Criminal Procedure? Atty. Vic

Criminal Procedure?
Atty. Victor Y. Eleazar

A. General Matters

1. Distinguish Jurisdiction over subject matter from jurisdiction over
person of the accused

Is there a distinction between custody of the law and jurisdiction over the person of the accused?

In Miranda v. Tuliao, G.R. No. 158763, March 31, 2006, 486 SCRA 377, the SC explained that custody of the law is required before the court can act upon the application for bail, but is not required for the adjudication of other reliefs sought by the defendant where the mere application therefor constitutes a waiver of the defense of lack of jurisdiction over the person of the accused. Custody of the law is accomplished either by arrest or voluntary surrender, while jurisdiction over the person of the accused is acquired upon his arrest or voluntary appearance. One can be under the custody of the law but not yet subject to the jurisdiction of the court over his person, such as when a person arrested by virtue of a warrant files a motion before arraignment to quash the warrant. On the other hand, one can be subject to the jurisdiction of the court over his person, and yet not be in the custody of the law, such as when an accused escapes custody after his trial has commenced. Being in the custody of the law signifies restraint on the person, who is thereby deprived of his own will and liberty, binding him to become obedient to the will of the law. Custody of the law is literally custody over the body of the accused. It includes, but is not limited to, detention.

As regards the statement that jurisdiction over the person of the accused is acquired upon his arrest or voluntary appearance, can the court acquire jurisdiction over the accused in a criminal case through the service of summons, similar to a civil case? Under Sec. 8 (b) of Rule 112, in cases not requiring a preliminary investigation nor covered by the Rule on Summary Procedure, the MTC or MCTC finds probable cause, he shall issue a warrant of arrest, or a commitment order if the accused had already been arrested, and hold him for trial. However, if the judge is satisfied that there is no necessity for placing the accused under custody, he may issue summons instead of a warrant of arrest.??

The case of Miranda v. Tuliao further addresses the nagging issue on whether the court should first acquire jurisdiction over the person of the accused before it acts on his application for affirmative reliefs. The SC said, as a general rule one who seeks an affirmative relief is deemed to have submitted to the jurisdiction of the court, citing the case of Santiago v. Vasquez. There is however an exception to the rule that filing pleadings seeking affirmative relief constitutes voluntary appearance and the consequent submission of one’s person to the jurisdiction of the court. This is in case the pleadings who prayer is precisely for the avoidance of the jurisdiction of the court, which only leads to a special appearance. These pleadings are: (1) in civil cases, motions to dismiss on the ground of lack of jurisdiction over the person of the defendant, whether or not other grounds for dismissal are included; (2) in criminal cases, motions to quash a complaint on the ground of lack of jurisdiction over the person of the accused; and (3) motions to quash a warrant of arrest. The first two are consequences of the fact that failure to file them would constitute a waiver of the defense of lack of jurisdiction over the person. The third is a consequence of the fact that it is the very legality of the court process forcing the submission of the person of the accused that is the very issue in a motion to quash a warrant of arrest.

To recapitulate, in criminal cases, jurisdiction over the person of the accused is deemed waived by the accused when he files any pleading seeking an affirmative relief, except in cases when he invokes the special jurisdiction of the court by impugning such jurisdiction over his person. Therefore, in narrow cases involving special appearances, an accused can invoke the processes of the court even though there is neither jurisdiction over the person nor custody of the law. However, if a person invoking the special jurisdiction of the court applies for bail, he must first submit himself to the custody of the law.

In cases not involving the so-called special appearance, the general rule applies, i.e., the accused is deemed to have submitted himself to the jurisdiction of the court upon seeking affirmative relief. Notwithstanding this, there is no requirement for him to be in the custody of the law. The following cases best illustrate this point, where the SC granted various reliefs to accused who were not in the custody of the law, but were deemed to have placed their persons under the jurisdiction of the court. Note that none of these cases involve the application for bail, nor a motion to quash an information due to lack of jurisdiction over the person, nor a motion to quash a warrant of arrest:

a) In Allado v. Diokno, on the prayer of the accused in a petition for certiorari on the ground of lack of probable cause, the SC issued a temporary restraining order enjoining PACC from enforcing the warrant of arrest and the respondent judge therein from further proceeding with the case and, instead, to elevate the records to the SC.

2. In Roberts, Jr. v. Court of Appeals, upon the accused’s Motion to Suspend Proceedings and to Hold in Abeyance Issuance of Warrants of Arrest on the ground that they filed a Petition for Review with the Department of Justice, the SC directed respondent judge therein to cease and desist from further proceeding with the criminal case and to defer the issuance of warrants of arrests against the accused.

3. In Lacson v. Executive Secretary, on the prayer of the accused in a petition for certiorari on the ground of lack of jurisdiction on the part of the Sandiganbayan, the SC directed the Sandiganbayan to transfer the criminal cases to the Regional Trial Court even before the issuance of the warrants of arrest.

In Miranda, the SC held that the circumstances forcing it to require custody of the law in applications for bail are not present in motions to quash the warrant of arrest. If the court were to allow the granting of bail to persons not in the custody of the law, it is foreseeable that many persons who can afford the bail will remain at large, and could elude being held to answer for the commission of the offense if ever he is proven guilty. On the other hand, if we allow the quashal of warrants of arrest to persons not in the custody of the law, it would be very rare that a person not genuinely entitled to liberty would remain scot-free. This is because it is the same judge who issued the warrant of arrest who will decide whether or not he followed the Constitution in his determination of probable cause, and he can easily deny the motion to quash if he really did find probable cause after personally examining the records of the case.

Moreover, pursuant to the presumption of regularity of official functions, the warrant continues in force and effect until it is quashed and therefore can still be enforced on any day and at any time of the day and night. Furthermore, the continued absence of the accused can be taken against him in the determination of probable cause, since flight is indicative of guilt.

In fine, as much as it is incongruous to grant bail to one who is free, it is likewise incongruous to require one to surrender his freedom before asserting it. Human rights enjoy a higher preference in the hierarchy of rights than property rights, demanding that due process in the deprivation of liberty must come before its taking and not after.

2. Requisites for exercise of criminal jurisdiction

Arula v. Espino, G.R. No. L-28949, June 23, 1969, 28 SCRA 540 – Court acquires jurisdiction in criminal case only when the following requisites concur: (a) offense is one which the court is by law authorized to take cognizance of; (b) offense must have been committed within its territorial jurisdiction; and, (c) person charged with the offense must have been brought into its forum for trial forcibly by warrant of arrest or upon his voluntary submission to the court.

VYE’s COMMENT: The last element that “a person charged with the offense must have been brought into its forum for trial forcibly by warrant of arrest or upon his voluntary submission to the court” should now be qualified considering the amendments in the Rules. In cases not requiring a preliminary investigation nor covered by the Rule on Summary Procedure, the Municipal Trial Judge may issue summons instead of a warrant of arrest if he is satisfied that there is no necessity for placing the accused under custody. (Sec. 8 (b), Rule 112) In cases covered by the Rule on Summary Procedure, the court shall not order the arrest of the accused except for failure to appear whenever required. (Sec. 16, Rule on Summary Procedure) The court instead shall issue an order requiring the accused to submit his counter-affidavit and the affidavits of his witnesses as well as any evidence on his behalf. (Sec. 12 (b), Rule on Summary Procedure)

As regards the first and second elements, the case of Treñas v. People, G.R. No. 195002, January 25, 2012, 664 SCRA 355, illustrates the principle that in criminal cases, venue is jurisdictional. According to the SC, a court cannot exercise jurisdiction over a person charged with an offense committed outside its limited territory. Thus, in a criminal case, the prosecution must not only prove that the offense was committed, it must also prove the identity of the accused and the fact that the offense was committed within the jurisdiction of the court. In this case, accused was charged with the crime of estafa before the RTC of Makati. However, aside from the lone allegation in the Information, no other evidence was presented by the prosecution to prove that the offense or any of its elements was committed in Makati City. There is nothing in the documentary evidence offered by the prosecution that points to where the offense or any of its elements, was committed. Although the prosecution alleged that the check issued by the accused was dishonored in a bank in Makati, such dishonor is not an element of the offense of estafa under Art. 315, par. 1 (b) of the RPC, or misappropriation of money received in trust.

Note that in Isip v. People, G.R. No. 170298, June 26, 2007, 525 SCRA 735, the SC said that the jurisdiction of the court over a criminal case is determined by the allegations in the complaint or information. And once it is so shown, the court may validly take cognizance of the case. However, if the evidence adduced during the trial shows that the offense was committed somewhere else, the court should dismiss the action for want of jurisdiction.

3. Jurisdiction of Criminal courts

Bonifacio v. RTC of Makati, G.R. No. 184800, May 5, 2010, 620 SCRA 268 – The DOJ opined that the crime of internet libel was non-existent; hence, the accused could not be charged with libel under Art. 353 of the RPC. Thereupon, accused filed a Motion to Quash the Information on the grounds that it failed to vest jurisdiction on the Makati RTC. Citing Macasaet v. People, the accused maintained that the Information failed to allege a particular place within the trial court’s jurisdiction where the subject article was printed and first published or that the offended parties resided in Makati at the time the alleged defamatory material was printed and first published.

In this case, complainant equated his first access to the defamatory article on the accused’s website in Makati with “printing and first publication.” According to the SC, this would spawn the very ills that the amendment to Art. 360 of the RPC sought to discourage and prevent. You can just imagine the chaos that would ensue in situations where the website’s author or writer, a blogger or anyone who posts messages therein could be sued for libel anywhere in the Philippines that the complainant may have allegedly accessed the offending website. The Information must allege with particularity where the defamatory article was printed and first published, as evidenced or supported by, the address of their editorial or business offices in the case of newspapers, magazines or serial publications.

VYE’s COMMENT: Note that Sec. 4 of Rep. Act No. 10175 otherwise known as the Cybercrime Prevention Act of 2012, enumerates the acts that constitute the offense of cybercrime among which is libel described under content-related offenses. (Sec. 4 (c) (4), RA 10175) The provision reads: “Libel. – The unlawful or prohibited acts of libel as defined in Article 355 of the Revised Penal Code, as amended, committed through a computer system or any other similar means which may be devised in the future.”

Sec. 21 of RA 10175 vests on the Regional Trial Court jurisdiction over any violation of the provisions of the Act including any violation committed by a Filipino national regardless of the place of commission. The provision further reads: “Jurisdiction shall lie if any of the elements was committed within the Philippines or committed with the use of any computer system wholly or partly situated in the country, or when by such commission any damage is caused to a natural or juridical person, who at the time the offense was committed, was in the Philippines.

Figueroa v. People, G.R. No. 147406, July 14, 2008, 558 SCRA 63 – At the time the information for reckless imprudence resulting in homicide was filed, BP No. 129 had already been amended by Rep. Act No. 7691 conferring jurisdiction on the Municipal Trial Court. Case was however filed with the RTC. Accused raised jurisdiction for the first time on appeal. According to the Supreme Court, there is no estoppel even if he raised the lack of jurisdiction of the TC in his appeal before the appellate court. At that time, no considerable period had yet elapsed for laches to attach. The SC stressed that in applying the principle of estoppel by laches in the exceptional case of Sibonghanoy, the court considered therein the patent and revolting inequity and unfairness of having the judgment creditors go up their Calvary once more after more or less 15 years. The same however does not obtain in the instant case. The SC also noted that estoppel being in the nature of forfeiture is not favored by law. It is to be applied rarely – only from necessity, and only in extraordinary circumstances.

In Serena v. Sandiganbayan, G.R. No. 162059, January 22, 2008, 542 SCRA 224, posed the question: Can the Sandiganbayan try a government scholar accused along with her brother of swindling government funds? The SC held that the jurisdiction of the Sandiganbayan is simply subject to the twin requirements that (1) the offense is committed by public officials and employees mentioned in Sec. 4 (a) of PD 1606, as amended; and that (2) the offense is committed in relation to their office.

Note, in Serena, the offense charged was estafa, not malversation. The SC in this regard drew attention to Sec. 4 (B) of PD 1606 which reads: “B. Other offenses or felonies whether simple or complexed with other crimes committed by public officials and employees mentioned in subsection a of this section in relation to their office.” Estafa is one of those “other offenses” contemplated in Sec. 4 (B).

Garcia v. Sandiganbayan, G.R. No. 165835, June 22, 2005, 460 SCRA 600 – The Sandiganbayan has jurisdiction over forfeiture proceedings pursuant to RA 1379. Forfeiture proceedings are actions in rem and civil in nature. It is a divestiture of property without compensation in consequence of an offense.

Clarita D. Garcia v. Sandiganbayan, G.R. No. 170122, October 12, 2009, 603 SCRA 348 – Plunder case did not absorb forfeiture case. Forfeiture is civil in nature while plunder is criminal. Rep. Act No. 7080 did not repeal Rep. Act No. 1379. However, court did not acquire jurisdiction over the persons of the wife and children of Major Garcia due to invalid substituted service of summons.

4. When injunction may be issued to restrain criminal prosecution

Perez v. Monetary Board, G.R. No. L-23307, June 30, 1967, 20 SCRA 592 – In this case petitioner instituted mandamus proceedings against the Monetary Board to compel it to prosecute Republic Bank officials for violations of the General Banking Act and for falsification of public or commercial documents. The SC held that mandamus will not lie to compel a prosecuting officer to prosecute a criminal case in court

Marcelo Jr. v. Villordon, G.R. 173081, December 15, 2010, 638 SCRA 557 – Can you compel by mandamus to resolve a criminal complaint which has been pending for more than a year? According to the SC, since the institution of a criminal action involves the exercise of sound discretion by the prosecutor, mandamus will not lie to compel him to file the information

Hipos v. Judge Bay, G.R. No. 174813-15, March 17, 2009, 581 SCRA 674 – Mandamus is improper to compel judge to grant the motion to withdraw information because of the resolution of the City Prosecutor finding no probable cause. While mandamus is available to compel action on matters involving judgment and discretion when refuse, it is never available to direct the exercise of judgment or discretion in a particular way or the retraction or reversal of an action already taken in the exercise of either.

B. Prosecution of Offenses

In Uy v. Sandiganbayan, G.R. No. 105965-70, the SC in its Resolution dated March 20, 2001 (354 SCRA 651) clarified that the Philippine Office of the Ombudsman the Philippine departs from the classical Ombudsman model whose function is merely to receive and process the people’s complaints against corrupt and abusive government personnel. The Philippine Ombudsman, as protector of the people, is armed with the power to prosecute erring public officers and employees, giving him an active role in the enforcement of laws on anti-graft and corrupt practices and such other offenses that may be committed by such officers and employees. The legislature has vested him with broad powers to enable him to implement his own actions. Recognizing the importance of this power, the SC cannot derogate the same by limiting it only to cases cognizable by the Sandiganbayan. It is apparent from the history and the language of the present law that the legislature intended such power to apply not only to cases within the jurisdiction of the Sandiganbayan but also those within the jurisdiction of regular courts.

Section 15 of RA 6770 gives the Ombudsman primary jurisdiction over cases cognizable by the Sandiganbayan. The law defines such primary jurisdiction as authorizing the Ombudsman “to take over, at any stage, from any investigatory agency of the government, the investigation of such cases.” The grant of this authority does not necessarily imply the exclusion from its jurisdiction of cases involving public officers and employees cognizable by other courts. The exercise by the Ombudsman of his primary jurisdiction over cases cognizable by the Sandiganbayan is not incompatible with the discharge of his duty to investigate and prosecute other offenses committed by public officers and employees. Indeed, it must be stressed that the powers granted by the legislature to the Ombudsman are very broad and encompass all kinds of malfeasance, misfeasance and non-feasance committed by public officers and employees during their tenure of office.

Moreover, the jurisdiction of the Office of the Ombudsman should not be equated with the limited authority of the Special Prosecutor under Section 11 of RA 6770. The Office of the Special Prosecutor is merely a component of the Office of the Ombudsman and may only act under the supervision and control and upon authority of the Ombudsman. Its power to conduct preliminary investigation and to prosecute is limited to criminal cases within the jurisdiction of the Sandiganbayan. Certainly, the lawmakers did not intend to confine the investigatory and prosecutory power of the Ombudsman to these types of cases. The Ombudsman is mandated by law to act on all complaints against officers and employees of the government and to enforce their administrative, civil and criminal liability in every case where the evidence warrants. To carry out this duty, the law allows him to utilize the personnel of his office and/or designate any fiscal, state prosecutor or lawyer in the government service to act as special investigator or prosecutor to assist in the investigation and prosecution of certain cases. Those designated or deputized to assist him work under his supervision and control. The law likewise allows him to direct the Special Prosecutor to prosecute cases outside the Sandiganbayan’s jurisdiction in accordance with Section 11 (4c) of RA 6770.

Justice Pardo dissented. He opined that the Ombudsman does not have the power to prosecute criminal cases within the original jurisdiction of the regular courts. In all cases elevated to the Sandiganbayan and from the Sandiganbayan to the Supreme Court, the Office of the Ombudsman, through its special prosecutor, shall represent the People of the Philippines, except in cases filed pursuant to Executive Order Nos. 1, 2, 14 and 14-A, issued in 1986.

1. Criminal actions, how instituted

People v Bautista, G.R. No. 168641, April 27, 2007, 522 SCRA 742 – the offense for slight physical injuries was committed on June 12, 1999; case was referred to Barangay conciliation and barangay issued certification to file action on August 11; complaint for slight physical injury was filed with the Office of the City Prosecutor on August 16; Investigating Prosecutor recommended the filing of the Information in a Resolution dated November 8; Information was filed with the MTC on June 20, 2000 the following year. Accused filed a motion to quash on ground of prescription because the Information was filed beyond 60 days. Note, accused should not have been allowed to file a motion to quash on the ground of prescription since this is a prohibited pleading under Sec. 19 (a) of the 1991 Revised Rule on Summary Procedure except on the ground of lack of jurisdiction over the subject matter, or failure to comply with the requirement of conciliation proceedings before the barangay.

According to SC, it is a settled rule that the filing of the complaint with the fiscal’s office suspends the running of the prescriptive period. The OCP miserably incurred some delay in the filing the Information but such mistake or negligence should not unduly prejudice the interests of the State and the offended party. As held in People v. Olarte, it is unjust to deprive the injured party of the right to obtain vindication on account of delays that are not under his control. All that the victim of the offense may do on his part to initiate the prosecution is to file the requisite complaint.

Brillante v. CA, G.R. Nos. 118757 & 121571, October 19, 2004, 440 SCRA 541 – Libel case filed by Binay against Brillantes. It reiterated the ruling in People v. Olarte. According to SC, Olarte laid down the doctrine that a complaint filed for purposes of preliminary investigation tolls the running of the prescriptive period of a criminal offense. In Francisco v. CA, the SC amplified that the filing of a complaint with the fiscal’s office suspends the running of the prescriptive period of a criminal offense.

2. Who may file them, crimes that cannot be prosecuted de officio

ACASA: Adultery, concubinage, abduction, seduction and acts of lasciviousness

3. Criminal actions, when enjoined

4. Control of prosecution

Sec. 5, Rule 110 states: All criminal actions either commenced by complaint or by information shall be prosecuted under the direction and control of a public prosecutor. The Rule was amended to address situations where there are unavailable public prosecutors. Thus, in case of heavy work schedule of the public prosecutor, or in the event of lack of public prosecutors, the private prosecutor may be authorized in writing by the Chief of the Prosecution Office or the Regional State Prosecutor to prosecute the criminal case subject to the approval of the court. In MTCs or MCTCs, when the prosecutor assigned thereto or to the case is not available, the offended party, any peace officer, or public officer charged with the enforcement of the law violated may prosecute the case.

In Pinote v. Ayco, A.M. No. RTJ-05-1944, December 13, 2005, 477 SCRA 409, the SC emphasized the necessity of the presence of the public prosecutor in the trial of criminal cases in order to protect vital state interests, foremost of which is its interest to vindicate the rule of law, the bedrock of peace of the people. Thus, the judge’s act of allowing the presentation of the defense witnesses in the absence of the pubic prosecutor or a private prosecutor designated for the purpose is a clear transgression of the Rules which could not be rectified by subsequently giving the prosecution a chance to cross-examine the witnesses.

The SC in Bangayan Jr. v. Bangayan, G.R. No. 172777, October 19, 2011, 659 SCRA 2011, citing the case of People v. Santiago, 174 SCRA 143, held that in criminal cases, the offended party is the state and the interest of the private complainant or the private offended party is limited to the civil liability. Thus, in the prosecution of the offense, the complainant’s role is limited to that of a witness for the prosecution. If a criminal case is dismissed by the TC or if there is an acquittal, an appeal therefrom on the criminal aspect may be undertaken only by the State throught he OSG. Only the OSG may represent the People of the Philippines on appeal. The private offended party or complainant may not take such appeal. However, the said offended party or complainant may appeal the civil aspect despite the acquittal of the accused.

In Fenequito v. Vergara Jr., G.R. No. 172829, July 18, 2012, the MeTC dismissed the criminal case for falsification of public documents upon motion of the petitioners based on lack of probable cause. The MeTC dismissed the criminal case. With the express conformity of the public prosecutor, the private complainant Vergara Jr. appealed the dismissal to the RTC. The RTC set aside the order of dismissal and remanded the case to the MeTC for trial. Petitioners questioned the order of the RTC by petition for review before the CA which dismissed the petition saying that the order of the RTC is interlocutory in nature and therefore not appealable. The petitioners then filed a petition for certiorari before the SC wherein the caption of the case remained “Fenequito et al. v. Vergara Jr.”, Fenequito et al. being the accused in the case while Vergara Jr. being the private complainant in the criminal case.

Petitioners questioned among other things the propriety of the private complainant to appeal the case to the RTC. According to the SC, it is wrong for petitioners to argue that it is the OSG which has authority to file an appeal with the RTC. Section 35 (l), Chapter 12, Title III of Book IV of Executive Order No. 292, otherwise known as the Administrative Code of 1987, mandates the OSG to represent “the Government in the Supreme Court and the Court of Appeals in all criminal proceedings.” On the other hand, Section 11 of Presidential Decree No. 1275, entitled “Reorganizing the Prosecution Staff of the Department of Justice and the Offices of the Provincial and City Fiscals, Regionalizing the Prosecution Service, and Creating the National Prosecution Service,” which was the law in force at the time the appeal was filed, provides that the provincial or the city fiscal (now referred to as prosecutor) “shall have charge of the prosecution of all crimes, misdemeanors and violations of city or municipal ordinances in the courts of such province or city and shall therein discharge all the duties incident to the institution of criminal prosecutions.” In consonance with the above-quoted provision, it has been held by this Court that the fiscal represents the People of the Philippines in the prosecution of offenses before the trial courts at the metropolitan trial courts, municipal trial courts, municipal circuit trial courts and the regional trial courts. Since the appeal, in the instant case was made with the RTC of Manila, it is clear that the City Prosecutor or his assistant (in this case, the Assistant City Prosecutor) had authority to file the same.

Moreover, petitioners’ reliance on Presidential Decree No. 911 is misplaced, as the cited provision refers only to cases where the assistant fiscal or state prosecutor’s power to file an information or dismiss a case is predicated or conditioned upon the prior authority or approval of the provincial or city fiscal or the Chief State Prosecutor. There is nothing in the said law, which provides that in cases of appeal, an Assistant City Prosecutor or a State Prosecutor may file the same only upon prior authority or approval of the City Prosecutor or the Chief State Prosecutor. In other words, unless otherwise ordered, an Assistant City Prosecutor or a State Prosecutor may file an appeal with the RTC, questioning the dismissal by the MeTC of a case for lack of probable cause, even without prior authority or approval of the City Prosecutor or the Chief State Prosecutor.

5. Sufficiency of Complaint or Information

Lazarte v. Sandiganbayan, G.R. No. 180122, March 13, 2009, 581 SCRA 431 – “conniving, confederating and mutually helping with each other…” Is this sufficient to establish conspiracy? Yes, when conspiracy is not charged as a crime in itself (conspiracy to commit treason, rebellion or sedition) but only as a mode of committing the crime, there is less necessity of reciting its particularities in the information because conspiracy is not the gravamen of the offense charged.

