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PEOPLE vs SALAS

Facts: Mario Abong was originally charged with homicide in the Court of First Instance of Cebu but before he could be arraigned the case was reinvestigated on motion of the prosecution. As a result of the reinvestigation, amended information was filed, with no bail recommended, to which he pleaded not guilty. Trial commenced, but while it was in progress, the prisoner, taking advantage of the first information for homicide, succeeded in deceiving the city court of Cebu into granting him bail and ordering his release; and so he escaped. The judge, learning later of the trickery, cancelled the illegal bail bond and ordered Abong's rearrest. Abong, however, was gone. Nonetheless (Bernardo Salas), the prosecution moved that the hearing continue in accordance with the constitutional provision authorizing trial in absentia under certain circumstances. The judge denied the motion, however, and suspended all proceedings until the return of the accused. The order of the trial court is before the Supreme Court on certiorari and mandamus. Issue: Whether Abong may be tried in absentia, in light of his escape. Held: Section 19, Article IV of the 1973 Constitution provides that "In all criminal prosecution, the accused shall be presumed innocent until the contrary is proved and shall enjoy the right to be heard by himself and counsel, to be informed of the nature and cause of the accusation against him, to have a speedy, impartial and public trial, to meet the witnesses face to face, and to have compulsory process to secure the attendance of witnesses and the production of evidence in his behalf. However, after arraignment, trial may proceed notwithstanding the absence of the accused provided that he has been duly notified and his failure to appear is unjustified." The purpose of this rule is to speed up the disposition of criminal cases, trial of which could in the past be indefinitely deferred, and many times completely abandoned, because of the defendant's escape. The old case of People v. Avancea (32 OG 713) required his presence at certain stages of the trial which as a result, had to be discontinued as long as the defendant had not reappeared or remained at large. As his right to be present at these stages was then held not waivable even by his escape, such escape thus operated to the fugitive's advantage, and in mockery of the authorities, insofar as the trial could not proceed as long as he had not been recaptured. The doctrine laid down in that case has been modified by Section 19, which now allows trial in absentia, Now, the prisoner cannot by simply escaping thwart his continued prosecution and possibly eventual conviction provided only that: a) he has been arraigned; b) he has been duly notified of the trial; and c) his failure to appear is unjustified. Thus, the right to be present at one's trial may now be waived except only at that stage where the prosecution intends to present witnesses who will identify the accused. Under Section 19, the defendant's escape will be considered a waiver of this right and the inability of the court to notify him of the subsequent hearings will not prevent it from continuing with his trial. He will be deemed to have received due notice. The same fact of his escape will make his failure to appear unjustified because he has, by escaping, placed himself beyond the pale, and protection, of the law.

