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CONSTI2_Section14_Right to Speedy, Impartial and Public Trial (50 pages)

(1) (People v. Tee, G.R. Nos. 140546-47, January 20, 2003)


(11) (Flores v. People, G.R. No. L-25769, December 10, 1974)
(13) (Conde v. Rivera, G.R. No. 21741, January 25, 1924)
(14) (Speedy Trial Act of 1998, REPUBLIC ACT NO. 8493 [1998])
(17) (Mateo, Jr. v. Villaluz, G.R. Nos. L-34756-59, March 31, 1973)
(21) (Garcia v. Domingo, G.R. No. L-30104 (Resolution), July 25, 1973)
(23) (People v. Mapalao, G.R. No. 92415, May 14, 1991)
(30) (People v. Valeriano y Tumahig, G.R. Nos. 103604-05, September 23, 1993)
(38) (Perez v. Estrada, A.M. No. 01-4-03-SC (Resolution), September 13, 2001)
(43) (In re Ampatuan, A.M. No. 10-11-5-SC, 10-11-6-SC, 10-11-7-SC, June 14, 2011)
(47) (In re Ampatuan, A.M. No. 10-11-5-SC, 10-11-6-SC, 10-11-7-SC, October 23, 2012)

perpetua as neither mitigating nor aggravating


(People v. Tee, G.R. Nos. 140546-47, January 20, circumstance was present in the instant case.
2003)
SYLLABUS
EN BANC
1. CONSTITUTIONAL LAW; BILL OF RIGHTS; SEARCHES
[G.R. Nos. 140546-47. January 20, 2003.] AND SEIZURES; WARRANT ISSUED SHOULD DESCRIBE
WITH PARTICULARITY THE THINGS TO BE SEIZED;
PEOPLE OF THE PHILIPPINES, plaintiff-appellee, vs. RATIONALE. The constitutional requirement of
MODESTO TEE a.k.a. ESTOY TEE, accused-appellant. reasonable particularity of description of the things
to be seized is primarily meant to enable the law
The Solicitor General for plaintiff-appellee. enforcers serving the warrant to: (1) readily identify
the properties to be seized and thus prevent them
Jose Mencio Molintas for accused-appellant. from seizing the wrong items; and (2) leave said
peace officers with no discretion regarding the
SYNOPSIS articles to be seized and thus prevent unreasonable
searches and seizures. What the Constitution seeks
Appellant is a Chinese national in his forties, a to avoid are search warrants of broad or general
businessman, and a resident of Baguio City. A raid characterization or sweeping descriptions, which
conducted by the operatives of the NBI and the will authorize police officers to undertake a fishing
PNP NARCOM at the premises allegedly leased by expedition to seize and confiscate any and all kinds
appellant and at his residence yielded huge of evidence or articles relating to an offense.
quantities of marijuana. The City Prosecutor of
Baguio City charged appellant with illegal 2. ID.; ID.; ID.; ID.; WHEN TECHNICAL DESCRIPTION IS
possession of marijuana, which later on resulted to NOT NECESSARY; APPLICATION IN CASE AT BAR.
the filing of two separate informations which were However, it is not required that technical precision
docketed to Criminal Cases Nos. 15800-R and of description be required, particularly, where by
15822-R. In Criminal Case No. 15822-R, the trial court the nature of the goods to be seized, their
agreed with appellant that the taking of marijuana description must be rather general, since the
from appellant's rented premises was the result of requirement of a technical description would mean
an illegal search and hence, inadmissible in that no warrant could issue. Thus, it has been held
evidence against appellant. Appellant was that the term "narcotics paraphernalia" is not so
accordingly acquitted of the charge. However, the wanting in particularity as to create a general
trial court found that the evidence for the warrant. Nor is the description "any and all
prosecution was more than ample to prove narcotics" and "all implements, paraphernalia,
appellant's guilt in Criminal Case No. 15800-R and articles, papers and records pertaining to" the use,
duly convicted him of illegal possession of possession, or sale of narcotics or dangerous drugs
marijuana and sentenced him to death. Hence, this so broad as to be unconstitutional. A search
automatic review. warrant commanding peace officers to seize "a
quantity of loose heroin" has been held sufficiently
According to the Court, there was no grave abuse particular. Tested against the foregoing
of discretion committed by the trial court when it precedents, the description "an undetermined
ordered the so-called reopening of the case to amount of marijuana" must be held to satisfy the
complete the testimony of the prosecution witness. requirement for particularity in a search warrant:
Appellant was never deprived of his day in court. Noteworthy, what is to be seized in the instant case
Appellant was given every opportunity to support is property of a specified character, i.e., marijuana,
his case or to refute the prosecution's evidence an illicit drug. By reason of its character and the
after the prosecution rested its case. The physical circumstances under which it would be found, said
evidence in this case corroborated what the article is illegal. A further description would be
prosecution's witness testified to. Hence, the unnecessary and ordinarily impossible, except as to
Supreme Court affirmed the trial court's finding that such character, the place, and the circumstances.
appellant was guilty of the crime charged. The Thus, this Court has held that the description
penalty, however; was reduced to reclusion "illegally in possession of undetermined
1|CONSTI2_Section14_Right to Speedy, Impartial and Public Trial
quantity/amount of dried marijuana leaves and the right of an accused to speedy trial, courts
Methamphetamine Hydrochloride (Shabu) and sets should do more than a mathematical computation
of paraphernalia" particularizes the things to be of the number of postponements of the scheduled
seized. hearings of the case. The right to a speedy trial is
deemed violated only when: (1) the proceedings
3. ID.; ID.; ID.; SEARCH WARRANT; REQUIRES THAT THE are attended by vexatious, capricious, and
JUDGE MUST PERSONALLY EXAMINE THE oppressive delays; or (2) when unjustified
COMPLAINANT AND HIS WITNESSES UNDER OATH OR postponements are asked for and secured; or (3)
AFFIRMATION BEFORE THE ISSUANCE THEREOF. when without cause or justifiable motive a long
Before a valid search warrant is issued, both the period of time is allowed to elapse without the
Constitution and the 2000 Revised Rules of Criminal party having his case tried.
Procedure require that the judge must personally
examine the complainant and his witnesses under 7. ID.; ID.; REOPENING OF CASES; RESTS UPON THE
oath or affirmation. The personal examination must DISCRETION OF THE TRIAL COURT; RESTRICTIONS
not be merely routinary or pro forma, but must be THEREOF, NOT PRESENT IN CASE AT BAR. As a rule,
probing and exhaustive. . . . It is presumed that a the matter of reopening of a case for reception of
judicial function has been regularly performed, further evidence after either prosecution or defense
absent a showing to the contrary. A magistrate's has rested its case is within the discretion of the trial
determination of probable cause for the issuance court. However, a concession to a reopening must
of a search warrant is paid great deference by a not prejudice the accused or deny him the
reviewing court, as long as there was substantial opportunity to introduce counter evidence. Strictly
basis for that determination. Substantial basis speaking, however, there was no reopening of the
means that the questions of the examining judge cases in the proceedings below. A motion to
brought out such facts and circumstances as would reopen may properly be presented only after either
lead a reasonably discreet and prudent man to or both parties have formally offered and closed
believe that an offense has been committed, and their evidence, but before judgment.
the objects in connection with the offense sought
to be seized are in the place sought to be 8. ID.; EVIDENCE; TESTIMONY OF WITNESS; CANNOT
searched. IAEcaH BE DISREGARDED ENTIRELY EVEN WHEN ONLY PART
THEREOF WERE FOUND TRUE; APPLICATION IN CASE
4. REMEDIAL LAW; CRIMINAL PROCEDURE; MOTION AT BAR. It is the bounden duty of the courts to
TO QUASH; GROUNDS AND OBJECTIONS NOT test the prosecution evidence rigorously, so that no
RAISED THEREIN PRESUMED WAIVED. But it is innocent person is made to suffer the unusually
settled that when a motion to quash a warrant is severe penalties meted out for drug offenses.
filed, all grounds and objections then available; Though we scrutinized minutely the testimony of
existent or known, should be raised in the original or Abratique, we find no cogent reason to disbelieve
subsequent proceedings for the quashal of the him. From his account, Abratique might appear
warrant, otherwise they are deemed waived. aware of treading the thin line between innocence
and feeling guilty, with certain portions of his story
5. ID.; ID.; RIGHT TO SPEEDY TRIAL; DEFINED AND tending to be self-exculpatory. However, his whole
CONSTRUED. A speedy trial means a trial testimony could not be discredited. The established
conducted according to the law of criminal rule is that testimony of a witness may be believed
procedure and the rules and regulations, free from in part and disbelieved in other parts, depending
vexatious, capricious, and oppressive delays. In on the corroborative evidence and the
Conde v. Rivera and Unson, 45 Phil. 650, 652 (1924), probabilities and improbabilities of the case. But it is
the Court held that "where a prosecuting officer, accepted, as a matter of common sense, that if
without good cause, secures postponements of the certain parts of a witness' testimony are found true,
trial of a defendant against his protest beyond a his testimony cannot be disregarded entirely.
reasonable period of time, as in this instance, for
more than a year, the accused is entitled to relief 9. CRIMINAL LAW; ILLEGAL POSSESSION OF
by a proceeding in mandamus to compel a DANGEROUS DRUGS; ELEMENTS; CONSTRUED. In a
dismissal of the information, or if he be restrained of prosecution for illegal possession of dangerous
his liberty, by habeas corpus to obtain his freedom." drugs, the following facts must be proven with
The concept of speedy trial is necessarily relative. A moral certainty: (1) that the accused is in possession
determination as to whether the right has been of the object identified as prohibited or regulated
violated involves the weighing of several factors drug; (2) that such possession is not authorized by
such as the length of the delay, the reason for the law; and (3) that the accused freely and
delay, the conduct of the prosecution and the consciously possessed the said drug. . . . In People
accused, and the efforts exerted by the defendant v. de los Reyes, 239 SCRA 439 (1994), we held that
to assert his right, as well as the prejudice and the Dangerous Drugs Act applies generally to all
damage caused to the accused. persons and proscribes the sale of dangerous drugs
by any person, and no person is authorized to sell
6. ID.; ID.; ID.; WHEN DEEMED VIOLATED. The such drugs. Said doctrine is equally applicable with
Speedy Trial Act of 1998, provides that the trial respect to possession of prohibited drugs. REPUBLIC
period for criminal cases in general shall be one ACT NO. 6425, which penalizes the possession of
hundred eighty (180) days. However, in determining prohibited drugs, applies equally to all persons in
2|CONSTI2_Section14_Right to Speedy, Impartial and Public Trial
this jurisdiction and no person is authorized to death and to pay a fine of 1 million pesos without
possess said articles, without authority of law. Anent subsidiary imprisonment in case of insolvency.
the third element, we have held that to warrant
conviction, possession of illegal drugs must be with The 591.81 kilos of marijuana contained in 26 boxes
knowledge of the accused or that animus and one yellow sack (Exhibits U-1 to U-27) are
possidendi existed together with the possession or ordered forfeited in favor of the State to be
control of said articles. Nonetheless, this dictum destroyed immediately in accordance with law.
must be read in consonance with our ruling that
possession of a prohibited drug per se constitutes 2. In Crim. Case No. 15822-R, the Court finds that
prima facie evidence of knowledge or animus the prosecution failed to prove the guilt of accused
possidendi sufficient to convict an accused absent Modesto Tee beyond reasonable doubt and
a satisfactory explanation of such possession. In hereby acquits him of the charge of illegal
effect, the onus probandi is shifted to the accused possession of marijuana in violation of Section 8, Art.
to explain the absence of knowledge or animus 2 of RA 6425 as amended by Section 13 of RA 7659
possidendi in this situation. as charged in the Information since the marijuana
confiscated have to be excluded in evidence as a
product of unreasonable search and seizure.

10. ID.; ID.; PENALTY. The legislature never The 336.93 kilos of marijuana contained in 13 sacks
intended that where the quantity involved exceeds and four boxes (Exh. B to S and their component
those stated in Section 20 of REPUBLIC ACT NO. parts) although excluded in evidence as the
6425 the maximum penalty of death shall product(s) of unreasonable search and seizure, are
automatically be imposed. The statute prescribes nevertheless ordered forfeited in favor of the State
two indivisible penalties: reclusion perpetua and to be destroyed immediately in accordance with
death. Hence, the penalty to be imposed must law considering that they are prohibited articles.
conform with Article 63 of the Revised Penal Code.
As already held, the death penalty law, Republic The City Jail Warden is, therefore, directed to
Act No. 7659 did not amend Article 63 of the release the accused Modesto Tee in connection
Revised Penal Code. The rules in Article 63 apply with Crim. Case No. 15822-R unless held on other
although the prohibited drugs involved are in charges.
excess of the quantities provided for in Section 20 of
REPUBLIC ACT NO. 6425. Thus, finding neither COST(S) DE OFICIO.
mitigating nor aggravating circumstances in the
present case, appellant's possession of 591.81 SO ORDERED. 3
kilograms of marijuana in Criminal Case No. 15800-
R, does not merit capital punishment but only the Appellant is a Chinese national in his forties, a
lesser penalty of reclusion perpetua. businessman, and a resident of Baguio City. A raid
conducted by operatives of the National Bureau of
DECISION Investigation (NBI) and Philippine National Police
Narcotics Command (PNP NARCOM) at premises
QUISUMBING, J p: allegedly leased by appellant and at his residence
yielded huge quantities of marijuana.
For automatic review is the consolidated judgment
1 of the Regional Trial Court (RTC) of Baguio City, On July 20, 1998, appellant moved to quash the
Branch 6, dated September 17, 1999, in Criminal search warrant on the ground that it was too
Cases Nos. 15800-R and 15822-R, involving violations general and that the NBI had not complied with the
of Section 8, Article II, of the Dangerous Drugs Law. requirements for the issuance of a valid search
2 Since appellant was acquitted in the second warrant. The pendency of said motion, however,
case, we focus on the first case, where appellant did not stop the filing of the appropriate charges
has been found guilty and sentenced to death and against appellant. In an information dated July 24,
fined one million pesos. 1998, docketed as Criminal Case No. 15800-R, the
City Prosecutor of Baguio City charged Modesto
The decretal portion of the trial court's decision Tee, alias "Estoy Tee," with illegal possession of
reads: marijuana, allegedly committed as follows:

WHEREFORE, judgment is hereby rendered, as That on or about the 1st day of July, 1998 in the City
follows: of Baguio, Philippines, and within the jurisdiction of
this Honorable Court, the above-named accused,
1. In Crim. Case No. 15800-R, the Court finds the did then and there willfully, unlawfully, feloniously
accused Modesto Tee guilty beyond reasonable and knowingly have in his possession the following,
doubt of the offense of illegal possession of to wit:
marijuana of about 591.81 kilos in violation of
Section 8, Article II of RA 6425 as amended by 1. Ninety-two (92) bricks of dried flowering tops
Section 13 of RA 7659 as charged in the separately contained in four (4) boxes; and
Information, seized by virtue of a search warrant
and sentences him to the supreme penalty of
3|CONSTI2_Section14_Right to Speedy, Impartial and Public Trial
2. One hundred fifty-eight (158) bricks, twenty-one On September 4, 1998, the trial court denied the
(21) blocks, and twenty-three (23) bags of dried motion to quash the search warrant and ordered
flowering tops separately contained in thirteen (13) appellant's arraignment.
sacks, with a total weight of 336.93 kilograms; and
When arraigned in Criminal Cases Nos. 15800-R and
3. Six hundred two (602) bricks of dried flowering 15822-R, appellant refused to enter a plea. The trial
tops separately contained in twenty-six (boxes) and court entered a plea of not guilty for him. 8 Trial on
a yellow sack, weighing 591.81 kilograms, the merits then ensued.

all having a grand total weight of 928.74 kilograms, The facts of this case, as gleaned from the records,
a prohibited drug, without the authority of law to are as follows:
possess, in violation of the above-cited provision of
law. Prosecution witness Danilo Abratique, a Baguio-
based taxi driver, and the appellant Modesto Tee
CONTRARY TO LAW. 4 are well acquainted with each other, since
Abratique's wife is the sister of Tee's sister-in-law. 9
On August 7, 1998, the prosecution moved to
"amend" the foregoing charge sheet "considering Sometime in late June 1998, appellant asked
that subject marijuana were seized in two (2) Abratique to find him a place for the storage of
different places." 5 smuggled cigarettes. 10 Abratique brought
appellant to his friend, Albert Ballesteros, who had a
As a result, the information in Criminal Case No. house for rent in Bakakeng, Baguio City. After
15800-R was amended to read as follows: negotiating the terms and conditions, Ballesteros
agreed to rent out his place to appellant. Appellant
That on or about the 1st day of July, 1998, in the then brought several boxes of purported "blue seal"
City of Baguio, Philippines, and within the jurisdiction cigarettes to the leased premises.
of this Honorable Court, the above-named
accused, did then and there willfully, unlawfully, Shortly thereafter, however, Ballesteros learned that
feloniously and knowingly have in his possession the the boxes stored in his place were not "blue seal"
following, to wit: cigarettes but marijuana. Fearful of being involved,
Ballesteros informed Abratique. Both later prevailed
- Six hundred two (602) bricks of dried flowering tops upon appellant to remove them from the premises.
separately contained in twenty-six (26) boxes and a 11
yellow sack, weighing 591.81 kilograms
Appellant then hired Abratique's taxi and
a prohibited drug, without the authority of law to transported the boxes of cannabis from the
possess, in violation of the above-cited provision of Ballesteros place to appellant's residence at Km. 6,
law. Dontogan, Green Valley, Sto. Tomas, Baguio City.
12
CONTRARY TO LAW. 6
On June 30, 1998, appellant hired Abratique to
A separate amended information docketed as drive him to La Trinidad, Benguet on the pretext of
Criminal Case No. 15822-R was likewise filed, the buying and transporting strawberries. Upon
accusatory portion of which reads: reaching La Trinidad, however, appellant directed
Abratique to proceed to Sablan, Benguet, where
That on or about the 1st day of July, 1998 in the City appellant proceeded to load several sacks of
of Baguio, Philippines, and within the jurisdiction of marijuana in Abratique's taxi. He then asked
this Honorable Court, the above-named accused, Abratique to find him a place where he could store
did then and there willfully, unlawfully, feloniously the contraband. 13
and knowingly have in his possession the following,
to wit: Abratique brought appellant to his grandmother's
house at No. 27 Dr. Cario St., QM Subdivision,
1. Ninety-two (92) bricks of dried flowering tops Baguio City, which was being managed by
separately contained in four (4) boxes; and Abratique's aunt, Nazarea Abreau. Nazarea
agreed to rent a room to appellant. Abratique and
2. hundred fifty-eight (158) bricks, twenty-one (21) appellant unloaded and stored there the sacks of
blocks, and twenty-three (23) bags of dried marijuana brought from Sablan. 14 Abratique was
flowering tops separately contained in thirteen (13) aware that they were transporting marijuana as
sacks, with a total weight of 336.93 kilograms; some of the articles in the sacks became exposed
in the process of loading. 15
a prohibited drug, without the authority of law to
possess, in violation of the above-cited provision of Eventually, Abratique and Nazarea were bothered
law. by the nature of the goods stored in the rented
room. She confided to her daughter, Alice Abreau
CONTRARY TO LAW. 7 Fianza, about their predicament. As Alice Fianza's
brother-in-law, Edwin Fianza, was an NBI agent,
4|CONSTI2_Section14_Right to Speedy, Impartial and Public Trial
Alice and Abratique phoned him and disclosed the search warrant was too general and the
what had transpired. 16 process by which said warrant was acquired did
not satisfy the constitutional requirements for the
On the morning of July 1, 1998, alerted by issuance of a valid search warrant. Moreover,
information that appellant would retrieve the sacks Abratique's testimony, which was heavily relied
of prohibited drugs that day, Edwin Fianza and upon by the judge who issued the warrant, was
other NBI operatives conducted a stake out at No. hearsay.
27, Dr. Cario St. While the NBI agents were
conducting their surveillance, they noticed that In Criminal Case No. 15822-R, the trial court agreed
several PNP NARCOM personnel were also with appellant that the taking of the 336.93
watching the place. 17 The NBI then learned that kilograms of marijuana was the result of an illegal
the PNP NARCOM had received a tip from one of search and hence, inadmissible in evidence
their informers regarding the presence of a huge against appellant. Appellant was accordingly
amount of drugs in that place. The NBI and PNP acquitted of the charge. However, the trial court
NARCOM agreed to have a joint operation. found that the prosecution's evidence was more
than ample to prove appellant's guilt in Criminal
As the day wore on and appellant did not show up, Case No. 15800-R and as earlier stated, duly
the NBI agents became apprehensive that the convicted him of illegal possession of marijuana
whole operation could be jeopardized. They sought and sentenced him to death.
the permission of Nazarea Abreau to enter the
room rented by appellant. She acceded and Hence, this automatic review.
allowed them entry. The NBI team then searched
the rented premises and found four (4) boxes and Before us, appellant submits that the trial court
thirteen (13) sacks of marijuana, totaling 336.93 erred in:
kilograms. 18
1. . . . UPHOLDING THE LEGALITY OF THE SEARCH
WARRANT DESPITE LACK OF COMPLIANCE OF (sic)
SEVERAL REQUIREMENTS BEFORE IT SHOULD HAVE
Later that evening, NBI Special Agent Darwin Lising, BEEN ISSUED AND IT BEING A GENERAL WARRANT;
with Abratique as his witness, applied for a search
warrant from RTC Judge Antonio Reyes at his 2. . . . GRAVELY ABUSED ITS DISCRETION IN
residence. 19 Judge Reyes ordered the NBI agents REOPENING THE CASE AND ALLOWING ABRATIQUE
to fetch the Branch Clerk of Court, Atty. Delilah TO TESTIFY AGAINST APPELLANT;
Muoz, so the proceedings could be properly
recorded. After Atty. Muoz arrived, Judge Reyes 3. . . . GIVING CREDENCE TO THE TESTIMONY OF
questioned Lising and Abratique. Thereafter, the ABRATIQUE;
judge issued a warrant directing the NBI to search
appellant's residence at Km. 6, Dontogan, Green 4. . . .NOT ACQUITTING THE ACCUSED IN BOTH
Valley, Baguio City, for marijuana. 20 CASES AND SENTENCING HIM TO DEATH DESPITE THE
ILLEGALLY OBTAINED EVIDENCE AS FOUND IN THE
The NBI operatives, with some PNP NARCOM FIRST CASE. 28
personnel in tow, proceeded to appellant's
residence where they served the warrant upon We find that the pertinent issues for resolution
appellant himself. 21 The search was witnessed by concern the following: (1) the validity of the search
appellant, members of his family, barangay conducted at the appellant's residence; (2) the
officials, and members of the media. 22 alleged prejudice caused by the reopening of the
Photographs were taken during the actual search. case and absences of the prosecution witness, on
23 The law enforcers found 26 boxes and a sack of appellant's right to speedy trial; (3) the sufficiency
dried marijuana 24 in the water tank, garage, and of the prosecution's evidence to sustain a finding of
storeroom of appellant's residence. 25 The total guilt with moral certainty; and (4) the propriety of
weight of the haul was 591.81 kilograms. 26 the penalty imposed.
Appellant was arrested for illegal possession of
marijuana. 1. On the Validity of the Search Warrant; Its
Obtention and Execution
The seized items were then submitted to the NBI Appellant initially contends that the warrant, which
laboratory for testing. NBI Forensic Chemist Maria directed the peace officers to search for and seize
Carina Madrigal conducted the tests. Detailed "an undetermined amount of marijuana," was too
microscopic and chromatographic examinations of general and hence, void for vagueness. He insists
the items taken from appellant's rented room at No. that Abratique could already estimate the amount
27, Dr. Cario St., as well as those from his residence of marijuana supposed to be found at appellant's
at Green Valley, showed these to be marijuana. 27 residence since Abratique helped to transport the
same.
In his defense, appellant contended that the
physical evidence of the prosecution was illegally For the appellee, the Office of the Solicitor General
obtained, being the products of an unlawful (OSG) counters that a search warrant is issued if a
search, hence inadmissible. Appellant insisted that judge finds probable cause that the place to be
5|CONSTI2_Section14_Right to Speedy, Impartial and Public Trial
searched contains prohibited drugs, and not that description. The description therein is: (1) as specific
he believes the place contains a specific amount as the circumstances will ordinarily allow; (2)
of it. The OSG points out that, as the trial court expresses a conclusion of fact not of law by
observed, it is impossible beforehand to determine which the peace officers may be guided in making
the exact amount of prohibited drugs that a person the search and seizure; and (3) limits the things to
has on himself. be seized to those which bear direct relation to the
offense for which the warrant is being issued. 40
Appellant avers that the phrase "an undetermined Said warrant imposes a meaningful restriction upon
amount of marijuana" as used in the search warrant the objects to be seized by the officers serving the
fails to satisfy the requirement of Article III, Section 2 warrant. Thus, it prevents exploratory searches,
29 of the Constitution that the things to be seized which might be violative of the Bill of Rights.
must be particularly described. Appellant's
contention, in our view, has no leg to stand on. The Appellant next assails the warrant for merely stating
constitutional requirement of reasonable that he should be searched, as he could be guilty
particularity of description of the things to be seized of violation of REPUBLIC ACT NO. 6425. Appellant
is primarily meant to enable the law enforcers claims that this is a sweeping statement as said
serving the warrant to: (1) readily identify the statute lists a number of offenses with respect to
properties to be seized and thus prevent them from illegal drugs. Hence, he contends, said warrant is a
seizing the wrong items; 30 and (2) leave said general warrant and is thus unconstitutional.
peace officers with no discretion regarding the
articles to be seized and thus prevent unreasonable For the appellee, the OSG points out that the
searches and seizures. 31 What the Constitution warrant clearly states that appellant has in his
seeks to avoid are search warrants of broad or possession and control marijuana or Indian hemp, in
general characterization or sweeping descriptions, violation of Section 8 of REPUBLIC ACT NO. 6425.
which will authorize police officers to undertake a
fishing expedition to seize and confiscate any and We have carefully scrutinized Search Warrant No.
all kinds of evidence or articles relating to an 415 (7-98), 41 and we find that it is captioned "For
offense. 32 However, it is not required that technical Violation of R.A. 6425, as amended." 42 It is clearly
precision of description be required, 33 particularly, stated in the body of the warrant that "there is
where by the nature of the goods to be seized, their probable cause to believe that a case for violation
description must be rather general, since the of R.A. 6425, as amended, otherwise known as the
requirement of a technical description would mean Dangerous Drugs Act of 1972, as further amended
that no warrant could issue. 34 by R.A. 7659 has been and is being committed by
one MODESTO TEE a.k.a. ESTOY TEE of Km. 6,
Thus, it has been held that term "narcotics Dontogan Bgy., Green Valley, Sto. Tomas, Baguio
paraphernalia" is not so wanting in particularity as City by having in his possession and control an
to create a general warrant. 35 Nor is the UNDETERMINED AMOUNT OF MARIJUANA or INDIAN
description "any and all narcotics" and "all HEMP in violation of the aforementioned law." 43 In
implements, paraphernalia, articles, papers and an earlier case, we held that though the specific
records pertaining to" the use, possession, or sale of section of the Dangerous Drugs Law is not
narcotics or dangerous drugs so broad as to be pinpointed, "there is no question at all of the
unconstitutional. 36 A search warrant commanding specific offense alleged to have been committed
peace officers to seize "a quantity of loose heroin" as a basis for the finding of probable cause." 44
has been held sufficiently particular. 37 Appellant's averment is, therefore, baseless. Search
Warrant No. 415 (7-98) appears clearly issued for
Tested against the foregoing precedents, the one offense, namely, illegal possession of
description "an undetermined amount of marijuana.
marijuana" must be held to satisfy the requirement
for particularity in a search warrant. Noteworthy, Appellant next faults the Judge who issued Search
what is to be seized in the instant case is property of Warrant No. 415 (7-98) for his failure to exhaustively
a specified character, i.e., marijuana, an illicit drug. examine the applicant and his witness. Appellant
By reason of its character and the circumstances points out that said magistrate should not have
under which it would be found, said article is illegal. swallowed all of Abratique's statements hook,
A further description would be unnecessary and line, and sinker. He points out that since Abratique
ordinarily impossible, except as to such character, consented to assist in the transport of the
the place, and the circumstances. 38 Thus, this marijuana, the examining judge should have
Court has held that the description "illegally in elicited from Abratique his participation in the crime
possession of undetermined quantity/amount of and his motive for squealing on appellant.
dried marijuana leaves and Methamphetamine Appellant further points out that the evidence of
Hydrochloride (Shabu) and sets of paraphernalia" the NBI operative who applied for the warrant is
particularizes the things to be seized. 39 merely hearsay and should not have been given
credit at all by Judge Reyes.
The search warrant in the present case, given its
nearly similar wording, "undetermined amount of
marijuana or Indian hemp," in our view, has satisfied
the Constitution's requirements on particularity of
6|CONSTI2_Section14_Right to Speedy, Impartial and Public Trial
Again, the lack of factual basis for appellant's (7-98) in his motion to quash before the trial court.
contention is apparent. The OSG points out that Instead, his motion contained vague generalities
Abratique personally assisted appellant in loading that Judge Reyes failed to ask searching questions
and transporting the marijuana to the latter's house of the applicant and his witness. Belatedly,
and to appellant's rented room at No. 27 Dr. Cario however, he now claims that Judge Reyes
St., Baguio City. Definitely, this indicates personal perfunctorily examined said witness. 56 But it is
knowledge on Abratique's part. Law enforcers settled that when a motion to quash a warrant is
cannot themselves be eyewitnesses to every crime; filed, all grounds and objections then available,
they are allowed to present witnesses before an existent or known, should be raised in the original or
examining judge. In this case, witness Abratique subsequent proceedings for the quashal of the
personally saw and handled the marijuana. Hence, warrant, otherwise they are deemed waived. 57
the NBI did not rely on hearsay information in
applying for a search warrant but on personal In this case, NBI Special Investigator Lising's
knowledge of the witness, Abratique. knowledge of the illicit drugs stored in appellant's
house was indeed hearsay. But he had a witness,
Before a valid search warrant is issued, both the Danilo Abratique, who had personal knowledge
Constitution 45 and the 2000 Revised Rules of about said drugs and their particular location.
Criminal Procedure 46 require that the judge must Abratique's statements to the NBI and to Judge
personally examine the complainant and his Reyes contained credible and reliable details. As
witnesses under oath or affirmation. The personal the NBI's witness, Abratique was a person on whose
examination must not be merely routinary or pro statements Judge Reyes could rely. His detailed
forma, but must be probing and exhaustive. 47 In description of appellant's activities with respect to
the instant case, it is not disputed that Judge the seized drugs was substantial. In relying on
Antonio Reyes personally examined NBI Special witness Abratique, Judge Reyes was not depending
Investigator III Darwin A. Lising, the applicant for the on casual rumor circulating in the underworld, but
search warrant as well as his witness, Danilo G. on personal knowledge Abratique possessed.
Abratique. Notes of the proceedings were taken by
Atty. Delilah Muoz, Clerk of Court, RTC of Baguio In Alvarez vs. Court of First Instance of Tayabas, 64
City, Branch 61, whom Judge Reyes had ordered to Phil. 33, 44 (1937), we held that:
be summoned. In the letter of transmittal of the
Clerk of Court of the RTC of Baguio City, Branch 61 The true test of sufficiency of a deposition or
to Branch 6 of said court, mention is made of affidavit to warrant issuance of a search warrant is
"notes" at "pages 711." 48 We have thoroughly whether it has been drawn in such a manner that
perused the records of Search Warrant No. 415 (7- perjury could be charged thereon and affiant be
98) and nowhere find said "notes." The depositions held liable for damages caused. 58
of Lising and Abratique were not attached to
Search Warrant No. 415 (7-98) as required by the Appellant argues that the address indicated in the
Rules of Court. We must stress, however, that the search warrant did not clearly indicate the place to
purpose of the Rules in requiring depositions to be be searched. The OSG points out that the address
taken is to satisfy the examining magistrate as to stated in the warrant is as specific as can be. The
the existence of probable cause. 49 The Bill of NBI even submitted a detailed sketch of the
Rights does not make it an imperative necessity that premises prepared by Abratique, thus ensuring that
depositions be attached to the records of an there would be no mistake.
application for a search warrant. Hence, said
omission is not necessarily fatal, for as long as there A description of the place to be searched is
is evidence on the record showing what testimony sufficient if the officer serving the warrant can, with
was presented. 50 In the testimony of witness reasonable effort, ascertain and identify the place
Abratique, Judge Reyes required Abratique to intended 59 and distinguish it from other places in
confirm the contents of his affidavit; 51 there were the community. 60 A designation or description that
instances when Judge Reyes questioned him points out the place to be searched to the
extensively. 52 It is presumed that a judicial function exclusion of all others, and on inquiry unerringly
has been regularly performed, 53 absent a showing leads the peace officers to it, satisfies the
to the contrary. A magistrate's determination of constitutional requirement of definiteness.
probable cause for the issuance of a search
warrant is paid great deference by a reviewing Appellant finally harps on the use of unnecessary
court, 54 as long as there was substantial basis for force during the execution of the search warrant.
that determination. 55 Substantial basis means that Appellant fails, however, to point to any evidentiary
the questions of the examining judge brought out matter in the record to support his contention.
such facts and circumstances as would lead a Defense witness Cipriana Tee, appellant's mother,
reasonably discreet and prudent man to believe testified on the search conducted but she said
that an offense has been committed, and the nothing that indicated the use of force on the part
objects in connection with the offense sought to be of the NBI operatives who conducted the search
seized are in the place sought to be searched. and seizure. 61 What the record discloses is that the
warrant was served on appellant, 62 who was given
On record, appellant never raised the want of time to read it, 63 and the search was witnessed by
adequate depositions to support Warrant No. 415 the barangay officials, police operatives, members
7|CONSTI2_Section14_Right to Speedy, Impartial and Public Trial
of the media, and appellant's kith and kin. 64 No entitled to relief by a proceeding in mandamus to
breakage or other damage to the place searched compel a dismissal of the information, or if he be
is shown. No injuries sustained by appellant, or any restrained of his liberty, by habeas corpus to obtain
witness, appears on record. The execution of the his freedom."
warrant, in our view, has been orderly and
peaceably performed. EHIcaT The concept of speedy trial is necessarily relative. A
determination as to whether the right has been
2. On The Alleged Violation of Appellant's violated involves the weighing of several factors
Substantive Rights such as the length of the delay, the reason for the
Appellant insists that the prosecution's unjustified delay, the conduct of the prosecution and the
and willful delay in presenting witness Abratique accused, and the efforts exerted by the defendant
unduly delayed the resolution of his case. He points to assert his right, as well as the prejudice and
out that a total of eight (8) scheduled hearings had damage caused to the accused. 74
to be reset due to the failure or willful refusal of
Abratique to testify against him. Appellant insists The Speedy Trial Act of 1998, provides that the trial
that said lapse on the prosecution's part violated period for criminal cases in general shall be one
Supreme Court Circular No. 38-98. 65 Appellant hundred eighty (180) days. 75 However, in
now alleges that the prosecution deliberately determining the right of an accused to speedy trial,
resorted to delaying the case to cause him untold courts should do more than a mathematical
miseries. computation of the number of postponements of
the scheduled hearings of the case. 76 The right to
For the appellee, the OSG points out that the two- a speedy trial is deemed violated only when: (1) the
month delay in the trial is not such a great length of proceedings are attended by vexatious, capricious,
time as to amount to a violation of appellant's right and oppressive delays; 77 or (2) when unjustified
to a speedy trial. A trial is always subject to postponements are asked for and secured; 78 or (3)
reasonable delays or postponements, but absent when without cause or justifiable motive a long
any showing that these delays are capricious and period of time is allowed to elapse without the
oppressive, the State should not be deprived of a party having his case tried. 79
reasonable opportunity to prosecute the criminal
action.

