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A.M. No. RTJ-02-1719 : March 31, 2006 ATTY. JOSE B. TIONGCO, Complainant, v. JUDGE ADRIANO S.

SAVILLO, Regional Trial Court, Branch 30, Iloilo City, Respondent. DECISION CARPIO,J.: The Case This is an administrative complaint filed by Atty. Jose B. Tiongco ("complainant") against Judge Adriano S. Savillo ("respondent judge") of the Regional Trial Court, Branch 30, Iloilo City, for gross incompetence and ignorance of the law. The Facts In a verified complaint
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dated 21 November 2000, complainant alleged the following:

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1. In Criminal Case No. 00-58710 entitled People v. Alias Gamay Cruza Balle, respondent judge, because of "familiarity" with accused's counsel, granted the motion for reduction of bail without notice to complainant, the private prosecutor and husband of the private complainant in the case. Respondent judge also granted the motion without the conformity of Prosecutor Constantino C. Tubilleja, the trial prosecutor assigned to Branch 30. 2. In Criminal Case No. 49222 entitled People v. Pampag, Criminal Case No. 45575 entitled People v. Tuburan, and Criminal Case No. 45060 entitled People v. Hormina, respondent judge rendered erroneous decisions because he erred in the appreciation of the evidence presented before the court. 3. Respondent judge rendered decisions beyond the mandatory 90-day period. In People v. Tuburan, submitted for decision on 16 August 1999, respondent judge promulgated his decision on 19 January 2000 or after a lapse of five months and three days. In People v. Hormina, submitted for decision on 21 June 1999, respondent judge promulgated his decision on 13 January 2000 or after a lapse of six months and twenty-two days. 4. On 29 October 1999, respondent judge invited complainant to his chambers and called complainant a "swindler." Complainant surmised that this was because he "caricatured" respondent judge and the public prosecutor in his motion for reconsideration in People v. Pampag.2
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5. Respondent judge does not wear his black robe during court sessions. 6. Respondent judge intervenes "too thickly" during the cross-examination of witnesses by complainant. 7. Respondent judge uniformly overrules complainant's objections, while uniformly sustaining objections of the public prosecutor. 8. Finally, respondent judge keeps on referring to the stenographer questions on matters that transpire during the court hearings. In his Comment3 dated 23 February 2001, respondent judge controverted the allegations against him as follows:
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1. In People v. Alias Gamay Cruza Balle, respondent judge admitted that he knows accused's counsel but this was not the reason why he granted the motion for reduction of bail. Respondent judge stated that accused's counsel pointed out that the accused, being a minor offender, could be released on recognizance. However, accused's counsel opted to move for a reduction of bail to secure his immediate release. Respondent judge also stated that the motion was submitted with the conformity of Prosecutor Jeremy Bionat, who was duly authorized by City Prosecutor Efrain Baldago to act on petitions for reduction of bail.4
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2. In People v. Pampag, People v. Tuburan, and People v. Hormina, which were all appealed to the Court of Appeals, respondent judge believed that it is up to the Court of Appeals to determine the validity of his analysis and conclusions of the evidence presented in these cases. Respondent judge also pointed out that in People v. Pampag, complainant was "not all together candid and honest with his complaint." Complainant made it appear in the complaint that respondent judge's decision placed the value of the necklace at P15,000, as alleged in the information. According to respondent judge, the decision clearly stated that the value of the necklace was P1,000.5 Complainant also claimed that respondent judge "almost" sent the accused to prison for six years and one day to ten years. Respondent judge considers this as "malicious" because this was not the penalty imposed by the court.6
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3. In People v. Tuburan and People v. Hormina, respondent judge admitted that the decisions in these cases were promulgated beyond the 90-day period. Respondent judge explained that he was already loaded with complicated civil cases when these cases were submitted for decision. He also claimed that his staff did not inform him that these two cases had already been submitted for decision. However, respondent judge accepts full responsibility for the delay and does not blame anyone for his shortcomings. 4. Respondent judge denied that he invited complainant to his chambers and that he called complainant a "swindler." 5. On the charge that he does not wear the black robe during court sessions, respondent judge attributed this to his "thyrotoxicosis" which causes excessive sweating, resulting to an imbalance of electrolytes in the muscles manifested by a sudden loss of muscle function.7 o on this matter. Court Administrator Tiro allegedly advised him that "he does not need to wear the robe if it will be unhealthy for him."Respondent judge, therefore, tries to avoid possible conditions that may subject him to excessive sweating, like wearing the black robe during trial, as it may aggravate his ailment. He also claimed that he consulted with then Court Administrator Meynardo A. Tiro ("Court Administrator Tiro") and Justice Ernani C. Pan8 He also stated that the Court did not send him his black robe even if he sent his measurements. 6. Respondent judge denied that he intervenes during the cross- examination of witnesses by complainant. 7. On the objections that he overruled, respondent judge explained that he overruled them because they did not conform to the Rules of Court. 8. On the allegation that he keeps referring to the stenographer on matters relating to the proceedings during trial, respondent judge pointed out that this is because the stenographer is the one in charge of recording the whole proceedings during trial. Respondent judge concluded that complainant filed the administrative case against him because his rulings were against the interest of complainant, particularly the granting of the motion to reduce bail. Respondent judge also asked the Court that sanctions be imposed on complainant for conduct and language unbecoming of an officer of the court because of the "colorful language" used in the complaint and the way he "manipulates" his arguments.

In a Resolution dated 6 May 2002, the Court ordered the re-docketing of the case as an administrative matter. In a Resolution dated 19 February 2003, the Court required the parties to manifest within 10 days from notice if they were willing to submit the case for resolution based on the records on file. In March 2003, respondent judge filed a Manifestation and Motion for Extension of Time to file additional comments on the complaint. In a Resolution dated 21 April 2003, the Court noted and granted his motion. In a Manifestation dated 8 April 2003, respondent judge submitted a medical certificate issued by Dr. Rolando Jardeleza. The medical certificate stated that in 1986, respondent judge was diagnosed to have "hyperthyroidism (Grave's Disease) with episodes of Hypokalemic paresis due to hyperthyroidism."9 Respondent judge also attached the Decision of the 16th Division of the Court of Appeals in People v. Tuburan, where his decision was affirmed. 10 He also manifested that People v. Hormina and People v. Pampag were still pending before the Court of Appeals. The Court noted the additional documents submitted by respondent judge in a Resolution dated 16 June 2003. In a letter dated 12 January 2004, complainant informed Court Administrator Presbitero J. Velasco, Jr. that he has not received the comment of respondent judge on his complaint. The Court noted the letter in a Resolution dated 10 March 2004. On 10 January 2005, the Court forwarded a copy of respondent judge's comment to complainant, which he received on 31 January 2005. In a Resolution dated 10 August 2005, the Court reiterated its 19 February 2003 Resolution and required both parties to manifest within 10 days from notice if they were willing to submit the case for resolution based on the records on file. In a Compliance dated 5 October 2005, complainant manifested that he was submitting the case for resolution. However, complainant reiterated that respondent judge be "discharged" from the judiciary for concealing his "thyrotoxicosis," which complainant now calls "Black Robe Allergy," from the Court when he applied for judgeship and because "a judge with sick thyroid glands will, inevitably, issue sick orders and judgments." 11
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On 7 October 2005, respondent judge submitted a Manifestation and Motion for Leave to File Additional Affidavits. In a Resolution dated 16 November 2005, the Court noted and granted respondent judge's motion. On 27 October 2005, respondent judge filed another Manifestation and Motion for Leave to File Additional Evidence based on complainant's Compliance. Respondent judge manifested that he will file a complaint for suspension or disbarment against complainant as a counter charge. On 10 November 2005, respondent judge submitted the joint affidavit 12 of Myra Gregorios ("Gregorios"), Court Interpreter, and Jeanne Guardiana ("Guardiana"), Court Stenographer III, to prove that he never invited complainant to his chambers and that he did not call complainant a "swindler." Complainant filed his Comment, dated 24 November 2005, to respondent judge's manifestation and motion. Complainant contends that the joint affidavit of Gregorios and Guardiana was self-serving because members of respondent judge's staff executed it. The Recommendation of the Office of the Court Administrator In its Report 13 dated 28 February 2002, the Office of the Court Administrator (OCA) recommended that respondent judge be held liable for delay in the promulgation of the decision in People v. Tuburan

and People v. Hormina and finedP3,000. The OCA also recommended that respondent judge be directed to wear the judicial robe in his courtroom, otherwise he would be held administratively liable for violation of a lawful order of the Court. The OCA's Report reads:
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With respect to the charge of delay, respondent admits to the delay in rendition of judgment in the subject cases. The Court time and again has pronounced that delay in resolving motions and cases pending before a judge's sala within the reglementary period of ninety (90) days fixed by the Constitution and the law is not excusable and should not be condoned. Respondent [j]udge should therefore be reminded that assumption of judicial office casts upon him duties and restrictions peculiar to his position. He should be faithful to the law and maintain professional competence, dispose of the court's business promptly and decide cases within the required period. (Report on the Judicial Audit and Physical Inventory of the Cases in RTC, Branch 138, Makati City, Administrative Matter No. RTJ-94-4-156, 13 March 1996) In the present case, the respondent [j]udge was fully aware of the courts' condition which adversely affected the disposition of cases in his court. Therefore he could have seasonably requested an extension of time to decide said cases citing the reasons thereto if he could not comply with the mandate. But he failed to do so. On the issue of granting the reduction of bail without the [public] prosecutors' opposition, suffice it to say that the [public] prosecutor could have objected to the reduction upon resumption of [the] hearing on the case. He did not. Respondent [judge] cannot now be faulted for the lapse of the public prosecutor. Administrative Circular No. 25 dated 9 June 1989 requires all judges to wear the black robe during court sessions to heighten public consciousness on the solemnity of judicial proceedings. Although respondent [judge] claims to have sought exemption from the rule from then Court Administrator Tiro, there seems [to be] no reason why he should consider himself excused now. If respondent is still suffering from "thyrotoxicosis" he should submit a medical certificate to buttress his claim considering that he has not been wearing the black robe since 1989. 13 The Court's Ruling On Respondent Judge's Undue Delay in Rendering Judgments The Constitution mandates all lower court judges to decide cases within the reglementary period of 90 days from the time the case is submitted for decision. 15 The Code of Judicial Conduct also directs judges to "dispose of the court's business promptly and decide cases within the required periods." 16 Furthermore, the New Code of Judicial Conduct for the Philippine Judiciary 17 provides that "judges shall perform all judicial duties, including the delivery of reserved decisions, efficiently, fairly and with reasonable promptness." 18
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Respondent judge admits and accepts full responsibility for the delay in rendering the decisions in the cases of People v. Tuburan and People v. Hormina. The Court notes that respondent judge, upon finding himself unable to comply with the 90-day period, could have asked the Court for a reasonable period of extension to dispose of the cases. The Court, mindful of the heavy caseload of judges, generally grants such requests for extension. 19 There was no such request from respondent judge. Judges are enjoined to decide cases with dispatch. Any delay, no matter how short, in the disposition of cases undermines the people's faith and confidence in the judiciary.20 It also deprives the parties of their right to the speedy disposition of their cases.21 Judges' failure to decide cases within the reglementary period constitutes gross inefficiency and warrants the imposition of administrative sanction.22

On Respondent Judge's Erroneous Decisions and Order Administrative liability for ignorance of the law does not necessarily arise from the mere fact that a judge issued an erroneous decision or order.23 To be liable for ignorance of the law, the error must be gross or patent, deliberate and malicious or incurred with evident bad faith.24
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In this case, complainant's allegation of ignorance of the law actually pertains to respondent judge's exercise of his adjudicative functions. Complainant assails as erroneous respondent judge's order granting the motion for reduction of bail and his decision, based on his appreciation of the evidence, in the cases of People v. Pampag, People v. Tuburan and People v. Hormina. However, complainant failed to show that respondent judge's error, if any, was gross, deliberate, malicious or attended by bad faith. Such error cannot be corrected by administrative proceeding but should instead be assailed through judicial remedies, such as a motion for reconsideration, an appeal, or a petition forcertiorari.25 An administrative complaint is not the proper remedy because administrative remedies are "neither alternative nor cumulative to judicial review where such review is available, and must await the results thereof."26 If complainant felt prejudiced by respondent judge's decision or order, his remedy lies with the court for the proper judicial action, not with the OCA by means of an administrative complaint.27
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The Court notes that the Court of Appeals had already sustained respondent judge's ruling in People v. Tuburan. The cases of People v. Hormina and People v. Pampag are still pending before the Court of Appeals. The Court agrees with the OCA that if complainant felt aggrieved by respondent judge's order granting the motion for reduction of bail, then he should have seasonably objected by filing a motion for reconsideration or motion for reinstatement of original bail. On Respondent Judge's Refusal to Wear the Judicial Robe Administrative Circular No. 25 dated 9 June 1989 ("Circular No. 25"), provides:
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Pursuant to Sections 5 and 6, Article [VIII] of the Constitution and in order to heighten public consciousness on the solemnity of judicial proceedings, it is hereby directed that beginning Tuesday, August 1, 1989, all Presiding Judges of all Trial Courts shall wear black robes during sessions of their respective Courts. Respondent judge admitted that he does not wear the black robe, but seeks to excuse his noncompliance because of his illness. The Court cannot accept his plea. In Chan v. Majaducon,28 where respondent judge tried to excuse his non-compliance because of his hypertension, we held that:
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The wearing of robes by judges during official proceedings, which harks back to the 14th century, is not an idle ceremony. Such practice serves the dual purpose of "heighten[ing] public consciousness on the solemnity of judicial proceedings," as Circular No. 25 states, and of impressing upon the judge, the exacting obligations of his office. As well put by an eminent jurist of another jurisdiction:
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[J]udges [are] x x x clothed in robes, not only, that they who witness the administration of justice should be properly advised that the function performed is one different from, and higher, than that which a man discharges as a citizen in the ordinary walks of life; but also, in order to impress the judge himself with the constant consciousness that he is a high priest in the temple of justice and is surrounded with obligations of a sacred character that he cannot escape and that require his utmost care, attention and self-suppression. Consequently, a judge must take care not only to remain true to the high ideals of competence and integrity his robe represents, but also that he wears one in the first place.

Respondent judge's medical condition may exempt him from complying with Circular No. 25, but he must first inform the Court, through the OCA, of his health problem and request exemption from the circular's coverage. The alleged advice of Court Administrator Tiro "not to wear the robe" is not enough. Respondent judge should have secured the Court's written permission for such exemption. Besides, his medical certificate stated that his hyperthyroid problem was already resolved in 1997.29 Therefore, there was no more reason for respondent judge not to wear the black robe when this complaint was filed in November 2000. On the Other Charges Against Respondent Judge The Court finds insufficient evidence to hold respondent judge liable for allegedly calling complainant a "swindler." Complainant also failed to convince the Court that respondent judge should be held liable for intervening during complainant's cross-examination of witnesses and for overruling complainant's objections. The 2002 Revised Manual for Clerks of Court lists as one of the functions and duties of a court stenographer the taking of stenographic notes on all matters that transpire during court hearings.30 Therefore, there was nothing wrong with respondent judge referring to the stenographer matters questioned by complainant during the hearing for clarification. On the Appropriate Penalty to be Imposed Against Respondent Judge Section 9 of Rule 140,31 as amended by A.M. No. 01-8-10-SC,32 classifies undue delay in rendering a decision and violation of Supreme Court circulars as a less serious charge for which the penalty is suspension from office without salary and other benefits for one month to three months, or a fine of P10,000 to P20,000.33 On Complainant's Use of Intemperate Language Before the Court The Court is alarmed by complainant's unrestrained use of unsavory, even defamatory and offensive language against respondent judge in his pleadings before the Court. For example, in his Comment, complainant called respondent judge "an honest to goodness Bar-Flunker!" and that "His Honor projects that unmistakable aura of the quintessential Bar-Flunker x x x [who] tries and decides cases like a true Bar-Flunker."34 Complainant stated that respondent judge, because of his "thyrotoxicosis", was "incapable of exercising their [sic] judicial functions"35 and that his illness has "hardened His Honor's heart and renders His Honor callous and insensitive to all feelings of pity and compassion for those that find themselves under His Honor's power."36 Complainant also stated that he believes in "the Devil that is nearby - in fact, for all appearances it is the Devil's Day, x x x - Don't believe me? just attend trial of a criminal case at Branch 30 presided by [r]espondent [j]udge, the Honorable Adriano S. Savillo, and the only thing that you will not see are the flames of Hell if not Lucifer with his popping eyes [h]imself."37 Complainant also called respondent judge "a malicious person,"38 "a powerdrunken upstart,"39 "stupidity of stupidities,"40 "a judicial guinea pig,"41 a "circus clown,"42 and a "Judicial Frankenstein."43 Even the judiciary was not spared, complainant referred to the judiciary as "nothing if not the hot-bed of the [n]ew [m]egalomaniacs" and that "[d]emocracy is a dead animal inside the Philippine courtroom."44
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However, complainant admitted that he only concluded that respondent judge is a Bar-Flunker, "not because petitioner (complainant) has taken the pains to dig into the records of the Judicial and Bar counsel [sic] to gain such information," but only because of respondent judge's "deportment, swaggering style of manner and speech."45
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Complainant's use of intemperate and unfair criticism is a gross violation of the duty of respect a lawyer owes to the courts. Complainant violated Canon 11 of the Code of Professional Responsibility, which provides that "a lawyer shall observe and maintain the respect due to the courts and to judicial officers" and, more specifically, Rule 11.03, which mandates that "a lawyer shall abstain from scandalous, offensive or menacing language or behavior before the Courts." It is true that lawyers can criticize the courts - it is their right as citizens and their duty as officers of the court to avail of such right.46 But, as held in In Re: Almacen, "it is [a] cardinal condition of all such criticism that it shall be bona fide, and shall not spill over the walls of decency and propriety."47 By his unjust denigration of respondent judge, complainant exceeded the bounds of decency and propriety. By showing disrespect to and contempt for respondent judge, complainant diminished public confidence in respondent judge and, eventually, in the judiciary.48
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The Court notes that in Tiongco v. Aguilar, where complainant was found guilty of violating Canon 11 and finedP5,000, the Court concluded:
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That Atty. Tiongco had exceeded the bounds of decency and propriety in making x x x the scurrilous characterizations of the respondent judge is, indeed, all too obvious. Such could only come from anger, if not hate, after he was not given what he wanted. Anger or hate could only come from one who "seems to be of that frame of mind whereby he considers as in accordance with law and justice whatever he believes to be right in his own opinion and as contrary to law and justice whatever does not accord with his views" (Montecillo vs. Gica, 60 SCRA 234, 238 [1974]).49
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Complainant was also warned that the commission of the same or similar acts in the future would be dealt with more severely. In Yared v. Ilarde,50 complainant was again warned because of the "improper and unethical language" he employed in the pleadings and motions he filed before the court. WHEREFORE, we FIND respondent Judge Adriano S. Savillo of the Regional Trial Court, Branch 30, Iloilo City, GUILTYof (1) undue delay in rendering the decisions in People v. Tubaran and People v. Hormina, and (2) violating Administrative Circular No. 25, for which offenses we FINE him P15,000. We also DIRECT him to wear the black robe during court sessions, or, otherwise, to file a formal request for exemption from the coverage of Administrative Circular No. 25. On the other hand, we ORDER Atty. Jose B. Tiongco to show cause, within 10 days from receipt of this decision, why he should not be held administratively liable for violating Canon 11 and Rule 11.03 of the Code of Professional Responsibility. SO ORDERED. ANTONIO T. CARPIO Associate Justice WE CONCUR: LEONARDO A. QUISUMBING Associate Justice Chairperson

CONCHITA CARPIO MORALES Associate Justice

DANTE O. TINGA

Republic of the Philippines SUPREME COURT Manila SECOND DIVISION

A.M. No. RTJ-93-1082 July 25, 1994 SERAFIN B. CASTILLO, Complainant, vs. JUDGE LIBERATO C. CORTES, Respondent. RESOLUTION

PADILLA, J.:

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Before the Court is a complaint dated 15 September 1993 filed by complainant Serafin B. Castillo against respondent Judge Liberato C. Cortes of the Regional Trial Court, Branch 8, Batangas City, for failure to render decision within the required period of ninety (90) days 1in Criminal Case No. 3246 entitled "People of the Philippines vs. Serafin Castillo."

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The present complaint stemmed from a criminal case for illegal possession of firearms filed against herein complainant with the Regional Trial Court, Branch 8, Batangas City presided over by respondent Judge Cortes. After trial on the merits, the case was submitted for decision on 29 January 1991. 2The decision, however, was rendered only on 16 August 1993, or two (2) years and seven (7) months after the case had been submitted for decision. Complainant now comes before this Court to seek redress alleging that the delay in the promulgation of the decision by respondent judge caused him unnecessary stress and prevented him from immediately filing his appeal therefrom.
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In response, respondent judge in his Comment admits that there was indeed a delay in rendering his decision. He reasons out, however, that such delay was not attributable to him but mainly to the court stenographer, Mrs. Catalina Mindanao, who failed to transcribe and submit stenographic notes relative to the case. Respondent Judge avers that Mrs. Mindanao was granted early retirement because of an arthritic right elbow, subject to her commitment to complete all her stenographic backlog with priority to cases involving detention prisoners; that in view of Mrs. Mindanao's unsatisfactory compliance with her said commitment, a series of orders were issued directing her to submit her transcripts within a specified period, with respondent judge coming close to ordering her arrest and confinement in the Batangas City Jail if only to expedite the transcription of her notes, but consideration for her sex and the hard conditions prevailing in the city jail stayed the preparation of the order; that early last year, respondent judge came up with a plan (made known to Mrs. Mindanao) whereby the Branch Clerk of Court was instructed to coordinate with the PNP Station Commander in Lipa City to fetch Mrs. Mindanao and confine her everyday in the PNP Station where she would be made to transcribe her stenographic notes under the supervision of the Station Commander; that the mere mention of the plan had a persuasive effect on Mrs. Mindanao, who then reported regularly to the court thereafter to submit or type her transcripts.
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In addition, respondent judge ascribes as another cause for the delay the legal research that had to be done, most of the pertinent research materials being available only in Metro Manila. He further alleges that in view of the critical issue involved in the case (i.e. the validity of "mission orders" for civilians), he had to research in numerous places such as the Legal Service Office of the Department of National Defense, the Constabulary Judge

Advocate's Office, the Firearms and Explosives Unit in Camp Crame, Quezon City, and the Court of Appeals Library.
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Parenthetically, respondent judge claims that complainant, for his part, likewise contributed to the delay by repeatedly postponing his arraignment by invoking the pendency of his petition for review before the Department of Justice.
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Lastly, respondent judge emphasizes that the delay in the disposition of the case was neither intentional nor due to malice or ill-will, but rather brought about by the circumstances as above narrated.
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We find merit in the complaint and find respondent judge guilty of delay in the promulgation of the decision. We are convinced that his failure to render the decision in the above-captioned case, far beyond the prescribed period of ninety (90) days from its submission for decision, constitutes serious misconduct to the detriment of the honor and integrity of his office and in derogation of a speedy administration of justice.
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Rule 3.01 and Rule 3.05 of Canon 3 of the Code of Judicial Conduct provide: Rule 3.01. A judged shall be faithful to the law and maintain professional competence.
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Rule 3.05. A judge shall dispose of the court's business promptly and decide cases within the required periods. A judge is mandated to render a decision not more than ninety (90) days from the time a case is submitted for decision. In the present case, we note that the court stenographer, Mrs. Mindanao, was remiss in the performance of her duties. This notwithstanding, it still remained incumbent upon respondent judge to have devised an efficient recording and filing system in his court so that no disorderliness could affect the flow of cases and their speedy disposition, particularly those submitted for decision. A judge cannot take refuge behind the inefficiency of, or mismanagement by court personnel. Proper and efficient court management is as much his responsibility. He is directly responsible for the proper discharge of his official functions. "Court personnel are not the guardians of a Judge's responsibilities." (Secretary of Justice vs. Legaspi, A.C. No. 269-J, September 10, 1981, 107 SCRA 233). 3Respondent was bound to take notes of proceedings before him and not rely on stenographic notes. 4
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Accordingly, this Court will not tolerate the serious misconduct of respondent judge nor will it absolve him on account of the excuses he has advanced. In accepting his office, he took in the responsibilities that necessarily attack to such exalted position. He is mandated to abide by the rules without condition and must, at all times, exercise extreme caution so as not to commit an injustice to those who seek refuge under the very law he has sworn to uphold. Members of the judiciary should display not only the highest integrity but must at all times conduct themselves in such manner as to be beyond reproach and suspicion. (Quiz vs. Cantano, 107 SCRA 196;Montemayor vs. Collado, 107 SCRA 258) The Court had likewise stressed in De la Paz vs. Inutan (64 SCRA 540) that "the judge is the visible representation of the law and, more importantly of justice. From him, the people draw their will and awareness to obey the law. They see in him an intermediary of justice between two conflicting interests, . . . . Thus, for the judge to return that regard, he must be the first to abide by the law and weave an example for the others to follow. He should be studiously careful to avoid even the slightest infraction of the law." (See also Fonacier-Abano v. Ancheta, 107 SCRA 538). 5
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WHEREFORE, in view of respondent judge's gross neglect of duty in having failed to promulgate the decision in Criminal Case No. 3246 within the prescribed period of ninety (90) days from its submission for decision, respondent Judge Liberato C. Cortes is hereby ORDERED to pay a fine of FIVE THOUSAND PESOS (P5,000.00) with a stern warning that a repetition of the same or any similar act shall be more severely dealt with by the Court.
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Let a copy of this Resolution be entered in respondent judge's records. SO ORDERED. Narvasa, C.J., Regalado, Puno and Mendoza, JJ., concur.

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A.M. No. P-06-2109 November 27, 2006 LIGAYA V. REYES, Complainant, vs. MARIO PABLICO, Process Server, Regional Trial Court, Manila, Branch 40, Respondent. DECISION CARPIO, J.: The Facts This administrative case stemmed from a Complaint and a Supplemental Complaint dated 16 October 2001 and 10 December 2001, respectively, filed by Ligaya V. Reyes ("complainant"), Officer-inCharge, Regional Trial Court (RTC) of Manila, Branch 40 ("trial court"), against Mario Pablico ("respondent"), trial court Process Server. Complainant charged respondent with neglect of duty, inefficiency, incompetence, willful violation of office regulation, and acts prejudicial to the best interest of the service. Complainant alleged that:
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1. Respondent failed to submit returns or to attach proof of service of notices and subpoenas issued by the trial court.1 In some criminal cases, respondent simply failed to serve subpoenas, causing the resetting of hearings and other court proceedings. 2
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2. Respondent sent a notice of order dated 6 October 2000 to the Public Attorneys Office only on 27 July 2001 (PAO) and to the public prosecutor only on 1 August 2001. 3
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3. In Criminal Case No. 00-182699, the presiding judge ordered respondent to serve personally a subpoena to the private complainant. However, it was Wilfredo Giron ("Giron"), a trial court staff member, who served the subpoena. 4Giron often prepared "mail matters" pertaining to civil cases in the trial court. 4. Some notices 5 were served upon the public prosecutor and the PAO not by respondent but by Jojie Malapajo ("Malapajo"), another trial court staff member. 5. The presiding judge ordered respondent to serve personally certain subpoenas, yet respondent served them through registered mail 6 or coursed them through the Manila Sheriff's Office ("Sheriff's Office"). 7
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6. Respondent failed to serve a notice of order provisionally dismissing Criminal Case Nos. 87-54763 and 87-54764, to the public prosecutor and the PAO. For lack of service to the public prosecutor and proper parties, the trial court denied on 16 August 2000 accused's motions for absolute dismissal. 8
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7. On 17 October 2000, complainant issued a memorandum to respondent regarding his failure to submit returns on court processes, thus:
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MEMORANDUM TO: Mario Pablico of Branch 40 RTC Manila SUBJECT: Non Submission of Return For your information, guidance and compliance. You were forewarned before regarding this subject. And several orders of the court reflected your nonperformance of duty. Starting date of this memo your inaction shall be reflected on the performance rating and the Court Administrator will be furnished a copy of the same. Manila, October 17, 2000. LIGAYA V. REYES Officer-In-Charge xxxx
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8. On 18 July 2001, complainant sent respondent a letter reminding him of his duties as process server and directing his strict compliance. 10
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9. Despite complainant's admonitions, respondent failed to serve a subpoena issued on 31 August 2001 which directed the appearance of the accused before the trial court on 4 December 2001. Instead, a certain "E. Hernandez" served the subpoena on 9 December 2001. 11
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10. Respondent also failed to serve an order requiring a detention prisoner's appearance for promulgation of judgment. This time, it was trial court Presiding Judge Placido C. Marquez ("Judge Marquez") who admonished respondent in open court, thus: xxx ORDER The process server of this Court is directed to explain in writing within 24 hours from receipt hereof why this produce order to Dennis Samson y Pontaneles, dated October 26, 2001, has not been served to the person of Dennis Samson, such that the promulgation of the decision could not be held. Let the promulgation of the decision be reset to November 27, 2001 x x x x
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11. In a memorandum dated 26 November 2001, Branch Clerk of Court Gilbert Berjamin ("Atty. Berjamin") called respondent's attention to his neglect of duty and his absences. MEMORANDUM TO: MARIO PABLICO

RE: NEGLECT OF DUTY AND ABSENCES xxx Lately, in Criminal Case No. 00-187290, a warrant of arrest against the accused and orders of forfeiture of bail against the bondsmen were issued on October 17, 2001. However, the record does not show whether said orders were served or not. Anent the warrant of arrest, the same was served on October 25, 2001 but the received copy/return was found on top of your table and was not attached to the record. Secondly, in Criminal Case No. 01-192294, entitled "People of the Philippines versus Dennis Samson y Pontaneles," the accused was not around for the promulgation of the decision on the said case. Upon inquiry of Ligaya V. Reyes, the produce order was released on October 26, 2001. However, the same was not served. Furthermore, the said order was lying idly on top of your table. As a consequence of which the undersigned ha[d] to order the Sheriff of this court to personally serve the produce order in Criminal Case No. 01-192294 and the Clerk III to personally serve the two (2) orders of forfeiture of bail in Criminal Case No. 01-187290. In Criminal Case No. 01-191083, an order dated November 5, 2001 was issued requiring you to explain within twenty four (24) hours why the subpoena dated October 17, 2001 was mailed only on October 23, 2001. Another order, dated November 12, 2001 was issued in Criminal Case No. 01192294 requiring you to explain in writing why the produce order has not been served. x x x x 13
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In his Comment dated 30 January 2002, respondent denied the charges against him. Respondent appended his performance rating form for the period 1 January to 30 June 2001, where he received an "outstanding" rating from complainant. 14 Respondent presented records from the trial court to prove that he served the notice of order dated 16 April 2001 for Criminal Case No. 99-175986 on time and that he submitted a return. 15 For those court processes he allegedly served through registered mail or coursed through the Sheriff's Office, against the directive of the presiding judge, respondent asserted that he never actually received a copy of these documents. 16 Respondent claimed that either the clerk in charge of criminal cases or complainant herself had mailed the documents or sent them to the Sheriff's Office. Respondent admitted that Giron served a subpoena in Valenzuela, but it was upon the request of then trial court Presiding Judge Herminia Pasamba ("Judge Pasamba"), who knew of Giron's familiarity with the area. Respondent also admitted the belated service of the notice of order dated 6 October 2000, but argued that he received a copy of the order only on 27 July 2001, as evidenced by his signed receipt on the dorsal portion of the notice. In his comment to the Supplemental Complaint, respondent disclosed an agreement with Malapajo, trial court clerk in charge of criminal cases, that the latter would personally serve court processes to the public prosecutor and the PAO, whose offices were very near the trial court. To ascertain the authenticity of the documentary evidence submitted by the parties and the veracity of their conflicting statements, the Court referred the complaint to Executive Judge Antonio M. Eugenio, Jr. ("Judge Eugenio") of the RTC of Manila for investigation, report and recommendation. 17 Findings of the Investigating Judge In his Report and Recommendation 18 dated 21 July 2005, Judge Eugenio accepted respondent's explanation that Judge Pasamba instructed Giron to serve a notice in Valenzuela. Judge Eugenio found that contrary to the allegation of complainant, respondent served notices in Criminal Case Nos. 99175986 and 99-175987 not through registered mail but through personal service. The records indicate that the trial court provisionally dismissed the cases as shown by respondent's return stating that the addressee had transferred residences. Judge Eugenio favorably noted the affidavit executed by Jerlyn Balbas ("Balbas"), a trial court staff member, declaring that on 22 May 2001 complainant instructed her to deliver notices to the Sheriff's

Office. Judge Eugenio found this affidavit supportive of respondent's claim that he never received some of the notices to be served, as complainant gave them directly to Balbas or to other clerks. Giron also executed an affidavit stating that whenever respondent was out serving court processes, he, as clerk in charge of civil cases, would receive "mail matters and pleadings from the litigants." In conclusion, Judge Eugenio found that respondent had "a tendency to neglect his work, to the prejudice of the public he is duty bound to serve." Judge Eugenio recommended that the Court find respondent guilty of simple neglect of duty and reprimand him, with a strong warning that a repetition of similar acts would merit a more severe penalty. On 31 August 2005, we resolved to refer the case to the Office of the Court Administrator (OCA) for evaluation, report and recommendation. Findings of the Court Administrator In its memorandum dated 22 November 2005, the OCA recommended the redocketing of the case as a regular administrative matter. The OCA agreed with the findings of Judge Eugenio, upon making the following evaluation: xxx It is undeniable that the respondent was remiss in the performance of his duties. This is shown by the fact that he was unable to serve mail matters to the addressees, and in order to cover-up his lapses, for several occasions his undertakings were performed by his co-employee [Giron]. This is aside from the fact that respondent actually repeated his laziness when he transferred to the [Sheriff's Office] the burden of serving [court] processes to party litigants. Such being the case, the respondent should be disciplined accordingly. Time and again, the Court had consistently ruled that process servers are required by law to perform their duties with utmost care and diligence as they serve as sentinels of justice. Any act of impropriety on their part immeasurably affects the honor and dignity of the Judiciary and the people's confidence in it. x x x x x x x A heavy workload cannot serve as an excuse for inefficiency. x x x Considering, however, that complainant did not adduce evidence to controvert the fact that prior to the filing of this administrative complaint, she gave the respondent an outstanding rating in the latter's performance in [the] office, thus, it is our position that the same should be treated as a mitigating circumstance x x x. 19
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On 1 February 2006 or during the pendency of this case, the Office of the Chief Justice received a letter from Judge Marquez requesting for the early resolution of this case as well as of two later administrative complaints filed against respondent. Judge Marquez expressed his continued dissatisfaction with respondent's performance, alleging that on 23 December 2005, respondent wrote in the trial court logbook that he would serve a court process in Criminal Case No. 84-31184. However, the records show that no court process for this case was served on that date. Respondent also failed to paste the registry receipt of mailing to a notice of order issued in Civil Case No. 04109523, for which Judge Marquez again admonished him in open court. The Court's Ruling The findings and recommendation of the OCA are well-taken, except for the recommended penalty. At the outset, we state that we cannot take cognizance of the additional evidence furnished by Judge Marquez through his letter dated 1 February 2006, respondent not having been given a copy of such letter and afforded the opportunity to answer the charges.

Nonetheless, we find this complaint well-supported by other records from the trial court and by the various memoranda addressed to respondent citing instances of his neglect. In his defense, respondent provided piecemeal explanations which did not completely refute the evidence against him. Specifically, respondent did not explain: (1) the absence of attached registry return cards 20 or proof of service 21 on several case records; (2) his failure to serve the orders in Criminal Case Nos. 01-192294 and 00-183413; and (3) his failure to serve subpoenas to parties in Criminal Case Nos. 98165949 and 97-158537. 22 That respondent received an outstanding performance rating for the first semester of 2001 cannot overthrow this positive evidence which remain uncontroverted. On many occasions, complainant and Atty. Berjamin had warned respondent regarding his neglect of duty but their efforts proved futile. Even admonitions from Judge Marquez in open court did not effectively rouse respondent to be more mindful of the tasks expected of him, thus necessitating the filing of this administrative complaint. According to the Manual for Clerks of Court, the process server x x x serves court processes such as subpoena, subpoena duces tecum, summons, court order and notices; prepares and submits returns of service of court process; monitors messages and/or delivers court mail matters received and dispatched by him; and performs such other duties as may be assigned to him. 23
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The role of the process server is indispensable in the machinery of the justice system, where the constitutional mandate of the speedy disposition of cases entails an efficient means of communication between the courts and the litigants. Due to respondent's failure to observe his duties diligently, the trial court encountered problems in the service of its court processes, the most obvious consequence of which is the delay in the progress of cases. Complainant's evidence adequately established that proceedings in several cases heard before the trial court, such as hearings for the taking of witnesses' testimony and for promulgation of judgment, were postponed because the parties did not appear for lack of notice. Respondent needs reminding that the conduct of every employee of the judiciary is circumscribed with the heavy burden of responsibility. 24 The public expect judicial personnel to be living examples of uprightness in the performance of official duties, and to preserve at all times the good name and standing of the courts in the community.25 Here, respondent failed to live up to the high standards of dedication and efficiency that the public expect from occupants of his office. 26
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We agree with the finding of the OCA that respondent is guilty of simple neglect of duty, which is the failure of an employee to give proper attention to a required task. Simple neglect of duty signifies "disregard of a duty resulting from carelessness or indifference."27 The Court cannot countenance neglect of duty, for even simple neglect of duty lessens the people's confidence in the judiciary, and, ultimately, in the administration of justice. However, the recommended penalty of reprimand does not correspond to the range of penalties under Section 52, Rule IV of the Uniform Rules on Administrative Cases in the Civil Service. Simple neglect of duty, if committed for the first time, is punishable by suspension of one month and one day to six months.28 WHEREFORE, we find Mario Pablico, Process Server, Regional Trial Court of Manila, Branch 40, GUILTY of simple neglect of duty and accordingly SUSPEND him for three months. We STERNLY WARN respondent that a repetition of the same or similar acts in the future shall merit a stiffer penalty. SO ORDERED. ANTONIO T. CARPIO Associate Justice WE CONCUR:

LEONARDO A. QUISUMBING Associate Justice Chairperson CONCHITA CARPIO MORALES, DANTE O. TINGA Associate Justice Associate Justice PRESBITERO J. VELASCO, JR. Associate Justice G.R. No. 182555 : September 7, 2010 LENIDO LUMANOG and AUGUSTO SANTOS, Petitioners, vs. PEOPLE OF THE PHILIPPINES, Respondent.

G.R. No. 185123 CESAR FORTUNA, Petitioner, vs. PEOPLE OF THE PHILIPPINES, Respondent.

G.R. No. 187745 PEOPLE OF THE PHILIPPINES, Plaintiff-Appellee, vs. SPO2 CESAR FORTUNA y ABUDO, RAMESES DE JESUS y CALMA, LENIDO LUMANOG y LUISTRO, JOEL DE JESUS y VALDEZ and AUGUSTO SANTOS y GALANG, Accused, RAMESES DE JESUS y CALMA and JOEL DE JESUS y VALDEZ, Accused-Appellants. DECISION VILLARAMA, JR., J.: DISSENTING OPINION, CARPIO, J.: DISSENTING OPINION, ABAD, J.: CONCURRING OPINION, BERSAMIN, J.: For review is the Decision1 dated April 1, 2008 of the Court of Appeals (CA) in CA-G.R. CR-HC No. 00667 which affirmed with modification the Joint Decision2 dated July 30, 1999 of the Regional Trial Court of Quezon City, Branch 103 in Criminal Case Nos. Q-96-66679, Q-96-66680, Q-96-66682, Q96-66683 and Q-96-66684.
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The consolidated cases arose in connection with the killing of former Chief of the Metropolitan Command Intelligence and Security Group of the Philippine Constabulary, now the Philippine National Police (PNP), Colonel Rolando N. Abadilla ("Abadilla"), who was ambushed in broad daylight while driving his car along Katipunan Avenue, Quezon City. The Facts On June 13, 1996, at around 8:00 o'clock in the morning, Abadilla left his house at Soliven I, Loyola Grand Villas, Loyola Heights, Quezon City and drove his car, a black Honda Accord with Plate No. RNA777. Soon after he left, his wife Susan Abadilla received a phone call from him and they briefly talked.

