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G.R. No.

L-2068 October 20, 1948 which case the respondent justice of the peace had allowed the accused,
over the complaint's objection, to recall the complainant and her
DOMINADOR B. BUSTOS, petitioner, witnesses at the preliminary investigation so that they might be cross-
vs. examined, we sustained the justice of the peace's order. We said that
ANTONIO G. LUCERO, Judge of First Instance of Pampanga, respondent. section 11 of Rule 108 does not curtail the sound discretion of the justice
of the peace on the matter. We said that "while section 11 of Rule 108
TUASON, J.: defines the bounds of the defendant's right in the preliminary
investigation, there is nothing in it or any other law restricting the
The petitioner herein, an accused in a criminal case, filed a motion with authority, inherent in a court of justice, to pursue a course of action
the Court of First Instance of Pampanga after he had been bound over to reasonably calculated to bring out the truth."
that court for trial, praying that the record of the case be remanded to
the justice of the peace court of Masantol, the court of origin, in order But we made it clear that the "defendant can not, as a matter of right,
that the petitioner might cross-examine the complainant and her compel the complaint and his witnesses to repeat in his presence what
witnesses in connection with their testimony, on the strength of which they had said at the preliminary examination before the issuance of the
warrant was issued for the arrest of the accused. The motion was denied order of arrest." We called attention to the fact that "the constitutional
and that denial is the subject matter of this proceeding. right of an accused to be confronted by the witnesses against him does
not apply to preliminary hearings' nor will the absence of a preliminary
According to the memorandum submitted by the petitioner's attorney to examination be an infringement of his right to confront witnesses." As a
the Court of First Instance in support of his motion, the accused, assisted matter of fact, preliminary investigation may be done away with entirely
by counsel, appeared at the preliminary investigation. In that without infringing the constitutional right of an accused under the due
investigation, the justice of the peace informed him of the charges and process clause to a fair trial.
asked him if he pleaded guilty or not guilty, upon which he entered the
plea of not guilty. "Then his counsel moved that the complainant present The foregoing decision was rendered by a divided court. The minority
her evidence so that she and her witnesses could be examined and went farther than the majority and denied even any discretion on the
cross-examined in the manner and form provided by law." The fiscal and part of the justice of the peace or judge holding the preliminary
the private prosecutor objected, invoking section 11 of rule 108, and the investigation to compel the complainant and his witnesses to testify
objection was sustained. "In view thereof, the accused's counsel anew.
announced his intention to renounce his right to present evidence," and
the justice of the peace forwarded the case to the court of first instance. Upon the foregoing considerations, the present petition is dismissed
with costs against the petitioner.
Leaving aside the question whether the accused, after renouncing his
right to present evidence, and by reason of that waiver he was Moran, C.J., Paras, Pablo, Bengzon, and Briones, JJ., concur.
committed to the corresponding court for trial, is estopped, we are of
the opinion that the respondent judge did not act in excess of his Separate Opinions
jurisdiction or in abuse of discretion in refusing to grant the accused's
motion to return the record for the purpose set out therein. In Dequito FERIA, J., dissenting:
and Saling Buhay vs. Arellano, G.R. No. L-1336, recently promulgated, in
1
I am sorry to dissent from the decision. section 11 in connection with section 1 of Rule 108, because that
question was not raised therein, and we merely construed the provisions
The petitioner in the present case appeared at the preliminary on preliminary investigation or Rule 108. In said case the writer of this
investigation before the Justice of the Peace of Masantol, Pampanga, dissenting opinion said:
and after being informed of the criminal charges against him and asked if
he pleaded guilty or not guilty, pleaded not guilty. "Then the counsel for It may not be amiss to state that, modesty aside, the writer of
the petitioner moved that the complainant present her evidence so that this dissenting opinion, then a practising attorney, was the one
her witnesses could be examined and cross-examined in the manner and who prepared the draft of the Rules of Court relating to criminal
form provided by law." The fiscal and the private prosecutor objected to procedure, and the provisions on preliminary investigation in the
petitioner's motion invoking section 11, Rule 108, and the objection was draft were the same as those of the old law, which gave the
sustained. In view thereof, the accused refused to present his evidence, defendant the right to be confronted with and to cross-examine
and the case was forwarded to the Court of First Instance of Pampanga. the witnesses for the prosecution. But the Supreme Court
approved and adopted in toto the draft, except the part referring
The counsel for the accused petitioner filed a motion with the Court of to preliminary investigation which it modified, by suppressing
First Instance praying that the record of the case be remanded to the said right and enacting, in its stead, the provisions of section 11
justice of the peace of Masantol, in order that the petitioner might cross- of Rule 108 in its present form. I prefer the old to the new
examine the complainant and her witnesses in connection with their procedure. But I can not subscribe to the majority decision,
testimony. The motion was denied, and for that reason the present which is a judicial legislation and makes the exercise of the right
special civil action of mandamus was instituted. of a defendant to be confronted, with and cross-examine the
witnesses against him, to depend entirely upon the whim or
It is evident that the refusal or waiver of the petitioner to present his caprice of a judge or officer conducting the preliminary
evidence during the investigation in the justice of the peace, was not a investigation.
waiver of his alleged right to be confronted with and cross-examine the
witnesses for the prosecution, that is, of the preliminary investigation But now the question of the validity of said section 11, Rule 108, is
provided for in General Order No. 58 and Act No. 194, to which he claims squarely presented to this Court for decision, we have perforce to pass
to be entitled, as shown by the fact that, as soon as the case was upon it.
forwarded to the Court of First Instance, counsel for the petitioner filed a
motion with said court to remand the case to the Justice of the Peace of Section 13, Article VIII, of the Constitution prescribes that "the Supreme
Masantol ordering the latter to make said preliminary investigation. His Court shall have power to promulgate rules concerning pleading,
motion having been denied, the petitioner has filed the present action in practice and procedure in all courts, but said rules shall not diminish,
which he squarely attacks the validity of the provision of section 11, Rule increase or modify substantive rights." The constitution added the last
108, on the ground that it deprives him of the right to be confronted part of the above-quoted constitutional precept in order to emphasize
with and cross-examine the witnesses for the prosecution, contrary to that the Supreme Court is not empowered, and therefore can not enact
the provision of section 13, Article VIII, of the Constitution. or promulgate substantive laws or rules, for it is obvious that rules which
diminish, increase or modify substantive rights, are substantive and not
In the case of Dequito and Saling Buhay vs. Arellano, No. L-1336, we did adjective laws or rules concerning pleading, practice and procedure.
not discuss and decide the question of validity or constitutionality of said
2
It does not require an elaborate arguments to show that the right the peace courts have discretion to grant a defendant's request to have
granted by law upon a defendant to be confronted with and cross- the witnesses for the prosecution recalled to testify again in the
examine the witnesses for the prosecuted in preliminary investigation as presence of the defendant and be cross-examined by the latter, does not
well as in the trial of the case is a substantive right. It is based on human validate said provision; because to make the exercise of an absolute right
experience, according to which a person is not prone to tell a lie against discretionary or dependent upon the will or discretion of the court or
another in his presence, knowing fully well that the latter may easily officer making the preliminary investigation, is evidently to diminish or
contradict him, and that the credibility of a person or veracity of his modify it.
testimony may be efficaciously tested by a cross-examination. It is
substantive right because by exercising it, an accused person may show, Petition is therefore granted.
even if he has no evidence in his favor, that the testimonies of the
witnesses for the prosecution are not sufficient to indicate that there is a PERFECTO, J., dissenting:
probability that a crime has been committed and he is guilty thereof, and
therefore the accused is entitled to be released and not committed to In our concurring and dissenting opinion in the case of Dequito and
prison, and thus avoid an open and public accusation of crime, the Saling Buhay vs. Arellano, No. L-1336, we said:
trouble, expense, and anxiety of a public trial, and the corresponding
anxiety or moral suffering which a criminal prosecution always entails. In our opinion, section 11 of Rule 108 must be read, interpreted,
and applied in a way that will not contravene the constitutional
This right is not a constitutional but a statutory right granted by law to an provision guaranteeing to all accused the right "to meet the
accused outside of the City of Manila because of the usual delay in the witnesses face to face." (Section 1 [17], Article III.)
final disposition of criminal cases in provinces. The law does not grant
such right to a person charged with offenses triable by the Court of First Consequently, at the preliminary hearing contemplated by said
Instance in the City of Manila, because of the promptness, actual or reglementary section, the defendant is entitled as a matter of
presumptive, with which criminal cases are tried and disposed of in the fundamental right to her the testimony of the witnesses for the
Court of First Instance of said city. But this right, though not a prosecution and to cross-examine them.
constitutional one, can not be modified, abridged, or diminished by the
Supreme Court, by virtue of the rule making power conferred upon this Although in such preliminary hearing the accused cannot finally
Court by the Constitution. be convicted, he is liable to endure the ordeal eloquently
depicted in the decision, and the constitutional guarantee
Since the provisions of section 11 of Rule 108 as construed by this Court protects defendants, not only from the jeopardy of being finally
in several cases, (in which the question of constitutionality or validity of convicted and punished, but also from the physical, mental and
said section had not been squarely raised) do away with the defendant's moral sufferings that may unjustly be visited upon him in any one
right under discussion, it follows that said section 11 diminishes the of the stages of the criminal process instituted against him. He
substantive right of the defendant in criminal case, and this Court has no must be afforded the opportunities to have the charges against
power or authority to promulgate it and therefore is null and void. him quashed, not only at the final hearing, but also at the
preliminary investigation, if by confronting the witnesses for the
The fact that the majority of this Court has ruled in the above cited case prosecution he can convince the court that the charges are
of Dequito and Saling Buhay vs. Arellano, that the inferior or justice of groundless. There is no justice in compelling him to undergo the
3
troubles of a final hearing if at the preliminary hearing the case law or substantive right. Substantive law creates substantive rights and
can be terminated in his favor. Otherwise, the preliminary the two terms in this respect may be said to be synonymous. Substantive
investigation or hearing will be an empty gesture that should not rights is a term which includes those rights which one enjoys under the
have a place within the framework of dignified and solemn legal system prior to the disturbance of normal relations. (60 C.J., 980.)
judicial proceedings. Substantive law is that part of the law which creates, defines and
regulates rights, or which regulates the rights and duties which give rise
On the strength of the above quoted opinion the opinion should be to a cause of action; that part of the law which courts are established to
granted and so we vote. administer; as opposed to adjective or remedial law, which prescribes
the method of enforcing rights or obtains redress for their invasion. (36
Petition dismissed. C. J., 27; 52 C. J. S., 1026.)

RESOLUTION As applied to criminal law, substantive law is that which declares what
acts are crimes and prescribes the punishment for committing them, as
March 8, 1949 distinguished from the procedural law which provides or regulates the
steps by which one who commits a crime is to be punished. (22 C. J. S.,
TUASON, J.: 49.) Preliminary investigation is eminently and essentially remedial; it is
the first step taken in a criminal prosecution.
This cause is now before us on a motion for reconsideration.
As a rule of evidence, section 11 of Rule 108 is also procedural. Evidence
In the decision sought to be reconsidered, we said, citing Dequito and — which is the "the mode and manner of proving the competent facts
Saling Buhay vs. Arellano, G.R. No. L-1336: "The constitutional right of an and circumstances on which a party relies to establish the fact in dispute
accused to be confronted by the witnesses against him does not apply to in judicial proceedings" — is identified with and forms part of the
preliminary hearings; nor will the absence of a preliminary examination method by which, in private law, rights are enforced and redress
be an infringement of his right to confront witness. As a matter of fact, obtained, and, in criminal law, a law transgressor is punished. Criminal
preliminary investigation may be done away with entirely without procedure refers to pleading, evidence and practice. (State vs. Capaci,
infringing the constitutional right of an accused under the due process 154 So., 419; 179 La., 462.) the entire rules of evidence have been
clause to a fair trial." We took this ruling to be ample enough to dispose incorporated into the Rules of Court. We can not tear down section 11 of
the constitutional question pleaded in the application for certiorari. Rule 108 on constitutional grounds without throwing out the whole code
Heeding the wishes of the petitioner, we shall enlarge upon the subject. of evidence embodied in these Rules.

It is contended that section 11 of Rule 108 of the Rules of In Beazell vs. Ohio, 269 U. S., 167, 70 Law. ed., 216, the United States
Court 1 infringes section 13, Article VIII, of the Constitution. 2 It is said that Supreme Court said:
the rule in question deals with substantive matters and impairs
substantive rights. Expressions are to be found in earlier judicial opinions to the
effect that the constitutional limitation may be transgressed by
We can not agree with this view. We are of the opinion that section 11 of alterations in the rules of evidence or procedure. See Calder vs.
Rule 108, like its predecessors, is an adjective law and not a substantive Bull, 3 Dall. 386, 390, 1 L. ed., 648, 650; Cummings vs. Missouri, 4
4
Wall. 277, 326, 18 L. ed., 356, 364; Kring vs. Missouri, 107 U. S. witnesses remains unaffected, and his constitutional right to be
221, 228, 232, 27 L. ed., 507, 508, 510, 2 Ct. Rep., 443. And there informed of the charges against him both at such investigation and at
may be procedural changes which operate to deny to the the trial is unchanged. In the latter stage of the proceedings, the only
accused a defense available under the laws in force at the time of stage where the guaranty of due process comes into play, he still enjoys
the commission of his offense, or which otherwise affect him in to the full extent the right to be confronted by and to cross-examine the
such a harsh and arbitrary manner as to fall within the witnesses against him. The degree of importance of a preliminary
constitutional prohibition. Kring vs. Missouri, 107 U. S., 221, 27 L. investigation to an accused may be gauged by the fact that this formality
ed., 507, 2 Sup. Ct. Rep., 443; Thompson vs. Utah, 170 U. S., 343, is frequently waived.
42 L. ed., 1061, 18 Sup. Ct. Rep., 620. But it is not well settled
that statutory changes in the mode of trial or the rules of The distinction between "remedy" and "substantive right" is incapable of
evidence, which do not deprive the accused of a defense and exact definition. The difference is somewhat a question of degree.
which operate only in a limited and unsubstantial manner to his (Dexter vs. Edmands, 89 F., 467; Beazell vs. Ohio, supra.) It is difficult to
disadvantage, are not prohibited. A statute which, after draw a line in any particular case beyond which legislative power over
indictment, enlarges the class of persons who may be witnesses remedy and procedure can pass without touching upon the substantive
at the trial, by removing the disqualification of persons convicted rights of parties affected, as it is impossible to fix that boundary by
of felony, is not an ex post facto law. Hopt vs. Utah, 110 U. S., general condition. (State vs. Pavelick, 279 P., 1102.) This being so, it is
575, 28 L. ed., 263, 4 Sup. Ct. Rep., 202, 4 Am. Crim. Rep. 417. inevitable that the Supreme Court in making rules should step on
Nor is a statute which changes the rules of evidence after the substantive rights, and the Constitution must be presumed to tolerate if
indictment so as to render admissible against the accused not to expect such incursion as does not affect the accused in a harsh
evidence previously held inadmissible, Thompson vs. Missouri, and arbitrary manner or deprive him of a defense, but operates only in a
171 U. S., 380, 43 L. ed., 204, 18 Sup. Ct. Rep., 922; or which limited and unsubstantial manner to his disadvantage. For the Court's
changes the place of trial, Gut. vs. Minnesota, 9 Wall. 35, 19 L. power is not merely to compile, revise or codify the rules of procedure
ed., 573; or which abolishes a court for hearing criminal appeals, existing at the time of the Constitution's approval. This power is "to
creating a new one in its stead. See Duncan vs. Missouri, 152 U. promulgate rules concerning pleading, practice, and procedure in all
S., 377, 382, 38 L. ed., 485, 487, 14 sup. Ct. Rep., 570. courts," which is a power to adopt a general, complete and
comprehensive system of procedure, adding new and different rules
Tested by this standard, we do not believe that the curtailment of the without regard to their source and discarding old ones.
right of an accused in a preliminary investigation to cross-examine the
witnesses who had given evidence for his arrest is of such importance as The motion is denied.
to offend against the constitutional inhibition. As we have said in the
beginning, preliminary investigation is not an essential part of due Moran, C.J., Paras, Pablo, Bengzon, Briones, and Montemayor, JJ.,
process of law. It may be suppressed entirely, and if this may be done, concur.
mere restriction of the privilege formerly enjoyed thereunder can not be
held to fall within the constitutional prohibition. FERIA, J., dissenting:

While section 11 of Rule 108 denies to the defendant the right to cross- I dissent.
examine witnesses in a preliminary investigation, his right to present his
5
The motion for reconsideration must be granted. law is that part of the law which creates, defines, and regulates rights as
opposed to objective or procedural law which prescribes the method of
According to the resolution, the right of a defendant to be confronted enforcing rights. What constitutes practice and procedure in the law is
with and cross-examine the witnesses for the prosecution in a the mode or proceeding by which a legal right is enforced, "that which
preliminary investigation granted by law or provided for in General regulates the formal steps in an action or judicial proceedings; the
Orders, No. 58, as amended, in force prior to the promulgation of the course of procedure in courts; the form, manner and order in which
Rules of Court, is not a substantive right but a mere matter of procedure, proceedings have been, and are accustomed to be had; the form,
and therefore this Court can suppress it in section 11, Rule 108, of the manner and order of carrying on and conducting suits or prosecutions in
Rules of Court, for the following reasons: the courts through their various sages according to the principles of law
and the rules laid down by the respective courts." 31 Cyc. Law and
First. Because "preliminary investigation is eminently and essentially Procedure, p. 1153; id., 32, section 405; Rapalje & Lawrence's Law
remedial; it is the first step taken in a criminal prosecution." . . . "As a Dictionary; Anderson Law Dictionary; Bouvier's Law Dictionary.
rule of evidence, section 11 of Rule 108 is also procedural." . . . "The
entire rules of evidence have been incorporated into the Rules of Court." Substantive rights may be created or granted either in the Constitution
And therefore "we can not tear down section 11 of Rule 108 on or in any branch of the law, civil, criminal, administrative or procedural
constitutional grounds without throwing out the whole Code of evidence law. In our old Code of Civil Procedure, Act No. 190, as amended, there
embodied in these rules." are provisions which create, define and regulate substantive rights, and
many of those provisions such as those relating to guardianship,
Secondly. Because, "preliminary investigation is not an essential part of adoption, evidence and many others are incorporated in the Rules of
due process of law. It may be suppressed entirely, and if this may be Court for the sake of convenience and not because this Court is
done, mere restriction of the privilege formerly enjoyed thereunder can empowered to promulgate them as rules of court. And our old law of
not be held to fall within the constitutional prohibition." Criminal Procedure General Orders No. 58 grants the offended party the
right to commence a criminal action or file a complaint against the
Lastly. Because, "the distinction between remedy and 'substantive right' offender and to intervene in the criminal prosecution against him, and
is incapable of exact definition. The difference is somewhat a question of grants the defendant in the Court of First Instance (except in the City of
degree" . . . It is difficult to draw a line in any particular case beyond Manila) the right to bail, and to a preliminary investigation including his
which legislative power over remedy and procedure can pass without rights during said investigation, and the rights at the trial, which are now
touching upon the substantive rights of parties affected, as it is reproduced or incorporated in Rules 106, 108, 110, and 111 of the Rules
impossible to fix that boundary by general condition. . . . "This being so, of Court, except the rights now in question. And all these, and others not
it is inevitable that the Supreme Court in making rules should step on necessary for us to mention, are obviously substantive rights.
substantive rights, and the Constitution must be presumed to tolerate if
not to expect such incursion as does not affect the accused in a harsh (1) As to the first argument, the premise "the preliminary investigation is
and arbitrary manner or deprive him of a defense, but operates only in a eminently and essentially remedial is not correct. Undoubtedly the
limited and unsubstantial manner to his disadvantage." majority means to say procedural, in line with the conclusion in the
resolution, because remedial law is one thing, and procedural law is
Before proceeding it is necessary to distinguish substantive law from another. Obviously they are different branches of the law. "Remedial
procedure, for the distinction is not always well understood. Substantive statute" is "a statute providing a remedy for an injury as distinguished
6
from a penal statute. A statute giving a party a mode of remedy for a down said section. Our theory, is that said section 11 should be so
wrong where he had none or a different one before. . . . Remedial construed as to be valid and effective, that is, that if the defendant asks
statutes are those which are made to supply such defects, and abridge the court to recall the witness or witnesses for the prosecution to testify
such superfluities in the common law, as arise either from the general again in his presence, and to allow the former to cross-examine the
imperfections of all human law, from change of time and circumstances, latter, the court or officer making the preliminary investigation is under
from the mistakes and unadvised determination of unlearned (or even obligation to grant the request. But if the defendant does not so ask the
learned) judges, or from any other cause whatsoever." (Black's Law court, he should be considered as waiving his right to be confronted with
Dictionary, third edition, pp. 1525, 1526.) and cross-examine the witness against him.

It is also not correct to affirm that section 11 of Rule 108 relating to right (2) With respect to the second argument or reason, it is true that the
of defendant after arrest "is a rule of evidence and therefore is also preliminary investigation as provided for in the General Orders, No. 58,
procedural." In the first place, the provisions of said section to the effect as amended, is not an essential part of due process of law, because "due
that "the defendant, after the arrest and his delivery to the court has the process of law" is not iron clad in its meaning; its does not necessarily
right to be informed of the complaint or information filed against him, mean a particular procedure. Due process of law simply requires a
and also to be informed of the testimony and evidence presented procedure that fully protects the life, liberty and property. For that
against him, and may be allowed to testify and present witnesses or reason the investigation to be made by the City Fiscal of the City of
evidence for him if he so desires," are not rules of evidence; and in the Manila under Act No. 612, now section 2465 of the Administrative Code,
second place, it is evident that most of the rules of evidence, if not all, before filing an information, was considered by this Court as sufficient to
are substantive laws that define, create or regulate rights, and not satisfy the due process of law constitutional requirement (U. S. vs.
procedural. "Rules of evidence are substantive rights found in common Ocampo, 18 Phil., 1; U. S. vs. Grant and Kennedy, 18 Phil., 122). But it is
law chiefly and growing out of reasoning, experience and common sense also true that we have already and correctly held that: "The law having
of lawyers and courts." (State vs. Pavelich, et al., 279 P., 1102.) "It is true explicitly recognized and established that no person charged with the
that weighing of evidence and the rules of practice with respect thereto commission of a crime shall be deprived of his liberty or subjected to
form part of the law of procedure, but the classification of proofs is trial without prior preliminary investigation (provided for in General
sometime determined by the substantive law." (U. S. vs. Genato, 15 Phil., orders, No. 58, as amended) that shall show that there are reasonable
170, 176.) How can the law on judicial notice, conclusive as well as juris grounds to believe him guilty, there can be no doubt that the accused
tantum presumption, hearsay and best evidence rule, parol evidence who is deprived of his liberty, tried and sentenced without the proper
rule, interpretation of documents, competency of a person to testify as a preliminary investigation having been made in his regard, is convicted
witness be considered procedural? without the process of law," (United States vs. Banzuela, 31 Phil., 564).

Therefore, the argumentative conclusion that "we can not tear down The ruling in Beazell vs. Ohio, 269 U. S. 167, 70 Law. ed., 216, quoted in
section 11 of Rule 108 on constitutional grounds without throwing out the resolution, has no application to the present case, for the question
the whole code of evidence embodied in these Rules," is evidently involved therein was the power of Congress to alter the rules of
wrong, not only for the reason just stated, but because our contention evidence and procedure without violating the constitutional precept that
that the defendant can not be deprived of his right to be confronted with prohibits the passing of ex post facto law, while the question herein
and cross-examine the witness of the prosecution is a preliminary involved is the power of the Supreme Court to promulgate rules of
investigation under consideration would not, if upheld, necessarily tear pleading, practice and procedure, which diminish the substantive right of
7
a defendant, expressly prohibited by the same provision of the immediately a short time after his arrest after the preliminary
Constitution that confers upon this Court the power to promulgate said investigation, would have to be held for trial and wait for a considerable
rules. period of time until the case is tried and acquitted after trial by the
Courts of First Instance in provinces on account of the admission of such
(3) The last reason or argument premised on the conclusion that "the evidence in the preliminary investigation, evidence not admissible at the
distinction between remedy and 'substantive right' is incapable of exact trial.
definition;" indeed "the difference is somewhat a question of degree,"
(Dexter vs. Edmonds, 89 F 487), is immaterial, because, as we have Therefore, the motion for reconsideration is granted, and after the
already said in refuting the majority's first reason, remedy and necessary proceedings the decision of the majority reversed or modified
procedure are two completely different things. in accordance with my dissenting opinion.

As above defined, substantive law is clearly differentiated from PERFECTO, J.:


procedural law and practice. But even assuming arguendo that it is
difficult to draw the line in any particular case beyond which the power We dissent. Our opinion in the Dequito case still stands. The motion for
of the court over procedure can not pass without touching upon the reconsideration should be granted.
substantial right of the parties, what this Court should do in that case
would be to abstain from promulgating such rule of procedure which
many increase, diminish or modify substantive right in order to avoid Sec. 11. Rights of defendant after arrest. — After the arrest of the
violating the constitutional prohibition above referred to. Because as this defendant and the delivery to the court, he shall be informed of the
Supreme Court is not empowered by the Constitution to legislate on or complaint or information filed against him. He shall also be informed of
the substance of the testimony and evidence presented against him, and,
abrogate substantive rights, but only to promulgate rules of pleading, he desires to testify or to present witnesses or evidence in his favor, he
practice and procedure which "shall not diminish, increase or modify may be allowed to do so. The testimony of the witnesses need not be
substantive rights," this Court can not step on them in making the rules, reduce two writing but that of the defendant shall be taken in writing and
and the Constitution must be presumed not to tolerate nor expect such subscribed by him.
incursion as would affect the substantive rights of the accused in any
manner.

Besides, depriving an accused of his right to be confronted and cross-


examine the witness against him in a preliminary investigation would
affect the accused not in a limited and unsubstantial but in a harsh and
arbitrary manner. The testimony of a witness given in the absence of the
defendant and without an opportunity on the part of the latter to cross-
examine him is a hearsay evidence, and it should not be admitted against
the defendant in a preliminary investigation that is granted to the latter
as a protection against hasty, malicious and oppressive prosecutions (U.
S. vs. Grant and Kennedy, supra). Otherwise, an accused who is innocent
and should not be arrested, or if arrested should be released
8
contracts and interceded for it in problems concerning the same in his
office.
[G.R. No. 129742. September 16, 1998] Later, misunderstanding and unpleasant incidents developed
between the parties and when petitioner tried to terminate their
relationship, private respondent refused and resisted her attempts to do
so to the extent of employing acts of harassment, intimidation and
TERESITA G. FABIAN petitioner, vs. HON. ANIANO A. DESIERTO, in his threats. She eventually filed the aforementioned administrative case
capacity as ombudsman; HON. JESUS F. GUERRERO, in his against him in a letter-complaint dated July 24, 1995.
capacity as Deputy Ombudsman for Luzon; and NESTOR V.
AGUSTIN respondents. The said complaint sought the dismissal of private respondent for
violation of Section 19, Republic Act No. 6770 (Ombudsman Act of 1989)
DECISION and Section 36 of Presidential Decree No. 807 (Civil Service Decree), with
an ancillary prayer for his preventive suspension. For purposes of this
REGALADO, J: case, the charges referred to may be subsumed under the category of
oppression, misconduct, and disgraceful or immoral conduct.
Petitioner has appealed to us by certiorari under Rule 45 of the Rules
of Court from the "Joint Order" issued by public respondents on June 18, On January 31, 1996, Graft Investigator Eduardo R. Benitez issued a
1997 in OMB-Adm. Case No. 0-95-0411 which granted the motion for resolution finding private respondents guilty of grave misconduct and
reconsideration of and absolved private respondents from administrative ordering his dismissal from the service with forfeiture of all benefits under
charges for inter alia grave misconduct committed by him as then the law. His resolution bore the approval of Director Napoleon Baldrias
Assistant Regional Director, Region IV-A, Department of Public Works and and Assistant Ombudsman Abelardo Aportadera of their office.
Highways (DPWH). Herein respondent Ombudsman, in an Order dated February 26,
I 1996, approved the aforesaid resolution with modifications, by finding
private respondent guilty of misconduct and meting out the penalty of
It appears from the statement and counter-statement of facts of the suspension without pay for one year. After private respondent moved for
parties that petitioner Teresita G. Fabian was the major stockholder and reconsideration, respondent Ombudsman discovered that the former's
president of PROMAT Construction Development Corporation (PROMAT) new counsel had been his "classmate and close associate" hence he
which was engaged in the construction business. Private respondents inhibited himself. The case was transferred to respondent Deputy
Nestor V. Agustin was the incumbent District Engineering District (FMED) Ombudsman Jesus F. Guerrero who, in the now challenged Joint Order of
when he allegedly committed the offenses for which he was June 18, 1997, set aside the February 26, 1997 Order of respondent
administratively charged in the Office in the office of the Ombudsman. Ombudsman and exonerated private respondents from the administrative
Promat participated in the bidding for government construction charges.
project including those under the FMED, and private respondent, II
reportedly taking advantage of his official position, inveigled petitioner
into an amorous relationship. Their affair lasted for some time, in the In the present appeal, petitioner argues that Section 27 of Republic
course of which private respondents gifted PROMAT with public works Act No. 6770 (Ombudsman Act of 1989)[1]pertinently provides that -

1
In all administrative diciplinary cases, orders, directives or decisions of Sec. 18. Rules of Procedure. - (1) The Office of the Ombudsman shall
the Office of the Ombudsman may be appealed to the Supreme Court by promulgate its own rules of procedure for the effective exercise or
filing a petition for certiorari within ten (10) days from receipt of the performance of its powers, functions, and duties.
written notice of the order, directive or decision or denial of the motion
for reconsideration in accordance with Rule 45 of the Rules of Court. xxx
(Emphasis supplied)
Sec. 23. Formal Investigation. - (1) Administrative investigations by the
However, she points out that under Section 7, Rule III of Office of the Ombudsman shall be in accordance with its rules of
Administrative Order No. 07 (Rules of Procedure of the office of the procedure and consistent with the due process. x x x
Ombudsman),[2] when a respondent is absolved of the charges in an
administrative proceeding decision of the ombudsman is final and xxx
unappealable. She accordingly submits that the office of the ombudsman
has no authority under the law to restrict, in the manner provided in its Sec. 27. Effectivity and Finality of Decisions. - All provisionary orders at
aforesaid Rules, the right of appeal allowed by Republic Act No. 6770, nor the Office of the Ombudsman are immediately effective and executory.
to limit the power of review of this Court. Because of the aforecited
provision in those Rules of Procedure, she claims that she found it A motion for reconsideration of any order, directive or decision of the
"necessary to take an alternative recourse under Rule 65 of the Rules of Office of the Ombudsman must be filed within five (5) days after receipt
Court, because of the doubt it creates on the availability of appeals of written notice shall be entertained only on any of the following
under Rule 45 of the Rules of Court. grounds:
Respondents filed their respective comments and rejoined that the
xxx
Office of the Ombudsman is empowered by the Constitution and the law
to promulgate its own rules of procedure. Section 13(8), Article XI of the
Findings of fact by the Office of the Ombudsman when supported by
1987 Constitution provides, among others, that the Office of the
substantial evidence are conclusive. Any order, directive or
Ombudsman can "(p)romulgate its rules of procedure and exercise such
decision imposing the penalty of public censure or reprimand,
other powers or perform such functions or duties as may be provided by
suspension of not more than one month salary shall be final and
law."
unappealable.
Republic Act No. 6770 duly implements the Constitutional mandate
with these relevant provisions: In all administrative disciplinary cases, orders, directives or decisions of
the Office of the Ombudsman may be appealed to the Supreme Court by
Sec. 14. Restrictions. - x x x No court shall hear any appeal or application filing a petition for certiorari within ten (10) days from receipt of the
for remedy against the decision or findings of the Ombudsman except written notice of the order, directive or decision or denial of the motion
the Supreme Court on pure question on law. for reconsideration in accordance with Rule 45 of the Rules of Court.

xxx The above rules may be amended or modified by the Office of the
Ombudsman as the interest of justice may require.

2
Respondents consequently contend that, on the foregoing whether or not they may be resorted to concurrently or alternatively,
constitutional and statutory authority, petitioner cannot assail the validity obvious though the answers thereto appear to be.Besides, some
of the rules of procedure formulated by the Office of the Ombudsman seemingly obiter statements in Yabuts and Alba could bear reexamination
governing the conduct of proceeding before it, including those with and clarification. Hence, we will merely observe and lay down the rule at
respect to the availabity or non-avalability of appeal in administrative this juncture that Section 27 of Republic Act No. 6770 is involved only
cases. Such as Section 7, Rule III of Administrative Order No.07. whenever an appeal by certiorari under Rule 45 is taken from a decision
in an administrative diciplinary action. It cannot be taken into account
Respondents also question the propriety of petitioner's proposition
where an original action for certiorari under Rule 65 is resorted to as a
that, although she definitely prefaced her petition by categorizing the
remedy for judicial review, such as from an incident in a criminal action.
same as "an appeal by certiorari under Rule 45 of the Rules of Court," she
makes the aforequoted ambivalent statement which in effect asks that, III
should the remedy under Rule 45 be unavailable, her petition be treated
After respondents' separate comments had been filed, the Court was
in the alternative as an original action for certiorari under Rule 65. The
intrigued by the fact, which does appear to have been seriously
parties thereafter engage in a discussion of the differences between a
considered before, that the administrative liability of a public official could
petition for review on certiorari under Rule 45 and a special civil action of
fall under the jurisdiction of both the Civil Service Commission and the
certiorari under Rule 65.
Office of the Ombudsman. Thus, the offenses imputed to herein private
Ultimately, they also attempt to review and rationalize the decision respondent were based on both Section 19 of Republic Act. No. 6770 and
of this Court applying Section 27 of Republic Act No. 6770 vis--vis Section Section 36 of Presidential Decree No. 807. Yet, pursuant to the
7, Rule III of Administrative Order No. 07. As correctly pointed out by amendment of section 9, Batas Pambansa Blg. 129 by Republic Act No.
public respondents, Ocampo IV vs. Ombudsman, et al.[3] and Young vs. 7902, all adjudications by Civil Service Commission in administrative
Office of the Ombudsman, et al.[4] were original actions disciplinary cases were made appealable to the Court of Appeals effective
for certiorariunder Rule 65. Yabut vs. Office of the Ombudsman, et March 18, 1995, while those of the Office of the Ombudsman are
al.[5] was commenced by a petition for review on certiorari under Rule appealable to this Court.
45. Then came Cruz, Jr. vs. People, et al.,[6] Olivas vs. Office of the
It could thus be possible that in the same administrative case
Ombudsman, et al., [7] Olivarez vs. Sandiganbayan, et al.,[8] and Jao, et al.
involving two respondents, the proceedings against one could eventually
vs. Vasquez,[9] which were for certiorari, prohibition and/or mandamus
have been elevated to the Court of Appeals, while the other may have
under Rule 65. Alba vs. Nitorreda, et al.[10] was initiated by a pleading
found its way to the Ombudsman from which it is sought to be brought to
unlikely denominated as an "Appeal/Petition for Certiorariand/or
this Court. Yet systematic and efficient case management would dictate
Prohibition," with a prayer for ancillary remedies, and ultimately followed
the consolidation of those cases in the Court of Appeals, both for
by Constantino vs. Hon. Ombudsman Aniano Desierto, et al.[11] which was
expediency and to avoid possible conflicting decisions.
a special civil action for certiorari.
Then there is the consideration that Section 30, Article VI of the 1987
Considering, however the view that this Court now takes of the case
Constitution provides that "(n)o law shall be passed increasing the
at bar and the issues therein which will shortly be explained, it refrains
appellate indiction of the Supreme Court as provided in this Constitution
from preemptively resolving the controverted points raised by the parties
without its advice and consent," and that Republic Act No. 6770, with its
on the nature and propriety of application of the writ of certiorari when
challenged Section 27, took effect on November 17, 1989, obviously in
used as a mode of appeal or as the basis of a special original action, and
spite of that constitutional grounds must be raised by a party to the case,
3
neither of whom did so in this case, but that is not an inflexible rule, as we absolved the latter from the administrative charges for grave
shall explain. misconduct, among other."
Since the constitution is intended fort the observance of the judiciary
It is further averred therein that the present appeal to this Court is
and other departments of the government and the judges are sworn to
allowed under Section 27 of the Ombudsman Act of 1987 (R.A. No. 6770)
support its provisions, the courts are not at liberty to overlook or
and, pursuant thereto, the Office of the Ombudsman issued its Rules of
disregard its commands or countenance evasions thereof. When it is clear
Procedure, Section 7 whereof is assailed by petitioner in this
that a statute trangresses the authority vested in a legislative body, it is
proceeding. It will be recalled that R.A. No. 6770 was enacted on
the duty of the courts to declare that the constitution, and not the statute,
November 17, 1989, with Section 27 thereof pertinently providing that
governs in a case before them for judgement.[12]
all administrative diciplinary cases, orders, directives or decisions of the
Thus, while courts will not ordinarily pass upon constitutional Office of the Ombudsman may be appealed to this Court in accordance
questions which are not raised in the pleadings,[13] the rule has been with Rule 45 of the Rules of Court.
recognized to admit of certain exceptions. It does not preclude a court
from inquiring into its own jurisdiction or compel it to enter a judgement The Court notes, however, that neither the petition nor the two
that it lacks jurisdiction to enter. If a statute on which a court's jurisdiction comments thereon took into account or discussed the validity of the
in a proceeding depends is unconstitutional, the court has no jurisdiction aforestated Section 27 of R.A. No. 8770 in light of the provisions of
in the proceeding, and since it may determine whether or not it has Section 30, Article VI of the 1987 Constitution that "(n)o law shall be
jurisdiction, it necessarily follows that it may inquire into the passed increasing the appellate jurisdiction of the Supreme Court as
constitutionality of the statute.[14] provided in this Constitution without its advise and consent."
Constitutional question, not raised in the regular and orderly
The Court also invites the attention of the parties to its relevant ruling
procedure in the trial are ordinarily rejected unless the jurisdiction of the
in First Lepanto Ceramics, Inc. vs. The Court of Appeals , et al. (G.R. No.
court below or that of the appellate court is involved in which case it may
110571, October 7, 1994, 237 SCRA 519) and the provisions of its former
be raised at any time or on the court's own motion.[15] The Court ex mero
Circular No. 1-95,as now substantially reproduced in Rule 43 of the 1997
motu may take cognizance of lack of jurisdiction at any point in the case
revision of the Rules of Civil Procedure.
where the fact is developed.[16] The court has a clearly recognized right to
determine its own jurisdiction in any proceeding.[17]
In view of the fact that the appellate jurisdiction of the Court is invoked
The foregoing authorities notwithstanding, the Court believed that and involved and in this case, and the foregoing legal consideration
the parties hereto should be further heard on this constitutional appear to impugn the constitutionality and validity of the grant of said
question. Correspondingly, the following resolution was issued on May appellate jurisdiction to it, the Court deems it necessary that the parties
14, 1998, the material parts stating as follows: be heard thereon and the issue be first resolved before conducting
further proceedings in this appellate review.
The Court observes that the present petition, from the very allegations
thereof, is "an appeal by certiorari under Rule 45 of the Rules of Court ACCORDINGLY, the Court Resolved to require the parties to Submit their
from the 'Joint Order (Re: Motion for Reconsideration)' issued in OMB- position and arguments on the matter subject of this resolution by filing
Adm. Case No. 0-95-0411, entitled 'Teresita G. Fabian vs. Engr. Nestor V. their corresponding pleadings within ten (10) days from notice hereof.
Agustin, Asst. Regional Director, Region IV-A, EDSA, Quezon City,' which
4
IV are referred to and already provided for in Section 5, Article VIII of the
Constitution.
The records do not show that the Office of the Solicitor General has
complied with such requirement, hence the Court dispenses with any Apropos to the foregoing, and as correctly observed by
submission it should have presented. On the other hand, petitioner private respondent, the revised Rules of Civil Procedure[19]preclude
espouses the theory that the provision in Section 27 of Republic Act No. appeals from quasi-judicial agencies to the Supreme Court via a petition
6770 which authorizes an appeal by certiorari to this Court of the for review on certiorari under Rule 45.In the 1997 Rules of Civil Procedure,
aforementioned adjudications of the Ombudsman is not violative of Section 1 Rule 45, on "Appeal by Certiorari to the Supreme Court,"
Section 30, Article VI of the Constitution. She claims that what is explicitly states:
proscribed is the passage of law "increasing" the appellate jurisdiction of
this Court "as provided in this Constitution," and such appellate SECTION 1 . Filing of petition with Supreme Court. - A person desiring to
jurisdiction includes "all cases in which only an error or question of law is appeal by certiorari from a judgement or final order or Resolution of
involved."Since Section 5(2)(e), Article VIII of the Constitution authorizes the Court of Appeals, the Sandiganbayan, the Regional Trial Court or
this Court to review, revise, reverse, modify, or affirm on appeal other court whenever authorized by law, may file with the Supreme
or certiorari the aforesaid final judgement or orders "as the law or the Court a verified petition for review on certiorari. The petition shall raise
Rules of Court may provide," said Section 27 does not increase this Court only question of law which must be distinctly set forth. (Italics ours).
may provide," said section 27 does not increase this Court's appellate
jurisdiction since, by providing that the mode of appeal shall be by petition This differs from the former Rule 45 of the 1964 Rules of Court which
for certiorari under Rule 45, then what may be raised therein are only made mention only of the Court of Appeals, and had to be adopted in
questions of law of which this Court already has of which this Court statutes creating and providing for appeals from certain administrative or
already has jurisdiction. quasi-judicial agencies, whenever the purpose was to restrict the scope of
the appeal to questions of law. That intended limitation on appellate
We are not impressed by this discourse. It overlooks the fact that by
review, as we have just discussed, was not fully subserved by recourse to
jurisprudential developments over the years, this Court has allowed
the former Rule 45 but, then, at that time there was no uniform rule on
appeals by certiorari under Rule 45 in a substantial number of cases and
appeals from quasi-judicial agencies.
instances even if questions of fact are directly involved and have to be
resolved by the appellate court.[18] Also, the very provision cited by Under the present Rule 45, appeals may be brought through a
petitioner specifies that the appellate jurisdiction of this Court petition for review on certiorari but only from judgments and final orders
contemplated therein is to be exercised over "final judgements and orders of the courts enumerated in Section 1 thereof. Appeals from judgments
of lower courts," that is, the courts composing the integrated judicial and final orders of quasi-judicial agencies[20] are now required to be
system. It does not include the quasi-judicial bodies or agencies, hence brought to the Court of Appeals on a verified petition for review, under
whenever the legislature intends that the decisions or resolutions of the the requirements and conditions in Rule 43 which was precisely
quasi-judicial agency shall be reviewable by the Supreme Court or the formulated and adopted to provide for a uniform rule of appellate
Court of Appeals, a specific provision to that effect is included in the law procedure for quasi-judicial agencies .[21]
creating that quasi-judicial agency and, for that matter, any special
It is suggested, however, that the provisions of Rule 43 should apply
statutory court. No such provision on appellate procedure is required for
only to "ordinary" quasi-judicial agencies, but not to the Office of the
the regular courts of the integrated judicial system because they are what
Ombudsman which is a "high constitutional body." We see no reason for

5
this distinction for, if hierarchical rank should be a criterion, that raised, although it could even be raised any time likewise by reason of the
proposition thereby disregards the fact that Rule 43 even includes the jurisdictional issue confronting the Court. Finally, the resolution of the
Office of the President and the Civil Service Commission, although the constitutional issue here is obviously necessary for the resolution of the
latter is even an independent constitutional commission, unlike the Office present case. [22]
of the Ombudsman which is a constitutionally-mandated but statutorily
It is, however, suggested that this case could also be decided on other
created body.
grounds, short of passing upon; the constitutional question. We
Regarding the misgiving that the review of the decision of the Office appreciate the ratiocination of private respondent but regret that we
of the Ombudsman by the Court of Appeals would cover questions of law, must reject the same. That private respondent could be absolved of the
of fact or of both, we do not perceive that as an objectionable charge because the decision exonerating him is final and unappealable
feature. After all, factual controversies are usually involved in assumes that Section 7, Rule III of Administrative Order No. 07 is valid, but
administrative disciplinary actions, just like those coming from the Civil that is precisely one of the issues here. The prevailing rule that the Court
Service, Commission, and the Court of Appeals as a trier of fact is better should not interfere with the discretion of the Ombudsman in prosecuting
prepared than this Court to resolve the same. On the other hand, we or dismissing a complaint is not applicable in this administrative case, as
cannot have this situation covered by Rule 45 since it now applies only to earlier explained. That two decisions rendered by this Court supposedly
appeals from the regular courts.Neither can we place it under Rule 65 imply the validity of the aforementioned Section 7 of Rule III is precisely
since the review therein is limited to jurisdictional questions.* under review here because of some statements therein somewhat at odds
with settled rules and the decisions of this Court on the same issues, hence
The submission that because this Court has taken cognizance of cases
to invoke the same would be to beg the question.
involving Section 27 of Republic Act No. 6770, that fact may be viewed as
"acquiescence" or "acceptance" by it of the appellate jurisdiction V
contemplated in said Section 27, is unfortunately too tenuous. The
Taking all the foregoing circumstances in their true legal roles and
jurisdiction of a court is not of acquiescence as a matter of fact but an
effects, therefore, Section 27 of Republic Act No. 6770 cannot validly
issue of conferment as a matter of law. Besides, we have already discussed
authorize an appeal to this Court from decisions of the Office of the
the cases referred to, including the inaccuracies of some statements
Ombudsman in administrative disciplinary cases. It consequently violates
therein, and we have pointed out the instances when Rule 45 is involved,
the proscription in Section 30, Article VI of the Constitution against a law
hence covered by Section 27 of Republic Act No. 6770 now under
which increases the Appellate jurisdiction of this Court. No countervailing
discussion, and when that provision would not apply if it is a judicial
argument has been cogently presented to justify such disregard of the
review under Rule 65.
constitutional prohibition which, as correctly explained in First Leparto
Private respondent invokes the rule that courts generally avoid Ceramics, Inc. vs.The Court of Appeals, el al. [23] was intended to give this
having to decide a constitutional question, especially when the case can Court a measure of control over cases placed under its appellate
be decided on other grounds. As a general proposition that is Jurisdiction. Otherwise, the indiscriminate enactment of legislation
correct. Here, however, there is an actual case susceptible of judicial enlarging its appellate jurisdiction would unnecessarily burden the
determination. Also, the constitutional question, at the instance of this Court [24]
Court, was raised by the proper parties, although there was even no need
We perforce have to likewise reject the supposed inconsistency of
for that because the Court can rule on the matter sua sponte when its
the ruling in First Lepanto Ceramics and some statements in Yabut and
appellate jurisdiction is involved. The constitutional question was timely
Alba, not only because of the difference in the factual settings, but also
6
because those isolated cryptic statements in Yabut and Alba should best they should be appeals on certiorari.[27] There is no showing that even up
be clarified in the adjudication on the merits of this case. By way of to its enactment, Republic Act No. 6770 was ever referred to this Court for
anticipation, that will have to be undertaken by the proper court of its advice and consent .[28]
competent jurisdiction.
VI
Furthermore in addition to our preceding discussion on whether
As a consequence of our ratiocination that Section 27 of Republic Act
Section 27 of Republic Act No. 6770 expanded the jurisdiction of this Court
No. 6770 should be struck down as unconstitutional, and in line with the
without its advice and consent, private respondent's position paper
regulatory philosophy adopted in appeals from quasi-judicial agencies in
correctly yields the legislative background of Republic Act No. 6770. On
the 1997 Revised Rules of Civil Procedure, appeals from decisions of the
September 26, 1989, the Conference Committee Report on S.B. No. 453
Office of the Ombudsman in administrative disciplinary cases should be
and H.B. No. 13646, setting forth the new version of what would later be
taken to the Court of Appeals under the provisions of Rule 43.
Republic Act No. 6770, was approved on second reading by the House of
Representatives.[25] The Senate was informed of the approval of the final There is an intimation in the pleadings, however, that said Section 27
version of the Act on October 2, 1989 [26] and the same was thereafter refers to appellate jurisdiction which, being substantive in nature, cannot
enacted into law by President Aquino on November 17, 1989. be disregarded by this Court under its rule-making power, especially if it
results in a diminution, increase or modification of substantive
Submitted with said position paper is an excerpt showing that the
rights. Obviously, however, where the law is procedural in essence and
Senate, in the deliberations on the procedure for appeal from the Office
purpose, the foregoing consideration would not pose a proscriptive issue
of the Ombudsman to this Court, was aware of the provisions of Section
against the exercise of the rule-making power of this Court. This brings to
30, Article III of the Constitution. It also reveals that Senator Edgardo
fore the question of whether Section 27 of Republic Act No. 6770 is
Angara, as a co-author and the principal sponsor of S.B. No. 543 admitted
substantive or procedural.
that the said provision will expand this Court's jurisdiction, and that the
Committee on Justice and Human Rights had not consulted this Court on It will be noted that no definitive line can be drawn between those
the matter, thus: rules or statutes which are procedural, hence within the scope of this
Court's rule-making power, and those which are substantive. In fact, a
INTERPELLATION OF SENATOR SHAHANI particular rule may be procedural in one context and substantive in
another.[29] It is admitted that what is procedural and what is substantive
xxx is frequently a question of great difficulty.[30] It is not, however, an
insurmountable problem if a rational and pragmatic approach is taken
Thereafter, with reference to Section 22(4) which provides that the
within the context of our own procedural and jurisdictional system.
decisions of the Office of the Ombudsman may be appealed to the
Supreme Court, in reply to Senator Shahani's query whether the Supreme In determining whether a rule prescribed by the Supreme Court, for
Court would agree to such provision in the light of Section 30, Article VI of the practice and procedure of the lower courts, abridges, enlarges, or
the Constitution which requires its advice and concurrence in laws modifies any substantive right, the test is whether the rule really regulates
increasing its appellate jurisdiction, Senator Angara informed that the procedure, that is, the judicial process for enforcing rights and duties
Committee has not yet consulted the Supreme Court regarding the recognized by substantive law and for justly administering remedy and
matter. He agreed that the provision will expand the Supreme Court's redress for a disregard or infraction of them.[31] If the rule takes away a
jurisdiction by allowing appeals through petitions for review, adding that vested right, it is not procedural. If the rule creates a right such as the right

7
to appeal, it may be classified as a substantive matter; but if it operates as Office of the Ombudsman to the Supreme Court, are hereby declared
a means o implementing an existing right then the rule deals merely with INVALID and of no further force and effect.
procedure.[32]
The instant petition is hereby referred and transferred to the Court
In the situation under consideration, a transfer by the Supreme Court, of Appeals for final disposition, with said petition to be considered by the
in the exercise of its rule-making power, of pending cases involving a Court of Appeals pro hac vice as a petition for review under Rule 43,
review of decisions of the Office of the Ombudsman in administrative without prejudice to its requiring the parties to submit such amended or
disciplinary actions to the Court of Appeals which shall now be vested with supplemental pleadings and additional documents or records as it may
exclusive appellate jurisdiction thereover, relates to procedure deem necessary and proper.
only.[33] This is so because it is not the right to appeal of an aggrieved party
SO ORDERED.
which is affected by the law. That right has been preserved. Only the
procedure by which the appeal is to be made or decided has been
changed. The rationale for this is that litigant has a vested right in a
particular remedy, which may be changed by substitution without
impairing vested rights, hence he can have none in rules of procedure
which relate to the remedy.[34]
Furthermore, it cannot be said that transfer of appellate jurisdiction
to the Court of Appeals in this case is an act of creating a new right of
appeal because such power of the Supreme Court to transfer appeals to
subordinate appellate courts is purely a procedural and not a substantive
power. Neither can we consider such transfer as impairing a vested right
because the parties have still a remedy and still a competent tribunal to
administer that remedy.[35]
Thus, it has been generally held that rules or statutes involving a
transfer of cases from one court to another, are procedural and remedial
merely and that, as such, they are applicable to actions pending at the
time the statute went into effect[36] or, in the case at bar, when its
invalidity was declared. Accordingly, even from the standpoint of
jurisdiction ex hypothesi the validity of the transfer of appeals in said cases
to the Court of Appeals can be sustained.
WHEREFORE, Section 27 of Republic Act No. 6770 (Ombudsman Act
of 1989), together with Section 7, Rule III of Administrative Order No. 07
(Rules of Procedure of the Office of the Ombudsman), and any other
provision of law or issuance implementing the aforesaid Act and insofar
as they provide for appeals in administrative disciplinary cases from the

8
determination of probable cause and for examination of witnesses. The
G.R. No. 149453. April 1, 2003] Court also held therein that although Section 8, Rule 117 of the Revised
Rules of Criminal Procedure could be given retroactive effect, there is
PEOPLE OF THE PHILIPPINES, THE SECRETARY OF JUSTICE, DIRECTOR still a need to determine whether the requirements for its application
GENERAL OF THE PHILIPPINE NATIONAL POLICE, CHIEF STATE are attendant. The trial court was thus directed to resolve the following:
PROSECUTOR JOVENCITO ZUO, STATE PROSECUTORS PETER L. ONG and
RUBEN A. ZACARIAS; 2ND ASSISTANT CITY PROSECUTOR CONRADO M. ... (1) whether the provisional dismissal of the cases had the express
JAMOLIN and CITY PROSECUTOR OF QUEZON CITY CLARO consent of the accused; (2) whether it was ordered by the court after
ARELLANO, petitioners, vs. PANFILO M. LACSON, respondent. notice to the offended party; (3) whether the 2-year period to revive it
has already lapsed; (4) whether there is any justification for the filing of
RESOLUTION the cases beyond the 2-year period; (5) whether notices to the offended
parties were given before the cases of respondent Lacson were
CALLEJO, SR., J.: dismissed by then Judge Agnir; (6) whether there were affidavits of
desistance executed by the relatives of the three (3) other victims; (7)
Before the Court is the petitioners Motion for Reconsideration1 of the whether the multiple murder cases against respondent Lacson are being
Resolution2dated May 28, 2002, remanding this case to the Regional revived within or beyond the 2-year bar.
Trial Court (RTC) of Quezon City, Branch 81, for the determination of
several factual issues relative to the application of Section 8 of Rule 117 The Court further held that the reckoning date of the two-year bar had
of the Revised Rules of Criminal Procedure on the dismissal of Criminal to be first determined whether it shall be from the date of the order of
Cases Nos. Q-99-81679 to Q-99-81689 filed against the respondent and then Judge Agnir, Jr. dismissing the cases, or from the dates of receipt
his co-accused with the said court. In the aforesaid criminal cases, the thereof by the various offended parties, or from the date of effectivity of
respondent and his co-accused were charged with multiple murder for the new rule. According to the Court, if the cases were revived only after
the shooting and killing of eleven male persons identified as Manuel the two-year bar, the State must be given the opportunity to justify its
Montero, a former Corporal of the Philippine Army, Rolando Siplon, failure to comply with the said time-bar. It emphasized that the new rule
Sherwin Abalora, who was 16 years old, Ray Abalora, who was 19 years fixes a time-bar to penalize the State for its inexcusable delay in
old, Joel Amora, Jevy Redillas, Meleubren Sorronda, who was 14 years prosecuting cases already filed in court. However, the State is not
old,3 Pacifico Montero, Jr., of the 44th Infantry Batallion of the Philippine precluded from presenting compelling reasons to justify the revival of
Army, Welbor Elcamel, SPO1 Carlito Alap-ap of the Zamboanga PNP, and cases beyond the two-year bar.
Alex Neri, former Corporal of the 44th Infantry Batallion of the Philippine
Army, bandied as members of the Kuratong Baleleng Gang. The In support of their Motion for Reconsideration, the petitioners contend
respondent opposed petitioners motion for that (a) Section 8, Rule 117 of the Revised Rules of Criminal Procedure is
reconsideration.4cräläwvirtualibräry not applicable to Criminal Cases Nos. Q-99-81679 to Q-99-81689; and (b)
the time-bar in said rule should not be applied retroactively.
The Court ruled in the Resolution sought to be reconsidered that the
provisional dismissal of Criminal Cases Nos. Q-99-81679 to Q-99-81689 The Court shall resolve the issues seriatim.
were with the express consent of the respondent as he himself moved
for said provisional dismissal when he filed his motion for judicial
1
I. SECTION 8, RULE 117 OF THE REVISED RULES OF CRIMINAL cites the resolution of Judge Agnir, Jr. stating that the respondent and
PROCEDURE IS NOT APPLICABLE TO CRIMINAL CASES NOS. Q-99-81679 the other accused filed separate but identical motions for the dismissal
TO Q-99-81689. of the criminal cases should the trial court find no probable cause for the
issuance of warrants of arrest against them.
The petitioners aver that Section 8, Rule 117 of the Revised Rules of
Criminal Procedure is not applicable to Criminal Cases Nos. Q-99-81679 The respondent further asserts that the heirs of the victims, through the
to Q-99-81689 because the essential requirements for its application public and private prosecutors, were duly notified of said motion and the
were not present when Judge Agnir, Jr., issued his resolution of March hearing thereof. He contends that it was sufficient that the public
29, 1999. Disagreeing with the ruling of the Court, the petitioners prosecutor was present during the March 22, 1999 hearing on the
maintain that the respondent did not give his express consent to the motion for judicial determination of the existence of probable cause
dismissal by Judge Agnir, Jr., of Criminal Cases Nos. Q-99-81679 to Q-99- because criminal actions are always prosecuted in the name of the
81689. The respondent allegedly admitted in his pleadings filed with the People, and the private complainants merely prosecute the civil aspect
Court of Appeals and during the hearing thereat that he did not file any thereof.
motion to dismiss said cases, or even agree to a provisional dismissal
thereof. Moreover, the heirs of the victims were allegedly not given prior The Court has reviewed the records and has found the contention of the
notices of the dismissal of the said cases by Judge Agnir, Jr. According to petitioners meritorious.
the petitioners, the respondents express consent to the provisional
dismissal of the cases and the notice to all the heirs of the victims of the Section 8, Rule 117 of the Revised Rules of Criminal Procedure reads:
respondents motion and the hearing thereon are conditions sine qua
non to the application of the time-bar in the second paragraph of the Sec. 8. Provisional dismissal. A case shall not be provisionally dismissed
new rule. except with the express consent of the accused and with notice to the
offended party.
The petitioners further submit that it is not necessary that the case be
remanded to the RTC to determine whether private complainants were The provisional dismissal of offenses punishable by imprisonment not
notified of the March 22, 1999 hearing on the respondents motion for exceeding six (6) years or a fine of any amount, or both, shall become
judicial determination of the existence of probable cause. The records permanent one (1) year after issuance of the order without the case
allegedly indicate clearly that only the handling city prosecutor was having been revived. With respect to offenses punishable by
furnished a copy of the notice of hearing on said motion. There is imprisonment of more than six (6) years, their provisional dismissal shall
allegedly no evidence that private prosecutor Atty. Godwin Valdez was become permanent two (2) years after issuance of the order without the
properly retained and authorized by all the private complainants to case having been revived.
represent them at said hearing. It is their contention that Atty. Valdez
merely identified the purported affidavits of desistance and that he did Having invoked said rule before the petitioners-panel of prosecutors and
not confirm the truth of the allegations therein. before the Court of Appeals, the respondent is burdened to establish the
essential requisites of the first paragraph thereof, namely:
The respondent, on the other hand, insists that, as found by the Court in
its Resolution and Judge Agnir, Jr. in his resolution, the respondent 1. the prosecution with the express conformity of the accused or the
himself moved for the provisional dismissal of the criminal cases. He accused moves for a provisional (sin perjuicio) dismissal of the case; or
2
both the prosecution and the accused move for a provisional dismissal of of the case9 or his failure to object to a provisional dismissal10 does not
the case; amount to express consent.

2. the offended party is notified of the motion for a provisional dismissal A motion of the accused for a provisional dismissal of a case is an express
of the case; consent to such provisional dismissal.11 If a criminal case is provisionally
dismissed with the express consent of the accused, the case may be
3. the court issues an order granting the motion and dismissing the case revived only within the periods provided in the new rule. On the other
provisionally; hand, if a criminal case is provisionally dismissed without the express
consent of the accused or over his objection, the new rule would not
4. the public prosecutor is served with a copy of the order of provisional apply. The case may be revived or refiled even beyond the prescribed
dismissal of the case. periods subject to the right of the accused to oppose the same on the
ground of double jeopardy12 or that such revival or refiling is barred by
The foregoing requirements are conditions sine qua non to the the statute of limitations.13cräläwvirtualibräry
application of the time-bar in the second paragraph of the new rule.
The raison d etre for the requirement of the express consent of the The case may be revived by the State within the time-bar either by the
accused to a provisional dismissal of a criminal case is to bar him from refiling of the Information or by the filing of a new Information for the
subsequently asserting that the revival of the criminal case will place him same offense or an offense necessarily included therein. There would be
in double jeopardy for the same offense or for an offense necessarily no need of a new preliminary investigation.14 However, in a case wherein
included therein.5cräläwvirtualibräry after the provisional dismissal of a criminal case, the original witnesses of
the prosecution or some of them may have recanted their testimonies or
Although the second paragraph of the new rule states that the order of may have died or may no longer be available and new witnesses for the
dismissal shall become permanent one year after the issuance thereof State have emerged, a new preliminary investigation15 must be
without the case having been revived, the provision should be construed conducted before an Information is refiled or a new Information is filed.
to mean that the order of dismissal shall become permanent one year A new preliminary investigation is also required if aside from the original
after service of the order of dismissal on the public prosecutor who has accused, other persons are charged under a new criminal complaint for
control of the prosecution6 without the criminal case having been the same offense or necessarily included therein; or if under a new
revived. The public prosecutor cannot be expected to comply with the criminal complaint, the original charge has been upgraded; or if under a
timeline unless he is served with a copy of the order of dismissal. new criminal complaint, the criminal liability of the accused is upgraded
from that as an accessory to that as a principal. The accused must be
Express consent to a provisional dismissal is given either viva voce or in accorded the right to submit counter-affidavits and evidence. After all,
writing. It is a positive, direct, unequivocal consent requiring no the fiscal is not called by the Rules of Court to wait in ambush; the role of
inference or implication to supply its meaning.7 Where the accused a fiscal is not mainly to prosecute but essentially to do justice to every
writes on the motion of a prosecutor for a provisional dismissal of the man and to assist the court in dispensing that
case No objection or With my conformity, the writing amounts to express justice.16cräläwvirtualibräry
consent of the accused to a provisional dismissal of the case.8 The mere
inaction or silence of the accused to a motion for a provisional dismissal In this case, the respondent has failed to prove that the first and second
requisites of the first paragraph of the new rule were present when
3
Judge Agnir, Jr. dismissed Criminal Cases Nos. Q-99-81679 to Q-99- the contrary, the reliefs prayed for therein by the petitioner are: (1) a
81689. Irrefragably, the prosecution did not file any motion for the judicial determination of probable cause pursuant to Section 2, Article III
provisional dismissal of the said criminal cases. For his part, the of the Constitution; and (2) that warrants for the arrest of the accused be
respondent merely filed a motion for judicial determination of probable withheld, or if issued, recalled in the meantime until the resolution of the
cause and for examination of prosecution witnesses alleging that under motion. It cannot be said, therefore, that the dismissal of the case was
Article III, Section 2 of the Constitution and the decision of this Court made with the consent of the petitioner. A copy of the aforesaid motion
in Allado v. Diokno,17among other cases, there was a need for the trial is hereto attached and made integral part hereof as Annex
court to conduct a personal determination of probable cause for the A.19cräläwvirtualibräry
issuance of a warrant of arrest against respondent and to have the
prosecutions witnesses summoned before the court for its examination. During the hearing in the Court of Appeals on July 31, 2001, the
The respondent contended therein that until after the trial court shall respondent, through counsel, categorically, unequivocally, and definitely
have personally determined the presence of probable cause, no warrant declared that he did not file any motion to dismiss the criminal cases nor
of arrest should be issued against the respondent and if one had already did he agree to a provisional dismissal thereof, thus:
been issued, the warrant should be recalled by the trial court. He then
prayed therein that: JUSTICE SALONGA:

1) a judicial determination of probable cause pursuant to Section 2, And it is your stand that the dismissal made by the Court was
Article III of the Constitution be conducted by this Honorable Court, and provisional in nature?
for this purpose, an order be issued directing the prosecution to present
the private complainants and their witnesses at a hearing scheduled ATTY. FORTUN:
therefor; and
It was in (sic) that the accused did not ask for it. What they
2) warrants for the arrest of the accused-movants be withheld, or, if wanted at the onset was simply a judicial determination of
issued, recalled in the meantime until the resolution of this incident. probable cause for warrants of arrest issued. Then Judge Agnir,
upon the presentation by the parties of their witnesses,
Other equitable reliefs are also prayed for.18cräläwvirtualibräry particularly those who had withdrawn their affidavits, made one
further conclusion that not only was this case lacking in probable
The respondent did not pray for the dismissal, provisional or otherwise, cause for purposes of the issuance of an arrest warrant but also it
of Criminal Cases Nos. Q-99-81679 to Q-99-81689. Neither did he ever did not justify proceeding to trial.
agree, impliedly or expressly, to a mere provisional dismissal of the
cases. In fact, in his reply filed with the Court of Appeals, respondent JUSTICE SALONGA:
emphasized that:
And it is expressly provided under Section 8 that a case shall not be
... An examination of the Motion for Judicial Determination of Probable provisionally dismissed except when it is with the express
Cause and for Examination of Prosecution Witnesses filed by the conformity of the accused.
petitioner and his other co-accused in the said criminal cases would
show that the petitioner did not pray for the dismissal of the case. On ATTY. FORTUN:
4
That is correct, Your Honor. ATTY. FORTUN:

JUSTICE SALONGA: That is correct, Your Honor. And there was nothing of that sort
which the good Judge Agnir, who is most knowledgeable in
And with notice to the offended party. criminal law, had done in respect of provisional dismissal or the
matter of Mr. Lacson agreeing to the provisional dismissal of the
ATTY. FORTUN: case.

