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Republic of the Philippines 1061, 1085, 1143, 1165, 1166, 1242, 1246, 1250, 1278,

SUPREME COURT 1279, 1300, 1644, 1772, 1808, 1810, 1813-1817, 1819-
1826, 1829-1840, 1842-1847.
Manila
b] Letter of Instructions Nos.: 10, 39, 49, 72, 107, 108, 116,
EN BANC 130, 136, 141, 150, 153, 155, 161, 173, 180, 187, 188, 192,
193, 199, 202, 204, 205, 209, 211-213, 215-224, 226-228,
G.R. No. L-63915 April 24, 1985 231-239, 241-245, 248, 251, 253-261, 263-269, 271-273,
275-283, 285-289, 291, 293, 297-299, 301-303, 309, 312-
315, 325, 327, 343, 346, 349, 357, 358, 362, 367, 370, 382,
LORENZO M. TAADA, ABRAHAM F. SARMIENTO, and 385, 386, 396-397, 405, 438-440, 444- 445, 473, 486, 488,
MOVEMENT OF ATTORNEYS FOR BROTHERHOOD, 498, 501, 399, 527, 561, 576, 587, 594, 599, 600, 602, 609,
INTEGRITY AND NATIONALISM, INC. [MABINI], petitioners, 610, 611, 612, 615, 641, 642, 665, 702, 712-713, 726, 837-
vs. 839, 878-879, 881, 882, 939-940, 964,997,1149-1178,1180-
HON. JUAN C. TUVERA, in his capacity as Executive 1278.
Assistant to the President, HON. JOAQUIN VENUS, in his
c] General Orders Nos.: 14, 52, 58, 59, 60, 62, 63, 64 & 65.
capacity as Deputy Executive Assistant to the President ,
MELQUIADES P. DE LA CRUZ, in his capacity as Director, d] Proclamation Nos.: 1126, 1144, 1147, 1151, 1196, 1270,
Malacaang Records Office, and FLORENDO S. PABLO, in 1281, 1319-1526, 1529, 1532, 1535, 1538, 1540-1547,
his capacity as Director, Bureau of Printing, respondents. 1550-1558, 1561-1588, 1590-1595, 1594-1600, 1606-1609,
1612-1628, 1630-1649, 1694-1695, 1697-1701, 1705-1723,
1731-1734, 1737-1742, 1744, 1746-1751, 1752, 1754, 1762,
1764-1787, 1789-1795, 1797, 1800, 1802-1804, 1806-1807,
1812-1814, 1816, 1825-1826, 1829, 1831-1832, 1835-1836,
ESCOLIN, J.: 1839-1840, 1843-1844, 1846-1847, 1849, 1853-1858, 1860,
1866, 1868, 1870, 1876-1889, 1892, 1900, 1918, 1923,
Invoking the people's right to be informed on matters of public 1933, 1952, 1963, 1965-1966, 1968-1984, 1986-2028, 2030-
concern, a right recognized in Section 6, Article IV of the 1973 2044, 2046-2145, 2147-2161, 2163-2244.
Philippine Constitution, 1 as well as the principle that laws to be valid
e] Executive Orders Nos.: 411, 413, 414, 427, 429-454, 457-
and enforceable must be published in the Official Gazette or otherwise
471, 474-492, 494-507, 509-510, 522, 524-528, 531-532,
effectively promulgated, petitioners seek a writ of mandamus to compel
536, 538, 543-544, 549, 551-553, 560, 563, 567-568, 570,
respondent public officials to publish, and/or cause the publication in the
574, 593, 594, 598-604, 609, 611- 647, 649-677, 679-703,
Official Gazette of various presidential decrees, letters of instructions,
705-707, 712-786, 788-852, 854-857.
general orders, proclamations, executive orders, letter of implementation and
administrative orders.
f] Letters of Implementation Nos.: 7, 8, 9, 10, 11-22, 25-27,
39, 50, 51, 59, 76, 80-81, 92, 94, 95, 107, 120, 122, 123.
Specifically, the publication of the following presidential issuances is sought:

g] Administrative Orders Nos.: 347, 348, 352-354, 360- 378,


a] Presidential Decrees Nos. 12, 22, 37, 38, 59, 64, 103,
380-433, 436-439.
171, 179, 184, 197, 200, 234, 265, 286, 298, 303, 312, 324,
325, 326, 337, 355, 358, 359, 360, 361, 368, 404, 406, 415,
427, 429, 445, 447, 473, 486, 491, 503, 504, 521, 528, 551, The respondents, through the Solicitor General, would have this case
566, 573, 574, 594, 599, 644, 658, 661, 718, 731, 733, 793, dismissed outright on the ground that petitioners have no legal personality or
800, 802, 835, 836, 923, 935, 961, 1017-1030, 1050, 1060- standing to bring the instant petition. The view is submitted that in the
absence of any showing that petitioners are personally and directly affected municipal president in the town of Silay, Negros Occidental. Speaking for this
or prejudiced by the alleged non-publication of the presidential issuances in Court, Mr. Justice Grant T. Trent said:
question 2 said petitioners are without the requisite legal personality to
institute this mandamus proceeding, they are not being "aggrieved parties" We are therefore of the opinion that the weight of authority
within the meaning of Section 3, Rule 65 of the Rules of Court, which we supports the proposition that the relator is a proper party to
quote: proceedings of this character when a public right is sought to
be enforced. If the general rule in America were otherwise,
SEC. 3. Petition for Mandamus.When any tribunal, we think that it would not be applicable to the case at bar for
corporation, board or person unlawfully neglects the the reason 'that it is always dangerous to apply a general
performance of an act which the law specifically enjoins as a rule to a particular case without keeping in mind the reason
duty resulting from an office, trust, or station, or unlawfully for the rule, because, if under the particular circumstances
excludes another from the use a rd enjoyment of a right or the reason for the rule does not exist, the rule itself is not
office to which such other is entitled, and there is no other applicable and reliance upon the rule may well lead to error'
plain, speedy and adequate remedy in the ordinary course of
law, the person aggrieved thereby may file a verified petition No reason exists in the case at bar for applying the general
in the proper court alleging the facts with certainty and rule insisted upon by counsel for the respondent. The
praying that judgment be rendered commanding the circumstances which surround this case are different from
defendant, immediately or at some other specified time, to those in the United States, inasmuch as if the relator is not a
do the act required to be done to Protect the rights of the proper party to these proceedings no other person could be,
petitioner, and to pay the damages sustained by the as we have seen that it is not the duty of the law officer of
petitioner by reason of the wrongful acts of the defendant. the Government to appear and represent the people in
cases of this character.
Upon the other hand, petitioners maintain that since the subject of the
petition concerns a public right and its object is to compel the performance of The reasons given by the Court in recognizing a private citizen's legal
a public duty, they need not show any specific interest for their petition to be personality in the aforementioned case apply squarely to the present petition.
given due course. Clearly, the right sought to be enforced by petitioners herein is a public right
recognized by no less than the fundamental law of the land. If petitioners
The issue posed is not one of first impression. As early as the 1910 case of were not allowed to institute this proceeding, it would indeed be difficult to
Severino vs. Governor General, 3 this Court held that while the general rule is conceive of any other person to initiate the same, considering that the
that "a writ of mandamus would be granted to a private individual only in Solicitor General, the government officer generally empowered to represent
those cases where he has some private or particular interest to be the people, has entered his appearance for respondents in this case.
subserved, or some particular right to be protected, independent of that
which he holds with the public at large," and "it is for the public officers Respondents further contend that publication in the Official Gazette is not a
exclusively to apply for the writ when public rights are to be subserved sine qua non requirement for the effectivity of laws where the laws
[Mithchell vs. Boardmen, 79 M.e., 469]," nevertheless, "when the question is themselves provide for their own effectivity dates. It is thus submitted that
one of public right and the object of the mandamus is to procure the since the presidential issuances in question contain special provisions as to
enforcement of a public duty, the people are regarded as the real party in the date they are to take effect, publication in the Official Gazette is not
interest and the relator at whose instigation the proceedings are instituted indispensable for their effectivity. The point stressed is anchored on Article 2
need not show that he has any legal or special interest in the result, it being of the Civil Code:
sufficient to show that he is a citizen and as such interested in the execution
of the laws [High, Extraordinary Legal Remedies, 3rd ed., sec. 431]. Art. 2. Laws shall take effect after fifteen days following the
completion of their publication in the Official Gazette, unless
Thus, in said case, this Court recognized the relator Lope Severino, a private it is otherwise provided, ...
individual, as a proper party to the mandamus proceedings brought to
compel the Governor General to call a special election for the position of
The interpretation given by respondent is in accord with this Court's themselves of the specific contents and texts of such decrees. As the
construction of said article. In a long line of decisions, 4 this Court has ruled Supreme Court of Spain ruled: "Bajo la denominacion generica de leyes, se
that publication in the Official Gazette is necessary in those cases where the comprenden tambien los reglamentos, Reales decretos, Instrucciones,
legislation itself does not provide for its effectivity date-for then the date of Circulares y Reales ordines dictadas de conformidad con las mismas por el
publication is material for determining its date of effectivity, which is the Gobierno en uso de su potestad. 5
fifteenth day following its publication-but not when the law itself provides for
the date when it goes into effect. The very first clause of Section I of Commonwealth Act 638 reads: "There
shall be published in the Official Gazette ... ." The word "shall" used therein
Respondents' argument, however, is logically correct only insofar as it imposes upon respondent officials an imperative duty. That duty must be
equates the effectivity of laws with the fact of publication. Considered in the enforced if the Constitutional right of the people to be informed on matters of
light of other statutes applicable to the issue at hand, the conclusion is easily public concern is to be given substance and reality. The law itself makes a
reached that said Article 2 does not preclude the requirement of publication list of what should be published in the Official Gazette. Such listing, to our
in the Official Gazette, even if the law itself provides for the date of its mind, leaves respondents with no discretion whatsoever as to what must be
effectivity. Thus, Section 1 of Commonwealth Act 638 provides as follows: included or excluded from such publication.

Section 1. There shall be published in the Official Gazette [1] The publication of all presidential issuances "of a public nature" or "of general
all important legisiative acts and resolutions of a public applicability" is mandated by law. Obviously, presidential decrees that
nature of the, Congress of the Philippines; [2] all executive provide for fines, forfeitures or penalties for their violation or otherwise
and administrative orders and proclamations, except such as impose a burden or. the people, such as tax and revenue measures, fall
have no general applicability; [3] decisions or abstracts of within this category. Other presidential issuances which apply only to
decisions of the Supreme Court and the Court of Appeals as particular persons or class of persons such as administrative and executive
may be deemed by said courts of sufficient importance to be orders need not be published on the assumption that they have been
so published; [4] such documents or classes of documents circularized to all concerned. 6
as may be required so to be published by law; and [5] such
documents or classes of documents as the President of the It is needless to add that the publication of presidential issuances "of a public
Philippines shall determine from time to time to have general nature" or "of general applicability" is a requirement of due process. It is a
applicability and legal effect, or which he may authorize so to rule of law that before a person may be bound by law, he must first be
be published. ... officially and specifically informed of its contents. As Justice Claudio
Teehankee said in Peralta vs. COMELEC 7:
The clear object of the above-quoted provision is to give the general public
adequate notice of the various laws which are to regulate their actions and In a time of proliferating decrees, orders and letters of
conduct as citizens. Without such notice and publication, there would be no instructions which all form part of the law of the land, the
basis for the application of the maxim "ignorantia legis non excusat." It would requirement of due process and the Rule of Law demand
be the height of injustice to punish or otherwise burden a citizen for the that the Official Gazette as the official government repository
transgression of a law of which he had no notice whatsoever, not even a promulgate and publish the texts of all such decrees, orders
constructive one. and instructions so that the people may know where to
obtain their official and specific contents.
Perhaps at no time since the establishment of the Philippine Republic has
the publication of laws taken so vital significance that at this time when the The Court therefore declares that presidential issuances of general
people have bestowed upon the President a power heretofore enjoyed solely application, which have not been published, shall have no force and effect.
by the legislature. While the people are kept abreast by the mass media of Some members of the Court, quite apprehensive about the possible
the debates and deliberations in the Batasan Pambansaand for the diligent unsettling effect this decision might have on acts done in reliance of the
ones, ready access to the legislative recordsno such publicity validity of those presidential decrees which were published only during the
accompanies the law-making process of the President. Thus, without pendency of this petition, have put the question as to whether the Court's
publication, the people have no means of knowing what presidential decrees declaration of invalidity apply to P.D.s which had been enforced or
have actually been promulgated, much less a definite way of informing
implemented prior to their publication. The answer is all too familiar. In similar undisputed that none of these unpublished PDs has ever been implemented
situations in the past this Court had taken the pragmatic and realistic course or enforced by the government. In Pesigan vs. Angeles, 11 the Court, through
set forth in Chicot County Drainage District vs. Baxter Bank 8 to wit: Justice Ramon Aquino, ruled that "publication is necessary to apprise the
public of the contents of [penal] regulations and make the said penalties
The courts below have proceeded on the theory that the Act binding on the persons affected thereby. " The cogency of this holding is
of Congress, having been found to be unconstitutional, was apparently recognized by respondent officials considering the manifestation
not a law; that it was inoperative, conferring no rights and in their comment that "the government, as a matter of policy, refrains from
imposing no duties, and hence affording no basis for the prosecuting violations of criminal laws until the same shall have been
challenged decree. Norton v. Shelby County, 118 U.S. 425, published in the Official Gazette or in some other publication, even though
442; Chicago, 1. & L. Ry. Co. v. Hackett, 228 U.S. 559, 566. some criminal laws provide that they shall take effect immediately.
It is quite clear, however, that such broad statements as to
the effect of a determination of unconstitutionality must be WHEREFORE, the Court hereby orders respondents to publish in the Official
taken with qualifications. The actual existence of a statute, Gazette all unpublished presidential issuances which are of general
prior to such a determination, is an operative fact and may application, and unless so published, they shall have no binding force and
have consequences which cannot justly be ignored. The effect.
past cannot always be erased by a new judicial declaration.
The effect of the subsequent ruling as to invalidity may have SO ORDERED.
to be considered in various aspects-with respect to particular
conduct, private and official. Questions of rights claimed to Relova, J., concurs
have become vested, of status, of prior determinations
deemed to have finality and acted upon accordingly, of
public policy in the light of the nature both of the statute and
of its previous application, demand examination. These
questions are among the most difficult of those which have
engaged the attention of courts, state and federal and it is
manifest from numerous decisions that an all-inclusive
statement of a principle of absolute retroactive invalidity
cannot be justified.

Consistently with the above principle, this Court in Rutter vs. Esteban 9
sustained the right of a party under the Moratorium Law, albeit said right had
accrued in his favor before said law was declared unconstitutional by this
Court.

Similarly, the implementation/enforcement of presidential decrees prior to


their publication in the Official Gazette is "an operative fact which may have
consequences which cannot be justly ignored. The past cannot always be
erased by a new judicial declaration ... that an all-inclusive statement of a
principle of absolute retroactive invalidity cannot be justified."

From the report submitted to the Court by the Clerk of Court, it appears that
of the presidential decrees sought by petitioners to be published in the
Official Gazette, only Presidential Decrees Nos. 1019 to 1030, inclusive,
1278, and 1937 to 1939, inclusive, have not been so published. 10 Neither the
subject matters nor the texts of these PDs can be ascertained since no
copies thereof are available. But whatever their subject matter may be, it is
G.R. No. 147096 January 15, 2002 the application as well as the notice of hearing were mailed to all
affected parties. Subsequently, hearings were conducted on the
REPUBLIC OF THE PHILIPPINES, represented by NATIONAL amended application. But before Bayantel could complete the
TELECOMMUNICATIONS COMMISSION, petitioner, presentation of its evidence, the NTC issued an Order dated December
vs. 19, 1993 stating:
EXPRESS TELECOMMUNICATION CO., INC. and BAYAN
TELECOMMUNICATIONS CO., INC., respondents. In view of the recent grant of two (2) separate Provisional
Authorities in favor of ISLACOM and GMCR, Inc., which
x---------------------------------------------------------x resulted in the closing out of all available frequencies for the
service being applied for by herein applicant, and in order that
G.R. No. 147210 January 15, 2002 this case may not remain pending for an indefinite period of
time, AS PRAYED FOR, let this case be, as it is, hereby
BAYAN TELECOMMUNICATIONS (Bayantel), INC., petitioner, ordered ARCHIVED without prejudice to its reinstatement if
vs. and when the requisite frequency becomes available.
EXPRESS TELECOMMUNICATION CO., INC. (Extelcom),
respondent. SO ORDERED.4

YNARES-SANTIAGO, J.: On June 18, 1998, the NTC issued Memorandum Circular No. 5-6-98
re-allocating five (5) megahertz (MHz) of the radio frequency
On December 29, 1992, International Communications Corporation spectrum for the expansion of CMTS networks. The re-allocated 5
(now Bayan Telecommunications, Inc. or Bayantel) filed an MHz were taken from the following bands: 1730-1732.5 / 1825-
application with the National Telecommunications Commission (NTC) 1827.5 MHz and 1732.5-1735 / 1827.5-1830 MHz.5
for a Certificate of Public Convenience or Necessity (CPCN) to install,
operate and maintain a digital Cellular Mobile Telephone Likewise, on March 23, 1999, Memorandum Circular No. 3-3-99 was
System/Service (CMTS) with prayer for a Provisional Authority (PA). issued by the NTC re-allocating an additional five (5) MHz
The application was docketed as NTC Case No. 92-486.1 frequencies for CMTS service, namely: 1735-1737.5 / 1830-1832.5
MHz; 1737.5-1740 / 1832.5-1835 MHz; 1740-1742.5 / 1835-1837.5
Shortly thereafter, or on January 22, 1993, the NTC issued MHz; and 1742.5-1745 / 1837.5-1840 MHz.6
Memorandum Circular No. 4-1-93 directing all interested applicants
for nationwide or regional CMTS to file their respective applications On May 17, 1999, Bayantel filed an Ex-Parte Motion to Revive Case,7
before the Commission on or before February 15, 1993, and deferring citing the availability of new frequency bands for CMTS operators, as
the acceptance of any application filed after said date until further provided for under Memorandum Circular No. 3-3-99.
orders.2
On February 1, 2000, the NTC granted BayanTel's motion to revive
On May 6, 1993, and prior to the issuance of any notice of hearing by the latter's application and set the case for hearings on February 9, 10,
the NTC with respect to Bayantel's original application, Bayantel filed 15, 17 and 22, 2000.8 The NTC noted that the application was ordered
an urgent ex-parte motion to admit an amended application.3 On May archived without prejudice to its reinstatement if and when the
17, 1993, the notice of hearing issued by the NTC with respect to this requisite frequency shall become available.
amended application was published in the Manila Chronicle. Copies of
Respondent Express Telecommunication Co., Inc. (Extelcom) filed in In the meantime, the NTC issued on March 9, 2000 Memorandum
NTC Case No. 92-486 an Opposition (With Motion to Dismiss) Circular No. 9-3-2000, re-allocating the following radio frequency
praying for the dismissal of Bayantel's application. 9 Extelcom argued bands for assignment to existing CMTS operators and to public
that Bayantel's motion sought the revival of an archived application telecommunication entities which shall be authorized to install, operate
filed almost eight (8) years ago. Thus, the documentary evidence and and maintain CMTS networks, namely: 1745-1750MHz / 1840-
the allegations of respondent Bayantel in this application are all 1845MHz; 1750-1775MHz / 1845-1850MHz; 1765-1770MHz / 1860-
outdated and should no longer be used as basis of the necessity for the 1865MHz; and 1770-1775MHz / 1865-1870MHz.11
proposed CMTS service. Moreover, Extelcom alleged that there was
no public need for the service applied for by Bayantel as the present On May 3, 2000, the NTC issued an Order granting in favor of
five CMTS operators --- Extelcom, Globe Telecom, Inc., Smart Bayantel a provisional authority to operate CMTS service. 12 The Order
Communication, Inc., Pilipino Telephone Corporation, and Isla stated in pertinent part:
Communication Corporation, Inc. --- more than adequately addressed
the market demand, and all are in the process of enhancing and On the issue of legal capacity on the part of Bayantel, this
expanding their respective networks based on recent technological Commission has already taken notice of the change in name of
developments. 1wphi1.nt International Communications Corporation to Bayan
Telecommunications, Inc. Thus, in the Decision entered in
Extelcom likewise contended that there were no available radio NTC Case No. 93-284/94-200 dated 19 July 1999, it was
frequencies that could accommodate a new CMTS operator as the recognized that Bayan Telecommunications, Inc., was formerly
frequency bands allocated in NTC Memorandum Circular No. 3-3-99 named International Communications Corp. Bayantel and ICC
were intended for and had in fact been applied for by the existing Telecoms, Inc. are one and the same entity, and it necessarily
CMTS operators. The NTC, in its Memorandum Circular No. 4-1-93, follows that what legal capacity ICC Telecoms has or has
declared it its policy to defer the acceptance of any application for acquired is also the legal capacity that Bayantel possesses.
CMTS. All the frequency bands allocated for CMTS use under the
NTC's Memorandum Circular No. 5-11-88 and Memorandum Circular On the allegation that the Commission has committed an error
No. 2-12-92 had already been allocated to the existing CMTS in allowing the revival of the instant application, it appears that
operators. Finally, Extelcom pointed out that Bayantel is its substantial the Order dated 14 December 1993 archiving the same was
stockholder to the extent of about 46% of its outstanding capital stock, anchored on the non-availability of frequencies for CMTS. In
and Bayantel's application undermines the very operations of the same Order, it was expressly stated that the archival hereof,
Extelcom. shall be without prejudice to its reinstatement "if and when the
requisite frequency becomes available." Inherent in the said
On March 13, 2000, Bayantel filed a Consolidated Reply/Comment,10 Order is the prerogative of the Commission in reviving the
stating that the opposition was actually a motion seeking a same, subject to prevailing conditions. The Order of 1 February
reconsideration of the NTC Order reviving the instant application, and 2001, cited the availability of frequencies for CMTS, and based
thus cannot dwell on the material allegations or the merits of the case. thereon, the Commission, exercising its prerogative, revived
Furthermore, Extelcom cannot claim that frequencies were not and reinstated the instant application. The fact that the motion
available inasmuch as the allocation and assignment thereof rest solely for revival hereof was made ex-parte by the applicant is of no
on the discretion of the NTC. moment, so long as the oppositors are given the opportunity to
be later heard and present the merits of their respective
oppositions in the proceedings.
On the allegation that the instant application is already obsolete its network - a condition that is necessary for an applicant to be
and overtaken by developments, the issue is whether applicant assigned additional frequencies. Globe has yet to prove that
has the legal, financial and technical capacity to undertake the there is congestion in its network considering its operational
proposed project. The determination of such capacity lies merger with Islacom.
solely within the discretion of the Commission, through its
applicable rules and regulations. At any rate, the oppositors are 3. Based on the reports submitted to the Commission, 48% of
not precluded from showing evidence disputing such capacity the total number of cities and municipalities are still without
in the proceedings at hand. On the alleged non-availability of telephone service despite the more than 3 million installed lines
frequencies for the proposed service in view of the pending waiting to be subscribed.
applications for the same, the Commission takes note that it has
issued Memorandum Circular 9-3-2000, allocating additional CONCLUSIONS:
frequencies for CMTS. The eligibility of existing operators
who applied for additional frequencies shall be treated and 1. To ensure effective competition in the CMTS market
resolved in their respective applications, and are not in issue in considering the operational merger of some of the CMTS
the case at hand. operators, new CMTS operators must be allowed to provide the
service.
Accordingly, the Motions for Reconsideration filed by
SMARTCOM and GLOBE TELECOMS/ISLACOM and the 2. The re-allocated frequencies for CMTS of 3 blocks of 5 Mhz
Motion to Dismiss filed by EXTELCOM are hereby DENIED x 2 is sufficient for the number of applicants should the
for lack of merit.13 applicants be qualified.

The grant of the provisional authority was anchored on the following 3. There is a need to provide service to some or all of the
findings: remaining cities and municipalities without telephone service.

COMMENTS: 4. The submitted documents are sufficient to determine


compliance to the technical requirements. The applicant can be
1. Due to the operational mergers between Smart directed to submit details such as channeling plans, exact
Communications, Inc. and Pilipino Telephone Corporation locations of cell sites, etc. as the project implementation
(Piltel) and between Globe Telecom, Inc. (Globe) and Isla progresses, actual area coverage ascertained and traffic data are
Communications, Inc. (Islacom), free and effective competition made available. Applicant appears to be technically qualified to
in the CMTS market is threatened. The fifth operator, undertake the proposed project and offer the proposed service.
Extelcom, cannot provide good competition in as much as it
provides service using the analog AMPS. The GSM system IN VIEW OF THE FOREGOING and considering that there
dominates the market. is prima facie evidence to show that Applicant is legally,
technically and financially qualified and that the proposed
2. There are at present two applicants for the assignment of the service is technically feasible and economically viable, in the
frequencies in the 1.7 Ghz and 1.8 Ghz allocated to CMTS, interest of public service, and in order to facilitate the
namely Globe and Extelcom. Based on the number of development of telecommunications services in all areas of the
subscribers Extelcom has, there appears to be no congestion in country, as well as to ensure healthy competition among
authorized CMTS providers, let a PROVISIONAL also filed its own motion for reconsideration.19 On the other hand,
AUTHORITY (P.A.) be issued to Applicant BAYAN Extelcom filed a Motion for Partial Reconsideration, praying that NTC
TELECOMMUNICATIONS, INC. authorizing it to Memorandum Circular No. 9-3-2000 be also declared null and void.20
construct, install, operate and maintain a Nationwide Cellular
Mobile Telephone Systems (CMTS), subject to the following On February 9, 2001, the Court of Appeals issued the assailed
terms and conditions without prejudice to a final decision after Resolution denying all of the motions for reconsideration of the parties
completion of the hearing which shall be called within thirty for lack of merit.21
(30) days from grant of authority, in accordance with Section 3,
Rule 15, Part IV of the Commission's Rules of Practice and Hence, the NTC filed the instant petition for review on certiorari,
Procedure. xxx.14 docketed as G.R. No. 147096, raising the following issues for
resolution of this Court:
Extelcom filed with the Court of Appeals a petition for certiorari and
prohibition,15 docketed as CA-G.R. SP No. 58893, seeking the A. Whether or not the Order dated February 1, 2000 of the
annulment of the Order reviving the application of Bayantel, the Order petitioner which revived the application of respondent Bayantel
granting Bayantel a provisional authority to construct, install, operate in NTC Case No. 92-486 violated respondent Extelcom's right
and maintain a nationwide CMTS, and Memorandum Circular No. 9- to procedural due process of law;
3-2000 allocating frequency bands to new public telecommunication
entities which are authorized to install, operate and maintain CMTS. B. Whether or not the Order dated May 3, 2000 of the
petitioner granting respondent Bayantel a provisional authority
On September 13, 2000, the Court of Appeals rendered the assailed to operate a CMTS is in substantial compliance with NTC
Decision,16 the dispositive portion of which reads: Rules of Practice and Procedure and Memorandum Circular
No. 9-14-90 dated September 4, 1990.22
WHEREFORE, the writs of certiorari and prohibition prayed
for are GRANTED. The Orders of public respondent dated Subsequently, Bayantel also filed its petition for review, docketed as
February 1, 2000 and May 3, 2000 in NTC Case No. 92-486 G.R. No. 147210, assigning the following errors:
are hereby ANNULLED and SET ASIDE and the Amended
Application of respondent Bayantel is DISMISSED without I. THE COURT OF APPEALS SERIOUSLY ERRED IN ITS
prejudice to the filing of a new CMTS application. The writ of INTERPRETATION OF THE PRINCIPLE OF
preliminary injunction issued under our Resolution dated "EXHAUSTION OF ADMINISTRATIVE REMEDIES"
August 15, 2000, restraining and enjoining the respondents WHEN IT FAILED TO DISMISS HEREIN RESPONDENT'S
from enforcing the Orders dated February 1, 2000 and May 3, PETITION FOR CERTIORARI DESPITE ITS FAILURE TO
2000 in the said NTC case is hereby made permanent. The FILE A MOTION FOR RECONSIDERATION.
Motion for Reconsideration of respondent Bayantel dated
August 28, 2000 is denied for lack of merit. II. THE COURT OF APPEALS SERIOUSLY ERRED IN ITS
FINDING THAT THE REVIVAL OF NTC CASE NO. 92-486
SO ORDERED.17 ANCHORED ON A EX-PARTE MOTION TO REVIVE
CASE WAS TANTAMOUNT TO GRAVE ABUSE OF
Bayantel filed a motion for reconsideration of the above decision.18 DISCRETION ON THE PART OF THE NTC.
The NTC, represented by the Office of the Solicitor General (OSG),
III. THE COURT OF APPEALS SERIOUSLY ERRED ADMINISTRATIVE PROCESS IN THE NTC AS LAID
WHEN IT DENIED THE MANDATE OF THE NTC AS THE DOWN IN SEC 4(1) OF R.A. NO. 7925.
AGENCY OF GOVERNMENT WITH THE SOLE
DISCRETION REGARDING ALLOCATION OF VIII. THE COURT OF APPEALS SERIOUSLY ERRED IN
FREQUENCY BAND TO TELECOMMUNICATIONS ITS FINDING THAT THE NTC VIOLATED THE
ENTITIES. PROVISIONS OF THE CONSTITUTION PERTAINING TO
DUE PROCESS OF LAW.
IV. THE COURT OF APPEALS SERIOUSLY ERRED IN
ITS INTERPRETATION OF THE LEGAL PRINCIPLE IX. THE COURT OF APPEALS SERIOUSLY ERRED IN
THAT JURISDICTION ONCE ACQUIRED CANNOT BE DECLARING THAT THE MAY 3, 2000 ORDER
LOST WHEN IT DECLARED THAT THE ARCHIVED GRANTING BAYANTEL A PROVISIONAL AUTHORITY
APPLICATION SHOULD BE DEEMED AS A NEW SHOULD BE SET ASIDE AND REVERSED.
APPLICATION IN VIEW OF THE SUBSTANTIAL
CHANGE IN THE CIRCUMSTANCES ALLEGED IN ITS i. Contrary to the finding of the Court of Appeals, there was no
AMENDMENT APPLICATION. violation of the NTC Rule that the legal, technical, financial
and economic documentations in support of the prayer for
V. CONTRARY TO THE FINDING OF THE COURT OF provisional authority should first be submitted.
APPEALS, THE ARCHIVING OF THE BAYANTEL
APPLICATION WAS A VALID ACT ON THE PART OF ii. Contrary to the finding of the Court of Appeals, there was no
THE NTC EVEN IN THE ABSENCE OF A SPECIFIC RULE violation of Sec. 3, Rule 15 of the NTC Rules of Practice and
ON ARCHIVING OF CASES SINCE RULES OF Procedure that a motion must first be filed before a provisional
PROCEDURE ARE, AS A MATTER OF COURSE, authority could be issued.
LIBERALLY CONSTRUED IN PROCEEDINGS BEFORE
ADMINISTRATIVE BODIES AND SHOULD GIVE WAY iii. Contrary to the finding of the Court of Appeals that a plea
TO THE GREATER HIERARCHY OF PUBLIC WELFARE for provisional authority necessitates a notice and hearing, the
AND PUBLIC INTEREST. very rule cited by the petitioner (Section 5, Rule 4 of the NTC
Rules of Practice and Procedure) provides otherwise.
VI. CONTRARY TO THE FINDING OF THE COURT OF
APPEALS, THE ARCHIVING OF BAYANTEL'S iv. Contrary to the finding of the Court of Appeals, urgent
APPLICATION WAS NOT VIOLATIVE OF THE public need is not the only basis for the grant of a provisional
SUMMARY NATURE OF THE PROCEEDINGS IN THE authority to an applicant;
NTC UNDER SEC. 3, RULE 1 OF THE NTC REVISED
RULES OF PROCEDURE. v. Contrary to the finding of the Court of Appeals, there was no
violation of the constitutional provision on the right of the
VII. THE COURT OF APPEALS SERIOUSLY ERRED IN public to information when the Common Carrier Authorization
ITS FINDING THAT THE ARCHIVING OF BAYANTEL'S Department (CCAD) prepared its evaluation report.23
APPLICATION WAS VIOLATIVE OF THE ALLEGED
DECLARED POLICY OF THE GOVERNMENT ON THE Considering the identity of the matters involved, this Court resolved to
TRANSPARENCY AND FAIRNESS OF consolidate the two petitions.24
At the outset, it is well to discuss the nature and functions of the NTC, In granting Bayantel the provisional authority to operate a CMTS, the
and analyze its powers and authority as well as the laws, rules and NTC applied Rule 15, Section 3 of its 1978 Rules of Practice and
regulations that govern its existence and operations. Procedure, which provides:

The NTC was created pursuant to Executive Order No. 546, Sec. 3. Provisional Relief. --- Upon the filing of an application,
promulgated on July 23, 1979. It assumed the functions formerly complaint or petition or at any stage thereafter, the Board may
assigned to the Board of Communications and the grant on motion of the pleader or on its own initiative, the
Telecommunications Control Bureau, which were both abolished relief prayed for, based on the pleading, together with the
under the said Executive Order. Previously, the NTC's functions were affidavits and supporting documents attached thereto, without
merely those of the defunct Public Service Commission (PSC), created prejudice to a final decision after completion of the hearing
under Commonwealth Act No. 146, as amended, otherwise known as which shall be called within thirty (30) days from grant of
the Public Service Act, considering that the Board of Communications authority asked for. (underscoring ours)
was the successor-in-interest of the PSC. Under Executive Order No.
125-A, issued in April 1987, the NTC became an attached agency of Respondent Extelcom, however, contends that the NTC should have
the Department of Transportation and Communications. applied the Revised Rules which were filed with the Office of the
National Administrative Register on February 3, 1993. These Revised
In the regulatory telecommunications industry, the NTC has the sole Rules deleted the phrase "on its own initiative;" accordingly, a
authority to issue Certificates of Public Convenience and Necessity provisional authority may be issued only upon filing of the proper
(CPCN) for the installation, operation, and maintenance of motion before the Commission.
communications facilities and services, radio communications
systems, telephone and telegraph systems. Such power includes the In answer to this argument, the NTC, through the Secretary of the
authority to determine the areas of operations of applicants for Commission, issued a certification to the effect that inasmuch as the
telecommunications services. Specifically, Section 16 of the Public 1993 Revised Rules have not been published in a newspaper of general
Service Act authorizes the then PSC, upon notice and hearing, to issue circulation, the NTC has been applying the 1978 Rules.
Certificates of Public Convenience for the operation of public services
within the Philippines "whenever the Commission finds that the The absence of publication, coupled with the certification by the
operation of the public service proposed and the authorization to do Commissioner of the NTC stating that the NTC was still governed by
business will promote the public interests in a proper and suitable the 1978 Rules, clearly indicate that the 1993 Revised Rules have not
manner."25 The procedure governing the issuance of such taken effect at the time of the grant of the provisional authority to
authorizations is set forth in Section 29 of the said Act, the pertinent Bayantel. The fact that the 1993 Revised Rules were filed with the UP
portion of which states: Law Center on February 3, 1993 is of no moment. There is nothing in
the Administrative Code of 1987 which implies that the filing of the
All hearings and investigations before the Commission shall be rules with the UP Law Center is the operative act that gives the rules
governed by rules adopted by the Commission, and in the force and effect. Book VII, Chapter 2, Section 3 thereof merely states:
conduct thereof, the Commission shall not be bound by the
technical rules of legal evidence. xxx. Filing. --- (1) Every agency shall file with the University of the
Philippines Law Center three (3) certified copes of every rule
adopted by it. Rules in force on the date of effectivity of this
Code which are not filed within three (3) months from the date
shall not thereafter be the basis of any sanction against any This Court, in Taada vs. Tuvera (G.R. No. L-63915,
party or persons. December 29, 1986, 146 SCRA 446) stated, thus:

(2) The records officer of the agency, or his equivalent "We hold therefore that all statutes, including those of
functionary, shall carry out the requirements of this section local application and private laws, shall be published as
under pain or disciplinary action. a condition for their effectivity, which shall begin
fifteen days after publication unless a different
(3) A permanent register of all rules shall be kept by the issuing effectivity is fixed by the legislature.
agency and shall be open to public inspection.
Covered by this rule are presidential decrees and
The National Administrative Register is merely a bulletin of codified executive orders promulgated by the President in the
rules and it is furnished only to the Office of the President, Congress, exercise of legislative power or, at present, directly
all appellate courts, the National Library, other public offices or conferred by the Constitution. Administrative Rules and
agencies as the Congress may select, and to other persons at a price Regulations must also be published if their purpose is to
sufficient to cover publication and mailing or distribution costs.26 In a enforce or implement existing law pursuant also to a
similar case, we held: valid delegation.

This does not imply however, that the subject Administrative Interpretative regulations and those merely internal in
Order is a valid exercise of such quasi-legislative power. The nature, that is, regulating only the personnel of the
original Administrative Order issued on August 30, 1989, administrative agency and not the public, need not be
under which the respondents filed their applications for published. Neither is publication required of the so-
importations, was not published in the Official Gazette or in a called letters of instructions issued by administrative
newspaper of general circulation. The questioned superiors concerning the rules or guidelines to be
Administrative Order, legally, until it is published, is invalid followed by their subordinates in the performance of
within the context of Article 2 of Civil Code, which reads: their duties.

"Article 2. Laws shall take effect after fifteen days xxx


following the completion of their publication in the
Official Gazette (or in a newspaper of general We agree that the publication must be in full or it is no
circulation in the Philippines), unless it is otherwise publication at all since its purpose is to inform the
provided. x x x" public of the contents of the laws."

The fact that the amendments to Administrative Order No. The Administrative Order under consideration is one of those
SOCPEC 89-08-01 were filed with, and published by the UP issuances which should be published for its effectivity, since its
Law Center in the National Administrative Register, does not purpose is to enforce and implement an existing law pursuant
cure the defect related to the effectivity of the Administrative to a valid delegation, i.e., P.D. 1071, in relation to LOI 444 and
Order. EO 133.27
Thus, publication in the Official Gazette or a newspaper of general As prayer, ICC asked for the immediate grant of provisional
circulation is a condition sine qua non before statutes, rules or authority to construct, install, maintain and operate the subject
regulations can take effect. This is explicit from Executive Order No. service and to charge the proposed rates and after due notice
200, which repealed Article 2 of the Civil Code, and which states that: and hearing, approve the instant application and grant the
corresponding certificate of public convenience and
Laws shall take effect after fifteen days following the necessity.32
completion of their publication either in the Official Gazette or
in a newspaper of general circulation in the Philippines, unless The Court of Appeals also erred when it declared that the NTC's Order
it is otherwise provided.28 archiving Bayantel's application was null and void. The archiving of
cases is a widely accepted measure designed to shelve cases in which
The Rules of Practice and Procedure of the NTC, which implements no immediate action is expected but where no grounds exist for their
Section 29 of the Public Service Act (C.A. 146, as amended), fall outright dismissal, albeit without prejudice. It saves the petitioner or
squarely within the scope of these laws, as explicitly mentioned in the applicant from the added trouble and expense of re-filing a dismissed
case Taada v. Tuvera.29 case. Under this scheme, an inactive case is kept alive but held in
abeyance until the situation obtains wherein action thereon can be
Our pronouncement in Taada vs. Tuvera is clear and taken.
categorical. Administrative rules and regulations must be
published if their purpose is to enforce or implement existing In the case at bar, the said application was ordered archived because of
law pursuant to a valid delegation. The only exceptions are lack of available frequencies at the time, and made subject to
interpretative regulations, those merely internal in nature, or reinstatement upon availability of the requisite frequency. To be sure,
those so-called letters of instructions issued by administrative there was nothing irregular in the revival of the application after the
superiors concerning the rules and guidelines to be followed by condition therefor was fulfilled.
their subordinates in the performance of their duties.30
While, as held by the Court of Appeals, there are no clear provisions in
Hence, the 1993 Revised Rules should be published in the Official the Rules of the NTC which expressly allow the archiving of any
Gazette or in a newspaper of general circulation before it can take application, this recourse may be justified under Rule 1, Section 2 of
effect. Even the 1993 Revised Rules itself mandates that said Rules the 1978 Rules, which states:
shall take effect only after their publication in a newspaper of general
circulation.31 In the absence of such publication, therefore, it is the Sec. 2. Scope.--- These rules govern pleadings, practice and
1978 Rules that governs. procedure before the Board of Communications (now NTC) in
all matters of hearing, investigation and proceedings within the
In any event, regardless of whether the 1978 Rules or the 1993 jurisdiction of the Board. However, in the broader interest of
Revised Rules should apply, the records show that the amended justice and in order to best serve the public interest, the Board
application filed by Bayantel in fact included a motion for the issuance may, in any particular matter, except it from these rules and
of a provisional authority. Hence, it cannot be said that the NTC apply such suitable procedure to improve the service in the
granted the provisional authority motu proprio. The Court of Appeals, transaction of the public business. (underscoring ours)
therefore, erred when it found that the NTC issued its Order of May 3,
2000 on its own initiative. This much is acknowledged in the Decision
of the Court of Appeals:
The Court of Appeals ruled that the NTC committed grave abuse of 123520, June 26, 1998), the essence of due process is simply
discretion when it revived Bayantel's application based on an ex-parte an opportunity to be heard, or as applied to administrative
motion. In this regard, the pertinent provisions of the NTC Rules: proceedings, an opportunity to explain one's side. Hence, in
Navarro III vs. Damaso (246 SCRA 260 [1995]), we held that
Sec. 5. Ex-parte Motions. --- Except for motions for a formal or trial-type hearing is not at all times and not in all
provisional authorization of proposed services and increase of instances essential. Plainly, petitioner was not denied due
rates, ex-parte motions shall be acted upon by the Board only process.35
upon showing of urgent necessity therefor and the right of the
opposing party is not substantially impaired.33 Extelcom had already entered its appearance as a party and filed its
opposition to the application. It was neither precluded nor barred from
Thus, in cases which do not involve either an application for rate participating in the hearings thereon. Indeed, nothing, not even the
increase or an application for a provisional authority, the NTC may Order reviving the application, bars or prevents Extelcom and the
entertain ex-parte motions only where there is an urgent necessity to other oppositors from participating in the hearings and adducing
do so and no rights of the opposing parties are impaired.1wphi1.nt evidence in support of their respective oppositions. The motion to
revive could not have possibly caused prejudice to Extelcom since the
The Court of Appeals ruled that there was a violation of the motion only sought the revival of the application. It was merely a
fundamental right of Extelcom to due process when it was not afforded preliminary step towards the resumption of the hearings on the
the opportunity to question the motion for the revival of the application of Bayantel. The latter will still have to prove its capability
application. However, it must be noted that said Order referred to a to undertake the proposed CMTS. Indeed, in its Order dated February
simple revival of the archived application of Bayantel in NTC Case 1, 2000, the NTC set several hearing dates precisely intended for the
No. 92-426. At this stage, it cannot be said that Extelcom's right to presentation of evidence on Bayantel's capability and qualification.
procedural due process was prejudiced. It will still have the Notice of these hearings were sent to all parties concerned, including
opportunity to be heard during the full-blown adversarial hearings that Extelcom.
will follow. In fact, the records show that the NTC has scheduled
several hearing dates for this purpose, at which all interested parties As regards the changes in the personal circumstances of Bayantel, the
shall be allowed to register their opposition. We have ruled that there same may be ventilated at the hearings during Bayantel's presentation
is no denial of due process where full-blown adversarial proceedings of evidence. In fact, Extelcom was able to raise its arguments on this
are conducted before an administrative body.34 With Extelcom having matter in the Opposition (With Motion to Dismiss) anent the re-
fully participated in the proceedings, and indeed, given the opportunity opening and re-instatement of the application of Bayantel. Extelcom
to file its opposition to the application, there was clearly no denial of was thus heard on this particular point.
its right to due process.
Likewise, the requirements of notice and publication of the application
In Zaldivar vs. Sandiganbayan (166 SCRA 316 [1988]), we is no longer necessary inasmuch as the application is a mere revival of
held that the right to be heard does not only refer to the right to an application which has already been published earlier. At any rate,
present verbal arguments in court. A party may also be heard the records show that all of the five (5) CMTS operators in the country
through his pleadings. where opportunity to be heard is were duly notified and were allowed to raise their respective
accorded either through oral arguments or pleadings, there is oppositions to Bayantel's application through the NTC's Order dated
no denial of procedural due process. As reiterated in National February 1, 2000.
Semiconductor (HK) Distribution, Ltd. vs. NLRC (G.R. No.
It should be borne in mind that among the declared national policies - there is a need to hasten the installation of local exchange
under Republic Act No. 7925, otherwise known as the Public lines in unserved areas;
Telecommunications Policy Act of the Philippines, is the healthy
competition among telecommunications carriers, to wit: - there are existing CMTS operators which are experiencing
congestion in the network resulting to low grade of service;
A healthy competitive environment shall be fostered, one in
which telecommunications carriers are free to make business - the consumers/customers shall be given the freedom to
decisions and to interact with one another in providing choose CMTS operators from which they could get the
telecommunications services, with the end in view of service.37
encouraging their financial viability while maintaining
affordable rates.36 Clearly spelled out is the need to provide enhanced competition and
the requirement for more landlines and telecommunications facilities
The NTC is clothed with sufficient discretion to act on matters solely in unserved areas in the country. On both scores, therefore, there was
within its competence. Clearly, the need for a healthy competitive sufficient showing that the NTC acted well within its jurisdiction and
environment in telecommunications is sufficient impetus for the NTC in pursuance of its avowed duties when it allowed the revival of
to consider all those applicants who are willing to offer competition, Bayantel's application.
develop the market and provide the environment necessary for greater
public service. This was the intention that came to light with the We now come to the issue of exhaustion of administrative remedies.
issuance of Memorandum Circular 9-3-2000, allocating new frequency The rule is well-entrenched that a party must exhaust all administrative
bands for use of CMTS. This memorandum circular enumerated the remedies before resorting to the courts. The premature invocation of
conditions prevailing and the reasons which necessitated its issuance the intervention of the court is fatal to one's cause of action. This rule
as follows: would not only give the administrative agency an opportunity to
decide the matter by itself correctly, but would also prevent the
- the international accounting rates are rapidly declining, unnecessary and premature resort to courts.38 In the case of Lopez v.
threatening the subsidy to the local exchange service as City of Manila,39 we held:
mandated in EO 109 and RA 7925;
As a general rule, where the law provides for the remedies
- the public telecommunications entities which were against the action of an administrative board, body or officer,
obligated to install, operate and maintain local exchange relief to courts can be sought only after exhausting all remedies
network have performed their obligations in varying degrees; provided. The reason rests upon the presumption that the
administrative body, if given the chance to correct its mistake
- after more than three (3) years from the performance of the or error, may amend its decision on a given matter and decide
obligations only 52% of the total number of cities and it properly. Therefore, where a remedy is available within the
municipalities are provided with local telephone service. administrative machinery, this should be resorted to before
resort can be made to the courts, not only to give the
- there are mergers and consolidations among the existing administrative agency the opportunity to decide the matter by
cellular mobile telephone service (CMTS) providers itself correctly, but also to prevent unnecessary and premature
threatening the efficiency of competition; resort to courts.
Clearly, Extelcom violated the rule on exhaustion of administrative granted except under the condition that it shall be subject to
remedies when it went directly to the Court of Appeals on a petition amendment, alteraion, or repeal by the Congress when the
for certiorari and prohibition from the Order of the NTC dated May 3, common good so requires. xxx xxx xxx.42
2000, without first filing a motion for reconsideration. It is well-settled
that the filing of a motion for reconsideration is a prerequisite to the In Radio Communications of the Phils., Inc. v. National
filing of a special civil action for certiorari. Telecommunications Commission,43 we held:

The general rule is that, in order to give the lower court the It is well within the powers of the public respondent to
opportunity to correct itself, a motion for reconsideration is a authorize the installation by the private respondent network of
prerequisite to certiorari. It also basic that petitioner must radio communications systems in Catarman, Samar and San
exhaust all other available remedies before resorting to Jose, Mindoro. Under the circumstances, the mere fact that the
certiorari. This rule, however, is subject to certain exceptions petitioner possesses a franchise to put up and operate a radio
such as any of the following: (1) the issues raised are purely communications system in certain areas is not an insuperable
legal in nature, (2) public interest is involved, (3) extreme obstacle to the public respondent's issuing the proper certificate
urgency is obvious or (4) special circumstances warrant to an applicant desiring to extend the same services to those
immediate or more direct action.40 areas. The Constitution mandates that a franchise cannot be
exclusive in nature nor can a franchise be granted except that it
This case does not fall under any of the recognized exceptions to this must be subject to amendment, alteration, or even repeal by the
rule. Although the Order of the NTC dated May 3, 2000 granting legislature when the common good so requires. (Art. XII, sec.
provisional authority to Bayantel was immediately executory, it did 11 of the 1986 Constitution). There is an express provision in
not preclude the filing of a motion for reconsideration. Under the NTC the petitioner's franchise which provides compliance with the
Rules, a party adversely affected by a decision, order, ruling or above mandate (RA 2036, sec. 15).
resolution may within fifteen (15) days file a motion for
reconsideration. That the Order of the NTC became immediately Even in the provisional authority granted to Extelcom, it is expressly
executory does not mean that the remedy of filing a motion for stated that such authority is not exclusive. Thus, the Court of Appeals
reconsideration is foreclosed to the petitioner.41 erred when it gave due course to Extelcom's petition and ruled that it
constitutes an exception to the rule on exhaustion of administrative
Furthermore, Extelcom does not enjoy the grant of any vested interest remedies.
on the right to render a public service. The Constitution is quite
emphatic that the operation of a public utility shall not be exclusive. Also, the Court of Appeals erred in annulling the Order of the NTC
Thus: dated May 3, 2000, granting Bayantel a provisional authority to install,
operate and maintain CMTS. The general rule is that purely
No franchise, certificate, or any other form of authorization for administrative and discretionary functions may not be interfered with
the operation of a public utility shall be granted to citizens of by the courts. Thus, in Lacuesta v. Herrera,44 it was held:
the Philippines or to corporations organized under the laws of
the Philippines at least sixty per centum of whose capital is xxx (T)he powers granted to the Secretary of Agriculture and
owned by such citizens, nor shall such franchise, certificate or Commerce (natural resources) by law regarding the disposition
authorization be exclusive in character or for a longer period of public lands such as granting of licenses, permits, leases and
than fifty years. Neither shall any such franchise or right be contracts, or approving, rejecting, reinstating, or canceling
applications, are all executive and administrative in nature. It is decision and a matter that can best be discharged by the government
a well recognized principle that purely administrative and agency concerned, and not by the courts.48 In Villanueva v. Court of
discretionary functions may not be interfered with by the Appeals,49 it was held that findings of fact which are supported by
courts. (Coloso vs. Board of Accountancy, G.R. No. L-5750, evidence and the conclusion of experts should not be disturbed. This
April 20, 1953) In general, courts have no supervising power was reiterated in Metro Transit Organization, Inc. v. National Labor
over the proceedings and actions of the administrative Relations Commission,50 wherein it was ruled that factual findings of
departments of the government. This is generally true with quasi-judicial bodies which have acquired expertise because their
respect to acts involving the exercise of judgement or jurisdiction is confined to specific matters are generally accorded not
discretion and findings of fact. (54 Am. Jur. 558-559) xxx. only respect but even finality and are binding even upon the Supreme
Court if they are supported by substantial evidence.1wphi1.nt
The established exception to the rule is where the issuing authority has
gone beyond its statutory authority, exercised unconstitutional powers Administrative agencies are given a wide latitude in the evaluation of
or clearly acted arbitrarily and without regard to his duty or with grave evidence and in the exercise of its adjudicative functions. This latitude
abuse of discretion.45 None of these obtains in the case at bar. includes the authority to take judicial notice of facts within its special
competence.
Moreover, in petitions for certiorari, evidentiary matters or matters of
fact raised in the court below are not proper grounds nor may such be In the case at bar, we find no reason to disturb the factual findings of
ruled upon in the proceedings. As held in National Federation of the NTC which formed the basis for awarding the provisional authority
Labor v. NLRC:46 to Bayantel. As found by the NTC, Bayantel has been granted several
provisional and permanent authorities before to operate various
At the outset, it should be noted that a petition for certiorari telecommunications services.51 Indeed, it was established that
under Rule 65 of the Rules of Court will prosper only if there is Bayantel was the first company to comply with its obligation to install
a showing of grave abuse of discretion or an act without or in local exchange lines pursuant to E.O. 109 and R.A. 7925. In
excess of jurisdiction on the part of the National Labor recognition of the same, the provisional authority awarded in favor of
Relations Commission. It does not include an inquiry as to the Bayantel to operate Local Exchange Services in Quezon City,
correctness of the evaluation of evidence which was the basis Malabon, Valenzuela and the entire Bicol region was made permanent
of the labor official or officer in determining his conclusion. It and a CPCN for the said service was granted in its favor. Prima facie
is not for this Court to re-examine conflicting evidence, re- evidence was likewise found showing Bayantel's legal, financial and
evaluate the credibility of witnesses nor substitute the findings technical capacity to undertake the proposed cellular mobile telephone
of fact of an administrative tribunal which has gained expertise service.
in its special field. Considering that the findings of fact of the
labor arbiter and the NLRC are supported by evidence on Likewise, the May 3, 2000 Order did not violate NTC Memorandum
record, the same must be accorded due respect and finality. Circular No. 9-14-90 dated September 4, 1990, contrary to the ruling
of the Court of Appeals. The memorandum circular sets forth the
This Court has consistently held that the courts will not interfere in procedure for the issuance of provisional authority thus:
matters which are addressed to the sound discretion of the government
agency entrusted with the regulation of activities coming under the EFFECTIVE THIS DATE, and as part of the Commission's
special and technical training and knowledge of such agency. 47 It has drive to streamline and fast track action on
also been held that the exercise of administrative discretion is a policy applications/petitions for CPCN other forms of authorizations,
the Commission shall be evaluating applications/petitions for all rules of procedure which is to achieve substantial justice
immediate issuance of provisional authorizations, pending as expeditiously as possible.53
hearing and final authorization of an application on its merit.
Even assuming that separate actions have been filed by two different
For this purpose, it is hereby directed that all parties involving essentially the same subject matter, no forum
applicants/petitioners seeking for provisional authorizations, shopping was committed as the parties did not resort to multiple
shall submit immediately to the Commission, either together judicial remedies. The Court, therefore, directed the consolidation of
with their application or in a Motion all their legal, technical, the two cases because they involve essentially the same issues. It
financial, economic documentations in support of their prayer would also prevent the absurd situation wherein two different divisions
for provisional authorizations for evaluation. On the basis of of the same court would render altogether different rulings in the cases
their completeness and their having complied with at bar.
requirements, the Commission shall be issuing provisional
authorizations. We rule, likewise, that the NTC has legal standing to file and initiate
legal action in cases where it is clear that its inaction would result in an
Clearly, a provisional authority may be issued even pending hearing impairment of its ability to execute and perform its functions.
and final determination of an application on its merits. Similarly, we have previously held in Civil Service Commission v.
Dacoycoy54 that the Civil Service Commission, as an aggrieved party,
Finally, this Court finds that the Manifestations of Extelcom alleging may appeal the decision of the Court of Appeals to this Court.
forum shopping on the part of the NTC and Bayantel are not impressed
with merit. The divisions of the Supreme Court are not to be As correctly stated by the NTC, the rule invoked by Extelcom is Rule
considered as separate and distinct courts. The Supreme Court remains 65 of the Rules of Civil Procedure, which provides that public
a unit notwithstanding that it works in divisions. Although it may have respondents shall not appear in or file an answer or comment to the
three divisions, it is but a single court. Actions considered in any of petition or any pleading therein.55 The instant petition, on the other
these divisions and decisions rendered therein are, in effect, by the hand, was filed under Rule 45 where no similar proscription exists.
same Tribunal. The divisions of this Court are not to be considered as
separate and distinct courts but as divisions of one and the same WHEREFORE, in view of the foregoing, the consolidated petitions
court.52 are GRANTED. The Court of Appeals' Decision dated September 13,
2000 and Resolution dated February 9, 2001 are REVERSED and
Moreover, the rules on forum shopping should not be literally SET ASIDE. The permanent injunction issued by the Court of
interpreted. We have stated thus: Appeals is LIFTED. The Orders of the NTC dated February 1, 2000
and May 3, 2000 are REINSTATED. No pronouncement as to costs.
It is scarcely necessary to add that Circular No. 28-91 must be
so interpreted and applied as to achieve the purposes projected SO ORDERED.
by the Supreme Court when it promulgated that circular.
Circular No. 28-91 was designed to serve as an instrument to
promote and facilitate the orderly administration of justice and
should not be interpreted with such absolute literalness as to
subvert its own ultimate and legitimate objection or the goal of
from Tagum, Davao to the DECS Office in Davao City. Their
presence in the said office was duly noted by DECS Administrative
Officer V, Aquilina Granada who advised them that petitioner will
forthwith meet with them. However, instead of conferring with the
aggrieved students, petitioner instead met with the Arriesgado
spouses-owners of AIMSFI - who admittedly did not even have a
previous appointment with petitioner with the result that the students
were left waiting at the anteroom for several hours. In view of this
EN BANC apparent discrimination, the students contacted respondent Deputy
Ombudsman for Mindanao, Cesar E. Nitorreda who was impelled to
[G.R. No. 120223. March 13, 1996.] proceed to the DECS Office to admonish petitioner for not conferring
with both parties at the same time in order to hear both sides of the
DR. RAMON Y. ALBA, petitioner, vs. THE HONORABLE controversy. Thereafter, petitioner presided over the conference
DEPUTY OMBUDSMAN, CESAR Y. NITORREDA, et al., between the Arriesgados and the aggrieved students.
respondents.
On March 29, 1994, petitioner submitted to the Office of the
RESOLUTION Ombudsman for Mindanao (Office of the Ombudsman), a report on
the said conference wherein he claimed that he had succeeded in
FRANCISCO, J.: facilitating an amicable settlement between the parties. However,
petitioners claim of having settled the dispute between the
The instant motion for reconsideration has its origin in an Arriesgados and the complaining students is belied by private
administrative case (OBM-MIN-ADM-94-059) filed with the Office of respondents affidavit-complainti[1] attesting to the fact that as a result
the Ombudsman for Mindanao by private respondents Jesiela of the said dispute, they were barred from taking the final
Antiporta and Aida Salmeo against petitioner Dr. Ramon Y. Alba in examinations and participating in the graduation rites. In the same
his capacity as Director III of the Department of Education Culture affidavit complaint, private respondents pointed out petitioners
and Sports (DECS) accusing the latter of violating certain provisions evident bias and partiality in favor of the Arriesgados in the conduct of
of the Code of Conduct and Ethical Standards For Public Official and the conference held on March 20, 1994. Petitioner denied the said
Employees (R.A. 6713). charges in his counter-affidavitii[2] and justified his actuations by
posturing that the reason why he decided to talk to the school owner
The facts are as follows: first was to thresh out the complaints of the students in order to have
a complete view of the situation before talking jointly with the student
Private respondents were among the twenty five (25) graduating and the owner of the school.iii[3] Petitioner also theorized that private
students of the Arriesgado Institute of Medical Sciences Foundation, respondents were not allowed to take the final examinations and
Inc. (AIMSFI) in Tagum, Davao who sought the intervention of participate in the graduation rites due to their failure to settle their
petitioner in settling a dispute with the said school arising from the obligations with the school and/or x x x pass their academic subjects x
implementation of certain school policies. Acting on the request for x x.iv[4] However, in a rejoinder filed by petitioner, he averred that
intervention, petitioner scheduled a meeting with the students on after inquiry from AIMSFI, he was informed that private respondents
March 20, 1994 at 8:30 in the morning. Thus, on the said date, private taking of the final examinations and their graduation were conditioned
respondents and the other complaining students travelled all the way
upon their withdrawal of the complaint filed against petitioner with the petition was indeed filed on June 2, 1995 and not on June 28 as
Office of the Ombudsman.v[5] initially deciphered by this Court from the misleading sequence of
numbers on the stamp of receipt, that is, JUN 2 8 28 PM 95. Thus,
After both parties failed to attend the preliminary conference as correctly averred by petitioner, at the time of the filing of the
scheduled by the Graft Investigating Officer assigned to the case, a petition on June 2, 1995, there were still a good twenty two (22) days
resolution dated April 28, 1995 was rendered by the Office of the left of the suspension imposed on him. Consequently, we set aside our
Ombudsman finding petitioner guilty of violating Section 4(b), (c) and original finding that the petition is moot and academic.
(e) of R.A. 6713vi[6] holding as follows:
With that error rectified, it is now incumbent upon this Court to
There is no denying that respondent Director Alba was partial to the resolve the following issues raised in the petition to the end that the
AIMSFI school owners and acted against the interest of the latter may be finally disposed of on its merits.
complainants. Complaints averments were confirmed by the school
itself, thru School Principal Ma. Clara Arriesgado, that the (A) Whether or not Section 27 of R.A. 6770 (otherwise known as the
complaining student were not allowed to take the final examination Ombudsman Act of 1989) which states:
until and unless they agree to the withdrawal of the case they filed in
this Office against herein respondent Assistant Regional Director. xxx xxx xxx.
Clearly, respondent and the school jointly coerced the students to
submit to such an illegal, improper and immoral demand. Respondent Findings of fact by the Office of the Ombudsman when supported by
did not comport himself in accordance with justness, sincerity and substantial evidence are conclusive. Any order, directive or decision
professionalism required by the Code of Conduct and Ethical imposing the penalty of public censure or reprimand, suspension of not
Standards of Public Officers and Employees (R.A. 6713). vii[7] more than one months salary (sic) shall be final and unappealable.