Just a few minutes after their conversation, she received another phone call from Abadilla's tailor who was asking about her husband because, according to him, he heard a radio broadcast report that Abadilla met an accident.3
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Meanwhile, at about 8:40 a.m., Senior Police Officer (SPO) 2 Arthur Ortiz, the desk officer on duty at Station 8 of the Central Police District Command (CPDC) located at P. Tuazon Blvd., Project 4, Quezon City, answered a telephone call from a male person who reported a shooting incident along Katipunan Avenue. Station Commander Police Chief Inspector (Insp.) Edward Villena, together with his investigators SPO2 Wahab Magundacan, Police Officer (PO) 2 Gerardo Daganta and PO1 Ronald Francisco immediately boarded a PNP marked vehicle and headed towards Katipunan Avenue.4
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Upon reaching the area at 8:45 a.m., they saw several onlookers around and near a black Honda Accord with Plate No. RNA-777 on a stop position in the middle lane of Katipunan Avenue facing south going to Libis. They found the victim's bloodied and bullet-riddled body partly slumped onto the pavement at the car's left door, which was open. The front windshield and sliding glass windows on the left and right side were shattered; a hole was seen on the glass window of the left rear door, apparently pierced by a bullet. Glass splinters were scattered inside the car and on the pavement at both sides of the car. On orders of Chief Insp. Villena, PO2 Daganta and PO1 Francisco assisted by a certain Cesar Espiritu, immediately brought the victim to the Quirino Memorial Hospital in Project 4, Quezon City. SPO2 Magundacan was instructed to stay behind to cordon the area for the start of the investigation while Chief Insp. Villena went to their station to get his camera.5 After ten (10) minutes, Chief Insp. Villena returned and took pictures of the crime scene, and also of the victim at the hospital.6 SPO2 Magundacan was able to pick up several spent shells and two (2) slugs, apparently fired from .45 and 9 mm. pistols.7 A sketch was prepared by PO2 Daganta who also interviewed some of the witnesses present at the crime scene.8 The spot report and list of recovered items (including a Philippine Military Academy gold ring on which was engraved the name "Rolando N. Abadilla") were later prepared by SPO2 Magundacan at the police station.9
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On the same day, witnesses Cesar F. Espiritu (who was driving his car ahead of the victim), Aurora Urbano (Metro Aide), Ani C. Icot (house gardener of the Abadilla family, Freddie Alejo (security guard posted at Eliscon Electrical Supply store located at 211 Katipunan Avenue) and Minella Alarcon (college professor at Ateneo de Manila University) gave their respective statements before the Criminal Investigation Division of the Central Police District Command (CID-CPDC), PNP-National Capital Region (NCR) at Camp Karingal, Sikatuna Village, Quezon City, while the statement of Merlito Herbas (security guard posted at the Blue Ridge Realty Corporation located at No. 219 Katipunan Avenue, Quezon City) was taken at Station No. 8, CPDC at P. Tuazon Blvd., Proj. 4, Quezon City.10
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Based on their accounts, the black Honda Accord with Plate Number RNA-777 was caught in traffic while traversing Katipunan Avenue going to Santolan at past 8:00 o'clock on the morning of June 13, 1996. While on a stop position, four (4) men armed with handguns surrounded the said car and fired several successive shots at the man inside it. One (1) of the men who were positioned at the left side of the car opened its door and took something inside. He grabbed the victim by the neck and dropped his body down towards the pavement at the left door. When there were already several people who had come out to see what was happening, one of the suspects shouted, "Walang gagalaw.Dapa!" Minella Alarcon, who was then with her son-in-law on board her white KIA Pride, was following the victim's car (at other side or diagonal line) at the time of the incident. After the shooting, two (2) of the armed men who fired at the victim's car approached their car and pounded at it saying "Baba.Baba!" Terrified, she and her son-in-law got off and crawled towards the side of the street. The assailants then boarded the KIA Pride and went away to the direction of an alley along Katipunan Avenue. Her car was later recovered, as it was found abandoned along Aguinaldo Street near the corner of J.P. Rizal Street, Project 4, Quezon City, still with bloodstains on the car door. 11
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The victim was pronounced dead on arrival at the hospital. The victim's identity was confirmed by Susan Abadilla who had rushed to the hospital. Chief Insp. Villena escorted her in bringing the victim's body to the PNP Crime Laboratory in Camp Crame for the autopsy requested by the CPDC, PNP-NCR, Camp Karingal.12 From the testimony and medico-legal report of Dr. Jesusa N. Vergara, it was
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disclosed that the victim died of hemorrhage as a result of multiple gunshot wounds, mostly in the head and chest, and also sustained abrasions, contusions, lacerated skin, hematoma and incised wounds or cuts in the skin caused by glass splinters.13
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Records indicate that immediately after the incident, elements of the CPDC, PNP-NCR at Camp Karingal were already coordinating with investigators of Station 8-CPDC who had turned over to said office the evidence gathered and referred the witnesses present at the crime scene.14 As a result of follow-up operations, Joel de Jesus, alias "Tabong," was apprehended on June 19, 1996 at his house at Dahlia St., Fairview, Quezon City. He executed his Sinumpaang Salaysay dated June 20, 1996 and Karagdagang Sinumpaang Salaysay dated June 21, 1996.15
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In his first statement, Joel de Jesus narrated that on June 13, 1996 at 6:30 in the morning after parking his tricycle at the corner of Regalado and Camaro Streets, Fairview, he was fetched by Lorenzo "Larry" delos Santos who was his neighbor at Ruby St. Larry was accompanied by his nephew Ogie, and a certain "Tisoy" who drove the owner-type jeep. Larry told him they were going to kill a big-time personality ("may titirahin na malaking tao"), whose name was Abadilla, and that they were going to ambush the latter at Katipunan Avenue. The ambush would be carried out by Joel, Larry, Tisoy, Ram (de Jesus), Cesar who was a policeman, and four (4) others. That same morning, they proceeded to Katipunan Avenue on board Larry's owner-type jeep without a plate and a Mitsubishi L300 van. They carried .45 and 9 mm. pistols; Joel used a .38 caliber revolver. According to Joel, he only acted as lookout; Lorenzo, Ram and Cesar were the ones who fired shots, while Tisoy focused on a security guard at a store. After the shooting, they separated ways: the owner-type jeep he was riding in headed towards Santolan; Cesar's group split so that three (3) of them rode the L-300 van and the three (3) others boarded a car stolen from a woman driver. Upon reaching Commonwealth Avenue and Tandang Sora, they stopped at Glori Supermarket where all the firearms used were returned to the group, including the revolver earlier given to Joel. It was already dusk when Lorenzo dropped him off at the tricycle parking area at Camaro St.16
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Joel further stated that the ambush-slay of Abadilla was planned by the group three (3) days before, when they met at the house of Ram de Jesus also in Fairview near his house. Although he did not know the identity of the person who masterminded the ambush-slay of Abadilla, he described the mastermind as the one (1) who opened Abadilla's car and pulled Abadilla from the inside of the car, and he was also the one (1) who drove the L-300 van. Lorenzo told him he should not worry because Lorenzo would take care that he would be compensated for his participation. When they reached Katipunan Avenue, they alighted from their respective vehicles to wait for Abadilla. The L-300 van where the mastermind and Cesar rode was just behind Abadilla's car. There was no more order given to fire because when traffic stopped the vehicles on the road, those in the L-300 van just got down, positioned themselves and fired upon Abadilla. The mastermind not only fired at Abadilla from outside the latter's car, he even made sure Abadilla was dead, as half of his body went inside the car, firing again at Abadilla before finally dropping him to the ground. Joel added that he just remained silent after the incident, for which he did not earn anything and was threatened by one (1) of those who were in the L-300 van whose name he did not know.17
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In his second statement, Joel pointed to his cohorts in a police line-up inside the CID-CPDC, PNP-NCR, Camp Karingal, Quezon City where he positively identified Rameses de Jesus ("Ram"), Cesar Fortuna, Lenido Lumanog and PO2 Romeo Costibolo as among those who participated in the ambush-slaying of Abadilla on June 13, 1996.18
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The afore-named suspects identified by Joel were apprehended during further follow-up operations conducted on June 20, 1996 by "Task Force Rolly" subsequently formed by the PNP after the lead initially provided by him. As mentioned in the Joint Affidavit executed by Police Senior Inspector (P/Sr. Insp.) Ronello N. Navarro, Police Inspector (P/Insp.) Ferdinand A. Marticio, SPO4 Wilfredo G. Galvan and SPO1 Allan dela Cruz dated June 21, 1996, as early as June 15, 1996, or two (2) days after the ambush-slay of Abadilla, their investigation already established the identities of a number of suspects through photo files and forensic sketches of suspects provided by eyewitnesses.19 Said arresting officers were also able to seize certain firearms and other pieces of evidence, to wit:
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4. That after SPO2 cesar Fortuna revealed the whereabouts of the slain victim's stolen cal .45 pistol, we conducted a follow up in a gunsmith located at Sampaloc, Manila on 21 June 1996, from where we held for investigation, one DANTE MONTEVIRGEN y VILLANUEVA, 37 years old, married, self-employed/gunsmith, native of Pula, Oriental Mindoro and with given address at 1412 Riverside Street, Commonwealth Avenue, Bgy. Holy Spirit, Quezon City. 5. That upon confrontation said subject person surrendered two (2) cal .45 pistols whom suspect Cesar Fortuna allegedly brought to him for repair/tampering of serial numbers, to wit:
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(a) 1- COLT MARK IV cal .45 pistol Gov't Model SN-66B5574; and (b) 1-COLT MARK IV cal .45 pistol Series 70 SN-647048. 6. On the same day, 21 June 1996, after SPO2 Cesar Fortuna expressed willingness to surrender the motorcycle allegedly used in casing and surveillance upon the deceased victim, we took said motorcycle at Gate 2 of Camp Crame along Santolan Road (Col Bony Serrano Avenue), Quezon City, to wit:
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1- Unit, KAWASAKI motorcycle without license plate, chassis No. C-5121696, Motor No. 658 122951 7. That the aforenamed subject person together with the property/articles recovered were turned over to the Police Headquarters for investigation and appropriate action; x x x20
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With respect to Lorenzo delos Santos, he also executed a statement dated June 21, 1996 admitting his participation in the ambush-slay of Abadilla on June 13, 1996, and pointing to Rameses de Jesus as the mastermind and also named the following suspects: "POGS" whose real name was Lenido Lumanog, Joel de Jesus alias "Tabong," Cesar Fortuna and four (4) others whom he did not know. He said that he was just brought along by Rameses de Jesus and was further threatened that if he would not go with them, they would kill his family. He claimed that he merely acted as a lookout. As similarly recounted by Joel, Lorenzo stated that the group used an L-300 van, a car and a jeep in going to Katipunan Avenue in the morning of June 13, 1996. Joel had a .45 cal pistol, Cesar a .38 revolver, Lenido a 9 mm., a certain Manuel dela Rosa who did not get out of the vehicle, carried a .38 cal revolver, and Lorenzo, also a .38 cal revolver. Rameses, Joel, Cesar and Lenido were the ones who shot Abadilla. After the shooting, the group left him behind and he just walked on the street before taking a taxi ride to the Bureau of Customs. Lorenzo maintained that he was not given any money. He was just picked up from his house at Ruby St., Fairview Subdivision by Rameses, Lenido, Cesar and Joel. He was made to board Rameses' car with a warning that if he did not join the group, they would throw a hand grenade at his family.21
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In his Karagdagang Salaysay dated June 21, 1996, security guard Freddie Alejo positively identified Joel and Lorenzo during a police line-up. Alejo confirmed these two (2) as the persons he saw from his guard post walking to and fro before the shooting incident. They were also the ones who shouted that no one (1) should interfere at the time the four (4) armed men were firing shots at Abadilla. 22
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SPO2 Cesar Fortuna y Abudo, Rameses de Jesus y Calma, Lorenzo delos Santos y Dela Cruz, Lenido Lumanog y Luistro, Joel de Jesus y Valdez and Arturo Napolitano y Caburnay were charged in Criminal Case No. Q-96-66679 with theft of the alleged gun owned by the late Abadilla (Colt Mark IV cal .45 pistol SN-66BS574), a gold-plated Omega wristwatch and a wallet containing an undetermined amount of cash plus calling cards and other important papers, all of which were supposedly stolen by them after killing Abadilla.23
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On the other hand, Lorenzo delos Santos y Dela Cruz, SPO2 Cesar Fortuna y Abudo and Rameses de Jesus y Calma were respectively charged with illegal possession of firearms (Presidential Decree No. 1866) in Criminal Case Nos. Q-96-66680, Q-96-66682 and Q-96-66683.24
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All the seven (7) named accused in Criminal Case No. Q-96-66684 were indicted for Murder under the following Information:
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That on or about the 13th day of June, 1996 in Quezon City, Philippines, the above-named accused, conspiring together, confederating with several other persons whose true names, identities, whereabouts have not as yet been ascertained and mutually helping with one another, did then and there, wilfully, unlawfully and feloniously with intent to kill, with evident premeditation, treachery, in consideration of a price, reward or promise, and taking advantage of superior strength, attack and employ personal violence upon the person of COL. ROLANDO ABADILLA y NOLASCO by then and there shooting the latter with the use of different kinds of firearms, hitting him on the different parts of his body, thereby causing the instant and immediate cause of his death, to the damage and prejudice of the heirs of the said COL. ROLANDO ABADILLA y NOLASCO. Contrary to law.25
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When arraigned, all the accused pleaded not guilty to the murder charge. In view of the dismissal of the criminal cases for illegal possession of firearms (P.D. No. 1866) and theft (Criminal Case Nos. Q-96-66679, Q-96-66680, Q-96-66682 and Q-96-66683),26 our discussion of the proceedings before the trial court will be confined to the case for murder against Fortuna, Lumanog, Joel de Jesus, Rameses de Jesus and Santos.
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Evidence for the Prosecution The prosecution presented the testimonies of police officers who conducted the investigation and follow-up operations up to the actual apprehension of suspects in the killing of Abadilla: SPO2 Wahab Magundacan, PO2 Gerardo Daganta, Maj. Edward Villena, P/Insp. Rogelio Castillo, SPO2 Jose Garcia, Jr., SPO3 Romeo De Guzman, SPO2 Pio Tarala, Atty. Florimond Rous, P/Sr. Insp. Jose B. Macanas and P/Insp. Ferdinand Marticio. The testimonies of P/Insp. Castillo, SPO2 Garcia, SPO2 Tarala, Atty. Rous and P/Sr. Insp. Macanas were given in court in the light of serious allegations of torture, forced confessions and violations of constitutional rights raised by the accused, which were widely reported in the media and brought before the Commission of Human Rights (CHR) and eventually to Amnesty International-USA. P/Insp. Castillo, testifying on cross-examination, admitted that accused Joel de Jesus was apprehended by members of his squad led by Lt. Rodolfo on June 19, 1996, but said suspect was not presented to him until noontime of the next day, June 20, 1996. He did not ask his men if Joel had been subjected to investigation and if he was, whether he was assisted by counsel. He explained that there were still then follow-up operations in which they needed Joel. As for the press conference wherein Joel was presented together with then Secretary Barbers and General Recaredo Sarmiento, he learned about it only later.27
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The witness declared that the constitutional mandate and requirements under Republic Act (R.A.) No. 7438 had been complied with because he secured the services of a counsel during the interrogation of then suspect Joel de Jesus when his sworn statement was taken on June 20, 1996. He had informed the said suspect of his right to counsel in the presence of CID personnel and when he brought him to the office of Atty. Confesor R. Sansano of the Integrated Bar of the Philippines (IBP) located at the second floor of the Hall of Justice, Quezon City Hall. Asked why it occurred to him to bring the suspect to the IBP, the witness replied that he believed IBP was a private, not a government, institution. He also asked Joel -- who was allowed to make a telephone call, although he was not aware if Joel made any such call -- whether he had his own lawyer. He recalled asking Joel if he was willing to go with

them to the City Hall, because he had asked to secure the services of counsel. There had been instances when the IBP lawyers assisted some suspects brought by the CPDC. The CPDC provided the typewriter and papers to be used and in this case, Atty. Sansano accommodated them in using the facilities of the IBP Chapter office. Joel executed his statement, with SPO2 Jose L. Garcia, Jr. propounding the questions. They started taking his statement at 1:10 p.m. of June 20, 1996 at Room 235, IBP Office, Quezon City Hall of Justice in the presence of Atty. Sansano and a number of people inside said office.28 He was apprised for the first time about a suspect (Joel) who was just apprehended when he called their office upon arriving home on the night of June 19, 1996. The information was given to him by the desk sergeant and thereupon he gave instruction to contact the witness and include that suspect in a line-up. He then informed their Chief regarding this development. When he asked for the whereabouts of this suspect, he was given the reply that the suspect was still with their squad conducting follow-up operations.29
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P/Insp. Castillo recounted that he reported to the office at 8:00 o'clock in the morning of June 20, 1996 and Joel was actually presented to him by Lt. Rodolfo at 10:00 o'clock that same morning, in the presence of CID men. He told Joel he was being implicated in the case, to which Joel replied "Sir, lookout lang naman ako, sir." This initial questioning of Joel took place at the investigation room of the CID, where there were other private complainants talking to investigators, and there were a number of policemen around who were not in uniform. He advised Joel that he was free to use the telephone, and although Joel had no relatives present at that time, he warned Joel that his case was serious and he must seek the services of counsel. He first thought of the legal assistance provided by the City Attorney, then that by the Public Attorney's Office (PAO), and lastly by the IBP. Between 12:30 and 1:00 p.m., he and his men, together with Joel in a separate vehicle, left the CID to go to the Quezon City Hall. They scouted for a lawyer and inquired from the IBP chapter office. They found Atty. Florimond Rous and the lady counsel at a hearing in a courtroom. Atty. Rous advised them to wait for Atty. Sansano, who apparently was the head of the IBP chapter office. He was moving in and out of the office while the statement of Joel was being taken in the presence of Atty. Sansano. Before that, Atty. Sansano talked to Joel alone, after which they were called in again for the taking of the statement at 2:00 p.m. They left City Hall at past 4:00 or 5:00 that afternoon.30
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SPO2 Garcia, Jr. testified that he was a member of the CID-CPDC at Camp Karingal. On June 20, 1996 when he reported for duty, he was assigned by P/Insp. Castillo to take down the statement of Joel de Jesus. While still inside the office of P/Insp. Castillo, he asked Joel if his statement was voluntary and what kind of statement he was going to give. Joel answered that his statement was voluntary and he wanted to be included as state witness in the Abadilla case. Together with Joel, SPO2 Tarala and SPO1 Edilberto Nicanor, he took lunch at the back of their office before proceeding to the Quezon City Hall at around 12:00 o'clock noon, with P/Insp. Castillo who said that Joel's statement would be taken infront of a counsel. At the Hall of Justice lobby, P/Insp. Castillo instructed them to guard Joel as he would look for a counsel. After more or less 25 to 30 minutes, P/Insp. Castillo came back and they proceeded to the second floor of the office of the IBP chapter. They were met by a lady secretary, and afterwards he saw P/Insp. Castillo talking to a lawyer whom he came to know as Atty. Rous. It seemed Atty. Rous could not decide on what P/Insp. Castillo told him and said he (Atty. Rous) would first ask the permission of Atty. Sansano. They waited for Atty. Sansano, who arrived in about twenty (20) to twenty-five (25) minutes. Atty. Sansano and P/Insp. Castillo talked for about five (5) minutes and thereafter, Atty. Sansano requested them to leave, because he would talk personally to Joel. Atty. Sansano and Joel talked inside the room for five (5) to ten (10) minutes. Thereafter, he, P/Insp. Castillo, SPO2 Tarala and SPO1 Edilberto Nicanor went inside the room and that was the time Atty. Sansano announced that Joel was ready for the taking of his statement.31
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SPO2 Garcia, Jr. further testified that he took down the statement of Joel using a typewriter in the office of Atty. Sansano. He brought said typewriter near the table of Atty. Sansano and a chair to sit on beside Joel. Joel was seated infront of the desk where Atty. Sansano was sitting. After completing the taking down of the statement, he gave it to Joel and asked the latter to read it. Joel read the typewritten statement and when he finished reading, he gave the same to Atty. Sansano. Atty. Sansano read all the contents of the document and asked Joel if he understood it, to which he answered "Yes, sir." Atty. Sansano then asked Joel if he was willing to sign the statement, to which the latter again replied in the affirmative. Joel signed the statement in his presence and also that of Atty. Sansano, who likewise signed it in his presence. SPO2 Garcia, Jr. also identified his own

signature and that of SPO1 Nicanor who signed the statement in his presence. From the office of Atty. Sansano, they proceeded to the fourth floor in the office of Prosecutor Ramon Gerona before whom Joel subscribed his statement. After reading the statement, Fiscal Gerona explained to Joel in Tagalog the consequences of the statement he executed. Joel was calm and said he was only a lookout in the crime. Earlier, before propounding questions to Joel at the office of Atty. Sansano, the latter addressed Joel in Tagalog: "Joel naiintindihan mo na ang mga itinatanong sa iyo ng mga pulis? Ito ba sarili mo o boluntaryo ba 'tong statement mo na ito hindi ka ba nila tinakot, sinaktan o anupaman?" While Joel was answering his questions, Atty. Sansano halted him from typing the answer given by Joel to ask the latter if he could understand the question propounded to him. The witness was also asked to identify Joel de Jesus inside the courtroom.32
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On cross-examination, SPO2 Garcia, Jr. affirmed that before the taking down of the statement, he had explained to Joel the consequences of his being a state witness, in accordance with the instruction of P/Insp. Castillo. He specifically explained to Joel: "Itong statement na ito ay puwedeng gamitin laban o panig sa 'yo sa alinmang hukuman dito sa Pilipinas. Ikaw ba ay nakahandang tumestigo sa mga sasabihin ng tao dito sa statement mo na ito na magiging laban sa kanila." Joel told him, "Yes, sir." P/Insp. Castillo had told him that Joel was to turn state witness before the latter was brought to the IBP Office. When P/Insp. Castillo had returned to the lobby of the Hall of Justice, he told them that the only person present who would act as Joel's counsel would be located at the IBP Office, and Joel would be brought there. It was his first time to meet Atty. Sansano. As to whether Joel was also assisted by Atty. Rous when he was investigated on June 21, 1996, the witness said he did not know.33 Regarding the portion of the statement dated June 20, 1996 wherein he asked Joel about a pending case against him, which Joel identified as a rape case, he denied having knowledge of any such pending case before the taking of the statement. He also did not ask Joel if he already had a counsel, or if Joel already knew Atty. Sansano. Another lawyer, Atty. Rous, was actually present when he was taking Joel's statement at the office of Atty. Sansano, who was also present throughout the time he was taking down the statement of Joel. He did not hear Joel mention the name of another lawyer to Atty. Sansano, specifically that of Atty. David as suggested by defense counsel.34
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SPO2 Tarala testified that as a member of the PNP Station in Kamuning, Quezon City, assigned at the CID, he came to investigate accused Lorenzo delos Santos on June 21, 1996. On that day, after lunch, he was instructed by P/Insp. Castillo to proceed to the Public Assistance and Reaction Against Crime (PARAC), Dallas Bldg. in Tomas Morato Avenue, because one (1) of the suspects in the Abadilla slaying was apprehended by the PARAC follow-up team and was supposed to give his statement. So he went there together with SPO1 Primo Borito and PO3 Ramil Hatchero. Upon arriving at said office, he met P/Sr. Insp. Macanas, who called a person he introduced as Lorenzo delos Santos. Before taking down the statement of Lorenzo, he advised the latter of his rights under the law, warning that any statement he would make could be used against him in any court of law, so that he had the right not to answer any question which to his mind would incriminate him. Lorenzo responded by saying that he wanted to give a statement and to be a state witness. When Lorenzo asked if he could use a telephone at the information table, he said yes. Lorenzo then called his office because he was a customs broker, and also called up a relative who was a certain Col. Sala (Col. Milagros Sala), a Quezon City police official. He told Lorenzo that he should have a lawyer of his choice during the taking down of his statement. He prodded Lorenzo to call the lawyer, whom Lorenzo knew to be always at the City Hall. They then proceeded to the Quezon City Hall to look for that lawyer at the Office of the City Attorney. However, Lorenzo was not able to find said lawyer; he asked somebody (a woman) who referred them to the Hall of Justice. After failing to find the person Lorenzo was looking for to be his counsel, an old man, a vendor suggested to them to go upstairs at the IBP Office. The lady secretary of the IBP chapter office introduced them to Atty. Florimond Rous, who then asked him and his companions to step out of the room so Atty. Rous could talk to Lorenzo. Atty. Rous and Lorenzo talked for ten (10) to fifteen (15) minutes, after which they were called again to enter the office. His two (2) companions were left outside and he was told by Atty. Rous that he had already apprised Lorenzo of his rights, but Lorenzo still wanted to give a statement.35
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Upon the instruction of Atty. Rous, he took down the statement of Lorenzo, the three (3) of them in one (1) corner of the room while over at the receiving area there were the secretary and a lady lawyer. The statement of Lorenzo was in Tagalog, typewritten in question-and-answer form. Each time after he had asked a question, Atty. Rous would in turn ask Lorenzo if he wanted to answer it, and

Lorenzo would answer yes. He was at the typewriter, and the two (2) (Atty. Rous and Lorenzo) were infront of him, seated across each other. The taking of the statement started at about 3:10 in the afternoon and was finished in more than one (1) hour. He asked Lorenzo to read first his statement, and then Atty. Rous read it also. Next, they went up to the office of Fiscal Refuerzo, but was referred by the secretary to the inquest fiscal on duty, Fiscal Ben dela Cruz. At his office, Fiscal dela Cruz asked Lorenzo to stand infront of him and asked if the statement was voluntarily given by him, if what was contained therein was true, and if he was ready to swear before him. Lorenzo answered yes, and the subscribing of his statement before Fiscal dela Cruz was also witnessed by Atty. Rous.36 Lorenzo had earlier told him and his companions at the PARAC office that his participation in the ambush-slay of Abadilla was that of a lookout, and that he was only forced to join the group because of the threat to his family.37
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SPO2 Tarala admitted that the first time he went to the IBP Office at the Hall of Justice was on June 20, 1996 when SPO2 Garcia, Jr. took the statement of Joel de Jesus. Since only SPO2 Garcia, Jr. and Joel stayed inside the room, he and his companion just walked around.38
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Atty. Rous testified that he was one (1) of the free legal aid counsels of the Free Legal Aid Committee of the IBP-Quezon City Chapter. One (1) of their primary duties was to assist indigents in their cases, and aside from this, they were also tasked to assist the various suspects during custodial investigations in the various investigations of different agencies, such as the CIS and PNP. He recalled handling at least ten (10) to fifteen (15) of such custodial investigations. On June 21, 1996, he assisted a person by the name of Lorenzo delos Santos accompanied by a police investigator (whose name he could no longer remember) from the Central Police District, who told him that the said suspect was willing to make a confession and asked if he could assist him during his custodial investigation. He identified Lorenzo inside the courtroom.39 The police investigator had informed him of the charge against Lorenzo, which was the killing of Abadilla.40
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Before the start of the investigation of Lorenzo, Atty. Rous related that he asked the policeman to leave him and Lorenzo. When the investigators were gone, he asked Lorenzo to remove his shirt so he could see if there were any tell-tale marks of any harm or specific mark upon him. Having satisfied himself that there were no such mark on the suspect's body, Atty. Rous began interviewing him. He asked Lorenzo if he was willing to execute a confession, and Lorenzo answered he was willing to do so. He then asked Lorenzo if he was willing to have him as his counsel. Evidently, Lorenzo wanted him to be his counsel during the custodial investigation for the taking of his statement. Convinced that Lorenzo was giving his statement without any pressure or force, they started the investigation proper. The police investigator who accompanied Lorenzo to their office was the one (1) who had propounded questions in Tagalog and typed the answers given by Lorenzo also in Tagalog. He was just within hearing distance and was present during the entire time of the taking of Lorenzo's statement. Afterwards, he let Lorenzo read the typewritten statement, and he asked Lorenzo if those were the questions given to him and the answers he had given, to which he replied in the affirmative. He further asked Lorenzo if he was willing to sign the statement without pressure, and Lorenzo said he was willing to sign the same. He asked Lorenzo to sign his statement before the office of Prosecutor Ben dela Cruz. Prosecutor dela Cruz first read the statement and then asked Lorenzo if he was willing to sign the same, and he answered in the affirmative. Lorenzo signed the statement in their presence; he and Prosecutor dela Cruz also signed it.41
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Atty. Rous further testified on cross-examination, that after the police investigator and Lorenzo had left, a few minutes later, some other investigators arrived at their office, bringing along Joel de Jesus. This Joel de Jesus had given a statement the previous day, June 20, 1996, and he was told that Joel would be giving this time a supplemental statement. The investigators apprised Joel of his constitutional rights before the taking down of his statement. He was not sure if Lorenzo and the police investigator had actually left already, and he could not remember exactly what transpired at this point. The defense counsel noted the absence of the word "competent" to qualify the word "counsel" in the preliminary portion of Lorenzo's statement. Atty. Rous described the answers given by Lorenzo as spontaneous, and he did not recall any hesitancy on the part of the latter. He maintained that he found no contusions or abrasions on Lorenzo's body.42
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P/Sr. Insp. Macanas testified that he was then assigned at the PARAC as its operations officer. They were closely coordinating with and sharing evidence for case build-up operations with the CPDC in the investigation of the killing of Abadilla. On June 19, 1996, at around 3:00 o'clock in the afternoon, they were directed to proceed to the CPDC headquarters in view of an information that a certain suspect alias "Tabong" was already located while repairing his tricycle somewhere in Fairview, during which he was identified by an eyewitness, security guard Alejo who went there with CPDC operatives. At the time this radio message was received, they were within the vicinity of Fairview, and the CPDC gave the signal for them to accost said suspect. He was present when "Tabong," who was later identified as Joel de Jesus, was arrested by the joint elements of the CPDC and PARAC. Joel was turned over to the CID-CPDC at about past 4:00 p.m. Subsequently, their superior, P/Sr. Supt. Bartolome Baluyot, informed them of revelations given by Joel, for which they were called in again for joint follow-up operations. They brought Joel to Fairview along Ruby St. where Joel's supposed companions, namely: one alias "Ram," Lorenzo delos Santos, Ogie and one (1) alias "Cesar," could be found. Joel first pointed to the house of Ram (Rameses de Jesus), but they did not find him there; instead they found a man named Cesar Fortuna, whom Joel pointed to infront of said house. They immediately apprehended Fortuna and identified themselves. He informed Fortuna that he was being implicated by Joel in the killing of Col. Abadilla. Fortuna introduced himself as a policeman assigned with the Traffic Management Command (TMC). As a standard procedure, they informed Fortuna of his constitutional rights and then brought him to the CPDC for investigation. At the time, Fortuna had a gun (caliber .38) tucked in his waist, which they confiscated.43
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P/Sr. Insp. Macanas further testified that in the course of their follow-up operations, with information being provided by Joel, they were also able to arrest another suspect alias "Larry," whom they met at a dark alley. Upon being pointed to by Joel, they apprehended Larry who was later identified as Lorenzo delos Santos, frisked him and found in his possession a cal .38 Smith and Wesson, for which he could not present any license or document. They brought Lorenzo to the CID-CPDC. He identified both Lorenzo and Fortuna inside the courtroom.44 On cross-examination, the witness admitted they had no warrant of arrest when they went to Fairview to locate the suspects, as it was a "hot person" case ordered by their superior and requiring the immediate arrest of suspects identified by witnesses like, in this case, Joel. Joel had admitted to the CID-CPDC investigators his participation in the Abadilla killing. After accosting Joel at Camaro St., whom they identified through a photograph, and before taking him to the CID-CPDC, he informed Joel that he was identified as one (1) of the suspects in the killing of Col. Abadilla; that he had a right to remain silent; that anything he will say could be used against him; he had the right to counsel of his own choice, and if he could not afford one, the government would provide him. As to Lorenzo, he was arrested past midnight of June 20, 1996; they had brought Joel along while moving to locate Lorenzo.45 He was just at the back of those operatives who actually arrested Lorenzo.46
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The principal witness for the prosecution was Freddie Alejo, who testified that as a security guard employed by Provider Security Agency, he was then assigned at 211 Katipunan Avenue, Blue Ridge, Quezon City. On June 13, 1996, he reported for duty at 7:00 o'clock in the morning. By 7:30 a.m., he noticed two (2) men walking back and forth infront of his post. He was shown by the prosecutor some photographs taken of the parking area he was then guarding, his guard post beside the building and the street infront of said building (Exhibits "G", "H", "I" and "J"47 ).
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Alejo recounted that there was a man riding in a black car who was shot by four (4) persons infront of the building he was guarding. The car was in the middle lane of the road, and the car's specific location was found in one (1) of the photographs (Exhibit "H-4"48 ). One (1) of the two (2) persons he earlier saw walking back and forth in front of him pointed a gun at him (the position of said man was marked as Exhibit "H-5"49 ). That man was holding a short gun and he told Alejo to come down ("Baba!"), but he did not budge. He then saw one (1) of the assailants (No. 1 in Exhibit "H"50 ), the one (1) standing on the left side of the car (left front door), grab the victim by the neck, get the clutch bag of the victim inside the car, pull said victim out of the car, and drop him on the road. He then heard another shot coming from said attacker (No. 1). Another man (No. 5 in Exhibit "H"51 ) shouted: "Dapa.walang makikialam!" and the rest of the four (4) men (marked as Nos. 2, 3 and 4 in Exhibit "H"52 ) faced him (witness Alejo). Next, the companion of No. 5, who was earlier walking back and forth infront of him (marked as No. 6 in Exhibit "H"53 ), pointed a gun at him. This time, he did come down, lowering his body and bowing his head inside the guardhouse. The witness identified the
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suspects inside the courtroom as the persons he saw and marked as No. 5 (Joel de Jesus) the first one who pointed a gun at him shouting "Baba ka!"; No. 1 who grabbed the victim, got his clutch bag and pulled him out of the car (Lenido Lumanog); No. 2 (Rameses de Jesus); No. 6 the second person who pointed a gun at him (Lorenzo delos Santos); No. 4 (Augusto Santos) and No. 3 who was positioned at the right front door of the victim's car (Cesar Fortuna). Nos. 1 and 3 (Lumanog and Fortuna) were the ones who shot the victim with short firearms, while No. 2 (Rameses) was just standing and facing the victim with a gun in his hand, and No. 4 (Augusto) was also just standing facing the driver and holding a short gun. It was probably less than a minute when the gunfire stopped, and he stood up at his guard post. The assailants were no longer in sight and he saw the car's window shattered. He identified the victim's black car as shown in photographs (Exhibits "A-1" to "A-4"54 ). 55
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Alejo further testified that he was one (1) of those asked by the policemen who arrived regarding the incident. He was told to go to Station 8, which was just near the place. At Station 8, another security guard of an adjacent building was also being investigated. Thereafter, the police officers brought him to Camp Karingal, along with the other security guard.56
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On cross-examination, Alejo described his guard post as elevated; and two (2) arm's length on the left and right side, there was an alley just beside the guard post which was at the corner.57 The victim's car was infront of the building he was guarding, at a slightly slanted direction from it ("Lihis po ng konti"). His view was toward the direction of the front door of the car (rear end). From where he was at the time, the car was at a distance of more or less ten (10) meters. The first time one (1) of the suspects pointed a gun at him, he was not scared. He saw four (4) men standing around the victim's car, two (2) on the left side, and two (2) on the right side. He saw only two (2) of them (the ones at the front left and right sides of the car) shooting at the car; they were carrying short firearms. One (1) of these two (2) got the clutch bag (at the left front side of the car), grabbed the victim by the neck and shot him once before dropping him down the road. Even if he could not see the gun when that assailant pulled the victim from the car, he knew that the victim was shot again, because he saw a gun smoke just beside the left side of the car where the victim was dropped. The second man who pointed a gun at him shouted "Dapa!" and thereupon his companions (the ones at the right rear side, left rear side, and front right side) faced him for less than a minute. Because at that precise moment the gun was not yet poked at him, he was able to recognize their faces. When finally the gun was pointed at him, he became nervous and bowed down his head inside the guard house. The color of the clutch bag taken from the victim was black. He could see the inside of the car from his guard post because the car's glass window was not tinted and, besides, his position was elevated or higher than the height of the car.58 He confirmed the contents of his Sinumpaang Salaysay (Exhibit "L") before policeman Edilberto Nicanor on June 13, 1996 taken at the CID-PNP, Camp Karingal at 1:55 p.m. or barely four (4) hours after the shooting incident.59
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Alejo further testified on cross-examination that on June 19, 1996 at around 2:00 o'clock in the afternoon, he was fetched by four (4) policemen at his agency in Monumento and they told him they were going to Fairview. Before this, in the afternoon of June 18, 1996, they showed him a picture of a man wearing eyeglasses, but he told them he would not point a man in photographs, but would like to see the man in person. That was the second time he saw Joel de Jesus since the shooting incident on June 13, 1996. He executed a supplemental statement on June 21, 1996 when he identified said suspect in a police line-up.60
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On September 26, 1996, the trial court conducted an ocular inspection of the place where the shooting incident took place, in the presence of the prosecutors, defense counsel, Alejo and Maj. Villena. Alejo was asked to demonstrate his exact location, the relative positions of the assailants and the victim's car, and the entire incident he had witnessed in the morning of June 13, 1996. The Presiding Judge who took the same position of Alejo in the guardhouse made the following observations:
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COURT:

cha nrob lesvi rtua llawli bra r

From this position, the Presiding Judge can see the car very clearly even if the car would be moved back by another segment of the cement or even if it is forwarded by another segment also, as

segment can accommodate one car of the likes of Honda Accord and the Court observes that from the guard post the faces of the persons beside the car are very clear. xxx COURT:
cha nrob lesvi rtua llawli bra r

The Court observed that from where the witness Alejo was he can still see the whole car as it has been moved back per the directive of Major Villena. xxx COURT:
cha nrob lesvi rtua llawli bra r

The Court adds that from the position of the witness, Freddie Alejo, the Court can still see faces behind the car which can accommodate another car. xxx COURT:
cha nrob lesvi rtua llawli bra r

The front right window has been rolled down and also the back right window of the car have been rolled down with the left front door opened, the Court can observed the two (2) front seats particularly the upper portion, meaning the head rest and the back rest, half of the back rest, all the head rest can be seen. xxx INTERPRETER:
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(measuring the distance from the guardhouse to the black car).

nad

The measurement from the foot of the guardpost up to the right front door of the black car is fifteen (15) meters. xxx INTERPRETER:
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(Measuring the distance between the bodega to the black car) The measurement from the front portion of the bodega (papaya) to the side of the black car is 11.8 meters. xxx INTERPRETER:
c han roblesv irtuallawl ib rar

The measurement.the distance from where suspect No. 6 was standing to the guard house when measured is 7.34 meters, your Honor. xxx

