RECENT JURISPRUDENCE – REMEDIAL LAW
PEOPLE OF THE PHILIPPINES, THE SECRETARY OF JUSTICE, DIRECTOR GENERAL OF THEPHILIPPINE NATIONAL POLICE, CHIEF STATE PROSECUTOR JOVENCITO ZUÑO, STATE PROSECUTORS PETER L. ONG and RUBEN A. ZACARIAS; 2ND ASSISTANT CITY PROSECUTOR CONRADO M. JAMOLIN and CITY PROSECUTOR OF QUEZON CITY CLARO ARELLANO v. PANFILO M. LACSON G.R. No. 149453, 07 October 2003, (as related to SC Decisions on April 1, 2003 and May 28, 2002) En Banc (Callejo Sr., J.) 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. 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. On May 18, 1995, then PNP Director-General Recaredo Sarmiento II announced, in a press conference, the killing of eleven (11) members of the Kuratong Baleleng Gang (KBG) in a shootout with police elements near the fly-over along Commonwealth Avenue, Quezon City at about 4:00 A.M. that day. Delos Reyes claimed that the police team arrested the eleven (11) gang members in early morning of May 18, 1995 at the gang’s safe house in Superville Subdivision, Parañaque; that after their arrest, the gang members were made to board two vans, their hands tied behind their backs, and brought initially to Camp Crame where a decision to summarily execute them was made, and later to Commonwealth Avenue where they were shot to death by elements of ABRITFG. The ABRITFG is a composite police team called the Anti-Bank Robbery and Intelligence Task Force Group (ABRITFG) composed of elements of the National Capital Region Command (NCRC) and headed by Chief Superintendent Jewel Canson; Traffic Management Command, headed by Senior Superintendent Francisco Subia, Jr.; Presidential Anti-Crime Commission (PACC), headed by Chief Superintendent Panfilo M. Lacson; Central Police District Command, headed by Chief Superintendent Ricardo de Leon; and Criminal Investigation Command (CIC), headed by Chief Superintendent Romeo Acop. However, there were assertions that the killing was a rubout and not a shootout, hence an investigation was conducted. On June 1, 1995, PNP Director for Investigation, filed murder charges with the Office of the Ombudsman against ninety-seven (97) officers and personnel of ABRITFG. The next-of-kin of the slain KBG members also filed murder charges against the same officers and personnel. Ombudsman filed before the Sandiganbayan eleven (11) Informations for MURDER, docketed against respondent Panfilo M. Lacson and twenty-five (25) other accused. All twenty-six (26) of them were charged as principals. Amended Informations were filed against the same twenty-six (26) suspects but the participation of respondent Lacson was downgraded from principal to accessory. With the downgrading of charges against him, respondent Lacson questioned the jurisdiction of the Sandiganbayan to hear the criminal cases as none of the “principal” accused in the Amended
U.S.T. Law Review, Volume XLVIII, January – December 2004
7975 then prevailing. Accordingly. and (3) dismiss the cases should the trial court find lack of probable cause. while agreeing that with the amendment the case should go to the Sandiganbayan . Jr. The Ombudsman then cited the amendment to RA 7975 by RA 8249 which deleted the word principal as qualifying the participation of the public official. Q-99-81679 to Q-99-81689 ( the previous cases ) as “provisional dismissal. Volume XLVIII. granted the petition of the Republic stating that “in light of the lack of or the conflicting evidence on the various requirements to determine the applicability of Section 8. On May 28. Supreme Court. now Associate Justice of the Court of Appeals. 2001. Wenceslao Agnir. the twenty-six (26) accused. as required by R.RECENT JURISPRUDENCE – REMEDIAL LAW
Informations was a government official with a Salary Grade (SG) 27 or higher.” and considered Criminal Cases Nos. respondent Lacson filed before the Court of Appeals a petition for certiorari. including respondent Lacson. the Sandiganbayan ordered the cases transferred to the Regional Trial Court. some prosecution witnesses recanted their affidavits which implicated respondent Lacson in the murder of the KBG members while others also executed their respective affidavits of desistance declaring that they were no longer interested to prosecute these cases. The
