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EN BANC

PEOPLE OF THE PHILIPPINES, Appellee, G.R. No. 171271 Present: Panganiban, C.J., Puno, Quisumbing, Ynares-Santiago, Sandoval-Gutierrez, Carpio, Austria-Martinez, Corona, Carpio-Morales, Callejo, Sr., Azcuna, Tinga, Chico-Nazario, Garcia, Velasco, Jr., JJ. Promulgated:

- versus -

ELBERTO TUBONGBANUA y PAHILANGA, Appellant.

August 31, 2006 x ---------------------------------------------------------------------------------------- x

DECISION
YNARES-SANTIAGO, J.:
Appellant Elberto Tubongbanua was charged with the crime of murder in an amended Information[1] that reads:
That on or about the 12th of February, 2001, in the Municipality of San Juan, Metro Manila, Philippines and within the jurisdiction of this Honorable Court, the above named accused, with intent to kill and with evident premeditation, treachery, taking advantage of superior strength, did then and there willfully, unlawfully and feloniously attack, assault and stab Evelyn Kho y Sua on the different parts of her body with the use of a deadly weapon, thereby inflicting upon said Evelyn Kho y Sua stab wounds, which directly caused her death; that the act was committed inside the dwelling of Evelyn Kho y Sua and with insult or in disregard of the respect due to the offended party on account of his (sic) rank, age or sex. CONTRARY TO LAW.

When arraigned, appellant pleaded not guilty and trial on the merits ensued.

The facts are as follows:


Accused was employed as a family driver by Atty. Evelyn Sua-Kho since 1998. The latter worked as the managing partner of the Lawyers Advocate Circle, a law firm operated as a sole proprietorship, and located at 2302 Atlanta Center, 31 Anapolis St., Greenhills, San Juan, M.M. Accused was initially paid P6,000.00 a month as wages, aside from boarding, food, overtime and extra pay, which he received when he did extra driving and other work for Atty. Sua-Khos family. On February 12, 2001, at around 6:00 oclock in the evening, the accused drove Atty. Sua Kho to her condominium unit at 1702 Platinum 2000, Anapolis St., Greenhills, San Jun M.M. After handing his employers bag to Marissa Hiso, the housemaid, accused proceeded to the kitchen where he drank a glass of water. Also in the condominium unit were Atty. Sua-Khos three year old daughter Issa and her nanny, Nelie Maglasang. After talking and playing with her daughter for a few minutes, Atty. Sua-Kho emerged from the bedroom to talk with the accused. Shortly thereafter, Marrisa heard her employer screaming, and she saw the accused stabbing her with their kitchen knife. She tried to stop the accused, shouting Kuya Bert!, but the latter continued to stab Atty. Sua-Kho. Meanwhile, Nelie also heard her employers screams, and locked herself with Issa in the masters bathroom. When she peeped-out from her hiding place, she saw Marissa, whom she signaled to go downstairs for help. The latter did so, and sought help from the security guard. Nellie, meanwhile called Atty. SuaKhos father, Marcelino Sua, and husband, Daniel Kho, on the bedroom phone. When Marcelino Sua arrived, he saw Marissa and a security guard in front of the condominium unit. When they entered, they saw the bloodied and unmoving body of Atty. Sua-Kho sprawled on the floor. Marcelino then brought his daughter to the Cardinal Santos Memorial Hospital, where doctors tried to revive her, but failed. The accused, meanwhile, fled, using the victims car. He was arrested soon afterwards in Calapan, Mindoro, while on his way to his home province. Upon examination of the victims body, Dr. Edgardo Rodriguez Vida found that she suffered eighteen (18) stab wounds and three (3) incise wounds aside from other minor injuries. The stab wounds on her chest were considered fatal as they affected both lungs, the main blood vessel of the heart and the heart itself. There were four stab wounds on the heart, one on the right lung and four on the left lung. According to the doctor, the wounds could have been caused by a sharp single-bladed object and that the incise wounds found on the left forearm, right wrist and left leg could have been inflicted while Atty. Sua-Kho tried to parry the blows. Marian Aquino, legal secretary of the Lawyers Advocate Circle, where the victim worked, related that prior to the killing of Atty. Sua-Kho, the accused had confided to her about his grudges against the victim, such as being given spoiled food, that his meals were being measured, that he worked long hours of the day and served many bosses. On February 11, 2001, accused spent the day at her boarding house where he told her he could no longer take the way Atty. Sua-Kho treated him. Later he said nadedemonyo na ako and that he would finish Atty. Sua-Kho. He would hit her at the back, very deep, and he would make sure that she would die. Then he would go to the province, his territory, where he could not be followed. Atty. Joel Baguio, an associate at the Lawyers Advocate Circle, also testified that before the killing, the accused told him of his grudges against Atty. Sua-Kho, like his being scolded for being late, and being called a thief, a killer, and ex-convict and other bad names. On February 12, 2001, the accused also told him not to get too close, as he might get involved in what was going to happen. The accused, on the other hand, raised the defense of self-defense. Atty. SuaKho, he testified, didnt want her husband to know that she had been taking trips with a

company guest, a certain Phillip Robinson, to Puerto Azul and Daranak Falls in Tanay. She warned the accused that something bad would happen to him if her husband would learn about it. In the evening of February 12, 2001, Atty. Sua-Kho urged accused to go to her fathers house, because her husband Daniel Kho would be arriving. As she and the accused argued about Phillip Robinson, the former got a knife and stabbed him with it, catching him on the wrist. Accused managed to wrest control of the knife, and with it, stabbed Atty. Sua-Kho three or four times. After he stabbed her he was shocked and left the place using the victims car. He fled to Mindoro where he allegedly surrendered to the police.[2]

On March 26, 2002, the Regional Trial Court of Pasig City, Branch 163, rendered judgment, the dispositive portion of which reads:
WHEREFORE, accused, Elberto Tubongbanua y Pahilanga, is found GUILTY beyond reasonable doubt of the crime of murder under Article 248 of the Revised Penal Code and is sentenced to suffer the severe penalty of death by lethal injection with all the accessory penalties provided by law and to pay the costs. On the civil liability of the accused, he is ordered to pay the legal heirs of the victim actual, moral, nominal, exemplary and temperate damages in the respective sums of P298,202.25, P50,000.00, P200,000.00, P200,000.00 and P50,000.00. He is also ordered to pay the victims heirs P50,000.00 for the loss of the victims life, all with interest thereon at the legal rate of 6 percent per annum from this date until fully paid. SO ORDERED.[3]

The case was elevated to this Court because the penalty imposed was death. However, pursuant to our ruling in People v. Mateo,[4] the case was transferred and referred to the Court of Appeals.[5] On October 21, 2005, the Court of Appeals affirmed with modifications the decision of the trial court. The dispositive portion of the decision reads:
WHEREFORE, the Decision of the Regional Trial Court of Pasig City is hereby AFFIRMED with MODIFICATIONS, in that, the accused-appellant, having been found guilty beyond reasonable doubt of Murder, is hereby sentenced to Death. He is ordered to indemnify the heirs of the victim the following: (1) (2) (3) (4) P50,000.00 as civil indemnity; P50,000.00 as moral damages; P298,202.25 as actual damages; and P50,000.00 as exemplary damages

The awards of temperate and nominal damages are hereby DELETED. Since the imposition of the death penalty in this case was affirmed, this Decision and the complete records of this case are hereby ordered TRANSMITTED to the Supreme Court on automatic review, immediately upon the promulgation of this Decision. SO ORDERED.[6]

The Court of Appeals disregarded appellants claim of self defense for lack of evidence and for being incredible considering the number and location of wounds sustained by the victim and his flight from the crime scene. It also noted that treachery did not attend the commission of the crime as there were no particulars as to how the killing began or executed. However, the appellate court found that evident premeditation was adequately established which qualified the killing to murder. Likewise, it appreciated abuse of superior strength as an aggravating circumstance. As regards the aggravating circumstances of dwelling and insult to the rank, sex and age of the victim, the Court of Appeals noted that these circumstances were included as amendments to the information after the presentation by the prosecution of its evidence. As such, the same should not be allowed because it will prejudice the rights of the appellant. In a Resolution dated March 7, 2006, we required both parties to file supplemental briefs. The Office of the Solicitor General manifested that it will no longer be filing a supplemental brief. On the other hand, appellant insisted on his theory of self defense and prayed for his acquittal. We agree with the findings of the trial court and the Court of Appeals that appellants claim of self-defense is self-serving hence should not be given credence. InCabuslay v. People,[7] we ruled that:
One who invokes self defense admits responsibility for the killing. Accordingly, the burden of proof shifts to the accused who must then prove the justifying circumstance. He must show by clear and convincing evidence that he indeed acted in self-defense, or in defense of a relative or a stranger. With clear and convincing evidence, all the following elements of self defense must be established: (1) unlawful aggression on the part of the victim; (2) reasonable necessity of the means employed to prevent or repel it; and (3) lack of sufficient provocation on the part of the person claiming self defense.

Appellants version of the stabbing incident does not inspire belief. His testimony that it was Atty. Sua-Kho who attacked him is uncorroborated and improbable. Appellants alleged use of reasonable means to repel the aggression is also untenable considering the nature and number of wounds inflicted on the victim which demonstrate a determined effort to kill the victim and not just defend oneself.[8] We note that the victim suffered 18 stab wounds which were all directed to her chest, heart and lungs. She also had incised wounds which were inflicted while she was parrying the blows coming from the appellant. In fact, appellant testified that Atty. Sua-Kho was running away from him but he still pursued her and inflicted the fatal wounds:
Q: A: According to you, Atty. launched at you and you covered and cut on your left hand and that was the time you got the knife and what happened after that? What I remember is that she went inside.

Q: A: Q: A:

So, she run (sic) away from you, is that what you are saying? When I was hit and I was able to stab her, she ran towards the room. So she was trying to avoid [you] after she stabbed you the first time? I do not know, what I know is that when I stabbed her, she went inside the room. What part of the body did you hit her the first time? At the abdominal area, sir. After that initial wound, Atty. Kho run (sic) towards the room, is that correct? What I remember, she run (sic), sir.[9]

Q: A: Q: A:

Moreover, appellants act of fleeing from the crime scene instead of reporting the incident to the police authorities is contrary to his proclaimed innocence but highly indicative of guilt and negate his claim of self defense.[10] We agree with the Court of Appeals that the qualifying circumstance of treachery was not present. Treachery under paragraph 16 of Article 14 of the Revised Penal Code is defined as the deliberate employment of means, methods, or forms in the execution of a crime against persons which tend directly and specially to insure its execution, without risk to the offender arising from the defense which the intended victim might raise. For treachery to be present, two conditions must concur: (a) the employment of means of execution which would ensure the safety of the offender from defensive and retaliatory acts of the victim, giving the victim no opportunity to defend himself; and (b) the means, method and manner of the execution were deliberately and consciously adopted by the offender.[11] Treachery cannot be presumed; it must be proved by clear and convincing evidence or as conclusively as the killing itself.[12] In the instant case, there is no proof on how the attack was commenced. Where no particulars are known as to the manner in which the aggression was made or how the act which resulted in the death of the victim began and developed, it can in no way be established from mere suppositions that the killing was perpetrated by treachery.[13] We find however that evident premeditation and taking advantage of superior strength attended the killing. Like any other circumstance that qualifies a killing as murder, evident premeditation must be established by clear and positive evidence;[14] that is, by proof beyond reasonable doubt.[15] The essence of premeditation is that the execution of the act was preceded by cool thought and reflections upon the resolution to carry out the criminal intent during a space of time sufficient to arrive at a calm judgment. To be considered, the following elements must be proven: (1) the time when the accused decided to commit the crime; (2) an overt act manifestly indicating that he has clung to his determination; and (3) sufficient lapse of time between the decision and the execution, to allow the accused to reflect upon the consequences of his act.[16] Prosecution witnesses Marian Aquino and Atty. Joel Baguio testified as to appellants state of mind and predisposition to avenge the alleged maltreatment by the victim. Both witnesses testified on appellants ill -plans against his employer the day prior to the crime. Absent evidence showing any reason or motive for the witnesses to

falsely testify against the appellant, the logical conclusion is that no such improper motive exists and their testimonies should be accorded full faith and credit. Thus, the lower courts correctly concluded that evident premeditation attended the commission of the crime. Appellant likewise took advantage of his superior strength to perpetuate the criminal act. He killed Atty. Sua-Kho by overpowering her and driving the murder weapon into her body several times, despite her attempts to parry the blows. He could not have executed the dastardly act without employing physical superiority over the victim. In People v. Espina,[17] we have ruled that an attack by a man with a deadly weapon upon an unarmed and defenseless woman constitutes the circumstance of abuse of that superiority which his sex and the weapon used in the act afforded him, and from which the woman was unable to defend herself. We find, however, that the Court of Appeals erred in not allowing the amendments in the information regarding the aggravating circumstances of dwelling and insult or disregard of the respect due to rank, age or sex. Section 14, Rule 110 of the Rules of Court,[18] provides that an amendment after the plea of the accused is permitted only as to matters of form, provided leave of court is obtained and such amendment is not prejudicial to the rights of the accused. A substantial amendment is not permitted after the accused had already been arraigned.[19] In Teehankee, Jr. v. Madayag,[20] we had the occasion to distinguish between substantial and formal amendments:
A substantial amendment consists of the recital of facts constituting the offense charged and determinative of the jurisdiction of the court. All other matters are merely of form. Thus, the following have been held to be merely formal amendments, viz.: (1) new allegations which relate only to the range of the penalty that the court might impose in the event of conviction; (2) an amendment which does not charge another offense different or distinct from that charged in the original one; (3) additional allegations which do not alter the prosecutions theory of the case so as to cause surprise to the accused and affect the form of defense he has or will assume; and (4) an amendment which does not adversely affect any substantial right of the accused, such as his right to invoke prescription.

The test as to whether an amendment is only of form and an accused is not prejudiced by such amendment is whether or not a defense under the information as it originally stood would be equally available after the amendment is made, and whether or not any evidence which the accused might have would be equally applicable to the information in one form as in the other; if the answer is in the affirmative, the amendment is one of form and not of substance.[21] Tested against these guidelines, the insertion of the aggravating circumstances of dwelling and insult or disregard of the respect due to rank, age, or sex of the victim is

clearly a formal, not a substantial, amendment. These amendments do not have the effect of charging another offense different or distinct from the charge of murder as contained in the original information. They relate only to the range of the penalty that the court might impose in the event of conviction. The amendment did not adversely affect any substantial right of appellant.[22] Besides, appellant never objected to the presentation of evidence to prove the aggravating circumstances of dwelling and insult or in disregard of the respect due to the offended party on account of rank, age or sex.[23] Without any objection by the defense, the defect is deemed waived.[24] There is no dispute that Atty. Sua-Kho was killed in her home. Appellant could have killed her elsewhere but he decided to commit the crime at her home; thus we appreciate the aggravating circumstance of dwelling. However, it was not convincingly shown that appellant deliberately intended to offend or disregard the respect due to rank, age, or sex of Atty. Sua-Kho. The motive for the murder was his grudge against the victim and not because she was a lawyer and his employer. Neither did appellant took into consideration the age of Atty. Sua-Kho and the fact that she is a woman when he killed her. Article 248 of the Revised Penal Code,[25] as amended by R.A. No. 7659,[26] prescribes the penalty of reclusion perpetua to death for the crime of murder. Considering the qualifying circumstance of evident premeditation and the aggravating circumstances of dwelling, and taking advantage of superior strength without any mitigating circumstance, the proper imposable penalty would have been death.[27] However, in view of the enactment of Republic Act No. 9346 or the Act Prohibiting the Imposition of Death Penalty on June 24, 2006[28], the penalty that should be meted is reclusion perpetua, thus:
SECTION 1. The imposition of the penalty of death is hereby prohibited. Accordingly, Republic Act No. Eight Thousand One Hundred SeventySeven (R.A. No. 8177), otherwise known as the Act Designating Death by Lethal Injection is hereby repealed. Republic Act No. Seven Thousand Six Hundred FiftyNine (R.A. No. 7659), otherwise known as the Death Penalty Law and all other laws, executive orders and decrees insofar as they impose the death penalty are hereby repealed or amended accordingly. SEC. 2. In lieu of the death penalty, the following shall be imposed: (a) the penalty of reclusion perpetua, when the law violated makes use of the nomenclature of the penalties of the Revised Penal Code; or (b) the penalty of life imprisonment, when the law violated does not make use of the nomenclature of the penalties of the Revised Penal Code.

Pursuant to the same law, appellant shall not be eligible for parole under Act No. 4103, otherwise known as the Indeterminate Sentence Law.

Regarding damages, when death occurs due to a crime, the following may be recovered: (1) civil indemnity ex delicto for the death of the victim; (2) actual or compensatory damages; (3) moral damages; (4) exemplary damages; (5) attorney's fees and expenses of litigation, and (6) interest, in proper cases.[29] We affirm the monetary awards granted by the Court of Appeals but modify the amount of actual damages and exemplary damages. The award for civil indemnity is mandatory and is granted to the heirs of the victim without need of proof other than the commission of the crime. Hence, based on recent jurisprudence, the award of civil indemnity ex delicto of P75,000.00 for the heirs Atty. Sua-Kho is in order. Actual or compensatory damages are those awarded in order to compensate a party for an injury or loss he suffered. They arise out of a sense of natural justice and are aimed at repairing the wrong done.[30] To be recoverable, actual and compensatory damages must be duly proved with reasonable degree of certainty. [31] In the present case, the award of actual damages of P298,210.25[32] is correct, considering that the said amount has been duly proven. The Court of Appeals correctly awarded moral damages in the amount of P50,000.00 in view of the violent death of the victim and the resultant grief of her family. Article 2230 of the Civil Code specifically states that exemplary damages may be imposed when the crime was committed with one or more aggravating circumstances, as in this case. Moreover, as an example and deterrent to future similar transgressions, the Court finds that an award of P25,000.00 for exemplary damages is proper. WHEREFORE, the Decision of the Court of Appeals in CA-G.R. CR HC No. 01366, is AFFIRMED with MODIFICATION. Appellant Elberto Tubongbanua y Pahilanga is found GUILTY beyond reasonable doubt of MURDER as defined in Article 248 of the Revised Penal Code, as amended by Republic Act No. 7659, qualified by evident premeditation and with the attendant aggravating circumstances of taking advantage of superior strength and dwelling, with no mitigating circumstances. The proper imposable penalty would have been death. However, pursuant to Republic Act No. 9346, appellant is sentenced to suffer the penalty of Reclusion Perpetua without possibility of parole. The appellant is ORDERED to pay the heirs of Atty. Evelyn Sua-Kho, the amounts of P75,000.00 as civil indemnity; P298,210.25 as actual damages; 50,000.00 as moral damages; and P25,000.00 as exemplary damages; all with interest at the legal rate of six percent (6%) per annum from this date until fully paid. SO ORDERED.

CONSUELO YNARES-SANTIAGO

Associate Justice

WE CONCUR:

ARTEMIO V. PANGANIBAN Chief Justice

REYNATO S. PUNO Associate Justice

LEONARDO A. QUISUMBING Associate Justice

ANGELINA SANDOVAL-GUTIERREZ Associate Justice

ANTONIO T. CARPIO Associate Justice

MA. ALICIA AUSTRIA-MARTINEZ Associate Justice

RENATO C. CORONA Associate Justice

CONCHITA CARPIO-MORALES Associate Justice

ROMEO J. CALLEJO, SR. Associate Justice

ADOLFO S. AZCUNA Associate Justice

DANTE O. TINGA Associate Justice

MINITA V. CHICO-NAZARIO Associate Justice

CANCIO C. GARCIA Associate Justice

PRESBITERO J. VELASCO, JR. Associate Justice

CERTIFICATION
Pursuant to Section 13, Article VIII of the Constitution, it is hereby certified that the conclusions in the above Decision were reached in consultation before the case was assigned to the writer of the opinion of the Court.