INTERPRETER:

c han roblesv irtuallawl ib rar

The distance from where suspect No. 5 was standing up to the guard house is 5.17 meters. xxx COURT:
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After the demonstration while witness Alejo was demonstrating how [suspect No. 2] got the clutch bag and how [suspect No. 2] grabbed the neck of the driver of the black car, the Judge was at the guard post and saw for himself that [Alejo] clearly saw the taking of the clutch bag even if the untinted windows were closed and the pulling of the driver of the black car.61
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P/Insp. Castillo, on re-direct examination testified that Atty. Sansano actively assisted Joel de Jesus during the time the latter's Sinumpaang Salaysay was being taken by SPO2 Garcia, Jr. There were questions propounded to Joel which Atty. Sansano had told Joel not to answer, and advice was given by said counsel. They left Quezon City Hall at about 5:00 o'clock in the afternoon and returned to the CPDC headquarters. He maintained that all the accused were brought before the City Prosecutor for inquest proceedings prior to the filing of the information in court.62
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Susan Samonte-Abadilla testified that their family incurred expenses for the burial of her husband, repair of the Honda Accord and loss of the .45 cal gold cup pistol and Omega watch during the shooting of her husband. She further testified that she was very shocked and saddened by the tragic death of her husband. Because she led a practically sheltered life, it was difficult for her, as it was the older children who were now taking care of their businesses, which were attended to by her husband when he was still alive. Three (3) of her eight (8) children were still studying (Ana, 14; Nico, 13; and BJ, 10), and one had just graduated last March 1997.63
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Merlito Herbas, in his Karagdagang Salaysay dated June 21, 1996, identified Joel de Jesus in a police line-up at the CID-CPDC, Camp Karingal, as one (1) of those men who shot the victim on June 13, 1996.64 However, not having been presented by the prosecution as witness, he testified for the defense declaring that none of those whom he saw during the shooting incident was present inside the courtroom. He produced a list of amounts he had received from Mayor Abadilla, totaling P30,000.00 in support of his claim that Mayor Abadilla did not fulfill his promise to give him exactly the same salary he was receiving as security guard (P6,000.00 monthly only instead of the P8,000.00 he used to receive as monthly pay), although he admitted having stayed for free inside the Abadilla compound from July 11, 1996 up to November 26, 1996. He was later told that he would no longer be presented as witness because the testimony of Alejo would be sufficient.65
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Defense Evidence All the accused raised the defense of alibi, highlighted the negative findings of ballistic and fingerprint examinations, and further alleged torture in the hands of police officers and denial of constitutional rights during custodial investigation. P/Insp. Reynaldo D. de Guzman, firearms examiner and Chief of the Firearms Division of the PNP Crime Laboratory, testified that he conducted an examination of the slug recovered from the body of Col. Abadilla, as per request of the CPDC for cross-matching with a bullet also recovered from the body of another shooting victim, Suseso de Dios, i.e., whether or not they were fired from one (1) and the same firearm.66 The result of their microscopic examination was that the aforesaid bullets were fired from the same firearm.67
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Dr. Jesse Rey Cruel, medico-legal officer of the CHR, testified that he examined accused Cesar Fortuna, Rameses de Jesus, Lenido Lumanog on June 25, 1996 and Lorenzo delos Santos on July 3, 1996. His findings showed that their bodies bore the following injuries: "(1) Fortuna - abrasions on forearm, elbow and knee; contusions on chest area; and incised wounds on the waist and legs 68 ; (2)
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Rameses - contusions on chest, abdomen, knee and thigh areas69 ; (3) Lumanog - contusions on abdomen and lumbar region, and a horizontal lacerated wound on the forehead 70 ; and (4) Lorenzo abrasions on the arms, contusions in thigh and knee, petechia marks (minute hemorrhages) between chest/abdomen and the penis, discoloration on right arm, and new scars on left arm, right foot and second toe."71 All said wounds required not more than nine (9) days of medical attendance. The defense also presented pictures taken at the time of the examination.72 On cross-examination, Dr. Cruel opined that it was possible the injuries could have been self-inflicted and pointed out that the injury on the forehead of Lumanog was not complained of.73
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Remedios Dedicatoria, a fingerprint examiner at the PNP Crime Laboratory testified on the results stated in a Dactyloscopy Report No. F-086-96 comparison of the latent prints lifted from the Honda Accord with Plate No. RNA-777, Kia Pride PTZ-401 and Mitsubishi Lancer car with the standard fingerprints of the accused. The only match was found in the specimen fingerprint of Rameses de Jesus with respect to the fragmentary prints lifted from the Mitsubishi Lancer car. None of the fingerprints of the accused is identical with the latent prints lifted from the Honda Accord and Kia Pride.74 On cross-examination, the witness stated that if a person had touched the car and rubbed it, there would be no fingerprint that could be lifted therefrom. She also admitted that no latent print was taken from inside the Honda Accord nor was there any fingerprint taken of the late Rolando Abadilla (only two [2] fingerprints were taken from his car). When asked if a person opened the car holding only the back portion of the handle, the witness answered that there would likewise be no fingerprint on the outside of the car.75
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Joel de Jesus testified that on June 19, 1996, at around 3:00 o'clock in the afternoon, he was at their street corner fixing his tricycle and was with Arturo Napolitano and Felicisimo Herrera. A van stopped and six (6) armed men alighted from it, among whom he recognized Antonio Rodolfo, Pio Tarala and Dario Aasco (whom he came to know when they charged him with rape on January 17, 1994, from which charge he was acquitted on June 19, 1996). He even greeted said cops, but they forced him into the van, and handcuffed and blindfolded the three (3) of them. They were brought to a certain house where they were boxed, kicked and slammed on the wall. When his blindfold was removed, the police officers were forcing him to admit that he killed Abadilla. Capt. Rodolfo was also there and he later identified the rest of those who picked him up as Romulo Sales, Lt. Castillo, Bartolome Baluyot, Major Reyes and Catalua. After he denied having anything to do with the killing, PO2 Tarala tried to suffocate him with a plastic bag. He could not breathe and lost consciousness. Recounting his ordeal in tears, the witness said that for one (1) hour his captors repeatedly inserted a plastic bag and boxed him. A younger looking man then slapped him saying that they had ambushed his father. While detained, he was only given water to drink and not allowed to contact his relatives. He was asked to sign by Lt. Castillo a seven (7)-page document, torturing him if he refused to do so. There were already other signatures on the edge and every page of said document (Sinumpaang Salaysay dated June 20, 1996). He denied the contents of this statement but admitted that he was brought to the IBP Office, Quezon City Hall. After signing, he heard Lt. Castillo call somebody saying, "Parating na kami dyan." He was then made to board a vehicle and was taken to the Quezon City Hall where a man wearing barong tagalog was waiting, asking if he was Joel de Jesus. When Lt. Castillo answered in the affirmative, the man just signed the document. He denied having met Atty. Confesor Sansano, nor was he told of his right to the assistance of counsel; he even told them the name of his lawyer at that time, but they just said, "Mas marunong ka pa sa amin."76
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Testifying on cross-examination, Joel insisted that on June 13, 1996, he went home at around 10:00 o'clock in the evening. He started plying his route at 6:00 o'clock in the morning; he was hired (inarkila) by a passenger who asked him to bring her to an albularyo in Roosevelt Avenue, Novaliches. He admitted this was the first time he mentioned this, as it was not mentioned in his Affidavits77 which were prepared by the police. Atty. Lupino Lazaro assisted him in filing charges against the police officers and Atty. Hector Corpuz before the Department of Justice (DOJ). He admitted that he did not say anything about the illegality of his arrest and the torture he suffered prior to his arraignment.78 On re-direct examination, he denied having executed the Karagdagang Salaysay dated June 21, 1996 before the IBP lawyer, because at this time he was still detained in a safehouse where he remained until June 25, 1996. He was just forced to sign said document; after signing it, he heard Lt. Castillo say to one (1) Fiscal Soler, "Fiscal, salamat." Thereafter, he and the other accused were presented in a press conference as suspects in the Abadilla slaying inside Camp Crame. During
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this time, he pointed to Lorenzo delos Santos and Augusto Santos, because they were his enemies at their place. He only pointed to them out of fear that he might be salvaged by the police and because of the torture. He really did not know Abadilla nor was he at any time within the vicinity of Katipunan Avenue on June 13, 1996. He knew Rameses de Jesus, being his longtime neighbor, and also Lumanog who ran for councilor in their place. All he knows was that his co-accused were picked up from their place, and he saw them only during the press conference. He affirmed the contents of the Sinumpaang Salaysay he executed before Police Major (Pol. Maj.) Escote with the assistance of Atty. Lazaro.79
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Joel admitted that he was the one (1) who pointed out Cesar Fortuna and Rameses de Jesus to the PARAC investigators. He confirmed that he was known as "Tabong" in their locality. He also filed a complaint before the CHR against the same police officers.80
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Cesar Fortuna testified that he was a member of the PNP assigned at Cagayan de Oro City. He came to Manila on June 7, 1996, as he was ordered by his superior, Col. Roberto Sacramento, to attend to the documents required for reassignment of some of their companions (as evidenced by a used Super Ferry ticket and an unused return ticket for June 20, 1996). On June 11, 1996, he went to the PNP Directorate for Personnel at the office of Insp. Oscar Alcala. However, on the night of June 19, 1996, he was arrested by PARAC operatives while he was at the house of an acquaintance, Rameses de Jesus, in Ruby St., Fairview. He had brought for repair a Ford Maverick Model '69 registered in the name of Col. Sacramento. At 11:00 o'clock in the evening, his mechanic road-tested the car, but since he was left alone, he decided to go to the house of Rameses which was near the shop. Several armed policemen arrived and entered the house of Rameses. Not finding Rameses there, they asked him instead to go along with them. He was made to board an owner-type jeep and immediately blindfolded. After one (1) hour, they arrived at a place which he was told was the office of PARAC. Somebody approached him and he felt a lighter's flame touch his chin. He then identified himself as a policeman, but was only told: "Walang pulis pulis dito." They kept on asking him where Rameses could be found. Still blindfolded, he led them to Palmera Subdivision where he knew Rameses had another house. Upon reaching Palmera, his blindfold was removed, but he was unable to locate the house until they went home at 5:00 p.m. In the morning of June 20, 1996, the policemen told him that he was just confusing them (nililito), but he explained that he had been to that house only once. The driver of the Honda Civic was already angry at him and inserted a .45 cal pistol in his mouth. They went back to the PARAC office, and he was interrogated about the Abadilla killing. He was informed that he was being implicated as somebody had pointed at him. When he still denied having any knowledge about the ambush-slay, he was repeatedly suffocated with a plastic bag placed on his head while he was handcuffed and blindfolded. After one (1) hour and due to hardship he suffered, he just told them he would admit whatever it was they wanted him to admit. He said that he acted as a look-out. They had him copy a prepared sketch and when his blindfold was finally removed, someone introduced himself as Col. Bartolome Baluyot who told him he just had to obey and he would not be hurt. Maj. George Reyes arrived, looked at the sketch and said it was not the place where Col. Abadilla was ambushed. He was blamed for that fiasco even as he said it was they who prepared the sketch. After an hour, they returned to Palmera Subdivision, Novaliches and this was already between 2:00 and 3:00 p.m. After rounding the area, he found the house, but Rameses was not there. He was made to sit the whole night in the kitchen.81
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Fortuna continued to narrate that on June 21, 1996, he was made to lie down on a bench covered with a GI sheet and was asked where the firearm of Col. Abadilla was. When he answered that he really did not know about it, they electrocuted him and poured cold water on his body. He told them that if they needed a gun, he had a gun in Sampaloc, a .45 cal licensed firearm. Thereupon, they asked him to go to that place where Dante Montevirgen was the gunsmith. Only the policemen alighted from the vehicle and talked to Montevirgen. He saw that Montevirgen gave them two (2) firearms, after which they went back to the PARAC office. On his licensed firearm, he just brought this for repair on May 10, 1996, saying "ayaw mag-automatic," while the other gun belonged to Capt. Regis, and these were covered by receipts. Next, they asked him about the Rolex watch of Col. Abadilla. When he denied having any knowledge about it, he was again electrocuted. He had filed a complaint before the CHR for the injuries inflicted on him and the violation of his rights. Aside from this case and the charge of illegal possession of firearms, he was also charged with an administrative case and a criminal complaint for carnapping (of the KIA Pride). The carnapping complaint was dismissed by Assistant
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Prosecutor Amolin on September 23, 1996. The Decision issued by P/Sr. Supt. Rodolfo N. Caisip of the PNP Headquarters Traffic Management Group also dismissed Administrative Case No. 96-09-03. He insisted that on the morning of June 13, 1996, he was at Camp Crame following up the reassignment papers of his colleagues, showing the letter-order issued by Col. Sacramento. He saw PO3 Ramon Manzano at the Office of the Directorate for Personnel at about 9:00 o'clock in the morning. He left said office as soon as he got the folder, signed their logbook, gave it to SPO4 Mercado of the Office of PNP Personnel Highway Patrol. Then he went home to eat before proceeding to the Metro Traffic Force, Central District at the office of Col. Juanito de Guzman at Roces St., Quezon City, at around 2:00 o'clock in the afternoon, for the renewal of the license of Col. Sacramento's driver. 82 He also filed with the CHR an administrative complaint against those police officers who had illegally arrested, detained and tortured him.
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Fortuna further testified that PARAC operatives seized his Kawasaki motorcycle which he had left inside Camp Crame because it had no fender. However, the certificate of registration was lost since it had been in custody of the police; the Land Transportation Office (LTO) registration paper was locked inside, and he forgot what its plate number was. He admitted that he was able to use said motorcycle in June 1996 even with the missing fender. He left the motorcycle at Gate 2, Camp Crame before leaving for Cagayan de Oro City; as to his car, he left it at Pier 2. He admitted that he was the same person charged with kidnapping and serious illegal detention with ransom in Criminal Case No. 96312, which was filed on July 15, 1996 in Mabalacat, Pampanga against him, Lumanog and Rameses by a certain Dr. Jesusa dela Cruz. Said case was transferred to the Quezon City RTC in the same sala of the presiding judge in this case. The filing of this case destroyed his reputation as a police officer and affected his children, who stopped going to school. He admitted though that he had once been dishonorably discharged from the service as a result of an extortion case filed against him. He had appealed his case and he was reinstated on August 20, 1983. A memorandum dated June 25, 1996 was issued by Col. Sacramento to attest to his moral character and loyalty to the service.83 He admitted that he never raised the issue of the legality of his arrest or the torture he suffered while in detention, during his arraignment. When confronted with his sworn statement submitted to the CHR, he admitted that he did not mention therein the pouring of cold water on his body, that he was asked to make a sketch of Katipunan Avenue, that a .45 cal pistol was inserted into his mouth and that there was no firearm confiscated from him at the time of his arrest. When he was apprehended on the night of June 19, 1996 at the house of Rameses at Ruby St., he was half-naked standing outside at the balcony. He saw someone's hand, but not the whole body of that person to whom he was shown that night, and he just heard from the policemen he had been positively identified.84
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Fortuna's claim that he was at Camp Crame following up papers in the morning of June 13, 1996 was corroborated by Oscar Alcala (Chief Clerk of the Recruitment and Selection Division) and SPO2 Ramon Manzano (Office of the Directorate for Personnel and Recruitment). However, Alcala could not present the particular logbook containing the record of the documents and transaction with Fortuna, as it could not be located, as it got lost after the office renovation in the early part of 1997. A xerox copy of the logbook entry was presented in court (Exhibit "70"). 85 However, said witness admitted he was not the custodian of the said logbook, and he did not have personal knowledge of the date and time of the entries in Exhibit "70"; it was also SPO2 Manzano who xeroxed the said logbook entry. 86 Manzano confirmed that he personally saw Fortuna in the morning of June 13, 1996, between 9:00 and 9:30, when Fortuna retrieved the papers he earlier submitted in May 1996.87
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On further cross-examination, Fortuna admitted that he never told his lawyer (Atty. Ramonito M. Delfin) when they brought his complaint before the CHR that he had documents to prove he was at Camp Crame in the morning of June 13, 1996. He explained that the matter did not enter his mind because he had no food and no sleep for several days: "At the time my salaysay was taken from me, everything was still fresh and there were so many things that I wanted to say but I was not able to say because masama pa ang aking pakiramdam." Neither did he mention it to Fiscal Refuerzo who interviewed him after the press conference, as they did not ask him about it.88 He had brought up such matter with his lawyer in another case not before the sala of the presiding judge in this case. 89
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Lorenzo delos Santos testified that on June 13, 1996, he left his house at Fairview and boarded a bus bound for Quiapo. Upon reaching Quiapo, he heard mass in Quiapo Church until around 8:30 a.m. He arrived in their office at Binondo on June 13, 1996 at 9:30 a.m. He remembered going to the office of

the Felipe Santos Brokerage in the same building to check on the date of arrival of a certain shipment. Thereafter, he went back to his office and stayed there until 2:30 p.m. He left his place of work about 4:30 in the afternoon and went to a client who invited him to drink at the house of his brother somewhere in Quezon City. On June 19, 1996, at around 11:00 o'lock in the evening, several persons suddenly barged into his house while he and his wife were sleeping. Sgt. Bela introduced himself, and he was slapped and handcuffed and the house was searched. They took his .38 cal revolver which was licensed. He was blindfolded, made to board a car and taken to a safehouse where he was tied and tortured (suffocation with plastic bag and electrocution). He was told that he was pointed to by Joel, but he explained to them that Joel was his opponent in a court case (for grave threats, physical injuries and trespassing). 90 He also answered their questions regarding his co-accused. He told them that he used to see Rameses when he brings his children to school and came to know Lumanog when he ran as city councilor, while he did not know Fortuna. After the interrogation, he was again subjected to torture and he felt weak; this lasted up to June 21, 1996. On June 21, 1996, he was brought to a field (bukid) where he was forced to sign a paper. He was then brought to the Quezon City Hall of Justice at the second floor and instructed that he should just walk along. There were two (2) women inside aside from policemen, and he was elbowed by a policeman to sign a document. He signed it out of fear, and the document was handed by the policemen to a man who entered the room, whom he later came to know as Atty. Florimond Rous. He was brought to another floor at the Fiscal's Office while he was still limping. Somebody there asked why he was in that condition, but one (1) of his police companions elbowed him so he just said it was nothing. A man who was probably the Fiscal signed the document, and they left at around 5:00 in the afternoon.91 Lorenzo admitted he had an owner-type jeep, which was registered in his own name, but said jeep had been mortgaged to Danilo Lintag since May 27, 1996.92
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Lorenzo presented as witness Edith Lingan, an employee of Felipe M. Santos, who corroborated his alibi.93
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Augusto Santos testified that on June 13, 1996 at around 7:00 o'clock in the morning, he accompanied his brother-in-law Jonas Ayhon whose wife, his sister, gave birth on June 11, 1996 at the Jose Fabella Hospital at Sta. Cruz, Manila. He stayed there until 2:00 o'clock in the afternoon. On June 26, 1996, five (5) men suddenly barged into their house. He was hit in the neck with a .45 cal. pistol, blindfolded and brought outside where he was beaten. They had no warrant of arrest but were forcing him to admit that Joel de Jesus gave him big money and that he knew what it was. He told them that he did not know anything, and that Joel was his enemy, as his Tito Lorenzo had a quarrel with Joel in which he helped his Tito. He confirmed the contents of the Sinumpaang Salaysay dated July 3, 1996 which he executed at Camp Crame, and also presented a copy of the birth certificate of the baby delivered by his sister at Fabella Hospital.94
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Jonas Padel Ayhon corroborated the foregoing testimony of his brother-in-law, Augusto "Ogie" Santos, whose half-sister was his wife.95
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Rameses de Jesus testified that on June 12, 1996 at 7:00 o'clock in the evening, he and Lumanog left for Mabalacat, Pampanga on board the latter's brand new Mitsubishi Lancer, together with Romeo Costibollo, Manny dela Rosa and Boni Mandaro. They arrived in Mabalacat at about 10:00 o'clock in the evening and after resting they started digging infront of the church, inside the compound of the Tiglao family, Lumanog's in-laws. They dug until 4:00 o'clock in the morning of June 13, 1996. Thereafter, they slept and woke up at around 10:00 o'clock in the morning. They helped in the preparations for the celebration of the wedding anniversary of the Tiglaos. After eating lunch, they drank liquor. They returned to Manila only on June 14, 1996 at 7:00 p.m.. On June 19, 1996, they went back to Pampanga and returned to Manila on June 20, 1996. At around 10:00 p.m., they proceeded to Fairview, Quezon City to visit the sick child of Romeo Costibollo who was then confined at Fairview Polymedic Hospital. After Costibollo and Lumanog alighted from their car and while he was parking infront of the hospital, several armed men came. Two (2) men approached him from behind and asked him if Costibollo and Lumanog were his companions. When he replied yes, he was pushed inside the car; Costibollo and Lumanog were handcuffed. Without any warrant, they were apprehended, blindfolded and taken to a place where he was tortured. They were forcing him to admit that he and his companions killed "Kabise" who was the ex-governor of Ilocos Norte. Despite his denials they continued to torture him by electrocution and suffocation with a plastic bag. A policeman

arrived with Fortuna, who was asked how much Ram gave them, to which Fortuna replied "P10,000.00." He got mad at Fortuna and cursed him for telling such a lie. After two (2) days, he was brought to Camp Karingal still blindfolded. He was again tortured for two (2) days, the policemen forcing him to admit he participated in the killing of Col. Abadilla. When he could no longer bear the torture, he finally admitted to Insp. Castillo that he took part in the Abadilla ambush-slay. When the one (1) interviewing him asked how he did it, he just said that Fortuna came to his house with an owner-type jeep and two (2) other persons, and that they rode to Dau, Pampanga and headed to Tarlac, on their way to Ilocos to kill Abadilla. Insp. Castillo got angry, saying that he was just fooling them and he was again hit.96
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Rameses continued to narrate that after two (2) or three (3) days' stay at Camp Karingal, he and the other accused were presented at a press conference. During the inquest conducted by Fiscal Refuerzo, he saw Freddie Alejo for the first time, and also his co-accused Lumanog, Fortuna, Lorenzo, Joel and Augusto. As far as he knew, they had brought the matter of the torture they suffered in the hands of policemen to the DOJ.97
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On cross-examination, Rameses was shown a medical certificate issued by Dr. Servillano B. Ritualo III at the PNP General Hospital, Camp Crame, but he said he could no longer remember the date he was examined by said doctor. He confirmed that Fortuna was renting a room in his house together with his mistress "Baby." When confronted with his Sinumpaang Salaysay dated June 26, 1996 he executed before the CHR, he admitted that there was no mention therein of their treasure-hunting trip to Pampanga on June 12 to 15, 1996. He said he was never asked about it. He likewise admitted that he was included in the kidnapping charge filed in Mabalacat, but asserted that it was trumped-up ("Ipinatong po sa akin yan ni Col. Baluyot"). 98
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The Trial Court's Verdict On August 11, 1999, the trial court promulgated a Joint Decision dated July 30, 1999, the dispositive portion of which reads:
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ACCORDINGLY, judgment is hereby rendered as follows: xxx V. In Criminal Case No. Q-96-66684, for Murder,:
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1. Accused Arturo Napolitano y Caburnay is hereby ACQUITTED; 2. Accused SPO2 Cesar Fortuna y Abudo, Rameses de Jesus y Calma, Leonardo Lumanog y Luistro (a.k.a. Leonido or Lenido), Joel de Jesus y Valdez, and Augusto Santos y Galang are hereby found GUILTY beyond reasonable doubt as co-principals of the crime of MURDER as defined and penalized in the Revised Penal Code for the death of ex-Col. Rolando Abadilla y Nolasco with the aggravating circumstances of treachery (absorbing abuse of superior strength) and evident premeditation and they are hereby sentenced to suffer the penalty of DEATH; 3. Accused Lorenzo delos Santos y dela Cruz is hereby ACQUITTED. On the civil aspect, accused SPO2 Cesar Fortuna y Abudo, Rameses de Jesus y Calma, Leonardo Lumanog y Luistron (a.k.a. Leonido or Lenido), Joel de Jesus y Valdez and Augusto Santos y Galang are hereby ordered jointly and solidarily to pay the heirs of the deceased ex-Col. Rolando Abadilla y Nolasco the following:
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1. As actual damages, the sum of P294,058.86;

2. As indemnity damages, the sum of P50,000.00; 3. As moral damages, the sum of P500,000.00; 4. As exemplary damages, the sum of P500,000.00. The firearm, one (1) Smith & Wesson .38 caliber revolver with Serial No. 980974, subject of Case No. Q-96-66680 is hereby ordered returned to Lorenzo delos Santos y dela Cruz. The firearm, one (1) Amscor .38 caliber revolver with Serial No. 21907, subject of Case No. Q-9666683 is hereby ordered forwarded to the PNP Firearms and Explosives Division, Camp Crame, Quezon City for safekeeping in accordance with law and as said firearm belongs and is licensed to accused Leonardo Lumanog y Luistro (a.k.a. Leonido or Lenido) who has been sentenced in Case No. Q-96-66684 for Murder, until further orders from this court. Costs against the accused. Let the entire records of these cases be transmitted forthwith to the Honorable Supreme Court for automatic review, in accordance with law and the Rules of Court. SO ORDERED.99
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The trial court was firmly convinced that the prosecution succeeded in establishing the identities of accused Joel, Rameses, Lumanog, Fortuna and Augusto as the perpetrators in the fatal shooting of Abadilla in the morning of June 13, 1996. It found that both security guards Alejo and Herbas confirmed the presence of Joel de Jesus in the crime scene. However, with respect to the positive identification of all the five (5) accused, namely, Joel de Jesus, Rameses de Jesus, Cesar Fortuna, Lenido Lumanog and Augusto Santos, the trial court gave more credence to the testimony of Alejo than the declaration on the witness stand of Herbas who had backtracked on his earlier statement dated June 21, 1996 wherein he pointed to Joel as one (1) of those participants in the shooting incident. In doubting the credibility of Herbas, the trial court stressed that Herbas was obviously disgruntled at the Abadilla family's failure to give him the promised salary, and circumstances showed that his need for job and money colored his perception and attitude in testifying for the defense. Moreover, despite the impression he had given to the police and the Abadilla family that he could identify the four (4) persons who surrounded Col. Abadilla's car, Herbas could not have really been able to recognize the faces of the ambushers for three (3) reasons: (1) he was on the ground when he turned his head (lumingon) towards where the gunshots were being fired and quite a lot of vehicles in traffic stopped at the time; (2) the whole incident, as far as Herbas observed, happened in seconds only; and (3) Herbas was three (3) Meralco posts away from the ambush site. All these factors combined, according to the trial court, could not have given Herbas enough time and opportunity to clearly see those who ambushed Abadilla, and hence he was really a poor and inadequate witness either for the prosecution or the defense.100
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Compared to Herbas, the trial court found the eyewitness testimony of Alejo more credible due to his elevated position at his guard post and the fact that the ambush had taken place before his very eyes, so near that one (1) of the conspirators had to order him to lie flat (which obviously he could not do because of the narrow space inside his guard house), and which appeared to be the reason why a second order came for him to get down from the guard house, to which he nervously complied. From his vantage point, Alejo sufficiently and in a detailed manner recognized the relative positions and participations of the ambushers, each of whom he had identified as Rameses, Fortuna, Lumanog, Augusto and Joel, both in the police line-up and again inside the courtroom during the trial.101
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The trial court also found that the statements of Joel, in which he admitted his participation in the crime assisted by Atty. Sansano and in the presence of the IBP personnel and police investigators,

were not flawed by intimidation or violence when obtained and sworn to before the fiscal. The common defense of alibi put up by all the accused was rejected by the trial court, holding that (1) the alleged treasure-hunting trip made by Lumanog and Rameses was incredible and unpersuasive, as it was contrary to ordinary human experience; (2) Fortuna's claim was weak, the logbook entry on his supposed transaction in the Office of the Directorate for Personnel and Recruitment at Camp Crame was a mere photocopy, and also, as in the case of Rameses, he never mentioned such digging activity in Pampanga in the sworn complaint he had filed before the CHR; (3) Augusto's alibi was supported only by his brother-in-law, and it was simply not usual for menfolk, instead of women, in our family culture, to fetch a woman who had just given birth at the hospital, aside from the observation that Augusto could have gone straight to Fabella Hospital in Sta. Cruz, Manila instead of going first to Buendia, Makati before 7:00 a.m. to fetch his brother-in-law. With respect to Lumanog, the trial court pointed out that his silence and failure to testify in court, despite the evidence implicating him in the murder of Abadilla, justified an inference that he was not innocent.102
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On August 25, 1999, Lumanog filed a motion for reconsideration.103 On September 2, 1999, Joel filed a motion for new trial based on newly discovered evidence to present two witnesses, Merevic S. Torrefranca and Rosemarie P. Caguioa, who offered to testify on the whereabouts of Joel on the day of the incident.104 Lumanog likewise filed a motion for new trial for the presentation of a new witness, who was allegedly on board a taxi immediately behind Abadilla's car, and who clearly saw that those who perpetrated the gruesome crime were not the accused.105 In his Supplement to the Motion for Reconsideration, Lumanog assailed the inconsistencies in the declarations of Alejo, and the nonpresentation of eyewitnesses Minella Alarcon and Metro Aide Aurora Urbano. In addition, Lumanog pointed to well-publicized statements of the Alex Boncayao Brigade (ABB), which claimed responsibility for the killing of Abadilla, but the investigation got sidetracked by another angle -- that a political rival of Abadilla paid money for a contract assassination. He contended that the police opted for the path of least resistance by rounding up the usual suspects, indeed another glaring example of our law enforcers' strategy of instituting trumped-up charges against innocent people just to comply with their superior's directive to accelerate solving an ambush-slay case.106 In additional pleadings filed by his new counsel, Lumanog reiterated the ABB's assassination theory in the light of more recent press statements issued by said group describing the accused as mere fall guys of the police to project an image of efficiency.107
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On January 25, 2000, the trial court issued an Order ruling on the pending motions: WHEREFORE, premises considered, the court resolves:
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1. to DENY the Motion for Reconsideration by accused Lenido Lumanog; 2. to DENY the Motion for New Trial by accused Joel de Jesus; 3. to consider the Motion for New Trial by accused Lenido Lumanog as abandoned and/or withdrawn; 4. to DENY the Supplement to the Motion for Reconsideration by accused Lenido Lumanog as well as his addendum thereto and his Manifestation and Motion dated December 15, 1999 to allow him to introduce additional evidence in support of his Supplement to the Motion for Reconsideration; 5. to DENY the Manifestation and Submission dated December 14, 1999 by accused Lenido Lumanog; 6. and to ORDER the immediate transmittal of the records of these cases to the Honorable Supreme Court for automatic review pursuant to law, the Rules of Court and the Joint Decision of this court dated July 30, 1999. SO ORDERED.108
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On January 19, 2000, Fr. Roberto P. Reyes, parish priest of the Parish of the Holy Sacrifice, University of the Philippines at Diliman, Quezon City, assisted by Atty. Neri J. Colmenares, filed an "Urgent Independent Motion for Leave of Court to Present Vital Evidence." Fr. Reyes claimed that an ABB personality came to him confessing that the ABB was responsible for the killing of Abadilla and gave him an object (Omega gold wristwatch) taken from said victim, which can be presented as evidence in this case to prove the innocence of the accused who were erroneously convicted by the trial court and save them from the penalty of death.109
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After due hearing, the trial court denied the said motion of Fr. Reyes, holding that the latter's proposed testimony could not be considered an exception to the hearsay rule, considering that: (1) it cannot be said that the person who allegedly approached Fr. Reyes was unable to testify, as said person was simply unwilling to face in a court of law the legal consequences of whatever admissions he made to Fr. Reyes; (2) the alleged admission was made long after trial had ended and long after the court had promulgated its decision, at which time the public and persons interested in the outcome of the case knew already what were the court's findings and conclusions of fact; and (3) going by the advertised image of the ABB as an ideologically motivated group that would shoot to death public officers and private individuals perceived by its ranking cadres as corrupt, the court found it hard to believe that ABB gunman would in full view of idealist comrades and everybody else, would open Abadilla's car and steal that watch, and remain unscathed for his unproletarian act by his peers in the organization.110 The trial court, however, ordered that the Omega wristwatch allegedly belonging to the late Col. Abadilla, the copy of the motion for leave to present vital evidence and the transcript of the proceedings on January 26, 2000 be attached to the records of the case as part of the offer of proof of the defense.
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Two (2) more pleadings were filed by Lumanog's counsel just before the records of Criminal Case No. Q-96-66684 were transmitted to this Court for automatic review, namely, a Final Submission to This Court dated February 8, 2000, together with an attached copy of the letter of Lt. Gen Jose M. Calimlim of the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) Intelligence Service regarding an unsuccessful operation of the ABB to kill Col. Abadilla, and Final Manifestation to This Court dated February 9, 2000. 111
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Lumanog challenged before this Court the validity of the Orders dated January 25, 26, and 28, 2000 allegedly issued with grave abuse of discretion on the part of the trial judge who thereby denied the accused the opportunity to introduce evidence on the alleged role of the ABB in the ambush-slay of Col. Abadilla. On September 7, 2001, we denied his petition for certiorari in G.R. No. 142065,112 as we thus held:
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A perusal of the pieces of evidence, except the Omega wristwatch, which are sought to be presented by the petitioners in a new trial are not newly discovered evidence because they were either available and could have been presented by the defense during the trial of the case with the exercise of due diligence, such as the alleged newspaper reports and AFP/PNP intelligence materials on Col. Abadilla. The wristwatch allegedly belonging to the late Col. Abadilla is immaterial to the case of murder while the testimony of F. Roberto Reyes on the turn over of the said wristwatch by an alleged member of the ABB who purportedly knows certain facts about the killing of Col. Abadilla would be hearsay without the testimony in court of the said alleged member of the ABB. The document which granted amnesty to Wilfredo Batongbakal is irrelevant to the killing of Col. Abadilla inasmuch as Batongbakal does not appear privy to the actual commission of the crime of murder in the case at bar. If at all, those pieces of additional evidence will at most be merely corroborative to the defense of alibi and denial of herein petitioners. Petitioners' alternative prayer that this Court "itself conduct hearings and receive evidence on the ABB angle" is not well taken for the reason that the Supreme Court is not a trier of facts.113
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Accused-petitioner's motion for reconsideration of the above decision was denied with finality on November 20, 2001.114 On September 17, 2002, this Court likewise denied for lack of merit the motion for new trial and related relief dated April 26, 2002 filed by counsel for said accusedpetitioner.115
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Pursuant to our decision in People v. Mateo,116 this case was transferred to the Court of Appeals for intermediate review on January 18, 2005.117
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Ruling of the CA On April 1, 2008, the CA rendered the assailed decision, thus:
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WHEREFORE, in the light of the foregoing, the impugned decision is AFFIRMED with the MODIFICATION that the accused-appellants are sentenced each to suffer reclusion perpetua without the benefit of parole. In all other respects, the lower court's decision is AFFIRMED. Costs against appellants. SO ORDERED.118
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The CA upheld the conviction of the accused-appellants based on the credible eyewitness testimony of Alejo, who vividly recounted before the trial court their respective positions and participation in the fatal shooting of Abadilla, having been able to witness closely how they committed the crime. On the sufficiency of prosecution evidence to establish appellants' guilt beyond reasonable doubt and the scant weight of their defense of alibi, as well as the allegations of torture and intimidation in the hands of the police investigator and negative results of ballistic and fingerprint tests, the CA ruled as follows:
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Despite a lengthy and exhaustive cross-examination by the defense counsel, eyewitness Alejo stuck to the essentials of his story, including the identification of the persons who killed Col. Abadilla. He was only ten (10) meters away from the locus crimini. Standing on an elevated guardhouse, he had a close and unobstructed view of the whole incident. He was in a vantage position to clearly recognize Col. Abadilla's assailants, more so because the crime happened in clear and broad daylight. Even standing alone, Alejo's positive and unequivocal declaration is sufficient to support a conviction for murder against appellants. Indeed, the testimony of a single witness, when positive and credible, is sufficient to support a conviction even for murder. For there is no law requiring that the testimony of a simple [sic] witness should be corroborated for it to be accorded full faith and credit. The credible testimony of a lone witness(es) assumes more weight when there is no showing that he was actuated by improper motive to testify falsely against the accused, as in the case of Freddie Alejo. xxx .appellants failed to prove that it was physically impossible for them to be at the locus delicti or within its immediate vicinity at the time the crime was committed. In the case of Joel de Jesus, he maintains that he was driving his tricycle on a special chartered trip for a passenger going to Roosevelt, Novalichez, Quezon City. But, it was not impossible for him to have also gone to Katipunan Avenue, which is also part of Quezon City; not to mention the fact that with his tricycle, he could have easily moved from one place to another. The testimonies of Rameses de Jesus and Leonido Lumanog that they were treasure hunting in Mabalacat, Pampanga on the day in question, lack credence as they are unsupported by the testimonies of independent witnesses. At any rate, Rameses de Jesus admitted that they were using the new car of Leonido Lumanog. Hence, it was not physically impossible for them to travel to Quezon City via the North Expressway at the time the crime took place.

Augusto claims that he was at the Fabella Hospital in Sta. Cruz, Manila, and his alibi was corroborated by his brother-in-law, Jonas Padel Ayhon, who is not an impartial witness. Where nothing supports the alibi except the testimony of a relative, it deserves scant consideration. xxx Finally, Cesar Fortuna claims that he was in Camp Crame on the day the murder took place. But it was not impossible for him to have gone to Katipunan Road, Blue Ridge, which is relatively near Camp Crame when the shooting happened around 8:40 in the morning. After the shooting, he could have easily and quickly transferred to Camp Crame between 9:00 and 9:30 in the morning of the same day. In any event, appellants' alibis were belied by the positive identification made by prosecution eyewitness Freddie Alejo. xxx Further, appellants' allegations that the police authorities maltreated them, and forcibly extracted their extra-judicial confessions do not exculpate them from criminal liability. For one, their conviction was not based on their extra-judicial confessions, but on their positive identification of Freddie Alejo as the authors of the crime. Such positive identification is totally independent of their extra-judicial confessions. For another, the Constitutional guarantees contained in the Bill of Rights cannot be used as a shield whereby a person guilty of a crime may escape punishment. Thus, the Supreme Court in Draculan vs. Donato, held:
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"x x x. Pangalawa, ang mga karapatan ng mga mamamayan na natatala sa Saligang Batas (sa Bill of Rights) ay hindi mga paraan upang ang isang tunay na may pagkakasala na labag sa batas, ay makaligtas sa nararapat na pagdurusa. Ang tunay na layunin ng mga tadhanang iyon ng Saligang Batas ay walang iba kundi tiyakin na sinumang nililitis ay magkaroon ng sapat na pagkakataon at paraan na maipagtanggol ang sarili, bukod sa pagbabawal ng pagtanggap ng katibayan (evidence) laban sa kanya na bunga ng pagpipilit, dahas at iba pang paraang labag sa kanyang kalooban." To repeat, assuming that appellants' allegations of torture were true, the same do not exculpate them from liability for the crime which the People had adequately established by independent evidence, neither was their claim that the results of the ballistics test purportedly showing that the bullets and bullet shells found in the crime scene did not match with any of the firearms supposedly in their possession. But these ballistic results are inconclusive and can never prevail over appellants' positive identification by eyewitness Freddie Alejo as the persons who perpetrated the ambush-slay of Col. Abadilla. Besides, there is no showing that the firearms supposedly found in appellants' possession long after the incident were the same ones they used in the ambush-slay.119
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In its Resolution120 dated October 28, 2008, the CA denied the motions for reconsideration respectively filed by Fortuna and Joel de Jesus.121
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Rameses de Jesus and Joel de Jesus filed notices of appeal122 (G.R. No. 187745), while Fortuna (G.R. No. 185123), and Lumanog and Augusto Santos (G.R. No. 182555) filed their respective petitions for review. On August 6, 2009, G.R. No. 187745 was ordered consolidated with the already consolidated petitions in G.R. Nos. 182555 and 185123.123 In view of the judgment of the CA imposing the penalty of reclusion perpetua, said petitions for review are treated as appeals, in accordance with A.M. No. 005-03-SC (Amendments to the Revised Rules of Criminal Procedure to Govern Death Penalty Cases)124 which provides under Rule 124 (c):
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(c) In cases where the Court of Appeals imposes reclusion perpetua, life imprisonment or a lesser penalty, it shall render and enter judgment imposing such penalty. The judgment may be appealed to the Supreme Court by notice of appeal filed with the Court of Appeals. Appellants' Arguments

Lenido Lumanog and Augusto Santos set forth the following arguments in their memorandum, which basically reflect the same issues raised by appellants in the memorandum filed in G.R. No. 182555: 1. The Court of Appeals did not make a real and honest review of the appealed case. There was a failure of appellate review, rendering its decision void. 2. The affirmation of the conviction over-relies on the testimony of one alleged eyewitness, Freddie Alejo. 3. The affirmation of the conviction misappreciates the alibi evidence for the defense.

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4. The affirmation of conviction gravely erred when it unduly disregarded other pieces of vital evidence. 5. The penalty imposed by the Court of Appeals is unconstitutional.125 On his part, Fortuna alleges that:
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I. The Honorable Court of Appeals committed serious error and gravely abused its discretion when it affirmed the conviction of the petitioner and his co-accused based solely on the incredible and contradicted eyewitness account of Security Guard (S/G) Alejo. II. The Honorable Court of Appeals seriously erred and gravely abused its discretion in not considering the defense of petitioner herein despite the weakness of the evidence of the prosecution. III. The Honorable Court seriously erred in favoring the prosecution on the ballistic test showing that the bullets and bullet shells found in the crime scene did not match with any firearms supposedly in petitioner's possession; evidence which was supposed to support the theory of the prosecution. When such physical evidence did not favor the prosecution's theory the same was still taken against the petitioner. IV. The Honorable Court of Appeals seriously erred in disregarding allegations and proof of torture and maltreatment by police officers against the petitioner in affirming his conviction.126
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Appellants assail the wholesale adoption, if not verbatim copying, by the CA of the factual narration, as well as the arguments for and disposition of the merits of the case from the Consolidated Brief for the Appellees, which in turn is based on the memorandum submitted by the private prosecutors to the trial court. This anomaly, according to the appellants, which was aggravated by the insufficient findings of fact and absence of actual discussion of the assignment of errors raised by each appellant before the CA, resulted in the failure of intermediate review without any independent findings and resolution of important issues of the case, thus rendering the CA decision void. Hence, appellants seek not just to overturn or reverse the CA decision but also to declare it null and void, by way of "radical relief" from this Court. On the merits, appellants principally contend that the CA gravely erred in its over-reliance on the problematic identification provided by the prosecution's lone eyewitness, security guard Alejo. The CA simply did not rule on questions concerning the credibility of said eyewitness through the "totality of circumstances" test. They also fault the CA for misappreciating their common defense of alibi, thus disregarding exculpatory documentary evidence including negative results of ballistic and fingerprint examinations, and evidence of torture which appellants had suffered in the hands of police investigators. Equally deplorable is the trial and appellate courts' refusal to admit evidence coming from underground revolutionary forces, in particular the ABB which claimed responsibility for the killing of Col. Abadilla, a notorious military henchman during the martial law era. Appellants maintain

that violations of constitutional rights have been held as a ground for acquittal or dismissal in certain cases. In one (1) case, the long delay in the termination of preliminary investigation was found to be violative of the accused's constitutional rights to procedural due process and speedy disposition of cases and was cause for the dismissal of the case by this Court as a matter of "radical relief." Finally, the appellants argue that the penalty of reclusion perpetua "without the benefit of parole" meted by the CA pursuant to Sec. 3 of R.A. No. 9346 is unconstitutional. Article III, Section 19 (1) of the 1987 Constitution provides that "any death penalty imposed shall be reduced to reclusion perpetua." There is no mention of "without the benefit of parole" or "shall not be eligible for parole" therein. Appellants contend that the questioned provisions of R.A. No. 9346 constitute encroachments or dilutions of the President's broad, if not near absolute, constitutional power of executive clemency, based not only on Article VII, Sec. 19, but also on constitutional tradition and jurisprudence. Although the said section does not explicitly mention "parole" as a form of executive clemency, constitutional tradition and jurisprudence indicate it to be such. In Tesoro v. Director of Prisons,127 for instance, it was held that the power to pardon given to the President by the Constitution includes the power to grant and revoke paroles. The aforesaid provision of R.A. No. 9346 also inflicts an inhuman punishment, which is prohibited by the Constitution, and also violates the equal protection clause of the Bill of Rights.
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Our Ruling Once again, this Court upholds the constitutional mandate protecting the rights of persons under custodial investigation. But while we strike down the extrajudicial confession extracted in violation of constitutionally enshrined rights and declare it inadmissible in evidence, appellants are not entitled to an acquittal because their conviction was not based on the evidence obtained during such custodial investigation. Even without the extrajudicial confession of appellant Joel de Jesus who was the first to have been arrested, the trial court's judgment is affirmed, as the testimonial and documentary evidence on record have established the guilt of appellants beyond reasonable doubt. CA Decision meets the constitutional standard The Constitution commands that "[n]o decision shall be rendered by any court without expressing therein clearly and distinctly the facts and the law on which it is based."128 Judges are expected to make complete findings of fact in their decisions and scrutinize closely the legal aspects of the case in the light of the evidence presented. They should avoid the tendency to generalize and form conclusions without detailing the facts from which such conclusions are deduced. 129
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Section 2, Rule 120 of the 1985 Rules on Criminal Procedure, as amended, likewise provides:
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Sec. 2. Form and contents of judgments. - - The judgment must be written in the official language, personally and directly prepared by the judge and signed by him and shall contain clearly and distinctly a statement of the facts proved or admitted by the accused and the law upon which the judgment is based. xxx xxx x x x [Emphasis supplied.]

