Acquittal; appeal. In this jurisdiction, after trial on the merits, an acquittal is immediately final and cannot be appealed on the ground of double jeopardy. The only exception where double jeopardy cannot be invoked is where there is a finding of mistrial resulting in a denial of due process. Certiorari will not be issued to cure errors by the trial court in its appreciation of the evidence of the parties, and its conclusions anchored on the said findings and its conclusions of law. People of the Philippines vs. Hon. Sandiganbayan, Abelardo P. Panlaqui, et al., G.R. No. 173396, September 22, 2010. Acquittal; denial of due process. The instant case involves an alleged error of judgment, not an error of jurisdiction. Petitioner has not convincingly shown that the prosecution has indeed been deprived of due process of law. There is no showing that the trial court hampered the prosecution’s presentation of evidence in any way. On the contrary, the prosecution was given ample opportunity to present its ten witnesses and all necessary documentary evidence. The case was only submitted for decision after the parties had duly rested their case. Respondent trial court clearly stated in its decision which pieces of evidence led it to its conclusion that the project was actually undertaken, justifying payment to the contractor. Clearly, petitioner failed to show that there was mistrial resulting in denial of due process. People of the Philippines vs. Hon. Sandiganbayan, Abelardo P. Panlaqui, et al., G.R. No. 173396, September 22, 2010.
September 20, 2010. Arraignment; pendency of second motion for reconsideration with the Ombudsman. The Supreme Court rejected petitioner’s contention that his second motion for reconsideration before the Ombudsman should have suspended his arraignment. According to the Supreme Court, the Rules of Procedure of the Ombudsman allows the filing of an information in court pending a motion for reconsideration of the finding of a probable cause; hence, if the filing of a motion for reconsideration of the resolution finding probable cause cannot bar the filing of the corresponding information, then neither can it bar the arraignment of the accused, which in the normal course of criminal procedure logically follows the filing of the information. Brig Gen. (Ret.) Jose Ramiscal, Jr. vs. Sandiganbayan and People of the Philippines, G.R. No. 172476-99.,September 15, 2010.
Arraignment; pendency of second motion for reconsideration with the Ombudsman. An arraignment is that stage where, in the mode and manner required by the Rules, an accused, for the first time, is granted the opportunity to know the precise charge that confronts him. Under Section 7 of Republic Act No. 8493, otherwise known as the Speedy Trial Act of 1998, the court must proceed with the arraignment of an accused within 30 days from the filing of the information or from the date the accused has appeared before the court in which the charge is pending, whichever is later. Brig Gen. (Ret.) Jose Ramiscal, Jr. vs. Sandiganbayan and People of Appeal; failure to file appellant’s brief. Under Sec. 8, Rule the Philippines, G.R. No. 172476-99.,September 15, 124 of the Rules of Court, a criminal case may be 2010. dismissed by the CA motu proprio and with notice to the appellant if the latter fails to file his brief within the Arraignment; pendency of second motion for prescribed time. The phrase “with notice to the appellant” reconsideration with the Ombudsman. Petitioner failed to means that a notice must first be furnished the appellant show any of the grounds for suspension of arraignment as to show cause why his appeal should not be dismissed. provided under Section 11, Rule 116 of the Rules of Court, The purpose of such a notice is to give an appellant the which applies suppletorily in matters not provided under opportunity to state the reasons, if any, why the appeal the Rules of Procedure of the Office of the Ombudsman or should not be dismissed because of such failure, in order the Revised Internal Rules of the Sandiganbayan. Thus, that the appellate court may determine whether or not the the Sandiganbayan committed no error when it proceeded reasons, if given, are satisfactory. Gregorio Dimarucot y with petitioner’s arraignment, as mandated by Section 7 Garcia vs. People of the Philippines, G.R. No. of RA 8493. Brig Gen. (Ret.) Jose Ramiscal, Jr. vs. 183975, September 20, 2010. Sandiganbayan and People of the Philippines, G.R. Appeal; failure to file appellant’s brief. In the case at bar, No. 172476-99.,September 15, 2010 there is no showing that petitioner was served with a notice requiring him to show cause why his appeal should Evidence; ballistics report. A ballistic report serves only as not be