6. Designation of Offense

7. Cause of the Accusation

8. Duplicity of the Offense; Exception

Duplicity is the joinder of 2 or more distinct and separate offenses in the same court of an indictment or information. It is a ground to quash the information under Sec. 3 (e) of Rule 117. See Sec. 13, Rule 110 – A complaint or information must charge only one offense except when the law prescribes a single punishment for various offenses. (Soriano v. People, June 30, 2009)

In Ivler v. Judge San Pedro, G.R. No. 172716, November 17, 2010, 635 SCRA 191, Ivler was charged in Crim. Case No. 82367 for Reckless Imprudence resulting to slight physical injuries for the injuries of Evangeline. He was charged in Crim. Case No. 82366 for Reckless Imprudence resulting to homicide and damage to property for the death of Evangeline’s husband and damage to the spouses’ car. Ivler pleaded guilty in the first case and was meted a penalty of public censure. He then moved to quash the second case on the ground of double jeopardy.

According to the SC, reckless imprudence is a single crime, the consequences on persons and property is material only to determine the penalty. Thus, the prior acquittal or conviction of reckless imprudence bars the subsequent prosecution for the same quasi-offense.

9. Amendment or Substitution of complaint or information

A distinction should be made between amendment and substitution under Section 14, Rule 110. For this purpose, Teehankee Jr. v. Madayag, G.R. No. 103102, March 6, 1992, 207 SCRA 134, is instructive, viz:

The first paragraph provides the rules for amendment of the information or complaint, while the second paragraph refers to the substitution of the information or complaint.

It may accordingly be posited that both amendment and substitution of the information may be made before or after the defendant pleads, but they differ in the following respects:

1. Amendment may involve either formal or substantial changes, while substitution necessarily involves a substantial change from the original charge;

2. Amendment before plea has been entered can be effected without leave of court, but substitution of information must be with leave of court as the original information has to be dismissed;

3. Where the amendment is only as to form, there is no need for another preliminary investigation and the retaking of the plea of the accused; in substitution of information, another preliminary investigation is entailed and the accused has to plead anew to the new information; and

4. An amended information refers to the same offense charged in the original information or to an offense which necessarily includes or is necessarily included in the original charge, hence substantial amendments to the information after the plea has been taken cannot be made over the objection of the accused, for if the original information would be withdrawn, the accused could invoke double jeopardy. On the other hand, substitution requires or presupposes that the new information involves a different offense which does not include or is not necessarily included in the original charge, hence the accused cannot claim double jeopardy.

In determining, therefore, whether there should be an amendment under the first paragraph of Section 14, Rule 110, or a substitution of information under the second paragraph thereof, the rule is that where the second information involves the same offense, or an offense which necessarily includes or is necessarily included in the first information, an amendment of the information is sufficient; otherwise, where the new information charges an offense which is distinct and different from that initially charged, a substitution is in order.

There is identity between the two offenses when the evidence to support a conviction for one offense would be sufficient to warrant a conviction for the other, or when the second offense is exactly the same as the first, or when the second offense is an attempt to commit or a frustration of, or when it necessarily includes or is necessarily included in, the offense charged in the first information. In this connection, an offense may be said to necessarily include another when some of the essential elements or ingredients of the former, as this is alleged in the information, constitute the latter. And, vice-versa, an offense may be said to be necessarily included in another when the essential ingredients of the former constitute or form a part of those constituting the latter.

With the foregoing guidelines, consider the following situations:

1. Accused was charged with frustrated murder and entered a plea of not guilty. The prosecution then presented its evidence and thereafter rested its case. Accused was allowed to file a motion for leave to file a demurrer to evidence. However, before the said motion could be filed, the victim died. Can the prosecution amend the information to charge the accused with homicide or murder without violating the accused’s right against double jeopardy?

In Teehankee Jr. v. Madayag, the SC held that it is evident that frustrated murder is but a stage in the execution of the crime of murder, hence the former is necessarily included in the latter. It is indispensable that the essential element of intent to kill as well as qualifying circumstances such as treachery or evident premeditation be alleged in both information for frustrated murder and for murder, thereby meaning and proving the same material allegations are essential to the sufficiency of the information’s filed for both. This is because except for the death of the victim, the essential elements of consummated murder likewise constitute the essential ingredients to convict the accused for the offense of frustrated murder.

2. Accused was charged with Homicide. However, the Information alleged the aggravating circumstance of treachery. The accused pleaded not guilty. Can the prosecution amend the Information after it discovered that the aggravating circumstance of treachery should have qualified the killing from Homicide to Murder without violating the accused’s right against double jeopardy?

In Pacoy v. Judge Cajigal, G.R. No. 157472, September 28, 2007, 534 SCRA 338, the SC said that the amendment was formal in nature. It explained that the change of the offense charged from Homicide to Murder is merely a formal amendment and not a substantial amendment or a substitution as defined in Teehankee. While the amended Information was for Murder, a reading of the Information shows that the only change made was in the caption of the case; and in the opening paragraph or preamble of the Information, with the crossing out of word “Homicide” and its replacement by the word “Murder.” There was no change in the recital of facts constituting the offense charged or in the determination of the jurisdiction of the court. The averments in the amended Information for Murder are exactly the same as those already alleged in the original Information for Homicide, as there was not at all any change in the act imputed to petitioner, i.e., the killing of 2Lt. Escueta without any qualifying circumstance. Thus, we find that the amendment made in the caption and preamble from “Homicide” to “Murder” as purely formal.

3. Accused was charged with in 4 Informations for illegal recruitment. Each Information alleged one victim only. Can the prosecution amend the 4 Informations without conducting another preliminary investigation such that only one Information will be filed against the same accused but this time for large scale recruitment since there are 4 victims?

In Fronda-Baggao v. People, G.R. No. 151785, December 10, 2007, 539 SCRA 531, the SC held that before the accused enters his plea, a formal or substantial amendment of the complaint or information may be made without leave of court. After the entry of a plea, only a formal amendment may be made but with leave of court and only if it does not prejudice the rights of the accused. After arraignment, a substantial amendment is proscribed except if the same is beneficial to the accused.

Following Sec. 14 of Rule 110 and considering that petitioner has not yet entered her plea, the four Informations could still be amended.

4. Accused was charged for violation of the SS law for non-remittance of contributions made from January 1991 to May 1993. He was arraigned under this Information. Can the prosecution thereafter amend the Information to change the date, i.e., “from January 1991 to May 1993” to “from January 1991 to May 1992” without violating the rights of the accused?

In Gabionza v. Court of Appeals, G.R. No. 140311, March 30, 2001, 355 SCRA 759, the SC held that the amendment is formal in nature. An amendment which merely states with additional precision something which is already contained in the original information, and which, therefore, adds nothing essential for conviction for the crime charged is an amendment to form that can be made at any time. Jurisprudence allows amendments to information so long as: (a) it does not deprive the accused of the right to invoke prescription; (b) it does not affect or alter the nature of the offense originally charged; (c) it does not involve a change in the basic theory of the prosecution so as to require the accused to undergo any material change or modification in his defense; (d) it does not expose the accused to a charge which would call for a higher penalty; and, (5) it does not cause surprise nor deprive the accused of an opportunity to meet the new averment.

In the case at bar, it is clear that the questioned amendment is one of form and not of substance. The allegation of time when an offense is committed is a matter of form, unless time is a material ingredient of the offense. It is not even necessary to state in the Information the precise time the offense was committed unless time is a material factor. It is sufficient that the act is alleged to have been committed at any time as near to the actual date at which the offense was committed as the Complaint or Information will permit.

Thus, the argument that the amendment shall prejudice the rights of the accused is untenable. The SC cannot see how his original defenses would be rendered inapplicable by the amendment, nor the prosecution’s theory in anyway altered by the same. Accused failed to adduce any evidence in support of his allegation that the amendment would adversely affect his rights.

The next problem to resolve is the need to conduct another preliminary investigation because of the amendment or substitution of the Information filed against the accused.

According to Retired Senior Associate Justice Florenz D. Regalado, before the plea is taken, the information may be amended in substance and/or form, without leave of court; but if amended in substance, the accused is entitled to another preliminary investigation, unless the amended charge is related to or is included in the original charge.

Thus, the rule is: Before or after a plea, a substantial amendment in an information entitles an accused to another preliminary investigation. However, if the amended information contains a charge related to or is included in the original information, a new preliminary investigation is not required. (Matalam v. The Second Division of the Sandiganbayan, G.R. No. 165751, April 12, 2005, 455 SCRA 736)

In Matalam, the accused was charged with violation of Sec. 3 (e) of RA 3019, as amended for his alleged illegal and unjustifiable refusal to pay the monetary claims of several employees of the DAR. The Information was amended charging him of illegally dismissing from the service the employees. He insisted that he is entitled to a new preliminary investigation. According to the SC, if the petitioner is not to be given a new PI for the amended charge, his right will definitely be prejudiced because he will be denied his right to present evidence to show or rebut evidence regarding the element of evident bad faith and manifest partiality on the alleged dismissal. He will be denied due process. Although the charge remained the same, which is violation of Sec. 3 (e) of RA 3019 as amended, the prohibited act allegedly committed changed, that is, failure to pay monetary claims to illegal dismissal, and he was not given the opportunity to submit his evidence on the absence or presence of evident bad faith and manifest partiality as to the illegal dismissal. Accused has not waived his right to a new PI and in fact asked for one.

10. Venue of criminal actions

Unlike in civil cases, a finding of improper venue in criminal cases carries jurisdictional consequences. In determining the venue where the criminal action is to be instituted and the court which has jurisdiction over it, Sec. 15 (a), Rule 110 of the Rules of Court provides: “Subject to existing laws, the criminal action shall be instituted and tried in the court or municipality or territory where the offense was committed or where any of its essential ingredients occurred.” This provision should be read in light of Sec. 10, Rule 110 which states: “Place of commission of the offense. – The complaint or information is sufficient if it can be understood from the allegations that the offense was committed or some of its essential ingredients occurred at some place within the jurisdiction of the court, unless the particular place where it was committed constitutes an essential element of the offense charged or is necessary for its identification.” Both provisions categorically place the venue and jurisdiction over criminal cases not only in the court where the offense was committed, but also where any of its essential ingredients took place. In other words, the venue of action and of jurisdiction are deemed sufficiently alleged where the Information states that the offense was committed or some of its essential ingredients occurred at a place within the territorial jurisdiction of the court.

In Union Bank of the Philippines v. People, G.R. No. 192565, February 28, 2012, 667 SCRA 113, the charge was perjury punished and defined under Art. 183 of the RPC for making a false narration in a Certificate against Forum Shopping. The Certification was notarized in Makati City but was submitted and used in Pasay City. The Information was filed in Makati but accused insists that it is the Pasay City court that has jurisdiciton over the case.

The case was referred to the court en banc primarily to address the seemeing conflict between the rulings in Illusorio v. Bildner and Sy Tiong Shiou v. Sy.

The SC explained that the criminal act charged was for the execution of an affidavit that contained a falsity. Art. 183 of the RPC is the applicable provision; thus, jurisdiction and venue should be determined on the basis of this article which penalizes one who makes an affidavit upon any material matter before a competent person authorized to administer an oath in cases in which the law so requires. The constitutive act of the offense is the making of an affidavit; thus, the criminal act is consummated when the statement containing a falsity is subscribed and sworn before a duly authorized person.

The SC then said that the ruling in Sy Tiong was more in accord with Art. 183 of the RPC. Thus, for the guidance of the Bar and the Bench, the crime of perjury committed through the making of a false affidavit under Art. 183 of the RPC is committed at the time the affiant subscribes and swears to his or her affidavit since it is at that time that all the elements of the crime of perjury are executed. When the crime is committed through false testimony under oath in a proceeding that is neither criminal nor civil, venue is at the place where the testimony under oath is given. If in ieu of or as supplement to the actual testimony made in a proceeding that is neither criminal nor civil, a written sown statement is submitted, venue may either be at the place where the sworn statement is submitted or where the oath was taken as the taking of the oath and the submission are both material ingredients of the crime committed. In all cases, the determination of venue shall be based on the acts alleged in the Information to be constitutive of the crime committed.

11. Intervention of offended party

Alonte v. Savellano Jr., G.R. No. 131652, March 9, 1998, 287 SCRA 245 – Justice Vitug observed that the affidavit did not contain any statement that disavowed the veracity of her complaint against Alonte but merely asked that she be allowed to withdraw her complaint and discontinue with the case. The affidavit of desistance by itself is not a ground for the dismissal of a criminal case once the action has been instituted.

C. Prosecution of Civil Action

1. Rule on implied institution of civil action with criminal
action

Abellana v. People, G.R. No. 174654, August 17, 2011, 655 SCRA 683 -The Information charged accused of estafa thru falsification of public document. According to the Information, the accused falsified a Deed of Absolute Sale by making it appear that the complainants participated in the execution of said document when they did not so participate, and once the document was falisified, accused caused the transfer of the title to the land to his name. The RTC convicted him of falsification of a public document only with civil liability. It found that there was no intention to defraud the complainants who actually signed the Deed of Absolute Sale. But since they caused the notarization of the deed without the complainants appearing before the notary public, accused were convicted of falsification of a public document by a private individual under Art. 172 (1) in relation to Art. 172 (2) of the RPC. On appeal, CA acquitted him because the accused could not be convicted of an offense not alleged in the Information. Nonetheless, accused was held civilly liable. Can this be done?

A judgment of acquittal shall state whether the evidence of the prosecution absolutely failed to prove the guilt of the accused or merely failed to prove his guilt beyond reasonable doubt. In either case, the judgment shall determine if the act or omission from which the civil liability might arise did not exist. When the exoneration is merely due to the failure to prove the guilt of the accused beyond reasonable doubt, the court should award the civil liability in favor of the offended party in the same criminal action. In other words, the extinction of the penal action does not carry with it the extinction of civil liability unless the extinction proceeds from a declaration in a final judgment that the fact from which the civil liability might arise did not exist.

In this case, civil liability arises when one, by reason of his own act or omission, done intentionally or negligently, causes damage to another. Hence, for the accused to be civilly liable to the complainants, it must be proven that the acts he committed had caused damage to the spouses. SC deleted civil liability because no damage proven.

People v. Yanson, G.R. No. 179195, October 3, 2011, 658 SCRA 385, recapitulated the damages that may be awarded when death occurs due to a crime. Thus, —

(1) Civil indemnity ex declicto for the death of the victim. Under prevailing jurisprudence, the award is Php75,000.00. Civil indemnity is granted to the heirs of the victim without need of proof other than the commission of the crime.

(2) Actual or compensatory damages

(3) Temperate damages in lieu of actual damages. Under Art. 2224 of the Civil Code, temperate damages may be recovered as it cannot be denied that the heirs of the victim suffered pecuniary loss although the exact amount was not proved.

(4) Moral damages which are awarded despite the absence of proof of mental and emotional suffering of the victim’s heirs.

(5) Exemplary damages. An aggravating circumstance whether ordinary or qualifying should entitle the offended party to an award of exemplary damages within the unbridled meaning of Art. 2230 of the Civil Code. Under prevailing jurisprudence, the award of Php30,000 is proper.

(6) Attorney’s fees

(7) Interest at the legal rate of 6% from date of finality of the Decision until fully paid on all the monetary awards for damages consistent with the current policy.

2. When civil action may proceed independently

Lim v. Kou Co Ping, G.R. No. 175256, August 23, 2012 emphasizes the distinction between a civil action ex delicto and an independent civil action arising from a contractual obligation and for tortious conduct (abuse of right). Co was accused of estafa diverting for her personal benefit money received in trust that Lim gave to her for the delivery of several cement bags. Co was however acquitted for insufficiency of evidence. On the civil aspect, she was declared not civilly liable. Lim appealed the civil aspect to the Court of Appeals. While the appeal was pending, Lim filed a civil complaint for specific performance and damages against Co and all other parties involved in the transaction. She alleged two causes of action of breach of contract and abuse of rights. Co then filed a motion to dismiss the complaint with the RTC and a motion to dismiss the appeal with the CA on the ground of litis pendentia and forum shopping. Co maintained that both actions involved the same issue, which is her civil liability for her failure to deliver the remaining cement bags to Lim. The RTC disagreed with Co but the CA agreed with her and dismissed the appeal.

A single act or omission that causes damage to an offended party may give rise to two separate civil liabilities on the part of the offender – (1) civil liability ex delicto, that is, civil liability arising from the criminal offense under Article 100 of the Revised Penal Code, and (2) independent civil liability, that is, civil liability that may be pursued independently of the criminal proceedings. The independent civil liability may be based on “an obligation not arising from the act or omission complained of as a felony,” as provided in Article 31 of the Civil Code (such as for breach of contract or for tort). It may also be based on an act or omission that may constitute felony but, nevertheless, treated independently from the criminal action by specific provision of Article 33 of the Civil Code (“in cases of defamation, fraud and physical injuries”).

The civil liability arising from the offense or ex delicto is based on the acts or omissions that constitute the criminal offense; hence, its trial is inherently intertwined with the criminal action. For this reason, the civil liability ex delicto is impliedly instituted with the criminal offense. If the action for the civil liability ex delicto is instituted prior to or subsequent to the filing of the criminal action, its proceedings are suspended until the final outcome of the criminal action. The civil liability based on delict is extinguished when the court hearing the criminal action declares, “the act or omission from which the civil liability may arise did not exist.”

On the other hand, the independent civil liabilities are separate from the criminal action and may be pursued independently, as provided in Articles 31 and 33 of the Civil Code, which state that:

ART. 31. When the civil action is based on an obligation not arising from the act or omission complained of as a felony, such civil action may proceed independently of the criminal proceedings and regardless of the result of the latter. (Emphasis supplied.)

ART. 33. In cases of defamation, fraud, and physical injuries a civil action for damages, entirely separate and distinct from the criminal action, may be brought by the injured party. Such civil action shall proceed independently of the criminal prosecution, and shall require only a preponderance of evidence.

Because of the distinct and independent nature of the two kinds of civil liabilities, jurisprudence holds that the offended party may pursue the two types of civil liabilities simultaneously or cumulatively, without offending the rules on forum shopping, litis pendentia, or res judicata. As explained in Cancio, Jr. v. Isip:

One of the elements of res judicata is identity of causes of action. In the instant case, it must be stressed that the action filed by petitioner is an independent civil action, which remains separate and distinct from any criminal prosecution based on the same act. Not being deemed instituted in the criminal action based on culpa criminal, a ruling on the culpability of the offender will have no bearing on said independent civil action based on an entirely different cause of action, i.e., culpa contractual.

In the same vein, the filing of the collection case after the dismissal of the estafa cases against [the offender] did not amount to forum-shopping. The essence of forum shopping is the filing of multiple suits involving the same parties for the same cause of action, either simultaneously or successively, to secure a favorable judgment. Although the cases filed by [the offended party] arose from the same act or omission of [the offender], they are, however, based on different causes of action. The criminal cases for estafa are based on culpa criminal while the civil action for collection is anchored on culpa contractual. Moreover, there can be no forum-shopping in the instant case because the law expressly allows the filing of a separate civil action which can proceed independently of the criminal action.

Since civil liabilities arising from felonies and those arising from other sources of obligations are authorized by law to proceed independently of each other, the resolution of the present issue hinges on whether the two cases herein involve different kinds of civil obligations such that they can proceed independently of each other. The answer is in the affirmative.

The first action is clearly a civil action ex delicto, it having been instituted together with the criminal action.

On the other hand, the second action, judging by the allegations contained in the complaint, is a civil action arising from a contractual obligation and for tortious conduct (abuse of rights). In her civil complaint, Lim basically alleges that she entered into a sale contract with Co under the following terms: that she bought 37,200 bags of cement at the rate of P64.00 per bag from Co; that, after full payment, Co delivered to her the withdrawal authorities issued by FRCC corresponding to these bags of cement; that these withdrawal authorities will be honored by FRCC for six months from the dates written thereon. Lim then maintains that the defendants breached their contractual obligations to her under the sale contract and under the withdrawal authorities; that Co and his co- defendants wanted her to pay more for each bag of cement, contrary to their agreement to fix the price at P64.00 per bag and to the wording of the withdrawal authorities; that FRCC did not honor the terms of the withdrawal authorities it issued; and that Co did not comply with his obligation under the sale contract to deliver the 37,200 bags of cement to Lim. From the foregoing allegations, it is evident that Lim seeks to enforce the defendants’ contractual obligations, given that she has already performed her obligations. She prays that the defendants either honor their part of the contract or pay for the damages that their breach has caused her.
Lim also includes allegations that the actions of the defendants were committed in such manner as to cause damage to Lim without regard for morals, good customs and public policy. These allegations, if proven, would constitute tortious conduct (abuse of rights under the Human Relations provisions of the Civil Code).

Thus, Civil Case for specific performance and damages involves the obligations arising from contract and tort, whereas the appeal in the estafa case involves only the civil obligations of Co arising from the offense charged. They present different causes of action, which, under the law, are considered “separate, distinct, and independent from each other. Both cases can proceed to their final adjudication subject to the prohibition on double recovery under Article 2177 of the Civil Code.

3. When separate civil action is suspended

4. Effect of the death of accused or convict on civil action

If the accused dies after arraignment and during the pendency of the criminal action, the civil liability of the accused arising from the crime is extinguished but the independent civil actions mentioned in Sec. 3 of Rule 111 and civil liabilities arising from other sources of obligation may be continued against the estate or legal representative of the accused after proper substitution or agains the estate as the case may be.

People v. Bayotas, G.R. No. 102007, September 2, 1994, 236 SCRA 239 – Upon the death of the accused pending appeal, the criminal action is extinguished inasmuch as there is no longer a defendant to stand as the accused; the civil action instituted therein for recovery of civil liability ex delicto is ipso facto extinguished, grounded as it is on the criminal.

In this case, accused was charged with rape. The SC explained that in pursuing recovery of civil liability from crime, the final determination of the criminal liability is a condition precedent to the prosecution of the civil action, such that when the criminal action is extinguished by the demise of the accused-appellant pending appeal thereof, said civil action cannot survive. The claim for civil liability springs out of and is dependent upon facts which, if true, would constitute a crime. Such civil liability is an inevitable consequence of the criminal liability and is to be declared and enforced in the criminal proceeding. This is to be distinguished from that which is contemplated in Art. 30 of the CC, which refers to the institution of a separate civil action that does not draw its life from a criminal proceeding.

If the private offended party, upon extinction of the civil liability ex delicto desires to recover damages from the same act or omission complained of, he must subject to Sec. 1, Rule 111 file a separate civil action, this time predicated not on the felony previously charged but on other sources of obligation. The source of obligation upon which the separate civil action is premised determines against whom the same shall be enforced.

To summarize the ruling in People v. Bayotas:

1. Death of the accused pending appeal of his conviction extinguishes his criminal liability as well as the civil liability based solely thereon. As opined by Justice Regalado, the death of the accused prior to final judgment terminates his criminal liability and only the civil liability directly arising from and based solely on the offense committed, i.e., civil liability ex delicto in senso strictiore.

2. The claim for civil liability survives notwithstanding the death of the accused if the same may also be predicated on a source of obligation other than delict. Article 1157 of the CC enumerates these other sources of obligation from which the civil liability may arise as a result of the same act or omission: (a) Law; (b) Contracts; (c) Quasi-contracts; (d) Delicts; and, (e) Quasi-delicts.

3. Where the civil liability survives, an action for recovery therefor may be pursued but only by way of filing a separate civil action and subject to Sec. 1, Rule 111. This separate civil action may be enforced either against the administrator/executor or the estate of the accused, depending on the source of obligation upon which the same is based.

4. The private offended party need not fear a forfeiture of his right to file this separate civil action by prescription in cases where during the prosecution of the criminal and prior to its extinction, the private-offended party instituted together therewith the civil action. In such case, the statute of limitation on the civil liability is deemed interrupted during the pendency of the criminal case, conformably with provisions of Art. 1155 of the CC, that should thereby avoid any apprehension on a possible deprivation of right by prescription.

Problem: In case of theft and the accused dies after arraignment and during the pendency of the criminal action, can the complaint file a civil action to recover the stolen property?

Answer: Ownership includes the right to enjoy or possess the thing owned. Based on this legal dictum, complainant can recover the stolen property.