We have sustained decisions of lower courts as having substantially or sufficiently complied with the constitutional injunction, notwithstanding the laconic and terse manner in which they were written; and even if "there (was left) much to be desired in terms of (their) clarity, coherence and comprehensibility," provided that they eventually set out the facts and the law on which they were based, as when they stated the legal qualifications of the offense constituted by the facts proved, the modifying circumstances, the participation of the accused, the penalty imposed and the civil liability; or discussed the facts comprising the elements of the offense that was charged in the information, and accordingly rendered a verdict and imposed the corresponding penalty; or quoted the facts narrated in

the prosecution's memorandum, but made their own findings and assessment of evidence, before finally agreeing with the prosecution's evaluation of the case.130
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In the same vein, we have expressed concern over the possible denial of due process when an appellate court failed to provide the appeal the attention it rightfully deserved, thus depriving the appellant of a fair opportunity to be heard by a fair and responsible magistrate. This situation becomes more ominous in criminal cases, as in this case, where not only property rights are at stake but also the liberty if not the life of a human being.131 The parties to a litigation should be informed of how it was decided, with an explanation of the factual and legal reasons that led to the conclusions of the trial court. The losing party is entitled to know why he lost, so he may appeal to the higher court, if permitted, should he believe that the decision should be reversed. A decision that does not clearly and distinctly state the facts and the law on which it is based leaves the parties in the dark as to how it was reached and is precisely prejudicial to the losing party, who is unable to pinpoint the possible errors of the court for review by a higher tribunal.132
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In Bank of the Philippine Islands v. Leobrera,133 we held that though it is not a good practice, we see nothing illegal in the act of the trial court completely copying the memorandum submitted by a party, provided that the decision clearly and distinctly states sufficient findings of fact and the law on which they are based.134 In another case where we upheld the validity of memorandum decisions, we nevertheless took occasion to remind judges that it is still desirable for an appellate judge to endeavor to make the issues clearer and use his own perceptiveness in unraveling the rollo and his own discernment in discovering the law. No less importantly, he must use his own language in laying down his judgment.135
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Perusing the CA decision, we hold that it cannot be deemed constitutionally infirm, as it clearly stated the facts and law on which the ruling was based, and while it did not specifically address each and every assigned error raised by appellants, it cannot be said that the appellants were left in the dark as to how the CA reached its ruling affirming the trial court's judgment of conviction. The principal arguments raised in their Memorandum submitted before this Court actually referred to the main points of the CA rulings, such as the alleged sufficiency of prosecution evidence, their common defense of alibi, allegations of torture, probative value of ballistic and fingerprint test results, circumstances qualifying the offense and modification of penalty imposed by the trial court. What appellants essentially assail is the verbatim copying by the CA of not only the facts narrated, but also the arguments and discussion including the legal authorities, in disposing of the appeal. On such wholesale adoption of the Office of the Solicitor General's position, as well as the trial court's insufficient findings of fact, appellants anchor their claim of failure of intermediate review by the CA. We now proceed to the other substantive issues presented by appellants. Rights of Accused During Custodial Investigation The rights of persons under custodial investigation are enshrined in Article III, Section 12 of the 1987 Constitution, which provides:
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Sec. 12 (1) Any person under investigation for the commission of an offense shall have the right to be informed of his right to remain silent and to have competent and independent counsel preferably of his own choice. If the person cannot afford the services of counsel, he must be provided with one. These rights cannot be waived except in writing and in the presence of counsel. (2) No torture, force, violence, threat, intimidation or any other means which vitiate the free will shall be used against him. Secret detention places, solitary, incommunicado, or other similar forms of detention are prohibited. (3) Any confession or admission obtained in violation of this or section 17 hereof (right against self-incrimination) shall be inadmissible in evidence against him.

(4) The law shall provide for penal and civil sanctions for violation of this section as well as compensation for the rehabilitation of victims of tortures or similar practices, and their families. [Emphasis supplied.] Extrajudicial Confession of Joel de Jesus Not Valid Custodial investigation refers to the critical pre-trial stage when the investigation is no longer a general inquiry into an unsolved crime, but has begun to focus on a particular person as a suspect.136 Police officers claimed that appellants were apprehended as a result of "hot pursuit" activities on the days following the ambush-slay of Abadilla. There is no question, however, that when appellants were arrested they were already considered suspects: Joel was pinpointed by security guard Alejo who went along with the PARAC squad to Fairview on June 19, 1996, while the rest of appellants were taken by the same operatives in follow-up operations after Joel provided them with the identities of his conspirators and where they could be found.
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R.A. No. 7438,137 approved on May 15, 1992, has reinforced the constitutional mandate protecting the rights of persons under custodial investigation. The pertinent provisions read:
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SEC. 2. Rights of Persons Arrested, Detained or under Custodial Investigation; Duties of Public Officers.a. Any person arrested, detained or under custodial investigation shall at all times be assisted by counsel. b. Any public officer or employee, or anyone acting under his order or his place, who arrests, detains or investigates any person for the commission of an offense shall inform the latter, in a language known to and understood by him, of his rights to remain silent and to have competent and independent counsel, preferably of his own choice, who shall at all times be allowed to confer private with the person arrested, detained or under custodial investigation. If such person cannot afford the services of his own counsel, he must be provided by with a competent and independent counsel. xxx f. As used in this Act, "custodial investigation" shall include the practice of issuing an "invitation" to a person who is investigated in connection with an offense he is suspected to have committed, without prejudice to the liability of the "inviting" officer for any violation of law. [Emphasis supplied.] Police officers claimed that upon arresting Joel, they informed him of his constitutional rights to remain silent, that any information he would give could be used against him, and that he had the right to a competent and independent counsel, preferably, of his own choice, and if he cannot afford the services of counsel he will be provided with one (1). However, since these rights can only be waived in writing and with the assistance of counsel, there could not have been such a valid waiver by Joel, who was presented to Atty. Sansano at the IBP Office, Quezon City Hall only the following day and stayed overnight at the police station before he was brought to said counsel.
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P/Insp. Castillo admitted that the initial questioning of Joel began in the morning of June 20, 1996, the first time said suspect was presented to him at the CPDC station, even before he was brought to the IBP Office for the taking of his formal statement. Thus, the possibility of appellant Joel having been subjected to intimidation or violence in the hands of police investigators as he claims, cannot be discounted. The constitutional requirement obviously had not been observed. Settled is the rule that the moment a police officer tries to elicit admissions or confessions or even plain information from a suspect, the latter should, at that juncture, be assisted by counsel, unless he waives this right in writing and in the presence of counsel.138 The purpose of providing counsel to a person under custodial investigation is to curb the police-state practice of extracting a confession that leads appellant to make self-incriminating statements.139
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Even assuming that custodial investigation started only during Joel's execution of his statement before Atty. Sansano on June 20, 1996, still the said confession must be invalidated. To be acceptable, extrajudicial confessions must conform to constitutional requirements. A confession is not valid and not admissible in evidence when it is obtained in violation of any of the rights of persons under custodial investigation.140
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Since Joel was provided with a lawyer secured by CPDC investigators from the IBP-Quezon City chapter, it cannot be said that his right to a counsel "preferably of his own choice" was not complied with, particularly as he never objected to Atty. Sansano when the latter was presented to him to be his counsel for the taking down of his statement. The phrase "preferably of his own choice" does not convey the message that the choice of a lawyer by a person under investigation is exclusive as to preclude other equally competent and independent attorneys from handling the defense; otherwise the tempo of custodial investigation would be solely in the hands of the accused who can impede, nay, obstruct the progress of the interrogation by simply selecting a lawyer who, for one reason or another, is not available to protect his interest.141 Thus, while the choice of a lawyer in cases where the person under custodial interrogation cannot afford the services of counsel - or where the preferred lawyer is not available - is naturally lodged in the police investigators, the suspect has the final choice, as he may reject the counsel chosen for him and ask for another one. A lawyer provided by the investigators is deemed engaged by the accused when he does not raise any objection against the counsel's appointment during the course of the investigation, and the accused thereafter subscribes to the veracity of the statement before the swearing officer.142
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The question really is whether or not Atty. Sansano was an independent and competent counsel as to satisfy the constitutional requirement. We held that the modifier competent and independent in the 1987 Constitution is not an empty rhetoric. It stresses the need to accord the accused, under the uniquely stressful conditions of a custodial investigation, an informed judgment on the choices explained to him by a diligent and capable lawyer.143 An effective and vigilant counsel necessarily and logically requires that the lawyer be present and able to advise and assist his client from the time the confessant answers the first question asked by the investigating officer until the signing of the extrajudicial confession. Moreover, the lawyer should ascertain that the confession is made voluntarily and that the person under investigation fully understands the nature and the consequence of his extrajudicial confession in relation to his constitutional rights. A contrary rule would undoubtedly be antagonistic to the constitutional rights to remain silent, to counsel and to be presumed innocent. 144
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Atty. Sansano, who supposedly interviewed Joel and assisted the latter while responding to questions propounded by SPO2 Garcia, Jr., did not testify on whether he had properly discharged his duties to said client. While SPO2 Garcia, Jr. testified that Atty. Sansano had asked Joel if he understood his answers to the questions of the investigating officer and sometimes stopped Joel from answering certain questions, SPO2 Garcia, Jr. did not say if Atty. Sansano, in the first place, verified from them the date and time of Joel's arrest and the circumstances thereof, or any previous information elicited from him by the investigators at the station, and if said counsel inspected Joel's body for any sign or mark of physical torture. The right to counsel has been written into our Constitution in order to prevent the use of duress and other undue influence in extracting confessions from a suspect in a crime. The lawyer's role cannot be reduced to being that of a mere witness to the signing of a pre-prepared confession, even if it indicated compliance with the constitutional rights of the accused. The accused is entitled to effective, vigilant and independent counsel.145 Where the prosecution failed to discharge the State's burden of proving with clear and convincing evidence that the accused had enjoyed effective and vigilant counsel before he extrajudicially admitted his guilt, the extrajudicial confession cannot be given any probative value.146
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With respect to the other appellants, they were likewise entitled to the rights guaranteed by the Constitution when they were brought to the police station as suspects and were, therefore under custodial investigation.147 However, they cannot simply rely on those violations of constitutional rights during custodial investigation, which are relevant only when the conviction of the accused by the trial court is based on the evidence obtained during such investigation.148 As for the matters stated in the
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extrajudicial confession of appellant Joel, these were not the basis for appellants' conviction. It has to be stressed further that no confession or statement by appellants Fortuna, Lumanog, Augusto and Rameses was used as evidence by the prosecution at the trial. After a thorough and careful review, we hold that there exists sufficient evidence on record to sustain appellants' conviction even without the extrajudicial confession of appellant Joel de Jesus. Allegations of Torture and Intimidation The Court notes with utmost concern the serious allegations of torture of appellants who were dubbed by the media as the "Abadilla 5." This was brought by appellants before the CHR which, in its Resolution dated July 26, 1996, did not make any categorical finding of physical violence inflicted on the appellants by the police authorities. The CHR, however, found prima facie evidence that respondent police officers could have violated R.A. No. 7438, particularly on visitorial rights and the right to counsel, including the law on arbitrary detention, and accordingly forwarded its resolution together with records of the case to the Secretary of Justice, Secretary of the Department of Interior and Local Government, the PNP Director General and the Ombudsman to file the appropriate criminal and/or administrative actions against the person or persons responsible for violating the human rights of the suspects as the evidence may warrant.149 As per the manifestation of appellants, the DOJ, after conducting a preliminary investigation, referred the matter to the Ombudsman in 2004. As of July 2007, the case before the Ombudsman docketed as OMB-P-C-04-1269/CPL-C-04-1965 was "still pending preliminary investigation.150
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Right to Speedy Disposition of Cases Appellants further cite the comment made by the United Nations Human Rights Committee in its Communication No. 1466/2006 that under the circumstances, there was, insofar as the eight (8)-year delay in the disposition of their appeal in the CA was concerned, a violation of Article 14, paragraph 3 (c) of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (1966). It provides that in the determination of any criminal charge against him, everyone shall be entitled, as among the minimum guarantees provided therein, "to be tried without undue delay."151
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Section 16, Article III of the 1987 Constitution provides that "all persons shall have the right to a speedy disposition of their cases before all judicial, quasi-judicial, or administrative bodies."152 This protection extends to all citizens and covers the periods before, during and after trial, affording broader protection than Section 14(2), which guarantees merely the right to a speedy trial.153 However, just like the constitutional guarantee of "speedy trial," "speedy disposition of cases" is a flexible concept. It is consistent with delays and depends upon the circumstances. What the Constitution prohibits are unreasonable, arbitrary and oppressive delays, which render rights nugatory.154
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In this case, the records of Criminal Case No. Q-96-66684 were transmitted to this Court for automatic review on February 11, 2000. On September 7, 2001, this Court rendered a decision dismissing the Petition for Certiorari (Rule 65) and for Extraordinary Legal and Equitable Relief (G.R. No. 142065). By June 2004, all appeal briefs for the present review had been filed and on July 6, 2004, appellants filed a Consolidated Motion for Early Decision. On December 13, 2004, they filed a Motion for Early Decision.155
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By resolution of January 18, 2005, we transferred this case to the CA for intermediate review, conformably with our pronouncement in People v. Mateo decided on July 7, 2004. Appellants' Urgent Motion for Reconsideration of Transfer to the Court of Appeals filed on February 24, 2005 was denied on March 29, 2005. A similar request filed on June 2, 2005 was likewise denied by our Resolution dated July 12, 2005.156 At the CA, appellants also moved for early resolution of their appeal after the case was submitted for decision on November 29, 2006. The case remained unresolved due to a number of factors, such as the CA internal reorganization and inhibition of some Justices to whom the case was re-raffled.157 Before the retirement of the ponente, Justice Agustin S. Dizon, the CA's
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Sixteenth Division finally rendered its decision on April 1, 2008. Appellants' motion for reconsideration was denied by the Special Former Sixteenth Division on October 28, 2008. It must be stressed that in the determination of whether the right to speedy disposition of cases has been violated, particular regard must be taken of the facts and circumstances peculiar to each case. A mere mathematical reckoning of the time involved would not be sufficient.158 Under the circumstances, we hold that the delay of (4) four years during which the case remained pending with the CA and this Court was not unreasonable, arbitrary or oppressive.
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In several cases where it was manifest that due process of law or other rights guaranteed by the Constitution or statutes have been denied, this Court has not faltered to accord the so-called "radical relief" to keep accused from enduring the rigors and expense of a full-blown trial.159 In this case, however, appellants are not entitled to the same relief in the absence of clear and convincing showing that the delay in the resolution of their appeal was unreasonable or arbitrary.
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Credibility of Eyewitness Testimony Time and again, we have held that the testimony of a sole eyewitness is sufficient to support a conviction so long as it is clear, straightforward and worthy of credence by the trial court.160 Indeed, when it comes to credibility of witnesses, this Court accords the highest respect, even finality, to the evaluation made by the lower court of the testimonies of the witnesses presented before it. This holds true notwithstanding that it was another judge who presided at the trial and Judge Jaime N. Salazar, Jr. who penned the decision in this case heard only some witnesses for the defense. It is axiomatic that the fact alone that the judge who heard the evidence was not the one who rendered the judgment, but merely relied on the record of the case, does not render his judgment erroneous or irregular. This is so even if the judge did not have the fullest opportunity to weigh the testimonies, not having heard all the witnesses speak or observed their deportment and manner of testifying. 161
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Verily, a judge who was not present during the trial can rely on the transcript of stenographic notes taken during the trial as basis of his decision. Such reliance does not violate substantive and procedural due process.162 We have ruled in People v. Rayray163 that the fact that the judge who heard the evidence was not himself the one who prepared, signed and promulgated the decision constitutes no compelling reason to jettison his findings and conclusions, and does not per se render his decision void. The validity of a decision is not necessarily impaired by the fact that its ponente only took over from a colleague who had earlier presided at the trial. This circumstance alone cannot be the basis for the reversal of the trial court's decision.164
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In giving full credence to the eyewitness testimony of security guard Alejo, the trial judge took into account his proximity to the spot where the shooting occurred, his elevated position from his guardhouse, his opportunity to view frontally all the perpetrators for a brief time -- enough for him to remember their faces (when the two [2] lookouts he had earlier noticed walking back and forth infront of his guard post pointed their guns at him one [1] after the other, and later when the four [4] armed men standing around the victim's car momentarily looked at him as he was approached at the guardhouse by the second lookout), and his positive identification in the courtroom of appellants as the six (6) persons whom he saw acting together in the fatal shooting of Abadilla on June 13, 1996. The clear view that Alejo had at the time of the incident was verified by Judge Jose Catral Mendoza (now an Associate Justice of this Court) during the ocular inspection conducted in the presence of the prosecutors, defense counsel, court personnel, and witnesses Alejo and Maj. Villena. The trial judge also found that Alejo did not waver in his detailed account of how the assailants shot Abadilla who was inside his car, the relative positions of the gunmen and lookouts, and his opportunity to look at them in the face. Alejo immediately gave his statement before the police authorities just hours after the incident took place. Appellants make much of a few inconsistencies in his statement and testimony, with respect to the number of assailants and his reaction when he was ordered to get down in his guard post. But such inconsistencies have already been explained by Alejo during crossexamination by correcting his earlier statement in using number four (4) to refer to those persons actually standing around the car and two (2) more persons as lookouts, and that he got nervous only

when the second lookout shouted at him to get down, because the latter actually poked a gun at him. It is settled that affidavits, being ex-parte, are almost always incomplete and often inaccurate, but do not really detract from the credibility of witnesses.165 The discrepancies between a sworn statement and testimony in court do not outrightly justify the acquittal of an accused,166 as testimonial evidence carries more weight than an affidavit.167
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As to appellants' attempt to discredit Alejo by reason of the latter's acceptance of benefits from the Abadilla family, the same is puerile, considering that the trial court even verified for itself how Alejo could have witnessed the shooting incident and after he withstood intense grilling from defense lawyers. Case law has it that where there is no evidence that the principal witness for the prosecution was actuated by improper motive, the presumption is that he was not so actuated and his testimony is entitled to full faith and credit.168
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The trial judge also correctly rejected appellants' proposition that the eyewitness testimony of security guard Herbas should have been given due weight and that other eyewitnesses should have been presented by the prosecution, specifically Cesar Espiritu and Minella Alarcon, who allegedly had better opportunity to recognize Abadilla's attackers. As correctly pointed out by the trial judge, Herbas could not have really seen at close range the perpetrators from his position at a nearby building, which is several meters away from the ambush site, as confirmed by photographs submitted by the prosecution, which Herbas failed to refute. The same thing can be said of Espiritu who admitted in his Sinumpaang Salaysay that his car was ahead of the Honda Accord driven by Abadilla, and that he had already alighted from his car some houses away from the exact spot where Abadilla was ambushed while his car was in the stop position.169
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Positive Identification of Appellants Appellants assail the out-of-court identification made by Alejo who pointed to appellant Joel de Jesus and Lorenzo delos Santos in a line-up at the police station together with police officers. However, appellants' claim that the police officers who joined the line-up were actually in their police uniforms at the time, as to make the identification process suggestive and hence not valid, was unsubstantiated. In People v. Teehankee, Jr.,170 we explained the procedure for out-of-court identification and the test to determine the admissibility of such identification, thus:
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Out-of-court identification is conducted by the police in various ways. It is done thru show-ups where the suspect alone is brought face to face with the witness for identification. It is done thru mug shots where photographs are shown to the witness to identify the suspect. It is also done thru line-ups where a witness identifies the suspect from a group of persons lined up for the purpose. . . In resolving the admissibility of and relying on out-of-court identification of suspects, courts have adopted the totality of circumstances test where they consider the following factors, viz: (1) the witness' opportunity to view the criminal at the time of the crime; (2) the witness' degree of attention at that time; (3) the accuracy of any prior description given by the witness; (4) the level of certainty demonstrated by the witness at the identification; (5) the length of time between the crime and the identification; and, (6) the suggestiveness of the identification procedure.171 [Emphasis supplied.]
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Examining the records, we find nothing irregular in the identification made by Alejo at the police station for which he executed the Karagdagang Sinumpaang Salaysay dated June 21, 1996, during which he positively identified Joel de Jesus and Lorenzo delos Santos as those lookouts who had pointed their guns at him demanding that he buck down at his guardhouse. In any case, the trial court did not rely solely on said out-of-court identification considering that Alejo also positively identified appellants during the trial. Thus, even assuming arguendo that Alejo's out-of-court identification was tainted with irregularity, his subsequent identification in court cured any flaw that may have attended it.172 We have held that the inadmissibility of a police line-up identification should not necessarily foreclose the admissibility of an independent in-court identification.173
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We also found none of the danger signals enumerated by Patrick M. Wall, a well-known authority in eyewitness identification, which give warning that the identification may be erroneous even though the method used is proper. The danger signals contained in the list, which is not exhaustive, are:
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(1) the witness originally stated that he could not identify anyone; (2) the identifying witness knew the accused before the crime, but made no accusation against him when questioned by the police; (3) a serious discrepancy exists between the identifying witness' original description and the actual description of the accused; (4) before identifying the accused at the trial, the witness erroneously identified some other person; (5) other witnesses to the crime fail to identify the accused; (6) before trial, the witness sees the accused but fails to identify him; (7) before the commission of the crime, the witness had limited opportunity to see the accused; (8) the witness and the person identified are of different racial groups; (9) during his original observation of the perpetrator of the crime, the witness was unaware that a crime was involved; (10) a considerable time elapsed between the witness' view of the criminal and his identification of the accused; (11) several persons committed the crime; and (12) the witness fails to make a positive trial identification.174
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Appellants nonetheless point out the allegedly doubtful prior descriptions given by Alejo, who was able to describe the physical appearance of only two (2) suspects in his statement:
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Iyong tumutok sa akin ay naka-asul na t-shirt, edad 30-35, 5'5"-5'6" ang taas, katamtaman ang katawan, maikli ang buhok, kayumanggi. Ang baril niya ay tipong 45 o 9 mm na pistola. Iyong sumakal sa biktima at nang-agaw ng clutch bag nito ay 25-30 ang edad, payat, mahaba ang buhok na nakatali, maitim, may taas na 5'5"-5'6", maiksi din ang baril niya at naka-puting polo. Iyong iba ay maaring makilala ko kung makikita ko uli.175
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Appellants claimed that if Alejo was referring to appellant Joel de Jesus who pointed a gun at him, his description did not jibe at all since Joel de Jesus was just 22 years old and not 30-35 years of age, and who stands 5'9" and not 5'5"-5'6". And if indeed it was appellant Lenido Lumanog whom Alejo saw as the gunman who had grabbed the victim by the neck after opening the car's left front door, his description again failed because far from being "maitim," Lumanog was in fact fair-complexioned. We are not persuaded. Alejo positively identified Joel de Jesus in a line-up at the police station and again inside the courtroom as the first lookout who pointed a gun at him. Though his estimate of Joel's age was not precise, it was not that far from his true age, especially if we consider that being a tricycle driver who was exposed daily to sunlight, Joel's looks may give a first impression that he is older than his actual age. Moreover Alejo's description of Lumanog as dark-skinned was made two (2)

months prior to the dates of the trial when he was again asked to identify him in court. When defense counsel posed the question of the discrepancy in Alejo's description of Lumanog who was then presented as having a fair complexion and was 40 years old, the private prosecutor manifested the possible effect of Lumanog's incarceration for such length of time as to make his appearance different at the time of trial. Applying the totality-of-circumstances test, we thus reiterate that Alejo's out-court-identification is reliable, for reasons that, first, he was very near the place where Abadilla was shot and thus had a good view of the gunmen, not to mention that the two (2) lookouts directly approached him and pointed their guns at them; second, no competing event took place to draw his attention from the event; third, Alejo immediately gave his descriptions of at least two (2) of the perpetrators, while affirming he could possibly identify the others if he would see them again, and the entire happening that he witnessed; and finally, there was no evidence that the police had supplied or even suggested to Alejo that appellants were the suspects, except for Joel de Jesus whom he refused to just pinpoint on the basis of a photograph shown to him by the police officers, insisting that he would like to see said suspect in person. More importantly, Alejo during the trial had positively identified appellant Joel de Jesus independently of the previous identification made at the police station. Such in-court identification was positive, straightforward and categorical. Appellants contend that the subsequent acquittal of Lorenzo delos Santos, whom Alejo had categorically pointed to as one (1) of the two (2) men whom he saw walking to and fro infront of his guard post prior to the shooting incident, and as one (1) of the two (2) men who pointed a gun at him and ordered him to get down, totally destroyed said witness' credibility and eroded the trustworthiness of each and every uncorroborated testimony he gave in court. This assertion is untenable. A verdict of acquittal is immediately final; hence, we may no longer review the acquittal of accused Lorenzo delos Santos.176 However, the acquittal of their co-accused does not necessarily benefit the appellants. We have ruled that accused-appellant may not invoke the acquittal of the other conspirators to merit the reversal of his conviction for murder.177
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Ballistic and fingerprint examination results are inconclusive and not indispensable Appellants deplore the trial court's disregard of the results of the ballistic and fingerprint tests, which they claim should exonerate them from liability for the killing of Abadilla. These pieces of evidence were presented by the defense to prove that the empty shells recovered from the crime scene and deformed slug taken from the body of Abadilla were not fired from any of the firearms seized from appellants. Instead, they matched the same firearm used in the killings of Suseso de Dios and other supposed victims of ambush-slay perpetrated by suspected members of the ABB. Further, none of the fingerprints lifted from the KIA Pride, used by the gunmen as getaway vehicle, matched any of the specimens taken from the appellants. We are not persuaded. As correctly held by the CA, the negative result of ballistic examination was inconclusive, for there is no showing that the firearms supposedly found in appellants' possession were the same ones used in the ambush-slay of Abadilla. The fact that ballistic examination revealed that the empty shells and slug were fired from another firearm does not disprove appellants' guilt, as it was possible that different firearms were used by them in shooting Abadilla.178 Neither will the finding that the empty shells and slug matched those in another criminal case allegedly involving ABB members, such that they could have been fired from the same firearms belonging to said rebel group, exonerate the appellants who are on trial in this case and not the suspects in another case. To begin with, the prosecution never claimed that the firearms confiscated from appellants, which were the subject of separate charges for illegal possession of firearms, were the same firearms used in the ambush-slay of Abadilla. A ballistic examination is not indispensable in this case. Even if another weapon was in fact actually used in killing the victim, still, appellants Fortuna and Lumanog cannot escape criminal liability therefor, as they were positively identified by eyewitness Freddie Alejo as the ones who shot Abadilla to death.179
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As this Court held in Velasco v. People180 -cralaw

As regards the failure of the police to present a ballistic report on the seven spent shells recovered from the crime scene, the same does not constitute suppression of evidence. A ballistic report serves only as a guide for the courts in considering the ultimate facts of the case. It would be indispensable if there are no credible eyewitnesses to the crime inasmuch as it is corroborative in nature. The presentation of weapons or the slugs and bullets used and ballistic examination are not prerequisites for conviction. The corpus delicti and the positive identification of accused-appellant as the perpetrator of the crime are more than enough to sustain his conviction. Even without a ballistic report, the positive identification by prosecution witnesses is more than sufficient to prove accused's guilt beyond reasonable doubt. In the instant case, since the identity of the assailant has been sufficiently established, a ballistic report on the slugs can be dispensed with in proving petitioner's guilt beyond reasonable doubt. [Emphasis supplied.] The negative result of the fingerprint tests conducted by fingerprint examiner Remedios is likewise inconclusive and unreliable. Said witness admitted that no prints had been lifted from inside the KIA Pride and only two (2) fingerprints were taken from the car of Abadilla. Defense of Alibi Cannot Prevail Over Positive Identification Alibi is the weakest of all defenses, for it is easy to fabricate and difficult to disprove, and it is for this reason that it cannot prevail over the positive identification of the accused by the witnesses. 181 To be valid for purposes of exoneration from a criminal charge, the defense of alibi must be such that it would have been physically impossible for the person charged with the crime to be at the locus criminis at the time of its commission, the reason being that no person can be in two places at the same time. The excuse must be so airtight that it would admit of no exception. Where there is the least possibility of accused's presence at the crime scene, the alibi will not hold water.182
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Deeply embedded in our jurisprudence is the rule that positive identification of the accused, where categorical and consistent, without any showing of ill motive on the part of the eyewitness testifying, should prevail over the alibi and denial of appellants, whose testimonies are not substantiated by clear and convincing evidence.183 However, none of the appellants presented clear and convincing excuses showing the physical impossibility of their being at the crime scene between 8:00 o'clock and 9:00 o'clock in the morning of June 13, 1996. Hence, the trial court and CA did not err in rejecting their common defense of alibi.
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As to the failure of appellant Lumanog to take the witness stand, indeed the grave charges of murder and illegal possession of firearms would have normally impelled an accused to testify in his defense, particularly when his life is at stake. As this Court observed in People v. Delmendo: 184
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An adverse inference may also be deduced from appellant's failure to take the witness stand. While his failure to testify cannot be considered against him, it may however help in determining his guilt. "The unexplained failure of the accused to testify, under a circumstance where the crime imputed to him is so serious that places in the balance his very life and that his testimony might at least help in advancing his defense, gives rise to an inference that he did not want to testify because he did not want to betray himself." An innocent person will at once naturally and emphatically repel an accusation of crime, as a matter of self-preservation, and as a precaution against prejudicing himself. A person's silence, therefore, particularly when it is persistent, may justify an inference that he is not innocent. Thus, we have the general principle that when an accused is silent when he should speak, in circumstances where an innocent person so situated would have spoken, on being accused of a crime, his silence and omission are admissible in evidence against him. Accordingly, it has been aptly said that silence may be assent as well as consent, and may, where a direct and specific accusation of crime is made, be regarded under some circumstances as a quasi-confession.185
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Treachery and Evident Premeditation Attended the Commission of the Crime

As regards the presence of treachery as a qualifying circumstance, the evidence clearly showed that the attack on the unsuspecting victim -- who was inside his car on a stop position in the middle of early morning traffic when he was suddenly fired upon by the appellants -- was deliberate, sudden and unexpected. There was simply no chance for Abadilla to survive the ambush-slay, with successive shots quickly fired at close range by two (2) armed men on both sides of his car; and much less to retaliate by using his own gun, as no less than 23 gunshot wounds on his head and chest caused his instantaneous death. As we have consistently ruled, the essence of treachery is the sudden and unexpected attack on an unsuspecting victim by the perpetrator of the crime, depriving the victim of any chance to defend himself or to repel the aggression, thus insuring its commission without risk to the aggressor and without any provocation on the part of the victim.186
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Evident premeditation was likewise properly appreciated by the trial court, notwithstanding the inadmissibility of Joel de Jesus's extrajudicial confession disclosing in detail the pre-planned ambush of Abadilla, apparently a contract killing in which the perpetrators were paid or expected to receive payment for the job. As correctly pointed out by the CA, Alejo had stressed that as early as 7:30 in the morning of June 13, 1996, he already noticed something unusual going on upon seeing the two (2) lookouts (appellants Joel de Jesus and Lorenzo delos Santos) walking to and fro along Katipunan Avenue infront of the building he was guarding. True enough, they were expecting somebody to pass that way, who was no other than Abadilla driving his Honda Accord. After the lapse of more or less one (1) hour, he already heard successive gunshots, while in his guard post, from the direction of the middle lane where Abadilla's car was surrounded by four (4) men carrying short firearms. All the foregoing disclosed the execution of a pre-conceived plan to kill Abadilla. The essence of evident premeditation is that the execution of the criminal act is preceded by cool thought and reflection upon the resolution to carry out criminal intent within a span of time sufficient to arrive at a calm judgment.187
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The trial court and CA were therefore correct in declaring the appellants guilty as conspirators in the ambush-slay of Abadilla, the presence of treachery and evident premeditation qualifying the killing to murder under Art. 248 of the Revised Penal Code, as amended. Proper Penalty The CA correctly modified the death penalty imposed by the trial court. At the time the crime was committed, the penalty for murder was reclusion perpetua to death. Since the penalty is composed of two (2) indivisible penalties, then for the purpose of determining the imposable penalty, Article 63 of the Revised Penal Code, as amended, must be considered. It provides in part:
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1. When in the commission of the deed there is present only one aggravating circumstance, the greater penalty shall be applied. With the presence of the aggravating circumstance of treachery and there being no mitigating circumstance, the higher penalty of death should be imposed.188
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In view, however, of the passage of Republic Act No. 9346 entitled, "An Act Prohibiting the Imposition of Death Penalty in the Philippines," which was signed into law on June 24, 2006, the imposition of the death penalty has been prohibited. Pursuant to Section 2 thereof, the penalty to be meted to appellants shall be reclusion perpetua. Said section reads:
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SECTION 2. In lieu of the death penalty, the following shall be imposed:

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(a) the penalty of reclusion perpetua, when the law violated makes use of the nomenclature of the penalties of the Revised Penal Code; or (b) the penalty of life imprisonment, when the law violated does not make use of the nomenclature of the penalties of the Revised Penal Code.

Notwithstanding the reduction of the penalty imposed on appellants, they are not eligible for parole following Section 3 of said law which provides:189
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SECTION 3. Persons convicted of offenses punished with reclusion perpetua, or whose sentences will be reduced to reclusion perpetua, by reason of this Act, shall not be eligible for parole under Act No. 4103, otherwise known as the Indeterminate Sentence Law, as amended. Appellants' attack on the constitutionality of the above provision on grounds of curtailment of the President's absolute power to grant executive clemency, imposition of an inhuman punishment and violation of equal protection clause, is utterly misplaced. As succinctly explained by this Court in People v. Gardon190
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We should point out that the benefit of parole cannot be extended to Gardon even if he committed the crimes for which he is now convicted prior to the effectivity of R.A. No. 9346. Sec. 2 of the Indeterminate Sentence Law provides that the law "shall not apply to persons convicted of offenses punished with death penalty or life- imprisonment." Although the law makes no reference to persons convicted to suffer the penalty of reclusion perpetua such as Gardon, the Court has consistently held that the Indeterminate Sentence Law likewise does not apply to persons sentenced to reclusion perpetua. In People v. Enriquez, we declared:
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[R]eclusion perpetua is the only penalty that can be imposed against the appellants. As correctly argued by the Solicitor General, Act No. 4103, otherwise known as the Indeterminate Sentence Law, cannot be applied in the case of appellants considering the proscription in Sec. 2 thereof, viz:
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xxx Indeed, in People v. Asturias, Serrano v. Court of Appeals, People v. Lampaza and People v. Tan, to name a few cases, we in effect equated the penalty of reclusion perpetua as synonymous to lifeimprisonment for purposes of the Indeterminate Sentence Law, and ruled that the latter law does not apply to persons convicted of offenses punishable with the said penalty. Consequently, we affirm the Court of Appeals in not applying the Indeterminate Sentence Law, and in imposing upon appellants the penalty of reclusion perpetua instead. Reclusion perpetua is an indivisible penalty without a minimum or maximum period. Parole, on the other hand, is extended only to those sentenced to divisible penalties as is evident from Sec. 5 of the Indeterminate Sentence Law, which provides that it is only after "any prisoner shall have served the minimum penalty imposed on him" that the Board of Indeterminate Sentence may consider whether such prisoner may be granted parole.191
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Further, we cite the concurring opinion of Mr. Justice Dante Tinga in People v. Tubongbanua,192 addressing the issue herein raised by appellants, to wit:
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No constitutional sanctities will be offended if persons previously sentenced to death, or persons sentenced to reclusion perpetua, are denied the benefit of parole conformably to Section 3 of Rep. Act No. 9346. As to persons previously sentenced to death, it should be remembered that at the time of the commission of the crime, the penalty attached to the crime was death. To their benefit, Rep. Act No. 9346 reduced the penalty attached to the crime to reclusion perpetua. Yet such persons cannot claim the benefit of parole on the basis of the ex post facto clause of the Constitution, since an ex post facto law is one which, among others, "changes punishment, and inflicts a greater punishment than the law annexed to the crime when committed." Rep. Act No. 9346 had the effect of "inflicting" a lighter punishment, not a greater punishment, than what the law annexed to the crime when committed.193 [Emphasis supplied.]
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Civil Liability

When death occurs due to a crime, the following damages may be awarded: (1) civil indemnity ex delicto for the death of the victim; (2) actual or compensatory damages; (3) moral damages; (4) exemplary damages; and (5) temperate damages.194
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Civil indemnity is mandatory and granted to the heirs of the victim without need of proof other than the commission of the crime.195 We have ruled that even if the penalty of death is not to be imposed because of the prohibition in R.A. No. 9346, the civil indemnity of P75,000.00 is proper, because it is not dependent on the actual imposition of the death penalty but on the fact that qualifying circumstances warranting the imposition of the death penalty attended the commission of the offense.196 As explained in People v. Salome,197 while R.A. No. 9346 prohibits the imposition of the death penalty, the fact remains that the penalty provided for by the law for a heinous offense is still death, and the offense is still heinous. Accordingly, the heirs of Col. Rolando N. Abadilla is entitled to civil indemnity in the amount of P75,000.00. The grant of actual damages representing burial expenses, funeral services and cost of repair of the Honda car, is likewise in order, being duly supported by receipts.198
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With regard to moral and exemplary damages, we find the amounts awarded by the trial court excessive and the same are hereby reduced to P75,000.00 and P30,000.00, respectively. It must again be stressed that moral damages are emphatically not intended to enrich a plaintiff at the expense of the defendant. When awarded, moral damages must not be palpably and scandalously excessive as to indicate that it was the result of passion, prejudice or corruption on the part of the trial judge or appellate court justices.199 As to exemplary damages, the same is justified under Article 2230 of the New Civil Code when a crime is committed with an aggravating circumstance, either qualifying or generic.200
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WHEREFORE, the consolidated petitions and appeal are hereby DISMISSED. The Decision dated April 1, 2008 of the Court of Appeals in CA-G.R. CR-HC No. 00667 is hereby AFFIRMED with MODIFICATIONS in that the civil indemnity for the death of Col. Rolando N. Abadilla is hereby increased to P75,000.00, and the amounts of moral and exemplary damages awarded to his heirs are reduced to P75,000.00 and P30,000.00, respectively. With costs against the accused-appellants. SO ORDERED. MARTIN S. VILLARAMA, JR. Associate Justice WE CONCUR:
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RENATO C. CORONA Chief Justice

ANTONIO T. CARPIO Associate Justice PRESBITERO J. VELASCO, JR. Associate Justice TERESITA J. LEONARDO-DE CASTRO Associate Justice

CONCHITA CARPIO MORALES Associate Justice ANTONIO EDUARDO B. NACHURA Associate Justice (On official leave) ARTURO D. BRION* Associate Justice

DIOSDADO M. PERALTA Associate Justice MARIANO C. DEL CASTILLO Associate Justice JOSE PORTUGAL PEREZ Associate Justice

LUCAS P. BERSAMIN Associate Justice ROBERTO A. ABAD Associate Justice JOSE CATRAL MENDOZA Associate Justice

MARIA LOURDES P. A. SERENO Associate Justice CERTIFICATION Pursuant to Section 13, Article VIII of the 1987 Constitution, I certify that the conclusions in the above Decision had been reached in consultation before the case was assigned to the writer of the opinion of the Court. RENATO C. CORONA Chief Justice EN BANC [A.M. No. RTJ-99-1446. March 9, 2000]

CONCERNED EMPLOYEES OF THE RTC OF DAGUPAN CITY, complainants, vs.JUDGE ERNA FALLORANALIPOSA, in her capacity as Presiding Judge, Regional Trial Court, Branch 41, Dagupan City, respondent.
DECISION PER CURIAM : A letter dated March 26, 1999 was sent to the Chief Justice by the Concerned Court Employees of Dagupan City requesting for the re-assignment of Judge Silverio Q. Castillo and Judge Erna Falloran-Aliposa, allegedly two of the most corrupt Judges of Dagupan City whose acts of corruption range from appropriating exhibits and misappropriating funds of the City Government of Dagupan.1 On April 15, 1999, the Chief justice indorsed said letter to Senior Deputy Court Administrator Reynaldo L. Suarez and directed the latter to conduct a discreet investigation on the alleged acts of corruption of the judges mentioned. On June 4, 1999, Deputy Court Administrator Suarez conducted an investigation at the Integrated Bar of the Philippines Building in Dagupan City. Only the employees of Judge Erna Falloran-Aliposa gave their statements during the investigation, as the employees of Judge Castillo were not available for interview at that time and date. They, however, gave the assurance that they will file the appropriate administrative complaint against judge Castillo in due time.

