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G.R. No.

149472 October 15, 2002


JORGE SALAZAR, petitioner,
vs.
PEOPLE OF THE PHILIPPINES, respondent.
DECISION
PUNO, J.:
In an information dated January 21, 1987, petitioner Jorge Salazar was charged with estafa under
Article 315 paragraph 1(b) of the Revised Penal Code. The information reads:
"That on or about the 10th date of January 1986 in the Municipality of Makati, Metro Manila,
Philippines, and within the jurisdiction of this Honorable Court, the above-named accused, being the
Vice President and Treasurer of Aurora/Uni-Group, Inc., received from Olivier Philippines and Skiva
International, Inc. as represented by Teresita M. Tujan the amount of $41,300.00 for the sole purpose
of meeting the cost of textile and labor in the manufacture of seven hundred dozen stretch twill jeans
which he (accused) is duty bound to deliver to said complainant, and the accused once in possession of
the same, far from complying from his obligation, with unfaithfulness and abuse of confidence and to
defraud said complainant, did, then and there willfully and unlawfully and feloniously misappropriate,
misapply and convert the same for his own personal use and benefit despite repeated demands to
return the said amount, failed and refused and still fails and refuses to do so, to the damage and
prejudice of said complainant, in the aforementioned amount of $41,300.00 or its equivalent in
Philippine currency.
Contrary to law."1
On arraignment, petitioner pleaded "not guilty" to the charge.
It appears that Skiva International, Inc. ("Skiva") is a New York-based corporation which imports
clothes from the Philippines through its buying agent, Olivier (Philippines) Inc. ("Olivier"). Aurora
Manufacturing & Development Corporation ("Aurora") and Uni-Group Inc. ("Uni-Group") are
domestic corporations which supply finished clothes to Skiva. Mr. Werner Lettmayr is the President of
both Aurora and Uni-Group while the petitioner, Jorge Salazar, is the Vice-President and Treasurer of
Uni-Group and a consultant of Aurora.
Skiva, through its buying agent, Olivier, has been purchasing finished clothes from Aurora and Uni-
Group. When an order is procured for the delivery of clothes, Olivier, issues to the local supplier,
Aurora/Uni-Group, a "Purchase Contract" and Olivier issues to Skiva a "Sales Contract". In these
transactions, payment is usually made by way of a letter of credit wherein the supplier is paid only
upon the presentation of the proper shipping documents to the designated bank.2
In December 1985, Skiva informed Olivier that it needs ladies jeans to be delivered sometime in
January 1986. Olivier, in turn, through its Officer-in-Charge, Ms. Teresita Tujan, contacted Aurora and
Uni-Group to supply the jeans. 3 Thus, a Purchase Contract dated December 18, 1985 was issued by
Olivier to Uni-Group wherein Uni-Group was to supply 700 dozens of three (3) different designs of
"Ladies Basic 5 Pockets Stretch Twill Jeans" payable by means of a letter of credit at sight. 4 The
Purchase Contract was confirmed by Mr. Lettmayr on December 30, 1985 . 5 A Sales Contract was also
issued by Olivier to Skiva containing the same terms and conditions as the Purchase Contract and was
confirmed by Mr. Jack Chehebar of Skiva.6
On January 7, 1986, the parties agreed that Skiva will advance to Aurora/Uni-Group the amount of
US$41,300.00 (then equivalent to P850,370.00 at the exchange rate of P20.59 to US$1.00) as
Aurora/Uni-Group did not have sufficient funds to secure raw materials to manufacture the jeans. 7 It
was also agreed that the amount advanced by Skiva represents advance payment of its order of 700
dozens of ladies jeans. 8 Skiva then issued a check in the said amount payable to Uni-Group. 9
However, due to the length of time needed for the check to be cleared, the parties made arrangements
to remit the funds instead by way of telegraphic transfer. 10 Thus, the check issued by Skiva was
returned by Mr. Lettmayr11 and as agreed, the funds were remitted by Skiva from its bank in New
York, the Israel Discount Bank, to the joint account of Mr. and Mrs. Jorge Salazar and Mr. and Mrs.
Werner Lettmayr at Citibank N.A.12
On January 16, 1986, petitioner, who had possession and control of the passbook of the said joint
account, withdrew the amount of US$21,675.2113 and on January 22, 1986, petitioner withdrew the
amount of US$20,000.00.14 The prosecution also presented evidence that subsequent to said
withdrawals, the amounts of US$71.70 and US$63.99 were deducted from the joint account as
telegraphic transfer fee and commission for the remittance of the funds to another account. 15
In the meantime, Ms. Tujan contacted Aurora/Uni-Group to follow up on the production of the jeans.
She learned that only 3,000 meters out of the 10,000 meters of Litton fabrics required for the order
were purchased from Litton Mills by the petitioner. 16 3,000 meters of Litton fabrics are enough to
produce only 200 dozens of ladies jeans - an amount insufficient to satisfy the order of Skiva of 700
dozens of ladies twill jeans.17 Upon inquiry with Mr. Lettmayr, the latter advised Ms. Tujan that the
query be directed to petitioner as petitioner is in charge of securing the materials. 18 However, Ms.
Tujan could not locate the petitioner.19
Consequently, in a letter dated March 13, 1986, demand was made upon Aurora/Uni-Group through its
President, Mr. Lettmayr, to return the money advanced in the amount of US$41,300.00.20
For failure of Aurora/Uni-Group to deliver the ladies jeans or to account for the US$41,300.00 despite
demand, Skiva, through its local agent represented by Ms. Tujan, filed a criminal complaint for estafa
against Mr. Lettmayr and petitioner. After preliminary investigation, the Public Prosecutor dismissed
the complaint against Mr. Lettmayr and an information was filed against petitioner. 21
After trial, the lower court convicted herein petitioner of estafa under Article 315 paragraph 1 (b) of
the Revised Penal Code, sentencing him to suffer the indeterminate penalty of imprisonment of eight
(8) years and one (1) day of prision mayor as the minimum to fourteen (14) years, eight (8) months
and one (1) day of reclusion temporal as the maximum and to pay Uni-Group and Aurora the amount
of P595,259.00. 22 On March 13, 1997, the lower court denied petitioner’s Motion for Reconsideration.
23
On appeal, the Court of Appeals affirmed in toto the decision of the trial court and denied
petitioner’s Motion for Reconsideration.24
Aggrieved by the aforementioned rulings, petitioner files the instant petition for review.

G.R. No. 122274 July 31, 1996


SUSAN V. LLENES,petitioner,
vs.
HON. ISAIAS P. DICDICAN, Presiding Judge, Regional Trial Court of Cebu, Branch 11, HON.
AMADO B. BAJARIAS, SR., Presiding Judge, Municipal Trial Court, Branch 7, and VIVIAN
G. GINETE,respondents.

DAVIDE, JR., J.:p

The key issue raised in this special civil action for certiorari under Rule 65 of the Rules of
Court is whether the filing with the office of the Ombudsman of a complaint against a
government official for grave oral defamation interrupts the period of prescription of such
offense.
We find this issue to be important enough to merit our attention. We thus resolved to give due course
to the petition, consider the private respondent's comment on the petition 1 ᄃ as the answer thereto, and
decide it on the basis of the pleadings which have sufficiently discussed the issue.
The factual and procedural antecedents are not disputed.
On 13 October 1993, private respondent Vivian G. Ginete, then officer-in-charge of the Physical
Education and School Sports (PESS) Division of the Regional Office of Region VII in Cebu City of
the Department of Education, Culture and Sports (DECS), filed with the Office of the Deputy
Ombudsman for the Visayas (hereinafter Ombudsman-Visayas) a complaint for grave oral
defamation2 ᄃ allegedly committed on 23 September 1993 by petitioner Susan V. Llenes, an
Education Supervisor II of the same Regional Office.
The petitioner was required to file a counter-affidavit pursuant to Administrative Order No. 7 of the
Office of the Ombudsman, but she failed to do so.
In his resolution of 15 March 1994,3 ᄃ Antonio B. Yap, Graft Investigation Officer I of the
said office, recommended that the case be indorsed to the Office of the City Prosecutor of
Cebu City for the filing of the necessary information against the petitioner. This
resolution was approved by the Deputy Ombudsman-Visayas.

On 28 March 1994, the City Prosecutor of Cebu City filed with the Municipal Trial Court
(MTC) in Cebu City an information4 ᄃ for grave oral defamation against the petitioner.
This was docketed as Criminal Case No. 35684-R and assigned to Branch 7 thereof.

On 30 May 1994, the petitioner filed a motion to quash5 ᄃ the information on the ground
that the "criminal action or liability" has been extinguished. She contended that under
Article 90 of the Revised Penal Code, the offense of grave oral defamation prescribes in 6
months and that since the information was filed only on 28 March 1994, or 186 days or 6
months and 6 days after its alleged commission, the crime had then already prescribed. In
support thereof, she cited the decision in "Zalderia6 ᄃ vs. Reyes, Jr., G.R. No. 102342,
July 3, 1992, 211 SCRA 277," wherein this Court ruled that the filing of an information at
the fiscal's office will not stop the running of the prescriptive period for crimes.
In her opposition,7 ᄃ the private respondent cited Section 1, Rule 110 of the Rules of the Court which
provides, inter alia, that for offense not subject to the rule on summary procedure in special cases and
which fall within the jurisdiction of Municipal Trial Courts and Municipal Circuit Trial Courts, the
filing of the complaint directly with the said court or with the fiscal's office interrupts the period of
prescription of the offense charged. The filing of the complaint by the private respondent with the
Office of the Deputy Ombudsman-Visayas was equivalent to the filing of a complaint with the fiscal's
(now prosecutor's) office under said Section 1 pursuant to its powers under Section 15(1) of R.A. No.
6770, otherwise known as the Ombudsman Act of 1989. The private respondent further claimed that
Zaldivia is inapplicable because it involves an offense covered by the rule on summary procedure and
it explicitly stated that Section 1 of Rule 110 excludes cases covered by the Rule on Summary
Procedure.
The Municipal Trial Court, per public respondent Judge Bajarias, denied the motion to quash in the
order of 18 July 1994.8 ᄃ It fully agreed with the stand of the private respondent.
Her motion to reconsider9 ᄃ the above order having been denied on 29 November 1994, 10 ᄃ the
petitioner filed with the Regional Trial Court (RTC) of Cebu a special civil action for certiorari,11 ᄃ
which was docketed therein as Civil Case No. CEB-16988. The case was assigned to Branch 11.
In its decision of 3 July 1995, 12 ᄃ the RTC, per public respondent Judge Isaias P. Dicdican, affirmed
the challenged orders of Judge Bajarias of 18 July 1994 and 29 November 1994. It ruled that the order
denying the motion to quash is interlocutory and that the petitioner's remedy, per Acharon vs.
Purisima,13 ᄃ reiterated in People vs. Bans,14 ᄃ was to go to trial without prejudice on her part to
reiterate the special defense she had invoked in her motion to quash and, if after trial on the merits an
adverse decision is rendered, to appeal therefrom in the manner authorized by law. Besides, the
petitioner has not satisfactorily and convincingly shown that Judge Bajarias has acted with grave
abuse of discretion in issuing the orders considering that the ground invoked by her does not appear to
be indubitable. And even assuming that the MTC erred in venturing an opinion that the filing of the
complaint with the Office of the Ombudsman is equivalent to the filing of a complaint with the fiscal's
office, such error is merely one of judgment. For, there is no decided case on the matter, and the
substantive laws have not clearly stated as to what bodies or agencies of government should
complaints or informations be filed in order that the period of prescription of crimes or offenses
should be considered interrupted. Article 91 of the Revised Penal Code simply states that the
prescriptive period shall be interrupted by the "filing of the complaint or information" and has not
specified further where such complaint or information should be filed.
Since the Regional Trial Court denied her motion to reconsider 15 ᄃ the decision in the order of 23
August 1995,16 ᄃ the petitioner filed this special civil action wherein she reiterates the arguments she
adduced before the two courts below. The private respondent likewise did nothing more in her
responsive pleading than reiterate what she had raised before the said courts.

G.R. No. 102342 July 3, 1992


LUZ M. ZALDIVIA,petitioner,
vs.
HON. ANDRES B. REYES, JR., in his capacity as Acting Presiding Judge of the
Regional Trial Court, Fourth Judicial Region, Branch 76, San Mateo, Rizal, and PEOPLE
OF THE PHILIPPINES,respondents.

CRUZ, J.:
The Court is asked to determine the applicable law specifying the prescriptive period for violations of
municipal ordinances.
The petitioner is charged with quarrying for commercial purposes without a mayor's permit in
violation of Ordinance No. 2, Series of 1988, of the Municipality of Rodriguez, in the Province of
Rizal.
The offense was allegedly committed on May 11, 1990.1 ᄃ The referral-complaint of the police was
received by the Office of the Provincial Prosecutor of Rizal on May 30, 1990. 2 ᄃ The corresponding
information was filed with the Municipal Trial Court of Rodriguez on October 2, 1990. 3 ᄃ
The petitioner moved to quash the information on the ground that the crime had prescribed, but the
motion was denied. On appeal to the Regional Trial Court of Rizal, the denial was sustained by the
respondent judge. 4 ᄃ
In the present petition for review on certiorari, the petitioner first argues that the charge against her is
governed by the following provisions of the Rule on Summary Procedure:
Sec. 1. Scope — This rule shall govern the procedure in the Metropolitan Trial Courts, the Municipal
Trial Courts, and the Municipal Circuit Trial Courts in the following cases:
xxx xxx xxx
B. Criminal Cases:
1. Violations of traffic laws, rules and regulations;
2. Violations of rental law;
3. Violations of municipal or city ordinances;
4. All other criminal cases where the penalty prescribed by law for the offenses charged does not
exceed six months imprisonment, or a fine of one thousand pesos (P1,000.00), or both, irrespective of
other imposable penalties, accessory or otherwise, or of the civil liability arising therefrom. . . .
(Emphasis supplied.)
xxx xxx xxx
Sec. 9. How commenced. — The prosecution of criminal cases falling within the scope of this Rule
shall be either by complaint or by information filed directly in court without need of a prior
preliminary examination or preliminary investigation: Provided, however, That in Metropolitan
Manila and chartered cities, such cases shall be commenced only by information; Provided, further,
That when the offense cannot be prosecuted de oficio,the corresponding complaint shall be signed and
sworn to before the fiscal by the offended party.
She then invokes Act. No. 3326, as amended, entitled "An Act to Establish Periods of Prescription for
Violations Penalized by Special Acts and Municipal Ordinances and to Provide When Prescription
Shall Begin to Run," reading as follows:
Sec. 1. Violations penalized by special acts shall, unless provided in such acts, prescribe in accordance
with the following rules: . . . Violations penalized by municipal ordinances shall prescribe after two
months.
Sec. 2. Prescription shall begin to run from the day of the commission of the violation of the law, and
if the same be not known at the time, from the discovery thereof and the institution of judicial
proceedings for its investigation and punishment.
The prescription shall be interrupted when proceedings are instituted against the guilty person, and
shall begin to run again if the proceedings are dismissed for reasons not constituting jeopardy.
Sec. 3. For the purposes of this Act, special acts shall be acts defining and penalizing violations of law
not included in the Penal Code. (Emphasis supplied)
Her conclusion is that as the information was filed way beyond the
two-month statutory period from the date of the alleged commission of the offense, the charge against
her should have been dismissed on the ground of prescription.
For its part, the prosecution contends that the prescriptive period was suspended upon the filing of the
complaint against her with the Office of the Provincial Prosecutor. Agreeing with the respondent
judge, the Solicitor General also invokes Section 1, Rule 110 of the 1985 Rules on Criminal
Procedure, providing as follows:
Sec. 1. How Instituted — For offenses not subject to the rule on summary procedure in special cases,
the institution of criminal action shall be as follows:
a) For offenses falling under the jurisdiction of the Regional Trial Court, by filing the complaint with
the appropriate officer for the purpose of conducting the requisite preliminary investigation therein;
b) For offenses falling under the jurisdiction of the Municipal Trial Courts and Municipal Circuit Trial
Courts, by filing the complaint directly with the said courts, or a complaint with the fiscal's office.
However, in Metropolitan Manila and other chartered cities, the complaint may be filed only with the
office of the fiscal.
In all cases such institution interrupts the period of prescription of the offense charged. (Emphasis
supplied.)
Emphasis is laid on the last paragraph. The respondent maintains that the filing of the complaint with
the Office of the Provincial Prosecutor comes under the phrase "such institution" and that the phrase
"in all cases" applies to all cases, without distinction, including those falling under the Rule on
Summary Procedure.
The said paragraph, according to the respondent, was an adoption of the following dictum in
Francisco v. Court of Appeals: 5 ᄃ
In view of this diversity of precedents, and in order to provide guidance for Bench and Bar, this Court
has re-examined the question and, after mature consideration, has arrived at the conclusion that the
true doctrine is, and should be, the one established by the decisions holding that the filing of the
complaint in the Municipal Court, even if it be merely for purposes of preliminary examination or
investigation, should, and does, interrupt the period of prescription of the criminal responsibility, even
if the court where the complaint or information is filed can not try the case on its merits. Several
reasons buttress this conclusion: first, the text of Article 91 of the Revised Penal Code, in declaring
that the period of prescription "shall be interrupted by the filing of the complaint or information"
without distinguishing whether the complaint is filed in the court for preliminary examination or
investigation merely, or for action on the merits. Second, even if the court where the complaint or
information is filed may only proceed to investigate the case, its actuations already represent the initial
step of the proceedings against the offender. Third, it is unjust to deprive the injured party of the right
to obtain vindication on account of delays that are not under his control. All that the victim of the
offense may do on his part to initiate the prosecution is to file the requisite complaint.
It is important to note that this decision was promulgated on May 30, 1983, two months before the
promulgation of the Rule on Summary Procedure on August 1, 1983. On the other hand, Section 1 of
Rule 110 is new, having been incorporated therein with the revision of the Rules on Criminal
Procedure on January 1, 1985, except for the last paragraph, which was added on October 1, 1988.
That section meaningfully begins with the phrase, "for offenses not subject to the rule on summary
procedure in special cases," which plainly signifies that the section does not apply to offenses which
are subject to summary procedure. The phrase "in all cases" appearing in the last paragraph obviously
refers to the cases covered by the Section, that is, those offenses not governed by the Rule on
Summary Procedure. This interpretation conforms to the canon that words in a statute should be read
in relation to and not isolation from the rest of the measure, to discover the true legislative intent.
As it is clearly provided in the Rule on Summary Procedure that among the offenses it covers are
violations of municipal or city ordinances, it should follow that the charge against the petitioner,
which is for violation of a municipal ordinance of Rodriguez, is governed by that rule and not Section
1 of Rule 110.
Where paragraph (b) of the section does speak of "offenses falling under the jurisdiction of the
Municipal Trial Courts and Municipal Circuit Trial Courts," the obvious reference is to Section 32(2)
of B.P. No. 129, vesting in such courts:
(2) Exclusive original jurisdiction over all offenses punishable with imprisonment of not exceeding
four years and two months, or a fine of not more than four thousand pesos, or both such fine and
imprisonment, regardless of other imposable accessory or other penalties, including the civil liability
arising from such offenses or predicated thereon, irrespective of kind, nature, value, or amount
thereof; Provided, however, That in offenses involving damage to property through criminal
negligence they shall have exclusive original jurisdiction where the imposable fine does not exceed
twenty thousand pesos.
These offenses are not covered by the Rule on Summary Procedure.
Under Section 9 of the Rule on Summary Procedure, "the complaint or information shall be filed
directly in court without need of a prior preliminary examination or preliminary investigation." 6 ᄃ
Both parties agree that this provision does not prevent the prosecutor from conducting a preliminary
investigation if he wants to. However, the case shall be deemed commenced only when it is filed in
court, whether or not the prosecution decides to conduct a preliminary investigation. This means that
the running of the prescriptive period shall be halted on the date the case is actually filed in court and
not on any date before that.
This interpretation is in consonance with the afore-quoted Act No. 3326 which says that the period of
prescription shall be suspended "when proceedings are instituted against the guilty party." The
proceedings referred to in Section 2 thereof are "judicial proceedings," contrary to the submission of
the Solicitor General that they include administrative proceedings. His contention is that we must not
distinguish as the law does not distinguish. As a matter of fact, it does.
At any rate, the Court feels that if there be a conflict between the Rule on Summary Procedure and
Section 1 of Rule 110 of the Rules on Criminal Procedure, the former should prevail as the special
law. And if there be a conflict between Act. No. 3326 and Rule 110 of the Rules on Criminal
Procedure, the latter must again yield because this Court, in the exercise of its rule-making power, is
not allowed to "diminish, increase or modify substantive rights" under Article VIII, Section 5(5) of the
Constitution. Prescription in criminal cases is a substantive right. 7 ᄃ
Going back to the Francisco case, we find it not irrelevant to observe that the decision would have
been conformable to Section 1, Rule 110, as the offense involved was grave oral defamation
punishable under the Revised Penal Code with arresto mayor in its maximum period to prision
correccional in its minimum period. By contrast, the prosecution in the instant case is for violation of
a municipal ordinance, for which the penalty cannot exceed six months, 8 and is thus covered by
the Rule on Summary Procedure.
The Court realizes that under the above interpretation, a crime may prescribe even if the
complaint is filed seasonably with the prosecutor's office if, intentionally or not, he delays
the institution of the necessary judicial proceedings until it is too late. However, that
possibility should not justify a misreading of the applicable rules beyond their obvious
intent as reasonably deduced from their plain language. The remedy is not a distortion of
the meaning of the rules but a rewording thereof to prevent the problem here sought to be
corrected.
Our conclusion is that the prescriptive period for the crime imputed to the petitioner
commenced from its alleged commission on May 11, 1990, and ended two months
thereafter, on July 11, 1990, in accordance with Section 1 of Act No. 3326. It was not
interrupted by the filing of the complaint with the Office of the Provincial Prosecutor on
May 30, 1990, as this was not a judicial proceeding. The judicial proceeding that could
have interrupted the period was the filing of the information with the Municipal Trial
Court of Rodriguez, but this was done only on October 2, 1990, after the crime had
already prescribed.
WHEREFORE, the petition is GRANTED, and the challenged Order dated October 2,
1991 is SET ASIDE. Criminal Case No. 90-089 in the Municipal Trial Court of
Rodriguez, Rizal, is hereby DISMISSED on the ground of prescription. It is so ordered.

G.R. No. 138596 October 12, 2000


SR. FIDELIS ARAMBULO, petitioner,
vs.
HON. HILARION LAQUI, SR. HELEN OJARIO and SR. BERNADINE JUAREZ,
respondents.
DECISION
GONZAGA-REYES, J.:
Before us is a Petition for Review on Certiorari of the Decision1 ᄃ of the Court of Appeals2 ᄃ in CA-
G.R. SP No. 47089 promulgated on March 01, 1999 and the subsequent Resolution 3 ᄃ dated May 11,
1999 denying petitioner’s Motion for Reconsideration.
The facts of the case, as summarized by the appellate court, are as follows:
"On February 2, 1994, private respondents filed a joint complaint-affidavit for libel against petitioners
before the Office of the City Prosecutor of Quezon City alleging that the latter circulated on December
21, 1993 a letter containing malicious imputations against them.
An information for libel then was filed before the Metropolitan Trial Court of Quezon City on May 18,
1994.
After the prosecution presented its evidence, petitioner filed a Demurrer to Evidence. Without
resolving the incident, the Metropolitan Trial Court in its Order dated November 9, 1996 ruled that it
had no jurisdiction over the case as the same falls under the original and exclusive jurisdiction of the
Regional Trial Court, and ordered that the case be forwarded to the RTC for further proceedings.
On November 29, 1996, the case was forwarded to branch 215 Regional Trial Court of Quezon City
docketed as Criminal Case No. 96-6870.
On January 3, 1997, petitioner filed a Motion to Dismiss on the ground of lack of jurisdiction and
prescription of the offense of Libel. The RTC dismissed the case in an Order dated April 2, 1997 but,
stating that the offense had not yet prescribed, ordered the City Prosecutor of Quezon City to re-file
the Information for Libel with the RTC.
On April 27, 1997, the Information for Libel was re-filed with respondent court docketed as Criminal
Case No. Q-97-70948.
On June 17, 1997, petitioner filed a Motion to quash on the ground of prescription. The motion was
denied in the assailed Resolution dated October 3, 1997.
Petitioner’s Motion for Reconsideration was also denied in the other Assailed Order dated December
4, 1997."4 ᄃ
Not satisfied with the Resolution and Order of the trial court, herein petitioner appealed to the Court of
Appeals raising the issue of "whether or not public respondent committed grave abuse of discretion or
grossly erred in holding that the offense of libel in the instant case has not yet prescribed." 5 ᄃ The
Court of Appeals, in its decision dated March 01, 1999, upheld the contention of the trial court that the
offense of libel had not yet prescribed and consequently, dismissed the said petition. The appellate
court likewise denied herein petitioner’s Motion for Reconsideration in its Resolution dated May 11,
1999.6 ᄃ
Petitioner is now before this Court seeking a reversal of the decision of the Court of Appeals and
contending that -
I.
THE COURT OF APPEALS ERRED IN RULING THAT THE CRIME OF LIBEL HAS NOT YET
PRESCRIBED.
II.
THE COURT OF APPEALS ERRED IN RULING THAT PETITIONER HAS NOT BEEN DENIED
HER CONSTITUTIONAL RIGHT TO A SPEEDY TRIAL.7 ᄃ
Under Article 90 of the Revised Penal Code, as amended, the crime of libel prescribes in one (1) year,
to wit:
"ART. 90. Prescription of crime.- Crimes punishable by death, reclusion perpetua or reclusion
temporal shall prescribe in twenty years.
Crimes punishable by other afflictive penalties shall prescribe in fifteen years.
Those punishable by a correctional penalty shall prescribe in 10 years; with the exception of those
punishable by arresto mayor, which shall prescribe in five years.
The crime of libel or other similar offenses shall prescribe in one year." (underscoring supplied)
The said prescriptive period is computed under Article 91 of the Revised Penal Code, as follows:
"Art. 91. Computation of prescription of offenses. - The period of prescription shall commence to run
from the day on which the crime is discovered by the offended party, the authorities, or their agents,
and shall be interrupted by the filing of the complaint or information, and shall proceed to run again
when such proceedings terminate without the accused being convicted or acquitted, or are
unjustifiably stopped for any reason not imputable to him.
The term of prescription shall not run when the offender is absent from the Philippine Archipelago."
In the case at bench, the offense of libel allegedly occurred on December 21, 1993 when petitioner
circulated a letter containing allegedly malicious imputations against private respondents Srs. Helen
Ojario and Bernadine Juarez. At this point, the period of prescription for the alleged crime had already
started to run.
The one-year period of prescription for the crime was interrupted on February 2, 1994 when
respondents filed a joint complaint-affidavit8 ᄃ for libel against petitioner before the Office of the city
Prosecutor in Quezon city. At this point, the prescription period had already run for forty-two (42)
days.
A preliminary investigation by the Office of the City prosecutor was thus conducted. On April 27,
1994, Asst. City Prosecutor Ma. Aurora Escasa-Ramos issued a Resolution stating that probable cause
exists against petitioner and recommended the filing of an information for libel against her.
Consequently, an information9 ᄃ for libel was filed against petitioner on May 18, 1994 before the
Metropolitan Trial Court of Quezon City, Branch 3210 ᄃ
Despite the fact that the Metropolitan Trial Court had no jurisdiction over the crime of libel, the said
court proceeded to conduct trial on the merits. After the prosecution had rested, petitioner filed a
Demurrer to Evidence dated September 18, 1996. However, instead of acting on the said demurrer, the
Metropolitan Trial court, on November 08, 1996, issued an Order 11 ᄃ ruling that it had no jurisdiction
over the crime of libel as the same falls under the exclusive jurisdiction of the Regional Trial Court.
Instead of dismissing the case outright, the MTC ordered the forwarding of the records of the case to
the Regional Trial Court for further proceedings. The case was eventually raffled off to Branch 215 of
the Regional Trial Court of Quezon City12 ᄃ
On the basis of a Motion to Dismiss 13 ᄃ filed by petitioner, Branch 215 of the Regional Trial Court
dismissed the case on April 2, 1997 on the ground of lack of jurisdiction as the information against
petitioner should have been re-filed anew. The court ruled, however, that the crime had not yet
prescribed and ordered the re-filling of the case 14 ᄃ . On April 27, 1997, the Office of the City
Prosecutor re-filed the case with the Regional Trial Court and eventually the same was raffled to
Branch 218 of the said court 15 ᄃ . Petitioner tried to have this case dismissed on the ground of
prescription but her motion to quash 16 ᄃ the information was denied by Branch 218 of the Quezon
City Regional Trial Court in a Resolution17 ᄃ dated October 3, 1997. The denial by the Regional Trial
Court of petitioner’s motion to quash was subsequently upheld by the Court of Appeals.
It is the contention of petitioner that the prescription period for the crime of libel charged against her
commenced to run again when the Assistant City prosecutor recommended the filing of the
information for libel. Petitioner further argues that the prescriptive period could have been interrupted
again had the information been filed with the Regional Trial Court, the court with the proper
jurisdiction to try the case for libel. Considering however that the case was filed before the
Metropolitan Trial Court, which under the law does not have jurisdiction over the crime of libel, the
period of prescription continued to run its course. Consequently, petitioner concludes that when the
information for libel was finally filed with the Regional Trial Court, the crime had already prescribed
and the State can no longer pursue the case against her.
In support of her arguments, petitioner questions the reliance made by the Regional Trial Court and the
Court of Appeals in the landmark case of People vs. Olarte18 ᄃ Petitioner submits that the adherence
to the Olarte case must be examined considering that in the said case, the principal issue was whether
or not the filing of a complaint in the Municipal Trial Court for purposes of preliminary investigation,
interrupts the period of prescription of a crime. Petitioner argues that the cited case is inapplicable as it
is not disputed in the case at bench that the period of prescription was interrupted during the process of
preliminary investigation.
We are not persuaded.
In the landmark case of People vs. Olarte, this Court speaking through Justice J.B.L. Reyes, finally
resolved the then conflicting views as to whether or not the filing of a complaint with the Municipal
Trial Court for purposes of preliminary investigation suspends the running of the prescriptive period
for the crime. The Court restated the correct and prevailing doctrine, as follows:
"In view of this diversity of precedents, and in order to provide guidance for the Bench and Bar, this
Court has reexamined the question and, after mature consideration, has arrived at the conclusion that
the true doctrine is, and should be, the one established by the decisions holding that the filing of the
complaint with the Municipal Court, even if it be merely for purposes of preliminary examination or
investigation, should, and does, interrupt the period of prescription of the criminal responsibility, even
if the court where the complaint or information is filed can not try the case on the merits. Several
reasons buttress this conclusion: first, the text of Article 91 of the Revised Penal code, in declaring
that the period of prescription ‘shall be interrupted by the filing of the complaint or information’
without distinguishing whether the complaint is filed in the court for preliminary examination or
investigation merely, or for action on the merits. Second , even if the court where the complaint or
information is filed may only proceed to investigate the case, its actuations already represent the initial
step of the proceedings against the offender. Third, it is unjust to deprive the injured party the right to
obtain vindication on account of delays that are not under his control. All that the victim of the offense
may do on his part to initiate the prosecution is to file the requisite complaint.
And it is no argument that Article 91 also expresses that the interrupted prescription ‘shall commence
to run again when such proceedings terminate without the accused being convicted or acquitted’,
thereby indicating that the court in which the complaint or information is filed must have the power to
convict or acquit the accused. Precisely, the trial on the merits usually terminates in conviction or
acquittal, not otherwise. But it is in the court conducting a preliminary investigation where the
proceedings may terminate without conviction or acquittal, if the court should discharge the accused
because no prima facie case had been shown."
Subsequently, this Court, in Francisco vs. Court of Appeals 19 ᄃ ,broadened the scope of Olarte by
holding that the filing of the complaint with the fiscal’s office also suspends the running of the
prescriptive period.
Petitioner insists that the ruling in Olartewith respect to the interruption of the prescriptive period is
not applicable. In the case at bench, the fact that the period of prescription was interrupted by the
filing of private respondents’ joint affidavit with the Quezon City Prosecutor’s Office is not disputed.
The Olartecase, however, makes several other pronouncements that are determinative of the issues
raised by petitioner.
It is clear from the Olarte case that the filing of the complaint or information for purposes of
preliminary investigation represents the initial step of the proceedings against the offender. This is one
of the reasons why such filing is deemed as having interrupted the period of prescription for the
prosecution of a crime. This period of prescription commences to run again when the proceedings
terminate without conviction or acquittal, "if the court (or prosecutor) should discharge the accused
because no prima facie case has been shown."20 ᄃ
It is thus evident that petitioner’s first premise that the period of prescription commenced to run again
when the Quezon City prosecutor’s Office recommended the filing of a criminal complaint against her
is incorrect. When the City Prosecutor recommended the filing of libel charges against petitioner, the
proceedings against her were not terminated, precisely because a prima facie case for libel was found
against her. Instead of terminating the proceedings against petitioner, the resolution of the city
prosecutor actually directed the continuation of the proceedings against the petitioner by the filing of
the appropriate information against her and by the holding of trial on the merits. As such, when the
information for libel was filed with the Metropolitan Trial Court, the period of prescription for the
crime was still suspended.
Another important teaching in Olarte is that "it is unjust to deprive the injured party of the right to
obtain vindication on account of delays that are not under his control." This is because in criminal
prosecutions, the only thing that the victim of the offense may do on his part to initiate the prosecution
is to file the requisite complaint.1âwphi1
In the case at bench, private respondents were not remiss in their right to seek grievance against
respondent as they filed their complaint before the city prosecutor forty-two days after the alleged
crime of libel occurred. It was the Office of the City Prosecutor that committed an error when it filed
the complaint with the Metropolitan Trial Court.
The error was probably due to the confusion as to the proper venue for the crime of libel brought
about by the passage of R.A. 769121 ᄃ which took effect on April 15, 1994. Under Section 2 of the
said Republic Act, the jurisdiction of Metropolitan Trial Courts, Municipal Trial Courts and Municipal
Circuit Trial Courts was expanded to include all offenses punishable with imprisonment not exceeding
six (6) years. However, libel, which is punishable by imprisonment ranging from six months and one
day to four years22 ᄃ is not covered as the said law excludes from its coverage cases within the
exclusive jurisdiction of the Regional Trial Courts 23 ᄃ . Under Article 360 of the Revised Penal Code,
the information for libel should be filed with the Court of First Instance, now the Regional Trial Court.
The confusion was cleared up when this Court issued Administrative Order No. 104-96 dated October
21, 1996 which categorically stated that "LIBEL CASES SHALL BE TRIED BY THE REGIONAL
TRIAL COURTS HAVING JURISDICTION OVER THEM TO THE EXCLUSION OF THE
METROPOLITAN TRIAL COURTS, MUNICIPAL TRIAL COURTS IN CITIES, MUNICIPAL
TRIAL COURTS AND MUNICIPAL CIRCUIT TRIAL COURTS."24 ᄃ
Evidently, branch 215 of the Metropolitan Trial Court of Quezon City was not spared the confusion
brought about by R.A. 7691, as its dismissal of the case then pending before it was made only on
November 8, 1996 or more than two years after it had taken cognizance of the case. Notably, the
dismissal by the Metropolitan Trial Court took place a mere eighteen (18) days after the issuance of
S.C. Administrative Order No. 104-96.
The mistake of the Office of the City Prosecutor in filing the complaint and of the Metropolitan Trial
Court in taking cognizance of the case was thus understandable. The error was immediately rectified
by the said court upon realizing its mistake when it ruled it was the Regional Trial Court which had
the proper jurisdiction over the case. This mistake should not operate to prejudice the interest of the
state to prosecute criminal offenses and, more importantly, the right of the offended party to obtain
grievance.
Moreover, the doctrine in People vs. Olarte, as applied in later cases, was not meant to apply solely to
cases where the filing of the complaint with the municipal trial court or the prosecutor’s office
operates to interrupt the prescription period for the prosecution of a crime.
In People vs. Galano25 ᄃ ,an information was filed with the Batangas Regional Trial Court even
though the evidence of both the prosecution and defense shows that the crime was committed in
Manila. This Court, applying People vs. Olarte, held that it was only when the trial court dismissed the
case due to lack of jurisdiction that "the proceedings therein terminated without conviction and
acquittal and it was only then that the prescriptive period (which was interrupted during the during the
pendency of the case in the Batangas Court) commenced to run again."
In People vs. Enrile26 ᄃ ,informations were filed against civilians before military tribunals which had
no jurisdiction over the persons of these civilians. These civilians questioned the re-filing of the cases
against them before the civil courts raising, among others, that the crimes for which they are being
charged have already prescribed. This Court, applying by analogy the ruling in the Olarte case, threw
out the defense of prescription and held that "the filing of the first indictments suspended the running
of the prescriptive period, and the prosecutions under the informations to be filed should be regarded
as mere continuations of the previous proceedings." At the very least, the Court ruled, "the filing of the
first charges should be considered as having interrupted the prescriptive period notwithstanding the
lack of jurisdiction of the military tribunal in which they were filed."
More recently, in the case of Reodica vs. Court of Appeals27 ᄃ , an information for reckless
imprudence resulting in damage to property with slight physical injuries was filed with the Regional
Trial Court even though the offense was within the exclusive jurisdiction of the municipal trial court.
The Court, even as it dismissed the cases pending before the Regional Trial Court for lack of
jurisdiction, disregarded the defense of prescription raised by the accused. The Court, citing Olarte
and the subsequent cases of Francisco vs. Court of Appeals28 ᄃ and People vs. Cuaresma29 ᄃ ,ruled
that "the prescriptive period for the quasi offenses in question was interrupted by the filing of the
complaint with the fiscal’s office three days after the vehicular mishap and remained tolled pending
the termination of the case."
From these cases, it is clear that the Apellate Court committed no reversible error in ruling that the
offense of libel charged against petitioner had not yet prescribed. The period of prescription for the
crime was interrupted when the complaint was lodged with the Office of the City Prosecutor and
remained tolled pending the termination of the case against petitioner. Branch 218 of the Regional
Trial Court of Quezon City, therefore, correctly assumed jurisdiction over the case of petitioner as the
offense of libel for which she was being charged has not yet prescribed.
Petitioner’s other argument that she has been denied her right to a speedy trial deserves scant
consideration. Well-established is the doctrine that the right to a speedy trial is violated only where
there is an unreasonable, vexatious and oppressive delay without participation or fault of the accused,
or when unjustified postponements are sought which prolong the trial for an unreasonable length of
time30 ᄃ . In the case at bench, besides the filing of the petitions before the Court of Appeals and this
Court, petitioner had likewise filed a Motion to Quash and a Motion for Reconsideration with the
Regional Trial Court of Quezon City, Branch 218. As such, it is clear that petitioner is not without
fault in the delay in the prosecution of the case against her.
Wherefore, the petition is hereby DENIED, and the decision of the Court of Appeals dated May 1,
1999 is hereby AFFIRMED.
SO ORDERED.

