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G.R. No.

149453

May 28, 2002

PEOPLE OF THE PHILIPPINES, ET AL.,


vs.
PANFILO M. LACSON
RESOLUTION
Before us is a petition for review on certiorari seeking to reverse and set aside the
Decision1 of the Court of Appeals dated August 24, 2001 in CA-G.R. SP No. 65034. 2 The said
Decision of the appellate court granted respondent Lacson's Second Amended Petition for
Prohibition with application for the issuance of a Temporary Restraining Order, (1) assailing
the Order issued by Judge Herminia Pasamba of the Regional Trial Court (RTC) of Manila,
Branch 40, that allowed the continuation of the re-investigation of Criminal Cases Nos. Q-9981679 to Q-99-81689 or the Kuratong Baleleng cases; and (2) praying for the dismissal of
Criminal Cases Nos. Q-01-101102 to Q-01-101112 entitled "People of the Philippines v.
Panfilo Lacson, et al." pending before Branch 81 of the RTC of Quezon City.
The following appear in the records of this case:
(1) On May 18, 1995, then PNP Director-General Recaredo Sarmiento II announced, in a
press conference, the killing of eleven (11) members of the Kuratong Baleleng Gang (KBG)
in a shootout with police elements near the fly-over along Commonwealth Avenue, Quezon
City at about 4:00 A.M. that day.3
(2) On May 22, 1995, morning papers carried the news that SPO2 Eduardo delos Reyes had
claimed that the killing of the eleven (11) gang members was a "rub-out" or summary
execution and not a shootout.4
(3) In an affidavit he executed the following day, delos Reyes stated, among others, that he
was part of a composite police team called the Anti-Bank Robbery and Intelligence Task
Force Group (ABRITFG) composed of elements of the National Capital Region Command
(NCRC) and headed by Chief Superintendent Jewel Canson; Traffic Management Command,
headed by Senior Superintendent Francisco Subia, Jr.; Presidential Anti-Crime Commission
(PACC), headed by Chief Superintendent Panfilo M. Lacson; Central Police District
Command, headed by Chief Superintendent Ricardo de Leon; and Criminal Investigation
Command (CIC), headed by Chief Superintendent Romeo Acop. Delos Reyes claimed that the
police team arrested the eleven (11) gang members in early morning of May 18, 1995 at the
gang's safe house in Superville Subdivision, Paraaque; that after their arrest, the gang
members were made to board two vans, their hands tied behind their backs, and brought
initially to Camp Crame where a decision to summarily execute them was made, and later to
Commonwealth Avenue where they were shot to death by elements of ABRITFG. 5
(4) On May 26, 1995, SPO2 Corazon dela Cruz, another CIC investigator, executed an
affidavit corroborating the material allegations of delos Reyes. Dela Cruz claimed that she
was with delos Reyes from the time the eleven (11) KBG members were arrested up to the
time they were killed in Commonwealth Avenue. 6
(5) On May 31, 1995, Armando Capili, a reporter of Remate, executed an affidavit stating
that he was present when the KBG members were arrested in Superville Subdivision. 7
(6) On June 1, 1995, Chief Superintendent Job A. Mayo, PNP Director for Investigation, filed
murder charges with the Office of the Ombudsman against ninety-seven (97) officers and
personnel of ABRITFG. The next-of-kin of the slain KBG members also filed murder charges
against the same officers and personnel.8
(7) Ombudsman Aniano Desierto then created a panel of investigators to conduct a
preliminary investigation of the murder charges. The panel was headed by Deputy
Ombudsman for Military Affairs Bienvenido Blancaflor. On October 20, 1995, the panel
issued a resolution recommending the dismissal of the charges for lack of probable cause.

(8) Ombudsman Desierto referred the resolution for review by a panel composed of Over-all
Deputy Ombudsman Francisco Villa as head, and Special Prosecutor Leonardo Tamayo and
Assistant Ombudsman Abelardo Aportadera as members. On November 20, 1995, the review
panel reversed the Blancaflor resolution and found probable cause for the prosecution of
multiple murder charges against twenty-six (26) officers and personnel of ABRITFG. 9
(9) On November 2, 1995, the Ombudsman filed before the Sandiganbayan eleven (11)
Informations for MURDER, docketed as Criminal Cases Nos. 23047 to 23057, against
respondent Panfilo M. Lacson and twenty-five (25) other accused. All twenty-six (26) of them
were charged as principals.10 The following appear to be the victims: Meleubren Sorronda
in Crim. Case No. 23047; Welbor Elcamel in Crim. Case No. 23048; Carlito Alap-ap in Crim.
Case No. 23049; Jevy Redillas in Crim. Case No. 23050; Ray Abalora in Crim. Case No.
23051; Joel Amora in Crim. Case No. 23052; Alex Neri in Crim. Case No. 23053; Rolando
Siplon in Crim. Case No. 23054; Manuel Montero in Crim. Case No. 23055; Sherwin Abalora
in Crim. Case No. 23056; and Pacifico Montero in Crim. Case No. 23057.
(10) Upon motion of the respondent, the criminal cases were remanded to the Ombudsman
for reinvestigation. On March 1, 1996, Amended Informations were filed against the same
twenty-six (26) suspects but the participation of respondent Lacson was downgraded from
principal to accessory. Arraignment then followed and respondent entered a plea of not
guilty.11
(11) With the downgrading of charges against him, respondent Lacson questioned the
jurisdiction of theSandiganbayan to hear the criminal cases as none of the "principal"
accused in the Amended Informations was a government official with a Salary Grade (SG) 27
or higher, citing Section 2 of R. A. No. 7975 then prevailing. Accordingly,
the Sandiganbayan ordered the cases transferred to the Regional Trial Court. 12
(12) The Office of the Special Prosecutor filed a motion for reconsideration of the transfer.
Pending resolution of the motion, R. A. No. 8249 took effect on February 23, 1997, amending
R. A. No. 7975. In particular, the amendatory law deleted the word "principal" in Section 2 of
R. A. No. 7975, thereby expanding the jurisdiction of the Sandiganbayan to include all cases
where at least one of the accused, whether principal, accomplice or accessory, is a
government official of Salary Grade (SG) 27 or higher. The amendment is made applicable to
all cases pending in any court in which trial has not yet begun as of the date of its
approval.13
(13) In Lacson v. Executive Secretary, 14 respondent Lacson challenged the constitutionality
of the amendment and contended that the Sandiganbayan had no jurisdiction over the
criminal cases. This Court, while dismissing the constitutional challenge, nonetheless
ordered the transfer of the criminal cases to the Regional Trial Court on the ground that the
Amended Informations for murder failed to indicate that the offenses charged therein were
committed in relation to, or in discharge of, the official functions of the respondent, as
required by R. A. No. 8249.
(14) Criminal Cases Nos. 23047 to 23057 were raffled off to Branch 81 of the Regional Trial
Court of Quezon City, then presided by Judge, now Associate Justice of the Court of Appeals,
Wenceslao Agnir, Jr., and re-docketed as Criminal Cases Nos. Q-99-81679 to Q-99-81689.
(15) Before the accused could be arraigned, prosecution witnesses Eduardo de los Reyes,
Corazon de la Cruz, Armando Capili and Jane Gomez recanted their affidavits which
implicated respondent Lacson in the murder of the KBG members.
On the other hand, private complainants Myrna Abalora, 15 Leonora Amora,16 Nenita Alapap,17 Imelda
Montero,18 Margarita
Redillas,19 Carmelita
Elcamel20 and
Rolando
Siplon21 also executed their respective affidavits of desistance declaring that they were no
longer interested to prosecute these cases.22
(16) Due to these developments, the twenty-six (26) accused, including respondent Lacson,

filed five separate but identical motions to (1) make a judicial determination of the existence
of probable cause for the issuance of warrants of arrest; (2) hold in abeyance the issuance of
the warrants, and (3) dismiss the cases should the trial court find lack of probable cause.
(17) The records of the case before us are not clear whether the private offended parties
were notified of the hearing on March 22, 1999 23 held by Judge Agnir to resolve the motions
filed by respondent Lacson and the other accused.
(18) During the said hearing, the private offended parties who desisted do not appear to
have been presented on the witness stand. In their stead, Atty. Godwin Valdez testified that
he assisted them in preparing their affidavits of desistance and that he signed said affidavits
as witness. On the other hand, Atty. Aurora Bautista of the Philippine Lawyer's League
presented the affidavits of recantation of prosecution witnesses Eduardo de los Reyes,
Armando Capili and Jane Gomez. Only prosecution witness Corazon de la Cruz testified to
affirm her affidavit.24
(19) On March 29, 1999, Judge Agnir issued a Resolution 25 dismissing Criminal Cases Nos.
Q-99-81679 to Q-99-81689, as follows:
"As already seen, the documents attached to the Informations in support thereof have
been rendered meaningless, if not absurd, with the recantation of the principal
prosecution witnesses and the desistance of the private complainants. There is no
more evidence to show that a crime has been committed and that the accused are
probably guilty thereof. Following the doctrine above-cited, there is no more reason to
hold the accused for trial and further expose them to an open and public accusation.
It is time to write finis to these cases and lay to rest the ghost of the incident of May
18, 1995 so that all those involved--- the accused, the prosecution witnesses and the
private complainants alike--- may get on with their lives.
The Court is not unmindful of the admonition in the recent case of People vs. Court of
Appeals (G.R. No. 126005, January 21, 1999) where the Supreme Court said that the
general rule is that 'if the Information is valid on its face and there is no showing of
manifest error, grave abuse of discretion or prejudice on the part of the public
prosecutor, courts should not dismiss it for want of evidence, because evidentiary
matters should be presented and heard during the trial', and that the ruling in Allado
vs. Diokno 'is an exception to the general rule and may be invoked only if similar
circumstances are clearly shown to exist.'
This Court holds that the circumstances in the case at bench clearly make an
exception to the general rule.
WHEREFORE, in view of the foregoing, the Court finds no probable cause for the
issuance of the warrants of arrest against the accused or to hold them for trial.
Accordingly, the Informations in the above-numbered cases are hereby ordered
dismissed."
SO ORDERED."26
(20) On March 27, 2001, PNP Director Leandro R. Mendoza indorsed to the Department of
Justice the new affidavits of P/Insp. Ysmael S. Yu and P/S Insp. Abelardo Ramos regarding
the Kuratong Baleleng incident for preliminary investigation. On the strength of this
indorsement, Secretary of Justice Hernando B. Perez formed a panel to investigate the
matter. On April 17, 2001, the respondent was subpoenaed to attend the investigation of
Criminal Cases Nos. Q-99-81679 to Q-99-81689. 27
(21) On May 28, 2001, respondent Lacson, et al., invoking, among others, their
constitutional right against double jeopardy, filed a petition for prohibition with application
for temporary restraining order and/or writ of preliminary injunction with the Regional Trial
Court of Manila, primarily to enjoin the State prosecutors from conducting the preliminary
investigation. The petition was docketed as Civil Case No. 01-100933 and raffled to Branch

40, presided by Judge Herminia V. Pasamba.28


(22) The plea for temporary restraining order was denied by Judge Pasamba in an
Order29 dated June 5, 2001,viz:
"After a study, this Court submits that the dismissal of Criminal Cases Nos. Q-9981679 to Q-99-81689 is not one on the merits and without any recorded arraignment
and entered plea on the part of the herein petitioners. The dismissal was a direct
consequence of the finding of the Quezon City RTC that no probable cause exists for
the issuance of warrants of arrest against petitioners herein and to hold them for trial.
The arraignment had with the Sandiganbayan does not put the case in a different
perspective since theSandiganbayan was adjudged to be without any jurisdiction to
try the cases. It is the People of the Philippines who is the complainant in the
Kuratong Baleleng case and remains to be the complainant in the present
investigation initiated thru a letter of PNP Chief Mendoza dated March 27, 2001
(Exhibit "B") together with the sworn statements of witnesses Ramos and Yu (Exhibits
"2" and "3" - supportive of the refiling of the case (Exhibit "9").
xxx

xxx

xxx

Above considered, this Court finds petitioners have not preliminarily established that
they have a right to be preserved pending hearing on the injunctive relief.
WHEREFORE, the prayer for temporary restraining order is hereby DENIED.
SO ORDERED."30
(23) On June 6, 2001, eleven (11) Informations for murder involving the killing of the same
members of theKuratong Baleleng gang were filed before the Regional Trial Court of Quezon
City and were docketed as Criminal Cases Nos. 01-101102 to 01-101112. The new
Informations charged as principals thirty-four (34) people, including respondent Lacson and
his twenty-five (25) other co-accused in Criminal Cases Nos. Q-99-81679 to Q-99-81689. The
criminal cases were assigned to Judge Ma. Theresa L. Yadao.
(24) On the same day, respondent Lacson filed before the Court of Appeals a petition for
certiorari31 against Judge Pasamba, the Secretary of Justice, the PNP Chief, State
Prosecutors Ong and Zacarias, 2nd Assistant City Prosecutor Jamolin, and the People of the
Philippines. The said petition was amended to implead as additional party-respondents State
Prosecutor Claro Arellano and the RTC, Quezon City, Branch 81 in which the Informations in
Criminal Cases Nos. 01-101102 to 01-101112 were filed. 32
(25) The Second Amended Petition33 dated June 14, 2001 and admitted by the Court of
Appeals on June 26, 2001, alleged:
"The reliefs of certiorari, prohibition and injunction against the questioned Order
(Annex A) and the new Informations in Criminal Cases Nos. 01-101102 to 01-101112
pending before respondent Yadao (Annex B) are founded upon the grave abuse of
discretion by respondent Judge Pasamba of her discretion in its issuance, the illegality
of the proceedings of the respondent State Prosecutors as they cannot revive
complaints which had been dismissed over two (2) years from the date the dismissal
order was issued, and the invalidity of the new Informations for Murder filed against
petitioners and others, all in defiance of law and jurisprudence as shown by the
following:
(a) Respondent judge had ruled on the merits of the main prohibition action a
quo rendering the same moot and academic by concluding that the dismissal of
Criminal Cases Nos. Q-99-81679-Q-99-81689 by the QC RTC was not final and
executory, hence [i] the complaints therein can be reinvestigated, and [ii] petitioner's
arraignment while the case had not yet been remanded to the QC RTC and while
the Sandiganbayan had valid jurisdiction thereover [Criminal Cases No. 23047-2048]
was void, notwithstanding that the only issue in the TRO application was the existence

or lack of a valid complaint as defined in S1 and S3, Rule 110.


(b) Respondent Judge ruled that respondent State Prosecutors could proceed to reinvestigate and thereafter file new Informations on June 6, 2001 covering those
offenses subject of Criminal Cases Nos. Q-99-81679-Q-99-81689 on the basis of
affidavits filed after said cases were dismissed on March 29, 1999, despite the fact
that under Section 8, Rule 117, cases similar to those filed against the petitioner and
others (where the penalty imposable is imprisonment of six (6) years or more) cannot
be revived after two (2) years from the date the dismissal order was issued.
(c) Respondent Judge held that the petitioner had not shown a right to be preserved
despite evidence showing the short cuts taken by respondent State prosecutors in reinvestigating a dismissed case, in not complying with Rules in respect of its reopening, and in insisting that a valid complaint was filed in clear violation of the Rules
and case law thereon, and despite the fact that the petitioner had shown that an
inextendible deadline of June 5, 2001 was given him to file his counter-affidavit
without which his indictment for a non-bailable offense is assured because of DOJ
Secretary Hernando Perez's political schemes."34
(26) In the meantime, on June 8, 2001, respondent Lacson also filed with the RTC-QC Branch
81 (presided by Judge Ma. Theresa Yadao), a Motion for Judicial Determination of Probable
Cause and in the absence thereof, to dismiss the cases outright. Respondent Lacson,
however, filed a Manifestation and Motion dated June 13, 2001 seeking the suspension of the
proceedings before the trial court.35
(27) The Court of Appeals issued a temporary restraining order enjoining Judge Yadao from
issuing a warrant of arrest or conducting any proceeding or hearing in Criminal Cases Nos.
01-101102 to 01-101112.36
(28) On August 24, 2001, the Court of Appeals (Special Third Division), rendered the now
assailed Decision. It characterized the termination of Criminal Cases Nos. Q-99-81679 to Q99-81689 as "provisional dismissal," and considered Criminal Cases Nos. 01-101102 to 01101112 as mere revivals of the same. Applying Section 8, Rule 117 of the 2000 Revised
Rules of Criminal Procedure, it dismissed the criminal cases against the respondent, viz:
"In sum, this Court is of the considered view that the subject dismissal of [the]
criminal cases was provisional in nature and that the cases presently sought to be
prosecuted by the respondents are mere revival or re-opening of the dismissed cases.
The present controversy, being one involving "provisional dismissal" and revival of
criminal cases, falls within the purview of the prescriptive period provided under
Section 8, Rule 117 of the 2000 Revised Rules of Criminal Procedure. The second
paragraph of the said provision is couched in clear, simple and categorical words. It
mandates that for offenses punishable by imprisonment of more than six (6) years, as
the subject criminal cases, their provisional dismissal shall become permanent two (2)
years after the issuance of the order without the case having been revived. It should
be noted that the revival of the subject criminal cases, even if reckoned from the
DOJ's issuance of subpoenas to petitioner, was commenced only on April 19, 2001,
that is, more than two (2) years after the issuance, on March 29, 1999, of RTC-Quezon
City's Resolution, provisionally dismissing the criminal cases now sought to be
revived. Applying the clear and categorical mandate of Section 8, Rule 117, supra,
such efforts to revive the criminal cases are now definitely barred by the two-year
prescriptive period provided therein.
xxx

xxx

xxx

WHEREFORE, the petition is GRANTED. As prayed for, the Temporary Restraining


Order earlier issued against the conduct of further proceedings in Criminal Cases
Nos. 01-101102 to 01-101112, including the issuance of warrants of arrest against the
petitioner, PANFILO M. LACSON, is hereby made PERMANENT. Accordingly, with

respect to said accused, the proceedings conducted by respondent State Prosecutors


in respect of the said criminal cases are declared NULL AND VOID and the
corresponding Informations, docketed as Criminal Cases Nos. 01-101102 to 01101112, entitled 'People of the Philippines vs. Panfilo M. Lacson, et al." and filed
before respondent Judge Maria Theresa L. Yadao of Branch 81 of the Regional Trial
Court of Quezon City, are hereby ordered DISMISSED.
SO ORDERED."37
The issue is whether Section 8, Rule 117 bars the filing of the eleven (11) informations
against the respondent Lacson involving the killing of some members of the Kuratong
Baleleng gang. This rule which took effect on December 1, 2000 provides:
"SEC. 8. Provisional dismissal.- A case shall not be provisionally dismissed except with
the express consent of the accused and with notice to the offended party.
The provisional dismissal of offenses punishable by imprisonment not exceeding six
(6) years or a fine of any amount, or both, shall become permanent one (1) year after
issuance of the order without the case having been revived. With respect to offenses
punishable by imprisonment of more than six (6) years, their provisional dismissal
shall become permanent two (2) years after issuance of the order without the case
having been revived."
Like any other favorable procedural rule, this new rule can be given retroactive effect.
However, this Court cannot rule on this jugular issue due to the lack of sufficient factual
bases. Thus, there is need of proof of the following facts, viz: (1) whether the provisional
dismissal of the cases had the express consent of the accused; (2) whether it was ordered by
the court after notice to the offended party, (3) whether the 2-year period to revive has
already lapsed, and (4) whether there is any justification for the filing of the cases beyond
the 2-year period.
There is no uncertainty with respect to the fact that the provisional dismissal of the cases
against respondent Lacson bears his express consent. It was respondent Lacson himself who
moved to dismiss the subject cases for lack of probable cause before then Judge Agnir,
hence, it is beyond argument that their dismissal bears his express consent.
The records of the case, however, do not reveal with equal clarity and conclusiveness
whether notices to the offended parties were given before the cases against the respondent
Lacson were dismissed by then Judge Agnir. It appears from the resolution of then Judge
Agnir that the relatives of the victims who desisted did not appear during the hearing to
affirm their affidavits. Their affidavits of desistance were only presented by Atty. Godwin
Valdez who testified that he assisted the private complainants in preparing their affidavits
and he signed them as a witness. It also appears that only seven (7) persons submitted their
affidavits of desistance, namely:
a. Myrna Abalora, mother of the victims Sherwin Abalora and Rey Abalora
b. Carmelita Elcamel, wife of Wilbur Elcamel;
c. Leonora Amora, mother of victim Joel Amora;
d. Nenita Alap-ap, wife of victim Carlito Alap-ap;
e. Imelda Montero, wife of victim Manuel Montero;
f. Margarita Redillas, mother of victim Hilario Jevy Redillas; and
g. Rolando Siplon.
From the records of the case before us, it cannot be determined whether there were
affidavits of desistance executed by the relatives of the three (3) 38 other victims, namely:
Meleubren Soronda, Pacifico Montero, Jr., and Alex Neri. The same records do not show
whether they were notified of the hearing or had knowledge thereof. To be sure, it is not fair

to expect the element of notice to be litigated before then Judge Agnir for Section 8, Rule
117 was yet inexistent at that time.
The fact of notice to the offended parties was not raised either in the petition for prohibition
with application for temporary restraining order or writ of preliminary injunction filed by
respondent Lacson in the RTC of Manila, presided by Judge Pasamba, to enjoin the
prosecutors from reinvestigating the said cases against him. The only question raised in said
petition is whether the reinvestigation will violate the right of respondent Lacson against
double jeopardy. Thus, the issue of whether or not the reinvestigation is barred by Section 8,
Rule 117 was not tackled by the litigants.
Nor was the fact of notice to the offended parties the subject of proof after the eleven (11)
informations for murder against respondent Lacson and company were revived in the RTC of
Quezon City presided by Judge Yadao. There was hardly any proceeding conducted in the
case for respondent Lacson immediately filed a petition for certiorari in the appellate court
challenging, among others, the authority of Judge Yadao to entertain the revived
informations for multiple murder against him.
This is not to be wondered at. The applicability of Section 8, Rule 117 was never considered
in the trial court. It was in the Court of Appeals where respondent Lacson raised for the first
time the argument that Section 8, Rule 117 bars the revival of the multiple murder cases
against him. But even then, the appellate court did not require the parties to elucidate the
crucial issue of whether notices were given to the offended parties before Judge Agnir
ordered the dismissal of the cases against respondent Lacson and company. To be sure,
there is a statement in the Decision of the appellate court to the effect that "records show
that the prosecution and the private offended parties were notified of the hearing x x x." 39 It
is doubtful whether this finding is supported by the records of the case. It appears to be
contrary to Judge Agnir's finding that only seven (7) of the complainants submitted affidavits
of desistance.
Indeed, the records of this case are inconclusive on the factual issue of whether the multiple
murder cases against respondent Lacson are being revived within or beyond the 2-year bar.
The reckoning date of the 2-year bar has to be first determined - - - whether it is from the
date of the Order of then Judge Agnir dismissing the cases or from the dates the Order were
received by the various offended parties or from the date of the effectivity of the new rule.
If the cases were revived only after the 2-year bar, the State must be given the opportunity
to justify its failure to comply with said timeline. The new rule fixes a timeline to penalize the
State for its inexcusable delay in prosecuting cases already filed in courts. It can therefore
present compelling reasons to justify the revival of cases beyond the 2-year bar.
In light of the lack of or the conflicting evidence on the various requirements to determine
the applicability of Section 8, Rule 117, this Court is not in a position to rule whether or not
the re-filing of the cases for multiple murder against respondent Lacson should be enjoined.
Fundamental fairness requires that both the prosecution and the respondent Lacson should
be afforded the opportunity to be heard and to adduce evidence on the presence or absence
of the predicate facts upon which the application of the new rule depends. They involve
disputed facts and arguable questions of law. The reception of evidence on these various
issues cannot be done in this Court but before the trial court.
IN VIEW OF THE FOREGOING, the case at bar is remanded to the RTC - Quezon City,
Branch 81 so that the State prosecutors and the respondent Lacson can adduce evidence
and be heard on whether the requirements of Section 8, Rule 117 have been complied with
on the basis of the evidence of which the trial court should make a ruling on whether the
Informations in Criminal Cases Nos. 01-101102 to 01-101112 should be dismissed or not.
Pending the ruling, the trial court is restrained from issuing any warrant of arrest against
the respondent Lacson. Melo and Carpio, JJ., take no part.
SO ORDERED.

CENITA M. CARIAGA,
Petitioner,
- versus PEOPLE OF THE ,
Respondent.

G.R. No. 180010


Present:
CARPIO MORALES,
BRION,
BERSAMIN,
ABAD,* and
VILLARAMA, JR., JJ.
Promulgated:

July 30, 2010


x- -------------------------------------------------x
DECISION
CARPIO MORALES, J.:
In issue in the present petition for review is one of jurisdiction.
By Resolutions of May 28, 2007 and September 27, 2007, the Court of Appeals, in CAG.R. CR No. 29514, People of the Philippines v. Cenita Cariaga, dismissed the appeal
of Cenita Cariaga (petitioner) for lack of jurisdiction over the subject matter.
Petitioner, as the municipal treasurer of Cabatuan, Isabela with a Salary Grade of 24,
was charged before the Regional Trial Court (RTC) of Cauayan City in Isabela with
three counts of malversation of public funds, defined under Article 217 of the Revised
Penal Code.
The Information in the first case, Criminal Case No. 1293, reads:
That on or about the year 1993 or sometime prior or subsequent thereto in
the Municipality of Cabatuan, Province of Isabela, and within the
jurisdiction of this Honorable Court, the above-named accused, [C]ENITA
M. CARIAGA, a public officer, being the Municipal Treasurer of Cabatuan,
Isabela, and as such is accountable for taxes, fees and monies collected
and/or received by her by reason of her position, acting in relation to her
office and taking advantage of the same, did then and there, willfully,
unlawfully and feloniously take, misappropriate and convert to her personal
use the amount of TWO THOUSAND SEVEN HUNDRED EIGHTY FIVE
PESOS (P2,785.00) representing the remittance of the Municipality of
Cabatuan to the Provincial Government of Isabela as the latters share in
the real property taxes collected, which amount was not received by the
Provincial Government of Isabela, to the damage and prejudice of the

government in the amount aforestated.


CONTRARY TO LAW.[1] (underscoring supplied)
The two other Informations in the second and third criminal cases, Nos. 1294 and 1295,
contain the same allegations except the malversed amounts which areP25,627.38
and P20,735.13, respectively.[2]
Branch 20 of the Cauayan RTC, by Joint Decision of June 22, 2004,[3] convicted
petitioner in the three cases, disposing as follows:
WHEREFORE, finding the accused CENITA M. CARIAGA, GUILTY
beyond reasonable doubt of the crime of MALVERSATION for which she
is charged in the three (3) separate informations and in the absence of any
mitigating circumstance, hereby sentences her to suffer:
1. In Crim. Case No. Br.20-1293, an indeterminate penalty of from FOUR
(4) YEARS and ONE (1) DAY of PRISION CORRECCIONAL as
minimum to SEVEN (7) YEARS, FOUR (4) MONTHS and ONE (1) DAY
of PRISION MAYOR as maximum and its accessory penalty of perpetual
special disqualification and a fine of Two Thousand Seven Hundred Eighty
Five (P2,785.00) Pesos, without subsidiary imprisonment in case of
insolvency. Cost against the accused.
2. In Crim. Case No. 20-1294, an indeterminate penalty of from TEN (10)
YEARS and ONE (1) DAY of PRISION MAYOR as minimum to
EIGHTEEN (18) YEARS, EIGHT (8) MONTHS and ONE (1) DAY of
RECLUSION TEMPORAL as maximum and to suffer the accessory
penalty of perpetual special disqualification and to pay a fine of Twenty
Five Thousand Six Hundred Twenty Seven (P25,627.00) Pesos. She is
ordered to indemnify the Provincial Government of Isabela Twenty Five
Thousand Six Hundred Twenty Seven (P25,627.00) Pesos, without
subsidiary imprisonment in case of insolvency. Cost against the accused.
3. In Crim. Case No. 20-1295, an indeterminate penalty of from TEN (10)
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, and to suffer the accessory
penalty of perpetual special disqualification and a fine of Twenty Thousand
Seven Hundred Thirty (P20,730.00) Pesos, without subsidiary
imprisonment in case of insolvency. The bailbonds are cancelled. Costs
against the accused.
SO ORDERED.
Petitioner, through counsel, in time filed a Notice of Appeal, stating that he intended to
appeal the trial courts decision to the Court of Appeals.
By Resolution of May 28, 2007,[4] the Court of Appeals dismissed petitioners appeal

for lack of jurisdiction, holding that it is the Sandiganbayan which has exclusive
appellate jurisdiction thereon. Held the appellate court:
Concomitantly, jurisdiction over the offense is vested with the Regional
Trial Court considering that the position of Municipal Treasurer
corresponds to a salary grade below 27. Pursuant to Section 4 of
[Presidential Decree No. 1606, as amended by Republic Act No. 8249], it is
the Sandiganbayan, to the exclusion of all others, which enjoys
appellate jurisdiction over the offense. Evidently, the appeal to this Court
of the conviction for malversation of public funds was improperly and
improvidently made. (emphasis and underscoring supplied)
Petitioners Motion for Reconsideration was denied by Resolution of September 27,
2007.[5] Hence, the present petition for review, petitioner defining the issues as follows:
I.
WHETHER . . ., CONSIDERING THE CLEAR AND
GRAVE ERROR COMMITTED BY COUNSEL OF [PETITIONER]
AND OTHER EXTRA-ORDINARY CIRCUMSTANCES, THE
APPEAL OF [PETITIONER] WRONGFULLY DIRECTED TO
THE COURT OF APPEALS BE DISMISSED OUTRIGHTOR BE
ENDORSED AND TRANSMITTED TO THE SANDIGANBAYAN
WHERE THE APPEAL SHALL THEN PROCEED IN DUE
COURSE.
II.
WHETHER . . ., IN CONSIDERATION OF
SUBSTANTIAL JUSTICE IN A CRIMINAL CASE, NEW TRIAL BE
GRANTED TO THE PETITIONER TO BE UNDERTAKEN IN THE
SANDIGANBAYAN (ALTERNATIVELY IN THE REGIONAL
TRIAL COURT) SO THAT CRUCIAL EVIDENCE OF
PETITIONERBE ADMITTED.[6]
Petitioner, now admitting the procedural error committed by her former counsel,
implores the Court to relax the Rules to afford her an opportunity to fully ventilate her
appeal on the merits and requests the Court to endorse and transmit the records of the
cases to the Sandiganbayan in the interest of substantial justice.
Section 2 of Rule 50 of the Rules of Court provides:
SEC. 2. Dismissal of improper appeal to the Court of Appeals. x x x.
An appeal erroneously taken to the Court of Appeals shall not be
transferred to the appropriate court but shall be dismissed outright.
(emphasis and underscoring supplied)
That appellate jurisdiction in this case pertains to the Sandiganbayan is clear. Section 4
of Presidential Decree No. 1606,[7] as amended by Republic Act No. 8249, so directs:[8]
Sec. 4. Jurisdiction. The Sandiganbayan shall exercise exclusive

original jurisdiction in all cases involving:


xxxx
In cases where none of the accused are occupying positions
corresponding to Salary Grade 27 or higher, as prescribed in the said
Republic Act No. 6758, or military and PNP officers mentioned above,
exclusive original jurisdiction thereof shall be vested in the proper
regional trial court, metropolitan trial court, municipal trial court, and
municipal circuit trial court, as the case may be, pursuant to their
respective jurisdictions as provided in Batas Pambansa Blg. 129, as
amended.
The Sandiganbayan shall exercise exclusive appellate jurisdiction over
final judgments, resolutions or orders of regional trial courts whether
in the exercise of their own original jurisdiction or of their appellate
jurisdiction as herein provided. x x x (emphasis, italics and underscoring
supplied).
Since the appeal involves criminal cases, and the possibility of a person being deprived
of liberty due to a procedural lapse militates against the Courts dispensation of justice,
the Court grants petitioners plea for a relaxation of the Rules.
For rules of procedure must be viewed as tools to facilitate the attainment of justice,
such that any rigid and strict application thereof which results in technicalities tending to
frustrate substantial justice must always be avoided.[9]
In Ulep v. People,[10] the Court remanded the case to the Sandiganbayan when it found
that
x x x petitioners failure to designate the proper forum for her appeal was
inadvertent. The omission did not appear to be a dilatory tactic on her part.
Indeed, petitioner had more to lose had that been the case as her appeal
could be dismissed outright for lack of jurisdiction which was exactly
what happened in the CA.
The trial court, on the other hand, was duty bound to forward the
records of the case to the proper forum, the Sandiganbayan. It is
unfortunate that the RTC judge concerned ordered the pertinent records to
be forwarded to the wrong court, to the great prejudice of petitioner. Cases
involving government employees with a salary grade lower than 27 are
fairly common, albeit regrettably so. The judge was expected to know and
should have known the law and the rules of procedure. He should have
known when appeals are to be taken to the CA and when they should
be forwarded to the Sandiganbayan. He should have conscientiously and
carefully observed this responsibility specially in cases such as this where a
persons liberty was at stake. (emphasis and underscoring supplied)

The slapdash work of petitioners former counsel and the trial courts apparent ignorance
of the law effectively conspired to deny petitioner the remedial measures to question her
conviction.[11]
While the negligence of counsel generally binds the client, the Court has made
exceptions thereto, especially in criminal cases where reckless or gross negligence of
counsel deprives the client of due process of law; when its application will result in
outright deprivation of the clients liberty or property; or where the interests of justice so
require. [12] It can not be gainsaid that the case of petitioner can fall under any of these
exceptions.
Moreover, a more thorough review and appreciation of the evidence for the prosecution
and defense as well as a proper application of the imposable penalties in the present case
by the Sandiganbayan would do well to assuage petitioner that her appeal is decided
scrupulously.
WHEREFORE, the assailed Resolutions of the Court of Appeals in CA-G.R. CR No.
29514 are SET ASIDE. Let the records of the cases be FORWARDED to the
Sandiganbayan for proper disposition.
The Presiding Judge of Branch 20, Henedino P. Eduarte, of the Cauayan City Regional
Trial Court is WARNED against committing the same procedural error, under pain of
administrative sanction.
EN BANC
G.R. No. 131652 March 9, 1998
BAYANI M. ALONTE, petitioner,
vs.
HON. MAXIMO A. SAVELLANO JR., NATIONAL BUREAU OF INVESTIGATION and
PEOPLE OF THE PHILIPPINES, respondents.
G.R. No. 131728 March 9, 1998
BUENAVENTURA CONCEPCION, petitioner,
vs.
JUDGE MAXIMO SAVELLANO, JR., THE PEOPLE OF THE PHILIPPINES, and
JUVIELYN Y. PUNONGBAYAN, respondents.
VITUG, J.:
Pending before this Court are two separate petitions, one filed by petitioner Bayani M.
Alonte, docketed G.R. No. 131652, and the other by petitioner Buenaventura Concepcion,
docketed G.R. No. 131728, that assail the decision of respondent Judge Maximo A.

Savellano, Jr., of the Regional Trial Court ("RTC"), Branch 53, of Manila finding both
petitioners guilty beyond reasonable doubt of the crime of rape. The two petitions were
consolidated.
On 05 December 1996, an information for rape was filed against petitioners Bayani M.
Alonte, an incumbent Mayor of Bian, Laguna, and Buenaventura Concepcion predicated on
a complaint filed by Juvie-lyn Punongbayan. The information contained the following
averments; thus:
That on or about September 12, 1996, in Sto. Tomas, Bian, Laguna, and within the
jurisdiction of this Honorable court, the above named accused, who is the incumbent
mayor of Bian, Laguna after giving complainant-child drinking water which made her
dizzy and weak, did then and there willfully, unlawfully and feloniously have carnal
knowledge with said JUVIELYN PUNONGBAYAN against her will and consent, to her
damage and prejudice.
That accused Buenaventura "Wella" Concepcion without having participated as
principal or accessory assisted in the commission of the offense by bringing said
complainant child to the rest house of accused Bayani "Arthur" Alonte at Sto. Tomas,
Bian, Laguna and after receiving the amount of P1,000.00 left her alone with Bayani
Alonte who subsequently raped her.
Contrary to Law. 1
The case was docketed Criminal Case No. 9619-B and assigned by raffle to Branch 25 of the
RTC of Bian, Laguna, presided over by Judge Pablo B. Francisco.
On 13 December 1996, Juvie-lyn Punongbayan, through her counsel Attorney Remedios C.
Balbin, and Assistant Chief State Prosecutor ("ACSP") Leonardo Guiyab, Jr., filed with the
Office of the Court Administrator a Petition for a Change of Venue (docketed Administrative
Matter No. 97-1-12-RTC) to have the case transferred and tried by any of the Regional Trial
Courts in Metro Manila.
During the pendency of the petition for change of venue, or on 25 June 1997, Juvie-lyn
Punongbayan, assisted by her parents and counsel, executed an affidavit of desistance,
quoted herein in full, as follows:
AFFIDAVIT OF DESISTANCE
I, JUVIE-LYN YAMBAO PUNONGBAYAN, 17 years of age, a resident of No. 5 Uranus
Street, Congressional Avenue Subdivision, Quezon City, duly assisted by private legal
counsel and my parents, after having duly sworn in accordance with law, depose and
say:
1. That I am the Complainant in the rape case filed against Mayor Bayani "Arthur"
Alonte of Bian, Laguna, with the RTC-Branch 25 of Bian, Laguna;
2. That the case has been pending for some time, on preliminary issues, specifically,
(a) change of venue, filed with the Supreme Court; (b) propriety of the appeal to the
Court of Appeals, and after its denial by said court, brought to the Office of the
President, on the veracity of the findings of the Five-Man Investigating Panel of the
State Prosecutor's Office, and the Secretary of Justice, and (c) a hold-departure order
filed with the Bian Court.
3. That the legal process moves ever so slowly, and meanwhile, I have already lost two
(2) semesters of my college residence. And when the actual trial is held after all the
preliminary issues are finally resolved, I anticipate a still indefinite suspension of my
schooling to attend the hearings;
4. That during the entire period since I filed the case, my family has lived a most
abnormal life: my father and mother had to give up their jobs; my younger brother,
who is in fourth grade, had to stop his schooling, like myself;

5 That I do not blame anyone for the long, judicial process, I simply wish to stop and
live elsewhere with my family, where we can start life anew, and live normally once
again;
6. That I pray that I be allowed to withdraw my complaint for rape and the other
charge for child abuse wherein the Five-Man Investigating Panel of the Office of the
State Prosecutor found a prima facie case although the information has not been filed,
and that I will not at any time revive this, and related cases or file new cases, whether,
criminal, civil, and/or administrative, here or anywhere in the Philippines;
7 That I likewise realize that the execution of this Affidavit will put to doubt my
credibility as a witness-complainant;
8. That this is my final decision reached without fear or favor, premised on a
corresponding commitment that there will be no reprisals in whatever form, against
members of the police force or any other official of officer, my relatives and friends
who extended assistance to me in whatever way, in my search for justice.
WHEREOF, I affix my signature this 25 day of June, 1997, in Quezon City.
(Sgd) JUVIE-LYN Y. PUNONGBAYAN
Complainant
Assisted by:
(Sgd) ATTY. REMEDIOS C. BALBIN
Private Prosecutor
In the presence of:
(Sgd) PABLO PUNONGBAYAN
Father
(Sgd) JULIE Y. PUNONGBAYAN
Mother
SUBSCRIBED AND SWORN to before me this 25 day of June, 1997, in Quezon City.
(Sgd) Illegible
Administering Officer 2
On 28 June 1997, Atty. Ramon C. Casino, on behalf of petitioners, moved to have the petition
for change of venue dismissed on the ground that it had become moot in view of
complainant's affidavit of desistance. On 22 August 1997, ACSP Guiyab filed his comment on
the motion to dismiss. Guiyab asserted that he was not aware of the desistance of private
complainant and opined that the desistance, in any case, would not produce any legal effect
since it was the public prosecutor who had direction and control of the prosecution of the
criminal action. He prayed for the denial of the motion to dismiss.
On 02 September 1997, this Court issued a Resolution (Administrative Matter No. 97-1-12RTC), granting the petition for change of venue. The Court said:
These affidavits give specific names, dates, and methods being used to abort, by
coercion or corruption, the prosecution of Criminal Case No. 9619-B. It is thus
incorrect for oppositors Alonte and Concepcion to contend that the fear of the
petitioner, her private counsel and her witnesses are too generalized if not fabricated.
Indeed, the probability that in desisting from pursuing her complaint for rape,
petitioner, a minor, may have succumbed to some illicit influence and undue pressure.
To prevent possible miscarriage of justice is a good excuse to grant the petition to
transfer the venue of Criminal Case No. 9619-B from Bian, Laguna to the City of

Manila.
IN VIEW WHEREOF, the Petition for Change of Venue from Bian, Laguna to the City
of Manila is granted. The Executive Judge of RTC Manila is ordered to raffle Crim.
Case No. 9619-B to any of its branches. The judge to whom Crim. Case No. 9619-B
shall be raffled shall resolve the petitioner's Motion to Resume Proceedings filed in Br.
XXV of the RTC of Bian, Laguna and determine the voluntariness and validity of
petitioner's desistance in light of the opposition of the public prosecutor, Asst. Chief
State Prosecutor Leonardo Guiyab. The branch clerk of court of Br. XXV of the RTC of
Bian, Laguna is ordered to personally deliver to the Executive Judge of Manila the
complete records of Crim. Case No. 9619-B upon receipt of this Resolution. 3
On 17 September 1997, the case, now re-docketed Criminal Case No. 97-159955 by the
Clerk of Court of Manila, was assigned by raffle to Branch 53, RTC Manila, with respondent
Judge Maximo A. Savellano, Jr., presiding.
On 07 October 1997, Juvie-lyn Punongbayan, through Attorney Balbin, submitted to the
Manila court a "compliance" where she reiterated "her decision to abide by her Affidavit of
Desistance."
In an Order, dated 09 October 1997, Judge Savellano found probable cause for the issuance
of warrants for the arrest of petitioners Alonte and Concepcion "without prejudice to, and
independent of, this Court's separate determination as the trier of facts, of the voluntariness
and validity of the [private complainant's] desistance in the light of the opposition of the
public prosecutor, Asst. Chief State Prosecutor Leonardo Guiyab."
On 02 November 1997, Alonte voluntarily surrendered himself to Director Santiago Toledo
of the National Bureau of Investigation ("NBI"), while Concepcion, in his case, posted the
recommended bail of P150,000.00.
On 07 November 1997, petitioners were arraigned and both pleaded "not guilty" to the
charge. The parties manifested that they were waiving pre-trial. The proceedings forthwith
went on. Per Judge Savellano, both parties agreed to proceed with the trial of the case on
the merits. 4 According to Alonte, however, Judge Savellano allowed the prosecution to present
evidence relative only to the question of the voluntariness and validity of the affidavit of
desistance. 5
It would appear that immediately following the arraignment, the prosecution presented
private complainant Juvielyn Punongbayan followed by her parents. During this hearing,
Punongbayan affirmed the validity and voluntariness of her affidavit of desistance. She
stated that she had no intention of giving positive testimony in support of the charges
against Alonte and had no interest in further prosecuting the action. Punongbayan
confirmed: (i) That she was compelled to desist because of the harassment she was
experiencing from the media, (ii) that no pressures nor influence were exerted upon her to
sign the affidavit of desistance, and (iii) that neither she nor her parents received a single
centavo from anybody to secure the affidavit of desistance.
Assistant State Prosecutor Marilyn Campomanes then presented, in sequence: (i)
Punongbayan's parents, who affirmed their signatures on the affidavit of desistance and
their consent to their daughter's decision to desist from the case, and (ii) Assistant
Provincial Prosecutor Alberto Nofuente, who attested that the affidavit of desistance was
signed by Punongbayan and her parents in his presence and that he was satisfied that the
same was executed freely and voluntarily. Finally, Campomanes manifested that in light of
the decision of private complainant and her parents not to pursue the case, the State had no
further evidence against the accused to prove the guilt of the accused. She, then, moved for
the "dismissal of the case" against both Alonte and Concepcion.
Thereupon, respondent judge said that "the case was submitted for decision." 6
On 10 November 1997, petitioner Alonte filed an "Urgent Motion to Admit to Bail." Assistant

State Prosecutor Campomanes, in a Comment filed on the same date, stated that the State
interposed "no objection to the granting of bail and in fact Justice and Equity dictates that it
joins the accused in his prayer for the granting of bail."
Respondent judge did not act on the application for bail.
On 17 November 1997, Alonte filed anew an Urgent Plea to Resolve the Motion for Bail. On
even date, ASP Campomanes filed a Manifestation deeming "it proper and in accord with
justice and fair play to join the aforestated motion."
Again, the respondent judge did not act on the urgent motion.
The records would indicate that on the 25th November 1997, 1st December 1997, 8th
December 1997 and 10th December 1997, petitioner Alonte filed a Second, Third, Fourth
and Fifth Motion for Early Resolution, respectively, in respect of his application for bail.
None of these motions were acted upon by Judge Savellano.
On 17 December 1997, Attorney Philip Sigfrid A. Fortun, the lead counsel for petitioner
Alonte received a notice from the RTC Manila. Branch 53, notifying him of the schedule of
promulgation, on 18 December 1997, of the decision on the case. The counsel for accused
Concepcion denied having received any notice of the scheduled promulgation.
On 18 December 1997, after the case was called, Atty. Sigrid Fortun and Atty. Jose
Flaminiano manifested that Alonte could not attend the promulgation of the decision
because he was suffering from mild hypertension and was confined at the NBI clinic and
that, upon the other hand, petitioner Concepcion and his counsel would appear not to have
been notified of the proceedings. The promulgation, nevertheless, of the decision
proceeded in absentia; the reading concluded:
WHEREFORE, judgment is hereby rendered finding the two (2) accused Mayor Bayani
Alonte and Buenaventura "Wella" Concepcion guilty beyond reasonable doubt of the
heinous crime of RAPE, as defined and penalized under Article 335(2) in relation to
Article 27 of the Revised Penal Code, as amended by Republic Act No. 7659, for which
each one of the them is hereby sentenced to suffer the indivisible penalty
of RECLUSION PERPETUA or imprisonment for twenty (20) years and one (1) day to
forty (40) years.
In view thereof, the bail bond put up by the accused Buenaventura "Wella'"
Concepcion for his provisional liberty is hereby cancelled and rendered without any
further force and effect.
SO ORDERED. 7
On the same day of 18th December 1997, petitioner Alonte filed a motion for
reconsideration. Without waiting for its resolution, Alonte filed the instant "Ex Abundante Ad
Cautelam" for "Certiorari, Prohibition, Habeas Corpus, Bail, Recusation of respondent Judge,
and for Disciplinary Action against an RTC Judge." Petitioner Concepcion later filed his own
petition for certiorari and mandamus with the Court.
Alonte submits the following grounds in support of his petition seeking to have the decision
nullified and the case remanded for new trial; thus:
The respondent Judge committed grave abuse of discretion amounting to lack or
excess of jurisdiction when he rendered a Decision in the case a quo (Annex A)
without affording the petitioner his Constitutional right to due process of law (Article
III, 1, Constitution).
The respondent Judge committed grave abuse of discretion amounting to lack or
excess of jurisdiction when he rendered a Decision in the case a quo in violation of the
mandatory provisions of the Rules on Criminal Procedure, specifically, in the conduct
and order of trial (Rule 119) prior to the promulgation of a judgment (Rule 120; Annex
A).