On record, the trial court found that prosecution In the present case, although the absences of
witness Danilo G. Abratique failed to appear in no prosecution witness Abratique totaled twenty (20)
less than eighteen (18) hearings, namely those set hearing days, there is no showing whatsoever that
for February 1, 2, 3, 4, 8, 9, 10, and 24; March 9, 15, prosecution capriciously caused Abratique's
22, and 23; April 6, 7, 8, 16, and 19, all in 1999. 66 No absences so as to vex or oppress appellant and
less than four (4) warrants of arrest were issued deny him his rights. On record, after Abratique
against him to compel him to testify. 67 The NBI repeatedly failed to show up for the taking of his
agent who supposedly had him in custody was testimony, the prosecution went to the extent of
found guilty of contempt of court for failing to praying that the trial court order the arrest of
produce Abratique at said hearings and Abratique to compel his attendance at trial. The
sanctioned. 68 The prosecution had to write the NBI prosecution likewise tried to get the NBI to produce
Regional Director in Baguio City and NBI Director in Abratique as the latter was in the Bureau's custody,
Manila regarding the failure of the Bureau's agents but to no avail. Eventually, the trial court ordered
to bring Abratique to court. 69 Nothing on record the prosecution to waive its right to present
discloses the reason for Abratique's aforecited Abratique and rest its case on the evidence
absences. On the scheduled hearing of June 7, already offered. 80
1999, he was again absent thus causing the trial
court to again order his arrest for the fifth time. 70 Nor do we find a delay of twenty (20) hearing days
He also failed to show up at the hearing of June 8, to be an unreasonable length of time. Delay of less
1999. 71 than two months has been found, in fact, to be not
an unreasonably lengthy period of time. 81
Appellant now stresses that the failure of Abratique
to appear and testify on twenty (20) hearing dates Moreover, nothing on record shows that appellant
violated appellant's constitutional 72 and statutory Modesto Tee objected to the inability of the
right to a speedy trial. prosecution to produce its witness. Under the Rules,
appellant could have moved the trial court to
A speedy trial means a trial conducted according require that witness Abratique post bail to ensure
to the law of criminal procedure and the rules and that the latter would testify when required. 82
regulations, free from vexatious, capricious, and Appellant could have moved to have Abratique
oppressive delays. 73 In Conde v. Rivera and Unson, found in contempt and duly sanctioned. Appellant
45 Phil. 650, 652 (1924), the Court held that "where a did neither. It is a bit too late in the day for
prosecuting officer, without good cause, secures appellant to invoke now his right to speedy trial.
postponements of the trial of a defendant against
his protest beyond a reasonable period of time, as No persuasive reason supports appellant's claim
in this instance, for more than a year, the accused is that his constitutional right to speedy trial was
8|CONSTI2_Section14_Right to Speedy, Impartial and Public Trial
violated. One must take into account that a trial is brought to the trial court by the NBI. In its order of
always subject to postponements and other causes said date, the trial court pointed out that the
of delay. But in the absence of a showing that prosecution could move to "reopen" the case for
delays were unreasonable and capricious, the the taking of Abratique's testimony. 90 On May 7,
State should not be deprived of a reasonable 1999, the prosecution so moved, stressing that it
opportunity of prosecuting an accused. 83 had not yet formally offered its evidence and that
the substantial rights of the accused would not be
Appellant next contends that the trial court gravely prejudiced inasmuch as the latter had yet to
abused its discretion, and exhibited partiality, when present his evidence. Appellant filed no opposition
it allowed the reopening of the case after the to the motion. The trial court granted the motion six
prosecution had failed to present Abratique on days later. Plainly, there was nothing to reopen, as
several occasions and had been directed to rest its the prosecution had not formally rested its case.
case. Appellant stresses that the lower court's order Moreover, the taking of Abratique's testimony was
to reopen the case to receive Abratique's further not for the purpose of presenting additional
testimony is an indication that the trial court evidence, but more properly for the completion of
favored the prosecution and unduly prejudiced his unfinished testimony. In U.S. vs. Base, 91 we held
appellant. that a trial court is not in error, if it opts to reopen
the proceedings of a case, even after both sides
On appellee's behalf, the Solicitor General points had rested and the case submitted for decision, by
out that the trial court's order was in the interest of the calling of additional witnesses or recalling of
substantial justice and hence, cannot be termed as witnesses so as to satisfy the judge's mind with
an abuse of discretion. The OSG points out that the reference to particular facts involved in the case. A
prosecution had not formally rested its case and judge cannot be faulted should he require a
had yet to present its formal offer of evidence, material witness to complete his testimony, which is
hence, the submission of additional testimony by what happened in this case. It is but proper that the
the same witness cannot be prejudicial to the judge's mind be satisfied on any and all questions
accused, it being but the mere continuation of an presented during the trial, in order to serve the
uncompleted testimony. Furthermore, appellant did cause of justice.
not properly oppose the prosecution's motion to
reopen the case. Appellant's claim that the trial court's concession to
"reopen" the case unduly prejudiced him is not well
At the time Criminal Cases Nos. 15800-R and 15822- taken. We note that appellant had every
R were being tried, the 1985 Rules of Criminal opportunity to present his evidence to support his
Procedure were in effect. There was no specific case or to refute the prosecution's evidence point-
provision at that time governing motions to reopen. by-point, after the prosecution had rested its case.
84 Nonetheless, long and established usage has led In short, appellant was never deprived of his day in
to the recognition and acceptance of a motion to court. A day in court is the touchstone of the right
reopen. In view of the absence of a specific to due process in criminal justice. 92 Thus, we are
procedural rule, the only controlling guideline unable to hold that a grave abuse of discretion was
governing a motion to reopen was the paramount committed by the trial court when it ordered the so-
interests of justice. As a rule, the matter of called "reopening" in order to complete the
reopening of a case for reception of further testimony of a prosecution witness.
evidence after either prosecution or defense has
rested its case is within the discretion of the trial 3. On the Sufficiency of the Prosecution's Evidence
court. 85 However, a concession to a reopening In bidding for acquittal, appellant assails the
must not prejudice the accused or deny him the credibility of Abratique as a witness. Appellant insists
opportunity to introduce counter evidence. 86 that Abratique's testimony is profuse with lies,
contrary to human nature, hence incredible.
Strictly speaking, however, there was no reopening According to appellant, Abratique was evasive
of the cases in the proceedings below. A motion to from the outset with respect to certain questions of
reopen may properly be presented only after either the trial court. He adds that it appeared the court
or both parties have formally offered and closed entertained in particular the suspicion that witness
their evidence, but before judgment. 87 In the Abratique had conspired with appellant in
instant case, the records show that on April 19, committing the crime charged. Appellant questions
1999, the prosecution was directed to close its Abratique's motive in informing the NBI about his
evidence and given 15 days to make its formal activities related to the marijuana taking, transfer,
offer of evidence. 88 This order apparently arose and warehousing.
from the manifestation of the prosecution on April
16, 1999 that should they fail to produce witness The OSG contends that Abratique's testimony,
Abratique on the next scheduled hearing the taken as a whole, is credible. It points out that
prosecution would rest its case. 89 On April 19, 1999, Abratique testified in a straightforward manner as
which was the next scheduled hearing after April to his knowledge of the huge cache of prohibited
16, 1999, Abratique was absent notwithstanding drugs stashed by appellant in two different places.
notices, orders, and warrants of arrest. However, on His testimony, said the OSG, when fused with the
April 27, 1999, or before the prosecution had physical evidence consisting of 591.81 kilograms of
formally offered its evidence, Abratique was marijuana found by law enforcers at appellant's
9|CONSTI2_Section14_Right to Speedy, Impartial and Public Trial
residence, inexorably leads to the inculpation of pursuant to a valid search warrant and hence, fully
appellant. admissible in evidence.

It is the bounden duty of the courts to test the In People v. de los Reyes, 239 SCRA 439 (1994), we
prosecution evidence rigorously, so that no held that the Dangerous Drugs Act applies
innocent person is made to suffer the unusually generally to all persons and proscribes the sale of
severe penalties meted out for drug offenses. 93 dangerous drugs by any person, and no person is
Though we scrutinized minutely the testimony of authorized to sell such drugs. Said doctrine is
Abratique, we find no cogent reason to disbelieve equally applicable with respect to possession of
him. From his account, Abratique might appear prohibited drugs. REPUBLIC ACT NO. 6425, which
aware treading the thin line between innocence penalizes the possession of prohibited drugs, applies
and feeling guilty, with certain portions of his story equally to all persons in this jurisdiction and no
tending to be self-exculpatory. However, his whole person is authorized to possess said articles, without
testimony could not be discredited. The established authority of law.
rule is that testimony of a witness may be believed
in part and disbelieved in other parts, depending Anent the third element, we have held that to
on the corroborative evidence and the warrant conviction, possession of illegal drugs must
probabilities and improbabilities of the case. But it is be with knowledge of the accused or that animus
accepted, as a matter of common sense, that if possidendi existed together with the possession or
certain parts of a witness' testimony are found true, control of said articles. 96 Nonetheless, this dictum
his testimony cannot be disregarded entirely. 94 must be read in consonance with our ruling that
possession of a prohibited drug per se constitutes
Abratique testified in open court that appellant prima facie evidence of knowledge or animus
rented the taxicab he was driving, and he helped possidendi sufficient to convict an accused absent
appellant transport huge amounts of marijuana to a satisfactory explanation of such possession. 97 In
appellant's rented room at No. 27 Dr. Cario St., effect, the onus probandi is shifted to accused to
Baguio City and to appellant's residence at Km. 6, explain the absence of knowledge or animus
Dontogan, Green Valley, Sto. Tomas, Baguio City. possidendi 98 in this situation.
He also declared on the witness stand that out of
fear of being involved, he decided to divulge his Appellant Modesto Tee opted not to testify in his
knowledge of appellant's possession of large defense. Instead, he presented his mother as his
caches of marijuana to the NBI. When the places lone witness, who testified on matters totally
referred to by Abratique were searched by the irrelevant to his case. We can only conclude that,
authorities, marijuana in staggering quantities was failing to discharge the burden of the evidence on
found and seized by the law enforcers. Stated the possession of prohibited drug, appellant's guilt
plainly, the physical evidence in this case in Criminal Case No. 15800-R was established
corroborated Abratique's testimony on material beyond reasonable doubt.
points.
4. On The Proper Penalty
Appellant imputes questionable motives to Under REPUBLIC ACT NO. 6425 as amended by
Abratique in an effort to discredit him. He demands Republic Act No. 7659, the penalty of reclusion
that Abratique should likewise be prosecuted. perpetua to death and a fine ranging from five
However, by no means is the possible guilt of hundred thousand pesos (P500,000.00) to ten million
Abratique a tenable defense for appellant. Nor pesos (P10,000,000.00) 99 shall be imposed if the
would Abratique's prosecution mean appellant's quantity of marijuana involved in a conviction for
absolution. possession of marijuana or Indian hemp shall be 750
grams or more. 100
In a prosecution for illegal possession of dangerous
drugs, the following facts must be proven with In the present case, the quantity of marijuana
moral certainty: (1) that the accused is in possession involved has been shown by the prosecution to be
of the object identified as prohibited or regulated far in excess of 750 grams, as stressed by the trial
drug; (2) that such possession is not authorized by court:
law; and (3) that the accused freely and
consciously possessed the said drug. 95 The volume is rather staggering. It is almost one
whole house or one whole room. In fact, when they
were first brought to the court, it took hours to load
them on the truck and hours also to unload them
We find the foregoing elements proven in Criminal prompting the court to direct that the boxes and
Case No. 15800-R beyond reasonable doubt. sack of marijuana be instead kept at the NBI office
in Baguio. And the identification of said marijuana
In said case, the testimony of Abratique and the during the trial was made in the NBI premises itself
recovery of 591.81 kilograms of marijuana from by the witnesses since it was physically
appellant's residence served to prove appellant's cumbersome and inconvenient to keep bringing
possession of a prohibited drug. Tests conducted by them to the court during every trial. 101
the NBI forensic chemist proved the seized articles
to be marijuana. These articles were seized
10 | C O N S T I 2 _ S e c t i o n 1 4 _ R i g h t t o S p e e d y , I m p a r t i a l a n d P u b l i c T r i a l
In sentencing appellant to death, the trial court (Flores v. People, G.R. No. L-25769, December 10,
noted not only the huge quantity of marijuana 1974)
bales involved, but also "the acts of accused of
hiding them in different places . . . and transferring SECOND DIVISION
them from place to place and making them
appear as boxes of cigarettes to avoid and evade [G.R. No. L-25769. December 10, 1974.]
apprehension and detection." They showed his
being a big supplier, said the trial court, [whose] FRANCISCO FLORES and FRANCISCO ANGEL,
criminal perversity and craft that "deserve the petitioners, vs. PEOPLE OF THE PHILIPPINES,
supreme penalty of death." 102 respondent.

We are unable to agree, however, with the penalty Arturo Zialcita for petitioner Francisco Flores.
imposed by the trial court. The legislature never
intended that where the quantity involved exceeds Zosimo Rivas for petitioner Francisco Angel.
those stated in Section 20 of REPUBLIC ACT NO.
6425 the maximum penalty of death shall Solicitor General Antonio P. Barredo and Solicitor
automatically be imposed. 103 The statute Vicente A. Torres for respondent.
prescribes two indivisible penalties: reclusion
perpetua and death. Hence, the penalty to be DECISION
imposed must conform with Article 63 104 of the
Revised Penal Code. As already held, the death FERNANDO, J p:
penalty law, Republic Act No. 7659 did not amend
Article 63 of the Revised Penal Code. 105 The rules A plea based on the constitutional right to a
in Article 63 apply although the prohibited drugs speedy trial 1 led this Court to act affirmatively on a
involved are in excess of the quantities provided for certiorari proceeding for the dismissal of a case
in Section 20 of REPUBLIC ACT NO. 6425. 106 Thus, then pending in the Court of Appeals. Considering
finding neither mitigating nor aggravating the length of time that had elapsed, it is readily
circumstances in the present case, appellant's discernible why an inquiry into the matter is well-
possession of 591.81 kilograms of marijuana in nigh unavoidable. The accusation for robbery
Criminal Case No. 15800-R, does not merit capital against petitioners Francisco Flores and Francisco
punishment but only the lesser penalty of reclusion Angel was filed as far back as December 31, 1951.
perpetua. The decision rendered on November 29, 1955 found
them guilty of the crime charged. The notice of
The trial court imposed a fine on appellant in the appeal was filed on December 8, 1955. 2 For a
sum of One Million Pesos (P1,000,000.00), without period of three years, until February 10, 1958, no
subsidiary imprisonment in case of insolvency. The action was taken by the Court of Appeals. On that
imposition of a fine is mandatory in cases of day, there was a resolution remanding the records
conviction of possession of illegal drugs. This being of the case to the lower court for a rehearing of the
within the limits allowed by the law, the amount of testimony of a certain witness deemed material for
the fine must be sustained. All these sanctions might the disposition of the case. 3 Such a resolution was
not remedy all the havoc wrought by prohibited amended by a second resolution dated August 5,
drugs on the moral fiber of our society, especially 1959, which granted the motion for counsel of
the youth. 107 But these penalties should warn appellants, now petitioners, to set aside the
peddlers of prohibited drugs that they cannot ply decision so that evidence for the defense on
their trade in our streets with impunity. certain new facts or matters may be received and
that a new decision in lieu of the old one may be
WHEREFORE, the decision of the Regional Trial Court rendered in accordance with the facts as found. 4
of Baguio City, Branch 6, in Criminal Case No. Accordingly, the case was returned to the lower
15800-R, convicting appellant MODESTO TEE alias court with the former decision set aside so that the
"ESTOY" TEE of violation of Section 8 of REPUBLIC ACT trial could be had, but nothing was done for about
NO. 6425, as amended, is AFFIRMED with the a year because the offended party failed to
MODIFICATION that appellant is hereby sentenced appear notwithstanding the six or seven dates set
to suffer the penalty of reclusion perpetua. The fine for such hearing. 5 It was further alleged that when
of ONE MILLION (P1,000,000.00) PESOS imposed on thereafter he did take the witness stand, his
him is sustained. Appellant is likewise directed to testimony was far from satisfactory, characterized
pay the costs of suit. IEHTaA as a mere "fiasco" as he could no longer remember
the details of the alleged crime, there was even a
SO ORDERED. failure to identify the two accused. 6 Instead of
rendering a new decision, the former one having
Davide, Jr., C.J., Bellosillo, Puno, Vitug, Mendoza, been set aside as required by the Court of Appeals,
Panganiban, Ynares-Santiago, Sandoval-Gutierrez, the lower court merely sent back the records to the
Carpio, Austria-Martinez, Corona, Carpio-Morales, appellate tribunal. 7 At that stage, five more years
Callejo, Sr. and Azcuna, JJ ., concur. having elapsed without anything being done,
petitioners sought the dismissal of the cases against
them due to such inordinate delay in their
disposition, which covered the period of December
11 | C O N S T I 2 _ S e c t i o n 1 4 _ R i g h t t o S p e e d y , I m p a r t i a l a n d P u b l i c T r i a l
8, 1955 to May 10, 1965, a period of almost a where it was shown that the criminal case had
decade; thus did they invoke their constitutional been dragging on for almost five years and that
right to a speedy trial. 8 Respondent Court of when the trial did finally take place, it was tainted
Appeals was unresponsive, notwithstanding the by irregularities, this Court set aside the appealed
vigorous plea on the part of counsel for petitioners, decision of conviction and acquitted the accused.
its last order being a denial of a second motion for As was pointed out by the ponente, Justice Laurel:
reconsideration dated January 28, 1966. In the "The Government should be the last to set an
answer on behalf of the People of the Philippines, example of delay and oppression in the
the facts as above set forth were substantially administration of justice and it is the moral and legal
admitted. However, a special and affirmative obligation of this court to see that the criminal
defense raised was that the case was not properly proceedings against the accused come to an end
captioned, as the People of the Philippines, against and that they be immediately discharged from the
whom it is filed, is not a tribunal or an office custody of the law." 16 It was on the basis of the
exercising Judicial functions and that without the above judgment that the dismissal of a second
Court of Appeals being made a party to the information for frustrated homicide was ordered by
petition, it cannot be said that it stated facts this Court, where the evidence disclosed that the
sufficient to constitute a cause of action. Moreover, first information had been dismissed after a lapse of
on the merits, the view was expressed that under one year and seven months from the time the
the circumstances, it was not adequately shown original complaint was filed during which time on
that the right to a speedy trial had been violated, the three occasions the case was set for trial, the
as the Court of Appeals had taken all the steps private prosecutor twice asked for postponements
necessary to complete the transcript of and once the trial court itself cancelled the entire
stenographic notes of the original trial. calendar for the month it was supposed to have
been heard. 17 The same result followed in Esguerra
On the above undisputed facts, there is more than v. De la Costa, 18 where the first complaint was
sufficient warrant for the conclusion that the right to filed on August 29, 1936, the accused having been
a speedy trial, so zealously guarded in both the criminally prosecuted for an alleged abuse of
1935 and the present Constitutions, had not been chastity in a justice of the peace court but after
accorded due respect. There is thus merit in the over a year and three months, with the lower court
petition. twice dismissing the case, he still had to face trial for
the same offense on a new information, thus
1. The constitutional right to a speedy trial, as was compelling him to resort to a mandamus suit to
noted in a recent decision, Acebedo v. Sarmiento, compel the lower court to terminate the case was
9 "means one free from vexatious, capricious and his right to a speedy trial was violated, a remedy
oppressive delays, . . ." 10 Thus, if the person deemed appropriate by this Court.
accused were innocent, he may within the shortest
time possible be spared from anxiety and There was another occasion where Justice Laurel
apprehension arising from a prosecution, and if spoke for this Court on this specific issue. That was in
culpable, he will not be kept long in suspense as to Mercado v. Santos. 19 Here, for a period of about
the fate in store for him, within a period of course twenty months, the accused was arrested four
compatible with his opportunity to present any valid times on the charge of falsifying his deceased wife's
defense. As was also pointed out in Sarmiento: "The will. Twice, the complaints were subsequently
remedy in the event of a non-observance of this withdrawn. The third time he was prosecuted on the
right is by habeas corpus if the accused were same charge, he was able to obtain a dismissal.
restrained of his liberty, or by certiorari, prohibition, Then came on the part of the provincial fiscal, a
or mandamus for the final dismissal of the case." 11 motion for reinvestigation. The lower court was in a
The above ruling is a reiteration of the doctrine receptive mood. It ordered that the case be heard
announced, even before the 1935 Constitution, in on the merits. The accused moved to dismiss, but
Conde v. Rivera, 12 a 1924 decision. In that case, he did not succeed. He tried the Court of Appeals,
Justice Malcolm announced categorically that the but he failed again. He elevated the matter to this
trial, to comply with the requirement of the then Court; he prevailed. It was stressed in Justice
organic law, the Philippine Autonomy Act, must be Laurel's opinion: "An accused person is entitled to a
"free from vexatious, capricious, and oppressive trial at the earliest opportunity. . . . He cannot be
delays." 13 Further: "We lay down the legal oppressed by delaying the commencement of trial
proposition that, where a prosecuting officer, for an unreasonable length of time. If the
without good cause, secures postponements of the proceedings pending trial are deferred, the trial
trial of a defendant against his protest beyond a itself is necessarily delayed." 20 The opinion likewise
reasonable period of time, as in this instance for considered as not decisive the fact that the
more than a year, the accused is entitled to relief provincial fiscal did not intervene until an
by a proceeding in mandamus to compel a information was filed charging the accused with
dismissal of the information, or if he be restrained of the crime of falsification the third time. Thus: "The
his liberty, by habeas corpus to obtain his freedom." Constitution does not say that the right to a speedy
14 trial may be availed of only where the prosecution
for crime is commenced and undertaken by the
In the first Supreme Court decision after the 1935 fiscal. It does not exclude from its operation cases
Constitution took effect, People v. Castaeda, 15 commenced by private individuals. Where once a
12 | C O N S T I 2 _ S e c t i o n 1 4 _ R i g h t t o S p e e d y , I m p a r t i a l a n d P u b l i c T r i a l
person is prosecuted criminally, he is entitled to a the apt language of the then Justice, now Chief
speedy trial, irrespective of the nature of the Justice, Makalintal, "technicalities should give way
offense or the manner in which it is authorized to be to the realities of the situation." 23
commenced." 21 The latest decision in point,
Acebedo v. Sarmiento, 22 presented an even WHEREFORE, the petition for certiorari is granted,
clearer case. The information for damage to and the order of the Court of Appeals in CA-GR No.
property was filed on August 3, 1959. There the 16641-R entitled, People v. Francisco Flores, et al., of
matter rested until May 19, 1965, when the accused September 28, 1965 denying the motion to dismiss
moved to dismiss. The lower court denied the as well as its order of January 8, 1966 denying the
motion in his order of July 10, 1965. Two more years motion for reconsideration, and the order of
elapsed, the period now covering almost eight January 28, 1966 denying the second motion for
years, when the trial was commenced. When one reconsideration are hereby set aside, nullified, and
of the witnesses for the prosecution failed to considered of no force and effect. The criminal
appear, the provincial fiscal sought the case against petitioners in the aforesaid CA-GR No.
postponement, but the accused countered with a 16641-R are ordered dismissed. Costs de oficio.
motion for dismissal. The lower court acceded, and
this Court sustained him, even if thereafter it Makalintal, C.J., Fernandez and Aquino, JJ., concur.
changed its mind and reinstated the case.
Barredo, J., did not take part.
Petitioners can thus invoke the constitutional
guarantee that the trial should be speedy. In the (Conde v. Rivera, G.R. No. 21741, January 25, 1924)
absence of any valid decision, the stage of trial has
not been completed. In this case then, as of May FIRST DIVISION
10, 1965, when they moved to dismiss in the Court
of Appeals, petitioners could validly contend that [G.R. No. 21741. January 25, 1924.]
they had not been accorded their right to be tried
as promptly as circumstances permit. It was not the AURELIA CONDE, petitioner, vs. PABLO RIVERA,
pendency in the Court of Appeals of their cases acting provincial fiscal of Tayabas, and FEDERICO
that should be deemed material. It is at times M. UNSON, justice of the peace of Lucena,
unavoidable that appellate tribunals cannot, even Tayabas, respondents.
with due diligence, put an end to suits elevated to
them. What is decisive is that with the setting aside Godofredo Reyes for petitioner.
of the previous decision in the resolution of August
5, 1959, petitioners could validly premise their plea Attorney-General Villa-Real for respondents
for dismissal on this constitutional safeguard. That is
the sole basis for the conclusion reached by us SYLLABUS
considering the controlling doctrine announced
with such emphasis by this Court time and time 1. CONSTITUTIONAL LAW; CRIMINAL PROCEDURE;
again. SPEEDY TRIAL. Philippine organic and statutory
law expressly guarantee that in all criminal
prosecutions the accused shall enjoy the right to
have a speedy trial.
2. That is about all that needs be said. The crucial 2. ID.; ID. The Government of the Philippine
issue has been met. The decisive question has been Islands should be the last to set an example of
answered. There is an affirmation of the worth of the delay and oppression in the administration of
constitutional right to a speedy trial. Not too much justice.
significance should be attached to the procedural 3. ID.; ID.; ID.; MANDAMUS; HABEAS CORPUS.
defect pointed out in the answer of the People of WHERE A Prosecuting officer, without good cause,
the Philippines that the Court of Appeals should secures postponements of the trial of a defendant
have been made the party respondent. What against his protest beyond a reasonable period of
cannot be sanctioned was its failure to accord time, as in this instance for more than a year, the
respect to this particular constitutional right. It did accused is entitled to relief by a proceeding in
amount at the very least to a grave abuse of mandamus to compel a dismissal of the
discretion. Whatever deficiency in the pleading information, or if he be restrained of his liberty, by
may then be singled out, it cannot obscure the habeas corpus to obtain his freedom.
obvious disregard of one of the most important DECISION
safeguards granted an accused. To deny
petitioners the remedy sought would be to exalt MALCOLM, J p:
form over substance. At any rate, the petition could
be considered, and rightly so, as being directed at Aurelia Conde, formerly a municipal midwife in
the Court of Appeals. Moreover, the defenses that Lucena, Tayabas, has been forced to respond to
could have interposed to justify the action taken no less the five information for various crimes and
were invoked by the People of the Philippines. They misdemeanors, has appeared with her witnesses
certainly did not avail. Our decisions on the right to and counsel at hearings no less than on eight
a speedy Trial speak too categorically to be different occasions only to see the cause
misread. This is one of those situations then where, in postponed, has twice been required to come to
13 | C O N S T I 2 _ S e c t i o n 1 4 _ R i g h t t o S p e e d y , I m p a r t i a l a n d P u b l i c T r i a l
the Supreme Court for protection, and now, after (Speedy Trial Act of 1998, REPUBLIC ACT NO. 8493
the passage of more than one year from the time [1998])
when the first information was filed, seems as far
away from a definite resolution of her troubles as REPUBLIC ACT NO. 8493
she was when originally charged.
Philippine organic and statutory law expressly AN ACT TO ENSURE A SPEEDY TRIAL OF ALL
guarantee that in all criminal prosecutions the CRIMINAL CASES BEFORE THE SANDIGANBAYAN,
accused shall enjoy the right to have a speedy trial. REGIONAL TRIAL COURT, METROPOLITAN TRIAL
Aurelia Conde, like all other accused persons, has a COURT, MUNICIPAL TRIAL COURT, AND MUNICIPAL
right to a speedy trial in order that if innocent she CIRCUIT TRIAL COURT, APPROPRIATING FUNDS
may go free, and she has been deprived of that THEREFOR, AND FOR OTHER PURPOSES
right in defiance of law. Dismissed from her humble
position, and compelled to dance attendance on SECTION 1. Title. This Act shall be known as the
courts while investigations and trials are arbitrarily "Speedy Trial Act of 1998."
postponed without her consent, is pal palpably and
openly unjust to her and a detriment to the public. SECTION 2. Mandatory Pre-Trial in Criminal Cases.
By the use of upon the appropriate information, In all criminal cases cognizable by the Municipal
could have attended to the formal preliminary Trial Court, Municipal Circuit Trial Court,
examination, and could have prepared the case Metropolitan Trial Court, Regional Trial Court, and
for a trial free from vexatious, capricious, and the Sandiganbayan, the justice or judge shall, after
oppressive delays. arraignment, order a pre-trial conference to
consider the following:
Once before, as intimated, the petitioner had to
come to us for redress of her grievances. We (a) Plea bargaining;
thought then we had pointed out the way for the
parties. We hope propose to do all in our power to (b) Stipulation of Facts;
assist this poor woman to obtain justice. On the one
hand has been the petitioner, of humble station, (c) Marking for identification of evidence of parties;
without resources, but fortunately assisted by a
persistent lawyer, while on the other hand has been (d) Waiver of objections to admissibility of
the Government of the Philippine Island s which evidence; and
should be the last to set an example of delay and
oppression in the administration of justice. The Court (e) Such other matters as will promote a fair and
is thus under a moral and legal obligation to see expeditious trial.
that these proceedings come to an end and that
the accused is discharged from the custody of the SECTION 3. Pre-Trial Agreement. All agreements
law. or admissions made or entered into during the pre-
We lay down the legal proposition that, where a trial conference shall be reduced to writing and
prosecuting officer, without good cause, secures signed by the accused and counsel, otherwise the
postponements of the trial of a defendant against same shall not be used in evidence against the
his protest beyond a reasonable period of time, as accused. The agreements in relation to matters
in this instance for more than a year, the accused is referred to in Section 2 hereof is subject to the
entitled to relief by a proceeding in mandamus to approval of the court: Provided, That the
compel a dismissal of the information, or if he be agreement on the plea of the accused to a lesser
restrained of his liberty, by habeas corpus to obtain offense may only be revised, modified, or annulled
his freedom. (16 C.J., 439 et seq.; In the matter of by the court when the same is contrary to law,
Ford [1911], 160 Cal., 334; U.S. vs. Fox [1880], 3 public morals, or public policy.
Montana, 512. See further our previous decision in
Conde vs. Judge of First Instance, Fourteenth SECTION 4. Nonappearance at Pre-Trial
Judicial District, and the Provincial Fiscal of Conference. Where counsel for the accused or
Tayabas, No. 21236. 1 the prosecutor does not appear at the pre-trial
The writ prayed for shall issue and the Provincial conference and does not offer an acceptable
Fiscal of Tayabas shall abstain from further attempts excuse for his/her lack of cooperation, the pre-trial
to prosecute the accused pursuant to informations justice or judge may impose proper sanctions or
growing out of the facts set forth in previous in penalties.
formations, and the charges now pending before
the justice of the of Lucena, Tayabas, are ordered SECTION 5. Pre-Trial Order. After the pre-trial
dismissed, with costs against the respondent fiscal. conference, the court shall issue an order reciting
We append to our order the observation that, the actions taken, the facts stipulated, and
without doubt, the Attorney-General, being fully evidence marked. Such order shall bind the parties,
cognizant of the facts of record, will take such limit the trial to matters not disposed of and control
administrative action as to him seems proper to the the course of action during the trial, unless modified
end that incidents of this character may not recur. by the court to prevent manifest injustice.
So ordered.
Araullo, C. J., Johnson, Street, Avancea, Ostrand, SECTION 6. Time Limit for Trial. In criminal cases
Johns, and Romualdez, JJ., concur. involving persons charged of a crime, except those
14 | C O N S T I 2 _ S e c t i o n 1 4 _ R i g h t t o S p e e d y , I m p a r t i a l a n d P u b l i c T r i a l
subject to the Rules on Summary Procedure, or (a) Any period of delay resulting from other
where the penalty prescribed by law does not proceedings concerning the accused, including
exceed six (6) months imprisonment, or a fine of but not limited to the following:
One thousand pesos (P1,000.00) or both,
irrespective of other imposable penalties, the justice (1) delay resulting from an examination of the
or judge shall, after consultation with the public accused, and hearing on his/her mental
prosecutor and the counsel for the accused, set competency, or physical incapacity;
the case for continuous trial on a weekly or other
short-term trial calendar at the earliest possible time (2) delay resulting from trials with respect to charges
so as to ensure speedy trial. In no case shall the against the accused;
entire trial period exceed one hundred eighty (180)
days from the first day of trial, except as otherwise (3) delay resulting from interlocutory appeals;
authorized by the Chief Justice of the Supreme
Court pursuant to Section 3, Rule 22 of the Rules of (4) delay resulting from hearings on pre-trial
Court. motions: Provided, That the delay does not exceed
thirty (30) days;
SECTION 7. Time Limit Between Filing of Information
and Arraignment, and Between Arraignment and (5) delay resulting from orders of inhibition, or
Trial. The arraignment of an accused shall be proceedings relating to change of venue of cases
held within thirty (30) days from the filing of the or transfer from other courts;
information, or from the date the accused has
appeared before the justice, judge or court in (6) delay resulting from a finding of the existence of
which the charge is pending, whichever date last a valid prejudicial question; and
occurs. Thereafter, where a plea of not guilty is
entered, the accused shall have at least fifteen (15) (7) delay reasonably attributable to any period, not
days to prepare for trial. Trial shall commence within to exceed thirty (30) days, during which any
thirty (30) days from arraignment as fixed by the proceeding concerning the accused is actually
court. under advisement.