Five employees of the Regional Trial Court of Dagupan City, Branch 41, namely: 1.] Gloria Ydia, Legal Researcher and Officer-in-Charge of the Office of the Branch Clerk of Court; 2.] Ever Mejia, Court Interpreter; 3.] Melinda Macaraeg, Court Stenographer; 4.] Evelyn Daroy; Court Stenographer; and 5.] Rosyla del Castillo, Clerk III, gave their sworn statements concerning the alleged corrupt practices of their Presiding judge, judge Erna Falloran-Aliposa.2 Ms. Gloria Ydia, Legal Researcher and Officer-in-Charge, imputed the following alleged corrupt practices of judge Aliposa: 1.] Vouchers in the amount of P62,000.00 for the paymentby city government of office supplies and equipment , such as four (4) electric fans, as well as for the repair of typewriters, air conditioner, were prepared by respondent , but the supplies were not received by their office and the repair of typewriters and air conditioner were covered by fictitious receipts. 2.] Respondent judge demanded a percentage before allowing the withdrawal of cash bonds, as per information relayed to them by the litigants who were called by respondent in her chambers, and by the Cashier Erlinda Capitle. 3.] Respondent Judge called for party-litigants who were asked to go to the office as early as 6:00 a:m. and who gave her shrimps, crabs, mangoes, boneless bangus, carabeef and the like, which she brought to her house in Pasay City on Fridays. 4.] Most cases are reviewed not on the merits but on the basis of the litigants' ability to pay. Highest bidders were often the winners. Among these successful litigants were the spouses Andal who, after going to respondent Judge's chambers, obtained a favorable judgment. 5.] More often than not respondent judge's illegal transactions are done in her office since partieslitigants are allowed to freely enter her chambers. She sees to it that no members of her staff are present. 6.] On the scheduled dialogue of the Chief Justice with the judges of Region I, respondent Judge instructed her staff to solicit P500.00 from the practicing lawyers to shoulder the expenses of the breakfast of the visitors. Accordingly, some lawyers appeared in her court and gave said amounts to her. 7.] In one instance, respondent Judge, for a consideration, ordered the correction of an erroneously spelled name of an adopted child inthe dispositive portion of the decision of the petition for adoption. Ms. Ever Mejia, Court Interpreter, alleged that 1.].... Respondent Judge Aliposa acts as the commissioner in all ex parte proceedings because of the fees which she collects. Depending upon the partys capabilities to pay, the commissioners fees range from P1,500.00 to P2,000.00. All must be paid in cash and handed to her before she conducts the proceedings. No money, no ex parteproceedings. Ex parte proceedings of at least three (3) to four (4) cases must be scheduled every week. She calls rich litigants every now and then to deliver anything for her depending on their capacity, e.g., from the Indian owner of Maya Emporium, she demanded a cassette recorder as well as clothes and clothing material from the Chinese owner of 'Ong King Kiam', who had cases in her court. In the case of Apolonia Air Philippines v. Spouses Claro Andal, defendants gave her the sum of P22,000.00 and won. 2.].... In the case of Vice-Mayor Teodoro Manaois, respondent Judge demanded P80,000.00. After the said amount was delivered to her, the Vice Mayor won in the said case. 3.].... When the pictures taken during the IBP Oath-taking, right after the dialogue with the Chief justice, were developed, judge Aliposa instructed Mejia to look for the photographer to get the

pictures taken so she would monopolize the sale thereof. These pictures, if bought from the photographer cost P25.00 but judge Aliposa sold them for P50.00 instructing her staff to do the selling of the photographs. They, however, have no knowledge as to whether the photographer was actually paid for them. 4.].... Judge Aliposa is very suspicious. She does not want her staff to talk to lawyers and litigants. If she catches any one talking with them, she immediately suspects that said person is sellingthe case. 5.].... The telephone which was provided by the local government is being used personally by respondent Judge. Even during extreme emergencies respondent Judge would not allow her staff to use it and the same is padlocked inside her room. 6.].... The private complainant in the case of People v. Luis Montilla is always inside the chambers of respondent judge. 7.].... Respondent judge prohibited lawyers and litigants from entering her chambers except when they had something to give her. 8.].... Respondent Judge reports for work at 11:00 a.m. on Mondays and would leave at 10:00 a.m. during Fridays. 9.].... Respondent Judge asked for an allocation of P64,000.00 from the 1998 City Budget. Under the budget, she declared that their typewriters and air conditioners needed repairs. No repairs were, however, made as they defrayed the repair of the typewriters. The office supplies given by the local government never reached their office and was converted by respondent Judge into cash. They buy their own supplies. Ms. Melinda Macaraeg, Court Stenographer III, averred that: 1.].... Respondent instructed her to ask the party, before the ex-parte presentation of evidence, whether he had money, and then respondent collected P1,500.00 from the party, i.e., P1,000.00 for her and P500.00 for the stenographer, but respondent only gave P200.00 to P300.00 to the stenographer, and if the party had no money, respondent would postpone the ex-partepresentation of evidence; 2.].... In the case of PCI v. Alex Viray, there was no stenographer who took down the proceedings during the ex-partepresentation of evidence and when said case was appealed by defendant, respondent required the stenographers to prepare the transcript of stenographic notes, which they refused because they did not take down notes, but Flory Fabia, another stenographer, prepare the transcript of stenographic notes which were merely patterned after a similar replevin case; and 3.].... Respondent had the telephone installed inside her chambers and did not allow the members of her staff to use the same; that respondent made it appear that all her calls were official, which she charged against the funds of the city government. Ms. Rosyladel Castillo,. Clerk III (in charge of criminal cases), charged that: 1.].... Respondent would talk to the person following up motions for withdrawal of cash bonds or reduction of bail bonds before acting on the same; 2.].... Respondent instructed her to remove an Order in two cases and she replaced it with another one; 3.].... Respondent instructed her, on two occasions, to tell the parties following up the dismissal of a case and reduction of bail bond to give money for ice cream;

4.].... Respondent antedated some orders which took her a Long time to prepare; and 5.].... Respondent would not issue orders in favor of a party unless something is given to her. Ms. Evelyn Daroy, Court Stenographer III, stated that: 1.].... Respondent asked her to antedate a decision in a case which the former was not able to render within three (3) months; 2.].... Respondent asked her to tell Flory Fabia, anothercourt stenographer, to collect her (stenographer's) attorney's fees from a lawyer; and 3.].... Respondent asked them to solicit gifts, in cash or in kind, from lawyers on the occasion of her birthday. Owing to the seriousness of the charges, the gravity of which Deputy Court Administrator Suarez averred he never encountered in his long years of service with the office of the Court Administrator (OCA), he recommended that: 1.] respondent judge be required to comment on the statements of the five (5) employees of the RTC, Branch 41, Dagupan City; 2.] the case be immediately referred to an Associate Justice of the Court of Appeals for investigation, report and recommendation; and 3.] respondent Judge be immediately suspended pending the investigation of the case to prevent any retaliatory acts against the court personnel. In a Resolution dated June 22, 19993 the Court En Banc adopted the Deputy Court Administrator's recommendations and referred the matter to Appellate Court Associate JusticeMarina Buzon for investigation. Report and recommendation thereon within ninety (90) days from receipt thereof.4 The Investigating Justice, acting accordingly, conducted the investigation and thereafter submitted her report and recommendation. In her Report dated January 12, 2000, Justice Buzon stated that: In their memorandum, complainants confined their discussion on the alleged corrupt practices of respondent in demanding money from Leo Tandoc in connection with the case of his brother and from Atty. Mario Cera after the ex-parte presentation of evidence and who likewise gave P500.00 for the snacks of judges during the dialogue with the Chief Justice, as well as respondents claim that the telephone calls of her son, Jason, were official in order to be able to charge the same against the funds of the city government. 1..... Leo Tandoc testified that on August 3, 1993, respondent demanded P5,000.00 from him in order that his brother, Orlando, a detention prisoner, would not stay longer in jail, and that he gave the money to respondent the following day. It appears that a demurrer to evidence was filed by the counsel of Orlando Tandoc, who was prosecuted for theft, in view of the insufficiency of the evidence against him. In an order dated August 3, 1998, respondent dismissed the case against Orlando Tandoc on the ground that the evidence of the prosecution was insufficient to sustain a conviction. However, said Order did not contain a directive to the Jail Warden to release Orlando Tandoc from detention, unless he is being held for another lawful cause. Upon clarificatory questions by the undersigned Investigator, respondent admitted that she does not state in the order granting demurrer to evidence that the accused, who is a detention prisoner, be released unless held in confinement for another lawful cause, and that the defense counsel has to file a motion for the release of the accused. It is elementary that upon acquittal of a detention prisoner or the dismissal of the case against him by way of demurrer to evidence, he is entitled to be released from detention in connection with said particular case, considering that there is no more reason to deprive him of his liberty. A judge need not wait for a motion to be filed by the defense counsel praying for the release of the detention prisoner, especially considering that an order granting demurrer to evidence is not promulgated in open court and it mighttake some time before the defense counsel could receive a copy thereof through the

mails. Notwithstanding a judgment of acquittal or dismissal of the criminal case, the Jail Warden will not release a detention prisoner without an order of release from the court which ordered the latter's detention. In view thereof, the order directing the release from detention of an accused upon his acquittal or dismissal of the case against him is usually included in the dispositive portion of the decision or order, a copy of which is furnished the JailWarden. The admission by respondent that it is not her policy to incorporate in the order granting demurrer to evidence and dismissing the case against the accused, who is a detention prisoner, that the latter be released unless held for another lawful cause, and that she only issued the order of release upon the filing of a motion to that effect does not speak well of respondent who hasbeen a judge since 1992 and is also a professor handling Criminal Law Review. The fact that respondent delayed the issuance of the order of release of Orlando Tandoc supports the claim of Leo Tandoc that she demanded money from him, which he was forced to give, in order that his brother, Orlando, would not stay longer in jail. On the other hand, the inconsistencies pointed out by respondent in the testimony of Leo Tandoc and the allegations in his affidavit as to when he learned of the Order dated August 3, 1998, i.e., whether before or after Flory Fabia informed him that respondent wanted to see him, and as to whether he was alone or with Flory Fabia when he went to branch 41 on August 3, 1998, are insubstantial and do not affect his credibility. It must be remembered that Leo Tandoc executed his affidavit and gave his testimony one year after the incident complained of. Moreover, respondent did not present Flory Fabia as a witness to refute Leo Tandoc's testimony that she told him to see respondent and accompanied him to respondent's chambers. Anent respondent's claim that no one among the complainants testified that they saw Leo Tandoc enter her chambers on August 3, and 4, 1998, suffice it to say that respondent has not shown that complainants already knew Leo Tandoc at that time or that they were aware of the purpose of his visit. 2. Atty. Mario Cera affirmed that on March 25, 1999, he was approached by Gloria Ydia who told him that she was instructed by respondent to solicit money for the snacks for the dialogue of RTC Judges of Region I. He gave P500.00 to Gloria Ydia and the latter entered the chambers of respondent. Gloria Ydia testified thatshe handed to respondent the P500.00 given to her by Atty. Cera and that she likewise approached Attys. Albino Gonzales and Fernando Cabrera and informed them that she was asked by respondent to solicit money from lawyers for the snacks of judges from Region I who would attend the dialogue with the Chief justice on March 26, 1999, after which said lawyers proceeded to the chambers of respondent. Attys. Gonzales and Cabrera did not testify to refute said allegations to Gloria Ydia. Thus, the affidavit of Atty. Gonzales denying that he gave something for the dialogue with the Chief Justice was denied admission as evidence for being hearsay. Atty. Cera further stated that after he presented evidence ex-parte before respondent in her chambers in the case of Rural Bank of San Jacinto, Inc. vs. Armando Chan, respondent told him to give her P1,500.00, whichhe did, and that the stenographer did not demand anything from him and he thought that the amount of P1,500.00, included the fees for the transcript of stenographic notes. Respondent naturally denied the allegations of Atty. Cera and tried to discredit him by claiming that he is a biased witness as both he and Gloria Ydia are from Mangaldan, Pangasinan and that Atty. Cera is close to Judge Sison, whom respondent claims has special relations with Gloria Ydia. Respondent likewise presented witnesses, namely, Attys. Godofredo Manipud, Ramon Mendoza and Leslie Interior, who declared that they did not pay commissioner's fees to respondent after the ex-parte presentation of their evidence. It is interesting to note, however, that Atty. Manipud testified that after the exparte presentation of his evidence before respondent, he asked the latter what was his obligation. Atty. Interior likewise stated that after the ex-parte presentation of her evidence before respondent, she asked the latter if she had to pay something. The undersigned cannot help but wonder why said lawyers had to ask respondent whether they had any obligation to pay anything when they ought to know that judges are not supposed to receive anything from the parties in the performance of their duties in the administration of justice. For his part, Atty. Mendoza testified that he presented evidence ex-parte before respondent only once and that he was not charged commissioner's fee because the

proceeding was done in open court. He likewise denied having given any contribution relative to the visit of the Chief Justice. Moreover, Atty. Manipud admitted that his daughter had a case before respondent, who awarded in favor of his daughter the custody of her child who is over seven (7) years old, despite the latter's preference to stay withhisfather. Atty. Interior admitted that she was asked by respondent to execute an affidavit stating that the latter did not demand or receive money in exparte proceedings involving BPI. The acts of respondent in demanding and receiving money from Leo Tandoc as a condition for the release from detention of his brother, Orlando, although the case against the latter had already been dismissed, and also from Atty. Cera after the reception of the latter's evidence ex-parte constitute serious misconduct in office. A judge should always be a symbol of rectitude and propriety, comporting himself in a manner that will raise no doubt whatsoever about his honesty. It is this kind of gross and flaunting misconduct, no matter how nominal the amount involved on the part of those who are charged with the responsibility of administering the law and rendering justice quickly, which erodes the respect for law and the courts. Furthermore, the undersigned has noted irregularities in the proceedings in the following cases involving ex-parte presentation of evidence, as borne out by the records brought by complainants, to wit: a) Civil Case No. 97-01545-D On August 5, 1998, respondent rendered, a decision wherein it is stated that at the ex-parte hearing, plaintiff's witness testified and identified the promissory note, chattel mortgage and demand letter, marked as Exhibits "A", "B" and "C", respectively. However, the formal offer of exhibits was received by the court only on August 18, 1998 and the documents attached thereto do not appear to have been marked as Exhibits "A", "B" and "C". b) Civil Case No. 97-01963-D The decision is dated August 11, 1998 whereas the formal offer of exhibits was received by the court only on August 18, 1998, without any exhibit attached thereto. c) Civil Case No. 95-02306-D The decision is dated September 14, 1998 whereas the offer of evidence was received by the court only on September 16, 1998 with only the promissory, note, allegedly marked. as Exhibit "A", attached thereto but the same was not so marked. d) Civil Case No. 97-02012-D The decision is dated August 10, 1998 whereas the formal offer of exhibits was received by the court only on August 18, 1998 without any exhibits attached thereto. e) Civil Case No. 98-02205 The documents attached to the formal offer of exhibits do not bear any exhibit marking. f) Civil Case No. 98-02177-D The presentation of ex-parte evidence was originally set on July 29, 1998 but was reset to July 31, 1998 and thereafter to August 12, 1998 but the formal offer of exhibits is dated July 30, 1998, although it was received by the court only on August 18, 1998, without any exhibit attached thereto.

Section 34, Rule 132 of the Revised Rules on Evidence provides that the court shall consider no evidence which has not been formally offered. In Civil Cases Nos. 97-01545-D, 97-01963-D, 9802306-D and 97-02012-D, respondent rendered judgment even before the evidence allegedly presented during the ex-parteproceedings were formally offered. Inasmuch as respondent required the plaintiff to present evidence, she should have waited for the formal offer of said evidence before rendering judgment. Moreover, respondent admitted that she conducted the ex-parte presentation of evidence inside her chambers with only the plaintiff's representative and counsel present and without the attendance of any member of her staff; that she merely jotted down in a yellow pad the manifestations made by counsel and that she asked plaintiff's representative to show the documents in support of the complaint. Respondent did not testify that she marked the documents shown by plaintiff's representative, which probably explains why the documents attached to the formal offer of exhibits filed in some of the cases do not bear any marking. Respondent apparently had forgotten that she was presiding in a court of record where the attendance of the court interpreter and stenographer in all proceedings is required. Under the Manual for Clerks of Court, the interpreter has the duty to attend all court hearings, administer oath to witnesses, mark all exhibits introduced in evidence, prepare and sign all minutes of session, maintain and keep in custody a record book of cases calendared for hearing; while the stenographer is charged with taking stenographic notes on all matters that transpire during court hearings and transcribing them. One can only surmise what transpired inside the chambers of respondent during the ex-parte presentation of evidence which she did not want her interpreter and stenographer to witness. Respondent argued that there was no need for a stenographer during the ex-parte presentation of evidence because there were only three or four statements made by counsel, whichshe jotted down in a yellow pad, and that her stenographers were demanding P500.00 for a single-paged transcript of stenographic notes. Respondent did not explain, however, why she did not ask her interpreter to attend the hearing for the purpose of administering oath to plaintiff's witness and marking the exhibits to be introduced in evidence. Consequently, the documents allegedly introduced in evidence in said proceeding were not marked. In Contreras vs. Solis, it was stressed that the duty of a judge is not only to administer justice but also to conduct himself in a manner that would avoid any suspicion of irregularity. He has the avowed duty of promoting confidence in the judicial system. Any act which would give the appearance of impropriety is in itself reprehensible. This is the price which must be paid by one who joins the judiciary. Such practice of respondent in conducting ex-parte presentation of evidence inside her chambers, without the attendance of her interpreter and stenographer, is not only improper but also gives rise to questions on her integrity. 3. Respondent tried to justify her charging the telephone calls made to her by her son, Jason, against the funds of the city government upon the allegation that said calls were official because her son was the one whom she asked to inquire from the Supreme Court regarding her delayed checks, as well as with respect to her transactions with the SSS, GSIS and other government offices because she was in Dagupan City the whole week. A scrutiny of the telephone bills, however, shows that Jason made several calls to respondent, to wit: June 16 and 19, 1998 August 18, 19 and 20, 1998 January 29, 1999 May 7, 15, 19 and 21, 1998; June 2, 1998 (3x) February 23, 1998, March 3 (2x), 12, 19, 24, 1998,April 8, 21, 23, 28, 30, 1998 (not marked but part of Exhibit "Y") July 10, 1998; July 29, 30, 31, 1998 (not marked but part of Exhibit "Z")

September 10, 1998; September 22, 1998 (not marked but part of Exhibit "AA") February 3 and 17, 1999, February 24, 1999 and March 2, 1999 (not marked but part of Exhibit "BB") It taxes one's credulity that respondent would have problems with the Supreme Court with respect to her checks and would likewise have transaction with the GSIS and SSS and other government agencies very often that necessitated frequent calls to her by her son just to report the response of said agencies to her queries. Moreover, respondent did not elaborate on the nature of her alleged transactions with the GSIS, SSS and other government agencies which she allegedly asked her son to inquire on her behalf. Respondent admitted that the City Auditor of Dagupan City issued notices of suspension regarding her telephone bills and she was required by the latter to submit details of the telephone calls. However, while respondent claimed that the City Auditor and City Accountant were apparently satisfied with her explanation that the telephone calls were official, she did not present copies of the explanation allegedly submitted by her. It appears from the telephone bills produced by City Auditor Bonifacio Ico that respondent's son, Jason, used telephone number 8432083 in calling respondent at Branch 41 at telephone number 5225777. The telephone bills likewise show several telephone calls made by respondent, using telephone number 5225777, to telephone number 8432083, which she certified as official. Just what official matters did respondent discuss with the person on the other end of the line is beyond the comprehension of the undersigned. With respect to the other vouchers produced by City Auditor Bonifacio Ico, referring to various office supplies and repair of typewriters and air conditioner, respondent admitted that she personally transacted with the supplier with respect thereto and she personally inspected the various office supplies delivered by the latter. There is no showing, however, that respondent inquired from her staff, particularly the Officer-in-Charge, as to what articles were needed by their office and the quantity thereof and if their typewriters needed repair. Respondent even allowed the supplier to deliver the office supplies after office hours so that she herself had to inspect the same, assisted by someone who was not even a member of her staff. It should be noted that the Clerk of Court is the administrative officer of the court, subject to the control and supervision of the Presiding Judge and/or Executive judge (in case of multiple sala courts). Said officer has control and supervision over all court records, exhibits, documents, properties and supplies. As Supply Officer and Property Custodian, the Clerk of Court approves requisition and issue vouchers, as well as vouchers against funds appropriated by the provincial and city governments as aid to the court; allocates and distributes court properties and supplies; monitors the utilization and adequacy of court facilities and needed improvements and makes the corresponding representations to the local governments or the Supreme Court; and exercises control and supervision over the possession, custody and, safekeeping of court properties and supplies. The Branch Clerk of Court is considered as the extension of the Clerk of Court and performs some of the functions and duties of the Clerk Of Court but Only within his Branch, in the interest of the service and subject to the supervision and control of the Presiding Judge. The acts of respondent in personally transacting with the supplier, without referring the matter to the Clerk of Court and without apparently inquiring from her Officer-inCharge, in the absence of a Branch Clerk of Court, whether their typewriters needed cleaning and repair and what articles were needed by their office; and in signing the vouchers and personally supervising the delivery of the supplies after office hours and inspecting the same, being contrary to established practice, only show respondent's personal interest in said transactions. Said acts of respondent are reprehensible as they cheapened her noble office, as wellas the entire judiciary in the eyes of the public, and somehow lend credence to complainants' allegations that no such cleaning and repair were made on their typewriters and that the supplies did not reach their office. Respondent admitted that justice because the trip to seven (7) hours, although she would leave the office 13). As held in Medina vs. she never attended the flag ceremony on Monday morning at the Hall of Dagupan City from Pasay Citywhere she resides, takes about six (6) to she would be at the bus station as early as 3:30 in the morning, and that on Fridays at 3:00 o'clock in the afternoon (Respondent's Memorandum, p. De Guia:

"We can empathize with Judge De Guia's urge to be with her family in their home in Paraaque which is quite some distance from her detail in Balanga, Bataan. Yet we must remind her and all judges in the same situation that when one accepts his or her appointment as a member of the judiciary, he or she embraces all the responsibilities attached to that office. One of these responsibilities is to render eight (8) hours of service every working day, five ( 5) hours of which are devoted to trial. As a judge and also as a public officer duty-bound to render public service, nothing less is expected to Judge De Guia. Indeed, Canon 5 of the Code of Judicial Conduct explicitly states that "[a] judge should regulate extrajudicial activities to minimize the risk of conflict with judicial duties. We quote from In Re: Echiverri (67 SCRA 467 [1975]): Judges are duty bound to comply with the above [service requirement] to insure the maximum efficiency of the trial courts for a speedy administration of justice. Daily trials at a minimum of five hours per working day of the week will enable the judge to calendar as many cases as possible and to dispose with regular dispatch the increasing number of litigations pending with the court. All other matters needing the attention of the judge are to be attended to outside of this five-hour schedule of trial." Respondent likewise admitted that in 1992-1993, she taught at the University of Pangasinan; that she has been teaching at the University of the East since 1995 up to the present and that it was only in 1997 that she requested permission from the Office of the Court Administrator to teach for the school year 1997-1998. Respondents teaching load at the University of the East, as per Certification issued by Dean Carlos M. Ortega, is as follows: ..............................................................................

Friday 1st Sem. SY 1998-199 Criminal Law Rev. 410 IV-A-1 7:00-9:00 ".............. "........ " 410 IV-B-1 2nd Sem. SY 1998-199 Criminal Law Rev. 410 IV-A-1 ".............. "......... " 410 IV-B1 6:00-9:00

Saturday 5:00-8:00 12:00-5:00 5:00-7:00 12:00-5:00

1st Sem. SY 1999-2000 Criminal Law Rev. 410 IV-A-1 7:00-9:00 ".............. "........ " 410 IV-B-1

5:00-8:00 12:00-5:00

However, respondent claimed that she never attended her Friday evening classes and she conducted make-up classes on Saturdays. In view of her Friday evening class schedule, respondent must have realized that the Office of the Court Administrator would not give her permission to teach, so that she did not bother to secure such permission for the school year 1998-1999 and the first semester of 1999, because to be able to attend said classes, she would have to leave her court in Dagupan City on Friday morning. Granting that respondent did not attend her Friday evening classes and that she held make-up classes on Saturdays, such conduct of respondent must have certainly caused inconvenience to her students who

enrolled in the Friday evening, classes, only to find out that their professor had no intention of holding classes as scheduled, and that they would instead be made to attend make-up classes on Saturdays, thereby disrupting their schedules. While said conduct is not related to the performance of her duties as a member of the bench, respondent should bear in mind that one who occupies a position of such grave responsibility in the administration of justice must conduct herself in a manner befitting the dignity of such exalted office. A judge's private, as well as official conduct, must at all times be free from all appearances of impropriety and be beyond reproach. Respondent should have advised Dean Carlos M. Ortega not to schedule her classes on Friday evening because she would not be able to attend the same. Respondent insists that complainants have an axe to grind against her because she was strict with them and she reprimanded them for their incompetence and inefficiency, especially Gloria Ydia because of her illicitand immoral relations with Judge Deodoro Sison of ranch 40. It is, indeed, the duty of respondent to exercise close Supervision over her court personnel. Judges must not only be fully cognizant of the state of their dockets but must also keep a watchful eye on the level of performance and conduct of the court personnel under their immediate supervision who are primarily employed to aid in the administration of justice. However, the undersigned does not believe that complainants were motivated by ill-will against respondentfor being strict with them and for disciplining them. Thus, Ever Mejia explained that she wants respondent to be removed from Branch 41, not because the latter was strict and had reprimanded her, but because she cannot stand respondent's practices, she pities the litigants who cannot obtain justice and she wants to help cleanse the judiciary. Besides, complainants cannot be sure that if respondent is removed from their Branch, the latter's replacement will not be as strict with them. In the case of Gloria Ydia, she had the courage to testify against respondent despite her awareness that the latter was imputing immoral, illegal and corrupt practices against her, as detailed in the Answer. In fact, respondent subsequently filed an administrative case against Gloria Ydia and Judge Deodoro Sison for grave misconduct and immorality. Settled is the rule that in administrative proceedings, mere preponderance of evidence suffices to establish the charges against a judge. As thus shown by the evidence, respondent has failed to measure up to the exacting standards of conduct and integrity expected ofmembers of the judiciary, as embodied in the following provisions of the Code of Judicial Conduct: "CANON 2 A JUDGE SHOULD AVOID IMPROPRIETY AND THE APPEARANCE OF IMPROPRIETY IN ALL ACTIVITIES. Rule 2.01. - A judge should so behave at all times as to promote public confidence in the integrity and impartiality of the judiciary." As held in office of the Court Administrator vs. Barron: "Respondent judge tainted the image of the Judiciary to which he owes fealty and the obligation to keep it at all times unsullied and, worthy 'of the people's trust. There is no place in the Judiciary for those who cannot meet the exacting standards of judicial conduct and integrity. Respondent judge does not deserve to remain in the Judiciary and should accordingly be removed from the service." On the basis of the foregoing findings, the Investigating Justice made the following recommendation: WHERFORE, it is respectfully recommendedthat respondent judge Erna Falloran-Aliposa be DISMISSED from the service, with forfeiture of all retirement benefits and privileges and with prejudice to re-employment in any branch of the government, including government owned and controlled corporations."

The Court fully agrees with Justice Buzon in her Report and thus adopts her recommendations. This Court "[h]as repeatedly stressed that a judge is the visible representation of the law and the embodiment of the people's sense of justice and that, accordingly, he should constantly keep away from any act of impropriety,5 not only in the performance of his official duties but also his everyday actuations.6 No other position exacts a greater demand on moral righteousness and uprightness of an individual than perhaps a seat in the judiciary.7 A judge must be the first to abide by the law and to weave an example for the others to follow." 8 A judge should always be a symbol of rectitude and propriety, comporting himself in a manner that will raise no doubt whatsoever about his honesty.9 As more emphatically stated in Atty. Lauro Gacayan, et al. v. Hon. Fernando Vil Pamintuan:10 ...the Court pointed out in Dawa v. De Asa11 that the (p)eoples confidence in the judicial system is founded not only on the magnitude of legal knowledge and diligence of the members of the bench, but also on the highest standard of integrity and moral uprightness they are expected to possess.12 It is towards this sacrosanct goal of ensuring the people's faith and confidence in the judiciary that the Code of Judicial Conduct mandates the following: CANON 2 -- A JUDGE SHOULD AVOID IMPROPRIETY AND THE APPEARANCE OF IMPROPRIETY IN ALL ACTIVITIES. RULE 2.01. - A judge should so behave at all times to promote public confidence in the integrity and impartiality of the judiciary. CANON 3 - A JUDGE SHOULD PERFORM OFFICIAL DUTIES HONESTLY, AND WITH IMPARTIALITY AND DILIGENCE. RULE 3.01 - A judge shall be faithful to the law and maintain professional competence. xxx.................................... xxx.................................... xxx The Canons of Judicial Ethics further provides that: `[A] judge's official conduct should be free from the appearance of impropriety, and his personal behavior, not only upon the bench and in the performance of judicial duties, but also his everyday life should be beyond reproach.' Thus, the Court in taking the respondent to task in Sarah .B. Vedana v. Judge Eudarlo B. Valencia,13 minced no words when it said: ...his being a public official, holding a position in the Judiciary specifically entrusted with the sacred duty of administering justice, breached Canon 2 of the Code of Judicial conduct and Canon 3 of the Canons of Judicial Ethics which mandate respectively, that `a judge should avoid impropriety in all activities', and that `a judge's official conduct should be free from the appearance of impropriety, and his personal behavior, not only upon the bench and in the performance of judicial duties, but also in everyday life, should be beyond reproach. These most exacting standards of decorum are demanded from the magistrates if only, in the language of Rule 2.01 of Canon 2 of the code of Judicial conduct, to promote public confidence in the integrity and impartiality of the judiciary. The spirit and philosophy underlying these Canons is best expressed in Castillo v. Calanog14 thus: The Code of Judicial Ethics mandates that the conduct of a judge must be free of even a whiff of impropriety not only with respect to his judicial juties, but also to his behavior outside his sala and as a private individual. There is no dichotomy of morality; a public official is also judged by his private morals. The Code dictates that a judge, in order to promote public confidence in the integrity and impartiality of the judiciary, must behave with propriety at all times. As we have very

recently explained, a judges official life can not simply be detached or separated from his personal existence. Thus: Being the subject of constant public scrutiny, a judge should freely and willingly accept restrictions on conduct that might be viewed as burdensome by the ordinary citizen. A judge should personify judicial integrity and exemplify honest public service. The personal behavior of a judge, both in the performance of official duties and in private life should be above suspicion. 15 Verily, no position is more demanding as regards moral righteousness and uprightness of any individual than a seat with on the Bench. Within the hierarchy of courts, trial courts stand as an important and visible symbol of government, especially considering that as opposed to appellate courts, trial judges are those directly in contact with the parties, their counsel and the communities in which the Judiciary is bound to serve. Occupying as he does an exalted position in the administration of justice, a judge must pay a high price for the honor bestowed upon him. Thus, the judge must comport himself at all times in such manner that his conduct, official or otherwise, can bear the most searching scrutiny of the public that looks up to him as the epitome of integrity and justice.16 In insulating the Bench from the unwarranted criticism, thus preserving our democratic way of life, it is essential that judges, like Caesars wife, should be above suspicion. This admonition applies with even more stringence to municipal, metropolitan and regional trial court judges, like herein respondent, because they are judicial front-liners who have direct contact with the litigating parties.17 They are the intermediaries between conflicting interests and the embodiment of the peoples sense of justice.18 Verily The courts exist to promote justice;19 accordingly, the judges official conduct should be free from the appearance of impropriety, and his personal behavior, not only upon the bench and in the performance of his official duties, but also in his everyday life, should be beyond reproach.20 He is the visible representation of the law and, more importantly, of justice.21 He should administer his office with due regard to the integrity of the system of the law itself, remembering that he is not a depository [of] power, but a judge under the sanction of Law. 22 All those who don the judicial robe must always instill in their minds that exhortation that "[T]he administration of justice is a mission. Judges, from the lowest to the highest levels are the gems in the vast government bureaucracy, beacon lights looked upon as the embodiments of all what is right, just and proper, the ultimate weapons against injustice and oppression. The Judiciary hemorrhages every time a Judge himself transgresses the very law he is sworn to uphold and defend at all costs. This should not come to pass."23 The evidence before us is a sad testament to respondents utter disregard of such a mission as well as an appalling demonstration of gross abuse and misuse of judicial prerogatives. Restating what has been said earlier, a member of the Judiciary is commanded by law to exhibit the highest degree of moral certitude and is bound by the highest standards of honesty and integrity. Life, liberty, and property are defined and molded as judges perform their sworn tasks to uphold the law and to administer justice. There is no place in the Judiciary for those who can not meet the exacting standards of judicial conduct and integrity.24 This court has been watchful of dishonest judges and will not withhold penalty when called for to uphold the peoples faith in the Judiciary.25 WHEREFORE , based on the foregoing, respondent judge Erna Falloran-Aliposa is DISMISSED from the service with forfeiture of all retirement benefits and leave credits with prejudice to re-employment in any government agency or instrumentality. Immediately upon service upon her of this decision, she is deemed to have vacated her office and her authority to act to as judge is considered automatically terminated.

SO ORDERED. Davide, Jr., C.J., Bellosillo, Melo, Puno, Vitug, Kapunan, Mendoza, Panganiban, Quisumbing, Purisima, Buena, Gonzaga-Reyes, Ynares-Santiago, and De Leon, Jr., JJ., concur. Pardo, J., on official leave. EN BANC G.R. No. L-1159 January 30, 1947

CECILIO M. LINO, Petitioner, vs. VALERIANO E. FUGOSO, LAMBERTO JAVALERA, and JOHN DOE, in their capacity as Mayor, Chief of Police and Officer in charge of municipal jail, all of the City of Manila, respectively, Respondents. MORAN, C.J.:
chanroble s virtual law l ibra ry

This is a petition for a writ of habeas corpus filed in behalf of twelve persons alleged to be unlawfully detained by respondents Valeriano E. Fugoso, Lamberto Javalera and John Doe in their capacity as mayor, chief of police and officer in charge of the municipal jail of the City of Manila, respectively. It is alleged in respondent's return that ten of the petitioners had already been released, no sufficient evidence having been found to warrant their prosecution for inciting to sedition, but that the remaining two, Pascual Montaniel and Pacifico Deoduco, are being held in custody because of charges filed against them in the municipal court for unjust vexation and disobedience to police orders, respectively.
chanrob lesvi rtua lawlib rary chan roble s virtual law l ibra ry

After hearing, by minute-resolution we dismissed the case with respect to the ten petitioners already released and we ordered the release of the remaining two, Montaniel and Deoduco, without prejudice to a reasoned decision which we now proceed to render.
chanrob lesvi rtua lawlib rary chan robles v irt ual law l ibra ry

The case of the ten petitioners has become academic by their release. The purpose of a writ of habeas corpus is only to set them free. After they are freed, the writ is purposeless. If they have been the victims of illegal arrest or detention, they can have recourse to criminal actions in the proper courts.
chanroblesv irt ualawli bra ry chan roble s virtual law lib rary

As regards the remaining two petitioners, the pertinent facts as admitted at the hearing by respondents, are as follows: Pascual Montaniel was arrested without warrant by the police officers of Manila on November 8, 1946, for inciting to sedition, and Pacifico Deoduco, on November 7, 1946, for resisting arrest and disobedience to police orders. On November 11 when this petition for habeas corpus was filed, these two petitioners were still under arrest. They were thus held in confinement for three and four days respectively, without warrants and without charges formally filed in court. The papers of their cases were not transmitted to the City Fiscal's office until late in the afternoon of November 11. Upon investigation by that office, no sufficient evidence was found to warrant the prosecution of Pascual Montaniel for inciting to sedition and Pacifico Deoduco for resisting arrest, but both remained under custody because of informations filed with the municipal court charging Montaniel with unjust vexation and Deoduco with disobedience to an agent of a person in authority under the second paragraph of article 151 of the Revised Penal Code. These informations were filed on the same day when this case was heard before this Court, that is, on November 12, 1946. And so far, no warrants of arrest or orders of commitment are shown to have been issued by the municipal court pursuant to the informations thus filed.
chan roblesv irt ualawli bra ry chan rob les vi rtual law lib rary

Under these facts, the detention of Pacifico Deoduco and Pascual Montaniel is illegal. Even assuming that they were legally arrested without warrant on November 7 and 8, 1946, respectively, their continued detention became illegal upon the expiration of six hours without their having been delivered to the corresponding judicial authorities. (Article 125, Rev. Pen. Code, as amended by Act No. 3940.) Their cases were referred to the City Fiscal late in the afternoon of November 11, 1946,

that is, four and three days, respectively, after they were arrested. The illegality of their detention was not cured by the filing of information against them, since no warrants of arrest or orders of commitment have been issued by the municipal court up to the hearing of this case before this Court.
chan roble svirtualawl ibra ry cha nrob les vi rtua l law lib rary

It must be observed, in this connection, that in said informations, the two petitioners are charged with light offenses punishable by law with arresto menor or a fine ranging from 5 to 200 pesos or both, according to the second paragraphs of articles 151 and 287, respectively, of the Revised Penal Code. Under the Rule 108, section 10, when the offense charged is of that character, "the judge with whom the complaint or information is filed, shall not issued any warrant or order for the arrest of the defendant, but shall order the latter to appear on the day and hour fixed in the order to answer to the complaint or information," although in particular instance he may also "order that a defendant charged with such offense be arrested and not released except upon furnishing bail." The general rule, therefore, is that when the offense charged is light the accused should not be arrested, except in particular instances when the court expressly so orders in the exercise of its discretion. In the instant case, the municipal court has not yet acted on the informations nor exercised its discretion to order the arrest of the two petitioners and, therefore, they are still detained not because of the information filed against them but as a continuance of their illegal detention by the police officers. While an arrest maybe made without warrant when there are reasonable grounds therefor (Rule 109, section 6, Rules of Court), the prisoners cannot be retained beyond the period provided by law, unless a warrant is procured from a competent court. (4 Am. Jur., p. 49; Diers vs. Mallon, 46 Neb., 121; 50 Am. St. Rep., 598; Burk vs. Howley, 179 Penn., 539; 57 Am. St. Rep., 607; Karner vs. Stump, 12 Tex. Civ. App., 460; 34 S.W., 656; Johnson vs. Americus, 46 Ga., 80; Leger vs. Warren, L.R.A., 216-218 [Bk. 51.] It is obvious in the instant case that the City Fiscal had no authority to issue warrants of arrest (videauthorities cited above, and Hashim vs. Boncan and City of Manila, 71 Phil., 216) and was powerless to validate such illegal detention by merely filing informations or by any order of his own, either express or implied.
chanroble svirtualawlib ra ry chan roble s virtual law lib rary

It is not necessary now to determine whether the City Fiscal is a judicial authority within the purview of article 125 of the Revised Penal Code, as amended by Act No. 3940, for even if he were, the petitioners' case was referred to him long after the expiration of the six hours provided by law. And since the City Fiscal, unlike the judicial authority, has no power to produce to order either the commitment or the release on bail of persons charged with penal offense (Adm. Code, section 2460), the petitioner's further confinement after their case had been referred to the City Fiscal was but a mere continuation of their illegal detention by the police officers. In the eyes of the law, therefore, these prisoners should have been out of prison long before the informations were filed with the municipal court, and they should not be retained therein merely because of the filing of such informations it appearing particularly that the offenses charged are light and are not, as a general rule, grounds for arrest, under Rule 108, section 10. Under such circumstances, only an order of commitment could legalize the prisoner's continued confinement, and no such order has been issued. Indeed, the municipal court could acquire jurisdiction over said prisoners only by the issuance of a warrant of arrest, an order of commitment or a writ of summons as provided in the aforementioned rule.
chanroblesv irt ualawli bra ry chan rob les vi rtual law lib rary

We reiterate the minute-resolution above mentioned.

chanroblesv irt ualawli bra ry chan rob les vi rtual law lib rary

Paras, Feria, Pablo and Hilado, JJ., concur. Moran, C. J., I certify that Mr. Justice Padilla concurred in this decision.