The respondent Judge committed grave abuse of discretion amounting to lack or


excess of jurisdiction when, in total disregard of the Revised Rules on Evidence and
existing doctrinal jurisprudence, he rendered a Decision in the case a quo (Annex A)
on the basis of two (2) affidavits (Punongbayan's and Balbin's) which were neither
marked nor offered into evidence by the prosecution, nor without giving the petitioner
an opportunity to cross-examine the affiantsthereof, again in violation of petitioner's
right to due process (Article III, 1, Constitution).
The respondent Judge committed grave abuse of discretion amounting to lack or
excess of jurisdiction when he rendered a Decision in the case a quo without
conducting a trial on the facts which would establish that complainant was raped by
petitioner (Rule 119, Article III, 1, Constitution), thereby setting a dangerous
precedent where heinous offenses can result in conviction without trial (then with
more reason that simpler offenses could end up with the same result). 8
On the other hand, Concepcion relies on the following grounds in support of his own
petition; thus:
1. The decision of the respondent Judge rendered in the course of resolving the
prosecution's motion to dismiss the case is a patent nullity for having been rendered
without jurisdiction, without the benefit of a trial and in total violation of the
petitioner's right to due process of law.
2. There had been no valid promulgation of judgment at least as far as petitioner is
concerned.
3. The decision had been rendered in gross violation of the right of the accused to a
fair trial by an impartial and neutral judge whose actuations and outlook of the case
had been motivated by a sinister desire to ride on the crest of media hype that
surrounded this case and use this case as a tool for his ambition for promotion to a
higher court.
4. The decision is patently contrary to law and the jurisprudence in so far as it
convicts the petitioner as a principal even though he has been charged only as an
accomplice in the information. 9
The petitions deserve some merit; the Court will disregard, in view of the case milieu, the
prematurity of petitioners' invocation, i.e., even before the trial court could resolve Alonte's
motion for reconsideration.
The Court must admit that it is puzzled by the somewhat strange way the case has
proceeded below. Per Judge Savellano, after the waiver by the parties of the pre-trial stage,
the trial of the case did proceed on the merits but that
The two (2) accused did not present any countervailing evidence during the trial. They
did not take the witness stand to refute or deny under oath the truth of the contents
of the private complainant's aforementioned affidavit which she expressly affirmed
and confirmed in Court, but, instead, thru their respective lawyers, they rested and
submitted the case for decision merely on the basis of the private complainant's so
called "desistance" which, to them, was sufficient enough for their purposes. They left
everything to the so-called "desistance" of the private complainant. 10
According to petitioners, however, there was no such trial for what was conducted on 07
November 1997, aside from the arraignment of the accused, was merely a proceeding in
conformity with the resolution of this Court in Administrative Case No. 97-1-12-RTC to
determine the validity and voluntariness of the affidavit of desistance executed by
Punongbayan.
It does seem to the Court that there has been undue precipitancy in the conduct of the
proceedings. Perhaps the problem could have well been avoided had not the basic
procedures been, to the Court's perception, taken lightly. And in this shortcoming, looking at

the records of the case, the trial court certainly is not alone to blame.
Section 14, paragraphs (1) and (2), of Article III, of the Constitution provides the
fundamentals.
(1) No person shall be held to answer for a criminal offense without due process of
law.
(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 is
unjustifiable.
Jurisprudence 11 acknowledges that due process in criminal proceedings, in particular, require
(a) that the court or tribunal trying the case is properly clothed with judicial power to hear and
determine the matter before it; (b) that jurisdiction is lawfully acquired by it over the person of
the accused; (c) that the accused is given an opportunity to be heard; and (d) that judgment is
rendered only upon lawful hearing. 12
The above constitutional and jurisprudential postulates, by now elementary and deeply
imbedded in our own criminal justice system, are mandatory and indispensable. The
principles find universal acceptance and are tersely expressed in the oft-quoted statement
that procedural due process cannot possibly be met without a "law which hears before it
condemns, which proceeds upon inquiry and renders judgment only after trial." 13
The order of trial in criminal cases is clearly spelled out in Section 3, Rule 119, of the Rules
of Court; viz:
Sec. 3. Order of trial. The trial shall proceed in the following order:
(a) The prosecution shall present evidence to prove the charge and, in the proper
case, the civil liability.
(b) The accused may present evidence to prove his defense, and damages, if any,
arising from the issuance of any provisional remedy in the case.
(c) The parties may then respectively present rebutting evidence only, unless the
court, in furtherance of justice, permits them to present additional evidence bearing
upon the main issue.
(d) Upon admission of the evidence, the case shall be deemed submitted for decision
unless the court directs the parties to argue orally or to submit memoranda.
(e) However, when the accused admits the act or omission charged in the complaint or
information but interposes a lawful defense, the order of trial may be modified
accordingly.
In Tabao vs. Espina, 14 the Court has underscored the need to adhere strictly to the above rules.
It reminds that
. . . each step in the trial process serves a specific purpose. In the trial of criminal
cases, the constitutional presumption of innocence in favor of an accused requires
that an accused be given sufficient opportunity to present his defense. So, with the
prosecution as to its evidence.
Hence, any deviation from the regular course of trial should always take into
consideration the rights of all the parties to the case, whether in the prosecution or
defense. In the exercise of their discretion, judges are sworn not only to uphold the
law but also to do what is fair and just. The judicial gavel should not be wielded by

one who has an unsound and distorted sense of justice and fairness. 15
While Judge Savellano has claimed in his Comment that
Petitioners-accused were each represented during the hearing on 07 November 1997
with their respective counsel of choice. None of their counsel interposed an intention
to cross-examine rape victim Juvielyn Punongbayan, even after she attested, in
answer to respondent judge's clarificatory questions, the voluntariness and truth of
her two affidavits one detailing the rape and the other detailing the attempts to buy
her desistance; the opportunity was missed/not used, hence waived. The rule of case
law is that the right to confront and cross-examine a witness "is a personal one and
may be waived." (emphasis supplied)
it should be pointed out, however, that the existence of the waiver must be positively
demonstrated. The standard of waiver requires that it "not only must be voluntary, but must
be knowing, intelligent, and done with sufficient awareness of the relevant circumstances
and likely consequences." 16 Mere silence of the holder of the right should not be so construed
as a waiver of right, and the courts must indulge every reasonable presumption against
waiver. 17 The Solicitor General has aptly discerned a few of the deviations from what otherwise
should have been the regular course of trial: (1) Petitioners have not been directed to present
evidence to prove their defenses nor have dates therefor been scheduled for the purpose; 18 (2)
the parties have not been given the opportunity to present rebutting evidence nor have dates
been set by respondent Judge for the purpose; 19 and (3) petitioners have not admitted the act
charged in the Information so as to justify any modification in the order of trial. 20 There can be
no short-cut to the legal process, and there can be no excuse for not affording an accused his full
day in court. Due process, rightly occupying the first and foremost place of honor in our Bill of
Rights, is an enshrined and invaluable right that cannot be denied even to the most undeserving.
This case, in fine, must be remanded for further proceedings. And, since the case would have
to be sent back to the court a quo, this ponencia has carefully avoided making any statement
or reference that might be misconstrued as prejudgment or as pre-empting the trial court in
the proper disposition of the case. The Court likewise deems it appropriate that all related
proceedings therein, including the petition for bail, should be subject to the proper
disposition of the trial court.
Nevertheless, it is needful to stress a few observations on the affidavit of desistance
executed by the complainant.
Firstly, the affidavit of desistance of Juvie-Lyn Punongbayan, hereinbefore quoted, does not
contain any statement that disavows the veracity of her complaint against petitioners but
merely seeks to "be allowed to withdraw" her complaint and to discontinue with the case for
varied other reasons. On this subject, the case ofPeople vs. Junio, 21 should be instructive.
The Court has there explained:
The appellant's submission that the execution of an Affidavit of Desistance by
complainant who was assisted by her mother supported the "inherent incredibility of
prosecution's evidence" is specious. We have said in so many cases that retractions
are generally unreliable and are looked upon with considerable disfavor by the courts.
The unreliable character of this document is shown by the fact that it is quite
incredible that after going through the process of having accused-appellant arrested
by the police, positively identifying him as the person who raped her, enduring the
humiliation of a physical examination of her private parts, and then repeating her
accusations in open court by recounting her anguish, Maryjane would suddenly turn
around and declare that "[a]fter a careful deliberation over the case, (she) find(s) that
the same does not merit or warrant criminal prosecution.
Thus, we have declared that at most the retraction is an afterthought which should
not be given probative value. It would be a dangerous rule to reject the testimony
taken before the court of justice simply because the witness who has given it later on
changed his mind for one reason or another. Such a rule will make a solemn trial a

mockery and place the investigation at the mercy of unscrupulous witnesses. Because
affidavits of retraction can easily be secured from poor and ignorant witnesses,
usually for monetary consideration, the Court has invariably regarded such affidavits
as exceedingly unreliable [Flores vs. People, 211 SCRA 622, citing De Guzman vs.
Intermediate Appellate Court, 184 SCRA 128; People vs. Galicia, 123 SCRA 550.] 22
The Junio rule is no different from ordinary criminal cases. For instance, in People
vs. Ballabare, 23 a murder case, the Court has ruled:
The contention has no merit. To begin with, the Affidavit executed by eyewitness
Tessie Asenita is not a recantation. To recant a prior statement is to renounce and
withdraw it formally and publicly. [36 WORDS AND PHRASES 683, citing Pradlik vs.
State, 41-A 2nd, 906, 907.] In her affidavit, Tessie Asenita did not really recant what
she had said during the trial. She only said she wanted to withdraw her testimony
because her father, Leonardo Tacadao, Sr., was no longer interested in prosecuting
the case against accused-appellant. Thus, her affidavit stated:
3. That inasmuch as my father, Leonardo Tacadao, Sr., the complainant therein, was
no longer interested to prosecute the case as manifested in the Sworn Affidavit of
Desistance before the Provincial Prosecutor, I do hereby WITHDRAW and/or REVOKE
my testimony of record to confirm (sic) with my father's desire;
It is absurd to disregard a testimony that has undergone trial and scrutiny by the
court and the parties simply because an affidavit withdrawing the testimony is
subsequently presented by the defense. In the first place, any recantation must be
tested in a public trial with sufficient opportunity given to the party adversely affected
by it to cross-examine the recanting witness. In this case, Tessie Asenita was not
recalled to the witness stand to testify on her affidavit. Her affidavit is thus hearsay. It
was her husband, Roque Asenita, who was presented and the matters he testified to
did not even bear on the substance of Tessie's affidavit. He testified that accusedappellant was not involved in the perpetration of the crime.
In the second place, to accept the new evidence uncritically would be to make a
solemn trial a mockery and place the investigation at the mercy of unscrupulous
witnesses. [De Guzman vs. Intermediate Appellate Court, 184 SCRA 128, 134, citing
People vs. Morales, 113 SCRA 683.] For even assuming that Tessie Asenita had made
a retraction, this circumstance alone does not require the court to disregard her
original testimony. A retraction does not necessarily negate an earlier declaration.
[People vs. Davatos, 229 SCRA 647.] For this reason, courts look with disfavor upon
retractions because they can easily be obtained from witnesses usually through
intimidation or for monetary considerations. [People vs. Clamor, 198 SCRA 642.]
Hence, when confronted with a situation where a witness recants his testimony,
courts must not automatically exclude the original testimony solely on the basis of the
recantation. They should determine which testimony should be given credence
through a comparison of the original testimony and the new testimony, applying the
general rules of evidence. [Reano vs. Court of Appeals, 165 SCRA 525.] In this case
we think the trial court correctly ruled. 24
It may not be amiss to state that courts have the inherent power to compel the attendance of
any person to testify in a case pending before it, and a party is not precluded from invoking
that authority. 25
Secondly, an affidavit of desistance by itself, even when construed as a pardon in the socalled "private crimes," is not a ground for the dismissal of the criminal case once the action
has been instituted. The affidavit, nevertheless, may, as so earlier intimated, possibly
constitute evidence whose weight or probative value, like any other piece of evidence, would
be up to the court for proper evaluation. The decision in Junio went on to hold
While "[t]he offenses of seduction, abduction, rape or acts of lasciviousness, shall not

be prosecuted except upon a complaint flied by the offended party or her parents,
grandparents, or guardian, nor in any case, if the offender has been expressly
pardoned by the above named persons, as the case may be," [Third par. of Art. 344,
The Revised Penal Code.] the pardon to justify the dismissal of the complaint should
have been made prior to the institution of the criminal action. [People vs. Entes, 103
SCRA 162, cited by People vs. Soliao, 194 SCRA 250, which in turn is cited in People
vs. Villorente, 210 SCRA 647.] Here, the motion to dismiss to which the affidavit of
desistance is attached was filed after the institution of the criminal case. And, affiant
did not appear to be serious in "signifying (her) intention to refrain from testifying"
since she still completed her testimony notwithstanding her earlier affidavit of
desistance. More, the affidavit is suspect considering that while it was dated "April
1992," it was only submitted sometime in August 1992, four (4) months after the
Information was filed before the court a quo on 6 April 1992, perhaps dated as such to
coincide with the actual filing of the case. 26
In People vs. Miranda, 27 applying the pertinent provisions of Article 344 of the Revised Penal
Code which, in full, states
Art. 344. Prosecution of the crimes of adultery, concubinage, seduction, abduction,
rape, and acts of lasciviousness. The crimes of adultery and concubinage shall not be
prosecuted except upon a complaint filed by the offended spouse.
The offended party cannot institute criminal prosecution without including both the
guilty parties, if they are both alive, nor, in any case, if he shall have consented or
pardoned the offenders.
The offenses of seduction, abduction, rape or acts of lasciviousness, shall not be
prosecuted except upon a complaint filed by the offended party or her parents,
grandparents, or guardian, nor, in any case, if the offender has been expressly
pardoned by the above named persons, as the case may be.
In cases of seduction, abduction, acts of lasciviousness and rape, the marriage of the
offender with the offended party shall extinguish the criminal action or remit the
penalty already imposed upon him. The provisions of this paragraph shall also be
applicable to the coprincipals, accomplices and accessories after the fact of the abovementioned crimes.
the Court said:
Paragraph 3 of the legal provision above quoted prohibits a prosecution for seduction,
abduction, rape, or acts of lasciviousness, except upon a complaint made by the
offended party or her parents, grandparents, or guardian, nor, in any case, if the
offender has been expressly pardoned by the above-named persons, as the case may
be. It does not prohibit the continuance of a prosecution if the offended party pardons
the offender after the cause has been instituted, nor does it order the dismissal of said
cause. The only act that according to article 344 extinguishes the penal action and the
penalty that may have been imposed is the marriage between the offended and the
offended party. 28
In People vs. Infante, 29 decided just a little over a month before Miranda, the Court similarly
held:
In this court, after the case had been submitted, a motion to dismiss was filed on
behalf of the appellant predicated on an affidavit executed by Manuel Artigas, Jr., in
which he pardoned his guilty spouse for her infidelity. But this attempted pardon
cannot prosper for two reasons. The second paragraph of article 344 of the Revised
Penal Code which is in question reads: "The offended party cannot institute criminal
prosecution without including both the guilty parties, if they are both alive, nor, in any
case, if he shall have consented or pardoned the offenders." This provision means that
the pardon afforded the offenders must come before the institution of the criminal

prosecution, and means, further, that both the offenders must be pardoned by the
offended party. To elucidate further, article 435 of the old Penal Code provided: "The
husband may at any time remit the penalty imposed upon his wife. In such case the
penalty imposed upon the wife's paramour shall also be deemed to be remitted."
These provisions of the old Penal Code became inoperative after the passage of Act
No. 1773, section 2, which had the effect of repealing the same. The Revised Penal
Code thereafter expressly repealed the old Penal Code, and in so doing did not have
the effect of reviving any of its provisions which were not in force. But with the
incorporation of the second paragraph of article 344, the pardon given by the
offended party again constitutes a bar to the prosecution for adultery. Once more,
however, it must be emphasized that this pardon must come before the institution of
the criminal prosecution and must be for both offenders to be effective
circumstances which do not concur in this case. 30
The decisions speak well for themselves, and the Court need not say more than what it has
heretofore already held.
Relative to the prayer for the disqualification of Judge Savellano from further hearing the
case, the Court is convinced that Judge Savellano should, given the circumstances, the best
excused from the case. Possible animosity between the personalities here involved may not
all be that unlikely. The pronouncement of this Court in the old case of Luque
vs. Kayanan 31 could again be said: All suitors are entitled to nothing short of the cold neutrality
of an independent, wholly-free, disinterested and unbiased tribunal. Second only to the duty of
rendering a just decision is the duty of doing it in a manner that will not arouse any suspicion as
to the fairness and integrity of the Judge. 32 It is not enough that a court is impartial, it must also
be perceived as impartial.
The Court cannot end this ponencia without a simple reminder on the use of proper
language before the courts. While the lawyer in promoting the cause of his client or
defending his rights might do so with fervor, simple courtesy demands that it be done within
the bounds of propriety and decency. The use of intemperate language and unkind
ascriptions hardly can be justified nor can have a place in the dignity of judicial forum.
Civility among members of the legal profession is a treasured tradition that must at no time
be lost to it.
Finally, it may be opportune to say, once again, that prosecutors are expected not merely to
discharge their duties with the highest degree or excellence, professionalism and skill but
also to act each time with utmost devotion and dedication to duty. 33 The Court is hopeful that
the zeal which has been exhibited many times in the past, although regrettably a disappointment
on few occasions, will not be wanting in the proceedings yet to follow.
WHEREFORE, conformably with all the foregoing, the Court hereby RULES that
(a) The submission of the "Affidavit of Desistance," executed by Juvie-Lyn Y.
Punongbayan on 25 June 1997, having been filed AFTER the institution of Criminal
Case No. 97-159935, DOES NOT WARRANT THE DISMISSAL of said criminal case;
(b) For FAILURE OF DUE PROCESS, the assailed judgment, dated 12 December 1997,
convicting petitioners is declared NULL AND VOID and thereby SET ASIDE;
accordingly, the case is REMANDED to the trial court for further proceedings; and
(c) Judge Maximo A. Savellano, Jr., presiding Judge of Branch 53 of the Regional Trial
Court of Manila, is ENJOINED from further hearing Criminal Case No. 97-159935;
instead, the case shall immediately be scheduled for raffle among the other branches
of that court for proper disposition.
No special pronouncement on costs.
SO ORDERED.
Melo, Kapunan, Martinez, Quisumbing and Purisima, JJ., concur.

Narvasa, C.J., took no part.

Separate Opinions
PUNO, J., separate opinion;
The facts are critical and need to be focused. Petitioners were charged with rape in Criminal
Case No. 15993 which was raffled to Br. 25 of the RTC of Bian, Laguna. The charge is
principally based on the following affidavit dated October 31, 1996 of Ms. Juvie-Lyn
Punongbayan, a 16-year old minor, viz.:
REPLY-AFFIDAVIT
(TUGON SA MGA SALAYSAY NILA MAYOR BAYANI ALONTE, WELLA CONCEPCION,
RICARDO LACAYAN at JAIME MENDOZA)
Ako si JUVIE-LYN Y. PUNONGBAYAN, Filipino, walang asawa, 16 years old, at
kasalukuyang nasa pangangalaga ng Department of Social Welfare and Development,
matapos makapanumpa ayon sa batas, ay nagsasaad:
1. Wala pong katotohanan ang lahat nakasaad sa mga salaysay ni Mayor Bayani
Alonte at Buenaventura "Wella" Concepcion, ng kanilang mga testigo na sila Ricardo
(Ading) Lacayan y Aguilar at Jaime Bagtas Mendoza.
2. Ang totoo po ay inabuso ako ni Mayor nung September 12, 1996, katulad nga ng
naihayag ko na sa aking sinumpaang salaysay. Ayon sa driver ng tricycle na nasakyan
ko pagkatapos ng insidente, hindi lang po ako, kundi marami pa pong babae ang
inabuso ni Mayor. Sabi pa nga ng driver ay naaawa siya sa akin, at lumaban daw ako.
Tinawagan ko na rin po ang lahat ng mga babae na naging biktima ni Mayor; wag
silang matakot, lumabas at ilahad ang pangaabuso ni Mayor.
Ang detalya nung panggagahasa
ni Alonte at ang partisipasyon
ni Wella Concepcion
3. Nakalahad po sa sumusunod na talata ang detalya ng pang-aabuso sa akin ni
Mayor. Pinakikita rin dito kung paano nakipagsabwatan kay Wella Concepcion. Sa
pamamagitan nito ay mapapabulaanan na rin ang mga nakasaad sa salaysay nila at ng
mga testigo nila.
4. Nakilala ko si Wella Concepcion, dance instructor, nung bandang last week ng
August 1996. Noon ay naghahanda ako para sa "Miss Education" beauty contest sa
Perpetual Help College of Laguna. Doon ako nag-aaral. First year college ako, at
education ang kursong pinili ko. Ang nasabing contest ay ginanap nung Sept. 20,
1996. Kapag nagkikita kami ni Wella para sa ensayo, nagkukuwentuhan din kami, at
nabanggit niya na may kaibigan siyang bakla na nagdadala ng babae kay Mayor
Alonte. Waway daw ang pangalan ng bakla. Hindi ko pa kilala si Waway noon.
5. Nung Sept. 7, niyaya ako ni Wella na sumali sa dance contest sa "Sang Linggo
NAPO SILA" sa Channel 2, na itatanghal sa Sept. 11, 1996. Wala na daw po akong
aalalahanin. Siya daw ang bahala sa costume at transportation. Pumayag ang nanay
ko, dahil wala na kaming gagastusin. Hindi ko tinanong kay Wella kung saan galing
ang costume. Akala ko may ipapagamit lang siya sa akin.
6. Nung Sept. 8, pinakilala ni Wella si Waway sa akin. Si Waway ang nagturo sa amin
ng sayaw para sa TV contest. Mula nung araw na yon hanggang Sept. 10 ay nagsanay

kami sa bahay ng kapatid ni Waway sa St. Francis Subdivision, Bian, Laguna. Tatlo
kami sa dance group: ako at ang dalawang lalaki na ipinakilala sa akin ni Waway: si
Melchor at Darius.
7. Nagpunta kami sa studio sa Delta nung Sept. 11. Bago kami magsayaw, habang
inaayos ni Wella yung damit ko, sinabi niya na dapat manalo kami dahil si Mayor
Alonte daw ang nag-sponsor ng costume namin. Noon ko lang ito nalaman. Hindi kami
nanalo sa contest, pero nagkaroon pa rin kami ng premyong P1,500.00 na pinaghatian
namin.
8. Pagkatapos ng contest, at nung nakapagpalit na ako ng damit, binabalik ko kay
Wella ang costume ko. Sabi niya iuwi ko daw ito dahil gagamitin ko ito sa Miss
Education contest, sa presentation ng mga candidates. Mula sa studio, nagpunta
kaming lahat sa isang kainan sa tapat ng Delta at, pagkatapos namin kumain,
humiwalay yung ibang kasama namin.
9. Dinala ako ni Wella sa isang department store at binili niya ako ng sandals. Inikot
niya ako sa lugar na yon at binili niya ako ng pagakain. Tapos ay sumakay kami ng bus
pauwi sa Laguna. Nung nasa bus kami, niyaya ako ni Wella na magpunta sa bahay ni
Mayor para magpasalamat ng personal para sa costume namin. Pumayag ako at sabi
ko kay Wella na sunduin niya ako sa bahay ng 10:00 a.m. sa susunod na araw, Sept.
12. Nakarating ako sa bahay ng 5:00 p.m. ng araw na yon, Sept. 11.
10. Nung Sept. 12, hinintay ko si Wella ng 10:00 a.m. Nung hindi siya dumating
umalis kaming Tita ko dahil sinamahan ko siya sa health center. Sumundo pala si
Wella doon, pero hindi kami nagkita kasi saglit lang kami doon. Bumalik siya sa bahay,
at doon na kami nagkita. Tapos ay umalis kami ni Wella papunta kay Mayor. Tumawid
kami ng kalye, at pumara ako ng tricycle. Pero kahit marami na akong pinara, ayaw ni
Wella na sumakay doon. Maya-maya, may tricyle na dumating na hindi naman pinara
ni Wella. Basta huminto na lang sa harap namin. Doon kami sumakay ni Wella. Si
Wella ang nagturo sa driver kung saan kami pupunta. Nag-uusap sila ng driver
habang papunta kami kay Mayor.
11. Bumaba kami sa tapat ng bahay na bukas ang gate. May swimming pool sa loob,
alam na alam ni Wella and, pasikot-sikot nang bahay; tuloy-tuloy siya sa loob at
sumunod naman ako. Wala kaming taong nakita, pero bukas pati yung pintuan ng
bahay. Dinala ako ni Wella sa sala. Napakaganda ng loob ng bahay. Mayroong wall
paper na may design na leaves and flowers; may carpet sa sahig. May mahabang
hagdan patungo sa dalawang pintuan.
12. Tinanong ko kay Wella kung nasaan si Mayor. Sabi niya ay nasa munisipyo daw;
darating na daw maya-maya. Pagkaraan ng mga 15 minutes, dumating si Mayor na
nakasakay sa green na kotse. Lumabas siya sa kaliwang pintuan sa harap ng kotse.
Wala siyang kasama.
13. Pumasok si Mayor sa loob ng bahay. Naghubad siya ng sapatos. Sabi ni Wella:
"Mayor, si Juvie; Juvie si Mayor."
14. Umupo si Mayor sa tabi ko. Kinamayan niya ako at sinabi niya: "Hi, I'm Arthur"
sabay hinalikan niya sa ako sa lips. Hindi ako naka-react dahil nagulat at kinabahan
ako.
15. Nagmamadaling nagpaalam si Wella. Kinuha ni Mayor ang wallet sa bulsa sa likod
ng kanyang pantalon. Dumukot siya ng P1,000 na buo. Inabot niya ito kay Wella.
Patayo na ako pero hinawakan ni Mayor ang braso ko. Wag daw akong sasama kay
Wella. Sinabi ko kay Wella na wag niya akong iiwanan, pero parang wala siyang
narinig. Basta tuloy-tuloy siyang umalis.
16. Nung, kami na lang ni Mayor ang natira, pinainom niya ako ng mineral water.
Uminom ako dahil nauuhaw ako. Nanlabo ang paningin ko at nanghina ako.

17. Nawalan ako ng malay. Ang sumunod ko na lang na natatandaan ay nandoon na


ako sa kwarto. Wala akong damit. Nakadagan si Mayor sa akin. May malaking salamin
sa pader. Doon ko nakita na walang kadamit-damit si Mayor.
18. Hawak ako ni Mayor sa magkabilang braso. Pinipisil niya ito kaya nagkaroon ako
ng pasa sa kaliwang braso (at ito ay nawala lang pagkatapos ng tatlong araw).
19. Naramdaman ko na pilit na pinasok ni Mayor ang ari niya sa aking ari. Nasaktan
ako. Nagmakaawa ako. Umiiyak ako nung sinabi ko sa kanya na tigilan niya ako;
nasasaktan ako; may anak rin siyang babae. Sabi niya wag daw akong maingay at iembrace ko na lang daw siya. Lalo akong umiyak dahil nandidiri ako sa kanya, at sa
ginagawa niya sa akin. Naghalo ang galit, pandidiri at takot. Wala akong magawa
kundi magmakaawa. Hindi ko siya maitulak dahil nanghihina ako, nakadagan siya sa
akin, mataba siya, at hawak-hawak niya ang braso ko. Pero kahit nagmamakaawa ako,
tinuloy pa rin niya at pinasok niya ulit ang ari niya sa aking ari.
20. Maya-maya ay tumigil siya. Tumayo siya at sabi niya: "ang panty mo, nasa tabi
mo." Kinuha ko ang panty ko, tumayo ako at sinuot ko ito. Hinanap ko ang damit ko,
at nakita ko ang walking shorts, bra at t-shirt ko sa sahig. Pinulot ko ito at sinuot ko.
Habang sinusuot ko, umiiyak pa rin ako. Pagkatapos kong magbihis, umupo ako sa
mahabang upuan sa may gilid ng kama.
21. Samantala, paqkatapos sabihin ni Mayor na nasa tabi ko ang panty ko, nagpunta
siya sa banyo na transparent ang pinto. Wala siyang suot pagpunta niya doon.
Paglabas niya, nakasuot na siya ng checkered brief na kulay black and white.
Pumunta siya sa kabilang gilid ng kama. Kinuha niya ang damit niya na nakahanger sa
pader. Sinuot niya ito. Lumabas siya ng kwarto. Hindi nagtagal ay pumasok siya ulit at
sinabi niya na nandiyan na daw ang sundo ko.
22. Tumayo ako. Sinabi ko na aalis na ako. Nung papunta na ako sa pintuan, lumapit
si Mayor sa akin. May hawak-hawak siyang dalawang pirasong P1,000. Tiniklop niya
ito; binaba niya yung neckline ng t-shirt ko, at pinasok niya ang pera sa aking bra.
Nagalit ako. Kinuha ko ang pera at tinapon ko ito sa kanya. Sabi ko hindi ako
bayarang babae. Nagalit siya at pinagbantaan ako. Sabi niya: "Pag nagsalita ka, alam
mo na kung ano ang mangyayari sa iyo." Tiningnan ko siya, at umalis ako pababa.
23. Mayroon tricycle na nakaabang sa labas. Sumunod si Mayor. Lumapit siya sa
driver at binigyan niya ito ng P100. Tapos ay umalis na kami.
24. Umiiyak pa rin ako nung nasa tricycle. Sabi ko sa driver na ginahasa ako ni Mayor.
Sabi niya masuwerte daw ako at maaga akong pinauwi dahil yung mga ibang babae
daw na dinadala kay Mayor ay pinauwi ng madaling-araw o hating-gabi. Minsan
dalawa o tatlo pa nga daw ang dinadala doon, at yung iba ay naka-uniform pa. Naawa
daw siya sa akin, kaya magsumbong daw ako. Nakokonsensiya daw siya dahil isa siya
sa dalawang tricycle driver na naghahatid ng mga babae doon. Sabi pa nga niya,
babae din daw ang ina niya, kaya din siya nakokonsensiya. Dinagdag pa niya na kung
may kasiyahan kina Mayor, isang van ng mga babae ang nadoon. Pagdating namin sa
bahay ng Lola ko, sabi niya bago siya umalis: "Lumaban ka."
On December 13, 1996, the private complainant thru her counsel, Atty. Remedios C. Balbin
and Asst. Chief State Prosecutor Leonardo Guiab, Jr., of the Department of Justice petitioned
this Court for a change of venue. They cited as ground the "great danger to the lives of both
the private complainant, the immediate members of her family, and their witnesses as they
openly defy the principal accused, Mayor Alonte who is acknowledged as a powerful political
figure and almost an institution in Bian, Laguna . . ."
On March 31, 1997, the private complainant, thru the then Secretary of Justice, the
Honorable Teofisto Guingona and Chief State Prosecutor Jovencio Zuno filed a Manifestation
and Motion for the early resolution of the petition for change of venue. They submitted the

affidavits of the private complainant, her counsel Atty. Remedios C. Balbin, Dolores MercadoYambao, Bienvenido Salandanan and Evelyn Celso to prove their allegation that they "are
exposed to kidnapping, harassment, veiled threats and tempting offers of bribe money all
intended to extract an 'affidavit of desistance' from the private complainant." Worth bright
lining are the two (2) affidavits of Atty. Remedios C. Balbin, counsel for the private
complainant, relating the fantastic amount of P10M bribe money allegedly offered to her.
The first affidavit dated February 24, 1997 states:
I, Remedios C. Balbin, of legal age, Filipino, married, with residence at #5 Uranus
Street, Congressional Avenue Subdivision, Quezon City, after having duly sworn in
accordance with law, depose and say:
1. That I am the Private Prosecutor in Criminal Case No. 96-19-B for rape, filed with
the Bian RTC, Branch 25, entitled "People of the Philippines vs. Bayani Arthur
Alonte, et al.;
2. That as Private Prosecutor, it is my avowed duty to be faithful to the interests of my
client, Ms. Juvie-lyn Punongbayan;
3. That on several occasions, I was visited at my Office at the Quezon City Hall
Compound, by a lawyer who introduced himself as Atty. Leo C. Romero, representing
the Accused Mayor Bayani Arthur Alonte;
4. That my calendar at the People's Bureau, Quezon City Hall, shows that he came to
see me about eight (8) times, but we talked only about three (3) times because I was
always busy attending to the problems of Quezon City's urban poor and the
landowners of private properties illegally occupied by them;
5. That in two (2) occasions, Atty. Romero conveyed to me the message of Mayor
Alonte, namely, to drop the rape case against him, and that he would give a
consideration of Ten Million Pesos (P10 Million) to be apportioned as follows:
Five Million Pesos (P5M) for the Private Complainant
Three Million Pesos (P3M) for me as Private Prosecutor
Two Million Pesos (P2M) for him as the mediator
6. That I explained to Atty. Romero that money does not matter at all to the
Complainant and her family even if they have very modest means; that they want
justice, which means a conviction for the charge of rape;
7. That I also explained to Atty. Romero that the money he was offering me was of no
consequence to me because I had access to the resources of my two (2) daughters,
both of whom are in the medical field abroad, and of Mr. Filomeno Balbin, Labor
Attached then assigned in Riyadh;
8. That I told him that I cannot be tempted with his offer because spiritual
consideration are more important to me than the material. Also, that I usually handle
cases pro bono (at abunado pa) where the litigant is in dire need of legal assistance
but cannot afford to pay for the lawyer's fees, as in Juvie-lyn's case;
9. That I gave Atty. Romero a copy of the decision of the Supreme Court promulgated
December 10 1996, entitled "People of the Philippines vs. Robert Cloud" (GR No.
119359: Crim. Case No. Q-90-12660) for parricide involving the death of a 2 1/2 year
old boy. I wrote on page one of the xerox copy of the decision: "To Atty. Leo Romero
so you will understand," and to which I affixed my signature.
10. That I told him explicitly: "we cannot simplify the entire proceedings. You advise
Mayor Alonte to surrender (one mitigating circumstance), plead guilty (another
mitigating circumstance), get a conviction and suffer the corresponding penalty.
Otherwise, we have nothing to talk about."

11. That I emphasized that his suggestion for Mayor Alonte to plead guilty to "act of
lasciviousness" merely was ridiculous;
12. That when the Complainant's Affidavit on the offer of Ms. Emily Vasquez for a
valuable consideration in exchange for an affidavit of desistance in the rape was
exposed by media, Atty. Romero came to see me and thanked me for not exposing him
in similar fashion. I assured him that he will not be an exception and that I was just
too busy then to execute an affidavit on the matter, as I do now;
13. That I have not received other similar offers of valuable material consideration
from any other person, whether private party or government official; However, I have
been separately advised by several concerned persons that I was placing my personal
safety at great risk. The victim's family will have great difficulty in finding another
lawyer to "adopt" them in the way I did, which gives them strength to pursue their
case with confidence and the accused Mayor is aware that I am the obstacle to an outof-court settlement of the case. Also, that I had my hands full, as it is, as the Head of
the QC People's Bureau, Housing Development Center, and Special Task Force an
Squatting and Resettlement, and the numerous cases filed by me or against me,
connected with my performance of official duties, and I should not add more legal
problems despite my authority to engage in private law practice.
14. That this affidavit is executed in order to put on record the attempt to influence
me directly, in exchange for valuable consideration to drop the rape charge against
Mayor Bayani Arthur Alonte.
February 24, 1997, City of Manila.
SGD. REMEDIOS C. BALBIN
REMEDIOS C. BALBIN
SUBSCRIBED AND SWORN to before me this 26th day of March, 1997, Metro Manila.
Community Tax Certificate 5208733
Date Issue 2-10-97
Quezon City
NOTARY PUBLIC
SGD. JUANITO L. GARCIA
ATTY. JUANITO L. GARCIA
NOTARY PUBLIC
UNTIL Dec. 31, 1997
PTR No. 63-T-033457
ISSUED AT MLA. ON 1-2-97
TAN161-570-81
Doc. No. 950;
Page No. 170;
Series of 1997.
In her second Affidavit dated March 26, 1997, Atty. Balbin declared in no uncertain language
that the bribe offer for private complainant to make a desistance was increased from
P10,000.00 to P20,000.00, viz:
REPUBLIC OF THE PHILIPPINES )

CITY OF MANILA ) s.s.


AFFIDAVIT
I, REMEDIOS C. BALBIN, of legal age, Filipino, married, and with postal address at No. 5
Uranus Street, Congressional Avenue Subdivision Quezon City, after having duly sworn in
accordance with law, depose and say:
1. That I am the Private Prosecutor in the rape case filed by the "minor Juvie-Lyn
Punongbayan against Mayor Bayani Arthur Alonte of Bian, Laguna.
2. That earlier, I reported to Secretary Teofisto Guingona, State Prosecutor Jovencio R. Zuno,
Asst. Chief State Prosecutor Leonardo Guiyab, Jr., and Director Jude Romano of the Witness
Protection Program, the instances of substantial amounts amounting to several millions, to
my client, to her relatives, including her maternal grandmother, and to myself;
3. That despite the published declaration by the Department of Justice of its determination
to prosecute those who offered the bribes, new emissaries of Mayor Alonte persist in making
offers, as follows:
a. On Thursday, March 6, 1997, at about 3:15 o'clock in the afternoon, Atty. Dionisio S. Daga
came to see me at my office at the People's Bureau, Office of the Mayor, of Squatting case
which I filed against his clients;
b. That after a brief exchange on the status of the case, he confided to me his real purpose;
c. That he started off by saying that he was the legal counsel of the gambling lords of
Malabon for which he gets a monthly retainer of fifteen thousand pesos (P15,000.00),
exclusive of transportation expenses, etc.
d. The he also stated that the network of gambling lords throughout the country is quite
strong and unified;
e. That I then asked him: "What do you mean is Alonte into gambling too? that he is part
of the network you speak of?"
f. That Atty. Daga did not reply but instead said: "they are prepared to double the offer made
to you by Atty. Romero which was published in the newspapers" at P10 Million;
g. That I told him that all the money in the world will not make me change my position
against my client's executing a desistance, and that only Alonte's voluntary surrender, plea
of guilty in rape, conviction and the imposition of the corresponding penalty will satisfy the
ends of justice;
h. That I told him that my client's case is not isolated, there being five (5) other minors
similarly placed; and Alonte should be stopped from doing more harm;
i. That Atty. Daga then told me in Pilipino "if you do not accede to a desistance, then, they
will be forced to . . .".
j. That because he did not complete his sentence, I asked him directly: "What do you mean?
What do you intend to do? And he replied: Go on with the case Buy the Judge."
k. That unbelieving, I reacted, saying; "but they have already done so, Judge Francisco at
Binan suddenly changed his attitude towards the Prosecution. Perhaps, you are referring to
the next judge when the petition for change of venue is finally granted?"
1. That Atty. Daga did not reply, and he reiterated that his principals, referring to them again
as "gambling lords," want a desistance, after which he excused himself and left.
4. That I execute this Affidavit to attest to the truth of the incident with Atty. Dionisio S.
Daga which occurred in the afternoon of March 6, 1997, at my Office, stressing herein my
surprise over his daring in making yet another monetary offer to me in exchange for my
client's desistance and my feeling of fear for the first time since I started "handling" this

case against Alonte;


5. That despite what I perceived as veiled threats of Atty. Daga, I will seek justice in behalf of
Juvie-Lyn Punongbayan, with the indispensable initiatives, participation and support of the
Department of Justice under Secretary Teofisto Guingona.
FURTHER AFFIANT SAYETH NAUGHT.
SGD.
REMEDIOS
BALBIN

C.