That is correct, Your Honor. JUSTICE GUERRERO:

JUSTICE SALONGA: Now, you filed a motion, the other accused then filed a motion for
a judicial determination of probable cause?
Was there an express conformity on the part of the accused?
ATTY. FORTUN:
ATTY. FORTUN:
Yes, Your Honor.
There was none, Your Honor. We were not asked to sign any
order, or any statement, which would normally be required by JUSTICE GUERRERO:
the Court on pre-trial or on other matters, including other
provisional dismissal. My very limited practice in criminal courts, Did you make any alternative prayer in your motion that if there is
Your Honor, had taught me that a judge must be very careful on no probable cause what should the Court do?
this matter of provisional dismissal. In fact they ask the accused to
come forward, and the judge himself or herself explains the ATTY. FORTUN:
implications of a provisional dismissal. Pumapayag ka ba dito.
Puwede bang pumirma ka? That the arrest warrants only be withheld. That was the only
prayer that we asked. In fact, I have a copy of that particular
JUSTICE ROSARIO: motion, and if I may read my prayer before the Court, it said:
Wherefore, it is respectfully prayed that (1) a judicial
You were present during the proceedings? determination of probable cause pursuant to Section 2, Article III
of the Constitution be conducted, and for this purpose, an order be
ATTY. FORTUN: issued directing the prosecution to present the private
complainants and their witnesses at the scheduled hearing for that
Yes, Your Honor. purpose; and (2) the warrants for the arrest of the accused be
withheld, or, if issued, recalled in the meantime until resolution of
JUSTICE ROSARIO: this incident.

You represented the petitioner in this case? JUSTICE GUERRERO:


5
There is no general prayer for any further relief? JUSTICE GUERRERO:

ATTY. FORTUN: Continue.20

There is but it simply says other equitable reliefs are prayed for. In his memorandum in lieu of the oral argument filed with the Court of
Appeals, the respondent declared in no uncertain terms that:
JUSTICE GUERRERO:
Soon thereafter, the SC in early 1999 rendered a decision declaring the
Dont you surmise Judge Agnir, now a member of this Court, Sandiganbayan without jurisdiction over the cases. The records were
precisely addressed your prayer for just and equitable relief to remanded to the QC RTC: Upon raffle, the case was assigned to Branch
dismiss the case because what would be the net effect of a 81. Petitioner and the others promptly filed a motion for judicial
situation where there is no warrant of arrest being issued without determination of probable cause (Annex B). He asked that warrants for
dismissing the case? his arrest not be issued. He did not move for the dismissal of the
Informations, contrary to respondent OSGs claim.21cräläwvirtualibräry
ATTY. FORTUN:
The respondents admissions made in the course of the proceedings in
Yes, Your Honor. I will not second say (sic) yes the Good Justice, the Court of Appeals are binding and conclusive on him. The respondent
but what is plain is we did not agree to the provisional dismissal, is barred from repudiating his admissions absent evidence of palpable
neither were we asked to sign any assent to the provisional mistake in making such admissions.22cräläwvirtualibräry
dismissal.
To apply the new rule in Criminal Cases Nos. Q-99-81679 to Q-99-81689
JUSTICE GUERRERO: would be to add to or make exceptions from the new rule which are not
expressly or impliedly included therein. This the Court cannot and should
If you did not agree to the provisional dismissal did you not file any not do.23cräläwvirtualibräry
motion for reconsideration of the order of Judge Agnir that the
case should be dismissed? The Court also agrees with the petitioners contention that no notice of
any motion for the provisional dismissal of Criminal Cases Nos. Q-99-
ATTY. FORTUN: 81679 to Q-99-81689 or of the hearing thereon was served on the heirs
of the victims at least three days before said hearing as mandated by
I did not, Your Honor, because I knew fully well at that time that Rule 15, Section 4 of the Rules of Court. It must be borne in mind that in
my client had already been arraigned, and the arraignment was crimes involving private interests, the new rule requires that the
valid as far as I was concerned. So, the dismissal, Your Honor, by offended party or parties or the heirs of the victims must be given
Judge Agnir operated to benefit me, and therefore I did not take adequate a priorinotice of any motion for the provisional dismissal of the
any further step in addition to rocking the boat or clarifying the criminal case. Such notice may be served on the offended party or the
matter further because it probably could prejudice the interest of heirs of the victim through the private prosecutor, if there is one, or
my client. through the public prosecutor who in turn must relay the notice to the
offended party or the heirs of the victim to enable them to confer with
6
him before the hearing or appear in court during the hearing. The proof Siplon)26executed their respective affidavits of desistance.27 There was
of such service must be shown during the hearing on the motion, no appearance for the heirs of Alex Neri, Pacifico Montero, Jr., and
otherwise, the requirement of the new rule will become illusory. Such Meleubren Sorronda. There is no proof on record that all the heirs of the
notice will enable the offended party or the heirs of the victim the victims were served with copies of the resolution of Judge Agnir, Jr.
opportunity to seasonably and effectively comment on or object to the dismissing the said cases. In fine, there never was any attempt on the
motion on valid grounds, including: (a) the collusion between the part of the trial court, the public prosecutor and/or the private
prosecution and the accused for the provisional dismissal of a criminal prosecutor to notify all the heirs of the victims of the respondents
case thereby depriving the State of its right to due process; (b) attempts motion and the hearing thereon and of the resolution of Judge Agnir, Jr.
to make witnesses unavailable; or (c) the provisional dismissal of the dismissing said cases. The said heirs were thus deprived of their right to
case with the consequent release of the accused from detention would be heard on the respondents motion and to protect their interests either
enable him to threaten and kill the offended party or the other in the trial court or in the appellate court.
prosecution witnesses or flee from Philippine jurisdiction, provide
opportunity for the destruction or loss of the prosecutions physical and Since the conditions sine qua non for the application of the new rule
other evidence and prejudice the rights of the offended party to recover were not present when Judge Agnir, Jr. issued his resolution, the State is
on the civil liability of the accused by his concealment or furtive not barred by the time limit set forth in the second paragraph of Section
disposition of his property or the consequent lifting of the writ of 8 of Rule 117 of the Revised Rules of Criminal Procedure. The State can
preliminary attachment against his property. thus revive or refile Criminal Cases Nos. Q-99-81679 to Q-99-81689 or
file new Informations for multiple murder against the respondent.
In the case at bar, even if the respondents motion for a determination of
probable cause and examination of witnesses may be considered for the II. THE TIME-BAR IN SECTION 8, RULE 117 OF THE REVISED RULES OF
nonce as his motion for a provisional dismissal of Criminal Cases Nos. Q- CRIMINAL PROCEDURE SHOULD NOT BE APPLIED RETROACTIVELY.
99-81679 to Q-99-81689, however, the heirs of the victims were not
notified thereof prior to the hearing on said motion on March 22, 1999. The petitioners contend that even on the assumption that the
It must be stressed that the respondent filed his motion only on March respondent expressly consented to a provisional dismissal of Criminal
17, 1999 and set it for hearing on March 22, 1999 or barely five days Cases Nos. Q-99-81679 to Q-99-81689 and all the heirs of the victims
from the filing thereof. Although the public prosecutor was served with a were notified of the respondents motion before the hearing thereon and
copy of the motion, the records do not show that notices thereof were were served with copies of the resolution of Judge Agnir, Jr. dismissing
separately given to the heirs of the victims or that subpoenae were the eleven cases, the two-year bar in Section 8 of Rule 117 of the Revised
issued to and received by them, including those who executed their Rules of Criminal Procedure should be applied prospectively and not
affidavits of desistance who were residents of Dipolog City or Pian, retroactively against the State. To apply the time limit retroactively to
Zamboanga del Norte or Palompon, Leyte.24 There is as well no proof in the criminal cases against the respondent and his co-accused would
the records that the public prosecutor notified the heirs of the victims of violate the right of the People to due process, and unduly impair, reduce,
said motion or of the hearing thereof on March 22, 1999. Although Atty. and diminish the States substantive right to prosecute the accused for
Valdez entered his appearance as private prosecutor,25 he did so only for multiple murder. They posit that under Article 90 of the Revised Penal
some but not all the close kins of the victims, namely, Nenita Alap-ap, Code, the State had twenty years within which to file the criminal
Imelda Montero, Margarita Redillas, Rufino Siplon, Carmelita Elcamel, complaints against the accused. However, under the new rule, the State
Myrna Abalora, and Leonora Amora who (except for Rufino only had two years from notice of the public prosecutor of the order of
7
dismissal of Criminal Cases Nos. Q-99-81679 to Q-99-81689 within which under said rule do not modify or negate the operation of the prescriptive
to revive the said cases. When the new rule took effect on December 1, period under Article 90 of the Revised Penal Code. Prescription under
2000, the State only had one year and three months within which to the Revised Penal Code simply becomes irrelevant upon the application
revive the cases or refile the Informations. The period for the State to of Section 8, Rule 117 because a complaint or information has already
charge respondent for multiple murder under Article 90 of the Revised been filed against the accused, which filing tolls the running of the
Penal Code was considerably and arbitrarily reduced. They submit that in prescriptive period under Article 90.32cräläwvirtualibräry
case of conflict between the Revised Penal Code and the new rule, the
former should prevail. They also insist that the State had consistently The Court agrees with the respondent that the new rule is not a statute
relied on the prescriptive periods under Article 90 of the Revised Penal of limitations. Statutes of limitations are construed as acts of grace, and
Code. It was not accorded a fair warning that it would forever be barred a surrender by the sovereign of its right to prosecute or of its right to
beyond the two-year period by a retroactive application of the new prosecute at its discretion. Such statutes are considered as equivalent to
rule.28Petitioners thus pray to the Court to set aside its Resolution of acts of amnesty founded on the liberal theory that prosecutions should
May 28, 2002. not be allowed to ferment endlessly in the files of the government to
explode only after witnesses and proofs necessary for the protection of
For his part, the respondent asserts that the new rule under Section 8 of the accused have by sheer lapse of time passed beyond availability.33The
Rule 117 of the Revised Rules of Criminal Procedure may be applied periods fixed under such statutes are jurisdictional and are essential
retroactively since there is no substantive right of the State that may be elements of the offenses covered.34cräläwvirtualibräry
impaired by its application to the criminal cases in question since [t]he
States witnesses were ready, willing and able to provide their testimony On the other hand, the time-bar under Section 8 of Rule 117 is akin to a
but the prosecution failed to act on these cases until it became politically special procedural limitation qualifying the right of the State to
expedient in April 2001 for them to do so.29 According to the prosecute making the time-bar an essence of the given right or as an
respondent, penal laws, either procedural or substantive, may be inherent part thereof, so that the lapse of the time-bar operates to
retroactively applied so long as they favor the accused.30 He asserts that extinguish the right of the State to prosecute the
the two-year period commenced to run on March 29, 1999 and lapsed accused.35cräläwvirtualibräry
two years thereafter was more than reasonable opportunity for the
State to fairly indict him.31 In any event, the State is given the right under The time-bar under the new rule does not reduce the periods under
the Courts assailed Resolution to justify the filing of the Information in Article 90 of the Revised Penal Code, a substantive law.36 It is but a
Criminal Cases Nos. 01-101102 to 01-101112 beyond the time-bar under limitation of the right of the State to revive a criminal case against the
the new rule. accused after the Information had been filed but subsequently
provisionally dismissed with the express consent of the accused. Upon
The respondent insists that Section 8 of Rule 117 of the Revised Rules of the lapse of the timeline under the new rule, the State is presumed,
Criminal Procedure does not broaden the substantive right of double albeit disputably, to have abandoned or waived its right to revive the
jeopardy to the prejudice of the State because the prohibition against case and prosecute the accused. The dismissal becomes ipso
the revival of the cases within the one-year or two-year periods provided facto permanent. He can no longer be charged anew for the same crime
therein is a legal concept distinct from the prohibition against the revival or another crime necessarily included therein.37 He is spared from the
of a provisionally dismissed case within the periods stated in Section 8 of anguish and anxiety as well as the expenses in any new
Rule 117. Moreover, he claims that the effects of a provisional dismissal indictments.38 The State may revive a criminal case beyond the one-year
8
or two-year periods provided that there is a justifiable necessity for the from, procedural laws. It has been held that a person has no vested right
delay.39 By the same token, if a criminal case is dismissed on motion of in any particular remedy, and a litigant cannot insist on the application to
the accused because the trial is not concluded within the period the trial of his case, whether civil or criminal, of any other than the
therefor, the prescriptive periods under the Revised Penal Code are not existing rules of procedure.
thereby diminished.40But whether or not the prosecution of the accused
is barred by the statute of limitations or by the lapse of the time-line It further ruled therein that a procedural law may not be applied
under the new rule, the effect is basically the same. As the State retroactively if to do so would work injustice or would involve intricate
Supreme Court of Illinois held: problems of due process or impair the independence of the Court. In
a per curiam decision in Cipriano v. City of Houma,43 the United States
This, in effect, enacts that when the specified period shall have arrived, Supreme Court ruled that where a decision of the court would produce
the right of the state to prosecute shall be gone, and the liability of the substantial inequitable results if applied retroactively, there is ample
offender to be punishedto be deprived of his libertyshall cease. Its terms basis for avoiding the injustice of hardship by a holding of
not only strike down the right of action which the state had acquired by nonretroactivity.44A construction of which a statute is fairly susceptible is
the offense, but also remove the flaw which the crime had created in the favored, which will avoid all objectionable, mischievous, indefensible,
offenders title to liberty. In this respect, its language goes deeper than wrongful, and injurious consequences.45This Court should not adopt an
statutes barring civil remedies usually do. They expressly take away only interpretation of a statute which produces absurd, unreasonable, unjust,
the remedy by suit, and that inferentially is held to abate the right which or oppressive results if such interpretation could be avoided.46 Time and
such remedy would enforce, and perfect the title which such remedy again, this Court has decreed that statutes are to be construed in light of
would invade; but this statute is aimed directly at the very right which the purposes to be achieved and the evils sought to be remedied. In
the state has against the offenderthe right to punish, as the only liability construing a statute, the reason for the enactment should be kept in
which the offender has incurred, and declares that this right and this mind and the statute should be construed with reference to the
liability are at an end. 41cräläwvirtualibräry intended scope and purpose.47cräläwvirtualibräry

The Court agrees with the respondent that procedural laws may be Remedial legislation, or procedural rule, or doctrine of the Court
applied retroactively. As applied to criminal law, procedural law provides designed to enhance and implement the constitutional rights of parties
or regulates the steps by which one who has committed a crime is to be in criminal proceedings may be applied retroactively or prospectively
punished. In Tan, Jr. v. Court of Appeals,42 this Court held that: depending upon several factors, such as the history of the new rule, its
purpose and effect, and whether the retrospective application will
Statutes regulating the procedure of the courts will be construed as further its operation, the particular conduct sought to be remedied and
applicable to actions pending and undetermined at the time of their the effect thereon in the administration of justice and of criminal laws in
passage. Procedural laws are retroactive in that sense and to that extent. particular.48 In a per curiam decision in Stefano v. Woods,49 the United
The fact that procedural statutes may somehow affect the litigants rights States Supreme Court catalogued the factors in determining whether a
may not preclude their retroactive application to pending actions. The new rule or doctrine enunciated by the High Court should be given
retroactive application of procedural laws is not violative of any right of a retrospective or prospective effect:
person who may feel that he is adversely affected. Nor is the retroactive
application of procedural statutes constitutionally objectionable. The (a) the purpose to be served by the new standards, (b) the extent of the
reason is that as a general rule no vested right may attach to, nor arise reliance by law enforcement authorities on the old standards, and (c) the
9
effect on the administration of justice of a retroactive application of the It is almost a universal experience that the accused welcomes delay as it
new standards. usually operates in his favor,52 especially if he greatly fears the
consequences of his trial and conviction. He is hesitant to disturb the
In this case, the Court agrees with the petitioners that the time-bar of hushed inaction by which dominant cases have been known to
two years under the new rule should not be applied retroactively against expire.53cräläwvirtualibräry
the State.
The inordinate delay in the revival or refiling of criminal cases may impair
In the new rule in question, as now construed by the Court, it has fixed a or reduce the capacity of the State to prove its case with the
time-bar of one year or two years for the revival of criminal cases disappearance or nonavailability of its witnesses. Physical evidence may
provisionally dismissed with the express consent of the accused and have been lost. Memories of witnesses may have grown dim or have
with a priori notice to the offended party. The time-bar may appear, on faded. Passage of time makes proof of any fact more difficult.54 The
first impression, unreasonable compared to the periods under Article 90 accused may become a fugitive from justice or commit another crime.
of the Revised Penal Code. However, in fixing the time-bar, the Court The longer the lapse of time from the dismissal of the case to the revival
balanced the societal interests and those of the accused for the orderly thereof, the more difficult it is to prove the crime.
and speedy disposition of criminal cases with minimum prejudice to the
State and the accused. It took into account the substantial rights of both On the other side of the fulcrum, a mere provisional dismissal of a
the State and of the accused to due process. The Court believed that the criminal case does not terminate a criminal case. The possibility that the
time limit is a reasonable period for the State to revive provisionally case may be revived at any time may disrupt or reduce, if not derail, the
dismissed cases with the consent of the accused and notice to the chances of the accused for employment, curtail his association, subject
offended parties. The time-bar fixed by the Court must be respected him to public obloquy and create anxiety in him and his family. He is
unless it is shown that the period is manifestly short or insufficient that unable to lead a normal life because of community suspicion and his own
the rule becomes a denial of justice.50 The petitioners failed to show a anxiety. He continues to suffer those penalties and disabilities
manifest shortness or insufficiency of the time-bar. incompatible with the presumption of innocence.55 He may also lose his
witnesses or their memories may fade with the passage of time. In the
The new rule was conceptualized by the Committee on the Revision of long run, it may diminish his capacity to defend himself and thus eschew
the Rules and approved by the Court en bancprimarily to enhance the the fairness of the entire criminal justice system.56cräläwvirtualibräry
administration of the criminal justice system and the rights to due
process of the State and the accused by eliminating the deleterious The time-bar under the new rule was fixed by the Court to excise the
practice of trial courts of provisionally dismissing criminal cases on malaise that plagued the administration of the criminal justice system for
motion of either the prosecution or the accused or jointly, either with no the benefit of the State and the accused; not for the accused only.
time-bar for the revival thereof or with a specific or definite period for
such revival by the public prosecutor. There were times when such The Court agrees with the petitioners that to apply the time-bar
criminal cases were no longer revived or refiled due to causes beyond retroactively so that the two-year period commenced to run on March
the control of the public prosecutor or because of the indolence, apathy 31, 1999 when the public prosecutor received his copy of the resolution
or the lackadaisical attitude of public prosecutors to the prejudice of the of Judge Agnir, Jr. dismissing the criminal cases is inconsistent with the
State and the accused despite the mandate to public prosecutors and intendment of the new rule. Instead of giving the State two years to
trial judges to expedite criminal proceedings.51cräläwvirtualibräry revive provisionally dismissed cases, the State had considerably less than
10
two years to do so. Thus, Judge Agnir, Jr. dismissed Criminal Cases Nos. new rule before it took effect. This would be a rank denial of justice. The
Q-99-81679 to Q-99-81689 on March 29, 1999. The new rule took effect State must be given a period of one year or two years as the case may be
on December 1, 2000. If the Court applied the new time-bar from December 1, 2000 to revive the criminal case without requiring the
retroactively, the State would have only one year and three months or State to make a valid justification for not reviving the case before the
until March 31, 2001 within which to revive these criminal cases. The effective date of the new rule. Although in criminal cases, the accused is
period is short of the two-year period fixed under the new rule. On the entitled to justice and fairness, so is the State. As the United States
other hand, if the time limit is applied prospectively, the State would Supreme Court said, per Mr. Justice Benjamin Cardozo, in Snyder v. State
have two years from December 1, 2000 or until December 1, 2002 within of Massachussetts,58 the concept of fairness must not be strained till it is
which to revive the cases. This is in consonance with the intendment of narrowed to a filament. We are to keep the balance true. In Dimatulac v.
the new rule in fixing the time-bar and thus prevent injustice to the State Villon,59 this Court emphasized that the judges action must not impair
and avoid absurd, unreasonable, oppressive, injurious, and wrongful the substantial rights of the accused nor the right of the State and
results in the administration of justice. offended party to due process of law. This Court further said:

The period from April 1, 1999 to November 30, 1999 should be excluded Indeed, for justice to prevail, the scales must balance; justice is not to be
in the computation of the two-year period because the rule prescribing it dispensed for the accused alone. The interests of society and the
was not yet in effect at the time and the State could not be expected to offended parties which have been wronged must be equally considered.
comply with the time-bar. It cannot even be argued that the State Verily, a verdict of conviction is not necessarily a denial of justice; and an
waived its right to revive the criminal cases against respondent or that it acquittal is not necessarily a triumph of justice, for, to the society
was negligent for not reviving them within the two-year period under offended and the party wronged, it could also mean injustice. Justice
the new rule. As the United States Supreme Court said, per Justice Felix then must be rendered even-handedly to both the accused, on one
Frankfurter, in Griffin v. People:57cräläwvirtualibräry hand, and the State and offended party, on the other.

We should not indulge in the fiction that the law now announced has In this case, the eleven Informations in Criminal Cases Nos. 01-101102 to
always been the law and, therefore, that those who did not avail 01-101112 were filed with the Regional Trial Court on June 6, 2001 well
themselves of it waived their rights . within the two-year period.

The two-year period fixed in the new rule is for the benefit of both the In sum, this Court finds the motion for reconsideration of petitioners
State and the accused. It should not be emasculated and reduced by an meritorious.
inordinate retroactive application of the time-bar therein provided
merely to benefit the accused. For to do so would cause an injustice of IN THE LIGHT OF ALL THE FOREGOING, the petitioners Motion for
hardship to the State and adversely affect the administration of justice in Reconsideration is GRANTED. The Resolution of this Court, dated May
general and of criminal laws in particular. 28, 2002, is SET ASIDE. The Decision of the Court of Appeals, dated
August 24, 2001, in CA-G.R. SP No. 65034 is REVERSED. The Petition of
To require the State to give a valid justification as a condition sine qua the Respondent with the Regional Trial Court in Civil Case No. 01-100933
non to the revival of a case provisionally dismissed with the express is DISMISSED for being moot and academic. The Regional Trial Court of
consent of the accused before the effective date of the new rule is to Quezon City, Branch 81, is DIRECTED to forthwith proceed with Criminal
assume that the State is obliged to comply with the time-bar under the Cases Nos. 01-101102 to 01-101112 with deliberate dispatch.
11
No pronouncements as to costs.

SO ORDERED.

12
examined were found to be positive for Methamphetamine
August 15, 2017 Hydrocloride (Shabu), a dangerous drug.

G.R. No. 226679 CONTRARY TO LAW.4

SALVADOR ESTIPONA, JR. y ASUELA, Petitioner, On June 15, 2016, Estipona filed a Motion to Allow the Accused to Enter
vs. into a Plea Bargaining Agreement,5 praying to withdraw his not guilty
HON. FRANK E. LOBRIGO, Presiding Judge of the Regional Trial Court, plea and, instead, to enter a plea of guilty for violation of Section 12,
Branch 3, Legazpi City, Albay, and PEOPLE OF THE Article II of R.A. No. 9165 (Possession of Equipment, Instrument,
PHILIPPINES, Respondents. Apparatus and Other Paraphernalia for Dangerous Drugs) with a penalty
of rehabilitation in view of his being a first-time offender and the
DECISION minimal quantity of the dangerous drug seized in his possession. He
argued that Section 23 of R.A. No. 9165 violates: (1) the intent of the law
PERALTA, J.: expressed in paragraph 3, Section 2 thereof; (2) the rule-making
authority of the Supreme Court under Section 5(5), Article VIII of the
Challenged in this petition for certiorari and prohibition1 is the 1987 Constitution; and (3) the principle of separation of powers among
constitutionality of Section 23 of Republic Act (R.A.)No. 9165, or the three equal branches of the government.
the "Comprehensive Dangerous Drugs Act of 2002, "2 which provides:
In its Comment or Opposition6 dated June 27, 2016, the prosecution
SEC 23. Plea-Bargaining Provision. - Any person charged under any moved for the denial of the motion for being contrary to Section 23 of
provision of this Act regardless of the imposable penalty shall not be R.A. No. 9165, which is said to be justified by the Congress' prerogative
allowed to avail of the provision on plea-bargaining.3 to choose which offense it would allow plea bargaining. Later, in a
Comment or Opposition7 dated June 29, 2016, it manifested that it "is
The facts are not in dispute. open to the Motion of the accused to enter into plea bargaining to give
life to the intent of the law as provided in paragraph 3, Section 2 of [R.A.
Petitioner Salvador A. Estipona, Jr. (Estipona) is the accused in Criminal No.] 9165, however, with the express mandate of Section 23 of [R.A. No.]
Case No. 13586 for violation of Section 11, Article II of R.A. No. 9165 prohibiting plea bargaining, [it] is left without any choice but to
9165 (Possession of Dangerous Drugs). The Information alleged: reject the proposal of the accused."

That on or about the 21st day of March, 2016, in the City of Legazpi, On July 12, 2016, respondent Judge Frank E. Lobrigo of the Regional Trial
Philippines, and within the jurisdiction of this Honorable Court, the Court (RTC), Branch 3, Legazpi City, Albay, issued an Order denying
above-named accused, not being lawfully authorized to possess or Estipona's motion. It was opined:
otherwise use any regulated drug and without the corresponding license
or prescription, did then and there, willfully, unlawfully and feloniously The accused posited in his motion that Sec. 23 of RA No. 9165, which
have, in his possession and under his control and custody, one (1) piece prohibits plea bargaining, encroaches on the exclusive constitutional
heat-sealed transparent plastic sachet marked as VOP 03/21/16- l G power of the Supreme Court to promulgate rules of procedure because
containing 0.084 [gram] of white crystalline substance, which when plea bargaining is a "rule of procedure." Indeed, plea bargaining forms
1
part of the Rules on Criminal Procedure, particularly under Rule 118, the Estipona filed a motion for reconsideration, but it was denied in an
rule on pre-trial conference. It is only the Rules of Court promulgated by Order9 dated July 26, 2016; hence, this petition raising the issues as
the Supreme Court pursuant to its constitutional rule-making power that follows:
breathes life to plea bargaining. It cannot be found in any statute.
I.
Without saying so, the accused implies that Sec. 23 of Republic Act No.
9165 is unconstitutional because it, in effect, suspends the operation of WHETHER SECTION 23 OF REPUBLIC ACT NO. 9165, WHICH PROHIBITS
Rule 118 of the Rules of Court insofar as it allows plea bargaining as part PLEA BARGAINING IN ALL VIOLATIONS OF THE SAID LAW, IS
of the mandatory pre-trial conference in criminal cases. UNCONSTITUTIONAL FOR BEING VIOLATIVE OF THE CONSTITUTIONAL
RIGHT TO EQUAL PROTECTION OF THE LAW.
The Court sees merit in the argument of the accused that it is also the
intendment of the law, R.A. No. 9165, to rehabilitate an accused of a II.
drug offense. Rehabilitation is thus only possible in cases of use of illegal
drugs because plea bargaining is disallowed. However, by case law, the WHETHER SECTION 23 OF REPUBLIC ACT NO. 9165 IS
Supreme Court allowed rehabilitation for accused charged with UNCONSTITUTIONAL AS IT ENCROACHED UPON THE POWER OF THE
possession of paraphernalia with traces of dangerous drugs, as held SUPREME COURT TO PROMULGATE RULES OF PROCEDURE.
in People v. Martinez, G.R. No. 191366, 13 December 2010. The ruling of
the Supreme Court in this case manifested the relaxation of an otherwise III.
stringent application of Republic Act No. 9165 in order to serve an intent
for the enactment of the law, that is, to rehabilitate the offender. WHETHER THE REGIONAL TRIAL COURT, AS PRESIDED BY HON. FRANK E.
LOBRIGO, COMMITTED GRAVE ABUSE OF DISCRETION AMOUNTING TO
Within the spirit of the disquisition in People v. Martinez, there might be LACK OR EXCESS OF JURISDICTION WHEN IT REFUSED TO DECLARE
plausible basis for the declaration of Sec. 23 of R.A. No. 9165, which bars SECTION 23 OF REPUBLIC ACT NO. 9165 AS UNCONSTITUTIONAL.10
plea bargaining as unconstitutional because indeed the inclusion of the
provision in the law encroaches on the exclusive constitutional power of We grant the petition.
the Supreme Court.
PROCEDURAL MATTERS
While basic is the precept that lower courts are not precluded from
resolving, whenever warranted, constitutional questions, the Court is not The People of the Philippines, through the Office of the Solicitor
unaware of the admonition of the Supreme Court that lower courts must General (OSG), contends that the petition should be dismissed outright
observe a becoming modesty in examining constitutional questions. for being procedurally defective on the grounds that: (1) the Congress
Upon which admonition, it is thus not for this lower court to declare Sec. should have been impleaded as an indispensable party; (2) the
23 of R.A. No. 9165 unconstitutional given the potential ramifications constitutionality of Section 23 of R.A. No. 9165 cannot be attacked
that such declaration might have on the prosecution of illegal drug cases collaterally; and (3) the proper recourse should have been a petition for
pending before this judicial station.8 declaratory relief before this Court or a petition for certiorari before the
RTC. Moreover, the OSG argues that the petition fails to satisfy the
requisites of judicial review because: (1) Estipona lacks legal standing to
2
sue for failure to show direct injury; (2) there is no actual case or x x x [T]he Court is invested with the power to suspend the application of
controversy; and (3) the constitutionality of Section 23 of R.A. No. 9165 the rules of procedure as a necessary complement of its power to
is not the lis mota of the case. promulgate the same. Barnes v. Hon. Quijano Padilla discussed the
rationale for this tenet, viz. :
On matters of technicality, some points raised by the OSG maybe
correct.1âwphi1 Nonetheless, without much further ado, it must be Let it be emphasized that the rules of procedure should be viewed as
underscored that it is within this Court's power to make exceptions to mere tools designed to facilitate the attainment of justice. Their strict
the rules of court. Under proper conditions, We may permit the full and and rigid application, which would result in technicalities that tend to
exhaustive ventilation of the parties' arguments and positions despite frustrate rather than promote substantial justice, must always be
the supposed technical infirmities of a petition or its alleged procedural eschewed. Even the Rules of Court reflect this principle. The power to
flaws. In discharging its solemn duty as the final arbiter of constitutional suspend or even disregard rules can be so pervasive and compelling as to
issues, the Court shall not shirk from its obligation to determine novel alter even that which this Court itself has already declared to be final, x x
issues, or issues of first impression, with far-reaching implications.11 x.

Likewise, matters of procedure and technicalities normally take a The emerging trend in the rulings of this Court is to afford every party
backseat when issues of substantial and transcendental importance are litigant the amplest opportunity for the proper and just determination of
present.12 We have acknowledged that the Philippines' problem on his cause, free from the constraints of technicalities. Time and again, this
illegal drugs has reached "epidemic," "monstrous," and "harrowing" Court has consistently held that rules must not be applied rigidly so as
proportions,13 and that its disastrously harmful social, economic, and not to override substantial justice. 19
spiritual effects have broken the lives, shattered the hopes, and
destroyed the future of thousands especially our young citizens.14 At the SUBSTANTIVE ISSUES
same time, We have equally noted that "as urgent as the campaign
against the drug problem must be, so must we as urgently, if not more Rule-making power of the Supreme
so, be vigilant in the protection of the rights of the accused as mandated Court under the 1987 Constitution
by the Constitution x x x who, because of excessive zeal on the part of
the law enforcers, may be unjustly accused and convicted."15 Fully aware Section 5(5), A1iicle VIII of the 1987 Constitution explicitly provides:
of the gravity of the drug menace that has beset our country and its
direct link to certain crimes, the Court, within its sphere, must do its part Sec. 5. The Supreme Court shall have the following powers:
to assist in the all-out effort to lessen, if not totally eradicate, the
continued presence of drug lords, pushers and users.16 xxxx

Bearing in mind the very important and pivotal issues raised in this (5) Promulgate rules concerning the protection and enforcement of
petition, technical matters should not deter Us from having to make the constitutional rights, pleading, practice, and procedure in all courts, the
final and definitive pronouncement that everyone else depends for admission to the practice of law, the Integrated Bar, and legal assistance
enlightenment and guidance.17 When public interest requires, the Court to the underprivileged. Such rules shall provide a simplified and
may brush aside procedural rules in order to resolve a constitutional inexpensive procedure for the speedy disposition of cases, shall be
issue.18 uniform for all courts of the same grade, and shall not diminish, increase,
3
or modify substantive rights. Rules of procedure of special courts and law, enacted the Bar Flunkers Act of 1953 which considered as a passing
quasi-judicial bodies shall remain effective unless disapproved by the grade, the average of 70% in the bar examinations after July 4, 1946 up
Supreme Court. to August 1951 and 71 % in the 1952 bar examinations. This Court struck
down the law as unconstitutional. In his ponencia, Mr. Justice Diokno
The power to promulgate rules of pleading, practice and procedure is held that "x x x the disputed law is not a legislation; it is a judgment - a
now Our exclusive domain and no longer shared with the Executive and judgment promulgated by this Court during the aforecited years
Legislative departments.20 In Echegaray v. Secretary of Justice, 21 then affecting the bar candidates concerned; and although this Court certainly
Associate Justice (later Chief Justice) Reynato S. Puno traced the history can revoke these judgments even now, for justifiable reasons, it is no
of the Court's rule-making power and highlighted its evolution and less certain that only this Court, and not the legislative nor executive
development. department, that may do so. Any attempt on the part of these
departments would be a clear usurpation of its function, as is the case
x x x It should be stressed that the power to promulgate rules of pleading, with the law in question." The venerable jurist further ruled: "It is
practice and procedure was granted by our Constitutions to this Court to obvious, therefore, that the ultimate power to grant license for the
enhance its independence, for in the words of Justice Isagani Cruz practice of law belongs exclusively to this Court, and the law passed by
"without independence and integrity, courts will lose that popular trust Congress on the matter is of permissive character, or as other authorities
so essential to the maintenance of their vigor as champions of justice." say, merely to fix the minimum conditions for the license." By its ruling,
Hence, our Constitutions continuously vested this power to this Court for this Court qualified the absolutist tone of the power of Congress to
it enhances its independence. Under the 1935 Constitution, the power of "repeal, alter or supplement the rules concerning pleading, practice and
this Court to promulgate rules concerning pleading, practice and procedure, and the admission to the practice of law in the Philippines.
procedure was granted but it appeared to be co-existent with legislative
power for it was subject to the power of Congress to repeal, alter or The ruling of this Court in In re Cunanan was not changed by the 1973
supplement. Thus, its Section 13, Article VIII provides: Constitution. For the 1973 Constitution reiterated the power of this Court
"to promulgate rules concerning pleading, practice and procedure in all
"Sec. 13. The Supreme Court shall have the power to promulgate rules courts, x x x which, however, may be repealed, altered or supplemented
concerning pleading, practice and procedure in all courts, and the by the Batasang Pambansa x x x." More completely, Section 5(2)5 of its
admission to the practice of law. Said rules shall be uniform for all courts Article X provided:
of the same grade and shall not diminish, increase, or modify substantive
rights. The existing laws on pleading, practice and procedure are hereby xxxx
repealed as statutes, and are declared Rules of Court, subject to the
power of the Supreme Court to alter and modify the same. The Congress "Sec. 5. The Supreme Court shall have the following powers.
shall have the power to repeal, alter or supplement the rules concerning
pleading, practice and procedure, and the admission to the practice of xxxx
law in the Philippines."
(5) Promulgate rules concerning pleading, practice, and procedure in all
The said power of Congress, however, is not as absolute as it may appear courts, the admission to the practice of law, and the integration of the
on its surface. In In re: Cunanan Congress in the exercise of its power to Bar, which, however, may be repealed, altered, or supplemented by the
amend rules of the Supreme Court regarding admission to the practice of Batasang Pambansa. Such rules shall provide a simplified and
4
inexpensive procedure for the speedy disposition of cases, shall be longer shared by this Court with Congress, more so with the Executive. x
uniform for all courts of the same grade, and shall not diminish, increase, x x.22
or modify substantive rights."
Just recently, Carpio-Morales v. Court of Appeals (Sixth Division)23 further
Well worth noting is that the 1973 Constitution further strengthened the elucidated:
independence of the judiciary by giving to it the additional power to
promulgate rules governing the integration of the Bar. While the power to define, prescribe, and apportion the jurisdiction of
the various courts is, by constitutional design, vested unto Congress, the
The 1987 Constitution molded an even stronger and more independent power to promulgate rules concerning the protection and enforcement
judiciary. Among others, it enhanced the rule making power of this of constitutional rights, pleading, practice, and procedure in all
Court. Its Section 5(5), Article VIII provides: courts belongs exclusively to this Court.Section 5 (5), Article VIII of the
1987 Constitution reads:
xxxx
xxxx
"Section 5. The Supreme Court shall have the following powers:
In Echegaray v. Secretary of Justice (Echegaray), the Court traced the
xxx evolution of its rule-making authority, which, under the 1935 and 1973
Constitutions, had been priorly subjected to a power-sharing scheme
(5) Promulgate rules concerning the protection and enforcement of with Congress. As it now stands, the 1987 Constitution textually altered
constitutional rights, pleading, practice and procedure in all courts, the the old provisions by deleting the concurrent power of Congress to
admission to the practice of law, the Integrated Bar, and legal assistance amend the rules, thus solidifying in one body the Court's rule-making
to the underprivileged. Such rules shall provide a simplified and powers, in line with the Framers' vision of institutionalizing a " [
inexpensive procedure for the speedy disposition of cases, shall be s] tronger and more independent judiciary."
uniform for all courts of the same grade, and shall not diminish, increase,
or modify substantive rights. Rules of procedure of special courts and The records of the deliberations of the Constitutional Commission would
quasi-judicial bodies shall remain effective unless disapproved by the show that the Framers debated on whether or not the Court's
Supreme Court. " rulemaking powers should be shared with Congress. There was an initial
suggestion to insert the sentence "The National Assembly may repeal,
The rule making power of this Court was expanded. This Court for alter, or supplement the said rules with the advice and concurrence of
the first time was given the power to promulgate rules concerning the the Supreme Court," right after the phrase "Promulgate rules concerning
protection and enforcement of constitutional rights. The Court was also the protection and enforcement of constitutional rights, pleading,
granted for the .first time the power to disapprove rules of procedure of practice, and procedure in all courts, the admission to the practice of
special courts and quasi-judicial bodies. But most importantly, the 1987 law, the integrated bar, and legal assistance to the underprivileged[,]" in
Constitution took away the power of Congress to repeal, alter, or the enumeration of powers of the Supreme Court. Later, Commissioner
supplement rules concerning pleading, practice and procedure. In fine, Felicitas S. Aquino proposed to delete the former sentence and, instead,
the power to promulgate rules of pleading, practice and procedure is no after the word "[under]privileged," place a comma(,) to be followed by
"the phrase with the concurrence of the National Assembly." Eventually,
5
a compromise formulation was reached wherein (a) the Committee Exemption of the National Power Corporation from Payment of
members agreed to Commissioner Aquino's proposal to delete the Filing/Docket Fees; 31 and Rep. of the Phils. v. Hon. Mangotara, et al. 32 -
phrase "the National Assembly may repeal, alter, or supplement the said Despite statutory provisions, the GSIS, BAMARVEMPCO, and NPC are not
rules with the advice and concurrence of the Supreme Court" and (b) in exempt from the payment of legal fees imposed by Rule 141 of
turn, Commissioner Aquino agreed to withdraw his proposal to add "the the Rules.
phrase with the concurrence of the National Assembly." The changes
were approved, thereby leading to the present lack of textual reference 4. Carpio-Morales v. Court of Appeals (Sixth Division)33 - The first
to any form of Congressional participation in Section 5 (5), Article paragraph of Section 14 of R.A. No. 6770, which prohibits courts except
VIII, supra. Theprevailing consideration was that "both bodies, the the Supreme Court from issuing temporary restraining order and/or writ
Supreme Court and the Legislature, have their inherent powers." of preliminary injunction to enjoin an investigation conducted by the
Ombudsman, is unconstitutional as it contravenes Rule 58 of the Rules.
Thus, as it now stands, Congress has no authority to repeal, alter, or
supplement rules concerning pleading, practice, and procedure.x x x.24 Considering that the aforesaid laws effectively modified the Rules, this
Court asserted its discretion to amend, repeal or even establish new
The separation of powers among the three co-equal branches of our rules of procedure, to the exclusion of the legislative and executive
government has erected an impregnable wall that keeps the power to branches of government. To reiterate, the Court's authority to
promulgate rules of pleading, practice and procedure within the sole promulgate rules on pleading, practice, and procedure is exclusive and
province of this Court.25 The other branches trespass upon this one of the safeguards of Our institutional independence.34
prerogative if they enact laws or issue orders that effectively repeal,
alter or modify any of the procedural rules promulgated by the Plea bargaining in criminal cases
Court.26 Viewed from this perspective, We have rejected previous
attempts on the part of the Congress, in the exercise of its legislative Plea bargaining, as a rule and a practice, has been existing in our
power, to amend the Rules of Court (Rules), to wit: jurisdiction since July 1, 1940, when the 1940 Rules took effect. Section
4, Rule 114 (Pleas) of which stated:
1. Fabian v. Desierto27 -Appeal from the decision of the Office of the
Ombudsman in an administrative disciplinary case should be taken to the SEC. 4. Plea of guilty of lesser offense. - The defendant, with the consent
Court of Appeals under the provisions of Rule 43 of the Rulesinstead of of the court and of the fiscal, may plead guilty of any lesser offense than
appeal by certiorari under Rule 45 as provided in Section 27 of R.A. No. that charged which is necessarily included in the offense charged in the
6770. complaint or information.

2. Cathay Metal Corporation v. Laguna West Multi-Purpose Cooperative, When the 1964 Rules became effective on January 1, 1964, the same
Inc. 28 - The Cooperative Code provisions on notices cannot replace the provision was retained under Rule 118 (Pleas).1âwphi1 Subsequently,
rules on summons under Rule 14 of the Rules. with the effectivity of the 1985 Rules on January 1, 1985, the provision
on plea of guilty to a lesser offense was amended. Section 2, Rule 116
3. RE: Petition for Recognition of the Exemption of the GSIS from provided:
Payment of Legal Fees; 29 Baguio Market Vendors Multi-Purpose
Cooperative (BAMARVEMPCO) v. Hon. Judge Cabato-Cortes;30 In Re:
6
SEC. 2. Plea of guilty to a lesser offense. - The accused with the consent Currently, the pertinent rules on plea bargaining under the
of the offended party and the fiscal, may be allowed by the trial court to 2000 Rules37 are quoted below:
plead guilty to a lesser offense, regardless of whether or not it is
necessarily included in the crime charged, or is cognizable by a court of RULE 116 (Arraignment and Plea):
lesser jurisdiction than the trial court. No amendment of the complaint
or information is necessary. (4a, R-118) SEC. 2. Plea of guilty to a lesser offense. - At arraignment, the accused,
with the consent of the offended party and the prosecutor, may be
As well, the term "plea bargaining" was first mentioned and expressly allowed by the trial court to plead guilty to a lesser offense which is
required during pre-trial. Section 2, Rule 118 mandated: necessarily included in the offense charged. After arraignment but
before trial, the accused may still be allowed to plead guilty to said lesser
SEC. 2. Pre-trial conference; subjects. - The pre-trial conference shall offense after withdrawing his plea of not guilty. No amendment of the
consider the following: complaint or information is necessary. (Sec. 4, Cir. 38-98)

(a) Plea bargaining; RULE 118 (Pre-trial):

(b) Stipulation of facts; SEC. 1. Pre-trial; mandatory in criminal cases. - In all criminal cases
cognizable by the Sandiganbayan,Regional Trial Court, Metropolitan Trial
(c) Marking for identification of evidence of the parties; Court, Municipal Trial Court in Cities, Municipal Trial Court and Municipal
Circuit Trial Court, the court shall, after arraignment and within thirty
(d) Waiver of objections to admissibility of evidence; and (30) days from the date the court acquires jurisdiction over the person of
the accused, unless a shorter period is provided for in special laws or
(e) Such other matters as will promote a fair and expeditious trial. (n) circulars of the Supreme Court, order a pre-trial conference to consider
the following:
The 1985 Rules was later amended. While the wordings of Section 2,
Rule 118 was retained, Section 2, Rule 116 was modified in 1987. A (a) plea bargaining;
second paragraph was added, stating that "[a] conviction under this plea
shall be equivalent to a conviction of the offense charged for purposes of (b) stipulation of facts;
double jeopardy."
(c) marking for identification of evidence of the parties;
35
When R.A. No. 8493 ("Speedy Trial Act of 1998 ') was enacted, Section
2, Rule 118 of the Rules was substantially adopted. Section 2 of the law (d) waiver of objections to admissibility of evidence;
required that plea bargaining and other matters36 that will promote a fair
and expeditious trial are to be considered during pre-trial conference in (e) modification of the order of trial if the accused admits the charge but
all criminal cases cognizable by the Municipal Trial Court, Municipal interposes a lawful defense; and
Circuit Trial Court, Metropolitan Trial Court, Regional Trial Court, and the
Sandiganbayan. (f) such matters as will promote a fair and expeditious trial of the
criminal and civil aspects of the case. (Sec. 2 & 3, Cir. 38-98)
7
Plea bargaining is a rule of procedure making the time-bar an essence of the given right or as an inherent part
thereof, so that its expiration operates to extinguish the right of the
The Supreme Court's sole prerogative to issue, amend, or repeal State to prosecute the accused.43Speaking through then Associate Justice
procedural rules is limited to the preservation of substantive Romeo J. Callejo, Sr., the Court opined:
rights, i.e., the former should not diminish, increase or modify the
latter.38 "Substantive law is that part of the law which creates, defines In the new rule in question, as now construed by the Court, it has fixed a
and regulates rights, or which regulates the right and duties which give time-bar of one year or two years for the revival of criminal cases
rise to a cause of action; that part of the law which courts are provisionally dismissed with the express consent of the accused and
established to administer; as opposed to adjective or remedial law, with a priori notice to the offended party. The time-bar may appear, on
which prescribes the method of enforcing rights or obtain redress for first impression, unreasonable compared to the periods under Article 90
their invasions."39 Fabian v. Hon. Desierto40 laid down the test for of the Revised Penal Code. However, in fixing the time-bar, the Court
determining whether a rule is substantive or procedural in nature. balanced the societal interests and those of the accused for the orderly
and speedy disposition of criminal cases with minimum prejudice to the
It will be noted that no definitive line can be drawn between those rules State and the accused. It took into account the substantial rights of both
or statutes which are procedural, hence within the scope of this Court's the State and of the accused to due process. The Court believed that the
rule-making power, and those which are substantive. In fact, a particular time limit is a reasonable period for the State to revive provisionally
rule may be procedural in one context and substantive in another. It is dismissed cases with the consent of the accused and notice to the
admitted that what is procedural and what is substantive is frequently a offended parties. The time-bar fixed by the Court must be respected
question of great difficulty. It is not, however, an insurmountable unless it is shown that the period is manifestly short or insufficient that
problem if a rational and pragmatic approach is taken within the context the rule becomes a denial of justice. The petitioners failed to show a
of our own procedural and jurisdictional system. manifest shortness or insufficiency of the time-bar.

In determining whether a rule prescribed by the Supreme Court, for the The new rule was conceptualized by the Committee on the Revision of
practice and procedure of the lower courts, abridges, enlarges, or the Rules and approved by the Court en banc primarily to enhance the
modifies any substantive right, the test is whether the rule really administration of the criminal justice system and the rights to due
regulates procedure, that is, the judicial process for enforcing rights and process of the State and the accused by eliminating the deleterious
duties recognized by substantive law and for justly administering remedy practice of trial courts of provisionally dismissing criminal cases on
and redress for a disregard or infraction of them. If the rule takes away a motion of either the prosecution or the accused or jointly, either with no
vested right, it is not procedural. If the rule creates a right such as the time-bar for the revival thereof or with a specific or definite period for
right to appeal, it may be classified as a substantive matter; but if it such revival by the public prosecutor. There were times when such
operates as a means of implementing an existing right then the rule deals criminal cases were no longer revived or refiled due to causes beyond
merely with procedure.41 the control of the public prosecutor or because of the indolence, apathy
or the lackadaisical attitude of public prosecutors to the prejudice of the
In several occasions, We dismissed the argument that a procedural rule State and the accused despite the mandate to public prosecutors and
violates substantive rights. For example, in People v. Lacson, 42 Section 8, trial judges to expedite criminal proceedings.
Rule 117 of the Rules on provisional dismissal was held as a special
procedural limitation qualifying the right of the State to prosecute,
8
It is almost a universal experience that the accused welcomes delay as it Section 6, Rule 120, of the Rules of Court, does not take away per se the
usually operates in his favor, especially if he greatly fears the right of the convicted accused to avail of the remedies under the Rules. It
consequences of his trial and conviction. He is hesitant to disturb the is the failure of the accused to appear without justifiable cause on the
hushed inaction by which dominant cases have been known to expire. scheduled date of promulgation of the judgment of conviction that
forfeits their right to avail themselves of the remedies against the
The inordinate delay in the revival or refiling of criminal cases may impair judgment.
or reduce the capacity of the State to prove its case with the
disappearance or nonavailability of its witnesses. Physical evidence may It is not correct to say that Section 6, Rule 120, of the Rules of Court
have been lost. Memories of witnesses may have grown dim or have diminishes or modifies the substantive rights of petitioners. It only works
faded. Passage of time makes proof of any fact more difficult. The in pursuance of the power of the Supreme Court to "provide a simplified
accused may become a fugitive from justice or commit another crime. and inexpensive procedure for the speedy disposition of cases." This
The longer the lapse of time from the dismissal of the case to the revival provision protects the courts from delay in the speedy disposition of
thereof, the more difficult it is to prove the crime. criminal cases - delay arising from the simple expediency of
nonappearance of the accused on the scheduled promulgation of the
On the other side of the fulcrum, a mere provisional dismissal of a judgment of conviction.46
criminal case does not terminate a criminal case. The possibility that the
case may be revived at any time may disrupt or reduce, if not derail, the By the same token, it is towards the provision of a simplified and
chances of the accused for employment, curtail his association, subject inexpensive procedure for the speedy disposition of cases in all
him to public obloquy and create anxiety in him and his family. He is courts47 that the rules on plea bargaining was introduced. As a way of
unable to lead a normal life because of community suspicion and his own disposing criminal charges by agreement of the parties, plea bargaining
anxiety. He continues to suffer those penalties and disabilities is considered to be an "important," "essential," "highly desirable," and
incompatible with the presumption of innocence. He may also lose his "legitimate" component of the administration of justice.48 Some of its
witnesses or their memories may fade with the passage of time. In the salutary effects include:
long run, it may diminish his capacity to defend himself and thus eschew
the fairness of the entire criminal justice system. x x x For a defendant who sees slight possibility of acquittal, the
advantages of pleading guilty and limiting the probable penalty are
The time-bar under the new rule was fixed by the Court to excise the obvious - his exposure is reduced, the correctional processes can begin
malaise that plagued the administration of the criminal justice system for immediately, and the practical burdens of a trial are eliminated. For the
the benefit of the State and the accused; not for the accused only.44 State there are also advantages - the more promptly imposed
punishment after an admission of guilt may more effectively attain the
Also, We said in Jaylo, et al. v. Sandiganbayan, et al. 45 that Section 6, objectives of punishment; and with the avoidance of trial, scarce judicial
Rule 120 of the Rules, which provides that an accused who failed to and prosecutorial resources are conserved for those cases in which there
appear at the promulgation of the judgment of conviction shall lose the is a substantial issue of the defendant's guilt or in which there is
remedies available against the judgment, does not take away substantive substantial doubt that the State can sustain its burden of proof. (Brady v.
rights but merely provides the manner through which an existing right United States, 397 U.S. 742, 752 [1970])
may be implemented.

9
Disposition of charges after plea discussions x x x leads to prompt and The decision to plead guilty is often heavily influenced by the
largely final disposition of most criminal cases; it avoids much of the defendant's appraisal of the prosecution's case against him and by the
corrosive impact of enforced idleness during pretrial confinement for apparent likelihood of securing leniency should a guilty plea be offered
those who are denied release pending trial; it protects the public from and accepted.54 In any case, whether it be to the offense charged or to a
those accused persons who are prone to continue criminal conduct even lesser crime, a guilty plea is a "serious and sobering occasion" inasmuch
while on pretrial release; and, by shortening the time between charge as it constitutes a waiver of the fundamental rights to be presumed
and disposition, it enhances whatever may be the rehabilitative innocent until the contrary is proved, to be heard by himself and
prospects of the guilty when they are ultimately imprisoned. (Santobello counsel, to meet the witnesses face to face, to bail (except those
v. New York, 404 U.S. 257, 261 [1971]) charged with offenses punishable by reclusion perpetua when evidence
of guilt is strong), to be convicted by proof beyond reasonable doubt,
The defendant avoids extended pretrial incarceration and the anxieties and not to be compelled to be a witness against himself.55
and uncertainties of a trial; he gains a speedy disposition of his case, the
chance to acknowledge his guilt, and a prompt start in realizing whatever Yet a defendant has no constitutional right to plea bargain. No basic
potential there may be for rehabilitation. Judges and prosecutors rights are infringed by trying him rather than accepting a plea of guilty;
conserve vital and scarce resources. The public is protected from the the prosecutor need not do so if he prefers to go to trial.56 Under the
risks posed by those charged with criminal offenses who are at large on present Rules, the acceptance of an offer to plead guilty is not a
bail while awaiting completion of criminal proceedings. (Blackledge v. demandable right but depends on the consent of the offended
Allison, 431 U.S. 63, 71 [1977]) party57and the prosecutor, which is a condition precedent to a valid plea
of guilty to a lesser offense that is necessarily included in the offense
In this jurisdiction, plea bargaining has been defined as "a process charged.58 The reason for this is that the prosecutor has full control of
whereby the accused and the prosecution work out a mutually the prosecution of criminal actions; his duty is to always prosecute the
satisfactory disposition of the case subject to court approval."49 There is proper offense, not any lesser or graver one, based on what the
give-and-take negotiation common in plea bargaining.50 The essence of evidence on hand can sustain.59
the agreement is that both the prosecution and the defense make
concessions to avoid potential losses.51 Properly administered, plea [Courts] normally must defer to prosecutorial decisions as to whom to
bargaining is to be encouraged because the chief virtues of the system - prosecute. The reasons for judicial deference are well known.
speed, economy, and finality - can benefit the accused, the offended Prosecutorial charging decisions are rarely simple. In addition to
party, the prosecution, and the court.52 assessing the strength and importance of a case, prosecutors also must
consider other tangible and intangible factors, such as government
Considering the presence of mutuality of advantage,53 the rules on plea enforcement priorities. Finally, they also must decide how best to
bargaining neither create a right nor take away a vested right. Instead, it allocate the scarce resources of a criminal justice system that simply
operates as a means to implement an existing right by regulating the cannot accommodate the litigation of every serious criminal charge.
judicial process for enforcing rights and duties recognized by substantive Because these decisions "are not readily susceptible to the kind of
law and for justly administering remedy and redress for a disregard or analysis the courts are competent to undertake," we have been
infraction of them. "properly hesitant to examine the decision whether to prosecute. "60

10
The plea is further addressed to the sound discretion of the trial court, On whether Section 23 of R.A. No.
which may allow the accused to plead guilty to a lesser offense which is 9165 violates the equal protection
necessarily included in the offense charged. The word may denotes an clause
exercise of discretion upon the trial court on whether to allow the
accused to make such plea.61 Trial courts are exhorted to keep in mind At this point, We shall not resolve the issue of whether Section 23 of R.A.
that a plea of guilty for a lighter offense than that actually charged is not No. 9165 is contrary to the constitutional right to equal protection of the
supposed to be allowed as a matter of bargaining or compromise for the law in order not to preempt any future discussion by the Court on the
convenience of the accused.62 policy considerations behind Section 23 of R.A. No. 9165. Pending
deliberation on whether or not to adopt the statutory provision in
Plea bargaining is allowed during the arraignment, the pre-trial, or even toto or a qualified version thereof, We deem it proper to declare as
up to the point when the prosecution already rested its case.63 As invalid the prohibition against plea bargaining on drug cases until and
regards plea bargaining during the pre-trial stage, the trial court's unless it is made part of the rules of procedure through an
exercise of discretion should not amount to a grave abuse administrative circular duly issued for the purpose.
thereof.64 "Grave abuse of discretion" is a capricious and whimsical
exercise of judgment so patent and gross as to amount to an evasion of a WHEREFORE, the petition for certiorari and prohibition is GRANTED.
positive duty or a virtual refusal to perform a duty enjoined by law, as Section 23 of Republic Act No. 9165 is declared unconstitutional for
where the power is exercised in an arbitrary and despotic manner being contrary to the rule-making authority of the Supreme Court under
because of passion or hostility; it arises when a court or tribunal violates Section 5(5), Article VIII of the 1987 Constitution.
the Constitution, the law or existing jurisprudence.65
SO ORDERED.
If the accused moved to plead guilty to a lesser offense subsequent to a
bail hearing or after the prosecution rested its case, the rules allow such
a plea only when the prosecution does not have sufficient evidence to
establish the guilt of the crime charged.66 The only basis on which the
prosecutor and the court could rightfully act in allowing change in the
former plea of not guilty could be nothing more and nothing less than
the evidence on record. As soon as the prosecutor has submitted a
comment whether for or against said motion, it behooves the trial court
to assiduously study the prosecution's evidence as well as all the
circumstances upon which the accused made his change of plea to the
end that the interests of justice and of the public will be served.67 The
ruling on the motion must disclose the strength or weakness of the
prosecution's evidence.68 Absent any finding on the weight of the
evidence on hand, the judge's acceptance of the defendant's change of
plea is improper and irregular.69

11
to check its fairness in light of supervening events in Congress as alleged
by petitioner. The Court, contrary to popular misimpression, did not
restrain the effectivity of a law enacted by Congress.
[G.R. No. 132601. January 19, 1999]
Moreover, the temporary restraining order of this Court has produced
its desired result, i.e., the crystallization of the issue whether Congress is
disposed to review capital punishment. The public respondents, thru the
LEO ECHEGARAY, petitioner, vs. SECRETARY OF JUSTICE, ET Solicitor General, cite posterior events that negate beyond doubt the
AL., respondents. possibility that Congress will repeal or amend the death penalty law. In
light of these developments, the Courts TRO should now be lifted as it has
served its legal and humanitarian purpose.
SYNOPSIS
The instant motion is GRANTED.
This is the Urgent Motion for Reconsideration and the Supplement
thereto of the Resolution of the Supreme Court dated January 4, 1999 SYLLABUS
temporarily restraining the execution of the death convict Leo Echegaray 1. REMEDIAL LAW; ACTIONS; RULE ON FINALITY OF JUDGMENT;
by lethal injection. It is the main submission of public respondents that CANNOT DIVEST COURT OF ITS JURISDICTION. The rule on finality of
the Decision of the case having become final and executory, its execution judgment cannot divest this Court of its jurisdiction to execute and
enters the exclusive ambit of authority of the executive authority. enforce the same judgment. Retired Justice Camilo Quiason
The Court ruled that the power to control the execution of its decision synthesized the well established jurisprudence on this issue as
is an essential aspect of jurisdiction. It cannot be the subject of substantial follows: x x x the finality of a judgment does not mean that the Court
subtraction for our Constitution vests the entirety of judicial power in one has lost all its powers nor the case. By the finality of the judgment,
Supreme Court and in such lower courts as may be established by law. To what the court loses is its jurisdiction to amend, modify or alter the
be sure, the most important part of a litigation, whether civil or criminal, same. Even after the judgment has become final the court retains its
is the process of execution of decisions where supervening events may jurisdiction to execute and enforce it. There is a difference between
change the circumstance of the parties and compel courts to intervene and the jurisdiction of the court to execute its judgment and its jurisdiction
adjust the rights of the litigants to prevent unfairness. It is because of these to amend, modify or alter the same. The former continues even after
unforeseen, supervening contingencies that courts have been conceded the judgment has become final for the purpose of enforcement of
the inherent and necessary power of control of its processes and orders to judgment; the latter terminates when the judgment becomes final. x
make them conformable to law and justice. For this purpose, Section 6 of x x For after the judgment has become final facts and circumstances
Rule 135 provides that when by law jurisdiction is conferred on a court or may transpire which can render the execution unjust or impossible.
judicial officer, all auxiliary writs, processes and other means necessary to 2. ID.; SUPREME COURT; FINALITY OF DECISION IN CRIMINAL CASES;
carry it into effect may be employed by such court or officer and if the PARTICULAR OF EXECUTION ITSELF STILL UNDER CONTROL OF
procedure to be followed in the exercise of such jurisdiction is not JUDICIAL AUTHORITY. In criminal cases, after the sentence has been
specifically pointed out by law or by these rules, any suitable process or pronounced and the period for reopening the same has elapsed, the
mode of proceeding may be adopted which appears conformable to the court cannot change or alter its judgment, as its jurisdiction has
spirit of said law or rules. It bears repeating that what the Court restrained terminated. . . When in cases of appeal or review the cause has been
temporarily is the execution of its own Decision to give it reasonable time
1
returned thereto for execution, in the event that the judgment has 5. ID.; SUPREME COURT; JURISDICTION OF THIS COURT DOES NOT
been affirmed, it performs a ministerial duty in issuing the proper DEPEND ON CONVENIUENCE OF LITIGANTS. The same motion to
order. But it does not follow from this cessation of functions on the compel Judge Ponferrada to reveal the date of execution of petitioner
part of the court with reference to the ending of the cause that the Echegaray was filed by his counsel, Atty. Theodore Te, on December
judicial authority terminates by having then passed completely to the 7, 1998. He invoked his clients right to due process and the publics
Executive. The particulars of the execution itself, which are certainly right to information. The Solicitor General, as counsel for public
not always included in the judgment and writ of execution, in any respondents, did not oppose petitioners motion on the ground that
event are absolutely under the control of the judicial authority, while this Court has no more jurisdiction over the process of execution of
the executive has no power over the person of the convict except to Echegaray. This Court granted the relief prayed for by the Secretary
provide for carrying out of the penalty and to pardon. (Director of of Justice and by the counsel of the petitioner in its Resolution of
Prisons v. Judge of First Instance, 26 Phil. 267[1915]) December 15, 1998. There was not a whimper of protest from the
public respondents and they are now estopped from contending that
3. ID.; CRIMINAL PROCEDURE; EXECUTION OF SENTENCE; GROUNDS FOR
this Court has lost its jurisdiction to grant said relief. The jurisdiction
POSTPONEMENT. Notwithstanding the order of execution and the
of this Court does not depend on the convenience of litigants.
executory nature thereof on the date set or at the proper time, the
date therefor can be postponed, even in sentences of death. Under 6. ID.; ID.; POWER TO SUSPEND EXECUTION OF CONVICTS DOES NOT
the common law this postponement can be ordered in three ways: VIOLATE CO-EQUAL AND COORDINATE POWERS OF BRANCHES OF
(1) By command of the King; (2) by discretion (arbitrio) of the court; GOVERNMENT. The text and tone of this provision will not yield to
and (3) by mandate of the law. It is sufficient to state this principle of the interpretation suggested by the public respondents. The
the common law to render impossible that assertion in absolute provision is simply the source of power of the President to grant
terms that after the convict has once been placed in jail the trial court reprieves, commutations, and pardons and remit fines and
can not reopen the case to investigate the facts that show the need forfeitures after conviction by final judgment. It also provides the
for postponement. authority for the President to grant amnesty with the concurrence of
a majority of all the members of the Congress. The provision,
4. ID.; ACTIONS; JURISDICTION; POWER TO CONTROL EXECUTION OF
however, cannot be interpreted as denying the power of courts to
DECISION, AN ESSENTIAL ASPECT THEREOF.The power to control the
control the enforcement of their decisions after their finality. In truth,
execution of its decision is an essential aspect of jurisdiction. It cannot
an accused who has been convicted by final judgment still possesses
be the subject of substantial subtraction for our Constitution vests
collateral rights and these rights can be claimed in the appropriate
the entirely of judicial power in one Supreme Court and in such lower
courts. For instance, a death convict who becomes insane after his
courts as may be estabished by law. To be sure, the most important
final conviction cannot be executed while in a state of insanity. As
part of a litigation, whether civil or criminal, is the process of
observed by Antieau, today, it is generally assumed that due process
execution of decisions where supervening events may change the
of law will prevent the government from executing the death
circumstance of the parties and compel courts to intervene and adjust
sentence upon a person who is insane at the time of execution. The
the rights of the litigants to prevent unfairness. It is because of these
suspension of such a death sentence is undisputably an exercise of
unforseen, supervening contingencies that courts have been
judicial power. It is not a usurpation of the presidential power of
conceded the inherent and necessary power of control of its processes
reprieve though its effect is the same the temporary suspension of
and orders to make them conformable to law and justice.
the execution of the death convict. In the same vein, it cannot be

2
denied that Congress can at any time amend R. A. No. 7659 by PENALTY. In its resolution of 04 January 1999, the Court resolved to
reducing the penalty of death to life imprisonment. The effect of such issue in the above-numbered petition a temporary restraining order
an amendment is like that of commutation of sentence. But by no (TRO) because, among other things, of what had been stated to be
stretch of the imagination can the exercise by Congress of its plenary indications that Congress would re-examine the death penalty
power to amend laws be considered as a violation of the power of law. The Court, it must be stressed, did not, by issuing the TRO,
the President to commute final sentences of conviction. The powers thereby reconsider its judgment convicting the accused or recall the
of the Executive, the Legislative and the Judiciary to save the life of a imposition of the death penalty. The doctrine has almost invariably
death convict do not exclude each other for the simple reason that been that after a decision becomes final and executory, nothing else
there is no higher right than the right to life. Indeed, in various States is further done except to see to its compliance since for the Court to
in the United States, laws have even been enacted expressly granting adopt otherwise would be to put no end to litigations. The rule
courts the power to suspend execution of convicts and their notwithstanding, the Court retains control over the case until the full
constitutionality has been upheld over arguments that they infringe satisfaction of the final judgment conformably with established legal
upon the power of the President to grant reprieves. For the public processes. Hence, the Court has taken cognizance of the petition
respondents therefore to contend that only the Executive can protect assailing before it the use of lethal injection by the State to carry out
the right to life of an accused after his final conviction is to violate the the death sentence. In fine, the authority of the Court to see to the
principle of co-equal and coordinate powers of the three branches of proper execution of its final judgment, the power of the President to
our government. grant pardon, commutation or reprieve, and the prerogative of
Congress to repeal or modify the law that could benefit the convicted
accused are not essentially preclusive of one another nor
VITUG, J., separate opinion:
constitutionally incompatible and may each be exercised within their
respective spheres and confines. Thus, the stay of execution issued
1. CONSTITUTIONAL LAW; R.A. NO. 7659, UNCONSTITUTIONAL. Let me
by the Court would not prevent either the President from exercising
state at the outset that I have humbly maintained that Republic Act
his pardoning power or Congress from enacting a measure that may
No. 7659, insofar as it prescribes the death penalty, falls short of the
be advantageous to the adjudged offender.
strict norm set forth by the Constitution. I and some of my brethren
on the Court, who hold similarly, have consistently expressed this 3. ID.; ACTIONS; JUDGMENT; IMMUTABILITY OF FINAL AND EXECUTORY
stand in the affirmance by the Court of death sentences imposed by JUDGMENTS; EXCEPTIONS. In any event, jurisprudence teaches
Regional Trial Courts. Until the exacting standards of the Constitution that the rule of immutability of final and executory judgments admits
are clearly met as so hereinabove expressed, I will have to disagree, of settled exceptions. Concededly, the Court may, for instance,
most respectfully, with my colleagues in the majority who continue suspend the execution of a final judgment when it becomes
to hold the presently structured Republic Act. No. 7659 to be in imperative in the higher interest of justice or when supervening events
accord with the Constitution, an issue that is fundamental, constant warrant it. Certainly, this extraordinary relief cannot be denied any
and inextricably linked to the imposition each time of the death man, whatever might be his station, whose right to life is the issue at
penalty and, like the instant petition, to the legal incidents pertinent stake.
thereto.
2. REMEDIAL LAW; SUPREME COURT; WITH JURISDICTION TO ISSUE PANGANIBAN, J., separate opinion:
TEMPORARY RESTRAINING ORDER ON. EXECUTION OF DEATH
3
1. CONSTITUTIONAL LAW; R.A. NO. 7659 (DEATH PENALTY LAW),
UNCONSTITUTIONAL. R.A. 7659 (the Death Penalty Law) is
unconstitutional insofar as some parts thereof prescribing the capital
penalty fail to comply with the requirements of heinousness and
compelling reasons prescribed by the Constitution of the Philippines.
2. ID.; R.A. NO. 8177 (LETHAL INJECTION LAW),
UNCONSTITUTIONAL. R.A. 8177 (the Lethal Injection Law) is likewise
unconstitutional since it merely prescribes the manner in which R.A.
7659 (the Death Penalty Law) is to be implemented.