ARTEMIO V. PANGANIBAN Chief Justice

[1] [2]

Records, pp. 230-231. CA rollo, pp. 91-92. [3] Records, p. 283. Penned by Judge Leili Suarez Acebo. [4] G.R. Nos. 147678-87, July 7, 2004, 433 SCRA 640. [5] CA rollo, p. 87. [6] Id. at 99-100. Penned by Associate Justice Rodrigo V. Cosico and concurred in by Associate Justices Regalado E. Maambong and Lucenito N. Tagle. [7] G.R. No. 129875, September 30, 2005, 471 SCRA 241, 256. [8] People v. Galvez, 424 Phil. 743, 755 (2002). [9] TSN, February 5, 2002, p. 41. [10] People v. Pansensoy, 437 Phil. 499, 518 (2002). See also People v. Atadero, 435 Phil. 888, 904 (2002). [11] People v. Malabago, 333 Phil. 20, 34 (1996). [12] People v. Simon, G.R. No. 56925, May 21, 1992, 209 SCRA 148, 162. [13] People v. Devaras, G.R. No. 48009, February 3, 1992, 205 SCRA 676, 693-694. [14] People v. Manes, 362 Phil. 569, 579 (1999). [15] People v. Derilo, 338 Phil. 350, 375 (1997). [16] People v. Herida, G.R. No. 127158, March 5, 2001, 353 SCRA 650, 658. [17] 383 Phil. 656, 668 (2000). [18] RULES OF COURT, Rule 110, Sec. 14: Amendment or substitution. A complaint or information may be amended, in form or in substance, without leave of court, at any time before the accused enters his plea. After the plea and during the trial, a formal amendment may only be made with leave of court and when it can be done without causing prejudice to the rights of the accused. However, any amendment before plea, which downgrades the nature of the offense charged in or excludes any accused from the complaint or information, can be made only upon motion by the prosecutor, with notice to the offended party and with leave of court. The court shall state its reasons in resolving the motion and copies of its order shall be furnished all parties, especially the offended party. If it appears at any time before judgment that a mistake has been made in charging the proper offense, the court shall dismiss the original complaint or information upon the filing of a new one charging the proper offense in accordance with Section 19, Rule 119, provided the accused would not be placed in double jeopardy. The court may require the witnesses to give bail for their appearance at the trial. [19] People v. Degamo, 450 Phil. 159, 171 (2003). [20] G.R. No. 103102, March 6, 1992, 207 SCRA 134, 142. [21] People v. Degamo, supra at 172. [22] Id. [23] Records, pp. 225-226. [24] People v. Degamo, supra at 173. [25] REVISED PENAL CODE, Art. 248. Murder. - Any person who, not falling within the provisions of Article 246 shall kill another, shall be guilty of murder and shall be punished by reclusion perpetua to death if committed with any of the following attendant circumstances: 1. With treachery, taking advantage of superior strength, with the aid of armed men, or employing means to weaken the defense or of means or persons to insure or afford impunity.

2. In consideration of a price, reward or promise. 3. By means of inundation, fire, poison, explosion, shipwreck, stranding of a vessel, derailment or assault upon a railroad, fall of an airship, or by means of motor vehicles, or with the use of any other means involving great waste and ruin. 4. On occasion of any of the calamities enumerated in the preceding paragraph, or of an earthquake, eruption of a volcano, destructive cyclone, epidemic or other public calamity. 5. With evident premeditation. 6. With cruelty, by deliberately and inhumanly augmenting the suffering of the victim, or outraging or scoffing at his person or corpse. [26] An Act to Impose the Death Penalty on Certain Heinous Crimes, Amending for that Purpose the Revised Penal Code, as amended, other Special Penal Laws, and for other Purposes. [27] See REVISED PENAL CODE, Arts. 63 and 248. [28] Article 2 of the Civil Code provides that laws shall take effect after 15 days following the completion of their publication either in the Official Gazette, or in a newspaper of general circulation in the Philippines, unless it is otherwise provided. On the other hand, Section 5 of R.A. No. 9346 specifically provides that the Act will take effect immediately after its publication in two national newspapers of general circulation. R.A. No. 9346 was published in Malaya and Manila Times, two national newspapers of general circulation on June 29, 2006. Accordingly, R.A. No. 9346 took effect on June 30, 2006. [29] Nueva Espaa v. People, G.R. No. 163351, June 21, 2005, 460 SCRA 547, 555. [30] Villafuerte v. Court of Appeals, G.R. No. 134239, May 26, 2005, 459 SCRA 58, 69. [31] LBC Express, Inc. v. Ado, G.R. No. 161760, August 25, 2005, 468 SCRA 216, 225. [32] The Regional Trial Court of Pasig City, Branch 163 and the Court of Appeals had a total of P298,202.25 as actual damages. This amount is comprised of P25,438.25, representing the hospital bill; and P272,772.00, representing the price of the casket and funeral services for Atty. Evelyn Sua-Kho. The total of these two amounts is P298,210.25, not P298,202.25.

SECOND DIVISION

REPUBLIC OF THE PHILIPPINES, represented by the Regional Executive Director, Department of Environment and Natural Resources, Regional Office IV, Petitioner,

G.R. No. 156606 Present:

QUISUMBING, J., Chairperson, CARPIO,

- versus -

CARPIO MORALES, TINGA, and VELASCO, JR., JJ.

ILDEFONSO T. OLETA, Respondent.

Promulgated: August 17, 2007

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DECISION

CARPIO, J.:

The Case

This is a petition for review on certiorari[1] of the Decision[2] dated 30 July 2002 and the Resolution[3] dated 3 January 2003 of the Court of Appeals in CA-G.R. SP No. 66714. The 30 July 2002 Decision set aside the 24 July 2001 and 6 September 2001 Orders of the Regional Trial Court, Branch 80, Morong, Rizal (trial court) which reinstated the complaint filed by petitioner Republic of the Philippines (petitioner) and denied respondent Ildefonso Oletas (respondent) motion for reconsideration,

respectively. The 3 January 2003 Resolution denied petitioners motion for reconsideration.

The Facts

On 29 December 1999, petitioner filed a complaint for cancellation of free patent, original certificate of title, and reversion against respondent and the Register of Deeds ofRizal. On 17 April 2000, respondent filed his answer. Thereafter, the trial court issued an Order dated 4 July 2000 directing petitioner to take the legal steps so that the case can be expedited.

On 11 January 2001, the trial court issued an Order[4] dismissing the complaint without prejudice because of petitioners failure to set the case for pre-trial. Upon petitioners motion and over respondents opposition, the trial court reinstated the complaint on 15 March 2001.[5]

Pre-trial was set for 17 May 2001. However, on 8 May 2001, petitioner moved that the pre-trial be reset to 14 June 2001 at 10:00 a.m. The trial court granted petitioners motion and reset the pre-trial to 14 June 2001 at 8:30 a.m. The trial court warned petitioner that failure to appear at the scheduled pre-trial would constrain the trial court to act accordingly.

On the 14 June 2001 pre-trial, petitioner and petitioners counsel failed to appear. Records also showed that petitioner failed to file a pre-trial brief. In an Order[6] dated the same day, the trial court dismissed the complaint for failure to prosecute.

Petitioner filed a motion for reconsideration. Petitioners counsel explained that he arrived at the pre-trial conference at 9:55 a.m. because he expected the pre-trial to start at10:00 a.m., the time requested in the motion for postponement. Petitioner also explained that the pre-trial brief was filed on 8 June 2001 by registered mail and that it was unfortunate that neither the trial court nor respondent received it on time. Petitioner asked the trial court to reconsider its 14 June 2001 Order and reset the pre-trial to 2 August 2001.

In its 24 July 2001 Order,[7] the trial court, in the interest of substantial justice, granted petitioners motion and reinstated the complaint. Respondent filed an Urgent Motion for Reconsideration. In its 6 September 2001 Order,[8] the trial court denied respondents motion.

On 18 September 2001, respondent filed a petition[9] for certiorari with prayer for preliminary injunction or temporary restraining order with the Court of Appeals. Respondent alleged that the trial court acted with grave abuse of discretion amounting to lack or excess of jurisdiction when it issued the 24 July 2001 and 6 September 2001Orders because the trial court disregarded the rules on pre-trial.

In its 30 July 2002 Decision, the Court of Appeals granted the petition and set aside the 24 July 2001 and 6 September 2001 Orders of the trial court. The Court of Appeals ruled that the trial court abused its discretion when it reinstated the complaint even if petitioners counsel had no special authority to represent plaintiff at pre-trial. The Court of Appeals added that the trial court had no discretion on the matter of petitioners failure to file its pre-trial brief on time.

Petitioner filed a motion for reconsideration which the Court of Appeals denied in its 3 January 2003 Resolution.

Hence, this petition.

The Issue

Petitioner raises the sole issue of whether the Court of Appeals erred in setting aside the 24 July 2001 and 6 September 2001 Orders of the trial court.

The Ruling of the Court

The petition is meritorious.

On Failure to File Pre-trial Brief

Section 6, Rule 18[10] of the Rules of Court (Rules) mandates that parties shall file with the court and serve on the adverse party their pre-trial briefs at least three days before the scheduled pre-trial. The Rules also provide that failure to file the pre-trial brief shall have the same effect as failure to appear at the pre-trial.[11] Therefore, plaintiffs failure to file the pre-trial brief shall be cause for dismissal of the action.[12]

The Court of Appeals erred in ruling that the trial court had no discretion on the matter of a partys failure to file a pre-trial brief. If the trial court has discretion to dismiss the case because of plaintiffs failure to appear at pre-trial,[13] then the trial court also has discretion to dismiss the case because of plaintiffs failure to file the pre trial brief. Moreover, whether an order of dismissal should be maintained under the circumstances of a particular case or whether it should be set aside depends on the sound discretion of the trial court.[14]

In this case, petitioner sufficiently explained that the pre-trial brief was sent by registered mail to the trial court and respondent on 8 June 2001. That the trial court and respondent did not receive the pre-trial brief at least three days prior to the pretrial was already beyond petitioners control. Therefore, the trial court had discretion to lift the order of dismissal after giving credence to petitioners explanation.

On the Absence of a Special Power of Attorney

Petitioners counsel admits that he was not equipped with a special power of attorney when he appeared at the 14 June 2001 pre-trial. However, petitioners counsel claims that the special authority need not be in writing and may be established by competent evidence or subsequently ratified by the party concerned.[15]

Section 4, Rule 18 of the Rules provides:

SEC. 4. Appearance of parties. It shall be the duty of the parties and their counsels to appear at the pre-trial. The non-appearance of a party may be excused only if a valid cause is showntherefor or if a representative shall appear in his behalf fully authorized in writing to enter into an amicable settlement, to submit to alternative modes of dispute resolution, and to enter into stipulations or admissions of facts and of documents.

Under the old rules, a representative was allowed to establish the authority needed by showing either a written special power of attorney or competent evidence other than the self-serving assertions of the representative.[16] However, the new rules require nothing less than the authority be in writing. As held in United Coconut Planters Bank v.Magpayo,[17] the rules now require the special power of attorney be in writing because the courts can neither second-guess the specific powers given to the representative, nor can the courts assume that all the powers specified in Section 4 of Rule 18 are granted by the party to his representative.

The Court of Appeals ruled that the trial court abused its discretion when it reinstated the complaint despite the fact that petitioners counsel had no special authority to represent petitioner at pre-trial. However, abuse of discretion is not sufficient by itself to justify the issuance of a writ of certiorari. The abuse must be grave and patent, and it must be shown that the discretion was exercised arbitrarily and despotically.[18] In this case, there is no showing that the trial court gravely abused its discretion in reinstating petitioners complaint. Moreover, in Calalang v. Court of Appeals,[19] the Court ruled that unless a partys conduct is so negligent, irresponsible, contumacious, or dilatory as to provide substantial grounds for dismissal for non-appearance, the courts should consider lesser sanctions which would still amount into achieving the desired end. In this case, there is also no showing that petitioner willfully and flagrantly disregarded the trial courts authority. There is also no indication that petitioner had manifested lack of interest to prosecute or acted deliberately with the intention to delay the proceedings. Therefore, the trial court acted accordingly when it set aside the order of dismissal and ordered the reinstatement of petitioners complaint.

We are not saying that adherence to the Rules could be dispensed with. However, exigencies and situations might occasionally demand flexibility in their application.[20] In this instance, substantial justice can be best served if both parties are given the full opportunity to litigate their claims in a full-blown trial.

WHEREFORE, we GRANT the petition. We SET ASIDE the 30 July 2002 Decision and 3 January 2003 Resolution of the Court of Appeals in CA-G.R. SP No. 66714. We REINSTATE the 24 July 2001 and 6 September 2001 Orders of the Regional Trial Court, Branch 80, Morong, Rizal.

SO ORDERED.

ANTONIO T. CARPIO Associate Justice

WE CONCUR:

LEONARDO A. QUISUMBING Associate Justice Chairperson

CONCHITA CARPIO MORALES Associate Justice

DANTE O. TINGA Associate Justice

PRESBITERO J. VELASCO, JR. Associate Justice

ATTESTATION
I attest that the conclusions in the above Decision had been reached in consultation before the case was assigned to the writer of the opinion of the Courts Division.

LEONARDO A. QUISUMBING Associate Justice Chairperson

CERTIFICATION
Pursuant to Section 13, Article VIII of the Constitution, and the Division Chairpersons Attestation, I certify that the conclusions in the above Decision had been

reached in consultation before the case was assigned to the writer of the opinion of the Courts Division.

REYNATO S. PUNO Chief Justice

[1] [2]

Justices
[3] [4] [5] [6] [7] [8] [9] [10]

Under Rule 45 of the 1997 Rules of Civil Procedure. Rollo, pp. 26-33. Penned by Associate Justice Buenaventura Rodrigo V. Cosico and Perlita J. Tria Tirona, concurring. Id. at 34. Id. at 54. Id. at 56-57. Id. at 77. Id. at 79. Id. at 85-86. Id. at 88-98. Section 6, Rule 18 of the Rules of Court provides:

J.

Guerrero,

with

Associate

SEC. 6. Pre-trial brief. The parties shall file with the court and serve on the adverse party, in such a manner as shall ensure their receipt thereof at least three (3) days before the date of the pre-trial, their respective pretrial briefs which shall contain, among others: (a) A statement of their willingness to enter into amicable settlement or alternative modes of dispute resolution indicating the desired terms thereof; (b) A summary of admitted facts and proposed stipulation of facts; (c) The issues to be tried and resolved; (d) The documents or exhibits to be presented stating the purpose thereof; (e) A manifestation of their having availed or their intention to avail themselves of discovery procedures or referral to commissioners; and (f) The number and names of the witnesses, and the substance of their respective testimonies. Failure to file the pre-trial brief shall have the same effect as failure to appear at the pre- trial. [11] RULES OF COURT, Section 6, Rule 18. [12] RULES OF COURT, Section 5, Rule 18. [13] American Insurance Co. v. Republic of the Phils., 128 Phil. 490 (1967). [14] Pacweld Steel Corp. v. Asia Steel Corp., 203 Phil. 606 (1982). [15] Citing Lim Pin v. Liao Tan, 200 Phil. 685 (1982). [16] See Fountainhead International Phils., Inc. v. Court of Appeals , G.R. No. 86505, 11 February 1991, 194 SCRA 12; Development Bank of the Phils. v. Court of Appeals, G.R. No. 49410, 26 January 1989, 169 SCRA 409; Lim Pin v. LiaoTan, 200 Phil. 685 (1982); Home Insurance Co. v. United State Lines Co., 129 Phil. 106 (1967). [17] G.R. No. 149908, 27 May 2004, 429 SCRA 669, 675. [18] Vette Industrial Sales Co., Inc. v. Cheng, G.R. No. 170232, 5 December 2006, 509 SCRA 532 citing Estate of Jimenez v. Philippine Export Processing Zone, 402 Phil. 271 (2001). [19] G.R. No. 103185, 22 January 1993, 217 SCRA 462, 470. [20] See Bahia Shipping Services Inc. v. Mosquera, 467 Phil. 766 (2004).

Republic of the Philippines SUPREME COURT Manila SECOND DIVISION G.R. Nos. 76344-46 June 30, 1988 ANG KEK CHEN, petitioner, vs. THE HON. ABUNDIO BELLO, as Judge of the Metropolitan Trial Court of Manila, and the PEOPLE OF THE PHILIPPINES, respondents. Eriberto D. Ignacio for petitioner.

YAP, C.J.: Petitioner questions the alleged grave abuse of discretion amounting to excess of jurisdiction committed by respondent Judge Abundio Bello in violating Administrative Circular No. 7, dated September 23, 1974, regarding the raffle of Criminal Cases Nos. 021429, 021430 and 021431, and prays that the Court orders the outright dismissal of the cases. It appears from the records that on December 28, 1977, petitioner Ang was charged before the then Manila City Court (now Metropolitan Trial Court), Branch VIII, with the crimes of "MALTREATMENT," "THREATS," and "SLIGHT PHYSICAL INJURIES," committed according to the information as follows: Criminal Case No. 021429 (Maltreatment) That on or about December 26, 1977, in the City of Manila, Philippines, the said accused did then and there wilfully, unlawfully and feloniously ill-treat by deed one, LE HE CO Y YU DE ANG by then and there, slapping her and giving her fist/blows on her head several times, without, however, inflicting upon said LE HE CO Y YU DE ANG any physical injury. Criminal Case No. 021430 (Threats) That on or about December 25, 1977, in the City of Manila, Philippines, the said accused in the heat of anger, did then and there wilfully, unlawfully and feloniously threaten to commit a wrong and inflict bodily harm upon the person of Le He Co y Yu De Ang by then and there threatening to kill her but, accused, however, by subsequent acts, did not persist in the Idea conceived in his threats. Criminal Case No. 021431 (Slight Physical Injuries) That on or about December 26, 1977, in the City of Manila, Philippines, the said accused did then and there willfully, unlawfully and feloniously attack, assault and use personal violence upon the person of one LUCRECIA ANG Y GO by then and there slapping her on the face and by beating her thereby inflicting upon the said LUCRECIA ANG Y GO physical injuries which have required and will require medical attendance for a period of more than one but not more than 9 days and incapacitated and will incapacitate the said Lucrecia Ang y Go from performing her customary labor during the said period of time. After the prosecution had presented its evidence, Ang filed a Demurrer to Evidence which was denied by the respondent court. Ang elevated the incident to the Regional Trial Court of Manila on certiorari and prohibition with prayer for preliminary injunction and/or temporary restraining orders. The petition was likewise denied (Order dated November 18,1983). On appeal, the Court of Appeals affirmed in toto the Regional Trial Court's Order. Meanwhile, the then presiding judge of MTC Branch VIII (where the rases were pending) was promoted to the Regional Trial Court of Manila. As a consequence, respondent judge, as officer-in-charge of the MTC (Manila), directed the return of the case records to the Clerk of Court for "re-raffle." Petitioner, however, alleged that he received the corresponding order only on August 23, 1984, or AFTER the cases had already been actually "re-raffled" and assigned to respondent judge on August 16, 1984.

