
for the initial presentation of the prosecution's evidence, the RTC was
constrained to reset the hearing to January 16, 2009, which is already beyond
the 30-day time limit. Nevertheless, the prosecution again failed to appear at the
January 16, 2009 hearing. Indeed, as aptly observed by the RTC, petitioners
showed recalcitrant behavior by obstinately refusing to comply with the RTC's
directives to commence presentation of their evidence. Petitioners did not even
show proper courtesy to the court, by filing motions for cancellation of the
hearings on the very day of the hearing and not even bothering to appear on the
date they set for hearing on their motion. As set forth in the narration of facts
above, the prosecution appeared to be intentionally delaying and trifling with
court processes.
Petitioners are likewise mistaken in their notion that mere pendency of their
petition for transfer of venue should interrupt proceedings before the trial court.
Such situation is akin to having a pending petition for certiorari with the higher
courts. In People v. Hernandez,[21] the Court held that delay resulting from
extraordinary remedies against interlocutory orders must be read in harmony with
Section 7, Rule 65 of the Rules of Court which provides that the [p]etition [under
Rule 65] shall not interrupt the course of the principal case unless a temporary
restraining order or a writ of preliminary injunction has been issued against the
public respondent from further proceeding in the case.[22] The trial court was
then correct and acting well within its discretion when it refused to grant
petitioners' motions for postponement mainly because of the pendency of their
petition for transfer of venue.

The trial court cannot be faulted for refusing to countenance delays in the
prosecution of the case. The Court's ruling in Tan v. People[23] is quite
instructive, to wit:

An accused's right to "have a speedy, impartial, and public trial" is guaranteed in


criminal cases by Section 14 (2) of Article III of the Constitution. This right to a
speedy trial may be defined as one free from vexatious, capricious and
oppressive delays, its "salutary objective" being to assure that an innocent
person may be free from the anxiety and expense of a court litigation or, if
otherwise, of having his guilt determined within the shortest possible time
compatible with the presentation and consideration of whatsoever legitimate
defense he may interpose. Intimating historical perspective on the evolution of
the right to speedy trial, we reiterate the old legal maxim, "justice delayed is
justice denied." This oft-repeated adage requires the expeditious resolution of
disputes, much more so in criminal cases where an accused is constitutionally
guaranteed the right to a speedy trial.

Following the policies incorporated under the 1987 Constitution, Republic Act No.
8493, otherwise known as "The Speedy Trial Act of 1998," was enacted, with
Section 6 of said act limiting the trial period to 180 days from the first day of trial.
Aware of problems resulting in the clogging of court dockets, the Court
implemented the law by issuing Supreme Court Circular No. 38-98, which has
been incorporated in the 2000 Rules of Criminal Procedure, Section 2 of Rule
119.
In Corpuz v. Sandiganbayan, the Court had occasion to state -

The right of the accused to a speedy trial and to a speedy disposition of the case
against him was designed to prevent the oppression of the citizen by holding
criminal prosecution suspended over him for an indefinite time, and to prevent
delays in the administration of justice by mandating the courts to proceed with
reasonable dispatch in the trial of criminal cases. Such right to a speedy trial and
a speedy disposition of a case is violated only when the proceeding is attended
by vexatious, capricious and oppressive delays. The inquiry as to whether or not
an accused has been denied such right is not susceptible by precise
qualification. The concept of a speedy disposition is a relative term and must
necessarily be a flexible concept.

While justice is administered with dispatch, the essential ingredient is orderly,


expeditious and not mere speed. It cannot be definitely said how long is too long
in a system where justice is supposed to be swift, but deliberate. It is consistent
with delays and depends upon circumstances. It secures rights to the accused,
but it does not preclude the rights of public justice. Also, it must be borne in mind
that the rights given to the accused by the Constitution and the Rules of Court
are shields, not weapons; hence, courts are to give meaning to that intent.

The Court emphasized in the same case that:

A balancing test of applying societal interests and the rights of the accused
necessarily compels the court to approach speedy trial cases on an ad hoc basis.

In determining whether the accused has been deprived of his right to a speedy
disposition of the case and to a speedy trial, four factors must be considered: (a)
length of delay; (b) the reason for the delay; (c) the defendant's assertion of his
right; and (d) prejudice to the defendant. x x x.
Closely related to the length of delay is the reason or justification of the State for
such delay. Different weights

should be assigned to different reasons or justifications invoked by the State. x x


x.

Exhaustively explained in Corpuz v. Sandiganbayan, an accused's right to


speedy trial is deemed violated only when the proceeding is attended by
vexatious, capricious, and oppressive delays. In determining whether petitioner
was deprived of this right, the factors to consider and balance are the following:
(a) duration of the delay; (b) reason therefor; (c) assertion of the right or failure to
assert it; and (d) prejudice caused by such delay.

xxxx

We emphasize that in determining the right of an accused to speedy trial, courts


are required to do more than a mathematical computation of the number of
postponements of the scheduled hearings of the case. A mere mathematical
reckoning of the time involved is clearly insufficient, and particular regard must
be given to the facts and circumstances peculiar to each case.[24]

Here, it must be emphasized that private respondent had already been deprived
of his liberty on two occasions. First, during the preliminary investigation before
the MCTC, when he was incarcerated from November 18, 2004 to March 16,
2005, or a period of almost four months; then again, when an Information had
already been issued and since rape is a non-bailable offense, he was imprisoned
beginning June 27, 2008 until the case was dismissed on January 16, 2009, or a
period of over 6 months. Verily, there can be no cavil that deprivation of liberty for
any duration of time is quite oppressive. Because of private respondent's
continued incarceration, any delay in trying the case would cause him great
prejudice. Thus, it was absolutely vexatious and oppressive to delay the trial in
the subject criminal case to await the outcome of petitioners' petition for transfer
of venue, especially in this case where there is no temporary restraining order or
writ of preliminary injunction issued by a higher court against herein public
respondent from further proceeding in the case.

Hence, the Court does not find any grave abuse of discretion committed by the
trial court in dismissing the case against private respondent for violation of his
constitutional right to speedy trial.

WHEREFORE, the petition is DISMISSED.

Cocofed vs Republic

In 1971, RA 6260 created the Coconut Investment Company (CIC) to administer


the Coconut Investment Fund, a fund to be sourced from levy on the sale of
copra. The copra seller was, or ought to be, issued COCOFUND receipts. The
fund was placed at the disposition of COCOFED, the national association of
coconut producers having the largest membership.

When martial law started in 1972, several presidential decrees were issued to
improve the coconut industry through the collection and use of the coconut levy
fund:

PD 276 established the Coconut Consumers Stabilization Fund (CCSF) and


declared the proceeds of the CCSF levy as trust fund, to be utilized to subsidize
the sale of coconut-based products, thus stabilizing the price of edible oil.