4
RESOLUTION b. The resolution of Congressman Golez, et al., that they are against the
repeal of the law;
PUNO, J.:
c. The fact that Senator Roco's resolution to repeal the law only
For resolution are public respondents' Urgent Motion for
bears his signature and that of Senator Pimentel."
Reconsideration of the Resolution of this Court dated January 4, 1999
temporarily restraining the execution of petitioner and Supplemental
In their Supplemental Motion to Urgent Motion for Reconsideration,
Motion to Urgent Motion for Reconsideration. It is the submission of
public respondents attached a copy of House Resolution No. 629
public respondents that:
introduced by Congressman Golez entitled "Resolution expressing the
sense of the House of Representative to reject any move to review
"(1) The Decision in this case having become final and executory, its
Republic Act No. 7659 which provided for the re-imposition of death
execution enters the exclusive ambit of authority of the executive
penalty, notifying the Senate, the Judiciary and the Executive Department
authority. The issuance of the TRO may be construed as trenching on
of the position of the House of Representatives on this matter, and urging
that sphere of executive authority;
the President to exhaust all means under the law to immediately
implement the death penalty law." The Resolution was concurred in by
(2) The issuance of the temporary restraining order x x x creates
one hundred thirteen (113) congressmen.
dangerous precedent as there will never be an end to litigation because
there is always a possibility that Congress may repeal a law. In their Consolidated Comment, petitioner contends: (1) the stay
order x x x is within the scope of judicial power and duty and does not
(3) Congress had earlier deliberated extensively on the death penalty trench on executive powers nor on congressional prerogatives; (2) the
bill. To be certain, whatever question may now be raised on the Death exercise by this Court of its power to stay execution was
Penalty Law before the present Congress within the 6-month period reasonable; (3) the Court did not lose jurisdiction to
given by this Honorable Court had in all probability been fully debated address incidental matters involved or arising from the petition; (4) public
upon x x x. respondents are estopped from challenging the Court's jurisdiction; and
(5) there is no certainty that the law on capital punishment will not be
(4) Under the time honored maxim lex futuro, judex praeterito, the law repealed or modified until Congress convenes and considers all the
looks forward while the judge looks at the past, x x x the Honorable various resolutions and bills filed before it.
Court in issuing the TRO has transcended its power of judicial review.
Prefatorily, the Court likes to emphasize that the instant motions
concern matters that are not incidents in G.R. No. 117472, where the
(5) At this moment, certain circumstances/supervening events transpired
death penalty was imposed on petitioner on automatic review of his
to the effect that the repeal or modification of the law imposing death
conviction by this Court. The instant motions were filed in this case, G.R.
penalty has become nil, to wit:
No. 132601, where the constitutionality of R.A. No. 8177 (Lethal Injection
Law) and its implementing rules and regulations was assailed by
a. The public pronouncement of President Estrada that he will
petitioner. For this reason, the Court in its Resolution of January 4, 1999
veto any law imposing the death penalty involving
merely noted the Motion to Set Aside of Rodessa "Baby" R. Echegaray
heinous crimes.
dated January 7, 1999 and Entry of Appearance of her counsel dated
January 5, 1999. Clearly, she has no legal standing to intervene in the case
5
at bar, let alone the fact that the interest of the State is properly Act No. 8177 are appropriately amended, revised and/or corrected in
represented by the Solicitor General. accordance with this Decision.
We shall now resolve the basic issues raised by the public
SO ORDERED.'
respondents.
I and that the same has, on November 6, 1998 become final and
executory and is hereby recorded in the Book of Entries of Judgment.
First. We do not agree with the sweeping submission of the public
respondents that this Court lost its jurisdiction over the case at bar and
Manila, Philippines.
hence can no longer restrain the execution of the petitioner. Obviously,
public respondents are invoking the rule that final judgments can no
Clerk of
longer be altered in accord with the principle that "it is just as important
Court
that there should be a place to end as there should be a place to begin
litigation."[1] To start with, the Court is not changing even a comma of
By: (SGD) TERESITA
its final Decision. It is appropriate to examine with precision the metes
G. DIMAISIP
and bounds of the Decision of this Court that became final. These metes
Acting Chief
and bounds are clearly spelled out in the Entry of Judgment in this
Judicial
case, viz:
Records Office"
"ENTRY OF JUDGMENT
The records will show that before the Entry of Judgment, the Secretary of
Justice, the Honorable Serafin Cuevas, filed with this Court on October 21,
This is to certify that on October 12, 1998 a decision rendered in the
1998 a Compliance where he submitted the Amended Rules and
above-entitled case was filed in this Office, the dispositive part of which
Regulations implementing R.A. No. 8177 in compliance with
reads as follows:
our Decision. On October 28, 1998, Secretary Cuevas submitted a
Manifestation informing the Court that he has caused the publication of
`WHEREFORE, the petition is DENIED insofar as petitioner seeks to
the said Amended Rules and Regulations as required by the Administrative
declare the assailed statute (Republic Act No. 8177) as unconstitutional;
Code. It is crystalline that the Decision of this Court that became final
but GRANTED insofar as Sections 17 and 19 of the Rules and Regulations
and unalterable mandated: (1) that R.A. No. 8177 is not unconstitutional;
to Implement Republic Act No. 8177 are concerned, which are hereby
(2) that sections 17 and 19 of the Rules and Regulations to Implement R.A.
declared INVALID because (a) Section 17 contravenes Article 83 of the
No. 8177 are invalid, and (3) R.A. No. 8177 cannot be enforced and
Revised Penal Code, as amended by Section 25 of Republic Act No. 7659;
implemented until sections 17 and 19 of the Rules and Regulations to
and (b) Section 19 fails to provide for review and approval of the Lethal
Implement R.A. No. 8177 are amended. It is also daylight clear that this
Injection Manual by the Secretary of Justice, and unjustifiably makes the
Decision was not altered a whit by this Court. Contrary to the submission
manual confidential, hence unavailable to interested parties including
of the Solicitor General, the rule on finality of judgment cannot divest
the accused/convict and counsel. Respondents are hereby enjoined from
this Court of its jurisdiction to execute and enforce the same
enforcing and implementing Republic Act No. 8177 until the aforesaid
judgment. Retired Justice Camilo Quiason synthesized the well
Sections 17 and 19 of the Rules and Regulations to Implement Republic
established jurisprudence on this issue as follows:[2]
6
xxx hypothesis that postponement of the date can be requested. There can
be no dispute on this point. It is a well-known principle that
"the finality of a judgment does not mean that the Court has lost all its notwithstanding the order of execution and the executory nature
powers nor the case. By the finality of the judgment, what the court thereof on the date set or at the proper time, the date therefor can be
loses is its jurisdiction to amend, modify or alter the same. Even after the postponed, even in sentences of death. Under the common law this
judgment has become final the court retains its jurisdiction to execute postponement can be ordered in three ways: (1) By command of the
and enforce it.[3] There is a difference between the jurisdiction of the King; (2) by discretion (arbitrio) of the court; and (3)by mandate of the
court to execute its judgment and its jurisdiction to amend, modify or law. It is sufficient to state this principle of the common law to render
alter the same. The former continues even after the judgment has impossible that assertion in absolute terms that after the convict has
become final for the purpose of enforcement of judgment; the latter once been placed in jail the trial court can not reopen the case to
terminates when the judgment becomes final.[4] x x x For after the investigate the facts that show the need for postponement. If one of the
judgment has become final facts and circumstances may transpire which ways is by direction of the court, it is acknowledged that even after the
can render the execution unjust or impossible.[5] date of the execution has been fixed, and notwithstanding the general
rule that after the (court) has performed its ministerial duty of ordering
In truth, the argument of the Solicitor General has long been rejected the execution . . . and its part is ended, if however a circumstance
by this Court. As aptly pointed out by the petitioner, as early as 1915, this arises that ought to delay the execution, and there is an imperative
Court has unequivocably ruled in the case of Director of Prisons v. Judge duty to investigate the emergency and to order a postponement. Then
of First Instance,[6] viz: the question arises as to whom the application for postponing the
execution ought to be addressed while the circumstances is under
"This Supreme Court has repeatedly declared in various decisions, which investigation and as to who has jurisdiction to make the investigation."
constitute jurisprudence on the subject, that in criminal cases, after the
sentence has been pronounced and the period for reopening the same The power to control the execution of its decision is an essential
has elapsed, the court cannot change or alter its judgment, as its aspect of jurisdiction. It cannot be the subject ofsubstantial subtraction
jurisdiction has terminated . . . When in cases of appeal or review the for our Constitution[7] vests the entirety of judicial power in one Supreme
cause has been returned thereto for execution, in the event that the Court and in such lower courts as may be estabished by law. To be sure,
judgment has been affirmed, it performs a ministerial duty in issuing the the most important part of a litigation, whether civil or criminal, is
proper order. But it does not follow from this cessation of functions on the process of execution of decisions where supervening events may
the part of the court with reference to the ending of the cause that the change the circumstance of the parties and compel courts to intervene
judicial authority terminates by having then passed completely to the and adjust the rights of the litigants to prevent unfairness. It is because
Executive. The particulars of the execution itself, which are certainly not of these unforseen, supervening contingencies that courts have been
always included in the judgment and writ of execution, in any event are conceded the inherent and necessary power of control of its processes
absolutely under the control of the judicial authority, while the executive and orders to make them conformable to law and justice.[8] For this
has no power over the person of the convict except to provide for purpose, Section 6 of Rule 135 provides that "when by law jurisdiction is
carrying out of the penalty and to pardon. conferred on a court or judicial officer, all auxiliary writs, processes and
other means necessary to carry it into effect may be employed by such
Getting down to the solution of the question in the case at bar, which is court or officer and if the procedure to be followed in the exercise of
that of execution of a capital sentence, it must be accepted as a such jurisdiction is not specifically pointed out by law or by these rules,
7
any suitable process or mode of proceeding may be adopted which repealed as statutes, and are declared Rules of Court, subject to the
appears conformable to the spirit of said law or rules." It bears repeating power of the Supreme Court to alter and modify the same. The Congress
that what the Court restrained temporarily is the execution of its own shall have the power to repeal, alter or supplement the rules
Decision to give it reasonble time to check its fairness in light of concerning pleading, practice and procedure, and the admission to the
supervening events in Congress as alleged by petitioner. The Court, practice of law in the Philippines."
contrary to popular misimpression, did not restrain the effectivity of a law
enacted by Congress. The said power of Congress, however, is not as absolute as it may
appear on its surface. In In re Cunanan[10]Congress in the exercise of its
The more disquieting dimension of the submission of the public
power to amend rules of the Supreme Court regarding admission to the
respondents that this Court has no jurisdiction to restrain the execution
practice of law, enacted the Bar Flunkers Act of 1953[11] which considered
of petitioner is that it can diminish the independence of the
as a passing grade, the average of 70% in the bar examinations after July
judiciary. Since the implant of republicanism in our soil, our courts have
4, 1946 up to August 1951 and 71% in the 1952 bar examinations. This
been conceded the jurisdiction to enforce their final decisions. In accord
Court struck down the law as unconstitutional. In his ponencia, Mr.
with this unquestioned jurisdiction, this Court promulgated rules
Justice Diokno held that "x x x the disputed law is not a legislation; it is a
concerning pleading, practice and procedure which, among
judgment - a judgment promulgated by this Court during the aforecited
others, spelled out the rules on execution of judgments. These rules are
years affecting the bar candidates concerned; and although this Court
all predicated on the assumption that courts have the inherent,
certainly can revoke these judgments even now, for justifiable reasons, it
necessary and incidental power to control and supervise the process of
is no less certain that only this Court, and not the legislative nor executive
execution of their decisions. Rule 39 governs execution, satisfaction and
department, that may do so. Any attempt on the part of these
effects of judgments in civil cases. Rule 120 governs judgments in criminal
departments would be a clear usurpation of its function, as is the case
cases. It should be stressed that the power to promulgate rules of
with the law in question."[12] The venerable jurist further ruled: "It is
pleading, practice and procedure was granted by our Constitutions to
obvious, therefore, that the ultimate power to grant license for the
this Court to enhance its independence, for in the words of Justice Isagani
practice of law belongs exclusivelyto this Court, and the law passed by
Cruz "without independence and integrity, courts will lose that popular
Congress on the matter is of permissive character, or as other authorities
trust so essential to the maintenance of their vigor as champions of
say, merely to fix the minimum conditions for the license." By its ruling,
justice."[9] Hence, our Constitutions continuously vested this power to this
this Court qualified the absolutist tone of the power of Congress to
Court for it enhances its independence. Under the 1935 Constitution, the
"repeal, alter or supplement the rules concerning pleading, practice and
power of this Court to promulgate rules concerning pleading, practice and
procedure, and the admission to the practice of law in the Philippines.
procedure was granted but it appeared to be co-existent with legislative
power for it was subject to the power of Congress to repeal, alter or The ruling of this Court in In re Cunanan was not changed by the 1973
supplement. Thus, its Section 13, Article VIII provides: Constitution. For the 1973 Constitution reiterated the power of this
Court "to promulgate rules concerning pleading, practice and procedure
"Sec. 13. The Supreme Court shall have the power to promulgate rules in all courts, x x x which, however, may be repealed, altered or
concerning pleading, practice and procedure in all courts, and the supplemented by the Batasang Pambansa x x x." More completely,
admission to the practice of law. Said rules shall be uniform for all courts Section 5(2)5 of its Article X provided:
of the same grade and shall not diminish, increase, or modify substantive
xxxxxxxxx
rights. The existing laws on pleading, practice and procedure are hereby

8
"Sec. 5. The Supreme Court shall have the following powers. The rule making power of this Court was expanded. This Court for
the first time was given the power to promulgate rules concerning the
xxxxxxxxx protection and enforcement of constitutional rights. The Court was also
granted for the first time the power to disapprove rules of procedure of
(5) Promulgate rules concerning pleading, practice, and procedure in all special courts and quasi-judicial bodies. But most importantly, the 1987
courts, the admission to the practice of law, and the integration of the Constitution took away the power of Congress to repeal, alter, or
Bar, which, however, may be repealed, altered, or supplemented by the supplement rules concerning pleading, practice and procedure. In fine,
Batasang Pambansa. Such rules shall provide a simplified and the power to promulgate rules of pleading, practice and procedure is no
inexpensive procedure for the speedy disposition of cases, shall be longer shared by this Court with Congress, more so with the
uniform for all courts of the same grade, and shall not diminish, increase, Executive. If the manifest intent of the 1987 Constitution is to strengthen
or modify substantive rights." the independence of the judiciary, it is inutile to urge, as public
respondents do, that this Court has no jurisdiction to control the process
Well worth noting is that the 1973 Constitution further of execution of its decisions, a power conceded to it and which it has
strengthened the independence of the judiciary by giving to it exercised since time immemorial.
the additional power to promulgate rules governing the integration of the
To be sure, it is too late in the day for public respondents to assail
Bar.[13]
the jurisdiction of this Court to control and supervise the implementation
The 1987 Constitution molded an even stronger and more of its decision in the case at bar. As aforestated, our Decision became final
independent judiciary. Among others, it enhanced the rule making and executory on November 6, 1998. The records reveal that after
power of this Court. Its Section 5(5), Article VIII provides: November 6, 1998, or on December 8, 1998, no less than the Secretary of
Justice recognized the jurisdiction of this Court by filing a Manifestation
xxxxxxxxx
and Urgent Motion to compel the trial judge, the Honorable Thelma A.
Ponferrada, RTC, Br. 104, Quezon City to provide him "x x x a certified true
"Section 5. The Supreme Court shall have the following powers:
copy of the Warrant of Execution dated November 17, 1998 bearing the
designated execution day of death convict Leo Echegaray and allow (him)
xxxxxxxxx
to reveal or announce the contents thereof, particularly the execution
date fixed by such trial court to the public when requested." The relevant
(5) Promulgate rules concerning the protection and enforcement of
portions of the Manifestation and Urgent Motion filed by the Secretary of
constitutional rights, pleading, practice and procedure in all courts, the
Justice beseeching this Court "to provide the appropriate relief" state:
admission to the practice of law, the Integrated Bar, and legal assistance
to the underprivileged. Such rules shall provide a simplified and xxxxxxxxx
inexpensive procedure for the speedy disposition of cases, shall be
uniform for all courts of the same grade, and shall not diminish, increase, 5. Instead of filing a comment on Judge Ponferrada's Manifestation
or modify substantive rights. Rules of procedure of special courts and however, herein respondent is submitting the instant Manifestation and
quasi-judicial bodies shall remain effective unless disapproved by the Motion (a) to stress, inter alia, that the non-disclosure of the date of
Supreme Court." execution deprives herein respondent of vital information necessary for
the exercise of his statutory powers, as well as renders nugatory the
constitutional guarantee that recognizes the people's right to
9
information of public concern, and (b) to ask this Honorable Court to as to government research data used as basis for policy development,
provide the appropriate relief. shall be afforded the citizen, subject to such limitations as may be
provided by law.
6. The non-disclosure of the date of execution deprives herein
respondent of vital information necessary for the exercise of his power SEC. 28. Subject to reasonable conditions prescribed by law, the State
of supervision and control over the Bureau of Corrections pursuant to adopts and implements a policy of full public disclosure of all its
Section 39, Chapter 8, Book IV of the Administrative Code of 1987, in transactions involving public interest.
relation to Title III, Book IV of such Administrative Code, insofar as the
enforcement of Republic Act No. 8177 and the Amended Rules and 9. The `right to information' provision is self-executing. It supplies 'the
Regulations to Implement Republic Act No. 8177 is concerned and for rules by means of which the right to information may be enjoyed
the discharge of the mandate of seeing to it that laws and rules relative (Cooley, A Treatise on the Constitutional Limitations, 167 [1972]) by
to the execution of sentence are faithfully observed. guaranteeing the right and mandating the duty to afford access to
sources of information. Hence, the fundamental right therein recognized
7. On the other hand, the willful omission to reveal the information may be asserted by the people upon the ratification of the Constitution
about the precise day of execution limits the exercise by the President of without need for any ancillary act of the Legislature (Id., at p. 165) What
executive clemency powers pursuant to Section 19, Article VII (Executive may be provided for by the Legislature are reasonable conditions and
Department) of the 1987 Philippine Constitution and Article 81 of the limitations upon the access to be afforded which must, of necessity, be
Revised Penal Code, as amended, which provides that the death consistent with the declared State policy of full public disclosure of all
sentence shall be carried out `without prejudice to the exercise by the transactions involving public interest (Constitution, Art. II, Sec.
President of his executive clemency powers at all times."(Underscoring 28). However, it cannot be overemphasized that whatever limitation
supplied) For instance, the President cannot grant may be prescribed by the Legislature, the right and the duty under Art.
reprieve, i.e., postpone the execution of a sentence to a day certain III, Sec. 7 have become operative and enforceable by virtue of the
(People v. Vera, 65 Phil. 56, 110 [1937]) in the absence of a precise date adoption of the New Charter." (Decision of the Supreme Court En
to reckon with. The exercise of such clemency power, at this time, might Banc in Legaspi v. Civil Service Commission, 150 SCRA 530, 534-535
even work to the prejudice of the convict and defeat the purpose of the [1987]."
Constitution and the applicable statute as when the date of execution
set by the President would be earlier than that designated by the court. The same motion to compel Judge Ponferrada to reveal the date of
execution of petitioner Echegaray was filed by his counsel, Atty. Theodore
8. Moreover, the deliberate non-disclosure of information about the Te, on December 7, 1998. He invoked his client's right to due process and
date of execution to herein respondent and the public violates Section 7, the public's right to information. The Solicitor General, as counsel for
Article III (Bill of Rights) and Section 28, Article II (Declaration of public respondents, did not oppose petitioner's motion on the ground
Principles and State Policies) of the 1987 Philippine Constitution which that this Court has no more jurisdiction over the process of execution of
read: Echegaray. This Court granted the relief prayed for by the Secretary of
Justice and by the counsel of the petitioner in its Resolution of December
SEC. 7. The right of the people to information on matters of public 15, 1998. There was not a whimper of protest from the public respondents
concern shall be recognized. Access to official records, and to documents and they are now estopped from contending that this Court has lost its
and papers pertaining to official acts, transactions, or decisions, as well
10
jurisdiction to grant said relief. The jurisdiction of this Court does not any time amend R.A. No. 7659 by reducing the penalty of death to life
depend on the convenience of litigants. imprisonment. The effect of such an amendment is like that of
commutation of sentence. But by no stretch of the imagination can the
II
exercise by Congress of its plenary power to amend laws be considered as
Second. We likewise reject the public respondents' contention that a violation of the power of the President to commute final sentences of
the "decision in this case having become final and executory, its execution conviction. The powers of the Executive, the Legislative and the Judiciary
enters the exclusive ambit of authority of the executive department x x to save the life of a death convict do not exclude each other for the
x. By granting the TRO, the Honorable Court has in effect granted simple reason that there is no higher right than the right to life. Indeed,
reprieve which is an executive function."[14] Public respondents cite as in various States in the United States, laws have even been enacted
their authority for this proposition, Section 19, Article VII of the expressly granting courts the power to suspend execution of convicts and
Constitution which reads: their constitutionality has been upheld over arguments that they infringe
upon the power of the President to grant reprieves. For the public
"Except in cases of impeachment, or as otherwise provided in this respondents therefore to contend that only the Executive can protect the
Constitution, the President may grant reprieves, commutations, and right to life of an accused after his final conviction is to violate the
pardons, and remit fines and forfeitures after conviction by final principle of co-equal and coordinate powers of the three branches of our
judgment. He shall also have the power to grant amnesty with the government.
concurrence of a majority of all the members of the Congress."
III
The text and tone of this provision will not yield to the interpretation Third. The Court's resolution temporarily restraining the execution of
suggested by the public respondents. The provision is simply the source petitioner must be put in its proper perspective as it has been grievously
of power of the President to grant reprieves, commutations, and pardons distorted especially by those who make a living by vilifying
and remit fines and forfeitures after conviction by final judgment. It also courts. Petitioner filed his Very Urgent Motion for Issuance of TRO
provides the authority for the President to grant amnesty with the on December 28, 1998 at about 11:30 p.m. He invoked several grounds,
concurrence of a majority of all the members of the Congress. The viz: (1) that his execution has been set on January 4, the first working day
provision, however, cannot be interpreted as denying the power of courts of 1999; (b) that members of Congress had either sought for his executive
to control the enforcement of their decisions after their finality. In truth, clemency and/or review or repeal of the law authorizing capital
an accused who has been convicted by final judgment still punishment; (b.1) that Senator Aquilino Pimentel's resolution asking that
possesses collateral rights and these rights can be claimed in the clemency be granted to the petitioner and that capital punishment be
appropriate courts. For instance, a death convict who becomes insane reviewed has been concurred by thirteen (13) other senators; (b.2) Senate
after his final conviction cannot be executed while in a state of President Marcelo Fernan and Senator Miriam S. Defensor have publicly
insanity.[15] As observed by Antieau, "today, it is generally assumed that declared they would seek a review of the death penalty law; (b.3) Senator
due process of law will prevent the government from executing the death Raul Roco has also sought the repeal of capital punishment, and
sentence upon a person who is insane at the time of execution."[16] The (b.4) Congressman Salacrib Baterina, Jr., and thirty five (35) other
suspension of such a death sentence is undisputably an exercise of judicial congressmen are demanding review of the same law.
power. It is not a usurpation of the presidential power of reprieve though
When the Very Urgent Motion was filed, the Court was already in its
its effect is the same -- the temporary suspension of the execution of the
traditional recess and would only resume session on January 18, 1999.
death convict. In the same vein, it cannot be denied that Congress can at
11
Even then, Chief Justice Hilario Davide, Jr. called the Court to a Special disposed to review capital punishment. The public respondents, thru the
Session on January 4, 1999[17] at 10. a.m. to deliberate on petitioner's Very Solicitor General, cite posterior events that negate beyond doubt the
Urgent Motion. The Court hardly had five (5) hours to resolve petitioner's possibility that Congress will repeal or amend the death penalty law. He
motion as he was due to be executed at 3 p.m. Thus, the Court had the names these supervening events as follows:
difficult problem of resolving whether petitioner's allegations about the
xxx
moves in Congress to repeal or amend the Death Penalty Law are
mere speculations or not. To the Court's majority, there were good
"a. The public pronouncement of President Estrada that he will veto any
reasons why the Court should not immediately dismiss petitioner's
law repealing the death penalty involving heinous crimes.
allegations as mere speculations and surmises. They noted
that petitioner's allegations were made in a pleading under oath and
b. The resolution of Congressman Golez, et al., that they are against the
were widely publicized in the print and broadcast media. It was also of
repeal of the law;
judicial notice that the 11th Congress is a new Congress and has no less
than one hundred thirty (130) new members whose views on capital
c. The fact that Senator Roco's resolution to repeal the law only bears his
punishment are still unexpressed. The present Congress is therefore
signature and that of Senator Pimentel."[18]
different from the Congress that enacted the Death Penalty Law (R.A. No.
7659) and the Lethal Injection Law (R.A. No. 8177). In contrast, the Court's
In their Supplemental Motion to Urgent Motion for Reconsideration,
minority felt that petitioner's allegations lacked clear factual bases. There
the Solicitor General cited House Resolution No. 629 introduced by
was hardly a time to verify petitioner's allegations as his execution was set
Congressman Golez entitled "Resolution expressing the sense of the
at 3 p.m. And verification from Congress was impossible as Congress was
House of Representatives to reject any move to review R.A. No. 7659
not in session. Given these constraints, the Court's majority did not rush
which provided for the reimposition of death penalty, notifying the
to judgment but took an extremely cautious stance by temporarily
Senate, the Judiciary and the Executive Department of the position of the
restraining the execution of petitioner. The suspension was temporary - -
House of Representatives on this matter and urging the President to
- "until June 15, 1999, coeval with the constitutional duration of the
exhaust all means under the law to immediately implement the death
present regular session of Congress, unless it sooner becomes certain
penalty law." The Golez resolution was signed by 113 congressmen as of
that no repeal or modification of the law is going to be made." The
January 11, 1999. In a marathon session yesterday that extended up to 3
extreme caution taken by the Court was compelled, among others, by the
o'clock in the morning, the House of Representatives with minor
fear that any error of the Court in not stopping the execution of the
amendments formally adopted the Golez resolution by an overwhelming
petitioner will preclude any further relief for all rights stop at the
vote. House Resolution No. 25 expressed the sentiment that the House "x
graveyard. As life was at stake, the Court refused to constitutionalize
x x does not desire at this time to review Republic Act 7659." In addition,
haste and the hysteria of some partisans. The Court's majority felt it
the President has stated that he will not request Congress to ratify the
needed the certainty that the legislature will not change the circumstance
Second Protocol in view of the prevalence of heinous crimes in the
of petitioner as alleged by his counsel. It was believed that law and
country. In light of these developments, the Court's TRO should now be
equitable considerations demand no less before allowing the State to take
lifted as it has served its legal and humanitarian purpose.
the life of one its citizens.
A last note. In 1922, the famous Clarence Darrow predicted that "x x
The temporary restraining order of this Court has produced its
x the question of capital punishment has been the subject of endless
desired result, i.e., the crystallization of the issue whether Congress is
discussion and will probably never be settled so long as men believe in
12
punishment."[19] In our clime and time when heinous crimes continue to
be unchecked, the debate on the legal and moral predicates of capital
punishment has been regrettably blurred by emotionalism because of the
unfaltering faith of the pro and anti-death partisans on the right
and righteousness of their postulates. To be sure, any debate, even if it is
no more than an exchange of epithets is healthy in a democracy. But
when the debate deteriorates to discord due to the overuse of words
that wound, when anger threatens to turn the majority rule to tyranny,
it is the especial duty of this Court to assure that the guarantees of the
Bill of Rights to the minority fully hold. As Justice Brennan reminds us "x
x x it is the very purpose of the Constitution - - - and particularly the Bill of
Rights - - - to declare certain values transcendent, beyond the reach of
temporary political majorities."[20] Man has yet to invent a better
hatchery of justice than the courts. It is a hatchery where justice will
bloom only when we can prevent the roots of reason to be blown away
by the winds of rage. The flame of the rule of law cannot be ignited by
rage, especially the rage of the mob which is the mother of
unfairness. The business of courts in rendering justice is to be fair and
they can pass their litmus test only when they can be fair to him who is
momentarily the most hated by society.[21]
IN VIEW WHEREOF, the Court grants the public respondents' Urgent
Motion for Reconsideration and Supplemental Motion to Urgent Motion
for Reconsideration and lifts the Temporary Restraining Order issued in its
Resolution of January 4, 1999.
The Court also orders respondent trial court judge (Hon. Thelma A.
Ponferrada, Regional Trial Court, Quezon City, Branch 104) to set anew
the date for execution of the convict/petitioner in accordance with
applicable provisions of law and the Rules of Court, without further delay.
SO ORDERED.

13
In an Evaluation Report dated December 19, 1995, June L. Iway, Graft
Investigation Officer I of the OMB-Visayas, recommended that petitioners
[G.R. Nos. 140619-24. March 9, 2001] Rosalina T. Tolibas and Joselito Raniero J. Daan, Paymaster/Municipal
Treasurer and Timekeeper, respectively, should be included in the
complaint as respondents.
BENEDICTO E. KUIZON, JOSELITO RANIERO J. DAAN AND ROSALINA T. In an Order dated December 19, 1995, petitioners were ordered to
TOLIBAS, petitioners, vs. HON. ANIANO A. DESIERTO, in his file their counter-affidavits. On February 20, 1996, petitioners submitted
capacity as OMBUDSMAN and the HON. SANDIGANBAYAN their Answer with Special Affirmative Defenses,[3] attaching therewith the
(FOURTH DIVISION), respondents. counter-affidavits of petitioners Daan and Tolibas[4] as well as the
affidavits of several witnesses[5] to rebut the accusations of Saporas and
DECISION Zacarias Kuizon.

PUNO, J.: Meanwhile on November 15, 1995, Saporas filed another complaint
against petitioners with the Office of the Ombudsman, Manila docketed
This is a petition for certiorari under Rule 65 of the Rules of Court filed as OMB-2-96-0049. The complaint was referred to the Office of the
by incumbent Municipal Mayor of Bato, Leyte, Benedicto E. Kuizon, Deputy Ombudsman for the Visayas in an Indorsement dated January 29,
Joselito Raniero J. Daan and Rosalina T. Tolibas to set aside the approval 1996. On March 21, 1996, petitioners were required to file their
by the respondent Ombudsman Aniano A. Desierto of the Memorandum respective counter-affidavits. On April 22, 1996, petitioner Kuizon,
dated May 17, 1999 of Paul Elmer M. Clemente of the Office of the Chief assisted by Atty. Leo Giron, filed his counter-affidavit,[6] attaching
Legal Counsel, Office of the Ombudsman, recommending the prosecution therewith the counter-affidavits of petitioners Tolibas and Daan. OMB-
of herein petitioners. Visayas granted petitioners' Motion for Consolidation of Cases and Setting
of Hearing of the two (2) complaints.
The cases subject of this petition emanated from a complaint[1] filed
on December 8, 1995 by one Melanio Saporaswith the Office of the On May 28, 1996, complainant Saporas submitted the affidavits of
Ombudsman-Visayas (OMB-Visayas) against petitioner Benedicto Kuizon Ceferino Cedejana[7] and Concordio Cedejana[8]in support of his
for Nepotism and Malversation Thru Falsification of Public Documents in allegations in OMB-2-96-0049. Both Ceferino and Concordio made
connection with the forging of signatures of some casual laborers of Bato, virtually similar allegations as those made by Zacarias except the amounts
Leyte in the payroll slips of the municipality and the drawing of their representing their salaries for the month of February, 1995 which are
salaries on different dates. The case was docketed as OMB-VIS-CRIM-95- P2,136.00 and P1,157.00, respectively.
0646. Petitioners filed a Motion to Exclude the Affidavits of Ceferino and
Attached to Saporas' complaint is the affidavit of one Zacarias Kuizon Concordio[9] which was denied in an Order dated July 8, 1996. They filed
who claimed to have been formerly hired by petitioner Kuizon as a laborer their supplemental counter-affidavit on July 26, 1996 in compliance with
at Bato, Leyte. Petitioner Kuizon allegedly had already dispensed with the the order requiring them to do so. On separate dates, petitioners filed
services of Zacarias for the month of February, 1995 but the latter's their Joint Position Paper[10] and Joint Supplemental Memorandum.[11]
signature was forged in the payroll for the said month and somebody took On June 20, 1997, OMB-Visayas thru Graft Investigation Officer I
his salary in the amount of P890.00 for that period.[2] Samuel Malazarte issued a Resolution[12] in OMB-VIS-CRIM-95-0646 and

1
OMB-2-96-0049 recommending the filing of the Informations for their work and place of residence, the undersigned cannot give full
Malversation and Falsification of Public/Official Document on two (2) credence to the testimonies of said respondents' witnesses as against
counts each against all the petitioners before the Sandiganbayan.GIO the complainant's witnesses' specific denial of ownership of the
Malazarte recommended however the dismissal of the complaint for questioned signatures, for the purpose of this preliminary investigation.
nepotism against petitioner Kuizon. The pertinent portion of the said
Resolution states: From the claims of respondents Joselito Raniero J. Daan and Rosalina T.
Tolibas that they personally know the aforenamed complainant's
"While complainant's witnesses, Zacarias Kuizon, is shown to have used witnesses and had called their names, made them sign on the payroll[s]
two different signatures in signing documents, such as those found on a in question in their (respondents') presence and gave them their
Joint Affidavit and an Affidavit (Annexes "1" and "2", respectively, of corresponding salaries, a clear inference can be drawn that there was
respondent Mayor's Counter-Affidavit), yet there is no proof shown that collusion or connivance of the aforesaid respondents which is made
the aforesaid witness has affixed on any other document a signature more manifest by their respective certifications on the questioned Time
similar, if not exactly the same, as the questioned signature purportedly Book and Payrolls for the periods February 1 to 15, 1995, and February
that of the same witness appearing on the above-mentioned Time Book 16 to 28, 1995. And the respondent Mayor Benedicto E. Kuizon's
and Payroll for the period February 16 to 28, 1995. It is likewise not certification on the same questioned payrolls and his statement that he
shown that complainants' two other witnesses, Ceferino Cedejana and knows for a fact that the complainant's witnesses have actually worked
Concordio Cedejana, has [sic] signed on any other document signatures during the questioned period of February 1995 serve to complete the
similar, if not the same, as the questioned signature(s) appearing on the conspiracy."[13]
Time Book and payroll for the periods February 1 to 15, 1995 and
February 16 to 28, 1995, in the case of Ceferino Cedejana, and February The Resolution was approved by the respondent Ombudsman Aniano
1 to 15, 1995, in the case of Concordio Cedejana. Indeed, a person may A. Desierto on September 5, 1997.
use two or more signatures. But in a case as this, where the complainant,
Petitioners learned that four (4) Informations dated June 20, 1997
or his witnesses, specifically denied the particular signatures in question
were filed against them on September 16, 1997 with the
and imputed authorship of the falsifications thereof against the
Sandiganbayan[14] by the Office of the Ombudsman.[15] The cases were
respondents, who otherwise claimed that said questioned signatures
docketed as Criminal Case Nos. 24167[16] and 24169[17] for Falsification of
belong to the complainant's witnesses, it is incumbent upon the latter to
Public/Official Document and Criminal Case Nos. 24168[18] and
disprove the denial by solid evidence, such as a finding of a handwriting
24170[19]for Malversation of Public Funds.
examiner/expert - considering that they (respondents) are in possession
of the original documents bearing the allegedly falsified/forged On October 22, 1996, Saporas filed with the OMB-Visayas another
signatures. No such kind of evidence, however, was adduced. Affidavit-Complaint[20] for Malversation of Public Funds Thru Falsification
of Public Documents and violation of R.A. No. 3019, otherwise known as
The respondents relied heavily for corroboration on the testimonies of the Anti-Graft and Corrupt Practices Act against herein petitioners and
witnesses who, at one time or another, were co-workers/laborers of three others, namely, Municipal Treasurer Lolita S. Regana, Municipal
complainant's witnesses in the above-mentioned construction of [a] new Accountant Ofelia F. Boroy and Budget Officer Glafica R. Suico for alleged
Municipal Hall Building of Bato, Leyte. But owing to a high possibility that connivance in including in the payrolls for the construction of the
said respondents' witnesses were coaxed, influenced, or pressured into municipal building of Bato, Leyte, names of workers whose services were
signing the affidavits and to so testify, considering the circumstances of already terminated, making it appear that they still worked and received
2
salaries even after their termination from service. The affidavits of Andres maliciously appropriated by the respondents for their personal use. And
Soso Pague[21] and Danilo Cortes[22] were attached to the said complaint the Forgery and Malversation could only be committed by the persons
which was docketed as OMB-VIS-CRIM-96-1173 and OMB-VIS-ADM-96- who prepared and approved the payrolls, namely: Benedicto E. Kuizon,
0474. Joselito Rainero (sic) K. (sic) Daan and Rosalinda T. Tolibas. This is not a
farfetched conclusion because respondents Kuizon and Daan certified
Only petitioner Daan filed his counter-affidavit in OMB-VIS-CRIM-96-
that the persons whose names appeared in the payrolls had rendered
1173.[23] Petitioners Kuizon and Tolibas as well as the three (3) other
their services, while respondent Tolibas certified that he had paid in cash
respondents therein, namely, Regana, Boroy and Suico filed an
to the persons whose names appeared on the payrolls, the amount set
Answer/Counter-Affidavits/Manifestation in OMB-VIS-ADM-96-
opposite their names, they having presented themselves, established
0474[24] as shown in the caption of their pleading. Attached therewith
their identity and affixed their signatures or thumb marks on the space
were the affidavits of petitioners' witnesses Felipe Cortez[25], Melquiades
provided therefor.
Jupista, Alberto Gerongco, Noel Umapas,[26]Jhonny Mario, Ricardo Garao,
Savino Kuizon,[27] Domingo Echevarre,[28] Alfonso Tabale, Alberto
This Office also finds that the falsification was committed to conceal the
Gerongco, Romeo Marino, Vicente Marino[29] and Marciano Bohol.[30]
malversation, the payrolls having been used by the above-named
On July 28, 1997, OMB-Visayas thru Graft Investigation Officer I respondents as supporting documents to liquidate the cash advances
Venerando Ralph P. Santiago, Jr. issued a Resolution[31] in OMB-VIS-CRIM- they had received for the payment of the salaries of the workers."[32]
96-1173 finding sufficient grounds to hold petitioners for trial for
Malversation of Public Funds and Falsification of Public Documents. The The Resolution was approved by the respondent Ombudsman Aniano
Resolution reads in part, thus: A. Desierto on September 19, 1997.
Upon verification, the petitioners learned that two (2)
"Joselito Rainero (sic) K. (sic) Daan, the lone respondent who filed his
Informations[33] both dated July 28, 1997 were filed against them in
counter-affidavit, claimed that Danilo S. Cortez and Andres S. Pague,
September, 1997 by the Office of the Ombudsman with the
personally signed the payrolls. If these were true, then Messrs. Cortez
Sandiganbayan.[34] The cases were docketed as Criminal Case Nos. 24195
and Pague must have worked during those times indicated in the
for Malversation of Public Funds and 24196 for Falsification of Public
payrolls when their names appeared. But according to them they worked
Documents.
only for less than one month, and this allegation was not controverted
by the respondents - even by the answering respondent. How could they Petitioners filed two (2) separate Motions for Reinvestigation[35] both
have claimed their salaries without working for these? dated October 4, 1997 in Criminal Case Nos. 24167 to 24170 and Criminal
Case Nos. 24195 to 24196. Petitioners likewise filed a Motion for
The claim of respondent Daan is even belied by the copies of the payrolls Consolidation of Criminal Case Nos. 24195 and 24196 with the four (4)
attached to the complaint. A scrutiny between the signatures of Danilo S. other cases which was granted by the Sandiganbayan (Third Division) in
Cortez and Andres S. Pague in their affidavits and those in the payrolls its Order[36] dated October 30, 1997.
reveals a striking difference, especially that of Danilo S. Cortez in the
In an Order dated November 24, 1997,[37] the Sandiganbayan (Fourth
payrolls for the months of November and December, 1995 (pp. 22, 24 &
Division) granted the two (2) Motions for Reinvestigation filed by the
28, record). This dissimilarity of signatures of Messrs. Cortez and Pague
petitioners. On June 10, 1999, Special Prosecution Officer II Lemuel M. De
in their affidavits and in the payrolls is sufficient to form a well founded
belief that the latter documents had been forged and their salaries were
3
Guzman filed a Manifestation[38] with the Sandiganbayan which reads as Thereafter, the Sandiganbayan set the criminal cases for hearing on
follows: August 16, 18 to 20, 1999. Petitioner Daan filed with the Sandiganbayan
an Urgent Motion for Reinvestigation and to Defer Arraignment[40] dated
"1. In a Memorandum dated August 19, 1998, a certified true copy of August 12, 1999. In an Order dated August 16, 1999, the motion was
which is hereto attached and made an integral part hereof as Annex "A", denied by the Sandiganbayan.[41] Petitioners were arraigned on the same
the undersigned terminated action on the two (2) Motions for date and they all pleaded "not guilty" to the crimes charged.[42] The pre-
Reconsideration dated October 4, 1997 filed by all the accused as well as trial and the trial on the merits were then set upon agreement of the
the Counter-Affidavit dated February 7, 1998 filed by accused Benedicto parties.
E. Kuizon in the above-captioned cases and recommended the exclusion
On September 6, 1999, petitioners filed a petition before the Court
of accused Mayor Benedicto E. Kuizon as party-accused therein and to
of Appeals captioned "Benedicto E. Kuizon, et al. vs. Hon. Aniano A.
remand the case to the regular court for the prosecution of accused
Desierto, et al." and docketed as CA-G.R. SP No. 54898, assailing the
Joselito Ramiero (sic) K. (sic) Daan and Rosalina T. Tolibas.
approval by the respondent Aniano A. Desierto of the Memorandum of
his Legal Counsel which recommended the continued prosecution of the
2. On September 8, 1998, the Honorable Special Prosecutor Leonardo P.
petitioners. The Court of Appeals issued a temporary restraining order in
Tamayo required Special Prosecution Officer Norberto B. Ruiz to take a
a Resolution dated September 17, 1999. On even date, petitioners filed a
second look into the undersigned's memorandum. In another
Motion for Suspension of Proceedings and/or Postponement with the
Memorandum dated November 16, 1998, a certified true copy of which
Sandiganbayan.
is hereto attached and made [an] integral part hereof as Annex "B",
Prosecutor Ruiz recommended the affirmation of the previous On October 19, 1999, the Court of Appeals promulgated a
memorandum, which the Honorable Special Prosecutor concurred in. Resolution[43] which states:

3. On May 7, 1999, before acting on the cases, the Honorable "Per the decision of the Supreme Court in the case of Teresita G. Fabian
Ombudsman referred the records thereof to the Office of the Chief Legal vs. Aniano A. Desierto, G.R. No. 129742, September 16, 1998, the
Counsel (OCLC) '(F)or review considering that OSP seeks to reverse the jurisdiction of this Court extends only to decisions of the Office of the
Ombudsman's findings.' Ombudsman in administrative cases. The cases involved in the instant
petition are criminal cases.
4. In a Memorandum dated May 17, 1999, a certified true copy of which
is hereto attached and made [an] integral part hereof as Annex "C", WHEREFORE, the petition for certiorari is DENIED DUE COURSE and
OCLC recommended the continued prosecution of all the accused 'there accordingly DISMISSED, for lack of jurisdiction."[44]
being no cogent grounds to warrant a reversal of the finding of probable
cause by OMB-Visayas.' This memorandum was approved by the On November 4, 1999, petitioners filed the instant petition based on
Honorable Ombudsman on June 1, 1999 and, accordingly, the the following grounds:
undersigned's memorandum was disapproved with the following
marginal note: 'Prosecution of all the accused shall proceed as "A. The Office of the Ombudsman committed grave abuse of discretion
recommended by OCLC.'"[39] amounting to lack of jurisdiction when it deprived herein petitioners of
the opportunity to file motions for reconsideration of the resolutions of
the Office of Ombudsman-Visayas (Annexes "G" and "M" hereof);[45]
4
B. The Honorable Ombudsman Aniano A. Desierto committed grave 65 questioning resolutions or orders of the Office of the Ombudsman in
abuse of discretion amounting to lack of jurisdiction when he approved criminal cases.[51]
the Memorandum of Legal Counsel Paul Elmer M. Clemente (Annex "C",
In dismissing petitioners' petition for lack of jurisdiction, the Court of
Manifestation of Special Prosecution Officer Lemuel De Guzman) despite
Appeals cited the case of Fabian vs. Desierto.[52] The appellate court
the fact that no reinvestigation was conducted with respect to herein
correctly ruled that its jurisdiction extends only to decisions of the Office
petitioners Joselito Raniero J. Daan and Rosalina T. Tolibas;[46]
of the Ombudsman in administrative cases.[53] In the Fabian case, we
ruled that appeals from decisions of the Office of the Ombudsman
C. The Honorable Ombudsman Aniano A. Desierto committed grave
in administrative disciplinary cases should be taken to the Court of
abuse of discretion amounting to lack of jurisdiction when he approved
Appeals under Rule 43 of the 1997 Rules of Civil Procedure. It bears
the Memorandum of Legal Counsel Paul Elmer M. Clemente (Annex "C",
stressing that when we declared Section 27 of Republic Act No. 6770[54] as
Manifestation of Special (sic) Prosecution Lemuel De Guzman to the
unconstitutional, we categorically stated that said provision is involved
Sandiganbayan) reinstating the prosecution of the criminal cases as
only whenever an appeal by certiorari under Rule 45 is taken from a
against petitioner Benedicto Kuizon;[47] and
decision in an administrative disciplinary action. It cannot be taken into
account where an original action for certiorari under Rule 65 is resorted
D. The Honorable Sandiganbayan, with due respect, also committed
to as a remedy for judicial review, such as from an incident in a criminal
grave abuse of discretion amounting to lack of jurisdiction in proceeding
action.[55] In fine, we hold that the present petition should have been filed
with the trial of the cases against herein petitioners."[48]
with this Court.
On December 1, 1999, this Court issued a Status Quo Order. It follows that the instant petition was filed late. A petition for
certiorari should be filed not later than sixty (60) days from notice of the
We will first dispose of the procedural issues raised by the
judgment, order or resolution sought to be assailed.[56] The present
parties. Respondent alleges that the petition was filed out of time
petition was filed with this Court only on November 24, 1999 which is
considering that more than sixty (60) days had elapsed from the time
more than sixty (60) days from the time petitioners were notified of the
respondent Sandiganbayan's Order dated August 16, 1999 denying
adverse resolutions issued by the Office of the Ombudsman. The
petitioners' Motion to Defer Arraignment and petitioner Daan's Urgent
erroneous filing of the petition with the Court of Appeals did not toll the
Motion for Reinvestigation and to Defer Arraignment was rendered. The
running of the period.
erroneous filing by the petitioners of their petition with the Court of
Appeals did not allegedly toll the running of the period to file the same But even on its merit, the petition cannot succeed. Petitioners
with this Court.[49] In reply thereto, petitioners submit that the 60-day primarily invoke denial of due process. They contend that they were not
period should not be strictly applied to them considering that they accorded the opportunity to file a Motion for Reconsideration since they
originally filed their petition with the Court of Appeals within the were not furnished copies of the adverse Resolutions issued by the OMB-
prescribed period. They maintain that the Court of Appeals has Visayas prior to their approval by the respondent Ombudsman
concurrent jurisdiction with this Court on special civil actions for certiorari Desierto. The Office of the Ombudsman allegedly railroaded the
under Rule 65 applying the doctrine in St. Martin Funeral Homes vs. preliminary investigation of the cases in violation of Sections 6 and 7 of
National Labor Relations Commission.[50] Petitioners now raise the issue Administrative Order No. 07, as amended by Administrative Order No. 09
as to which court has jurisdiction over petitions for certiorari under Rule which provides that:

5
"Sec. 6. Notice to parties. - The parties shall be served with a copy of the (g) Upon the termination of the preliminary investigation, the
resolution as finally approved by the Ombudsman or by the proper investigation officer shall forward the records of the case together with
Deputy Ombudsman. his resolution to the designated authorities for their appropriate action
thereon.
Sec. 7. Motion for Reconsideration. -
No information may be filed and no complaint may be dismissed
(a) Only one motion for reconsideration or reinvestigation of an without the written authority or approval of the Ombudsman in cases
approved order or resolution shall be allowed, the same to be filed falling within the jurisdiction of the Sandiganbayan, or of the proper
within five (5) days from notice thereof with the Office of the Deputy Ombudsman in all other cases." (emphasis supplied)
Ombudsman, or the Deputy Ombudsman as the case may be.
Prescinding from the foregoing discussions, the resolutions which
(b) x x x x x x x x x." must be furnished to the petitioners refer to those approved by the
respondent Ombudsman. Respondent alleges that copies of the
Section 6 of the aforequoted provision speaks of two (2) approving challenged Resolutions as approved by the Honorable Ombudsman on
authorities with respect to resolutions issued by the Office of the different dates[59] were sent to the parties by registered mail on
Ombudsman. Hence, the phrase "as finally approved by the Ombudsman September 12, 1997 and September 24, 1997, respectively.[60] Petitioners
or by the proper Deputy Ombudsman." deny having received copies of these resolutions.
The issue is not of momentous legal significance for non-compliance
As succinctly discussed in the respondent's Comment, it is the
with Sections 6 and 7 of Administrative Order No. 7 does not affect the
procedure in the Office of the Ombudsman that any Memorandum and/or
validity of the Informations filed with the Sandiganbayan. In the case
Resolution of any criminal case pending before its Office which involves
of Pecho vs. Sandiganbayan,[61] we held:
high ranking officials under R.A. 8249[57] should have the approval of the
Ombudsman before the same may be released and considered the official
"Equally devoid of merit is the alleged non-compliance with Sections 6
action of the Office of the Ombudsman. Since petitioner Kuizon falls under
and 7, Rule II of the Rules of Procedure of the Office of the
the category of high ranking officials under R. A. 8249 who is charged with
Ombudsman. The presumption of regularity in the performance of
conspiracy with the other two (2) petitioners, the Resolutions dated June
official duty on the part of the investigating Prosecutor was not
20, 1997 and July 28, 1997 need the approval of the Honorable
rebutted. Moreover, the failure to furnish the respondent with a copy
Ombudsman.[58] This finds support in Sec. 4 (g), Rule II of Administrative
of an adverse resolution pursuant to Section 6 which reads:
Order No. 07 which provides:
'SEC. 6. Notice to parties. - The parties shall be served with a copy of
"Sec. 4. Procedure. - The preliminary investigations of cases falling under
the resolution as finally approved by the Ombudsman or by the proper
the jurisdiction of the Sandiganbayan and Regional Trial Courts shall be
Deputy Ombudsman.'
conducted in the manner prescribed in Section 3, Rule 112 of the Rules
of Court, subject to the following provisions:
does not affect the validity of an information thereafter filed even if a
copy of the resolution upon which the information is based was not
xxxxxxxxx
served upon the respondent. The contention that the provision is

6
mandatory in order to allow the respondent to avail of the 15-day Petitioners filed their Answer with Special Affirmative Defenses in OMB-
period to file a motion for reconsideration or reinvestigation is not VIS-CRIM-95-0646. Petitioner Kuizon filed his Counter-Affidavit together
persuasive for under Section 7 of the said Rule, such motion may, with the attached affidavits of petitioners Tolibas and Daan in OMB-2-96-
nevertheless, be filed and acted upon by the Ombudsman if so directed 0049. When petitioners learned that four (4) Informations were filed
by the court where the information was filed. Finally, just as in the case against them, they filed a Motion for Reinvestigation which the
of lack of or irregularity in the conduct of the preliminary investigation, a Sandiganbayan granted. It is clear therefore that petitioners were not
party, like the petitioner herein, should have seasonably questioned the deprived of due process.
procedural error at any time before he entered his plea to the charge.
We now come to the issue raised by petitioners Daan and Tolibas that
His failure to do so amounted to a waiver or abandonment of what he
there was no reinvestigation conducted on them. It appears from the
believed was his right under Sections 6 and 7, Rule II of the Rules of
records that the Office of the Special Prosecutor who was authorized to
Procedure of the Office of the Ombudsman."[62] (emphasis supplied)
conduct the reinvestigation of the cases did not notify petitioners Daan
and Tolibas of the proceedings. Only petitioner Kuizon filed his counter-
Petitioners further allege that the OMB-Visayas resolved the case in
affidavit which was solely considered by Special Prosecutor Lemuel de
OMB-CRIM-96-1173 solely on the basis of the complaint of Saporas and
Guzman in his Memorandum.[66] Be that as it may, we rule against the
the affidavits of Cortes and Pague. Petitioners' Answer/ Counter-
petitioners. The procedural defect was waived by petitioners when they
Affidavits/ Manifestation were allegedly ignored.[63] The contention is
entered their plea of "not guilty" to the informations. The settled rule is
belied by the records of the case. Petitioners were all required to file their
that when an accused pleads to the charge, he is deemed to have waived
counter-affidavits but only petitioner Daan complied. Petitioners (except
the right to preliminary investigation and the right to question any
Daan) must perforce suffer the consequences of their inaction.
irregularity that surrounds it.[67] The invalidity or absence of a preliminary
Petitioners also claim that their Answer/Counter- investigation does not affect the jurisdiction of the court which may have
Affidavits/Manifestation was intended for both the administrative as well taken cognizance of the information nor impair the validity of the
as the criminal complaints. The records reveal otherwise. The docket information or otherwise render it defective.[68]
number in the said pleading's caption which states "OMB-VIS-ADM-96-
The petitioners further asseverate that respondent Desierto gravely
0474" indicates that it is for the administrative case only. The fault lies
abused his discretion when he simply approved the recommendation of
with the petitioners when they indicated therein an incomplete docket
the Legal Counsel recommending the filing of informations in court
number. It is their duty to see to it that all the entries in their pleading
despite the clear absence of reasonable justification.[69] We reject
including its caption are accurate. If indeed the petitioners committed an
petitioners' claim. What is involved is merely a review and affirmation by
oversight in placing the wrong or incomplete docket number in their
the respondent Ombudsman of the findings made by the investigating
pleading, they should have filed the proper motion or manifestation to
prosecutor. He need not restate the facts and elaborate on the applicable
correct the purported inaccuracies. It is not the obligation of the Office of
law. In Cruz, Jr. vs. People,[70] we held:
the Ombudsman to supply or supplant any deficiency found in the
litigants' pleadings.
"It may seem that the ratio decidendi of the Ombudsman's order may be
The essence of due process is reasonable opportunity to be heard and wanting but this is not a case of a total absence of factual and legal bases
submit evidence in support of one's defense.[64]What the law proscribes is nor a failure to appreciate the evidence presented. What is actually
lack of opportunity to be heard.[65] The facts show that preliminary involved here is merely a review of the conclusion arrived at by the
investigations were conducted prior to the filing of the Informations. investigating prosecutor as a result of his study and analysis of the
7
complaint, counter-affidavits, and the evidence submitted by the parties the fiscals or prosecuting attorneys each time they decide to file an
during the preliminiary investigation. The Ombudsman here is not information in court or dismiss a complaint by a private complainant."[75]
conducting anew another investigation but is merely determining the
propriety and correctness of the recommendation given by the Equally unmeritorious is the petitioners' claim that the
investigating prosecutor, that is, whether probable cause actually exists Sandiganbayan committed grave abuse of discretion in proceeding with
or not, on the basis of the findings of the latter. Verily, it is discretionary the trial of their cases. The Sandiganbayan granted petitioners' motion for
upon the Ombudsman if he will rely mainly on the findings of fact of the reinvestigation. It correctly denied petitioner Daan's subsequent Motion
investigating prosecutor in making a review of the latter's report and for Reinvestigation and to Defer Arraignment in view of the respondent
recommendation, as the Ombudsman can very well make his own Ombudsman's final action to proceed with the prosecution of the
findings of fact. There is nothing to prevent him from acting one way or cases. Jurisdiction has been acquired by the Sandiganbayan over the
the other. x x x"[71] person of the petitioners as they appeared at the arraignment and
pleaded not guilty to the crimes charged.
In case of conflict in the conclusions of the Ombudsman and the
WHEREFORE, the petition is DISMISSED and the Sandiganbayan is
special prosecutor, it is self-evident that the former's decision shall prevail
hereby ORDERED to proceed with the trial of the cases at bar with
since the Office of the Special Prosecutor is under the supervision and
dispatch. Costs against petitioners.
control of the Ombudsman.[72] The action of the respondent Ombudsman
in disapproving the findings of Special Prosecutor De Guzman and SO ORDERED.
approving that of Legal Counsel Clemente does not per se constitute grave
abuse of discretion.
Petitioners Daan and Tolibas also claim that their evidence consisting
of the affidavit of Pague will show that there is no probable cause to indict
them. The contention lacks merit. We reiterate the rule of long standing
that in the absence of grave abuse of discretion, this Court will not
interfere with the exercise by the Ombudsman of his constitutionally
mandated investigatory and prosecutory powers.[73] His findings of
probable cause are entitled to great respect. The rationale behind the said
rule has been aptly discussed in Ocampo, IV vs. Ombudsman,[74] thus:

"The rule is based not only upon respect for the investigatory and
prosecutory powers granted by the Constitution to the Office of the
Ombudsman but upon practicality as well. Otherwise, the functions of
the courts will be grievously hampered by innumerable petitions
assailing the dismissal of investigatory proceedings conducted by the
Office of the Ombudsman with regard to complaints filed before it, in
much the same way that the courts would be extremely swamped if they
could be compelled to review the exercise of discretion on the part of

8
DOMINGO NEYPES, LUZ FAUSTINO, ROGELIO FAUSTINO, LOLITO
VICTORIANO, JACOB were: (1) the motion filed by petitioners to declare the respondent heirs,
OBANIA AND DOMINGO CABACUNGAN,
the Bureau of Lands and the Bureau of Forest Development in default and
Petitioners,
-versus– (2) the motions to dismiss filed by the respondent heirs and the Land Bank
HON. COURT OF APPEALS, HEIRSOF BERNARDO DEL MUNDO,
namely: FE, CORAZON, JOSEFA, SALVADOR and CARMEN, all surnamed DEL of the Philippines, respectively.
MUNDO, LAND BANK
OF THE PHILIPPINES AND HON. ANTONIO N. ROSALES, Presiding Judge, Branch
In an order dated May 16, 1997, the trial court, presided by public
43, Regional Trial Court, Roxas, Oriental Mindoro,
Respondents. respondent Judge Antonio N. Rosales, resolved the foregoing motions as
G.R. No. 141524 September 14, 2005
follows: (1) the petitioners motion to declare respondents Bureau of
DECISION
Lands and Bureau of Forest Development in default was granted for their
CORONA, J.: failure to file an answer, but denied as against the respondent heirs of del

Mundo because the substituted service of summons on them was


Petitioners Domingo Neypes, Luz Faustino, Rogelio Faustino,
improper; (2) the Land Banks motion to dismiss for lack of cause of action
Lolito Victoriano, Jacob Obania and Domingo Cabacungan filed an action
was denied because there were hypothetical admissions and matters that
for annulment of judgment and titles of land and/or reconveyance and/or could be determined only after trial, and (3) the motion to dismiss filed by

reversion with preliminary injunction before the Regional Trial Court, respondent heirs of del Mundo, based on prescription, was also denied

Branch 43, of Roxas, Oriental Mindoro, against the Bureau of Forest because there were factual matters that could be determined only after

trial.[1]
Development, Bureau of Lands, Land Bank of the Philippines and the heirs

of Bernardo del Mundo, namely, Fe, Corazon, Josefa, Salvador and The respondent heirs filed a motion for reconsideration of the

Carmen. order denying their motion to dismiss on the ground that the trial court

could very well resolve the issue of prescription from the bare allegations
In the course of the proceedings, the parties (both petitioners and
of the complaint itself without waiting for the trial proper.
respondents) filed various motions with the trial court. Among these
1
In an order[2] dated February 12, 1998, the trial court dismissed their motion for reconsideration. When they filed their notice of appeal

petitioners complaint on the ground that the action had already on July 27, 1998, only five days had elapsed and they were well within the

prescribed. Petitioners allegedly received a copy of the order of dismissal reglementary period for appeal.[7]

on March 3, 1998 and, on the 15th day thereafter or on March 18, 1998,
On September 16, 1999, the Court of Appeals (CA) dismissed the
filed a motion for reconsideration. On July 1, 1998, the trial court issued
petition. It ruled that the 15-day period to appeal should have been
another order dismissing the motion for reconsideration[3] which
reckoned from March 3, 1998 or the day they received the February 12,
petitioners received on July 22, 1998. Five days later, on July 27, 1998,
1998 order dismissing their complaint. According to the appellate court,
petitioners filed a notice of appeal[4] and paid the appeal fees on August
the order was the final order appealable under the Rules. It held further:
3, 1998.
Perforce the petitioners tardy appeal was correctly
dismissed for the (P)erfection of an appeal within the
On August 4, 1998, the court a quo denied the notice of appeal,
reglementary period and in the manner prescribed by law
holding that it was filed eight days late.[5] This was received by petitioners is jurisdictional and non-compliance with such legal
requirement is fatal and effectively renders the judgment
on July 31, 1998. Petitioners filed a motion for reconsideration but this too final and executory.[8]
was denied in an order dated September 3, 1998.[6]

Petitioners filed a motion for reconsideration of the aforementioned


Via a petition for certiorari and mandamus under Rule 65 of the
decision. This was denied by the Court of Appeals on January 6, 2000.
1997 Rules of Civil Procedure, petitioners assailed the dismissal of the

notice of appeal before the Court of Appeals.


