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Republic of the Philippines

G.R. No. 175057 January 29, 2008
JEN O$EN ERCI, petitioners,
DEPRTMENT O' JUSTICE, %ON. RU" M. GON)"E), a* S+,r+-ary o. -/+
D+0ar-1+n- o. Ju*-2,+, NTION" CPIT" REGION ! NTION" &UREU O'
D+0ar-1+n- o. Ju*-2,+ D+0ar-1+n- Or(+r No. 135 (a-+( 08 Mar,/ 2003, "EO &.
DCER III, a* C/a2r1an o. -/+ Pan+4 o. In5+*-26a-2n6 Pro*+,u-or*, an(
PETER ". ONG, a* M+18+r* o. -/+ Pan+4 o. In5+*-26a-2n6 Pro*+,u-or*, -/+
EV"UTING PNE" ,r+a-+( un(+r D+0ar-1+n- o. Ju*-2,+ D+0ar-1+n- Or(+r
No. 90 (a-+( 08 '+8ruary 2003, JOSE"IT C. MENDO) a* C/a2r1an o. -/+
E5a4ua-2n6 Pan+4, an( MER& $G, RUE" "S" an( RNO"D ROS"ES,
a* M+18+r* o. -/+ E5a4ua-2n6 Pan+4, respondents.
On challenge via petition for review on certiorari are the Court of Appeals May 24,
2! "ecision and October #, 2! Resolution
in CA$%.R. &P 'o. ()*!)
dis+issing herein petitioners, petition for certiorari and prohibition that sought to -i.
annul respondent "epart+ent of /ustice -"O/. "epart+ent Order 'os. (
dated 1ebruary 2, 2! and March 2, 2!, respectively, and all orders,
proceedings and issuances e+anating therefro+, and -ii. prohibit the "O/ fro+
further conducting a preli+inary investigation in what has been dubbed as the 34ltra
&ta+pede3 case.
5n the days leading to 1ebruary 4, 2!, people started to gather in throngs at the
Philsports Arena -for+erly 4ltra. in Pasig City, the publici6ed site of the first
anniversary episode of 37owowee,3 a noonti+e ga+e show aired by A8&$C8'
8roadcasting Corporation -A8&$C8'.. 7ith high hopes of winning the bonan6a,
hundreds 9ueued for days and nights near the venue to assure the+selves of
securing tic:ets for the show. ;ittle did they :now that in ta:ing a shot at instant
fortune, a nu+ber of the+ would pay the ulti+ate wager and place their lives at
sta:e, all in the na+e of bagging the pri6es in store.
Ca+e the early +orning of 1ebruary 4, 2! with thousands +ore swar+ing to the
venue. <ours before the show and +inutes after the people were allowed entry
through two entry points at si= o,cloc: in the +orning, the obstinate crowd along
Capt. /avier &treet >ostled even +ore >ust to get close to the lower rate pedestrian
gate. ?he +ad rush of the unruly +ob generated +uch force, triggering the horde to
surge forward with such +o+entu+ that led others to stu+ble and get tra+pled upon
by the approaching waves of people right after the gate opened. ?his fatal sta+pede
clai+ed *# lives, !( of who+ were wo+en, and left hundreds wounded
necessitated e+ergency +edical support and pro+pted the cancellation of the
show,s episode.
?he "epart+ent of 5nterior and ;ocal %overn+ent -"5;%., through then &ecretary
Angelo Reyes, i++ediately created an inter$agency fact$finding tea+
to investigate
the circu+stances surrounding the sta+pede. ?he tea+ sub+itted its report
to the
"O/ on 1ebruary *, 2!.
8y "epart+ent Order 'o. ( of 1ebruary 2, 2!, respondent "O/ &ecretary Raul
%on6ale6 -%on6ale6. constituted a Panel -@valuating Panel.
to evaluate the "5;%
Report and 3deter+ine whether there is sufficient basis to proceed with the conduct
of a preli+inary investigation on the basis of the docu+ents sub+itted.3
?he @valuating Panel later sub+itted to %on6ale6 a 1ebruary 2, 2!
concurring with the "5;% Report but concluding that there was no sufficient
basis to proceed with the conduct of a preli+inary investigation in view of the
following considerationsA
a. 'o for+al co+plaintBs had been filed by any of the victi+s andBor their
relatives, or any law enforce+ent agency authori6ed to file a co+plaint,
pursuant to Rule ## of the Revised Rules of Cri+inal ProcedureC
b. 7hile it was +entioned in the 1act$1inding Report that there were *4
deaths and !2* in>uries, no docu+ents were sub+itted to prove the
sa+e, e.g. death certificates, autopsy reports, +edical certificates, etc.C
c. ?he 1act$1inding Report did not indicate the na+es of the persons
involved and their specific participation in the 34ltra 5ncident3C
d. Most of the victi+s did not +ention, in their sworn state+ents, the na+es
of the persons who+ they alleged to be responsible for the 34ltra 5ncident3.