Subsidiary liability of employers under Article 102 and 103 of RPC

Art. 102. Subsidiary civil liability of innkeepers, tavernkeepers and proprietors of establishments. – In default of the persons criminally liable, innkeepers, tavernkeepers, and any other persons or corporations shall be civilly liable for crimes committed in their establishments, in all cases where a violation of municipal ordinances or some general or special police regulation shall have been committed by them or their employees. Innkeepers are also subsidiarily liable for the restitution of goods taken by robbery or theft within their houses from guests lodging therein, or for the payment of the value thereof, provided that such guests shall have been notified in advance the innkeeper himself, or the person representing him, of the deposit of such goods within the inn; and shall furthermore have followed the directions which such innkeeper or his representative may have given them with respect to the care and vigilance over such goods. No liability shall attach in case of robbery with violence against or intimidation of persons unless committed by the innkeeper’s employees.

Art. 103. Subsidiary civil liability of other persons. – The subsidiary liability established in the next preceding article shall also apply to employers, teachers, persons, and corporations engaged in any kind of industry for felonies committed by their servants, pupils, workmen, apprentices, or employees in the discharge of their duties.

Calang v. People, G.R. No. 190696, August 3, 2010, 626 SCRA 679 – The error committed by RTC and CA is they held the employer jointly and severally liable with the accused citing Article 2176 of the Civil Code on vicarious liability. However, the case is a criminal charge against the driver. Undisputedly, Philtranco was not a direct party in this case. Since the cause of action against the driver was based on delict, both the RTC and CA erred in holding Philtranco jointly and severally liable with Calang based on quasi-delict under Articles 2176 and 2180 of the CC. These articles pertain to the vicarious liability of an employer for quasi-delicts that an employee has committed. Such provision of law does not apply to civil liability arising from delict. If at all, Philtranco’s liability may only be subsidiary based on Articles 102 and 103 of the RPC.

The provisions of the RPC on subsidiary liability are deemed written into the judgments in cases to which they are applicable. Thus, in the dispositive portion of its decision, the TC need not expressly pronounce the subsidiary liability of the employer. Nonetheless, before the employers’ subsidiary liability is enforced, adequate evidence must exist establishing that (1) they are indeed the employers of the convicted employees; (2) they are engaged in some kind of industry; (3) the crime was committed by the employees in the discharge of their duties; and (4) the execution against the latter has not been satisfied due to insolvency. The determination of these conditions may be done in the same criminal action in which the employee’s liability, criminal and civil, has been pronounced, in a hearing set for that precise purpose, with due notice to the employer, as part of the proceedings for the execution of the judgment.

Philippine Rabbit Bus v. People, April 14, 2004, 427 SCRA 456 – the employer cannot appeal from judgment of conviction of his employee.

Remedy is to ventilate issue of subsidiary liability in the execution. Adequate evidence must exist to establish that 1) driver is indeed an employee; 2) crime was committed by employee in the discharge of his duties; 3) employer is engaged in some kind of industry; and 4) execution has not been satisfied due to insolvency.

What about a family driver convicted in a RIR to Homicide case, can employer be held subsidiarily liable? No. Article 2180 on vicarious liability holds employers liable for damages caused by their employees acting within the scope of their assigned tasks even though the former are not engaged in any business or industry.

5. Prejudicial Question

In Ty-de Zuzuarregui v. Villarosa, G.R. No. 183788, April 5, 2010, 617 SCRA 377, the civil action involved was for the annulment of a judgment approving a compromise agreement wherein the heirs of Bella Torres namely Rosemary and Krizia agreed to a compromise agreement regarding the settlement of the estate of the decedent. Apparently, other heirs were excluded in the settlement proceedings and subsequent compromise agreement. After filing the case for the annulment of judgment, one of the excluded heirs filed a complaint for falsification and perjury against Rosemary who alleged in the petition for the settlement of the estate the heirs of the decedent without mentioning the other heirs. The prosecutor found probable cause and indicted Rosemary for falsification of public documents. Does the pending civil case constitute a prejudicial question on the falsification case?

SEC. 6. Suspension by reason of prejudicial question. – A petition for suspension of the criminal action based upon the pendency of a prejudicial question in a civil action may be filed in the office of the prosecutor or the court conducting the preliminary investigation. When the criminal action has been filed in court for trial, the petition to suspend shall be filed in the same criminal action at any time before the prosecution rests.

For a prejudicial question in a civil case to suspend a criminal action, it must appear not only that said civil case involves facts intimately related to those upon which the criminal prosecution would be based, but also that in the resolution of the issue or issues raised in the civil case, the guilt or innocence of the accused would necessarily be determined. The rationale behind the principle of prejudicial question is to avoid two (2) conflicting decisions.

Thus, for a civil action to be considered prejudicial to a criminal case as to cause the suspension of the criminal proceedings until the final resolution of the civil case, the following requisites must be present: (1) the civil case involves facts intimately related to those upon which the criminal prosecution would be based; (2) in the resolution of the issue or issues raised in the civil action, the guilt or innocence of the accused would necessarily be determined; and (3) jurisdiction to try said question must be lodged in another tribunal.

If the resolution of the issue in the civil action will not determine the criminal responsibility of the accused in the criminal action based on the same facts, or there is no necessity “that the civil case be determined first before taking up the criminal case,” the civil case does not involve a prejudicial question.

Neither is there a prejudicial question if the civil and the criminal action can, according to law, proceed independently of each other.

As stated, the determination of whether the proceedings may be suspended on the basis of a prejudicial question rests on whether the facts and issues raised in the pleadings in the civil case are so related with the issues raised in the criminal case such that the resolution of the issues in the civil case would also determine the judgment in the criminal case.

A perusal of the allegations in the petition to annul judgment shows that CA-G.R. SP No. 87222 pending before the Court of Appeals is principally for the determination of the validity of the compromise agreement which did not include Peter, Catherine, and Fannie as heirs of Bella. Peter, Catherine, and Fannie presented evidence to prove that they are also biological children of Bella and Alejandro. On the other hand, Criminal Case Nos. 343812 to 343814 before the MeTC involve the determination of whether petitioner committed falsification of public documents in executing pleadings containing untruthful statements that she and Rosemary were the only legal heirs of Bella.

It is evident that the result of the civil case will determine the innocence or guilt of the petitioner in the criminal cases for falsification of public documents. The criminal cases arose out of the claim of Peter, Catherine, and Fannie that they are also the legal heirs of Bella. If it is finally adjudged in the civil case that they are not biological children of the late Bella and consequently not entitled to a share in her estate as heirs, there is no more basis to proceed with the criminal cases against petitioner who could not have committed falsification in her pleadings filed before the RTC of Pasig City, the truth of her statements regarding the filiation of Peter, Catherine and Fannie having been judicially settled.

6. Rule on Filing Fees in civil action deemed instituted with
the criminal action

D. Preliminary Investigation

1. Nature of right

2. Purposes of preliminary investigation

2. Who may conduct determination of existence of
probable cause

Under Sec. 45 of the Revised Securities Act, which is entitled Investigations, Injunctions and Prosecution of Offenses, the SEC has the authority to make such investigations as it deems necessary to determine whether any person has violated or is about to violate any provision of the law. After a finding that a person has violated the Securities Regulation Code (RA 8799), the SEC may refer the case to the DOJ for preliminary investigation and prosecution. The investigation serves the same purpose and entails substantially similar duties as the preliminary investigation conducted by DOJ. But this process cannot be disregarded. In Baviera v. Paglinawan, February 8, 2007, SC said criminal complaint is first filed with the SEC which determines the existence of probable cause before a preliminary investigation can be commenced by the DOJ.

Under BP No. 881 as amended otherwise known as the Omnibus Election Code of the Philippines, Sec. 265 thereof, the COMELEC shall, through its duly authorized legal officers, have the exclusive power to conduct preliminary investigation of all election offenses punishable under the Code, and to prosecute the same. The COMELEC may avail of the assistance of other prosecuting arms of the government: Provided, however, That in the event the COMELEC fails to act on any complaint within four months from his filing, the complainant may file the complaint with the office of the fiscal or with the DOJ for proper investigation and prosecution, if warranted.

In Honasan II v. The Panel of Investigators of the Department of Justice, G.R. No. 159747, April 13, 2004, 427 SCRA 46, the SC held that the Constitution, Section 15 of the Ombudsman Act of 1989 and Section 4 of the Sandiganbayan Law, as amended, do not give to the Ombudsman exclusive jurisdiction to investigate offenses committed by public officers or employees. The authority of the Ombudsman to investigate offenses involving public officers or employees is concurrent with other government investigating agencies such as provincial, city and state prosecutors. However, the Ombudsman, in the exercise of its primary jurisdiction over cases cognizable by the Sandiganbayan, may take over, at any stage, from any investigating agency of the government, the investigation of such cases.

In other words, the DOJ Panel is not precluded from conducting any investigation of cases against public officers involving violations of penal laws but if the cases fall under the exclusive jurisdiction of the Sandiganbayan, then respondent Ombudsman may, in the exercise of its primary jurisdiction take over at any stage.

Perez v. Sandiganbayan (2nd Division), G.R. No. 166062, September 26, 2006, 503 SCRA 252, resolved the issue of whether the Information can be amended by the Office of the Special Prosecutor without the approval of the Office of the Ombudsman. According to the SC the delegation of the power to authorize the filing of information’s under Office Order No. 40-05 was only made to the Deputy Ombudsman, and not to the Special Prosecutor. All that was delegated to the Special Prosecutor was the discretional authority to review and modify the Deputy Ombudsman-authorized Information, but even this is subject to the condition that such modification must be without departing from, or varying in any way, the contents of the basic resolution, order or decision.

The SC further explained that the Office of the Ombudsman can very well make a general delegation of powers to the Special Prosecutor if it so desires but an examination of the office orders issued by the Ombudsman reveal that there had been no such intention to make a general delegation. It further emphasized that the Ombudsman would be severely hampered from exercising his power of control if the court were to allow the Special Prosecutor to authorize the filing of information’s in the first instance.

4. Resolution of investigation prosecutor

5. Review

Under DOJ No. 70 dated July 3, 2000, an appeal may be brought to the Secretary of Justice from resolutions of the Chief State Prosecutor, Regional State Prosecutors and Provincial/City Prosecutors in cases subject of preliminary investigation/reinvestigation. The appeal shall be taken within fifteen (15) days from receipt of the resolution, or of the denial of the motion for reconsideration/reinvestigation if one has been filed within fifteen (15) days from receipt of the assailed resolution.

Unless the Secretary of Justice directs otherwise, the appeal shall not hold the filing of the corresponding Information in court on the basis of the finding of probable cause in the appealed resolution. The appellant and the trial prosecutor shall see to it that pending resolutio of the appeal, the proceedings in court are held in abeyance.

As regards preliminary investigation conducted by the Office of the Ombudsman, only one motion for reconsideration or reinvestigation of an approved order or resolution shall be allowed, the same to be filed within five (5) days from notice thereof with the Office of the Ombudsman, or the proper Deputy Ombudsman as the case may be, with corresponding leave of court in cases where the information has already been filed in court. The filing of a motion for reconsideration/reinvestigation shall not bar the filing of the corresponding information in court on the basis of the finding of probable cause in the resolution subject of the motion. (Sec. 7, Adm. Order No. 7 dated April 10, 1990, Re: Rules of Procedure of the Office of the Ombudsman) Note, Sec. 7 was amended by Adm. Order No. 15 dated February 16, 2001, which reduced the period to file the motion from fifteen (15) days to five (5) days.

Ledesma v. CA, G.R. No. 113216, September 5, 1997, 278 SCRA 656 – When confronted with a motion to withdraw an information on the ground of lack of probable cause based on a resolution of the Secretary of Justice, the bounden duty of the trial court is to make an independent assessment of the merits of the motion. In Ledesma, the SC stressed that its ruling in Crespo v. Mogul did not foreclose the power or authority of the secretary of justice to review resolutions of his subordinates in criminal cases. Where the secretary of justice exercises his power of review only after an information has been filed, trial courts should defer or suspend arraignment and further proceedings until the appeal is resolved. Such deferment or suspension however does not signify that the TC is ipso facto bound by the resolution of the secretary of justice. Although it is more prudent to wait for a final resolution of a motion for review or reinvestigation from the secretary of justice before acting on a motion to dismiss or a motion to withdraw an information, a TC nonetheless should make its own study and evaluation of said motion and not rely merely on the awaited action of the secretary.

What if the TC denies the motion to withdraw the information, can you still expect the public prosecutor to effectively prosecute the case? Crespo offered an answer. The role of the fiscal or prosecutor is to see that justice is done and not necessarily to secure the conviction of the person accused before the courts. Thus, in spite of his opinion to the contrary, it is the duty of the fiscal to proceed with the presentation of evidence of the prosecution to the court to enable the court to arrive at its own independent judgment as to whether the accused should be convicted or acquitted. The fiscal should not shirk from the responsibility of appearing for the People of the Philippines even under such circumstances much less should he abandon the prosecution of the case leaving it to the hands of a private prosecutor for then the entire proceedings will be null and void. The least that the fiscal should do is to continue to appear for the prosecution although he may turn over the prosecution of the evidence to the private prosecutor but still under his direction and control.

Generally, a public prosecutor is afforded a wide latitude of discretion in the conduct of a preliminary investigation. By way of exception, however, judicial review is allowed where respondent has clearly established that the prosecutor committed grave abuse of discretion that is, when he has exercised his discretion “in an arbitrary, capricious, whimsical or despotic manner by reason of passion or personal hostility, patent and gross enough as to amount to an evasion of a positive duty or virtual refusal to perform a duty enjoined by law.

There are situations however when the SC would disagree with the public prosecutor or the DOJ on the issue of probable cause. In Metropolitan Bank and Trust Company v. Reynaldo, G.R. No. 164538, August 9, 2010, the OCP found that the evidence of the complainant was insufficient to hold the respondent liable for estafa. On petition for review, the DOJ agreed that there was no estafa committed. The bank then went to the CA which affirmed the resolution of the DOJ. The SC disagreed holding that novation is not a ground to extinguish criminal liability. It then directed the public prosecutor to file the corresponding Information for estafa against the respondent.

Similarly, in PNB v. Soriano, G.R. No. 164051, October 3, 2012, the SC reversed the decision of the CA. It likewise annulled and set aside the resolution of the DOJ. Instead, it reinstated the resolution of the Investigating Prosecutor finding probable cause for violation of Trust Receipt Law in relation to Art. 315 par. 1 (b) of the RPC. Notably, the SC held that there was no violation of the right of the accused against double jeopardy notwithstanding the grant of the motion to withdraw the informations against the accused who had already been arraigned. According to the SC, the withdrawal of the criminal cases did not include a categorical dismissal thereof by the RTC. Double jeopardy had not set in because Soriano was not acquitted nor was there a valid and legal dismissal or termination of the fifty one (51) cases against her. It stands to reason therefore that the fifth requisite, which requires conviction or acquittal of the accused, or the dismissal of the case without the approval of the accused, was not met.

6. When warrant of arrest may issue

7. Cases not requiring a preliminary investigation

Revised Rule on Summary Procedure

Article III, Sec. 11. How commenced. – The filing of criminal cases falling within the scope of this Rule shall be either by complaint or by information: Provided, however, That in Metropolitan Manila and in Chartered Cities, such cases shall be commenced only by information, except when the offense cannot be prosecuted de oficio.

The complaint or information shall be accompanied by the affidavits of the complainant and of his witnesses in such number of copies as there are accused plus two (2) copies for the court’s files. If this requirement is not complied with within five (5) days from date of filing, the case may be dismissed.

Sec. 12. Duty of court. –

(a) If commenced by complaint. – On the basis of the complaint and the affidavits and other evidence accompanying the same, the court may dismiss the case outright for being patently without basis or merit and order the release of the accused if in custody.

(b) If commenced by information. – When the case is commenced by informaiton, or is not dismissed pursuant to the next preceding paragraph, the court shall issue an order which, together with copies of the affidavit and other evidence submitted by the prosecution, shall require the accused to submit his counter-affidavit and the affidavits of his witnesses as well as any evidence in his behalf, serving copies thereof on the complainant or prosecutor not later than ten (10) days from receipt of said order. The prosecution may file reply affidavits within ten (10) days after receipt of the counter-affidavits of the defense.

Note, the court acquires jurisdiction over the person of the accused upon the service of the order requiring him to submit his counter-affidavit and the affidavits of his witnesses as well as any evidence in his behalf.

DOJ Circular No. 61 (New Rules on Inquest)

Inquest is an informal and summary investigation conducted by a public prosecutor in criminal cases involving persons arrested and detained without the benefit of a warrant of arrest issued by the court for the purpose of determining whether or not said persons should remain under custody and correspondingly be charged in court. (Section 1, Circular No. 61)

The inquest proceedings must be terminated within the period prescribed under the provisions of Article 125 of the RPC, as amended, which is: 12 hours for light offenses; 18 hours for less grave offenses; and 36 hours for grave offenses. (Sec. 3, Circular No. 61)

When the documents presented are not complete to establish probable cause, the Inquest Officer shall direct the law enforcement agency to submit the required evidence within the period prescribed under the provisions of Art. 12 of the RPC as amended; otherwise, the Inquest Officer shall order the release of the detained person and where the inquest is conducted outside of office hours, direct the law enforcement agency concerned to file the case with the City or Provincial Prosecutor for appropriate action. (Sec. 5, Circular No. 61)

The Inquest Officer must first determine if the arrest of the detained person was made in accordance with the provisions of paragraphs (a) and (b) of Sec. 5, Rule 113, which provide that arrests without a warrant may be effected:

(a) When, in his presence, the person to be arrested has committed, is actually committing, or is attempting to commit an offense.

(b) When an offense has just been committed and he has probable cause to believe based on personal knowledge of facts or circumstances that the person to be arrested has committed it.

For this purpose, the Inquest Officer may summarily examine the arresting officers on the circumstances surrounding the arrest or apprehension of the detained person. (Sec. 8, Circular No. 61)

Where the arrest was not properly effected, the Inquest Officer should recommend the release of the person arrested or detained and forward the same together with the record of the case to the City or Provincial Prosecutor for appropriate action. Where the recommendation for the release of the detained person is approved but the evidence on hand warrant the conduct of a regular preliminary investigation, the order of release shall be served on the officer having custody of said detainee and shall direct the said officer to serve upon the detainee the subpoena or notice of preliminary investigation. (Sec. 9, Circular No. 61)

Should the Inquest Officer find that the arrest was properly effected, the detained person should be asked if he desires to avail himself of a preliminary investigation and, if he does, he shall be made to execute a waiver of the provisions of Article 125 of the RPC. The PI may be conducted by the Inquest Officer himself or by any other Assistant Prosecutor to whom the case may be assigned by the City or Provincial Prosecutor, which investigation shall be terminated within fifteen (15) days from its inception. (Sec. 10, Circular No. 61)

8. Remedies of accused if there was no preliminary
investigation

The absence or incompleteness of a preliminary investigation does not warrant the quashal or dismissal of the information. Neither does it affect the court’s jurisdiction over the case or impair the validity of the information or otherwise render it defective. The court shall hold in abeyance the proceedings on such information and order the remand of the case for preliminary investigation or completion thereof. (Matalam v. The Second Division of the Sandiganbayan, G.R. No. 165751, April 12, 2005)

9. Inquest

Riano says “There is no direct filing of an Information or complaint with the Regional Trial Court because its jurisdiction covers offenses which require preliminary investigation.” (See page 57, 2011 Ed.)

Sec. 6, Rule 112: When accused lawfully arrested without warrant. – When a person is lawfully arrested without a warrant involving an offense which requires a preliminary investigation, the complaint or information may be filed by a prosecutor without need of such investigation provided an inquest has been conducted in accordance with existing rules. In the absence or unavailability of an inquest prosecutor, the complaint may be filed by the offended party or by a peace officer directly with the proper court on the basis of the affidavit of the offended party or arresting officer or person.

What then is the procedure for the direct filing of the complaint with the proper court? Note, direct filing of the complaint or information with the MTC or MeTC is provided in Sec. 8 (b) for cases not requiring a preliminary investigation nor covered by the Rule on Summary Procedure. The procedure for the direct filing with the court is not provided for in cases where a Preliminary Investigation is required.

Under Circular No. 61, if Inquest Officer finds that the arrest was not made in accordance with Rules, he shall recommend the release of the arrested or detained but if the evidence warrants the conduct of Preliminary Investigation, the order of release shall direct the service of a notice of Preliminary Investigation upon the detainee.

What if there is no waiver? The police have to release the detainee; otherwise, they may be held liable for arbitrary detention under Article 124 in relation to Article 125 of RPC.

E. Arrest

In John Doe Informations, prosecutors are enjoined to elicit from the witnesses other appropriate descriptions to particularly describe a “John Doe” to distinguish him or set him apart from the others, and to place a new name in the information in lieu of a “John Doe” only when the description of this “John Doe” as appearing in the sworn statement of a witness substantially tallies with the description of the person placed in “John Doe’s” stead. (See DOJ Circular No. 50, October 29, 1990)

Can the court issue a warrant of arrest against a John Doe? In Pangandaman v. Casar, G.R. No. L-71782, April 14, 1988, 159 SCRA 599, warrants of arrest issued to “John Does” are in the nature of a general warrant, one of a class of writs long proscribed as unconstitutional and once anthematized as “totally subversive of the liberty to the subject.” Clearly violative of the constitutional injunction that warrants of arrest should particularly describe the person or persons to be seized, the warrant must, as regards its unidentified subjects, be voided.

1. Arrest, how made

2. Arrest without warrant, when lawful

People v. Racho, G.R. No. 186529, August 3, 2010, 626 SCRA 633 – The accused was about to board a tricycle. He was approached and invited to police station on suspicion of carrying shabu. As he pulled out his hands from his pocket, a white envelope containing shabu slipped. According to the SC, the accused can no longer question arrest but the shabu inadmissible. It noted that the accused never objected to the irregularity of the arrest before his arraignment and raised the issue for the first time before the SC. Considering the lapse of time coupled with his active participation in the trial of the case, accused was deemed to have voluntarily submitted himself to the jurisdiction of the court and waived his right to question the validity of his arrest, thus curing whatever defect may have attended his arrest. The legality of the arrest affects only the jurisdiction of the court over his person.

As regards the admissibility of the seized drug in evidence, the court ascertained whether or not the search which yielded the alleged contraban was lawful. The SC concluded that there was no valid warrantless search because there was no adequate probable cause.

Here, the SC considered the shabu inadmissible in evidence for being the fruit of the poisonous tree. Without the confiscated shabu, the conviction of the accused cannot be sustained and thus he was acquitted despite the waiver of his right to question the illegality of his arrest by entering a plea and his active participation in the trial of the case.

People v. Delos Reyes, G.R. No. 174774, August 31, 2011, 656 SCRA 417 – Search and seizure may be made without a warrant and the evidence obtained therefrom may be admissible in the following instances: (1) search incident to a lawful arrest; (2) search of a moving motor vehicle; (3) search in violation of customs laws; (4) seizure of evidence in plain view; (5) when the accused himself waives his right against unreasonable searches and seizures; and (6) stop and frisk situations.

The first exception (search incidental to a lawful arrest) includes a valid warrantless search and seizure pursuant to an equally valid warrantless arrest which must precede the search. In this instance, the law requires that there be first a lawful arrest before a search can be made – the process cannot be reversed. As a rule, an arrest is considered legitimate if effected with a valid warrant of arrest. The Rules of Court, however, recognizes permissible warrantless arrests. Thus, a peace officer or a private person may, without warrant, arrest a person: (a) when, in his presence, the person to be arrested has committed, is actually committing, or is attempting to commit an offense (arrest in flagrante delicto); (b) when an offense has just been committed and he has probable cause to believe based on personal knowledge of facts or circumstances that the person to be arrested has committed it (arrest effected in hot pursuit); and (c) when the person to be arrested is a prisoner who has escaped from a penal establishment or a place where he is serving final judgment or is temporarily confined while his case is pending, or has escaped while being transferred from one confinement to another (arrest of escaped prisoners).