In this present petition for review under Rule 45 of the Rules, petitioners

ascribe the following errors allegedly committed by the appellate court:


In the appellate court, petitioners claimed that they had

seasonably filed their notice of appeal. They argued that the 15-day

reglementary period to appeal started to run only on July 22, 1998 since
I
this was the day they received the final order of the trial court denying
2
THEREBY IGNORING THE PECULIAR FACTS AND
THE HONORABLE COURT OF APPEALS ERRED IN CIRCUMSTANCES OF THIS CASE AND THE FACT THAT THE
DISMISSING THE PETITIONERS PETITION FOR CERTIORARI SAID DECISION WAS RENDERED PRIOR TO THE
AND MANDAMUS AND IN AFFIRMING THE ORDER OF THE ENACTMENT OF THE 1997 RULES OF CIVIL PROCEDURE.[9]
HON. JUDGE ANTONIO N. ROSALES WHICH DISMISSED THE
PETITIONERS APPEAL IN CIVIL CASE NO. C-36 OF THE
REGIONAL TRIAL COURT, BRANCH 43, ROXAS, ORIENTAL The foregoing issues essentially revolve around the period within which
MINDORO, EVEN AFTER THE PETITIONERS HAD PAID THE
petitioners should have filed their notice of appeal.
APPEAL DOCKET FEES.
First and foremost, the right to appeal is neither a natural right nor a part
II
of due process. It is merely a statutory privilege and may be exercised only
THE HONORABLE COURT OF APPEALS LIKEWISE ERRED IN
in the manner and in accordance with the provisions of law. Thus, one
RULING AND AFFIRMING THE DECISION OR ORDER OF THE
RESPONDENT HON. ANTONIO M. ROSALES THAT who seeks to avail of the right to appeal must comply with the
PETITIONERS APPEAL WAS FILED OUT OF TIME WHEN
PETITIONERS RECEIVED THE LAST OR FINAL ORDER OF THE requirements of the Rules. Failure to do so often leads to the loss of the
COURT ON JULY 22, 1998 AND FILED THEIR NOTICE OF
APPEAL ON JULY 27, 1998 AND PAID THE APPEAL DOCKET right to appeal.[10] The period to appeal is fixed by both statute and
FEE ON AUGUST 3, 1998. procedural rules. BP 129,[11] as amended, provides:
III Sec. 39. Appeals. The period for appeal from final orders,
resolutions, awards, judgments, or decisions of any court
THE HONORABLE COURT OF APPEALS FURTHER ERRED IN in all these cases shall be fifteen (15) days counted from
RULING THAT THE WORDS FINAL ORDER IN SECTION 3, the notice of the final order, resolution, award, judgment,
RULE 41, OF THE 1997 RULES OF CIVIL PROCEDURE WILL or decision appealed from. Provided, however, that in
REFER TO THE [FIRST] ORDER OF RESPONDENT JUDGE habeas corpus cases, the period for appeal shall be (48)
HON. ANTONIO M. MORALES DATED FEBRUARY 12, 1998 forty-eight hours from the notice of judgment appealed
INSTEAD OF THE LAST AND FINAL ORDER DATED JULY 1, from. x x x
1998 COPY OF WHICH WAS RECEIVED BY PETITIONERS
THROUGH COUNSEL ON JULY 22, 1998.

IV. Rule 41, Section 3 of the 1997 Rules of Civil Procedure states:

THE HONORABLE COURT OF APPEALS FINALLY ERRED IN SEC. 3. Period of ordinary appeal. ― The appeal shall be
FINDING THAT THE DECISION IN THE CASE OF DENSO, INC. taken within fifteen (15) days from the notice of the
V. IAC, 148 SCRA 280, IS APPLICABLE IN THE INSTANT CASE judgment or final order appealed from. Where a record
3
on appeal is required, the appellant shall file a notice of
appeal and a record on appeal within thirty (30) days from What therefore should be deemed as the final order, receipt of
the notice of judgment or final order.
which triggers the start of the 15-day reglementary period to appeal the
The period to appeal shall be interrupted by a timely February 12, 1998 order dismissing the complaint or the July 1, 1998 order
motion for new trial or reconsideration. No motion for
extension of time to file a motion for new trial or dismissing the MR?
reconsideration shall be allowed. (emphasis supplied)
In the recent case of Quelnan v. VHF Philippines, Inc.,[13] the trial

court declared petitioner Quelnan non-suited and accordingly dismissed


Based on the foregoing, an appeal should be taken within 15 days from his complaint. Upon receipt of the order of dismissal, he filed an omnibus
the notice of judgment or final order appealed from. A final judgment or motion to set it aside. When the omnibus motion was filed, 12 days of the
order is one that finally disposes of a case, leaving nothing more for the 15-day period to appeal the order had lapsed. He later on received
court to do with respect to it. It is an adjudication on the merits which, another order, this time dismissing his omnibus motion. He then filed his
considering the evidence presented at the trial, declares categorically notice of appeal. But this was likewise dismissed ― for having been filed
what the rights and obligations of the parties are; or it may be an order or out of time.
judgment that dismisses an action.[12] The court a quo ruled that petitioner should have appealed within

15 days after the dismissal of his complaint since this was the final order
As already mentioned, petitioners argue that the order of July 1, 1998
that was appealable under the Rules. We reversed the trial court and
denying their motion for reconsideration should be construed as the final
declared that it was the denial of the motion for reconsideration of an
order, not the February 12, 1998 order which dismissed their complaint.
order of dismissal of a complaint which constituted the final order as it
Since they received their copy of the denial of their motion for
was what ended the issues raised there.
reconsideration only on July 22, 1998, the 15-day reglementary period to

appeal had not yet lapsed when they filed their notice of appeal on July This pronouncement was reiterated in the more recent case of Apuyan v.
27, 1998. Haldeman et al.[14] where we again considered the order denying

4
petitioner Apuyans motion for reconsideration as the final order which In Quelnan and Apuyan, both petitioners filed a motion for

finally disposed of the issues involved in the case. reconsideration of the decision of the trial court. We ruled there that they

only had the remaining time of the 15-day appeal period to file the notice
Based on the aforementioned cases, we sustain petitioners view that the
of appeal. We consistently applied this rule in similar cases,[16] premised
order dated July 1, 1998 denying their motion for reconsideration was
on the long-settled doctrine that the perfection of an appeal in the
the final order contemplated in the Rules.
manner and within the period permitted by law is not only mandatory but
We now come to the next question: if July 1, 1998 was the start of
also jurisdictional.[17] The rule is also founded on deep-seated
the 15-day reglementary period to appeal, did petitioners in fact file their
considerations of public policy and sound practice that, at risk of
notice of appeal on time?
occasional error, the judgments and awards of courts must become final

Under Rule 41, Section 3, petitioners had 15 days from notice of at some definite time fixed by law.[18]

judgment or final order to appeal the decision of the trial court. On the
Prior to the passage of BP 129, Rule 41, Section 3 of the 1964
th
15 day of the original appeal period (March 18, 1998), petitioners did not
Revised Rules of Court read:
file a notice of appeal but instead opted to file a motion for
Sec. 3. How appeal is taken. Appeal maybe taken
reconsideration. According to the trial court, the MR only interrupted the by serving upon the adverse party and filing with the trial
court within thirty (30) days from notice of order or
running of the 15-day appeal period.[15] It ruled that petitioners, having
judgment, a notice of appeal, an appeal bond, and a
filed their MR on the last day of the 15-day reglementary period to appeal, record on appeal. The time during which a motion to set
aside the judgment or order or for new trial has been
had only one (1) day left to file the notice of appeal upon receipt of the pending shall be deducted, unless such motion fails to
satisfy the requirements of Rule 37.
notice of denial of their MR. Petitioners, however, argue that they were

entitled under the Rules to a fresh period of 15 days from receipt of the But where such motion has been filed during office
hours of the last day of the period herein provided, the
final order or the order dismissing their motion for reconsideration. appeal must be perfected within the day following that in
which the party appealing received notice of the denial of
said motion.[19] (emphasis supplied)

5
under exceptional circumstances, a delay in the filing of an appeal may be

According to the foregoing provision, the appeal period previously excused on grounds of substantial justice. There, we condoned the delay

consisted of 30 days. BP 129, however, reduced this appeal period to 15 incurred by the appealing party due to strong considerations of fairness

days. In the deliberations of the Committee on Judicial and justice.

Reorganization[20] that drafted BP 129, the raison d etre behind the In setting aside technical infirmities and thereby giving due course

amendment was to shorten the period of appeal[21] and enhance the to tardy appeals, we have not been oblivious to or unmindful of the

efficiency and dispensation of justice. We have since required strict extraordinary situations that merit liberal application of the Rules. In

observance of this reglementary period of appeal. Seldom have we those situations where technicalities were dispensed with, our decisions

condoned late filing of notices of appeal,[22] and only in very exceptional were not meant to undermine the force and effectivity of the periods set

instances to better serve the ends of justice. by law. But we hasten to add that in those rare cases where procedural

rules were not stringently applied, there always existed a clear need to
In National Waterworks and Sewerage Authority and Authority v.
prevent the commission of a grave injustice. Our judicial system and the
[23]
Municipality of Libmanan, however, we declared that appeal is an
courts have always tried to maintain a healthy balance between the strict
essential part of our judicial system and the rules of procedure should not
enforcement of procedural laws and the guarantee that every litigant be
be applied rigidly. This Court has on occasion advised the lower courts to
given the full opportunity for the just and proper disposition of his
be cautious about not depriving a party of the right to appeal and that
cause.[25]
every party litigant should be afforded the amplest opportunity for the
The Supreme Court may promulgate procedural rules in all
proper and just disposition of his cause, free from the constraint of
courts.[26] It has the sole prerogative to amend, repeal or even establish
technicalities.
new rules for a more simplified and inexpensive process, and the speedy

disposition of cases. In the rules governing appeals to it and to the Court


In de la Rosa v. Court of Appeals,[24] we stated that, as a rule,
of Appeals, particularly Rules 42,[27] 43[28] and 45,[29] the Court allows
periods which require litigants to do certain acts must be followed unless,

6
extensions of time, based on justifiable and compelling reasons, for pronouncement is not inconsistent with Rule 41, Section 3 of the Rules

parties to file their appeals. These extensions may consist of 15 days or which states that the appeal shall be taken within 15 days from notice of

more. judgment or final order appealed from. The use of the disjunctive word or

signifies disassociation and independence of one thing from another. It


To standardize the appeal periods provided in the Rules and to
should, as a rule, be construed in the sense in which it ordinarily
afford litigants fair opportunity to appeal their cases, the Court deems it
implies.[33] Hence, the use of or in the above provision supposes that the
practical to allow a fresh period of 15 days within which to file the notice
notice of appeal may be filed within 15 days from the notice of judgment
of appeal in the Regional Trial Court, counted from receipt of the order
or within 15 days from notice of the final order, which we already
dismissing a motion for a new trial or motion for reconsideration. [30]
determined to refer to the July 1, 1998 order denying the motion for a

Henceforth, this fresh period rule shall also apply to Rule 40 new trial or reconsideration.

governing appeals from the Municipal Trial Courts to the Regional Trial
Neither does this new rule run counter to the spirit of Section 39
Courts; Rule 42 on petitions for review from the Regional Trial Courts to
of BP 129 which shortened the appeal period from 30 days to 15 days to
[31]
the Court of Appeals; Rule 43 on appeals from quasi-judicial agencies to
hasten the disposition of cases. The original period of appeal (in this case
the Court of Appeals and Rule 45 governing appeals by certiorari to the
March 3-18, 1998) remains and the requirement for strict compliance still
[32]
Supreme Court. The new rule aims to regiment or make the appeal
applies. The fresh period of 15 days becomes significant only when a
period uniform, to be counted from receipt of the order denying the
party opts to file a motion for new trial or motion for reconsideration. In
motion for new trial, motion for reconsideration (whether full or partial)
this manner, the trial court which rendered the assailed decision is given
or any final order or resolution.
another opportunity to review the case and, in the process, minimize
We thus hold that petitioners seasonably filed their notice of
and/or rectify any error of judgment. While we aim to resolve cases with
appeal within the fresh period of 15 days, counted from July 22, 1998 (the
dispatch and to have judgments of courts become final at some definite
date of receipt of notice denying their motion for reconsideration). This
time, we likewise aspire to deliver justice fairly.
7
WHEREFORE, the petition is hereby GRANTED and the assailed
In this case, the new period of 15 days eradicates the confusion as
decision of the Court of Appeals REVERSED and SET ASIDE. Accordingly,
to when the 15-day appeal period should be counted from receipt of
let the records of this case be remanded to the Court of Appeals for
notice of judgment (March 3, 1998) or from receipt of notice of final order
further proceedings.
appealed from (July 22, 1998).

No costs.
To recapitulate, a party litigant may either file his notice of appeal

within 15 days from receipt of the Regional Trial Courts decision or file it SO ORDERED.

within 15 days from receipt of the order (the final order) denying his

motion for new trial or motion for reconsideration. Obviously, the new 15-

day period may be availed of only if either motion is filed; otherwise, the

decision becomes final and executory after the lapse of the original appeal

period provided in Rule 41, Section 3.

Petitioners here filed their notice of appeal on July 27, 1998 or five

days from receipt of the order denying their motion for reconsideration

on July 22, 1998. Hence, the notice of appeal was well within the fresh

appeal period of 15 days, as already discussed.[34]

We deem it unnecessary to discuss the applicability of Denso (Philippines),

Inc. v. IAC[35] since the Court of Appeals never even referred to it in its

assailed decision.

8
In a Decision dated January 14, 2009, the MeTC found petitioner
G.R. No. 197582 June 29, 2015 criminally and civilly liable for the issuance of the six rubber checks. For
each count of violation of BP 22 involving a check with a face value of
JULIE S. SUMBILLA, Petitioner, ₱6,667.00, the MeTC meted petitioner a penalty of fine amounting to
vs. ₱80,000.00, with subsidiary imprisonment. Her civil liability for the six
MATRIX FINANCE CORPORATION, Respondent. consolidated cases was computed in the total amount of ₱40,002.00.
The fallo of the decision provides:
DECISION
WHEREFORE, the Court renders judgment finding accused Julie S.
VILLARAMA, JR., J.: Sumbilla GUILTY beyond reasonable doubt of six counts of violation of
Batas Pambansa Big. 22. For each count, she is sentenced to pay n. fine
In this petition for review on certiorari under Rule 45 of the 1997 Rules of ₱80,000.00, with subsidiary imprisonment in case of non-payment.
of Civil Procedure, as amended, petitioner Julie S. Sumbilla seeks the She is likewise ORDERED to indemnify private complainant Matrix
liberal application of procedural rules to correct the penalty imposed in Finance Corporation the total amount of ₱40,002.00 plus 12% annual
the Decision1dated January 14, 2009 of the Metropolitan Trial Court legal interest from September 21, 2002 until full payment.
(MeTC) of Makati City, Branch 67, in Criminal Case Nos. 321169 to
321174 which had already attained finality in view of petitioner's failure No costs.
to timely file an appeal.
SO ORDERED.2 (Emphasis and underscoring added.)
The antecedent facts are not disputed.
Instead of filing a Notice of Appeal, petitioner opted to file a Motion for
Petitioner obtained a cash loan . from respondent Matrix Finance Reconsideration3 before the MeTC. The Motion was denied in the
Corporation. As partial payment for her loan, petitioner issued Philippine Order4 dated April 17, 2009 being a pleading barred under the Revised
Business Bank Check Nos. 0032863 to 0032868. The six checks have a Rules on Summary Procedure. The MeTC further noted that the
uniform face value of ₱6,667.00 each. prohibited motion for reconsideration filed by the petitioner will not
suspend the running of the period to perfect an appeal.
Upon maturity, the six checks were presented by respondent to the
drawee bank for payment. However, all the checks were dishonored on Subsequently, the Notice of Appeal filed by petitioner was also denied
the ground that they were drawn against a closed account. for having been filed beyond the 15-day reglementary period.

Petitioner's refusal to heed the demand letter of respondent for the With the denial5 of her Motion for Reconsideration of the Order denying
payment of the face value of the dishonored checks culminated in her her appeal, petitioner filed a petition for certiorari6 under Rule 65 of the
indictment for six counts of violation of Batas Pambansa Blg. 22 (BP 22). Rules which was docketed as SCA No. 09-1125 and raffled off to Branch
The cases were docketed as Criminal Case Nos. 321169 to 321174, and 61, Regional Trial Court (RTC) of Makati City.
were raffled off to Branch 67, MeTC of Makati.
Ruling that the MeTC did not act with grave abuse of discretion in
denying the Notice of Appeal filed by petitioner, the RTC dismissed7 the
1
petition for certiorari. The Motion for Reconsideration8 filed by Respondent countered that the right to appeal being a mere statutory
petitioner met the same fate of dismissal.9 privilege can only be exercised in accordance with the rules, and the lost
appeal cannot be resurrected through the present remedial recourse of
Petitioner elevated the case to the Court of Appeals (CA) via a petition a petition for review on certiorari.
for review10 under Rule 42 of the Rules of Court. The CA, however, ruled
that an ordinary appeal under Section 2(a), Rule 41 of the Rules of Court The main issue to be resolved is whether the penalty imposed in the
is the correct remedy under the circumstances because the RTC MeTC Decision dated January 14, 2009, which is already final and
rendered the decision in the petition for certiorari under Rule 65 of the executory, may still be modified.
Rules of Court in the exercise of its original jurisdiction.11
The petition is meritorious.
On July 27, 2011, after she received a copy of the June 28, 2011
Resolution12 of the CA denying her Motion for Petitioner does not dispute the finality of the Decision dated January 14,
Reconsideration,13 petitioner filed a motion for extension of time to file 2009 in Criminal Case Nos. 321169 to 321174 rendered by the MeTC,
the instant petition.14 finding her guilty beyond reasonable doubt of six counts of violation of
BP 22. For every count of violation of BP 22 involving a check with a face
On August 11, 2011, petitioner filed her Petition for Review on value of ₱6,667.00, petitioner was meted a penalty of fine of PS0,000.00,
Certiorari15 within the period of extension granted in our with subsidiary imprisonment in case of non-payment. She assails the
Resolution16 dated September 7, 2011. She ascribed to the CA a sole penalty for being out of the range of the penalty prescribed in Section 1
error: of BP 22, and the subsidiary imprisonment to be violative of
Administrative Circular Nos. 12-2000 and 13-2001, and the holdings in
THE HONORABLE COURT OF APPEALS ERRED IN DENYING THE PETITION Vaca v. Court of Appeals.20 Petitioner asserted that the maximum
FOR CERTIORARI ON TECHNICALITY AND NOT EXERCISING ITS POSITIVE penalty of fine that can be imposed against her in each count of violation
DUTY OF GIVING DUE IMPORTANCE ON THE SUBSTANTIVE AND of BP 22 is double the amount of the face value of the dishonored check
CONSTITUTIONAL RIGHTS OF THE PETITIONER DESPITE A CLEAR only or ₱13,334.00. The fine of PS0,000.00 for each count is thus
PRESENCE OF SUCH VIOLATION OF LAW AS DEFINED BY PETITIONER IN excessive. She further implied that the imposition of subsidiary
HER PETITION WHICH COULD HAVE MERIT A FULL DECISION BY A imprisonment contravened Section 20 of Article III of the Constitution
HIGHER COURT.17 which proscribes imprisonment as a punishment for not paying a debt.

Petitioner acknowledged18 the procedural lapse of filing a petition for Section 1 of BP 22 provides:
certiorari under Rule 65 of the Rules of Court instead of an ordinary
appeal before the CA. She also fully grasped19 the effects of her SECTION 1. Checks without sufficient funds. - Any person who makes or
erroneous filing of the Motion for Reconsideration to challenge the draws and issues any check to apply on account or for value, knowing at
MeTC Decision finding her guilty of six counts of violation of BP 22. the time of issue that he does not have sufficient funds in or credit with
Knowing that her conviction had already attained finality, petitioner the drawee bank for the payment of such check in full upon its
seeks the relaxation of the rules of procedure so that the alleged presentment, which check is subsequently dishonored by the drawee
erroneous penalty imposed by the MeTC can be modified to make it in bank for insufficiency of funds or credit or would have been dishonored
accord with existing law and jurisprudence. for the same reason had not the drawer, without any valid reason,
2
ordered the bank to stop payment, shall be punished by imprisonment Under the doctrine of finality and immutability of judgments, a decision
of not less than thirty days but not more than one (1) year or by a fine of that has acquired finality becomes immutable and unalterable and may
not less than but not more than double the amount of the check which no longer be modified in any respect, even if the modification is meant
fine shall in no case exceed Two hundred thousand pesos, or both such to correct erroneous conclusions of fact or law, and whether it will be
fine and imprisonment at the discretion of the court. made by the court that rendered it or by the highest court of the
land.22 Upon finality of the judgment, the Court loses its jurisdiction to
x x x x (Emphasis supplied) amend, modify or alter the same.23

The court may thus impose any of the following alternative penalties Nonetheless, the immutability of final judgments is not a hard and fast
against an accused found criminally liable for violating BP 22: (1) rule. The Court has the power and prerogative to suspend its own rules
imprisonment of not less than 30 days, but not more than one year; or and to exempt a case from their operation if and when justice requires
(2) a fine of not less or more than double the amount of the check, and it.24 After all, procedural rules were conceived to aid the attainment of
shall in no case exceed ₱200,000.00; or (3) both such fine and justice. If a stringent application of the rules would hinder rather than
imprisonment. The discretion to impose a single (imprisonment or fine) serve the demands of substantial justice, the former must yield to the
or conjunctive (fine and imprisonment) penalty pertains to the court. latter,25 as specifically mandated under Section 2, Rule 1 of the Rules of
Court:
If fine alone is the penalty imposed, the maximum shall be double the
amount of the face value of the rubber check which in no case should SEC. 2. Construction. - These rules shall be liberally construed in order to
exceed ₱200,000.00. promote their object and to assist the parties in obtaining just, speedy,
and inexpensive determination of every action and proceeding.
Here, the face value of each of the six checks that bounced is ₱6,667.00.
Under Section 1 of BP 22, the maximum penalty of fine that can be Consequently final and executory judgments were reversed when the
imposed on petitioner is only 1!13,334.00, or the amount double the interest of substantial justice is at stake and where special and
face value of each check. Indubitably, the MeTC meted the petitioner a compelling reasons called for such actions.26 In Barnes v. Judge
penalty of fine way beyond the maximum limits prescribed under Section Padilla,27 we declared as follows:
1 of BP 22. The fine of ₱80,000.00 is more than 11 times the amount of
the face value of each check that was dishonored. x x x a final and executory judgment can no longer be attacked by any of
the parties or be modified, directly or indirectly, even by the highest
Instead of using as basis the face value of each check (₱6,667.00), the court of the land.
MeTC incorrectly computed the amount of fine using the total face value
of the six checks (₱40,002.00). The same error occurred in Abarquez v. However, this Court has relaxed this rule in order to serve substantial
Court of Appeals,21 where we modified the penalty of fine imposed in justice considering (a) matters of life, liberty, honor or property, (b) the
one of the consolidated cases therein (Criminal Case No. D-8137) to only existence of special or compelling circumstances, (c) the merits of the
double the amount of the face value of the subject check. case, (d) a cause not entirely attributable to the fault or negligence of
the party favored by the suspension of the rules, (e) a lack of any
Unfortunately, in the present case, the MeTC Decision is already final showing that the review sought is merely frivolous and dilatory, and (f)
and executory after petitioner failed to timely file a Notice of Appeal. the other party will not be unjustly prejudiced thereby.
3
Invariably, rules of procedure should be viewed as mere tools designed minimum of which should only be within the range of 2 years, 4 months
to facilitate the attainment of justice. Their strict and rigid application, and 1 day to 6 years of prision correccional, while the maximum should
which would result in technicalities that tend to frustrate rather than only be anywhere between 11 years, 8 months and 1 day of prision
promote substantial justice, must always be eschewed. Even the Rules of mayor to 13 years of reclusion temporal. Substantial justice demands
Court reflects this principle. The power to suspend or even disregard that we suspend our Rules in this case. "It is always within the power of
rules can be so pervasive and compelling as to alter even that which this the court to suspend its own [R]ules or except a particular case from its
Court itself had already declared to be final. operation, whenever the purposes of justice require. x x x Indeed, when
there is a strong showing that a grave miscarriage of justice would result
The judgment of conviction was already final in Rigor v. The from the strict application of the Rules, this Court will not hesitate to
Superintendent, New Bilibid Prison28 when the Court corrected the relax the same in the interest of substantial justice." Suspending the
minimum and maximum periods of the indeterminate sentence imposed Rules is justified "where there exist strong compelling reasons, such as
on the accused which exceeded the period of the imposable penalty. The serving the ends of justice and preventing a miscarriage thereof." After
correction was made in the interest of justice and only for the penalty all, the Court's "primordial and most important duty is to render justice x
imposed against petitioner to be in accordance with law and nothing x x."34 All the accused in Almuete v. People,35 People v. Barro,36Estrada v.
else.29 People,37 and Rigor v. The Superintendent, New Bilibid Prison,38 failed to
perfect their appeal on their respective judgments of conviction, but the
Both People v. Gatward,30 and People v. Barro31 cited the duty and Court corrected the penalties imposed, notwithstanding the finality of
inherent power of the Court to correct the erroneous penalties meted the decisions because they were outside the range of penalty prescribed
on the accused in a final and executory judgments, and make it conform by law. There is, thus, no reason to deprive the petitioner in the present
to the penalty prescribed by law. case of the relief afforded the accused in the cited cases. Verily, a
sentence which imposes upon the defendant in a criminal prosecution a
The interest of justice and the duty and inherent power of the Court penalty in excess of the maximum which the court is authorized by law
were the reasons anchored upon in Estrada v. People32 in ruling that it is to impose for the offense for which the defendant was convicted, is void
befitting to modify the penalty imposed on petitioner even though the for want or excess of jurisdiction as to the excess.39
notice of appeal was belatedly filed.
Here, the penalty imposed is obviously out of range of that prescribed in
In Almuete v. People,33 the penalty imposed upon the petitioner which is Section 1 of BP 22. Moreover, since the term of the subsidiary
outside the range of the penalty prescribed by law was duly corrected imprisonment is based on the total amount of the fine or one day for
even if it was already final on the ground of substantial justice, thus: each amount equivalent to the highest minimum wage rate prevailing in
the Philippines at the time of the rendition of judgment of conviction by
In this case, it cannot be gainsaid that what is involved is the life and the trial court,40 if petitioner is insolvent, she will suffer a longer prison
liberty of petitioner.1awp++i1 If his penalty of imprisonment remains sentence. Substantial justice dictates that the penalty of fine meted on
uncorrected, it would be not conformable with law and he would be the petitioner be accordingly corrected within the maximum limits
made to suffer the penalty of imprisonment of 18 years, 2 months and prescribed under Section 1 of BP 22. Hence, the penalty of fine of
21 days of reclusion temporal as minimum, to 40 years of reclusion ₱80,000.00 meted on petitioner in Criminal Case Nos. 321169 to 321174
perpetua, as maximum, which is outside the range of the penalty for each count of violation of BP 22 is corrected to double the face value
prescribed by law. Contrast this to the proper imposable penalty the of each rubber check involved or ₱13,334.00 only.
4
Anent the alleged violation of Vaca v. Court of Appeals,41 and more appropriate penalty. Needless to say, the determination of
Administrative Circular No. 12-200042 that supposedly limited to fine the whether the circumstances warrant the imposition of a fine alone rests
imposable penalty for violation of BP 22, and without any subsidiary solely upon the Judge. Should the Judge decide that imprisonment is the
imprisonment, suffice it to quote the clarifications in Administrative more appropriate penalty, Administrative Circular No. 12-2000 ought not
Circular No. 13-2001, issued on February 14, 2001: be deemed a hindrance.

x x x queries have been made regarding the authority of Judges to It is, therefore, understood that

1. Impose the penalty of imprisonment for violations of Batas 1 . Administrative Circular 12-2000 does not remove imprisonment as an
Pambansa Big. 22; and alternative penalty for violations of B.P Big. 22;

2. Impose subsidiary imprisonment in the event that the accused, xxxx


who is found guilty of violating the provisions of B. P Big. 2 2, is
unable to pay the fine which he is sentenced to pay considering 3. Should only a fine be imposed and tile accused be unable to pay the
that Administrative Circular No. 12-2000 adopted the rulings in fine, there is no legal obstacle to the application of the Revised Penal
Eduardo Vaca v. Court of Appeals (G.R. No. 131714, 16 Code provisions on subsidiary imprisonment.
November 1998, 298 SCRA 656) and Rosa Lim v. People of the
Philippines (G.R. No. 130038, 18 September 2000) as a policy of x x x x43 (Italics in the original; emphasis added)
the Supreme Court on the matter of the imposition of penalties
for violations of B. P Big. 22, without mentioning whether In like manner, the issue of whether BP 22 violates Section 20 of Article
subsidiary imprisonment could be resorted to in case of the III of the Constitution which proscribes imprisonment as a punishment
accused's inability to pay the fine. for not paying a debt was already settled in the negative in Lozano v.
Martinez.44Pertinent portions of the Decision in the Lozano case read:
The clear tenor and intention of Administrative Circular No. 12-2000 is
not to remove imprisonment as an alternative penalty, but to lay down a Has BP 22 transgressed the constitutional inhibition against
rule of preference in the application of the penalties provided for in B.P. imprisonment for debt? x x x
Big. 22.
The gravamen of the offense punished by BP 22 is the act of making and
The pursuit of this purpose clearly does not foreclose the possibility of issuing a worthless check or a check that is dishonored upon its
imprisonment for violators of B.P. Big. 22. Neither does it defeat the presentation for payment.1âwphi1 It is not the non-payment of an
legislative intent behind the law. obligation which the law punishes. The law is not intended or designed
to coerce a debtor to pay his debt. The thrust of the law is to prohibit,
Thus, Administrative Circular No. 12-2000 establishes a rule of under pain of penal sanctions, the making of worthless checks and
preference in the application of the penal provisions of B.P. Big. 22 such putting them in circulation. Because of its deleterious effects on the
that where the circumstances of both the offense and the offender public interest, the practice is proscribed by the law. The law punishes
clearly indicate good faith or a clear mistake of fact without taint of the act not as an offense against property, but an offense against public
negligence, the imposition of a fine alone should be considered as the order.
5
xxxx

In sum, we find the enactment of BP 22 a valid exercise of the police


power and is not repugnant to the constitutional inhibition against
imprisonment for debt.45 (Emphasis added) WHEREFORE, the petition is
GRANTED. In the interest of justice, the Decision dated January 14, 2009
of Branch 67, Metropolitan Trial Court of Makati City in Criminal Case
Nos. 321169 to 321174 is MODIFIED.

Accused Julie S. Sumbilla is hereby found GUILTY beyond reasonable


doubt of six counts of violation of Batas Pambansa Big. 22, and is
sentenced to pay a FINE of THIRTEEN THOUSAND AND THREE HUNDRED
THIRTY-FOUR PESOS (₱13,334.00) for each count, and to indemnify
private complainant Matrix Finance Corporation the total amount of
₱40,002.00 plus 6% interest per annum from September 21, 2002 until
full payment.

No pronouncement as to costs.

SO ORDERED.

6
knowledge of one Melanie A. Gozmo, a 15 year old minor, against her
will and consent, to the damage and prejudice of the latter.
[G.R. Nos. 137278-79. February 17, 2003]
CONTRARY TO LAW.[3]

That same day, another information for the same offense was filed
PEOPLE OF THE PHILIPPINES, plaintiff-appellee, vs. FRIVALDO against appellant Apuyan. Docketed as Criminal Case No. 95-3919, it
BESMONTE y LORENOand SONNY APUYAN y MORIN, accused- averred:
appellants.
That on or about the 31st day of May 1994 at about 12:00 oclock
D E C I S I ON midnight and for several occasions and dates thereafter, at barangay
Hubo, Municipality of Magallanes, Province of Sorsogon, Philippines, and
QUISUMBING, J.: within the jurisdiction of this Honorable Court, the above-named
accused, armed with a knife, with lewd designs and by means of force,
On appeal is the consolidated judgment[1] of the Regional Trial Court violence and/or intimidation, did then and there, willfully, unlawfully,
of Sorsogon, Sorsogon, Branch 52, dated September 7, 1998, in Criminal and feloniously have carnal knowledge of one Melanie A. Gozmo, a 15
Cases Nos. 95-3918-19, finding herein appellants Frivaldo Besmonte y year old minor, against her will and consent, to the damage and
Loreno and Sonny Apuyan y Morin guilty of rape and sentencing them to prejudice of the latter.
suffer the penalty of reclusion perpetua.
The young victim in these cases, Melanie A. Gozmo,[2] is related to the CONTRARY TO LAW.[4]
appellants. Apuyan is the brother of her mother, while Besmonte is the
second husband of Melanies maternal grandmother. She was staying at On July 27, 1995, appellant Besmonte was arraigned in Criminal Case
the house of the appellant Apuyan, where appellant Besmonte likewise No. 95-3918 and with assistance of counsel, pleaded not guilty to the
resided, at the time of the rapes complained of. charge.

On June 6, 1995, the Office of the Provincial Prosecutor for Sorsogon Appellant Apuyan was, in turn, arraigned on September 25, 1995 and
filed an information for rape against appellant Besmonte. Docketed as duly assisted by counsel de officio, likewise entered a plea of not guilty.
Criminal Case No. 95-3918, the accusatory portion of the charge sheet The two cases were then consolidated and jointly tried.
read as follows:
The prosecution presented two witnesses: Agnes Hinanay, a paternal
That on or about the 15th day of December, 1994, at about 12:00 oclock first cousin of the victim, and the private complainant, Melanie A. Gozmo.
noon at Barangay Hubo, Municipality of Magallanes, Province of Agnes Hinanay testified that on April 17, 1995, she paid the victim a
Sorsogon, Philippines, and within the jurisdiction of this Honorable visit at appellant Apuyans house in Hubo, Magallanes, Sorsogon.[5] Agnes
Court, the above-named accused, armed with a bladed instrument, with noticed that private complainant was pregnant.[6] When Agnes asked
lewd designs and by means of force, violence and/or intimidation, did Melanie about her pregnancy, the latter revealed that she was raped by
then and there, willfully, unlawfully and feloniously have carnal appellant Apuyan on May 31, 1994 and on several other occasions

1
thereafter.[7] Melanie further disclosed to her that on December 15, 1994, delivered a boy on August 25, 1995.[25] At the time she was raped, Melanie
appellant Besmonte also raped her.[8] was only 15 years old.[26]
After learning about the rapes, Agnes then took Melanie and her Appellants raised the defenses of denial and alibi.
siblings to live with her at Binisitihan Norte, Magallanes, Sorsogon.[9]
In his defense, appellant Apuyan testified that on May 31, 1994, he
On April 17, 1995, Agnes reported the rape of Melanie at the was in the barangay proper of Hubo, Magallanes having a drinking spree
Magallanes Police Station where she executed a sworn statement.[10] with his friends Rowan Perdigon, Ryan de los Santos, and Noel de los
Santos.[27] They started drinking gin from four oclock in the afternoon to
Agnes likewise brought the victim to a doctor where an examination
ten oclock in the evening.[28] They consumed a dozen bottles of gin. He
confirmed that she was pregnant.[11]The victim gave birth to a baby boy in
then staggered home and upon reaching his house, he fell into a drunken
1995.[12]
sleep.[29] He only woke up the following morning. At that time, there were
Private complainant testified that after the death of her father in 13 persons inside his house, which had two rooms.[30] He slept alone while
1992, she was brought by her mother to Hubo, Magallanes, Sorsogon to the rest slept side by side.[31] He denied raping Melanie. He likewise
live in the house of her uncle, appellant Apuyan.[13] At about midnight of denied executing a counter-affidavit which stated that he was ready to
May 31, 1994, while complainant was sleeping in said house, Apuyan marry Melanie as she was carrying his child.[32]
undressed her and placed himself on top of her.[14] She was awakened and
For his part, appellant Besmonte declared that he could not have
found herself in the nude. She tried to resist appellant but she was
raped Melanie on December 15, 1994 since on that date he was in
overpowered when he poked a knife at her neck.[15] Appellant then thrust
Sorsogon, Sorsogon buying bamboo to be used in the mussel farm
his phallus into her vagina[16] and let it in and let it out.[17] Melanie felt pain
(tahungan) of a certain Zaldy.[33] He worked at said mussel farm from May
and her private parts bled as a result.[18] After, Apuyan had satiated his
30, 1994 to January 1, 1995.[34] It was only on the latter date that he found
libidinous desires, he warned her not to tell anybody about the incident,
time to return to Hubo, Magallanes and he stayed there only for three
as otherwise, he would kill her and her siblings.[19]
days. Afterwards, he returned to Sorsogon, Sorsogon. Besmonte could not
Melanie also claimed that on the night of December 15, 1994, while think of any reason why the victim should charge him with rape.[35] He said
she was sleeping at Apuyans house, her grandmothers husband, he treated her like his own child and even sent her to school.[36] He was
Besmonte, placed himself on top of her and inserted his penis inside her also unaware of any bad blood between him and Agnes Hinanay.[37]
vagina.[20] She was not able to resist as Besmonte threatened to kill her
To corroborate appellant Besmontes alibi his wife, Rosalina Apuyan,
and her siblings, if she would report the matter.[21] Although it was dark,
testified that from May 1994 to December 1994, he was in Sorsogon,
she was able to recognize Besmonte by his voice and underarm odor.[22]
Sorsogon.[38] It was only on January 1995 that he visited
Despite the threats, Melanie reported the incidents to her mother them.[39]According to Rosalina, her granddaughter, Melanie, could not
and her grandmother. The mother did nothing while the grandmother have been raped given the circumstance that she slept side by side with
struck her with a piece of bamboo and told her not to make any fuss lest several persons. There were 12 persons who called Apuyans house their
the matter reach the barrio folks of Hubo, Magallanes.[23] Melanie then home. Melanie slept close to the room of the Besmontes, according to
revealed her plight to her cousin, prosecution witness Agnes Hinanay, and Rosalina. She could see Melanie from their room, if any of the appellants
her aunt, Elsa Mirandilla.[24] The two took her and her siblings away from approached her at night,[40] said the witness.
the house of appellant Apuyan, reported the matter to the police, and had
her examined by a doctor who advised her that she was pregnant. She
2
On September 7, 1998, the trial court promulgated its consolidated In sum, we find the issues to be: (1) the credibility of complaining
decision, thus: witness; (2) the sufficiency of the prosecutions evidence; and (3) the
identification of appellant Besmonte as one of the rapists.
WHEREFORE, premises considered, the Court finds accused Frivaldo
Appellants submit that the first and second issues are interrelated,
Besmonte y Loreno in Criminal Case No. 95-3918 and Sonny Apuyan y
hence jointly discussed.
Morin in Criminal Case No. 95-3919 guilty beyond reasonable doubt of
the crime of Rape under Art. 335 [of the Revised Penal Code] and hereby On the first and second issues, appellants assail Melanies testimony
sentences each of them [to] the penalty of RECLUSION PERPETUA and to as unworthy of belief and hence, a flimsy ground for their conviction. In
pay the sum of P50,000.00 each as civil indemnity and P10,000.00 as describing private complainants testimony as incredible, they ask us to
moral damages to the complainant without subsidiary imprisonment in note the fact that both times when she was allegedly raped, complainant
case of insolvency and to pay the cost. was lying beside and very close to her siblings. Yet neither her brother nor
her sister was awakened. Appellants assert that this is very much contrary
In the service of their sentence, they shall be credited with the full to common knowledge and human experience. Appellants argue that it is
period of their confinement pursuant to law. difficult to believe that appellants raped her at times when almost all
members of the family were present in the house.
SO ORDERED.[41]
For the appellee, the Office of the Solicitor General (OSG) points out
jurisprudence has recognized that rape can take place in circumstances of
Before us, appellants now appeal their conviction, imputing to the
crowding similar to that of the instant cases. Appellants cannot exonerate
trial court the following errors:
themselves by claiming that the crimes charged could not possibly take
I place since there were several other persons present inside the
house. Precedents abound undermining appellants contention.
THE TRIAL COURT ERRED IN RELYING HEAVILY ON THE INCREDIBLE
The presence of people nearby is no guarantee that rape will not be
TESTIMONY OF PRIVATE COMPLAINANT MELANIE GOZMO.
committed, for lust is no respecter of time and place.[43] Rape has been
committed in places where people congregate, like parks or school
II
premises and even in a house where there are other occupants.[44] There
is no rule or norm that a woman can only be raped in seclusion.[45] It has
THE TRIAL COURT ERRED IN NOT ACQUITTING THE ACCUSED-
been committed in a room adjacent to where other members of the family
APPELLANTS ON THE GROUND THAT HIS (sic) GUILT WAS NOT PROVED
stay or in a room, which the victim shared with others.[46] We have more
BEYOND REASONABLE DOUBT.
than once observed that rape could take place in the same room where
other members of the family were sleeping.[47] In the instant cases, both
III
rapes complained of were committed in the middle of the night. It is of
judicial notice that it is at this time when children are in deep slumber and
THE TRIAL COURT GRAVELY ERRED IN CONVICTING ACCUSED-APPELLANT
could not be easily awakened.[48] The fact that Melanies siblings were not
FRIVALDO BESMONTE DESPITE THE FACT THAT HE WAS NOT
awakened at the times she was ravished is not improbable. Hence,
SUFFICIENTLY IDENTIFIED.[42]
appellants thesis that it was impossible for them to have committed the

3
rape in the presence of private complainants siblings who were sleeping while testifying.[51] The crying of a victim during her testimony is evidence
next to her deserves scant consideration. of the truth of the rape charges, for the display of such emotion indicates
the pain that the victim feels when asked to recount her traumatic
Appellants ask us to discredit private complainants testimony
experience.[52] Melanie testified in a categorical, straightforward, and
because she was inconsistent in her account. They point out that when
frank manner, and she remained consistent under cross-examination. The
she testified as to how Apuyan raped her at knifepoint, she initially
inescapable conclusion is that she is a credible witness. The sole testimony
claimed that he poked a knife at her neck using her right hand, while his
of a rape victim, if credible, suffices to convict.[53]
left hand was cupped over her mouth. When grilled further, she changed
her statement and said that he propped himself up on the mat with his On the third issue, appellant Besmonte argues that his identification
right hand. Moreover, they say complainant had a poor memory and could by complaining witness as her rapist on December 15, 1994 is doubtful
hardly remember her birthday. Hence, they conclude that the trial court and cannot serve as the basis of his conviction, as it was undisputed that
should have taken great caution in giving credence to her testimony. the room where he supposedly raped Melanie had no illumination. Hence,
assuming arguendo, that she was indeed raped, it was improbable for her
The OSG counters that the alleged inconsistency is minor or trivial. It
to positively identify him as her assailant given the total darkness of the
pertains only to peripheral matters. Hence, it cannot impair private
surroundings. She only presumed that it was him on account of his
complainants credibility as a witness.
underarm odor. Besmonte contends that it would be unjust to conclude
In ruling upon Melanies credibility, the trial court found her that he was the real culprit on account of his underarm odor. After all, he
testimony to be forthright, clear, and free from serious is not the only person with that smell.
contradictions.[49] The trial courts assessment of complainants credibility,
The OSG, however, points out that private complainant was able to
considering that it had the advantage of observing her demeanor as she
identify Besmonte not just from his underarm smell but also from his
testified, is not easily discarded. The trial court judge is in the best position
voice. She was familiar with both, as the two of them had been living in
to determine the truthfulness of the complainants testimony. Unless it is
the same house for at least four years prior to her rape by Besmonte. Her
shown that the trial court overlooked, misunderstood, or misapplied
identification of Besmonte must be deemed both sufficient and
some fact or circumstance of weight or substance that would otherwise
indubitable, said the OSG.
affect the result of the case, its findings will not be disturbed on
appeal.[50] We find no compelling reason now to depart from said rule. We Appellant Besmontes bid for exoneration on the theory of doubtful
have carefully read the victims testimony and find that the discrepancy identification, in our view, is an exercise in futility. The absence of
harped upon by appellants focused more on her account of events illumination in the place of the commission of the crime does not detract
immediately preceding the rape by Apuyan. They did not zero in on her from the positive identification by Melanie of Besmonte as her ravisher.
narration of the crime itself. Complainants testimony may not be flawless, Although visibility is an important factor in the identification of a felon, its
but its substance, veracity, and weight were unaffected by the triviality of relative significance depends largely on the attending circumstances and
the alleged inconsistency. the discretion of the trial court.[54] We have held that the sense of smell,
in the right circumstances, might be a reliable mode of identification, but
What is material here is Melanies testimony on how she was sexually
it could also prove to be tenuous if it were the sole source of identification
abused. She positively identified appellants in open court as her ravishers
under circumstances that leave much room for other probabilities to
without any hesitation. Indeed, where the accusing words come from a
contend with.[55] In the case against Besmonte, there is not much room to
girl of tender years and they are directed against her own relatives, they
are difficult to disbelieve. We further note that Melanie broke out in tears
4
doubt the positive identification on account of the victims olfactory unwavering and categorical identification of appellant Apuyan as one of
faculties. her tormentors over this appellants feeble, self-serving, and
uncorroborated denial. Affirmative testimony from a credible witness is
The prosecutions case against Besmonte is founded on Melanies
stronger and more trustworthy than a bare negative testimony.[61]
familiarity with him. If she was not at all familiar with appellant Besmonte,
the prosecutions whole case against him collapses, for such familiarity was Equally unmeritorious is appellant Besmontes alibi that he could not
its very foundation. In the instant case, it was not disputed that Melanie have raped Melanie because he was in Sorsogon, Sorsogon from May
had lived in the same house with Besmonte for almost four years prior to 1994 to January 1995. For alibi to prosper, appellant must not only prove
the incident. In fact, Besmonte himself testified that he had treated her that he was somewhere else when the crime was committed, he must also
like a daughter and was even responsible for her schooling.[56] Thus, the convincingly demonstrate the physical impossibility of his presence at
basis for her identification was her long familiarity with Besmonte. She the locus criminis at the time of the incident.[62] In Besmontes case, it was
pointed to him because she knew him well prior to the sexual assault. not physically impossible for Besmonte to have been at the crime scene
Melanie was familiar with his body smell. No doubt she could perceive and at the time the rape was committed, in view of the trial courts observation
recognize that smell at the time of sexual contact. At that time, private that:
complainant was as close to Besmonte as was physically possible, for a
man and a woman could not be physically closer to each other than during It is of judicial notice that the poblacion of Magallanes can be reached
a sexual act.[57] Moreover, the victim did not solely rely upon her sense of thru a jeep, which is the means of transportation from the town of
smell in identifying her ravisher. She emphatically declared in open court Sorsogon for about one (1) hour only. Accused did not even present the
that she also recognized Besmonte from his voice[58] when he uttered person he resides with while in Sorsogon.[63]
threatening words to her in the dark. It is highly inconceivable that
complainant would not recognize Besmontes voice, having lived with him That Besmontes wife corroborated his alibi is no moment. No other
for quite some time. The sound of the voice of a person is an acceptable witness unrelated to appellant Besmonte was presented to corroborate
means of identification where it is established that the witness and the his claim. Alibi cannot prosper if it is established mainly by the accused
accused knew each other personally and closely for a number of years.[59] and his relatives, and not by credible persons.[64] This is because alibi is
easy to contrive and difficult to disprove.[65]
We find no reason to doubt the accuracy of the identification of the
malefactor based on auditory and olfactory perception by the victim on Rape is committed when a man has carnal knowledge of a victim with
December 15, 1994. Under the circumstances, Melanie was able to the use of force and intimidation.[66]In both cases, Melanie credibly
perceive who her rapist was and to make known that perception. Nor is testified on the details of her harrowing experiences and positively
there any reason to doubt her sincerity to tell the truth, for there is no identified the appellants as the persons who raped her. The evidence for
showing at all by the defense that she charged Besmonte with rape due the prosecution has established beyond reasonable doubt the elements
to an evil or corrupt motive. of carnal knowledge and force or intimidation. Hence, we must sustain the
conviction of both appellants and deny their respective appeals.
In sum, the defense of denial and alibi interposed by appellants
cannot prevail over their positive identification by the victim. It is a time- But did the trial court correctly impose the penalty of reclusion
honored principle that the positive and categorical assertions of a witness perpetua on appellants?
generally prevail over bare denials.[60] In the case against Apuyan, greater
The OSG disagrees only in regard to appellant Apuyan. It
probative value and evidentiary weight must be accorded to Melanies
recommends the imposition of the death penalty on him. The OSG argues
5
that with the amendment of the Revised Penal Code by R.A. No. appreciated in the commission of rape in Criminal Case No. 95-3919, the
8353,[67] rape was reclassified as a crime against persons. Under Article trial court did not err in applying Article 63 (2)[74] of the Revised Penal Code
266-B[68] of the Revised Penal Code, as so amended, rape is now by imposing on appellant Apuyan only the penalty of reclusion perpetua.
punishable with reclusion perpetua to death whenever the rape is
Concerning damages awarded below, we find that the trial court
committed with the use of a deadly weapon. The OSG stresses that the
awarded P50,000.00 as civil indemnity but only P10,000.00 as moral
qualifying circumstance of deadly weapon was proven with respect to
damages to the victim. The amount awarded as civil indemnity is sufficient
appellant Apuyan. Moreover, according to the OSG, the relationship of
but moral damages should be increased to P50,000.00 in accordance with
Melanie with Apuyan, while not alleged in the information, was
current jurisprudence.[75] The award of P25,000.00 as exemplary damages
nonetheless proven during the trial and now should be considered as a
should be sustained, by way of public example and to prevent minors from
generic aggravating circumstance, for purposes of imposing the penalty.
being sexually abused[76] by their elders.
With the presence of the qualifying circumstance of use of a deadly
weapon in the commission of the rape coupled with the generic WHEREFORE, the consolidated judgment of the Regional Trial Court
aggravating circumstance of relationship, without any mitigating of Sorsogon, Sorsogon, Branch 52, in Criminal Cases Nos. 95-3918 and 95-
circumstance, then the proper penalty for appellant Apuyan should be 3919, finding appellants Frivaldo Besmonte Loreno and Sonny Apuyan y
death, the OSG said. Morin guilty of one (1) count of rape each and sentencing them to suffer
the penalty of reclusion perpetua is AFFIRMED with MODIFICATION. Each
As the OSG points out, since appellant Apuyan committed the rape
of the appellants is also sentenced to pay the victim, Melanie
with the use of knife, a deadly weapon, the crime is punishable
Gozmo, P50,000.00 as civil indemnity, P50,000.00 as moral damages,
by reclusion perpetua to death.[69] However, the OSGs stance that the
and P25,000.00 as exemplary damages, as well as the costs.
relationship between Apuyan (uncle) and Melanie (niece) should be
treated as a generic aggravating circumstance to justify imposing the SO ORDERED.
death penalty is precipitate.
Under Sections 8[70] and 9[71] Rule 110 of the 2000 Revised Rules of
Criminal Procedure, a qualifying or aggravating circumstance must first be
specifically alleged in the information and then duly proved during the
trial. Otherwise, even if proved, such a circumstance cannot be
appreciated in determining the proper penalty.[72]
In Criminal Case No. 95-3919, the relationship between Apuyan and
his victim was not alleged in the information. Hence, for purposes of
determining the penalty to be imposed, the relationship even if proved
during the trial, should not be considered as a generic aggravating
circumstance. The 2000 Revised Rules of Criminal Procedure, providing
that aggravating circumstances, whether ordinary or qualifying, must be
so stated in the complaint or information,[73] applies to the cases against
appellants under the principle of retroactivity of procedural law because
the rules favor the accused. Since no aggravating circumstance could be

6
accused knowing fully well that the BID Decision dated June 6, 1991,
requiring Maksimuk's deportation has not as yet become final and
executory considering the pendency of a Motion for Reconsideration,
[G.R. No. 122641. January 20, 1997]
resulting in the detention of the latter for a period of forty-three (43)
days and, thus, causing him undue injury.