ATTY.
REMEDIOS
BALBIN

C.

Affiant
REPUBLIC OF THE PHILIPPINES )
CITY OF MANILA ) S.S.
SUBSCRIBED AND SWORN TO BEFORE ME this 26th day of March, 1997.
Community Tax Certificate 5208733
Date Issued 2-10-97
Quezon City
Notary Public
SGD. JUANITO L. GARCIA
ATTY. JUANITO L. GARCIA
NOTARY PUBLIC
UNTIL DEC. 31, 1997
PTR NO. 63-T-033457
ISSUED AT MLA. ON 1-287
TAN -161-570-81
Doc. No. 948;
Book No. 190;
Page No. XLIII;
Series of 1997.
After the alleged bribe money was increased from P10M to P20M the complexion of the case
changed swiftly.
On June 25, 1997, Atty. Balbin filed a Motion to Resume Proceedings in Br. 25 of the RTC of
Bian, Laguna. Attached to the Motion was the Affidavit of Desistance of the private
complainant which states:
I, Juvie-lyn Yambao Punongbayan, 17 years of age, a resident of No. 5 Uranus Street,
Congressional Avenue Subdivision, Quezon City, duly assisted by private legal counsel and
my parents, after having duly sworn in accordance with law, depose and say:
1. That I am the Complainant in the rape case filed against Mayor Bayani "Arthur" Alonte of
Bian, Laguna, with the RTC-Branch 25 of Binan, Laguna;
2. That the case has been pending for some time, on preliminary issues, specifically, (a)
change of venue, filed with the Supreme Court; (b) propriety of the appeal to the Court of

Appeals, and after its denial by said court, brought to the Office of the President, on the
veracity of the findings of the Five-Man Investigating Panel of the State Prosecutor's Office,
and the Secretary of Justice and (c) a hold-departure order filed with the Bian Court;
3. That the legal process moves ever so slowly, and meanwhile, I have already lost two (2)
semesters of my college residence. And when the actual trial is held after all the preliminary
issues are finally resolved, I anticipate a still indefinite suspension of my schooling to attend
the hearings;
4. That during the entire period since I filed the case, my family has lived a most abnormal
life: my father and mother had to give up their jobs; my younger brother, who is in fourth
grade, had to stop his schooling, like myself;
5. That I do not blame anyone for the long, judicial process; I simply wish to stop and live
elsewhere with my family, where we can start life anew, and live normally once again;
6. That I pray that I be allowed to withdraw my complaint for rape and the other charge for
child abuse wherein the Five-Man investigating Penal of the Office of the State Prosecutor
found a prima facie case although the information has not been filed, and that I will not at
any time revive this, and related cases or file new cases whether, criminal, civil and/or
administrative here or anywhere in the Philippines;
7. That I likewise realize that the execution of this Affidavit will put to doubt my credibility
as a witness-complainant;
8. That this is my final decision reached without fear or favor, premised on a corresponding
commitment that there will be no reprisals in whatever form, against members of the police
force or any friends who extended assistance to me in whatever way, in my search for
justice.
WHEREOF, I affix my signature, this 25th day of June, 1997, in Quezon City.
SGD. JUVIE-LYN Y. PUNONGBAYAN
JUVIE-LYN Y. PUNONGBAYAN
Assisted by:
SGD. REMEDIOS C. BALBIN
ATTY. REMEDIOS C. BALBIN
Private Prosecutor
In the presence of:
SGD. PABLO PUNONGBAYAN
PABLO PUNONGBAYAN
Father
SGD. JULIE Y. PUNONGBAYAN
JULIE Y. PUNONGBAYAN
Mother
SUBSCRIBED AND SWORN to before me this 25 the day of June, 1997, in Quezon City.
SGD. ILLEGIBLE
Administering Officer
RTC Branch 94
Quezon City

Obviously, the Motion to Resume Proceedings was intended to get the trial court's approval
for the dismissal of the rape case against the petitioners.
Indeed, three days thereafter or on June 28, 1997, Atty. Ramon C. Casino moved in behalf of
the petitioners to dismiss the petition for change of venue then pending in this Court citing
the affidavit of desistance of the private complainant. On August 22, 1997, however, Asst.
Chief State Prosecutor Guiyab opposed the motion. He alleged that he has control of the
prosecution of the rape case and that he was not aware of the desistance of the private
complainant.
The legal maneuvers to dismiss the rape case against the petitioners on the basis of the
alleged affidavit of desistance of the private complainant did not find the favor of this Court.
On September 2, 1997, this Court unanimously granted the petition for change of venue,
ruling among others, viz:
xxx xxx xxx
These affidavits give specific names, dates and methods being used to abort, by coercion or
corruption, the prosecution of Criminal Case No. 9619-B. It is thus incorrect for oppositors
Alonte and Concepcion to contend that the fear of the petitioner, her private counsel and her
witnesses are too generalized if not fabricated. Indeed, the probability that in desisting from
pursuing her complaint for rape, petitioner, a minor, may have succumbed to some illicit
influence and undue pressure. To prevent possible miscarriage of justice is good excuse to
grant the petition to transfer the venue of Criminal Case No. 9619-B from Bian, Laguna to
the City of Manila.
IN VIEW WHEREOF, the Petition for Change of Venue from Bian, Laguna to the City of
Manila is granted. The Executive Judge of RTC Manila is ordered to raffle Crim. Case No.
9619-B to any of its branches. The judge to whom Crim. Case No. 9619-B shall be raffled
shall resolve the petitioner's Motion to Resume Proceedings filed in Br. XXV of the RTC of
Bian, Laguna and determine the voluntariness and validity of petitioner's desistance in light
of the opposition of the public prosecutor, Asst. Chief State Prosecutor Leonardo Guiyab. The
branch clerk of court of Br. XXV of the RTC of Bian, Laguna is ordered to personally deliver
to the Executive Judge of Manila the complete records of Crim. Case No. 9619-B upon
receipt of this Resolution.
On September 17, 1997, Criminal Case No. 9619-B (re-docketed by the Clerk of Court of
Manila as Crim. Case No. 97-159955) was raffled to Br. 53 of the RTC of Manila, presided by
the respondent judge, the Honorable Maximo A. Savellano.
On October 9, 1997, the respondent judge issued warrants of arrest against the petitioners
after a finding of probable cause.
On October 28, 1997, an Administrative Order of the DOJ was issued empowering First
Assistant City Prosecutor Marilyn R. O. Campomanes to prosecute the case at bar. Asst.
Chief State Prosecutor Leonardo Guiab, Jr., who opposed the affidavit of desistance was
relieved from the case. The reason given in the Administrative Order was ". . . in the interest
of public service." Prosecutor Campomanes was authorized "to move for its (case) dismissal
if the evidence on record so warrant . . ."1
The arraignment of the petitioners took place on November 7, 1997. The State was
represented by Prosecutor Marilyn Campomanes. Petitioner Alonte was represented by Atty.
Jose Flaminiano and Atty. Sigfrid A. Fortun. Petitioner Concepcion was represented by Atty.
Ramon C. Casano. Atty. Remedios Balbin who had previously exposed under oath the threats
to the life of the private complainant and her witnesses and the repeated attempts to buy
complainant's desistance was absent. 2
Petitioners pled not guilty to the charge of rape upon their arraignment. 3 Pre-trial was then
waived by both the prosecution and the defense. The proceedings continued and Prosecutor
Campomanes presented the private complainant, Ms. Punongbayan who testified on her affidavit

of desistance. She declared that her desistance was her "personal" decision with the consent of
her parents. 4 She said she was neither paid nor pressured to desist. On questions by the
respondent judge, however, she affirmed the truth of her affidavit dated October 31, 1996 that
she was raped by petitioner Alonte. Prosecutor Campomanes marked and offered her affidavit of
desistance as Exhibit "A". 5 She called on other witnesses to testify on the voluntariness of the
affidavit of desistance. The parents of the complainant Pablo 6 and Julie 7 Punongbayan
declared that they did not receive any monetary consideration for the desistance of their minor
daughter. Neither were they pressured to give their consent to the desistance. Fourth Asst.
Provincial Prosecutor Alberto Nofuente averred that the affidavit of desistance was signed and
sworn to before him in the presence of the complainant's parents and private counsel, Atty.
Balbin. He said he explained the affidavit to them and that the complainant voluntarily signed the
same. 8

After their testimonies, Prosecutor Campomanes made the manifestation that "with the
presentation of our witnesses and the marking of our documents (sic) we are now closing the
case and that we are praying for the dismissal of the case. 9 The respondent judge ruled "the
case is submitted for decision." 10 Atty. Flaminiano orally prayed that petitioner Alonte be
granted bail and Prosecutor Campomanes offered no objection. 11
On November 10, 1997, petitioner Alonte filed an Urgent Motion to Admit to Bai1. 12 In her
Comment, Prosecutor Campomanes agreed and averred, viz.: 13
xxx xxx xxx

1. That she received a copy of the Petition for Bail.


2. That on the hearing of the instant case on November 7, 1997, the Prosecution presented
its witnesses who vehemently signified their intention not to further prosecute the case in
Court and there being no other witnesses to present, the undersigned is left with no
alternative but to seek the dismissal of the considering that without the testimony of said
witnesses this case has nothing to stand on in Court.
3. That for the aforestated reason, the People interposes no objection to the granting of Bail
and in fact justice and equity dictate that it joins the accused in his prayer for the granting
of bail in the amount of P150,000 (ONE HUNDRED FIFTY THOUSAND PESOS).
4. That for the aforementioned bases, the People hereby manifests its position that the case
be immediately dismissed or at least the accused be granted bail since the record proves
that there is no more evidence to sustain the charge against him such that the granting of
bail is proper and in order.
5. That as a general rule, a hearing on the petition for bail is necessary to prove that the
guilt is not strong but in this particular case there is no need for hearing since the
prosecution cannot prove its case against the accused as it has no other evidence or
witnesses to be presented.
On November 17, 1997, petitioner Alonte, thru counsel, filed an Urgent Plea to Resolve the
Motion for Bail. 14 On the same date, Prosecutor Campomanes manifested that "she deems it
proper and in accord with justice and fair play to join the aforestated motion." 15
On November 25, 1997, December 1, 1997, December 8, 1997 and December 10, 1997,
petitioner Alonte filed a Second, Third, Fourth, and Fifth Motion early for resolution of his
petition for bail. 16 In all these motions, Atty. Fortun, counsel of petitioner Alonte, alleged that
copy of the motion . . . could not be served in person upon the private prosecutor" (Atty. Balbin)
in light of the distance between their offices. 17 He relied on section 13, Rule 11 of the 1997
Rules on Civil Procedure. The motions were not resolved by the respondent judge.
On December 18, 1997, the respondent judge promulgated his Decision convicting the
petitioners and sentencing them to reclusion perpetua. On whether of the affidavit of
desistance can be a ground for dismissal of the rape case against the petitioners, the
respondent judge held:

The first issue to be determined and resolved is the "voluntariness and validity of petitioner's
desistance in the light of the opposition of the public prosecutor Asst. Chief State Prosecutor
Leonardo Guiab." (p. 7, SC Resolution En Banc, dated September 2, 199/.7; [Rollo, p. 253]) It
is appropriate to quote again a portion of the 7-page Resolution En Banc of the highest
tribunal, to wit; "Indeed, the probability (exists) that in desisting from pursuing her
complaint for rape, petitioner, a minor, may have succumbed to some illicit influence and
undue pressure. To prevent possible miscarriage of justice is a good excuse to grant the
petition for change of venue . . ." (Rollo, p. 202).
The Court shall narrate the facts leading to the desistance of the private complainant which
are embodied in the two (2) affidavits of her lawyer, Atty. Remedios C. Balbin, with whom the
private complainant lives at No. 5 Uranus St., Congressional Avenue Subdivision, Quezon
City. One affidavit is dated May 24 1997, (sic) while March 26, 1997. The said affidavits are
attached as exhibits to the aforementioned Manifestation and Motion for the Resolution of
Petition for Change of Venue filed by the private complainant Juvie-Lyn Y. Punongbayan. Exh.
"C", dated May 24, 1997, (Rollo, pp. 216-219) is hereby quoted as follows:
xxx xxx xxx
It clearly appears in the abovequoted affidavit that repeated bribe offers from a lawyer
representing the accused Mayor Bayani Arthur Alonte in the total amount of Ten Million
Pesos (P10,000,000.00) were made to Atty. Balbin, allocated as follows: (1) Five Million
Pesos (5,000,000.00) for the private complainant Juvie-lyn Y. Punongbayan; (2) Three Million
Pesos (P3,000,000.00) for her (Atty. Balbin); and (3) Two Million Pesos (P2,000,000.00) for
the mediator.
In the subsequent affidavit, dated March 26, 1997, executed by Atty. Remedios C. Balbin
(Exh. F, Rollo, pp. 224-225) she narrated in detail the continuing veiled threats and the very
tempting and escalating offer to increase the amount of the bribe money offered to her and
the private complainant after her first affidavit, by doubling the first offer of Ten Million
Pesos (P10,000,000.00) to Twenty Million Pesos (P20,000,000.00), in exchange for her
client's desistance, but also accompanied with veiled threats, if refused. Said affidavit is
quoted, as follows:
xxx xxx xxx
The Court underscores paragraphs (b), (c), (d), (e), (f), (g), (h), (i), (j), (k), and (l),
particularly paragraphs (i), (j) and specially paragraph (k) of the abovequoted affidavit of
Atty. Balbin which insinuates that the presiding Judge of the RTC Bian, Laguna, had already
been bought, and that accused Alonte thru his numerous emissaries, will also buy or bribe
the "the next judge when the petition for change of venue is finally granted." In view of this
insinuation, the undersigned presiding Judge is very careful in deciding this case, lest he be
placed under suspicion that he is also receiving blood money that continues to flow. The
Court wants to have internal peace the peace which money cannot buy. Money is the root
of all evil. The Holy Holy Scriptures also remind judges and jurists: "You shall not act
dishonestly in rendering judgment. Show neither partiality to the weak nor deterrence to the
mighty, but judge your fellow men justly," (Leviticus 19:15). The Scriptures further say:
"What does it profit a man if he gains the whole world but suffers the loss of his soul?" (Mt.
16:26) and "No one can serve two (2) masters. . . You cannot serve God and mammon." (Mt.
6:24, Luke 16:13). It is not out of place to quote the Holy Scriptures because the Honorable
Supreme Court has been doing so in its quest for truth and justice. Thus, People vs. Garcia,
209 SCRA 164, 174, the highest tribunal, in ruling that the flight of an accused is evidence of
guilt on his part, quoted the old Testament, as follows:
It was written in the literature of Old Testament several centuries ago that:
The wicked man fleeth though no man pursueth, but the righteous are as bold
as a lion.

(Proverbs, 28:1)
Subsequently, on June 25, 1997, the private complainant and her lawyer suddenly
somersaulted or changed their common positions or attitudes in the prosecution of this case.
Evidently, veiled threats and money had replaced the "spiritual consideration" which earlier,
to them were "more important than the material" to quote Atty. Balbin in her first affidavit
(Rollo, p. 217), and her reply to Atty. Dionisio S. Daga that "all the money in the world will
not make me change my position against my client's executing a desistance, and that only
Alonte's voluntary surrender, plea of guilty to rape, conviction and the imposition of the
corresponding penalty will satisfy the ends of justice.
On June 26, 1997, the private complainant thru her counsel, Atty. Remedios C. Balbin, filed a
Motion to Resume Proceedings, dated June 25, 1997, (Rollo, pp. 238-244) praying therein
that the RTC, Bian, Laguna, where this case was still pending, vacate its Order to Suspend
Hearings, to enable it to act on all incidents including private Complainant's Affidavit of
Desistance attached thereto. (Rollo, pp. 240-241) which affidavit of desistance is quoted
hereunder as follows:
xxx xxx xxx
This Court, as the trier of facts, is tasked by the highest tribunal to find out if the private
complainant, a minor "may have succumbed to some illicit influence and undue pressure, in
order to prevent a possible miscarriage of justice." Evidently, the veiled threats and
acceptance of the bribe money in allocated amounts which was subsequently raised to the
irresistible amount of at least P20,000,000.00, compelled, impelled and/or tempted the
private complainant her father Pablo Punongbayan and her mother Julie Y. Punongbayan,
and her lawyer and private prosecutor Atty. Remedios C. Balbin, who did not appear in Court
on November 7, 1997, despite notice, to execute the said "Affidavit of Desistance" which was
the ultimate goal of the accused. It is very obvious that the private complainant a minor,
"succumbed to some illicit influence and undue pressure," to borrow the language of the
Honorable Supreme Court En Banc. It would be the height of extreme naivete or gullibility
for any normal individual to conclude otherwise. The Court does not believe that the private
complainant, her lawyer, and her parents charged but in exchange for a plea of guilty the
charge is reduced to homicide and the accused is allowed to claim a number of mitigating
circumstances. It is not uncommon for estafa, libel, physical injuries and even homicide
cases to be dismissed because the complainant has lost interest or alleged that the
complaint was filed as a result of a misunderstanding. A number of examples can be given
and they can fill a book."
Again, in People vs. Evangelista, L-45089, April 27, 1982, 113 SCRA 713, 720, the Supreme
Court further declared:
It may be noted that the crimes in question (forcible abduction with rape) are among those
enumerated in Article 344 of the Revised Penal Code, which crimes cannot be prosecuted de
officio. In other words, the crimes of abduction and rape are in the nature of private offense,
inasmuch as the law has reposed "the right to institute such proceedings exclusively and
successively in the offended person, her parents, grandparents or guardian" . . . Accordingly,
if after filing the case at face at bar decided that she was unable to face the scandal of public
trial, or, if for some private reason she preferred to suffer the outraged in silence, then,
corollary to her right institute the proceedings, she should have been allowed to withdraw
her complaint and desist from prosecuting the case (Emphasis supplied).
Petitioner Concepcion did not submit any motion for reconsideration. Without waiting for the
resolution of his motion for reconsideration, petitioner Alonte repaired to this Court. So did
petitioner Concepcion.
Without doubt, the petitions at bar raise two (2) fulcrum issues: (1) the correctness of the
ruling of the respondent judge that the desistance of the complainant is not a ground to
dismiss the rape charge against the petitioners, and (2) the invalidity of petitioners'

conviction on the ground of denial of due process.


I agree with the learned disquisition of Mr. Justice Vitug that we should set aside the
conviction of the petitioners for patent violation of their right to due process of law. I write
this Separate Opinion to highlight the erroneousness of the shocking stance of the State
Prosecutor that the rape charge should be dismissed in view of the desistance of the private
complainant. But our ruling giving no effect on the affidavit of desistance should not based
on the reason that it was procured by threat or intimidation or any payment of money as the
respondent judge opined in his Decision. The respondent judge arrived at this conclusion on
the basis of the affidavits of Atty. Balbin, the counsel of the private complainant. This is
erroneous for Atty. Balbin was never called to the witness stand to testify on the truth of her
affidavits. Her affidavits therefore are hearsay evidence and should not have been relied
upon by the respondent judge. The affidavit of desistance cannot abort the rape charge
against the petitioners on the simple ground that it did not state that the private
complainant-affiant was not raped by petitioner Alonte. In truth, the private complainant
affirmed her earlier Reply-Affidavit where she narrated in detail how petitioner Alonte raped
her. Moreover, the rape charge has been filed in Court and it is not anymore the absolute
privilege of the camplainant to desist from continuing with the case.
This separate opinion unequivocably addresses the issue of whether the desistance of the
victim can stop the further prosecution of the petitioners.
I
In Philippine jurisprudence, desistance has been equated with recantation or retraction.
To "recant" means to "withdraw or repudiate formally and publicly;" 18 "to renounce or
withdraw prior statement." 19 To "retract" means to "take back;" "to retract an offer is to
withdraw it before acceptance." 20 A recantation usually applies to a complainant or witness,
either for the prosecution or the defense, who has previously given an extra-judicial
statement 21 or testimony in court. 22 Repudiation may be made in writing, i.e., by sworn
statement, 23 or by testifying on the witness stand. 24
Mere retraction by a witness or by complainant of his or her testimony does not necessarily
vitiate the original testimony or statement, if credible. 25 The general rule is that courts look
with disfavor upon retractions of testimonies previously given in court. 26 This rule applies to
crimes, 27 offenses 28 as well as to administrative offenses. 29 The reason is because affidavits of
retraction can easily be secured from poor and ignorant witnesses, usually through intimidation
or for monetary consideration. 30 Moreover, there is always the probability that they will later be
repudiated 31 and there would never be an end to criminal litigation. 32 It would also be a
dangerous rule for courts to reject testimonies solemnly taken before courts of justice simply
because the witnesses who had given them later on changed their minds for one reason or
another. This would make solemn trials a mockery and place the investigation of the truth at the
mercy of unscrupulous witnesses. 33
The general rule notwithstanding, the affidavit should not be peremptorily dismissed as a
useless scrap of paper. There are instances when a recantation may create serious doubts as
to the guilt of the accused. 34 A retracted statement or testimony must be subject to scrupulous
examination. The previous statement or testimony and the subsequent one must be carefully
compared and the circumstances under which each was given and the reasons and motives for
the change carefully scrutinized. The veracity of each statement or testimony must be tested by
the credibility of the witness which is left for the judge to decide. 35 In short, only where there
exists special circumstances in the case which when coupled with the retraction raise doubts as
to the truth of the testimony or statement given, can a retraction be considered and upheld. 36
A survey of our jurisprudence reveals that the same rule has been applied to affidavits of
desistance. 37 An affidavit of desistance is understood to be a sworn statement executed by a
complainant in a criminal or administrative case that he or she is discontinuing the action filed
upon his or her complaint for whatever reason he or she may cite. The court attaches no
persuasive value to a desistance especially when executed as an afterthought. 38 However, a in

retractions, an affidavit of desistance calls for a reexamination of the records of the case. 39

In private crimes, an affidavit of desistance filed by a private complainant is also frowned


upon by the courts. Although such affidavit may deserve a second look at the case, there is
hardly an instance when this Court upheld it in private crimes and dismissed the case on the
sole basis thereof. Indeed, a case is not dismissed upon mere affidavit of desistance of the
complainant, particularly where there exist special circumstances that raise doubts as to the
reliability of the affidavit. 40
Usually in private crimes, an affidavit of desistance is executed by the private complainant
after pardoning and forgiving the offender. In this instance, the court treats the affidavit as
an express pardon. 41 It does not ipso facto dismiss the case but determines the timeliness and
validity thereof.
Private crimes are crimes against chastity such as adultery and concubinage, seduction,
abduction, rape and acts of lasciviousness. Their institution, prosecution and extinction are
governed by Article 344 of the Revised Penal Code, viz:
Art. 344. Prosecution of the crimes of adultery, concubinage, seduction, abduction, rape and
acts of lasciviousness. The crimes of adultery and concubinage shall not be prosecuted
except upon a complaint filed by the offended spouse.
The offended party cannot institute criminal prosecution without including both the guilty
parties, if they are both alive, nor in any case, if he shall have consented or pardoned the
offenders.
The offenses of seduction, abduction, rape, acts of lasciviousness, shall not be prosecuted
except upon a complaint filed by the offended party or her parents, grand parents, or
guardian, nor in any case, the offender has been expressly pardoned by the above-named
persons, as the case may be.
In cases of seduction, abduction, acts of lasciviousness and rape, the marriage of the
offender with the offended party shall extinguish the criminal action or remit the penalty
already imposed upon him. The provisions of this paragraph shall also be applicable to the
co-principals, accomplices and accessories after the fact of the above-mentioned crimes.
Private crimes cannot be prosecuted except upon complaint filed by the offended party. In
adultery and concubinage, the offended party must implead both the guilty parties and must
not have consented or pardoned the offenders. In seduction, abduction, rape and acts of
lasciviousness, the complaint must be filed by the offended party or her parents,
grandparents or guardian. The complainant must not have expressly pardoned the offender.
Article 344 also provides for the extinction of criminal liability in private crimes. It mentions
two modes: pardon and marriage, which when validly and timely made, result in the total
extinction of criminal liability of the offender. 42 The pardon in private crimes must be made
before the institution of the criminal action. 43 In adultery and concubinage, the pardon may be
express or implied while in seduction, abduction, rape and acts of lasciviousness, the pardon
must be express. In all cases, the pardon must come prior to the institution of the criminal action.
After the case has been filed in court, any pardon made by the private complainant, whether by
sworn statement or on the witness stand, cannot extinguish criminal liability. The only act that
extinguishes the penal action and the penalty that may have been imposed is the marriage
between the offender and the offended party. 44
As this Court declared in the case of Donio-Teves v. Vamenta, Jr.: 45
The term "private crimes" in reference to felonies which cannot be prosecuted except upon
complaint filed by the aggrieved party, is misleading. Far from what it implies, it is not only the
aggrieved party who is offended in such crimes but also the State. Every violation of penal laws
results in the disturbance of public order and safety which the State is committed to uphold and
protect. If the law imposes the condition that private crimes like adultery shall not be prosecuted
except upon complaint filed by the offended party, it is, as herein pointed earlier "out of

consideration for the aggrieved party who might prefer to suffer the outrage in silence rather
than go through the scandal of a public trial." Once a complaint is filed, the will of the offended
party is ascertained and the action proceeds just as in any other crime. This is shown by the fact
that after filing a complaint, any pardon given by the complainant to the offender would be
unavailing. It is true, the institution of the action in so called the private crimes is at the option of
the action of the aggrieved party. But it is equally true that once the choice is made manifest, the
law will be applied in full force beyond the control of, and inspite of the complainant, his death
notwithstanding.

The filing of a complaint in private crimes is merely a condition precedent to the exercise by
the proper authorities of the power to prosecute the guilty parties. 46 It is the complaint that
starts the prosecutory proceeding without which the fiscal and the court cannot exercise
jurisdiction over the case. 47 Once the complaint is filed, the action proceeds just as in any other
crime.
We follow the postulate that a criminal offense is an outrage to the sovereign state 48 and
the right of prosecution for a crime is one of the attributes of the sovereign power. 49 Thus,
criminal actions are usually commenced by the State, through the People of the Philippines, and
the offended party is merely a complaining witness. 50 In private crimes, however, or those which
cannot be prosecuted de oficio, the offended party assumes a more predominant role since the
right to commence the action or refrain therefrom, is a matter exclusively within his power and
option. 51 The sovereign state deems it the wiser policy, in private crimes, to let the aggrieved
party and her family decide whether to expose to public view the vices, faults and disgraceful
acts occurring in the family. 52 But once the offended party files the complaint, her will is
ascertained and the action proceeds just as in any other crime. The decision of the complainant
to undergo the scandal of a public trial necessarily witness connotes the willingness to face the
scandal. 53The private complainant is deemed to have shed off her privacy and the crime ceases
to be "private" and becomes "public." The State, through the fiscal, takes over the prosecution of
the case and the victim's change of heart and mind will not affect the State's right to vindicate
the outrage against the violation of its law. 54
This is the reason why pardon in crimes of chastity must come before the institution of the
criminal action. Pardon by the offended party extinguishes criminal liability when made
while the crime is still "private" and within the control of the offended party. But once the
case is filed in court, the
pardon cannot ipso facto operate to dismiss the case. After the institution of the criminal
action, any pardon given by the complainant to the offender would be unavailing, 55 except
of course when the offender validly marries the offended party. 56 The offended party's pardon of
the offender in a seduction case after the criminal action had been instituted constitutes no bar
to said action. 57 A pardon given in a rape case after the filing of the action in court "comes too
late to hide the shameful occurrence from public notice." 58
Even the death of the offended party cannot extinguish the case once it is filed in court. 59 If
the offended party dies immediately after filing the complaint but before the institution of the
criminal action, his death is not a ground to dismiss the case. 60 Clearly, the will and
participation of the offended party is necessary only to determine whether to file the complaint or
not. Thereafter, the will of the State prevails.
Article 344 does not include desistance of the offended party from prosecuting the case as a
ground for extinction of criminal liability whether
total 61 or partial. 62 Hence, only when the desistance is grounded on forgiveness and pardon
and is made before the institution of the criminal action, can it extinguish criminal liability.
Desistance, per se, is not equivalent to pardon.
In the case at bar, the "Affidavit of Desistance" of Juvielyn is not an express pardon of the
accused and the crime committed. Private complainant desisted from prosecuting the case
against the petitioners because she wished "to start life anew and live normally again." She
reiterated this reason on the witness stand. She complained that members of the media were
bothering and harassing her and that she wanted to go back to her normal life. She never
said that she forgave the petitioners. She did not absolve them from their culpability. She did

not give any exculpatory fact that would raise doubts about her rape. She did not say that
she consented to petitioner Alonte's acts. Moreover, the rape case is already in court and it
is no longer her right to decide whether or not the charge should be continued. As we held
in Crespo v. Mogul: 63
xxx xxx xxx

The rule in this jurisdiction is that once a complaint or information is filed in court any
disposition of the case as to its dismissal or conviction or acquittal of the accused rests in
the sound discretion of the court. Although the fiscal retains the direction and control of the
prosecution of criminal cases even while the case is already in court he cannot impose his
opinion on the trial court. The court is the best and sole judge on what to do with the case
before it. The determination of the case is within its exclusive jurisdiction and competence. A
motion to dismiss the case filed by the fiscal should be addressed to the court who has the
option to grant or deny the same. It does not matter if this is done before or after the
arraignment of the accused or that the motion was filed after a reinvestigation or upon
instructions of the Secretary of Justice who reviewed the records of the investigation.
II
The next issue is the validity of the conviction of petitioners. Petitioners contend that they
were convicted without undergoing any trial. Respondent judge insists otherwise. He claims
that petitioners submitted the case on the merits and relied principally on the Affidavit of
Desistance. He recounts the events that took place before the presentation of private
complainant as revealed by the transcripts of November 7, 1997, viz:
Prosecutor Campomanes
Your
Honor,
the
complaining
witness/private
complainant
Juvielyn
Punongbayan is present here in Court, and a while ago, I was given a copy of
her Affidavit of Desistance so I would like to present her in order to attest to
the veracity of her Affidavit of Desistance, your Honor, and for the Court to her
testimony.
Court
We will have a separate trial, this involved a heinous offense and that there is
not even any plea-bargaining in this case.
Prosecutor Campomanes
Yes, your Honor, I understand that.
Court
So you have to mark now your documentary evidence in preparation for trial.
Prosecutor Campomanes
Yes, your Honor.
Court
There are many documentary evidence mentioned by the Supreme Court in its
seven (7) page . . . (may I see the record) seven(7) page resolution, dated
September 2, 1997, and that this case was assigned to this Court as the trial
Judge. This Court has already arraigned the accused and he pleaded not guilty,
and so the next step is pre-trial. The Order of the Supreme Court is to direct
this Court not only to determine the voluntariness but also the validity of the
Affidavit of Desistance mentioned by the Court which was also brought to the
attention of the Supreme Court.
Prosecutor Campomanes

And to the Department of Justice likewise your Honor.


Court
And that's why the Supreme Court instead of resolving it sent the records to
this Court to determine the voluntariness and the validity of the Desistance, but
they must be determined after trial on the merits.
Prosecutor Campomanes
Your Honor please, representing the people. Its events now will prove that
there is no more need for the prosecution to go on trial of this case, considering
that the private complainant herself had already furnished the Department of
Justice a copy of her Affidavit of Desistance.
Court
What does it say there?
Prosecutor Campomanes
That she is no longer interested in further prosecuting this case, and that she is
now desisting in going to full blown trial, and considering your Honor further,
that this is a private offense, then, the Department of Justice feels that it can
not be more popish than the Pope.
Court
That is the stand of the Department of Justice. But the Supreme Court belongs
to a different Department, I am governed by the Supreme Court, because I am
a Judge, I am not from the Department of Justice.
Prosecutor Campomanes
We are all aware your Honor, that we will just be prolonging the agony, in
fairness to everybody, considering that we are representing the people, but we
are not representing only . . . the Department of Justice is not only representing
the complainant in this case but we are also for justice to be rendered to the
respondent as well.
Court
I am rendering fair justice to everyone. That is the sense of this Court. That is
the perception of this Court with respect to the Supreme Court resolution, in
the first place, that Affidavit does not negate the commission of the crime. You
want us to dismiss this case when the Affidavit does not negate the commission
of the crime?
Prosecutor Campomanes
That's why we will be presenting her in Open Court, your Honor.
Court
Just to affirm that?
Prosecutor Campomanes
No to prove . . .
Court
What happened . . . how about the Prosecution Department, they have control
of the prosecution, and the offended party herself, has not negated the
commission of the crime, is there anything there to show that she did not . . .
that the accused . . . did not commit the crime charged?

Prosecutor Campomanes
That's why we will be presenting her in Open Court, whatever is not here will
be clarified.
Court
So, we will go to a trial on the merits you present that affidavit, that's a part of
your evidence.
Prosecutor Campomanes
The people is ready to present that . . . the complaining witness.
Court
We will have a trial on the merits.
Prosecutor Campomanes
Your Honor please, being a woman, I have extensively discussed this matter
with the complaining witness and she intimated to this representation that she
can not bear another day of coming here, with all these people staring at her
with everybody looking at her as if she is something . . . .
Court
On December 13, 1996, petitioner Punongbayan through private counsel, Atty.
Remedios C. Balbin and the Assistant State Prosecutor Guiab, Jr. who is not
here both were relieved and changed with a new lady prosecutor, prayed that
the case be tried by the Regional Trial Court of Manila, they cited the following
grounds: "THE GREAT DANGER TO THE LIVES OF BOTH PRIVATE
COMPLAINANT AND THE IMMEDIATE MEMBERS OF HER FAMILY AND
THEIR WITNESSES AS THEY OPENLY IDENTIFIED THE PRINCIPAL
ACCUSED MAYOR ALONTE WHO IS ACKNOWLEDGED AS A POWERFUL
POLITICAL FIGURE AND ALMOST AN INSTITUTION IN BIAN LAGUNA AND
[THE] GREAT DANGERS TO THE LIVES OF WITNESSES WHO OTHERWISE
WISH TO COME OUT IN THE OPEN AND TESTIFY ON THE MORAL AND
CRIMINAL ACTIVITIES OF BOTH ACCUSED PERPETRATED UPON VERY
YOUNG GIRLS STUDENTS OF BIAN LAGUNA THAT WILL NOT DO SO IN
THE TERMS OF THE ACCUSED MAYOR" that is why it was the prayer of the
offended party and the Supreme Court granted the Motion for Change of
Venue, and we are now on a new venue, where the danger to the lives of the
witness is no longer present, on January 7, 1997, Alonte filed an Opposition
thereto, and on April 23, 1997, the petitioner, the offended party through the
Honorable Secretary of Justice Teofisto Guingona and Chief State Prosecutor
Jovencito Zuno filed a Manifestation and Motion for Resolution of the Petition
For Change of Venue. Attached to the motion of the Honorable Secretary of
Justice Guingona and Chief State Prosecutor Jovencito Zuno were the affidavits
of the petitioner, her lawyer, Atty. Remedios Balbin, Dolores Yambao,
Bienvenido Salandanan and Evelyn Celso with their contention that the
prosecution witnesses and the private counsel of petitioner are exposed to
kidnapping, harassment, grave threats and tempting offers of bribe money, that
was the stand of your department . . . And then later on June 28, 1997 . . . we
have to review this case because this involves public interest . . . on June 23,
1997, Atty. Casano in behalf of the oppositors, two (2) oppositors, filed a motion
to dismiss the petition for change of venue in the Supreme Court on the ground
that it has become moot, he alleges that the petitioner despite the motion to
resume the proceedings in criminal case no. 96-19-B in said motion, the
petitioner informed the Court that she is desisting . . . informed the Supreme
Court that she is desisting from proceeding with the case, it is the same

affidavit she prayed that the trial Court, on her affidavit of desistance . . . Atty.
Casano also submitted to this Court, to the Supreme Court the manifestation of
the petitioner joining the oppositors' prayer to dismiss her petition to a change
of venue, the manifestation was also signed by Atty. Remedios Balbin as private
prosecutor, the Supreme Court required Assistant Chief State Prosecutor
Leonardo Guiab to comment on the motion to dismiss filed by Atty. Casano
which involve the same affidavit that you have just read. On August 22, 1997,
assistant Chief State Prosecutor Guiab filed his comment, he alleged that he is
not aware of the desistance of the petitioner in criminal case no. 96-19-B, and
in said desistance there is two (2) legal effect, [that] the public prosecutor has
the control and direction of the prosecution in criminal action, he prayed for
the denial of the Motion to Dismiss and reiterated his petition for change of
venue, the Supreme Court granted the change of venue and in granting the
change of venue the highest tribunal which we are all subordinates, says: for
the record, in their manifestation and motion for the resolution of petition to a
change of venue the Secretary of Justice and Chief State Prosecutor submitted
various affidavits in support of their allegations that prosecution witnesses and
private legal counsel are exposed to KIDNAPPING, HARASSMENT, GRAVE
THREATS, AND TEMPTING OFFERS OF BRIBE MONEY all intended to extract
an affidavit of desistance from the complainant, this is now the affidavit of
desistance in her affidavit dated December 16, 1996, the petitioner the
offended party, the herein offended party Juvielyn Punongbayan alleged etc . . .
etc . . . in support of her petition and then she alleged that during the last week
of Feb. 1997, she was visited by one Lourdes Salaysay, she stated that Mrs.
Salaysay told her that Mrs. Alonte, wife of Mayor Alonte requested her to settle
Alonte's case, she was informed that Mrs. Alonte was offering P10,000,000.00,
will send her to school and give her house and send her parents abroad, Atty.
Remedios C. Balbin is not here now, I am just quoting the Supreme Court
counsel, private counsel of petitioner also executed an affidavit dated February
1997, quote: the Supreme Court quote to them: to put on record the
attempting, influence, directly, in exchange of valuable consideration, that the
Rape charge against Mayor Bayani Arthur Alone, she alleged that in two (2)
occasions Atty. Romero conveyed to me the message of Mayor Alonte, namely:
to drop the rape case against him and that he would give a consideration of
P10,000,000.00 to be apportioned as follows: P5,000.00, for the private
complainant, your client and the prosecutor P3,000,000.00 for me, as private
prosecutor, that is what Atty. Balbin said, P4,000,000.00 for her, the mediator,
so there seems to be a liberal flow of blood money, that is why the Supreme
Court ordered the Court to determine the validity, and there is another, dated
March 19, 1997. I have to remind everybody about what happened, this thing
did not come from me, I am not fabricating anything this comes from the
highest tribunal jurat, to whom I am responsible another affidavit of Atty.
Balbin, she narrated the continuing attempts to bribe her and threatened her,
so there were continuing events, they alleged, the People's Bureau, Office of
the Mayor of Quezon City, extensively discuss the squatting case with against
his client, that after a brief exchange on the status of the case, they confided to
me his real purpose, that it started of by saying he was the legal counsel of the
gambling lords of Malabon for which he get a monthly retainer of P15,000.00
exclusive of transportation expenses, but he also stated that he knows all the
network of the gambling lord throughout the country, which is quite strong and
unified, that I then ask him "what do you mean?" "Is Alonte into gambling too,
that he is part of the network you speak of?", that Atty. Daga did not reply, but
instead said, they are prepared to double the offer made to by Atty. Romero
which was published in the newspaper at P10,000,000.00, so, its double,
double your money, so its P20,000,000.00, that I told him, its Atty. Balbin, that

all the money in the world, all the money in the world will not make me change
my position against my client executing a desistance and that Alonte's
voluntary surrender plea of guilty to rape, conviction, and the imposition of the
corresponding penalty will satisfy the ends of justice, but I told him, that my
client's case is not isolated, there being five (5) other miners similarly place
and Alonte's will be stopped from doing more harm that Atty. Daga, then told
me in Filipino if you do not accede to a desistance, then they will be force to
but because he did not [complete] the sentence I asked him directly, what do
you mean, what do you intend to do, and he replied, go on with the case, [buy]
the judge, [buy] the judge, that I am believing, and I reacted saying, but they
have already done so, Judge Francisco Binan, Judge Francisco Binan suddenly
change his attitude towards the prosecution, perhaps you are referring to the
next judge when the petition for change of venue is finally granted that Atty.
Daga did not reply, and he reiterated that his principal referring to them again
as gambling lords, wanted desistance, after which he excused himself and left,
that I execute this affidavit, as Atty. Balbin attests to the truth of the incident
with Atty. Dionisio Daga which occurred in the afternoon of March 6, 1997 at
my office, stating . . . (JUDGE READING THE RECORDS OF THE CASE)
Court
Then, the Supreme Court said, these affidavits, the one attached gave specific
names, dates and methods . . . a coercion of corruption, the prosecution of
Criminal Case No. 96-19-B (JUDGE CONTINUED READING THE RECORDS OF
THE CASE) that is desisting for pursuing her complaint for Rape petitioner a
minor, they have . . . illicit, influence and due pressure to prevent . . . Criminal
Case No. 96-19-B to any of its Branch, just to call the Criminal Case No. 96-19B shall be raffled, shall result the petitioner's motion, to resume proceedings
filed in Branch 26 in the RTC of Laguna, to determine the voluntariness and
validity of the petitioner's desistance in the light of the position of the public
prosecutor, Assistant Chief Prosecutor Leonardo Guiab . . . I don't know what
will be the outcome . . . you may contend that because of that affidavit of the
desistance there is reasonable doubt . . .
etc . . . but still, that will be placing the cart before the horse . . . you have to go
a regular trial on the merits . . . because this is a heinous offense which
cannot . . . and during the pre-trial cannot be subject to a plea-bargaining, and
with respect to its new law which took effect in 1993, that is a new one, it was
placed to the category of a heinous offense . . .
Prosecutor Campomanes
So we go on trial your Honor, and we will present the complaining witness, and
let the Court decide on the basis of the complainants testimony . . . private
complainant's testimony, before this Honorable Court . . .
xxx xxx xxx
Prosecutor Campomanes
That's why we are presenting the private complainant, the principal witness,
the mother who is also a signatory to this affidavit of desistance, everybody
who have been a part and participant in the making and preparation of this
affidavit of desistance, they have already signed these affidavit of desistance.
Court
And we also have the affidavits mentioned by the Supreme Court, because I
was . . . all of those documents in the determination of whether that affidavit is
valid.