For such gross misconduct, petitioner was meted a suspension of thirty and Section 7, Rule III, of Administrative Order No. 07, date April 10,
(30) days without pay and warned that any other instance of non- 1990 (otherwise known as the RULES OF PROCEDURE OF THE
observance of the Code of Conduct will result in graver OFFICE OF THE OMBUDSMAN x x x), which states:
punishment.viii[8]
Section 7. Finality of decision. - Where the respondent is absolved of
When petitioners motion for reconsideration of the foregoing the charged (sic) and in case of conviction where the penalty imposed
resolution was denied, he filed an Appeal/Petition for Certiorari is public censure or reprimand, suspension of not more than one
and/or Prohibition With Prayer for Temporary Restraining Order month, or a fine equivalent to one month salary, the decision shall be
and/or Writ of Preliminary Prohibitory Injunction (petition) with this final and unappealable. In all other cases, the decision shall become
Court. In a Resolution dated June 27, 1995, the said petition was final after the expiration of ten (10) days from receipt thereof by the
dismissed on the ground that it was moot and academic because the respondent, unless a motion for reconsideration or petition for
questioned suspension of petitioner which was effective from May 26, certiorari shall have been filed by him as prescribed in Section 27 of
1995 to June 24, 1995 had already expired or became functus oficio on RA 6770.
June 28, 1995 when the petition was filed. Alleging, first and
foremost, a misreading of the correct date of filing of the petition, are valid or constitutional, or constitute an undue curtailment or
petitioner filed the instant motion for reconsideration of the dismissal deprivation of Petitioners right to DUE PROCESS and a denial of his
of the said petition. A closer scrutiny of the records shows that the constitutional right to property. ix[9]
and complainant who may file reply affidavits within ten (10) days from
receipt of the counter affidavits of the respondent.
(b) Whether or not the thirty (30)-day suspension of Petitioner,
without pay and unappealable, imposed by herein respondent b) If, on the basis of the affidavits and other evidences submitted by
DEPUTY OMBUDSMAN for MINDANAO, Cesar E. Nitorreda, was the parties, the investigating officer finds no sufficient cause to
in accordance with a valid or constitutional law/legislation and/or in warrant further proceedings, the complaint may be dismissed.
accordance with due process, supported by substantial evidence and is Otherwise, he shall summon the parties to a preliminary conference to
not arbitrary, whimsical and a grave abuse of discretion or authority on consider the following matters:
the part of said Nitorreda.x[10]
1) Whether the parties desire a formal investigation or are willing to
Petitioner assails the constitutionality of Section 27 of R.A. 6770 and submit the case for resolution on the basis of the evidence on record
Section 7, Rule III of Administrative Order No.7 for their failure to and such other evidences they will present at such conference;
provide for the right of appeal in certain cases from the decision of the
Ombudsman, maintaining that the same is tantamount to a deprivation 2) Should the parties desire a formal investigation to determine the
of property without due process of law. As regards this threshold nature of the charge, stipulation of facts, a definition of the issues,
matter, suffice it to say that this Court has consistently held that: identification and marking of exhibits, limitation of witness and such
other matters as would expedite the proceedings;
The right to appeal is not a natural right nor a part of due process; it is
merely a statutory privilege, and may be exercised only in the manner c) After the preliminary conference, the investigating officer shall
and in accordance with the provisions of the law.xi[11] issue an order reciting the matters taken up during the conference,
including the facts stipulated, the evidence marked and the issues
Apparently, therefore, the constitutional requirement of due process involved. The contents of this order may not be deviated from unless
may be satisfied notwithstanding the denial of the right to appeal for amended to prevent manifest injustice.
the essence of due process is simply the opportunity to be heard and to
present evidence in support of ones case.xii[12] d) Should hearing be conducted, the parties shall be notified at least
five (5) days before the date thereof. Failure of any or both of the
The Office of the Ombudsman is vested by law with the power to parties to appear at the hearing is not necessarily a cause for the
promulgate its own rules of procedure,xiii[13] and a perusal of the said dismissal of the complaint. A party who appears may be allowed to
rules of procedure in administrative cases manifest sufficient present his evidence in the absence of the adverse party who was duly
compliance with the requirements of due process. Thus, notified of the hearing;

Sec. 5. Administrative Adjudication; How Conducted. - e) Only witness who have submitted affidavits served on the adverse
party at least five (5) days before the date of his being presented as a
a) If the complaint is not dismissed for any of the causes enumerated witness may be allowed to testify at the hearing. The affidavit of any
in Section 20 of Republic Act No. 6770, the respondent shall be witness shall constitute his direct testimony, subject to cross-
furnished with copy of the affidavits and other evidences submitted by examination, re-direct examination and re-cross-examination;
the complainant, and shall be ordered to file his counter-affidavits and
other evidences in support of his defense, within ten (10) days from
receipt thereof, together with proof of service of the same on the
f) The parties shall be allowed the assistance of counsel and the right That the petitioner and all other public officials are deprived of a legal
to the production of evidence thru the compulsory process of subpoena recourse in the event that the Ombudsman or his Deputy hastily,
and subpoena duces tecum. arbitrarily, if not oppressively and/or inhumanly, acts to find him
administratively liable for an imagined violation of Sec. 4 of R.A. 6713
Petitioner further assails the failure of the Graft Investigating Officer x x xxviii[18] is belied by the fact that the remedy of filing a petition for
to call the parties to another preliminary conference after their failure certiorari under Rule 65 of the Rules of Court is always available to an
to appear at the first one. He contends that the lack of any kind of aggrieved public official in such a case. The Rules of Court which
hearing for evidence presentation resulted in what may be termed, in apply suppletorily to the Rules of Procedure of the Office of the
the lingo of civil procedure, a judgment on the pleading. xiv[14] At Ombudsmanxix[19] provides that in the absence of an appeal or any
the onset, it is worth pointing out that petitioner was afforded ample other plain, speedy and adequate remedy in the ordinary course of law,
opportunity to present his side at the scheduled preliminary a person aggrieved by any decision rendered in excess of jurisdiction
conference. His non-appearance thereat is attributable to no one else or with grave abuse of discretion by a tribunal, board or officer
but himself and he cannot be allowed to now pass the buck to the Graft exercising judicial functions, may file a petition for certiorari with this
Investigating Officer who had complied strictly with the abovequoted Court.xx[20]
procedure in the conduct of administrative investigations.
Furthermore, undisputed is the fact that not only did the Office of the Petitioners asseveration that his suspension is not substantiated by
Ombudsman give due course and consideration to petitioners counter- evidence is a mere desperate attempt to lure this Court into reviewing
affidavit, but it also entertained and resolved his motion for the factual findings of the Office of the Ombudsman. Squarely
reconsideration which is not ordinarily allowed in the adjudication of applicable to the findings of fact in the administrative proceedings
administrative cases where the penalty imposed is suspension of not against petitioner is the settled rule that:
more that one month. Thus, contrary to petitioners claim, he was in
fact given all opportunity to be heard, albeit through pleadings. x x x factual findings of administrative agencies are accorded not
only respect but finality, because of the special knowledge and
In point is the case of Concerned Officials of the MWSS vs. Hon. expertise gained by these quasi-judicial tribunals from handling
Ombudsman Conrado Vasquez,xv[15] where this Court upheld the specific matters falling under their jurisdiction. Court cannot take
validity of an order issued by the Ombudsman without prior hearing, cognizance of such factual issues. In reviewing administrative
in this wise: decisions, the reviewing court cannot re-examine the sufficiency of the
evidence x x x.xxi[21]
The essence of due process is an opportunity to be heard. One may
be heard, not solely by verbal presentation but also, and perhaps even Nonetheless, even a review of the evidence against the petitioner does
many times more creditably and practicable than oral argument, not warrant a reversal of the findings of fact of the Office of the
through pleadings. In administrative proceedings, moreover, technical Ombudsman.
rules of procedure and evidence are not strictly applied; administrative
due process cannot be fully equated to due process in its strict judicial Finally and as a last ditch effort, petitioner secured a joint-affidavit of
sense.xvi[16] desistance dated May 19, 1995 from private respondents in the hope
that the Office of the Ombudsman will be persuaded into discontinuing
Hence, a formal or trial type hearing is not, at all times, necessary. So the prosecution of the case against him. The joint-affidavit of
long as a partly is afforded fair and reasonable opportunity to explain desistance was executed by private respondents only after all evidence
his side, the requirement of due process is complied with.xvii[17] against petitioner had been documented and evaluated by the Office of
the Ombudsman, and in fact, only after it had issued its resolution
finding petitioner guilty of the administrative charges against him.
The joint-affidavit of desistance is not binding on the Office of the
Ombudsman and cannot prevail over the provision of law which
categorically allows the Office of the Ombudsman to investigate and
prosecute on its own any act or omission of a public officer or
employee, office or agency which appears to be illegal, unjust,
improper or inefficient.xxii[22] Moreover, this Court has consistently
refrained from interfering with the exercise by the Ombudsman of his
constitutionally mandated investigatory and prosecutory powers.
Otherwise stated, it is beyond the ambit of this Court to review the
exercise of discretion of the Ombudsman in prosecuting or dismissing
a complaint filed before it.xxiii[23] Such initiative and independence are
inherent in the Ombudsman who, beholden to no one, acts as the
champion of the people and preserver of the integrity of the public
service.

WHEREFORE, in view of the aforegoing reasons, the motion for


reconsideration of the Resolution of this Court dated June 27, 1995 is
hereby denied.
EVELIO P. BARATA, petitioner, vs. BENJAMIN ABALOS, JR., OFFICE OF THE
OMBUDSMAN and the COURT OF APPEALS, respondents.
SO ORDERED.
DECISION

GONZAGA-REYES, J.:

Before this Court is a Petition for Review in Certiorari seeking to reverse the
Decisionxi[1] dated April 10, 2001 rendered by the Court of Appeals in CA-G.R. SP
No. 56973 as well as the Order dated July 1, 1999 of the Office of the Ombudsman.

The antecedents are as follows: Petitioner heads the San Miguel Bukid Homeowners'
Association, Inc. whose members have occupied a certain parcel of land in
Mandaluyong City. Sometime in March 1995, the City Government of
Mandaluyong initiated the construction of medium size condominiums and row
houses for the benefit of qualified members of the said homeowners' association. To
give way to the construction, the members of the said homeowners' association had
to vacate the area which they were occupying as the medium size housing project
and row houses were supposed to be completed within 540 days from June 1995.
When the period for construction lapsed, petitioner and the members of the
homeowners' association demanded from the previous City Mayor, Benjamin
Abalos, Sr., the completion of the said housing project but the same allegedly fell on
deaf ears. When herein respondent Benjamin Abalos, Jr. assumed office as Act of 1989) shall have been filed. Private respondent is of the view that since the
Mandaluyong City Mayor, petitioner and his members again made similar demands Order dated September 10, 1999 of the Ombudsman denying the motion for
for the completion of the housing project. Alleging that the demands have been reconsideration was received by petitioner on October 15, 1999 and on the
ignored, petitioner filed on May 17, 1999 an administrative complaint against assumption that appeal is allowed, petitioner had until October 25, 1999 to file his
respondent Abalos, Jr. for violation of Section 5 (a) of R.A. 6713 (Code of Conduct appeal in accordance with Section 27, R.A. 6770 or at the most, until November 25,
and Ethical Standards for Public Officials and Employees) for failing to act promptly 1999, if he availed of the 30-day extension provided under Section 2, Rule 45 of the
on letters and requests sent by the public. Respondent Office of the Ombudsman 1997 Rules on Civil Procedure; however, the petition was filed only on February 2,
rendered a Decision dated July 21, 1999 dismissing the administrative complaint "for 2000 (sic).
insufficiency of evidence." The Motion for Reconsideration therefrom was likewise
denied in the Order of September 10, 1999. The order was received by petitioner on In the Comment filed by the Office of the Ombudsman, thru the Office of the
October 15, 1999. On November 4, 1999, petitioner appealed by way of a petition Solicitor General, it was averred that the decision of the Ombudsman exonerating
for review on certiorari with this Court in G.R. No. 140272. The Second Division respondent Abalos of the administrative charge is final and unappealable. Citing the
denied the petition in the Resolution of November 24, 1999 in view of A.M. No. 9-2- case of Lapid vs. Court of Appeals (G.R. No.142261, June 29, 2000), it is of the
02-SCxi[2] and the ruling in the case of Fabian vs. Desierto.xi[3] The resolution was view that what the Fabian case declared invalid and of no force and effect is Section
received by petitioner on January 18, 2000. 27 of R.A. 6770 relating only to the mode of appeal from the Office of the
Ombudsman to the Supreme Court, which appeal should now be taken to the Court
On February 1, 2000, petitioner filed a "Petition for Review on Certiorari" with the of Appeals.
Court of Appeals which rendered a Decision dated April 10, 2000 dismissing the
petition on the ground that the decision exonerating respondent mayor of In his Reply, petitioner stresses that the Office of the Ombudsman should not restrict
administrative charge is not appealable and that the petition was filed out of time. the right of appeal allowed in Section 27 of R.A. 6770 nor limit the power of review
of this Court. He contends that whether the decision of the Ombudsman is for
Hence, the present petition raising the sole ground that: conviction or acquittal of the respondent, it should be reviewed by this Court.

"THE HONORABLE COURT OF APPEALS COMMITTED GRAVE ABUSE OF The petition lacks merit.
DISCRETION AMOUNTING TO LACK OF JURISDICTION IN RULING THAT
THE OMBUDSMAN'S DECISION EXONERATING RESPONDENT ABALOS, Section 27 of R.A. 6770 provides:
JR. OF AN ADMINISTRATIVE CHARGE IS NOT APPEALABLE."
"SEC. 27. Effectivity and Finality of Decisions. - (1) All provisionary orders at the
Petitioner claims that respondent court erred in ruling that it has no appellate Office of the Ombudsman are immediately effective and executory.
authority to review the decision of the Ombudsman arguing that pursuant to the
decision of this Court in Fabian vs. Desierto, decisions of the Ombudsman in A motion for reconsideration of any order, directive or decision of the Office of the
administrative disciplinary cases should be taken to the Court of Appeals. He insists Ombudsman must be filed within five (5) days after receipt of written notice and
that the Ombudsmans decision absolving respondent Abalos of the charge against
shall be entertained only on any of the following grounds:
him is appealable.
(1) New evidence has been discovered which materially affects the order, directive
In his Comment and/or Motion to Dismiss, private respondent Abalos, Jr. argues that or decision;
under Section 7, Rule III of Administrative Order No. 7 (Rules of Procedure of the
Office of the Ombudsman), the decision of the Ombudsman is immediately final and
unappealable where the respondent is absolved of the charge. Respondent further (2) Errors of law or irregularities have been committed prejudicial to the interest of
avers that the petition was nonetheless filed out of time as section 7, Rule III of the movant. The motion for reconsideration shall be resolved within three (3) days
Administrative Order No. 7 provides that decisions of the office of the Ombudsman from filing: Provided, That only one motion for reconsideration shall be entertained.
in administrative cases not falling under those immediately declared final and
unappealable become final within ten (10) days unless a motion for reconsideration Findings of fact by the Office of the Ombudsman when supported by substantial
or a petition for certiorari as prescribed by Section 27, R.A. 6770 (The Ombudsman evidence are conclusive. Any order, directive or decision imposing the penalty of
public censure or reprimand, suspension of not more than one month's salary shall be instances enumerated in Section 27 of R.A. 6770 wherein the decision shall become
final and unappealable. final and unappealable, it is implicit in Section 27, and with greater reason, that
decisions of the Ombudsman absolving the respondent of the charge, should be final
In all administrative disciplinary cases, orders, directives or decisions of the Office and unappealable. Needless to state, in appropriate cases involving oppressive or
of the Ombudsman may be appealed to the Supreme Court by filing a petition for arbitrary action, the complainant is not deprived of a legal recourse by certiorari
certiorari within ten (10) days from receipt of the written notice of the order, under Rule 65 of the Rules of Court which apply suppletorily to the Rules of
directive or decision or denial of the motion for reconsideration in accordance with Procedures of the Office of the Ombudsman.xi[6] The same case teaches that the
Rule 45 of the Rules of Court. failure to provide for the right of appeal in certain cases from the decision of the
Ombudsman is not a denial of due process for the right to appeal is not a natural right
nor a part of due process; it is merely a statutory privilege and may be exercised only
The above rules may be amended or modified by the Office of the Ombudsman as
in the manner and in accordance with the provisions of the law. It should be recalled
the interest may require."
that the Second Division of this Court in G.R. No.140272 denied the appeal by way
of petition for review on certiorari in its Resolution dated November 24, 1999
From the above-quoted provision, it is clear that any order, directive or decision of precisely in view of the ruling in the Fabian case. Simply put, the correct recourse
the Office of the Ombudsman imposing the penalty of public censure, or reprimand, was to the Court of Appeals and not to this Court.
or suspension of not more than one month's salary shall be final and unappealable.
The last paragraph in Section 27 which provides that in all administratively
This notwithstanding, even on the assumption that appeal is allowed, the same can
disciplinary cases, orders, directives, or decisions of the Office of the Ombudsman
no longer prosper. As correctly pointed out by private respondent, since the Order
may be appealed to the Supreme Court was rendered invalid and of no effect in the
dated September 10, 1999 of the Ombudsman denying the motion for
case of Fabian vs. Desierto which laid down the rule that said Section 27 cannot
reconsideration was received by petitioner on October 15, 1999, petitioner had until
validly authorize an appeal to this Court from decisions of the Office of the
October 25, 1999 to appeal in accordance with Section 27, R.A. 6770 or at the most,
Ombudsman in administrative disciplinary cases without violating the proscription in
until November 24, 1999, if he availed of the 30-day extension provided under
Section 30, Article VI of the Constitution against a law which increases the appellate
Section 2, Rule 43 of the 1997 Rules on Civil Procedure. However, the petition was
jurisdiction of this Court without its advice and concurrence. Thus, appeals from
filed with the Court of Appeals only on February 1, 2000, way beyond the
decisions of the Office of the Ombudsman in administrative disciplinary cases
reglementary period.
should be brought to the Court of Appeals under the provisions of Rule 43. The only
provision affected by the Fabian ruling is the designation of the Court of Appeals as
the proper forum and of Rule 43 of the Rules of Court as the proper mode of appeal; Finally, petitioner seeks an interpretation of Section 5 (a) of R.A. 6713 (Code of
all other matters included in said Section 27, including the finality or non-finality of Conduct and Ethical Standard for Public Officials and Employees) arguing that the
decisions, are not affected and still stand.xi[4] Court of Appeals did not discuss the said provision and the merit of his petition filed
therein. It is noted, however, that the Court of Appeals deemed it no longer
necessary to delve into this issue precisely for the reason that even if the
Pursuant to the authority vested in the Office of the Ombudsman to promulgate its
Ombudsman decision was appealable, the petition was filed beyond the period as the
rules of procedure,xi[5] Section 7, Rule III of Administrative Order No.7 provides:
filing of the petition for review on certiorari with the Supreme Court did not toll the
running of the period to file the petition for review with the Court of Appeals. We
"SEC. 7. Finality of decision. - Where the respondent is absolved of the charge, and find no cogent reason to disturb the findings and conclusions of the Court below.
in case of conviction where the penalty imposed is public censure or reprimand,
suspension of not more than one month, or a fine equivalent to one month salary, the
WHEREFORE, the petition for review on certiorari is hereby DENIED for lack of
decision shall be final and unappealable. In all other cases, the decision shall
merit.
become final after the expiration of ten (10) days from receipt thereof by the
respondent, unless a motion for reconsideration or petition for certiorari shall have
been filed by him as prescribed in Section 27 of RA 6770." SO ORDERED.

The above-quoted provision explicitly provides that where the respondent is


absolved of the charge, the decision shall be final and unappealable. Although the
phrase "(W)hen the respondent is absolved of the charge" is not one of those
In the latter part of the year 2000, Gov. Singson publicly accused then President
Joseph E. Estrada and his cohorts of engaging in several illegal activities, including
[G.R. No. 148468. January 28, 2003] its operation on the illegal numbers game known as jueteng. This triggered the filing
with the Office of the Ombudsman of several criminal complaints against Joseph
Estrada, Jinggoy Estrada and petitioner, together with other persons. Among such
ATTY. EDWARD SERAPIO, petitioner, vs. SANDIGANBAYAN (THIRD complaints were: Volunteers Against Crime and Corruption, versus Joseph Ejercito
DIVISION), PEOPLE OF THE PHILIPPINES, and PHILIPPINE NATIONAL Estrada, Edward Serapio, et al., docketed as OMB Crim. Case No. 0-00-1754; Graft
POLICE DIRECTOR-GENERAL LEANDRO MENDOZA, respondents. Free Philippines Foundation, Inc., versus Joseph Ejercito Estrada, Edward Serapio,
et al., docketed as OMB Crim. Case No. 0-00-1755; and Leonardo De Vera, Romeo
[G.R. No. 148769. January 28, 2003] T. Capulong and Dennis B. Funa, versus Joseph Estrada, Yolanda Ricaforte,
Edward Serapio, Raul De Guzman, Danilo Reyes and Mila Reforma, docketed as
EDWARD S. SERAPIO, petitioner, vs. HONORABLE SANDIGANBAYAN and OMB Crim. Case No. 0-00-1757.
PEOPLE OF THE PHILIPPINES, respondents.
Subsequently, petitioner filed his Counter-Affidavit dated February 21, 2001. The
[G.R. No. 149116. January 28, 2003] other respondents likewise filed their respective counter-affidavits. The Office of the
Ombudsman conducted a preliminary investigation of the complaints and on April 4,
EDWARD S. SERAPIO, petitioner, vs. HONORABLE SANDIGANBAYAN 2001, issued a joint resolution recommending, inter alia, that Joseph Estrada,
(THIRD DIVISION) and PEOPLE OF THE PHILIPPINES, respondents. petitioner and several others be charged with the criminal offense of plunder.

DECISION On April 4, 2001, the Ombudsman filed with the Sandiganbayan several
Informations against former President Estrada, who earlier had resigned from his
post as President of the Republic of the Philippines. One of these Informations,
CALLEJO, SR., J.:
docketed as Criminal Case No. 26558, charged Joseph Estrada with plunder. On
April 18, 2001, the Ombudsman filed an amended Information in said case charging
Before the Court are two petitions for certiorari filed by petitioner Edward Serapio, Estrada and several co-accused, including petitioner, with said crime. No bail was
assailing the resolutions of the Third Division of the Sandiganbayan denying his recommended for the provisional release of all the accused, including petitioner.
petition for bail, motion for a reinvestigation and motion to quash, and a petition for The case was raffled to a special division which was subsequently created by the
habeas corpus, all in relation to Criminal Case No. 26558 for plunder wherein Supreme Court. The amended Information reads:
petitioner is one of the accused together with former President Joseph E. Estrada,
Jose Jinggoy P. Estrada and several others.
That during the period from June, 1998 to January, 2001, in the Philippines, and
within the jurisdiction of this Honorable Court, accused Joseph Ejercito Estrada,
The records show that petitioner was a member of the Board of Trustees and the THEN A PUBLIC OFFICER, BEING THEN THE PRESIDENT OF THE
Legal Counsel of the Erap Muslim Youth Foundation, a non-stock, non-profit REPUBLIC OF THE PHILIPPINES, by himself AND/OR in
foundation established in February 2000 ostensibly for the purpose of providing CONNIVANCE/CONSPIRACY with his co-accused, WHO ARE MEMBERS OF
educational opportunities for the poor and underprivileged but deserving Muslim HIS FAMILY, RELATIVES BY AFFINITY OR CONSANGUINITY, BUSINESS
youth and students, and support to research and advance studies of young Muslim ASSOCIATES, SUBORDINATES AND/OR OTHER PERSONS, BY TAKING
educators and scientists. UNDUE ADVANTAGE OF HIS OFFICIAL POSITION, AUTHORITY,
RELATIONSHIP, CONNECTION OR INFLUENCE, did then and there wilfully,
Sometime in April 2000, petitioner, as trustee of the Foundation, received on its unlawfully and criminally amass, accumulate and acquire BY HIMSELF,
behalf a donation in the amount of Two Hundred Million Pesos (P200 Million) from DIRECTLY OR INDIRECTLY, ill-gotten wealth in the aggregate amount OR
Ilocos Sur Governor Luis Chavit Singson through the latters assistant Mrs. TOTAL VALUE of FOUR BILLION NINETY SEVEN MILLION EIGHT
Yolanda Ricaforte. Petitioner received the donation and turned over the said amount HUNDRED FOUR THOUSAND ONE HUNDRED SEVENTY THREE PESOS
to the Foundations treasurer who later deposited it in the Foundations account with AND SEVENTEEN CENTAVOS [P4,097,804,173.17], more or less, THEREBY
the Equitable PCI Bank. UNJUSTLY ENRICHING HIMSELF OR THEMSELVES AT THE EXPENSE
AND TO THE DAMAGE OF THE FILIPINO PEOPLE AND THE REPUBLIC OF
THE PHILIPPINES, through ANY OR A combination OR A series of overt OR (d) by unjustly enriching himself FROM COMMISSIONS, GIFTS, SHARES,
criminal acts, OR SIMILAR SCHEMES OR MEANS, described as follows: PERCENTAGES, KICKBACKS, OR ANY FORM OF PECUNIARY BENEFITS,
IN CONNIVANCE WITH JOHN DOES AND JANE DOES, the amount of MORE
(a) by receiving OR collecting, directly or indirectly, on SEVERAL OR LESS THREE BILLION TWO HUNDRED THIRTY THREE MILLION ONE
INSTANCES, MONEY IN THE AGGREGATE AMOUNT OF FIVE HUNDRED HUNDRED FOUR THOUSAND ONE HUNDRED SEVENTY THREE PESOS
FORTY-FIVE MILLION PESOS (P545,000,000.00), MORE OR LESS, FROM AND SEVENTEEN CENTAVOS [P3,233,104,173.17] AND DEPOSITING THE
ILLEGAL GAMBLING IN THE FORM OF GIFT, SHARE, PERCENTAGE, SAME UNDER HIS ACCOUNT NAME JOSE VELARDE AT THE
KICKBACK OR ANY FORM OF PECUNIARY BENEFIT, BY HIMSELF EQUITABLE-PCI BANK.
AND/OR in connivance with co-accused CHARLIE ATONG ANG, Jose Jinggoy
Estrada, Yolanda T. Ricaforte, Edward Serapio, AND JOHN DOES AND JANE CONTRARY TO LAW.xiii[1]
DOES, in consideration OF TOLERATION OR PROTECTION OF ILLEGAL
GAMBLING; On April 5, 2001, petitioner obtained a copy of the Ombudsmans Joint Resolution
finding probable cause against him for plunder. The next day, April 6, 2001, he filed
(b) by DIVERTING, RECEIVING, misappropriating, converting OR misusing with the Office of the Ombudsman a Motion for Reconsideration and/or
DIRECTLY OR INDIRECTLY, for HIS OR THEIR PERSONAL gain and benefit Reinvestigation.xiii[2] Petitioner likewise filed on said date, this time with the
public fund in the amount of ONE HUNDRED THIRTY MILLION PESOS Sandiganbayan, an Urgent Omnibus Motion: (a) To Hold in Abeyance the Issuance
(P130,000,000.00), more or less, representing a portion of the TWO HUNDRED of Warrant of Arrest and Further Proceedings; (b) To Conduct a Determination of
MILLION PESOS [P200,000,000.00]) tobacco excise tax share allocated for the Probable Cause; (c) For Leave to File Accuseds Motion for Reconsideration and/or
Province of Ilocos Sur under R.A. No. 7171, BY HIMSELF AND/OR in Reinvestigation; and (d) To Direct the Ombudsman to Conduct a Reinvestigation of
CONNIVANCE with co-accused Charlie Atong Ang, Alma Alfaro, JOHN DOE the Charges against accused Edward Serapio.xiii[3]
a.k.a. Eleuterio Tan OR Eleuterio Ramos Tan or Mr. Uy, and Jane Doe a.k.a. Delia
Rajas, AND OTHER JOHN DOES AND JANE DOES; On April 10, 2001, the Ombudsman issued an order denying petitioners motion for
reconsideration and/or reinvestigation on the ground of lack of jurisdiction since the
(c) by directing, ordering and compelling FOR HIS PERSONAL GAIN AND amended Information charging petitioner with plunder had already been filed with
BENEFIT, the Government Service Insurance System (GSIS) TO PURCHASE, the Sandiganbayan.xiii[4]
351,878,000 SHARES OF STOCKS, MORE OR LESS, and the Social Security
System (SSS), 329,855,000 SHARES OF STOCK, MORE OR LESS, OF THE In a parallel development, the Sandiganbayan issued a Resolution on April 25, 2001
BELLE CORPORATION IN THE AMOUNT OF MORE OR LESS ONE BILLION in Criminal Case No. 26558 finding probable cause to justify the issuance of
ONE HUNDRED TWO MILLION NINE HUNDRED SIXTY FIVE THOUSAND warrants of arrest for the accused, including petitioner. Accordingly, the
SIX HUNDERED SEVEN PESOS AND FIFTY CENTAVOS [P1,102,965,607.50] Sandiganbayan issued an Order on the same date for the arrest of petitioner.xiii[5]
AND MORE OR LESS SEVEN HUNDRED FORTY FOUR MILLION SIX When apprised of said order, petitioner voluntarily surrendered at 9:45 p.m. on the
HUNDRED TWELVE THOUSAND AND FOUR HUNDRED FIFTY PESOS same day to Philippine National Police Chief Gen. Leandro Mendoza. Petitioner has
[P744,612,450.00], RESPECTIVELY, OR A TOTAL OR MORE OR LESS ONE since been detained at Camp Crame for said charge.
BILLION EIGHT HUNDRED FORTY SEVEN MILLION FIVE HUNDRED
SEVENTY EIGHT THOUSAND FIFTY SEVEN PESOS AND FIFTY The Sandiganbayan set the arraignment of the accused, including petitioner, in
CENTAVOS [P1,847,578,057.50]; AND BY COLLECTING OR RECEIVING, Criminal Case No. 26558 on June 27, 2001. In the meantime, on April 27, 2001,
DIRECTLY OR INDIRECTLY, BY HIMSELF AND/OR IN CONNIVANCE petitioner filed with the Sandiganbayan an Urgent Petition for Bail which was set for
WITH JOHN DOES AND JANE DOES, COMMISSIONS OR PERCENTAGES OF hearing on May 4, 2001.xiii[6] For his part, petitioners co-accused Jose Jinggoy
SHARES OF STOCK IN THE AMOUNT OF ONE HUNDRED EIGHTY NINE Estrada filed on April 20, 2001 a Very Urgent Omnibus Motion alleging that he was
MILLION SEVEN HUNDRED THOUSAND PESOS [189,700,000.00] MORE OR entitled to bail as a matter of right.
LESS, FROM THE BELLE CORPORATION WHICH BECAME PART OF THE
DEPOSIT IN THE EQUITABLE-PCI BANK UNDER THE ACCOUNT NAME
JOSE VELARDE; During the hearing on May 4, 2001 on petitioners Urgent Petition for Bail, the
prosecution moved for the resetting of the arraignment of the accused earlier than the
June 27, 2001 schedule. However, the Sandiganbayan denied the motion of the
prosecution and issued an order declaring that the petition for bail can and should be of overt or criminal acts constitutive of plunder; as against him, the amended
heard before petitioners arraignment on June 27, 2001 and even before the other Information does not allege a pattern of criminal acts indicative of an overall
accused in Criminal Case No. 26558 filed their respective petitions for bail. unlawful scheme or conspiracy; the money alleged in paragraph (a) of the amended
Accordingly, the Sandiganbayan set the hearing for the reception of evidence on Information to have been illegally received or collected does not constitute ill-
petitioners petition for bail on May 21 to 25, 2001. gotten wealth as defined in Section 1(d) of Republic Act No. 7080; and the
amended Information charges him of bribery and illegal gambling.xiii[10] By way
On May 17, 2001, four days before the hearing on petitioners petition for bail, the of riposte, the prosecution objected to the holding of bail hearing until petitioner
Ombudsman filed an urgent motion for early arraignment of Joseph Estrada, Jinggoy agreed to withdraw his motion to quash. The prosecution contended that petitioners
Estrada and petitioner and a motion for joint bail hearings of Joseph Estrada, Jinggoy motion to quash the amended Information was antithetical to his petition for bail.
Estrada and petitioner. The following day, petitioner filed a manifestation
questioning the propriety of including Joseph Estrada and Jinggoy Estrada in the The Sandiganbayan reset the arraignment of accused and the hearing on the petition
hearing on his (petitioners) petition for bail. for bail of petitioner in Criminal Case No. 26558 for July 10, 2001 to enable it to
resolve the pending incidents and the motion to quash of petitioner. However, even
The Sandiganbayan issued a Resolution on May 18, 2001 resetting the hearings on before the Sandiganbayan could resolve the pending motions of petitioner and the
petitioners petition for bail to June 18 to 28, 2001 to enable the court to resolve the prosecution, petitioner filed with this Court on June 29, 2001 a Petition for Habeas
prosecutions pending motions as well as petitioners motion that his petition for bail Corpus and Certiorari, docketed as G.R. No. 148468, praying that the Court declare
be heard as early as possible, which motion the prosecution opposed. void the questioned orders, resolutions and actions of the Sandiganbayan on his
claim that he was thereby effectively denied of his right to due process. Petitioner
likewise prayed for the issuance of a writ of habeas corpus; that the People be
On May 31, 2001, the Sandiganbayan issued a Resolution denying petitioners April
declared to have waived their right to present evidence in opposition to his petition
6, 2001 Urgent Omnibus Motion. The court ruled that the issues posed by petitioner
for bail; and, premised on the failure of the People to adduce strong evidence of
had already been resolved in its April 25, 2001 Resolution finding probable cause to
petitioners guilt of plunder, that he be granted provisional liberty on bail after due
hold petitioner and his co-accused for trial.xiii[7] Petitioner filed a motion for
proceedings.xiii[11]
reconsideration of the said May 31, 2001 Resolution.

Meanwhile, on June 28, 2001, Jose Jinggoy Estrada filed with the Sandiganbayan
On June 1, 2001, the Sandiganbayan issued a resolution requiring the attendance of
a motion praying that said court resolve his motion to fix his bail.
petitioner as well as all the other accused in Criminal Case No. 26558 during the
hearings on the petitions for bail under pain of waiver of cross-examination. The
Sandiganbayan, citing its inherent powers to proceed with the trial of the case in the On July 9, 2001, the Sandiganbayan issued a Resolution denying petitioners motion
manner it determines best conducive to orderly proceedings and speedy termination to quash the amended Information. Petitioner, through counsel, received on said date
of the case, directed the other accused to participate in the said bail hearing a copy of said resolution.xiii[12] The motion to fix bail filed by Jose Jinggoy
considering that under Section 8, Rule 114 of the Revised Rules of Court, whatever Estrada was also resolved by the Sandiganbayan.
evidence is adduced during the bail hearing shall be considered automatically
reproduced at the trial.xiii[8] On July 10, 2001, just before his arraignment in Criminal Case No. 26558, petitioner
manifested to the Sandiganbayan that he was going to file a motion for
However, instead of proceeding with the bail hearing set by it on June 18, 2001, the reconsideration of the July 9, 2001 Resolution denying his motion to quash and for
Sandiganbayan issued an Order on June 15, 2001 canceling the said bail hearing due the deferment of his arraignment. The Sandiganbayan, however, declared that there
to pending incidents yet to be resolved and reset anew the hearing to June 26, was no provision in the Rules of Court or in the Sandiganbayans rules granting the
2001.xiii[9] right to petitioner to file a motion for the reconsideration of an interlocutory order
issued by it and ordered petitioner to orally argue his motion for reconsideration.
When petitioner refused, the Sandiganbayan proceeded with his arraignment.
On the eve of said hearing, the Sandiganbayan issued a resolution denying
Petitioner refused to plead, impelling the court to enter a plea of not guilty for him.
petitioners motion for reconsideration of its May 31, 2001 Resolution. The bail
hearing on June 26, 2001 did not again proceed because on said date petitioner filed
with the Sandiganbayan a motion to quash the amended Information on the grounds On July 20, 2001, petitioner filed with the Court a Petition for Certiorari, docketed as
that as against him, the amended Information does not allege a combination or series G.R. No. 148769, alleging that the Sandiganbayan acted without or in excess of
jurisdiction or with grave abuse of discretion amounting to lack or excess of Petitioner asserts that, on the face of the amended Information, he is charged with
jurisdiction in issuing its July 9, 2001 Resolution denying his motion to quash, plunder only in paragraph (a) which reads:
notwithstanding the fact that material inculpatory allegations of the amended
Information against him do not constitute the crime of plunder; and that he is (a) by receiving OR collecting, directly or indirectly, on SEVERAL
charged, under the said amended Information, for more than one offense. Jose INSTANCES, MONEY IN THE AGGREGATE AMOUNT OF
Jinggoy Estrada likewise filed petition for certiorari with the Court docketed as FIVE HUNDRED FORTY-FIVE MILLION PESOS
G.R. No. 148965 for the nullification of a resolution of the Sandiganbayan denying (P545,000,000.00), MORE OR LESS, FROM ILLEGAL
his motion to fix bail. GAMBLING IN THE FORM OF GIFT, SHARE, PERCENTAGE,
KICKBACK OR ANY FORM OF PECUNIARY BENEFIT, BY
On August 9, 2001, petitioner filed with the Court another Petition for Certiorari, HIMSELF AND/OR in connivance with co-accused CHARLIE
docketed as G.R. No. 149116, assailing the Sandiganbayans Resolution dated 31 ATONG ANG, Jose Jinggoy Estrada, Yolanda T. Ricaforte,
May 2001 which denied his April 6, 2001 Urgent Omnibus Motion and its June 25, Edward Serapio, AND JOHN DOES AND JANE DOES, in
2001 Resolution denying his motion for reconsideration of its May 31, 2001 consideration OF TOLERATION OR PROTECTION OF ILLEGAL
Resolution. GAMBLING;xiii[14]

Re: G.R. No. 148769 Petitioner asserts that there is no allegation in paragraph (a) of the amended
Information of a combination or series of overt or criminal acts constituting
Petitioner avers that: plunder as described in Section 1(d) of R.A. 7080 as amended. Neither does the
amended Information allege a pattern of criminal acts. He avers that his single act
of toleration or protection of illegal gambling impelled by a single criminal
THE SANDIGANBAYAN ACTED WITHOUT OR IN EXCESS OF
resolution does not constitute the requisite combination or series of acts for
JURISDICTION OR WITH GRAVE ABUSE OF DISCRETION AMOUNTING
plunder. He further claims that the consideration consisting of gifts, percentages or
TO LACK OR EXCESS OF JURISDICTION, IN DENYING PETITIONER
kickbacks in furtherance of said resolution turned over to and received by former
SERAPIOS MOTION TO QUASH NOTWITHSTANDING THAT
President Joseph E. Estrada on several occasions does not cure the defect in the
amended information. Petitioner insists that on the face of the amended Information
I he is charged only with bribery or illegal gambling and not of plunder.

THE FACTS ALLEGED IN THE AMENDED INFORMATION AS AGAINST Petitioner argues that the P540 million which forms part of the P4,097,804,173.17
PETITIONER SERAPIO DO NOT CONSTITUTE THE CRIME OF PLUNDER. amassed by former President Joseph E. Estrada in confabulation with his co-accused
is not ill-gotten wealth as defined in Section 1(d) of R.A. 7080.
A. The Amended Information, as against petitioner Serapio, does not allege a
combination or series of overt or criminal acts constitutive of plunder. We do not agree with petitioner. Section 6, Rule 110 of the Revised Rules of
Criminal Procedure provides that:
B. The Amended Information, as against petitioner Serapio, does not allege a
pattern of criminal acts indicative of an overall unlawful scheme or conspiracy. Sec. 6. Sufficiency of complaint or information. A complaint or information is
sufficient if it states the name of the accused, the designation of the offense given by
C. The money described in paragraph (a) of the Amended Information and the statute; the acts or omissions complained of as constituting the offense; the name
alleged to have been illegally received or collected does not constitute ill-gotten of the offended party; the approximate date of the commission of the offense; and the
wealth as defined in Section 1(d), Republic Act No. 7080, as amended. place where the offense was committed.

II When the offense was committed by more than one person, all of them shall be
included in the complaint or information.xiii[15]
THE AMENDED INFORMATION CHARGES MORE THAN ONE
OFFENSE.xiii[13]
The acts or omissions complained or must be alleged in such form as is sufficient to in paragraph (a) to (d) of the amended information conspired and confederated with
enable a person of common understanding to know what offense is intended to be former President Estrada to enable the latter to amass, accumulate or acquire ill-
charged and enable the court to know the proper judgment. The Information must gotten wealth in the aggregate amount of P4,097,804,173.17.
allege clearly and accurately the elements of the crime charged. What facts and
circumstances are necessary to be included therein must be determined by reference Under the amended Information, all the accused, including petitioner, are charged of
to the definition and elements of the specific crimes. The purpose of the requirement having conspired and confabulated together in committing plunder. When two or
of alleging all the elements of the crime in the Information is to inform an accused of more persons conspire to commit a crime, each is responsible for all the acts of
the nature of the accusation against him so as to enable him to suitably prepare for others. In contemplation of law, the act of the conspirator is the act of each of
his defense.xiii[16] Another purpose is to enable accused, if found guilty, to plead them.xiii[23] Conspirators are one man, they breathe one breath, they speak one
his conviction in a subsequent prosecution for the same offense.xiii[17] The use of voice, they wield one arm and the law says that the acts, words and declarations of
derivatives or synonyms or allegations of basic facts constituting the offense charged each, while in the pursuit of the common design, are the acts, words and declarations
is sufficient.xiii[18] of all.xiii[24]

In this case, the amended Information specifically alleges that all the accused, Petitioner asserts that he is charged under the amended Information of bribery and
including petitioner, connived and conspired with former President Joseph E. Estrada illegal gambling and others. The Sandiganbayan, for its part, held that petitioner is
to commit plunder through any or a combination or a series of overt or criminal acts not charged with the predicate acts of bribery and illegal gambling but is charged
or similar schemes or means. And in paragraph (a) of the amended Information, only with one crime that of plunder:
petitioner and his co-accused are charged with receiving or collecting, directly or
indirectly, on several instances money in the aggregate amount of P545,000,000.00. THE ISSUE OF WHETHER OR NOT THE INFORMATION
In Jose Jinggoy Estrada vs. Sandiganbayan (Third Division), et al.,xiii[19] we
held that the word series is synonymous with the clause on several instances; it
refers to a repetition of the same predicate act in any of the items in Section 1(d) of CHARGES MORE THAN ONE OFFENSE
the law. We further held that the word combination contemplates the commission
of at least any two different predicate acts in any of the said items. We ruled that According to the accused Estradas and Edward Serapio the information charges more
plainly, subparagraph (a) of the amended information charges accused therein, than one offense, namely, bribery (Article 210 of the Revised Penal Code),
including petitioner, with plunder committed by a series of the same predicate act malversation of public funds or property (Article 217, Revised Penal Code) and
under Section 1(d)(2) of the law and that: violations of Sec. 3(e) of Republic Act (RA No. 3019) and Section 7(d) of RA 6713.

x x x Sub-paragraph (a) alleged the predicate act of receiving, on several instances, This contention is patently unmeritorious. The acts alleged in the information are
money from illegal gambling, in consideration of toleration or protection of illegal not charged as separate offenses but as predicate acts of the crime of plunder.
gambling, and expressly names petitioner as one of those who conspired with former
President Estrada in committing the offense. This predicate act corresponds with the It should be stressed that the Anti-Plunder law specifically Section 1(d) thereof does
offense described in item [2] of the enumeration in Section 1(d) of R.A. No. 7080. x not make any express reference to any specific provision of laws, other than R.A.
x x.xiii[20] No. 7080, as amended, which coincidentally may penalize as a separate crime any of
the overt or criminal acts enumerated therein. The said acts which form part of the
It is not necessary to allege in the amended Information a pattern of overt or criminal combination or series of act are described in their generic sense. Thus, aside from
acts indicative of the overall unlawful scheme or conspiracy because as Section 3 of malversation of public funds, the law also uses the generic terms
R.A. 7080 specifically provides, the same is evidentiary and the general rule is that misappropriation, conversion or misuse of said fund. The fact that the acts
matters of evidence need not be alleged in the Information.xiii[21] involved may likewise be penalized under other laws is incidental. The said acts are
mentioned only as predicate acts of the crime of plunder and the allegations relative
The Court also ruled in Jose Jinggoy Estrada vs. Sandiganbayanxiii[22] that the thereto are not to be taken or to be understood as allegations charging separate
aggregate amount of P4,097,804,173.17 inclusive of the P545 million alleged in criminal offenses punished under the Revised Penal Code, the Anti-Graft and
paragraph (a) of the amended information is ill-gotten wealth as contemplated in Corrupt Practices Act and Code of Conduct and Ethical Standards for Public
Section 1, paragraph 1(d) of Republic Act 7080, as amended, and that all the accused Officials and Employees.xiii[25]
This Court agrees with the Sandiganbayan. It is clear on the face of the amended Petitioner insists that he cannot be charged with plunder since: (1) the P200 million
Information that petitioner and his co-accused are charged only with one crime of he received does not constitute ill-gotten wealth as defined in Section 1(d) of R.A.
plunder and not with the predicate acts or crimes of plunder. It bears stressing that No. 7080;xiii[31] (2) there is no evidence linking him to the collection and receipt of
the predicate acts merely constitute acts of plunder and are not crimes separate and jueteng money;xiii[32] (3) there was no showing that petitioner participated in a
independent of the crime of plunder. Resultantly then, the petition is dismissed. pattern of criminal acts indicative of an overall unlawful scheme or conspiracy to
amass, accumulate or acquire ill-gotten wealth, or that his act of receiving the P200
Re: G.R. No. 149116 million constitutes an overt criminal act of plunder.xiii[33]

Petitioner assails the May 31, 2001 Joint Resolution of the Sandiganbayan denying Petitioner argues further that his motion for reinvestigation is premised on the
his April 4, 2001 Urgent Omnibus Motion contending that: absolute lack of evidence to support a finding of probable cause for plunder as
against him,xiii[34] and hence he should be spared from the inconvenience, burden
and expense of a public trial.xiii[35]
GROUNDS FOR THE PETITION

Petitioner also avers that the discretion of government prosecutors is not beyond
THE SANDIGANBAYAN ACTED WITHOUT OR IN EXCESS OF
judicial scrutiny. He asserts that while this Court does not ordinarily look into the
JURISDICTION OR WITH GRAVE ABUSE OF DISCRETION AMOUNTING
existence of probable cause to charge a person for an offense in a given case, it may
TO LACK OR EXCESS OF JURISDICTION IN SUMMARILY DENYING
do so in exceptional circumstances, which are present in this case: (1) to afford
PETITIONER SERAPIOS URGENT OMNIBUS MOTION AND MOTION FOR
adequate protection to the constitutional rights of the accused; (2) for the orderly
RECONSIDERATION (RE: RESOLUTION DATED 31 MAY 2001),
administration of justice or to avoid oppression; (3) when the acts of the officer are
NOTWITHSTANDING THAT THE OMBUDSMAN HAD TOTALLY
without or in excess of authority; and (4) where the charges are manifestly false and
DISREGARDED EXCULPATORY EVIDENCE AND COMMITTED GRAVE
motivated by the lust for vengeance.xiii[36] Petitioner claims that he raised proper
AND MANIFEST ERRORS OF LAW SERIOUSLY PREJUDICIAL TO THE
grounds for a reinvestigation by asserting that in issuing the questioned joint
RIGHTS AND INTERESTS OF PETITIONER SERAPIO, AND THERE IS NO
resolution, the Ombudsman disregarded evidence exculpating petitioner from the
PROBABLE CAUSE TO SUPPORT AN INDICTMENT FOR PLUNDER AS
charge of plunder and committed errors of law or irregularities which have been
AGAINST PETITIONER SERAPIO.xiii[26]
prejudicial to his interest.xiii[37] He also states that during the joint preliminary
investigations for the various charges against Joseph Estrada and his associates, of
Petitioner claims that the Sandiganbayan committed grave abuse of discretion in which the plunder charge was only one of the eight charges against Estrada et al., he
denying his omnibus motion to hold in abeyance the issuance of a warrant for his was not furnished with copies of the other complaints nor given the opportunity to
arrest as well as the proceedings in Criminal Case No. 26558; to conduct a refute the evidence presented in relation to the other seven cases, even though the
determination of probable cause; and to direct the Ombudsman to conduct a evidence presented therein were also used against him, although he was only charged
reinvestigation of the charges him. Petitioner asseverates that the Ombudsman had in the plunder case.xiii[38]
totally disregarded exculpatory evidence and committed grave abuse of discretion in
charging him with plunder. He further argues that there exists no probable cause to
The People maintain that the Sandiganbayan committed no grave abuse of discretion
support an indictment for plunder as against him.xiii[27]
in denying petitioners omnibus motion. They assert that since the Ombudsman
found probable cause to charge petitioner with the crime of plunder, the
Petitioner points out that the joint resolution of the Ombudsman does not even Sandiganbayan is bound to assume jurisdiction over the case and to proceed to try
mention him in relation to the collection and receipt of jueteng money which started the same. They further argue that a finding of probable cause is merely preliminary
in 1998xiii[28] and that the Ombudsman inexplicably arrived at the conclusion that and prefatory of the eventual determination of guilt or innocence of the accused,
the Erap Muslim Youth Foundation was a money laundering front organization put and that petitioner still has the chance to interpose his defenses in a full blown trial
up by Joseph Estrada, assisted by petitioner, even though the latter presented where his guilt or innocence may finally be determined.xiii[39]
evidence that said Foundation is a bona fide and legitimate private
foundation.xiii[29] More importantly, he claims, said joint resolution does not
The People also point out that the Sandiganbayan did not commit grave abuse of
indicate that he knew that the P200 million he received for the Foundation came
discretion in denying petitioners omnibus motion asking for, among others, a
from jueteng.xiii[30]
reinvestigation by the Ombudsman, because his motion for reconsideration of the
Ombudsmans joint resolution did not raise the grounds of either newly discovered its Resolution of April 25, 2001, the Sandiganbayan affirmed the finding of the
evidence, or errors of law or irregularities, which under Republic Act No. 6770 are Ombudsman that probable cause exists against petitioner and his co-accused for the
the only grounds upon which a motion for reconsideration may be filed.xiii[40] crime of plunder, thus:

The People likewise insist that there exists probable cause to charge petitioner with In the light of the foregoing and considering the allegations of the Amended
plunder as a co-conspirator of Joseph Estrada.xiii[41] Information dated 18 April 2001 charging the accused with the offense of
PLUNDER and examining carefully the evidence submitted in support thereof
This Court does not agree with petitioner. consisting of the affidavits and sworn statements and testimonies of prosecution
witnesses and several other pieces of documentary evidence, as well as the respective
counter-affidavits of accused former President Joseph Estrada dated March 20, 2001,
Case law has it that the Court does not interfere with the Ombudsmans discretion in
Jose Jinggoy Pimentel Estrada dated February 20, 2001, Yolanda T. Ricaforte
the conduct of preliminary investigations. Thus, in Raro vs. Sandiganbayanxiii[42],
dated January 21, 2001 and Edward S. Serapio dated February 21, 2001, the Court
the Court ruled:
finds and so holds that probable cause for the offense of PLUNDER exists to justify
issuance of warrants of arrest of accused former President Joseph Ejercito Estrada,
x x x. In the performance of his task to determine probable cause, the Mayor Jose Jinggoy Estrada, Charlie Atong Ang, Edward Serapio, Yolanda T.
Ombudsmans discretion is paramount. Thus, in Camanag vs. Guerrero, this Court Ricaforte, Alma Alfaro, John Doe. a.k.a. Eleuterio Tan or Eleuterio Ramos Tan or
said: Mr. Uy, and Jane Doe a.k.a Delia Rajas.xiii[44]

x x x. (S)uffice it to state that this Court has adopted a policy of non-interference in Likewise, in its Resolution dated May 31, 2001 of petitioners omnibus motion, the
the conduct of preliminary investigations, and leaves to the investigating prosecutor Sandiganbayan noted that a preliminary investigation was fully conducted in
sufficient latitude of discretion in the exercise of determination of what constitutes accordance with Rule II, Administrative Order No. 7 of the Office of the
sufficient evidence as will establish probable cause for filing of information against Ombudsman, pursuant to Sections 18, 23 and 27 of Republic Act No. 6770 (The
the supposed offender. Ombudsman Act of 1989); and that all the basic complaints and evidence in support
thereof were served upon all the accused.xiii[45] It was in light of such findings that
In Cruz, Jr. vs. People,xiii[43] the Court ruled thus: the Sandiganbayan held that there was no basis for the allegation that accused therein
(including petitioner) were deprived of the right to seek a reconsideration of the
Furthermore, the Ombudsmans findings are essentially factual in nature. Ombudsmans Resolution dated April 4, 2001 finding probable cause to charge them
Accordingly, in assailing said findings on the contention that the Ombudsman with plunder after the conduct of preliminary investigation in connection therewith.
committed a grave abuse of discretion in holding that petitioner is liable for estafa In addition, the Sandiganbayan pointed out that petitioner filed a motion for
through falsification of public documents, petitioner is clearly raising questions of reconsideration of the Ombudsmans resolution, but failed to show in his motion that
fact here. His arguments are anchored on the propriety or error in the Ombudsmans there were newly discovered evidence, or that the preliminary investigation was
appreciation of facts. Petitioner cannot be unaware that the Supreme Court is not a tainted by errors of law or irregularities, which are the only grounds for which a
trier of facts, more so in the consideration of the extraordinary writ of certiorari reconsideration of the Ombudsmans resolution may be granted.xiii[46]
where neither question of fact nor even of law are entertained, but only questions of
lack or excess of jurisdiction or grave abuse of discretion. Insofar as the third issue It bears stressing that the right to a preliminary investigation is not a constitutional
is concerned, we find that no grave abuse of discretion has been committed by right, but is merely a right conferred by statute.xiii[47] The absence of a preliminary
respondents which would warrant the granting of the writ of certiorari. investigation does not impair the validity of the Information or otherwise render the
same defective and neither does it affect the jurisdiction of the court over the case or
Petitioner is burdened to allege and establish that the Sandiganbayan and the constitute a ground for quashing the Information.xiii[48] If the lack of a preliminary
Ombudsman for that matter committed grave abuse of discretion in issuing their investigation does not render the Information invalid nor affect the jurisdiction of the
resolution and joint resolution, respectively. Petitioner failed to discharge his court over the case, with more reason can it be said that the denial of a motion for
burden. Indeed, the Court finds no grave abuse of discretion on the part of the reinvestigation cannot invalidate the Information or oust the court of its jurisdiction
Sandiganbayan and the Ombudsman in finding probable cause against petitioner for over the case. Neither can it be said that petitioner had been deprived of due process.
plunder. Neither did the Sandiganbayan abuse its discretion in denying petitioners He was afforded the opportunity to refute the charges against him during the
motion for reinvestigation of the charges against him in the amended Information. In preliminary investigation.
The purpose of a preliminary investigation is merely to determine whether a crime waived their right to adduce evidence in opposition to the petition for bail of
has been committed and whether there is probable cause to believe that the person petitioner and failed to adduce strong evidence of guilt of petitioner for the crime
accused of the crime is probably guilty thereof and should be held for trial.xiii[49] charged; and (5) Whether petitioner was deprived of his right to due process in
As the Court held in Webb vs. De Leon, [a] finding of probable cause needs only to Criminal Case No. 26558 and should thus be released from detention via a writ of
rest on evidence showing that more likely than not a crime has been committed and habeas corpus.
was committed by the suspect. Probable cause need not be based on clear and
convincing evidence of guilt, neither on evidence establishing guilt beyond On the first issue, petitioner contends that the Sandiganbayan committed a grave
reasonable doubt and definitely, not on evidence establishing absolute certainty of abuse of its discretion amounting to excess or lack of jurisdiction when it deferred
guilt.xiii[50] the hearing of his petition for bail to July 10, 2001, arraigned him on said date and
entered a plea of not guilty for him when he refused to be arraigned. He insists that
Absent any showing of arbitrariness on the part of the prosecutor or any other officer the Rules on Criminal Procedure, as amended, does not require that he be arraigned
authorized to conduct preliminary investigation, courts as a rule must defer to said first prior to the conduct of bail hearings since the latter can stand alone and must, of
officers finding and determination of probable cause, since the determination of the necessity, be heard immediately.xiii[55] Petitioner maintains that his arraignment
existence of probable cause is the function of the prosecutor.xiii[51] The Court before the bail hearings are set is not necessary since he would not plead guilty to the
agrees with the Sandiganbayan that petitioner failed to establish that the preliminary offense charged, as is evident in his earlier statements insisting on his innocence
investigation conducted by the Ombudsman was tainted with irregularity or that its during the Senate investigation of the jueteng scandal and the preliminary
findings stated in the joint resolution dated April 4, 2001 are not supported by the investigation before the Ombudsman.xiii[56] Neither would the prosecution be
facts, and that a reinvestigation was necessary. prejudiced even if it would present all its evidence before his arraignment because,
under the Revised Penal Code, a voluntary confession of guilt is mitigating only if
Certiorari will not lie to invalidate the Sandiganbayans resolution denying made prior to the presentation of evidence for the prosecution,xiii[57] and petitioner
petitioners motion for reinvestigation since there is nothing to substantiate admitted that he cannot repudiate the evidence or proceedings taken during the bail
petitioners claim that it gravely abused its discretion in ruling that there was no need hearings because Rule 114, Section 8 of the Revised Rules of Court expressly
to conduct a reinvestigation of the case.xiii[52] provides that evidence present during bail hearings are automatically reproduced
during the trial.xiii[58] Petitioner likewise assures the prosecution that he is willing
to be arraigned prior to the posting of a bail bond should he be granted bail.xiii[59]
The ruling in Rolito Go vs. Court of Appealsxiii[53] that an accused shall not be
deemed to have waived his right to ask for a preliminary investigation after he had
been arraigned over his objection and despite his insistence on the conduct of said The People insist that arraignment is necessary before bail hearings may be
investigation prior to trial on the merits does not apply in the instant case because commenced, because it is only upon arraignment that the issues are joined. The
petitioner merely prayed for a reinvestigation on the ground of a newly-discovered People stress that it is only when an accused pleads not guilty may he file a petition
evidence. Irrefragably, a preliminary investigation had been conducted by the for bail and if he pleads guilty to the charge, there would be no more need for him to
Ombudsman prior to the filing of the amended Information, and that petitioner had file said petition. Moreover, since it is during arraignment that the accused is first
participated therein by filing his counter-affidavit. Furthermore, the Sandiganbayan informed of the precise charge against him, he must be arraigned prior to the bail
had already denied his motion for reinvestigation as well as his motion for hearings to prevent him from later assailing the validity of the bail hearings on the
reconsideration thereon prior to his arraignment.xiii[54] In sum then, the petition is ground that he was not properly informed of the charge against him, especially
dismissed. considering that, under Section 8, Rule 114 of the Revised Rules of Court, evidence
presented during such proceedings are considered automatically reproduced at the
trial.xiii[60] Likewise, the arraignment of accused prior to bail hearings diminishes
Re: G.R. No. 148468
the possibility of an accuseds flight from the jurisdiction of the Sandiganbayan
because trial in absentia may be had only if an accused escapes after he has been
As synthesized by the Court from the petition and the pleadings of the parties, the arraigned.xiii[61] The People also contend that the conduct of bail hearings prior to
issues for resolution are: (1) Whether or not petitioner should first be arraigned arraignment would extend to an accused the undeserved privilege of being appraised
before hearings of his petition for bail may be conducted; (2) Whether petitioner may of the prosecutions evidence before he pleads guilty for purposes of penalty
file a motion to quash the amended Information during the pendency of his petition reduction.xiii[62]
for bail; (3) Whether a joint hearing of the petition for bail of petitioner and those of
the other accused in Criminal Case No. 26558 is mandatory; (4) Whether the People
Although petitioner had already been arraigned on July 10, 2001 and a plea of not reclusion perpetua to death may also be heard even before an accused is arraigned.
guilty had been entered by the Sandiganbayan on his behalf, thereby rendering the Further, if the court finds in such case that the accused is entitled to bail because the
issue as to whether an arraignment is necessary before the conduct of bail hearings in evidence against him is not strong, he may be granted provisional liberty even prior
petitioners case moot, the Court takes this opportunity to discuss the controlling to arraignment; for in such a situation, bail would be authorized under the
precepts thereon pursuant to its symbolic function of educating the bench and circumstances. In fine, the Sandiganbayan committed a grave abuse of its discretion
bar.xiii[63] amounting to excess of jurisdiction in ordering the arraignment of petitioner before
proceeding with the hearing of his petition for bail.
The contention of petitioner is well-taken. The arraignment of an accused is not a
prerequisite to the conduct of hearings on his petition for bail. A person is allowed With respect to the second issue of whether petitioner may file a motion to quash
to petition for bail as soon as he is deprived of his liberty by virtue of his arrest or during the pendency of his petition for bail, petitioner maintains that a motion to
voluntary surrender.xiii[64] An accused need not wait for his arraignment before quash and a petition for bail are not inconsistent, and may proceed independently of
filing a petition for bail. each other. While he agrees with the prosecution that a motion to quash may in
some instances result in the termination of the criminal proceedings and in the
In Lavides vs. Court of Appeals, xiii[65] this Court ruled on the issue of whether an release of the accused therein, thus rendering the petition for bail moot and
accused must first be arraigned before he may be granted bail. Lavides involved an academic, he opines that such is not always the case; hence, an accused in detention
accused charged with violation of Section 5(b) Republic Act No. 7610 (The Special cannot be forced to speculate on the outcome of a motion to quash and decide
Protection of Children Against Abuse, Exploitation and Discrimination Act), an whether or not to file a petition for bail or to withdraw one that has been
offense punishable by reclusion temporal in its medium period to reclusion filed.xiii[69] He also insists that the grant of a motion to quash does not
perpetua. The accused therein assailed, inter alia, the trial courts imposition of the automatically result in the discharge of an accused from detention nor render moot
condition that he should first be arraigned before he is allowed to post bail. We held an application for bail under Rule 117, Section 5 of the Revised Rules of
therein that in cases where it is authorized, bail should be granted before Court.xiii[70]
arraignment, otherwise the accused may be precluded from filing a motion to
quash.xiii[66] The Court finds that no such inconsistency exists between an application of an
accused for bail and his filing of a motion to quash. Bail is the security given for the
However, the foregoing pronouncement should not be taken to mean that the hearing release of a person in the custody of the law, furnished by him or a bondsman, to
on a petition for bail should at all times precede arraignment, because the rule is that guarantee his appearance before any court as required under the conditions set forth
a person deprived of his liberty by virtue of his arrest or voluntary surrender may under the Rules of Court.xiii[71] Its purpose is to obtain the provisional liberty of a
apply for bail as soon as he is deprived of his liberty, even before a complaint or person charged with an offense until his conviction while at the same time securing
information is filed against him.xiii[67] The Courts pronouncement in Lavides his appearance at the trial.xiii[72] As stated earlier, a person may apply for bail from
should be understood in light of the fact that the accused in said case filed a petition the moment that he is deprived of his liberty by virtue of his arrest or voluntary
for bail as well as a motion to quash the informations filed against him. Hence, we surrender.xiii[73]
explained therein that to condition the grant of bail to an accused on his arraignment
would be to place him in a position where he has to choose between (1) filing a On the other hand, a motion to quash an Information is the mode by which an
motion to quash and thus delay his release on bail because until his motion to quash accused assails the validity of a criminal complaint or Information filed against him
can be resolved, his arraignment cannot be held, and (2) foregoing the filing of a for insufficiency on its face in point of law, or for defects which are apparent in the
motion to quash so that he can be arraigned at once and thereafter be released on face of the Information.xiii[74] An accused may file a motion to quash the
bail. This would undermine his constitutional right not to be put on trial except upon Information, as a general rule, before arraignment.xiii[75]
a valid complaint or Information sufficient to charge him with a crime and his right
to bail.xiii[68] These two reliefs have objectives which are not necessarily antithetical to each other.
Certainly, the right of an accused right to seek provisional liberty when charged with
It is therefore not necessary that an accused be first arraigned before the conduct of an offense not punishable by death, reclusion perpetua or life imprisonment, or when
hearings on his application for bail. For when bail is a matter of right, an accused charged with an offense punishable by such penalties but after due hearing, evidence
may apply for and be granted bail even prior to arraignment. The ruling in Lavides of his guilt is found not to be strong, does not preclude his right to assail the validity
also implies that an application for bail in a case involving an offense punishable by of the Information charging him with such offense. It must be conceded, however,
that if a motion to quash a criminal complaint or Information on the ground that the It may be underscored that in the exercise of its discretion, the Sandiganbayan must
same does not charge any offense is granted and the case is dismissed and the take into account not only the convenience of the State, including the prosecution,
accused is ordered released, the petition for bail of an accused may become moot and but also that of the accused and the witnesses of both the prosecution and the accused
academic. and the right of accused to a speedy trial. The Sandiganbayan must also consider the
complexities of the cases and of the factual and legal issues involving petitioner and
We now resolve the issue of whether or not it is mandatory that the hearings on the the other accused. After all, if this Court may echo the observation of the United
petitions for bail of petitioner and accused Jose Jinggoy Estrada in Criminal Case States Supreme Court, the State has a stake, with every citizen, in his being afforded
No. 26558 and the trial of the said case as against former President Joseph E. Estrada our historic individual protections, including those surrounding criminal
be heard jointly. prosecutions. About them, this Court dares not become careless or complacent when
that fashion has become rampant over the earth.xiii[79]
Petitioner argues that the conduct of joint bail hearings would negate his right to
have his petition for bail resolved in a summary proceeding since said hearings might It must be borne in mind that in Ocampo vs. Bernabe,xiii[80] this Court held that in
be converted into a full blown trial on the merits by the prosecution.xiii[76] a petition for bail hearing, the court is to conduct only a summary hearing, meaning
such brief and speedy method of receiving and considering the evidence of guilt as is
practicable and consistent with the purpose of the hearing which is merely to
For their part, the People claim that joint bail hearings will save the court from
determine the weight of evidence for purposes of bail. The court does not try the
having to hear the same witnesses and the parties from presenting the same evidence
merits or enter into any inquiry as to the weight that ought to be given to the
where it would allow separate bail hearings for the accused who are charged as co-
evidence against the accused, nor will it speculate on the outcome of the trial or on
conspirators in the crime of plunder.xiii[77]
what further evidence may be offered therein. It may confine itself to receiving such
evidence as has reference to substantial matters, avoiding unnecessary thoroughness
In issuing its June 1, 2001 Order directing all accused in Criminal Case No. 26558 to in the examination and cross-examination of witnesses, and reducing to a reasonable
participate in the bail hearings, the Sandiganbayan explained that the directive was minimum the amount of corroboration particularly on details that are not essential to
made was in the interest of the speedy disposition of the case. It stated: the purpose of the hearing.

x x x The obvious fact is, if the rest of the accused other than the accused Serapio A joint hearing of two separate petitions for bail by two accused will of course avoid
were to be excused from participating in the hearing on the motion for bail of duplication of time and effort of both the prosecution and the courts and minimizes
accused Serapio, under the pretext that the same does not concern them and that they the prejudice to the accused, especially so if both movants for bail are charged of
will participate in any hearing where evidence is presented by the prosecution only if having conspired in the commission of the same crime and the prosecution adduces
and when they will already have filed their petitions for bail, or should they decide essentially the same evident against them. However, in the cases at bar, the joinder
not to file any, that they will participate only during the trial proper itself, then of the hearings of the petition for bail of petitioner with the trial of the case against
everybody will be faced with the daunting prospects of having to go through the former President Joseph E. Estrada is an entirely different matter. For, with the
process of introducing the same witness and pieces of evidence two times, three participation of the former president in the hearing of petitioners petition for bail,
times or four times, as many times as there are petitions for bail filed. Obviously, the proceeding assumes a completely different dimension. The proceedings will no
such procedure is not conducive to the speedy termination of a case. Neither can longer be summary. As against former President Joseph E. Estrada, the proceedings
such procedure be characterized as an orderly proceeding.xiii[78] will be a full-blown trial which is antithetical to the nature of a bail hearing.
Moreover, following our ruling in Jose Estrada vs. Sandiganbayan, supra where we
There is no provision in the Revised Rules of Criminal Procedure or the Rules of stated that Jose Jinggoy Estrada can only be charged with conspiracy to commit
Procedure of the Sandiganbayan governing the hearings of two or more petitions for the acts alleged in sub-paragraph (a) of the amended Information since it is not clear
bail filed by different accused or that a petition for bail of an accused be heard from the latter if the accused in sub-paragraphs (a) to (d) thereof conspired with each
simultaneously with the trial of the case against the other accused. The matter of other to assist Joseph Estrada to amass ill-gotten wealth, we hold that petitioner can
whether or not to conduct a joint hearing of two or more petitions for bail filed by only be charged with having conspired with the other co-accused named in sub-
two different accused or to conduct a hearing of said petition jointly with the trial paragraph (a) by receiving or collecting, directly or indirectly, on several instances,
against another accused is addressed to the sound discretion of the trial court. Unless money x x x from illegal gambling, x x x in consideration of toleration or protection
grave abuse of discretion amounting to excess or lack of jurisdiction is shown, the of illegal gambling.xiii[81] Thus, with respect to petitioner, all that the prosecution
Court will not interfere with the exercise by the Sandiganbayan of its discretion. needs to adduce to prove that the evidence against him for the charge of plunder is
strong are those related to the alleged receipt or collection of money from illegal arraignment around the original schedule for the bail hearings which was on May 21-
gambling as described in sub-paragraph (a) of the amended Information. With the 25, 2001.xiii[86]
joinder of the hearing of petitioners petition for bail and the trial of the former
President, the latter will have the right to cross-examine intensively and extensively They argue further that bail is not a matter of right in capital offenses.xiii[87] In
the witnesses for the prosecution in opposition to the petition for bail of petitioner. If support thereof, they cite Article III, Sec 13 of the Constitution, which states that
petitioner will adduce evidence in support of his petition after the prosecution shall
have concluded its evidence, the former President may insist on cross-examining All persons, except those charged with offenses punishable by reclusion perpetua
petitioner and his witnesses. The joinder of the hearing of petitioners bail petition when evidence of guilt is strong, shall before conviction be bailable by sufficient
with the trial of former President Joseph E. Estrada will be prejudicial to petitioner as sureties, or be released on recognizance as may be provided by law. The right to bail
it will unduly delay the determination of the issue of the right of petitioner to obtain shall not be impaired even when the privilege of the writ of habeas corpus is
provisional liberty and seek relief from this Court if his petition is denied by the suspended. Excessive bail shall not be required.xiii[88]
respondent court. The indispensability of the speedy resolution of an application for
bail was succinctly explained by Cooley in his treatise Constitutional Limitations,
thus: The People also cited Rule 114, Secs. 7 and 4 of the Revised Rules of Court which
provide:
For, if there were any mode short of confinement which would with reasonable
certainty insure the attendance of the accused to answer the accusation, it would not Sec. 7. Capital offense or an offense punishable by reclusion perpetua or life
be justifiable to inflict upon him that indignity, when the effect is to subject him in a imprisonment, not bailable.No person charged with a capital offense, or an offense
greater or lesser degree, to the punishment of a guilty person, while as yet it is not punishable by reclusion perpetua or life imprisonement, shall be admitted to bail
determined that he has not committed any crime.xiii[82] when evidence of guilt is strong, regardless of the stage of the criminal prosecution.

While the Sandiganbayan, as the court trying Criminal Case No. 26558, is Sec. 4. Bail, a matter of right, exception.All persons in custody shall be admitted
empowered to proceed with the trial of the case in the manner it determines best to bail as a matter of right, with sufficient sureties, or released on recognizance as
conducive to orderly proceedings and speedy termination of the case,xiii[83] the prescribed by law or this Rule x x x (b) and before conviction by the Regional Trial
Court finds that it gravely abused its discretion in ordering that the petition for bail of Court of an offense not punishable by death, reclusion perpetua or life
petitioner and the trial of former President Joseph E. Estrada be held jointly. It bears imprisonment.xiii[89]
stressing that the Sandiganbayan itself acknowledged in its May 4, 2001 Order the
pre-eminent position and superiority of the rights of [petitioner] to have the matter Irrefragably, a person charged with a capital offense is not absolutely denied the
of his provisional liberty resolved without unnecessary delay,xiii[84] only to opportunity to obtain provisional liberty on bail pending the judgment of his case.
make a volte face and declare that after all the hearing of petition for bail of However, as to such person, bail is not a matter of right but is discretionary upon the
petitioner and Jose Jinggoy Estrada and the trial as against former President Joseph court.xiii[90] Had the rule been otherwise, the Rules would not have provided for an
E. Estrada should be held simultaneously. In ordering that petitioners petition for application for bail by a person charged with a capital offense under Rule 114,
bail to be heard jointly with the trial of the case against his co-accused former Section 8 which states:
President Joseph E. Estrada, the Sandiganbayan in effect allowed further and
unnecessary delay in the resolution thereof to the prejudice of petitioner. In fine Sec. 8. Burden of proof in bail application. At the hearing of an application for
then, the Sandiganbayan committed a grave abuse of its discretion in ordering a bail filed by a person who is in custody for the commission of an offense punishable
simultaneous hearing of petitioners petition for bail with the trial of the case against by death, reclusion perpetua, or life imprisonment, the prosecution has the burden of
former President Joseph E. Estrada on its merits. showing that the evidence of guilt is strong. The evidence presented during the bail
hearing shall be considered automatically reproduced at the trial but, upon motion of
With respect to petitioners allegations that the prosecution tried to delay the bail either party, the court may recall any witness for additional examination unless the
hearings by filing dilatory motions, the People aver that it is petitioner and his co- latter is dead, outside the Philippines, or otherwise unable to testify.xiii[91]
accused who caused the delay in the trial of Criminal Case No. 26558 by their filing
of numerous manifestations and pleadings with the Sandiganbayan.xiii[85] They Under the foregoing provision, there must be a showing that the evidence of guilt
assert that they filed the motion for joint bail hearing and motion for earlier against a person charged with a capital offense is not strong for the court to grant
him bail. Thus, upon an application for bail by the person charged with a capital
offense, a hearing thereon must be conducted, where the prosecution must be Urgent Motion for Reconsideration, dated May 22, 2001, praying
accorded an opportunity to discharge its burden of proving that the evidence of guilt for Resolution of May 18, 2001 be set aside and bail hearings be set at
against an accused is strong.xiii[92] The prosecution shall be accorded the the earliest possible time;
opportunity to present all the evidence it may deems necessary for this
purpose.xiii[93] When it is satisfactorily demonstrated that the evidence of guilt is Urgent Motion for Immediate Release on Bail or Recognizance,
strong, it is the courts duty to deny the application for bail. However, when the dated May 27, 2001;
evidence of guilt is not strong, bail becomes a matter of right.xiii[94]
Motion for Reconsideration of denial of Urgent Omnibus Motion,
In this case, petitioner is not entitled to bail as a matter of right at this stage of the dated June 13, 2001, praying that he be allowed to file a Motion for
proceedings. Petitioners claim that the prosecution had refused to present evidence Reinvestigation; and
to prove his guilt for purposes of his bail application and that the Sandiganbayan has
refused to grant a hearing thereon is not borne by the records. The prosecution did Motion to Quash, dated June 26, 2001.xiii[95]
not waive, expressly or even impliedly, its right to adduce evidence in opposition to
the petition for bail of petitioner. It must be noted that the Sandiganbayan had
already scheduled the hearing dates for petitioners application for bail but the same Motions filed by the prosecution:
were reset due to pending incidents raised in several motions filed by the parties,
which incidents had to be resolved by the court prior to the bail hearings. The bail Motion for Earlier Arraignment, dated May 8, 2001;xiii[96]
hearing was eventually scheduled by the Sandiganbayan on July 10, 2001 but the
hearing did not push through due to the filing of this petition on June 29, 2001. Motion for Joint Bail Hearings of Accused Joseph Estrada, Jose
Jinggoy Estrada and Edward Serapio, dated May 8, 2001;xiii[97]
The delay in the conduct of hearings on petitioners application for bail is therefore
not imputable solely to the Sandiganbayan or to the prosecution. Petitioner is also Opposition to the Urgent Motion for Reconsideration and Omnibus
partly to blame therefor, as is evident from the following list of motions filed by him Motion to Adjust Earlier Arraignment, dated May 25, 2001;xiii[98]
and by the prosecution: and

Motions filed by petitioner: Omnibus Motion for Examination, Testimony and Transcription in
Filipino, dated June 19, 2001.xiii[99]
Urgent Omnibus Motion, dated April 6, 2001, for (1) leave to file
motion for reconsideration/reinvestigation and to direct ombudsman to The other accused in Criminal Case No. 26558 also contributed to the aforesaid
conduct reinvestigation; (2) conduct a determination of probable cause delay by their filing of the following motions:
as would suggest the issuance of house arrest; (3) hold in abeyance the
issuance of warrant of arrest and other proceedings pending Motion to Quash or Suspend, dated April 24, 2001, filed by Jinggoy
determination of probable cause; Estrada, assailing the constitutionality of R.A. No. 7080 and praying
that the Amended Information be quashed;
Motion for Early Resolution, dated May 24, 2001;
Very Urgent Omnibus Motion, dated April 30, 2001, filed by
Urgent Motion to Hold in Abeyance Implementation or Service of Jinggoy Estrada, praying that he be (1) excluded from the Amended
Warrant of Arrest for Immediate Grant of bail or For Release on Information for lack of probable cause; (2) released from custody; or in
Recognizance, dated April 25, 2001; the alternative, (3) be allowed to post bail;

Urgent Motion to allow Accused Serapio to Vote at Obando, Urgent Ex-Parte Motion to Place on House Arrest, dated April 25,
Bulacan, dated May 11, 2001; 2001, filed by Joseph and Jinggoy Estrada, praying that they be placed
on house arrest during the pendency of the case;
Position Paper [re: House Arrest], dated May 2, 2001, filed by Urgent Motion to Allow Accused to Clear His Desk as Mayor of
Joseph and Jinggoy Estrada; San Juan, Metro Manila, dated June 28, 2001, filed by Jinggoy
Estrada;
Supplemental Position Paper [re: House Arrest], dated May 2, 2001,
filed by Joseph and Jinggoy Estrada; Motion for Reconsideration, dated June 9, 2001, filed by Joseph and
Jinggoy Estrada, praying that the resolution compelling them to be
Omnibus Motion, dated May 7, 2001, filed by Joseph Estrada, present at petitioner Serapios hearing for bail be reconsidered;
praying by reinvestigation of the case by the Ombudsman or the
outright dismissal of the case; Motion to Quash, dated June 7, 2001, filed by Joseph Estrada;

Urgent Ex-Parte Motion for Extension, dated May 2, 2001, filed by Still Another Manifestation, dated June 14, 2001, filed by Joseph
Jinggoy Estrada, requesting for five (5) within which to respond to the and Jinggoy Estrada stating that Bishop Teodoro Bacani favors their
Opposition to Motion to Quash in view of the holidays and election- house arrest;
related distractions;
Manifestation, dated June 15, 2001, filed by Joseph and Jinggoy
Opposition to Urgent Motion for Earlier Arraignment, dated May Estrada, waiving their right to be present at the June 18 and 21, 2001
10, 2001, filed by Joseph Estrada; bail hearings and reserving their right to trial with assessors;

Omnibus Manifestation on voting and custodial arrangement, dated Omnibus Motion for Instructions: 30-Day House Arrest;
May 11, 2001, filed by Joseph and Jinggoy Estrada, praying that they Production, Inspection and Copying of Documents; and Possible Trial
be placed on house arrest; with Assessors, dated June 19, 2001, filed by Joseph and Jinggoy
Estrada;
Manifestation regarding house arrest, dated May 6, 2001, filed by
Joseph and Jinggoy Estrada; Urgent Motion for Additional Time to Wind Up Affairs, dated June
20, 2001, filed by Jinggoy Estrada;
Summation regarding house arrest, dated May 23, 2001, filed by
Joseph and Jinggoy Estrada; Manifestation, dated June 22, 2001, filed by Jinggoy Estrada,
asking for free dates for parties, claiming that denial of bail is cruel
Urgent Manifestation & Motion, dated May 6, 2001 filed by and inhuman, reiterating request for gag order of prosecution
Jinggoy Estrada; witnesses, availing of production, inspection and copying of
documents, requesting for status of alias case; and
Manifestation, dated May 28, 2001, filed by Joseph and Jinggoy
Estrada, praying that they be allowed to be confined in Tanay; Compliance, dated June 25, 2001, filed by Jinggoy Estrada,
requesting for permission to attend some municipal affairs in San Juan,
Metro Manila.xiii[100]
Motion to charge as Accused Luis Chavit Singson, filed by
Joseph Estrada;
Furthermore, the Court has previously ruled that even in cases where the prosecution
refuses to adduce evidence in opposition to an application for bail by an accused
Omnibus Motion, dated June 11, 2001, filed by Joseph and Jinggoy
charged with a capital offense, the trial court is still under duty to conduct a hearing
Estrada, seeking reconsideration of denial of requests for house arrest,
on said application.xiii[101] The rationale for such requirement was explained in
for detention in Tanay or Camp Crame; motion for inhibition of Justice
Narciso vs. Sta. Romana-Cruz (supra), citing Basco vs. Rapatalo:xiii[102]
Badoy;
When the grant of bail is discretionary, the prosecution has the burden of showing However, the People insist that habeas corpus is not proper because petitioner was
that the evidence of guilt against the accused is strong. However, the determination arrested pursuant to the amended information which was earlier filed in
of whether or not the evidence of guilt is strong, being a matter of judicial discretion, court,xiii[109] the warrant of arrest issuant pursuant thereto was valid, and petitioner
remains with the judge. This discretion by the very nature of things, may rightly be voluntarily surrendered to the authorities.xiii[110]
exercised only after the evidence is submitted to the court at the hearing. Since the
discretion is directed to the weight of the evidence and since evidence cannot As a general rule, the writ of habeas corpus will not issue where the person alleged
properly be weighed if not duly exhibited or produced before the court, it is obvious to be restrained of his liberty in custody of an officer under a process issued by the
that a proper exercise of judicial discretion requires that the evidence of guilt be court which jurisdiction to do so.xiii[111] In exceptional circumstances, habeas
submitted to the court, the petitioner having the right of cross-examination and to corpus may be granted by the courts even when the person concerned is detained
introduce his own evidence in rebuttal.xiii[103] pursuant to a valid arrest or his voluntary surrender, for this writ of liberty is
recognized as the fundamental instrument for safeguarding individual freedom
Accordingly, petitioner cannot be released from detention until the Sandiganbayan against arbitrary and lawless state action due to its ability to cut through barriers of
conducts a hearing of his application for bail and resolve the same in his favor. Even form and procedural mazes.xiii[112] Thus, in previous cases, we issued the writ
then, there must first be a finding that the evidence against petitioner is not strong where the deprivation of liberty, while initially valid under the law, had later become
before he may be granted bail. invalid,xiii[113] and even though the persons praying for its issuance were not
completely deprived of their liberty.xiii[114]
Anent the issue of the propriety of the issuance of a writ of habeas corpus for
petitioner, he contends that he is entitled to the issuance of said writ because the The Court finds no basis for the issuance of a writ of habeas corpus in favor of
State, through the prosecutions refusal to present evidence and by the petitioner. The general rule that habeas corpus does not lie where the person alleged
Sandiganbayans refusal to grant a bail hearing, has failed to discharge its burden of to be restrained of his liberty is in the custody of an officer under process issued by a
proving that as against him, evidence of guilt for the capital offense of plunder is court which had jurisdiction to issue the samexiii[115] applies, because petitioner is
strong. Petitioner contends that the prosecution launched a seemingly endless under detention pursuant to the order of arrest issued by the Sandiganbayan on April
barrage of obstructive and dilatory moves to prevent the conduct of bail hearings. 25, 2001 after the filing by the Ombudsman of the amended information for plunder
Specifically, the prosecution moved for petitioners arraignment before the against petitioner and his co-accused. Petitioner had in fact voluntarily surrendered
commencement of bail hearings and insisted on joint bail hearings for petitioner, himself to the authorities on April 25, 2001 upon learning that a warrant for his arrest
Joseph Estrada and Jinggoy Estrada despite the fact that it was only petitioner who had been issued.
asked for a bail hearing; manifested that it would present its evidence as if it is the
presentation of the evidence in chief, meaning that the bail hearings would be The ruling in Moncupa vs. Enrilexiii[116] that habeas corpus will lie where the
concluded only after the prosecution presented its entire case upon the accused; and deprivation of liberty which was initially valid has become arbitrary in view of
argued that petitioners motion to quash and his petition for bail are inconsistent, and subsequent developments finds no application in the present case because the hearing
therefore, petitioner should choose to pursue only one of these two on petitioners application for bail has yet to commence. As stated earlier, the delay
remedies.xiii[104] He further claims that the Sandiganbayan, through its questioned in the hearing of petitioners petition for bail cannot be pinned solely on the
orders and resolutions postponing the bail hearings effectively denied him of his Sandiganbayan or on the prosecution for that matter. Petitioner himself is partly to
right to bail and to due process of law.xiii[105] be blamed. Moreover, a petition for habeas corpus is not the appropriate remedy for
asserting ones right to bail.xiii[117] It cannot be availed of where accused is
Petitioner also maintains that the issuance by the Sandiganbayan of new orders entitled to bail not as a matter of right but on the discretion of the court and the latter
canceling the bail hearings which it had earlier set did not render moot and academic has not abused such discretion in refusing to grant bail,xiii[118] or has not even
the petition for issuance of a writ of habeas corpus, since said orders have resulted in exercised said discretion. The proper recourse is to file an application for bail with
a continuing deprivation of petitioners right to bail.xiii[106] He argues further that the court where the criminal case is pending and to allow hearings thereon to
the fact that he was arrested and is detained pursuant to valid process does not by proceed.
itself negate the efficacy of the remedy of habeas corpus. In support of his
contention, petitioner cites Moncupa vs. Enrile,xiii[107] where the Court held that The issuance of a writ of habeas corpus would not only be unjustified but would also
habeas corpus extends to instances where the detention, while valid from its preempt the Sandiganbayans resolution of the pending application for bail of
inception, has later become arbitrary.xiii[108]
petitioner. The recourse of petitioner is to forthwith proceed with the hearing on his
application for bail.
G.R. No. 106087. April 7, 1993.
IN THE LIGHT OF ALL THE FOREGOING, judgment is hereby rendered as
follows: ROLITO GO Y TAMBUNTING, petitioner,
vs.
1. In G.R. No. 148769 and G.R. No. 149116, the petitions are DISMISSED. THE COURT OF APPEALS, THE HON. BENJAMIN V. PELAYO, PRESIDING
The resolutions of respondent Sandiganbayan subject of said petitions are JUDGE, BRANCH 168, REGIONAL TRIAL COURT, NCJR, PASIG, METRO
AFFIRMED; and MANILA and THE PEOPLE OF THE PHILIPPINES, respondents.

2. In G.R. No. 148468, the petition is PARTIALLY GRANTED. The Law Firm of Raymundo A. Armovit for petitioner.
resolution of respondent Sandiganbayan, Annex L of the petition, ordering a joint
hearing of petitioners petition for bail and the trial of Criminal Case No. 26558 as The Solicitor General for public respondents.
against former President Joseph E. Estrada is SET ASIDE; the arraignment of
petitioner on July 10, 2001 is also SET ASIDE. SYLLABUS

No costs. 1. REMEDIAL LAW; CRIMINAL PROCEDURE; BAIL; NATURE OF BAIL


PROCEEDINGS. Respondent judge is correct in appreciating the nature of the
SO ORDERED. bail proceedings. "[T]he hearing of an application for bail should be summary or
otherwise in the discretion of the court. By 'summary hearing' [is] meant such brief
and speedy method of receiving and considering the evidence of guilt as is
practicable and consistent with the purpose of the hearing which is merely to
determine the weight of the evidence for the purpose of bail. In such a hearing, the
court 'does not sit to try the merits or to enter into any nice inquiry as to the weight
that ought to be allowed to the evidence for or against accused, nor will it speculate
on the outcome of the trial or on what further evidence may be therein offered is
admitted.' . . . The course of the inquiry may be left to the discretion of the court
which may confine itself to receiving such evidence as has reference to substantial
matters avoiding unnecessary thoroughness in the examination and cross-
examination of witnesses and reducing to a reasonable minimum the amount of
corroboration particularly on details that are not essential to the purpose of the
hearing."

2. ID.; ID.; ID.; PROCEDURE IN GRANT OF BAIL IS SIMILAR TO


PROCEDURE IN CANCELLATION OF BAIL. Although the proceedings
conducted by respondent judge were not for an application for bail but to cancel that
which was issued to petitioner, the principles and procedure governing hearings on
an application for bail were correctly applied by respondent judge in the cancellation
Republic of the Philippines of bail proceedings since the bail was issued by this Court in G.R. No. 101837
SUPREME COURT without prejudice to any lawful order which the trial court may issue in case the
Manila Provincial Prosecutor moves for the cancellation of the bail. The grant of bail was
made without prejudice because where bail is not a matter of right, as in this case,
the prosecution must be given the opportunity to prove that there is a strong evidence
THIRD DIVISION
of guilt. In the cancellation of bail proceedings before him, the judge was confronted
with the same issue as in an application for bail, i.e., whether the evidence of guilt is judge's sacred obligation under his oath of office to administer justice without
so strong as to convince the court that the accused is not entitled to bail. Hence, the respect to person and do equal right to the poor and the rich.
similarity of the nature and procedure of the hearings for an application for bail and
the cancellation of the same. 7. ID.; ID.; IN CASE AT BAR, THE ACT OF RESPONDENT JUDGE OF NOT
SUSPENDING HEARING OF CASE AFTER DENIAL OF PETITIONER'S
3. LEGAL AND JUDICIAL ETHICS; DISQUALIFICATION OF JUDGES; MOTION FOR RECUSATION AND DURING PENDENCY OF PETITION
ESSENCE OF RULE ON DISQUALIFICATION OF JUDGES. The Constitution CHALLENGING HIS ORDERS DENYING THE MOTION FOR RECUSATION
commands that in all criminal prosecutions, the accused shall enjoy the right to have AND THE MOTION TO SUSPEND PROCEEDINGS AND TRANSFER VENUE
"a speedy, impartial, and public trial." This right is a derivation and elaboration of OUTSIDE METRO MANILA NOT PROOF OF PARTIALITY. In the case at
the more fundamental right to due process of law. The rule on the disqualification of hand, respondent judge acted in accordance with the Rules and prevailing
judges is a mechanism for enforcing the requirements of due process. jurisprudence when he proceeded with the trial after denying petitioner's Motion for
Recusation. Petitioner cannot, therefore, cite the fact that respondent judge did not
4. ID.; ID.; REASON FOR REQUIREMENT OF IMPARTIALITY ON PART OF suspend hearing the case during the pendency of this petition as proof of his claim
JUDGE. "It is now beyond dispute that due process cannot be satisfied in the that the judge is partial.
absence of that degree of objectivity on the part of a judge sufficient to reassure
litigants of his being fair and being just. Thereby there is the legitimate expectation 8. ID.; ID.; IN CASE AT BAR, THE ACT OF RESPONDENT JUDGE OF
that the decision arrived at would be the application of the law to the facts as found OVERRULING PETITIONER'S OBJECTION TO THE ADMISSIBILITY OF THE
by a judge who does not play favorites." The "cold neutrality of an impartial judge," EXTRAJUDICIAL STATEMENT OF A PROSECUTION WITNESS WHO DID
although required primarily for the benefit of the litigants, is also designed to NOT TESTIFY THEREON, NOT PROOF OF BIAS; REASON. The first of
preserve the integrity of the judiciary and more fundamentally, to gain and maintain these allegedly "palpably biased and hostile orders" was that issued by respondent
the people's faith in the institutions they have erected when they adopted our judge on August 14, 1992 overruling petitioner's objection to the admissibility of an
Constitution. The notion that "justice must satisfy the appearance of justice" is an affidavit of Geronimo Gonzaga offered by the prosecution. Petitioner contends that
imposition by the citizenry, as the final judge of the conduct of public business, respondent judge should not have admitted the extrajudicial statements of Gonzaga
including trials, upon the courts of a high and uncompromising standard in the because the latter did not take the witness stand to affirm the statements contained in
proper dispensation of justice. the document presented by the prosecution. Petitioner suspected that respondent
judge was trying to bolster the evidence for the prosecution. This contention is
5. ID.; ID.; EFFECT OF MOTION FOR INHIBITION, DENIAL OF MOTION FOR without merit. The mere fact that the trial judge overruled petitioner's objection to
INHIBITION, AND PETITION CHALLENGING DENIAL OF MOTION FOR the admissibility of a particular piece of evidence is not proof of bias. In Jandionco v.
INHIBITION. Hence, if the trial judge decides to deny a motion for inhibition Pearanda, it was held that "[d]ivergence of opinions between a judge hearing a case
based on Rule 137, Sec. 1, par. 2, he shall proceed with the trial, unless of course and a party's counsel, as to applicable laws and jurisprudence, is not a sufficient
restrained by either the Court of Appeals or by this Court. The mere filing of a ground to disqualify the judge from hearing the case on the ground of bias and
motion for inhibition before the trial court or a petition before either the Court of manifest partiality." If petitioner disagrees with the judge's ruling, he may still
Appeals or the Supreme Court challenging an order of the trial judge denying a question the admissibility of the evidence when he files an appeal, in case a
motion for inhibition will not deprive the judge of authority to proceed with the case. judgment of conviction is rendered. To conclude, however, that respondent judge, by
Otherwise, by the expedient of filing such motion or petition, although the same be overruling the objection raised by petitioner's counsel, was trying to strengthen the
lacking in merit, a party can unduly delay the trial. prosecution's evidence is not only baseless because there was no evidence given to
support this conclusion, but also premature because at that stage, the judge was not
yet appreciating the merits and weight of the particular piece of evidence in question
6. ID.; ID.; EVIDENCE REQUIRED IN DISQUALIFICATION OF JUDGE; BIAS
but was merely ruling on its admissibility. Petitioner's conclusion that "the offer and
AND PREJUDICE NOT PRESUMED. While bias and prejudice, which are
admission of Gonzaga's hearsay 'eyewitness' statement suggest a sinister concert to
relied upon by petitioner, have been recognized as valid reasons for the voluntary
simulate evidential strength" is, if not suggestive of paranoia, at the very least, an
inhibition of the judge under Rule 137, Sec. 1, par. 2, the established rule is that mere
overreaction.
suspicion that a judge is partial is not enough. There should be clear and convincing
evidence to prove the charge. Bare allegations of partiality and prejudgment will not
suffice. Bias and prejudice cannot be presumed especially if weighed against a 9. ID.; ID.; IN CASE AT BAR, THE ACT OF RESPONDENT JUDGE OF
CONSIDERING THE CANCELLATION OF BAIL PROCEEDINGS RIPE FOR
RESOLUTION AND REFUSING TO ALLOW PETITIONER'S COUNSEL TO 11. ID.; ID.; IN CASE AT BAR, MOTION FOR RECUSATION IS ANOTHER
PRESENT ANYMORE WITNESSES, NOT MOTIVATED BY BIAS; REASON. DILATORY MOVE. In the case at hand, the Motion for Recusation filed by
The other supervening event allegedly demonstrating the judge's partiality petitioner must be viewed in the light of his lawyers' many attempts to suspend the
occurred during one of the hearings concerning the prosecution's motion for the proceedings before the respondent judge. Before the trial court, petitioner tried at
cancellation of petitioner's bail. On September 28, 1992, after eleven (11) witnesses least eight (8) times, not merely to reset the scheduled hearings, but to suspend the
had been presented for the prosecution and two (2) for the defense, respondent judge trial of the case itself. The following pleadings filed by petitioner before respondent
considered the cancellation of bail proceedings ripe for resolution and refused to judge all prayed either to suspend the proceedings entirely or for the respondent
allow petitioner's counsel to present anymore witnesses. The reasons given by judge to delay the disposition of a particular issue . . . Before this Court, petitioner
respondent judge for his ruling were: (1) the proceeding in the cancellation of bail is has already filed three (3) petitions assailing various orders of respondent judge in
summary and different from the hearing on the merits; (2) the court need not receive connection with the single murder case pending against him. Apart from the present
exactly the same number of witnesses from both the prosecution and the defense; and petition which is docketed as G.R. No. 106087, petitioner has previously filed two
(3) the counsel for petitioner previously limited himself to two (2) witnesses as borne (2) other petitions docketed as G.R. Nos. 101837 and 105424. In all three (3)
out by the record of the case . . . Having determined that respondent judge made a petitions, petitioner applied for a temporary restraining order to have the proceedings
proper appreciation of the nature of the bail proceedings before him, we likewise before the trial court held in abeyance. The murder case involving only one accused,
hold that it was within his discretion to limit the number of witnesses for petitioner. the petitioner, has become unnecessarily complicated and the proceedings before the
The power of the court in the bail proceedings to make a determination as to whether trial court protracted, as can be gleaned from the fact that between the filing of the
or not the evidence of guilt is strong "implies a full exercise of judicial discretion." If information on July 11, 1991 and the end of last year or December 31, 1992, the
the trial judge believes that the evidence before him is sufficient for him to rule on records of the case now consist of four (4) volumes and the transcript of stenographic
the bail issue, after giving both parties their opportunity to present evidence, it is notes have reached a total of one thousand five hundred and twenty three (1523)
within his authority to consider the bail proceedings ripe for resolution. In any case, pages. Hearings are still being conducted. When taken in the light of petitioner's
respondent judge acceded to petitioner's request and allowed him to present more repeated attempts to have the proceedings in the murder case suspended and his
witnesses in the bail proceedings. In fine, the Court holds that the respondent judge's lawyers' transparent maneuvers for the needless protraction of the case, the Motion
ruling on September 28, 1992 considering the prosecution's motion for cancellation for Recusation can only be viewed as another dilatory move and the present Motion
of bail ripe for resolution on the basis of the evidence already presented was not for Reconsideration a further ploy to stall hearings.
motivated by bias or prejudice.
12. ID.; CONDUCT REQUIRED OF A LAWYER BEFORE COURTS AND
10. ID.; ID.; IN CASE AT BAR, RESPONDENT JUDGE'S ORDER ALLOWING JUDICIAL OFFICERS. The Rules of Court commands members of the bar "[t]o
PETITIONER'S ARRAIGNMENT AND TRIAL WITHOUT BENEFIT OF observe and maintain the respect due to the courts of justice and judicial officers."
PRELIMINARY INVESTIGATION, NOT NECESSARILY PROOF OF Reinforcing this rule of conduct is the Code of Professional Responsibility which
PARTIALITY. Petitioner, in this Motion for Reconsideration, restates his states in Canon 11 the following: "A lawyer shall observe and maintain the respect
argument in the Petition that the respondent judge is biased, as evidenced by his due to the courts and to judicial officers and should insist on similar conduct by
Order dated July 17, 1991 which in effect allowed petitioner's arraignment and trial others." Rule 11.03 of the Code further states: "A lawyer shall abstain from
without the benefit of a preliminary investigation. It is true that in Go v. Court of scandalous, offensive or menacing language or behaviour before the courts." The
Appeals, et al., G.R. No. 101837, February 11, 1992, a divided Court nullified next succeeding rule, Rule 11.03 adds: "A lawyer shall not attribute to a judge
respondent judge's July 17, 1991 Order and ordered that a preliminary investigation motives not supported by the record or having materiality to the case."
be conducted. But the erroneous Order of respondent judge is not necessarily proof
of partiality. In People v. Lacson, we held that erroneous rulings do not always 13. ID.; ID.; REASON FOR THE REQUIREMENT. To be sure, the adversarial
constitute evidence of bias. In Luciano v. Mariano, we made the pronouncement that nature of our legal system has tempted members of the bar, in pursuing their duty to
"[t]he mere fact that the judge has erroneously ruled against the same litigant on two advance the interests of their clients, to use strong language. But this privilege is not
or more occasions does not create in our minds a decisive pattern of malice on the a license to malign our courts of justice. Irreverent behavior towards the courts by
part of the judge against that particular litigant. This is not an unusual occurrence on members of the bar is proscribed, not so much for the sake of the temporary
our courts . . ." Moreover, the fact that the erroneous order issued by a judge can be incumbent of the judicial office, but more importantly, for the maintenance of
remedied and was actually corrected, as in this case, militates against the respect for our judicial system, so necessary for the country's stability. "Time and
disqualification of the judge on the ground of bias or partiality. again, this Court has admonished and punished, in varying degrees, members of the
bar for statements, disrespectful or irreverent, acrimonious or defamatory, of this
Court or the lower courts . . . To be sure, lawyers may come up with various Maguan. The police filed a complaint for frustrated homicide with the Office of the
methods, perhaps more effective, in calling the Court's attention to the issues Provincial Prosecutor of Rizal.
involved. The language vehicle does not run short of expressions, emphatic but
respectful, convincing but not derogatory, illuminating but not offensive." On July 11, 1991, an information for murder was filed against petitioner before the
Regional Trial Court, Pasig, Metro Manila, the victim Eldon Maguan having died on
14. ID.; ID.; AN INSTANCE OF HIGHLY DEROGATORY, OFFENSIVE AND July 9, 1991.
CONTEMPTUOUS LANGUAGE TOWARD A JUDGE. Indeed, in the Motion
for Reconsideration, counsels for petitioner describe as "unparalleled for sheer On the same day, July 11, 1991, counsel for petitioner filed with the Prosecutor an
malevolence" respondent judge's allegedly erroneous assumptions. Petitioner's omnibus motion praying for petitioner's immediate release and for a preliminary
lawyers further stated: "Petitioner's counsel, citing the above proceedings, contested investigation. Provincial Prosecutor Mauro Castro interposed no objection to
the trial judge's baseless, nay despotic attempt to muzzle his right to be heard in his petitioner's being granted provisional liberty on a cash bond of P100,000.00.
defense. . ." The trial judge's actions were also branded as an "obviously unholy rush
to do petitioner in . . ." In the Urgent Motion filed by petitioner on December 16,
The case was raffled to the sala of respondent judge, the Hon. Benjamin V. Pelayo,
1992, respondent judge is alleged to have: (a) "generated belief of his being under who, on July 12, 1991, approved the cash bond posted by petitioner and ordered his
contract to do the prosecution's bidding;" (2) "evinced contempt for Supreme Court release.
case law;" and (3) "dishonored his judicial oath and duty to hear before he
condemns, proceed upon inquiry, and render judgment on a man's liberty only after a
full trial of the facts." . . . In light of the above doctrines and jurisprudence, as well as On July 16, 1991, respondent judge issued an Order granting leave for the Provincial
the inherent power and authority of this Court to cite members of the Bar in Prosecutor of Rizal to conduct a preliminary investigation.
contempt and to discipline them, we are of the opinion that the language used by
petitioner's lawyers is highly derogatory, offensive and contemptuous. However, on July 17, 1991, respondent judge motu proprio issued an Order 2 which:
(a) recalled the July 12, 1991 Order granting bail; (b) directed petitioner to surrender
RESOLUTION within 48 hours from notice; (c) cancelled the July 16, 1991 Order granting leave for
the Provincial Prosecutor to conduct a preliminary investigation; (d) treated
petitioner's omnibus motion for immediate release and preliminary investigation
ROMERO, J p: dated July 11, 1991 as a petition for bail.

This is a Motion for Reconsideration of this Court's Resolution dated September 23, On July 19, 1991, petitioner filed a petition for certiorari, prohibition and mandamus
1992 denying petitioner's Petition and affirming the Decision and Resolution questioning the July 17, 1991 Order of respondent judge. On the same day, petitioner
promulgated on March 9, 1992 and June 26, 1992, respectively, of the Court of filed before the trial court a motion to suspend all the proceedings pending the
Appeals in CA-G.R. SP No. 26305. 1 The CA Decision and Resolution upheld the resolution of the petition filed before the Supreme Court. 3 This motion was denied
following: (1) respondent Judge Benjamin V. Pelayo's Order dated September 4, by respondent judge. 4
1991 which denied petitioner's Motion for Recusation; and (2) respondent judge's
Order dated September 17, 1991 denying petitioner's Motion to Suspend Proceedings
and to Transfer Venue Outside Metro Manila. On July 23, 1991, petitioner voluntarily surrendered to the CAPCOM. Upon motion
5 by petitioner, the respondent judge issued an Order 6 directing "the accused's
continued detention at the CAPCOM until such time as the Court shall have properly
A review of the antecedent facts of this case, particularly those wherein respondent determined the place where accused should be detained."
Judge participated, is in order to arrive at a just and correct assessment of his acts
vis-a-vis the petitioner.
On July 29, 1991, the National Bureau of Investigation wrote a letter 7 to the trial
court requesting that custody of petitioner be transferred to the Bureau in view of an
On July 2, 1991, Eldon Maguan was shot inside his car along Wilson Street, San investigation for illegal possession of firearms involving petitioner.
Juan, Metro Manila. After conducting an investigation of the shooting incident, the
police identified petitioner Rolito Go as the prime suspect in the commission of the
crime. On July 8, 1991, petitioner, accompanied by two lawyers, presented himself On the same date, July 29, 1991, the trial court issued an Order 8 granting the NBI
before the San Juan Police Station. He was arrested and booked for the shooting of temporary custody of petitioner subject to the following conditions: (a) the petitioner
is to be accorded his constitutional rights during the investigation; (b) the NBI ordering (a) the Provincial Prosecutor to conduct a preliminary investigation; and (b)
investigation is to be conducted only during office hours and petitioner is to be the release of petitioner without prejudice to any order that the trial court may issue,
returned to the custody of the CAPCOM at the end of each day; and (c) the NBI should the Provincial Prosecutor move for cancellation of bail at the conclusion of
should report to the trial court the status of the investigation. the preliminary investigation.

On July 30, 1991, petitioner filed a motion 9 before the trial court praying that the After conducting a preliminary investigation pursuant to this Court's decision in G.R.
Order dated July 29, 1991 be nullified and recalled. No. 101837, the Assistant Provincial Prosecutor issued a Resolution dated February
27, 1992 finding probable cause to charge petitioner with the crime of murder. The
The following day, July 31, 1991, the NBI filed a motion 10 praying that it be Resolution was approved by the Provincial Prosecutor who filed with the trial court a
granted full custody of petitioner pending the investigation of the case involving motion to cancel the bail of petitioner and a motion to set the criminal case for
illegal possession of firearms. resumption of the trial on the merits.

An Order 11 was issued by the trial Court dated August 1, 1991 setting for hearing Petitioner attempted to have the Resolution of the Prosecutor reversed by appealing
the issue concerning the proper venue of petitioner's detention. to the Department of Justice, and filing petitions with the Court of Appeals (CA,
G.R. SP No. 27738) and finally to this Court (G.R. No. 105424), but his efforts did
not meet with success.
After the hearing on petitioner's custody, the trial court issued an Order 12 dated
August 2, 1991 ordering the CAPCOM to bring the person of petitioner to the court
not later than August 5, 1991 so that a commitment order for his detention at the On October 1, 1991, petitioner filed another petition for certiorari, prohibition and
Rizal Provincial Jail could be issued. The Commitment Order 13 ordering the mandamus before this Court seeking to annul: (1) the Order of the trial court dated
Provincial Warden of the Provincial Jail of Pasig to take custody of petitioner was September 4, 1991 denying petitioner's Motion for Recusation; and (2) the Order
issued on August 5, 1991. dated September 17, 1991 denying petitioner's Motion to Suspend Proceedings and
Transfer Venue Outside Metro Manila. The petition, docketed as G.R. No. 101772,
was remanded to the Court of Appeals.
On August 8, 1991, petitioner filed a Motion for Recusation 14 praying that
respondent judge inhibit himself from hearing the case. The motion was denied by
respondent judge in his Order dated September 4, 1991. 15 On March 9, 1992, the Court of Appeals (13th Division) rendered a decision
dismissing the petition. As to the denial of petitioner's Motion for Recusation, the
Court of Appeals held in part:
On August 22, 1991, petitioner filed a Motion to Suspend Proceedings and Transfer
Venue Outside Metro Manila which was denied by respondent judge on September
17, 1991. 16 "On the basis of the allegation of the petition, the Court is not inclined to strike down
the denial of petitioner's motion for recusation as a grave abuse of discretion on the
part of the respondent judge absent any clear showing of such grave abuse of his
Petitioner was arraigned on August 23, 1991. In view of his refusal to enter a plea, a
discretion. The allegation of petitioner in support of his motion for recusation are
plea of "Not Guilty" was entered for him by the trial court. 17
conclusions based on his own fears and are therefore speculations than anything else.
In the meantime, this Court, by Resolution dated July 24, 1991, remanded to the
In order to warrant a finding of 'prejudicial' publicity as urged by the petitioner, there
Court of Appeals the petition filed by petitioner assailing the July 17, 1991 Order of
must be allegation and proof that the judge has been unduly influenced, not simply
the trial court.
that he might be, by the "barrage" of publicity (Martelino vs. Alejandro, 32 SCRA
106; emphasis supplied). While there is such allegation in the petition, the Court has
On August 27, 1991, petitioner filed a petition for habeas corpus before the Court of however found no proof so far adduced sufficient to accept the petitioner's claim that
Appeals. the respondent judge has been unduly influenced by the alleged publicity.