PD 582 created the Coconut Industry Development Fund (CIDF) to finance the
operation of a hybrid coconut seed farm.
In 1973, PD 232 created the Philippine Coconut Authority (PCA) to accelerate the
growth and development of the coconut and palm oil industry.

Then came P.D. No. 755 in July 1975, providing under its Section 1 the policy to
provide readily available credit facilities to the coconut farmers at preferential
rates. Towards achieving this, Section 2 of PD 755 authorized PCA to utilize the
CCSF and the CIDF collections to acquire a commercial bank and deposit the
CCSF levy collections in said bank, interest free, the deposit withdrawable only
when the bank has attained a certain level of sufficiency in its equity capital. It
also decreed that all levies PCA is authorized to collect shall not be considered
as special and/or fiduciary funds or form part of the general funds of the
government.

Both P.D. Nos. 961 and 1468 also provide that the CCSF shall not be construed
by any law as a special and/or trust fund, the stated intention being that actual
ownership of the said fund shall pertain to coconut farmers in their private
capacities.

Shortly before the issuance of PD 755 however, PCA had already bought from
Peping Cojuangco 72.2% of the outstanding capital stock of FUB / UCPB. In that
contract, it was also stipulated that Danding Cojuanco shall receive equity in FUB
amounting to 10%, or 7.22 % of the 72.2%, as consideration for PCAs buy-out of
what Danding Conjuanco claim as his exclusive and personal option to buy the
FUB shares.

The PCA appropriated, out of its own fund, an amount for the purchase of the
said 72.2% equity. It later reimbursed itself from the coconut levy fund.

While the 64.98% (72.2 % 7.22%) portion of the option shares ostensibly
pertained to the farmers, the corresponding stock certificates supposedly
representing the farmers equity were in the name of and delivered to PCA. There
were, however, shares forming part of the 64.98% portion, which ended up in the
hands of non-farmers. The remaining 27.8% of the FUB capital stock were not
covered by any of the agreements.

Through the years, a part of the coconut levy funds went directly or indirectly to
various projects and/or was converted into different assets or investments. Of
particular relevance to this was their use to acquire the FUB / UCPB, and the
acquisition by UCPB, through the CIIF and holding companies, of a large block of
San Miguel Corporation (SMC) shares.

Issue: Whether thr right og the petitioner to be heard


and to speedy trial is violated

No
II

Petitioners COCOFED et al. were not

deprived of their right to be heard.

As a procedural issue, COCOFED, et al. and Ursua next contend that in the
course of almost 20 years that the cases have been with the anti-graft court, they
have repeatedly sought leave to adduce evidence (prior to respondents complete
presentation of evidence) to prove the coco farmers actual and beneficial
ownership of the sequestered shares. The Sandiganbayan, however, had
repeatedly and continuously disallowed such requests, thus depriving them of
their constitutional right to be heard.

This contention is untenable, their demand to adduce evidence being


disallowable on the ground of prematurity.
The records reveal that the Republic, after adducing its evidence in CC No.
0033-A, subsequently filed a Motion Ad Cautelam for Leave to Present Additional
Evidence dated March 28, 2001. This motion remained unresolved at the time
the Republic interposed its Motion for Partial Summary Judgment. The
Sandiganbayan granted the later motion and accordingly rendered the Partial
Summary Judgment, effectively preempting the presentation of evidence by the
defendants in said case (herein petitioners COCOFED and Ursua).

Section 5, Rule 30 the Rules of Court clearly sets out the order of presenting
evidence:

SEC. 5. Order of trial.Subject to the provisions of section 2 of Rule 31, and


unless the court for special reasons otherwise directs, the trial shall be limited to
the issues stated in the pre-trial order and shall proceed as follows:

(a) The plaintiff shall adduce evidence in support of his complaint;

(b) The defendant shall then adduce evidence in support of his defense,
counterclaim, cross-claim and third-party complaint;

(g) Upon admission of the evidence, the case shall be deemed submitted for
decision, unless the court directs the parties to argue or to submit their respective
memoranda or any further pleadings.

If several defendants or third-party defendants, and so forth. having separate


defenses appear by different counsel, the court shall determine the relative order
of presentation of their evidence. (Emphasis supplied.)
Evidently, for the orderly administration of justice, the plaintiff shall first adduce
evidence in support of his complaint and after the formal offer of evidence and
the ruling thereon, then comes the turn of defendant under Section 3 (b) to
adduce evidence in support of his defense, counterclaim, cross-claim and third
party complaint, if any. Deviation from such order of trial is purely discretionary
upon the trial court, in this case, the Sandiganbayan, which cannot be questioned
by the parties unless the vitiating element of grave abuse of discretion
supervenes. Thus, the right of COCOFED to present evidence on the main case
had not yet ripened. And the rendition of the partial summary judgments overtook
their right to present evidence on their defenses.

It cannot be stressed enough that the Republic as well as herein petitioners were
well within their rights to move, as they in fact separately did, for a partial
summary judgment. Summary judgment may be allowed where, save for the
amount of damages, there is, as shown by affidavits and like evidentiary
documents, no genuine issue as to any material fact and the moving party is
entitled to a judgment as a matter of law. A genuine issue, as distinguished from
one that is fictitious, contrived and set up in bad faith, means an issue of fact that
calls for the presentation of evidence.[90] Summary or accelerated judgment,
therefore, is a procedural technique aimed at weeding out sham claims or
defenses at an early stage of the litigation.[91] Sections 1, 2 and 4 of Rule 35 of
the Rules of Court on Summary Judgment, respectively provide:

SECTION 1. Summary judgment for claimant.A party seeking to recover upon a


claim, counterclaim, or cross-claim may, at any time after the pleading in answer
thereto has been served, move with supporting affidavits, depositions or
admissions for a summary judgment in his favor upon all or any part thereof.

SEC. 2. Summary judgment for defending party.A party against whom a claim,
counterclaim or cross-claim is asserted is sought may, at any time, move with
supporting affidavits, depositions or admissions for a summary judgment in his
favor as to all or any part thereof.

SEC. 4. Case not fully adjudicated on motion.If on motion under this Rule,
judgment is not rendered upon the whole case or for all the reliefs sought and a
trial is necessary, the court at the hearing of the motion, by examining the
pleadings and the evidence before it and by interrogating counsel shall ascertain
what material facts exist without substantial controversy and what are actually
and in good faith controverted. It shall thereupon make an order specifying the
facts that appear without substantial controversy, including the extent to which
the amount of damages or other relief is not in controversy, and directing such
further proceedings in the action as are just. The facts so specified shall be
deemed established, and the trial shall be conducted on the controverted facts
accordingly.