In People v. Molina (352 SCRA 174), the SC cited several cases involving in flagrante delicto arrests preceding the search and seizure that were held illegal, to wit:

In People v. Chua Ho San, the Court held that in cases of in flagrante delicto arrests, a peace officer or a private person may, without a warrant, arrest a person when, in his presence, the person to be arrested has committed, is actually committing, or is attempting to commit an offense. The arresting officer, therefore, must have personal knowledge of such fact or, as recent case law adverts to, personal knowledge of facts or circumstances convincingly indicative or constitutive of probable cause. As discussed in People v. Doria, probable cause means an actual belief or reasonable grounds of suspicion. The grounds of suspicion are reasonable when, in the absence of actual belief of the arresting officers, the suspicion that the person to be arrested is probably guilty of committing the offense, is based on actual facts, i.e., supported by circumstances sufficiently strong in themselves to create the probable cause of guilt of the person to be arrested. A reasonable suspicion therefore must be founded on probable cause, coupled with good faith on the part of the peace officers making the arrest.

As applied to in flagrante delicto arrests, it is settled that “reliable information” alone, absent any overt act indicative of a felonious enterprise in the presence and within the view of the arresting officers, are not sufficient to constitute probable cause that would justify an in flagrante delicto arrest. Thus, in People v. Aminnudin, it was held that “the accused-appellant was not, at the moment of his arrest, committing a crime nor was it shown that he was about to do so or that he had just done so. What he was doing was descending the gangplank of the M/V Wilcon 9 and there was no outward indication that called for his arrest. To all appearances, he was like any of the other passengers innocently disembarking from the vessel. It was only when the informer pointed to him as the carrier of the marijuana that he suddenly became suspect and so subject to apprehension.”

Likewise, in People v. Mengote, the Court did not consider “eyes . . . darting from side to side . . . [while] holding . . . [one’s] abdomen,” in a crowded street at 11:30 in the morning, as overt acts and circumstances sufficient to arouse suspicion and indicative of probable cause. According to the Court, “[b]y no stretch of the imagination could it have been inferred from these acts that an offense had just been committed, or was actually being committed, or was at least being attempted in [the arresting officers’] presence.” So also, in People v. Encinada, the Court ruled that no probable cause is gleanable from the act of riding a motorela while holding two plastic baby chairs.

Then, too, in Malacat v. Court of Appeals, the trial court concluded that petitioner was attempting to commit a crime as he was “‘standing at the corner of Plaza Miranda and Quezon Boulevard’ with his eyes ‘moving very fast’ and ‘looking at every person that come (sic) nearer (sic) to them.”‘ In declaring the warrantless arrest therein illegal, the Court said:

Here, there could have been no valid in flagrante delicto … arrest preceding the search in light of the lack of personal knowledge on the part of Yu, the arresting officer, or an overt physical act, on the part of petitioner, indicating that a crime had just been committed, was being committed or was going to be committed.

It went on to state that –

Second, there was nothing in petitioner’s behavior or conduct which could have reasonably elicited even mere suspicion other than that his eyes were “moving very fast” – an observation which leaves us incredulous since Yu and his teammates were nowhere near petitioner and it was already 6:30 p.m., thus presumably dusk. Petitioner and his companions were merely standing at the corner and were not creating any commotion or trouble . . .

Third, there was at all no ground, probable or otherwise, to believe that petitioner was armed with a deadly weapon. None was visible to Yu, for as he admitted, the alleged grenade was “discovered” “inside the front waistline” of petitioner, and from all indications as to the distance between Yu and petitioner, any telltale bulge, assuming that petitioner was indeed hiding a grenade, could not have been visible to Yu.

Clearly, to constitute a valid in flagrante delicto arrest, two requisites must concur: (1) the person to be arrested must execute an overt act indicating that he has just committed, is actually committing, or is attempting to commit a crime; and (2) such overt act is done in the presence or within the view of the arresting officer.

Without valid justification for the in flagrante delicto arrests of accused-appellants, the search of accused-appellants’ persons incidental to said arrests, and the eventual seizure of the shabu from accused-appellants’ possession, are also considered unlawful and thus, the seized shabu is excluded in evidence as fruit of a poisonous tree. Without the corpus delicti for the crime charged, then the acquittal of accused-appellant is inevitable.

Miclat Jr. v. People, G.R. No. 176077, August 31, 2011, 656 SCRA 539 – For the exception in Section 5 (a), Rule 113 to operate, this Court has ruled that two (2) elements must be present: (1) the person to be arrested must execute an overt act indicating that he has just committed, is actually committing, or is attempting to commit a crime; and (2) such overt act is done in the presence or within the view of the arresting officer.

3. Method of arrest

a. by officer with warrant

b. by officer without warrant

In Luz v. People, G.R. No. 197788, February 29, 2012, 667 SCRA 421, the accused was stopped for violation of a city ordinance, which requires all motorcycle drivers to wear a helmet while driving. Since the place where the accused was flagged down was near the sub-station, the accused was asked to go inside the station where the police started to prepare the citation ticket. The policeman then noticed that the accused was uneasy which prompted him to ask the accused to take out the contents of his pocket. The accused did so and in the process took out from his pocket a nickel-like tin or metal container, which when opened contained sachets of shabu. The accused was then charged and convicted of illegal possession of dangerous drugs.

According to the SC, there was no valid arrest of the accused. When he was flagged down for committing a traffic violation, he was not, ipso facto and solely for this reason, arrested. Under RA 4136 (Land Transportation and Traffic Code), the general procedure for dealing with a traffic violation is not the arrest of the offender but the confiscation of the driver’s license of the latter. There was no intention on the part of the police to arrest the accused. In fact, he was invited inside the sub-station for the purpose of issuing the citation ticket.

It also appears that according to the City ordinance, the failure to wear a crash helmet while riding a motorcycle is penalized by a fine only. Under the Rules of Court, a warrant of arrest need not be issued if the Informaiton or charge was filed for an offense penalized by a fine only. It may be stated as a corollary that neither can a warrantless arrest be made for such an offense

This does not mean that there can be no arrest for a traffic violation. When there is an intent on the part of the police to deprive the motorist of liberty, or to take the latter into custody, the former may be deemed to have arrested the motorist. Even if one were to work under the assumption that accused was deemed arrested upon being flagged down for a traffic violation and while awaiting the issuance of his ticket, then the requirements for a valid arrest were not complied with. At the time a person is arrested, it shall be duty of the arresting officer to inform the latter of the reason for the arrest and must show that person the warrant of arrest, if any. Persons shall be informed of their constitutional rights to remain silent and to counsel, and that any statement they might make could be used against them.

There being no valid arrest, the warrantless search that resulted from it was likewise illegal. In Knowles v. Iowa, the US SC held that when a police officer stops a person for speeding and correspondingly issues a citiation ticket instead of arresting the latter, this procedure does not authorize the officer to conduct a full search of the car. The Court therein helt that there was no justification for a full-blown search when the officer does not arrest the motorist. Instead, police officers my only conduct minimal intrusions, such as ordering the motorist to alight from the car or doing a patdown

c. by private person

Art. 125, RPC – Delay in the delivery of detained persons to the proper judicial authorities. 12 hours for offenses punishable by light penalties; 18 hours for offenses punishable by correccional penalties; and 36 hours for offenses punishable by afflictive or capital penalties.

4. Requisites of a valid warrant of arrest

5. Determination of Probable Cause for issuance of warrant
of arrest

In Leviste v. Alameda, G.R. No. 182677, August 3, 2010, 626 SCRA 575, the SC described as a mere superfluity the filing of a Motion for the Judicial Determination of Probable Cause since with or without the motion the court is duty bound to personally evaluate the resolution of the public prosecutor and the supporting evidence.

The rules do not require cases to be set for hearing to determine probable cause for the issuance of a warrant of arrest of the accused before any warrant may be issued. (Ramiscal, Jr. v. Sandiganbayan, G.R. Nos. 169727-28, August 18, 2006, 499 SCRA 375, 398) Petitioner thus cannot, as a matter of right, insist on a hearing for judicial determination of probable cause. Certainly, petitioner “cannot determine beforehand how cursory or exhaustive the [judge’s] examination of the records should be [since t]he extent of the judge’s examination depends on the exercise of his sound discretion as the circumstances of the case require.” (Vide Mayor Abdula v. Hon. Guiani, 382 Phil. 757, 776 (2000) In the case of Mayor Abdula, the SC emphatically stated:

The periods provided in the Revised Rules of Criminal Procedure are mandatory, and as such, the judge must determine the presence or absence of probable cause within such periods. The Sandiganbayan’s determination of probable cause is made ex parte and is summary in nature, not adversarial. The Judge should not be stymied and distracted from his determination of probable cause by needless motions for determination of probable cause filed by the accused. (emphasis and underscoring supplied)

6. Distinguish probable cause of fiscal from that of a judge

F. Bail

Sec. 13, Art. III, 1987 Constitution: All persons, except those charged with offenses violation punishable by reclusion perpetua when evidence of guilt is strong, shall, before conviction, be bailable by sufficient sureties, or be released on recognizance as may be provided by law. The right to bail shall not be impaired even when the privilege of the writ of habeas corpus is suspended. Excessive baill shall not be required.

Sec. 14 (2), Art. III, 1987 Constitution: In all criminal prosecutions, the accused shall be presumed innocent until the contrary is proved…

Sec. 7, Rule 114: No person charged with a capital offense, or an offense punishable by reclusion perpetua or life imprisonment, shall be admitted to bail when evidence of guilt is strong, regardless of the stage of the criminal proceedings.

The foregoing notwithstanding, the accused charged with a capital offense is denied bail outright. He has to apply for bail, at the hearing of which, the prosecution has the burden of showing that evidence of guilt is strong. (Sec. 8, Rule 114) In other words, while the prosecution is proving that the evidence of guilt is strong, the accused is denied bail.

1. Nature

In Miranda v. Tuliao, G.R. No. 158763, March 31, 2006, 486 SCRA 377, the SC made this statement: However, if a person invoking the special jurisdiction of the court applies for bail, he must first submit himself to the custody of the law. In Santiago v. Vasquez, Miriam Defensor-Santiago filed an Urgent Ex-parte Motion for Acceptance of Cash Bail Bond wherein she prayed that the bail bond she is posting be duly accepted. She further prayed that by her motion, she be considered as having placed herself under the custody of the Sandiganbayan and dispensing of her personal appearance for now until such time she would have recovered from her recent near fatal accident. The Sandiganbayan granted this. Thereafter, she disputed that the Sandiganbayan never acquired jurisdiction over her person considering that she has neither been arrested nor has she voluntarily surrendered. The SC rejected this argument. The voluntary appearance of the accused whereby the court acquires jurisdiction over his person is accomplished either by his pleading to the merits (such as by filing a motion to quash or other pleadings requiring the exercise of the court’s jurisdiction thereover, appearing for arraignment, entering trial) or by filing bail. On the matter of bail, since the same is intended to obtain the provisional liberty of the accused, as a rule the same cannot be posted before custody of the accused has been acquired by the judicial authorities either by his arrest or voluntary surrender.

People v. Judge Maceda, G.R. No. 89591-96, August 13, 1990, 188 SCRA 532 – In this case, Atty. Avelino T. Javellana was charged together with other accused with the crime of murder, frustrated murder and attempted murder in connection with the death of Evelio Javier. The lawyer initially appeared as counsel for the respondents in the prelliminary investigation. He remained at large until he was arrested. Thereafter, the IBP local chapter entered its appearance as counsel for the lawyer and moved that it be allowed to assume custody of the accused as his jailor and/or confine him at the Military Stockage. The TC granted the motion and allowed the lawyer to be confined at the Military Stockade. Thereafter, the accused lawyer was placed in the custody of the Provincial Probation Officer, then to his lawyers, and then to the Clerk of Court. These orders were later questioned by the prosecutor before the Supreme Court accusing the TC of grave abuse of discretion.

According to the SC, trial court sufficiently explained the need to allow accused not to be confined in jail and instead placed in the custody of IBP lawyers and later of the Clerk of Court.

The prosecutor asked for the reconsideration of the August 13, 1990 Decision. According to it, the lawyer went about his normal activities as if he were a free man including engaging in the practice of law. The SC then in its Resolution dated January 24, 2000 (323 SCRA 45) set aside the original order of the TC dated August 8, 1989, which allowed the detention of the accused lawyer in the Military Stockade. According to it, the perceived threats on his life no longer exist. As a matter of law, when a person indicted for an offense is arrested, he is deemed placed under the custody of the law. He is placed in actual restraint of liberty in jail so that he may be bound to answer for the commission of the offense. He must be detained in jail during the pendency of the case against him unless he is authorized by the court to be released on bail or on recognizance. All prisoners whether under preventive detention or serving final sentence cannot practice their profession nor engage in any business or occupation, or hold office, elective or appointive, while in detention. This is a necessary consequence of arrest and detention.

The case of Atty. Javellana shows that one may be under the custody of law but necessarily placed behind bars. He was first placed under the custody of the military. Subsequently, he was placed in the custody of the Provincial Probation Officer, then to his lawyers, and then to the Clerk of Court.

In People v. Jalosjos, G.R. No. 132875-76, February 3, 2000, 324 SCRA 689, the accused filed a motion that he be allowed to fully discharge the duties of a congressman including attendance at legislative sessions and committee meetings despite his having been convicted in the first instance of a non-bailable offense. This led Justice Ynares-Santiago to say, “Never has the call of a particular duty lifted a prisoner into a different classification from those others who are validly restrained by law.”

Can you post a bond even if the Court has not issued a warrant of arrest? In Redondo v. Judge Dimaano, A.M. No. 1150-MJ, June 30, 1976, 71 SCRA 543, Justice Barredo in his concurring opinion said,

Under this resolution, the Court is making it clear that even if a person charged before a judge with the commission of an offense should offer to put up a bail bond in order that a warrant may no longer be issued for his arrest, the judge is not supposed to assume that there is probable cause against such person just because of his offer of bail and thereby dispense with the duty of conducting the proper preliminary examination in the manner prescribed by the Constitution and the rules. The offer of a bail bond should not be deemed as an admission of probable cause, for in many instances, it is done only to avoid the inconvenience and embarrassment of being picked up by the police. In other words, a judge should not accept any offer of a bail bond as a matter of course, as if the person charged were waiving the preliminary examination. No person should be made to go thru any trouble or expense in a criminal proceeding, such as hiring a lawyer, putting up bail, etc. as long as the existence of probable cause against him has not been determined in accordance with law.

2. When a matter of right; exceptions

3. When a matter of discretion

Pareja v. Gomez, G.R. No. L-18733, July 31, 1962, 5 SCRA 830 – Justice Concepcion said, “In any event, the facts and circumstances obtaining in this case are such that reasonable men may honestly disagree on the question whether accused should be released or not on bail. As a consequence, it cannot be said that the judge had abused his discretion, much less gravely, in issuing the order complained of.” The SC effectively recognized the wide latitude of discretion exercised by the TC in bail hearings and only upon clear showing of grave of abuse of discretion will the SC interfere in the TC’s disposition of the application for bail.

In contrast, we have the case of People v. Cabral, G.R. No. 131909, February 18, 1999, 303 SCRA 361, where the SC found the TC to have gravely abused its discretion in granting bail in a rape case. Justice Vitug in his dissent said, “What I find to be difficult is whether this Court would be correct in substituting its judgment over that of the trial court at this stage of the proceedings.”

In Santos v. How, A.M. No. RTJ-05-1946, January 26, 2007, 513 SCRA 25, Judge How was reprimanded for depriving the accused their right to present rebuttal evidence in a bail hearing. Fair play dictates that Judge How should have inquired first of the nature of the evidence proposed to be presented, determine whether or not it will be essential for the purpose of ascertaining entitlement to bail, before discarding any evidence outright. This is in keeping with procedural due process, given established rules and jurisprudence on bail. Justice Austria-Martinez then quoted Lord Mansfield on the exercise of discretion: “But discretion when applied to a court of justice means sound discretion guided by law. It must be governed by rule, not by humour; it must not be arbitrary, vague; but legal and regular.”

In Leviste v. Court of Appeals, G.R. No. 189122, March 17, 2010, 615 SCRA 619, Justice Peralta in his dissenting opinion posed the following questions:

By denying the application for bail pending appeal of an accused who was charged with the crime of Murder but was convicted of the crime of Homicide, is this Court, in effect, saying that the evidence of guilt for the crime of Murder is strong despite the lower court’s finding of proof beyond reasonable doubt of the crime of Homicide, a bailable offense?

By denying the application for bail pending appeal on the ground that the evidence of guilt for the crime of Murder is strong, is this court, in a way, unknowingly preempting the judgment of the Court of Appeals as to the main case?

In the event that the Court of Appeals sustains the conviction of the accused of the crime of Homicide, a bailable offense and the accused decides to file a Petition for Certiorari before this Court, will the denial of the application for bail of the accused still be effective?

Justice Peralta was of the view that applying the provisions of Section 5, Rule 114 of the 2000 Revised Rules of Criminal Procedure and after a careful perusal of the records and a learned consideration of the arguments of the parties, there is no reason to deny petitioner his application for bail pending appeal. Leviste was indisputably not a recidivist, quasi-recidivist, or habitual delinquent, or has he committed the crime aggravated by the circumstance of reiteration. He has also not previously escaped from legal confinement, evaded sentence, or violated the conditions of his bail without a valid justification. He did not commit the offense charged while under probation, parole, or conditional pardon. Lastly, as shown by his previous records and pointed out by petitioner, considering his conduct while out on bail during the trial of his case, his advanced age, and his current health condition, the probability of flight is nil and there is no risk that he may commit another crime during the pendency of the appeal. Note, Leviste no longer pursued the appeal from the judgment of his conviction with the Court of Appeals.

The SC made a similar ruling in Qui v. People, G.R. No. 196161, September 26, 2012, where the it held as follows:

The CA properly exercised its discretion in denying petitioner’s application for bail pending appeal. The CA’s determination as to petitioner being a high risk for flight is not without factual mooring. Indeed, the undisputed fact that petitioner did not attend the hearings before the RTC, which compelled the trial court to issue warrants for her arrest, is undeniably indicative of petitioner’s propensity to trifle with court processes. This fact alone should weigh heavily against a grant of bail pending appeal.

Petitioner’s penchant to disobey court processes may also be deduced from the fact that she lied in order to wiggle out of, and justify her non-appearance on the March 8, 2010 hearing before the RTC. Petitioner gave the convenient but false excuse that her father, Cirilo Calpito, was hospitalized on said hearing day (i.e., March 8, 2010) and that Cirilo died on March 24, 2010. The lies foisted on the court were exposed by: (1) the Death Certificate of Cirilo Calpito clearly showing that he died on March 24, 2009 or a year before the aforesaid March 2010 RTC hearing; and (2) the Certification issued by Dr. Aniana Javier stating that Cirilo went to her clinic on March 9, 2009.

Lest it be overlooked, the RTC notice sent to petitioner’s bonding company was returned with the notation “moved out,” while the notice sent to petitioner’s given address was returned unclaimed with the notation “RTS no such person according to Hesita Family” who were the actual occupants in petitioner’s given address. The fact of transferring residences without informing her bondsman and the trial court can only be viewed as petitioner’s inclination to evade court appearance, as indicative of flight, and an attempt to place herself beyond the pale of the law.

Petitioner’s argument that she has the constitutional right to bail and that the evidence of guilt against her is not strong is spurious. Certainly, after one is convicted by the trial court, the presumption of innocence, and with it, the constitutional right to bail, ends.7 As to the strength of evidence of guilt against her, suffice it to say that what is before the Court is not the appeal of her conviction, let alone the matter of evaluating the weight of the evidence adduced against her.

Consequently, the Court agrees with the appellate court’s finding of the presence of the fourth circumstance enumerated in the above-quoted Sec. 5 of Rule 114, Revised Rules of Criminal Procedure, and holds that the appellate court neither erred nor gravely abused its discretion in denying petitioner’s application for bail pending appeal. The appellate court appeared to have been guided by the circumstances provided under the Rules. As the Court categorically held in People v. Fitzgerald, “[A]s for an accused already convicted and sentenced to an imprisonment term exceeding six years, bail may be denied or revoked based on prosecution evidence as to the existence of any of the circumstances under Sec. 5, paragraphs (a) to (e) xxx.” Evidently, the circumstances succinctly provided in Sec. 5 of Rule 114, Revised Rules of Criminal Procedure have been placed as a guide for the exercise of the appellate court’s discretion in granting or denying the application for bail, pending the appeal of an accused who has been convicted of a crime where the penalty imposed by the trial court is imprisonment exceeding six (6) years.

Can you post bail even if you have not been charged in court? In Ruiz v. Beldia, A.M. No. RTJ-02-1731, February 16, 2005, 451 SCRA 402, the SC said “Concededly, a person lawfully arrested and detained but who has not yet been charged in court can seek his provisional release through the filing of an application for bail. He need not wait for a formal complaint or information to be filed since bail is available to “all persons” where the offense is bailable.”

Note, under Sec. 17 (c) of Rule 114, “Any person in custody who is not yet charged in court may apply for bail with any court in the province, city or municipality where he is held.”

4. Hearing of application for bail in capital offenses

The arraignment of an accused is not a prerequisite to the conduct of hearings on his petition for bail. A person is allowed to petition for bail as soon as he is deprived of his liberty by virtue of his arrest or voluntary surrender. An accused need not wait for his arraignment before filing a petition for bail. (Serapio v. Sandiganbayan, G.R. No. 148468, January 28, 2003, 396 SCRA 443)

5. Guidelines in fixing amount of bail

Cenzon v. Judge Abad Santos, G.R. No. 164337, June 27, 2006, 493 SCRA 378 is a case involving Estafa. According to the SC, as used in PD 818, the use of the term reclusion perpetua is merely to describe the penalty imposed but not the prescribed penalty for the offense because the amount of the fraud involved exceeded P22,000.00, as in fact in ran by the millions of pesos.

Note that the 2000 Bailbond Guide was amended by DOJ Circular No. 74 dated November 6, 2001, in view of the decision of the SC in People v. Hernando, 317 SCRA 621 (1999). Accordingly, in Estafa under Art. 315, 2 (d), as amended by PD 818 and Qualified Theft, bail shall be recommended as follows:

A. For Estafa
1) Where the amount of fraud involved does not exceed P22,000, bail shall be computed based on the applicable provisions of the 2000 Bail Bond Guide.
2) Where the amount of fraud involved is more than P22,000 but less than P32,000 bail shall be based on the maximum period of the imposable penalty of reclusion temporal multiplied by P2000.
3) Where the amount of fraud is P32,000 or over in which the imposable penalty is reclusion temporal to reclusion perpetua, bail shall be based on reclusion temporal maximum, pursuant to Par. 2 (a) of the 2000 Bail Bond Guide, multiplied by P2,000 plus an additional P2,000 for every P10,000 in excess of P22,000; Provided, however that the total amount of bail shall not exceed P60,000.

B. For Qualified Theft
1) Where the value of the property stolen does not exceed P22,000, bail shall be based on the maximum period of the imposable penalty after applying the two degree rule under Art. 310, RPC, and to be multiplied by P2000.
2) Where the value of the property stolen is more than P22,000 but less than P32,000, bail shall be based on the maximum period of reclusion temporal medium and maximum, multiplied by P2000.
3) Where the value of the property stolen is P32,000 or over, in which the imposable penalty ranges from reclusion temporal to reclusion perpetua, bail shall be based on reclusion temporal in its maximum period, pursuant to Par. 2 (a) of the 2000 Bail Bond Guide, multiplied by P2,000 plus an additional P2,000 for every P10,000 in excess of P22,000; Provided, however that the total amount of bail shall not exceed P80,000.

6. Bail when not required

7. Increase or Reduction of Bail

8. Forfeiture and Cancellation of bail

9. Application not a bar to objections in illegal arrest, lack
of or irregular preliminary investigation

10. Hold Departure Order & Bureau of Immigration
Watchlist

DOJ Circular No. 41, Consolidated Rules governing the issuances and implementing HDOs, Watchlist Orders and Allow Departure Orders

Section 1. Hold Departure Order. – The Secretary of Justice may issue an HDO, under any of the following instances:

(a) Against the accused, irrespective of nationality, in criminal cases falling within the jurisdiction of courts below the Regional Trial Courts (RTCs).

If the case against the accused is pending trial, the application under oath of an interested party must be supported by (a) a certified true copy of the complaint or information and (b) a Certification from the Clerk of Court concerned that criminal case is still pending.