U.S. A. Judge Agnir issued a Resolution dismissing criminal cases. A. Due to these developments. 2002. The new Informations charged as principals thirty-four (34) people. Meanwhile. 01-101102 to 01-101112. it dismissed the criminal cases against the respondent. in a Resolution dated as such. On the strength of these new evidence. Fundamental fairness requires that both the prosecution and the respondent Lacson should be afforded the opportunity to be heard and to adduce evidence on the presence or absence of the predicate facts upon which the application of the new rule depends. 2000. citing Section 2 of R. On March 27. this Court is not in a position to rule whether or not the re-filing of the cases for multiple murder against respondent Lacson should be enjoined. Abelardo Ramos regarding the Kuratong Baleleng incident for preliminary investigation. The cases were raffled off to Branch 81 of the Regional Trial Court of Quezon City. then presided by Judge. Rule 117 of the 2000 Revised Rules of Criminal Procedure. Yu and P/S Insp. PNP Director Leandro R. nonetheless ordered the transfer of the criminal cases to the Regional Trial Court on the ground that the Amended Informations for murder failed to indicate that the offenses charged therein were committed in relation to. Mendoza indorsed to the Department of Justice the new affidavits of P/Insp. Before the accused could be arraigned. No. On August 24. Applying Section 8. 2001. Ysmael S. including respondent Lacson and his twenty-five (25) other co-accused in the previous cases. They involve disputed facts and arguable questions of law. January – December 2004
.T. 1999. the official functions of the respondent. amendments on the Rules of Court as to the Criminal Procedure were being deliberated and the modified Rules on Criminal Procedure took effect on December 1. on June 6. 8249. the cases were remanded to RTC Quezon City. the Court of Appeals (Special Third Division). eleven (11) Informations for murder were filed before the Regional Trial Court of Quezon City and were docketed as Criminal Cases Nos. Law Review. No. (2) hold in abeyance the issuance of the warrants. the Supreme Court. On March 29. It characterized the termination of Criminal Cases Nos. The reception of evidence on these various issues cannot be done in this Court but before the trial cour. Hence. or in discharge of. On the same day. 01-101102 to 01-101112 as mere revivals of the same. rendered the now assailed Decision. Rule 117. filed five separate but identical motions to (1) make a judicial determination of the existence of probable cause for the issuance of warrants of arrest. 2001.
the latest En Banc Resolution was promulgated which denied the omnibus motion and motion to set the case for oral arguments. Rule 117) applies in criminal cases 01-101101 to 01-101112. the public prosecutor is served with a copy of the order of provisional dismissal of the case. Hence. The Resolution was prepared by Justice Romeo Callejo Sr. 2003. in a Resolution . 2003. the Supreme Court ordered the criminal cases be re-raffled to one of the branches of the Regional Trial Court of Quezon City to hear and decide the case. namely: 1. the prosecution with the express conformity of the accused or the accused moves for a provisional (sin perjuicio) dismissal of the case. the court issues an order granting the motion and dismissing the case provisionally. 3. 2003 Quezon City Regional Trial Court Judge Theresa Yadao dismissed the multiple murder case against Lacson and 33 other accused citing “manifest error” made by the prosecution. or both the prosecution and the accused move for a provisional dismissal of the case.T. January – December 2004
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petitioners then filed a petition for reconsideration contending that there was no provisional dismissal and that Rule 117 Sec 8 cannot be given retroactive application. the offended party is notified of the motion for a provisional dismissal of the case. the respondent is burdened to establish the essential requisites thereof. It was here where the court finally resolved the issues and held that Sec 8 of Rule 117 will not apply to Criminal Cases Nos. Whether Sec 8 Rule 117 be applied retroactively from March 1999 dismissal by Judge Agnir or prospectively from the date of its effectivity on December 2001. 4. HELD: Having invoked said rule before the petitioners-panel of prosecutors and before the Court of Appeals. 01-101102 to 01-101112 because it was not proven that the respondent Lacson gave consent to the dismissal of such cases and that the heirs of the victims were notified. the case was re-raffled to the sala of Judge Yadao. the Supreme Court favored the petitioners. 2. Volume XLVIII. Whether or not the rules on Provisional Dismissal (The Revised Rules of Criminal Procedure Sec 8. assuming that the said rule applies. On November 12. 2. ISSUES: 1. and denied with finality Lacson’s motion for reconsideration.S. On April 3. On October 7. The respondent also filed an omnibus motion asking the inhibition of Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo’s appointed SC justices and a motion to set the case for oral arguments. to whom the Lacson case was originally assigned. UPDATE: After the Oct 3. Also. it would be applied prospectively and not retroactively. Law Review.