Clearly, petitioner COCOFEDs right to be heard had not been violated by the
mere issuance of PSJ-A and PSJ-F before they can adduce their evidence.

As it were, petitioners COCOFED et al. were able to present documentary


evidence in conjunction with its Class Action Omnibus Motion dated February 23,
2001 where they appended around four hundred (400) documents including
affidavits of alleged farmers. These petitioners manifested that said documents
comprise their evidence to prove the farmers ownership of the UCPB shares,
which were distributed in accordance with valid and existing laws.[92]

Lastly, COCOFED et al. even filed their own Motion for Separate Summary
Judgment, an event reflective of their admission that there are no more factual
issues left to be determined at the level of the Sandiganbayan. This act of filing a
motion for summary judgment is a judicial admission against COCOFED under
Section 26, Rule 130 which declares that the act, declaration or omission of a
party as to a relevant fact may be given in evidence against him.

Viewed in this light, the Court has to reject petitioners self-serving allegations
about being deprived the right to adduce evidence.

III
The right to speedy trial was not violated.

This brings to the fore the alleged violation of petitioners right to a speedy trial
and speedy disposition of the case. In support of their contention, petitioners cite
Licaros v. Sandiganbayan,[93] where the Court dismissed the case pending
before the Sandiganbayan for violation of the accuseds right to a speedy trial.

It must be clarified right off that the right to a speedy disposition of case and the
accuseds right to a speedy trial are distinct, albeit kindred, guarantees, the most
obvious difference being that a speedy disposition of cases, as provided in Article
III, Section 16 of the Constitution, obtains regardless of the nature of the case:

Section 16. All persons shall have the right to a speedy disposition of their cases
before all judicial, quasi-judicial, or administrative bodies.

In fine, the right to a speedy trial is available only to an accused and is a


peculiarly criminal law concept, while the broader right to a speedy disposition of
cases may be tapped in any proceedings conducted by state agencies. Thus, in
Licaros the Court dismissed the criminal case against the accused due to the
palpable transgression of his right to a speedy trial.

In the instant case, the appropriate right involved is the right to a speedy
disposition of cases, the recovery of ill-gotten wealth being a civil suit.

Nonetheless, the Court has had the occasion to dismiss several cases owing to
the infringement of a partys right to a speedy disposition of cases.[94] Dismissal
of the case for violation of this right is the general rule. Bernat v. The Honorable
Sandiganbayan (5th Division)[95] expounds on the extent of the right to a speedy
disposition of cases as follows:

Section 16 of Article III of the Constitution guarantees the right of all persons to a
speedy disposition of their cases. Nevertheless, this right is deemed violated only
when the proceedings are attended by vexatious, capricious and oppressive
delays. Moreover, the determination of whether the delays are of said nature is
relative and cannot be based on a mere mathematical reckoning of time.
Particular regard must be taken of the facts and circumstances peculiar to each
case. As a guideline, the Court in Dela Pea v. Sandiganbayan mentioned certain
factors that should be considered and balanced, namely: 1) length of delay; 2)
reasons for the delay; 3) assertion or failure to assert such right by the accused;
and 4) prejudice caused by the delay.

While this Court recognizes the right to speedy disposition quite distinctly from
the right to a speedy trial, and although this Court has always zealously
espoused protection from oppressive and vexatious delays not attributable to the
party involved, at the same time, we hold that a partys individual rights should not
work against and preclude the peoples equally important right to public justice. In
the instant case, three people died as a result of the crash of the airplane that the
accused was flying. It appears to us that the delay in the disposition of the case
prejudiced not just the accused but the people as well. Since the accused has
completely failed to assert his right seasonably and inasmuch as the respondent
judge was not in a position to dispose of the case on the merits we hold it proper
and equitable to give the parties fair opportunity to obtain substantial justice in
the premises.

The more recent case of Tello v. People[96] laid stress to the restrictive
dimension to the right to speedy disposition of cases, i.e., it is lost unless
seasonably invoked:

In Bernat , the Court denied petitioners claim of denial of his right to a speedy
disposition of cases considering that [he] chose to remain silent for eight years
before complaining of the delay in the disposition of his case. The Court ruled
that petitioner failed to seasonably assert his right and he merely sat and waited
from the time his case was submitted for resolution. In this case, petitioner
similarly failed to assert his right to a speedy disposition of his case. He only
invoked his right to a speedy disposition of cases after [his conviction].
Petitioners silence may be considered as a waiver of his right.
An examination of the petitioners arguments and the cited indicia of delay would
reveal the absence of any allegation that petitioners moved before the
Sandiganbayan for the dismissal of the case on account of vexatious, capricious
and oppressive delays that attended the proceedings. Following Tello, petitioners
are deemed to have waived their right to a speedy disposition of the case.
Moreover, delays, if any, prejudiced the Republic as well. What is more, the
alleged breach of the right in question was not raised below. As a matter of
settled jurisprudence, but subject to equally settled exception, an issue not raised
before the trial court cannot be raised for the first time on appeal.[97] The
sporting idea forbidding one from pulling surprises underpins this rule. For these
reasons, the instant case cannot be dismissed for the alleged violation of
petitioners right to a speedy disposition of the case.

Villareal vs People
FACTS:

In February 1991, seven freshmen law students of the Ateneo de Manila


University School of Law signified their intention to join the Aquila Legis Juris
Fraternity (Aquila Fraternity).

The neophytes, including victim, Lenny Villa, were subjected to initiation rites.
After the second day of initiation rites has ended, accused non-resident or alumni
fraternity members Fidelito Dizon (Dizon) and Artemio Villareal (Villareal)
demanded that the rites be reopened. The head of initiation rites, Nelson
Victorino (Victorino), initially refused. Upon the insistence of Dizon and Villareal,
however, he reopened the initiation rites. The fraternity members, including Dizon
and Villareal, then subjected the neophytes to "paddling" and to additional rounds
of physical pain. Lenny received several paddle blows, one of which was so
strong it sent him sprawling to the ground. The neophytes heard him complaining
of intense pain and difficulty in breathing. After their last session of physical
beatings, Lenny could no longer walk. He had to be carried by the auxiliaries to
the carport. Again, the initiation for the day was officially ended, and the
neophytes started eating dinner. They then slept at the carport.
After an hour of sleep, the neophytes were suddenly roused by Lennys shivering
and incoherent mumblings. Initially, Villareal and Dizon dismissed these
rumblings, as they thought he was just overacting. When they realized, though,
that Lenny was really feeling cold, some of the Aquilans started helping him.
They removed his clothes and helped him through a sleeping bag to keep him
warm. When his condition worsened, the Aquilans rushed him to the hospital.
Lenny was pronounced dead on arrival.