G.R. Nos. 116259-60 February 20, 1996


SALVADOR P. SOCRATES, petitioner,
vs.
SANDIGANBAYAN, THIRD DIVISION, and PEOPLE OF THE PHILIPPINES, respondents.
x-x-x-x-x-x-x-x-x-x-x-x-x-x-x-x-x-x-x-x-x-x-x-x-x-x-x-x-x-x-x-x-x-x-x-x
G.R. Nos. 118896-97 February 20, 1996
SALVADOR P. SOCRATES, petitioner,
vs.
SANDIGANBAYAN and PEOPLE OF THE PHILIPPINES, respondents.
DECISION
REGALADO, J.:
Before us are two consolidated original actions for certiorari and prohibition filed by petitioner
Salvador P. Socrates assailing the orders and resolution issued by respondent Sandiganbayan in
Criminal Cases Nos. 18027 and 18028, both entitled "People of the Philippines vs. Salvador P.
Socrates." In G.R. Nos. 116259-60, petitioner assails the legality of (a) the order dated February 9,
1994 denying petitioner's Amended and Consolidated Motion to Quash the Informations; 1 ᄃ (b) the
order dated May 24, 1994 denying the Motion for Reconsideration and/or Reinvestigation; 2 ᄃ and (c)
the order dated July 20, 1994 denying the Motion for Partial Reconsideration of the Order of May 24,
1994. 3 ᄃ On the other hand, in G.R. Nos. 118896-97, petitioner seeks the annulment of the
Resolution dated December 23, 1994 4 ᄃ ordering the preventive suspension of petitioner as
Provincial Governor of Palawan for a period of ninety (90) days, and to enjoin respondent court from
enforcing the same.
The antecedent facts, as may be culled from the Comment filed by the Solicitor General in G.R. Nos.
116259-60, are as follows:
Petitioner who is the incumbent governor of Palawan, was first elected governor of the said province
in 1968 and was again reelected in both the 1971 and 1980 elections, until he was replaced by private
complainant Victoriano Rodriguez as Officer-In-Charge Governor after the EDSA Revolution in
February 1986. Subsequently, both petitioner and Rodriguez ran for governor in the 1988 elections
where the latter emerged victorious. In the 1992 synchronized national and local elections, the two
again contested the gubernatorial post; and this time, it was petitioner who won.
Meanwhile, at the time Rodriguez was still the OIC Governor of the province, the Provincial
Government of Palawan, as represented by Rodriguez and the Provincial Board Members of Palawan,
filed before the Office of the Tanodbayan two (2) complaints both dated December 5, 1986 and
docketed as TBP No. 86-01119. The first complaint charged petitioner with violation of Section 3(b)
of Republic Act No. 3019, otherwise known as the Anti-Graft and Corrupt Practices Act, and the
second charged petitioner, together with several other provincial officers, with violation of Section
3(a) and (g) of the same law (Annexes "A" & "A-1", respectively, Petition).
Instead of filing a counter-affidavit as directed, petitioner filed a Motion to Suspend Preliminary
Investigation dated September 3, 1987 on the ground that upon the ratification of the 1987
Constitution, the present Tanodbayan has been transformed into the Office of the Special Prosecutor
and has, therefore, lost his power to conduct preliminary investigation (Annex "C", ibid.).
In a letter to the Honorable Tanodbayan dated June 23, 1988, however, Nelia Yap-Fernandez, the
Deputized Tanodbayan Prosecutor from the Office of the City Prosecutor of Puerto Princesa City,
requested that she be allowed to inhibit herself from handling the preliminary investigation of the
present case considering that petitioner appears to be her co-principal sponsor in a wedding ceremony
held last May 28, 1988 (Annex "C-3", ibid.).
On January 16, 1989, the Office of the Ombudsman received a letter from Rodriguez, who was then
the incumbent governor of the province, inquiring about the present status of TBP No. 86-01119
(Annex "D", ibid.). In its 4th Indorsement dated February 7, 1989, the Ombudsman referred the matter
of continuing and terminating the investigation of the present case to the newly deputized Tanodbayan
Prosecutor, Sesinio Belen from the Office of the Provincial Prosecutor (Annex "D-1", ibid.). However,
the latter, in his 5th Indorsement dated February 27, 1989 to the Ombudsman, requested that the
present case be reassigned to another Prosecutor considering that he is a long time close friend and
"compadre" of petitioner and that one of the complainants therein Eustaquio Gacott, Jr., who was
formerly a member of the Sangguniang Panlalawigan, is now the Provincial Prosecutor of Palawan,
his present superior (Annex "D-2", ibid.).
On April 25, 1989, petitioner was directed by the Ombudsman to comment on the letter-manifestation
dated April 4, 1989 filed by Rodriguez requesting that an amendment be effected on certain portions
of the present complaint (Annexes "E" & "E-2", ibid.). No comment having been received by the
Ombudsman as of May 24, 1989, petitioner, on an even date, was again directed to comment thereon
(Annex "E-1", ibid.). Finally, petitioner filed his required comment dated June 2, 1989 (Annex "E-3",
ibid.).
Based on the Resolution dated August 27, 1992 of Special Prosecution Officer I Wendell Barreras-
Sulit (Annex "F-2", ibid.), which affirmed the Resolution dated February 21, 1992 rendered by
Ombudsman Investigator Ernesto Nocos recommending the filing of appropriate charges against
petitioner, the Office of the Special Prosecutor filed on September 16, 1992 with the respondent Court
two (2) Informations against petitioner, docketed as Criminal Cases Nos. 18027 and 18028. The first
was for violation of Section 3(h) of Republic Act No. 3019, and the second for violation of Section
3(e) of the same law (Annexes "F" & "F-1", ibid.).
Before his arraignment could be set, petitioner initially filed an "Urgent Motion for Quashal of
Information and/or Reinvestigation in the Light of Supervening Facts." However, when the said
motion was subsequently called for hearing, petitioner's counsel was made to choose which of the
aforesaid two (2) conflicting motions he preferred to take up with respondent Court. Thus, on January
18, 1993, petitioner filed an "Amended and Consolidated Motion to Quash the Information in the
Above-entitled Cases." After an Opposition and a Reply were filed by the prosecution and petitioner,
respectively, respondent court issued its first assailed Resolution on February 9, 1994, denying the
same (Annex "G", ibid.).
On March 15, 1994, petitioner filed a Motion for Reconsideration and/or Reinvestigation, which was
subsequently denied by respondent court in its second assailed Resolution issued on May 24, 1992
(Annex "H-1", ibid.). 5 ᄃ
Petitioner then filed a petition for certiorariand prohibition, docketed as G.R. Nos. 116259-60,
challenging the aforementioned orders of the Sandiganbayan for allegedly having been issued with
grave abuse of discretion amounting to lack or excess of jurisdiction. It was likewise prayed that
respondent court be enjoined from taking cognizance of and from proceeding with the arraignment of
petitioner and the trial and hearing of Criminal Cases Nos. 18027-28 pending before it. Respondents
thereafter filed their Comment to which a Reply was submitted by petitioner.
In the meantime, no temporary restraining order having been issued by this Court in G.R. Nos.
116259-60, respondent court proceeded with the arraignment of herein petitioner on October 5, 1994
wherein a plea of not guilty was entered for him by the court after he refused to do so. Thereafter, with
the denial of petitioner's motion to quash the informations, the prosecution filed on October 11, 1994
before respondent court a Motion to Suspend Accused Pendente Lite6 ᄃ pursuant to Section 13 of
Republic Act No. 3019. Petitioner opposed said motion on the ground that the validity of the
informations filed against him is still pending review before the Supreme Court. He further contended
therein that Section 13 of Republic Act No. 3019, on which the motion to suspend is based, is
unconstitutional in that it constitutes an undue delegation of executive power and is arbitrary and
discriminatory.
In view of the filing of the motion for his suspension, petitioner filed on October 14, 1994 in G.R.
Nos. 116259-60 a Supplemental Petition 7 ᄃ questioning the veracity of and seeking to restrain
respondent court from acting on said motion to suspend pendente lite, the hearing of which was
scheduled on October 17, 1994. However, before respondents could file their comment thereto as
required by this Court, petitioner, who initially sought the holding in abeyance of further action on his
supplemental petition until after respondent court shall have resolved the motion to suspend pendente
lite, eventually decided to withdraw the same purportedly in order not to delay the disposition of the
main petition. Hence, on January 16, 1995, this Court issued a resolution 8 ᄃ granting the motion to
withdraw the supplemental petition and considering the petition in G.R. Nos. 116259-60 as submitted
for resolution.
In the interim, petitioner filed before respondent court on November 28, 1994 an amended motion to
include as co-principals: (a) in Criminal Case No. 18028, the members of the Sangguniang
Panlalawigan who authorized the purchase and repair of the vessel in question; and (b) in Criminal
Case No. 18027, the Board of Directors of ERA Technology and Resources Corporation which entered
into a contract with the Province of Palawan. 9 ᄃ Petitioner argued that the non-inclusion of these co-
principals violates his right to due process and equal protection of the laws which thus rendered the
informations null and void. It appears that the prosecution did not oppose nor object to this amended
motion.
On December 23, 1994, respondent court, without ruling on petitioner's motion to include co-
principals, issued its questioned resolution granting the motion to suspend pendente liteand ordering
the suspension of petitioner as Provincial Governor of Palawan for a period of ninety (90) days from
notice.
His motion for the reconsideration thereof having been denied, another petition for certiorariand
prohibition with prayer for a restraining order was filed by petitioner on February 20, 1995 against the
same respondents, docketed as G.R. Nos. 118896-97, and which seeks to annul as well as to enjoin
respondent court from enforcing its resolution dated December 23, 1994 ordering his suspension
pendente lite. On March 8, 1995, the Court resolved to consolidate this second petition with G.R. Nos.
116259-60.
From the mosaic of the foregoing events and the incidents interjected therein, the following pattern of
contentious issues has emerged:
In G.R. Nos. 116259-60, the validity of the informations filed in Criminal Cases Nos. 18027-28 is
being contested on three grounds, viz.: (1) the respondent court did not acquire jurisdiction over the
case on the ground that an inordinate delay of six (6) years between the conduct of the preliminary
investigation and the subsequent filing of the informations against petitioner constitutes a violation of
his constitutional rights to a speedy disposition of the case and due process of law pursuant to the
Tataddoctrine; (2) the facts charged do not constitute an offense; and (3) since the acts charged in the
complaints filed before the Tanodbayan are different from the charges contained in the informations,
another preliminary investigation should have been conducted, in the absence of which there is a
denial of due process.
In G.R. Nos. 118896-97, petitioner questions the validity of the suspension order in that: (1) he may
not be suspended while the issue on the validity of the informations filed against him is still pending
review before the Supreme Court; and (2) Section 13 of Republic Act No. 3019, which forms the basis
of the order of suspension, is unconstitutional on the ground that it constitutes an undue delegation of
the authority to suspend which is essentially an executive power. Petitioner contends that the
jurisprudential doctrines relied upon by respondent court in upholding the constitutionality of Section
13 are not applicable to the cases at bar which involve an issue not yet passed upon by this Court. In
addition, petitioner again attacks the legality of the subject informations for having been filed in
violation of the due process and equal protection clauses by reason of the non-inclusion therein, as co-
principals, of the members of the Sangguniang Panlalawigan who approved the purchase of the vessel,
as well as the board of directors of ERA Technology and Resource Corporation which entered into a
contract with the Province of Palawan.
I. G.R. Nos. 116259-60
1. In asserting that there was a violation of his right to a speedy trial by reason of the unreasonable
delay of six (6) years between the conduct of the preliminary investigation and the filing of the
informations, petitioner invokes the doctrine laid down in the leading case of Tatad vs.
Sandiganbayan, et al. 10 ᄃ In said case, all the affidavits and counter-affidavits had already been filed
with the Tanodbayan for final disposition as of October 25, 1982 but it was only on June 12, 1985, or
three (3) years thereafter, that the informations accusing Tatadof a violation of Republic Act No. 3019
were filed before the Sandiganbayan. The Court held there that an inordinate delay of three (3) years
in the conduct and termination of the preliminary investigation is violative of the constitutional rights
of the accused to due process and speedy disposition of his case, by reason of which the informations
filed against the accused therein were ordered dismissed. It must be emphasized, however, that in the
Tatadcase, no explanation or ratiocination was advanced by the prosecution therein as to the cause of
the delay.
In the present case, as distinguished from the factual milieu obtaining in Tatad, respondent court found
that the six-year delay in the termination of the preliminary investigation was caused by petitioner's
own acts. Thus:
In the cases at bar, the record shows that delay in the filing of the Informations in these cases was
caused, not by inaction of the prosecution, but by the following actuations of the accused:
(1) Sometime after the complaint of private complainant was filed with the Office of the City Fiscal of
the City of Puerto Princesa, preliminary investigation was held in abeyance on account of the motion
of accused Salvador P. Socrates, entitled "Motion to Suspend Preliminary Investigation" Suspension
was prayed for until an Ombudsman, as provided in Executive Order No. 243, shall have been
appointed;
(2) Preliminary investigation was interrupted when private complainant, then Governor Victoriano J.
Rodriguez, filed on April 24, 1989, a letter-manifestation correcting the complaint;
(3) Only on September 22, 1989 did the accused in these cases file with the Office of the Ombudsman
a reply to complainant's manifestation;
(4) In view of the foregoing actuations of the parties, preliminary investigation of these cases was
started in earnest only on June 25, 1990. Respondents then, including the accused herein, were
required to submit counter-affidavits;
(5) Interrupting preliminary proceedings again, accused Governor Salvador P. Socrates, on August 13,
1990, filed a motion to dismiss the complaint upon the following grounds:
(a) That the Honorable Ombudsman has no jurisdiction over the person of respondent; and
(b) That the complaint does not conform substantially to the prescribed form.
The private complainant was, as a matter of right, granted a period of time within which to oppose the
motion. The prosecution necessarily had to ponder on the motion after protracted deliberations;
(6) On April 1, 1991, counsel for the accused filed an "Appearance and Motion for Extension of Time
to File Appropriate Pleading." Counsel prayed that "respondents be granted an extension of twenty
(20) days within which to comply with the order of March 11, 1991";
(7) The accused Governor Salvador P. Socrates, through counsel, filed a motion to quash/dismiss on
December 17, 1991. This pleading was received by the Office of the Deputy Ombudsman only on
January 13, 1992. It took some time for the prosecution to resolve the motion and there never was any
intimation on the part of the accused that the accused was invoking his right to a speedy disposition of
the complaint against him. The motion to quash/dismiss was in fact denied by the prosecution in an
order dated January 20, 1990;
(8) A motion for reconsideration having been filed thereafter, the Informations in these cases were
after all filed on September 16, 1992, but only after the ruling of the prosecution on the motion to
quash/dismiss. 11 ᄃ
Petitioner, in a futile attempt to refute the foregoing factual findings of respondent court, could only
raise the defense that the motion to suspend the preliminary investigation did not affect the
proceedings therein; that the preliminary investigation really started on February 18, 1987 when the
Tanodbayan issued subpoenas to the respondents; that the motion to dismiss/ quash the complaints
was purposely for the early termination of the preliminary investigation; that the filing of the
complaint was politically motivated, as may be gleaned from the affidavit of complainant Rodriguez;
and that pursuant to Section 3, Rule 112 of the Rules of Court, the case should have been resolved
within ten (10) days from the time the investigation was concluded.
Clearly, the facts of the case at bar are diametrically opposed to the factual situation in Tatadbecause
the obviously delaying tactics resorted to by herein petitioner were not present in the latter case.
Furthermore, the allegation that the filing of the complaint was politically motivated does not serve to
justify the nullification of the informations where the existence of such motive has not been
sufficiently established nor substantial evidence presented in support thereof. The situation in
Tatadwas quite to the contrary since the accused therein successfully proved that the charges were
filed against him only after it became widely known that he actually had a falling out with the late
President Marcos.
That scenario impelled the Court to make the admonition therein that "prosecutors should not allow,
and should avoid, giving the impression that their noble office is being used or prostituted, wittingly or
unwittingly, for political ends or other purposes alien to, or subversive of, the basic and fundamental
objective of serving the interest of justice evenhandedly, without fear or favor to any and all litigants
alike, whether rich or poor, weak or strong, powerless or mighty." Such an exigency apparently does
not obtain in the case at bar. There is nothing in the records from which it can be conclusively inferred,
expressly or impliedly, that the investigating prosecutors were politically motivated or even coerced
into filing these criminal charges against petitioner.
We likewise do not adhere to petitioner's asseveration that the orders issued by Branches 51 and 52 of
the Regional Trial Court of Puerto Princesa City quashing the informations for technical malversation
filed against herein petitioner, on the ground that the inordinate delay in the termination of the
preliminary investigation constitutes a violation of petitioner's right to due process and speedy
disposition of his case which thereby ousted said courts of jurisdiction thereover, have become final
and conclusive by reason of the prosecution's' failure to file an appeal therefrom. We have carefully
scrutinized the orders adverted to and we find and so hold that the same cannot effectively deter the
prosecution herein from proceeding with the trial before the Sandiganbayan.
First, the criminal cases for technical malversation filed before said Regional Trial Court are different
from the charges for violation of Republic Act No. 3019 filed with the Sandiganbayan. The former is
covered by a general law while the latter involves a special law, with variant elements of the offenses
being required, hence double jeopardy cannot set in. Second, and more importantly, it will be noted
that the trial court in the malversation case hastily concluded that there was an inordinate delay of six
(6) years in the termination of the preliminary investigation through the mere expedient of counting
the number of years that had elapsed from the institution of the complaint with the Ombudsman until
the filing of the informations in court, without bothering to inquire into the pertinent factual
considerations and procedural technicalities involved.
In arriving at such a self-serving conclusion, the trial court confined itself strictly to a mathematical
reckoning of the time involved, instead of undertaking a more substantive appreciation of the
circumstances and particulars which could have possibly caused the delay. On the contrary, herein
respondent court has convincingly shown that the preliminary investigation dragged on for several
years owing, ironically, to petitioner's evident propensity to resort to dilatory tactics. In the cases now
before us, it cannot be successfully and validly contended that petitioner's right to speedy trial has
been violated.
We have only to reiterate the declaration made in Tatadto the effect that in the application of the
constitutional guaranty of the right to speedy disposition of cases, particular regard must also be taken
of the facts and circumstances peculiar to each case. It is palpably clear that the application of the
Tataddoctrine should not be made to rely solely on the length of time that has passed but equal
concern should likewise be accorded to the factual ambiance and considerations. It can easily be
deduced from a complete reading of the adjudicatory discourse in Tatadthat the three-year delay was
specifically considered vis-a-visall the facts and circumstances which obtained therein. Perforce, even
on this ground alone, the instant petition for certiorarishould be dismissed.
A speedy trial is one conducted according to the law of criminal procedure and the rules and
regulations, free from vexatious, capricious and oppressive delays. The primordial purpose of this
constitutional right is to prevent the oppression of an accused by delaying criminal prosecution for an
indefinite period of time. 12 ᄃ In the cases at bar, while there may have been some delay, it was
petitioner himself who brought about the situation of which he now complains.
2. Petitioner then questions the sufficiency of the allegations in the informations in that the same do
not constitute an offense supposedly because (a) in Criminal Case No. 18027, there is no statement
that herein petitioner actually intervened and participated, as a board member of ERA Technology and
Resources Corporation, in the latter's contract with the Province of Palawan, which is allegedly an
element necessary to constitute a violation of Section 3(h) of Republic Act No. 3019; and (b) in
Criminal Case No. 18028, the information failed to show a causal relation between the act done by the
accused and the undue injury caused to the provincial government of Palawan.
With respect to the alleged defects in the information filed in Criminal Case No. 18027 for violation of
Section 3(h) of the anti-graft law, petitioner invokes the ruling in the case of Trieste, Sr. vs.
Sandiganbayan 13 ᄃ where it was held that "what is contemplated in Section 3(h) of the anti-graft law
is the actual intervention in the transaction in which one has financial or pecuniary interest in order
that liability may attach." In the cited case, however, the Court found that the petitioner therein did
not, in any way, intervene in making the awards and payment of the purchases in question since he
signed the voucher only after all the purchases had already been made, delivered and paid for by the
municipal treasurer.
The purchases involved therein were previously ordered by the municipal treasurer without the
knowledge and consent of the accused municipal mayor, were subsequently delivered by the supplier,
and were thereafter paid by the treasurer again without the knowledge and consent of the mayor. The
only participation of the accused mayor in the transaction involved the mechanical act of signing the
disbursement vouchers for record purposes only. Thus, the Court did not consider the act therein of the
accused mayor to be covered by the prohibition under Section 3(h) of the law.
Contrariwise, in the present cases, petitioner Socrates stands charged with a violation of Section 3(h)
for intervening in his official capacity as Governor of Palawan in reviewing and approving the
disbursement voucher dated August 2, 1982 for payment in favor of ERA Technology Resources
Corporation where he was one of the incorporators and members of the board of directors. Such
allegation clearly indicates the nature and extent of petitioner's participation in the questioned
transaction. Without petitioner's approval, payment could not possibly have been effected.
We likewise do not find any flaw in the information filed in Criminal Case No. 18028, for violation of
Section 3(e), which would warrant the dismissal thereof. Evidentiary facts need not be alleged in the
information because these are matters of defense. Informations need only state the ultimate facts; the
reasons therefor could be proved during the trial. 14 ᄃ Hence, there is no need to state facts in the
information which would prove the causal relation between the act done by the accused and the undue
injury caused to the Province of Palawan. Antipodal to petitioner's contention, a reading of the
information in Criminal Case No. 18028 will readily disclose that the essential elements of the offense
charged have been sufficiently alleged therein. It is not proper, therefore, to resolve the charges right at
the outset without the benefit of a full-blown trial. The issues require a fuller ventilation and
examination. Given all the circumstances of this case, we feel it would be unwarranted to cut off the
prosecutory process at this stage of the proceedings and to dismiss the information. 15 ᄃ
3. It is likewise asserted by petitioner that the elements of the offenses charged in the complaints are
different from those stated in the informations which were filed before the Sandiganbayan, and that
since there was no preliminary investigation conducted with respect to the latter, such informations
should be declared null and void for lack of due process.
The first complaint for violation of Section 3(b) became the basis for the filing of an information in
Criminal Case No. 18027 for a violation of Section 3(h). In both, petitioner is accused of intervening
in his official capacity as Provincial Governor in the contracts for the installation and construction of
waterwork projects, with the ERA Technology and Resources Corporation, where he was an
incorporator and a member of the board of directors, thereby directly or indirectly benefiting from said
transactions. In Criminal Case No. 18028, petitioner was charged with a violation of Section 3(e) as a
result of the complaint filed against him and several others for a violation of Section 3(a) and (g). In
both instances, petitioner is charged with the disbursement of public funds for the purchase of a motor
launch which was grossly and manifestly disadvantageous to the provincial government of Palawan
because the same broke down only after its maiden voyage.
It is thus clearly apparent that the complaints and the informations are based on substantially the same
factual settings, except that the respective designations are different. Axiomatic is the rule that what
controls is not the designation of the offense but its description in the complaint or information. 16 ᄃ
The real nature of the criminal charge is determined not from the caption or preamble of the
information nor from the specification of the provision of law alleged to have been violated, they
being conclusions of law, but by the actual recital of facts in the complaint or information. It is not the
technical name given by the fiscal appearing in the title of the information that determines the
character of the crime but the facts alleged in the body of the information. 17 ᄃ
This Court has repeatedly held that when the facts, acts and circumstances are set forth in the body of
an information with sufficient certainty to constitute an offense and to apprise the defendant of the
nature of the charge against him, a misnomer or innocuous designation of a crime in the caption or
other parts of the information will not vitiate it. In such a case, the facts set forth in the charge controls
the erroneous designation of the offense and the accused stands indicted for the offense charged in the
statement of facts. The erroneous designation may be disregarded as surplusage. 18 ᄃ
Furthermore, it will be observed that it is the same section of the law which is involved in the present
case, that is, Section 3 of Republic Act No. 3019, albeit it defines several modes of committing the
same offense. It is an old and well-settled rule in the appreciation of indictments that where an offense
may be committed in any of several different modes, and the offense, in any particular instance, is
alleged to have been committed in two or more of the modes specified, it is sufficient to prove the
offense committed through any one of them, provided that it be such as to constitute the substantive
offense. Thereafter, a judgment of conviction must be sustained if it appears from the evidence in the
record that the accused was guilty as charged of any one of these modes of the offense. 19 ᄃ
Neither will the absence of a preliminary investigation, assuming that it is necessary to conduct a new
one, affect the validity of the informations filed against petitioner. It has been consistently held that the
absence of a preliminary investigation does not impair the validity of the criminal information or
render it defective. Dismissal of the case is not the remedy. 20 ᄃ It is not a ground for the quashal of a
complaint or information. The proper course of action that should be taken is for the Sandiganbayan to
hold in abeyance the proceedings upon such information and to remand the case to the office of the
Ombudsman for him or the Special Prosecutor to conduct a preliminary investigation 21 ᄃ if the
accused actually makes out a case justifying such relief.
On the bases of the foregoing disquisitions, therefore, we rule and so hold that the informations filed
against petitioner are valid and legal.
II. G.R. Nos. 118896-97
The main issue submitted herein for resolution is the legality of the petitioner's preventive suspension,
which is premised on several grounds.
1. Initially, petitioner claims that the Sandiganbayan committed a grave abuse of discretion in ordering
his suspension despite the fact that the validity of the informations filed against him is still pending
review before the Supreme Court. In support thereof, he invokes the rule laid down in Eternal
Gardens Memorial Park Corporation vs. Court of appeals, et al. 22 ᄃ that even if no temporary
restraining order was issued by the Supreme Court, the Court of Appeals could have refrained from
taking any action while the petition for certiorari was pending with the Supreme Court. Petitioner
insists that this is what respondent court should have done. Under this particular issue, petitioner is in
effect seeking a review of the order issued by the Sandiganbayan, dated February 9, 1994, denying his
amended and consolidated motion to quash the information.
We have but to reiterate the fundamental rule that an order denying a motion to quash is interlocutory
and therefore not appealable, nor can it be the subject of a petition for certiorari. Such order may only
be reviewed in the ordinary course of law by an appeal from the judgment after trial. 23 ᄃ In other
words, it cannot be the subject of appeal until the judgment or a final order is rendered. The ordinary
procedure to be followed in that event is to enter a plea, go to trial and if the decision is adverse,
reiterate the issue on appeal from the final judgment. 24 ᄃ Although the special civil action for
certiorarimay be availed of in case there is a grave abuse of discretion or lack of jurisdiction, that
vitiating error is not attendant in the present case.
Section 13 of Republic Act No. 3019 provides that:
Sec. 13. Suspension and Loss of Benefits. Any incumbent public officer against whom any criminal
prosecution under a valid information under this Act or under Title 7, Book II of the Revised Penal
Code or for any offense involving fraud upon government or public funds or property whether as a
simple or as complex offense and in whatever stage of execution and mode of participation, is pending
in court, shall be suspended from office. Should he be convicted by final judgment, he shall lose all
retirement or gratuity benefits under any law, but if he is acquitted, he shall be entitled to reinstatement
and to the salaries and benefits which he failed to receive during suspension, unless in the meantime
administrative proceedings have been filed against him. 25 ᄃ
This Court has ruled that under Section 13 of the anti-graft law, the suspension of a public officer is
mandatory after the validity of the information has been upheld in a pre-suspension hearing conducted
for that purpose. This pre-suspension hearing is conducted to determine basically the validity of the
information, from which the court can have a basis to either suspend the accused and proceed with the
trial on the merits of the case, or correct any part of the proceeding which impairs its validity. The
hearing may be treated in the same -manner as a challenge to the validity of the information by way of
a motion to quash. 26 ᄃ
In the leading case of Luciano, et al. vs. Mariano, et al. 27 ᄃ we have set out the guidelines to be
followed by the lower courts in the exercise of the power of suspension under Section 13 of the law, to
wit:
(c) By way of broad guidelines for the lower courts in the exercise of the power of suspension from
office of public officers charged under a valid information under the provisions of Republic Act No.
3019 or under the provisions of the Revised Penal Code on bribery, pursuant to Section 13 of said Act,
it may be briefly stated that upon the filing of such information, the trial court should issue an order
with proper notice requiring the accused officer to show cause at a specific date of hearing why he
should not be ordered suspended from office pursuant to the cited mandatory provisions of the Act.
Where either the prosecution seasonably files a motion for an order of suspension or the accused in
turn files a motion to quash the information or challenges the validity thereof, such show-cause order
of the trial court would no longer be necessary. What is indispensable is that the trial court duly hear
the parties at a hearing held for determining the validity of the information, and thereafter hand down
its ruling, issuing the corresponding order or suspension should it uphold the validity of the
information or withhold such suspension in the contrary case.
(d) No specific rules need be laid down for such pre-suspension hearing. Suffice it to state that the
accused should be given a fair and adequate opportunity to challenge the validity of the criminal
proceedings against him, e.g., that he has not been afforded the right of due preliminary investigation;
that the acts for which he stands charged do not constitute a violation of the provisions of Republic
Act No. 3019 or of the bribery provisions of the Revised Penal Code which would warrant his
mandatory suspension from office under Section 13 of the Act; or he may present a motion to quash
the information on any of the grounds provided in Rule 117 of the Rules of Court. The mandatory
suspension decreed by the Act upon determination of the pendency in court of a criminal prosecution
for violation of the Anti-Graft Act or for bribery under a valid information requires at the same time
that the hearing be expeditious, and not unduly protracted such as to thwart the prompt suspension
envisioned by the Act. Hence, if the trial court, say, finds the ground alleged in the quashal motion not
to be indubitable, then it shall be called upon to issue the suspension order upon its upholding the
validity of the information and setting the same for trial on the merits.
With the aforequoted jurisprudential authority as the basis, it is evident that upon a proper
determination of the validity of the information, it becomes mandatory for the court to immediately
issue the suspension order. The rule on the matter is specific and categorical. It leaves no room for
interpretation. It is not within the court's discretion to hold in abeyance the suspension of the accused
officer on the pretext that the order denying the motion to quash is pending review before the appellate
courts. Its discretion lies only during the pre-suspension hearing where it is required to ascertain
whether or not (1) the accused had been afforded due preliminary investigation prior to the filing of
the information against him, (2) the acts for which he was charged constitute a violation of the
provisions of Republic Act No. 3019 or of the provisions of Title 7, Book II of the Revised Penal
Code, or (3) the informations against him can be quashed, under any of the grounds provided in
Section 2, Rule 117 of the Rules of Court. 28 ᄃ
Once the information is found to be sufficient in form and substance, then the court must issue the
order of suspension as a matter of course. There are no ifs and buts about it. This is because a
preventive suspension is not a penalty. It is not imposed as a result of judicial proceedings. In fact, if
acquitted, the official concerned shall be entitled to reinstatement and to the salaries and benefits
which he failed to receive during suspension. In view of this latter provision, the accused elective
public officer does not stand to be prejudiced by the immediate enforcement of the suspension order in
the event that the information is subsequently declared null and void on appeal and the case dismissed
as against him. Taking into consideration the public policy involved in preventively suspending a
public officer charged under a valid information, the protection of public interest will definitely have
to prevail over the private interest of the accused. 29 ᄃ
To further emphasize the ministerial duty of the court under Section 13 of Republic Act No. 3019, it is
said that the court trying a case has neither discretion nor duty to determine whether or not a
preventive suspension is required to prevent the accused from using his office to intimidate witnesses
or frustrate his prosecution or continue committing malfeasance in office. The presumption is that
unless the accused is suspended, he may frustrate his prosecution or commit further acts of
malfeasance or do both, in the same way that upon a finding that there is probable cause to believe that
a crime has been committed and that the accused is probably guilty thereof, the law requires the judge
to issue a warrant for the arrest of the accused. The law does not require the court to determine
whether the accused is likely to escape or evade the jurisdiction of the court. 30 ᄃ
Applying now the procedure outlined in Luciano, the records of the instant case do not show that the
proceedings leading to the filing of the informations against petitioner were tainted with any
irregularity so as to invalidate the same. Likewise, the informations show that the allegations
contained therein meet the essential elements of the offense as defined by the substantive law. The
record is also bereft of undisputed facts to warrant the quashal of the informations under any of the
grounds provided in Section 2, Rule 117 of the Rules of Court. 31 ᄃ Finally, a cursory reading of the
order dated February 9, 1994 issued by respondent court will show that petitioner was given the
opportunity to be heard on his motion to quash. Veritably, the Sandiganbayan did not commit a grave
abuse of discretion in denying the motion to quash and ordering the preventive suspension of herein
petitioner.
2. Additionally, petitioner avers that the informations filed against him on which the order of
suspension was based, are null and void in view of the non-inclusion of his co-principals which thus
constitutes a violation of petitioner's right to due process and equal protection of the law and,
therefore, ousted respondent court of its jurisdiction over the case. Petitioner alleges that in Criminal
Case No. 18027, the board of directors of ERA Technology Corporation should have been included as
principals by indispensable cooperation because without them he could not possibly have committed
the offense.
Also, he claims that in Criminal Case No. 18028, the members of the Sangguniang Panlalawigan who
issued the resolutions authorizing the purchase and repair of the motor launch should likewise have
been included as principals by inducement or indispensable cooperation, considering that petitioner
was allegedly merely implementing their resolutions. Hence, according to him, since the informations
are null and void, the suspension order which is based thereon should necessarily also be declared null
and void. We find no merit in petitioner's arguments.
First, the rule under Section 1, Rule 110 of the Rules of Court, as reformulated in Section 2, Rule 110
of the 1985 Rules on Criminal Procedure, is that all criminal actions must be commenced either by
complaint or information in the name of the People of the Philippines "against all persons who appear
to be responsible for the offense involved." The law makes it a legal duty for prosecuting officers to
file the charges against whomsoever the evidence may show to be responsible for an offense. This
does not mean, however, that they shall have no discretion at all; their discretion lies in determining
whether the evidence submitted justify a reasonable belief that a person has committed an offense.
What the rule demands is that all persons who appear responsible shall be charged in the information,
which conversely implies that those against whom no sufficient evidence of guilt exists are not
required to be included.32 ᄃ
This notwithstanding, it has equally been ruled that the failure of the fiscal to include the other public
officials who appear to be responsible for the offense charged as co-accused in the information filed
against the accused does not in any way vitiate the validity of the information under the Rules. 33 ᄃ
Second, a failure to include other persons who appear to be responsible for the crime charged is not
one of the grounds provided under Section 3, Rule 117 for which a motion to quash the information
against the accused may be filed, most especially in the case at bar where there is prima facie proof
that petitioner is probably guilty of the offense charged, aside from the fact that there is no allegation
of conspiracy in the informations. Besides, such an infirmity would neither have the effect of
extinguishing or mitigating petitioner's liability if he is subsequently found guilty of the offense
charged. No one would contend that if for lack of knowledge of the facts, by mistake or for any other
reason the prosecuting officer fails to include the names of one or more persons in an information filed
by him, who were in fact guilty participants in the commission of the crime charged therein, such
persons will be relieved of criminal liability; or that those accused who have been charged with the
offense, brought to trial, and found guilty will be permitted to escape punishment merely because it
develops in the course of the trial, or after the trial, that there were other guilty participants in the
crime.34 ᄃ
Granting arguendo that this plaint of petitioner may be invoked as a ground for the quashal of the
informations, the motion to quash must still be denied for having been filed only after petitioner had
been arraigned. Section 8, Rule 117 of the 1985 Rules on Criminal Procedure provides that "(t)he
failure of the accused to assert any ground of a motion to quash before he pleads to the complaint or
information, either because he did not file a motion to quash or failed to allege the same in said
motion, shall be deemed a waiver of the grounds of a motion to quash, except the grounds of no
offense charged, lack of jurisdiction over the offense charged, extinction of the offense or penalty and
jeopardy." The failure to include a co-accused is not covered by the exception; hence, the same is
deemed waived.
Third, where the government prosecutor unreasonably refuses to file an information or to include a
person as an accused therein despite the fact that the evidence clearly warrants such action, the
offended party has the following remedies: (1) in case of grave abuse of discretion, he may file an
action for mandamus to compel the prosecutor to file such information; (2) he may lodge a new
complaint against the offenders before the Ombudsman and have a new examination conducted as
required by law; (3) he may institute administrative charges against the erring prosecutor, or a criminal
complaint under Article 208 of the Revised Penal Code, or a civil action for damages under Article 27
of the Civil Code; (4) he may secure the appointment of another prosecutor; or (5) he may institute
another criminal action if no double jeopardy is involved.
Fourth, it is significant and demonstrative of petitioner's strategy that from the inception of the
criminal complaint before the Ombudsman and during the conduct of the preliminary investigation,
until the filing of the informations before the Sandiganbayan and up to the denial of his amended and
consolidated motion to quash, herein petitioner has not been heard to complain about the alleged non-
inclusion of the other supposed offenders. Indeed, it is now much too late for petitioner to invoke and
exploit this particular unfounded issue.
Prescinding from the averments raised in the complaint and information, from the facts and evidence
of record, we do not deem it necessary to include the members of the Sangguniang Panlalawigan of
Palawan and the board members of the ERA Technology and Resources Corporation as co-accused in
the informations filed against herein petitioner. Insofar as the board members of said corporation are
concerned, they may be prosecuted only under Section 4(b) of Republic Act No. 3019 which provides
that "(i)t shall be unlawful for any person knowingly to induce or cause any public official to commit
any of the offenses defined in Section 3 thereof." In the information filed in Criminal Case No. 18027,
petitioner stands charged with a violation of Section 3(h). It does not contain any allegation to the
effect that the board members knowingly induced or caused herein petitioner to commit the offense
defined therein, which is an essential element of the crime in Section 4(b). Indubitably, therefore, the
board members cannot be included as co-principals in Criminal Case No. 18027.
On the other hand, the members of the Sangguniang Panlalawigan cannot likewise be included in the
information for violation of Section 3(e) filed in Criminal Case No. 18028, for the simple reason that
it is not the validity of their resolution which is in issue here. While it is true that said sanggunian
passed a resolution authorizing the allocation of funds for the purchase of a motor launch, and that
petitioner merely acted on the strength thereof, it is not the fact of such authorization which is the
subject of the charges against petitioner but rather the manner by which that resolution was
implemented by the latter. There is nothing in the averments in the information from which it could be
inferentially deduced that the members of the sanggunianparticipated, directly or indirectly, in the
purchase of the vessel, and which fact could be the basis for their indictment.
3. Lastly, petitioner questions the legality of his suspension on the ground that Section 13 of Republic
Act No. 3019, which is the basis thereof, is unconstitutional for being an undue delegation of
executive power to the Sandiganbayan. He postulates that the power of suspension, which is an
incident of the power of removal, is basically administrative and executive in nature. He further
submits that the power of removal vested in the court under Section 9 of Republic Act No. 3019 is an
incident of conviction, that is, it can only be exercised after a conviction has been handed down.
Hence, according to petitioner, since the power to suspend is merely incidental to the power of
removal, the former can only be exercised as an incident to conviction. Also, considering that Section
13 authorizes the court to exercise the power of suspension even prior to conviction of the accused, it
cannot be considered as an exercise of judicial power because it is not within the ambit of the court's
power of removal. In addition, petitioner avers that Section 13 is arbitrary and discriminatory because
it serves no purpose at all, in that it does not require a proceeding to determine if there is sufficient
ground to suspend, except for the fact that it is required by law.
Although presented differently, the issue on the court's power of suspension under Section 13 has been
squarely and directly raised and adjudicated in the case of Luciano vs. Provincial Governor, et al.,35 ᄃ
the pronouncements wherein we quote in extenso:
3. Proceeding from our holding that suspension is not automatic, who should exercise the mandatory
act of suspension under Section 13 of the Anti-Graft and Corrupt Practices Act?
Three theories have been advanced. One is that the power of suspension where a criminal case has
already been filed in court still is with the Provincial Governor, relying on Section 2188 of the Revised
Administrative Code. Another is that, following the ruling in Sarcos vs. Castillo . . ., because the main
respondents are elective municipal officials, that power of suspension must be held to repose in the
Provincial Board, under Section 5 of the Decentralization Act of 1967 (Republic Act 5185). The third
is that, by Section 13 of the Anti-Graft and Corrupt Practices Act, solely the court in which the
criminal case has been filed shall wield the power of suspension.
We opt for the third. Common sense and the scheme of the law so dictate.
It is true that nothing in Section 13 of the Anti-Graft and Corrupt Practices Act grants with specificity
upon the Court of First Instance the power to suspend an official charged with a violation thereof. It
would seem to us though that suspensions by virtue of criminal proceedings are separate and distinct
from suspensions in administrative cases. An accurate reading of Section 13 yields two methods of
investigation, one separate from the other: one criminal before the courts of justice, and the other
administrative. This is the plain import of the last sentence of Section 13, which says that if acquitted,
defendant in an Anti-Graft and Corrupt Practices case "shall be entitled to reinstatement and to the
salaries and benefits which he failed to receive during suspension, unless in the meantime
administrative proceedings have been filed against him." Our interpretation but preserves, as it should,
the substantial symmetry between the first part of Section 13 and the last part thereof just quoted.
And so, there is in this legal provision a recognition that once a case is filed in court, all other acts
connected with the discharge of court functions which here include suspension should be left to the
Court of First Instance.
Not that this view finds no statutory support. By Section 9 of the Anti-Graft and Corrupt Practices Act,
the court is empowered to punish any public official committing any of the unlawful acts or omissions
enumerated in Sections 3, 4, 5 and 6 of the law, amongst others, to "perpetual disqualification from
public office." Here, the Makati elective officials heretofore named have been charged with and found
guilty of a violation of Section 3(8) of the Anti-Graft and Corrupt Practices Act and were sentenced by
the court below, amongst others, to be "perpetually disqualified to hold office." Article 30 of the
Revised Penal Code declares that the penalty of perpetual absolute disqualification entails "(t)he
deprivation of the public offices and employments which the offender may have held, even if
conferred by popular election." No stretch of the imagination is necessary to show that perpetual
absolute disqualification which, in effect, is encompassed in the punishment set forth in Section 9 of
the Anti-Graft and Corrupt Practices Act covers that. of removal from the office which each of the
respondent municipal official holds.
Since removal from office then is within the power of the court, no amount of judicial legerdemain
would deprive the court of the power to suspend. Reason for this is that suspension necessarily is
included in the greater power of removal. It is without doubt that Congress has power to authorize
courts to suspend public officers pending court proceedings for removal and that the congressional
grant is not violative of the separation of powers. For, our Constitution being silent, we are not to say
that from Congress is withheld the power to decide the mode or procedure of suspension and removal
of public officers.
A look into the legislative intent, along with the legislative scheme, convinces us the more that the
power of suspension should be lodged with the court. While the law may not be a model of precise
verbal structure, the intent is there. Section 13 requires as a pre-condition of the power to suspend that
there be a valid information. Validity of information, of course, is determined by the Court of First
Instance where the criminal case is pending. That is essentially a judicial function. Suspension is a
sequel to that finding, an incident to the criminal proceedings before the court. Indeed, who can
suspend except one who knows the facts upon which suspension is based? We draw support from
Lacson vs. Roque, supra, at page 469: "We are certain that no authority or good reason can be found in
support of a proposition that the Chief Executive can suspend an officer facing criminal charges for
the sole purpose of aiding the court in the administration of justice. Independent of the other branches
of the Government, the courts can well take care of their own administration of the law.
The Anti-Graft and Corrupt Practices Act, an important legislation, should not be artificially construed
so as to exclude the courts from the power to suspend a prime tool designed by Congress to prevent
the power which an official wields from frustrating the purity and certainty of the administration of
justice. Surely, we should not be pedantically exacting in reading its provisions. We should rather say
that if the court's power of suspension incident to the court proceedings is to be withheld of narrowed
by construction, Congress should have spelled it out in no uncertain terms. . . .
The Court then hastened to clarify that such a view may not be taken as an encroachment upon the
power of suspension given other officials, reiterating in the process that a line should be drawn
between administrative proceedings and criminal actions in court, that one is apart from the other.
Elucidating further on the possible danger which may arise if the power of suspension, in consequence
of a criminal action under Republic Act No. 3019 is vested in any authority other than the court, it
declared that:
There is reasonable ground to believe that Congress did really apprehend danger should the power of
suspension in consequence of a criminal case under the Anti-Graft and Corrupt Practices Act be
lodged in any authority other than the court. Quite apart from the fact that the court has a better grasp
of the situation, there is one other factor, and that is, the rights of the person accused. The court could
very well serve as a lever to balance in one equation the public interests involved and the interests of
the defendant. And then, there is the danger that partisan politics may creep in. The hand of political
oppression cannot just be ignored especially if the majority members of the Provincial Board and the
defendant public local elective officer are on opposite sides of the political fence. Power may be
abused. Conversely, if both are of the same political persuasion, the suspending authority will display
reluctance in exercising the power of suspension. It is thus that the statute should catch up with the
realities of political life. There is indeed the dispiriting lesson that in a clash between political
considerations and conscience it is the latter that quite often gets dented. . . .
xxx xxx xxx
Therefore, since suspension is incident to removal and should proceed from one who should logically
do so, and considering that in the operation of a given statute fairness must have been in the mind of
the legislators, we brush aside needless refinements, and rule that under Section 13 of the Anti-Graft
and Corrupt Practices Act, once a valid information upon the provisions thereof is lodged with the
Court of First Instance, that court has the inescapable duty to suspend the public official indicted
thereunder.
These cases have long been on the line, unduly stretched beyond their logical parameters and the
permissible time frame. Indeed, it is high time, ironically in fairness to petitioner himself, that the
same be now calcined in the judicial crucible into their ultimate configuration.
WHEREFORE, premises considered, the petitions in G.R. Nos. 116259-60 and 118896-97 are hereby
DISMISSED for lack of merit, with costs against petitioner.
SO ORDERED.

[A.M. NO. RTJ-04-1879 - January 17, 2005]


SPO4 EDUARDO ALONZO, Complainant, v. JUDGE CRISANTO C. CONCEPCION, Presiding
Judge, Regional Trial Court of Malolos City, Branch 12, Province of Bulacan, Respondent.
RESOLUTION
PUNO, J.:
The zeal to uphold justice, albeit an admirable and desirable trait, must never be allowed to blind
judges to the limits of judicial power or to obscure the boundaries set by the law.
The facts are as follows:
On May 10, 2003, in the municipality of Paombong, Bulacan, a wedding party was being celebrated
behind the house of the newly-married couple. At the party and drinking together at the same table
were SPO4 Eduardo Alonzo (SPO4 Alonzo), Jun Rances (Rances), Zoilo Salamat (Salamat) and Rey
Santos (Santos). While waiting to be seated, Pedrito Alonzo (Pedrito) was introduced by SPO4 Alonzo
to Rances as his nephew and as the son of ex-Captain Alonzo. SPO4 Alonzo then introduced him to
Salamat. Pedrito and his companions took their seats and started drinking at the table across SPO4
Alonzo's table. After some time, Pedrito stood up to urinate at the back of the house. Santos passed a
bag to Salamat, and they followed Pedrito. Rances likewise followed them. A shot rang out. Salamat
was seen placing a gun inside the bag as he hurriedly left. The wedding guests ran after Salamat. They
saw him and Rances board a vehicle being driven by Santos. Pedrito's uncle, Jose Alonzo, sought the
help of SPO4 Alonzo to chase the culprits. He refused and even disavowed any knowledge as to their
identity.
Jose Alonzo filed a complaint for murder against Salamat, Rances, Santos, SPO4 Alonzo and a certain
Isidro Atienza. A preliminary investigation 1 ᄃ was conducted by the Assistant Provincial Prosecutor
where Jose Alonzo and his four witnesses testified. Upon review of the records of the case by the 3rd
Assistant Provincial Prosecutor, it was recommended that Salamat be charged with murder as
principal, and Santos and Rances as accessories. With regard to SPO4 Alonzo and Isidro Atienza, the
prosecutor found that no sufficient evidence was adduced to establish their conspiracy with Salamat.2
Thereafter, under the direction of the Officer-in-Charge,3 ᄃ an Information4 ᄃ was prepared, charging
Salamat as principal, and Rances and Santos as accessories, for the murder of Pedrito. No bail was
recommended. The case was docketed as Criminal Case No. 4767-M-2003 with Branch 12 of the
Regional Trial Court of Malolos City, Bulacan, under presiding judge Crisanto C. Concepcion. On
December 17, 2003, Judge Concepcion issued an Order,5 ᄃ where he stated:
The assassination of the victim has all the color of a planned liquidation. Zoilo Salamat, not known in
that place, appears to be a hired killer with Rey Santos as the supplier of the death gun. SPO4 Alonzo
appears to be the brain or mastermind, pointing Pedrito to the assassin as the target of the planned
killing. Jun Rances appears to be the back-up of Salamat in executing and gunslaying. A conspiracy
clearly appears among them with the common design to kill the victim. Their respective actions were
concerted to attest to that.ςηαñrοblεš νιr†υαl lαω lιbrαrÿ
Jun Rances and Rey Santos are not merely accessories-after-the[-] fact, but as principals themselves
who should be charged as such along with gunman Zoilo Salamat and mastermind SPO4 Eduardo
Alonzo. This is very apparent from the facts on record as borned [sic] out by the statements of
witnesses given to the police.
WHEREFORE, in the interest of justice that should be given the victim in this case and prosecute all
the persons against whom probable cause exists as principals in this case of murder, the Office of the
Provincial Prosecutor of Bulacan is hereby directed to amend the information, so as to include all the
aforenamed persons as accused in this case, all as principals, within five (5) days from notice hereof. 6

On January 5, 2004, SPO4 Alonzo filed his Motion for Reconsideration 7 ᄃ to the Order, on the ground
that the court had no authority to review and reverse the resolution of the Office of the Provincial
Prosecutor or to find probable cause against a respondent for the purpose of amending the
Information. SPO4 Alonzo averred that the prosecutor's resolution can only be reviewed by the
Department of Justice, by the Court of Appeals or by the Supreme Court, when a case for certiorari is
filed.ςηαñrοblεš νιr†υαl lαω lιbrαrÿ
On January 12, 2004, SPO4 Alonzo filed an Urgent Motion for Inhibitation [sic], 8 ᄃ alleging that by
issuing the aforementioned Order, Judge Concepcion has shown his prejudice against him and bias in
favor of private complainant Jose Alonzo. He prayed that the case be re-raffled to another judge.
On January 13, 2004, Judge Concepcion issued an Order 9 ᄃ denying the Motion for Reconsideration
and the Motion for Inhibition. Judge Concepcion stated that SPO4 Alonzo had no personality to file
the said motions as he was not an accused in that case. Respondent held that only the Office of the
Provincial Prosecutor could question the first Order.
On January 16, 2004, SPO4 Alonzo filed a verified affidavit-complaint 10 ᄃ against Judge Concepcion
for rendering the December 17, 2003 Order. Complainant averred that respondent "x x x clearly acted
without any authority of law as the same clearly violated Section 2, Article III of the 1987 constitution
[sic]and Section 6, Rule 112 of the Revised Rules of Criminal Procedure which only authorizes him to
determine if probable cause exist [sic] against those accused impleaded in the information before
issuing a warrant of arrest against them." He accused respondent judge of: a) gross ignorance of the
law; b) violation of Section 2, Article 3 of the 1987 Constitution; 11 ᄃ c) abuse of authority under
Section 6, Rule 112 of the Rules of Court; 12 ᄃ d) knowingly rendering an unjust order; e) conduct
unbecoming of a judge; and f) oppression and partiality.13 ᄃ
On February 26, 2004, respondent received the First Indorsement 14 ᄃ from the Office of the Court
Administrator (OCA), requiring him to file his comment to the complaint within ten days from receipt
thereof. On March 4, 2004, respondent filed his Comment. 15 ᄃ Respondent attached copies of the
sworn statements of the prosecution witnesses.16 ᄃ He claimed that while evaluating the records of
the case, his curiosity was piqued as to why no bail was recommended for the three accused. He
noticed that the five witnesses 17 ᄃ who testified during the preliminary investigation had consistent
accounts of the incidents leading to the death of Pedrito. From these accounts, respondent concluded
that SPO4 Alonzo and all the accused conspired to kill Pedrito, thus the Office of the Provincial
Prosecutor erred when it merely charged Salamat as principal, and Rances and Santos as accessories,
while complainant was exonerated. Respondent averred that "[c]ourts speak thru order issuances
[sic]."18 ᄃ Hence, on December 17, 2003, he issued the Order, directing the Office of the Provincial
Prosecutor to amend the Information to include complainant, Rances and Santos as principal
participants in the murder of Pedrito. Respondent stressed that he bade the prosecution to amend the
Information "xxx without any sanction even hinted, should it fail to do so." 19 ᄃ After respondent
issued the Order, the prosecution stood pat on its position that there was no compelling reason to
disturb its original resolution or to amend the Information. ςηαñrοblεš νιr†υαl lαÏ
‰ lιbrαrÿ
The OCA recommended that the complaint be dismissed on the ground that the Order and the acts
complained of were done by respondent in his judicial capacity and were not actuated by bad faith,
dishonesty or similar motive. In addition, the proper remedy of the aggrieved party is to file a special
civil action for certiorari under Rule 65 of the Rules of Court, and not an administrative complaint.
The Court cannot follow the recommendation of the OCA. Respondent clearly erred when he rendered
the assailed Order. The rules set the proper procedure 20 ᄃ for the investigation of complaints and
designate the prosecutor to conduct the preliminary investigation. 21 ᄃ The function of a preliminary
investigation is to determine whether there is sufficient ground to engender a well-founded belief that
a crime has been committed and the respondent is probably guilty thereof, and should be held for
trial.22 ᄃ It is through the conduct of a preliminary investigation that the prosecutor determines the
existence of a prima facie case that would warrant the prosecution of a case. As a rule, courts cannot
interfere with the prosecutor's discretion and control of the criminal prosecution. 23 ᄃ The reason for
placing the criminal prosecution under the direction and control of the fiscal is to prevent malicious or
unfounded prosecution by private persons. 24 ᄃ However, while prosecuting officers have the
authority to prosecute persons shown to be guilty of a crime, 25 ᄃ they have equally the legal duty not
to prosecute when after an investigation, the evidence adduced is not sufficient to establish a prima
facie case.26 ᄃ Judges should not unduly interfere with the exercise of the power to prosecute on the
part of fiscals.
It is not a sufficient excuse for respondent to aver that he did not impose any sanction for non-
compliance with his Order. In itself, his Order does violence to the principle of separation of powers
enshrined in our Constitution. In a clash of views between the judge who did not investigate and the
prosecutor who did, or between the fiscal and the offended party or the accused, that of the
prosecutor's should normally prevail.27 ᄃ Thus, we held in People v. Pineda,28 ᄃ viz.:
x x x A prosecuting attorney, by the nature of his office, is under no compulsion to file a particular
criminal information where he is not convinced that he has evidence to prop up the averments thereof,
or that the evidence at hand points to a different conclusion. This is not to discount the possibility of
the commission of abuses on the part of the prosecutor. But we must have to recognize that a
prosecuting attorney should not be unduly compelled to work against his conviction. In case of doubt,
we should give him the benefit thereof.ςηαñrοblεš νιr†υαl lαω lιbrαrÿ
A contrary rule may result in our courts being unnecessarily swamped with unmeritorious cases.
Worse still, a criminal suspect's right to due process - the sporting idea of fair play - may be
transgressed. x x x
The impact of respondent Judge's orders is that his judgment is to be substituted for that of the
prosecutor's on the matter of what crime is to be filed in court. The question of instituting a criminal
charge is one addressed to the sound discretion of the investigating Fiscal. The information he lodges
in court must have to be supported by facts brought about by an inquiry made by him. It stands to
reason then to say that in a clash of views between the judge who did not investigate and the fiscal
who did, or between the fiscal and the offended party or the defendant, those of the Fiscal's should
normally prevail. In this regard, he cannot ordinarily be subject to dictation. We are not to be
understood as saying that criminal prosecution may not be blocked in exceptional cases. A relief in
equity "may be availed of to stop a purported enforcement of a criminal law where it is necessary (a)
for the orderly administration of justice; (b) to prevent the use of the strong arm of the law in an
oppressive and vindictive manner; (c) to avoid multiplicity of actions; (d) to afford adequate
protection to constitutional rights; and (e) in proper cases, because the statute relied upon is
unconstitutional or was "held invalid. '"
We understand respondent's zeal in trying to uphold the ends of justice. ςηαñrοblεš νιrâ€
υαl lαω lιbrαrÿ
However, respondent overlooked the fact that there is a remedy where a prosecutor errs in not
charging a person in an Information. The recourse is to appeal to the Secretary of Justice. 29 ᄃ By
ordering the prosecutor to include complainant, Rances and Santos as principals in the Information,
respondent arrogated unto himself the executive power of supervision and control over public
prosecutors. His conduct is not only unbecoming of a judge; more importantly, it transgresses our
Constitution.
Yet, this is not all. Respondent judge also erred when he issued warrants of arrest for Rances and
Santos without bail. As the Information has not yet been amended charging these two accused as
principals to the crime of murder, they are still entitled, as mere accessories, to bail under Rule 114,
Section 4 of the Revised Rules of Criminal Procedure. 30 ᄃ The Court notes with approval that
respondent corrected this error by allowing Rances and Santos, with the recommendation of the
prosecution, to post bail.
For lack of evidence, respondent is exonerated of the other charges brought against him.
IN VIEW WHEREOF, respondent Judge Crisanto C. Concepcion is found liable for conduct
unbecoming of a judge and is REPRIMANDED. He is sternly warned that a repetition of the same or
similar acts in the future shall be dealt with more severely. Let a copy of this resolution be entered
upon his record.
SO ORDERED.

