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Republic of the Philippines SUPREME COURT Manila FIRST DIVISION G.R. No.

L-55533 July 31, 1984 PEOPLE OF THE PHILIPPINES, petitioner, vs. THE COURT OF APPEALS* (Third Division), JOSE V. PEREZ, AMADEA C. PEREZ, CIPRIANO LADINES and FLAVIA C. VALDENOR, respondents.

TEEHANKEE, J.: This is a petition for review on certiorari filed by petitioner People of the Philippines to set aside the decision of the then Court of Appeals, now Intermediate Appellate Court, 1 which affirmed the order issued by the then City Court of Lucena, Branch II, denying the prosecution's motion for the exclusion of Miguel Roncesvalles (co-accused of the private respondents herein named) from the information in Criminal Case No. 0399 so that he may testify therein as a state witness. The amended information for violation of Section 22 of Republic Act No. 720, as amended, charged that Miguel Roncesvalles, together with herein private respondents Jose V. Perez, Amadea Consul Perez, Cipriano Ladines and Flavia C. Valdenor, "with intent to deceive, conspiring, confederating and mutually helping one another, did then and there wilfully, unlawfully and illegally make false statements and misrepresentation of material facts in the application for agricultural loan signed by FLAVIA C. VALDENOR and in the other supporting papers, calculated to produce semblance of compliance with the legal requirements, making it appear that accused FLAVIA C. VALDENOR is an eligible borrower which misrepresentation or false statements of facts were considered as the credit factors in the approval and the granting of the loan to accused FLAVIA C. VALDENOR in the amount of P30,000.00, by the Rural Bank of Lucena, Inc., ..." All the accused pleaded not guilty when arraigned. After the prosecution had already presented seven witnesses, the state prosecutors filed a motion with the court, asking that accused Roncesvalles be discharged from the information in order that he may be used as a state witness against his co-defendants, alleging that Roncesvalles had not at any time been convicted of any offense involving moral turpitude; that he did not appear to be the most guilty; that there was absolute necessity for his testimony; that there was no other direct evidence available for the proper prosecution of the offense committed and that his testimony could be substantially corroborated in its material points. The motion was set for hearing and after the parties were heard, the trial court, issued the questioned order denying the motion on the ground that, ". . . Miguel Roncesvalles

cannot be said to be the least guilty. He would be a principal by direct participation, or a co-principal if he acted upon instruction of another as the prosecution alleges," and that, "the prosecution having presented all its witnesses, the Court, after going over their testimony, cannot see how Roncesvalles' testimony, if ever he is discharged, would be corroborated." 2 Reconsideration having been denied by the trial court, the prosecution filed a petition for certiorari with respondent appellate court praying for the annulment and setting aside of the trial court's questioned orders. Respondent court sustained the trial court's ruling in its decision, subject of the petition at bar and denied reconsideration thereof. Hence, the People's petition, which complains that "the respondent court acted with grave abuse of discretion or in excess of its jurisdiction in sustaining the Order dated September 15, 1978 issued by the City Court of Lucena and in holding that the petitioner failed to show that there is absolute necessity for the testimony of Miguel Roncesvalles whose discharge is requested. " The Court finds merit in this petition and dispenses with the firing of memoranda or briefs in the light of the facts and pleadings of record. Section 9, Rule 119 of the Rules of Court prescribes the conditions in order that one or several accused may be used as witnesses against their co-accused, to wit: "(a) there is absolute necessity for the testimony of the defendant 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 defendant; (c) the testimony of said defendant can be substantially corroborated in its material points; (d) said defendant does not appear to be the most guilty; and (e) said defendant has not at any time been convicted of any offense involving moral turpitude." While it is true that the court has the exclusive responsibility to see that the conditions prescribed by the rule exists, 3 this grant of discretion is not a grant of arbitrary discretion, but rather a sound judicial discretion to be exercised with due regard to the proper and correct administration of justice. 4 The trial curt manifestly erred in denying the prosecution's motion to discharge accused Roncesvalles or, the ground that he "cannot be said to be the least guilty." All that the law requires, in order to discharge an accused and to use him as a state witness is that the defendant whose exclusion is requested does not appear to be the most guilty, not necessarily that he is the least guilty. 5 The trial court's order itself shows that Roncesvalles does not appear to be the most guilty since it acknowledged that "he would be a principal by direct participation or a co-principal if he acted upon instruction of another as the prosecution alleges." The Rules do not disqualify an accused sought to be discharged as witness for the state merely on the ground that he has committed a falsification himself, or that he had actually committed the crime charged. The Rules say that it is necessary that the "said

where the facts which would sustain a conviction are known to the guilty parties themselves alone. he may still be made a witness. Valdenor. 8 Respondent appellate court itself sustained the People's contention on this score.000. Rule 119 requires as one of the conditions for the discharge of one of the accused to testify as a witness for the Government is that said 'defendant does not appear to be the most guilty. is a guaranty that if he will testify in court he will testify truthfully. under English and American procedural methods. The trial court had denied discharge on the ground that "the prosecution having presented all its witnesses. if ever he is discharged. among them.00 under the pretext of an agricultural loan granted to accused Flavia N. Roncesvalles was the Assistant Chief Inspector of the Lucena Rural Bank and he was the one who signed the investigation report which contained false information as to the credit . so that even if an accused actually participated in the offense charged in the information. so an accused who is not the most guilty is allowed to testify against the most guilty in order to achieve the greater purpose of securing the conviction of the more or most guilty and the greatest number among the accused permitted to be convicted for the offense they have committed. As a matter of fact. 7 Experience. after going over their testimony. would be corroborated. the Court. many guilty parties would escape. of his participation in a crime. can not see how Roncesvalles testimony. the candid admission of an accused. the Rural Bank Examiner and NBI agents." This conjecture of the trial court has no sound basis." Sufficient corroborative evidence exists of record. A careful examination of the records of the case supports the prosecution's stand to discharge Roncesvalles in order that he may testify for the government. as is readily shown by respondent appellate court's contrary evaluation that "the most that petitioner could say was that the testimony of Roncesvalles would be corroborative of the testimony of the witnesses already presented by the Government as well as the documentary evidence presented during the hearing. The testimony of Roncesvalles is absolutely necessary to prove conspiracy among the accused who are charged of conspiring and confederating with each other in defrauding the Lucena Rural Bank in the amount of P30. has shown that without the aid of informers testifying against their co-participants in crime. simply stating that "respondent Court erred when it ruled that it could not grant the motion for the discharge of Roncesvalles because it does not appear that he is the least guilty of the accused.' " But respondent appellate court nevertheless sustained the questioned orders "since the petition failed to show that there was absolute necessity for the testimony of Roncesvalles". Individuals who are candid enough to admit their guilt are expected to testify truthfully and it is from that circumstance that all the facts involved shall be expected to be truthfully disclosed by him. What Section 9.defendant does not appear to be the most guilty from which the conclusion follows that the guilt of an accused of the crime charged is no reason why he may not be excluded as witness for the State. 6 The ground underlying the rule is not to let a crime that has been committed go unpunished. The Court therefore overrules respondent court's finding that there is no absolute necessity for the testimony of Roncesvalles.