Consequently, a criminal case for homicide was filed against 35 Aquilans.

G.R. No. 151258 Villareal v. People

The instant case refers to accused Villareals Petition for Review on Certiorari
under Rule 45. The Petition raises two reversible errors allegedly committed by
the CA in its Decision dated 10 January 2002 in CA-G.R. No. 15520 first, denial
of due process; and, second, conviction absent proof beyond reasonable doubt.
While the Petition was pending before this Court, counsel for petitioner Villareal
filed a Notice of Death of Party on 10 August 2011. According to the Notice,
petitioner Villareal died on 13 March 2011. Counsel thus asserts that the subject
matter of the Petition previously filed by petitioner does not survive the death of
the accused.

G.R. No. 155101 Dizon v. People

Petitioner Dizon sets forth two main issues first, that he was denied due process
when the CA sustained the trial courts forfeiture of his right to present evidence;
and, second, that he was deprived of due process when the CA did not apply to
him the same "ratio decidendi that served as basis of acquittal of the other
accused.

G.R. No. 154954 People v. Court of Appeals


This Petition for Certiorari under Rule 65 seeks the reversal of the CAs Decision,
insofar as it acquitted 19 (Victorino et al.) and convicted 4 (Tecson et al.) of the
accused Aquilans of the lesser crime of slight physical injuries. According to the
Solicitor General, the CA erred in holding that there could have been no
conspiracy to commit hazing, as hazing or fraternity initiation had not yet been
criminalized at the time Lenny died.

In the alternative, petitioner claims that the ruling of the trial court should have
been upheld, inasmuch as it found that there was conspiracy to inflict physical
injuries on Lenny. Since the injuries led to the victims death, petitioner posits that
the accused Aquilans are criminally liable for the resulting crime of homicide,
pursuant to Article 4 of the Revised Penal Code.

G.R. Nos. 178057 and 178080 Villa v. Escalona

Petitioner Villa assails the CAs dismissal of the criminal case involving 4 of the 9
accused, namely, Escalona, Ramos, Saruca, and Adriano. She argues that the
accused failed to assert their right to speedy trial within a reasonable period of
time. She also points out that the prosecution cannot be faulted for the delay, as
the original records and the required evidence were not at its disposal, but were
still in the appellate court.

ISSUES:

G.R. No. 151258 Villareal v. People: whether or not the death of Villareal
extinguished his criminal liability

G.R. No. 155101 Dizon v. People: whether or not DIzon was deprived of due
process
G.R. No. 154954 People v. Court of Appeals: whether or not the CA erred in
convicting accused of the lesser offense of slight physical injuries instead of
homicide

G.R. Nos. 178057 and 178080 (Villa v. Escalona): whether or not the CA erred in
dismissing the case for violation of the accuseds right to speedy trial

HELD:

G.R. No. 151258 Villareal v. People

Criminal Law- how criminal liability is extinguished

In a Notice dated 26 September 2011 and while the Petition was pending
resolution, this Court took note of counsel for petitioners Notice of Death of Party.

According to Article 89(1) of the Revised Penal Code, criminal liability for
personal penalties is totally extinguished by the death of the convict. In contrast,
criminal liability for pecuniary penalties is extinguished if the offender dies prior to
final judgment. The term "personal penalties" refers to the service of personal or
imprisonment penalties, while the term "pecuniarypenalties" (las pecuniarias)
refers to fines and costs, including civil liability predicated on the criminal offense
complained of (i.e., civil liability ex delicto). However, civil liability based on a
source of obligation other than the delict survives the death of the accused and is
recoverable through a separate civil action.

Thus, we hold that the death of petitioner Villareal extinguished his criminal
liability for both personal and pecuniary penalties, including his civil liability
directly arising from the delict complained of. Consequently, his Petition is hereby
dismissed, and the criminal case against him deemed closed and terminated.
G.R. No. 155101 (Dizon v. People)

Political Law- The right of the accused to present evidence is guaranteed by no


less than the Constitution itself.

Article III, Section 14(2) thereof, provides that "in all criminal prosecutions, the
accused shall enjoy the right to be heard by himself and counsel" This
constitutional right includes the right to present evidence in ones defense, as well
as the right to be present and defend oneself in person at every stage of the
proceedings.

The trial court should not have deemed the failure of petitioner to present
evidence on 25 August 1993 as a waiver of his right to present evidence. On the
contrary, it should have considered the excuse of counsel justified, especially
since counsel for another accused General had made a last-minute adoption of
testimonial evidence that freed up the succeeding trial dates; and since Dizon
was not scheduled to testify until two weeks later. At any rate, the trial court pre-
assigned five hearing dates for the reception of evidence. If it really wanted to
impose its Order strictly, the most it could have done was to forfeit one out of the
five days set for Dizons testimonial evidence. Stripping the accused of all his pre-
assigned trial dates constitutes a patent denial of the constitutionally guaranteed
right to due process.

In criminal cases where the imposable penalty may be death, as in the present
case, the court is called upon to see to it that the accused is personally made
aware of the consequences of a waiver of the right to present evidence. In fact, it
is not enough that the accused is simply warned of the consequences of another
failure to attend the succeeding hearings. The court must first explain to the
accused personally in clear terms the exact nature and consequences of a
waiver.

G.R. Nos. 178057 and 178080 (Villa v. Escalona)


Political Law- right to speedy trial is violated when the proceeding is attended
with unjustified postponements of trial, or when a long period of time is allowed to
elapse without the case being tried and for no cause or justifiable motive.

We do not see grave abuse of discretion in the CAs dismissal of the case against
accused Escalona, Ramos, Saruca, and Adriano on the basis of the violation of
their right to speedy trial.

While we are prepared to concede that some of the foregoing factors that
contributed to the delay of the trial of the petitioners are justifiable, We
nonetheless hold that their right to speedy trial has been utterly violated in this
case.

The absence of the records in the trial court [was] due to the fact that the records
of the case were elevated to the Court of Appeals, and the prosecutions failure to
comply with the order of the court a quo requiring it to secure certified true copies
of the same. What is glaring from the records is the fact that as early as
September 21, 1995, the court a quo already issued an Order requiring the
prosecution, through the Department of Justice, to secure the complete records
of the case from the Court of Appeals. The prosecution did not comply with the
said Order as in fact, the same directive was repeated by the court a quo in an
Order dated December 27, 1995. Still, there was no compliance on the part of
the prosecution. It is not stated when such order was complied with. It appears,
however, that even until August 5, 2002, the said records were still not at the
disposal of the trial court because the lack of it was made the basis of the said
court in granting the motion to dismiss filed by co-accused Concepcion.