G.R. No. L-33628 December 29, 1987


BIENVENIDO A. EBARLE, SANTIAGO EISMA, MIRUFO CELERIAN, JOSE
SAYSON, CESAR TABILIRAN, and MAXIMO ADLAWAN,petitioners,
vs.
HON. JUDGE MELQUIADES B. SUCALDITO, RUFINO LABANG, MENELEO
MESINA, ARTURO GUILLERMO, IN THEIR RESPECTIVE CAPACITIES AS
JUDGE OF THE COURT OF FIRST INSTANCE OF ZAMBOANGA DEL SUR, CITY
FISCAL OF PAGADIAN CITY AND STATE PROSECUTOR, and ANTI-GRAFT
LEAGUE OF THE PHILIPPINES, INC.,respondents.
No. L-34162 December 29, 1987
BIENVENIDO A. EBARLE,petitioner,
vs.
HON. JUDGE ASAALI S. ISNANI, RUFINO LABANG, ALBERTO S. LIM, JR., JESUS
ACEBES, IN THEIR RESPECTIVE CAPACITIES AS JUDGE OF THE COURT OF FIRST
INSTANCE OF ZAMBOANGA DEL SUR, CITY FISCAL OF PAGADIAN CITY AND STATE
PROSECUTORS, ANTI-GRAFT LEAGUE OF THE PHILIPPINES, INC., and ARTEMIO
ROMANILLOS,respondents.

SARMIENTO, J.:
The petitioner, then provincial Governor of Zamboanga del Sur and a candidate for reelection in the
local elections of 1971, seeks injunctive relief in two separate petitions, to enjoin further proceedings
in Criminal Cases Nos. CCC XVI-4-ZDS, CCC XVI-6-ZDS, and CCC XVI-8-ZDS of the then Circuit
Criminal Court sitting in Pagadian City, as well as I.S. Nos. 1-70, 2-71, 4-71, 5-71, 6-71, and 7-71 of
the respondent Fiscal's office of the said city, all in the nature of prosecutions for violation of certain
provisions of the Anti-Graft and Corrupt Practices Act (Republic Act No. 3019) and various provisions
of the Revised Penal Code, commenced by the respondent Anti-Graft League of the Philippines, Inc.
On June 16, 1971 and October 8, 1971, respectively, we issued temporary restraining orders directing
the respondents (in both petitions) to desist from further proceedings in the cases in question until
further orders from the Court. At the same time, we gave due course to the petitions and accordingly,
required the respondents to answer.
The petitions raise pure question of law. The facts are hence, undisputed.
On September 26, 1970, the private respondent Anti-Graft League of the Philippines, Inc., filed a
complaint with the respondent City Fiscal, docketed as Criminal Case No. 1-70 thereof, for violation
of the provisions of the Anti-Graft Law as well as Article 171 of the Revised Penal Code, as follows:
xxx xxx xxx
SPECIFICATION NO. I —
That on or about October 10, 1969, above-named respondents, conspiring and confabulating together,
allegedly conducted a bidding for the supply of gravel and sand for the Province of Zamboanga del
Sur: that it was made to appear that Tabiliran Trucking Company won the bidding; that, thereafter, the
award and contract pursuant to the said simulated bidding were effected and executed in favor of
Tabiliran Trucking Company; that, in truth and in fact, the said bidding was really simulated and the
papers on the same were falsified to favor Tabiliran Trucking Company, represented by the private
secretary of respondent Bienvenido Ebarle, formerly confidential secretary of the latter; that said
awardee was given wholly unwarranted advantage and preference by means of manifest partiality; that
respondent officials are hereby also charged with interest for personal gain for approving said award
which was manifestly irregular and grossly unlawful because the same was facilitated and committed
by means of falsification of official documents.
SPECIFICATION NO. II
That after the aforecited award and contract, Tabiliran Trucking Company, represented by respondent
Cesar Tabiliran, attempted to collect advances under his trucking contract in the under his trucking
contract in the amount of P4,823.95 under PTA No. 3654; that the same was not passed in audit by the
Provincial Auditor in view of the then subsisting contract with Tecson Trucking Company; which was
to expire on November 2, 1969; that nevertheless the said amount was paid and it was made to appear
that it was collected by Tecson Trucking Company, although there was nothing due from tile latter and
the voucher was never indorsed or signed by the operator of Tecson Trucking; and that in facilitating
and consummating the aforecited collection, respondent officials, hereinabove cited, conspired and
connived to the great prejudice and damage of the Provincial Government of Zamboanga del Sur. 1
xxx xxx xxx

On the same date, the private respondent commenced Criminal Case No. 2-71 of the
respondent City Fiscal, another proceeding for violation of Republic Act No. 3019 as well
as Article 171 of the Revised Penal Code. The complaint reads as follows:
xxx xxx xxx
That on or about April 8, 1970, a bidding was held for the construction of the right wing portion of the
Capitol Building of the Province of Zamboanga del Sur, by the Bidding Committee composed of
respondents cited hereinabove; that the said building was maliciously manipulated so as to give
wholly unwarranted advantage and preference in favor of the, supposed winning bidder, Codeniera
Construction, allegedly owned and managed by Wenceslao Codeniera, brother-in-law of the wife of
respondent Bienvenido Ebarle; that respondent official is interested for personal gain because he is
responsible for the approval of the manifestly irregular and unlawful award and contract aforecited;
and that, furthermore, respondent, being a Member of the Bidding Committee, also violated Article
171 of the Revised Penal Code, by making it appear in the very abstract of bids that another interested
bidder, was not interested in the bidding, when in truth and in fact, it was not so. 2 ᄃ
xxx xxx xxx
On January 26, 1971, the private respondent instituted I.S. No. 4-71 of the respondent Fiscal, a
prosecution for violation of Articles 182, 183, and 318 of the Revised Penal Code, as follows:
xxx xxx xxx
That on or about April 4, 1967, in Pagadian City, said respondent testified falsely under oath in
Cadastral Case No. N-17, LRC CAD REC. NO. N-468, for registration of title to Lot No. 2545 in
particular;
That respondent BIENVENIDO EBARLE testified falsely under oath during the hearing and reception
of evidence that he acquired said lot by purchase from a certain Brigido Sanchez and that he is the
owner, when in truth and in fact Lot 2545 had been previously acquired and is owned by the
provincial Government of Zamboanga del Sur, where the provincial jail building is now located.
2. That aforesaid deceit, false testimony and untruthful statement of respondent in said Cadastral case
were made knowingly to the great damage and prejudice of the Provincial Government of Zamboanga
del Sur in violation of aforecited provisions of the Revised Penal Code. 3 ᄃ
On February 10, 1971, finally, the private respondent filed a complaint, docketed as I.S. No. 5-71 of
the respondent Fiscal, an action for violation of Republic Act No. 3019 and Articles 171 and 213 of
the Revised Penal Code, as follows:
xxx xxx xxx
We hereby respectfully charge the above-named respondents for violation of Sec. 3, R.A. No. 3019,
otherwise known as the Anti-Graft and Corrupt Practices Act, Articles 171 and 213, Revised Penal
Code and the rules and regulations of public bidding, committed as follows:
1. That on June 16, 1970, without publication, respondents conducted the so-called "bidding" for the
supply of gravel and sand for the province of Zamboanga del Sur; that said respondents, without any
valid or legal ground, did not include or even open the bid of one Jesus Teoson that was seasonably
submitted, despite the fact that he is a registered duly qualified operator of "Teoson Trucking Service,"
and notwithstanding his compliance with all the rules and requirements on public bidding; that,
instead, aforecited respondents illegally and irregularly awarded said contract to Cesar Tabiliran, an
associate of respondent Governor Bienvenido Ebarle; and
2. That in truth and in fact, aforesaid "bidding" was really simulated and papers were falsified or
otherwise "doctored" to favor respondent Cesar Tabiliran thereby giving him wholly unwarranted
advantage, preference and benefits by means of manifest partiality; and that there is a statutory
presumption of interest for personal gain because the transaction and award were manifestly irregular
and contrary to applicable law, rules and regulations.4 ᄃ
xxx xxx xxx
The petitioner initially moved to dismiss the aforesaid preliminary investigations, but the same having
been denied, he went to the respondent Court of First Instance of Zamboanga del Sur, the Honorable
Melquiades Sucaldito presiding, on prohibition and mandamus (Special Case No. 1000) praying at the
same time, for a writ of preliminary injunction to enjoin further proceedings therein. The court granted
preliminary injunctive relief (restraining order) for which the Anti-Graft League filed a motion to have
the restraining order lifted and to have the petition itself dismissed.
On May 14, 1971, the respondent, Judge Sucaldito, handed down the first of the two challenged
orders, granting Anti-Graft League's motion and dismissing Special Case No. 1000.
On June 11, 1971, the petitioner came to this Court on certiorari with prayer for a temporary
restraining order (G.R. No. 33628). As we said, we issued a temporary restraining order on June 16,
1971.
Meanwhile, and in what would begin yet another series of criminal prosecutions, the private
respondent, on April 26, 1971, filed three complaints, subsequently docketed as Criminal Cases Nos.
CCC XVI-4-ZDS, CCC XVI-6-ZDS, and CCC XVI-8-ZDS of the Circuit Criminal Court of Pagadian
City for violation of various provisions of the Anti-Graft Law as well as Article 171(4) of the Revised
Penal Code, as follows:
xxx xxx xxx
That on or about December 18, 1969, in Pagadian City, and within the jurisdiction of this Honorable
Court, BIENVENIDO A. EBARLE, Provincial Governor of Zamboanga del Sur, did then and there
unlawfully and feloniously extended and gave ELIZABETH EBARLE MONTESCLAROS, daughter
of his brother, his relative by consanguinity within the third degree, and appointment as Private
Secretary in the Office of the Provincial Governor of Zamboanga del Sur, although he well know that
the latter is related with him within the third degree by consanguinity.
CONTRARY TO LAW. 5 ᄃ
xxx xxx xxx
xxx xxx xxx
That on or about December 18, 1969, in Pagadian City, and within the jurisdiction of this Honorable
Court, BIENVENIDO A. EBARLE, then and there unlawfully and feloniously made untruthful
statements in a narration of facts by accomplishing and issuing a certificate, to wit: ,
c. That the provisions of law and rules on promotion, seniority and nepotism have been observed.
required by law in such cases, in support of the appointment he extended to ELIZABETH EBARLE-
MONTESCLAROS as Private Secretary in the Office of the Provincial Governor of Zamboanga del
Sur, although he well know that the latter is related with him within the third degree of consanguinity.
CONTRARY TO LAW.6 ᄃ
xxx xxx xxx
xxx xxx xxx
That on or about December 18, 1969, in Pagadian City, and within the jurisdiction of this Honorable
Court, BIENVENIDO A. EBARLE, then and there unlawfully and feloniously made untruthful
statements in a narration of facts by accomplishing and issuing a certificate, to wit:
c. That the provisions of law and rules on promotion, seniority and nepotism have been observed.
required by law in such cases, in support of the appointment he extended to TERESITO
MONTESCLAROS, husband of his niece Elizabeth Ebarle, as Motor Pool Dispatcher, Office of the
Provincial Engineer of Zamboanga del Sur, although he well knew that the latter is related with him
within the third degree affinity.
CONTRARY TO LAW. 7 ᄃ
xxx xxx xxx
Subsequently, on August 23, 1971, the private respondent brought I.S. No. 6-71 of the respondent
Pagadian City Fiscal against the petitioner, still another proceeding for violation of Republic Act No.
3019 and Article 171 (4) of the Revised Penal Code, thus:
xxx xxx xxx
First Count.
That on or about December 1, 1969, in Pagadian City, BIENVENIDO A. EBARLE, Provincial
Governor of Zamboanga del Sur, did then and there unlawfully and feloniously extended and gave
MARIO EBARLE, son of his brother, his relative by consanguinity within the third degree, an
appointment as SECURITY GUARD in the Office of the Provincial Engineer of Zamboanga del Sur
although he well knew that the latter is related with him in the third degree by consanguinity and is not
qualified under the Civil Service Law.
Second Count.
That in January, 1970, at Pagadian City, Gov. BIENVENIDO A. EBARLE replaced JOHNNY
ABABONwho was then the incumbent Motor Pool Dispatcher in the Office of the Provincial Engineer
of Zamboanga del Sur with his nephew-in-law TERESITO MONTESCLAROS relative by affinity
within the third Civil degree, in violation of the Civil Service Law, this knowingly causing undue
injury in the discharge of his administrative function through manifest partiality against said
complaining employee.
Third Count:
That on or about December 18, 1969, in Pagadian City, BIENVENIDO A. EBARLE, Provincial
Governor of Zamboanga del Sur, did then and there unlawfully and feloniously extended and gave
ELIZABETH EBARLE MONTESCLAROS, daughter of his brother, his relative by consanguinity
within the third degree, an appointment as Private Secretary in the Office of the Provincial Governor
of Zamboanga del Sur, although he well know that the latter is related with him within the third degree
of consanguinity, and said appointment is in violation of the Civil Service Law.
Fourth Count.
That on or about January 22, 1970, in Pagadian City, BIENVENIDO A. EBARLE, Provincial
Governor of Zamboanga del Sur, did then and there unlawfully and feloniously extended and gave
ZACARIAS UGSOD, JR., son of the younger sister of Governor Ebarle, his relative by consanguinity
within the third degree, an appointment as Architectural Draftsman in the Office of the Provincial
Engineer of Zamboanga del Sur although he well know that the latter is related with him in the third
degree of consanguinity.
Fifth Count.
That on February 5, 1970, at Pagadian City, BIENVENIDO A. EBARLE, Provincial Governor of
Zamboanga del Sur, did then and there unlawfully and feloniously extended and gave TERESITO
MONTESCLAROS, husband of his niece ELIZABETH EBARLE, his relative by affinity within the
third degree, an appointment as Motor Pool Dispatcher, Office of the Provincial Engineer of
Zamboanga del Sur, although he wen knew then that the latter was not qualified to such appointment
as it was in violation of the Civil Service Law, thereby knowingly granting and giving unwarranted
advantage and preference in the discharge of his administrative function through manifest partiality.
II. SPECIFICATION FOR VIOLATION OF SECTION 4 (b), R.A. 3019
That on August 19, 1967, respondent BIENVENIDO A. EBARLE, Governor of Zamboanga del Sur,
taking advantage of his position caused, persuaded, induced, or influence the Presiding Judge to
perform irregular and felonious act in violation of applicable law or constituting an offense into
awarding and decreeing Lot 2645 of the Pagadian Public Lands subdivision to him who, according to
the records of the case, failed to establish his rights of ownership pursuant to the provisions of the
Land Registration law and the Public Land Act, it appearing that the Provincial Government of
Zamboanga del Sur as and is a claimant and in adverse possession of Lot 2545 whereon the Provincial
Jail Building thereon still stands.
III. SPECIFICATION FOR VIOLATION OF ARTICLE 171 (4), REVISED PENAL CODE
First Count.
That on or about December 18, 1969, in Pagadian City, BIENVENIDO A. EBARLE, then and there
unlawfully and feloniously made untruthful statement in a narration of facts by accomplishing and
issuing a certificate, to wit:
c. That the provisions of law and rules on promotion, seniority and nepotism have been observed.
required by law in such cases, in support of the appointment he extended to TERESITO
MONTESCLAROS, husband of his niece ELIZABETH EBARLE, as Motor Pool Dispatcher, Office
of the Provincial Engineer of Zamboanga del Sur, although he wen knew that the latter is related with
him within the third degree of affinity and is in violation of the Civil Service Law.
Second Count.
That on or about December 18, 1969, in Pagadian City, BIENVENIDO A. EBARLE, then and there
unlawfully and feloniously made untruthful statements a certificate, to wit:
c. That the provisions of the law and rules on promotion, seniority and nepotism have been observed.
required by law in such cases, in support of the appointment he extended to ELIZABETH EBARLE-
MONTESCLAROS as Private Secretary in the Office of the Provincial Governor of Zamboanga del
Sur, although he well knew that the latter is related with him within the third degree of consanguinity,
and is in violation of the Civil Service Law. CONTRARY to aforecited laws. 8 ᄃ
xxx xxx xxx
On September 21, 1971, the private respondent instituted I.S. No. 7-71 of the said City Fiscal, again
charging the petitioner with further violations of Republic Act No. 3019 thus:
xxx xxx xxx
First Count.
That on or about December 2, 1969, in Pagadian City, BIENVENIDO EBARLE, Provincial Governor
of Zamboanga del Sur, did then and there unlawfully and feloniously extend and give unwarranted
benefits and privileges BONINDA EBARLE, wife of his brother Bertuldo Ebarle, the former being his
relative by affinity within the second civil degree, an appointment as LABORATORY TECHNICIAN
in Pagadian City, although he well knew that the latter is related to him in the second degree by
affinity and is not qualified under the Civil Service Law.
Second Count.
That on or about January 1, 1970, at Pagadian City, BIENVENIDO EBARLE, Provincial Governor of
Zamboanga del Sur, did then and there unlawfully and feloniously extend and give unwarranted
benefits and privileges JESUS EBARLE, nephew of said respondent, an appointment as DRIVER of
the Provincial Engineer's Office, Pagadian City, although he well knew that Jesus Ebarle is related to
him within the third civil degree by consanguinity and is not qualified under the Civil Service Law.
Third Count.
That on or about November 1, 1969, at Pagadian City, BIENVENIDO EBARLE, Provincial Governor
of Zamboanga del Sur, did then and there unlawfully and feloniously extend and give unwarranted
benefits and privileges PHENINA CODINERA, sister-in-law of said respondent, an appointment as
CONFIDENTIAL ASSISTANT in the Office of the Provincial Governor, Pagadian City, although he
well knew that Phenina Codinera is related to him in the second civil degree of consanguinity and is
not qualified under the Civil Service Law.
ALL CONTRARY TO AFORECITED LAW.
Please give due course to the above complaint and please set the case for immediate preliminary
investigation pursuant to the First Indorsement dated August 27, 1971 of the Secretary of Justice, and
in the paramount interest of good government. 9 ᄃ
xxx xxx xxx
The petitioner thereafter went to the respondent Court of First Instance of Zamboanga del Sur, the
Honorable Asaali Isnani presiding, on a special civil action (Special Civil Case No. 1048) for
prohibition and certiorari with preliminary injunction. The respondent Court issued a restraining
order. The respondent Anti-Graft League moved to have the same lifted and the case itself dismissed.
On September 27, 1971, Judge Isnani issued an order, dismissing the case.
On October 6, 1971, the petitioner instituted G.R. No. 34162 of this Court, a special civil action for
certiorariwith preliminary injunction. As earlier noted, we on October 8, 1971, stayed the
implementation of dismissal order.
Subsequently, we consolidated both petitions and considered the same submitted for decision.
Principally, the petitioner relies (in both petitions) on the failure of the respondents City Fiscal and the
Anti-Graft League to comply with the provisions of Executive Order No. 264, "OUTLINING THE
PROCEDUE BY WHICH COMPLAINANTS CHARGING GOVERNMENT OFFICIALS AND
EMPLOYEES WITH COMMISSION OF IRREGULARITIES SHOULD BE GUIDED," 10
preliminary to their criminal recourses. At the same time, he assails the standing of the
respondent Anti-Graft League to commence the series of prosecutions below (G.R. No.
33628). He likewise contends that the respondent Fiscal (in G.R. No. 34162), in giving
due course to the complaints notwithstanding the restraining order we had issued (in G.R.
No. 33628), which he claims applies as well thereto, committed a grave abuse of
discretion.
He likewise submits that the prosecutions in question are politically motivated, initiated
by his rivals, he being, as we said, a candidate for reelection as Governor of Zamboanga
del Sur.
We dismiss these petitions.
The petitioner's reliance upon the provisions of Executive Order No. 264 has no merit. We reproduce
the Order in toto:
MALACAÑANG
RESIDENCE OF THE PRESIDENT
OF THE PHILIPPINES
MANILA
BY THE PRESIDENT OF THE PHILIPPINES
EXECUTIVE ORDER NO. 264
OUTLINING THE PROCEDURE BY WHICH COMPLAINANTS CHARGING GOVERNMENT
OFFICIALS AND EMPLOYEES WITH COMMISSION OF IRREGULARITIES SHOULD BE
GUIDED.
WHEREAS, it is necessary that the general public be duly informed or reminded of the procedure
provided by law and regulations by which complaints against public officials and employees should be
presented and prosecuted.
WHEREAS, actions on complaints are at times delayed because of the failure to observe the form.91
requisites therefor, to indicate with sufficient clearness and particularity the charges or offenses being
aired or denounced, and to file the complaint with the proper office or authority;
WHEREAS, without in any way curtailing the constitutional guarantee of freedom of expression, the
Administration believes that many complaints or grievances could be resolved at the lower levels of
government if only the provisions of law and regulations on the matter are duly observed by the
parties concerned; and
WHEREAS, while all sorts of officials misconduct should be eliminated and punished, it is equally
compelling that public officials and employees be given opportunity afforded them by the constitution
and law to defend themselves in accordance with the procedure prescribed by law and regulations;
NOW, THEREFORE, I, FERDINAND E. MARCOS, President of the Philippines, by virtue of the
powers vested in me by law, do hereby order:
1. Complaints against public officials and employees shall be in writing, subscribed and sworn to by
the complainants, describing in sufficient detail and particularity the acts or conduct complained of,
instead of generalizations.
2. Complaints against presidential appointees shag be filed with the Office of the President or the
Department Head having direct supervision or control over the official involved.
3. Those against subordinate officials and employees shall be lodged with the proper department or
agency head.
4. Those against elective local officials shall be filed with the Office of the President in case of
provincial and city officials, with the provincial governor or board secretary in case of municipal
officials, and with the municipal or city mayor or secretary in case of barrio officials.
5. Those against members of police forces shall be filed with the corresponding local board of
investigators headed by the city or municipal treasurer, except in the case of those appointed by the
President which should be filed with the Office of the President.
6. Complaints against public officials and employees shall be promptly acted upon and disposed of by
the officials or authorities concerned in accordance with pertinent laws and regulations so that the
erring officials or employees can be soonest removed or otherwise disciplined and the innocent,
exonerated or vindicated in like manner, and to the end also that other remedies, including court
action, may be pursued forthwith by the interested parties after administrative remedies shall have
been exhausted.
Done in the City of Manila, this 6th day of October, in the year of Our Lord, nineteen hundred and
seventy.
(Sgd.) FERDINAND E. MARCOS
President of the Philippines
By the President:
(Sgd.) ALEJANDRO MELCHOR
Executive Secretary 11
It is plain from the very wording of the Order that it has exclusive application to
administrative, not criminal complaints. The Order itself shows why.
The very title speaks of "COMMISSION OF IRREGULARITIES." There is no mention,
not even by implication, of criminal "offenses," that is to say, "crimes." While "crimes"
amount to "irregularities," the Executive Order could have very well referred to the more
specific term had it intended to make itself applicable thereto.
The first perambulatory clause states the necessity for informing the public "of the procedure provided
by law and regulations by which complaints against public officials and employees should be
presented and prosecuted. 12 To our mind, the "procedure provided by law and regulations"
referred to pertains to existing procedural rules with respect to the presentation of
administrative charges against erring government officials. And in fact, the aforequoted
paragraphs are but restatements thereof. That presidential appointees are subject to the
disciplinary jurisdiction of the President, for instance, is a reecho of the long-standing
doctrine that the President exercises the power of control over his appointees. 13
Paragraph 3, on the other hand, regarding subordinate officials, is a mere reiteration of
Section 33 of Republic Act No. 2260, the Civil Service Act (of 1959) then in force,
placing jurisdiction upon "the proper Head of Department, the chief of a bureau or office"
14 to investigate and decide on matters involving disciplinary action.
Paragraph 4, which refers to complaints filed against elective local officials, reiterates, on
the other hand, the Decentralization Act of 1967, providing that "charges against any
elective provincial and city officials shall be preferred before the President of the
Philippines; against any elective municipal official before the provincial governor or the
secretary of the provincial board concerned; and against any elective barrio official before
the municipal or secretary concerned. 15
Paragraph 5, meanwhile, is a reproduction of the provisions of the Police Act of 1966,
vesting upon a "Board of Investigators" 16 the jurisdiction to try and decide complaints
against members of the Philippine police.
Clearly, the Executive Order simply consolidates these existing rules and streamlines the
administrative apparatus in the matter of complaints against public officials. Furthermore,
the fact is that there is no reference therein to judicial or prejudicial (like a preliminary
investigation conducted by the fiscal) recourse, not because it makes such a resort a
secondary measure, but because it does not intend to serve as a condition precedent to,
much less supplant, such a court resort.
To be sure, there is mention therein of "court action[s] [being] pursued forthwith by the interested
parties, " 17 but that does not, so we hold, cover proceedings such as criminal actions,
which do not require a prior administrative course of action. It will indeed be noted that
the term is closely shadowed by the qualification, "after administrative remedies shall
have been exhausted," 18 which suggests civil suits subject to previous administrative
action.
It is moreover significant that the Executive Order in question makes specific reference to
"erring officials or employees ... removed or otherwise vindicated. 19 If it were intended
to apply to criminal prosecutions, it would have employed such technical terms as
"accused", "convicted," or "acquitted." While this is not necessarily a controlling
parameter for all cases, it is here material in construing the intent of the measure.
What is even more compelling is the Constitutional implications if the petitioner's
arguments were accepted. For Executive Order No. 264 was promulgated under the 1935
Constitution in which legislative power was vested exclusively in Congress. The regime
of Presidential lawmaking was to usher in yet some seven years later. If we were to
consider the Executive Order law, we would be forced to say that it is an amendment to
Republic Act No. 5180, the law on preliminary investigations then in effect, a situation
that would give rise to a Constitutional anomaly. We cannot accordingly countenace such
a view.
The challenge the petitioner presents against the personality of the Anti-Graft League of the
Philippines to bring suit is equally without merit. That the Anti-Graft League is not an "offended
party" within the meaning of Section 2, Rule 110, of the Rules of Court (now Section 3 of the 1985
Rules on Criminal Procedure), cannot abate the complaints in question.
A complaint for purposes of preliminary investigation by the fiscal need not be filed by the "offended
party." The rule has been that, unless the offense subject thereof is one that cannot be prosecuted de
oficio, the same may be filed, for preliminary investigation purposes, by any competent person. 20 ᄃ
The "complaint" referred to in the Rule 110 contemplates one filed in court, not with the fiscal, In that
case, the proceeding must be started by the aggrieved party himself. 21 ᄃ
For as a general rule, a criminal action is commenced by complaint or information, both of which are
filed in court. In case of a complaint, it must be filed by the offended party; with respect to an
information, it is the fiscal who files it. But a "complaint" filed with the fiscal prior to a judicial action
may be filed by any person.
The next question is whether or not the temporary restraining order we issued in G.R. No. 33628
embraced as well the complaint subject of G.R. No. 34162.
It is noteworthy that the charges levelled against the petitioner — whether in G.R. No. 33628 or 34162
— refer invariably to violations of the Anti-Graft Law or the Revised Penal Code. That does not,
however, make such charges Identical to one another.
The complaints involved in G.R. No. 34162 are, in general, nepotism under Sections 3(c) and (j) of
Republic Act No. 3019; exerting influence upon the presiding Judge of the Court of First Instance of
Zamboanga del Sur to award a certain parcel of land in his favor, over which the provincial
government itself lays claims, contrary to the provisions of Section 4(b) of Republic Act No. 3019;
and making untruthful statements in the certificates of appointment of certain employees in his office.
On the other hand, the complaints subject matter of G.R. No. 33628 involve charges of simulating bids
for the supply of gravel and sand for certain public works projects, in breach of Section 3 of the Anti-
Graft statute; manipulating bids with respect to the construction of the capitol building; testifying
falsely in connection with Cadastral Case No. N-17, LRC Cad. Rec. N-468, in which the petitioner
alleged that he was the owner of a piece of land, in violation of Articles 182, 183, and 318 of the
Revised Penal Code; and simulating bids for the supply of gravel and sand in connection with another
public works project.
It is clear that the twin sets of complaints are characterized by major differences. When, therefore, we
restrained further proceedings in I.S. Nos. 1-71, 2-71, and 4-71, subject of G.R. No. 33628. we did not
consequently stay the proceedings in CCC-XVI-4-ZDS, CCC XVI-6-ZDS, CCC XVI-8-ZDS, and I.S.
Nos. 6-71 and 7-71, the same proceedings we did restrain in G.R. No. 34162.
This brings us to the last issue: whether or not the complaints in question are tainted with a political
color.
It is not our business to resolve complaints the disposition of which belongs to another agency, in this
case, the respondent Fiscal. But more than that, and as a general rule, injunction does not lie to enjoin
criminal prosecutions. 22 ᄃ The rule is subject to exceptions, to wit: (1) for the orderly administration
of justice; (2) to prevent the use of the strong arm of the law in an oppressive and vindictive manner;
(3) to avoid multiplicity of actions; (4) to afford adequate protection to constitutional rights; and (5)
because the statute relied on is constitutionally infirm or otherwise void. 23 ᄃ We cannot perceive any
of the exceptions applicable here. The petitioner cries foul, in a manner of speaking, with respect to
the deluge of complaints commenced by the private respondent below, but whether or not they were
filed for harassment purposes is a question we are not in a position to decide. The proper venue, we
believe, for the petitioner's complaint is precisely in the preliminary investigations he wishes blocked
here.
WHEREFORE, the petitions are DISMISSED. The temporary restraining orders are LIFTED and SET
ASIDE. Costs against the petitioners.
It is so ORDERED.

A.M. No. RTJ-04-1837 March 23, 2004


VISITACION L. ESTODILLO, ET AL.,complainants,
vs.
JUDGE TEOFILO D. BALUMA,respondent.

RESOLUTION

AUSTRIA-MARTINEZ, J.:
In a verified complaint dated December 26, 2002, Jovelyn Estudillo (Jovelyn) assisted by her mother,
Visitacion L. Estodillo, charges Judge Teofilo D. Baluma with Gross and Inexcusable Ignorance of the
Law.
Complainant alleges that her administrative complaint arose from the dismissal of Criminal Case No.
11627 for Other Acts of Child Abuse 1 ᄃ entitled "People of the Philippines, Plaintiff vs. Fredie Cirilo
Nocos y Urot" by respondent Judge of the Regional Trial Court of Bohol, Branch 1, a Family Court.
The criminal case was originally filed for preliminary investigation with the 2nd Municipal Circuit
Trial Court of Tubigon-Clarin, Bohol. After the requisite preliminary investigation, Judge James
Stewart E. Himalaloan found that there was sufficient ground to hold the herein accused for trial for
the offense of Other Acts of Child Abuse defined in Sec. 10 (1), Article VI of Republic Act No. 7610. 2
ᄃ The record of the case was transmitted to the Office of the Provincial Prosecutor where, after a
review by Third Assistant Provincial Prosecutor, Macario I. Delusa, he failed an Information dated
October 28, 20023 ᄃ.
Respondent dismissed the Information in an Order dated November 21, 20024 ᄃ ratiocinating, thus:
EXAMINING the Information, the two (2) copies of the same forming parts of the Records in this
case appearing in pages 28 and 30, the court finds that the same is not subscribed and sworn to by the
prosecutor.
...
A CAREFUL EXAMINATION on the four corners of the Information will readily show that the
information had not been subscribed by the prosecutor and this will militate against the validity of the
information and towards nullity and total worthlessness of the same. Since the Information is
defective, the Court is left without any alternative except to dismiss this case. Any other act by the
Court will tantamount to validating the defective information. The Court can act in this case only
when a correct information is filed, which is beyond procedure for the Court to order.
The prosecution through Prosecutor Delusa filed a Motion for Reconsideration and Revival 5 ᄃ on
December 12, 2002 alleging that there was no necessity for the Information to be under oath since he
merely concurred with the resolution of the investigating judge and that he "has properly subscribed
and signed the Information with the approval of the Provincial Prosecutor".
On January 10, 2003, respondent issued an Order 6 ᄃ granting the motion for reconsideration,
reinstating and reviving the case but at the same time requiring the public prosecutor to file a new
information "incorporating the formalities called for under Rule 112, Section 4 and the circular of its
department implementing the pertinent laws on the matter, within ten (10) days from notice hereof."
On January 30, 2003, the prosecution filed an ex parte motion to increase the bail bond of the
accused7 ᄃ but respondent refused to act on it because the prosecution had not yet complied with his
order to file a new information.8 ᄃ
On January 31, 2003, the prosecution filed a "Manifestation" 9 ᄃ stating that it "will not file a new
information as ordered, the same being contrary to law and jurisprudence and is unprocedural."
Complainant, therefore, seeks the assistance of the Court to investigate this impasse considering that
the bond of the accused had been cancelled earlier.
Complainant also alleges that previously, respondent judge had dismissed Criminal Case No. 11514
against a certain Eduardo Vedra for Unjust Vexation on the same ground. The prosecution, in a motion
for reconsideration, explained that what is required to be under oath is a complaint, not an information
where the Rules merely require that it be subscribed. Respondent granted the motion and revived the
case without requiring the filing of a new information.
Complainant wonders why respondent did not require the filing of a new information in the Vedra
case, but insisted on the filing of such new information in the present case. This, according to the
complainant, is clearly gross ignorance of the law.
In his Comment, respondent avers: The complaint did not comply with Rule 7, Section 5, Rules of
Civil Procedure, as amended, which required a certification of non-forum shopping. He denies that he
stood pat on his original order because he had already issued an Order dated 27 February 2003 which
found probable cause to warrant the placing of the accused, Fredie Cirilo Nocos, under custody in
order to stand trial and fixed his bond at P60,000.00. The complainant, including Prosecutor Eric M.
Ucat, the trial prosecutor who instigated the filing of herein administrative complaint and Atty. Esther
Gertrude Biliran, who notarized and obviously prepared the complaint, were mentally dishonest for
not mentioning the fact that before herein complaint was filed on March 8, 2003, he had already
issued the aforecited Order dated February 27, 2003. Prosecutor Ucat and Atty. Biliran had evil
motives when they instigated the filing of the complaint against him even before he had issued the
new order and for continuing with it after he issued the Order of 27 February 2003.
Respondent maintains that he had efficiently discharged his duties as judge although his Branch is one
of the most heavily burdened branches in the Tagbilaran City area and that to cope with this heavy
load, he works even at night and on Sundays and holidays, writing decisions and drafting orders.
Respondent included in his Comment a "Counter-complaint" against Prosecutor Eric M. Ucat and
Atty. Esther Gertrude D. Biliran an administrative case for disbarment or for disciplinary sanction for
gross violation of the canons under the Code of Professional conduct and for deceit, dishonesty, failure
to exercise candor, fairness, good faith, doing falsehood or consenting to its doing and abuse of
procedures.
Prosecutor Eric M. Ucat filed a "Rejoinder"10 ᄃ stating that he is in quandary why the respondent
tagged him as the trial prosecutor when in fact the record shows that Prosecutor Helen T. Cabatos was
the one who handled the subject criminal case (Criminal Case No. 11627) and Prosecutor Macario I.
Delusa was the one who filed the Information. He asserts that the only thing he did was to administer
the oath of the complainant in the original letter-complaint subject matter of the herein administrative
case. He points out that it was in another case, Criminal Case No. 11514 for Unjust Vexation entitled
"The People of the Philippines vs. Eduardo Vedra, a.k.a. Eddie" that he acted as the prosecutor. That
case was dismissed by respondent in an Order dated November 25, 2002 on the same ground that the
Information was not subscribed by the prosecutor. Upon a Motion for Reconsideration with Prayer For
Revival of the Case, respondent granted it in an Order 11 ᄃ dated January 2, 2003. He likewise
answered point by point all the accusations hurled by respondent in the latter's counter-complaint.
Atty. Esther Gertrude D. Biliran also filed a "Rejoinder" 12 ᄃ wherein she denied having participated
in the filing of the complaint except to take the oath of the complainant. She avers that at the time
herein administrative case was filed on March 8, 2003, complainants have not yet received the
February 27, 2003 Order issued by respondent judge which found probable cause to warrant the
placing of the accused, Fredie Cirilo Nocos under custody in order to stand trial and fixed his bond at
P60,000.00. Likewise, she denied the accusations of the respondent judge and proferred her defenses
against it.
Court Administrator Presbitero J. Velasco, Jr. recommends that: 1) this case be re-docketed as a
regular administrative matter; and 2) respondent be reprimanded with a stern warning that a repetition
of the offense will merit a more drastic action of the Court.
Section 4, Rule 110 of the Revised Rules of Criminal Procedure provides:
Sec. 4. Information defined. – An information is an accusation in writing charging a person with an
offense, subscribed by the prosecutor and filed with the court.
There is no requirement that the information be sworn to. Otherwise, the rules would have so provided
as it does in a complaint which is defined as a "sworn written statement charging a person with an
offense, subscribed by the offended party, any peace officer, or other public officer charged with the
enforcement of the law violated".13 ᄃ In a case, we ruled that the information need not be under oath,
the reason therefore being principally that the prosecuting officer filing it is charged with the special
duty in regard thereto and is acting under the special responsibility of his oath of office. 14 ᄃ Clearly,
respondent had confused an information from a complaint.
A perusal of the subject Information shows that it was subscribed or signed by Prosecutor Macario I.
Delusa. It is thus clear that respondent erred in dismissing the subject Information on the ground that it
was not under oath.
As aptly observed by the Court Administrator in the evaluation submitted by him:
It is clear that respondent erred in dismissing the information filed by Prosecutor Eric M. Ucat on the
ground that it was not sworn to. The Rules of Criminal Procedure clearly defines an information as "an
accusation in writing charging a person with an offense, subscribed by the prosecutor and filed with
the court" (Section 4, Rule 110). The Rules do not require that it be under oath for otherwise, it would
have provided so. On the other hand, a complaint is defined as "a sworn statement charging a person
with an offense, subscribed by the offended party, any peace officer, or other public officer charged
with the enforcement of the law violated" (Section 5, Rule 110).
Evidently, respondent was of the belief, albeit erroneous, that both a complaint and an information
need to be under oath. But the oath is not required when it is a public prosecutor who files the
information because he does so under the oath he took when he qualified for his position. The position
of the public prosecutor was that the preliminary investigation had been conducted by the municipal
circuit trial judge of Tubigon-Clarin and the latter's resolution was concurred in by the prosecutors.
It appears from the record that the respondent corrected himself by issuing his Order of 27 February
2003 where he found that "the complaint, the affidavit of Alberto V. Estudillo, father of the victim, the
affidavit of Jovelyn L. Estudillo, the victim executed with the assistance of Visitacion Estudillo, her
mother, the medico-legal certificate issued by Isidro Fermites, Jr., on Jovelyn Estudillo, the
certification of the facts of birth of Jovelyn L. Estudillo, the records of the proceedings during the
preliminary examination at the First Level Court, its Order dated September 6, 2002 and the
Resolution dated September 19, 2002, this court finds probable cause to warrant that the accused be
placed in the custody of the law to stand trial."
The error of the respondent is not a serious one. He, however, must be reminded that as judge he must
be conversant with the rules and laws that it is his office of apply. He deserves a reprimand for his
failure to understand an elementary rule of law.15 ᄃ
We agree with Court Administrator Velasco.
The records disclose that respondent, in effect, apparently rectified his error when he issued an Order
dated February 27, 2003, portions of which read as follows:
EXAMINING the complaint, the affidavit of Alberto V. Estodillo, father of the victim, the affidavit of
Juvelyn L. Estodillo, the victim executed with the assistance of Visitacion-Estodillo her mother, the
medico legal certificate issued by Isidro Permites, Jr., M.D., on Juvelyn L. Estodillo, the certification
on the facts of birth of Juvelyn L. Estodillo, the records of the proceedings during the preliminary
examination at the First Level Court, its Order dated September 6, 2002 and the Resolution dated
September 19, 2002, this Court finds probable cause to warrant that the accused be placed in the
custody of the law to stand trial.16 ᄃ
However, it is noted that said Order did not have any reference at all nor did it attempt to reconcile the
previous Orders he issued on which bases the herein administrative complaint was based, namely: the
Order dated November 21, 2002 dismissing the Information, the Order dated January 10, 2003
reinstating and reviving the case but requiring the prosecution to file a new information, and the Order
dated January 30, 2003 refusing to act on the prosecution's ex-parte motion to increase amount of bail
until the filing of a new information, thus resulting in the grievance submitted by complainant which
could have been easily averted had respondent been more meticulous in the performance of his duties
as presiding judge of a regional trial court.
Canon 3, Rule 3.01, Code of Judicial Conduct mandates judges to "be faithful to the law and maintain
professional competence". It is imperative that judges must be conversant with basic legal
principles17 ᄃ . Judges are called to exhibit more than just a cursory acquaintance with statutes and
procedural laws.18 ᄃ They are not common men and women, whose errors, men and women forgive
and time forgets19 ᄃ. Judges sit as the embodiment of the people's sense of justice, their last recourse
where all other institutions have failed".20 ᄃ
As to the counter-complaint of respondent Judge against Prosecutor Eric M. Ucat and Atty. Esther
Gertrude D. Biliran, the same should be dismissed for failure of respondent to refute their respective
"rejoinders", dated June 11, 2003 and June 6, 2003.
WHEREFORE, respondent Judge Teofilo D. Baluma is found guilty of violation of Canon 3, Rule
3.01, Code of Judicial Conduct and REPRIMANDED with a stern warning that a repetition of the
same or similar acts shall be dealt with more severely.
The counter-complaint of Judge Teofilo D. Baluma against Prosecutor Eric M. Ucat and Atty. Esther
Gertrude D. Biliran is dismissed for lack of merit.
SO ORDERED.

G.R. No. 126005 January 21, 1999


PEOPLE OF THE PHILIPPINES and ALYNN PLEZETTE DY,petitioners,
vs.
COURT OF APPEALS, BILLY CERBO and JONATHAN CERBO,respondents.