Separate Opinions

c hanro bles vi rtua l law li bra ry

PERFECTO, J., concurring:

chanro bles vi rt ual law li bra ry

The facts in this case can better be gathered from the pleadings. Copies of the petition and of the return, the latter with the annexes, accompany this opinion as appendices A and B.1
cha nrob les vi rtua l law lib rary

At the hearing of this case, counsel of both parties disclosed the additional fact that the twelve detainees in whose behalf these proceedings have been initiated after their arrest, were required to post a bail bond for their provisional release of P12,000 each.
chan roble svirtualawl ibra ry cha nrob les vi rtua l law lib rary

The petition was filed in the morning of November 11, 1946. The case was heard the next morning, and in the evening of November 12, it was possible for this Court to obtain the necessary majority for the early disposal of this case, with the result that the two remaining detainees were then immediately released. The first ten were released by respondents in the very afternoon of the day when the petition was filed.
chan roblesv irtualawli bra ry cha nrob les vi rtua l law lib rary

If we could only have our own way, we would have the case heard and disposed of in the very day the petition was filed, by expediting the procedure in the same way as we did when we ordered the release on habeas corpus of Special Prosecutor Liwag, in Taada vs. Quirino (42 Off. Gaz., 934). The Rules of Court, which provide that the writ of habeas corpus may be issued at any hour in the day or at night, and the very nature of the writ, make imperative the immediate disposal of cases like the present one, if the remedy is to be effective and there is an earnest desire to avoid a failure of justice, especially as respondents are bent on exerting all the power and ability at their command to mock at the action of the courts, as exemplified by the case of Villavicencio vs. Lukban (39 Phil., 778-812).
virtua l law lib rary

chanroblesv irt ualawli bra ry chan rob les

At the hearing of this case, our attention was called at the significant fact that petitioner himself, the ten released detainees, and other persons who came to attend the hearing in this Court, were refused entrance in the Malacaan compound where the building of the Supreme Court is located. They were allowed to come in after we asserted that all the people are free to come to the Supreme Court which is an institution that belongs to them.
chanrob lesvi rtualaw lib rary c han robles v irt ual law li bra ry

The present case offers one of the most shocking examples of official disregard for fundamental human rights, as guaranteed in our Constitution, and as is intended to be promoted and encouraged by the Charter of the United Nations.
chanrob lesvi rtua lawlib rary chan roble s virtual law l ibra ry

While Carlos P. Romulo, the eloquent spokesman of the Republic of the Philippines in the General Assembly of the United Nations, is making world history with his courageous sponsorship of the independence of all subjugated peoples and countries and is making for our Republic the proud record as one of the staunchest champions of fundamental human rights, always placed in the forefront whenever there is a battle for freedom, it seems paradoxical that here, in Manila, in the very heart of our country, in the nucleus of our national culture, twelve humble, peaceful and law-abiding citizens, while in the peaceful exercise of their constitutional rights of freedom of expression and to peaceably assemble, the right to enlist public support in the pursuit of their right to a decent living wage, and the right to petition their own Government for the redress of their grievances, are abruptly interrupted in the exercise of their rights and violently hauled into prison as dangerous criminals.
chanroblesv irt ualawli bra ry chan roble s virtual law lib rary

Counsel for respondents tried to justify the unwarranted official invasion of private civil liberties by the ignorance of erring officials of the Constitutional Bill of Rights. Such ignorance does not justify anything. It only aggravates the situation. It shows unpardonable dereliction of duty and recklessness of responsible high authorities.
chanroblesv irtualawl ibra ry cha nrob les vi rtua l law lib rary

It is a universal rule that ignorance of the law does not exempt anyone from any responsibility for violating it. They are also known as law officers, because it is their essential function to enforce the laws. They form part of the Executive Department of our Government, the department whose primary function is to execute the laws. No peace officers should be allowed to enter in the actual performance of his functions without first acquiring the indispensable knowledge of the laws they are called upon to enforce. At least they ought to know the Constitution, a copy of which they should always carry in their pockets for immediate consultation, with the same fidelity as the priests stick to their breviary of prayers. They should be compelled to learn by heart the Bill of Rights, if possible, commit to memory

all its provisions. Peace officers are supposed, not only to enforce the laws, but also to protect the citizens in their rights, and in order that they may perform this duty, they should first know what these rights are. Without that knowledge, they become a menace to social order. If it is dangerous to let a person drive an automobile when that person does not know how to drive it, it is no less dangerous to entrust the enforcement of laws to armed individuals who are ignorant of them.
chan roblesv irtualawli bra ry cha nrob les vi rtua l law lib rary

It has been alleged that the twelve detainees were not deprived of their personal liberty absolutely, because they were allowed to enjoy provisional release upon a bail of P12,000 each. If they choose not to post said bail, they cannot complain for having to remain in prison.
chanrob lesvi rtua lawlib rary chan roble s virtual law libra ry

If the detention was illegal, and there is no doubt about it, respondents themselves admitting the illegality as to the ten detainees they released before the hearing of this case, the fact that respondent required them to post bail does not legalize their illegal detention. The bail requirements tends only to show respondents' stubbornness in insisting to enforce an illegal power to have the detainees under an involuntary control.
chanrob lesvi rtua lawlib rary chan roble s virtua l law lib ra ry

But even in the false hypothesis that respondents could require the detainees to post bail for their provisional release, the fact that respondents fixed the large amount of P12,000 for each, seems unbelievable sarcasm.
chanrob lesvi rtualaw lib rary c han robles v irt u al law lib rary

It is fact that the twelve detainees joined the worker's strike in a desperate endeavor to secure a decent living wage. They went into strike because with what they were being paid for their daily labor they had not enough to make both ends meet. At the time of their arrest, they were not even earning the insufficient salary or wage against which they were protesting by means of strike. If those persons were not earning enough to live as decent human beings, and at the time of their detention they were not receiving even the miserable pittance they were complaining of, it is not an insulting joke to require them to raise each P12,000 for bail, an amount, which even we, the members of the Supreme Court, occupying the highest rank in our judicial system, and receiving the highest salary allowed by law to a judicial officer, could not raise with the urgency required by the situation of a man who is deprived of his personal freedom?
chanroble s virtual law lib rary

It is also alleged that the officers who arrested the detainees believe that the latter committed sedition. Respondents themselves confess that the detainees did not commit such crime. Sedition is the crime usually resorted to by tyrants as a pretext to silence or suppress those persons who have the firmness of character to oppose them and expose their abuses. Socrates was sentenced to drink hemlock for the sedition of giving freedom and wings to the Greek thought in his painstaking philosophical search for truth. Because he preached the gospel of human brotherhood, Jesus was crucified for sedition.
chanrob lesvi rtua lawlib rary chan robles v irt ual law l ibra ry

The tyrants of one-fourth of a century ago, who controlled the situation in the Philippines - tyrants are wild animals that may appear in any country - following the foot-steps of their predecessors in other places, tried to smash the crusade for clean government, which was our lot towage in one of the newspapers of Manila, by prosecuting us for the crime of sedition. (United States vs. Perfecto and Mendoza, 43 Phil., 58,62-64.) The following paragraphs in the decision of the Supreme Court in that case, seem to us to ring with trenchant actuality: When the citizens of a state convinced that the administration of the affairs of their government is not carried on in accordance with the law, or is not conducted for the best interest of all concerned, they have not only a right but it is their duty to present the case of their grievances to the public, and the free press of the state usually affords the best avenue for that purpose. To that end, the organic laws of all modern free states have wisely provided that "no law shall be passed, abridging the freedom of the press" and that no person shall be punished except for an abuse of that freedom. The interest of civilized society and the maintenance of good government demand a full and free discussion of all affairs of public interest. Complete liberty to comment upon the administration of the Government, as well as the conduct of the public men, is necessary for free speech. The people are not obliged, under modern civilized governments, to speak of the conduct of their officials, of their servants, in whispers or bated breath. (United States vs. Bustos, 37 Phil., 731.)
chanroble s virtual law l ibra ry

The right to assemble and petition the Government, and to make requests and demands upon public officials, is a necessary consequence of republican and democratic institutions, and the complement of the right of free speech. (United States vs. Bustos, supra.)
chan rob les vi rtual law lib rary

The freedom of the press consists in the right to publish the truth, with good motives and for justifiable ends, although said publication may be offensive to the Government, to the courts, or to individuals.
chanrob lesvi rtualaw lib rary c hanrobles vi rt ual law li bra ry

Chief Justice Marshall of the Supreme Court of the United States, in discussing the freedom of the press, said: "The spirit of the constitution and the opinion of the people cannot be curbed by those who administer the Government. Among those principles which are held most sacred by the people of America, there is none more deeply rooted in the public mind than that of the liberty of the press"
chanrob les vi rtual law lib rary

Mr. Daniel Webster had occasion to discuss the same question. He said: "It is important to safeguard to the utmost the right to free speech and the free press. It is the ancient and constitutional right of our people to judge public matters and public men. It is such a self-evident right as the right to breathe the air and to walk on the surface of the earth. I will defend this high constitutional prerogative in time of war, in time of peace, and all the time. Dead or alive I shall maintain it."
chanroble s virtual l aw lib rary

It is the particular duty of the people of the state to zealously maintain the right to express freely, either verbally or by publication, their honest convictions regarding the acts of the public officials and the governing class. If the people of the free state should give up the right of free speech; if they are daunted by fears and threats, and abdicate their convictions; if the governing body of the state could silence all the voices except those that extol their acts; if not relating to the conduct of the governing class can reach the people except that which will uphold the men in power, then we may well say "Good-bye" to our liberties forever. While under such circumstances free governments may still be maintained, their life, their soul, and their essentials will be gone. If the publication of the conduct of the public officials annoys them, let them examine their own act and determine the fundamental cause of the complaint. Even during the time of illustrious Voltaire, he expressed the opinion that "tolerance was never the cause of internal strife in the state, but, on the contrary, the pursuit of intolerance has covered the world with blood. The tyrants of our thoughts have caused the greater part of the misfortunes of the world."
chan rob les virtual law l ibra ry

Mr. Ralph Waldo Emerson in discussing the question before us, said: "If there were a country where knowledge could not be spread without incurring the penalty of the law; where there is no free speech, where correspondence and publicity are violated, that country would not be civilized, but it would be barbarous."
chan robles v irt ual law l ibra ry

Mr. Henry Ward Beecher on one occasion said: "The term 'free' is akin to the wind that blows over the regions infected with malaria and exposes to the light and germs of the disease. When the freedom of speech is curtailed, infection sets in and death quickly follows. Our schoolboys are no more compelled to count "Ichi, ni, san, si," to sing "Hamabe No Uta," to salute "ohayoo," or "kombanwa," or to intersperse their talk with "arigatoo" or "sayoonara." No more lecturer is teaching us the "tyu no yu" and flower arrangement as the highest expressions of culture. The political philosophy of "Daitoa Kyoeiken" (Greater East Asia Co-Prosperity Sphere, under the Japanese hegemony) has banished as unwanted nightmare. The voice of the Nippon geo-politicians preaching "Hakko Ichiu," the Emperor's way, the universal brotherhood under the benevolent guidance of the direct descendant of Amaterasu Omikani, we do not hear any more. The bow-legged and be-sworded samurai successors, indoctrinated in the traditions of bushido knighthood, ceased to plunder, to rape, and to cut throats in our midst. Our sleep is no more disturbed by the hobnail terror stalking in our sidewalks at midnight. The public bowings to brutal sentries, and by high officials and employees of the government towards the Imperial Palace at Tokyo, are no more. But it seems, as exemplified in this case, that the feudalistic ideology behind all occupation facts and acts has left its pernicious in our soil.
chanroblesv irt ualawli bra ry chan rob les vi rtual law lib rary

The wanton disregard shown by those responsible for the arrest to the rights of the twelve detainees, those rights being among the fundamental ones guaranteed by the constitution, cannot be explained otherwise.
chanroble svirtualawl ibra ry cha nrob les vi rtua l law lib rary

There was no absolutely legal ground to disturb or obstruct the twelve detainees in their absolutely lawful and peaceful activities, and much less to deprive them of their personal freedom and then keep them in jail for an indefinite period of time, only interrupted upon the filing of a petition for a writ of habeas corpus in this case.
chanroblesv irt ualawli bra ry chan roble s virtual law lib rary

It is our opinion that those government officers who are responsible for the detention and confinement of the twelve detainees, depriving them of personal liberty without due process of law, as guaranteed by the Constitution, are liable for prosecution under article 124 of the Revised Penal Code which provides as follows: Arbitrary detention. - Any public officer or employee who, without legal grounds, detains a person, shall suffer:
c han robles v irt ual law li bra ry

1. The penalty of arresto mayor in its maximum period to prision correccional in its minimum period, if the detention has not exceeded three days;
chanrobles v irt ual law l ibra ry

2. The penalty of prision correccional in its medium and maximum periods, if the detention has continued more than three but not more than fifteen days;
chan roble s virtual law l ibra ry

3. The penalty of prision mayor, if the detention has continued for more than fifteen days but not more than six months; and
chanrob les vi rtua l law lib rary

4. That of reclusion temporal, if the detention shall have exceeded six months.

chan roble svirt ualawli bra ry chan rob les vi rtual law lib rary

The commission of a crime, or violent insanity or any other ailment requiring the compulsory confinement of the patient in the hospital, shall be considered legal grounds for the detention of any person. But even if the detention in question was made "for some legal ground," a conjecture in support of which no sufficient ground appears in this case, still those who made the arrest are liable for prosecution under article 125 of the Revised Penal Code, because they failed to deliver the twelve detainees to the proper judicial authorities within the period of six hours after detention. Said article is as follows: Delay in the delivery of detained persons to the proper judicial authorities. - The penalties provided in the next preceding article shall be imposed upon the public officer or employee who shall detain any person for some legal ground and shall fail to deliver such person to the proper judicial authorities within the period of six hours. (As amended by Com. Act No. 3940.) The idea of prosecuting them under the above cited articles of the Revised Penal Code may appear to be hard, but we must not forget that "dura lex, sed lex" and whatever may be the consequences the law must be given its way.
ch anroble svirtualawl ibra ry cha nro bles vi rtua l law lib ra ry

We can imagine how the erring officials will feel at the prospective prosecution and how they might consider unbearable the idea of being sent to jail, but was it sweet or delicious for the twelve detainees to be illegally deprived of their freedom and confined in prison for so many days and nights, without any fault on their part at all? If respondents are zealous in keeping their own personal freedom, they cannot deny the victims of their recklessness the same legitimate desire.
chanroblesv irt ualawli bra ry chan rob les vi rtual law lib rary

Everybody can imagine the indescribable physical, mental and moral sufferings endured by the twelve detainees and their respective families. The indignation felt by one who is the victim of unjustifiable

onslaught upon his individual dignity, the paralyzing anguish of the down-trodden who feels overwhelmed by brutal superior force against which his weakness cannot offer but the answer of futile despair, the excruciating thought of the alarm their absence will produce in their humble little homes, where their unprotected wives will try to drown their worries in bitter tears, while their little ones are trying to understand in infantile amazement the absence of their father and the tragedy entailed by that absence, are things that can hardly be attenuated by the thought that, after all, the Nippon kempei has already banished as an asphyxiating dream, and the unfortunate situation cannot be as bad as the sadistic and bestial horrors that the very mention of Fort Santiago conjure in our imagination, the mere memory of which produces thick sweat and blood congelation. There is no treasure in the world that can adequately compensate such sufferings. The only consolation that the situation may offer is the bereft hope that such sufferings may have the effect of awakening the conscience of our public officials so as to induce them to make the firm resolve to avoid the repetition of such abuses as the ones depicted in this case, that the guilty ones will earnestly repent of their misdeeds and will henceforth endeavor to accord the proper regard to the rights and liberties of their fellow human beings, thus contributing to diminish so many rampant manifestations of moral misorientation, including attempts to degrade the highest tribunal of the country, that now offend the good sense of the average citizen.
chanroblesv irt ualawli bra ry chan roble s vi rtual law lib rary

The provision of law punishing arbitrary or illegal detention committed by government officers form part or our statute books even before the advent of American sovereignty in our country. Those provisions were already in effect during the Spanish regime; they remained in effect under the American rule; continued in effect under the Commonwealth. Even under the Japanese regime they were not repealed. The same provisions continue in the statute books of the free and sovereign Republic of the Philippines. This notwithstanding, and the complaints often heard of violation of said provisions, it is very seldom that prosecutions under them have been instituted due to the fact that the erring individuals happened to belong to the same government to which the prosecuting officers belong. It is high time that every one must do his duty, without fear or favor, and that prosecuting officers should not answer with cold shrugging of the shoulders the complaints of the victims of arbitrary or illegal detention.
cha nrob lesvi rtua lawlib rary chan roble s virtual law l ibra ry

Only by an earnest enforcement of the provisions of articles 124 and 125 of the Revised Penal Code will it possible to reduce to its minimum such wanton trampling of personal freedom as depicted in this case. The responsible officials should be prosecuted, without prejudice to the detainees' right to the indemnity to which they may be entitled for the unjustified violation of their fundamental rights.
chanroblesv irt ualawli bra ry cha nrob les vi rtual law lib rary

The question of an economic rehabilitation of our country is an everyday topic in the newspapers. We deem more important still the moral rehabilitation of our people; especially that of the officialdom. The Constitution requires (section 5, Article 41) that "All schools shall aim to develop moral character, personal discipline, civic conscience, and vocational efficiency and to teach the duties of citizenship," and it will be highly desirable that this mandate should be borne in mind all officers of the government, and that the qualities The Constitution ordains to be developed in all citizens should be, with more emphasis, required from officials and employees of the government, thus correcting the negative tropism shown in this case in regard to fundamental civil liberties.
chanroblesv irt ualawli bra ry chan rob les vi rtual l aw libra ry

The filing of information for insignificant misdemeanors against Pascual Montaniel and Pacifico Deoduco appears to us as a poor face-saving device to justify, in some way, their further detention, and should not be countenanced as a means to defeat the release of said two detainees.
chanroblesv irt ualawli bra ry chan rob les vi rtual law lib rary

In explaining in this concurring opinion, our position in voting in favor of the resolution of November 12, 1946, we wish to make clear that we do not interpret article 125 of the Revised Penal Code as legalizing detentions not exceeding six hours. Said article does not legalize an illegal detention. It only offers a justifying circumstance which exempts the erring officials from criminal prosecution, provided that the detention is made upon legal grounds and do not last more than six hours, but it will, and cannot, defeat a petition for a writ of habeas corpus in behalf of a person illegally detained although the petition is filed before the termination of the six hours period mentioned in the article, as the constitutional guarantee of personal freedom is not subject to any time limit.
chanroblesv irt ualawli bra ry chanro bles vi rtua l law li bra ry

We wish to emphasize that it is highly dangerous to make the fundamental rights to the citizens a kind of shuttlecock of passing moods or momentary whims of persons wielding some kind of government powers. When the oestrous of official intolerance and braggadocio employed to cow into submission the twelve detainees has subsided, everybody will recognize in the cool and serene recesses of their conscience, that those who, under the pretext of subduing allegedly seditious persons; committed the arbitrariness complained of in the petition, trod a perilous path that, as shown by the experience of other countries, usually lead to the implantation of a dictatorship, whose whole philosophy is built upon the hateful slogan that everything, including the most cherished possessions and the most blessed ideals of the people, should be sacrificed for the sake of the state supremacy.
cha nrob lesvi rtua lawlib rary chan roble s virtual law l ibra ry

We are glad that two civic-minded groups of citizens, the Philippine Civil Liberties Union and the Philippine Lawyers Guild, have taken pains to appear in this Court in behalf of the twelve detainees, and we congratulate them for the success of their endeavors.
chanrob lesvi rtua lawlib rary chan roble s virtual law l ibra ry

By actual personal experience and upon conclusive evidence, we know that it is not enough that the civil liberties and fundamental human rights be guaranteed in express constitutional provisions in order that they should effectively be protected. Eternal vigilance and constant willingness and readiness to fight for them are necessary.
chan roble svirtualawl ibra ry cha nrob les vi rtua l law lib rary

When World War I was nearing its end, in the exercise of the freedom of the press, guaranteed by the Jones Law, as Editor ofLa Nacion, we made exposures of many unsatisfactory aspects of public affairs as they were then conducted. We made revelations regarding the scandals of the Philippine National Bank which caused many millions of losses to our Government. The powerful wanted us to be silenced. The Governor General, first through his Secretary, Mr. Irwin, and later through General Crame,Chief of the Philippine Constabulary, tried to intimidate us with drastic action by the Government if we should not stop the publications of the irregularities and illegalities we were denouncing then in the columns of our paper. They reminded us that the war justified any extraordinary measures by the Government, and that our denunciations, by tending to destroy public confidence in the authorities, were highly seditious. Our invariable answer to Mr. Irwin and General Crame was that the Governor General and they themselves were free to do what it would please them, but nothing shall deter us from doing what according to our conscience, was our public duty. As we did not allow ourselves to be intimidated, a series of criminal prosecutions were instituted against us. Although the lower courts should invariably find us guilty, the Supreme Court had always acquitted us, by upholding the freedom of the press.
chanroblesv irt ualawli bra ry chan rob les vi rtual law lib rary

The existence of the liberal elements, always watchful and ready to defend the victims of violations of the Bill of Rights, is necessary to vitalize democracy and to give tangible reality to the guarantees of the Constitution. The fight for personal freedom must go on, over and over again, as the forces of reaction are always ready to snatch any opportunity to set at naught the guarantees of the fundamental laws, as happened in the bail incident in People vs. Jalandoni (G.R. No. L-777),and all liberal forces must always be ready to answer the summons of endangered liberties.
chanroblesv irtualawl ibra ry cha nrob les vi rtua l law lib rary

The attainment of great ideals needs faith, passionate adherence to them, the militant attitude manifested in the unflinching readiness to fight and face hardships and sacrifices, unconquerable steadfastness and unbreakable perseverance in the face of obstacles and setbacks. These are the conditions and qualities with which thinkers and philosophers were able to discover the truth which have guided humanity as beacons in the path of progress; the founders of great religions, to transmit to millions their message of hope and gospel of eternal moral principles: Columbus, to discover the New World, and Magellan to transverse the two largest oceans and encircle the globe; astronomers, to pierce the immensity of space to conquer new stars, parsecs away; bacteriologists, to scavenge dangerous micro-organisms; scientists, to fossick in the mysteries of matter to wrest new revelations which enhance the intellectual horizon of man increase his means for enjoyment of life and happiness. The same conditions and qualities are among those needed by all liberal and progressive spirits to keep lighted the torch of liberty, to squelch the hydra of reaction, to conserve the moral heritage of advancement and conquest in the emporium of human rights bequeathed by the champions and martyrs who waged the heroic battles for real spiritual values and for the dignity of man as the image of God.

Appendix A PETITION
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Petitioner Cecilio M. Lino, through his undersigned counsel, respectfully alleges:

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1. That the petitioner is of legal age and a resident of the City of Manila, Philippines; the respondent Valeriano E. Fugoso is the Mayor of the City of Manila; the respondent Lamberto T. Javalera is the Chief of Police of the said City; and the respondent John Doe is the Officer in Charge of the Municipal Jail of the same City;
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2. That the petitioner is the President of the City Employees' and Workers' Union, Congress of Labor Organization (CLO), duly registered as a labor organization under the provisions of Commonwealth Act No. 213; and he files this petition on behalf of the following persons, members of the said labor organization, who are imprisoned and deprived of their liberty, to wit: 1. Ricardo Suarez (Juarez) 2. Gregorio Santiago 3. Ismael de Jesus 4. Serafin Pascual 5. Amado Racanday 6. Antonio Bulagda (Burlagada) 7. Mauro Fernandez 8. Jose Badeo 9. Francisco Nevado (Lebado) 10. Pascual Montaniel 11. Pedro Martinez and 12. Pacifico Deoduco; 3. That, within the time comprised between November 5 and November 8, 1946, the persons above named were arrested without warrant and without lawful cause, upon order of the respondent Valeriano E. Fugoso, as Mayor of City of Manila, by members of the Police Department of said City, of which the respondent Lamberto T. Javalera is the Chief, and, immediately thereafter, were taken to, and detained at, the Municipal Jail of the aforementioned City, of which the respondent John Doe is the Officer in Charge;
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4. That since their arrest all the persons mentioned in paragraph 2 hereof have been detained and deprived of their liberty by the respondents at said Municipal Jail, although no charges have been filed against any of the above mentioned persons in any lawful court, nor has any judicial or other proper authority issued any order authorizing their continued detention, and notwithstanding the lapse of the period of six hours from the time of their arrest and/or commitment;
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5. That the aforementioned persons were arrested while in the peaceful exercise of their constitutional rights of freedom of speech and of the press and peaceably to assemble and petition the Government for the redress of their grievances, specially, while performing the following acts to enlist public support in the pursuit of their right to a living wage, to wit: (a) Ricardo Suarez (Juarez), Gregorio Santiago, Ismael de Jesus and Serafin Pascual - arrested on November 5, 1946 at Pinkian Street, Tondo, Manila, for no apparent reason, but for posting and distributing handbills explaining the plight of the city laborers on strike, and appealing to and for the sympathy and lawful support of the public; (b) Amado Racanday, Antonio Bulgada (Burlagada) and Mauro Fernandez - arrested on November 6, 1946, while standing at the corner of Gral. Luna and California streets, Paco, Manila, for no apparent reason, except that they had joined the city laborers' strike, and for having in their possession some copies of the handbills above mentioned;
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(b) Jose Badeo and Francisco Nevado (Lebado) - arrested on November 6, 1946, while standing at the corner of Perez and California Streets, Paco, Manila, for no apparent reason except that they had joined the city laborers' strike and had in their possession a notice of a meeting of their labor organization;
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(c) Pascual Montaniel - arrested on November 8, 1946, at Cristobal Street, Paco, Manila, for no apparent reason, except that he made a friendly greeting to a non-striker;
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(d) Pedro Martinez - arrested on November 8, 1946, at Juan Luna Street, Gagalangin, Manila, for no apparent reason, except that he had joined the city laborers' strike and walked along the street with a paper band strung diagonally from his shoulder around his body bearing the following words: "Damayan Kami! Huag Mageskirol" (Help us! Do not be scab); and
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(e) Pacifico Deoduco - arrested on November 7, 1946, at Cristobal Street, Manila, for no apparent reason except that he had joined the city laborers' strike. Wherefore, petitioner prays that a writ of habeas corpus be directed forthwith to the respondent commanding them, or any of them, to have the bodies of the above named persons who are restrained and deprived of their liberty before this Honorable Court at a time and place to be designated by this Court; and, after due hearing, forthwith to order their discharge from confinement, with cost against the respondents.
chan roble svirtualawl ibra ry cha nrob les vi rtua l law lib rary

Manila, Philippines, November 11th, 1946.

Emmanuel Pelaez Francisco A. Rodrigo Enriquez M. Fernando Manuel M. Crudo Claudio Teehankee and Jose W. Diokno. By: (Sgd.) Emmanuel Pelaez Pelaez Counsel for the petitioner % Philippine Civil Liberties Union 503 China Bank Building, Dasmarias Manila By: (Sgd.) Claudio Teehankee Counsel for the Petitioner % Philippine Lawyers' Guild, 319 Lardizabal Street, Manila

VERIFICATION Cecilio M. Lino, of legal age, after being duly sworn in accordance with law, deposes and says: 1. That he is the petitioner in the foregoing petition for a writ of habeas corpus; 2. That he caused the same to be prepared and presented; and 3. That all the facts therein alleged are true and correct.
chanrob lesvi rtua lawlib rary c han robles v irt ual law li bra ry chanrob les vi rtua l law lib rary chanro bles vi rtua l law li bra ry cha nrob les vi rtua l law lib rary

Further affiant sayeth naught. Manila, November 11, 1946.

(Sgd.) Cecilio M. Lino Affiant


Subscribed and sworn to before me this 11th day of November, 1946, at the City of Manila, Philippines. The affiant exhibited to me his Residence Certificate No. A-20721, issued at the City of Manila, on January 9, 1946.

(Sgd.) F.A. Rodrigo Notary Public Until December 31, 1947


Doc. No. 36 Page No. 9 Book No. 1 Series of 1946. Appendix B RETURN OF WRIT
cha nro bles vi rtua l law lib ra ry

Come now in the above-entitled case, Valeriano E. Fugoso, Lamberto T. Javalera and John Doe, in their respective capacities as Mayor, Chief of Police and Officer in Charge of the Municipal Jail, all of the City of Manila, through their counsel, the undersigned City Fiscal, and in making their return to the petition filed herein, to this Honorable Court respectfully allege:
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1. That they admit the allegations contained in paragraphs 1 and 2 of said petition.

chan roble svirtualawl ibra ry cha nrob les vi rtua l law lib rary

2. That they admit the fact, stated in paragraph 3 of said petition, regarding the arrest of the persons whose names are listed in paragraph 2 thereof, without warrant, by members of Manila Police Department, and their detention until yesterday, November 11, 1946, at the Municipal Jail of the City of Manila; but they deny the rest of the allegations especially that which states for a fact that said detained persons were arrested without lawful cause upon order of the respondent Valeriano E. Fugoso, as Mayor of the City of Manila, the truth of the matter being that the arrest was lawful, it having made by members of the Manila Police Department duly appointed and qualified as such who acted in the performance of their official duties, and acting in the belief that the said detained persons, before or at the time of their arrest, were committing acts in violation of the laws of the land.
chan roble svirtualawl ibra ry cha nrob les vi rtua l law lib rary

3. That they admit the fact, alleged in paragraph 4 of said petition, that all the arrested persons have been placed under detention until yesterday, November 11,1946, at the Municipal Court of the City of Manila; but they deny the rest of the allegations, specially that part which says that no charges have been filed against them notwithstanding the lapse of the period of six hours from the time of their arrest and commitment, the truth of the matter being that charges for inciting to sedition, disobedience to police orders and resisting arrest have been filed against them by the arresting police officers with the Office of the City Fiscal which has conducted the preliminary investigation of said cases in accordance with law.
cha nrob lesvi rtua lawlib rary chan roble s virt ual law l ibra ry

4. That they deny the allegations contained in paragraph 5 of said petition, the same being merely conclusions of facts and/or of law.
c hanro blesvi rt ualawlib ra ry chan roble s virtual law lib rary

As special defenses, respondents hereby allege:

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(a) That all of the twelve detained persons were arrested by police officers for acts which the arresting officers believed to constitute inciting to sedition, resisting arrest and disobedience to police orders, filing the corresponding cases against them with the Office of the City Fiscal immediately thereafter.
chanroble svirtualawl ibra ry cha nro bles vi rtua l law lib ra ry

(b) That yesterday, November 11, 1946, before and after the receipt by them of their respective copies of the petition for habeas corpus herein filed, complaints had already been presented with the Municipal Court of Manila against Pascual Montaniel and Pacifico Deoduco not for inciting to sedition but for unjust vexation and for disobedience to police orders, respectively, the same being criminal cases Nos. 6765 and 7666 of the Municipal Court of Manila, copies of which complaints are being attached hereto and made a part hereof as Annexes 1 and 2.
cha nrob lesvi rtua lawlib rary c han robles v irt ual law l ibra ry

(c) That likewise, before and after the receipt by them of their respective copies of the petition of habeas corpus, said respondent Valeriano E. Fugoso and Lamberto T. Javalera had already been notified of the dismissal by the Office of the City Fiscal of the cases for inciting to sedition against all the detained persons, for insufficiency of the evidence, and of filing in the Municipal Court of Manila complaints against Pascual Montaniel and Pacifico Deoduco, as aforesaid.
chanro blesvi rtua lawlib rary chan roble s virtual law l ibra ry

(d) That, similarly, before and after his receipt of a copy of the petition for habeas corpus, the respondent John Doe, in his capacity as Officer in charge of the Municipal Jail, had received from the City Fiscal letters bearing date of November 11, 1946, copies of which are hereto attached as Annexes 3 and 4 of this Return, wherein he was advised that the cases against said detained persons for inciting to sedition have been dismissed for insufficiency of evidence, but the complaints were being filed against Pascual Montaniel and Pacifico Deoduco for unjust vexation and for disobedience to police orders, respectively, and wherein said respondent John Doe has been ordered by the City Fiscal to forthwith release all of said detained persons with the exception of Pascual Montaniel and Pacifico Diodoco, an order which has been complied with by said respondent John Doe as shown by the fact that said detained persons, with the exception of the latter two, had forthwith been released from custody.
chan roblesv irt ualawli bra ry chan rob les vi rtual law lib rary

(e) That Pascual Montaniel and Pacifico Deoduco continue to be detained and are deprived of their liberty not without lawful cause, for the reason that there are at present pending against them criminal complaints with the Municipal Court of Manila for unjust vexation and disobedience to police orders as stated above.
chanrob lesvi rtual awlib rary c ha nroble s virtual law l ib rary

Wherefore, respondents herein pray this Honorable Court to dismiss the petition, with costs against the petitioner.
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Manila, November 12, 1946.

(Sgd.) Jose P. Bengzon City Fiscal


Annex 1 INFORMATION The undersigned accuses Pascual Montaniel y Avelar of the crime of unjust vexation, committed as follows:
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That on or about the 8th of November, 1946, in the City of Manila, Philippines, the said accused did then and there wilfully, unlawfully, feloniously and unjust vex and annoy one Jesus Cambare, who was then a driver at the City Motor Pool assigned to the Department of Engineering and Public Works of the Government of the City of Manila, while in the act of managing, driving and operating a jeep being

used by the Assistant City Engineer of said City in the latter's capacity, by then and there stopping the jeep driven by said Jesus Cambare without any just cause therefor and telling him to stop driving for the City of Manila while the strike of city laborers was still going on, all in a threatening attitude, and to the great disgust and annoyance of the aforementioned Jesus Cambare. Contrary to law.

(Sgd.) JULIO VILLAMOR Assistant Fiscal


Witnesses: Jesus Cambre - 615 Merced, Paco Dets. Felix T. Pineda and Victoriano Antonio - Det. Bureau Chief Clerk - Dept. of Engineering and Public Works, City Hall (bringing records re appointment of Jesus Cambare as driver at the City Motor Pool) Annex 2 INFORMATION
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The undersigned accuses Pacifico Deudoco of a violation of the second paragraph of Art. 151 of the Revised Penal Code, committed as follows:
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That on or about the 7th day of November, 1946, in the City of Manila, Philippines, the said accused did then and there wilfully, unlawfully and feloniously disobey Vicente Celeridad, a duly appointed and qualified police officer of the City of Manila and, therefore, an agent of a person in authority, while the latter was acting in the performance of his official duties, to wit: while he was guarding the premises of the City Motor Pool on Cristobal St., in said City, which acts of disobedience was in the following manner: That said accused, having entered and was actually found in the aforesaid premises where he had no right to be, without the knowledge and consent of the authorities concerned, and having been ordered several times by the aforesaid police officer to go out of and leave the said premises, defiantly and persistently refused to do so, but instead he continued to remain therein. Contrary to law.

(Sgd.) JULIO VILLAMOR Assistant City Fiscal


November 11, 1946. Witnesses: Pat. V. Celeridad, Precinct No. 3. Pat. Pedro Camata, Precinct No. 3. Chief Clerk, Manila Police Dept., to bring a certified copy of the latest appointment of Pat. Vicente Celeridad of the Manila Police Dept. Bail recommended: P200 Annex 3
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November 11, 1946


The Prison Officer City Jail, Manila. Sir:
chanro bles vi rtua l law lib ra ry

chan roble svi rtualawl ib rary c hanro bles vi rt ual law li bra ry

With reference to the case of inciting to sedition presented with this Office against (1) Ricardo Suarez, (2) Gregorio Santiago (3) Ismael de Jesus,(4) Serafin Pascual, (5) Amado Racanday, (6) Antonio Bulagua (Burlagua),(7) Mauro Fernandez, (8) Jose Radeo, (9) Francisco Navado (Levado), (10) Pascual Montaniel, and (11) Pedro Martinez, please be informed that after an investigation has been conducted in the premises, it was found out that there is no sufficient evidence to warrant the prosecution of said accused in court, it appearing that the leaflets, posters and other propaganda sheets which said accused distributed to the public and pasted or posted at different places within the city, did not contain any statement or phrases of seditious nature or of the nature to incite to the commission of sedition. This Office, however, is filing a complaint with the Municipal Court against Pascual Montaniel y Avelar for unjust vexation only, wherein a bail of P100 has been recommended for his temporary release.
chanroblesvi rtua lawlib rary chan roble s virtual law li bra ry

In view of the foregoing, of the said accused, except Pascual Montaniel y Avelar, should be released from the custody or their bonds cancelled, if any have been put up for their temporary release unless they are held on other charges.

Respectfully,

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(Sgd.) JOSE P. BENGZON City Fiscal


ANNEX

November 11, 1946


The Prison Officer City Jail, Manila. Sir:
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chan roble svi rtualawl ib rary c hanro bles vi rt ual law li bra ry

With reference to the cases of disobedience to the Police and resisting arrest presented to this Office against Pacifico Deoduco y Docio, please be informed that after an investigation has been conducted in the premises, it was found out that there is no sufficient evidence to warrant his prosecution in court for the offense of resisting arrest. This Office, however, is filing today a complaint with the Municipal Court against the said accused for disobedience to an agent of a person in authority, under the second paragraph of Art. 151 of the Revised Penal Code, wherein a bail of P200.00 has been recommended for his temporary release.
chanroble svirt ualawli bra ry chan rob les vi rtual law lib rary

Very respectfully,

Respectfully,

chanrob les virtual law library

(Sgd.) Jose P. Bengzon City Fiscal


BRIONES, M., conforme:
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El presente caso es un incidente de la famosa huelga declarada y efectuada en Noviembre del ano pasado (1946)por obreros organizados de la ciudad de Manila en el servicio municipal de limpieza de calles y en obras publicastambien municipales. Como fondo historico del caso en general, y de esta opinion en particular, cabe incluir en lanarracion de hechos el de que - como es acostumbrado eneste genero de convulsiones sociales - despues de mucho apasionamiento por ambos lados, de no poca nerviosidad y delaboriosas negociaciones, la huelga que duro unas dos semandasquedo satisfactoriamente solucionada, aviniendoselos huelguistas a volver a su trabajo a cambio de ciertasconcesiones que hizo el Municipio de Manila, particularmenteen la cuestion de bonificaciones y salarios. Sin embargo, resulta de autos y de la historia el dia reflejada principalmente en la prensa (de lo cual podemos naturalmente tomar conocimiento judicial) que la exaltacion de los animos, la pasion al rojo vivo produjeron algunos incidentes,unos dramaticos, otros comicos, llegando la tension nerviosade algunos a exagerar tremendamente las proporciones delmovimiento hasta el extremo de imaginarse rebeliones y sedicionesalli donde no habia sino un espiritu algun tantomilitante de parte de los obreros en la defensa de sus derechose intereses y en la propaganda de su causa con lamira de ganarse la simpatica del publico. Uno de esos incidenteses la cogida o aprehension por la policia, sin previaorden de arresto, por el especioso pretexto de que estabanincitando y promoviendo nada menos que una sedicioncontra el gobierno constituido, de doce obreros huelgistas,confinandoseles en la carcel por dicho motivo.
chanroblesv irt ualawli bra ry chanrobles vi rt ual law li bra ry

En nombre de esos doce se ha presentado esta solicitudde mandamiento de habeas corpus por Cecilio M. Lino, presidente de la Union de Empleados y Obreros de la Ciudad, filial del "Congress of Labor Organizations" (CLO), defendiendo les como abogados Emmanuel Pelaez, Francisco A. Rodrigo y Enrique M. Fernando, miembros y representantes de la sociedad civica "Philippine Civil Liberties Union," y Manuel M. Crudo, Claudio Teehankee y Jose W. Diokno, miembros, y representantes del "Philippine Lawyers' Guild." En nombre de los recurridos ha comparecidoante esta Corte el Fiscal auxiliar Julio Villamor, de la ciudad de Manila.
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Alegase en la solicitud que los doce obreros de que setrata fueron arrestados mientras estaban ejerciendo pacificamentesus derechos constitucionales, a saber: la libertadde la palabra y de la prensa, y el de reunion pacificapara pedir del gobierno el alvio de sus agravios. Se detallanespecificamente los actos en que estaban ocupados cuando fueron arrestados, a saber:

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(a) Ricardo Suarez (Juarez), Gregorio Santiago, Ismaelde Jesus y Serafin Pascual fueron arrestados el 5 de Noviembre, 1946, en la calle de Pinkian, arrabal de Tondo, Manila, mientras estaban distribuyendo y pegando en lasparades hojas volantes en que se explicaban las miserias y tribulaciones de los obreros en huelga y se apelaba a lasimpatia y sentimientos humanitarios del publico para que apoyara la causa de los huelguistas.
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(b) Amando Racanday, Antonio Bulagada (Burlagada) y Mauro Fernandez fueron arrestados el 6 de Noviembre,1946, mientras estaban tranquilamente parados en la esquinade las calles de California y Gral. Luna, Paco, Manila,y sin ningun motivo aparente como no fuese el deque se habian adherido a la huelga y se hallaron en suposesion copias de las hojas volantes mencionadas en alparrafo anterior.
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(c) Jose Badeo y Francisco Nevado (Levado) fueron arrestados el 6 de Noviembre, 1946, mientras estaban tranquilamenteparados en la asquina de las calles de Perez y California, Paco, Manila, y tambien sin ningun motivo manifiestocomo no fuese el de que se habian adherido igualmentea la huelga y tenian en su poder el aviso de unareunion que la organizacion obrera a que estaban afiliadosiba a celebrar.
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(d) Pedro Martinez fue arrestado el 8 de Noviembre,1946, en la calle de Juan Luna, Gagalagin, Manila, y sinninguna razon aparente excepto que el mismo se habiaadherido a la huelga y andaba paseandose a lo largo dedicha calle con una banda llamativa que llevaba diagonalmentealrededor de su cuerpo y en la cual estaban escritaslas siguientes palabras en tagalo: DAMAYAN KAMI, HUAGMAG-ISKIROL! (Help us! Don't be a scab! - Ayudadnos! No seais desertores!)
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(e) Pascual Montaniel fue arrestado el 8 de Noviembre,1946, en la calle de Cristobal, Paco, Manila, sin ningunmotivo aparente como no fuese el de que habia saludado amistosamente a uno que no era huelguista.
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(f) Pacifico Deoduco fue arrestado el 7 de Noviembre1946, en la citada calle de Cristobal tambien sin razonmanifiesta excepto que se habia adherido a la huelga.
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Se puso de manifiesto en la audiencia, en los informesorales producidos por las partes, que los obreros arribamencionados fueron recluidos en los calabozos desde quefueron arrestados hasta que, por recomendacion del PromotorFiscal de la Ciudad, la Policia los puso en libertad,menos Montaniel y Deoduco, a las tres y media de la tardedel 11 Noviembre, por haberse hallado, segun la cartade dicho Fiscal al oficial de las prisiones de Manila, "queno hay prueba suficiente para justificar la prosecucion dedichos acusados ante los tribunales, apareciendo que las hojas volantes, manifiestos y otras hojas de propaganda quetales acusados distribuyeron entre el publico y exhibierono fijaron en diferentes lugares dentro de la ciudad, no contenianninguna frase o expresion de caracter sedicioso ode tal naturaleza que incitase la comision del delito de sedicion" (Carta del Fiscal de la Ciudad de Manila, Jose P. Bengzon, de 11 de Noviembre de 1946, al oficial de lasprisiones de la ciudad, anexo 3). Se ordeno, sin embargo,la continuacion de la detencion de Montaniel y Deoduco, a pesarde que tampoco habia pruebas de sedicion contra ellos, porque la Fiscalia decidio a ultima hora presentar querellas,a saber: (a) contra Montaniel, por supuesta vejacioninjusta, alegandose que el 8 de Noviembre, mientras Jesus Cambare guiaba y manejaba un "jeep" de la oficina del Ingeniero de la ciudad, Montaniel trato de pararle diciendoleque dejase de guiar al servicio de la ciudad de Manilamientras durase la huelga, 'con gran disgusto y molestiade dicho Jesus Cambare"; (b) contra Deoduco, por supuestadesobediencia a un policia, alegandose en la querella queel 7 de Noviembre, 1946, el acusado entro sin permiso en el deposito de vehiculos de motor (motor pool) de la ciudadsituado en la calle de Cristobal, Paco, y que cuando el policiade guardia, Vicente Celeridad, le intimido que salieradel lugar, dicho acusado persistio en quedarse desobedeciendo asi al policia.
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Al llegar a este punto parece importante, y hasta necesario, fijar especificamente el tiempo en que tuvieron lugarciertos acaecimientos y tramites. Esto nos servira paraponer de relieve ciertos hechos capitales y ciertos puntosen contencion, y evaluarlos en toda su densidad. De autose informes resultan los siguientes hechos: (a) que lapresente solicitud de habeas corpus se presento y registroen la escribania de esta Corte el 11 de Noviembre, 1946,a las 9 de la maana poco mas o menos; (b) que el recurrido Alcalde Valeriano E. Fugoso fue emplazado de la solicituden aquella misma manana, a las 11:20; (c) que elrecurrido jefe de policia Lamberto Javalera tambien fueemplazado de la solicitud en aquella misma manana, a las11:30; (d) que el recurrido oficial de las prisiones de laciudad John Doe fue asumismo emplezado en aquella manana, a las 11:30; (e) que a la 1:05 p.m. de aquel dia el Fiscal de la Ciudad envio su carta ya citada al oficial de las prisiones, dando instrucciones para que se pusiese immediamente en libertada los detenidos, menos Montaniel y Deduco; (f ) que la policiarecibo dichas instructiones a las 2 de la tarde, y las 3:30 p.m.las cumplimento soltando a los detenidos, excepto los y amencionados Montaniel y Deduco; (g) que, a pesar de que estos dosultimos fueron arrestados el 8 y 7 de Noviembre, respectivamente, la policia no envio a la Fiscalia los papelesacerca de sus casos sino en la tarde del 11 de Noviembre, esdecir, del mismo dia en que se presento la solicitud dehabeas corpus; (h) que la querella contra Montaniel, por vejacion injusta, se presento ante el juzgado municipal deManila a las 2 de la tarde del 11 de Noviembre, es decir, algunas horas despues de presentada la solicitud de habeas corpus; (i) que la querella contra Deoduco, por desobedienciaa un policia, se presento ante el juzgado municipalsolamente en la manana del 12 de Noviembre, o sea, al diasiguiente de interpuesto el recurso de habeas corpus.
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Tambien resultan de los autos e informas los siguienteshechos: (1) que respecto de los diez detenidos que posteriormentefueron puestos en libertad por no habersehallado ningun cargo fundado contra ellos, la Fiscalia admitehaber recibido a tiempo de la policia los papeles correspondientes, es decir, dentro de 6 horas despues deverificados los arrestos, pero que si no pudo presentarninguna querella durante un periodo de 7 dias - del 5 al 11de Noviembre - o decidir que no habia ninguna sedicioncomo despues decidio, fue porque tenia otros muchos trabajosy porque, ademas, necesitaba de tiempo para leer ydesentranar el significado de las hojas volantes y manifiestos,y ver si en ellos habia alguna manifestacion sediciosao criminal; (2) la Fiscalia admite que las hojas volantesy manifiestos no era voluminosos sino que se componia deunas cuantas hojas y que normalmente no se necesitabandias ni siquiera horas para leerlos y determinar su significaciony sentido, pues no estaban concebidos y escritosen jeroglificos, sino en un tagalo sencillo, llano y popular,como es usual en papeles de propaganda; (3) que durantela detencion de los arrestados se trato de gestionar yobtener su libertad provisional y la Fiscalia senalo a dichoefecto la prestacion de una fianza de P12,000 para cadauno, basando la Fiscalia su requerimiento en la gravedaddel delito supuestamente cometido - el de sedicion; (4) queasi continuaron las cosas hasta que se presento ante estaCorte la solicitud de habeas corpus en la manana del dia11, viniendo luego la rapida sucesion de acontecimientos deque ya se ha hecho merito.
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Habiendo sido puestos en libertad diez de los doce detenidosantes de que se viera la presente solicitud de habeas corpus se todavia pertinente que examinemos la totalidadde los hechos, incluso los relativos a los ya liberados? Creemos que si; la cuestion, a nuestro juicio, no ha venidoa ser meramente academica, por las siguientes razones: primera, porque ya esta Corte habia asumido jurisdiccionsobre el caso mediante la presentacion de la solicitud dehabeas corpus cuando los diez detenidos fueron soltados - de hecho, cabe afirmar que la interposicion de este recursofue el motivo de que se les soltase, pues no podia ser simplecoincidencia casual el que, al cabo de varios dias de extranainaccion, se diese como de prisa y corriendo la orden delibertad provisional unas cuantas horas despues de registradaen la escribania de esta Corte al solicitud de habeas corpus; segunda, porque si bien es cierto que Montaniel y Deoduco, los dos que no han sido soltados, fueron arrestados independientemente de los otros y en diferentes fechas, sus casos, sin embargo, son perfectamente identicos a losde los otros, pudiendo decirse que la policia arresto y detuvoa todos ellos como partes de una conspiracion y sedicionorganizada; asi que para lograr una adecuada perspectivano hay mas remedio que enfocar conjuntamente los casos,o hay que decirlo mas bien en singular - el caso de los doce;y tercera, porque si bien es verdad que en los procedimientos de habeas corpus la cuestion principal es la liberacionfisica de la persona que esta privada de libertad y quecuando se ha obtenido tal resultado parece que los procedimientos deben darse por terminados, y por lo general, huelga todo comentario o exposicion de criterio sobre loshechos y la ley o doctrina juridica aplicable o deducible delos mismos, es evidente, sin embargo, que se dan casos enque los hechos son de tal transcendencia en relacion con lavida de las instituciones, con la existencia del Estado, conlas libertades publicas, con el orden social, o con la existenciade la misma comunidad civil y politica, que no porque deliberada o indeliberadamente se logra hurtarlos a la acciony decision de los tribunales, estos quedan excusados de exponer su criterio o hacer algun pronunciamiento, maximesi como en nuestro caso, en el caso de esta Corte Suprema, el pronunciamiento judicial, la exposicion de criteriopuede no ser una cosa meramente teorica y academica, sino que puede irradiar un activo y eficaz influjo de saludableejemplaridad y repercusion en la vida juridica sentandonormas inequivocas de politica y conducta publica,o bien condenando y corrigiendo desmanes y abusos si abusosy desmanes se han cometido; y no cabe duda de queel que tenemos ante Nos es uno de esos casos. Este es uncaso en que no hay mas remedio que hablar claro y fuertepara que lo oigan hasta los sordos, si se quiere que esta republicapise terreno firme y seguro en su lento caminar haciael cumplimiento de sus destinos humanos e historicos;si se quiere que entre nosotros la constitucion, la ley, el orden,la libertad y la democracia no sean un mito, juguetede tiranuelos y despotillas, sino realidades vivientes ycotidianas; si se quiere, en una palabra, que este colosalexperimento en que estamos empenados - experimento dedemocracia politico-economico-social-cristiana en el granpielago de la Oceaia - resulte un acabado exito y una obraque podamos legar con orgullo a nuestros descendientes.
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Lo primero que salta a la vista es que los doce obrerosde que se trata no estaban cometiendo ningun delito, muchomenos el de sedicion, cuando sin previa orden judicial dearresto fueron aprehendidos como si hubiesen sido cogidos in fraganti en el preciso momento de perpetrar un crimen,de esos que dan lugar a procedimientos de oficio y capturay detencion inmediatas por cualquier agente de

seguridadpublica. Es verdad que eran huelguistas, pero es acasola huelga un crimen? Es verdad tambien que algunos deellos fueron cogidos repartiendo y distribuyendo en las calles ciertas hojas volantes y pegando en muro y paredes ciertos manifiestos, pero eran criminosos, incendiarios o subversivos estos papeles? Tampoco: la Fisacalia de la ciudad,despues de examinarlos por varios dias - paciente y minucioso examen! - acabo por dictaminar a ultima hora que se trataba de literatura inocente, esto es, que no contenia ninguna manifestacion sediciosa, recomendando en consecuencia que diez de los doce fuesen inmediatamente soltados despues de una detencion no solo absolutamente injustificada, sino ademas ilegal porque excedio con mucholas 6 horas que fija el codigo penal como tiempo maximo de detencion en los casos en que no hay previa orden judicial de arresto y no se entrega al detenido a la autoridad judicial correspondiente dentro de dichas 6 horas.
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Es cierto asimismo que algunos de los mencionados obreros fueron cogidos por la policia mientras estaban pacificamente parados en una esquina formando pequenos grupos, hallandose a lo mas en su poder copia del aviso para un mitin de la organizacion obrera a que estaban afiliados; pero de cuando aca ha sido un crimen el estar pacificamentelevantados en una esquina, siquera fuese en pequeos grupos, y el tener en el bolsillo la copia de una convatoria un mitin pacifico? Esto jamas habia sido un crimen ni en los dias mas obscuros de nuestra sujecion a la soberania americana; menos ha de serlo ahora en eque somos una nacion independiente, constituimos una republica, y estamos cobijados bajo la sombra de nuestra propia bandera, teida en grana de la sangre de tantos y tantos martires de la libertad que no, no es posible hayan muerto en vano!
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Es cierto igualmente que a uno de dichos obreros se le cogio porque andando por las calles tenia arrollada al cuerpo - notable experto en el arte de la propaganda! - Una banda en que se leian siguientes palabras en tagalo:"Damayan kami, huwag mag-eskirol!" (Help us, don't be a scab! Ayudadnos, no seais desertores!); parece que la policia hallo esto como algo subversivo, como una incitacion a cometer sedicion. Resulta patente, sin embargo, que el gesto de este obrero progandista no podia ser mas subversivo ni mas incendiario que el de Diogenes, el cinico,aquel que, metido en una barrica y portando una linterna, rodaba por las calles de Atenas en pleno dia buscando un hombre. Que sepamos, a ningun policia ateniese se le ocurrio coger a Diogenes por atentar contra la seguridad de la repoublica ...
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Ahora llegamos al caso de Montaniel y deoduco: el primero fue cogido porque trato de parar a un chofer de la ciudad mientras guiaba un "jeep" y le invito a que se sumase a la huelga; y el segundo porque entro sin permiso en un deposito de vehiculos de motor de la ciudad y no quiso salir de alli desobedeciendo las ordenes del policia de guardia. La policia creia que estos actos eran sediciosos, y arresto y detuvo a Montaniel y Deoduco por varios dias. Sin embargo, la Fiscalia, al igual que en los otros casos, dictamino que tampoco habia aqui sedicion, pero recomendo la continuacion de la detencion querellandoles por faltas que no sguiera dan lugar a obligado arresto, segun el codigo penal: contra Montaniel, por supuesta vejacion injusta; y contra Deoduco, por supuesta desobediencia ligera a unas ordenes policiacas. Verdad que esto hace recordar el laborioso parto de los montes? Un raton despues de tanto estruendo, tanta batahola ... Pero tambien hace recordar algo mas: la hoja de parra biblica para cubrir embarazos y verguenzas de ultima hora ... Algunos podran incluso decir que para el buen nombre y prestigio de la autoridad acaso hubiera sido mejor reconocer el error paladinamente, con gallarda, soltando a todos los detenidos sin excepciones forzadas y especiosas. Hay hasta grandeza y respetabilidad en la valiente admision de las propias faltas, yerros y limitaciones.
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Se ha querido atenuar la gravedad de la accion policiaca tomando poor sedicion lo que no era mas que llano ejercicio de derechos elementales de ciuadadania, con la excusa de la ignorancia, alegandose que los aprehensores eran simples patrulleros o reclutas, por lo que no cabia esperar de ellos que discerniesen bien entre el delito de sedicion y un acto puramente inocente o una mera falta. Pero es posible tal cuantia de ignorancia en el personal policiaco de este pais? No se celebran acaso examenes de servicio civil para la calificacion de dicho personal, fijandose ciertas reglas, normas y requisitos de estudios escolares para poder ser admitodos en tales examenes? Pero suponiendo ya - lo que es

mucho suponer - que cupiera invocar la ignorancia o falta de instruccion a favor del policia, patrullero o recluta de una aldea, de un villorrio es posible, es siquiera medianamente decoroso que eso se invoque a favor del policia metropolitano de la ciudad de Manila, la capital de la republica? Ademas, tratandose de una huelga obrera de tales proporciones como la que motivo los arrestos que nos ocupan - suceso dramatico, sensacional que agito y conmovio a todo el vecindario de la ciudad de Manila por afectar a ciertos servicios municipales indispensables - como se puede concebir que los patrulleros y reclutas del cuerpo de policia salieran a la calle para cumplir sus deberes en la custodia y mantenimiento del orden publico sin un plan previamente concertado y preparado por sus jefes y superiores, y sobre todo, sin recibir antes de estos las necesarias instrucciones sobre como iban a cumplir tales deberes, sobre que actos debian considerarse delictivos o sediciosos, sobre que actos manifestaciones podian permitirse y tolerarse, etc., etc.? Es mas: suponiendo ya que los aprehensores, en la precipitacion o el calor del momento, se equivocaran o se excedieran abusando de sus poderes, haciendo lo que hicieron, esto es, arrestando sin motivo justificado a los doce huelguistas de que se trata no tenia, no tiene la policia de Manila un cuerpo o una division legal, compuesta de abogados, trabajando tranquilamente en sus mesas, entre las cuatro paredes de una oficina, rodeados de libros, sin prisas, sin excitaciones, depurando los hechos de cada caso, de cada arresto, examinando su fase legal, compulsando y analizando papeles y documentos, evaluando procedentes locales y extranjeros, etc., etc.? Y no tenia la policia de Manila, con toda su division legal, el periodo de 6 horas que seala la ley para todo ese trabajo de investigacion, de examen, de analisis de los hechos y de la ley, para ver si se habia cometido o no un crimen, si se habia perpetrado o no el delito grave de sedicion? Si hubiera habido el debido respeto, la debida consideracion a la libertad, a los derechos constitucionales del individuo - derechos sagrados, inviolables, aunque ese individuo fuese un simple obrero, un humilde recogedor de cubetas municipales - por que la policia de Manila, con toda su bateria de abogados, comenznado por el Jefe hasta el ultimo oficial, no habia de exprimier ese periodo legal de 6 horas, sacar de el todo el partido posible para estudiar y depurar los arrestos y ver que no estaban justificados a la luz de la ley de sedicion - conclusion a que despues se llego, pero varios dias despues de tener pisoteada la libertad en los calabozos municipales, en contravencion de la ley?
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Los abusos, arbitrariedades, extralimitaciones y excesos autoritarios por parte de la policia o de cualquier agentede seguridad y orden publico son una cosa que jamas debe ser tomada ligeramente, frivolamente, con la indeferencia y despreocupacion con que muchas veces se toman ciertas cosas que se estiman inevitables o rutinarias - "matter of course," como se dice en ingles - si se quiere que la causa de la democracia y libertad no sufra entre nosotros un quebranto que puede ser fatal par la existencia misma de la repulica. La historia y la experiencia nos demuestran de consuno que la indeferencia, la dejadezs de los pueblos es la que siempre ha echado a perder la libertad en el mundo. Es harto significativo que en nuestra misma epoca los gobiernos totalitarios, de sangre y de fuerza, hayan todos tenidos que afianzarse en la policia para consolidar su poder por los cuatro costados y asegurar la castracion, mejor todavia, la estrangulacion de la voluntad popular, el abatimiento de toda resistencia ciudadana: el nazismo, en Hitler y su gestapo; el fascismo, en los rufianes de camisa negra de Mussolini; el despotismo nipon, en su famoso kempetai; y el absolutismo comunista, en la ogpu. Y el proceso de disolucion ha comenzado siempre por la inercia, la abulia de las masas. Pocas frases historicas tienen la perenne significacion vital de esta: "La vigilancia es el eterno precio de la libertad." o de estas otras de nuestro gran Dr. Rizal: "La resignacion no siempre es virtud; es crimen cuando alienta tiranias" - "No hay tiranos donde no hay esclavos." O de esta otra: "Cada pueblo tiene el gobierno que se me merece."
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(Asi que, entre parentesis, merecen placemes las sociedades de caracter civico y profesional y algunos de sus miembros que romanticamente, desintersadamente, han comparecido en el presente caso para romper lanzas por la causa de la libertad. ellos pertenecen a una orden benemerita que puede propieamente llamarse la Orden de los Vigilantes de la Libertad.)
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Se arguye en favor de los recurridos que la policia entrego a la Fisacalia de Manila los papeles corespondientes dentro de las 6 horas que fija el articulo 125 del Codigo Penal Revisado y que, por tanto, la demora ilegal, si la hubo, no tuvo lugar en los cuarteles de la policia sino en la oficina del Fiscal. Aunque ello no se trasluce clara e inequivocamente en autos, parece que se puede admitir que respecto de los 10 que han sido puestos en libertad los papeles se entregaron a la Fiscalia oportunanment; no asi respecto de Montaniel y Deoduco, los dos cuya detencion se ha prolongado.

Resulta de autos y de los informes producidos en la audiencia que Deoduco fue arrestadoel 7 de Noviembre y Montaniel el 8; que los papeles en ambos casos se entregaron por la policia a la Fiscalia en la tarde del 11 de Noviembre, 4 y 3 dias respectivamente despues del arresto, es decir,mucho despues de las 6 horas fijadas por la ley; que la querella contra Montaniel se presento, como queda dicho mas arriba, en la misma tarde del dia 11, y la querella contra Deoduco, por desobidiencia, ya en la maana del 12, esto es, en el mismo dia de la vista de la presente solictud de habeas corpus.
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La Fiscalia explica la demora diciendo que por aquellos dias estaba sobrecargada de trabajos; que, adde los 12 obreros detenidos de que se trata, habia otros muchos por diferentes delitos y faltas; que necesitaba de tiempo para examinar bien las hojas volantes y demas papeles; que tambien necesitaba de tiempo para atar bien los cabos y las circunstancias a fin de ver si con la huelga estaba relacionado un movimiento coordinado de sedicion, y si los actos de los 12 arrestados formaban parte de ese movimiento. La Fiscalia admite haber fijado en la cantidad prohibitiva de P12,000 la fianza que debia prestar cada detenido para su libertad provisional mientras se estudiaban los casos. Mas tasrde, cuando la Fiscalia se convencio de que no habi sedicio ni nada que se le pareciera, recomendo una fianza de P100 para Montaniel y de P200 para Deoduco.
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Sin discutir la responsabilidad de la Fiscalia por la demora - si esta se puede o no justificar administrativamente es cuestion que no compete considerar ni resolver - vamos a limitarnos a comentar y discutir la fase juridica, legal. Esta en orden naturalmente el hacer la siguiente pregunta: es correcta, es acertada la asercion de que el "Promotor Fiscal de Manila es un funcionario judicial (judicial officer)," y que, por tanto, la entrega al mismo de la persona de un detenido dentro del periodo de 6 horas equivale a la entrega a las autoridades judiciales correspondientes (proper judicial authorities) de que habla e articulo 125 del Codigo Penal Revisado? Creemos que no: ni por su letra ni por su espiritu puede aplicarse por extension la fraseologia de ese articulo al Fiscal de la ciudad de Manila o a cualquier otro Fiscal; ese articulo no puede referirse mas que a un tribunal, a un juzgado, sea municipal, sea de primera instancia. Asi que estoy de perfecto acuerdo con la ponencia cuando positivamente sienta la doctrina de que "si bien un arresto puede hacerse sin orden cuando hay motivos razonables para ello (regla 109, articulo 6, Reglamento de los Tribunales), el detenido no puede ser recluido fuera del periodo prescrito por la ley, a menos que una orden de arresto se obtenga antes de un tribunal competente" (veanse las autoridades que se citan), y que "en el presente caso el Fiscal de la ciudad no tenia autoridad para expedir ordenes de arresto y caracia de facultad paraconvalidar tal detencion ilegal consolo presentar las querellas, o con una orden de su propia cuenta, ora tacita, ora expresa" (veanse asimismo las autoridades que se citan).
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De lo dicho se sigue que cuando la policia entrega a la Fiscalia de la ciudad despues del periodo de 6 horas prescrito por la ley los papeles sobre un detenido arrestado sin previa orden al efecto, no por ello se cura la ilegalidad del arresto y detencion, sino que dicha ilegalidad continua y persiste hasta que el Fiscal presenta la querella y obtiene una orden de arrestro del tribunal cometente, o que, tratandose de delito, mediante la prestacion de una fianza cuya cuantia se fijare y recomendare por dicho Fiscal, la policia soltare al detenido, a tenor de lo previsto en el articulo 2460 del codigo administrativo.
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Puede ocurrir, sinembargo, que la policia entregue los papeles a la Fiscalia de la ciudad dentro del periodo de 6 horas, pero que la Fiscalia no solo deja pasar dicho periodo, sino que transcurren dias, hasta semanas sin actuar sobre el caso en uno u otro sentido. La cuestion en orden naturalmente es la siguiente: es legal o ilegal la detencion del arrestado en tal caso? En otras palabras: queda suspendido el periodo de 6 horas durante el tiempo que el Fiscal de la ciudad tarda en actuar sobre el caso? La contestacion tiene que ser necesariamente negativa. La rigidez, la inflexibilidad del poerido de 6 horas reza no solo para la policia, sino hasta apra cualquier otra agencia o ramo oficial, sin excluir a la Fiscalia de la ciudad de Manila. Si por cualquier motivo la Fiscalia dejare de actuar dentro de dicho perido, el deber de la policia o del que tenga la custodia del detenido es soltarle, quiera o no quiera el Fiscal, lo recomiende o no lo recomiende. De otra manera, la restriccion que estatuye la ley a favor de los detenidos sin previa orden de arresto - restriccion que implementa las garantias de la libertad establecidas en la Constitucion - resulataria un mito. La filosofia de la ley es, a saber: solamente se verifica un arresto sin previa orden cuando hay motivos razonables para ello, v. gr., cuando un individuo es cogido in fraganti cometiendo un delito. La ley presupone, por tanto, que el Estado tiene a mano todos los elementos necesearios para decidir que accion ha de tomar dentro del periodo de 6

horas, ya entregando la persona del detenido a las autoridades judiciales correspondientes mediante la querella procedente, a tenor del articulo 125 del codigo penal revisado; ya poniendole en libertad provisional bajo una fianza razonable, de acuerdo con el citado articulo 2460 del codigo administrativio; o ya poniendole completamente en la cale por falta de meritos en el caso. Si ninguna de estas cosas puede hacer el Estado en 6 horas no puede ser mas que por dos motivos: o porque se guiere cometer una artibrariedad, o la maquinaria oficial se halla en un deplorable estado de cofusion, ineptitud o impotencia.
chanroblesv irt ualawli bra ry chan rob l es virt ual law li bra ry

Se arguye conenfasis que bajo esta interpretacion la prosecucion del crimen sufriria un serio quebranto, sobre todo en la ciudad de Manial; que materialmente la Fiscalia no puede actuar adecuadamente sobre algunos casos en el plazo perentorio de 6 horas. Si esto es verdad el remedio no es infringir la ley como cosa inevitable, rutinaria; el remedio seria - o recabar de la Legislatura que se reforme la ley en la forma que se estime conveniente, o implementar y perfeccionar la maquinaria de la prosecucion criminal, colocandola a la altura de las circunstancias. No hay nada mas anarquico, mas subversivo y fatal para el principio de la autoridad del buen gobierno que el tener leyes que no se cumplen, leyes que se infringen hasta por los llamados a ponerlas en vigor. "To be or not to be, that is the question." O existe la ley y hay que cumplirla; o si la ley es mala o impracticable, hay que reformarla o derogarla. Lo que nose debe permitir es el disolvente espectaculo de la diaria inobservancia de la ley.
chanrob lesvi rtua lawlib rary cha nroble s virtual law l ib rary

Tenemos un precedente recientisimo: la ley sobre el Tribunal del Pueblo (Ley del Commonwealth No. 682, articulo 19). Una de las disposiciones mas importantes de esa leyes precisamente la que reforma el articulo 125 del codigo penal revisado, extendiendo el periodo de 6 horas a 6 meses a fin de legalizar la detencion de los que, sospechosos de traicion, fueron arrestados y detenidos por las autoridades del ejercito americano inmediatamente despues de la liberacion de Filipinas de la conquista japonesa. De pasose puede precisamente decir que esa reforma es uno de los mejores argumentos contra la tesis de que durante el tiempo en que la Fiscalia de la ciudad estudia el caso el periodo de 6 horas queda en suspenso y se legaliza la detencion. Si esto fuese correcto, no hubiera habido necesidad de insertar esa disposicion reformatoria en la ley sobre el Tribunal del Pueblo.

TUASON, J., dissenting:

chanrobles vi rt ual law libra ry

The writ should have been denied or dismissed as to the all persons on whose behalf the petition was filed, including Pascual Montaniel and Pacifico Deoduco.
chanro blesvi rt ualawlib ra ry chan roble s virtual law l ib rary

According to the return the last two had been arrested by the police for inciting to sedition on the occasion of the strike of the City of Manila workers and had been duly charged after their arrest with unjust vexation and disobedience to public orders, respectively. The complaints had been filed by the City Fiscal with the municipal court, and the Fiscal had recommended a bail of P100 for Montaniel and P200 for Deoduco for their temporary release. The fiscal in his return further stated that these complaints had been docketed on "November 11, 1946, before and after the receipt by them (respondents) of their respective copies of the petition for habeas corpus herein filed." The last allegation contradicts the finding in the decision of the majority that "the complaints were filed on the same day when this case was heard before this Court, that is, on November 12, 1946."
chanrobles vi rt ual law li bra ry

The allegations in the return are presumed to be correct, the same not having been controverted. The return to the writ, of itself, is not conclusive of the facts alleged therein, but is prima facie proof of such facts. In the absence of a denial, or appropriate pleading avoiding their effect, they will be taken as true and conclusive, regardless of the allegations contained in the petition, and the only question for determination is whether or not the facts stated in their return, as a matter of law, authorizes the restraint under investigation. (39 C.J.S., 664, 665.)
chanrob le s virt ual law li bra ry

Here Pascual Montaniel or Pacifico Diaduco entitled to be discharged upon the facts set forth in the return? The decision of the majority says yes. It reasons that "Even assuming that they (the

prisoners) were legally arrested without warrant on November 7 and 8, 1946, respectively, their continued detention became illegal upon the expiration of six hours without their having been delivered to the corresponding judicial authorities. (Article 125, Rev. Pen. Code, as amended by Act No. 3940.) their cases were referred to the City Fiscal late in the afternoon of November 11, 1946, that is four and three days, respectively, after they were arrested. The illegality of their detention was not cured by the filing of the informations against them, since no warrants of arrest or orders of commitment have been issued by the municipal court up to the hearing of this case before this Court." The decision goes on to say that "the City Fiscal, who has no authority to issue warrants of arrest (Hashim vs. Boncan and City Fiscal of Manila, 71 Phil., 261) was powerless to validate such illegal detention by merely filing informations or by any order of his own, either express or implied."
chanro bles vi rtua l law li bra ry

With all modesty and with due respect to the opinion of the majority, I take a different view. The bringing of the prisoners before the City Fiscal made a whole lot of difference and totally changed the legal aspects of the detention. The Prosecuting Attorney of the City of Manila is a judicial officer with powers to make investigations on the same level as municipal judge or justice of the peace, (United States vs. Rubal, 37 Phil., 577; section 2, Rule 108, of the Rules of Court.) Section 2, Rule 108 provides that "every justice of the peace, municipal judge or city fiscal shall have jurisdiction to conduct preliminary investigation of all offenses alleged to have been committed within his municipality or city, cognizable by the Court of First Instance." And with particular reference to the Fiscal of the City of Manila, section 2465 of the Revised Administrative Code ordains that he "shall cause to be investigated all charges of crimes, misdemeanors, and violations of ordinances, and have the necessary informations or complaints prepared or made against the persons accused."
chan robles v irt ual law l ibra ry

I conclude from these provisions that when Montaniel's and Diaduco's cases were reported to the City Fiscal, that action put an end to the illegality of their detention, assuming that the prolonged detention had been unwarranted. In other words, if Montaniel's and Diaduco's detention had become illegal upon the expiration of six hours from the time of their arrest, it reacquired its lawful character the moment they were taken to the City Fiscal for appropriate action on their cases; in fact the prisoners could not thereafter be released by the police except in the manner provided by law. What the law is, I shall endeavor to explain.
chan roblesv irt ualawli bra ry chan rob les vi rtual law lib rary

There is legal and rational support for the proposition that after the case of an arrested person has been placed in the hands of a fiscal or municipal judge, it is the right, let alone the duty, of the police to keep him in custody until he is discharged according to law regardless of the illegality of his previous detention, which, by the way, is not to be confused with the arrest. This practice is made necessary, at least in the City of Manila, by the very nature of things as well as by express enactments. The law, statutory and common, is that an officer or private individual who has made an arrest of a person without a warrant has authority to detain him in custody until a preliminary hearing against him can be had (4 Am. Jur., 49) and he may then be committed to jail or held to bail (William F. Downs vs. Sherlock Swann, 23 L.R.A., N.S., 739, citing Brish vs. Carter, 98 Md., 445, and Edger vs. Burke, 96 Md., 722). Supplementing and confirming this general rule the Manila Charter specifically vests on the Chief of Police the power to keep the prisoner in custody or release him on bail, although in cases of violation of any penal law, as distinguished from violations of municipal ordinances, the bail is fixed by the City Fiscal and the release must be authorized or recommended by the latter. Section 2460 of the Revised Administrative Code thus states that "the chief of police may take good and sufficient bail for the appearance before the city court of any person arrested for violation of any city ordinances: Provided, however, That he shall not exercise this power in case of violations of any penal law, except when the fiscal of the city shall so recommend and fix the bail to be required of the person arrested."
chanrob les vi rtua l law lib rary

In consonance with the foregoing rule and provision, the practice followed by the City Fiscal of Manila, when a person arrested without a warrant is brought before him, has been either to fix the bond and order the provisional release of the prisoner before filing a complaint or information or making an investigation, or else to file a complaint or information and leave it to the appropriate court to admit the detained person to bail. In either case it is necessary to, nor does the court, as a matter of fact, issue an order of arrest. This is so simply because the accused is already under arrest; and the court does not issue a commitment because there is no final judgment and because the arrest has not been effected by its order. It is to be remembered that the City Fiscal himself has no authority to order, but

only to recommend to the police, the release of detained persons. Neither is the City Fiscal empowered to order the continued detention of such persons for the reason already stated, that it is upon the authority and responsibility of the Chief of Police that this functionary holds the prisoners until the court commands his discharge.
chan roblesv irtualawl ibra ry cha nrob les vi rtua l law lib rary

The previous illegality of the detention of Montaniel and Deoduco has no relevancy to their petition for habeas corpus and it is a mistake for this Court to allow itself to be influenced thereby. There can be no serious doubt as to the intent of article 125 of the Revised Penal Code, as amended by Act No. 3940, which says that "The penalties provided in the next preceding article shall be imposed upon the public officer or employee who shall detain any person for some legal ground and shall fail to deliver such person to the proper judicial authorities within the period of six hours." This provision refers solely to detention by a police officer prior to the retained person's delivery to the proper judicial officer. It does not restrict the time within which the fiscal of the city, a justice of the peace or a municipal judge should act on the case. It seeks to prevent abuses by the police - to prevent them from keeping for an unreasonable length of time arrested persons who are not properly charged before a competent judicial officer, or whose detention has no justifiable cause. It does not force the city fiscal, justice of the peace or municipal judge to release the prisoners at or before the expiration of six hours from the time of their arrest. Nothing could have been farther from the thought of the legislature than to tie so tightly the hands of the law, and coddle and pamper lawlessness to a calamitous extreme. It requires no mental effort to see that it is beyond the ability of any person to make an investigation of a criminal case, file a complaint or information, and secure an arrest warrant or commitment in six hours, or worse still what remains, if any, of that period computed from the time of the arrest. The theory sustained by the majority, if put into practice, would play havoc on the efforts of law-enforcement agencies to produce disastrous consequences, not difficult to imagine, in the maintenance of peace and order. The decision of this Court sets a precedent which will open the door to evasions of criminal prosecution. The populous conditions of Manila and other centers of population in the Philippines as they exist today, and the modern facilities of transportation and rapid transit afford easy means for avoiding re-arrest or fleeing from justice. Such evasions and such escapes would be the result of the holding that a person who has been arrested without a warrant and detained beyond the six-hour limit by the police should be discharged irrespective of the filing of a complaint after the lapse of the period, on the pendency of an appropriate criminal action against him. The situation which I have pictured will follow from the ruling that even if a crime has been committed by the person arrested and a complaint has been filed against him, he nevertheless should be released, without prejudice to his re-arrest on a formal information or complaint lodged against him.
chan roble svirtualawl ibra rycha nro bles vi rtua l law lib ra ry

I do not justify or condemn the arrest or the detention beyond the six-hour limit of the petitioners. This question is not in issue and must be judged in the light of the surrounding circumstances of the case which are not before us. But I do maintain that the illegal detention, if there was illegal detention, and the subsequent lawful restraint are separable and must not be confounded with each other. If a crime was committed as a result of the prolonged detention of the prisoners, there is the penal law and the proper machinery of justice to take care of the erring officials. To prosecution and punishment or correction of criminal offenders is a vital concern of the State, vital to its very existence. The interests of the people should not be sacrified or jeopardized by the ignorance, negligence or malicious conduct of the police.
chanroble svi rtualawl ib rary c hanro bles vi rt ual law li bra ry

The opinion of the majority stems from the erroneous assumption that the right to the writ must be determined according to the facts as they appear at the time of the filing of the petition. Some early cases did hold that valid process obtained after the time of service of the writ of habeas corpus was not sufficient, and that a person detained unlawfully must be discharged from the imprisonment under the unlawful proceedings, although he might thereafter be detained on lawful proceedings. But the better, present-day and preponderant rule, which is more in keeping with modern conditions and better safeguards against modern facilities for escape, is that a prisoner has no right to writ of habeas corpus unless he is entitled to immediate release, and the writ will not issue unless he is presently in restraint of his liberty without warrant of law; that the writ of habeas corpus is concerned solely with the legality of the restraint at the time of the filing of the petition for its issue, or by the conditions existing at the time of the hearing or final decision thereon, and does not depend on the legality or illegality of the original caption; and that where the detention is lawful at the time of the return, it is

sufficient to defeat the writ. (39 C. J. S., 443, 444.) The United States Supreme Court, in an opinion written by Mr. Justice Brandeis, declares that "the validity of a detention questioned by a petitioner for habeas corpus is to be determined by the conditions existing at the time of the final decision thereon." (United States ex. rel. Mensevich vs. Tod, 68 Law. ed., 591.) Conversely, it has been held, detention which was lawful in its inception may afterwards become unlawful and the prisoner is then entitled to be discharged on habeas corpus, as, for example, where a prisoner has been pardoned.

EN BANC [A.M. No. P-94-1080. November 19, 1999] DINAH CHRISTINA A. AMANE, complainant, vs. ATTY. SUSAN MENDOZA-ARCE, Respondent. [A.M. No. P-95-1128. November 19, 1999] ATTY. SUSAN MENDOZA-ARCE, complainant, vs. ANITA B. DURAN, JOHNEL C. ARCHES, AND ATTY. ESPERANZA ISABEL E. POCO-DESLATE, Respondents. [A.M. No. P-95-1144. November 19, 1999] ATTY. ESPERANZA ISABEL E. POCO-DESLATE, complainant, vs. ATTY. SUSAN MENDOZAARCE, Respondent. DECISION PER CURIAM: To strive to create a perfect government office where every public servant conducts himself with utmost integrity, honesty and diligence, and devotes himself wholly to public service is indeed worthy of commendation. But the attainment of this ideal, be it well-meant, should be tempered with basic courtesy and respect for colleagues including those occupying the lowliest position, with a deep compassion for, understanding and consideration of, the complexities of human behavior, human frailties being a natural part of every individual. The notion should be sought not alone for its sake but, more importantly, as a way of correcting askewed work ethics and values of the less serviceoriented public servant. Certainly, in the prevention and correction of a perceived wrong oppression, much less falsehood, should not be countenanced nor justified. This is simply illustrative of the expression, however trite it may seem, that "the end does not, justify the means." In these three (3) consolidated administrative cases our attention is drawn to the lamentable state of affairs at the Regional Trial Court of Roxas City where even the most persistent efforts at mediation by the RTC judges concerned could not stop the charges and countercharges from reaching this Court. On 14 September 1994, Executive Judge Sergio L. Pestao of the Regional Trial, Court of Roxas City and Presiding Judge of Branch 19 received a Reportfrom Atty. Susan Mendoza-Arce, Clerk of Court, informing him of the misdeeds of some of the employees of his Branch. Specifically, Atty. Arce alleged that Stenographers Anna B. Duran and Johnel C. Arches falsely stated in their Daily Time Records (DTRs) for June, July and August 1994 that their "time of departure" was 5 o'clock in the afternoon when, in truth and in fact, they left the office ahead of the prescribed office hours to attend their 4:30 p.m. classs at the nearby Colegio de, la Purisima Conception, and that his Branch Clerk of Court, Atty. Esperanza Isabel E. Poco-Deslate, immediate superior of Duran and Arches, tolerated the practice. The following day, Judge Pestao received a Petition from twenty-four (24) employees of the RTC of Roxas City dated 12 September 1994[1 praying for the immediate investigation and preventive suspension of Atty. Susan Mendoza-Arce for alleged acts of oppression and conduct prejudicial to the

best interest of the service aggravated by habituality and taking advantage of official position. They pointed out that Atty. Arce lacked emotional stability because instead of fostering closeness among members of the workforce she would alienate herself from them and would waste precious time looking for any imaginable minutest error an employee may commit; that Atty. Arce was always happy to cause unhappiness among the employees whenever she barked at them; that she exercised powers which were not hers but of the judges, e.g., reviewing DTRs already pased upon by the branch clerks of court; that Atty. Arce was an exponent of red tape when most of the requirements could be dispensed with thus causing anxiety among lawyers and litigants; that Atty. Arce conducted her own personal investigation on the attendance of employees and would even go out of the office to make inquiries from other offices outside the Hall of Justice; that Atty. Arce would insult staff employees of the judges, and threaten them with administrative sanctions thus usurping the authority of the Presiding Judges; that Atty. Arce would "run berserk" and was probably the only clerk of Court who acted the way she did; and, because of Atty. Arce's attitude and behavior a general atmosphere of uneasiness has pervaded the Hall of Justice resulting in the low morale of the employees which was not conducive to individual efficiency and collective harmony.[2 After all the parties submitted their comments which were required of them, Executive Judge Pestao, perceiving that the employees' differences "stemmed merely from their conduct in office and differences in opinion as to how public service may be rendered more efficiently and promptly," immediately called a mediation conference on 21 September 1994 attended by the other five (5) judges of the RTC-Roxas City[3in a sincere attempt to resolve the controversy at the RTC level. The attempt however proved futile. After a month of talking with the parties to no avail, Judge Pestao in an Indorsement dated 21 October 1994 forwarded the Report dated 14 September 1994 of Atty. Arce and the Petition dated 12 September 1994 of the RTC employees with regrets that "the parties' sentiments against each other are so deep that they have not reached a rapportment" despite strong and persistent efforts at mediation.[4 On 16 September 1994 even before the aforementioned mediation proceedings were started. Dinah Christina A. Amane, Clerk III, RTC-Br. 19, Roxas City, filed directly with this Court through the Office of the Court Administrator a formal complaint against Atty. Susan Mendoza-Arce for "conduct prejudicial to the best interest of the service, disgraceful conduct and oppression," docketed as Adm. Matter No. P-94-1080, enumerating among others the alleged disgraceful and oppressive acts of respondent: a. Atty. Arce issued a memorandum compelling all court personnel to wear uniforms with specifications without conferring wig the Executive and other Judges of the Court. b. Atty. Arce demanded the review of the Daily Time Records (DTRs) of all court personnel without conferring with the said judges and, after receiving the same, questioned and returned to the Branch 19 Clerk of Court the complainant's DTR for July 1994. c. Atty. Arce at one time laid a trap for complainant so that she could catch her red-handed as not reporting for work utilizing a subordinate employee; and, d. In June 1994, Atty. Arce summoned the complainant to her office and after, demanding why the latter did not file a one-day leave of absence in May 1994, went into, "hysterics," shouted at "and insulted complainant in coarse language."[5 On 12 October 1994, Atty. Esperanza Poco-Deslate, Branch Clerk of Court, RTC-Br. 19, Roxas City, filed a formal countercharge against Atty. Susan Mendoza-Arce, docketed as Adm. Matter No. P-951144, accusing respondent of grave misconduct, conduct prejudicial to the best interest of the service, intentionally making false statements, and oppression." Specifically, complainant alleged that respondent maliciously accused court personnel through illegal means, caused serious disturbance, and usurped functions belonging to other authorities in the course of her investigations; that respondent's accusation of falsification of DTR's by Duran and Arches is devoid of factual basis since her only evidence thereof, were certificates of enrollment issued by the school registrar which,

however, were only evidence of the fact of enrollment but not actual attendance in class; that falsification of DTRs by Duran and Arches not having been proven, complainant could not be accused of alleged connivance thereto even assuming that there was in fact such a crime; that respondent, in the course of her investigation of said falsifications, demanded from the school authorities certifications of facts contrary to the latter's knowledge and threatened them with court cases if they did not do what was required of them; that respondent's actuations caused serious anxieties which affected the efficiency of the other court employees; that respondent even aired the matter of her investigations over the radio; that in taking direct action against the court stenographers, respondent boldly usurped the authority not only of the complainant as Branch Clerk of Court but also of the Presiding Judge; and, that, contrary to her duty as Clerk of Court, Atty. Arce did not merely recommend actions against erring employees to the Presiding Judge but instead took direct action against them contrary to Sec. 5, Chapter VII, of the Manual for Clerks of Court which provides that the Clerk of Court only initiates investigations of erring personnel and recommends appropriate action to the Executive Judge.[6 On 17 November 1994, the Office of the Court Administrator received a Letter dated 7 November 1994 from the twenty-four (24) employs of the RTC-Roxas City who filed the Petition dated 12 September 1994[7 enclosing therewith individual and joint affidavits in support of their Petition.[8 Finally, on 2 December 1994 Atty. Arce filed her formal complaints dated 22 November 1994 against Anita Duran, Johnel Arches and Atty. Esperanza E. Poco-Deslate, docketed as Adm. Matter No. P-951128 formalizing her complaints of falsification of DTRs against Duran and Arches and of connivance in said falsification against Atty. Deslate. By Resolution dated 21 June 1995 we consolidated Adm. Matter No. P-95-1144 (Atty. Deslate v. Atty. Arce) with Adm. Matter No. P-95-1128 (Atty. Arce v. Duran, et al), and on 16 October 1995, Adm. Matter No. P-94-1080 (Amane v. Atty. Arce) with Adm. Matter Nos. P-95-1128 and P-95-1144. Although the cases were initially referred to ExecutiveJudge Sergio L. Pestao[9 for investigation, report and recommendation, we granted the latter's inhibition for the reasons stated in his motion[10 and referred the cases to Executive Judge Julius L. Abela of the RTC-Mambusao, Capiz, instead.[11 After conducting extensive hearings, Investigating Judge Abela submitted his Confidential Investigation Report dated 13 May 1997 with the following recommendations: In Adm. Matter No. P-94-1080, dismissal of the charges leveled by Dinah Christina Amane against Atty. Susan Mendoza-Arce for failure to prove by substantial evidence the specific acts of oppression allegedly committed by respondent. On the contrary, Judge Abela found that there was mutual animosity between Atty. Arce and Ms. Amane which developed into enmity because while the former was bossy and overly strict, Ms. Amane, on the other hand, being the daughter of a Presiding Judge of the Court (Br. 17), was unrestrained in her habitual tardiness and absenteeism which was largely tolerated and unreported. On the matter of the alleged falsification by Amane of her DTRs for March, April, May, June, July, and August 1994 alleged by Atty. Arce in her comment to Amane's complaint and itself formalized into a complaint dated 21 February 1995,[12 the Investigating Judge recommended that Amane be dismissed for falsification and notorious absenteeism finding the same to have been duly established by the following combined circumstances, to wit: a) The fact that MS. AMANE never categorically denied the unequivocal allegations of the respondent that she (AMANE) was absent from office on 3,4,7, 14 and 18 March 1994; on 7,11,13,14,18 and 19 April 1994; on 3 and 13 May 1994; on 10,14,17,23, and 27 June 1994; on 1,25, and 26 July 1994; and on 3,4, and 30 August 1994. In her defense, MS. AMANE merely pleaded that full faith and credit be given her questioned DTRs on the ground that "(t)here can be no evidence of a writing the contents of which is the subject of inquiry other than the original writing itself xxx