It is likewise noticeable that from December 27, 1995, until August 5, 2002, or for
a period of almost seven years, there was no action at all on the part of the court
a quo. Except for the pleadings filed by both the prosecution and the petitioners,
the latest of which was on January 29, 1996, followed by petitioner Sarucas
motion to set case for trial on August 17, 1998 which the court did not act upon,
the case remained dormant for a considerable length of time. This prolonged
inactivity whatsoever is precisely the kind of delay that the constitution frowns
upon.
From the foregoing principles, we affirm the ruling of the CA in CA-G.R. SP No.
89060 that accused Escalona et al.s right to speedy trial was violated. Since
there is nothing in the records that would show that the subject of this Petition
includes accused Ampil, S. Fernandez, Cabangon, and De Vera, the effects of
this ruling shall be limited to accused Escalona, Ramos, Saruca, and Adriano.

G.R. No. 154954 (People v. Court of Appeals)

Political Law- No person shall be twice put in jeopardy of punishment for the
same offense. If an act is punished by a law and an ordinance, conviction or
acquittal under either shall constitute a bar to another prosecution for the same
act.

The rule on double jeopardy thus prohibits the state from appealing the judgment
in order to reverse the acquittal or to increase the penalty imposed either through
a regular appeal under Rule 41 of the Rules of Court or through an appeal by
certiorari on pure questions of law under Rule 45 of the same Rules.

As we have reiterated in People v. Court of Appeals and Galicia, a verdict of


acquittal is immediately final and a reexamination of the merits of such acquittal,
even in the appellate courts, will put the accused in jeopardy for the same
offense.

This prohibition, however, is not absolute. The state may challenge the lower
courts acquittal of the accused or the imposition of a lower penalty on the latter in
the following recognized exceptions: (1) where the prosecution is deprived of a
fair opportunity to prosecute and prove its case, tantamount to a deprivation of
due process; (2) where there is a finding of mistrial; or (3) where there has been
a grave abuse of discretion.

The third instance refers to this Courts judicial power under Rule 65 to determine
whether or not there has been a grave abuse of discretion amounting to lack or
excess of jurisdiction on the part of any branch or instrumentality of the
government.

Indeed, we have ruled in a line of cases that the rule on double jeopardy similarly
applies when the state seeks the imposition of a higher penalty against the
accused. We have also recognized, however, that certiorari may be used to
correct an abusive judgment upon a clear demonstration that the lower court
blatantly abused its authority to a point so grave as to deprive it of its very power
to dispense justice. The present case is one of those instances of grave abuse of
discretion.

The appellate court relied on our ruling in People v. Penesa in finding that the
four accused should be held guilty only of slight physical injuries. According to
the CA, because of "the death of the victim, there can be no precise means to
determine the duration of the incapacity or medical attendance required. The
reliance on Penesa was utterly misplaced.

On the contrary, the CAs ultimate conclusion that Tecson, Ama, Almeda, and
Bantug were liable merely for slight physical injuries grossly contradicts its own
findings of fact. According to the court, the four accused "were found to have
inflicted more than the usual punishment undertaken during such initiation rites
on the person of Villa. It then adopted the NBI medico-legal officers findings that
the antecedent cause of Lenny Villas death was the "multiple traumatic injuries"
he suffered from the initiation rites. Considering that the CA found that the
"physical punishment heaped on Lenny Villa was serious in nature, it was
patently erroneous for the court to limit the criminal liability to slight physical
injuries, which is a light felony.

Article 4(1) of the Revised Penal Code dictates that the perpetrator shall be liable
for the consequences of an act, even if its result is different from that intended.
Thus, once a person is found to have committed an initial felonious act, such as
the unlawful infliction of physical injuries that results in the death of the victim,
courts are required to automatically apply the legal framework governing the
destruction of life. This rule is mandatory, and not subject to discretion.
Attributing criminal liability solely to Villareal and Dizon as if only their acts, in and
of themselves, caused the death of Lenny Villa is contrary to the CAs own
findings. From proof that the death of the victim was the cumulative effect of the
multiple injuries he suffered, the only logical conclusion is that criminal
responsibility should redound to all those who have been proven to have directly
participated in the infliction of physical injuries on Lenny. The accumulation of
bruising on his body caused him to suffer cardiac arrest. Accordingly, we find that
the CA committed grave abuse of discretion amounting to lack or excess of
jurisdiction in finding Tecson, Ama, Almeda, and Bantug criminally liable for slight
physical injuries. As an allowable exception to the rule on double jeopardy, we
therefore give due course to the Petition.

HON. GREGORIO. N. GARCIA, Judge of the City Court of Manila

vs.

HON. FELIX DOMINGO, Judge of the Court of First Instance of Manila

In Branch I the City Court of Manila presided over by petitioner Judge, there were
commenced, by appropriate informations eight (8) criminal actions against
respondent Edgardo Calo, and Simeon Carbonnel and Petitioner Francisco
Lorenzana.

The accused wanted for the speedy trial so they requested to held the trial even
on Saturday on the chamber of Judge Gamboa. The petitioner granted the
request.(as police officers under suspension because of the cases, desired the
same to be terminated as soon as possible and as there were many cases
scheduled for trial on the usual criminal trial days (Monday, Wednesday and
Friday). On appeal the prosecution said that there was no trial, therefore the
petioner judge order should be reversed.
Issue:

Whether or not the judge denied the accused of public trial.

Held:

Yes. Public trial possesses that character when anyone interested in observing
the manner a judge conducts the proceedings in his courtroom may do so. There
is to be no ban on such attendance. His being a stranger to the litigants is of no
moment. No relationship to the parties need be shown. There is the well-
recognized exception though that warrants the exclusion of the public where the
evidence may be characterized as "offensive to decency or public morals."

21

WHEREFORE, the writ of

certiorari

prayed for is granted .

Similar

A.M. No. 01-4-03-SC September 13, 2001

RE: REQUEST FOR LIVE RADIO-TV COVERAGE OF THE


TRIAL IN THE SANDIGANBAYAN OF THE PLUNDER
CASES AGAINST FORMER PRESIDENT JOSEPH E.
ESTRADA

SECRETARY OF JUSTICE HERNANDO PEREZ, KAPISANAN NG MGA


BRODKASTER NG PILIPINAS, CESAR SARINO, RENATO CAYETANO, and
ATTY. RICARDO ROMULO, petitioners,
vs.

JOSEPH E. ESTRADA and INTEGRATED BAR OF THE


PHILIPPINES,oppositors.

