You are on page 1of 5

Republic of the Philippines

SUPREME COURT
Manila
THIRD DIVISION
G.R. No. 177583 February 27, 2009
LOURES !"LT"#"R a$% E&SON !"LT"#"R, Petitioners,
vs.
'"&ME C(U" y &!"RR", Respondent.
D ! I S I O N
C(&CO)N"#"R&O, J.:
This Petition for Revie" on !ertiorari under Rule #$ of the Rules of !ourt assails the
Decision
%
of the !ourt of &ppeals in !&'(.R. SP No. )*+,%, "hich annulled the ,
Dece-ber *..# Order
*
of the Re/ional Trial !ourt 0RT!1 of Manila, 2ranch 3,,
directin/ the filin/ of Infor-ations for Murder and 4rustrated Murder a/ainst 5ai-e
!hua 05ai-e1 and 5ovito &r-as, 5r. 05ovito1.
5ai-e and 5ovito "ere char/ed before the RT! Manila, 2ranch *, "ith the cri-es of
ho-icide and frustrated ho-icide for the death of Ildefonso 2alta6ar and the
"oundin/ of dison 2alta6ar. The cases, "hich "ere doc7eted as !ri-inal !ases
No. ),'%$#)++ and No. ),'%$#)+,, "ere presided b8 5ud/e d/ardo P. !ru6 05ud/e
!ru61.
3
On %3 4ebruar8 %)),, petitioners 9ourdes 2alta6ar 09ourdes1 and dison 2alta6ar
0dison1, throu/h counsel, filed a -otion for reinvesti/ation of the cases, pra8in/ that
5ai-e and 5ovito be char/ed "ith the cri-es of -urder and frustrated -urder,
instead of ho-icide and frustrated ho-icide.
In a Resolution dated * 5ul8 %)),, the !it8 Prosecutor:s Office, upon reinvesti/ation,
found that the appropriate char/es a/ainst 5ai-e and 5ovito "ere -urder and
frustrated -urder. ;ith this, the !it8 Prosecutor filed a -otion for ad-ission of
a-ended Infor-ations for Murder and 4rustrated Murder, "hich "as /ranted b8
5ud/e !ru6 in an Order dated ) Septe-ber %)),.
5ai-e and 5ovito appealed the * 5ul8 %)), Resolution of the !it8 Prosecutor to the
Depart-ent of 5ustice 0DO51.
The Secretar8 of the DO5 0Secretar8 of 5ustice1, in his Resolution dated *. October
%)),, -odified the * 5ul8 %)), resolution of the !it8 Prosecutor b8 directin/ the latter
to a-end the Infor-ations for Murder and 4rustrated Murder to Ho-icide and
4rustrated Ho-icide a/ainst 5ovito and to drop 5ai-e fro- the char/es. On %3
Nove-ber %)),, 9ourdes and dison filed a -otion for reconsideration of the *.
October %)), Resolution of the Secretar8 of 5ustice, "hich "as denied b8 the latter
on %$ Dece-ber %)),.
Mean"hile, on %% Nove-ber %)),, in obedience to the directive of the Secretar8 of
the DO5, the !it8 Prosecutor filed "ith the RT! a Manifestation and Motion for the
;ithdra"al of the Infor-ations for Murder and 4rustrated Murder and for the
&d-ission of Ne" Infor-ations for Ho-icide and 4rustrated Ho-icide.
Over the ob<ections of 9ourdes and dison, 5ud/e !ru6 /ranted the said
-anifestation and -otion in an Order dated %= Nove-ber %)),, thereb8 leavin/
5ovito as the lone accused. The Order partl8 provides>
Havin/ been presented prior to arrai/n-ent, the -otion for "ithdra"al of the
infor-ation for -urder and frustrated -urder is /ranted pursuant to Sec. %#, Rule
%%. of the Revised Rules of !ourt. !onse?uentl8, the a-ended infor-ation for
-urder and frustrated -urder in !ri-. !ases Nos. ),'%$#)++ and ),'%$#)+,,
respectivel8, are considered "ithdra"n.
