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

165496 February 12, 2007

HUN HYUNG PARK, Petitioner, vs. EUNG WON CHOI, Respondent. DECISION CARPIO MORALES, J.: Petitioner, Hun Hyung Park, assails the Court of Appeals (CA) Resolutions dated May 20, 2004 1 and September 28, 20042 in CA G.R. CR No. 28344 dismissing his petition and denying reconsideration thereof, respectively. In an Information3 dated August 31, 2000, respondent, Eung Won Choi, was charged for violation of Batas Pambansa Blg. 22, otherwise known as the Bouncing Checks Law, for issuing on June 28, 1999 Philippine National Bank Check No. 0077133 postdated August 28, 1999 in the amount of P1,875,000 which was dishonored for having been drawn against insufficient funds. Upon arraignment, respondent, with the assistance of counsel, pleaded "not guilty" to the offense charged. Following the pre-trial conference, the prosecution presented its evidence-in-chief. After the prosecution rested its case, respondent filed a Motion for Leave of Court to File Demurrer to Evidence to which he attached his Demurrer, asserting that the prosecution failed to prove that he received the notice of dishonor, hence, the presumption of the element of knowledge of insufficiency of funds did not arise. 4 By Order5 of February 27, 2003, the Metropolitan Trial Court (MeTC) of Makati, Branch 65 granted the Demurrer and dismissed the case. The prosecution’s Motion for Reconsideration was denied. 6 Petitioner appealed the civil aspect7 of the case to the Regional Trial Court (RTC) of Makati, contending that the dismissal of the criminal case should not include its civil aspect. By Decision of September 11, 2003, Branch 60 of the RTC held that while the evidence presented was insufficient to prove respondent’s criminal liability, it did not altogether extinguish his civil liability. It accordingly granted the appeal of petitioner and ordered respondent to pay him the amount of P1,875,000 with legal interest.8 Upon respondent’s motion for reconsideration, however, the RTC set aside its decision and ordered the remand of the case to the MeTC "for further proceedings, so that the defendant [-respondent herein] may adduce evidence on the civil aspect of the case."9 Petitioner’s motion for reconsideration of the remand of the case having been denied, he elevated the case to the CA which, by the assailed resolutions, dismissed his petition for the following reasons: 1. The verification and certification of non-forum shopping attached to the petition does not fully comply with Section 4, as amended by A.M. No. 00-2-10-SC, Rule 7, 1997 Rules of Court, because it does not give the assurance that the allegations of the petition are true and correct based on authentic records. 2. The petition is not accompanied by copies of certain pleadings and other material portions of the record, (i.e., motion for leave to file demurrer to evidence, demurrer to evidence and the opposition thereto, and the Municipal [sic] Trial Court’s Order dismissing Criminal Case No. 294690) as would support the allegations of the petition (Sec. 2, Rule 42, ibid.). 3. The Decision dated September 11, 2003 of the Regional Trial Court attached to the petition is an uncertified and illegible mere machine copy of the original (Sec. 2, Rule 42, ibid.). 4. Petitioners failed to implead the People of the Philippines as party-respondent in the petition. 10 In his present petition, petitioner assails the above-stated reasons of the appellate court in dismissing his petition. The manner of verification for pleadings which are required to be verified, such as a petition for review before the CA of an appellate judgment of the RTC,11 is prescribed by Section 4 of Rule 7 of the Rules of Court: Sec. 4. Verification. Except when otherwise specifically required by law or rule, pleadings need not be under oath, verified or accompanied by affidavit. A pleading is verified by an affidavit that the affiant has read the pleading and that the allegations therein are true and correct of his personal knowledge or based on authentic records.

