You are on page 1of 5

People vs.

Abatayo dubious and weak the denial and alibi interposed by the
G.R. No. 139456, July 7, 2004 appellant. According to the court, such defenses could
not prevail over the positive identification made by
FACTS: Juanito of the appellant as the perpetrator of the crime.
The appellant was charged with the crime of double
murder. Upon arraignment, the appellant, assisted by ISSUE:
counsel, pleaded not guilty. 1. Whether or not the Trial Court erred in not
ordering the striking out of the entire testimony
The first witness for the prosecution was Juanito of the prosecutions alleged eyewitness Juanito
Gutang, whose direct examination was terminated Guyang anent the crime charged in view of his
during the trial of November 22, 1994. The appellant's unjustified failure to allow himself to be further
counsel commenced with his cross-examination of the cross-examined.
witness, but later prayed for a resetting as he still had
many questions for the said witness. The court granted RULING:
the motion. However, during the continuation of the trial NO. Under Article III, Section 14(2) of the 1987
on January 23, 1995, Juanito failed to appear due to Constitution, the appellant has the right to meet the
fever. The public prosecutor then asked the court to witnesses against him face to face. Under Rule 115,
defer the further cross-examination of Juanito until he Section 1(f) of the Rules of Court, he has the right to
recovered from his illness, and that he be allowed to confront and cross-examine the witnesses against him at
present his second witness, Apolonio Quilag. The the trial, a fundamental right which is part of due
appellant did not object. The court granted the motion, process. However, the right of confrontation and cross-
but warned the public prosecutor that if Juanito would examination is a personal one. It is not an absolute right
not appear to continue with his testimony by the next which a party can claim at all times.
trial date, his testimony would be stricken off the record.
However, such warning was not contained in the order In Savory Luncheonette v. Lakas ng Manggagawang
issued by the court on even date. Pilipino, we ruled that the right to confront the witness
may be waived by the accused, expressly or impliedly.
During the trial on May 22, 1995, the public prosecutor
manifested that he was ready to offer his documentary The right of a party to confront and cross-
evidence and rest his case thereafter. He offered in examine opposing witnesses in a judicial
evidence the affidavit of Juanito as part of his litigation, be it criminal or civil in nature, or in
documentary evidence. The appellant objected to the proceedings before administrative tribunals with
admission of the affidavit for the purpose for which it quasi-judicial powers, is a fundamental right
was offered. The court nevertheless admitted the which is part of due process. However, the right
affidavit and the public prosecutor rested his case. is a personal one which may be waived,
expressly or impliedly, by conduct amounting to
After trial, the court rendered a decision, the dispositive a renunciation of the right of cross-examination.
portion of which reads: Thus, where a party has had the opportunity to
Foregoing considered and in the light of cross-examine a witness but failed to avail
Prosecution witness Juanito Gutang's positive himself of it, he necessarily forfeits the right to
identification and eyewitness account of the cross-examine and the testimony given on direct
killing, the Court is constrained and so finds the examination of the witness will be received or
Accused GUILTY of the crime of two counts of allowed to remain in the record.