b) The failure of MS. AMANE to affix her initials, as required by established office procedures, to at least twenty-four (24) certifications issued by the Court relating to civil cases in her charge during the period March to August 1994 thus indicating that she was absent from her workplace on the dates shown on the said certifications; c) The explanation of ATTY. POCO-DESLATE that MS. AMANE did not initial the certifications adverted to because MS. AMANE was either in the comfort room, or was taking a break, or was typing/finishing her work, or was on the telephone, or was in conference with the Presiding Judge, or was on alleged "official business" for the Presiding judge is neither worthy of credence nor persuasive for being selfserving obviously intended merely to cover up for her friend MS. AMANE and for her own laxness and neglect in supervising/disciplining her subordinates; d) Positive testimony of MS. AMANE and her own witness, (BARBARA R. DELFIN), to the effect that on several occasions MS. AMANE was elsewhere but at the Roxas City Hall of Justice during office hours, doing allegedly "official business" which were alien to her official duties; e) Unrebutted positive testimony of ATTY. MENDOZA-ARCE to the effect that because she closely monitored MS. AMANE's office attendance, she personally knew that MS. AMANE was, actually absent on certain dates that her DTRs showed she was present; and that the Executive Judge (SERGIO PESTAO) who was also MS. AMANE's Presiding Judge at Branch 19, had confided to her (ATTY. MENDOZA-ARCE) that he cannot tolerate the absences and tardiness of MS. AMANE, that he was "already fed up with her", and that he was grateful to ATTY. MENDOZA-ARCE for having talked to MS. AMANE about the problems. f) MS. AMANE's submission that her DTRs "were never falsified, the same being the exact entries in the logbook" without, however, making any attempt to introduce or produce the said logbook in evidence implying thereby that the said logbook if produced would be adverse to the defense of MS. AMANE; g) The stark contrast between the entries in the DTRs of MS. AMANE for the period March to August 1994 which were personally made by MS. AMANE herself, and the bundy clock entries in her DTRs for the eleven month period of February to December 1995. The contrast is so sharp as to indubitably show that MS. AMANE indeed falsified her DTRs. Even a cursory examination of these DTRs show that whereas in 1994 MS. AMANE was never tardy, never took the afternoon off, and was not on sick or vacation leave every day, half an hour to over an hour, did not return to work in the afternoon on several occasions, and was absent from work every month forusually nine (9) to ten (10) workdays.[13 For her tolerance, of Amane's absences, the Investigating Judge recommended Atty. Deslate's sixmonth suspension for simple neglect of duty as Branch Clerk of Court Branch 19 and Amane's immediate superior. In Adm. Matter No. P-95-1128 Judge Abela recommended that the charges of falsification of DTRs filed by Atty. Arce against Anita Duran and Johnel Arches and of connivance therewith by Atty. Deslate be dismissed after finding them to be without factual basis. Aside from Atty. Arce's failure to present evidence to conclusively substantiate her claim that Duran and Arches attended their classes at the Colegio de la Purisima Concepcion during office hours, the following factors were likewise duly taken and given weighty consideration, to wit: (a) Certification by Mr. Elczar Adame, Duran and Arches' professor in Philosophy 101, that said respondents were always late or else absent for their 4:30 to 6:00 p. m. classes every Tuesday and Thursday for which reason he strongly advised them to transfer to the 6:00 to 7:30 p.m. schedule;[14 (b) Certification by Ms. Myrna Abareles, Duran's professor in Math 104, that Duran was officially dropped from the subject because she never attended her 7:30 to 9:00 a.m. classes every Tuesday and Thursday;[15 (c) Certification by Ms. Evelyn B. Cercado, Duran's professor in English 115, that Duran was a notorious absentee in her 4:30-5:30 p. m. classes every Monday, Wednesday, and Friday or else was always late;[16 (d) Affirmation by both Mr. Adame and Ms. Abareles that .Atty. Arce frequently visited them at school demanding certifications on matters

contrary to their knowledge and threatening them with court cases;[17 and, (e) Affirmation by Judge Pestao himself, Executive Judge of the RTC-Roxas City and Presiding Judge of Br. 19 thereof, that he never noticed Duran and Arches leave the office before the close of office hours at 5 o'clock in the afternoon.[18 In Adm. Matter No. P-95-1144 Judge Abela recommended that Atty. Susan Mendoza-Arce be dismissed from the service for grave misconduct, conduct prejudicial to the best interest of the service and oppression concluding that the "demoralization and unhealthy working atmosphere of constant tension in the Roxas City Hall of Justice was largely attributable not only to her enmity with Dinah Amane but also due to the fact that far too many of the Court's employees feel terrorized by Atty. Arce whose personality-manners, attitude and conduct-is described by most of the people who deal with her as petty, inflexible, intimidating and overbearing.[19 In addition, Judge Abela found the following acts to have been either admitted or else not credibly denied or rebutted by respondent: (1) When ATTY. POCO-DESLATE first reported for duty on 16 May 1994, ATTY. MENDOZA-ARCE "arrogantly" asked her to explain why she presented her certificate of attendance only that afternoon and told her to henceforth report to her every morning before she POCO-DESLATE) proceeds to her own office as Branch 19 Clerk of Court; (2) Since the first day of duty of ATTY. POCO-DESLATE xxx ATTY. MENDOZA-ARCE "has been consistently oppressing" her and finding fault with her; (3) In September 1994, ATTY. MENDOZA-ARCE told ATTY. POCO-DESLATE "to disobey Judge Pestao" and to inform him that his act of encouraging court personnel to complete their college education as working students was "wrong and against the Civil Service Law;" (4) In August 1994 ATTY. MENDOZA-ARCE told the personnel of Branch 19 that it is beater for them to disobey their presiding judge than to disobey her because she will file administrative charges against them; (5) Twenty-three (23) employees of the Court, including three (3) of its six (6) Branch Clerks of Court, signed under oath a petition to the Court Administrator dated 12 September 1994 "begging" that ATTY. MENDOZA-ARCE be formally investigated and placed under preventive suspension "for Oppression and Conduct Prejudicial to the Best Interest of the Service." The petition alleged, inter alia, that ATTY. MENDOZA-ARCE "lack the emotional stability of the office, because, instead of fostering closeness among members of the work force, she alienates herself from them and wastes precious time just to look (sic) for any imaginable minute error an employee may commit, that she is running berserk, and that with her attitude and action, there is pervading unease in the Hall of Justice, with the employees, suffering from low morale;" (6) ATTY. MENDOZA-ARCE threatened to file administrative charges against all court employees who signed the petition against her; she acted and has been acting and behaving as if the Office of the RTC Clerk of Court is an extension of her household where she treats the employees like houseboys and housemaids whom she could bully and shout at to her heart's desire;" she goes into "tantrums;" she "virtually stalks each and every employee of the Court" and "violates everybody's sense of decency and personal privacy; (7) The Executive Judge, in an attempt to stem the deepening animosity between Clerk of Court MENDOZA-ARCE and the rest of the Court's personnel, issued Office Order No. 4 dated 16 September 1994 reiterating the dues, functions, and scope of authority of the Clerk of Court as described in CSC Form No. 1 (Position Description Form) for the Judiciary. The Office Order also informed that the Presiding Judge have (sic) the discretion whether or not their Branch Clerk of Court shall mail the DTRs of the branch employees directly to the Supreme Court or send the said DTRs through the RTC Clerk of Court;

(8) On 14 October 1994, in disregard of the Executive Judge's Office Order No. 4, ATTY. MENDOZAARCE wrote directly to the Court Administrator inquiring as to: a) the "Duties and Responsibilities of the Clerk of Court VI, Regional Trial Court, Roxas City;" b) "who is the administrative officer of all the Branches of the Regional Trial Court;" c) "who exercises general supervision over all court personnel," including personnel of all branches of the Court; and d) whether she as Clerk of Court VI, is "authorized or empowered to perform duties, authorities and responsibilities" contained in the Manual for Clerks of Court dated 22 February 1991; (9) Not, a few of the court employees feel insecure about their jobs because of ATTY. MENDOZAARCEs fault-finding and perceived vindictiveness. Several have suffered mental tortures and nightmares allegedly to the delight of ATTY. MENDOZA-ARCE who brags about her power over her employees, as she calls subordinate court personnel; (10) In March 1994 ATTY. MENDOZA-ARCE "without any reason whatsoever," verbally assaulted with "indescribable and hurting "words" and gestures SALVACION A. PESTAO," Court Interpreter of Branch 18, in front of other people; xxx xxx xxx (12) On 11 March 1994 ATTY. MENDOZA-ARCE loudly and furiously berated SALVACION A. PESTAO in front of her visitor and another court employee, merely because MS. PESTAO expressed some views about an existing vacancy in Branch 16. She shouted at MS. PESTAO thus: "You belong to the lower ranks of employees yet you have the nerve to recommend somebody" and threatened to file an administrative case against her. She also rudely asked who MS. PESTAO's visitor was and rudely declared that "she has no business staying in this room." At the time, MS. PESTAO's visitor was in the room making her application for the vacant position in Branch 16; (13) DINAH CHRISTINA A. AMANE fears to go to the office of ATTY. MENDOZA-ARCE because "when she is mad, she bangs the door of her office, throws forcefully her things on the table and looks at the person sharply as if that person has committed a very serious crime against her"; ATTY. MENDOZAARCE threatens persons she is angry at with administrative disciplinary action, "nags without any apparent reason," and gossips about ATTY. POCO-DESLATE and others; (14) ATTY. MENDOZA-ARCE always threatens any subordinate employee she is mad at. When she got angry at MS. DURAN she threatened to file an administrative case against her; telling her thus: "I will really go after you. If I can have EDDIE CANAS dismissed, I can easily do the same to you. I will really stab you in the back" (translated from the vernacular); (15) ATTY. MENDOZA-ARCE oftentimes nags and shouts "without any apparent reason." In the many instances that she got mad at an employee at Branch 19, all the other employees of the Court became tense because she would start looking for faults to be used against us;" (16) Branch 18 court personnel describe ATTY. MENOOZA ARCE as "very strict,""always going around for tsismis," and "hysterical;" (17) In September 1994, ATTY. MENDOZA-ARCE repeatedly called up and visited "BOMBORADYO" station in Roxas City until its anchorman and anchorwoman agreed to air her three-page unsigned "comment/answer" to the 12 September 1994 petition of the court of employees against her; All, 17 items of the said "comment/answer," some of which were broadcast and some were not, were allegedly derogatory and defamatory of certain unnamed court employees; (18) ATTY. MENDOZA-ARCE "disgraced and destroyed our reputation over broadcast media;" (19) in as much as the Colegio de la Purisima Conception (CPC), authorities ignored her written requests for certifications, ATTY. MENDOZA-ARCE repeatedly visited the college dean and professors

of MS. DURAN and MS. ARCHES at CPC, threatened them with court action, and generally created a disturbance and scandal at CPC; (20) The Capiz Chapter of the Integrated Bar, upon the initiative of the counsels of ATTY. POCODESLATE, passed Resolution No. 95-1 dated 10 May 1995 calling the attention of the Court Administrator and the Justices of the Supreme Court to "the feasance of ATTY. SUSAN MENDOZAARCE which denigrates the dignity of the court and dilutes the confidence of the publicin the judicial system." The "feasance" referred to concerned "complaints and grievances of several lawyers, litigants, clients and court personnel on the oppressive acts and misconduct of ATTY. SUSAN, MENDOZA-ARCE as she obstructs and warps the smooth administration of justice by imposing red tapes on some simple ministerial maters which requires swift action such as: a. Delay in the release of detained prisoners with approved bail bonds; b. Imposition of irrelevant requirements on renewal of notarial commissions; c. Application of unorthodox procedures on several foreclosure sales; and d. Exasperating delay in causing the execution of judgments. (21) In December 1994 ATTY. MENDOZA-ARCE induced JORGE A. AGULTO, Court Interpreter at Branch 19, with a promise to favorably consider him for the position of Deputy Sheriff in her office vice EDUARDO CANAS if he will only execute an affidavit in her favor and against MS. DURAN and MS. ARCHES; (22) In February 1995 a bundy clock was installed inside the office of the Clerk of Court. To personally monitor office attendance of the Court's personnel, ATTY. MENDOZA-ARCE would stand by the bundy clock and watch the employees punch their DTRs in and out of the bundy clock morning, noon, and afternoon." (23) At 5:25 p.m. on 27 March 1996, ATTY. MENDOZA-ARCE personally caused to be entered in the blotter of the RoxasCity Police Station the allegation that when PATRICIA ABALDONADO, DINA ARCE, Branch 15 Court Interpreter and Stenographer, respectively, punched their timecards out at 5:05 that afternoon they commented that "this bundy clock really ought to break down" (translated from the vernacular). The police blotter also showed that on 21 February 1995 and on 29 January 1996, ATTY. MENDOZA-ARCE personally caused to be entered therein other allegations of similar nature. Learning of this from the local radio stations broadcasts, MS. ABALDONADO and MS. ARCE, at 11:40 a.m. on 29 March 1996, also caused to be entered in the same police blotter their allegation that all the blotter entries caused to be made by ATTY. MENDOZA-ARCE "were untrue, unfounded, purely inventions of her mind, just to malign and harass the reportees." [Certifications dated 29 March 1996 and 1 April 1996 issued by SPO1 EDWIN DARIA BASAS, Police Blotter PNCO]; (24) ATTY. MENDOZA-ARCE is now using the Roxas City Police blotter record lies and concocted misdemeanors she imputes falsely to subordinate court personnel. These blotter entries are invariably aired over the local radio station [Letter of DINA ARCE and PATRICIA ABALDONADO to this investigator dated 19 April 1986]. After a careful review of subject Investigation Report, the Court finds no basis for overturning the factual findings arrived at and sanctions recommended, except that in Adm. Matter No. P-94-1080 we reduce the penalty of Atty. Esperanza E. Poco-Deslante from six (6) months suspension to one (1) month and ten (10) days suspension without pay. In the Case of Clerk Dinah Christina Amane, the Court sustains the findings of the Investigating Judge in Adm. Matter No. P-94-1080 being in accord with the evidence on record. The Annexes[20 to the comment-countercharge of Atty. Arce exposed overwhelming evidence that Amane habitually absented herself from her work to the great prejudice of public service There is also ample showing

that Ms. Amane deliberately made false entries in her DTRs. As the pertinent records disclose, Ms. Amane made it appear that she was punctual in her attendance when she was usually late. She misrepresented that she was present in the office on certain dates when, in truth, she was absent. Her DTRs for the months of March, April, May, June, and August 1994 indicate that she was present on specific dates but Certifications issued by the RTC-Roxas City on those dates which were supposed to be initialed by Ms. Amane as part of her duty as Clerk III in-charge of civil cases were not so initialed thus indicating that she was in fact absent as alleged and contrary to the entries in her DTRs. Clearly, there was falsification on the part of Ms. Amane. Rule XVII, Sec. 4, of the Civil Service Law and Rules provides: Sec. 4. Falsification or irregularities in the keeping of time records will render the guilty officer or employee administratively liable without prejudice to criminal prosecution as the circumstances warrant. For this, and her frequent unauthorized absences and tardiness, Ms. Armane should be made to account. Under Sec. 23, par. (f), Rule XIV, of the Omnibus Civil Service Rules and Regulations, falsification of official documents is punishable with dismissal from the service even for the first offense. Atty. Esperanza Poco-Deslate, Branch Clerk of Court of Branch 19 and immediate superior of Ms. Amane, should in a way be answerable for her role in tolerating Amane's absences. As the immediate supervisor of Ms. Armane, Atty. Poco-Deslate should have disciplined her and made sure that her subordinates regularly and promptly performed their duties. Consequently, Atty. Poco-Deslate is liable for neglect of duty. Although not so formally charged, the Investigation Report dated 13 May 1997 of Judge Julius L. Abela finding her guilty of simple neglect of duty should be considered as the formal complaint against this respondent. Considering, however, that the said respondent, was appointed as Third Assistant Provincial Prosecutor of Capiz on June 15, 1999 and has assumed office, as such, on July 16, 1999, her suspension from office, recommended by the Investigating Judge, has been become inappropriate. In lieu thereof, a fine of P10,000.00 should suffice. As to Adm. Matter No. P-95-1128 where the respondents Anita Duran and Johnel Arches were charged with falsification, the Court finds the evidence on record insufficient to hold them liable, hence, adopts the Investigating Judge's recommendation that the charges against them be dismissed. The only pieces of evidence adduced by Atty. Arce were, aside from the Grading Sheets of respondents, the certificates[21 issued by the Office of the Registrar of Colegio dela Purisima Concepcion[22 showing that Anita Duran was enrolled in, (a) English 115 scheduled every Monday, Wednesday and Friday at 4:30 to 5:30 p.m.; (b) Philosophy 101, every Tuesday and Thursday at 4:30 to 6:00 p.m.; and, (c) Math 104 every Tuesday and Thursday at 7:30 to 9:00 a.m., while Johnel Arches was-enrolled in: (a) Philosophy 101 scheduled every Tuesday and Thursday at 4:30 to 6:00 p.m.; and, (b) Psychology 101 every Monday, Wednesday, and Friday at 4:30 to 5:30 p.m. As respondents correctly contend, the certificates issued by the Registrar of the Colegio de la Purisima Concepcion (Exhs. "E" and "F") are proof, onlyof the fact of their enrollment but not their actual attendance in class. On the other hand, the Grading Sheets[23 themselves partially belie complainant's assertion that Duran and Arches attended their classes in Philosophy 101 and Psychology 101 during office hours because the Grading Sheets (Exhs. "AA" and "BB") show that the "Time" for the "Philosophy 101" class attended by them was 6:00 - 7:30 p. m. while the "Time" for the "Psychology 101 " class attended by Arches was "5:30 - 6:30 p.m.'' clearly beyond office hours. Aside from the foregoing, respondents' professors as well as the Dean of the school, who have no interest in the case and are therefore expected to be impartial in their certifications and testimonies, attested that subject students attended their classes after office hours in accordance with an internal arrangement with them. Besides, respondents' co-employees, not to mention their Presiding Judge, Executive Judge Pestao himself, confirmed that Duran and Arches were always in court performing their functions and were not known to leave the office before 5 o'clock in the afternoon. [24 Hence,

since the alleged falsification by Duran and Arches was not competently proved, the charge of connivance in the falsification against Atty. Poco-Deslate should necessarily be dismissed. Finally, in Adm. Matter No. P-95-1144, we agree with the Investigating Judge's recommendation that Atty. Susan Mendoza-Arce should be made to account for her grave misconduct, conduct prejudicial to the best interest of the service, and oppression for reprehensible acts done in connection with these administrative cases. For one thing, we cannot condone respondent's acts of harassment and intimidation of professors of the Colegio de la Purisima Concepcion in her single-minded determination to secure evidence against court employees suspected of having falsified their DTRs. Even assuming her purpose to be laudable, the means chosen by Atty. Mendoza-Arce leaves much to be desired being not only abusive of other people's rights and persons but, worse, grossly unworthy of her position as Clerk of Court of RTCRoxas City. As succinctly held in Macalua vs. Tiu, Jr.,[25 an employee of the judiciary is expected to accord respect for the person and rights of others at all times, and his every act and word characterized by prudence, restraint, courtesy and dignity. Government service is people-oriented where high-strung and belligerent behavior is not allowed. No matter how commendable respondent's motives may be, as a public officer, courtesy should be his policy always. This applies with more force in the case of Atty. Mendoza-Arce because as Clerk of Court of RTC-Roxas City she is supposed to be the model of all court employees not only with respect to the performance of their assigned tasks[26but also in the manner of conducting themselves with propriety and decorum ever mindful that their conduct, official or otherwise, necessarily reflects on the court of which they are a part. What makes the act doubly reprehensible in the case of Atty. Mendoza-Arce was that it was perpetrated by flashing one's "badge" and with threats that as a Clerk of Court she could easily slap the officials of the school with a court case if the latter refused to cooperate with her. Such is not zeal in one's duties, but rather, an ugly display of an oppressive character amounting to grave misconduct. As it is, Atty. Mendoza-Arce's act of trying to intimidate CPC professors into certifying something "contrary to their knowledge" completely destroyed the avowed legitimacy of her purpose of merely trying to ascertain whether Duran and Arches really falsified their DTRs. After all, there are other ways to prove such fact. Atty. Mendaza-Arce's resort to such reprehensible means clearly reveals her mindset to impute something criminal on the part of the employees of the court to the extent of even daring to suborn perjury just to substantiate her imputations.[27 As a lawyer, more so as an officer of the court, respondent ought to know, that she is mandated to "obey the laws of the land and promote respect for the law and legal processes."[28 In addition, we take exception to Atty. Arce's decision to air her answer to the Petition dated 12 September 1994 of the court employees over the local radio station "Bombo Radyo" or DYOW. Even assuming that he was not the one who started the news, about the petition aired all over the local radio stations and that she was merely forced to defend herself from the news, still, her action of going on the air to throw her counter-accusations, i.e., one of the signatories to the Petition "plays mahjong during office hours," another "accepts typing jobs and types them using office supplies," while still another "does sideline jobs during office hours by selling insurance,[29 is not justified and should not be countenanced. As noted by the Investigating Judge, Atty. Arce's recourse to the local "Bombo Radyo" radio and to the Roxas City Police Blotter to broadcast her petty and ridiculous accusations against particular court employees unduly exposed the court and its personnel to public ridicule and derision[30contrary to our emphasized admonition that all those involved in the administration of justice are required all the times to conduct themselves with thehighest degreeof propriety and decorum and to take great care in avoiding incidents that tend, to degrade the judiciary and diminish the respect and regard for the courts.[31 As enshrined in our Code of Conductand Ethical Standards for Public Officials and Employees, public interest must be upheld over personal ones.[32 Likewise not to be ignored is Atty Mendoza-Arce's apparent disregard, even disrespect, of the authority of her superior, Executive Judge Sergio Pestao, who was likewise the Presiding Judge of Br. 19 of the RTC-Roxas City. As correctly contended by complainant Atty. Poco-Deslate, the Manual for Clerks of Court limits the general supervisory power of the Clerk of Court over all court personnel

initiating such investigations and recommending appropriate action tothe Executive Judge.[33 This underscores the primacy of the supervisory powers of the Executive Judge whose designation, after all, is but a recognition of his leadership qualities.[34 In the instant case Atty. Mendoza-Arce chose to proceed administratively against Anita Duran, and Johnel Arches despite lack of evidence, persistent efforts at mediation by all the Judges of the RTCRoxas City led by the Executive Judge himself, and notwithstanding Judge Pestao's assurances during the mediation conference on 21 September 1994 that the enrollment of subject stenographers was is response to his encouragement to his staff to pursue and complete their college education for their own professional growth. While the Court does not approve of the action of the Executive Judge in allowing Anita Duran and Johnel Arches to undertime their DTRs pending adjustment of the schedule and special arrangements with their professors, the Court however is not quick to condemn such action of the Judge as so grave an error. The Court recognizes the initiative of the Honorable Judge, in encouraging the professional growth of his staff. In his letter to this Court, coursed through the Court Administrator, he informed that: Because of the tight schedule of classes, they said they were forced to enroll in a subject scheduled at 4:30 p.m. When I learned of this, I told the two stenographers in no uncertain terms that they could not leave the office before 5 p.m. and that they should seek adjustment in their class schedule. I also told them that they should reach an understanding with their instructors that they be allowed to arrive late in class. They told me that their instructors gave them a little consideration because they are working students and allowed them to arrive late in their class. In fact, Mrs. Duran never attended and then dropped her subject in the morning. Miss Arches has also changed her schedule. This is borne by the certifications, machine copies of which are attached, issued by their college instructors.[35 That Atty. Susan Mendoza-Arce was not dissuaded from her course of action by the explanation of Judge Pestao and, worse, even saying that the latter's decision to encourage court employees to continue with their college education was wrong and against Civil Service Rules,[36 strongly indicates her lack of respect for her immediate superior in utter disregard of our repeated admonition that a Clerk of Court, being an essential officer of the court, is especially imbued with the mandate of earning and preserving respect and maintaining loyalty not only to the court but also the judge as superior officer.[37 A judge presiding over a branch' of a court is, in legal contemplation, the head thereof having effective control and authority to discipline all employees within the branch He is not a mere figurehead and to claim that "it is better to disobey the presiding judge rather than the clerk of court,[38 in effect asserting that a Clerk of Court is head of the office, is too clearly untenable to merit any serious consideration.[39 Unless the judges are themselves under investigation or unjustifiably refuse to exercise their supervisory powers, they should not be deprived of the power and discretion to discipline employees under them. Thus Atty. Mendoza-Arce should have been satisfied with what Judge Pestao explained if she herself was not ready to impute a wrongdoing to him for his solution to the predicament of the stenographers. Finally, not to be ignored is Atty. Mendoza-Arce's widely complained disposition as Clerk of Court of the RTC-Roxas City. As already professed, it is indeed commendable to strive for an ideal government office where every public servant devotes himself wholly to public service with the utmost integrity, honesty and diligence in work However, we must repeat: To be a good manager, one must be a good leader. One cannot be a good leader unless, among other things, he knows himself and his objectives, ever cognizant of the fact that he is dealing with beings endowed by God with human dignity and self-respect, each of whom is different from the other, is able to earn the trust and confidence of his subordinates and motivate them toward creativity, achievement, and success, and is able to marshal their potentials and the resources of his office for the effective performance of its functions and duties. His conduct and example must create an atmosphere of cordiality conducive to industry, dedication, and commitment to excellence.[40 WHEREFORE, after due deliberation, we hold thus:

1. In Adm. Matter No. P-94-1080 (Dinah Christina A. Amane v. Atty. Susan Mendoza-Arce) the complaint filed by Dinah Christina A. Amane against Atty. Susan Mendoza-Arce is dismissed for insufficiency of evidence. Based on the evidence on record, Dinah Christina A. Amane, on the other hand, is found GUILTY of notorious absenteeism and falsification of her Daily Time Records (DTRs) and consequently ordered DISMISSED from the service with forfeiture of all benefits and privileges, with prejudice to reemployment in the government including government owned and controlled corporations. Atty. Esperanza E. Poco-Deslate is adjudged GUILTY of simple neglect of duty for tolerating Dinah Christina A. Amane's aforesaid notorious absenteeism and falsification of Daily Time Records (DTRs) being the latter's immediate superior, and is hereby ordered to pay a fine of P10,000.00. 2. In Adm. Matter No. P-95-1128 (Atty. Susan Mendoza-Arce vs. Anita B. Duran, Johnel C. Arches and Atty. Esperanza E. Poco-Deslate), the charges of falsification of DTRs filed againstAnita Duran and Johnel Arches are DISMISSED for lack of merit. Hence, the charge of connivance to said falsification against Atty. Esperanza E. Poco-Deslate is necessarily dismissed; 3. In Adm. Matter No. P-95-1144 (Atty. Esperanza Isabel E. Poco-Deslate vs. Atty. Susan MendozaArce), Atty. Susan Mendoza-Arce is found GUILTY of grave misconduct, oppression and conduct prejudicial to the best interest of the service and is accordingly DISMISSED from the service with forfeiture of all benefits and privileges, with prejudice to reemployment in the government including government owned and controlled corporations. SO ORDERED. Davide, Jr., (Chairman), Melo, Puno, Vitug, Kapunan, Mendoza, Panganiban, Quisumbing, Purisima, Pardo, Buena, Gonzaga-Reyes, Ynares-Santiago, and De Leon, Jr., JJ., concur. Bellosillo, J., no part, related to parties. THIRD DIVISION A.M. No. P-06-2109 November 27, 2006 LIGAYA V. REYES, Complainant, vs. MARIO PABLICO, Process Server, Regional Trial Court, Manila, Branch 40, Respondent. DECISION CARPIO, J.: The Facts This administrative case stemmed from a Complaint and a Supplemental Complaint dated 16 October 2001 and 10 December 2001, respectively, filed by Ligaya V. Reyes ("complainant"), Officer-inCharge, Regional Trial Court (RTC) of Manila, Branch 40 ("trial court"), against Mario Pablico ("respondent"), trial court Process Server. Complainant charged respondent with neglect of duty, inefficiency, incompetence, willful violation of office regulation, and acts prejudicial to the best interest of the service. Complainant alleged that:
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1. Respondent failed to submit returns or to attach proof of service of notices and subpoenas issued by the trial court.1 In some criminal cases, respondent simply failed to serve subpoenas, causing the resetting of hearings and other court proceedings. 2
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2. Respondent sent a notice of order dated 6 October 2000 to the Public Attorneys Office only on 27 July 2001 (PAO) and to the public prosecutor only on 1 August 2001. 3
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3. In Criminal Case No. 00-182699, the presiding judge ordered respondent to serve personally a subpoena to the private complainant. However, it was Wilfredo Giron ("Giron"), a trial court staff member, who served the subpoena. 4Giron often prepared "mail matters" pertaining to civil cases in the trial court. 4. Some notices 5 were served upon the public prosecutor and the PAO not by respondent but by Jojie Malapajo ("Malapajo"), another trial court staff member. 5. The presiding judge ordered respondent to serve personally certain subpoenas, yet respondent served them through registered mail 6 or coursed them through the Manila Sheriff's Office ("Sheriff's Office"). 7
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6. Respondent failed to serve a notice of order provisionally dismissing Criminal Case Nos. 87-54763 and 87-54764, to the public prosecutor and the PAO. For lack of service to the public prosecutor and proper parties, the trial court denied on 16 August 2000 accused's motions for absolute dismissal. 8
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7. On 17 October 2000, complainant issued a memorandum to respondent regarding his failure to submit returns on court processes, thus:
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MEMORANDUM TO: Mario Pablico of Branch 40 RTC Manila SUBJECT: Non Submission of Return For your information, guidance and compliance. You were forewarned before regarding this subject. And several orders of the court reflected your nonperformance of duty. Starting date of this memo your inaction shall be reflected on the performance rating and the Court Administrator will be furnished a copy of the same. Manila, October 17, 2000. LIGAYA V. REYES Officer-In-Charge xxxx
9
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8. On 18 July 2001, complainant sent respondent a letter reminding him of his duties as process server and directing his strict compliance. 10
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9. Despite complainant's admonitions, respondent failed to serve a subpoena issued on 31 August 2001 which directed the appearance of the accused before the trial court on 4 December 2001. Instead, a certain "E. Hernandez" served the subpoena on 9 December 2001. 11
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10. Respondent also failed to serve an order requiring a detention prisoner's appearance for promulgation of judgment. This time, it was trial court Presiding Judge Placido C. Marquez ("Judge Marquez") who admonished respondent in open court, thus:

xxx ORDER The process server of this Court is directed to explain in writing within 24 hours from receipt hereof why this produce order to Dennis Samson y Pontaneles, dated October 26, 2001, has not been served to the person of Dennis Samson, such that the promulgation of the decision could not be held. Let the promulgation of the decision be reset to November 27, 2001 x x x x
12
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11. In a memorandum dated 26 November 2001, Branch Clerk of Court Gilbert Berjamin ("Atty. Berjamin") called respondent's attention to his neglect of duty and his absences. MEMORANDUM TO: MARIO PABLICO RE: NEGLECT OF DUTY AND ABSENCES xxx Lately, in Criminal Case No. 00-187290, a warrant of arrest against the accused and orders of forfeiture of bail against the bondsmen were issued on October 17, 2001. However, the record does not show whether said orders were served or not. Anent the warrant of arrest, the same was served on October 25, 2001 but the received copy/return was found on top of your table and was not attached to the record. Secondly, in Criminal Case No. 01-192294, entitled "People of the Philippines versus Dennis Samson y Pontaneles," the accused was not around for the promulgation of the decision on the said case. Upon inquiry of Ligaya V. Reyes, the produce order was released on October 26, 2001. However, the same was not served. Furthermore, the said order was lying idly on top of your table. As a consequence of which the undersigned ha[d] to order the Sheriff of this court to personally serve the produce order in Criminal Case No. 01-192294 and the Clerk III to personally serve the two (2) orders of forfeiture of bail in Criminal Case No. 01-187290. In Criminal Case No. 01-191083, an order dated November 5, 2001 was issued requiring you to explain within twenty four (24) hours why the subpoena dated October 17, 2001 was mailed only on October 23, 2001. Another order, dated November 12, 2001 was issued in Criminal Case No. 01192294 requiring you to explain in writing why the produce order has not been served. x x x x 13
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In his Comment dated 30 January 2002, respondent denied the charges against him. Respondent appended his performance rating form for the period 1 January to 30 June 2001, where he received an "outstanding" rating from complainant. 14 Respondent presented records from the trial court to prove that he served the notice of order dated 16 April 2001 for Criminal Case No. 99-175986 on time and that he submitted a return. 15 For those court processes he allegedly served through registered mail or coursed through the Sheriff's Office, against the directive of the presiding judge, respondent asserted that he never actually received a copy of these documents. 16 Respondent claimed that either the clerk in charge of criminal cases or complainant herself had mailed the documents or sent them to the Sheriff's Office. Respondent admitted that Giron served a subpoena in Valenzuela, but it was upon the request of then trial court Presiding Judge Herminia Pasamba ("Judge Pasamba"), who knew of Giron's familiarity with the area. Respondent also admitted the belated service of the notice of order dated 6 October 2000, but argued that he received a copy of the order only on 27 July 2001, as evidenced by his signed receipt on the dorsal portion of the notice. In his comment to the Supplemental Complaint, respondent disclosed an agreement with Malapajo, trial court clerk in charge of criminal cases, that the latter would personally serve court processes to the public prosecutor and the PAO, whose offices were very near the trial court.

To ascertain the authenticity of the documentary evidence submitted by the parties and the veracity of their conflicting statements, the Court referred the complaint to Executive Judge Antonio M. Eugenio, Jr. ("Judge Eugenio") of the RTC of Manila for investigation, report and recommendation. 17 Findings of the Investigating Judge In his Report and Recommendation 18 dated 21 July 2005, Judge Eugenio accepted respondent's explanation that Judge Pasamba instructed Giron to serve a notice in Valenzuela. Judge Eugenio found that contrary to the allegation of complainant, respondent served notices in Criminal Case Nos. 99175986 and 99-175987 not through registered mail but through personal service. The records indicate that the trial court provisionally dismissed the cases as shown by respondent's return stating that the addressee had transferred residences. Judge Eugenio favorably noted the affidavit executed by Jerlyn Balbas ("Balbas"), a trial court staff member, declaring that on 22 May 2001 complainant instructed her to deliver notices to the Sheriff's Office. Judge Eugenio found this affidavit supportive of respondent's claim that he never received some of the notices to be served, as complainant gave them directly to Balbas or to other clerks. Giron also executed an affidavit stating that whenever respondent was out serving court processes, he, as clerk in charge of civil cases, would receive "mail matters and pleadings from the litigants." In conclusion, Judge Eugenio found that respondent had "a tendency to neglect his work, to the prejudice of the public he is duty bound to serve." Judge Eugenio recommended that the Court find respondent guilty of simple neglect of duty and reprimand him, with a strong warning that a repetition of similar acts would merit a more severe penalty. On 31 August 2005, we resolved to refer the case to the Office of the Court Administrator (OCA) for evaluation, report and recommendation. Findings of the Court Administrator In its memorandum dated 22 November 2005, the OCA recommended the redocketing of the case as a regular administrative matter. The OCA agreed with the findings of Judge Eugenio, upon making the following evaluation: xxx It is undeniable that the respondent was remiss in the performance of his duties. This is shown by the fact that he was unable to serve mail matters to the addressees, and in order to cover-up his lapses, for several occasions his undertakings were performed by his co-employee [Giron]. This is aside from the fact that respondent actually repeated his laziness when he transferred to the [Sheriff's Office] the burden of serving [court] processes to party litigants. Such being the case, the respondent should be disciplined accordingly. Time and again, the Court had consistently ruled that process servers are required by law to perform their duties with utmost care and diligence as they serve as sentinels of justice. Any act of impropriety on their part immeasurably affects the honor and dignity of the Judiciary and the people's confidence in it. x x x x x x x A heavy workload cannot serve as an excuse for inefficiency. x x x Considering, however, that complainant did not adduce evidence to controvert the fact that prior to the filing of this administrative complaint, she gave the respondent an outstanding rating in the latter's performance in [the] office, thus, it is our position that the same should be treated as a mitigating circumstance x x x. 19
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On 1 February 2006 or during the pendency of this case, the Office of the Chief Justice received a letter from Judge Marquez requesting for the early resolution of this case as well as of two later administrative complaints filed against respondent. Judge Marquez expressed his continued dissatisfaction with respondent's performance, alleging that on 23 December 2005, respondent wrote in the trial court logbook that he would serve a court process in Criminal Case No. 84-31184. However, the records show that no court process for this case was served on that date. Respondent also failed to paste the registry receipt of mailing to a notice of order issued in Civil Case No. 04109523, for which Judge Marquez again admonished him in open court. The Court's Ruling The findings and recommendation of the OCA are well-taken, except for the recommended penalty. At the outset, we state that we cannot take cognizance of the additional evidence furnished by Judge Marquez through his letter dated 1 February 2006, respondent not having been given a copy of such letter and afforded the opportunity to answer the charges. Nonetheless, we find this complaint well-supported by other records from the trial court and by the various memoranda addressed to respondent citing instances of his neglect. In his defense, respondent provided piecemeal explanations which did not completely refute the evidence against him. Specifically, respondent did not explain: (1) the absence of attached registry return cards 20 or proof of service 21 on several case records; (2) his failure to serve the orders in Criminal Case Nos. 01-192294 and 00-183413; and (3) his failure to serve subpoenas to parties in Criminal Case Nos. 98165949 and 97-158537. 22 That respondent received an outstanding performance rating for the first semester of 2001 cannot overthrow this positive evidence which remain uncontroverted. On many occasions, complainant and Atty. Berjamin had warned respondent regarding his neglect of duty but their efforts proved futile. Even admonitions from Judge Marquez in open court did not effectively rouse respondent to be more mindful of the tasks expected of him, thus necessitating the filing of this administrative complaint. According to the Manual for Clerks of Court, the process server x x x serves court processes such as subpoena, subpoena duces tecum, summons, court order and notices; prepares and submits returns of service of court process; monitors messages and/or delivers court mail matters received and dispatched by him; and performs such other duties as may be assigned to him. 23
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The role of the process server is indispensable in the machinery of the justice system, where the constitutional mandate of the speedy disposition of cases entails an efficient means of communication between the courts and the litigants. Due to respondent's failure to observe his duties diligently, the trial court encountered problems in the service of its court processes, the most obvious consequence of which is the delay in the progress of cases. Complainant's evidence adequately established that proceedings in several cases heard before the trial court, such as hearings for the taking of witnesses' testimony and for promulgation of judgment, were postponed because the parties did not appear for lack of notice. Respondent needs reminding that the conduct of every employee of the judiciary is circumscribed with the heavy burden of responsibility. 24 The public expect judicial personnel to be living examples of uprightness in the performance of official duties, and to preserve at all times the good name and standing of the courts in the community.25 Here, respondent failed to live up to the high standards of dedication and efficiency that the public expect from occupants of his office. 26
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We agree with the finding of the OCA that respondent is guilty of simple neglect of duty, which is the failure of an employee to give proper attention to a required task. Simple neglect of duty signifies "disregard of a duty resulting from carelessness or indifference."27 The Court cannot countenance

neglect of duty, for even simple neglect of duty lessens the people's confidence in the judiciary, and, ultimately, in the administration of justice. However, the recommended penalty of reprimand does not correspond to the range of penalties under Section 52, Rule IV of the Uniform Rules on Administrative Cases in the Civil Service. Simple neglect of duty, if committed for the first time, is punishable by suspension of one month and one day to six months.28 WHEREFORE, we find Mario Pablico, Process Server, Regional Trial Court of Manila, Branch 40, GUILTY of simple neglect of duty and accordingly SUSPEND him for three months. We STERNLY WARN respondent that a repetition of the same or similar acts in the future shall merit a stiffer penalty. SO ORDERED. ANTONIO T. CARPIO Associate Justice WE CONCUR: LEONARDO A. QUISUMBING Associate Justice Chairperson CONCHITA CARPIO MORALES, DANTE O. TINGA Associate Justice Associate Justice PRESBITERO J. VELASCO, JR.