On September 27, 1984, Ang filed a motion to re-raffle the cases, which was denied. The subsequent motion for reconsideration was likewise denied. 1 Hence, the present petition, alleging that: 1. Respondent judge committed grave abuse of discretion amounting to excess of jurisdiction in the manner he conducted the raffle of Criminal Cases Nos. 021429,021430 and 021431 Annexes 'A', 'B' and 'C' hereof in gross violation of Circular No. 7 of this Hon. Court in his capacity as Acting Executive Judge of the Metropolitan Trial Court of Manila resulting in the assignment to the branch presided by himself of the aforesaid three (3) criminal cases and in denying peremptorily the motion for reconsideration filed by petitioner contesting the manner of said raffle. 2. This Hon. Court in the exercise of its rule making power and supervision over all lower courts as demonstrated in several cases decided by it since its reconstitution under the present administration in having displayed judicial statemanship and activism and in the exercise of its equity jurisdiction may order the outright dismissal of the said three (3) Criminal Cases Nos. 021429, 021430 and 021431 Annexes "A", "B" and "C" of this petition." On November 17, 1986, the Court required the public respondents to comment on the petition. On January 26, 1987, the Solicitor General, in an Urgent Manifestation and Motion, prayed that the entire records of the case be ordered transmitted from Branch XIII, Metropolitan Court of Manila, to the Solicitor General's Office, so that a comment may be prepared. In the Comment dated June 23, 1987, the Solicitor General stated that the issue of the alleged noncompliance with the Court's circular regarding the raffle of cases was trivial, that the Court's guidelines on the matter did not vest any substantive right and a violation thereof did not per se infringe any constitutional right of the accused, and that the raffling of cases did not involve an exercise of judicial function, but was a mere administrative matter involving the distribution of cases among the different branches of the court, which could not be the subject matter of a special civil action for certiorari. The Solicitor General, however, stated in his comment that in Criminal Case No. 021430, for Light Threats, a review of the records showed no evidence on the alleged threat to kill, hence it should be dismissed. As regards Criminal Case 021429 (Maltreatment) and 021431 (Slight Physical Injuries) the Solicitor General opined that it was premature to determine petitioner's guilt or innocence, for unless rebutted, evidence on record appeared sufficient to establish the prosecution's cause. The principal issue of alleged grave abuse of discretion in violation of Circular No. 7 of this Court, regarding the manner of raffle of cases, not denied or explained by public respondent, is not a trivial one. The raffle of cases is of vital importance to the administration of justice because it is intended to insure impartial adjudication of cases. By raffling the cases public suspicion regarding assignment of cases to predetermined judges is obviated. A violation or disregard of the Court's circular on how the raffle of cases should be conducted is not to be countenanced. A party has the right to be heard by an impartial and unbiased tribunal. When the respondent judge conducted the raffle of the three criminal cases in question, apparently in violation of the Court's Circular No. 7, he did not only arouse the suspicion that he had some ulterior motive for doing so, but he violated the cardinal rule that all judicial processes must be done above board. We consider the procedure of raffling cases to be an important element of judicial proceedings, designed precisely to give assurance to the parties that the court hearing their case would be impartial. On this point, we found the petition meritorious. Regarding the other prayer of petitioner for the outright dismissal of the cases invoking the equity jurisdiction of this Court, we are inclined to adopt the view of the Solicitor General that Criminal Case No. 021430 (for Light Threats) should be dismissed for lack of evidence. Even Hon. Manuel T. Reyes (later to become Justice of the Court of Appeals), before whom as a Regional Trial Judge the case was brought on certiorari, was of the opinion that there was "utter paucity" of evidence with respect to the charge of threats in Criminal Case No. 021430 to put to "serious doubt the legal cogency of the disputed orders of April 21 and July 20, 1983;" however, on procedural grounds he refrained from granting the petition. Considering the comment of the Solicitor General we find merit in petitioner's contention that Criminal Case No. 021430 should be dismissed. Accordingly, the order of the respondent court denying petitioner's motion to re-raffle the criminal cases in question, except Criminal Case No. 021430 for threat which is hereby DISMISSED, is set aside and the said cases Criminal Cases No. 021429 and 021431 are remanded to the Executive Judge for re-raffle in accordance with this Court's Circular No. 7.

SO ORDERED. Melencio-Herrera, Paras, Padilla and Sarmiento, JJ., concur.

Footnotes 1 Respondent Judge was not re-appointed when the judiciary was reorganized pursuant to the Freedom Constitution of 1986.

Republic of the Philippines SUPREME COURT Manila EN BANC G.R. No. L-31084 May 29, 1981 THE PEOPLE OF THE PHILIPPINES, plaintiff-appellee, vs. WESTRIMUNDO TABAYOYONG alias "WESTRING", ELIGIO CACAYAN, JULIAN AGUILAR and FRANCISCO GARLEJO, defendants, ANTONIO BAUTISTA alias "BUCOT", ANTOLIN CASTRO and MIGUEL BEGENIO alias "ANING", defendants-appellants. GUERRERO, J.:
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In an Information dated May 15, 1967 filed with the Court of First Instance of Pangasinan, Westrimundo Tabayoyong, alias "Westring", Antonio Bautista, alias "Bucot", Antolin Castro, Eligio Cacayan, Alias "Cadio" Julian Aguilar, Miguel Begenio, alias "Aning", and Francisco Garlejo, were charged with the crime of murder alleged to have been committed as follows:
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That on or about 21st day of January, 1966, at about 11:30 o'clock in the evening, in the municipality of Manaoag, Pangasinan Philippines and within the jurisdiction of this Honorable Court, the above named accused, armed with bolo, knives and hard piece of bamboo, conspiring and mutually helping one another, with evident premeditation. abuse of superior strength, treachery, in consideration of a prize or reward and in utter disregard of the respect due the offended party, MARCELO GUICO Y JACOB, a Barrio Captain of Barrio Cabilaoan, Manaoag, Pangasinan, and with intent to kill, did then and there wilfully, unlawfully and feloniously attack, assault and strike with said bolo. knives and hard piece of bamboo MARCELO GUICO Y JACOB thereby inflicting upon him wounds and injuries which caused his death. That in attacking, assaulting and striking and MARCELO GUICO y JACOB, the abovenamed accused took advantage of nighttime besides superior strength to insure the success of their acts and plans.
CONTRARY TO LAW. 1

Upon arraignment, all of the above-named accused pleaded "not guilty". Before trial commenced, the court, upon petition of the Special Counsel handling the prosecution of the case, discharged the accused Francisco Garlejo from the Information in order that he may be utilized as a government witness. 2 During the progress of the trial, accused Eligio Cacayan who was then released on bail, disappeared and was believed to be dead, while. accused Julian Aguilar escaped from jail and was never found again. Thus. the trial continued only as to the other four accused, Westrimundo Tabayoyong, Antolin Castro, Miguel Begenio and Antonio "Bucot" Bautista. 3 The evidence for the prosecution consisted of the testimonies of: (1) the discharged accused Francisco Garlejo, (2) Dr. Florencio Mangaliman the Municipal Health Officer of Manaoag, Pangasinan who conducted the necropsy examination on the body of the deceased Marcelo Guico, (3) Mrs. Encarnacion Guico, widow of the deceased, (4) Municipal Judge Marcelino Andrada who conducted the preliminary investigation, and the autopsy report (Exhibit "A"), photographs of the victim after his death (Exhibits "B" to B-1-b"), the extrajudicial statements of Francisco Garlejo (Exhibit "C"), Julian Aguilar (Exhibit "D") and Eligio Cacayan (Exhibit "E"), and the transcript of the second stage of the hearing during the preliminary investigation (Exhibit "F"). The substance of the testimony of the principal witness for the prosecution, former accused Francisco Garlejo, is summarized by the lower court, thus:
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... In the night of January 21, 1966, he, Eligio Cacayan, Julian Aguilar, Antolin Castro, Miguel Begenio and Antonio 'Bucot' Bautista killed Marcelo Guico in Bo. Cabilaoan Manaoag, Pangasinan. He declared that they killed Marcelo Guico at the instance of the accused Westrimundo Tabayoyong who promised them a reward of P1,000.00 after killing Marcelo Guico. According to this witness it all began one late afternoon in January, 1966, when he and the accused Julian Aguilar and Eligio Cacayan were. together, walking in a barrio road of Inamotan, Manaoag, Pangasinan, which adjoins barrio Camantiles of Urdaneta, Pangasinan, the four other accused, Westrimundo Tabayoyong, Antolin Castro,

Miguel Begenio and Antonio 'Bucot' Bautista arrived and approached the witness and his companions. The accused Westrimundo Tabayoyong greeted them by saying 'So you are here.' In that occasion, Westrimundo Tabayoyong proposed to them to kill Marcelo Guico, Bo. Captain of Cabilaoan, Manaoag, Pangasinan, offering to pay them P1,000.00 if they succeeded. The said witness declared that in the conversations that day, the accused Westrimundo Tabayoyong and Antonio 'Bucot' Bautista did most of the talking. Knowing that the proposal was a bad one, the witness said that he and his companions did not agree. Before they separated, however, Westrimundo Tabayoyong allegedly told the witness and his two companions to think it over and to be at the same place on another day to give their decision. The witness and his two companions went to the same place on the designated day and there they met again their four co-accused. Altho the proposal was renewed, the witness and his companions did not agree. So the latter were told to be at the same place on another day designated for them to talk over the proposal some more. On this third meeting when the witness and his companions hesitated to agree to the proposal of Westrimundo Tabayoyong, the accused Antonio 'Bucot' Bautista forced them to accept the said proposal by threatening them with bodily harm if they did not agree. Before they parted the witness and his companions were told to meet with their co-accused once more so that they would know the other details of their plan to kill Marcelo Guico. And so, about three days before the execution of their agreement, all the accused met on the same place and the witness and his companions were told to gather in the house of the accused Eligio Cacayan in the afternoon of January 21, 1969 (sic), where the other accused would meet them. In the afternoon of that day, the accused, Julian Aguilar passed for the witness and, together, they went to the house of the accused Eligio Cacayan in Bo. Barrientos, Manaoag, Pangasinan, When they arrived there Eligio Cacayan told them that their coconspirators were not yet in. After sometime, however, the accused Antolin Castro, Miguel Begenio and Antonio 'Bucot' Bautista arrived. Around seven o'clock that evening all six of them proceeded to the house of the accused Antonio 'Bucot' Bautista in Bo. Cabilaoan, also in Manaoag, Pangasinan. On the way they stopped by a small store owned by a certain Sito Escritor where Antonio Bucot Bautista bought four bottles of wine. There they drank three of the four bottles and moved on. On their way they met the accused Westrimundo Tabayoyong who reminded them that if they succeeded in killing Marcelo Guico he would pay them P1,000.00. When they reached the house of Antonio 'Bucot' Bautista the latter served them dinner and let them drink the fourth bottle of wine which was left of the four bottles they got from the store of Sito Escritor. Then, Antonio 'Bucot' Bautista told them that it was time to go. They proceeded to Bo. Cabilaoan. At a certain point in the barrio road of Cabilaoan Antonio 'Bucot' Bautista stopped them and told them that they would wait for their intended victim, Marcelo Guico. The time me was between eight and nine o'clock that night.
They sat by the road side and waited. About two and a half hours later, they saw a man riding on a bicycle with lights coming down the road. Antonio "Bucot" Bautista stopped him. The man was Marcelo Guico their intended victim Antonio "Bucot" Bautista held him by pointing a gun at him. Then he thrust a bamboo club to Eligio Cacayan and ordered: "Club him." Marcelo Guico pleaded for his life saying: "Please do not kill me for the sake of my children." Eligio Cacayan hesitated but because he feared Antonio "Bucot" Bautista, he got the bamboo club and struck Marcelo Guico at the back of the latter's head. The victim was thrown towards Antonio "Bucot" Bautista and grappled with the latter. Antonio 'Bucot' Bautista ordered his companions to hold him. Miguel Begenio went behind the victim and held him by the legs. Antolin Castro held one hand of the victim and the witness helped also by holding the other hand of Marcelo Guico. Antonio "Bucot" Bautista then got the bamboo club from Eligio Cacayan and struck the victim's head at the back. Marcelo Guico put his right hand on his head just as Antonio "Bucot" Bautista hit him anew right where the victim placed his hand. The victim became limp and he was dropped on the ground. Antonio "Bucot" Bautista drew a bolo which he carried by his side, held the victim by the head and bolowed him several times slashing his neck and hacking him on the head and face. Then he gave the bolo to Eligio Cacayan and ordered him to do likewise. Eligio Cacayan out of fear, hacked and slashed the victim on the face. Antonio "Bucot" Bautista, Miguel Begenio and Antolin Castro pulled the deceased and deposited him by the roadside while Julian Aguilar took the victim's bicycle farther down the road. Then Antonio "Bucot" Bautista ordered them to go home, with assurance to pay them later their share of the Pl,000.00 promised to them by Westrimundo Tabayoyong. The foul deed was all over before 11:30 o'clock that night. 4

The post-mortem findings of Dr. Florencio Mangaliman showed that the deceased sustained the following injuries:
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1. A mortal slash wound about 10- inches long across the neck just above the Adam's apple, from the left side of the neck to the right side, about 2 inches wide and about 5 inches deep, severing the cervical bone, by means of a sharp instrument, thus injuring the spinal cord. 2. A slash wound about 10 inches long from the lower eyelid of the left eye, cutting the bridge of the nose and the zygomatic or cheek bone of the right side of the face, about 1 inch wide and about 3 inches deep, by means of a sharp instrument. 3. Another cut wound about 8 inches long from the vicinity of the right nostril to the center of the nape, right side. 4. A cut v and at the level of the mouth located near its outer canthus, right side, cutting the right lower jaw and connected to the first wound above mentioned. 5. A shattered lacerated wound, star shaped, over the occipital region of the head about 3 inches long and about 2 inches wide, produced by a blunt instrument. 6. Another lacerated wound about 1 inch long just behind the right ear or mastoid area. 7. Another lacerated wound of about- 1- inches long located about 2 inches above the right ear. 8. A compound fracture with laceration of the terminal phalanx bone of the right little finger, by a blunt instrument.
9. A chop wound somewhat circular in shape, about 1 inch in diameter, over the first knuckle of the middle finger of the right hand, produced by a sharp instrument. 5

The necropsy report further stated that the cause of death was "an irreversible shock due to the injury of the spinal cord and vertebrae of the neck, cerebral concussion and profuse bleeding." 6 At the witness stand, Dr. Florencio Mangaliman testified that wounds nos. 1, 2, 3 and 4 located at the face and neck could have been caused by a bolo; wound no. 5 in the occipital region or at the back of the head could have been caused by wood or bamboo; wounds nos. 6 and 7 and fracture no. 8 could have been caused by a blunt instrument; and wound no. 9 was caused by chopping. 7 The widow of the deceased; Mrs. Encarnacion Guico, testified inter alia: that the accused Antolin Castro was the defeated opponent of her late husband Marcelo Guico for the office of Barrio Captain of Bo. Cabilaoan, Manaoag, Pangasinan; that she did not know the party affiliation of her husband, but since his opponent Castro was a Nacionalista, then the deceased could have belonged to the Liberal Party; that as Barrio Captain elected in 1963, the deceased was very strict in the enforcement of regulations against stealing, gambling and cattle rustling, thus he made many enemies; that several times during his lifetime, the deceased told her (Mrs. Guico) that he had apprehended and issued warnings to the accused Antolin Castro, Antonio Bautista and Miguel Begenio several times for their gambling activities; that on one occasion, she was present when the accused Antolin Castro and Antonio Bautista were investigated for gambling (playing cards) but the case was settled amicably after they were warned by the deceased not to play gambling again; and, that the wife of accused Miguel Begenio was her first cousin. Mrs. Guico also stated that her deceased husband mentioned to her that he had an altercation with the accused Westrimundo Tabayoyong during which the latter almost shot the deceased on account of his strictness in enforcing regulations. 8 The then Municipal Judge of Manaoag, Pangasinan, Marcelino Andrada, who conducted the preliminary investigation of the three original accused, namely, Francisco Garlejo, Julian Aguilar and Eligio Cacayan, testified that he personally typed the statements given by said accused which the witness identified as Exhibits "C", "D" and "E", respectively. Judge Andrada also identified the records of his preliminary investigation presented in the lower court as Exhibit "F". He further stated that during the preliminary investigation, he purposely planted one Bernabe Manlepes 9 the janitor of the Mayor of the town, whom former accused Francisco Garlejo pointed to as one of his companions in the execution of the gruesome murder. He, however, also admitted that said Bernabe Manlepes looked very much like the real accused Miguel Begenio. 10 To the accusation filed against them, the accused Westrimundo Tabayoyong Antonio "Bucot" Bautista, Antolin Castro and Miguel Begenio, with respect to whom the trial proceeded, all interposed the defense of alibi, independently of each other as follows:

Accused Westrimundo Tabayoyong alleged that on the night the heinous crime was committed, he was in the company of Assistant Fiscal Leon Zabala, former Vice-Mayor Legaspi, Atty. Ireneo Salinas, one Atty. Aquino and then Governor Conrado Estrella, at the Carbungco Restaurant in Quezon City where the latter invited and took them to dinner. The said accused claimed that he left Pangasinan for Manila on January 19, 1966 with Zabala, Legaspi and Salinas, and returned to Pangasinan only on January 22, 1966, or the day after Marcelo Guico was killed. 11 Corroborating the allegations of Tabayoyong was the testimony of his witness, Assistant Fiscal Leon Zabala. 12 Accused Antonio "Bucot" Bautista accounted for his whereabouts on the fateful night of the murder as follows: On January 19, 1966, he went to Barrio Toledo, Ramos, Tarlac to collect the debt of P50.00 owed to him by his uncle, Eusebio Melegrito and stayed in that place up to January 22, 1966. 13 Melegrito who was presented as a defense witness, confirmed the testimony of Bucot Bautista. This witness also averred that the accused Bautista had to stay for three days in Toledo because he (Melegrito) was able to sell his palay only on January 21, 1966 and paid Bautista only on that night, so that the latter left for Pangasinan only at dawn of the following day, January 22, 1966. This witness further declared that during the three days that the accused Bautista waited to be paid, he helped the witness in the piling of his palay, and never left the witness' house in Bo. Toledo. 14 Accused Antolin Castro testified that from January 13 to January 20, 1966, he was in Manila following up his application papers in connection with his intended trip to Vietnam. 15 He presented his uncle-in-law, Simon Bilog, who claimed to have visited the accused Castro and conversed with him in the evening of January 20, 1966 up to midnight. 16 The same accused, however, failed to account for his whereabouts and activities on the night of the murder, and when interrogated on his alleged participation in the conspiracy to kill Marcelo Guico, he merely denied having any knowledge of it and averred that the accusation against him was untrue. 17 Lastly, accused Miguel Begenio testified that in the evening of January 21, 1966, he was in his own house at Barrio Cabilaoan, Manaoag, Pangasinan sleeping with his wife and children, and that he learned of the death of Marcelo Guico only on the next day, January 22, 1966. He further testified that he was even present during the embalming of the deceased, and together with his wife, he attended for several nights the vigil over the remains of the murdered man and the nightly prayers after the burial with the family of deceased, the latter's widow being a first cousin of his (Begenio's) wife. 18 After trial, judgment was rendered on July 24, 1969, the dispositive portion of which reads:
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WHEREFORE, the Court hereby finds the accused WESTRIMUNDO TABAYOYONG not guilty of the crime charged, his guilt not having been proven beyond reasonable doubt. The bond he has filed for his provisional liberty is hereby cancelled. The accused Antolin Castro, Miguel Begenio and Antonio 'Bucot' Bautista are hereby found to have conspired and caused the death of Marcelo Guico and are, therefore, guilty of the crime of murder as charged in the information. In the commission of the said offense, the aggravating circumstances of:
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1) that the crime was committed in consideration of a price or reward, or at least a promise thereof; 2) abuse of superior strength; 3) nighttime, purposely sought to facilitate its commission; and 4) that the wrong done was deliberately augmented by causing other wrongs not necessary for its commission when, after the victim was killed, the accused deliberately slashed his throat and sliced his face several times on several places, were found to be present. No mitigating circumstance has been offered by the accused Pursuant to the provisions of the Revised Penal Code, the said accused, each and all of them, are hereby sentenced to death. They are likewise ordered to indemnify the heirs of the deceased Marcelo Guico in the amount of P12,000.00. May God have mercy on their souls.
SO ORDERED. 19

On August 29, 1969, the accused Miguel Begenio moved for reconsideration and/or new trial on the grounds of: (1) insufficiency of evidence to sustain a finding of his guilt beyond reasonable doubt; and (2) newly discovered evidence. The motion, however, was denied on September 9, 1969. On October 13, 1969, the records of the ease were elevated to Us for an automatic review of the death penalty imposed on the accused Antolin Castro, Miguel Begenio and Antonio "Bucot" Bautista, herein appellants, who have filed their respective briefs. Appellant Miguel Begenio raises the following Assignment of errors:
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I. The lower court erred in accepting the testimony of the discharged accused Francisco Garlejo without any convincing corroborative evidence. II. The lower Court erred in finding that the evidence established a positive Identification of the accused Miguel Begenio. III. The lower Court erred in denying the motion for new trial on the ground of newly discovered evidence. IV. The lower Court erred in not accepting the defense of alibi interposed by the accused Miguel Begenio. Appellant Antonio Bautista alias "Bucot" makes the following Assignment of Errors:
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I. The trial Court erred in attaching full complete and absolute credence to the testimonies of Francisco Garlejo the liberated accused turned witness for the prosecution, against the herein defendant-appellant Antonio Bautista, notwithstanding that, aside from corning from a polluted source, his testimonies were so apparently forced, unreliable, uncorroborated and contrary to the common sense and the ordinary course of things. II. The trial Court erred in attaching any more significance, weight or value to the rest of the testimony of Francisco Garlejo against the herein appellant, after having rightly and correctly found, held and dismissed as mere "second thought" and "someone else's Idea not Garlejo's" those portions thereof against the accused Westrimundo Tabayoyong. III. The trial Court erred in finding and holding that there was sufficient motive for the appellant to COMMIT the cold-blooded murder as charged in the information. IV. The trial Court erred in completely disregarding and in not giving any credit, weight or value to the testimony of the appellant to the effect that, at the time of the incident, he was in Toledo, Ramos, Tarlac in the house of his uncle Eusebio Melegrito who corroborated his testimony simply on the ground that, in the words of the trial court itself, "It is too good and too perfect to be true," a conclusion which is not only, biased, unjust, unreasonable and apparently malicious, but also absolutely without any real basis in fact, in evidence and in law. V. The trial Court erred in not declaring the appellant absolutely innocent of the charge and, accordingly, in not ordering his complete and absolute acquittal for the failure of the prosecution to prove his guilt beyond all reasonable doubt. Appellant Antolin Castro interposes the following Assignment of Errors:
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I. The trial Court erred in giving any weight to the testimony of Francisco Garlejo. II. The trial Court erred in not aquitting Antolin Castro in the face of a reasonable doubt in the guilt, if any, of herein appellant. A perusal of the foregoing assignments of errors shows that a common error is assigned, that is, that the trial Court erred in according credence to the testimony of the accused turned State witness Francisco Garlejo. Herein appellants Miguel Begenio, Antonio "Bucot" Bautista and Antolin Castro join together in seeking to discredit and cast doubt on the testimony of the aforenamed discharged accused and in assailing the latter's credibility. At this point, it is important to mention the significant fact that in convicting herein appellants and sentencing them to death, the trial Court relied heavily and principally, if not solely, on the testimony of Garlejo. For purpose of this automatic review, therefore, it is imperative that Garlejo's testimony be carefully studied and meticulously scrutinized.