i. 0399 so that he may testify therein as a state witness. concur. Nobody is in a better position to testify and prove the existence of conspiracy than accused Roncesvalles. Jr. This decision is immediately executory. 11 ACCORDINGLY. the judge must rely in a large part upon the suggestions and information furnished by the state prosecutors. "unless accused Roncesvalles is allowed to testify for the government. as to which of the accused is the 'most guilty'.. the accused in Criminal Case No. As prayed for. There is ample basis for the Solicitor General's submittal that "considering the foregoing circumstances and inasmuch as the other accused cannot be compelled to testify." 10 A trial judge cannot be expected or required to inform himself with absolute certainty at the very outset of the trial as to everything which may be developed in the course of the trial in regard to the guilty participation of the accused in the commission of the crime charged in the complaint. Relova. because he is an officer of the bank.standing of accused Flavia N.. and De la Fuente. the State has no other remedy except the instant petition.e. Gutierrez." 9 It is noteworthy that these assertions appear to be based on solid ground for the prosecutors presented their motion for discharge of Roncesvalles as a state witness only after they had presented seven witnesses and could then show the absolute necessity for his testimony in consonance with what was to be held by the Court in Flores vs Sandiganbayan that the trial court should act on said discharge motion when the prosecution has presented all its other evidence and it could then "fully determine whether the requisites prescribed in Section 9. requested'. . Plana. JJ. are fully complied with. In coming to his conclusion as to the 'necessity for the testimony of the accused whose discharge is re. there is no other direct evidence available for the proper prosecution of the offense charged. Rule 119 of the New Rules of Court. there would be little need for the formality of a trial. certain facts necessary for the conviction of the accused would not be revealed unless accused Roncesvalles is allowed to testify for the State". respondent appellate court's decision affirming the trial court's questioned orders denying the discharge of Miguel Roncesvalles as a state witness is hereby SET ASIDE. The testimony of accused Roncesvalles will prove conspiracy among the perpetrators of the crime charged". the role or participation of his co-accused in the preparation and accomplishment of the falsified loan application and its supporting papers. Valdenor. 0399 may be acquitted and the State irretrievably prejudiced. Melencio-Herrera. and the like. as to the 'availability or non-availability of other direct or corroborative evidence'. If that were practicable or possible. and "unless this petition is given due course and granted. Because of the Rule on double jeopardy. the trial court is ORDERED to allow the discharge of said accused Miguel Roncesvalles from the information before it in Criminal Case No.

1997 PEOPLE OF THE PHILIPPINES. respondent Sansaet served as counsel of Paredes in that civil case. The same records also represent that sometime in 1976. Agusan del Sur. 1 The records show that during the dates material to this case. respondents. REGALADO. in 1985. then Governor of the same province. and is at present a Congressman. HONORABLE SANDIGANBAYAN. and GENEROSO S. petitioner seeks the annulment of the resolution of respondent Sandiganbayan. SANSAET.Footnotes Republic of the Philippines SUPREME COURT Manila EN BANC G. CEFERINO S.R. San Francisco-Bunawan-Rosario in Agusan del Sur. Pls-67 of the Rosario Public Land Subdivision Survey. vs. J. His application was approved and. Respondent Sansaet was a practicing attorney who served as counsel for Paredes in several instances pertinent to the criminal charges involved in the present recourse. petitioner. which denied petitioner's motion for the discharge of respondent Generoso S. 115439-41 July 16. The trial court rendered judgment 3 nullifying said patent and title after finding that respondent Paredes had obtained the same through fraudulent misrepresentations in his application. However. respondent Paredes applied for a free patent over Lot No. Respondent Paredes was successively the Provincial Attorney of Agusan del Sur. Pertinently. the Director of Lands filed an action 2 for the cancellation of respondent Paredes' patent and certificate of title since the land had been designated and reserved as a school site in the aforementioned subdivision survey. pursuant to a free patent granted to him. 3097-A. PAREDES. Sansaet to be utilized as a state witness. an original certificate of title was issued in his favor for that lot which is situated in the poblacion of San Francisco. Nos. and its resolution of March 7. JR. HONRADA. respondent Honrada was the Clerk of Court and Acting Stenographer of the First Municipal Circuit Trial Court. MANSUETO V. 4 . promulgated on December 22. 1994 denying the motion for reconsideration of its preceding disposition. 1993.: Through the special civil action for certiorari at bar.

Atty. we quote some of his allegations in that motion: . respondent Paredes was likewise represented by respondent Sansaet as counsel. one Teofilo Gelacio. . issued a resolution 8 recommending the criminal prosecution of respondent Paredes. On August 29. he had violated Section 3(a) of Republic Act No. . 3019. 1990. a motion to quash filed by the defense was later granted in respondent court's resolution of August 1. an information for perjury 5 was filed against respondent Paredes in the Municipal Circuit Trial Court. and transcripts of stenographic notes supposedly taken during the arraignment of Paredes on the perjury charge. directed by the Deputy Minister of Justice to move for the dismissal of the case on the ground inter alia of prescription. and a certification of Presiding Judge Ciriaco Ariño . because of its legal significance in this case. On January 23. in conspiracy with his herein co-respondents. upon the subsequent complaint of the Sangguniang Bayan and the preliminary investigation conducted thereon. however. In support of his claim. For the third time. as amended. Gelacio attached to his letter a certification that no notice of arraignment was ever received by the Office of the Provincial Fiscal of Agusan del Sur in connection with that perjury case. as counsel for his aforenamed corespondent. moved for reconsideration and. certificate of arraignment and the recommendation of the Department of Justice are hereto attached for ready reference. by using his former position as Provincial Attorney to influence and induce the Bureau of Lands officials to favorably act on his application for free patent. but said case after arraignment. 1985. Sansaet. 3019.) A criminal case was subsequently filed with the Sandiganbayan 10 charging respondent Paredes with a violation of Section 3 (a) of Republic Act No. respondent Sansaet was thereafter haled before the Tanodbayan for preliminary investigation on the charge that. Agusan del Sur. .Consequent to the foregoing judgment of the trial court. hence the proceedings were terminated. 12 He claimed that respondent Honrada. thus the filing of this case will be a case of double jeopardy for respondent herein . was ordered dismissed by the court upon recommendation of the Department of Justice. 1988. the Provincial Fiscal was. respondent Sansaet was Paredes' counsel of record therein. the Tanodbayan. 7 In this criminal case. sent a letter to the Ombudsman seeking the investigation of the three respondents herein for falsification of public documents. Copy of the dismissal order. Nonetheless. in order to support his contention that the same would constitute double jeopardy. 13 These falsified documents were annexed to respondent Paredes' motion for reconsideration of the Tanodbayan resolution for the filing of a graft charge against him. 9 (Emphasis supplied. . 6 On November 27. . 1985. dated July 1. 1991 11 and the case was dismissed on the ground of prescription. went to jail on detention in 1984 under the same set of facts and the same evidence . a taxpayer who had initiated the perjury and graft charges against respondent Paredes. simulated and certified as true copies certain documents purporting to be a notice of arraignment. as amended. However. . respondent had been charged already by the complainants before the Municipal Circuit Court of San Francisco.

the documents which were later filed by respondent Sansaet in the preliminary investigation were prepared and falsified by his co-respondents in this case in the house of respondent Paredes. if presented in the trial. except for the eyewitness testimony of respondent Sansaet. in a resolution 16 dated February 24. 15 respondent Sansaet revealed that Paredes contrived to have the graft case under preliminary investigation dismissed on the ground of double jeopardy by making it appear that the perjury case had been dismissed by the trial court after he had been arraigned therein. The Ombudsman refused to reconsider that resolution 17 and. a motion was filed by the People on July 27. Rule 119 of the Rules of Court.that said perjury case in his court did not reach the arraignment stage since action thereon was suspended pending the review of the case by the Department of Justice. Sansaet falls under the mantle of privileged communication between the lawyer and his client which may be objected to. as provided in Section 9. For that purpose. It was submitted that all the requisites therefor. ostensibly to forestall any further controversy. 14 Respondents filed their respective counter-affidavits. were filed in the graft court. in the absence of deliberate intent to conspire. the same were consolidated for joint trial in the Second Division of the Sandiganbayan. were satisfied insofar as respondent Sansaet was concerned. he claimed that he did so upon the instigation and inducement of respondent Paredes. Taking his explanation. In a socalled Affidavit of Explanations and Rectifications. To evade responsibility for his own participation in the scheme. As stated at the outset. respondent Sandiganbayan. Withal. but Sansaet subsequently discarded and repudiated the submissions he had made in his counter-affidavit. This was intended to pave the way for his discharge as a government witness in the consolidated cases. . . 1992. Thus. there was no other direct evidence to prove the confabulated falsification of documents by respondents Honrada and Paredes. hewing to the theory of the attorney-client privilege adverted to by the Ombudsman and invoked by the two . Moreover. 1993 for the discharge of respondent Sansaet as a state witness. Atty. Sansaet had control over the case theory and the evidence which the defense was going to present. The proposal for the discharge of respondent Sansaet as a state witness was rejected by the Ombudsman on this evaluative legal position: . However. three criminal cases. Unfortunately for the prosecution. the Ombudsman approved the filing of falsification charges against all the herein private respondents. The basic postulate was that. he decided to file separate informations for falsification of public documents against each of the herein respondents. 18 each of which named one of the three private respondents here as the accused therein. it is difficult to believe that a lawyer of his stature. As counsel for the accused in those criminal cases. would be unwittingly induced by another to commit a crime. the testimony or confession of Atty. as in fact a motion therefor was filed by the prosecution pursuant to their agreement.