dismissed for failure to file appellant’s brief. a guide for the courts in considering the ultimate facts of Notwithstanding such absence of notice to the appellant, the case. It would be indispensable if there are no credible no grave abuse of discretion was committed by the CA in eyewitnesses to the crime inasmuch as it is corroborative considering the appeal abandoned with the failure of in nature. The presentation of weapons or the slugs and petitioner to file his appeal brief despite four (4) bullets used and ballistic examination are not extensions granted to him and non-compliance to date. prerequisites for conviction. The corpus delicti and the Dismissal of appeal by the appellate court sans notice to positive identification of accused-appellant as the the accused for failure to prosecute by itself is not an perpetrator of the crime are more than enough to sustain indication of grave abuse. Thus, although it does not his conviction. Lenido Lumanog, et al. vs. People of appear that the appellate court has given the appellant the Philippines/Cesar Fortuna vs. People of the such notice before dismissing the appeal, if the appellant Philippines/People of the Philippines vs. SPO2 Cesar has filed a motion for reconsideration of, or to set aside, Fortuna y Abudo, et al., G.R. Nos. 182555/G.R. No. the order dismissing the appeal, in which he stated the 185123/G.R. No. 187745, September 7, 2010 reasons why he failed to file his brief on time and the appellate court denied the motion after considering said Evidence; ballistics report. Even without a ballistic report, reasons, the dismissal was held proper. Likewise, where the positive identification by prosecution witnesses is the appeal was dismissed without prior notice, but the more than sufficient to prove accused’s guilt beyond appellant took no steps either by himself or through reasonable doubt. In the instant case, since the identity of counsel to have the appeal reinstated, such an attitude of the assailant has been sufficiently established, a ballistic indifference and inaction amounts to his abandonment report on the slugs can be dispensed with in proving and renunciation of the right granted to him by law to petitioner’s guilt beyond reasonable doubt. Lenido prosecute his appeal. Gregorio Dimarucot y Garcia vs. Lumanog, et al. vs. People of the Philippines/Cesar People of the Philippines, G.R. No. 183975, Fortuna vs. People of the Philippines/People of the
Philippines vs. SPO2 Cesar Fortuna y Abudo, et al., Babanggol and Cesar Naranjo, G.R. No. 181422. G.R. Nos. 182555/G.R. No. 185123/G.R. No. 187745, September 15, 2010 September 7, 2010 Evidence; lack of formal offer of evidence. The High Court Evidence; credibility of witness. The determination of the modified the accused’s conviction from qualified rape to credibility of the offended party’s testimony is the most simple rape since both medical certificate and AAA’s birth basic consideration in every prosecution for rape. The lone certificate, although marked as exhibits during the pretestimony of the victim, if credible, is sufficient to sustain trial, were not formally offered in evidence pursuant to a verdict of conviction. As in most rape cases, the ultimate Sec. 34, Rule 132 of the Rules of Court. According to the issue in this case is credibility. In this regard, when the Court, a formal offer is necessary because judges are issue is one of credibility of witnesses, appellate courts mandated to rest their findings of facts and their judgment will generally not disturb the findings of the trial court, only and strictly upon the evidence offered by the parties considering that the latter is in a better position to decide at the trial. Its function is to enable the trial judge to know the question as it heard the witnesses themselves and the purpose or purposes for which the proponent is observed their deportment and manner of testifying presenting the evidence. On the other hand, this allows during trial. The exceptions to the rule are when such opposing parties to examine the evidence and object to its evaluation was reached arbitrarily, or when the trial court admissibility. People of the Philippines vs. Saturnino overlooked, misunderstood or misapplied some facts or Villanueva Vs. General Milling Corporation, G.R. No. circumstance of weight and substance which could affect 181829, September 1, 2010 the result of the case. None of these circumstances are present in the case at bar to warrant its exception from Evidence; lack of formal offer of evidence. Documents the coverage of this rule. People of the Philippines vs. which may have been identified and marked as exhibits Miguelito Malana y Lardisabay, G.R. No. 185716. during pre-trial or trial but which were not formally offered September 29, 2010 in evidence cannot in any manner be treated as evidence. Neither can such unrecognized proof be assigned any Evidence; credibility of witness. The prosecution has the evidentiary weight and value pursuant to the express exclusive prerogative to determine whom to present as mandate that ‘the court shall consider no evidence which witnesses. It need not present each and every witness as has not been formally offered.’ Consequently, as in this long as it meets the quantum of proof necessary to case, any evidence that has not been offered shall be establish the guilt of the accused beyond reasonable excluded and rejected. People of the Philippines vs. doubt. That AAA’s brother was not presented does not Saturnino Villanueva Vs. General Milling thus infirm the case for the prosecution for, among other Corporation, G.R. No. 181829, September 1, 2010 things, his testimony would have been merely corroborative. It need not be underlined that the weight Evidence; state witness. Turning an accused into a state and sufficiency of evidence are determined by the witness is not a magic formula that cures all the credibility, nature, and quality of the testimony. That deficiencies in the prosecution’s evidence. The state explains why an accused in rape cases may be convicted witness cannot simply allege everything left unproved and solely on the basis of the uncorroborated testimony of the automatically produce a conviction of the crime charged victim where such testimony is clear, positive, convincing against the remaining accused. Corroboration of the and consistent with human nature and the normal course account of the state witness is key. It is in fact a of things, as in AAA’s testimony in this case. People of requirement for the discharge of an accused to be a state the Philippines vs. Paterno Lasanas, G.R. No. witness under Section 17, Rule 119 of the Rules of Court 183829. September 6, 2010 that the testimony to be given can be substantially corroborated in its material points. People of the Evidence; conspiracy. The Supreme Court agreed with Philippines vs. Feliciano Anabe y Capillan, G.R. No. appellant Naranjo that the prosecution in this case failed 179033, September 6, 2010 to prove beyond reasonable doubt that he acted in conspiracy with the other accused. The buy-bust operation Evidence; state witness. As an exception to the general was supposedly set-up based on the police informant’s rule requiring corroboration, the uncorroborated testimony report of illegal activities of “Acas and Arnel.” But the of a state witness may be sufficient when it is shown to be evidence shows that the informant was not familiar with sincere in itself because it is given unhesitatingly and in a Naranjo. Indeed, the informant got to identify only straightforward manner and full of details which, by their Babanggol during the buy-bust operation. And it was nature, could not have been the result of deliberate Babanggol who introduced Naranjo to Alfonso, the poseur- afterthought. People of the Philippines vs. Feliciano buyer. The Supreme Court ruled that a person’s mere Anabe y Capillan, G.R. No. 179033, September 6, presence when an illegal transaction had taken place does 2010 not mean that he was into the conspiracy. People of the Philippines vs. Arnel Babanggol and Cesar Naranjo, Evidence; state witness. This exception, however, applies G.R. No. 181422. September 15, 2010 only if the state witness is an eyewitness since the testimony would then be direct evidence. Section 17 of Evidence; conspiracy. To be guilty as a conspirator, the Rule 119 actually assumes that the testimony of the accused needs to have done an overt act in pursuit of the accused sought to be discharged as a state witness would crime. While the testimonies of the three other accused constitute direct evidence (i.e., that he or she is an were inconsistent in some material points, they all agreed eyewitness) in that it requires that there is no other direct that Naranjo was a mere hired driver. The prosecution did evidence, except the testimony of the said accused. not bother to contradict this. It presented no proof that Where, as here, the state witness is not an eyewitness, Naranjo knew of the criminal intentions of the other the testimony partakes of the nature of circumstantial accused, much less that he adopted the same. All told, evidence. The rule on circumstantial evidence thus nothing in the circumstances of this case can be used to applies. If the testimony is uncorroborated, it does not infer that Naranjo was in conspiracy with the other suffice. It cannot merit full credence. People of the accused. People of the Philippines vs. Arnel Philippines vs. Feliciano Anabe y Capillan, G.R. No.