PANGANIBAN, J.:
In our criminal justice system, the public prosecutor has the quasi-judicial discretion to determine
whether or not case should be filed in court. Courts must. respect the exercise of such discretion when
the information filed against the accused valid on its face, and no manifest error, grave abuse of
discretion or prejudice can be imputed to the public prosecutor.
The Case
Before us is a Petition for Review under Rule 45, seeking to reverse the June 28, 1996 Decision and
the August 27, 1996 Resolution of the Court of Appeals 1 ᄃ in CA-GR SP No. 36018. 2 ᄃ The
assailed Decision dismissed the Petition for Certiorarifiled by the petitioners, which sought to annul
and set aside two Orders of the Regional Trial Court of Nabunturan, Davao: the June 28, 1994 Order
dismissing the Information for murder filed against Private Respondent Billy Cerbo and the August
18, 1994 Order denying petitioners' motion for reconsideration.
The assailed August 27, 1996 Court of Appeals (CA) Resolution likewise denied petitioners' motion
for reconsideration.
The Facts
The case below arose from the fatal shooting of Petitioner Dy's mother, Rosalinda Dy, in which the
primary suspect was Private Respondent Jonathan Cerbo, son of Private Respondent Billy Cerbo.
The procedural and factual antecedents of the case were summarized in the challenged Decision of the
Court of Appeals as follows:
On August 30, 1993, Rosalinda Dy, according to the petition, was shot at pointblank range by private
respondent Jonathan Cerbo in the presence and at the office of his father, private respondent Billy
Cerbo at Purok 9, Poblacion, Nabunturan, Davao.
On September 2, 1993, eyewitness Elsa B. Gumban executed an affidavit positively identifying
private respondent Jonathan Cerbo as the assailant. (Annex C, Rollo, p. 34).
On September 20, 1993, private respondent Jonathan Cerbo executed a counter-affidavit interposing
the defense that the shooting was accidental (Annex D: Rollo, pp. 35-36).
On October 6, 1993, the 3rd Municipal Circuit Trial Court of Nabunturan-Mawab, Davao, after a
preliminary investigation, found "sufficient ground to engender a well-founded belief" that the crime
of murder has been committed by private respondent Jonathan Cerbo and resolved to forward the
entire records of the case to the provincial prosecutor at Tagum, Davao (Annex E, Rollo, pp. 37-38).
After [an] information for murder was filed against Jonathan Cerbo, petitioner Alynn Plezette Dy,
daughter of the victim Rosalinda Dy, executed an affidavit-complaint charging private respondent
Billy Cerbo of conspiracy in the killing (Annex F, Rollo, p. 39), supported by a supplemental affidavit
of Elsa B. Gumban, alleging "in addition" to her previous statement that:
3. In addition to my said sworn statement, I voluntarily and freely aver as follows:
a) I vividly recall that while my mistress Rosalinda Go and I were in the office of Billy Cerbo at about
11:45 a.m. on August 30, 1993, Mr. Cerbo personally instructed me to fetch the food from the kitchen
[and to bring it] to the office instead of the dining room.
b) While bringing the food, Mr. Cerbo again instructed me to place the food [o]n a corner table and
commanded me to sit behind the entrance door and at the same time Mr. Cerbo positioned Rosalinda
[on] a chair facing the entrance door for an easy target.
c) Immediately after Rosalinda was shot, Mr. Billy Cerbo called his son Jonathan who was running,
but did not and ha[s] never bothered to bring Rosalinda to a hospital or even apply first aid.
d) To my surprise, Mr. Billy Cerbo, instead of bringing Rosalinda to the hospital, brought her to the
funeral parlor and immediately ordered her to be embalmed without even informing her children or
any of her immediate relatives xxx.' Annex G. Rollo, p. 40.)
Private respondent Billy Cerbo submitted a counter-affidavit denying the allegations of both petitioner
Alynn Plezette Dy and Elsa B. Gumban (Annex H, Rollo, pp. 41-42).
On or about April 8, 1994, Prosecutor Protacio Lumangtad filed a "Motion for leave of court to
reinvestigate the case" (Annex I, Rollo, pp. 43-44) which was granted by the respondent judge in an
order dated April 28, 1994 (Annex J, Rollo, p. 45).
In his resolution dated May 5, 1994, Prosecutor Lumangtad recommended the filing of an amended
information including Billy Cerbo
". . . as one of the accused in the murder case . . ." (Annex K: Rollo, pp. 46-49).
Accordingly, the prosecution filed an amended information including Billy Cerbo in the murder case.
A warrant for his arrest was later issued on May 27, 1994 (Rollo, p. 27).
Private respondent Billy Cerbo then filed a motion to quash warrant of arrest arguing that the same
was issued without probable cause (Rollo, p. 27).
On June 28, 1994, respondent Judge issued the first assailed order dismissing the case against Billy
Cerbo and recalling the warrant for his arrest[;] the dispositive portion of [the order] reads:
IN THE LIGHT OF ALL THE FOREGOING, [an] order is hereby issued DISMISSING the case as
against Billy Cerbo only.
Let, therefore, the warrant of arrest, dated May 27, 1994, be RECALLED.
The prosecution is hereby ordered to withdraw its Amended Information and file a new one charging
Jonathan Cerbo only.
SO ORDERED. (Rollo, pp. 29-30).
Private Prosecutor Romeo Tagra filed a motion for reconsideration which was denied by the
respondent judge in his second assailed order dated August 18, 1994 (Annex B, Rollo, pp. 31-33). 3 ᄃ
The Ruling of the Court of Appeals

In its 10-page Decision, the Court of Appeals debunked petitioners' assertion that the trial
judge committed a grave abuse of discretion in recalling the warrant of arrest and
subsequently dismissing the case against Billy Cerbo. Citing jurisprudence,4 ᄃ the
appellate court held as follows:
The ruling is explicit. If upon the filing of the information in court, the trial judge, after
reviewing the information and the documents attached thereto, finds that no probable
cause exists, must either call for the complainant and the witnesses or simply dismiss the
case.
Petitioners question the applicability of the doctrine laid down in the above[-]mentioned case, alleging
that the facts therein are different from the instant case. We rule that the disparity of facts does not
prevent the application of the principle.
We have gone over the supplemental affidavit of Elsa B. Gumban and taking into account the
additional facts and circumstances alleged therein, we cannot say that respondent judge gravely
abused his discretion in dismissing the case as against private respondent Billy Cerbo for lack of
probable cause.
xxx xxx xxx
The prosecution, if it really believed that Billy Cerbo is probably guilty by conspiracy, should have
presented additional evidence sufficiently and credibly demonstrating the existence of probable cause.
xxx xxx xxx 5 ᄃ
In sum, the Court of Appeals held that Judge Eugenio Valles did not commit grave abuse of discretion
in recalling the warrant of arrest issued against Private Respondent Billy Cerbo and subsequently
dismissing the Information for murder filed against the private respondent, because the evidence
presented thus far did not substantiate such charge.
Hence, this petition.6 ᄃ
The Assigned Errors

Petitioner Dy avers:
1) The Court of Appeals gravely erred in holding that the Regional Trial Court Judge had the authority
to reverse [the public prosecutor's] finding of probable cause to prosecute accused . . . and thus dismiss
the case filed by the latter on the basis of a motion to quash warrant of arrest.
2) The Court of Appeals gravely erred in fully and unqualifiedly applying the case of Allado, et. al. vs.
PACC, et. al. G.R. No. 113630, [to] the case at bench despite [the] clear difference in their respective
factual backdrop[s] and the contrary earlier jurisprudence on the matter. 7 ᄃ
On the other hand, the solicitor general posits this sole issue:
Whether the Court of Appeals erred in finding that no probable cause exists to merit the filing of
charges against private respondent Billy Cerbo.8 ᄃ
Essentially, the petitioners are questioning the propriety of the trial court's dismissal, for want of
evidence, of the Information for murder against Private Respondent Billy Cerbo.
In resolving this petition, the discussion of the Court will revolve around the points: first, the
determination of probable cause as an executive and judicial function and, second, the applicability of
Alladoand Salonga to the case at bar.
The Court's Ruling
The petition is meritorious. The trial court erred in dismissing the information filed against the private
respondent. Consequently the Court of Appeals was likewise in error when it upheld such ruling.
Executive Determination
of Probable Cause
The determination of probable cause during a preliminary investigation is a function that belongs to
the public prosecutor. It is an executive function, 9 ᄃ the correctness of the exercise of which is matter
that the trial court itself does not and may not be compelled to pass upon. The Separate (Concurring)
Opinion of former Chief Justice Andres R. Narvasa in Roberts v. Court of Appeals 10 succinctly
elucidates such point in this wise:
xxx xxx xxx
In this special civil action, this Court is being asked to assume the function of a public prosecutor. It is
being asked to determine whether probable cause exists as regards petitioners. More concretely, the
Court is being asked to examine and assess such evidence as has thus far been submitted by the parties
and, on the basis thereof, make a conclusion as to whether or not it suffices "to engender a well
founded belief that a crime has been committed and that the respondent is probably guilty thereof and
should be held for trial."
It is a function that this Court should not be called upon to perform. It is a function that properly
pertains to the public prosecutor, one that, as far as crimes cognizable by a Regional Trial Court are
concerned, and notwithstanding that it involves an adjudicative process of a sort, exclusively pertains,
by law, to said executive officer, the public prosecutor. It is moreover a function that in the established
scheme of things, is supposed to be performed at the very genesis of, indeed, prefatorily to, the formal
commencement of a criminal action. The proceedings before a public prosecutor, it may well be
stressed, are essentially preliminary, prefatory and cannot lead to a final, definite and authoritative
adjudgment of the guilt or innocence of the persons charged with a felony or crime.
Whether or not that function has been correctly discharged by the public prosecutor — i.e., whether or
not he has made a correct ascertainment of the existence of probable cause in a case, is a matter that
the trial court itself does not and may not be compelled to pass upon. It is not for instance permitted
for an accused, upon the filing of the information against him by the public prosecutor, to preempt trial
by filing a motion with the Trial Court praying for the quash or dismissal of the indictment on the
ground that the evidence upon which the same is based is inadequate. Nor is it permitted, on the
antipodal theory that the evidence is in truth inadequate, for the complaining party to present a petition
before the Court praying that the public prosecutor be compelled to file the corresponding information
against the accused.
xxx xxx xxx
Indeed, the public prosecutor has broad discretion to determine whether probable cause exists and to
charge those whom be or she believes to have committed the crime as defined by law. Otherwise
stated, such official has the quasi-judicial authority to determine whether or not a criminal case list be
filed in court.11 ᄃ Thus, in Crespo v. Mogul,12 ᄃ we ruled:
It is a cardinal principle that all criminal actions either commenced by complaint or by
information shall be prosecuted under the direction and control of the fiscal. The
institution of a criminal action depends upon the sound discretion of the fiscal. He may or
may not file the complaint or information, follow or not follow that presented by the
offended party, according to whether the evidence, in his opinion, is sufficient or not to
establish the guilt of the accused beyond reasonable doubt. The reason for placing the
criminal prosecution under the direction and control of the fiscal is to prevent malicious
or unfounded prosecutions by private persons. . . . Prosecuting officers under the power
vested in them by the law, not only have the authority but also the duty of prosecuting
persons who, according to the evidence received from the complainant, are shown to be
guilty of a crime committed within the jurisdiction of their office. They have equally the
duty not to prosecute when the evidence adduced is not sufficient to establish a prima
faciecase.
This broad prosecutoral power is however nor unfettered, because just as public prosecutors are
obliged to bring forth before the law those who have transgressed it, they are also constrained to be
circumspect in filing criminal charges against the innocent. Thus, for crimes cognizable by regional
trial courts, preliminary investigations are usually conducted. In Ledesma v. Court of Appeals,13 ᄃ we
discussed the purposes and nature of a preliminary investigation in this manner:
The primary objective of a preliminary investigation is to free respondent from the inconvenience,
expense, ignominy and stress of defending himself/herself in the course of a formal trial, until the
reasonable probability of his or her guilt in a more or less summary proceeding by a competent office
designated by law for that purpose. Secondarily, such summary proceeding also protects the state from
the burden of the unnecessary expense an effort in prosecuting alleged offenses and in holding trials
arising from false, frivolous or groundless charges.
Such investigation is not part of the trial. A full and exhaustive presentation of the parties' evidence is
not required, but only such as may engender a well-grounded belief than an offense has been
committed and that the accused is probably guilty thereof. By reason of the abbreviated nature of
preliminary investigations, a dismissal of the charges as a result thereof is not equivalent to a judicial
pronouncement of acquittal. Hence, no double jeopardy attaches.
Judicial Determination of
Probable Cause

The determination of probable cause to hold a person for trial must be distinguished from
the determination of probable cause to issue a warrant of arrest, which is a judicial
function. The judicial determination of probable cause in the issuance of arrest warrants
has been emphasized in numerous cases. In Ho v. People, 14 ᄃ the Court summarized the
pertinent rulings on the subject, as follows:
The above rulings in Soliven, Intingand Lim, Sr. were iterated in Allado v. Diokno, where
we explained again what probable cause means. Probable cause for the issuance of a
warrant of arrest is the existence of such facts and circumstances that would lead a
reasonably discreet and prudent person to believe that an offense has been committed by
the person sought to be arrested. Hence, the judge, before issuing a warrant of arrest,
"must satisfy himself that based on the evidence submitted, there is sufficient proof that a
crime has been committed and that the person to be arrested is probably guilty thereof."
At this stage of the criminal proceeding, the judge is not yet tasked to review in detail the
evidence submitted during the preliminary investigation. It is sufficient that he personally
evaluates such evidence in determining probable cause. In Webb v. De Leonwe stressed
that the judge merely determines the probability, not the certainty, of guilt of the accused
and, in doing so, he need not conduct a de novohearing. He simply personally reviews the
prosecutor's initial determination finding probable cause to see if it is supported by
substantial evidence.
xxx xxx xxx
In light of the aforecited decisions of this Court, such justification cannot be upheld. Lest we be too
repetitive, we only emphasize three vital matters once more: First, as held in Inting, the determination
of probable cause by the prosecutor is for a purpose different from that which is to be made by the
judge. Whether there is reasonable ground to believe that the accused is guilty of the offense charged
and should be held for trial is what the prosecutor passes upon. The judge, on the other hand,
determines whether a warrant of arrest should be issued against the accused, i.e., whether there is a
necessity for placing him under immediate custody in order not to frustrate the ends of justice. Thus,
even if both should base their findings on one and the same proceeding or evidence, there should be
no confusion as to their distinct objectives.
Second, since their objectives are different, the judge cannot rely solely on the report of the prosecutor
in finding probable cause to justify the issuance of a warrant of arrest. Obviously and understandably,
the contents of the prosecutor's report will support his own conclusion that there is reason to charge
the accused of an offense and hold him for trial. However, the judge must decide independently.
Hence, he must have supporting evidence, other than the prosecutor's bare report, upon which to
legally sustain his own findings on the existence or non-existence of probable cause to issue an arrest
order. This responsibility of determining personally and independently the existence of non-existence
of probable cause is lodged in him by no less than the most basic law of the land. Parenthetically, the
prosecutor could ease the burden of the judge and speed up the litigation process by forwarding to the
latter not only the information and his bare resolution, but also so much of the records and the
evidence on hand as to enable His Honor to make his personal and separate judicial finding on
whether to issue a warrant of arrest.
Lastly, It is not required that the complete or entire records of the case during the preliminary
investigation be submitted to and examined by the judge. We do not intend to unduly burden trial
courts by obliging them to examine the complete records of every case all the time simply for the
purpose of ordering the arrest of the accused. What is required, rather, is that the judge must have
sufficient supporting documents (such as the complaint, affidavits, counter-affidavits, sworn
statements of witnesses or transcript of stenographic notes, if any) upon which to make his
independent judgment, or at the very least, upon which to verify the findings of the prosecutor as to
the existence of probable cause. The point is: he cannot rely solely and entirely on the prosecutor's
recommendation, as the Respondent Court did in this case. Although the prosecutor enjoys the legal
presumption of regularity in the performance of his duties and functions, which in turn gives his report
the presumption of accuracy, the Constitution, we repeat, commands the judge to personally determine
probable cause in the issuance of warrants of arrest. This Court has consistently held that a judge fails
in his bounded duty if he relies merely on the certification or the report of the investigating officer.
xxx xxx xxx
Verily, a judge cannot be compelled to issue a warrant of arrest if he or she deems that there is no
probable cause for doing so. Corollary to this principle, the judge should not override the public
prosecutor's determination of probable cause to hold an accused for trial on the ground that the
evidence presented to substantiate the issuance of an arrest warrant was insufficient, as in the present
case.
Indeed, it could be unfair to expect the prosecution to present all the evidence needed to secure the
conviction of the accused upon the filing of the information against the latter. The reason is found in
the nature and the objective of a preliminary investigation. Here, the public prosecutors do not decide
whether there is evidence beyond reasonable doubt of the guilt of the person charged; they merely
determine "whether there is sufficient ground to engender a well-founded belief that a crime . . . has
been committed and that the respondent is probably guilty thereof, and should be held for trial." 15 ᄃ
Evidentiary matters must be presented and heard during the trial. 16 ᄃ Therefore, if the information is
valid on its face, and there is no showing of manifest error, grave abuse of discretion and prejudice on
the part of the public prosecutor , the trial court should respect such determination.
Inapplicabilty of Allado
and Salonga
The Court of Appeals anchored its ruling on the pronouncement made in Allado v. Diokno:" . . . [I]f,
upon the filing of the information in court, the trial judge, after reviewing the information and the
documents attached thereto, must either call for the complainant and the witnesses themselves or
simply dismiss the case. There is no reason to hold the accused for trial and further expose him to an
open and public accusation of the crime when no probable cause exists." 17 ᄃ
In Allado, Petitioners Diosdado Jose Allado and Roberto I. Mendoza, practicing lawyers, were
accused by the Presidential Anti-Crime Commission (PACC) of kidnapping with murder and ordered
by Judge Roberto C. Diokno to be arrested without bail. The petitioners questioned the issuance of the
warrants for their arrest contending that the respondent judge acted with grave abuse of discretion and
in excess of his jurisdiction in holding that there was probable cause against them. They contended
that the trial court relied merely on the resolution of the investigating panel and its certification that
probable cause existed, without personally determining the admissibility and sufficiency of the
evidence for such finding and without stating the basis thereof. They maintained that the records of the
preliminary investigation, which was the sole basis of the judge's ruling, failed to establish probable
cause against them that would justify the issuance of warrants for their arrest.
The Court declared that Judge Diokno has indeed committed grave abuse of discretion in issuing the
arrest warrants. Contrary to the constitutional mandate and established jurisprudence, he merely relied
on the certification of the prosecutors as to the existence of the probable cause, instead of personally
examining the evidence, the complainant and his witness." For otherwise," the Court said "he would
have found out that the evidence thus far presented was utterly insufficient to warrant the arrest of the
petitioners" 18 ᄃ
In categorically stating that the evidence so far presented did not meet the standard of probable cause
and subsequently granting the petition, the Court noted the following circumstances: first, the corpus
delictiwas not established, and there was serious doubt as to the alleged victim's death: second, the
extra judicial statement of the principal witness, who had priorly confessed his participation in the
crime, was full of material inconsistencies; and third, the PACC operatives who investigated the case
never implicated the petitioners.
Citing Salonga v. Cruz-Paño, the Court of Appeals pointed out that when there was no prima facie
case against a person sought to be charged with a crime, "the judge or fiscal, therefore, should not go
on with the prosecution in the hope that some credible evidence might later turn out during trial, for
this would be flagrant violation of a basic right which the courts are created to uphold." 19 ᄃ
In the aforecited case, Petitioner Jovito R. Salonga sought to bar the filing of an Information for
violation of the revised Anti-Subversion Act, which Judge Ernani Cruz-Pano had ordered to be filed
against him. In sustaining the petitioner, the Court held that the evidence upon which the Information
was based was not sufficient to charge him for a violation of the Revised Subversion Act.
In all, the Court decreed in both cases that there was no basis in law and in fact for the judicial and
executive determination at probable cause. The Court also held that the government, while vested with
the right and the duty to protect itself and its people against transgressors of the law, must perform the
same in a manner that would not infringe the perceived violators' rights as guaranteed by the
Constitution.
However, the present case is not on all fours with Alladoand Salonga. First, Elsa Gumban, the
principal eyewitness to the killing of Rosalinda Dy, was not a participation or conspirator in the
commission of the said crime. In Allado and Salonga, however, the main witnesses were the confessed
perpetrators of the crimes, whose testimonies the court deemed 'tainted'. 20 ᄃ Second, in the case at
bar, the private respondent was accorded due process, and no precipitate haste or bias
during the investigation of the case can be imputed to the public prosecutor. On the other
hand, the Court noted in Allado the "undue haste in the filing of the Information and in
the inordinate interest of the government" in pursuing the case; 21 ᄃ and in Salonga, " . . .
the failure of the prosecution to show that the petitioner was probably guilty of conspiring
to commit the crime, the initial disregard of petitioner's constitutioner rights [and] the
massive and damaging publicity against him." 22 ᄃ In other words, while the respective
sets of evidence before the prosecutors in the Alladoand Salonga were "utterly
insufficient" to support a finding of probable cause, the same cannot be said of the
present case.
We stress that Alladoand Salonga constitute exceptions to the general rule and may be
invoked only if similar circumstances are clearly shown to exist. But as the foregoing
comparisons show, such similarities are absent in the instant case. Hence, the rulings in
the two aforementioned cases cannot apply to it.
Motion Without Requisite Notice

One more thing, Petitioners aver that Private Respondent Cerbo did not give them a copy of the
Motion to Quash the Warrant of Arrest, which had been issued against him, or a notice of the
scheduled hearing. Thus, they contend, Judge Valles should not have entertained such motion.
It is settled that every written motion in a trial court must be set for hearing by the applicant and
served with the notice of hearing thereof, in such a manner as to ensure its receipt by the other party.
The provisions on this matter in Section 4 and 5, Rule 15 of the Rules of the Court, 23 ᄃ are
categorical and mandatory character. 24 ᄃ Under Section 6 of the said rule, no motion
shall be acted upon by the court without proof of service thereof. The rationale for this
rule is simple: unless the movants set the time and the place of hearing, the court will be
unable to determine whether the adverse parties agree or object to the motions, since the
rules themselves do not fix any period within which they may file their replies or
oppositions.25 ᄃ
The motion to quash the warrant of arrest in the present case being pro forma, inasmuch
as the requisite copy and notice were not duly served upon the adverse party, the trial
court had no authority to act on it.
Epilogue
In granting this petition, we are not prejudging the criminal case or the guilt or innocence of Private
Respondent Billy Cerbo. We simply saying that, as a general rule, if the information is valid on its face
and there is no showing of manifest error, grave abuse of discretion or prejudice on the part of the
public prosecutor, courts should not dismiss it for 'want of evidence,' because evidentiary matters
should be presented and heard during the trial. The functions and duties of both the trial court and the
public prosecutor in "the proper scheme of things" in our criminal justice system should be clearly
understood.
The rights of the people from what could sometimes be an ''oppressive" exercise of government
prosecutorial powers do need to be protected when circumstances so require. But just as we recognize
this need, we also acknowledge that the State must likewise be accorded due process. Thus, when
there is no showing of nefarious irregularity or manifest error in the performance of a public
prosecutor's duties, courts ought to refrain from interfering with such lawfully and judicially mandated
duties.
In any case, if there was palpable error or grave abuse of discretion in the public prosecutor's finding
of probable cause, the accused can appeal such finding to the justice secretary 26 ᄃ and move for the
deferment or suspension of the proceeding until such appeal is resolved.
WHEREFORE, the petition is GRANTED. The assailed Decision of the Court of Appeals is hereby
REVERSED and SET ASIDE. The case is REMANDED to the Regional Trial Court of Nabunturan,
Davao, which is ordered to reinstate the amended information against Private Respondent Billy Cerbo
and to proceed with judicious speed in hearing the case. No. costs.1âwphi1.nêt
SO ORDERED.

A.M. No. MTJ-02-1398 February 27, 2002


JOSELITO R. ENRIQUEZ, complainant,
vs.
JUDGE PLACIDO B. VALLARTA, Municipal Circuit Trial Court (MCTC), Cabiao- San Isidro,
Nueva Ecija, respondent.
DECISION
MENDOZA, J.:
This is a complaint against Judge Placido B. Vallarta, Presiding Judge of the Municipal Circuit Trial
Court (MCTC), Cabiao-San Isidro, Nueva Ecija, for falsification of certificates of service, gross
ignorance of the law, and grave abuse of authority and discretion, in connection with his handling of
Criminal Case No. 215-98, entitled "People of the Philippines vs. Venancio Santos." The complainant,
Atty. Joselito R. Enriquez, was counsel for the accused in Criminal Case No. 215-98 for malicious
mischief, before the court of respondent judge. The criminal case involved the alleged malicious
cutting by the accused Venancio Santos of the branches of a tamarind tree worth ₱20,000.00. Since the
penalty for the crime under Art. 329 (1) of the Revised Penal Code is arresto mayor, or from one (1)
month and one (1) day to six (6) months, the case is governed by the Revised Rule on Summary
Procedure.
Complainant claims in the case at bar that respondent judge allowed the prosecution of the case to be
conducted by a private prosecutor without the participation of a public prosecutor. He further alleges
that upon the conclusion of the case, respondent judge ordered the parties to submit memoranda,
which is prohibited under §19(f) of the Revised Rule on Summary Procedure. It appears that
complainant complied with the submission of the memorandum, but the private prosecutor did not. On
March 28, 2000, noting the failure of the prosecution to file a memorandum, respondent judge
considered the case submitted for decision.
Respondent judge subsequently found complainant’s client guilty of the crime charged and sentenced
him to 25 days of imprisonment without costs. The decision, dated April 27, 2002, was actually
promulgated on September 26, 2000. Complainant claims that respondent judge might have falsified
his Certificate of Service for the period covering June to September 2000 by not stating that the case
in question was still pending decision despite the lapse of the 90-day period prescribed in Art. VIII,
§15(1) of the Constitution. The case is now before the Regional Trial Court of Gapan, Nueva Ecija in
view of the appeal of the accused.
In his comment, respondent judge argues that the appearance and intervention of a private prosecutor
in the criminal case is authorized by Rule 110, §5 of the 1985 Rules of Criminal Procedure (now
Revised Rules of Criminal Procedure), as held in People v. Beriales.1 ᄃ As for his order requiring the
parties to submit their memoranda, respondent judge says that what he actually meant was for them to
submit a "position paper." Respondent judge explained that such lapse was due to the fact that he had
so many things to do, having been assigned to three courts and holding daily hearings. Finally, he
maintains that the decision, dated April 27, 2000, was rendered within 30 days counted from the order,
dated March 28, 2000, as provided in the Revised Rule on Summary Procedure.
The Office of the Court Administrator found the explanation of respondent judge on the use of
"memorandum" as merely a lapse in language and agreed that the intervention of a private prosecutor
was authorized under the Rules of Criminal Procedure. However, it found respondent liable for his
failure to timely decide the case within 30 days from the date it was submitted for decision and
recommended that respondent be ordered to pay a fine of ₱1,000.00 with warning that a repetition of
the same offense will be dealt with more severely.
First.We agree with the Office of the Court Administrator that respondent judge cannot be faulted for
allowing the intervention of a private prosecutor in the trial of Criminal Case No. 215-98.
Rule 110, §5 of the Revised Rules of Criminal Procedure (2000) provides:
All criminal actions commenced by a complaint or information shall be prosecuted under the direction
and control of the prosecutor. However, in Municipal Trial Courts or Municipal Circuit Trial Courts
when the prosecutor assigned thereto or to the case is not available, the offended party, any peace
officer or public officer charged with the enforcement of the law violated may prosecute the case. This
authority shall cease upon actual intervention of the prosecutor or upon elevation of the case to the
Regional Trial Court. . . . (emphasis supplied)
Absent any showing to the contrary, it will be presumed that official duty was regularly performed.
This presumption is reinforced in this case by the fact that complainant, as counsel for the accused,
failed to object to the absence of the public prosecutor, giving rise to the presumption that the
intervention of a private prosecutor was due to the unavailability of the public prosecutor. By failing to
make a timely objection, complainant must be deemed to have waived his objection to the proceedings
before respondent judge.
Second.The Revised Rule on Summary Procedure provides in pertinent parts:
Section 1. Scope. – This rule shall govern the summary procedure in the Metropolitan Trial Courts, the
Municipal Trial Courts in Cities, the Municipal Trial Courts, and the Municipal Circuit Trial Courts in
the following cases falling within their jurisdiction:
....
B. Criminal Cases:
....
(4) All other criminal cases where the penalty prescribed by law for the offense charged is
imprisonment not exceeding six months or a fine not exceeding one thousand pesos (₱1,000.00), or
both, irrespective of other imposable penalties, accessory or otherwise, or of the civil liability arising
therefrom, . . .
Sec. 19. Prohibited pleadings and motions. –The following pleadings, motions or petitions shall not be
allowed in the cases covered by this Rule:
....
(f) memoranda, . . . (emphasis supplied)
By directing the filing of memoranda in the criminal case, respondent judge evidently was unaware
that a requirement to submit a memorandum is prohibited in a summary proceeding. The purpose of
the prohibition is to carry out the objective of the Revised Rule on Summary Procedure to promote the
"expeditious and inexpensive determination" of small or simple cases, such as the criminal case at bar
which, as already stated, simply involved the cutting of the branches of a tamarind tree by the accused.
The explanation of respondent judge that what he really meant was a "position paper" and he only
stated in his order "memorandum" through inadvertence cannot be accepted by the Court. Such
mistake cannot be an innocuous one because a position paper is required at the beginning of the case,
after the filing by the parties of their affidavits constituting their evidence. 2 ᄃ On the other hand, a
memorandum is one which other trial courts may require at the conclusion of a trial. 3 ᄃ What is more,
the provision on position papers applies to civil cases only. In criminal cases, no provision for a
position paper is allowed for the reason that after the filing of affidavits and counter-affidavits the
court is required to proceed with the trial of the case.4 ᄃ Consequently, respondent judge’s excuse that
what he meant was a "position paper" and not a memorandum is even more revealing of his
unawareness of the applicable rules.
That respondent judge had a heavy caseload cannot justify his failure to observe a provision that
particularly applies to him. The Code of Judicial Conduct pertinently provides:
Rule 3.01. – A judge shall be faithful to the law and maintain professional competence. (emphasis
supplied)
Canon 18 of the Code of Judicial Ethics is equally clear:
Canon 18. INFLUENCE OF DECISIONS UPON THE DEVELOPMENT OF THE LAW
A judge should be mindful that his duty is the application of general law to particular instances, that
ours is a government of laws and not of men, and that he violates his duty as a minister of justice
under such a system if he seeks to do what he may personally consider substantial justice in a
particular case and disregards the general law as he knows it to be binding on him . Such action may
become a precedent unsettling accepted principles and may have detrimental consequences beyond the
immediate controversy. He should administer his office with a due regard to the integrity of the system
of the law itself, remembering that he is not a depository of arbitrary power, but a judge under the
sanction of law. (emphasis supplied)
Considering, however, that complainant failed to object to the order requiring the parties to file
memoranda and that generally the prohibition is intended for the benefit of the prosecutor, a fine of
₱1,000.00 will suffice for the purposes of this case.
Third.As to the failure of respondent judge to promulgate the decision on the criminal case within the
period provided under the Revised Rule on Summary Procedure, we find the report and
recommendation of the Office of the Court Administrator to be well taken.
Article VIII, §15 of the Constitution requires courts to decide cases submitted for decision generally
within three (3) months from the date of submission, unless the period is reduced by this Court. With
respect to cases falling under the Revised Rule on Summary Procedure, promulgated by this Court to
implement the constitutional provision on the speedy disposition of cases, first level courts are
allowed only 30 days following the receipt of the last affidavit and position paper, or the expiration of
the period for filing the same, within which to render judgment. 5 ᄃ
The Revised Rule on Summary Procedure provides in §17 that the lower court shall promulgate the
judgment not later than 30 days after the termination of the trial.1âwphi1 In Criminal Case No. 215-
98, the trial was terminated on January 17, 2000, per the order of respondent judge himself. However,
respondent’s decision was promulgated only on September 26, 2000. Therefore, the promulgation of
the judgment took place 253 days after the termination of the trial. Even if the trial was terminated on
February 29, 2000, when the parties were supposed to submit their "memorandum," the promulgation
of the judgment would still be beyond the limit of 30 days, being 210 days after the termination of the
trial.
Indeed, although the decision was dated April 27, 2000, no reason has been given why it was not
promulgated shortly after that date, but only after five months from the date the decision was allegedly
written. "Promulgation of judgment" means the reading of the judgment or sentence in the presence of
the accused and the judge of the court who rendered it. 6 ᄃ It is not the date of the writing of the
decision or judgment, as respondent claims. From March 28, 2000, when the case was submitted for
decision, to September 26, 2000, when the decision was promulgated, was a period of 182 days.
Clearly, this is way beyond the period allowed by the rules.
Respondent’s failure to decide the case on time constitutes a violation of Canon 3, Rule 3.05 of the
Code of Judicial Conduct, which enjoins judges to dispose of their business promptly and decide cases
within the required period.7 ᄃ The need to decide cases promptly and expeditiously cannot be
overemphasized, for justice delayed is justice denied. Delay in the disposition of cases undermines the
people’s faith and confidence in the judiciary. Hence, the failure of judges to render judgment within
the required period constitutes gross inefficiency, warranting the imposition of administrative
sanctions on them.8 ᄃ For this lapse, respondent should be fined ₱1,000.00.
WHEREFORE, Judge Placido B. Vallarta is found guilty of ignorance of the law and delay in the
disposition of cases and is hereby ordered to pay a fine of ₱2,000.00, with admonition to be more
conscientious and prompt in the performance of his duties and with warning that repetition of similar
infractions will be sanctioned more severely.
SO ORDERED.

[G.R. No. 91513 : December 21, 1990.]


192 SCRA 663
THE PEOPLE OF THE PHILIPPINES, Plaintiff-Appellee,vs. GERONIMO GOLES,
Defendant-Appellant.

DECISION

GANCAYCO, J.:

The conviction of the defendant-appellant Geronimo Goles for the rape of a 20-year
old mental retardate is the subject of this appeal.
The facts of this case as found by the trial court are as follows —
On October 11, 1987 at about 3 o'clock in the afternoon, the victim Jessie Sajol, a
20-year old mental retardate, while on her way to the house of Ernesto Paragsa, met
the appellant along the road. The appellant took hold of the victim, dragged her
away from the road brought her to a nearby grassy area and forced her to the
ground. The appellant managed to pull down the victim's kneepants and underpants
after which he took off his pants. The victim tried to run away while the appellant
was removing his pants but he pulled her closer to him and threatened her with a
bolo and said that he would kill her if she would resist. While the victim was lying on
the ground, the appellant opened her legs, boxed her thigh and succeeded in having
sexual intercourse with her. Thereafter, Maria Sajol, the mother of the victim, saw
her daughter crying, along the road, near the scene of the incident. When queried by
her mother, the victim declared she was raped by Geronimo Goles, the appellant.
She immediately brought her daughter to the house of Goles, who, when confronted,
denied having raped her. Hence, mother and daughter reported the matter to the
police before whom they executed their respective affidavits. 1
The following day the victim and her mother went to see Dr. Manuel C. Ozaraga who
conducted a physical examination of the victim, with the following results:
"MEDICAL CERTIFICATE
"Jessie N. Sajol, 20 yrs. old, single residing at Nazareth, Sta. Juana, Tagbina,
Surigao del Sur examined by the undersigned on Tuesday October 12, 1987
at about 11:45 AM with the following findings:
"The patient is mentally retarded.
White curdish discharges on the left and right labia majora inner portion.
Tenderness when one finger was attempted to be inserted in the vaginal
canal.: nad
Bleeding dominant on the porterior vaginal wall.
Discharges mucoid in nature coming from the vaginal canal mixed with blood.
Discharges also noted on the cervical mucosa.
Laboratory examination revealed negative finding for sperm.
Impression: compatible with rape.
(Sgd.) MANUEL C. OZARAGA, M.D.
Attending Physician" 2
On October 19, 1987, a criminal complaint signed by Maria N. Sajol and Jessie Sajol
with the conformity of the Station Commander, Conrado A. Oraiz, was filed in the
Office of the Provincial Fiscal of Surigao del Sur. 3
On October 20, 1987, an information was filed in the Regional Trial Court of Bislig,
Surigao del Sur, Br. 29 accusing Geronimo Goles of the crime of rape committed
against Jessie Sajol. 4
On October 31, 1987, the appellant was arrested and detained at the provincial jail
of Bislig. At his arraignment on January 22, 1988, he entered a plea of not guilty.
Trial ensued.
The court a quo rendered judgment on November 3, 1988 finding the appellant guilty
beyond reasonable doubt of the crime of rape, sentencing him to a penalty of
reclusion perpetua and ordering him to pay the aggrieved party Jessie Sajol the
amount of P30,000.00 as moral damages and P5,000.00 as exemplary damages. 5
In the appeal before Us, the appellant assigns the following errors:
1) that the trial court had no jurisdiction to hear the case because the information
was not signed by the complainant, and
2) that the guilt of the appellant was not proved beyond reasonable doubt.
Anent the first assignment of error, the appellant avers that the information accusing
him of the crime of rape was not signed by the complainant or by her parents;
hence, the lower court did not acquire jurisdiction to try and decide the case. In
support of this theory, appellant cites Section 5, Rule 110, 1985 of the Rules on
Criminal Procedure, as amended, which provides that "the offenses of seduction,
abduction, rape or acts of lasciviousness shall not be prosecuted except upon a
complaint filed by the offended party or her parents, grandparents, or guardian, . . ."
The Court had occasion to reject this argument. The requirement that the offense of
rape must be prosecuted upon complaint filed by the offended party is found in
Article 344 of the Revised Penal Code 6 and the aforestated Section 5 of Rule 110.
Expounding on the meaning and significance of this requirement, this Court held in
People vs. Hon. Santiago Tañada 7 —
". . . In the 1966 case of Valdepenas v. People this Court through then
Associate, later Chief Justice Roberto Concepcion clarified:
. . . It is true that pursuant to the third paragraph of Art. 344 of the Revised
Penal Code,
. . . the offenses of seduction, abduction, rape or acts of lasciviousness, shall
not be prosecuted except upon a complaint filed by the offended party or her
parents . . .
The provision does not determine, however, the jurisdiction of our courts over
the offenses therein enumerated. It could not affect said jurisdiction, because
the same is governed by the Judiciary Act of 1948, not by the Revised Penal
Code, which deals primarily with the definition of crimes and the factors
pertinent to the punishment of the culprit. The complaint required in said
Article is merely a condition precedent to the exercise by the proper
authorities of the power to prosecute the guilty parties. And such condition
has been imposed out of consideration for the offended woman and her family
who might prefer to suffer the outrage in silence rather than go through with
the scandal of a public trial.
xxx
This ruling was followed in the subsequent case of People v. Babasa where
the Court, citing the Valdepenas case, ruled that Article 344 was not enacted
for the specific purpose of benefiting the accused. When it is said that the
requirement in Article 344 that there should be a complaint of the offended
party or her relatives is jurisdictional, what is meant is that it is the complaint
that starts the prosecutory proceeding. It is not the complaint which confers
jurisdiction on the Court to try the case. The court's jurisdiction is vested in it
by the Judiciary Law."chanrobles virtual law library
In the case at bar, the prosecution for the crime of rape was commenced by the
filing of the criminal complaint which was signed not only by the complainant but
also by her mother in accordance with Rule 115, Section 5 considering that the
complainant is mentally incompetent. 8 This criminal complaint was the basis for the
preliminary investigation conducted by the fiscal and the subsequent filing of the
information in court. Nowhere in the law is it required that the complainant likewise
sign and verify the information for rape filed by the fiscal. 9 Indeed, the very
information filed by the fiscal reads:
"The undersigned, on complaint under oath, hereby accuses GERONIMO
GOLES of the crime of RAPE, committed as follows:
That on or about the 11th day of October, 1987, at about 3:00 o'clock
in the afternoon, more or less, at Sitio Nazareth, barangay Sta Juana,
municipality of Tagbina, province of Surigao del Sur, Philippines, and
within the jurisdiction of this Honorable Court, the above-named
accused, armed with a bolo, with the use, intimidation and violence,
did, then and there, willfully, unlawfully and feloniously have carnal
knowledge with the complainant Jessie Sajol against her will and
consent, to the damage and prejudice in the following amounts to wit:
P30,000.00 as moral damages; and
P 5,000.00 as exemplary damages.
CONTRARY TO LAW: (Article 335 of the Revised Penal Code)." 10
The Court takes note of the reference in the first paragraph to the sworn complaint
of the offended party filed with the fiscal by the phrase "on complaint under oath."
This goes to show that said criminal complaint was in effect reproduced as part of
the information.
During the trial said complaint of the offended party was presented in evidence
marked as Exhibits B-B. 11 There was thus sufficient compliance with the
requirement of the law and the trial court correctly assumed jurisdiction over the
case.
Indeed, in the case of People vs. Sunpongco, 12 where the criminal complaint filed
by the offended party for the purpose of preliminary investigation was not presented
in evidence during the trial and where the information was filed by the fiscal, this
Court ruled that the trial court can take judicial notice of the complaint that was
forwarded with the records of the preliminary investigation to the court, without
necessity of its formal introduction in evidence.
The appellant, in his second assignment of error, points out that the trial court failed
to prove his guilt beyond reasonable doubt. For his defense, he claims that he and
the supposed aggrieved party are sweethearts and at the time of the alleged
commission of the crime, they purposely met pursuant to an agreement. He further
alleged that there was consent to have sexual intercourse but the act was not
consummated because of the arrival of the mother of complainant. This was in fact
confirmed by the mother of complainant who testified that he merely used his finger
and by the medical certificate which indicated that no sperm was found. There was
also no sign of injury on the victim negating the theory that there was a struggle by
the victim or that force was employed on her person. There was not even a torn
dress presented as evidence. Even the complainant's alleged mental retardedness is
contradicted by her membership in different social and religious organizations in the
community.
The arguments raised by appellant are devoid of merit.
The appellant would have the Court believe that he and the victim are sweethearts
who mutually consented to have sexual intercourse, but like in many other rape
cases 13 where this same defense had been raised, the Court is not persuaded. He
did not present any proof like a letter or a ring perhaps, to support his allegation that
he and the victim are sweethearts. Despite his claim that they met for the first two
times at the house of his uncle, he did not present said uncle or any other member
of the household to prove his theory. The further fact that the victim is a mental
retardate makes his story incredible. In her defective state of mind, complainant
could not have induced appellant to nurture a desire to have her for a sweet heart.
Besides, she could not have possessed the capacity to understand the meaning of
having such a relationship with him. 14
It does not appear that the complainant or her mother has any ill-motive to falsely
testify against the appellant. 15 Indeed if the charge was not true, the victim's
mother would not have rushed to appellant's house to confront him and, immediately
thereafter, reported the matter to the authorities. As held in one case where the
victim was also a mental retardate, it would be preposterous to assume that the
victim, whose intelligence quotient is admittedly low, could have concocted the grave
charge of rape, or that she and her mother would go into the trouble of having her
medically examined, going to court and advertising to the whole world she had been
raped if the charge was merely invented. 16
Moreover, the testimony of the mother corroborates the story of the victim. She saw
her daughter crying along the road who immediately told her mother what
transpired. If there was no truth to the charge, the victim would not have been in
such a state and she would not have told her mother that she was raped ("gilogos" in
the Visayan dialect) by the appellant. 17 Mrs. Sajol even saw for herself the exact
spot where the crime happened with the cogon grass still pressed down. The trial
court correctly considered the statements made by the victim to her mother
immediately after the incident as part of the res gestae. 18
As to the appellant's argument that the victim's mother confirmed his claim that he
did not rape her, the records show that the victim's mother testified that "Geronimo
Goles told us that, I did not rape her but I just used my fingers." 19 This is mere
hearsay since she only repeated what the appellant told her when he was confronted
and this in no way confirms his allegation that he merely used his fingers. At most,
this is a self-serving statement which cannot prevail over the categorical statement
of the victim that the accused inserted his penis inside her vagina. 20
Relative to the finding that no sperm was found, it has been repeatedly held that the
presence of sperm cells is not indispensable to prove the offense of rape. 21 The
examination disclosed that there was bleeding dominant on the porterior vaginal wall
as well as discharges, mucoid in nature, coming from the vaginal canal mixed with
blood and discharges on the cervical mucosa which would indicate that there was
penetration of the victim's vagina. In fact, the attending physician concluded that the
condition of the victim is compatible with rape. The victim likewise testified that she
felt pain in her vagina during coitus and that she was bleeding after the incident. 22
Besides, by the time the examination was conducted, the victim had already washed
her private parts and had urinated several times thus washing away the sperms
which may have been present in her vaginal canal. 23
The absence of injury on the person of the victim does not negate rape. 24 It is a
doctrine well-settled that in order to consider the existence of the crime of rape, it is
not necessary that the force and/or intimidation employed in accomplishing be it
great or of such character as could not be resisted, it is only necessary that the force
and intimidation used by the culprit be sufficient to consummate the purpose which
he had in mind. 25 The victim had initially resisted the advances of the appellant and
she even shouted twice for help; however, the appellant threatened to kill her if she
did not consent and at the time he had in his possession a bolo. The threat to her life
was sufficient to instill in the childlike mind of the victim a fear so great that she had
no choice but to give in to the lustful desires of the appellant. The positive
declaration of complainant that the appellant threatened to kill her should be given
more weight than the simple denial of the accused. 26
The further fact that no torn dress was presented by the prosecution does not negate
rape. 27 The absence of a torn dress or panty is explained by the fact that the victim
no longer offered any resistance by reason of the intimidation employed upon her by
the appellant.: nad
At any rate, physical intimidation prior to sexual intercourse is not necessary for rape
to be committed considering the mental deficiency of the victim such that she is
incapable of giving consent to the sexual act. 28 It is for this reason that the
appellant makes much of the alleged membership of the victim in different social and
religious organizations to counter her supposed deficient mental state. From the
testimony of the victim's mother, it can be seen that she is a member of a church
organization and as such member she helps in cleaning and weeding the church
premises, 29 activities which a mental retardate is not incapable of doing. The fact
that the victim is a mental retardate should not stop her or her parents from making
her useful to the community.
Indeed, the trial court found the version of the prosecution to be more credible,
which finding is amply supported by the evidence on record, for which reason the
Court upholds the judgment of the court a quo finding the appellant guilty beyond
reasonable doubt of the offense of rape as charged.
The indemnity awarded should be increased to P40,000.00.
WHEREFORE, with the above modification as to the indemnity, the judgment of
conviction is hereby AFFIRMED in all other respect, with costs against the appellant.
SO ORDERED.

G.R. No. 118971 September 15, 1999


RODOLFO R. VASQUEZ,petitioner,
vs.
COURT OF APPEALS, THE REGIONAL TRIAL COURT OF MANILA BRANCH 40, and
THE PEOPLE OF THE PHILIPPINES,respondents.