RESOLUTION

MENDOZA, J.:

This is a motion for reconsideration of the decision denying petitioners' request


for permission to televise and broadcast live the trial of former President Estrada
before the Sandiganbayan. The motion was filed by the Secretary of Justice, as
one of the petitioners, who argues that there is really no conflict between the right
of the people to public information and the freedom of the press, on the one
hand, and, on the other, the right of the accused to a fair trial; that if there is a
clash between these rights, it must be resolved in favor of the right of the people
and the press because the people, as the repository of sovereignty, are entitled
to information; and that live media coverage is a safeguard against attempts by
any party to use the courts as instruments for the pursuit of selfish interests.

On the other hand, former President Joseph E. Estrada reiterates his objection to
the live TV and radio coverage of his trial on the ground that its allowance will
violate the sub judice rule and that, based on his experience with the
impeachment trial, live media coverage will only pave the way for so-called
"expert commentary" which can trigger massive demonstrations aimed at
pressuring the Sandiganbayan to render a decision one way or the other. Mr.
Estrada contends that the right of the people to information may be served
through other means less distracting, degrading, and prejudicial than live TV and
radio coverage.1wphi1.nt

The Court has considered the arguments of the parties on this important issue
and, after due deliberation, finds no reason to alter or in any way modify its
decision prohibiting live or real time broadcast by radio or television of the trial of
the former president. By a vote of nine (9) to six (6) of its members,1 the Court
denies the motion for reconsideration of the Secretary of Justice.
In lieu of live TV and radio coverage of the trial, the Court, by the vote of eight (8)
Justices,2 has resolved to order the audio-visual recording of the trial.

What follows is the opinion of the majority.lawphil.net

Considering the significance of the trial before the Sandiganbayan of former


President Estrada and the importance of preserving the records thereof, the
Court believes that there should be an audio-visual recording of the proceedings.
The recordings will not be for live or real time broadcast but for documentary
purposes. Only later will they be available for public showing, after the
Sandiganbayan shall have promulgated its decision in every case to which the
recording pertains. The master film shall be deposited in the National Museum
and the Records Management and Archives Office for historical preservation and
exhibition pursuant to law.4

For the purpose of recording the proceedings, cameras will be inconspicuously


installed in the courtroom and the movement of TV crews will be regulated,
consistent with the dignity and solemnity of the proceedings. The trial shall be
recorded in its entirety, except such portions thereof as the Sandiganbayan may
decide should not be held public pursuant to Rule 119, 21 of the Revised Rules
of Criminal Procedure. No comment shall be included in the documentary except
annotations which may be necessary to explain certain scenes which are
depicted. The audio-visual recordings shall be made under the supervision and
control of the Sandiganbayan or its Division as the case may be.

There are several reasons for such televised recording.1awphil.net First, the
hearings are of historic significance. They are an affirmation of our commitment
to the rule that "the King is under no man, but he is under God and the law."
(Quod Rex non debet esse sub homine, sed sub Deo et Lege.) Second, the
Estrada cases involve matters of vital concern to our people who have a
fundamental right to know how their government is conducted. This right can be
enhanced by audio visual presentation. Third, audio-visual presentation is
essential for the education and civic training of the people.
Above all, there is the need to keep audio-visual records of the hearings for
documentary purposes. The recordings will be useful in preserving the essence
of the proceedings in a way that the cold print cannot quite do because it cannot
capture the sights and sounds of events. They will be primarily for the use of
appellate courts in the event a review of the proceedings, rulings, or decisions of
the Sandiganbayan is sought or becomes necessary. The accuracy of the
transcripts of stenographic notes taken during the trial can be checked by
reference to the tapes.

On the other hand, by delaying the release of the tapes for broadcast, concerns
that those taking part in the proceedings will be playing to the cameras and will
thus be distracted from the proper performance of their roles -- whether as
counsel, witnesses, court personnel, or judges -- will be allayed. The possibility
that parallel trials before the bar of justice and the bar of public opinion may
jeopardize, or even prevent, the just determination of the cases can be
minimized. The possibility that judgment will be rendered by the popular tribunal
before the court of justice can render its own will be avoided.

At the same time, concerns about the regularity and fairness of the trial -- which,
it may be assumed, is the concern of those opposed to, as much as of those in
favor of, televised trials - will be addressed since the tapes will not be released
for public showing until after the decision of the cases by the Sandiganbayan. By
delaying the release of the tapes, much of the problem posed by real time TV
and radio broadcast will be avoided.

Thus, many important purposes for preserving the record of the trial can be
served by audio-visual recordings without impairing the right of the accused to a
fair trial.

Nor is the right of privacy of the accused a bar to the production of such
documentary. In Ayer Productions Pty. Ltd. V. Capulong,5 this Court set aside a
lower court's injunction restraining the filming of "Four Day Revolution," a
documentary film depicting, among other things, the role of then Minister of
National Defense Juan Ponce Enrile in the 1986 EDSA people power. This Court
held: "A limited intrusion into a person's privacy has long been regarded as
permissible where that person is a public figure and the information sought to be
elicited from him or to be published about him constitute matters of a public
character."6

No one can prevent the making of a movie based on the trial. But, at least, if a
documentary record is made of the proceedings, any movie that may later be
produced can be checked for its accuracy against such documentary and any
attempt to distort the truth can thus be averted.

Indeed, a somewhat similar proposal for documentary recording of celebrated


cases or causes clbres was made was made way back in 1971 by Paul
Freund of the Harvard Law School. As he explained:

In fairness let me refer to an American experience many of my lay friends found


similarly moving. An educational television network filmed a trial in Denver of a
Black Panther leader on charges of resisting arrest, and broadcast the document
in full, in four installments, several months after the case was concluded --
concluded incidentally, with a verdict of acquittal.

No one could witness the trial without a feeling of profound respect for the
painstaking way in which the truth was searched for, for the ways whereby law
copes with uncertainties and ambiguities through presumptions and burden of
proof, and the sense of gravity with which judge and jury carried out their
responsibilities.

I agree in general with the exclusion of television from the courtroom, for the
familiar good reasons. And yet the use of television at a trial for documentary
purposes, not for the broadcast of live news, and with the safeguards of
completeness and consent, is an educational experiment that I would be
prepared to welcome. Properly safeguarded and with suitable commentary, the
depiction of an actual trial is an agency of enlightenment that could have few
equals in its impact on the public understanding.
Understanding of our legal process, so rarely provided by our educational
system, is now a desperate need.7

Professor Freund's observation is as valid today as when it was made thirty


years ago. It is perceptive for its recognition of the serious risks posed to the fair
administration of justice by live TV and radio broadcasts, especially when
emotions are running high on the issues stirred by a case, while at the same time
acknowledging the necessity of keeping audio-visual recordings of the
proceedings of celebrated cases, for public information and exhibition, after
passions have subsided.