" without distinction or qualification. as proposed state witness. 19 Reconsideration of said resolution having been likewise denied. without the latter's consent. Indeed. as client. the testimony of Atty. as his lawyer in his professional capacity. the opposition was able to establish that client and lawyer relationship existed between Atty. as client..other private respondents in their opposition to the prosecution's motion. it found "no reason to discuss it further since Atty. It is significant that the evidentiary rule on this point has always referred to "any communication. to respondent Sansaet. Sansaet cannot be presented as a witness against accused Ceferino S. than verbal statements being made to him by Paredes as to the fact and purpose of such falsification. 23 . 17791-93 for falsification before respondent court. Paredes. 1. 20 the controversy was elevated to this Court by the prosecution in an original action for the issuance of the extraordinary writ of certiorari against respondent Sandiganbayan. resolved to deny the desired discharge on this ratiocination: From the evidence adduced. Accordingly. As already stated. we will first sweep aside some distracting mental cobwebs in these cases. is barred by the attorney-client privilege. to accused Sansaet. during and after the period alleged in the information. he is eligible for discharge to testify as a particeps criminis. The privilege is not confined to verbal or written communications made by the client to his attorney but extends as well to information communicated by the client to the attorney by other means. as a consequence thereof. 22 In the American jurisdiction from which our present evidential rule was taken. and other confidential matter must have been disclosed by accused Paredes. if not more. the fact that Sansaet was called to witness the preparation of the falsified documents by Paredes and Honrada was as eloquent a communication. respondent Sandiganbayan ruled that due to the lawyer-client relationship which existed between herein respondents Paredes and Sansaet during the relevant periods. The principal issues on which the resolution of the petition at bar actually turns are therefore (1) whether or not the projected testimony of respondent Sansaet. and this may reasonably be expected since Paredes was the accused and Sansaet his counsel therein. as his lawyer. Jr. It may correctly be assumed that there was a confidential communication made by Paredes to Sansaet in connection with Criminal Cases Nos. Sansaet and Ceferino Paredes. the facts surrounding the case. For a clearer understanding of that evidential rule. the facts surrounding the case and other confidential matters must have been disclosed by respondent Paredes. Sansaet on the facts surrounding the offense charged in the information is privileged. In view of such relationship. there is no particular mode by which a confidential communication shall be made by a client to his attorney. as the facts thereof and actuations of both respondents therein constitute an exception to the rule. The attorney-client privilege cannot apply in these cases. Jr. before. and (2) whether or not." 21 The Court is of a contrary persuasion. Therefore.

Statements and communications regarding the commission of a crime already committed. But for the application of the attorney-client privilege. 24 Also. consulted as such. were about to falsify. It is true that by now. if the client seeks his lawyer's advice with respect to a crime that the former has theretofore committed. Respondent court appears. by the client. the unbroken stream of judicial dicta is to the effect that communications between attorney and client having to do with the client's contemplated criminal acts. 2. he is given the protection of a virtual confessional seal which the attorney-client privilege declares cannot be broken by the attorney without the client's consent. Corollarily. The clincher for this conclusion is the undisputed fact that said documents were thereafter filed by Sansaet in behalf of Paredes as annexes to the motion for reconsideration in the preliminary investigation of the graft case before the Tanodbayan. the testimony sought to be elicited from Sansate as state witness are the communications made to him by physical acts and/or accompanying words of Parades at the time he and Honrada. the . and that respondent Sansaet is set to testify on alleged criminal acts of respondents Paredes and Honrada that have already been committed and consummated. a distinction must be made between confidential communications relating to past crimes already committed. or in aid or furtherance thereof.Nor can it be pretended that during the entire process. the acts and words of the parties during the period when the documents were being falsified were necessarily confidential since Paredes would not have invited Sansaet to his house and allowed him to witness the same except under conditions of secrecy and confidence. 25 (Emphases supplied. or in the process of falsifying. Contrarily. to believe that in the instant case it is dealing with a past crime. The same privileged confidentiality. made by a party who committed it. The Court reprobates the last assumption which is flawed by a somewhat inaccurate basis. It is postulated that despite such complicity of Sansaet at the instance of Paredes in the criminal act for which the latter stands charged. either with the active or passive participation of Sansaet. and future crimes intended to be committed. are not covered by the cloak of privileges ordinarily existing in reference to communications between attorney and client. no word at all passed between Paredes and Sansaet on the subject matter of that criminal act. those crimes were necessarily committed in the past. it is admitted that the announced intention of a client to commit a crime is not included within the confidences which his attorney is bound to respect. further. In the present cases. however. does not attach with regard to a crime which a client intends to commit thereafter or in the future and for purposes of which he seeks the lawyer's advice.) 3. however. insofar as the falsifications to be testified to in respondent court are concerned. considering their past and existing relations as counsel and client and. In other words. are privileged communications. in view of the purpose for which such falsified documents were prepared. the period to be considered is the date when the privileged communication was made by the client to the attorney in relation to either a crime committed in the past or with respect to a crime intended to be committed in the future. to an attorney. however.

Paredes and Honrada concocted and foisted upon the authorities. 4. it must be for a lawful purpose or in furtherance of a lawful end. II On the foregoing premises. for discharge from the criminal prosecution in order to testify for the State. Parenthetically. The existence of an unlawful purpose prevents the privilege from attaching. but which the attorney under certain circumstances may be bound to disclose at once in the interest of justice. 1. 26 In fact. we now proceed to the consequential inquiry as to whether respondent Sansaet qualifies. however. It is well settled that in order that a communication between a lawyer and his client may be privileged. Furthermore. It will be recalled that in its resolution of . Where the determinative facts and evidence have been submitted to this Court such that it is in a position to finally resolve the dispute. that it was error for respondent Sandiganbayan to insist that such unlawful communications intended for an illegal purpose contrived by conspirators are nonetheless covered by the so-called mantle of privilege. respondent court. the confidential communications thus made by Paredes to Sansaet were for purposes of and in reference to the crime of falsification which had not yet been committed in the past by Paredes but which he. it will be in the pursuance of the ends of justice and the expeditious administration thereof to resolve the case on the merits. and every communication made to an attorney by a client for a criminal purpose is a conspiracy or attempt at a conspiracy which is not only lawful to divulge. in confederacy with his present co-respondents." 27 It is evident. because of the objection thereto of his conspiring client. Having been made for purposes of a future offense. instead of remanding it to the trial court. The fact that respondent Sandiganbayan did not fully pass upon the query as to whether or not respondent Sansaet was qualified to be a state witness need not prevent this Court from resolving that issue as prayed for by petitioner. having arrived at a contrary conclusion on the preceding issue. We shall. Sansaet was himself a conspirator in the commission of that crime of falsification which he. A reservation is raised over the fact that the three private respondents here stand charged in three separate informations. it has also been pointed out to the Court that the "prosecution of the honorable relation of attorney and client will not be permitted under the guise of privilege. To prevent a conniving counsel from revealing the genesis of a crime which was later committed pursuant to a conspiracy. those communications are outside the pale of the attorney-client privilege. did not pass upon this second aspect and the relief sought by the prosecution which are now submitted for our resolution in the petition at bar. would be one of the worst travesties in the rules of evidence and practice in the noble profession of law. first dispose likewise of some ancillary questions requiring preludial clarification. later committed. therefore. Clearly. therefore. as a particeps criminis. 28 2.documents which were later filed in the Tanodbayan by Sansaet and culminated in the criminal charges now pending in respondent Sandiganbayan.