MENDOZA, J.:
The question for determination in this case is the liability for libel of a citizen who denounces a
barangay official for misconduct in office. The Regional Trial Court of Manila, Branch 40, found
petitioner guilty and fined him P1,000.00 on the ground that petitioner failed to prove the truth of the
charges and that he was "motivated by vengeance in uttering the defamatory statement." On appeal,
the Court of Appeals, in a decision 1 dated February 1, 1995, affirmed. Hence, this petition for
review. The decision appealed from should be reversed.

The facts are not in dispute. Petitioner Rodolfo R. Vasquez is a resident of the Tondo
Foreshore Area. Sometime in April 1986, he and some 37 families from the area went to
see then National Housing Authority (NHA) General Manager Lito Atienza regarding
their complaint against their Barangay Chairman, Jaime Olmedo. After their meeting with
Atienza and other NHA officials, petitioner and his companions were met and
interviewed by newspaper reporters at the NHA compound concerning their complaint.
The next day, April 22, 1986, the following news article 2 appeared in the newspaper Ang
Tinig ng Masa:
Nananawagan kahapon kay pangulong Corazon Aquino ang 38 mahihirap na pamilya sa
Tondo Foreshore Area na umano'y inagawan ng lupa ng kanilang barangay chairman sa
pakikipagsabwatan sa ilang pinuno ng National Housing Authority sapul 1980.
Sinabi nila na nakipagsabwatan umano si Chairman Jaime Olmedo ng barangay 66, Zone 6, Tondo
Foreshore Area, sa mga project manager ng NHA upang makamkam ang may 14 na lote ng lupa sa
naturang lugar.
Binanggit ni Rodolfo R. Vasquez, 40, Tagapagsalita ng (mga) pamilyang apektado, na umaabot lang sa
487.87 metro kuwadrado ang kabuuan ng mga lupa na kinatitirikan ng mga barung-barung ng 38
pamilya.
"Naninirahan na kami sa mga lupang nabanggit sapul 1950 at pinatunayan sa mga survey ng NHA
noong nakalipas na taon na may karapatan kami sa mga lupang ito ng pamahalaan," ani Vasquez.
"Pawang lupa ng gobyerno ang mga lupa at ilegal man na patituluhan, nagawa ito ni Olmedo sa
pakikipagsabwatan sa mga project manager at legal officers ng NHA," sabi ni Vasquez.
Sinabi rin ng mga pamilya na protektado ng dating pinuno ng city hall ng Maynila, MHS Minister
Conrado Benitez, at ilang pinuno ng pulisya ang barangay chairman kaya "nakalusot" ang mga ginawa
nitong katiwalian.
Bukod sa pagkamkam ng mga lupaing gobyerno, kasangkot din umano si Olmedo sa mga ilegal na
pasugalan sa naturang lugar at maging sa mga nakawan ng manok.1âwphi1.nêt
"Sapin-sapin na ang mga kaso na idinulog namin noong nakalipas na mga taon, pero pinawalang
saysay ang lahat ng iyon, kabilang na ang tangkang pagpatay sa akin kaugnay ng pagrereklamo sa
pangangamkam ng lupa noong 1984," sabi pa ni Vasquez.
Based on the newspaper article, Olmedo filed a complaint for libel against petitioner alleging that the
latter's statements cast aspersions on him and damaged his reputation. After conducting preliminary
investigation, the city prosecutor filed the following information in the Regional Trial Court of
Manila, Branch 40:
The undersigned accuses RODOLFO R. VASQUEZ of the crime of libel committed as follows:
That on or about April 22, 1986, in the city of Manila, Philippines, the said accused, with malicious
intent of impeaching the reputation and character of one Jaime Olmedo, chairman of Barangay 66,
Zone 6 in Tondo, Manila, and with evident intent of exposing him to public hatred, contempt, ridicule,
did then and there willfully, unlawfully, feloniously and maliciously caused the publication of an
article entitled "38 Pamilya Inagawan ng Lupa" in Ang Tinig ng Masa, a daily newspaper sold to the
public and of general circulation in the Philippines in its April 22, 1986 issue, which portion of the
said article reads as follows:
Nananawagan kahapon kay pangulong Corazon Aquino ang 38 mahihirap na pamilya sa Tondo
Foreshore Area na umano'y inagawan ng lupa ng kanilang barangay chairman sa pakikipagsabwatan
sa ilang pinuno ng National Housing Authority sapul 1980.
Sinabi nila na nakipagsabwatan umano si Chairman Jaime Olmedo ng barangay 66, Zone 6, Tondo
Foreshore Area sa mga project manager ng NHA upang makamkam ang may 14 na lote ng lupa sa
naturang lugar.
. . . "Pawang lupa ng gobyerno ang mga lupa at ilegal man na patituluhan, nagawa ito ni Olmedo sa
pakikipagsabwatan sa mga project manager at legal officers ng NHA," sabi ni Vasquez.
Sinabi rin ng mga pamilya na protektado ng dating pinuno ng city hall ng Maynila, MHS Minister
Conrado Benitez, at ilang pinuno ng pulisya ang barangay chairman kaya "nakalusot" ang mga ginawa
nitong katiwalian.
Bukod sa pagkamkam ng mga lupaing gobyerno, kasangkot din umano si Olmedo sa mga ilegal na
pasugalan sa naturang lugar at maging sa mga nakawan ng manok. . . .
with which statements, the said accused meant and intended to convey, as in fact he did mean and
convey false and malicious imputations that said Jaime Olmedo is engaged in landgrabbing and
involved in illegal gambling and stealing of chickens at the Tondo Foreshore Area, Tondo, Manila,
which statements, as he well knew, were entirely false and malicious, offensive and derogatory to the
good name, character and reputation of said Jaime Olmedo, thereby tending to impeach besmirch and
destroy the honor, character and reputation of Jaime Olmedo, as in fact, the latter was exposed to
dishonor, discredit, public hatred, contempt and ridicule.
Contrary to law.
Upon being arraigned, petitioner entered a plea of not guilty, whereupon the case was tried. The
prosecution presented Barangay Chairman Olmedo and his neighbor, Florentina Calayag, as witnesses.
On the other hand, the defense presented Ciriaco Cabuhat, Nicasio Agustin, Estrelita Felix, Fernando
Rodriguez — all residents of the Tondo Foreshore Area — and petitioner as its witnesses.
On May 28, 1992, the trail court rendered judgment finding petitioner guilty of libel and sentencing
him to pay a fine of P1,000.00. On appeal, the Court of Appeals affirmed in toto. Hence, this petition
for review. Petitioner contends that —
I. THE COURT OF APPEALS ERRED IN AFFIRMING THE DECISION OF THE TRIAL COURT
PINPOINTING PETITIONER AS THE SOURCE OF THE ALLEGED LIBELOUS ARTICLE.
II. THE COURT OF APPEALS ERRED IN AFFIRMING THE DECISION OF THE TRIAL COURT
THAT PETITIONER IMPUTED THE QUESTIONED ACTS TO COMPLAINANT.
III. THE COURT OF APPEALS ERRED IN AFFIRMING THE DECISION OF THE TRIAL COURT
THAT THE ALLEGED IMPUTATIONS WERE MADE MALICIOUSLY.
IV. THE COURT OF APPEALS ERRED IN AFFIRMING THE DECISION OF THE TRIAL COURT
WHICH FAILED TO APPRECIATE PETITIONER'S DEFENSE OF TRUTH.
V. THE COURT OF APPEALS ERRED IN AFFIRMING THE DECISION OF THE TRIAL COURT
THAT ALL THE ELEMENTS OF LIBEL WERE PROVEN.
We will deal with these contentions in the order in which they are made.
First. Petitioner claims he was "unfairly singled out" as the source of the statements in the article
when any members of the 38 complainant-families could have been the source of the alleged libelous
statements. 3 The reference is to the following portion of the decision of the Court of
Appeals:
. . . In his sworn statement; appellant admitted he was the source of the libelous article
(Exh. "B"). He affirmed this fact when he testified in open court as follows: That his
allegation on the act of landgrabbing by Olmedo was based on the alleged report and
pronouncements of the NHA representatives (p. 5, tsn, Oct. 18, 1998); the said allegations
were made by him before the local press people in the pursuit of fairness and truthfulness
and not in bad faith (pp. 8-9, id.); that the only inaccurate account in the published article
of "Ang Tinig ng Masa" is the reference to the 487.87 sq.m. lot, on which Olmendo's
residence now stands, attributed by the reporter as the lot currently occupied by the
appellants and his fellow complainants (pp. 4-5, tsn, Nov. 15, 1989; pp. 4-5, tsn, January
15, 1990); and that after the interview, he never expected that his statements would be the
cause of the much-publicized libelous article (pp. 4-6, tsn, Nov. 15, 1989). 4

It is true petitioner did not directly admit that he was the source of the statements in the
questioned article. What he said in his own sworn statement 5 was that the contents of the
article are true in almost all respects, thus:
9. Tama and nakalathala sa pahayagang "Ang Masa" maliban na lang sa tinukoy na ako at
ang mga kasamahang maralitang taga-lungsod ay nakitira sa humugit kumulang 487.87
square meters sapagkat ang nabanggit na 487.87 square meters ay siyang kinatitirikan ng
bahay ni Barangay Chairman Olmedo kung saan nakaloob ang anim na lote — isang
paglabag sa batas o regulasyon ng NHA;
10. Ang ginawa kong pahayag na nailathala sa "Ang Masa" ay sanhi ng aking nais na maging
mabuting mamamayan at upang maituwid ang mga katiwaliang nagaganap sa Tondo Foreshore Area
kung saan ako at sampu ng aking mga kasamang maralitang taga-lungsod ay apektado at naapi.
This was likewise what he stated in his testimony in court both on the direct 6 and on cross-
examination. 7 However, by claiming that what he had told the reporter was made by him
in the performance of a civic duty, petitioner in effect admitted authorship of the article
and not only of the statements attributed to him therein, to wit:
"Pawang lupa ng gobyerno ang mga lupa at ilegal man na patituluhan, nagawa ito ni
Olmedo sa pakikipagsabwatan sa mga project manager at legal officers ng NHA," sabi ni
Vasquez.
xxx xxx xxx
"Sapin-sapin na ang mga kaso na idinulog namin noong nakalipas na mga taon, pero pinawalang
saysay ang lahat ng iyon, kabilang na ang tangkang pagpatay sa akin kaugnay ng pagrereklamo sa
pangangamkam ng lupa noong 1984," sabi pa ni Vasquez.

Petitioner cannot claim to have been the source of only a few statements in the article in
question and point to the other parties as the source of the rest, when he admits that he
was correctly identified as the spokesperson of the families during the interview.
Second. Petitioner points out that the information did not set out the entire news article as published.
In fact, the second statement attributed to petitioner was not included in the information. But, while
the general rule is that the information must set out the particular defamatory words verbatim and as
published and that a statement of their substance is insufficient, 8 a defect in this regard may be
cured by evidence. 9 In this case, the article was presented in evidence, but petitioner
failed to object to its introduction. Instead, he engaged in the trial of the entire article, not
only of the portions quoted in the information, and sought to prove it to be true. In doing
so, he waived objection based on the defect in the information. Consequently, he cannot
raise this issue at this late stage. 10

Third. On the main issue whether petitioner is guilty of libel, petitioner contends that
what he said was true and was made with good motives and for justifiable ends.
To find a person guilty of libel under Art. 353 of the Revised Penal Code, the following elements must
be proved: (a) the allegation of a discreditable act or condition concerning another; (b) publication of
the charge (c) identity of the person defamed; and (d) existence of malice. 11

An allegation is considered defamatory if it ascribes to a person the commission of a


crime, the possession of a vice or defect, real or imaginary, or any act, omission,
condition, status or circumstances which tends to dishonor or discredit or put him in
contempt, or which tends to blacken the memory of one who is dead. 12

There is publication if the material is communicated to a third person. 13 It is not


required that the person defamed has read or heard about the libelous remark. What is
material is that a third person has read or heard the libelous statement, for "a man's
reputation is the estimate in which others hold him in, not the good opinion which he has
of himself." 14

On the other hand, to satisfy the element of identifiability, it must be shown that at least a
third person or a stranger was able to identify him as the object of the defamatory
statement. 15

Finally, malice or ill will must be present. Art. 354 of the Revised Penal Code provides:
Every defamatory imputation is presumed to be malicious, even if it be true, if no good intention and
justifiable motive for making it is shown, except in the following cases:
1. A private communication made by any person to another in the performance of any legal, moral or
security duty; and
2. A fair and true report, made in good faith, without any comments or remarks, of any judicial,
legislative or other official proceedings which are not of confidential nature, or of any statement,
report or speech delivered in said proceedings, or of any other act performed by public officers in the
exercise of their functions.
In this case, there is no doubt that the first three elements are present. The statements that Olmedo,
through connivance with NHA officials, was able to obtain title to several lots in the area and that he
was involved in a number of illegal activities (attempted murder, gambling and theft of fighting cocks)
were clearly defamatory. There is no merit in his contention that "landgrabbing," as charged in the
information, has a technical meaning in law. 16 Such act is so alleged and proven in this case in
the popular sense in which it is understood by ordinary people. As held in United States v.
Sotto: 17
. . . [F]or the purpose of determining the meaning of any publication alleged to be
libelous "that construction must be adopted which will give to the matter such a meaning
as is natural and obvious in the plain and ordinary sense in which the public would
naturally understand what was uttered. The published matter alleged to be libelous must
be construed as a whole. In applying these rules to the language of an alleged libel, the
court will disregard any subtle or ingenious explanation offered by the publisher on being
called to account. The whole question being the effect the publication had upon the minds
of the readers, and they not having been assisted by the offered explanation in reading the
article, it comes too he to have the effect of removing the sting, if any there be, from the
words used in the publication.
Nor is there any doubt that the defamatory remarks referred to complainant and were published.
Petitioner caused the publication of the defamatory remarks when he made the statements to the
reporters who interviewed him. 18

The question is whether from the fact that the statements were defamatory, malice can be
presumed so that it was incumbent upon petitioner to overcome such presumption. Under
Art. 361 of the Revised Penal Code, if the defamatory statements is made against a public
official with respect to the discharge of his official duties and functions and the truth of
the allegation is shown, the accused will be entitled to an acquittal even though he does
not prove that the imputation was published with good motives and for justifiable ends.
19

In this case, contrary to the findings of the trial court, on which the Court of Appeals
relied, petitioner was able to prove the truth of his charges against the barangay official.
His allegation that, through connivance with NHA officials, complainant was able to
obtain title to several lots at the Tondo Foreshore Area was based on the letter 20 of NHA
Inspector General Hermogenes Fernandez to petitioner's counsel which reads:
09 August 1983
Atty. Rene V. Sarmiento
Free Legal Assistance Group (FLAG)
55 Third Street
New Manila, Quezon City
Dear Atty. Sarmiento:
In connection with your request, that you be furnished with a copy of the results of the investigation
regarding the complaints of some Tondo residents against Chairman Jaime Olmedo, we are providing
you a summary of the findings based on the investigation conducted by our Office which are as
follows:
1. Based on the subdivision plan of Block 260, SB 8, Area III, Jaime Olmedo's present structure is
constructed on six lots which were awarded before by the defunct Land Tenure Administration to
different persons as follows:
Lot 4 — Juana Buenaventura — 79.76 sq. m.
Lot 6 — Servando Simbulan — 48.50 sq. m.
Lot 7 — Alfredo Vasquez — 78.07 sq. m.
Lot 8 — Martin Gallardo — 78.13 sq. m.
Lot 9 — Daniel Bayan — 70.87 sq. m.
Lot 1 — Fortunato de Jesus — 85.08 sq. m. (OIT No. 7800)
The above-mentioned lots were not yet titled, except for Lot 1. Fortunato de Jesus sold the said lot to a
certain Jovita Bercasi, a sister-in-law of Jaime Olmedo. The other remaining lots were either sold to
Mr. Olmedo and/or to his immediate relatives.
Lot 14 is also titled in the name of Mariano Bercasi, father-in-law of Jaime Olmedo, with an area of
47.40 sq. m.
The lot assigned to Chairman Olmedo has a total area of 487.87 sq. m.
2. Block 261, SB 8, Area III
Lot No. 7 is titled in the name of Jaime Olmedo, consisting an area of 151.67 sq., m. A four-door
apartment owned by Mr. Olmedo is being rented to uncensused residents.
3. Block 262, SB 8, Area III
Lot No. 13 is allocated to Delfin Olmedo, nephew of Jaime Olmedo, but this lot is not yet titled.
4. Block 256, SB 5, Area III
Victoria Olmedo, uncensused, is a daughter of Jaime Olmedo. Her structure is erected on a non-titled
lot. The adjacent lot is titled in the name of Victoria. It was issued OCT No. 10217 with an area of
202.23 sq. m. Inside this compound is another structure owned and occupied by Amelia Dofredo, a
censused houseowner. The titled lot of Victoria now has an area of 338.20 sq. m.
For your information.
(s/t) HERMOGENES C. FERNANDEZ
Inspector General
Public Assistance & Action Office
In addition, petitioner acted on the basis of two memoranda, 21 both dated November 29, 1983,
of then NHA General Manager Gaudencio Tobias recommending the filing of
administrative charges against the NHA officials "responsible for the alleged irregular
consolidation of lots [in Tondo to Jaime and Victoria Olmedo.]"

With regard to the other imputations made by petitioner against complainant, it must be
noted that what petitioner stated was that various charges (for attempted murder against
petitioner, gambling, theft of fighting cocks) had been filed by the residents against their
barangay chairman but these had all been dismissed. Petitioner was able to show that
Olmedo's involvement in the theft of fighting cocks was the subject of an affidavit-
complaint, 22 dated October 19, 1983, signed by Fernando Rodriguez and Ben Lareza,
former barangay tanods of Barangay 66, Zone 6, Tondo. Likewise, petitioner presented a
resolution, 23 dated March 10, 1988, of the Office of the Special Prosecutor in TBP-87-
03694, stating that charges of malversation and corrupt practices had been filed against
Olmedo and nine (9) other barangay officials but the same were dismissed. Indeed, the
prosecution's own evidence bears out petitioner's statements. The prosecution presented
the resolution 24 in TBP Case No. 84-01854 dismissing the charge of attempted murder
filed by petitioner against Jaime Olmedo and his son-in-law, Jaime Reyes. The allegation
concerning this matter is thus true.1âwphi1.nêt

It was error for the trial court to hold that petitioner "only tried to prove that the
complainant [barangay chairman] is guilty of the crimes alluded to; accused, however,
has not proven that the complainant committed the crimes." For that is not what petitioner
said as reported in the Ang Tinig ng Masa. The fact that charges had been filed against the
barangay official, not the truth of such charges, was the issue.
In denouncing the barangay chairman in this case, petitioner and the other residents of the Tondo
Foreshore Area were not only acting in their self-interest but engaging in the performance of a civic
duty to see to it that public duty is discharged faithfully and well by those on whom such duty is
incumbent. The recognition of this right and duty of every citizen in a democracy is inconsistent with
any requirement placing on him the burden of proving that he acted with good motives and for
justifiable ends.
For that matter, even if the defamatory statement is false, no liability can attach if it relates to official
conduct, unless the public official concerned proves that the statements was made with actual malice
— that is, with knowledge that it was false or with reckless disregard of whether it was false or not.
This is the gist of the ruling in the landmark case of New York Times v. Sullivan, 25 which this
Court has cited with approval in several of its own decision. 26 This is the rule of "actual
malice." In this case, the prosecution failed to prove not only that the charges made by
petitioner were false but also that petitioner made them with knowledge of their falsity or
with reckless disregard of whether they were false or not.

A rule placing on the accused the burden of showing the truth of allegations of official
misconduct and/or good motives and justifiable ends for making such allegations would
not only be contrary to Art. 361 of the Revised Penal Code. It would, above all, infringe
on the constitutionally guaranteed freedom of expression. Such a rule would deter
citizens from performing their duties as members of a self-governing community.
Without free speech and assembly, discussions of our most abiding concerns as a nation
would be stifled. As Justice Brandeis has said, "public discussion is a political duty" and
the "greatest menace to freedom is an inert people." 27

Complainant contends that petitioner was actuated by vengeful political motive rather
than by his firm conviction that he and his fellow residents had been deprived of a
property right because of acts attributable to their barangay chairman. The Court of
Appeals, sustaining complainant's contention, held:
That the said imputations were malicious may be inferred from the facts that appellant
and complainant are enemies, hence, accused was motivated by vengeance in uttering
said defamatory statements and that accused is a leader of Ciriaco Cabuhat who was
defeated by complainant when they ran for the position of barangay captain. . . . 28

As already stated, however, in accordance with Art. 361, if the defamatory matter either
constitutes a crime or concerns the performance of official duties, and the accused proves
the truth of his charge, he should be acquitted. 29

Instead of the claim that petitioner was politically motivated in making the charges
against complainant, it would appear that complainant filed this case to harass petitioner.
Art. 360 of the Revised Penal Code provides:
Persons responsible. — Any person who shall publish, exhibit, or cause the publication or
exhibition of any defamation in writing or by similar means, shall be responsible for the
same.
The author or editor of a book or pamphlet, or the editor or business manager of a daily newspaper,
magazine or serial publication, shall be responsible for the defamation's contained therein to the same
extent as if he were the author thereof. . . .
Yet, in this case, neither the reporter, editor, nor the publisher of the newspaper was charged in court.
What was said in an analogous case 30 may be applied mutatis mutandis to the case at bar:
It is curious that the ones most obviously responsible for the publication of the allegedly
offensive news report, namely, the editorial staff and the periodical itself, were not at all
impleaded. The charge was leveled against the petitioner and, "curiouser" still, his clients
who have nothing to do with the editorial policies of the newspaper. There is here a
manifest effort to persecute and intimidate the petitioner for his temerity in accusing the
ASAC agents who apparently enjoyed special privileges — and perhaps also immunities
— during those oppressive times. The non-inclusion of the periodicals was a transparent
hypocrisy, an ostensibly pious if not at all convincing pretense of respect for freedom of
expression that was in fact one of the most desecrated liberties during the past despotism.
31

WHEREFORE, the decision of the Court of Appeals is REVERSED and the petitioner is
ACQUITTED of the crime charged.

SO ORDERED.

G.R. No. 88044 January 23, 1991


PEOPLE OF THE PHILIPPINES, plaintiff-appellee,
vs.
MARTIN CAGADAS, JR., MACARIO BARBERO, ROMY TULIO, CORITO PIASIDAD,
RENE BALONG, ROBERTO CULTURA and TATOR SALVADOR, appellants.
The Solicitor General for plaintiff-appelle.

GRIÑO-AQUINO, J.:
This case was elevated to this Court on appeal as the penalty of reclusion perpetua was imposed upon
the appellants.
On June 6, 1973, at around 6:30 in the morning, Rex Ballena and his sister, Lucia Ballena-Tabo, left
their residences at Longganapan, San Vicente, Davao, bound for the capital town of Tagum, to
withdraw some money with which to pay their farm laborers. In order to reach their destination, they
had to pass through Sitio Rizal in Binancian, Municipality of Asuncion, Davao, to take a jeepney ride
to Tagum. While waiting inside the jeep at the Sitio Rizal Terminal, some members of the Integrated
Civil Home Defense Force (ICHDF), including the accused, approached them and asked where they
were bound for and why. Rex Ballena naively informed them that they were on their way to Tagum to
withdraw money from the bank with which to pay his farmhands. When asked if they would be
returning to Longganapan that day, Lucia replied that only her brother, Rex, would do so. One of the
ICHDF members who approached them was identified by Lucia Tabo as Martin Cagadas, Jr.
Rex and Lucia arrived in Tagum at nearly noon. After withdrawing P800 from his Family Savings
Bank Account No. 1517020387, Rex purchased some necessities for his family, reserving P500 for his
workers' wages. He returned to Longganapan the following day, leaving his sister Lucia in Tagum.
Rex was able to pass Sitio Rizal unmolested. In fact, he met Santiago Vercede, his neighbor in
Longganapan, while travelling on Dalisay Road at around 3:30 that afternoon, proceeding toward
Sangab.
The following day, Lucia returned to Longganapan and discovered that her brother never arrived home
and was missing.
On June 9, 1983, at around 8:30 in the morning, Lucia informed their barangay councilman, Jose
Magunot, who was also the deacon of the Iglesia ni Kristo Church, that she was looking for her
brother Rex. Together with other farmers living near the Bontiqui/Lapatigan Creek, they searched for
Rex. On their way to Rizal, they met members of the ICHDF namely, Miguel Daub, Martin Cagadas,
Jr., Macario Barbero, Romy Tulio, Corito Piasidad, Rene Balong, Roberto Cultura and Tator Salvador,
who inquired about their mission and dissuaded them from continuing their search for Rex. They were
advised to report the matter to the barangay officials in Binansian Asuncion, which they did. However,
no action was taken by the said barangay officials.
In the evening of June 10, 1983, due to the very strong stench emitting therefrom, the decomposed
body of Rex Ballena was found lying face down in a deep ravine below the mouth of the Macjum
River about one-half kilometer away from the Bontiqui Creek. His body bore multiple stab wounds in
the chest and stomach, with the intestines protruding, his throat slashed, and head smashed with a hard
and heavy object. His mouth was still gagged with a red handkerchief and his hands bound with
boracan vines behind his back. His money was gone but his Savings Account passbook was found
beside the decaying corpse. Without waiting for the Municipal Health Officer's post-mortem necropsy
examination or the Municipal judge's Inquest Report, his remains were laid to rest the next day.
On November 8, 1984, or more than a year later, an Information for murder was filed against the
armed ICHDF members, namely: Miguel Daub, the ICHDF team leader, Martin Cagadas, Jr., Macario
Barbers, Romy Tulio, Corito Piasidad, Rene Balong, Jose "Roberto" Cultura and Saturnino "Tator"
Salvador, who had been seen by eyewitnesses leading Rex, with hands hogtied behind his back and his
mouth gagged by a red handkerchief, towards the deep gully where his decomposing body was found.
The ICHDF was a para-military group organized by local units of the Armed Forces of the Philippines
and composed of selected civilians in the locality to assist the Army in its peace-keeping duties.
The amended information, filed on December 3, 1984, reads:
The undersigned accuses MIGUEL DAUB, MARTIN CAGADAS, JR., MACARIO BARBERO,
ROMY TULIO, CORITO PIASIDAD, RENE BALONG, JOSE CULTURA and TATOR SALVADOR
of the crime of Murder under Article 248 of the Revised Penal Code, committed as follows:
That on or about June 6, 1983, in the Municipality of San Vicente, Province of Davao, Philippines,
and within the jurisdiction of this Honorable Court, the above-mentioned accused, conspiring,
confederating and mutually helping one another, with treachery and evident premeditation, with intent
to kill and armed with guns and bladed weapons, did then and there wilfully, unlawfully and
feloniously attack, assault, hack and stab one Rex Ballena, thereby inflicting upon him wounds which
caused his death, and further causing actual, moral and compensatory damages to the heirs of the
victim.
That in the commission of the foregoing offense all the abovenamed accused took advantage of their
public position as members of the Integrated Civil Home Defense Force and their superior strength
which circumstances aggravate their crime. (p. 3, Trial Court's decision; p. 24, Rollo.)
The accused were arraigned on December 14, 1984. Each entered a plea of "Not Guilty" to the charge.
At the trial, the prosecution presented five witnesses and the defense, thirteen. Two prosecution
witnesses, Ramos Magunot and Jose Magunot, testified that they saw on June 6, 1983 at around 4
p.m., from their farm huts situated along Bontiqui Creek in Sitio Rizal, Rex Ballena, hogtied and
being led by the accused toward the Macjum River, where his corpse was later discovered. Leading
the way was Martin Cagadas, Jr.; on the left side of Rex was Romy Tulio who held the vine tied
around Rex's hands; on the right was Tator Salvador, and directly behind was Macario Barbero, who
held a gun against the victim's back, followed by Corito Piasidad, Rene Balong, "Jose" Cultura and
ICHDF team leader Miguel Daub. Jose Magunot testified that he was summoned by the ICHDF team
the same evening because their leader (Daub) caught him (Jose) watching when they hogtied Rex. He
was warned not to tell on them at the risk of his own life. There was, however, no eyewitness to the
actual killing.
All the accused put up the defense of alibi, claiming that they could not possibly have committed the
heinous crime imputed to them, for they were not in the place pointed to by the prosecution witnesses,
having either worked in another ICHDF detachment center or in some other place.
On August 24, 1988, the Regional Trial Court of Tagum, Davao (Branch 1) rendered a decision
finding all of the accused, excluding Miguel Daub (who died during the trial) "guilty beyond
reasonable doubt of the crime of murder as charged, sentencing them to suffer the penalty of reclusion
perpetua with all the accessory penalties provided by law, and to indemnify the widow, Aquila
Ballena, and the heirs of Rex Ballena P12,000 as compensatory damages, plus Thirty Thousand
(P30,000) Pesos, as and in the concept of moral damages, the filing fees thereof to stand as lien to the
full and complete execution for the satisfaction of the awards." (p. 50, RTC decision; p. 137, Rollo.)
The defendants appealed to this Court in view of the penalty imposed on them. They allege that the
lower court erred:
1. in convicting them of murder despite the prosecution's failure to prove their guilt beyond reasonable
doubt;
2. in giving credence to the improbable and ill-motivated testimonies of prosecution witnesses Ramos
and Jose Magunot;
3. in convicting the appellants of the crime charged based on purely circumstantial evidence;
4. in disregarding their defense of alibi;
5. in convicting Roberto Cultura even if he was not one of the charged in the information; and
6. in finding that the aggravating circumstances of (a) taking advantage of public position, (b) superior
strength, (c) evident premeditation, and (d) treachery were present in the commission of the crime.
The appeal has no merit.
While it is true that no eyewitnesses to the actual killing were available or brave enough to come
forward and testify against the accused, direct evidence is not the only basis upon which their guilt
may be predicated. Their guilt may be, as it was, established through circumstantial evidence which
suffices for conviction if the following requisites are present, namely: (1) there must be more than one
circumstance, (2) the facts from which the inferences are derived are proven; and (3) the combination
of all the circumstances is such as to produce a conviction beyond reasonable doubt (Sec. 5, Rule 133,
Revised Rules of Court; People vs. Alcantara, 163 SCRA 783).
The following facts or circumstances were proven:
1. that Rex was seen by the prosecution witnesses, Ramos Magunot and Jose Magunot, hogtied and
gagged with a red handkerchief in his mouth;
2. that he was being led on foot toward the Macjum river by the appellants;
3. that his body, bearing stab wounds and other injuries, was found at the Macjum river;
4. that the appellants advised Magunot not to report what he had seen; and
5. that the victim did not have his money on his person when his body was found.
The inferences to be derived from those facts are:
(1) that Rex was gagged and hogtied by the appellants;
(2) that he was killed by the appellants, and, (3) that he was robbed by the appellants.
The web of circumstantial evidence in this case constitutes an unbroken chain leading to a reasonable
conclusion that the appellants detained the victim while he was on his way to Sangab that fateful
afternoon of June 6, 1983. They hogtied and gagged him, led him to the gully, and as the decomposed
corpse later revealed, stabbed him to death with multiple knife thrusts. Their individual participation
need not be specified for they were all co-conspirators in the commission of the crime, hence, the guilt
of one or some was the guilt of all. (People vs. Maralit, 165 SCRA 427; People vs. Newman, 163
SCRA 496; People vs. Salvador, 163 SCRA 574.)
The trial court did not err in giving full credit to the testimonies of the prosecution witnesses for they
were disinterested witnesses, not related at all to the victim. Their testimonies were spontaneous,
unrehearsed and unchallenged even during cross-examination. Their initial reluctance to testify does
not affect their credibility (People vs. Aliocod, 167 SCRA 665) for the killers were notorious for their
lawlessness and barbarity.
The trial court properly rejected the appellants' defense of alibi which is the weakest of all defenses
especially in the absence of proof that it would have been physically impossible for them to have been
at the scene of the crime (People vs. Masangkay, 157 SCRA 320). Moreover, the testimonies of the
defense witnesses are not only replete with material inconsistencies but are also incompatible with one
another. The Certification signed by the barangay and purok officials on September 27, 1984, attesting
to the presence of the accused in a detachment center in Davao is highly unreliable, as it was not based
on personal knowledge of the affiants but on unconfirmed reports or hearsay.
Appellants' contention that the trial court erred in convicting Roberto Cultura for he was not one of
those indicted in the information but "Jose" Cultura (his father's name), has no merit. The erroneous
designation of his name in the information will not vitiate it, as it was clearly proven that the accused,
Roberto Cultura, was part of the group that arrested, hogtied and killed the victim. Besides, Cultura
did not raise this question of his identity during the arraignment. His acquiescence to be tried under
the name "Jose" at that stage of the case is deemed to be a waiver on his part to raise the question of
his identity as one of the accused for the first time on appeal (People vs. Maravilla, 165 SCRA 392;
People vs. Torres, 165 SCRA 702).
All the appellants are guilty beyond reasonable doubt of the crime of murder qualified by treachery
and aggravated by the circumstance of taking advantage of their public positions. There was treachery
in the commission of the offense for the victim was gagged and his hands were tied before he was
slain, thereby rendering him completely helpless. Furthermore, the appellants abused their office as
Civil Home Defense members, who are supposed to be peace officers tasked with maintaining law and
order and of protecting life and property in their community. They instead turned out to be murderers
and brigands.
The penalty of murder under the 1987 Constitution is reclusion temporal in its maximum period to
reclusion perpetua (People vs. Alpetche, 168 SCRA 670). Appellants cannot avail of the Indeterminate
Sentence Law, considering the penalty actually imposed.
WHEREFORE, the decision a quo, being in full accord with the evidence and the law, is hereby
affirmed in toto.
SO ORDERED.

G.R. No. L-46370 June 12, 1992


ANTONIO AVECILLA,appellant-petitioner,
vs.
PEOPLE OF THE PHILIPPINES and HON. COURT OF APPEALS,appellees-
respondents.