Murder. Accordingly, Accused is sentenced to
suffer the penalty of Reclusion Perpetua for The conduct of a party which may be construed
each count of Murder. as an implied waiver of the right to cross-
examine may take various forms. But the
In convicting the appellant, the trial court relied on the common basic principle underlying the
testimony of Apolonio and eyewitness Juanito Gutang, application of the rule on implied waiver is that
which were corroborated by the medical findings the party was given the opportunity to confront
showing the nature and the location of the wounds and cross-examine an opposing witness but
inflicted on the victims. The court brushed aside as
failed to take advantage of it for reasons During the trial on April 17, 1995, the public prosecutor
attributable to himself alone. manifested, following the stipulation of the parties on
the authenticity of Dr. Ladislao Diola, Jr.'s necropsy
In the later case of Fulgado v. Court of Appeals, we report, that he would be ready to rest his case by the
ruled that the task of recalling a witness for cross- next trial. Again, the appellant did not call the attention
examination is imposed on the party who wishes to of the court on the fact that he had not yet finished his
exercise said right, and stressed that it should be the cross-examination of Juanito. He did not ask to be
opposing counsel who should move to cross-examine allowed to terminate the cross-examination of the
the plaintiff's witness. Thus: witness first before allowing the prosecution to rest its
case. Neither did the appellant ask the court to strike
The task of recalling a witness for cross- Juanito's testimony on direct and cross-examination
examination is, in law, imposed on the party from the records. When the case was called for trial on
who wishes to exercise said right. This is so May 22, 1995, the public prosecutor announced that he
because the right, being personal and waivable, had no more witness to present and was ready to
the intention to utilize it must be expressed. formally offer his documentary evidence. There was no
Silence or failure to assert it on time amounts to objection from the appellant. Neither did the appellant
a renunciation thereof. Thus, it should be the object to the offer of Juanito's affidavit 40 as part of his
counsel for the opposing party who should move testimony, on the ground that he was deprived of his
to cross-examine plaintiff's witnesses. It is right to complete his cross-examination of the said
absurd for the plaintiff himself to ask the court witness. Moreover, when he testified, the appellant
to schedule the cross-examination of his own disputed the testimony of Juanito that he killed the
witnesses because it is not his obligation to victims, claiming that he was at home when the victims
ensure that his deponents are cross-examined. were killed. The appellant adduced testimonial evidence
Having presented his witnesses, the burden corroborating his alibi.
shifts to his opponent who must now make the
appropriate move. Indeed, the rule of placing All the foregoing instances conclusively show that the
the burden of the case on plaintiff's shoulders appellant had waived his right to further cross-examine
can be construed to extremes as what happened Juanito. From the conduct of the appellant's counsel, it
in the instant proceedings. can be fairly inferred that he considered the initial cross-
examination of Juanito adequate, and that there was no
In this case, we are convinced that the appellant waived longer a need to further cross-examine the witness.
his right to further cross-examine Juanito. The records
show that Juanito testified for the prosecution on direct
examination on November 22, 1994. Thereafter, the Cariaga vs. CA
appellant's counsel cross-examined the witness on the G.R. No. 143561, June 6, 2001
corpus delicti. He then moved for a resetting as he still
had many questions to ask the witness. Juanito failed to FACTS:
attend the trial on January 23, 1995 for the continuation Petitioner, permanent driver of Davao Light and Power
of his cross-examination because he had a fever. The Co. (DLPC), was charged with qualified theft. Evidence
appellant did not object to the deferment of Juanito's for the prosecution disclosed that petitioner sold several
cross-examination; neither did he object to the public equipment and supplies kept in his truck to Florencio
prosecutor's presentation of Apolonio Quilag as its Siton, an undercover agent hired by the respondent
second witness. The trial was reset to March 2, 1995 for company. Siton testified that his transactions with
the continuation of Juanito's cross-examination. 39 petitioner were made thru Ricardo Cariaga, petitioner's
However, no subpoena ad testificandum was issued to cousin, who acted as the latter's fence. Also submitted in
Juanito for the said trial. There is, likewise, no showing evidence was the sworn statement of Ricardo Cariaga,
whether Juanito was in court on March 2, 1995 when which was attached to respondent company's position
the case was called. Furthermore, the appellant did not paper in the illegal dismissal case pointing to petitioner
object when the public prosecutor presented PO2 as the source of the pilfered materials. Though
Andales and Silvina Basalan as witnesses. subpoenaed once, Ricardo failed to testify. The sheriff
was informed by Ricardo's wife that he was in Sultan
Kudarat, a mere four (4) hour drive from Davao City. one that cannot be found despite due diligence,
The defense timely objected to the admissibility of the unavailable or unable to testify. We are inclined to rule
sworn statement, but was overruled. in the negative and reverse the Court of Appeals on this
The trial court gave credence to Siton's testimony which
corroborated that of Ricardo Cariaga's sworn statement. It must be emphasized that this rule is strictly complied
Judgment was rendered convicting petitioner as charged with in criminal cases; hence, "mere sending of
with the aggravating circumstance of use of motor subpoena and failure to appear is not sufficient to prove
vehicle. Conviction was affirmed on appeal to the Court inability to testify. The Court must exercise its coercive
of Appeals. power to arrest." 10 In the instant case, no efforts were
exerted to have the witness arrested which is a remedy
Hence, this recourse assailing the credibility of the available to a party-litigant in instances where witnesses
prosecution witnesses and the admissibility of the sworn who are duly subpoenaed fail to appear. On this score
statement of Ricardo who did not testify in open court. alone, the sworn statement of Ricardo Cariaga should