On September 23, 1991, the Court of Appeals rendered a consolidated decision Additionally, We quote hereunder the pronouncement of the Supreme Court in the
dismissing the two petitions. However, upon petition by petitioner, this Court by an case of Aparicio vs. Andal, 175 SCRA 569 where, citing the case of Pimentel vs.
8-6 vote in G.R. No. 101837 issued a decision reversing the, CA decision and Salanga, 21 SCRA 160, it said:
Efforts to attain fair, just and impartial trial and decision, have a natural and alluring On October 12, 1992, the present Motion for Reconsideration 21 was filed in which
appeal. But, we are not licensed to indulge in unjustified assumptions, or make a petitioner reiterates his position that respondent judge should inhibit himself from the
speculative approval to this ideal. It ill behooves this Court to tar and feather a judge case.
as biased or prejudiced, simply because counsel for a party litigant happens to
complain against him. As applied here, respondent judge has not as yet crossed the On December 16, 1992, petitioner filed a pleading captioned "Urgent Motion (for
line that divides partiality and impartiality. He has not thus far stepped to one side of preliminary mandatory injunction)." In said Motion, petitioner questioned the Order
the fulcrum. No act or conduct of his would show arbitrariness or prejudice. of the trial court dated December 9, 1992 denying petitioner's Motion to Reopen
Therefore, we are not to assume what respondent judge, not otherwise legally Hearing (of the cancellation of bail proceedings) and to Present Last Witness. It
disqualified, will do in a case before him. We have had occasion to rule in a criminal appears that after the presentation of eleven (11) witnesses by the prosecution and six
case that a charge made before trial that a party 'will not be given a fair, impartial (6) by the defense, the trial court considered the question concerning the cancellation
and just hearing' is 'premature.' Prejudice is not to be presumed. Especially if of petitioner's bail ripe for resolution. Thereafter, petitioner filed a Motion to Reopen
weighed against a judge's legal obligation under his oath to administer justice and Present Last Witness. 22 But the trial court issued an Order 23 dated December
without respect to person and to equal right to the poor and the rich.' To disqualify or 9, 1992 which, among other things, denied the Motion. In the Urgent Motion filed
not to disqualify himself then, as far as respondent judge is concerned, is a matter of with this Court on December 16, 1992, petitioner prayed "for the issuance forthwith
conscience." 18 and ex parte of a writ of preliminary mandatory injunction directing respondent
judge to allow petitioner to complete his defense evidence by presenting his last
The Court of Appeals also sustained the trial court's denial of petitioner's Motion to witness on the bail issue . . ." 24
Suspend Proceedings and Transfer Venue Outside Metro Manila with the following
pronouncement: On December 29, 1992, the Court passed a Resolution 25 issuing a temporary
restraining order (TRO) restraining respondent judge from resolving the bail issue
"On the question of the denial by the respondent court of petitioner's motion to and directing him to allow petitioner to present his last witness. This Resolution was
suspend proceedings and transfer venue outside of Metro Manila, suffice it to say clarified and the TRO confirmed in another Resolution issued by the Court on
that the respondent court was correct in denying petitioner's motion. For indeed, the January 11, 1993. 26
authority to order a change of venue or place of trial to avoid a miscarriage of justice
is vested in the Supreme Court by Article VIII, Section 5, paragraph 4 of the On January 8, 1993, the OSG filed a Comment on petitioner's Motion for
Constitution. Neither the respondent court nor this Court has the authority to grant Reconsideration.
petitioner's motion for transfer of venue. The cases cited by petitioner in support of
this issue were all decided by the Supreme Court before the advent of the 1973 At the outset, it is noteworthy to observe that petitioner in this Motion for
Constitution where the provision on transfer of venue was first adopted, hence not Reconsideration no longer raises the question of change of venue. Moreover, the
applicable to the instant case." 19 Motion for Reconsideration is predicated on what petitioner alleges are "the
supervening events demonstrating partiality to the prosecution, on one hand, and
Petitioner's Motion for Reconsideration of the CA decision having been denied, 20 a hostility against petitioner, on the other." 27 Perforce, this Resolution shall only
petition under Rule 45 was filed before this Court on July 29, 1992 assailing the consider the allegations and issues raised in this Motion for Reconsideration and in
decision of the Court of Appeals. On September 9, 1992, the Office of the Solicitor the Comment thereon filed by the OSG.
General (OSG), representing respondent People of the Philippines, filed a Comment
on the Petition. Petitioner's Motion for Recusation filed before the trial court is based on Rule 137,
sec. 1, par. 2 of the Rules of Court on disqualification of judges.
On September 23, 1992, the Court, after considering the allegations contained, issues
raised and the arguments adduced in the Petition, as well as the Comment filed by The Constitution commands that in all criminal prosecutions, the accused shall enjoy
the OSG, issued a Resolution denying the Petition on the ground that the respondent
the right to have "a speedy, impartial, and public trial." 28 (Emphasis supplied) This
Court of Appeals committed no reversible error in its assailed decision. right is a derivation and elaboration of the more fundamental right to due process of
law. 29 The rule on the disqualification of judges is a mechanism for enforcing the
requirements of due process. "It is now beyond dispute that due process cannot be
satisfied in the absence of that degree of objectivity on the part of a judge sufficient
to reassure litigants of his being fair and being just. Thereby there is the legitimate his dereliction. Although this case was decided prior to the introduction of par. 2 of
expectation that the decision arrived at would be the application of the law to the Rule 137, sec. 1, there is no reason why the procedure laid down in Rule 137, sec. 2
facts as found by a judge who does not play favorites." 30 and applied in People v. Moreno should not likewise apply to a motion for inhibition
filed pursuant to Rule 137, sec. 1, par. 2. 41 In fact, in Genoblazo v. Court of
The "cold neutrality of an impartial judge," 31 although required primarily for the Appeals, 42 the Court applied the procedure prescribed in Rule 137, sec. 2 when the
benefit of the litigants, is also designed to preserve the integrity of the judiciary and trial judge denied a party's motion for inhibition under Rule 137, sec. 1, par. 2, thus:
more fundamentally, to gain and maintain the people's faith in the institutions they
have erected when they adopted our Constitution. The notion that "justice must "Moreover, the trial judge acted correctly in proceeding with the case by setting it for
satisfy the appearance of justice" 32 is an imposition by the citizenry, as the final pre-trial since it is within her sound discretion, after her decision in favor of her own
judge of the conduct of public business, including trials, upon the courts of a high competency, to either proceed with the trial or refrain from acting on the case until
and uncompromising standard in the proper dispensation of justice. determination of the issue of her disqualification by the appellate court [Section 2 of
Rule 137 of the Revised Rules of Court; De la Paz v. Intermediate Appellate Court,
While bias and prejudice, which are relied upon by petitioner, have been recognized supra, at 76]. 43
as valid reasons for the voluntary inhibition 33 of the judge under Rule 137, sec. 1,
par. 2, 34 the established rule is that mere suspicion that a judge is partial is not Hence, if the trial judge decides to deny a motion for inhibition based on Rule 137,
enough. There should be clear and convincing evidence to prove the charge. 35 Bare sec. 1, par. 2, he shall proceed with the trial, unless of course restrained by either the
allegations of partiality and prejudgment will not suffice. 36 Bias and prejudice Court of Appeals or by this Court. The mere filing of a motion for inhibition before
cannot be presumed especially if weighed against a judge's sacred obligation under the trial court or a petition before either the Court of Appeals or the Supreme Court
his oath of office to administer justice without respect to person and do equal right to challenging an order of the trial judge denying a motion for inhibition will not
the poor and the rich. 37 deprive the judge of authority to proceed with the case. Otherwise, by the expedient
of filing such motion or petition, although the same be lacking in merit, a party can
In the Motion for Reconsideration now before the Court, petitioner, to prove his unduly delay the trial.
allegation of bias on the part of respondent judge, takes the latter to task for
continuing with the trial during the pendency of this petition stating that: In the case at hand, respondent judge acted in accordance with the Rules and
prevailing jurisprudence when he proceeded with the trial after denying petitioner's
"Even as the instant petition for the trial judge's recusation pends, the latter did not Motion for Recusation. Petitioner cannot, therefore, cite the fact that respondent
see fit to suspend the hearings. Indeed the trial judge has been conducting marathon judge did not suspend hearing the case during the pendency of this petition as proof
hearings which, in the context of his questioned fairness and impartiality, roars out as of his claim that the judge is partial. This Court has not, in connection with the
a railroad rush to make official a pre-determined verdict of guilt." 38 petition, issued a temporary restraining order (TRO) enjoining respondent judge
from further hearing the case. The TRO which this Court issued on December 29,
1992 after the petition was denied and pending this Motion for Reconsideration
The Court draws the attention of petitioner and his counsels 39 to the procedure to be
ordered the judge to desist from resolving the question on the cancellation of bail
followed by the judge before whom a motion for disqualification has been filed. Rule
until the last witness of petitioner was heard. The TRO did not restrain the judge
137, sec. 2 provides:
from hearing the case. On the contrary, the judge was ordered to hear petitioner's last
witness in the cancellation of bail proceedings. 44 Because it was his duty to
"If it be claimed that an official is disqualified from sitting as above provided, the continue trying the case and there was no order from this Court not to do so,
party objecting to his competency may, in writing, file with the official his objection, respondent judge committed no impropriety evincing partiality when he continued
stating the grounds therefor, and the official shall thereupon proceed with the trial, or hearing the case during the pendency of the petition before this Court.
withdraw therefrom, in accordance with his determination of the question of his
disqualification . . ." (Emphasis supplied)
Petitioner, in this Motion for Reconsideration, claims that since the issuance of the
Court Resolution dated September 23, 1992 denying his Petition, there have been
In People v. Moreno, 40 we stated that if a judge denies the motion for "supervening events demonstrating partiality to the prosecution on one hand, and
disqualification and rules favorably on his competency to try the case, it becomes a hostility against petitioner, on the other hand." 45 Petitioner alleges:
matter of official duty for him to proceed with the trial and decision of the case. He
cannot shirk the responsibility without the risk of being called upon to account for
"Pursuing his unconstitutional bent first evinced when, without benefit of Respondent judge is correct in appreciating the nature of the bail proceedings. "[T]he
preliminary investigation, petitioner's arraignment and trial, then arrest and detention hearing of an application for bail should be summary or otherwise in the discretion
for almost a year was peremptorily ordered which this Court reversed and of the court. By 'summary hearing' [is] meant such brief and speedy method of
rebuked (G.R. no. 101837, promulgated 11 February 1992) the unchastened trial receiving and considering the evidence of guilt as is practicable and consistent with
judge let out yet with two palpably biased and hostile orders, infra, clearly and the purpose of the hearing which is merely to determine the weight of the evidence
unmistakably demonstrating an unconstitutional prejudgment of petitioner's for the purpose of bail. In such a hearing, the court 'does not sit to try the merits or to
culpability." 46 enter into any nice inquiry as to the weight that ought to be allowed to the evidence
for or against accused, nor will it speculate on the outcome of the trial or on what
The first of these allegedly "palpably biased and hostile orders" was that issued by further evidence may be therein offered is admitted.' . . . The course of the inquiry
respondent judge on August 14, 1992 overruling petitioner's objection to the may be left to the discretion of the court which may confine itself to receiving such
admissibility of an affidavit of Geronimo Gonzaga offered by the prosecution. evidence as has reference to substantial matters avoiding unnecessary thoroughness
Petitioner contends that respondent judge should not have admitted the extrajudicial in the examination and cross-examination of witnesses and reducing to a reasonable
statements of Gonzaga because the latter did not take the witness stand to affirm the minimum the amount of corroboration particularly on details that are not essential to
statements contained in the document presented by the prosecution. Petitioner the purpose of the hearing." 51
suspected that respondent judge was trying to bolster the evidence for the
prosecution. Although the proceedings conducted by respondent judge were not for an application
for bail but to cancel that which was issued to petitioner, the principles and
This contention is without merit. The mere fact that the trial judge overruled procedure governing hearings on an application for bail were correctly applied by
petitioner's objection to the admissibility of a particular piece of evidence is not respondent judge in the cancellation of bail proceedings since the bail was issued by
proof of bias. In Jandionco v. Pearanda, 47 it was held that "[d]ivergence of this Court in G.R. No. 101837 without prejudice to any lawful order which the trial
opinions between a judge hearing a case and a party's counsel, as to applicable laws court may issue in case the Provincial Prosecutor moves for the cancellation of the
and jurisprudence, is not a sufficient ground to disqualify the judge from hearing the bail. 52 The grant of bail was made without prejudice because where bail is not a
case on the ground of bias and manifest partiality." 48 If petitioner disagrees with the matter of right, as in this case, the prosecution must be given the opportunity to
judge's ruling, he may still question the admissibility of the evidence when he files prove that there is a strong evidence of guilt. 53 In the cancellation of bail
an appeal, in case a judgment of conviction is rendered. To conclude, however, that proceedings before him, the judge was confronted with the same issue as in an
respondent judge, by overruling the objection raised by petitioner's counsel, was application for bail, i.e., whether the evidence of guilt is so strong as to convince the
trying to strengthen the prosecution's evidence is not only baseless because there was court that the accused is not entitled to bail. Hence, the similarity of the nature and
no evidence given to support this conclusion, but also premature because at that procedure of the hearings for an application for bail and the cancellation of the same.
stage, the judge was not yet appreciating the merits and weight of the particular piece
of evidence in question but was merely ruling on its admissibility. Petitioner's Having determined that respondent judge made a proper appreciation of the nature of
conclusion that "the offer and admission of Gonzaga's hearsay 'eyewitness' statement the bail proceedings before him, we likewise hold that it was within his discretion to
suggest a sinister concert to simulate evidential strength" 49 is, if not suggestive of limit the number of witnesses for petitioner. The power of the court in the bail
paranoia, at the very least, an overreaction. proceedings to make a determination as to whether or not the evidence of guilt is
strong "implies a full exercise of judicial discretion." 54 If the trial judge believes
The other supervening event allegedly demonstrating the judge's partiality occurred that the evidence before him is sufficient for him to rule on the bail issue, after
during one of the hearings concerning the prosecution's motion for the cancellation giving both parties their opportunity to present evidence, it is within his authority to
of petitioner's bail. On September 28, 1992, after eleven (11) witnesses had been consider the bail proceedings ripe for resolution. In any case, respondent judge
presented for the prosecution and two (2) for the defense, respondent judge acceded to petitioner's request and allowed him to present more witnesses in the bail
considered the cancellation of bail proceedings ripe for resolution and refused to proceedings.
allow petitioner's counsel to present anymore witnesses. The reasons given by
respondent judge for his ruling were: (1) the proceeding in the cancellation of bail is In fine, the Court holds that the respondent judge's ruling on September 28, 1992
summary and different from the hearing on the merits; (2) the court need not receive considering the prosecution's motion for cancellation of bail ripe for resolution on
exactly the same number of witnesses from both the prosecution and the defense; and the basis of the evidence already presented was not motivated by bias or prejudice.
(3) the counsel for petitioner previously limited himself to two (2) witnesses as borne
out by the record of the case. 50
Finally, petitioner, in this Motion for Reconsideration, restates his argument in the 3. Motion for Recusation August 8, 1991
Petition that the respondent judge is biased, as evidenced by his Order dated July 17,
1991 55 which in effect allowed petitioner's arraignment and trial without the benefit 4. Motion to Suspend Proceedings
of a preliminary investigation.
and Transfer Venue Outside
It is true that in Go v. Court of Appeals, et al., G.R. No. 101837, February 11, 1992,
a divided Court nullified respondent judge's July 17, 1991 Order and ordered that a Metro Manila August 22, 1991
preliminary investigation be conducted. But the erroneous Order of respondent judge
is not necessarily proof of partiality. In People v. Lacson, 56 we held that erroneous
rulings do not always constitute evidence of bias. 57 In Luciano v. Mariano, 58 we 5. Motion to Suspend Proceedings March 4, 1991
made the pronouncement that "[t]he mere fact that the judge has erroneously ruled
against the same litigant on two or more occasions does not create in our minds a 6. Second Motion to Inhibit March 2, 1992
decisive pattern of malice on the part of the judge against that particular litigant. This
is not an unusual occurrence in our courts . . ." Moreover, the fact that the erroneous 7. Motion to Suspend Action on
order issued by a judge can be remedied and was actually corrected, as in this case,
militates against the disqualification of the judge on the ground of bias or partiality. Formal Offer of Evidence and on
59
Submission of Memorandum Dec. 21, 1992
We have earlier underscored the importance of the rule of disqualification of judges,
not only in safeguarding the rights of litigants to due process of law but also in
8. Motion to Reopen Hearing and
earning for the judiciary the people's confidence, an element so essential in the
effective administration of justice. The rule should, therefore, not be used cavalierly
to suit a litigant's personal designs or to defeat the ends of justice. "While We are Present Last Witness Dec. 1, 1992
exacting on the conduct of judges confronted with motions for disqualification's, We
cannot, however, tolerate acts of litigants who, for any conceivable reason, seek to Before this Court, petitioner has already filed three (3) petitions assailing various
disqualify a judge for their own purpose, under a plea of bias, hostility, prejudice or orders of respondent judge in connection with the single murder case pending against
prejudgment . . . [T]his Court does not approve the tactic of some litigants of filing him. Apart from the present petition which is docketed as G.R. No. 106087,
of baseless motion for disqualification of the judge as a means of delaying the case petitioner has previously filed two (2) other petitions docketed as G.R. Nos. 101837
and/or of forum-shopping for a more friendly judge." 60 and 105424. In all three (3) petitions, petitioner applied for a temporary restraining
order to have the proceedings before the trial court held in abeyance.
In the case at hand, the Motion for Recusation filed by petitioner must be viewed in
the light of his lawyers' many attempts to suspend the proceedings before the The murder case involving only one accused, the petitioner, has become
respondent judge. Before the trial court, petitioner tried at least eight (8) times, not unnecessarily complicated and the proceedings before the trial court protracted, as
merely to reset the scheduled hearings, 61 but to suspend the trial of the case itself. can be gleaned from the fact that between the filing of the information on July 11,
The following pleadings filed by petitioner before respondent judge all prayed either 1991 and the end of last year or December 31, 1992, the records of the case now
to suspend the proceedings entirely or for the respondent judge to delay the consist of four (4) volumes and the transcript of stenographic notes have reached a
disposition of a particular issue: total of one thousand five hundred and twenty three (1523) pages. Hearings are still
being conducted.
CAPTION OF PLEADING DATE OF FILING
When taken in the light of petitioner's repeated attempts to have the proceedings in
1. Urgent Ex-Parte Motion July 19, 1991 the murder case suspended and his lawyers' transparent maneuvers for the needless
protraction of the case, the Motion for Recusation can only be viewed as another
dilatory move and the present Motion for Reconsideration a further ploy to stall
2. Motion to Hold in Abeyance August 2, 1991
hearings.
In sum, after a careful examination of the records of the case, including the transcript degrees, members of the bar for statements, disrespectful or irreverent, acrimonious
of stenographic notes, and considering the applicable law, the pertinent rules and or defamatory, of this Court or the lower courts . . . To be sure, lawyers may come up
prevailing jurisprudence, we reiterate our holding in the Court Resolution dated with various methods, perhaps more effective, in calling the Court's attention to the
September 23, 1992 that the Court of Appeals committed no reversible error in issues involved. The language vehicle does not run short of expressions, emphatic
affirming the respondent judge's Order which denied petitioner's Motion for but respectful, convincing but not derogatory, illuminating but not offensive." 67
Recusation. This extended Resolution should put an end to petitioner's obvious
attempts at deferring the trial of his principal case by dwelling on incidental matters. In light of the above doctrines and jurisprudence, as well as the inherent power and
The motion for reconsideration must, perforce, be denied with finality. authority of this Court to cite members of the Bar in contempt and to discipline them,
we are of the opinion that the language used by petitioner's lawyers is highly
In the Comment on the petitioner's Motion for Recusation, the Solicitor General derogatory, offensive and contemptuous.
prays that Attys. Raymundo A. Armovit, Miguel R. Armovit and Rafael R. Armovit,
be disciplinarily dealt with by this Court for allegedly using abusive and intemperate WHEREFORE, in view of the foregoing, the motion for reconsideration is DENIED
language against respondent judge which betrays disrespect to the trial court. with FINALITY. Attys. Raymundo A. Armovit, Miguel R. Armovit and Rafael R.
Armovit are hereby ordered to pay a FINE of P500.00 each with a stern WARNING
Indeed, in the Motion for Reconsideration, counsels for petitioner describe as that a repetition of this or similar act and language will be dealt with more severely.
"unparalleled for sheer malevolence" 62 respondent judge's allegedly erroneous Let a copy of this Resolution be attached to their records.
assumptions. Petitioner's lawyers further stated: "Petitioner's counsel, citing the
above proceedings, contested the trial judge's baseless, nay despotic attempt to SO ORDERED.
muzzle his right to be heard in his defense . . ." 63 The trial judge's actions were also
branded as an "obviously unholy rush to do petitioner in . . ." 64

In the Urgent Motion filed by petitioner on December 16, 1992, respondent judge is
alleged to have: (1) "generated belief of his being under contract to do the
prosecution's bidding;" (2) "evinced contempt for Supreme Court case law;" and (3)
"dishonored his judicial oath and duty to hear before he condemns, proceed upon
inquiry, and render judgment on a man's liberty only after a full trial of the facts." 65

The Rules of Court commands members of the bar "[t]o observe and maintain the
respect due to the courts of justice and judicial officers." 66 Reinforcing this rule of
conduct is the Code of Professional Responsibility which states in Canon 11 the
following: "A lawyer shall observe and maintain the respect due to the courts and to
judicial officers and should insist on similar conduct by others." Rule 11.03 of the
Code further states: "A lawyer shall abstain from scandalous, offensive or menacing
language or behaviour before the courts." The next succeeding rule, Rule 11.03 adds:
"A lawyer shall not attribute to a judge motives not supported by the record or
having materiality to the case."

To be sure, the adversarial nature of our legal system has tempted members of the
bar, in pursuing their duty to advance the interests of their clients, to use strong
language. But this privilege is not a license to malign our courts of justice. Irreverent
behavior towards the courts by members of the bar is proscribed, not so much for the
sake of the temporary incumbent of the judicial office, but more importantly, for the
maintenance of respect for our judicial system, so necessary for the country's
stability. "Time and again, this Court has admonished and punished, in varying
DECISION

SANDOVAL-GUTIERREZ, J.:

Before us are two consolidated Petitions for Review on Certiorari assailing the
Decisions of the Court of Appeals in CA-G.R. SP No. 873281 and in CA-G.R. SP
Republic of the Philippines No. 85078.2
SUPREME COURT
Manila The common factual antecedents of these cases as shown by the records are:

FIRST DIVISION Manuel Baviera, petitioner in these cases, was the former head of the HR Service
Delivery and Industrial Relations of Standard Chartered Bank-Philippines (SCB),
G.R. No. 168380 February 8, 2007 one of herein respondents. SCB is a foreign banking corporation duly licensed to
engage in banking, trust, and other fiduciary business in the Philippines. Pursuant to
MANUEL V. BAVIERA, Petitioner, Resolution No. 1142 dated December 3, 1992 of the Monetary Board of the Bangko
vs. Sentral ng Pilipinas (BSP), the conduct of SCBs business in this jurisdiction is
ESPERANZA PAGLINAWAN, in her capacity as Department of Justice State subject to the following conditions:
Prosecutor; LEAH C. TANODRA-ARMAMENTO, In her capacity as Assistant
Chief State Prosecutor and Chairwoman of Task Force on Business Scam; 1. At the end of a one-year period from the date the SCB starts its trust
JOVENCITO R. ZUNO, in his capacity as Department of Justice Chief State functions, at least 25% of its trust accounts must be for the account of non-
Prosecutor; STANDARD CHARTERED BANK, PAUL SIMON MORRIS, residents of the Philippines and that actual foreign exchange had been
AJAY KANWAL, SRIDHAR RAMAN, MARIVEL GONZALES, CHONA remitted into the Philippines to fund such accounts or that the establishment
REYES, MARIA ELLEN VICTOR, and ZENAIDA IGLESIAS, Respondents. of such accounts had reduced the indebtedness of residents (individuals or
corporations or government agencies) of the Philippines to non-residents.
x-----------------------------x At the end of the second year, the above ratio shall be 50%, which ratio
must be observed continuously thereafter;
G.R. No. 170602 February 8, 2007
2. The trust operations of SCB shall be subject to all existing laws, rules and
MANUEL V. BAVIERA, Petitioner, regulations applicable to trust services, particularly the creation of a Trust
vs. Committee; and
STANDARD CHARTERED BANK, BRYAN K. SANDERSON, THE RIGHT
HONORABLE LORD STEWARTBY, EVAN MERVYN DAVIES, MICHAEL 3. The bank shall inform the appropriate supervising and examining
BERNARD DENOMA, CHRISTOPHER AVEDIS KELJIK, RICHARD department of the BSP at the start of its operations.
HENRY MEDDINGS, KAI NARGOLWALA, PETER ALEXANDER SANDS,
RONNIE CHI CHUNG CHAN, SIR CK CHOW, BARRY CLARE, HO KWON Apparently, SCB did not comply with the above conditions. Instead, as early as
PING, RUDOLPH HAROLD PETER ARKHAM, DAVID GEORGE MOIR, 1996, it acted as a stock broker, soliciting from local residents foreign securities
HIGH EDWARD NORTON, SIR RALPH HARRY ROBINS, ANTHONY called "GLOBAL THIRD PARTY MUTUAL FUNDS" (GTPMF), denominated in
WILLIAM PAUL STENHAM (Standard Chartered Bank Chairman, Deputy US dollars. These securities were not registered with the Securities and Exchange
Chairman, and Members of the Board), SHERAZAM MAZARI (Group Commission (SEC). These were then remitted outwardly to SCB-Hong Kong and
Regional Head for Consumer Banking), PAUL SIMON MORRIS, AJAY SCB-Singapore.
KANWAL, SRIDHAR RAMAN, MARIVEL GONZALES, CHONA REYES,
ELLEN VICTOR, RAMONA H. BERNAD, DOMINGO CARBONELL, JR., SCBs counsel, Romulo Mabanta Buenaventura Sayoc and Delos Angeles Law
and ZENAIDA IGLESIAS (Standard Chartered Bank-Philippines Branch Office, advised the bank to proceed with the selling of the foreign securities although
Heads/Officers), Respondents.
unregistered with the SEC, under the guise of a "custodianship agreement;" and Meanwhile, on November 27, 2000, the BSP found that SCB failed to comply with
should it be questioned, it shall invoke Section 723 of the General Banking Act its directive of August 17, 1998. Consequently, it was fined in the amount of
(Republic Act No.337).4 In sum, SCB was able to sell GTPMF securities worth P30,000.00.
around P6 billion to some 645 investors.
The trend in the securities market, however, was bearish and the worth of petitioners
However, SCBs operations did not remain unchallenged. On July 18, 1997, the investment went down further to only US$3,000.00.
Investment Capital Association of the Philippines (ICAP) filed with the SEC a
complaint alleging that SCB violated the Revised Securities Act, 5 particularly the On October 26, 2001, petitioner learned from Marivel Gonzales, head of the SCB
provision prohibiting the selling of securities without prior registration with the SEC; Legal and Compliance Department, that the latter had been prohibited by the BSP to
and that its actions are potentially damaging to the local mutual fund industry. sell GPTMF securities. Petitioner then filed with the BSP a letter-complaint
demanding compensation for his lost investment. But SCB denied his demand on the
In its answer, SCB denied offering and selling securities, contending that it has been ground that his investment is "regular."
performing a "purely informational function" without solicitations for any of its
investment outlets abroad; that it has a trust license and the services it renders under On July 15, 2003, petitioner filed with the Department of Justice (DOJ), represented
the "Custodianship Agreement" for offshore investments are authorized by Section herein by its prosecutors, public respondents, a complaint charging the above-named
726 of the General Banking Act; that its clients were the ones who took the initiative officers and members of the SCB Board of Directors and other SCB officials, private
to invest in securities; and it has been acting merely as an agent or "passive order respondents, with syndicated estafa, docketed as I.S. No. 2003-1059.
taker" for them.
For their part, private respondents filed the following as counter-charges against
On September 2, 1997, the SEC issued a Cease and Desist Order against SCB, petitioner: (1) blackmail and extortion, docketed as I.S. No. 2003-1059-A; and
holding that its services violated Sections 4(a) 7 and 198 of the Revised Securities Act. blackmail and perjury, docketed as I.S. No. 2003-1278.

Meantime, the SEC indorsed ICAPs complaint and its supporting documents to the On September 29, 2003, petitioner also filed a complaint for perjury against private
BSP. respondents Paul Simon Morris and Marivel Gonzales, docketed as I.S. No. 2003-
1278-A.
On October 31, 1997, the SEC informed the Secretary of Finance that it withdrew
GTPMF securities from the market and that it will not sell the same without the On December 4, 2003, the SEC issued a Cease and Desist Order against SCB
necessary clearances from the regulatory authorities. restraining it from further offering, soliciting, or otherwise selling its securities to the
public until these have been registered with the SEC.
Meanwhile, on August 17, 1998, the BSP directed SCB not to include investments in
global mutual funds issued abroad in its trust investments portfolio without prior Subsequently, the SEC and SCB reached an amicable settlement.1awphi1.net
registration with the SEC.
On January 20, 2004, the SEC lifted its Cease and Desist Order and approved the P7
On August 31, 1998, SCB sent a letter to the BSP confirming that it will withdraw million settlement offered by SCB. Thereupon, SCB made a commitment not to offer
third-party fund products which could be directly purchased by investors. or sell securities without prior compliance with the requirements of the SEC.

However, notwithstanding its commitment and the BSP directive, SCB continued to On February 7, 2004, petitioner filed with the DOJ a complaint for violation of
offer and sell GTPMF securities in this country. This prompted petitioner to enter Section 8.19 of the Securities Regulation Code against private respondents, docketed
into an Investment Trust Agreement with SCB wherein he purchased US$8,000.00 as I.S. No. 2004-229.
worth of securities upon the banks promise of 40% return on his investment and a
guarantee that his money is safe. After six (6) months, however, petitioner learned On February 23, 2004, the DOJ rendered its Joint Resolution10 dismissing
that the value of his investment went down to US$7,000.00. He tried to withdraw his petitioners complaint for syndicated estafa in I.S. No. 2003-1059; private
investment but was persuaded by Antonette de los Reyes of SCB to hold on to it for respondents complaint for blackmail and extortion in I.S. No. 2003-1059-A; private
another six (6) months in view of the possibility that the market would pick up.
respondents complaint for blackmail and perjury in I.S. No. 2003-1278; and Re: I.S. No. 2004-229
petitioners complaint for perjury against private respondents Morris and Gonzales in
I.S. No. 2003-1278-A. For violation of the Securities Regulation Code

Meanwhile, in a Resolution11 dated April 4, 2004, the DOJ dismissed petitioners Section 53.1 of the Securities Regulation Code provides:
complaint in I.S. No. 2004-229 (violation of Securities Regulation Code), holding
that it should have been filed with the SEC. SEC. 53. Investigations, Injunctions and Prosecution of Offenses.

Petitioners motions to dismiss his complaints were denied by the DOJ. Thus, he 53. 1. The Commission may, in its discretion, make such investigation as it deems
filed with the Court of Appeals a petition for certiorari, docketed as CA-G.R. SP No. necessary to determine whether any person has violated or is about to violate any
85078. He alleged that the DOJ acted with grave abuse of discretion amounting to provision of this Code, any rule, regulation or order thereunder, or any rule of an
lack or excess of jurisdiction in dismissing his complaint for syndicated estafa. Exchange, registered securities association, clearing agency, other self-regulatory
organization, and may require or permit any person to file with it a statement in
He also filed with the Court of Appeals a separate petition for certiorari assailing the writing, under oath or otherwise, as the Commission shall determine, as to all facts
DOJ Resolution dismissing I.S. No. 2004-229 for violation of the Securities and circumstances concerning the matter to be investigated. The Commission may
Regulation Code. This petition was docketed as CA-G.R. SP No. 87328. Petitioner publish information concerning any such violations and to investigate any fact,
claimed that the DOJ acted with grave abuse of discretion tantamount to lack or condition, practice or matter which it may deem necessary or proper to aid in the
excess of jurisdiction in holding that the complaint should have been filed with the enforcement of the provisions of this Code, in the prescribing of rules and
SEC. regulations thereunder, or in securing information to serve as a basis for
recommending further legislation concerning the matters to which this Code relates:
On January 7, 2005, the Court of Appeals promulgated its Decision dismissing the Provided, however, That any person requested or subpoenaed to produce documents
petition.1avvphi1.net It sustained the ruling of the DOJ that the case should have or testify in any investigation shall simultaneously be notified in writing of the
been filed initially with the SEC. purpose of such investigation: Provided, further, That all criminal complaints for
violations of this Code and the implementing rules and regulations enforced or
Petitioner filed a motion for reconsideration but it was denied in a Resolution dated administered by the Commission shall be referred to the Department of Justice
May 27, 2005. for preliminary investigation and prosecution before the proper court:
Provided, furthermore, That in instances where the law allows independent civil or
criminal proceedings of violations arising from the act, the Commission shall take
Meanwhile, on February 21, 2005, the Court of Appeals rendered its Decision in
appropriate action to implement the same: Provided, finally; That the investigation,
CA-G.R. SP No. 85078 (involving petitioners charges and respondents counter
prosecution, and trial of such cases shall be given priority.
charges) dismissing the petition on the ground that the purpose of a petition for
certiorari is not to evaluate and weigh the parties evidence but to determine whether
the assailed Resolution of the DOJ was issued with grave abuse of discretion The Court of Appeals held that under the above provision, a criminal complaint for
tantamount to lack of jurisdiction. Again, petitioner moved for a reconsideration but violation of any law or rule administered by the SEC must first be filed with the
it was denied in a Resolution of November 22, 2005. latter. If the Commission finds that there is probable cause, then it should refer the
case to the DOJ. Since petitioner failed to comply with the foregoing procedural
requirement, the DOJ did not gravely abuse its discretion in dismissing his complaint
Hence, the instant petitions for review on certiorari.
in I.S. No. 2004-229.
For our resolution is the fundamental issue of whether the Court of Appeals erred in
concluding that the DOJ did not commit grave abuse of discretion in dismissing A criminal charge for violation of the Securities Regulation Code is a specialized
dispute. Hence, it must first be referred to an administrative agency of special
petitioners complaint in I.S. 2004-229 for violation of Securities Regulation Code
competence, i.e., the SEC. Under the doctrine of primary jurisdiction, courts will not
and his complaint in I.S. No. 2003-1059 for syndicated estafa.
determine a controversy involving a question within the jurisdiction of the
administrative tribunal, where the question demands the exercise of sound
G.R. No 168380 administrative discretion requiring the specialized knowledge and expertise of said
administrative tribunal to determine technical and intricate matters of fact. 12 The whether or not to dismiss the criminal complaint against the accused depends on the
Securities Regulation Code is a special law. Its enforcement is particularly vested in sound discretion of the prosecutor.
the SEC. Hence, all complaints for any violation of the Code and its implementing
rules and regulations should be filed with the SEC. Where the complaint is criminal Given this latitude and authority granted by law to the investigating prosecutor, the
in nature, the SEC shall indorse the complaint to the DOJ for preliminary rule in this jurisdiction is that courts will not interfere with the conduct of
investigation and prosecution as provided in Section 53.1 earlier quoted. preliminary investigations or reinvestigations or in the determination of what
constitutes sufficient probable cause for the filing of the corresponding
We thus agree with the Court of Appeals that petitioner committed a fatal procedural information against an offender.18 Courts are not empowered to substitute their
lapse when he filed his criminal complaint directly with the DOJ. Verily, no grave own judgment for that of the executive branch. 19 Differently stated, as the matter of
abuse of discretion can be ascribed to the DOJ in dismissing petitioners complaint. whether to prosecute or not is purely discretionary on his part, courts cannot compel
a public prosecutor to file the corresponding information, upon a complaint, where
G.R. No. 170602 he finds the evidence before him insufficient to warrant the filing of an action in
court. In sum, the prosecutors findings on the existence of probable cause are
not subject to review by the courts, unless these are patently shown to have been
Re: I.S. No. 2003-1059 for
made with grave abuse of discretion.20
Syndicated Estafa
Grave abuse of discretion is such capricious and whimsical exercise of judgment on
the part of the public officer concerned which is equivalent to an excess or lack of
Section 5, Rule 110 of the 2000 Rules of Criminal Procedure, as amended, provides jurisdiction. The abuse of discretion must be as patent and gross as to amount to an
that all criminal actions, commenced by either a complaint or an information, shall evasion of a positive duty or a virtual refusal to perform a duty enjoined by law, or to
be prosecuted under the direction and control of a public prosecutor. This mandate is act at all in contemplation of law, as where the power is exercised in an arbitrary and
founded on the theory that a crime is a breach of the security and peace of the people despotic manner by reason of passion or hostility. 21
at large, an outrage against the very sovereignty of the State. It follows that a
representative of the State shall direct and control the prosecution of the offense. 13
In determining whether the DOJ committed grave abuse of discretion, it is expedient
This representative of the State is the public prosecutor, whom this Court described
to know if the findings of fact of herein public prosecutors were reached in an
in the old case of Suarez v. Platon,14 as:
arbitrary or despotic manner.
[T]he representative not of an ordinary party to a controversy, but of a sovereignty
The Court of Appeals held that petitioners evidence is insufficient to establish
whose obligation to govern impartially is as compelling as its obligation to govern at
probable cause for syndicated estafa. There is no showing from the record that
all; and whose interest, therefore, in a criminal prosecution is not that it shall win a
private respondents herein did induce petitioner by false representations to invest in
case, but that justice shall be done. As such, he is in a peculiar and very definite
the GTPMF securities. Nor did they act as a syndicate to misappropriate his money
sense a servant of the law, the twofold aim of which is that guilt shall not escape or
for their own benefit. Rather, they invested it in accordance with his written
innocence suffers.
instructions. That he lost his investment is not their fault since it was highly
speculative.
Concomitant with his authority and power to control the prosecution of criminal
offenses, the public prosecutor is vested with the discretionary power to determine
Records show that public respondents examined petitioners evidence with care, well
whether a prima facie case exists or not.15 This is done through a preliminary
aware of their duty to prevent material damage to his constitutional right to liberty
investigation designed to secure the respondent from hasty, malicious and oppressive
and fair play. In Suarez previously cited, this Court made it clear that a public
prosecution. A preliminary investigation is essentially an inquiry to determine
prosecutors duty is two-fold. On one hand, he is bound by his oath of office to
whether (a) a crime has been committed; and (b) whether there is probable cause that
prosecute persons where the complainants evidence is ample and sufficient to show
the accused is guilty thereof.16 In Pontejos v. Office of the Ombudsman,17 probable
prima facie guilt of a crime. Yet, on the other hand, he is likewise duty-bound to
cause is defined as such facts and circumstances that would engender a well-founded
protect innocent persons from groundless, false, or malicious prosecution. 22
belief that a crime has been committed and that the respondent is probably guilty
thereof and should be held for trial. It is the public prosecutor who determines during
the preliminary investigation whether probable cause exists. Thus, the decision
Hence, we hold that the Court of Appeals was correct in dismissing the petition for
review against private respondents and in concluding that the DOJ did not act with
grave abuse of discretion tantamount to lack or excess of jurisdiction.

On petitioners complaint for violation of the Securities Regulation Code, suffice it Republic of the Philippines
to state that, as aptly declared by the Court of Appeals, he should have filed it with SUPREME COURT
the SEC, not the DOJ. Again, there is no indication here that in dismissing Manila
petitioners complaint, the DOJ acted capriciously or arbitrarily.
FIRST DIVISION
WHEREFORE, we DENY the petitions and AFFIRM the assailed Decisions of the
Court of Appeals in CA-G.R. SP No. 87328 and in CA-G.R. SP No. 85078. G.R. No. 168662 February 19, 2008

Costs against petitioner. SANRIO COMPANY LIMITED, petitioner,


vs.
SO ORDERED. EDGAR C. LIM, doing business as ORIGNAMURA TRADING, respondent.

DECISION

CORONA, J.:

This petition for review on certiorari1 seeks to set aside the decision of the Court of
Appeals (CA) in CA-G.R. CV No. 746602 and its resolution3 denying
reconsideration.

Petitioner Sanrio Company Limited, a Japanese corporation, owns the copyright of


various animated characters such as "Hello Kitty," "Little Twin Stars," "My
Melody," "Tuxedo Sam" and "Zashikibuta" among others.4 While it is not engaged in
business in the Philippines, its products are sold locally by its exclusive distributor,
Gift Gate Incorporated (GGI).5

As such exclusive distributor, GGI entered into licensing agreements with JC Lucas
Creative Products, Inc., Paper Line Graphics, Inc. and Melawares Manufacturing
Corporation.6 These local entities were allowed to manufacture certain products
(bearing petitioner's copyrighted animated characters) for the local market.

Sometime in 2001, due to the deluge of counterfeit Sanrio products, GGI asked IP
Manila Associates (IPMA) to conduct a market research. The research's objective
was to identify those factories, department stores and retail outlets manufacturing
and/or selling fake Sanrio items.7 After conducting several test-buys in various
commercial areas, IPMA confirmed that respondent's Orignamura Trading in
Tutuban Center, Manila was selling imitations of petitioner's products. 8
Consequently, on May 29, 2000, IPMA agents Lea A. Carmona and Arnel P. Dausan to know, to be an infringing copy of the work for the purpose
executed a joint affidavit attesting to the aforementioned facts. 9 IPMA forwarded the of:
said affidavit to the National Bureau of Investigation (NBI) which thereafter filed an
application for the issuance of a search warrant in the office of the Executive Judge (a) Selling, letting for hire, or by way of trade offering or
of the Regional Trial Court of Manila.10 exposing for sale, or hire, the article;

After conducting the requisite searching inquiry, the executive judge issued a search (b) Distributing the article for purpose of trade or any other
warrant on May 30, 2000.11 On the same day, agents of the NBI searched the purpose to an extent that will prejudice the rights of the
premises of Orignamura Trading. As a result thereof, they were able to seize various copyright of the owner in the work; or
Sanrio products.12
(c) Trade exhibit of the article in public, shall be guilty of an
On April 4, 2002, petitioner, through its attorney-in-fact Teodoro Y. Kalaw IV of the offense and shall be liable on conviction to imprisonment and fine
Quisumbing Torres law firm, filed a complaint-affidavit13 with the Task-Force on as above mentioned. (emphasis supplied)
Anti-Intellectual Property Piracy (TAPP) of the Department of Justice (DOJ) against
respondent for violation of Section 217 (in relation to Sections 177 14 and 17815) of Respondent asserted in his counter-affidavit16 that he committed no violation of the
the Intellectual Property Code (IPC) which states: provisions of the IPC because he was only a retailer.17 Respondent neither
reproduced nor manufactured any of petitioner's copyrighted item; thus, he did not
Section 217. Criminal Penalties. - 217.1. Any person infringing any right transgress the economic rights of petitioner. 18 Moreover, he obtained his
secured by provisions of Part IV of this Act or aiding or abetting such merchandise from authorized manufacturers of petitioner's products.19
infringement shall be guilty of a crime punishable by:
On September 25, 2002, the TAPP found that:
(a) Imprisonment of one (1) year to three (3) years plus a fine ranging from
Fifty thousand pesos (P50,000) to One hundred fifty thousand pesos Evidence on record would show that respondent bought his merchandise
(P150,000) for the first offense. from legitimate sources, as shown by official receipts issued by JC Lucas
Creative Products, Inc., Paper Line Graphics, Inc. and Melawares
(b) Imprisonment of three (3) years and one (1) day to six (6) years plus a Manufacturing Corporation. In fact, in her letter dated May 23, 2002, Ms.
fine ranging from One hundred fifty thousand pesos (P150,000) to Five Ma. Angela S. Garcia certified that JC Lucas Creative Products, Inc., Paper
hundred thousand pesos (P500,000) for the second offense. Line Graphics, Inc. and Melawares Manufacturing Corporation are
authorized to produce certain Sanrio products. While it appears that some
(c) Imprisonment of six (6) years and one (1) day to nine (9) years plus a of the items seized during the search are not among those products
fine ranging from Five hundred thousand pesos (P500,000) to One million which [GGI] authorized these establishments to produce, the fact
five hundred thousand pesos (P1,500,000) for the third and subsequent remains that respondent bought these from the abovecited legitimate
offenses. sources. At this juncture, it bears stressing that respondent relied on the
representations of these manufacturers and distributors that the items
(d) In all cases, subsidiary imprisonment in cases of insolvency. they sold were genuine. As such, it is not incumbent upon respondent to
verify from these sources what items [GGI] only authorized them to
produce. Thus, as far as respondent is concerned, the items in his
217.2. In determining the number of years of imprisonment and the amount
possession are not infringing copies of the original [petitioner's]
of fine, the court shall consider the value of the infringing materials that the
defendant has produced or manufactured and the damage that the copyright products. (emphasis supplied)20
owner has suffered by reason of infringement.
Thus, in a resolution dated September 25, 2002, it dismissed the complaint due to
insufficiency of evidence.21
217.3. Any person who at the time when copyright subsists in a
work has in his possession an article which he knows, or ought
Petitioner moved for reconsideration but it was denied. 22 Hence, it filed a petition for The CA agreed with the DOJ that petitioner failed to prove that respondent knew that
review in the Office of the Chief State Prosecutor of the DOJ. 23 In a resolution dated the merchandise he sold was counterfeit. Respondent, on the other hand, was able to
August 29, 2003,24 the Office of the Chief State Prosecutor affirmed the TAPP show that he obtained these goods from legitimate sources. 27
resolution. The petition was dismissed for lack of reversible error.
Petitioner moved for reconsideration but it was denied. Hence, this petition.
Aggrieved, petitioner filed a petition for certiorari in the CA. On May 3, 2005, the
appellate court dismissed the petition on the ground of prescription. It based its Petitioner now essentially avers that the CA erred in concluding that the alleged
action on Act 3326 which states: violations of the IPC had prescribed. Recent jurisprudence holds that the pendency of
a preliminary investigation suspends the running of the prescriptive period. 28
Section 1. Violations penalized by special acts shall, unless otherwise Moreover, the CA erred in finding that the DOJ did not commit grave abuse of
provided in such acts, prescribe in accordance with the following rules: (a) discretion in dismissing the complaint. Respondent is liable for copyright
after a year for offenses punished only by a fine or by imprisonment for not infringement (even if he obtained his merchandise from legitimate sources) because
more than one month, or both; (b) after four years for those punished by he sold counterfeit goods.29
imprisonment for more than one month, but less than two years; (c)
after eight years for those punished by imprisonment for two years or Although we do not agree wholly with the CA, we deny the petition.
more, but less than six years; and (d) after twelve years for any other
offense punished by imprisonment for six years or more, except the crime
Filing Of The Complaint In the DOJ Tolled The Prescriptive Period
of treason, which shall prescribe after twenty years; Provided, however,
That all offenses against any law or part of law administered by the Bureau
of Internal Revenue shall prescribe after five years. Violations penalized by Section 2 of Act 3326 provides that the prescriptive period for violation of special
municipal ordinances shall prescribe after two months. laws starts on the day such offense was committed and is interrupted by the
institution of proceedings against respondent (i.e., the accused).
Section 2. Prescription shall begin to run from the day of the
commission of the violation of the law, and if the same may not be known Petitioner in this instance filed its complaint-affidavit on April 4, 2002 or one year,
at the time, from the discovery thereof and the institution of judicial ten months and four days after the NBI searched respondent's premises and seized
proceedings for its investigation and punishment. Sanrio merchandise therefrom. Although no information was immediately filed in
court, respondent's alleged violation had not yet prescribed. 30
The prescription shall be interrupted when proceedings are instituted
against the guilty person, and shall begin to run again if the proceedings In the recent case of Brillantes v. Court of Appeals,31 we affirmed that the filing of
are dismissed for reasons not constituting jeopardy. (emphasis supplied) the complaint for purposes of preliminary investigation interrupts the period of
prescription of criminal responsibility.32 Thus, the prescriptive period for the
prosecution of the alleged violation of the IPC was tolled by petitioner's timely filing
According to the CA, because no complaint was filed in court within two years after of the complaint-affidavit before the TAPP.
the commission of the alleged violation, the offense had already prescribed. 25
In The Absence Of Grave Abuse Of Discretion, The Factual Findings Of The
On the merits of the case, the CA concluded that the DOJ did not commit grave
DOJ In Preliminary Investigations Will Not Be Disturbed
abuse of discretion in dismissing the petition for review. 26 To be criminally liable for
violation of Section 217.3 of the IPC, the following requisites must be present:
In a preliminary investigation, a public prosecutor determines whether a crime has
been committed and whether there is probable cause that the accused is guilty
1. possession of the infringing copy and thereof.33 Probable cause is defined as such facts and circumstances that will
engender a well-founded belief that a crime has been committed and that the
2. knowledge or suspicion that the copy is an infringement of the genuine respondent is probably guilty thereof and should be held for trial. 34 Because a public
article. prosecutor is the one conducting a preliminary investigation, he determines the
existence of probable cause.35 Consequently, the decision to file a criminal CHICO-NAZARIO, J.:
information in court or to dismiss a complaint depends on his sound discretion. 36
In this petition for review on certiorari1 under Rule 45 of the Rules of Court, as
As a general rule, a public prosecutor is afforded a wide latitude of discretion in the amended, petitioner Gloria Pilar S. Aguirre (Gloria Aguirre) seeks the reversal of the
conduct of a preliminary investigation. For this reason, courts generally do not 21 July 2005 Decision2 and 5 December 2005 Resolution,3 both of the Court of
interfere with the results of such proceedings. A prosecutor alone determines the Appeals in CA-G.R. SP No. 88370, entitled "Gloria Pilar S. Aguirre v. Secretary of
sufficiency of evidence that will establish probable cause justifying the filing of a the Department of Justice, Michelina S. Aguirre-Olondriz, Dr. Juvido Agatep, Dra.
criminal information against the respondent. 37 By way of exception, however, Marissa B. Pascual, Pedro B. Aguirre and John and Jane Does."
judicial review is allowed where respondent has clearly established that the
prosecutor committed grave abuse of discretion. 38 Otherwise stated, such review is The Court of Appeals found no grave abuse of discretion on the part of the Secretary
appropriate only when the prosecutor has exercised his discretion in an arbitrary, of the Department of Justice (DOJ) when the latter issued the twin resolutions dated
capricious, whimsical or despotic manner by reason of passion or personal hostility, 11 February 20044 and 12 November 2004,5 respectively, which in turn affirmed the
patent and gross enough to amount to an evasion of a positive duty or virtual refusal 8 January 2003 Resolution6 of the Office of the City Prosecutor (OCP) of Quezon
to perform a duty enjoined by law.39 City.

The prosecutors in this case consistently found that no probable cause existed against The Assistant City Prosecutor for the OCP of Quezon City recommended the
respondent for violation of the IPC. They were in the best position to determine dismissal of the criminal complaint, docketed as I.S. No. 02-12466, for violation of
whether or not there was probable cause. We find that they arrived at their findings Articles 172 (Falsification by Private Individuals and Use of Falsified Documents)
after carefully evaluating the respective evidence of petitioner and respondent. Their and 262 (Mutilation), both of the Revised Penal Code, in relation to Republic Act
conclusion was not tainted with grave abuse of discretion. No. 7610, otherwise known as "Child Abuse, Exploitation and Discrimination Act,"
for insufficiency of evidence.
WHEREFORE, the petition is hereby DENIED.
The case stemmed from a complaint filed by petitioner Gloria Aguirre against
respondents Pedro B. Aguirre (Pedro Aguirre), Michelina S. Aguirre-Olondriz
(Olondriz), Dr. Juvido Agatep (Dr. Agatep), Dr. Marissa B. Pascual (Dr. Pascual)
and several John/Jane Does for falsification, mutilation and child abuse.

The antecedents of the present petition are:

Laureano "Larry" Aguirre7 used to be a charge of the Heart of Mary Villa, a child
caring agency run by the Good Shepherd Sisters and licensed by the Department of
Social Work and Development (DSWD). Sometime in 1978, respondent Pedro
Aguirre; the latter's spouse, Lourdes S. Aguirre (Lourdes Aguirre); and their four
daughters, who included petitioner Gloria Aguirre and respondent Olondriz, came to
know Larry, who was then just over a year old. The Aguirres would have Larry
G.R. No. 170723 March 3, 2008 spend a few days at their home and then return him to the orphanage thereafter. In
June 1980, Larry, then two years and nine months of age, formally became the ward
GLORIA PILAR S. AGUIRRE, petitioner, of respondent Pedro Aguirre and his spouse Lourdes Aguirre by virtue of an Affidavit
vs. of Consent to Legal Guardianship executed in their favor by Sister Mary Concepta
SECRETARY OF THE DEPARTMENT OF JUSTICE, MICHELINA S. Bellosillo, Superior of the Heart of Mary Villa. On 19 June 1986, the Aguirre
AGUIRRE-OLONDRIZ, PEDRO B. AGUIRRE, DR. JUVIDO AGATEP and spouses' guardianship of Larry was legalized when the Regional Trial Court (RTC),
DR. MARISSA B. PASCUAL, respondents. Branch 3 of Balanga, Bataan, duly appointed them as joint co-guardians over the
person and property of Larry.
DECISION
As Larry was growing up, the Aguirre spouses and their children noticed that his Developmental milestones were noted to be delayed. He started to walk and
developmental milestones were remarkably delayed. His cognitive and physical speak in single word at around age 5. He was enrolled in Colegio de San
growth did not appear normal in that "at age 3 to 4 years, Larry could only crawl on Agustin at age 6 where he showed significant learning difficulties that he
his tummy like a frog x x x;"8 he did not utter his first word until he was three years had to repeat 1st and 4th grades. A consult was done in 1989 when he was 11
of age; did not speak in sentences until his sixth year; and only learned to stand up years old. Neurological findings and EEG results were not normal and he
and walk after he turned five years old. At age six, the Aguirre spouses first enrolled was given Tecretol and Encephabol by his neurologist. Psychological
Larry at the Colegio de San Agustin, Dasmarias Village, but the child experienced evaluation revealed mild to moderate mental retardation, special education
significant learning difficulties there. In 1989, at age eleven, Larry was taken to training was advised and thus, he was transferred to St. John Marie
specialists for neurological and psychological evaluations. The psychological Vianney. He finished his elementary and secondary education in the said
evaluation9 done on Larry revealed the latter to be suffering from a mild mental school. He was later enrolled in a vocational course at Don Bosco which he
deficiency.10 Consequent thereto, the Aguirre spouses transferred Larry to St. John was unable to continue. There has been no reported behavioral problems in
Ma. Vianney, an educational institution for special children. school and he gets along relatively well with his teachers and some of his
classmates.
In November of 2001, respondent Dr. Agatep, a urologist/surgeon, was approached
concerning the intention to have Larry, then 24 years of age, vasectomized. Prior to Larry grew up with a very supportive adoptive family. He is the youngest in
performing the procedure on the intended patient, respondent Dr. Agatep required the family of four sisters. Currently, his adoptive parents are already old and
that Larry be evaluated by a psychiatrist in order to confirm and validate whether or have medical problem and thus, they could no longer monitor and take care
not the former could validly give his consent to the medical procedure on account of of him like before. His adoptive mother has Bipolar Mood Disorder and
his mental deficiency. used to physically maltreat him. A year ago, he had an episode of dizziness,
vomiting and headaches after he was hit by his adoptive mother. Consult
In view of the required psychiatric clearance, Larry was brought to respondent Dr. was done in Makati Medical Center and several tests were done, results of
Pascual, a psychiatrist, for evaluation. In a psychiatric report dated 21 January 2002, which were consistent with his developmental problem. There was no
respondent Dr. Pascual made the following recommendation: evidence of acute insults. The family subsequently decided that he should
stay with one of his sisters to avoid similar incident and the possibility that
he would retaliate although he has never hurt anybody. There has been no
[T]he responsibility of decision making may be given to his parent or
episode of violent outburst or aggressive behavior. He would often keep to
guardian.11
himself when sad, angry or frustrated.
the full text of which reads
He is currently employed in the company of his sister and given assignment
to do some photocopying, usually in the mornings. He enjoys playing
PSYCHIATRY REPORT billiards and basketball with his nephews and, he spends most of his leisure
time watching TV and listening to music. He could perform activities of
21 January 2002 daily living without assistance except that he still needs supervision in
taking a bath. He cannot prepare his own meal and never allowed to go out
GENERAL DATA and run errands alone. He does not have friends and it is only his adoptive
family whom he has significant relationships. He claims that he once had a
LAUREANO AGUIRRE, 24 years old, male, high school graduate of St. girlfriend when he was in high school who was more like a best friend to
John [Marie Vianney], was referred for psychiatric evaluation to determine him. He never had sexual relations. He has learned to smoke and drink
competency to give consent for vasectomy. alcohol few years ago through his cousins and the drivers. There is no
history of abuse of alcohol or any prohibited substances.
CLINICAL SUMMARY
MEDICAL STATUS EXAMINATION
Larry was adopted at age 3 from an orphanage and prenatal history is not
known to the adoptive family except that abortion was attempted.
The applicant was appropriately dressed. He was cooperative and he had adaptive functioning, direction and in making major life decisions. At his
intermittent eye contact. Speech was spontaneous, soft, and relevant. He capacity, he may never understand the nature, the foreseeable risks and
responded to questions in single words or simple sentences. He was anxious benefits, and consequences of the procedure (vasectomy) that his family
specially at the start of the interview, with full affect appropriate to mood wants for his protection. Thus, the responsibility of decision making may be
and thought content. There was no apparent thought or perceptual given to his parent or guardian.
disturbance. No suicidal/homicidal thoughts elicited. He was oriented to
time, place and person. He has intact remote and recent memory. He could
do simple calculation. He could write his name and read simple words. His Marissa B. Pascual, M.D.
human figure was comparable to a 7-8 year old. He demonstrated fair Psychiatrist12
judgment and poor insight. He had fair impulse control.
Considering the above recommendation, respondent Pedro Aguirre's written consent
PSYCHOLOGICAL TESTS was deemed sufficient in order to proceed with the conduct of the vasectomy. Hence,
on 31 January 2002, respondent Dr. Agatep performed a bilateral vasectomy on
Psychological tests done on March 6, 1990 (Dr. Lourdes Ledesma) and on Larry.
August 4, 2000 (Dr. Ma. Teresa Gustilo-Villaosor) consistently revealed
mild to moderate mental deficiency. On 11 June 2002, petitioner Gloria Aguirre, respondent Pedro Aguirre's eldest child,
instituted a criminal complaint for the violation of the Revised Penal Code,
SIGNIFICANT LABORATORY EXAMS RESULTS particularly Articles 172 and 262, both in relation to Republic Act No. 7610 against
respondents Pedro Aguirre, Olondriz, Dr. Agatep, Dr. Pascual and several John/Jane
CT scan done 09 January 2001 showed nonspecific right deep parietal Does before the Office of the City Prosecutor of Quezon City.
subcortical malacia. No localized mass lesion in the brain.
The Complaint Affidavit,13 docketed as I.S. No. 02-12466, contained the following
MRI done on 10 January 2001 showed bilateral parietal x x x volume loss, allegations:
encephalomalacia, gliosis and ulegyria consistent with sequela of postnatal
or neonatal infarcts. Ex-vacuo dilatation of the atria of lateral ventricles 2. x x x Dr. Agatep and Dra. Pascual were (sic) medical practitioners
associated thinned posterior half of the corpus callosum. specializing in urology and psychiatry respectively; while respondent Pedro
B. Aguirre is my father; Michelina S. Aguirre-Olondriz is my sister, and the
ASSESSMENT AND RECOMMENDATION victim Laureano "Larry" Aguirre xxx is my common law brother. JOHN
and JANE DOES were the persons who, acting upon the apparent
instructions of respondents Michelina Aguirre-Olondriz and/or Pedro B.
Axis I None
Aguirre, actually scouted, prospected, facilitated, solicited and/or procured
the medical services of respondents Dra. Pascual and Dr. Agatep vis--vis
Axis II Mental Retardation, mild to moderate type the intended mutilation via bilateral vasectomy of my common law brother
Larry Aguirre subject hereof.
Axis III None
xxxx
Axis IV None at present
4. Sometime in March 2002, however, the Heart of Mary Villa of the Good
Axis V Current GAF = 50-60 Shepherd Sisters was furnished a copy of respondent Dra. Pascual's
Psychiatry Report dated 21 January 2004 by the "DSWD," in which my
Larry's mental deficiency could be associated with possible perinatal common law brother "Larry" was falsely and maliciously declared
insults, which is consistent with the neuroimaging findings. Mental incompetent and incapable of purportedly giving his own consent to the
retardation associated with neurological problems usually has poorer MUTILATION VIA BILATERAL VASECTOMY intended to be
prognosis. Larry is very much dependent on his family for his needs, performed on him by all the respondents.
xxxx his instructions and accompanied my brother to the physician, respondents
Dra. Marissa B. Pascual x x x.
6. Based on the foregoing charade and false pretenses invariably committed
by all of the respondents in conspiracy with each other, on 31 January 2002, xxxx
my common law brother Larry Aguirre, although of legal age but
conspiratorially caused to be declared by respondents to be "mentally 10. Neither does the Complaint explain in what manner the Complainant is
deficient" and incompetent to give consent to his BILATERAL authorized or has any standing to declare that Larry's consent was not
VASECTOMY, was then intentionally, unlawfully, maliciously, feloniously obtained. Complainant is not the guardian or relative of Larry. While she
and/or criminally placed thereafter under surgery for MUTILATION VIA argues that Larry's consent should have been obtained the Complaint does
"BILATERAL VASECTOMY" x x x, EVEN WITHOUT ANY not dispute the psychiatrist's findings about Larry's inability to give consent.
AUTHORIZATION ORDER from the GUARDIANSHIP COURT, nor
personal consent of Larry Aguirre himself. xxxx

In addition to the above, the complaint included therein an allegation that 13. x x x the Complaint does not even state what alleged participation was
falsified or the portion of the psychiatric report that allegedly states that
v. x x x without a PRIOR medical examination, professional interview of someone participated when in fact that person did not so participate.
nor verification and consultation with my mother, Lourdes Sabino-Aguirre,
respondent Dra. Pascual baselessly, fraudulently and with obvious intent to xxxx
defame and malign her reputation and honor, and worse, that of our Sabido
family, falsely concluded and diagnosed, via her falsified Psychiatry
Report, that my mother Lourdes Sabido-Aguirre purportedly suffers from 15. Again, I had no participation in the preparation of the report of Dr.
"BIPOLAR MOOD DISORDER" x x x. Pascual x x x.

To answer petitioner Gloria Aguirre's accusations against them, respondents Pedro xxxx
Aguirre, Olondriz, Dr. Agatep and Dr. Pascual submitted their respective Counter-
Affidavits. 17. x x x the Complaint does not dispute that he (Larry) is mentally
deficient or incompetent to give consent.
In her defense,14 respondent Olondriz denied that she "prospected, scouted,
facilitated, solicited and/or procured any false statement, mutilated or abused" her xxxx
common-law brother, Larry Aguirre. Further, she countered that:
19. x x x I verified that the effect of a vasectomy operation was explained to
3. x x x While I am aware and admit that Larry went through a vasectomy him (Larry) by both respondent doctors.
procedure, there is nothing in the Complaint which explains how the
vasectomy amounts to a mutilation. 20. x x x I accompanied Larry and obeyed my father on the belief that my
father continues to be the legal guardian of Larry. I know of no one else
xxxx who asserts to be his legal guardian x x x. 15

5. In any case, as I did not perform the vasectomy, I can state with complete Alleging the same statement of facts and defenses, respondent Pedro Aguirre argues
confidence that I did not participate in any way in the alleged mutilation. against his complicity in the crime of mutilation as charged and asserts that:

6. Neither did I procure or solicit the services of the physician who 5. In any case, as I did not perform the vasectomy, I can state with complete
performed the vasectomy, Dr. Juvido Agatep x x x. It was my father, Pedro confidence that I did not participate in any way in the alleged mutilation. 16
Aguirre, Larry's guardian, who obtained his services. I merely acted upon
Nevertheless, he maintains that the vasectomy performed on Larry does not in any (b) x x x I scheduled Larry for consultative interview x x x wherein I
way amount to mutilation, as the latter's reproductive organ is still completely painstakingly explained what vasectomy is and the consequences thereof;
intact.17 In any case, respondent Pedro Aguirre explains that the procedure performed but finding signs of mental deficiency, x x x I advised his relatives and his
is reversible through another procedure called Vasovasostomy, to wit: nurse who accompanied him to have Larry examined by a psychiatrist who
could properly determine whether or not Larry x x x can really give his
8. I understand that vasectomy is reversible through a procedure called consent, thus I required them to secure first a psychiatric evaluation and
Vasovasostomy. I can also state with confidence that the procedure enables clearance prior to the contemplated procedure.
men who have undergone a vasectomy to sire a child. Hence, no permanent
damage was caused by the procedure. (c) On January 21, 2002, I was furnished a copy of a psychiatric report
prepared by Dr. Marissa Pascual x x x. In her said report, Dr. Pascual found
Respondent Pedro Aguirre challenges the charge of falsification in the complaint, to Larry to suffer from "mental retardation, mild to moderate type" and further
wit: stated that "at his capacity, he may never understand the nature, the
foreseeable risks and benefits and consequences of the procedure
(vasectomy) x x x, thus the responsibility of decision making may be given
14. x x x I did not make it appear that any person participated in any act or
to his parent or guardian x x x."
proceeding when that person did not in fact participate x x x.