179033, September 6, 2010
jurisdiction of the Sandiganbayan. People of the Philippines vs. Sandiganbayan and Rolando Plaza, Evidence; testimony of witness. The fact is that AAA’s G.R. No. 169004, September 15, 2010. testimony is not flawless. However, it is but ordinary for a witness, a rape victim no less, to have some Criminal Contempt. The guarantee given to Jesus Disini inconsistencies in her statements since not only had the that he would not be compelled to testify in other cases rapes occurred four or five years prior to her testimony against Herminio Disini constitutes a grant of immunity but her testimony pertains to facts and details of shameful from civil or criminal prosecution. Here, Disini’s refusal to events that she would rather forget. Truly, if not for the testify as ordered by the Sandiganbayan is certain to motivation to seek justice for the molestations she had result in prosecution for criminal contempt. It constitutes gone through, AAA would choose to bury those details in criminal contempt since guilt would draw a penalty of fine the deepest recesses of her memory. Moreover, or imprisonment or both. Criminal contempt is “conduct inconsistencies may be attributed to the well-known fact directed against the authority and dignity of the court or a that a courtroom atmosphere can affect the accuracy of judge acting judicially; it is an act of obstructing the the testimony and the manner in which a witness answers administration of justice which tends to bring the court questions. Likewise, inconsistencies in the testimony of a into disrepute and disrespect. Jesus P. Disini vs. The rape victim are inconsequential when they refer to minor Honorable Sandiganbayan, et al, G.R. No. 180564. details that have nothing to do with the essential fact of June 22, 2010 the commission of the crime — carnal knowledge through force or intimidation. People of the Philippines vs. Criminal Contempt. In criminal contempt, the proceedings Elpidio Parohinog Alejandro, G.R. No. 186232, are regarded as criminal and the rules of criminal September 27, 2010. procedure apply. What is more, it is generally held that the State or respondent Republic is the real prosecutor in such Jurisdiction; Sandiganbayan. The core issue raised in the case. The grant therefore of immunity to Disini, against petition is whether or not the Sandiganbayan has being compelled to testify is ultimately a grant of jurisdiction over a member of the Sangguniang immunity from being criminally prosecuted by the State Panlungsod whose salary grade is below 27 and charged for refusal to testify, something that falls within the with violation of The Auditing Code of the Philippines. The express coverage of the immunity given him. Jesus P. Court held in the affirmative, citing the provisions of R.A. Disini vs. The Honorable Sandiganbayan, et al., G.R. 8249. . People of the Philippines vs. Sandiganbayan No. 180564. June 22, 2010 and Rolando Plaza, G.R. No. 169004, September 15, 2010 Evidence; corpus delicti. Paragraph 1 of Section 21, Article II of RA 9165 outlines the procedure to be followed in the Jurisdiction; Sandiganbayan. Under Section 4 (a) of R.A. custody and handling of the seized drugs. The failure of 8249, the following offenses are specifically enumerated: the prosecution to show that the police officers conducted violations of R.A. No. 3019, as amended, R.A. No. 1379, the required physical inventory and photograph of the and Chapter II, Section 2, Title VII of the Revised Penal evidence confiscated pursuant to said guidelines is not Code. In order for the Sandiganbayan to acquire fatal. Indeed, the implementing rules provide that “nonjurisdiction over the said offenses, the latter must be compliance with these requirements under justifiable committed by, among others, officials of the executive grounds, as long as the integrity and the evidentiary value branch occupying positions of regional director and of the seized items are properly preserved by the higher, otherwise classified as Grade 27 and higher, of the apprehending officer/team, shall not render void and Compensation and Position Classification Act of 1989. invalid such seizure of and custody over said items.” People of the Philippines vs. Sandiganbayan and People of the Philippines vs. Aldrin Berdadero y Rolando Plaza, G.R. No. 169004, September 15, Armamento, G.R. No. 179710, June 29, 2010. 2010 Evidence; corpus delicti. The Supreme Court reiterated its Jurisdiction; Sandiganbayan. However, the law is not ruling in People v. Del Monte that what is of vital devoid of exceptions. Those that are classified as Grade importance is the preservation of the integrity and 26 and below may still fall within the jurisdiction of the evidentiary value of the seized items, as the same would Sandiganbayan provided that they hold the positions thus be utilized in the determination of the guilt or innocence enumerated by the same law. Particularly and exclusively of the accused. The existence of the dangerous drug is a enumerated are provincial governors, vice-govenors, condition sine qua non for conviction for the illegal sale of members of the sangguniang panlalawigan, and provincial dangerous drugs. The dangerous drug itself constitutes treasurers, assessors, engineers, and other provincial the very corpus delicti of the crime and the fact of its department heads; city mayors, vice-mayors, members of existence is vital to a judgment of conviction. Thus, it is the sangguniang panlungsod, city treasurers, assessors, essential that the identity of the prohibited drug be engineers, and other city department heads; officials of established beyond doubt. People of the Philippines vs. the diplomatic service occupying the position as consul