(b) Against the alien whose presence is required either as a defendant, respondent, or witness in a civil or labor case pending litigation, or any case before an administrative agency of the government.

The application under oath of an interested party must be supported by (a) a certified true copy of the subpoena or summons issued against the alien and (b) a certified true copy complaint in civil, labor or administrative case where the presence of the alien is required.

(c) The Secretary of Justice may likewise issue an HDO against any person, either motu proprio, or upon the request by the Head of a Department of the Government; the head of a constitutional body or commission; the Chief Justice of the Supreme Court for the Judiciary; the Senate President or the House Speaker for the Legislature, when the adverse party is the Government or any of its agencies or instrumentalities, or in the interest of national security, public safety or public health.

Section 2. Watchlist Order. – The Secretary of Justice may issue a WLO, under any of the following instances:

(a) Against the accused, irrespective of nationality, in criminal cases pending trial before the Regional Trial Court.

The application under oath of an interested party must be supported by (a) certified true copy of an Information filed with the court, (b) a certified true copy of the Prosecutor’s Resolution; and (c) a Certification from the Clerk of Court concerned that criminal case is still pending.

(b) Against the respondent, irrespective of nationality, in criminal cases pending preliminary investigation, petition for review, or motion for reconsideration before the Department of Justice or any of its provincial or city prosecution offices.

The application under oath of an interested party must be supported by (a) certified true copy of the complaint filed, and (b) a Certification from the appropriate prosecution office concerned that the case is pending preliminary investigation, petition for review, or motion for reconsideration, as the case may be.

(c) The Secretary of Justice may likewise issue a WLO against any person, either motu proprio, or upon the request of any government agency, including commissions, task forces or similar entities created by the Office of the President, pursuant to the “Anti-Trafficking in Persons Act of 2003” (R.A. No. 9208) and/or in connection with any investigation being conducted by it, or in the interest of national security, public safety or public health.
xxx

Section 4. HDO/WLO Validity. – The validity period of any HDO/WLO issued pursuant to this Circular shall be reckoned from the date of its issuance. The HDO shall valid for five (5) years unless sooner terminated. On the other hand, the WLO shall be valid for sixty (60) days unless sooner terminated or extended, for a non-extendible period of not more than sixty (60) days.

Section 5. HDO/WLO Lifting or Cancellation. – In the lifting or cancellation of the HDO/WLO issued pursuant to this Circular, the following rules shall apply:

(a) The HDO may be lifted or cancelled under any of the following grounds:
1. When the validity period of the HDO as provided for in the preceding section has already expired;
2. When the accused subject of the HDO has been allowed to leave the country during the pendency of the case, or has been acquitted of the charge, or the case in which the warrant/order of arrest was issued has been dismissed or the warrant/order of arrest has been recalled;
3. When the civil or labor case or case before an administrative agency of the government wherein the presence of the alien subject of the HDO/WLO has been dismissed by the court or by appropriate government agency, or the alien has been discharged as a witness therein, or the alien has been allowed to leave the country;

(b) The WLO may be lifted or cancelled under any of the following grounds:
1. When the validity period of the WLO as provided for in the preceding section has already expired;
2. When the accused subject of the WLO has been allowed by the court to leave the country during the pendency of the case, or has been acquitted of the charge; and
3. When the preliminary investigation is terminated, or when the petition for review, or motion for reconsideration has been denied and/or dismissed.

xxx
(d) Any HDO/WLO issued by the Secretary of Justice either motu proprio or upon request of government functionaries/offices mentioned in Sections 1 and 2, when the adverse party is the Government or any of its agencies or instrumentalities, or in the interest of national security, public safety or public health, may be lifted or recalled anytime if the application is favorably indorsed by the government functionaries/offices who requested the issuance of the aforesaid HDO/WLO.

SC Circular No. 39-97 dated June 19, 1997

In order to avoid the indiscriminate issuance of Hold-Departure Orders resulting in inconvenience to the parties affected, the same being tantamount to an infringement on the right and liberty of an individual to travel and to ensure that the Hold-Departure Orders which are issued contain complete and accurate information, the following guidelines are hereby promulgated:

1. Hold-Departure Orders shall be issued only in criminal cases within the exclusive jurisdiction of the Regional Trial Courts;

2. The Regional Trial Courts issuing the Hold-Departure Order shall furnish the Department of Foreign Affairs [DFA] and the Bureau of Immigration [BI] of the Department of Justice with a copy each of the Hold-Departure Order issued within twenty-four (24) hours from the time of issuance and through the fastest available means of transmittal;

3. The Hold-Departure Order shall contain the following information:

a. The complete name (including the middle name), the date and place of birth and the place of last residence of the person against whom a Hold-Departure Order has been issued or whose departure from the country has been enjoined;
b. The complete title and the docket number of the case in which the Hold-Departure Order was issued;
c. The specific nature of the case; and
d. The date of the Hold-Departure Order.
If available, a recent photograph of the person against whom a Hold-Departure Order has been issued or whose departure from the country has been enjoined should also be included.

4. Whenever [a] the accused has been acquitted; or [b] the case has been dismissed, the judgment of acquittal or the order of dismissal shall include therein the cancellation of the Hold-Departure Order issued. The Court concerned shall furnish the Department of Foreign Affairs and the Bureau of Immigration with a copy each of the judgment of acquittal promulgated or the order of dismissal issued within twenty-four [24] hours from the time of promulgation/issuance and likewise through the fastest available means of transmittal.

All Regional Trial Courts which have furnished the Department of Foreign Affairs with their respective lists of active Hold-Departure Orders included in the said lists and inform the government agencies concerned of the status of the Orders involved.

G. Rights of the Accused

1. Rights of accused at the trial

Presumption of innocence: In Re: Conviction of Judge Adoracion G. Angeles, A.M. No. 06-9-545-RTC, January 31, 2008, 543 SCRA 196, the SC held: By parity of reasoning, the fact of respondent’s conviction by the RTC does not necessarily warrant her suspension. We agree with respondent’s argument that since her conviction of the crime of child abuse is currently on appeal before the CA, the same has not yet attained finality. As such, she still enjoys the constitutional presumption of innocence. It must be remembered that the existence of a presumption indicating the guilt of the accused does not in itself destroy the constitutional presumption of innocence unless the inculpating presumption, together with all the evidence, or the lack of any evidence or explanation, proves the accused’s guilt beyond a reasonable doubt. Until the accused’s guilt is shown in this manner, the presumption of innocence continues. In Mangubat v. Sandiganbayan, G.R. Nos. L-60613-20, August 29, 1986, 143 SCRA 681, the Court held that respondent Sandiganbayan did not act with grave abuse of discretion, correctible by certiorari, when it ruled that despite her convictions, “Preagido has still in her favor the constitutional presumption of innocence x x x (and until) a promulgation of final conviction is made, this constitutional mandate prevails.” The Court therein further held that such ruling is not bereft of legal or logical foundation and cannot, in any sense, be characterized as a whimsical or capricious exercise of judgment. So also must we hold in this case.

In Leviste v. Court of Appeals, G.R. No. 189122, March 17, 2010, 615 SCRA 619, CJ Corona said, “After conviction by the trial court, the presumption of innocence terminates and, accordingly, the constitutional right to bail ends” citing Obosa v. Court of Appeals (G.R. No. 114350, 16 January 1997, 266 SCRA 281) and Yap v. Court of Appeals (411 Phil. 190, 202 (2001), and also Bernas, Joaquin, The 1987 Constitution of the Republic of the Philippines: A Commentary, p. 492 (2009).

VYE’s comment: I maintain the view that the accused has the constitutional right to be presumed innocent until final conviction.

Right against self-incrimination: In Rosete v. Lim, G.R. No. 136051, June 8, 2006, 490 SCRA 125, the SC explained that an accused in a criminal case can refuse to take the witness stand. In Sec. 1 (e) of Rule 115, the right to be exempt from being compelled to be a witness against himself signifies that he cannot be compelled to testify or produce evidence in the criminal case in which he is the accused or one of the accused. He vcannot be compelled to do so even by subpoena or other process or order of the court. He cannot be required to be a witness either for the prosecution, or for a co-accused, or even for himself. In other words, the accused in a criminal action can refuse to testify altogether. He can refuse to take the witness stand, be sworn, and answer any question….

As explained in People v. Ayson, G.R. No 85215, July 7, 1989, 175 SCRA 217, but if the accused offers himself as a witness, he may be cross-examined as any other witness. He may be cross-examined as to any matters stated in his direct-examination, or connected therewith. He may not on cross-examination refuse to answer any question on the ground that the answer that he will give, or the evidence he will produce, would have a tendency to incriminate him for the crime with which he is charged.

However, if the accused in a criminal action be asked a question which might incriminate him, not for the crime with which he is charged, but for some other crime, distinct from that of which he is accused, he may decline to answer that specific question, on the strength of the right against self-incrimination granted by the the first sentence of Sec. 20, Art. IV of the 1973 Constitution (now Sec. 17 of the 1987 Constitution).

Right to speedy trial: In Cabarles v. Maceda, G.R. No. 161330, February 20, 2007, 516 SCRA 303, the SC reiterated that the concept of speedy disposition of criminal cases is relative or flexible. A mere mathematical reckoning of the time involved is not sufficient. Particular regard must be taken of the facts and circumstances peculiar to each case. The right to a speedy disposition of a case, like the right to speedy trial, is deemed violated only when the proceeding is attended by vexatious, capricious, and oppressive delays, or when unjustified postponements of the trial are asked and secured, or when without cause or justifiable motive, a long period of time is allowed to elapse without the party having his case tried.

In Esmeña v. Pogoy, G.R. No. L-54110, February 20, 1981, 102 SCRA 861, the case was provisionally dismissed after the prosecution failed to prove its case. The accused invoked its right to speedy trial. The SC held that accused were placed in jeopardy by the provisional dismissal of the grave coercion case. In this case, the accused were insisting on a trial. They relied on their constitutional right to have a speedy trial. The fiscal was not ready because his witness was not in court.

Even if the accused after invoking their right to a speedy trial moved for the dismissal of the case and therefore, consented to it, the dismissal would still place them in jeopardy. The use of the word “provisional” would not change the legal effect of the dismissal. (Esguerra v. Dela Costa, 66 Phil. 134; Gandicela v. Lutero, 88 Phil. 299)

If the defendant wants to exercise his constitutional right to a speedy trial, he should ask, not for the dismissal, but for the trial of the case, After the prosecution’s motion for postponement of the trial is denied and upon order of the court the fiscal does not or cannot produce his evidence and, consequently, fails to prove the defendant’s guilt, the court upon defendant’s motion shall dismiss the case, such dismissal amounting to an acquittal of the defendant. (4 Moran’s Comments on the Rules of Court, 1980 Ed., p. 202, citing Gandicela v. Lutero and People v. Diaz, 94 Phil. 714)

The dismissal of a criminal case upon motion of the accused because the prosecution was not prepared for trial since the complainant and his witnesses did not appear at the trial is a dismissal equivalent to an acquittal that would bar further prosecution of the defendant for the same offense.

Note that Rule 117, Sec. 8 now provides for the provisional dismissal of cases. It shall not be dismissed provisionally except with the express consent of the accused and with notice to the offended party. Thus, the accused should no longer agree to the provisional dismissal of the case but should insist on its permanent dismissal if the prosecution continually fails to prove its case.

2. Rights of persons under Custodial Investigation

Rep. Act No. 7438 – Rights of Persons arrested, detained or under custodial investigation as well as duties of the arresting, detaining and investigating officers –

Sec. 2 (a) – Right to Counsel
(b) – Right to be informed of his right to remain silent and
to have competent and independent counsel
(c) – Extrajudicial confession should be in writing with assistance of counsel and signed in the presence of any parent, elder brother or sister, his spouse, the municipal mayor, the municipal judge, district school supervisor, or priest or minister
(d) – Waiver must in writing and signed in the presence of counsel
(e) – Allowed visits or conferences with member of immediate family, doctor or priest, or counsel, or NGO accredited by the CHR

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 the law.

3. Rights of the accused at the trial

Right to have compulsory process issued to secure the attendance of witnesses and production of other evidence in his behalf (Rule 115, Sec. 1 (g)

Vda. de Manguerra v. Risos, G.R. No. 152643, August 28, 2008, 563 SCRA 499 – The charge against the accused was estafa through falsification of public document before the RTC of Cebu City. The principal witness for the prosecution had to be confined in Makati Medical Center due to upper gastro-intestinal bleeding and was advised to stay for further treatment. The prosecution then filed a motion to take her deposition, explaining the need to perpetuate her testimony due to her weak physical condition and old age, which limted her freedom of mobility. Can this be done in a criminal case?

According to the SC, it is basic that all witnesses shall give their testimonies at the trial of the case in the presence of the judge. This is especially true in criminal cases in order that the accused may be afforded the opportunity to cross-examine the witnesses pursuant to his constitutional right to confront the witnesses face to face. It also gives the parties and their counsel the chance to propound such questions as they deem material and necessary to support their position or to test the credibility of said witnesses. Lastly, this enables the judge to observe the witnesses’ demeanor.

This rule however is not absolute, As exceptions, Rules 23 to 28 of the Rules of Court provide for the different modes of discovery that may be resorted to by a party to an action. These rules are adopted either to perpetuate the testimonies of witnesses or as modes of discovery. In criminal proceedings, Sections 12, 13 and 15 of Rule 119 allow the conditional examination of both the defense and prosecution witnesses.

Sec. 15 of Rule 119 is clear on this. A witness may be conditionally examined: 1) if the witness is too sick or infirm to appear at the trial; or 2) if the witness has to leave the Philippines with no definite date of returning. However, it is required that the conditional examination be made before the court where the case is pending. It is also necessary that the accused be notified so that he can attend the examination subject to his right to waive the same after reasonable notice. As to the manner of examination, the Rules mandate that it be conducted in the same manner as an examination during trial, that is, through question and answer.

Jaylo v. Sandiganbayan, G.R. Nos. 111502-04, November 22, 2001, 370 SCRA 170 – The taking of deposition in criminal cases may be allowed only in exceptional situations in order to prevent a failure of justice. Accused in this case wanted to take the oral deposition of witnesses abroad before the Philippine Embassy. The witnesses were agents of the Drug Enforcement Agency of the USA.

In this case, the witnesses were for the defense and the examination of said witnesses under Rule 119, Sec. 13 may be taken before a judge, or if not practicable, a member of the Bar in good standing so designated by the judge in his order, or if the order be made by a court of superior jurisdiction, before an inferior court to be designated therein. The rule however allows oral deposition in a criminal case if the court is satisfied that the examination of a witness for the accused is necessary. The Sandiganbayan ruled that no necessity existed for the conditional examination of the 3 witnesses for the defense because other witnesses appearing on record are available to testify on the same facts on which the proposed deponents would testify and the accused failed to show that the video tapes recording the events prior to and during the shooting incident could not be produced except through the same deponents.

H. Arraignment and Plea

1. Arraignment and Plea, how made

Waiver of the reading of the Information – Under A.M. No. 09-6-8-SC or the Rules of Procedure for Environmental Cases, Part IV (Criminal Procedure), Rule 14, Sec. 2 (a) on Bail imposes as a pre-condition in the grant of bail, the execution of a written undertaking wherein the accused agrees to “(a) To appear before the court that issued the warrant of arrest for arraignment purposes on the date scheduled, and if the accused fails to appear without justification on the date of arraignment, accused waives the reading of the information and authorizes the court to enter a plea of not guilty on behalf of the accused and to set the case for trial.”

Note that under the ordinary rules, if the accused does not appear on the date of arraignment, the court may declare the bond forfeited under Sec. 21 of Rule 114 and issue a warrant for his arrest. Trial in absentia cannot proceed since the accused has not been arraigned.

2. When should plea of NOT GUILTY be entered

People v. Strong, G.R. No. L-38626, March 14, 1975, 63 SCRA 133 – where OSG agreed with appellant to set aside plea of guilty. According to the SC, it is clear from a perusal of the TSN that the accused denied the allegations contained in the information but still the TC entered a plea of guilty for him and convicted him beyond reasonable doubt of the crime of murder. The SC cited the admonition in People v. Apduhan that judges are to refrain from accepting with alacrity an accused’s plea of guilty for while justice demands a speedy administration, judges are duly bound to be extra solicitous in seeing to it that when an accused pleads guilty, he understands fully the meaning of his plea and the import of an inevitable conviction.

See People v. Apduhan, G.R. No. L-19491, August 30, 1968, 24 SCRA 817, where trial court after review of the proceedings reopened the case since it found the plea was not definite. The SC commended him because he made sure that the accused clearly and fully understood the seriousness of the offense charged and the severity of the penalty attached to it.

People v. Balisacan, G.R. No. L-26376, August 31, 1966, 17 SCRA 1119 -In this case, the accused entered a plea of guilty to the charge of homicide. He was then allowed to present evidence to prove mitigating circumstances. Thereupon, the accused testified to the effect that he stabbed the victim in self-defense because the latter was strangling him. On the basis of this testimony, the TC acquitted the accused. The State then appealed from judgment of acquittal. According to the SC, when the accused testified that he acted in self-defense, said testimony had the effect of vacating his plea of guilty. The TC should have required the accused to plead a new on the charge, or at least direct that a new plea of not guilty be entered for him. This was not done. It follows that in effect there having been no standing plea at the time the court rendered a judgment of acquittal, there can be no double jeopardy with respect to the appeal. Thus, the judgment of acquittal was a nullity for want of due process.

3. When may accused enter a plea of guilty to a lesser
offense

Daan v. Sandiganbayan, G.R. Nos. 163972-77, March 28 2008, 550 SCRA 233 – Accused was charged under Art. 217 for Malversation of Public Funds. He initially pleaded not guilty but offered to withdraw his plea and substitute it with a plea of guilty to a lesser offense under Art. 218 for Failure to Render Account by an Accountable Officer. Accused was also charged under Art. 171, par. 4 re: falsification of Public Documents. He also entered a plea of not guilty but offered to withdraw his plea but substitute it with a plea of guilt provided that the mitigating circumstance of confession or plea of guilt and voluntary surrender will be appreciated in his favor, or in the alternative enter a plea of guilty to a lesser offense under Art. 172, par. 1 re: falsification by private individual.

The prosecution recommended approval of the change of plea but the Sandiganbayan denied the offer explaining that “no cogent reason was presented to justify its approval.”

According to the SC, it is immaterial that plea bargaining was not made during the pre-trial stage or that it was made only after the prosecution already presented several witnesses. Sec. 2, Rule 116 states “… After arraignment but before trial, the accused may still be allowed to plead guilty to said lesser offense after withdrawing his plea of not guilty.”

SC further explained that Sec. 2, Rule 116 presents the basic requisites upon which plea bargaining may be made, i.e., that it should be with the consent of the offended party and the prosecutor, and that the plea of guilt should be to a lesser offense which is necessarily included in the offense charged. Sec. 2 denotes an exercise of discretion upon the trial court on whether to allow the accused to make such plea. TCs are exhorted to keep in mind that a plea of guilty for a lighter offense than that actually charged is not supposed to be allowed as a matter of bargaining or compromise for the convenience of the accused.

The SC went on to say that the Sandiganbayan has proferred valid reasons in rejecting the accused’s plea offer. However, subsequent events and higher interests of justice and fair play dictate that accused’s plea offer should be accepted. The case then called for the judicious exercise of the court’s equity jurisdiction. Equity as the complement of legal jurisdiction seeks to reach and do complete justice where courts of law, through the inflexibility of their rules and want of power to adapt their judgments to the special circumstances of cases, are incompetent so to do. Equity regards the spirit of and not the letter, the intent and not the form, the substance rather than the circumstance, as it is variously expressed by different courts.

The SC then cited the case of People v. Estrada wherein the Sandiganbayan in its Resolution dated March 14, 2007 approved the plea bargaining agreement entered into by the prosecution and accused Charlie Atong Ang. The SC sees no reason why the standards applied by the Sandiganbayan to Atong Ang should not be applied to the present case.

Is there a time frame within which an accused can plea bargain? As stated in Daan, it is immaterial that the plea was not made during the pre-trial stage or that it was made only after the prosecution already presented several witnesses. In People v. Mamarion, G.R. No. 137554, October 1, 2003, 412 SCRA 438, accused Gale was allowed to plead guilty to a lesser offense, i.e., from Kidnapping for Ransom to Slight Illegal Detention, there being no evidence presented as yet against him and on the condition that he will testify for the prosecution.

In People v. Villarama Jr., G.R. No. 99287, June 23, 1992, 210 SCRA 246, Judge Martin Villarama Jr., now a SC Justice, allowed a change of plea to a lesser offense even after the prosecution rested its case. The SC citing the case of People v. Parohinog, G.R. No. L-47462, February 28, 1980, 96 SCRA 373, Justice Barredo explained that after the prosecution has already rested its case, the only basis on which the fiscal and the court could rightfully act in allowing the appellant to change his former plea of not guilty to murder to guilty to the lesser crime of homicide could be nothing more nothing less than the evidence already in the record. The reason for this being that the Rule under which a plea for a lesser offense is allowed was not and could not have been intended as a procedure for compromise, much less bargaining.

Thus, the TC, as soon as the fiscal has submitted his comment whether for or against the said motion, should assiduously study the prosecution’s evidence as well as all the circumstances upon which the accused made his change of plea to the end that the interests of justice and of the public will be served. In People v. Villarama Jr., which involves violation of RA 6425, Judge Villarama Jr. dwelt only on one of the 3 objections which is waste of valuable time already spent by the court and the prosecution. Absent any finding on the weight of the evidence in hand, the judge’s acceptance of the accused’s change of plea is improper and irregular.

Note, under RA 9165, Sec. 23 thereof, any person charged under any provision of the Act regardless of the imposable penalty shall not be allowed to avail of the provision on plea bargaining.

People v. Kayanan, G.R. No. L-308355, May 31, 1978, 83 SCRA 437 – Rules allow such a plea only when the prosecution does not have sufficient evidence to establish the guilt of the crime charged.

4. Accused plead guilty to capital offense, what the court
should do

5. Searching Inquiry

People v. Mendoza, G.R. No. 80845, March 14, 1994, 231 SCRA 264 – 3 accused were charged with robbery with force upon things. Accused Magalop pleaded guilty while his co-accused pleaded not guilty. Instead of pronouncing judgment on Magalop, the TC conducted trial and on the basis of the prosecution’s evidence acquitted the 2 accused. The prosecution then filed a petition for certiorari and mandamus. According to the SC, the TC should have considered the plea of guilt withdrawn and its place enter a plea of not guilty. This was not done. Just the same, substantial justice cannot allow procedural error to prevail over the constitutional right of the accused to be presumed innocent. The SC noted that the case of the prosecution was virtually non-existent as the stolen articles were found in the possession of a third part who was not even summoned to testify.

Justice Cruz in his concurring opinion was appalled with the actuation of the PAO lawyer who assisted the accused. He apparently allowed without any moral compunctions at all, and without proof, to consign an innocent man to prison.

6. Improvident plea

7. Grounds for suspension of arraignment

I. Motion to Quash

1. Grounds

Fenequito v. Vergara Jr., G.R. No. 172829, July 18, 2012 — The factual and legal situations in the present case are essentially on all fours with those involved in Basa v. People, (451 SCRA 510). In the said case, the accused were charged with swindling and falsification of public documents. Subsequently, the accused filed a Joint Motion to Quash on the ground that the facts charged in each Information do not constitute an offense. Thereafter, the MeTC issued an order in favor of the accused and, accordingly, quashed the Informations. The private complainant, with the conformity of the public prosecutor, filed a motion for reconsideration but the MeTC denied it. On appeal, the RTC reversed the order of the MeTC and directed the continuation of the proceedings. The accused then filed a petition for review with the CA. In its assailed decision, the CA dismissed the petition on the ground that the remedy of appeal from the RTC decision is improper, because the said decision is actually interlocutory in nature. In affirming the ruling of the CA, the SC held that:

Petitioners erroneously assumed that the RTC Decision is final and appealable, when in fact it is interlocutory. Thus, they filed a petition for review with the Court of Appeals under Section 3 (b), Rule 122 of the Revised Rules of Criminal Procedure, which provides:

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(b) The appeal to the Court of Appeals in cases decided by the Regional Trial Court in the exercise of its appellate jurisdiction shall be by petition for review under Rule 42.
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Section 1, Rule 42 of the 1997 Rules of Civil Procedure, as amended, states:

Sec. 1. How appeal taken; time for filing. – A party desiring to appeal from a decision of the Regional Trial Court rendered in the exercise of its appellate jurisdiction, may file a verified petition for review with the Court of Appeals, x x x.