Respondent 'ational 8ureau of 5nvestigation$'ational Capital Region -'85$'CR.,
acting on the @valuating Panel,s referral of the case to it for further investigation, in
turn sub+itted to the "O/ an investigation report, by a March 2, 2! trans+ittal
letter -'85$'CR Report
., with supporting docu+ents reco++ending the conduct of
preli+inary investigation for Rec:less 5+prudence resulting in Multiple <o+icide and
Multiple Physical 5n>uries
against petitioners and seven others
as respondents.
Acting on the reco++endation of the '85$'CR, %on6ale6, by "epart+ent Order 'o.
#!0 of March 2, 2!, designated a panel of state prosecutors
-5nvestigating Panel.
to conduct the preli+inary investigation of the case, doc:eted as 5.&. 'o. 2!$2(#,
3NCR-NBI v. Santos-Concio, et al.," and if warranted by the evidence, to file the
appropriate infor+ation and prosecute the sa+e before the appropriate court. ?he
following day or on March (, 2!, the 5nvestigating Panel issued
directing the therein respondents to appear at the preli+inary
investigation set on March 2 and 2*, 2!.
At the initial preli+inary investigation, petitioners sought clarification and orally
+oved for the inhibition, dis9ualification or desistance of the 5nvestigating Panel fro+
conducting the investigation.
?he 5nvestigating Panel did not for+ally resolve the
+otion, however, as petitioners +anifested their reservation to file an appropriate
+otion on the ne=t hearing scheduled on March 2*, 2!, without pre>udice to other
On March 2), 2!, petitioners filed a petition for certiorari and prohibition with the
Court of Appeals which issued on March 2*, 2! a Resolution
granting the
issuance of a te+porary restraining order,
conducted on April 24, 2! a hearing on
the application for a writ of preli+inary in>unction, and subse9uently pro+ulgated the
assailed two issuances.
5n the +eanti+e, the 5nvestigating Panel, by Resolution
of October (, 2!, found
probable cause to indict the respondents$herein petitioners for Rec:less 5+prudence
resulting in Multiple <o+icide and Physical 5n>uries, and reco++ended the conduct
of a separate preli+inary investigation against certain public officials.
Motion for Reconsideration
of the said October (, 2! Resolution, filed on October
), 2! 3with abundance of caution,3 is pending resolution, and in the present
petition they additionally pray for its annul+ent.
5n asserting their right to due process, specifically to a fair and i+partial preli+inary
investigation, petitioners i+pute reversible errors in the assailed issuances, arguing
Respondents have already pre>udged the case, as shown by the public
declarations of Respondent &ecretary and the Chief @=ecutive, and have,
therefore, lost their i+partiality to conduct preli+inary investigation.
Respondents have already pre>udged the case as shown by the indecent
haste by which the proceedings were conducted.
?he alleged co+plaint$affidavits filed against Petitioners were not under
?he supposed co+plaint$affidavits filed against Petitioners failed to state the
acts or o+issions constituting the cri+e.
Although Respondents +ay have the power to conduct cri+inal
investigation or preli+inary investigation, Respondents do not have the
power to conduct 8o-/ in the sa+e case.
-@+phasis and underscoring
?he issues shall, for logical reasons, be resolved in reverse se9uence.
On -/+ In5+*-26a-ory Po:+r o. -/+ DOJ
5n the assailed "ecision, the appellate court ruled that the "epart+ent Orders were
issued within the scope of authority of the "O/ &ecretary pursuant to the
Ad+inistrative Code of #(2*
bestowing general investigatory powers upon the "O/.
Petitioners concede that the "O/ has the power to conduct
both cri+inal investigation and preli+inary investigation but not in their case,
invo:ing Cojuangco, Jr. v. PCGG.