Prosecutor Campomanes
Yes, your Honor.
Court
We . . . the Court cannot close his eyes to the other affidavits . . . because . . .
that's why precisely the Supreme Court ordered me to hear this case.
Prosecutor Campomanes
We understand that your Honor.
Court
There are may conflicting matters to be solve . . . conflicting matters to be
tackled in this case.
Prosecutor Campomanes
May we present the private complainant, your Honor . . . . 64
The records show that the hearing of November 7, 1997 was set for arraignment of the
petitioners. 65 After the counsels made their respective appearances, Prosecutor Campomanes
presented her authority to appear as prosecutor in lieu of Asst. Chief State Prosecutor Guiyab, Jr.
Both petitioners pleaded not guilty to the charge. Respondent judge then set the case for pretrial
which the parties, however, waived. The proceedings continued and Prosecutor Campomanes
manifested there was no need for the prosecution to go to trial in view of the Affidavit of
Desistance of the private complainant. Respondent judge, however, observed that private
complainant did not negate the commission of the crime in her Affidavit of Desistance.
Respondent judge expressed his misgivings on the validity of the Affidavit of Desistance because
of the September 2, 1997 Resolution of this Court citing affidavits where allegations of bribery
were made to extract said affidavit from complainant. Prosecutor Campomanes then offered to
present the private complainant to attest to the voluntariness and veracity of her Affidavit of
Desistance. Respondent judge averred whether the court should proceed to a trial on the merits.
Prosecutor Campomanes declared that they could go on trial and let the court decide the merits
of the case on the basis of the testimony of private complainant and the other witnesses. It was
then that private complainant was presented as a witness.
From the garbled transcripts of the hearing on November 7, 1997, it is not clear what both
respondent judge and the public prosecutor intended the proceedings to be. Respondent
judge repeatedly declared that the proceedings before him was to be a trial on the merits.
The public prosecutor agreed to go to trial, but at the same time moved to present private
complainant and her witnesses to testify on the voluntariness of her Affidavit of Desistance.
Respondent judge and the public prosecutor were, obviously, not tuned in to each other.
I agree with the majority that the November 7, 1997 proceedings could not have been a trial
on the merits. First of all, the proceedings did not conform with the procedure for trial as
provided in the 1985 Rules on Criminal Procedure. Section 3 of Rule 119 provides:
Sec. 3. Order of Trial. The trial shall proceed in the following order:
(a) The prosecution shall present evidence to prove the charge and, in the proper case, the
civil liability.
(b) The accused may present evidence to prove his defense, and damages, if any, arising
from the issuance of any provisional remedy in the case.
(c) The parties may then respectively present rebutting evidence only, unless the court, in
furtherance of justice, permits them present additional evidence bearing upon the main
issue.
(d) Upon admission of the evidence, the case shall be deemed submitted for decision unless
the court directs the parties to argue orally or to submit memoranda.

(e) However, when the accused admits the act charged or omission charged in the complaint
or information but interposes lawful defense, the order of trial may be modified accordingly.
In the case at bar, petitioners were never instructed to present evidence to prove their
defenses. The parties were never given the opportunity to present their respective evidence
rebutting the testimony of private complainant. There was no admission by petitioners of the
charge in the information as to justify a change in the order of trial. 66
Our criminal rules of procedure strictly provide the step by step procedure to be followed by
courts in cases punishable by death. 67 This rule also applies to all other criminal cases,
particularly where the imposable penalty is reclusion perpetua. The reason for this is to assure
that the State makes no mistake in taking life and liberty except that of the guilty. 68 Thus:
Judges should be reminded that each step in the trial process serves a specific purpose. In
the trial of criminal cases, the constitutional presumption of innocence in favor of the
accused requires that an accused be given sufficient opportunity to present his defense. So
with the prosecution as to its evidence.
Hence, any deviation from the regular course of trial should always take into consideration
the rights of all the parties to the case, whether the prosecution or defense. 69
Second, the admission of private complainant's affidavit of October 21, 1996 was made
solely in response to respondent judge's own questioning. 70 It was this affidavit which
respondent judge used to convict the petitioners. This affidavit, however, was not marked nor was
it formally offered before the court. The Revised rules on Evidence clearly and expressly provide
that "[t]he court shall consider no evidence which has not been formally offered." 71 Evidence
not formally offered in court will not be taken into consideration by the court in disposing of the
issues of the case. Any evidence which a party desires to submit for the consideration of the court
must formally be offered by him, 72 otherwise it is excluded and rejected. 73
Third, where there is a doubt as to the nature of the criminal proceedings before the court,
this doubt must be resolved in favor of the accused who must be given the widest latitude of
action to prove his innocence. 74 It is in petitioners' favor that the proceedings of November 7,
1997 be treated as a hearing on the motion to dismiss, not a trial on the merits. To rule otherwise
will effectively deny petitioners due process and all the other rights of an accused under the Bill
of Rights and our Rules in Criminal Procedure.
Indeed, following respondent judge's finding and assuming that the November 7, 1997
hearing was already a trial on the merits, petitioners were never afforded their right to
confront and cross-examine the witness. The court did not, at the very least, inquire as to
whether the petitioners wanted to cross-examine private complainant with respect to her
affidavit of October 21, 1996. No opportunity to cross-examine was afforded petitioners and
their counsels such that they cannot be deemed to have waived said right by inaction. 75
Regalado, Davide, Jr., Romero, Bellosillo, Mendoza and Panganiban, JJ., concur.
Separate Opinions
PUNO, J., separate opinion;
The facts are critical and need to be focused. Petitioners were charged with rape in Criminal
Case No. 15993 which was raffled to Br. 25 of the RTC of Bian, Laguna. The charge is
principally based on the following affidavit dated October 31, 1996 of Ms. Juvie-Lyn
Punongbayan, a 16-year old minor, viz.:
REPLY-AFFIDAVIT
(TUGON SA MGA SALAYSAY NILA MAYOR BAYANI ALONTE, WELLA CONCEPCION,
RICARDO LACAYAN at JAIME MENDOZA)
Ako si JUVIE-LYN Y. PUNONGBAYAN, Filipino, walang asawa, 16 years old, at kasalukuyang

nasa pangangalaga ng Department of Social


makapanumpa ayon sa batas, ay nagsasaad:

Welfare

and

Development,

matapos

1. Wala pong katotohanan ang lahat nakasaad sa mga salaysay ni Mayor Bayani Alonte at
Buenaventura "Wella" Concepcion, ng kanilang mga testigo na sila Ricardo (Ading) Lacayan
y Aguilar at Jaime Bagtas Mendoza.
2. Ang totoo po ay inabuso ako ni Mayor nung September 12, 1996, katulad nga ng naihayag
ko na sa aking sinumpaang salaysay. Ayon sa driver ng tricycle na nasakyan ko pagkatapos
ng insidente, hindi lang po ako, kundi marami pa pong babae ang inabuso ni Mayor. Sabi pa
nga ng driver ay naaawa siya sa akin, at lumaban daw ako. Tinawagan ko na rin po ang lahat
ng mga babae na naging biktima ni Mayor; wag silang matakot, lumabas at ilahad ang
pangaabuso ni Mayor.
Ang detalya nung panggagahasa
ni Alonte at ang partisipasyon
ni Wella Concepcion
3. Nakalahad po sa sumusunod na talata ang detalya ng pang-aabuso sa akin ni Mayor.
Pinakikita rin dito kung paano nakipagsabwatan kay Wella Concepcion. Sa pamamagitan nito
ay mapapabulaanan na rin ang mga nakasaad sa salaysay nila at ng mga testigo nila.
4. Nakilala ko si Wella Concepcion, dance instructor, nung bandang last week ng August
1996. Noon ay naghahanda ako para sa "Miss Education" beauty contest sa Perpetual Help
College of Laguna. Doon ako nag-aaral. First year college ako, at education ang kursong
pinili ko. Ang nasabing contest ay ginanap nung Sept. 20, 1996. Kapag nagkikita kami ni
Wella para sa ensayo, nagkukuwentuhan din kami, at nabanggit niya na may kaibigan siyang
bakla na nagdadala ng babae kay Mayor Alonte. Waway daw ang pangalan ng bakla. Hindi
ko pa kilala si Waway noon.
5. Nung Sept. 7, niyaya ako ni Wella na sumali sa dance contest sa "Sang Linggo NAPO
SILA" sa Channel 2, na itatanghal sa Sept. 11, 1996. Wala na daw po akong aalalahanin. Siya
daw ang bahala sa costume at transportation. Pumayag ang nanay ko, dahil wala na kaming
gagastusin. Hindi ko tinanong kay Wella kung saan galing ang costume. Akala ko may
ipapagamit lang siya sa akin.
6. Nung Sept. 8, pinakilala ni Wella si Waway sa akin. Si Waway ang nagturo sa amin ng
sayaw para sa TV contest. Mula nung araw na yon hanggang Sept. 10 ay nagsanay kami sa
bahay ng kapatid ni Waway sa St. Francis Subdivision, Bian, Laguna. Tatlo kami sa dance
group: ako at ang dalawang lalaki na ipinakilala sa akin ni Waway: si Melchor at Darius.
7. Nagpunta kami sa studio sa Delta nung Sept. 11. Bago kami magsayaw, habang inaayos ni
Wella yung damit ko, sinabi niya na dapat manalo kami dahil si Mayor Alonte daw ang nagsponsor ng costume namin. Noon ko lang ito nalaman. Hindi kami nanalo sa contest, pero
nagkaroon pa rin kami ng premyong P1,500.00 na pinaghatian namin.
8. Pagkatapos ng contest, at nung nakapagpalit na ako ng damit, binabalik ko kay Wella ang
costume ko. Sabi niya iuwi ko daw ito dahil gagamitin ko ito sa Miss Education contest, sa
presentation ng mga candidates. Mula sa studio, nagpunta kaming lahat sa isang kainan sa
tapat ng Delta at, pagkatapos namin kumain, humiwalay yung ibang kasama namin.
9. Dinala ako ni Wella sa isang department store at binili niya ako ng sandals. Inikot niya ako
sa lugar na yon at binili niya ako ng pagakain. Tapos ay sumakay kami ng bus pauwi sa
Laguna. Nung nasa bus kami, niyaya ako ni Wella na magpunta sa bahay ni Mayor para
magpasalamat ng personal para sa costume namin. Pumayag ako at sabi ko kay Wella na
sunduin niya ako sa bahay ng 10:00 a.m. sa susunod na araw, Sept. 12. Nakarating ako sa
bahay ng 5:00 p.m. ng araw na yon, Sept. 11.
10. Nung Sept. 12, hinintay ko si Wella ng 10:00 a.m. Nung hindi siya dumating umalis
kaming Tita ko dahil sinamahan ko siya sa health center. Sumundo pala si Wella doon, pero

hindi kami nagkita kasi saglit lang kami doon. Bumalik siya sa bahay, at doon na kami
nagkita. Tapos ay umalis kami ni Wella papunta kay Mayor. Tumawid kami ng kalye, at
pumara ako ng tricycle. Pero kahit marami na akong pinara, ayaw ni Wella na sumakay doon.
Maya-maya, may tricyle na dumating na hindi naman pinara ni Wella. Basta huminto na lang
sa harap namin. Doon kami sumakay ni Wella. Si Wella ang nagturo sa driver kung saan kami
pupunta. Nag-uusap sila ng driver habang papunta kami kay Mayor.
11. Bumaba kami sa tapat ng bahay na bukas ang gate. May swimming pool sa loob, alam na
alam ni Wella and, pasikot-sikot nang bahay; tuloy-tuloy siya sa loob at sumunod naman ako.
Wala kaming taong nakita, pero bukas pati yung pintuan ng bahay. Dinala ako ni Wella sa
sala. Napakaganda ng loob ng bahay. Mayroong wall paper na may design na leaves and
flowers; may carpet sa sahig. May mahabang hagdan patungo sa dalawang pintuan.
12. Tinanong ko kay Wella kung nasaan si Mayor. Sabi niya ay nasa munisipyo daw; darating
na daw maya-maya. Pagkaraan ng mga 15 minutes, dumating si Mayor na nakasakay sa
green na kotse. Lumabas siya sa kaliwang pintuan sa harap ng kotse. Wala siyang kasama.
13. Pumasok si Mayor sa loob ng bahay. Naghubad siya ng sapatos. Sabi ni Wella: "Mayor, si
Juvie; Juvie si Mayor."
14. Umupo si Mayor sa tabi ko. Kinamayan niya ako at sinabi niya: "Hi, I'm Arthur" sabay
hinalikan niya sa ako sa lips. Hindi ako naka-react dahil nagulat at kinabahan ako.
15. Nagmamadaling nagpaalam si Wella. Kinuha ni Mayor ang wallet sa bulsa sa likod ng
kanyang pantalon. Dumukot siya ng P1,000 na buo. Inabot niya ito kay Wella. Patayo na ako
pero hinawakan ni Mayor ang braso ko. Wag daw akong sasama kay Wella. Sinabi ko kay
Wella na wag niya akong iiwanan, pero parang wala siyang narinig. Basta tuloy-tuloy siyang
umalis.
16. Nung, kami na lang ni Mayor ang natira, pinainom niya ako ng mineral water. Uminom
ako dahil nauuhaw ako. Nanlabo ang paningin ko at nanghina ako.
17. Nawalan ako ng malay. Ang sumunod ko na lang na natatandaan ay nandoon na ako sa
kwarto. Wala akong damit. Nakadagan si Mayor sa akin. May malaking salamin sa pader.
Doon ko nakita na walang kadamit-damit si Mayor.
18. Hawak ako ni Mayor sa magkabilang braso. Pinipisil niya ito kaya nagkaroon ako ng pasa
sa kaliwang braso (at ito ay nawala lang pagkatapos ng tatlong araw).
19. Naramdaman ko na pilit na pinasok ni Mayor ang ari niya sa aking ari. Nasaktan ako.
Nagmakaawa ako. Umiiyak ako nung sinabi ko sa kanya na tigilan niya ako; nasasaktan ako;
may anak rin siyang babae. Sabi niya wag daw akong maingay at i-embrace ko na lang daw
siya. Lalo akong umiyak dahil nandidiri ako sa kanya, at sa ginagawa niya sa akin. Naghalo
ang galit, pandidiri at takot. Wala akong magawa kundi magmakaawa. Hindi ko siya
maitulak dahil nanghihina ako, nakadagan siya sa akin, mataba siya, at hawak-hawak niya
ang braso ko. Pero kahit nagmamakaawa ako, tinuloy pa rin niya at pinasok niya ulit ang ari
niya sa aking ari.
20. Maya-maya ay tumigil siya. Tumayo siya at sabi niya: "ang panty mo, nasa tabi mo."
Kinuha ko ang panty ko, tumayo ako at sinuot ko ito. Hinanap ko ang damit ko, at nakita ko
ang walking shorts, bra at t-shirt ko sa sahig. Pinulot ko ito at sinuot ko. Habang sinusuot ko,
umiiyak pa rin ako. Pagkatapos kong magbihis, umupo ako sa mahabang upuan sa may gilid
ng kama.
21. Samantala, paqkatapos sabihin ni Mayor na nasa tabi ko ang panty ko, nagpunta siya sa
banyo na transparent ang pinto. Wala siyang suot pagpunta niya doon. Paglabas niya,
nakasuot na siya ng checkered brief na kulay black and white. Pumunta siya sa kabilang
gilid ng kama. Kinuha niya ang damit niya na nakahanger sa pader. Sinuot niya ito. Lumabas
siya ng kwarto. Hindi nagtagal ay pumasok siya ulit at sinabi niya na nandiyan na daw ang
sundo ko.

22. Tumayo ako. Sinabi ko na aalis na ako. Nung papunta na ako sa pintuan, lumapit si
Mayor sa akin. May hawak-hawak siyang dalawang pirasong P1,000. Tiniklop niya ito;
binaba niya yung neckline ng t-shirt ko, at pinasok niya ang pera sa aking bra. Nagalit ako.
Kinuha ko ang pera at tinapon ko ito sa kanya. Sabi ko hindi ako bayarang babae. Nagalit
siya at pinagbantaan ako. Sabi niya: "Pag nagsalita ka, alam mo na kung ano ang mangyayari
sa iyo." Tiningnan ko siya, at umalis ako pababa.
23. Mayroon tricycle na nakaabang sa labas. Sumunod si Mayor. Lumapit siya sa driver at
binigyan niya ito ng P100. Tapos ay umalis na kami.
24. Umiiyak pa rin ako nung nasa tricycle. Sabi ko sa driver na ginahasa ako ni Mayor. Sabi
niya masuwerte daw ako at maaga akong pinauwi dahil yung mga ibang babae daw na
dinadala kay Mayor ay pinauwi ng madaling-araw o hating-gabi. Minsan dalawa o tatlo pa
nga daw ang dinadala doon, at yung iba ay naka-uniform pa. Naawa daw siya sa akin, kaya
magsumbong daw ako. Nakokonsensiya daw siya dahil isa siya sa dalawang tricycle driver
na naghahatid ng mga babae doon. Sabi pa nga niya, babae din daw ang ina niya, kaya din
siya nakokonsensiya. Dinagdag pa niya na kung may kasiyahan kina Mayor, isang van ng
mga babae ang nadoon. Pagdating namin sa bahay ng Lola ko, sabi niya bago siya umalis:
"Lumaban ka."
On December 13, 1996, the private complainant thru her counsel, Atty. Remedios C. Balbin
and Asst. Chief State Prosecutor Leonardo Guiab, Jr., of the Department of Justice petitioned
this Court for a change of venue. They cited as ground the "great danger to the lives of both
the private complainant, the immediate members of her family, and their witnesses as they
openly defy the principal accused, Mayor Alonte who is acknowledged as a powerful political
figure and almost an institution in Bian, Laguna . . ."
On March 31, 1997, the private complainant, thru the then Secretary of Justice, the
Honorable Teofisto Guingona and Chief State Prosecutor Jovencio Zuno filed a Manifestation
and Motion for the early resolution of the petition for change of venue. They submitted the
affidavits of the private complainant, her counsel Atty. Remedios C. Balbin, Dolores MercadoYambao, Bienvenido Salandanan and Evelyn Celso to prove their allegation that they "are
exposed to kidnapping, harassment, veiled threats and tempting offers of bribe money all
intended to extract an 'affidavit of desistance' from the private complainant." Worth bright
lining are the two (2) affidavits of Atty. Remedios C. Balbin, counsel for the private
complainant, relating the fantastic amount of P10M bribe money allegedly offered to her.
The first affidavit dated February 24, 1997 states:
I, Remedios C. Balbin, of legal age, Filipino, married, with residence at #5 Uranus Street,
Congressional Avenue Subdivision, Quezon City, after having duly sworn in accordance with
law, depose and say:
1. That I am the Private Prosecutor in Criminal Case No. 96-19-B for rape, filed with the
Bian RTC, Branch 25, entitled "People of the Philippines vs. Bayani Arthur Alonte, et al.;
2. That as Private Prosecutor, it is my avowed duty to be faithful to the interests of my client,
Ms. Juvie-lyn Punongbayan;
3. That on several occasions, I was visited at my Office at the Quezon City Hall Compound,
by a lawyer who introduced himself as Atty. Leo C. Romero, representing the Accused Mayor
Bayani Arthur Alonte;
4. That my calendar at the People's Bureau, Quezon City Hall, shows that he came to see me
about eight (8) times, but we talked only about three (3) times because I was always busy
attending to the problems of Quezon City's urban poor and the landowners of private
properties illegally occupied by them;
5. That in two (2) occasions, Atty. Romero conveyed to me the message of Mayor Alonte,
namely, to drop the rape case against him, and that he would give a consideration of Ten
Million Pesos (P10 Million) to be apportioned as follows:

Five Million Pesos (P5M) for the Private Complainant


Three Million Pesos (P3M) for me as Private Prosecutor
Two Million Pesos (P2M) for him as the mediator
6. That I explained to Atty. Romero that money does not matter at all to the Complainant and
her family even if they have very modest means; that they want justice, which means a
conviction for the charge of rape;
7. That I also explained to Atty. Romero that the money he was offering me was of no
consequence to me because I had access to the resources of my two (2) daughters, both of
whom are in the medical field abroad, and of Mr. Filomeno Balbin, Labor Attached then
assigned in Riyadh;
8. That I told him that I cannot be tempted with his offer because spiritual consideration are
more important to me than the material. Also, that I usually handle cases pro bono (at
abunado pa) where the litigant is in dire need of legal assistance but cannot afford to pay for
the lawyer's fees, as in Juvie-lyn's case;
9. That I gave Atty. Romero a copy of the decision of the Supreme Court promulgated
December 10 1996, entitled "People of the Philippines vs. Robert Cloud" (GR No. 119359:
Crim. Case No. Q-90-12660) for parricide involving the death of a 2 1/2 year old boy. I wrote
on page one of the xerox copy of the decision: "To Atty. Leo Romero so you will
understand," and to which I affixed my signature.
10. That I told him explicitly: "we cannot simplify the entire proceedings. You advise Mayor
Alonte to surrender (one mitigating circumstance), plead guilty (another mitigating
circumstance), get a conviction and suffer the corresponding penalty. Otherwise, we have
nothing to talk about."
11. That I emphasized that his suggestion for Mayor Alonte to plead guilty to "act of
lasciviousness" merely was ridiculous;
12. That when the Complainant's Affidavit on the offer of Ms. Emily Vasquez for a valuable
consideration in exchange for an affidavit of desistance in the rape was exposed by media,
Atty. Romero came to see me and thanked me for not exposing him in similar fashion. I
assured him that he will not be an exception and that I was just too busy then to execute an
affidavit on the matter, as I do now;
13. That I have not received other similar offers of valuable material consideration from any
other person, whether private party or government official; However, I have been separately
advised by several concerned persons that I was placing my personal safety at great risk.
The victim's family will have great difficulty in finding another lawyer to "adopt" them in the
way I did, which gives them strength to pursue their case with confidence and the accused
Mayor is aware that I am the obstacle to an out-of-court settlement of the case. Also, that I
had my hands full, as it is, as the Head of the QC People's Bureau, Housing Development
Center, and Special Task Force an Squatting and Resettlement, and the numerous cases filed
by me or against me, connected with my performance of official duties, and I should not add
more legal problems despite my authority to engage in private law practice.
14. That this affidavit is executed in order to put on record the attempt to influence me
directly, in exchange for valuable consideration to drop the rape charge against Mayor
Bayani Arthur Alonte.
February 24, 1997, City of Manila.
SGD. REMEDIOS C. BALBIN
REMEDIOS C. BALBIN
SUBSCRIBED AND SWORN to before me this 26th day of March, 1997, Metro Manila.

Community Tax Certificate 5208733


Date Issue 2-10-97
Quezon City
NOTARY PUBLIC
SGD. JUANITO L. GARCIA
ATTY. JUANITO L. GARCIA
NOTARY PUBLIC
UNTIL Dec. 31, 1997
PTR No. 63-T-033457
ISSUED AT MLA. ON 1-2-97
TAN161-570-81
Doc. No. 950;
Page No. 170;
Series of 1997.
In her second Affidavit dated March 26, 1997, Atty. Balbin declared in no uncertain language
that the bribe offer for private complainant to make a desistance was increased from
P10,000.00 to P20,000.00, viz:
REPUBLIC OF THE PHILIPPINES )
CITY OF MANILA ) s.s.
AFFIDAVIT
I, REMEDIOS C. BALBIN, of legal age, Filipino, married, and with postal address at No. 5
Uranus Street, Congressional Avenue Subdivision Quezon City, after having duly sworn in
accordance with law, depose and say:
1. That I am the Private Prosecutor in the rape case filed by the "minor Juvie-Lyn
Punongbayan against Mayor Bayani Arthur Alonte of Bian, Laguna.
2. That earlier, I reported to Secretary Teofisto Guingona, State Prosecutor Jovencio R. Zuno,
Asst. Chief State Prosecutor Leonardo Guiyab, Jr., and Director Jude Romano of the Witness
Protection Program, the instances of substantial amounts amounting to several millions, to
my client, to her relatives, including her maternal grandmother, and to myself;
3. That despite the published declaration by the Department of Justice of its determination
to prosecute those who offered the bribes, new emissaries of Mayor Alonte persist in making
offers, as follows:
a. On Thursday, March 6, 1997, at about 3:15 o'clock in the afternoon, Atty. Dionisio S. Daga
came to see me at my office at the People's Bureau, Office of the Mayor, of Squatting case
which I filed against his clients;
b. That after a brief exchange on the status of the case, he confided to me his real purpose;
c. That he started off by saying that he was the legal counsel of the gambling lords of
Malabon for which he gets a monthly retainer of fifteen thousand pesos (P15,000.00),
exclusive of transportation expenses, etc.
d. The he also stated that the network of gambling lords throughout the country is quite
strong and unified;
e. That I then asked him: "What do you mean is Alonte into gambling too? that he is part

of the network you speak of?"


f. That Atty. Daga did not reply but instead said: "they are prepared to double the offer made
to you by Atty. Romero which was published in the newspapers" at P10 Million;
g. That I told him that all the money in the world will not make me change my position
against my client's executing a desistance, and that only Alonte's voluntary surrender, plea
of guilty in rape, conviction and the imposition of the corresponding penalty will satisfy the
ends of justice;
h. That I told him that my client's case is not isolated, there being five (5) other minors
similarly placed; and Alonte should be stopped from doing more harm;
i. That Atty. Daga then told me in Pilipino "if you do not accede to a desistance, then, they
will be forced to . . .".
j. That because he did not complete his sentence, I asked him directly: "What do you mean?
What do you intend to do? And he replied: Go on with the case Buy the Judge."
k. That unbelieving, I reacted, saying; "but they have already done so, Judge Francisco at
Binan suddenly changed his attitude towards the Prosecution. Perhaps, you are referring to
the next judge when the petition for change of venue is finally granted?"
1. That Atty. Daga did not reply, and he reiterated that his principals, referring to them again
as "gambling lords," want a desistance, after which he excused himself and left.
4. That I execute this Affidavit to attest to the truth of the incident with Atty. Dionisio S.
Daga which occurred in the afternoon of March 6, 1997, at my Office, stressing herein my
surprise over his daring in making yet another monetary offer to me in exchange for my
client's desistance and my feeling of fear for the first time since I started "handling" this
case against Alonte;
5. That despite what I perceived as veiled threats of Atty. Daga, I will seek justice in behalf of
Juvie-Lyn Punongbayan, with the indispensable initiatives, participation and support of the
Department of Justice under Secretary Teofisto Guingona.
FURTHER AFFIANT SAYETH NAUGHT.
SGD. REMEDIOS C. BALBIN
ATTY. REMEDIOS C. BALBIN
Affiant
REPUBLIC OF THE PHILIPPINES )
CITY OF MANILA ) S.S.
SUBSCRIBED AND SWORN TO BEFORE ME this 26th day of March, 1997.
Community Tax Certificate 5208733
Date Issued 2-10-97
Quezon City
Notary Public
SGD. JUANITO L. GARCIA
ATTY. JUANITO L. GARCIA
NOTARY PUBLIC
UNTIL DEC. 31, 1997
PTR NO. 63-T-033457

ISSUED AT MLA. ON 1-287


TAN -161-570-81
Doc. No. 948;
Book No. 190;
Page No. XLIII;
Series of 1997.
After the alleged bribe money was increased from P10M to P20M the complexion of the case
changed swiftly.
On June 25, 1997, Atty. Balbin filed a Motion to Resume Proceedings in Br. 25 of the RTC of
Bian, Laguna. Attached to the Motion was the Affidavit of Desistance of the private
complainant which states:
I, Juvie-lyn Yambao Punongbayan, 17 years of age, a resident of No. 5 Uranus Street,
Congressional Avenue Subdivision, Quezon City, duly assisted by private legal counsel and
my parents, after having duly sworn in accordance with law, depose and say:
1. That I am the Complainant in the rape case filed against Mayor Bayani "Arthur" Alonte of
Bian, Laguna, with the RTC-Branch 25 of Binan, Laguna;
2. That the case has been pending for some time, on preliminary issues, specifically, (a)
change of venue, filed with the Supreme Court; (b) propriety of the appeal to the Court of
Appeals, and after its denial by said court, brought to the Office of the President, on the
veracity of the findings of the Five-Man Investigating Panel of the State Prosecutor's Office,
and the Secretary of Justice and (c) a hold-departure order filed with the Bian Court;
3. That the legal process moves ever so slowly, and meanwhile, I have already lost two (2)
semesters of my college residence. And when the actual trial is held after all the preliminary
issues are finally resolved, I anticipate a still indefinite suspension of my schooling to attend
the hearings;
4. That during the entire period since I filed the case, my family has lived a most abnormal
life: my father and mother had to give up their jobs; my younger brother, who is in fourth
grade, had to stop his schooling, like myself;
5. That I do not blame anyone for the long, judicial process; I simply wish to stop and live
elsewhere with my family, where we can start life anew, and live normally once again;
6. That I pray that I be allowed to withdraw my complaint for rape and the other charge for
child abuse wherein the Five-Man investigating Penal of the Office of the State Prosecutor
found a prima facie case although the information has not been filed, and that I will not at
any time revive this, and related cases or file new cases whether, criminal, civil and/or
administrative here or anywhere in the Philippines;
7. That I likewise realize that the execution of this Affidavit will put to doubt my credibility
as a witness-complainant;
8. That this is my final decision reached without fear or favor, premised on a corresponding
commitment that there will be no reprisals in whatever form, against members of the police
force or any friends who extended assistance to me in whatever way, in my search for
justice.
WHEREOF, I affix my signature, this 25th day of June, 1997, in Quezon City.
SGD. JUVIE-LYN Y. PUNONGBAYAN
JUVIE-LYN Y. PUNONGBAYAN

Assisted by:
SGD. REMEDIOS C. BALBIN
ATTY. REMEDIOS C. BALBIN
Private Prosecutor
In the presence of:
SGD. PABLO PUNONGBAYAN
PABLO PUNONGBAYAN
Father
SGD. JULIE Y. PUNONGBAYAN
JULIE Y. PUNONGBAYAN
Mother
SUBSCRIBED AND SWORN to before me this 25 the day of June, 1997, in Quezon City.
SGD. ILLEGIBLE
Administering Officer
RTC Branch 94
Quezon City
Obviously, the Motion to Resume Proceedings was intended to get the trial court's approval
for the dismissal of the rape case against the petitioners.
Indeed, three days thereafter or on June 28, 1997, Atty. Ramon C. Casino moved in behalf of
the petitioners to dismiss the petition for change of venue then pending in this Court citing
the affidavit of desistance of the private complainant. On August 22, 1997, however, Asst.
Chief State Prosecutor Guiyab opposed the motion. He alleged that he has control of the
prosecution of the rape case and that he was not aware of the desistance of the private
complainant.
The legal maneuvers to dismiss the rape case against the petitioners on the basis of the
alleged affidavit of desistance of the private complainant did not find the favor of this Court.
On September 2, 1997, this Court unanimously granted the petition for change of venue,
ruling among others, viz:
xxx xxx xxx
These affidavits give specific names, dates and methods being used to abort, by coercion or
corruption, the prosecution of Criminal Case No. 9619-B. It is thus incorrect for oppositors
Alonte and Concepcion to contend that the fear of the petitioner, her private counsel and her
witnesses are too generalized if not fabricated. Indeed, the probability that in desisting from
pursuing her complaint for rape, petitioner, a minor, may have succumbed to some illicit
influence and undue pressure. To prevent possible miscarriage of justice is good excuse to
grant the petition to transfer the venue of Criminal Case No. 9619-B from Bian, Laguna to
the City of Manila.
IN VIEW WHEREOF, the Petition for Change of Venue from Bian, Laguna to the City of
Manila is granted. The Executive Judge of RTC Manila is ordered to raffle Crim. Case No.
9619-B to any of its branches. The judge to whom Crim. Case No. 9619-B shall be raffled
shall resolve the petitioner's Motion to Resume Proceedings filed in Br. XXV of the RTC of
Bian, Laguna and determine the voluntariness and validity of petitioner's desistance in light
of the opposition of the public prosecutor, Asst. Chief State Prosecutor Leonardo Guiyab. The
branch clerk of court of Br. XXV of the RTC of Bian, Laguna is ordered to personally deliver
to the Executive Judge of Manila the complete records of Crim. Case No. 9619-B upon

receipt of this Resolution.


On September 17, 1997, Criminal Case No. 9619-B (re-docketed by the Clerk of Court of
Manila as Crim. Case No. 97-159955) was raffled to Br. 53 of the RTC of Manila, presided by
the respondent judge, the Honorable Maximo A. Savellano.
On October 9, 1997, the respondent judge issued warrants of arrest against the petitioners
after a finding of probable cause.
On October 28, 1997, an Administrative Order of the DOJ was issued empowering First
Assistant City Prosecutor Marilyn R. O. Campomanes to prosecute the case at bar. Asst.
Chief State Prosecutor Leonardo Guiab, Jr., who opposed the affidavit of desistance was
relieved from the case. The reason given in the Administrative Order was ". . . in the interest
of public service." Prosecutor Campomanes was authorized "to move for its (case) dismissal
if the evidence on record so warrant . . ."1
The arraignment of the petitioners took place on November 7, 1997. The State was
represented by Prosecutor Marilyn Campomanes. Petitioner Alonte was represented by Atty.
Jose Flaminiano and Atty. Sigfrid A. Fortun. Petitioner Concepcion was represented by Atty.
Ramon C. Casano. Atty. Remedios Balbin who had previously exposed under oath the threats
to the life of the private complainant and her witnesses and the repeated attempts to buy
complainant's desistance was absent. 2
Petitioners pled not guilty to the charge of rape upon their arraignment. 3 Pre-trial was then
waived by both the prosecution and the defense. The proceedings continued and Prosecutor
Campomanes presented the private complainant, Ms. Punongbayan who testified on her affidavit
of desistance. She declared that her desistance was her "personal" decision with the consent of
her parents. 4 She said she was neither paid nor pressured to desist. On questions by the
respondent judge, however, she affirmed the truth of her affidavit dated October 31, 1996 that
she was raped by petitioner Alonte. Prosecutor Campomanes marked and offered her affidavit of
desistance as Exhibit "A". 5 She called on other witnesses to testify on the voluntariness of the
affidavit of desistance. The parents of the complainant Pablo 6 and Julie 7 Punongbayan
declared that they did not receive any monetary consideration for the desistance of their minor
daughter. Neither were they pressured to give their consent to the desistance. Fourth Asst.
Provincial Prosecutor Alberto Nofuente averred that the affidavit of desistance was signed and
sworn to before him in the presence of the complainant's parents and private counsel, Atty.
Balbin. He said he explained the affidavit to them and that the complainant voluntarily signed the
same. 8
After their testimonies, Prosecutor Campomanes made the manifestation that "with the
presentation of our witnesses and the marking of our documents (sic) we are now closing the
case and that we are praying for the dismissal of the case. 9 The respondent judge ruled "the
case is submitted for decision." 10 Atty. Flaminiano orally prayed that petitioner Alonte be
granted bail and Prosecutor Campomanes offered no objection. 11
On November 10, 1997, petitioner Alonte filed an Urgent Motion to Admit to Bai1. 12 In her
Comment, Prosecutor Campomanes agreed and averred, viz.: 13
xxx xxx xxx

1. That she received a copy of the Petition for Bail.


2. That on the hearing of the instant case on November 7, 1997, the Prosecution presented
its witnesses who vehemently signified their intention not to further prosecute the case in
Court and there being no other witnesses to present, the undersigned is left with no
alternative but to seek the dismissal of the considering that without the testimony of said
witnesses this case has nothing to stand on in Court.
3. That for the aforestated reason, the People interposes no objection to the granting of Bail
and in fact justice and equity dictate that it joins the accused in his prayer for the granting
of bail in the amount of P150,000 (ONE HUNDRED FIFTY THOUSAND PESOS).

4. That for the aforementioned bases, the People hereby manifests its position that the case
be immediately dismissed or at least the accused be granted bail since the record proves
that there is no more evidence to sustain the charge against him such that the granting of
bail is proper and in order.
5. That as a general rule, a hearing on the petition for bail is necessary to prove that the
guilt is not strong but in this particular case there is no need for hearing since the
prosecution cannot prove its case against the accused as it has no other evidence or
witnesses to be presented.
On November 17, 1997, petitioner Alonte, thru counsel, filed an Urgent Plea to Resolve the
Motion for Bail. 14 On the same date, Prosecutor Campomanes manifested that "she deems it
proper and in accord with justice and fair play to join the aforestated motion." 15
On November 25, 1997, December 1, 1997, December 8, 1997 and December 10, 1997,
petitioner Alonte filed a Second, Third, Fourth, and Fifth Motion early for resolution of his
petition for bail. 16 In all these motions, Atty. Fortun, counsel of petitioner Alonte, alleged that
copy of the motion . . . could not be served in person upon the private prosecutor" (Atty. Balbin)
in light of the distance between their offices. 17 He relied on section 13, Rule 11 of the 1997
Rules on Civil Procedure. The motions were not resolved by the respondent judge.
On December 18, 1997, the respondent judge promulgated his Decision convicting the
petitioners and sentencing them to reclusion perpetua. On whether of the affidavit of
desistance can be a ground for dismissal of the rape case against the petitioners, the
respondent judge held:
The first issue to be determined and resolved is the "voluntariness and validity of petitioner's
desistance in the light of the opposition of the public prosecutor Asst. Chief State Prosecutor
Leonardo Guiab." (p. 7, SC Resolution En Banc, dated September 2, 199/.7; [Rollo, p. 253]) It
is appropriate to quote again a portion of the 7-page Resolution En Banc of the highest
tribunal, to wit; "Indeed, the probability (exists) that in desisting from pursuing her
complaint for rape, petitioner, a minor, may have succumbed to some illicit influence and
undue pressure. To prevent possible miscarriage of justice is a good excuse to grant the
petition for change of venue . . ." (Rollo, p. 202).
The Court shall narrate the facts leading to the desistance of the private complainant which
are embodied in the two (2) affidavits of her lawyer, Atty. Remedios C. Balbin, with whom the
private complainant lives at No. 5 Uranus St., Congressional Avenue Subdivision, Quezon
City. One affidavit is dated May 24 1997, (sic) while March 26, 1997. The said affidavits are
attached as exhibits to the aforementioned Manifestation and Motion for the Resolution of
Petition for Change of Venue filed by the private complainant Juvie-Lyn Y. Punongbayan. Exh.
"C", dated May 24, 1997, (Rollo, pp. 216-219) is hereby quoted as follows:
xxx xxx xxx
It clearly appears in the abovequoted affidavit that repeated bribe offers from a lawyer
representing the accused Mayor Bayani Arthur Alonte in the total amount of Ten Million
Pesos (P10,000,000.00) were made to Atty. Balbin, allocated as follows: (1) Five Million
Pesos (5,000,000.00) for the private complainant Juvie-lyn Y. Punongbayan; (2) Three Million
Pesos (P3,000,000.00) for her (Atty. Balbin); and (3) Two Million Pesos (P2,000,000.00) for
the mediator.
In the subsequent affidavit, dated March 26, 1997, executed by Atty. Remedios C. Balbin
(Exh. F, Rollo, pp. 224-225) she narrated in detail the continuing veiled threats and the very
tempting and escalating offer to increase the amount of the bribe money offered to her and
the private complainant after her first affidavit, by doubling the first offer of Ten Million
Pesos (P10,000,000.00) to Twenty Million Pesos (P20,000,000.00), in exchange for her
client's desistance, but also accompanied with veiled threats, if refused. Said affidavit is
quoted, as follows:

xxx xxx xxx


The Court underscores paragraphs (b), (c), (d), (e), (f), (g), (h), (i), (j), (k), and (l),
particularly paragraphs (i), (j) and specially paragraph (k) of the abovequoted affidavit of
Atty. Balbin which insinuates that the presiding Judge of the RTC Bian, Laguna, had already
been bought, and that accused Alonte thru his numerous emissaries, will also buy or bribe
the "the next judge when the petition for change of venue is finally granted." In view of this
insinuation, the undersigned presiding Judge is very careful in deciding this case, lest he be
placed under suspicion that he is also receiving blood money that continues to flow. The
Court wants to have internal peace the peace which money cannot buy. Money is the root
of all evil. The Holy Holy Scriptures also remind judges and jurists: "You shall not act
dishonestly in rendering judgment. Show neither partiality to the weak nor deterrence to the
mighty, but judge your fellow men justly," (Leviticus 19:15). The Scriptures further say:
"What does it profit a man if he gains the whole world but suffers the loss of his soul?" (Mt.
16:26) and "No one can serve two (2) masters. . . You cannot serve God and mammon." (Mt.
6:24, Luke 16:13). It is not out of place to quote the Holy Scriptures because the Honorable
Supreme Court has been doing so in its quest for truth and justice. Thus, People vs. Garcia,
209 SCRA 164, 174, the highest tribunal, in ruling that the flight of an accused is evidence of
guilt on his part, quoted the old Testament, as follows:
It was written in the literature of Old Testament several centuries ago that:
The wicked man fleeth though no man pursueth, but the righteous are as bold
as a lion.
(Proverbs, 28:1)
Subsequently, on June 25, 1997, the private complainant and her lawyer suddenly
somersaulted or changed their common positions or attitudes in the prosecution of this case.
Evidently, veiled threats and money had replaced the "spiritual consideration" which earlier,
to them were "more important than the material" to quote Atty. Balbin in her first affidavit
(Rollo, p. 217), and her reply to Atty. Dionisio S. Daga that "all the money in the world will
not make me change my position against my client's executing a desistance, and that only
Alonte's voluntary surrender, plea of guilty to rape, conviction and the imposition of the
corresponding penalty will satisfy the ends of justice.
On June 26, 1997, the private complainant thru her counsel, Atty. Remedios C. Balbin, filed a
Motion to Resume Proceedings, dated June 25, 1997, (Rollo, pp. 238-244) praying therein
that the RTC, Bian, Laguna, where this case was still pending, vacate its Order to Suspend
Hearings, to enable it to act on all incidents including private Complainant's Affidavit of
Desistance attached thereto. (Rollo, pp. 240-241) which affidavit of desistance is quoted
hereunder as follows:
xxx xxx xxx
This Court, as the trier of facts, is tasked by the highest tribunal to find out if the private
complainant, a minor "may have succumbed to some illicit influence and undue pressure, in
order to prevent a possible miscarriage of justice." Evidently, the veiled threats and
acceptance of the bribe money in allocated amounts which was subsequently raised to the
irresistible amount of at least P20,000,000.00, compelled, impelled and/or tempted the
private complainant her father Pablo Punongbayan and her mother Julie Y. Punongbayan,
and her lawyer and private prosecutor Atty. Remedios C. Balbin, who did not appear in Court
on November 7, 1997, despite notice, to execute the said "Affidavit of Desistance" which was
the ultimate goal of the accused. It is very obvious that the private complainant a minor,
"succumbed to some illicit influence and undue pressure," to borrow the language of the
Honorable Supreme Court En Banc. It would be the height of extreme naivete or gullibility
for any normal individual to conclude otherwise. The Court does not believe that the private
complainant, her lawyer, and her parents charged but in exchange for a plea of guilty the
charge is reduced to homicide and the accused is allowed to claim a number of mitigating

circumstances. It is not uncommon for estafa, libel, physical injuries and even homicide
cases to be dismissed because the complainant has lost interest or alleged that the
complaint was filed as a result of a misunderstanding. A number of examples can be given
and they can fill a book."
Again, in People vs. Evangelista, L-45089, April 27, 1982, 113 SCRA 713, 720, the Supreme
Court further declared:
It may be noted that the crimes in question (forcible abduction with rape) are among those
enumerated in Article 344 of the Revised Penal Code, which crimes cannot be prosecuted de
officio. In other words, the crimes of abduction and rape are in the nature of private offense,
inasmuch as the law has reposed "the right to institute such proceedings exclusively and
successively in the offended person, her parents, grandparents or guardian" . . . Accordingly,
if after filing the case at face at bar decided that she was unable to face the scandal of public
trial, or, if for some private reason she preferred to suffer the outraged in silence, then,
corollary to her right institute the proceedings, she should have been allowed to withdraw
her complaint and desist from prosecuting the case (Emphasis supplied).
Petitioner Concepcion did not submit any motion for reconsideration. Without waiting for the
resolution of his motion for reconsideration, petitioner Alonte repaired to this Court. So did
petitioner Concepcion.
Without doubt, the petitions at bar raise two (2) fulcrum issues: (1) the correctness of the
ruling of the respondent judge that the desistance of the complainant is not a ground to
dismiss the rape charge against the petitioners, and (2) the invalidity of petitioners'
conviction on the ground of denial of due process.
I agree with the learned disquisition of Mr. Justice Vitug that we should set aside the
conviction of the petitioners for patent violation of their right to due process of law. I write
this Separate Opinion to highlight the erroneousness of the shocking stance of the State
Prosecutor that the rape charge should be dismissed in view of the desistance of the private
complainant. But our ruling giving no effect on the affidavit of desistance should not based
on the reason that it was procured by threat or intimidation or any payment of money as the
respondent judge opined in his Decision. The respondent judge arrived at this conclusion on
the basis of the affidavits of Atty. Balbin, the counsel of the private complainant. This is
erroneous for Atty. Balbin was never called to the witness stand to testify on the truth of her
affidavits. Her affidavits therefore are hearsay evidence and should not have been relied
upon by the respondent judge. The affidavit of desistance cannot abort the rape charge
against the petitioners on the simple ground that it did not state that the private
complainant-affiant was not raped by petitioner Alonte. In truth, the private complainant
affirmed her earlier Reply-Affidavit where she narrated in detail how petitioner Alonte raped
her. Moreover, the rape charge has been filed in Court and it is not anymore the absolute
privilege of the camplainant to desist from continuing with the case.
This separate opinion unequivocably addresses the issue of whether the desistance of the
victim can stop the further prosecution of the petitioners.
I
In Philippine jurisprudence, desistance has been equated with recantation or retraction.
To "recant" means to "withdraw or repudiate formally and publicly;" 18 "to renounce or
withdraw prior statement." 19 To "retract" means to "take back;" "to retract an offer is to
withdraw it before acceptance." 20 A recantation usually applies to a complainant or witness,
either for the prosecution or the defense, who has previously given an extra-judicial
statement 21 or testimony in court. 22 Repudiation may be made in writing, i.e., by sworn
statement, 23 or by testifying on the witness stand. 24
Mere retraction by a witness or by complainant of his or her testimony does not necessarily
vitiate the original testimony or statement, if credible. 25 The general rule is that courts look

with disfavor upon retractions of testimonies previously given in court. 26 This rule applies to
crimes, 27 offenses 28 as well as to administrative offenses. 29 The reason is because affidavits of
retraction can easily be secured from poor and ignorant witnesses, usually through intimidation
or for monetary consideration. 30 Moreover, there is always the probability that they will later be
repudiated 31 and there would never be an end to criminal litigation. 32 It would also be a
dangerous rule for courts to reject testimonies solemnly taken before courts of justice simply
because the witnesses who had given them later on changed their minds for one reason or
another. This would make solemn trials a mockery and place the investigation of the truth at the
mercy of unscrupulous witnesses. 33

The general rule notwithstanding, the affidavit should not be peremptorily dismissed as a
useless scrap of paper. There are instances when a recantation may create serious doubts as
to the guilt of the accused. 34 A retracted statement or testimony must be subject to scrupulous
examination. The previous statement or testimony and the subsequent one must be carefully
compared and the circumstances under which each was given and the reasons and motives for
the change carefully scrutinized. The veracity of each statement or testimony must be tested by
the credibility of the witness which is left for the judge to decide. 35 In short, only where there
exists special circumstances in the case which when coupled with the retraction raise doubts as
to the truth of the testimony or statement given, can a retraction be considered and upheld. 36
A survey of our jurisprudence reveals that the same rule has been applied to affidavits of
desistance. 37 An affidavit of desistance is understood to be a sworn statement executed by a
complainant in a criminal or administrative case that he or she is discontinuing the action filed
upon his or her complaint for whatever reason he or she may cite. The court attaches no
persuasive value to a desistance especially when executed as an afterthought. 38 However, a in
retractions, an affidavit of desistance calls for a reexamination of the records of the case. 39
In private crimes, an affidavit of desistance filed by a private complainant is also frowned
upon by the courts. Although such affidavit may deserve a second look at the case, there is
hardly an instance when this Court upheld it in private crimes and dismissed the case on the
sole basis thereof. Indeed, a case is not dismissed upon mere affidavit of desistance of the
complainant, particularly where there exist special circumstances that raise doubts as to the
reliability of the affidavit. 40
Usually in private crimes, an affidavit of desistance is executed by the private complainant
after pardoning and forgiving the offender. In this instance, the court treats the affidavit as
an express pardon. 41 It does not ipso facto dismiss the case but determines the timeliness and
validity thereof.
Private crimes are crimes against chastity such as adultery and concubinage, seduction,
abduction, rape and acts of lasciviousness. Their institution, prosecution and extinction are
governed by Article 344 of the Revised Penal Code, viz:
Art. 344. Prosecution of the crimes of adultery, concubinage, seduction, abduction, rape and
acts of lasciviousness. The crimes of adultery and concubinage shall not be prosecuted
except upon a complaint filed by the offended spouse.
The offended party cannot institute criminal prosecution without including both the guilty
parties, if they are both alive, nor in any case, if he shall have consented or pardoned the
offenders.
The offenses of seduction, abduction, rape, acts of lasciviousness, shall not be prosecuted
except upon a complaint filed by the offended party or her parents, grand parents, or
guardian, nor in any case, the offender has been expressly pardoned by the above-named
persons, as the case may be.
In cases of seduction, abduction, acts of lasciviousness and rape, the marriage of the
offender with the offended party shall extinguish the criminal action or remit the penalty
already imposed upon him. The provisions of this paragraph shall also be applicable to the
co-principals, accomplices and accessories after the fact of the above-mentioned crimes.