If the accused pleads not guilty to the crime (b) Any period of delay resulting from the absence
charged, he/she shall state whether he/she or unavailability of the accused or an essential
interposes a negative or affirmative defense. A witness.
negative defense shall require the prosecution to
prove the guilt of the accused beyond reasonable For purposes of this subparagraph, an accused or
doubt, while an affirmative defense may modify the an essential witness shall be considered absent
order of trial and require the accused to prove such when his/her whereabouts are unknown and, in
defense by clear and convincing evidence. addition, he/she is attempting to avoid
apprehension or prosecution or his/her
SECTION 8. Time Limit Following an Order for New whereabouts cannot be determined by due
Trial. If the accused is to be tried again following diligence. An accused or an essential witness shall
an order of a court for a new trial, the trial shall be considered unavailable whenever his/her
commence within thirty (30) days from the date the whereabouts are known but his/her presence for
order for a new trial becomes final, except that the trial cannot be obtained by due diligence or
court retrying the case may extend such period but he/she resists appearing at or being returned for
in any case shall not exceed one hundred eighty trial.
(180) days from the date the order for a new trial (c) Any period of delay resulting from the fact that
becomes final if unavailability of witnesses or other the accused is mentally incompetent or physically
factors resulting from passage of time shall make unable to stand trial.
trial within thirty (30) days impractical.
(d) If the information is dismissed upon motion of the
SECTION 9. Extended Time Limit. Notwithstanding prosecution and thereafter a charge is filed against
the provisions of Section 7 of this Act, for the first the accused for the same offense, or any offense
twelve-calendar-month period following its required to be joined with that offense, any period
effectivity, the time limit with respect to the period of delay from the date the charge was dismissed to
from arraignment to trial imposed by Section 7 of the date the time limitation would commence to
this Act shall be one hundred eighty (180) days. For run as to the subsequent charge had there been
the second twelve-month period the time limit shall no previous charge.
be one hundred twenty (120) days, and for the third
twelve-month period the time limit with respect to (e) A reasonable period of delay when the
the period from arraignment to trial shall be eighty accused is joined for trial with a co-accused over
(80) days. whom the court has not acquired jurisdiction, or as
to whom the time for trial has not run and no
SECTION 10. Exclusions. The following periods of motion for severance has been granted.
delay shall be excluded in computing the time
within which trial must commence: (f) Any period of delay resulting from a continuance
granted by any justice or judge motu propio or on
15 | C O N S T I 2 _ S e c t i o n 1 4 _ R i g h t t o S p e e d y , I m p a r t i a l a n d P u b l i c T r i a l
motion of the accused or his/her counsel or at the (c) Upon receipt of such notice, the public attorney
request of the public prosecutor, if the justice or shall promptly seek to obtain the presence of the
judge granted such continuance on the basis of prisoner for trial.
his/her findings that the ends of justice served by
taking such action outweigh the best interest of the
public and the defendant in a speedy trial. No such
period of delay resulting from a continuance (d) When the person having custody of the prisoner
granted by the court in accordance with this receives from the public attorney a properly
subparagraph shall be excludable under this supported request for temporary custody of the
section unless the court sets forth, in the record of prisoner for trial, the prisoner shall be made
the case, either orally or in writing, its reasons for available to that public attorney.
finding that the ends of justice served by the
granting of such continuance outweigh the best SECTION 13. Remedy Where Accused is Not Brought
interests of the public and the accused in a speedy to Trial Within the Time Limit. If an accused is not
trial. brought to trial within the time limit required by
Section 7 of this Act as extended by Section 9, the
SECTION 11. Factors for Granting Continuance. information shall be dismissed on motion of the
The factors, among others, which a justice or judge accused. The accused shall have the burden of
shall consider in determining whether to grant a proof of supporting such motion but the
continuance under subparagraph (f) of Section 10 prosecution shall have the burden of going forward
of this Act are as follows: with the evidence in connection with the exclusion
of time under Section 10 of this Act.
(a) Whether the failure to grant such a continuance
in the proceeding would be likely to make a In determining whether to dismiss the case with or
continuation of such proceeding impossible, or without prejudice, the court shall consider, among
result in a miscarriage of justice. cdtai other factors, the seriousness of the offense, the
facts and circumstances of the case which led to
(b) Whether the case taken as a whole is so novel, the dismissal, and the impact of a reprosecution on
so unusual and so complex, due to the number of the implementation of this Act and on the
accused or the nature of the prosecution or administration of justice. Failure of the accused to
otherwise, that it is unreasonable to expect move for dismissal prior to trial or entry of a plea of
adequate preparation within the periods of time guilty shall constitute a waiver of the right to
established by this Act. dismissal under this section.

No continuance under subparagraph (f) of Section SECTION 14. Sanctions. In any case in which
10 shall be granted because of general congestion counsel for the accused, the public prosecution or
of the court's calendar, or lack of diligent public attorney:
preparation or failure to obtain available witnesses
on the part of the public prosecutor. (a) knowingly allows the case to be set for trial
without disclosing the fact that a necessary witness
SECTION 12. Public Attorney's Duties Where would be unavailable for trial;
Accused is Imprisoned. If the public attorney
knows that a person charged of a crime is (b) files a motion solely for the purpose of delay
preventively detained, either because he/she is which he/she knows is totally frivolous and without
charged of a bailable crime and has no means to merit;
post bail, or is charged of a non-bailable crime, or is
serving a term of imprisonment in any penal (c) makes a statement for the purpose of obtaining
institution, the public attorney shall promptly: continuance which he/she knows to be false and
which is material to the granting of a continuance;
(a) Undertake to obtain the presence of the or
prisoner for trial, or cause a notice to be served on
the person having custody of the prisoner (d) otherwise willfully fails to proceed to trial without
mandating such person to so advise the prisoner of justification consistent with the provisions of this Act,
his/her right to demand trial. the court may, without prejudice to any
appropriate criminal and/or administrative charges
(b) Upon receipt of a notice, the person having to be instituted by the proper party against the
custody of the prisoner shall promptly advise the erring counsel if and when warranted, punish any
prisoner of the charge and of his/her right to such counsel or attorney, as follows:
demand trial. If at any time thereafter the prisoner
informs the person having custody that he/she (1) in the case of a counsel privately retained in
demands trial, such person shall cause notice to connection with the defense of an accused, by
that effect to be sent promptly to the public imposing a fine not exceeding fifty percent (50%) of
attorney. the compensation to which he/she is entitled in
connection with his/her defense of the accused;

16 | C O N S T I 2 _ S e c t i o n 1 4 _ R i g h t t o S p e e d y , I m p a r t i a l a n d P u b l i c T r i a l
(2) by imposing on any appointed counsel de (Mateo, Jr. v. Villaluz, G.R. Nos. L-34756-59, March
officio or public prosecutor a fine not exceeding 31, 1973)
Ten thousand pesos (10,000.00); and
FIRST DIVISION
(3) by denying any defense counsel or public
prosecutor the right to practice before the court [G.R. Nos. L-34756-59. March 31, 1973.]
considering the case for a period not exceeding
thirty (30) days. MANUEL MATEO, JR., ROBERTO MARTINEZ alias
RUBEN MARTINEZ, ENRIQUE CONCEPClON and
The authority to punish provided for by this section ESMERALDO CRUZ, petitioners, vs. HON. ONOFRE
shall be in addition to any other authority or power VILLALUZ, as Judge of the Circuit Criminal Court,
available to the court. The court shall follow the Seventh Judicial District, respondents.
procedures established in the Rules of Court in
punishing any counsel or public prosecutor Jose W. Diokno, Apolinar S. Fojas, Sixto F. Santiago
pursuant to this section. and Damian S. Villaseca for petitioners.

SECTION 15. Rules and Regulations. The Supreme Solicitor General Estelito P. Mendoza, Assistant
Court shall promulgate rules, regulations, Solicitor General Octavio R. Ramierz and Solicitor
administrative orders and circulars which shall seek Guillermo C. Nakar, Jr. for respondent.
to accelerate the disposition of criminal cases. The
rules, regulations, administrative orders and circulars DECISION
formulated shall provide sanctions against justices
and judges who willfully fail to proceed to trial FERNANDO, J p:
without justification consistent with the provisions of
this Act. The novel issue presented in this prohibition
proceeding arose from the gnawing fear that the
SECTION 16. Funding. For the effective prized ideal of "the cold neutrality of an impartial
implementation of the rules, regulations, judge" 1 implicit in the due process guarantee may
administrative orders and circulars promulgated be set at naught. Petitioners are among being tried
under this Act, the amount of Twenty million pesos by respondent Judge for the offense of robbery in
(P20,000,000.00) annually shall be appropriated band with homicide. Thereafter, an extrajudicial
from the allocation of the Supreme Court under the statement by one Rolando Reyes, who was later on
General Appropriations Act. Thereafter, such likewise indicted for the same offense, implicating
additional amounts as may be necessary for its petitioners, was subscribed before respondent
continued implementation shall be included in the Judge. That was the background of a motion for his
annual General Appropriations Act. disqualification, as the aforesaid Rolando Reyes,
when called upon to testify as an additional witness
SECTION 17. Act Not a Bar to Speedy Trial Claim for the prosecution impugned his written
Under the Constitution. No provision of this Act declaration stating that it was executed as a result
shall be interpreted as a bar to any claim of denial of a threat by a government agent. It is now
of speedy trial as required by Article III, Section 14(2) contended that such a repudiation would not sit
of the 1987 Constitution. Cdpr well with respondent Judge, who had thus placed
himself in a position of being unable to pass on such
SECTION 18. Repealing Clause. All laws, question with that degree of objectivity required by
presidential decrees, executive orders, rules and due process, although admittedly, such a move did
regulations or parts thereof inconsistent with the not fall squarely within one of the specific grounds
provisions of this Act are hereby repealed or to inhibit judges. 2 Respondent Judge turned down
modified accordingly. this plea for disqualification. Hence this petition,
based on the asserted violation of a constitutional
SECTION 19. Separability Clause. In case any right not to be convicted of an offense without due
provision of this Act is declared unconstitutional, the process of law. This Court, after t careful
other provisions shall remain in effect. consideration of the matter and in the light of past
decisions to be hereafter noted, looks upon such
SECTION 20. Effectivity. This Act shall take effect failure of respondent Judge to disqualify himself as
after fifteen (15) days following its publication in the a grave abuse of discretion correctible by
Official Gazette or in any newspaper of general prohibition. The petition is meritorious.
circulation: Provided, That Section 7 of this Act shall
become effective after the expiration of the The facts, in the language of the petition, follow:
aforementioned third-calendar-month period "On or about June 4, 1971, the American Express
provided in Section 9 of this Act. Bank at Sangley Point, Cavite, was robbed and an
American serviceman was killed. In connection with
Approved: February 12, 1998 that robbery, and the death of the serviceman, four
(4) criminal actions were filed against petitioners
and docketed as Criminal Cases Nos. CCC-VII-843
to 846, Cavite, for robbery in band with homicide,
all captioned 'People of the Philippines, Plaintiff, vs.
17 | C O N S T I 2 _ S e c t i o n 1 4 _ R i g h t t o S p e e d y , I m p a r t i a l a n d P u b l i c T r i a l
Manuel Mateo, et al., Accused' . . . The Information is well settled jurisprudence in this jurisdiction and
fell in the sala of the Honorable Respondent Judge elsewhere that it is within the sound discretion of the
because the complaints were filed there; and, in court whether or not to allow the presentation of
fact, it was the Honorable Respondent Judge who additional evidence after the parties have rested
ordered District State Prosecutor Cornelio their case.' . . . On February 3, 1972, the prosecution
Melendres [or] Assistant City Fiscal Enrique A. Cube called Rolando Reyes as an additional witness, and
to conduct the preliminary investigation. Petitioners in the course of his testimony, marked an
Manuel Mateo, Jr. and Esmeraldo Cruz were extrajudicial statement purportedly executed by
arraigned on June 24, 1971 while petitioners him on October 1, 1971 as Exh. 'P' . . . Rolando
Roberto Martinez @ Ruben Martinez filed a Motion Reyes repudiated it, stated that he had executed it
To Dismiss on the ground of "insufficiency of because he had been threatened by a
evidence for failure of prosecution (1) to prove the government agent. The statement, Exh. 'P' . . . ,
existence of conspiracy, and (2) to identify the purports to have been subscribed and sworn to
accused by competent evidence.' On September before the respondent Judge on October 1, 1971.
25, 1971, petitioner Roberto Martinez @ Ruben As soon as the foregoing facts were made of
Martinez amplified his motion to dismiss with a record in the case, defendants [petitioners herein]
Supplemental Motion based on the claim that 'the verbally moved to suspend the proceedings to
pre-trial identification by prosecution witness Elliot enable them to file a motion to disqualify the
Grey of your accused Roberto Martinez in a police Honorable Respondent Judge; and the motion for
line-up in the absence of defendant's counsel is suspension was granted. On February 5, 1971,
unconstitutional; and the in-court testimony of said petitioners filed a Joint Motion for Disqualification of
Elliot Grey identifying your accused Roberto respondent Judge contending that respondent
Martinez is inadmissible in evidence and should be Judge 'in the exercise of his sound discretion
stricken out from the records'. The prosecution [should] disqualify himself from sitting in this case
opposed the motion to dismiss. To date, the motions under the second paragraph of Section 1 of Rule
to dismiss have not been decided by the 137 of the Rules of Court,' because Rolando Reyes
Honorable Respondent Judge . . . In the meantime, had repudiated the statement that he, Reyes, had
another suspect in the Sangley Point Robbery sworn to before the Honorable Respondent Judge
one Rolando Reyes was arrested. On October 5, and the latter perforce would have to pass upon
1971, when petitioner's Motion to Dismiss together that repudiation . . . On February 11, 1972, the
with the Opposition thereto were submitted for prosecution filed an Opposition to petitioners' Joint
resolution, the Honorable Presiding Judge in an Motion for Disqualification . . . On February 12, 1972,
Order ruled that 'pursuant to Sec. 6, Rule 135 of the respondent Judge denied petitioners' Joint Motion
New Rules of Court, let the Motion to Dismiss be for Disqualification." 3
resolved until after the prosecution has presented
and rested its evidence as against Rolando Reyes . . The specific question raised not having been
. It appears that the said Rolando Reyes had passed upon previously, coupled with the
executed an extrajudicial statement on October 1, exhaustive petition submitted by counsel for
1971 and had signed and sworn to its truth before petitioners, Senator Jose W. Diokno, led this Court, in
the Honorable Respondent Judge; and, in that its resolution of February 25, 1972 to require
statement had implicated petitioners; evidently, the comment from respondent Judge, with a
Honorable Respondent Judge was aware of this, temporary restraining order likewise being issued.
and it was for this reason that he had deferred The then Solicitor General, now Associate Justice,
ruling on petitioner Ruben Martinez' motions and Felix Antonio, did so in an equally well-researched
supplemental motion to dismiss 'until after the pleading on March 16, 1972 which, by our resolution
prosecution has presented and rested its evidence of March 22, was considered his answer. Thereafter,
as against Rolando Reyes.' Rolando Reyes, with memoranda being submitted by both parties,
however, was tried separately from and in absence the case was deemed submitted for decision on
of petitioners; so that the proceedings against him August 4 last year. There is, to repeat, a highly
did not constitute evidence against petitioner. So, persuasive and scholarly quality in the manner in
on November 26, 1971, while petitioner Martinez' which the plea for petitioners was made.
Motion and Supplemental Motion to Dismiss Nonetheless, with due recognition of the imperative
remained unresolved, the prosecution filed a character of the safeguard of due process
'Motion to Present Additional Evidence.' . . . On connoting, at the very least, an impartial tribunal.
December 4, 1971, petitioner Manuel Mateo filed the Court cannot consider the circumstances
an Opposition to the prosecution's Motion to disclosed a sufficient to call for the disqualification
Present Additional Evidence on the ground that 'to of respondent Judge.
allow the prosecution to present additional
evidence in favor of the State after the prosecution 1.It is now beyond dispute that due process cannot
has rested, while the accused has a pending be satisfied in the absence of that degree of
motion to dismiss under consideration would be objectivity on the part of a judge sufficient to
prejudicial to the substantial rights of herein reassure litigants of his being fair al being just.
accused because it would effectively deprive him Thereby there is the legitimate expectation that the
of a fair trial.' . . . On December 24, 1971, decision arrived at would be the application of the
respondent Judge granted the prosecution's law to the facts as found by a judge who does not
'Motion to Present Additional Evidence' ruling that 'it play favorites. For him, the parties stand on equal
18 | C O N S T I 2 _ S e c t i o n 1 4 _ R i g h t t o S p e e d y , I m p a r t i a l a n d P u b l i c T r i a l
footing. In the language of Justice Dizon: "It has guidelines in a situation where their capacity to try
been said, in fact, that due process of law requires and decide a case fairly and judiciously comes to
a hearing before an impartial and disinterested the fore by way of challenge from any one of the
tribunal, and that every litigant is entitled to nothing parties. A judge may not be legally prohibited from
less than the cold neutrality of an impartial judge." 4 sitting in a litigation. But when suggestion is made of
He should, to quote from another decision "at all record that he might be induced to act in favor of
times manifest depth commitment and concern to one party or with bias or prejudice against a litigant
the cause of justice according to legal norms, a arising out of circumstance reasonably capable of
cerebral man who deliberately holds in check the inciting such a state of mind, he should conduct a
tug and pull of purely personal preferences and careful self-examination. He should exercise his
prejudices which he shares with the rest of his fellow discretion in a way that the peoples faith in the
mortals." 6 penned by Justice Castro, should strive courts of justice is not impaired. A salutary norm is
to be at all times "wholly free, disinterested, that he reflect the probability that a losing party
impartial and independent. Elementary due might nurture at the back of his mind the thought
process requires a hearing before an impartial and that the judge had unmeritoriously tilted the scales
disinterested tribunal. A judge has both the duty of of justice against him. That passion on the part
rendering a just decision and the duty of doing it in judge may be generated because of serious
a manner completely free from suspicion as to its charges misconduct against him by a suitor or his
fairness and as to his integrity." 7 Nor is this to imply counsel, is not altogether remote. He is a man,
that prior to Gutierrez, there had been no subject to the frailties of other men. He should,
awareness of the due process aspect of an therefore, exercise great care and caution before
impartial tribunal even if not explicitly referred to. As making up his mind to act or withdraw from a suit
noted by Justice Street as far back as 1926 in where that party or counsel is involved. He could in
Government v. Abella, 8 a 1926 decision, if the good grace inhibit himself where that case could
Supreme Court "were of the opinion that the litigant be heard by another judge and where no
had not had a fair trial, a new trial could be appreciable prejudice would be occasioned to
granted." 9 There was a reiteration of such a view in others involved therein. On the result of his decisions
a case decided in 1933, Dais v. Torres, 10 with to sit or not to sit may depend to a great extent the
Justice Vickers as ponente, in these words: all-important confidence in the impartiality of the
"Although a judge may not have been disqualified judiciary. If after reflection he should resolve to
[according to the Code of Civil Procedure], voluntarily desist from sit a case where his motives or
nevertheless if it appears to this court that the fairness might be seriously impugned, his action is to
appellant was not given a fair and impartial trial be interpreted as giving meaning and substance to
because of the trial judge's bias or prejudice, this the second paragraph of Section 1, Rule 137. He
court will order a new trial, if it deems it necessary, serves the cause of the law who forestalls
in the interest of justice." 11 miscarriage of justice." 14