Aldrin Berdadero y Armamento, G.R. No. 179710, June 29, and higher; Philippine army and air force colonels, naval 2010. captains, and all officers of higher rank; PNP chief superintendent and PNP officers of higher rank; City and Evidence; corpus delicti. The chain of custody requirement provincial prosecutors and their assistants, and officials performs the function of ensuring that the integrity and and prosecutors in the Office of the Ombudsman and evidentiary value of the seized items are preserved, so special prosecutor; and presidents, directors or trustees, much so that unnecessary doubts as to the identity of the or managers of government-owned or controlled evidence are removed. To be admissible, the prosecution corporations, state universities or educational institutions must show by records or testimony, the continuous or foundations. In connection therewith, Section 4 (b) of whereabouts of the exhibit at least between the time it the same law provides that other offenses or felonies came into possession of the police officers and until it was committed by public officials and employees mentioned in tested in the laboratory to determine its composition up to subsection (a) in relation to their office also fall under the the time it was offered in evidence. People of the
Philippines vs. Aldrin Berdadero y Armamento, G.R. No. 179710, June 29, 2010. Information; objection to form. Objections relating to the form of the complaint or information cannot be made for Evidence; corpus delicti. In this case, the testimonies of the first time on appeal. The accused-appellant should prosecution witnesses convincingly show that the integrity have moved before arraignment either for a bill of and the evidentiary value of the confiscated illegal particulars or for the quashal of the information. Having substance was properly preserved. The appellant in this failed to pursue either remedy, he is deemed to have case has the burden to show that the evidence was waived his objections to any formal defect in the tampered or meddled with to overcome a presumption of information. The People of the Philippines vs. Romar regularity in the handling of exhibits of public officers and Teodoro y Vallejo, G.R. No. 172372. December 4, a presumption that public officers properly discharge their 2009. duties. The appellant was unable to discharge such burden. People of the Philippines vs. Aldrin Information; options available to RTC upon filing of Berdadero y Armamento, G.R. No. 179710, June 29, information. The options available to the RTC upon the 2010. filing of an information before it by the public prosecutor or any prosecutor of the Secretary of Justice, are the Evidence; dying declaration. Under Section 37, Rule 130 of following: (1) dismiss the case if the evidence on record the Rules of Court provides that “the declaration of a clearly failed to establish probable cause; (2) if the RTC dying person, made under the consciousness of an finds probable cause, issue a warrant of arrest; and (3) in impending death, may be received in any case wherein his case of doubt as to the existence of probable cause, order death is the subject of inquiry, as evidence of the cause the prosecutor to present additional evidence within 5 and surrounding circumstances of such death.” A dying days from notice, the issue to be resolved by the court declaration is evidence of the highest order; it is entitled within thirty (3) days from the filing of the information. to the utmost credence on the premise that no one person The Supreme Court held that dismissal of the case by the who knows of his impending death would make a careless RTC judge in this case did not amount to grave abuse of and false accusation. At the brink of death, all thoughts of discretion. Rather, it clearly showed his compliance with concocting lies disappear. People of the Philippines vs. his duty to personally evaluate the resolution of the Albert Sanchez y Galera, G.R. No. 188610, June 29, prosecutor and its supporting evidence. Elvira O. Ong 2010. vs. Jose Casim Genio, G.R. No. 182336. December 23, 2009 Evidence; dying declaration. As an exception to the rule against hearsay evidence, a dying declaration or ante Jurisdiction; election cases. A public prosecutor exceeded mortem statement is evidence of the highest order and is the authority delegated to him by the Commission on entitled to utmost credence since no person aware of his Elections (COMELEC) to prosecute election-related cases impending death would make a careless and false when he filed amended informations in court against the accusation. In order for a dying declaration to be held respondent Pablo Olivares even after he had been directed admissible, four requisites must concur: first, the by the Legal Department of the COMELEC to suspend the declaration must concern the cause and surrounding implementation of his joint resolution (which found that circumstances of the declarant’s death; second, at the the respondent should be indicted) but before his time the declaration was made, the declarant must be delegated authority had been revoked by the COMELEC en under the consciousness of an impending death; third, the banc. declarant is competent as a witness; and fourth, the declaration must be offered in a criminal case for The Constitution, particularly Article IX, Section 20, homicide, murder, or parricide, in which the declarant is empowers the COMELEC to investigate and, when the victim. People of the Philippines vs. Jonel appropriate, prosecute election cases. Furthermore, under Falabrica Serenas, et al., G.R. No. 188124, June 29, Section 265 of the OEC, the COMELEC, through its duly 2010. authorized legal officers, has the exclusive power to conduct the