GIMINEZ vs NAZARENO

Facts: On 3 August 1973, Samson Suan, Alex Potot, Rogelio Mula, Fernando Cargando, Rogelio Baguio and Teodoro de la Vega, Jr., were charged with the crime of murder. On 22 August 1973, the accused were arraigned and each of them pleaded not guilty to the crime charged. Following the arraignment, the judge, Hon. Ramon E. Nazareno, set the hearing of the case for 18 September 1973 at 1:00 p.m. All the accused were duly informed of this. Before the scheduled date of the first hearing the de la Vega escaped from his detention center and on the said date, failed to appear in court. This prompted the fiscals handling the case (Fiscal Celso M. Gimenez and Federico B. Mercado) to file a motion with the lower court to proceed with the hearing of the case against all the accused praying that de la Vega, Jr. be tried in absentia invoking the application of Section 19, Article IV of the 1973 Constitution. Pursuant to the above-written provision, the lower court proceeded with the trial of the case but nevertheless gave de ala Vega the opportunity to take the witness stand the moment he shows up in court. After due trial, or on 6 November 1973, the lower court rendered a decision dismissing the case against the other five accused (Suan, et. al.) while holding in abeyance the proceedings against de la Vega. On 16 November 1973, Gimenez and Mercado filed a Motion for Reconsideration questioning the dispositive portion of the court's decision on the ground that it will render nugatory the constitutional provision on "trial in absentia" cited earlier. However, this was denied by the lower court in an Order dated 22 November 1973. Gimenez and Mercado filed a petition for certiorari and mandamus with the Supreme Court. Issue: Whether judgment upon an accused tried should be in abeyance pending the appearance of the accused before the court. Held: The second part of Section 19, Article IV of the 1973 Constitution provides that a "trial in absentia" may be had when the following requisites are present: (1) that there has been an arraignment; (2) that the accused has been notified; and (3) that he fails to appear and his failure to do so is unjustified. Herein, all the above conditions were attendant calling for a trial in absentia. De la Vega was arraigned on 22 August 1973 and in the said arraignment he pleaded not guilty. He was also informed of the scheduled hearings set on September 18 and 19, 1973 and this is evidenced by his signature on the notice issued by the lower court. It was also proved by a certified copy of the Police Blotter that de la Vega escaped from his detention center. No explanation for his failure to appear in court in any of the scheduled hearings was given. Even the trial court considered his absence unjustified. The lower court correctly proceeded with the reception of the evidence of the prosecution and the other accused in the absence of de la Vega, but it erred when it suspended the proceedings as to de la Vega and rendered a decision as to the other accused only. Upon the termination of a trial in absentia, the court has the duty to rule upon the evidence presented in court. The court need not wait for the time until the accused who escape from custody finally decides to appear in court to present his evidence and cross-examine the witnesses against him. To allow the delay of proceedings for this purpose is to render ineffective the constitutional provision on trial in absentia. Still, the accused remain to be presumed innocent, a judgment of conviction must still be based upon the evidence presented in court, and such evidence must prove him guilty beyond reasonable doubt. There can be no violation of due process since the accused was given the opportunity to be heard. By his failure to appear during the trial of which he had notice, he virtually waived the rights to cross-examine and to present evidence on his behalf. Thus, an escapee who has been duly tried in absentia waives his right to present evidence on his own behalf and to confront and cross-examine witnesses who testified against him. ELIAS CARREDO vs PEOPLE Facts: On 3 February 1983, Carredo was charged with malicious mischief before the Municipal Trial Court of Malabuyoc, Cebu City. He deposited a cash bond for his provisional liberty. Upon arraignment, he entered a plea of not guilty and thereafter he filed a written waiver of appearance dated 14 May 1984 which reads as follows: "IN COMPLIANCE with the Letter of

Instruction No. 40, dated November 10, 1972, the undersigned accused hereby waives his appearance during the trial or any stage thereof and he agrees that in case he fails to appear for trial despite due notice, his absence will be deemed as express waiver of his right to be present, and the Honorable Court may proceed with the trial of his case as if he were present. In this connection, he admits that he could be identified by witnesses who are testifying at the time that said accused was not present." At the hearing on 14 August 1985 the prosecution moved for the recall of its principal witness for the purpose of identifying Carredo who was not then present. Hence, the hearing was re-scheduled on 9 October 1985 and a subpoena was issued to Carredo who failed to appear on said date. The defense counsel justified Carredo's absence in that the latter's presence can no longer be required as he already filed a written waiver of appearance. Nevertheless, the municipal judge issued an order dated 27 May 1986 ordering the arrest of Carredo, the confiscation of the cash bond, and at the same time ordering the bondsman, who is Carredo himself, to show cause why no judgment should be rendered against the bondsman. A motion for reconsideration thereof having been denied, Carredo elevated the matter to the Regional Trial Court of Cebu City through a petition for certiorari and prohibition. In an order dated 28 January 1987, the said trial court denied the same. Carredo filed the petition for review on certiorari. Issue: Whether the express waiver of appearance after arraignment includes the instance where the accused need to be identified by witnesses. Held: Section 19, Article 4 of the 1973 Constitution, then in force, provided that "In all criminal prosecutions, the accused shall be presumed innocent until the contrary is proved, and shall enjoy the right to be heard by himself and counsel, to be informed of the nature and cause of the accusation against him, to have a speedy, impartial and public trial, to meet the witnesses face to face, and to have compulsory process to secure the attendance of witnesses and the production of evidence in his behalf. However, after arraignment, trial may proceed notwithstanding the absence of the accused provided that he has been duly notified and his failure to appear is unjustified." It is important to state that the provision of the Constitution authorizing the trial in absentia of the accused in case of his non-appearance after arraignment despite due notice simply means that he thereby waives his right to meet the witnesses face to face among others. An express waiver of appearance after arraignment, as in this case, is of the same effect. However, such waiver of appearance and trial in absentia does not mean that the prosecution is thereby deprived of its right to require the presence of the accused for purposes of identification by its witnesses which are vital for the conviction of the accused. Such waiver of a right of the accused does not mean a release of the accused from his obligation under the bond to appear in court whenever so required. The accused may waive his right but not his duty or obligation to the court.