BAYANI SUBIDO, JR. and RENE PARINA, petitioners, vs. THE HONORABLE CONTRARY TO LAW.[4]
SANDIGAN-BAYAN and THE PEOPLE OF THE
PHILIPPINES, respondents. The arraignment was originally set for 28 August 1995.[5]
On 28 August 1995, however, the petitioners filed a Motion to
DECISION Quash,[6] contending that in view of the effectivity of R.A. No. 7975[7] on 6
DAVIDE, JR., J.: May 1995, amending 4 of P.D. No. 1606,[8] the Sandiganbayan had no
jurisdiction over both the offense charged and the persons of the
In this petition for certiorari under Rule 65 of the Rules of Court, the accused. They argued that: (1) Arbitrary Detention did not fall within
petitioners seek to set aside, on ground of grave abuse of discretion Chapter II, 2, Title VII of the RPC, but within 1, Chapter 1, Title II (Crimes
amounting to lack of jurisdiction, the following acts of the respondent Against the Fundamental Laws of the State), hence, not covered by R.A.
Sandiganbayan in Criminal Case No. 22825: (a) the Resolution[1] of 25 No. 7975 and, therefore, the case should have been filed with the Regional
October 1995 which denied the petitioners Motion to Quash of 28 August Trial Court (RTC) of Manila; (2) R.A. No. 7975 should be given prospective
1995 and Supplementary Motion to Quash of 7 October 1995; (b) the application and at the time the case was filed, petitioner Subido was
Order[2] of 10 November 1995 which denied the petitioners motion for already a private person since he was separated from the service on 28
reconsideration; and (c) the Order[3]of 10 November 1995 which entered February 1995; while petitioner Parina did not hold a position
a plea of not guilty for the petitioners and set pre-trial on 12 January 1996. corresponding to salary grade 27; and (3) penal laws must be strictly
construed against the State.
In Criminal Case No. 22825, the petitioners were charged with
Arbitrary Detention, defined and penalized by Article 124 of the Revised In compliance with the order of the Sandiganbayan, the prosecution
Penal Code (RPC), under an information dated 17 July 1995 (but filed on filed its Opposition to the Motion to Quash[9] on 28 September 1995. It
28 July 1995), the accusatory portion of which reads as follows: contended that it was clear from 4(b) of R.A. No. 7975 that the
Sandiganbayan had jurisdiction over both the offense charged and the
That on or about June 25, 1992, or sometime subsequent thereto, in persons of the accused considering that the basis of its jurisdiction xxx is
Mandaluyong, Metro Manila, Philippines and within the jurisdiction of the position of the accused in the government service when the offense
this Honorable Court, the above-named accused, Bayani Subido, Jr., charged was committed and not the nature of the offense charged,
being then a Commissioner of the Bureau of Immigration and provided the said offense committed by the accused was in the exercise
Deportation (BID) and accused Rene Parina, being then a BID Special of his duties and in relation to his office. The fact then that accused Subido
Agent, while in the performance of their official functions, and conspiring was already a private individual was of no moment.
and confederating with each other, did then and there wilfully, In a Supplement to the Motion to Quash[10] filed on 9 October 1995,
unlawfully and feloniously cause the issuance and implementation of a the petitioners further asserted that: (1) the allegations in the information
warrant of arrest dated June 25, 1992 against James J. Maksimuk, said
1
were vague; (2) under 1, Rule VIII of Memorandum Order (MO) No. 04-92 order, a matter which can be taken up at further proceedings after the
(Rules of Procedure to Govern Deportation Proceedings), the grant or arraignment of the accused.
denial of bail to an alien in a deportation proceeding was discretionary
upon the Commissioner, hence could not be subject to a charge of It likewise set arraignment on 10 November 1995. To abort arraignment,
arbitrary detention; (3) petitioner Subido was separated from the service the petitioners filed on 9 November 1995 a motion for
before the effectivity of R.A. No. 7975, hence retroactive application reconsideration[16] and submitted that under the vast power of the
thereof would be prejudicial to him; and (4) at the time the information Commissioner of the Department of Immigration, he could authorize the
was filed, petitioner Parina was not occupying a position corresponding to arrest and detention of an alien even though a deportation order had not
salary grade 27 or higher, as prescribed by R.A. No. 6758.[11] yet become final, in light of the preventive, not penal, nature of a
deportation order.[17]
In its Rejoinder[12] filed on 20 October 1995, the prosecution
maintained that with 4 of MO No. 04-92, Salazar v. On 10 November 1995, the Sandiganbayan issued an
Achacoso,[13] and Gatchalian v. CID,[14] the only instance when an alien Order[18] denying the petitioners motion for reconsideration, and a second
facing deportation proceedings could be arrested by virtue of a warrant Order[19] entering a plea of not guilty in favor of the petitioners since they
of arrest was when the Commissioner issued the warrant to carry out a objected to arraignment, setting pre-trial on 12 January 1996, and making
final order of deportation, which was absent in this case due to the of record that arraignment was conducted with the reservation of the
pendency of the motion for reconsideration timely filed. It further petitioners to seek redress with this Court from the denial of their motion
reiterated that the basis of the Sandiganbayans jurisdiction over the case for reconsideration.
was the position of the accused when the crime was committed, not when
Hence, this special civil action, where the parties, in the main,
the information was filed; in any event, petitioner Subidos position as a
reiterate the arguments they raised before the Sandiganbayan. In due
Commissioner of the Bureau of Immigration was classified even higher
time, we resolved to give due course to the petition and required the
than grade 27 under the Compensation and Classification Act of 1989.
parties to file their respective memoranda, which they subsequently
In its Resolution[15] of 25 October 1995, the Sandiganbayan denied complied with.
the petitioners Motion to Quash and the Supplement thereto, ruling:
The petition must be dismissed.
1. [T]he jurisdiction of the Sandiganbayan remains not only over the Sections 2 and 7 of R.A. No. 7975 pertinently provide as follows:
specific offenses enumerated in Sec. 4 of P.D. 1606 as Amended by R.A.
7975 but over offenses committed in relation to their office, regardless Sec. 2. Section 4 of [P.D. No. 1606] is hereby further amended to read as
of the penalty provided that the salary of the accused is at Grade 27 follows:
under [R.A. 6758] or that he is occupying any of the position described in
Sec. 4(a)e of the law, which includes the position of Deputy Sec. 4. Jurisdiction. -- The Sandiganbayan shall exercise original
Commissioner. jurisdiction in all cases involving:

2. [A]t this time the position of the prosecution in response to this a. Violations of Republic Act No. 3019, as amended, otherwise known as
Court's misgivings stated in its Order of August 28, 1995, appears to be the Anti-Graft and Corrupt Practices Act, Republic Act No. 1379, and
that aliens may not be arrested except upon execution of a deportation Chapter II, Section 2, Title VII of the Revised Penal Code, where one or
more of the principal accused are officials occupying the following
2
positions in the government, whether in a permanent, acting or interim amendment by R.A. No. 7975, are then the applicable provisions. 4 of P.D.
capacity, at the time of the commission of the offense; No. 1606 then pertinently provided as follows:

(1) Officials of the executive branch occupying the positions of regional SEC. 4. Jurisdiction. -- The Sandiganbayan shall exercise:
director and higher, otherwise classified as grade 27 and higher, of the
Compensation and Position Classification Act of 1989 (Republic Act No. (a) Exclusive appellate jurisdiction in all cases involving:
6758), specifically including:
(1) violations of Republic Act No. 3019, as amended, otherwise known as
xxx the Anti-Graft and practices Act, Republic Act No. 1379, and Chapter II,
Section 2, Title VII of the Revised Penal Code;
(5) All other national and local officials classified as Grade 27 and higher
under the Compensation and Position Classification Act of 1989. (2) other offenses or felonies committed by public officers and
employees in relation to their office, including those employed in
b. Other offenses or felonies committed by the public officials and government-owned or controlled corporations, whether simple or
employees mentioned in subsection (a) of this section in relation to their complexed with other crimes, where the penalty prescribed by law is
office. higher than prision correccional or imprisonment for six (6) years, or a
fine of P6,000.00: PROVIDED, HOWEVER, that offenses or felonies
c. Civil and criminal cases filed pursuant to and in connection with mentioned in this paragraph where the penalty prescribed by law does
Executive Order Nos. 1, 2, 14 and 14-A. not exceed prision correccional or imprisonment of six (6) years or a fine
of P6,000.00 shall be tried by the proper Regional Trial Court,
In cases where none of the principal accused are occupying positions Metropolitan Trial Court, Municipal Trial Court and Municipal Circuit Trial
corresponding to salary grade 27 or higher, as prescribed in said Republic Court.
Act No. 6758, or PNP officers occupying the rank of superintendent or
higher, or their equivalent, exclusive jurisdiction thereof shall be vested In Aguinaldo v. Domagas,[21] and subsequently in Sanchez v.
in the proper Regional Trial Court, Metropolitan Trial Court, Municipal Demetriou,[22] Natividad v. Felix,[23] and Republic v. Asuncion,[24] we ruled
Trial Court, and Municipal Circuit Trial Court, as the case may be, that for the Sandiganbayan to have exclusive original jurisdiction over
pursuant to their respective jurisdiction as provided in Batas Pambansa offenses or felonies committed by public officers or employees under the
Blg. 129. aforementioned 4(a)(2), it was not enough that the penalty prescribed
therefor was higher than prision correccional or imprisonment for six
Sec. 7. Upon the effectivity of this Act, all criminal cases in which trial has years, or a fine of P6,000.00; it was likewise necessary that the offenses
not begun in the Sandiganbayan shall be referred to the proper courts. or felonies were committed in relation to their office.[25]
The information in Criminal Case No. 22825 before the
R.A. No. 7975 took effect on 16 May 1995,[20] or one year, ten months
Sandiganbayan charged the petitioners with the crime of arbitrary
and twenty-one days after the alleged commission of the crime charged
detention which was committed while in the performance of their official
in Criminal Case No. 22825 before the Sandiganbayan. The provisions of 4
functions, or, evidently, in relation to their office. As the detention
of P.D. No. 1606, as amended by E.O. No. 184, but prior to their further
allegedly lasted for a period of 43 days, the prescribed penalty is prision

3
mayor,[26] with a duration of six years and one day to twelve Finally, the petitioners invocation of the prohibition against the
years. Indisputably, the Sandiganbayan has jurisdiction over the offense retroactivity of penal laws is misplaced.Simply put, R.A. No. 7975 is not a
charged in Criminal Case No. 22825. penal law. Penal laws or statutes are those acts of the Legislature which
prohibit certain acts and establish penalties for their violation;[28] or those
The petitioners, however, urge us to apply 4 of P.D. No. 1606, as
that define crimes, treat of their nature, and provide for their
amended by R.A. No. 7975, the law in force at the time of the filing of the
punishment.[29] R.A. No. 7975, in further amending P.D. No. 1606 as
information in Criminal Case No. 22825. They submit that under the new
regards the Sandiganbayans jurisdiction, mode of appeal, and other
law, the Sandiganbayan has no jurisdiction over the offense charged and
procedural matters, is clearly a procedural law, i.e., one which prescribes
their persons because at the time of the filing of the information,
rules and forms of procedure of enforcing rights or obtaining redress for
petitioner Subido was already a private individual, while the classification
their invasion, or those which refer to rules of procedure by which courts
of petitioner Parinas position was lower than grade 27.
applying laws of all kinds can properly administer justice.[30] Moreover, the
We are not persuaded. The petitioners overlook the fact that for petitioners even suggest that it is likewise a curative or remedial statute;
purposes of 4 of P.D. No. 1606, as amended, the reckoning point is the one which cures defects and adds to the means of enforcing existing
time of the commission of the crime. This is plain from the last clause of obligations.[31] As noted by the petitioners, previous to the enactment of
the opening sentence of paragraph (a), 4 of P.D. No. 1606, as further R.A. No. 7975:
amended by R.A. No. 7975.
As before, not [sic] matter what kind of offense, so long as it is alleged
Petitioner Subido never denied the respondents claim that as
that the crime is committed in relation to the office of the public official,
commissioner of Immigration and Deportation [now Bureau of
the Sandiganbayan had jurisdiciton to try and hear the case, such that in
Immigration] at the time of the commission of the crime [he was]
many cases accused persons even from the far away parts of the
classified as having a position even higher than grade 27.[27] Both parties
country, Mindanao, Visayas and the northern parts of Luzon had to come
are, however, agreed that at such time petitioner Parina was holding a
personally to Manila to attend and appear for cases filed against them,
position with a classification much lower than salary grade 27. There can,
considering that the Sandiganbayan has its office/court in Manila.
therefore, be no doubt that the Sandiganbayan had jurisdiction over the
crime allegedly committed by Subido.
The said R.A. No. 7975 changed this lamentable situation. For no as so
That petitioner Parina held a position with a salary grade of less than provided in the said law, there ha[s] been a modification that benefits
27 at the time of the commission of the alleged arbitrary detention is of [the] accused xxx in the sense that now where none of the principal
no moment. He is prosecuted as a co-conspirator of petitioner Subido, a accused are occupying positions corresponding to salary grade 27 or
principal accused, who held a position higher than grade 27. The following higher as prescribed by Republic Act No. 6758 xxx exclusive jurisdiction
provision of 4 of P.D. No. 1606, as amended by R.A. No. 7975, then applies: there shall be vested now in the proper Regional Trial and Metropolitan
Trial Court and Municipal Circuit Trial Court, as the case may be xxx. [32]
In cases where none of the principal accused are occupying the positions
corresponding to salary grade 27 or higher, as prescribed in the said All told, as a procedural and curative statute, R.A. No. 7975 may validly be
Republic Act No. 6758 ... exclusive jurisdiction therefor shall be vested in given retroactive effect, there being no impairment of contractual or
the proper Regional Trial Court, Metropolitan Trial Court, Municipal Trial vested rights. [33]
Court, and Municipal Circuit Trial Court, as the case may be, pursuant to
their respective jurisdiction as provided in Batas Pambansa Blg. 129.
4
WHEREFORE, the instant petition is DISMISSED, and the questioned
resolution and orders of the respondent Sandiganbayan are AFFIRMED.
Costs against the petitioners.
SO ORDERED.

5
warehouses over a property (Numancia Property) that MCCI leased from
G.R. No. 189081, August 10, 2016 the Philippine National Bank (PNB). Sometime in May 1996, in pursuit of
MCCI's business, petitioner proposed to William Mandy (Mandy),
GLORIA S. DY, Petitioner, v. PEOPLE OF THE PHILIPPINES, MANDY President of MCCI, the purchase of a property owned by Pantranco. As
COMMODITIES CO., INC., REPRESENTED BY ITS PRESIDENT, WILLIAM the transaction involved a large amount of money, Mandy agreed to
MANDY, Respondent. obtain a loan from the International China Bank of Commerce (ICBC).
Petitioner represented that she could facilitate the approval of the loan.
DECISION True enough, ICBC granted a loan to MCCI in the amount of
P20,000,000.00, evidenced by a promissory note. As security, MCCI also
JARDELEZA, J.: executed a chattel mortgage over the warehouses in the Numancia
Property. Mandy entrusted petitioner with the obligation to manage the
Our law states that every person criminally liable for a felony is also payment of the loan.4chanrobleslaw
civilly liable. This civil liability ex delicto may be recovered through a civil
action which, under our Rules of Court, is deemed instituted with the In February 1999, MCCI received a notice of foreclosure over the
criminal action. While they are actions mandatorily fused,1 they are, in mortgaged property due to its default in paying the loan obligation.5 In
truth, separate actions whose existences are not dependent on each order to prevent the foreclosure, Mandy instructed petitioner to
other. Thus, civil liability ex delicto survives an acquittal in a criminal case facilitate the payment of the loan. MCCI, through Mandy, issued 13
for failure to prove guilt beyond reasonable doubt. However, the Rules Allied Bank checks and 12 Asia Trust Bank checks in varying amounts and
of Court limits this mandatory fusion to a civil action for the recovery of in different dates covering the period from May 18, 1999 to April 4,
civil liability ex delicto. It, by no means, includes a civil liability arising 2000.6 The total amount of the checks, which were all payable to cash,
from a different source of obligation, as in the case of a contract. Where was P21,706,281.00. Mandy delivered the checks to petitioner. Mandy
the civil liability is ex contractu, the court hearing the criminal case has claims that he delivered the checks with the instruction that petitioner
no authority to award damages. use the checks to pay the loan.7 Petitioner, on the other hand, testified
that she encashed the checks and returned the money to Mandy.8 ICBC
The Case eventually foreclosed the mortgaged property as MCCI continued to
default in its obligation to pay. Mandy claims that it was only at this
This is a Petition for Review on Certiorari under Rule 45 of the Rules of point in time that he discovered that not a check was paid to
Court. Petitioner Gloria S. Dy (petitioner) seeks the reversal of the ICBC.9chanrobleslaw
decision of the Court of Appeals (CA) dated February 25, 2009 (Assailed
Decision)2 ordering her to pay Mandy Commodities Company, Inc. Thus, on October 7, 2002, MCCI, represented by Mandy, filed a
(MCCI) in the amount of P21,706,281.00.3chanrobleslaw Compiamt-Affidavit for Estafa10 before the Office of the City Prosecutor
of Manila. On March 3, 2004, an Information11 was filed against
The Facts petitioner before the Regional Trial Court (RTC) Manila.

Petitioner was the former General Manager of MCCL. In the course of After a full-blown trial, the RTC Manila rendered a decision12 dated
her employment, petitioner assisted MCCI in its business involving November 11, 2005 (RTC Decision) acquitting petitioner. The RTC Manila
several properties. One such business pertained to the construction of found that while petitioner admitted that she received the checks, the
1
prosecution failed to establish that she was under any obligation to
deliver them to ICBC in payment of MCCFs loan. The trial court made this Hence, this Petition for Review on Certiorari (Petition). Petitioner argues
finding on the strength of Mandy's admission that he gave the checks to that since she was acquitted for failure of the prosecution to prove all
petitioner with the agreement that she would encash them. Petitioner the elements of the crime charged, there was therefore no crime
would then pay ICBC using her own checks. The trial court further made committed.19 As there was no crime, any civil liability ex delicto cannot
a finding that Mandy and petitioner entered into a contract of be awarded.
loan.13 Thus, it held that the prosecution failed to establish an important
element of the crime of estafa�misappropriation or conversion. The Issues
However, while the RTC Manila acquitted petitioner, it ordered her to
pay the amount of the checks. The dispositive portion of the RTC The central issue is the propriety of making a finding of civil liability in a
Decision states � criminal case for estafa when the accused is acquitted for failure of the
WHEREFORE, the prosecution having failed to establish the guilt of the prosecution to prove all the elements of the crime charged.
accused beyond reasonable doubt, judgment is hereby rendered
ACQUITTING the accused of the offense charged. With costs de officio. The Ruling of the Court

The accused is however civilly liable to the complainant for the amount We grant the petition.
of P21,706,281.00.
Civil Liability Arising From Crime
14
SO ORDERED. chanroblesvirtuallawlibrary
Petitioner filed an appeal15 of the civil aspect of the RTC Decision with Our laws recognize a bright line distinction between criminal and civil
the CA. In the Assailed Decision,16the CA found the appeal without merit. liabilities. A crime is a liability against the state. It is prosecuted by and
It held that the acquittal of petitioner does not necessarily absolve her of for the state. Acts considered criminal are penalized by law as a means
civil liability. The CA said that it is settled that when an accused is to protect the society from dangerous transgressions. As criminal liability
acquitted on the basis of reasonable doubt, courts may still find him or involves a penalty affecting a person's liberty, acts are only treated
her civilly liable if the evidence so warrant. The CA explained that the criminal when the law clearly says so. On the other hand, civil liabilities
evidence on record adequately prove that petitioner received the checks take a less public and more private nature. Civil liabilities are claimed
as a loan from MCCI. Thus, preventing the latter from recovering the through civil actions as a means to enforce or protect a right or prevent
amount of the checks would constitute unjust enrichment. Hence, the or redress a wrong.20 They do not carry with them the imposition of
Assailed Decision ruled imprisonment as a penalty. Instead, civil liabilities are compensated in
WHEREFORE, in view of the foregoing, the appeal is DENIED. The the form of damages.
Decision dated November 11, 2005 of the Regional Trial Court, Manila,
Branch 33 in Criminal Case No. 04-224294 which found Gloria Dy civilly Nevertheless, our jurisdiction recognizes that a crime has a private civil
liable to William Mandy is AFFIRMED. component. Thus, while an act considered criminal is a breach of law
against the State, our legal system allows for the recovery of civil
SO ORDERED.17chanroblesvirtuallawlibrary damages where there is a private person injured by a criminal act. It is in
The CA also denied petitioner's motion for reconsideration in a recognition of this dual nature of a criminal act that our Revised Penal
resolution18 dated August 3, 2009. Code provides that every person criminally liable is also civilly

2
liable.21 This is the concept of civil liability ex delicto. may be filed. In the latter case, only preponderance of evidence is
required.27 This is supported by the Rules of Court which provides that
This is echoed by the New Civil Code when it recognizes acts or the extinction of the criminal action does not result in the extinction of
omissions punished by law as a separate source of obligation.22 This is the corresponding civil action.28 The latter may only be extinguished
reinforced by Article 30 of the same code which refers to the filing of a when there is a "finding in a final judgment in the criminal action that
separate civil action to demand civil liability arising from a criminal the act or omission from which the civil liability may arise did not
offense.23chanrobleslaw exist."29 Consistent with this, the Rules of Court requires that in
judgments of acquittal the court must state whether "the evidence of
The Revised Penal Code fleshes out this civil liability in Article the prosecution absolutely failed to prove the guilt of the accused or
10424 which states that it includes restitution, reparation of damage merely failed to prove his guilt beyond reasonable doubt. In either case,
caused and indemnification for consequential damages. the judgment shall determine if the act or omission from which the civil
liability might arise did not exist."30chanrobleslaw
Rules of procedure for criminal and civil actions involving the same act or
omission Thus, whether an exoneration from the criminal action should affect the
corresponding civil action depends on the varying kinds of acquittal.
The law and the rules of procedure provide for a precise mechanism in In Manantan v. Court of Appeals,31 we explained �
instituting a civil action pertaining to an act or omission which is also Our law recognizes two kinds of acquittal, with different effects on the
subject of a criminal case. Our Rules of Court prescribes a kind of fusion civil liability of the accused. First is an acquittal on the ground that the
such that, subject to certain defined qualifications, when a criminal accused is not the author of the act or omission complained of. This
action is instituted, the civil action for the recovery of the civil liability instance closes the door to civil liability, for a person who has been
arising from the offense is deemed instituted as found to be not the perpetrator of any act or omission cannot and can
well.25cralawredchanrobleslaw never be held liable for such act or omission. There being no delict civil
liability ex delicto is out of the question, and the civil action, if any, which
However, there is an important difference between civil and criminal may be instituted must be based on grounds other than
proceedings that require a fine distinction as to how these twin actions the delict complained of. This is the situation contemplated in Rule 111
shall proceed. These two proceedings involve two different standards of of the Rules of Court. The second instance is an acquittal based on
proof. A criminal action requires proof of guilt beyond reasonable doubt reasonable doubt on the guilt of the accused. In this case, even if the
while a civil action requires a lesser quantum of proof, that of guilt of the accused has not been satisfactorily established, he is not
preponderance of evidence. This distinction also agrees with the exempt from civil liability which may be proved by preponderance of
essential principle in our legal system that while a criminal liability evidence only. This is the situation contemplated in Article 29 of the Civil
carries with it a corresponding civil liability, they are nevertheless Code, where the civil action for damages is "for the same act or
separate and distinct. In other words, these two liabilities may co-exist omission." Although the two actions have different purposes, the
but their existence is not dependent on each other.26chanrobleslaw matters discussed in the civil case are similar to those discussed in the
criminal case. However, the judgment In the criminal proceeding cannot
The Civil Code states that when an accused in a criminal prosecution is be read in evidence In the civil action to establish any fact there
acquitted on the ground that his guilt has not been proven beyond determined, even though both actions involve the same act or omission.
reasonable doubt, a civil action for damages for the same act or omission The reason for this rule is that the parties are not the same and
3
secondarily, different rules of evidence are applicable. Hence, Penal Code. In general, the elements
notwithstanding herein petitioner's acquittal, the Court of Appeals in of estafa are:ChanRoblesVirtualawlibrary
determining whether Article 29 applied, was not precluded from looking
into the question of petitioner's negligence or reckless (1) That the accused defrauded another (a) by abuse of
imprudence.32chanroblesvirtuallawlibrary confidence, or (b) by means of deceit; and
In Dayap v. Sendiong,33 we further said �
The acquittal of the accused does not automatically preclude a judgment
against him on the civil aspect of the case. The extinction of the penal
action does not carry with it the extinction of the civil liability where: (a) (2) That damage or prejudice capable of pecuniary estimation is
the acquittal is based on reasonable doubt as only preponderance of caused to the offended party or third person.
evidence is required; (b) the court declares that the liability of the
The essence of the crime is the unlawful abuse of confidence or deceit in
accused is only civil; and (c) the civil liability of the accused does not arise
order to cause damage. As this Court previously held, "the element of
from or is not based upon the crime of which the accused is acquitted.
fraud or bad faith is indispensable."35 Our law abhors the act of
However, the civil action based on delict may be deemed extinguished if
defrauding another person by abusing his trust or deceiving him, such
mere is a finding on the final judgment in the criminal action that the act
that, it criminalizes this kind of fraud.
or omission from which the civil liability may arise did not exist or where
the accused did not commit the acts or omission imputed to
Article 315 of the Revised Penal Code identifies the circumstances which
him.34chanroblesvirtuallawlibrary
constitute estafa. Article 315, paragraph 1 (b) states that estafa is
Hence, a civil action filed for the purpose of enforcing civil liability ex
committed by abuse of confidence �
delicto, even if mandatorily instituted with the corresponding criminal
Art. 315. Swindling (estafa) - x x x (b) By misappropriating or converting,
action, survives an acquittal when it is based on the presence of
to the prejudice of another, money, goods, or any other personal
reasonable doubt. In these instances, while the evidence presented does
property received by the offender in trust or on commission, or for
not establish the fact of the crime with moral certainty, the civil action
administration, or under any other obligation involving the duty to make
still prevails for as long as the greater weight of evidence tilts in favor of
delivery of or to return the same, even though such obligation be totally
a finding of liability. This means that while the mind of the court cannot
or partially guaranteed by a bond; or by denying having received such
rest easy in penalizing the accused for the commission of a crime, it
money, goods, or other property.
nevertheless finds that he or she committed or omitted to perform acts
In this kind of estafa, the fraud which the law considers as criminal is the
which serve as a separate source of obligation. There is no sufficient
act of misappropriation or conversion. When the element of
proof that the act or omission is criminal beyond reasonable doubt, but
misappropriation or conversion is missing, there can be no estafa. In
there is a preponderance of evidence to show that the act or omission
such case, applying the foregoing discussions on civil liability ex delicto,
caused injury which demands compensation.
there can be no civil liability as there is no act or omission from which
any civil liability may be sourced. However, when an accused is acquitted
Civil Liability Ex Delicto in Estafa Cases
because a reasonable doubt exists as to the existence of
misappropriation or conversion, then civil liability may still be awarded.
Our laws penalize criminal fraud which causes damage capable of
This means that, while there is evidence to prove fraud, such evidence
pecuniary estimation through estafaunder Article 315 of the Revised
does not suffice to convince the court to the point of moral certainty

4
that the act of fraud amounts to estafa. As the act was nevertheless criminal act, and may not be enforced in the criminal case.
proven, albeit without sufficient proof justifying the imposition of any
criminal penalty, civil liability exists. The portion of the judgment appealed from, which orders the
defendant-appellant to pay the sum of Pi ,200 to the offended party, is
In this case, the RTC Manila acquitted petitioner because the prosecution hereby revoked, without prejudice to the filing of a civil action for the
failed to establish by sufficient evidence the element of misappropriation recovery of the said amount.40chanroblesvirtuallawlibrary
or conversion. There was no adequate evidence to prove that Mandy This was also the import of the ruling in People v. Singson.41 In that case,
gave the checks to petitioner with the instruction that she will use them this Court found that "the evidence [was] not sufficient to establish the
to pay the ICBC loan. Citing Mandy's own testimony in open court, the existence of fraud or deceit on the part of the accused. x x x And when
RTC Manila held that when Mandy delivered the checks to petitioner, there is no proven deceit or fraud, there is no crime of estafa."42 While
their agreement was that it was a "sort of loan."36 In the dispositive we also said that the established facts may prove Singson's civil liability
portion of the RTC Decision, the RTC Manila ruled that the prosecution (obligation to pay under a contract of sale), we nevertheless made no
"failed to establish the guilt of the accused beyond reasonable finding of civil liability because "our mind cannot rest easy on the
doubt."37 It then proceeded to order petitioner to pay the amount of the certainty of guilt"43 considering the above finding. The dispositive
loan. portion stated that Singson is acquitted "without prejudice to any civil
liability which may be established in a civil case against
The ruling of the RTC Manila was affirmed by the CA. It said that "[t]he her."44chanrobleslaw
acquittal of Gloria Dy is anchored on the ground that her guilt was not
proved beyond reasonable doubt - not because she is not the author of However, our jurisprudence on the matter appears to have changed in
the act or omission complained of. x x x The trial court found no trickery later years.
nor deceit in obtaining money from the private complainant; instead, it
concluded that the money obtained was undoubtedly a loan."38 In Eusebio-Calderon v. People,45 this Court affirmed the finding of the CA
that Calderon "did not employ trickery or deceit in obtaining money
Our jurisprudence on this matter diverges. from the private complainants, instead, it concluded that the money
obtained was undoubtedly loans for which [Calderon] paid
Earlier cases ordered the dismissal of the civil action for recovery of civil interest."46 Thus, this Court upheld Calderon's acquittal of estafa, but
liability ex delicto whenever there is a finding that there was found her civilly liable for the principal amount borrowed from the
no estafa but rather an obligation to pay under a contract. In People v. private complainants.47chanrobleslaw
Pantig,39 this Court affirmed the ruling of the lower court acquitting
Pantig, but revoked the portion sentencing him to pay the offended The ruling was similar in People v. Cuyugan.48 In that case, we acquitted
party the amount of money alleged to have been obtained through false Cuyugan of estafa for failure of the prosecution to prove fraud. We held
and fraudulent representations, thus � that the transaction between Cuyugan and private complainants was a
The trial court found as a fact that the sum of P1,200, ordered to be paid loan to be used by Cuyugan in her business. Thus, this Court ruled that
in the judgment of acquittal, was received by the defendant-appellant as Cuyugan has the obligation, which is civil in character, to pay the amount
loan. This finding is inconsistent with the existence of the criminal act borrowed.49chanrobleslaw
charged in the information. The liability of the defendant for the return
of the amount so received arises from a civil contract, not from a We hold that the better rule in ascertaining civil liability in estafa cases is
5
that pronounced in Pantig and Singson. The rulings in these cases are We apply this doctrine to the facts of this case. Petitioner was acquitted
more in accord with the relevant provisions of the Civil Code, and the by the RTC Manila because of the absence of the element of
Rules of Court. They are also logically consistent with this Court's misappropriation or conversion. The RTC Manila, as affirmed by the CA,
pronouncement in Manantan. found that Mandy delivered the checks to petitioner pursuant to a loan
agreement. Clearly, there is no crime of estafa. There is no proof of the
Under Pantig and Singson, whenever the elements of estafa are not presence of any act or omission constituting criminal fraud. Thus, civil
established, and that the delivery of any personal property was made liability ex delicto cannot be awarded because there is no act or omission
pursuant to a contract, any civil liability arising from the estafa cannot be punished by law which can serve as the source of obligation. Any civil
awarded in the criminal case. This is because the civil liability arising liability arising from the loan takes the nature of a civil liability ex
from the contract is not civil liability ex delicto, which arises from the contractu. It does not pertain to the civil action deemed instituted with
same act or omission constituting the crime. Civil liability ex delicto is the the criminal case.
liability sought to be recovered in a civil action deemed instituted with
the criminal case. In Manantan, this Court explained the effects of this result on the civil
liability deemed instituted with the criminal case. At the risk of
The situation envisioned in the foregoing cases, as in this case, is civil repetition, Manantan held that when there is no delict, "civil liability ex
liability ex contractu where the civil liability arises from an entirely delicto is out of the question, and the civil action, if any, which may be
different source of obligation. Therefore, it is not the type of civil action instituted must be based on grounds other than the delict complained
deemed instituted in the criminal case, and consequently must be filed of."51 In Dy's case, the civil liability arises out of contract�a different
separately. This is necessarily so because whenever the court makes a source of obligation apart from an act or omission punished by law�and
finding that the elements of estafa do not exist, it effectively says that must be claimed in a separate civil action.
there is no crime. There is no act or omission that constitutes criminal
fraud. Civil liability ex delicto cannot be awarded as it cannot be sourced Violation of Due Process
from something that does not exist.
We further note that the evidence on record never fully established the
When the court finds that the source of obligation is in fact, a contract, terms of this loan contract. As the trial before the RTC Manila was
as in a contract of loan, it takes a position completely inconsistent with focused on proving estafa, the loan contract was, as a consequence, only
the presence of estafa. In estafa, a person parts with his money because tangentially considered. This provides another compelling reason why
of abuse of confidence or deceit. In a contract, a person willingly binds the civil liability arising from the loan should be instituted in a separate
himself or herself to give something or to render some civil case. A civil action for collection of sum of money filed before the
service.50 In estafa, the accused's failure to account for the property proper court will provide for a better venue where the terms of the loan
received amounts to criminal fraud. In a contract, a party's failure to and other relevant details may be received. While this may postpone a
comply with his obligation is only a contractual breach. Thus, any finding warranted recovery of the civil liability, this Court deems it more
that the source of obligation is a contract negates estafa. The finding, in important to uphold the principles underlying the inherent differences in
turn, means that there is no civil liability ex delicto. Thus, the rulings in the various sources of obligations under our law, and the rule that fused
the foregoing cases are consistent with the concept of fused civil and actions only refer to criminal and civil actions involving the same act or
criminal actions, and the different sources of obligations under our laws. omission. These legal tenets play a central role in this legal system. A
confusion of these principles will ultimately jeopardize the interests of
6
the parties involved. Actions focused on proving estafa is not the proper
vehicle to thresh out civil liability arising from a contract.52 The Due In a situation where a court (in a fused action for the enforcement of
Process Clause of the Constitution dictates that a civil liability arising criminal and civil liability) may validly order an accused-respondent to
from a contract must be litigated in a separate civil action. pay an obligation arising from a contract, a person's right to be notified
of the complaint, and the right to have the complaint dismissed if there
Section 1 of the Bill of Rights states that no person shall be deprived of is no cause of action, are completely defeated. In this event, the
property without due process of law. This provision protects a person's accused-respondent is completely unaware of the nature of the liability
right to both substantive and procedural due process. Substantive due claimed against him or her at the onset of the case. The accused-
process looks into the validity of a law and protects against respondent will not have read any complaint stating the cause of action
arbitrariness.53 Procedural due process, on the other hand, guarantees of an obligation arising from a contract. All throughout the trial, the
procedural fairness.54 It requires an ascertainment of "what process is accused-respondent is made to believe that should there be any civil
due, when it is due, and the degree of what is due."55 This aspect of due liability awarded against him or her, this liability is rooted from the act or
process is at the heart of this case. omission constituting the crime. The accused-respondent is also
deprived of the remedy of having the complaint dismissed through a
In general terms, procedural due process means the right to notice and motion to dismiss before trial. In a fused action, the accused-respondent
hearing.56 More specifically, our Rules of Court provides for a set of could not have availed of this remedy because he or she was not even
procedures through which a person may be notified of the claims against given an opportunity to ascertain what cause of action to look for in the
him or her as well as methods through which he or she may be given the initiatory pleading. In such a case, the accused-respondent is blindsided.
adequate opportunity to be heard. He or she could not even have prepared the appropriate defenses and
evidence to protect his or her interest. This is not the concept of fair play
The Rules of Court requires that any person invoking the power of the embodied in the Due Process Clause. It is a clear violation of a person's
judiciary to protect or enforce a right or prevent or redress a right to due process.
wrong57 must file an initiatory pleading which embodies a cause of
action,58which is defined as the act or omission by which a party violates The Rules of Court also allows a party to a civil action certain remedies
a right of another.59 The contents of an initiatory pleading alleging a that enable him or her to effectively present his or her case. A party may
cause of action will vary depending on the source of the obligation file a cross-claim, a counterclaim or a third-party complaint.61 The Rules
involved. In the case of an obligation arising from a contract, as in this of Court prohibits these remedies in a fused civil and criminal case.62 The
case, the cause of action in an initiatory pleading will involve the duties Rules of Court requires that any cross-claim, counterclaim or third-party
of the parties to the contract, and what particular obligation was complaint must be instituted in a separate civil action.63 In a legal regime
breached. On the other hand, when the obligation arises from an act or where a court may order an accused in a fused action to pay civil liability
omission constituting a crime, the cause of action must necessarily be arising from a contract, the accused-respondent is completely deprived
different. In such a case, the initiatory pleading will assert as a cause of of the remedy to file a cross-claim, a counterclaim or a third-party
action the act or omission of respondent, and the specific criminal complaint. This�coupled with an accused-respondent's inability to
statute he or she violated. Where the initiatory pleading fails to state a adequately prepare his or her defense because of lack of adequate
cause of action, the respondent may file a motion to dismiss even before notice of the claims against him or her�prevents the accused-respondent
trial.60 These rules embody the fundamental right to notice under the from having any right to a meaningful hearing. The right to be heard
Due Process Clause of the Constitution. under the Due Process Clause requires not just any kind of an
7
opportunity to be heard. It mandates that a party to a case must have We note that while there is no written contract of loan in this case, there
the chance to be heard in a real and meaningful sense. It does not is an oral contract of loan which must be brought within six
require a perfunctory hearing, but a court proceeding where the party years.65 Under the facts of the case, it appears that any breach in the
may adequately avail of the procedural remedies granted to him or her. obligation to pay the loan may have happened between 1996 and 1999,
A court decision resulting from this falls short of the mandate of the Due or more than six years since this case has been instituted. This
Process Clause. notwithstanding, we find that the civil action arising from the contract of
loan has not yet prescribed. Article 1150 of the Civil Code states �
Indeed, the language of the Constitution is clear. No person shall be Art. 1150. The time for prescription for all kinds of actions, when there is
deprived of property without due process of law. Due Process, in its no special provision which ordains otherwise, shall be counted from the
procedural sense, requires, in essence, the right to notice and hearing. day they may be brought.
These rights are further fleshed out in the Rules of Court. The Rules of We held in numerous cases that it is the legal possibility of bringing the
Court enforces procedural due process because, to repeat the words of action that determines the starting point for the computation of the
this Court in Secretary of Justice v. Lantion, it provides for "what process period of prescription.67 We highlight the unique circumstances
is due, when it is due, and the degree of what is due."64 A court ordering surrounding this case. As discussed in this decision, there has been
an accused in a fused action to pay his or her contractual liability diverse jurisprudence as to the propriety of ordering an accused to pay
deprives him or her of his or her property without the right to notice and an obligation arising from a contract in the criminal case where the
hearing as expressed in the procedures and remedies under the Rules of accused was acquitted on the ground that there is no crime. Litigants,
Court. Thus, any court ruling directing an accused in a fused action to pay such as MCCI, cannot be blamed for relying on prior rulings where the
civil liability arising from a contract is one that completely disregards the recovery on a contract of loan in a criminal case for estafawas allowed.
Due Process Clause. This ruling must be reversed and the Constitution We have found the opportunity to clarify this matter through this
upheld. decision. As it is only now that we delineate the rules governing the
fusion of criminal and civil actions pertaining to estafa, it is only upon the
Conclusion promulgation of this judgment that litigants have a clear understanding
of the proper recourse in similar cases. We therefore rule that insofar as
The lower courts erred when they ordered petitioner to pay her civil MCCI is concerned, the filing of an action, if any (that may be sourced
obligation arising from a contract of loan in the same criminal case from the contract of loan), becomes a legal possibility only upon the
where she was acquitted on the ground that there was no crime. Any finality of this decision which definitively ruled upon the principles on
contractual obligation she may have must be litigated in a separate civil fused actions.
action involving the contract of loan. We clarify that in cases where the
accused is acquitted on the ground that there is no crime, the civil action We add, however, that upon finality of this decision, prospective litigants
deemed instituted with the criminal case cannot prosper precisely should become more circumspect in ascertaining their course of action
because there is no delict from which any civil obligation may be in similar cases. Whenever a litigant erroneously pursues an estafa case,
sourced. The peculiarity of this case is the finding that petitioner, in fact, and the accused is subsequently acquitted because the obligation arose
has an obligation arising from a contract. This civil action arising from the out of a contract, the prescriptive period will still be counted from the
contract is not necessarily extinguished. It can be instituted in the proper time the cause of action arose. In this eventuality, it is probable that the
court through the proper civil action. action has already prescribed by the time the criminal case shall have
been completed. This possibility demands that prospective litigants do
8
not haphazardly pursue the filing of an estafa case in order to force an
obligor to pay his or her obligation with the threat of criminal conviction.
It compels litigants to be honest and fair in their judgment as to the
proper action to be filed. This ruling should deter litigants from turning
to criminal courts as their collection agents, and should provide a
disincentive to the practice of filing of criminal cases based on
unfounded grounds in order to provide a litigant a bargaining chip in
enforcing contracts.

WHEREFORE, in view of the foregoing, the Petition is GRANTED. The


Decision of the CA dated February 25, 2009 is REVERSED. This is
however, without prejudice to any civil action which may be filed to
claim civil liability arising from the contract.

SO ORDERED.

9
It is a moral and political axiom that any dishonorable act, if
G.R. No. 118127 April 12, 2005 performed by oneself, is less immoral than if performed by
someone else, who would be well-intentioned in his dishonesty.
CITY OF MANILA, HON. ALFREDO S. LIM as the Mayor of the City of
Manila, HON. JOSELITO L. ATIENZA, in his capacity as Vice-Mayor of the J. Christopher Gerald
City of Manila and Presiding Officer of the City Council of Manila, HON. Bonaparte in Egypt, Ch. I
ERNESTO A. NIEVA, HON. GONZALO P. GONZALES, HON. AVELINO S.
CAILIAN, HON. ROBERTO C. OCAMPO, HON. ALBERTO DOMINGO, HON. The Court's commitment to the protection of morals is secondary to its
HONORIO U. LOPEZ, HON. FRANCISCO G. VARONA, JR., HON. fealty to the fundamental law of the land. It is foremost a guardian of the
ROMUALDO S. MARANAN, HON. NESTOR C. PONCE, JR., HON. Constitution but not the conscience of individuals. And if it need be, the
HUMBERTO B. BASCO, HON. FLAVIANO F. CONCEPCION, JR., HON. Court will not hesitate to "make the hammer fall, and heavily" in the
ROMEO G. RIVERA, HON. MANUEL M. ZARCAL, HON. PEDRO S. DE words of Justice Laurel, and uphold the constitutional guarantees when
JESUS, HON. BERNARDITO C. ANG, HON. MANUEL L. QUIN, HON. faced with laws that, though not lacking in zeal to promote morality,
JHOSEP Y. LOPEZ, HON. CHIKA G. GO, HON. VICTORIANO A. MELENDEZ, nevertheless fail to pass the test of constitutionality.
HON. ERNESTO V.P. MACEDA, JR., HON. ROLANDO P. NIETO, HON.
DANILO V. ROLEDA, HON. GERINO A. TOLENTINO, JR., HON. MA. PAZ E. The pivotal issue in this Petition1 under Rule 45 (then Rule 42) of the
HERRERA, HON. JOEY D. HIZON, HON. FELIXBERTO D. ESPIRITU, HON. Revised Rules on Civil Procedure seeking the reversal of the Decision2 in
KARLO Q. BUTIONG, HON. ROGELIO P. DELA PAZ, HON. BERNARDO D. Civil Case No. 93-66511 of the Regional Trial Court (RTC) of Manila,
RAGAZA, HON. MA. CORAZON R. CABALLES, HON. CASIMIRO C. SISON, Branch 18 (lower court),3 is the validity of Ordinance No. 7783
HON. BIENVINIDO M. ABANTE, JR., HON. MA. LOURDES M. ISIP, HON. (the Ordinance) of the City of Manila.4
ALEXANDER S. RICAFORT, HON. ERNESTO F. RIVERA, HON. LEONARDO
L. ANGAT, and HON. JOCELYN B. DAWIS, in their capacity as councilors The antecedents are as follows:
of the City of Manila,Petitioner,
vs. Private respondent Malate Tourist Development Corporation (MTDC) is a
HON. PERFECTO A.S. LAGUIO, JR., as Presiding Judge, RTC, Manila and corporation engaged in the business of operating hotels, motels, hostels
MALATE TOURIST DEVELOPMENT CORPORATION, Respondents. and lodging houses.5 It built and opened Victoria Court in Malate which
was licensed as a motel although duly accredited with the Department of
DECISION Tourism as a hotel.6 On 28 June 1993, MTDC filed a Petition for
Declaratory Relief with Prayer for a Writ of Preliminary Injunction and/or
TINGA, J.: Temporary Restraining Order7 (RTC Petition) with the lower court
impleading as defendants, herein petitioners City of Manila, Hon. Alfredo
I know only that what is moral is what you feel good after and S. Lim (Lim), Hon. Joselito L. Atienza, and the members of the City
what is immoral is what you feel bad after. Council of Manila (City Council). MTDC prayed that the Ordinance,
insofar as it includes motels and inns as among its prohibited
Ernest Hermingway establishments, be declared invalid and unconstitutional.8
Death in the Afternoon, Ch. 1

1
Enacted by the City Council9 on 9 March 1993 and approved by 8. Discotheques
petitioner City Mayor on 30 March 1993, the said Ordinance is entitled–
9. Cabarets
AN ORDINANCE PROHIBITING THE ESTABLISHMENT OR
OPERATION OF BUSINESSES PROVIDING CERTAIN FORMS OF 10. Dance Halls
AMUSEMENT, ENTERTAINMENT, SERVICES AND FACILITIES IN
THE ERMITA-MALATE AREA, PRESCRIBING PENALTIES FOR 11. Motels
VIOLATION THEREOF, AND FOR OTHER PURPOSES.10
12. Inns
The Ordinance is reproduced in full, hereunder:
SEC. 2 The City Mayor, the City Treasurer or any person acting in
SECTION 1. Any provision of existing laws and ordinances to the behalf of the said officials are prohibited from issuing permits,
contrary notwithstanding, no person, partnership, corporation temporary or otherwise, or from granting licenses and
or entity shall, in the Ermita-Malate area bounded by Teodoro accepting payments for the operation of business enumerated
M. Kalaw Sr. Street in the North, Taft Avenue in the East, Vito in the preceding section.
Cruz Street in the South and Roxas Boulevard in the West,
pursuant to P.D. 499 be allowed or authorized to contract and SEC. 3. Owners and/or operator of establishments engaged in,
engage in, any business providing certain forms of amusement, or devoted to, the businesses enumerated in Section 1 hereof
entertainment, services and facilities where women are used as are hereby given three (3) months from the date of approval of
tools in entertainment and which tend to disturb the this ordinance within which to wind up business operations or
community, annoy the inhabitants, and adversely affect the to transfer to any place outside of the Ermita-Malate area or
social and moral welfare of the community, such as but not convert said businesses to other kinds of business allowable
limited to: within the area, such as but not limited to:

1. Sauna Parlors 1. Curio or antique shop

2. Massage Parlors 2. Souvenir Shops

3. Karaoke Bars 3. Handicrafts display centers

4. Beerhouses 4. Art galleries

5. Night Clubs 5. Records and music shops

6. Day Clubs 6. Restaurants

7. Super Clubs 7. Coffee shops


2
8. Flower shops motels and inns such as MTDC's Victoria Court considering that these
were not establishments for "amusement" or "entertainment" and they
9. Music lounge and sing-along restaurants, with well- were not "services or facilities for entertainment," nor did they use
defined activities for wholesome family entertainment women as "tools for entertainment," and neither did they "disturb the
that cater to both local and foreign clientele. community," "annoy the inhabitants" or "adversely affect the social and
moral welfare of the community."11
10. Theaters engaged in the exhibition, not only of
motion pictures but also of cultural shows, stage and MTDC further advanced that the Ordinance was invalid and
theatrical plays, art exhibitions, concerts and the like. unconstitutional for the following reasons: (1) The City Council has no
power to prohibit the operation of motels as Section 458 (a) 4 (iv)12 of
11. Businesses allowable within the law and medium the Local Government Code of 1991 (the Code) grants to the City Council
intensity districts as provided for in the zoning ordinances only the power to regulate the establishment, operation and
for Metropolitan Manila, except new warehouse or open- maintenance of hotels, motels, inns, pension houses, lodging houses and
storage depot, dock or yard, motor repair shop, gasoline other similar establishments; (2) The Ordinance is void as it is violative of
service station, light industry with any machinery, or Presidential Decree (P.D.) No. 49913 which specifically declared portions
funeral establishments. of the Ermita-Malate area as a commercial zone with certain restrictions;
(3) The Ordinance does not constitute a proper exercise of police power
SEC. 4. Any person violating any provisions of this ordinance, as the compulsory closure of the motel business has no reasonable
shall upon conviction, be punished by imprisonment of one (1) relation to the legitimate municipal interests sought to be protected; (4)
year or fine of FIVE THOUSAND (P5,000.00) PESOS, or both, at The Ordinance constitutes an ex post facto law by punishing the
the discretion of the Court, PROVIDED, that in case of juridical operation of Victoria Court which was a legitimate business prior to its
person, the President, the General Manager, or person-in-charge enactment; (5) The Ordinance violates MTDC's constitutional rights in
of operation shall be liable thereof; PROVIDED FURTHER, that in that: (a) it is confiscatory and constitutes an invasion of plaintiff's
case of subsequent violation and conviction, the premises of property rights; (b) the City Council has no power to find as a fact that a
the erring establishment shall be closed and padlocked particular thing is a nuisance per se nor does it have the power to
permanently. extrajudicially destroy it; and (6) The Ordinance constitutes a denial of
equal protection under the law as no reasonable basis exists for
SEC. 5. This ordinance shall take effect upon approval. prohibiting the operation of motels and inns, but not pension houses,
hotels, lodging houses or other similar establishments, and for
Enacted by the City Council of Manila at its regular session today, prohibiting said business in the Ermita-Malate area but not outside of
March 9, 1993. this area.14

Approved by His Honor, the Mayor on March 30, 1993. In their Answer15 dated 23 July 1993, petitioners City of Manila and Lim
(Emphasis supplied) maintained that the City Council had the power to "prohibit certain
forms of entertainment in order to protect the social and moral welfare
In the RTC Petition, MTDC argued that the Ordinance erroneously and of the community" as provided for in Section 458 (a) 4 (vii) of the Local
improperly included in its enumeration of prohibited establishments, Government Code,16 which reads, thus:
3
Section 458. Powers, Duties, Functions and Compensation. (a) Section 18(kk) of Republic Act No. 409,19 otherwise known as the Revised
The sangguniang panlungsod, as the legislative body of the city, Charter of the City of Manila (Revised Charter of Manila)20 which reads,
shall enact ordinances, approve resolutions and appropriate thus:
funds for the general welfare of the city and its inhabitants
pursuant to Section 16 of this Code and in the proper exercise of ARTICLE III
the corporate powers of the city as provided for under Section 22
of this Code, and shall: THE MUNICIPAL BOARD

.... . . .

(4) Regulate activities relative to the use of land, buildings and Section 18. Legislative powers. – The Municipal Board shall have
structures within the city in order to promote the general the following legislative powers:
welfare and for said purpose shall:
. . .
....
(kk) To enact all ordinances it may deem necessary and proper
(vii) Regulate the establishment, operation, and for the sanitation and safety, the furtherance of the prosperity,
maintenance of any entertainment or amusement and the promotion of the morality, peace, good order, comfort,
facilities, including theatrical performances, circuses, convenience, and general welfare of the city and its inhabitants,
billiard pools, public dancing schools, public dance halls, and such others as may be necessary to carry into effect and
sauna baths, massage parlors, and other places for discharge the powers and duties conferred by this chapter; and
entertainment or amusement; regulate such other events to fix penalties for the violation of ordinances which shall not
or activities for amusement or entertainment, exceed two hundred pesos fine or six months' imprisonment, or
particularly those which tend to disturb the community both such fine and imprisonment, for a single offense.
or annoy the inhabitants, or require the suspension or
suppression of the same; or, prohibit certain forms of Further, the petitioners noted, the Ordinance had the presumption of
amusement or entertainment in order to protect the validity; hence, private respondent had the burden to prove its illegality
social and moral welfare of the community. or unconstitutionality.21

Citing Kwong Sing v. City of Manila,17 petitioners insisted that the power Petitioners also maintained that there was no inconsistency between
of regulation spoken of in the above-quoted provision included the P.D. 499 and the Ordinance as the latter simply disauthorized certain
power to control, to govern and to restrain places of exhibition and forms of businesses and allowed the Ermita-Malate area to remain a
amusement.18 commercial zone.22 The Ordinance, the petitioners likewise claimed,
cannot be assailed as ex post facto as it was prospective in
Petitioners likewise asserted that the Ordinance was enacted by the City operation.23 The Ordinance also did not infringe the equal protection
Council of Manila to protect the social and moral welfare of the clause and cannot be denounced as class legislation as there existed
community in conjunction with its police power as found in Article III,
4
substantial and real differences between the Ermita-Malate area and local government units provided for in Art. 3, Sec. 18 (kk) of the Revised
other places in the City of Manila.24 Charter of Manila and conjunctively, Section 458 (a) 4 (vii) of the
Code.34 They allege that the Ordinance is a valid exercise of police power;
On 28 June 1993, respondent Judge Perfecto A.S. Laguio, Jr. (Judge it does not contravene P.D. 499; and that it enjoys the presumption of
Laguio) issued an ex-parte temporary restraining order against the validity.35
enforcement of the Ordinance.25 And on 16 July 1993, again in an
intrepid gesture, he granted the writ of preliminary injunction prayed for In its Memorandum36 dated 27 May 1996, private respondent maintains
by MTDC.26 that the Ordinance is ultra vires and that it is void for being repugnant to
the general law. It reiterates that the questioned Ordinance is not a valid
After trial, on 25 November 1994, Judge Laguio rendered the exercise of police power; that it is violative of due process, confiscatory
assailed Decision, enjoining the petitioners from implementing and amounts to an arbitrary interference with its lawful business; that it
the Ordinance. The dispositive portion of said Decision reads:27 is violative of the equal protection clause; and that it confers on
petitioner City Mayor or any officer unregulated discretion in the
WHEREFORE, judgment is hereby rendered declaring Ordinance execution of the Ordinance absent rules to guide and control his actions.
No. 778[3], Series of 1993, of the City of Manila null and void,
and making permanent the writ of preliminary injunction that This is an opportune time to express the Court's deep sentiment and
had been issued by this Court against the defendant. No costs. tenderness for the Ermita-Malate area being its home for several
decades. A long-time resident, the Court witnessed the area's many turn
SO ORDERED.28 of events. It relished its glory days and endured its days of infamy. Much
as the Court harks back to the resplendent era of the Old Manila and
Petitioners filed with the lower court a Notice of Appeal29 on 12 yearns to restore its lost grandeur, it believes that the Ordinance is not
December 1994, manifesting that they are elevating the case to this the fitting means to that end. The Court is of the opinion, and so holds,
Court under then Rule 42 on pure questions of law.30 that the lower court did not err in declaring the Ordinance, as it did, ultra
vires and therefore null and void.
On 11 January 1995, petitioners filed the present Petition, alleging that
the following errors were committed by the lower court in its ruling: (1) The Ordinance is so replete with constitutional infirmities that almost
It erred in concluding that the subject ordinance is ultra vires, or every sentence thereof violates a constitutional provision. The
otherwise, unfair, unreasonable and oppressive exercise of police power; prohibitions and sanctions therein transgress the cardinal rights of
(2) It erred in holding that the questioned Ordinancecontravenes P.D. persons enshrined by the Constitution. The Court is called upon to
49931 which allows operators of all kinds of commercial establishments, shelter these rights from attempts at rendering them worthless.
except those specified therein; and (3) It erred in declaring
the Ordinance void and unconstitutional.32 The tests of a valid ordinance are well established. A long line of
decisions has held that for an ordinance to be valid, it must not only be
In the Petition and in its Memorandum,33 petitioners in essence repeat within the corporate powers of the local government unit to enact and
the assertions they made before the lower court. They contend that the must be passed according to the procedure prescribed by law, it must
assailed Ordinance was enacted in the exercise of the inherent and also conform to the following substantive requirements: (1) must not
plenary power of the State and the general welfare clause exercised by contravene the Constitution or any statute; (2) must not be unfair or
5
oppressive; (3) must not be partial or discriminatory; (4) must not safety, enhance the right of the people to a balanced ecology,
prohibit but may regulate trade; (5) must be general and consistent with encourage and support the development of appropriate and self-
public policy; and (6) must not be unreasonable.37 reliant scientific and technological capabilities, improve public
morals, enhance economic prosperity and social justice, promote
Anent the first criterion, ordinances shall only be valid when they are not full employment among their residents, maintain peace and
contrary to the Constitution and to the laws.38 The Ordinance must order, and preserve the comfort and convenience of their
satisfy two requirements: it must pass muster under the test of inhabitants.
constitutionality and the test of consistency with the prevailing laws.
That ordinances should be constitutional uphold the principle of the Local government units exercise police power through their respective
supremacy of the Constitution. The requirement that the enactment legislative bodies; in this case, the sangguniang panlungsod or the city
must not violate existing law gives stress to the precept that local council. The Code empowers the legislative bodies to "enact ordinances,
government units are able to legislate only by virtue of their derivative approve resolutions and appropriate funds for the general welfare of the
legislative power, a delegation of legislative power from the national province/city/municipality and its inhabitants pursuant to Section 16 of
legislature. The delegate cannot be superior to the principal or exercise the Code and in the proper exercise of the corporate powers of the
powers higher than those of the latter.39 province/city/ municipality provided under the Code.42 The inquiry in this
Petition is concerned with the validity of the exercise of such delegated
This relationship between the national legislature and the local power.
government units has not been enfeebled by the new provisions in the
Constitution strengthening the policy of local autonomy. The national The Ordinance contravenes
legislature is still the principal of the local government units, which the Constitution
cannot defy its will or modify or violate it.40
The police power of the City Council, however broad and far-reaching, is
The Ordinance was passed by the City Council in the exercise of its police subordinate to the constitutional limitations thereon; and is subject to
power, an enactment of the City Council acting as agent of Congress. the limitation that its exercise must be reasonable and for the public
Local government units, as agencies of the State, are endowed with good.43 In the case at bar, the enactment of the Ordinance was an invalid
police power in order to effectively accomplish and carry out the exercise of delegated power as it is unconstitutional and repugnant to
declared objects of their creation.41 This delegated police power is found general laws.
in Section 16 of the Code, known as the general welfare clause, viz:
The relevant constitutional provisions are the following:
SECTION 16. General Welfare.Every local government unit shall
exercise the powers expressly granted, those necessarily implied SEC. 5. The maintenance of peace and order, the protection of
therefrom, as well as powers necessary, appropriate, or life, liberty, and property, and the promotion of the general
incidental for its efficient and effective governance, and those welfare are essential for the enjoyment by all the people of the
which are essential to the promotion of the general welfare. blessings of democracy.44
Within their respective territorial jurisdictions, local government
units shall ensure and support, among other things, the
preservation and enrichment of culture, promote health and
6
SEC. 14. The State recognizes the role of women in nation- The guaranty serves as a protection against arbitrary regulation, and
building, and shall ensure the fundamental equality before the private corporations and partnerships are "persons" within the scope of
law of women and men.45 the guaranty insofar as their property is concerned.52

SEC. 1. No person shall be deprived of life, liberty or property This clause has been interpreted as imposing two separate limits on
without due process of law, nor shall any person be denied the government, usually called "procedural due process" and "substantive
equal protection of laws.46 due process."

Sec. 9. Private property shall not be taken for public use without Procedural due process, as the phrase implies, refers to the procedures
just compensation.47 that the government must follow before it deprives a person of life,
liberty, or property. Classic procedural due process issues are concerned
A. The Ordinance infringes with what kind of notice and what form of hearing the government must
the Due Process Clause provide when it takes a particular action.53

The constitutional safeguard of due process is embodied in the fiat "(N)o Substantive due process, as that phrase connotes, asks whether the
person shall be deprived of life, liberty or property without due process government has an adequate reason for taking away a person's life,
of law. . . ."48 liberty, or property. In other words, substantive due process looks to
whether there is a sufficient justification for the government's
There is no controlling and precise definition of due process. It furnishes action.54 Case law in the United States (U.S.) tells us that whether there is
though a standard to which governmental action should conform in such a justification depends very much on the level of scrutiny
order that deprivation of life, liberty or property, in each appropriate used.55 For example, if a law is in an area where only rational basis
case, be valid. This standard is aptly described as a responsiveness to review is applied, substantive due process is met so long as the law is
the supremacy of reason, obedience to the dictates of justice,49and as rationally related to a legitimate government purpose. But if it is an area
such it is a limitation upon the exercise of the police power.50 where strict scrutiny is used, such as for protecting fundamental rights,
then the government will meet substantive due process only if it can
The purpose of the guaranty is to prevent governmental encroachment prove that the law is necessary to achieve a compelling government
against the life, liberty and property of individuals; to secure the purpose.56
individual from the arbitrary exercise of the powers of the government,
unrestrained by the established principles of private rights and The police power granted to local government units must always be
distributive justice; to protect property from confiscation by legislative exercised with utmost observance of the rights of the people to due
enactments, from seizure, forfeiture, and destruction without a trial and process and equal protection of the law. Such power cannot be exercised
conviction by the ordinary mode of judicial procedure; and to secure to whimsically, arbitrarily or despotically57 as its exercise is subject to a
all persons equal and impartial justice and the benefit of the general qualification, limitation or restriction demanded by the respect and
law.51 regard due to the prescription of the fundamental law, particularly those
forming part of the Bill of Rights. Individual rights, it bears emphasis, may
be adversely affected only to the extent that may fairly be required by
the legitimate demands of public interest or public welfare.58 Due
7
process requires the intrinsic validity of the law in interfering with the The object of the Ordinance was, accordingly, the promotion and
rights of the person to his life, liberty and property.59 protection of the social and moral values of the community. Granting for
the sake of argument that the objectives of the Ordinance are within the
Requisites for the valid exercise scope of the City Council's police powers, the means employed for the
of Police Power are not met accomplishment thereof were unreasonable and unduly oppressive.

To successfully invoke the exercise of police power as the rationale for It is undoubtedly one of the fundamental duties of the City of Manila to
the enactment of the Ordinance, and to free it from the imputation of make all reasonable regulations looking to the promotion of the moral
constitutional infirmity, not only must it appear that the interests of the and social values of the community. However, the worthy aim of
public generally, as distinguished from those of a particular class, require fostering public morals and the eradication of the community's social ills
an interference with private rights, but the means adopted must be can be achieved through means less restrictive of private rights; it can be
reasonably necessary for the accomplishment of the purpose and not attained by reasonable restrictions rather than by an absolute
unduly oppressive upon individuals.60It must be evident that no other prohibition. The closing down and transfer of businesses or their
alternative for the accomplishment of the purpose less intrusive of conversion into businesses "allowed" under the Ordinance have no
private rights can work. A reasonable relation must exist between the reasonable relation to the accomplishment of its purposes. Otherwise
purposes of the police measure and the means employed for its stated, the prohibition of the enumerated establishments will not per
accomplishment, for even under the guise of protecting the public seprotect and promote the social and moral welfare of the community; it
interest, personal rights and those pertaining to private property will not will not in itself eradicate the alluded social ills of prostitution, adultery,
be permitted to be arbitrarily invaded.61 fornication nor will it arrest the spread of sexual disease in Manila.