2003 MeTC Order was already attached to his petition as Annex "G. 2003 Order dismissing the case) – petitioner contends that these documents are immaterial to his appeal. Utter disregard of the rules cannot just be rationalized by harking on the policy of liberal construction. This Court in fact observes that the copy of the other MeTC Order. It would play on predilection and pay no heed in providing enough assurance of the correctness of the allegations. A reading of the above-quoted Section 4 of Rule 7 indicates that a pleading may be verified under either of the two given modes or under both. 2003 RTC Decision.19 This Court has strictly been enforcing the requirement of verification and certification and enunciating that obedience to the requirements of procedural rules is needed if fair results are to be expected therefrom. is not a certified true copy and is not even legible. this parallel legal signification avoids a construction that will exclude the combination of the alternatives or bar the efficacy of any one of the alternatives standing alone.21 To sustain petitioner’s explanation that the basis of verification is a matter of simple preference would trivialize the rationale and diminish the resoluteness of the rule. and the MeTC February 27. On the second reason of the CA in dismissing the petition – that the petition was not accompanied by copies of certain pleadings and other material portions of the record as would support the allegations of the petition ( i. "authentic records" as a basis for verification bear significance in petitions wherein the greater portions of the allegations are based on the records of the proceedings in the court of origin and/or the court a quo.e. posits that he subsequently submitted to the CA copies of the enumerated documents. based on his personal knowledge. A relaxed application of the rule can only be justified by the attending circumstances of the case. petitioner himself could not have affirmed. 2003. To illustrate. or both. As pointed out by respondent. 15 Contrary to petitioner’s position. hence.. when the context of the law so warrants." or upon "knowledge. which petitioner prayed to be reinstated. the truthfulness of the statement in his petition 16 before the CA that at the pre-trial conference respondent admitted having received the letter of demand. The copy of the September 11. was likewise dismissed by the trial court on account of the same Demurrer. The veracity of the allegations in a pleading may be affirmed based on either one’s own personal knowledge or on authentic records. or on both sources." Annex "G" bares a replicate copy of a different order. information and belief. 2004 RTC Order denying petitioner’s Motion for Reconsideration. The use of the preposition "or" connotes that either source qualifies as a sufficient basis for verification and. On the other hand. as attachments to his Motion for Reconsideration. however. nonetheless.A pleading required to be verified which contains a verification based on "information and belief. or are true and correct and not merely speculative. Contrary to petitioner’s contention. that dated May 5. . it does not make it less a rule. 2004 RTC Order granting respondent’s Motion for Reconsideration and the March 29. It was to this Court that petitioner belatedly submitted an uncertified true copy of the said MeTC Order as an annex to his Reply to respondent’s Comment. however. needless to state. While petitioner averred before the CA in his Motion for Reconsideration that the February 27. require that the petition must "be accompanied by clearly legible duplicate original or true copies of the judgments or final orders of both lower courts."22 A perusal of the petition filed before the CA shows that the only duplicate original or certified true copies attached as annexes thereto are the January 14. Demurrer to Evidence and the Opposition thereto. and not solely on the personal knowledge of the petitioner. The Rules. but is dependent on thesurrounding nature of the allegations which may warrant that a verification be based either purely on personal knowledge.14 Bearing both a disjunctive and conjunctive sense.17 Hence. 12(Emphasis and underscoring supplied) Petitioner argues that the word "or" is a disjunctive term signifying disassociation and independence. as warranted. the range of permutation is not left to the pleader’s liking. the concurrence of both sources is more than sufficient. Its import must never be sacrificed in the name of mere expedience or sheer caprice. 2003 Order. or entirely on authentic records." or vice versa. which petitioner attached to his petition before the CA is similarly uncertified as true. Petitioner. he chose to affirm in his petition he filed before the court a quo that its contents are "true and correct of my own personal knowledge. respondent counters that the word "or" may be interpreted in a conjunctive sense and construed to mean as "and. from which he is appealing. the materiality of those documents is very apparent since the civil aspect of the case. certified correct by the clerk of court. petitioner needed to rely on the records to confirm its veracity. save for the MeTC February 27. For what is at stake is the matter of verity attested by the sanctity of an oath 18to secure an assurance that the allegations in the pleading have been made in good faith. Verification is not an empty ritual or a meaningless formality. because he (petitioner) was not present during the conference."13 and not on the basis of authentic documents. however. Petitioner later recompensed though by appending to his Motion for Reconsideration a duplicate original copy. 20 While the requirement is not jurisdictional in nature. Motion for Leave to File Demurrer to Evidence." or lacks a proper verification shall be treated as an unsigned pleading.