Private crimes cannot be prosecuted except upon complaint filed by the offended party. In
adultery and concubinage, the offended party must implead both the guilty parties and must
not have consented or pardoned the offenders. In seduction, abduction, rape and acts of
lasciviousness, the complaint must be filed by the offended party or her parents,
grandparents or guardian. The complainant must not have expressly pardoned the offender.
Article 344 also provides for the extinction of criminal liability in private crimes. It mentions
two modes: pardon and marriage, which when validly and timely made, result in the total
extinction of criminal liability of the offender. 42 The pardon in private crimes must be made
before the institution of the criminal action. 43 In adultery and concubinage, the pardon may be
express or implied while in seduction, abduction, rape and acts of lasciviousness, the pardon
must be express. In all cases, the pardon must come prior to the institution of the criminal action.
After the case has been filed in court, any pardon made by the private complainant, whether by
sworn statement or on the witness stand, cannot extinguish criminal liability. The only act that
extinguishes the penal action and the penalty that may have been imposed is the marriage
between the offender and the offended party. 44
As this Court declared in the case of Donio-Teves v. Vamenta, Jr.: 45
The term "private crimes" in reference to felonies which cannot be prosecuted except upon
complaint filed by the aggrieved party, is misleading. Far from what it implies, it is not only the
aggrieved party who is offended in such crimes but also the State. Every violation of penal laws
results in the disturbance of public order and safety which the State is committed to uphold and
protect. If the law imposes the condition that private crimes like adultery shall not be prosecuted
except upon complaint filed by the offended party, it is, as herein pointed earlier "out of
consideration for the aggrieved party who might prefer to suffer the outrage in silence rather
than go through the scandal of a public trial." Once a complaint is filed, the will of the offended
party is ascertained and the action proceeds just as in any other crime. This is shown by the fact
that after filing a complaint, any pardon given by the complainant to the offender would be
unavailing. It is true, the institution of the action in so called the private crimes is at the option of
the action of the aggrieved party. But it is equally true that once the choice is made manifest, the
law will be applied in full force beyond the control of, and inspite of the complainant, his death
notwithstanding.

The filing of a complaint in private crimes is merely a condition precedent to the exercise by
the proper authorities of the power to prosecute the guilty parties. 46 It is the complaint that
starts the prosecutory proceeding without which the fiscal and the court cannot exercise
jurisdiction over the case. 47 Once the complaint is filed, the action proceeds just as in any other
crime.
We follow the postulate that a criminal offense is an outrage to the sovereign state 48 and
the right of prosecution for a crime is one of the attributes of the sovereign power. 49 Thus,
criminal actions are usually commenced by the State, through the People of the Philippines, and
the offended party is merely a complaining witness. 50 In private crimes, however, or those which
cannot be prosecuted de oficio, the offended party assumes a more predominant role since the
right to commence the action or refrain therefrom, is a matter exclusively within his power and
option. 51 The sovereign state deems it the wiser policy, in private crimes, to let the aggrieved
party and her family decide whether to expose to public view the vices, faults and disgraceful
acts occurring in the family. 52 But once the offended party files the complaint, her will is
ascertained and the action proceeds just as in any other crime. The decision of the complainant
to undergo the scandal of a public trial necessarily witness connotes the willingness to face the
scandal. 53The private complainant is deemed to have shed off her privacy and the crime ceases
to be "private" and becomes "public." The State, through the fiscal, takes over the prosecution of
the case and the victim's change of heart and mind will not affect the State's right to vindicate
the outrage against the violation of its law. 54
This is the reason why pardon in crimes of chastity must come before the institution of the
criminal action. Pardon by the offended party extinguishes criminal liability when made
while the crime is still "private" and within the control of the offended party. But once the
case is filed in court, the

pardon cannot ipso facto operate to dismiss the case. After the institution of the criminal
action, any pardon given by the complainant to the offender would be unavailing, 55 except
of course when the offender validly marries the offended party. 56 The offended party's pardon of
the offender in a seduction case after the criminal action had been instituted constitutes no bar
to said action. 57 A pardon given in a rape case after the filing of the action in court "comes too
late to hide the shameful occurrence from public notice." 58
Even the death of the offended party cannot extinguish the case once it is filed in court. 59 If
the offended party dies immediately after filing the complaint but before the institution of the
criminal action, his death is not a ground to dismiss the case. 60 Clearly, the will and
participation of the offended party is necessary only to determine whether to file the complaint or
not. Thereafter, the will of the State prevails.
Article 344 does not include desistance of the offended party from prosecuting the case as a
ground for extinction of criminal liability whether
total 61 or partial. 62 Hence, only when the desistance is grounded on forgiveness and pardon
and is made before the institution of the criminal action, can it extinguish criminal liability.
Desistance, per se, is not equivalent to pardon.
In the case at bar, the "Affidavit of Desistance" of Juvielyn is not an express pardon of the
accused and the crime committed. Private complainant desisted from prosecuting the case
against the petitioners because she wished "to start life anew and live normally again." She
reiterated this reason on the witness stand. She complained that members of the media were
bothering and harassing her and that she wanted to go back to her normal life. She never
said that she forgave the petitioners. She did not absolve them from their culpability. She did
not give any exculpatory fact that would raise doubts about her rape. She did not say that
she consented to petitioner Alonte's acts. Moreover, the rape case is already in court and it
is no longer her right to decide whether or not the charge should be continued. As we held
in Crespo v. Mogul: 63
xxx xxx xxx

The rule in this jurisdiction is that once a complaint or information is filed in court any
disposition of the case as to its dismissal or conviction or acquittal of the accused rests in
the sound discretion of the court. Although the fiscal retains the direction and control of the
prosecution of criminal cases even while the case is already in court he cannot impose his
opinion on the trial court. The court is the best and sole judge on what to do with the case
before it. The determination of the case is within its exclusive jurisdiction and competence. A
motion to dismiss the case filed by the fiscal should be addressed to the court who has the
option to grant or deny the same. It does not matter if this is done before or after the
arraignment of the accused or that the motion was filed after a reinvestigation or upon
instructions of the Secretary of Justice who reviewed the records of the investigation.
II
The next issue is the validity of the conviction of petitioners. Petitioners contend that they
were convicted without undergoing any trial. Respondent judge insists otherwise. He claims
that petitioners submitted the case on the merits and relied principally on the Affidavit of
Desistance. He recounts the events that took place before the presentation of private
complainant as revealed by the transcripts of November 7, 1997, viz:
Prosecutor Campomanes
Your
Honor,
the
complaining
witness/private
complainant
Juvielyn
Punongbayan is present here in Court, and a while ago, I was given a copy of
her Affidavit of Desistance so I would like to present her in order to attest to
the veracity of her Affidavit of Desistance, your Honor, and for the Court to her
testimony.
Court

We will have a separate trial, this involved a heinous offense and that there is
not even any plea-bargaining in this case.
Prosecutor Campomanes
Yes, your Honor, I understand that.
Court
So you have to mark now your documentary evidence in preparation for trial.
Prosecutor Campomanes
Yes, your Honor.
Court
There are many documentary evidence mentioned by the Supreme Court in its
seven (7) page . . . (may I see the record) seven(7) page resolution, dated
September 2, 1997, and that this case was assigned to this Court as the trial
Judge. This Court has already arraigned the accused and he pleaded not guilty,
and so the next step is pre-trial. The Order of the Supreme Court is to direct
this Court not only to determine the voluntariness but also the validity of the
Affidavit of Desistance mentioned by the Court which was also brought to the
attention of the Supreme Court.
Prosecutor Campomanes
And to the Department of Justice likewise your Honor.
Court
And that's why the Supreme Court instead of resolving it sent the records to
this Court to determine the voluntariness and the validity of the Desistance, but
they must be determined after trial on the merits.
Prosecutor Campomanes
Your Honor please, representing the people. Its events now will prove that
there is no more need for the prosecution to go on trial of this case, considering
that the private complainant herself had already furnished the Department of
Justice a copy of her Affidavit of Desistance.
Court
What does it say there?
Prosecutor Campomanes
That she is no longer interested in further prosecuting this case, and that she is
now desisting in going to full blown trial, and considering your Honor further,
that this is a private offense, then, the Department of Justice feels that it can
not be more popish than the Pope.
Court
That is the stand of the Department of Justice. But the Supreme Court belongs
to a different Department, I am governed by the Supreme Court, because I am
a Judge, I am not from the Department of Justice.
Prosecutor Campomanes
We are all aware your Honor, that we will just be prolonging the agony, in
fairness to everybody, considering that we are representing the people, but we
are not representing only . . . the Department of Justice is not only representing
the complainant in this case but we are also for justice to be rendered to the

respondent as well.
Court
I am rendering fair justice to everyone. That is the sense of this Court. That is
the perception of this Court with respect to the Supreme Court resolution, in
the first place, that Affidavit does not negate the commission of the crime. You
want us to dismiss this case when the Affidavit does not negate the commission
of the crime?
Prosecutor Campomanes
That's why we will be presenting her in Open Court, your Honor.
Court
Just to affirm that?
Prosecutor Campomanes
No to prove . . .
Court
What happened . . . how about the Prosecution Department, they have control
of the prosecution, and the offended party herself, has not negated the
commission of the crime, is there anything there to show that she did not . . .
that the accused . . . did not commit the crime charged?
Prosecutor Campomanes
That's why we will be presenting her in Open Court, whatever is not here will
be clarified.
Court
So, we will go to a trial on the merits you present that affidavit, that's a part of
your evidence.
Prosecutor Campomanes
The people is ready to present that . . . the complaining witness.
Court
We will have a trial on the merits.
Prosecutor Campomanes
Your Honor please, being a woman, I have extensively discussed this matter
with the complaining witness and she intimated to this representation that she
can not bear another day of coming here, with all these people staring at her
with everybody looking at her as if she is something . . . .
Court
On December 13, 1996, petitioner Punongbayan through private counsel, Atty.
Remedios C. Balbin and the Assistant State Prosecutor Guiab, Jr. who is not
here both were relieved and changed with a new lady prosecutor, prayed that
the case be tried by the Regional Trial Court of Manila, they cited the following
grounds: "THE GREAT DANGER TO THE LIVES OF BOTH PRIVATE
COMPLAINANT AND THE IMMEDIATE MEMBERS OF HER FAMILY AND
THEIR WITNESSES AS THEY OPENLY IDENTIFIED THE PRINCIPAL
ACCUSED MAYOR ALONTE WHO IS ACKNOWLEDGED AS A POWERFUL
POLITICAL FIGURE AND ALMOST AN INSTITUTION IN BIAN LAGUNA AND
[THE] GREAT DANGERS TO THE LIVES OF WITNESSES WHO OTHERWISE

WISH TO COME OUT IN THE OPEN AND TESTIFY ON THE MORAL AND
CRIMINAL ACTIVITIES OF BOTH ACCUSED PERPETRATED UPON VERY
YOUNG GIRLS STUDENTS OF BIAN LAGUNA THAT WILL NOT DO SO IN
THE TERMS OF THE ACCUSED MAYOR" that is why it was the prayer of the
offended party and the Supreme Court granted the Motion for Change of
Venue, and we are now on a new venue, where the danger to the lives of the
witness is no longer present, on January 7, 1997, Alonte filed an Opposition
thereto, and on April 23, 1997, the petitioner, the offended party through the
Honorable Secretary of Justice Teofisto Guingona and Chief State Prosecutor
Jovencito Zuno filed a Manifestation and Motion for Resolution of the Petition
For Change of Venue. Attached to the motion of the Honorable Secretary of
Justice Guingona and Chief State Prosecutor Jovencito Zuno were the affidavits
of the petitioner, her lawyer, Atty. Remedios Balbin, Dolores Yambao,
Bienvenido Salandanan and Evelyn Celso with their contention that the
prosecution witnesses and the private counsel of petitioner are exposed to
kidnapping, harassment, grave threats and tempting offers of bribe money, that
was the stand of your department . . . And then later on June 28, 1997 . . . we
have to review this case because this involves public interest . . . on June 23,
1997, Atty. Casano in behalf of the oppositors, two (2) oppositors, filed a motion
to dismiss the petition for change of venue in the Supreme Court on the ground
that it has become moot, he alleges that the petitioner despite the motion to
resume the proceedings in criminal case no. 96-19-B in said motion, the
petitioner informed the Court that she is desisting . . . informed the Supreme
Court that she is desisting from proceeding with the case, it is the same
affidavit she prayed that the trial Court, on her affidavit of desistance . . . Atty.
Casano also submitted to this Court, to the Supreme Court the manifestation of
the petitioner joining the oppositors' prayer to dismiss her petition to a change
of venue, the manifestation was also signed by Atty. Remedios Balbin as private
prosecutor, the Supreme Court required Assistant Chief State Prosecutor
Leonardo Guiab to comment on the motion to dismiss filed by Atty. Casano
which involve the same affidavit that you have just read. On August 22, 1997,
assistant Chief State Prosecutor Guiab filed his comment, he alleged that he is
not aware of the desistance of the petitioner in criminal case no. 96-19-B, and
in said desistance there is two (2) legal effect, [that] the public prosecutor has
the control and direction of the prosecution in criminal action, he prayed for
the denial of the Motion to Dismiss and reiterated his petition for change of
venue, the Supreme Court granted the change of venue and in granting the
change of venue the highest tribunal which we are all subordinates, says: for
the record, in their manifestation and motion for the resolution of petition to a
change of venue the Secretary of Justice and Chief State Prosecutor submitted
various affidavits in support of their allegations that prosecution witnesses and
private legal counsel are exposed to KIDNAPPING, HARASSMENT, GRAVE
THREATS, AND TEMPTING OFFERS OF BRIBE MONEY all intended to extract
an affidavit of desistance from the complainant, this is now the affidavit of
desistance in her affidavit dated December 16, 1996, the petitioner the
offended party, the herein offended party Juvielyn Punongbayan alleged etc . . .
etc . . . in support of her petition and then she alleged that during the last week
of Feb. 1997, she was visited by one Lourdes Salaysay, she stated that Mrs.
Salaysay told her that Mrs. Alonte, wife of Mayor Alonte requested her to settle
Alonte's case, she was informed that Mrs. Alonte was offering P10,000,000.00,
will send her to school and give her house and send her parents abroad, Atty.
Remedios C. Balbin is not here now, I am just quoting the Supreme Court
counsel, private counsel of petitioner also executed an affidavit dated February
1997, quote: the Supreme Court quote to them: to put on record the
attempting, influence, directly, in exchange of valuable consideration, that the

Rape charge against Mayor Bayani Arthur Alone, she alleged that in two (2)
occasions Atty. Romero conveyed to me the message of Mayor Alonte, namely:
to drop the rape case against him and that he would give a consideration of
P10,000,000.00 to be apportioned as follows: P5,000.00, for the private
complainant, your client and the prosecutor P3,000,000.00 for me, as private
prosecutor, that is what Atty. Balbin said, P4,000,000.00 for her, the mediator,
so there seems to be a liberal flow of blood money, that is why the Supreme
Court ordered the Court to determine the validity, and there is another, dated
March 19, 1997. I have to remind everybody about what happened, this thing
did not come from me, I am not fabricating anything this comes from the
highest tribunal jurat, to whom I am responsible another affidavit of Atty.
Balbin, she narrated the continuing attempts to bribe her and threatened her,
so there were continuing events, they alleged, the People's Bureau, Office of
the Mayor of Quezon City, extensively discuss the squatting case with against
his client, that after a brief exchange on the status of the case, they confided to
me his real purpose, that it started of by saying he was the legal counsel of the
gambling lords of Malabon for which he get a monthly retainer of P15,000.00
exclusive of transportation expenses, but he also stated that he knows all the
network of the gambling lord throughout the country, which is quite strong and
unified, that I then ask him "what do you mean?" "Is Alonte into gambling too,
that he is part of the network you speak of?", that Atty. Daga did not reply, but
instead said, they are prepared to double the offer made to by Atty. Romero
which was published in the newspaper at P10,000,000.00, so, its double,
double your money, so its P20,000,000.00, that I told him, its Atty. Balbin, that
all the money in the world, all the money in the world will not make me change
my position against my client executing a desistance and that Alonte's
voluntary surrender plea of guilty to rape, conviction, and the imposition of the
corresponding penalty will satisfy the ends of justice, but I told him, that my
client's case is not isolated, there being five (5) other miners similarly place
and Alonte's will be stopped from doing more harm that Atty. Daga, then told
me in Filipino if you do not accede to a desistance, then they will be force to
but because he did not [complete] the sentence I asked him directly, what do
you mean, what do you intend to do, and he replied, go on with the case, [buy]
the judge, [buy] the judge, that I am believing, and I reacted saying, but they
have already done so, Judge Francisco Binan, Judge Francisco Binan suddenly
change his attitude towards the prosecution, perhaps you are referring to the
next judge when the petition for change of venue is finally granted that Atty.
Daga did not reply, and he reiterated that his principal referring to them again
as gambling lords, wanted desistance, after which he excused himself and left,
that I execute this affidavit, as Atty. Balbin attests to the truth of the incident
with Atty. Dionisio Daga which occurred in the afternoon of March 6, 1997 at
my office, stating . . . (JUDGE READING THE RECORDS OF THE CASE)
Court
Then, the Supreme Court said, these affidavits, the one attached gave specific
names, dates and methods . . . a coercion of corruption, the prosecution of
Criminal Case No. 96-19-B (JUDGE CONTINUED READING THE RECORDS OF
THE CASE) that is desisting for pursuing her complaint for Rape petitioner a
minor, they have . . . illicit, influence and due pressure to prevent . . . Criminal
Case No. 96-19-B to any of its Branch, just to call the Criminal Case No. 96-19B shall be raffled, shall result the petitioner's motion, to resume proceedings
filed in Branch 26 in the RTC of Laguna, to determine the voluntariness and
validity of the petitioner's desistance in the light of the position of the public
prosecutor, Assistant Chief Prosecutor Leonardo Guiab . . . I don't know what
will be the outcome . . . you may contend that because of that affidavit of the

desistance there is reasonable doubt . . .


etc . . . but still, that will be placing the cart before the horse . . . you have to go
a regular trial on the merits . . . because this is a heinous offense which
cannot . . . and during the pre-trial cannot be subject to a plea-bargaining, and
with respect to its new law which took effect in 1993, that is a new one, it was
placed to the category of a heinous offense . . .
Prosecutor Campomanes
So we go on trial your Honor, and we will present the complaining witness, and
let the Court decide on the basis of the complainants testimony . . . private
complainant's testimony, before this Honorable Court . . .
xxx xxx xxx
Prosecutor Campomanes
That's why we are presenting the private complainant, the principal witness,
the mother who is also a signatory to this affidavit of desistance, everybody
who have been a part and participant in the making and preparation of this
affidavit of desistance, they have already signed these affidavit of desistance.
Court
And we also have the affidavits mentioned by the Supreme Court, because I
was . . . all of those documents in the determination of whether that affidavit is
valid.
Prosecutor Campomanes
Yes, your Honor.
Court
We . . . the Court cannot close his eyes to the other affidavits . . . because . . .
that's why precisely the Supreme Court ordered me to hear this case.
Prosecutor Campomanes
We understand that your Honor.
Court
There are may conflicting matters to be solve . . . conflicting matters to be
tackled in this case.
Prosecutor Campomanes
May we present the private complainant, your Honor . . . . 64
The records show that the hearing of November 7, 1997 was set for arraignment of the
petitioners. 65 After the counsels made their respective appearances, Prosecutor Campomanes
presented her authority to appear as prosecutor in lieu of Asst. Chief State Prosecutor Guiyab, Jr.
Both petitioners pleaded not guilty to the charge. Respondent judge then set the case for pretrial
which the parties, however, waived. The proceedings continued and Prosecutor Campomanes
manifested there was no need for the prosecution to go to trial in view of the Affidavit of
Desistance of the private complainant. Respondent judge, however, observed that private
complainant did not negate the commission of the crime in her Affidavit of Desistance.
Respondent judge expressed his misgivings on the validity of the Affidavit of Desistance because
of the September 2, 1997 Resolution of this Court citing affidavits where allegations of bribery
were made to extract said affidavit from complainant. Prosecutor Campomanes then offered to
present the private complainant to attest to the voluntariness and veracity of her Affidavit of
Desistance. Respondent judge averred whether the court should proceed to a trial on the merits.
Prosecutor Campomanes declared that they could go on trial and let the court decide the merits
of the case on the basis of the testimony of private complainant and the other witnesses. It was

then that private complainant was presented as a witness.

From the garbled transcripts of the hearing on November 7, 1997, it is not clear what both
respondent judge and the public prosecutor intended the proceedings to be. Respondent
judge repeatedly declared that the proceedings before him was to be a trial on the merits.
The public prosecutor agreed to go to trial, but at the same time moved to present private
complainant and her witnesses to testify on the voluntariness of her Affidavit of Desistance.
Respondent judge and the public prosecutor were, obviously, not tuned in to each other.
I agree with the majority that the November 7, 1997 proceedings could not have been a trial
on the merits. First of all, the proceedings did not conform with the procedure for trial as
provided in the 1985 Rules on Criminal Procedure. Section 3 of Rule 119 provides:
Sec. 3. Order of Trial. The trial shall proceed in the following order:
(a) The prosecution shall present evidence to prove the charge and, in the proper case, the
civil liability.
(b) The accused may present evidence to prove his defense, and damages, if any, arising
from the issuance of any provisional remedy in the case.
(c) The parties may then respectively present rebutting evidence only, unless the court, in
furtherance of justice, permits them present additional evidence bearing upon the main
issue.
(d) Upon admission of the evidence, the case shall be deemed submitted for decision unless
the court directs the parties to argue orally or to submit memoranda.
(e) However, when the accused admits the act charged or omission charged in the complaint
or information but interposes lawful defense, the order of trial may be modified accordingly.
In the case at bar, petitioners were never instructed to present evidence to prove their
defenses. The parties were never given the opportunity to present their respective evidence
rebutting the testimony of private complainant. There was no admission by petitioners of the
charge in the information as to justify a change in the order of trial. 66
Our criminal rules of procedure strictly provide the step by step procedure to be followed by
courts in cases punishable by death. 67 This rule also applies to all other criminal cases,
particularly where the imposable penalty is reclusion perpetua. The reason for this is to assure
that the State makes no mistake in taking life and liberty except that of the guilty. 68 Thus:
Judges should be reminded that each step in the trial process serves a specific purpose. In
the trial of criminal cases, the constitutional presumption of innocence in favor of the
accused requires that an accused be given sufficient opportunity to present his defense. So
with the prosecution as to its evidence.
Hence, any deviation from the regular course of trial should always take into consideration
the rights of all the parties to the case, whether the prosecution or defense. 69
Second, the admission of private complainant's affidavit of October 21, 1996 was made
solely in response to respondent judge's own questioning. 70 It was this affidavit which
respondent judge used to convict the petitioners. This affidavit, however, was not marked nor was
it formally offered before the court. The Revised rules on Evidence clearly and expressly provide
that "[t]he court shall consider no evidence which has not been formally offered." 71 Evidence
not formally offered in court will not be taken into consideration by the court in disposing of the
issues of the case. Any evidence which a party desires to submit for the consideration of the court
must formally be offered by him, 72 otherwise it is excluded and rejected. 73
Third, where there is a doubt as to the nature of the criminal proceedings before the court,
this doubt must be resolved in favor of the accused who must be given the widest latitude of
action to prove his innocence. 74 It is in petitioners' favor that the proceedings of November 7,
1997 be treated as a hearing on the motion to dismiss, not a trial on the merits. To rule otherwise
will effectively deny petitioners due process and all the other rights of an accused under the Bill

of Rights and our Rules in Criminal Procedure.

Indeed, following respondent judge's finding and assuming that the November 7, 1997
hearing was already a trial on the merits, petitioners were never afforded their right to
confront and cross-examine the witness. The court did not, at the very least, inquire as to
whether the petitioners wanted to cross-examine private complainant with respect to her
affidavit of October 21, 1996. No opportunity to cross-examine was afforded petitioners and
their counsels such that they cannot be deemed to have waived said right by inaction. 75
Regalado, Davide, Jr., Romero, Bellosillo, Mendoza and Panganiban, JJ., concur.

[G.R. No. 133289. December 23, 1999]


LICERIO A. ANTIPORDA, JR., ELITERIO RUBIACO, VICTOR GASCON and
CAESAR TALIA petitioners, vs. HON. FRANCIS E. GARCHITORENA,
HON. EDILBERTO G. SANDOVAL, HON. CATALINO CASTAEDA, JR.
in their capacity as Presiding Justice and Associate Justices of the
Sandiganbayan respondents.
DECISION
BUENA, J.:

This is a Petition for Certiorari and Prohibition with Preliminary Injunction and/or
Temporary Restraining Order to restrain the respondent Justices of the First Division of
the Sandiganbayan from further proceeding with Crim. Case No. 24339 and from
enforcing the warrants for the arrest of the accused named therein (herein petitioners) or
to maintain the status quo until further orders from this Court.
The antecedent facts of the case are as follows:
Accused Licerio A. Antiporda, Jr., Eliterio Rubiaco, Victor Gascon, and Caesar Talla
were charged with the crime of kidnapping one Elmer Ramos in an Information dated
September 18, 1997. It was filed with the First Division of the Sandiganbayan
comprised of the Honorable Francis E. Garchitorena, Edilberto E. Sandoval, and
Catalino Castaeda, Jr. The Information reads as follows:
That on or about September 1, 1995, in the Municipality of Sanchez Mira, Province of

Cagayan and within the jurisdiction of this Honorable Court, the said accused Eliterio
Rubiaco, Caesar Talla, Vicente Gascon and Licerio Antiporda, Jr., armed with guns,
conspiring together and helping one another, by means of force, violence and
intimidation and without legal grounds or any authority of law, did then and there
willfully, unlawfully and feloniously kidnap and carry away one Elmer Ramos from his
residence in Marzan, Sanchez Mira, Cagayan against his will with the use of a Maroon
Tamaraw FX motor vehicle.

CONTRARY TO LAW[1]
On November 10, 1997, the Court issued an order giving the prosecution represented
by Prosecutor Evelyn T. Lucero Agcaoili thirty (30) days within which to submit the
amendment to the Information. The said order is quoted in full as follows:
O R D E R
This morning, the prosecution represented by Prosecutor Evelyn T. Lucero Agcaoili

appeared in response to this Courts Order of clarification on the propriety of proceeding


with the Information as it stands.
On her own, Prosecutor Agcaoili informed the Court that there were inadequacies in the

allegations in the Information for which reason she would beg leave to amend the
same. The Court for its part expressed anxiety as to the Courts jurisdiction over the
case considering that it was not clear whether or not the subject matter of the accusation
was office related.
For this purpose, Prosecutor Agcaoili is given thirty (30) days within which to submit

the amendment embodying whatever changes she believes are appropriate or necessary
in order for the Information to effectively describe the offense herein charged. Within
the same period, Prosecutor Agcaoili shall submit an expansion of the recommendation
to file the instant Information against the accused before this Court indicating thereon
the office related character of the accusation herein so that the Court might effectively
exercise its jurisdiction over the same.
SO ORDERED.[2]

The prosecution on even date complied with the said order and filed an Amended
Information, which was admitted by the Sandiganbayan in a resolution dated November
24, 1997.[3] The Amended Information thus reads:
That on or about September 10, 1997, at Sanchez Mira, Cagayan and within the

jurisdiction of this Honorable Court, the accused Licerio Antiporda, Jr., being the
Municipal Mayor of Buguey, Cagayan in the exercise of his official duties as such and
taking advantage of his position, ordered, confederated and conspired with Juan
Gallardo, Barangay Captain of San Lorenzo, Buguey, Cagayan (now deceased) and
accused Eliterio Rubiaco, barangay councilman of San Lorenzo, Buguey, Cagayan,
Vicente Gascon and Caesar Talla with the use of firearms, force, violence and
intimidation, did then and there willfully, unlawfully and feloniously kidnap and abduct
the victim Elmer Ramos without any authority of law from his residence at Marzan,
Sanchez Mira, Cagayan against his will, with the use of a Maroon Tamaraw FX motor
vehicle and subsequently bring and detain him illegally at the residence of accused
Mayor Licerio Antiporda, Jr. for more than five (5) days.
CONTRARY TO LAW.[4]

Accused then filed an Urgent Omnibus Motion dated November 16, 1997 praying
that a reinvestigation of the case be conducted and the issuance of warrants of arrest be
deferred.[5]
An order dated November 26, 1997 was penned by Prosecutor Evelyn T. LuceroAgcaoili recommending the denial of the accuseds Urgent Omnibus Motion [6] was
approved by Ombudsman Aniano A. Desierto on January 9, 1998.[7]
The accused thereafter filed on March 5, 1998 a Motion for New Preliminary
Investigation and to Hold in Abeyance and/or Recall Warrant of Arrest Issued. [8] The
same was denied in an order given in open court dated March 12, 1998 "on the ground
that there was nothing in the Amended Information that was added to the original
Information so that the accused could not claim a right to be heard separately in an
investigation in the Amended Information. Additionally, the Court ruled that 'since none
of the accused have submitted themselves to the jurisdiction of the Court, the accused
are not in a position to be heard on this matter at this time' (p. 245, Record)."[9]
Subsequently, the accused filed on March 24, 1998 a Motion to Quash the Amended
Information for lack of jurisdiction over the offense charged.[10]
On March 27, 1998, the Sandiganbayan issued an Order, to wit:
"The Motion to Quash filed in behalf of the accused by Atty. Orlando B. Consigna is
ignored, it appearing that the accused have continually refused or otherwise failed to
submit themselves to the jurisdiction of this Court. At all events there is an Amended
Information here which makes an adequate description of the position of the accused
thus vesting this Court with the office related character of the offense of the accused.
"SO ORDERED."[11]
A motion for reconsideration was filed on April 3, 1998 by the accused wherein it
was alleged that the filing of the Motion to Quash and the appearance of their counsel
during the scheduled hearing thereof amounted to their voluntary appearance and
invested the court with jurisdiction over their persons.[12]
The Sandiganbayan denied the motion for reconsideration filed by the accused in its
resolution dated April 24, 1998.[13]
Hence, this petition filed by Licerio A. Antiporda, Jr., Eliterio Rubiaco, Victor
Gascon, and Caesar Talla.
The petitioners pose the following questions for the resolution of this Court.
a) CAN THE SANDIGANBAYAN, WHICH HAS NO JURISDICTION OVER THE OFFENSE

CHARGED IN THE ORIGINAL INFORMATION, SUBSEQUENTLY ACQUIRE SUCH


JURISDICTION BY THE SIMPLE EXPEDIENT OF AMENDING THE INFORMATION TO
SUPPLY, FOR THE FIRST TIME, JURISDICTIONAL FACTS NOT PREVIOUSLY AVERRED
IN THE ORIGINAL INFORMATION? and
b) COROLLARILY, CAN THE AMENDED INFORMATION BE ALLOWED WITHOUT
CONDUCTING ANEW A PRELIMINARY INVESTIGATION FOR THE GRAVER OFFENSE
CHARGED THEREIN?

The petition is devoid of merit.


Jurisdiction is the power with which courts are invested for administering justice,
that is, for hearing and deciding cases. In order for the court to have authority to dispose
of the case on the merits, it must acquire jurisdiction over the subject matter and the
parties.[14]
Section 4, paragraph (a) of P.D. No. 1606, as amended by P.D. No. 1861 provides for
the jurisdiction of the Sandiganbayan:
Sec. 4. Jurisdiction. -- The Sandiganbayan shall exercise:
(a)

Exclusive original jurisdiction in all cases involving:


xxx

(2) Other offenses or felonies committed by public officers and employees in relation

to their office, including those employed in government-owned or controlled


corporations, whether simple or complexed with other crimes, where the penalty
prescribed by law is higher than prision correccional or imprisonment for six (6) years,
or a fine of P6,000.00. Provided, however, That offenses or felonies mentioned in this
paragraph where the penalty prescribed by law does not exceed prision correccional or
imprisonment for six (6) years or a fine of P6,000.00 shall be tried by the proper
Regional Trial Court, Metropolitan Trial Court, Municipal Trial Court and Municipal
Circuit Trial Court.
The Sandiganbayan exercises not only civil but also criminal jurisdiction. Criminal
jurisdiction, as defined in the case of People vs. Mariano[15], is necessarily the authority
to hear and try a particular offense and impose the punishment for it.
The case of Arula vs. Espino[16]enumerates the requirements wherein a court
acquires jurisdiction to try a criminal case, to wit:
To paraphrase: beyond the pale of disagreement is the legal tenet that a court acquires

jurisdiction to try a criminal case only when the following requisites concur: (1) the
offense is one which the court is by law authorized to take cognizance of, (2) the offense
must have been committed within its territorial jurisdiction, and (3) the person charged

with the offense must have been brought in to its forum for trial, forcibly by warrant of
arrest or upon his voluntary submission to the court.
The petitioners argue that the Sandiganbayan had no jurisdiction to take cognizance
of the case because the original information did not allege that one of the petitioners,
Licerio A. Antiporda, Jr., took advantage of his position as mayor of Buguey, Cagayan to
order the kidnapping of Elmer Ramos. They likewise assert that lacking jurisdiction a
court can not order the amendment of the information. In the same breath, they contend
however that the Sandiganbayan had jurisdiction over the persons of the accused.
They question the assumption of jurisdiction by the Sandiganbayan over their case
yet they insist that said court acquired jurisdiction over their motion to quash. The
petitioner can not have their cake and eat it too.
In the aforementioned case of Arula vs. Espino[17]it was quite clear that all three
requisites, i.e., jurisdiction over the offense, territory and person, must concur before a
court can acquire jurisdiction to try a case.
It is undisputed that the Sandiganbayan had territorial jurisdiction over the case.
And we are in accord with the petitioners when they contended that when they filed
a motion to quash it was tantamount to a voluntary submission to the Courts
authority. They cite the case of Layosa vs. Rodriguez[18] in support of their
contention. For therein, it was ruled that the voluntary appearance of the accused at the
pre-suspension hearing amounted to his submission to the courts jurisdiction even if no
warrant of arrest has yet been issued.
To counter this contention of the petitioners the prosecution adverted to case of de
los Santos-Reyes vs. Montesa, Jr.[19] which was decided some 28 years after the
Layosa case. In this more recent case, it was held that:
xxx the accused xxx have no right to invoke the processes of the court since they have

not been placed in the custody of the law or otherwise deprived of their liberty by reason
or as a consequence of the filling of the information. For the same reason, the court had
no authority to act on the petition.
We find that the case of Layosa and de los Santos-Reyes are not inconsistent with
each other since both these cases discussed the rules on when a court acquires
jurisdiction over the persons of the accused,i.e., either through the enforcement of
warrants of arrest or their voluntary submission to the court.
The only difference, we find, is that the de los Santos-Reyes case harped mainly on
the warrant of arrest angle while the Layosa case dealt more on the issue of voluntary

submission ruling, that the appearance at the hearing through a lawyer was a submission
to the courts jurisdiction.
Having discussed the third requirement we now come to the question of whether or
not the Sandiganbayan had jurisdiction over the offense charged.
We answer in the negative. The original Information filed with the Sandiganbayan
did not mention that the offense committed by the accused is office-related. It was only
after the same was filed that the prosecution belatedly remembered that a jurisdictional
fact was omitted therein.
However, we hold that the petitioners are estopped from assailing the jurisdiction of
the Sandiganbayan for in the supplemental arguments to motion for reconsideration
and/or reinvestigation dated June 10, 1997[20] filed with the same court, it was they who
challenged the jurisdiction of the Regional Trial Court over the case and clearly stated
in their Motion for Reconsideration that the said crime is work connected, which is
hereunder quoted, as follows:
Respondents (petitioners herein) have thoroughly scanned the entire records of the

instant case and no where is there any evidence to show that the Honorable Prosecution
Office of the Province of Cagayan have been authorized by the Office of the Honorable
Ombudsman to conduct the Preliminary Investigation much less had the former office
been authorized to file the corresponding Information as the said case, if evidence
warrants, fall exclusively with the jurisdiction of the Honorable Sandiganbayan
notwithstanding the presence of other public officers whose salary range is below 27 and
notwithstanding the presence of persons who are not public officers.
It is a well-settled rule that a party cannot invoke the jurisdiction of a court to secure
affirmative relief against his opponent, and after obtaining or failing to obtain such
relief, repudiate or question that same jurisdiction.[21]
We therefore hold that the Sandiganbayan has jurisdiction over the case because of
estoppel and it was thus vested with the authority to order the amendment of the
Information.
Rule 110, Section 14 of the Rules of Court provides thus:
Section 14. Amendment. The information or complaint may be amended, in

substance or form, without leave of court, at any time before the accused pleads; and
thereafter and during the trial as to all matters of form, by leave and at the discretion of
the court, when the same can be done without prejudice to the rights of the accused.
xxx

xxx

xxx

Petitioner prayed that a reinvestigation be made in view of the Amended


Information.
We hold that the reinvestigation is not necessary anymore. A reinvestigation is
proper only if the accuseds substantial rights would be impaired. In the case at bar, we
do not find that their rights would be unduly prejudiced if the Amended Information is
filed without a reinvestigation taking place. The amendments made to the Information
merely describe the public positions held by the accused/petitioners and stated where the
victim was brought when he was kidnapped.
It must here be stressed that a preliminary investigation is essentially inquisitorial,
and it is often the only means of discovering the persons who may be reasonably
charged with a crime, to enable the prosecutor to prepare his complaint or
information. It is not a trial of the case on the merits and has no purpose except that of
determining whether a crime has been committed and whether there is probable cause to
believe that the accused is guilty thereof, and it does not place the persons accused in
jeopardy. It is not the occasion for the full and exhaustive display of the parties
evidence; it is for the presentation of such evidence only as may engender a wellgrounded belief that an offense has been committed and that the accused is probably
guilty thereof.[22]
The purpose of a preliminary investigation has been achieved already and we see no
cogent nor compelling reason why a reinvestigation should still be conducted.
As an aside, an offense is considered committed in relation to office when it is
intimately connected with their respective offices and was perpetrated while they were
in the performance, though improper or irregular, of their official functions.[23]
In the case of Cunanan vs. Arceo, it was held that:
... the absence in the information filed on 5 April 1991 before Branch 46 of the RTC of