We have earlier held that Sansaet was a conspirator in the crime of falsification. one information was filed against each of the three respondents here. however. the same as if the different causes of action involved had originally been joined in a single action. 2. Now." as "involving the united activity of two or more. . reportedly in order to obviate further controversy. the consolidated and joint trial has the effect of making the three accused co-accused or joint defendants. the same penalty shall be imposed on all members of the conspiracy. While Section 9 of Rule 119 of the 1985 Rules of Criminal Procedure uses the word jointly. hence the word "joint" was added to indicate the identity of the charge and the fact that the accused are all together charged therewith substantially in the same manner in point of commission and time. The query would then be whether an accused who was held guilty by reason of membership in a conspiracy is eligible to be a state witness. 29 Indeed. Section 2. the several actions lost their separate identities and became a single action in which a single judgment is rendered. the former provision of the Rules referring to the situation "(w)hen two or more persons are charged with the commission of a certain offense" was too broad and indefinite. Accordingly. be discharged even if indicted under a separate information. Rule XV of the Revised Rules of the Sandiganbayan allows consolidation in only one Division of cases arising from the same incident or series of incidents.February 24. sufficiently explained away during the deliberations in this case by the following discussion thereof by Mr. but it did not so require in consideration of the circumstances obtaining in the present case and the problems that may arise from amending the information. After all. Justice Francisco along the same vein. the Ombudsman recommended the filing of criminal charges for falsification of public documents against all the respondents herein. 30 Had it been intended that all the accused should always be indicted in one and the same information. he can. especially considering that they are charged for the same offense. the Rules could have said so with facility. to wit: Assuming no substantive impediment exists to block Sansaet's discharge as state witness. The word "joint" means "common to two or more. persons indicted for the same offense and tried together are called joint defendants. the purpose of the Rule can be achieved by consolidation of the cases as an alternative mode. nevertheless. for all legal intents and purposes. It is of no moment that he was charged separately from his co-accused. 1992. and the rule is that since in a conspiracy the act of one is the act of all. In criminal law. I suppose the three cases were consolidated for joint trial since they were all raffled to the Second Division of the Sandiganbayan. That resolution was affirmed but. This technicality was. there having been a consolidation of the three cases. As likewise submitted therefor by Mr. Justice Davide. Sansaet stood as co-accused and he could be discharged as state witness." 31 not that he must be the least guilty 32 as is so often erroneously framed or submitted. resulting in three informations for the same acts of falsification." or "done or produced by two or more working together. one of the requirements for a state witness is that he "does not appear to be the most guilty. or involving common questions of law and fact." or "shared by or affecting two or more. which was absent in the old provision.

Eventually. It was in fact the testimony of Bermudez that clinched the case for the prosecution. Although he did not actually commit any of the stabbings. in People vs. as indeed it was. he was easily convinced by his two co-accused to open the account with the bank and which led to the commission of the crime. it was a mistake to discharge Bagispas as a state witness. prior thereto. he does not appear to be the most guilty. he does not appear to be the most guilty. and should not be discharged as he did not appear to be not the most guilty. In other words. However. in Lugtu. not to kill him for a promised fee. As the evidence reveals. were bound in a conspiracy that made them equally guilty. et al. none of them could positively identify the accused except Bermudez who was one of those who pulled the highway heist which resulted not only in the loss of cash. Court of Appeals. but even the life of Capt. Ramirez. et al. without his testimony. the Court took into account the gravity or nature of the acts committed by the accused to be discharged compared to those of his co-accused. in People vs. Second. et al. et al. What the law prohibits is that the most guilty will be set free while his co-accused who .. jewelry and other valuables. Third. including him. Appellant asserts that since accused Bermudez was part of the conspiracy. For. First. 34 two conspirators charged with five others in three separate informations for multiple murder were discharged and used as state witnesses against their confederates. But even assuming that he later became part of the conspiracy. Ocimar. there is absolute necessity for the testimony of Bermudez. Roxas. All the perpetrators of the offense. We do not agree. being a poor and ignorant man. Subsequent thereto.. The trial court found that he was not the most guilty as.. On appeal. Cañeba. Fourth. It is believable that he persuaded the others to rob Paterno. 35 one of the co-conspirators was discharged from the information charging him and two others with the crime of estafa. He argues that no accused in a conspiracy can lawfully be discharged and utilized as a state witness. Jr. no other direct evidence was available for the prosecution to prove the elements of the crime. he is equally guilty as the others. his testimony could be. 33 we find this obiter: It appears that Apolonio Bagispas was the real mastermind. substantially corroborated in its material points as indicated by the trial court in its well-reasoned decision. is untenable. this Court held that the finding of respondent appellate court that Lugtu was just as guilty as his co-accused. what was just somehow assumed but not explicity articulated found expression in People vs. et al. for not one of them could satisfy the requisite of appearing not to be the most guilty.To be sure. despite the presentation of four (4) other witnesses. he was only invited to a drinking party without having any prior knowledge of the plot to stage a highway robbery. and not merely the fact that in law the same or equal penalty is imposable on all of them. vs. 36 which we quote in extenso: Ocimar contends that in the case at bar Bermudez does not satisfy the conditions for the discharge of a co-accused to become a state witness.

it is the identity of the mens rea which is considered the predominant consideration and. There is thus no other direct evidence available for the prosecution of the case. Respondent Sansaet is the only cooperative eyewitness to the actual commission of the falsification charged in the criminal cases pending before respondent court. the Rules provide for certain qualifying criteria which. xxx xxx xxx Thus.are less guilty will be sent to jail. Since Bermudez was not individually responsible for the killing committed on the occasion of the robbery except by reason of conspiracy. that the other requisites for the discharge of respondent Sansaet as a state witness are present and should have been favorably appreciated by the Sandiganbayan. III The Court is reasonably convinced. Also. Said respondent has indicated his conformity thereto and has. for the . such as the need for giving immunity to one of them in order that not all shall escape. and so holds. This adjective device is based on other considerations. While all the accused may be given the same penalty by reason of conspiracy.) The rule of equality in the penalty to be imposed upon conspirators found guilty of a criminal offense is based on the concurrence of criminal intent in their minds and translated into concerted physical action although of varying acts or degrees of depravity. it cannot be said then that Bermudez appears to be the most guilty. hence there is absolute necessity for the testimony of Sansaet whose discharge is sought precisely for that purpose. are based on judicial experience distilled into a judgmental policy. (Emphasis ours. Hence. warrants the imposition of the same penalty on the consequential theory that the act of one is thereby the act of all. again. which may or may not have been perpetrated in conspiracy with the other accused. For those reasons. his discharge to be a witness for the government is clearly warranted. therefore. this is an affair of substantive law which should not be equated with the procedural rule on the discharge of particeps criminis. and the judicial experience that the candid admission of an accused regarding his participation is a guaranty that he will testify truthfully. there is no evidence that he has at any time been convicted of any offense involving moral turpitude. Fifth. Since the Revised Penal Code is based on the classical school of thought. And by "most guilty" we mean the highest degree of culpability in terms of participation in the commission of the offense and not necessarily the severity of the penalty imposed. We agree with the observations of the Solicitor General that the rule on the discharge of an accused to be utilized as state witness clearly looks at his actual and individual participation in the commission of the crime. and the prosecution is faced with the formidable task of establishing the guilt of the two other corespondents who steadfastly deny the charge and stoutly protest their innocence. yet one may be considered least guilty if We take into account his degree of participation in the perpetration of the offense.

as required by this Court in its resolution on December 5. to determine the merits of the proposal and make the corresponding disposition. 1994 upon which the Petition for Certiorari filed by the prosecution are based.purposes required by the Rules. however. 1994. It must be emphasized. Atienza and concurred in by the undersigned and Associate Justice Augusto M. upon authority of the Honorable Supreme Court for the issuance of the proper Resolution to that effect within fifteen (15) days from notice thereof. . with the confluence of all the requirements for the discharge of this respondent. that such discretion should have been exercised. Ariño. We respectfully beg leave of the Honorable Supreme Court to manifest that We are amenable to setting aside the questioned Resolutions and to grant the prosecution's motion to discharge accused Generoso Sansaet as state witness. and the disposition taken on a holistic view of all the facts and issues herein discussed. however. Nistal. in the exercise of its sound discretion. was penned by Associate Justice Narciso T. Provincial Prosecutor and Deputized Ombudsman Prosecutor Claudio A. after the retirement of two members of its Second Division 37 and the reconstitution thereof. Amores. Agusan del Sur. 1995. after going over the arguments submitted by the Solicitor-General and re-assessing Our position on the matter. 1993 and March 7. 5) That while the legal issues involved had been already discussed and passed upon by the Second Division in the aforesaid Resolution. and Francisco Macalit. Thus. the prosecution may propose but it is for the trial court. Municipal Circuit Trial Court in San Francisco. both the Special Prosecutor and the Solicitor General strongly urge and propose that he be allowed to testify as a state witness. private complainant who initiated the criminal cases through his letter-complaint. Alberto Juvilan of the Sangguniang Bayan of San Fernando. His testimony can be substantially corroborated on its material points by reputable witnesses. who participated in the resolution asking their Provincial Governor to file the appropriate case against respondent Paredes. detailed the substance of his projected testimony in his Affidavit of Explanation and Rectifications. as follows: Judge Ciriaco C. This Court is not unaware of the doctrinal rule that. and not merely on the sole issue of the applicability of the attorney-client privilege. who obtained the certification of non-arraignment from Judge Ariño. On the final requirement of the Rules. on this procedural aspect. it does not appear that respondent Sansaet has at any time been convicted of any offense involving moral turpitude. This change of heart and direction respondent Sandiganbayan eventually assumed. identified in the basic petition with a digest of their prospective testimonies. Teofilo Gelacio. Agusan del Sur. the chairman and new members thereof 39 declared: 4) That the questioned Resolutions of December 22. In an inversely anticlimactic Manifestation and Comment 38 dated June 14.