The above provisions contemplate of an appeal from a final decision or order of the RTC in the exercise of its appellate jurisdiction. Thus, the remedy of appeal under Rule 42 resorted to by petitioners is improper. To repeat, the RTC Decision is not final, but interlocutory in nature.

A final order is one that which disposes of the whole subject matter or terminates a particular proceeding or action, leaving nothing to be done but to enforce by execution what has been determined. Upon the other hand, an order is interlocutory if it does not dispose of a case completely, but leaves something more to be done upon its merits.

Tested against the above criterion, the RTC Decision is beyond cavil interlocutory in nature. It is essentially a denial of petitioners’ motion to quash because it leaves something more to be done x x x, i.e., the continuation of the criminal proceedings until the guilt or innocence of the accused is determined. Specifically, the MeTC has yet to arraign the petitioners, then proceed to trial and finally render the proper judgment.

It is axiomatic that an order denying a motion to quash on the ground that the allegations in the Informations do not constitute an offense cannot be challenged by an appeal. This Court generally frowns upon this remedial measure as regards interlocutory orders. The evident reason for such rule is to avoid multiplicity of appeals in a single action. To tolerate the practice of allowing appeals from interlocutory orders would not only delay the administration of justice but also would unduly burden the courts. (Emphases supplied)

In the present case, the assailed Decision of the RTC set aside the Order of the MeTC and directed the court a quo to proceed to trial by allowing the prosecution to present its evidence. Hence, it is clear that the RTC Decision is interlocutory as it did not dispose of the case completely, but left something more to be done on its merits.

Galzote v. Briones, G.R. No. 164682, September 14, 2011, 657 SCRA 535 is a classic illustration of dilatory tactics and the courts unwittingly played a major role in the delay. On January 23, 1997, an Information for robbery in an uninhabited place was filed against the accused before the MeTC of Manila. The accused filed a Motion to Quash which was denied on September 15, 1997. The accused then filed a Petition for Certiorari with the RTC. The petition was dismissed by the RTC on March 22, 2002. By then, more than 5 years had already lapsed from the time the Information was filed with the MeTC. Accused questioned the dismissal of his petition with the CA by way of Petition for Certiorari. The CA dismissed the petition on April 30, 2004 saying the accused should have appealed the dismissal instead of filing a petition for certiorari. Note, appeal is the correct mode and that could have caused further delay. Also note that by the time the CA dismissed the petition, 7 years had already lapsed since the time the Information was filed in the MeTC. Accused then filed a petition for review on certiorari with the SC. The SC dismissed the petition on September 14, 2011, or more than 14 years after the case was filed in court.

The SC reiterated established doctrines. First, a denial of a motion to quash is not appealable. Petition for certiorari is only proper when appeal is not an adequate remedy. The remedy is to go to trial. Second, certiorari is an exception and a recourse grounded only on compelling reasons such as in the interest of enlightened and substantial justice, promotion of public welfare and public policy, cases that have generated nationwide attention making it essential to proceed with dispatch in the consideration thereof, or judgments attended by grave abuse of discretion.

The SC cannot allow a party to delay litigation by filing a petition for certiorari under Rule 65 based on scant allegations of grave abuse of discretion. The moves of the accused were considered dilatory and the SC assessed on the accused treble costs, not at all substantial considering the delay that resulted in his ploy.

In Co v. People of the Philippines, G.R. No. 160265, July 13, 2009, 592 SCRA 381, the SC held that under the rule of conclusiveness of judgment, the judgment in the labor case bars the case against the accused for violation of SS laws as the relief sought in the latter case is inextricably related to the ruling in the labor case to the effect that the private complainants are not employees of the petitioner-accused. Although the case involves a criminal charge, still the findings in the labor case are binding herein because the same facts are the subject of both cases. What is decisive is that the issues already litigated in a final and executory judgment preclude the principle of bar by prior judgment, an aspect of the doctrine of res judicita and even under the doctrine of law of the case – the relitigation of the same issue in another action so long as it remains unreversed, it should be conclusive upon the parties and those in privity with them. The dictum therein laid down became the law of the case and what was once irrevocably established as the controlling legal rule or decision continues to be binding between the same parties as long as the facts on which the decision was predicated continue to be the facts of the case before the court. Hence, the binding effect and enforceability of that dictum can no longer be resurrected anew since such issue had already been resolved and finally laid to rest, if not by the principle of res judicata, at least by conclusiveness of judgment.

Res judicata has two concepts. The first is bar by prior judgment under Rule 39, Sec. 47 (b) and the second is conclusiveness of judgment under Rule 39, Sec. 47 (c). Both concepts are founded on the principle of estoppel, and are based on the salutary public policy against unnecessary multiplicity of suits. Like the splitting of causes of action, res judicata in in pursuance of such policy. Matters settled by a court’s final judgment should not be litigated upon or invoked again. Relitigation of issues already settled merely burdens the courts and the taxpayers, creates uneasiness and confusion, and wastes valuable time and energy that could be devoted to worthier cases.

In sum, the final and executory NLRC decision to the effect that the accused were not the employees of the accused was binding to the criminal case for violation of SS laws.

2. Distinguish from demurrer to evidence

3. Effects of sustaining the motion to quash

Javier v. Sandiganbayan, G.R. Nos. 147026-27, September 11, 2009, 599 SCRA 324 – Accused a member of the Governing Board of the National Book Development Baord was issued a travel authority to attend a book fair in Madrid. She was given Php139T as her travel expenses. However, she failed to attend the book fair. Despite demand for her to return the money, she refused to do so. Thus, she was charged with violation of Sec. 3 (e) of RA 3019 for her failure and refusal to return and/or liquidate her cash advances. She was likewise charged with malversation. She then filed a motion to quash on the theory that charging her under 2 information for the same act is in violation of her right against double jeopardy. The Sandiganbayan denied the motion to quash. Thus, she went to the SC on certiorari.

When a motion to quash is denied, the remedy is not a petition for certiorari but for accused to go to trial without prejudice to reiterating the special defenses invoked in their motion to quash. The accused was a director of the Governing Board of the National Book Development Board. Although she came from the private sector to sit as a member of the NBDB, the law invested her with some portion of the sovereign functions of the government. She performs public functions and is within the jurisdiction of the Sandiganbayan. Likewise, there is no double jeopardy if charged with Rep. Act No. 3019 and under the RPC. For double jeopardy to prosper, the following requisites must concur:

a) there is a complaint or information or other formal charge sufficient in form and substance to sustain a conviction;
b) the same is filed before a court of competent jurisdiction;
c) there is a valid arraignment or plea to the charges; and,
d) the accused is convicted or acquitted or the case is otherwise dismissed or terminationed without his express consent.

4. Exception to the rule that sustaining the motion is not a
bar to another prosecution

Sec. 6, Rule 117 – not a bar to another prosecution unless ground is based on Sec. 3 (g) That the criminal action or liability has been extinguished, and (i) That the accused has been previously convicted or acquitted of the offense charged, or the case against him was dismissed or otherwise terminated without his express consent.

5. Double Jeopardy

Co v. Lim, G.R. No. 164669-70, October 30, 2009, 604 SCRA 702 – This is a charge for violating PD 1612 (Anti-Fencing) after an NBI raid involving Globe cell cards. Lim was found administering the store. Co then filed complaint against Go, the store owner for violation of PD 1612. Separate information was filed against Go. Go filed petition for review with DOJ. Sec. Gutierrez set aside resolutions and directed withdrawal of informations. Arraignment still proceeded. Accused then filed a motion to dismiss on the ground that the DOJ Resolution found no probable cause. The trial court dismissed the case.

According to the SC, there is no double jeopardy since the fourth element was not present. Here, the defense counsel moved for the dismissal of the cases against the accused because of the DOJ resolution. Accused therefore gavie their express consent to the termination of the case. The 4th element necessitates that the conviction or acquittal of the accused or the dismissal of the case was without his or her approval.

People v. Velasco, G.R. No. 127444, September 13, 2000, 340 SCRA 207 – This involves the killing of Alex Vinculado in Sal Ildefonso, Bulacan. Judge Velasco acquitted Mayor Honorato Galvez of the charge of murder and double frustrated murder but convicted his bodyguard. The State then went on certiorari to the SC. Unless there is a finding of mistrial as in Galman v. Sandiganbayan. Only when there is a finding of a sham trial can the doctrine of double jeopardy be not invoked because the people, as represented by the prosecution, was denied due process.

Justice Panganiban in his separate opinion stressed that certiorari is proper to challenge the decision that is allegedly void for having been issued with grave abuse of discretion amounting to lack or excess of jurisdiction. This according to him does not violate the right of the accused to double jeopardy. In other words, even assuming that a writ of certiorari is granted, the accused would not be placed in double jeopardy because from the very beginning, the lower tribunal had acted without jurisdiction.

VYE’s comment: It would appear that a judgment of acquittal might still be questioned through the remedy of a petition for certiorari without violating the rights of the accused against double jeopardy. In Ysidoro v. Leonardo-de Castro, G.R. No. 171513 and G.R. No. 190963, February 6, 2012, 665 SCRA 1, the accused was acquitted by the Sandiganbayan. The People then filed a petition for certiorari questioning the validity of the judgment of acquittal. According to the SC, the rule against double jeopardy cannot be properly invoked in a Rule 65 petition, predicated on two (2) exceptional grounds, namely: in a judgment of acquittal rendered with grave abuse of discretio by the court; and where the prosecution had been deprived of due process. The rule against double jeopardy does not apply in these instances because a Rule 65 petition does not involve a review of facts and law on the merits in the manner done in an appeal. In certiorari proceedings, judicial review does not examine and assess the evidence of the parties nor weigh the probative value of the evidence. It does not include an inquiry on the correctness of the evaluation of the evidence. A review under Rule 65 only asks the question of whether there has been a validly rendered decision, not the question of whether the decision is legally correct. In other words, the focus of the review is to determine whether the judgment is per se void on jurisdictional grounds. Applying these legal concept to the case, the SC concluded that while the People was procedurally correct in filing its petition for certiorari under Rule 65, the petition does not raise any jurisdictional error committed by the Sandiganbayan.

Consider the case of Goodland Company Inc. v. Co, G.R. No. 196685, December 14, 2011, 662 SCRA 692, wherein the case for falsification of public document defined and penalized under Art. 172 in relation to Art. 172 (2) of the RPC against accused Co and Chan was dismissed by the MeTC upon demurrer to evidence. The private complainant first filed a motion for reconsideration and a motion for inhibition of the presiding judge. This was denied mainly because the dismissal of the criminal cases upon the grant of a demurrer to evidence amounted to an acquittal of the accused. The private complainant then filed a petition under Rule 65 with the RTC. The RTC dismissed the petition saying there was no grave abuse of discretion on the part of the MeTC judge. The private complainant then appealed to the CA, which affirmed the RTC’s resolution. Finally, the private complainant went to the SC by way of certiorari under Rule 45. According to the SC, it is settled that a judgment of acquittal cannot be recalled or withdrawn by another order reconsidering the dismissal of the case, nor can it be modified except to eliminate something which is civil or administrative in nature. Once exception to the rue is when the prosecution is denied due process of law. Another exception is when the TC commits grave abuse of discretion in dismissing a criminal case by granting the accused’s demurrer to evidence. If there is grave abuse of discretion, granting the prayer of the private complainant is not tantamount to putting Co and Chan in double jeopardy.

VYE’s comment: Apparently, the SC overlooked the fact that the case was brought to the SC by way of Rule 45, not by way of Rule 65. Moreover, the previous rulings of the SC virtually encouraged the filing of petitions for certiorari under Rule 65 to question judgments of acquittal, as in this case where the private complainant went from one court to another pursuing its appeal.

People v. Laggui, G.R. Nos. 76262-63, March 16, 1989, 171 SCRA 305 – The case involved violation of BP 22 against Eliseo Soriano. He was acquitted by the TC. The prosecution filed a petition for certiorari and mandamus before the SC. According to the SC, although the decision is erroneous, that decision may not be annulled or set aside because it amounted to a judgment of acquittal.

People v. Laguio Jr., G.R. No. 128587, March 16, 2007, 518 SCRA 393 – The case involved Lawrence Wang. After the prosecution rested its case, Wang filed a demurrer to evidence. The TC granted the demurrer and acquitted the accused of the charges of illegal possession of firearms, violation of Dangerous Drugs Act and violation of Comelec Gun Ban. The people filed a petition for certiorari with the SC. According to the SC, an appeal in criminal cases throws the whole records of the case wide open for review by the appellate court, that is why any appeal from a judgment of acquittal necessarily puts the accused in double jeopardy.

People v. Court of Appeals, G.R. No. 187409, November 16, 2011 involved a case for falsification of public document. The accused was convicted by the MTC. On appeal, the judgment of conviction was affirmed by the RTC. On petition for review, the CA reversed the decision and acquitted the accused. The private complainant appealed to the SC by way of petition for review on certiorari. The SC dismissed the petition due to double jeopardy. Will it make any difference if the private complainant filed instead a petition for certiorari under Rule 65? The SC found no grave abuse of discretion on the part of the CA in reversing the judgment of conviction. I believe however that the proper mode to question the acquittal is by way of Rule 65 consistent with the rulings above-mentioned.

Following the doctrine that appeals in criminal cases throws the whole records of the case wide open for review by the appellate court, consider the case of Tangan v. People, 155 SCRA 435 where the RTC convicted the accused of homicide with the privileged mitigating circumstance of incomplete self-defense and the ordinary mitigating circumstance of sufficient provacation and passion and obfuscation. The accused was sentenced to 2 months of arresto mayor to 2 years and 4 months of prision correccional. Instead of availing of probation, accused appealed to the Court of Appeals which affirmed the judgment of conviction. Still the accused went up to the Supreme Court which held that incomplete self defense should not be appreciated. It further declared that there was no sufficient provocation, or passion or obfuscation. Thus, the penalty was increased to 6 years and 1 day of prision mayor to 14 years, 8 months and 1 day of reclusion temporal.

Consider also the case of People v. Villa, June 30, 1948 where Villa, Molino, Bernardino and Gomez were charged with rape. The CFI found them guilty thereof and sentenced each one of them to an indeterminate sentence of from 12 years of prision mayor to 20 years of reclusion temporal. Records show that each and every one of the accused while the others were holding the victim by the hands, succeeded one after the other in having sexual intercourse with her. The 4 accused appealed but one of them withdrew his appeal.

According to the SC, each and everyone of the accused committed and are guilty of 4 crimes of rape. Each defendant is responsible not only for the act of rape committed personally by him, but also for the rape committed by the others by acts without which it could not have been accomplished. Thus, the appellants were declared each guilty of 4 crimes of rape and sentenced for each one of the offenses, to the indeterminate penalty of from 12 years of prision mayor to 20 years of reclusion temporal.

Justice Bengzon said that the appellants should be sentenced for one crime only – not 4 crimes. Justice Perfecto dissented and said by what miracle or legal magic or legerdemain has the single offense been turned into 4 distinct and separate crimes? Moreover, the accused who withdrew his appeal and who committed the same act will undergo the single penalty for the single offense of rape while the appellants will have to undergo 4 separate penalties for 4 separate crimes.

In People v. Jose, G.R. No. L-28232, February 6, 1971, 37 SCRA 450, the trial court refused to impose as many death penalties as there are offenses committed since a man has only one life to pay for a wrong. The Supreme Court explained, four crimes were committed, charged and proved. Since it is the settled rule that once conspiracy is established, the act of one conspirator is attributable to all, then each conspirator must be held liable for each of the felonious acts committed as a result of the conspiracy, regardless of the nature and severity of the appropriate penalties prescribed by law. In this case, four death penalties was imposed on each of the accused.

Castro v. People, G.R. No. 180832, July 23, 2008, 559 SCRA 676 – The accused was charged with grave oral defamation before the MTC. He was convicted and sentenced to 1 month and 1 day of arresto mayor to 4 months and 1 day of arresto mayor. On appeal, the RTC found him guilty of slight oral defamation but acquitted the accused on the ground of prescription. The State filed a petition for certiorari in the CA, which reversed the judgment and reinstated the decision of the MTC. According to the SC, this cannot be done because of double jeopardy. It noted that the SC did not raise errors of jurisdiction but that the RTC allegedly erred in the evaluation and assessment of the evidence presented by the parties. The CA in a petition for certiorari cannot review the lower court’s evaluation of the evidence and factual findings.

Heirs of Jane Honrales v. Honrales, G.R. No. 182651, August 25, 2010, 629 SCRA 423 – Accused was charged of parricide before the RTC of Manila for killing his wife. On reinvestigation, the Office of the Prosecutor recommended the withdrawal of the Information and the filing of an Information for reckless imprudence resulting to parricide with the MeTC. According to the SC, the RTC acted with grave abuse of discretion in granting the withdrawal of the information without making an independent assessment of the merits of the case. Although the accused pleaded guilty to the charge of reckless imprudence resulting to parricide, there was no double jeopardy since the MeTC took cognizance of the case while the case of parricide was still pending with the RTC.

People v. de Grano, G.R. No. 167710, June 5, 2009, 588 SCRA 550 – In the promulgation of judgment, accused was absent. He later filed a motion for reconsideration which the trial court granted resulting in the acquittal of the accused. Ruling of the SC: Although the SC does not absolutely preclude the availment of the remedy of certiorari to correct an erroneous acquittal, the petitioner must clearly and convincingly demonstrate that the trial court blatantly abused its authority to a point so grave and so severe as to deprive it of its power to dispense justice. Here, the accused failed to appear without justifiable cause at the promulgation of the judgment. Subsequently, without surrendering and explaining the reasons for their absence, the accused filed a motion for reconsideration. In blatant disregard of the rules, the RTC not only failed to cause the arrest of the accused who were at large but it also took cognizance of the joint motion and granted it. The RTC clearly exceeded its jurisdiction when it entertained the motion for reconsideration with respect to the accused who were at large. Being at large, the accused have not regained their standing in court. Once an accused jumps bail or flees to a foreign country or escapes from prison or confinement, he loses his standing in court and unless he surrenders or submits to the jurisdiciton of the court, he is deemed to have waived any right to seek relief from the court.

Saldana v. Court of Appeals, G.R. No. 88889, October 11, 1990, 190 SCRA 397 – The CA set aside the order of dismissal of the case for estafa. According to it, the trial court was ousted from its jurisdiction when it violated the right of the prosecution to due process by aborting its right to complete the presentation of its evidence. Hence, the first jeopardy had not been terminated. The remand of the case for further hearing or trial is merely a continuation of the first jeopardy. It does not expose the accused to a second jeopardy.

People v. Uy, G.R. No. 158157, September 30, 2005, 471 SCRA 668 – SC found the trial court to have committed grave abuse of discretion in granting the demurrer to evidence based on a retraction that was not even affirmed in court. The decision of the TC according to the SC undoubtedly deprived the prosecution of due process as it was not given the opportunity to check the veracity of the alleged retraction. Here, the SC remanded the case for further proceeding.

People v. Balisacan, G.R. No. L-26376, August 31, 1966, 17 SCRA 1119 – from a judgment of acquittal, the people appealed to the Court of Appeals which certified the case to the Supreme Court because the appeal involved questions purely of law. The SC said, the People cannot appeal if the accused would be placed thereby in double jeopardy. However, it resolved that the acquittal was a nullity for want of due process and therefore, it cannot constitute a proper basis for a claim of a former jeopardy.

People v. Quizada, G.R. Nos. L-61079-81, April 15, 1988, 160 SCRA 516 – There are only 2 instances when double jeopardy will attach even if the motion to dismiss the case is made by the accused himself. The first is when the ground is insufficiency of the evidence of the prosecution, and the second is when the proceeding have been unreasonably prolonged in violation of the right to speedy trial.

Ivler v. Judge San Pedro, G.R. No. 172716, November 17, 2010, 635 SCRA 191 – Accused was charged with two separate offenses: Reckless Imprudence resulting in Slight Phiysical Injuries and Reckless Imprudence Resulting in Homicide and Damage to Property. He pleaded guilty to the first charge and was meted a penalty of public censure. Thereafter, he moved to quash the Information in the second charge invoking his right against double jeopardy. According to the SC, reckless imprudence is a single crime, the consequences on persons and property is material only to determine the penalty. Thus, the prior acquittal or conviction of reckless imprudence resulting in slight physical injuries bars the subsequent prosecution for the same quasi-offense.

6. Provisional Dismissal

People v. Lacson, G.R. No. 149453, April 1, 2003 – Having invoked the rule on provisional dismissal before the petitioners-panel of prosecutors and before the Court of Appeals, the respondent is burdened to establish the essential requisites of the first paragraph thereof, namely:

1. the prosecution with the express conformity of the accused or the accused moves for a provisional (sin perjuicio) dismissal of the case; or both the prosecution and the accused move for a provisional dismissal of the case;
2. the offended party is notified of the motion for a provisional dismissal of the case;
3. the court issues an order granting the motion and dismissing the case provisionally;
4. the public prosecutor is served with a copy of the order of provisional dismissal of the case.

The foregoing requirements are conditions sine qua non to the application of the time-bar in the second paragraph of the new rule. The raison d’ etre for the requirement of the express consent of the accused to a provisional dismissal of a criminal case is to bar him from subsequently asserting that the revival of the criminal case will place him in double jeopardy for the same offense or for an offense necessarily included therein.

Although the second paragraph of the new rule states that the order of dismissal shall become permanent one year after the issuance thereof without the case having been revived, the provision should be construed to mean that the order of dismissal shall become permanent one year after service of the order of dismissal on the public prosecutor who has control of the prosecution without the criminal case having been revived. The public prosecutor cannot be expected to comply with the timeline unless he is served with a copy of the order of dismissal.

Express consent to a provisional dismissal is given either viva voce or in writing. It is a positive, direct, unequivocal consent requiring no inference or implication to supply its meaning. Where the accused writes on the motion of a prosecutor for a provisional dismissal of the case No objection or With my conformity, the writing amounts to express consent of the accused to a provisional dismissal of the case. The mere inaction or silence of the accused to a motion for a provisional dismissal of the case or his failure to object to a provisional dismissal does not amount to express consent.

A motion of the accused for a provisional dismissal of a case is an express consent to such provisional dismissal. If a criminal case is provisionally dismissed with the express consent of the accused, the case may be revived only within the periods provided in the new rule. On the other hand, if a criminal case is provisionally dismissed without the express consent of the accused or over his objection, the new rule would not apply. The case may be revived or refiled even beyond the prescribed periods subject to the right of the accused to oppose the same on the ground of double jeopardy or that such revival or refiling is barred by the statute of limitations.

The case may be revived by the State within the time-bar either by the refiling of the Information or by the filing of a new Information for the same offense or an offense necessarily included therein. There would be no need of a new preliminary investigation. However, in a case wherein after the provisional dismissal of a criminal case, the original witnesses of the prosecution or some of them may have recanted their testimonies or may have died or may no longer be available and new witnesses for the State have emerged, a new preliminary investigation must be conducted before an Information is refiled or a new Information is filed. A new preliminary investigation is also required if aside from the original accused, other persons are charged under a new criminal complaint for the same offense or necessarily included therein; or if under a new criminal complaint, the original charge has been upgraded; or if under a new criminal complaint, the criminal liability of the accused is upgraded from that as an accessory to that as a principal. The accused must be accorded the right to submit counter-affidavits and evidence. After all, “the fiscal is not called by the Rules of Court to wait in ambush; the role of a fiscal is not mainly to prosecute but essentially to do justice to every man and to assist the court in dispensing that justice.”

