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People v.

Leachon | GR 108725 | 25 September1998

FACTS: The provincial prosecutor of Occidental Mindoro filed two separate infomations for
violation of PD 772 (Anti-Squatting Law) against Noli hablo, Edmundo Mapindan and Diego
Escala before the RTC of Occidental Mindoro presided over by the respondent.
In trial, the presentation of evidence of the prosecution rested the cases; A year after the
prosecution has rested, respondent Judge issued an order dismissing the said cases motu
proprio based on lack of jurisdiction. Petitioners appealed. The CA reversed the Order of
dismissal, ordering continuation of trial of the criminal cases.
Instead of conducting trial, the respondent dismissed the cases motu proprio again, opining that
PD 772 is rendered obsolete and deemed repealed by Sections 9 and 10 of Article XIII of the
1987 Constitution, which provides that urban or rural poor dwellers shall not be evicted nor
their dwellings demolished except in accordance with law and in a just and humane manner.
Motion for reconsideration was denied hence, this petition.
ISSUE: Whether the respondent judge acted with grave abuse of discretion amounting to lack or
excess of jurisdiction in dismissing subject criminal cases for violation of the Anti-Squatting
Law, and in declaring the said law as repugnant to the provisions stating that demolition of
dwellings must be in accordance with law and in a just and humane manner.
RULING: No. In dismissing subject criminal cases for anti-squatting, respondent Judge formed
judgments based on logic that if all the accused in these cases were convicted and ordered
evicted, it will run counter to the said specific constitutional provisions because the conviction
and eviction will not be in a just and humane manner as the government has not yet undertaken
the resettlement of urban and rural dwellers (referring to all accused in the cases at bar) and
neither has the government consulted all the accused as to where they should be relocated.
From the aforequoted portion of the questioned disposition below, it can be gleaned that the
reason of respondent Judge in dismissing subject cases is that the eviction of the accused was not
effected in a just and humane manner as the government has not yet established a resettlement
area for the accused, and those who would be evicted have not been consulted as to the place of
their relocation. The import of the Order of dismissal under scrutiny is that- should the eviction
be in a just and humane manner, the same shall be valid and upheld.
The Court holds that the respondent judge did not err in so construing the aforecited
constitutional provision. Under the Constitution, what makes the eviction and demolition of
urban or rural poor dwellers illegal or unlawful is when the same are not done in accordance with
law and in a just and humane manner.
In the case at bar, the respondent Judge dismissed subject cases motu proprio, after the
prosecution had rested the same and without giving the three accused an opportunity to present
their evidence. What is more, there is no showing that the issue of constitutionality of P. D. 772
was ever posed by the accused. Consequently, such an issue cannot be given due course for the
simple reason that it was not raised by the proper party at the earliest opportunity.