Lacking a concurrence of these two requisites, the police measure shall Conceding for the nonce that the Ermita-Malate area teems with houses
be struck down as an arbitrary intrusion into private rights62 a violation of ill-repute and establishments of the like which the City Council may
of the due process clause. lawfully prohibit,65 it is baseless and insupportable to bring within that
classification sauna parlors, massage parlors, karaoke bars, night clubs,
The Ordinance was enacted to address and arrest the social ills day clubs, super clubs, discotheques, cabarets, dance halls, motels and
purportedly spawned by the establishments in the Ermita-Malate area inns. This is not warranted under the accepted definitions of these
which are allegedly operated under the deceptive veneer of legitimate, terms. The enumerated establishments are lawful pursuits which are
licensed and tax-paying nightclubs, bars, karaoke bars, girlie houses, not per se offensive to the moral welfare of the community.
cocktail lounges, hotels and motels. Petitioners insist that even the
Court in the case of Ermita-Malate Hotel and Motel Operators That these are used as arenas to consummate illicit sexual affairs and as
Association, Inc. v. City Mayor of Manila63 had already taken judicial venues to further the illegal prostitution is of no moment. We lay stress
notice of the "alarming increase in the rate of prostitution, adultery and on the acrid truth that sexual immorality, being a human frailty, may
fornication in Manila traceable in great part to existence of motels, take place in the most innocent of places that it may even take place in
which provide a necessary atmosphere for clandestine entry, presence the substitute establishments enumerated under Section 3 of
and exit and thus become the ideal haven for prostitutes and thrill- the Ordinance. If the flawed logic of the Ordinance were to be followed,
seekers."64 in the remote instance that an immoral sexual act transpires in a church
cloister or a court chamber, we would behold the spectacle of the City of
8
Manila ordering the closure of the church or court concerned. Every their licenses or permits; it may exercise its authority to suspend or
house, building, park, curb, street or even vehicles for that matter will revoke their licenses for these violations;67 and it may even impose
not be exempt from the prohibition. Simply because there are no "pure" increased license fees. In other words, there are other means to
places where there are impure men. Indeed, even the Scripture and the reasonably accomplish the desired end.
Tradition of Christians churches continually recall the presence
and universality of sin in man's history.66 Means employed are
constitutionally infirm
The problem, it needs to be pointed out, is not the establishment, which
by its nature cannot be said to be injurious to the health or comfort of The Ordinance disallows the operation of sauna parlors, massage parlors,
the community and which in itself is amoral, but the deplorable human karaoke bars, beerhouses, night clubs, day clubs, super clubs,
activity that may occur within its premises. While a motel may be used discotheques, cabarets, dance halls, motels and inns in the Ermita-
as a venue for immoral sexual activity, it cannot for that reason alone be Malate area. In Section 3 thereof, owners and/or operators of the
punished. It cannot be classified as a house of ill-repute or as a enumerated establishments are given three (3) months from the date of
nuisance per se on a mere likelihood or a naked assumption. If that were approval of the Ordinance within which "to wind up business operations
so and if that were allowed, then the Ermita-Malate area would not only or to transfer to any place outside the Ermita-Malate area or convert
be purged of its supposed social ills, it would be extinguished of its soul said businesses to other kinds of business allowable within the area."
as well as every human activity, reprehensible or not, in its every nook Further, it states in Section 4 that in cases of subsequent violations of
and cranny would be laid bare to the estimation of the authorities. the provisions of the Ordinance, the "premises of the erring
establishment shall be closed and padlocked permanently."
The Ordinance seeks to legislate morality but fails to address the core
issues of morality. Try as the Ordinance may to shape morality, it should It is readily apparent that the means employed by the Ordinance for the
not foster the illusion that it can make a moral man out of it because achievement of its purposes, the governmental interference itself,
immorality is not a thing, a building or establishment; it is in the hearts infringes on the constitutional guarantees of a person's fundamental
of men. The City Council instead should regulate human conduct that right to liberty and property.
occurs inside the establishments, but not to the detriment of liberty and
privacy which are covenants, premiums and blessings of democracy. Liberty as guaranteed by the Constitution was defined by Justice
Malcolm to include "the right to exist and the right to be free from
While petitioners' earnestness at curbing clearly objectionable social ills arbitrary restraint or servitude. The term cannot be dwarfed into mere
is commendable, they unwittingly punish even the proprietors and freedom from physical restraint of the person of the citizen, but is
operators of "wholesome," "innocent" establishments. In the instant deemed to embrace the right of man to enjoy the facilities with which he
case, there is a clear invasion of personal or property rights, personal in has been endowed by his Creator, subject only to such restraint as are
the case of those individuals desirous of owning, operating and necessary for the common welfare."68 In accordance with this case, the
patronizing those motels and property in terms of the investments made rights of the citizen to be free to use his faculties in all lawful ways; to
and the salaries to be paid to those therein employed. If the City of live and work where he will; to earn his livelihood by any lawful calling;
Manila so desires to put an end to prostitution, fornication and other and to pursue any avocation are all deemed embraced in the concept of
social ills, it can instead impose reasonable regulations such as daily liberty.69
inspections of the establishments for any violation of the conditions of
9
The U.S. Supreme Court in the case of Roth v. Board of Regents,70 sought the motel's premisesbe it stressed that their consensual sexual
to clarify the meaning of "liberty." It said: behavior does not contravene any fundamental state policy as contained
in the Constitution.72 Adults have a right to choose to forge such
While the Court has not attempted to define with exactness the relationships with others in the confines of their own private lives and
liberty. . . guaranteed [by the Fifth and Fourteenth still retain their dignity as free persons. The liberty protected by the
Amendments], the term denotes not merely freedom from Constitution allows persons the right to make this choice.73 Their right to
bodily restraint but also the right of the individual to contract, to liberty under the due process clause gives them the full right to engage
engage in any of the common occupations of life, to acquire in their conduct without intervention of the government, as long as they
useful knowledge, to marry, establish a home and bring up do not run afoul of the law. Liberty should be the rule and restraint the
children, to worship God according to the dictates of his own exception.
conscience, and generally to enjoy those privileges long
recognized…as essential to the orderly pursuit of happiness by Liberty in the constitutional sense not only means freedom from
free men. In a Constitution for a free people, there can be no unlawful government restraint; it must include privacy as well, if it is to
doubt that the meaning of "liberty" must be broad indeed. be a repository of freedom. The right to be let alone is the beginning of
all freedomit is the most comprehensive of rights and the right most
In another case, it also confirmed that liberty protected by the due valued by civilized men.74
process clause includes personal decisions relating to marriage,
procreation, contraception, family relationships, child rearing, and The concept of liberty compels respect for the individual whose claim to
education. In explaining the respect the Constitution demands for the privacy and interference demands respect. As the case of Morfe v.
autonomy of the person in making these choices, the U.S. Supreme Mutuc,75 borrowing the words of Laski, so very aptly stated:
Court explained:
Man is one among many, obstinately refusing reduction to unity.
These matters, involving the most intimate and personal choices His separateness, his isolation, are indefeasible; indeed, they are
a person may make in a lifetime, choices central to personal so fundamental that they are the basis on which his civic
dignity and autonomy, are central to the liberty protected by the obligations are built. He cannot abandon the consequences of his
Fourteenth Amendment. At the heart of liberty is the right to isolation, which are, broadly speaking, that his experience is
define one's own concept of existence, of meaning, of universe, private, and the will built out of that experience personal to
and of the mystery of human life. Beliefs about these matters himself. If he surrenders his will to others, he surrenders himself.
could not define the attributes of personhood where they If his will is set by the will of others, he ceases to be a master of
formed under compulsion of the State.71 himself. I cannot believe that a man no longer a master of
himself is in any real sense free.
Persons desirous to own, operate and patronize the enumerated
establishments under Section 1 of the Ordinancemay seek autonomy for Indeed, the right to privacy as a constitutional right was recognized
these purposes. in Morfe, the invasion of which should be justified by a compelling state
interest. Morfe accorded recognition to the right to privacy
Motel patrons who are single and unmarried may invoke this right to independently of its identification with liberty; in itself it is fully
autonomy to consummate their bonds in intimate sexual conduct within
10
deserving of constitutional protection. Governmental powers should Government from forcing some people alone to bear public burdens
stop short of certain intrusions into the personal life of the citizen.76 which, in all fairness and justice, should be borne by the public as a
whole.79
There is a great temptation to have an extended discussion on these civil
liberties but the Court chooses to exercise restraint and restrict itself to There are two different types of taking that can be identified. A
the issues presented when it should. The previous pronouncements of "possessory" taking occurs when the government confiscates or
the Court are not to be interpreted as a license for adults to engage in physically occupies property. A "regulatory" taking occurs when the
criminal conduct. The reprehensibility of such conduct is not diminished. government's regulation leaves no reasonable economically viable use of
The Court only reaffirms and guarantees their right to make this choice. the property.80
Should they be prosecuted for their illegal conduct, they should suffer
the consequences of the choice they have made. That, ultimately, is their In the landmark case of Pennsylvania Coal v. Mahon,81 it was held that a
choice. taking also could be found if government regulation of the use of
property went "too far." When regulation reaches a certain magnitude,
Modality employed is in most if not in all cases there must be an exercise of eminent domain
unlawful taking and compensation to support the act. While property may be regulated
to a certain extent, if regulation goes too far it will be recognized as a
In addition, the Ordinance is unreasonable and oppressive as it taking.82
substantially divests the respondent of the beneficial use of its
property.77 The Ordinance in Section 1 thereof forbids the running of the No formula or rule can be devised to answer the questions of what is too
enumerated businesses in the Ermita-Malate area and in Section 3 far and when regulation becomes a taking. In Mahon, Justice Holmes
instructs its owners/operators to wind up business operations or to recognized that it was "a question of degree and therefore cannot be
transfer outside the area or convert said businesses into allowed disposed of by general propositions." On many other occasions as well,
businesses. An ordinance which permanently restricts the use of the U.S. Supreme Court has said that the issue of when regulation
property that it can not be used for any reasonable purpose goes beyond constitutes a taking is a matter of considering the facts in each case. The
regulation and must be recognized as a taking of the property without Court asks whether justice and fairness require that the economic loss
just compensation.78 It is intrusive and violative of the private property caused by public action must be compensated by the government and
rights of individuals. thus borne by the public as a whole, or whether the loss should remain
concentrated on those few persons subject to the public action.83
The Constitution expressly provides in Article III, Section 9, that "private
property shall not be taken for public use without just compensation." What is crucial in judicial consideration of regulatory takings is that
The provision is the most important protection of property rights in the government regulation is a taking if it leaves no reasonable economically
Constitution. This is a restriction on the general power of the viable use of property in a manner that interferes with reasonable
government to take property. The constitutional provision is about expectations for use.84 A regulation that permanently denies all
ensuring that the government does not confiscate the property of some economically beneficial or productive use of land is, from the owner's
to give it to others. In part too, it is about loss spreading. If the point of view, equivalent to a "taking" unless principles of nuisance or
government takes away a person's property to benefit society, then property law that existed when the owner acquired the land make the
society should pay. The principal purpose of the guarantee is "to bar the use prohibitable.85 When the owner of real property has been called
11
upon to sacrifice all economically beneficial uses in the name of the The second and third options to transfer to any place outside of the
common good, that is, to leave his property economically idle, he has Ermita-Malate area or to convert into allowed businessesare
suffered a taking.86 confiscatory as well. The penalty of permanent closure in cases of
subsequent violations found in Section 4 of the Ordinance is also
A regulation which denies all economically beneficial or productive use equivalent to a "taking" of private property.
of land will require compensation under the takings clause. Where a
regulation places limitations on land that fall short of eliminating all The second option instructs the owners to abandon their property and
economically beneficial use, a taking nonetheless may have occurred, build another one outside the Ermita-Malate area. In every sense, it
depending on a complex of factors including the regulation's economic qualifies as a taking without just compensation with an additional
effect on the landowner, the extent to which the regulation interferes burden imposed on the owner to build another establishment solely
with reasonable investment-backed expectations and the character of from his coffers. The proffered solution does not put an end to the
government action. These inquiries are informed by the purpose of the "problem," it merely relocates it. Not only is this impractical, it is
takings clause which is to prevent the government from forcing some unreasonable, onerous and oppressive. The conversion into allowed
people alone to bear public burdens which, in all fairness and justice, enterprises is just as ridiculous. How may the respondent convert a
should be borne by the public as a whole.87 motel into a restaurant or a coffee shop, art gallery or music lounge
without essentially destroying its property? This is a taking of private
A restriction on use of property may also constitute a "taking" if not property without due process of law, nay, even without compensation.
reasonably necessary to the effectuation of a substantial public purpose
or if it has an unduly harsh impact on the distinct investment-backed The penalty of closure likewise constitutes unlawful taking that should
expectations of the owner.88 be compensated by the government. The burden on the owner to
convert or transfer his business, otherwise it will be closed permanently
The Ordinance gives the owners and operators of the "prohibited" after a subsequent violation should be borne by the public as this end
establishments three (3) months from its approval within which to "wind benefits them as a whole.
up business operations or to transfer to any place outside of the Ermita-
Malate area or convert said businesses to other kinds of business Petitioners cannot take refuge in classifying the measure as a zoning
allowable within the area." The directive to "wind up business ordinance. A zoning ordinance, although a valid exercise of police power,
operations" amounts to a closure of the establishment, a permanent which limits a "wholesome" property to a use which can not reasonably
deprivation of property, and is practically confiscatory. Unless the owner be made of it constitutes the taking of such property without just
converts his establishment to accommodate an "allowed" business, the compensation. Private property which is not noxious nor intended for
structure which housed the previous business will be left empty and noxious purposes may not, by zoning, be destroyed without
gathering dust. Suppose he transfers it to another area, he will likewise compensation. Such principle finds no support in the principles of justice
leave the entire establishment idle. Consideration must be given to the as we know them. The police powers of local government units which
substantial amount of money invested to build the edifices which the have always received broad and liberal interpretation cannot be
owner reasonably expects to be returned within a period of time. It is stretched to cover this particular taking.
apparent that the Ordinance leaves no reasonable economically viable
use of property in a manner that interferes with reasonable expectations Distinction should be made between destruction from necessity and
for use. eminent domain. It needs restating that the property taken in the
12
exercise of police power is destroyed because it is noxious or intended inhabitants," and "adversely affect the social and moral welfare of the
for a noxious purpose while the property taken under the power of community." The cited case supports the nullification of
eminent domain is intended for a public use or purpose and is therefore the Ordinance for lack of comprehensible standards to guide the law
"wholesome."89 If it be of public benefit that a "wholesome" property enforcers in carrying out its provisions.
remain unused or relegated to a particular purpose, then certainly the
public should bear the cost of reasonable compensation for the Petitioners cannot therefore order the closure of the enumerated
condemnation of private property for public use.90 establishments without infringing the due process clause. These lawful
establishments may be regulated, but not prevented from carrying on
Further, the Ordinance fails to set up any standard to guide or limit the their business. This is a sweeping exercise of police power that is a result
petitioners' actions. It in no way controls or guides the discretion vested of a lack of imagination on the part of the City Council and which
in them. It provides no definition of the establishments covered by it and amounts to an interference into personal and private rights which the
it fails to set forth the conditions when the establishments come within Court will not countenance. In this regard, we take a resolute stand to
its ambit of prohibition. The Ordinance confers upon the mayor arbitrary uphold the constitutional guarantee of the right to liberty and property.
and unrestricted power to close down establishments. Ordinances such
as this, which make possible abuses in its execution, depending upon no Worthy of note is an example derived from the U.S. of a reasonable
conditions or qualifications whatsoever other than the unregulated regulation which is a far cry from the ill-considered Ordinance enacted
arbitrary will of the city authorities as the touchstone by which its by the City Council.
validity is to be tested, are unreasonable and invalid.
The Ordinance should have established a rule by which its impartial In FW/PBS, INC. v. Dallas,95 the city of Dallas adopted a comprehensive
enforcement could be secured.91 ordinance regulating "sexually oriented businesses," which are defined
to include adult arcades, bookstores, video stores, cabarets, motels, and
Ordinances placing restrictions upon the lawful use of property must, in theaters as well as escort agencies, nude model studio and sexual
order to be valid and constitutional, specify the rules and conditions to encounter centers. Among other things, the ordinance required that
be observed and conduct to avoid; and must not admit of the exercise, such businesses be licensed. A group of motel owners were among the
or of an opportunity for the exercise, of unbridled discretion by the law three groups of businesses that filed separate suits challenging the
enforcers in carrying out its provisions.92 ordinance. The motel owners asserted that the city violated the due
process clause by failing to produce adequate support for its supposition
Thus, in Coates v. City of Cincinnati,93 as cited in People v. that renting room for fewer than ten (10) hours resulted in increased
Nazario,94 the U.S. Supreme Court struck down an ordinance that had crime and other secondary effects. They likewise argued than the ten
made it illegal for "three or more persons to assemble on any sidewalk (10)-hour limitation on the rental of motel rooms placed an
and there conduct themselves in a manner annoying to persons passing unconstitutional burden on the right to freedom of association. Anent
by." The ordinance was nullified as it imposed no standard at all the first contention, the U.S. Supreme Court held that the
"because one may never know in advance what 'annoys some people but reasonableness of the legislative judgment combined with a study which
does not annoy others.' " the city considered, was adequate to support the city's determination
that motels permitting room rentals for fewer than ten (10 ) hours
Similarly, the Ordinance does not specify the standards to ascertain should be included within the licensing scheme. As regards the second
which establishments "tend to disturb the community," "annoy the point, the Court held that limiting motel room rentals to ten (10) hours
13
will have no discernible effect on personal bonds as those bonds that are The Court has explained the scope of the equal protection clause in this
formed from the use of a motel room for fewer than ten (10) hours are wise:
not those that have played a critical role in the culture and traditions of
the nation by cultivating and transmitting shared ideals and beliefs. … What does it signify? To quote from J.M. Tuason & Co. v. Land
Tenure Administration: "The ideal situation is for the law's
The ordinance challenged in the above-cited case merely regulated the benefits to be available to all, that none be placed outside the
targeted businesses. It imposed reasonable restrictions; hence, its sphere of its coverage. Only thus could chance and favor be
validity was upheld. excluded and the affairs of men governed by that serene and
impartial uniformity, which is of the very essence of the idea of
The case of Ermita Malate Hotel and Motel Operators Association, Inc. v. law." There is recognition, however, in the opinion that what in
City Mayor of Manila,96 it needs pointing out, is also different from this fact exists "cannot approximate the ideal. Nor is the law
case in that what was involved therein was a measure which regulated susceptible to the reproach that it does not take into account the
the mode in which motels may conduct business in order to put an end realities of the situation. The constitutional guarantee then is not
to practices which could encourage vice and immorality. Necessarily, to be given a meaning that disregards what is, what does in fact
there was no valid objection on due process or equal protection grounds exist. To assure that the general welfare be promoted, which is
as the ordinance did not prohibit motels. The Ordinance in this case the end of law, a regulatory measure may cut into the rights to
however is not a regulatory measure but is an exercise of an assumed liberty and property. Those adversely affected may under such
power to prohibit.97 circumstances invoke the equal protection clause only if they can
show that the governmental act assailed, far from being inspired
The foregoing premises show that the Ordinance is an unwarranted and by the attainment of the common weal was prompted by the
unlawful curtailment of property and personal rights of citizens. For spirit of hostility, or at the very least, discrimination that finds no
being unreasonable and an undue restraint of trade, it cannot, even support in reason." Classification is thus not ruled out, it being
under the guise of exercising police power, be upheld as valid. sufficient to quote from the Tuason decision anew "that the laws
operate equally and uniformly on all persons under similar
B. The Ordinance violates Equal circumstances or that all persons must be treated in the same
Protection Clause manner, the conditions not being different, both in the privileges
conferred and the liabilities imposed. Favoritism and undue
Equal protection requires that all persons or things similarly situated preference cannot be allowed. For the principle is that equal
should be treated alike, both as to rights conferred and responsibilities protection and security shall be given to every person under
imposed. Similar subjects, in other words, should not be treated circumstances which, if not identical, are analogous. If law be
differently, so as to give undue favor to some and unjustly discriminate looked upon in terms of burden or charges, those that fall within
against others.98 The guarantee means that no person or class of persons a class should be treated in the same fashion, whatever
shall be denied the same protection of laws which is enjoyed by other restrictions cast on some in the group equally binding on the
persons or other classes in like circumstances.99 The "equal protection of rest.102
the laws is a pledge of the protection of equal laws."100 It limits
governmental discrimination. The equal protection clause extends to Legislative bodies are allowed to classify the subjects of legislation. If the
artificial persons but only insofar as their property is concerned.101 classification is reasonable, the law may operate only on some and not
14
all of the people without violating the equal protection clause.103 The substantially related to important government objectives.105 Thus, the
classification must, as an indispensable requisite, not be arbitrary. To be discrimination is invalid.
valid, it must conform to the following requirements:
Failing the test of constitutionality, the Ordinance likewise failed to pass
1) It must be based on substantial distinctions. the test of consistency with prevailing laws.

2) It must be germane to the purposes of the law. C. The Ordinance is repugnant


to general laws; it is ultra vires
3) It must not be limited to existing conditions only.
The Ordinance is in contravention of the Code as the latter merely
4) It must apply equally to all members of the class.104 empowers local government units to regulate, and not prohibit, the
establishments enumerated in Section 1 thereof.
In the Court's view, there are no substantial distinctions between motels,
inns, pension houses, hotels, lodging houses or other similar The power of the City Council to regulate by ordinances the
establishments. By definition, all are commercial establishments establishment, operation, and maintenance of motels, hotels and other
providing lodging and usually meals and other services for the public. No similar establishments is found in Section 458 (a) 4 (iv), which provides
reason exists for prohibiting motels and inns but not pension houses, that:
hotels, lodging houses or other similar establishments. The classification
in the instant case is invalid as similar subjects are not similarly treated, Section 458. Powers, Duties, Functions and Compensation. (a)
both as to rights conferred and obligations imposed. It is arbitrary as it The sangguniang panlungsod, as the legislative body of the city,
does not rest on substantial distinctions bearing a just and fair relation to shall enact ordinances, approve resolutions and appropriate
the purpose of the Ordinance. funds for the general welfare of the city and its inhabitants
pursuant to Section 16 of this Code and in the proper exercise of
The Court likewise cannot see the logic for prohibiting the business and the corporate powers of the city as provided for under Section 22
operation of motels in the Ermita-Malate area but not outside of this of this Code, and shall:
area. A noxious establishment does not become any less noxious if
located outside the area. . . .

The standard "where women are used as tools for entertainment" is also (4) Regulate activities relative to the use of land, buildings and
discriminatory as prostitutionone of the hinted ills the Ordinance aims structures within the city in order to promote the general
to banishis not a profession exclusive to women. Both men and welfare and for said purpose shall:
women have an equal propensity to engage in prostitution. It is not any
less grave a sin when men engage in it. And why would the assumption . . .
that there is an ongoing immoral activity apply only when women are
employed and be inapposite when men are in harness? This (iv) Regulate the establishment, operation and maintenance of
discrimination based on gender violates equal protection as it is not cafes, restaurants, beerhouses, hotels, motels, inns, pension

15
houses, lodging houses, and other similar establishments, Clearly, with respect to cafes, restaurants, beerhouses, hotels, motels,
including tourist guides and transports . . . . inns, pension houses, lodging houses, and other similar establishments,
the only power of the City Council to legislate relative thereto is to
While its power to regulate the establishment, operation and regulate them to promote the general welfare. The Code still withholds
maintenance of any entertainment or amusement facilities, and to from cities the power to suppress and prohibit altogether the
prohibit certain forms of amusement or entertainment is provided under establishment, operation and maintenance of such establishments. It is
Section 458 (a) 4 (vii) of the Code, which reads as follows: well to recall the rulings of the Court in Kwong Sing v. City of
Manila106 that:
Section 458. Powers, Duties, Functions and Compensation. (a)
The sangguniang panlungsod, as the legislative body of the city, The word "regulate," as used in subsection (l), section 2444 of
shall enact ordinances, approve resolutions and appropriate the Administrative Code, means and includes the power to
funds for the general welfare of the city and its inhabitants control, to govern, and to restrain; but "regulate" should not be
pursuant to Section 16 of this Code and in the proper exercise of construed as synonymous with "suppress" or "prohibit."
the corporate powers of the city as provided for under Section 22 Consequently, under the power to regulate laundries, the
of this Code, and shall: municipal authorities could make proper police regulations as to
the mode in which the employment or business shall be
. . . exercised.107

(4) Regulate activities relative to the use of land, buildings and And in People v. Esguerra,108 wherein the Court nullified an ordinance of
structures within the city in order to promote the general the Municipality of Tacloban which prohibited the selling, giving and
welfare and for said purpose shall: dispensing of liquor ratiocinating that the municipality is empowered
only to regulate the same and not prohibit. The Court therein declared
. . . that:

(vii) Regulate the establishment, operation, and (A)s a general rule when a municipal corporation is specifically
maintenance of any entertainment or amusement given authority or power to regulate or to license and regulate
facilities, including theatrical performances, circuses, the liquor traffic, power to prohibit is impliedly withheld.109
billiard pools, public dancing schools, public dance halls,
sauna baths, massage parlors, and other places for These doctrines still hold contrary to petitioners' assertion110 that they
entertainment or amusement; regulate such other events were modified by the Code vesting upon City Councils prohibitory
or activities for amusement or entertainment, powers.
particularly those which tend to disturb the community
or annoy the inhabitants, or require the suspension or Similarly, the City Council exercises regulatory powers over public
suppression of the same; or, prohibit certain forms of dancing schools, public dance halls, sauna baths, massage parlors, and
amusement or entertainment in order to protect the other places for entertainment or amusement as found in the first clause
social and moral welfare of the community. of Section 458 (a) 4 (vii). Its powers to regulate, suppress and suspend
"such other events or activities for amusement or entertainment,
16
particularly those which tend to disturb the community or annoy the rights or remedies, impose penalties or punishments, or otherwise come
inhabitants" and to "prohibit certain forms of amusement or under the rule of strict construction.114
entertainment in order to protect the social and moral welfare of the
community" are stated in the second and third clauses, respectively of The argument that the City Council is empowered to enact
the same Section. The several powers of the City Council as provided in the Ordinance by virtue of the general welfare clause of the Code and of
Section 458 (a) 4 (vii) of the Code, it is pertinent to emphasize, are Art. 3, Sec. 18 (kk) of the Revised Charter of Manila is likewise without
separated by semi-colons (;), the use of which indicates that the clauses merit. On the first point, the ruling of the Court in People v.
in which these powers are set forth are independent of each other albeit Esguerra,115 is instructive. It held that:
closely related to justify being put together in a single enumeration or
paragraph.111 These powers, therefore, should not be confused, The powers conferred upon a municipal council in the general
commingled or consolidated as to create a conglomerated and unified welfare clause, or section 2238 of the Revised Administrative
power of regulation, suppression and prohibition.112 Code, refers to matters not covered by the other provisions of
the same Code, and therefore it can not be applied to
The Congress unequivocably specified the establishments and forms of intoxicating liquors, for the power to regulate the selling, giving
amusement or entertainment subject to regulation among which are away and dispensing thereof is granted specifically by section
beerhouses, hotels, motels, inns, pension houses, lodging houses, and 2242 (g) to municipal councils. To hold that, under the general
other similar establishments (Section 458 (a) 4 (iv)), public dancing power granted by section 2238, a municipal council may enact
schools, public dance halls, sauna baths, massage parlors, and other the ordinance in question, notwithstanding the provision of
places for entertainment or amusement (Section 458 (a) 4 (vii)). This section 2242 (g), would be to make the latter superfluous and
enumeration therefore cannot be included as among "other events or nugatory, because the power to prohibit, includes the power to
activities for amusement or entertainment, particularly those which tend regulate, the selling, giving away and dispensing of intoxicating
to disturb the community or annoy the inhabitants" or "certain forms of liquors.
amusement or entertainment" which the City Council may suspend,
suppress or prohibit. On the second point, it suffices to say that the Code being a later
expression of the legislative will must necessarily prevail and override
The rule is that the City Council has only such powers as are expressly the earlier law, the Revised Charter of Manila. Legis posteriores priores
granted to it and those which are necessarily implied or incidental to the contrarias abrogant, or later statute repeals prior ones which are
exercise thereof. By reason of its limited powers and the nature thereof, repugnant thereto. As between two laws on the same subject matter,
said powers are to be construed strictissimi juris and any doubt or which are irreconcilably inconsistent, that which is passed later prevails,
ambiguity arising out of the terms used in granting said powers must be since it is the latest expression of legislative will.116 If there is an
construed against the City Council.113 Moreover, it is a general rule in inconsistency or repugnance between two statutes, both relating to the
statutory construction that the express mention of one person, thing, or same subject matter, which cannot be removed by any fair and
consequence is tantamount to an express exclusion of all reasonable method of interpretation, it is the latest expression of the
others. Expressio unius est exclusio alterium. This maxim is based upon legislative will which must prevail and override the earlier.117
the rules of logic and the natural workings of human mind. It is
particularly applicable in the construction of such statutes as create new Implied repeals are those which take place when a subsequently enacted
law contains provisions contrary to those of an existing law but no
17
provisions expressly repealing them. Such repeals have been divided into pursuant to Section 16 of this Code and in the proper exercise of
two general classes: those which occur where an act is so inconsistent or the corporate powers of the city as provided for under Section 22
irreconcilable with an existing prior act that only one of the two can of this Code, and shall:
remain in force and those which occur when an act covers the whole
subject of an earlier act and is intended to be a substitute therefor. The (1) Approve ordinances and pass resolutions necessary for an
validity of such a repeal is sustained on the ground that the latest efficient and effective city government, and in this connection,
expression of the legislative will should prevail.118 shall:

In addition, Section 534(f) of the Code states that "All general and special . . .
laws, acts, city charters, decrees, executive orders, proclamations and
administrative regulations, or part or parts thereof which are (v) Enact ordinances intended to prevent, suppress and
inconsistent with any of the provisions of this Code are hereby repealed impose appropriate penalties for habitual drunkenness in public
or modified accordingly." Thus, submitting to petitioners' interpretation places, vagrancy, mendicancy, prostitution, establishment and
that the Revised Charter of Manila empowers the City Council to prohibit maintenance of houses of ill repute, gambling and other
motels, that portion of the Charter stating such must be considered prohibited games of chance, fraudulent devices and ways to
repealed by the Code as it is at variance with the latter's provisions obtain money or property, drug addiction, maintenance of drug
granting the City Council mere regulatory powers. dens, drug pushing, juvenile delinquency, the printing,
distribution or exhibition of obscene or pornographic materials
It is well to point out that petitioners also cannot seek cover under the or publications, and such other activities inimical to the welfare
general welfare clause authorizing the abatement of nuisances without and morals of the inhabitants of the city;
judicial proceedings. That tenet applies to a nuisance per se, or one
which affects the immediate safety of persons and property and may be . . .
summarily abated under the undefined law of necessity. It can not be
said that motels are injurious to the rights of property, health or comfort If it were the intention of Congress to confer upon the City Council the
of the community. It is a legitimate business. If it be a nuisance per power to prohibit the establishments enumerated in Section 1 of
accidens it may be so proven in a hearing conducted for that purpose. A the Ordinance, it would have so declared in uncertain terms by adding
motel is not per se a nuisance warranting its summary abatement them to the list of the matters it may prohibit under the above-quoted
without judicial intervention.119 Section. The Ordinance now vainly attempts to lump these
establishments with houses of ill-repute and expand the City Council's
Notably, the City Council was conferred powers to prevent and prohibit powers in the second and third clauses of Section 458 (a) 4 (vii) of the
certain activities and establishments in another section of the Code Code in an effort to overreach its prohibitory powers. It is evident that
which is reproduced as follows: these establishments may only be regulated in their establishment,
operation and maintenance.
Section 458. Powers, Duties, Functions and Compensation. (a)
The sangguniang panlungsod, as the legislative body of the city, It is important to distinguish the punishable activities from the
shall enact ordinances, approve resolutions and appropriate establishments themselves. That these establishments are recognized
funds for the general welfare of the city and its inhabitants legitimate enterprises can be gleaned from another Section of the Code.
18
Section 131 under the Title on Local Government Taxation expressly called the power of subordinate legislation. As delegates of the
mentioned proprietors or operators of massage clinics, sauna, Turkish Congress, the local government units cannot contravene but
and Swedish baths, hotels, motels and lodging houses as among the must obey at all times the will of their principal. In the case
"contractors" defined in paragraph (h) thereof. The same Section also before us, the enactment in question, which are merely local in
defined "amusement" as a "pleasurable diversion and entertainment," origin cannot prevail against the decree, which has the force and
"synonymous to relaxation, avocation, pastime or fun;" and "amusement effect of a statute.123
places" to include "theaters, cinemas, concert halls, circuses and other
places of amusement where one seeks admission to entertain oneself by Petitioners contend that the Ordinance enjoys the presumption of
seeing or viewing the show or performances." Thus, it can be inferred validity. While this may be the rule, it has already been held that
that the Code considers these establishments as legitimate enterprises although the presumption is always in favor of the validity or
and activities. It is well to recall the maxim reddendo singula reasonableness of the ordinance, such presumption must nevertheless
singulis which means that words in different parts of a statute must be be set aside when the invalidity or unreasonableness appears on the face
referred to their appropriate connection, giving to each in its place, its of the ordinance itself or is established by proper evidence. The exercise
proper force and effect, and, if possible, rendering none of them useless of police power by the local government is valid unless it contravenes
or superfluous, even if strict grammatical construction demands the fundamental law of the land, or an act of the legislature, or unless it
otherwise. Likewise, where words under consideration appear in is against public policy or is unreasonable, oppressive, partial,
different sections or are widely dispersed throughout an act the same discriminating or in derogation of a common right.124
principle applies.120
Conclusion
Not only does the Ordinance contravene the Code, it likewise runs
counter to the provisions of P.D. 499. As correctly argued by MTDC, the All considered, the Ordinance invades fundamental personal and
statute had already converted the residential Ermita-Malate area into a property rights and impairs personal privileges. It is constitutionally
commercial area. The decree allowed the establishment and operation infirm. The Ordinance contravenes statutes; it is discriminatory and
of all kinds of commercial establishments except warehouse or open unreasonable in its operation; it is not sufficiently detailed and explicit
storage depot, dump or yard, motor repair shop, gasoline service station, that abuses may attend the enforcement of its sanctions. And not to be
light industry with any machinery or funeral establishment. The rule is forgotten, the City Council under the Code had no power to enact
that for an ordinance to be valid and to have force and effect, it must not the Ordinance and is therefore ultra vires, null and void.
only be within the powers of the council to enact but the same must not
be in conflict with or repugnant to the general law.121As succinctly Concededly, the challenged Ordinance was enacted with the best of
illustrated in Solicitor General v. Metropolitan Manila Authority:122 motives and shares the concern of the public for the cleansing of the
Ermita-Malate area of its social sins. Police power legislation of such
The requirement that the enactment must not violate existing character deserves the full endorsement of the judiciary we reiterate
law explains itself. Local political subdivisions are able to legislate our support for it. But inspite of its virtuous aims, the enactment of
only by virtue of a valid delegation of legislative power from the the Ordinance has no statutory or constitutional authority to stand on.
national legislature (except only that the power to create their Local legislative bodies, in this case, the City Council, cannot prohibit the
own sources of revenue and to levy taxes is conferred by the operation of the enumerated establishments under Section 1 thereof or
Constitution itself). They are mere agents vested with what is order their transfer or conversion without infringing the constitutional
19
guarantees of due process and equal protection of laws not even
under the guise of police power.

WHEREFORE, the Petition is hereby DENIED and the decision of the


Regional Trial Court declaring the Ordinancevoid is AFFIRMED. Costs
against petitioners.

SO ORDERED.

20
accused, who is the incumbent mayor of Bian, Laguna after giving
complainant-child drinking water which made her dizzy and weak, did
then and there willfully, unlawfully and feloniously have carnal
[G.R. No. 131652. March 9, 1998]
knowledge with said JUVIELYN PUNONGBAYAN against her will and
consent, to her damage and prejudice.

BAYANI M. ALONTE, petitioner, vs. HON. MAXIMO A. SAVELLANO JR., That accused Buenaventura `Wella Concepcion without having
NATIONAL BUREAU OF INVESTIGATION and PEOPLE OF THE participated as principal or accessory assisted in the commission of the
PHILIPPINES, respondents. offense by bringing said complainant child to the rest house of accused
Bayani `Arthur Alonte at Sto. Tomas, Bian, Laguna and after receiving the
amount of P1,000.00 left her alone with Bayani Alonte who subsequently
raped her.
[G.R. No. 131728. March 9, 1998]
Contrary to Law.[1]

BUENAVENTURA CONCEPCION, petitioner, vs. JUDGE MAXIMO The case was docketed Criminal Case No. 9619-B and assigned by
SAVELLANO, JR., THE PEOPLE OF THE PHILIPPINES, and JUVIELYN raffle to Branch 25 of the RTC of Bian, Laguna, presided over by Judge
Y. PUNONGBAYAN, respondents. Pablo B. Francisco.
On 13 December 1996, Juvie-lyn Punongbayan, through her counsel
DECISION Attorney Remedios C. Balbin, and Assistant Chief State Prosecutor (ACSP)
VITUG, J.: Leonardo Guiyab, Jr., filed with the Office of the Court Administrator a
Petition for a Change of Venue (docketed Administrative Matter No. 97-
Pending before this Court are two separate petitions, one filed by 1-12-RTC) to have the case transferred and tried by any of the Regional
petitioner Bayani M. Alonte, docketed G.R. No. 131652, and the other by Trial Courts in Metro Manila.
petitioner Buenaventura Concepcion, docketed G.R. No. 131728, that During the pendency of the petition for change of venue, or on 25
assail the decision of respondent Judge Maximo A. Savellano, Jr., of the June 1997, Juvie-lyn Punongbayan, assisted by her parents and counsel,
Regional Trial Court ("RTC"), Branch 53, of Manila finding both petitioners executed an affidavit of desistance, quoted herein in full, as follows:
guilty beyond reasonable doubt of the crime of rape. The two petitions
were consolidated. AFFIDAVIT OF DESISTANCE
On 05 December 1996, an information for rape was filed against
petitioners Bayani M. Alonte, an incumbent Mayor of Bian, Laguna, and I, JUVIE-LYN YAMBAO PUNONGBAYAN, 17 years of age, a resident of No.
Buenaventura Concepcion predicated on a complaint filed by Juvie-lyn 5 Uranus Street, Congressional Avenue Subdivision, Quezon City, duly
Punongbayan. The information contained the following averments; thus: assisted by private legal counsel and my parents, after having duly sworn
in accordance with law, depose and say:
That on or about September 12, 1996, in Sto. Tomas, Bian, Laguna, and
within the jurisdiction of this Honorable court, the above named
1
1. That I am the Complainant in the rape case filed against Mayor Bayani 8. That this is my final decision reached without fear or favor, premised
`Arthur Alonte of Bian, Laguna, with the RTC-Branch 25 of Bian, Laguna; on a corresponding commitment that there will be no reprisals in
whatever form, against members of the police force or any other official
2. That the case has been pending for some time, on preliminary issues, of officer, my relatives and friends who extended assistance to me in
specifically, (a) change of venue, filed with the Supreme Court; whatever way, in my search for justice.
(b) propriety of the appeal to the Court of Appeals, and after its denial by
said court, brought to the Office of the President, on the veracity of the "WHEREOF, I affix my signature this 25 day of June, 1997, in Quezon City.
findings of the Five-Man Investigating Panel of the State Prosecutors
Office, and the Secretary of Justice, and (c) a hold-departure order filed "(Sgd) JUVIE-LYN Y.
with the Bian Court; PUNONGBAYAN
Compl
3. That the legal process moves ever so slowly, and meanwhile, I have ainant
already lost two (2) semesters of my college residence. And when the
actual trial is held after all the preliminary issues are finally resolved, I "Assisted by:
anticipate a still indefinite suspension of my schooling to attend the
hearings; (Sgd) ATTY. REMEDIOS C. BALBIN
Private Prosecutor
4. That during the entire period since I filed the case, my family has lived
a most abnormal life: my father and mother had to give up their jobs; my "In the presence of:
younger brother, who is in fourth grade, had to stop his schooling, like
myself; (Sgd) PABLO PUNONGBAYAN
Father
5. That I do not blame anyone for the long, judicial process, I simply wish
to stop and live elsewhere with my family, where we can start life anew, (Sgd) JULIE Y. PUNONGBAYAN
and live normally once again; Mother

6. That I pray that I be allowed to withdraw my complaint for rape and "SUBSCRIBED AND SWORN to before me this 25 day of June, 1997, in
the other charge for child abuse wherein the Five-Man Investigating Quezon City.
Panel of the Office of the State Prosecutor found a prima facie case
although the information has not been filed, and that I will not at any "(Sgd) Illegible
time revive this, and related cases or file new cases, whether, criminal, Administering
civil, and/or administrative, here or anywhere in the Philippines; Officer"[2]

7. That I likewise realize that the execution of this Affidavit will put to On 28 June 1997, Atty. Ramon C. Casino, on behalf of petitioners,
doubt my credibility as a witness-complainant; moved to have the petition for change of venue dismissed on the ground
that it had become moot in view of complainant's affidavit of
desistance. On 22 August 1997, ACSP Guiyab filed his comment on the
2
motion to dismiss. Guiyab asserted that he was not aware of the On 07 October 1997, Juvie-lyn Punongbayan, through Attorney
desistance of private complainant and opined that the desistance, in any Balbin, submitted to the Manila court a "compliance" where she
case, would not produce any legal effect since it was the public prosecutor reiterated "her decision to abide by her Affidavit of Desistance."
who had direction and control of the prosecution of the criminal
In an Order, dated 09 October 1997, Judge Savellano found probable
action. He prayed for the denial of the motion to dismiss.
cause for the issuance of warrants for the arrest of petitioners Alonte and
On 02 September 1997, this Court issued a Resolution (Administrative Concepcion without prejudice to, and independent of, this Courts
Matter No. 97-1-12-RTC), granting the petition for change of venue. The separate determination as the trier of facts, of the voluntariness and
Court said: validity of the [private complainant's] desistance in the light of the
opposition of the public prosecutor, Asst. Chief State Prosecutor Leonardo
"These affidavits give specific names, dates, and methods being used to Guiyab.
abort, by coercion or corruption, the prosecution of Criminal Case No.
On 02 November 1997, Alonte voluntarily surrendered himself to
9619-B. It is thus incorrect for oppositors Alonte and Concepcion to
Director Santiago Toledo of the National Bureau of Investigation (NBI),
contend that the fear of the petitioner, her private counsel and her
while Concepcion, in his case, posted the recommended bail
witnesses are too generalized if not fabricated.Indeed, the probability
of P150,000.00.
that in desisting from pursuing her complaint for rape, petitioner, a
minor, may have succumbed to some illicit influence and undue On 07 November 1997, petitioners were arraigned and both pleaded
pressure. To prevent possible miscarriage of justice is a good excuse to not guilty to the charge. The parties manifested that they were waiving
grant the petition to transfer the venue of Criminal Case No. 9619-B pre-trial. The proceedings forthwith went on. Per Judge Savellano, both
from Bian, Laguna to the City of Manila. parties agreed to proceed with the trial of the case on the
merits.[4] According to Alonte, however, Judge Savellano allowed the
"IN VIEW WHEREOF, the Petition for Change of Venue from Bian, Laguna prosecution to present evidence relative only to the question of the
to the City of Manila is granted.The Executive Judge of RTC Manila is voluntariness and validity of the affidavit of desistance.[5]
ordered to raffle Crim. Case No. 9619-B to any of its branches. The judge
It would appear that immediately following the arraignment, the
to whom Crim. Case No. 9619-B shall be raffled shall resolve the
prosecution presented private complainant Juvie-lyn Punongbayan
petitioner's Motion to Resume Proceedings filed in Br. XXV of the RTC of
followed by her parents. During this hearing, Punongbayan affirmed the
Bian, Laguna and determine the voluntariness and validity of petitioner's
validity and voluntariness of her affidavit of desistance. She stated that
desistance in light of the opposition of the public prosecutor, Asst. Chief
she had no intention of giving positive testimony in support of the charges
State Prosecutor Leonardo Guiyab. The branch clerk of court of Br. XXV
against Alonte and had no interest in further prosecuting the
of the RTC of Bian, Laguna is ordered to personally deliver to the
action. Punongbayan confirmed: (i) That she was compelled to desist
Executive Judge of Manila the complete records of Crim. Case No. 9619-
because of the harassment she was experiencing from the media, (ii) that
B upon receipt of this Resolution."[3]
no pressures nor influence were exerted upon her to sign the affidavit of
desistance, and (iii)that neither she nor her parents received a single
On 17 September 1997, the case, now re-docketed Criminal Case No.
centavo from anybody to secure the affidavit of desistance.
97-159955 by the Clerk of Court of Manila, was assigned by raffle to
Branch 53, RTC Manila, with respondent Judge Maximo A. Savellano, Jr., Assistant State Prosecutor Marilyn Campomanes then presented, in
presiding. sequence: (i) Punongbayans parents, who affirmed their signatures on the

3
affidavit of desistance and their consent to their daughters decision to On 18 December 1997, after the case was called, Atty. Sigrid Fortun
desist from the case, and (ii) Assistant Provincial Prosecutor Alberto and Atty. Jose Flaminiano manifested that Alonte could not attend the
Nofuente, who attested that the affidavit of desistance was signed by promulgation of the decision because he was suffering from mild
Punongbayan and her parents in his presence and that he was satisfied hypertension and was confined at the NBI clinic and that, upon the other
that the same was executed freely and voluntarily. Finally, Campomanes hand, petitioner Concepcion and his counsel would appear not to have
manifested that in light of the decision of private complainant and her been notified of the proceedings. The promulgation, nevertheless, of the
parents not to pursue the case, the State had no further evidence against decision proceeded in absentia; the reading concluded:
the accused to prove the guilt of the accused. She, then, moved for the
"dismissal of the case" against both Alonte and Concepcion. WHEREFORE, judgment is hereby rendered finding the two (2) accused
Mayor Bayani Alonte and Buenaventura `Wella Concepcion guilty
Thereupon, respondent judge said that "the case was submitted for
beyond reasonable doubt of the heinous crime of RAPE, as defined and
decision."[6]
penalized under Article 335(2) in relation to Article 27 of the Revised
On 10 November 1997, petitioner Alonte filed an "Urgent Motion to Penal Code, as amended by Republic Act No. 7659, for which each one of
Admit to Bail." Assistant State Prosecutor Campomanes, in a Comment the them is hereby sentenced to suffer the indivisible penalty
filed on the same date, stated that the State interposed no objection to of RECLUSION PERPETUA or imprisonment for twenty (20) years and one
the granting of bail and in fact Justice and Equity dictates that it joins the (1) day to forty (40) years.
accused in his prayer for the granting of bail.
In view thereof, the bail bond put up by the accused Buenaventura
Respondent judge did not act on the application for bail.
`Wella Concepcion for his provisional liberty is hereby cancelled and
On 17 November 1997, Alonte filed anew an Urgent Plea to Resolve rendered without any further force and effect.
the Motion for Bail. On even date, ASP Campomanes filed a Manifestation
deeming "it proper and in accord with justice and fair play to join the SO ORDERED.[7]
aforestated motion.
On the same day of 18th December 1997, petitioner Alonte filed a
Again, the respondent judge did not act on the urgent motion.
motion for reconsideration. Without waiting for its resolution, Alonte
The records would indicate that on the 25th November 1997, 1st filed the instant "Ex Abundante Ad Cautelam" for "Certiorari,
December 1997, 8th December 1997 and 10th December 1997, petitioner Prohibition, Habeas Corpus, Bail, Recusation of respondent Judge, and for
Alonte filed a Second, Third, Fourth and Fifth Motion for Early Resolution, Disciplinary Action against an RTC Judge."Petitioner Concepcion later filed
respectively, in respect of his application for bail. None of these motions his own petition for certiorari and mandamus with the Court.
were acted upon by Judge Savellano.
Alonte submits the following grounds in support of his petition
On 17 December 1997, Attorney Philip Sigfrid A. Fortun, the lead seeking to have the decision nullified and the case remanded for new trial;
counsel for petitioner Alonte received a notice from the RTC Manila, thus:
Branch 53, notifying him of the schedule of promulgation, on 18
December 1997, of the decision on the case. The counsel for accused The respondent Judge committed grave abuse of discretion amounting
Concepcion denied having received any notice of the scheduled to lack or excess of jurisdiction when he rendered a Decision in the
promulgation.

4
case a quo (Annex A) without affording the petitioner his Constitutional 3. The decision had been rendered in gross violation of the right of the
right to due process of law (Article III, 1, Constitution). accused to a fair trial by an impartial and neutral judge whose actuations
and outlook of the case had been motivated by a sinister desire to ride
The respondent Judge committed grave abuse of discretion amounting on the crest of media hype that surrounded this case and use this case as
to lack or excess of jurisdiction when he rendered a Decision in the a tool for his ambition for promotion to a higher court.
case a quo in violation of the mandatory provisions of the Rules on
Criminal Procedure, specifically, in the conduct and order of trial (Rule 4. The decision is patently contrary to law and the jurisprudence in so far
119) prior to the promulgation of a judgment (Rule 120; Annex A). as it convicts the petitioner as a principal even though he has been
charged only as an accomplice in the information.[9]
The respondent Judge committed grave abuse of discretion amounting
to lack or excess of jurisdiction when, in total disregard of the Revised The petitions deserve some merit; the Court will disregard, in view of
Rules on Evidence and existing doctrinal jurisprudence, he rendered a the case milieu, the prematurity of petitioners' invocation, i.e., even
Decision in the case a quo (Annex A) on the basis of two (2) affidavits before the trial court could resolve Alonte's motion for reconsideration.
(Punongbayans and Balbins) which were neither marked nor offered into
The Court must admit that it is puzzled by the somewhat strange way
evidence by the prosecution, nor without giving the petitioner
the case has proceeded below. Per Judge Savellano, after the waiver by
an opportunity to cross-examine the affiants thereof, again in violation
the parties of the pre-trial stage, the trial of the case did proceed on the
of petitioners right to due process (Article III, 1, Constitution).
merits but that -
The respondent Judge committed grave abuse of discretion amounting
"The two (2) accused did not present any countervailing evidence during
to lack or excess of jurisdiction when he rendered a Decision in the
the trial. They did not take the witness stand to refute or deny under
case a quo without conducting a trial on the facts which would establish
oath the truth of the contents of the private complainant's
that complainant was raped by petitioner (Rule 119, Article III, 1,
aforementioned affidavit which she expressly affirmed and confirmed in
Constitution), thereby setting a dangerous precedent where heinous
Court, but, instead, thru their respective lawyers, they rested and
offenses can result in conviction without trial (then with more reason
submitted the case for decision merely on the basis of the private
that simpler offenses could end up with the same result).[8]
complainant's so called 'desistance' which, to them, was sufficient
enough for their purposes. They left everything to the so-called
On the other hand, Concepcion relies on the following grounds in
'desistance' of the private complainant."[10]
support of his own petition; thus:
According to petitioners, however, there was no such trial for what
1. The decision of the respondent Judge rendered in the course of
was conducted on 07 November 1997, aside from the arraignment of the
resolving the prosecutions motion to dismiss the case is a patent nullity
accused, was merely a proceeding in conformity with the resolution of this
for having been rendered without jurisdiction, without the benefit of a
Court in Administrative Case No. 97-1-12-RTC to determine the validity
trial and in total violation of the petitioners right to due process of law.
and voluntariness of the affidavit of desistance executed by Punongbayan.
2. There had been no valid promulgation of judgment at least as far as It does seem to the Court that there has been undue precipitancy in
petitioner is concerned. the conduct of the proceedings.Perhaps the problem could have well been
avoided had not the basic procedures been, to the Court's perception,
5
taken lightly. And in this shortcoming, looking at the records of the case, "(a) The prosecution shall present evidence to prove the charge and, in
the trial court certainly is not alone to blame. the proper case, the civil liability.
Section 14, paragraphs (1) and (2), of Article III, of the Constitution
"(b) The accused may present evidence to prove his defense, and
provides the fundamentals.
damages, if any, arising from the issuance of any provisional remedy in
the case.
"(1) No person shall be held to answer for a criminal offense without due
process of law.
"(c) The parties may then respectively present rebutting evidence only,
unless the court, in furtherance of justice, permits them to present
"(2) In all criminal prosecutions, the accused shall be presumed innocent
additional evidence bearing upon the main issue.
until the contrary is proved, and shall enjoy the right to be heard by
himself and counsel, to be informed of the nature and cause of the
"(d) Upon admission of the evidence, the case shall be deemed
accusation against him, to have a speedy, impartial, and public trial, to
submitted for decision unless the court directs the parties to argue orally
meet the witnesses face to face, and to have compulsory process to
or to submit memoranda.
secure the attendance of witnesses and the production of evidence in his
behalf. However, after arraignment, trial may proceed notwithstanding
"(e) However, when the accused admits the act or omission charged in
the absence of the accused provided that he has been duly notified and
the complaint or information but interposes a lawful defense, the order
his failure to appear is unjustifiable."
of trial may be modified accordingly."
Jurisprudence[11] acknowledges that due process in criminal
In Tabao vs. Espina,[14] the Court has underscored the need to adhere
proceedings, in particular, require (a) that the court or tribunal trying the
strictly to the above rules. It reminds that -
case is properly clothed with judicial power to hear and determine the
matter before it; (b) that jurisdiction is lawfully acquired by it over the
"x x x each step in the trial process serves a specific purpose. In the trial
person of the accused; (c) that the accused is given an opportunity to be
of criminal cases, the constitutional presumption of innocence in favor of
heard; and (d) that judgment is rendered only upon lawful hearing.[12]
an accused requires that an accused be given sufficient opportunity to
The above constitutional and jurisprudential postulates, by now present his defense. So, with the prosecution as to its evidence.
elementary and deeply imbedded in our own criminal justice system, are
mandatory and indispensable. The principles find universal acceptance "Hence, any deviation from the regular course of trial should always take
and are tersely expressed in the oft-quoted statement that procedural into consideration the rights of all the parties to the case, whether in the
due process cannot possibly be met without a "law which hears before it prosecution or defense. In the exercise of their discretion, judges are
condemns, which proceeds upon inquiry and renders judgment only after sworn not only to uphold the law but also to do what is fair and just. The
trial."[13] judicial gavel should not be wielded by one who has an unsound and
distorted sense of justice and fairness.[15]
The order of trial in criminal cases is clearly spelled out in Section 3,
Rule 119, of the Rules of Court; viz:
While Judge Savellano has claimed in his Comment that -
"Sec. 3. Order of trial. - The trial shall proceed in the following order:

6
"Petitioners-accused were each represented during the hearing on 07 Nevertheless, it is needful to stress a few observations on the
November 1997 with their respective counsel of choice. None of their affidavit of desistance executed by the complainant.
counsel interposed an intention to cross-examine rape victim Juvielyn
Firstly, the affidavit of desistance of Juvie-Lyn Punongbayan,
Punongbayan, even after she attested, in answer to respondent judge's
hereinbefore quoted, does not contain any statement that disavows the
clarificatory questions, the voluntariness and truth of her two affidavits -
veracity of her complaint against petitioners but merely seeks to "be
one detailing the rape and the other detailing the attempts to buy her
allowed to withdraw" her complaint and to discontinue with the case for
desistance; the opportunity was missed/not used, hence waived. The
varied other reasons. On this subject, the case of People vs.
rule of case law is that the right to confront and cross-examine a witness
Junio,[21] should be instructive. The Court has there explained:
'is a personal one and may be waived.'" (emphasis supplied) -
The appellants submission that the execution of an Affidavit of
it should be pointed out, however, that the existence of the waiver must
Desistance by complainant who was assisted by her mother supported
be positively demonstrated. The standard of waiver requires that it "not
the `inherent incredibility of prosecutions evidence is specious. We have
only must be voluntary, but must be knowing, intelligent, and done with
said in so many cases that retractions are generally unreliable and are
sufficient awareness of the relevant circumstances and likely
looked upon with considerable disfavor by the courts. The unreliable
consequences."[16] Mere silence of the holder of the right should not be so
character of this document is shown by the fact that it is quite incredible
construed as a waiver of right, and the courts must indulge every
that after going through the process of having accused-appellant
reasonable presumption against waiver.[17] The Solicitor General has aptly
arrested by the police, positively identifying him as the person who
discerned a few of the deviations from what otherwise should have been
raped her, enduring the humiliation of a physical examination of her
the regular course of trial: (1) Petitioners have not been directed to
private parts, and then repeating her accusations in open court by
present evidence to prove their defenses nor have dates therefor been
recounting her anguish, Maryjane would suddenly turn around and
scheduled for the purpose;[18] (2) the parties have not been given the
declare that `[a]fter a careful deliberation over the case, (she) find(s)
opportunity to present rebutting evidence nor have dates been set by
that the same does not merit or warrant criminal prosecution.
respondent Judge for the purpose;[19] and (3) petitioners have not
admitted the act charged in the Information so as to justify any
Thus, we have declared that at most the retraction is an afterthought
modification in the order of trial.[20] There can be no short-cut to the legal
which should not be given probative value. It would be a dangerous rule
process, and there can be no excuse for not affording an accused his full
to reject the testimony taken before the court of justice simply because
day in court. Due process, rightly occupying the first and foremost place
the witness who has given it later on changed his mind for one reason or
of honor in our Bill of Rights, is an enshrined and invaluable right that
another. Such a rule will make a solemn trial a mockery and place the
cannot be denied even to the most undeserving.
investigation at the mercy of unscrupulous witnesses. Because affidavits
This case, in fine, must be remanded for further proceedings. And, of retraction can easily be secured from poor and ignorant witnesses,
since the case would have to be sent back to the court a quo, usually for monetary consideration, the Court has invariably regarded
this ponencia has carefully avoided making any statement or reference such affidavits as exceedingly unreliable. [Flores vs. People, 211 SCRA
that might be misconstrued as prejudgment or as pre-empting the trial 622, citing De Guzman vs. Intermediate Appellate Court, 184 SCRA 128;
court in the proper disposition of the case. The Court likewise deems it People vs. Galicia, 123 SCRA 550.][22]
appropriate that all related proceedings therein, including the petition for
bail, should be subject to the proper disposition of the trial court.

7
The Junio rule is no different from ordinary criminal cases. For testimony. A retraction does not necessarily negate an earlier
instance, in People vs. Ballabare,[23] a murder case, the Court has ruled: declaration. [People vs. Davatos, 229 SCRA 647.] For this reason, courts
look with disfavor upon retractions because they can easily be obtained
The contention has no merit. To begin with, the Affidavit executed by from witnesses usually through intimidation or for monetary
eyewitness Tessie Asenita is not a recantation. To recant a prior considerations. [People vs. Clamor, 198 SCRA 642.] Hence, when
statement is to renounce and withdraw it formally and publicly. [36 confronted with a situation where a witness recants his testimony,
WORDS AND PHRASES 683, citing Pradlik vs. State, 41-A 2nd, 906, courts must not automatically exclude the original testimony solely on
907.] In her affidavit, Tessie Asenita did not really recant what she had the basis of the recantation. They should determine which testimony
said during the trial. She only said she wanted to withdraw her testimony should be given credence through a comparison of the original testimony
because her father, Leonardo Tacadao, Sr., was no longer interested in and the new testimony, applying the general rules of evidence. [Reano
prosecuting the case against accused-appellant.Thus, her affidavit vs. Court of Appeals, 165 SCRA 525.] In this case we think the trial court
stated: correctly ruled.[24]

3. That inasmuch as my father, Leonardo Tacadao, Sr., the complainant It may not be amiss to state that courts have the inherent power to
therein, was no longer interested to prosecute the case as manifested in compel the attendance of any person to testify in a case pending before
the Sworn Affidavit of Desistance before the Provincial Prosecutor, I do it, and a party is not precluded from invoking that authority.[25]
hereby WITHDRAW and/or REVOKE my testimony of record to confirm
Secondly, an affidavit of desistance by itself, even when construed as
(sic) with my fathers desire;
a pardon in the so-called "private crimes," is not a ground for the dismissal
of the criminal case once the action has been instituted. The affidavit,
It is absurd to disregard a testimony that has undergone trial and
nevertheless, may, as so earlier intimated, possibly constitute evidence
scrutiny by the court and the parties simply because an affidavit
whose weight or probative value, like any other piece of evidence, would
withdrawing the testimony is subsequently presented by the defense. In
be up to the court for proper evaluation. The decision in Junio went on to
the first place, any recantation must be tested in a public trial with
hold -
sufficient opportunity given to the party adversely affected by it to cross-
examine the recanting witness. In this case, Tessie Asenita was not
While `[t]he offenses of seduction, abduction, rape or acts of
recalled to the witness stand to testify on her affidavit. Her affidavit is
lasciviousness, shall not be prosecuted except upon a complaint filed by
thus hearsay. It was her husband, Roque Asenita, who was presented
the offended party or her parents, grandparents, or guardian, nor in any
and the matters he testified to did not even bear on the substance of
case, if the offender has been expressly pardoned by the above named
Tessies affidavit. He testified that accused-appellant was not involved in
persons, as the case may be, [Third par. of Art. 344, The Revised Penal
the perpetration of the crime.
Code.] the pardon to justify the dismissal of the complaint should have
been made prior to the institution of the criminal action. [People vs.
In the second place, to accept the new evidence uncritically would be to
Entes, 103 SCRA 162, cited by People vs. Soliao, 194 SCRA 250, which in
make a solemn trial a mockery and place the investigation at the mercy
turn is cited in People vs. Villorente, 210 SCRA 647.] Here, the motion to
of unscrupulous witnesses. [De Guzman vs. Intermediate Appellate
dismiss to which the affidavit of desistance is attached was filed after the
Court, 184 SCRA 128, 134, citing People vs. Morales, 113 SCRA 683.] For
institution of the criminal case. And, affiant did not appear to be serious
even assuming that Tessie Asenita had made a retraction, this
in `signifying (her) intention to refrain from testifying since she still
circumstance alone does not require the court to disregard her original
8
completed her testimony notwithstanding her earlier affidavit of guardian, nor, in any case, if the offender has been expressly pardoned
desistance. More, the affidavit is suspect considering that while it was by the above-named persons, as the case may be. It does not prohibit
dated `April 1992, it was only submitted sometime in August 1992, four the continuance of a prosecution if the offended party pardons the
(4) months after the Information was filed before the court a quo on 6 offender after the cause has been instituted, nor does it order the
April 1992, perhaps dated as such to coincide with the actual filing of the dismissal of said cause. The only act that according to article 344
case.[26] extinguishes the penal action and the penalty that may have been
imposed is the marriage between the offended and the offended
In People vs. Miranda,[27] applying the pertinent provisions of Article party."[28]
344 of the Revised Penal Code which, in full, states -
In People vs. Infante,[29] decided just a little over a month
"Art. 344. Prosecution of the crimes of adultery, concubinage, seduction, before Miranda, the Court similarly held:
abduction, rape, and acts of lasciviousness. The crimes of adultery and
concubinage shall not be prosecuted except upon a complaint filed by "In this court, after the case had been submitted, a motion to dismiss
the offended spouse. was filed on behalf of the appellant predicated on an affidavit executed
by Manuel Artigas, Jr., in which he pardoned his guilty spouse for her
"The offended party cannot institute criminal prosecution without infidelity. But this attempted pardon cannot prosper for two
including both the guilty parties, if they are both alive, nor, in any case, if reasons. The second paragraph of article 344 of the Revised Penal Code
he shall have consented or pardoned the offenders. which is in question reads: 'The offended party cannot institute criminal
prosecution without including both the guilty parties, if they are both
"The offenses of seduction, abduction, rape or acts of lasciviousness, alive, nor, in any case, if he shall have consented or pardoned the
shall not be prosecuted except upon a complaint filed by the offended offenders.' This provision means that the pardon afforded the offenders
party or her parents, grandparents, or guardian, nor, in any case, if the must come before the institution of the criminal prosecution, and
offender has been expressly pardoned by the above named persons, as means, further, that both the offenders must be pardoned by the
the case may be. offended party. To elucidate further, article 435 of the old Penal Code
provided: 'The husband may at any time remit the penalty imposed upon
"In cases of seduction, abduction, acts of lasciviousness and rape, the his wife. In such case the penalty imposed upon the wife's paramour
marriage of the offender with the offended party shall extinguish the shall also be deemed to be remitted.' These provisions of the old Penal
criminal action or remit the penalty already imposed upon him. The Code became inoperative after the passage of Act No. 1773, section 2,
provisions of this paragraph shall also be applicable to the coprincipals, which had the effect of repealing the same. The Revised Penal Code
accomplices and accessories after the fact of the above-mentioned thereafter expressly repealed the old Penal Code, and in so doing did not
crimes." - have the effect of reviving any of its provisions which were not in
force. But with the incorporation of the second paragraph of article 344,
the Court said: the pardon given by the offended party again constitutes a bar to the
prosecution for adultery. Once more, however, it must be emphasized
"Paragraph 3 of the legal provision above quoted prohibits a prosecution that this pardon must come before the institution of the criminal
for seduction, abduction, rape, or acts of lasciviousness, except upon a prosecution and must be for both offenders to be effective -
complaint made by the offended party or her parents, grandparents, or circumstances which do not concur in this case."[30]
9
The decisions speak well for themselves, and the Court need not say (b) For FAILURE OF DUE PROCESS, the assailed judgment, dated 12
more than what it has heretofore already held. December 1997, convicting petitioners is declared NULL AND VOID and
thereby SET ASIDE; accordingly, the case is REMANDED to the trial court
Relative to the prayer for the disqualification of Judge Savellano from
for further proceedings; and
further hearing the case, the Court is convinced that Judge Savellano
should, given the circumstances, be best excused from the case. Possible
(c) Judge Maximo A. Savellano, Jr., presiding Judge of Branch 53 of the
animosity between the personalities here involved may not all be that
Regional Trial Court of Manila, is ENJOINED from further hearing Criminal
unlikely. The pronouncement of this Court in the old case of Luque vs.
Case No. 97-159935; instead, the case shall immediately be scheduled
Kayanan[31] could again be said: All suitors are entitled to nothing short of
for raffle among the other branches of that court for proper disposition.
the cold neutrality of an independent, wholly-free, disinterested and
unbiased tribunal. Second only to the duty of rendering a just decision is
No special pronouncement on costs.
the duty of doing it in a manner that will not arouse any suspicion as to
the fairness and integrity of the Judge.[32] It is not enough that a court is SO ORDERED.
impartial, it must also be perceived as impartial.
The Court cannot end this ponencia without a simple reminder on the
use of proper language before the courts. While the lawyer in promoting
the cause of his client or defending his rights might do so with fervor,
simple courtesy demands that it be done within the bounds of propriety
and decency. The use of intemperate language and unkind ascriptions
hardly can be justified nor can have a place in the dignity of judicial
forum.Civility among members of the legal profession is a treasured
tradition that must at no time be lost to it.
Finally, it may be opportune to say, once again, that prosecutors are
expected not merely to discharge their duties with the highest degree of
excellence, professionalism and skill but also to act each time with utmost
devotion and dedication to duty.[33] The Court is hopeful that the zeal
which has been exhibited many times in the past, although regrettably a
disappointment on few occasions, will not be wanting in the proceedings
yet to follow.
WHEREFORE, conformably with all the foregoing, the Court hereby
RULES that -

