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The RIGHT TO SPEEDY TRIAL AS APPLIED IN THE CASE OF Dante T. Tan vs.

People of Philippines & Other Supreme Court Cases on Speedy Trial 1


By : Atty. Antonio A. Ligon, CPA 2 I. Introduction
The right to a speedy trial is an ancient liberty. During the reign of HENRY II (1154 1189), the English Crown promulgated the Assize of Clarendon, a legal code comprised of 22 articles, one of which promised speedy justice to all litigants. In 1215 the Magna Charta prohibited the king from delaying justice to any person in the realm.

The right to a speedy trial does not apply to every stage of a criminal case. It arises only after a person has been arrested, indicted, or otherwise formally accused of a crime by the government. Before the point of formal accusation, the government is under no obligation to investigate, accuse, or prosecute a defendant within a specific amount of time. Nor does the Speedy Trial Clause apply to post-trial criminal proceedings, such as Probation and Parole hearings. If the government drops criminal charges during the middle of a case, the Speedy Trial Clause does not apply unless the government later refiles the charges, at which point the length of delay is measured only from the time of refiling. However, the fairness requirements of the Due Process Clause apply during each juncture of a criminal case, and an unreasonably excessive delay can be challenged under
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This Paper was delivered before Business Law students, DLSU Graduate School of Business and will be submitted to the Lawyers Review for publication 2 The author is a practicing lawyer, managing partner of Ligon Solis Mejia Florendo & Cruz Law Firm . He Finished Public Sector Negotiation program in JFK School of Government in 2002. He served as Provincial Board Member of Bulacan from 2001 to 2004 and the IBP National office as Executive Director in 1990 . He is a professor of Commercial laws in De La Salle University

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this constitutional provision even if the delay occurs before formal accusation or after conviction.

In the Philippine setting our organic and criminal laws expressly guarantee that in all criminal prosecutions, the accused shall enjoy the right to speedy trial. A speedy trial is a trial conducted according to the law on criminal procedure and the rules and regulations, free from vexatious, capricious and oppressive delays. It can be one which may be had as soon after indictment as the prosecution can with reasonable diligence prepare for trial. And such trial is denied an accused person where through the

vacillation and procrastination of prosecuting officers, the accused is forced to wait many months or years for trial.3 The primordial purpose of this constitutional right is to prevent the oppression of an accused by delaying criminal prosecution for an indefinite period of time. The right of an accused to speedy trial is not violated by mere postponement of scheduled hearings of the case. Unjustified postponements which prolong the trial for an unreasonable length of time are what offend the right of the accused to speedy trial. The right to speedy trial allows reasonable continuance so as not to deprive the prosecution its day in court.

II BACKGROUND OF THE RIGHT TO SPEEDY TRIAL

The 1987 Philippine Constitution provides in Section 14 (2) of Article III, Bill of Rights:

QUE VS. COSICO; PEOPLE VS. MARTELINO , G.R. No. 81861, September 8, 1989, 177 SCRA 410

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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.

It would appear historically, that the right to speedy trial provision have been patterned from 6th Amendment of the US Constitution, as the Philippine was US territory under December 10, 1898 to March 24, 1934. The Malolos Constitution, which was drafted in 1899 by Revolutionary Government following its independence from Spain has the earliest pronouncement on the right to speedy trial. Malolos Constitution provides: All persons detained shall be discharged of delivered to the judicial authority within twenty four (24) hours following the act of detention. All detentions without the legal effect, unless the arrested person is duly Article 8, Title IV of the

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prosecuted within seventy two (72) hours after delivery to a competent court.

The accused shall be duly notified of such proceeding within the same period.

Rule 115, Section 1(h) and Rule 119 of the Revised Rules of Procedure, in relation to The Speedy Trial Act of R.A. 8493 (promulgated February 12, 1998) and Supreme Court Circular 38-98, Implementing Guidelines of RA 8489 (August 11, 1998) gave life to the spirit of the Right to Speedy Trial provided in Section 14 (2) of Article III the 1987 Philippine constitution.

The right to speedy trial is a privilege of the accused. If he does not claim it he should not complain. The spirit of the law is that the accused must go on record in the attitude of demanding a trial or resisting delay if he does not do this , he must be deemed, to have waived the privilege.