The main thrust of the arguments of herein appellants in support of their common assigned error is that Garlejo's testimony comes from a polluted source and the same was not validly and convincingly corroborated in any of its material points by any other witness or witnesses, nor by any other evidence for the prosecution, hence it cannot and should not be legally accepted and made the basis for the imposition of the supreme penalty of death. We find the contention meritorious. However, before delving into the merits of appellants' arguments, a brief discussion on the pertinent rules and applicable jurisprudence governing the discharge of an accused to become a state witness is in order. In allowing the discharge of a defendant who is a participes criminis to become a witness for the prosecution and against his co-defendants, Rule 119 of the Revised Rules of Court provides:
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Sec. 9. Discharge of one of several defendants to be witness for the prosecution. When two or more persons are charged with the commission of a certain offense, the competent court, at any time before they have entered upon their defense, man, direct one or more of them to be discharged with the latter's consent that he or they may be witnesses for the government when in the judgment of the court: (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; (e) Said defendant has not at any time been convicted of any offense involving moral turpitude. A competent court within the above section means the court before which the trial is held. 20 The discharge of an accused who may turn a state witness is expressly left to the sound discretion of the trial court which has the exclusive responsibility to see that the conditions prescribed by the rule exist. 21 A discharge amounts to an acquittal and is a bar to future prosecution for the same offense, unless the released defendant fails or refuses to testify against the other remaining accused, 22 and such failure is attributable to the former's will or fault. 23 Nevertheless, it should be remembered that the testimony of a discharged defendant, though admissible, is still subject to the tests on credibility as any other testimonial evidence. Thus, although an order of discharge of an accused issued by the trial Court may raise a presumption that all the requisites for its issuance in fact exist, and therefore that the discharge is in order, the same Court is not duty bound to believe the testimony of the discharged defendant and pronounce a judgment of conviction against the remaining accused merely on the strength of such testimony. The Court must be satisfied that the State evidence consisting of the testimony of a liberated participes criminis is credible. Furthermore, it is also a well-settled rule that the testimony of a self-confessed accomplice or coconspirator imputing the blame for the killing and implicating his co-accused cannot by itself and without corroboration, be considered as proof to a moral certainty that the latter had committed or participated in the commission of the crime. Thus it is required that the testimony be substantially corroborated by other evidence in all its material points.
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The true doctrine which should govern the testimony of accomplices, or what may be, variously termed principals, confederates, or conspirators, is not in doubt. The evidence of accomplices is admissible and competent. Yet such testimony comes from a 'polluted source.' Consequently, it is scrutinized with care. It is properly subject to grave suspicion. If not corroborated credibility is affected. Even then, however, the defendant may be convicted upon the unsupported evidence of an accomplice. If corroborated absolutely or even to such an extent as is indicative of trustworthiness, the testimony of the accomplice is sufficient to warrant of conviction. ... To quote from one of many decisions of this court, which concerns both the credibility of witnesses as determined by the trial court and the competency of testimony by an

accomplice, we turn to the case of The United States vs. Ambrosio and Falsario (1910, 17 Phil., 295), wherein it is said:
It is unquestionably true that the testimony of an accomplice must be taken faith great care and caution It must be assayed and weighed with scrupulous care. The corroborating testimony must be strong and convincing. It is also true, however, that when the testimony of an accomplice is corroborated by unimpeachable testimony and by strong circumstances, it may be given its due weight and force against the person in regard to whom it is presented. ... 24 Counsel for the appellants assigns as error the action of the trial court in dismissing the information as to some of those who were included in the same charge upon which they were convicted and permitting the Government to make use of the persons thus discharged as witnesses; having admitted their guilt of the crime of which appellants were convicted, their evidence should not have been taken into consideration. While it is true that the evidence of witnesses of this character is subject to the gravest suspicion and, taken by itself, might not be sufficient to justify a conviction, nevertheless, the proceeding subjected to is specifically authorized ...; and in this case the evidence offered by these witnesses were substantiated by that of many others, both as to the existence of the band of brigands and the connection of the accused with the same, and there was no error in the proceedings prejudicial to the interests of the accused. 25 ...The witness who testified were those released from prosecution for that purpose. Such testimony, while under proper circumstances entirely acceptable, is at the outset always subject to suspicion and it requires only very little credible evidence to ripen that suspicion into a certainty. 26 It is elementary law that a defendant in a criminal action cannot be convicted on the evidence of art accomplice only, and that to sustain such a conviction there must be other evidence corroborating that of the accomplice, which tends to show the guilt of the defendant. 27 ... But this witness was evidently a party in the conspiracy and his testimony should not be accepted without corroboration, of which there is none; for it is a well recognized rule that the testimony of one of several conspirators should not be accepted, as against his fellows; without some corroboration. This is especially applicable in a situation where the facts testified to would if fully accepted, necessarily result in the imposition of the death penalty. 28 Defendant and appellant Rufo Dizon in this case complains that he was convicted by the lower court, mainly on the strength of the testimony of his cousin and co-accused Tomas Dizon. In this jurisdiction, a co-accused or a co-defendant who has been found guilty or innocent in the same case, is always a competent witness for, or against, any of his co-accused (United States vs. Grant and Kennedy, 18 Phil., 122, 170). And it has even been held that the uncorroborated testimony of a co-accused, when satisfactory and convincing, may be the basis for a judgment of conviction (United States vs. Wayne Shoup 35 Phil. 56; United States vs. Remigio, 37 Phil. 610); although the better rule is that to serve as a legal basis for conviction the testimony of an accomplice must always be corroborated by some other witness or evidence (People vs. Asinas, 53 Phil. 59; People vs. Bantagan, 54 Phil. 834). And the testimony of defendant Tomas Dizon, a cousin of herein defendant and appellant, as a witness for the prosecution, as to the taking of the carabaos in question from the municipality of Labrador to the municipality of Mabini, where defendants disposed of them, has been fully corroborated by said witness Domingo Victorio and by the chief of police and the justice of the peace , who testified as to the admissions made by herein defendant and appellant as to their taking and disposition of the carabaos in question, and his plea of guilty. 29 And although it is true that the declarations of an accomplice should be taken with caution, coming as they do from a polluted source, we are satisfied from a reading of the whole record that his version, corroborated on important points by the circumstances disclosed, may be made the basis or one of the bases of a judgment of conviction. The contention is not true that the Faltados are convicted 'solely and exclusively, on the strength of the testimony' of Aquilino Agno. They were Identified among others by the offended parties, Angel Biscocho, Raymunda Perez and Silveria Biscocho. 30 ... Such testimony may warrant conviction if corroborated to such an extent that its trustworthiness becomes manifest (People vs. Riparip 86 Phil. 526; 47 Off. Gaz. (12th Supp 15P.). In the present case, Tomas Carandang's testimony finds ample corroboration in the written confessions of Eugenio Mendoza and Eliseo Carandang, as well as in that of Modesto Leviste, who confirmed the truth of their contents in open court. 31

The requirements of credibility and corroboration in material points apply with greater reason to the testimony of a defendant discharged under Rule 119, section 9 above-quoted considering that the

condition of a discharge is that the liberated defendant should testify against his former co-defendants. As succinctly elucidated in the case of Bernardo vs. Del Rosario 32 :
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When a defendant is discharged from the information, a contract is entered between him and the State. The discharge will be secured if the defendant will honestly and fairly make a full disclosure of the crime. It is incumbent upon him to keep his part of the contract if he hopes to receive the promised immunity; and if his testimony is corrupt or his disclosure is only partial, he gains nothing but forfeits his rights under the contract (15 Am. Jur. sec. 32, p. 17; U.S. v. Grant & Kennedy, 18 Phil. 122; V. Francisco's Rules of Court, par. II, p. 330, Rev. Ed.). Courts should not give a premium to a culprit who worked himself into gaining his acquittal, upon a deception and a contumacious disregard of an agreement validly entered into. Thus, "(i)f the testimony of the accomplice is corrupt or his disclosure is only partial, he gains nothing but forfeits his right to exemption." 33 Stated otherwise, the benefits of acquittal and freedom from further prosecution may be enjoyed fully and completely by a discharged defendant only if he testifies for the prosecution and against the rest of the accused. "(I)t is a notorious fact in human nature that a culprit, confessing a crime, is likely to put the blame on others rather than himself. Even though a court may well credit the statement of such a witness that other particular persons were engaged in the crime, it is unsafe to accept without corroborating evidence, his statements concerning the relative blame to be attached to different members of his gang." 34 It is for this reason that the Rules of Court require that several conditions be met before an accused may be discharged to act as a government witness. The very nature of a discharge makes it more imperative that the testimony of a discharged defendant be received with utmost care, caution and circumspection. Guided by the principles laid down by the law and jurisprudence set forth above, We shall now proceed to consider the facts and circumstances at bar. There is no question as to the correctness of the premise of appellants' contention that the testimony of Garlejo comes from a polluted source. We fully agree. As earlier stated, Garlejo was one of the original defendants in this murder case, hence one of those whom the Municipal Judge who conducted the preliminary investigation found reasonable ground to believe was guilty of the crime charged. Not only that. This State witness also unconditionally, unmistakably and voluntarily admitted his participation in the conspiracy ' to commit the murder and the actual killing of the deceased Marcelo Guico, both in the preliminary investigation, as evidenced by his Extrajudicial Statement (Exhibit "C") and the record of the proceedings of said investigation (Exhibit "F"), and during the trial itself, when he was presented as the prosecution's star witness. His testimony is, therefore, regarded as the testimony given by an accomplice or co-conspirator. Alerted by this fact, the next inquiry is whether Garlejo's testimony withstands the test of credibility. We hold in the negative. Even the lower Court was not absolute in giving credence to the whole testimony of Garlejo. The decision under review states:
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... The principal evidence laid against Westrimundo Tabayoyong is found in the testimony of Francisco Garlejo. This witness testified that altho he to see the accused Westrimundo Tabayoyong on several campaign meetings, he and the accused were never acquainted and have never spoken together until one day in early January, 1966, while the witness and Eligio Cacayan and Julian Aguilar were walking on the roadside in Bo. Inamotan, Manaoag Pangasinan , Westrimundo Tabayoyong, in company with Antolin Castro, Miguel Begenio and Antonio "Bicot" Bautista, allegedly accosted them, Westrimundo Tabayoyong saying to them: So you are here.' Right on that occasion this witness testified that Westrimundo Tabayoyong proposed to then-. the killing of Marcelo Guico for the consideration of Pl,000.00. This story is hard to believe. It could not be imagined how Westrimundo Tabayoyong, a municipal councilor and budding politician could propose to people he has never known before and whom he was meeting for the first time, right then and there by the roadside, the liquidation of a barrio captain. Francisco Garlejo testified that he and his companions have met with Westrimundo Tabayoyong and also his companions three times more afterwards, and in all these meetings Westrimundo Tabayoyong has proposed to them the liquidation of Marcelo Guico for reward. If we have to stretch our imagination to believe Francisco Garlejo's testimony on this point, no mater how stupid Westrimundo Tabayoyong would be, the Court cannot just believe that he would himself personally propose to people he was meeting for the first time the killing of Marcelo GuicoMatters of this kind are not done except in secrecy- and only after the proponent has the confidence of the persons to whom he makes the proposal. 35

We agree with the trial court's holding that Francisco Garlejo's testimony to the effect that Westrimundo Tabayoyong proposed and was the mastermind in the killing of the victim Marcelo Guico by offering a

reward of P1,000 to all the accused is inherently improbable, and accordingly, We find as justified the acquittal at the accused Tabayoyong based on the ground that, in the words of the Court, independent of Westrimundo Tabayoyong weak defense of alibi, the latter can not be convicted because the evidence given against him was weak, unreliable and even unbelievable. No motive was given by the prosecution for Westrimundo Tabayoyong to wish the killing of Marcelo Guico. No evidence was given why he should pay P1,000.00 to have Marcelo Guico killed. It is not on the weakness of an accused's alibi that he should be convicted but it should be on the showing beyond reasonable doubt that he is guilty (upon which) a conviction must be made. (CFI Decision, p. 47, Records). The reasoning for Tabayoyong's acquittal however was ignored or brushed aside by the Court in convicting the three remaining accused Antonio Bautista, Antolin Castro and Miguel Begenio. For while the trial court acquitted the accused Tabayoyong because it refused to give credence to the evidence given by the discharge defendent Francisco Garlejo as Tabayoyong's alleged participation in the conspiracy to commit the murder, the said Court nevertheless convicted the remaining three accused on the very same testimony of the defendant Garlejo. Rationalizing its decision of conviction, the Court said:
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But although the testimony of Francisco Garlejo in the conspiracy allegedly broached to them by Westrimundo Tabayoyong were to be detached from the facts in this case, this does not impair the testimony of Garlejo against the other accused. For, as this Court has already observed, implicating Westrimundo Tabayoyong appears more to be some one else's Idea than Garlejo's. And, as also observed earlier in this decision, the more probable time a conspiracy to kill Marcelo Guico was made was in the afternoon of January 21, 1966, either in the house of Eligio Cacayan or in the house of Antonio "Bucot" Bautista. The Court recalls that on that day, Julian Aguilar picked up Francisco Garlejo from his house and together they went to the house of Eligio Cacayan. Julian Aguilar was with a quitar and thought they might do some serenading on that night (Exhibit "D"). It is therefore clear that murder was not in their minds. But Francisco Garlejo in his preliminary investigation stated that in the house of Antonio "Bucot" Bautista that evening, after they were wined and fed the agreement to kill Marcelo Guico was 'cooked'. In that occasion all the accused, Westrimundo Tabayoyong excepted, were present. While this finding may perhaps affect the credibility of Francisco Garlejo, it still remains believable considering that this Court finds this charge reconcilable with probability and the truth. (CFI Decision, pp. 48-49, Records). In convicting the accused Antolin Castro, the trial court said:
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Evidence exists Chat this accused was the rival of the deceased in the election of a barrio captain. He lost to the deceased for this position. The next election of a barrio captain was coming up. This is a plausible cause to make the accused want the deceased eliminated evidence also exists that this accused and Miguel Begenio and Antonio "Bucot" Bautista were seen several tunes by the witness Francisco Garlejo in gambling dens and were also connected with thefts in the neighborhood. The wife of the deceased testified that her deceased husband as barrio captain has been quite strict against gambling and cattle rustling. She has testified that Antolin Castro, Miguel Begenio and Antonio "Bucot" Bautista had in fact been apprehended by the deceased and were released only after warning them against a repeated violation of law. To cap it all the accused was positively Identified as one of those who were present arid who cooperated when Marcelo Guico was mercilessly murdered. His alibi that on January 20, 1966, he arrived from Manila where he worked out his travel papers for Vietnam and that his relatives and his father-in-law visited him and stayed with him until midnight of that day, did not make an accounting of his whereabouts on the day and in the night of the murder of Marcelo Guico. However, Francisco Garlejo positively tagged him as one of those who arrived in the house of Eligio Cacayan in the afternoon of January 21, 1966, went with them to the house of Antonio "Bucot" Bautista, drank wine with them along the way and was with them when they left the house of Antonio "Bucot" Bautista to that part of the barrio road in Cabilaoan where they waited for almost two hours for the deceased. Francisco Garlejo also positively testified that when Marcelo Guico was being murdered the accused Antolin Castro gave aid by holding the deceased Marcelo Guico. (CFI Decision, pp. 49-51, Records). In the case of the accused Miguel Begenio his conviction by the trial court is reasoned out in the decision under review as follows:
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In the case of Miguel Begenio after making a lame denial of his implication by Francisco Garlejo, he alleged that on the night Marcelo Guico was killed he and his family went to sleep at 8:00 o'clock. He came to know of the death of Marcelo Guico only the following

morning when he followed people who went to see the body of the deceased which was lying by the roadside. He also said that his wife and the wife of the deceased are second cousins that he watched the embalming of the body of Marcelo Guico and attended the vigil of the deceased. Beyond saying that he did not know the witness Francisco Garlejo and the accused Eligio Cacayan and Julian Aguilar before they were accused together in this case, he did not have explanation to offer why he was implicated in so serious an offense which carries the penalty of death. Close as he claimed to be to the widow of Marcelo Guico, he never denied to her his alleged participation in the killing of her husband or asked her why he was ever accused of the same. This circumstance is quite unnatural because if he was innocent the usual thing for him to have done was to remonstrate with the deceased, denying his alleged participation therein and asked why he was ever implicated in the murder of Marcelo Guico. Unfortunately, he was likewise Identified to be with the group that ambushed and murdered Marcelo Guico. Even when he was not in the courtroom when the Municipal Judge of Urdaneta was conducting the preliminary investigation of this case, the witness Francisco Garlejo readily pointed to the one in the court, admittedly planted therein by the judge to test the witness, who was strikingly similar in appearance with the accused Miguel Begenio, as one of the murderers of Marcelo Guico. This spontaneous Identification of someone who looked very much like Miguel Begenio convinced this Court that the accused was one of the plotters and was there on the road when Marcelo Guico was killed. Miguel Begenio like his co-accused does not only belong to but is an assistant auditor of the party against which the deceased campaigned and won as a barrio captain. Altho he claimed he was in good terms with the widow of the deceased and attended the vigil for the latter, he has never talked with the said widow about the death of her husband or told her of his vaunted innocence. He has not rebutted the testimony given against aim by the widow of the deceased that he, in company with his co-accused Antolin Castro and Antonio "Bucot" Bautista, was on several occasions apprehended by the deceased for gambling and warned against repeated violations of the law. Finally, the Court cannot find any explanation, unless it was true why Francisco Garlejo in his preliminary investigation and in the court charged the accused Miguel Begenio as a co-conspirator and co-principal in murdering Marcelo Guico, a very serious offense which carries with it the penalty of death. When Miguel Begenio denied that he never knew Francisco Garlejo, he practically affirmed the truth of the testimony of Francisco Garlejo because it is inconceivable that the latter should Testify against the former if they did not know each other at all. (CFI Decision, pp. 51-53, Records). As to the accused Antonio Bautista, the Court after discrediting his alibi, relied on "the fact that Francisco Garlejo unmistakably placed him in the scene of the killing," so his defense of alibi becomes weaker still. Thus, said the Court:
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Finally, Antonio 'Buco' Bautista, like his co-accused, also sought the defense of alibi. He said that the clay before Marcelo Guico was killed he went to Toledo, Ramos, Tarlac, to Collect P50.00 which his uncle has borrowed from him and he stayed until 4:00 o'clock in the morning of January 22, 1966, alleging that when lie was finally paid it was only in the night of January 21, 1966. His uncle, testimony was corroborated by his alleged debtor I saw Eusebio Meligrito who testified that Antonio 'Bucot' Bautista went to his house on January 19, 1966 to collect what he owed from him. He became indebted to the accused at a tune when tile accused was his visitor. As a reason for the prolonged stay of the accused in his house, the witness said that the accused arrived only when he was piling up his harvest and had to wait until he was able to sell his palay on the 21st of January and, having arrived late in his house, he was able to pay the said accused only that night. This defense appears too good to be true. First the obligation was unusually created. The witness borrowing money from the accused when the latter was his visitor. The Court knows that borrowing does not. usually happen that way. The accused had to go and collect just before the crime was committed. He had to wait here for barely three days without going anywhere apparently to preclude the possibility of being placed in the vicinity where the incident occurred. Even tile payment has been time to be in night of the crime so that, considering the distance Toledo Ramos Tarlac and Manaoag, Pangasinan, it could not be said of the accused that he was in Manaoag when Marcelo Guico was killed. This newfangled defense is too perfect to be true but it cannot fool anyone lt was corroborated only by his uncle who cannot even tell at once the name of the alleged buyer of his palay who gave him the money which to pay the accused. So the Court says s that this defense of alibi is weak and unreliable because it easily fabricated and concocted without much opportunity of checking or rebutting it and when we consider the fact that Francisco Garlejo unmistakably placed him in the scene of the killing this defense of alibi becomes weaker still. accused appalled perhaps by, the evidence against him even neglected to file his own memorandum.