3. The imperfections of human institutions being


such, what is fit and proper is not always achieved.
2. Conformably to what was so emphatically The invitation to judges to disqualify themselves is
asserted in Gutierrez as the fundamental requisite of not always heeded. For that matter, it is not always
impartiality for due process to be satisfied, the Rules desirable that they should do so. It could amount in
of Court provision on disqualification when revised certain cases to their being recreant to their trust.
three years later in 1964 contains this additional Justice Perfecto's warning is not to be ignored; "to
paragraph: "A judge may, in the exercise of his shirk the responsibility" entails "the risk of being
sound discretion, disqualify himself from sitting in a called upon to account for his dereliction." 15 It
case, for just or valid reasons other than those could be an instrument whereby a party could
mentioned above." 12 Thereby, it is made clear to inhibit a judge in the hope of getting another more
the occupants of the bench that outside of amenable to his persuasive skill. With all such
pecuniary interest, relationship or previous considerations in mind, there is still cogency in the
participation in the matter that calls for approach that would look with favor on the
adjudication, there may be other causes that could exercise of discretion in favor of disqualification,
conceivably erode the trait of objectivity, thus given the likelihood that bias or prejudice is
calling for inhibition. That is to betray a sense of unavoidable. Even before the amendment of
realism, for the factors that lead to preferences or Section 1 of Rule 137, this Court, in at least two
predilections are many and varied. It is well, decisions, 16 gave its approval to such a move.
therefore, that if any such should make its Then came People v. Gomez, 17 where this Court,
appearance and prove difficult to resist, the better the ponente being Justice J. P. Bengzon, held: "Now
course for a judge is to disqualify himself. That way, considering that the Revised Rules of Court, already
he avoids being misunderstood. His reputation for in effect when respondent Judge filed his answer
probity and objectivity is preserved. What is even herein containing the prayer to be disqualified from
more important, the ideal of an impartial the case, although not yet in effect when the
administration of justice is lived up to. Thus is due proceedings at issue were taken in the court below,
process vindicated. There is relevance to what was states in Section 1 of Rule 137 that, 'A judge may, in
said by Justice Sanchez in Pimentel v. Salanga, 13 the exercise of his sound discretion, disqualify
drawing "attention of all judges to appropriate himself from sitting in a case, for just or valid reasons'
19 | C O N S T I 2 _ S e c t i o n 1 4 _ R i g h t t o S p e e d y , I m p a r t i a l a n d P u b l i c T r i a l
other than the usual grounds for disqualification, this statement. Moreover, it is unlikely that he was not in
Court, after considering all the circumstances of the the slightest bit offended by the affiant's turnabout
case, finds as reasonable, respondent Judge's with his later declaration that there was intimidation
afore-stated request for disqualification from further by a government agent exerted on him. That was
sitting in the Richard case, and We rule that he is hardly flattering to respondent Judge. It is not only
thereby deemed, in light of the new Rules, to have that. His sense of fairness under the circumstances
inhibited himself from further taking cognizance of could easily be blunted. The absence of the
the case." 18 requisite due process element is thus noticeable.
There is this circumstance even more telling. It was
There is even greater deference paid to the due he who attested to its due execution on October 1,
process requirement of impartiality when, in Luque 1971 wherein Rolando Reyes admitted his
v. Kayanan, 19 decided in 1969, this Court, through participation in the crime and in addition
Justice Sanchez, could categorically rule: "All implicated petitioners. At that time, their motion for
suitors, we must say, are entitled to nothing short of dismissal of the charges against them was pending;
the cold neutrality of an independent, wholly-free, its resolution was deferred by respondent Judge
disinterested and impartial tribunal. It has been said until after the prosecution had presented and
that 'next in importance to the duty of rendering a rested its evidence against affiant, who was himself
righteous judgment is that of doing it in such a indicted and tried for the same offense, but in a
manner as will beget no suspicion of the fairness separate proceeding. It cannot be doubted then
and integrity of the judge.' Let it not be said that the that respondent Judge in effect ruled that such
administration of justice in this country suffers from extra-judicial statement was executed freely. With
too many human imperfections. To our mind, its repudiation on the ground that it was not so at
respondent judge should inhibit himself since it has all, coercion having come into the picture there is
become apparent that his further continuance in apparent the situation of a judge having to pass on
Case 4871 would not be in the best interest of a question that by implication had already been
justice, which he is bound to serve." 20 There was a answered by him. Such a fact became rather
reiteration of such a principle in Paredes v. obvious. For respondent Judge was called upon to
Gopengco, 21 where the following appears in the review a matter on which he had previously given
opinion of Justice Teehankee for the Court: "It is his opinion. It is this inroad in one's, objectivity that is
pertinent to state that the restriction provided in the sought to be avoided by the law on
Rule against appeal or stay of the proceedings disqualification. The misgivings then as to the
where the trial judge denies a motion for his requirement of due process for "the cold neutrality
disqualification is not an absolute rule even in civil of an impartial judge" not being met are more than
cases, and has not been taken as precluding a justified. Hence the conclusion reached by us.
resort in appropriate cases to the special civil
actions of prohibition and certiorari before the 5. To avoid any further controversies of this nature,
higher courts for determination, ahead of the lower court judges are well-advised to limit
judgment on the merits, whether the trial judge themselves to the task of adjudication and to leave
committed a grave abuse of discretion amounting to others the role of notarizing declarations. The less
to lack or excess of jurisdiction refusing to disqualify an occupant of the bench fritters away his time
himself." 22 There is thus respectable authority for and energy in tasks more incumbent on officials of
the view that with the possibility of a trial being the executive branch, the less the danger of his
tainted by partiality, this Court can step in to assure being a participant in any event that might lend
respect for the demands of due process. itself to the interpretation that his impartiality has
been compromised. There is much to be said for
4. Petitioners can assert then, and rightly so, that we displaying zeal and eagerness in stamping out
have the power to set aside the order denying the criminality, but that role is hardly fit for a judge who
motion for disqualification. While the discretion in must bide his time until the case is before him. He
the first instance belongs to respondent Judge, its must ever be on guard lest what is done by him,
exercise is subject to our corrective authority. even from the best of motives, may be thought of
Certainly, there can be no question its being as eroding that objectivity and sobriety which are
considered abused if it can be shown that to refuse the hallmarks of judicial conduct. Thus should he
inhibition is to cast valid doubts as to a court's attend to the performance of the sacred trust that
impartiality. The specific issue then that must be is his.
resolved is whether the circumstance of a party
having subscribed before respondent Judge an WHEREFORE, the petition for prohibition is granted.
extra-judicial statement purporting to describe the The restraining order is issued by this Court on
manner in which an offense was committed, later February 25, 1972 is made permanent. Without
on repudiated by him as the product of intimidation pronouncement as to costs.
in the course of his having been asked to testify
against petitioners, would suffice to negate that Makalintal, Zaldivar, Castro, Barredo, Makasiar,
degree of objectivity the Constitution requires? The Antonio and Esguerra, JJ., concur.
answer must be in the affirmative. Petitioners are Concepcion, C.J., concurs in this and the separate
thus entitled to the relief sought. Respondent Judge concurring opinion of Mr. Justice Teehankee.
could not be totally immune to what apparently Teehankee, J., concurs in a separate opinion.
was asserted before him in such extrajudicial
20 | C O N S T I 2 _ S e c t i o n 1 4 _ R i g h t t o S p e e d y , I m p a r t i a l a n d P u b l i c T r i a l
(Garcia v. Domingo, G.R. No. L-30104 (Resolution), for slight physical injuries; and (3) Criminal Case No.
July 25, 1973) F-109193, for maltreatment; b. Against Simeon
Carbonnel (id.) (1) Criminal Case No. F-109197, for
EN BANC maltreatment; (2) Criminal Case No. F-109196, for
slight physical injuries; and (3) Criminal Case No. F-
[G.R. No. L-30104. July 25, 1973.] 109198 for light threats; (c) Against Francisco
Lorenzana (on complaint of Calo and Carbonnel)
HON. GREGORIO N. GARCIA City Court of Manila, (1) Criminal Case No. F-109201, for violation of Sec.
and FRANCISCO LORENZANA, petitioners, vs. HON. 887 of the Revised Ordinances of Manila (resisting
FELIX DOMINGO, Judge of the Court of First an officer); and (2) Criminal Case No. F-109200, for
Instance of Manila, EDGARDO CALO and SIMEON slander." 4 The above was followed by this recital:
CARBONNEL, respondents. "The trial of the aforementioned cases was jointly
held on March 4, 1968, March 18, 1968, March 23,
Andres R. Narvasa, Manuel V . Chico and Felipe B. 1968, March 30, 1968, April 17, 1968, April 20, 1968,
Pagkanlungan for petitioners. May 4, 1968, May 11, 1968, June 1, 1968, June 15,
1968, June 22, 1968, June 29, 1968, August 3, 1968
Rafael S. Consengco for respondent Calo, et al. and August 10, 1968. All the fourteen (14) trial dates
except March 4 and 18, and April 17, 1968 fell
Respondent Judge in his own behalf. on a Saturday. This was arranged by the parties and
RESOLUTION the Court upon the insistence of respondents Calo
and Carbonnel who, as police officers under
FERNANDO, J p: suspension because of the cases, desired the same
to be terminated as soon as possible and as there
The pivotal question in this petition for certiorari and were many cases scheduled for trial on the usual
prohibition, one which thus far has remained criminal trial days (Monday, Wednesday and
unresolved, is the meaning to be accorded the Friday), Saturday was agreed upon as the
constitutional right to public trial. 1 More invariable trial day for said eight (8) criminal cases."
specifically, did respondent Judge commit a grave 5 Also this: "The trial of the cases in question was
abuse of discretion in stigmatizing as violative of held, with the conformity of the accused and their
such a guarantee the holding of the trial of the counsel, in the chambers of Judge Garcia." 6 Then
other respondents 2 inside the chambers of city came these allegations in the petition: "During all
court Judge Gregorio Garcia named as petitioner. the fourteen (14) days of trial, spanning a period of
3 That was done in the order now impugned in this several months (from March to August, 1968), the
suit, although such a procedure had been agreed accused were at all times represented by their
to beforehand by the other respondents as respective counsel, who acted not only in defense
defendants, the hearings have been thus of their clients, but as prosecutors of the
conducted on fourteen separate occasions without accusations filed at their clients' instance. There was
objection on their part, and without an iota of only one (1) day when Atty. Consengco,
evidence offered to substantiate any claim as to representing respondent Calo and Carbonnel, was
any other person so minded being excluded from absent. This was on April 20, 1968. But at the
the premises. It is thus evident that what took place insistence of Pat. Carbonnel, the trial proceeded,
in the chambers of the city court judge was devoid and said respondent cross-examined one of the
of haste or intentional secrecy. For reasons to be witnesses presented by the adverse party. In any
more fully explained in the light of the facts case, no pretense has been made by the
ascertained the unique aspect of this case respondents that this constituted an irregularity
having arisen from what turned out to be an correctible on certiorari. At the conclusion of the
unseemly altercation, force likewise being hearings the accused, thru counsel, asked for and
employed, due to the mode in which the arrest of were granted time to submit memoranda.
private petitioner for a traffic violation was sought Respondents Calo and Carbonnel, thru counsel,
to be effected by the two respondent policemen Atty. Rafael Consengco, submitted a 14-page
thus resulting in charges and counter-charges with memorandum with not less than 35 citations of
eight criminal cases being tried jointly by city court relevant portions of the transcript of stenographic
Judge in the above manner we rule that there notes in support of their prayer for exoneration, and
was no transgression of the right to a public trial, for the conviction of petitioner Lorenzana in respect
and grant the petition. of their countercharges against the latter. It is
worthy of note that up to this date, said
It was alleged and admitted in the petition: "In respondents Calo and Carbonnel had not
Branch I of the City Court of Manila presided over objected to pointed out any supposed
by petitioner Judge, there were commenced, by irregularity in the proceedings thus far; the
appropriate informations all dated January 16, memorandum submitted in their behalf is confined
1968, eight (8) criminal actions against respondents to a discussion of the evidence adduced in, and
Edgardo Calo, and Simeon Carbonnel and the merits of the cases." 7 It was stated next in the
Petitioner Francisco Lorenzana, as follows: a. petition: "The promulgation of judgment was first
Against Edgardo Calo (on complaint of Francisco scheduled on September 23, 1968. This was
Lorenzana) (1) Criminal Case No. F-109191, for slight postponed to September 28, 1968, at the instance
physical injuries; (2) Criminal Case No. F-109192, also of Atty. Rafael Consengco, as counsel for
21 | C O N S T I 2 _ S e c t i o n 1 4 _ R i g h t t o S p e e d y , I m p a r t i a l a n d P u b l i c T r i a l
respondents Calo and Carbonnel, and again to Committee on the Bill of Rights, Delegate, later
October 1, 1968 at 11 o'clock in the morning, this Justice, Jose P. Laurel, to gain acceptance. As was
time at the instance of Atty. Consengco and Atty. stressed by him: "Trial should also be public in order
Francisco Koh who had, in the meantime, also to offset any danger of conducting it in an illegal
entered his appearance as counsel for respondents and unjust manner." 11 It would have been
Calo and Carbonnel. The applications for surprising if its proposed inclusion in the Bill of Rights
postponement were not grounded upon and had provoked any discussion, much less a debate.
supposed defect or irregularity of the proceedings." It was merely a reiteration of what appeared in the
8 Philippine Autonomy Act of 1916, popularly known
as the Jones Law. 12 Earlier, such a right found
Mention was then made of when a petition for expression in the Philippine Bill of 1902, likewise an
certiorari was filed with respondent Judge: "Early in organic act of the then government of this country
the morning of October 1, 1968, Edgardo Calo and as an unincorporated territory of the United States.
Simeon Carbonnel, thru their counsel, Atty. Rafael S. 13 Historically, as was pointed out by Justice Black,
Consengco, filed with the Court of First Instance a speaking for the United States Supreme Court in the
petition for certiorari and prohibition, with leading case of In re Oliver: 14 "This nation's
application for preliminary prohibitory and accepted practice of guaranteeing a public trial to
mandatory injunction . . . [alleging jurisdictional an accused has its roots in [the] English common
defects]." 9 Respondent Judge acting on such law heritage." 15 He then observed that the exact
petition forthwith issued a restraining order thus date of its origin is obscure, "but it likely evolved
causing the deferment of the promulgation of the long before the settlement of [the United States] as
judgment. After proceedings duly had, there was an accompaniment of the ancient institution of jury
an order from him "declaring that 'the constitutional trial." 16 It was then noted by him that there, "the
and statutory rights of the accused' had been guarantee to an accused of the right to a public
violated, adversely affecting their 'right to a free trial first appeared in a state constitution in 1776." 18
and impartial trial' [noting] ;that the trial of these He could conclude his historical survey thus: "Today
cases lasting several weeks were held exclusively in almost without exception every state by
chambers and not in the court room open to the constitution, statute, or judicial decision, requires
public';" and ordering the city court Judge, now that all criminal trials be open to the public." 19
petitioner, "to desist from reading or causing to be Such is the venerable, historical lineage of the right
read or promulgated the decisions he may have to a public trial.
rendered already in the criminal cases (in question)
. . . pending in his Court, until further orders of this
Court.'" 10
2. The crucial question of the meaning to be
A motion for reconsideration proving unavailing, attached this provision remains. The Constitution
petitioners on January 28, 1969, elevated the guarantees an accused the right to a public trial.
matter to this Tribunal by means of the present suit What does it signify? Offhand it does seem fairly
for certiorari and prohibition. In its resolution of obvious that here is an instance where language is
February 3, 1969, respondents were required to to be given a literal application. There is no
answer, with a preliminary injunction likewise being ambiguity in the words employed. The trial must be
issued. As was to be expected the answer filed by public. It possesses that character when anyone
respondent Judge on March 11, 1969 and that by interested in observing the manner a judge
the other respondents on March 19, 1969 did conducts the proceedings in his courtroom may do
attempt to justify the validity of the finding that so. There is to be no ban on such attendance. His
there was a failure to respect the right to a public being a stranger to the litigants is of no moment. No
trial of accused persons. Neither in such pleadings relationship to the parties need be shown. The
nor in the memorandum filed, although the thought that lies behind this safeguard is the belief
diligence displayed by counsel was quite evident, that thereby the accused is afforded further
was there any persuasive showing of a violation of protection, that his trial is likely to be conducted
the constitutional guarantee of a public trial, the with regularity and not tainted with any impropriety.
basic issue to be resolved. Rather it was the mode It is not amiss to recall that Delegate Laurel in his
of approach followed by counsel Andres R. terse summation of the importance of this right
Narvasa for petitioners that did manifest a deeper singled out its being a deterrence to arbitrariness. It
understanding of its implications and ramifications. is thus understandable why such a right is deemed
Accordingly, as previously stated, it is for us to grant embraced in procedural due process. 20 Where a
the merits prayed for. trial takes place, as is quite usual, in the courtroom
and a calendar of what cases are to be heard is
1. The 1935 Constitution which was in force at the posted, no problem arises. It is the usual course of
time of the antecedents of this petition, as set forth events that individuals desirous of being present are
at the outset, explicitly enumerated the right to a free to do so. There is the well recognized exception
public trial to which an accused was entitled. So it though that warrants the exclusion of the public
is, as likewise made clear, under the present where the evidence may be characterized as
dispensation. As a matter of fact, that was one "offensive to decency or public morals." 21
constitutional provision that needed only a single,
terse summation from the Chairman of the
22 | C O N S T I 2 _ S e c t i o n 1 4 _ R i g h t t o S p e e d y , I m p a r t i a l a n d P u b l i c T r i a l
What did occasion difficulty in this suit was that for
the convenience of the parties, and of the city 4. There is much to be said of course for the
court Judge, it was in the latter's air-conditioned concern displayed by respondent Judge to assure
chambers that the trial was held. Did that suffice to the reality as against the mere possibility of a trial
vitiate the proceedings as violative of this right? The being truly public. If it were otherwise, such a right
answer must be in the negative. There is no showing could be reduced to a barren form of words. To the
that the public was thereby excluded. It is to be extent then that the conclusion reached by him
admitted that the size of the room allotted the was motivated by an apprehension that there was
Judge would reduce the number of those who an evasion of a constitutional command, he
could be present. Such a fact though is not certainly lived up to what is expected of a man of
indicative of any transgression of this right. the robe. Further reflection ought to have
Courtrooms are not of uniform dimensions. Some convinced him though that such a fear was
are smaller than others. Moreover, as admitted by unjustified. An objective appraisal of conditions in
Justice Black in his masterly In re Oliver opinion, it municipal or city courts would have gone far in
suffices to satisfy the requirement of a trial being dispelling such misgivings. The crowded daily
public if the accused could "have his friends, calendar, the nature of the cases handled, civil as
relatives and counsel present, no matter with what well as criminal, the relaxed attitude on procedural
offense he may be charged." 22 rules not being strictly adhered to all make for a less
tense atmosphere. As a result the attendance of
Then, too, reference may also be made to the the general public is much more in evidence; nor is
undisputed fact at least fourteen hearings had its presence unwelcome. When it is remembered
been held in chambers of the city court Judge, further that the occupants of such courts are not
without objection on the part of respondent chosen primarily for their legal acumen, but taken
policemen. What was said by former Chief Justice from that portion of the bar more considerably
Moran should erase any doubt as to the weight to attuned to the pulse of public life, it is not to be
be accorded, more appropriate]y the lack of rationally expected that an accused would be
weight, to any such objection now raised. Thus: "In denied whatever solace and comfort may come
one case, the trial of the accused was held in Bilibid from the knowledge that a judge, with the eyes of
prison. The accused, invoking his right to a public the persons in court alert to his demeanor and his
trial, assigned the procedure thus taken as error. rulings, would run the risk of being unjust, unfair, or
The Supreme Court held that as it affirmatively arbitrary. Nor does it change matters, just because,
appears on the record that the accused offered no as did happen here, it was in the air-conditioned
objection to the trial of his case in the place where chambers of a city court judge rather than in the
it was held, his right is deemed waived." 23 The usual place that the trial took place.
decision referred to, United States v. Mercado, 24
was handed down sixty-eight years ago in 1905. WHEREFORE, the writ of certiorari prayed for is
granted nullifying, setting aside, and declaring
It does seem that the challenged order of bereft of any legal force or effect the order of
respondent is far from being invulnerable. respondent Judge Felix Domingo, dated November
29, 1968 for being issued with grave abuse of
3. That is all that need be said as to the obvious discretion. The writ of prohibition sought by
merit of this petition. One other objection to the petitioner is likewise granted, commanding
conduct of the proceedings by the city court respondent Judge or any one acting in his place to
Judge may be briefly disposed of. Respondent desist from any further action in Civil Case No. 74830
Judge would seek to lend support to an order at of the Court of First Instance of Manila, except that
war with the obvious meaning of a constitutional of dismissing the same. The preliminary writ of
provision by harping on the alleged abdication by injunction issued by this Court in its resolution of
an assistant fiscal of his control over the February 26, 1969 against the actuation of
prosecution. Again here there was a failure to respondent Judge is made permanent. With costs
abide by settled law. If any party could complain at against respondent policemen, Edgardo Calo and
all, it is the People of the Philippines for whom a Simeon Carbonnel.
fiscal speaks and acts. The accused cannot in law
be termed an offended party for such an alleged Makalintal, Actg. C .J ., Teehankee, Makasiar,
failure to comply with official duty. Moreover, even Antonio and Esquerra, JJ ., concur.
assuming that respondent policemen could be
heard to raise such a grievance, respondent Judge Castro, J ., did not take part.
ought to have been aware that thereby no
jurisdictional defect was incurred by the city court Zaldivar and Barredo, JJ ., are on leave.
Judge. As was so emphatically declared by Justice
J.B.L. Reyes in Cariaga v. Justo-Guerrero: 25 "The
case below was commenced and prosecuted
without the intervention, mediation or participation
of the fiscal or any of his deputies. This,
notwithstanding, the jurisdiction of the court was
not affected . . . but the court should have cited
the public prosecutor to intervene . . . ," 26
23 | C O N S T I 2 _ S e c t i o n 1 4 _ R i g h t t o S p e e d y , I m p a r t i a l a n d P u b l i c T r i a l
(People v. Mapalao, G.R. No. 92415, May 14, 1991) 4. ID.; EVIDENCE; PROOF OF GUILT; ESCAPE OF
ACCUSED IS EVIDENCE OF THEIR GUILT. Contrary
EN BANC to the claim of appellant that he is innocent as he
did not escape together with Edris who was
[G.R. No. 92415. May 14, 1991.] allegedly the principal player in the holdup, the
fact remains that the appellant escaped to the
THE PEOPLE OF THE PHILIPPINES, plaintiff-appellee, mountains together with his co-accused
vs. OMAR MAPALAO and REX MAGUMNANG, Magumnang and Gumanak Ompa. Their escape is
defendants-appellants. evidence of their guilt.

The Solicitor General for plaintiff-appellee. DECISION

Paterno Aquino for defendants-appellants. GANCAYCO, J p:

SYLLABUS Highway robbery with homicide is a heinous


offense. It is condemnable enough for a person to
1. REMEDIAL LAW; CRIMINAL PROCEDURE; APPEAL; commit robbery by way of a holdup but if in the
APPELLANT'S APPEAL MUST BE DISMISSED SINCE HE process human life is taken, the criminal act is
REMAINED AT LARGE WHILE HIS APPEAL WAS certainly detestable. No less than the death penalty
PENDING; REASON FOR RULE UNDER SECTION 8, provided by law should be meted out if we are to
RULE 122 OF THE 1985 RULES ON CRIMINAL contain the proliferation of this odious offense.
PROCEDURE. Under Section 8, Rule 122 of the Unfortunately, unless Congress and Malacaang
1985 Rules of Criminal Procedure, the Court, may act accordingly to consider by law this class of
"upon motion of the appellee or on its own motion, crimes as heinous offenses, the Courts must have to
dismiss the appeal if the appellant escapes from comply with the constitutional injunction against
prison or confinement or jumps bail or flees to a the imposition of the supreme penalty. Cdpr
foreign country during the pendency of the
appeal." In this case, appellant Magumnang The facts are accurately related by the Regional
remained at large even as his appeal was pending. Trial Court (RTC) of Baguio City as follows:
Hence, by analogy his appeal must be dismissed.
The reason for this rule is because once an accused "It appears from the Evidence that Adolfo
escapes from prison or confinement or jumps bail or Quiambao is a businessman selling textile materials.
flees to a foreign country, he loses his standing in He has a stall in the Hilltop Market in Baguio where
court and unless he surrenders or submits to the he sells his goods. But sometimes on weekends, he
jurisdiction of the court he is deemed to have goes to Abatan, Buguias, Benguet to sell his goods.
waived any right to seek relief from the court.
On September 19, 1987 at about 3:00 to 4:00 A.M.,
2. ID.; ID.; JUDGMENT; SECTION 6, RULE 120 OF THE he went to Abatan, Buguias, Benguet using his Ford
1985 RULES ON CRIMINAL PROCEDURE SHOULD BE Fiera with his driver Felizardo Galves and a certain
MODIFIED TO READ THAT ACCUSED WAIVES HIS Jimmy Jetwani (a bombay), where he sold his
RIGHT TO APPEAL IF UPON PROMULGATION OF goods in the afternoon until at night and so, stayed
JUDGMENT HE FAILS TO APPEAL WITHOUT JUSTIFIABLE overnight thereat.
CAUSE. Section 6, Rule 120 of the 1985 Rules of
Criminal Procedure should be modified to read that The next day, at about 7:00 A.M. of September 20,
if upon promulgation of the judgment, the accused 1987, after breakfast, Adolfo Quiambao, his driver
fails to appeal without justifiable cause, despite due Felizardo Galvez, and Jimmy Jetwani proceeded to
notice to him, his bondsmen or counsel, he is Mankayan, Benguet. This time four Muslims rode
thereby considered to have waived his right to with them, namely: Omar Mapalao, Rex
appeal. However, if within the fifteen (15) day Magumnang, Aliman Bara-akal, and a certain
period of appeal he voluntarily surrenders to the Anwar Hadji Edris. Incidentally, Omar Mapalao and
court or is otherwise arrested, then he may avail of Rex Magumnang had previously rode once with
the right to appeal within said period of appeal. Adolfo Quiambao in the latter's vehicle sometime
September 13, 1987 while Anwar Hadji Edris (alias
3. ID.; ID.; BAIL; ACCUSED WHO IS AT LARGE Randy) was known to Adolfo Quiambao for
CANNOT APPLY FOR BAIL OR BE GRANTED ANY sometime already. They arrived in Mankayan at
OTHER RELIEF BY THE COURTS UNTIL HE SUBMITS about 8:00 A.M. They stayed 4 hours in Mankayan
HIMSELF TO ITS JURISDICTION OR IS ARRESTED. By to sell goods and collect from customers.
the same token, an accused who, after the filing of
an information, is at large and had not been At about 12:00 noon of the same day of September
apprehended or otherwise has not submitted 20, 1987, they, the same passengers previously,
himself to the jurisdiction of the court, cannot apply started from Mankayan going back to Abatan,
for bail or be granted any other relief by the courts Buguias, Benguet, with one passenger added,
until he submits himself to its jurisdiction or is Simeon Calama. At Abatan, Adolfo Quiambao
arrested. collected amounts from his customers for about an
hour.

24 | C O N S T I 2 _ S e c t i o n 1 4 _ R i g h t t o S p e e d y , I m p a r t i a l a n d P u b l i c T r i a l
At about 1:00 to 2:00 P.M. on September 20, 1987, while poking their knives on the passengers,
Adolfo Quiambao proceeded on his way back to divested Adolfo Quiambao of P40,000.00, Jimmy
Baguio. They were 10 in all who rode in his Ford Jetwani of P14,000.00, and Simeon Calama of
Fiera, namely: (1) his driver Felizardo Galves; (2) P3,700.00 in cash, watch and clothes.
Jimmy Jetwani; (3) Simeon Calama, a son of his
customer in Mankayan; (4) Rene Salonga, a friend After divesting the passengers of their money, Rex
with whom he stayed in Abatan when he started his Magumnang went to the driver's seat to start the
business; (5) Eduardo Lopez, a co-vendor who sells vehicle but could not and so he called for Adolfo
also goods in Abatan; (6) Omar Mapalao; (7) Rex Quiambao to start it. But Adolfo Quiambao, too,
Magumnang; (8) Aliman Bara-akal; (9) Anwar Hadji could not start the vehicle. Angered, Omar
Edris; and (10) Adolfo Quiambao himself. Mapalao started counting 1 to 3 threatening to
shoot Quiambao if the vehicle would not start.
On the way, they stopped at Natubleng, Buguias, Adolfo Quiambao pleaded that he was not the
Benguet at about 3:00 P.M. where Jimmy Jetwani driver and so called for Felizardo Galvez, despite
and Adolfo Quiambao collected their credits for the latter being injured, to start the vehicle. After
less than an hour. Galvez was able to start the engine, immediately
Rex Magumnang went by the side of the driver,
From there, they proceeded to Sayangan, Atok, Galvez, and took hold of the steering wheel while
Benguet where they stopped at about 5:00 P.M. for ordering the latter to step on the accelerator and
Adolfo Quiambao and Jimmy Jetwani to collect proceed to the direction of the left side of the road
their credits. At Sayangan, too, they ate in a towards the precipice (bangin) indicating an
restaurant. intention to have the vehicle driven to the
precipice. It was at this point when Galvez
It was about 6:00 P.M. already when they left struggled and fought with Rex Magumnang for
Sayangan to proceed to Baguio. But when they left control of the steering wheel as it was being
Sayangan, Adolfo Quiambao noticed that there directed to the ravine. It was good Galvez was able
were now 5 Muslims with apparently Gumanak to step on the brakes on time to prevent it from
Ompa joining them making them 11 passengers in falling into the precipice. It was then that Rex
all in his Ford Fiera. Magumnang stabbed and thrust the knife on
Galvez with the latter jerking saying 'aray' in pain. At
On the way back to Baguio, after about an hour of this point, too, the passengers panicked and
driving, one of the passengers stopped the vehicle jumped out of the vehicle scampering in different
in order to urinate. So they all alighted to urinate. At directions for safety. Adolfo Quiambao jumped out
this point, Adolfo Quiambao took over driving into the ground first and when he saw Mapalao
telling his driver Felizardo Galvez to rest. pointing a gun at him, he jumped into the precipice
thinking it was better than to be shot at and in
After about 30 minutes of driving from the time doing so hurt himself. The driver Galvez fell to the
Adolfo Quiambao took over, one of the Muslims ravine upon being stabbed. Jimmy Jetwani jumped
stopped the vehicle at Km. 24, Caliking, Atok, out of the vehicle and ran to the mountains without
Benguet, in order to urinate. And so again they looking back. Simeon Calama and Eduardo Lopez
stopped with the Muslims alighting to urinate. and Rene Salonga, too, jumped out and sought
safety on the road.
Thereafter, when Adolfo Quiambao was about to
start the vehicle to proceed to Baguio, while Meantime, a vegetable truck passed by and
waiting for the Muslims to board, Omar Mapalao immediately Aliman Bara-akal boarded the same
went to the left side of the vehicle near the driver's on the front seat with the driver. Eduardo Lopez also
seat, pointed a gun (Exh. G) at Adolfo Quiambao ran after the same truck and boarded it at the
and announced 'This is a holdup.' Another Muslim back. Not far behind the first vegetable truck was
went to the other side of the front seat while another vegetable truck following it. Simeon
another Muslim went to the back to guard the back Calama stopped it asking for help but Omar
door of the Ford Fiera. And Gumanak Ompa and Mapalao, with gun in his hand, prevented him. And
Rex Magumnang, each armed with a knife, went so the second vegetable truck went on but before
inside the back of the Ford Fiera and pointed their it could fully pass by, Simeon Calama took the
knives on the passengers. Forthwith, Omar chance of boarding it when Omar Mapalao's
Mapalao, while pointing the gun, ordered all attention was diverted.
passengers in front to go inside the back of the
vehicle. Adolfo Quiambao and Jimmy Jetwani
complied. But as Adolfo Quiambao went inside the
back of the vehicle, he heard arguing outside and Thus, the two vegetable trucks proceeded on their
noticed a rumble and a commotion by the left side way till they stopped at the toll gate at Acop,
of the vehicle involving his driver, Felizardo Galvez, Tublay, Benguet. Immediately, Simeon Calama and
and the Muslims. As a consequence, the driver Eduardo Lopez alighted and reported to the Police
Galves was injured. Adolfo Quiambao pleaded Station near the toll gate that they were held up
that they are willing to give their money and and that one of the Muslims who held them up was
valuables provided they (the Muslims) will not harm in the first truck parked near the toll gate. Aliman
them. Rex Magumnang and Gumanak Ompa, Bara-akal was, thus, arrested by the Tublay Police
25 | C O N S T I 2 _ S e c t i o n 1 4 _ R i g h t t o S p e e d y , I m p a r t i a l a n d P u b l i c T r i a l
and the amount of P4,015.00 was recovered from 3. Left upper arm, lateral area, 2 cm. and 2 mm.
him when frisked at the Police Station. deep.'