Is there a distinction between the effects of a motion to withdraw information from a motion to dismiss/quash? In Torres Jr. v. Aguinaldo, G.R. No. 164268, June 28, 2005, is a classic illustration of difference of opinion on whether or not probable cause exists for the purpose of filing an Information for falsification of public document against the accused-petitioner. The Office of the City Prosecutor recommended the filing of the information. It likewise denied the motion for reconsideration. On appeal, the DOJ reversed the findings of the information and ordered the withdrawal of the Information. It denied the motion for reconsideration filed by Aguinaldo who thereafter brought the matter on certiorari before the CA. The CA granted the petition of Aguinaldo, reversed and set aside the resolution of the DOJ, and reinstated the resolution of the OCP. The motion for reconsideration of Torres was denied prompting him to go to the SC, which granted the petition, reversed and set aside the decision of the CA, and reinstated the resolution of the DOJ.

Our concern however is the effect of the motion to withdraw the information, which the TC granted in view of the resolution of the Secretary of Justice reversing the findings of the investigation prosecutor. In the event that the resolution of the DOJ is reversed and set aside thus, paving the way for the filing of the Information, what should the public prosecutor do? Does he re-file the Information or revive the case? According to the SC, the order granting the withdrawal of the Information attains finality after 15 days from receipt thereof, without prejudice to the re-filing of the information upon reinvestigation. A motion to withdraw information is not time-barred and does not fall within the ambit of Sec. 8 of Rule 117.

In Bañares II v. Balising, G.R. No. 132624, March 13, 2000, the Information for estafa was dismissed upon motion by the accused on the ground of non-referral of the cases to the Lupong Tagapamayapa or Pangkat ng Tagapagkasundo. The MTC granted the motion. Thus, the complainant referred the matter to the Lupong Tagapamaya for conciliation proceedings and since no settlement could be arrived at, he filed a motion to revive the case before the MTC. He attached with his motion a certification to file the action. Can the MTC revive the case since the dismissal of the case was without prejudice? According to the SC, the order dismissing a case without prejudice is a final order if no motion for reconsideration or appeal therefrom is timely filed. The law grants an aggrieved party a period of 15 days from his receipt of the court’s decision or order disposing of the action or proceeding to appeal or move to reconsider the same. After the lapse of the 15-day period, the order becomes final and executory and is beyond the power or jurisdiction of the court, which rendered it to further amend or revoke the same. After the order of dismissal of a case without prejudice has become final, and therefore becomes outside the court’s power to amend and modify, a party who wishes to reinstate the case has no other remedy but to file a new complaint.

On the other hand, if the case was provisionally dismissed pursuant to Sec. 8 of Rule 117, the State can revive the same by filing a motion before the same court that issued the order of provisional dismissal.

J. Pre-trial

Sec. 23, RA 9165: Any person charged under any provision of this Act regardless of the imposable penalty shall not be allowed to avail of the provision on plea bargaining.

1. Matters to be considered during pre-trial

2. What the court should do when prosecution and
offended party agree to the plea offered by the accused

3. Pre-trial agreement

Bayas v. Sandiganbayan, G.R. Nos. 143689-91, November 12, 2002, 391 SCRA 415 – Pretrial stipulations were duly signed by the accused and their counsel cannot be allowed to unilaterally withdraw the same unless set aside for good cause. In the Joint Stipulation of Facts and Documents, the prosecution opted not to present any witness considering the defense admitted all the documentary evidence of the prosecution.

4. Non-appearance during pre-trial

5. Pre-trial order

6. Referral of some cases for Court Annexed Mediation and
Judicial Dispute Resolution

Archiving of criminal cases – Adm. Circ. No. 7-A-92, June 21, 1993. In criminal cases: (1) if after the issuance of the warrant of arrest, accused remains at large for 6 months. Court should require the police officer to explain why accused was not apprehended. It should issue an alias warrant of arrest and order the archiving of the case; (2) when proceedings are ordered suspended for an indefinite period because (i) accused is suffering from an unsound mental condition; (ii) valid prejudicial question; (iii) interlocutory order is elevated; and, (iv) accused jumped bail before arraignment.

K. Trial

1. Instances when presence of accused is required by law

2. Requisite before trial can be suspended on account of
absence of witness

3. Trial in Absentia

4. Remedy when accused is not brought to trial within the
prescribed period

See Sec. 9, Rule 119 – Remedy where accused is not brought to trial within the time limit. – Information may be dismissed on motion of the accused on the ground of his right to speedy trial.

5. Requisites for discharge of accused to become a state
witness

Quarto v. Ombudsman Marcelo, G.R. No. 169042, October 5, 2011, 658 SCRA 580 – In the exercise of his investigatory and prosecutorial powers, the Ombudsman is generally no different from an ordinary prosecutor in determining who must be charged. He also enjoys the same latitude of discretion in determining what constitutes sufficient evidence to support a finding of probable cause (that must be established for the filing of an information in court) and the degree of participation of those involved or the lack thereof. His findings and conclusions on these matters are not ordinarily subject to review by the courts except when he gravely abuses his discretion, i.e., when his action amounts to an evasion of a positive duty or a virtual refusal to perform a duty enjoined by law, or when he acts outside the contemplation of law.

In this case, the Ombudsman granted the respondents immunity from prosecution pursuant to RA No. 6770 which specifically empowers the Ombudsman to grant immunity “in any hearing, inquiry or proceeding being conducted by the Ombudsman or under its authority, in the performance or in the furtherance of its constitutional functions and statutory objectives.” The pertinent provision – Section 17 of this law – provides:

Sec. 17. Immunities. – x x x.
Under such terms and conditions as it may determine, taking into account the pertinent provisions of the Rules of Court, the Ombudsman may grant immunity from criminal prosecution to any person whose testimony or whose possession and production of documents or other evidence may be necessary to determine the truth in any hearing, inquiry or proceeding being conducted by the Ombudsman or under its authority, in the performance or in the furtherance of its constitutional functions and statutory objectives. The immunity granted under this and the immediately preceding paragraph shall not exempt the witness from criminal prosecution for perjury or false testimony nor shall he be exempt from demotion or removal from office.

While the legislature is the source of the power to grant immunity, the authority to implement is lodged elsewhere. The authority to choose the individual to whom immunity would be granted is a constituent part of the process and is essentially an executive function. Mapa, Jr. v. Sandiganbayan is instructive on this point:

The decision to grant immunity from prosecution forms a constituent part of the prosecution process. It is essentially a tactical decision to forego prosecution of a person for government to achieve a higher objective. It is a deliberate renunciation of the right of the State to prosecute all who appear to be guilty of having committed a crime. Its justification lies in the particular need of the State to obtain the conviction of the more guilty criminals who, otherwise, will probably elude the long arm of the law. Whether or not the delicate power should be exercised, who should be extended the privilege, the timing of its grant, are questions addressed solely to the sound judgment of the prosecution. The power to prosecute includes the right to determine who shall be prosecuted and the corollary right to decide whom not to prosecute. In reviewing the exercise of prosecutorial discretion in these areas, the jurisdiction of the respondent court is limited. For the business of a court of justice is to be an impartial tribunal, and not to get involved with the success or failure of the prosecution to prosecute. Every now and then, the prosecution may err in the selection of its strategies, but such errors are not for neutral courts to rectify, any more than courts should correct the blunders of the defense.

RA No. 6770 fully recognizes this prosecutorial prerogative by empowering the Ombudsman to grant immunity, subject to “such terms and conditions” as he may determine. The only textual limitation imposed by law on this authority is the need to take “into account the pertinent provisions of the Rules of Court,” – i.e., Section 17, Rule 119 of the Rules of Court.64 This provision requires that:

(a) There is absolute necessity for the testimony of the accused whose discharge is requested;
(b) There is no other direct evidence available for the proper prosecution of the offense committed, except the testimony of said accused;
(c) The testimony of said accused can be substantially corroborated in its material points;
(d) Said accused does not appear to be the most guilty; and
(e) Said accused has not at any time been convicted of any offense involving moral turpitude.

This Rule is itself unique as, without detracting from the executive nature of the power to prosecute and the power to grant immunity, it clarifies that in cases already filed with the courts, the prosecution merely makes a proposal and initiates the process of granting immunity to an accused-witness in order to utilize him as a witness against his co-accused. As we explained in Webb v. De Leon in the context of the Witness Protection, Security and Benefit Act:

The right to prosecute vests the prosecutor with a wide range of discretion – the discretion of whether, what and whom to charge, the exercise of which depends on a smorgasbord of factors which are best appreciated by prosecutors. We thus hold that it is not constitutionally impermissible for Congress to enact R.A. No. 6981 vesting in the Department of Justice the power to determine who can qualify as a witness in the program and who shall be granted immunity from prosecution. Section 9 of Rule 119 does not support the proposition that the power to choose who shall be a state witness is an inherent judicial prerogative. Under this provision, the court is given the power to discharge a state witness only because it has already acquired jurisdiction over the crime and the accused. The discharge of an accused is part of the exercise of jurisdiction but is not a recognition of an inherent judicial function.

6. Effects of Discharge of accused as state witness

7. Demurrer to Evidence

Bangayan Jr. v. Bangayan, 172777, October 19, 2011, 659 SCRA 590 – A demurrer to evidence is filed after the prosecution has rested its case and the TC is required to evaluate whether the evidence presented by the prosecution is sufficient enough to warrant the conviction of the accused beyond reasonable doubt. If the court finds that the evidence is not sufficient and grants the demurrer to evidence, such dismissal of the case is one on the merits, which is equivalent to the acquittal of the accused. The court cannot review an order granting the demurrer to evdence and acquitting the accused on the ground of insufficiency of evidence because to do so will be place the accused in double jeopardy.

Double jeopardy attaches even if the dismissal of the case was made on motion of the accused if: (1) the dismissal is based on a demurrer to evidence filed by the accused after the prosecution has rested, which has the effect of a judgment on the merits and operates as an acquittal; and, (2) if the dismissal is made also on motion of the accused because of the denial of his right to a speedy trial which is in effect a failure to prosecute.

In People v. Sandiganbayan (Fourth Division), G.R. No. 153304-05, February 7, 2012, 665 SCRA 89, the accused filed a demurrer to evidence which the Sandiganbayan granted and acquitted the accused. The People then filed a petition for certiorari assailing the grant of the demurrer to evidence. The People claimed that it was denied due process because of the nonfeasance committed by the special prosecutor in failing to present sufficient evidence to prove its case. The SC emphasized that once the court grants the demurrer, the grant amounts to an acquittal; any further prosecution of the accused would violate the constitutional proscription on double jeopardy. The proscription against double jeopardy only envisages appeals based on errors of judgment, but not errors of jurisdiction. Jurisprudence recognizes two grounds where double jeopardy will not attach, these are: (i) on the ground of grave abuse of discretion amounting to lack or excess of jurisdiction; and/or (ii) where there is denial of a party’s due process rights. In this case, the SC found that the State was not denied due process in the proceedings before the Sandiganbayan. Neither was there any indication that the special prosecutor deliberately and wilfully failed to present available evidence or that other evidence could be secured.

In this case, the SC said that the Sandiganbayan, for that matter any court, is under no obligation to require the parties to present additional evidence when a demurrer to evidence is filed. In a criminal proceeding, the burden lies with the prosecution to prove that the accused committed the crime charged beyond reasonable doubt, as the constitutional presumption of innocence ordinarily stands in favor of the accused. Nonetheless, the court, in the exercise of its sound discretion, may require or allow the prosecution to present additional evidence (at its own initiative or upon a motion) after a demurrer to evidence is filed. This exercise, however, must be for good reasons and in the paramount interest of justice. Thus, the court may require the presentation of further evidence if its action on the demurrer to evidence would patently result in the denial of due process; it may also allow the presentation of additional evidence if it is newly discovered, if it was omitted through inadvertence or mistake, or if it is intended to correct the evidence previously offered.

People v. Atienza, G.R. No. 171671, June 18, 2012 – In this case, double jeopardy has set in. The elements of double jeopardy are (1) the complaint or information was sufficient in form and substance to sustain a conviction; (2) the court had jurisdiction; (3) the accused had been arraigned and had pleaded; and (4) the accused was convicted or acquitted, or the case was dismissed without his express consent. These elements are all attendant in the present case: (1) the Information filed before the Sandiganbayan in Criminal Case No. 26678 against respondents were sufficient in form and substance to sustain a conviction; (2) the Sandiganbayan had jurisdiction over Criminal Case No. 26678; (3) respondents were arraigned and entered their respective pleas of not guilty; and (4) the Sandiganbayan dismissed Criminal Case No. 26678 on a Demurrer to Evidence on the ground that not all the elements of the offense as charge exist in the case at bar, which amounts to an acquittal from which no appeal can be had.

In People v. Sandiganbayan, the SC elucidated the general rule that the grant of a demurrer to evidence operates as an acquittal and is, thus, final and unappealable, to wit:

The demurrer to evidence in criminal cases, such as the one at bar, is “filed after the prosecution had rested its case,” and when the same is granted, it calls “for an appreciation of the evidence adduced by the prosecution and its sufficiency to warrant conviction beyond reasonable doubt, resulting in a dismissal of the case on the merits, tantamount to an acquittal of the accused.” Such dismissal of a criminal case by the grant of demurrer to evidence may not be appealed, for to do so would be to place the accused in double jeopardy. The verdict being one of acquittal, the case ends there.

Verily, in criminal cases, the grant of demurrer is tantamount to an acquittal and the dismissal order may not be appealed because this would place the accused in double jeopardy. Although the dismissal order is not subject to appeal, it is still reviewable but only through certiorari under Rule 65 of the Rules of Court. For the writ to issue, the trial court must be shown to have acted with grave abuse of discretion amounting to lack or excess of jurisdiction such as where the prosecution was denied the opportunity to present its case or where the trial was a sham, thus, rendering the assailed judgment void. The burden is on the petitioner to clearly demonstrate that the trial court blatantly abused its authority to a point so grave as to deprive it of its very power to dispense justice. In this case, no such circumstances exist to warrant a departure from the general rule and reverse the findings of the Sandiganbayan.

8. Reverse trial

Alejandro v. Pepito, G.R. No. L-52090, February 1, 1980, 96 SCRA 322, was decided before amendments allowing reverse trial – the trial court imposed a reverse trial but the SC did not allow this. According to the SC, even in situation where plea of self-defense is raised, constitutional provision that no person shall be held to answer for a criminal offense without due process still require presentation of evidence by prosecution who must come forward and presnet its proof in the first instance before the accused is required to substantiate his defense.

People v. Marcial, G.R. Nos. 152864-65, September 27, 2006, 503 SCRA 536 – According to the SC, modification of the order of trial is discretionary and denial is interlocutory in nature and hence, not appealable. Here, the prosecution moved to reverse the trial but the motion was denied by the TC.

Under Sec. 1 (e), Rule 118, the trial court shall consider the “modification of the order of trial if the accused admits the charge but interposes a lawful defense.”

L. Judgment

1. Requisites of a judgment

2. Contents of Judgment

In Abellana v. People, G.R. No. 174654, August 17, 2011, 655 SCRA 683, the SC stressed that sentences should not be in the alternative. There is nothing in the law which permits courts to impose sentences in the alternative. (US v. Chong Ting and Ha Kang, 23 Phil. 120) While a judge has the jurisdiction of imposing one or another penalty, he cannot impose both in the alternative. He must fix positively and with certainty the particular penalty. In this case, the accused was charged with estafa through falsification of public document. The RTC convicted him of the crime of falsification of a public documentand sentenced him to an indeterminate penalty of 2 years and 4 months of prision correccional, as minimum, to six years, as maximum. On appeal with the CA, he was acquitted because allegedly he could not be convicted of falsification of public document by a private individual under Art. 172 (1) in relation to Art. 171 (2) when he was charged with and arraigned for estafa through falsification of a public document under Art. 171 (1) of the RPC. The civil liability however was affirmed.

As civil liability, accused was directed to institute reconveyance proceedings to restore ownership and possession of the real property in question in favor of the complainants. Should he fail to restore full ownership and possession in favor of the complainants within a period of 6 months from the time the decision becomes final and executory, he is directed to pay the complainants the sum of Php1.103 Million representing the total value of the properties of the complainants. According to the SC, there is absolutely no basis for the TC or the CA to hold the accused liable to restore ownership and possession of the subject properties to the complainants or to pay them Php1.103 Million as damages. Civil liability arises when one by reason of his own act or omission done intentionally or negligently causes damage to another. Based on the records of the case, the acts committed by the accused did not cause any damage to the complainants.

3. Promulgation of judgment; instances of promulgation of
judgment in absentia

4. Reopening of case

Cabarles v. Maceda, G.R. No. 161330, February 20, 2007, 516 SCRA 303 – a day before the scheduled promulgation, Judge Maceda motu proprio reopened the case allegedly because the prosecution may not have been given its day in court resulting in a miscarriage of justice. This cannot be done without conducting a hearing. The SC explained that a motion to reopen a case to receive further proofs was not in the old rules but it was nonetheless a recognized procedural recourse, deriving validity and acceptance from long established usage. This lack of a specific provision covering motions to reopen was remedied by the Revised Rules of Criminal Procedure which took effect on December 1, 2000.

Under Sec. 24, Rule 119, “At any time before finality of the judgment of conviction, the judge may, motu proprio or upon motion, with hearing in either case, reopen the proceedings to avoid a miscarriage of justice. The proceedings shall be terminated within thirty (30) days from the order granting it.” Thus, a reopening must be before the finality of a judgment of conviction; the order is issued by the judge on his own initiative or upon motion; the order is issued only after a hearing is conducted; the order intends to prevent a miscarriage of justice; and, the presentation of additional and/or further evidence should be terminated within 30 days from the issuance of the order.

5. Amendment of the Information

Gonzales v. CA, G.R. No. 108811, May 31, 1994, 232 SCRA 667 – Accused was charged with qualified seduction before MTC. When the defense was about to rest, the prosecution filed a motion to commit accused to answer for rape since the evidence indicated rape, not qualified seduction. The MTC then dismissed the case for qualified seduction. Thereafter, the rape case was filed with the RTC. Can this be done without violating the rights of the accused to double jeopardy?

This is allowed under Rule 119, Sec. 19 which states: “When it becomes manifest at any time before judgment that a mistake has been made in charging the proper offense and the accused cannot be convicted of the offense charged or any other offense necessarily included therein, the accused shall not be discharged if there appears good cause to detain him. In such case, the court shall commit the accused to answer for the proper offense and dismiss the original case upon the filing of the proper information.” According to the SC, the accused cannot invoke double jeopardy since there is no question that the MTC did not have the requisite jurisdiction to try the offense of rape, a crime that lies instead within the jurisdiction of the RTC to take cognizance of.

6. When does judgment become final (four instances)

Sec. 7, Rule 120: Modification of judgment. – A judgment of conviction may, upon motion of the accused, be modified or set aside before it becomes final or before appeal is perfected. Except where the death penalty is imposed, a judgment becomes final –

1. after the lapse of the period for perfecting an appeal,
2. or when the sentence has been partially or totally satisfied or served,
3. or when the accused has waived in writing his right to appeal,
4. or has applied for probation.

7. Probation

Under PD 968 (Probation Law), as amended by PD 1990, “no application for probation shall be entertained or granted if the defendant has perfected the appeal from the judgment of conviction.”

In Lagrosa v. People, G.R. No. 152044, July 3, 2003, 405 SCRA 357, the accused was convicted of violation of the Revised Forestry Code for having in their possession forest products without the requisite permits. He was sentenced to suffer an indeterminate penalty of imprisonment from 2 years, 4 months and 1 day of prision correccional, as minimum, to 8 years of prision mayor, as maximum. He appealed to the CA which reduced the penalty to 6 months and 1 day of prision correccional, as minimum, to 1 year, 8 months and 21 days of prision correccional, as maximum. When the decision became final and executory, he applied for probation but was denied. According to the SC, the fact that the accused put the merits of his conviction in issue on appeal belies his claim that his appeal was prompted by what was admittedly an incorrect penalty. Hence, upon interposing an appeal, more so after asserting their innocence therein, accused should be precluded from seeking probation. By perfecting their appeal, accused ipso facto relinquished the alternative remedy of availng of the Probation Law under PD 968.

Justice Ynares-Santiago then said, “Although it has been suggested that an appeal should not bar the accused from applying for probation if the appeal is solely to reduce the penalty to within the probationable limit may be equitable, we are not yet prepared to accept this proposition, especially given the factual circumstances of this case. Had the petitioners’ appeal from the decision of the trial court raised the impropriety of the penalty imposed upon them as the sole issue, perhaps the Court would have been more sympathetic to their plight. Unfortunately, their misrepresentation has led to their own undoing.”

8 years later, the SC was confronted with a similar issue in Colinares v. People, G.R. No. 182748, December 13, 2011, 662 SCRA 266. Here, the accused was charged with frustrated homicide and was found guilty thereof and sentenced to suffer imprisonment from 2 years and 4 months of prision correccional, as minimum, to 6 years and 1 day of prision mayor, as maximum. Since the maximum probationable imprisonment under the law was only up to 6 years, accused did not qualify for probation. Thus, he appealed to the CA invoking self-defense and alternatively, seeking conviction for the lesser crime of attempted homicide with the consequent reduction of the penalty imposed on him. The CA affirmed the RTC decision. Accused then went to the SC, which found that he was guilty of the lesser crime of attempted homicide with the imposable penalty of imprisonment of 4 months of arresto mayor, as minimum, to 2 years and 4 months of prision correccional, as maximum. One of the issues raised was whether he could still avail of probation in view of the reduction of the penalty.

In a vote of 8-7, the majority believed that it would only be fair to allow him the right to apply for probation upon remand of the case to the RTC considering the new penalty. Justice Abad said, “In a real sense, the Court’s finding that Arnel was guilty, not of frustrated homicide but only of attempted homicide, is an original conviction that for the first time imposes on him a probationable penalty. Had the RTC done him right from the start, it would have found him guilty of the correct offense and imposed on him the right penalty of 2 years and 4 months as maximum. This would have afforded the accused the right to apply for probation. The question in this case is ultimately one of fairness. Is it fair to deny Arnel the right to apply for probation when the new penalty that the Court imposes on him is, unlike the one erroneously imposed by the TC, subject to probation?

Justice Peralta in his dissent admitted that there is wisdom to the majority opinion but the problem is that the law expressly prohibits the filing of an application for probation beyond the period for filing an appeal. When the meaning is clearly discernible from the language of the statute, there is no room for construction or interpretation. Thus, the remedy is the amendment of Sec. 4 of PD 968, and not adaptation through judicial interpretation.

Justice Villarama in his dissent emphasized that the policy of liberality of probation statutes cannot prevail agains the categorical provisions of the law. The court should not digress into impermissible judicial legislation whereby in the guise of interpretation, the law is modified or given a construction which is repugnant to its terms. As oft-repeated, the remedy lies in the legislature and not judicial fiat.

8. Necessarily included

People v. Villacorta, G.R. No. 186412, September 7, 2011, 657 SCRA 270 – The victim was stabbed with a sharpened bamboo stick on January 23, 2002. He was taken to Tondo Medical Center where he was treated as an out-patient. On Febuary 14, he was brought to the San Lazaro Hospital where he died the following day of tetanus infection secondary to stab wound. Accused was charged with murder qualified by treachery. The RTC convicted him of murder and sentenced him to suffer reclusion perpetua. The CA affirmed the conviction.

On appeal, the SC convicted him of slight physical injuries with the aggravating circumstance of treachery. The SC noted that the prosecution did not present evidence of the emergency treatment given at the Tondo Medical Center. In Urbano v. IAC, 241 Phil. 1 (1988), the incubation period for tetanus infection and the length of time interval between the hacking incident and the manifestation of severe tetanus infection created doubts that the victim acquired the severe tetanus infection from the hacking incident. In the case of Villacorta, there had been 22 days interval. If the victim acquired severe tetanus infection from the stabbing, then the symptoms would have appeared a lot sooner than 22 days. Severe tetanus infection has a short incubation period, usually less than 14 days; and those that exhibit symptoms with 2 to 3 days from the injury, have 100% mortality. Ultimately the SC deduced that the victim’s stab wound was merely the remote cause, and its subsequent infection with tetanus might have been the proximate cause of the death. The infection of the victim’s stab wound by tetanus was an efficient intervening cause.

According to the SC, although the charge is for murder, a finding of guilt for the lesser offense of slight physical injuries may be made considering that the latter offense is necessarily included in the former since the essential ingredients of slight physical injuries constitute and form part of those constituting the offense of murder.