D.. 532 ("Anti-Piracy and Highway Robbery Law of 1974") and imposing upon each of them a prison term of reclusion perpetua. C.WHEREFORE. Vitug. J.. the judgment of the court a quo convicting the accusedappellants EDUARDO LABALAN OCIMAR and ALEXANDER CORTEZ MENDOZA for violation of P. 18 and MIGUEL P.00. Jr.00 to P50. in accordance with prevailing jurisprudence.000. RTC-Cagayan de Oro City.000. PADERANGA. SO ORDERED. and Torres. 2003 PEOPLE OF THE PHILIPPINES. HONORABLE NAZAR U. petitioner. Cirilo Cañeba.. No.00. DECISION YNARES-SANTIAGO. CHAVES. Republic of the Philippines SUPREME COURT Manila FIRST DIVISION G. Romero. Judge. Cruz. 19 PREMISES CONSIDERED. Bellosillo.000. The indemnity to his heirs for his death is increased from P30. JJ. concur. Jr. P25.00. together with the award for funeral expenses. are on leave.. as regards the indemnity to the heirs of Capt.000. Cirilo Cañeba.00. Griño-Aquino and Medialdea.R. they are not disputed. respectively.00.000. in the amounts of P45. Jr. Padilla.. However. are AFFIRMED. SO ORDERED. concur. 131377 February 11. Francisco and Panganiban. JJ. vs.: . Now on the civil aspect of the case. At any rate. the same should be increased to P50. Melo. Puno.. Davide. Jr. Hermosisima. Br. We find the awards made by the trial court to be supported by the evidence on record.000..000. Mendoza.J. Kapunan. Costs against accused-appellants. and loss of expected support of the heirs of the late Capt. Narvasa. respondents. moral damages.. the writ of certiorari prayed for is hereby granted SETTING ASIDE the impunged resolutions and ORDERING that the present reliefs sought in these cases by petitioner be allowed and given due course by respondent Sandiganbayan.00 and P720. JJ. which the court a quo fixed at P30. Jr.

John Doe. Private respondent objected to the presentation of Roxas’ testimony. The following day. 1993. 8639. he must first be discharged as a state witness. It also manifested its intention to present Julito Ampo as another state witness or ordinary prosecution witness. 1993. Only Felipe Galarion was tried and convicted. Criminal Case No. Eddie Torion. "Fely Roxas" and "Lolong Roxas. presided by respondent Judge Nazar U. 1993. In order to give Roxas the opportunity to adduce evidence in support of his defense. He engaged the services of private respondent Miguel Paderanga as his counsel." was identified as another member of the group who was responsible for the slaying of the Bucag family. All the other accused were at large. the amended information was again amended to include private respondent Paderanga as one of the accused in Criminal Case No. considering all points raised by both sides. also known as "Ely Roxas". 1997 of the Court of Appeals. Branch 18 in Criminal Case No. in October 1988. to discharge Roxas as a state witness. the prosecution called Felizardo Roxas as its first witness. 1993. 1993. 1993 of the Regional Trial Court of Cagayan de Oro City. the prosecution cannot present Roxas as a hostile witness. On June 3. An amended information was filed on October 6. Peter Doe and Richard Doe. July 15." After both sides or both panels for that matter extensively argued their respective sides. a preliminary investigation was conducted. with the Regional Trial Court of Gingoog City. perception and interpretation of what the prosecution refers to as "hostile witness. The trial court ruled further that before Roxas can be presented as a witness for the prosecution. Thus. the trial court issued an Order denying the prosecution’s motion for reconsideration but setting the motion for the discharge of Roxas as state witness for hearing. Felizardo Roxas. Roxas implicated Atty. The trial court took the matter under advisement. The prosecution filed a motion for reconsideration or. Cesar Sabit. Consequently. In his counter-affidavit. 1988 to implead Roxas as a co-accused. that the ruling of the Court should stand and is in fact reiterated with particular reference . 86-39 was transferred to the Regional Trial Court of Cagayan de Oro City. Trial of the case ensued. to wit: The Court believes that it has amply heard the matter at bar referring to whether the Order of 19 May 1993 on the contention.1 which dismissed the petition for certiorari assailing the Orders dated June 3. Otherwise put. and September 23. Informations for Multiple Murder for the killing of members of the Bucag family in Gingoog City were filed against Felipe Galarion.This is a petition for review of the decision dated November 7. 87-2-244. At the hearing on May 18. Two years later. May 19. Manuel Sabit.2 Venue of the case was moved to Cagayan de Oro City by virtue of Administrative Order No. 86-39. Branch 18. Sometime in October 1986. Julito Ampo. it is the considered view of the Court. in the alternative. Chaves. it sustained private respondent’s objection on the ground that the presentation of Roxas’ testimony will violate his right against self-incrimination. Paderanga as the mastermind of the killings.

1993." thus categorizing and removing such statement from the other kind or class of evidence mentioned therein. docketed as CA- .7 On November 17. thus: xxx xxx xxx.6 On August 9. the rule speaks of "and the sworn statement of such proposed state witness. it appearing that the same does not point to or specify any particular Order on record that has to be reconsidered. Sec. prohibition and mandamus with the Court of Appeals. and that at the hearing for the discharge of a proposed state witness. the trial court denied the motion for lack of merit.31a\^/phi1. through the Office of the Solicitor General. that the qualification of a proposed state witness must be proved by evidence other than his own testimony. the trial court issued an Order4 allowing the presentation of the testimony of Felizardo Roxas for purposes of proving the conditions of Rule 119. PREMISES CONSIDERED. The questioned Order issued on 29 June 1993 is hereby reconsidered and/or set aside. it is the considered view of this Court that. In an Order dated September 23. On the other Motion for Reconsideration simultaneously filed by the prosecution. only his sworn statement may be admitted and considered by the Court. he filed a motion for reconsideration. However. the Court would like to be satisfied as to which contending side is correct on the issue whether the proposed witness-accused Felizardo "Ely" Roxas would satisfy the requirements embodied in Section 9. Whatever matters that have been treated therein are deemed resolved hereinabove. Considering the manifestation of the prosecution to the effect that it is adopting the same move and stand with respect to the proposed discharge of accused Julito Ampo. 1993. the ruling herein made likewise applies to accused Ampo.on the matter on hostile witness. the trial court issued an Omnibus Order granting private respondent’s motion for reconsideration. arguing that the presentation of Roxas’ testimony will be tantamount to allowing him to testify as a state witness even before his discharge as such. June 30. The "evidence" contemplated in the above-quoted last portion of the first paragraph of Rule 119.5 Private respondent interposed an objection. the prosecution. filed a petition for certiorari. which the trial court overruled. only his sworn statement can be presented and not his oral testimony. 1993. The next day. is any evidence other than his testimony. regarding a proposed state witness. 9. no ruling or action thereon is necessary. Precisely. (underscoring copied) xxx xxx On June 29. Rule 119. 1993. Section 9 of the Rules of Court on the discharge of a state witness. at this stage and insofar as the proposed state witness is concerned. with respect to the alternative prayer in the Omnibus Motion for reconsideration. without prejudice to the prosecution’s presenting any other evidence in support of the discharge. On July 15. the prosecution filed a motion for reconsideration. this Court is left with no other legally plausible alternative but to grant the subject Motion for Reconsideration of accused Miguel Paderanga filed on 30 June 1993. 1993. 1993.