?hey posit that in Cojuangco, the reshuffling of
personnel was not considered by this Court which ruled that the entity which
conducted the cri+inal investigation is dis9ualified fro+ conducting a preli+inary
investigation in the sa+e case. ?hey add that the "O/ cannot circu+vent the
prohibition by si+ply creating a panel to conduct the first, and another to conduct the
5n insisting on the arbitrariness of the two "epart+ent Orders which, so they clai+,
paved the way for the "O/,s dual role, petitioners trace the basis for the for+ation of
the five$prosecutor 5nvestigating Panel to the '85$'CR Report which was spawned
by the supposed cri+inal investigation
of the @valuating Panel the +e+bers of
which included two, albeit different, prosecutors. 7hile petitioners do not assail the
constitution of the @valuating Panel,
they clai+ that it did not >ust evaluate the "5;%
Report but went further and conducted its own cri+inal investigation by interviewing
witnesses, conducting an ocular inspection, and perusing the evidence.
Petitioners, position does not lie. Cojuangco was borne out of a different factual
5n Cojuangco, this Court prohibited the Presidential Co++ission on %ood
%overn+ent -PC%%. fro+ conducting a preli+inary investigation of the co+plaints
for graft and corruption since it had earlier found a prima facie case D basis of its
issuance of se9uestrationBfree6e orders and the filing of an ill$gotten wealth case
involving the sa+e transactions. ?he Court therein stated that it is 3difficult to i+agine
how in the conduct of such preli+inary investigation the PC%% could even +a:e a
turn about and ta:e a position contradictory to its earlier findings of aprima
facie case,3 and so held that 3the law enforcer who conducted
the cri+inal investigation,
gathered the evidence and thereafter filed the co+plaint for the purpose of
preli+inary investigation cannot be allowed to conduct the preli+inary investigation
of his own co+plaint.3
?he present case deviates fro+Cojuangco.
?he +easures ta:en by the @valuating Panel do not parta:e of a cri+inal
investigation, they having been done in aid of evaluation in order to relate the
incidents to their proper conte=t. Petitioners, own video footage of the ocular
inspection discloses this purpose. @valuation for purposes of deter+ining whether
there is sufficient basis to proceed with the conduct of a preli+inary investigation
entails not only reading the report or docu+ents in isolation, but also dee+s to
include resorting to reasonably necessary +eans such as ocular inspection and
physical evidence e=a+ination. 1or, ulti+ately, any conclusion on such sufficiency or
insufficiency needs to rest on so+e basis or >ustification.
<ad the @valuating Panel carried out +easures parta:ing of a cri+inal investigation,
it would have gathered the docu+ents that it enu+erated as lac:ing. Notatu
ignum is the fact that the @valuating Panel was dissolved functus oficio upon
rendering its report. 5t was the '85, a constituent unit
of the "O/, which conducted
the cri+inal investigation. 5t is thus foolhardy to inhibit the entire "O/ fro+
conducting a preli+inary investigation on the sheer ground that the "O/,s constituent
unit conducted the cri+inal investigation.
Moreover, the i+probability of the "O/ contradicting its prior finding is hardly
appreciable. 5t bears recalling that the @valuating Panel found no sufficient basis to
proceed with the conduct of a preli+inary investigation. &ince the @valuating Panel,s
report was not adverse to petitioners, pre>udg+ent +ay not be attributed
3vicariously,3 so to spea:, to the rest of the state prosecutors. Partiality, if any obtains
in this case, in fact weighs heavily in favor of petitioners.
On -/+ 44+6+( D+.+,-* o. -/+ Co104a2n-
On the two succeeding issues, petitioners fault the appellate court,s dis+issal of their
petition despite, so they clai+, respondents, co++ission of grave abuse of discretion
in proceeding with the preli+inary investigation given the fatal defects in the
supposed co+plaint.
Petitioners point out that they cannot be co+pelled to sub+it their counter$affidavits
because the '85$'CR Report, which they advert to as the co+plaint$affidavit, was
not under oath. 7hile they ad+it that there were affidavits attached to the '85$'CR
Report, the sa+e, they clai+, were not e=ecuted by the '85$'CR as the purported
co+plainant, leaving the+ as 3orphaned3 supporting affidavits without a sworn
co+plaint$affidavit to support.