preliminary investigation of all election Dismissal; appeal by private party. The dismissal made offenses punishable under the OEC and to prosecute the by the RTC can only be appealed by the OSG. The private same. Under Section 265 of the OEC, the COMELEC may offended party has no legal personality to do so. Here, the avail itself of the assistance of other prosecuting arms of Supreme Court applied the general rule under Sec. 35(1), the government. Thus, Section 2, Rule 34 of the COMELEC Chapter 12, Title III, Book IV of the Administrative Code of Rules of Procedure provides for the continuing delegation 1987 which provided that only the OSG can bring and/or of authority to other prosecuting arms of the government, defend actions on behalf of the Republic or represent the which authority, however, may be revoked or withdrawn people or the State in criminal proceedings pending in the at anytime by the COMELEC in the proper exercise of its Supreme Court and the CA. judgment. Section 10 of the same Rule 34 gives the COMELEC the power to motu proprio revise, modify and Private offended parties have limited roles in criminal reverse the resolution of the Chief State Prosecutor and/or cases. They are only witnesses for the prosecution. Thus, provincial/city prosecutors. a private offended party may not appeal the dismissal of a criminal case or the acquittal of an accused because the Clearly, the Chief State Prosecutor, all Provincial and City aggrieved party is the People of the Philippines. However, Fiscals, and/or their respective assistants have been given the offended party may appeal the civil aspect of the case continuing authority, as deputies of the Commission, to and may, thus, file a special civil action for certiorari conduct a preliminary investigation of complaints questioning the decision/action of the court on involving election offenses under the election laws and to jurisdictional grounds. In so doing, the private offended prosecute the same. However, such authority may be party cannot bring the action in the name of the People of revoked or withdrawn anytime by the COMELEC either the Philippines, but must prosecute the same in his own expressly or impliedly, when in its judgment, such personal capacity. Elvira O. Ong vs. Jose Casim revocation or withdrawal is necessary to protect the Genio, G.R. No. 182336. December 23, 2009. integrity of the process to promote the common good or
where it believes that the successful prosecution of the case can be done by the COMELEC. Moreover, being mere deputies or agents of the COMELEC, provincial or city prosecutors deputized by it are expected to act in accord with and not contrary to or in derogation of the resolutions, directives or orders of the COMELEC in relation to election cases where it had been deputized to investigate and prosecute by the COMELEC. As mere deputies, provincial and city prosecutors acting on behalf of the COMELEC must proceed within the lawful scope of their delegated authority. Bievenido Diño and Renato Comparativo vs. Pablo Olivarez, G.R. No. 170447, December 4, 2009. Petition for review; questions of fact. A petition for review on certiorari under Rule 45 of the Rules of Court should only raise issues involving questions of law and not questions of fact. As a general rule, a Rule 45 petition for certiorari should only involve legal questions which should be raised and distinctly set forth in the petition because the Supreme Court is not a trier of facts. The Supreme Court will not disturb the factual findings of the Court of Appeals, unless such findings are mistaken, absurd, speculative, conflicting, tainted with grave abuse of discretion, or contrary to the findings reached by the court of origin. The Supreme Court explained that questions of law exist when there is doubt on what law is applicable to a certain set of facts, while questions of fact are involved when there is an issue regarding the truth or falsity of the statements of facts. Questions on whether certain pieces of evidence should be accorded with probative value or whether the proofs presented by one party are clear, convincing, and adequate to establish a proposition, are issues of fact which are not subject to review by the Supreme Court. Juno Batistis vs. People of the Philippines, G.R. No. 181571. December 16, 2009. Probable case; reversal of finding. A new presiding Judge of the Regional Trial Court can reverse the order issued by a former presiding Judge finding no probable cause against respondents. although the former presiding judge had found no probable cause against respondents, he did not altogether close the issue. In fact, he ignored respondents’ motion to dismiss the case and even directed the City Prosecutor’s Office to submit additional evidence. This indicated that he still had doubts about his findings. Thus, when Judge Justalero took over, Judge Justalero committed no grave abuse of discretion when he reversed his predecessor’s earlier unsettled position. There was no grave abuse of discretion when Judge Justalero found probable cause against respondents. Probable cause assumes the existence of facts that would lead a reasonably discreet and prudent man to believe that a crime has been committed and that it was likely committed by the person sought to be arrested. It requires neither absolute certainty nor clear and convincing evidence of guilt. The test for issuing a warrant of arrest is less stringent than that used for establishing the guilt of the accused. As long as the evidence shows a prima facie case against the accused, the trial court has sufficient ground to issue a warrant for his arrest. People of the Philippines vs. Jan Michael Tan and Archie Tan, G.R. No. 182310, December 9, 2009.