Francisco Garlejo testified on the way to the house of Antonio 'Bucot' Bautista early in the evening of January 21, 1966, all the accused, excluding Westrimundo Tabayoyong stopped in the store of Sito Escritor in Paitan where Bautista bought four bottles of wine and where they drank the first three bottles. Why did not the accused even as much as cite let alone present Sito Escritor as their witness if only to show that they were not together that night? No reason was given for such fatal commission (CFI Decision, pp- 53- 56, Records). Summarizing the reasons of the trial court in convicting the three accused, it can easily be discerned that the conviction was based on (1) the Identification of each of the accused by the discharged or liberated defendant Garlejo, (2) the possible motives of each of the accused and (3) the weakness of their respective alibis. After a careful analysis of the evidence on record, We find the conclusions of the trial court to be without factual and legal basis. The Identification of the accused Bautista made by the defendant Garlejo whose testimony "unmistakably" placed him (Bautista) at the scene of the killing," and the Identification of the accused Begenio who was "unfortunately Identified to be with the group that ambushed and murdered Marcelo Guico," and that of the accused Castro who, according to Garlejo "when Marcelo Guico was being murdered the accused Antolin Castro gave aid by holding the deceased Marcelo Guico" is not worthy of credence and belief, not only because the evidence relied upon comes from a polluted source but also because it is not supported by any other material evidence on record. The legal principles heretofore cited earlier in this decision as to the probative value of evidence given by an accomplice, unsupported by corroborating evidence on the material points are clearly applicable to the case at bar. We reject Garlejo's testimony incriminating the three (3) remaining accused not merely because it is polluted, corrupt and contaminated. It is highly improbable, unnatural and far out of the common experience of man whether in doing what is good and lawful or what is evil and wrong. The defendant Garlejo has been accused of stealing a cow and farming equipment worth Fifty Pesos (P150.00) in Urdaneta, Pangasinan, which case is still pending in court (t.s.n., p. 4, 8, July 27, 1967) and he has also admitted having escaped from jail. (t.s.n., p. 7, July 27, 1967, cited in Brief for accused Castro, p. 7). From this evidence, Garlejo's character is open to grave suspicion and doubt. The only evidence on record tending to prove herein appellants' complicity in the crime charged, aside from Garlejo's unbelievable and incompetent testimony, are the extrajudicial confessions of the missing original co-accused, Julian Aguilar and Eligio Cacayan, marked Exhibits "D" and "E", respectively. As a matter of fact, before the actual trial could commence in the lower court, and while the prosecuting fiscal was arguing his petition for the discharge of then accused Francisco Garlejo which was met with energetic protests and objections from the respective counsel of the other accused, said fiscal admitted:
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I should be frank with the defense that the evidence of the prosecution in this case are only the three confessions of the three accused (referring to Francisco Garlejo, Julian Aguilar and Eligio Cacayan), and we have no more. There is a need for us to get the testimony of one of these accused ... (t.s.n., Ceralde, July 5, 1967, p. 4). Pursuant to Rule 130, Section 29 of the Rules of Court. the declaration of an accused expressly acknowledging his guilt of the offense charged may be given in evidence against him. The corollary rule is that the confession of one of several co-accused is not competent evidence against his co-accused, the reason being that the confession of one of the defendants is hearsay evidence with respect to the rest, as the latter had no opportunity to cross- examine the former 36 and since appellants' respective counsels interposed timely and vigorous objections during the trial to the admission of the aforementioned Exhibits "D" and "E" (t.s.n., Ceralde, August 2, 1967, pp. 103-105), the same being hearsay are inadmissible as evidence against the appellants. There is, therefore, no other evidence to corroborate the unreliable, unconvincing and unsatisfactory testimony of Garlejo as far as herein appellants are concerned. We agree with the argument of the accused Antolin Castro that it would he illogical and unfair for the trial court to convict appellants on the basis of the testimony of Francisco Garlejo which was discredited by the court and so acquitted the alleged mastermind of the killing, the accused Westrimundo Tabayoyong, citing the case of People vs. Chaw Law Shun et al., 23 SCRA 127 and reiterating the holding in People vs. Aquino, et al., L-3789, June 30, 1960, 108 Phil. 814, thus
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Since the widow appears to be the star witness of the prosecution whose testimony was given much weight in pinning liability on the accused, the Supreme Court would not be consistent and true to logic and fairness if it would now reach a verdict of conviction against

them on the strength of the same testimony which was discredited by the trial court insofar as one of their co-accused in the same case is concerned. (Syllabus) As to the possible motives pointed out in the judgment under review, We rule that the evidence in support thereto are, to our considered view, very flimsy and weak. For assuming that the accused Antolin Castro was the rival of the deceased in the election of barrio captain and said accused lost to the deceased for the position; that the next election for barrio captain was coming up and this was a plausible cause for the accused Castro to eliminate the deceased, it has not been shown that said accused was a candidate or interested in running for said position. Assuming also that the accused Begenio does not only belong to but is an assistant auditor of the party against whom the deceased campaigned and won as a barrio captain and that he was apprehended by the deceased on several occasions for gambling with his co-accused Bautista and warned against repeated violations of the law, there is also no showing that Begenio and Bautista were charged in court or convicted for said offenses. But basically, the testimony of the widow as to these motives however plausible is essentially hearsay, the probative value of which is open to grave doubts and suspicion, especially in a capital accusation such as the case at bar. Moreover, while proof of motive is not necessary where there is a positive Identification of the accused, in the instant case where the identification of the accused-appellants as the authors of the crime charged proceeds from unreliable and unsatisfactory evidence, evidence of motive becomes necessary. (People vs. Salas, 66 SCRA 126; People vs. Madera, 57 SCRA 349; People vs. Dorico, 54 SCRA 172). Indeed, the lack of motive to kill the offended party which has become apparent from the rejection of Garlejo's testimony that the killing was motivated in consideration of a price or reward allegedly offered by the accused Tabayoyong, may be taken or considered as a further basis for acquitting the remaining accused. (People vs. Padirayon, 67 SCRA 135). The remaining errors assigned by herein appellants which all revolve around their respective defenses of alibi need not be lengthily discussed for there can be no dispute of the well-known and oft-repeated rulings of the Supreme Court on the inherent weakness of this particular defense interposed by said appellants. However it must also be admitted that in quite a number of cases where the evidence for the prosecution against the accused as author of a crime charged is weak, doubtful, unconvincing, unreliable or unsatisfactory, the defense of alibi assumes importance and acquires commensurate strength, and therefore, may be given credence. 37 Indeed, We must "emphasize the fact that courts should not at once look with disfavor at the defense of alibi. When an accused puts up the defense of alibi, the court should not at once have a mental prejudice against him. For, taken in the light of all the evidence on record, it may be sufficient to acquit him ... ." 38 In People vs. Bartolay, 39 We held: "The alibis of the three appellants, while weak in themselves, yet when coupled with the improbabilities and uncertainties of the prosecution evidence and the absence of adequate proof of conspiracy, suffice to raise reasonable doubts as to their responsibility." Appellant Bautista's allegations that on the night of the murder he was in Barrio Toledo, Ramos, Tarlac in the house of his uncle, Eusebio Melegrito was sufficiently corroborated by the latter who testified in open Court. For his part, appellant Begenio simply testified that on the fateful night of January 21, 1966, he was in his own house in the same barrio where the murder was perpetrated, and that he was then sleeping with his wife and children. The simplicity of this accused's defense of alibi ought to be commended rather than disbelieved. As a defendant in a murder case, he could have offered to establish a concocted alibi which would bring him to a place far from the scene of the killing so as to make it impossible for him to have participated in the commission of the crime, rather than declare as the truth his presence in the very same barrio where the victim met his death in the hands of assasins. We are, therefore, persuaded to take Begenio's declarations regarding his whereabouts as aforestated to be true. With respect to appellant Castro, it is true that he has failed to account for his whereabouts at the time of the murder for his evidence consisted of proof tending to show where he was, what he was doing and whom he was with on the day before the murder. Nevertheless despite this failure as well as the weakness of appellants' evidence, their acquittal or conviction should be based on all the evidence on record because "the accused cannot be convicted by reason of the weakness of their alibi. The prosecution must prove their guilt upon the strength of its evidence and not by the weakness of that of the accused." 40 As We said in People vs. Fraga, et al., speaking through Mr. Justice J.B.L. Reyes;
1wph1.t

(A)n accused cannot be convicted on the basis of evidence which, independent of his alibi, is weak, uncorroborated, and inconclusive. The rule that alibi. must be satisfactorily proven was never intended to change the burden of proof in criminal cases; otherwise, we will see the absurdity of an accused being put in a more difficult position where the prosecution's evidence

is vague and weak than where it is strong." 41(See also People vs. Cunanan, et al., supra People vs. Bulawin, supra; People vs. Basuel, supra; People vs. Dayag,supra; and People vs. Lim and Lim, supra)

In fine and essence, the prosecution has failed to prove the guilt of the accused-appellants beyond peradventure of doubt, not because of the weakness of their alibi but due to the reliance of the government on evidence that is polluted and corrupt. The innocence of the three accused which is presumed by constitution trial mandate has not been successfully rebutted or overthrown, hence their acquittal must necessarily result from and be ordered by virtue of this review. WHEREFORE, in view of all the foregoing, the judgment of conviction is hereby reversed and the accused Antonio Bautista alias "Bucot", Antolin Castro and Miguel Begenio alias "Aning" are hereby acquitted and ordered released from confinement, unless otherwise detained for another offense. Cost de oficio. SO ORDERED. Fernando, C.J., Teehankee, Barredo, Makasiar, Aquino, Abad Santos, De Castro and Melencio-Herrera, JJ., concur.
1wph1.t

Fernandez, and Concepcion, Jr., JJ., are on leave.

Footnotes

1wph1. t

1 CFI Record, p. 189. 2 CFI Decision, p. 3; CFI Records p. 484. 3 Ibid., pp. 11-12; CFI Record, pp. 492-493. 4 Ibid., pp. 3-8; CFI Record, pp. 484-489. 5 Exhibit "A"; Folder of Exhibits, p. 1. 6 Ibid. 7 T.SN., Navarro, July 21, 1967, pp. 85-94. 8 T.SN., Ceralde Aug. 2, 1967; pp. 77-100. 9 T.SN., Austria, July 28, 1967, pp. 116, 118; but "Bernabe Manlapas" in lower Court's decision, p. 14, CFI Record, p. 495, while "Bernabe Marquez" in Exhibit "F" t.s.n. second stage of preliminary investigation, Jan. 27, 1967), p. 84. 10 T.SN., Austria, July 28, 1967, pp. 96-118. 11 T.SN., Navarro, March 1, 1968, pp. 123-127. 12 Ibid. pp. 112-119. 13 T.SN., Mabutas Aug. 22, 1968, pp. 42-43 and pp. 48-52. 14 T.SN., Navarro, April 25, 1968, pp. 149-15-D. 15 T.SN., Navarro, Oct. 24, 1968, pp- 170-174 and pp. 179- 184. 16 lbid, pp. 15 -164. 17 lbid., pp. 169-170.

18 T.SN.,Mabutas, March 1, 1968, pp. 25, 32. 19 CFI Decision, pp- 39-40; CFI Records pp- 520-521. 20 U.S. vs. Inductive, 40 Phil. 84, 88-89. 21 U.S. vs. Barredo, et al. 32 Phil. 444, 451: U.S. vs- Abanzado, et al. 37 Phil. 658. 664668; People vs. Ibaez, et al., 92 Phil. 933, 936; Guiao vs. Figueroa, 94 Phil. 1018, 1023; People vs. Mendiola, et al., 46 O.G. 3629, 3633: People vs- Bautista, et al. 106 Phil. 39, 44; People vs. Manigbas et al., 109 Phil. 469, 478. 22 Section 11, Rule 119, Revised Rules of Court. 23 People vs. Mendiola et al., supra p. 3634. 24 U.S. vs. Remigio, et al., 37 Phil. 599, 610-611 (Emphasis supplied); also quoted in People vs. Lanas, et al., 93 Phil. 147, 154155, and in People vs. Canete 43 SCRA 14, 26. See also People vs. Aquino. 57 SCRA 43,48. 25 U.S. vs. Aguasa et al., 4 Phil. 274, 275-276 (Emphasis supplied). 26 U.S. vs. San Juan, 25 Phil. 513, 521 (Emphasis supplied). 27 People vs. Asinas, et al., 53 Phil. 59, 67 (Emphasis supplied) also quoted in People vs, Lanas, et al., supra, p. 155. 28 People v. Bumanglag, et al. 56 Phil. 10, 14-15 Emphasis supplied); also quoted in People vs. Lanas, et al., supra, p. 155. 29 People vs. Dizon, et al., 76 Phil. 265, 271 (Emphasis supplied). 30 People vs. Faltado, et al., 84 Phil. 89, 94 (Emphasis supplied ). 31 People v. Manigbas, et al. supra, 478-479 (Emphasis supplied). 32 L-18237, Jan. 31, 1964, 10 SCRA 140,147. 33 14 Am. Jur., p. 845. 34 People vs. Mandangan, et al., 52 Phil. 62, 64. 35 CFI Decision, pp- 25-27 (Emphasis supplied). 36 U.S. vs. Candelaria, et al., 4 Phil. 543, 544; U.S. vs. Macalalad, et al., 9 Phil. 1, 5; People vs. Durante, et al., 47 Phil. 654, 658; People vs. Amajul, et al., 1 SCRA 682 687. 37 People vs. Cunanan, et al., 19 SCRA 769, 783; People vs. Bulawin, 29 SCRA 710, 721722; People vs. Cruz, 32 SCRA 181, 187, quoting from People vs. Baquiran, 20 SCRA 451, 460- 461, People vs. Basuel, 47 SCRA 207, 222-223; People vs. Beltran, 61 SCRA 246, 255-256; People vs. Salas, et al., 66 SCRA 126, 132-133; People vs. Lim and Lim, 80 SCRA 496. 38 People vs. Villacorte, et al.. 55 SCRA 640, 655. 39 42 SCRA 1, 6. 40 People vs. Davag 56 SCRA 439, 450. 41 109 Phil. 241, 250.

Republic of the Philippines SUPREME COURT Manila SECOND DIVISION G.R. No. L-33492 March 30, 1988 THE PEOPLE OF THE PHILIPPINES, plaintiff-appellee vs. EFREN MERCADO, defendant-appellant.

PADILLA, J.: This is an appeal from the decision * rendered by the defunct Circuit Criminal Court, Seventh Judicial District, Pasig, Rizal, dated 11 March 1971, in Criminal Case No. CCC-564-Rizal, entitled: "People of the Philippines, plaintiff, versus Efren Mercado, accused," the dispositive part of which reads as follows: WHEREFORE, finding the accused, Efren Mercado, GUILTY, beyond reasonable doubt, of the crime of Murder as defined under Article 248 of the Revised Penal Code, as charged in the information, the Court hereby sentences him to suffer the penalty of RECLUSION PERPETUA; to indemnify the heirs of the deceased Dominador Salvador, Jr., the amount of P12,000.00; to pay the amount of P5,000.00 as moral damages and another P5,000.00 as exemplary damages; and to pay the costs. The facts of the case, as summarized in the People's Brief, are as follows: At about 10:00 o'clock in the evening of December 23, 1970, the deceased Dominador Salvador, Jr. and his friends were in their house preparing to caroling. Among those with the deceased were Ding Cristobal, Rod Cristobal, Teody Pangilinan, Emilio Fuerte and Leonardo Calvento. (t.s.n., pp. 2-3, January 14, 1971) From the house of Dominador Salvador they proceeded to the house of Mr. Aguilar a place which is more or less 16 to 25 meters from the place of the deceased Dominador Salvador, Jr. (t.s.n., p. 3, January 15, 1971), In going to the place of Mr. Aguilar they were to pass through an "eskinita" a small road (t.s.n., p. 3, January 15, 1971). Mr. Aguilar lives in Real street, a national road. When they went to the place of Mr. Aguilar, Dominador Salvador, Jr. and Leonardo Calvento went ahead of the group. The group walked in a regular manner, not too slow but not too fast. On their way to Mr. Aguilar's place they heard slanderous words directed at them and when they looked around to ascertain who uttered the slanderous words, stones were suddenly hurled against them. Those who hurled the stones belonged to the group of the accused Efren Mercado (t.s.n., p. 4, January 15, 1971). Emilio Fuerte who was one of those who went caroling was hit by a stone about one (1) inch in a diameter (t.s.n., p. 5, January 15, 1971) and because he was not hurt very much and, finding that the guitar which they brought along with them had a broken string, the group returned to the place of Dominador Salvador, Jr. to repair the guitar (t.s.n., p. 6, January 15, 1971). It took the deceased and his group ten (10) minutes to repair the guitar after which they proceeded to go caroling again. Upon reaching a comer, they saw the group of the accused Efren Mercado waiting for them (t.s.n., p. 6, January 15, 1971). The group of the accused again stoned the group of the deceased and because of this, deceased (and Leonardo Calvento) approached the group of the accused to inquire from them why they were stoned (t.s.n., p. 6-7, January 15, 1971). Deceased and Leonardo Calvento were followed by Emilio Fuerte. While Emilio Fuerte was in front of the store he saw Efren Mercado grab the deceased and gave him a thrust with his right hand. At first Leonardo Calvento who was with the deceased thought that the deceased was not stabbed but when they were leaving the place of the incident the victim stated the following words, "May tama ako," and later he saw blood on the right chest of the victim. The victim was brought to the San Juan De Dios Hospital where he died on arrival. A necropsy report was made on the victim by Dr. Roberto Garcia and the following wounds were found:

POST-MORTEM FINDINGS Pallor, integument conjunctivae and nailbeds, stab wound, chest, right, anterior aspect, infraclavicular region, at the level of the 1st intercostal space, right, 6.5 cms. from the anterior mediam line, 1.7 cm. in size, oriented downward and laterally, edges, clean-cut, upper extremity sharp, lower extremity, contused, directed downwards, backwards, and medially, involving among other things, the soft tissues, thru the lst intercostal space, right grazing the lower order of the 1st rib, into the right thoracic cavity, perforating the upper lobe right lung, into the middle mediastinum penetrating the superior vena cava with approximate depth, 12.0 cms. Hemothorax, right -1,920 cc. Brain and other visceral organs, pale. Stomach - 1/2 filled with partly digested rice and food materials
CAUSE OF DEATH Stab wound of the chest, right.
1

The accused-appellant admits having stabbed the deceased, but claims self- defense. His account of the incident is as follows:
... It appears that in the evening of December 23, 1970, accused Efren Mercado had to go to the house of his employer, Larry Salvador, at Real Street, Las Pinas Rizal. He had two companions at the time, who were left outside when he went into the house of his employer. When he came out, his two companions complained to him that they were "napagiinitan" by a group of persons, who were later Identified to be Dominador Salvador and his "barkada." This group of Dominador Salvador threw firecrackers at the two companions of the accused. To avoid any incident, the accused told his companions to go home, and he himself went home. On the way home, he saw some persons, numbering twelve in all, chasing two other persons. He Identified the pursued persons as his two companions so he intervened and tried to stop the pursuers. The pursuers turned on the accused, attacking him with piece of chain and a piece of bamboo. To defend himself, the accused whipped out a knife and brandished it before his attackers, to frighten them. He had no intention to injure anyone, only to stop his attackers and to defend himself. After the attackers ran away, the accused proceeded home. Later, in the evening, he was brought to the police department and subsequently charged for the death of one Dominador Salvador. 2

The trial court, after analyzing the evidence, rejected the defense of the accused, because of the positive and unqualified Identification by prosecution witnesses Leonardo Calvento and Emilio Fuerte that the accused-appellant was the unlawful aggressor and slayer of the victim; and, besides, according to the trial court, the act of the appellant of running away from the scene of the crime, after the commission thereof, is "repugnant" to the appellant's claim of innocence "for if it is really true that he was forced to slay the victim to save his life, then he could have surrendered to the police authorities right after the commission of the crime or given himself to any member of the barrio council, where he is residing as is ordinarily done in urban areas." 3 We agree with the trial court that the accused-appellant has not convincingly proven his claim of selfdefense. His defense is based solely upon his testimony, whereas, the version of the prosecution is supported by the testimonies of Leonardo Calvento and Emilio Fuerte both of whom were with the deceased on the night in question and witnessed the commission of the offense. It is well-settled that selfdefense is an affirmative allegation that must be proven with certainty by sufficient, satisfactory and convincing evidence that precludes any vestige of criminal aggression on the part of the person invoking it, 4 and the Court has ruled that the plea of self-defense cannot be justifiably entertained where it is not only uncorroborated by any separate competent evidence but, in itself, is extremely doubtful, 5 and cannot overcome the version of the prosecution supported by the testimony of two eye-witnesses who saw the incident. 6 The accused-appellant, in this appeal, assails the trial court for giving more weight to the testimony of the prosecution witnesses despite certain errors, inconsistencies and contradictions in their declarations. We have examined the record of the case with great care and find no reason to set aside the findings of fact of the trial court, which are supported by documentary evidence and the testimony of witnesses who have no reason whatsoever to testify falsely against the accused-appellant. Moreover, the rule is wellsettled that, where the issue is one of credibility of witnesses, appellate courts will not generally disturb the

findings of the trial court, unless it has plainly overlooked certain facts of substance and value which, if considered, might affect the result of the case. Herein appellant failed to demonstrate that his case falls under such exception which would justify this Court to overturn the findings of fact of the trial court. The accused-appellant further assails the trial court for denying his motion to dismiss dated 28 January 1971. The appellant contends that the prosecution failed to prove a prima facie case against him so that the trial court should have granted his e motion to dismiss. The contention is not well-taken. Judicial action on a motion to dismiss or demurrer to the evidence is left to the exercise of sound judicial discretion. Unless there is a grave abuse thereof, amounting to lack of jurisdiction, the trial court's denial of a motion to dismiss may not be disturbed. In the instant case, the trial court, after hearing the evidence presented by the prosecution, was convinced that said evidence was sufficient to warrant a finding of guilty vis-a-vis the accused. As a matter of fact, the Court is convinced that the accused-appellant is criminally liable for the death of Dominador Salvador, Jr. even without the admission of the accused-appellant. The crime committed, however, as pointed out by counsel for the accused- appellant and confirmed by the Solicitor General, is Homicide and not Murder. We cite with approval the following disquisition of the Solicitor General: We agree that the defendant should have been convicted of Homicide instead of Murder. The circumstance alleged in the information to qualify the crime of murder is treachery. There is treachery or "alevosia" if the "offender commits any of the crimes against person, employing means, methods or forms in the execution thereof which tend directly and specially to insure its execution, without risk to himself arising from the defense which the offended party might make." A perusal of the evidence adduced by the prosecution reveals that the stabbing incident was preceded by the "uttering of slanderous remarks and followed by stoning." (t.s.n., pp. 4-5, January 14, 1971 and t.s.n., pp. 4, 5, 6, January 15, 1971). Because of the stoning, the deceased approached the group of the accused and (t.s.n., p. 6, January 14, 1971) it was at that time when the deceased was inquiring from the group of the accused the reason why they were stoned that he (deceased) was stabbed. The utterance of slanderous remarks followed by the stoning incident is a warning to the deceased and Ms group of the hostile attitude of the group of the appellant and these should have placed the deceased and his companions on their guard. (People vs. Gonzales, 76 Phil. 2173; People vs. Luna, 76 Phil. 107; People vs. Sagayno, 95 SCRA 366). Further, the prosecution evidence also discloses that the place of the wound indicated that the accused was facing the deceased. (p. 8, t.s.n., January 12, 1971) All these circumstances negative "alevosia". We also find merit in the submission of the accused-appellant that the trial court erred in finding that he (accused) had fled from the scene of the crime. Pat. Artemio Talampas of the Las Pinas police declared that he arrested the accused in the latter's house, which is located about 40 meters away from the scene of the stabbing incident; that the accused was at the time talking with his friends; and that when he confronted the accused with the knife, the accused readily admitted ownership, thereof, as well as his having stabbed Dominador. 7 These circumstances negate flight. As recommended by the Solicitor General, the penalty to be imposed upon the accused-appellant shall be eight (8) years and one (1) day of prision mayor, as minimum, to fourteen (14) years, eight (8) months and one (1) day of reclusion temporal, as maximum. However, the indemnity to be paid to the heirs of the victim shall be increased to P30,000.00, in line with recent decisions. WHEREFORE, with the modifications above indicated, the judgment appealed from is hereby AFFIRMED. With costs against the defendant-appellant. SO ORDERED. Yap (Chairman), Melencio-Herrera, Paras and Sarmiento, JJ., concur.

Footnotes * Penned by Judge Onofre A. Villaluz. 1 Appellee's Brief, pp. 2-5. 2 Appellant's Brief, pp. 2-3. 3 Trial Court decision, p. 16, Rollo, p. 24. 4 People vs. Lebumfacil, G.R. No. L-32910, March 28, 1980, 96 SCRA 573. 5 People vs. Maranan, G.R. Nos. L-47228-32, L-46587, Dec. 15, 1986, 146 SCRA 243. 6 People vs. Empeno, G.R. No. L-27610, May 28, 1970, 33 SCRA 40. 7 T.S.N. of Jan. 12, 1971, pp. 17-18,

FIRST DIVISION

SPS. HENRY and ROSARIO UY, Petitioners,

G.R. No. 159098

Present: - versus PANGANIBAN, C.J., Chairperson, YNARES-SANTIAGO, AUSTRIA-MARTINEZ, CALLEJO, SR., and CHICO-NAZARIO, JJ.

HON. JUDGE ARSENIO P. ADRIANO, in his capacity as Pairing Judge of RTC, Br. 64, Tarlac City, CITY PROSECUTOR ALIPIO C. YUMUL and PIAKAMASARAP CORP., Respondents.

Promulgated: October 27, 2006

x--------------------------------------------------x DECISION

CALLEJO, SR., J.:

Challenged in this instant Petition for Review on Certiorari is the Decision[1] of the Court of Appeals (CA) in CA-G.R. SP No. 62103 which affirmed the Orders of the Regional Trial Court (RTC) of Tarlac City[2] denying the motion to quash the Information in Criminal Case Nos. 6512-94. Based on a confidential information that petitioner Henry Uy had been engaged in manufacturing, delivering, and selling fake Marca Pia soy sauce,[3] Orlando S. Bundoc, Intelligence Officer II of the Economic Intelligence and Investigation Bureau (EIIB), applied for a search warrant[4] for unfair competition which was granted on February 14, 1994. When the search warrant was implemented on even date, Atty. Francisco R. Estavillo, agent of the National Bureau of Investigation (NBI) in Tarlac, seized fifty-five (55) bottles of label Marca Pia soy sauce.[5] Consequently, a criminal complaint was filed in the Municipal Trial Court (MTC) of Tarlac City on March 23, 1994, charging petitioner Henry Uy with violation of Article 189 (Unfair Competition) of the Revised Penal Code.[6] On November 8, 1994, private respondent Piakamasarap Corporation moved to amend the criminal charge by including Henrys spouse, petitioner Rosario Uy.[7] The

court granted the motion in its Order dated November 15, 1994 and admitted the amended criminal complaint which reads:
The undersigned, LUIS E. GONZALES, Comptroller of PIAKAMASARAP CORPORATION of 583 Sta. Veronica St., Novaliches, Quezon City, and by authority of the said corporation, under oath accuses HENRY UY, ROSARIO GUTIERREZ UY and a certain JOHN DOE of Violation of Article 189 of the Revised Penal Code, committed as follows: That on or about February 14, 1994, and for sometimes (sic) prior thereto, in Municipality of Tarlac, Tarlac, Philippines, the said Rosario G. Uy accused, being then the owner of a business establishment with principal address at Phase I, Northern Hills Subdivision, San Vicente, Tarlac, Tarlac, and her co-accused, husband, HENRY UY, and a certain John Doe, did then and there, willfully, unlawfully and feloniously conspire and confederate together and help one another engaged in unfair competition with the intention of deceiving and defrauding the public in general and the consuming public in general and PIAKAMASARAP Corporation, the manufacturer and bottler of soy sauce under the name MARCA PIA, a [trademark] duly registered with the Philippine Patent Office and sell or offer for sale soy sauce manufactured by them with the brand name Marca Pia which is a bastard version of the trademark, and using the bottles of Piakamasarap Corporation and substituted the contents thereof with those manufactured by the accused and passing to the public that said products to be the products of Piakamasarap Corporation which is not true, thereby inducing the public to believe that the above-mentioned soy sauce sold or offered for sale by said accused are genuine MARCA PIA soy sauce manufactured by PIAKAMASARAP CORPORATION, and of inferior quality to the damage and prejudice of the Piakamasarap Corporation. Contrary to law. Tarlac, Tarlac, November 8, 1994.[8]

After preliminary examination of the prosecution witnesses, the court found probable cause to indict petitioners.[9] On January 30, 1995, the court issued a warrant of arrest against petitioners.[10] They were released after posting a cash bond on February 1, 1995.[11] On July 10, 1995, petitioners were arraigned, assisted by counsel, and pleaded not guilty to the charge.[12] Petitioners, through counsel, waived the pre-trial conference on October 25, 1995. The initial trial was set on November 27, 1995.[13] However, it was only on February 26, 1996 that the first witness of the prosecution, Atty. Estavillo of the NBI, testified. In the meantime, in October 1996, this Court issued Administrative Order (A.O.) No. 104-96 providing, inter alia, that the RTC shall have exclusive jurisdiction over violations of Articles 188 and 189 of the Revised Penal Code and Republic Act (R.A.) No. 166, as amended, thus:
VIOLATIONS OF INTELLECTUAL PROPERTY RIGHTS SUCH AS, BUT NOT LIMITED TO, VIOLATIONS OF ART. 188 OF THE REVISED PENAL CODE (SUBSTITUTING AND ALTERING TRADEMARKS, TRADE NAMES, OR SERVICE MARKS), ART. 189 OF THE REVISED PENAL CODE (UNFAIR COMPETITION, FRAUDULENT REGISTRATION OF TRADEMARKS, TRADE NAMES, OR SERVICE MARKS, FRAUDULENT DESIGNATION OF ORIGIN, AND FALSE DESCRIPTION), P.D. NO. 49 (PROTECTION OF INTELLECTUAL PROPERTY RIGHTS), P.D. NO. 87 (AN ACT CREATING THE VIDEOGRAM

REGULATORY BOARD), R.A. NO. 165, AS AMENDED (THE PATENT LAW), AND R.A. NO. 166, AS AMENDED (THE TRADEMARK LAW) SHALL BE TRIED EXCLUSIVELY BY THE REGIONAL TRIAL COURTS IN ACCORDANCE WITH THE ESTABLISHED RAFFLE SCHEME EXCEPT THOSE COVERED BY ADMINISTRATIVE ORDER NO. 113-95 DATED 2 OCTOBER 1995, IN WHICH CASE, THE DESIGNATED REGIONAL TRIAL COURTS SHALL CONTINUE TO OBSERVE THE PROVISIONS THEREIN. CONSIDERING THAT JURISDICTION FOR VIOLATIONS OF INTELLECTUAL PROPERTY RIGHTS HEREINBEFORE MENTIONED IS NOW CONFINED EXCLUSIVELY TO THE REGIONAL TRIAL COURTS, THE DESIGNATION OF METROPOLITAN TRIAL COURTS AND MUNICIPAL TRIAL COURTS IN CITIES UNDER ADMINISTRATIVE ORDER NO. 113-95 IS DELETED AND WITHDRAWN.

Despite the administrative order of the Court, the MTC continued with the trial. Gloria P. Tomboc, Analyst of the Bureau of Food and Drugs Administration (BFAD), testified on August 25, 1997. In the meantime, Articles 188 and 189 of the Revised Penal Code were amended by R.A. No. 8293, otherwise known as the Intellectual Property Code. Two years thereafter, Alfredo Lomboy, supervisor of Piakamasarap Corporation, testified on August 30, 1999. On December 12, 1999, the prosecution filed its formal offer of evidence. [14] In the meantime, on October 22, 1999, Atty. Joselito L. Lim had moved to withdraw his appearance as counsel for petitioners;[15] the court had granted the motion on October 25, 1999;[16] and the new counsel of petitioners, Balbastro and Associates, had entered its appearance on November 24, 1999.[17] On February 15, 2000, the court resolved to admit the documentary evidence of the prosecution except Exhibit E which was rejected by the court, and Exhibits I and J which were withdrawn.[18] The prosecution rested its case. On March 10, 2000, petitioners, through their new counsel, filed a Motion for Leave to File Demurrer to Evidence.[19] The court granted the motion. In their demurrer,[20]petitioners argued that a judgment of acquittal is proper since no sufficient evidence was presented to prove beyond reasonable doubt that they are guilty of the offense charged. The prosecution was not able to establish that they gave their goods the general appearance of another manufacturer or dealer and that they had the intent to defraud the public or Piakamasarap Corporation. Moreover, under both R.A. No. 166, as amended, and its repealing law, R.A. No. 8293, the RTC had jurisdiction over the crime charged; hence, the amended complaint should be quashed. The prosecution opposed the demurrer to evidence, contending that it had presented proof beyond reasonable doubt of the guilt of petitioners for the crime charged. The prosecution maintained that, under Batas Pambansa (B.P.) Blg. 129, the MTC had jurisdiction over the crime charged in the light of the imposable penalty for unfair competition under Article 189 of the Revised Penal Code.[21]

In its Resolution dated May 16, 2000,[22] the court held that there was prima facie evidence which, if unrebutted or not contradicted, would be sufficient to warrant the conviction of petitioners. However, the court ruled that the RTC was vested by law with the exclusive and original jurisdiction to try and decide charges for violation of R.A. No. 166 as amended by R.A. No. 8293. Accordingly, the court denied the demurrer to evidence and ordered the records of the case forwarded to the Office of the Provincial Prosecutor for appropriate action. The City Prosecutor forwarded the case records to the Clerk of Court of RTC, Br. 63, Tarlac City.[23] On June 19, 2000, the RTC ordered the City Prosecutor to conduct the requisite preliminary investigation and to file the necessary Information if he found probable cause against petitioners. The City Prosecutor found probable cause based on the findings of the MTC in its May 16, 2000 Resolution that there was a prima facie case against petitioners.[24] He filed an Information in the RTC on July 18, 2000 for violation of Article 189 of the Revised Penal Code.[25] The Information reads:
That on or about February 14, 1994 and sometime prior thereto, at Tarlac City, and within the jurisdiction of this Honorable Court, the accused, being the owner of a business establishment with principal address at Phase I, Northern Hills Subd., San Vicente, Tarlac City, the accused, conspiring, confederating and helping one another did then and there willfully, unlawfully and feloniously, in unfair competition with the intention of deceiving and defrauding the public in general and the PIAKAMASARAP CORPORATION, the name MARCA PIA, and sell or offer for sale soy sauce manufactured by them with the brand name Marca Pia, which is a version of the trademark, and using the bottles of Piakamasarap Corporation and substituted the contents thereof with those manufactured by the accused and passing to the public the products, thereby inducing the public to believe that the soy sauce sold or offered for sale by the accused are genuine MARCA PIA soy sauce, to the damage and prejudice of PIAKAMASARAP CORPORATION. CONTRARY TO LAW.[26]

Petitioners filed a Motion to Quash the Information,[27] alleging that their rights to due process and speedy trial had been violated. Other than the notice of hearing sent by the court, they never received a subpoena which required them to submit their evidence during a preliminary investigation. Petitioners further averred that certain delays in the trial are permissible, especially when such delays are due to uncontrollable circumstances or by accident. In this case, the inordinate delay was obviously brought by the lackadaisical attitude taken by the prosecutor in prosecuting the case. Petitioners pointed out that there was already a delay of six (6) long years from the time the initial complaint was filed, and that they had already been prejudiced. Their life, liberty and property, not to mention their reputation, have been at risk as there has been no determination of the issue of whether or not to indict them. Thus, the case should be dismissed in order to free them from further capricious and oppressive dilatory tactics of the prosecution. Indeed, their right to a speedy trial is part of due process, both of which are guaranteed by no less than the fundamental law itself. They insisted that they should not be made to unjustly await the prosecution of the charges against them.