#
@nconvinced of the correctness of the dis-issal of the char/es a/ainst 5ai-e and
the do"n/radin/ of the char/es a/ainst 5ovito, 9ourdes and dison -oved for a
reconsideration. The8 as7ed the RT! to -aintain the infor-ations for -urder and
frustrated -urder a/ainst 5ovito and 5ai-e and as7ed the RT! to deter-ine the
eAistence of probable cause for these char/es, pursuant to the rulin/ in !respo v.
Mo/ul,
$
"hich ruled that once an infor-ation is filed in court, the disposition of said
case lies in the discretion of the trial court.
In the -eanti-e, the cases "ere re'raffled to 2ranch 3, of the Manila RT! presided
over b8 5ud/e Vicente &. Hidal/o 05ud/e Hidal/o1 and doc7eted as !ri-inal !ases
No. ),'%+%%+= and No. ),'%+%%+).
Despite the transfer of the cases to the sala of 5ud/e Hidal/o, 5ud/e !ru6,
nonetheless, acted on 9ourdes and dison:s -otion for reconsideration of the Order
dated %= Nove-ber %)),. In his order dated %+ 4ebruar8 %))=, 5ud/e !ru6 denied
the said -otion on the /round that the proper -otion to a-end the infor-ations for
ho-icide and frustrated ho-icide to -urder and frustrated -urder should be filed
before 2ranch 3,, presided b8 5ud/e Hidal/o, "here said cases "ere transferredB
and that the a-end-ent of infor-ations "as a -atter of ri/ht of the prosecution
before arrai/n-ent, thus>
CTDhe !ourt is in no position to favorabl8 act on the instant -otion. If, indeed, there is
probable cause for indictin/ both accused for the cri-es of -urder and frustrated
-urder, the appropriate -otion 0e./. a-end-ent of the infor-ation1 should be filed in
!ri-inal !ases Nos. ),'%+%%+= and ),'%+%%+) and not in these cases. To rule
1
other"ise "ould sanction -ultiple char/es 0-urder and ho-icideB and frustrated
-urder and frustrated ho-icide1 for a sin/le offense, thereb8 places accused in
double <eopard8 A A A.
+
0-phasis supplied.1
On # March %))=, 9ourdes and dison filed before 5ud/e !ru6 a Motion to Maintain
the &-ended Infor-ations for Murder and 4rustrated Murder. This -otion -ainl8
reiterates 9ourdes and dison:s ob<ection to the dis-issal of the char/es a/ainst
5ai-e and the do"n/radin/ of the char/es a/ainst 5ovito.
On % &pril %))=, 5ud/e !ru6 denied the fore/oin/ -otion on the /round that the
sa-e "as, in effect, a second -otion for reconsideration of the Order dated %=
Nove-ber %)),, and that to act on the said -otion "ould interfere "ith the
prero/ative of 5ud/e Hidal/o of RT! 2ranch 3,, "here the cases "ere transferred.
The % &pril %))= Order partl8 reads>
CTDhis branch cannot act on the -otion to dis-iss or consider "ithdra"n the
infor-ations for ho-icide and frustrated ho-icide, other"ise, it "ould be interferin/
"ith the prero/atives of the other branch of this !ourt "here those cri-inal actions
are pendin/.
,
On 3. &pril %))=, 9ourdes and dison filed this ti-e before 5ud/e Hidal/o a Motion
for the &-end-ent of the Infor-ations for Ho-icide and 4rustrated Ho-icide, "hich
actuall8 contained ar/u-ents identical "ith those in the Motion to Maintain the
&-ended Infor-ations for Murder and 4rustrated Murder filed b8 the- on # March
%))=B i.e., that the RT! should assert its authorit8 over said cases, independentl8 of
the opinion of the Secretar8 of 5ustice, and -a7e its o"n assess-ent "hether there
is sufficient evidence to hold both 5ai-e and 5ovito liable for the cri-e of -urder and
frustrated -urder.
In an Order dated , Dece-ber *..#, 5ud/e Hidal/o, after -a7in/ his o"n
assess-ent of the docu-ents presented b8 both the prosecution and the defense,
/ranted the -otion and ordered the reinstate-ent of the infor-ations for -urder and
frustrated -urder. The decretal portion of the Order reads>
;HR4OR, in vie" of the fore/oin/, the Infor-ations for Ho-icide and
4rustrated Ho-icide are considered "ithdra"n and the !ourt hereb8 orders the
reinstate-ent of the Infor-ations for -urder and frustrated -urder A A A.