ROMERO, J.:
This is a petition for review on certiorari of the decision dated December 20, 1976 of the Court of
Appeals in CA-G.R. No. 16628-CR entitled "People of the Philippines v. Antonio Avecilla" modifying
the decision of July 16, 1973 of the then Court of First Instance of Rizal, Branch 1 at Pasig finding the
accused-petitioner guilty of simple theft, by convicting the accused-petitioner instead, of qualified
theft and imposing on him accordingly, a higher penalty.
The accused-petitioner, Antonio Avecilla and one Juana Doe were charged before the said lower court
of the crime of theft, allegedly committed as follows:
That on or about the 16th day of November, 1971, in the municipality of Mandaluyong, province of
Rizal, Philippines, and within the jurisdiction of this Honorable Court, the above-named accused,
conspiring and mutually helping and aiding one another, with intent of gain and without the
knowledge and consent of the owner thereof, did then and there willfully, unlawfully and feloniously
take, steal and carry away one Registered Letter number 247341, delivery number 3752, valued at
$500.00 belonging to one Lourdes Rodriguez de Lacson, to the damage and prejudice of the latter in
the aforementioned amount of $500.00, U.S. Dollar.
Contrary to law. 1 ᄃ
Upon arraignment, Antonio Avecilla entered a plea of not guilty to the crime charged. 2 ᄃ
On the other hand, to prove his guilt, the prosecution presented the following witnesses:
1. Lourdes Rodriguez de Lacson, an employee of Litton Mills, Inc., testified that her sister, Maria Paz,
a resident of Milwaukee, Wisconsin, U.S.A., sent her a registered letter containing a bank draft worth
$400.00 (not $500.00 as alleged in the information). She came to know about this registered letter
through another sister Carmencita Rodriguez, who, on December 17, 1971, also received another letter
from Maria Paz, inquiring whether she (witness) had received Registered Letter No. 247341, which
was addressed to her at Litton Mills, Inc. 3 ᄃ
Since she did not receive the registered letter with the bank draft, Lourdes went to the Mandaluyong
Post Office and inquired about it. She was informed by the Postmaster and the teller that Registered
Letter No. 247341 addressed to her was claimed on November 16, 1971 by one Antonio Avecilla,
whom they knew had been messenger of Litton Mills, Inc. for more than two years. That Avecilla got
the subject letter was shown by the registry notice duly signed by him. 4 ᄃ
Lourdes further testified that she filed a complaint in their office, as a result of which an investigation
was conducted by the personnel officer of Litton Knitting Mills. Antonio Avecilla admitted in her
presence that he took the said registered letter, but when she demanded its return, he refused to do so.
Hence, she filed a complaint with the police. 5 ᄃ
On cross-examination, Lourdes stated that on December 23, 1971, she made an overseas call to her
sister, Maria Paz, to request her to stop the payment of the bank draft. As a result, she was informed by
Maria Paz through their sister, Carmencita Rodriguez, that a "stop payment" order, had already been
made to the drawee bank. 6 ᄃ
2. Rosalinda Cervo, Clerk-in-charge of the registry section of Mandaluyong Post Office, declared that
on November 15, 1971, she received a letter for Mrs. Lourdes Lacson, with a given address at "Litton
Knitting Mills." She then issued the corresponding registry notice to the addressee which she sent
through the letter carrier. The following day, November 16, 1971, Antonio Avecilla went to the post
office to claim the registered letter. He presented the registry notice addressed to Lourdes Lacson with
her signature appearing thereon, signed it in her presence and introduced to her a woman as Mrs.
Lourdes Lacson who signed the control book.
She further testified that inasmuch as Antonio Avecilla had been, the authorized messenger of Litton
Knitting Mills since 1969, she entrusted Registered Letter No. 247341 to him. However, she got to
meet the lady who seemed to be the true Mrs. Lacson when the latter went to the post office to
complain about the letter that she (Mrs. Lacson) had not received. When shown the control book with
her alleged signatures, Mrs. Lacson repudiated the same as hers.
Subsequently, when Rosalinda Cervo informed Avecilla about Mrs. Lacson's complaint, he declared
that he had placed the letter on the table of Mrs. Lacson. 7 ᄃ
3. Federico Rivera, Sr., Postmaster of Mandaluyong, Rizal, testified that Litton Mills, through George
Litton, Sr., had previously written him a letter, authorizing one Antonio Avecilla to accept "registered
mails, i.e., checks, parcels and letters" for their company and employees. 8 He recalled that on
November 16, 1971, a registered letter addressed to Mrs. Lourdes Lacson c/o Litton Mills
was delivered to Mr. Avecilla. 9 ᄃ
The defense, before presenting the accused to testifying his own behalf, called Mrs.
Lourdes R. Lacson to the witness stand and asked her to introduce the letter of the cashier
of Guardian State Bank, Milwaukee, Wisconsin, dated October 27, 1972 addressed to
Maria Paz R. Prado, stating that "Cashiers Check No. 27166, payable to Miss Carmencita
S. Rodriguez, has not been paid as of this date." 10 ᄃ
4. Antonio Avecilla declared that as messenger of Litton Hills, it was his duty to get all
the incoming and outgoing mails of both the Pasig and Mandaluyong branches of Litton
Mills, Inc. He knew the complainant, Mrs. Lacson, because the latter was his co-
employee at Litton Mills. He often mailed the letters of Mrs. Lacson for her and would
also get her mail from the post office.
On November 16, 1971, he admitted having gotten from the Mandaluyong Post Office a
registered letter addressed to Mrs. Lacson by signing the name of Mrs. Lacson and his
name on the registry receipt. Once in the office, he left said letter on the table of Mrs.
Lacson because at that time she was already out as it was past 5:00 o'clock in the
afternoon. He also said that when he left the letter on the table, nobody was in the office.
11 ᄃ
On July 16, 1973, the trial court 12 ᄃ rendered its decision finding accused-petitioner
guilty beyond reasonable doubt of simple theft. The dispositive part of the decision reads:
WHEREFORE, finding the evidence sufficient to prove the guilt of the accused beyond
reasonable doubt of the crime of Theft, pursuant to Article 308 and 309 of the Revised
Penal Code, and applying the Indeterminate Sentence Law, he is hereby sentenced to an
indeterminate penalty of SIX (6) MONTHS of arresto mayor as minimum to ONE (1)
YEAR, EIGHT (8) MONTHS, TWENTY-ONE (21) DAYS of prision correccional as
maximum.
SO ORDERED. 13 ᄃ
Not satisfied with the decision, petitioner appealed to the Court of Appeals, which on
December 20, 1976, promulgated a decision finding accused-petitioner guilty of qualified
theft instead of simple theft. The dispositive portion of the decision reads:
WHEREFORE, the appealed decision is hereby modified in the sense that the crime
committed is hereby designated as qualified theft; and that the appellant is hereby
sentenced to suffer the indeterminate penalty of from FOUR (4) YEARS, TWO (2)
MONTHS AND ONE (1) DAY of prision correccional, as minimum, to NINE (9)
YEARS, FOUR (4) MONTHS AND ONE (1) DAY of prision mayor, as maximum. In all
other respects, the decision is affirmed, with costs against accused-appellant.
IT IS SO ORDERED. 14 ᄃ
The motion for reconsideration having been denied, 15 ᄃ petitioner elevated the case to
the Supreme Court by way of the instant petition for review on certiorari.
Petitioner contends that his constitutional right to due process had been violated both
substantially and procedurally. He was convicted of qualified theft instead of simple theft
and imposed a penalty eight times longer than his original sentence, and his motion for
reconsideration of the appellate court's decision was "denied in one stereo-typed
sentence." 16 ᄃ He adds that his constitutional right to be informed of the nature and
cause of the accusation against him provided for in Art. IV, Sec. 19 of the 1971
Constitution and reiterated in Rule 115, Sec. 1, par. (c) of the Rules of Court had also
been violated.
Petitioner further argues that the Court of Appeals erred in convicting him of qualified
theft just because the information used the term "registered letter" when "not all
registered letters is (sic) mail matter." Because the information alleges that the registered
letter belonged to Lourdes Rodriguez de Lacson and considering Art. 723 of the Civil
Code which provides that a letter becomes the personal property of the addressee after it
has been delivered, the crime charged is only simple theft.
Petitioner bewails the vagueness of the information which resulted in his "bewilderment"
as to what precisely he had allegedly stolen for a registered letter per secannot be worth
$500.00. He notes that the information does not state that the registered letter contained a
check. Moreover, he avers, the essential elements of theft, whether simple or qualified,
had not been substantiated by the facts proven. Thus, petitioner adds, it had not been
shown that he knew about the contents of the letter; there was no unlawful taking because
the delivery of the letter was made in the manner prescribed by postal regulations; the
allegedly stolen property had not been produced at all, and the prosecution relied solely
on the "sheer self-serving testimony" of the complaining witness. 17 ᄃ
Petitioner's allegations necessitate a scrutiny of the information imputing to him the
commission of a crime. It need not be overly stressed that the averments in the complaint
or information characterize the crime to be prosecuted and determine the court before
which the case must be tried. 18 ᄃ What controls is not the designation of the offense but
the description thereof as alleged in the information. 19 ᄃ
A thorough examination of the information reveals that it contains all the essential
elements of the crime of theft, to wit: (1) that there be taking of personal property; (2)
that said property belongs to another; (3) that the taking be done with intent to gain; (4)
that the taking be done without the consent of the owner; and (5) that the taking be
accomplished without the use of violence or intimidation against persons or force upon
things. 20 ᄃ
While it is true that petitioner could not have been "bewildered" as to the nature of the
charge against him had the information been more accurately crafted, it nonetheless
contains all the elements of the crime of theft. Thus, it is alleged therein that petitioner,
with the aid of and in conspiracy with an unidentified woman, willfully took away
Registered Letter No. 24341 belonging to Lourdes Rodriguez de Lacson to her damage
and prejudice. Although intent to gain is not explicitly alleged in the information, it may
be presumed from the allegation that the said mail matter was unlawfully taken. 21 ᄃ
Since there is no allegation that the taking was accomplished with violence or
intimidation against persons or force upon things, it is apparent that the charge is for the
crime of theft rather than robbery.
The allegation that the subject of the taking is a registered letter categorizes the theft as a
qualified rather than a simple one. This is clear from the provision of Art. 310 of the
Revised Penal Code which states that qualified theft is committed if the property stolen is
mail matter. In this regard, petitioner's contention that not all registered letters are mail
matter is incorrect. Under Sec. 1945 of the Revised Administrative Code of 1917, first
class mail matter includes letters. For the greater security of valuable mail matter, Sec.
1962 of the same Code established a registry system "under which the senders or owners
of registered matter may be indemnified for losses thereof in the mails, the indemnity to
be paid out of postal revenues . . .
From the foregoing, it is clear that petitioner had not been deprived of his constitutional
right to be informed of the nature and cause of the accusation against him. Moreover, he
may be convicted of a crime and sentenced to the corresponding penalty as long as the
facts alleged in the information and proved at the trial constitute the crime for which he is
convicted although different from the crime designated and charged in the information.
22 ᄃ The allegations in the complaint against petitioner had been established beyond
reasonable doubt at the trial. In this regard, it should be pointed out that absolute certainty
of guilt is not demanded by the law as basis for conviction of any criminal charge, but
moral certainty is required as to every proposition of proof requisite to constitute the
offense. 23 ᄃ Moral certainty convinces and satisfies the reason and conscience that a
crime has indeed been committed. 24 ᄃ This quantum of proof has been satisfied in this
case.
In his defense, petitioner relied solely on his own unsupported testimony. His story that
after taking delivery of the registered letter addressed to complainant Mrs. Lacson, he left
it on her desk after office hours when no one else was in the office strains credulity. In his
attempt to prove that he did not benefit from the bank draft of $400.00, he presented Mrs.
Lacson herself with a letter from the cashier of the Guardian State Bank in Milwaukee,
Wisconsin to the effect that the bank draft had not been paid. However, as in the crime of
robbery, the fact that the accused did not benefit from the articles taken does not affect
the nature of the crime because from the moment the offender gained possession of the
thing, the unlawful taking is complete. 25 ᄃ
Petitioner's assertion that he took Mrs. Lacson's registered letter by following the postal
regulations and hence, he may not be liable for its "misdelivery," falls flat in the face of
the unrebutted proof that he even used a woman to misrepresent herself as Mrs. Lacson.
Although no one else witnessed the deception and Rosalinda Cervo could no longer
describe the woman, the undisputed fact remains that someone else other than Mrs.
Lacson did sign the control book and that, thereafter, petitioner took the letter with the
bank draft of $400.00 which Mrs. Lacson never received.
Although proof as to motive for the crime is essential when the evidence of the theft is
circumstantial, 26 ᄃ the intent to gain or animus lucrandi is the usual motive to be
presumed from all furtive taking of useful property appertaining to another, unless special
circumstances reveals different intent on the part of the perpetrator. 27 ᄃ As earlier noted,
the intent to gain may be presumed from the proven unlawful taking.
The Court of Appeals considered P6,000.00 as the equivalent of $400.00. Under Art. 309
(2) of the Revised Penal Code, the penalty for theft involving said amount is prision
correccional in its minimum and medium periods, but considering that qualified theft is
punishable by a penalty two degrees higher, 28 ᄃ petitioner should be imposed in penalty
of prision mayor in its medium and maximum periods. In the absence of aggravating and
mitigating circumstances, the penalty should be the medium period of said penalty or
nine (9) years, four (4) months and one (1) day of prision mayor medium to ten (10)
years, eight (8) months and one (1) day of prision mayor maximum. Hence, the Court of
Appeals correctly applied the Indeterminate Sentence Law and imposed the indeterminate
sentence of four (4) years, two (2) months and one (1) day of prision correccional
maximum as minimum penalty to nine (9) years, four (4) months and one (1) day of
prision mayor medium as maximum penalty.
WHEREFORE, the modification of the decision of the trial court by the Court of Appeals
finding the accused-appellant guilty, not only of simple but qualified theft, being in order,
the above imposition of the penalty prescribed by the Indeterminate Sentence Law is
CORRECT. Costs against the appellant.
SO ORDERED.
G.R. No. 147201 January 15, 2004
PEOPLE OF THE PHILIPPINES,appellee,
vs.
BENJAMIN SAYABOC y SEGUBA, PATRICIO ESCORPISO y VALDEZ, MARLON
BUENVIAJE y PINEDA, and MIGUEL BUENVIAJE y FLORES,appellants.
DECISION
DAVIDE, JR., C.J.:
Before us is the decision of 9 November 2000 of the Regional Trial Court of Bayombong, Nueva
Vizcaya, Branch 27, in Criminal Case No. 2912 finding appellant Benjamin Sayaboc guilty beyond
reasonable doubt of the crime of murder and sentencing him to suffer the penalty of death; and (2)
finding appellant Marlon Buenviaje guilty as principal and appellants Miguel Buenviaje and Patricio
Escorpiso guilty as accomplices in the crime of homicide.
On 17 April 1995, an information was filed charging Benjamin Sayaboc, Patricio Escorpiso, Marlon
Buenviaje, and Miguel Buenviaje with murder, the accusatory portion of which reads as follows:
That on or about December 2, 1994, in the Municipality of Solano, Province of Nueva Vizcaya,
Philippines and within the jurisdiction of this Honorable Court, the above-named accused, conspiring,
confederating together and mutually helping each other, and who were then armed with a firearm, did
then and there willfully, unlawfully and feloniously with evident premeditation, by means of treachery
and with intent to kill, attack, assault and use personal violence upon the person of Joseph Galam y
Antonio, by then and there suddenly firing at the said Joseph Galam y Antonio who has not given any
provocation, thereby inflicting upon him mortal wounds which were the direct and immediate cause of
his death thereafter, to the damage and prejudice of his heirs.1
At their arraignment, appellants Benjamin Sayaboc, Patricio Escorpiso, and Miguel Buenviaje pleaded
not guilty to the charge of murder. Marlon Buenviaje, who was arrested only on 10 July 1997, also
pleaded not guilty upon his arraignment.
The evidence for the prosecution discloses as follows:
At about 9:00 a.m. of 13 August 1994, while prosecution witness Abel Ramos was at a vulcanizing
shop in Barangay Quezon, Solano, Nueva Vizcaya, he heard one Tessie Pawid screaming from across
the road: "Enough, enough, enough!" In front of her were Marlon Buenviaje and Joseph Galam, who
were engaged in a fisticuff. By the time Pawid was able to subdue the two men by standing between
them and embracing Galam, Buenviaje’s face was already bloodied and Galam’s shirt collar torn. As
Buenviaje was leaving, he turned to face Galam and, with his right index finger making a slicing
motion across his throat, shouted: "Putang-ina mo Joseph, may araw ka rin, papatayin kita." Galam
retorted, "Gago, traydor, gold digger, halika." Buenviaje did not respond anymore and left on a
tricycle.2
More than three months thereafter, or on 2 December 1994, Galam was shot to death at the Rooftop
Disco and Lodging House (Rooftop, for short) owned by him, which was located at Barangay
Quezon, Solano, Nueva Vizcaya.
According to a waitress of the Rooftop Diana Grace Sanchez Jaramillo, earlier or at 3:00 p.m. of that
fateful day, a man whom she later identified as Benjamin Sayaboc rang the doorbell of the Rooftop
and asked whether a woman wearing a green t-shirt had checked in. She answered in the negative. As
she was about to leave, Sayaboc asked another question, "What time does your bosing arrive?" She
replied that she did not know. She then went to the second floor of the establishment. 3
Tessie Pilar, the caretaker of the lodging house, narrated that between 5:30 and 5:45 p.m. Sayaboc,
who was still seated in the swing beside the information counter with his hands tucked in the pocket of
his jacket, ordered a bottle of beer. She then went up to the kitchen, but was delayed in delivering the
beer because she gave some instructions to the dishwasher. When she gave the beer to Benjamin, the
latter was angry and asked why it took her so long to bring the beer. Thereafter, she went upstairs and
chatted with Jaramillo and some other waitresses. Then the vehicle of Joseph Galam arrived. 4
Shortly thereafter, they heard four gunbursts emanating from the ground floor of the building. When
Jaramillo looked down, she saw Sayaboc shooting Galam, causing the latter to fall to the ground face
up, with blood spurting out of his chest. Sayaboc forthwith ran out and disappeared into the darkness. 5
Meanwhile, at about 5:30 p.m. of that fateful day, as Joselito Parungao, Chief Barangay Tanod of
Barangay Quezon, Solano, Nueva Vizcaya, was on his way to the Kowloon Restaurant located along
the national road, he saw Marlon Buenviaje with his father Miguel Buenviaje and Patricio Escorpiso.
The three were aboard a tricycle parked in a vacant lot between the Rooftop and Diego Theater. The
younger Buenviaje was on the driver’s seat, while the older Buenviaje and Escorpiso were inside the
sidecar. Parungao ordered pancit bihon. While he was waiting outside of the restaurant, he noticed that
the tricycle was still parked in the vacant lot, and the three occupants thereof were talking with each
other. After getting his order and while he was getting out of the restaurant, Parungao heard four
gunshots coming from behind the Rooftop building. He thereafter saw a person, whom he later came
to know as Benjamin Sayaboc, walking briskly toward the tricycle and then rode behind Marlon
Buenviaje. Afterwards, the tricycle sped off towards the center of the town.6
The employees of the Rooftop lost no time in bringing Galam to a hospital, where he was declared
dead on arrival.7 Dr. Antonio R. Labasan, who conducted an autopsy on his cadaver, found four
gunshot wounds and opined that the first two of which were inflicted from behind and the last two
were frontal.8
That evening, SPO4 Roberto Cagungao, Chief Investigator of the Solano Police Station, assigned
some investigators to go to the scene of the crime to gather evidence. At about 10:00 to 11:00 p.m., he
and Lt. Alejandro Parungao brought Pilar and Jaramillo to the Philippine National Police (PNP) Crime
Laboratory in Camp Crame, Quezon City. Pilar and Jaramillo were interviewed by the cartographic
artist, who thereafter drew a cartographic sketch showing the face of the assailant. 9
On 8 March 1995, Pilar and Jaramillo identified Benjamin Sayaboc at the PNP Provincial
Headquarters in Bayombong as the gunman who shot Joseph Galam to death. 10
On the afternoon of that day, SPO4 Cagungao was called to the Provincial Command Headquarters in
Bayombong, Nueva Vizcaya, to take the statement of Sayaboc. When he arrived at the headquarters he
saw Sayaboc being interviewed by reporters inside the investigation room. He then brought Sayaboc
to the inner part of the room. Before taking the statement of Sayaboc, he advised the latter of his
constitutional rights. Then Sayaboc told him that he wanted to have a counsel of his own choice. But
since Sayaboc could not name one, Cagungao asked the police officers to get a lawyer. Half an hour
later, the police officers brought Atty. Rodolfo Cornejo of the PAO, who then conferred with Sayaboc
for a while. After Cagungao heard Sayaboc say, "okay," he continued the investigation, during which
Atty. Cornejo remained silent the entire time. However, Cagungao would stop questioning Sayaboc
whenever Atty. Cornejo would leave to go to the comfort room. 11 That night Sayaboc executed an
extrajudicial confession12 in Ilocano dialect. He therein confessed to killing Joseph Galam at the
behest of Marlon Buenviaje for the sum of P100,000. He likewise implicated Miguel Buenviaje and
Patricio Escorpiso. The confession was also signed by Atty. Cornejo and attested to by one Fiscal
Melvin Tiongson.
At the hearing on 22 June 1999, after the prosecution rested its case, 1counsel for accused Mike
Buenviaje, Marlon Buenviaje and Patricio Escorpiso manifested that he be given fifteen days to file a
motion for leave to admit demurrer to the evidence. 13 The trial court acceded. But instead of filing
such motion first, he filed a Demurrer to Evidence on 12 July 1999. 14 The motion for leave to file the
pleading was filed the next day only.15
The trial court denied the demurrer to evidence in an order 16 issued on 16 August 1999. Further, it
ruled that because of they did not seek nor were granted express leave of court prior to their filing of
the demurrer to evidence, the Buenviajes and Escorpiso were deemed to have submitted their case for
judgment in accordance with Section 15, Rule 119 of the Rules of Court. Thus, only Sayaboc was
allowed to proceed with the presentation of his defense.
Sayaboc denied having committed the crime and proffered the defense of alibi. He also flatly denied
having met Atty. Cornejo or having been informed of his rights. He testified to having been beaten by
six or seven police officers in the investigating room, who then coerced him to confess to having
killed Galam.17 Apart from his testimony, he submitted a handwritten statement dated 20 March 1995 18
and an affidavit dated 10 April 199519 to support his claim of police brutality and retraction of his
confession.
In its decision dated 9 November 2000,20 the trial court found Benjamin Sayaboc guilty of the crime of
murder, with treachery as the qualifying circumstance and craft and price or reward as aggravating
circumstances. It then sentenced him to the maximum penalty of death. As for Marlon Buenviaje,
Miguel Buenviaje, and Patricio Escorpiso, the court held that the treachery employed by Sayaboc
could not be taken against them and, therefore, declared them guilty of the crime of homicide only,
with the first as principal and the two others as accomplices. Each was sentenced to suffer an
indeterminate penalty and to pay solidarily with Sayaboc the amounts of P115,000 as actual damages;
P25,000 as moral damages; and the costs of the suit in favor of the heirs of Joseph Galam.
From this decision, the appellants raise the following errors:
I
THE TRIAL COURT GRAVELY ERRED IN FINDING APPELLANT SAYABOC GUILTY
BEYOND REASONABLE DOUBT OF THE CRIME OF MURDER AND SENTENCING HIM TO
DEATH.
II
ASSUMING ARGUENDO THAT ACCUSED SAYABOC IS GUILTY, HE IS GUILTY ONLY OF
THE CRIME OF HOMICIDE.
III
THE TRIAL COURT ERRED IN ADMITTING IN EVIDENCE THE EXTRAJUDICIAL
CONFESSION OF ACCUSED SAYABOC WHEN IT WAS TAKEN WITHOUT THE ASSISTANCE
OF A COMPETENT AND INDEPENDENT COUNSEL NOR BY AN EFFECTIVE AND
VIGILANT COUNSEL.
IV
THE TRIAL COURT ERRED IN FINDING FATHER AND SON BUENVIAJE AND ACCUSED
ESCORPISO LIKEWISE GUILTY WHEN IT DENIED THEM THEIR CONSTITUTIONAL RIGHT
TO BE HEARD BY THEMSELVES AND COUNSEL AFTER THEY FILED THEIR DEMURRER
TO EVIDENCE ALLEGEDLY WITHOUT FIRST SEEKING EXPRESS LEAVE OF COURT.
In the first and second assigned errors, the appellants contend that the crime committed by Sayaboc
was homicide only, there being no proof of treachery because the two eyewitnesses did not see the
commencement of the shooting. Besides, treachery, as well as evident premeditation, was not
specifically designated as a qualifying circumstance in the information. Neither can the aggravating
circumstances of craft and price or reward be appreciated because they were not alleged in the
information, albeit proved during trial. Sections 8 and 9 of Rule 110 of the 2000 Rules of Criminal
Procedure, which require aggravating and qualifying circumstances to be alleged in the information,
are beneficial to the accused and should, therefore, be applied retroactively.
As to the third assigned error, the appellants argue that the extrajudicial confession of Sayaboc may
not be admitted in evidence against him because Atty. Cornejo, the PAO lawyer who was his counsel
during the custodial investigation, was not a competent, independent, vigilant, and effective counsel.
He was ineffective because he remained silent during the entire proceedings. He was not independent,
as he was formerly a judge in the National Police Commission, which was holding court inside the
PNP Command of Bayombong, Nueva Vizcaya.
Finally, appellants Marlon Buenviaje, Miguel Buenviaje, and Patricio Escorpiso claim that they were
denied due process because they were not able to present evidence in their defense. They ask this
Court to relax the rule of criminal procedure in favor of enforcing their constitutional right to be heard
by themselves and counsel.
On the other hand, the Office of the Solicitor General (OSG) maintains that Sayaboc’s extrajudicial
confession that he shot the victim in the back is adequate proof of treachery. Invoking People v.
Aquino,21 the OSG contends that for treachery to be considered as a qualifying circumstance, it needs
only to be specifically alleged in the information and does not have to be preceded by the words
qualifying or qualified by. As to the proven circumstances of craft and price or reward, the same
cannot be appreciated because they were not specifically alleged in the information, as required by the
2000 Rules of Criminal Procedure, which are applicable to actions that are pending and undetermined
at the time of their passage.
The OSG further asserts that Sayaboc’s extrajudicial confession is admissible in evidence against him,
since it was made after he was informed of, and accorded, his constitutional rights, particularly the
right to an independent counsel of his own choice. No evidence was adduced during the trial to
substantiate the claim that Atty. Cornejo used to be connected with the NAPOLCOM. Moreover, this
claim was made for the first time in this appeal, and was based merely on an information furnished by
defense counsel Atty. Virgil Castro (now deceased) to Sayaboc’s counsel in this appeal, which makes
the said information hearsay twice removed.
As to the fourth assigned error, the OSG counters that no exceptional circumstance exists in this case
that may warrant the relaxation of the rule that the denial of a unilateral demurrer to evidence carries
with it a waiver of the accused’s right to present evidence.
Beginning with the admissibility of Sayaboc’s extrajudicial confession, we hold that such cannot be
used in evidence in this case.
Section 12 of Article III of the 1987 Constitution provides:
Sec. 12. (1) Any person under investigation for the commission of an offense shall have the right to be
informed of his right to remain silent and to have competent and independent counsel preferably of his
own choice. If the person cannot afford the services of counsel, he must be provided with one. These
rights cannot be waived except in writing and in the presence of counsel.

(3) Any confession or admission obtained in violation of this or the preceding section shall be
inadmissible in evidence against him.
Jurisprudence provides that extrajudicial confessions are presumed to be voluntary. 22 The condition for
this presumption, however, is that the prosecution is able to show that the constitutional requirements
safeguarding an accused’s rights during custodial investigation have been strictly complied with,
especially when the extrajudicial confession has been denounced. The rationale for this requirement is
to allay any fear that the person being investigated would succumb to coercion while in the unfamiliar
or intimidating environment that is inherent in custodial investigations. Therefore, even if the
confession may appear to have been given voluntarily since the confessant did not file charges against
his alleged intimidators for maltreatment, 23 the failure to properly inform a suspect of his rights during
a custodial investigation renders the confession valueless and inadmissible. 24
In this case, contrary to SPO4 Cagungao’s claim that he conferred with Sayaboc for half an hour
informing him about his constitutional rights, the extrajudicial confession provides only the following:
PRELIMINARY: I would like to inform you Mr. Sayaboc that questions will be asked to you
regarding an incident last December 2, 1994 at the Rooftop, Brgy. Quezon, Solano, Nueva Vizcaya, in
connection with the shooting of Joseph Galam, owner of the said Disco House as a result of his death.
Before questions will be asked [of] you I would like to inform you about your ri[g]hts under the new
Constitution of the Philippines, as follows: That you have the right to remain silent or refuse to answer
the questions which you think will incriminate you; That you have the right to seek the services of a
counsel of your own choice or if not, this office will provide you a lawyer if you wish.
QUESTIONS: After informing you all your constitutional rights, are you willing to give your true
statement regarding the death of Joseph Galam?
ANSWER: Yes, sir.
QUESTIONS: Do you want to get a lawyer to assist in this investigation?
ANSWER: Yes, sir. I want to seek the assistance of Atty. Rodolfo Cornejo.
QUESTIONS: Atty. Rodolfo Cornejo is here now, do you want him to assist you in this investigation?
ANSWER: Yes, sir. 25
Apart from the absence of an express waiver of his rights, the confession contains the passing of
information of the kind held to be in violation of the right to be informed under Section 12, Article III
of the Constitution. In People v. Jara,26 the Court explained:
The stereotyped "advice" appearing in practically all extrajudicial confessions which are later
repudiated has assumed the nature of a "legal form" or model. Police investigators either automatically
type it together with the curt "Opo" as the answer or ask the accused to sign it or even copy it in their
handwriting. Its tired, punctilious, fixed, and artificially stately style does not create an impression of
voluntariness or even understanding on the part of the accused. The showing of a spontaneous, free,
and unconstrained giving up of a right is missing.
The right to be informed requires "the transmission of meaningful information rather than just the
ceremonial and perfunctory recitation of an abstract constitutional principle." 27 It should allow the
suspect to consider the effects and consequences of any waiver he might make of these rights. More so
when the suspect is one like Sayaboc, who has an educational attainment of Grade IV, was a stranger
in Nueva Vizcaya, and had already been under the control of the police officers for two days previous
to the investigation, albeit for another offense.
We likewise rule that Sayaboc was not afforded his constitutional right to a competent counsel. While
we are unable to rule on the unsubstantiated claim that Atty. Cornejo was partial to the police, still, the
facts show through the testimonies of Sayaboc and prosecution witness SPO4 Cagungao that Atty.
Cornejo remained silent throughout the duration of the custodial investigation. The trial court
attributed the silence of Atty. Cornejo to the garrulous nature and intelligence of Sayaboc, thus:
As already stated, Sayaboc was a garrulous man and intelligent. It was in his character for him to want
to be a central figure in a drama, albeit tragic – for others. He would do what he wanted to do
regardless of the advice of others. Hence, Atty. Cornejo could only advise him of his constitutional
rights, which was apparently done. The said counsel could not stop him from making his confession
even if he did try.28
We find this explanation unacceptable. That Sayaboc was a "garrulous" man who would "do what he
wanted to do regardless of the advice of others" is immaterial. The waiver of a right is within the
rights of a suspect. What is lacking is a showing, to the satisfaction of this Court, of a faithful attempt
at each stage of the investigation to make Sayaboc aware of the consequences of his actions. If
anything, it appears that Sayaboc’s counsel was ineffectual for having been cowed by his client’s
enthusiasm to speak, or, worse, was indifferent to it.
The right to a competent and independent counsel means that the counsel should satisfy himself,
during the conduct of the investigation, that the suspect understands the import and consequences of
answering the questions propounded. In People v. Deniega,29 we said:
The desired role of counsel in the process of custodial investigation is rendered meaningless if the
lawyer merely gives perfunctory advice as opposed to a meaningful advocacy of the rights of the
person undergoing questioning. If the advice given is so cursory as to be useless, voluntariness is
impaired.
This is not to say that a counsel should try to prevent an accused from making a confession. Indeed, as
an officer of the court, it is an attorney’s duty to, first and foremost, seek the truth. However, counsel
should be able, throughout the investigation, to explain the nature of the questions by conferring with
his client and halting the investigation should the need arise. The duty of a lawyer includes ensuring
that the suspect under custodial investigation is aware that the right of an accused to remain silent may
be invoked at any time.
We understand the difficulty and frustration of police investigators in obtaining evidence to bring
criminals to justice. But even the hardest of criminals have rights that cannot be interfered with. Those
tasked with the enforcement of the law and who accuse those who violate it carry the burden of
ensuring that all evidence obtained by them in the course of the performance of their duties are
untainted with constitutional infirmity. The purpose of the stringent requirements of the law is to
protect all persons, especially the innocent and the weak, against possible indiscriminate use of the
powers of the government. Any deviation cannot be tolerated, and any fruit of such deviation shall be
excluded from evidence.
For these reasons, the extrajudicial confession of Sayaboc cannot be used in evidence against him. We
hold, however, that the prosecution has discharged its burden of proving his guilt for the crime of
homicide.
From the records of the case, there can be no doubt that Sayaboc shot and killed Galam in the early
evening of 2 December 1994. He was seen waiting at the Rooftop from 3:00 to 6:00 p.m. of that day,
shooting Galam shortly after the latter’s arrival, and fleeing from the scene of the crime to a waiting
tricycle. Credible witnesses described Sayaboc’s appearance to the police soon after the shooting
incident and prepared affidavits about the incident. They identified Sayaboc at the police station while
he was in custody, during the preliminary investigation, and, again, in open court. Such positive
identification constitutes more than sufficient direct evidence to uphold the finding that Sayaboc was
Galam’s killer. It cannot just be rebutted by Sayaboc’s bare denial and weak alibi.
Appellants’ claim that the information against them is insufficient for failure to specifically state that
treachery and evident premeditation were qualifying circumstances holds no water. In People v.
Aquino,30 we held that even after the recent amendments to the Rules of Criminal Procedure,
qualifying circumstances need not be preceded by descriptive words such as qualifying or qualified by
to properly qualify an offense. Nevertheless, from our review of the case, we find that neither evident
premeditation nor treachery has been sufficiently proved to qualify the crime to murder.
There is treachery when the offender commits any of the crimes against persons, employing means,
methods or forms in the execution thereof which tend directly and specially to insure its execution,
without risk to himself arising from the defense which the offended party might make. Thus, two
conditions must be present: (1) at the time of the attack, the victim was not in a position to defend
himself; and (2) the offender consciously adopted the particular means, method or form of attack
employed by him. For treachery to be appreciated, it must be present and seen by the witness right at
the inception of the attack. Where no particulars are known as to how the killing began, its
perpetration with treachery cannot merely be supposed. 31
In this case, the trial court concluded that the fact that the witnesses did not hear any shout or
conversation between the assailant and the victim immediately before the attack could only mean that
Sayaboc had approached his victim through stealth.32 While not improbable, that conclusion is merely
an inference. The fact remains that none of the witnesses testified as to how the aggression began. The
witnesses testified having heard four shots, the last two of which were seen as having been fired while
Sayaboc was facing Galam. The autopsy conducted by Dr. Labasan reveals two frontal wounds at the
thigh and the shoulder, and two wounds on the right side of Galam’s back. Although it is plausible that
the initial shots were fired from behind, such inference is insufficient to establish treachery. 33
Neither can we appreciate evident premeditation as a qualifying circumstance. Evident premeditation
exists when it is shown that the execution of a criminal act is preceded by cool thought and reflection
upon the resolution to carry out the criminal intent. The requisites of evident premeditation are (1) the
time when the accused determined to commit the crime; (2) an act manifestly indicating that the
accused clung to his determination; and (3) sufficient lapse of time between such determination and
execution to allow him to reflect upon the circumstances of his act.34
Without the extrajudicial confession narrating when Sayaboc was hired to kill Galam, the testimony
that the former inquired about the latter while waiting in the Rooftop from 3:00 p.m. to 6:00 p.m. of
that fateful day does not prove the time when Sayaboc decided to kill Galam. Settled is the rule that
when it is not shown how and when the plan to kill was hatched or what time had elapsed before that
plan was carried out, evident premeditation cannot be considered. 35
The aggravating circumstances of craft and price or reward, even if proved, can neither be considered
because they were not specifically alleged in the information. Section 8, Rule 110 of the 2000 Revised
Rules of Criminal Procedure requires that the information specify the aggravating circumstances
attending the commission of the crime for it to be considered in the imposition of penalty. This
requirement is beneficial to an accused and may, therefore, be given retroactive effect. 36
Thus, appellant Benjamin Sayaboc can be found guilty of the crime of homicide only, which is
punishable by reclusion temporal. There being no mitigating or aggravating circumstances appreciated
for or against him, the penalty to be imposed upon him should be in the medium period. Applying the
Indeterminate Sentence Law, he should be meted a penalty whose minimum is within the range of
prision mayor and whose maximum is within the range of reclusion temporal in its medium period.
We cannot subscribe to the contention of appellants Marlon Buenviaje, Miguel Buenviaje, and Patricio
Escorpiso that the case should be remanded to the trial court because they were denied the right to be
heard by the trial court. It must be remembered that their demurrer to evidence filed on 12 July 1999
was without prior leave of court. The motion for leave to file the said pleading was filed only the next
day. The filing of the demurrer was clearly without leave of court. The trial court, therefore, correctly
applied the rule on demurrer to evidence found in Section 15, Rule 119 of the 1985 Rules of Criminal
Procedure when it disallowed the abovementioned appellants to present evidence on their behalf.
The filing of a demurrer to evidence without leave of court is an unqualified waiver of the right to
present evidence for the accused. 37 The rationale for this rule is that when the accused moves for
dismissal on the ground of insufficiency of evidence of the prosecution evidence, he does so in the
belief that said evidence is insufficient to convict and, therefore, any need for him to present any
evidence is negated. An accused cannot be allowed to wager on the outcome of judicial proceedings
by espousing inconsistent viewpoints whenever dictated by convenience. The purpose behind the rule
is also to avoid the dilatory practice of filing motions for dismissal as a demurrer to the evidence and,
after denial thereof, the defense would then claim the right to present its evidence. 38
The trial court, therefore, correctly applied Section 15, Rule 119 of the 1985 Rules of Criminal
Procedure on demurrer to evidence when it disallowed the abovementioned appellants to present
evidence on their behalf. They cannot now claim that they were denied their right to be heard by
themselves and counsel.
On the basis of the evidence for the prosecution, we find the existence of conspiracy between Marlon
Buenviaje and Sayaboc.
It has been held that price or reward is evidence of conspiracy. 39 But the same was not established by
competent proof in this case. The extrajudicial confession 40 and the newspaper reports41 adduced by
the prosecution, which both contained Sayaboc’s statement pointing to Marlon Buenviaje as the one
who paid him P100,000 to kill Galam, are inadmissible in evidence. The first, as earlier stated, was
executed in violation of Sayaboc’s constitutional rights. The second are hearsay, since the authors of
such reports were not presented as witnesses to affirm the veracity thereof.42
Conspiracy need not, however, be established by direct proof; it may be shown by circumstantial
evidence.43 As correctly found by the trial court and concurred with by the OSG, the concatenation of
circumstantial evidence shows that Marlon Buenviaje conspired with Sayaboc, thus:
1. On 13 August 1994, Marlon Buenviaje had a fistfight with Joseph Galam, causing him injuries on
his face and prompting him to make a threat to kill the latter;44
2. More than three months later, Galam was killed by Sayaboc, who had no discernible motive to do
so;45
3. Shortly after shooting Galam, Sayaboc joined Marlon Buenviaje and the other appellants in the
tricycle, which was waiting in a vacant lot near the crime scene;46
4. The tricycle driven by Marlon Buenviaje sped away and disappeared;47
5. Marlon Buenviaje became a fugitive from justice for a long time, or until 10 July 1997; and
6. During the pendency of the case, the relatives of Marlon Buenviaje offered prosecution eyewitness
Diana Grace Jaramillo a job abroad, allowances, and two motorcycles in consideration of her
retraction of her testimony against Sayaboc.48
Circumstantial evidence is sufficient for conviction when (1) there is more than one circumstances
established; (2) the facts from which the inferences are derived have been proved; and (3) the
combination of all the circumstances is such as to produce a conviction beyond reasonable doubt. All
these requisites are present in the case at bar. Being a conspirator equally guilty as Sayaboc, Marlon
Buenviaje must be meted the same penalty as that of Sayaboc.
However, as to Miguel Buenviaje and Patricio Escorpiso, there is paucity of evidence linking them to
the killing. They might have been with Marlon Buenviaje in that tricycle, but there is nothing to show
that they knew of the conspiracy to kill Galam. Absent any active participation in furtherance of the
common design or purpose to kill Galam, their mere presence near the crime scene or in the tricycle
driven by Marlon Buenviaje does not necessarily make them conspirators. Even knowledge,
acquiescence or approval of the act – without the cooperation and the agreement to cooperate – is not
enough to establish conspiracy.49
Now on the civil liability of Sayaboc and Marlon Buenviaje. The trial court’s award of actual
damages, representing the wake and burial expenses, is reduced to P106,436, this being the amount
supported by receipts. The award of moral damages is, however, increased to P50,000 conformably
with current jurisprudence.50 In addition, the heirs of the victim are entitled to P50,000 as civil
indemnity ex delicto.
WHEREFORE, the decision of the Regional Trial Court of Bayombong, Nueva Ecija, Branch 27, in
Criminal Case No. 2912 is MODIFIED. Appellants Benjamin Sayaboc and Marlon Buenviaje are
found guilty beyond reasonable doubt of the crime of homicide and are each sentenced to suffer an
indeterminate penalty of ten (10) years of prision mayor as minimum to seventeen (17) years and four
(4) months of reclusion temporal as maximum and to pay jointly and severally the heirs of Joseph
Galam the amounts of P106,436 as actual damages; P50,000 as civil indemnity; P50,000 as moral
damages; and the cost of the suit. Appellants Miguel Buenviaje and Patricio Escorpiso are hereby
ACQUITTED on the ground of reasonable doubt.
Costs de oficio.
SO ORDERED.

G.R. No. 138386-87 May 20, 2004


PEOPLE OF THE PHILIPPINES, appellee,
vs.
EUFROCINO1 AGUDEZ y ASIONG @ "OPRING", RONILO AGUDEZ y COCOY @
"DANILO", RICARDO AGUDEZ y COCOY @ "OLONG", FERNANDO AGUDEZ y COCOY
(at large), PAQUITO KATIMPO y INGGO @ "KITOY" (at large), accused.
EUFROCINO AGUDEZ y ASIONG @ "OPRING", RONILO AGUDEZ y COCOY @
"DANILO", RICARDO AGUDEZ y COCOY @ "OLONG", accused-appellants.
DECISION
AUSTRIA-MARTINEZ, J.:
Before us for automatic review is the consolidated decision 2 of the Regional Trial Court (RTC) of
Kalibo, Aklan, Branch 2, in Criminal Cases Nos. 5176 and 5177 convicting appellant Eufrocino
Agudez and his two sons, appellants Ronilo Agudez and Ricardo Agudez of two counts of murder and
sentencing each of them to suffer the supreme penalty of death for each count.
Appellants were apprehended by police authorities on June 27, 1998. They were charged with murder
in two separate Informations both dated June 29, 1998 together with Fernando Agudez and Paquito
Katimpo, son and son-in-law of appellant Eufrocino, respectively.
The accusatory portions of the amended Informations, docketed as Criminal Cases Nos. 5176 and
5177, read as follows:
Criminal Case No. 5176
The undersigned Third Assistant Provincial Prosecutor of Aklan hereby accuses EUFRICINO
AGUDEZ Y ASIONG alias "OPRING", RONILO AGUDEZ Y COCOY alias "DANILO", RICARDO
AGUDEZ Y COCOY alias "OLONG", all of Sitio Binitinan, Barangay Oquendo, Balete, Aklan, but
presently detained at the Municipal Jail of Balete, Aklan, FERNANDO AGUDEZ Y COCOY and
PAQUITO KATIMPO Y INGGO alias "KITOY" both of Sitio Binitinan, Barangay Oquendo, Balete,
Aklan and both at large, of the crime of MURDER, committed as follows:
That on or about the 27th day of June, 1998, in the morning, in Sitio Panukduka, Barangay Oquendo,
Municipality of Balete, Province of Aklan, Republic of the Philippines, and within the jurisdiction of
this Honorable Court, the above-named accused, conspiring, confederating and mutually helping one
another, while armed with long shotguns, with intent to kill, with evident premeditation, treachery and
use of superior strength, did then and there willfully, unlawfully and feloniously attack, assault and
shoot one DOMINADOR CASTRO, thereby inflicting upon the latter mortal wounds, to wit:
1. GSW 1 cm. in diameter coursing downward and anteriorly at the occipital region.
2. GSW 1 cm. in diameter at the anterior aspect of the left wrist.
3. GSW 1 cm. in diameter at the left scapular region.
4. GSW 1 cm. in diameter coursing downward and anteriorly at the interscapular area.
5. GSW 1 cm. in diameter just below the right scapular region.
6. GSW 1 cm. in diameter right lower back.
7. GSW 1 cm. in diameter 2 cm. lateral to injury #6.
8. GSW 1 cm. in diameter coursing downward and anteriorly right buttock.
9. GSW 1 cm. in diameter posterior aspect of the distal 3rd of the right thigh.
as per Post Mortem Examination Report issued by Dr. Alfredo B. Villaruel, Rural Health Physician,
Balete, Aklan, hereto attached and made an integral part of this information, which wounds directly
caused the death of the said DOMINADOR CASTRO.
That as a result of the criminal acts of the accused, the heirs of the deceased suffered actual and
compensatory damages in the amount of ₱50,000.00.
CONTRARY TO LAW.3
Criminal Case No. 5177
The undersigned Third Assistant Provincial Prosecutor of Aklan hereby accuses EUFRICINO
AGUDEZ Y ASIONG alias "OPRING", RONILO AGUDEZ Y COCOY alias "DANILO", RICARDO
AGUDEZ Y COCOY alias "OLONG", all of Sitio Binitinan, Barangay Oquendo, Balete, Aklan, but
presently detained at the Municipal Jail of Balete, Aklan, FERNANDO AGUDEZ Y COCOY and
PAQUITO KATIMPO Y INGGO alias "KITOY" both of Sitio Binitinan, Barangay Oquendo, Balete,
Aklan and both at large, of the crime of MURDER, committed as follows:
That on or about the 27th day of June, 1998, in the morning, in Sitio Panukduka, Barangay Oquendo,
Municipality of Balete, Province of Aklan, Republic of the Philippines, and within the jurisdiction of
this Honorable Court, the above-named accused, conspiring, confederating and mutually helping one
another, while armed with long shotguns, with intent to kill, with evident premeditation, treachery and
use of superior strength, did then and there willfully, unlawfully and feloniously attack, assault and
shoot one MAMERTO C. NALANGAN, thereby inflicting upon the latter mortal wounds, to wit:
1. GSW 1 cm. in diameter just above the right scapular region.
2. GSW 1 cm. in diameter 2 cm lateral to injury #1.
3. GSW 1 cm. in diameter posterior aspect of the proximal 3rd of the right arm coursing downward
and medially.
4. GSW 1 cm. in diameter at the interscapular area.
5. GSW 1 cm. in diameter coursing downward and anteriorly at the infrascapular area.
6. GSW 1 cm. in diameter at the level of midspinal line and 7th rib.
7. GSW 1 cm. in diameter at the right lower back.
8. GSW 1 cm. in diameter coursing downward and anteriorly at the middle 3rd of left thigh.
9. GSW 1 cm. in diameter at the distal 3rd of left thigh.
10. GSW 1 cm. in diameter at posterior aspect of the proximal 3rd of left leg.
as per Post Mortem Examination Report issued by Dr. Alfredo B. Villaruel, Rural Health Physician,
Balete, Aklan, hereto attached and made an integral part of this information, which wounds directly
caused the death of the said MAMERTO NALANGAN.
That as a result of the criminal acts of the accused, the heirs of the deceased suffered actual and
compensatory damages in the amount of ₱50,000.00.
CONTRARY TO LAW.4
Upon arraignment, appellants Eufrocino, Ronilo and Ricardo pleaded not guilty to the charges against
them. The cases were consolidated and joint trial ensued.
Accused Fernando and Katimpo remain at large.
The prosecution evidence established the following facts:
On the basis of the prosecution evidence, the following transpired on June 27, 1998: About 5:00 in the
morning, Adoracion Castro, together with her husband Dominador Castro and their nephew Mamerto
Nalangan, left their house at Barangay Oquendo, Balete, Aklan. Travelling by foot, they headed for
Barangay Ganzon, Jamindan, Capiz to hear mass at the Seventh Day Adventist Church. Around 6:30,
they reached Jal-O river which was located at Sitio Panukduka, Barangay Oquendo, Balete, Aklan. As
they were crossing the river, one after the other, Adoracion suddenly heard a gunshot. She
immediately turned around as she was walking ahead of Dominador and Mamerto. She then saw
Dominador looking at her, biting his lips. She shouted at Dominador and told him to "duck to the
ground". Immediately thereafter, she heard two shots and saw Dominador and Mamerto fall into the
water. She went to the aid of Dominador and held him in her arms. While holding her husband,
Adoracion looked up and saw the five accused with their bodies, from the waist up, protruding from
fox holes dug in the ground. They were about ten armslength away from Adoracion and Dominador
and they were all armed with shotguns locally known as "pugakhang". They immediately ran and
scampered to different directions. Adoracion then told Dominador that she would go back home to ask
for help. However, before leaving her husband and nephew Mamerto, she noticed that both of them
were no longer breathing. She immediately informed her sons, Edwin and Efren, of the deaths of
Dominador and Mamerto.5 At 11:30 in the morning, Efren and a certain Barangay Captain Dandoy
reported the shooting incident to the police authorities in Balete, Aklan. The chief of police of Balete
then formed a team which proceeded to the crime scene and conducted an investigation. 6 After
finishing their investigation, the police authorities retrieved the bodies of Dominador and Mamerto
and brought them to Sitio Gubang, Barangay Guadalupe where the bodies were examined. 7 It was
around 6:00 in the evening that Adoracion again saw the body of her husband at Sitio Gubang. There
she was asked to identify a person who was earlier apprehended by the police. Adoracion identified
appellant Ricardo Agudez as one of the persons who shot her husband and nephew. 8 Around 7:00,
appellants Eufrocino and Ronilo were also apprehended by police authorities. 9 The following morning,
Adoracion identified them as among those who killed her husband and nephew.10
Adoracion further testified that the five accused shot at her husband and nephew because they were in
the belief that it was her son who had earlier killed a son of appellant Eufrocino.11
Appellants’ main defense is alibi. They, together with two other witnesses, Jenie Zaulda and Nelson
Cerezo, took the witness stand to prove their defense. The gist of their testimonies taken together is as
follows:
Around 6:30 in the morning of June 27, 1998, Jenie went to the house of barangay kagawad Nelson
Cerezo located at Barangay Julita, Libacao, Aklan. Upon arriving at Nelson’s house, he saw appellants
Eufrocino and Ricardo getting ready for work. Jenie is acquainted with them as he has seen them stay
in the house of Nelson starting in the month of June 1998. Jenie found out that Nelson was not at
home because he is attending the wake of a certain Iluminado Sagales. Since Jenie wanted to talk to
Nelson, he decided to go to the wake. Appellants Ricardo and Eufrocino went out of the house with
him.12 Jenie proceeded to the wake but Eufrocino and Ricardo went to Sitio Gaob, Barangay Julita,
Libacao, Aklan to construct a pigpen at the house of a certain Romeo Zamora. 13 Upon arriving at the
wake, Jenie saw Nelson and appellant Ronilo playing "tong-its", a card game. After briefly conversing
with Nelson, Jenie went home.14 On the other hand, appellants Ricardo and Eufrocino arrived at the
house of Zamora at 8:00 of the same morning and worked there until 3:00 in the afternoon of the same
day. After they finished constructing the pigpen, they went home. They arrived at the house of Nelson
at 4:30 of the same afternoon.15 Meanwhile, Nelson and appellant Ronilo arrived home earlier at 2:00
in the afternoon, having stayed at the wake since 9:00 in the evening of the previous day, January 26,
1998.16 It was in Nelson’s house that police authorities apprehended appellant Ricardo in the afternoon
of June 27, 1998.17 Later in the evening of the same day, appellants Eufrocino and Ronilo were also
arrested by policemen at the house of Nelson.18
On January 14, 1999, the trial court rendered a decision, the dispositive portion of which reads:
WHEREFORE, premises considered, this Court finds the accused Eufrocino Agudez y Asiong, Ronilo
Agudez y Cocoy and Ricardo Agudez y Cocoy, GUILTY beyond reasonable doubt of two (2) counts
of MURDER under Article 248 of the Revised Penal Code, as amended by R.A. 7659, and hereby
imposes upon each of them the penalty of DEATH for each count, and further ORDERS them to
jointly and severally pay
1) To the legal heirs of the victim Dominador Castro:
a) The amount of ₱50,000.00 for the victim’s death; and
b) The amount of ₱159,960 for the victim’s loss of earning capacity.
2) To the legal heirs of the victim Mamerto C. Nalangan:
a) The sum of ₱50,000.00 only for the victim’s death.
And lastly, for the time being, let these cases before this Court against the accused Fernando C.
Agudez and Paquito I. Katimpo who, as of this moment, are still at large, be sent to the Archives, to be
reopened only upon their apprehension by the authorities.
With costs.
SO ORDERED.19
Hence, herein automatic review pursuant to Article 47 of the Revised Penal Code, as amended.
Appellants raise the following Assignment of Errors:
I
THE TRIAL COURT ERRED IN FINDING THE ACCUSED GUILTY BEYOND REASONABLE
DOUBT OF THE CRIME OF MURDER.
II
THE TRIAL COURT ERRED IN APPRECIATING TREACHERY AND EVIDENT
PREMEDITATION AGAINST THE ACCUSED
III
THE TRIAL COURT ERRED IN APPRECIATING BAND AND UNINHABITED PLACE
AGAINST THE ACCUSED."20
On the Credibility of Prosecution Eye-witness
In their first assigned error, appellants assail the credibility of prosecution witness Adoracion Castro
who is the lone eyewitness to the crime. They claim that Adoracion could not have clearly seen the
perpetrators of the crime because of the presence of foliage around the holes where the assailants hid.
However, SPO2 Jerry Custodio testified that from the vantage point where the holes were located, the
cadavers of the victims could still be seen despite the presence of plants in the adjoining area. 21 Hence,
while it may be true that Adoracion did not have a clear line of vision because of the foliage
surrounding the holes where appellants and their companions hid, it is not improbable for her to have
seen and identified appellants as three of the five assailants of her husband and nephew, when they
emerged from the holes and scampered to different directions. Moreover, Adoracion could have easily
identified appellants as she was only about ten armslength away from the place where she saw them
and considering that all five accused were known to her since January 1998. 22
Appellants insinuate that Adoracion was ill-motivated in accusing them of killing her husband and
nephew. They claim that Adoracion simply wanted appellants thrown into jail to avenge the death of
her husband. However, we find appellants’ allegations unsubstantiated. The fact that Adoracion is
related to the victims does not necessarily taint her testimony. Blood relationship between a witness
and the victims does not, by itself, impair the witness’ credibility. 23 As the widow and aunt of the
victims Dominador and Mamerto, respectively, Adoracion is the most aggrieved party and her motive
of putting the killers behind bars cannot be considered improper. 24 We have held that it is unnatural for
an aggrieved relative who earnestly seeks justice to falsely accuse someone other than the actual
culprit. Moreover, since there is no competent evidence to prove that improper motive moved
Adoracion to testify falsely, the sound conclusion is that no such motive existed 25 and her testimony is
worthy of full faith and credit.26
The truthfulness of Adoracion’s testimony is also bolstered by the fact that evidence found in the
crime scene, consisting of spent shells of shotguns, the number of wounds sustained by the victims
and the pellet recovered from the left wrist of Dominador Castro during the autopsy 27 is consistent
with her statement as to the kind of weapons used by appellants and their companions.
The trial court lent credence to the testimony of Adoracion. Basic is the rule that this Court will not
interfere with the trial court’s assessment of the credibility of witnesses except when there appears on
record some fact or circumstance of weight and influence which the trial court has overlooked,
misapprehended or misinterpreted.28 The reason for this rule is that the trial court is in a better position
to decide the question, having heard the witnesses themselves and observed their deportment and
manner of testifying during the trial.29 In People vs. Magallanes30, we held that:
The trial court has the advantage of observing the witnesses through the different indicators of
truthfulness or falsehood, such as the angry flush of an insisted assertion, the sudden pallor of a
discovered lie, the tremulous mutter of a reluctant answer, or the forthright tone of a ready reply, or the
furtive glance, the blush of conscious shame, the hesitation, the yawn, the sigh, the candor or lack of
it, the scant or full realization of the solemnity of an oath, the carriage and mien.
In the present case, we find no compelling reason to depart from the trial court’s observation that
Adoracion Castro testified in a straightforward, sincere and natural manner and that her emotional
reactions in particular, were candid and spontaneous – revealing inter alia – that she was telling the
truth.31 The testimony of a single witness, if positive and credible, is sufficient to support a
conviction.32 The trial court did not err in finding appellants guilty of Murder beyond reasonable
doubt.
On Conspiracy
We agree with the trial court’s finding of conspiracy. Conspiracy exists when two or more persons
come to an agreement concerning the commission of a felony and decide to commit it. 33 In People vs.
Caballero, we held that:
Conspiracy must be proved with the same quantum of evidence as the crime itself, that is, by proof
beyond reasonable doubt. However, direct proof is not required as conspiracy may be proved by
circumstantial evidence. Conspiracy may be proved through the collective acts of the accused, before,
during and after the commission of a felony, all the accused aiming at the same object, one performing
one part and another performing another for the attainment of the same objective, their acts though
apparently independent were in fact concerted and cooperative, indicating closeness of personal
association, concerted action and concurrence of sentiments. The overt act or acts of the accused may
consist of active participation in the actual commission of the crime itself or may consist of moral
assistance to his co-conspirators by moving them to execute or implement the criminal plan. Direct
proof of a person in agreement to commit a crime is not necessary. It is enough that at the time
of the commission of a crime, all the malefactors had the same purpose and were united in their
execution. Once established, all the conspirators are criminally liable as co-principals regardless of
the degree of participation of each of them for in contemplation of the law, the act of one is the act of
all.34 (Emphasis supplied).
In the present case, the following circumstances prove the existence of conspiracy among the
appellant and the other two accused: (1) the presence of all the accused at the same time in an isolated
area where the killing took place; (2) the existence of five holes from each of which each of the five
accused emerged; (3) all five of the accused were armed with shotguns or "pugakhang"; (4) after the
victims fell when fired upon by all of them, all the accused simultaneously came out of hiding and
scampered to the thickets. In conspiracy, "where conspiracy is directly established, with proof of the
attendant deliberation and selection of the method, time and means of executing the crime, the
existence of evident premeditation can be appreciated".35
The second and third assigned errors refer to the appreciation by the trial court of the aggravating
circumstances of treachery, evident premeditation, band and uninhabited place.
On Treachery
There is treachery when the offender commits any of the crimes against persons, employing means,
methods or forms in the execution thereof which tend directly and specially to insure its execution,
without risk to himself arising from the defense which the offended party might make. 36 Hence, for
treachery to be appreciated, two conditions must be met, to wit: (1) the employment of means,
methods or manner of execution that would ensure the offender’s safety from any defense or
retaliatory act on the part of the offended party; and (2) the offender’s deliberate or conscious choice
of the means, method or manner of execution.37
Adoracion did not actually see how the shooting started or how the attack was commenced. However,
she testified that she was only about five armslength away from her husband and nephew when she
heard the first gunshot. No amount of warning could have prepared the victims against the impending
danger that befell upon them. The essence of treachery is that the attack is deliberate and without
warning, done in a swift and unexpected manner of execution, affording the hapless and unsuspecting
victim no chance to resist or escape. 38 When they were assaulted, the victims were peacefully crossing
the Jal-O river without any inkling that they were about to be attacked. Appellants and their
companions purposively established themselves in strategic positions from which vantage point they
fired upon the victims, taking them by surprise. The fact that the victims’ backs were turned towards
their assailants at the time they were fired upon only proves the treacherousness of the attack. The
victims were not even given the chance to face their attackers as they were felled by successive bursts
of gunshots. Moreover, at the time of the shooting, the victims were then crossing the river and the
water was about thigh deep.39 This circumstance must have considerably decreased the victims’
mobility giving them less opportunity to seek cover and at the same time ensured the safety of
appellants and their cohorts from any retaliatory act that the victims might have made. Except for their
bags and the hoe Dominador was carrying, the victims were unarmed and had nothing to defend
themselves with against the firearms used by their assailants. Even granting that Dominador and
Mamerto saw their attackers immediately before they were fired upon, such circumstance would not
render the attack less treacherous as it was executed with such swift, vicious and stealthy manner as to
render any defense like the use of the hoe virtually impossible.
Furthermore, the deadly nature of the weapons used and the number and location of the wounds
inflicted upon the victims demonstrate a treacherous, deliberate and determined assault with intent to
kill. As earlier mentioned, Dominador Castro sustained nine wounds. 40 Except for a single wound on
his left wrist, all of his wounds were located at his back. 41 In the same manner, Mamerto Nalangan
sustained ten wounds, all of which were located at his back. 42 The victims were shot from behind. We
have held that treachery exists when a defenseless victim was shot from behind for this shows that the
appellant had employed means of attack which offered no risk to himself from any defensive or
retaliatory act which the victim might have taken.43
On Evident Premeditation
Evident premeditation requires proof showing: (1) the time when the accused determined to commit
the crime; (2) an act manifestly indicating that the accused has clung to his determination; and (3)
sufficient lapse of time between such determination and execution to allow him to reflect upon the
consequences of his act.44
In the present case, we find no clear and positive evidence to prove the first and third requisites. While
there are pieces of evidence on the basis of which it can be inferred that appellants and their
companions made preparations in shooting the victims, no proof was shown as to how and when the
plan to kill was hatched or the time that elapsed before it was carried out. As we held in People vs.
Jarlos,45 evident premeditation may not be appreciated where there is no proof as to how and when the
plan to kill was hatched or the time that elapsed before it was carried out.
Since there is no evidence of the time when appellants conceived the plot to kill the victims, it could
not be ascertained whether there is sufficient lapse of time between the determination to kill and the
execution of the crime so as to allow them to reflect upon the consequences of the concerted act.
On Abuse of Superior Strength
Since treachery attended the killing, abuse of superior strength alleged in the Information is absorbed
by said circumstance.46
Although it may be noted that the two Informations charging appellants with separate crimes of
murder failed to specifically allege treachery, evident premeditation and abuse of superior strength as
qualifying circumstances, the established rule is that . . .
[I]t is the specific allegation of the attendant circumstance, and not the use of the words aggravatingor
qualifying circumstances, that raises a crime to a higher category. Thus, the words qualifying,
qualified by, aggravating, or aggravated by need not be expressly stated as long as the particular
attendant circumstances are specified in the information. We reiterate our pronouncements in said case
that Sections 8 and 9 of Rule 110 of the Revised Rules of Criminal Procedure merely require that the
information allege, specify, or enumerate the attendant circumstances mentioned in the law that
qualify or aggravate the offense.47
Hence, in the present case, while the two Informations charging appellants with separate crimes of
murder did not use the words "aggravated by" or "qualified by", the presence of treachery, evident
premeditation and abuse of superior strength in the killing of Dominador and Mamerto is alleged
therein. Such specification, enumeration or allegation sufficiently satisfies the requirements of
Sections 8 and 9, Rule 110 of the Revised Rules of Criminal Procedure, to wit:
Sec. 8. Designation of the offense. – The complaint or information shall state the designation of the
offense given by the statute, aver the acts or omissions constituting the offense, and specify its
qualifying and aggravating circumstances. If there is no designation of the offense, reference shall be
made to the section or subsection of the statute punishing it.
Sec. 9. Cause of the accusation. – The acts or omissions complained of as constituting the offense and
the qualifying and aggravating circumstances must be stated in ordinary and concise language and not
necessarily in the language used in the statute but in terms sufficient to enable a person of common
understanding to know what offense is being charged as well as its qualifying and aggravating
circumstances and for the court to pronounce judgment.
The qualifying circumstance of treachery having been alleged and proved by competent evidence, the
trial court correctly found appellants guilty of Murder beyond reasonable doubt.
On Band and Uninhabited Place
We agree with appellants that the aggravating circumstances of band and uninhabited place although
established by the prosecution evidence should not have been appreciated by the trial court because
they were not alleged in the two Informations as required by the aforequoted Sections 8 and 9, Rule
110 of the Revised Rules of Criminal Procedure. It may be noted that the crime was committed in
1998, before the effectivity of the said Revised Rules on December 1, 2000. However, the Rules may
be applied retroactively because they are more favorable to the appellants.48
Appellants’ Defense
Appellants’ defense of alibi cannot prosper. Basic is the rule that the defense of alibi should be
rejected when the identity of the accused has been sufficiently and positively established by an
eyewitness because alibi cannot prevail over positive identification.49
Criminal Liability of Appellants
Under Article 248 of the Revised Penal Code, the penalty for murder is reclusion perpetua to death.
Article 63 of the same Code provides that when the law prescribes two indivisible penalties, the lesser
penalty shall be imposed when, in the commission of the deed, there are neither mitigating nor
aggravating circumstances. In the present case, no mitigating circumstances were proven. Neither did
the prosecution allege and prove any aggravating circumstance. Hence, the penalty of death imposed
by the trial court should be reduced to reclusion perpetua, in each case.
Civil Liability of Appellants
We find no error in the trial court’s award of ₱50,000.00 as civil indemnity to the respective heirs of
Dominador Castro and Mamerto Nalangan, without need of proof other than the fact that a crime was
committed resulting in the deaths of the victims and that the accused are responsible therefor. 50
The trial court awarded the heirs of Dominador Castro the amount of ₱159,960.00 by reason of the
victim’s loss of earning capacity. The general rule is that documentary evidence should be presented to
substantiate a claim for damages for loss of earning capacity. 51 By way of exception, damages may be
awarded despite the absence of documentary evidence provided that there is testimony that the victim
was either (1) self-employed earning less than the minimum wage under current labor laws, and
judicial notice may be taken of the fact that in the victim’s line of work no documentary evidence is
available; or (2) employed as a daily wage worker earning less than the minimum wage under current
labor laws.52 In the present case, no documentary evidence was presented to prove the claim of
Dominador’s heirs for damages by reason of loss of earning capacity. However, Adoracion testified
that at the time of his death, Dominador was 60 years old 53; his occupation was farming, carpentry and
making of banana fiber; and, he earned not less than ₱1,000.00 a month. 54 We find Adoracion’s
testimony sufficient to justify the award of damages for loss of earning capacity.
Although appellants did not assail the amount awarded by the trial court, the same should be modified
in accordance with current jurisprudence. In the case of People vs. Carriaga,55 we provided for the
formula in determining a person’s net earning capacity as follows:
2/3 x (80 – age of the x (a reasonable victim at the time portion of the of his
Net Earning
death) annual net income which would have been received by the heirs for
Capacity =
support)
Absent any proof of living expenses, the net income is deemed to be 50 % of the gross income.56 Hence,
in accordance with the formula outlined above, the heirs of Dominador should be awarded the amount
of ₱80,000.00, rounded off, for the victim’s loss of earning capacity, computed as follows:
2/3 x (80-60) x [₱12,000.00 - ½
(₱12,000.00)]
Net Earning
2/3 x (20) x ₱6,000.00
Capacity =
13.33 x ₱6,000.00
₱79,999.99
The trial court correctly ruled that the heirs of Mamerto Nalangan are not entitled to be indemnified
for loss of earning capacity because no evidence was presented to prove Mamerto’s occupation as well
as his income.
We likewise find no error in the trial court’s ruling that actual or compensatory damages may not be
awarded because the prosecution failed to present competent evidence to support their claim for actual
damages. Instead of official receipts, the prosecution was only able to present a self-serving list of
expenses to prove the actual expenses incurred by the heirs of Dominador and Mamerto. We have held
that a list of expenses cannot replace receipts when the latter should have been issued as a matter of
course in business transactions.57 Neither can the mere testimonies of Adoracion Castro and Efren
Castro on the amount they spent suffice. It is necessary for a party seeking an award for actual
damages to produce competent proof or the best evidence obtainable to justify such award. 58
Nonetheless, in lieu of actual damages, the heirs of Dominador and Mamerto may be awarded
temperate damages in the amount of ₱25,000.00, in accordance with prevailing jurisprudence, as it has
been shown that the family of the victims incurred burial and funeral expenses, although the amount
thereof cannot be proved with certainty.59
The trial court did not award moral damages.
With respect to Dominador, the prosecution presented Adoracion Castro, wife of the deceased victim
who testified as to the pain and the suffering experienced by the heirs. 60 Hence, the heirs of
Dominador Castro are entitled to moral damages in the amount of ₱50,000.00.
On the other hand, none of the heirs of Mamerto Nalangan was presented to testify on the emotional
anguish they felt by reason of the latter’s death. Moral damages cannot be awarded if no evidence,
testimonial or otherwise, was presented by the prosecution to support it. 61 Hence, the heirs of Mamerto
are not entitled to moral damages.
The heirs of the victims are entitled to exemplary damages. The presence of the aggravating
circumstances of band and uninhabited place was proven in the present case as earlier discussed.
While these circumstances could not aggravate the crime because they were not specifically alleged in
the Informations in violation of Section 8, Rule 110 of the Revised Rules of Criminal Procedure,
insofar as the civil aspect of the case is concerned, the presence of these aggravating circumstances
entitles the heirs of Dominador and Mamerto to exemplary damages in the amount of ₱25,000.00 in
accordance with Article 2230 of the Civil Code62 and with prevailing jurisprudence.63
WHEREFORE, the Decision of the Regional Trial Court of Kalibo, Aklan, Branch 2, is AFFIRMED
with MODIFICATIONS. Appellants Eufrocino Agudez y Asiong, Ronilo Agudez y Cocoy and
Ricardo Agudez y Cocoy are found guilty beyond reasonable doubt of Murder in Criminal Cases Nos.
5176 and 5177 and are sentenced to suffer the penalty of reclusion perpetua for each crime.
Appellants are directed to pay, jointly and severally, the heirs of Dominador Castro the amounts of
₱50,000.00 as civil indemnity, ₱50,000.00 as moral damages, ₱80,000.00 for loss of earning capacity,
₱25,000.00 as temperate damages and ₱25,000.00 as exemplary damages; and to the heirs of Mamerto
Nalangan the amounts of ₱50,000.00 as civil indemnity, ₱25,000.00 as temperate damages and
₱25,000.00 as exemplary damages.
Costs de oficio.
SO ORDERED.