WHEREFORE, an audio-visual recording of the trial of former President Estrada


before the Sandiganbayan is hereby ordered to be made, for the account of the
Sandiganbayan, under the following conditions: (a) the trial shall be recorded in
its entirety, excepting such portions thereof as the Sandiganbayan may
determine should not be held public under Rule 119, 21 of the Rules of Criminal
Procedure; (b) cameras shall be installed inconspicuously inside the courtroom
and the movement of TV crews shall be regulated consistent with the dignity and
solemnity of the proceedings; (c) the audio-visual recordings shall be made for
documentary purposes only and shall be made without comment except such
annotations of scenes depicted therein as may be necessary to explain them; (d)
the live broadcast of the recordings before the Sandiganbayan shall have
rendered its decision in all the cases against the former President shall be
prohibited under pain of contempt of court and other sanctions in case of
violations of the prohibition; (e) to ensure that the conditions are observed, the
audio-visual recording of the proceedings shall be made under the supervision
and control of the Sandiganbayan or its Division concerned and shall be made
pursuant to rules promulgated by it; and (f) simultaneously with the release of the
audio-visual recordings for public broadcast, the original thereof shall be
deposited in the National Museum and the Records Management and Archives
Office for preservation and exhibition in accordance with law.

SO ORDERED.

Olaguer vs MC
n 1979, Olaguer and some others were detained by military personnel and they
were placed in Camp Bagong Diwa. Logauer and his group are all civilians. They
were charged with (1) unlawful possession of explosives and incendiary devices;
(2) conspiracy to assassinate President and Mrs. Marcos; (3) conspiracy to
assassinate cabinet members Juan Ponce Enrile, Francisco Tatad and Vicente
Paterno; (4) conspiracy to assassinate Messrs. Arturo Tangco, Jose Roo and
Onofre Corpus; (5) arson of nine buildings; (6) attempted murder of Messrs.
Leonardo Perez, Teodoro Valencia and Generals Romeo Espino and Fabian Ver;
and (7) conspiracy and proposal to commit rebellion, and inciting to rebellion. On
August 19, 1980, the petitioners went to the SC and filed the instant Petition for
prohibition and habeas corpus.

ISSUE: Whether or not the petition for habeas corpus be granted.

HELD: The petition for habeas corpus has become moot and academic because
by the time the case reached the SC Olaguer and his companions were already
released from military confinement. When the release of the persons in whose
behalf the application for a writ of habeas corpus was filed is effected, the
Petition for the issuance of the writ becomes moot and academic. 18 Inasmuch
as the herein petitioners have been released from their confinement in military
detention centers, the instant Petitions for the issuance of a writ of habeas
corpus should be dismissed for having become moot and academic. But the
military court created to try the case of Olaguer (and the decision it rendered) still
continues to subsist.

ISSUE2: The issue is then shifted to: Whether or not a military tribunal has the
jurisdiction to try civilians while the civil courts are open and functioning.

HELD: The SC nullified for lack of jurisdiction all decisions rendered by the
military courts or tribunals during the period of martial law in all cases involving
civilian defendants. A military commission or tribunal cannot try and exercise
jurisdiction, even during the period of martial law, over civilians for offenses
allegedly committed by them as long as the civil courts are open and functioning,
and that any judgment rendered by such body relating to a civilian is null and
void for lack of jurisdiction on the part of the military tribunal concerned.

Cruz vs Enrile

Habeas corpus proceedings were commenced in this Court on October 1, 1986 1


to test the legality of the continued detention of some 217 so-called "political
detainees 2 arrested in the nine-year span of official martial rule and committed
to the New Bilibid Prisons in Muntinlupa. All had been made to stand trial for
common crimes 3 before various courts martial; 4 if any of these offenses had
any political color, this had neither been pleaded nor proved.

Of the 217 prisoners, 157 are civilians, and only 26 confirmed as military
personnel. 5 One hundred and fifteen (115) accused had been condemned to
die. Forty-six (46) were sentenced to life imprisonment. To nine (9) others were
meted prison terms of from twenty to thirty years; to forty-one (41), prison terms
of ten to twenty years; and to three (3), less than ten years.

The present status of their cases are disparate, as might be expected. As of the
date of filing of the petitions in this Court, the sentences of sixty-eight (68) had
become final upon their approval by the Office of the President, 6 seventy-five
(75) cases were pending review in either that Office or before the Board of
Military Review, while the appeal or review of the remaining seventy-three (73)
cases either had been expressly suspended pending the outcome of these
petitions, or are simply not dealt with in the records.

Presidential amnesty was granted to petitioner Virgilio Alejandrino, 7 yet to this


date he remains a prisoner at the Penitentiary, as do Domingo Reyes, Antonio
Pumar, Teodoro Patano, Andres Parado and Daniel Campus, although they were
acquitted of the charges against them, 8 and Reynaldo C. Reyes and Rosalino
de los Santos, who appear to have fully served the sentences imposed on them
by the military commissions which convicted them. 9
The petitioners urge the Court to declare unconstitutional the establishment of all
military tribunals as well as General Order No. 8 ordaining their creation, and the
nullity of all the proceedings had against them before these bodies as a result of
which they had been illegally deprived of their liberty. Their plea is for the grant of
a retrial of their respective cases in the civil courts, where their right to due
process may be accorded respect. 10 The writ of habeas corpus issued on July
31, 1987, two weeks after an amended petition 11 was filed with leave of court,
reiterating the arguments originally pleaded, and setting forth the additional claim
that the pronouncement of this Court of the lack of jurisdiction of military tribunals
to try cases of civilians even during martial rule, as declared in Olaquer, et al. vs.
Military Commission No. 34, et al., 12 entitled the petitioners to be
unconditionally freed from detention.

The Solicitor General's return of the writ in behalf of the public respondents
stated that the latter "offer no objection or opposition to the release from
detention of petitioners-civilians ... (which) may be immediately effected, unless
there are other legal causes that may warrant their detention ... (while) the other
petitioners who are military personnel x x should not be released. 13 This return
was shortly amended however 14 to urge that this Court take a "second look"
and undertake a "thorough re-examination of the Olaquer decision," suggesting
the inapplicability of the ruling to "cases involving civilians charged with, and
convicted of common crimes and ... cases where the detained accused have, in
effect, fully served the sentence by their continued detention for the duration of
the penalty imposed." Also suggested was the giving of "limited retroactive" to the
decision, considering the consequences "of voiding earlier convictions, ... (such
as) The grant of immunity from prosecution as a result of prescription or of the
Statute of (L)imitations having run, witnesses having been scattered and no
longer available, ... memories hav(ing) also been taxed beyond permissible
limits, ... and (the annulment) of acquittal decisions, ... to the great prejudice of
the rights of the accused. 15

In Olaquer, this Court in no uncertain terms affed that

... a military jurisdiction or tribunal cannot try and exercise jurisdiction, even
during the period of martial law, over civilians for offenses allegedly committed by
them as long as the civil courts are open and functioning, and that any judgment
rendered by such body relating to a civilian is null and void for lack of jurisdiction
on the part of the military tribunal concerned (People v. Navarro, 63 SCRA 264,
274 [1975]). For the same reasons, Our pronouncement in Aquino, Jr. v. Military
Commission No. 2 (L-37364,63 SCRA 546) and all decided cases affirming the
same, in so far as they are inconsistent with this pronouncement, should be
deemed abandoned. 16

Such is the statement of the doctrine squarely applicable in these cases.