=
On *+ &pril *..$, 5ai-e and 5ovito filed a -otion for reconsideration. The8 ar/ued
that the RT! had no authorit8 to -a7e its o"n independent findin/s of facts to
deter-ine probable cause a/ainst the-, apart fro- the findin/s -ade b8 the
Secretar8 of 5ustice. 5ud/e Hidal/o denied the said -otion, opinin/ that the RT! had
the po"er and dut8 to -a7e an evaluation to deter-ine the eAistence of probable
cause for the char/es, independent of the opinion of the Secretar8 of 5ustice. The
dispositive part of the Order provides>
&ccordin/l8, the Motion for Reconsideration filed b8 the accused is hereb8 DNID
for lac7 of basis A A A. &sst. !it8 Prosecutor Ronaldo Hubilla is hereb8 directed "ithin
%. da8s fro- receipt hereof to file a-ended Infor-ations for Murder and 4rustrated
Murder a/ainst 5ovito &r-as, 5r. and 5ai-e !hua, respectivel8.
)
5ai-e then filed a petition for certiorari and prohibition "ith the !ourt of &ppeals.
&/ain, 5ai-e contended that 5ud/e Hidal/o had no authorit8 to order the
a-end-ent of the infor-ations and to include hi- as co'accused, since such po"ers
and prero/atives revolved eAclusivel8 on the Depart-ent of 5ustice and the !it8
Prosecutor.
In a Decision dated *# 5anuar8 *..,, the !ourt of &ppeals /ranted 5ai-es: petition
and nullified the , Dece-ber *..# Order of 5ud/e Hidal/o, rulin/ that the sa-e "ere
issued in /rave abuse of discretion a-ountin/ to eAcess of <urisdiction. In nullif8in/
5ud/e Hidal/o:s Order, the !ourt of &ppeals held that !respo "as not applicable to
the instant case, since 5ud/e Hidal/o, unli7e in the !respo case, "as not confronted
"ith a -otion to dis-iss or tas7ed to convict or to ac?uit an accused. It -aintained
that the trial court could onl8 eAercise its sound discretion on "hat to do "ith cases
filed before it in line "ith !respo, "hen there "as a pleadin/ callin/ for the dis-issal,
conviction or ac?uittal of the accused. Since 9ourdes and dison:s Motion for the
&-end-ent of the Infor-ations for Ho-icide and 4rustrated Ho-icide filed on 3.
&pril %))= "as not a -otion to dis-iss nor one ai-ed at convictin/ or ac?uittin/ the
accused, then !respo found no relevance.
The !ourt of &ppeals li7e"ise stressed that the , Dece-ber *..# Order of 5ud/e
Hidal/o "as a patent nullit8 since it revived the earlier %= Nove-ber %)), Order of
5ud/e !ru6 "ithdra"in/ the char/es a/ainst 5ai-e, "hich had alread8 attained
finalit8 on + October %))=.
&//rieved, 9ourdes and dison filed the instant petition.
;e /rant the petition.
The basic issue at hand is "hether 5ud/e Hidal/o -a8 revie" the findin/ of the
Secretar8 of 5ustice on the eAistence or non'eAistence of probable cause sufficient to
hold 5ai-e for trial and substitute his <ud/-ent for that of the Secretar8 of 5ustice.
The rule is that once an infor-ation is filed in court, an8 disposition of the case, be it
dis-issal, conviction, or ac?uittal of the accused, rests on the sound discretion of the
court. !respo v. Mo/ul
%.
laid do"n this basic precept in this "ise>
The rule therefore in this <urisdiction is that once a co-plaint or infor-ation is filed in
!ourt an8 disposition of the case as CtoD its dis-issal or the conviction or ac?uittal of
the accused rests in the sound discretion of the court. &lthou/h the fiscal retains the
direction and control of the prosecution of cri-inal cases even "hile the case is
alread8 in court he cannot i-pose his opinion on the trial court. The court is the best
2
and sole <ud/e on "hat to do "ith the case before it. The deter-ination of the case is
"ithin its eAclusive <urisdiction and co-petence. & -otion to dis-iss the case filed b8
the fiscal should be addressed to the !ourt "ho has the option to /rant or den8 the
sa-e.
