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Saturnino Ocampo v. Hon. Ephrem S.

Abando
G.R. No. 176830
February 11, 2014

FACTS: Petitioners were charged with the murder of the victims found in a mass graveyard
and with the crime of rebellion as leaders of the CPP/NPA/NPDF. They claimed that copies
of the subpoena, the complaint and other supporting documents never reached them so
that they were denied due process during the preliminary investigation, but the Court held
that efforts were made by sending these to their addresses. Also, the judge complied with
the Constitutional requirements in his determination of probable cause for the issuance of
the warrants of arrest.

ISSUE: Whether or not petitioners’ right to due process was violated during the preliminary
investigation

RULING: NO. Section 3(d), Rule 112 of the Rules of Court, allows Prosecutor Vivero to resolve
the complaint based on the evidence before him if a respondent could not be subpoenaed. As
long as efforts to reach a respondent were made, and he was given an opportunity to present
countervailing evidence, the preliminary investigation remains valid. It was only because a
majority of them could no longer be found at their last known addresses that they were not
served copies.The rule was meant to foil underhanded attempts of a respondent to delay the
prosecution of offenses. A preliminary investigation is "not a casual affair." It is conducted to
protect the innocent from the embarrassment, expense and anxiety of a public trial. In the
context of a preliminary investigation, the right to due process of law entails the opportunity to
be heard. It serves to accord an opportunity for the presentation of the respondent’s side with
regard to the accusation. Afterwards, the investigating officer shall decide whether the
allegations and defenses lead to a reasonable belief that a crime has been committed,
and that it was the respondent who committed it. Otherwise, the investigating officer is bound to
dismiss the complaint.