?hese affidavits, petitioners further point out, nonetheless do not 9ualify as a
within the scope of Rule ## of the Rules of Court as the allegations
therein are insufficient to initiate a preli+inary investigation, there being no state+ent
of specific and individual acts or o+issions constituting rec:less i+prudence. ?hey
bewail the assu+ptions or conclusions of law in the '85$'CR Report as well as the
bare narrations in the affidavits that lac: any i+putation relating to the+ as the
persons allegedly responsible.
5' 15'@, petitioners contend that absent any act or o+ission ascribed to the+, it is
unreasonable to e=pect the+ to confir+, deny or e=plain their side.
A co+plaint for purposes of conducting a preli+inary investigation differs fro+ a
co+plaint for purposes of instituting a cri+inal prosecution. Confusion apparently
springs because two co+ple+entary procedures adopt the usage of the sa+e word,
for lac: of a better or alternative ter+, to refer essentially to a written charge. ?here
should be no confusion about the ob>ectives, however, since, as inti+ated during the
hearing before the appellate court, preli+inary investigation is conducted precisely to
elicit further facts or evidence.
8eing generally in9uisitorial, the preli+inary
investigation stage is often the only +eans of discovering the persons who +ay be
reasonably charged with a cri+e, to enable the preparation of a co+plaint or
Consider the following pertinent provision of Rule ##2 of the Revised Rules on
Cri+inal ProcedureA
&@C. ). Proceure. D ?he preli+inary investigation shall be conducted in
the following +annerA
-a. ?he ,o104a2n- shall state the address of the respondent and shall
be a,,o10an2+( 8y -/+ a..2(a52-* o. -/+ ,o104a2nan- an( /2*
:2-n+**+*, a* :+44 a* o-/+r *u00or-2n6 (o,u1+n-* -o +*-a842*/
0ro8a84+ ,au*+. ?hey shall be in such nu+ber of copies as there are
respondents, plus two -2. copies for the official file. ?he a..2(a52-* shall be
subscribed and sworn to before any prosecutor or govern+ent official
authori6ed to ad+inister oath, or, in their absence or unavailability, before a
notary public, each of who+ +ust certify that he personally e=a+ined the
affiants and that he is satisfied that they voluntarily e=ecuted and
understood their affidavits.
-@+phasis and underscoring supplied.
As clearly worded, the co+plaint is not entirely the affidavit of the co+plainant, for
the affidavit is treated as a co+ponent of the co+plaint. ?he phraseology of the
above$9uoted rule recogni6es that all necessary allegations need not be contained in
a single docu+ent. 5t is unli:e a cri+inal 3co+plaint or infor+ation3 where the
aver+ents +ust be contained in one docu+ent charging only one offense, non$
co+pliance with which renders it vulnerable to a +otion to 9uash.
?he Court is not unaware of the practice of incorporating all allegations in one
docu+ent deno+inated as 3co+plaint$affidavit.3 5t does not pronounce strict
adherence to only one approach, however, for there are cases where the e=tent of
one,s personal :nowledge +ay not cover the entire ga+ut of details +aterial to the
alleged offense. ?he private offended party or relative of the deceased +ay not even
have witnessed the fatality,
in which case the peace officer or law enforcer has to
rely chiefly on affidavits of witnesses. ?he Rules do not in fact preclude the
attach+ent of a referral or trans+ittal letter si+ilar to that of the '85$'CR. ?hus,
in Soriano v. Casanova,
the Court heldA
A close scrutiny of the letters trans+itted by the 8&P and P"5C to the "O/
shows that these were not intended to be the co+plaint envisioned under
the Rules. 5t +ay be clearly inferred fro+ the tenor of the letters that the
officers +erely intended to trans+it the affidavits of the ban: e+ployees to
the "O/. 'owhere in the trans+ittal letters is there any aver+ent on the
part of the 8&P and P"5C officers of personal :nowledge of the events and
transactions constitutive of the cri+inal violations alleged to have been
+ade by the accused. 5n fact, the letters clearly stated that what the O&5 of
the 8&P and the ;5& of the P"5C did was to respectfully trans+it to the "O/
for preli+inary investigation the affidavits and personal :nowledge of the
acts of the petitioner. ?hese affidavits were subscribed under oath by the
witnesses who e=ecuted the+ before a notary public. &ince the a..2(a52-* ,
not the letters trans+itting the+, were intended to 2n2-2a-+ the preli+inary
investigation, we hold that &ection )-a., Rule ##2 of the Rules of Court was
substantially co+plied with.