In the most recent case of Philippine Coconut Producers Federation, Inc. (COCOFED), et al. vs. Republic of the Philippines; Wigberto E. Tanada, et al., intervenors; Danilo S. Ursua vs. Republic of the Philippines4, the Supreme Court reiterated that 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. In this case, the appropriate right

G.R. Nos. 177857-58 & G.R. No. 178193, January 24, 2012.

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

This paper will focused on the decision by the Supreme Court on Dante V. Tan vs. People of the Philippines in view of the importance of the doctrines cited therein such as the definition of the right to speedy trial, the inquiry as to whether or not an accused has been denied such right is not susceptible by precise qualification; and when is the proper time to invoke the right to speedy trial

III

The Case of Dante T. Tan Vs. People of the Philippines G.R. No.

173637, April 21, 2009

a. SUMMARY OF FACTS

On 19 December 2000, Dante Tan, along with other persons, was charged for his alleged participation in employing manipulative devises in the purchases o Best World Resources Corporation (BW) shares. Tan was arraigned on 16 January 2001, and pleaded not guilty

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to the charges. On 6 February 2001, the pre-trial was concluded, and a pre-trial order set, among other things, the first date of trial on 27 February 2001. On 2 December

2003, Tan moved to dismiss the criminal case against him due to the prosecutions alleged failure to prosecute. Claiming violation of his right to speedy trial, Tan faults the prosecution for failing to prosecute the case for an unreasonable length of time and without giving any excuse or justification for the delay. According to Tan, he was persistent in asserting his right to speedy trial, which he had allegedly done on several instances. Finally, he claimed to have been substantially prejudiced by this delay.

b. ISSUE(S):

(1) Whether or not there is a violation of the right to speedy trial of petitioner Dante V. Tan (2) When to envoke the right to speedy trial

c.

DISCUSSION / DECISION

The Supreme Court, in ruling that there was no sufficient ground to conclude that the prosecution is guilty of violating Tans right to speedy trial, found that: An accuseds right to have a speedy, impartial, and public trial, is guaranteed in criminal cases bu Section 14(2) of the Article III of the Constitution. The right to speedy trial may be defined as one free from vexatious, capricious and oppressive delays ,in itssalutary 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
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whatosoever legitimate defense he may interpose. Intimating historical perspective on the evolution of the righ to speedy trial , we reiterate the old legl 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 speedy trial5

Following the policies incorporated under the 1987 Constitution,Republic Act no. 8493, otherwise known as The Speedy Trial Act of 1988 with aSection 6 of said Act limiting the trial period to 180 days from the first day of trial.6 Aware of the 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 119.7

The Supreme Court in deciding against Tan relied on the following cases :

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Page151-152, of Volume 158 of SCRA , Tan vs. People , G.R. No. 173637 SECTION 6. Time limit for trial. In criminal cases involving persons charged of a crime, except those subject to the Rules on Summary Procedure, or where the penalty prescribed by law does not exceed six (6) months imprisonment, or a fine of One thousand pesos (P1,000.00) or both, irrespective of other imposable penalties, the justice or judge shall, after consultation with the public prosecutor and the counsel for the accused, 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 Chief Justice of the Supreme Court pursuant to Section 3, Rule 22 of the Rules of Court.
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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 trail 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.

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Corpuz v. Sandiganbagayan8: 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 for an indefinite time, and to prevent delays in the adminination of justice by mandating the courts to proceed with reasonable dispatch in the trial of criminal cases. Such right to 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 notis not an accused has been denied such right is not susceptible by precise qualification. The concept of 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 tobe swift, but deliberate. It is consistent with delays and depends upon circumstances. It secures the 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 Consititution and the Rules of Court are shields, not weaposn ; hence, court are to give meaning to that intent.9

The Court also applied the factors and the balance to consider which was used by the Supreme Court in the People of the Philippines vs. Hernandez10: In the said case the court said A balancing test of applying societal interests and the rights of the accused necessarily compels the court to approach speedy trial case on an ad hoc basis. In determining whether the accused has been deprived of his rights to a speedy disposition of the case and to speedy trial , four factors must be considered11:

(a) length of delay


8 9

G.R. NO. 162214, 11 November 2004, 442 SCRAS 294, 312-313 G.R. NO. 162214, 11 November 2004, 442 SCRAS 294, 312-313 10 G.R. Nos.154218 & 154372 499 SCRA 688, August 28, 2006,
11

BARKER VS. WINGO 407 US 514, 92 S.Ct.2182 (1972)