G.R. Nos. 108172-73 May 25, 1994


PEOPLE OF THE PHILIPPINES,plaintiff-appellee,
vs.
CONRADO LUCAS Y BRIONES,accused-appellant.
The Solicitor General for plaintiff-appellee.

Public Attorney's Office for accused-appellant.

DAVIDE, JR., J.:


In a sworn statement 1 ᄃ taken on 16 February 1991, Chanda Lucas y Austria, then
seventeen years old, charged her natural father, accused Jose Conrado Lucas, of
attempted rape committed against her on 12 February 1991. She revealed therein that she
was first raped by him when she was only nine years old, or, as disclosed in a handwritten
note at the left-hand margin of her sworn statement, "noong Nov. 26, 1982. . . at naulit ng
maraming beses."

On 19 February 1991, Chanda, assisted by her mother, Ofelia Austria-Lucas, filed two
separate sworn criminal complaints for rape 2 ᄃ and for attempted rape 3 ᄃ against her
father with the Regional Trial Court of Quezon City. The complaints, docketed as
Criminal Cases Nos. Q-91-18465 and Q-91-18466, were subsequently assigned to Branch
104 of the said court.

The accusatory portion of the complaint for rape in Criminal Case


No. Q-91-18465 reads:
That on or about the 26th day of November 1982 and sometime thereafter in Quezon City, Philippines
and within the jurisdiction of this Honorable Court, the above-named accused, with lewd designs and
by means of violence and intimidation did then and there, wilfully, unlawfully and feloniously have
sexual intercourse with the undersigned CHANDA LUCAS Y AUSTRIA, who was then nine (9) years
old, now 17 yrs. of age, against her will, to her damage and prejudice in such amount as may be
awarded to her under the provisions of the New Civil Code.
while that for attempted rape in Criminal Case No. Q-91-18466 reads:
That on or about the 12th day of February 1991, in Quezon City, Philippines and within the
jurisdiction of this Honorable Court, the above named accused, did then and there wilfully, unlawfully
and feloniously with lewd design and by means of force and intimidation, commence the commission
of the crime of rape directly by overt acts by then and there taking advantage of complainant's tender
age and innocence, by then and there putting his hand inside the panty of the undersigned and mashing
her vagina while his other hand was pressing her nipples and at the same time kissing her on the lips,
face and neck, thereafter accused placed himself on top of her but said accused did not perform all the
acts of execution which should produce the said offense of rape by reason of the fact that the brother
and sister of the undersigned was awakened and shouted upon the accused, a cause other than the
spontaneous desistance of the said accused, that the aforesaid act of the said accused was done against
the will of the undersigned, to her damage and prejudice in such amount as may be awarded to her
under the provisions of the New Civil Code.
The cases were jointly tried after the accused had pleaded not guilty upon his arraignment. 4 ᄃ The
prosecution presented as witnesses the complainant herself; her sister, Cynthia; and Dr.
Emmanuel Aranas. The defense presented only the accused.

Complainant Chanda Lucas, who was born on 2 June 1973, 5 ᄃ testified that their0 house
at 23-X Daropa Road, Baesa, Quezon City, has only one bedroom. On 26 November
1983, she was sleeping in the bedroom with her brother and sisters. Their mother did not
sleep in their house at that time. At about 2:00 to 3:00 a.m., she awoke and realized that
her father was removing her panty and shorts. He cautioned her to keep quiet. Then, her
father, who was already naked, went on top of her and placed his sexual organ inside her
vagina. She was hurt but did not resist because her father threatened to kill her. Only her
older sister Cynthia witnessed the incident. Chanda reported the incident to her mother
and her aunt but the former did nothing. When her aunt said that her father should be
jailed, her mother did not agree. 6 ᄃ

The 26 November 1983 incident was only the first of many atrocities. Since then, her
father had been repeatedly molesting her, especially when her mother was not around.
The last assault on her womanhood occurred on 12 February 1991 when she was already
seventeen years old. Before he had sex with her at 3:00 a.m. on 12 February 1991, he first
moved her brothers and sisters, who were sleeping in the same room with her, to another
place. She did not resist because he had a balisong with him and told her that he can take
her life anytime. After the sexual assault, he stood up holding his balisong 7 ᄃ and again
said that she has only one life and that he can take it anytime.

On the morning of 16 February 1992, in the company of her mother and uncle, she
reported the incident to the police in their area. The police investigator questioned her and
her sworn statement (Exhibit "D") was taken. In the afternoon of that day, she submitted
to a medical examination at Camp Crame and a medical certificate was issued. 8 ᄃ
Cynthia Lucas Viado, the elder sister of Chanda, testified that she witnessed the incident of 26
November 1983. She was then thirteen years old while Chanda was only nine years old. She saw his
father on top of Chanda, then she closed her eyes and covered her face with a blanket. She reported
the incident and the fact that she saw blood on the underwear of Chanda to her aunt Neneng and her
mother; the former was very angry upon learning of the incident but the latter did not believe her; at
that time, her mother loved her father
dearly. 9 ᄃ On cross- examination, Cynthia declared that her father intended to sexually
abuse her on 26 November 1983 but because she resisted, her father instead raped
Chanda. She was not able to help Chanda because she was afraid of her father. Their
brother and another sister were not aware of the incident and they did not wake them up
because they were ashamed of their neighbors. 10 ᄃ

Dr. Emmanuel Aranas testified that he examined the complainant on 16 February 1991 at
the Crime Laboratory Services at Camp Crame pursuant to a letter-request 11 ᄃ from
Capt. Jaime Q. Peralta of the Central Police district, Quezon City. His examination of her
genitalia disclosed healed lacerations, but he could not determine when the lacerations
were inflicted or sustained. He concluded that the complainant has had several sexual
experiences and was no longer a virgin. 12 ᄃ He issued a written report of his findings. 13
ᄃ On cross-examination, he declared that he found no sperm on the organ of the
complainant and that there were no signs of recent trauma or physical injuries on her. 14 ᄃ

On the witness stand, the accused testified that he and Chanda's mother, Ofelia Austria,
are not married; however, since 1969, they had been living together as husband and wife
until 1972, when he was detained for alleged gunrunning and when Ofelia and the
children moved to Cotabato. They were reunited in 1977. He denied having raped his
second daughter, Chanda, and alleged that the brothers and sisters of Ofelia, particularly
Leonardo Austria, were all angry at him and instigated the filing of the fabricated charges
against him. He further declared that Ofelia was angry at him because he intervened in
guiding the life of Chanda. He could not recall anymore where he was on 26 November
1983. However, on 12 February 1991, he and Ofelia quarreled about Chanda's frequent
late arrivals from school and, because of the quarrel, he "physically harmed" both of
them. 15 ᄃ
On 28 October 1992, the trial court promulgated its decision 16 ᄃ in the two cases finding the
accused guilty beyond reasonable doubt of two crimes of rape. The dispositive portion of
the decision reads:

WHEREFORE, judgment is rendered as follows:


In Crim. Case No. Q-91-18465, the prosecution was able to establish the guilt of the accused beyond
reasonable doubt of the crime of rape as charged in the information, he is hereby sentenced to suffer
the penalty of RECLUSION PERPETUAplus all the accessory penalties provided by law.
In Crim. Case No. Q-91-18466, the prosecution was able to establish the guilt of the accused beyond
reasonable doubt of the crime of rape as charged in the information, he is hereby sentenced to suffer
the penalty of RECLUSION PERPETUA, plus all the accessory penalties provided by law.
Accused is ordered to pay the victim the sum of P30,000.00 as actual and moral damages without
subsidiary imprisonment in case of insolvency. 17 ᄃ

On 4 November 1992, the accused filed a notice of appeal. 18 ᄃ In his brief submitted to
this Court, he alleges that the trial court erred:

I
. . . IN GIVING UNMERITED VERACITY TO THE INCREDIBLE, UNPERSUASIVE AND
UNRELIABLE TESTIMONIES OF THE PROSECUTION WITNESSES AND IN DISREGARDING
THE EVIDENCE ADDUCED BY THE DEFENSE.
II
. . . IN CONVICTING HIM OF THE CRIME OF RAPE IN CRIMINAL CASE NO. Q-91-18466
INASMUCH AS THE SAME IS MORE SERIOUS THAN THE OFFENSE CHARGED.
III
. . . IN CONVICTING ACCUSED-APPELLANT OF THE CRIME OF RAPE IN CRIMINAL CASE
NO Q-91-18465 DESPITE THE FACT THAT HIS GUILT WAS NOT PROVED BEYOND
REASONABLE DOUBT. 19 ᄃ

As to the first assigned error, the accused asserts that the conduct of his daughters,
Chanda and Cynthia, after the alleged first sexual abuse casts doubt on their credibility. It
is hard to believe that if Chanda were indeed raped by him when she was only nine years
old and repeatedly thereafter, she would report the abuses only when she was seventeen
years old. Several remedies were available to her and she had relatives who could extend
their help. 20 ᄃ
He also contends that the testimony of Cynthia is not convincing; it was contrary to human experience
and conduct for her to simply close her eyes and cover her face with a blanket upon witnessing the
rape of her younger sister by their own father instead of helping Chanda. If she was afraid of her father
at that time, she could have convinced Chanda to temporarily leave their house and seek shelter with
her relatives. It was also unnatural for her to abandon Chanda when, as she claims, she fully knew the
bestial tendencies of her father. 21 ᄃ As to his wife, Ofelia, he attributes to her an ulterior
motive when she consented to the filing of the charges against him. Except for the
souring of their relationship which ended in their separation, he finds no possible
explanation why Ofelia believed Chanda's report on the 12 February 1991 incident when
she, Ofelia, refused to heed Chanda and Cynthia's report concerning the 26 November
1983 incident.

Anent the second assigned error, he contends that he could not be validly convicted of
rape in Criminal Case No. Q-91-18466 under a complaint for attempted rape only. He
cites the rule that when the offense proved is more serious than that charged, the accused
can only be convicted of the offense charged.
The appellee, through the Office of the Solicitor General, prays that the judgment of conviction in
Criminal Case No. Q-91-18465 be affirmed in toto. However, it submits that the accused can be
convicted only of attempted rape in Criminal Case No. Q-91-18466. The appellee argues that the trial
court correctly gave credence to the testimony of Chanda as it is "positive, straightforward and clearly
revelatory only of the truth of the facts she experienced, without any dubious motive shown why she
would bear false witness against appellant." 22 ᄃ The reaction which the accused expected of
Chanda after the first rape and which she did not so manifest does not necessarily lead to
a conclusion that she fabricated her story. As Chanda's father, he exercised absolute
authority and moral influence over her. Moreover, at the tender age of nine, she was
totally helpless and defenseless. And regarding the imputed motive of Chanda's mother,
the same is too trivial to prompt her to falsely charged him with a grave crime.

The first and third assigned errors raise a question of fact which hinges on the credibility
of the prosecution witnesses. The second involves a question of law.
In rape cases, this Court has been guided by three well-entrenched principles: (1) an accusation for
rape can be made with facility; it is difficult to prove but more difficult for the person accused, though
innocent, to disprove; (2) in view of the intrinsic nature of the crime of rape where only two persons
are usually involved, the testimony of the complainant must be scrutinized with extreme caution; and
(3) the evidence for the prosecution must stand or fall on its own merits and cannot be allowed to draw
strength from the weakness of the evidence for the defense. 23 ᄃ
Conclusions as to the credibility of witnesses in rape cases lie heavily on the sound judgment of the
trial court. Accordingly, in the appreciation of the evidence, the appellate court accords due deference
to the trial court's views on who should be given credence since the latter is in a better position to
decide the question of the credibility of witnesses, having seen and heard these witnesses and observed
their deportment and manner of testifying during the trial. The trial court's findings concerning the
credibility of witnesses carry great weight and respect and will be sustained by the appellate court
unless the trial court overlooked, misunderstood or misapplied some facts or circumstances of weight
and substance which would have affected the result of the case. 24 ᄃ
After a careful examination of the records and the evidence, we are unable to find any cogent reason
to disturb the finding of the trial court that the accused raped his daughter, Chanda, on 26 November
1983 and 12 February 1991.
As regards the first charge, there is, however, a variance between the evidence presented and the
allegations of the complaint. The complaint in Criminal Case No. Q-91-18465 charges the accused
with the crime of rape committed on 26 November 1982. Both Chanda and Cynthia, however, testified
that the incident took place on 26 November 1983. 25 ᄃ The accused offered no objection to
such evidence. Consequently, the variance was not fatal to the prosecution.

In United States vs. Arcos, 26 ᄃ this Court ruled:

Where time or place or any other fact alleged is not an essential element of the crime
charged, conviction may be had on proof of the commission of the crime, even if it
appear that the crime was not committed at the precise time or placed alleged, or if the
proof fails to sustain the existence of some immaterial fact set out in the complaint,
providing it appears that the specific crime charged was in fact committed prior to the
date of the filing of the complaint or information within the period of the statute of
limitations, and at a place within the jurisdiction of the court. (U.S. vs. Smith, and cases
cited, 2 Phil. Rep., 20).

The unobjected testimony of another date of the commission of the crime charged in
Criminal Case No. Q-91-18465 could even be the basis for an amendment of the
complaint to make it conform to the evidence. 27 ᄃ
Section 14, Rule 110 of the Rules of Court also provides:
Sec. 14. Amendment. — The information or complaint may be amended, in substance and form,
without leave of court, at any time before the accused pleads; and thereafter and during the trial as to
all matters of form, by leave and at the discretion of the court, when the same can be done without
prejudice to the rights of the accused.
xxx xxx xxx
Chanda was less than twelve years old when she was raped by the accused on 26 November 1983.
Since she was born on 2 June 1973, she was then exactly ten years, five months, and twenty-four days
old.
Article 335 of the Revised Penal Code reads:
Art. 335. When and how rape is committed. — Rape is committed by having carnal knowledge of a
woman under any of the following circumstances:
1. By using force or intimidation;
2. When the woman is deprived of reason or otherwise unconscious; and
3. When the woman is under twelve (12) years of age, even though neither of the circumstances
mentioned in the two next preceding paragraphs shall be present.
xxx xxx xxx
The third paragraph is known as statutory rape or the unlawful carnal knowledge of a woman below
12 years of age. 28 ᄃ Otherwise stated, carnal knowledge alone is sufficient for conviction
as the presence of any of the circumstances mentioned in paragraphs 1 and 2 of Article
335 is not required. 29 ᄃ

As found by the trial court and fully supported by the evidence, the accused had carnal
knowledge of his daughter Chanda — then below twelve years old — on 26 November
1983. We are not persuaded by the arguments of the accused that if indeed she were raped
on that date and several times thereafter, she should not have kept her silence until she
was seventeen years old since she had all the available remedies for redress as well as
relatives who could help her. The equanimity or the wisdom of more mature persons
cannot be expected from a young and immature girl like Chanda. We have said before
that the workings of a human mind when placed under emotional stress are unpredictable
and that people react differently to various situations. 30 ᄃ
In addition to her tender age and immaturity, Chanda was, to say the least, a victim of unfavorable
circumstances not of her own making. These prevented her from exposing earlier the evil deeds of her
father. All that she could proudly claim was a beautiful name — Chanda. She had no decent home.
Her father and her mother were not married and were untrammeled by the bonds of lawful wedlock.
When she was born, her father was under detention for gunrunning and it was only when she was four
years old (1977) when he rejoined his "family." Since then, all the members of the family slept in one
room. Chanda had no choice of another home, for it does not appear that another was available to the
family or that she was prepared to leave it because she had the means to face life alone or that a kind
soul had offered her shelter. She was a victim of poverty and a virtual captive in the only "home" her
natural parents could provide, for she was entirely dependent upon them.
Verily, she was completely under the moral ascendancy and control of her father and the fear alone of
a harsher life outside such a "home" and of what her father would do if she would expose his evil
deeds, made her suffer in silence for a long time the excruciating pains his assaults inflicted upon her.
Then too, although she told her mother about the abuse committed by her father on 26 November
1983, 31 ᄃ her mother only got angry but did not do anything. Chanda must have felt
despair at such indifference.

Her delay in reporting the sexual assaults to the authorities is thus understandable and
does not affect her credibility. We do not believe that she would fabricate a story of
defloration against her own father, make public her painful and humiliating experiences
which are better kept in secret or forgotten, allow her private parts to be examined, and
eventually bring to shame her own family and jeopardize her chances of marriage unless
she was not telling the truth and was motivated by nothing but the desire to obtain justice
for the grievous wrongs committed against her. 32 ᄃ
There was a consummated rape on 12 February 1991. According to Chanda's testimony, at 3:00 a.m.
that day, the accused, who had a balisong with him, laid down beside her, threatened her that she had
only one life which he can take away any time; removed her shorts and panty and then moved on top
of her and inserted "his organ to her organ." Thereafter, he stood up holding his balisong and reiterated
his earlier threat. 33 ᄃ
Considering, however, that the complaint for this incident subject of Criminal Case No. Q-91-18466
charges the accused with the crime of attempted rape, then, as correctly pointed out by the accused in
his second assigned error and concurred in by the Office of the Solicitor General, he cannot be
convicted of consummated rape.
Section 4, Rule 120 of the Rules of Court provides that "[w]hen there is variance between the offense
charged in the complaint or information, and that proved or established by the evidence, and the
offense as charged is included in or necessarily includes the offense proved, the accused shall be
convicted of
the offense proved included in that which is charged, or of the offense charged included in that which
is proved." The offense charged in Criminal Case
No. Q-91-18466 (attempted rape) is necessarily included in the offense that was proved
(consummated rape). Accordingly, the accused should be convicted of attempted rape only. The
penalty for attempted rape is prision mayor, which is two degrees lower than that provided by law for
rape. 34 ᄃ The accused is entitled to the benefits of the Indeterminate Sentence Law, and
for attempted rape he may be sentenced to a penalty whose minimum should be within
the range of prision correccionaland whose maximum should be within the range range of
prision mayor, taking into account the modifying circumstances. The alternative
circumstance of relationship provided for in Article 15 of the Revised Penal Code should
be appreciated against the accused considering that the offended party, Chanda, is his
descendant. In crimes against chastity, such as rape, relationship is aggravating. 35 ᄃ

Prior to R.A. No. 7659, 36 ᄃ the presence of modifying circumstances would not affect
the penalty of reclusion perpetua prescribed for the crime of rape because such a penalty
was then indivisible and under Article 63 of the Revised Penal Code, when the law
prescribes a single indivisible penalty, it shall be applied by the courts regardless of any
mitigating or aggravating circumstances that may have attended the commission of the
deed. However, pursuant to Section 21 of R.A. No. 7659, which amended Article 27 of
the Revised Penal Code, reclusion perpetua has now a defined duration, i.e., from twenty
(20) years and one (1) day to forty (40) years. There is, however, no corresponding
amendment to Article 76 of the same Code for the purpose of converting reclusion
perpetua into a divisible penalty with three specific
period — minimum, medium, and maximum — and including it in the table provided
therein showing the duration and the time included in each of the periods.

It may thus be said that although the law has now fixed the duration of reclusion
perpetua, it did not make explicit its intention to convert it into a divisible penalty. In any
event, Article 65 of the Code which provides:
Art. 65. Rules in cases in which the penalty is not composed of three periods. — In cases in which the
penalty prescribed by law is not composed of three periods, the courts shall apply the rules contained
in the foregoing articles, dividing into three equal portions of time included in the penalty prescribed,
and forming one period of each of the three portions.
may be applied. Accordingly, the time included in the penalty of reclusion perpetua
(twenty [20] years and one [1] days to forty [40] years) can be divided into three equal
portions, with each composing a period. The periods of reclusion perpetua would then be
as follows:
minimum — 20 years and 1 day to 26 years and 8 months
medium — 26 years, 8 months and 1 day to 33 years and 4 months
maximum — 34 years, 4 months and 1 day to 40 years

Taking into account the presence of the aggravating circumstance of relationship in


Criminal Case No. Q-91-18465, the accused may finally be sentenced to thirty-four (34)
years, four (4) months and one (1) day of reclusion perpetua.
Considering again such aggravating circumstance, the accused may be sentenced in Criminal Case No.
Q-91-18466 to an indeterminate penalty ranging from four (4) years, two (2) months and one (1) day
of prision correccionalmaximum as minimumto ten (10) years and one (1) day of prision mayor
maximum as maximum.
There should also be awards for damages in each of the two cases.
WHEREFORE, the challenged Decision of 28 October 1992 of Branch 104 of the Regional Trial
Court of Quezon City in Criminal Case
No. Q-91-18465 and Criminal Case No. Q-91-18466 is hereby AFFIRMED, subject to the
modifications indicated above. As modified:
(1) In Criminal Case No. Q-91-18465, accused JOSE CONRADO LUCAS y BRIONES is hereby
sentenced to suffer the penalty of Thirty-four (34) years, Four (4) months and One (1) day of reclusion
perpetua and to pay the offended party the sum of P50,000.00 as civil indemnity; and
(2) In Criminal Case No. Q-91-18466, said accused is hereby found GUILTY beyond reasonable
doubt of the crime of ATTEMPTED RAPE only and is hereby sentenced to suffer an indeterminate
penalty ranging from Four (4) years, TWO (2) months and One (1) day of prision
correccionalmaximum as minimumto Ten (10) years and one (1) day of prision mayormaximum as
maximumand to pay the offended party the sum of P30,000.00 as civil indemnity.
Costs against the accused-appellant.
SO ORDERED

G.R. No. 119063 January 27, 1997


JOSE G. GARCIA,petitioner,
vs.
COURT OF APPEALS, PEOPLE OF THE PHILIPPINES and ADELA TEODORA P.
SANTOS,respondents.

DAVIDE, JR., J.:


The issue here is whether the Court of Appeals committed reversible error in affirming the trial court's
order granting the motion to quash the information for bigamy based on prescription.
On 28 August 1991, petitioner Jose G. Garcia filed with the (Quezon City Prosecutor's Office an
"Affidavit of Complaint"1 ᄃ charging his wife, private respondent Adela Teodora P. Santos alias
"Delia Santos," with Bigamy, Violation of C.A. No. 142, as amended by R.A. No. 6085, and
Falsification of Public Documents. However, in his letter of 10 October 1991 to Assistant City
Prosecutor George F. Cabanilla, the petitioner informed the latter that he would limit his action to
bigamy.2 ᄃ
After appropriate proceedings, Assistant Prosecutor Cabanilla filed on 8 January 1992 with the
Regional Trial Court (RTC) of (Quezon City an information, 3 ᄃ dated 15 November 1991,
charging the private respondent with Bigamy allegedly committed as follows:
That on or before the 2nd day of February, 1957, in Quezon City, Philippines, and within
the jurisdiction of this Honorable Court, the above-named accused, being previously
united in lawful marriage with REYNALDO QUIROCA, and without the said marriage
having been dissolved, (or before the absent spouse has been declared presumptively
dead by a judgment rendered in the proper proceedings), did then and there wilfully,
unlawfully and feloniously contract a second marriage with JOSE G. GARCIA, which
marriage has [sic] discovered in 1989, to the damage and prejudice of the said offended
party in such amount as may be awarded under the provisions of the Civil Code.
CONTRARY TO LAW.
The information was docketed as Criminal Case No. Q-92-27272 and assigned to Branch 83 of the
said court. On 2 March 1992, the private respondent filed a Motion to Quash alleging prescription of
the offense as ground therefor. She contended that by the petitioner's admissions in his testimony
given on 23 January 1991 in Civil Case No. 90-52730, entitled "Jose G. Garcia v. Delia S. Garcia,"
and in his complaint filed with the Civil Service Commission (CSC) on 16 October 1991, the
petitioner discovered the commission of the offense as early as 1974. Pursuant then to Article 91 of the
Revised Penal Code (RPC),4 ᄃ the period of prescription of the offense started to run
therefrom. Thus, since bigamy was punishable by prision mayor,5 ᄃ an afflictive penalty6
ᄃ which prescribed in fifteen years pursuant to Article 92 of the RPC, then the offense
charged prescribed in 1989, or fifteen years after its discovery by the petitioner.

The private respondent quoted7 ᄃ the petitioner's testimony in Civil Case No. 90-52730
as follows:
Q No, no, just answer. What did you learn from her (Eugenia) about the private respondent?
A That she has been married previously in case I don't know it. But she said she has been previously
married, in fact I saw her husband — Rey, a few days ago and they said, "Baka magkasama pa silang
muli."
xxx xxx xxx
A'ITY. EVANGELISTA:
Q When did Eugenia R. Balingit told [sic] that private respondent was already married to another
man?
A That was when I told her that we are Separating now. I told her in tagalog, " na maghihiwalay na
kami ni Delia ngayon." "Ang unang tanong niya sa akin, "si Rey ba ang dahilan," ang alam ko po,
Rey ang dating boyfriend niya, kaya ang sabi ko, "hindi po, Mario, ang panga!an," napabagsak po
siya sa upuan, sabi niya, "hindi na nagbago."
Q When was that when you came to know from Eugenia Balingit, the judicial guardian, that private
respondent was already married to another man when she married you?
A That was when the affair was happening and I found out.
Q What year?
A 1974.8 ᄃ
The portion of the complaint filed on 16 October 1991 before the CSC which the private respondent
alluded to, reads as follows:
5. At the time the respondent married the herein complainant she never informed him that she was
previously married to a certain REYNALDO QUIROCA" on December 1, 1951 wherein she used the
name of "ADELA SANTOS" which was part of her true name "ADELA TEODORA P. SANTOS" as
per her genuine Baptismal Certificate issued by the Parish of San Guillermo, Bacolor, Pampanga, a
copy of the said Baptismal Certificate is hereto attached as ANNEX "D";
6. . . .
7. These facts were discovered only by the herein complainant in the year 1974 where they separated
from each other because of her illicit relations with several men continued use of her alias name
"DELIA", without proper authority from the Courts; and committing a series of fraudulent acts; her
previous marriage to a certain "Reynaldo Quiroca" is evidenced by a certification issued by the Local
Civil Registrar of Manila, a copy of which is hereto attached as ANNEX "F",9 ᄃ
In its 29 June 1992 order,10 ᄃ the trial court granted the motion to quash and dismissed
the criminal case, ruling in this wise:
This court believes that since the penalty prescribed under Article 349 of the Revised Penal Code for
the offense of bigamy is prision mayor, which is classified as an afflictive penalty under Article 25 of
the same Code, then said offense should prescribe in fifteen (15) years as provided in Article 92 of the
Code. The complainant having discovered the first marriage of the accused to one Reynaldo Quiroca
in 1974 when he was informed of it by one Eugenia Balingit, the offense charged has already
prescribed when the information was filed in this case on November 15, 1991. The argument
presented by the prosecution that i was difficult for the complainant to obtain evidence of the alleged
first marriage, hence, the prescriptive period should be counted from the time the evidence was
secured will not hold water. Article 91 of the Revised Penal Code specifically provides, thus:
"The period of prescription shall commence to run from the day on which the crime is discovered. . . ."
it did not state "on the day sufficient evidence was gathered," thus this Court cannot change the
requirements of the law.
The petitioner moved for reconsideration of the above order on 26 August 1992, 11 ᄃ to which he filed
"numerous" supplements thereto, focusing on the private respondent's many trips abroad which the
petitioner claimed suspended the running of the prescriptive period. These trips were enumerated in
the certification12 ᄃ issued by Associate Commissioner Ramon M. Morales of the Bureau of
Immigration (BID), which reads as follows:
This is to certify that the name GARCIA/DELIA/S. appears in the Bureau's files of Arrivals and
Departures as having the following travel records:
Departed for HKG on 06/03/77 aboard PR
Arrived from HKG on 07/02/77 aboard PA
Arrived from SYD on 07/09/77 aboard PR
Arrived from GUM on 06/14/80 aboard PA
Arrived from MEL on 07/17/81 aboard PR
Arrived from TYO on 05/20/83 aboard PA
Departed for HKG on 09/22/83 aboard PR
Arrived from SIN on 09/28/83 aboard PR
Departed for TYO on 04/30/84 aboard PA
Arrived from SFO on 07/03/84 aboard PA
Departed for TYO on 11/19/84 aboard PA
Departed for TYO on 08/05/85 aboard PA
Departed for TYO on 11/1 7/86 aboard UA
Arrived from LAX on 12/12/87 aboard UA
Departed for LAX on 11/30/87 aboard UA
Departed for CHI on 11/14/88 aboard UA
The trial court disallowed reconsideration of its 29 June 1992 order, finding "no urgent or justifiable
reason to disturb or set [it] aside." As to the sojourns abroad of the private respondent as shown in the
certification, the trial court held that the same "is not that kind of absence from the Philippines which
will interrupt the period of prescription of the offense charged. . ."13 ᄃ
The petitioner then appealed to the Court of Appeals which docketed the appeal as CA-G.R. CR No.
14324. He contended therein that: (a) the trial court erred in quashing the information on the ground of
prescription; and (b) the counsel for the accused was barred from filing the motion to quash the
information against the accused.14 ᄃ As to the first, the petitioner argued that bigamy was a public
offense, hence "the offended party is not the first or second (innocent) spouse but the State whose
law/policy was transgressed." He tried to distinguish bigamy from private offenses such as adultery or
concubinage "where the private complainant is necessarilythe offended party," thus, the prescriptive
period for the former should commence from the day the State, being the offended party, discovered
the offense, which in this case was on 28 August 1991 when the petitioner filed his complaint before
the Prosecutor's Office. The petitioner added that the "interchanging use" in Article 91 of the RPC of
the terms "offended party," "authorities," and "their agents" supports his view that the State is the
offended party in public offenses.
Additionally, the petitioner referred to the general rule stated in People v. Alagao15 ᄃ "that in
resolving the motion to quash a criminal complaint or information[,] the facts alleged in the complaint
or information should be taken as they are." The information in this case mentioned that the bigamy
was discovered in 1989. He admitted, however, that this rule admits of exceptions, such as when the
ground for the motion to quash is prescription of the offense, as provided in Section 4 of the old Rule
117 of the Rules of Criminal Procedure. Nonetheless, he advanced the view that this exception is no
longer available because of the implied repeal of Section 4, as the amended Rule 117 no longer
contains a similar provision under the rule on motions to quash; and that granting there was no repeal,
the private respondent failed to introduce evidence to "support her factual averment in her motion to
quash," which is required by Rule 117. He further asserted that the factual bases of the motion to
quash, viz., the petitioner's testimony in Civil Case No. 90-52730 and his complaint filed with the CSC
are not conclusive because the testimony is hearsay evidence, hence inadmissible, while the complaint
is vague, particularly the following portion quoted by the private respondent:
7. These facts where discovered only by the herein complainant in the year 1974 when they separated
from each other because of her illicit relations with several men continued use of her alias name
"DELIA", without proper authority from the Courts; and committing a series of fraudulent acts; her
previous marriage to a certain "Reynaldo Quiroca" is evidenced by a certification issued by the Local
Civil Registrar of Manila, a copy of which is hereto attached a ANNEX "F";
The petitioner alleged that the phrase "These facts" in said paragraph 7 does not clearly refer to his
discovery of the private respondent's first marriage. Moreover, he doubted whether the term
"discovered" in the said paragraph was used in the sense contemplated by law. At best, the petitioner
theorized, the discovery only referred to the "initial, unconfirmed and uninvestigated raw, hearsay
information" which he received from Balingit.
Finally, the petitioner reiterated that the prescriptive period was interrupted several times by the
private respondent's numerous trips abroad.
As regards his second contention, the petitioner argued that the counsel for the private respondent had
already stated that he represented only Delia S. Garcia and not Adela Teodora P. Santos. Consequently,
the private respondent's counsel could not ask for the quashal of the information in favor of Adela
Teodora P. Santos alias Delia Santos. The petitioner opined that the counsel for the private respondent
should have sought a dismissal of the case in favor of Delia Garcia alone.
The Court of Appeals gave credence to the private respondent's evidence and concluded that the
petitioner discovered the private respondent's first marriage in 1974. Since the information in this case
was filed in court only on 8 January 1992, or eighteen years after the discovery of the offense, then the
15-year prescriptive period had certainly lapsed.16 ᄃ It further held that the quashal of an information
based on prescription of the offense could be invoked before or after arraignment and even on
appeal,17 ᄃ for under Article 89(5) of the RPC, the criminal liability of a person is "totally
extinguish[ed]' by the prescription of the crime, which is a mode of extinguishing criminal liability."
Thus, prescription is not deemed waived even if not pleaded as a defense.18 ᄃ
Undaunted, the petitioner is now before us on a petition for review on certiorarito annul and set aside
the decision of the Court of Appeals and to compel the respondent court to remand the case to the trial
court for further proceedings. He submits the following assignment of errors:
I
BIGAMY IS A PUBLIC OFFENSE, CONSEQUENTLY, PRESCRIPTION SHOULD HAVE BEEN
COUNTED FROM THE TIME THE STATE DISCOVERED ITS COMMISSION;
II
A MOTION TO QUASH CANNOT ALSO GO BEYOND WHAT IS STATED IN THE
INFORMATION;
III
BY THEMSELVES, THE FACTUAL BASES OF THE MOTION TO QUASH ARE NOT ALSO
CONCLUSIVE;
IV
ASSUMING THE PRESCRIPTIVE PERIOD STARTED IN 1974, SAID PERIOD HOWEVER WAS
INTERRUPTED SEVERAL TIMES.
We notice that except for the first two pages of the petition, the deletion of a few paragraphs, the
substitution of the term "petitioner" for "appellant," and the deletion of the contention on the' counsel
for the private respondent being barred from filing a motion to quash, the herein petition is a
reproduction of the Appellant's Brief filed by the petitioner with the Court of Appeals. Verily then, the
instant petition is a rehash of an old tale. However, the Court of Appeals failed to sufficiently address
several issues raised by the petitioner, most probably prompting him to seek redress from this Court.
We resolved to give due course to the petition and required the parties to submit their respective
memoranda. The Office of the Solicitor General was the last to submit a Memorandum for the public
respondent. Both the private and public respondents ask for the dismissal of this petition and the
affirmance of the challenged decision.
Petitioner's position is untenable. Denial then of this petition is all it merits.
We shall take up the assigned errors in seriatim.
I
It is true that bigamy is a public offense. But, it is entirely incorrect to state, as the petitioner does, that
only the State is the offended party in such case, as well as in other public offenses, and, therefore;
only the State's discovery of the crime could effectively commence the running of the period of
prescription therefor. Article 91 of the RPC provides that "[t]he period of prescription shall commence
to run from the day on which the crime is discovered by the offended party, the authorities, or their
agents. . . ." This rule makes no distinction between a public crime and a private crime. In both cases
then, the discovery may be by the "offended party, the authorities, or their agents."
Article 91 does not define the term "offended party." We find its definition in Section 12, Rule 110 of
the Rules of Court as "the person against whom or against whose property, the offense was
committed.19 ᄃ The said Section reads as follows:
Sec. 12. Name of the offended party. — A complaint or information must state the name and surname
of the person against whom or against whose property the offense was committed, or any appellation
or nickname by which such person has been or is known, and if there is no better way of identifying
him, he must be described under a fictitious name.
More specifically, it is reasonable to assume that the offended party in the commission of a crime,
public or private, is the party to whom the offender is civilly liable, in light of Article 100 of the RPC,
which expressly provides that [e]very person criminally liable for a felony is also civilly liable." 20 ᄃ
Invariably then, the private individual to whom the offender is civilly liable is the offended party.
This conclusion is strengthened by Section 1, Rule 111 of the Rules of Court which reads:
Sec. 1. Institution of criminal and civil actions. — When a criminal action is instituted, the civil action
for the recovery of civil liability is impliedly instituted with a criminal action, unless the offended
party waives the civil action, reserves his right to institute it separately, or institutes the civil action
prior to the criminal action.
Such civil action includes recovery of indemnity under the Revised Penal Code, and damages under
Articles 32, 33, 34 and 2176 of the Civil Code of the Philippines arising from the same act or omission
of the accused. . . .
It is settled that in bigamy, both the first and the second spouses may be the offended parties
depending on the circumstances.21 ᄃ
The petitioner even admits that he is the offended party in Criminal Case No. (Q-92-27272. The
information therein,22 ᄃ which he copied in full in the petition in this case, describes him as the
"offended party" who suffered "damage and prejudice . . . in such amount as may be awarded under
the provisions of the Civil Code."23 ᄃ
The distinction he made between public crimes and private crimes relates not to the discovery of the
crimes, but to their prosecution. Articles 344 and 360 of the RPC, in relation to Section 5, Rule 110 of
the Rules of Court, are clear on this matter.
II
The petitioner's contention that a motion to quash cannot go beyond the information in Criminal Case
No. Q-92-27272 which states that the crime was discovered in 1989, is palpably unmeritorious. Even
People v. Alaga,24 ᄃ which he cites, mentions the exceptions to the rule as provided in paragraphs (f)
and (h) of Section 2, and Sections 4 and 5 of the old Rule 117, viz., (a) extinction of criminal liability,
and (b) double jeopardy. His additional claim that the exception of extinction can no longer be raised
due to the implied repeal of the former Section 4, 25 ᄃ Rule 117 of the Rules of Court occasioned by
its non-reproduction after its revision, is equally without merit. No repeal, express or implied, of the
said Section 4 ever took place. While there is no provision in the new Rule 117 that prescribes the
contents of a motion to quash based on extinction of criminal liability, Section 2 thereof encapsulizes
the former Sections 3, 4, and 5 of the old Rule 117. The said Section 2 reads as follows:
Sec. 2. Foms and contents. — The motion to quash shall be in writing signed by the accused or his
counsel. It shall specify distinctly the factual and legal grounds thereforand the court shall consider no
grounds other than those stated therein, except lack of jurisdiction over the offense charged. (3a, 4a,
5a). (underscoring supplied for emphasis)
It is clear from this Section that a motion to quash may be based on factual and legal grounds, and
since extinction of criminal liability and double jeopardy are retained as among the groundsfor a
motion to quash in Section 3 of the new Rule 117, it necessarily follows that facts outside the
information itself may be introduced to grove such grounds. As a matter of fact, inquiry into such facts
may be allowed where the ground invoked is that the allegations in the information do not constitute
the offense charged. Thus, in People v. De la Rosa,26 ᄃ this Court stated:
As a general proposition, a motion to quash on the ground that the allegations of the information do
not constitute the offense charged, or any offense for that matter, should be resolved on the basis alone
of said allegations whose truth and veracity are hypothetically admitted. However, as held in the case
of People vs. Navarro, 75 Phil. 516, additional facts not alleged in the information, but admitted or not
denied by the prosecution may be invoked in support of the motion to quash. Former Chief justice
Moran supports this theory.27 ᄃ
In Criminal Case No. 92-27272, the trial court, without objection on the part of the prosecution,
allowed the private respondent to offer evidence in support of her claim that the crime had prescribed.
Consequently, the trial court, upon indubitable proof of prescription, correctly granted the motion to
quash. It would have been, to quote De la Rosa, "pure technicality for the court to close its eyes to [the
fact of prescription) and still give due course to the prosecution of the case" — a technicality which
would have meant loss of valuable time of the court and the parties.
As noted by Dr. Fortunato Gupit, Jr., consultant of the Rules of Court Revision Committee, the
aforequoted Section 2 of the new Rule 117 on "factual and legal grounds" of a motion to quash is
based on the De la Rosa case.28 ᄃ
III

The petitioner likewise claims that the factual bases of the private respondent's motion to
quash are inconclusive. The petitioner cannot be allowed to disown statements he made
under oath and in open court when it serves his purpose. This is a contemptible practice
which can only mislead the courts and thereby contribute to injustice. Besides, he never
denied having given the pertinent testimony. He did, however, term it vague in that it was
not clear whether the prior marriage which Eugenia Balingit disclosed to him was that
entered into by the private respondent with Reynaldo Quiroca. It is immaterial to whom
the private respondent was first married; what is relevant in this case is that the petitioner
was informed of a prior marriage contracted by the private respondent.
Neither may the petitioner be heard to cast doubt on the meaning of his statements in his sworn
complaint filed before the CSC. We find no hint of vagueness in them. In any event, he has not denied
that he in fact discovered in 1974 that the private respondent had been previously married.
Finally, the petitioner draws our attention to the private respondent's several trips abroad as
enumerated in the certification of the Bureau of Immigration, and cites the second paragraph of Article
91 of the RPC, viz.: "[t]he term of prescription shall not run when the offender is absent from the
Philippine Archipelago." We agree with the Court of Appeals that these trips abroad did not constitute
the "absence" contemplated in Article 91. These trips were brief, and in every case the private
respondent returned to the Philippines. Besides, these were made long after the petitioner discovered
the offense and. even if the aggregate number of days of these trips are considered, still the
information was filed well beyond the prescriptive period.
WHEREFORE, the instant petition is DENIED for lack of merit and the challenged decision of 13
February 1995 of the Court of Appeals in CA-G.R. CR No. 14324 is AFFIRMED.
Costs against the petitioner.
SO ORDERED.