Citing the ruling of this Court in !"arle v. Sucalito, the Court of Appeals
correctly held that a co+plaint for purposes of preli+inary investigation by
the fiscal need not be filed by the offended party. ?he rule has been
that, un4+** -/+ o..+n*+ *u8;+,- -/+r+o. 2* on+ -/a- ,anno- 8+
0ro*+,u-+( de oficio , the sa+e +ay be filed, for preli+inary investigation
purposes, by any ,o10+-+n- 0+r*on. ?he cri+e of estafa is a public cri+e
which can be initiated by 3any co+petent person.3 ?he witnesses who
e=ecuted the affidavits based on their personal :nowledge of the acts
co++itted by the petitioner fall within the purview of 3any co+petent
person3 who +ay institute the co+plaint for a public cri+e. = =
-@+phasis and underscoring supplied.
A preli+inary investigation can thus validly proceed on the basis of an affidavit of
any co+petent person, without the referral docu+ent, li:e the '85$'CR Report,
having been sworn to by the law enforcer as the no+inal co+plainant. ?o re9uire
otherwise is a needless e=ercise. ?he cited case of #porto, Jr. v. Juge
does not appear to dent this proposition. After all, what is re9uired is
to r+(u,+ -/+ +52(+n,+ 2n-o a..2(a52-*, for while reports and even raw infor+ation
+ay >ustify the initiation of an investigation, the preli+inary investigation stage can be
held only after sufficient evidence has been gathered and evaluated which +ay
warrant the eventual prosecution of the case in court.
5n the present case, there is no doubt about the e=istence of affidavits. ?he appellate
court found that 3certain co+plaint$affidavits were already filed by so+e of the
a factual finding to which this Court, by rule, generally defers.
A co+plaint for purposes of conducting preli+inary investigation is not re9uired to
e=hibit the attending structure of a 3co+plaint or infor+ation3 laid down in Rule ##
-Prosecution of Offenses. which already spea:s of the 3People of t%e P%ilippines3 as
a party,
an 3accused3 rather than a respondent,
and a 3court3 that shall pronounce
5f a 3co+plaint or infor+ation3 filed in court does not co+ply with a set of
constitutive aver+ents, it is vulnerable to a +otion to 9uash.
?he filing of a +otion
to dis+iss in lieu of a counter$affidavit is proscribed by the rule on preli+inary
investigation, however.
?he investigating officer is allowed to dis+iss outright the
co+plaint only if it is not sufficient in for+ and substance or 3no ground to continue
with the investigation3
is appreciated.
?he investigating fiscal, to be sure, has discretion to deter+ine the
specificity and ade9uacy of aver+ents of the offense charged. <e +ay
dis+iss the co+plaint forthwith if he finds it to be insufficient in for+ or
substance or if he otherwise finds no ground to continue with the in9uiry, or
proceed with the investigation if the co+plaint is, in his view, in due and
proper for+. 5t certainly is not his duty to re9uire a +ore particular state+ent
of the allegations of the co+plaint +erely upon the respondents, +otion,
and specially where after an analysis of the co+plaint and its supporting
state+ents he finds it sufficiently definite to apprise the respondents of the
offenses which they are charged. Moreover, the procedural device of a bill
of particulars, as the &olicitor %eneral points out, appears to have reference
to infor+ations or cri+inal co+plaints filed in a co+petent court upon which
the accused are arraigned and re9uired to plead, and strictly spea:ing has
no application to co+plaints initiating a preli+inary investigation which
cannot result in any finding of guilt, but only of probable cause.
-5talics and
ellipses in the original o+ittedC underscoring supplied.
Petitioners, clai+s of vague allegations or insufficient i+putations are thus +atters
that can be properly raised in their counter$affidavits to negate or belie the e=istence
of probable cause.
On -/+ C4a21 o. &2a* an( Pr+;u(61+n-
On the re+aining issues, petitioners charge respondents to have lost the i+partiality
to conduct the preli+inary investigation since they had pre>udged the case, in
support of which they cite the 3indecent3 haste in the conduct of the proceedings.