In observance of the tenet spelled out in !respo, the !ourt in Martine6 v. !ourt of
&ppeals
%%
la-ented the trial court:s /rant of the -otion to dis-iss filed b8 the
prosecution, upon the reco--endation of the Secretar8 of 5ustice, as the <ud/e
-erel8 relied on the conclusion of the prosecution, thereb8 failin/ to perfor- his
function of -a7in/ an independent evaluation or assess-ent of the -erits of the
case.
!respo and Martine6 -andated the trial courts to -a7e an independent assess-ent
of the -erits of the reco--endation of the prosecution dis-issin/ or continuin/ a
case. This evaluation -a8 be based on the affidavits and counter'affidavits,
docu-ents, or evidence appended to the infor-ationB the records of the public
prosecutor "hich the court -a8 order the latter to produce before the courtB or an8
evidence alread8 adduced before the court b8 the accused at the ti-e the -otion is
filed b8 the public prosecutor.
%*
Reliance on the resolution of the Secretar8 of 5ustice
alone is considered an abdication of the trial court:s dut8 and <urisdiction to deter-ine
a pri-a facie case. ;hile the rulin/ of the 5ustice Secretar8 is persuasive, it is not
bindin/ on courts.
%3
The trial court is not bound b8 the Resolution of the 5ustice
Secretar8, but -ust evaluate it before proceedin/ "ith the trial.
!onsiderin/ that the trial court has the po"er and dut8 to loo7 into the propriet8 of
the prosecution:s -otion to dis-iss, "ith -uch -ore reason is it for the trial court to
evaluate and to -a7e its o"n appreciation and conclusion, "hether the -odification
of the char/es and the droppin/ of one of the accused in the infor-ation, as
reco--ended b8 the 5ustice Secretar8, is substantiated b8 evidence. This should be
the state of affairs, since the disposition of the case '' such as its continuation or
dis-issal or eAclusion of an accused '' is reposed in the sound discretion of the trial
court.
%#
In the case under consideration, the !it8 Prosecutor indicted 5ai-e and 5ovito for the
cri-es of -urder and frustrated -urder. Ho"ever, upon revie", the Secretar8 of
5ustice do"n/raded the char/es to ho-icide and frustrated ho-icide. The Secretar8
also dropped 5ai-e fro- the char/es. This resolution pro-pted the !it8 Prosecutor
to file a Manifestation and Motion for the ;ithdra"al of the Infor-ations for Murder
and 4rustrated Murder and for the &d-ission of Ne" Infor-ations for Ho-icide and
4rustrated Ho-icide a/ainst 5ovito onl8, "hich "as /ranted b8 5ud/e !ru6 in his
Order dated %= Nove-ber %)),. 5ud/e !ru6, ho"ever, failed to -a7e an
independent assess-ent of the -erits of the cases and the evidence on record or in
the possession of the public prosecutor. In /rantin/ the -otion of the public
prosecutor to "ithdra" the Infor-ations, the trial court never -ade an8 assess-ent
"hether the conclusions arrived at b8 the Secretar8 of 5ustice "as supported b8
evidence. It did not even ta7e a loo7 at the bases on "hich the 5ustice Secretar8
do"n/raded the char/es a/ainst 5ovito and eAcluded 5ai-e therefro-. The said
order reads>
4or resolution is the prosecution:s -otion to "ithdra" the a-ended infor-ation for
-urder and frustrated -urder and to ad-it, in lieu thereof, the infor-ation for
ho-icide and frustrated ho-icide. 0Manifestation and Motion dated Nove-ber +,
%)),1. The -otion "as filed in co-pliance "ith the resolution of the Secretar8 of
5ustice dated October *., %)), directin/ the !it8 Prosecutor Eto a-end the
infor-ation fro- -urder and frustrated -urder to ho-icide and frustrated ho-icide
a/ainst 5ovito &r-as, 5r. and to drop 5ai-e !hua fro- the char/es.
Havin/ been presented prior to arrai/n-ent, the -otion for "ithdra"al of the
infor-ation for -urder and frustrated -urder is /ranted pursuant to Sec. %#, Rule
%%. of the Revised Rules of !ourt. !onse?uentl8, the a-ended infor-ation for
-urder and frustrated -urder in !ri-. !ases Nos. ),'%$#)++ and ),'%$#)+,,
respectivel8 are considered "ithdra"n.