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(b) reason for delay (c) defendants assertion of the right (d) prejudice to the defendant

In Tan case, the court reiterated the doctrine stated in Santiago vs. Garchitorena12t 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. Tans objection to the prosecutions stand that he gave an implied consent to the separate trial of Criminal Case No. 119830 is belied by the records of the case. No objection was interposed by his defense counsel when this matter was discussed during the initial hearing. Tans conformity thereto can be deduced from his nonobjection at the preliminary hearing when the prosecution manifested that the evidence to be presented would be only for Criminal Cases No. 119831-119832. His failure to object to the prosecutions manifestation that the cases be tried separately is fatal to his case. The acts, mistakes and negligence of counsel bind his client, except only when such mistakes would result in serious injustice.
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The Court added citing Solar Team Entertainment Inc. vs. Judge How

that

"Moreover, although periods for trial have been stipulated, these periods are not absolute. Where periods have been set, certain exclusions are allowed by law. After all, this Court and the law recognize that it is but a fact that judicial proceedings do not exist
12 13

G.R. No. 109266, 2 December 1993, 228 SCRA 214, 221 393 Phil 172, 184; 338 SCRA 511 (2000)

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in a vacuum and must contend with the realities of everyday life. In spite of the prescribed time limits, jurisprudence continues to adopt the view that the fundamentally recognized principle is that the concept of speedy trial is a relative term and must necessarily be a flexible concept14.

"As to the assertion that delay in the presentation of evidence for Criminal Case No. 119830 has prejudiced Tan because the witnesses for the defense may no longer be available at this time, suffice it to say that the burden of proving his guilt rests upon the prosecution. Should the prosecution fail for any reason to present evidence sufficient to show his guilt beyond reasonable doubt, Tan will be acquitted. It is safely entrenched in our jurisprudence that unless the prosecution discharges its burden to prove the guilt of an accused beyond reasonable doubt, the latter need not even offer evidence in his behalf.

"In the cases involving Tan, the length of delay, complexity of the issues and his failure to invoke said right to speedy trial at the appropriate time tolled the death knell on his claim to the constitutional guarantee. More importantly, in failing to interpose a timely objection to the prosecutions manifestation during the preliminary hearings that the cases be tried separately, one after the other, Tan was deemed to have acquiesced and waived his objection thereto.

"The old adage that justice delayed is justice denied has never been more valid than in our jurisdiction, where it is not a rarity for a case to drag in our courts for years and years and even decades. It was this difficulty that inspired the constitutional requirement that the rules of court to be promulgated by the Supreme Court shall provide for a simplified
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Id

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and inexpensive procedure for the speedy trial and disposition of cases. Indeed, for justice to prevail, the scales must balance, for justice is not to be dispensed for the accused alone."15

IV Relevance of Tan vs. People vis--vis Other cases in Speedy Trial The case of Tan vs. People is unlike the Lumanlaw vs. Peralta, Jr.16 wherer the Court ruled Given the length and the unreasonableness of the majority of the delays, a violation of the right of petitioner speedy trial becomes manifest. Almost two years elapsed from the filing of the information against him until the filing of this Petition; incredibly he has not been arraigned. An arraignment takes, at the most ten minutes of the courts business and does not normally entail legal gymnastics. In the Tan case, the accused was arraigned right after an information was filed. As observed in the

Lumalaw case, where there are unwarranted delays in the conduct of the arraignment of an accused, he has the right to demand, -- through the writ of mandamusexpeditious action from all officials tasks with the administration of justice he may not only demand that his arraignment be held but, ultimately that the information against him be dismissed on the ground of the violation of his right to speedy trial. The protection of peoples civil liberties overwhelmes all of procedure.

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Justice Isagani Cruz, Philippine political Law, p. 292 February 13, 2006 G.R.No. 16495482 SCRA 396

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In deciding the case of Tan vs. People , the court is mindful of the doctrine enunciated in Uy vs. Adriano17 which defined Speedy trial as a relative term and

necessary 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.

The passage of time

alone, without a significant deprivation of liberty or

impairment of ability to properly defend oneself, is not absolute evidence of prejudice. The right to speedy trial is not primarily intended to prevent prejudice to the defense caused by passage of time; the interest is protected primarily by the due process clause and the statutes of limitations.