G.R. No. 114046 October 24, 1994


HONORATO GALVEZ and GODOFREDO DIEGO,petitioners,
vs.
COURT OF APPEALS (17TH DIVISION), First Asst. Provincial Prosecutor. DENNIS
M. VILLA-IGNACIO of Pasig, Rizal; THE PEOPLE OF THE PHILIPPINES; and PNP
P/SR. SUPT. RICARDO F. DE LEON, Camp Commander and Head of the PNP
Custodial Group, Camp Crame, Cubao, Quezon City, respondents.
Emerito M. Salva & Associates; Juanito L. Andrade; and Lazaro Law Firm for petitioners.

REGALADO, J.:
Submitted for resolution in the present special civil action are: (1) the basic petition for certiorari and
mandamus with a petition for habeas corpus, to review the resolution issued by respondent Court of
Appeals, dated
February 18, 1994, in CA-G.R. SP No. 33261; 1 ᄃ (2) the Urgent Motion2 ᄃ and Supplemental
Urgent Motion3 ᄃ for Immediate Action on Petition for Habeas corpus; and (3) the Urgent
Petition to Declare Judge Jaime N. Salazar, Jr. and First Assistant Provincial Prosecutor
Dennis M. Villa-Ignacio for Contempt and to Annul Proceedings (with Immediate Prayer
for another Cease and Desist Order).4 ᄃ

On November 12, 1993, petitioners Honorato Galvez, the incumbent Mayor of San
Ildefonso, Bulacan, and one Godofredo Diego were charged in three separate
informations with homicide and two counts of frustrated homicide fot has been the rule
that under the first paragraph of Section 14, Rule 110, the amendment of the information
may also be made even if it may result in altering the nature of the charge so long as it
Regional Trial Court of Malolos, Bulacan, Branch 14, and docketed as Criminal Cases
Nos. 3642-M-93 to 3644-M-93.5 ᄃ Both accused posted their respective cash bail bonds
and were subsequently released from detention.

On November 15, 1993, Bulacan Provincial Prosecutor Liberato L. Reyes filed a Motion
to Defer Arraignment and Subsequent Proceedings to enable him "to review the evidence
on record and determine once more the proper crimes chargeable against the accused,"6 ᄃ
which was granted by Judge Villajuan in an order dated November 16, 1993.7 ᄃ
Thereafter, pursuant to Department Order No. 369 of the Department of Justice,
respondent Prosecutor Dennis M. Villa-Ignacio was designated Acting Provincial
Prosecutor of Bulacan and was instructed to conduct a re-investigation of the aforesaid
criminal cases filed against herein petitioners.8 ᄃ

By virtue of a Manifestation with Ex-parteMotion dated November 23, 19939 ᄃ filed by


respondent prosecutor, the proceedings were again ordered suspended by Judge Villajuan
until after the prosecution's request for change of venue shall have been resolved by the
Supreme Court, and the preliminary investigation being conducted by the former shall
have been terminated. 10 ᄃ It appears that on December 2, 1993, private complainants,
through their counsel, Atty. Silvestre R. Bello III, had filed with the Supreme Court a
Petition for Change of Venue of Criminal Cases Nos. 3642-M-93 to 3644-M-93,
purportedly to safeguard the lives of the victims and their witnesses, and to prevent a
miscarriage of justice. 11 ᄃ

On December 15, 1993, before petitioners could be arraigned in Criminal Cases Nos.
3642-M-93 to 3644-M-93, respondent prosecutor filed an Ex
parte Motion to Withdraw Informations in said cases. 12 ᄃ This motion was granted by
Judge Villajuan also on December 15, 1993 and the cases were considered withdrawn
from the docket of the court. 13 ᄃ On the same day, Prosecutor Villa-Ignacio filed four
new informations against herein petitioners for murder, two counts of frustrated murder,
and violation of Presidential Decree No. 1866 for illegal possession of firearms 14 ᄃ
which were subsequently raffled to the sala of Judge Victoria Pornillos of Branch 10,
Regional
Trial Court of Malolos, Bulacan and were docketed therein as Criminal Cases Nos. 4004-
M-93 to 4007-M-93. No bail having been recommended for the crime of murder, Judge
Pornillos ordered the arrest of herein petitioners. 15 ᄃ On December 23, 1993, said
presiding judge issued an order setting the arraignment of the accused for December 27,
1993. 16 ᄃ

On December 27, 1993, the scheduled arraignment before Judge Pornillos were reset due
to the absence of respondent prosecutor. On even date, petitioners filed before Judge
Villajuan a Motion for Reconsideration of his order of December 15, 1993 which granted
the motion to withdraw the original informations. 17 ᄃ
Thereafter, a Motion to Quash the new informations for lack
of jurisdiction was filed by petitioners before Judge Pornillos on January 3, 1994. 18 ᄃ At the court
session set for the arraignment of petitioners on January 24, 1994, Judge Pornillos issued
an order denying the motion to quash and, at the same time, directed that a plea of not
guilty be entered for petitioners when the latter refused to enter their plea. 19 ᄃ

In the meantime, and prior to the arraignment of herein petitioners before Judge Pornillos,
an order was issued on January 20, 1994 by Judge Villajuan granting the motion for
reconsideration filed by petitioners, ordering the reinstatement of Criminal Cases Nos.
3642-M-93 to 3644-M-93, and setting the arraignment of the accused therein for
February 8, 1994. 20 ᄃ On said date, however, the arraignment was suspended and, in the
meanwhile, petitioners filed a petition for certiorari, prohibition and mandamus with
respondent Court of Appeals, assailing the order dated January 24, 1994 issued by Judge
Pornillos which denied petitioners' motion to quash filed in Criminal Cases Nos. 4004-M-
93 and 4007-M-93. As earlier stated, respondent court dismissed the petition in its
questioned resolution of February 18, 1994, hence this petition.

I. On the Main Petition


The main issue in this case involves a determination of the set
of informations under which herein petitioners should be tried, that is, (a) the first set of informations
for homicide and frustrated homicide in Criminal
Cases Nos. 3642-M-93 to 3644-M-93, or (b) the subsequent informations for murder, frustrated
murder, and illegal possession of firearms in Criminal Cases Nos. 4004-M-93 to 4007-M-93. Several
corollary but equally important issues have likewise been addressed to us for resolution, to wit:
1. Whether the ex parte motion to withdraw the original informations is null and void on the ground
that (a) there was no notice and hearing as required by Sections 4, 5 and 6, Rule 15 of the Rules of
Court; and (b) the appropriate remedy which should have been adopted by the prosecution was to
amend the informations by charging the proper offenses pursuant to Section 14 of Rule 110;
2. Whether the order granting the withdrawal of the original informations was immediately final and
executory;
3. Whether Judge Pornillos was correct in denying the motion to quash and thereby acquired
jurisdiction over the new informations considering that (a) the designated public prosecutor allegedly
had no authority to file the second set of informations; and (b) the filing thereof constituted forum
shopping; and
4. Whether the arraignment proceeding held on January 24, 1994 in Criminal Cases Nos. 4004-M-93
to 4007-M-93 was valid.
We shall discuss these issues seriatim.
1. It is petitioners' submission that the prosecution's failure to serve them a copy of the motion to
withdraw the original informations and to set said motion for hearing constitutes a violation of their
right to be informed of the proceedings against them, as well as a violation of Sections 4, 5 and 6,
Rule 15 of the Rules of Court. Hence, so they contend, the ex parte motion should be considered as a
worthless scrap of paper and Judge Villajuan had no authority to act on it. Ergo, the order granting the
same is null and void.
Petitioners advance the theory that respondent prosecutor should have amended the original
informations instead of withdrawing the same and filing new ones. They postulate that the principle of
nolle prosequi does not apply in this case since the withdrawal or dismissal of an information is
addressed solely to the sound and judicious discretion of the court which has the option to grant or
deny it and the prosecution cannot impose its opinion on the court. It is further stressed that in case
there is a need to change the nature of the offense charged, that is, from homicide to murder, by adding
the qualifying circumstance of treachery, the only legal and proper remedy is through the filing of the
corresponding amended information; and that the withdrawal of an information is allowed only where
the new information involves a different offense which does not include or is not included in the
offense originally charged.
Normally, an accused would not object to the dismissal of an information against him because it is to
his best interest not to oppose the same. Contrarily, if the accused should deem such conditional or
provisional dismissal to be unjust and prejudicial to him, he could object to such dismissal and insist
that the case be heard and decided on the merits. 21 ᄃ However, considering that in the original
cases before Branch 14 of the trial court petitioners had not yet been placed in jeopardy,
and the ex parte motion to withdraw was filed and granted before they could be
arraigned, there would be no imperative need for notice and hearing thereof. In actuality,
the real grievance of herein accused is not the dismissal of the original three informations
but the filing of four new informations, three of which charge graver offenses and the
fourth, an additional offense. Had these new informations not been filed, there would
obviously have been no cause for the instant petition. Accordingly, their complaint about
the supposed procedural lapses involved in the motion to dismiss filed and granted in
Criminal Cases Nos. 3642-M-93 to 3644-M-93 does not impress us as a candid
presentation of their real position.

Petitioners' contention that the dismissal of the original informations and the consequent
filing of the new ones substantially affected their right to bail is too strained and tenuous
an argument. They would want to ignore the fact that had the original informations been
amended so as to charge the capital offense of murder, they still stood to likewise be
deprived of their right to bail once it was shown that the evidence of guilt is strong.
Petitioners could not be better off with amended informations than with the subsequent
ones. It really made no difference considering that where a capital offense is charged and
the evidence of guilt is strong, bail becomes a matter of discretion under either an
amended or a new information.
Contrary to petitioners' submission, the absence of notice and hearing does not divest a trial court of
authority to pass on the merits of the motion. It has been held that —
The order of the court granting the motion to dismiss despite absence of a notice of hearing, or proof
of service thereof, is merely an irregularity in the proceedings. It cannot deprive a competent court of
jurisdiction over the case. The court still retains its authority to pass on the merits of the motion. The
remedy of the aggrieved party in such cases is either to have the order set aside or the irregularity
otherwise cured by the court which dismissed the complaint, or to appeal from the dismissal and not
certiorari. 22 ᄃ
Besides, when petitioners were given by Judge Villajuan the opportunity to file a motion for
reconsideration, even assuming the alleged procedural infirmity in his issuance of the order of
dismissal, the same was thereby deemed cured. This is especially so in this case since, on his order, the
original informations were reinstated in Branch 14 of the trial court.
The rule is now well settled that once a complaint or information is filed in court any disposition of
the case, whether as to its dismissal or the conviction or the acquittal of the accused, rests in the sound
discretion of the court. Although the prosecutor retains the direction and control of the prosecution of
criminal cases even when the case is already in court, he cannot impose
his opinion upon the tribunal. For while it is true that the prosecutor has the quasi-judicial discretion
to determine whether or not a criminal case should be filed in court, once the case had already been
brought therein any disposition the prosecutor may deem proper thereafter should be addressed to the
court for its consideration and approval. 23 ᄃ The only qualification is that the action of the
court must not impair the substantial rights of the accused or the right of the People to
due process of law.

We reiterate once again the doctrine we enunciated and explained in Crespo vs. Mogul,
etc., et al.: 24 ᄃ
Whether the accused had been arraigned or not and whether it was due to a reinvestigation by the
fiscal or a review by the Secretary of Justice whereby a motion to dismiss was submitted to the Court,
the Court in the exercise of its discretion may grant the motion or deny it and require that the trial on
the merits proceed for the proper determination of the case.
xxx xxx xxx
The rule therefore in this jurisdiction is that once a complaint or information is filed in Court any
disposition of the case as to its dismissal or the conviction or acquittal of the accused rests in the
sound discretion of the Court. Although the fiscal retains the direction and control of the prosecution
of criminal cases even while the case is already in Court he cannot impose his opinion on the trial
court. The court is the best and sole judge on what to do with the case before it. The determination of
the case is within its exclusive jurisdiction and competence. A motion to dismiss the case filed by the
fiscal should be addressed to the Court who has the option to grant or deny the same. It does not
matter if this is done before or after the arraignment of the accused or that the motion was filed after a
reinvestigation or upon instructions of the Secretary of Justice who reviewed the records of the
investigation.
In such an instance, before a re-investigation of the case may be conducted by the public prosecutor,
the permission or consent of the court must be secured. And, if after such re-investigation the
prosecution finds a cogent basis to withdraw the information or otherwise cause the dismissal of the
case, such proposed course of action may be taken but shall likewise be addressed to the sound
discretion of the court. 25 ᄃ
It is not denied that in the present case, the court granted the motion of respondent prosecutor for the
suspension of the proceedings until the
re-investigation thereof shall have been terminated. Thereafter, the prosecutor arrived at a finding that
petitioners should have been charged with murder, frustrated murder, and illegal possession of
firearms. This prompted him to file an ex parte motion to withdraw the original informations for
homicide and frustrated homicide. Although the motion did not state the reasons for the withdrawal of
the informations, nevertheless, the court in the exercise of its discretion granted the same, as a
consequence of which a new set of informations was thereafter filed and raffled to another branch of
the court. Petitioners now question the propriety of the procedure adopted by the prosecution, insisting
that an amendment, not a new information, was required under the circumstances.
It must here be emphasized that respondent prosecutor sought, and was subsequently granted,
permission by the court to dismiss the original informations. It cannot therefore be validly claimed that
the prosecutor exceeded his authority in withdrawing those informations because the same bore the
imprimatur of the court. The issue is thus focused on whether or not under the given situation the court
acted correctly in dismissing the original informations rather than ordering the amendment thereof.
It has been observed that while the Rules of Court gives the accused the right to move for the quashal
of the information, it is silent with respect to the right of the prosecutor to ask for a dismissal or
withdrawal thereof. 26 ᄃ A perusal of the 1985 Rules on Criminal Procedure will show that
there are only two provisions concerning the dismissal of an information other than on
motion of the accused, namely, Section 14 of Rule 110 and Section 11 of Rule 119. But
then, it may be contended that these rules speak of a dismissal by the court when there is
a mistake in charging the proper offense, but make no mention of a dismissal made upon
application of the prosecution. That is not necessarily so.

It is true that Section 11, Rule 119 is virtually a restatement of Section 14, Rule 110,
providing as it does that:
Sec. 11. When mistake has been made in charging the proper offense. — When it becomes manifest at
any time before judgment, that a mistake has been made in charging the proper offense, and the
accused cannot be convicted of the offense charged, or of any other offense necessarily included
therein, the accused shall not be discharged, if there appears to be good cause to detain him. In such
case, the court shall commit the accused to answer for the proper offense and dismiss the original case
upon the filing of the proper information. (Emphasis supplied.)
Rule 119 is the rule specifically governing the trialstage where evidence is necessarily being
presented, hence the trial court is now in a better position to conclude that manifestly the accused
cannot be convicted of the offense charged or of one that it necessarily includes. It would primarily be
the function of the court to motu proprio order the dismissal of the case and direct the filing of the
appropriate information. We do not discount the possibility of either the prosecution or the defense
initiating such dismissal and substitution at that stage, although, from a realistic point of view, that
would be a rare situation. This provision, therefore, is more directly and principally directed to the trial
court to invest it with the requisite authority to direct by itself the dismissal and refiling of the
informations therein contemplated.
Rule 110, on the other hand, provides the procedural governance for the prosecution of offenses.
Section 14 thereof, quoted infra, provides in its second paragraph the procedure and requisites for the
substitution of a defective information by the correct one. Although, just like Section 11 of Rule 119
the permissible stage for effecting that substitution is "at any time before judgment," unlike the latter
situation it is sufficient that "it appears . . . that a mistake has been made in charging the proper
offense, . . . ." The situation under said Section 14 contemplates a longer time span, inclusive of the
period from the filing of the information up to and before trial. Since no evidence has been presented
at that stage, the error would appear or be discoverable from a review of the records of the preliminary
investigation. Of course, that fact may be perceived by the trial judge himself but, again, realistically it
will be the prosecutor who can initially determine the same. That is why such error need not be
manifest or evident, nor is it required that such nuances as offenses includible in the offense charged
be taken into account. It necessarily follows, therefore, that the prosecutor can and should institute
remedial measures for the dismissal of the original information and the refiling of the correct one,
otherwise he would be recreant to his duties.
It is interesting to note that in the American jurisdiction, such right is specifically recognized under
Rule 48 (a) of the Federal Rules of Criminal Procedure which provides that the entry of a nolle
prosequi by the Government is a permissible right, although requiring in all cases the approval of the
court in the exercise of its judicial discretion. 27 ᄃ As a matter of fact, the prosecuting attorney
is given the broad power, sole authority and discretion to enter a nolle prosequi provided
he does not act arbitrarily 28 ᄃ and subject to the discretion of the court.

In several cases, we have also impliedly recognized the propriety of such a procedure
particularly in those instances where the prosecution is allowed to dismiss or withdraw an
information on the ground of insufficiency of evidence. We have even gone further by
imposing upon the fiscal, as he was then called, the duty to move for the dismissal of the
information if he is convinced that the evidence is insufficient to establish, at least prima
facie, the guilt of the accused. 29 ᄃ
In this case now before us, what is involved is a dismissal effected at the instance of the prosecutor by
reason of a mistake in charging the proper offense, in order that new informations can be filed. The
problem that may be posited, and should now be resolved, is when the fiscal may be allowed to move
to dismiss an information and when he should merely move to amend it.
Section 14 of Rule 110, which is invoked by petitioners, reads as follows:
Sec. 14. Amendment. — The information or complaint may be amended, in substance or form, without
leave of court, at any time before the accused pleads; and thereafter and during the trial as to all
matters of form, by leave and at the discretion of the court, when the same can be done without
prejudice to the rights of the accused.
If it appears at any time before judgment that a mistake has been made in charging the proper offense,
the court shall dismiss the original complaint or information upon the filing of a new one charging the
proper offense in accordance with Rule 119, Section 11, provided the accused would not be placed
thereby in double jeopardy, and may also require the witnesses to give bail for their appearance at the
trial.
The first paragraph provides the rule for amendment of the information or complaint, while the second
paragraph refers to the substitution of the information or complaint. Under the second paragraph, the
court can order the filing of another information to charge the proper offense, provided the accused
would not be placed thereby in double jeopardy and that could only be true if the offense proved does
not necessarily include or is not necessarily included in the offense charged in the original
information.
It has been the rule that under the first paragraph of Section 14, Rule 110, the amendment of the
information may also be made even if it may result in altering the nature of the charge so long as it can
be done without prejudice to the rights of the accused. Hence, in the case of Dimalibot vs. Salcedo, 30
ᄃ the accused therein were originally charged with homicide and were released on bail.
However, the then provincial fiscal, after a review of the affidavits of the witnesses for
the prosecution, discovered that the killing complained of was perpetrated with the
qualifying circumstances of treachery, taking advantage of superior strength, and
employing means to weaken the defense of the victim. Consequently, an amended
information for murder was filed against the accused who were ordered re-arrested
without the amount of bail being fixed, the new charge being a capital offense.

The Court ruled therein that the amendment was proper, pursuant to Section 13, Rule 106
of the 1940 Rules of Court (now Section 14, Rule 110 of the 1985 Rules on Criminal
Procedure), thus:
Here these rules properly apply, since it is undisputed that the herein accused were not yet arraigned
before the competent court when the complaint for homicide was amended so as to charge the crime of
murder. Upon the authority of said rules, the amendment could therefore be made even as to substance
in order that the proper charge may be made. The claim that such amendment can only refer to matters
of specification affecting the elements constituting the crime is not correct, for there is nothing in the
rule to show that the nature of the amendment should only be limited to matters of specification. The
change may also be made even if it may result in altering the nature of the charge so long as it can be
done without prejudice to the rights of the defendant.
Be that as it may, it is quite plausible under Section 14 of Rule 110 that, instead of an amendment, an
information for homicide may also be dismissed before the accused pleads, to give way to the filing of
a new information for murder. This may be deduced from the pronouncement of the Court in the
aforecited case of Dimalibot, to wit:
This clearly appears from the second part of Section 13 of Rule 106 which says that, if it appears
before judgment that a mistake has been made in charging the proper offense, the court may dismiss
the original information and order the filing of a new one provided the defendant may not be placed in
double jeopardy. If a new information may be ordered at any time before judgment no reason is seen
why the court may not order the amendment of the information if its purpose is to make it
conformable to the true nature of the crime committed. . . .
In the subsequent case of Teehankee, Jr. vs. Madayag, et al., 31 ᄃ however, Section 14 of Rule
110 was clarified to mean as follows:

It may accordingly be posited that both amendment and substitution of the information
may be made before or after the defendant pleads, but they differ in the following
respects:
1. Amendment may involve either formal or substantial changes, while substitution necessarily
involves a substantial change from the original charge;
2. Amendment before plea has been entered can be effected without leave of court, but substitution of
information must be with leave of court as the original information has to be dismissed;
3. Where the amendment is only as to form, there is no need for another preliminary investigation and
the retaking of the plea of the accused; in substitution of information, another preliminary
investigation is entailed and the accused has to plead anew to the new information; and
4. An amended information refers to the same offense charged in the original information or to an
offense which necessarily includes or is necessarily included in the original charge, hence substantial
amendments to the information after the plea has been taken cannot be made over the objection of the
accused, for if the original information would be withdrawn, the accused could invoke double
jeopardy. On the other hand, substitution requires or presupposes that the new information involves a
different offense which does not include or is not necessarily included in the original charge, hence the
accused cannot claim double jeopardy.
In determining, therefore, whether there should be an amendment under the first paragraph of Section
14, Rule 110, or a substitution of information under the second paragraph thereof, the rule is that
where the second information involves the same offense, or an offense which necessarily includes or is
necessarily included in the first information, an amendment of the information is sufficient; otherwise,
where the new information charges an offense which is distinct and different from that initially
charged, a substitution is in order.

In any event, we are inclined to uphold the propriety of the withdrawal of the original
informations, there having been no grave abuse of discretion on the part of the court in
granting the motion and, more importantly, in consideration of the fact that the motion to
withdraw was filed and granted before herein petitioners were arraigned, hence before
they were placed in jeopardy. Thus, even if a substitution was made at such stage,
petitioners cannot validly claim double jeopardy, which is precisely the evil sought to be
prevented under the rule on substitution, for the simple reason that no first jeopardy had
as yet attached. Consequently, we hold that although the offenses charged under the three
new informations necessarily include those charged under the original informations, the
substitution of informations was not a fatal error. A contrary ruling, to paraphrase from
our former pronouncements, would sacrifice substantial justice for formal nuances on the
altar of procedural technicalities. Furthermore, petitioner's right to speedy trial was never
violated since the new informations were filed immediately after the motion to withdraw
the original informations was granted.
2. The controversy over the jurisdiction of Judge Pornillos to entertain and act upon the new
informations for murder, frustrated murder and illegal possession of firearms, is grounded on three
points of disagreement.
Firstly, it is argued that the new informations were prematurely filed considering that the order
granting the withdrawal of the original informations had not yet become final and executory and that,
as a matter of fact, the same was subsequently reconsidered and the case reinstated by Judge Villajuan.
Therefore, so petitioners postulate, Judge Pornillos could not acquire jurisdiction over the same
offense involving the same incident and the same accused.
Secondly, petitioners contend that the dismissal of the original informations and the filing of new ones
which were raffled to another branch of the court constituted forum shopping, and was tainted with
malice considering the indecent haste with which the motion to withdraw the informations was filed,
the order granting the same was issued, and the new informations were filed, all of which took place
on the same day. Pursuant to the doctrinal ruling that the court first acquiring jurisdiction excludes the
other courts, it is theorized that the cognizance of the case taken by Judge Villajuan barred Judge
Pornillos from assuming jurisdiction thereover.
Finally, the designation of respondent Prosecutor Dennis Villa-Ignacio (who was then First Assistant
Provincial Prosecutor of Pasig, Rizal) as Acting Provincial Prosecutor of Bulacan was arbitrary and
without any justifiable reason. It follows, therefore, so petitioners vigorously argue, that in the absence
of such authority, the informations should be considered null and void by reason of which Judge
Pornillos did not acquire jurisdiction over the same.
On the other hand, respondents question the propriety of petitioners' filing of a petition for certiorari
prohibition and mandamus in the Court of Appeals against the order of the lower court denying
petitioners' motion to quash, claiming that the proper remedy was to proceed to trial on the merits and
thereafter raise on appeal, as special defenses, the grounds invoked in the motion to quash.
It is a general rule that a nolle prosequi or dismissal entered before the accused is placed on trial and
before he is called on to plead is not equivalent
to an acquittal, 32 ᄃ and does not bar a subsequent prosecution for the same offense. 33 ᄃ It
is not a final disposition of the case. 34 ᄃ Rather, it partakes of the nature of a nonsuit or
discontinuance in a civil suit and leaves the matter in the same condition in which it was
before the commencement of the prosecution. 35 ᄃ

A dismissal is different from an acquittal. An order of dismissal which is actually an


acquittal is immediately final and cannot be reconsidered. 36 ᄃ Furthermore, an acquittal
is always based on the merits, that is, the defendant is acquitted because the evidence
does not show that defendant's guilt is beyond reasonable doubt; but a dismissal does not
decide the case on the merits or that the defendant is not guilty. Dismissals terminate the
proceedings, either because the court is not a court of competent jurisdiction, or the
evidence does not show that the offense was committed within the territorial jurisdiction
of the court, or the complaint or information is not valid or sufficient in form and
substance. 37 ᄃ For dismissal to be a bar under double jeopardy, it must have the effect of
acquittal.

All these go to show, therefore, that the dismissal of Criminal Cases


Nos. 3642-M-93 to 3644-M-93 did not amount to an acquittal of herein petitioners.
Consequently, the same did not immediately become final, hence petitioners could still
file a motion for the reconsideration thereof. Moreover, such dismissal does not constitute
a proper basis for a claim of double jeopardy. 38 ᄃ Since jeopardy had not yet attached,
herein petitioners were not prejudiced by the filing of the new informations even though
the order of dismissal in the prior case had not yet become final. Neither did it affect the
jurisdiction of the court in the subsequent case.

In American legal practice, where a motion for an order of nolle prosequi is made, the
only power to deny the motion would be based on failure of the district attorney to
judiciously exercise his discretion. 39 ᄃ In most cases, the motion will be readily granted
and should not be refused unless the court has some knowledge that it is based on an
improper reason or a corrupt motive. But such a motion to dismiss will not also be
approved unless the court is satisfied that the administration of justice requires that the
prosecution be ended, or if there appears to be a clear violation of the law. 40 ᄃ Whatever
may be the reason therefor, a denial of the motion to withdraw should not be construed as
a denigration of the authority of the special prosecutor to control and direct the
prosecution of the case, 41 ᄃ since the disposition of the case already rests in the sound
discretion of the court.

This brings us to the question as to whether or not an order of dismissal may be


subsequently set aside and the information reinstated. Again, in American jurisprudence,
the authorities differ somewhat as to whether a nolle prosequi may be set aside and the
cause reinstated. 42 ᄃ Some cases hold that the nolle prosequi may be recalled and that
the accused may be tried on the same information,43 ᄃ but before it can be retraced, set
aside, cancelled, or struck off, the permission or assent of the court must be had and
obtained, and such cancellation or retraction must be duly entered. According to other
authorities, however, the entry of an unconditional nolle prosequi, not on the ground that
the information is insufficient on its face, is an end to the prosecution of that information,
and such nolle prosequi cannot afterward be vacated and further proceedings had in that
case.44 ᄃ

Still in some cases, it has been held that a nolle prosequi may be set aside by leave of
court, so as to reinstate proceedings on the information, or unless it was entered by
mistake. 45 ᄃ In our jurisdiction, we follow the rule which allows an order of dismissal to
be set aside by leave of court. In one case, it was held that in the absence of any statutory
provision to the contrary, the court may, in the interest of justice, dismiss a criminal case
provisionally, that is, without prejudice to reinstating it before the order becomes final or
to the subsequent filing of a new information for the offense. 46 ᄃ

The rule that in cases of concurrent jurisdiction the court first acquiring jurisdiction will
retain it to the end to the exclusion of other tribunals, is not to be given unyielding effect
in all cases and it does not apply where the jurisdiction of the first court has come to an
end in any legal way, such as by nolle prosequi. 47 ᄃ The rule on exclusions is intended to
prevent confusion and conflicts in jurisdiction and to prevent a person from being twice
tried for the same offense, but no accused has a vested right to be tried in any particular
court of concurrent jurisdiction; and when one court of concurrent jurisdiction voluntarily
relinquishes it by a nolle prosequi or dismissal of the case, there can be no legal or logical
reason for preventing the other court from proceeding. 48 ᄃ With much more reason will
this rule apply where only branches of the same court, and not different courts, are
involved in the jurisdictional conflict.

There was no forum shopping in the lower court with respect to the case involved. While
the procedure adopted by the prosecution was somewhat cumbersome, it was not in bad
faith and, accordingly, it did not affect the legality of the proceedings. There is no
showing, and petitioners failed to prove otherwise, that the assignment by raffle of the
new informations to another branch of the same court was intended to prejudice herein
petitioners, or to place them under less favorable circumstances, or to find a court which
would act favorably on the prosecution's case.
The authority of the special prosecutor appointed by the Secretary of Justice to sign and file
informations has long been recognized in this jurisdiction and it has been held that such information
cannot be quashed on that account. There is nothing so sacrosanct in the signing of complaints,
holding of investigations, and conducting prosecutions that only an officer appointed by the President
or one expressly empowered by law be permitted to assume these functions. 49 ᄃ And any
irregularity in the appointment does not necessarily invalidate the same if he may be
considered a de facto officer. 50 ᄃ

Of course, where the person who signed the information was disqualified from
appointment to such position, the information is invalid and the court does not acquire
jurisdiction to try the accused thereon. 51 ᄃ Such is not, however, the situation obtaining
in the case at bar. It will be noted that respondent prosecutor was designated by the
Secretary of Justice to handle the re-investigation
and prosecution of the case against petitioners pursuant to Department Order No. 369.
Petitioners failed to show any irregularity in the issuance of said directive.

At any rate, the power of supervision and control vested in the Secretary of Justice under
Presidential Decree No. 1275 had been broadened beyond the confines of the old law,
that is, Section 1679 of the Revised Administrative Code, wherein the power of the
Secretary was then limited only to certain instances. Pertinently, in Aguinaldo, et al. vs.
Domagas, et al., 52 ᄃ we said:

The Court notes, however; that Department of Justice Order No. 85 was issued pursuant
to, among others, P.D. No. 1275 issued on 11 April 1978 which provides:
Sec. 1. Creation of the National Prosecution Service; Supervision and Control of the Secretary of
Justice. — There is hereby created and established a National Prosecution Service under the
supervision and control of the Secretary of Justice, to be composed of the Prosecution Staff in the
Office of the Secretary of Justice and such number of Regional State Prosecution Offices, and
Provincial and City Fiscal's Offices as are hereinafter provided, which shall be primarily responsible
for the investigation and prosecution of all cases involving violations of penal laws.
The power of supervision and control vested in the Secretary of Justice includes the authority to act
directly on any matter within the jurisdiction of the Prosecution Staff, the Regional State Prosecution
Office or the Office of the Provincial or City Fiscal and to review, modify or revoke any decision or
action of the Chief of said staff or office.
The power of supervision and control vested in the Secretary of Justice under P.D. No. 1275 had thus
been broadened beyond the confines of the old law, i.e., Section 1679 of the Revised Administrative
Code of 1917, where the power of the Secretary of Justice to designate acting fiscals or prosecutors to
handle a particular case was limited to instances "when a provincial fiscal shall be disqualified by
personal interest to act in a particular case or when for any reason he shall be unable, or shall fail to
discharge any of the duties of his position." Indeed, the limitation upon which petitioners rely no
longer subsisted under P.D. No. 1275.
Having been duly designated in accordance with law, the panel of prosecutors had complete control of
the investigation and prosecution of the case. . . .

3. Petitioners similarly dispute the legality of their arraignment on January 24, 1994,
when Judge Pornillos entered a plea of not guilty for them after they refused to plead,
without furnishing them copies of the information with the list of witnesses, after merely
reading the informations against them and asking whether they understood the same,
which were allegedly in palpable violation of Section 1, Rule 116. Petitioners aver that
they were requesting for the suspension of the arraignment as they wanted to have a final
copy of the order of January 24, 1994 which was merely read in open court, and to take
the necessary steps to question the same by way of a motion for reconsideration or an
appeal.
In criminal cases, it is the duty of the accused, in addition to the other pleas authorized by law, to plead
whether he is guilty or not of the crime charged. In that way and in that way only can an issue be
created upon which the trial shall proceed. 53 ᄃ Section 1 (c) of Rule 116 is quite explicit that
where the accused refuses to plead, a plea of not guilty shall be entered for him. Hence,
under such mandatory language, if the accused refuses to plead, the court must enter a
plea of not guilty. The words are so plain and unambiguous that no construction is
necessary. It actually calls for a literal application thereof. Any explanation or defense
which petitioners would want to invoke can be properly raised during the trial, but they
cannot refuse to enter their plea. Nonetheless, the alleged defect in their arraignment on
January 24, 1994 is deemed to have been cured when they were again arraigned on
February 18, 1994 with the assistance of counsel de oficio, and the information was read
to them in the vernacular.

In conclusion, considering that Branch 10 of the same trial court handling Criminal Cases
Nos. 4004-M-93 to 4007-M-93 legally acquired jurisdiction over the new informations
which we have likewise declared valid, petitioners may be prosecuted thereunder.
II. On the Petition for Habeas corpus
This petition is predicated mainly on petitioners' asseveration that the court which issued the warrant
for their arrest had no jurisdiction over the case, hence their detention should be deemed illegal.
We have earlier declared that Branch 10 of the trial court acquired jurisdiction over the new set of
informations. Consequently, the warrant of arrest issued on the bases of said informations filed therein
and the subsequent detention of herein petitioners pursuant thereto are valid. What instead has to be
resolved is the corollary issue of whether the petition for habeas corpus was properly filed together
with their present petition for certiorari and mandamus.
The writs of habeas corpus and certiorari may be ancillary to each other where necessary to give
effect to the supervisory powers of the higher courts. A writ of habeas corpus reaches the body and the
jurisdictional matters, but not the record. A writ of certiorari reaches the record but not the body.
Hence, a writ of habeas corpus may be used with the writ of certiorari for the purpose of review. 54 ᄃ
However, habeas corpus does not lie where the petitioner has the remedy of appeal or
certiorari because it will not be permitted to perform the functions of a writ of error or
appeal for the purpose of reviewing mere errors or irregularities in the proceedings of a
court having jurisdiction over the person and the subject matter. 55 ᄃ

Neither can we grant the writ at this stage since a writ of habeas corpus is not intended as
a substitute for the functions of the trial court. In the absence of exceptional
circumstances, the orderly course of trial should be pursued and the usual remedies
exhausted before the writ may be invoked. Habeas corpus is not ordinarily available in
advance of trial to determine jurisdictional questions that may arise. 56 ᄃ It has to be an
exceptional case for the writ of habeas corpus to be available to an accused before trial.
57 ᄃ In the absence of special circumstances requiring immediate action, a court will not
grant the writ and discharge the prisoner in advance of a determination of his case in
court. 58 ᄃ In the case under consideration, petitioners have dismally failed to adduce any
justification or exceptional circumstance which would warrant the grant of the writ, hence
their petition therefor has to be denied.
In addition, a petition for habeas corpus is not the appropriate vehicle for asserting a right
to bail or vindicating its denial. In the case of Enrile vs. Salazar, etc., et al., 59 ᄃ we held
that:

The criminal case before the respondent Judge was the normal venue for invoking the
petitioner's right to have provisional liberty pending trial and judgment. The original
jurisdiction to grant or deny bail rested with said respondent. The correct course was for
petitioner to invoke that jurisdiction by filing a petition to be admitted to bail, claiming a
right to bail per se by reason of the weakness of the evidence against him. Only after that
remedy was denied by the trial court should the review jurisdiction of this Court have
been invoked, and even then, not without first applying to the Court of Appeals if
appropriate relief was also available there.

III. On the Motion to Cite for Contempt


The records show that on February 24, 1994, this Court issued a temporary restraining
order, pursuant to its resolution in Administrative Matter No. 94-1-13-RTC which is a
petition for change of venue filed by the Vinculados, requiring Judges Felipe N. Villajuan
and Victoria Villalon-Pornillos to cease and desist from hearing the criminal cases
involving herein petitioners which were pending before them. 60 ᄃ

Subsequently, another resolution was issued in said cases, dated


March 1, 1994, with the following directive:
ACCORDINGLY, without prejudice to the final determination as to which of the two (2) sets of
information will be upheld or prevail, the Executive Judge of the Regional Trial Court of Malolos,
Bulacan is hereby directed to transfer all the aforementioned criminal cases filed against Mayor
Honorato Galvez, et al. now in the Regional Trial Court of Malolos, Bulacan, to the Executive Judge,
Regional Trial Court of Quezon City for raffle as one (1) single case among its branches and for the
branch concerned, after raffle, to proceed with all deliberate dispatch after the issues raised in CA-
G.R. SP No. 33261 have been resolved with finality. 61 ᄃ
As a consequence, the seven informations which were docketed as Criminal Cases Nos. Q-94-55481
to Q-94-55487 were assigned to and are now pending trial on the merits before Branch 103 of the
Regional Trial Court of Quezon City, presided over by Judge Jaime N. Salazar, Jr. Petitioners now
assert that Judge Salazar and Prosecutor Villa-Ignacio proceeded with the trial of the cases despite the
aforestated directives in the above cited resolutions. We find no merit in the motion to cite them for
contempt.
The records reveal that there was a manifestation dated May 31, 1994 62 ᄃ filed by the Solicitor
General wherein the latter manifested his conformity to the agreement made between the
prosecution and the defense before Judge Salazar, the pertinent part of which agreement
is as follows:

1. During the hearing on May 26, 1994, the prosecution, through Senior State Prosecutor
Dennis Villa-Ignacio, the defense through Justice Alfredo Lazaro, and this Honorable
Court agreed that the trial in these cases shall proceed on condition that: (a) the defense
shall not be deemed to have waived any issue or objection it has raised before the
Supreme Court in G.R. No. 114046; and (b) that the trial shall also be without prejudice
to whatever decision and resolution the Supreme Court may render in the case before it.
Counsel for petitioners, retired Justice Alfredo Lazaro, takes issue with said agreement on
the pretension that the same is not the true agreement of the parties, but he failed to state
what they actually agreed upon. Withal, the resolutions of this Court in the petition for
change of venue, as well as the cease and desist order issued therein, are clearly directed
against the two aforenamed regional trial judges in Malolos, Bulacan. By no stretch of the
imagination can we interpret the same to include Judge Jaime N. Salazar, Jr. of Quezon
City.
For that matter, the issues involved in this petition for certiorari do not necessarily require a
suspension of the proceedings before the present trial court considering that the main petition hinges
only on a determination of which set of informations shall constitute the indictments against
petitioners and for which charges they shall stand trial. Whichever set of informations prevails, the
evidence of the prosecution and defense will more or less be the same and can be utilized for the
charges therein. Hence, no cogent reason exists for the suspension of the proceedings before the court
below.
As a final word, while it may well be that both sets of information validly exist for the nonce, to allow
both of them to subsist will only serve to confuse and complicate the proceedings in the cases therein.
Brushing aside procedural technicalities, therefore, it becomes exigent to now consider and declare the
four informations for murder, frustrated murder and illegal possession of firearms as having amended
and superseded the original three informations for homicide and frustrated homicide, there being no
substantial rights of herein petitioners which may be affected thereby. Correspondingly, the three
informations for homicide and frustrated homicide should be ordered withdrawn from the Quezon
City trial court's docket.
WHEREFORE, judgment is hereby rendered DISMISSING the petition for certiorari and mandamus
together with the petition for habeas corpus; DENYING, for lack of merit, the motion to cite
respondent judge and prosecutor for contempt and to annul proceedings; and ORDERING the
withdrawal and invalidation of the three informations for homicide and frustrated homicide against
petitioners from the docket of Branch 103 of the Regional Trial Court of Quezon City.
SO ORDERED.

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