U. 2003 SC Resolution. Whether or not the respondent’s motion calling for the inhibitions of Arroyo-appointed Supreme Court Justices should be granted. He prepared the draft for the reason that he was the one who replaced Ret. This time it was the turn of respondent Lacson to file his motion for reconsideration. 3. Justice De Leon.
While the respondent asserts that the rule may be applied retroactively since there is no substantive right of the State that may be impaired since the State’s witnesses were ready. Zamboanga del Norte or Palompon. the respondent merely filed a motion for judicial determination of probable cause and for examination of prosecution witnesses alleging that under Article III. on the other hand. The State can thus revive or refile Criminal Cases Nos. he himself moved for the dismissal of the cases and that the heirs of the victims were notified through the public and private prosecutors since the prosecutors were present during the March 22. 1999. through counsel. An admission in open court is a judicial admission. A judicial admission is a formal statement made either by a party or his or her attorney. 1999. insists that as found by Judge Agnir. and unduly impair. even admitted that despite his plea for equitable relief in his motion for a judicial determination of probable cause in the RTC. issued his resolution.
U. 1999 hearing wherein respondent moved for the judicial determination of probable cause. 1999 and set it for hearing on March 22. Section 2 of the Constitution.RECENT JURISPRUDENCE – REMEDIAL LAW
Petitioners contend that it will not apply since the dismissal of the cases was without the consent of herein respondent Lacson and that there were no notices given to the heirs of the victims which are conditions sine qua non for the application of the said rule. Q-9981679 to Q-99-81689. In this case. Irrefragably.S. Leyte. There is as well no proof in the records that the public prosecutor notified the heirs of the victims of said motion or of the hearing thereof on March 22. the records do not show that notices thereof were separately given to the heirs of the victims or that subpoenae were issued to and received by them. Respondent. the prosecution did not file any motion for the provisional dismissal of the said criminal cases. He asserted that the judge did not even require him to agree to a provisional dismissal of the cases. Volume XLVIII. the State is not barred by the time limit set forth in the second paragraph of Section 8 of Rule 117 of the Revised Rules of Criminal Procedure. including admissions in pleadings made by a party. Respondent filed his motion only on March 17. including those who executed their affidavits of desistance who were residents of Dipolog City or Piñan. Law Review. It may occur at any point during the litigation process. was that warrants for his arrest be withheld pending a finding of probable cause. The respondent insisted that the only relief he prayed for before Judge Agnir. reduce. Jr. It is a voluntary concession of fact by a party or a party’s attorney during such judicial proceedings. As to notice the facts show that the heirs of the victims were not notified thereof prior to the hearing on said motion on March 22. Q-99-81679 to Q-99-81689 or file new Informations for multiple murder against the respondent. January – December 2004
. For his part. dismissed Criminal Cases Nos. in the course of judicial proceeding which removes an admitted fact from the field of controversy. it would violate the right of the People to due process. The respondent. he did not agree to a provisional dismissal of the cases.T. A judicial admission binds the client even if made by his counsel. the respondent has failed to prove that the first and second requisites of the first paragraph of the new rule were present when Judge Agnir. Jr. Jr. Since the conditions sine qua non for the application of the new rule were not present when Judge Agnir. willing and able to provide their testimony and that the State has more than reasonable time to indict him when the rule took effect on December 2000. and diminish the State’s substantive right to prosecute the accused. Although the public prosecutor was served with a copy of the motion. The State says that if it will be applied retroactively. 1999 or barely five days from the filing thereof.