Procedural rules are tools designed to facilitate the adjudication of cases.30 If the filing of a separate civil action has not been reserved or priorly instituted or the enforcement of civil liability is not waived. The only recognized instance when an acquittal on demurrer carries with it the dismissal of the civil aspect is when there is a finding that the act or omission from which the civil liability may arise did not exist. the trial court should. be deemed extinguished if there is a finding on the final judgment in the criminal action that the act or omission from which the civil liability may arise did not exist. While it is true that litigation is not a game of technicalities. Passing on the dual purpose of a criminal action. The public prosecutor has generally no interest in appealing the civil aspect of a decision acquitting the accused. however. a court may not deny the demurrer as to the criminal aspect and at the same time grant the demurrer as to the civil aspect. petitioner was mandated to submit them in the required form. proceedings on the civil aspect of the case generally proceeds. 31 For.36 In the instant case. a judgment of acquittal is immediately final and executory and the prosecution cannot appeal the acquittal because of the constitutional prohibition against double jeopardy. it is equally true that every case must be prosecuted in accordance with the prescribed procedure to insure an orderly and speedy administration of justice.25 (Emphasis supplied) As to the third reason for the appellate court’s dismissal of his petition – failure to implead the People of the Philippines as a party in the petition – indeed.35 held: If demurrer is granted and the accused is acquitted by the court. in Salazar v. in case of acquittal. this Court ruled: Unless the offended party waives the civil action or reserves the right to institute it separately or institutes the civil action prior to the criminal action. however. there are two actions involved in a criminal case. was never intended to forge a bastion for erring litigants to violate the rules with impunity. the accused may still be adjudged civilly liable. On the other hand. the whole case is submitted for judgment on the basis of the evidence for the prosecution as the accused is deemed to have waived the right to present evidence. this we stress. The liberality in the interpretation and application of the rules applies only in proper cases and under justifiable causes and circumstances. the petition is devoid of merit. For if the court grants the demurrer. 32 The civil action based on delict may. 29 At that juncture. and (c) the civil liability of the accused does not arise from or is not based upon the crime of which the accused was acquitted. he having appealed only the civil aspect of the case. in some instances. . in case of conviction. There is a merger of the trial of the two cases to avoid multiplicity of suits. When a demurrer to evidence is filed without leave of court. the private complainant is merely a witness for the State on the criminal aspect of the action.27 As a rule. Courts and litigants alike are thus enjoined to abide strictly by the rules. unless the enforcement of the civil liability by a separate civil action has been waived or reserved. however. the MeTC granted the demurrer and dismissed the case without any finding that the act or omission from which the civil liability may arise did not exist. Thus this Court. it does not follow that the same evidence is insufficient to establish a preponderance of evidence. the accused has the right to adduce evidence on the civil aspect of the case unless the court also declares that the act or omission from which the civil liability may arise did not exist. allows a relaxation in the application of the rules. the accused may adduce countervailing evidence if the court denies the demurrer.34 Such denial bears no distinction as to the two aspects of the case because there is a disparity of evidentiary value between the quanta of evidence in such aspects of the case. appeal the civil aspect of the judgment despite the acquittal of the accused.Since both Orders of the MeTC were adverse to him even with respect to the civil aspect of the case.The second is the civil action arising from the delict. The private complainant is the plaintiff and the accused is the defendant. In a criminal action.24 He has not. In other words. Absent such determination. (b) the court declares that the liability of the accused is only civil. as petitioner contends. Either the offended party or the accused may. if the evidence so far presented is insufficient as proof beyond reasonable doubt. People. The parties are the People of the Philippines as the plaintiff and the accused. his petition before the CA was correctly dismissed. The case is terminated as far as he is concerned.23 In fine. The acquittal ends his work. The first is the criminal action for the punishment of the offender. The real parties in interest in the civil aspect of a decision are the offended party and the accused. for if the evidence so far presented is not insufficient to prove the crime beyond reasonable doubt. if there is any. The extinction of the penal action does not carry with it the extinction of the civil action where (a) the acquittal is based on reasonable doubt as only preponderance of evidence is required. the mandatory tenor of which is discernible thereunder and is well settled. And while the Court. 28 Technicality aside. 33 In case of a demurrer to evidence filed with leave of court. the court is called upon to decide the case including its civil aspect. petitioner fell short in his compliance with Section 2 (d) of Rule 42. then the same evidence is likewise not insufficient to establish civil liability by mere preponderance of evidence. the same is of no moment. advanced any strong compelling reasons to warrant a relaxation of the Rules. state the civil liability or damages caused by the wrongful act or omission to be recovered from the accused by the offended party. trial as to the civil aspect of the case must perforce continue. hence.26 (Underscoring supplied) It bears recalling that the MeTC acquitted respondent.

38 and (2) when respondent orally opposed petitioner’s motion for reconsideration pleading that proceedings with respect to the civil aspect of the case continue. Metropolitan Trial Court of Makati City.000. the court necessarily exercises jurisdiction over all issues that the law requires it to resolve.37 Given these conflicting claims which are factual. Branch 65 which is DIRECTED to forthwith set Criminal Case No. not the Rules of Civil Procedure which pertains to a civil action arising from the initiatory pleading that gives rise to the suit. respondent stands by his defense that he merely borrowed P1. One of the issues in a criminal case being the civil liability of the accused arising from the crime. the governing law is the Rules of Criminal Procedure. and that he already made a partial payment of P1. . SO ORDERED. 294690 for further proceedings only for the purpose of receiving evidence on the civil aspect of the case.000 with the remainder representing the interest. courts must indulge every reasonable presumption against it. He thereby recognized that there is basis for a remand. Petitioner’s position is tenuous.590. Petitioner’s citation of Section 1 of Rule 33 is incorrect. however. Costs against petitioner. a remand of the case would afford the fullest opportunity for the parties to ventilate. Any ambiguity in the voluntariness of the waiver is frowned upon. DENIED. Petitioner counters. Petitioner finally posits that respondent waived his right to present evidence on the civil aspect of the case (1) when the grant of the demurrer was reversed on appeal. 41 This Court therefore upholds respondent’s right to present evidence as reserved by his filing of leave of court to file the demurrer. it cannot be determined with certainty from the records the nature of the alleged oral objections of respondent to petitioner’s motion for reconsideration of the grant of the demurrer to evidence. that the payments made by respondent pertained to other transactions. WHEREFORE. the petition is. citing Section 1 of Rule 33.net Where a court has jurisdiction over the subject matter and over the person of the accused.1awphi1. The case is REMANDED to the court of origin.500.Respondent did not assail the RTC order of remand.39 As for petitioner’s attribution of waiver to respondent. Indicatively. in light of the foregoing discussions. and for the trial court to resolve the same. and the crime was committed within its territorial jurisdiction. Any waiver of the right to present evidence must be positively demonstrated.40 hence.

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