(d) x x x I was likewise furnished a copy of an affidavit executed by Pedro


xxxx
Aguirre stating that he was the legal guardian of Larry x x x Pedro Aguirre
gave his consent to vasectomize Larry x x x.
16. x x x I had no participation in the preparation of the report of Dra.
Pascual. She arrived at her report independently, using her own professional
(e) Only then, specifically January 31, 2002, vasectomy was performed with
judgment x x x.
utmost care and diligence.19
xxxx
In defense against the charge of falsification and mutilation, respondent Dr. Agatep
argued that subject complaint should be dismissed for the following reasons:
31. What I cannot understand about Petita's Complaint is how Larry is
argued to be legally a child under the definition of one law but nonetheless
1. The complainant has no legal personality to file this case. As mentioned
and simultaneously argued to be capacitated to give his consent as fully as
above, she is only a common law sister of Larry who has a legal guardian in
an adult.18
the person of Pedro Aguirre, one of the herein respondents x x x.
Respondent Pedro Aguirre further clarifies that co-guardianship over Larry had been
2. x x x [t]he allegations in the complaint clearly centers on the condition of
granted to himself and his wife, Lourdes Aguirre, way back on 19 June 1986 by the
complainant's mother, Lourdes Aguirre, her reputation, and miserably fails
Regional Trial Court, Branch 3 of Balanga, Bataan. Respondent Pedro Aguirre
to implicate the degree of participation of herein respondent. x x x
contends that being one of the legal guardians, consequently, parental authority over
Larry is vested in him. But assuming for the sake of argument that Larry does have
the capacity to make the decision concerning his vasectomy, respondent Pedro xxxx
Aguirre argues that petitioner Gloria Aguirre has no legal personality to institute the
subject criminal complaint, for only Larry would have the right to do so. (b) Falsification. x x x I strongly aver that this felony does not apply to me
since it clearly gives reference to co-respondent, Dr. Marissa Pascual's
Just as the two preceding respondents did, respondent Dr. Agatep also disputed the Psychiatry Report, dated January 21, 2002, in relation with her field of
allegations of facts stated in the Complaint. Adopting the allegations of his co- profession, an expert opinion. I do not have any participation in the
respondents insofar as they were material to the charges against him, he vehemently preparation of said report, x x x neither did I utilized (sic) the same in any
denied failing to inform Larry of the intended procedure. In his counter-statement of proceedings to the damage to another. x x x I also deny using a falsified
facts he averred that: document x x x.
(c) Mutilation. x x x Vasectomy does not in anyway equate to castration and The Assistant City Prosecutor held that the circumstances attendant to the case did
what is touched in vasectomy is not considered an organ in the context of not amount to the crime of falsification. He held that
law and medicine, it is quite remote from the penis x x x.
[T]he claim of the complainant that the Psychiatric Report was falsified,
(d) Child Abuse. x x x the complaint-affidavit is very vague in specifying because consent was not given by Larry Aguirre to the vasectomy and/or he
the applicability of said law. It merely avers that Laureano "Larry" Aguirre was not consulted on said operation does not constitute falsification. It
is a child, and alleges his father, Pedro Aguirre, has parental authority over would have been different if it was stated in the report that consent was
him x x x.20 obtained from Larry Aguirre or that it was written therein that he was
consulted on the vasectomy, because that would mean that it was made to
Similarly, respondent Dr. Pascual denied the criminal charges of falsification and appear in the report that Larry Aguirre participated in the act or proceeding
mutilation imputed to her. She stands by the contents of the assailed Psychiatric by giving his consent or was consulted on the matter when in truth and in
Report, justifying it thus: fact, he did not participate. Or if not, the entry would have been an
untruthful statement. But that is not the case. Precisely (sic) the report was
made to determine whether Larry Aguirre could give his consent to his
x x x My opinion of Larry Aguirre's mental status was based on my own
intended vasectomy. Be that as it may, the matter of Larry's consent having
personal observations, his responses during my interview of him, the results
obtained or not may nor be an issue after all, because complainant's (sic)
of the two (2) psychological tests conducted by clinical psychologists, the
herself alleged that Larry's mental condition is that of a child, who can not
results of laboratory tests, including a CT Scan and MRI, and his personal
give consent. Based on the foregoing consideration, no falsification can be
and family history which I obtained from his sister, Michelina Aguirre-
established under the circumstances.22
Olondriz x x x.

Even the statement in the Psychiatric Report of respondent Dr. Pascual that Lourdes
5. x x x the reference in my report concerning Mrs. Lourdes Aguirre is not a
Aguirre had Bipolar Mood Disorder cannot be considered falsification since
statement of my opinion of Mrs. Aguirre's mental status, x x x. Rather, it is
part of the patient's personal and family history as conveyed to me by Mrs.
Aguirre-Olondriz. The report did not state that Lourdes Aguirre was in fact personally
interviewed by respondent Dr. Pascual and that the latter concluded that
Lourdes Aguirre has Bipolar Mood Disorder. The report merely quoted
6. x x x An expression of my opinion, especially of an expert opinion,
other sources of information with respect to the condition of Lourdes
cannot give rise to a charge for falsification. A contrary opinion by another
Aguirre, in the same manner that the fact that Lourdes Aguirre was
expert only means that the experts differ, and does not necessarily reflect on
physically abusing Larry Aguirre was also not of Dra. Pascual personal
the truth or falsity of either opinion x x x.
knowledge. But the fact that Dra. Pascual cited finding, which is not of her
own personal knowledge in her report does not mean that she committed
7. x x x I never stated that I examined Mrs. Aguirre, because I never did x x falsification in the process. Her sources may be wrong and may affect the
x. veracity of her report, but for as long as she has not alleged therein that she
personally diagnosed Lourdes Aguirre, which allegation would not then be
8. I had no participation in the surgery performed on Larry Aguirre except true, she cannot be charged of falsification. Therefore, it goes without
to render an opinion on his capacity to give informed consent to the saying that if the author of the report is not guilty, then with more reason
vasectomy x x x. the other respondents are not liable.23

9. Without admitting the merits of the complaint, I submit that complainants Respecting the charge of mutilation, the Assistant City Prosecutor also held that the
are not the proper persons to subscribe to the same as they are not the facts alleged did not amount to the crime of mutilation as defined and penalized
offended party, peace officer or other public officer charged with the under Article 262 of the Revised Penal Code, i.e., "[t]he vasectomy operation did not
enforcement of the law violated x x x.21 in any way deprived (sic) Larry of his reproductive organ, which is still very much
part of his physical self." He ratiocinated that:
While the operation renders him the inability (sic) to procreate, the WHEREFORE, premises considered, the present petition is hereby
operation is reversible and therefore, cannot be the permanent damage DENIED DUE COURSE and accordingly DISMISSED for lack of merit.
contemplated under Article 262 of the Revised Penal Code. 24 Consequently, the assailed Resolutions dated February 11, 2004 and
November 12, 2004 of the Secretary of Justice in I.S. No. 02-12466 are
The Assistant City Prosecutor,25 in a Resolution26 dated 8 January 2003, found no hereby AFFIRMED.30
probable cause to hold respondents Pedro Aguirre, Olondriz, Dr. Agatep and Dr.
Pascual liable for the complaint of falsification and mutilation, more specifically, the Petitioner Gloria Aguirre's motion for reconsideration proved futile as it was denied
violation of Articles 172 and 262 of the Revised Penal Code, in relation to Republic by the appellate court in a Resolution dated 5 December 2005.
Act No. 7610. Accordingly, the Assistant City Prosecutor recommended the
dismissal of petitioner Gloria Aguirre's complaint for insufficiency of evidence. The Hence, the present petition filed under Rule 45 of the Rules of Court, as amended,
dispositive portion of the resolution reads: premised on the following arguments:

WHEREFORE, it is recommended that the above-entitled case be dismissed I.


for insufficiency of evidence.27
THE COURT OF APPEALS COMMITTED SERIOUS, GRAVE AND
On 18 February 2003, petitioner Gloria Aguirre appealed the foregoing resolution to REVERSIBLE ERRORS OF LAW WHEN IT CONCLUDED, BASED
the Secretary of the DOJ by means of a Petition for Review. 28 PURPORTEDLY ON THE INTERNET WHICH RUNS AMUCK WITH
OUR SYSTEM OF THE RULE OF LAW AND THE EVIDENCE ON
In a Resolution dated 11 February 2004, Chief State Prosecutor Jovencito R. Zuo, RECORD, THAT BILATERAL VASECTOMY IS PURPORTEDLY
for the Secretary of the DOJ, dismissed the petition. In resolving said appeal, the 100% REVERSIBLE BY A FUTURE MEDICAL PROCEDURE HENCE
Chief State Prosecutor held that: NOT AMOUNTING TO MUTILATION, X X X; AND

Under Section 12, in relation to Section 7, of Department Circular No. 70 xxxx


dated July 3, 2000, the Secretary of Justice may, motu proprio, dismiss
outright the petition if there is no showing of any reversible error in the II.
questioned resolution or finds the same to be patently without merit.
WORSE, THE COURT OF APPEALS COMMITTED GRAVE, SERIOUS
We carefully examined the petition and its attachments and found no error AND REVERSIBLE ERRORS OF LAW WHEN IT REFUSED TO
that would justify a reversal of the assailed resolution which is in accord DIRECT THE INDICTMENT OF THE PRIVATE RESPONDENTS FOR
with the law and evidenced (sic) on the matter.29 MUTILATION AND FALSIFICATION DESPITE THE EXISTENCE OF
SUFFICIENT PROBABLE CAUSE THEREFOR X X X.31
Petitioner Gloria Aguirre's Motion for Reconsideration was likewise denied with
finality by the DOJ in another Resolution dated 12 November 2004. The foregoing issues notwithstanding, the more proper issue for this Court's
consideration is, given the facts of the case, whether or not the Court of Appeals
Resolute in her belief, petitioner Gloria Aguirre went to the Court of Appeals by erred in ruling that the DOJ did not commit grave abuse of discretion amounting to
means of a Petition for Certiorari, Prohibition and Mandamus under Rule 65 of the lack or excess of jurisdiction when the latter affirmed the public prosecutor's finding
Rules of Court, as amended. of lack of probable cause for respondents Pedro Aguirre, Olondriz, Dr. Agatep and
Dr. Pascual to stand trial for the criminal complaints of falsification and mutilation in
On 21 July 2005, the Court of Appeals promulgated its Decision dismissing relation to Republic Act No. 7610.
petitioner Gloria Aguirre's recourse for lack of merit.
In ruling that the DOJ did not commit grave abuse of discretion amounting to lack or
The fallo of the assailed decision reads: excess of jurisdiction, the Court of Appeals explained that:
Evidently, the controversy lies in the permanency of sterilization as a result organ necessary for generation is completely absent as he was not deprived of any
of a vasectomy operation, and the chances of restoring fertility with a organ necessary for reproduction, much less the destruction of such organ."38
reversal surgery x x x.
Likewise, in support of the decision of the Court of Appeals, respondents Pedro
We sustain the DOJ in ruling that the bilateral vasectomy performed on Aguirre and Olondriz assert that, fundamentally, petitioner Gloria Aguirre has no
Larry does not constitute mutilation even if intentionally and purposely standing to file the complaint, as she has not shown any injury to her person or
done to prevent him from siring a child. asserted any relationship with Larry other than being his "common law sister";
further, that she cannot prosecute the present case, as she has not been authorized by
xxxx law to file said complaint, not being the offended party, a peace officer or a public
officer charged with the enforcement of the law. Accordingly, respondents Pedro
Aguirre and Olondriz posit that they, together with the other respondents Dr. Agatep
Sterilization is to be distinguished from castration: in the latter act the
and Dr. Pascual, may not be charged with, prosecuted for and ultimately convicted
reproductive capacity is permanently removed or damaged.32
of: 1) "mutilation x x x since the bilateral vasectomy conducted on Larry does not
involve castration or amputation of an organ necessary for reproduction as the twin
It then concluded that: elements of the crime of mutilation x x x are absent"39; and 2) "falsification x x x
since the acts allegedly constituting falsification involve matters of medical opinion
The matter of legal liability, other than criminal, which private respondents and not matters of fact,"40 and that petitioner Gloria Aguirre failed to prove damage
may have incurred for the alleged absence of a valid consent to the to herself or to any other person.
vasectomy performed on Larry, is certainly beyond the province of this
certiorari petition. Out task is confined to the issue of whether or not the Respondent Dr. Agatep, in the same vein, stresses that vasectomy is not mutilation.
Secretary of Justice and the Office of the City Prosecutor of Quezon City He elucidates that vasectomy is merely the "excision of the vas deferens, the duct in
committed grave abuse of discretion in their determining the existence or testis which transport semen"41; that it is the penis and the testis that make up the
absence of probable cause for filing criminal cases for falsification and male reproductive organ and not the vas deferens; and additionally argues that for the
mutilation under Articles 172 (2) and 262 of the Revised Penal Code.33 crime of mutilation to be accomplished, Article 262 of the Revised Penal Code
necessitates that there be intentional total or partial deprivation of some essential
Petitioner Gloria Aguirre, however, contends that the Court of Appeals and the DOJ organ for reproduction. Tubes, seminal ducts, vas deferens or prostatic urethra not
failed to appreciate several important facts: 1) that bilateral vasectomy conducted on being organs, respondent Dr. Agatep concludes, therefore, that vasectomy does not
petitioner's brother, Larry Aguirre, was admitted34; 2) that the procedure caused the correspond to mutilation.
perpetual destruction of Larry's reproductive organs of generation or conception;35 3)
that the bilateral vasectomy was intentional and deliberate to deprive Larry forever Anent the charge of falsification of a private document, respondent Dr. Agatep
of his reproductive organ and his capacity to procreate; and 4) that respondents, "in asseverates that he never took part in disclosing any information, data or facts as
conspiracy with one another, made not only one but two (2) untruthful statements, contained in the contentious Psychiatric Report.
and not mere inaccuracies when they made it appear in the psychiatry report"36 that
a) Larry's consent was obtained or at the very least that the latter was informed of the
For her part, respondent Dr. Pascual insists that the assailed Psychiatry Report was
intended vasectomy; and b) that Lourdes Aguirre was likewise interviewed and
the result of her independent exercise of professional judgment. "Rightly or wrongly,
evaluated. Paradoxically, however, petitioner Gloria Aguirre does not in any way
(she) diagnosed Larry Aguirre to be incapable of giving consent, based on interviews
state that she, instead of respondent Pedro Aguirre, has guardianship over the person
made by the psychiatrist on Larry Aguirre and persons who interacted with him."42
of Larry. She only insists that respondents should have obtained Larry's consent prior
And supposing that said report is flawed, it is, at most, an erroneous medical
to the conduct of the bilateral vasectomy.
diagnosis.
In contrast, the Office of the Solicitor General (OSG), for public respondent DOJ,
The petition has no merit.
argues that "the conduct of preliminary investigation to determine the existence of
probable cause for the purpose of filing (an) information is the function of the public
prosecutor."37 More importantly, "the element[s] of castration or mutilation of an Probable cause has been defined as the existence of such facts and circumstances as
would excite belief in a reasonable mind, acting on the facts within the knowledge of
the prosecutor, that the person charged was guilty of the crime for which he was jurisdiction signifies that he had jurisdiction over the case but has transcended the
prosecuted.43 The term does not mean "actual and positive cause" nor does it import same or acted without authority.52
absolute certainty.44 It is merely based on opinion and reasonable belief;45 that is, the
belief that the act or omission complained of constitutes the offense charged. A Applying the foregoing disquisition to the present petition, the reasons of the
finding of probable cause merely binds over the suspect to stand trial. It is not a Assistant City Prosecutor in dismissing the criminal complaints for falsification and
pronouncement of guilt.46 mutilation, as affirmed by the DOJ, is determinative of whether or not he committed
grave abuse of discretion amounting to lack or excess of jurisdiction.
The executive department of the government is accountable for the prosecution of
crimes, its principal obligation being the faithful execution of the laws of the land. A In ruling the way he did that no probable cause for falsification and mutilation
necessary component of the power to execute the laws is the right to prosecute their exists - the Assistant City Prosecutor deliberated on the factual and legal milieu of
violators,47 the responsibility of which is thrust upon the DOJ. Hence, the the case. He found that there was no sufficient evidence to establish a prima facie
determination of whether or not probable cause exists to warrant the prosecution in case for the crimes complained of as defined and punished under Articles 172,
court of an accused is consigned and entrusted to the DOJ. And by the nature of his paragraph 2, and 262 of the Revised Penal Code in relation to Republic Act No.
office, a public prosecutor is under no compulsion to file a particular criminal 7610, respectively. Concerning the crime of falsification of a private document, the
information where he is not convinced that he has evidence to prop up the averments Assistant City Prosecutor reasoned that the circumstances attendant to the case did
thereof, or that the evidence at hand points to a different conclusion. not amount to the crime complained of, that is, the lack of consent by Larry Aguirre
before he was vasectomized; or the fact that the latter was not consulted. The lack of
Put simply, public prosecutors under the DOJ have a wide range of discretion, the the two preceding attendant facts do not in any way amount to falsification, absent
discretion of whether, what and whom to charge, the exercise of which depends on a the contention that it was made to appear in the assailed report that said consent was
smorgasbord of factors which are best appreciated by (public) prosecutors.48 And this obtained. That would have been an untruthful statement. Neither does the fact that
Court has consistently adhered to the policy of non-interference in the conduct of the Psychiatric Report state that Lourdes Aguirre has Bipolar Mood Disorder by the
preliminary investigations, and to leave to the investigating prosecutor sufficient same token amount to falsification because said report does not put forward that such
latitude of discretion in the determination of what constitutes sufficient evidence as finding arose after an examination of the concerned patient. Apropos the charge of
will establish probable cause for the filing of an information against the supposed mutilation, he reasoned that though the vasectomy rendered Larry unable to
offender.49 procreate, it was not the permanent damage contemplated under the pertinent
provision of the penal code.
But this is not to discount the possibility of the commission of abuses on the part of
the prosecutor. It is entirely possible that the investigating prosecutor may We agree. Grave abuse of discretion amounting to lack or excess of jurisdiction on
erroneously exercise the discretion lodged in him by law. This, however, does not the part of the DOJ and the Assistant City Prosecutor was not shown in the present
render his act amenable to correction and annulment by the extraordinary remedy of case.
certiorari, absent any showing of grave abuse of discretion amounting to excess of
jurisdiction.50 In the present petition, respondents Pedro Aguirre, Olondriz, Dr. Agatep and Dr.
Pascual are charged with violating Articles 172 and 262 of the Revised Penal Code,
Prescinding from the above, the court's duty in an appropriate case, therefore, is in relation to Republic Act No. 7610. Article 172, paragraph 2 of the Revised Penal
confined to a determination of whether the assailed executive determination of Code, defines the crime of falsification of a private document, viz
probable cause was done without or in excess of jurisdiction resulting from a grave
abuse of discretion. For courts of law to grant the extraordinary writ of certiorari, so Art. 172. Falsification by private individuals and use of falsified
as to justify the reversal of the finding of whether or not there exists probable cause documents. The penalty of prision correccional in its medium and
to file an information, the one seeking the writ must be able to establish that the maximum periods and a fine of not more than 5,000 pesos shall be imposed
investigating prosecutor exercised his power in an arbitrary and despotic manner by upon:
reason of passion or personal hostility, and it must be patent and gross as would
amount to an evasion or to a unilateral refusal to perform the duty enjoined or to act xxxx
in contemplation of law. Grave abuse of discretion is not enough. 51 Excess of
2. Any person who, to the damage of a third party, or with the intent to In order to properly address the issue presented by petitioner Gloria Aguirre, it is
cause such damage, shall in any private document commit any of the acts of necessary that we discuss the elements of the crime of falsification of private
falsification enumerated in the next preceding article. document under the Revised Penal Code, a crime which all the respondents have
been accused of perpetrating. The elements of said crime under paragraph 2 of
Petitioner Gloria Aguirre charges respondents with falsification of a private Article 172 of our penal code are as follows: 1) that the offender committed any acts
document for conspiring with one another in keeping Larry "in the dark about the of falsification, except those in par. 7, enumerated in Article 171; 2) that the
foregoing (vasectomy) as the same was concealed from him by the respondents x x falsification was committed in any private document; and 3) that the falsification
x,"53 as well as for falsely concluding and diagnosing Lourdes Aguirre to be caused damage to a third party or at least the falsification was committed with intent
suffering from Bipolar Mood Disorder. to cause such damage. Under Article 171, paragraph 2, a person may commit
falsification of a private document by causing it to appear in a document that a
person or persons participated in an act or proceeding, when such person or persons
A scrutiny, however, of Article 171 of the Revised Penal Code which defines the
did not in fact so participate in the act or proceeding. On the other hand, falsification
acts constitutive of falsification, that is
under par. 3 of the same article is perpetrated by a person or persons who,
participating in an act or proceeding, made statements in that act or proceeding and
Art. 171. x x x shall falsify a document by committing any of the following the offender, in making a document, attributed to such person or persons statements
acts: other than those in fact made by such person or persons. And the crime defined
under paragraph 4 thereof is committed when 1) the offender makes in a document
1. Counterfeiting or imitating any handwriting, signature, or rubric; statements in a narration of facts; 2) he has a legal obligation to disclose the truth of
the facts narrated by him; 3) the facts narrated by the offender are absolutely false;
2. Causing it to appear that persons have participated in any act or and 4) the perversion of truth in the narration of facts was made with the wrongful
proceeding when they did not in fact so participate; intent of injuring a third person.

3. Attributing to persons who have participated in an act or Applying the above-stated elements of the crime to the case at bar, in order that
proceeding statements other than those in fact made by them; respondent Dr. Pascual, and the rest acting in conspiracy with her, to have committed
the crime of falsification under par. 3 and 4 of Article 171 of the Revised Penal
4. Making untruthful statements in a narration of facts; Code, it is essential that that there be prima facie evidence to show that she had
caused it to appear that Larry gave his consent to be vasectomized or at the very
least, that the proposed medical procedure was explained to Larry. But in the assailed
5. Altering true dates;
report, no such thing was done. Lest it be forgotten, the reason for having Larry
psychiatrically evaluated was precisely to ascertain whether or not he can validly
6. Making any alteration or intercalation in a genuine document consent with impunity to the proposed vasectomy, and not to obtain his consent to it
which changes its meaning; or to oblige respondent Dr. Pascual to explain to him what the import of the medical
procedure was. Further, that Larry's consent to be vasectomized was not obtained by
7. Issuing in an authenticated form a document purporting to be a the psychiatrist was of no moment, because nowhere is it stated in said report that
copy of an original document when no such original exists, or such assent was obtained. At any rate, petitioner Gloria Aguirre contradicts her very
including in such copy a statement contrary to, or different from, own allegations when she persists in the contention that Larry has the mental age of a
that of the genuine original; or child; hence, he was legally incapable of validly consenting to the procedure.

8. Intercalating any instrument or note relative to the issuance In the matter of the supposed incorrect diagnosis of Lourdes Aguirre, with regard to
thereof in a protocol, registry, or official book. paragraph 2 of Article 171 of the Revised Penal Code, we quote with approval the
succinct statements of the Assistant City Prosecutor:
vis--vis the much criticized Psychiatric Report, shows that the acts complained of
do not in any manner, by whatever stretch of the imagination, fall under any of the [T]he fact that Dra. Pascual cited finding, which is not of her own personal
eight (8) enumerated acts constituting the offense of falsification. knowledge in her report does not mean that she committed falsification in
the process. Her sources may be wrong and may affect the veracity of her
report, but for as long as she has not alleged therein that she personally shall intentionally deprived another of any organ necessary for
diagnosed Lourdes Aguirre, which allegation would not then be true, she reproduction. An applicable construction is that of Viada in the following
cannot be charged of falsification. Therefore, it goes without saying that if language:
the author of the report is not guilty, then with more reason the other
respondents are not liable.54 "At the head of these crimes, according to their order of gravity, is the
mutilation known by the name of 'castration' which consists of the
As to the charge of mutilation, Art. 262 of the Revised Penal Code defines the crime amputation of whatever organ is necessary for generation. The law could
as not fail to punish with the utmost severity such a crime, which, although not
destroying life, deprives a person of the means to transmit it. But bear in
Art. 262. Mutilation. The penalty of reclusion temporal to reclusion mind that according to this article in order for 'castration' to exist, it is
perpetua shall be imposed upon any person who shall intentionally mutilate indispensable that the 'castration' be made purposely. The law does not look
another by depriving him, either totally or partially, of some essential organ only to the result but also to the intention of the act. Consequently, if by
for reproduction. reason of an injury or attack, a person is deprived of the organs of
generation, the act, although voluntary, not being intentional to that end, it
would not come under the provisions of this article, but under No. 2 of
Any other intentional mutilation shall be punished by prision mayor in its
article 431." (Viada, Codigo Penal, vol. 3, p. 70. See to same effect, 4
medium and maximum periods.
Groizard, Codigo Penal, p. 525.)
A straightforward scrutiny of the above provision shows that the elements 55 of
Thus, the question is, does vasectomy deprive a man, totally or partially, of some
mutilation under the first paragraph of Art. 262 of the Revised Penal Code to be 1)
essential organ of reproduction? We answer in the negative.
that there be a castration, that is, mutilation of organs necessary for generation; and
2) that the mutilation is caused purposely and deliberately, that is, to deprive the
offended party of some essential organ for reproduction. According to the public In the male sterilization procedure of vasectomy, the tubular passage, called the vas
prosecutor, the facts alleged did not amount to the crime of mutilation as defined and deferens, through which the sperm (cells) are transported from the testicle to the
penalized above, i.e., "[t]he vasectomy operation did not in any way deprived (sic) urethra where they combine with the seminal fluid to form the ejaculant, is divided
Larry of his reproductive organ, which is still very much part of his physical self." and the cut ends merely tied.57 That part, which is cut, that is, the vas deferens, is
Petitioner Gloria Aguirre, however, would want this Court to make a ruling that merely a passageway that is part of the duct system of the male reproductive organs.
bilateral vasectomy constitutes the crime of mutilation. The vas deferens is not an organ, i.e., a highly organized unit of structure, having a
defined function in a multicellular organism and consisting of a range of tissues. 58 Be
that as it may, even assuming arguendo that the tubular passage can be considered an
This we cannot do, for such an interpretation would be contrary to the intentions of
organ, the cutting of the vas deferens does not divest or deny a man of any essential
the framers of our penal code.
organ of reproduction for the simple reason that it does not entail the taking away of
a part or portion of the male reproductive system. The cut ends, after they have been
A fitting riposte to the issue at hand lies in United States v. Esparcia,56 in which this tied, are then dropped back into the incision. 59
Court had the occasion to shed light on the implication of the term mutilation.
Therein we said that:
Though undeniably, vasectomy denies a man his power of reproduction, such
procedure does not deprive him, "either totally or partially, of some essential organ
The sole point which it is desirable to discuss is whether or not the crime for reproduction." Notably, the ordinary usage of the term "mutilation" is the
committed is that defined and penalized by article 414 of the Penal Code. deprivation of a limb or essential part (of the body), 60 with the operative expression
The English translation of this article reads: "Any person who shall being "deprivation." In the same manner, the word "castration" is defined as the
intentionally castrate another shall suffer a penalty ranging from reclusion removal of the testies or ovaries.61 Such being the case in this present petition, the
temporal to reclusion perpetua." The Spanish text, which should govern, bilateral vasectomy done on Larry could not have amounted to the crime of
uses the word "castrare," inadequately translated into English as "castrate." mutilation as defined and punished under Article 262, paragraph 1, of the Revised
The word "capar," which is synonymous of "castrar," is defined in the Penal Code. And no criminal culpability could be foisted on to respondent Dr.
Royal Academic Dictionary as the destruction of the organs of generation or Agatep, the urologist who performed the procedure, much less the other respondents.
conception. Clearly it is the intention of the law to punish any person who
Thus, we find sufficient evidence to explain why the Assistant City Prosecutor and These are the main questions raised in this petition for review assailing the
the DOJ ruled the way they did. Verily, We agree with the Court of Appeals that the November 29, 1990 Decisionxiii[1] of the Court of Appealsxiii[2] in CA-G.R. SP
writ of certiorari is unavailing; hence, should not be issued. No. 18318, the dispositive portion of which reads:

It is once more apropos to pointedly apply the Court's general policy of non- WHEREFORE, in view of the foregoing, let this petition be, as it is hereby
interference in the conduct of preliminary investigations. As it has been oft said, the DISMISSED.xiii[3]
Supreme Court cannot order the prosecution of a person against whom the
prosecutor does not find sufficient evidence to support at least a prima facie case.62 This petition also impugns the April 25, 1991 Court of Appeals Resolutionxiii[4]
The courts try and absolve or convict the accused but, as a rule, have no part in the which denied reconsideration.
initial decision to prosecute him.63 The possible exception to this rule is where there
is an unmistakable showing of a grave abuse of discretion amounting to lack or The Facts
excess of jurisdiction that will justify judicial intrusion into the precincts of the
executive. But that is not the case herein.
The facts found by public respondent are as follows:xiii[5]
WHEREFORE, premises considered, the instant petition is DENIED for lack of
merit. The assailed 21 July 2005 Decision and 5 December 2005 Resolution, both of Petitioner is the applicant in a land registration case filed with Branch 71, Regional
the Court of Appeals in CA-G.R. SP No. 88370 are hereby AFFIRMED. Costs Trial Court of the Fourth Judicial Region stationed in Antipolo, Rizal. Sought to be
against petitioner Gloria Aguirre. brought by petitioner under the operation of the Land Registration Act (Act No. 496)
is a 96,470 square meter lot denominated as Lots 6846-A, 6846-B, 6846-C and 6846-
D. Copies of the application were ordered by respondent Court to be furnished (to)
SO ORDERED. the National Land Titles and Deeds Registration Administration (NLTDRA) which
on March 18, 1987 submitted a report recommending that applicant be order[ed] to
amend his petition by including the names and complete postal addresses of the
adjoining owners and correcting the discrepancy regarding the boundary lot number
along line 2-3 of Lot 6846-D on plan Csd-04-005516-D. On order of respondent
Court [trial court], the petition was accordingly amended.
[G.R. No. 98328. October 9, 1997]
After the NLTDRA was notified that the case is [sic] initially set for hearing on
JUAN C. CARVAJAL, petitioner, vs. COURT OF APPEALS and SOLID HOMES, December 7, 1987, the Acting Chief, Docket Division of the NLRDRA [sic]
INC., respondents. submitted another report recommending that petitioner be ordered to refer to the
Bureau of Lands for corrections of the discrepancy existing in the directional bearing
DECISION and area of Lot 6846-D, Csd-04-005516-D. The technical descriptions as corrected
by the Bureau of Lands was [sic] submitted and the application was initially set for
hearing on April 26, 1988. The Notice of Initial Hearing stating that the
PANGANIBAN, J.: application was set forbe [sic] heard on April 26, 1988 was thereafter issued by the
NLTDRA.
Is there denial of due process if an applicant for land registration is unable to testify?
May a land registration court, after it is convinced that the property subject of an On June 1, 1988, an order of general default was issued by respondent Court.
application for registration under the torrens system is already covered by an existing Exempted from the order was one Annie Jimenez who filed an opposition to the
certificate, dismiss such application and thus ignore petitioners insistence on application. On June 22, 1988, private respondent Solid Homes, Inc. filed its
submitting further evidence of his alleged title? What constitutes sufficient evidence opposition stating that a land registered in its name under the Torrens System and
to show identity of the land applied for with the land already titled in favor of private covered by then TCT No. N-7873 is almost identical to the property subject of the
respondent? application by petitioner. The opposition was not admitted considering that no
motion to set aside the order of general default was filed by private respondent.
The Case
On June 28, 1988, private respondent filed a motion to lift the order of general On May 2, 1989 petitioner filed a second motion to reconsider the dismissal of his
default and to admit its opposition on the ground that its right would be adversely petition. On May 8, 1989, respondent judge issued an order requiring the parties as
affected by the application. Acting on the motion and in order to avoid duplicity, the well as the engineers from the Land Registration Commission and the DENR to
NLTDRA was directed to make the plotting of the relative position of the property appear before respondent Court on June 5, 1989. The engineer from the Land
covered by LRC Psd-245998 and embraced in TCT No. N-7873 and to submit its Registration Commission was likewise directed to inform the court whether the
plotting to the Court for its guidance. In the same order dated July 1, 1988, property applied for by petitioner is indeed inside the titled property of private
respondent Court in the interest of justice set aside the order of general default in so respondent.
far as private respondent was concerned and admitted private respondents
opposition. After the Land Registration Authority submitted a report showing that there was
indeed an overlapping of the four (4) parcels of land applied for by petitioner and the
On January 10, 1989, petitioner filed a motion praying that the opposition of private properties of Solid Homes under TCT 7873 and considering that the properties
respondent be dismissed for the reason that the order issued by respondent court applied for are [sic] within the titled property and could not be the subject of an
directing the NLRTDA [sic] to make a plotting of the land in question on the basis of application for registration, the second motion to reconsider the dismissal of the
the title submitted by the Registry of Deeds of Marikina Branch Manila released the application for registration was denied in an order dated July 5, 1989.
private respondent from the duty and obligation of presenting evidence to prove that
the land applied for is private and that there is apparent lack of interest on the part of As earlier stated, the Court of Appeals affirmed the dismissal of the application for
private respondent to pursue its claim on account of its non-appearance despite the registration, and denied the subsequent motion for reconsideration. Hence, this
lapse of more than six months or to introduce evidence that will show that the land in recourse to this Court via Rule 45 of the Rules of Court.
question is covered by the alleged torrens certificate of title.
The Issues
During the hearings conducted on September 13, 1988, September 27, 1988, October
4, 1988, October 11, 1988, October 18, 1988, November 22, 1988, December 6, Petitioner submits the following issues:xiii[6]
1988, petitioner presented his evidence on the question as to whether or not he had a
registrable right over the land in question.
1. Whether or not an actual ground verification survey is required to establish the
identity of the two parcels of land or whether TCT No. 7873 under Plan FP-1540 of
Pursuant to the court order dated July 1, 1988 directing the NLTDRA to make the Solid Homes Inc., situated in Barangay Mayamot, Antipolo, Rizal is identical or
plotting of the relative position of the property covered by LRC Psd-245998 and similar to Lots 6846-A to 6846-D inclusive Cad. 585, Lungsod Silangan, Cadastre,
embraced in TCT No. N-7873, the Land Registration Authority submitted a report situated in Mambogan, Antipolo, Rizal applied for under LRC Case No. 414 (-A),
dated December 22, 1986 [should be 1988] recommending that, after due hearing, LRC Record No. N-60084;
the application for registration of petitioner be dismissed. The application was thus
dismissed by respondent court in an order dated January 2, 1989. Considering,
however, that the recommendation is [sic] for dismissal after due hearing, respondent 2. Whether or not the petitioner was given (the) chance and the opportunity to be
judge issued an order dated January 10, 1989 setting for hearing on January 24, 1989 heard or allowed to fully introduce his evidence in the (proceeding) for Land
the Report submitted by the Land Registration Authority. The hearing proceeded Registration and (to) rest (his) case;
on February 8, 1989 with Engr. Silverio G. Perez, Chief, Department on
Registration, Land Registration Authority being presented in connection with his 3. Whether the decision of the Honorable Court of Appeals is reversible.
Report recommending the dismissal of the application after due hearing. On
February 28, 1989, the petitioner's application for registration was dismissed. Petitioner alleges that the table survey made by the Land Registration
Authority and the geodetic engineer of the Land Management Bureau cannot serve
On March 13, 1989, petitioner filed his motion to reconsider the February 28, 1989 as basis for identifying his land. On the other hand, petitioner was able to
dismissal of the application for registration to which private respondent filed an establish the identity of the land he applied for by actual ground survey which
opposition dated March 20, 1989. The motion for reconsideration was denied in an was approved by the Director of Lands and reprocessed by the Land Registration
order dated March 4, 1989. Authority. He claims that if said land is covered by private respondents title,
the Director of Lands and/or Regional Director will no(t) approve the survey.
Petitioner also argues that the land in question is situated in Mambogan, Antipolo,
Rizal while that of private respondent is in Mayamot, Antipolo, Rizal. Survey At the outset, we stress that there was nothing irregular in the order given by the trial
Plan FP-1540, which served as basis of private respondents certificate of title, court to the Land Registration Authority and the Survey Division of the DENR to
cannot be found; hence, according to petitioner, the table survey was anomalous. submit reports on the location of the land covered by petitioners application and
Petitioner adds that the matter entirely wanting in this case (is) the identity or private respondents certificate of title. The authority of the land registration court to
similarity of the realties.xiii[7] Petitioner concludes that the trial court should require the filing of additional papers to aid it in its determination of the propriety of
have ordered actual ocular inspection and ground verification survey of the the application was based on Section 21 of PD 1529:xiii[10]
properties involved.
SEC. 21. Requirement of additional facts and papers; ocular inspection. -- The
Petitioner further maintains that he was denied due process when he, as an court may require facts to be stated in the application in addition to those prescribed
applicant in a land registration case, was not able to take the witness stand. by this Decree not inconsistent therewith and may require the filing of any additional
According to petitioner, even his counsel hardly participated in the proceeding papers. It may also conduct an ocular inspection, if necessary.
except to propound clarificatory questions during the examination of Engineer
Silverio Perez of the Land Registration Authority.xiii[8] From the above provision, it is also clear that ocular inspection of the property
applied for was only discretionary, not mandatory. Likewise, the land registration
Public respondent justified its dismissal of the appeal in this wise:xiii[9] court was not obliged to order the survey of the contested lot, especially when
another government agency had already submitted a report finding that the contested
Land already decreed and registered in an ordinary registration proceeding cannot lot was identical with that described in private respondents certificate of title and
again be subject of adjudication or settlement in a subsequent conducted proceeding recommending the dismissal of the application for registration.
(Land Titles and Deeds by Noblejas, 1968 Revised Edition, page 96). The Report
submitted by the Land Registration Authority (Annex B) and the Survey Division Further, the order of the land registration court for the LRA and DENR to submit
of the DENR (Annex RR) both indicate an overlapping of the lot applied for by reports was in accordance with the purposes of the Land Registration Law:xiii[11]
petitioner and the lot covered by TCT N-7873 owned by private respondent Solid
Homes, Inc. Even if petitioner were allowed to continue with the presentation of his The purposes of the land registration law, in general, are: to ascertain once and for
evidence, the end result would still be the dismissal of his application for all the absolute title over a given landed property; to make, so far as it is possible, a
registration. Respondent Judge was therefore justified in cutting short the certificate of title issued by the court to the owner of the land absolute proof of such
proceeding as the time to be spent in hearing petitioners application could be used title; to quiet title to the land and to put a stop forever to any question of legality to a
disposing the other cases pending with respondent court. title; and to decree that land title to be final, irrevocable and, undisputable. (citing
Benen vs. Tuason, L-26127, June 28, 1974, 57 SCRA 531.)
Anent the allegation that private respondent Solid Homes did not actively participate
in the trials conducted to hear his evidence, suffice it to state that it is counsels It is true that a court of first instance acting as a land registration court has limited
prerogative to determine how he intends to pursue his case. and special jurisdiction. It can not be denied, however, that when the law confers
jurisdiction upon a court, the latter is deemed to have all the necessary powers to
The Court's Ruling exercise such jurisdiction to make it effective. (citing Marcelino vs. Antonio, 70
Phil. 388, 391.) The purpose of the applicant is to prove that he has an absolute or
The petition has no merit. simple title over the property sought to be registered, otherwise his application will
be denied. An absolute oppositor claims a dominical right totally adverse to that of
the applicant. If successful, registration will be decreed in favor of the oppositor. As
First Issue: Identity of the Property Applied For
to whether or not private respondents have absolute or fee simple title over the
property sought to be registered necessarily requires a resolution of the question as to
We are not persuaded that the land petitioner applied for was not identical to private whether or not the oppositors had a dominical right totally adverse to that of the
respondents land which was already covered by a torrens certificate of title. The applicants. x x x
two reports prepared by the Land Registration Authority and the DENR Survey
Division clearly showed that there was an overlapping between the two properties.
Based on the reports submitted, the land registration court correctly dismissed the
Because the futility of petitioners application was apparent, the trial court deemed it
application for original land registration. An application for registration of an
unnecessary to hear further evidence. We agree.
already titled land constitutes a collateral attack on the existing title. It behooves a Petitioner also argues that the plotting made by NLTDRA was anomalous because
land registration court to determine the veracity of any and all adverse claims, Survey Plan FP-1540, on which private respondents title was based, could not be
bearing in mind Section 46 of Act No. 496 which provides that (n)o title to located. This argument lacks merit. The law does not require resorting to a survey
registered land in derogation to that of the registered owner shall be acquired by plan to prove the true boundaries of a land covered by a valid certificate of title; the
prescription or adverse possession. The trial courts order to the LRA and DENR title itself is the conclusive proof of the realtys metes and bounds. Section 47 of the
was a mere cautionary measure in cognizance of the well-settled rule that a torrens Land Registration Act, or Act No. 496, provides that (t)he original certificates in the
title cannot be collaterally attacked. In other words, the title may be challenged only registration book, any copy thereof duly certified under the signature of the clerk, or
in a proceeding for that purpose, not in an application for registration of a land of the register of deeds of the province or city where the land is situated, and the seal
already registered in the name of another person. After one year from its of the court, and also the owners duplicate certificate, shall be received as evidence
registration, the title is incontrovertible and is no longer open to review. The remedy in all the courts of the Philippine Islands and shall be conclusive as to all matters
of the landowner, whose property has been wrongfully or erroneously registered in contained therein except so far as otherwise provided in this Act. It has been held
anothers name, is to institute an ordinary action for reconveyance or -- if the that a certificate of title is conclusive evidence with respect to the ownership of the
property has passed into the hands of an innocent purchaser for value -- for land described therein and other matters which can be litigated and decided in land
damages.xiii[12] In view of the nature of a torrens title, a land registration court has registration proceedings.xiii[16] Thus, this Court in Odsigue vs. Court of
the duty to determine whether the issuance of a new certificate alters a valid and Appealsxiii[17] ruled:
existing certificate of title.
x x x. Petitioner contends that private respondents have not identified the property
Contrary to petitioners contention, the approval by the assistant chief of the Bureau sought to be recovered as required by Art. 434 of the Civil Code. He alleges that
of Lands Survey Division of the survey conducted on the land applied for by Sitio Aduas, where the land in question is located, is at the boundary of Barangay
petitioner did not prove that the said land was not covered by any title. It merely May-Iba, Teresa, Rizal, and Barangay Lagundi, Morong, Rizal. On the other hand,
showed that such land has been surveyed and its boundaries have been determined. petitioner maintains, the parcel of land he is occupying is located in Barangay May-
Iba. He claims that the technical description in the title does not sufficiently identify
Also noteworthy is the finding of public respondent that "the same order the property of private respondent and that a geodetic survey to determine which of
(issued by the land registration court) [which set] aside the order (of) general his improvements should be demolished should first have been conducted by the
default insofar as private respondent Solid Homes, Inc. was concerned, directed the private respondent. x x x.
NLTDRA to make the plotting of the relative position of the property covered by
LRC Psd-245998 and [that which was] embraced in TCT No. N-7873.xiii[13] The But private respondents title (OCT No. 4050) indicates that the property is located
intention of the land registration court was to avoid duplicity,xiii[14] that is, to in Barangay Lagundi. Likewise, the certification issued by the Municipal Agrarian
rule out the possibility that the land he sought to register was already covered by a Reform Officer at Morong, Rizal stated that petitioner was occupying a landholding
certificate of title. In this case, the land he applied for was found to be within the at Barangay Lagundi.
land described in private respondents transfer certificate of title.
For our purposes, a survey is not necessary. A certificate of title is conclusive
Petitioner also alleges that the land he applied for was located in Barangay evidence not only of ownership of the land referred but also its location. The subject
Mambogan, while the registered land of private respondent was in Barangay of these proceedings is the land covered by OCT No. 4050. Accordingly, petitioners
Mayamot. In his reply filed with public respondent, however, he himself admitted required to demolish only whatever is constructed within its boundaries.
that Barangay Mambogan is a part of Barangay Mayamot [which is] a bigger (Underscoring supplied.)
barrio in Antipolo, Rizal, and Mayamot covers a big parcel of land running from
Antipolo up to Marikina.xiii[15] In view of petitioners declaration, it was not The old case of Legarda and Prieto vs. Saleebyxiii[18] explains the nature of a
impossible for the land owned by private respondent to be located in Barangay torrens certificate of title, as follows:
Mayamot and in Barangay Mambogan. At any rate, whether the two lands are
located in Mambogan or Mayamot or both is a factual question, and its resolution x x x. The registration, under the torrens system, does not give the owner any better
by the trial and the appellate courts is binding on this Court. Petitioner failed to title than he had. If he does not already have a perfect title, he can not have it
provide a reason, let alone an adequate one, to justify the reversal of such finding registered. Fee simple titles only may be registered. The certificate of registration
of the lower courts. accumulates in one document a precise and correct statement of the exact status of
the fee held by its owner. The certificate, in the absence of fraud, is the evidence of title, or by entering a decree awarding the land applied for to the person entitled
title and shows exactly the real interest of its owner. The title once registered, with thereto.
very few exceptions, should not thereafter be impugned, altered, changed, modified,
enlarged, or diminished, except in some direct proceeding permitted by law. WHEREFORE, premises considered, the petition is hereby DENIED and the
Otherwise all security in registered titles would be lost. A registered title can not be assailed Decision and Resolution are AFFIRMED. Costs against petitioner.
altered, modified, enlarged, or diminished in a collateral proceeding and not even by
a direct proceeding, after the lapse of the period prescribed by law. SO ORDERED.

All in all, the land registration court did not err in relying on the certificate of title
instead of the survey plan; likewise, the appellate court did not commit any
reversible error in affirming the trial courts decision.

Second Issue: Denial of Due Process

Petitioner claims that he was denied due process because he was unable to take the
witness stand. We disagree. The essence of due process is the opportunity to be
heard. It is the denial of this opportunity that is repugnant to due process.xiii[19] In
this case, petitioner was afforded an opportunity to present witnesses, and he did
present three. However, petitioner did not invoke his right to take the witness stand
even when the trial court ordered the submission of the parties memoranda which
signified the termination of the proceedings. Because he acquiesced to the
termination of the case, he forfeited his right to take the witness stand.

Likewise, we are not persuaded by his allegation that his own counsel hardly
participated in the proceedings. The records show that said counsel did cross- G.R. No. 121234 August 23, 1995
examine Engineer Silverio Perez by propounding clarificatory questions to the latter.
In any event, the client is generally bound by the acts of his counsel. Petitioner has
HUBERT J. P. WEBB, petitioner,
not shown at all that his previous counsel had acted in such grossly negligent manner
vs.
as to deprive him of effective representation, or of due process.xiii[20]
HONORABLE RAUL E. DE LEON, the Presiding Judge of the Regional Trial
Court of Paraaque, Branch 258, HONORABLE ZOSIMO V. ESCANO, the
In support of his contention, petitioner cites Tirona vs. Naawaxiii[21] which held: Presiding Judge of the Regional Trial Court of Paraaque, Branch 259,
PEOPLE OF THE PHILIPPINES, ZENON L. DE GUIA, JOVENCITO ZUO,
We hold the view, however that respondent Judge erred when he ordered the LEONARDO GUIYAB, JR., ROBERTO LAO, PABLO FORMARAN, and
dismissal of the registration case over the objection of the oppositors; and when he NATIONAL BUREAU OF INVESTIGATION, and HONORABLE AMELITA
refused to reconsider the order of dismissal and reinstate the case he had neglected to G. TOLENTINO, the Presiding Judge of the Regional Trial Court of
perform an act which the law enjoins as a duty resulting from an office, and had Paraaque, Branch 274, respondents, LAURO VIZCONDE, intervenor.
thereby deprived the oppositors of a right to which they are entitled.
G.R. No. 121245 August 23, 1995
Such ruling finds no application to the present case, because neither Respondent
Mariano Raymundo (the applicant in the land registration case) nor Petitioner MICHAEL A. GATCHALIAN, petitioner,
Constantino Tirona (the oppositor in the cited case) was a holder of any certificate of vs.
title over the land intended for registration. Such being the case, the land registration HONORABLE RAUL E. DE LEON, the Presiding Judge of the Regional Trial
court was ordered to act in accordance with Section 37 of Act No. 496xiii[22] either Court of Paraaque, Branch 258, HONORABLE ZOSIMO V. ESCANO, the
by dismissing the application if none of the litigants succeeded in showing a proper
Presiding Judge of the Regional Trial Court of Paraaque, Branch 259, who allegedly saw the commission of the crime; 7 (2) the sworn statements of two (2)
PEOPLE OF THE PHILIPPINES, ZENON L. DE GUIYAB, JR., ROBERTO of the former housemaids of the Webb family in the persons of Nerissa E. Rosales
LAO, PABLO FORMARAN, and NATIONAL BUREAU OF and Mila S. Gaviola; 8 (3) the sworn-statement of Carlos J. Cristobal who alleged
INVESTIGATION, and HONORABLE AMELITA G. TOLENTINO, the that on March 9, 1991 he was a passenger of United Airlines Flight No. 808 bound
Presiding Judge of the Regional Trial Court of Paraaque, Branch 274, for New York and who expressed doubt on whether petitioner Webb was his co-
respondents. passenger in the trip; (4) the sworn statement of Lolita Birrer, a former live-in
partner of Gerardo Biong, who narrated the manner of how Biong investigated and
G.R. No. 121297 August 23, 1995 tried to cover up the crime at bar; 9 (5) the sworn statements of Belen Dometita and
Teofilo Minoza, two of the Vizconde maids, and the sworn statements of Normal
White, a security guard and Manciano Gatmaitan, an engineer. The autopsy reports
ANTONIO L. LEJANO, petitioner,
of the victims were also submitted and they showed that Carmela had nine (9) stab
vs.
wounds, Estrellita twelve (12) and Jennifer nineteen (19). 10 The genital examination
HONORABLE RAUL E. DE LEON, the Presiding Judge of the Regional Trial
of Carmela confirmed the presence of spermatozoa. 11
Court of Paraaque, Branch 258, HONORABLE ZOSIMO V. ESCANO, the
Presiding Judge of the Regional Trial Court of Paraaque, Branch 259,
PEOPLE OF THE PHILIPPINES, ZENON L. DE GUIA, JOVENCITO ZUO, Before submitting his counter-affidavit, petitioner Webb filed with the DOJ Panel a
LEONARDO GUIYAB, JR., ROBERTO LAO, PABLO FORMARAN, and Motion for Production And Examination of Evidence and Documents for the NBI to
NATIONAL BUREAU OF INVESTIGATION, and HONORABLE AMELITA produce the following:
G. TOLENTINO, the Presiding Judge of the Regional Trial Court of
Paraaque, Branch 274, respondents. (a) Certification issued by the U.S. Federal Bureau of Investigation on the
admission to and stay of Hubert Webb in the United States from March 9,
1991 to October 22, 1992;

PUNO, J.: (b) Laboratory Report No. SN-91-17 of the Medico Legal Officer, Dr.
Prospero A. Cabanayan, M.D.;
Before the Court are petitions for the issuance of the extraordinary writs of
certiorari, prohibition and mandamus with application for temporary restraining (c) Sworn Statements of Gerardo C. Biong (other than his Sworn Statement
order and preliminary injunction to: (1) annul and set aside the Warrants of Arrest dated October 7, 1991);
issued against petitioners by respondent Judges Raul E. de Leon and Amelita
Tolentino in Criminal Case No. 95-404; (2) enjoin the respondents from conducting (d) Photographs of fingerprints lifted from the Vizconde residence taken
any proceeding in the aforementioned criminal case; and (3) dismiss said criminal during the investigation;
case or include Jessica Alfaro as one of the accused therein. 1
(e) Investigation records of NBI on Engr. Danilo Aguas, et al.;
From the records of the case, it appears that on June 19, 1994, the National Bureau of
Investigation (NBI) filed with the Department of Justice a letter-complaint charging (f) List of names of 135 suspects/persons investigated by the NBI per
petitioners Hubert Webb, Michael Gatchalian, Antonio J. Lejano and six (6) other Progress Report dated September 2, 1991 submitted by Atty. Arlis Vela,
persons, 2 with the crime of Rape with Homicide. Forthwith, the Department of Supervising Agent;
Justice formed a panel of prosecutors headed by Assistant Chief State Prosecutor
Jovencio R. Zuo to conduct the preliminary investigation 3 of those charged with the (g) Records of arrest, interview, investigation and other written statements
rape and killing on June 30, 1991 of Carmela N. Vizconde; 4 her mother Estrellita of Jessica Alfaro (other than the May 22, 1995 Sworn Statement) conducted
Nicolas-Vizconde, 5 and her sister Anne Marie Jennifer 6 in their home at Number 80 by the NBI and other police agencies;
W. Vinzons, St., BF Homes, Paraaque, Metro Manila.

During the preliminary investigation, the NBI presented the following: (1) the sworn
statement dated May 22, 1995 of their principal witness, Maria Jessica M. Alfaro
(h) transmittal letter to the NBI, including the report of the investigation On August 8, 1995, the DOJ Panel issued a 26-page Resolution "finding probable
conducted by Superintendent Rodolfo C. Sison, Regional Deputy Director, cause to hold respondents for trial" and recommending that an Information for rape
NCRC; with homicide be filed against petitioners and their co-respondents, 18 On the same
date, it filed the corresponding Information 19 against petitioners and their co-accused
(i) The names of NBI officials/agents composing the Task Force Jecares, with the Regional Trial Court of Paraaque. The case was docketed as Criminal Case
including their respective positions and duties; No. 95-404 and raffled to Branch 258 presided by respondent judge Zosimo V.
Escano. It was, however, the respondent judge Raul de Leon, pairing judge of Judge
Escano, who issued the warrants of arrest against the petitioners. On August 11,
(j) Statements made by other persons in connection with the crime charged.
1995, Judge Escano voluntarily inhibited himself from the case to avoid any
suspicion about his impartiality considering his employment with the NBI before his
The motion was granted by the DOJ Panel and the NBI submitted photocopies of the appointment to the bench. The case was re-raffled to Branch 274, presided by Judge
documents. It alleged it lost the original of the April 28, 1995 sworn statement of Amelita Tolentino who issued new warrants of arrest against the petitioners and their
Alfaro. This compelled petitioner Webb to file Civil Case No. 951099 in the co-accused. On August 11, 1995, petitioner Webb voluntarily surrendered to the
Regional Trial Court (RTC) of Makati, Br. 63, for the purpose, among others, of police authorities at Camp Ricardo Papa Sr., in Bicutan, Taguig. Petitioners
obtaining the original of said sworn statement. He succeeded, for in the course of its Gatchalian and Lejano likewise gave themselves up to the authorities after filing
proceedings, Atty. Arturo L. Mercader, Jr., produced a copy of said original in their petitions before us.
compliance with a subpoena duces tecum. The original was then submitted by
petitioner Webb to the DOJ Panel together with his other evidence. It appears,
In their petitions at bar, petitioners contend: (1) respondent Judges de Leon and
however, that petitioner Webb failed to obtain from the NBI the copy of the Federal
Tolentino gravely abused their discretion when they failed to conduct a preliminary
Bureau of Investigation (FBI) Report despite his request for its production.
examination before issuing warrants of arrest against them: (2) the DOJ Panel
likewise gravely abused its discretion in holding that there is probable cause to
Petitioner Webb claimed during the preliminary investigation that he did not commit charge them with the crime of rape with homicide; (3) the DOJ Panel denied them
the crime at bar as he went to the United States on March 1, 1991 and returned to the their constitutional right to due process during their preliminary investigation; and
Philippines on October 27, 1992. 12 His alibi was corroborated by Honesto Aragon, (4) the DOJ Panel unlawfully intruded into judicial prerogative when it failed to
Lecinia Edrosolano, Sylvia Climaco, Gina Roque, Sonia Rodriguez, Edgardo charge Jessica Alfaro in the Information as an accused.
Venture and Pamela Francisco. 13 To further support his defense, he submitted
documentary evidence that he bought a bicycle and a 1986 Toyota car while in the
We find the petitions bereft of merit.
United States on said dates 14 and that he was issued by the State of California
Driver's License No. A8818707 on June 14, 1991. 15 Petitioner Webb likewise
submitted the letter dated July 25, 1995 of Mr. Robert Heafner, Legal Attache of the I
US Embassy, citing certain records tending to confirm, among others, his arrival at
San Francisco, California on March 9, 1991 as a passenger in United Airlines Flight Petitioners fault the DOJ Panel for its finding of probable cause. They insist
No. 808. that the May 22, 1995 sworn statement of Jessica Alfaro is inherently weak
and uncorroborated. They hammer on alleged material inconsistencies
The other respondents Hospicio "Pyke" Fernandez, Michael Gatchalian, Antonio between her April 28, 1995 and May 22, 1995 sworn statements. They
"Tony Boy" Lejano, Peter Estrada, Miguel Rodriguez and Gerardo Biong assail her credibility for her misdescription of petitioner Webb's hair as
submitted sworn statements, responses, and a motion to dismiss denying their semi-blonde. They also criticize the procedure followed by the DOJ Panel
complicity in the rape-killing of the Vizcondes. 16 Only the respondents Joey Filart when it did not examine witnesses to clarify the alleged incredulities and
and Artemio "Dong" Ventura failed to file their counter-affidavits though they were inconsistencies in the sworn statements of the witnesses for the NBI.
served with subpoena in their last known address. 17 In his sworn statement,
petitioner Gatchalian alleged that from 11 o'clock in the evening of June 29, 1991 We start with a restatement of the purpose of a preliminary investigation.
until 3 o'clock in the morning of the following day, he was at the residence of his Section 1 of Rule 112 provides that a preliminary investigation should
friends, Carlos and Andrew Syyap, at New Alabang Village, Muntinlupa watching determine " . . . whether there is a sufficient ground to engender a well-
video tapes. He claimed that his co-petitioner Lejano was with him. grounded belief that a crime cognizable by the Regional Trial Court has
been committed and that the respondent is probably guilty thereof, and
should be held for trial." Section 3 of the same Rule outlines the procedure questions to the investigating officer which the latter may
in conducting a preliminary investigation, thus: propound to the parties or witnesses concerned.