so that the lapse of the time-bar operates to extinguish the right of the State to prosecute the accused. and a surrender by the sovereign of its right to prosecute or of its right to prosecute at its discretion. The period is short of the twoyear period fixed under the new rule. not for the accused only. It took into account the substantial rights of both the State and of the accused to due process. The fact that procedural statutes may somehow affect the litigants’ rights may not preclude their retroactive application to pending actions. unreasonable compared to the periods under Article 90 of the Revised Penal Code. it intended the new rule to be applied prospectively and not retroactively.S. Upon the lapse of the timeline under the new rule. if the time limit is applied prospectively. the State would have two years from December 1. dismissed Criminal Cases Nos. oppressive. Jr. the State would have only one year and three months or until March 31. for if the intention of the Court were otherwise. the rule cannot be applied retroactively in this case. albeit disputably. However. The time-bar under the new rule does not reduce the periods under Article 90 of the Revised Penal Code. It has been held that “a person has no vested right in any particular remedy. The dismissal becomes ipso facto permanent. when the Court approved Section 8. and wrongful results in the administration of justice. nor arise from. If the Court applied the new time-bar retroactively. a substantive law. However. On the other hand. The new rule took effect on December 1. The time-bar under the new rule was fixed by the Court to excise the malaise that plagued the administration of the criminal justice system for the benefit of the State and the accused. On the other hand. The reason is that as a general rule no vested right may attach to. The time-bar may appear.T. The periods fixed under such statutes are jurisdictional and are essential elements of the offenses covered. 2000. Thus. It is but a limitation of the right of the State to revive a criminal case against the accused after the Information had been filed but subsequently provisionally dismissed with the express consent of the accused. Nor is the retroactive application of procedural statutes constitutionally objectionable. of any other than the existing rules of procedure. unreasonable. it would defeat
U. In this case. Q99-81679 to Q-99-81689 on March 29. 2000 or until December 1. the time-bar under Section 8 of Rule 117 is akin to a special procedural limitation qualifying the right of the State to prosecute making the time-bar an essence of the given right or as an inherent part thereof. the State is presumed. The retroactive application of procedural laws is not violative of any right of a person who may feel that he is adversely affected. 2001 within which to revive these criminal cases. and a litigant cannot insist on the application to the trial of his case. the State had considerably less than two years to do so. The new rule is not unreasonable to both the State and the accused. Judge Agnir. whether civil or criminal. 2002 within which to revive the cases. in fixing the time-bar. 1999. injurious. The Court agrees with the petitioners that to apply the time-bar retroactively is inconsistent with the intendment of the new rule. January – December 2004
. Volume XLVIII. procedural laws. Statutes regulating the procedure of the courts will be construed as applicable to actions pending and undetermined at the time of their passage. on first impression. Instead of giving the State two years to revive provisionally dismissed cases. to have abandoned or waived its right to revive the case and prosecute the accused. This is in consonance with the intendment of the new rule in fixing the time-bar and thus prevent injustice to the State and avoid absurd.RECENT JURISPRUDENCE – REMEDIAL LAW
Statutes of limitations are construed as acts of grace. Law Review. Procedural laws are retroactive in that sense and to that extent. the Court balanced the societal interests and those of the accused for the orderly and speedy disposition of criminal cases with minimum prejudice to the State and the accused.
prepared the draft of the April 1. Sr. It bears stressing that transcripts of stenographic notes taken during the February 18. whatever their station in life may be. the Court took into consideration not only the interests of the respondent but all other accused. 99-8-09 is misplaced. Law Review.. and Adolfo S. and Adolfo S. It would be the apex of injustice to hold that Section 8 had a platonic or ideal existence before it was approved by the Court. The past cannot be erased by a capricious retroactive application of the new rule. It must be stressed that the institution and prosecution of criminal cases are governed by existing rules and not by rules yet to exist. For cases assigned to the Court En Banc. It would be a denial of the State’s right to due process and a travesty of justice for the Court to apply the new rule retroactively in the present case as the respondent insists.T. Sr. relevant precedents must be considered and the interests that are at stake. in holding that the new rule has prospective and not retroactive application. 2002 oral arguments and after the case at bar was submitted for the decision of the Court. Romeo J. namely. to give the State a period of two years from notice of the provisional dismissal of criminal cases with the express consent of the accused. The interest of the State in the speedy. In this case. Justices Conchita Carpio-Morales. Jr. 2002 oral arguments before the Court. the policy of the Court had always been and still is. private interests. Azcuna were not yet members of the Court during the February 18. Volume XLVIII. on March 29. The respondent’s reliance on Supreme Court Circular No. 2002 Resolution of the Court or of the instant motion for reconsideration. Ma. This is the reason why Justice Callejo. 99-8-09-SC specifically provides that it applies only to the divisions of the Court. impartial and inexpensive disposition of criminal cases was likewise considered.S. Romeo J. The respondent points out that the following members of the Court ( Renato Corona. In determining what fundamental fairness consists of in a particular situation. it should likewise apply to this case and accordingly the case should be unloaded by Callejo and be re-raffled to other SC justice. disqualified to prepare the resolution of the Court on the motion for reconsideration of the respondent.