It was even filed within sixty days. however. This is error. July 15. 1993. Hence. 232 SCRA 104. wherein it raised the matter of presenting Roxas as an ordinary witness. he may testify against a co-defendant where he has agreed to do so. 1993.8 Hence. in passing upon the issue of whether or not the prosecution may present the testimony of Felizardo Roxas as a hostile witness. There is a difference between testifying as . 1997. 1993 was interlocutory. prohibition and mandamus before the Court of Appeals. the reglementary period prescribed in the present 1997 Rules of Civil Procedure. and September 23. SP No. the Court of Appeals dismissed the petition for lack of merit. 1993. assailing the trial court’s Orders of June 3. BY LOOSELY CITING THE CASE OF AMARANTE v. be assailed in a special civil action for certiorari. It may. The prosecution. 1993 disallowing the said presentation had already become final due to the prosecution’s failure to appeal the same. The petition. 1993 Order. WHETHER OR NOT THE COURT OF APPEALS GRAVELY ERRED IN LIMITING THE EVIDENCE THAT NEEDS TO BE PRESENTED BY THE PROSECUTION IN ITS MOTION TO DISCHARGE TO THE RESPECTIVE SWORN STATEMENT EXECUTED BY ITS PROPOSED WITNESSES AND IN UPHOLDING THE TRIAL COURT’S DENIAL OF THE PRESENTATION OF OTHER EVIDENCE. with full knowledge of his right and the consequences of his acts.R.12 It is not necessary that the court discharges him first as state witness. Thereafter. There is nothing in the rules that says so. 1993. as distinguished from a state witness. it nevertheless appears that it filed a Motion for Reconsideration of the Omnibus Order dated July 15. the prosecution instituted a petition for certiorari. 32616. WHETHER OR NOT THE COURT OF APPEALS GRAVELY ERRED IN RULING THAT THE CHALLENGED ORDER OF THE TRIAL COURT DATED 3 JUNE 1993 (WHICH DENIED PROSECUTION’S MOTION FOR FELIZARDO "ELY" ROXAS TO BE PRESENTED AS AN ORDINARY WITNESS) HAS ALREADY BECOME FINAL SINCE NO APPEAL HAS BEEN PERFECTED WITHIN THE REGLEMENTARY PERIOD. II. it did not finally dispose of the case on its merits. petitioner herein. there is no need to first discharge them as state witnesses before they can be presented on the stand. the petition for certiorari may be filed within a reasonable period. held that the trial court’s Order of June 3.9 The Court of Appeals. Under the Rules of Court then governing. this petition for review raising the following issues: I. the Order dated June 3. for to do so would compel him to be a witness against himself. the Order cannot be the proper subject of appeal. Clearly.G. COURT OF APPEALS. was filed well within the reasonable period contemplated by the Rules. 1993. 1993. It is true that an accused cannot be made a hostile witness for the prosecution. clearly.11 This Motion was denied by the trial court on September 23. However. also argues that Ely Roxas and Julito Ampo have voluntarily expressed their consent to testify as prosecution witnesses. On November 7. As such. on November 17.10 While there is no showing in the record that the prosecution moved for a reconsideration of the June 3. The petition has merit.

In this regard. the petition is GRANTED. In the first.13 In the second. which is to prevent unnecessary or arbitrary exclusion from the complaint of persons guilty of the crime charged. suffice it to state that private respondent can interpose the proper objection during the direct examination of these witnesses. the proposed state witness has to qualify as a witness for the state. Further. in Criminal Case No.15 There is no other evidence more competent than the testimony of the proposed witness himself to prove the conditions that his testimony is absolutely necessary in the case. When the law does not distinguish. The assailed decision of the Court of Appeals dated November 7. under Rule 130. is directed to determine the voluntariness of Felizardo Roxas’ and Julito Ampo’s decision to testify as prosecution witnesses and. The Regional Trial Court of Cagayan de Oro City. that there is no other direct evidence available for the proper prosecution of the offense. We agree. to allow the prosecution to present said witnesses. This is a matter that the trial court must determine with certainty. we cannot simply rely on petitioner’s representation that Roxas and Ampo have volunteered to testify for the prosecution. in addition to the presentation of the sworn statement of the accused concerned. it is still premature for private respondent to raise this objection in the instant petition. after which he is discharged as an accused and exempted from prosecution. What it simply requires. Petitioner also maintains that it can validly present the testimony of Ely Roxas and Julito Ampo at the hearing for their discharge as state witnesses. Private respondent counters Roxas and Ampo cannot be allowed to testify because their testimony will effectively constitute an admission by a conspirator which. The provision does not make any distinction as to the kind of evidence the prosecution may present. the witness remains an accused and can be made liable should he be found guilty of the criminal offense. Section 30 of the Rules of Court.state witness and testifying as a co-accused. 1997 is REVERSED. is the presentation of such evidence as are necessary to determine if the conditions exist for the discharge. In the alternative. Indeed. WHEREFORE. Section 17 of the Revised Rules of Criminal Procedure (formerly Rule 119. lest their right against self-incrimination be violated. thereafter. the trial court is directed to allow .14 No exemption from the term evidence is provided by the law as to exclude the testimony of the accused. that his testimony can be corroborated in its material points. Section 9). we should not distinguish. provides that the trial court may direct one or more of the accused to be discharged with their consent so that they may be witnesses for the state "after requiring the prosecution to present evidence and the sworn statement of each proposed state witness at a hearing in support of the discharge" (underscoring ours). in view of the foregoing. 86-39. Rule 119. that he does not appear to be the most guilty. so as to meet the object of the law.16 is inadmissible as evidence against a co-conspirator until the conspiracy is established by evidence other than said declaration. when the prosecution propounds questions which may touch on the matter of conspiracy. and that he has not been convicted of any offense involving moral turpitude. the trial judge will not be able to clarify matters found in the sworn statements of the proposed witnesses if they are not allowed to testify. However.

Respondents. DECISION QUISUMBING. 99-0878. committed as follows: That on or about the 25th day of April.2 . 1999. CONTRARY TO LAW.. 2003 cancelled the scheduled promulgation of judgment and reopened the case for reception of evidence from two prosecution witnesses who were not presented during trial. vs. Davide. petitioner Rene Cabarles seeks to annul the Order1 issued by respondent Judge Bonifacio Sanz Maceda in Criminal Case No. in the City of Las Piñas. Philippines and within the jurisdiction of this Honorable Court. Rene "Nonoy" Cabarles y Adizas. Carpio and Azcuna. for murder. Cabarles was charged with murder under the following information: The undersigned Prosecutor II accuses RENE "NONOY" CABARLES Y ADIZAS of the crime of Murder. The questioned Order dated April 1. assault. did then and there willfully. 1999.. 2007 RENE CABARLES. the above-named accused.: In an original action filed under Rule 65 of the 1997 Rules of Civil Procedure. and stab with a deadly weapon (fan knife) one Antonio Callosa. unlawfully and feloniously attack. (Chairman). 161330 February 20. filed with the Regional Trial Court of Las Piñas City. JJ. HON. SO ORDERED. without justifiable motive with intent to kill and by means of treachery and evident premeditation. No. which directly caused his death. concur. The facts of the case are as follows: On June 18. JUDGE BONIFACIO SANZ MACEDA AND PEOPLE OF THE PHILIPPINES. entitled People of the Philippines v.J. Jr. Republic of the Philippines SUPREME COURT Manila SECOND DIVISION G.R. Petitioner.Felizardo Roxas and Julito Ampo to testify at the hearing on the motion for their discharge as state witnesses.. Vitug. Branch 275. J. C.