San Fernando, Pampanga, of an allegation that petitioner had committed the offense
charged in relation to his office is immaterial and easily remedied. Respondent RTC
judges had forwarded petitioners case to the Sandiganbayan, and the complete records
transmitted thereto in accordance with the directions of this Court set out in
the Asuncion case: x x x As if it was originally filed with [the Sandiganbayan]. That
Information may be amended at any time before arraignment before the Sandiganbayan,
and indeed, by leave of court at any time before judgment is rendered by
the Sandiganbayan, considering that such an amendment would not affect the juridical
nature of the offense charged (i.e., murder), the qualifying circumstances alleged in the
information, or the defenses that petitioner may assert before the Sandiganbayan. In
other words, the amendment may be made before the Sandiganbayan without surprising
the petitioner or prejudicing his substantive rights.[24] (Underscoring Supplied)

WHEREFORE, IN VIEW OF THE FOREGOING, the petition is hereby


DISMISSED.
SO ORDERED.
[G.R. No. 96428. September 2, 1999]
WILMA T. BARRAMEDA, petitioner, vs. THE COURT OF APPEALS and
LOLITA WATANABE, respondents.
DECISION
GONZAGA-REYES, J.:

This is a petition for review on certiorari of the decision rendered by the Court of Appeals[1] in
CA-G.R. No. 07512 affirming the decision of Branch 111of the Regional Trial Court[2] of Pasay City
in Criminal Case No. 85-8694-P convicting Wilma Barrameda of the crime of estafa under article 315,
par. 1(B) of the Revised Penal Code.
The information[3], filed on September 5, 1985, reads as follows:
That on or about the 27th day of November 1984 in Pasay City, Metro Manila,

Philippines, and within the jurisdiction of this Honorable Court, the above-named
accused Wilma Barrameda, having received in trust from Lolita Paguinto Watanabe the
amount of US$1,400.00 and 400,000.00 yen, equivalent to P50,000.00 Philippine
currency, more or less, with the express obligation on her part to deliver the same to
Papiniana Paguinto at the Manila International Airport, did then and there willfully,
unlawfully and feloniously with abuse of confidence reposed upon her, fail to deliver the
money to Papiniana Paguinto and when demands were made upon her to account for the
amount, said accused deny (sic) ever having received the same, to the damage and
prejudice of Lolita Paguinto in the amount of P50,000.00 more or less.
Accused-appellant, duly assisted by counsel, pleaded not guilty to the charge on April 21,
1986[4] and thereafter trial on the merits ensued.
The facts of the case as set out in the Peoples Brief and quoted in toto by the Court of appeals are
as follows:
Lolita Watanabe first set foot in Japan as a cultural dancer, but landed later as a

caretaker of a Japanese company (TSN, September 8, 1986, p. 35). At around 6:00 p.m.
of November 26, 1984, she, together with her brother and some Japanese friends, visited
her aunt (being the wife of her mothers brother), appellant herein, at the residence of
Mr. And Mrs. Edmund Guiking at Atsuigi Base. As appellant was leaving for the
Philippines the following day, Lolita Watanabe decided to send money to her mother in
the Philippines through appellant, consisting of $1,400.00 and 400,000.00 yen which, if

converted to Philippine money would amount to more or less P50,000.00. Watanabe


counted the money in appellants presence, placed it inside an envelope and handed it to
appellant. The latter likewise counted the money before putting it inside her bag (TSN,
ibid, pp. 21-22). Watanabe then bid appellant goodbye and wished her a happy trip.
When she received a long distance call that day (November 26) from her mother, Lolita
Watanabe informed the latter that she was sending money through appellant (TSN, ibid,
p. 48). The call is evidenced by a receipt dated November 26, 1984 (Exhibit B-1).
On November 27, 1984, Lolita Watanabes mother, Papiniana Barrameda Paguinto, went
to the Manila International Airport to fetch appellant (her sister-in-law). They embraced
upon seeing each other. Then appellant said Ate, it is unfortunate. There is money sent
to you by your daughter from Japan but unfortunately I misplaced it. It could have been
in the baggages (TSN, June 25, 1986, p. 9). Appellant was trembling and feeling cold
when she told her sister-in-law (Papiniana Paguinto) Ate, let us look for it in the
baggage (TSN, ibid, p. 10). Per appellants suggestion, they proceeded to the house of
Papiniana Paguintos brother at Cabrera, Pasay City (ibid, p. 10) where they would open
the baggage and look for the money. But since there were many people there, it being a
beer-house, appellant suggested that her baggage be opened at her own home in Pacita
Complex, San Pedro, Laguna. Papiniana Paguinto placed a long distance call to Japan
to inform her daughter that she had not yet received the money from appellant because
the same cannot be found. Lolita Watanabe also talked with appellant and she was
informed by the latter that she (appellant) was still looking for the money among her
baggage (TSN, September 8, 1986, pp. 32-24).
Appellant proceeded to her house at Pacita Complex, San Pedro, Laguna. But Papiniana
Paguinto did not go anymore with appellant since the latter assured her that she would
deliver the money the following morning (Ibid, p. 13). Besides, San Pedro is quite far
and she was afraid that on her way home, something might happen, considering that she
would then be carrying a substantial sum of money.
When appellant failed to deliver the money the following day, Papiniana Paguinto,
together with her husband, went to appellants home at Pacita Complex. There she was
informed by appellant that the money has not yet been found. Appellant assured
Paguinto that she would continue looking for it. However, despite repeated demands,
appellant never gave the money to Papiniana Paguinto (Ibid, p. 15).
For her part, accused-petitioner denied ever having received the amount of US$1,400.00 and
400,000.00 yen from private complainant Lolita Watanabe intended for her mother. Instead, she
alleged in substance that before she left for Japan for the Philippines on November 27, 1984, private
complainant visited her and requested her to bring two boxes of assorted goods for her
parents. Accused-petitioner brought the two boxes to the airport but she was not able to bring them to
the Philippines as these were excess baggage and private complainant did not give her money for their
freight charges. Instead, she called the Guiking couple, where private complainant was staying, and
requested them to inform the latter that the two boxes were left at the airport. As to the motive behind
the filing of the case against her, accused-petitioner opined that her husband, from whom she has

separated, must have connived with his sister Papiniana Paguinto and Lolita Watanabe in filing the case
against her to prevent her from leaving the Philippines for Japan.
On 25 May 1989, the trial court rendered the questioned decision, the dispositive portion of which
states as follows:
WHEREFORE, the court finds the accused WILMA BARRAMEDA, guilty beyond

reasonable doubt, as principal, of the crime of estafa as charged in the


information. Extending in her favor the benefits of the Indeterminate Sentence Law, the
court hereby sentences the accused to imprisonment for an indeterminate period ranging
from TWO (2) YEARS, FOUR (4) MONTHS and ONE (1) DAY of prision
correccional, as minimum, to TEN (10) YEARS of prision mayor, as maximum, to
indemnify the offended party LOLITA PAGUINTO WATANABE, in the sum of
P50,000.00 representing the amount embezzled, and to pay the costs.
SO ORDERED.
This decision was appealed to the Court of Appeals on July 13, 1989 wherein accused-appellant
raised the following assignment of errors:
I.

THE LOWER COURT ERRED IN TAKING COGNIZANCE OF THE CASE FOR


LACK OF JURISDICTION.
II.

THE LOWER COURT ERRED IN GIVING CREDENCE TO THE


UNCORROBORATED TESTIMONY OF PRIVATE COMPLAINAT-LOLITA
PAGUINTO WATANABE REGARDING THE ALLEGED ACTUAL TURN-OVER OF
FOURTEEN (14) PIECES OF ONE HUNDRED US DOLLARS (US$ 1,400.00) AND
FORTY (40) PIECES OF JAPANESE YEN AT TEN THOUSAND DENOMINATION
EACH FOR A TOTAL OF FIFTY THOUSAND PESOS (P50,000.00) PHILIPPINE
CURRENCY BY THE FORMER TO THE ACCUSED-APPELLANT TO BE GIVEN
TO PAPINIANA PAGUINTO.
III.

THE LOWER COURT ERRED IN APPRECIATING THE CONTENTS AND


VERACITY OF THE LETTER DATED NOVEMBER 15, 1984 ALLEGEDLY SENT
BY PRIVATE COMPLAINANT LOLITA PAGUINTO WATANABE (EXH. A) BASED
ON THE BIASED TESTIMONIES OF: (1) COMPLAINANT LOLITA PAGUINTO
WATANABE; AND (2) HER MOTHER PAPINIANA PAGUINTO.
IV.

THE LOWER COURT GRAVELY ABUSED ITS DISCRETION IN ADMITTING THE


TELEPHONE RECEIPTS (EXHS. B, B-1, B-2); AND FURTHER ABUSED ITS

DISCRETION IN GIVING WEIGHT TO THE SAID EXHIBITS.


V.

THE LOWER COURT ERRED IN GIVING CREDENCE TO THE BIASED AND


UNCORROBORATED TESTIMONIES OF THE FOLLOWING PROSECTION
WITNESSES, NAMELY:
(1) PAPINIANA PAGUINTO, THE MOTHER OF COMPLAINANT LOLITA PAGUINTO
WATANABE; and
(2) RUBEN BARRAMEDA, THE UNCLE OF PRIVATE COMPLAINANT LOLITA PAGUINTO
WATANABE.
VI.

THE LOWER COURT ERRED IN CONVICTING THE ACCUSED-APPELLANT ON


THE GROUND THAT THE PROSECUTION HAS NOT PROVED HER GUILT
BEYOND REASONABLE DOUBT.
On 15 August 1990, the Court of Appeals promulgated its decision affirming in toto the decision
rendered by the Regional Trial Court.[5] On 6 September 1990, accused-appellant, through counsel,
filed a Motion for Reconsideration of the Court of Appeals decision which was however denied in a
Resolution dated November 28, 1990.[6]
Hence, the present petition for review on certiorari wherein accused-appellant claims that the
Court of Appeals gravely abused its discretion when it affirmed in toto the decision of the regional trial
court knowing fully well that the said decision is contrary to law and jurisprudence[7]. In support,
accused-petitioner reiterates the assignment of errors she raised during the proceedings in the appellate
court.
We find for the respondents.
In her petition, accused-petitioner first questions the jurisdiction of the Regional Trial Court of
Pasay City in taking cognizance of the case. Accused-petitioner alleges that not a single element of the
crime occurred within the territorial jurisdiction of the Regional Trial Court of Pasay City. As such, the
complaint should have been filed in Japan, where the money was allegedly turned-over to accusedpetitioner, or in San Pedro, Laguna, where Papiniana Paguinto allegedly demanded the delivery of the
money. Accused-appellant argues further that the crime of estafa did not even reach its incipient stage
because no demand was ever made by the offended party.
The contentions of accused-petitioner are misplaced.
Accused-petitioner was charged with the crime of estafa through misappropriation or conversion as
defined in and penalized under paragraph 1(b) of the Revised Penal Code[8]. The elements of the said
crime are: (1) that money, goods or other personal property is received by the offender in trust, or on
commission of for administration, or under any other obligation involving the duty to make delivery of,
or to return, the same; (2) that there be misappropriation or conversion of such money or property by
the offender or denial on his part of such receipt; (3) that such misappropriation or conversion or denial

is to the prejudice of another; and (4) that there is a demand made by the offended party on the
offender[9]
In all criminal prosecutions, the action shall be instituted and tried in the court of the municipality
or territory wherein the offense was committed or where any one of the essential ingredients thereof
took place[10]. In the case at bench, if one of these elements is proven to have occurred within the
territorial jurisdiction of the Regional Trial Court of Pasay, then the said court made a valid exercise of
its jurisdiction.
On this point, respondent Court of Appeals correctly ruled that a demand was made by the mother
of the private complainant at the Ninoy Aquino International Airport (NAIA), which is within the
territorial jurisdiction of the Regional Trial Court of Pasay City. Thus:
the records show that Papiniana Paguinto was at the Manila International Airport at

the date and time when appellant arrived from Japan upon being informed by the arrival
of the latter by Mrs. Watanabe by overseas call with the purpose of collecting from the
appellant the money sent by Mrs. Watanabe, her daughter. The appellant, however,
immediately informed Mrs. Paguinto that the money was allegedly misplaced and that
she will look for it among her baggage at Cabrera, Pasay City.
We believe that the presence of Mrs. Paguinto at the airport was for no other purpose but
to demand the money which was entrusted to her by Mrs. Watanabe. Logically, it
follows that since the international airport is within the territorial jurisdiction of the trial
court, then jurisdiction over the case vests in the trial court.[11]
It must be noted that the specific word demand need not be used to show that demand had
indeed been made upon the person charged of the offense. A query as to the whereabouts of the money,
such as the one proven in the case at bench, is tantamount to a demand[12]
Thus, the trial court validly exercised its jurisdiction over the crime charged against accusedpetitioner inasmuch as one of the elements of estafa, that of demand, occurred within its territorial
jurisdiction.
Accused-petitioner next alleges that the Court of Appeals and the trial court erred in convicting
accused-appellant on the ground that the prosecution was not able to prove her guilt beyond reasonable
doubt[13]. In support, accused-petitioner faults the trial court in appreciating and giving credence to
the evidence, both oral and documentary, presented by the prosecution.
On the issue of credibility of witnesses, it is axiomatic that appellate courts will usually not disturb
the findings of the trial court, the latter being in a better position to decide the question, having heard
the witnesses and observed their deportment and manner of testifying during the trial, unless certain
facts of substance and value had been overlooked which, if considered, might affect the result of the
case[14]
On this point, we find no error in the conclusion of the trial court that accused-petitioner indeed
received the amount of US$1,400.00 and 400,000 yen from the private complainant for delivery to the
latters mother, Papiniana Paguinto. In arriving at this conclusion, the trial court took into account the
testimony of private complainant herself who positively declared that the amount was actually given to

and received by accused-petitioner. Thus:


Q:

And were you able to send money thru Wilma Barrameda, Madam Witness?

A:

Yes, sir.

Q:

And to whom were you sending this money when you sent some money thru Wilma Barrameda?

A:

To my mother, sir.

Q:

Would you kindly tell the Honorable Court how much money did you give to Wilma Barrameda to be
given to your mother in the Philippines, Madam Witness?

A:

One thousand four hundred U.S. dollars ($1,400) four hundred thousand (400,000) yen, sir.

XXX
Q:

And were you able to give this amount to the accused Wilma Barrameda?

A:

Yes, sir.

Q:

Will you kindly tell the Honorable Court in what manner did you give this money to the accused Wilma
Barrameda?

A:

I first counted the money and then I inserted in an envelope with a letter inside the envelope, sir.

Q:

Now, after having counted the money and after having inserted a letter in the envelope together with the
money, what happened, if any?

A:

She again counted the money and she put it inside her bag, sir.[15]

This claim of private complainant was strongly corroborated by the testimonies of Papiniana
Paguinto, the mother of private complainant, who testified that she met accused-petitioner at the Manila
International Airport on November 27, 1984 in order to get the money sent by her daughter. When the
witness got to the airport, accused-petitioner embraced her and told her that private complainant sent
her some money but that she had misplaced it[16] Accused-appellant then told her that the money
might be in her baggage and so they proceeded to the house of Ruben Barrameda, private
complainants uncle, to search for the money. They were able to go to the house of Ruben Barrameda
but they decided against opening the luggage as a lot of people were present, the place being a
beerhouse[17]. From the residence of Ruben Cabrera, accused-petitioner proceeded to her house in
San Pedro Laguna. The witness did not anymore go with her as it was getting late. Nevertheless,
accused-petitioner promised her that she would bring the money the following day. When accusedpetitioner failed to bring the money, the witness and her husband proceeded to accused-petitioners
residence to demand for the money. However, they were informed by accused-petitioner that she still
had not found the money entrusted to her[18]
Ruben Barrameda, likewise testified and he corroborated the version of the events of the
prosecution. He testified that on November 26, 1984, her niece, the private complainant, called him up
from Japan and requested that he fetch her mother, witness Papiniana Paguinto[19]. Upon fetching

Paguinto from her house, they immediately called up private complainant in Japan. He was beside
Paguinto during the whole telephone conversation and he overheard that private complainant was
sending money to Paguinto[20] After the phone conversation, Papiniana Paguinto also told him that the
money would be sent through accused-appellant Wilma Barrameda who would be arriving the
following day[21] The following day, on November 27, 1984, accused-appellant and Papiniana
Paguinto went to his house in order to call private complainant. Paguinto was able to talk with private
complainant who told her that she wanted to speak with accused-appellant[22] He then overheard
accused-appellant tell private complainant not to worry as the money might have been misplaced in her
luggage[23]
The receipt of the misappropriated amount was further evidenced by a letter dated November 15,
1984[24] sent by private complainant to her mother through a certain Nancy. In this letter, private
complainant enclosed US$400.00 and informed her mother that she will be sending the equivalent of
P50,000.00 through accused-petitioner. Likewise, the telephone calls made at Ruben Barramedas
house regarding the receipt of the misappropriated amounts were supported by telephone bill
receipts[25]
In contrast, the trial court noted that the version of the defense as to what transpired, as shown in
the testimony of accused-appellant, smacks of inconsistencies which render the uncorroborated
testimony of the accused unworthy of belief.[26] As previously stated, the findings of the trial court
regarding the issue of the credibility of witnesses and their testimonies, particularly when affirmed by
the Court of Appeals, are entitled to great respect and are accorded the highest consideration by the
Supreme Court[27]. Furthermore, accused-petitioners defense is a mere denial which is a feeble
defense which cannot stand against the positive testimony of eyewitnesses and by the evidence on
record.[28]
Accused-petitioner likewise takes exception to the admission by the trial court of the November
15, 1984 letter and the telephone bill receipts. In objecting to the admissibility of the November 15,
1984 letter, accused-petitioner argues that the letter was not properly identified by the person
(Nancy) thru whom the letter was sent[29]. On the other hand, the telephone bill receipts were
objected to for being written in a foreign language (Japanese) with no accompanying translation.
Again, accused-petitioners arguments are not convincing.
A perusal of the records show that the November 15, 1984 letter was properly identified by private
complainant, Lolita Watanabe, who wrote the letter[30] and by Papiniana Paguinto, who received the
same[31] The testimony of Nancy, through whom the letter was allegedly sent, was not necessary for
its proper identification as her testimony would be merely corroborative.
As for the telephone bill receipts, a perusal of the aforementioned documents clearly shows that
the Japanese entries appearing therein have English or numerical entries which show the date, type,
destination/origin, etc. From these receipts, it is evident that calls were made on November 26 and 27
to the Philippines and the party called was a certain Paguinto,[32] as stated by Ruben Barrameda in
his testimony.
It must be noted, however, that these receipts were merely presented in connection with the
telephone conversations between private complainant in Japan and her mother in the Philippines
wherein the fact that money was sent thru accused-appellant was shown. As such, these receipts were

simply supporting evidence which show that these telephone conversations were made. Hence, even if
they were excluded, the fact that accused-petitioner failed to deliver the amount in her custody to
Papiniana Paguinto is amply supported by other evidence on record.
In sum, the prosecution has conclusively shown that accused-petitioner received money equivalent
to P50,000.00 from private complainant Lolita Paguinto Watanabe, in trust and under the obligation to
deliver the same to her mother, Papiniana Paguinto. The accused denied having received the said
amount, which denial has been proven to be false. The denial made by accused-petitioner was to the
prejudice of the private-complainant and her mother. Finally, demand was made for the return of the
money from accused-petitioner which she failed to do.
Under these circumstances, accused-petitioner is clearly guilty of the crime of estafa through
misappropriation or conversion as penalized under Article 315, paragraph 1(B) of the Revised Penal
Code which states as follows:
Art. 315. Swindling (estafa). Any person who shall defraud another by any of the

means mentioned hereinbelow shall be punished by:


XXX
1. With unfaithfulness or abuse of confidence, namely:
XXX

(b) By misappropriating or converting, to the prejudice of another, money, goods, or


any other personal property received by the offender in trust, or on commission, or for
administration, or under any other obligation involving the duty to make delivery of, or
to return the same, even though such obligation be totally or partially guaranteed by a
bond; or by denying having received such money, goods, or other property;
XXX
The Court notes, however, that the penalty imposed by the trial court is erroneous. Considering
that the total amount of the fraud committed is P50,000.00, the applicable penalty is that provided in
the 1stparagraph of Article 315 which states as follows:
1ST. The penalty of prision correcional in its maximum period to prision mayor in its

minimum period, if the amount of the fraud is over 12,000 pesos but does not exceed
22,000 pesos; and if such amount exceeds the latter sum, the penalty provided in this
paragraph shall be imposed in its maximum period, adding one year for each additional
10,000 pesos; but the total penalty which may be imposed shall not exceed twenty
years. In such cases, and in connection with the accessory penalties which may be
imposed and for the purpose of the other provisions of this Code, the penalty shall be
termed prision mayor orreclusion temporal, as the case may be;
Under the Indeterminate Sentence Law[33], if the offense is punished by the Revised Penal Code,
such as estafa, the court shall sentence the accused to an indeterminate penalty, the maximum term of

which shall be that which, in view of the attending circumstances, could be properly imposed under the
rules of the Revised Penal Code, and the minimum term of which shall be within the range of the
penalty next lower to that prescribed by the Code for the offense.[34]
Applying the foregoing rules, the trial court correctly imposed ten (10) years of prision mayor as
the maximum of the indeterminate sentence. However, the minimum of the indeterminate sentence
should be within the range of the penalty one degree lower than that prescribed by the Revised Penal
Code which is prision correccional minimum. Considering that there are no aggravating
circumstances, the minimum of accused-petitioners indeterminate sentence should properly be two (2)
years and four (4) months of prision correccional.
WHEREFORE, premises considered, the petition is DENIED and the decisions of the trial court
and Court of Appeals are hereby AFFIRMED with the modification that the petitioner is sentenced to
an indeterminate penalty of two (2) years and four (4) months of prision correccional, as minimum, to
ten (10) years of prision mayor, as maximum. Accused-petitioner is likewise ordered to indemnify the
offended party in the sum of P50,000.00 representing the amount embezzled, and to pay the costs.
SO ORDERED.
Melo, (Chairman), Vitug, Panganiban, and Purisima, JJ., concur.
[G.R. No. 122641. January 20, 1997]

BAYANI SUBIDO, JR. and RENE PARINA, petitioners, vs. THE


HONORABLE SANDIGAN-BAYAN and THE PEOPLE OF THE
PHILIPPINES,respondents.
DECISION
DAVIDE, JR., J.:

In this petition for certiorari under Rule 65 of the Rules of Court, the petitioners seek to
set aside, on ground of grave abuse of discretion amounting to lack of jurisdiction, the
following acts of the respondent Sandiganbayan in Criminal Case No. 22825: (a) the
Resolution[1] of 25 October 1995 which denied the petitioners Motion to Quash of 28 August
1995 and Supplementary Motion to Quash of 7 October 1995; (b) the Order[2] of 10
November 1995 which denied the petitioners motion for reconsideration; and (c) the
Order[3] of 10 November 1995 which entered a plea of not guilty for the petitioners and set
pre-trial on 12 January 1996.
In Criminal Case No. 22825, the petitioners were charged with Arbitrary Detention,
defined and penalized by Article 124 of the Revised Penal Code (RPC), under an information
dated 17 July 1995 (but filed on 28 July 1995), the accusatory portion of which reads as
follows:

That on or about June 25, 1992, or sometime subsequent thereto, in Mandaluyong,


Metro Manila, Philippines and within the jurisdiction of this Honorable Court, the

above-named accused, Bayani Subido, Jr., being then a Commissioner of the Bureau of
Immigration and Deportation (BID) and accused Rene Parina, being then a BID Special
Agent, while in the performance of their official functions, and conspiring and
confederating with each other, did then and there wilfully, unlawfully and feloniously
cause the issuance and implementation of a warrant of arrest dated June 25, 1992 against
James J. Maksimuk, said accused knowing fully well that the BID Decision dated June
6, 1991, requiring Maksimuk's deportation has not as yet become final and executory
considering the pendency of a Motion for Reconsideration, resulting in the detention of
the latter for a period of forty-three (43) days and, thus, causing him undue injury.
CONTRARY TO LAW.[4]
The arraignment was originally set for 28 August 1995.[5]
On 28 August 1995, however, the petitioners filed a Motion to Quash,[6] contending that
in view of the effectivity of R.A. No. 7975[7] on 6 May 1995, amending 4 of P.D. No. 1606,
[8] the Sandiganbayan had no jurisdiction over both the offense charged and the persons of
the accused. They argued that: (1) Arbitrary Detention did not fall within Chapter II, 2, Title
VII of the RPC, but within 1, Chapter 1, Title II (Crimes Against the Fundamental Laws of the
State), hence, not covered by R.A. No. 7975 and, therefore, the case should have been filed
with the Regional Trial Court (RTC) of Manila; (2) R.A. No. 7975 should be given prospective
application and at the time the case was filed, petitioner Subido was already a private person
since he was separated from the service on 28 February 1995; while petitioner Parina did not
hold a position corresponding to salary grade 27; and (3) penal laws must be strictly
construed against the State.
In compliance with the order of the Sandiganbayan, the prosecution filed its Opposition to
the Motion to Quash[9] on 28 September 1995. It contended that it was clear from 4(b) of
R.A. No. 7975 that the Sandiganbayan had jurisdiction over both the offense charged and the
persons of the accused considering that the basis of its jurisdiction xxx is the position of the
accused in the government service when the offense charged was committed and not the
nature of the offense charged, provided the said offense committed by the accused was in the
exercise of his duties and in relation to his office. The fact then that accused Subido was
already a private individual was of no moment.
In a Supplement to the Motion to Quash[10] filed on 9 October 1995, the petitioners
further asserted that: (1) the allegations in the information were vague; (2) under 1, Rule VIII
of Memorandum Order (MO) No. 04-92 (Rules of Procedure to Govern Deportation
Proceedings), the grant or denial of bail to an alien in a deportation proceeding was
discretionary upon the Commissioner, hence could not be subject to a charge of arbitrary
detention; (3) petitioner Subido was separated from the service before the effectivity of R.A.
No. 7975, hence retroactive application thereof would be prejudicial to him; and (4) at the time
the information was filed, petitioner Parina was not occupying a position corresponding to
salary grade 27 or higher, as prescribed by R.A. No. 6758.[11]
In its Rejoinder[12] filed on 20 October 1995, the prosecution maintained that with 4 of
MO No. 04-92, Salazar v. Achacoso,[13] and Gatchalian v. CID,[14] the only instance when

an alien facing deportation proceedings could be arrested by virtue of a warrant of arrest was
when the Commissioner issued the warrant to carry out a final order of deportation, which
was absent in this case due to the pendency of the motion for reconsideration timely filed. It
further reiterated that the basis of the Sandiganbayans jurisdiction over the case was the
position of the accused when the crime was committed, not when the information was filed; in
any event, petitioner Subidos position as a Commissioner of the Bureau of Immigration was
classified even higher than grade 27 under the Compensation and Classification Act of
1989.
In its Resolution[15] of 25 October 1995, the Sandiganbayan denied the petitioners
Motion to Quash and the Supplement thereto, ruling:

1. [T]he jurisdiction of the Sandiganbayan remains not only over the specific offenses
enumerated in Sec. 4 of P.D. 1606 as Amended by R.A. 7975 but over offenses
committed in relation to their office, regardless of the penalty provided that the salary of
the accused is at Grade 27 under [R.A. 6758] or that he is occupying any of the position
described in Sec. 4(a)e of the law, which includes the position of Deputy Commissioner.
2. [A]t this time the position of the prosecution in response to this Court's misgivings
stated in its Order of August 28, 1995, appears to be that aliens may not be arrested
except upon execution of a deportation order, a matter which can be taken up at further
proceedings after the arraignment of the accused.
It likewise set arraignment on 10 November 1995. To abort arraignment, the petitioners filed
on 9 November 1995 a motion for reconsideration[16] and submitted that under the vast
power of the Commissioner of the Department of Immigration, he could authorize the arrest
and detention of an alien even though a deportation order had not yet become final, in light of
the preventive, not penal, nature of a deportation order.[17]
On 10 November 1995, the Sandiganbayan issued an Order[18] denying the petitioners
motion for reconsideration, and a second Order[19] entering a plea of not guilty in favor of the
petitioners since they objected to arraignment, setting pre-trial on 12 January 1996, and
making of record that arraignment was conducted with the reservation of the petitioners to
seek redress with this Court from the denial of their motion for reconsideration.
Hence, this special civil action, where the parties, in the main, reiterate the arguments
they raised before the Sandiganbayan. In due time, we resolved to give due course to the
petition and required the parties to file their respective memoranda, which they subsequently
complied with.
The petition must be dismissed.
Sections 2 and 7 of R.A. No. 7975 pertinently provide as follows:

Sec. 2. Section 4 of [P.D. No. 1606] is hereby further amended to read as follows:
Sec. 4. Jurisdiction. -- The Sandiganbayan shall exercise original jurisdiction in all
cases involving:

a. Violations of Republic Act No. 3019, as amended, otherwise known as the Anti-Graft
and Corrupt Practices Act, Republic Act No. 1379, and Chapter II, Section 2, Title VII of
the Revised Penal Code, where one or more of the principal accused are officials
occupying the following positions in the government, whether in a permanent, acting or
interim capacity, at the time of the commission of the offense;
(1) Officials of the executive branch occupying the positions of regional director and
higher, otherwise classified as grade 27 and higher, of the Compensation and Position
Classification Act of 1989 (Republic Act No. 6758), specifically including:
xxx

(5) All other national and local officials classified as Grade 27 and higher under the
Compensation and Position Classification Act of 1989.
b. Other offenses or felonies committed by the public officials and employees
mentioned in subsection (a) of this section in relation to their office.
c. Civil and criminal cases filed pursuant to and in connection with Executive Order
Nos. 1, 2, 14 and 14-A.
In cases where none of the principal accused are occupying positions corresponding to
salary grade 27 or higher, as prescribed in said Republic Act No. 6758, or PNP
officers occupying the rank of superintendent or higher, or their equivalent, exclusive
jurisdiction thereof shall be vested in the proper Regional Trial Court, Metropolitan Trial
Court, Municipal Trial Court, and Municipal Circuit Trial Court, as the case may be,
pursuant to their respective jurisdiction as provided in Batas Pambansa Blg. 129.
Sec. 7. Upon the effectivity of this Act, all criminal cases in which trial has not begun in
the Sandiganbayan shall be referred to the proper courts.
R.A. No. 7975 took effect on 16 May 1995,[20] or one year, ten months and twenty-one
days after the alleged commission of the crime charged in Criminal Case No. 22825 before
the Sandiganbayan. The provisions of 4 of P.D. No. 1606, as amended by E.O. No. 184, but
prior to their further amendment by R.A. No. 7975, are then the applicable provisions. 4 of
P.D. No. 1606 then pertinently provided as follows:

SEC. 4. Jurisdiction. -- The Sandiganbayan shall exercise:


(a) Exclusive appellate jurisdiction in all cases involving:
(1) violations of Republic Act No. 3019, as amended, otherwise known as the AntiGraft and practices Act, Republic Act No. 1379, and Chapter II, Section 2, Title VII of
the Revised Penal Code;
(2) other offenses or felonies committed by public officers and employees in relation to
their office, including those employed in government-owned or controlled corporations,
whether simple or complexed with other crimes, where the penalty prescribed by law is
higher than prision correccional or imprisonment for six (6) years, or a fine

of P6,000.00: PROVIDED, HOWEVER, that offenses or felonies mentioned in this


paragraph where the penalty prescribed by law does not exceed prision correccional or
imprisonment of six (6) years or a fine of P6,000.00 shall be tried by the proper
Regional Trial Court, Metropolitan Trial Court, Municipal Trial Court and Municipal
Circuit Trial Court.
In Aguinaldo v. Domagas,[21] and subsequently in Sanchez v. Demetriou,[22] Natividad v.
Felix,[23] and Republic v. Asuncion,[24] we ruled that for the Sandiganbayan to have
exclusive original jurisdiction over offenses or felonies committed by public officers or
employees under the aforementioned 4(a)(2), it was not enough that the penalty prescribed
therefor was higher than prision correccional or imprisonment for six years, or a fine
of P6,000.00; it was likewise necessary that the offenses or felonies were committed in
relation to their office.[25]
The information in Criminal Case No. 22825 before the Sandiganbayan charged the
petitioners with the crime of arbitrary detention which was committed while in the
performance of their official functions, or, evidently, in relation to their office. As the detention
allegedly lasted for a period of 43 days, the prescribed penalty is prision mayor,[26] with a
duration of six years and one day to twelve years. Indisputably, the Sandiganbayan has
jurisdiction over the offense charged in Criminal Case No. 22825.
The petitioners, however, urge us to apply 4 of P.D. No. 1606, as amended by R.A. No.
7975, the law in force at the time of the filing of the information in Criminal Case No.
22825. They submit that under the new law, the Sandiganbayan has no jurisdiction over the
offense charged and their persons because at the time of the filing of the information,
petitioner Subido was already a private individual, while the classification of petitioner Parinas
position was lower than grade 27.
We are not persuaded. The petitioners overlook the fact that for purposes of 4 of P.D.
No. 1606, as amended, the reckoning point is the time of the commission of the crime. This is
plain from the last clause of the opening sentence of paragraph (a), 4 of P.D. No. 1606, as
further amended by R.A. No. 7975.
Petitioner Subido never denied the respondents claim that as commissioner of
Immigration and Deportation [now Bureau of Immigration] at the time of the commission of the
crime [he was] classified as having a position even higher than grade 27.[27] Both parties
are, however, agreed that at such time petitioner Parina was holding a position with a
classification much lower than salary grade 27. There can, therefore, be no doubt that the
Sandiganbayan had jurisdiction over the crime allegedly committed by Subido.
That petitioner Parina held a position with a salary grade of less than 27 at the time of
the commission of the alleged arbitrary detention is of no moment. He is prosecuted as a coconspirator of petitioner Subido, a principal accused, who held a position higher than grade
27. The following provision of 4 of P.D. No. 1606, as amended by R.A. No. 7975, then
applies:

In cases where none of the principal accused are occupying the positions

corresponding to salary grade 27 or higher, as prescribed in the said Republic Act No.
6758 ... exclusive jurisdiction therefor shall be vested in the proper Regional Trial Court,
Metropolitan Trial Court, Municipal Trial Court, and Municipal Circuit Trial Court, as
the case may be, pursuant to their respective jurisdiction as provided in Batas Pambansa
Blg. 129.
Finally, the petitioners invocation of the prohibition against the retroactivity of penal laws
is misplaced. Simply put, R.A. No. 7975 is not a penal law. Penal laws or statutes are those
acts of the Legislature which prohibit certain acts and establish penalties for their violation;
[28] or those that define crimes, treat of their nature, and provide for their punishment.
[29] R.A. No. 7975, in further amending P.D. No. 1606 as regards the Sandiganbayans
jurisdiction, mode of appeal, and other procedural matters, is clearly a procedural law, i.e.,
one which prescribes rules and forms of procedure of enforcing rights or obtaining redress for
their invasion, or those which refer to rules of procedure by which courts applying laws of all
kinds can properly administer justice.[30] Moreover, the petitioners even suggest that it is
likewise a curative or remedial statute; one which cures defects and adds to the means of
enforcing existing obligations.[31] As noted by the petitioners, previous to the enactment of
R.A. No. 7975:

As before, not [sic] matter what kind of offense, so long as it is alleged that the crime is
committed in relation to the office of the public official, the Sandiganbayan had
jurisdiciton to try and hear the case, such that in many cases accused persons even from
the far away parts of the country, Mindanao, Visayas and the northern parts of Luzon
had to come personally to Manila to attend and appear for cases filed against them,
considering that the Sandiganbayan has its office/court in Manila.
The said R.A. No. 7975 changed this lamentable situation. For no as so provided in the said law, there
ha[s] been a modification that benefits [the] accused xxx in the sense that now where none of the
principal accused are occupying positions corresponding to salary grade 27 or higher as prescribed
by Republic Act No. 6758 xxx exclusive jurisdiction there shall be vested now in the proper Regional
Trial and Metropolitan Trial Court and Municipal Circuit Trial Court, as the case may be xxx. [32]
All told, as a procedural and curative statute, R.A. No. 7975 may validly be given retroactive
effect, there being no impairment of contractual or vested rights. [33]
WHEREFORE, the instant petition is DISMISSED, and the questioned resolution and
orders of the respondent Sandiganbayan are AFFIRMED.
Costs against the petitioners.
SO ORDERED.
Narvasa, C.J., (Chairman), Melo, Francisco, and Panganiban, JJ., concur.

SECOND DIVISION

YUSUKE FUKUZUME,*
Petitioner,

G.R. No. 143647


Present:
PUNO, Chairman,**
AUSTRIA-MARTINEZ,
CALLEJO, SR.,
TINGA, and
CHICO-NAZARIO,*** JJ.

- versus -

Promulgated:
PEOPLE OF THE PHILIPPINES,
Respondent.

November 11, 2005

x----------------------------------------------------------- x

DECISION
AUSTRIA-MARTINEZ, J.:

Before us is a petition for review on certiorari under Rule 45 of the Rules of Court
assailing the Decision[1] of the Court of Appeals (CA) dated March 13, 2000 in CAG.R. CR No. 21888, which affirmed with modification the judgment of the Regional
Trial Court (RTC) of Makati, Branch 146 dated October 21, 1996 in Criminal Case No.
95-083, finding herein accused-appellant guilty beyond reasonable doubt of the crime of
estafa, sentencing him to suffer the penalty of imprisonment for twenty (20) years and to
pay private complainant the sum of P424,000.00; and the CA Resolution dated June 16,
2000 denying petitioners motion for reconsideration.[2]

The facts of the case are as follows:

Private complainant Javier Ng Yu (Yu) is a businessman engaged in buying and selling

aluminum scrap wires.[3] Sometime in July 1991, Yu, accompanied by a friend, Mr.
Jovate,[4] who was the vice-president of Manila Electric Company, went to the house of
herein accused-appellant Yusuke Fukuzume (Fukuzume) in Paraaque.[5] Jovate
introduced Fukuzume to Yu telling the latter that Fukuzume is from Furukawa Electric
Corporation (Furukawa) and that he has at his disposal aluminum scrap wires.[6]
Fukuzume confirmed this information and told Yu that the scrap wires belong to
Furukawa but they are under the care of National Power Corporation (NAPOCOR).[7]
Believing Fukuzumes representation to be true, Yu agreed to buy the aluminum scrap
wires from Fukuzume.[8] The initial agreed purchase price wasP200,000.00.[9] Yu gave
Fukuzume sums of money on various dates which eventually totaled P290,000.00,
broken down as follows: P50,000.00, given on July 12, 1991;P20,000.00, given on July
22, 1991; P50,000.00, given on October 14, 1991; and, P170,000.00, given on October
18, 1991.[10] Fukuzume admitted that he received the same from Yu and that he still
owes him the amount of P290,000.00.[11] To support his claim that the aluminum scrap
wires being sold are indeed owned by Furukawa, that these scrap wires are with
NAPOCOR, and that Furukawas authorized representatives are allowed to withdraw
and dispose of said scrap wires, Fukuzume gave Yu two certifications dated December
17, 1991 and December 27, 1991 purportedly issued by NAPOCOR and signed by its
legal counsel by the name of R. Y. Rodriguez.[12] At the time that Fukuzume gave Yu
the second certification, he asked money from the latter telling him that it shall be given
as gifts to some of the people in NAPOCOR. Yu gave Fukuzume money and, in
exchange, the latter issued two checks, one for P100,000.00 and the other
for P34,000.00.[13] However, when Yu deposited the checks, they were dishonored on
the ground that the account from which the checks should have been drawn is already
closed.[14] Subsequently, Yu called up Fukuzume to inform him that the checks
bounced.[15] Fukuzume instead told him not to worry because in one or two weeks he
will give Yu the necessary authorization to enable him to retrieve the aluminum scrap
wires from NAPOCOR.[16] On January 17, 1992, Fukuzume gave Yu a letter of even
date, signed by the Director of the Overseas Operation and Power Transmission Project
Divisions of Furukawa, authorizing Fukuzume to dispose of excess aluminum conductor
materials which are stored in their depots in Tanay and Bulacan.[17] Thereafter,
Fukuzume agreed to accompany Yu when the latter is going to take the aluminum scrap

wires from the NAPOCOR compound.[18] When Yu arrived at the NAPOCOR


compound on the scheduled date, Fukuzume was nowhere to be found.[19] Hence, Yu
proceeded to show the documents of authorization to NAPOCOR personnel. However,
the people from NAPOCOR did not honor the authorization letter issued by Furukawa
dated January 17, 1992.[20] NAPOCOR also refused to acknowledge the certifications
dated December 17, 1991 and December 27, 1991 claiming that these are spurious as the
person who signed these documents is no longer connected with NAPOCOR as of
December 1991.[21] Unable to get the aluminum scrap wires from the NAPOCOR
compound, Yu talked to Fukuzume and asked from the latter the refund of the money he
paid him.[22] Fukuzume promised to return Yus money.[23] When Fukuzume failed to
comply with his undertaking, Yu sent him a demand letter asking for the refund
of P424,000.00 plus loss of profits.[24] Subsequently, Yu filed a complaint with the
National Bureau of Investigation (NBI).[25]

In an Information, dated November 4, 1994, filed with the RTC of Makati, Fukuzume
was charged with estafa committed as follows:

That sometime in the month of July, 1991 up to September 17, 1992, in the
Municipality of Makati, Metro Manila, Philippines, a place within the
jurisdiction of this Honorable Court, the above-named accused, with intent
to prejudice and defraud Javier Yu y Ng, did then and there willfully,
unlawfully and feloniously make false representation and fraudulent
manifestation that he is the duly authorized representative of Furukawa
Electric Co. Ltd., in the Philippines, and was authorized to sell excess
aluminum conductor materials not being used by Napocor and Furukawa,
the accused knowing full well that those representations were false and
were only made to induce and convince said Javier Yu y Ng to buy said
materials, who believing said representations to be true, gave and delivered
the total amount of P424,000.00 but the accused once in possession of the
money, far from complying with his obligation to deliver said aluminum
conductor materials to herein complainant, with intent of gain,
unfaithfulness and abuse of confidence, applied and used for his own
personal use and benefit the said amount and despite repeated demands
failed and refused and still fails and refuses to account for, to the damage

and prejudice of Javier Yu y Ng in the aforementioned amount


of P424,000.00.
CONTRARY TO LAW.[26]
Upon being arraigned on February 28, 1995, Fukuzume pleaded not guilty.[27] Trial
ensued.

In its Decision dated October 21, 1996, the trial court found Fukuzume guilty as
charged. The dispositive portion of the RTC decision reads:

WHEREFORE, all the foregoing premises considered, the Court hereby


finds the accused GUILTY beyond reasonable doubt of the crime of estafa
and hereby orders him to suffer the maximum penalty of imprisonment for
twenty (20) years. With respect to his civil liability, accused is hereby
ordered to pay complainant the amount of P424,000.00 plus legal interest
from the date of demand until fully paid.
SO ORDERED.[28]

Aggrieved by the trial courts decision, Fukuzume filed an appeal with the CA.