Meanwhile, at the crime scene, the 3 Muslims left Dr. Wi, also, submitted a sketch of the human body
thereat, Omar Mapalao, Rex Magumnang and showing the stab wounds sustained in the body of
Gumanak Ompa, fled to the mountains leaving Felizardo Galvez (Exh. B and Exh. C) and the Death
their victims and avoided the road so as not to be Certificate (Exh. D) showing the cause of death as
seen. 'Hypovolemic Shock secondary to Multiple Stab
wounds at the right anterior superior and auricular
It is not clear on record where Anwar Hadji Edris area, right anterior chest, left deltoid area, left
(alias Randy) went after the holdup but in any case lumbar area, posterior with laceration of the right
he eluded arrest. lower lobe of the lung, etc.'

After the Muslims have left, Adolfo Quiambao went Adolfo Quiambao was also treated of his injuries as
up to the road level and by then saw also his driver shown in his Medical Certificate (Exh. E).
Galvez wounded lying in the precipice.
Subsequently, the Tublay Police were able to locate
Thereafter, another vegetable truck passed by, and and apprehend on September 21, 1987 at Sto.
Adolfo Quiambao asked the driver to help them Nio, Tublay, Omar Mapalao, Rex Magumnang
bring his wounded driver, Felizardo Galvez, from the and Gumanak Ompa.
ravine. Thus, Galvez was brought up to the road
and placed inside the Ford Fiera. The vegetable Also, Jimmy Jetwani, who fled to the mountains at
truck driver helped in starting the Ford Fiera. And the scene of the incident was found and rescued
from there, they proceeded immediately to the the next morning after the holdup.
Benguet Hospital at La Trinidad, Benguet, but when
there was no doctor, they brought Galvez to the In a confrontation at the Tublay Police Station on
Baguio General Hospital. September 22, 1987, Adolfo Quiambao, Jimmy
Jetwani and Simeon Calama positively identified
At the Baguio General Hospital, efforts to save the the four (4) Muslims in custody, Omar Mapalao, Rex
life of Felizardo Galvez proved futile as the next Magumnang, Gumanak Ompa and Aliman Bara-
morning he died of his stab wounds. akal as among those who held them up at the
Halsema Road (mountain trail), Km. 24, Caliking,
Dr. Wi submitted an Autopsy Report (Exh. A) as Atok, Benguet.
follows:
Adolfo Quiambao, Jimmy Jetwani and Simeon
'I. STAB WOUNDS: Calama gave their statements (Exhs. F, M and N) to
the police.
1. Right Mid-clavicular area, 7th Intercostal Space,
penetrating with round edges, 0.5 x 0.5 cm. At the Tublay Police Station, too, the gun caliber .38
paltik (Exh. G) with 5 live ammunitions (Exhs. G-1 to
2. Left Lumbar area, level 11th Intercostal Space, G-5) and the knife (Exh. G-6) used in the holdup
penetrating, with clean cut edges, 1.9 cm. were recovered from the possession of Gumanak
Ompa.
3. Anterior-superior right pre-auricular area, with
clean cut edges, 3.5 cm., and 2 cm. deep. Finally, the policemen who apprehended Aliman
Bara-akal at the toll gate executed a joint affidavit
4. Right Mid-clavicular area level 2nd rib, non (Exhs. O and P) and the policemen who
penetrating, 3 x 0.7 cm., and 2 cm. deep. apprehended Mapalao, Ompa and Magumnang
at Sto. Nio, Tublay, executed a joint affidavit (Exh.
5. Left anterior Deltoid area, 9.5 cm. (extended R)." 1
Surgically).
In due course, an amended information was filed in
6. Posterior leaf of the left Diaphragm 3 cm. with the RTC of Baguio City charging Rex Magumnang,
hemorrhages around the wound. Aliman Bara-akal, Anwar Hadji Edris, Gumanak
Ompa and Omar Mapalao of the crime of Highway
7. Through and through, Right lower lobe of the Robbery with Homicide, defined and penalized
Lung, 0.5 x 0.5 cm. with round edges. under Presidential Decree No. 532, which was
allegedly committed on September 20, 1987 at Km.
'II. INCISED WOUNDS: 24 along Halsema Road, Caliking, Atok, Benguet.

1. Right lateral neck, superficial, 2 cm. Upon arraignment, accused Omar Mapalao,
Gumanak Ompa, Rex Magumnang and Aliman
2. Left supraclavicular to left submandibular area, Bara-akal, assisted by their counsel, pleaded not
superficial, 12.5 cm. guilty.

26 | C O N S T I 2 _ S e c t i o n 1 4 _ R i g h t t o S p e e d y , I m p a r t i a l a n d P u b l i c T r i a l
Accused Anwar Hadji Edris had not been arrested OF INNOCENCE AND PROOF BEYOND REASONABLE
and remained at large. On March 17, 1988, DOUBT.
accused Aliman Bara-akal died in jail during the
trial so the case was dismissed as to him on April 4, III
1988. Accused Rex Magumnang, after being
positively identified by witnesses Adolfo Quiambao, THE TRIAL COURT ERRED IN FINDING THE ACCUSED-
Jimmy Jetwani and Simeon Calama during the trial, APPELLANTS GUILTY AS PRINCIPALS IN THE CRIME
escaped from detention on September 25, 1988 CHARGED AND SENTENCING THEM TO SUFFER AN
when brought for medical treatment to the Baguio INDETERMINATE SENTENCE OF FROM 17 YEARS, 4
General Hospital, so the trial in absentia continued MONTHS AND 1 DAY OF RECLUSION TEMPORAL AS
as to him. LLpr MINIMUM TO 20 YEARS OF RECLUSION TEMPORAL AS
MAXIMUM." 3
After the trial on the merits, a decision was
rendered by the trial court on January 12, 1990 Parenthetically, the appeal of appellant Rex
convicting the accused of the offense charged as Magumnang should be struck down. After
follows arraignment and during the trial, he escaped from
confinement and had not been apprehended
"WHEREFORE, the Court finds accused Omar since then. Accordingly, as to him the trial in
Mapalao y Dianalan, Gumanak Ompa, and Rex absentia proceeded and thereafter the judgment
Magumnang guilty beyond reasonable doubt as of conviction was promulgated.
principals by direct participation, of the offense of
Robbery with Homicide in a Highway in violation of Nevertheless, through counsel, he appealed to this
PD 532, as charged, and hereby sentences each of Court. Under Section 8, Rule 122 of the 1985 Rules of
them to suffer imprisonment of Reclusion Perpetua, Criminal Procedure, the Court, may "upon motion
to indemnify jointly and severally the heirs of of the appellee or on its own motion, dismiss the
deceased Felizardo Galvez the sum of Sixty appeal if the appellant escapes from prison or
Thousand (P60,000.00) Pesos for his death; to confinement or jumps bail or flees to a foreign
indemnify jointly and severally the offended parties country during the pendency of the appeal." In this
Adolfo Quiambao the sum of Forty Thousand case, appellant Magumnang remained at large
(P40,000.00) Pesos; Jimmy Jetwani the sum of even as his appeal was pending. Hence, by
Fourteen Thousand (P14,000.00) Pesos; and Simeon analogy his appeal must be dismissed.
Calama, the sum of Three Thousand Seven
Hundred (P3,700.00) Pesos as actual damages, all The reason for this rule is because once an accused
indemnifications being without subsidiary escapes from prison or confinement or jumps bail or
imprisonment in case of insolvency, and to pay the flees to a foreign country, he loses his standing in
costs. court and unless he surrenders or submits to the
jurisdiction of the court he is deemed to have
The accused Omar Mapalao and Gumanak Ompa waived any right to seek relief from the court.
being detention prisoners are entitled to 4/5 of their
preventive imprisonment in accordance with Article Thus when as in this case he escaped from
29 of the Revised Penal Code in the service of their confinement during the trial on the merits and after
sentence. his arraignment, and so the trial in absentia
proceeded and the judgment against him was
The gun caliber .38 paltik (Exh. G) with 5 live promulgated in accordance with Section 14(2)
ammunitions (Exhs. G-1 to G-5), and the knife (Exh. Article III of the 1987 Constitution, nonetheless, as he
G-6) being instruments of the crime are hereby remained at large, he should not be afforded the
declared forfeited and confiscated in favor of the right to appeal therefrom unless he voluntarily
State. submits to the jurisdiction of the court or is otherwise
arrested, within fifteen (15) days from the notice of
SO ORDERED." 2 the judgment against him. While at large as above
stated he cannot seek relief from the Court as he is
Not satisfied therewith the accused Omar Mapalao deemed to have waived the same and he has no
and Rex Magumnang appealed the decision to this standing in court.
Court alleging the following errors:
To this effect a modification is in order of the
"I provision of the last sentence of Section 6, Rule 120
of the 1985 Rules of Criminal Procedure which
THE TRIAL COURT ERRED IN FAILING TO CONSIDER provides:
SIGNIFICANT EXCULPATORY FACTS AND
CIRCUMSTANCES. "If the judgment is for conviction, and the accused's
failure to appear was without justifiable cause, the
II court shall further order the arrest of the accused,
who may appeal within fifteen (15) days from
THE TRIAL COURT ERRED IN FAILING TO APPLY THE notice of the decision to him or his counsel."
CONSTITUTIONAL MANDATE ON THE PRESUMPTION

27 | C O N S T I 2 _ S e c t i o n 1 4 _ R i g h t t o S p e e d y , I m p a r t i a l a n d P u b l i c T r i a l
It should provide instead that if upon promulgation respondent escaped from his detention center. No
of the judgment, the accused fails to appear explanation for his failure to appear in court in any
without justifiable cause, despite due notice to him, of the scheduled hearings was given. Even the trial
his bondsmen or counsel, he is thereby considered court considered his absence unjustified.
to have waived his right to appeal. However, if
within the fifteen (15) day period of appeal he The lower court in accordance with the aforestated
voluntarily surrenders to the court or is otherwise provisions of the 1973 Constitution, correctly
arrested, then he may avail of the right to appeal proceeded with the reception of the evidence of
within said period of appeal. the prosecution and the other accused in the
absence of private respondent, but it erred when it
By the same token, an accused who, after the filing suspended the proceedings as to the private
of an information, is at large and has not been respondent and rendered a decision as to the
apprehended or otherwise has not submitted other accused only.
himself to the jurisdiction of the court, cannot apply
for bail or be granted any other relief by the courts Upon the termination of a trial in absentia, the court
until he submits himself to its jurisdiction or is has the duty to rule upon the evidence presented
arrested. prLL in court. The court need not wait for the time until
the accused who escaped from custody finally
decides to appear in court to present his evidence
and cross-examine the witnesses against him. To
In Gimenez vs. Nazareno, 4 this Court had occasion allow the delay of proceedings for this purpose is to
to rule on a similar case in this wise render ineffective the constitutional provision on
trial in absentia. As it has been aptly explained:
"First of all, it is not disputed that the lower court
acquired jurisdiction over the person of the '. . . The Constitutional Convention felt the need for
accused-private respondent when he appeared such a provision as there were quite a number of
during the arraignment on August 22, 1973 and reported instances where the proceedings against
pleaded not guilty to the crime charged. In criminal a defendant had to be stayed indefinitely because
cases, jurisdiction over the person of the accused is of his non-appearance. What the Constitution
acquired either by his arrest for voluntary guarantees him is a fair trial, not continued
appearance in court. Such voluntary appearance enjoyment of his freedom even if his guilt could be
is accomplished by appearing for arraignment as proved. With the categorical statement in the
what accused-private respondent did in this case. fundamental law that his absence cannot justify a
delay provided that he has been duly notified and
But the question is this was that jurisdiction lost his failure to appear is unjustified, such an abuse
when the accused escaped from the custody of could be remedied. That is the way it should be, for
the law and failed to appear during the trial? We both society and the offended party have a
answer this question in the negative. As We have legitimate interest in seeing to it that crime should
consistently ruled in several earlier cases, jurisdiction not go unpunished.'
once acquired is not lost upon the instance of
parties but continues until the case is terminated. The contention of the respondent judge that the
right of the accused to be presumed innocent will
To capsulize the foregoing discussion, suffice it to be violated if a judgment is rendered as to him is
say that where the accused appears at the untenable. He is still presumed innocent. A
arraignment and pleads not guilty to the crime judgment of conviction must still be based upon the
charged, jurisdiction is acquired by the court over evidence presented in court. Such evidence must
his person and this continues until the termination of prove him guilty beyond reasonable doubt. Also,
the case, notwithstanding his escape from the there can be no violation of due process since the
custody of the law. accused was given the opportunity to be heard.

Going to the second part of Section 19, Article IV of Nor can it be said that an escapee who has been
the 1973 Constitution aforecited a 'trial in absentia' tried in absentia retains his rights to cross-examine
may be had when the following requisites are and to present evidence on his behalf. By his failure
present; (1) that there has been an arraignment; (2) to appear during the trial of which he had notice,
that the accused has been notified; and (3) that he he virtually waived these rights. This Court has
fails to appear and his failure to do so is unjustified. consistently held that the right of the accused to
confrontation and cross-examination of witnesses is
In this case, all the above conditions were a personal right and may be waived. In the same
attendant calling for a trial in absentia. As the facts vein, his right to present evidence on his behalf, a
show, the private respondent was arraigned on right given to him for his own benefit and
August 22, 1973 and in the said arraignment he protection, may be waived by him.
pleaded not guilty. He was also informed of the
scheduled hearings set on September 18 and 19, Finally, at this point, We note that Our
1973 and this is evidenced by his signature on the pronouncement in this case is buttressed by the
notice issued by the lower court. It was also proved provisions of the 1985 Rules on Criminal Procedure,
by a certified copy of the Police Blotter that private particularly Section 1(c) of Rule 115 which clearly
28 | C O N S T I 2 _ S e c t i o n 1 4 _ R i g h t t o S p e e d y , I m p a r t i a l a n d P u b l i c T r i a l
reflects the intention of the framers of our Magumnang and Gumanak Ompa divested
Constitution, to wit: Quiambao of P40,000.00, Jetwani of P14,000.00 and
Calama of P3,700.00 in cash, a watch and clothes
'. . . The absence of the accused without any while poking their knives at them. cdrep
justifiable cause at the trial on a particular date of
which he had notice shall be considered a waiver Magumnang tried to start the vehicle but as he
of his right to be present during that trial. When an could not he called Quiambao to start it but the
accused under custody had been notified of the latter also failed. Angered, the appellant started
date of the trial and escapes, he shall be deemed counting 1 to 3 threatening to shoot Quiambao if
to have waived his right to be present on said date the vehicle did not start. Quiambao called Galvez
and on all subsequent trial dates until custody is who was able to start the engine. Magumnang
regained . . .' went by the side of Galvez and took the steering
wheel and drove towards the precipice. Galvez
Accordingly, it is Our considered opinion, and We struggled and fought with Magumnang for control
so hold, that an escapee who has been duly tried of the steering wheel as it was directed to the
in absentia waives his right to present evidence on ravine. Magumnang stabbed and thrust the knife at
his own behalf and to confront and cross-examine Galvez. The passengers panicked and jumped and
witnesses who testified against him." ran away in different directions. Mapalao,
Magumnang and Ompa fled to the mountains.
Now to the appeal of appellant Omar Mapalao.
From the foregoing evidence of the prosecution
The main thrust of his appeal is a denial of his there can be no question as to the participation of
complicity. While he admitted to be among the the appellant in the robbery holdup. He was
passengers of the vehicle on that fateful day and positively identified by witnesses who were together
to be present during the holdup, he alleged that he with the appellant from the morning up to the
did not participate at all in the commission of the evening of the same day in the Ford Fiera.
crime and that he did not know anything about its Quiambao categorically testified that it was the
commission as in fact he left with Magumnang after appellant who was holding the gun with two hands
the alleged holdup. He also asserted that the ordered them to give their cash collections and
prosecution witnesses could not have identified him personal belongings to them. 5 Jimmy Jetwani
in view of the darkness of the night then. He said corroborated Quiambao's testimony in that it was
that when they were apprehended by the police the appellant who ordered them at gunpoint to get
no firearm or money was found in his possession. down from the vehicle and to go to the back and
to give their money to them. Although it was
The Court finds that the appeal is devoid of merit. already dark there was a light inside the vehicle. 6

The evidence shows very clearly that on the date of On cross-examination Jetwani stuck to his
the holdup the appellant was already a passenger identification of the appellant as one of the culprits
in the vehicle of Adolfo Quiambao since 7:00 A.M. as he saw not only his face but the gun he used by
of September 20, 1987 which was driven by the side of the door facing him and Quiambao. 7
Felizardo Galvez, with Jimmy Jetwani, Quiambao, Another prosecution witness, Simeon Calama, also
Rex Magumnang, Aliman Bara-akal, Anwar Hadji identified appellant as the one who pointed a gun
Edris and Calama. They were together the whole at them in front. He stated he is familiar with his
day up to the evening in going to Abatan, Buguias, voice as during the journey they were joking with
Benguet and in the afternoon of the same day they each other. 8
were also together on the way back to Baguio from
Abatan until the holdup occurred in the early The identification of the culprits in offenses of this
evening of the same day at Km. 24, Caliking, Atok, nature is vital and decisive. In this case the
Benguet. The Muslims stopped the vehicle to identification was made by eyewitnesses who were
urinate at said place. Appellant went to the left together with the appellant practically the whole
side of the vehicle near the driver's seat and day in the same vehicle, and who themselves are
pointed a gun at Quiambao and announced "this is the victims of the holdup staged by the appellant
a holdup." A Muslim went to the other side of the with his other co-accused. Although it was already
front sea while another Muslim went to the back to dark there was light in the vehicle. Moreover, there
stand guard. Gumanak Ompa and Rex were no other persons in the vicinity at the time of
Magumnang, each armed with a knife, went inside the holdup except the appellant, his co-accused
the back of the Ford Fiera and pointed their knives and the victims. LLphil
at the passengers. Appellant while pointing the gun
ordered the passengers to go to the back of the
vehicle so Quiambao and Jetwani complied. After
Quiambao went to the back of the vehicle he Contrary to the claim of appellant that he is
noticed a commotion near the left side of the innocent as he did not escape together with Edris
vehicle involving his driver Galvez and the Muslims. who was allegedly the principal player in the
Galvez was harmed. Quiambao pleaded that they holdup, the fact remains that the appellant
are willing to give their money and valuables escaped to the mountains together with his co-
provided the Muslims will not harm them. Rex
29 | C O N S T I 2 _ S e c t i o n 1 4 _ R i g h t t o S p e e d y , I m p a r t i a l a n d P u b l i c T r i a l
accused Magumnang and Gumanak Ompa. Their (People v. Valeriano y Tumahig, G.R. Nos. 103604-
escape is evidence of their guilt. 05, September 23, 1993)