not have been admitted as evidence for the prosecution,
ISSUE: and we shall no longer delve into the other aspects of
1. Whether or not the court erred in admitting in this rule.
evidence the sworn statement of Ricardo
Cariaga without him taking the witness stand
since it violates the fundamental right of the Jacob vs. Sandiganbayan
accused to meet the witnesses against him face G.R. No. 162206, November 17, 2010
to face.
RULING: The Office of the Ombudsman issued a Resolution dated
YES. In Toledo, Jr. vs. People, 7 this Court emphasized March 27, 2000 finding probable cause against several
that "the preconditions set forth in Section 47, Rule 130 public officers and private individuals, including
for the admission of testimony given by a witness out of petitioners Monico V. Jacob (Jacob), President, and
court must be strictly complied with and that there is Celso L. Legarda (Legarda), Vice-President and General
more reason to adopt such a strict rule in the case of Manager for Marketing, both of Petron, for perpetrating
Section 1(f) of Rule 115, for apart from being a rule of the so-called "tax credit scam."
evidence with additional specific requisites to those
prescribed by Section 47, more importantly, said Petitioners provided an undisputed account of the events
provision is an implementing translation of the that subsequently took place before the Sandiganbayan:
constitutional right of an accused person "to meet the
witnesses (against him) face to face." In Tan vs. Court On April 14, 2000, petitioners and the four other Petron
of Appeals, 8 it was ruled that "'unable to testify' or for officers who were similarly charged filed a Motion for
that matter 'unavailability', does not cover the case of Reinvestigation [with the Office of the Ombudsman].
witnesses who were subpoenaed but did not appear. It
may refer to inability proceeding from a grave cause, On 17 April 2000, the [Sandiganbayan Fourth Division]
almost amounting to death, as when the witness is old issued an Order giving the prosecution a period of sixty
and has lost the power of speech. It does not refer to (60) days within which
tampering of witnesses." to re-assess its evidence in these cases and to take
appropriate action on the said motion for reconsideration
The records reveal that witness Ricardo Cariaga was of accused movants and to inform the Court within the
subpoenaed only once and did not appear to testify in same period as to its findings and recommendations
the criminal case against petitioner. Concededly, this including the action thereon of the Honorable
witness was not deceased or out of the Philippines. In Ombudsman.
fact, the private prosecutor informed the court that he is
in Sultan Kudarat, 9 and previously, his wife informed Sixty (60) days passed but the Office of the Ombudsman
the sheriff that he was in Sultan Kudarat which is in did not even bother to submit a report on the status of
Cotabato, a mere four hours drive from Davao City. the motions for reconsideration. Months passed, and
Against this backdrop, can this witness be categorized as
then, AN ENTIRE YEAR PASSED. There was still nothing In determining whether the accused has been deprived
from the respondent Office of the Ombudsman. of his right to a speedy disposition of the case and to a
speedy trial, four factors must be considered: (a) length
In the meantime, petitioner Jacob was arraigned on 1 of delay; (b) the reason for the delay; (c) the
June 2000 while petitioner Legarda was arraigned on 18 defendants assertion of his right; and (d) prejudice to
May 2001. the defendant. Prejudice should be assessed in the light
of the interest of the defendant that the speedy trial was
In all the hearings conducted in the cases the defense designed to protect, namely: to prevent oppressive pre-
verbally and consistently invoked their right to speedy trial incarceration; to minimize anxiety and concerns of
trial and moved for the dismissal of the cases. In the the accused to trial; and to limit the possibility that his
course of more than one year, however, the defense will be impaired. Of these, the most serious is
[Sandiganbayan 4th Division] kept affording the the last.