In opposition, the City Prosecutor clarified that subpoenas were sent to the parties during the preliminary investigation. In fact, petitioner Henry Uy appeared and submitted the case for resolution without submitting additional evidence. Also, the proceedings in the MTC were not part of preliminary investigation but the trial on the merits.[28] On September 8, 2000, the court issued an Order denying the motion to quash.[29] The court ruled that:
While there must have been a protracted trial since the case was originally filed before the Municipal Trial Court, a period of about six (6) years, as the accused contends, nevertheless the delay if any, is partly attributable to the accused. [They] allowed the prosecution to rest the evidence in chief before raising the issue of lack of jurisdiction. Had the accused immediately raised the issue of lack of jurisdiction, this case could have been filed anew before the RTC. The accused allowed themselves to be arraigned without raising the issue of jurisdiction. In fact, the prosecution [had] rested its evidence in chief. The parties may[,] however[,] stipulate in the pre-trial that all the proceedings taken before the Municipal Trial Court are automatically reproduced and are considered part of the prosecution's evidence, so that the trial will now be with respect to the reception of defense evidence.[30]

Petitioners filed a motion for reconsideration of the Order[31] which the trial court denied.[32] At the same time, the court granted the oral motion of the prosecution to amend the Information to reflect in its caption that the law violated by the accused is R.A. No. 8293 and not Article 189 of the Revised Penal Code. On October 12, 2000, the City Prosecutor filed an amended Information. The inculpatory portion reads:
That on or about February 14, 1994 and sometimes prior thereto, at Tarlac City, and within the jurisdiction of this Honorable Court, the accused, being the owner of a business establishment with principal address at Phase I, Northern Hills Subd., San Vicente, Tarlac City, the accused, conspiring, confederating and helping one another did then and there willfully, unlawfully and feloniously, in Violation of Sec. 168 of R.A. No. 8293 with the intention of deceiving and defrauding the public in general and the PIAKAMASARAP CORPORATION, the name MARCA PIA, and sell or offer for sale soy sauce manufactured by them with the brand name Marca Pia, which is a version of the trademark, and using the bottles of Piakamasarap Corporation and substituted the contents thereof with those manufactured by the accused and passing to the public the products, thereby inducing the public to believe that the soy sauce sold or offered for sale by the accused are genuine MARCA PIA soy sauce, to the damage and prejudice of PIAKAMASARAP CORPORATION. CONTRARY TO LAW.[33]

Petitioners then filed before the CA a petition for certiorari with prayer for temporary restraining order and preliminary injunction,[34] on the sole ground that respondent judge committed grave abuse of discretion in denying their motion to quash based on violation of their right to a speedy trial. They claimed that there was no active effort on their part to delay the case as they merely attended the scheduled hearings and participated in the preliminary investigation. On the contrary, it is the prosecution that

has the unmitigated obligation to immediately file the Information with the proper court. The public prosecutor is supposedly knowledgeable of the existing laws and jurisprudence since his office has the delicate task of prosecuting cases in behalf of the State. Under the Rules on Criminal Procedure, he is the officer responsible for the direction and control of criminal prosecutions. In the case at bar, the public prosecutor failed in his bounden duty by neglecting to file the case in the court of competent jurisdiction. The prosecution could not advance a single reason to justify the procedural error and instead pointed its accusing finger to petitioners who are just ordinary citizens. Their failure to call the attention of the prosecution is neither acquiescence nor consent on their part. While their former lawyer was obviously lackluster in their defense, the act of the counsel should not deprive them of their constitutional right to a speedy trial. For petitioners, the prosecutions blunder in procedure and ignorance of existing laws and jurisprudence far outweigh whatever minimal participation, if any, they had in the protracted proceedings. On March 21, 2003, the CA dismissed the petition.[35] The fallo of the decision reads:
WHEREFORE, premises considered, the instant petition hereby DISMISSED for lack of merit. The Orders dated September 2000 and October 9, 2000 of the public respondent are herebyDISMISSED.[36] is 8,

In dismissing the petition, the appellate court ratiocinated that:


[T]he right to a speedy disposition of a case, like the right to speedy trial, is deemed violated only when the proceeding is attended by vexatious, capricious and oppressive delays (Castillo v. Sandiganbayan, 328 SCRA 69, 76); or when unjustified postponements of the trial are asked for and secured, or when without cause or justifiable motive a long period of time is allowed to elapse without the party having his case tried. (Binay v. Sandiganbayan, 316 SCRA 65, 93) In the instant case, aside from the fact that it took almost six years for the prosecution to complete the presentation of its evidence, petitioners failed to show that the delay, if ever there is any, was caused solely by the prosecution. Neither did the petitioners show that the proceedings before the Municipal Trial Court was attended by vexatious, capricious and oppressive delays attributable to the prosecution or that unjustified postponements of the trial were asked for and secured by the prosecution to the prejudice of the petitioners. The fact alone that the prosecution had consumed six (6) years to complete its presentation of evidence, without any allegation or proof that the prosecution has caused unreasonable delays or that the proceeding was attended by vexatious, capricious and oppressive delays, to Our minds is not sufficient for the application upon the petitioners of their Constitutional right to speedy trial. A mere mathematical reckoning of the time involved, therefore, would not be sufficient. In the application of the Constitutional guarantee of the right to speedy disposition of cases, particular regard must also be taken of the facts and circumstances peculiar to each case. (Binay v. Sandiganbayan, supra, p. 93). In the case at bar, petitioners failed to present, for Our perusal, the circumstances attending the trial of their case before the Municipal Trial Court. The only controversy of the instant case lies in the fact that the Municipal Trial Court which heard the case has no jurisdiction over the said case. While it may be conceded that the prosecution erred in not filing the information against the petitioners

to a proper court, still, petitioners are not blameless in this regard. Petitioners, through their counsel, had actively participated in the proceedings before the Municipal Trial Court. Petitioners had to wait for almost six (6) years to elapse before they brought to the attention of the Municipal Trial Court that it had no jurisdiction to hear the case against the petitioners. Petitioners have, by reason of their participation in the proceedings before the Municipal Trial Court and also by reason of their silence and inaction, allowed the Municipal Trial Court to proceed with a case for six (6) years despite absence of jurisdiction of such court to hear the case. We cannot allow the petitioners to reap from their acts or omissions. A litigation is not a game of technicalities in which one, more deeply schooled and skilled in the subtle art of movement and position, entraps and destroys the other. (Fortune Corporation v. Court of Appeals, 229 SCRA 355, 364) The constitutional privilege was never intended as furnishing a technical means for escaping trial. (Esguerra v. Court of First Instance of Manila, et al., 95 Phil. 609, 611-612) The right of an accused to a speedy trial is guaranteed to him by the Constitution, but the same shall not be utilized to deprive the State of a reasonable opportunity of fairly indicting criminals. It secures rights to an accused, but it does not preclude the rights of public justice. (Domingo v. Sandiganbayan, 322 SCRA 655, 667)[37]

Petitioners filed a motion for reconsideration, which the appellate court denied.[38] Petitioners sought relief from this Court on a petition for review, alleging that:
THE HONORABLE COURT OF APPEALS COMMITTED GRAVE ABUSE OF DISCRETION AMOUNTING TO LACK OR EXCESS OF JURISDICTION WHEN IT AFFIRMED THE COURT A QUOS DENIAL OF PETITIONERS MOTION TO QUASH, BASED ON VIOLATION OF THEIR RIGHT TO SPEEDY TRIAL (SEC. 16, ART. 3, 1987 CONSTITUTION).[39]

Petitioners reiterate their arguments in the CA to support the present petition. They aver that:
In this case, the prosecution took six (6) long and grueling years before it filed an Information with a competent court, despite the fact that jurisdiction of the Regional Trial Courts over trademark cases remained unchanged since the birth of the Trademark Law. Surely, this inordinate delay can be considered a vexatious, capricious and oppressive delay which is constitutionally impermissible in this jurisdiction pursuant to the right of the accused to speedy trial. Indeed, petitioners have been prejudiced. Their lives, liberty and property, not to mention their reputation have all been put at risk for so long. The public prosecutor failed to explain the reason for the delay. Truth to tell, even at this last stage, the public prosecutor chooses to remain silent why it had unjustifiably taken him too long to file this case before a competent court. Unfortunately, the Court of Appeals deliberately ignored this glaring flaw committed by the public prosecutor and instead focused on petitioners alleged negligence in not raising the issue of jurisdiction earlier. It further ruled that due to this fact, petitioners are thus not entirely blameless for the delay of the trial. Truth to tell, these findings of the Court of Appeals are palpably erroneous. Firstly, it is elementary that jurisdiction over the subject matter may be raised at any stage of the proceedings. This is because no amount of waiver can confer

jurisdiction on a court over an offense for which such jurisdiction has not been conferred by law in the first place.

Secondly, even assuming that petitioners failed to raise the issue of jurisdiction earlier, still, they could not be estopped from invoking their right to speedy trial. The delay to be considered partly attributable to the accused (which could work against him in invoking the right to speedy trial) presupposes an active effort of the defendant to delay the case (Manabat v. Timbang, 74 Phil. 295). There is no violation of the right to speedy trial where the delay is imputable to the accused (Solis v. Agloro, 63 SCRA 370). Here, it was the prosecution that had the unmitigated obligation to file the Information with the correct court, within a reasonable time. It did not. Such blunder was fatal to its cause. To emphasize, petitioners need not even call the attention of the prosecution that it had failed to file the case with the proper court, contrary to the opinion of the Court of Appeals. x x x[40] xxxx Although petitioners agree with the Court of Appeals that mere mathematical reckoning of time would not be sufficient for the application of the right to speedy trial, still, the public prosecutors blunder should already be considered vexatious, capricious and oppressive warranting the dismissal of the case. Indeed, to condone the public prosecutors manner of having directed this case, just like what the Court of Appeals did, might give rise to a disturbing precedent where the constitutional right of the accused could very well be set aside to justify the mishandling of the prosecution by officers of the State.[41]

Section 1(h), Rule 115 of the Revised Rules of Criminal Procedure provides that the accused is entitled to a speedy, impartial and public trial. Section 2, Rule 119 of the said Rules provides that trial, once commenced, shall be continuous until terminated:
Sec. 2. Continuous trial until terminated; postponements. Trial, once commenced, shall continue from day to day as far as practicable until terminated. It may be postponed for a reasonable period of time for good cause. The court shall, after consultation with the prosecutor and defense counsel, set the case for continuous trial on a weekly or other short-term trial calendar at the earliest possible time so as to ensure speedy trial. In no case shall the entire trial period exceed one hundred eighty (180) days from the first day of trial, except as otherwise authorized by the Supreme Court. The time limitations provided under this section and the preceding section shall not apply where special laws or circulars of the Supreme Court provide for a shorter period of trial.

However, any period of delay resulting from a continuance granted by the court motu proprio, or on motion of either the accused or his counsel, or the prosecution, if the court granted the continuance on the basis of its findings set forth in the order that the ends of justice is served by taking such action outweigh the best interest of the public and the accused on a speedy trial, shall be deducted. The trial court may grant continuance, taking into account the following factors:

(a) Whether or not the failure to grant a continuance in the proceeding would likely make a continuation of such proceeding impossible or result in a miscarriage of justice; and (b) Whether or not the case taken as a whole is so novel, unusual and complex, due to the number of accused or the nature of the prosecution, or that it is unreasonable to expect adequate preparation within the periods of time established therein. In addition, no continuance under section 3(f) of this Rule shall be granted because of congestion of the courts calendar or lack of diligent preparation or failure to obtain available witnesses on the part of the prosecutor.[42]

Under the Constitution and Section 1(7) of Rule 115 of the Revised Rules of Criminal Procedure, the accused shall be entitled to have a speedy and impartial trial. Speedy trial is a relative term and necessarily a flexible concept.[43] In determining whether the right of the accused to a speedy trial was violated, the delay should be considered, in view of the entirety of the proceedings.[44] Indeed, mere mathematical reckoning of the time involved would not suffice[45] as the realities of everyday life must be regarded in judicial proceedings which, after all, do not exist in a vacuum.[46] Apart from the constitutional provision and Section 115, Section 1(i) of the Rules of Criminal Procedure, A.O. No. 113-95 of the Court provides that:
The trial of cases for violation of Intellectual Property Rights covered by this Administrative Order shall be immediately commenced and shall continue from day to day to be terminated as far as practicable within sixty (60) days from initial trial. Judgment thereon shall be rendered within thirty (30) days from date of submission for decision.

More than a decade after the 1972 leading U.S. case of Barker v. Wingo[47] was promulgated, this Court, in Martin v. Ver,[48] began adopting the balancing test to determine whether a defendants right to a speedy trial has been violated. As this test necessarily compels the courts to approach speedy trial cases on an ad hoc basis, the conduct of both the prosecution and defendant are weighed apropos the four-fold factors, to wit: (1) length of the delay; (2) reason for the delay; (3) defendants assertion or non-assertion of his right; and (4) prejudice to defendant resulting from the delay.[49] None of these elements, however, is either a necessary or sufficient condition; they are related and must be considered together with other relevant circumstances. These factors have no talismanic qualities as courts must still engage in a difficult and sensitive balancing process.[50] A. Length of the Delay The length of delay is to some extent a triggering mechanism. Until there is some delay, which is presumptively prejudicial, there is no necessity to inquire into the other three factors. Nevertheless, due to the imprecision of the right to a speedy trial, the length of delay that will provoke such an inquiry is necessarily dependent upon the peculiar circumstances of the case.[51]

B. Reason for the Delay Under Section 9, Rule 119 of the Revised Rules of Criminal Procedure, the accused have the burden to prove the factual basis of the motion to quash the Information on the ground of denial of their right to a speedy trial. [52] They must demonstrate that the delay in the proceedings is vexatious, capricious, and oppressive; or is caused by unjustified postponements that were asked for and secured; or that without cause or justifiable motive, a long period of time is allowed to elapse without the case being tried.[53] On the other hand, the prosecution is required to present evidence establishing that the delay was reasonably attributed to the ordinary processes of justice, and that petitioners suffered no serious prejudice beyond that which ensued after an inevitable and ordinary delay.[54] The records bear out the contention of petitioners that there had been a considerable delay in the trial in the MTC. Upon motion/agreement of petitioners and the prosecution, or because of the joint absences, the trial of the case was delayed for more than 11 months.[55] In its own instance, the MTC also reset some of the trial dates in order to correct mistakes in scheduling or because the witnesses were not duly notified,[56] thus, delaying the trial of the case for an additional seven months. Even petitioners contributed to the delay of more than five months they or their former counsel were either absent or moved for postponements to attend another pending case or due to health concerns.[57] The delay of about 21 months, covering 15 re-settings, can be attributed to the prosecution. However, except in five instances, when the trial was reset because the private prosecutor had to attend to some professional[58] and personal matters,[59] the

delays were brought about because of the recent engagement of legal service,[60] absence of the public prosecutor,[61] and unavailability of documents[62] and witnesses.[63] Not only the petitioners but the State as well were prejudiced by the inordinate delay in the trial of the case. It took the prosecution more than four years to rest its case after presenting only three witnesses. Had the prosecution, petitioner and the trial court been assiduous in avoiding any inordinate delay in the trial, the prosecution could have rested its case much earlier. The court even failed to order the absent counsel/prosecutor/witnesses to explain/justify their absences or cite them for contempt. The speedy trial mandated by the Constitution and the Revised Rules of Criminal Procedure is as much the responsibility of the prosecution, the trial court and petitioners to the extent that the trial is inordinately delayed, and to that extent the interest of justice is prejudiced. The case before the RTC should not be dismissed simply because the public prosecution did not move for the dismissal of the case in the MTC based on A.O. No. 104-96 declaring that the RTC has exclusive jurisdiction over cases under Articles 188 and 189 of the Revised Penal Code; or for failure of the MTC to motu proprio dismiss the case on that ground. The City Prosecutor then believed in good faith, albeit erroneously, that under R.A. No. 7691 which amended B.P. Blg. 129, the MTC had jurisdiction over the crime charged. The mistake of the City Prosecutor and the failure of the MTC to dismiss the case motu proprio should not prejudice the interest of the State to prosecute criminal offenses and, more importantly, defeat the right of the offended party to redress for its grievance. Significantly, petitioners do not attribute to the prosecution or to the MTC any malice aforethought or conscious disregard of their right to a speedy trial; nor have substantially proven the same by clear and convincing evidence. Hence, absent showing of bad faith or gross negligence, delay caused by the lapse of the prosecution is not in itself violative of the right to a speedy trial. Different weights should be assigned to various reasons by which the prosecution justifies the delay. A deliberate attempt to delay the trial in order to hamper the defense should be weighed heavily against the prosecution. A more neutral reason such as negligence or overcrowded courts should be weighed less heavily but nevertheless should be considered since the ultimate responsibility for such circumstances must rest with the government rather than with defendant.[64] In Corpuz v. Sandiganbayan,[65] the Court had carefully balanced the societal interest in the case, which involved the so-called tax credit certificates scam, and the need to give substance to the defendants constitutional rights. In said suit, we upheld the decision of the Sandiganbayan (Special Fourth Division) that the dismissal of the cases was too drastic, precipitate and unwarranted. While the Court recognized that defendants were prejudiced by the delay in the reinvestigation of the cases and the submission of a complete report by the Ombudsman/Special Prosecutor to the Sandiganbayan, we underscored that the State should not be prejudiced and deprived of

its right to prosecute cases simply because of the ineptitude or nonchalance of the Ombudsman/Special Prosecutor. An overzealous or precipitate dismissal of a case may enable defendant, who may be guilty, to go free without having been tried, thereby infringing the societal interest in trying people accused of crimes by granting them immunization because of legal error.[66] The same observation was made in Valencia v. Sandiganbayan.[67] Here, the Court noted the haphazard manner by which the prosecutor handled the litigation for the State when he rested the case without adducing evidence for the prosecution and simply relying on the Joint Stipulation of Facts, which the accused did not even sign before its submission to the Sandiganbayan. In allowing the prosecution to present additional evidence and in dismissing the claim of the accused that his constitutional right to a speedy trial had been violated, we ruled:
As significant as the right of an accused to a speedy trial is the right of the State to prosecute people who violate its penal laws. The right to a speedy trial is deemed violated only when the proceeding is attended by vexatious, capricious and oppressive delays x x x [T]o erroneously put premium on the right to speedy trial in the instant case and deny the prosecutions prayer to adduce additional evidence would logically result in the dismissal of the case for the State. There is no difference between an order outrightly dismissing the case and an order allowing the eventual dismissal thereof. Both would set a dangerous precedent which enables the accused, who may be guilty, to go free without having been validly tried, thereby infringing the interest of the society.[68]

Certainly, the right to speedy trial cannot be invoked where to sustain the same would result in a clear denial of due process to the prosecution. It should not operate in depriving the State of its inherent prerogative to prosecute criminal cases or generally in seeing to it that all those who approach the bar of justice is afforded fair opportunity to present their side.[69] For it is not only the State; more so, the offended party who is entitled to due process in criminal cases.[70] In essence, the right to a speedy trial does not preclude the peoples equally important right to public justice.[71] Thus, as succinctly decreed in State v. McTague:[72]

The constitutional and statutory provisions for a speedy trial are for the protection of the defendant, but that does not mean that the state is the only one that may initiate action. There is really no reason for the courts to free an accused simply because a dilatory prosecutor has gone to sleep at the switch while the defendant and his counsel rest in silence. These solicitous provisions are not to be used as offensive weapons, but are for the benefit of defendants who claim their protection. They are a shield, and they must not be left hanging on the wall of the armory. It is for the protection of personal rights, not to embarrass the administration of the criminal law nor to defeat public justice.

Be that as it may, the conduct of the City Prosecutor and the MTC must not pass without admonition. This Court must emphasize that the State, through the court and the public prosecutor, has the absolute duty to insure that the criminal justice system is consistent with due process and the constitutional rights of the accused. Society has a particular interest in bringing swift prosecutions, and the societys representatives are the ones who should protect that interest. The trial court and the prosecution are not without responsibility for the expeditious trial of criminal cases. The burden for trial promptness is not solely upon the defense. The right to a speedy trial is constitutionally guaranteed and, as such, is not to be honored only for the vigilant and the knowledgeable.[73] C. Petitioners Assertion of the Right The assertion of the right to a speedy trial is entitled to strong evidentiary weight in determining whether defendant is being deprived thereof. Failure to claim the right will make it difficult to prove that there was a denial of a speedy trial.[74] Except in only one instance in this case,[75] the records are bereft of any evidence that petitioners, through counsel, have bothered to raise their objection to the several resetting of the trial dates. This is not unexpected since, as already shown, the reasons for the delay are not in themselves

totally inexcusable or unreasonable. Moreover, petitioners actively participated in the trial when the prosecution presented its evidence, as they scrutinized the documentary evidence and cross-examined the witnesses. Until the filing of the motion to quash in the RTC, they never contested the prosecutorial proceedings nor timely challenged the pendency of the case in the MTC. While it is true that lack of jurisdiction may be assailed at any stage of the proceedings, such defense must be seasonably raised at the earliest possible opportunity. Otherwise, active participation in the trial would estop a party from later challenging such want of jurisdiction.[76] In the same vein, ones failure to timely question the delay in the trial of a case would be an implied acceptance of such delay and a waiver of the right to question the same. Except when otherwise expressly so provided, the speedy trial right, like any other right conferred by the Constitution or statute, may be waived when not positively asserted.[77] A partys silence may amount to laches.[78] The right to a speedy trial is a privilege of the accused. If he does not claim it, he should not complain. R.A. No. 8493 (Speedy Trial Act of 1998) is a means of enforcing Section 14(2), Article III of the Constitution.[79] The spirit of the law is that the accused must go on record in the attitude of demanding a trial or resisting delay. If he does not do this, he must be held, in law, to have waived the privilege. This Court cannot subscribe to petitioners untiring argument that, being ordinary citizens, they should not be made to suffer from the lackluster performance of their former counsel who failed to recognize the MTCs want of jurisdiction. Too often we have held that a client is bound by the acts, mistakes or negligence of his counsel.[80] This is, as it should be, since a counsel has the implied authority to do all acts which are necessary or, at least, incidental to the prosecution and management of the suit in behalf of his client. Any act performed within the scope of his general and implied authority is, in the eyes of the law, regarded as the act of the client. [81] If the rule were otherwise, there would be no end to litigation so long as a new counsel could be employed who would allege and show that the prior counsel had not been sufficiently diligent, experienced, or learned.[82] It would enable every party to render inutile an adverse order or decision through the simple expedient of alleging gross negligence on the part of the counsel.[83] Every shortcoming of a counsel could be the subject of challenge by his client through another counsel who, if he is also found wanting, would likewise be disowned by the same client through another counsel, and so on ad infinitum.[84] Proceedings would then be indefinite, tentative and at times, subject to reopening by the simple subterfuge of replacing counsel.[85] While the rule admits of certain exceptions,[86] we find none present in this case. Other than his obvious failure to assert lack of jurisdiction, Atty. Lim undeniably represented the cause of his clients in the MTC proceedings. Interestingly, their new counsel, wittingly or unwittingly, raised the issue of jurisdiction only four months after it entered its appearance,[87] thus, adding to the delay.