%$
In so doin/, the trial court relin?uished its <udicial po"er in contravention to the
pronounce-ent of the !ourt in !respo and in Martine6.
5ud/e !ru6 did not have a chance to correct his error since, durin/ the pendenc8 of
the -otion for reconsideration ?uestionin/ his order dated %= Nove-ber %)),, the
cases "ere subse?uentl8 transferred to another branch "hich "as presided b8
5ud/e Hidal/o. Thus, in his supposed order resolvin/ the said -otion for
reconsideration, 5ud/e !ru6 -erel8 reco--ended to the -ovants to /o to 5ud/e
Hidal/o, "ho no" had <urisdiction over the cases, and to ?uestion therein "hether
the do"n/radin/ of the cri-es char/ed a/ainst 5ovito and the eAclusion of 5ai-e
therefro- "ere proper. 5ud/e !ru6 ruled in this "ise>
CTDhe !ourt is in no position to favorabl8 act on the instant -otion. If, indeed, there is
probable cause for indictin/ both accused for the cri-es of -urder and frustrated
-urder, the appropriate -otion 0e./. a-end-ent of the infor-ation1 should be filed in
!ri-inal !ases Nos. ),'%+%%+= and ),'%+%%+) and not in these cases. To rule
other"ise "ould sanction -ultiple char/es 0-urder and ho-icideB and frustrated
-urder and frustrated ho-icide1 for a sin/le offense, thereb8 placin/ accused in
double <eopard8 A A A.
%+
0-phasis supplied.1
Heedin/ the advice of 5ud/e !ru6, 9ourdes and dison, "ent to 5ud/e Hidal/o
"here the8 ?uestioned ane" the do"n/radin/ b8 the 5ustice Secretar8 of the
char/es a/ainst 5ovito and the eAclusion of 5ai-e fro- the char/es. &fter a thorou/h
evaluation of the evidence available vis'a'vis the Resolution of the 5ustice Secretar8,
5ud/e Hidal/o disa/reed "ith those findin/s. He found that the proper char/es
a/ainst 5ovito "ere -urder and frustrated -urder and not ho-icide and frustrated
ho-icide. He, li7e"ise, believed that 5ai-e "as involved in these cri-es. The
discussion of 5ud/e Hidal/o:s Order dated , Dece-ber *..# is as follo"s>
3
In the affidavit eAecuted b8 the private co-plainant 9ourdes 2alta6ar, she positivel8
identified 5ai-e !hua, "ho "as <ust outside the door of the sub<ect apart-ent, as the
one "ho handed the /un to 5ovito &r-as, 5r. si-ultaneousl8 directin/ the latter to fire
the sa-e to the deceased b8 tellin/ Ei8an tirahin -o.E This "as confir-ed b8 dison
2alta6ar, the son of the deceased, "ho has a -ore vivid recollection of the incident,
he bein/ present in the scene "hen the incident occurred and -ore so, a victi- too,
"ho "as -ortall8 "ounded in the cri-e co-plained of. He declared that his father
"as shot "hile both his hands "ere alread8 raised as a -anifestation that he has
0sic1 no intention to fi/ht 5ai-e !hua and 5ovito &r-as, 5r. Ildefonso turned his bac7
to bac7 off and leave the a//ressors but despite thereof 5ovito &r-as, 5r. proceeded
to carr8 out the co--ands of his boss 5ai-e !hua, resultin/ in the death of helpless
Ildefonso 2alta6ar.
;hen his father fell on the /round, he sa" 5ovito &r-as "ho "as about to shoot
a/ain his father. So, he sur/ed to his father and covered the latter "ith his o"n bod8
as a shield causin/ hi- to be shot in the process.