prosecution one chance after another. The sixty days
granted to the prosecution became more than four Irrefragably, there had been an undue and inordinate
hundred days still, there was no resolution in sight. delay in the reinvestigation of the cases by the Office of
the Ombudsman, which failed to submit its
Justice Nario, as the Chairman of the Sandiganbayan reinvestigation report despite the lapse of the 60-day
Fourth Division, ordered the dismissal of all criminal period set by the Sandiganbayan, and even more than a
cases arising from the purported tax credit scam on the year thereafter.
ground that the accused, including petitioners, had
already been deprived of their right to a speedy trial and Nevertheless, while the re-investigation by the Office of
disposition of the cases against them. Petitioners assert the Ombudsman delayed the proceedings in Criminal
that the Sandiganbayan gravely abused its discretion in Case Nos. 25922-25939, the said process could not have
reversing Justice Narios order of dismissal of Criminal been dispensed with as it was undertaken for the
Case Nos. 25922-25939 because such reversal violated protection of the rights of petitioners themselves (and
petitioners constitutional right against double jeopardy. their co-accused) and their rights should not be
compromised at the expense of expediency.
1. Whether or not Sandiganbayan committed grave In Corpuz, we warned against the overzealous or
abuse of discretion amounting to lack or excess precipitate dismissal of a case that may enable the
of jurisdiction in denying petitioners right to defendant, who may be guilty, to go free without having
speedy trial. been tried, thereby infringing the societal interest in
trying people accused of crimes rather than granting
RULING: them immunization because of legal error.
NO. An accuseds right to "have a speedy, impartial, and We agree with the Sandiganbayan Special Fourth
public trial" is guaranteed in criminal cases by Section Division that Justice Narios dismissal of the criminal
14(2), Article III of the Constitution. This right to a cases was unwarranted under the circumstances, since
speedy trial may be defined as one free from vexatious, the State should not be prejudiced and deprived of its
capricious and oppressive delays, its "salutary objective" right to prosecute the criminal cases simply because of
being to assure that an innocent person may be free the ineptitude or nonchalance of the Office of the
from the anxiety and expense of a court litigation or, if Ombudsman.
otherwise, of having his guilt determined within the
shortest possible time compatible with the presentation There can be no denying the fact that the petitioners, as
and consideration of whatsoever legitimate defense he well as the other accused, was prejudiced by the delay
may interpose. Intimating historical perspective on the in the reinvestigation of the cases and the submission by
evolution of the right to speedy trial, we reiterate the old the Ombudsman/Special Prosecutor of his report
legal maxim, "justice delayed is justice denied." This oft- thereon. So was the State. We have balanced the
repeated adage requires the expeditious resolution of societal interest involved in the cases and the need to
disputes, much more so in criminal cases where an give substance to the petitioners constitutional rights
accused is constitutionally guaranteed the right to a and their quest for justice, and we are convinced that
speedy trial. the dismissal of the cases is too drastic a remedy to be
accorded to the petitioners. The People has yet to prove
the guilt of the petitioners of the crimes charged beyond
reasonable doubt. We agree with the ruling of the
Sandiganbayan that before resorting to the extreme
sanction of depriving the petitioner a chance to prove its
case by dismissing the cases, the Ombudsman/Special
Prosecutor should be ordered by the Sandiganbayan
under pain of contempt, to explain the delay in the
submission of his report on his reinvestigation.