Sec. 3. Procedure. Except as provided for in Section 7 hereof, (f) Thereafter, the investigation shall be deemed concluded, and
no complaint or information for an offense cognizable by the the investigating officer shall resolve the case within ten (10) days
Regional Trial Court shall be filed without a preliminary therefrom. Upon the evidence thus adduced, the investigating
investigation having been first conducted in the following manner: officer shall determine whether or not there is sufficient ground to
hold the respondent for trial.
(a) The complaint shall state the known address of the respondent
and be accompanied by affidavits of the complainant and his Section 4 of Rule 112 then directs that "if the investigating fiscal finds
witnesses as well as other supporting documents, in such number cause to hold the respondent for trial, he shall prepare the resolution and
of copies as there are respondents, plus two (2) copies for the corresponding information. He shall certify under oath that he, or as shown
official file. The said affidavits shall be sworn to before any fiscal, by the record, an authorized officer, has personally examined the
state prosecutor or government official authorized to administer complainant and his witnesses, that there is reasonable ground to believe
oath, or, in their absence or unavailability, a notary public, who that a crime has been committed and that the accused is probably guilty
must certify that he personally examined the affiants and that he is thereof . . ."
satisfied that they voluntarily executed and understood their
affidavits. The need to find probable cause is dictated by the Bill of Rights which protects "the
right of the people to be secure in their persons . . . against unreasonable searches
(b) Within ten (10) days after the filing of the complaint, the and seizures of whatever nature . . ." 20 An arrest without a probable cause is an
investigating officer shall either dismiss the same if he finds no unreasonable seizure of a person, and violates the privacy of persons which ought
ground to continue with the inquiry, or issue a subpoena to the not to be intruded by the State. 21 Probable cause to warrant arrest is not an opaque
respondent, attaching thereto a copy of the complaint, affidavits concept in our jurisdiction. Continuing accretions of case law reiterate that they are
and other supporting documents. Within ten (10) days from receipt facts and circumstances which would lead a reasonably discreet and prudent man to
thereof, the respondent shall submit counter-affidavits and other believe that an offense has been committed by the person sought to be arrested. 22
supporting documents. He shall have the right to examine all other Other jurisdictions utilize the term man of reasonable caution 23 or the term
evidence submitted by the complainant. ordinarily prudent and cautious man. 24 The terms are legally synonymous and their
reference is not to a person with training in the law such as a prosecutor or a judge
(c) Such counter-affidavits and other supporting evidence but to the average man on the street. 25 It ought to be emphasized that in determining
submitted by the respondent shall also be sworn to and certified as probable cause, the average man weighs facts and circumstances without resorting to
prescribed in paragraph (a) hereof and copies thereof shall be the calibrations of our technical rules of evidence of which his knowledge is nil.
furnished by him to the complainant. Rather, he relies on the calculus of common sense of which all reasonable men have
an abundance.
(d) If the respondent cannot be subpoenaed, or if subpoenaed, does
not submit counter-affidavits within the ten (10) day period, the Applying these basic norms, we are not prepared to rule that the DOJ Panel
investigating officer shall base his resolution on the evidence gravely abused its discretion when it found probable cause against the
presented by the complainant. petitioners. Petitioners belittle the truthfulness of Alfaro on two (2) grounds:
(a) she allegedly erroneously described petitioner Webb's hair as semi-blond
and (b) she committed material inconsistencies in her two (2) sworn
(e) If the investigating officer believes that there are matters to be
statement, thus: 26
clarified, he may set a hearing to propound clarificatory questions
to the parties or their witnesses, during which the parties shall be
afforded an opportunity to be present but without the right to xxx xxx xxx
examine or cross-examine. If the parties so desire, they may submit
To illustrate, the following are some examples of inconsistencies in First Affidavit: She never entered the house.
the two sworn statements of Alfaro:
Second Affidavit: "I proceeded to the iron grill
On whether Alfaro knew Carmela before the incident in question gate leading to the dirty kitchen."

First Affidavit: She had NOT met Carmela In its Resolution, the DOJ Panel ruled that these alleged misdescription and
before June 29, 1991. inconsistencies did not erode the credibility of Alfaro. We quote the
pertinent ruling, viz.: 27
Second Affidavit: "I met her in a party sometime
in February, 1991." xxx xxx xxx

On whether Alfaro saw the dead bodies As regards the admissibility of Alfaro's statements, granting for
purposes of argument merely that she is a co-conspirator, it is well
First Affidavit: She did not see the three dead to note that confessions of a co-conspirator may be taken as
persons on that night. She just said "on the evidence to show the probability of the co-conspirator's
following day I read in the newspaper that there participation in the commission of the crime (see People vs.
were three persons who were killed . . ." Lumahang, 94 Phil. 1084).

Second Affidavit: "I peeped through the first Furthermore, it is a well-established doctrine that conspiracy need
door on the left. I saw two bodies on top of the not be proved by direct evidence of prior agreement to commit the
bed, bloodied, and in the floor, I saw Hubert on crime. Indeed, "only rarely would such a prior agreement be
top of Carmela." demonstrable since, in the nature of things, criminal undertakings
are only rarely documented by agreements in writing. Thus,
conspiracy may be inferred from the conduct of the accused
On the alleged rape of Carmela Vizconde
before, during and after the commission of the crime, showing that
the several accused had acted in concert or in unison with each
First Affidavit: She did not see the act of rape. other, evincing a common purpose or design." (Angelo vs. Court of
Appeals, 210 SCRA 402 [1992], citations omitted; People vs.
Second Affidavit: She saw Hubert Webb "with Molleda, 86 SCRA 699).
bare buttocks, on top of Carmela and pumping,
her mouth gagged and she was moaning and I Neither can we discredit Alfaro merely because of the
saw tears on her eyes." inconsistencies in her two sworn statements. In Angelo, the Court
refused to discredit the testimony of a witness accusing therein
On how Webb, Lejano, and Ventura entered the Vizconde house petitioner for the slaying of one Gaviano Samaniego even though
said witness failed to name Angelo in his affidavit which was
First Affidavit: "by jumping over the fence, executed five (5) months earlier. Granting, the Court continued,
which was only a little more than a meter high." that a part of the witness' testimony is untrue, such circumstance is
not sufficient to discredit the entire testimony of the witness.
Second Affidavit: They "entered the gate which
was already open." On August 7, 1995, another counsel for respondent Webb
submitted his memorandum suggesting that the instant complaint
On whether Alfaro entered the Vizconde house "should not be decided within the month to give time to the NBI to
coordinate with the FBI on the latter's inquiry into the whereabouts
of Hubert Webb . . . and to check on our U.S.-based witnesses."
In said memorandum, counsel for respondent Webb calls for the xxx xxx xxx
application of the maxim falsus in uno, falsus in omnibus arising
from the inconsistencies of Alfaro's statements, among others. This According to Nerissa E. Rosales, a former housemaid of the Webb
is untenable. As held in Angelo: family, on June 29, 1991, between 7:00 o'clock and 8:00 o'clock in
the evening, Hubert was at home inside his room with two male
There is no rule of law which prohibits a court visitors. She knew it because she and her co-housemaid, Loany,
from crediting part of the testimony of a witness were instructed by Hubert to bring them three glasses of juice. It
as worthy of belief and from simultaneously was the last time she saw Hubert and was later told by then
rejecting other parts which the court may find Congressman Webb that Hubert was in the United States.
incredible or dubious. The maxim falsus in uno,
falsus in omnibus is not a rule of law, let alone a While Mila S. Gaviola, another former housemaid of the Webb
general rule of law which is universally family and who served as a laundry woman, claims, aside from
applicable. It is not a legal presumption either. It corroborating the statement of Nerissa Rosales, that on June 30,
is merely a latinism describing the conclusion 1991, she woke up at around 4:00 in the morning and as what she
reached by a court in a particular case after used to do, she entered the rooms of the Webbs to get their clothes
ascribing to the evidence such weight or lack of to be washed. As a matter of fact, in that early morning, she
weight that the court deemed proper. entered Hubert's room and saw Hubert, who was only wearing his
pants, already awake and smoking while he was sitting on his bed.
In the case before us, complainant reasoned out that Alfaro was She picked up Hubert's scattered clothes and brought them together
then having reservations when she first executed the first statement with the clothes of the other members of the family to the laundry
and held back vital information due to her natural reaction of area. After taking her breakfast, she began washing the clothes of
mistrust. This being so, the panel believes that the inconsistencies the Webbs. As she was washing the clothes of Hubert Webb, she
in Alfaro's two sworn statements have been sufficiently explained noticed fresh bloodstains in his shirt. After she finished the
especially specially so where there is no showing that the laundry, she went to the servant's quarters. But feeling uneasy, she
inconsistencies were deliberately made to distort the truth. decided to go up to the stockroom near Hubert's room to see what
Consequently, the probative value of Alfaro's testimony deserves he was doing. In the said stockroom, there is a small door going to
full faith and credit. As it has been often noted, ex parte statements Hubert's room and in that door there is a small opening where she
are generally incomplete because they are usually executed when used to see Hubert and his friends sniffing on something. She
the affiant's state of mind does not give her sufficient and fair observed Hubert was quite irritated, uneasy, and walked to and
opportunity to comprehend the import of her statement and to from inside his room.
narrate in full the incidents which transpired (People vs. Sarellana,
233 SCRA 31 [1994]; Angelo vs. Court of Appeals, supra). In the On that day, she noticed Hubert left the house at around 1:00 in the
case at bar, there is no dispute that a crime has been committed and afternoon and came back at around 4:00 in the same afternoon and
what is clear before us is that the totality of the evidence submitted went inside his room using the secret door of the house. It was the
by the complainant indicate a prima facie case that respondents last time that she saw Hubert until she left the Webb family.
conspired in the perpetration of the imputed offense.
On the other hand, Carlos J. Cristobal alleged that on March 9,
We note that the May 22, 1995 sworn statement of Alfaro was given with the 1991, at about 10:00 in the morning, he was at the Ninoy Aquino
assistance of counsel 28 and consists of six (6) pages, in single space reciting in rich International Airport as he was then scheduled to take the United
details how the crime was planned and then executed by the petitioners. In addition, Airlines Flight No. 808 at 2:00 in the afternoon for New York. At
the DOJ Panel evaluated the supporting sworn statements of Nerissa Rosales and the airport's lobby, he saw then Congressman Freddie Webb with a
Mila Gaviola, former housemaids of the Webbs, Carlos J. Cristobal, a passenger in male companion. He greeted him and Webb answered: "Mabuti
United Airlines Flight No. 808 and Lolita Birrer, a paramour of Gerardo Biong. The naman, at ito, ihahatid ko ang anak ko papuntang Florida." He
Panel assayed their statements as follows: 29 knew Freddie Webb because he often watched him then in a
television show "Chicks to Chicks." He observed that the man what happened in BF Homes and he replied, "Putang inang mga
whom Freddie Webb referred to as his son, was of the same height batang iyon, pinahirapan nila ako."
as Freddie. The son referred to has fair complexion with no
distinguishing marks on his face. He (son of Webb) was then Biong later invited her for breakfast, but they first went to his
wearing a striped white jacket. When he and his children were office where she observed him doing something in his steel cabinet
already inside the plane, he did not see Freddie anymore, but he while he appeared to be uneasy. Moments later, Galvan, another
noticed his son was seated at the front portion of the economy policeman of Paraaque, arrived and said, "Oy Biong, may tatlong
class. He never noticed Freddie Webb's son upon their arrival in patay sa BF, imbestigahan mo" to which Biong answered, "Oo
San Francisco. He claims that, while watching the television susunod na ako." Biong went to the office of Capt. Don Bartolome
program "DONG PUNO LIVE" lately, he saw the wife of Freddie who offered to accompany him and with whom she asked
Webb with her lawyer being interviewed, and when she described permission to go with them. Before they proceeded to the place
Hubert as "moreno" and small built, with a height of five feet and where the killings happened, she asked Biong if he knew the exact
seven inches tall, and who was the one who left for United States address and the latter immediately responded, "Alam ko na yon."
on March 9, 1991, he nurtured doubts because such description She was surprised because Galvan never told him the place of the
does not fit the physical traits of the son of Freddie, who left with incident.
him for United States on the same flight and date.
As soon as they arrived at the Vizconde's residence, Biong
Lolita Birrer, alleged that she know Gerardo Biong because she instructed the housemaids to contact the victim's relatives, while
had an affair with him for almost three (3) years and in fact, she the security guard fetched the barangay chairman and the president
had a child with him who is now four (4) years old. Their of the Homeowners Association. When all these persons were
relationship started in February, 1991 until she broke up with him already in the house, Biong started recording the wounds of the
in September 1993. She recalls that on June 29, 1991, at around victim. Inside the master's bedroom, she saw Biong took a watch
6:00 p.m., Biong invited her to play mahjong at the canteen of a from the jewelry box. Because she could not tolerate the foul odor,
certain Aling Glo located at the back of the Paraaque Municipal she and Capt. Bartolome went out of the room and proceeded to
Hall. the dining area. On top of the dining table, she saw the scattered
contents of a shoulder bag. Moments later, Biong came out from
At about 2:30, in the early morning of January 30, 1991, the radio the room and proceeded to the front door to remove the chain lock;
operator of the Paraaque police told Biong that he has a phone asked the keys from the housemaid and it was only then that the
call. Before Biong went to the radio room, she was instructed to main door was opened. Biong noticed a stone in front of the
take him over and after somebody won the game, she followed broken glass of the door and requested Capt. Bartolome to go
Biong at the radio room where she overheard him uttering, "Ano?, inside the servant's quarters as he doubted the housemaids' claim
Saan? Mahirap yan, Paano, o sige, aantayin kita, O ano?, dilaw that they heard nothing unusual. Using the handle of his gun,
na taxi, o sige." When he put the phone down, Biong told her, Biong broke the remaining glass of the door panel. Bartolome then
"Mayroon lang akong rerespondehan, ikaw muna ang maupo" and came out of the room and told Biong that he can hear the sound of
then, he went outside the canteen apparently waiting for the glass being broken. At the garage, Biong also noticed same
somebody. Twenty minutes later, a taxi, colored yellow, arrived marks on the hood of the car.
with a male passenger sitting at the backseat and parked near the
canteen. After it made some signals by blinking its headlight, On the following day, at around 12:00 noon, Biong arrived in her
Biong rode thereat at the front seat beside the driver and then, they house together with the Vizconde housemaids. When Biong was
left. She was not able to recognize the male passenger because the preparing to take a bath, she saw him remove from his pocket the
window of the taxi was tinted. Biong came back at around 7:00 of things she also saw from Vizconde's residence, to wit: calling
the same morning and when he arrived, he immediately washed his cards, driver's license, ATM card, a crossed check worth
hands and face, and took his handkerchief from his pocket which P80,000.00, earrings, a ring, bracelet, necklace, and the watch he
he threw at the trash can. She asked him why he threw his took from the jewelry box inside the room of the Vizcondes. These
handkerchief and he answered, "Hmp . . . amoy tae." She inquired jewelry items were later pawned by Biong for P20,000.00 at a
pawnshop in front of Chow-Chow restaurant in Santos Avenue, could not have been at or near the area of the Vizconde residence
Paraaque. The next day, she saw Biong took from his locker at at the time of the alleged commission of the crime," respondent
the Paraaque Police Station an imported brown leather jacket, Lejano proffered no evidence to substantiate his claim of alibi.
which the latter claimed to have been given to him by the person
who called him up in the early morning of June 30, 1991. xxx xxx xxx

Since then, Biong has been wearing said jacket until they broke up On the other hand, respondent Webb seeks to enhance the
sometime in 1993. She observed that Biong seemed not interested acceptability of his alibi in the form of documents tending to show
in pursuing the investigation of the Vizconde case. In fact, when that he was thousands of miles away when the incident occurred.
Biong and this group picked up Mike Gatchalian and brought him We have carefully deliberated and argued on the evidence
to the Paraaque Police Station, she was surprised that Biong submitted by respondent Webb in support of his absence from the
halted the investigation when Gatchalian was profusely sweating country since March 9, 1991 to October 26, 1992 and found the
while being interrogated. After the father of Gatchalian talked to same wanting to exonerate him of the offense charged. The
Colonel Pureza, the latter called up and instructed Biong to bring material dates in this case are June 29 and 30, 1991. While
Gatchalian to him (Colonel Pureza) and that was the last thing she respondent Webb may have submitted proof tending to show that
remembered regarding this case. he was issued a California driver's license on June 14, 1991, there
is no showing that he could not have been in the country on the
The DOJ Panel then weighed these inculpatory evidence against the exculpatory dates above mentioned. Neither do we find merit in the allegation
evidence of petitioners. It ruled: 30 that respondent Webb personally bought a bicycle on June 30,
1991 in California in view of his positive identification by Alfaro
xxx xxx xxx and the two (2) househelps of the Webb family who testified that
he was here in the country on said dates. Additionally, the issuance
of receipt evidencing the purchase of a bicycle in California is no
The voluminous number of exhibits submitted by respondent Webb
conclusive proof that the name appearing thereon was the actual
to support his defense of denial and alibi notwithstanding, the
buyer of the merchandise.
panel, after a careful and thorough evaluation of the records,
believes that they cannot outweigh the evidence submitted by the
complainant. Alibi cannot prevail over the positive identification Given these conflicting pieces of evidence of the NBI and the petitioners,
made by a prosecution witness. Verily, alibi deserves scant we hold that the DOJ Panel did not gravely abuse its discretion when it
consideration in the face of positive identification especially so found probable cause against the petitioners. A finding of probable cause
where the claim of alibi is supported mainly by friends and needs only to rest on evidence showing that more likely than not a crime has
relatives (People vs. Apolonia, 235 SCRA 124 [1994]; People vs. been committed and was committed by the suspects. Probable cause need
Lucas, 181 SCRA 316 and a long line of cases). not be based on clear and convincing evidence of guilt, neither on evidence
establishing guilt beyond reasonable doubt and definitely, not on evidence
establishing absolute certainty of guilt. As well put in Brinegar v. United
Similarly, denial is a self-serving negative which cannot be given
States, 31 while probable cause demands more than "bare suspicion," it
greater evidentiary weight than the declaration of a credible
requires "less than evidence which would justify . . . conviction." A finding
witness who testified on affirmative matters (People vs. Carizo,
of probable cause merely binds over the suspect to stand trial. It is not a
233 SCRA 687 [1994]). Indeed, denial, like alibi, is weak and
pronouncement of guilt.
becomes even more weaker when arrayed against the positive
identification by the witness for the prosecution (People vs.
Onpaid, 233 SCRA 62 [1994]). Considering the low quantum and quality of evidence needed to support a
finding of probable cause, we also hold that the DOJ Panel did not, gravely
abuse its discretion in refusing to call the NBI witnesses for clarificatory
Surprisingly, Gatchalian's defense of alibi was not corroborated by
questions. The decision to call witnesses for clarificatory questions is
Lejano, whom he claimed was with him watching video tapes at
addressed to the sound discretion of the investigator and the investigator
the Syyap residence. Other than claiming that he "was not and
alone. If the evidence on hand already yields a probable cause, the one is concerned with probable cause to arrest or probable cause to search.
investigator need not hold a clarificatory hearing. To repeat, probable cause But each requires a showing of probabilities as to somewhat different facts
merely implies probability of guilt and should be determined in a summary and circumstances, and thus one can exist without the other. In search cases,
manner. Preliminary investigation is not a part of trial and it is only in a trial two conclusions must be supported by substantial evidence: that the items
where an accused can demand the full exercise of his rights, such as the sought are in fact seizable by virtue of being connected with criminal
right to confront and cross-examine his accusers to establish his innocence. activity, and that the items will be found in the place to be searched. It is not
In the case at bar, the DOJ Panel correctly adjudged that enough evidence also necessary that a particular person be implicated. By comparison, in
had been adduced to establish probable cause and clarificatory hearing was arrest cases there must be probable cause that a crime has been committed
unnecessary. and that the person to be arrested committed it, which of course can exist
without any showing that evidence of the crime will be found at premises
II under that person's control." Worthy to note, our Rules of Court do not
provide for a similar procedure to be followed in the issuance of warrants of
arrest and search warrants. With respect to warrants of arrest, section 6 of
We now come to the charge of petitioners that respondent Judge Raul de
Rule 112 simply provides that "upon filing of an information, the Regional
Leon and, later, respondent Judge Amelita Tolentino issued warrants of
Trial Court may issue a warrant for the arrest of the accused." In contrast,
arrest against them without conducting the required preliminary
the procedure to be followed in issuing search warrants is more defined.
examination. Petitioners support their stance by highlighting the following
Thus, Sections 3, 4 and 5 of Rule 126 provide:
facts: (1) the issuance of warrants of arrest in a matter of few hours; (2) the
failure of said judges to issue orders of arrest; (3) the records submitted to
the trial court were incomplete and insufficient from which to base a finding xxx xxx xxx
of probable cause; and (4) that even Gerardo Biong who was included in the
Information as a mere accessory had a "NO BAIL" recommendation by the Sec. 3. Requisites for issuing search warrant. A search warrant
DOJ Panel. Petitioners postulate that it was impossible to conduct a shall not issue but upon probable cause in connection with one
"searching examination of witnesses and evaluation of the documents" on specific offense to be determined personally by the judge after
the part of said judges. examination under oath or affirmation of the complainant and the
witnesses he may produce, and particularly describing the place to
The issuance of a warrant of arrest interferes with individual liberty and is be searched and the things to be seized.
regulated by no less than the fundamental law of the land. Section 2 of
Article III of the Constitution provides: Sec. 4. Examination of complainant; record. The judge must,
before issuing the warrant, personally examine in the form of
Sec. 2. The right of the people to be secure in their persons, searching questions and answers, in writing and under oath the
houses, papers, and effects against unreasonable searches and complainant and any witnesses he may produce on facts personally
seizures of whatever nature and for any purpose shall be known to them and attach to the record their sworn statements
inviolable, and no search warrant or warrant of arrest shall issue together with any affidavits submitted.
except upon probable cause to be determined personally by the
judge after examination under oath or affirmation of the Sec. 5. Issuance and form of search warrant. If the judge is
complainant and the witnesses he may produce and particularly thereupon satisfied of the facts upon which the application is
describing the place to be searched and the persons or things to be based, or that there is probable cause to believe that they exist, he
seized. must issue the warrant, which must be substantially in the form
prescribed by these Rules.
The aforequoted provision deals with the requirements of probable cause
both with respect to issuance of warrants of arrest or search warrants. The We discussed the difference in the Procedure of issuing warrants of arrest
similarities and differences of their requirements ought to be educational. and search warrants in Soliven vs. Makasiar, 33 thus:
Some of them are pointed out by Professors LaFave and Israel, thus: 32 "It is
generally assumed that the same quantum of evidence is required whether xxx xxx xxx
The second issue, raised by Beltran, calls for an interpretation of Clearly then, the Constitution, the Rules of Court, and our case law 34
the constitutional provision on the issuance of warrants of arrest. repudiate the submission of petitioners that respondent judges should have
The pertinent provision reads: conducted "searching examination of witnesses" before issuing warrants of
arrest against them. They also reject petitioners' contention that a judge
Art. III, Sec. 2. The right of the people to be must first issue an order of arrest before issuing a warrant of arrest. There is
secure in their persons, houses, papers and no law or rule requiring the issuance of an Order of Arrest prior to a warrant
effects against unreasonable searches and of arrest.
seizures of whatever nature and for any purpose
shall be inviolable, and no search warrant or In the case at bar, the DOJ Panel submitted to the trial court its 26-page
warrant of arrest shall issue except upon report, the two (2) sworn statements of Alfaro and the sworn statements of
probable cause to be determined personally by Carlos Cristobal and Lolita Birrer 35 as well as the counter-affidavits of the
the judge after examination under oath or petitioners. Apparently, the painstaking recital and analysis of the parties'
affirmation of the complainant and the witnesses evidence made in the DOJ Panel Report satisfied both judges that there is
he may produce, and particularly describing the probable cause to issue warrants of arrest against petitioners. Again, we
place to be searched and the persons or things to stress that before issuing warrants of arrest, judges merely determine
be seized. personally the probability, not the certainty of guilt of an accused. In doing
so, judges do not conduct a de novo hearing to determine the existence of
The addition of the word "personally" after the word "determined" probable cause. They just personally review the initial determination of the
and the deletion of the grant of authority by the 1973 Constitution prosecutor finding a probable cause to see if it is supported by substantial
to issue warrants to "other responsible officers as may be evidence. The sufficiency of the review process cannot be measured by
authorized by law," has apparently convinced petitioner Beltran merely counting minutes and hours. The fact that it took the respondent
that the Constitution now requires the judge to personally examine judges a few hours to review and affirm the probable cause determination of
the complainant and his witnesses in his determination of probable the DOJ Panel does not mean they made no personal evaluation of the
cause for the issuance of warrants of arrest. This is not an accurate evidence attached to the records of the case. 36
interpretation.
Petitioners' reliance on the case of Allado vs. Diokno 37 is misplaced. Our
What the Constitution underscores is the exclusive and personal Allado ruling is predicated on the utter failure of the evidence to show the
responsibility of the issuing judge to satisfy himself of the existence existence of probable cause. Not even the corpus delicti of the crime was
of probable cause. In satisfying himself of the existence of established by the evidence of the prosecution in that case. Given the clear
probable cause for the issuance of a warrant of arrest, the judge is insufficiency of the evidence on record, we stressed the necessity for the
not required to personally examine the complainant and his trial judge to make a further personal examination of the complainant and
witnesses. Following established doctrine and procedure, he shall: his witnesses to reach a correct assessment of the existence or non-existence
(1) personally evaluate the report and the documents submitted by of probable cause before issuing warrants of arrest against the accused. The
the fiscal regarding the existence of probable cause and, on the case at bar, however, rests on a different factual setting. As priorly
basis thereof, issue a warrant; or (2) if on the basis thereof he finds discussed, the various types of evidence extant in the records of the case
no probable cause, he may disregard the fiscal's report and require provide substantial basis for a finding of probable cause against the
the submission of supporting affidavits of witnesses to aid him in petitioner. The corpus delicti of the crime is a given fact. There is an
arriving at a conclusions as to the existence of probable cause. eyewitness account of the imputed crime given by Alfaro. The alibi defense
of petitioner Webb is also disputed by sworn statements of their former
maids. It was therefore unnecessary for the respondent judges to take the
Sound policy dictates this procedure, otherwise judges would be
further step of examining ex parte the complainant and their witnesses with
unduly laden with the preliminary examination and investigation of
searching questions.
criminal complaints instead of concentrating on hearing and
deciding cases filed before their courts.
III
Petitioners also complain about the denial of their constitutional right to due further proceedings, e.g. comparison of the photo-copies of the
process and violation of their right to an impartial investigation. They decry submitted documents with the originals on July 17, 1995. (p. 7,
their alleged hasty and malicious prosecution by the NBI and the DOJ Petition) The panel even entertained the "Response" submitted by
Panel. They also assail the prejudicial publicity that attended their accused Miguel Rodriguez on July 18, 1995. (p. 17 Resolution) In
preliminary investigation. addition to these, the panel even announced that any party may
submit additional evidence before the resolution of the case. (p. 8,
We reject these contentions. The records will show that the DOJ Panel did Petition) From the time the panel declared the termination of the
not conduct the preliminary investigation with indecent haste. Petitioners preliminary investigation on July 14, 1995, twenty-seven (27) days
were given fair opportunity to prove lack of probable cause against them. elapsed before the resolution was promulgated, and the
The fairness of this opportunity is well stressed in the Consolidated information eventually filed in the Regional Trial Court of
Comment of the Solicitor General, viz.: Paraaque on August 10, 1995. This notwithstanding the directive
of Section 3(f) Rule 112 of the Revised Rules of Court that the
investigating officer shall resolve the case within ten (10) days
Again, there is no merit in this contention. Petitioners were
from the termination of the preliminary investigation. The DOJ
afforded all the opportunities to be heard. Petitioner Webb actively
Panel precisely allowed the parties to adduce more evidence in
participated in the preliminary investigation by appearing in the
their behalf and for the panel to study the evidence submitted more
initial hearing held on June 30, 1995 and in the second hearing on
fully. This directly disputes the allegation of the petitioners that the
July 14, 1995; and by filing a "Motion for Production and
resolution was done with indecent haste in violation of the rights of
Examination of Evidence and Documents" on June 27, 1995 (p. 4,
the petitioners. During the period of twenty-seven (27) days, the
Petition), a "Reply to the compliance and Comment/Manifestation
petitioners were free to adduce and present additional evidence
to the Motion for Production and Examination of Evidence" on
before the DOJ Panel.
July 5, 1995 (p. 6, Petition), a "Comment and Manifestation" on
July 7, 1995 (p. 6, Petition), his "Counter-Affidavit" on July 14,
1995 (pp. 6-7, Petition) and a "Motion to Resolve" on August 1, Verily, petitioners cannot now assert that they were denied due
1995. Numerous letter-requests were also sent by the petitioner process during the conduct of the preliminary investigation simply
Webb's counsel to the DOJ Panel requesting the latter to furnish because the DOJ Panel promulgated the adverse resolution and
him a copy of the reports prepared by the FBI concerning the filed the Information in court against them.
petitioner's whereabouts during the material period (Annexes "L",
"L-1" and "L-2" of the Supplemental Petition dated August 14, Petitioners cannot also assail as premature the filing of the Information in
1995). In fact, not satisfied with the decision of the DOJ Panel not court against them for rape with homicide on the ground that they still have
to issue subpoena duces tecum to Atty. Arturo L. Mercader, Jr., the right to appeal the adverse resolution of the DOJ Panel to the Secretary
petitioner Webb filed a "Petition for Injunction, Certiorari, of Justice. The filing of said Information is in accord with Department of
Prohibition and Mandamus" with the Regional Trial Court, Branch Justice Order No. 223, series of 1993, dated June 25, 1993. We quote its
63 of Makati in order to compel said Atty. Mercader, Jr. to produce pertinent sections, viz.:
the first sworn statement of Alfaro for submission to the DOJ
Panel. (p. 4, Petition) The said court dismissed the petition after Sec. 4. Non-Appealable Cases; Exceptions. No appeal may be
Mercader produced and submitted to the DOJ Panel the first sworn taken from a resolution of the Chief State Prosecutor/Regional
statement of Alfaro, without ruling on the admissibility and State Prosecutor/Provincial or City Prosecutor finding probable
credence of the two (2) conflicting and inconsistent sworn cause except upon showing of manifest error or grave abuse of
statements of the principal witness, Alfaro. (Attached hereto is a discretion. Notwithstanding the showing of manifest error or grave
copy of the order of Judge Ruben A. Mendiola, RTC-Makati, abuse of discretion, no appeal shall be entertained where the
Branch 63 dated July 28, 1995) marked as Annex "F." appellant had already been arraigned. If the appellant is arraigned
during the pendency of the appeal, said appeal shall be dismissed
It must also be pointed out that despite the declaration by the DOJ motu propio by the Secretary of Justice.
Panel that the preliminary investigation was to be terminated after
the hearing held on July 14, 1995, the panel continued to conduct
An appeal/motion for reinvestigation from a resolution finding (d) his testimony can be substantially corroborated on its material
probable cause, however, shall not hold the filing of the points;
information in court.
(e) he does not appear to be most guilty; and
Sec. 2. When to appeal. The appeal must be filed within a
period of fifteen (15) days from receipt of the questioned (f) he has not at anytime been convicted of any crime involving
resolution by the party or his counsel. The period shall be moral turpitude.
interrupted only by the filing of a motion for reconsideration
within ten (10) days from receipt of the resolution and shall An accused discharged from an information or criminal complaint
continue to run from the time the resolution denying the motion by the court in order that he may be a State Witness pursuant to
shall have been received by the movant or his counsel. (Emphasis Sections 9 and 10 of Rule 119 of the Revised Rules of Court may
supplied) upon his petition be admitted to the Program if he complies with
the other requirements of this Act. Nothing in this Act shall
Without doubt then, the said DOJ Order No. 223 allows the filing of an prevent the discharge of an accused so that he can be used as a
Information in court after the consummation of the preliminary Witness under Rule 119 of the Revised Rules of Court.
investigation even if the accused can still exercise the right to seek a review
of the prosecutor's recommendation with the Secretary of Justice. Upon qualification of Alfaro to the program, Section 12 of the said law
mandates her non-inclusion in the criminal Complaint or Information, thus:
Next, petitioners fault the DOJ Panel for not including Alfaro in the
Information considering her alleged conspiratorial participation in the crime xxx xxx xxx
of rape with homicide. The non-inclusion of Alfaro is anchored on Republic
Act
No. 6981, entitled "An Act Providing For A Witness Protection, Security Sec. 12. Effect of Admission of a State Witness into the Program.
And Benefit Program And For Other Purposes" enacted on April 24, 1991. The certification of admission into the Program by the
Alfaro qualified under its Section 10, which provides: Department shall be given full faith and credit by the provincial or
city prosecutor who is required NOT TO INCLUDE THE
WITNESS IN THE CRIMINAL COMPLAINT OR INFORMATION
xxx xxx xxx and if included therein, to petition the court for his discharge in
order that he can be utilized as a State Witness. The court shall
Sec. 10. State Witness. Any person who has participated in the order the discharge and exclusion of the said accused from the
commission of a crime and desires to a witness for the State, can information.
apply and, if qualified as determined in this Act and by the
Department, shall be admitted into the Program whenever the Admission into the Program shall entitle such State Witness to
following circumstances are present:
immunity from criminal prosecution for the offense or offenses in
which his testimony will be given or used and all the rights and
(a) the offense in which his testimony will be used is a grave benefits provided under Section 8 hereof.
felony as defined under the R.P.C. or its equivalent under special
laws; The validity of these provisions is challenged by petitioner Webb. It is
urged that they constitute ". . . an intrusion into judicial prerogative for it is
(b) there is absolute necessity for his testimony; only the court which has the power under the Rules on Criminal Procedure
to discharge an accused as a state witness." The argument is based on
(c) there is no other direct evidence available for the proper Section 9, Rule 119 38 which gives the court the prerogative to approve the
prosecution of the offense committed; discharge of an accused to be a state witness. Petitioner's argument lacks
appeal for it lies on the faulty assumption that the decision whom to
prosecute is a judicial function, the sole prerogative of courts and beyond
executive and legislative interference. In truth, the prosecution of crimes This failure to provide discovery procedure during preliminary investigation
appertains to the executive department of government whose principal does not, however, negate its use by a person under investigation when
power and responsibility is to see that our laws are faithfully executed. A indispensable to protect his constitutional right to life, liberty and property.
necessary component of this power to execute our laws is the right to Preliminary investigation is not too early a stage to guard against any
prosecute their violators. The right to prosecute vests the prosecutor with a significant erosion of the constitutional right to due process of a potential
wide range of discretion the discretion of whether, what and whom to accused. As aforediscussed, the object of a preliminary investigation is to
charge, the exercise of which depends on a smorgasbord of factors which determine the probability that the suspect committed a crime. We hold that
are best appreciated by prosecutors. We thus hold that it is not the finding of a probable cause by itself subjects the suspect's life, liberty
constitutionally impermissible for Congress to enact R.A. No. 6981 vesting and property to real risk of loss or diminution. In the case at bar, the risk to
in the Department of Justice the power to determine who can qualify as a the liberty of petitioners cannot be understated for they are charged with the
witness in the program and who shall be granted immunity from crime of rape with homicide, a non-bailable offense when the evidence of
prosecution. 39 Section 9 of Rule 119 does not support the proposition that guilt is strong.
the power to choose who shall be a state witness is an inherent judicial
prerogative. Under this provision, the court, is given the power to discharge Attuned to the times, our Rules have discarded the pure inquisitorial system
a state witness only because it has already acquired jurisdiction over the of preliminary investigation. Instead, Rule 112 installed a quasi-judicial
crime and the accused. The discharge of an accused is part of the exercise of type of preliminary investigation conducted by one whose high duty is to be
jurisdiction but is not a recognition of an inherent judicial function. fair and impartial. 44 As this Court emphasized in Rolito Go vs. Court of
Moreover, the Rules of Court have never been interpreted to be beyond Appeals, 45 "the right to have a preliminary investigation conducted before
change by legislation designed to improve the administration of our justice being bound over for trial for a criminal offense, and hence formally at risk
system. R.A. No. 6981 is one of the much sought penal reform laws to help of incarceration or some other penalty, is not a mere formal or technical
government in its uphill fight against crime, one certain cause of which is right; it is a substantive right." A preliminary investigation should therefore
the reticence of witnesses to testify. The rationale for the law is well put by be scrupulously conducted so that the constitutional right to liberty of a
the Department of Justice, viz.: "Witnesses, for fear of reprisal and potential accused can be protected from any material damage. We uphold
economic dislocation, usually refuse to appear and testify in the the legal basis of the right of petitioners to demand from their prosecutor,
investigation/prosecution of criminal complaints/cases. Because of such the NBI, the original copy of the April 28, 1995 sworn statement of Alfaro
refusal, criminal complaints/cases have been dismissed for insufficiency and the FBI Report during their preliminary investigation considering their
and/or lack of evidence. For a more effective administration of criminal exculpatory character, and hence, unquestionable materiality to the issue of
justice, there was a necessity to pass a law protecting witnesses and granting their probable guilt. The right is rooted on the constitutional protection of
them certain rights and benefits to ensure their appearance in investigative due process which we rule to be operational even during the preliminary
bodies/courts." 40 Petitioner Webb's challenge to the validity of R.A. No. investigation of a potential accused. It is also implicit in section (3) (a) of
6981 cannot therefore succeed. Rule 112 which requires during the preliminary investigation the filing of a
sworn complaint, which shall ". . . state the known address of the
Further, petitioners charge the NBI with violating their right to discovery respondent and be accompanied by affidavits of the complainant and his
proceedings during their preliminary investigation by suppressing the April witnesses as well as other supporting documents . . ."
28, 1995 original copy of the sworn statement of Alfaro and the FBI Report.
The argument is novel in this jurisdiction and as it urges an expansive In laying down this rule, the Court is not without enlightened precedents
reading of the rights of persons under preliminary investigation it deserves from other jurisdictions. In the 1963 watershed case of Brady v. Maryland
serious consideration. To start with, our Rules on Criminal Procedure do not 46 the United States Supreme Court held that "suppression of evidence
expressly provide for discovery proceedings during the preliminary favorable to an accused upon request violates due process where the
investigation stage of a criminal proceeding. 41 Sections 10 and 11 of Rule evidence is material to guilt or punishment, irrespective of the good faith or
117 do provide an accused the right to move for a bill of particulars and for bad faith of the prosecution." Its progeny is the 1935 case of Mooney v.
production or inspection of material evidence in possession of the Holohan 47 which laid down the proposition that a prosecutor's intentional
prosecution. 42 But these provisions apply after the filing of the Complaint use of perjured testimony to procure conviction violates due process. Thus,
or Information in court and the rights are accorded to the accused to assist evolved jurisprudence firming up the prosecutor's duty to disclose to the
them to make an intelligent plea at arraignment and to prepare for trial. 43 defense exculpatory evidence in its possession. 48 The rationale is well put
by Justice Brennan in Brady 49 "society wins not only when the guilty are In democratic settings, media coverage of trials of sensational cases cannot
convicted but when criminal trials are fair." Indeed, prosecutors should not be avoided and oftentimes, its excessiveness has been aggravated by kinetic
treat litigation like a game of poker where surprises can be sprung and developments in the telecommunications industry. For sure, few cases can
where gain by guile is not punished. match the high volume and high velocity of publicity that attended the
preliminary investigation of the case at bar. Our daily diet of facts and
But given the right of petitioners to compel the NBI to disclose exculpatory fiction about the case continues unabated even today. Commentators still
evidence in their favor, we are not prepared to rule that the initial non- bombard the public with views not too many of which are sober and
production of the original sworn statement of Alfaro dated April 28, 1995 sublime. Indeed, even the principal actors in the case the NBI, the
could have resulted in the reasonable likelihood that the DOJ Panel would respondents, their lawyers and their sympathizers have participated in
not have found probable cause. To be sure, the NBI, on July 4, 1995, upon this media blitz. The possibility of media abuses and their threat to a fair
request of petitioners, submitted a photocopy of Alfaro's April 28, 1995 trial notwithstanding, criminal trials cannot be completely closed to the
sworn statement. It explained it cannot produce the original as it had been press and the public. In the seminal case of Richmond Newspapers, Inc. v.
lost. Fortunately, petitioners, on July 28, 1995, were able to obtain a copy of Virginia, 53 it was wisely held:
the original from Atty. Arturo Mercader in the course of the proceedings in
Civil Case No. 951099. 50 As petitioners admit, the DOJ Panel accepted the xxx xxx xxx
original of Alfaro's April 28, 1995 sworn statement as a part of their
evidence. 51 Petitioners thus had the fair chance to explain to the DOJ Panel (a) The historical evidence of the evolution of the criminal trial in
then still conducting their preliminary investigation the exculpatory aspects Anglo-American justice demonstrates conclusively that at the time
of this sworn statement. Unfortunately for petitioners, the DOJ Panel still this Nation's organic laws were adopted, criminal trials both here
found probable cause to charge them despite the alleged material and in England had long been presumptively open, thus giving
discrepancies between the first and second sworn statements of Alfaro. For assurance that the proceedings were conducted fairly to all
reasons we have expounded, this finding of probable cause cannot be struck concerned and discouraging perjury, the misconduct of
down as done with grave abuse of discretion. 52 On the other hand, the FBI participants, or decisions based on secret bias or partiality. In
Report while corroborative of the alibi of petitioner Webb cannot by itself addition, the significant community therapeutic value of public
reverse the probable cause finding of the DOJ Panel in light of the totality trials was recognized: when a shocking crime occurs, a community
of evidence presented by the NBI. reaction of outrage and public protest often follows, and thereafter
the open processes of justice serve an important prophylactic
Finally, we come to the argument of petitioner that the DOJ Panel lost its purpose, providing an outlet for community concern, hostility, and
impartiality due to the prejudicial publicity waged in the press and emotion. To work effectively, it is important that society's criminal
broadcast media by the NBI. process "satisfy the appearance of justice," Offutt v. United States,
348 US 11, 14, 99 L Ed 11, 75 S Ct 11, which can best be provided
Again, petitioners raise the effect of prejudicial publicity on their right to by allowing people to observe such process. From this unbroken,
due process while undergoing preliminary investigation. We find no uncontradicted history, supported by reasons as valid today as in
procedural impediment to its early invocation considering the substantial centuries past, it must be concluded that a presumption of openness
risk to their liberty while undergoing a preliminary investigation. inheres in the very nature of a criminal trial under this Nation's
system of justice, Cf., e.g., Levine v. United States, 362 US 610, 4
L Ed 2d 989, 80 S Ct 1038.
In floating this issue, petitioners touch on some of the most problematic
areas in constitutional law where the conflicting demands of freedom of
speech and of the press, the public's right to information, and an accused's (b) The freedoms of speech, press, and assembly, expressly
right to a fair and impartial trial collide and compete for prioritization. The guaranteed by the First Amendment, share a common core purpose
process of pinpointing where the balance should be struck has divided men of assuring freedom of communication on matters relating to the
of learning as the balance keeps moving either on the side of liberty or on functioning of government. In guaranteeing freedoms such as those
the side of order as the tumult of the time and the welfare of the people of speech and press, the First Amendment can be read as protecting
dictate. The dance of balance is a difficult act to follow. the right of everyone to attend trials so as to give meaning to those
explicit guarantees; the First Amendment right to receive
information and ideas means, in the context of trials, that the It all remains to state that the Vizconde case will move to a more critical
guarantees of speech and press, standing alone, prohibit stage as petitioners will now have to undergo trial on the merits. We stress
government from summarily closing courtroom doors which had that probable cause is not synonymous with guilt and while the light of
long been open to the public at the time the First Amendment was publicity may be a good disinfectant of unfairness, too much of its heat can
adopted. Moreover, the right of assembly is also relevant, having bring to flame an accused's right to fair trial. Without imposing on the trial
been regarded not only as an independent right but also as a judge the difficult task of supervising every specie of speech relating to the
catalyst to augment the free exercise of the other First Amendment case at bar, it behooves her to be reminded of the duty of a trial judge in
rights with which it was deliberately linked by high profile criminal cases to control publicity prejudicial to the fair
the draftsmen. A trial courtroom is a public place where the people administration of justice. 55 The Court reminds judges that our ability to
generally and representatives of the media have a right to be dispense impartial justice is an issue in every trial and in every criminal
present, and where their presence historically has been thought to prosecution, the judiciary always stands as a silent accused. More than
enhance the integrity and quality of what takes place. convicting the guilty and acquitting the innocent, the business of the
judiciary is to assure fulfillment of the promise that justice shall be done
(c) Even though the Constitution contains no provision which by and is done and that is the only way for the judiciary to get an acquittal
its terms guarantees to the public the right to attend criminal trials, from the bar of public opinion.
various fundamental rights, not expressly guaranteed, have been
recognized as indispensable to the enjoyment of enumerated rights. IN VIEW WHEREOF, the petitions are dismissed for lack of showing of
The right to attend criminal trials is implicit in the guarantees of grave abuse of discretion on the part of the respondents. Costs against
the First Amendment; without the freedom to attend such trials, petitioners.
which people have exercised for centuries, important aspects of
freedom of speech and of the press could be eviscerated. SO ORDERED.

Be that as it may, we recognize that pervasive and prejudicial publicity


under certain circumstances can deprive an accused of his due process right
to fair trial. Thus, in Martelino, et al. vs. Alejandro, et al., 54 we held that to
warrant a finding of prejudicial publicity there must be allegation and proof
that the judges have been unduly influenced, not simply that they might be,
by the barrage of publicity. In the case at bar, we find nothing in the records
that will prove that the tone and content, of the publicity that attended the
investigation of petitioners fatally infected the fairness and impartiality of
the DOJ Panel. Petitioners cannot just rely on the subliminal effects of
publicity on the sense of fairness of the DOJ Panel, for these are basically
unbeknown and beyond knowing. To be sure, the DOJ Panel is composed
of an Assistant Chief State Prosecutor and Senior State Prosecutors. Their
long experience in criminal investigation is a factor to consider in
determining whether they can easily be blinded by the klieg lights of
publicity. Indeed, their 26-page Resolution carries no indubitable indicia of
bias for it does not appear that they considered any extra-record evidence
except evidence properly adduced by the parties. The length of time the
investigation was conducted despite its summary nature and the generosity
with which they accommodated the discovery motions of petitioners speak
well of their fairness. At no instance, we note, did petitioners seek the
disqualification of any member of the DOJ Panel on the ground of bias
resulting from their bombardment of prejudicial publicity.
That on or about the 13th day of July, 1991, in the Municipality of
Makati, Metro Manila, Philippines and within the jurisdiction of
this Honorable Court, the said Claudio Teehankee, Jr. y Javier,
armed with a handgun, with intent to kill and evident
premeditation and by means of treachery, did then and there
wilfully, unlawfully and feloniously attack, assault and shoot with
and shoot with the said handgun Roland John Chapman who war
hit in the chest, thereby inflicting mortal wounds which directly
caused the death of said Roland John Chapman.

Contrary to law. 2

The Amended Information for Murder in Criminal Case No. 91-4606 reads:

That on or about the 13th day of July, 1991, in the Municipality of


Makati, Metro Manila, Philippines and within the jurisdiction of
Republic of the Philippines this Honorable Court, the said Claudio Teehankee, Jr. y Javier,
SUPREME COURT armed with a handgun, with intent to kill and evident
Manila premeditation, and by means of treachery, did then and there
wilfully, unlawfully and feloniously attack, assault and shoot with
SECOND DIVISION the said handgun Maureen Navarro Hultman who was hit in the
head, thereby inflicting moral wounds which directly caused the
death of the said Maureen Hultman.

G.R. Nos. 111206-08 October 6, 1995 CONTRARY TO LAW. 3

PEOPLE OF THE PHILIPPINES, plaintiff-appellee, Finally, the Information for Frustrated Murder in Criminal Case No. 91-4607 reads:
vs.
CLAUDIO TEEHANKEE, JR., accused-appellant. That on or about the 13th day of July, 1991, in the Municipality of
Makati, Metro Manila, Philippines and within the jurisdiction of
this Honorable Court, the above-named accused, while armed with
a handgun, with intent to kill, treachery and evident premeditation
did then and there wilfully, unlawfully and feloniously attack,
PUNO, J.:
assault and shoot one Jussi Olavi Leino on the head, thereby
inflicting gunshot wounds, which ordinarily would have caused the
Three (3) separate Informations were filed against accused Claudio Teehankee, Jr. death of said Jussi Olavi Leino, thereby performing all the acts of
for the shooting of Roland John Chapman, Jussi Olavi Leino and Maureen Hultman. execution which would have produced the crime of murder as a
Initially, he was charged with: MURDER for the killing of ROLAND CHAPMAN, consequence, but nevertheless did not produce it by reason of
and two (2) FRUSTRATED MURDER for the shooting and wounding of JUSSI cause or causes independent of his will, that is, due to the timely
LEINO and MAUREEN HULTMAN. When Hultman died on October 17, 1991, and able medical assistance rendered to said Jussi Olavi Leino
during the course of the trial, the Information for Frustrated Murder against accused which prevented his death.
was amended to MURDER. 1
Contrary to law. 4
The Information for murder in Criminal Case No. 91-4605 thus reads:
In the two (2) Informations for frustrated murder initially filed against accused, bail After a while, Maureen requested Leino to take her home at Campanilla Street,
was set at twenty thousand pesos (P20,000.00) each. No bail was recommended for Dasmarias Village, Makati. Chapman tagged along. 12 When they entered the
the murder of Roland John Chapman. A petition for bail was thus filed by accused. village, Maureen asked Leino to stop along Mahogany Street, about a block away
Hearing was set on August 9, 1991, while his arraignment was scheduled on August from her house in Campanilla Street. She wanted to walk the rest of the way for she
14, 1991. did not like to create too much noise in going back to her house. She did not want her
parents to know that she was going home that late. Leino offered to walk with her
At the hearing of the petition for bail on August 9, 1991, the prosecution manifested while Chapman stayed in the car and listened to the radio. 13
that it would present the surviving victim, Jussi Leino, to testify on the killing of
Chapman and on the circumstances resulting to the wounding of the witness himself Leino and Maureen started walking on the sidewalk along Mahogany Street. When
and Hultman. Defense counsel Atty. Rodolfo Jimenez objected on the ground that they reached the corner of Caballero and Mahogany Streets, a light-colored
the incident pending that day was hearing of the evidence on the petition for bail Mitsubishi box-type Lancer car, driven by accused Claudio Teehankee, Jr., came up
relative to the murder charge for the killing of Chapman only. He opined that Leino's from behind them and stopped on the middle of the road. Accused alighted from his
testimony on the frustrated murder charges with respect to the wounding of Leino car, approached them, and asked: "Who are you? (Show me your) I.D." Leino
and Hultman would be irrelevant. 5 thought accused only wanted to check their identities. He reached into his pocket,
took out his plastic wallet, and handed to accused his Asian Development Bank
Private prosecutor, Atty. Rogelio Vinluan, countered that time would be wasted if (ADB) I.D. 14 Accused did not bother to look at his I.D. as he just grabbed Leino's
the testimony of Leino would be limited to the killing of Chapman considering that wallet and pocketed it. 15
the crimes for which accused were charged involved only one continuing incident.
He pleaded that Leino should be allowed to testify on all three (3) charges to obviate Chapman saw the incident. All of a sudden, he manifested from behind Leino and
delay and the inconvenience of recalling him later to prove the two (2) frustrated inquired what was going on. He stepped down on the sidewalk and asked accused:
murder charges. 6 "Why are you bothering us?" Accused pushed Chapman, dug into his shirt, pulled
out a gun and fired at him. Chapman felt his upper body, staggered for a moment,
By way of accommodation, the defense suggested that if the prosecution wanted to and asked: "Why did you shoot me?" Chapman crumpled on the sidewalk. Leino
present Leino to testify on all three (3) charges, it should wait until after the knelt beside Chapman to assist him but accused ordered him to get up and leave
arraignment of accused on August 14, 1991. The defense pointed out that if accused Chapman alone. 16
did not file a petition for bail, the prosecution would still have to wait until after
accused had been arraigned before it could present Leino. 7 Accused then turned his ire on Leino. He pointed gun at him and asked: "Do you
want a trouble?" Leino said "no" and took a step backward. The shooting initially
The private prosecutor agreed to defer the hearing on the petition for bail until after shocked Maureen. When she came to her senses, she became hysterical and started
arraignment of accused on the condition that there shall be trial on the merits and, at screaming for help. She repeatedly shouted: "Oh, my God, he's got a gun. He's gonna
the same time, hearing on the petition for bail. The defense counsel acceded. 8 kill us. Will somebody help us?"