The principle applied by the Court in Churchille v. Mari and the People of the Philippines vs. Hon. Rolando L. Gonzales et. al18 cannot be made applicable to Tan vs. People, considering that in the Churchille case, the private respondent had already been deprived of his liberty on two occasions. First, during the preliminary investigation

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October 27, 2006, G.R. No. 159098 505 SCRA 625 G.R. No. 187728, September 12, 2011

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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.

V CONCLUSIONS

Right to speedy trial is a way to prevent prosecutors from substantially delaying a trial without valid reason and it provides substantial protection to the constitutional right of the accused.

The prosecution of offenses is a matter of public interest and it is the duty of the government or those acting in its behalf to prosecute all cases to their determination without oppressive, capricious and vexatious delay. The Constitution does not say that
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the right to a speedy trial may be availed of only where the prosecution for crime is commenced and undertaken by the fiscal. It does not exclude from its operation cases commenced by private individuals. Where once an accused is prosecuted criminally, he is entitled to a speedy trial, it is irrespective of the nature of the offense or the manner in which it is authorized to be commenced.19

The government should be the last to set an example of delay and oppression in the administration of justice and it is the moral and legal obligation of the court to see that the criminal proceedings against the accused come to an end that they be immediately discharged from the custody of the law.20

The ordinary scenario in a courtroom would be a bunch of lawyers trying to outwit each other during the entire proceeding at the expense of accuseds right to speedy trial of the case. In this regard, the accused must assert his right to speedy trial of his case and his failure to invoke the aforesaid right at appropriate time tolled the death knell on his claim to the constitutional guarantee.21. As seen in Tan vs. People and in other cited cases, the of the accused to have a speedy trial is violated not only when unjustified postponements of the trial are asked for and secured, but also when, without good cause or justifiable motive, a long period of time is allowed to elapse without having his case tried.

The right to speedy trial is not understood to have been waived or abandoned by the accused when he or his attorney fails to urge the trial of the case. Such a waiver or

19 20

RECTO VS. AQUINO, 66 Phil 217, 233-234 CONDE VS. RIVERA AND UNSON, 45 Phil 651 21 SANTIAGO VS. GARCHITORENA, G.R. No. 109266, 2 December 1993, 228 SCRA 214, 221.

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abandonment may be presumed only when the postponement of the trial has been sought and obtained by the accused himself or by his attorney. The practice of

permitting the promotor fiscal, after filing the informations, to be idle and to allow criminal cases instituted by him to remain inert in the files of the court for a long or indefinite period of time and even for years, is a pernicious practice unjust to the accused. Such practice violates the fundamental right of the accused to have a speedy trial, is contrary to the public interest, and detrimental to the speedy administration of justice.22

The right of an accused to a speedy trial is not, however, violated by the mere postponement of scheduled hearings of the case. Unjustified postponements which prolong the trial for an unreasonable length of time are what offend the right of the accused to speedy trial.23

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22

KALAW VS. APOSTOL and ALCAZAR, 64 PHIL 852, DUTERTE VS. SANDIGAN BAYAN, G.R. 130191, April 27, 1998, 289 SCRA 721, 94 SCAD 161 23 PEOPLE VS. LEVISTE G.R. NO. 104386, March 28, 1996 citing PEOPLE VS. TAMPAL, 244 SCRA 202

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VI

REFERENCES

Sixth Amendment, The United States Consitution Malolos Consittution Section 14 (2) of Article III, Bill of Rights 1987 Consitution of the Philippines The Speedy Trial Act 0f 1988 , Republic Act No.8493 Supreme Court Circular No. 38-98 [dated August 11, 1998] [Implementing the Provisions of Republic Act No. 8493, Entitled "An Act to Ensure a Speedy Trial ofAll Criminal Cases Before the Sandiganbayan, Regional Trial Court, Metropolitan Trial Court, Municipal Trial Court in Cities, Municipal Trial Court and Municipal Circuit Trial Court, Appropriating Funds Therefor, and for Other Purposes
Rule 115, Section 1(h) and Rule 119 of the Revised Rules of Procedure, Rules of Court of the Philippines es 2000 Rules of Criminal procedure , Rules of Court of the Philippi
Feldman, Steven D. 1996. "Twenty-fifth Annual Review of Criminal Procedure: Speedy Trial." Georgetown Law Journal 84 (April).

Dante T. Tan, Petitioner vs. People of the Philippines, 586 SCRA 139

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