Police Inspector Prudencio Parejos. Neither Pedrosa nor Dr. The trial court scheduled the case for hearing on the following dates.4 When the case was called on June 27. the prosecution was unable to present its evidence on the first four hearing dates. May 4. The second prosecution witness. 2000. his testimony was dispensed with. the prosecution rested its case and formally offered its evidence. that subpoenas were issued to these two witnesses requiring their attendance for the June 27. trial on the merits began only on May 23. the second subpoena by her husband.7 May 11 and June 20.15 . Instead." There was no evidence. and Dr. 2001. Salen appeared during the said hearing. and presentation of defense evidence on June 20 and 27. Through no fault of its own. Since defense counsel agreed to stipulate that Carlos would testify on matters in his May 13. 11.12 and August 1. to wit: pre-trial on November 22. His testimony was likewise dispensed with after defense counsel agreed to stipulate that Police Inspector Parejos would testify on what was in the spot report of the stabbing incident. Salvador Pedrosa.9 The first subpoena was personally received by her. 1999 Sinumpaang Salaysay. the prosecution failed to present a witness.8 and August 1. 2001 hearing.Cabarles pleaded not guilty. 2001 hearing. Imelda Pedrosa. Salen requiring his attendance on May 1110 and 23. was presented in court during the June 20. Salen. Records show that four subpoenas were issued to Pedrosa informing her that she had to appear on November 22. Carlos Callosa.5 April 116 and 18. 2001 when the prosecution called Carlos Callosa to the witness stand. Romeo T. 2001. and the third and fourth subpoenas had no proofs of service. Taking into consideration the absence of a subpoena issued to Pedrosa and Dr. and August 1. however. the alleged eyewitness. the three subpoenas issued to Dr. Judge Maceda gave the prosecution a last chance but warned: … It is however understood whether the subpoena is actually issued and served or not upon the prosecution witnesses and service of such subpoena or notice will not relieved (sic) the prosecution to make a formal offer of evidence should the prosecution failed (sic) to present any witness in the next scheduled hearing. Salen and notwithstanding the vehement objection registered by Cabarles. 2000. 2001. In the June 20. 2001. and 23. 2001 hearing. 2001 hearing. 2001. brother of the deceased. presentation of prosecution’s evidence on April 18. which would explain why they were absent.11 June 20. the prosecution said it would offer its evidence and rest its case should the People fail to present a witness at the next scheduled hearing.14 With no witness for the August 1.3 The prosecution had subpoenas issued to its witnesses: Flocerfina Callosa. Meanwhile. the mother of the deceased. Police Senior Inspector of the Southern Police District (SPD) Crime Laboratory to testify on the contents of the death certificate of Antonio Callosa.13 were all returned with the notation "addressee moved. July 4 and 18. 18.

Thereafter. He explained that because there was a mix-up in the dates specified in the subpoena and the hearing dates of when the case was actually heard. giving the People June 19 and July 3.] the promulgation set tomorrow. to be served by the Branch Sheriff who is required to make a prompt return thereof.17 Judge Maceda denied Cabarles’s motion for reconsideration in an Order dated April 25. Judge Maceda further observed that the May 18. SO ORDERED.]m. Pedrosa took the witness stand and completed her direct examination. In it. Judge Maceda motu proprio issued the questioned order reopening the case. to enable the prosecution to avail [of] the last chance granted by this Court. 2003 as additional hearing dates. accused Cabarles and Luisito Javier. the prosecution still failed to present a witness during the May 8. which was not a date assigned for the prosecution but May 11. Cabarles filed the present petition questioning Judge Maceda’s order. 2001 setting was concerned. 2003. 2001. the prosecution was unable to present its evidence on the first four of the five hearing dates: April 18. the Public Attorney’s Office conducted its cross-examination of Pedrosa. But. with leave of court. Issue the corresponding subpoena to Imelda Pedrosa and Dr. May 4. Set the reception of the testimony of the eye witness and the doctor on May 1. on June 19. Also. Judge Maceda found that there was no hearing conducted on April 18. 2001 because the judge was indisposed. again decided to extend to the prosecution another chance.Thereafter. His order in part read: … As a consequence[. 2001 assigned to it. the subpoena issued to Pedrosa required her to appear on April 11. since the prosecution was not able to present its evidence on the first four hearing dates and there was either no return on the subpoenas subsequently issued or there was no subpoena issued at all to Pedrosa and Dr. Romeo T. 2003 to hear the testimonies of Pedrosa and Dr. 2001. Salen failed since the doctor was no longer assigned to the SPD Crime Laboratory. filed a demurrer to evidence but it was denied by Judge Maceda. 2003 hearing. 2003 at 2:00 [p. 2001 hearing was never scheduled and May 25. he observed that the prosecution may not have been given its day in court resulting in a miscarriage of justice. Salen. 2003. 2001. 2001 was likewise not a hearing date set by the court. alleging that it was issued with grave abuse of discretion. is canceled. Judge Maceda noted that another subpoena was issued to Pedrosa and Dr. Salen requiring them to appear on May 11 and June 20.19 Finally. Since trial in the lower court continued. . 2001. April 2. 11 and 18. 2003. A day before the scheduled promulgation of judgment on April 2. and insofar as the June 20. upon motion. The subpoena issued to Pedrosa for that hearing was duly served.16 Two witnesses were called for the defense. Nonetheless. Judge Maceda. Notwithstanding the service upon Pedrosa. on July 3. the May 11. Salen directing them to appear on the aforesaid date and time. According to Judge Maceda. Salen. 2003 and set the case for hearing on May 8. 2001 hearing was reset to May 25. it was not one of the days set by the court for the prosecution. A few days thereafter. the prosecution should have been given a last chance to present the alleged eyewitness and the doctor. Cabarles. a fisherman.18 but service upon Dr.

20 Cabarles was then given a chance to adduce further evidence on his behalf. the cases cited by the People are not at all applicable in this case since they were tried and decided before the introduction of Section 24 under the Revised Rules of Criminal Procedure. was recalled to the witness On August 9. 2004. jurisprudence providing that a judge has the discretion to reopen a case even before promulgation of judgment still holds. After a thorough consideration of the submissions by the parties. Cabarles argues that a case may only be reopened after a judgment of conviction has been made but before its finality. before judgment was rendered. For Judge Maceda. 2003. Judge Maceda set the date for the reception of evidence on the civil aspect of the criminal case on August 14. which is not the case here. 2000. deriving validity and acceptance from long. Judge Maceda deferred the promulgation of judgment and ordered the case archived pending this Court’s resolution of the case. the defense counsel agreed on the facts contained in the death certificate of the victim. Cabarles insists that Judge Maceda gravely abused his discretion when he ordered the reopening of the case before promulgation of judgment although both parties had already rested their case.On July 24. so the testimony of Dr.21 In his petition.1avvphi1. the Office of the Solicitor General (OSG) contends that Section 24 is a new provision which merely formalized the long accepted practice of judges of reopening a case to avoid a miscarriage of justice. when Carlos. 2003 Order reopening the case. [2] WHETHER PETITIONER’S RIGHT TO DUE PROCESS AND SPEEDY DISPOSITION OF HIS CASE WAS VIOLATED. to receive the testimonies of two prosecution witnesses after both parties had rested their case? Did the said order violate Cabarles’s right to due process and speedy disposition of his case? On the first issue. established usage.24 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. the deceased’s brother. Salen was dispensed with. . A motion to reopen a case to receive further proofs was not in the old rules but it was nonetheless a recognized procedural recourse. Cabarles insists that the reopening of a case under Section 24 presupposes that judgment has already been promulgated. This being the Did Judge Maceda act with grave abuse of discretion in issuing motu proprio the April 1. According to petitioner. 2003.23 Rule 119 of the Revised Rules of Criminal Procedure. as provided in Section 24. we find that the petition is meritorious. Thereafter. Cabarles raises as issues the following: [1] WHETHER THE RESPONDENT HONORABLE JUDGE GRAVELY ABUSED HIS DISCRETION WHEN HE ISSUED THE QUESTIONED ORDER DESPITE THE ABSENCE OF A FINAL JUDGMENT OF CONVICTION.22 1awphi1.