Note, in this case treachery as an aggravating circumstance was appreciated. Under Art. 14 (16) of the RPC, there is treachery when the offender commits any of the crimes against the person, employing means, methods, or forms in the execution thereof which tend directly and specially to insure its execution, without risk to himself arising from the defense which the offended party might make. However, according to SC, accused cannot be held liable for attempted or frustrated murder because of failure of the prosecution to establish intent to kill. Accused only used a sharpened barbeque stick and upon hitting the victim, immediately fled the scene. The part of the body hit was not delicate in the sense that instant death can ensue by reason of a single stab wound.

There was no evidence to establish that the victim was incapacitated for labor or required medical attention for more than 9 days. Without such evidence, the offense is only slight physical injuries. Accused was then sentenced to 30 days of arresto menor but since he has been in jail since July 31, 2002, already beyond his imposed sentence, he was ordered released.

People v. Laog, G.R. No. 178321, October 5, 2011, 658 SCRA 654 where the accused was charged in two informations – one for murder and another for rape. The trial court convicted the accused to suffer the penalty of reclusion perpetua in the two informations. According to the Supreme Court, appellant should not have been convicted of the separate crimes of murder and rape. An appeal in a criminal case opens the entire case for review on any question, including one not raised by the parties. The facts alleged and proven clearly show that the crime committed by appellant is rape with homicide, a special complex crime provided under Article 266-B, paragraph 5 of the Revised Penal Code, as amended by Republic Act (R.A.) No. 8353.

In People v. Larrañaga, 421 SCRA 530, the Court explained the concept of a special complex crime, as follows:

A discussion on the nature of special complex crime is imperative. Where the law provides a single penalty for two or more component offenses, the resulting crime is called a special complex crime. Some of the special complex crimes under the Revised Penal Code are (1) robbery with homicide, (2) robbery with rape, (3) kidnapping with serious physical injuries, (4) kidnapping with murder or homicide, and (5) rape with homicide. In a special complex crime, the prosecution must necessarily prove each of the component offenses with the same precision that would be necessary if they were made the subject of separate complaints. As earlier mentioned, R.A. No. 7659 amended Article 267 of the Revised Penal Code by adding thereto this provision: “When the victim is killed or dies as a consequence of the detention, or is raped, or is subjected to torture or dehumanizing acts, the maximum penalty shall be imposed;[“] and that this provision gives rise to a special complex crime. In the cases at bar, particularly Criminal Case No. CBU-45303, the Information specifically alleges that the victim Marijoy was raped “on the occasion and in connection” with her detention and was killed “subsequent thereto and on the occasion thereof.” Considering that the prosecution was able to prove each of the component offenses, appellants should be convicted of the special complex crime of kidnapping and serious illegal detention with homicide and rape. x x x (Emphasis supplied.)

A special complex crime, or more properly, a composite crime, has its own definition and special penalty in the Revised Penal Code, as amended. Justice Regalado, in his Separate Opinion in the case of People v. Barros, 245 SCRA 312, explained that composite crimes are “neither of the same legal basis as nor subject to the rules on complex crimes in Article 48 [of the Revised Penal Code], since they do not consist of a single act giving rise to two or more grave or less grave felonies [compound crimes] nor do they involve an offense being a necessary means to commit another [complex crime proper]. However, just like the regular complex crimes and the present case of aggravated illegal possession of firearms, only a single penalty is imposed for each of such composite crimes although composed of two or more offenses.”

Under Art. 266-A of the RPC, when by reason or on the occasion of rape, homicide is committed, the penalty shall be death. Since Rep. Act No. 9346 prohibits the imposition of the death penalty, the proper penalty should be reclusion perpetua without eligibility for parole. Sec. 3 of RA 9346 states: “Person 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. 4180, otherwise known as the Indeterminate Sentence Law, as amended.”

In Santos v. People, G.R. No. 77429, January 29, 1990, 181 SCRA 487, the accused was charged with estafa. After trial, he was found guilty as charged and sentenced to an indeterminate penalty of from 4 months and 1 day as minimum to 4 years and 2 months as maximum., both of prision correccional. On appeal, the conviction was affirmed but he was found guilty of qualified theft and not estafa and sentenced to 10 years and 1 day of prision mayor as minimum to 14 years and 8 months of reclusion temporal as maximum.

Although the information charged the accused with estafa, the crime committed was theft. It is settled that what controls is not the designation of the offense but the description thereof as alleged in the Informaiton. The offense imputed on the accused contains all the essential elements of theft, to wit: (1) that there was taking of personal property; (2) that said property belongs to another; (3) that the taking be done with intent to gain; (4) that the taking be done without the consent of the owner; and, (5) that the taking be accomplished without the use of violence or intimidation against persons or force upon things.

Theft should not be confused with estafa. According to Aquino in his book on the Revised Penal Code, the principal distinction between the two crimes is that in theft the thing is taken while in estafa the accused receives the property and converts it to his own use or benefit. However, there may be theft even if the accused has possession of the property. If he was only entrusted with the material or physical (natural) or de facto possession of the thing, his misappropriation of the same constitutes theft, but if he has the juridical possession of the thing, his conversion of the same constitutes embezzlement or estafa.

In Villareal v. People, G.R. No. 151258, February 1, 2012, 664 SCRA 519, involving the Lenny Villa hazing incident, the accused were charged of homicide. This incident took place before the 1995 Anti-hazing Law. Thus, the SC concluded that there was no proof beyond reasonable doubt of the existence of malicious intent to inflict physical injuries or animus injuriandi as required in mala in se cases considering the contextual background of Lenny’s death, the unique nature of hazing and absent any law prohibiting hazing.

However, the absence of malicious intent does not automatically mean that the accused fraternity members are ultimately devoid of criminal liability. The collective acts of the fraternity members were tantamount to recklessness, which made the resulting death of Lenny a culpable felony. Thus, 5 accused were found guilty of reckless imprudence resulting in homicide.

M. New Trial or Reconsideration

1. Grounds for New Trial

2. Grounds for Reconsideration

3. Requisites before a new trial may be granted on ground
of newly discovered evidence

4. Effects of granting a new trial or reconsideration

5. Application of Neypes Doctrine in Criminal Cases

N. Appeal

1. Effect of an Appeal

An appeal throws open the entire case for review and may result in the increase of the penalty imposed by the TC – Mercado v. People, G.R. No. 149375, November 26, 2002, 392 SCRA 687, where accused was found guilty of violation of R.A. 6538 or Anti-Carnapping Act of 1972 and sentenced by the RTC to a prison term of 12 years and 1 day, as minimum, to 17 years and 4 months of reclusion temporal, as maximum. Note, RTC should not have used the term “reclusion temporal” because RA 6538 is a special law. On appeal, the CA increased the penalty to 17 years and one day to 30 years, which according to the SC was the correct penalty. The SC nonetheless modified the penalty to 17 years and one day to 22 years for the reason that the act of violence does not merit the imposition of the full penalty.

2. Where to appeal

In Torres v. People, G.R. No. 175074, August 31, 2011, 656 SCRA 486, the accused filed his Notice of Appeal where it was indicated that he was seeking recourse and appealing the decision of the RTC before the Court of Appeals. 5 months thereafter, he filed a Manifestation and Motion acknowledging that he filed the appeal before the wrong tribunal. He prayed that the case be referred to the Sandiganbayan for appropriate action. The CA dismissed the appeal for lack of jurisdiction. According to the SC, the designation of the wrong court does not necessarily affect the validity of the notice of appeal. However, the designation of the proper court should be made within the 15-day period to appeal. Once made within the said period, the designation of the correct appellate court may be allowed even if the records of the case are forwarded to the CA. Otherwise, Sec. 2, Rule 50 of the Rules of Court would apply, which states that an appeal erroneously taken to the Court of Appeals shall not be transferred to the appropriate court, but shall be dismissed outright.

Justice Velasco in his separate concurring opinion said that “Where one’s liberty is at stake, it is fitting, but on a case-to-case basis, that a window for redress should be opened for the accused especially in cases where the accused who is ordinarily familiar with the rules of procedure is prejudiced by the gross mistake or negligence of his counsel. The deprivation of an accused of liberty and/or property should certainly receive the liberal application of the Rules of Court to attain justice and fairness.”

From a judgment of conviction by the Sandiganbayan, where and how do you appeal? In Icdang v. Sandiganbayan, G.R. No. 185960, January 25, 2012, 664 SCRA 252, the SC emphasized that the special civil action of certiorari is not the proper remedy to challenge the judgment of conviction rendered by the SB. The accused therein should have filed a petition for review on certiorari under Rule 45. There are however exceptions to this erroneous mode of appeal. In Crisostomo v. Sandiganbayan, G.R. No. 152398, April 14, 2005, the accused filed a petition for certiorari under Rule 65 assailing the judgment of conviction including the denial of his motion for reconsideration. The SC in the exercise of its judicial discretion treated the petition for certiorari as an appeal from the decision of the SB to prevent the manifest miscarriage of justice in a criminal case involving a capital offense.

3. How appeal taken

4. Effect of appeal by any of several accused

People v. Mantalaba, G.R. No. 186227, July 20, 2011, 654 SCRA 188 – Appellant was 17 years old when the buy-bust operation took place or when the said offense was committed on October 1, 2003 but was no longer a minor at the time of the promulgation of the RTC’s decision on September 14, 2005. While Sec. 38 of Rep. Act 9344 (Juvenile Justice and Welfare Act of 2006) provides that suspension of sentence can still be applied even if the child in conflict with the law is already 18 years of age or more at the time of the pronouncement of his/her guilt, Sec. 40 of the same law limits the said suspension of sentence until the child reaches the maximum of 21. Hence, the appellant, who is now beyond the age of 21 years can no longer avail of the provisions of Sections 38 and 40 of Rep. Act 9344 as to his suspension of sentence because such is already moot and academic.

The SC observed that this would not have happened if the CA, when the case was under its jurisdiction, suspended the sentence of the appellant. The records show that the appellant filed his notice of appeal at the age of 19 in 2005, hence when RA 9344 became effective in 2006, appellant was 20 years old and the case having been elevated to the CA, the latter should have suspended the sentence of the appellant because he was already entitled to the provisions of Sec. 38 of RA 9344, which allows the suspension of sentence of minors regardless of the penalty imposed.

Under Sec. 5 of RA 9165, the penalty is life imprisonment to death. If the offender is a minor, under Sec. 98 of the same Act imposes the penalty of reclusion perpetua to death. Basically, this means that the penalty can now be graduated as the law has adopted the technical nomenclature of penalties provided for in the RPC. The privileged mitigating circumstance of minority may now be appreciated in fixing the penalty that should be imposed. The RTC and CA imposed the penalty of reclusion perpetua without considering the minority of the appellant. Thus, the proper penalty should be one degree lower than reclusion perpetua, which is reclusion temporal. Applying the ISLAW, the minimum penalty should be taken from the penalty next lower in degree which is prision mayor and the maximum penalty shall be taken from the medium period of reclusion temporal, there being no other mitigating circumstance nor aggravating circumstance. The SC then imposed the penalty of 6 years and one day of prision mayor, as minimum, and 14 years, 8 months and 1 day of reclusion temporal, as maximum.

5. Grounds for dismissal of appeal

6. Who may appeal

Philippine Rabbit Bus Lines, Inc. v. People, G.R. No. 147703, April 14, 2004, 427 SCRA 456 – In the absence of any collusion between the accused-employee and the offended party, the judgment of conviction should bind the person who is subsidiarily liable. He cannot appeal to dispute the civil liability fixed in a criminal case without the consent of the accused-employee since that would result in improperly amending, nullifying or defeating the judgment. Subsidiary liability of the employer is incidental to and dependent on the pecuniary civil liability o fthe accused.

7. Withdrawal of appeal

People v. Paradeza, G.R. No. 144590, February 7, 2003, 397 SCRA 151 – Under Rule 50, Section 3 of the 1997 Rules of Civil Procedure, the withdrawal of an appeal is a matter of right before the filing of the appellee’s brief. After that, withdrawal may be allowed in the discretion of the court. Said Rule is applicable to this case pursuant to Rule 124, Section 18 of the 2000 Rules of Criminal Procedure. In the present case, accused-appellant was sentenced to suffer the penalty of reclusion perpetua for rape. He appealed his conviction. Subsequently, he filed through the Public Attorney’s Office motion to withdraw his appeal but this was made only after the OSG had filed the Brief for Appellee. However, the Court had required appellant to file his Reply Brief per its Resolution dated December 10, 2001. It could therefore be said that the accused-appellant had not yet completed the process of filing briefs when he moved to withdraw his appeal, a situation which may call for a more liberal rule. Additionally, it is our impression that from the records of this case, appellant is hardly literate functionally and of very low socio-economic standing as a mere bangus fry catcher. In making his appeal, he is actually wagering his life as against his sentence below, a point not often stressed to or understood by the convict. In any event, we are persuaded that this Court admittedly has the discretion whether to grant or not the withdrawal sought.

The SC explained that a person accused and convicted of an offense may withdraw his appeal not only because he is guilty as charged. There could be other reasons. It could be due to his prior erroneous perception of the applicable provision of law, or of the decision itself. He may fell that to seek a pardon might be the better and faster remedy. Regardless of his reasons, he is within his rights to seek the withdrawal of his appeal. This option should not be closed to the accused except for clearly important substantial reasons of law and policy.

People v. Rocha, G.R. No. 173797, August 31, 2007, 531 SCRA 761 – The accused was sentenced to suffer the penalty of reclusion perpetua for the crime of robbery with homicide. He appealed to the CA. While the case was pending appeal, two of his co-accused withdrew his appeal, which the CA granted. The CA affirmed his judgment of conviction. He appealed to the SC. Subsequently, he moved to withdraw the appeal, which the People opposed arguing that review is mandatory.

According to the SC, the mandatory review is only required for cases where the penalty imposed is death. Where the penalty imposed is reclusion perpetua or life imprisonment, a review of the trial court decision is conducted only when the accused files a notice of appeal. Neither the Decision of this Court in Mateo nor the abolition of the death penalty has changed this. As the penalty imposed by the trial court and the Court of Appeals in the case at bar is reclusion perpetua, the review by the SC is not mandatory and, therefore, the accused-appellants can validly withdraw their appeal. The granting of a Motion to Withdraw Appeal is however addressed to the sound discretion of the Court. After a case has been submitted to the court for decision, the appellant cannot, at his election, withdraw the appeal. In this case, the SC granted the withdrawal of the appeal.

O. Search and Seizure

1. Nature of search warrant

John Doe proceedings – essentially an inquest during which the judge determines if a crime has been committed and by whom

2. Distinguish from warrant of arrest

3. Application for search warrant, where filed

4. Probable Cause

5. Personal examination by judge of the applicant and
witnesses

6. Particularity of place to be searched and things to be
seized

In Del Castillo v. People, G.R. No. 185128, January 30, 2012, 664 SCRA 430, a case involving possession of shabu, the police applied for a search warrant, which the court issued. The SW described the place to be searched which is the residence of the accused. However, the items seized were found in a nipa hut, 20 meters away from the residence of the accused. According to the SC, the confiscated items, having been found in a place other than th one described in the search warrant, can be considered as fruits of an invalid warrantless search, the presentation of which as an evidence is a violation of the accused’s constitutional guaranty against unreasonable searches and seizure. While it is not necessary that the property to be searched or seized should be owned by the person against whom the search warrant is issued, there must be sufficient showing that the property is under the accused’s control or possession. The records however are void of any evidence to show that the accused owns the nipa hut in question nor was it established that he used the said structure as a shop. The TC as well as the CA merely presumed that accused used the said structure due to the presence of electrical materials, the accused being an electrician by profession.

7. Personal property to be seized

8. Exceptions to search warrant requirement

a. Search incidental to lawful arrest

b. Consented Search

c. Search of moving vehicle

d. Check points; body checks in airport

e. Plain view situation

Seizure in plain view – unlawful objects within the plain view of an officer who has the right to be in the position to have that view are subject to seizure and may be presented in evidence. Elements: (1) prior valid intrusion in which the police are legally present in the pursuit of their duties; (2) inadvertently discovered by police who had the right to be there; (3) evidence must be immediately apparent; and, (4) justified seizure without further search.

People v. Aspiras, G.R. Nos. 138382-84, February 12, 2002, 376 SCRA 546 – The accused was convicted of selling marijuana and possession of prohibited drugs found inside his house. The SC affirmed the conviction for selling prohibited drugs but acquitted him for possessing two bricks of marijuana flower tops. While the police had prior justification for intrusion, permitting a warrantless seizure of any piece of evidence incriminating an accused, nonetheless, applying the plain view doctrine, such must be limited to those evidence that the police came across inadvertently. The prosecution failed to show whether or not the plastic bag was transparent that would prove beyond reasonable doubt that the plain view of such plastic bag would readily disclose that its contents are marijuana.

People v. Macalaba, G.R. Nos. 146284-86, January 20, 2003, 395 SCRA 461 – According to the SC, the warrantless arrest of, or warrantless search and seizure conducted on the accused constitute a valid exemption from the warrant requirement. The evidence showed that on the basis of an intelligence information that a carnapped vehicle was driven by the accused who was also a suspect of drug pushing, the members of the CIDG of Laguna went looking for the carnapped car. They spotted the suspected carnapped car, which was indeed driven by the accused. While the accused was fumbling about in his clutch bag for the registration papers of the car, the CIDG agenst saw four transparent sachets of shabu. These sachets of shabu were therefore in plain view of the law enforcers.

Miclat Jr. v. People, G.R. No. 176077, August 31, 2011, 656 SCRA 539 – What constitutes a reasonable or unreasonable warrantless search or seizure is purely a judicial question, determinable from the uniqueness of the circumstances involved, including the purpose of the search or seizure, the presence or absence of probable cause, the manner in which the search and seizure was made, the place or thing searched, and the character of the articles procured.

It is to be noted that petitioner was caught in the act of arranging the heat-sealed plastic sachets in plain sight of PO3 Antonio and he voluntarily surrendered them to him upon learning that he is a police officer. The seizure made by PO3 Antonio of the four plastic sachets from the petitioner was not only incidental to a lawful arrest, but it also falls within the purview of the “plain view” doctrine.

Objects falling in plain view of an officer who has a right to be in a position to have that view are subject to seizure even without a search warrant and may be introduced in evidence. The “plain view” doctrine applies when the following requisites concur: (a) the law enforcement officer in search of the evidence has a prior justification for an intrusion or is in a position from which he can view a particular area; (b) the discovery of evidence in plain view is inadvertent; (c) it is immediately apparent to the officer that the item he observes may be evidence of a crime, contraband or otherwise subject to seizure. The law enforcement officer must lawfully make an initial intrusion or properly be in a position from which he can particularly view the area. In the course of such lawful intrusion, he came inadvertently across a piece of evidence incriminating the accused. The object must be open to eye and hand and its discovery inadvertent. (Emphasis supplied.)

It is clear, therefore, that an object is in plain view if the object itself is plainly exposed to sight. Since petitioner’s arrest is among the exceptions to the rule requiring a warrant before effecting an arrest and the evidence seized from the petitioner was the result of a warrantless search incidental to a lawful arrest, which incidentally was in plain view of the arresting officer, the results of the ensuing search and seizure were admissible in evidence to prove petitioner’s guilt of the offense charged.

f. Stop and Frisk situation

g. Enforcement of Custom Laws

9. Remedies from unlawful search and seizure

People v. Nuevas, G.R. No. 170233, February 22, 2007, 516 SCRA 463 – The SC found that the search and seizure conducted do not fall under the exception. A search incidental to a lawful arrest is sanctioned by the Rules of Court. The arrest must precede the search; the process cannot be reversed as in this case where the search preceded the arrest. Moreover, the accused was not committing a crime in the presence of the police officers. The latter had no personal knowledge of facts indicating that the person to be arrested had committed an offense. Reliable information alone is not sufficient to justify a warrantless arrest under Sec. 5 (a), Rule 113. Legality of an arrest affects only the jurisdiction of the court over the person of the accused.

P. Provisional Remedies

1. Nature

2. Kinds of provisional remedies

Q. Petition for Relief from Judgment

Is a Petition for Relief from Judgment under Rule 38 available in a criminal case? In Hilario v. People, G.R. No. 161070, April 14, 2008, 551 SCRA 191, the accused unassisted by counsel filed a petition for relief from the decision of the RTC convicting him of the crime of homicide. According to his affidavit of merit, at the time of the promulgation of the judgment, he was already confined with the QC jail and was directed to be committed to the National Penitentiary in Muntinlupa. He further claimed that he instructed his counsel to appeal the case but learned that this was not done and the decision then became final. The RTC denied the petition. It was unconvinced that the accused was prevented from filing a notice of appeal. The CA denied the petition for certiorari filed by the accused himself questioning the denial of the petition for relief. The SC in this case remanded the case to the trial court for the proper determination of the merits of the petition for relief from judgment. It held that in criminal cases, the right of an accused to be assisted by a member of the bar is immutable; otherwise there would be a grave denial of due process. Moreover, in all criminal prosecutions, the accused shall have the right to appeal in the manner prescribed by law. The appeal is an essential part of the judicial system and the TCs are advised to proceed with caution so as not to deprive a party of the right to appeal and instructed that every party-litigant should be afforded the amplest opportunity for the proper and just disposition of his cause, freed from the restraints of technicalities. While this right is statutory, once it is granted by law, however, its suppression would be a violation of a due process, a right guaranteed by the Constitution.

In Basco v. CA, G.R. No. 125290, August 9, 2000, 337 SCRA 472, the accused was convicted of Qualified Illegal Possession of Firearm and violation of the Comelec gun ban. He was sentenced to suffer the penalty of reclusion perpetua in the first case. His counsel filed a motion for reconsideration but failed to indicate the date and time of the hearing as required by the rules. When counsel realized his mistake, he filed a Notification and Manifestation. The TC however considered the defective motion for reconsideration a mere scrap of paper and considered the decision final and executory. The accused then filed a petition for relief from judgment, which was denied by the TC. Accused then appealed to the CA, which dismissed the appeal for being improper. He then went to the SC on petition for review.

This case was decided under the old rules wherein a judgment denying relief under Rule 38 was appealable to the CA. Under the present rules, no appeal may be taken from an order denying a petition for relief or any similar motion seeking relief from judgment (see Sec. 1, Rule 41). The SC explained that the CA erred in dismissing the appeal.

In this case, it is petitioner’s life and liberty that is at stake. The trial court has sentenced him to suffer the penalty of reclusion perpetua and his conviction attained finality on the basis of mere technicality. It is but just, therefore, that petitioner be given the opportunity to defend himself and pursue his appeal. To do otherwise would be tantamount to grave injustice. A relaxation of the procedural rules, considering the particular circumstances herein, is justified.

The SC further held that considering that there is sufficient evidence before it to enable it to resolve the fundamental issues, it dispensed with the regular procedure of remanding the case to the lower court, in order to avoid further delays in the resolution of the case.

VYE’s COMMENT: The applicability of Rule 38 in criminal cases should be viewed together with Sec. 6 of Rule 120 on promulgation of judgment. The judgment is promulgated by reading it in the presence of the accused and any judge of the court in which it was rendered. If the judgment is for conviction and the accused failed to appear at the scheduled date of promulgation of judgment without justifiable cause, “he shall lose the remedies available in these rules against the judgment and the court shall order his arrest. Within fifteen (15) days from promulgation of judgment, however, the accused may surrender and file a motion for leave of court to avail of these remedies. He shall state the reasons for his absence at the scheduled promulgation and if he proves that his absence was for a justifiable cause, he shall be allowed to avail of said remedies within fifteen (15) days from notice.”

R. Rule on DNA Evidence

Under Sec. 6 of the Rule on DNA Evidence, post-conviction DNA testing may be available without need of prior court order to the prosecution or any person convicted by final and executory judgment provided that (a) a biological sample exists, (b) such sample is relevant to the case, and (c) the testing would probably result in the reversal or modification of the judgment of conviction.

Under Sec. 10, in case the results are favorable to the convict, his remedy is for him or the prosecution to file a petition for a writ of habeas corpus in the court of origin. In case the court after due hearing finds the petition to be meritorious, it shall reverse or modify the judgment of conviction and order the release of the convict, unless continued detention is justified for a lawful cause.

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? Date of last revision, October 15, 2012
?? All text in red are comments/opinion of Atty. Eleazar.
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