Upon arraignment, accused pleaded not guilty to the three (3) charges. The All the while, accused was pointing his gun to and from Leino to Maureen, warning
prosecution then started to adduce evidence relative to all three (3) cases. No the latter to shut up. Accused ordered Leino to sit down on the sidewalk. Leino
objection was made by the defense. 9 obeyed and made no attempt to move away. Accused stood 2-3 meters away from
him. He knew he could not run far without being shot by accused.
A replay of the facts will show that on July 12, 1991, Jussi Olavi Leino invited
Roland Chapman, Maureen Hultman and other friends for a party at his house in Maureen continued to be hysterical. She could not stay still. She strayed to the side
Forbes Park, Makati. The party started at about 8:30 p.m. and ended at past midnight. of accused's car. Accused tried but failed to grab her. Maureen circled around
They then proceeded to Roxy's, a pub where students of International School hang accused's car, trying to put some distance between them. The short chase lasted for a
out. 10 After an hour, they transferred to Vintage, another pub in Makati, where they minute or two. Eventually, accused caught Maureen and repeatedly enjoined her to
stayed until past 3:00 a.m. of July 13, 1991. Their group returned to Roxy's to pick shut up and sit down beside Leino. 17
up a friend of Maureen, then went back to Leino's house to eat. 11
Maureen finally sat beside Leino on the sidewalk. Two (2) meters away and directly logbook (Exhibit "B"). He also jotted down the license plate control number of the
in front of them stood accused. 18 For a moment, accused turned his back from the gunman's car as 566. 31
two. He faced them again and shot Leino. Leino was hit on the upper jaw, fell
backwards on the sidewalk, but did not lose consciousness. Leino heard another shot The security guards of Dasmarias Village came after a few minutes. They rushed
and saw Maureen fall beside him. He lifted his head to see what was happening and Leino and Maureen to the Makati Medical Center for treatment. 32
saw accused return to his car and drive away. 19
The Makati police and agents of the NBI also came. Patrolman JAMES BALDADO
Leino struggled to his knees and shouted for help. He noticed at least three (3) of the Makati police, together with SPO3 ALBERTO FERNANDEZ, investigated
people looking on and standing outside their houses along Caballero Street. 20 The the incident. 33 Their initial investigation disclosed that the gunman's car was a box-
three were: DOMINGO FLORECE, a private security guard hired by Stephen Roxas type Mitsubishi Lancer with plate control number 566. They checked the list of
to secure his residence at #1357 Caballero Street, Dasmarias Village, Makati; 21 vehicles registered with the village Homeowners' Association and were able to track
VICENTE MANGUBAT, a stay-in driver of Margarita Canto, residing at #1352 down two (2) Lancer cars bearing plate control number 566. One was registered in
Caballero Street, corner Mahogany Street, Dasmarias Village; 22 and AGRIPINO the name of JOSE MONTAO of 1823 Santan Street, Dasmarias Village, with
CADENAS, a private security guard assigned at the house of Rey Dempsey, located plate number PKX 566, and another was traced to accused CLAUDIO
at #1351 Caballero Street, corner Mahogany Street, Dasmarias Village. 23 TEEHANKEE, JR., of 1339 Caballero Street, Dasmarias Village, with plate
number PDW 566.
Security guards Florece and Cadenas were then on duty at the house of their
employer, while driver Mangubat was in his quarters, preparing to return to his own SALVADOR RANIN, Chief of the Special Operations Group (SOG) of the NBI,
house. These three (3) eyewitnesses heard the first gunshot while at their respective was also tasked by then NBI Director Alfredo Lim 34 to head a team to investigate
posts. the shooting. Ranin's team immediately proceeded to the house of Jose Montao 35
where they found ahead of them the Makati police and operatives of the
Upon hearing the first shot, Florece went out to Caballero Street to see what was Constabulary Highway Patrol. Ranin tried to verify from Mrs. Montao whether the
happening, while Mangubat and Cadenas peeped over the fence of their employer's white Lancer car registered in the name of Mr. Montao and bearing plate number
house and looked out to Caballero Street. Each saw a man (Chapman) sprawled on 566 was the gunman's car. Mrs. Montao denied and declared they had already sold
the ground, another man (Leino) sitting on the sidewalk, a third man standing up ad the car to Saldaa Enterprises. She averred the car was being used by one Ben Conti,
holding a gun and a woman (Hultman). They saw the gunman shoot Leino and a comptroller in said company, who resides in Cubao, Quezon City. Mrs. Montao
Hultman and flee aboard his Lancer car. However, because of Florece's distance called up her husband and informed him about the investigation. She also called up
from the scene of the crime, 24 he was not able to discern the face of the gunman. He Conti and asked him to bring the car to the house. 36
saw the control numbers of the gunman's car as 566. He described the gateway car as
a box-type Lancer, its color somewhat white ("medyo maputi"). 25 Cadenas noticed Jose Montao came around noon. Conti followed with white Lancer car. Ranin
in full the plate number of the getaway car and gave it as PDW 566. He described the brought them to the NBI office for investigation, together with Lancer car. At the
car as silver metallic gray. 26 Both Cadenas and Mangubat saw the gunman's face. NBI Ranin inquired from Montao the whereabouts of his car on July 12 and 13,
They had a good look at him. Cadenas was then a mere four (4) meters away from 1991. Montao informed him that the car was at the residence of his employee, Ben
the gunman's car, 27 while Mangubat was about twenty (20) meters away from the Conti, at E. Rodriguez Street, Cubao, Quezon City, the night of July 12, 1991. In the
scene of the crime. 28 The three confirmed that the corner of Caballero and morning of July 13, 1991, Conti drove the car to their office at Saldaa Enterprises.
Mahogany Streets where the shooting took place was adequately illuminated by a Conti confirmed this information. Ranin received the same confirmation from two
Meralco lamppost at the time of the incident. 29 (2) NBI agents who made a countercheck of the allegation. Upon Ranin's request,
Montao left his car at the NBI parking lot pending identification by possible
After the gunman sped away, Mangubat ran outside his employer's house and went witnesses. 37
near the scene of the crime. He noticed security guard Florece along Caballero
Street. A man on a bike passed by and Mangubat requested him to report the On July 14, 1991, a team of NBI agents conducted an on-the-spot investigation and
shooting incident to the security officers of Dasmarias Village. 30 Meanwhile, neighborhood inquiry of the shooting incident. They interviewed Domingo Florece
Florece returned to his post and narrated to his employer, Mrs. Helen Roxas, what he and asked him to report to their office the next day for further investigation. 38 They
saw. Mrs. Roxas repaired to the crime scene while Florece noted the incident in his also interviewed Agripino Cadenas who was reluctant to divulge any information
and even denied having witnessed the incident. Sensing his reluctance, they returned At accused's house, Ranin informed Mrs. Pilar Teehankee, mother of accused, of
to Cadenas' post at Dasmarias Village that night and served him a subpoena, their search warrant. Ranin also told Mrs. Teehankee that they had orders from
inviting him to appear at the NBI office for investigation the next day. 39 The NBI Director Lim to invite accused to the NBI office for investigation. Mrs. Teehankee
agents also talked with Armenia Asliami, an Egyptian national residing at #1350 informed them that accused was not in the house at that time. She excused herself,
Caballero Street, Dasmarias Village, near the scene of the crime. Asliami informed went to the kitchen and called up someone on the phone. 46
the agents that the gunman's car was not white but light gray. A foreign national,
Asliami was afraid and refused to give a statement about the incident. The agents In the meantime, Ranin and his men slipped to the Teehankee garage and secured
exerted every effort to convince Asliami to cooperate, assuring her of their accused's car. After a while, Mrs. Teehankee joined them. Ranin asked her for the
protection. Ranin even asked a representative of the Egyptian embassy to coax car keys but she told him that the keys were with accused. Upon Ranin's request,
Asliami to cooperate. They failed. 40 Mrs. Teehankee got in touch with accused on the phone. Ranin conversed with
accused and invited him to the NBI for investigation. Accused assured Ranin that he
On July 15, 1991, Florece and Cadenas appeared at the NBI office as summoned. would report to the NBI later that day. The agents then towed the car of accused to
Florece readily executed a sworn statement. 41 Cadenas, however, continued to feign the NBI office. 47
ignorance and bridled his knowledge of the incident. He was lengthily interviewed.
At around 2:00 p.m., the NBI agents informed SOG Chief Ranin that Cadenas was At around 9:00 p.m., accused's brother, Raul Teehankee, arrived at the NBI office
still withholding information from them. Ranin talked to Cadenas in his office. and waited for accused. Accused came, escorted by three (3) Makati policemen, after
Cadenas confided to Ranin his fear to get involved in the case. He was apprehensive an hour. He informed them that he just came from the Makati police station where he
that the gunman would harass or harm him or his family. After Ranin assured him of was also investigated. He told Lim that he was given a statement to the Makati police
NBI protection, Cadenas relented. 42 and was brought to the PC Crime Laboratory for paraffin test. 48

The next day, July 16, 1991, Cadenas gave a full disclosure to Ranin. He described Accused's NBI investigation started. Lim asked accused of the whereabouts of his
the gunman's car as a box-type Lancer with plate number PDW 566. He was brought Lancer car at the time of the shooting. Accused claimed that his car was involved in
to the NBI parking lot where Montao's white Lancer car was parked to identify the an accident a few weeks back and was no longer functioning. The car had been
gunman's car. Ranin asked Cadenas if Montao's was the gunman's car. Cadenas parked in his mother's house at Dasmarias Village since then. Due to the lateness of
replied that its color was different. Ranin directed him to look around the cars in the the evening, the group decided to continue the investigation the following day. 49
parking lot and to point the color that most resembled the color of the gunman's car.
He pointed to a light gray car. Ranin told him that the color of the car he pointed to The next day, July 17, 1991, after breakfast at the Manila Hotel, Lim pressed
was not white but light gray. 43 accused on what really happened at Dasmarias Village. Accused said he did not see
anything. Lim apprised accused that he would be confronted with some
Ranin then asked Cadenas if he could identify the gunman. Cadenas replied in the eyewitnesses. Accused sank into silence. 50
affirmative. Ranin led Cadenas to his office and showed him ten (10) pictures of
different men (Exhibits "CC-1" to "CC-10) taken from the NBI files. One of the Lim directed Ranin to prepare a lineup at his office. Accused was requested to join
pictures belonged to accused Claudio Teehankee, Jr. Cadenas studied the pictures,
the lineup composed of seven (7) men and he acceded. Cadenas was called from an
picked accused's picture (Exhibit "CC-7"), and identified him as the gunman. adjoining room 51 and Ranin asked him to identify the gunman from the lineup.
Cadenas wrote his name and the date at the back of said picture. Atty. Alex Tenerife Forthwith, Cadenas pointed to accused. 52 Accused merely stared at Cadenas. 53
of the NBI then took down Cadenas' statement. 44
On the same day, then Asst. Director Epimaco Velasco, Ranin and two (2) other
Ranin sent his agents and the witnesses to the Makati Regional Trial Court to apply agents brought accused to Forbes Park for further identification by the surviving
for a search warrant. After a searching examination of the witnesses, Judge Rebecca victim, Jussi Leino. Leino has just been discharged from the hospital the day before.
Salvador issued a search warrant (Exhibit "RR"), authorizing the NBI to search and
Since Leino's parents were worried about his safety, they requested the NBI to
seize the silver metallic gray, 1983 Mitsubishi Lancer car owned by accused, bearing conduct the identification of the gunman in Forbes Park where the Leinos also
plate number PDW 566. Ranin and his agents drove to accused's house at #1339 reside. The NBI agreed. 54
Caballero Street, Dasmarias Village, to implement the warrant. 45
House security agents from the U.S. embassy fetched Leino at his house and escorted Village by other Makati
him and his father to a vacant house in Forbes Park, along Narra Avenue. After a policemen. 61
couple of minutes, Leino was brought out of the house and placed in a car with
slightly tinted windows. The car was parked about five (5) meters away from the Two (2) days later, Pat. Baldado visited Mangubat at his employer's house and asked
house. Inside the car with Leino was his father, NBI-SOG Chief Salvador Ranin and him again if accused was really the gunman. Once more, Mangubat answered in the
a driver. Leino was instructed to look at the men who would be coming out of the affirmative. Pat. Baldado told Mangubat that he would no longer ask him to sign a
house and identify the gunman from the lineup. 55 statement which he (Baldado) earlier prepared (Exhibit "HHH"). 62 Baldado then left.
63

A group of five to six men (including accused) then came out of the unoccupied
house, into the street, in a line-up. Leino noticed that one of them was wearing In the afternoon of July 23, 1991, Mangubat was also questioned by the NBI agents.
sunglasses. Since Leino could not yet speak at that time due to the extensive injury Director Lim asked Mangubat if he could recognize the gunman. Mangubat said he
on his tongue, he wrote down on a piece of paper a request for one of the men in the could. Mangubat was shown twelve (12) pictures (Exhibits "E" to "E-11) of different
lineup to remove his sunglasses. Leino handed this written request to his father. The men and was asked to identify the gun gunman from them. He chose one picture
men in the lineup were herded back inside the house. After a couple of minutes, they (Exhibit "E-10"), that of accused, and identified him as the gunman. Mangubat's
again stepped out and none was wearing sunglasses. From the lineup, Leino statement was taken. He was asked to return to the NBI the next day to make a
identified accused as the gunman. 56 personal identification. 64

The agents brought back accused to the NBI. They prepared and referred the cases of When Mangubat returned, a lineup was prepared in Lim's office in the presence of
murder and double frustrated murder against accused to the Department of Justice the media. At that time, accused's counsels, Attys. Jimenez and Malvar, were at the
for appropriate action. At the inquest, Fiscal Dennis Villa-Ignacio did not office of then Asst. Director Epimaco Velasco protesting to the submission of
recommend bail insofar as the murder charge was concerned. Hence, accused was accused to identification. They pointed out that since the cases against accused had
detained at the NBI. 57 already been filed in court and they have secured a court order for the transfer of
accused to the Makati municipal jail, any identification of accused should be made in
The shooting incident was also investigated by the Makati Police. Pat. Baldado went the courtroom. Asst. Director Velasco insisted on the identification as it was part of
to see security guard Vicente Mangubat at his post, at the residence of his employer their on-going investigation. Eventually, accused's counsels acquiesced but requested
in Dasmarias Village. Baldado interviewed Mangubat and invited him to the Makati that identification be made without the presence of the media. Velasco turned them
police station where his statement (Exhibit "D") was taken. 58 down and explained that if accused is not identified n the lineup, the media coverage
would favor accused. 65
The next day, July 16, 1991, at about 8:30 a.m., Pat. Baldado fetched Mangubat from
his house and brought him to the Makati police station. At the station, Baldado told All that time, accused was at the SOG office. He refused to join the lineup at Lim's
him to wait for a man who would be coming and see if the person was the gunman. office and remained seated. Ranin was compelled to bring to the SOG office the men
Mangubat was posted at the top of the stairs at the second floor of the station. 59 composing the lineup and he asked them to go near accused. Ranin then told
Mangubat to go in the office. Mangubat pointed to accused as the gunman.
After a couple of hours, accused, came with Makati police Major Lovete. He
ascended the stairs, passed by Mangubat and proceeded to Major Lovete's office at With the identification of accused by Mangubat, the NBI wrote finis to its
the second floor. While accused was going up the stairs, Pat. Baldado inquired from investigation. 66
Mangubat if accused was the gunman. Mangubat initially declined to identify
accused, saying that he wanted to see the man again to be sure. He also confided to JUSSI LEINO, the surviving victim, suffered the following injuries:
Pat. Baldado that he was nervous and afraid for accused was accompanied by a
police Major. When accused came out from Major Lovete's office, Pat. Baldado
FINDINGS:
again asked Mangubat if accused was the gunman. Mangubat nodded his head in
response. 60 Accused, together with Major Lovete and Pat. Baldado, boarded a
Mercedes Benz and left. Mangubat was brought back to his post at Dasmarias = Abrasion, 0.5 cm., temporal area, left.
= Wound, gunshot, entrance, circular in shape, Dr. Solis also testified as to the relative position of Leino and the gunman. He opined
1.0 cm. in diameter, located at the upper lip, that the muzzle of the gun, like in the case of Maureen, must have been at a higher
mouth, along the medial line, directed backwards level than the victim's head. He concluded that the gun must have been pointed
and downwards, fracturing the maxillary bone above Leino's head considering the acuteness and downward trajectory of the bullet.
69
and central and lateral incisors, both sides, to the
buccal cavity then lacerating the tongue with
fragments of the bullet lodged in the right Dr. Leovigildo C. Isabela, a neuro-surgeon at the Makati Medical Center, operated
palatine, tongue and tonsillar region. on MAUREEN HULTMAN. He testified that when he first saw Maureen, she was
unconscious and her face was bloodied all over. Maureen had a bullet hole on the left
SKULL side of the forehead, above the eyebrow. Brain tissues were oozing out of her nostrils
CHEST FOR RIBS X-RAY #353322 and on the left side of the forehead where the bullet entered. 70
July 13, 1991
They brought Maureen to the x-ray room for examination of her skull. She was also
No demonstrable evidence of fracture. Note of given a CT scan. The examination revealed that she suffered injuries on the skull and
radioopaque foreign body (bullet fragments) brain. There were several splintered bullets in her brain and the major portion of the
along the superior alveolar border on the right. bullet, after it fragmented, was lodged beneath her right jaw. 71
No remarkable findings.
Maureen was rushed to the operating room for surgery. Dr. Isabela led a team who
CT SCAN #43992 July 13, 1991 operated on her brain to arrest the bleeding inside her head, remove devitalized brain
tissues and retrieve the splintered bullets embedded in her brain. Due to the extensive
Small hyperdensities presumably bullet and bone swelling of Maureen's brain and her very unstable condition, he failed to patch the
fragments in the right palatine, tongue and destroyed undersurface covering of her brain. 72 After the surgery, Maureen's vital
tonsillar regions with associated soft tissue signs continued to function but she remained unconscious. She was wheeled to the
swelling. ICU for further observation.

Anterior maxillary bone comminuted fracture. Two (2) weeks later, brain tissues and fluid continue to flow out of Maureen's
nostrils due to the unpatched undersurface covering of her brain, leaving the swollen
portion of her brain exposed. A second surgery was made on July 30, 1991 to repair
Temporal lobe contusions with small hematomata on the right side.
Maureen's brain covering. He used the fascia lata of Maureen's right thigh to replace
the destroyed covering of the brain. Nonetheless, Maureen remained unconscious.
Minimal subarachnoid hemorrhage. The trickle of brain tissues through her nose was lessened but Maureen developed
infection as a result of the destruction of her brain covering. Maureen developed
Intact bone calvarium. brain abscess because of the infection. She underwent a third operation to remove
brain abscess and all possible focus of infection. 73
xxx xxx xxx 67
Testifying on the extensive injuries suffered by Maureen Hultman, Dr. Solis
Dr. Pedro Solis, testified that the bullet entered the left temple of Leino. After explained that Maureen was shot at the left side of the forehead. The bullet entry was
entering Leino's head, it fractured his upper jaw and his front teeth. Some of the at 1.5 cm. above the eyebrow. Upon entering the forehead, the bullet fragmented into
bullet fragments pierced his palette and tongue. Brain scanning revealed contusions pieces and went from the left to the right side of the temple, fracturing the frontal
on the temporal lobe and hemorrhage on the covering of the brain. Physical bone of the skull. The bullet eventually settled behind the right jaw of Maureen. 74
deformity resulted as a consequence of the gunshot wound because of the fractured
upper jaw and the loss of the front teeth. Sutures were performed on the upper The wound inflicted on Maureen was mortal for it hit one of the most vital parts of
portion of his tongue. Nonetheless, Leino's injuries on the tongue caused him the body, the brain. When Maureen was subjected to CT scan, they discovered
difficulty in speaking. 68
hemorrhage in her brain. After the bullet hit her head, it caused hemorrhagic lesion Accused said that on July 16, 1991, he went to the Makati police station at around
on the ventricles of the brain and the second covering of the brain. 75 5:00 p.m. upon invitation of Chief of Police Remy Macaspac and Major Lovete who
wanted to ask him about the ownership of the Lancer car parked in his mother's
The bullet also injured Maureen's eye sockets. There was swelling underneath the house. He readily gave a statement to the Makati police denying complicity in the
forehead brought about by edema in the area. Scanning also showed that Maureen's crime. He submitted himself to a paraffin test. He was accompanied by the Makati
right jaw was affected by the fragmented bullet. The whole interior portion of her police to the Crime Laboratory in Camp Crame and was tested negative for
nose was also swollen. 76 gunpowder nitrates. 83 After the test, he asked the Makati policemen to accompany
him to the NBI for he had earlier committed to his mother that he would present
himself to Director Lim. 84
A team of doctors operated on Maureen's brain. They tried to control the internal
bleeding and remove the splintered bullets, small bone fragments and dead tissues.
The main bullet was recovered behind Maureen's right jaw. There was also an acute He arrived at Director Lim's office at about 9:30 to 10:00 p.m. He furnished Lim
downward trajectory of the bullet. Hence, it was opined that Maureen was shot while with the statement he earlier gave to the Makati police. Thereafter, Lim detained him
she was seated. 77 at the NBI against his will. 85

With each passing day, Maureen's condition deteriorated. Even if Maureen survived, The following day, July 17, 1991, Lim and his agents brought him to the Manila
she would have led a vegetating life and she would have needed assistance in the Hotel for breakfast. When they returned to the NBI, he was asked to proceed to Lim's
execution of normal and ordinary routines. 78 She would have been completely blind office. On his way, he saw a lineup formed inside Lim's office. The NBI agents
on the left eye and there was possibility she would have also lost her vision on the forced him to join the lineup and placed him in the number seven (7) slot. He
right eye. All her senses would have been modified and the same would have observed that the man who was to identify him was already in the room. As soon as
affected her motor functions. There was practically no possibility for Maureen to he walked up to the lineup, Cadenas identified him as the gunman. 86
return to normal. 79
A second identification was made on the same day at a house in Forbes Park. The
Maureen did not survive her ordeal. After ninety-seven (97) days of confinement in NBI agents brought him to Forbes Park but he never saw Jussi Leino who allegedly
the hospital, she ceased to be a breathing soul on October 17, 1991. identified him as the gunman in a lineup. 87

For his exculpation, accused relied on the defense of denial and alibi. Accused A third identification was conducted on July 24, 1991. He was then seated at the
claimed that on said date and time, he was not anywhere near the scene of the crime. office of Ranin for he refused to join another lineup. Despite his protest, the NBI
He alleged that he was then in his house at #53 San Juan, Barrio Kapitolyo, Pasig. agents insisted on the conduct of the identification and ordered a group of men to
He slept at around 1:00 a.m. on July 13, 1991 and woke up at around 8:00 or 9:00 line up alongside him. While thus seated, he was identified by Mangubat as the
a.m. that same morning. Accused avowed his two (2) maids could attest to his gunman. He complained that he was not assisted by counsel at any stage of said
presence in his house that fateful day. 80 investigation. 88

Accused averred that he only came to know the three (3) victims in the Dasmarias The defense also presented CLAUDIO TEEHANKEE III, son of accused Claudio
shooting when he read the newspaper reports about it. He denied knowing Teehankee, Jr. He testified that from May 1989 to February 1991, he had been using
prosecution eyewitnesses Agripino Cadenas and Vicente Mangubat before they his father's Lancer car bearing plate number PDW 566 in going to school. 89
identified him as the gunman. 81
In February 1991, while driving his father's Lancer car, he accidentally hit a bicycle
Accused admitted ownership of a box-type, silver metallic gray Mitsubishi Lancer, driver and two (2) trucks parked at the side of the road. The accident resulted in the
with plate number PDW 566. He, however, claimed that said car ceased to be in death of the bicycle driver and damage to his father's car, 90 especially on its body.
good running condition after its involvement in an accident in February 1991. Since The timing of the engine became a little off and the car was hard to start. They had
May 1991 until the day of the shooting, his Lancer car had been parked in the garage the car repaired at Reliable Shop located in Banawe Street, Quezon city. After a
of his mother's house in Dasmarias Village. He has not used this car since then. month, he brought the car to the residence of his grandmother, Pilar Teehankee, at
Accused, however, conceded that although the car was not in good running Dasmarias Village, Makati. He personally started the car's engine and drove it to
condition, it could still be used. 82 Makati from the shop in Quezon City. He did not bring the car to their house in Pasig
for it was still scheduled for further repairs and they preferred to have the repair done shooting. The other witnesses he interviewed confirmed that Montao's white Lancer
in a shop in Makati. Teehankee III claimed that from that time on, he was prohibited car was not in the vicinity of Montao's residence at the time of the incident. 96
by his father from using the car because of his careless driving. He kept the keys to
the car and since he was busy in school, no further repair on said car had been made. SPO3 Fernandez testified that he interviewed security guard Vicente Mangubat.
91
Mangubat saw the gunman and the get-away car but could not give the central letters
of the car's license plate. Fernandez went to one of the houses at the corner of
Accused also imputed the commission of the crimes at bar to Anders Hultman, Mahogany and Caballero Streets and asked the maid therein if he could use the
adoptive father of deceased victim Maureen Hultman. He capitalized on a newspaper phone. After placing a call, the maid told him that he saw the gunman and heard one
report that the gunman may have been an overprotective father. This theory was of the victims say: "Daddy, don't shoot. Don't, don't." Fernandez tried to get the
formed when an eyewitness allegedly overheard Maureen pleading to the gunman: maid's name but the latter refused. The defense did not present this maid in court nor
"Huwag Daddy. Huwag, Daddy." The defense presented Anders Hultman as a hostile asked the court to subpoena her to testify. Neither was the alleged statement of the
witness. maid included in the Progress Report (Exhibit "13") prepared by the Makati police
investigators. 97
ANDERS HULTMAN, testified that he is a Swedish national. He and Vivian
Hultman were married in the Philippines in 1981. Vivian had two (2) children by her SPO3 Fernandez saw Mangubat the next time on July 16, 1991 when he and Baldado
previous marriage, one of whom was Maureen. He legally adopted Vivian's two (2) fetched the latter at Dasmarias Village for identification of the gunman at the
daughters in 1991. He and Vivian had three (3) children of their own. 92 Makati police station.

The defense confronted Anders with one of the angles of the crime in the initial stage At the police station, Fernandez and Baldado posted Mangubat at the lobby. After a
of the investigation, i.e., that Maureen was overhead pleading to the gunman: few minutes, accused and company arrived. When accused passed by them, they
"Huwag, Daddy. Huwag, Daddy." Anders explained that Maureen could not have instructed Mangubat to look around and see if he could identify the gunman.
uttered those words for Maureen never spoke Tagalog. He also said that all his Mangubat failed to identify accused. Mangubat told Fernandez that the gunman was
children call him "Papa," not "Daddy." 93 younger and shorter than accused. 98

On July 12, 1991, he and Vivian permitted Maureen to have a night out but
instructed her to be home by 2:00 a.m. Maureen just received her first salary in her
first job and she wanted to celebrate with friends. At the time of the shooting, he and
his wife were sleeping in their house. He woke up at around 5:15 a.m. of July 13,
1991 when a security guard came to their house and informed them about the
killings. 94

Anders admitted he had been vocal about the VIP treatment accorded to accused at
the Makati municipal jail. On several occasions, he checked on accused in jail and
discovered that accused was not in his cell. The jail guards even covered up
accused's whereabouts. His complaint was investigated by the Congressional
Committee on Crime Prevention, headed by Congressman Concepcion. 95

The defense also presented two (2) Makati policemen, PAT. JAMES F. BALDADO
and SPO3 ALBERTO FERNANDEZ, who investigated the shooting.

Pat. Baldado testified that in the course of his investigation, he learned from Mr. Jose
Montao that he sold his white Lancer car, with plate number PKX 566, to Saldaa
Lending Investors in February 1991. This car was assigned to Ben Conti, Operations
Manager of said company and was in the residence of Conti at the time of the
Court hereby orders all the accused to jointly and severally pay the victims
respective families the following sums by way of civil indemnity:

1. the sum of P3,432,650.00 representing the actual damages


sustained by the Sarmenta family;

2. the sum of P3,484,000.00 representing the actual damages


sustained by the Gomez family;

3. the sum of P2,000,000.00 as moral damages sustained by the


Sarmenta family;

4. the sum of P2,000,000.00 as moral damages sustained by the


Gomez family;

5. the sum of P191,000.00 as attorneys fees and litigation expenses


incurred by the Gomez family; and
[G.R. No. 121039-45. January 25, 1999]
6. the sum of P164,250.00 for litigation expenses incurred by the
Sarmenta family.
THE PEOPLE OF THE PHILIPPINES, plaintiff-appellee, vs. MAYOR ANTONIO
L. SANCHEZ, GEORGE MEDIALDEA, ZIOLO AMA, BALDWIN BRION, LUIS
CORCOLON, ROGELIO CORCOLON, and PEPITO KAWIT, accused-appellants. As to the antecedents, appellants all appear to agree that the trial court, in the very
words of counselxxii[2] who prepared the consolidated brief for the Mayor and
Medialdea, made a very detailed summary of both the prosecution and defense
DECISION
evidence.xxii[3] This Court can thus conveniently provide a briefer but fairly
accurate account of the respective versions of the State and the defense on the basis
MARTINEZ, J.: of the trial courts summary, rather than combing the heap of evidence presented
by both sides.
. . . a plot seemingly hatched in hell . . .
The prosecutions version of the events on that horrible night of June 28, 1993 was
This was how Judge Harriet O. Demetriouxxii[1] of the Pasig City Regional Trial based mainly on the recollections of its star witnesses Aurelio Centeno and Vicencio
Court, Branch 70, in her 132-page Decision dated March 11, 1995 now before us on Malabanan (a member of appellant Sanchez security team) co-conspirators turned
review, emphatically described the Allan Gomez-Eileen Sarmenta rape-slay that state witnesses. Both admitted having taken part in the abduction of Eileen and
drew strong condemnation from an outraged populace in the middle of 1993. After a Allan, but denied any personal involvement in the rape of Eileen and the twin
protracted and grueling 16-month trial, she found all those charged therewith, killings that followed. Heres their story.
namely: Calauan Mayor Antonio Sanchez (hereafter the Mayor), George Medialdea,
Luis and Rogelio Corcolon, Zoilo Ama, Baldwin Brion and Pepito Kawit (appellants Medialdea (then the Deputy Chief of the PNP Calauan), together with Centeno who
herein), guilty beyond reasonable doubt of the crime of rape with homicide on seven was driving an ambulance, fetched witness Malabanan at his residence in the early
counts and sentenced each one of them: morning of June 28, 1993 on the pretext that they will apprehend one Rodolfo Calva
alias Tisoy a notorious gun runner and drug pusher in the locality. Next to be
. . . to suffer the maximum penalty of reclusion perpetua for each of the seven picked up was Ama in Barangay Masiit, then Luis Corcolon (hereafter, Luis) in
offenses or a total of seven reclusion perpetua for each accused. In addition, the Barangay Mabacan. On board the ambulance, the five (5) men made stopovers in
Barangays Imok and Wawa until they headed back for Calauan at past 7:00 oclock Alorico told Centeno that the Mayor had been eagerly waiting for the group and
in the evening, upon orders of Luis. worried that they will not arrive.

At the Shell gas station in the poblacion of Calauan, the five (5) men met and picked At around 1:00 a.m. of the next day, a crying Eileen was dragged out of the resthouse
up Rogelio Corcolon (hereafter, Boy), Kawit and Brion, then they proceeded to Los by Luis and Medialdea her hair disheveled, mouth covered by a handkerchief,
Baos. Along the way, Luis announced to the group that the real purpose behind the hands still tied and stripped of her shorts. The Mayor, clad merely in white polo,
Los Baos trip is to take a pretty young lass long desired by the Mayor and offer her appeared and thanked Luis and Medialdea for the gift. I am through with her.
to him as a gift. Luis, to satisfy his companions curiosity, even guaranteed that her Shes all yours, the Mayor uttered in contentment. When asked what will happen to
beauty will make their saliva drip. Allan, Medialdea assured the Mayor that they will also kill him for full measure.
Eileen and Allan were then loaded in the Tamaraw van by the appellants and headed
Not for long, the ambulance arrived at the U.P. Los Baos grounds. Witness for Calauan, followed closely by the ambulance.
Centeno drove the ambulance around the campus at a snails pace while Luis scoured
the area with watchful eyes. As the search inside the campus proved fruitless, Luis En route to Calauan, Centeno, who was driving the ambulance, noticed the van
then ordered Centeno to slowly drive out of the university compound and to stop swaying from side to side. Then he heard gunfire coming therefrom. The van pulled
upon reaching the vicinity of the Agrix complex. Luis, Boy, Ama, Brion and Kawit over whereupon Kawit dragged Allan, whose head was already drenched in blood,
alighted from the ambulance and went inside the Agrix complex. Witness Centeno out of the vehicle onto the road and finished him off with a single gunshot from his
overheard Medialdea informing the Boss, via the radio, that they were already in armalite. The ambulance and van then sped away.
the area. The Boss was the Mayor.
The next destination was a sugarcane field in Sitio Paputok, Kilometro 74 of
Inside the Agrix complex is a restaurant called Caf Amalia. Parked in front of that Barangay Mabacan. It was here that Luis announced that its tiime for the group to
establishment was a Tamaraw van. Eileen and Allan were its passengers, both feast on Eileen (the exact words of Luis were Turbohin na rin natin ang tinurbo ni
occupying the front seats. She was wearing a T-shirt, white shorts and rubber shoes. Boss). She was laid at the back of the van, with her hands and legs being held by
Armed with guns, Luis and Boy approached Eileen and Allan, forcibly took the two the appellants while waiting for their turn. Then the gang-rape began. The first to
and loaded them at the back of the van. All the appellants boarded the van while ravish Eileen was Luis, then Medialdea, Boy, Ama, Brion and finally, Kawit.
Centeno and Malabanan stayed in the ambulance. Both vehicles then headed for Bewailing the helplessness of her situation, Eileen pleaded, in between sobs and
Erais Farm situated in Barangay Curba, owned by the Mayor. whimpers, for the torture to stop. However, her tears for compassion fell, weak and
ineffective, upon the insensitive brutes. Kawit invited Centeno to join the sexual
As soon as the group arrived at the farm, the two (2) captives were brought down the fiasco but the latter refused as he cannot, in conscience, bear the bestiality being
van. Eileen was gagged by a handkerchief and her hands, like Allan, were tied. A committed on Eileen who appeared to be dead. After Kawits turn, Eileen knelt on
white towel was wound around Allans mouth. The Mayor, then wearing a jogging the seat of the van and begged for her life. Unmoved, Luis muted Eileens cried by
attire, emerged from the resthouse and asked the group: My children, whats the forcing an object into her mouth and then fired his baby armalite at her. Centeno
problem? To this Luis respondent: Mayor, this is our gift to you, the girl youve was thereafter ordered to get rid of Eileens dead body. Moments later, all eight (8)
been longing for. Shes really beautiful. But whos that man? asked the Mayor. men boarded the ambulance and proceeded to Calauan, leaving the Tamaraw van
Eileens companion, boss. Medialdea replied. We brought him along to avoid with Eileens remains behind. Along the way, Centeno and Malabanan watched in
complications, he continued. dismay as Luis, Boy, Medialdea, Ama, Brion and Kawit savored the nights
escapade, to their sickening delight. Appellants and Malabanan were then brought
to their respective homes by Centeno.
The two youngsters were then brought inside the resthouse where Eileen was taken
to the Mayors room. Allan was badly beaten up by Luis, Boy, Ama and Medialdea
and thereafter thrown out of the resthouse. Kawit followed-up by striking Allans June 29, 1993 and the day following were tense moments for the group. In the
diaphragm with the butt of an armalite, causing Allan to fall against a cement box. morning of June 29, Medialdea and Centeno fetched Malabanan, Luis and Ama.
Brion thought Allan was already dead, but Kawit said: :His death will come later. They were going to Barangay Imok to make it appear that they were conducting
some police operations in that area. Upon reaching Barangay Imok, the group saw
Allans body which they dumped a few hours earlier. Luis, Medialdea and
Meanwhile, Centeno, while waiting for further orders, joined the Mayors personal
aides Edwin Cosico and Raul Alorico watch television at the adjacent resthouse.
Malabanan alighted from the ambulance, whereupon Luis ordered Centeno to drive Coming now to the defense, each of the appellants had an alibi to tell and sought to
back to the municipal hall. put the blame on Kit Alqueza, the son of a feared general (Dictador Alqueza) who
earned the monicker Barako from the local residents.
Boy Corcolon, who was at the municipal hall, informed Ama that a dead female
loaded inside a Tamaraw van was found in Barangay Mabacan. Ama then radioed The Mayor claimed that he was at the residence of his mistress Elvira in Bay,
the PNP Chief of Calauan, Major Cao, who at that time was summoned by the Laguna in the morning of June 28, 1993. They left for Makati City at about 1:00
Mayor. Major Cano thereafter arrived and ordered one SPO2 Melencio Nuez to oclock in the afternoon thereafter proceeded to San Pablo City at around 4:00 p.m.,
investigate the matter. Meanwhile, Centeno received word that he was to fetch left that city at 7:30 p.m. and then returned to Elviras house in Bay at around 10:00
Malabanan, Luis and Medialdea in Barangay Imok. After picking up the three (3), p.m. He and Elvira retired at around 12:30 in the morning. He woke up at 5:00 a.m.
Centeno drove the ambulance to Barangay Mabacan where the dead Eileen was Jogging was his favorite form of exercise, but foul whether prevented him from
found. running that morning. His three (3) children with Elvira greeted him at around 6:30
a.m. before heading for school. He took his breakfast and lunch at Elviras house.
Eileens body lying inside the Tamaraw van was a pitiful sight. Her face bore a
gunshot wound; a handkerchief was stuffed in her mouth; her T-shirt was rolled up Medialdea, Ama and Malabanan arrived between 1:00 p.m. and 2:00 p.m. and
revealing her breasts; and her panty was rolled down on one of her feet still with informed the Mayor of the rape-slay in which Kit Alqueza was the prime suspect.
rubber shoes on. Medialdea covered Eileens exposed private parts by fixing her T- This made the Mayor very angry, for which he ordered a thorough investigation of
shirt and underwear and by placing a sackcloth over her lower body. The group then the incident to avoid any whitewash. "I will not hesitate to have the perpetrators of
escorted the van with Eileens body in it, to the UP Los Baos police station where this crime killed (by electric chair), whether a generals son in involved or not, son of
student milled around and identified the cadaver to be Eileen indeed. Later on, the a bitch!, he blurted. The Mayor then advised appellants not to worry if they were
van carrying Eileen, as well as Allans body, was brought to the Calauan municipal really innocent and that the primordial concern is that a full investigation be
hall. There, Centeno saw a prisoner named Arnold cleaning the van. conducted.

Meanwhile, Malabanan, Ama and Medialdea, on June 29, went to the site (Bgy. The Mayor then went to his residence in Calauan. At around 4:00 p.m. of that same
Imok) where Allans body was found, started asking residents about the incident and day (June 29), he sent his driver Mario Puyales to Barangays Masiit and Balayhangin
were able to retrieve an empty armalite shell. Malabanan thereafter handed the to inquire from the residents about the crime. Puyales returned at around 7:00 p.m.
empty shell to Major Cao at the police station. The three (3) men and one SPO3 and informed the Mayor that a card gambler was able to retrieve a pair of white
Rizaldy Belen, sometime in the afternoon of the same day, visited the Mayor at his shorts lying near the national highway in Barangay Balayhangin. Puyales was sent
house in Bay, Laguna. Medialdea informed the Mayor of the presence of people back to that barangay to advise the residents thereof to keep the shorts at their fence
from the CIS, NBI and press in the locality. The Mayor flared up and blamed them near the highway as it may later on aid the on-going investigation.
for not using their heads. But he later on assured them that he could fix the problem
in less the amount of a brand new car. In the morning of June 30, 1993, the Mayor, with some companions, jogged towards
the direction of Barangay Mabacan and at the same time inquired from residents
The following day, June 30, Medialdea, upon the Mayors directive, handed a pair of whether they noticed anything unusual on the night of June 28, 1993. A certain
white walking shorts to Major Cao. When Malabanan asked Medialdea whose pair Mang Torio told the Mayor that he found a pair of maong pants lying at the side
of shorts was that, the latter replied that it was the short of Eileen which the Mayor of the road but left if there. After inspecting the dirty maong pants, the Mayor
wanted to be delivered to Major Cao. instructed Mang Torio to keep the pants as the former will send someone back to
pick it up.
That same day of June 30, Centeno went to see the Mayor at his house in Calauan
about his worries over reports that the driver of the ambulance involved in the rape- Eventually, the Mayor got hold of the pairs of white shorts and maong pants. The
slay was being hunted down. The Mayor gave Centeno P2,000.00 and advised him shorts was clean, with complete beltloops and without any tear. He then ordered his
to keep silent or better yet, to go into hiding. Centeno did hide himself until CIS driver Puyales to send the articles to Medialdea for safekeeping. But during the trial,
agents accosted him at the Divisoria market on August 10, 1993. As to Malabanan, the Mayor, when shown the shorts and pants, claimed that they are quite different
he, Medialdea and Ama were brought to the PNP Sta. Cruz Command to shed light from the articles he got hold of previously. The maong pants shown to him by
on the cleaning of the Tamaraw van.
Mang Torio was of a darker shade of blue. As to the white shorts, it was the same joined the players for about an hour, then he slept until 5:00 a.m. of the next day
pair he gave to Medialdea, but now it is torn and has some missing beltloops. (June 29).

Based on his own investigation, the Mayor came to know that Kit Alqueza is a The crack team met again in the morning of June 29, 1993 to continue the manhunt
feared and dangerous student of the university, being a member of an elite fraternity for Tisoy. At around 7:15 a.m. in Barangay Imok, they saw Tisoy speed by in a
in the campus and a generals son at that. The Mayor later informed Congressman motorcycle. Medialdea and Luis fired shots in the air but Tisoy managed to escape.
Tingzon of Kits probable involvement in the crime. Congressman Tingzon, in turn, Centeno was not present when this event transpired because he was instructed to go
disclosed that Kit, his nephew-in-law (the congressmans wife is the sister of Gen. to the municipal hall with the ambulance.
Alquezas wife), was hiding in his house and that the legislator will call Gen.
Alqueza in Davao City to discuss the matter. Upon hearing news over the radio that a dead body was found at Sitio Paputok, Km.
74, Barangay Mabacan, Medialdea radioed Centeno to fetch the group at the
The Mayor also testified that he closely coordinated with Major Cao in fishpond of one Gani. As soon as Centeno arrived at around 8:00 a.m., they
investigating the case. This included frequent evening conferences with Malabanan, proceeded to Km. 74 where they saw Eileens body inside the van parked in the
medialdea and Ama who were members of Major Caos investigation team. sugarcane field. Major Cao and several policemen were already there. Medialdea
had to pull down Eileens T-shirt and roll up her underwear to spare her from
Subsequently, the Mayor was requested to facilitate the surrender of Luis and Boy numerous kibitzers staring at her naked body. He recovered several scattered items
Corcolon to Camp Crame since the CIS suspected them of being involved in the inside the van like cigarette packs, a paddle, spike shoes, and 5 bottles of beer. The
crime together with Kit. The Corcolon brothers, accompanied by the Mayor, van was then driven by a certain Gener to the UP Los Baos escorted by the
peacefully surrendered to CIS operatives in the afternoon of July 12, 1993. ambulance and Major Caos police car.

On August 10, 1993, the Mayor received an anonymous phone call advising him that Thereafter, at around 9:30 a.m., Medialdea, on Major Caos directive, went to the
he would better leave the country because he was to be arrested in three (3) days Gomez residence and asked for Allan. The maid told him that Allan has not come
time. He refused to heed the advice because he had nothing to do with the crime. home since the night before and that she last saw him at around 6:30 p.m. with one
And so he was apprehended on August 13, 1993 at his Calauan residence and Jet Tejada. As there was no other person inside the house except the maid,
brought to Camp Vicente Lim where he was presented to the media. There he saw Medialdea, with her permission, searched for Allan inside but to no avail. Before
Centeno and Malabanan who did not greet him. General Salimbangon ordered the leaving, he instructed the maid to tell Allan that he better make good his hiding
two (2) witnesses to implicate the Mayor. The general then ordered that the Mayor because Allan is a suspect in the crime. At the Tejada residence, Jet was neither
be handcuffed as he is the rapist. You son of a bitch, Salibangon. You framed me there. So Medialdea proceeded to the boarding house of Eileen and instructed the
up, the Mayor cursed. landlady to inform calmly Eileens parents on what had happened to their daughter.

The Mayor denied having given Centeno advice and P2,000.00 pocket money on Medialdea then returned to the UP Los Baos security force where he told Major
June 30, 1993. It was only in the courtroom that he saw Centeno, although he knows Cao that Allan had escaped. Before leaving UP campus to bring Eileens body to
the latter. The Mayor also denied Malabanans testimony implicating him in the Calauan, Major Cao ordered Medialdea to still look for Allan. When his efforts to
crime. In fact, Malabanan wrote him letters asking for his help. The trial court find Allan inside the campus proved futile, Medialdea sought the aid of Barangay
noted, however, that the letter adverted to by the Mayor were all addressed to Judge Captain Cesar Ruiz who brought him to the barangay hall where Jet Tejada was.
Baldo. Tejada strongly objected to Medialdeas insinuation of his and Allans participation
in the crime, saying that they can never do anything as dastardly as that.
Appellant Medialdea was Calauan policeman until his summary dismissal on
September 10, 1993. He claimed that he, being a member of a crack team formed by Afterwards, a certain Allan, a barangay tanod, volunteered that he knew Allan.
Major Cao and composed of Malabanan, Luis and Ama, was preoccupied the whole This Allan opines that if Allan was dead then Kit had a hand on it since Allan had
day of June 28, 1993 conducting police operations on board an ambulance in earned Kits ire when the former began dating the latters girlfriend named Rose.
different barangays of the town in search of Tisoy. The fruitless operations Medialdea informed Major Cao that Allan perhaps has gone to Manila with his
ended at about 9:00 p.m. of June 28. Driving the ambulance, he got home at around father. The Major replied that Allan is here, but is likewise dead.
10:30 p.m. where he saw his wife playing mahjong with some friends. Medialdea
Ama then informed Major Cao that they have a suspect named Kit who had an axe that contained inaccurate answers. The inaccuracies were supplied by Col.
to grind against Allan. Then someone in the crowd uttered Ako iyon. Kit Gualberto.
approached and told Ama that he and Allan had patched up their differences three (3)
months ago. Medialdea noticed a drop of blood on the middle of Kits right thigh. Medialdea also professed his ignorance before Col. Tiangco. This colonel was less
Kit explained that the blood oozed after punching a wall with his right knuckle. diplomatic. He splashed coffee on Medialdeas face, cursed him and whipped his
face. So was Malabanan. The investigators would hit then when they try to reason.
At the municipal hall, Ama handed an empty armalite shell recovered from the site Back to his cell, Medialdea heard Col. Tiangco order somebody to have him killed in
where Allans body was found. Thereafter, Arnold (the prisoner who was cleaning the evening.
the van) was seen carrying the rubber matting of the Tamaraw van to hang it over the
municipal fence to dry. Ama could not help but curse Arnold and ordered the latter On August 13, 1993, one Colonel Versoza advised Medialdea to follow Malabanan
to bring it back. Ama explained to Major Cao that they could be dragged to the in testifying against the Mayor. They will be placed under the Witness Protection
case just like what happened to the policeman in the Paraaque massacre who Program where they would be entitled to allowances, free housing facilities and the
burned a mosquito net and was thereafter sacked. chance to go abroad with their families where they can live peacefully, Col. Versoza
assured them. Medialdea refused once again. Malabanan therafter informed him
Medialdea also testified that it was Major Cao who ordered the cleaning of the van that he and Centeno had already given false statements for they can no longer stand
to diffuse the stench caused by the blood stains therein. the torture inflicted on them. But Medialdea stood pat with his refusal, for he cannot
testify falsely against his companions just to free himself. It is still better to live than
Then on July 6, 1993, Medialdea, together with Ama and Malabanan, went to the to die a martyr, Malabanan answered.
PNP Sta. Cruz Command to answer queries about the cleaning of the van. They
were then brought to Canlubang where they executed their respective sworn We now to go appellant Luis Corcolons story which painted the Kit Alqueza
statements. Medialdea also recalled that Major Cao instructed them not to say angle in greater detail. In the morning of June 25, 1993, three (3) men went to
anything about the cleaning of the van. Afterwards, they were brought back to the Luis residence in Barangay Mabacan. They told Luis that their boss, Edgardo
PNP Sta. Cruz and detained therein pending the filing of formal charges against Lavadia alias Uod, wanted to see him the next day. Lavadia is a very generous
them. friend of Luis for so many years who, as a professional forger of checks, is being
protected by General Alqueza.
Major Cao visited Medialdea the next day, July 7. The major advised him that they
should just point to Malabanan as the one who cleaned the van. Medialdea did not Luis arrived at Lavadias house at around 2:00 p.m. of June 26. There he saw Kit
heed his advice for he pitied Malabanan and besides, it was Major Cao who really and Lavadias men. Lavadia requested him to abduct and kill Allan because the
ordered its cleaning. The major then reiterated the reason why he caused its cleaning latter has done something wrong to Kit. Luis asked what Allans fault was and then
(the unbearable stench of blood). suggested that if its just a small squabble, they better forgive Allan. Lavadia
insisted, but Luis appeared hesitant since it might put him in big trouble. Lavadia
Days later, on July 16, 1993, Medialdea and Ama, together with Malabanan, were tempered his request by asking Luis to merely help in getting rid of the body. Luis
brought to the Department of Justice where Fiscal Abesamis asked them to sign a agreed. He and Lavadia were to meet again on June 28, 1993 in the Bay cockpit.
waiver of their detention. On July 24, 1993, the three (3) men were led back to PNP After this, Luis left.
Canlubang where Colonels Gualberto and Tiangco began investigating then on July
27, 1993. During the investigation, Medialdea was being enticed by Col. Gualberto Luis was also a member of the team formed by Major Cao to hunt down Tisoy.
to cooperate with the government by testifying against the Mayor, as there is an At around 8:30 in the morning of June 28, 1993, he was fetched by Medialdea, Ama,
order from the higher echelon to bring the Mayor down. He refused, saying that the Malabanan and proceeded to Barangay Imok on board the ambulance driven by
Mayor is completely innocent because he is pro-poor and the Mayor even walks the Centeno to apprehend Tisoy. At around 1:00 p.m., Luis left the group and went to
church aisle on his knees. Col. Gualberto threatened that he will be dragged all the Bay cockpit to meet Lavadia, as agreed upon the previous day. When he arrived at
more to the case if he will not cooperate. Medialdea begged for mercy and the cockpit, only Lavadias men were there. Luis then asked one of the men to tell
suggested that they should investigate Kit instead. The colonel said that messing up Lavadia that he is backing out of the agreement. He first attended the derby being
with Kit is like ramming into a wall. Medialdea was then asked to sign a statement held at the cockpit before returning to Barangay Imok at around 5:00 p.m. and re-
joined the team. They left Barangay Imok at around 7:30 p.m. and proceeded to
Barangay Wawa, San Pablo City where they stayed for about two (2) hours waiting where he was again manhandled during the 2-hour interrogation. He answered yes
for Tisoy. Sensing that Tisoy would not be passing by, the team headed back for to all the questions hurled at him because he was already dizzy. He was also
Calauan. Luis was driven home first and reached his house at around 9:30 p.m. A informed that Lavadia had already executed a statement saying that the latter paid
certain Ernesto Bustillo was waiting for him to borrow his passenger jeepney. him.
Thereafter, Luis slept at around 10:30 p.m.
On August 1, 1993 at the PACC-TFH office, General Quizon was forcing him to
At around 4:45 a.m. of the next day (June 29) while Luis was preparing the breakfast testify against the Mayor. He was also interviewed by media afterwhich, he was
of his children, a Tamaraw van, driven by Kit, stopped in front of his house honking brought back to his cell where he met Lavadia. He cursed and strangled Lavadia.
its horn continuously. Four (4) motorcycle-riding men, each wearing bonnet masks Luis suggested that they should now tell the truth about Kits involvement, but
and maong jackets, escorted the van. Kit sought his help in burying at once the Lavadia advised him to remain silent because reprisal from General Alqueza would
dead female body inside the van. Luis inspected the van and saw a naked corpse of a be far worse. Luis was detained at the PACC until the start of the trial. He also filed
woman. He refused Kits summons after which Luis immediately returned to his a complaint for torture before the Commission on Human Rights.
house, turned off the lights and closed door for fear that Kits escorts would shoot
him. The convoy then headed towards the direction of Sitio Paputok, Km. 74. Boy Corcolon testified that he never left house on the night of June 28, 1993. He
woke up at around 7:00 a.m. of the next day and proceeded to the Calauan police
At about 6:30 a.m., Luis, Centeno, Medialdea and Malabanan met and continued station on his motorcycle upon being informed of the discovery of a dead female in
their surveillance of Tisoy at Barangay Imok. They saw Tisoy pass by at around sitio Paputok, Km. 74. After going to the municipal building where he saw Ama,
7:10 a.m. but were not able to apprehend him. The group thereafter went to Ganis Major Cao and Judge Baldo, Boy followed Major Cao and his men in going to
fishpond at about 8:30 a.m. then proceeded to Km. 74 to verify reports of a females Km. 74. There he saw the naked body of the dead woman inside the van. Boy
death. There they saw the Tamaraw van with a dead woman inside. Luis recognized thereafter followed the van to the UP compound. Moments later, the van was
the vehicle as that driven by Kit hours earlier, but he kept silent. The group then brought to Calauan municipal hall compound. He did not stay in the municipal hall,
brought the van to the UP Los Baos campus. but went straight home instead.

In the morning if June 30, 1993, Luis met the Mayor. The latter instructed him to The CIS agents raided his house on July 7, 1993. The next day, Boy read in the
investigate on who dumped Eileens body at Km. 74. Luis obliged and said that he papers that he and his brother Luis were being haunted down by the authorities and a
will make a report within a week. He, however, did not tell the Mayor about Kits P100,000.00 bounty is at stake for their capture. He rushed to the house of the
involvement in the crime. Mayor to inform the latter of the raid. The Mayor advised him to remain calm and to
avoid being visible.
On July 7, 1993, CIS agents of Canlubang raided his house during his absence
thereat. The agents, his wife said, planted a gun inside. The next day, Luis read in In the afternoon of July 12, 1993, he and Luis were fetched by General Quizon and
the papers that a P100,000.00 reward has been offered for his and brother Boys Colonel Hilario at Luis residence and thereafter brought to Camp Crame. At the
capture. He rushed to the Mayor who advised him to remain quiet. camp, press people interviewed them after which they were led to a room for taking
of their respective sworn statements. Boy claimed that he was forced to give his
In the afternoon of July 12, 1993, Luis went to Boys house upon being summoned statement after being kicked, slapped and cursed by the investigators. He tried to
by the Mayor who was with General Quizon and Colonel Hilario. He and Boy were correct portions of his statement but the investigating officer did not allow him. Boy
brought to Camp Crame for interview. After the interview, the CIS took their sworn and Luis were detained at the camp until charges have been filed against them, for
statements. The answers therein, Luis said, were furnished by the agents. He signed their refusal to cooperate with the CIS.
the statement out to fear without the assistance of a lawyer of his own choice. For
several days, he was investigated by PACC agents. Then on or July 20, 1993, he and On July 20, 1993, the two (2) brother were brought to an uninhabited place near a
Boy were transferred to CIS Canlubang and were interrogated by Col. Tiangco who hill in Barangay Paliparan where they were made to stand in front of the military
repeatedly manhandled and cursed him. Luis insisted on his innocence and group consisting of Generals Quizon and Salimbangon, Colonel Gualberto and his
suggested that it is Kit who they should investigate. After the interview, Luis was men. Boy and Luis were each asked to hold an armalite rifle, and then pictures were
tortured by way of water treatment, denied of food and was not allowed to receive taken of them handing the rifles over to the generals.
visitors. In the afternoon of June 28, 1993, Luis was brought before the PACC
The next day (June 21), they were brought to CIS Canlubang and stayed there until On July 1, 1993, Ama accompanied some CIS personnel at the site where Allans
the start of the trial in September, 1993. Boy claimed he was subjected to electric body was found. They found drops of blood, cigarette butts and wrappers in the
shock and water treatment to make him confess his guilt. area. Later in the afternoon, Ama went to Canlubang as he was asked by Colonel
Roxas to make a written report on the Kit Alqueza angle. He completed his
Ama, also a member of the team involved in the Tisoy manhunt, related a similar statement in about five (5) hours. The officer before whom he was sworn, Ama
story on the groups sorties in different barangays on June 28, 1993. After the failed noticed, was drunk.
mission, Centeno dropped him off at his residence in Barangay Masiit at about 10:00
p.m. of the same day and did not leave the house until the next morning. On July 3, 1993, he received word that he was to undergo counter-insurgency
training effective that same day. Two (2) days after (July 5), he asked a certain
At around 6:15 a.m. of the next day (June 29), he was at Barangay Balayhangin to Colonel Toco why he was being required to undergo training again. The colonel
wait for Tisoy per Medialdeas instruction. Minutes later, he saw Tisoy pass by on a promised to look into the matter. On that same day, Malabanan informed him that
motorcycle and thereafter reported the matter to Medialdea. Ama learned of Eileens Luis appeared panicky and was acting suspiciously, as the latter seemed to go back
death at around 8:00 a.m. when he was at the Calauan police station. Centeno and forth to the municipal hall and kept asking Malabanan for the names of people
thereafter picked him up and they, together with Medialdea, Malabanan and Luis investigating the case. Also on that day, Ama gave the NBI Regional Director some
proceeded to Sitio Paputok where Eileens body was found. information about Kit and Luis which started the NBI investigation.

From the university compound, he, Medialdea, Malabanan and a UP student named On July 6, 1993, Ama, together with Medialdea and Malabanan, executed his
Butch went to Allans house but the latter was not there. They also went to Jet statement in CIS Canlubang assisted by one Atty. Exconde who asked him to sign
Tejadas and Eileens boarding houses. the same even before Ama can read it. At PHQ Sta. Cruz, the Deputy Provincial
Commander for Operations fumed when he declared in his statement that he was
absent during the cleaning of the van. He declared so because Major Cao instructed
At Barangay Batong Malaki, Los Baos, barangay tanod Allan revealed to
him to keep silent on that matter. Subsequently (July 7), he learned of Malabanans
Medialdea that the dead Allans enemy was Kit. Allan was fond of girls and there
escape.
was a time when Kit got angry at and threatened Allan when the latter dated Kits
girlfriend Rose, the tanod narrated.
On July 24, 1993, Ama, Malabanan and Medialdea were brought to CIS Canlubang.
They ate drugged food which gave him chest pain and made him very weak and
Ama and the rest of the group were able to talk to Jet Tejada who denied any
talkative. He saw Medialdea being whipped on the head with a newspaper by one
involvement in the crime. After Major Cao informed him that Allan is already
official.
dead, Ama told the major about the friction between Allan and Kit. Then someone
tapped Major Caos shoulder and identified himself as Kit who clarified that he had
patched up with Allan about three (3) months ago. Kit angrily pointed his finger at Five days later (July 29), they were brought to the PACC where Luis pointed to them
Ama, then Major Cao pacified them. Ama asked Kit about the drops of blood on before the media. The next day (July 30), he and General Alqueza met at the
his right thigh. Kit explained that the blood came from his right knuckle. He is our Department of Justice. The general cursed him for dragging Kit in the case and even
suspect Ama blurted. Major Cao, however, reprimanded him for making such a challenged him to a fistfight outside the building.
loud comment.
On August 7, 1993, at General Salimbangons office, the general informed him that
*(On the cleaning of the van, Amas story is similar to Medialdeas account his summary dismissal is on hand unless he testifies against the Mayor. When he
heretofore discussed). refused, the general cursed him. Colonel Gualberto also tried to convince him by
offering promotion, house and lot, monthly allowance, or a chance to leave the
country with his family. But Ama insisted on his innocence.
Thereafter, Ama, Medialdea and Malabanan found their way to the Mayors
residence in bay. Ama revealed to the Mayor that Kit is the suspect. The Mayor said
that Kit comes from a very powerful and influential family, and that his father, On August 13, 1993, a sobbing Malabanan embraced Ama and asked for his
General Alqueza, is a tough man. The Mayor nonetheless assured them of his forgiveness because the former has already implicated him falsely in the crime.
support. Malabanan said he could no longer bear the torture being inflicted on him and the
threats on his life and family. He was also advised by Malabanan to follow suit, but 2) his hands would be tied behind his back and he would be tied to a bench. A
he refused once again. towel would be placed over his mouth and nostrils, then 7-up is poured on his face;

Brion is the Mayors nephew. He denied being in the company of any of the 3) his body would be whipped with guns.
appellants on the evening of June 28, 1993 as he stayed at their house on J. del Valle
St., Calauan the whole night. In the morning of July 29, 1993, he was arrested at his No medical examination was ever conducted on him. More, his captors would
father-in-laws house without any warrant. The arresting officer told him that padlock his cell whenever Atty. Arias paid him a visit.
Colonel Navarro (PNP Director of Laguna) wanted to interview him. Brion was
brought to the Calamba police station from where he was taken to Canlubang. Kawit was a houseboy of the Mayor in his Calauan residence. He claimed he slept
There, Col. Navarro cursed him for being so elusive. Brion answered that he never at around 9:00 p.m. of June 28, 1993 and woke up at 6:00 a.m. the following day to
went into hiding. Col. Navarro informed him that Luis Corcolon has revealed that he water the plants.
was the third man to rape Eileen. Brion then heard Malabanan shouting that he is
taking all the blame for the crime if they would just spare the two students (Brion
and Kawit) who are totally innocent. On July 16, 1993, he was interrogated in connection with the deaths of Eileen and
Allan. Later in the day, Medialdea and some policemen fetched him at his house in
Barangay Bagong Pook and brought him to PHQ Sta. Cruz. Kawit was led into a
Brion, together with Malabanan, Ama and Luis, was brought to the office of the then room where Medialdea, in the presence of Centeno and Malabanan, asked him the
Vice-President Estrada who asked Ama and Malabanan whether they raped Eileen. name of the girl who was reportedly shouting while Kawit was dragging her at
Ama belied the accusation. Malabanan, too, professed innocence and said that in the CPAMMS. Kawit answered that there were two (2) bar girls, whose names are
nine (9) years he stayed in Mindanao, it is his first time to cry this way. This Carla and Ninja Joyce, who were shouting at Barangay Bagong Pook. Ama then
convinced the vice-president of Malabanans innocence. Kawit also cried at this entered the room and requested Malabanan and Medialdea not to hurt Kawit. When
point. Brion saw Luis being held up by two men towards the room as Luis appeared Malabanan and Medialdea left the room, Kawit explained to Ama that the two (2)
to be on the brink of collapse. One of the escorts then raised Luis hand so as to bar girls complained of one Melvin Pajadan not paying them for their services.
point at Brion.
Thereafter, Kawit was asked by one Major Uyami to make a statement. After
On July 30, 1993, Brion, Ama, Malabanan, Kawit, Luis and Boy were brought to the signing the statement, Kawit was told by investigator Cansanay that the major
Department of Justice where Fiscal Zuo asked them to sign some papers. Luis was wanted him to include in his statement the Mayors involvement in the Gomez-
instructed to re-affirm his sworn statement before the PACC while Brion and Kawit Sarmenta slaying, but Kawit refused. He was thus detained for the night. A
were asked to sign a waiver of detention. The three (3), however, refused. Fiscal policeman in civilian clothes thereafter asked him to sign a paper bearing his name
Zuo offered them a lawyer from the Public Assistance Office (PAO) to assist them and the handwritten words: Pauuwiin ka na bukas ng umaga. Kawit signed the
but Brion rejected the offer. paper, but he was not released the next day.