(a) The submission of the "Affidavit of Desistance," executed by Juvie-Lyn


Y. Punongbayan on 25 June 1997, having been filed AFTER the institution
of Criminal Case No. 97-159935, DOES NOT WARRANT THE DISMISSAL of
said criminal case;
10
exile and despite the regime's refusal to give him a passport, he sought
[ G.R. No. 72670, September 12, 1986 ] to return home "to strive for a genuine national reconciliation founded
on justice." He was to be cold-bloodedly killed while under escort away
Galman v Sandiganbayan by soldiers from his plane that had just landed at the Manila
International Airport on that fateful day at past 1 p.m. His brain was
228 Phil. 42 smashed by a bullet fired point-blank into the back of his head by a
murderous assassin, notwithstanding that the airport was ringed by
TEEHANKEE, C.J. airtight security of close to 2,000 soldiers and "from a military viewpoint,
it (was) technically impossible to get inside (such) a cordon."[2] The
Last August 21st, our nation marked with solemnity and for the first time military investigators reported within a span of three hours that the man
in freedom the third anniversary of the treacherous assassination of who shot Aquino (whose identity was then supposed to be unknown and
foremost opposition leader former Senator Benigno "Ninoy" Aquino, Jr. was revealed only days later as Rolando Galman, although he was the
imprisoned for almost eight years since the imposition of martial law in personal friend of accused Col. Arturo Custodio who picked him up from
September, 1972 by then President Ferdinand E. Marcos, he was his house on August 17, 1983) was a communist-hired gunman, and that
sentenced to death by firing squad by a military tribunal for common the military escorts gunned him down in turn. The military later filmed a
offenses alleged to have been committed long before the declaration of re-enactment of the killing scripted according to this version and
martial law and whose jurisdiction over him as a civilian entitled to trial continuously replayed it on all TV channels as if it were taken live on the
by judicial process by civil courts he repudiated. Ninoy pleaded in vain spot. The then President instantly accepted the military version and
that the military tribunals are admittedly not courts but mere repeated it in a nationally televised press conference that he gave late in
instruments and subject to the control of the President as created by the evening of August 22, 1983, wherein he said, in order to induce
him under the General Orders issued by him as Commander-in-Chief of disbelief that the military had a hand in the killing, that "if the purpose
the Armed Forces of the Philippines, and that he had already been was to eliminate Aquino, this was not the way to do it."
publicly indicted and adjudged guilty by the President of the charges in a
nationwide press conference held on August 24, 1971 when he declared The national tragedy shocked the conscience of the entire nation and
the evidence against Ninoy "not only strong but overwhelming."[1] This outraged the free world. The large masses of people who joined in the
followed the Plaza Miranda bombing of August 21, 1971 of the ten-day period of national mourning and came out in millions in the
proclamation rally of the opposition Liberal Party candidates for the largest and most orderly public turnout for Ninoy's funeral reflected
November, 1971 elections (when eight persons were killed and their grief for his martyrdom and their yearning for the truth, justice and
practically all of the opposition candidates headed by Senator Jovito freedom.
Salonga and many more were seriously injured), and the suspension of
the privilege of the writ of habeas corpus under Proclamation No. 889 on The then President was constrained to create a Fact Finding Board[3] to
August 23, 1971. The massacre was instantly attributed to the investigate "the treacherous and vicious assassination of former Senator
communists but the truth has never been known. But the then President Benigno S. Aquino, Jr. on August 21, 1983 [which] has to all Filipinos
never filed the said charges against Ninoy in the civil courts. become a national tragedy and national shame specially because of the
early distortions and exaggerations in both foreign and local media[4] so
Ninoy Aquino was nevertheless thereafter allowed in May, 1980 to leave that all right thinking and honest men desire to ventilate the truth
the country to undergo successful heart surgery. After three years of through fare, independent and dispassionate investigation by prestigious
1
and free investigators." After two false starts,[5] he finally constituted the 21, 1983;" while the chairman's minority report would exclude nineteen
Board[6] on October 22, 1983 which held 125 hearing days commencing of them and limit as plotters "the six persons who were on the service
November 3, 1983 (including 3 hearings in Tokyo and 8 hearings in Los stairs while Senator Aquino was descending" and "General Luther
Angeles, California) and heard the testimonies' of 194 witnesses Custodio x x x because the criminal plot could not have been planned
recorded in 20,377 pages of transcripts, until the submission of their and implemented without his intervention."
minority and majority reports to the President on October 23 and 24,
1984. This was to mark another first anywhere in the world wherein the The chairman wrote in her minority report (somewhat prophetically)
minority report was submitted one day ahead by the ponente thereof, that "The epilogue to our work lies in what will transpire in accordance
the chairman, who was received congenially and cordially by the then with the action that the Office of the President may thereafter direct to
President who treated the report as if it were the majority report instead be taken." The four-member majority report (also prophetically) wrote in
of a minority report of one and forthwith referred it to respondent the epilogue (after warning the forces who adhere to an alien and
Tanodbayan "for final resolution through the legal system" and for trial intolerable political ideology against unscrupulously using the report "to
in the Sandiganbayan which was better known as a graft court; and the discredit our traditionally revered institutions"), that "the tragedy
majority report of the four other members was submitted on the opened our eyes and for the first time confirmed our worst fears of what
following day to the then President who coldly received them and could unchecked evil would be capable of doing." They wrote:
scarcely conceal his instant rejection of their report with the grim
statement that "I hope you can live with your conscience with what you "The task of the Board was clear and unequivocal. This task was not only
have done." to determine the facts and circumstances surrounding the death of the
late former Senator. Of greater significance is the awesome
The fact is that both majority and minority reports were one in rejecting responsibility of the Board to uphold righteousness over evil, justice over
the military version as propounded by the chief investigator, respondent injustice, rationality over irrationality, humaneness over inhumanity. The
Gen. Olivas, that Rolando Galman was the NPA hired assassin, stating task was indeed a painful test, the inevitable result of which will restore
that "the evidence shows [to the contrary] that Rolando Galman had no our country's honored place among the sovereign nations of the free
subversive affiliations." They were in agreement that "only the soldiers world where peace, law and order, freedom, and justice are a way of life.
in the staircase with Sen. Aquino could have shot him;" that Galman, the
military's "fall guy" was "not the assassin of Sen. Aquino" and that "the "More than any other event in contemporary Philippine history, the
SWAT troopers who gunned down Galman and the soldiers who killing of the late former Senator Aquino has brought into sharper focus,
escorted Sen. Aquino down the service stairs, deliberately and in the ills pervading Philippine society. It was the concretization of the
conspiracy with one another, gave a perjured story to us regarding the horror that has been haunting this country for decades, routinely
alleged shooting by Galman of Sen. Aquino and the mowing down, in manifested by the breakdown of peace and order, economic instability,
turn, of Galman himself;" in short, that Ninoy's assassination was the subversion, graft and corruption, and an increasing number of abusive
product of a military conspiracy, not a communist plot. The only elements in what are otherwise noble institutions in our country the
difference between the two reports is that the majority report found all military and law enforcement agencies. We are, however, convinced
the twenty-six private respondents abovenamed in the title of the case that, by and large, the great majority of the officers and men of these
headed by then AFP Chief General Fabian C. Ver involved in the military institutions have remained decent and honorable, dedicated to their
conspiracy and therefore "indictable for the premeditated killing of noble mission in the service of our country and people.
Senator Benigno S. Aquino, Jr. and Rolando Galman at the MIA on August
2
"The tragedy opened our eyes and for the first time confirmed our worst that there were intelligence reports connecting the communist party to
fears of what unchecked evil would be capable of doing. As former Israeli the killing.' "[8] In his reply of October 25, 1984 to General Ver's letter of
Foreign Minister Abba Eban observes. 'Nobody who has great authority the same date going on leave of absence upon release of the Board's
can be trusted not to go beyond its proper limits.' Social apathy, passivity majority report implicating him, he wrote that "(W)e are even more
and indifference and neglect have spawned in secret a dark force that is aware, general, that the circumstances under which the board has
bent on destroying the values held sacred by freedom-loving people. chosen to implicate you in its findings are fraught with doubt and great
contradictions of opinion and testimony. And we are deeply disturbed
"To assert our proper place in the civilized world, it is imperative that that on the basis of so-called evidence, you have been so accused by
public officials should regard public service as a reflection of human some members of the Board," and extended "My very best wishes to you
ideals in which the highest sense of moral values and integrity are strictly and your family for a speedy resolution of your case,"[9] even as he
required. announced that he would return the general to his position as AFP Chief
"if he is acquitted by the Sandiganbayan." In an interview on June 4,
"A tragedy like that which happened on August 21, 1983, and the crisis 1985 with the Gamma Photo Agency, as respondent court was hearing
that followed, would have normally caused the resignation of the Chief the cases, he was quoted as saying that "as will probably be shown,
of the Armed Forces in a country where public office is viewed with those witnesses (against the accused) are perjured witnesses."[10]
highest esteem and respect and where the moral responsibilities of It was against this setting that on November 11, 1985 petitioners
public officials transcend all other considerations." Saturnina Galman and Reynaldo Galman, mother and son, respectively,
It is equally the fact that the then President through all his recorded of the late Rolando Galman, and twenty-nine (29) other petitioners,
public acts and statements from the beginning disdained and rejected composed of three former Justices of this Court, five incumbent and
his own Board's above findings and insisted on the military version of former university presidents, a former AFP Chief of Staff, outstanding
Galman being Ninoy's assassin. In upholding this view that "there is no members of the Philippine Bar and solid citizens of the community, filed
involvement of anyone in his government in the assassination," he told the present action alleging that respondents Tanodbayan and
David Briscoe (then AP Manila Bureau Chief) in a Radio-TV interview on Sandiganbayan committed serious irregularities constituting mistrial and
September 9, 1983 that "I am convinced that if any member of my resulting in miscarriage of justice and gross violation of the constitutional
government were involved, I would have known somehow xxx Even at a rights of the petitioners and the sovereign people of the Philippines to
fairly low level, I would have known. I know how they think. I know what due process of law. They asserted that the Tanodbayan did not represent
they are thinking of."[7] He told CBS in another interview in May, 1984 (as the interest of the people when he failed to exert genuine and earnest
his Fact Finding Board was holding its hearings) the following: efforts to present vital and important testimonial and documentary
evidence for the prosecution and that the Sandiganbayan Justices were
"CBS: 'But indeed there has been recent evidence that seems to biased, prejudiced and partial in favor of the accused, and that their acts
contradict earlier reports, namely, the recent evidence seems to indicate "clouded with the gravest doubts the sincerity of government to find out
that some of the guards may have been responsible (for shooting the truth about the Aquino assassination." Petitioners prayed for the
Ninoy).' " immediate issuance of a temporary restraining order restraining the
respondent Sandiganbayan from rendering a decision on the merits in
"MARCOS: 'Well, you are of course wrong. What you have been reading the pending criminal cases which it had scheduled on November 20,
are the newspapers and the newspaper reports have been biased. The 1985 and that judgment be rendered declaring a mistrial and nullifying
evidence still proves that Galman was the killer. The evidence also shows the proceedings before the Sandiganbayan and ordering a re-trial before
3
an impartial tribunal by an unbiased prosecutor.[10-a]
On December 5, 1985, the Court required the respondents to comment
At the hearing on November 18, 1985 of petitioners' prayer for issuance on the motion for reconsideration but issued no restraining order. Thus,
of a temporary restraining order enjoining respondent court from on December 2, 1985, as scheduled, respondent Sandiganbayan issued
rendering a decision in the two criminal cases before it, the Court its decision acquitting all the accused of the crime charged, declaring
resolved by nine-to-two votes[11] to issue the restraining order prayed them innocent and totally absolving them of any civil liability. This
for. The Court also granted petitioners a five-day period to file a reply to marked another unusual first in that respondent Sandiganbayan in effect
respondents' separate comments and respondent Tanodbayan a three- convicted the very victim Rolando Galman (who was not on trial) as the
day period to submit a copy of his 84-page memorandum for the assassin of Ninoy contrary to the very information and evidence
prosecution as filed in the Sandiganbayan, the signature page of which submitted by the prosecution. In opposition, respondents submitted that
alone had been submitted to the Court as Annex 5 of his comment. with the Sandiganbayan's verdict of acquittal, the instant case had
become moot and academic.
But ten days later on November 28, 1985, the Court by the same nine-to-
two-vote ratio in reverse,[12] resolved to dismiss the petition and to lift On February 4, 1986, the same Court majority denied petitioners' motion
the temporary restraining order issued ten days earlier enjoining the for reconsideration for lack of merit, with the writer and Justice Abad
Sandiganbayan from rendering its decision.[13] The same Court majority Santos maintaining our dissent.
denied petitioners' motion for a new 5-day period counted from receipt
of respondent Tanodbayan's memorandum for the prosecution (which On March 20, 1986, petitioners filed their motion to admit their second
apparently was not served on them and which they alleged was "very motion for reconsideration attached therewith. The thrust of the second
material to the question of his partiality, bias and prejudice" within motion for reconsideration was the startling and therefore unknown
which to file a consolidated reply thereto and to respondents' separate revelations of Deputy Tanodbayan Manuel Herrera as reported in the
comments, by an eight-to three vote, with Justice Gutierrez joining the March 6, 1986 issue of the Manila Times entitled "Aquino Trial a Sham,"
dissenters.[14] that the then President had ordered the respondents Sandiganbayan and
Tanodbayan Bernardo Fernandez and the prosecution panel headed by
On November 29, 1985, petitioners filed a motion for reconsideration, Herrera to whitewash the criminal cases against the 26 respondents
alleging that the dismissal did not indicate the legal ground for such accused and produce a verdict of acquittal.
action and urging that the case be set for a full hearing on the merits
because if the charge of partiality and bias against the respondents and On April 3, 1986, the Court granted the motion to admit the second
suppression of vital evidence by the prosecution are proven, the motion for reconsideration and ordered the respondents to comment
petitioners would be entitled to the reliefs demanded: The People are thereon.[15]
entitled to due process which requires an impartial tribunal and an
unbiased prosecutor. If the State is deprived of a fair opportunity to Respondent Tanodbayan Bernardo Fernandez stated in his Manifestation
prosecute and convict because certain material evidence is suppressed filed on April 11, 1986 that he had ceased to hold office as Tanodbayan
by the prosecution and the tribunal is not impartial, then the entire as of April 8, 1986 when he was replaced by the new Tanodbayan, Raul
proceedings would be null and void. Petitioners prayed that the M. Gonzales, but reiterating his position in his comment on the petition,
Sandiganbayan be restrained from promulgating their decision as he added "relative to the reported alleged revelations of Deputy
scheduled anew on December 2, 1985. Tanodbayan Manuel Herrera, herein respondent never succumbed to any
4
alleged attempts to influence his actuations in the premises, having Deputy Tanodbayan Manuel Herrera, in his comment of April 14, 1986
instead successfully resisted perceived attempts to exert pressure to drop affirmed the allegations in the second motion for reconsideration that he
the case after preliminary investigation and actually ordered the filing revealed that the Sandiganbayan Justices and Tanodbayan prosecutors
and prosecution of the two (2) murder cases below against herein were ordered by Marcos to whitewash the Aquino-Galman murder case.
private-party respondents." He candidly admitted also in his He amplified his revelations, as follows:
memorandum: "There is not much that need be said about the existence
of pressure. That there were pressures can hardly be denied; in fact, it "1. AB INITIO, A VERDICT OF ACQUITTAL!
has never been denied."[15-a] He submitted that "even as he vehemently
denies insinuations of any direct or indirect complicity or participation in Incidents during the preliminary investigation showed ominous signs
any alleged attempt to supposedly whitewash the cases below, x x x that the fate of the criminal case on the death of Ex-Senator Benigno
should this Honorable Court find sufficient cause to justify the reopening Aquino and Rolando Galman on August 21, 1983 wasdooned to an
and retrial of the cases below, he would welcome such development so ignominous end. Malacañang wanted dismissal to the extent that a
that any wrong that had been caused may be righted and so that, at the prepared resolution was sent to the Investigating Panel (composed of
very least the actuations of herein respondent in the premises may be the undersigned, Fiscals Ernesto Bernabe and Leonardo Tamayo) for
reviewed and reexamined, confident as he is that the end will show that signature. This, of course, was resisted by the panel, and a resolution
he had done nothing in the premises that violated his trust as charging all the respondents as principals was forwarded to the
Tanodbayan (Ombudsman)." New Tanodbayan Raul M. Gonzales in his Tanodbayan on January 10, 1985.
comment of April 14, 1986 "interposed no objection to the reopening of
the trial of the cases x x x as, in fact, he urged that the said cases be 2. MALACAÑANG CONFERENCE PLANNED SCENARIO OF TRIAL.
reopened in order that justice could take its course."
At 6:00 p.m. of said date (January 10) Mr. Ferdinand E. Marcos (the
Respondents Justices of the Sandiganbayan First Division in their former President) summoned to Malacañang Justice Bernardo Fernandez
collective comment of April 9, 1986 stated that the trial of the criminal (the Tanodbayan), Sandiganbayan Justice Manuel Pamaran (the
cases by them was valid and regular and decided on the basis of Presiding Justice) and all the members of the Panel.
evidence presented and the law applicable, but manifested that "if it is
true that the former Tanodbayan and the Deputy Tanodbayan, Chief of Also present at the meeting were Justice Manuel Lazaro (the
the Prosecution Panel, were pressured into suppressing vital evidence Coordinator) and Mrs. Imelda R. Marcos, who left earlier, came back and
which would probably alter the result of the trial, Answering left again. The former President had a copy of the panel's signed
Respondents would not interpose any objection to the reopening of resolution (charging all accused as principals), evidently furnished him in
those cases, if only to allow justice to take its course." Respondent advance, and with prepared notes on the contents thereof.
Sandiganbayan Justice Bienvenido C. Vera Cruz, in a separate comment,
asserted that he passed no note to anyone; the note being bandied The former President started by vehemently maintaining that Galman
about is not in his handwriting; he had nothing to do with the writing of shot Aquino at the tarmac. Albeit initially the undersigned argued against
the note or of any note of any kind intended for any lawyer of the the theory, to remain silent was the more discreet posture when the
defense or even of the prosecution; and requested for an investigation former President became emotional (he was quite sick then).
by this Court to settle the note-passing issue once and for all.
During a good part of the conference, the former President talked about
5
Aquino and the communists, lambasting the Agrava Board, specially the
Legal Panel. Shifting to the military he rumbled on such statements as: 'It While still in the palace grounds on the way out, the undersigned
will be bloody x x x Gen. Ramos, though close to me, is getting ambitious manifested his desire to the Tanodbayan to resign from the panel, or
and poor Johnny does not know what to do' xxx 'our understanding with even the office. This, as well as other moves to this effect, had always
Gen. Ramos is that his stint is only temporary, but he is becoming been refused. Hoping that with sufficient evidence sincerely and
ambitious;' x x x 'the boys were frantic when they heard that they will be efficiently presented by the prosecution, all involves in the trial would be
charged in court, and will be detained at city jail.' conscience-pricked and realize the futility and injustice of proceeding in
accordance with the script, the undersigned opted to say on."
From outright dismissal, the sentiment veered towards a more pragmatic Herrera further added details on the "implementation of the script,"
approach. The former President more or less conceded that for political such as the holding of a "make-believe raffle" within 18 minutes of the
and legal reasons all the respondents should be charged in court. filing of the Informations with the Sandiganbayan at noon of January 23,
Politically, as it will become evident that the government was serious in 1985, while there were no members of the media; the installation of TV
pursuing the case towards its logical conclusion, and thereby ease public monitors directly beamed to Malacañang; the installation of a "war
demonstrations; on the other hand, legally, it was perceived that after room" occupied by the military; attempts to direct and stifle witnesses
(not IF) they are acquitted, double jeopardy would inure. The former for the prosecution; the suppression of the evidence that could be given
President ordered then that the resolution be revised by categorizing the by U.S. Airforce men about the "scrambling" of Ninoy's plane; the
participation of each respondent. suppression of rebuttal witnesses and the bias and partiality of the
Sandiganbayan; its cavalier disregard of his plea that it "should not
In the matter of custody of the accused pendente lite the Coordinator decide these cases on the merits without first making a final ruling on
was ordered to get in touch with Gen. Narciso Cabrera, Gen. Vicente the Motion for Inhibition;" and the Presiding Justice's over-kill with the
Eduardo and Director Jolly Bugarin to put on record that they had no declaration that "the Court finds all accused innocent of the crimes
place in their respective institutions. The existence of PD No. 1950 charged in the two informations, and accordingly, they incur neither
(giving custody to commanding officers of members of AFP charged in criminal nor civil liability," adding that "in the almost twenty years that
court) was never mentioned. the undersigned has been the prosecutor in the sala of the Presiding
Justice this is the only occasion where civil liability is pronounced in a
It was decided that the presiding justice (First Division) would personally decision of acquittal." He "associated himself with the motion for
handle the trial, and assurance was made by him that it would be reconsideration and likewise prayed that the proceedings in the
finished in four to six months, pointing out that, with the recent Sandiganbayan and its decision be declared null and void."
effectivity of the New Rules on Criminal Procedure, the trial could be
expedited. New Solicitor General Sedfrey Ordonez' comment of April 25, 1986
submitted that a declaration of mistrial will depend on the veracity of
Towards the end of the two hour meeting and after the script had been the evidence supportive of petitioners' claim of suppression of evidence
tacitly mapped out, the former President uttered: 'Magmoro-moro na and collusion. He submitted that this would require reception of
lang kayo.' evidence by a Court appointed or designated commissioner or body of
commissioners (as was done in G.R. No. 71316, Fr. Romano case; and
The parting words of the former President were: 'Thank you for your G.R. No. 61016, Morales case; and G.R. No. 70054, Banco Filipino case);
cooperation. I know how to reciprocate.' and that if petitioners' claim were substantiated, a reopening of the
6
double murder case is proper to avoid a miscarriage of justice since the "1. The Office of the Tanodbayan. particularly Justice Fernandez and the
verdict of acquittal would no longer be a valid basis for a double Special Investigating Panel composed of Justice Herrera, Fiscal Bernabe
jeopardy claim. and Special Prosecutor Tamayo, was originally of the view that all of the
twenty-six (26) respondents named in the Agrava Board majority report
Respondents-accused opposed the second motion for reconsideration should all be charged as principals of the crime of double murder for the
and prayed for its denial. Respondent Olivas contended that the proper death of Senator Benigno Aquino and Rolando Galman.
step for the government was to file a direct action to annul the judgment
of acquittal and at a regular trial present its evidence of collusion and 2. When Malacañang learned of the impending filing of the said charge
pressures. before the Sandiganbayan. the Special Investigating Panel having already
prepared a draft Resolution recommending such course of action,
As a whole, all the other respondents raised the issue of double President Marcos summoned Justice Fernandez, the three members of
jeopardy, and invoked that the issues had become moot and academic the Special Investigating Panel, and Justice Pamaran to a conference in
because of the rendition of the Sandiganbayan's judgment of acquittal of Malacañang in the early evening of January 10, 1985.
all respondents-accused on December 2, 1985, with counsels for
respondents Ver and Tigas, as well as Olivas, further arguing that 3. In said conference. President Marcos initially expressed his
assuming that the judgment of acquittal is void for any reason, the disagreement with the recommendation of the Special Investigating
remedy is a direct action to annul the judgment where the burden of Panel and disputed the findings of the Agrava Board that it was not
proof falls upon the plaintiff to establish by clear, competent and Galman who shot Benigno Aquino.
convincing evidence the cause of the nullity.
4. Later in the conference, however, President Marcos was convinced of
After petitioners had filed their consolidated reply, the Court resolved the advisability of filing the murder charge in court so that, after being
per its resolution of June 5, 1986 to appoint a three-member commission acquitted as planned, the accused may no longer be prosecuted in view
composed of retired Supreme Court Justice Conrado Vasquez, chairman, of the doctrine of double jeopardy.
and retired Intermediate Appellate Court Justices Milagros German and
Eduardo Caguioa as members, to hear and receive evidence, testimonial 5. Presumably in order to be assured that not all of the accused would be
and documentary, of the charges of collusion and pressures and relevant denied bail during the trial, considering that they would be charged with
matters, upon prior notice to all parties, and to submit their findings to capital offenses. President Marcos directed that the several accused be
this Court for proper disposition. The Commission conducted hearings on 'categorized' so that some of them would merely be charged as
19 days, starting on June 16, 1986 and ending on July 16, 1986. On the accomplices and accessories.
said last day, respondents announced in open hearing that they decided
to forego the taking of the projected deposition of former President 6. In addition to said directive. President Marcos ordered that the case
Marcos, as his testimony would be merely corroborative of the be handled personally by Justice Pamaran who should dispose of it in the
testimonies of respondents Justice Pamaran and Tanodbayan Fernandez. earliest possible time.
On July 31, 1986, it submitted its extensive 64-page Report[16] wherein it
discussed fully the evidence received by it and made a recapitulation of 7. The instructions given in the Malacañang conference were followed to
its findings in capsulized form, as follows: the letter and compliance therewith manifested itself in several specific
instances in the course of the proceedings, such as the changing of the
7
resolution of the special investigating panel, the filing of the case with The Court per its Resolution of July 31, 1986 furnished all the parties
the Sandiganbayan and its assignment to Justice Pamaran, suppression with copies of the Report and required them to submit their objections
of some vital evidence, harassment of witnesses, recantation of thereto. It thereafter heard the parties and their objections at the
witnesses who gave adverse testimony before the Agrava Board, hearing of August 26, 1986 and the matter was submitted for the Court's
coaching of defense counsels, the hasty trial, monitoring of proceedings, resolution.
and even in the very decision rendered in the case.
The Court adopts and approves the Report and its findings and holds on
8. That expression of President Marcos' desire as to how he wanted the the basis thereof and of the evidence received and appreciated by the
Aquino-Galman case to be handled and disposed of constituted Commission and duly supported by the facts of public record and
sufficient pressure on those involved in said task to comply with the knowledge set forth above and hereinafter, that the then President
same in the subsequent course of the proceedings. (code-named Olympus) had stage-managed in and from Malacañang
Palace "a scripted and predetermined manner of handling and disposing
9. That while Justice Pamaran and Justice Fernandez manifested no of the Aquino-Galman murder case;" and that "the prosecution in the
revulsion against complying with the Malacañang directive. Justice Aquino-Galman case and the Justices who tried and decided the same
Herrera played his role with manifestly ambivalent feelings. acted under the compulsion of some pressure which proved to be
beyond their capacity to resist, and which not only prevented the
10. Sufficient evidence has been ventilated to show a scripted and prosecution to fully ventilate its position and to offer all the evidences
predetermined manner of handling and disposing of the Aquino-Galman which it could have otherwise presented, but also predetermined the
murder case, as stage-managed from Malacañang and performed by final outcome of the case" of total absolution of the twenty-six
willing dramatis personnae as well as by recalcitrant ones whipped into respondents-accused of all criminal and civil liability.
line by the omni present influence of an authoritarian ruler."
The Commission submitted the following recommendation. The Court finds that the Commission's Report (incorporated herein by
reference) and findings and conclusions are duly substantiated by the
"Considering the existence of adequate credible evidence showing that evidence and facts of public record. Composed of distinguished
the prosecution in the Aquino-Galman case and the Justices who tried members of proven integrity with a combined total of 141 years of
and decided the same acted under the compulsion of some pressure experience in the practice of law (55 years) and in the prosecutoral and
which proved to be beyond their capacity to resist, and which not only judicial services (86 years in the trial and appellate courts), experts at
prevented the prosecution to fully ventilate its position and to offer all sifting the chaff from the grain,[17] the Commission properly appraised
the evidences which it could have otherwise presented, but also the evidences presented and denials made by public respondents, thus:
predetermined the final outcome of the case, the Commission is of the
considered thinking and belief, subject to the better opinion and "The desire of President Marcos to have the Aquino-Galman case
judgment of this Honorable Court, that the proceedings in the said case disposed of in a manner suitable to his purposes was quite
have been vitiated by lack of due process, and hereby respectfully understandable and was but to be expected. The case had stirred
recommends that the prayer in the petition for a declaration of a mistrial unprecedented public outcry and wide international attention. Not
in Sandiganbayan Cases Nos. 10010 and 10011 entitled 'People vs. Luther invariably, the finger of suspicion pointed to those then in power who
Custodio, et al.,' be granted." supposedly had the means and the most compelling motive to eliminate
Senator Aquino. Aday or so after the assassination, President Marcos
8
came up with a public statement aired over television that Senator 'point blank' to personally handle the case. This was denied by Justice
Aquino was killed not by his military escorts, but by a communist hired Pamaran. No similar denial was voiced by Justice Fernandez in the entire
gun. It was, therefore, not a source of wonder that President Marcos course of his two-day testimony. Justice Pamaran explained that such
would want the case disposed of in a manner consistent with his order could not have been given inasmuch as it was not yet certain then
announced theory thereof which, at the same time, would clear his that the Sandiganbayan would try the case and, besides, cases therein
name and his administration of any suspected guilty participation in the are assigned by raffle to a division and not to a particular Justice thereof.
assassination.
"It was preposterous to expect Justice Pamaran to admit having received
"The calling of the conference was undoubtedly to accomplish thus such presidential directive. His denial, however, falls to pieces in the light
purpose x x x. of the fact that the case was indeed handled by him after being assigned
to the division headed by him. A supposition of mere coincidence is at
"President Marcos made no bones to conceal his purpose for calling once dispelled by the circumstance that he was the only one from the
them. From the start, he expressed irritation and displeasure at the Sandiganbayan called to the Malacañang conference wherein the said
recommendation of the investigating panel to charge all of the twenty- directive was given x x x.
six (26) respondents as principals of the crime of double murder. He
insisted that it was Galman who shot Senator Aquino, and that the "The giving of such directive to Justice Pamaran may also be inferred
findings of the Agrava Board were not supported by evidence that could from his admission that he gave President Marcos the possible time
stand in court. He discussed and argued with Justice Herrera on this frame when asked as to how long it would take him to finish the case.
point. Midway in the course of the discussion, mention was made that
the filing of the charge in court would at least mollify public demands "The testimony of Justice Herrera that, during the conference, and after
and possibly prevent further street demonstrations. It was further an agreement was reached on filing the case and subsequently
pointed out that such a procedure would be a better arrangement acquitting the accused, President Marcos told them 'Okay, mag moro-
because, if the accused are charged in court and subsequently acquitted, moro na lamang kayo;' and that on their way out of the room President
they may claim the benefit of the doctrine of double jeopardy and Marcos expressed his thanks to the group and uttered 'I know how to
thereby avoid another prosecution if some other witnesses shall appear reciprocate,' did not receive any denial or contradiction either on the part
when President Marcos is no longer in office. of Justice Fernandez or Justice Pamaran. (No other person present in the
conference was presented by the respondents. Despite an earlier
xxx xxx xxx manifestation by the respondents of their intention to present Fiscal
Bernabe and Prosecutor Tamayo, such move was abandoned without any
"After an agreement was reached as to filing the case, instead of reason having been given therefor).
dismissing it, but with some of the accused to be charged merely as
accomplices or accessories, and the question of preventive custody of "The facts set forth above are all supported by the evidence on record. In
the accused having thereby received satisfactory solution, President the mind of the Commission, the only conclusion that may be drawn
Marcos took up the matter of who would try the case and how long it therefrom is that pressure from Malacañang had indeed been made to
would take to be finished. bear on both the court and the prosecution in the handling and
disposition of the Aquino-Galman case. The intensity of this pressure is
"According to Justice Herrera, President Marcos told Justice Pamaran readily deductible from the personality of the one who exerted it, his
9
moral and official ascendancy over those to whom his instructions were became illusory from the very moment they stepped inside Malacañang
directed, the motivation behind such instructions, and the nature of the Palace on January 10, 1985."[18]
government prevailing at that time which enabled the then head of state The Commission pinpointed the crucial factual issue thus: "the more
to exercise authoritarian powers. That the conference called to script or significant inquiry is on whether the Sandiganbayan and the Office of the
stage-manage the prosecution and trial of the Aquino-Galman case was Tanodbayan actually succumbed to such pressure, as may be gauged by
considered as something anomalous that should be kept away from the their subsequent actuations in their respective handling of the case." It
public eye is shown by the effort to assure its secrecy. None but those duly concluded that "the pressure exerted by President Marcos in the
directly involved were called to attend. The meeting was held in an inner conference held on January 10, 1985 pervaded the entire proceedings of
room of the Palace. Only the First Lady and Presidential Legal Assistant the Aquino-Galman [murder] cases" as manifested in several specific
Justice Lazaro were with the President. The conferees were told to take incidents and instances it enumerated in the Report under the heading
the back door in going to the room where the meeting was held, of "Manifestations of Pressure and Manipulation."
presumably to escape notice by the visitors in the reception hall waiting
to see the President. Actually, no public mention was ever made of this Suffice it to give hereinbelow brief excerpts:
conference until Justice Herrera made his expose some fifteen (15)
months later when the former President was no longer around. 1. The changing of the original Herrera panel draft Resolution charging
all the twenty-six accused as principals by conspiracy by categorizing and
"President Marcos undoubtedly realized the importance of the matter charging 17 as principals, Generals Ver and Olivas and 6 others as
he wanted to take up with the officials he asked to be summoned. He accessories and the civilian as accomplice, and recommending bail for
had to do it personally, and not merely through trusted assistants. The the latter two categories: "The categorization may not be completely
lack of will or determination on the part of Justice Fernandez and Justice justified by saying that, in the mind of Justice Fernandez, there was no
Pamaran to resist the presidential summons despite their realization of sufficient evidence to justify that all of the accused be charged as
its unwholesome implications on their handling of the celebrated principals. The majority of the Agrava Board found the existence of
murder case may be easily inferred from their unquestioned obedience conspiracy and recommended that all of the accused be charged
thereto. No effort to resist was made, despite the existence of a most accordingly. Without going into the merit of such finding, it may hardly
valid reason to beg off, on the lame excuses that they went there out of be disputed that, in case of doubt, and in accordance with the standard
'curiosity,' or 'out of respect to the Office of the President,' or that it practice of the prosecution to charge accused with the most serious
would be 'unbecoming to refuse a summons from the President.' Such possible offense or in the highest category so as to prevent an incurable
frame of mind only reveals their susceptibility to presidential pressure injustice in the event that the evidence presented in the trial will show
and lack of capacity to resist the same. The very acts of being summoned his guilt of the graver charge, the most logical and practical course of
to Malacañang and their ready acquiescence thereto under the action should have been, as originally recommended by the Herrera
circumstances then obtaining, are in themselves pressure dramatized and panel, to charge all the accused as principals. As it turned out, Justice
exemplified. Their abject deference to President Marcos may likewise be Fernandez readily opted for categorization which, not surprisingly, was in
inferred from the admitted fact that, not having been given seats during consonance with the Malacañang instruction." It is too much to attribute
the two-hour conference (Justice Fernandez said it was not that long, but to coincidence that such unusual categorization came only after the then
did not say how long) in which President Marcos did the talking most of President's instruction at Malacañang when Gen. Ver's counsel Atty.
the time, they listened to him on their feet. Verily, it can be said that any Coronel, had been asking the same of Tanodbayan Fernandez since
avowal of independent action or resistance to presidential pressure November, 1984; and "Justice Fernandez himself, admit(ted) that, as of
10
that time, [the Malacañang conference on January 10, 1985], his own gave "although there was no clear showing of the discrepancy from the
view was in conformity with that of the Special Investigating Panel to original transcription which was in Nippongo. Upon his arrival at the MIA
charge all of the twenty-six (26) respondents as principals of the crime of on August 21, 1985 on invitation of Justice Herrera to testify at the
double murder.[19] As the Commission further noted, "Justice Fernandez ongoing trial, "a shot was fired and a soldier was seen running away by
never denied the claim of Justice Herrera that the draft resolution of media men who sought to protect Wakamiya from harm by surrounding
January 10, 1985 (Exhibit 'B-l') [charging all 26 accused as principals] was him." Wakamiya was forced by immigration officials to leave the country
to have been the subject of a press conference on the afternoon of said by Saturday (August 24th) notwithstanding Herrera's request to let him
date which did not go through due to the summons for them to go to stay until he could testify the following Monday (August 26th). In the
Malacañang in the early evening of said date."[20] case of principal eyewitness Rebecca Quijano, the Commission reported
that
2. Suppression of vital evidence and harassment of witnesses: "Realizing,
no doubt, that a party's case is as strong as the evidence it can present, "x x x Undoubtedly in view of the considerable significance of her
unmistakable and persistent efforts were exerted in behalf of the proposed testimony and its unfavorable effect on the cause of the
accused to weaken the case of the prosecution and thereby assure and defense, the efforts exerted to suppress the same was as much as, if not
justify [the accused's] eventual scripted acquittal. Unfavorable evidences more than those in the case of Wakamiya x x x She recounted that she
were sought to be suppressed, and some were indeed prevented from was in constant fear of her life, having been hunted by armed men; that
being ventilated. Adverse witnesses were harassed, cajoled, perjured or their house in Tabaco, Albay was ransacked, her family harassed by the
threatened either to refrain from testifying or to testify in a manner foreclosure of the mortgage on their house by the local Rural Bank, and
favorable to the defense." ejected therefrom when she ignored the request of its manager to talk
with her about her proposed testimony; that a certain William Farinas
The Report specified the ordeals of the prosecution witnesses:[21] Cesar offered her plane tickets for a trip abroad; that Mayor Rudy Farinas of
Loterina, PAL employee, Roberta Masibay, Galman's step-daughter who Laoag City kept on calling her sister in the United States to warn her not
recanted their testimonies before the Fact Finding Board and had to be to testify; that, later, Rudy and William Farinas offered her two million
discarded as prosecution witnesses before at the trial. pesos supposedly coming from Bongbong Marcos, a house and lot in
Witnesses Viesca and Rañas who also testified before the Board Baguio, the dropping of her estafa case in Hongkong, and the
disappeared all of a sudden and could not be located by the police. The punishment of the persons responsible for the death of her father, if she
Commission narrated the efforts to stifle Kiyoshi Wakamiya, eyewitness would refrain from testifying.
who accompanied Ninoy on his fateful flight on August 21, 1983 and
described them as "palpable, if crude and display(ing) sheer abuse of "It is a matter of record, however, that despite such cajolery and
power." Wakamiya was not even allowed to return to Manila on August harassments, or perhaps because of them, Ms. Quijano eventually
20, 1984 to participate in the first death anniversary of Ninoy but was testified before the Sandiganbayan. Justice Herrera was told by Justice
deported as an undesirable alien and had to leave on the next plane for Fernandez of the displeasure expressed by Olympus at Justice Herrera's
Tokyo. The Board had to go to Tokyo to hear Wakamiya give his going out of his way to make Ms. Quijano to testify, and for his refusal to
testimony before the Japanese police in accordance with their law and honor the invitation to attend the birthday party of the First Lady on
Wakamiya claimed before the Commission that the English transcription May 1, 1985, as on the eve of Ms. Quijano's testimony on May 2, 1985.
of his testimony, as prepared by an official of the Philippine Embassy in The insiduous attempts to tamper with her testimony, however, did not
Tokyo, was inaccurate and did not correctly reflect the testimony he end with her taking the witness stand. In the course of her testimony
11
several notes were passed to Atty. Rodolfo Jimenez, the defense counsel other plans designed to accomplish the same purpose of liquidating
who cross-examined her, one of which suggested that she be asked Senator Aquino. In any event, even assuming that the said piece of
more questions about Dean Narvasa who was suspected of having evidence could go either way, it may not be successfully contended that
coached her as to what to declare (Exhibit 'D'); and on another occasion, it was prudent or wise on the part of the prosecution to totally discard
at a crucial point in her testimony, a power brownout occurred; which the said piece of evidence. Despite minor inconsistencies contained
lasted for about twenty minutes, throwing the courtroom into darkness, therein, its introduction could have helped the cause of the prosecution.
and making most of those present to scamper for safety, and Ms. If it were not so, or that it would even favor the defense, as averred by
Quijano to pass over the ratling of the rostrum so as to be able to leave Justice Fernandez, the determined effort to suppress the same would
the courtroom. It was verified that the brownout was limited to the have been totally uncalled for.
building housing the Sandiganbayan, it not having affected the nearby
Manila City Hall and the Finance Building Justice Herrera declared that "4. Nine proposed rebuttal witnesses not presented.
the main switchboard of the Sandiganbayan electrical system was
located beside the room occupied by Malacañang people who were "5. The failure to exhaust available remedies against adverse
keeping track of the proceedings." developments: "When the Supreme Court denied the petition of Justice
Atty. Lupino Lazaro for petitioners further made of record at that August Fernandez [against the exclusion of the testimonies given by the military
26th hearing that the two Olivas sisters, Ana and Catherine (hospitality respondents headed by Gen. Ver before the Fact Finding Board], the
girls) disappeared on September 4, 1984, two weeks after Ninoy's latter almost immediately announced to media that he was not filing a
assassination. And the informant, by the name of Evelyn (also a motion for the reconsideration of said denial, for the reason that it would
hospitality girl) who jotted down the number of the car that took them be futile to do so and foolhardy to expect a favorable action on the same
away, also disappeared. On January 29, 1984, during the proceedings of x x x His posture x x x is, in the least, indicative that he was living up to
the Board, Lina Galman, the common-law wife of Rolando Galman, was the instruction of finishing the trial of the case as soon as possible, if not
kidnapped together with a neighbor named Rogelio Taruc. They have of something else.
been missing since then, despite his attempts to find any of them.
According to him, "nobody was looking for these five persons because "6. The assignment of the case to Presiding Justice Pamaran: "Justice
they said Marcos was in power [despite his appeal to the Minister of Herrera testified that President Marcos ordered Justice Pamaran point-
National Defense to locate them]. Today, still no one is looking for these blank to handle the case. The pro-forma denial by Justice Pamaran of
people." And he appealed to the new leadership for its assistance in such instruction crumbles under the actuality of such directive having
learning their fate. been complied with to the letter x x x.

3. The discarding of the affidavits executed bv U.S. airmen: "While it is "Justice Pamaran sought to discredit the claim that he was ordered by
true that the U.S. airmen's proposed testimonies would show an attempt President Marcos to handle the case personally by explaining that cases
of the Philippine Air Force to divert the plane to Basa Airfield or some in the Sandiganbayan are assigned by raffle and not to a particular
other place, such showing would not necessarily contravene the theory Justice, but to a division thereof. The evidence before the Commission
of the prosecution, nor the actual fact that Senator Aquino was killed at on how the case happened to be assigned to Justice Pamaran evinces a
the Manila International Airport. Justice Herrera had accurately pointed strong indication that such assignment was not done fairly or regularly.
out that such attempt of scrambling Aquino's plane merely showed a
'wider range of conspiracy,' it being possibly just one of two or three "There was no evidence at all that the assignment was indeed by virtue
12
of a regular raffle, except the uncorroborated testimony of Justice was proposed to be given to the National Penitentiary in Muntinglupa
Pamaran x x x Despite an announcement that Justice Escareal would be and to the National Bureau of Investigation. At that point, the defense
presented by the respondents to testify on the contents of his aforesaid came up with Presidential Decree No. 1950-A which authorizes the
Memorandum, such was not done. No reason was given why Justice custody of the accused military personnel with their respective
Escarel could not, or would not like to testify. Neither was anx one of the Commanding Officers. Justice Herrera claimed that the said Presidential
officials or employees of the Sandiganbayan who, according to Justice Decree was not known even to the Tanodbayan Justice Fernandez who
Pamaran, were present during the supposed raffle, presented to had to call up the then Minister of Justice Estelito Mendoza to request a
corroborate the claim of Justice Pamaran as regards the said raffle. copy of the same, and was given such copy only after sometime x x x."

xxx xxx xxx 8. The monitoring of proceedings and developments from Malacañang
and by Malacañang personnel. "There is an uncontradicted evidence that
"It is also an admitted fact that the two Informations in the double the progress of the proceedings in the Sandiganbayan as well as the
murder case were filed by Justice Herrera on January 23, 1985, at 12:02 developments of the case outside the Court had been monitored by
p.m., and the members of the Raffle Committee were summoned at Malacañang presumably for it to know what was happening and to take
12:20 p.m. or only 18 minutes after the filing of the two Informations. remedial measures as may be necessary, Justice Pamaran had candidly
Such speed in the actual assignment of the case can truly be categorized admitted that television cameras "boldly carrying the label of 'Office of
as unusual, if not extraordinary, considering that before a case filed may the President of the Philippines' " were installed in the courtroom for
be included in the raffle, there is need for a certain amount of paper that purpose. There was a room in the Sandiganbayan, mischievously
work to be undertaken. If such preliminary requirements were done in called 'war room', wherein military and Malacañang personnel stayed to
this case within the limited time available therefor, the charge that the keep track of the proceedings." The close monitoring by Malacañang
raffle was rushed to avoid the presence of media people would ring with showed its results oh several occasions specified in the
truth. Report. Malacañang was immediately aware of the Japanese witness
Wakamiya 's presence in Justice Herrera's office on August 21, 1985 and
"What is more intriguing is the fact that although a raffle might have forestalled the giving of his testimony by having the Japanese Embassy
been actually conducted which resulted in the assignment of the case to advise Wakamiya to leave the country at once. Likewise, Col. Balbino
the First Division of the Sandiganbayan, the Commission did not receive Diego, Malacañang intelligence chief, suddenly appearedat the National
any evidence on how or why it was handled personally by Justice Bureau of Investigation office when the "crying lady" Rebecca
Pamaran who wrote the decision thereof, and not by any one of the two Quijanowas brought there by NBI agents for interrogation and therein
other members of his division x x x" sought to obtain custody of her. "It is likewise an undisputed fact," the
Commission noted "that several military personnel pretended to be
7. The custody of the accused; their confinement in a military camp, deputy sheriffs of the Sandiganbayan and attended the trials thereof in
instead of in a civilian jail: "When the question of custody came up after the prescribed deputy sheriffs' uniforms." The Commission's inescapable
the case was filed in the Sandiganbayan, the latter issued an order finding: It is abundantly clear that President Marcos did not only give
directing the confinement of the accused in the City Jail of Manila. This instructions as to how the case should be handled. He saw to it that he
order was not carried out in view of the information given by the would know if his instructions will be complied with.
Warden of the City Jail that there was no space for the twenty-six
accused in said jail. The same information was given when the custody 9. Partiality of Sandiganbayan betrayed by its decision: That President
13
Marcos had wanted ail of the twenty-six accused to be acquitted may not
be denied. The disposal of the case in said manner is an integral part of The record shows suffocatingly that from beginning to end, the then
the scenario which was cleverly designed to accomplish two principal President used, or more precisely, misused the overwhelming resources
objectives, seemingly conflicting in themselves, but favorable both to of the government and his authoritarian powers to corrupt and make a
then administration and to the accused; to wit, [1] the satisfaction of the mockery of the judicial process in the Aquino-Galman murder cases. As
public clamor for the suspected killers of Senator Aquino to be charged graphically depicted in the Report, supra, and borne out by the
in court, and [2] the foreclosure of any possibility that they may again be happenings (res ipsa loquitura[22]), since the resolution prepared by his
prosecuted for the same offense in the event that President Marcos shall "Coordinator," Manuel Lazaro, his Presidential Assistant on Legal Affairs,
no longer be in power. for the Tanodbayan's dismissal of the cases against all accused was
unpalatable (it would summon the demonstrators back to the streets[23])
"In rendering its decision, the Sandiganbayan overdid itself in favoring and at any rate was not acceptable to the Herrera prosecution panel, the
the presidential directive. Its bias and partiality in favor of the accused unholy scenario for acquittal of all 26 accused after the rigged trial as
was glaringly obvious. The evidence presented by the prosecution was ordered at the Malacañang conference, would accomplish the two
totally ignored and disregarded. x x x It was deemed not sufficient to principal objectives of satisfaction of the public clamor for the suspected
simply acquit all of the twenty-six accused on the standard ground that killers to be charged in court and of giving them through their acquittal
their guilt had not been proven beyond reasonable doubt, as was the the legal shield of double jeopardy.[24]
most logical and appropriate way of justifying the acquittal in the case,
there not being a total absence of evidence that could show guilt on the Indeed, the secret Malacañang conference at which the authoritarian
part of the accused. The decision had to pronounce them innocent of the President called together the Presiding Justice of the Sandiganbayan and
crimecharged on the two intormations, and accordingly, they incur Tanodbayan Fernandez and the entire prosecution panel headed by
neither criminal nor civil liability. It is a rare phenomenon to see a person Deputy Tanodbayan Herrera and told them how to handle and rig (moro-
accused of a crime to be favored with such total absolution. x x x. moro) the trial and the close monitoring of the entire proceedings to
assure the predetermined ignominious final outcome are without
"Doubt on the soundness of the decision entertained by one of the two parallel and precedent in our annals and jurisprudence. To borrow a
justices who concurred with the majority decision penned by Justice phrase from Ninoy's April 14, 1975 letter withdrawing his petition for
Pamaran was revealed by Justice Herrera who testified that in October, habeas corpus,[25] "This is the evil of one-man rule at its very worst." Our
1985, when the decision was being prepared, Justice Augusto Amores Penal Code penalizes "any executive officerwho shall address any order
told him that he was of the view that some of the accused should be or suggestion to any judicial authority with respect to any case or
convicted, he having found difficulty in acquitting all of them; business coming within the exclusive jurisdiction of the courts of
however, he confided to Justice Herrera that Justice Pamaran made it justice."[26]His obsession for "the boys" acquittal led to several first which
clear to him and Justice Vera Cruz that Malacañang had instructions to would otherwise be inexplicable:
acquit all of the twenty-six accused (TSN. July 17, 1986, p. 49). Justice
Amores also told Justice Herrera that he would confirm this 1. He turned his back on and repudiated the findings of the very Fact
statement (which was mentioned in Justice Herrera's comment to the Finding Board that he himself appointed to investigate the "national
Second Motion for Reconsideration) if asked about it (TSN, June 19, tragedy and national shame" of the "treacherous and vicious
1986, pp. 92-93). This testimony of Justice Herrera remained assassination of Ninoy Aquino" and to ventilate the truth through free,
unrebutted." (Italics supplied). independent and dispassionate investigation by prestigious and free
14
investigators. (as admitted by respondent Justice Fernandez to have been confirmed
by him to the then President's "Coordinator" Manuel Lazaro on the
2. He cordially received the chairman with her minority report one day preceding day) is not denied. It is without precedent. This was illegal
ahead of the four majority members and instantly referred it to under our penal laws, supra. This illegality vitiated from the very
respondents "for final resolution through the legal system" as if it were beginning all proceedings in the Sandiganbayan court headed by the very
the majority and controlling report; and rebuked the four majority Presiding Justice who attended. As the Commission noted: "The very acts
members when they presented to him the next day their report calling of being summoned to Malacañang and their ready acquiescence
for the indictment of all 26 respondents headed by Gens. Ver and Olivas thereto under the circumstances then obtaining, are in themselves
(instead of the lesser seven under the chairman's minority report). pressure dramatized and exemplified x x x Verily, it can be said that any
avowal of independent action or resistance to presidential pressure
3. From the day after the Aquino assassination to the dictated verdict of became illusory from the very moment they stepped inside Malacañang
acquittal, he totally disregarded the Board's majority and minority Palace on January 10, 1985."
findings of fact and publicly insisted that the military's "fall guy" Rolando
Galman was the killer of Ninoy Aquino and sought futilely to justify the No court whose Presiding Justice has received "orders or suggestions"
soldiers' incompetence and gross negligence to provide any security for from the very President who by an amendatory decree (disclosed only at
Ninoy in contrast to their alacrity in gunning down the alleged assassin the hearing of oral arguments on November 8, 1984 on a petition
Galman and sealing his lips. challenging the referral of the Aquino-Galman murder cases to the
Tanodbayan and Sandiganbayan instead of to a court martial, as
4. The Sandiganbayan's decision (Pamaran, J. ponente) in effect mandatory required by the known P.D. 1850 at the time providing for
convicted Rolando Galman as Ninoy's assassin notwithstanding that he exclusive jurisdiction of courts martial over criminal offenses committed
was not on trial but the victim according to the very information filed, by military men[26-a]) made it possible to refer the cases to the
and evidence to the contrary submitted, by the Herrera prosecution Sandiganbayan, can be an impartial court, which is the very essence of
panel; and due process of law. As the writer then wrote, "jurisdiction over cases
should be determined by law, and not by preselection of the Executive,
5. Justice Pamaran's ponencia (despite reservations expressed by Justice which could be much too easily transformed into a means
Amores who wanted to convict some of the accused) granted all 26 of predetermining the outcome of individual cases."[26-b] This criminal
accused total absolution and pronounced them "innocent of the crimes collusion as to the handling and treatment of the cases by public
charged in the two informations, and accordingly, they incur neither respondents at the secret Malacañang conference (and revealed only
criminal nor civil liability," notwithstanding the evidence on the basis of after fifteen months by Justice Manuel Herrera) completely disqualified
which the Fact Finding Board had unanimously declared the soldiers' respondent Sandiganbayan and voided ab initio its verdict. This renders
version of Galman being Aquino's killer a "perjured story, given moot and irrelevant for now the extensive arguments of respondents
deliberately and in conspiracy with one another." accused, particularly Generals Ver and Olivas and those categorized as
accessories, that there has been no evidence or witness suppressed
The fact of the secret Malacañang conference of January 10, 1985 at against them, that the erroneous conclusions of Olivas as police
which the authoritarian President discussed with the Presiding Justice of investigator do not make him an accessory of the crimes he investigated
the Sandiganbayan and the entire prosecution panel the matter of the and the appraisal and evaluation of the testimonies of the witnesses
imminent filing of the criminal charges against all the twenty-six accused presented and suppressed. There will be time and opportunity to
15
present all these arguments and considerations at the remand and issue (Gumabon vs. Director of the Bureau of Prisons, L-30026, 37 SCRA
retrial of the cases herein ordered before a neutral and impartial court. 420 [Jan. 30, 1971] which cannot be glossed over or disregarded at will.
Where the denial of the fundamental right of due process is apparent, a
The Supreme Court cannot permit such a sham trial and verdict and decision rendered in disregard of that right is void for lack of jurisdiction
travesty of justice to stand unrectified. The courts of the land under its (Aducayen vs. Flores, L-30370 [May 25, 19731, 51 SCRA 78; Shell Co. vs.
aegis are courts of law and justice and equity. They would have no Enage, L-30111-12, 49 SCRA 416 Feb. 27, 1973]). Any judgment or
reason to exist if they were allowed to be used as mere tools of injustice, decision rendered notwithstanding such violation may be regarded as a
deception and duplicity to subvert and suppress the truth, instead of 'lawless thing, which can be treated as an outlaw and slain at sight, or
repositories of judicial power whose judges are sworn and committed to ignored wherever it exhibits its head' (Aducayen vs. Flores, supra).
render impartial justice to all alike who seek the enforcement or
protection of a right or the prevention or redress of a wrong, without "Respondent Judge's dismissal order dated July 7, 1967 being null and
fear or favor and removed from the pressures of politics and prejudice. void for lack of jurisdiction, the same does not constitute a proper basis
More so, in the case at bar where the people and the world are entitled for a claim of double jeopardy (Serino vs. Zosa, supra).
to know the truth, and the integrity of our judicial system is at stake. In
life, as an accused before the military tribunal Ninoy had pleaded in vain xxx xxx xxx
that as a civilian he was entitled to due process of law and trial in the
regular civil courts before an impartial court with an unbiased "Legal jeopardy attaches only (a) upon a valid indictment, (b) before a
prosecutor. In death, Ninoy, as the victim of the "treacherous and vicious competent court, (c) after arraignment, (d) a valid plea having been
assassination" and the relatives and sovereign people as the aggrieved entered; and (e) the case was dismissed or otherwise terminated
parties plead once more for due process of law and a retrial before an without the express consent of the accused (People vs. Ylagan, 58 Phil.
impartial court with an unbiased prosecutor. The Court is constrained to 851). The lower court was not competent as it was ousted of its
declare the sham trial a mock trial the non-trial of the century and that jurisdiction when it violated the right of the prosecution to due process.
the predetermined judgment of acquittal was unlawful and void ab
initio. "In effect, the first jeopardy was never terminated, and the remand of
the criminal case for further hearing and/or trial before the lower courts
1. No double jeopardy. It is settled doctrine that double jeopardy cannot amounts merely to a continuation of the first jeopardy, and does not
be invoked against this Court's setting aside of the trial courts' judgment expose the accused to a second jeopardy."
of dismissal or acquittal where the prosecution which represents the More so does the rule against the invoking of double jeopardy hold in
sovereign people in criminal cases is denied due process. As the Court the cases at bar where as we have held, the sham trial was but a mock
stressed in the 1985 case of People vs. Bocar,[27] trial where the authoritarian president ordered respondents
Sandiganbayan and Tanodbayan to rig the trial and closely monitored
"Where the prosecution is deprived of a fair opportunity to prosecute the entire proceedings to assure the predetermined final outcome of
and prove its case, its right to due process is thereby violated.[27-a] acquittal and total absolution as innocent of all the respondents-
accused. Notwithstanding the laudable efforts of Justice Herrera which
"The cardinal precept is that where there is a violation of basic saw him near the end "deactivating" himself from the case, as it was his
constitutional rights, courts are ousted of their jurisdiction. Thus, the belief that its eventual resolution was already a foregone conclusion,
violation of the State's right to due process raises a serious jurisdictional they could not cope with the misuse and abuse of the overwhelming
16
powers of the authoritarian President to weaken the case of the jeopardy attaches, therefore. A void judgment is, in legal effect, no
prosecution, to suppress its evidence, harass, intimidate and threaten its judgment at all. By it no rights are divested. Through it, no rights can be
witnesses, secure their recantation or prevent them from testifying. Fully attained. Being worthless, all proceedings founded upon it are equally
aware of the prosecution's difficulties in locating witnesses and worthless. It neither binds nor bars anyone. All acts performed under it
overcoming their natural fear and reluctance to appear and testify, and all claims flowing out of it are void.
respondent Sandiganbayan maintained a "dizzying tempo" of the
proceedings and announced its intention to terminate the proceedings in xxx xxx xxx
about 6 months time or less than a year, pursuant to the scripted
scenario. The prosecution complained of "the Presiding Justice's Private respondent invoke 'justice for the innocent'. For justice to
seemingly hostile attitude towards (it)" and their being the subject of prevail, the scales must balance. It is not to be dispensed for the accused
warnings, reprimand and contempt proceedings as compared to the nil alone. The interests of the society, which they have wronged must also
situation for the defense. Herrera likewise complained of being "cajoled be equally considered. A judgment of conviction is not necessarily a
into producing witnesses and pressed on making assurances that if given denial of justice. A verdict of acquittal neither necessarily spells a
a certain period, they will be able to produce their witnesses," Herrera triumph of justice. To the party wronged, to the society offended, it
pleaded for "a reasonable period of preparation of its evidence" and could also mean injustice. This is where the Courts play a vital role. They
cited other pending cases before respondent court that were pending render justice where justice is due.[30]
trial for a much longer time where the "dizzying tempo" and "fast pace"
were not maintained by the court.[28] Manifestly, the prosecution and 2. Motion to Disqualify/Inhibit should have been resolved ahead. - The
the sovereign people were denied due process of law with a partial court private prosecutors had filed a motion to disqualify and for inhibition of
and biased Tanodbayan under the constant and pervasive monitoring respondents Justices of the Sandiganbayan on grounds of manifest bias
and pressure exerted by the authoritarian President to assure the and partiality to the defense and arising from then Atty. (now
carrying out of his instructions. A dictated, coerced and scripted verdict Tanodbayan) Raul M. Gonzales' charge that Justice Vera-Cruz had been
of acquittal such as that in the case at bar is a void judgment. In legal passing coaching notes to defense counsel. Justice Herrera had joined
contemplation, it is no judgment at all. It neither binds nor bars anyone. the motion and pleaded at the hearing of June 25, 1985 and in the
Such a judgment is "a lawless thing which can be treated as an outlaw". prosecution memorandum that respondent Sandiganbayan "should not
It is a terrible and unspeakable affront to the society and the people. To decide the case on the merits without first making a final ruling on the
paraphrase Brandeis:[29] If the authoritarian head of the government Motion for Inhibition." Herrera quoted the exchange between him and
becomes the lawbreaker, he breeds contempt for the law, he invites the Presiding Justice to show the latter's "following the script of
every man to become a law unto himself, he invites anarchy. Malacañang" -

Respondents-accused's contention that the Sandiganbayan judgment of "PJ PAMARAN


acquittal ends the case which cannot be appealed or reopened, without
being put in double jeopardy was forcefully disposed of by the Court "Well, the court believes that we should proceed with the trial and then
in People vs. Court of Appeals, which is fully applicable here, as follows: deal later on with that. After all the most important thing here is, shall
That is the general rule and presupposes a valid judgment. As earlier we say, the decision of the case."
pointed out, however, respondent Courts' Resolution of acquittal was a
void judgment for having been issued without jurisdiction. No double "J. HERRERA
17
promulgation of his decision pending action by this Court. But prudence
I think more important than the decision of the case, Your Honor, is the gave way to imprudence; the respondent judge acted precipitately by
capacity of the Justices to sit in judgment. That is more important than deciding the cases [hastily without awaiting this Court's action]. All of the
anything else." (p. 13 TSN, June 25, 1985) (Italics supplied by acts of the respondent judge manifest grave abuse of discretion on his
Herrera)."[31] part amounting to lack of jurisdiction which substantively prejudiced the
But the Sandiganbayan brushed aside Herrera's pleas and then wrongly petitioner."
blamed him, in the decision, for supposedly not having joined the
petition for inhibition, contrary to the facts above-stated, as follows: 3. Re: Objections of respondents. - The other related objections of
respondents' counsels must be rejected in the face of the Court's
"x x x the motion for inhibition above referred to related exclusively for declaration that the trial was a mock trial and that the predetermined
the contempt proceeding. Too, it must be remembered that the judgment of acquittal was unlawful and void ab initio.
prosecution neither joined that petition, nor did it at any time manifest a
desire to file a similar motion prior to the submission of these cases for (a) It follows that there is no need to resort to a direct action to annul
decision. To do it now is not alone out of season but is also a confession the judgment, instead of the present action which was timely filed
of official insouciance." (Page 22, Decision).[32] initially to declare a mistrial and to enjoin the rendition of the void
The action for prohibition was filed in the Court to seek the judgment. And after the hasty rendition of such judgment for the
disqualification of respondents Justices pursuant to the procedure declaration of its nullity, following the presentation of competent proof
recognized by the Court in the 1969 case of Paredes vs. heard by the Commission and the Court's findings therefrom that the
Gopengco[33] since an adverse ruling by respondent court might result in proceedings were from the beginning vitiated not only by lack of due
a verdict of acquittal, leaving the offended party without any remedy nor process but also by the collusion between the public respondents (court
appeal in view of the double jeopardy rule, not to mention the overriding and Tanodbayan) for the rendition of a predetermined verdict of
and transcendental public interest that would make out a case of denial acquitting all the twenty-six respondents-accused.
of due process to the People if the alleged failure on the part of the
Tanodbayan to present the complete evidence for the prosecution is (b) It is manifest that this does not involve a case of mere irregularities in
substantiated.[34] the conduct of the proceedings or errors of judgment which do not
affect the integrity or validity of the judgment or verdict.
In this case, petitioners' motion for reconsideration of the abrupt
dismissal of their petition and lifting of the temporary restraining order (c) The contention of one of defense counsel that the State and the
enjoining the Sandiganbayan from rendering its decision had been taken sovereign people are not entitled to due process is clearly erroneous and
cognizance of by the Court which had required the respondents', contrary to the basic principles and jurisprudence cited hereinabove.
including the Sandiganbayan's, comments. Although no restraining order
was issued anew, respondent Sandiganbayan should not have (d) The submittal of respondents-accused that they had not exerted the
precipitately issued its decision of total absolution of all the accused pressure applied by the authoritarian president on public respondents
pending the final action of this Court. This is the teaching of Valdez vs. and that no evidence was suppressed against them must be held to be
Aquilizan,[35] wherein the court in setting aside the hasty convictions, untenable in the wake of the evil plot now exposed for their preordained
ruled that "prudence dictated that (respondent judge) refrain from wholesale exoneration.
deciding the cases or at the very least to hold in abeyance the
18
(e) Respondents' invocation of the writer's opinion in Luzon executive. During this state of judicial siege, lawyers both in and outside
Brokerage Co., Inc. vs. Maritime Bldg. Co., Inc.[36] is inappropriate. The the judiciary perceptively surrendered to the animus of technicality. In
writer therein held that a party should be entitled to only one Supreme the end, morality was overwhelmed by technicality, so that the latter
Court and may not speculate on vital changes in the Court's membership emerged ugly and naked in its true manifestation."
for review of his lost case once more, since public policy and sound
practice demand that litigation be put to an end and no second pro Now that the light is emerging, the Supreme Court faces the task of
formamotion for reconsideration reiterating the same arguments should restoring public faith and confidence in the courts. The Supreme Court
be kept pending so long (for over six (6) years and one (1) month since enjoys neither the power of the sword nor of the purse. Its strength has
the denial of the first motion for reconsideration). This opinion cannot mainly in public confidence, based on the truth and moral force of its
be properly invoked, because here, petitioners' second motion for judgments. This has been built on its cherished traditions of objectivity
reconsideration was filed promptly on March 20, 1986 following the and impartiality, integrity and fairness and unswerving loyalty to the
denial under date of February 4th of the first motion for reconsideration Constitution and the rule of law which compels acceptance as well by
and the same was admitted per the Court's Resolution of April 3, 1986 the leadership as by the people. The lower courts draw their bearings
and is now being resolved within five months of its filing after the from the Supreme Court. With this Court's judgment today declaring the
Commission had received the evidence of the parties who were heard by nullity of the questioned judgment or acquittal and directing a new trial,
the Court only last August 26th. Then, the second motion for there must be a rejection of the temptation of becoming instruments of
reconsideration is based on an entirely new material ground which was injustice as vigorously as we rejected becoming its victims. The end of
not known at the time of the denial of the petition and filing of the first one form of injustice should not become simply the beginning of
motion for reconsideration, i.e, the secret Malacañang conference on another. This simply means that the respondents accused must now face
January 10, 1985 which came to light only fifteen months later in March, trial for the crimes charged against them before an impartial court with
1986 and showed beyond per adventure (as proved in the Commission an unbiased prosecutor with all due process. What the past regime had
hearings) the merits of the petition and that the authoritarian president denied the people and the aggrieved parties in the sham trial must now
had dictated and predetermined the final outcome of acquittal. Hence, be assured as much to the accused as to the aggrieved parties. The
the ten members of the Court (without any new appointees) people will assuredly have a way of knowing when justice has prevailed
unanimously voted to admit the second motion for reconsideration.[37] as well as when it has failed.