?hus, they +ention the conduct of the cri+inal investigation within 24 wor:ing
and the issuance of subpoenas i++ediately following the creation of the
5nvestigating Panel.
Petitioners li:ewise cite the following public declarations +ade by %on6ale6 as
e=pressing his conclusions that a cri+e had been co++itted, that the show was the
pro=i+ate cause, and that the show,s organi6ers are guilty thereofA
1ebruary !, 2!A 3E F should have anticipated it because one wee: na i&an
e. ?he crowds started gathering since one wee: before. ?his is
si+ply n+6426+n,+ = = = on -/+ 0ar- o. -/+ or6an2<+r*.3
1ebruary #4, 2!A 35 thin: &S!C&N 2* -ry2n6 -o 12n212<+ 2-* o:n
r+*0on*28242-y and it,s discernible fro+ the way by which tal:
shows nila being conducted on people who tal: about liabilities of others.
3T/+ r+a*on .or -/2* 2n,2(+n- :a* -/+ 0ro6ra1. 5f there was no
progra+, there would have been no sta+pede. ?here would have
been no people. ?here would have been no atte+pt by people to
9ueue there for days and rush for the nearest entry point.3
March 2, 2!A 3I=44 8+- +5+ry-/2n6 I /a5+ -/a- -/+y ar+ r+*0on*284+ at
least on the civil aspect.3
-@+phasis in the original.
Continuing, petitioners point out that long before the conclusion of any investigation,
%on6ale6 already ruled out the possibility that so+e other cause or causes led to the
tragedy or that so+eone else or perhaps none should be +ade cri+inally liableC and
that %on6ale6 had left the preli+inary investigation to a +ere deter+ination of who
within A8&$C8' are the progra+,s organi6ers who should be cri+inally prosecuted.
Petitioners even cite President Arroyo,s declaration in a radio interview on 1ebruary
#4, 2! that 3E&Fang sta+pedena i&an, Jo, a& isang tra%e&a na pinapa'ita &ung
'a'ulangan at pag'apa"a&a( nagpa"a&a ng organisas&on na nag-organi6e nito.3
?o petitioners, the declarations ad+ittedly
+ade by %on6ale6 tainted the entire
"O/, including the @valuating and 5nvestigating Panels, since the "epart+ent is
sub>ect to the direct control and supervision of %on6ale6 in his capacity as "O/
&ecretary who, in turn, is an alter ego of the President.
Petitioners thus fault the appellate court in not finding grave abuse of discretion on
the part of the 5nvestigating Panel +e+bers who 3refused to inhibit the+selves fro+
conducting the preli+inary investigation despite the undeniable bias and partiality
publicly displayed by their superiors.3
Pursuing, petitioners posit that the bias of the "O/ &ecretary is the bias of the entire
?hey thus conclude that the "O/, as an institution, publicly ad>udged their
guilt based on a pre$deter+ined notion of supposed facts, and urge that the
5nvestigating Panel and the entire "O/ for that +atter should inhibit fro+ presiding
and deciding over such preli+inary investigation because they, as 9uasi$>udicial
officers, do not possess the 3cold neutrality of an i+partial >udge.3
Responding to the clai+ of pre>udg+ent, respondents +aintain that the above$cited
state+ents of %on6ale6 and the President +erely indicate that the incident is of such
nature and +agnitude as to warrant a natural inference that it would not have
happened in the ordinary course of things and that any reasonable +ind would
conclude that there is a causal connection between the show,s preparations and the
resultant deaths and in>uries.
Petitioners, fears are speculatory.
&peed in the conduct of proceedings by a >udicial or 9uasi$>udicial officer cannot per
se be instantly attributed to an in>udicious perfor+ance of functions.
1or one,s
pro+pt dispatch +ay be another,s undue haste. ?he orderly ad+inistration of >ustice
re+ains as the para+ount and constant consideration,
with particular regard of the
circu+stances peculiar to each case.
?he presu+ption of regularity
includes the public officer,s official actuations in all
phases of wor:.
Consistent with such presu+ption, it was incu+bent upon
petitioners to present contradictory evidence other than a
+ere tallying of days or nu+erical calculation.
?his, petitioners failed to discharge.
?he swift co+pletion of the 5nvestigating Panel,s initial tas: cannot be relegated as
shoddy or shady without discounting the presu+ably regular perfor+ance of not >ust
one but five state prosecutors.