On August 6, 1993, General Quizon asked Brion to sign a confession but he refused. Before this Court, Mayor Sanchez and Medialdea filed their consolidated
When a second statement was prepared, he cried because he was allowed to read
Appellants Brief, and so did Ama, Brion and Kawit. Brothers Luis and Boy
only that portion relating to his personal circumstances before being forced to sign it
Corcolon, on the other hand, filed separate appeal briefs. Briefly, the pith of the
without the assistance of a lawyer. Thereafter, he was brought back to PHQ Sta. assigned errors and the focus of the appellants arguments is the issue of witnesses
Cruz at around 5:00 p.m. Centeno and Malabanans credibility, whose open-court narrations served as
principal basis for the trial courts rendition of a guilty verdict.
Brion related having executed a sworn statement detailing the methods of torture he
underwent to force him into implicating the Mayor, Ama, Medialdea and Malabanan,
So oftenly repeated by this Court is that the matter of assigning values to
viz:
declarations on the witness stand is best and most competently performed by the trial
judgexxii[4] who had the unmatched opportunity to observe the witnesses and to
1) he would be placed in a doghouse-like cell fitted with loudspeakers; assess their credibility by the various indicia available but not reflected in the record.
The demeanor of the person on the stand can draw the line between fact and fancy.
The forthright answer or the hesitant pause, the quivering voice or the angry tone,
the flustered look or the sincere gaze, the modest blush or the guilty blanch these becomes less plausible as a defense when it is invoked and sought to be crafted
can reveal if the witness is telling the truth or lying in his teeth.xxii[5] mainly by the accused himself and his immediate relatives.xxii[14] Anastacia
Gulays testimony is likewise worthless since the trial court found her testimony
Judge Demetriou who presided over the entire trial until its very conclusion rehearsed. We will not disturb this finding because it touches on credibility.
expressed her satisfaction with the way witnesses Centeno and Malabanan survived
the hot seat with flying colors, so to speak. With respect to Centeno, the honorable In fine, the defense of alibi is an issue of fact that hinges on the credibility of
Judge had this to say: witnesses, and the assessment of the trial court, unless patently and clearly
inconsistent, must be accepted.xxii[15]
In thus passing upon the credibility of Centeno, this Court kept his alleged dubious
reputation for veracity in mind. But, after carefully reviewing the testimony of In an attempt to discredit Centeno, appellants principally harp on the contradictions
Centeno in his direct examination and gruelling (sic) cross-examination for almost 3 in four (4) Sworn Statements executed by Centeno on August 13, 1993, August 15,
months, this Court, even with a jaundiced eye, could not help but be impressed about 1993, August 17, 1993 and August 30, 1993. The Solicitor Generals Office
the myriad of details in his testimony and his frank, spontaneous and straightforward summarizes appellants asseverations on this point, viz:
manner of testifying. The lengthy and punishing cross-examination by seven
lawyers to which he was subjected failed to bring out any serious flaw or infirmity in Appellants point out that while in his Sworn Statement dated August 13, 1993,
his perception or recollection of events or destroy the coherence of his narration. Centeno stated that after the victims were seized, they were brought to CPAMMS, in
That Centeno merely wove such a yarn from his fertile imagination, conflict with a his Sworn Statement dated August 15, 1993, he claimed that the two were brought to
multitude of details, is highly improbable considering that his highest educational Erais Farm (p. 86-96, Sanchez and Medialdea; p. 11-12, Luis Corcolon; p. 38, Ama,
attainment was sixth grade in the elementary school.xxii[6] Brion and Kawit; p. 10, Rogelio Corcolon). Appellant also point out that in the
August 13, 1993 Sworn Statement, Centeno merely referred to a person named
Similarly, Malabanan displayed a frank, straightforward manner of answering Edwin (without stating his family name) and another person he did not know who
questions and a desire to state all the facts within his knowledge, and his credibility was in the place where the victims were brought. In his Sworn Statement dated
was never shaken on cross-examination; there was no indication of prevarication or August 17, 1993, Centeno supplied the family name of Edwin as Cosico and the
evasiveness. Consequently, (his) testimony is entitled to full faith and credit, the name of the other person whom he did not know as Lito Angeles (pp. 96-97, Sanchez
honorable Judge observed.xxii[7] Her impressions of these star witnesses for the and Medialdea).
State bind this Court, for we accord great respect if not finality, to the findings of the
trial court on the credibility of witnesses.xxii[8] They, therefore, ought not to be Another major contradiction pointed out is that in his August 13, 1993 Sworn
disturbed.xxii[9] And once the prosecution witnesses are afforded full faith and Statement, Centeno mentioned that he drove the Corcolon brothers to the house of
credit, the defenses version necessarily stands discredited.xxii[10] Edgardo Uod Lavadia in Bangkal Street, Los Baos, Laguna. Upon arriving at the
house of Lavadia, Centeno saw Lavadia and Teofilo Kit Alqueza talking. Later
To recall, all the appellants relied on the defense of denial/alibi, i.e., they were at Lavadia handed an envelop to Luis Corcolon. In the latest Sworn Statement dated
their respective homes on the night of the rape-slay. But Centeno and Malabanan August 30, 1993, Centeno stated that they did not go to the house of Lavadia and that
confirmed the presence of all the appellants on the night of June 28, 1993 till the during the whole day of June 26, 1993, Centeno was with Malabanan (pp. 99-102,
early morning of the following day and detailed the exact participation of each in the Sanchez and Medialdea; pp. 37-40, Ama, Brion and Kawit; p. 8, Rogelio
crime. Positive identification by credible witnesses of the accused as the perpetrators Corcolon).xxii[16]
of the crime, as we have consistently held, demolishes the alibixxii[11] - the much
abused sanctuary of felons.xxii[12] Moreover, except for the Mayor who presented The trial judge found Centenos explanation on these inconsistencies satisfactory,
Ave Marie Tonee Jimenez Sanchez (his daughter with his mistress Elvira) and justifying such finding with pertinent jurisprudence. The Court, therefore, affirms
Medialdea who presented his neighbor Anastacia Gulay, the other appellants failed and adopts her disquisition on the matter, viz:
to present corroborating testimonial evidence to butress their respective alibis. The
defense of alibi is inherently weak especially when wanting in material With respect to the portion of his sworn statement dated August 13, 1993 which
corroboration. Categorical declarations of witnesses for the prosecution of the implicated Kit Alqueza, Centeno explained that it was dictated by a CIS agent named
details of the crime are more credible than the uncorroborated alibi interposed by the Rommel. He feared Rommel because the latter threatened him that he would be hurt
accused.xxii[13] Ave Maries testimony is of no help to the Mayor, since alibi if he did not cooperate. Even when his family was already under the custody of the
CIS on August 15, 1993, he did not ask for the deletion of the said portion because To further fortify this observation, we advert to that all-too familiar rule that
he was still under the CIS custody. It was only on August 30, 1993 when he was discrepancies between sworn statements and testimonies made at the witness stand
placed under the Witness Protection Program that he found the courage to execute do not necessarily discredit the witnesses.xxii[18] Sworn statements/affidavits are
another sworn statement for the specific purpose of deleting the reference to Kit generally subordinated in importance to open court declarations because the former
Alqueza. Although he was placed under the Witness Protection Program on August are often executed when an affiants mental faculties are not in such a state as to
17, 1993, there was a delay in his retraction of Kit Alquezas involvement due to his afford him a fair opportunity of narrating in full the incident which has
inability to reach Fiscal Arellano. transpired.xxii[19] Testimonies given during trials are mush more exact and
elaborate.xxii[20] Thus, testimonial evidence carries more weight than sworn
Centenos explanation is quite believable because he had already implicated the statements/affidavits.
accused Sanchez in his sworn statement of August 13, 1993. Thus, the portion
implicating Kit Alqueza does not jibe with the main story of Centeno that Eileen Appellants would also quibble on the following portions of Centenos testimony, to
Sarmenta was abducted by Medialdea, Ama, the Corcolon brothers, Brion and Kawit wit:
to be given as a gift to their boss, Mayor Sanchez.
1) he could not give exactly where the appellants went after sexually abusing
As to his sworn statement of August 15, 1993 where he stated that the victims were Eileen;]
taken to Erais Farm instead of CPAMMS as originally indicated in his August 13,
1993 sworn statement, Centeno explained that when he gave his first statement he 2) he was unsure whether it was Eileens left or right foot that hit the chair of
was still hoping that Mayor Sanchez would help him. Furthermore, he feared the the van when she was struggling;
power and influence of the Mayor. Thus, according to him, he gave the wrong place
to mislead his investigators. It was only on August 15, 1993 when the accused 3) he was unsure of their speed while on their way to the UP compound;
Sanchez was already in prison that Centeno decided to correct his previous
statements.
4) he could not give the exact distance between the ambulance he was driving
and the van;
This Court is inclined to accept the explanation of Centeno that his earlier attempt
to mislead the investigators by saying that the victims were taken to CPAMMS was
out of fear of the Mayor. Our Supreme Court has recognized that the inherent fear of 5) he said he could see the protruding end of the roof of a kubo when he
reprisal by witnesses who refuse initially to disclose what they know about a crime is parked the ambulance in front of the Big J restaurant. Appellants claim that
quite understandable, especially when the accused is a man of power and influence from where Centeno was allegedly standing, there was no way he could see the roof
in the community (People v. Catao, 107 Phil. 861 [1960]). of that kubo;

In a recent case, People v. Pascua (206 SCRA 628 [1992]), the Supreme Court 6) he was able to recall what appellants were wearing on that night of June 28,
observed that Fear for ones life explains the failure on the part of a witness to 1993;
immediately notify the authorities of what exactly transpired. And, [o]nce such
fear is overcome by a more compelling need to narrate the truth, the Supreme Court 7) he saw Kawit hit Allan at his diaphragm with the butt of an armalite, but the
went on to say, then the witness must be welcomed by the courts to help dispense medico-legal finding of Dr. Escueta revealed no injury in the abdominal region of
justice. Allan;

Consequently, this Court will not reject the testimony of Centeno on the basis of 8) his testimony that the appellants raped Eileen inside the van which was very
inconsistencies in his sworn statements taken by police authorities which have been limited space, while appellants could have chosen a far more comfortable or remote
sufficiently explained. What is more important is that Centeno testified on the place to do the crime. With respect to the Mayor, it was very unbelievable for him to
witness stand in a categorical, straightforward, spontaneous and frank manner and commit rape inside his room filled with religious adornments and in the process risk
remained consistent on cross-examination. This Court, therefore, finds Centeno a his reputation as mayor and an established man in the community;
credible witness.xxii[17]
9) his testimony to the effect that appellants rolled their pants down to their The autopsy and vaginal examination conducted by prosecution witness Dr. Vladimir
knees and then climbed the van to rape Eileen. Appellants would consider such V. Villaseor, medico-legal officer of the PNP-CIS, on Eileens cadaver buttresses
testimony impossible, claiming that the narrow circumference of the waistline will all the more the gang-rape story of the prosecution. Dr. Villaseors findings, in a
impede and obstruct the upward movement of the legs. nutshell, disclosed the presence of multiple contusions on Eileens body, fresh
shallow lacerations on her hymen, a congested cervix, a gaping labia majora and
10) his admission that he can lie for money, or out fear. oozing whitish fluid (tested positive for spermatozoa) from the vaginal opening.
Oozing spermatozoa, Dr. Villaseor explained, means that the amount of semen was
much more than the vaginal canal could contain and that there were several seminal
It may be conceded that these inconsistencies marred Centenos testimony, but they
ejaculations that occurred therein. He also noted that a great quantity of whitish fluid
refer to trivial details which do not, in actuality, touch upon the whys and
continued to ooze from Eileens vaginal opening despite her death for several hours.
wherefores of the crime committed.xxii[21] Equally settled is the rule that
Taking into account all these findings, Dr. Villaseor ruled out the possibility of any
inconsistencies in the testimony of witnesses when referring only to minor details
consented sexual intercourse. In this connection, appellants would belittle Dr.
and collateral matters do not affect either the substance of their declaration, their
Villaseors findings by insisting as the more convincing opinion the defenses
veracity, or the weight of their testimony. Although there may be inconsistencies on
medical expert witness, Dr. Ernesto Brion who testified to the effect that there can be
minor details, the same do not impair the credibility of the witnesses where there is
no multiple rape if there is only one laceration on Eileens hymen as testified to by
consistency in relating the principal occurrence and positive identification of the
Dr. Villaseor. We dismiss appellants argument by reiterating anew that the
assailants,xxii[22] as in this case. Slight contradictions in fact even serve to
absence of extensive abrasions or contusions on the vaginal wall does not rule out
strengthen the sincerity of a witness and prove that his testimony is not
rape because the slightest penetrations enough.xxii[27] It is not an indispensable
rehearsed.xxii[23] They are fail-safes against memorized perjury.xxii[24] Besides,
element for the successful prosecution of said crime.xxii[28] Moreover, Dr. Brion is
errorless testimonies cannot be expected especially when a witness is recounting
an uncle by consanguinity and erstwhile counsel of record of the Mayor, thus making
details of a harrowing experience.xxii[25] Even the most truthful witnesses can make
his objectivity highly questionable.
mistakes but such innocent lapses do not necessarily affect their credibility.xxii[26]
Consequently, Centenos and Malabanans credibility still remains intact
notwithstanding these inconsistencies. Appellants Ama, Kawit and Brion would assail the trial courts finding that they
were part of the conspiracy to commit the rape-slay. Their concurrency of sentiment
with the other appellants, however, was evident from the time they abducted Eileen
Other pieces of evidence further enhance the damaging testimonies of Centeno and
and Allan, brought the two to Erais Farm where Eileen was raped by the Mayor and
Malabanan. For one, a missing belt loop from the pair of white shorts worn by
Allan beaten up black and blue, headed for a sugarcane field killing Allan along the
Eileen on the night of the crime was recovered from Erais Farm by prosecution
way, sexually abused Eileen in rapid succession and finally killed her. In not an
witness Major Lulita Chambers who, together with Col. Gualberto and other officers,
instance did any of the three appellants (Ama, Kawit and Brion) desist from that
went there on August 19, 1993 to effect service of the search warrant issued by RTC
common design.xxii[29] Likewise, the complicity of the Mayor in the crime can be
Judge Geraldez. Major Chambers, a forensic chemist, conducted a series of
deduced from the following conversations he had with some of the appellants at the
laboratory examinations and later concluded that the retrieved beltloop matched in
Erais Farm (per Centenos testimony), viz.:
color, size and fiber composition with a beltloop she detached from the white shorts
of Eileen which she (Major Chambers) used as a standard.
LUIS CORCOLON: Mayor, ito po yung regalo namin sa inyo. Ito po
yung babae na matagal na po ninyong kursunada.
Another corroborating evidence is the M16 empty bullet shell recovered at the site
where Allans body was found. The ballistic examination on the empty shell
conducted by FID-PNP Chief Ballistician Vicente de Vera revealed that the striations MAYOR: Aba, and ganda talaga ng babaeng yan.
of the empty shell were the same as those registered by the cartridges from M16 rifle Pero sino yung kasama ninyong lalake?
bearing Serial No. 773159 surrendered by Luis Corcolon. Mr. De Vera also found
the metallic fragments recovered from Eileens body, after conducting microscopic MEDIALDEA: Boss, kasama ho yan ng babae yung lalake.
examinations thereof, to bear the same characteristics as those from a bullet fired Isinama na rin ho namin para wala pong bulilyaso.
from an M16 rifle.
After raping Eileen, the Mayor had this short exchange with Medialdea:
MAYOR: O sige mga anak, salamat sa At best, appellant can only conjure possibility or prejudice on the part of the trial
regalo ninyo. Salamat sa regalo ninyo sa akin. judge due to the barrage of publicity that characterized the investigation and trial of
Tapos na ako, sa inyo na iyan. Bahala na kayo the case. In Martelino, et al. v. Alejsndro, et al., we rejected this standard of
diyan. Ano naman ang gagawin ninyo diyan sa possibility of prejudice and adopted the test of actual prejudice as we ruled that to
lalake? warrant a finding of prejudicial publicity, there must be allegation and proof that the
judges have been unduly influenced, not simply that they might be, by the barrage of
MEDIALDEA: Boss, papatayin na rin po namin ito para publicity. In the case at bar, the records do not show that the trial judge developed
wala pong bulilyaso. actual bias against appellant as a consequence of the extensive media coverage of the
pre-trial and trial of his case. The totality of circumstances of the case does not
prove that the trial judge acquired a fixed opinion as a result of prejudicial publicity
Finally, on appellants claim that the publicity given to this case impaired their right
which is incapable of change even by evidence presented during the trial. Appellant
to a fair trial, we need only to revisit this Courts pronouncements in People v.
has the burden to prove this actual bias and he has not discharged the burden.
Teehankee, Jr. (249 SCRA 54), viz:

And so we come to hear another tale of woe, of an infamous public figure and his
We cannot sustain appellants claim that he was denied the right to impartial trial
minions indicted for having raped and killed a young lady and a budding lad, of
due to prejudicial publicity. It is true that the print and broadcast media gave the
these victims who had led short obscure lives that earned an equally ignominous end,
case at bar pervasive publicity, just like all high profile and high stake criminal trials.
and of a criminal enterprise so despicable only the unthinking beasts can orchestrate.
Then and now, we rule that the right of an accused to a fair trial is not incompatible
It was, indeed, a plot seemingly hatched in hell. And let it not be said that the full
to a free press. To be sure, responsible reporting enhances an accuseds right to a
protection of the law had been deprived appellants. Even a beast cannot deny this.
fair trial for, as well pointed out, a responsible press has always been regarded as the
handmaiden of effective judicial administration, especially in the criminal field x x x.
The press does not simply publish information about trials but guards against the WHEREFORE, the assailed decision is hereby AFFIRMED in all respects. In
miscarriage of justice by subjecting the police, prosecutors, and judicial processes to addition, each of the appellants having been found guilty of seven (7) counts of rape
extensive public scrutiny and criticism. with homicide and considering that existing jurisprudence pegs the amount of
indemnity for the death of the victim at Fifty Thousand (P50,000.00) Pesos, this
Court hereby orders each of the appellants to pay the respective heirs of Eileen
Pervasive publicity is not per se prejudicial to the right of an accused to fair trial.
Sarmenta and Allan Gomez the amount of Seven Hundred Thousand (P700,000.00)
The mere fact that the trial of appellant was given a day-to-day, gavel-to-gavel
Pesos as additional indemnity.
coverages does not by itself prove that the publicity so permeated the mind of the
trial judge and impaired his impartiality. For one, it is impossible to seal the minds
of members of the bench from pre-trial and other off-court publicity of sensational SO ORDERED.
criminal cases. The state of the art of our communication system brings news as
they happen straight to out breakfast tables and right to our bedrooms. These news
form part of our everyday menu of the facts and fictions of life. For another, our
idea of a fair and impartial judge is not that of a hermit who is out of touch with the
world. We have not installed the jury system whose members are overly protected
from publicity lest they lose their impartiality. Criticisms against the jury system are
mounting and Mark Twains wit and wisdom put them all in better perspective when
he observed: When a gentleman of high social standing, intelligence, and probity
swears that testimony given under the same oath will outweigh with him, street talk
and newspaper reports based upon mere hearsay, he is worth a hundred jurymen who
will swear to their own ignorance and stupidity x x x. Why could not the jury law be
so altered as to give men of brains and honesty an equal chance with fools and
miscreants? Our judges are learned in the law and trained to disregard off-court
evidence and on-camera performances of parties to a litigation. Their mere exposure
to publications and publicity stunts does not per se fatally infect their impartiality.
the Sandiganbayan. The motion was filed by the Secretary of Justice, as one of the
petitioners, who argues that there is really no conflict between the right of the people
to public information and the freedom of the press, on the one hand, and, on the
other, the right of the accused to a fair trial; that if there is a clash between these
rights, it must be resolved in favor of the right of the people and the press because
the people, as the repository of sovereignty, are entitled to information; and that live
media coverage is a safeguard against attempts by any party to use the courts as
instruments for the pursuit of selfish interests.

On the other hand, former President Joseph E. Estrada reiterates his objection to the
live TV and radio coverage of his trial on the ground that its allowance will violate
the sub judice rule and that, based on his experience with the impeachment trial, live
media coverage will only pave the way for so-called "expert commentary" which can
trigger massive demonstrations aimed at pressuring the Sandiganbayan to render a
decision one way or the other. Mr. Estrada contends that the right of the people to
information may be served through other means less distracting, degrading, and
prejudicial than live TV and radio coverage.1wphi1.nt

Republic of the Philippines The Court has considered the arguments of the parties on this important issue and,
SUPREME COURT after due deliberation, finds no reason to alter or in any way modify its decision
Manila prohibiting live or real time broadcast by radio or television of the trial of the former
president. By a vote of nine (9) to six (6) of its members, 1 the Court denies the
EN BANC motion for reconsideration of the Secretary of Justice.

A.M. No. 01-4-03-SC September 13, 2001 In lieu of live TV and radio coverage of the trial, the Court, by the vote of eight (8)
Justices,2 has resolved to order the audio-visual recording of the trial.
RE: REQUEST FOR LIVE RADIO-TV COVERAGE OF THE TRIAL IN
THE SANDIGANBAYAN OF THE PLUNDER CASES AGAINST FORMER What follows is the opinion of the majority.lawphil.net
PRESIDENT JOSEPH E. ESTRADA
Considering the significance of the trial before the Sandiganbayan of former
SECRETARY OF JUSTICE HERNANDO PEREZ, KAPISANAN NG MGA President Estrada and the importance of preserving the records thereof, the Court
BRODKASTER NG PILIPINAS, CESAR SARINO, RENATO CAYETANO, believes that there should be an audio-visual recording of the proceedings. The
and ATTY. RICARDO ROMULO, petitioners, recordings will not be for live or real time broadcast but for documentary purposes.
vs. Only later will they be available for public showing, after the Sandiganbayan shall
JOSEPH E. ESTRADA and INTEGRATED BAR OF THE have promulgated its decision in every case to which the recording pertains. The
PHILIPPINES,oppositors. master film shall be deposited in the National Museum and the Records Management
and Archives Office for historical preservation and exhibition pursuant to law.4
RESOLUTION
For the purpose of recording the proceedings, cameras will be inconspicuously
installed in the courtroom and the movement of TV crews will be regulated,
MENDOZA, J.:
consistent with the dignity and solemnity of the proceedings. The trial shall be
recorded in its entirety, except such portions thereof as the Sandiganbayan may
This is a motion for reconsideration of the decision denying petitioners' request for decide should not be held public pursuant to Rule 119, 21 of the Revised Rules of
permission to televise and broadcast live the trial of former President Estrada before Criminal Procedure. No comment shall be included in the documentary except
annotations which may be necessary to explain certain scenes which are depicted. National Defense Juan Ponce Enrile in the 1986 EDSA people power. This Court
The audio-visual recordings shall be made under the supervision and control of the held: "A limited intrusion into a person's privacy has long been regarded as
Sandiganbayan or its Division as the case may be. permissible where that person is a public figure and the information sought to be
elicited from him or to be published about him constitute matters of a public
There are several reasons for such televised recording.1awphil.net First, the hearings character."6
are of historic significance. They are an affirmation of our commitment to the rule
that "the King is under no man, but he is under God and the law." (Quod Rex non No one can prevent the making of a movie based on the trial. But, at least, if a
debet esse sub homine, sed sub Deo et Lege.) Second, the Estrada cases involve documentary record is made of the proceedings, any movie that may later be
matters of vital concern to our people who have a fundamental right to know how produced can be checked for its accuracy against such documentary and any attempt
their government is conducted. This right can be enhanced by audio visual to distort the truth can thus be averted.
presentation. Third, audio-visual presentation is essential for the education and civic
training of the people. Indeed, a somewhat similar proposal for documentary recording of celebrated cases
or causes clbres was made was made way back in 1971 by Paul Freund of the
Above all, there is the need to keep audio-visual records of the hearings for Harvard Law School. As he explained:
documentary purposes. The recordings will be useful in preserving the essence of the
proceedings in a way that the cold print cannot quite do because it cannot capture the In fairness let me refer to an American experience many of my lay friends
sights and sounds of events. They will be primarily for the use of appellate courts in found similarly moving. An educational television network filmed a trial in
the event a review of the proceedings, rulings, or decisions of the Sandiganbayan is Denver of a Black Panther leader on charges of resisting arrest, and
sought or becomes necessary. The accuracy of the transcripts of stenographic notes broadcast the document in full, in four installments, several months after the
taken during the trial can be checked by reference to the tapes. case was concluded -- concluded incidentally, with a verdict of acquittal.

On the other hand, by delaying the release of the tapes for broadcast, concerns that No one could witness the trial without a feeling of profound respect for the
those taking part in the proceedings will be playing to the cameras and will thus be painstaking way in which the truth was searched for, for the ways whereby
distracted from the proper performance of their roles -- whether as counsel, law copes with uncertainties and ambiguities through presumptions and
witnesses, court personnel, or judges -- will be allayed. The possibility that parallel burden of proof, and the sense of gravity with which judge and jury carried
trials before the bar of justice and the bar of public opinion may jeopardize, or even out their responsibilities.
prevent, the just determination of the cases can be minimized. The possibility that
judgment will be rendered by the popular tribunal before the court of justice can I agree in general with the exclusion of television from the courtroom, for
render its own will be avoided. the familiar good reasons. And yet the use of television at a trial for
documentary purposes, not for the broadcast of live news, and with the
At the same time, concerns about the regularity and fairness of the trial -- which, it safeguards of completeness and consent, is an educational experiment that I
may be assumed, is the concern of those opposed to, as much as of those in favor of, would be prepared to welcome. Properly safeguarded and with suitable
televised trials - will be addressed since the tapes will not be released for public commentary, the depiction of an actual trial is an agency of enlightenment
showing until after the decision of the cases by the Sandiganbayan. By delaying the that could have few equals in its impact on the public understanding.
release of the tapes, much of the problem posed by real time TV and radio broadcast
will be avoided. Understanding of our legal process, so rarely provided by our educational
system, is now a desperate need.7
Thus, many important purposes for preserving the record of the trial can be served by
audio-visual recordings without impairing the right of the accused to a fair trial.
Professor Freund's observation is as valid today as when it was made thirty years
ago. It is perceptive for its recognition of the serious risks posed to the fair
Nor is the right of privacy of the accused a bar to the production of such administration of justice by live TV and radio broadcasts, especially when emotions
documentary. In Ayer Productions Pty. Ltd. V. Capulong,5 this Court set aside a are running high on the issues stirred by a case, while at the same time
lower court's injunction restraining the filming of "Four Day Revolution," a acknowledging the necessity of keeping audio-visual recordings of the proceedings
documentary film depicting, among other things, the role of then Minister of
of celebrated cases, for public information and exhibition, after passions have [A.M. No. 01-4-03-SC. June 29, 2001]
subsided.
RE: REQUEST RADIO-TV COVERAGE OF THE TRIAL IN THE
WHEREFORE, an audio-visual recording of the trial of former President Estrada SANDIGANBAYAN OF THE PLUNDER CASES AGAINST THE FORMER
before the Sandiganbayan is hereby ordered to be made, for the account of the PRESIDENT JOSEPH E. ESTRADA, SECRETARY OF JUSTICE HERNANDO
Sandiganbayan, under the following conditions: (a) the trial shall be recorded in its PEREZ, KAPISANAN NG MGA BRODKASTER NG PILIPINAS, CESAR
entirety, excepting such portions thereof as the Sandiganbayan may determine should SARINO, RENATO CAYETANO and ATTY. RICARDO ROMULO, petitioners,
not be held public under Rule 119, 21 of the Rules of Criminal Procedure; (b) vs. JOSEPH E. ESTRADA and INTEGRATED BAR OF THE PHILIPPINES,
cameras shall be installed inconspicuously inside the courtroom and the movement oppositors.
of TV crews shall be regulated consistent with the dignity and solemnity of the
proceedings; (c) the audio-visual recordings shall be made for documentary purposes
DECISION
only and shall be made without comment except such annotations of scenes depicted
therein as may be necessary to explain them; (d) the live broadcast of the recordings
before the Sandiganbayan shall have rendered its decision in all the cases against the VITUG, J.:
former President shall be prohibited under pain of contempt of court and other
sanctions in case of violations of the prohibition; (e) to ensure that the conditions are The travails of a deposed President continue. The Sandiganbayan reels to start
observed, the audio-visual recording of the proceedings shall be made under the hearing the criminal charges against Mr. Joseph E. Estrada. Media seeks to cover the
supervision and control of the Sandiganbayan or its Division concerned and shall be event via live television and live radio broadcast and endeavors this Court to allow it
made pursuant to rules promulgated by it; and (f) simultaneously with the release of that kind of access to the proceedings.
the audio-visual recordings for public broadcast, the original thereof shall be
deposited in the National Museum and the Records Management and Archives On 13 March 2001, the Kapisanan ng mga Brodkaster ng Pilipinas (KBP), an
Office for preservation and exhibition in accordance with law. association representing duly franchised and authorized television and radio
networks throughout the country, sent a letterxxiii[1] requesting this Court to allow
SO ORDERED. live media coverage of the anticipated trial of the plunder and other criminal cases
filed against former President Joseph E. Estrada before the Sandiganbayan in order
"to assure the public of full ransparency in the proceedings of an unprecedented case
in our history."xxiii[2] The request was seconded by Mr. Cesar N. Sarino in his letter
of 05 April 2001 to the Chief Justice and, still later, by Senator Renato Cayetano and
Attorney Ricardo Romulo.

On 17 April 2001, the Honorable Secretary of Justice Hernando Perez formally filed
the instant petition,xxiii[3] submitting the following exegesis:

"3. The foregoing criminal cases involve the previous acts of the former highest
official of the land, members of his family, his cohorts and, therefore, it cannot be
over emphasized that the prosecution thereof, definitely involves a matter of public
concern and interest, or a matter over which the entire citizenry has the right to
know, be informed and made aware of.

" 4. There is no gainsaying that the constitutional right of the people to be informed
on matters of public concern, as in the instant cases, can best be recognized, served
and satisfied by allowing the live radio and television coverage of the concomitant
court proceedings.
"5. Moreover, the live radio and television coverage of the proceedings will also testimony. Also, telecasting not only increases the trial judge's responsibility to
serve the dual purpose of ensuring the desired transparency in the administration of avoid actual prejudice to the defendant, it may as well affect his own performance.
justice in order to disabuse the minds of the supporters of the past regime of any and Judges are human beings also and are subject to the same psychologjcal reactions as
all unfounded notions, or ill-perceived attempts on the part of the present laymen. For the defendant, telecasting is a form of mental harassment and subjects
dispensation, to 'railroad' the instant criminal cases against the Former President him to excessive public exposure and distracts him from the effective presentation of
Joseph Ejercito Estrada."xxiii[4] his defense.

Public interest, the petition further averred, should be evident bearing in mind the 'The television camera is a powerful weapon which intentionally or inadvertently can
right of the public to vital information affecting the nation. destroy an accused and his case in the eyes of the public.'

In effect, the petition seeks a re-examination of the 23rd October 1991 resolution of "Representatives of the press have no special standing to apply for a writ of mandate
this Court in a case for libel filed by then President Corazon C. Aquino. The to compel a court to permit them to attend a trial, since within the courtroom, a
resolution read: reporter's constitutional rights are no greater than those of any other member of the
public. Massive intrusion of representatives of the news media into the trial itself
"The records of the Constitutional Commission are bereft of discussion regarding the can so alter or destroy the constitutionally necessary judicial atmosphere and
subject of cameras in the courtroom. Similarly, Philippine courts have not had the decorum that the requirements of impartiality imposed by due process of law are
opportunity to rule on the question squarely. denied the defendant and a defendant in a criminal proceeding should not be forced
to run a gauntlet of reporters and photographers each time he enters or leaves the
courtroom.
While we take notice of the September 1990 report of the United States Judicial
Conference Ad Hoc Committee on Cameras in the Courtroom, still the current rule
obtaining in the Federal Courts of the United States prohibit the presence of "Considering the prejudice it poses to the defendant's right to due process as well as
television cameras in criminal trials. Rule 53 of the Federal Rules of Criminal to the fair and orderly administration of justice, and considering further that the
Procedure forbids the taking of photographs during the progress of judicial freedom of the press and the right of the people to information may be served and
proceedings or radio broadcasting of such proceedings from the courtroom. A trial satisfied by less distracting, degrading and prejudicial means, live radio and
of any kind or in any court is a matter of serious importance to all concerned and television coverage of court proceedings shall not be allowed. Video footages of
should not be treated as a means of entertainment. To so treat it deprives the court of court hearings for news purposes shall be restricted and limited to shots of the
the dignity which pertains to it and departs from the orderly and serious quest for courtroom, the judicial officers, the parties and their counsel taken prior to the
truth for which our judicial proceedings are formulated. commencement of official proceedings. No video shots or photographs shall be
permitted during the trial proper.
"Courts do not discriminate against radio and television media by forbidding the
broadcasting or televising of a trial while permitting the newspaper reporter access to "Accordingly, in order to protect the parties right to due process, to prevent the
the courtroom, since a television or news reporter has the same privilege, as the news distraction of the participants in the proceedings and in the last analysis, to avoid
reporter is not permitted to bring his typewriter or printing press into the courtroom. miscarriage of justice, the Court resolved to PROHIBIT live radio and television
coverage of court proceedings. Video footages of court hearings for news purposes
shall be limited and restricted as above indicated."
"In Estes vs. Texas, the United States Supreme Court held that television coverage of
judicial proceedings involves an inherent denial of the due process rights of a
criminal defendant. Voting 5-4, the Court through 'Mr. Justice Clark, identified four Admittedly, the press is a mighty catalyst in awakening public consciousness, and it
(4) areas of potential prejudice which might arise from the impact of the cameras on has become an important instrument in the quest for truth.xxiii[5] Recent history
the jury, witnesses, the trial judge and the defendant. The decision in part pertinently exemplifies media's invigorating presence, and its contribution to society is quite
stated: impressive. The Court, just recently, has taken judicial notice of the enormous effect
of media in stirring public sentience during the impeachment trial, a partly judicial
and partly political exercise, indeed the most-watched program in the boob-tubes
"'Experience likewise has established the prejudicial effect of telecasting on
during those times, that would soon culminate in EDSA II.
witnesses. Witnesses might be frightened, play to the camera, or become nervous.
They are subject to extraordinary out-of-court influences which might affect their
The propriety of granting or denying the instant petition involve the weighing out of An accused has a right to a public trial but it is a right that belongs to him, more than
the constitutional guarantees of freedom of the press and the right to public anyone else, where his life or liberty can be held critically in balance. A public trial
information, on the one hand, and the fundamental rights of the accused, on the other aims to ensure that he is fairly dealt with and would not be unjustly condemned and
hand, along with the constitutional power of a court to control its proceedings in that his rights are not compromised in secrete conclaves of long ago. A public trial is
ensuring a fair and impartial trial.xxiii[6] not synonymous with publicized trial; it only implies that the court doors must be
open to those who wish to come, sit in the available seats, conduct themselves with
When these rights race against one another, jurisprudencexxiii[7] tells us that the decorum and observe the trial process. In the constitutional sense, a courtroom
right of the accused must be preferred to win. should have enough facilities for a reasonable number of the public to observe the
proceedings, not too small as to render the openness negligible and not too large as
to distract the trial participants from their proper functions, who shall then be totally
With the possibility of losing not only the precious liberty but also the very life of an
free to report what they have observed during the proceedings.xxiii[16]
accused, it behooves all to make absolutely certain that an accused receives a verdict
solely on the basis of a just and dispassionate judgment, a verdict that would come
only after the presentation of credible evidence testified to by unbiased witnesses The courts recognize the constitutionally embodied freedom of the press and the
unswayed by any kind of pressure, whether open or subtle, in proceedings that are right to public information. It also approves of media's exalted power to provide the
devoid of histrionics that might detract from its basic aim to ferret veritable facts free most accurate and comprehensive means of conveying the proceedings to the public
from improper influence,xxiii[8] and decreed by a judge with an unprejudiced mind, and in acquainting the public with the judicial process in action; nevertheless, within
unbridled by running emotions or passions. the courthouse, the overriding consideration is still the paramount right of the
accused to due processxxiii[17] which must never be allowed to suffer diminution in
its constitutional proportions. Justice Clark thusly pronounced, "while a maximum
Due process guarantees the accused a presumption of innocence until the contrary is
freedom must be allowed the press in carrying out the important function of
proved in a trial that is not lifted above its individual settings nor made an object of
informing the public in a democratic society, its exercise must necessarily be subject
public's attentionxxiii[9] and where the conclusions reached are induced not by any
to the maintenance of absolute fairness in the judicial process."xxiii[18]
outside force or influencexxiii[10] but only by evidence and argument given in open
court, where fitting dignity and calm ambiance is demanded.
This Court, in the instancexxiii[19] already mentioned, citing Estes vs.
Texas,xxiii[20] the United States Supreme Court holding the television coverage of
Witnesses and judges may very well be men and women of fortitude, able to thrive
judicial proceedings as an inherent denial of due process rights of an accused, also
in hardy climate, with every reason to presume firmness of mind and resolute
identified the following as being likely prejudices:
endurance, but it must also be conceded that "television can work profound changes
in the behavior of the people it focuses on."xxiii[11] Even while it may be difficult to
quantify the influence, or pressure that media can bring to bear on them directly and "1. The potential impact of television x x x is perhaps of the greatest significance. x x
through the shaping of public opinion, it is a fact, nonetheless, that, indeed, it does so x. From the moment the trial judge announces that a case will be televised it
in so many ways and in varying degrees. The conscious or unconscious effect that becomes a cause celebre. The whole community, x x x becomes interested in all the
such coverage may have on the testimony of witnesses and the decision of judges morbid details surrounding it. The approaching trial immediately assumes an
cannot be evaluated but, it can likewise be said, it is not at all unlikely for a vote of important status in the public press and the accused is highly publicized along with
guilt or innocence to yield to it.xxiii[12] It might be farcical to build around them an the offense with which he is charged. Every juror carries with him into the jury box
impregnable armor against the influence of the most powerful media of public these solemn facts and thus increases the chance of prejudice that is present in every
opinion.xxiii[13] criminal case. x x x

To say that actual prejudice should first be present would leave to near nirvana the "2. The quality of the testimony in criminal trials will often be impaired. The impact
subtle threats to justice that a disturbance of the mind so indispensable to the calm upon a witness of the knowledge that he is being viewed by a vast audience is simply
and deliberate dispensation of justice can create.xxiii[14] The effect of television incalculable. Some may be demoralized and frightened, some cocky and given to
may escape the ordinary means of proof, but it is not far-fetched for it to gradually overstatement; memories may falter, as with anyone speaking publicly, and accuracy
erode our basal conception of a trial such as we know it now.xxiii[15] of statement may be severely undermined. x x x. Indeed, the mere fact that the trial
is to be televised might render witnesses reluctant to appear and thereby impede the
trial as well as the discovery of the truth.
"3. A major aspect of the problem is the additional responsibilities the presence of But were the cases decided by the U.S. courts and cited in the minority opinion really
television places on the trial judge. His job is to make certain that the accused in point?
receives a fair trial. This most difficult task requires his undivided attention. x x x
In Nebraska Press Association vs. Stewart,xxiii[22] the Nebraska State trial judge
4. Finally, we cannot ignore the impact of courtroom television on the defendant. Its issued an order restraining news media from publishing accounts of confession or
presence is a form of mental - if not physical-harassment, resembling a police line-up admissions made by the accused or facts strongly implicating him. The order was
or the third degree. The inevitable close-up of his gestures and expressions during struck down. In Richmond Newspaper, Inc., vs. Virginia,xxiii[23] the trial judge
the ordeal of his trial might well transgress his personal sensibilities, his dignity, and closed the courtroom to the public and all participants except witnesses when they
his ability to concentrate on the proceedings before him - sometimes the difference testify. The judge was reversed by the U.S. Supreme Court which ruled that criminal
between life and death - dispassionately, freely and without the distraction of wide trials were historically open. In Globe Newspaper vs. Superior Court,xxiii[24] the
public surveillance. A defendant on trial for a specific crime is entitled to his day in US Supreme Court voided a Massachusetts law that required trial judges to exclude
court, not in a stadium, or a city or nationwide arena. The heightened public clamor the press and the public from the courtroom during the testimony of a minor victim
resulting from radio and television coverage will inevitably result in prejudice." of certain sexual offenses.

In his concurring opinion in Estes, Mr. Justice Harlan opined that live television and Justice Stewart, in Chandler vs. Florida,xxiii[25] where two police officers charged
radio coverage could have mischievous potentialities for intruding upon the detached with burglary sought to overturn their conviction before the US Supreme Court upon
atmosphere that should always surround the judicial process.xxiii[21] the ground that the television coverage had infringed their right to fair trial,
explained that "the constitutional violation perceived by the Estes Court did not stem
The Integrated Bar of the Philippines, in its Resolution of 16 April 2001, expressed from the physical disruption that might one day disappear with technological
its own concern on the live television and radio coverage of the criminal trials of Mr. advances in the television equipment but inhered, rather, in the hypothesis that the
Estrada; to paraphrase: Live television and radio coverage can negate the rule on mere presence of cameras and recording devices might have an effect on the trial
exclusion of witnesses during the hearings intended to assure a fair trial; at stake in participants prejudicial to the accused."xxiii[26]
the criminal trial is not only the life and liberty of the accused but the very credibility
of the Philippine criminal justice system, and live television and radio coverage of Parenthetically, the United States Supreme Court and other federal courts do not
the trial could allow the "hooting throng" to arrogate unto themselves the task of allow live television and radio coverage of their proceedings.
judging the guilt of the accused, such that the verdict of the court will be acceptable
only if popular; and live television and radio coverage of the trial will not subserve The sad reality is that the criminal cases presently involved are of great dimensions
the ends of justice but will only pander to the desire for publicity of a few so involving as they do a former President of the Republic. It is undeniable that
grandstanding lawyers. these cases have twice become the nation's focal points in the two conflicting
phenomena of EDSA II and EDSA III where the magnitude of the events has left a
It may not be unlikely, if the minority position were to be adopted, to see protracted still divided nation. Must these events be invited anew and risk the relative stability
delays in the prosecution of cases before trial courts brought about by petitions that has thus far been achieved? The transcendental events in our midst do not allow
seeking a declaration of mistrial on account of undue publicity and assailing a court a us to, turn a blind eye to yet another possible extraordinary case of mass action being
quo's action either allowing or disallowing live media coverage of the court allowed to now creep into even the business of the courts in the dispensation of
proceedings because of supposed abuse of discretion on the part of the judge. justice under a rule of law. At the very least, a change in the standing rule of the
court contained in its resolution of 23 October 1991 may not appear to be propitious.
En passant, the minority would view the ponencia as having modified the case law
on the matter. Just to the contrary, the Court effectively reiterated its standing Unlike other government offices, courts do not express the popular will of the people
resolution of 23 October 1991. Until 1991, the Court had yet to establish the case in any sense which, instead, are tasked to only adjudicate justiciable controversies on
law on the matter, and when it did in its 23rd October resolution, it confirmed, in the basis of what alone is submitted before them.xxiii[27] A trial is not a free trade of
disallowing live television and radio coverage of court proceedings, that "the records ideas. Nor is a competing market of thoughts the known test truth in a
of the Constitutional Commission (were) bereft of discussion regarding the subject of courtroom.xxiii[28]
cameras in the courtroom" and that "Philippine courts (had) not (theretofore) had the
opportunity to rule on the question squarely."
The Court is not all that unmindful of recent technological and scientific advances
but to chance forthwith the life or liberty of any person in a hasty to bid to use and
apply them, even before ample safety nets are provided and the concerns heretofore
expressed are aptly addressed, is a price too high to pay.
[G.R. Nos. 121039-45. October 18, 2001]
WHEREFORE, the petition is DENIED.
THE PEOPLE OF THE PHILIPPINES, plaintiff-appellee, vs. MAYOR ANTONIO
SO ORDERED. L. SANCHEZ, GEORGE MEDIALDEA, ZOILO AMA, BALDWIN BRION, LUIS
CORCOLON, ROGELIO CORCOLON, and PEPITO KAWIT, accused-appellants.

RESOLUTION

MELO, J.:

Before us is a motion for reconsideration of our January 25, 1999 decision, penned
by Justice Antonio M. Martinez, affirming in toto the judgment of conviction
rendered by Branch 70 of the Pasig City Regional Trial Court finding accused-
appellants Mayor Antonio Sanchez, George Medialdea, Zoilo Ama, Baldwin Brion,
Luis Corcolon, Rogelio Corcolon and Pepito Kawit guilty beyond reasonable doubt
of the crime of rape with homicide, and additionally, ordering each of them to pay
the amount of Seven Hundred Thousand Pesos (P700,000.00) to the heirs of the two
victims as additional indemnity. While accused-appellants Antonio Sanchez, Zoilo
Ama, Baldwin Brion and Pepito Kawit seasonably filed their respective motions for
reconsideration, it was only on December 6, 1999 that the Office of the Solicitor
General filed its Comment thereto. And since Justice Martinez had retired earlier on
February 2, 1999, in accordance with A.M. No. 99-8-09 promulgated by the Court
on February 15, 2000, the motions for reconsideration filed by accused-appellants
was assigned by raffle only on September 18, 2001 to herein ponente for study and
preparation of the appropriate action.

In his motion for reconsideration, Mayor Antonio Sanchez avers that he is a victim
of trial and conviction by publicity and that the principal witnesses Aurelio Centeno
and Vicencio Malabanan presented by the prosecution are lacking in credibility. He
likewise contends that the testimony of his 13-year old daughter vis--vis his
whereabouts on the night of the felony should have been given full faith and credit as
against the testimony of Centeno and Malabanan. Lastly, Mayor Sanchez seeks the
reconsideration of the amount of the gargantuan damages awarded on the ground
that the same have no factual and legal bases.

In the same vein, accused-appellants Zoilo Ama, Baldwin Brion, and Pepito Kawit,
in their motion for reconsideration, maintain that prosecution witnesses Centeno and
Malabanan have been sufficiently impeached by prior inconsistent statements
allegedly pertaining to material and crucial points of the events at issue. Not only
that, they assert that independent and disinterested witnesses have destroyed the This failure to present proof of actual bias continues to hound accused-appellant
prosecutions version of events. Sanchez, having failed, in his motion for reconsideration, to substantiate his claims
of actual bias on the part of the trial judge. Not only that, accused-appellants case
Preliminarily, it may be observed that, except for the issue of civil damages raised by has been exhaustively and painstakingly reviewed by the Court itself. Accused-
Mayor Sanchez, accused-appellants have not presented any issue new or different appellant Sanchez has not shown by an iota of proof that the Court, in the
from that which they had previously raised before the trial court and this Court. examination of his appeal, was unduly swayed by publicity in affirming the sentence
Moreover, the issues they have raised have been discussed at length and passed upon of conviction imposed by the trial court. The charge of conviction by publicity
by both the court a quo and by this Court. Thus, on the charge that accused- leveled by accused-appellant has thus no ground to stand on.
appellant Sanchez is a victim of trial and conviction by publicity, in our January 25,
1999 decision, citing People vs. Teehankee, Jr. (249 SCRA 54), we declared: As to the claim that witnesses Centeno and Malabanan lack credibility and that they
were sufficiently impeached by prior inconsistent statements, the same is old hat, to
We cannot sustain appellants claim that he was denied the right to impartial trial due say the least. It is hornbook doctrine in criminal jurisprudence that when the issue is
to prejudicial publicity. It is true that the print and broadcast media gave the case at one of credibility of witnesses, appellate courts will not disturb the findings of the
bar pervasive publicity, just like all high profile and high stake criminal trials. Then trial court and the appellate courts will respect these findings considering that trial
and now, we rule that the right of an accused to a fair trial is not incompatible to a courts are in a better position to decide the question, having heard the witnesses
free press. To be sure, responsible reporting enhances an accuseds right to a fair themselves and observed their deportment and manner of testifying during the trial
trial for, as well pointed out, a responsible press has always been regarded as the (People vs. Mendoza, 332 SCRA 485 [2000]). In the instant case, then Judge Harriet
handmaiden of effective judicial administration, especially in the criminal field Demetriou found both Centeno and Malabanan to have testified in a frank,
The press does not simply publish information about trials but guards against the spontaneous, and straightforward manner; and that despite gruelling cross-
miscarriage of justice by subjecting the police, prosecutors, and judicial processes to examination by a battery of defense lawyers, their testimony never wavered on the
extensive public scrutiny and criticism. substantial matters in issue.

Pervasive publicity is not per se prejudicial to the right of an accused to fair trial. As to the alleged inconsistencies in the testimony of Centeno and Malabanan, suffice
The mere fact that the trial of appellant was given a day-to-day, gavel-to-gavel it to say that the points raised have all been carefully and assiduously examined, not
coverage does not by itself prove that publicity so permeated the mind of the trial only by the trial court but also by the Court itself, and that the inconsistencies were
judge and impaired his impartiality Our judges are learned in the law and trained found to refer to minor and collateral matters. It is well-settled that so long as the
to disregard off-court evidence and on-camera performances of parties to a litigation. witnesses declarations agree on substantial matters, the inconsequential
Their mere exposure to publications and publicity stunts does not per se fatally infect inconsistencies and contradictions dilute neither the witnesses credibility nor the
their impartiality. verity of their testimony (People vs. Agomo-o, 334 SCRA 279 [2000]). Accused-
appellants have not shown in their motions for reconsideration new evidence to
warrant disregard for the above-rule, nor have they shown that the Court has
At best, appellant can only conjure possibility of prejudice on the part of the trial
overlooked, misunderstood, or misapplied some fact of weight and circumstance that
judge due to the barrage of publicity that characterized the investigation and trial of
would have materially affected the outcome of the case.
the case. In Martelino et al. vs. Alejandro et al., we rejected this standard of
possibility of prejudice and adopted the test of actual prejudice as we ruled that to
warrant a finding of prejudicial publicity, there must be allegation and proof that the Accused-appellant Sanchezs argument that the testimony of his 13-year old
judges have been unduly influenced, not simply that they might be, by the barrage of daughter, Ave Marie Sanchez, as to his whereabouts on the night of the crime should
publicity. In the case at bar, the records do not show that the trial judge developed be given full faith and credence is likewise unavailing. While it is true that
actual bias against appellant as a consequence of the extensive media coverage of the statements of children are accorded great probative value, it is likewise true that alibi
pre-trial and trial of his case. The totality of circumstances of the case does not is the weakest defense an accused can concoct. Where nothing supports the alibi
prove that the trial judge acquired a fixed position as a result of prejudicial publicity except the testimony of a relative, it deserves but scant consideration (People vs.
which is incapable of change even by evidence presented during the trial. Appellant Waggay, 218 SCRA 742 [1993]). Moreover, accused-appellant Sanchezs alibi
has the burden to prove this actual bias and he has not discharged the burden. cannot prevail over the positive declarations of the prosecution that he was at Erais
Farm that fateful night. The alibis of accused-appellants Zoilo Ama, Baldwin Brion,
and Pepito Kawit are even worse, not having been corroborated by any other
evidence. The assertions of these accused-appellants as to their innocence are thus incurred funeral expenses, P10,000.00 by way of nominal damages should be
entitled short shrift from this Court. awarded. This award is adjudicated so that a right which has been violated may be
recognized or vindicated, and not for the purpose of indemnification (see People vs.
Accused-appellant Sanchezs asseverations as to the amount of damages awarded is, Candare, 333 SCRA 338 [2000]).
however, meritorious. The trial court awarded the Sarmenta family P50,000.00 as
civil liability for the wrongful death of Eileen Sarmenta, P106,650.00 for the funeral The award of P3,276,000.00 and P3,360,000.00, representing the alleged loss of
expenses they incurred, and P3,276,000.00 for the loss of Eileen Sarmentas earning earning capacity of Sarmenta and Gomez, respectively, also merit review. Eileen
capacity; or a total of P3,432,650.00 as actual damages. On the other hand, the Sarmenta, at the time of her death, was a graduating student of the College of
Gomez family was awarded by the trial court a total of P3,484,000.00 as actual Agriculture of the University of the Philippines at Los Baos (UPLB), majoring in
damages, broken down as follows: P50,000.00 for the wrongful death of Allan Food and Nutrition for Large Animals. Allan Gomez was likewise a senior student
Gomez, P74,000.00 for the latters funeral, and P3,360,000.00 for the loss of the of the College of Agriculture of UPLB, majoring in Beef Production. The trial court,
latters earning capacity. using the American Expectancy Table of Mortality, pegged the life expectancy of
Sarmenta, 21 years old at the time of her death, and Gomez, 19 years old at the time
Similarly, the trial court ordered accused-appellants to pay the sum of P2,000,000.00 of his death, at 39.1 and 40.6 years, respectively. Believing that the victims would
to the Sarmenta family and another P2,000,000.00 to the Gomez family as moral have earned a monthly salary of P15,000.00 and incurred living expenses of
damages. Lastly, the trial court ordered accused-appellants to pay the Sarmenta and P8,000.00 per month, the trial court awarded P3,276,000.00 and P3,360,000.00 as
Gomez families the sum of P164,250.00 and 191,000.00, respectively, for litigation the amount recoverable by the Sarmenta and Gomez families, respectively, for the
expenses incurred. loss of the earning capacity of Eileen and Allan.

The Court, in its decision dated January 25, 1999, affirmed in toto the decision of the While accused-appellant Sanchez contends that the awards of P3,276,000.00 and
lower court. However, we also ordered each accused-appellant to pay the respective P3,360,000.00 are baseless in fact and law, no evidence having been adduced to
heirs of Eileen Sarmenta and Allan Gomez an additional indemnity of P350,000.00 prove that the victims had any actual income at the time of their demise, it is well-
each, stating that since each accused-appellant had been found guilty of seven counts settled that to be compensated for loss of earning capacity, it is not necessary that the
of rape with homicide, jurisprudence dictated that for each count, each accused- victim, at the time of injury or death, be gainfully employed. Compensation of this
appellant is liable for civil indemnity of P50,000.00, or a total of P350,000.00. nature is awarded not for loss of earnings but for loss of capacity to earn money
(People vs. Teehankee, supra). Likewise, the fact that the prosecution did not
present documentary evidence to support its claim for damages for loss of earning
Since the trial courts award of actual damages to the Gomez and Sarmenta families
capacity of the deceased does not preclude recovery of the same (People vs. Quilang,
already included civil indemnity in the amount of P50,000.00, to order each accused-
312 SCRA 314 [1999]; People vs. Verde, 302 SCRA 690 [1999]). On the part of
appellant to pay an additional P350,000.00 as civil indemnity would be double
Eileen Sarmenta, her mother testified that Eileen had an offer for employment from
recovery of damages on the part of the Gomez and Sarmenta families for the same
Monterey Farms. On the other hand, Allan Gomezs mother testified that her
act or omission. Thus, the amount of P50,000.00 awarded by the trial court must
deceased son planned to work on a private farm after graduation.
each be deducted from the amount of actual damages due to the Gomez and
Sarmenta families.
Moreover, in Cariaga et al. vs. LTB and Manila Railroad Co. (110 Phil. 346 [1960]),
the Court awarded compensatory damages for the loss of earning capacity to
As for funeral expenses, the Court had occasion to declare in People vs. Timon (281
Edgardo Cariaga, a 4th year medical student at UST, stating that while his scholastic
SCRA 577 [1997]) that burial expenses, which are by nature actual expenses must
record may not have been first rate, it was, nevertheless, sufficient to justify the
be proved. Since no proof of burial expenses was ever presented in the instant case,
assumption that he could have finished the course, would have passed the board in
its award will not be allowed. It is a settled rule that there must be proof that actual
due time, and that he could have possibly earned as a medical practitioner the
or compensatory damages have been suffered and evidence of its actual amount
minimum monthly income of P300.00.
(People vs. Nablo, 319 SCRA 784 [1999]). While the funeral expenses incurred by
the Sarmenta family were supported by the appropriate receipts, the same is not true
for the funeral expenses incurred by the Gomez family. Not having been duly Both Sarmenta and Gomez were senior agriculture students at UPLB, the countrys
receipted, the amount of P74,000.00 awarded to the Gomez family as funeral leading educational institution in agriculture. As reasonably assumed by the trial
expenses must, perforce, be deleted. However, as the heirs of Allan Gomez clearly court, both victims would have graduated in due course. Undeniably, their untimely
death deprived them of their future time and earning capacity. For these deprivation, As to the award of P2,000,000.00 each as moral damages to the Sarmenta and
their heirs are entitled to compensation. Difficulty, however, arises in measuring the Gomez families, these must also be reduced, the same being excessive. While the
value of Sarmentas and Gomezs lost time and capacity to earn money in the future, assessment of moral damages is left to the discretion of the court according to the
both having been unemployed at the time of death. While the law is clear that the circumstances of each case (Article 2216, Civil Code), the purpose of moral damages
deceased has a right to his own time which right cannot be taken from him by a is essentially indemnity or reparation, not punishment or correction. Moral damages
tortfeasor without compensation the law is also clear that damages cannot be are emphatically not intended to enrich a complainant at the expense of a defendant;
awarded on the speculation, passion, or guess of the judge or the witnesses. In this they are awarded only to enable the injured party to obtain means, diversions or
case, Eileen Sarmentas mother testified that for a new graduate of UPLB, the basic amusements that will serve to alleviate the moral suffering he has undergone by
salary was more or less P15,000.00 per month. Allan Gomezs mother, on the other reason of the defendants culpable action. In other words, the award of moral
hand, testified that her son could have easily gotten P10,000.00 to P15,000.00 per damages is aimed at a restoration, within the limits of the possible, of the spiritual
month. Clearly, the testimony of said witnesses are speculative, insufficient to prove status quo ante; and therefore, it must be proportionate to the suffering inflicted
that in 1993, Sarmenta and Gomez would have indeed earned P15,000.00 a month (Dela Serna vs. CA, 233 SCRA 325 [1994]). The intensity of the pain experienced
had they managed to graduate. However, considering that Sarmenta and Gomez by the relatives of the victim is proportionate to the intensity of affection for him and
would have graduated in due time from a reputable university, it would not be bears no relation whatever with the wealth or the means of the offender. The death
unreasonable to assume that in 1993 they would have earned more than the minimum caused by a beggar is felt by the parents of the victim as intensely as that caused by
wage. All factors considered, the Court believes that it is fair and reasonable to fix the action of a wealthy family. The Court, in the exercise of its discretion, thus
the monthly income that the two would have earned in 1993 at P8,000.00 per month reduces the amount of moral damages awarded to the heirs of Eileen Gomez and
(or P96,000.00/year) and their deductible living and other incidental expenses at Allan Sarmenta to P1,000,000.00 each. As to the award of attorneys fees and
P3,000.00 per month (or P36,000.00/year). Hence, in accordance with the formula litigation expenses, the same is reasonable and justified, this case having dragged on
adopted by the Court in Villa Rey Transit, Inc. vs. CA (31 SCRA 511 [1970]), and for over eight years.
using the American Expectancy Table of Mortality, the loss of Sarmenta and
Gomezs earning capacity is to be computed as follows: WHEREFORE, premises considered, we AFFIRM the conviction of accused-
appellants for seven counts of rape with homicide and the sentence of reclusion
Net earning capacity = Life expectancy x (Gross Annual Income Living Expenses) perpetua imposed upon them for each of said counts, with MODIFICATION that the
accused be ordered to pay the heirs of the victims as follows:
where: Life expectancy = 2/3 (80 the age of the
deceased) To the heirs of Eileen Sarmenta:

Heirs of Eileen Sarmenta: 1. Death indemnity P 350,000.00

= 2/3 (80-21) x (96,000 36,000) 2. Moral damages 1,000,000.00

= 39.353 x 60,000 3. Funeral expenses 106,650.00

= P2,361,180.00 4. Loss of earning capacity 2,361,180.00

Heirs of Allan Gomez: 5. Attorneys fees & litigation expenses 164,250.00

= 2/3 (80-19) x (96,000 36,000) ----------------------

= 40.687 x 60,000 Total P 3,982,080.00

= P2,441,220.00 To the heirs of Allan Gomez:


1. Death indemnity P 350,000.00

2. Moral damages 1,000,000.00

3. Nominal damages 10,000.00

4. Loss of earning capacity 2,441,220.00

5. Attorneys fees & litigation expenses 191,000.00

----------------------

Total P 3,992,220.00

SO ORDERED.