On March 13, 2000, the CA promulgated its decision affirming the findings and
conclusions of the trial court but modifying the penalty imposed, thus:

although the trial court correctly imposed the maximum penalty of

imprisonment for twenty (20) years, it failed to determine the minimum


penalty for the offense committed (prision correccional in its maximum
period to prision mayor in its minimum period but imposed in the
maximum period), hence, the penalty is modified to six (6) years and one
(1) day of prision mayor in its minimum period, as the minimum, to not
more than twenty (20) years of reclusion temporal in its maximum period,

as maximum.[29]
Accordingly, the dispositive portion of the CA Decision reads:

WHEREFORE, the judgment appealed from, except for the aforementioned


modification in the prison term of appellant, is hereby AFFIRMED.
SO ORDERED.[30]

Hence, herein petition filed by Fukuzume based on the following grounds:

THE DECISION OF THE HONORABLE COURT OF APPEALS THAT


THE TRIAL COURT OF MAKATI HAS JURISDICTION IS NOT IN
ACCORD WITH LAW OR WITH THE APPLICABLE DECISIONS OF
THE SUPREME COURT.
THE HONORABLE COURT OF APPEALS HAD DECIDED A
QUESTION OF SUBSTANCE IN A WAY NOT IN ACCORD WITH LAW
OR WITH THE APPLICABLE DECISIONS OF THE SUPREME COURT
WHEN IT CONCLUDED THAT THE ALLEGED FALSE PRETENSE
WAS EXECUTED PRIOR TO OR SIMULTANEOUS WITH THE
ALLEGED COMMISSION OF THE FRAUD.
THE HONORABLE COURT OF APPEALS HAD DECIDED A
QUESTION OF SUBSTANCE IN A WAY NOT IN ACCORD WITH LAW
OR WITH THE APPLICABLE DECISIONS OF THE SUPREME COURT
BY FAILING TO CONSIDER THAT THE ORIGINAL TRANSACTION
BETWEEN THE PETITIONER AND PRIVATE COMPLAINANT HAD
BEEN NOVATED AND CONVERTED INTO A MERE DEBTORCREDITOR RELATIONSHIP, THEREBY EXTINGUISHING THE
INCIPIENT CRIMINAL LIABILITY THEREOF, IF ANY.[31]

We agree with Fukuzumes contention that the CA erred in ruling that the RTC of
Makati has jurisdiction over the offense charged. The CA ruled:

The trial court of Makati has jurisdiction. Subject to existing laws, in all
criminal prosecutions, the action shall be instituted and tried in the court of
the municipality or territory wherein the offense was committed or any one
of the essential ingredients thereof took place (Rule 110, Sec. 15, Rules of
Court). Although the false representation and verbal contract of sale of the
aluminum scrap wires took place at appellants residence in Paraaque,
appellant and private complainant nevertheless admitted that the initial
payment of P50,000.00 for said transaction was made at the Hotel
Intercontinental in Makati City (Record, pp. 15, 68). Hence, an element of
the crime that the offended party was induced to part with his money
because of the false pretense occurred within the jurisdiction of the lower
court giving it jurisdiction over the instant case.

The CA ruled on the basis of the sworn statement of Yu filed with the NBI on April 19,
1994[32] and the affidavit of Fukuzume which was subscribed on July 20, 1994.[33]

With respect to the sworn statement of Yu, which was presented in evidence by the
prosecution, it is clear that he alleged therein that on July 12, 1991, he gave Fukuzume
the amount of P50,000.00 at the Intercontinental Hotel in Makati. However, we agree
with Fukuzumes contention that Yu testified during his direct examination that on July
12, 1991 he gave the amount of P50,000.00 to Fukuzume in the latters house. It is not
disputed that Fukuzumes house is located in Paraaque. Yu testified thus:

Q
Mr. Witness, you testified the last time that you know
the accused in this case, Mr. Yusuke Fukuzume?
A
Yes, sir.
Q
Now, would you enlighten us under what circumstance
you came to know the accused?
A
I know the accused Mr. Yusuke Fukuzume through Mr.
Hubati.
Q

And why or how did Mr. Hubati come to know the

accused, if you know?


A
Mr. Hubati came to my place dealing with the
aluminum scrap wires.
ATTY. N. SERING
Your Honor, may I move to strike out the answer. It is not
responsive to the question.
COURT
Please wait until the answer is completed.
Q

Now, you met this Mr. Hubati. How?

He came to me offering me aluminum scrap wires.

FISCAL E. HIRANG
Q

When was that, Mr. Witness?

That was in 1991, sir.

COURT
When?
FISCAL E. HIRANG
Your Honor please, may the witness be allowed to consult his
memorandum.
A

July 12, 1991, sir.

Q
And what transpired during that time you met Mr.
Hubati?
A
We went to the house of Mr. Fukuzume and game (sic)
him some amount of money.
Q
Now, would you tell the Court the reason why you
parted to the accused in this case the amount of money?
A
In payment of the aluminum scrap wires and we have
documents to that effect.

Q
Now, please tell us what really was that transaction that
took place at the house of Mr. Fukuzume on that particular
date?
A
Our agreement with Mr. Hubati and with Mr.
Fukuzume is that, I am going to give money in payment of the
aluminum scrap wires coming from Furukawa Eletric
Company.
Q
How much is the amount of money which you agreed
to give to the accused?
A

Our first agreement was for P200,000.

Where is that aluminum scrap located?

A
The electric aluminum scrap wires was or were under
the care of the National Power Corporation but according to
Mr. Fukuzume it belongs to Furukawa Electric Company.
Q
In short, Mr. Witness, on July 12, 1991, you only gave
to the accused the amount of P50,000?
ATTY. N. SERING
Objection, Your Honor.
FISCAL E. HIRANG
The complainant testified he gave P50,000. I am asking how much
the complainant gave to the accused on that particular date.
A

On July 12, I gave him P50,000 on that date.

Not P200,000?

No, sir.[34]

Settled is the rule that whenever there is inconsistency between the affidavit and the
testimony of a witness in court, the testimony commands greater weight considering that

affidavits taken ex parte are inferior to testimony given in court, the former being almost
invariably incomplete and oftentimes inaccurate.[35]

More importantly, we find nothing in the direct or cross-examination of Yu to establish


that he gave any money to Fukuzume or transacted business with him with respect to the
subject aluminum scrap wires inside or within the premises of the Intercontinental
Hotel in Makati, or anywhere in
Makati for that matter. Venue in criminal cases is an essential element of jurisdiction.
[36] Citing Uy vs. Court of Appeals,[37] we held in the fairly recent case of Macasaet vs.
People[38] that:

It is a fundamental rule that for jurisdiction to be acquired by courts in


criminal cases the offense should have been committed or any one of its
essential ingredients took place within the territorial jurisdiction of the
court. Territorial jurisdiction in criminal cases is the territory where the
court has jurisdiction to take cognizance or to try the offense allegedly
committed therein by the accused. Thus, it cannot take jurisdiction over a
person charged with an offense allegedly committed outside of that limited
territory. Furthermore, the jurisdiction of a court over the criminal case is
determined by the allegations in the complaint or information. And once it
is so shown, the court may validly take cognizance of the case. However,
if the evidence adduced during the trial show that the offense was
committed somewhere else, the court should dismiss the action for
want of jurisdiction.[39] (Emphasis supplied)

Where life or liberty is affected by its proceedings, the court must keep strictly within
the limits of the law authorizing it to take jurisdiction and to try the case and to render
judgment.[40]

In the present case, the criminal information against Fukuzume was filed with and tried
by the RTC of Makati. He was charged with estafa as defined under Article 315,

paragraph 2(a) of the Revised Penal Code, the elements of which are as follows:

1. That there must be a false pretense, fraudulent act or fraudulent means.


2. That such false pretense, fraudulent act or fraudulent means must be
made or executed prior to or simultaneously with the commission of the
fraud.
3. That the offended party must have relied on the false pretense, fraudulent
act, or fraudulent means, that is, he was induced to part with his money or
property because of the false pretense, fraudulent act, or fraudulent means.
4. That as a result thereof, the offended party suffered damage.[41]

The crime was alleged in the Information as having been committed in Makati.
However, aside from the sworn statement executed by Yu on April 19, 1994, the
prosecution presented no other evidence, testimonial or documentary, to corroborate
Yus sworn statement or to prove that any of the above-enumerated elements of the
offense charged was committed in Makati. Indeed, the prosecution failed to establish
that any of the subsequent payments made by Yu in the amounts of P50,000.00 on July
12, 1991,P20,000.00 on July 22, 1991, P50,000.00 on October 14, 1991
and P170,000.00 on October 18, 1991 was given in Makati. Neither was there proof to
show that the certifications purporting to prove that NAPOCOR has in its custody the
subject aluminum scrap wires and that Fukuzume is authorized by Furukawa to sell the
same were given by Fukuzume to Yu in Makati. On the contrary, the testimony of Yu
established that all the elements of the offense charged had been committed in
Paraaque, to wit: that on July 12, 1991, Yu went to the house of Fukuzume in
Paraaque; that with the intention of selling the subject aluminum scrap wires, the latter
pretended that he is a representative of Furukawa who is authorized to sell the said scrap
wires; that based on the false pretense of Fukuzume, Yu agreed to buy the subject
aluminum scrap wires; that Yu paid Fukuzume the initial amount of P50,000.00; that as
a result, Yu suffered damage. Stated differently, the crime of estafa, as defined and
penalized under Article 315, paragraph 2(a) of the Revised Penal Code, was

consummated when Yu and Fukuzume met at the latters house in Paraaque and, by
falsely pretending to sell aluminum scrap wires, Fukuzume was able to induce Yu to part
with his money.

The Office of the Solicitor General argues that Fukuzume himself alleged in his affidavit
dated July 20, 1994 that in an unspecified date, he received P50,000.00 from Yu at the
Intercontinental Hotel in Makati. However, we cannot rely on this affidavit for the
reason that it forms part of the records of the preliminary investigation and, therefore,
may not be considered evidence. It is settled that the record of the preliminary
investigation, whether conducted by a judge or a prosecutor, shall not form part of the
record of the case in the RTC. [42] In People vs. Crispin,[43] this Court held that the fact
that the affidavit formed part of the record of the preliminary investigation does not
justify its being treated as evidence because the record of the preliminary investigation
does not form part of the record of the case in the RTC. Such record must be introduced
as evidence during trial, and the trial court is not compelled to take judicial notice of the
same.[44] Since neither prosecution nor defense presented in evidence Fukuzumes
affidavit, the same may not be considered part of the records, much less evidence.

From the foregoing, it is evident that the prosecution failed to prove that Fukuzume
committed the crime of estafa in Makati or that any of the essential ingredients of the
offense took place in the said city. Hence, the judgment of the trial court convicting
Fukuzume of the crime of estafa
should be set aside for want of jurisdiction, without prejudice, however, to the filing of
appropriate charges with the court of competent jurisdiction.

It is noted that it was only in his petition with the CA that Fukuzume raised the issue of
the trial courts jurisdiction over the offense charged. Nonetheless, the rule is settled
that an objection based on the ground that the court lacks jurisdiction over the offense

charged may be raised or considered motu propio by the court at any stage of the
proceedings or on appeal.[45] Moreover, jurisdiction over the subject matter in a
criminal case cannot be conferred upon the court by the accused, by express waiver or
otherwise, since such jurisdiction is conferred by the sovereign authority which
organized the court, and is given only by law in the manner and form prescribed by law.
[46] While an exception to this rule was recognized by this Court beginning with the
landmark case of Tijam vs. Sibonghanoy,[47] wherein the defense of lack of jurisdiction
by the court which rendered the questioned ruling was considered to be barred by laches,
we find that the factual circumstances involved in said case, a civil case, which justified
the departure from the general rule are not present in the instant criminal case.

Thus, having found that the RTC of Makati did not have jurisdiction to try the case
against Fukuzume, we find it unnecessary to consider the other issues raised in the
present petition.

WHEREFORE, the instant petition is GRANTED. The assailed decision and resolution
of the Court of Appeals in CA-G.R. CR No. 21888
are SET ASIDE on ground of lack of jurisdiction on the part of the Regional Trial Court
of Makati, Branch 146. Criminal Case No. 95-083 is DISMISSED without prejudice.

SO ORDERED.

THIRD DIVISION
ISIDRO PABLITO M. PALANA,
Petitioner,

G.R. No. 149995


Present:

- versus -

Ynares-Santiago, J. (Chairperson),
Austria-Martinez,
Chico-Nazario,

Nachura, and
Reyes, JJ.
PEOPLE OF THE PHILIPPINES,
Respondent.

Promulgated:
September 28, 2007
x ---------------------------------------------------------------------------------------- x

DECISION
YNARES-SANTIAGO, J.:
For review is the Decision of the Court of Appeals in CA-G.R. CR No. 21879 dated
September 17, 2001,[1] affirming the September 23, 1997 Decision of the Regional Trial
Court of Makati City, Branch 63, in Criminal Case No. 91-5617 convicting petitioner
Isidro Pablito Palana with violation of Batas Pambansa (B.P.) Blg. 22 otherwise known
as the Bouncing Checks Law.
On August 19, 1991, petitioner was charged with violation of B.P. Blg. 22 in an
Information which reads as follows:

That on or about September 1987, in the Municipality of Makati, Metro Manila,


Philippines, a place within the jurisdiction of this Honorable Court, the above-named
accused did, then and there, willfully, unlawfully and knowingly make or draw and issue
to Alex B. Carlos to apply on account or for the value the check described below:
Check No.
:
326317PR
Drawn Against
:
Asian Savings Bank
Paseo de Roxas Branch
In the amount of
:
P590,000.00
Postdated
:
February 15, 1988
Payable to
:
Dr. Alex B. Carlos
said accused well knowing that at the time of issue, he did not have sufficient funds in or
credit with the drawee bank for the payment in full of the face amount of such check
when presented for payment within (90) days from the date thereof, was subsequently
dishonored by the drawee bank for the reason Drawn Against Insufficient Funds and
despite receipt of notice of such dishonor, the accused failed to pay said payee the face
amount of said check or make arrangement for full payment within five (5) banking
days after receiving notice.[2]

On January 30, 1992, the case was archived due to petitioners non-apprehension despite
the issuance of a warrant for his arrest.[3] On June 27, 1995, the warrant of arrest was
recalled and set aside[4] after petitioner posted the required bail. He was arraigned
on July 25, 1995 when he pleaded not guilty to the offense charged.[5]
Private complainant Alex B. Carlos testified that sometime in September 1987,
petitioner and his wife borrowed money from him in the amount of P590,000.00. To
secure the payment of the loan, petitioner issued a postdated check for the same amount
in favor of the complainant.[6] However, when the check was presented for payment, it
was dishonored by the bank for insufficiency of funds. Subsequent demand
notwithstanding, petitioner failed to make good the said dishonored check.[7]

Petitioner alleged that the amounts given to him by private complainant was an
investment by the latter who was his business partner. He argued that the subject check
was not issued in September 1987 to guarantee the payment of a loan since his checking
account was opened only on December 1, 1987.[8] He claimed that private complainant
cajoled him to issue a check in his favor allegedly to be shown to a textile supplier who
would provide the partnership with the necessary raw materials. Petitioner alleged that
when the check was issued sometime in February 1988,[9] complainant knew that the
same was not funded.[10]
After trial on the merits, the Regional Trial Court rendered on September 23,
1997 a Decision[11] finding petitioner guilty as charged, the dispositive portion of which
reads:
Wherefore, this court finds the accused Isidro Pablito M. Palana guilty as charged and
sentences him to a prison term of Six (6) months and to indemnify the private
complainant the sum ofP590,000.00 plus legal interest from filing of this case until full
payment.
SO ORDERED.

Petitioner appealed but it was dismissed by the Court of Appeals which affirmed
the trial courts decision in toto.[12]
Both the trial court and the Court of Appeals found that the check was issued as a
guaranty for the loan, thereby rejecting petitioners investment theory. In ruling
against the existence of a partnership between them, the trial court noted that the socalled partnership venture, Palanas General Merchandising, was registered
on December 1, 1987 only in the name of petitioner.[13] The Court of Appeals also held
that the act of lending money does not necessarily amount to an investment of capital.
Hence, the instant petition raising the following issues:
I.
THE COURT OF APPEALS ERRED IN AFFIRMING THE FINDING OF THE
LOWER COURT DISREGARDING THE DEFENSE OF THE ACCUSED THAT THE
ISSUANCE OF THE SUBJECT ASIAN BANK CHECK, WAS NOT FOR A
CONSIDERATION OR FOR VALUE, AS THE ACCUSED WAS ONLY TRICKED BY
THE PRIVATE COMPLAINANT TO ISSUE THE SAID CHECK AS A MEANS OF
BINDING THE ACCUSED TO RETURN HIS INVESTMENT IN THE
PARTNERSHIP WHICH WAS THEN SUFFERING FROM BUSINESS REVERSALS.
II.
THE COURT OF APPEALS ERRED IN AFFIRMING THE FINDINGS OF THE
LOWER COURT THAT THE REGIONAL TRIAL COURT HAS JURISDICTION

OVER THE CASE, DESPITE THE FACT THAT AT THE TIME THE ACCUSED WAS
ARRAIGNED ON JULY 25, 1995 R.A. 7691 EXPANDING THE JURISDICTION OF
THE METROPOLITAN TRIAL COURT WAS ALREADY IN EFFECT.[14]

The issues to be resolved are: 1) whether petitioner was guilty of violation of B.P.
Blg. 22; and 2) whether the Regional Trial Court has jurisdiction over the case.
Petitioners argument that it is the Metropolitan Trial Court and not the Regional Trial
Court which has jurisdiction over the case pursuant to R.A. 7691 is without merit.
It is hornbook doctrine that jurisdiction to try a criminal action is determined by the law
in force at the time of the institution of the action[15] and not during the arraignment of
the accused. The Information charging petitioner with violation of B.P. Blg. 22 was
filed on August 19, 1991. At that time, the governing law determinative of jurisdiction is
B.P. Blg. 129[16] which provides:
Sec. 20. Jurisdiction in criminal cases. Regional Trial Courts shall exercise
exclusive original jurisdiction in all criminal cases not within the exclusive jurisdiction
of any court, tribunal or body, except those now falling under the exclusive and
concurrent jurisdiction of the Sandiganbayan which shall hereafter be exclusively taken
cognizance by the latter.
xxxx
Sec. 32. Jurisdiction of Metropolitan Trial Courts, Municipal Trial Courts and
Municipal Circuit Trial Courts in Criminal Cases. Except in cases falling within the
exclusive original jurisdiction of Regional Trial Courts and the Sandiganbayan, the
Metropolitan Trial Courts, Municipal Trial Courts, and Municipal Circuit Trial Courts
shall exercise:
xxxx
(2)
Exclusive original jurisdiction over all offenses punishable with imprisonment
of not exceeding four years and two months, or a fine of not more than four
thousand pesos, or both such fine and imprisonment, regardless of other imposable
accessory or other penalties, including the civil liability arising from such offenses or
predicated thereon, irrespective of kind, nature, value or amount thereof: Provided,
however, That in offenses involving damage to property through criminal negligence
they shall have exclusive original jurisdiction where the imposable fine does not exceed
twenty thousand pesos.

Violation of B.P. Blg. 22 is punishable with imprisonment of not less than 30 days but
not more than one year or by a fine of not less than but not more than double the amount
of the check which fine shall in no case exceed P200,000.00, or both fine and
imprisonment[17] at the discretion of the court. In the present case, the fine imposable
is P200,000.00 hence, the Regional Trial Court properly acquired jurisdiction over the
case.[18] The Metropolitan Trial Court could not acquire jurisdiction over the criminal
action because its jurisdiction is only for offenses punishable with a fine of not more
than P4,000.00.

The subsequent amendment of B.P. 129 by R.A. No. 7691, An Act Expanding the
Jurisdiction of the Municipal Trial Courts, Municipal Circuit Trial Courts and the
Metropolitan Trial Court[19] on June 15, 1994 cannot divest the Regional Trial Court of
jurisdiction over petitioners case. Where a court has already obtained and is exercising
jurisdiction over a controversy, its jurisdiction to proceed to the final determination of
the cause is not affected by new legislation placing jurisdiction over such proceedings in
another tribunal unless the statute expressly provides, or is construed to the effect that it
is intended to operate on actions pending before its enactment. Indeed, R.A. No. 7691
contains retroactive provisions. However, these only apply to civil cases that have not
yet reached the pre-trial stage. Neither from an express proviso nor by implication can it
be construed that R.A. No. 7691 has retroactive application to criminal cases pending or
decided by the Regional Trial Courts prior to its effectivity.[20] The jurisdiction of
the RTC over the case attached upon the commencement of the action by the filing of the
Information and could not be ousted by the passage of R.A. No. 7691 reapportioning the
jurisdiction of inferior courts, the application of which to criminal cases is prospective in
nature.[21]
After a careful review of the records, this Court sustains petitioners conviction for
violation of B.P. Blg. 22. The elements of the offense penalized under B.P. Blg. 22 are
as follows: (1) the accused makes, draws, or issues any check to apply on account or for
value; (2) the accused knows at the time of issue that he does not have sufficient funds
in or credit with the drawee bank for the payment of such check in full upon its
presentment; and (3) the check is subsequently dishonored by the drawee bank for
insufficiency of funds or credit or would have been dishonored for the same reason had
not the drawer, without any valid reason, ordered the bank to stop payment.
Each element of the offense was duly proven by the prosecution. Petitioner admitted that
at the time he issued the subject check, he knew that he does not have sufficient funds in
or credit with the drawee bank for payment of such check. Consequently, when the
check was presented for payment, it was dishonored by the drawee bank for
insufficiency of funds. Thereafter, he received demand letters to pay the amount of the
check from private complainant but he did not comply with it.[22]
In ruling that the amount of the check was for consideration or value, both the trial court
and the Court of Appeals upheld private complainants claim that the check was issued

as a guaranty for the loan and rejected petitioners investment theory. The issue as to
whether the amount of the subject check represents the amount of the money loaned by
private complainant to petitioner or as an investment in the alleged partnership is a
factual question involving the credibility of witnesses. Where the issue is one of
credibility, the appellate court will not generally disturb the findings of the lower court
considering that it is in a better position to settle that issue since it had the advantage of
hearing the witnesses and observing their conduct during the trial, which circumstances
carry great weight in assessing their credibility. In the present case, we see no reason to
reverse the finding of the trial court as affirmed by the Court of Appeals that the amount
of the subject check was a loan and not an investment.[23]
Upon issuance of a check, in the absence of evidence to the contrary, it is presumed that
the same was issued for valuable consideration, which may consist either in some right,
interest, profit or benefit accruing to the party who makes the contract, or some
forbearance, detriment, loss or some responsibility, to act, or labor, or service given,
suffered or undertaken by the other side. Since it was established that petitioner
received money from private complainant in various amounts,[24] petitioner cannot now
claim that the checks were not issued for value.[25]
The allegation that the check was intended to be shown to potential suppliers is not a
valid defense. In Cueme v. People,[26] the Court held thus:
The allegation of petitioner that the checks were merely intended to be shown to
prospective investors of her corporation is, to say the least, not a defense. The gravamen
of the offense punished under B.P. Blg. 22 is the act of making or issuing a worthless
check or a check that is dishonored upon its presentment for payment. The law has
made the mere act of issuing a bad check malum prohibitum, an act proscribed by the
legislature for being deemed pernicious and inimical to public welfare. Considering the
rule in mala prohibita cases, the only inquiry is whether the law has been
breached. Criminal intent becomes unnecessary where the acts are prohibited for
reasons of public policy, and the defenses of good faith and absence of criminal intent
are unavailing.
The checks issued, even assuming they were not intended to be encashed or deposited in
a bank, produce the same effect as ordinary checks. What the law punishes is the
issuance of a rubber check itself and not the purpose for which the check was issued nor
the terms and conditions relating to its issuance. This is not without good reasons. To
determine the purpose as well as the terms and conditions for which checks are issued
will greatly erode the faith the public reposes in the stability and commercial value of
checks as currency substitutes, and bring about havoc in the trading and banking
communities. Besides, the law does not make any distinction as to the kind of checks
which are the subject of its provisions, hence, no such distinction can be made by means
of interpretation or application. What is important is the fact that petitioner deliberately

issued the checks in question and those checks were dishonored upon presentment for
payment.

Hence, the agreement surrounding the issuance of a check is irrelevant to the


prosecution and conviction of the petitioner.[27]
The alleged inconsistency in the date of issuance of the subject check is likewise
immaterial. Issuance, as defined under the Negotiable Instruments Law, is the first
delivery of the check.[28] In the case at bar, the Information alleged that the check was
postdated February 15, 1988 although issued in or about September 1987. During trial,
petitioner testified that the Checking Account was opened only on December 1,
1987 and that the check was issued sometime in February 1988.
The rule is that a variance between the allegation in the information and proof adduced
during trial shall be fatal to the criminal case if it is material and prejudicial to the
accused so much so that it affects his substantial rights.[29] In a prosecution for
violation of B.P. 22, the time of the issuance of the subject check is material since it
forms part of the second element of the offense that at the time of its issuance, petitioner
knew of the insufficiency of funds. However, it cannot be said that petitioner was
prejudiced by such variance nor was surprised by it. Records show that petitioner knew
at the time he issued the check that he does not have sufficient funds in the bank to cover
the amount of the check. Yet, he proceeded to issue the same claiming that the same
would only be shown to prospective suppliers, a defense which is not valid.
Moreover, there is no merit in petitioners allegation that private complainant
knew that the check is not funded. Both the trial court and the Court of Appeals found
that the subject check was issued as guaranty for payment of the loan hence, was
intended to apply for account or for value. As such, it was incumbent upon petitioner to
see to it that the check is duly covered when presented for payment.
Pursuant to Supreme Court Administrative Circular No. 12-2000, as clarified by
Administrative Circular No. 13-2001, the alternative penalty of fine may be imposed in
lieu of imprisonment considering that the prosecution failed to prove or allege that
petitioner is not a first-time offender.[30] Hence, in lieu of imprisonment, a fine
ofP200,000.00 shall be imposed upon petitioner.[31]
WHEREFORE, the assailed decision of the Court of Appeals in CA-G.R. CR No.

21879 dated September 17, 2001, finding petitioner ISIDRO PABLITO M. PALANA
guilty of violating Batas Pambansa Blg. 22, is AFFIRMED with
MODIFICATION. Petitioner is ordered to pay private complainant the amount
ofP590,000.00, representing the value of the check, with six (6%) percent interest from
date of filing of the Information until the finality of the decision, the amount of which,
inclusive of the interest, is subject to twelve percent (12%) interest, from finality of the
decision until fully paid. In lieu of imprisonment, petitioner is ordered to pay a fine
ofP200,000.00.

[G.R. No. 149357. March 04, 2005]

MOBILIA PRODUCTS, INC., petitioner, vs. HAJIME UMEZAWA, respondent.

[G.R. No. 149403. March 04, 2005]

PEOPLE OF THE PHILIPPINES, petitioner, vs. HON. JUDGE RUMOLDO R.


FERNANDEZ and HAJIME UMEZAWA, respondents.
DECISION
CALLEJO, SR., J.:

Before the Court are two consolidated petitions: a petition for review on certiorari filed by
the People of the Philippines, docketed as G.R. No. 149403 of the Resolution [1] of the Court
of Appeals (CA) in CA-G.R. SP No. 52440 which reversed its decision and granted the
petition for certiorari, prohibition and mandamus filed by respondent Hajime Umezawa; and
the petition for review on certiorari docketed as G.R. No. 149357 filed by petitioner Mobilia
Products, Inc. (MPI), the intervenor in the CA, assailing the same Resolution of the appellate
court.
The Antecedents
The antecedents were amply summarized by the Office of the Solicitor General (OSG) in

the petition at bar, to wit:

Mobilia Products, Inc. is a corporation engaged in the manufacture and export of quality
furniture which caters only to the purchase orders booked and placed through Mobilia
Products Japan, the mother company which does all the marketing and booking. After
orders from customers are booked at the mother company in Japan, the same are coursed
through Mobilia Philippines for implementation and production, after which, the ordered
items are shipped to Japan through the mother company.
Mobilia Products Japan sent Hajime Umezawa to the Philippines in order to head
Mobilia Products, Inc. as President and General Manager. To qualify him as such and as
a Board Director, he was entrusted with one nominal share of stock.
Sometime in the last week of January 1995, Umezawa, then the President and General
Manager of Mobilia Products, Inc., organized another company with his wife Kimiko,
and his sister, Mitsuyo Yaguchi, to be known as Astem Philippines Corporation, without
the knowledge of the Chairman and Chief Executive Officer Susumo Kodaira and
the other members of the Board of Directors of Mobilia.
The said company would be engaged in the same business as Mobilia. Spouses
Umezawa recruited Justin Legaspi, former Production Manager of Mobilia, to act as
Manager and one Yoshikazu Hayano of Phoenix Marble Corporation to serve as
investors [sic].
Pending formal organization, Spouses Umezawa, Justin Legaspi and Yoshikazu Hayano
wanted to accelerate the market potentials of Astem by participating in the International
Furniture Fair 1995 held at the Word Trade Centre of Singapore on March 6 to 10, 1995.
One of the requirements of such Fair was that the furniture exhibits must arrive and be
received at Singapore not later than February 23, 1995. Pressed for time, with less than
one month to prepare and while Astem had yet no equipment and machinery, no staff
and no ready personnel, Umezawa, with grave abuse of the confidence reposed on him
as President and General Manager of Mobilia Products, Inc., and in conspiracy with his
wife, his sister Mitsuyo Yaguchi, Yoshikazu Hayano and Justin Legaspi, all with intent
to gain for themselves and for their company Astem Philippines Corporation, stole
prototype furniture from petitioner Mobilia so that the said pieces of furniture would be
presented and exhibited as belonging to Astem in the International Furniture Fair 95 in
Singapore.
In order to avoid detection, Umezawa contacted Henry Chua, the owner of Dew Foam,
one of the suppliers of Mobilia, for that the latter to load several pieces of prototype
furniture into a Dew Foam truck and store them at the Dew Foam warehouse. The first
batch of furniture was stolen on February 8, 1995, when Mr. Henry Chua, upon the
request of respondent Umezawa, caused to be loaded into his Dew Foam truck two
prototype sofa models worth P500,000.00, after which, the same were spirited from the
Mobilia compound, then transported and stored in Henry Chuas warehouse.

Again, on February 18, 1995, Umezawa, with grave abuse of confidence and taking
advantage of his position as President and General Manager, unlawfully stole expensive
furniture from Mobilias factory worthP2,964,875.00. In order to avoid detection, the
said furniture were loaded in the truck belonging to Dew Foam, with respondent
Umezawa personally supervising the loading, the carting and spiriting away of the said
furniture. Thus, taking advantage of his position as General Manager, he managed to
have the said furniture taken out of the company premises and passed the company
guard without any problem and difficulty.
Further, on February 19, 1995, around 1 oclock in the afternoon, respondent Umezawa
again loaded into his motor vehicle, and took away from company premises under the
same irregular and unlawful circumstances, an expensive three-seater sofa
worth P255,000.00.
The taking out of the said furniture was effected in violation of the standard procedures
established by petitioner corporation which requires that every shipment or taking out of
the furniture be checked and reviewed by Mobilias Production, Planning, Inventory
Costing and Control (PPICC) Division. All the foregoing furniture were transported to
and stored at Henry Chuas warehouse. After sometime, the foregoing furniture were
photographed for slide photos at Photo Folio at the Reclamation Area, Cebu City and
then finally catalogued for use in the Singapore Fair for the use of Astem and its
supposed owners, namely: spouses Umezawa, Hayano and Legaspi. The foregoing
furniture models were finally shipped for exhibition at the International Furniture Fair
95 in Singapore as furniture belonging to Astem Philippines Corporation.
Sometime in March 1995, based on orders booked for Astem, Umezawa, with
unfaithfulness and abuse of confidence reposed on him as the President and General
Manager of petitioner Mobilia, ordered and caused the manufacture of eighty-nine (89)
pieces of furniture with a total value of P17,108,500.00. The said pieces of furniture
were made with Mobilia supplies, materials and machineries, as well as with Mobilia
time and personnel, all of which were under the administration and control of Umezawa
as President and General Manager. The said materials and supplies, the time and labor,
were supposed to be used for the manufacture and production of quality furniture for the
EXCLUSIVE USE of Mobilia. However, Umezawa, in violation of his duty to apply
the same for the use of Mobilia and the duty to account for the same, converted their use
for the benefit of Astem or for the use and benefit of Umezawa, his wife and sister,
Yoshikazu Hayano and Legaspi, much to the damage and prejudice of Mobilia Products.
The same furniture could also have been taken out of the company premises by
Umezawa and cohorts for shipment and delivery to Astem customers had it not been for
the timely discovery of the previous theft. [2]
The Board of Directors of MPI, consisting of its Chairman Susumo Kodaira and members
Yasushi Kato and Rolando Nonato, approved a Resolution on May 2, 1995 authorizing the
filing of a complaint against Umezawa for two counts of qualified theft allegedly committed on

February 18 and 19, 1995. Attached to the complaint was the Joint Affidavit of Danilo
Lallaban, George del Rio and Yasushi Kato. The case was docketed as I.S. No. 95-275.
On May 15, 1995, the public prosecutor filed an Information for qualified theft against
Umezawa with the Regional Trial Court (RTC) of Lapu-Lapu City. The accusatory portion of
the Information, docketed as Criminal Case No. 013231-L, reads:

That during or about the period comprised between the 18th and 19th day of February
1995, in the City of Lapu-Lapu, Philippines, within the jurisdiction of this Honorable
Court, the accused, while being then the President and General Manager of Mobilia
Products, Inc., a corporation engaged in the manufacture and export of furniture, holding
office and doing business in the Mactan Export Processing Zone, Lapu-Lapu City, with
grave abuse of the confidence reposed upon him by his employer, with intent to gain, did
then and there willfully, unlawfully and feloniously take, steal and carry away from the
corporations factory in Mactan Export Processing Zone, Lapu-Lapu City, expensive
pieces of furniture, to wit:
1) 1 set, Model No. 3, 2-seater

German leather sofa, worth - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - P 208,125.00


2) 1 set, Model No. 8, 2-seater

German leather sofa, worth - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - P 315,000.00


3) 1 set, Model No. 5, 2-seater

German leather sofa, worth - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - P 108,000.00


4) 1 set, Model No. 4, 2-seater

German leather sofa, worth - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - P 277,500.00


5) 1 set, Model No. 6, 1-seater

German leather sofa, worth - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - P 146,250.00


6) 1 set, Model No. 2, 2-seater

German leather sofa, worth - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - P 225,000.00


7) 1 set, Model No. 1, 2-seater

German leather sofa, worth - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - P 275,000.00


8) 1 piece, Model Table No. 2,

Italian marble table, worth - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - P

93,750.00

9) 1 piece, Model Table No. 4,

Italian marble table, worth - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - P

105,000.00

10) 2 pieces, Model Pedestal

No. 6, Italian marble pedestal, worth - - - - - - - - - - - - - P 150,000.00


11) 1 piece, Model Column

Standard No. 11, Italian marble worth - - - - - - - - - - - - P

93,750.00

12) 1 piece, Model Table No. 1,

Italian marble table, worth - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - P 105,000.00


13) 1 piece, Model High Table

No. 10, Italian marble, worth - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - P 187,500.00


14) 1 piece, Model Table No. 8,

Italian marble table, worth - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - P


15) 1 piece, Model Table No. 7

187,500.00

Italian marble table, worth - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - P

187,500.00

16) 1 piece, Model Table No. 5

Italian marble table, worth - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - P 112,500.00


17) 1 piece, Model Table No. 9,

Italian marble table, worth - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - P 187,500.00


18) 3-seater sofa, worth- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - P 255,000.00

with an aggregate value of P3,219,875.00, Philippine currency, without the consent of


his employer, to the damage and prejudice of Mobilia Products, Inc., in the said amount
of P3,219,875.00.
Contrary to law.[3]
On motion of the prosecution, the trial court issued a writ of preliminary attachment
covering the properties of Umezawa.
Umezawa then filed an Omnibus Motion to quash the information filed against him, the
discharge of the writ of attachment issued by the trial court, and to set the case for preliminary
investigation. MPI, the private complainant therein, opposed the motion.
In the meantime on July 21, 1995, MPI filed another criminal complaint for qualified theft
against Umezawa, his wife Kimiko Umezawa, Mitsuyo Yaguchi, Justin Legaspi, Yoshikazu
Hayano and Henry Chua allegedly committed in March 1995, with the Office of the City
Prosecutor. The case was docketed as I.S. No. 95-442.
On July 25, 1995, the trial court issued an Order in Criminal Case No. 013231-L denying
the omnibus motion. On joint motion of Umezawa and the public prosecutor, the trial court
ordered a reinvestigation of the case. Conformably, the public prosecutor conducted a
reinvestigation of Criminal Case No. 013231-L jointly with I.S. No. 95-442.
On September 25, 1995, Umezawa filed a petition with the Securities and Exchange
Commission (SEC), docketed as SEC Case No. 002919, for the nullification of the Resolution
issued by the three alleged members of MPI Board of Directors, authorizing the filing of
criminal complaints against him in behalf of the corporation.
On January 3, 1996, the public prosecutor issued a Joint Resolution finding probable
cause for qualified theft and one count of estafa against Umezawa, and dismissing the case
against the other accused. The Prosecutor maintained his finding of probable cause against
Umezawa in Criminal Case No. 013231-L.
On February 20, 1996, the public prosecutor filed an Information for qualified theft with
the RTC of Lapu-Lapu City against Umezawa, docketed as Criminal Case No. 013423-L. The
accusatory portion reads:

That on the 8th day of February 1995, in the City of Lapu-Lapu, Philippines, within the
jurisdiction of this Honorable Court, the above-named accused, while being the
President and General Manager of Mobilia Products, Inc., a corporation engaged in the
manufacture and export of quality furniture, whose principal place of business is at the

Mactan Export Processing Zone, Lapu-Lapu City, with intent to gain, without the
consent of his employer, and with grave abuse of confidence, did then and there
willfully, unlawfully and feloniously take, steal and carry away from the corporations
factory the following expensive pieces of furniture, to wit:
1) 1 set, Model No. 2, 2-seater German

leather sofa, all valued at . . . . . . . . . . . . . .

225,000.00

2) 1 set, Model No. 1, 2-seater German

leather sofa, all valued at . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . P

275,000.00

with an aggregate value of P500,000.00 Philippine Currency, to the damage and


prejudice of Mobilia Products, Inc.
CONTRARY TO LAW.[4]
Another Information for estafa was thereafter filed against the same accused, docketed
as Criminal Case No. 013424-L. The accusatory portion reads:

That sometime in March 1995, in the City of Lapu-Lapu, Philippines, within the
jurisdiction of this Honorable Court, the above-named accused, by means of
unfaithfulness and abuse of confidence reposed upon him as the President and General
Manager of Mobilia Products, Inc., did then and there willfully, unlawfully and
feloniously misappropriate and convert to his own personal use and benefit the amount
of Seventeen Million One Hundred Eight Thousand Five Hundred (P17,108,500.00)
Pesos, Philippine Currency, which was the total value of the furnitures ordered and
manufactured by the accused or at his instance using Mobilia supplies, materials and
machineries, as well as time and personnel which were supposed to be for the exclusive
use of Mobilia Products, Inc. but were converted for the use and benefit of the accused
and Astem Philippines Corporation, a company or firm engaged in the same business as
that of Mobilia Products, Inc., which is, [in] the manufacture and production of quality
furniture for export, owned by the accused, to the damage and prejudice of Mobilia
Products, Inc.
CONTRARY TO LAW.[5]
On April 25, 1996, Umezawa filed a motion for the suspension of the proceedings on the
ground of the pendency of his petition with the SEC in Case No. 002919. The trial court,
however, issued an Order on May 21, 1996, denying the said motion. It held that the filing and
the pendency of a petition before the SEC did not warrant a suspension of the criminal cases.
On September 25, 1998, Umezawa was arraigned and pleaded not guilty.
On September 30, 1998, Umezawa filed anew a Joint Motion to Quash the Informations
in Criminal Cases Nos. 013231-L and 013423-L, on the ground that the facts alleged therein
did not constitute the felony of qualified theft. Umezawa claimed that based on the Joint
Affidavit of the witnesses for the prosecution submitted during the preliminary investigation,
Yasushi Kato and George del Rio, MPI Vice-President and the head of the Upholstery
Department, respectively, the appropriate charge should be estafa and not qualified theft.

Umezawa further claimed that for their failure to object to and resist his alleged delictual acts,
the said witnesses were as guilty as he was and should have been included in the
Information. He also asserted that there was, likewise, no allegation in the Informations as to
who was the owner of the articles stolen; hence, there was no offended party. He noted that
the Informations merely alleged that MPI was his employer. He further posited that there was
no valid charge against him because the resolution authorizing the filing of the cases against
him was approved by a mere minority of the members of the MPI Board of Directors.[6]
Umezawa, likewise, filed a Motion to Quash[7] the Information in Criminal Case No.
013424-L on the ground that the facts alleged in the Information did not constitute the felony
of estafa. He posited that the Information did not contain any allegation that any demand was
made for him to return the goods. Furthermore, the owner of the said articles was not
specified. He noted that as gleaned from the Joint Affidavit of the witnesses for the
prosecution, there was no lawful private complainant. He reiterated that the MPI board
resolution authorizing the filing of the charge against him was not approved by the majority of
the members of its board of directors. Umezawa also alleged that the charge for estafa with
abuse of confidence was already included in the charge for qualified theft, where it was
alleged that he committed theft with abuse of confidence; hence, the charge for estafa should
be quashed, otherwise, he would be placed in double jeopardy. The motion was duly opposed
by the prosecution.
On January 29, 1999, the trial court issued a Joint Order[8] dismissing the cases for lack
of jurisdiction. It held that the dispute between the private complainant and the accused over
the ownership of the properties subject of the charges is intra-corporate in nature, and was
within the exclusive jurisdiction of the SEC. It ruled that Umezawa, as a member of the board
of directors and president of MPI, was also a stockholder thereof. While Umezawa claimed to
be the bona fide owner of the properties subject of the Informations which he appropriated for
himself, the private complainant disputes the same; hence, according to the trial court, the
conflicting claims of the parties should be resolved by the SEC. The private and public
prosecutors received their respective copies of the Joint Order on February 2, 1999.
The MPI, through the private prosecutor, filed a motion for reconsideration of the joint
order of the court and for the reinstatement of the cases on February 15, 1999. The MPI
relied on the following grounds:

a.