As the Court observed at the opening paragraph of FIRST DIVISION


this decision, robbery attended by homicide or
murder is certainly a heinous offense, more so when [G.R. Nos. 103604-05. September 23, 1993.]
in this case it is committed in the highway. There is
hardly any justification for the court to share the PEOPLE OF THE PHILIPPINES, plaintiff-appellee, vs.
leniency of the trial court by imposing only the life ENGRACIO VALERIANO Y TUMAHIG, MACARIO E.
imprisonment as penalty. The circumstances of the ACABAL @ "MOMONG," JUANITO RISMUNDO,
commission of the offense do not justify at all or ABUNDIO NAHID and JOHN DOES, accused.
require any killing or injury to be inflicted on any of MACARIO E. ACABAL, JUANITO RISMUNDO and
the victims. The appellant and his confederates ABUNDIO NAHID, accused-appellants.
were all armed while the victims were not. They
were at their mercy. None of them attempted to The Solicitor General for plaintiff-appellee.
fight back or to resist. They gave all their valuables
and personal belongings. All they were pleading for Marcelo G. Flores for accused-appellants.
was that their lives be spared. It fell on deaf ears. It
was a senseless killing for no valid reason. The SYLLABUS
appellant and his confederates deserve the
supreme penalty of death and no less. Cdpr 1. REMEDIAL LAW; CRIMINAL PROCEDURE;
JUDGMENT OF CONVICTION; RULE FOR VALIDITY
But as the Court said, this is not possible under the THEREOF; SUBSTANTIALLY COMPLIED WITH IN CASE
Constitution. AT BAR. We find that the decision substantially
complies with the Rules of Court on judgments as it
Our peace and order situation today is very volatile. did sentence the accused-appellants to reclusion
We have experienced several attempted coups perpetua. A judgment of conviction shall state (a)
and we are warned of other possible coups. Our the legal qualification of the offense constituted by
peace and order problem is a continuing one. The the acts committed by the accused, and the
division in our society is obvious and gaping. Our aggravating or mitigating circumstances attending
country is suffering from the economic depression the commission, if there are any; (b) the
caused not only by the recent calamities that participation of the accused in the commission of
visited us which were compounded by the Gulf the offense, whether as principal, accomplice or
War. Thus, measures should be undertaken in order accessory after the fact; (c) the penalty imposed
to minimize if not entirely prevent serious crimes upon the accused; and (d) the civil liability or
against life, chastity and of property resulting in the damages caused by the wrongful act to be
wanton taking of human life. Our hope is for a recovered from the accused by the offended
lasting peace and order in our society. A law must party, if there is any, unless the enforcement of the
now be enacted defining what are the heinous civil liability by a separate action has been reserved
offenses punishable with the death penalty. We or waived. As we earlier observed, the challenged
should not tarry too long. decision does not contain the usual dispositive
portion. The last two paragraphs of the decision
WHEREFORE, the appealed decision is AFFIRMED in merely embody its conclusions that: (1) the
toto, with costs against the defendants-appellants. appellants are guilty of murder, and (2) taking into
account the "attendant qualifying aggravating
SO ORDERED. circumstances of nighttime, use of fire by burning
the house of the victim, . . . the abuse of superior
Fernan (C.J.), Narvasa, Melencio-Herrera, Gutierrez, strength," "the penalty imposable . . . will be in its
Jr., Cruz, Paras, Feliciano, Padilla, Bidin, Grio- maximum degree, that is reclusion perpetua"
Aquino, Medialdea, Regalado and Davide, Jr., JJ., considering that "the penalty now for murder is
concur. reclusion temporal to reclusion perpetua." While the
decision leaves much to be desired, it nevertheless
Sarmiento, J., concurs in the result. I am against the contains the court's findings of facts, the law
death penalty. applicable to the set of facts and what it believes
to be the imposable penalty under the law, that is,
reclusion perpetua which is actually the penalty
imposed on the accused-appellants. It is obvious
that they clearly understood that they were found
guilty beyond reasonable doubt of the crime of
murder and were sentenced to suffer the penalty of
reclusion perpetua in Criminal Case No. 4585. Were
it otherwise, they would not have declared in open
court their intention to appeal immediately after
the promulgation of the decision and would not
have subsequently filed their written notice of
appeal.
30 | C O N S T I 2 _ S e c t i o n 1 4 _ R i g h t t o S p e e d y , I m p a r t i a l a n d P u b l i c T r i a l
the prosecution discharges its burden of proving
2. ID.; ID.; ID.; NOTICE OF APPEAL FILED BEFORE THE the guilt of the accused-appellants beyond
PROMULGATION THEREOF WILL NOT DIVEST THE reasonable doubt, they need not even offer
COURT'S JURISDICTION OVER THE PERSON OF THE evidence in their behalf. The weakness of their
ACCUSED; CASE AT BAR. Accused-appellants defense of alibi thus becomes irrelevant.
contend that the trial court did not impose any
sentence and so cannot cancel anymore their bail 4. CRIMINAL LAW; AGGRAVATING
bonds and direct their arrest and immediate CIRCUMSTANCES; WHEN ALLEGED AS GENERIC
commitment because it already lost jurisdiction AGGRAVATING CIRCUMSTANCES, COURT CANNOT
over their persons when they perfected their ELEVATE THE SAME AS QUALIFYING
appeal. In connection with Section 3, Rule 114 of CIRCUMSTANCES. The trial court, however, erred
the Revised Rules of Court on bail, we ruled in in considering nighttime, use of fire and abuse of
People vs. Cortez that: ". . . an accused who is superior strength as "attendant qualifying
charged with a capital offense or an offense aggravating circumstances." The information in
punishable by reclusion perpetua, and is thereafter Criminal Case No. 4585 alleged only treachery and
convicted of the offense charged, shall no longer evident premeditation as qualifying aggravating
be entitled to bail as a matter of right even if he circumstances. Nighttime, band, use of fire, craft,
appeals the case to this Court since his conviction fraud or disguise and ignominy were alleged as
clearly imports that the evidence of his guilt of the generic aggravating circumstances only. The trial
offense charged is strong." We have already said court cannot elevate the status of any of the
that the decision did impose the penalty of generic aggravating circumstances and consider
reclusion perpetua. Since the order cancelling their them as qualifying circumstances for the crime of
bail bonds and directing their arrest is contained in murder. Moreover, nighttime is not a qualifying
the decision itself, it is apparent that their circumstance under Article 248 of the Revised
abovementioned contention is highly illogical. At Penal Code.
the time the order in question was made, the trial
court still had jurisdiction over the persons of the 5. ID.; MURDER; IMPOSABLE PENALTY. It was an
accused-appellants. For too obvious reasons, their error for the trial court to state that "the penalty now
notices of appeal which they claim have put an for murder is reclusion temporal to reclusion
end to the trial court's jurisdiction over them could perpetua." The penalty for murder remains to be
not have been filed before the promulgation of the reclusion temporal maximum to death. But in view
decision. The order is therefore valid and of paragraph (1), Section 19, Article III of the
enforceable. Also, it may be recalled that the Constitution prohibiting the imposition of the
accused-appellants had earlier raised this issue penalty of death, where death would have been
before us in a petition for habeas corpus dated 16 the proper penalty instead of reclusion perpetua.
January 1992 and docketed as G.R. Nos. 103602-03.
We dismissed that petition on 17 February 1992 for 6. CONSTITUTIONAL LAW; BILL OF RIGHTS; TRIAL IN
failure to comply with requirement no. (2) of ABSENTIA; WHEN AVAILABLE. The trial court further
Revised Circular No. 1-88 and Circular No. 28-91 on erred in holding that no penalty could be imposed
forum shopping. Their motion for reconsideration on accused Engracio Valeriano in Criminal Case
was denied on 27 May 1993. No. 4584 because he "is nowhere to be found,
hence, not brought to the bar of justice, he being a
3. ID.; EVIDENCE; BURDEN OF PROOF IN CRIMINAL fugitive or at large." The court ignored the fact that
CASES; LIES WITH THE PROSECUTION. The Engracio jumped bail after he had been arraigned,
testimony of the other witnesses for the prosecution just before the retaking of evidence commenced.
likewise do not provide sufficient proof of the Paragraph (2), Section 14, Article III of the
accused-appellant's guilt. Visitacion Silvano's Constitution permits trial in absentia after the
testimony that she saw and identified the accused- accused has been arraigned provided he has
appellants at the scene of the crime taxes the been duly notified of the trial and his failure to
imagination. It was humanly impossible for her to appear thereat is unjustified. One who jumps bail
see the accused-appellants even if she were aided can never offer a justifiable reason for his non-
by the light from the truck as she herself said that appearance during the trial. Accordingly, after the
she was then in her house, three kilometers away trial in absentia, the court can render judgment in
from the house of her parents-in-law. Wilson Silvano the case and promulgation may be made by
did not testify at all that he saw the persons who simply recording the judgment in the criminal
hacked and killed his mother. In conclusion, docket with a copy thereof served upon his
because of reasonable doubt as to their guilt, the counsel, provided that the notice requiring him to
accused-appellants must be acquitted. Every be present at the promulgation is served through his
accused is presumed innocent until the contrary is bondsmen or warden and counsel.
proved; that presumption is solemnly guaranteed
by the Bill of Rights. The contrary requires proof DECISION
beyond reasonable doubt, or that degree of proof
which produces conviction in an unprejudiced DAVIDE, JR., J p:
mind. Short of this, it is not only the right of the
accused to be freed; it is even the constitutional In two separate informations dated 28 February
duty of the court to acquit him. Accordingly, unless 1981 and filed with the then Court of First Instance,
31 | C O N S T I 2 _ S e c t i o n 1 4 _ R i g h t t o S p e e d y , I m p a r t i a l a n d P u b l i c T r i a l
now Regional Trial Court, of Negros Oriental,
Engracio Valeriano, Juanito Rismundo, Macario Trial on the merits was conducted by Branch 37 of
Acabal, Abundio Nahid and several John Does the court a quo presided over by Judge Temistocles
were charged with the crimes of Murder and B. Diez. But on 16 May 1987, a fire gutted the
Frustrated Murder. The accusatory portion in the building where Branch 37 was located and the
information for murder, 1 docketed as Criminal records of these two cases were burned. The
Case No. 4585, reads as follows: records were subsequently reconstituted upon
petition of the prosecuting fiscal. 5 The testimonies
"That sometime in the evening of the 28th of of the witnesses were retaken, however, before it
January, 1980, at Nagbinlod, Municipality of Sta. could commence, accused Engracio Valeriano
Catalina, Province of Negros Oriental, Philippines, jumped bail and the warrant for his arrest issued on
and within the jurisdiction of this Honorable Court, 16 November 1987 was returned unserved because
the above-named accused, including several 'John he could not be found. 6 An alias warrant for his
Does', conspiring and confederating with one arrest was issued on 26 June 1989, 7 but he remains
another, with intent to kill, and with treachery and at large up to the present.
evident premeditation and being then armed with
bolos and 'pinuti', did then and there willfully, The evidence for the prosecution, as disclosed by
unlawfully and feloniously attack, assault and use the testimonies of its witnesses, is as follows:
personal violence on the person of one Rizalina
Apatan Silvano while the latter was about to leave Antonio Silvano, then the barangay captain of
her house and inflicting upon her injuries, to wit: Barangay Nagbinlud, Sta. Catalina, Negros
'right leg amputated below the knee; left leg Oriental, testified that at about 8:30 o'clock in the
hacked behind the knee; abdomen hacked with evening of 28 January 1980, or two nights before
viscerae evacerated,' and did then and there set the 30 January 1980 local election, three men
the house on fire while the aforementioned Rizalina entered his yard. He recognized these men as
Apatan Silvano was inside said house trying to Juanito Rismundo, his neighbor since 1964, Engracio
escape therefrom, and allowing her to be burned Valeriano, also another neighbor, and Macario
inside said house which was burned to the ground, Acabal, his sub-barangay captain. 8 The three men
thereby causing upon said Rizalina Apatan Silvano called him, but he did not answer. Instead, his wife,
her death and burning her beyond recognition. Rizalina, did and she told them that he was
attending a meeting "in the town." They did not
That the crime was committed with attendant believe her and replied that they just saw Antonio
aggravating circumstances of nighttime, by a enter the house. Juanito asked her whether they
band, by means of fire, craft [,] fraud or disguise (Antonio and Rizalina) were selling their votes
employed; and that means have been employed because they will buy them but Rizalina answered
which brought added ignominy to the natural in the negative. Juanito then said, "You choose, if
effects of their acts. you want something to happen to you or not [sic]."
Another man, Abundio Nahid, asked Antonio to
come down because they have something to tell
him. As Antonio was about to kick the door open,
Contrary to Article 248 in relation to Article 14 of the he saw the men outside his house increasing in
Revised Penal Code." number and were armed with bladed weapons
(pinuti). When he turned around, Antonio smelled
The information for frustrated murder, 2 docketed gasoline and he saw Abundio Nahid set fire to his
as Criminal Case No. 4584, alleged that in the store located at the right side of his house. 9 He and
evening of the 28th of January 1980 immediately his wife Rizalina escaped to the roof of the kitchen
after the commission of the murder charged in while the other members of their family who were in
Criminal Case No. 4585 the accused hacked that house their son Elmer Silvano and eldest
and struck Wilson Silvano, son of the victim in the daughter Celsita Legaspina with her two children -
murder case, with bladed weapons such as bolos escaped towards the sugarcane field which was
and pinuti thereby inflicting upon him multiple hack about thirty meters away. When Rizalina fell from
wounds which would have produced the crime of the roof to the floor, Macario Acabal, Juanito
murder were it not for the timely and able medical Rismundo and Engracio Valeriano hacked her.
assistance given to him. It further alleged that the Each of them delivered a single blow with Abundio
crime was committed with the qualifying Nahid hitting her four times. 10
circumstance of alevosia or treachery and the
aggravating circumstances of nighttime, by a On cross-examination, Antonio Silvano admitted
band, with the aid of armed men or persons who that, as barangay captain of Nagbinlud, Sta.
insure or afford impunity, and that craft, fraud or Catalina, and as trusted man of Mrs. Clotilde
disguise were employed. Carballo in whose land his house is built, he
supported the latter as the official candidate of the
At the arraignment, all the accused, except the KBL for Mayor of Sta. Catalina, as well as the other
John Does who remained unidentified and at large, candidates of her party for the local election of 30
pleaded not guilty in both cases. 3 Thereafter, upon January 1980, including Lorenzo Teves, the KBL's
agreement of the parties, joint trial was ordered by candidate for Governor of the Province of Negros
the trial court. 4 Oriental. On the other hand, the accused
32 | C O N S T I 2 _ S e c t i o n 1 4 _ R i g h t t o S p e e d y , I m p a r t i a l a n d P u b l i c T r i a l
supported and campaigned hard for Mrs. ordered the kidnapping and killing of KBL leaders
Carballo's opponent, a certain Jose Napigkit who and the burning of their houses.
was a candidate of the Pusyon Bisaya and who
eventually won in the election. In his barrio, Mrs. Also on 7 February 1980, according to Atty. Elson
Carballo lost heavily to Napigkit. 11 He further Bustamante, then Assistant Provincial Attorney, he
admitted that although he first reported the was called by Governor Teves to assist in the taking
incident to the Philippine Constabulary (PC) which of the statements also of Juanito Rismundo. The
investigated him, he cannot remember if he was Governor himself propounded the questions to
made to sign anything by the PC investigator. On Juanito who was accompanied by the son of Mrs.
15 February 1980, he was again investigated but Carballo and a PC soldier named Lodove.
this time in the office of Governor Teves. There, he Bustamante heard Mrs. Carballo's son tell the
was made to subscribe and swear to an affidavit 12 Governor that Juanito went to their (Carballos')
that, as admitted by the prosecuting fiscal, was house and "confessed" to a certain incident which
made the basis for the filing of the information. No happened in Sta. Catalina on 28 January 1980, and
statement by the PC was presented to the fiscal. 13 since there were PC soldiers still assigned to the
Carballos' residence at that time, they brought
Visitacion Silvano, wife of Wilson who is the son of Juanito to Governor Teves, the Provincial Chairman
Antonio and Rizalina, testified that she heard the of the KBL. 23
shouts for help of her mother-in-law 14 so she woke
up Wilson. He then went down the house and Another prosecution witness, Jufelinito Pareja, then
turned on the headlights of the truck parked in front Provincial Fiscal of Negros Oriental, told the court
of their house facing his parents' house which was that on 18 February 1980, accused Macario Acabal
located three kilometers away. He ran towards the was brought to his office. Acabal subscribed and
burning house of his parents but before he reached swore to a statement before him. The latter first
it, he was met by Engracio Valeriano and the latter read it to Acabal and after ascertaining that
hacked him. When he ran away, Engracio's Acabal voluntarily executed the statement, he
companions, Juanito Rismundo, Macario Acabal administered the oath to said affiant. 24 This sworn
and Abundio Nahid, chased him until he reached statement also implicated Jose Napigkit.
the sugarcane fields. 15 Visitacion stayed in her
house and saw Engracio Valeriano hack her Accused-appellants put up the defense of alibi.
husband. She also saw the other accused- They allege that they were in different places when
appellants in the vicinity of the house of her the incident in question occurred. Macario Acabal
parents-in-law. 16 was in sitio Canggabok, Nagbinlud, Sta. Catalina,
attending the wake for deceased barangay
Dr. Avelino Torres, Chief of Hospital of Bayawan captain Filomeno Cumahig. 25 On 29 January 1980,
District Hospital, examined the body of Rizalina he was arrested by military men in the house of his
Silvano at 1:00 o'clock in the early morning of 29 aunt at the breakwater of Poblacion Sta. Catalina.
January 1980 and was presented as a witness for One of them struck him three times on his left and
the prosecution. According to him, the body was right chest with an armalite rifle. Thereafter, he was
burned and charred beyond recognition but the loaded into a pick-up truck owned by Mrs. Clotilde
parts thereof were still intact. It was still warm and Carballo and taken to her house. On 7 February
smelt of freshly burned flesh. 17 He found the 1980, he was brought to Bayawan and was again
following "evidence of hacking:" manhandled, causing injuries to him which required
treatment at the Bayawan District Hospital, as
"(1) right leg amputated below the knee; certified by Dr. Torres. From the hospital, he was
brought to the municipal jail of Bayawan and then
(2) left leg hacked behind the knee; to the Provincial Jail in Dumaguete City. Later, he
was taken to the office of the Governor and was
(3) abdomen hacked with viscerae eviscerated." 18 forced to sign an affidavit (Exhibit "F"). Prior to 28
January 1989, he did not know the other accused in
He concluded that the wounds were inflicted this case. 26
before the body was burned. 19 He also examined
Wilson Silvano at about 1:30 o'clock that same Juanito Rismundo was in Sitio Dinapo, Bgy.
morning and found seven hack wounds on Wilson. Alangilan, Sta. Catalina, graining corn in the house
He testified at the trial that without medical of Alfreda Ortega. 27 On 6 February 1980, he met a
attention, Wilson could have bled to death. 20 PC soldier named Boy Gudobe (Lodove), who was
Atty. Castulo Caballes, then the Clerk of Court of then stationed in Bgy. Kawitan, Sta. Catalina,
the Court of First Instance of Negros Oriental, stated accompanied by Diosdado Silvano, grandson of
in court that on 7 February 1980, he was fetched Antonio Silvano, at the Sta. Catalina market.
from his house by someone from the office of Gudobe allegedly hit him and, together with
Governor Lorenzo Teves and was asked to assist the Diosdado and a Boy Carballo, the son of Mrs.
Governor in taking the affidavit of Juanito Clotilde Carballo, brought him to the Capitol
Rismundo. 21 After the latter "admitted that was his Building in Dumaguete City. While there, he averred
affidavit," he "subscribed to him the oath and so that he was forced by a lawyer to sign an affidavit
[he] signed as a notary public." 22 In this affidavit, (Exhibit "D") in the office of the Governor after he
Rismundo implicated Jose Napigkit as having
33 | C O N S T I 2 _ S e c t i o n 1 4 _ R i g h t t o S p e e d y , I m p a r t i a l a n d P u b l i c T r i a l
was struck with the handle of a revolver at the back bar of justice, he being a fugitive or at large, no
of his head. 28 penalty could be imposed on him since he is
beyond the jurisdiction of this court to reach. All the
other two (2) accused, JUANITO RISMUNDO and
ABUNDIO NAHID are hereby ordered and declared
Abundio Nahid was in his house in Sugong Milagros, absolved from any criminal responsibility from
Sta. Catalina, Negros Oriental, about 20 kilometers frustrated homicide.
from Nagbinlud. He charged that Wilson Silvano
testified against him because the Silvanos The bail bond put up by the three accused,
supported Mrs. Carballo of the KBL while he led the namely: Juanito Rismundo, Macario Acabal and
supporters of Mrs. Carballo's opponent Jose Abundio Nahid are hereby ordered cancelled and
Napigkit of the Pusyon Bisaya. 29 let a warrant of arrest be issued for their immediate
confinement." 34
The prosecution presented on rebuttal Mrs. Clotilde
Carballo and Fiscal Wilfredo Salmin. The former The trial court rejected the defense of alibi because
testified that on 7 February 1980 accused Juanito "[i]t was not shown by plausible and convincing
Rismundo voluntarily surrendered to her at her evidence . . . that it was physically impossible for
residence in Sta. Catalina and told her that he them to go to the scene of the crime and to return
wanted to see the Governor. She then asked her to the place of residence (People vs. Solis, 182
son to bring Juanito to Dumaguete City. 30 SCRA 182)." Upon the other hand, it ruled that "the
prosecution witnesses . . . clearly, positively
Fiscal Wilfredo Salmin belied the claim of Acabal identified them as the culprits, they being neighbors
that he (Salmin) went to the Provincial Jail on 10 for a long time and co-workers." 35
February 1980 and forced Acabal to sign a
document. He alleged that on 16 February 1980, Immediately after the promulgation of the decision,
not on 10 February 1980 as claimed by Acabal, counsel for the accused manifested in open court
Acabal came to his office at the Provincial their intention to appeal the decision. On the same
Attorney's Office and executed a sworn statement, day, counsel for accused Abundio Nahid filed a
but Acabal did not sign the same upon the advice notice of appeal with a motion for the immediate
of Atty. Geminiano Eleccion. 31 release of his client, which was opposed by the
prosecution. The court a quo denied the motion
After the completion of the re-taking of the also on the same day. 36
testimonies of the witnesses in Branch 37, Criminal
Cases Nos. 4584 and 4585 were re-raffled to Branch On 31 December 1991, all the convicted accused
33 of the trial court, then presided over by Judge filed a motion for the reconsideration of the denial
Pacifico S. Bulado. 32 of the motion for immediate release. The later
motion was denied on 3 January 1992. A day earlier
The decision 33 of the trial court, per Judge Pacifico or on 2 January 1992, accused Macario Acabal
S. Bulado, dated 31 October 1991 but promulgated and Juanito Rismundo had filed their notice of
on 20 December 1991, contained no specific appeal. 37
dispositive portion. Its rulings are found in the last
two paragraphs which read as follows: The records of both cases were transmitted to us
and we accepted the appeal on 26 February 1992.
"The elements of murder in this case, Criminal Case
No. 4585 for the killing of Rizalina Apatan-Silvano The accused-appellants raise in their Brief 38 the
having been proved by the prosecution beyond following assignment of errors:
doubt, the accused JUANITO RISMUNDO, MACARIO
ACABAL and ABUNDIO NAHID, considering the "I. THAT THE HONORABLE LOWER COURT ERRED IN
attendant qualifying aggravating circumstances of CANCELLING THE BAIL BONDS OF ACCUSED-
nighttime, use of fire by burning the house of victim APPELLANTS AND ORDERING THEIR IMMEDIATE
Rizalina Apatan-Silvano in order to forcibly drive her ARRESTS WHEN THE ONLY PENALTY IMPOSED BY IT
out of her house and hack her to death, the abuse FOR ALL THE ACCUSED IS "TO INDEMNIFY THE HEIRS
of superior strength, the penalty impossable [sic] OF THE VICTIM THE SUM OF THIRTY THOUSAND
here will be in its maximum degree, that is reclusion (P30,000.00) PESOS.
perpetua taking into account Article 248 of the
Revised Penal Code, the penalty now for murder is II. THE HONORABLE LOWER COURT GRAVELY ERRED
Reclusion Temporal to Reclusion Perpetua, and for IN FINDING THE ACCUSED-APPELLANTS GUILTY
all the accused to indemnify the heirs of the victim BEYOND REASONABLE DOUBT OF THE CRIME OF
the sum of Thirty Thousand (P30,000.00) Pesos since MURDER AS DEFINED AND PUNISHED UNDER ARTICLE
this case occurred [sic] in 1980. For the wounding of 248 OF THE REVISED PENAL CODE.
the victim Wilson A. Silvano, this Court believes that
simple frustrated homicide only is committed by the III. THE HONORABLE COURT GRAVELY ERRED IN
accused Engracio Valeriano only. But since the FINDING THAT THE PROSECUTION WITNESSES
person who actually inflicted the injuries of victim (ANTONIO SILVANO, WILSON SILVANO, AND
Wilson Silvano, accused Engracio Valeriano only is VISITACION SILVANO), HUSBAND AND CHILDREN,
nowhere to be found, hence, not brought to the RESPECTIVELY, OF THE DECEASED RIZALINA APATAN-
34 | C O N S T I 2 _ S e c t i o n 1 4 _ R i g h t t o S p e e d y , I m p a r t i a l a n d P u b l i c T r i a l
SILVANO, HAVE POSITIVELY IDENTIFIED THE ACCUSED imposable . . . will be in its maximum degree, that is
AS THE CULPRITS WHEN ONLY ANTONIO SILVANO reclusion perpetua" considering that "the penalty
TESTIFIED AS TO WHO ALLEGEDLY KILLED HIS WIFE, now for murder is reclusion temporal to reclusion
AND WHILE OTHER TWO (2) WITNESSES ONLY perpetua." While the decision leaves much to be
TESTIFIED AS TO THE WOUNDING OF WILSON desired, it nevertheless contains the court's findings
SILVANO BY ENGRACIO VALERIANO AND ALL THESE of facts, the law applicable to the set of facts and
WITNESSES WERE VERY VOCAL IN THEIR SILENCE AS what it believes to be the imposable penalty under
TO THE IDENTITIES OF THE ACCUSED FOR A LONG the law, that is, reclusion perpetua which is actually
TIME. the penalty imposed on the accused-appellants. It
is obvious that they clearly understood that they
IV. AND, THAT THE HONORABLE LOWER COURT were found guilty beyond reasonable doubt of the
GRAVELY ERRED IN NOT ACQUITTING ALL THE crime of murder and were sentenced to suffer the
ACCUSED FOR INSUFFICIENCY OF EVIDENCE penalty of reclusion perpetua in Criminal Case No.
AND/OR AT LEAST ON THE HYPOTHESIS OF 4585. Were it otherwise, they would not have
REASONABLE DOUBT." declared in open court their intention to appeal
immediately after the promulgation of the decision
In support of the first assigned error, they claim that: and would not have subsequently filed their written
(a) the trial court could not have ordered the notice of appeal.
cancellation of their bail bonds and their arrest and
immediate confinement because the only penalty Accused-appellants contend that the trial court did
it imposed on them was "to indemnify the heirs of not impose any sentence and so cannot cancel
the victim the sum of thirty thousand (P30,000.00) anymore their bail bonds and direct their arrest and
pesos" without imposing any sentence; it merely immediate commitment because it already lost
suggested that ". . . the penalty impossable [sic] jurisdiction over their persons when they perfected
here will be in its maximum degree, that is reclusion their appeal.
perpetua . . ."; and (b) since they already perfected
their appeal immediately after the promulgation of In connection with Section 3, Rule 114 of the
the sentence, the trial court lost jurisdiction over the Revised Rules of Court on bail, we ruled in People
case and could not validly cancel their bail bonds vs. Cortez 42 that:
and order their arrest. 39
". . . an accused who is charged with a capital
In its Brief, 40 the Appellee asserts that the judgment offense or an offense punishable by reclusion
appealed from is valid and enforceable. Although perpetua, and is thereafter convicted of the
the word "impossable" [sic] is "imprecise," it is clear offense charged, shall no longer be entitled to bail
that what the judge actually meant was that the as a matter of right even if he appeals the case to
penalty of reclusion perpetua was what the law this Court since his conviction clearly imports that
allowed or mandated him to impose. As to the the evidence of his guilt of the offense charged is
grant of bail, since they committed a capital strong."
offense and the court had already found that the
evidence of their guilt is strong, the accused- We have already said that the decision did impose
appellants should not be entitled to bail. the penalty of reclusion perpetua. Since the order
cancelling their bail bonds and directing their arrest
We find that the decision substantially complies with is contained in the decision itself, it is apparent that
the Rules of Court on judgments as it did sentence their abovementioned contention is highly illogical.
the accused-appellants to reclusion perpetua. A At the time the order in question was made, the trial
judgment of conviction shall state (a) the legal court still had jurisdiction over the persons of the
qualification of the offense constituted by the acts accused-appellants. For too obvious reasons, their
committed by the accused, and the aggravating notices of appeal which they claim have put an
or mitigating circumstances attending the end to the trial court's jurisdiction over them could
commission, if there are any; (b) the participation of not have been filed before the promulgation of the
the accused in the commission of the offense, decision. The order is therefore valid and
whether as principal, accomplice or accessory enforceable. Also, it may be recalled that the
after the fact; (c) the penalty imposed upon the accused-appellants had earlier raised this issue
accused; and (d) the civil liability or damages before us in a petition for habeas corpus dated 16
caused by the wrongful act to be recovered from January 1992 and docketed as G.R. Nos. 103602-03.
the accused by the offended party, if there is any, We dismissed that petition on 17 February 1992 for
unless the enforcement of the civil liability by a failure to comply with requirement no. (2) of
separate action has been reserved or waived. 41 Revised Circular No. 1-88 and Circular No. 28-91 on
As we earlier observed, the challenged decision forum shopping. 43 Their motion for reconsideration
does not contain the usual dispositive portion. The was denied on 27 May 1993.
last two paragraphs of the decision merely embody
its conclusions that: (1) the appellants are guilty of The trial court, however, erred in considering
murder, and (2) taking into account the "attendant nighttime, use of fire and abuse of superior strength
qualifying aggravating circumstances of nighttime, as "attendant qualifying aggravating
use of fire by burning the house of the victim, . . . circumstances." The information in Criminal Case
the abuse of superior strength," "the penalty No. 4585 alleged only treachery and evident
35 | C O N S T I 2 _ S e c t i o n 1 4 _ R i g h t t o S p e e d y , I m p a r t i a l a n d P u b l i c T r i a l
premeditation as qualifying aggravating direction of the wind changed and he jumped from
circumstances. Nighttime, band, use of fire, craft, the roof of the house into the bushes. They
fraud or disguise and ignominy were alleged as concluded that he could not have seen who killed
generic aggravating circumstances only. The trial his wife. 47 Also, the ruling that conclusions and
court cannot elevate the status of any of the findings of the lower court are entitled to great
generic aggravating circumstances and consider weight is not applicable in this case because the
them as qualifying circumstances for the crime of judge who heard the testimonies of the witnesses in
murder. Moreover, nighttime is not a qualifying its entirety was not the same judge who penned
circumstance under Article 248 of the Revised the decision. They further stressed the delay
Penal Code. incurred by Antonio in reporting the crime to the
authorities. The crime was committed on 28 January
It was likewise an error for the trial court to state that 1980 but he reported it to the Office of the
"the penalty now for murder is reclusion temporal to Governor of Negros Oriental in Dumaguete City
reclusion perpetua." The penalty for murder remains only on 18 February 1980 or some 21 days after its
to be reclusion temporal maximum to death. But in commission. Finally, they maintain that they have
view of paragraph (1), Section 19, Article III of the sufficiently established their defense of alibi.
Constitution prohibiting the imposition of the
penalty of death, where death would have been On the other hand, the Appellee seeks the
the proper penalty in a case, the court must instead affirmance of the judgment convicting the
impose the penalty of reclusion perpetua. 44 accused. The Appellee reasons out that the
accused-appellants were positively identified by
The trial court further erred in holding that no prosecution witness Antonio Silvano; and that even
penalty could be imposed on accused Engracio while it is true that only Antonio Silvano saw the
Valeriano in Criminal Case No. 4584 because he "is murderers, Visitacion and Wilson Silvano testified on
nowhere to be found, hence, not brought to the the presence of the accused-appellants at the
bar of justice, he being a fugitive or at large." The scene of the crime.
court ignored the fact that Engracio jumped bail
after he had been arraigned, just before the As the Appellee admits, however, the most
retaking of evidence commenced. Paragraph (2), damning testimony against the accused-appellants
Section 14, Article III of the Constitution permits trial in this case is only that of Antonio Silvano who
in absentia after the accused has been arraigned claimed that he actually saw them hack and kill his
provided he has been duly notified of the trial and wife. To us, whether such testimony could be relied
his failure to appear thereat is unjustified. One who upon is altogether a different matter. Although it is
jumps bail can never offer a justifiable reason for his a settled rule that the findings of the trial court on
non-appearance during the trial. Accordingly, after the credibility of witnesses should be given the
the trial in absentia, the court can render judgment highest respect because it had the advantage of
in the case 45 and promulgation may be made by observing the demeanor of the witnesses and can
simply recording the judgment in the criminal discern if such witnesses are telling the truth or lying
docket with a copy thereof served upon his through their teeth, 48 we cannot rely on that rule in
counsel, provided that the notice requiring him to this appeal because the judge who heard the
be present at the promulgation is served through his testimonies of the witnesses was not the same judge
bondsmen or warden and counsel. 46 who penned the decision. Judge Temistocles Diez
of Branch 37 received and heard the testimonies of
Having disposed of the first issue raised by the the witnesses but it was Judge Pacifico S. Bulado
accused-appellants, we now come to the second, who rendered the decision. The latter had no
third and fourth assigned errors which shall be opportunity to observe the witnesses' deportment
discussed jointly, considering that they are and manner of testifying, which are important
interrelated and deal with the question of whether considerations in assessing credibility. 49
or not the guilt of the accused-appellants was
proven beyond reasonable doubt. We have carefully read the transcripts of the
testimony of Antonio Silvano. We cannot give him
The accused-appellants contend that the trial court full faith and credit for the following reasons:
erred in relying on the testimonies of prosecution
witnesses Antonio Silvano, Wilson Silvano and 1. Although he testified on cross-examination that
Visitacion Silvano and in concluding that they he first reported the incident to and was
clearly and positively identified the accused- investigated by the PC, it is clear to this Court that it
appellants as the culprits. According to them, only was only on 15 February 1980, or on the eighteenth
Antonio Silvano testified that he saw the accused day after the incident that he was investigated at
burn his house, kill his wife Rizalina and drag her into the office of the Governor. Being the barangay
the fire. Neither Visitacion Silvano nor Wilson Silvano captain of Nagbinlud, the owner of a house that
testified that they saw what occurred in the elder was intentionally set on fire, the father of the man
Silvanos' house. But even the testimony of Antonio who was hacked several times and almost died,
Silvano is not reliable because it lacks truthfulness and the husband of the murder victim whose body
and validity. They singled out his testimony that was charred beyond recognition, the compelling
while the fire was raging, his wife told him to save call of duty and the mournful cry for justice cannot
himself as she will also save herself, then the tolerate any delay in reporting the incident to the
36 | C O N S T I 2 _ S e c t i o n 1 4 _ R i g h t t o S p e e d y , I m p a r t i a l a n d P u b l i c T r i a l
proper authorities. The prosecution was hard put for the only plausible explanation for his behavior was
an explanation for this delay; it did not even that the men who came belonged to the
attempt to make any. If Antonio Silvano could offer "Salvatore" group and this terrified him, for he knew
no explanation therefor, it could only mean that he that the group had been roaming around, killing
was either unable to identify the real perpetrators of people and burning houses in his area.
the crime against his family or he was afraid to do
so. For whichever reason, such failure only bolsters 3. Also, on cross-examination, Antonio affirmed as
the claim of the defense that the crime was true the contents of his sworn statement 54 taken
committed by the "Salvatore" group whose two weeks after the incident. In it, he failed to state
operations Antonio admitted he was very much the fact that he witnessed the killing of his wife and
aware of, thus: to identify her killers. 55 Since his sworn statement
was precisely taken to obtain from him vital facts
"Q As such barangay captain you remember that in relative to the incident, more specifically on the
the month of January, 1980 there was such a group killing of his wife, and considering that he had
of armed men referred to or commonly called as already stated therein that he saw the accused-
Salvatore, is that correct that used to roam around appellants, it is contrary to human nature and
in the interior part of Sta. Catalina? inconsistent with experience for him to fail to
identify them as the killers of his wife, if such is the
A Yes, that is true. fact. It has been said that where the omission in the
affidavit refers to a very important detail such that
Q And this group of men used to plunder or steal the affiant would not have failed to mention it, the
from houses, kill certain persons and burn also omission could affect the affiant's credibility. 56
houses, is that correct? Verily, it was obvious from his answer to Question
No. 16 of the investigator that he had no
A Yes, that is true. opportunity to identify the killers:

Q And this group of men known as 'Salvatore' "Q Question No. 16, 'Q-What else did you do?', and
continued to exist even after January 1980? you answered, 'A-My wife told me to just save
myself because she will also save herself. Thereafter
A That was only up to 1980. the wind changed it(s) course and (the) fire grew
big and because of this, I had the occasion to
Q Yes, but after January 1980 this 'Salvatore' group jumped (sic) from our house and thereafter I ran
continued to exist for sometime up to or beyond towards the bushes.' . . .
the year 1980, is that correct?

A They were only about 2 weeks because they


were arrested by the authorities. A Yes, sir, that is true.

Q That is two weeks after January 28, 1980? Q How far is that bush to which you ran from your
house which was burning?
A Yes." 50
A It is about thirty (30) meters because it is a
Furthermore, it is doubtful whether Antonio did sugarcane field." 57
report the incident to the PC as no PC personnel
corroborated him thereon and according to him, 4. Antonio categorically declared that Engracio
he did not sign any statement during the said Valeriano, Juanito Rismundo and Macario Acabal
investigation, which is unusual. The fiscal himself each hacked her once hitting her on the forehead,
admitted in open court that no statement taken by right leg and left arm, respectively, while Abundio
the PC was submitted to his office. 51 If indeed Nahid hacked her four times, hitting her at the
Antonio was investigated by the PC, the forehead, left arm, right leg and stomach. 58 In
investigator should have formally taken his other words, from his testimony, his wife sustained
statement in view of its importance. As no such seven wounds. Yet, the medical evidence belies
statement was proved to exist, it is logical to this. Per the findings of Dr. Avelino Torres, 59 there
presume that Antonio did not or could not disclose were only three "evidence" of hacking, viz.: at the
to the investigator the names of the perpetrators. right leg, left leg and abdomen.