The su--ar8 of evidence de-onstrates that there is a pri-a facie facts sho"in/ the
presence of the ele-ent of treacher8 in the case at bar. The circu-stance sho"s that
the shootin/ "as sudden and uneApected to the deceased constitutin/ the ele-ent
of alevosia necessar8 to raise ho-icide to -urder, it appearin/ that the a//ressor
adopted such -ode of attac7 to facilitate the perpetration of the 7illin/ "ithout ris7 to
hi-self. This is evident since 5ovito &r-as, 5r. could have fired the /un to the anterior
bod8 of Ildefonso 2alta6ar "hile the latter "as still facin/ hi-. 2ut to insure the
co--ission of the 7illin/ or to -a7e it i-possible or difficult for Ildefonso to retaliate
or defend hi-self, 5ovito did the shootin/ "hen Ildefonso -anifested to retreat. The
post-orte- findin/s confir-ed that he "as shot at the ri/ht side of his abdo-en. The
position of the victi-, and the part of his bod8 "here the bullet passed throu/h sho"
that the sudden 0sic1 the act of shootin/ -ade b8 5ovito &r-as, 5r. "as purposel8
carried out "ithout dan/er to hi-self of an8 retaliation fro- the victi-. Hence,
ele-ent of treacher8 apparentl8 eAist.
4ro- the state-ents of the "itnesses for the prosecution, a pri-a facie evidence
sufficient to for- a reasonable belief that 5ai-e !hua is li7e"ise cri-inall8 liable as
principal b8 induction.
In the incipienc8, 5ai-e !hua appears to be the onl8 adversar8 of !larita Tan and
thereafter the 2alta6ars "ho- Tan called up for intervention in that afternoon. There
"as an ad-ission that 5ai-e !hua is the brother'in'la" of 5ovito &r-as, 5r. and the
latter li7e"ise "or7 for the for-er as bod8/uard. 4uther-ore, !hua "as present
"hen the incident happened bein/ <ust a fe" -eters fro- 5ovito &r-as and fro-
Ildefonso "ho "as at the door of !hua:s apart-ent "hen the altercation bet"een hi-
and Ildefonso be/an. dison "ho "as beside his father narrated that he sa" !hua
handed the /un to 5ovito &r-as si-ultaneousl8 co--andin/ the latter> ETirahin -o
i8anE pointin/ at his father. !learl8, a pri-a facie evidence sho"s that 5ovito &r-as
could not have shot the deceased had not !hua ordered hi- to do so. 5ovito &r-as
had no eAistin/ ani-osit8 "ith the deceased nor "ith !larita Tan. Rather, it "as !hua
"ho apparentl8 infuriated to the !larita Tan and the persons "ho ca-e to her
assistance in that afternoon.
The positive and direct testi-on8 of victi- dison 2alta6ar and other "itnesses for
the prosecution indeed support a findin/ of probable cause. Settled is the rule that
the findin/ of probable cause is based neither on clear and convincin/ evidence of
/uilt nor evidence establishin/ absolute certaint8 of /uilt. It is -erel8 based on
opinion and reasonable belief, and so it is enou/h that there eAists such state of facts
as "ould lead a person of ordinar8 caution and prudence to believe or entertain an
honest or stron/ suspicion that the accused co--itted the cri-e i-puted.
@pon the other hand, the version of the defense that it "as Ildefonso hi-self "ho
shot his o"n son is, at the sta/e of the proceedin/, incredible considerin/ the close
distance of the Ildefonso fro- 5ovito &r-as and 5ai-e !hua. Had he reall8 "illed to
fire the /un, "hich the defense alle/es Ildefonso possessed, to !hua and &r-as
there is a sli- chance of -issin/ the- in four successive shots. 2esides, the
state-ents of the "itnesses for the defense failed to provide clear details on ho" the
shootin/ transpired in contract "ith the clear testi-onies of the "itnesses for the
prosecution. &t -ost the state-ents -ade for the defense are /enerall8 su--ation
of facts, the details of "hich is 8et to be supported b8 evidence to be presented and
"hich should properl8 be ventilated in the course of the trial on the -erits. 4urther,
the !ourt is of the opinion that discussin/ the -erits of the defense at this sta/e of
the proceedin/s "ould result on probable pre<ud/-ent of the case.
;HR4OR, in vie" of the fore/oin/, the Infor-ations for Ho-icide and
4rustrated Ho-icide are considered "ithdra"n and the !ourt hereb8 orders the
reinstate-ent of the Infor-ations for -urder and frustrated -urder in !ri-inal !ase
Nos. ),#$#)++ and ),#$#)+, respectivel8.
%,
In its ?uestioned Decision, the !ourt of &ppeals held that 5ud/e Hidal/o /ravel8
abused his discretion a-ountin/ to eAcess of <urisdiction in issuin/ the fore/oin/
order.