2003 Order without notice and hearing and without giving the prosecution and accused an opportunity to manifest their position on the matter. On the second issue. Furthermore. Cabarles objected to its admission on the ground that the same was inadmissible having been received by the court after Judge Maceda issued the questioned order.31 Here. a waiver must be certain and unequivocal. 2003 Order. According to Cabarles. after the parties have produced their respective direct proofs. the reopening of the case is clearly detrimental to him since it meant another day in prison. Rule 119. but before judgment is rendered. (3) the order is issued only after a hearing is conducted. (2) the order is issued by the judge on his own initiative or upon motion.29 However. Section 24. the same does not amount to a waiver of Cabarles’s objection to the April 1. when asked to comment on the prosecution’s formal offer of evidence taken after the case was reopened. Generally.28 This remedy of reopening a case was meant to prevent a miscarriage of justice. Although the defense counsel had cross-examined Pedrosa and had participated in the proceedings after the case was reopened by Judge Maceda.26 and even after promulgation but before finality of judgment27 and the only controlling guideline governing a motion to reopen is the paramount interest of justice. is contrary to the express language of Section 24. the prosecution was given ample opportunity to present its case as seen by the issuance of several subpoenas to Pedrosa and Dr. However. without the benefit of a hearing. to our mind. and (5) the presentation of additional and/or further evidence should be terminated within thirty days from the issuance of the order. while Judge Maceda is allowed to reopen the case before judgment is rendered. (4) the order intends to prevent a miscarriage of justice. Cabarles’s right to a speedy trial had not been violated since delays caused by the .30 The issuance of the said order. constitutes grave abuse of discretion and goes against the due process clause of the Constitution which requires notice and opportunity to be heard. To do so would violate his constitutional right to due process and a speedy disposition of his case.25 A motion to reopen may thus properly be presented only after either or both parties had formally offered and closed their evidence. Judge Maceda issued the April 1. To be effective. for good reasons. Cabarles maintains that contrary to Judge Maceda’s observation. Rule 119 and existing jurisprudence stress the following requirements for reopening a case: (1) the reopening must be before the finality of a judgment of conviction. Cabarles filed the present petition seeking for a writ of certiorari against Judge Maceda before Pedrosa was cross-examined. Cabarles argues that he is presumed innocent until proven guilty and should not be made to wait indefinitely for prosecution witnesses to testify. Section 24 requires that a hearing must first be conducted. and its ruling will not be disturbed in the appellate court where no abuse of discretion appears. in the furtherance of justice. may allow new evidence upon their original case. The OSG counters that the reopening of the case was made in accordance with Section 24 since the prosecution is entitled to the reopening of the case to prevent a miscarriage of justice. 2003 Order was issued under the Revised Rules of Criminal Procedure. they are allowed to offer rebutting evidence only. Also. Salen. This failure. the court.The April 1.

He also argues that this case not only involves grave abuse of discretion but also a pure question of law involving the application of Section 24.32 Rule 119 of the Revised Rules of Criminal Procedure. still the prosecution had a total of four hearing dates when it was given the chance to prove its case: May 23. all persons shall have the right to a speedy disposition of their cases. the prosecution was given ample opportunity to present all its witnesses but it failed to do so. Particular regard must be taken of the facts and circumstances peculiar to each case. then the assailed order must be annulled and set aside for having been issued contrary to law and consequently with grave abuse of discretion. Contrary to the justification stated in the April 1. that there be a hearing conducted before the order to reopen is issued. 2003 Order. like the right to speedy trial. Salen pertained to hearing dates which were different from those assigned for reception of prosecution’s evidence. Although the matter of reopening a case for reception of further evidence is largely a matter of discretion on the part of the trial court judge.38 With regard to the OSG’s allegation in its Comment and Memorandum. June 20 and 27. A mere mathematical reckoning of the time involved is not sufficient. 2001. this judicial action must not. This Court’s original . capriciously and/or unreasonably. Cabarles insists that he is a detention prisoner needing immediate resolution of his case. however. and August 1. some of the trial dates assigned to the prosecution did not push through and some of the subpoenas issued to Pedrosa and/or Dr.33 In this particular case.35 On Cabarles’s right to a speedy disposition of his case. we agree that under the Constitution.37 The right to a speedy disposition of a case. the prosecution was not deprived of its day in court. The failure of the prosecution to take full advantage of the opportunities given does not change the fact that it was accorded such opportunities. or when unjustified postponements of the trial are asked for and secured. and oppressive delays. but the life and liberty of the accused as well.absence of a prosecution witness are excluded when computing the time within which trial should start under Section 3. that Cabarles failed to observe the rule on hierarchy of courts since the petition for certiorari was filed directly with the Supreme Court. 2003 Order as having been issued with grave abuse of discretion.39 It is necessary to stress that a direct recourse to this Court is highly improper for it violates the established policy of strict observance of the hierarchy of courts. we are constrained to reiterate that the concept of speedy disposition is relative or flexible. which is a new provision. is deemed violated only when the proceeding is attended by vexatious.36 Although a discussion on the right to speedy disposition of the case is mooted by our nullification of Judge Maceda’s April 1. are at stake. While it may be true that due to some confusion with the trial court’s calendar.34 Since Judge Maceda issued the questioned order without complying with the third requirement of Section 24. The presence of prosecution witnesses in court is the responsibility of the public prosecutor and it is incumbent upon him to take the initiative of ensuring the attendance of his witnesses at the trial. or when without cause or justifiable motive. Nowhere is this guaranty more significant and meaningful than in criminal cases where not only the fortune. a long period of time is allowed to elapse without the party having his case tried. be done whimsically. capricious.

to be invoked without fear or favor.jurisdiction to issue a writ of certiorari is concurrent with the Court of Appeals and with the regional trial courts in proper cases within their respective regions. the protection provided by the Bill of Rights is bestowed upon all individuals. Any further delay in the resolution of the instant petition will be prejudicial to Cabarles. 2003 Order. it would open the floodgates to endless litigations because whenever an accused is on the brink of acquittal after trial. while prejudicial to the State and the private offended party. and realizing its inadequacy. we are willing to take cognizance of this case as an exception to the principle of hierarchy of courts. It is a policy that is necessary to prevent inordinate demands upon this Court’s time and attention which are better devoted to those matters within its exclusive jurisdiction.41 and almost eight years thereafter. without exception. . clearly and specifically set out in the petition. this concurrence of jurisdiction does not grant a party seeking any of the extraordinary writs the absolute freedom to file his petition with the court of his choice. petitions for the issuance of such extraordinary writs against a regional trial court should be filed with the Court of Appeals. Also. gender or political persuasion . color. Regardless of how much we want to punish the perpetrators of this ghastly crime and give justice to the victim and her family. but justice must be dispensed with an even hand. However. In fine.40 Under the present circumstances however. This is a criminal prosecution. apparently to enable the prosecution to prove again what it failed to prove in the first instance. The hierarchy of courts determines the appropriate forum for such petitions. it is necessary to resolve the issues raised in this petition. Aside from its being unprocedural. This Court is a court of last resort. and must so remain if it is to satisfactorily perform the functions assigned to it by the Constitution and immemorial tradition. and considering the irregularities in the issuance of the April 1. A direct invocation of this Court’s original jurisdiction to issue these writs should be allowed only when there are special and important reasons therefor. Monje instructive: A proposal has been expressed for the remand of this case to the trial court for further proceedings. we are not unmindful of the gravity of the crime charged. to the extent of affording the prosecution a fresh opportunity to refurbish its evidence. should not be treated by this Court with indulgence.42 Since Section 24 is a new provision. Thus. we find the Supreme Court’s pronouncement in the case of People v. the Court has full discretionary power to take cognizance of the petition filed directly to it for compelling reasons or if warranted by the nature of the issues raised. no judgment has yet been rendered. the prosecution would insist to be allowed to augment its evidence which should have been presented much earlier. regardless of race. and to prevent further overcrowding of its docket. creed. As a final word. We cannot agree because it will set a dangerous precedent. This is the established policy.whether privileged or less privileged . The lamentable failure of the prosecution to fill the vital gaps in its evidence. and to order the remand of this case to the court a quo to enable the prosecution to present additional evidence would violate the constitutional right of the accused to due process. Cabarles invokes the jurisdiction of this Court in the interest of speedy justice since the information against him was filed way back in June 1999. and to speedy determination of his case.

ergo. QUISUMBING Associate Justice WE CONCUR: .Hence. We hold that the assailed Order dated April 1. Let the records of this case be REMANDED immediately to the trial court concerned for its appropriate action without further delay. he is not called upon to disprove what the prosecution has not proved. SO ORDERED. the accused deserves no less than an acquittal. LEONARDO A. Accordingly. Said Order is hereby ANNULLED and SET ASIDE. any evidence received and offered in this case as a result of the April 1.43 WHEREFORE. 2003 was issued with grave abuse of discretion. the instant petition is GRANTED. No pronouncement as to costs. 2003 Order is hereby stricken off the record.