2. Antonio admitted on cross-examination that he 5. Nowhere in his sworn statement did Antonio
had no quarrel and misunderstanding 52 or grudges mention the name of accused-appellant Abundio
53 whatsoever with the accused-appellants. If that Nahid. If in fact he saw the latter who he claimed in
were so, it is odd that he could not explain why he, his direct testimony hacked his wife four times,
a barangay captain who was expected to attend Nahid's name would have occupied a prominent
to the requests and problems of his constituents, place in his sworn statement.
deliberately chose not to respond to the alleged
call of the accused-appellants on the night of the The testimony of the other witnesses for the
incident and instead allowed his wife to lie to them prosecution likewise do not provide sufficient proof
by saying that he was attending a meeting. Again, of the accused-appellants' guilt. Visitacion Silvano's
37 | C O N S T I 2 _ S e c t i o n 1 4 _ R i g h t t o S p e e d y , I m p a r t i a l a n d P u b l i c T r i a l
testimony that she saw and identified the accused-
appellants at the scene of the crime taxes the SYNOPSIS
imagination. It was humanly impossible for her to
see the accused-appellants even if she were aided This is a motion for reconsideration of the decision of
by the light from the truck as she herself said that the Court denying petitioners' request for permission
she was then in her house, three kilometers away to televise and broadcast live the trial of former
from the house of her parents-in-law. Wilson Silvano President Joseph E. Estrada before the
did not testify at all that he saw the persons who Sandiganbayan. This motion was filed by the
hacked and killed his mother. Secretary of Justice, as one of the petitioners, who
argued that there is really no conflict between the
In conclusion, because of reasonable doubt as to right of the people to public information and the
their guilt, the accused-appellants must be freedom of the press, on one hand, and, on the
acquitted. Every accused is presumed innocent other, the right of the accused to a fair trial. He
until the contrary is proved; that presumption is further elaborated that if there is a clash between
solemnly guaranteed by the Bill of Rights. The these rights, it must be resolved in favor of the right
contrary requires proof beyond reasonable doubt, of the people and the press because the people,
or that degree of proof which produces conviction as the repository of sovereignty, are entitled to
in an unprejudiced mind. Short of this, it is not only information, and live media coverage is a
the right of the accused to be freed; it is even the safeguard against attempts by any party to use the
constitutional duty of the court to acquit him. 60 courts as instruments for the pursuit of selfish
Accordingly, unless the prosecution discharges its interests. On the other hand, former President
burden of proving the guilt of the accused- Joseph E. Estrada reiterated his objection to the live
appellants beyond reasonable doubt, they need TV and radio coverage of his trial on the ground
not even offer evidence in their behalf. 61 The that its allowance will violate the sub judice rule.
weakness of their defense of alibi thus becomes ETHSAI
irrelevant. The Court ruled that considering the significance of
the trial before the Sandiganbayan of former
WHEREFORE, the challenged Decision of Branch 33 President Estrada and the importance of preserving
of the Regional Trial Court of Negros Oriental in the records thereof, the Court believes that there
Criminal Case No. 4585 is hereby REVERSED. should be an audio-visual recording of the
Accused-appellants MACARIO ACABAL, JUANITO proceedings. The recordings will not be for live or
RISMUNDO and ABUNDIO NAHID are ACQUITTED on real time broadcast but for documentary purposes.
ground of reasonable doubt, and their immediate Only later will they be available for public showing,
release from confinement is hereby ordered, unless after the Sandiganbayan shall have promulgated
other lawful and valid grounds exist for their further its decision in every case to which the recording
detention. pertains. The master film shall be deposited in the
National Museum and in the Records Management
The trial court is directed to render judgment and Archives Office for historical preservation and
against accused-appellant ENGRACIO VALERIANO exhibition pursuant to law.
in Criminal Case No. 4584. SYLLABUS
No costs.
SO ORDERED. 1. POLITICAL LAW; CONSTITUTIONAL LAW; BILL OF
Cruz, Bellosillo and Quiason, JJ ., concur. RIGHTS; RIGHT OF PEOPLE TO INFORMATION ON
Grio-Aquino, J ., is on leave. MATTERS OF PUBLIC CONCERN; AUDIO-VISUAL
RECORDING OF THE PLUNDER CASES AGAINST
(Perez v. Estrada, A.M. No. 01-4-03-SC (Resolution), FORMER PRESIDENT JOSEPH E. ESTRADA WILL BE FOR
September 13, 2001) DOCUMENTARY PURPOSES ONLY. Considering the
significance of the trial before the Sandiganbayan
EN BANC of former President Estrada and the importance of
preserving the records thereof, the Court believes
[A.M. No. 01-4-03-SC. September 13, 2001.] that there should be an audio-visual recording of
the proceedings. The recordings will not be for live
RE: REQUEST FOR LIVE RADIO-TV COVERAGE OF THE or real time broadcast but for documentary
TRIAL IN THE SANDIGANBAYAN OF THE PLUNDER purposes. Only later will they be available for public
CASES AGAINST FORMER PRESIDENT JOSEPH E. showing, after the Sandiganbayan shall have
ESTRADA promulgated its decision in every case to which the
recording pertains. The master film shall be
SECRETARY OF JUSTICE HERNANDO PEREZ, deposited in the National Museum and the Records
KAPISANAN NG MGA BRODKASTER NG PILIPINAS, Management and Archives Office for historical
CESAR SARINO, RENATO CAYETANO, and ATTY. preservation and exhibition pursuant to law.
RICARDO ROMULO, petitioners, vs. JOSEPH E.
ESTRADA and INTEGRATED BAR OF THE PHILIPPINES, 2. ID.; ID.; ID.; ID.; ID.; RULES FOR AUDIO-VISUAL
oppositors. RECORDING INSIDE THE COURTROOM. For the
purpose of recording the proceedings, cameras will
Fortun Narvasa & Salazar Law Offices and Saguisag be inconspicuously installed in the courtroom and
and Associates Law Offices for J. Estrada. the movement of TV crews will be regulated,
38 | C O N S T I 2 _ S e c t i o n 1 4 _ R i g h t t o S p e e d y , I m p a r t i a l a n d P u b l i c T r i a l
consistent with the dignity and solemnity of the 5. ID.; ID.; ID.; ID.; ID.; RIGHT OF PRIVACY OF THE
proceedings. The trial shall be recorded in its ACCUSED IS NOT A BAR TO THE PRODUCTION OF
entirety, except such portions thereof as the SUCH DOCUMENTARY. Nor is the right of privacy
Sandiganbayan may decide should not be held of the accused a bar to the production of such
public pursuant to Rule 119, 21 of the Revised documentary. In Ayer Productions Pty. Ltd. v.
Rules of Criminal Procedure. No comment shall be Capulong, this Court set aside a lower court's
included in the documentary except annotations injunction restraining the filming of "Four Day
which may be necessary to explain certain scenes Revolution," a documentary film depicting, among
which are depicted. The audio-visual recordings other things, the role of then Minister of National
shall be made under the supervision and control of Defense Juan Ponce Enrile in the 1986 EDSA people
the Sandiganbayan or its Division as the case may power. This Court held: "A limited intrusion into a
be. person's privacy has long been regarded as
permissible where that person is a public figure and
3. ID.; ID.; ID.; ID.; ID.; REASONS FOR TELEVISED the information sought to be elicited from him or to
RECORDING. There are several reasons for such be published about him constitute matters of a
televised recording. First, the hearings are of historic public character."
significance. They are an affirmation of our
commitment to the rule that "the King is under no 6. ID.; ID.; ID.; ID.; MAKING OF A MOVIE BASED ON
man, but he is under God and the law." (Quod Rex THE TRIAL COULD NOT BE PREVENTED. No one
non debet esse sub homine, sed sub Deo et Lege.) can prevent the making of a movie based on the
Second, the Estrada cases involve matters of vital trial. But, at least, if a documentary record is made
concern to our people who have a fundamental of the proceedings, any movie that may later be
right to know how their government is conducted. produced can be checked for its accuracy against
This right can be enhanced by audio-visual such documentary and any attempt to distort the
presentation. Third, audio-visual presentation is truth can thus be averted.
essential for the education and civic training of the
people. Above all, there is the need to keep audio- 7. ID.; ID.; ID.; ID.; DOCUMENTARY RECORDING OF
visual records of the hearings for documentary CELEBRATED CASES; EXPLAINED. Indeed, a
purposes. The recordings will be useful in preserving somewhat similar proposal for documentary
the essence of the proceedings in a way that the recording of celebrated cases or causes clbres
cold print cannot quite do because it cannot was made way back in 1971 by Paul Freund of the
capture the sights and sounds of events. They will Harvard Law School. As he explained: "In fairness let
be primarily for the use of appellate courts in the me refer to an American experience many of my
event a review of the proceedings, rulings, or lay friends found similarly moving. An educational
decisions of the Sandiganbayan is sought or television network filmed a trial in Denver of a Black
becomes necessary. The accuracy of the Panther leader on charges of resisting arrest, and
transcripts of stenographic notes taken during the broadcast the document in full, in four installments,
trial can be checked by reference to the tapes. several months after the case was concluded
SEIacA concluded incidentally, with a verdict of acquittal.
No one could witness the trial without a feeling of
4. ID.; ID.; ID.; ID.; ID.; PURPOSE FOR THE DELAY OF profound respect for the painstaking way in which
THE RELEASE OF THE TAPES FOR BROADCAST. On the truth was searched for, for the ways whereby
the other hand, by delaying the release of the law copes with uncertainties and ambiguities
tapes for broadcast, concerns that those taking through presumptions and burden of proof, and the
part in the proceedings will be playing to the sense of gravity with which judge and jury carried
cameras and will thus be distracted from the proper out their responsibilities. I agree in general with the
performance of their roles whether as counsel, exclusion of television from the courtroom, for the
witnesses, court personnel, or judges will be familiar good reasons. And yet the use of television
allayed. The possibility that parallel trials before the at a trial for documentary purposes, not for the
bar of justice and the bar of public opinion may broadcast of live news, and with the safeguards of
jeopardize, or even prevent, the just determination completeness and consent, is an educational
of the cases can be minimized. The possibility that experiment that I would be prepared to welcome.
judgment will be rendered by the popular tribunal Properly safeguarded and with suitable
before the court of justice can render its own will be commentary, the depiction of an actual trial is an
avoided. At the same time, concerns about the agency of enlightenment that could have few
regularity and fairness of the trial which, it may equals in its impact on the public understanding.
be assumed, is the concern of those opposed to, as Understanding of our legal process, so rarely
much as of those in favor of, televised trials will provided by our educational system, is now a
be addressed since the tapes will not be released desperate need." Professor Freund's observation is
for public showing until after the decision of the as valid today as when it was made thirty years
cases by the Sandiganbayan. By delaying the ago. It is perceptive for its recognition of the serious
release of the tapes, much of the problem posed risks posed to the fair administration of justice by live
by real time TV and radio broadcast will be TV and radio broadcasts, especially when emotions
avoided. 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
39 | C O N S T I 2 _ S e c t i o n 1 4 _ R i g h t t o S p e e d y , I m p a r t i a l a n d P u b l i c T r i a l
proceedings of celebrated cases, for public 3. ID.; ID.; ID.; ID.; ID.; AUDIO-VISUAL RECORDING OF
information and exhibition, after passions have THE PLUNDER CASES AGAINST FORMER PRESIDENT
subsided. JOSEPH E. ESTRADA WILL BE FOR DOCUMENTARY
PURPOSES ONLY; REASONS. In addressing the
8. ID.; ID.; ID.; ID.; CONDITIONS FOR AUDIO-VISUAL present motion for reconsideration, colleagues on
RECORDING OF THE TRIAL. [A]n audio-visual the Court opine that there should be an audio-
recording of the trial of former President Estrada visual recording of the proceedings for
before the Sandiganbayan is hereby ordered to be documentary purposes because, first, the hearings
made, for the account of the Sandiganbayan, are of historic significance; second, the Estrada
under the following conditions: (a) the trial shall be cases involve matters of vital concern to our people
recorded in its entirety, excepting such portions who have a fundamental right to know how their
thereof as the Sandiganbayan may determine government works; third, the audio-visual
should not be held public under Rule 119, 21 of the presentation is essential for education and civic
Rules of Criminal Procedure; (b) cameras shall be training of the people; and fourth, such recording
installed inconspicuously inside the courtroom and can be used by appellate courts in the event that
the movement of TV crews shall be regulated the review of the proceedings, ruling, or decisions
consistent with the dignity and solemnity of the of the Sandiganbayan is sought or becomes
proceedings; (c) the audio-visual recordings shall necessary.
be made for documentary purposes only and shall
be made without comment except such 4. ID.; ID.; ID.; ID.; ID.; EXPERIENCE ATTESTS TO THE
annotations of scenes depicted therein as may be INTIMIDATING EFFECT OF CAMERAS AND
necessary to explain them; (d) the live broadcast of ELECTRONIC DEVICES IN COURTROOMS. The
the recordings before the Sandiganbayan shall proposition has novel features; regrettably, I still find
have rendered its decision in all the cases against it hard to believe that the presence of the cameras
the former President shall be prohibited under pain inside the courtroom will not have an untoward
of contempt of court and other sanctions in case of impact on the court proceedings. No empirical
violations of the prohibition; (e) to ensure that the data has been shown to suggest otherwise. To the
conditions are observed, the audio-visual recording contrary, experience attests to the intimidating
of the proceedings shall be made under the effect of cameras and electronic devices in
supervision and control of the Sandiganbayan or its courtrooms on the litigants, witnesses and jurors. In
Division concerned and shall be made pursuant to addition, the natural reticence of witnesses at the
rules promulgated by it; and (f) simultaneously with stand can even easily be exacerbated by placing
the release of the audio-visual recordings for public them on camera in contravention of normal
broadcast, the original thereof shall be deposited in experience. The demeanor of the witnesses can
the National Museum and the Records also have an abstruse effect on the ability of the
Management and Archives Office for preservation judge to accurately assess the credibility of such
and exhibition in accordance with law. witnesses. The presence of cameras, for whatever
reason, may not adequately address the dangers
mentioned in the Court's decision of 29 June 2001.
There are just too many imponderables.
VITUG, J., Separate Opinion:
5. ID.; ID.; ID.; ID.; ID.; IT IS NOT PRIVACY THAT CAN
1. POLITICAL LAW; CONSTITUTIONAL LAW; BILL OF CAUSE CONCERN MORE THAN THE EROSION OF
RIGHTS; DUE PROCESS; NOT DIMINISHED BY REALITY THAT CAMERAS TEND TO CAST. Most
ADVANCES IN SCIENCE AND TECHNOLOGY. Due importantly, it does not seem right to single out and
process is timeless. It is a precious fundamental right make a spectacle of the cases against Mr. Estrada.
that secures and protects, under a rule of law, the Dignity is a precious part of personality innate in
life and liberty of a person from the oppression of every human being, and there can be no cogent
power. A cherished fixture in our bill of rights, its excuse for impinging it even to the slightest degree.
encompassing guarantee will not be diminished by It is not the problem of privacy that can cause
advances in science and technology. concern more than the erosion of reality that
cameras tend to cast. TcEDHa
2. ID.; ID.; ID.; RIGHT OF PEOPLE TO INFORMATION
ON MATTERS OF PUBLIC CONCERN; CAN BE 6. ID.; ID.; ID.; ID.; ID.; THE RULE MUST BE OF GENERAL
ACHIEVED VIA OTHER MEDIA COVERAGE OTHER APPLICATION. In the petition, albeit entitled an
THAN LIVE RADIO/TV COVERAGE. I see it as being administrative matter, the only issue raised is
an implicit retreat, unwisely, from an age-old whether the cases of a former President pending
struggle of the individual against the tyranny of the before the Sandiganbayan can be covered by live
sovereign. The right of the public to information, in television and radio broadcast. The matter now
any event, is not here really being sacrificed. The being sought to be addressed by my esteemed
right to know can very well be achieved via other colleagues is not even an issue. If it has to be
media coverage; the windows of information considered at all, the rule must be of general
through which the public might observe and learn application and promulgated after a thorough
are not closed. study and deliberation, certainly far more than
what have been said and done in this case.

40 | C O N S T I 2 _ S e c t i o n 1 4 _ R i g h t t o S p e e d y , I m p a r t i a l a n d P u b l i c T r i a l
Hearings, where expert opinion is sought and given, master film shall be deposited in the National
should prove to be helpful and of value. Museum and the Records Management and
Archives Office for historical preservation and
RESOLUTION exhibition pursuant to law. 4

MENDOZA, J p: For the purpose of recording the proceedings,


cameras will be inconspicuously installed in the
This is a motion for reconsideration of the decision courtroom and the movement of TV crews will be
denying petitioners' request for permission to regulated, consistent with the dignity and solemnity
televise and broadcast live the trial of former of the proceedings. The trial shall be recorded in its
President Estrada before the Sandiganbayan. The entirety, except such portions thereof as the
motion was filed by the Secretary of Justice, as one Sandiganbayan may decide should not be held
of the petitioners, who argues that there is really no public pursuant to Rule 119, 21 of the Revised
conflict between the right of the people to public Rules of Criminal Procedure. No comment shall be
information and the freedom of the press, on the included in the documentary except annotations
one hand, and, on the other, the right of the which may be necessary to explain certain scenes
accused to a fair trial; that if there is a clash which are depicted. The audio-visual recordings
between these rights, it must be resolved in favor or shall be made under the supervision and control of
of the right of the people and the press because the Sandiganbayan or its Division as the case may
the people, as the repository of sovereignty, are be.
entitled to information; and that live media
coverage is a safeguard against attempts by any There are several reasons for such televised
party to use the courts as instruments for the pursuit recording. First, the hearings are of historic
of selfish interests. STCDaI significance. They are an affirmation of our
commitment to the rule that "the King is under no
On the other hand, former President Joseph E. man, but he is under God and the law." (Quod Rex
Estrada reiterates his objection to the live TV and non debet esse sub homine, sed sub Deo et Lege.)
radio coverage of his trial on the ground that its Second, the Estrada cases involve matters of vital
allowance will violate the sub judice rule and that, concern to our people who have a fundamental
based on his experience with the impeachment right to know how their government is conducted.
trial, live media coverage will only pave the way for This right can be enhanced by audio-visual
so-called "expert commentary" which can trigger presentation. Third, audio-visual presentation is
massive demonstrations aimed at pressuring the essential for the education and civic training of the
Sandiganbayan to render a decision one way or people.
the other. Mr. Estrada contends that the right of the
people to information may be served through other Above all, there is the need to keep audio-visual
means less distracting, degrading, and prejudicial records of the hearings for documentary purposes.
than live TV and radio coverage. The recordings will be useful in preserving the
essence of the proceedings in a way that the cold
The Court has considered the arguments of the print cannot quite do because it cannot capture
parties on this important issue and, after due the sights and sounds of events. They will be
deliberation, finds no reason to alter or in any way primarily for the use of appellate courts in the event
modify its decision prohibiting live or real time a review of the proceedings, rulings, or decisions of
broadcast by radio or television of the trial of the the Sandiganbayan is sought or becomes
former president. By a vote of nine (9) to six (6) of its necessary. The accuracy of the transcripts of
members, 1 the Court denies the motion for stenographic notes taken during the trial can be
reconsideration of the Secretary of Justice. checked by reference to the tapes.

In lieu of live TV and radio coverage of the trial, the On the other hand, by delaying the release of the
Court, by the vote of eight (8) Justices, 2 has tapes for broadcast, concerns that those taking
resolved to order the audio-visual recording of the part in the proceedings will be playing to the
trial for documentary purposes. Seven (7) Justices 3 cameras and will thus be distracted from the proper
vote against the audio-visual recording of the trial. performance of their roles whether as counsel,
witnesses, court personnel, or judges will be
What follows is the opinion of the majority. allayed. The possibility that parallel trials before the
bar of justice and the bar of public opinion may
Considering the significance of the trial before the jeopardize, or even prevent, the just determination
Sandiganbayan of former President Estrada and of the cases can be minimized. The possibility that
the importance of preserving the records thereof, judgment will be rendered by the popular tribunal
the Court believes that there should be an audio- before the court of justice can render its own will be
visual recording of the proceedings. The recordings avoided.
will not be for live or real time broadcast but for
documentary purposes. Only later will they be At the same time, concerns about the regularity
available for public showing, after the and fairness of the trial which, it may be
Sandiganbayan shall have promulgated its decision assumed, is the concern of those opposed to, as
in every case to which the recording pertains. The much as of those in favor of, televised trials will
41 | C O N S T I 2 _ S e c t i o n 1 4 _ R i g h t t o S p e e d y , I m p a r t i a l a n d P u b l i c T r i a l
be addressed since the tapes will not be released depiction of an actual trial is an agency of
for public showing until after the decision of the enlightenment that could have few equals in its
cases by the Sandiganbayan. By delaying the impact on the public understanding.
release of the tapes, much of the problem posed
by real time TV and radio broadcast will be Understanding of our legal process, so rarely
avoided. provided by our educational system, is now a
desperate need. 7
Thus, many important purposes for preserving the
record of the trials can be served by audio-visual Professor Freund's observation is as valid today as
recordings without impairing the right of the when it was made thirty years ago. It is perceptive
accused to a fair trial. for its recognition of the serious risks posed to the fair
administration of justice by live TV and radio
Nor is the right of privacy of the accused a bar to broadcasts, especially when emotions are running
the production of such documentary. In Ayer high on the issues stirred by a case, while at the
Productions Pty. Ltd. v. Capulong, 5 this Court set same time acknowledging the necessity of keeping
aside a lower court's injunction restraining the audio-visual recordings of the proceedings of
filming of "Four Day Revolution," a documentary film celebrated cases, for public information and
depicting, among other things, the role of then exhibition, after passions have subsided.
Minister of National Defense Juan Ponce Enrile in
the 1986 EDSA. people power. This Court held: "A WHEREFORE, an audio-visual recording of the trial of
limited intrusion into a person's privacy has long former President Estrada before the
been regarded as permissible where that person is Sandiganbayan is hereby ordered to be made, for
a public figure and the information sought to be the account of the Sandiganbayan, under the
elicited from him or to be published about him following conditions: (a) the trial shall be recorded
constitute matters of a public character." 6 in its entirety, excepting such portions thereof as the
Sandiganbayan determine should not be held
public under Rule 119, 21 of the Rules of Criminal
Procedure; (b) cameras shall be installed
No one can prevent the making of a movie based inconspicuously inside the courtroom and the
on the trial. But, at least, if a documentary record is movement of TV crews shall be regulated
made of the proceedings, any movie that may consistent with the dignity and solemnity of the
later be produced can be checked for its proceedings; (c) the audio-visual recordings shall
accuracy against such documentary and any be made for documentary purposes only and shall
attempt to distort the truth can thus be averted. be made without comment except such
annotations of scenes depicted therein as may be
Indeed, a somewhat similar proposal for necessary to explain them; (d) the live broadcast of
documentary recording of celebrated cases or the recordings before the Sandiganbayan shall
causes clbres was made way back in 1971 by have rendered its decision in all the cases against
Paul Freund of the Harvard Law School. As he the former President shall be prohibited under pain
explained: of contempt of court and other sanctions in case of
violations of the prohibition; (e) to ensure that the
In fairness let me refer to an American experience conditions are observed, the audio-visual recording
many of my lay friends found similarly moving. An of the proceedings shall be made under the
educational television network filmed a trial in supervision and control of the Sandiganbayan or its
Denver of a Black Panther leader on charges of Division concerned and shall be made pursuant to
resisting arrest, and broadcast the document in full, rules promulgated by it; and (f) simultaneously with
in four installments, several months after the case the release of the audio-visual recordings for public
was concluded concluded incidentally, with a broadcast, the original thereof shall be deposited in
verdict of acquittal. the National Museum and the Records
Management and Archives Office for preservation
No one could witness the trial without a feeling of and exhibition in accordance with law.
profound respect for the painstaking way in which
the truth was searched for, for the ways whereby SO ORDERED.
law copes with uncertainties and ambiguities
through presumptions and burden of proof, and the Davide, Jr., C.J., Melo, Puno, Panganiban and
sense of gravity with which judge and jury carried Gonzaga-Reyes, JJ., concur.
out their responsibilities.
Bellosillo, J., I am for full live coverage hence I
I agree in general with the exclusion of television maintain my original view; nevertheless, I concur.
from the courtroom, for the familiar good reasons.
And yet the use of television at a trial for Vitug, J., pls. see Separate Opinion.
documentary purposes, not for the broadcast of
live news, and with the safeguards of completeness Kapanun, J., I maintain my original view prohibiting
and consent, is an educational experiment that I live T.V. and radio coverage and concur with the
would be prepared to welcome. Properly separate opinion of Justice Vitug.
safeguarded and with suitable commentary, the
42 | C O N S T I 2 _ S e c t i o n 1 4 _ R i g h t t o S p e e d y , I m p a r t i a l a n d P u b l i c T r i a l
Quisumbing, J., although earlier I respectfully Regional Trial Court (RTC) of Quezon City inside
Dissented, as I favor live TV coverage I now Camp Bagong Diwa in Taguig City.
concur in the Result.
Almost a year later or on November 19, 2010, the
Pardo, J., I concur with the denial of the motion for National Union of Journalists of the Philippines
reconsideration only. The conditions are (NUJP), ABS-CBN Broadcasting Corporation, GMA
inadequate. I join J. Vitug's opinion. Network, Inc., relatives of the victims, 1 individual
journalists 2 from various media entities, and
Buena, Ynares-Santiago and De Leon, JJ., concur members of the academe 3 filed a petition before
with the Separate Opinion of Justice Vitug. this Court praying that live television and radio
coverage of the trial in these criminal cases be
Sandoval-Gutierrez, J., I concur but only in the allowed, recording devices (e.g., still cameras, tape
denial with finality of the MR. recorders) be permitted inside the courtroom to
assist the working journalists, and reasonable
(In re Ampatuan, A.M. No. 10-11-5-SC, 10-11-6-SC, guidelines be formulated to govern the broadcast
10-11-7-SC, June 14, 2011) coverage and the use of devices. 4 The Court
docketed the petition as A.M. No. 10-11-5-SC.
EN BANC
In a related move, the National Press Club of the
[A.M. No. 10-11-5-SC. June 14, 2011.] Philippines 5 (NPC) and Alyansa ng Filipinong
Mamamahayag 6 (AFIMA) filed on November 22,
RE: PETITION FOR RADIO AND TELEVISION 2010 a petition praying that the Court constitute
COVERAGE OF THE MULTIPLE MURDER CASES Branch 221 of RTC-Quezon City as a special court to
AGAINST MAGUINDANAO GOVERNOR ZALDY focus only on the Maguindanao Massacre trial to
AMPATUAN, ET AL. relieve it of all other pending cases and assigned
duties, and allow the installation inside the
[A.M. No. 10-11-6-SC. June 14, 2011.] courtroom of a sufficient number of video cameras
that shall beam the audio and video signals to the
RE: PETITION FOR THE CONSTITUTION OF THE PRESENT television monitors outside the court. 7 The Court
COURT HANDLING THE TRIAL OF THE MASSACRE OF docketed the petition as A.M. No. 10-11-6-SC.
57 PERSONS, INCLUDING 32 JOURNALISTS, IN
AMPATUAN, MAGUINDANAO INTO A SPECIAL President Benigno S. Aquino III, by letter of
COURT HANDLING THIS CASE ALONE FOR THE November 22, 2010 8 addressed to Chief Justice
PURPOSE OF ACHIEVING GENUINE SPEEDY TRIAL and Renato Corona, came out "in support of those who
FOR THE SETTING UP OF VIDEOCAM AND MONITOR have petitioned [this Court] to permit television and
JUST OUTSIDE THE COURT FOR JOURNALISTS TO radio broadcast of the trial." The President
COVER AND FOR THE PEOPLE TO WITNESS THE "TRIAL expressed "earnest hope that [this Court] will, within
OF THE DECADE" TO MAKE IT TRULY PUBLIC AND the many considerations that enter into such a
IMPARTIAL AS COMMANDED BY THE CONSTITUTION historic deliberation, attend to this petition with the
dispatch, dispassion and humaneness, such a
[A.M. No. 10-11-7-SC. June 14, 2011.] petition merits." 9 The Court docketed the matter as
A.M. No. 10-11-7-SC. AHCaES
RE: LETTER OF PRESIDENT BENIGNO S. AQUINO III FOR
THE LIVE MEDIA COVERAGE OF THE MAGUINDANAO By separate Resolutions of November 23, 2010, 10
MASSACRE TRIAL the Court consolidated A.M. No. 10-11-7-SC with
A.M. No. 10-11-5-SC. The Court shall treat in a
RESOLUTION separate Resolution A.M. No. 10-11-6-SC.