1. Clearly, no right to relief under Olaquer exists in favor of the 26 petitioners


who were admittedly in the military service. 17 Over them the courts martial
yardly exercised jurisdiction. It need only be said that these tribunals were
created precisely to try and decide cases of military personnel, and the validity of
General Order No. 8 ordaining their creation, although repeatedly challenged on
constitutional grounds, has as many times been upheld by the Court, either
expressly or impliedly. 18 As to these petitioners, the writ is thus unavailing.

2. Deference to the Olaquer decision impels on the other hand the


application thereof to all civilians, without distinction, who were haled before
military tribunals. To be sure, due consideration was given to the submittal that
the doctrine is, or should be declared as, limited in aplicability to "political of
fenders," and not "ordinary crimes" such as those of which the civilian petitioners
were convicted. 18a But distinction should not be set where none were clearly
intended. The issue in Olaquer, as here, is the jurisdiction of courts martial over
the persons of civilians, and not merely over the crimes imputed to them,
regardless of which they are entitled to trial by judicial, not executive or military
process. Conformably with this holding, the disposition of these cases would
necessarily have, as a premise, the invalidity of any and all proceedings had
before courts martial against the civilian petitioners. There is all the more reason
to strike down the proceedings leading to the conviction of these non-political
detainees who should have been brought before the courts of justice in the first
place, as their offenses are totally unrelated to the insurgency avowedly sought
to be controlled by martial rule.
Due regard for consistency likewise dictates rejection of the proposal to merely
give "prospective effect" to Olaquer. No distinction should be made, as the public
respondents propose, between cases still being tried and those finally decided or
already under review. All cases must be treated alike, regardless of the stage
they happen to be in, and since according to Olaquer, all proceedings before
courts martial in cases involving civilians are null and void, the court deems it
proper to adhere to that unequivocal pronouncement, perceiving no cogent
reason to deviate from the doctrine.

The fact cannot be ignored, however, that crimes appear to have been
committed, and there are accusations against herein petitioners for those
offenses. Olaquer cannot and does not operate to absolve the petitioners of
these charges, or establish that the same are baseless, so as to entitle them to
immediate release from detention. It is not to be forgotten that the victims in
offenses ascribed to the petitioners have as much interest as the State has to
prosecute the alleged authors of the misdeeds. Justice will be better served if the
detention of such of the petitioners as are not hereby ordered released or
excepted, is continued until their cases are transferred to the ordinary courts
having jurisdiction, and the necessary informations have been filed against them
therein, as has already been done in the case of petitioners Imperial D. Usman
and Samu Gumal. 19 The State should be given a reasonable period of time to
accomplish this transfer, at which time the petitioners may apply for bail for their
temporary release.

The Solicitor General not unreasonably anticipates questions to arise as to the


availability of certain defenses to the petitioners upon their prosecution before the
civil courts. It seems evident, however, that no breach of the constitutional
prohibition against twice putting an accused in jeopardy of punishment for the
same offense 20 would result from the retrial of the petitioners" cases, for the
simple reason that the absence of jurisdiction of the courts martial to try and
convict the petitioners prevented the first jeopardy from attaching. 21 Valid
previous proceedings are required in order that the defense of double jeopardy
can be raised by the accused in the second prosecution. 22

Neither does the defense of prescription appear to be available to the petitioners


who, except for a handful, were charged with offenses punishable by death or
reclusion perpetua, which prescribe in twenty years. 23 Even the few not so
charged cannot raise such defense since the filing of the first indictments
suspended the running of the prescriptive period, and the prosecutions under the
informations to be filed should be regarded as mere continuations of the previous
proceedings. 24 At the very least, the filing of the first charges should be
considered as having interrupted the prescriptive period notwithstanding the lack
of jurisdiction of the military tribunal in which they were filed, applying, by
analogy, the ruling in People vs. Olarte. 25

In fine, the Court holds that the merits of the indictments against all these
civilians are solely for the civil courts to weigh and decide upon after due
proceedings. Otherwise stated, they are entitled to the retrial they have explicitly
requested of their respective cases in the civil courts.

WHEREFORE, the petition is hereby granted insofar as petitioners Vergilio


Alejandrino, 26 Domingo Reyes, Antonio Pumar Teodoro Patono, Andres Parado,
Del Campus, 27 Reynaldo C. Reyes and Rosalino de los Santos 28 are
concerned. The Director of the Bureau of Prisons is hereby ordered to effect the
immediate release of the above-mentioned petitioners, unless there are other
legal causes that may warrant their detention.

The petition is DISMISSED as to petitioners Elpidio Cacho, William Lorenzana,


Benigno Bantolino, Getulio B. Braga, Jr., Tomas C. Amarte, Rogelio L.
Caricungan, Ernesto Baradiel, Isabelo Narne, Eric F. Pichay, Pablo Callejo,
Russel A. Paulino, Laurel Lamaca, Tirso F. Bala, Calixto Somera, Edulino
Lacsina (Draftee), Ronnie A. Celiz, Elpidio Urbano, Sofronio Galo, Aquilino
Leyran, Leopoldo Arcadio, Rolando Tudin, Rosendo I. Ramos, Pacifica Batacan,
Edilberto Liberato, Jimmy C. Realis, Democrito Loraa who are all military
personnel.

As to the other petitioners, the Department of Justice is hereby DIRECTED TO


FILE the necessary informations against them in the courts having jurisdiction
over the offenses involved, within one hundred eighty (180) days from notice of
this decision, without prejudice to the reproduction of the evidence submitted by
the parties and admitted by the Military Commission. If eventually convicted, the
period of the petitioners' detention shall be credited in their favor.
The Courts wherein the necessary informations are filed are DIRECTED TO
CONDUCT with dispatch the necessary proceedings inclusive of those for the
grant of bail which may be initiated by the accused.

SO ORDERED.