D. Prejudice to the Petitioners In the Barker case,[88] the different interests of a defendant which may be affected by the violation of the right to a speedy trial were identified. It was held that prejudice should be assessed in the light of the interests of a defendant which the speedy trial right was designed to protect, namely: (1) to prevent oppressive pretrial incarceration; (2) to minimize anxiety and concern of the accused; and (3) to limit the possibility that the defense will be impaired. Of these, the most serious is the last, because the inability of a defendant to adequately prepare his case skews the fairness of the entire system. If witnesses die or disappear during a delay, the prejudice is obvious. There is also prejudice if defense witnesses are unable to recall accurately events of the distant past. Loss of memory, however, is not always reflected in the record because what has been forgotten can rarely be shown. Even if an accused is not incarcerated prior to trial, he is still disadvantaged by restraints on his liberty and by living under a cloud of anxiety, suspicion, and often hostility.[89] After all, arrest is a public act that may seriously interfere with the defendants liberty, whether he is free on bail or not, and that may disrupt his employment, drain his financial resources, curtail his associations, subject him to public obloquy, and create anxiety in him, his family and friends.[90] Again, a perusal of the records failed to reveal that the delay in bringing petitioners to trial in a court of competent jurisdiction caused them any prejudice tantamount to deprivation of their right to a speedy trial. Petitioners in this case were not subjected to pretrial incarceration, oppressive or otherwise, thus eliminating the first Barkerconsideration bearing on prejudice. As to the minimization of anxiety and concern of the accused, there is no showing that petitioners suffered undue pressures in this respect. Mere reference to a general asseveration that their life, liberty and property, not to mention reputation have been prejudiced is not enough. There must be conclusive factual basis, as this Court cannot rely on pure speculation or guesswork. Surely, a pending criminal case may cause trepidation but, as stressed in Barker, the standard here is minimization, not necessarily elimination of the natural consequences of an indictment. While this is not to be brushed off lightly, it is not by itself sufficient to support a claim of denial of the right to a speedy trial. There is no factual basis for the claim of petitioners that we are not supplied with any specific allegation in the record, nor witnesses or evidence may become unavailable because of the delays in this case. To repeat, the claim of impairment of defense because of delay must be specific and not by mere conjecture. Vague assertions of faded memory will not suffice. Failure to claim that particular evidence had been lost or had disappeared defeats speedy trial claim. As neither the specific types of prejudice mentioned in Barker nor any others have been brought to the Courts attention, we are constrained to dismiss petitioners claim. The passage of time alone, without a significant deprivation of liberty or

impairment of the ability to properly defend oneself, is not absolute evidence of prejudice. The right to a speedy trial is not primarily intended to prevent prejudice to the defense caused by the passage of time; that interest is protected primarily by the due process clause and the statutes of limitations.[91] In several cases where it is manifest that due process of law or other rights guaranteed by the Constitution or statutes has been denied, this Court has not faltered to accord the so-called radical relief to keep accused from enduring the rigors and expense of a full-blown trial.[92] In this case, however, there appears no persuasive, much less compelling, ground to allow the same relief for absence of clear and convincing showing that the delay was unreasonable or arbitrary and was seasonably objected to by petitioners. IN LIGHT OF ALL THE FOREGOING, the instant petition is DENIED for lack of merit. The March 21, 2003 Decision and July 17, 2003 Resolution of the Court of Appeals are AFFIRMED. The Regional Trial Court, Branch 64, Tarlac City, is directed to proceed with the trial on the merits of the criminal case with all reasonable and judicious dispatch consistent with the right of petitioners to a speedy trial. No costs. SO ORDERED.

ROMEO J. CALLEJO, SR. Associate Justice

WE CONCUR:

ARTEMIO V. PANGANIBAN Chief Justice Chairperson

CONSUELO YNARES-SANTIAGO Associate Justice

MA. ALICIA AUSTRIA-MARTINEZ Associate Justice

MINITA V. CHICO-NAZARIO Associate Justice

CERTIFICATION Pursuant to Section 13, Article VIII of the Constitution, it is hereby certified that the conclusions in the above Decision were reached in consultation before the case was assigned to the writer of the opinion of the Courts Division.

ARTEMIO V. PANGANIBAN Chief Justice

[1]

Penned by Associate Justice B.A. Adefuin-De la Cruz (retired), with Associate Justices Mercedes Gozo-Dadole (retired) and Mariano C. Del Castillo, concurring; rollo, pp. 20-24. [2] Penned by Judge Arsenio P. Adriano. [3] Records, p. 57. [4] Id. at 57-58. [5] Id. at 3. [6] Id. at 1-30. [7] Id. at 45-47. [8] Id. at 46. [9] Id. at 165. [10] Id. at 169. [11] Id. at 171, 173. [12] Id. at 178, 184, 186. [13] Id. at 192. [14] Id. at 440-442. [15] Id. at 420-421. [16] Id. at 422. [17] Id. at 430-431. [18] Id. at 495-496. [19] Id. at 499-501. [20] Id. at 502-512. [21] Id. at 515-531. [22] Id. at 553-555. [23] Id. at 556. [24] Id. at 565. [25] Id. at 559-560. [26] Id. at 559. [27] Id. at 567-573. [28] Id. at 574-575. [29] Id. at 579-580. [30] Id. at 580. [31] Id. at 581-586. [32] Id. at 601-603. [33] Id. at 605-606. [34] CA rollo, pp. 2-22. [35] Rollo, pp. 20-24. [36] Id. at 23. [37] Id. at 22-23. [38] Id. at 25. [39] Id. at 10. [40] Id. at 12-13. [41] Id. at 14-15. [42] Section 4, Rule 119, Revised Rules of Criminal Procedure. [43] Lumanlaw v. Hon. Peralta, Jr., G.R. No. 164953, February 13, 2006, 482 SCRA 396, 409; Caballes v. Court of Appeals, G.R. No. 163108, February 23, 2005, 452 SCRA 312, 332; People v. Tee, 443 Phil. 521, 544 (2003); Zuzuarregui, Jr. v. Judge Rosete,431 Phil. 585, 596 (2002); Lopez, Jr. v. Office of the Ombudsman, 417 Phil. 39, 50 (2001); Abardo v. Sandiganbayan, G.R. Nos. 139571-72, March 28, 2001, 355 SCRA 641, 654; and Dansal v. Hon. Fernandez, Sr., 383 Phil. 897, 906 (2000). [44] People v. Rama, 403 Phil. 155, 168 (2001).

[45]

Lumanlaw v. Hon. Peralta, Jr., supra, at 409-410; Domondon v. Sandiganbayan, G.R. No. 166606, November 29, 2005, 476 SCRA 496, 505; People v. Tee, supra; Zuzuarregui, Jr. v. Judge Rosete, supra; Ty-Dazo v. Sandiganbayan, 424 Phil. 945, 951 (2002); Sumbang, Jr. v. Gen. Court Martial Pro-Region 6, Iloilo City, 391 Phil 929, 934 (2000); and Dansal v. Hon. Fernandez, Sr., supra, at 908. [46] Lumanlaw v. Hon. Peralta, Jr., supra, at 409. [47] 407 US 514, 92 S.Ct. 2182 (1972). [48] No. L-62810, July 25, 1983, 123 SCRA 745. [49] See Lumanlaw v. Hon. Peralta, Jr., supra, at 410; Yuchenco v. Sandiganbayan, G.R. Nos. 149802, 150320, 150367, 153207, and 153459, January 20, 2006, 479 SCRA 1, 124-125; Domondon v. Sandiganbayan, supra, at 505; Caballes v. Court of Appeals, supra, at 332; Corpuz v. Sandiganbayan, G.R. No. 162214, November 11, 2004, 442 SCRA 294, 313; People v. Tee, supra, at 544; Ty-Dazo v. Sandiganbayan, supra, at 951; Lopez, Jr. v. Office of the Ombudsman, supra, at 49-50; Abardo v. Sandiganbayan, supra, at 654; Blanco v. Sandiganbayan, 399 Phil. 674, 682 (2000); Sumbang, Jr. v. Gen. Court Martial Pro-Region 6, Iloilo City, supra, at 935; and Dansal v. Hon. Fernandez, Sr., supra, at 906. [50] Barker v. Wingo, supra. [51] Barker v. Wingo, supra; see also Guiani v. Sandiganbayan, 435 Phil. 467, 480 (2002), and Sumbang, Jr. v. Gen. Court Martial Pro-Region 6, Iloilo City, supra, at 934. [52] Corpuz v. Sandiganbayan, supra, at 318. [53] Lumanlaw v. Hon. Peralta, Jr., supra, at 410; Domondon v. Sandiganbayan, supra, at 505; People v. Tee, supra, at 544545; Ty-Dazo v. Sandiganbayan, supra, at 950-951; Lopez, Jr. v. Office of the Ombudsman, supra, at 49; Abardo v. Sandiganbayan, supra, at 653-654; Blanco v. Sandiganbayan, supra, at 682; Sr. Arambulo v. Hon. Laqui, 396 Phil. 914, 927-928 (2000); and Sumbang, Jr. v. Gen. Court Martial Pro-Region 6, Iloilo City, supra, at 935. [54] Corpuz v. Sandiganbayan, supra note 54. [55] The trial was reset from August 28, 1995 to October 25, 1995 (records, p. 188); from April 15, 1996 to May 20, 1996 (id. at 218); from August 27, 1996 to September 30, 1996 (id. at 225); from September 30, 1996 to November 12, 1996 (id. at 230); from November 12, 1996 to January 15, 1996 (id. at 234); from July 28, 1997 to August 25, 1997 (id. at 253); and from August 12, 1998 to October 14, 1998 (id. at 350). [56] The trial was reset from November 27, 1995 to January 22, 1996 (records, p. 198); from January 15, 1997 to March 24, 1997 (id. at 228); from May 12, 1997 to June 9, 1997 (id. at 245); and from February 25, 1998 to April 22, 1998 (id. at 304). [57] The trial was reset from September 20, 1994 to October 11, 1994 (records, p. 34); from November 26, 1997 to January 21, 1998 (id. at 296); and from June 14, 1999 to August 30, 1999 (id. at 379). [58] The trial was reset from October 11, 1994 to November 15, 1994 (records, pp. 41-43); from December 20, 1994 to January 9, 1995 (id. at 145-149); from May 17, 1995 to June 10, 1995 (id. at 179-183); and from April 5, 1999 to June 14, 1999 (id. at 367, 372-375). [59] The trial was reset from January 22, 1996 to February 26, 1996 (records, pp. 201-203). [60] The trial was reset from September 20, 1994 to October 11, 1994 to November 15, 1994 (records, pp. 35-36, 43) [61] The trial was reset from February 17, 1999 to April 5, 1999 (records, p. 363). [62] The trial was reset from March 24, 1997 to May 12, 1997 (records, p. 243). [63] The trial was reset from May 20, 1996 to July 8, 1996 (records, p. 221); from July 8, 1996 to August 27, 1996 (id. at 223); from January 21, 1998 to February 25, 1998 (id. at 301); from July 1, 1998 to August 12, 1998 (id. at 346); from October 14, 1998 to December 14, 1998 (id. at 354); from December 14, 1998 to February 17, 1999 (id. at 359); and from October 11, 1999 to November 15, 1999 (id. at 417). [64] Barker v. Wingo, supra note 52. [65] Supra note 51. [66] Id. at 322. [67] G.R. No. 165996, October 17, 2005, 473 SCRA 279. [68] Id. at 295-296. [69] See Dansal v. Judge Fernandez, Sr., supra note 45, at 907. [70] Valencia v. Sandiganbayan, supra note 69, at 294-295. [71] Corpuz v. Sandiganbayan, supra note 54, at 313; Guiani v. Sandiganbayan, 435 Phil. 467, 480 (2002); Abardo v. Sandiganbayan, G.R. Nos. 139571-72, March 28, 2001, 355 SCRA 641, 653; People v. Rama, 403 Phil. 155, 168 (2001); and Sumbang, Jr. v. Gen. Court Martial Pro-Region 6, Iloilo City, 391 Phil. 929, 936-937 (2000). [72] 173 Minn. 153, 216 N.W. 787 (1927); see also McCandless v. District Court of Polk County, 245 Iowa 599, 61 N.W.2d 674 (1953). [73] See Corpuz v. Sandiganbayan, supra note 54, at 321; Barker v. Wingo, supra note 52. [74] Barker v. Wingo, supra note 52. [75] Records, p. 359. [76] See Ballesteros v. Abion, G.R. No. 143361, February 9, 2006, 482 SCRA 23, 39, and LaO v. Republic, G.R. No. 160719, January 23, 2006, 479 SCRA 439, 446. [77] Valencia v. Sandiganbayan, supra, at 299; Guiani v. Sandiganbayan, supra, at 480; and Sumbang, Jr. v. Gen. Court Martial Pro-Region 6, Iloilo City, supra, at 936. [78] Valencia v. Sandiganbayan, supra, at 298, citing Dela Pea v. Sandiganbayan, 412 Phil. 921, 932 (2001). [79] Article III, Section 14 (2) of the Constitution states: Section 14. x x x (2) 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 in unjustifiable. (emphasis ours) [80] Basuel v. Fact-Finding and Intelligence Bureau (FFIB), G.R. No. 143664, June 30, 1996; Callangan v. People, G.R. No. 153414, June 27, 2006; Tan v. Court of Appeals, G.R. No. 157194, June 20, 2006; Friend v. Union Bank of

the Philippines, G.R. No. 165767, November 29, 2005, 476 SCRA 453, 457; GCP-Manny Transport Services, Inc. v. Hon. Principe, G.R. No. 141484, November 11, 2005, 474 SCRA 555, 562; R Transport Corporation v. Philippine Hawk Transport Corporation, G.R. No. 155737, October 19, 2005, 473 SCRA 342, 347; Spouses Que v. Court of Appeals, G.R. No. 150739, August 18, 2005, 467 SCRA 358, 369; Spouses Ragudo v. Fabella Estate Tenants Association, Inc. , G.R. No. 146823, August 9, 2005, 466 SCRA 136, 145; Spouses Zarate v. Maybank Philippines, Inc., G.R. No. 160976, June 8, 2005, 459 SCRA 785, 797; Palanca v. Guides, G.R. No. 146365, February 28, 2005, 452 SCRA 461, 473; and Southech Development Corp. v. NLRC, G.R. No. 149590, January 12, 2005, 448 SCRA 64, 70. [81] Basuel v. Fact-Finding and Intelligence Bureau (FFIB), supra; Spouses Ragudo v. Fabella Estate Tenants Association, Inc., supra, 146; Victory Liner, Inc. v. Gammad, G.R. No. 159636, November 25, 2004, 444 SCRA 355, 361; and Air Philippines Corp. v. International Business Aviation Services Phils., Inc. , G.R. No. 151963, September 9, 2004, 438 SCRA 51, 61. [82] Basuel v. Fact-Finding and Intelligence Bureau (FFIB), supra; Tan v. Court of Appeals, G.R. No. 157194, June 20, 2006; Friend v. Union Bank of the Philippines, supra, at 457; GCP-Manny Transport Services, Inc. v. Hon. Principe , supra, at 562;Spouses Ragudo v. Fabella Estate Tenants Association, Inc. , supra, at 145; Balgami v. Court of Appeals, G.R. No. 131287, December 9, 2004, 445 SCRA 591, 600; and Gacutana-Fraile v. Domingo, 401 Phil. 604, 615. [83] Friend v. Union Bank of the Philippines, supra, at 457-458. [84] Spouses Ragudo v. Fabella Estate Tenants Association, Inc., supra, at 146. [85] Spouses Ragudo v. Fabella Estate Tenants Association, Inc. , supra, at 146-147; Spouses Que v. Court of Appeals, supra. [86] Among the recognized exceptions are: (1) where the gross, palpable, reckless and inexcusable negligence of counsel deprives the client of due process of law; (2) when its application will result in outright deprivation of the client's liberty or property through mere technicality; or (3) where the interests of justice so require (See Callangan v. People, G.R. No. 153414, June 27, 2006; Friend v. Union Bank of the Philippines, G.R. No. 165767, November 29, 2005, 476 SCRA 453, 457; GCP-Manny Transport Services, Inc. v. Hon. Principe , G.R. No. 141484, November 11, 2005, 474 SCRA 555, 562563; R Transport Corporation v. Philippine Hawk Transport Corporation, G.R. No. 155737, October 19, 2005, 473 SCRA 342, 347; Spouses Que v. Court of Appeals, G.R. No. 150739, August 18, 2005, 467 SCRA 358, 369; Southech Development Corp. v. NLRC, G.R. No. 149590, January 12, 2005, 448 SCRA 64, 70; Victory Liner, Inc. v. Gammad, G.R. No. 159636, November 25, 2004, 444 SCRA 355, 361; Azucena v. Foreign Manpower Services, Inc., G.R. No. 147955, October 25, 2004, 441 SCRA 346, 356; Air Philippines Corp. v. International Business Aviation Services Phils., Inc., G.R. No. 151963, September 9, 2004, 438 SCRA 51, 62; Sarraga v. Banco Filipino Savings and Mortgage Bank , 442 Phil. 55, 64; Del Mar v. Court of Appeals, 429 Phil. 19, 28-29; and Gacutana-Fraile v. Domingo, 401 Phil. 604, 615. [87] Balbastro and Associates entered its appearance on November 24, 1999. The Motion for Leave to File Demurrer to Evidence was filed on March 10, 2000. [88] Supra note 49. [89] Corpuz v. Sandiganbayan, supra note 51, at 313, citing Barker v. Wingo, supra note 49. [90] US v. Marion, 404 US 307, 92 S.Ct. 455 (1971). [91] U.S. v. Colombo, 852 F.2d 19 (1988), citing US v. MacDonald, 456 US 1, 102 S.Ct. 1497 (1982). [92] See Mendoza-Ong v. Sandiganbayan, G.R. Nos. 146368-69, October 18, 2004, 440 SCRA 423; Dimayacyac v. Court of Appeals, G.R. No. 136264, May 28, 2004, 430 SCRA 121; Dela Pea v. Sandiganbayan, 412 Phil. 921 (2001); Dansal v. Hon. Fernandez, Sr., supra, at 908; Duterte v. Sandiganbayan, 352 Phil. 557 (1998); and Tatad v. Sandiganbayan, G.R. Nos. L-72335-39, March 21, 1998, 159 SCRA 70.