CARPIO MORALES, J p: Meanwhile, various groups 11 also sent to the Chief


Justice their respective resolutions and statements
On November 23, 2009, 57 people including 32 bearing on these matters.
journalists and media practitioners were killed while
on their way to Shariff Aguak in Maguindanao. The principal accused in the cases, Andal
Touted as the worst election-related violence and Ampatuan, Jr. (Ampatuan), filed a Consolidated
the most brutal killing of journalists in recent history, Comment of December 6, 2010 in A.M. No. 10-11-5-
the tragic incident which came to be known as the SC and A.M. No. 10-11-7-SC. The President, through
"Maguindanao Massacre" spawned charges for 57 the Office of the Solicitor General (OSG), and NUJP,
counts of murder and an additional charge of et al. filed their respective Reply of January 18, 2011
rebellion against 197 accused, docketed as and January 20, 2011. Ampatuan also filed a
Criminal Case Nos. Q-09-162148-72, Q-09-162216-31, Rejoinder of March 9, 2011.
Q-10-162652-66, and Q-10-163766, commonly
entitled People v. Datu Andal Ampatuan, Jr., et al. On Broadcasting the Trial of the Maguindanao
Following the transfer of venue and the reraffling of Massacre Cases
the cases, the cases are being tried by Presiding Petitioners seek the lifting of the absolute ban on
Judge Jocelyn Solis-Reyes of Branch 221 of the live television and radio coverage of court
proceedings. They principally urge the Court to
43 | C O N S T I 2 _ S e c t i o n 1 4 _ R i g h t t o S p e e d y , I m p a r t i a l a n d P u b l i c T r i a l
revisit the 1991 ruling in Re: Live TV and Radio
Coverage of the Hearing of President Corazon C. The rationale for an outright total prohibition was
Aquino's Libel Case 12 and the 2001 ruling in Re: shrouded, as it is now, inside the comfortable
Request Radio-TV Coverage of the Trial in the cocoon of a feared speculation which no scientific
Sandiganbayan of the Plunder Cases Against the study in the Philippine setting confirms, and which
Former President Joseph E. Estrada 13 which rulings, fear, if any, may be dealt with by safeguards and
they contend, violate the doctrine that proposed safety nets under existing rules and exacting
restrictions on constitutional rights are to be regulations.
narrowly construed and outright prohibition cannot
stand when regulation is a viable alternative. In this day and age, it is about time to craft a win-
win situation that shall not compromise rights in the
Petitioners state that the trial of the Maguindanao criminal administration of justice, sacrifice press
Massacre cases has attracted intense media freedom and allied rights, and interfere with the
coverage due to the gruesomeness of the crime, integrity, dignity and solemnity of judicial
prominence of the accused, and the number of proceedings. Compliance with regulations, not
media personnel killed. They inform that reporters curtailment of a right, provides a workable solution
are being frisked and searched for cameras, to the concerns raised in these administrative
recorders, and cellular devices upon entry, and matters, while, at the same time, maintaining the
that under strict orders of the trial court against live same underlying principles upheld in the two
broadcast coverage, the number of media previous cases.
practitioners allowed inside the courtroom has
been limited to one reporter for each media The basic principle upheld in Aquino is firm "[a]
institution. trial of any kind or in any court is a matter of serious
importance to all concerned and should not be
The record shows that NUJP Vice-Chairperson Jose treated as a means of entertainment[, and t]o so
Jaime Espina, by January 12, 2010 letter 14 to treat it deprives the court of the dignity which
Judge Solis-Reyes, requested a dialogue to discuss pertains to it and departs from the orderly and
concerns over media coverage of the proceedings serious quest for truth for which our judicial
of the Maguindanao Massacre cases. Judge Solis- proceedings are formulated." The observation that
Reyes replied, however, that "matters concerning "[m]assive intrusion of representatives of the news
media coverage should be brought to the Court's media into the trial itself can so alter and destroy
attention through appropriate motion." 15 Hence, the constitutionally necessary atmosphere and
the present petitions which assert the exercise of decorum" stands.
the freedom of the press, right to information, right
to a fair and public trial, right to assembly and to The Court concluded in Aquino:
petition the government for redress of grievances,
right of free access to courts, and freedom of Considering the prejudice it poses to the
association, subject to regulations to be issued by defendant's right to due process as well as to the
the Court. fair and orderly administration of justice, and
considering further that the freedom of the press
The Court partially GRANTS pro hac vice petitioners' and the right of the people to information may be
prayer for a live broadcast of the trial court served and satisfied by less distracting, degrading
proceedings, subject to the guidelines which shall and prejudicial means, live radio and television
be enumerated shortly. IaEASH coverage of court proceedings shall not be
allowed. Video footages of court hearings for news
Putt's Law 16 states that "technology is dominated purposes shall be restricted and limited to shots of
by two types of people: those who understand the courtroom, the judicial officers, the parties and
what they do not manage, and those who their counsel taken prior to the commencement of
manage what they do not understand." Indeed, official proceedings. No video shots or photographs
members of this Court cannot strip their judicial shall be permitted during the trial proper.
robe and don the experts' gown, so to speak, in a
pretense to foresee and fathom all serious Accordingly, in order to protect the parties' right to
prejudices or risks from the use of technology inside due process, to prevent the distraction of the
the courtroom. participants in the proceedings and in the last
analysis, to avoid miscarriage of justice, the Court
A decade after Estrada and a score after Aquino, resolved to PROHIBIT live radio and television
the Court is once again faced with the same task of coverage of court proceedings. Video footage of
striking that delicate balance between seemingly court hearings for news purposes shall be limited
competing yet certainly complementary rights. and restricted as above indicated. 17 SHTaID

The indication of "serious risks" posed by live media The Court had another unique opportunity in
coverage to the accused's right to due process, left Estrada to revisit the question of live radio and
unexplained and unexplored in the era obtaining in television coverage of court proceedings in a
Aquino and Estrada, has left a blow to the exercise criminal case. It held that "[t]he propriety of
of press freedom and the right to public granting or denying the instant petition involve[s]
information. the weighing out of the constitutional guarantees of
44 | C O N S T I 2 _ S e c t i o n 1 4 _ R i g h t t o S p e e d y , I m p a r t i a l a n d P u b l i c T r i a l
freedom of the press and the right to public states, except the District of Columbia, allow
information, on the one hand, and the television coverage with varying degrees of
fundamental rights of the accused, on the other openness.
hand, along with the constitutional power of a
court to control its proceedings in ensuring a fair Other jurisdictions welcome the idea of media
and impartial trial." The Court disposed: coverage. Almost all the proceedings of United
Kingdom's Supreme Court are filmed, and
The Court is not all that unmindful of recent sometimes broadcast. 22 The International Criminal
technological and scientific advances but to Court broadcasts its proceedings via video
chance forthwith the life or liberty of any person in streaming in the internet. 23
a hasty bid to use and apply them, even before
ample safety nets are provided and the concerns On the media coverage's influence on judges,
heretofore expressed are aptly addressed, is a price counsels and witnesses, petitioners point out
too high to pay. thatAquino and Estrada, like Estes, lack empirical
evidence to support the sustained conclusion. They
WHEREFORE, the petition is DENIED. point out errors of generalization where the
conclusion has been mostly supported by studies
SO ORDERED. 18 on American attitudes, as there has been no
authoritative study on the particular matter dealing
In resolving the motion for reconsideration, the with Filipinos.
Court in Estrada, by Resolution of September 13,
2001, provided a glimmer of hope when it ordered Respecting the possible influence of media
the audio-visual recording of the trial for coverage on the impartiality of trial court judges,
documentary purposes, under the following petitioners correctly explain that prejudicial
conditions: publicity insofar as it undermines the right to a fair
trial must pass the "totality of circumstances" test,
. . . (a) the trial shall be recorded in its entirety, applied in People v. Teehankee, Jr. 24 and Estrada
excepting such portions thereof as the v. Desierto, 25 that the right of an accused to a fair
Sandiganbayan may determine should not be held trial is not incompatible to a free press, that
public under Rule 119, 21 of the Rules of Criminal pervasive publicity is not per se prejudicial to the
Procedure; (b) cameras shall be installed right of an accused to a fair trial, and that there
inconspicuously inside the courtroom and the must be allegation and proof of the impaired
movement of TV crews shall be regulated capacity of a judge to render a bias-free decision.
consistent with the dignity and solemnity of the Mere fear of possible undue influence is not
proceedings; (c) the audio-visual recordings shall tantamount to actual prejudice resulting in the
be made for documentary purposes only and shall deprivation of the right to a fair trial. caSDCA
be made without comment except such
annotations of scenes depicted therein as may be Moreover, an aggrieved party has ample legal
necessary to explain them; (d) the live broadcast of remedies. He may challenge the validity of an
the recordings before the Sandiganbayan shall adverse judgment arising from a proceeding that
have rendered its decision in all the cases against transgressed a constitutional right. As pointed out
the former President shall be prohibited under pain by petitioners, an aggrieved party may early on
of contempt of court and other sanctions in case of move for a change of venue, for continuance until
violations of the prohibition; (e) to ensure that the the prejudice from publicity is abated, for
conditions are observed, the audio-visual recording disqualification of the judge, and for closure of
of the proceedings shall be made under the portions of the trial when necessary. The trial court
supervision and control of the Sandiganbayan or its may likewise exercise its power of contempt and
Division concerned and shall be made pursuant to issue gag orders.
rules promulgated by it; and (f) simultaneously with
the release of the audio-visual recordings for public One apparent circumstance that sets the
broadcast, the original thereof shall be deposited in Maguindanao Massacre cases apart from the
the National Museum and the Records earlier cases is the impossibility of accommodating
Management and Archives Office for preservation even the parties to the cases the private
and exhibition in accordance with law. 19 complainants/families of the victims and other
witnesses inside the courtroom. On public trial,
Petitioners note that the 1965 case of Estes v. Texas Estrada basically discusses:
20 which Aquino and Estrada heavily cited, was
borne out of the dynamics of a jury system, where An accused has a right to a public trial but it is a
the considerations for the possible infringement of right that belongs to him, more than anyone else,
the impartiality of a jury, whose members are not where his life or liberty can be held critically in
necessarily schooled in the law, are different from balance. A public trial aims to ensure that he is fairly
that of a judge who is versed with the rules of dealt with and would not be unjustly condemned
evidence. To petitioners, Estes also does not and that his rights are not compromised in secrete
represent the most contemporary position of the conclaves of long ago. A public trial is not
United States in the wake of latest jurisprudence 21 synonymous with publicized trial; it only implies that
and statistical figures revealing that as of 2007 all 50 the court doors must be open to those who wish to
45 | C O N S T I 2 _ S e c t i o n 1 4 _ R i g h t t o S p e e d y , I m p a r t i a l a n d P u b l i c T r i a l
come, sit in the available seats, conduct court. No panning and zooming shall be allowed to
themselves with decorum and observe the trial avoid unduly highlighting or downplaying incidents
process. In the constitutional sense, a courtroom in the proceedings. The camera and the necessary
should have enough facilities for a reasonable equipment shall be operated and controlled only
number of the public to observe the proceedings, by a duly designated official or employee of the
not too small as to render the openness negligible Supreme Court. The camera equipment should not
and not too large as to distract the trial participants produce or beam any distracting sound or light
from their proper functions, who shall then be totally rays. Signal lights or signs showing the equipment is
free to report what they have observed during the operating should not be visible. A limited number of
proceedings. 26 (underscoring supplied) IaHAcT microphones and the least installation of wiring, if
not wireless technology, must be unobtrusively
Even before considering what is a "reasonable located in places indicated by the trial court.
number of the public" who may observe the
proceedings, the peculiarity of the subject criminal The Public Information Office and the Office of the
cases is that the proceedings already necessarily Court Administrator shall coordinate and assist the
entail the presence of hundreds of families. It trial court on the physical set-up of the camera and
cannot be gainsaid that the families of the 57 equipment. ISAcHD
victims and of the 197 accused have as much
interest, beyond mere curiosity, to attend or monitor (d)The transmittal of the audio-visual recording from
the proceedings as those of the impleaded parties inside the courtroom to the media entities shall be
or trial participants. It bears noting at this juncture conducted in such a way that the least physical
that the prosecution and the defense have listed disturbance shall be ensured in keeping with the
more than 200 witnesses each. dignity and solemnity of the proceedings and the
exclusivity of the access to the media entities.
The impossibility of holding such judicial
proceedings in a courtroom that will The hardware for establishing an interconnection or
accommodate all the interested parties, whether link with the camera equipment monitoring the
private complainants or accused, is unfortunate proceedings shall be for the account of the media
enough. What more if the right itself commands entities, which should employ technology that can
that a reasonable number of the general public be (i) avoid the cumbersome snaking cables inside the
allowed to witness the proceeding as it takes place courtroom, (ii) minimize the unnecessary ingress or
inside the courtroom. Technology tends to provide egress of technicians, and (iii) preclude undue
the only solution to break the inherent limitations of commotion in case of technical glitches.
the courtroom, to satisfy the imperative of a
transparent, open and public trial. If the premises outside the courtroom lack space for
the set-up of the media entities' facilities, the media
entities shall access the audio-visual recording
In so allowing pro hac vice the live broadcasting by either via wireless technology accessible even from
radio and television of the Maguindanao Massacre outside the court premises or from one common
cases, the Court lays down the following guidelines web broadcasting platform from which streaming
toward addressing the concerns mentioned in can be accessed or derived to feed the images
Aquino and Estrada: and sounds.

(a)An audio-visual recording of the Maguindanao At all times, exclusive access by the media entities
massacre cases may be made both for to the real-time audio-visual recording should be
documentary purposes and for transmittal to live protected or encrypted.
radio and television broadcasting.
(e)The broadcasting of the proceedings for a
(b)Media entities must file with the trial court a letter particular day must be continuous and in its
of application, manifesting that they intend to entirety, excepting such portions thereof where
broadcast the audio-visual recording of the Sec. 21 of Rule 119 of the Rules of Court 27 applies,
proceedings and that they have the necessary and where the trial court excludes, upon motion,
technological equipment and technical plan to prospective witnesses from the courtroom, in
carry out the same, with an undertaking that they instances where, inter alia, there are unresolved
will faithfully comply with the guidelines and identification issues or there are issues which involve
regulations and cover the entire remaining the security of the witnesses and the integrity of
proceedings until promulgation of judgment. their testimony (e.g., the dovetailing of
corroborative testimonies is material, minority of the
No selective or partial coverage shall be allowed. witness).
No media entity shall be allowed to broadcast the
proceedings without an application duly approved The trial court may, with the consent of the parties,
by the trial court. order only the pixelization of the image of the
witness or mute the audio output, or both.
(c)A single fixed compact camera shall be installed
inconspicuously inside the courtroom to provide a (f)To provide a faithful and complete broadcast of
single wide-angle full-view of the sala of the trial the proceedings, no commercial break or any
46 | C O N S T I 2 _ S e c t i o n 1 4 _ R i g h t t o S p e e d y , I m p a r t i a l a n d P u b l i c T r i a l
other gap shall be allowed until the day's WHEREFORE, in light of the foregoing disquisition, the
proceedings are adjourned, except during the Court PARTIALLY GRANTS PRO HAC VICE the request
period of recess called by the trial court and during for live broadcast by television and radio of the trial
portions of the proceedings wherein the public is court proceedings of the Maguindanao Massacre
ordered excluded. cases, subject to the guidelines herein outlined.

(g)To avoid overriding or superimposing the audio SO ORDERED.


output from the on-going proceedings, the
proceedings shall be broadcast without any voice- Carpio, Velasco, Jr., Leonardo-de Castro, Brion,
overs, except brief annotations of scenes depicted Peralta, Bersamin, Del Castillo, Abad, Villarama, Jr.,
therein as may be necessary to explain them at the Perez, Mendoza and Sereno, JJ., concur.
start or at the end of the scene. Any commentary
shall observe the sub judice rule and be subject to Corona, C.J., is on official leave.
the contempt power of the court;
(In re Ampatuan, A.M. No. 10-11-5-SC, 10-11-6-SC,
(h)No repeat airing of the audio-visual recording 10-11-7-SC, October 23, 2012)
shall be allowed until after the finality of judgment,
except brief footages and still images derived from EN BANC
or cartographic sketches of scenes based on the
recording, only for news purposes, which shall [A.M. No. 10-11-5-SC. October 23, 2012.]
likewise observe the sub judice rule and be subject
to the contempt power of the court; IN RE: PETITION FOR RADIO AND TELEVISION
COVERAGE OF THE MULTIPLE MURDER CASES
(i)The original audio-recording shall be deposited in AGAINST MAGUINDANAO GOVERNOR ZALDY
the National Museum and the Records AMPATUAN, ET AL.
Management and Archives Office for preservation
and exhibition in accordance with law. TSADaI [A.M. No. 10-11-6-SC. October 23, 2012.]

(j)The audio-visual recording of the proceedings RE: PETITION FOR THE CONSTITUTION OF THE PRESENT
shall be made under the supervision and control of COURT HANDLING THE TRIAL OF THE MASSACRE OF
the trial court which may issue supplementary 57 PERSONS, INCLUDING 32 JOURNALISTS, IN
directives, as the exigency requires, including the AMPATUAN, MAGUINDANAO INTO A SPECIAL
suspension or revocation of the grant of application COURT HANDLING THIS CASE ALONE FOR THE
by the media entities. PURPOSE OF ACHIEVING GENUINE SPEEDY TRIAL;
AND FOR THE SETTING UP OF VIDEOCAM AND
(k)The Court shall create a special committee MONITOR OUTSIDE THE COURT FOR THE JOURNALISTS
which shall forthwith study, design and recommend TO COVER AND FOR THE PEOPLE TO WITNESS THE
appropriate arrangements, implementing "TRIAL OF THE DECADE" TO MAKE IT TRULY PUBLIC
regulations, and administrative matters referred to it AND IMPARTIAL AS COMMANDED BY THE
by the Court concerning the live broadcast of the CONSTITUTION.
proceedings pro hac vice, in accordance with the
above-outlined guidelines. The Special Committee [A.M. No. 10-11-7-SC. October 23, 2012.]
shall also report and recommend on the feasibility,
availability and affordability of the latest RE: LETTER OF PRESIDENT BENIGNO S. AQUINO III FOR
technology that would meet the herein THE "LIVE MEDIA COVERAGE OF THE
requirements. It may conduct consultations with MAGUINDANAO MASSACRE TRIAL".
resource persons and experts in the field of
information and communication technology. NOTICE

(l)All other present directives in the conduct of the Sirs/Mesdames :


proceedings of the trial court (i.e., prohibition on
recording devices such as still cameras, tape Please take notice that the Court en banc issued a
recorders; and allowable number of media Resolution dated OCTOBER 23, 2012 which reads as
practitioners inside the courtroom) shall be follows:
observed in addition to these guidelines.
"A.M. No. 10-11-5-SC (In re: Petition for Radio and
Indeed, the Court cannot gloss over what Television Coverage of the Multiple Murder Cases
advances technology has to offer in distilling the against Maguindanao Governor Zaldy Ampatuan,
abstract discussion of key constitutional precepts et al.); A.M. No. 10-11-6-SC (Re: Petition for the
into the workable context. Technology per se has constitution of the present court handling the trial of
always been neutral. It is the use and regulation the massacre of 57 persons, including 32 journalists,
thereof that need fine-tuning. Law and technology in Ampatuan, Maguindanao into a Special Court
can work to the advantage and furtherance of the handling this case alone for the purpose of
various rights herein involved, within the contours of achieving genuine speedy trial; and for the setting
defined guidelines. up of videocam and monitor outside the court for
the journalists to cover and for the people to
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witness the "Trial of the Decade" to make it truly adverse public opinion which live media coverage
public and impartial as commanded by the can produce would affect everyone, including the
Constitution); A.M. No. 10-11-7-SC (Re: Letter of judge, witnesses for the accused, and the families
President Benigno S. Aquino III for the "Live Media and relatives of all concerned parties. Ampatuan
Coverage of the Maguindanao Massacre Trial"). states that this Court should not bend to the
On June 14, 2011, this Court, through Associate clamour of pressure groups, such as media
Justice Conchita Carpio-Morales, promulgated a journalists, but should push for the basic judicial and
Resolution 1 (the June 14, 2011 Resolution) partially democratic principles of fair play and balanced
granting pro hac vice the request for live broadcast judicial process. Ampatuan asserts that "live media
by television and radio of the trial court coverage of the trial is cruel and degrading
proceedings of the "Maguindanao massacre" punishment for the accused even before he is
cases, 2 subject to specific guidelines fully set forth convicted by final judgment." 6
in said Resolution.
In a Resolution dated July 5, 2011, this Court
Subsequently, counsels for petitioners Editha required Ampatuan to comment on the Partial
Mirandilla Tiamzon (Tiamzon) and Glenna Legarta Motion for Reconsideration by petitioners Tiamzon
(Legarta) filed a Partial Motion for Reconsideration and Legarta, and also required the petitioners to
dated June 29, 2011 alleging that "the provisos (1) comment on Ampatuan's Motion for
prohibiting broadcasts on the trial without any Reconsideration.
voice-overs, except brief annotations of scenes
depicted in the proceeding that may be necessary Ampatuan filed an Opposition dated August 1,
to explain them at the start or at the end of the 2011, alleging that "petitioners want to secure
scene; (2) prohibiting the repeat airing of the audio- conviction by maximizing whatever opportunity
visual recording except upon finality of judgment or mass communications media will extend to them." 7
of brief footage and still images derived from or Ampatuan asserts that there is "no content-based
cartographic sketches of scenes based on the restriction, only responsible journalism" 8 with the
recording, and only for news purposes; and (3) guidelines provided by this Court when it mandated
requiring continuous broadcast without any that no voice-overs be made during the live
commercial break or any other gap except when telecast of the hearings. Ampatuan also contends
the day's proceedings are adjourned, or during the that there was no undue taking of private property
period of recess called by the trial court and during as the coverage is voluntary and only those who
portions of the proceedings wherein the public is are serious enough may avail of the opportunity to
ordered excluded, all substitute the Court's editorial report on the hearings. Ampatuan maintains that
judgment for media's own and therefore constitute "media coverage must not be allowed as it infringes
prior restraint that infringes the constitutional right to on his constitutional rights to fair trial, presumption of
free expression." 3 HECaTD innocence and to an impartial tribunal . . . ." 9

Petitioners Tiamzon and Legarta take issue on Petitioners National Union of Journalists of the
provisos (f), (g), and (h) of the enumerated Philippines (NUJP), et al. filed a Motion for Leave of
guidelines in the June 14, 2011 Resolution and Court to File Comment (to Tiamzon and Legarta's
allege that these must be struck down for being Partial Motion for Reconsideration) dated August
unconstitutional, as they constitute prior restraint on 15, 2011, alleging that while they were not directed
free expression because they dictate what media by this Court to comment on their co-petitioners'
can and cannot report about the "Maguindanao partial motion for reconsideration, they deemed it
massacre" trial. Petitioners Tiamzon and Legarta necessary to file a comment in order to clarify some
maintain that the restriction and penalty sought to matters that may affect its resolution. IDTSaC
be imposed on media produce a "chilling effect"
on all forms of expression about the court In their Consolidated Comment (to Tiamzon and
proceedings. Petitioners Tiamzon and Legarta also Legarta's Partial Motion for Reconsideration and
add that proviso (h) constitutes an undue taking of Ampatuan's Motion for Reconsideration) dated
property rights as it "forces media outfits to commit August 15, 2011, petitioners NUJP, et al. allege that
practically [a] big chunk of their resources to the Ampatuan's motion for reconsideration has failed to
coverage of the trial without any commercial present new and convincing arguments that would
breaks except under allowable situations . . . ." 4 merit reversal of this Court's ruling in the June 14,
2011 Resolution.
Accused Andal Ampatuan, Jr. (Ampatuan) also
filed a Motion for Reconsideration dated June 27, Petitioners NUJP, et al. declare that they opted not
2011, alleging that the June 14, 2011 Resolution to file a motion for reconsideration since they
"deprives him of his rights to due process, equal recognize the good faith underlying the gestures of
protection, presumption of innocence, and to be this Court, specifically in providing in paragraph (k)
shielded from degrading psychological of the guidelines that called for the creation of a
punishment." 5 special committee. This, according to petitioners
NUJP, et al. shows that this Court is "giving room for
Ampatuan contends that this Court should accord flexibility and experimentation and is aware that the
more vigilance in safeguarding his rights as an guidelines cannot possibly anticipate all the
accused because the immense publicity and problems and concerns that live television
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coverage of the Ampatuan trial will encounter." 10 as the right to due process of law, 16 to be
Moreover, petitioners NUJP, et al. aver that this presumed innocent until the contrary is proved, 17
Court, through the Court Administrator, has already and to an impartial and public trial 18 and the
addressed some of the concerns of the petitioner- requirement of the highest quantum of proof 19 to
media practitioners through a dialogue on June 22, justify deprivation of his liberty (or even of his life)
2011. provide more than ample justification to take a
second look at the view that a camera that
The Office of the Solicitor General (OSG) filed a broadcasts the proceedings live on television has
Comment dated August 24, 2011, for President no place in a criminal trial because of its prejudicial
Benigno S. Aquino III, alleging that the arguments effects on the rights of accused individuals. DTcASE
raised in Ampatuan's motion for reconsideration are
a mere rehash of the issues which have already This Court, in Re: Live TV and Radio Coverage of the
been judiciously passed upon by this Court. The Hearing of President Corazon C. Aquino's Libel
OSG maintains that "the coverage by live media of Case, 20 found that the live coverage of judicial
hearings neither constitutes a barbarous act nor proceedings involve an inherent denial of due
inflicts upon the accused inhuman physical harm or process, which we quote:
torture that is shocking to the conscience. The fact
that more than the usual number of court Experience likewise has established the prejudicial
attendees could witness the criminal trial will not effect of telecasting on witnesses. Witnesses might
convert the attendance thereto into a degrading be frightened, play to the camera, or become
and cruel punishment." 11 The OSG avers that nervous. They are subject to extraordinary out-of-
Ampatuan failed to adduce any new matter to court influences which might affect their testimony.
modify the Resolution of this Court. DcITaC Also, telecasting not only increases the trial judge's
responsibility to avoid actual prejudice to the
Upon reconsideration, and after weighing once defendant, it may as well affect his own
more the rights guaranteed by the Constitution that performance. Judges are human beings also and
are involved in this case, this Court partially grants are subject to the same psychological reactions as
reconsideration of the June 14, 2011 Resolution. For laymen. For the defendant, telecasting is a form of
reasons to be discussed below, this Court is now mental harassment and subjects him to excessive
disallowing the live media broadcast of the trial of public exposure and distracts him from the effective
the "Maguindanao massacre" cases but is still presentation of his defense.
allowing the filming of the proceedings for (1) the
real-time transmission to specified viewing areas, The television camera is a powerful weapon which
and (2) documentation. intentionally or inadvertently can destroy an
accused and his case in the eyes of the public. 21
The Court in the June 14, 2011 Resolution
recognized "the impossibility of accommodating In this case that has achieved notoriety and
even the parties to the cases the private sensational status, a greater degree of care is
complainants/families of the victims and other required to safeguard the constitutional rights of the
witnesses inside the courtroom," as there were 57 accused. To be in the best position to weigh the
victims and 197 accused that were involved, and conflicting testimonies of the witnesses, the judge
under strict guidelines, made use of modern must not be affected by any outside force or
technology "to provide the only solution to break influence. Like any human being, however, a judge
the inherent limitations of the courtroom, to satisfy is not immune from the pervasive effects of media.
the imperative of a transparent, open and public 22
trial." 12
So must the witnesses be shielded from the pressure
Upon review of the matter, however, the Court has of being aware that their testimony is broadcasted
sought a way to provide a public trial as required live over television and radio, to be scrutinized and
by the Constitution 13 and the Rules, 14 which is a judged by the court of public opinion. A witness'
right granted to the accused, without inviting behavior and self-consciousness before the camera
media frenzy that affect the due process rights of in a high-profile case such as this case might
the accused in this high-profile case. compromise the reliability of the fact-finding
process, which in turn could skew the judge's
While this Court recognizes the freedom of the press assessment of his or her credibility, necessarily
and the right to public information, which, by the affecting the resolution of the case. cEaCTS
way, are rights that belong to non-direct parties to
the case, the rights of the direct parties should not In a constitutional sense, public trial is not
be forgotten. In a clash among these competing synonymous with publicized trial. 23 The right to a
interests and in terms of the values the Constitution public trial belongs to the accused. The
recognizes, jurisprudence makes it clear that the requirement of a public trial is satisfied by the
balance should always be weighed in favor of the opportunity of the members of the public and the
accused. 15 press to attend the trial and to report what they
have observed. 24 The accused's right to a public
The constitutional rights specific to the accused trial should not be confused with the freedom of the
under Section 14, Article III of the Constitution such press and the public's right to know as a justification
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for allowing the live broadcast of the trial. The premises; and (ii) selected trial courts in
tendency of a high profile case like the subject Maguindanao, Koronadal, South Cotabato, and
case to generate undue publicity with its General Santos City where the relatives of the
concomitant undesirable effects weighs heavily accused and the victims reside. Said trial courts
against broadcasting the trial. Moreover, the fact shall be identified by the Office of the Court
that the accused has legal remedies after the fact Administrator. These viewing areas shall be under
is of no moment, since the damage has been done the control of the trial court judges involved, subject
and may be irreparable. It must be pointed out that to this Court's supervision. aIcDCH
the fundamental right to due process of the
accused cannot be afforded after the fact but b.The viewing area will be installed to
must be protected at the first instance. accommodate the public who want to observe the
proceedings within the Camp Bagong Diwa
To address the physical impossibility of premises. The streaming of this video coverage
accommodating the large number of interested within the different court premises in Mindanao will
parties inside the courtroom in Camp Bagong Diwa, be installed so that the relatives of the parties and
it is not necessary to allow the press to broadcast the interested public can watch the proceedings in
the proceedings here and abroad, but the Court real time.
may allow the opening of closed-circuit viewing
areas outside the courtroom where those who may c.A single fixed compact camera shall be installed
be so minded can come and watch the inconspicuously inside the courtroom to provide a
proceedings. This out-of-court, real-time viewing single wide-angle full-view of the sala of the trial
grants to a larger audience the opportunity to court. No panning and zooming shall be allowed to
monitor the proceedings as if they were inside the avoid unduly highlighting or downplaying incidents
trial court but at the same time obviates the in the proceedings. The camera and the necessary
massive publicity entailed in media broadcasting. equipment shall be operated and controlled only
This is similar to the procedure adopted by this by a duly designated official or employee of the
Court in allowing members of the public to watch Supreme Court.
its oral arguments at a viewing area outside of the
Session Hall where a large monitor projects the d.The transmittal of the audio-visual recording from
images and sounds from inside the Session Hall in inside the courtroom to the closed-circuit viewing
real time. areas shall be conducted in such a way that the
least physical disturbance shall be ensured in
Aside from providing a viewing area outside the keeping with the dignity and solemnity of the
courtroom in Camp Bagong Diwa, closed-circuit proceedings. CHATEa
viewing areas can also be opened in selected trial
courts in Maguindanao, Koronadal, South e.The Public Information Office and the Office of
Cotabato, and General Santos City where most of the Court Administrator shall coordinate and assist
the relatives of the accused and the victims reside, the trial courts involved on the physical set-up of
enabling them to watch the trial without having to the camera and equipment.
come to Camp Bagong Diwa. These viewing areas
will, at all times, be under the control of the trial f.The original audio-recording shall be deposited in
court judges involved, subject to this Court's the National Museum and the Records
supervision. Management and Archives Office for preservation
and exhibition in accordance with law.
WHEREFORE, premises considered, the Court
resolves to: g.The audio-visual recording of the proceedings
and its transmittal shall be made under the control
1.DENY the Partial Motion for Reconsideration of the trial court which may issue supplementary
dated June 29, 2011 of petitioners Editha Mirandilla directives, as the exigency requires, subject to this
Tiamzon and Glenna Legarta; Court's supervision.

2.PARTIALLY GRANT the Motion for Reconsideration h.In all cases, the witnesses should be excluded
dated June 27, 2011 filed by accused Andal from watching the proceedings, whether inside the
Ampatuan, Jr. and to MODIFY this Court's Resolution courtroom or in the designated viewing areas. The
dated June 14, 2011, by disallowing the live media Presiding Judge shall issue the appropriate orders to
broadcast of the trial in Criminal Case Nos. Q-09- insure compliance with this directive and for the
162148-72, Q-09-162216-31, Q-10-162652-66, and Q- imposition of appropriate sanctions for its violation."
10-163766, subject to the following guidelines on Carpio, J., on official leave. Del Castillo, J., on
audio-visual recording and streaming of the video leave. Perez, J., on official leave. (adv98)
coverage:
Very truly yours,
a.An audio-visual recording of the Maguindanao (SGD.) ENRIQUETA E. VIDAL
massacre cases may be made both for
documentary purposes and for transmittal to Clerk of Court
specified closed-circuit viewing areas: (i) outside
the courtroom, within the Camp Bagong Diwa's
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