There is eAcess of <urisdiction "here, bein/ clothed "ith the po"er to deter-ine the
case, the tribunal, board or officer oversteps itsFhis authorit8 as deter-ined b8
la".
%=
&nd there is /rave abuse of discretion "here the capricious, "hi-sical,
arbitrar8 or despotic -anner in "hich the court, tribunal, board or officer eAercises
itsFhis <ud/-ent is said to be e?uivalent to lac7 of <urisdiction.
%)
1avvphi1
5ud/e Hidal/o is far fro- bein/ abusive in renderin/ his ?uestioned Order. He "as
-erel8 follo"in/ the in<unctions of this !ourt that "henever a court is presented "ith
a -otion to dis-iss or to "ithdra" an infor-ation or to eAclude an accused fro- the
char/e 0as heretofore discussed1 upon the behest of the Secretar8 of 5ustice, the
trial court has to deter-ine the -erits of the sa-e, and not be subservient to the
for-er.
4
The !ourt of &ppeals insisted that the instant case did not involve a disposal that
"ould call for the trial court:s po"er to /rant or den8 the sa-e.
This is inaccurate. 9ourdes and dison:s Motion for the &-end-ent of the
Infor-ations for Ho-icide and 4rustrated Ho-icide, filed on 3. &pril %))=, "as
?uestionin/ the dis-issal of the cases a/ainst 5ai-e and the do"n/radin/ of the
char/es a/ainst 5ovito. The eAclusion of 5ai-e fro- the char/es "as not onl8
disposin/ the cases a/ainst hi-, but also lettin/ hi- free fro- an8 cri-inal liabilities
arisin/ fro- the death of Ildefonso 2alta6ar and the "oundin/ of dison.
&s to the appellate court:s holdin/ that the , Dece-ber *..# Order of 5ud/e Hidal/o
revived the final order of 5ud/e !ru6 dated %= Nove-ber %)),, the sa-e needs
clarification.
It -ust be noted that the %= Nove-ber %)), Order of 5ud/e !ru6 /rantin/ the
-otion of the prosecution to ;ithdra" the Infor-ation for Murder and 4rustrated
Murder "as in effect an affir-ation b8 the trial court of the 5ustice Secretar8:s
directive to do"n/rade the cri-es a/ainst 5ovito and to eAclude 5ai-e fro- these
cri-es. &s discussed earlier, such /rant b8 5ud/e !ru6, absent an8 independent
evaluation on his part of the -erits of the resolution of the 5ustice Secretar8,
constituted an abdication of his po"er, renderin/ the said Order void. The rule in this
<urisdiction is that orders "hich are void can never attain finalit8.
*.
Since the %=
Nove-ber %)), Order is void, the sa-e has never attained finalit8. 2esides,
assu-in/ ar/uendo that the %= Nove-ber %)), Order "as valid, the sa-e could not
have an adverse effect on the , Dece-ber *..# Order of 5ud/e Hidal/o. &s has
been noted, a ti-el8 -otion for reconsideration "as filed on the %= Nove-ber %)),
Order and 5ud/e !ru6 -erel8 stated therein that he could not resolve the -erits of
the droppin/ of 5ai-e fro- all the cases and the do"n/radin/ of the cri-es char/ed
since the sub<ect cases "ere alread8 transferred to 5ud/e Hidal/o. In the sub<ect
order of 5ud/e !ru6, he even stated that the said issues could onl8 be resolved b8
5ud/e Hidal/o, before "ho- the cases "ere pendin/. In other "ords, since 5ud/e
!ru6 "as divested of <urisdiction, the issue of the droppin/ of 5ai-e fro- all char/es
and the do"n/radin/ of the char/es a/ainst 5ovito "as not resolved b8 the %=
Nove-ber %)), Order. It "as therefore proper for 5ud/e Hidal/o to resolve such
issue since he had <urisdiction over the cases.
;HR4OR, the Decision of the !ourt of &ppeals dated *# 5anuar8 *.., nullif8in/
the , Dece-ber *..# Order of the Re/ional Trial !ourt of Manila, 2ranch 3, is
hereb8 ST &SID. The , Dece-ber *..# Order of RT! 2ranch 3,, directin/ the
filin/ of Infor-ations for Murder and 4rustrated Murder a/ainst 5ovito &r-as, 5r. and
5ai-e !hua, is RINST&TD.
SO ORDRD.
5