4. With the declaration of nullity of the proceedings, the cases must now The notion nurtured under the past regime that those appointed to
be tried before an impartial court with an unbiased prosecutor. There public office owe their primary allegiance to the appointing authority
has been the long dark night of authoritarian regime, since the fake and are accountable to him alone and not to the people or the
ambush in September, 1972 of then Defense Secretary Juan Ponce Enrile Constitution must be discarded. The function of the appointing authority
(as now admitted by Enrile himself) was staged to trigger the imposition with the mandate of the people, under our system of government, is to
of martial law and authoritarian one-man rule, with the padlocking of fill the public posts. While the appointee may acknowledge with
Congress and the abolition of the office of the Vice-President. gratitude the opportunity thus given of rendering public service, the
appointing authority becomes functus officio and the primary loyalty of
As recently retired Senior Justice Vicente Abad Santos recalled in his the appointed must be rendered to the Constitution and the sovereign
valedictory to the new members of the Bar last May, "In the past few people in accordance with his sacred oath of office. To paraphrase the
years, the judiciary was under heavy attack by an extremely powerful late Chief Justice Earl Warren of the United States Supreme Court, the
19
Justices and judges must ever realize that they have no constituency,
serve no majority nor minority but serve only the public interest as they
see it in accordance with their oath of office, guided only the
Constitution and their own conscience and honor.

5. Note of Commendation. The Court expresses its appreciation with


thanks for the invaluable services rendered by the Commission
composed of retired Supreme Court Justice Conrado M. Vasquez,
chairman, and retired Court of Appeals Justices Milagros German and
Eduardo Caguioa as members. In the pure spirit of public service, they
rendered selflessly and without remuneration thorough, competent and
dedicated service in discharging their tasks of hearing and receiving the
evidence, evaluating the same and submitting their Report and findings
to the Court within the scheduled period and greatly easing the Court's
burden.

ACCORDINGLY, petitioners' second motion for reconsideration is


granted. The resolutions of November 28, 1985 dismissing the petition
and of February 4, 1986 denying petitioners' motion for reconsideration
are hereby set aside and in lieu thereof, judgment is hereby rendered
nullifying the proceedings in respondent Sandiganbayan and its
judgment of acquittal in Criminal Cases Nos. 10010 and 10011 entitled
"People of the Philippines vs. Gen. Luther Custodio, et al." and ordering a
re-trial of the said cases which should be conducted with deliberate
dispatch and with careful regard for the requirements of due process, so
that the truth may be finally known and justice done to all.

This resolution is immediately executory.

SO ORDERED.

20
it would have been more prudent for Judge Espina to have voluntarily
inhibited himself from hearing the criminal cases.
[G.R. No. 118882. September 26, 1996]

RESOLUTION
PEOPLE OF THE PHILIPPINES, petitioner, vs. COURT OF APPEALS, HON. MELO, J.:
PEDRO S. ESPINA, CRISTETA REYES, JOHNY SANTOS, ANTONIO
ALEGRO, ROGELIO MENGUIN, PETE ALVERIO, ROGEN DOCTORA Before us is a petition for review with an urgent prayer for a writ of
and JANE GO, respondents. preliminary injunction and/or restraining order which seeks to: (a) annul
and set aside the decision of the Court of Appeals in CA-G.R. SP No. 31733
entitled "People of the Philippines vs. Hon. Pedro S. Espina et al.", insofar
SYLLABUS as it denied the People's prayer to inhibit respondent Judge Pedro S.
Espina of the Regional Trial Court of Tacloban City from hearing Criminal
Cases No. 93-01-38 & 9301-39, respectively, entitled "People of
1. REMEDIAL LAW; ACTIONS; PROCEDURAL DUE PROCESS; ESSENTIAL the Philippines vs. Cristeta Reyes, et al." and "People of
REQUIREMENT.- One of the essential requirements of procedural due the Philippines vs. Jane C. Go"; and b) enjoin respondent judge from
process in a judicial proceeding is that there must be an impartial conducting further proceedings in the aforesaid criminal cases.
court or tribunal clothed with judicial power to hear and determine
the matter before it. Thus, every litigant, including the State, is Acting on the said petition, the Court on April 3, 1995 resolved to
entitled to the cold neutrality of an impartial judge. require respondents all of whom are the accused in the aforesaid criminal
cases, to comment thereon within 10 days from notice, to issue the
2. JUDICIAL ETHICS; JUDGES; MUST POSSESS COLD NEUTRALITY TO FAIRLY temporary restraining order prayed for, and to enjoin respondent judge
ASSESS EVIDENCE OF PROSECUTION AND DEFENSE; PREVIOUS from taking further action in Criminal Cases No. 93-01-38 & 93-01-39 until
DECISION IN SPECIAL CIVIL ACTION ENJOINING PRELIMINARY further orders from the Court.
INVESTIGATION AGAINST PRINCIPAL ACCUSED, AN INDICATION OF
PARTIALITY; JUDGE SHOULD HAVE VOLUNTARILY INHIBITED FROM It appearing that private respondents Cristeta Reyes & Rogen
HEARING CRIMINAL CASES.- In the case at bar, Judge Pedro Espina, as Doctora, Johny Santos & Antonio Alegro & Jane C. Go failed to file their
correctly pointed out by the Solicitor General, can not be considered respective comments within the period which expired on April 17, 1995
to adequately possess such cold neutrality of an impartial judge as to and April 18, 1995, respectively, the Court on June 26, 1995 resolved to
fairly assess both the evidence to be adduced by the prosecution and require said private respondents to show cause why they should not be
the defense in view of his previous decision in Special Civil Action No. disciplinary dealt with for such failure, and to file the required comments,
92-11-219 wherein he enjoined the preliminary investigation at the both within ten (10) days from notice.
Regional State Prosecutor's Office level against herein respondent As to respondents Johny Santos & Antonio Alegro (prisoners at the
Jane Go, the principal accused in the killing of her husband Tacloban City Jail), copies of the resolution requiring them to file comment
Dominador Go.Judge Espina's decision in favor of respondent Jane Go were returned unserved with the postmaster's notation "unknown in said
serves as sufficient and reasonable basis for the prosecution to address". The Court, on October 11, 1995 directed the Solicitor General to
seriously doubt his impartiality in handling the criminal case. Verily,
1
serve the same on said respondents and to inform the Court of such with a judgment already made and waiting only to be formalized after
service, both within ten (10) days from notice. the litigants shall have undergone the charade of a formal
hearing. Judicial (and also extrajudicial) proceedings are not orchestrated
The Office of the Solicitor General filed a Compliance stating that the
plays in which the parties are supposed to make the motions and reach
required copies were sent to private respondents Santos & Alegro through
the denoucement according to a prepared script. There is no writer to
ordinary mail on December 26, 1995.
foreordain the ending. The Judge will reach his conclusions only after all
To date, all the respondents have not yet filed their comments, for the evidence is in and all the arguments are filed, on the basis of the
verily, delay in the submission of the same would appear to established facts and the pertinent law.
benefit respondents, and sanction against them may not really amount to
much, considering that most of them are under detention. Thus, so as not In the case at bar, Judge Pedro Espina, as correctly pointed out by the
to unduly delay the disposition of Criminal Cases No. 93-01-38 and 93-01- Solicitor General, can not be considered to adequately possess such cold
39, we now resolve to dispense with respondent's comments and to neutrality of an impartial judge as to fairly assess both the evidence to be
proceed with the disposition of the petition. adduced by the prosecution and the defense in view of his previous
decision in Special Civil Action No. 92-11-219 wherein he enjoined the
One of the essential requirements of procedural due process in a
preliminary investigation at the Regional State Prosecutor's Office level
judicial proceeding is that there must be an impartial court or tribunal
against herein respondent Jane Go, the principal accused in the killing of
clothed with judicial power to hear and determine the matter before
her husband Dominador Go.
it. Thus, every litigant, including the State, is entitled to the cold neutrality
of an impartial judge which was explained in Javier vs. Commission of Judge Espina's decision in favor of respondent Jane Go serves as
Elections (144 SCRA 194 [1986]), in the following words: sufficient and reasonable basis for the prosecution to seriously doubt his
impartiality in handling the criminal cases. Verily, it would have been more
This Court has repeatedly and consistently demanded "the cold prudent for Judge Espina to have voluntarily inhibited himself from
neutrality of an impartial judge" as the indispensable imperative of due hearing the criminal cases.
process. To bolster that requirement, we have held that the judge must
WHEREFORE, the petition is hereby GRANTED. The decision of the
not only be impartial but must also appear to be impartial as an added
Court of Appeals in CA-G.R. No. 31733 is hereby SET ASIDE and The
assurance to the parties that his decision will be just. The litigants are
Honorable Pedro Espina, Presiding Judge of Branch 7 of the Regional Trial
entitled to no less than that. They should be sure that when their rights
Court of the 8th Judicial Region stationed in Tacloban is hereby declared
are violated they can go to a judge who shall give them justice. They
disqualified from taking cognizance of Criminal Cases No. 93-01-38 and
must trust the judge, otherwise they will not go to him at all. They must
93-01-39. It is further ordered that these criminal cases be re-raffled to
believe in his sense of fairness, otherwise they will not seek his
another branch of the Regional Trial Court of Tacloban City.
judgment. Without such confidence, there would be no point in invoking
his action for the justice they expect.

Due process is intended to insure that confidence by requiring


compliance with what Justice Frankfurter calls the rudiments of fair
play. Fair play calls for equal justice. There cannot be equal justice where
a suitor approaches a court already committed to the other party and

2
Provincial Government of Sarangani, by reason of the duties of their
G.R. No. 205576, November 20, 2017 office[s], conspiring and confederating with one another, while
committing the offense in relation to office, taking advantage of their
MIGUEL D. ESCOBAR, EUGENE L. ALZATE, PERLA C. MAGLINTE, CESAR respective positions, did then and there willfully, unlawfully and
M. CAGANG, AND VIVENCIA S. TELESFORO, Petitioners, v. PEOPLE OF feloniously take, convert, and misappropriate the amount of THREE
THE PHILIPPINES, Respondent. HUNDRED THOUSAND PESOS (P300,000.00), Philippine Currency, in public
funds under their custody, and for which they are accountable, by
DECISION falsifying or causing to be falsified the corresponding Disbursement
Voucher dated May 27, 2002 and its supporting documents, making it
LEONEN, J.: appear that financial assistance had been sought by Nema Tamayo, the
alleged Team Leader of Malungon Market Vendors Association,
Except with respect to civil cases impliedly instituted, the rule of Malungon, Sarangani, when in truth and in fact, the accused knew fully
conclusiveness of judgment has no application in criminal law well that no financial assistance had been requested by Nema Tamayo and
proceedings. For criminal procedure, it is not res judicata under Rule 39, her association, nor did said Nema Tamayo and her association receive
Section 47 of the Rules of Court, but res judicata in prison grey as double the aforementioned amount, thereby facilitating the release of the above-
jeopardy, under Rule 117, Section 7. mentioned public funds in the amount of THREE HUNDRED THOUSAND
PESOS (P300,000.00), through the encashment by the accused of
This is a Consolidated Petition for Review on Certiorari1 assailing the Development Bank of the Philippines (DBP) Check No. 282390 dated May
August 22, 2012 Decision2 and January 8, 2013 Resolution3 of the 27, 2002, which amount they subsequently misappropriated to their
Sandiganbayan in Criminal Case No. 28293. The Sandiganbayan found personal use and benefit, and despite demand, the said accused failed to
petitioners Perla C. Maglinte (Maglinte), Eugene L. Alzate (Alzate), return the said amount to the damage and prejudice of the government
together with Amelia Carmela C. Zoleta (Zoleta), guilty of the crime of and the public interest in the aforesaid sum.
estafa through falsification of public documents, and petitioners Miguel
D. Escobar (Escobar), Vivencia S. Telesforo (Telesforo), and Cesar M. CONTRARY TO LAW.5
Cagang (Cagang), guilty of malversation.4
During arraignment, petitioners Cagang, Telesforo, Escobar, Alzate, and
An Information filed before the Sandiganbayan against petitioners read: Maglinte, and their co-accused Felipe Katu Constantino (Constantino) and
Zoleta pleaded not guilty to the offense charged.6 Co-accused Board
That on May 27, 2002, or prior or subsequent thereto in Sarangani, Member Margie P. Rudes (Rudes) was still-at-large.7 Constantino passed
Philippines, and within the jurisdiction of this Honorable Court, accused away on April 25, 2006; thus, the Sandiganbayan granted the motion to
public officers Miguel Draculan Escobar and Felipe Katu Constantino, dismiss his case.8
being then the Governor and Vice-Governor, respectively, of the Province
of Sarangani, Margie Purisima Rudes and Eugene Lariza Alzate, Provincial After pre-trial,9 trial commenced.
Board Members, Perla Cabilin Maglinte, Provincial Administrator, Cesar
Matas Cagang, Provincial Treasurer, Vivencia Sasam Telesforo, The prosecution's version of the events was as follows:
Management and Audit Analyst III, and Amelia Carmela Constantino
Zoleta, and Executive Assistant, all accountable public officials of the
1
Commission on Audit State Auditor IV Helen M. Cailing (Auditor Cailing), Commission on Audit's letter dated July 15, 2003, addressed to "Tita P.
the Team Leader of a Special Audit Team in Sarangani Province, Sari�o, Treasurer of the Market Vendors Association of Malungon,"
discovered irregularities in Sarangani Province's grant of financial seeking verification on the financial assistance of P300,000.00 for the
assistance, violating COA Circular No. 96-003 dated February 27, association.19 He executed an affidavit that their association did not
1996.10 An Audit and Observation Memorandum dated June 26, 2003 receive this amount. He stated that he received the letter as it was
containing the team's findings was sent to then Sarangani Governor addressed to the association but there was no officer or member by that
Escobar, Provincial Accountant Maria D. Camanay, Provincial Treasurer name. When he was shown a document dated May 20, 2002 and a Project
Cagang, Provincial Engineer Mahmod Panayaman, and Provincial Proposal, both signed by a "Nema Tamayo," purportedly a team leader of
Agriculturist Romeo Miole. Cagang replied that the transaction was the Malungon Market Vendors Association, Vegafria testified that there
treated as a cash advance; thus, the issuance of official receipt by the Non- was no association member or officer by that name.20
Government Organizations (NGOs) and People's Organizations (POs) was
unnecessary.11 The team found that the supporting documents for Mary Ann G. Gadian (Gadian) testified that she was employed in the Office
financial assistance to the Malungon Market Vendors Association lacked of then Vice Governor Constantino as a Computer Operator and was
the approval of Governor Escobar, in violation of COA Circular No. 96-003. supervised by Vice Governor Constantino's daughter, Amelia Carmela
However, Governor Escobar certified on the disbursement voucher that Zoleta (Zoleta). Zoleta had her make fake documents, requests, and
the expense was "necessary, lawful and incurred under his direct proposals to make money.21 In May 2002, she received instructions from
supervision."12 Also on the disbursement voucher was a certification from Vice Governor Constantino, Board Member Juanito Purisima, and Zoleta
Telesforo that the supporting documents were complete, and from to prepare supporting documents for the disbursement of funds to be
Provincial Treasurer Cagang that there were available funds. The team used for the wedding of Board Member Alzate,22 and to use the name
also found that the disbursement voucher was not received by the "Tita P. Sari�o" in the fictitious documents.23Thus, Zoleta told her to go to
Malungon Market Vendors Association.13 It was signed received by a "Tita the office of Provincial Administrator Maglinte who, upon Gadian's arrival,
P. Sari�o," for whom the team searched, but failed to locate, in Barangay immediately told her to ask Zoleta whether or not "another P10,000.00
Malungon.14 This was in violation of COA Circular No. 96-003 because it for the . . . department heads could be added to the amount to be
should have been deposited to the account of the Malungon Market disbursed."24 Upon hearing this, Zoleta instructed Gadian to "double the
Vendors Association. Further, Auditor Cailing testified that upon amount so that the processing will be expedited."25 Thereafter, Maglinte
verification with the bank, she was told that the check had been deposited told Gadian to source the P300,000.00 from the P1,000,000.00 CDF of
to the account of the beneficiary but that the amount was withdrawn the Malungon.26 Thus, Gadian prepared the fictitious letter dated May 20,
next day.15 The funds for the financial assistance were sourced from the 2002 and the fictitious Project Proposal under the fictitious name of
Countrywide Development Fund (CDF), which was intended for livelihood "Nema Tamayo."27She asked her co�worker Eleanor Tablani (Tablani) to
projects of Sarangani Province.16 sign above the name "Nema Tamayo."28After Zoleta reviewed the
fictitious documents, she submitted them to Maglinte, who reviewed
Juanilio V. Vegafria (Vegafria) testified that he was the President of the them and immediately affixed her initials under the name of Governor
Malungon Market Vendors Association from 2001 to 2004.17 With the Escobar. She and Maglinte then delivered the disbursement voucher and
help of the vice-mayor and the Department of Social Welfare and supporting documents to the office of Governor Escobar. Gadian waited
Development, he was able to obtain financial assistance from the outside. When Maglinte emerged from Governor Escobar's office, she
municipal government of Malungon for their recovery from a fire that handed Gadian the disbursement voucher bearing Governor Escobar's
burned down the Malungon public market in 2001.18 He received signature and they returned to Maglinte's office.29Maglinte imprinted the
2
rubber stamp signature of Governor Escobar in the duplicate copies of the were necessary, lawful and incurred under his direct supervision," and by
voucher30 then gave the documents to a clerk at the office of the Telesforo, signifying the completeness of the supporting documents.35
Provincial Accountant for logging and processing. Since Provincial
Accountant Maria Camanay (Camanay) was in General Santos City, Maglinte denied Gadian's allegations regarding her participation in the
Telesforo signed over the former's name in the disbursement voucher and facilitation of the transaction. She testified that she had no participation
in the Journal Entry Voucher. Thereafter, Maglinte handed the documents in the falsification of the letter request or the Project Proposal, or that
to a clerk in the office of the Provincial Treasurer who wrote they had been forwarded to her office. She claimed that Vice Governor
"RCI#1/TFMAY2002" on the voucher and then went to the room of Constantino had informed her over the phone that these documents from
Provincial Treasurer Cagang. While Provincial Treasurer Cagang reviewed the Malungon Market Vendors Association would be brought to her office.
the documents, "he looked at her shaking his head."31 He signed the She verified the letter request and Project Proposal before signing the
voucher. Then, Gadian went to the cashier, who prepared the check. disbursement voucher. Thereafter, separate investigations were initiated
Thereafter, she presented the check to Cagang, who signed it. She went for the reported anomaly. While the transactions were being investigated,
back to the office of Maglinte, who also signed it. Then, Gadian returned former Sarangani Governor Priscilla Chiongbian ordered for her to come
all the documents to the Provincial Treasurer's Office. She called Sheryl to her residence, where Maglinte met Congressman Erwin Chiongbian
Desiree Jane Tangan, also known as Joy Tangan (Tangan), of the Office of (Congressman Chiongbian). They discussed the issue of the anomalous
the Vice Governor to advise the status of the transaction and to receive financial assistance that had been granted to several People's
further instructions from Zoleta. Pursuant to Zoleta's instructions, Tangan Organizations in Sarangani, but Maglinte said she had no knowledge of
accompanied a woman, who acted as a "dummy," to claim the check from them. This enraged Congressman Chiongbian, who said that she would
the office of the Provincial Treasurer and to encash it at the bank. Tangan suffer the consequences of withholding the situation from him.36 She said
gave Gadian the P300,000.00, which she delivered to Zoleta. Zoleta gave she was not aware of COA Circular No. 96-003 and was not furnished with
Gadian P100,000.00 and called Alzate to go to her office.32 When Alzate a copy of the COA Audit Observation Memorandum, as it was not
arrived, Tatang Purisima (Purisima) gave him P200,000.00 for the addressed to her.37
wedding. Gadian placed the P100,000.00 from Zoleta in five (5) envelopes
with P20,000.00 each and brought them to the office of Maglinte, where Renante L. Dialawi, a casual clerk at the office of Board Member Rudes,
she saw Camanay, Lea Duhay Lungsod, Mariter Saison, Sitiwa Maruhom testified that Gadian also used to be a staff in that office and that Gadian
Sali, and Rose Concon, who were awaiting their shares. was in the office of Board Member Rudes in the morning of May 27,
2002,38 and did not leave the whole afternoon.39
Tangan testified that in 2002, she worked as Local Legislative Assistant
Staff I at the Office of then Vice Governor Constantino.33 She corroborated Escobar denied knowledge of and participation in the crime.40 His only
Gadian's testimony.34 participation in the transaction was signing the disbursement voucher.
However, after he learned of the anomalies when it was discussed on a
The version of the defense was as follows: radio show, he created a Fact Finding or Investigation Committee, whose
report was included in the report of the Commission on Audit Special
Cagang testified that when the disbursement voucher was brought to his Audit Team. He did not receive any notice of disallowance or demand to
office by Gadian, it was already signed by Provincial Governor Escobar, return the P300,000.00 and was not asked to explain why he signed the
"certif[ying] that the expenses or cash advances covered by the voucher disbursement voucher before the case against him was instituted.41

3
Telesforo testified that she signed the disbursement voucher only after defrayed by his relatives, not by the illegal disbursement.48 During
verifying that the supporting documents were complete and in order:42 additional direct examination, Alzate testified that his observation on the
date of the machine validation of the check was confirmed by a
[S]he affixed her signature on the voucher after she has verified that the Development Bank of the Philippines (DBP) Teller. He also stated that he
attachments consisting of - (1) the Certificate of Registration issued by the sent a letter dated April 30, 2009 to the DBP General Santos City Branch
Cooperative Development Authority, (2) machine copy of the Certificate requesting a certification on the encashment date of the check, but the
of Accreditation issued by the Provincial Board of Sarangani, (3) the Letter bank refused to issue one without a subpoena.49
Request of the Malungon Market Vendors Association, (4) Project
Proposal of the Malungon Market Vendors Association, (5) machine copy Zoleta denied Gadian's testimony against her.50 She denied seeing Alzate
of the memorandum of agreement executed by and between the Province in their office on May 27, 2002.51 She testified that she did not participate
of Sarangani and the Malungon Market Vendors Association, and (6) the in preparing disbursement vouchers because the budget of the Office of
Board Resolution issued by the Malungon Market Vendors Association the Vice Governor was controlled by a certain Mr. DelaCruz.52
authorizing its treasurer to receive and encash the check, were complete
and in order; that since some of the attached documents were In its assailed Decision, the Sandiganbayan found that the documents had
photo/machine copies, she called Ms. Banderado to go to the office of the been falsified which led to the disbursement of public funds, supposedly
Governor to check the originals of the photo/machine copied documents; to be given as financial assistance for the Malungon Market Vendors
and that it was only after Ms. Banderado informed her that the original Association, which neither prepared the documents nor received the
documents are on file in the office of the Governor that she affixed her financial assistance. It found that all the accused were public officers at
signature in Box B of the Disbursement Voucher[.]43 the time material to the case and that Escobar, Telesforo, and Cagang had
custody of the funds which constituted the source of the financial
Alzate denied receiving P200,000.00 from Zoleta and having participation assistance granted to the Malungon Market Vendors Association.53 The
in the anomalous transaction.44 He said that the day the check was funds were public since they were withdrawn from the account of the
encashed was on May 29, 2002 and not on May 27, 2002, as shown by the Province of Sarangani.54 Escobar, Telesforo, and Cagang signed the
machine validation on the check. He claimed that on May 29, 2002, he was disbursement voucher and the funds were received by the payee.55 The
in Cebu City for the Second Quarter National Board Meeting of the Sandiganbayan found that Zoleta, Maglinte, and Alzate acted in
Provincial Board Members League of the Philippines, held from May 28, conspiracy in the falsification of the letter request dated May 20, 2002 and
2002 to May 31, 2002.45 His attendance in this event was attested to by the Project Proposal, which were the supporting documents for the
the Agenda of the League, the Allotment and Obligation Slip for his travel disbursement voucher.56These falsified documents "led to the
expenses reimbursement, the disbursement voucher for his malversation of public funds."57
reimbursement, his plane tickets, and the Certificate of Appearance
issued by the Department of Interior and Local Government. Additionally, The Sandiganbayan held that petitioners Escobar, Telesforo, and Cagang
the Minutes of the First Special Session of the Sangguniang Panlalawigan approved the disbursement voucher despite the fact that it lacked the
of Sarangani on May 29, 2002 indicated that he was absent on official documentation required under COA Circular No. 96-003 dated February
business.46 He claimed that the case was politically motivated because he 27, 1996:
refused the late Congressman James Chiongbian's offer to run as the Vice
Governor of a certain Governor Dominguez against former Vice Governor However, COA Auditor Cailing stated that the said accused approved the
Constantino and Governor Escobar.47 His wedding expenses were disbursement despite the lack of the needed documentation as provided
4
in COA Circular No. 96-003 dated February 27, 1996, because - (1) the case. The issue there was the malversation of P375,000.00 as financial
disbursement was not included in the work and financial plan of the assistance to the Kanlaong Fishermen's Group and covered by
provincial government of Sarangani; (2) the market vendors association Disbursement Voucher No. 101-2002-7-10376 and DBP Check No.
was not accredited by the provincial government of Sarangani; (3) there 11521401.62
was no memorandum of agreement between the market vendors
association and the provincial government of Sarangani; (4) the The dispositive portion of the Sandiganbayan Decision read:
beneficiary did not submit its financial statement for a period of at least
three (3) years and Certificate of Registration with the Securities and WHEREFORE, judgment is hereby rendered as follows -
Exchange Commission (SEC); (5) the letter request for the grant dated May
20, 2002, and the accompanying Project Proposal were not approved by 1. finding accused PERLA C. MAGLINTE, AMELIA CARMELA C.
the provincial Governor; (6) DBP Check No. 282390 dated May 27, 2002, ZOLETA, and EUGENE ALZATE, GUILTY as principals of the
was issued in the name of the alleged Treasurer Tita P. Sari�o instead of complex crime of estafa through falsification of public
the Malungon Market Vendors Association and it was encashed when it documents defined and penalized under the provisions of
should have been for deposit only; (7) there was no official receipt Articles 315 and 171 in relation to Article 48 of the Revised
attached to the voucher evidencing receipt by the payee or recipient of Penal Code and applying the Indeterminate Sentence Law
the payment; and (8) there was no listing of the officials and members of sentencing each of them to suffer indeterminate penalty
the association who will benefit from the financial assistance. Auditor of ten (10) years as minimum, to eleven (11) years and four
Cailing testified that the only documents attached to the voucher were (4) months of prision mayor as maximum, with the
the said letter request dated May 20, 2002, and the Project Proposal that accessories provided by law, and to pay a fine of
was signed by Nema Tamayo which did not bear the approval of the PhP5,000.00;
Provincial Governor; and that because of said violations, the financial
assistance given to the Malungon Market Vendors Association was 2. finding accused MIGUEL D. ESCOBAR, VIVENCIA S.
illegally and fraudulently made.58 TELESFORO and CESAR M. CAGANG GUILTY of
malversation and applying the Indeterminate Sentence
The Sandiganbayan found that petitioners Escobar, Telesforo, and Cagang Law sentencing each of them to suffer the indeterminate
should have asked for documents to show the members' names who penalty of ten (10) years and one (1) day of prision
would avail of financial assistance and the authority of "Tita P. Sari�o" to mayor as minimum, to eighteen (18) years, eight (8)
act as the treasurer of Malungon Market Vendors Association.59 Further, months and one (1) day of reclusion temporal as
they allowed the misappropriation considering that when the Commission maximum, and to pay a fine of PhP300,000.00 and the
on Audit Special Audit Team conducted its audit, petitioners Escobar, penalty of perpetual special disqualification to hold public
Telesforo, and Cagang "failed to account or liquidate the disbursement or office and other accessory penalties provided by law; and
to give reasonable explanation of its disappearance."60 Having failed to
observe the necessary care under the circumstances, they were criminally 3. ordering all the accused, jointly and severally, to indemnify
negligent and liable for malversation.61 the Provincial Government of Sarangani the
defrauded/malversed amount of PhP300,000.00, and to
On the issue of conclusiveness of judgment, the Sandiganbayan held that pay the cost.
the issue in Criminal Case No. 28331 was different from the issue in this
5
As for accused MARGIE P. RUDES, who is at-large and beyond the public documents, a charge that is "necessarily included in a charge of
jurisdiction of the Court, this case is ordered ARCHIVED. malversation of public funds through falsification of public documents."70

SO ORDERED.63 (Emphasis in the original) There was no proof that petitioners Maglinte and Alzate participated in
the falsification of the fictitious documents.71 The Sandiganbayan
Petitioners filed their respective Motions for Reconsideration, which were misinterpreted Gadian's testimony when she said petitioner Maglinte
denied by the Sandiganbayan in its January 8, 2013 Resolution. The "advised Gadian in the preparation of the voucher and the falsified
dispositive portion of the Resolution read: supporting documents."72 Gadian did not testify that she informed
Maglinte that she was about to falsify the fictitious documents, or that
IN VIEW OF ALL THE FOREGOING, the respective Motions for Maglinte told her to falsify them, or agreed to the falsification. It was only
Reconsideration of accused-movants Zoleta, Maglinte, Escobar, Telesforo conjecture on the part of Gadian that Maglinte was aware of the
and Cagang, and the Motion for New Trial of accused-movant Alzate, falsification.73 Petitioners quote Gadian's testimony:
are DENIED.

SO ORDERED.64 (Emphasis in the original) ATTY. LARGO:

Thus, petitioners filed this petition on March 14, 201365 before this Court. � �
On June 20, 2013, respondent, through the Office of the Ombudsman,
filed its Comment.66 On March 3, 2014, petitioners filed their Reply. On Q: Now, be candid to the Court, Ms. Witness. Prior to the giving of
July 7, 2017, petitioner Maglinte filed a Motion to Travel, which this Court instruction to you by accused Zoleta, you have no knowledge
denied. at all of whether accused Zoleta had any discussion with any of
the accused her[e] with respect to this transaction?
Petitioners claim that the Sandiganbayan erred in convicting petitioners
Maglinte and Alzate of the crime of Estafa through Falsification of Public � �
Documents, considering that it was not shown that they acquired juridical
possession of the money subject of the case.67 Even assuming they A: I am no longer concerned with that, sir, but I am just told what
acquired juridical possession, it was not received "in trust, or on to do.
commission or for administration or under any other obligation involving
the duty to make delivery of or to return the same."68 Likewise, there was � �
no prior demand made upon petitioners Maglinte or Alzate.69
Q: Am I correct to say that your answer to my last question is
Respondent argues that all the accused were charged with conspiracy to "yes"? That you had no knowledge at all if they had any
commit malversation of public funds through falsification of public conversation, discussion with respect to this transaction?
documents. However, since the accountable public officials were
convicted only of malversation through negligence, those who were not � �
accountable for the funds were liable for estafa through falsification of

6
A: Yes, sir. Q You stated that after receiving the P200,000.00 from Mary Ann
- Gadian, Ms. Zoleta gave this P200,000.00 to the Vice Governor,
� � her father?

Q: Prior to Zoleta's giving of instruction to you? � �

� � A Yes[,] Ma'am.
-
A: Yes, sir. That is none of my business.74
� �

Similarly, there was no testimony showing that petitioner Alzate was Q And after she gave the P200,000.00 to the Vice Governor, she
aware of the falsification. Tangan testified regarding petitioner Alzate's - then made a phone call to Board Member Alzate. What
participation: happened after she made this phone call to Board Member
Alzate?
Q What did Mary Ann Gadian do with the money that you gave
- her? � �

� � A Board Member Alzate went to our office, Ma'am.


-
A She separated the P200,000.00, then the P100,000.00, then the
- P200,000.00 was given to Amelia Carmela Zoleta, Ma'am. � �

� � Q What happened when Board Member Alzate arrived in that


- office?
Q After Ms. Gadian gave the P200,000.00 to Amelia Carmela
- Zoleta, what happened to that amount? � �

� � A Sinabihan sya ni Vice Governor, "To, akin na ang kwarta mo,


- To."
A She gave it to her father. Then Amelia Carmela Zoleta called up
- Board Member Alzate that the money is ready. Then Board �
Member Alzate went to our office, Ma'am.
INTERPRETATION:
� �

7
Petitioner's claim on Gadian's testimony conflicts with this:
� �

He was told by the Vice Governor, "To ... (discontinued)["] Q What did you do with the money given to you by Joy Tangan?
-

� �
WITNESS:
A I gave it to Amelia Carmela Zoleta.
� � -

This is your money. � �

� Q You gave the money to Amelia Carmela Zoleta in the amount


- of?
INTERPRETATION:
� �
� �
A P300,000.00. She placed it in her drawer first.
To, this is your money, To. -

� � �

PROSEC. HIDALGO: Q What happened after Amelia Carmela Zoleta placed the cash of
- P300,000.00 in her drawer?
� �
� �
Q After the Vice Governor informed Board Member Alzate that
- this money was there, what was the Board Member's A She gave me a bundle of P100,000.00.
response? -

� � � �

A He said thank you, smiled and went out, Ma'am.75 Q What happened to the other P200,000.00?
- -

8
� � � �

A She called through the intercom Eugene Alzate to come up. Q What is that money that Tatang gave to Eugene?
- -

� � � �

Q After accused Zoleta called up accused Alzate to go up to her A The amount of P200,000.00 for wedding expenses.
- office, what happened afterwards, if any? -

� � � �

A Eugene Alzate arrived with Tatang Purisima. Q Why do you know that, that incident transpired in the
- - computer room?

� � � �

Q What did both of them do afterwards, if any? A Because the place is very near and you can see what they are
- - doing.76

� �
Petitioners argue that to be considered a conspirator, an accused must
have performed an overt act that contributed to the execution of the
A They entered the computer room.
crime.77 There must be evidence of actual cooperation in the crime and
-
approval of an illegal act is not sufficient to establish
conspiracy.78 Respondent contends that petitioner Maglinte's complicity
� �
to the crime is evident from her conduct before, during, and after its
commission.79 She instructed Gadian to ask Zoleta whether or not a total
Q What transpired inside [the] computer room?
of P10,000.00 could be added to the amount to be disbursed for
-
distribution to several provincial employees and to source the fund from
the CDF allocated to the municipality of Malungon.80 Both Maglinte and
� � Alzate shared in the proceeds.81 After the encashment of the check issued
pursuant to the falsified documents, Alzate quickly arrived to receive the
A Tatang gave the money to Eugene. P200,000.00 from Constantino after being informed by Zoleta that the
- money was ready.82

9
Petitioners assert that the Sandiganbayan erred in convicting petitioners had ... to certify and approve the validity, propriety and legality of
based on the uncorroborated testimonies of witnesses who participated expenditures to be charged [to the fund]."96 As a trust fund, petitioner
in the crime, appeared to be the most guilty,83 and were motivated to lie Telesforo also had to certify and approve the completeness and propriety
by their desire to be made state witnesses.84 Respondent argues that of the supporting documents.97
petitioners are the ones who controlled and directed the commission of
the crime.85 In Arias v. Sandiganbayan,98 this Court held that a head of office can rely
on their subordinates to a reasonable extent, and there has to be some
Petitioners claim that petitioner Alzate's constitutional rights were reason shown why any particular voucher must be examined in detail.
violated when the Sandiganbayan denied his motion for new trial and Petitioners argue that this case can be invoked to refute negligence on the
motion to allow him to present additional witnesses.86 Respondent points part of petitioner Escobar, who relied in good faith that his subordinates
out that petitioner Alzate was still not ready to present evidence in his would perform their functions in accordance with the law.99 The voucher
defense despite having four (4) years to prepare for it.87 He only asked for presented to petitioner Escobar for signature appeared to have been
the opportunity to present additional evidence via a motion for prepared with regularity, and nobody called his attention to any
reconsideration after the Sandiganbayan had already admitted all the anomalies in the request for fund assistance. Gadian made sure that her
formal offers of evidence of the petitioners.88 His Motion to Allow Accused falsification of the fictitious documents would be
100 101
Alzate to Present Additional Witnesses or Motion to Allow Accused Alzate undetectable. Likewise, in Magsuci v. Sandiganbayan, this Court
to Enter into Stipulation of Facts with the Prosecution was filed two (2) held that if there is no evidence of conspiracy, the head of an office is not
years after he testified. It was also a year and a half after manifesting that negligent for relying on misplaced good faith on a subordinate primarily
he was not presenting any additional evidence, and a year and two (2) responsible for a particular matter.102 Respondent argues that the cases
months after the Sandiganbayan had already ruled on the admissibility of of Arias and Magsuci do not apply, considering there were reasons for
his exhibits.89 petitioner Escobar to closely examine the transaction. The letter request
and Project Proposal were signed by "Nema Tamayo," yet the
Petitioners also argue that petitioners Escobar and Telesforo are not disbursement voucher was payable to "Tita P. Sari�o/Treasurer Market
accountable officers under Article 217 of the Revised Penal Code.90 To be Vendors Assoc."103 Escobar did not make any attempt to ensure the
accountable officers, they must receive, by reason of their office, implementation and completion of the project for which the funds were
government funds or property over which they acquire custody and for disbursed, monitor the funds after it was released, make an attempt to
which they are held responsible.91 Under the Local Government Code, accredit the organization, or enter into a Memorandum of Agreement.
only the Provincial Treasurer is accountable for the funds of a province in This was reckless imprudence on his part. Petitioner Escobar disputes this
relation to Article 217 of the Revised Penal Code.92 Further, petitioners and says there was no discrepancy, as both the check and the
insist that based on the Government Auditing Code of the Philippines disbursement voucher were payable to "Tita P. Sari�o/Treasurer Market
and Arriola and Radan v. Sandiganbayan,93what dictates whether or not Vendors Association."104 Petitioners further argue that the duty to
officers are accountable are their duties and functions which allow them accredit and enter into a Memorandum of Agreement does not belong to
to receive public property for which they are required to petitioner Escobar, but generally, to the government office
account.94 Respondent argues that the funds were in the nature of a trust concerned.105 Moreover, when the transaction was being investigated,
fund, which was in "the possession of the local government as trustee and petitioner Escobar lost his bid for governor and stepped down in 2004. He
for the management of the local government officials as lost track of the investigation, which he later learned had been
administrators."95 As a trust fund in their possession, petitioner "Escobar discontinued by the elected officials of Sarangani province.106
10
In Criminal Case No. 28331, which arose from the same COA Audit Report such essential elements cannot be deemed to have been established with
and Ombudsman Resolution dated August 11, 2004,107 the Sandiganbayan respect to accused Escobar.112
relied on the testimonies of Gadian and Cailing 108 and held that petitioner
Escobar is not an accountable officer for purposes of Article 217 of the Petitioners argue that conclusiveness of judgment bars these
Revised Penal Code.109 It also held that there is nothing that shows that determinations of the Sandiganbayan on material facts from being
petitioner Escobar was aware of the anomalies in the transaction or that litigated again.113 Respondent argues that the principle of conclusiveness
he participated in the falsification of the fictitious documents.110 The of judgment is inapplicable because this case is not a continuation of
Sandiganbayan also found that petitioner Escobar could not be liable Criminal Case No. 28331.114Petitioners rely on Hacienda Bigaa, Inc. v.
based only on signing the disbursement voucher and the project proposal Chavez115 to argue that the rule can be raised under different claims or
after petitioner Maglinte certified the legal assistance as legitimate and causes of action and that it only requires identity of parties and issues to
lawful.111 Thus, as quoted by petitioners, the Sandiganbayan held: be invoked.116

As for accused Escobar, the prosecution evidence does not even attempt Petitioners argue that COA Circular No. 96-003 does not apply to fund
to link him to the anomalous transaction. There is absolutely nothing that assistance to NGOs or POs funded out of a CDF of a congressman117 and
would show knowledge on his part about it. The most that the prosecution that it was not sufficiently established that the supporting documents for
did was to rely merely on his signatures appearing in the project proposal the disbursement were deficient or incomplete.118 According to
and the disbursement voucher. However, this alone would not suffice, petitioners, the disposition of a trust fund is subject to the provisions of
especially taking into consideration his testimony, which the court the Special Allotment Release Order (SARO), and not the COA Circular No.
similarly observes, that the documents, taken at face value, do not show 96-003.119
any irregularity. Moreover, the initials of accused Provincial Administrator
Maglinte, as the prior reviewing authority, appear in the disbursement Respondent argues that COA Circular No. 96-003 applies to all releases of
voucher, which is an accepted common practice or control measure fund as financial assistance to NGOs or POs, based on its text:
before the approving authority affixes his signature and expresses his
conformity. What is more is that accused Escobar did not even sign the 1. The subject of the circular is described as a restatement of COA
check. And finally, as Provincial Governor, he does not have custody of the Circular No. 95-003 prescribing accounting and auditing guidelines
funds, and neither is he accountable therefor. Instead, as pointed out on the release of fund assistance to NGOs/POs.
above, it is accused Cagang, as the Provincial Treasurer, who has custody
and who is accountable for the public funds of the province. 2. In its definition of terms, it defines fund assistance as "government
funds entrusted to the NGO/PO to cover the implementation of a
Accordingly, except for the fact that accused Escobar is a public officer, project which is included in the Work and Financial Plan (WFP) and
none of the elements essential to support a charge for malversation are Budget of the GO release of which is not necessarily limited to
present. Neither is there anything to connect him to the fabrication or Maintenance and Other Operating Expenses (MODE), 'Grants,
falsification of the supporting documents submitted to justify the release Subsid[i]es and Contributions (3-10-000).' This may be in the form
of the funds. Similarly, therefore, there is no legal and factual basis to of training packages, livelihood projects, interest-free loans, etc."
sustain the position of the prosecution as to his alleged guilt. Again, unless
it can be shown that there was conspiracy, and there is none on record,

11
3. In its guidelines, it states that "... if the fund assistance will be petitioners. Article 315, paragraph 2(a) provides that estafa may be
charged to savings or trust receipts received for the purpose, such committed:
utilization shall be approved by proper authorities."120
2. By means of any of the following false pretenses or fraudulent acts
This Court resolves the following issues: executed prior to or simultaneously with the commission of the fraud:

First, whether or not the Sandiganbayan erred in convicting petitioners (a) By using fictitious name, or falsely pretending to possess power,
Eugene L. Alzate and Perla C. Maglinte of estafa through conspiracy; influence, qualifications, property, credit, agency, business or imaginary
transactions, or by means of other similar deceits.
Second, whether or not the Sandiganbayan erred in not applying the case
of Arias v. Sandiganbayan121to find that petitioner Miguel D. Escobar Thus, the elements of estafa by means of deceit are:
properly relied on good faith that his subordinates would perform their
functions in accordance with the law; a. That there must be a false pretense, fraudulent act or fraudulent
means.
Third, whether or not the Sandiganbayan denied petitioner Eugene L.
Alzate due process when it denied his motion for new trial and did not b. That such false pretense, fraudulent act or fraudulent means must
allow his presentation of additional witnesses based on technicalities; be made or executed prior to or simultaneously with the
commission of the fraud.
Fourth, whether or not petitioners Miguel D. Escobar and Vivencia S.
Telesforo are accountable public officers; c. That the offended party must have relied on the false pretense,
fraudulent act, or fraudulent means, that is, he was induced to
Fifth, whether or not the Sandiganbayan erred in convicting Miguel D. part with his money or property because of the false pretense,
Escobar, Eugene L. Alzate, Perla C. Maglinte, Cesar M. Cagang, and fraudulent act, or fraudulent means.
Vivencia S. Te1esforo based primarily on the testimony of participants in
d. That as a result thereof, the offended party suffered
the commission of the crime; and
damage. 122 (Emphasis in the original)
Finally, whether or not the principle of conclusiveness of judgment in
The elements of the crime were proved. That the documents were
Criminal Case No. 28331 binds the Sandiganbayan in this case.
falsified was amply established by the evidence. The documents were
falsified before the disbursement, which was allowed based on the
This Court denies the Petition.
falsified documents.
I
The conspiracy among petitioners Alzate, Maglinte, and co-accused Zoleta
to commit the crime was also sufficiently established. Under the Revised
Although not expressly stated by the Sandiganbayan, petitioners Alzate,
Penal Code, there is a conspiracy "when two or more persons come to an
Maglinte, and co-accused Zoleta were convicted of estafa under Article
agreement concerning the commission of a felony and decide to commit
315, paragraph 2(a), and not 1(b) of the Revised Penal Code as claimed by
it."123

12
It is well established that conspiracy may be inferred. In Alvizo v. concurrence of sentiment, a conspiracy may be inferred though no actual
Sandiganbayan,124 meeting among them to concert means is proved. Evidence of actual
participation, rather than of passive acquiescence, is desirable. But proof
Direct proof is not essential to show conspiracy. It need not be shown that of acquiescence in, or consent to, the actions of others is relevant to show
the parties actually came together and agreed in express terms to enter the criminal intention of the passive party, and generally the smallest
into and pursue a common design. The existence of the assent of minds degree of consent or collusion among parties lets in the act or words of
which is involved in a conspiracy may be, and from the secrecy of the one against the others." (Underhill on Criminal Evidence, pp. 795, 796.)
crime, usually must be, inferred by the court from proof of facts and
circumstances which, taken together, apparently indicate that they are For the foregoing reasons, we find that the conclusions of the trial court
merely parts of some complete whole. If it is proved that two or more are fully justified by the evidence.127
persons aimed by their acts towards the accomplishment of the same
unlawful object, each doing a part so that their acts, though apparently Petitioners claim that the Sandiganbayan only surmised petitiOner
independent, were in fact connected and cooperative, indicating a Maglinte's involvement based on her advising witness Gadian to source
closeness of personal association and a concurrence of sentiments, then the funds from the CDF of then Congressman Chiongbian.128 To the
a conspiracy may be inferred though no actual meeting among them to contrary, the records amply support the conclusion that petitioner
concert means is proved. Thus, the proof of conspiracy, which is Maglinte conspired in the scheme in ways in addition to the instruction
essentially hatched under cover and out of view of others than those regarding the CDF of then Congressman Chiongbian. Gadian testified that
directly concerned, is perhaps most frequently made by evidence of a Maglinte instructed for additional money to be requested and given to
chain of circumstances only.125 (Citations omitted) other officials, called "suso," to facilitate the approval of the request:

In People v. Romualdez,126 this Court explained:


A Madame Perla told me to add P10,000.00 each for the "suso".
It is alleged in the information that the accused conspired together and
acted in common accord in the commission of the crime. As the Attorney- � �
General says, a conspiracy can seldom be proved except by circumstantial
evidence, but once it is proved, the acts of one of the conspirators are the Q When she said that, what did you reply to her, if any?
acts of all. (U.S. vs. Ipil, 27 Phil., 530.)
� �
"The existence of the assent of minds which IS involved in a conspiracy
may be, from the secrecy of the crime, usually must be, inferred by the A "Okey, I wil[l] tell Ate Beng."
jury from proof of facts and circumstances which, taken together,
apparently indicate that they are merely parts of some complete whole. � �

If it is proved that two or more persons aimed by their acts towards the Q Having given that answer, what did you do afterwards?
accomplishment of the same unlawful object, each doing a part so that
their acts, though apparently independent, were in fact connected and � �
cooperative, indicating a closeness of personal association and a
13
A I went back to Ate Beng and informed her that Mam Perla Purisima said, "anak, magprepare ka ng documents para sa
requested for additional amount of P10,000.00 each for the kasal ni Eugene."
"suso".
� �
� �
Q Who is this "Eugene" that you mentioned?
Q What was the answer of accused Zoleta, if any?
� �
� �
A Eugene, the ex-board member of the province, mam."134
129
A "Make it double so that the processing will be expedited."

Further, Alzate received the P200,000.00 without hesitation:


Gadian's testimony also shows that petitioner Maglinte checked and
reviewed the falsified documents, then accompanied witness Gadian to [W]hile there is no direct evidence to show that accused Alzate
bring the falsified documents to the office of the Vice Governor,130and participated in the preparation and planning of the illegal/fictitious
that after the disbursed check was signed by Cagang,131 it was brought to disbursement, the records, however, showed that when accused Zoleta
Maglinte's office.132 called up and informed accused Alzate of the availability of the money,
the latter immediately proceeded to the vice governor's office and there
Likewise, petitioners claim that the Sandiganbayan only surmised and then, without any hesitation, received the PhP200,000.00 from the
petitioner Alzate's participation because he received most of the illegally late Vice Governor Constantino, in the presence of Gadian, Tangan,
disbursed funds.133 To the contrary, the Sandiganbayan's finding was accused Zoleta and Board Member Purisima. This act of accused Alzate
based on the fact that the illegal disbursement was set into motion receiving his share in the misappropriation, is a clear indication that, true
specifically for Alzate's wedding: to the plan of the late vice governor, he was part of the conspiracy in the
anomalous transaction for the purpose of financing accused Alzate's
forthcoming wedding and hence, the "biggest" beneficiary thereof.135
Q You mentioned you make fictitious documents, could you
inform us why you made those fake letter requests, fake As for Zoleta, the prosecution established that she regularly instructed
proposals and fake disbursement vouchers? Gadian to make fictitious documents136 and that she directed Gadian and
Tangan to falsify the documents.137 She gave instructions throughout the
� � process of obtaining the disbursed cash, such as directing that the
amounts to be given to the other officials or "suso" be doubled for faster
A Because I was called by Tatang Purisima to go inside the room processing of the disbursement.138 She reviewed the falsified documents
where Felipe Constantino, Juanito Purisima including Amelia before they were given to Maglinte.139 She instructed Tangan to
Carmela Zoleta were. When I entered the room, Tatang accompany a dummy payee to receive and encash the disbursed
check.140 Once the cash was obtained, Zoleta received it from Gadian. 141

14
The foregoing is sufficient to establish the participation of petitioners circumspection before signing the same was obtaining in this
Alzate and Maglinte in the conspiracy. case.143 (Citations omitted)

II In Cruz v. Sandiganbayan,144 discrepancy between the names indicated in


the checks and in the disbursement vouchers should have alerted
Where there are circumstances that should have alerted heads of offices petitioner:
to exercise more diligence in the performance of their duties, they cannot
escape liability by claiming that they relied on good faith on the We refer to the unusual fact that the checks issued as payment for
submissions of their subordinates. In such cases, this Court's ruling in Arias construction materials purchased by the municipality were not made
v. Sandiganbayan does not apply. In Rivera v. People,142 this Court held: payable to the supplier, Kelly Lumber, but to petitioner himself even as
the disbursement vouchers attached thereto were in the name of Kelly
Arias v. Sandiganbayan is not applicable in the present case Lumber. The discrepancy between the names indicated in the checks, on
one hand, and those in the disbursement vouchers, on the other, should
Perez invokes the Arias doctrine which states that "[a]ll heads of offices have alerted petitioner �if he were conscientious of his duties as he
have to rely to a reasonable extent on their subordinates and on the good purports to be �that something was definitely amiss. The fact that the
faith of those who prepare bids, purchase supplies, or enter into checks for the municipality's purchases were made payable upon his order
negotiations." He contends that he merely relied on the vouchers and should, without more, have prompted petitioner to examine the same
reports prepared by his subordinates and released the payments in good further together with the supporting documents attached to them, and
faith. not rely heavily on the recommendations of his subordinates. 145

To clarify, the Arias doctrine is not an absolute rule. It is not a magic cloak Here, there were discrepancies in the voucher and the check, which
that can be used as a cover by a public officer to conceal himself in the should have prodded petitioners Escobar, Telesforo, and Cagang to
shadows of his subordinates and necessarily escape liability. Thus, this examine the supporting documents for the fund disbursement. Thus, as
ruling cannot be applied to exculpate the petitioners in view of the properly held by the Sandiganbayan, Arias is not applicable, and
peculiar circumstances in this case which should have prompted them, as petitioners Escobar, Telesforo, and Cagang were properly found guilty of
heads of offices, to exercise a higher degree of circumspection and, malversation through negligence.
necessarily, go beyond what their subordinates had prepared.
III
The case of Cruz v. Sandiganbayan carved out an exception to the Arias
doctrine, stating that: This Court has repeatedly held that the essence of due process is an
opportunity to be heard.146
Unlike in Arias, however, there exists in the present case an exceptional
circumstance which should have prodded petitioner, if he were out to As pointed out by respondent, petitioner Alzate had four (4) years to
protect the interest of the municipality he swore to serve, to be curious prepare to present evidence, yet he only asked for the opportunity to
and go beyond what his subordinates prepared or recommended. In fine, present additional evidence via a motion for reconsideration after the
the added reason contemplated in Arias which would have put petitioner Sandiganbayan had already admitted all the formal offers of evidence of
on his guard and examine the check/s and vouchers with some degree of the accused.147 Thus, the Sandiganbayan properly held:
15
It should be pointed out that inasmuch as accused-movant Alzate invoked
(b) That new and material evidence has been discovered which
the significance of said entry and even testified and marked it as his Exhibit
accused could not with reasonable diligence have discovered
"2-A", the burden of proof is shifted to him to establish the interpretation
and produced at the trial and which if introduced and
thereof that he wants to be appreciated by the Court through the
admitted would probably change its judgment."148
presentation of the said DBP lady teller. Thusly, his failure to present said
DBP lady teller as his witness through the compulsory process
of subpoena, during all the time that he testified for his defense from Petitioners do not refute the foregoing circumstances and fail to establish
September 6, 2010, until March 7, 2011, or for a period of six (6) months, that petitioner Alzate was not afforded ample opportunity to be heard.
militates against his prayer for a new trial just to present and produce Thus, the claim that the Sandiganbayan violated his constitutional right to
evidence relating to the date of subject check's encashment. While the due process has no legal or factual basis and must be rejected.
records show that accused-movant Alzate filed a Motion to Allow Accused
Alzate to Present Additional Witnesses (With Request for Issuance of IV
Subpoena or Motion to Allow Accused Alzate to Enter into Stipulation of
Facts with the Prosecution) dated September 16, 2011, this motion was, The Local Government Code provides that local officials, other than those
however, denied by the Court in its Resolution of October 17, 2011, on the considered accountable officers by reason of their duties, may be held
ground that the motion failed to comply with the requirement under accountable for local government funds:
Sections 4 and 5 of Rule 15 of the Rules of Court on notice and hearing of
motions because the motion was not set for hearing. Section 340. Persons Accountable for Local Government Funds. �Any
officer of the local government unit whose duty permits or requires the
Moreover, the said machine validated entry appearing on the subject possession or custody of local government funds shall be accountable and
check, marked as Exhibit "Q", is not a newly discovered evidence responsible for the safekeeping thereof in conformity with the provisions
considering that said evidence was already presented by the prosecution of this Title. Other local officers who, though not accountable by the
and accused-movant Alzate, at the time he took the witness stand, was nature of their duties, may likewise be similarly held accountable and
already aware of the existence thereof and even marked it as his Exhibit responsible for local government funds through their participation in the
"2-A" and hence, he is not entitled to the remedy of a new trial pursuant use or application thereof.
to the provision of Section 2, Rule 122 of the Rules of [C]ourt which
provides as follows� Thus, local government officials, such as petitioners Escobar and
Telesforo, may become accountable officers by reason of their
"SEC. 2. Grounds for a new trial. - The court shall grant a new trial on any participation in the application of public funds.
of the following grounds:
Petitioners claim that to be accountable officers, they must receive and
acquire custody or control over government funds or property by reason
(a) That errors of law or irregularities prejudicial to the
of their office and they must be required to account for them.149 Thus,
substantive rights of the accused have been committed during
only the Provincial Treasurer is an accountable officer over the funds
the trial;
disbursed under the Local Government Code. However, this argument is
unmeritorious. In Zoleta v. Sandiganbayan,150 this Court applied Section

16
340 of the Local Government Code and held officials whose signatures approved for disbursement. Thus, as in Zoleta, petitioners Escobar and
were necessary for disbursement of funds as accountable officers: Telesforo are accountable officers.

Third, Vice-Governor Constantino and Camanay were accountable public V


officers. Under the Government Auditing Code of the Philippines, an
accountable public officer is a public officer who, by reason of his office, Well aware of the possibility that the testimonies of Gadian and Tangan
is accountable for public funds or property. The Local Government Code would be impugned, the Sandiganbayan took it upon itself to exercise
expanded this definition with regard to local government officials. Section extreme caution in evaluating them. Thus, this Court quotes with
340 of the [Local Government Code] reads: affirmation the finding of the Sandiganbayan:

Section 340. Persons Accountable for Local Government Funds. �Any Of course, cognizant that the versions threshed out by the admissions
officer of the local government unit whose duty permits or requires the made by Gadian and Tangan who were particeps criminis or participants
possession or custody of local government funds shall be accountable and in the commission of the crime charged may be said to emanate from
responsible for the safekeeping thereof in conformity with the provisions polluted sources, the Court, extra-careful and exercising extreme caution
of this title. Other local officials, though not accountable by the nature in assaying their stories, finds no reason to shun or set aside the said
of their duties, may likewise be similarly held accountable and admissions as wholly unbelievable. In fact, their candor in coming forward
responsible for local government funds through their participation in the to own their complicity in the commission of the crime here charged is, in
use or application thereof. (Emphasis ours.) a way, a guarantee of their truthfulness. Thus, in People v. Bayona[,] it was
stated that -
Local government officials become accountable public officers either (1)
because of the nature of their functions; or (2) on account of their "... As a matter of fact, the candid admission of an accused, of his
participation in the use or application of public funds. participation in a crime, is a guaranty that if he will testify in court he will
testify truthfully; so that even if an accused actually participated in the
As a required standard procedure, the signatures of, among others, the offense charged in the information, he may still be made a
Vice-Governor and the Provincial Accountant are needed before any witness.Individuals who are candid enough to admit their guilt are
disbursement of public funds can be made. No checks can be prepared expected to testify truthfully and it is from that circumstance that all the
and no payment can be effected without their signatures on a facts involved shall be expected to be truthfully disclosed by him."
disbursement voucher and the corresponding check. In other words, any
disbursement and release of public funds require their approval. Thus, Moreover, the fact that Gadian and Tangan had participated in the
Constantino and Camanay, in their capacities as Vice-Governor and commission of the crime charged in the information and as such equally
Provincial Accountant, had control and responsibility over the subject guilty thereof, does not disqualify them to testify in the proceeding or to
funds.151 (Citation omitted) render their testimony ineffectual if competent and admissible. Apropos
is the ruling of the Supreme Court in People v. Binsol, et al.-
In this case, as in Zoleta, as part of standard procedure, it was required
that petitioner Telesforo certify that the supporting documents were "The fact that a person has not been previously charged or included in the
complete, and that petitioner Escobar sign them before a check could be information even if he appears to have taken part in the commission of
the crime does not, and cannot, prevent the government prosecutor from
17
utilizing him as a witness if he believes that he is the best witness that can parties in different causes of action,153 and on occasion, has applied this
testify as to the commission of the crime. In the discharge of his duties, a principle in criminal cases.154 However, this Court takes this occasion to
government prosecutor is free to choose the witness or witnesses he reiterate that the concept ofres judicata is a civil law doctrine, not to be
deems more qualified or competent to testify for the prosecution and applied in criminal proceedings, except with respect to civil cases
there is nothing either in the law or in the rules that would require him to impliedly instituted. This is not novel.
first include him in the information and then later secure his discharge
before he could present him as a government witness. The rule therefore In Tecson v. Sandiganbayan,155 the petitioner maintained that considering
relative to the right of the government prosecutor to utilize a person who the rule prohibiting the relitigation of matters resolved by competent
has participated in the commission of a crime as a witness for the judicial authority, the dismissal of an administrative case against him was
prosecution, is as follows: (1) when an offense is committed by more than conclusive and binding upon the parties. This Court rejected this
one person, it is the duty of the fiscal to include all of them in the contention:
complaint or information ... (2) if the fiscal desires to utilize one of those
charged with the offense as a government witness, the fiscal may ask the [R]es judicata is a doctrine of civil law. It thus has no bearing in the criminal
court to discharge one of them after complying with the conditions proceedings before the Sandiganbayan. Second, it is a basic principle of
prescribed by law. . . (3) there is nothing in the rule from which it can be the law on public officers that a public official or employee is under a
inferred that before a person can be presented as a government witness three-fold responsibility for violation of duty or for a wrongful act or
in the information that he be first included as a co-accused in the omission. This simply means that a public officer may be held civilly,
information, for the fiscal is free to produce as a witness anyone whom he criminally, and administratively liable for a wrongful doing. Thus, if such
believes can testify to the truth of the crime charged . . . and (4) the failure violation or wrongful act results in damages to an individual, the public
to follow the requirements of the rule relative to the use of a person, officer may be held civilly liable to reimburse the injured party. If the law
himself a particeps criminis, as a government witness does not violate the violated attaches a penal sanction, the erring officer may be punished
due process clause of the [C]onstitution, nor render his testimony criminally. Finally, such violation may also lead to suspension, removal
ineffectual if otherwise competent and admissible[.]"152 (Emphasis in the from office, or other administrative sanctions. This administrative liability
original, citations omitted) is separate and distinct from the penal and civil liabilities. Thus, the
dismissal of an administrative case does not necessarily bar the filing of a
Petitioners have not presented any cogent reason to reverse the criminal prosecution for the same or similar acts, which were the subject
Sandiganbayan's appreciation of Gadian's and Tangan's testimonies. In of the administrative complaint.156
any case, the issue of the credibility of witnesses Gadian and Tangan are
matters of evidence, not proper for a petition for review on certiorari. In Asistio y Consino v. People,157 the petitioner invoked res judicata as a
bar for her from being prosecuted for violation of Section 46 of Republic
VI Act No. 6938, or the Liability of Directors, Officers and Committee
Members, because she had been previously acquitted in a criminal case
The principle of conclusiveness has no application in criminal cases such for falsification of a private document. This Court held:
as this.
The Court also finds no merit in petitioner's new argument that the
This Court has held that conclusiveness of judgment bars the relitigation prosecution of her case before the RTC for violation of Section 46 of RA
of issues already litigated and settled in litigation between identical 6938 in Criminal Case No. 07-197750 is barred by res judicata because the
18
MeTC of Manila, Branch 22, in a Resolution dated August 13, 2012, the claim that even where the subject matter differs, the erroneous
granted her demurrer to evidence and acquitted her in a criminal case for application of the law is forever binding on those parties. Thus, this
falsification of private document in Criminal Case No. 370119-20-CR. In argument cannot be countenanced.
support of her flawed argument, petitioner points out that the private
complainants [officers and directors of the Cooperative] and the subject WHEREFORE, the Petition for Review on Certiorari is DENIED. The
matter [unreported sales profits of Coca-Cola products] of both cases are Sandiganbayan August 22, 2012 Decision and January 8, 2013 Resolution
the same, and that the case for violation of Section 46 of RA 6938 is in Criminal Case No. 28293 are hereby AFFIRMED.
actually and necessarily included in the case for falsification of private
documents. SO ORDERED.

At the outset, res judicata is a doctrine of civil law and thus has no bearing
on criminal proceedings. At any rate, petitioner's argument is incidentally
related to double jeopardy which embraces a prohibition against being
tried for any offense which necessarily includes or is necessarily included
in the offense charged in the former complaint or
information.158(Emphasis supplied, citations omitted)

Likewise, in Trinidad v. Marcelo,159 this Court reiterated that res


judicata is a civil law doctrine and has no application in criminal
proceedings. In that case, this Court rejected the argument that since the
Ombudsman had twice found there was no sufficient basis to indict
petitioner in earlier, similar cases, res judicata barred the reinvestigation.

It may be argued that these cases are not on all fours with the case at
hand. Nonetheless, except with respect to civil cases impliedly
institu