As for petitioners, clai+ of undue haste indicating bias, proof thereof is wanting. ?he
pace of the proceedings is anything but a +atter of acceleration. 7ithout any
ob>ection fro+ the parties, respondents even accorded petitioners a preli+inary
investigation even when it was not re9uired since the case involves an alleged
offense where the penalty prescribed by law is below 1our Gears, ?wo Months and
One "ay.
'either is there proof showing that %on6ale6 e=erted undue pressure on his
subordinates to tailor their decision with his public declarations and adhere to a pre$
deter+ined result. ?he @valuating Panel in fact even found no sufficient basis, it
bears e+phatic reiteration, to proceed with the conduct of a preli+inary investigation,
and one +e+ber of the 5nvestigating Panel even dissented to its October (, 2!
?o follow petitioner,s theory of institutional bias would logically +ean that even the
'85 had pre>udged the case in conducting a cri+inal investigation since it is a
constituent agency of the "O/. And if the theory is e=tended to the President,s
declaration, there would be no +ore ar+ of the govern+ent credible enough to
conduct a cri+inal investigation and a preli+inary investigation.
On petitioners citation of )ala v. *elasco
where a public declaration by %on6ale6
was found to evince a 3deter+ination to file the 5nfor+ation even in the absence of
probable cause,3
their attention is drawn to the following ruling of this Court in
Roberts, /r. v. Court of AppealsA
Ordinarily, the deter+ination of probable cause is not lodged with this Court.
5ts duty in an appropriate case is confined to the issue of whether the
e=ecutive or >udicial deter+ination, as the case +ay be, of probable cause
was done without or in e=cess of >urisdiction or with grave abuse of
discretion a+ounting to want of >urisdiction. ?his is consistent with the
general rule that cri+inal prosecution +ay not be restrained or stayed by
in>unction, preli+inary or final. ?here are, however, +>,+0-2on* to this rule =
= = enu+erated in Broc'a vs. !nrile -#(2 &CRA #2), #22$#2( E#((F. = = =.
5n these e=ceptional cases, this Court +ay ulti+ately resolvethe e=istence
or non$e=istence of probable cause by e=a+ining the records of the
preli+inary investigation = = =.
-@+phasis and underscoring supplied.
@ven assu+ing argueno that petitioners, case falls under the e=ceptions
enu+erated in Broc'a, any resolution on the e=istence or lac: of probable cause or,
specifically, any conclusion on the issue of pre>udg+ent as elucidated in)ala, is
+ade to depend on the records of the preli+inary investigation. ?here have been, as
the appellate court points out, no finding to spea: of when the petition was filed,
+uch less one that is sub>ect to >udicial review due to grave abuse.
At that incipient
stage, records were wanting if not nil since the 5nvestigating Panel had not yet
resolved any +atter brought before it, save for the issuance of subpoenas. ?he Court
thus finds no reversible error on the part of the appellate court in dis+issing
petitioners, petition for certiorari and prohibition and in refraining fro+ reviewing the
+erits of the case until a ripe and appropriate case is presented. Otherwise, court
intervention would have been only pre$e+ptive and piece+eal.
Oddly enough, petitioners eventually concede that they are 3not as:ing for a reversal
of a ruling on probable cause.3
A word on the utili6ation by petitioners of the video footages provided by A8&$C8'.
7hile petitioners deny wishing or causing respondents to be biased and
they ad+it
that the +edia, A8&$C8' included, interviewed %on6ale6 in
order to elicit his opinion on a +atter that A8&$C8' :new was pending investigation
and involving a nu+ber of its own staff. %on6ale6,s actuations +ay leave +uch to be
desiredC petitioners, are not, however, totally spotless as circu+stances tend to show
that they were as:ing for or fishing fro+ hi+ so+ething that could later be used
against hi+ to favor their cause.
A 15'A; 7OR". ?he Court ta:es this occasion to echo its disposition in Cru+ v.
where it censured a fiscal for ine=cusably allowing undue publicity in the
conduct of preli+inary investigation and appreciated the press for wisely declining an
unusual probing privilege. Agents of the law ought to recogni6e the buoys and
bounds of prudence in discharging what they +ay dee+ as an earnest effort to
herald the govern+ent,s endeavor in solving a case.
$%ERE'ORE, the petition is DENIED.
Costs against petitioners.