U. Although Justices Conchita Carpio-Morales. 2003 Resolution of the Court. Neither is Justice Callejo. Alicia Austria-Martinez. Romeo Callejo and Adolfo Azcuna ) were appointed by President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo after the February 19. the said circular is applicable only to motions for reconsideration in cases assigned to the Divisions of the Court. January – December 2004
. nonetheless they were not disqualified to participate in the deliberations on the petitioner’s motion for reconsideration of the May 28.RECENT JURISPRUDENCE – REMEDIAL LAW
the very purpose for which it was intended. if the ponente is no longer with the Court. Callejo. The Court also ruled that there was no need for its newest members to inhibit themselves from participating in the deliberation of the respondent’s Motion for Reconsideration. He asserts that although A. As admitted by the respondent. his replacement will act upon the motion for reconsideration of a party and participate in the deliberations thereof. Sr. 2002 hearing and oral arguments of the parties are parts of the records of this case. Due process requires fundamental fairness. unjust and oppressive consequences to the State and to the victims of crimes and their heirs. Azcuna were already members of the Court. Conchita Morales. 1999 before the new rule took effect on December 1.M. When the Court deliberated on petitioners’ motion for reconsideration. who had replaced retired Justice De Leon. as well as the interests of the government must be assessed. No. A retroactive application of the time-bar will result in absurd. Sr. Callejo. considering that the criminal cases were provisionally dismissed by Judge Agnir. 2000.
2003. 2003 SC En banc decision. This is the reason why Justice Callejo.RECENT JURISPRUDENCE – REMEDIAL LAW
and available to the parties and their counsels. the respondent sought the inhibition of Justices Conchita C. Case law has it that a motion for disqualification must be denied when filed after a member of the Court has already given an opinion on the merits of the case. Dispositive part of the October 7. who had replaced retired Justice De Leon. exclusively to try and decide heinous crimes. 99-8-09 is misplaced. Volume XLVIII. Law Review. 2003 Resolution of the Court. 01-101102 to 01-101112 and to RE-RAFFLE the same with dispatch to one of the branches of the Regional Trial Court of Quezon City designated as a special court.T.
U. Morales and Adolfo S. respondent Panfilo M. prepared the draft of the April 1. if the ponente is no longer with the Court.S. Azcuna only after they had already concurred in the Court’s Resolution dated April 1. As admitted by the respondent. Besides. The Executive Judge of the Regional Trial Court of Quezon City is hereby DIRECTED to CONSOLIDATE Criminal Cases Nos. For cases assigned to the Court En Banc. The respondent’s Motion for Reconsideration and its Supplement are DENIED WITH FINALITY. The respondent’s reliance on Supreme Court Circular No. (The latest SC decision before the criminal cases were re-raffled to the Branch 81 RTC Quezon City presided by Judge Yadao): IN LIGHT OF ALL THE FOREGOING. only to raise an objection of this sort after a decision has been rendered. January – December 2004
. the rationale being that a litigant cannot be permitted to speculate upon the action of the Court. Sr. his replacement will act upon the motion for reconsideration of a party and participate in the deliberations thereof. Lacson’s Omnibus Motion and Motion to Set for Oral Arguments are DENIED. the said circular is applicable only to motions for reconsideration in cases assigned to the Divisions of the Court. the policy of the Court had always been and still is.