The Honorable Court has jurisdiction and must exercise it over these cases;
b.
The above-entitled case is not an intra-corporate controversy;
and
c.
The accused could not claim ownership nor co-ownership of the properties of
private complainant corporation.[9]
The MPI maintained that the trial court had jurisdiction over the cases and cited Section 5
of Presidential Decree (P.D.) No. 902-A, which provides the rules on cases over which the
SEC has original and exclusive jurisdiction. A copy of the motion was served on the public
prosecutor for his approval. However, the public prosecutor did not affix his conformity to the
motion, and instead opted to appear before the trial court during the hearing of the same.
During the hearing, both the public and private prosecutors appeared. In support of his
motion, the private prosecutor argued that the trial of the case must be done in the presence

of and under the control and supervision of the public prosecutor.[10]


The trial court denied the motion in an Order dated April 19, 1999. It held that the SEC,
not the trial court, had jurisdiction over intra-corporate controversies. It also ruled that the
motion of the private complainant was pro forma, it appearing that the public prosecutor had
not approved the same.
The public prosecutor received a copy of the Order on April 20, 1999. On April 26, 1999,
the
People
of
the
Philippines,
through
the
OSG,
filed
a
petition
for certiorari and mandamus with the CA against Presiding Judge Rumuldo R. Fernandez and
Umezawa, docketed as CA-G.R. SP No. 52440. The CA allowed the MPI to intervene as
petitioner, and admitted its petition- in-intervention.
The People of the Philippines, as the petitioner therein, raised the following issues:
I

WHETHER OR NOT IT IS THE LEGAL AND MINISTERIAL DUTY OF THE


REGIONAL TRIAL COURT TO TAKE COGNIZANCE AND JURISDICTION OF
THESE SUBJECT CRIMINAL CASES;
II

WHETHER OR NOT THE SECURITIES AND EXCHANGE COMMISSION HAS


JURISDICTION OVER THE CRIMINAL CASES AGAINST RESPONDENT
HAJIME UMEZAWA;
III

WHETHER OR NOT RESPONDENT JUDGE COMMITTED GRAVE ABUSE OF


DISCRETION AMOUNTING TO LACK OR EXCESS OF JURISDICTION IN
DISMISSING THE CRIMINAL CASES AND DENYING PETITIONERS MOTION
FOR RECONSIDERATION.[11]
The People asserted that the controversy involving the criminal cases was not between
Umezawa and the other stockholders of MPI, but one between him as the accused therein
and the People of the Philippines. It averred that under Section 20(b) of Batas Pambansa
(B.P.) Blg. 129, the RTC has exclusive jurisdiction over the cases against Umezawa. It also
alleged that in dismissing the criminal cases against Umezawa on the ground that it had no
jurisdiction over the crimes charged, the RTC committed grave abuse of its discretion
amounting to excess or lack of jurisdiction.
On September 2, 1999, the CA rendered judgment granting the petition and nullifying the
assailed Orders of the RTC. It ruled that the issue of ownership of the properties subject of
the Informations was not an intra-corporate dispute. It held that Umezawa, although
president and general manager of the MPI and a stockholder thereof, was not a joint owner or
co-owner of the personal properties subject of the charges. It also held that the dispute
between a private corporation and any of its stockholders relative to the ownership of
properties does not ipso factonegate the jurisdiction of the RTC over the criminal cases under

B.P. Blg. 129, as amended. It also declared that the material averments of the Informations
sufficiently charged qualified theft and estafa.
Umezawa filed a motion for the reconsideration of the decision of the CA. In a
complete volte face, the appellate court issued a Resolution on August 8, 2001, granting the
motion and reversing its decision. It affirmed the ruling of the RTC that the dispute between
Umezawa and the other stockholders and officers over the implementation of the MPIs
standard procedure is intra-corporate in nature; hence, within the exclusive jurisdiction of the
SEC. Citing Section 5(a)(b) of P.D. No. 902-A, and the ruling of this Court in Alleje v. Court of
Appeals,[12] the appellate court ruled that based on the material allegations of the Solicitor
General in the petition before the CA, the SEC had exclusive jurisdiction over the conflicting
claims of the parties. It likewise affirmed the ruling of the RTC that the absence of any
allegation in the Information that the MPI was the owner of the properties subject of the
Information is fatal.
The petitioner MPI filed the instant petition for review on certiorari, raising the following
issues:
I

WHETHER OR NOT THE SECURITIES AND EXCHANGE COMMISSION HAS


JURISDICTION OVER THE CRIMINAL CASES AGAINST UMEZAWA.
II

WHETHER OR NOT ALL THE NECESSARY ELEMENTS OF THE CRIMES OF


QUALIFIED THEFT AND ESTAFA ARE SUFFICIENTLY ALLEGED IN THE
INFORMATIONS.
III

EVEN ASSUMING ARGUENDO THAT THE FACTS ALLEGED DO NOT


CONSTITUTE AN OFFENSE THE CORRECT RULING IS NOT TO DISMISS THE
CASE BUT TO ORDER AMENDMENT.
IV

WHETHER OR NOT THE STATE HS LOST ITS RIGHT TO APPEAL.


V

WHETHER OR NOT THE MOTION FOR RECONSIDERATION OF UMEZAWA


IS PRO FORMA.[13]
The People of the Philippines filed a separate petition for review on certiorari, contending
that:

1.
THE COURT OF APPEALS COMMITTED SERIOUS ERRORS OF LAW AND
GRAVE ABUSE OF DISCRETION IN FINDING THAT THE PETITION FOR
MANDAMUS, CERTIORARI AND INJUNCTION WAS FILED OUT OF TIME AND

THAT PETITIONER HAS LOST ITS RIGHT TO APPEAL;


2.
THE COURT OF APEALS COMMITTED SERIOUS ERRORS OF LAW IN
RULING THAT NOT ALL THE ELEMENTS OF QUALIFIED THEFT AND ESTAFA
ARE PRESENT;
3.
THE COURT OF APPEALS COMMITTED BLATANT AND SERIOUS
ERRORS OF LAW IN FINDING THAT THE SECURITIES AND EXCHANGE
COMMISSION (SEC) HAS JURISDICTION OVER THE SUBJECT CRIMINAL
CASES;
4.
THE COURT OF APPEALS COMMITTED SERIOUS ERRORS OF LAW AND
GRAVE ABUSE OF DISCRETION IN GIVING DUE COURSE TO THE PROFORMA MOTION FOR RECONSIDERATION OF UMEZAWA.[14]
The two petitions were consolidated in the Second Division of the Court.
The threshold issues for resolution are the following: (a) whether or not the petition
for certiorari of the People of the Philippines in the CA assailing the January 29, 1999 Joint
Order of the trial court was time-barred; (b) whether the RTC has jurisdiction over the crimes
charged in the said Informations; (c) whether the Informations sufficiently charge the felonies
of qualified theft and estafa; and (d) if in the affirmative, whether all the elements of qualified
theft and estafa are alleged in the Informations.
On the first issue, the CA held that the Public Prosecutor failed to file a motion for the
reconsideration of the trial courts January 29, 1999 Joint Order dismissing the cases, that is,
within fifteen days from receipt of a copy of the said order on February 2, 1999; neither did the
People appeal the said Order within the period therefor. Thus, according to the CA, the
People filed its petition for certiorari, prohibition and mandamus assailing the January 29,
1999 Joint Order of the trial court only on April 26, 1999, well beyond the 60-day period
therefor. The appellate court, likewise, held that the filing of the motion for reconsideration of
the said Joint Order by the private prosecutor without the conformity of the Public Prosecutor
did not toll the period for the People to file its motion for reconsideration thereof, or to appeal
therefrom, or to file a petition for certiorari, prohibition or mandamus. It ruled that, having lost
its right to appeal in due course, the People was proscribed from filing a petition for certiorari,
prohibition or mandamus. The CA declared that the motion for reconsideration filed by
petitioner MPI of the Joint Order of the RTC is pro forma, the public prosecutor not having
signified his written conformity thereto.
On the other hand, the petitioner People of the Philippines insists that while the public
prosecutor did not expressly conform to the motion for reconsideration of the January 29,
1999 Joint Order of the trial court filed by the private prosecutor, through the public
prosecutors presence during the hearing of the said motion, his supervision and control over
the private prosecutor during the said hearing, he in effect adopted and conformed to the said
motion for reconsideration.
In his comment on the petitions, respondent Umezawa maintains that the motion for
reconsideration of the joint order of the trial court filed by the private prosecutor did not

interrupt the period within which the People could appeal, citing the ruling of this Court
in Cabral v. Puno.[15] The respondent posits that the finding of the trial court, which was
affirmed by the CA, that the public prosecutor did not conform to the motion for
reconsideration of the private prosecutor, is binding on this Court. The respondent also avers
that the petitioner has no personality to file the petition. Moreover, he insists that whether the
public prosecutor conformed to the private prosecutors motion for reconsideration is a
question of fact which is not proper in a petition for review on certiorari.

The Courts Ruling


The contention of the petitioner People of the Philippines is not correct. All criminal
actions commenced by complaint or information shall be prosecuted under the direction and
control of the public prosecutor.[16] When the civil action for civil liability is instituted in the
criminal action pursuant to Rule 111 of the Rules on Criminal Procedure, the offended party
may intervene, by counsel, in the prosecution of the offense.[17] In Ramiscal, Jr. v.
Sandiganbayan,[18] we held that under Section 16, Rule 110 of the Rules of Criminal
Procedure, the offended party may intervene in the criminal action personally or by counsel,
who will then act as private prosecutor for the protection of his interests and in the interest of
the speedy and inexpensive administration of justice. A separate action for the purpose would
only prove to be costly, burdensome and time-consuming for both parties and further delay
the final disposition of the case. The multiplicity of suits must be avoided. With the implied
institution of the civil action in the criminal action, the two actions are merged into one
composite proceeding, with the criminal action predominating the civil. The prime purpose of
the criminal action is to punish the offender in order to deter him and others from committing
the same or similar offense, to isolate him from society, reform and rehabilitate him or, in
general, to maintain social order.[19]
The intervention of the private offended party, through counsel, and his prosecution of
the case shall be under the control and supervision of the public prosecutor until the final
termination of the case. A public prosecutor who has been entrusted by law with the
prosecution of criminal cases is duty-bound to take charge thereof until its final termination,
for under the law, he assumes full responsibility for his failure or success since he is the one
more adequately prepared to pursue it to its termination.[20] The prosecution of offenses is a
public function. Indeed, the sole purpose of the civil action is the resolution, reparation or
indemnification of the private offended party for the damage or injury he sustained by reason
of the delictual or felonious act of the accused. [21] Under Article 104 of the Revised Penal
Code, the following are the civil liabilities of the accused:

ART. 104. What is included in civil liability. The civil liability established in Articles
100, 101, 102 and 103 of this Code includes:
1. Restitution;
2. Reparation of the damage caused;
3. Indemnification for consequential damages.

Thus, when the offended party, through counsel, has asserted his right to intervene in the

proceedings, it is error to consider his appearance merely as a matter of tolerance.[22]


The public prosecutor may turn over the actual prosecution of the criminal case, in the
exercise of his discretion, but he may, at any time, take over the actual conduct of the trial.
However, it is necessary that the public prosecutor be present at the trial until the final
termination of the case; otherwise, if he is absent, it cannot be gainsaid that the trial is under
his supervision and control.[23]
In a criminal case in which the offended party is the State, the interest of the private
complainant or the offended party is limited to the civil liability arising therefrom. Hence, if a
criminal case is dismissed by the trial court or if there is an acquittal, a reconsideration of the
order of dismissal or acquittal may be undertaken, whenever legally feasible, insofar as the
criminal aspect thereof is concerned and may be made only by the public prosecutor; or in the
case of an appeal, by the State only, through the OSG. The private complainant or offended
party may not undertake such motion for reconsideration or appeal on the criminal aspect of
the case.[24] However, the offended party or private complainant may file a motion for
reconsideration of such dismissal or acquittal or appeal therefrom but only insofar as the civil
aspect thereof is concerned.[25] In so doing, the private complainant or offended party need
not secure the conformity of the public prosecutor. If the court denies his motion for
reconsideration, the private complainant or offended party may appeal or file a petition
for certiorari or mandamus, if grave abuse amounting to excess or lack of jurisdiction is shown
and the aggrieved party has no right of appeal or given an adequate remedy in the ordinary
course of law.
The public and private prosecutors are not precluded, whenever feasible, from filing a
joint motion for the reconsideration of the dismissal of the case or the acquittal of the
accused, on the criminal and civil aspects of the cases.
In the present case, only petitioner MPI, through counsel, filed a motion for the
reconsideration of the trial courts Joint Order dated January 29, 1999, praying for the
reinstatement of the cases insofar as the civil aspect thereof is concerned. The public
prosecutor did not approve nor conform to the said motion. Although petitioner MPI provided
ample space for the said conformity of the public prosecutor, the latter did not do so; he
merely appeared during the hearing of the said motion with the private prosecutor when the
latter presented his oral arguments in support of the said motion.
The fact that the public prosecutor did not conform to the said motion, however, does not
mean that the same is pro forma. It must be stressed that the propriety and efficacy of the
motion, insofar as the civil aspect of the cases is concerned, is not dependent upon the
conformity of the public prosecutor. Hence, the filing of the joint motion for reconsideration
effectively suspended the running of the period for petitioner MPI to assail the joint order in
the CA via an appeal or a special civil action for certiorari or mandamus under Rule 65 of the
Rules of Court.
However, since the public prosecutor did not file any motion for the reconsideration of the
joint order nor conform to the motion of petitioner MPI, insofar as the criminal aspect of the
cases is concerned, the period for the State to assail the said joint order was not suspended.
Only the motion for reconsideration filed by the public prosecutor of the joint order of

dismissal of the cases could have tolled the period within which the State could appeal,
insofar as the criminal aspect of the cases was concerned. The bare fact that the public
prosecutor appeared for the State during the hearing of the motion for reconsideration of
petitioner MPI does not amount to or constitute his adoption of the said motion as that of the
State. As ruled by this Court inCabral v. Puno:[26]

While it is true that the offended party, Silvino San Diego, through the private
prosecutor, filed a motion for reconsideration within the reglementary fifteen-day
period, such move did not stop the running of the period for appeal. He did not have the
legal personality to appeal or file the motion for reconsideration on his behalf. The
prosecution in a criminal case through the private prosecutor is under the direction and
control of the Fiscal, and only the motion for reconsideration or appeal filed by the
Fiscal could have interrupted the period for appeal.[27]
We agree with the ruling of the CA that the petition for certiorari filed by the petitioner
People of the Philippines with the CA on April 26, 1999 was filed beyond the 60-day period as
provided in Section 4, Rule 65 of the Rules of Court,[28] it appearing that the public
prosecutor received a copy of the joint order of the trial court on February 2, 1999, and, thus,
had only until April 3, 1999 within which to file the said petition.
Even then, the Court still holds that the CA erred in dismissing the petition of the People
of the Philippines simply because the public prosecutor erred in not himself filing a motion for
reconsideration of the joint order of the trial court, on his perception that by being present
during the hearing of the motion for reconsideration of petitioner MPI, he thereby adopted the
said motion as that of the States. The settled rule is that the State is not estopped by the
mistakes of its officers and employees. Indeed, in Cruz, Jr. v. Court of Appeals,[29] the Court
declared:
Estoppel does not lie against the government because of the supposedly mistaken acts

or omissions of its agents. As we declared in People v. Castaeda, there is the long


familiar rule that erroneous application and enforcement of the law by public officers do
not block subsequent correct application of the statute and that the government is never
estopped by mistake or error on the part of its agents.
The Court also held in Chua v. Court of Appeals:[30]
While ordinarily, certiorari is unavailing where the appeal period has lapsed, there are

exceptions. Among them are (a) when public welfare and the advancement of public
policy dictates; (b) when the broader interest of justice so requires; (c) when the writs
issued are null and void; or (d) when the questioned order amounts to an oppressive
exercise of judicial authority. [31]
On the second issue, the petitioners assert that the CA erred in holding that the dispute
between it and the respondent is intra-corporate in nature; hence, within the exclusive
jurisdiction of the SEC. As gleaned from the material allegations of the Informations, the RTC
had exclusive jurisdiction over the crimes charged. Petitioner MPI further avers that even if
there is no allegation in the Informations identifying it as the owner of the personal properties

described in the Informations, its ownership of the properties can be inferred from the other
allegations. The petitioners maintain that even if the Informations are deficient, the remedy is
the amendment of the Informations and not the dismissal of the cases.
For his part, the respondent avers that the assailed Resolution of the CA is correct, and
that it is the appellate courts decision which is erroneous.
We agree with the petitioners.
According to Section 20 of B.P. Blg. 129

SEC. 20. Jurisdiction in criminal cases. Regional Trial Courts shall exercise exclusive
original jurisdiction in all criminal cases not within the exclusive jurisdiction of any
court, tribunal or body, except those now falling under the exclusive and concurrent
jurisdiction of the Sandiganbayan which shall hereafter be exclusively taken cognizance
of by the latter.
Section 32 thereof was later amended by Section

2 of Republic Act No. 7691, as follows:

Sec. 32. Jurisdiction of Metropolitan Trial Courts, Municipal Trial Courts and
Municipal Circuit Trial Courts in Criminal Cases. Except in cases falling within the
exclusive original jurisdiction of the Regional Trial Court and of the Sandiganbayan, the
Metropolitan Trial Courts, and Municipal Circuit Trial Courts shall exercise:
(1) Exclusive original jurisdiction over all violations of city or municipal ordinances
committed within their respective territorial jurisdiction; and
(2) Exclusive original jurisdiction over all offenses punishable with imprisonment not
exceeding six (6) years irrespective of the amount of fine, and regardless of other
imposable accessory or other penalties, including the civil liability arising from such

offenses or predicated thereon, irrespective of kind, nature, value or amount thereof:


Provided, however, That in offenses involving damage to property through criminal
negligence, they shall have exclusive original jurisdiction thereof.
Case law has it that in order to determine the jurisdiction of the court in criminal cases,
the complaint or Information must be examined for the purpose of ascertaining whether or not
the facts set out therein and the prescribed period provided for by law are within the
jurisdiction of the court, and where the said Information or complaint is filed. It is settled that
the jurisdiction of the court in criminal cases is determined by the allegations of the complaint
or Information and not by the findings based on the evidence of the court after trial.
[32] Jurisdiction is conferred only by the Constitution or by the law in force at the time of the
filing of the Information or complaint. Once jurisdiction is vested in the court, it is retained up
to the end of the litigation. Indeed, inPeople v. Purisima,[33] this Court held that:

In criminal prosecutions, it is settled that the jurisdiction of the court is not determined
by what may be meted out to the offender after trial or even by the result of the evidence
that would be presented at the trial,but by the extent of the penalty which the law
imposes for the misdemeanor, crime or violation charged in the complaint. If the facts
recited in the complaint and the punishment provided for by law are sufficient to show
that the court in which the complaint is presented has jurisdiction, that court must
assume jurisdiction.
In Criminal Case No. 013231-L, the value of the properties subject of qualified theft
is P3,219,875.00, while in Criminal Case No. 013423-L, the value of the property was pegged
atP255,000.00. Under Article 309 of the Revised Penal Code, the penalty for theft when the
value of the stolen property exceeds P22,000.00 is as follows:

1.
The penalty of prision mayor in its minimum and medium periods, if the value of
the thing stolen is more than 12,000 pesos but does not exceed 20,000 pesos; but if the
value of the thing stolen exceeds the latter amount, the penalty shall be the maximum
period of the one prescribed in this paragraph and one year of each additional ten
thousand pesos, but the total of the penalty which may be imposed shall not exceed
twenty years. In such cases, and in connection with the accessory penalties which may
be imposed and for the purpose of the other provisions of this Code, the penalty shall be
termed prision mayor orreclusion temporal, as the case may be.
Article 310 of the Revised Penal Code further provides for the penalty for qualified theft:

Art. 310. Qualified theft. The crime of theft shall be punished by the penalties next
higher by two degrees than those respectively specified in the next preceding article, if
committed by a domestic servant, or with grave abuse of confidence, or if the property
stolen is motor vehicle, mail matter or large cattle or consists of coconuts taken from the
premises of a plantation, fish taken from a fishpond or fishery or if property is taken on
the occasion of fire, earthquake, typhoon, volcanic eruption, or any other calamity,
vehicular accident or civil disturbance.

On the other hand, in Criminal Case No. 013424-L for estafa, the amount of the fraud
involved is P500,000.00, and under Article 315 of the Revised Penal Code, the penalty for
such crime is

1st. The penalty of prision correccional in its maximum period to prision mayor in its
minimum period, if the amount of the fraud is over 12,000 pesos but does not exceed
22,000 pesos; and if such amount exceeds the latter sum, the penalty provided in this
paragraph shall be imposed in its maximum period, adding one year for each additional
10,000 pesos; but the total penalty which may be imposed shall not exceed twenty years.
In such cases, and in connection with the accessory penalties which may be imposed and
for the purpose of the other provisions of this Code, the penalty shall be termed prision
mayor or reclusion temporal, as the case may be.
Patently, then, based on the material allegations of the Informations in the three cases,
the court a quo had exclusive jurisdiction over the crimes charged.
The bare fact that the respondent was the president and general manager of the
petitioner corporation when the crimes charged were allegedly committed and was then a
stockholder thereof does not in itself deprive the court a quo of its exclusive jurisdiction over
the crimes charged. The property of the corporation is not the property of the stockholders or
members or of its officers who are stockholders. [34] As the Court held in an avuncular case:
[35]

... Properties registered in the name of the corporation are owned by it as an entity
separate and distinct from its members. While shares of stock constitute personal
property, they do not represent property of the corporation. The corporation has property
of its own which consists chiefly of real estate (Nelson v. Owen, 113 Ala., 372, 21 So.
75; Morrow v. Gould, 145 Iowa, 1, 123 N.W. 743). A share of stock only typifies an
aliquot part of the corporations property, or the right to share in its proceeds to that
extent when distributed according to law and equity (Hall & Faley v. Alabama Terminal,
173 Ala., 398, 56 So. 235), but its holder is not the owner of any part of the capital of the
corporation (Bradley v. Bauder, 36 Ohio St., 28). Nor is he entitled to the possession of
any definite portion of its property or assets (Gottfried v. Miller, 104 U.S., 521; Jones v.
Davis, 35 Ohio St., 474). The stockholder is not a co-owner or tenant in common of the
corporate property (Harton v. Johnston, 166 Ala., 317, 51 So., 992) [36]
As early as the case of Fisher v. Trinidad,[37] the Court already declared that [t]he
distinction between the title of a corporation, and the interest of its members or stockholders
in the property of the corporation, is familiar and well-settled. The ownership of that property
is in the corporation, and not in the holders of shares of its stock. The interest of each
stockholder consists in the right to a proportionate part of the profits whenever dividends are
declared by the corporation, during its existence, under its charter, and to a like proportion of
the property remaining, upon the termination or dissolution of the corporation, after payment
of its debts.[38]
We also agree with the ruling of the CA in its decision that the SEC (now the Regional

Trial Court) had no jurisdiction over the cases filed in the court a quo. The appellate courts
reliance in the assailed Resolution issued by the Board of Directors of the petitioner
corporation, on Section 5(b) of P.D. No. 902, has no factual and legal basis.
Section 5 of P.D. No. 902-A provides that the SEC[39] shall have original and exclusive
jurisdiction to hear and decide cases involving the following:

(a) devices or schemes employed by, or any acts of, the board of directors, business
associates, its officers or partners, amounting to fraud and misrepresentation which may
be detrimental to the interest of the public and/or of the stockholders, partners, members
of association or organizations registered with the Commission, and
(b) controversies arising out of intra-corporate or partnership relations, between and
among stockholders, members or associates; between any or all of them and the
corporation, partnership or association of which they are stockholders, members or
associates, respectively.
In Fabia v. Court of Appeals,[40] the Court explained that Section 5 of P.D. No. 902-A
should be taken in conjunction with Section 6 of the law. It then proceeded to explain:

In synthesis, Sec. 5 of PD 902-A mandates that cases involving fraudulent actions and
devices which are detrimental to the interest of stockholders, members or associates and
directors of the corporation are within the original and exclusive jurisdiction of the
SEC. Taken in conjunction with Sec. 6 of the same law, it will be gathered that the
fraudulent acts/schemes which the SEC shall exclusively investigate and prosecute are
those in violation of any law or rules and regulations administered and enforced by the
Commission alone. This investigative and prosecutorial powers of the SEC are further
without prejudice to any liability for violation of any provision of The Revised Penal
Code.
From the foregoing, it can thus be concluded that the filing of the civil/intra-corporate
case before the SEC does not preclude the simultaneous and concomitant filing of a
criminal action before the regular courts; such that, a fraudulent act may give rise to
liability for violation of the rules and regulations of the SEC cognizable by the SEC
itself, as well as criminal liability for violation of the Revised Penal Code cognizable by
the regular courts, both charges to be filed and proceeded independently, and may be
simultaneously with the other.[41]
Thus, the filing of a petition in the SEC for the nullification of the Resolution of May 2,
1995 issued by the Chairman and two members of the Board of Directors of petitioner MPI,
which authorized the filing of criminal cases against respondent Umezawa, was not a bar to
his prosecution for estafa and qualified theft for his alleged fraudulent and delictual acts. The
relationship of the party-litigants with each other or the position held by petitioner as a
corporate officer in respondent MPI during the time he committed the crime becomes merely
incidental and holds no bearing on jurisdiction. What is essential is that the fraudulent acts are
likewise of a criminal nature and hence cognizable by the regular courts.[42] Thus,
notwithstanding the fact that respondent Umezawa was the president and general manager of

petitioner MPI and a stockholder thereof, the latter may still be prosecuted for the crimes
charged. The alleged fraudulent acts of respondent Umezawa in this case constitute the
element of abuse of confidence, deceit or fraudulent means, and damage under Article 315 of
the Revised Penal Code on estafa.[43]
We agree with the encompassing disquisitions of the CA in its decision, to wit:
A dispute involving the corporation and its stockholders is not necessarily an intra-

corporate dispute cognizable only by the Securities and Exchange Commission. Nor
does it ipso facto negate the jurisdiction of the Regional Trial Court over the subject
cases. The Supreme Court citing the case of Viray v. Court of Appeals (G.R. No. 92481,
191 SCRA 308 [1990]) in Torio v. Court of Appeals (G.R. No. 107293, March 2, 1994,
230 SCRA 626) held:
It should be obvious that not every conflict between a corporation and its stockholders

involves corporate matters that only the SEC can resolve in the exercise of its
adjudicatory or quasi-judicial powers.
As the Supreme Court further ruled in the Torio case that a contrary interpretation
would distort the meaning and intent of P.D. 902-A, the law re-organizing the Securities
and Exchange Commission. The better policy in determining which body has
jurisdiction over a case would be to consider not only the relationship of the parties but
also the nature of the questions raised in the subject of the controversy.[44]
On the last issue, we find and so hold that the Informations state all the essential
elements of estafa and qualified theft. It was adequately alleged that respondent Umezawa,
being the President and General Manager of petitioner MPI, stole and misappropriated the
properties of his employer, more specifically, petitioner MPI. As expostulated by the CA in its
decision:
In any event, the allegations in the informations, if hypothetically admitted, are

sufficient to bind Umezawa to the charges of qualified theft and estafa. As aptly ruled
by the court a quo in its Order of July 25, 1995, all the elements of the offense of
qualified theft are present. There is no basis for claiming otherwise. Furthermore, the
private offended party, as well as the subject matter of the felonious taking and the
ownership thereof, have been adequately indicated or identified leaving no room for any
doubt on these matters. Considering that the motions to quash of September 30, 1998
are fundamentally rehash of the motion to quash filed on May 29, 1995 and the culpable
acts subject of the new informations are virtually the same as the first information filed
against Umezawa, there is no conceivable reason why the court a quo abandoned its
previous stand and controverted itself in regard the sufficiency of the informations.
In our considered view, and as the court a quo had correctly held in its Order of May 26,
1996, even a SEC ruling voiding the resolution authorizing the filing of criminal
charges versus the accused Hajime Umezawa can have no bearing on the validity of the
informations filed in these three criminal cases as pointed out by private complainant,

the public offenses of qualified theft and estafa can [be] prosecuted de officio. The
resolution of the office of the prosecutor on the preliminary investigation as well as the
re-investigation conducted on the letter-complaint filed by private complainant company
sufficiently established prima facie case against the accused and the legality or illegality
of the constitution of the board which authorized the filing of the complaint does not
materially affect either the informations filed against Umezawa or the pending criminal
proceedings. As petitioners contend, the action is now between the People of the
Philippines and herein private respondent.[45]
IN LIGHT OF ALL THE FOREGOING, the petitions are GRANTED. The Resolution of
the Court of Appeals in CA-G.R. SP No. 52440 dated August 8, 2001 is REVERSED and SET
ASIDE. The Decision of the Court of Appeals dated September 2, 1999 is AFFIRMED.
SO ORDERED.
Puno, (Chairman), Austria-Martinez, Tinga, and Chico-Nazario, JJ., concur.

Republic of the Philippines


SUPREME COURT
Manila

THIRD DIVISION

G.R. No. 114265 July 8, 1997


PEOPLE OF THE PHILIPPINES, plaintiff-appellee,
vs.
GREGORIO MAGALLANES, accused-appellant.
FRANCISCO, J.:
On September 29, 1991, at around three o'clock in the afternoon, the appellant, GREGORIO
MAGALLANES, who war a "mananari" or gaffer of fighting cocks, trekked the road to the
cockpit of Poblacion Sagbayan, Bohol. The appellant was in the company of several other
cockfighting afficionados, among whom were Romualdo Cempron and Danilo Salpucial.
While on their way, they passed by Virgilio Tapales who was drinking in the store of Umping
Amores which was located on the elevated side of the road. Tapales hailed Cempron and
invited him for a drink but the latter courteously refused as he was going to the cockpit.
Tapales approached Cempron and conversed with him briefly. For some unknown reason,
Tapales then directed his attention to the appellant who was walking a few steps behind
Cempron. Tapales held the appellant by his shirt slapped him and strangled his neck. But
seeing a knife tucked in Tapales' waist, the appellant pulled out the knife and slashed at
Tapales to loosen his grip. The appellant succeeded in wounding the face and neck of
Tapales who let go of the appellant and fled for his life. Insatiated, the appellant pursued
Tapales and when the latter fell, the appellant stabbed him several more times before
uttering the following words: "you are already dead in that case". 1 With that, the appellant
stood up and rode on the motorcycle being driven by Danilo Salpucial. Later, the appellant
surrendered to the police authorities of the town of Inabanga, Bohol.
For the death of Tapales, the appellant and Salpucial were charged as principal and
accessory, respectively, of the crime of murder allegedly committed as follows:

That on or about the 29th day of September, 1991 in the municipality of


Sagbayan, province of Bohol, Philippines and within the jurisdiction of this
Honorable Court, the first above-named accused as Principal, with intent to kill
and without justifiable cause, with treachery and abuse of superior strength,
did then and there willfully, unlawfully and feloniously attack, assault and stab
with the use of a sharp-pointed, sharp-edges (sic) weapon (knife) one Virgilio
Tamales y Melendres hitting and injuring the vital parts of the body of the
victim which resulted in the victim`s instantaneous death; that the second
above-named accused, as Accessory, having knowledge of the commission of
the crime of Murder, but without having participated therein either as Principal
or as an Accomplice, did then and there willfully unlawfully, feloniously and
knowing (sic) take part in said crime after the commission thereof, to wit: by
allowing accused Gregorio Magallanes to, and taking him on a, (sic) backride
on the motorcycle which accused Danilo Salpucial was driving and operating,
in order to flee from the scene of the crime; . . . 2
During arraignment, the appellant expressed his willingness to enter a plea of guilty to the
lesser offense of homicide with the mitigating circumstances of plea of guilty and voluntary
surrender; Salpucial, on the other hand, pleaded no guilty to the charges against him. The
prosecution refused to lower the charge from murder to homicide, hence, trial ensued after
which, a decision was rendered finding the appellant guilty of the crime of murder and
acquitting Salpucial on the ground that the prosecution had failed to prove his guilt beyond
reasonable doubt. The dispositive portion of said decision is quoted hereunder:
PREMISES CONSIDERED, the Court finds the accused Gregorio Magallanes
GUILTY of the crime of Murder punished under Article 243 of the Revised Penal
Code and hereby sentences him to suffer an imprisonment of RECLUSION
PERPETUA with the accessories of the law and to pay the cost.
The accused Gregorio Magallanes is further ordered to indemnify the surviving
spouse Nathaline Tapales in the amount of P50,000.00 representing indemnity,
P50,000.00 representing moral and exemplary damages, P31,300.00 burial
and incidental expenses relative to the death of Virgilio Tapales and P3,000.00
representing attorneys fees, in all instances, without subsidiary imprisonment
in case of insolvency.
xxx xxx xxx
Relative to the accused Danilo Salpucial judgment is hereby rendered
ACQUITTING the aforementioned Danilo Salpucial of the crime as charged,
with cost de officio.
xxx xxx xxx
Before us now is the appeal interposed by Gregorio Magallanes where he invokes the
justifying circumstance of self-defense in his favor, and contends, in the alternative, that he
should be convicted of the crime of homicide only and not murder.
Anent the claim of self-defense, we reiterate herein the time honored doctrine that although
it is a cardinal principle in criminal law that the prosecution has the burden of proving the
guilt of the accused, the rule is reversed where the accused admits committing the crime but
only in defense of oneself. In the latter case, the burden is shifted to the accused who must
prove clearly and convincingly the following elements of self-defense: (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 defending
himself. 4
The appellant asseverates that he was justified in stabbing Tapales as he was merely
defending himself from the former's unlawful and unprovoked aggression. But the

prosecution witnesses are one in testifying that it was the appellant who mercilessly pursued
the already wounded Tapales, and when the latter fell to the ground, inflicted several more
stab wounds on his person including a fatal blow to his neck.
Engineer Sabino Tubal testified as follows:
Q. When you saw the two, Gregorio Magallanes and Virgilio
Tapales, what did you notice?
A. I saw Virgilio Tapales already bleeding and Gregorio
Magallanes bringing a knife.
xxx xxx xxx
COURT:
Did you actually see the stabbing incident?
A. Yes, your Honor.
COURT:
Who stabbed the victim?
A. It was Gregorio Magallanes who stabbed the victim.
Q. When you say victim, you are referring to Virgilio Tapales?
A. Yes, sir.
Q. Now you said that it was Gregorio Magallanes who stabbed the
victim, which did not the victim run?
A. He ran but he was chased by Gregorio Magallanes.
Q. When Virgilio Tapales fell what happened next?
A. This Gregorio Magallanes was on top of the victim and then
Gregorio Magallanes stabbed the throat of the victim.
Q. How far were you from the place where Virgilio Tapales fell and
according to you Magallanes rode on top of the victim and
stabbed his neck?
A. Almost two meters distance.
Q. Did you hear any word from Gregorio Magallanes at that time?
A. When Gregorio Magallanes already stood up that was the time
he said saying (sic), "You are already dead in the case." 5
The foregoing was corroborated by another witness, Esterlita Amodia-Tubal:
Q. Please tell the court briefly the first thing that you saw?
A. At that time I and my helper were doing some gardening work
infront (sic) of our house and all of a sudden my helper called me
this way: "Nang Neng, what is that? And I turned my back and
saw Virgilio Tapales who was chased by Gregorio Magallanes.
Q. How far were you from or rather to Magallanes when the latter
chased Virgilio Tapales?
A. More or less eight meters.
Q. Was Virgilio Tapales over run (sic) by Magallanes in the chase?
A. I saw that Gregorio Magallanes stabbed Virgilio Tapales.

Q. How many times did you see Magallanes stabbed (sic) Virgilio
Tapales?
A. One time.
Q. And what happen (sic) to Virgilio Tapales?
A. Virgilio Tapales was at that time still running being chased by
Magallanes. There is a fence and at the end of that fence there
was a guava tree. It so happen that this Virgilio Tapales run
towards that tree and this Gregorio Magallanes stabbed and
slashed the neck of Virgilio Tapales at the upper portion of the
heart just above the left side of the face and at that time I had my
children with me so I run to our store to put my children in safe
condition. When I went back to the store I saw my husband
coming from our ricemill and because I was afraid that my
husband would be stabbed because I really saw Gregorio
Magallanes slashed (sic) the neck of Virgilio Tapales I shouted to
my husband that he might be stabbed.
COURT:
Which happened first the stabbing or the slashing?
A. The stabbing your Honor followed by slashing on the left face
and neck. 6
Clearly, whatever act of aggression that was initiated by Tapales against the appellant had
already ceased as demonstrated by the fact that Tapales was running away from the
appellant. The tables were turned when the appellant chased Tapales with the obvious intent
of stabbing him. At this juncture, the appellant had assumed the role of aggressor, thus, his
claim of self-defense cannot obviously prosper. In People v. Tampon 7 we ruled that:
Even granting arguendo that the initial act of aggression came from Entellano
(the victim) as claimed by the appellant, we still cannot sustain his plea of selfdefense. As testified by the appellant, he grappled with Entellano for the knife
and was able to take possession of the same. At this point, it was no longer
necessary for appellant to stab Entellano in order to protect himself. His
subsequent act of stabbing the now unarmed Entellano belies his claim that he
acted in self-preservation and indicates nothing more than a perverse desire to
kill. Thus, this Court held in the case of People v. So, that "[a]fter appellant
successfully wrested the knife from Tuquero, the unlawful aggression has
ceased, the one making the defense has no more right to kill or even wound the
former aggressor. 8
Another factor which militates against the appellant's claim of self-defense is the nature and
number of wounds suffered by Tapales. Dr. Pancracio Garay, the Rural Health Physician who
examined Tapales' dead body, testified that the same sustained seven (7) stab wounds in all
caused by a sharp bladed weapon. 9 And it is an oft-repeated rule that the presence of a large
number of wounds on the part of the victim negates self-defense and instead, indicates a
determined effort to kill the victim. 10 The appellant, however, seeks exception to this rule by
pointing our the superficial nature of majority of the wounds inflicted on Tapales, and the fact
that of the seven (7) wounds, only one (1) was fatal enough to cause his death. We disagree.
According to the testimony of Dr. Garay, Tapales suffered the following injuries:
Q: Will you please read into the records the injuries that you
found?
A: First we have incised wound 10 to 14 cms. 10 x 4 cms. located
at the base of the skull extending from the posterior portion of the

right ear down to the nape.


Q: Will you please point to the court using yourself as the person
examined that location of the wound.
A: Here.
INTERPRETER:
Witness pointing to the base of the skull up to the nape of the
neck. Witness showing it to the court.
Q. What is the second injury you found in the person of Virgilio
Tapales?
A. Second is incised wound about 20 cms. by 7 cms. extending
from the occipietal (sic) area of the head passing the left ear
cutting it into halves.
COURT:
In layman's language how do you call that?
A. Ear.
xxx xxx xxx
Q. What other injuries did you find?
A. 7 cm by 3 cm by 6 cm stabbed (sic) wound at the anterior area
of the neck at the superior border of the manobrium.
xxx xxx xxx
Q. What was the fourth injury you found?
A. Stabbed (sic) wound 5 x 1 x 5 cm. penetrating the torasic (sic)
area hitting the spinal column.
Q. Where is that?
A. It is found at the back.
xxx xxx xxx
Q. What was the next wound?
A. Next is incised wound measuring 14 x 2 cms. about 1 to 2 cms.
just above the left scapula.
xxx xxx xxx
Q. Can you tell the court, considering the location of the wound
where the person who wounded Tapales must have been position
(sic) in relation to Tapales?
A. Must have been at the back also.
xxx xxx xxx
Q. Anymore injury?
A. There is another incised wound about 6 cms. in length at the
left palmar area.
INTERPRETER:
Witness is pointing to the lower portion of his left palm.
xxx xxx xxx

Q. Any other wound?


A. Another is 2 cms. length incised wound at the right palm.
xxx xxx xxx
Q. In other words deceased Virgilio Tapales sustained six wounds?
A. Seven wounds. 11
Of the seven (7) wounds, five (5) were located in the neck area suggesting that the appellant
struck at Tapales with resolve to cause serious if not mortal damage to Tapales' person.
There certainly was no necessity to inflict such wounds upon Tapales especially in view of
the fact that the latter was not even armed. The appellant's theory of self-defense is
therefore overthrown by the hard reality that the alleged aggressor-the deceased in this
case-sustained seven (7) stab wounds in the hands of the appellant while failing to inflict
upon the appellant even a minor injury as token of his alleged belligerence and
aggression. 12
As an alternative defense, the appellant asseverates that the killing of Tapales was not
attended by treachery which would quality it to murder, hence, he should have been
convicted of the crime of homicide only. The appellant bewails the finding of treachery by
the RTC "despite the fact that the initial unlawful aggression was started by the deceased
victim, Virgilio Tapales, at the middle of the road in broad daylight." 13 On the other hand,
the prosecution insists that the killing was treacherous because it was perpetrated while the
defenseless Tapales was running away from the appellant, thereby giving the latter opportunity
to stab Tapales at the back without warning. 14 On this issue we find for the appellant.
"There is treachery when the offender commits any of the crimes against the 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." 15 Thus, for treachery or alevosia to be appreciated as a qualifying
circumstance, the prosecution must establish the concurrence of two (2) conditions: (a) that at
the time of the attack, the victim was not in a position to defend himself; and (b) that the offender
consciously adopted the particular means, method or form of attack employed by him. 16 The
latter condition is immediately negated by the fact that the meeting between the appellant and
Tapales was by chance. We have held that:
. . . where the meeting between the accused and the victim was casual and the
attack was done impulsively, there is no treachery even if the attack was
sudden and unexpected and while the victim was running away with his back
towards the accused. As has been aptly, observed the accused could not have
made preparations for the attack, . . . ; and the means, method and form
thereof could not therefore have been thought of by the accused, because the
attack was impulsively done.17
Treachery cannot also be presumed from the mere suddenness of the attack or from the fact
that the victim was stabbed with his back towards the appellant. In point is the following
pronouncement we made in People v.Escoto:
We can not presume that treachery was present merely from the fact that the
attack was sudden. The suddenness of an attack, does not of itself, suffice to
support a finding of alevosia, even if the purpose was to kill, so long as the
decision was made all of a sudden and the victim's helpless position was
accidental. In fact from the reaction of Robert in running away from the Escoto
brothers the moment he saw them, we can reasonably conclude that he was not
completely unaware that herein appellant and Willie posed a danger to him and
this necessarily put him on guard, with the opportunity to prevent or repel a
possible assault. 18
This is particularly true in the instant case where Tapales initiated the unlawful

agression against the appellant and should therefore have been forewarned of the
possibility of retaliation from him.
Furthermore, although Tapales sustained seven (7) stab wounds, some of them located at his
back, we can not infer from this physical evidence alone that treachery was initially present
in the case at bar. 19 And it is a fundamental rule of long standing that for treachery to be
appreciated, that circumstance must be present at the inception of the attack, and if absent and
the attack is continuous, treachery if present at a subsequent stage is not to be considered. 20
Absent the qualifying circumstance of treachery, we therefore find the appellant guilty only
of the crime of homicide. Moreover, a careful scrutiny of the records of this case reveals that
the trial court had erroneously failed to appreciate in mitigation of the appellant's penalty
the circumstances of voluntary surrender and plea of guilty.
Felix Estillore, a member of the Philippine National Police (PNP), and a witness for the
prosecution had in fact testified that the appellant surrendered to the Police of Inabanga,
Bohol after the stabbing incident. 21 The fact that the appellant chose to surrender to the
police authorities of Inabanga and not Sagbayan where the crime happened is not to be taken
against him. He fled Sagbayan not to hide from the police authorities but to evade retaliation
from the relatives of the deceased. Besides, the law does not require that the perpetrator of an
offense to be entitled to the mitigating circumstance of voluntary surrender, must give himself up
to the authorities in the municipality where the offense was committed. All that the law requires
is for the offender to surrender to the authorities to save the government the trouble and the
expense of looking for him in order to arrest him. 22
Finally, on record is the appellant's willingness to enter a plea of guilty but to the lesser
crime of homicide. It only remains to consider briefly whether the appellant's plea of guilty
in the form it was entered constitutes a voluntary confession of guilt before the court as
defined in paragraph 7 of Article 13 of the Revised Penal Code. 23 In People
v. Yturriaga 24 where the accused who was charged with murder entered a qualified plea of
guilty by claiming that the alleged qualifying circumstance of evident premeditation did not exist,
we said that:
Although the confession was qualified and introduction of evidence became
necessary, the qualification did not deny the defendant's guilt and, what is
more, was subsequently fully justified. It was not the defendant's fault that
aggravating circumstances were erroneously alleged in the information and
mitigating circumstances omitted therefrom. If such qualification could deprive
the accused of the benefit of plea of guilty, then the prosecution could nullify
this mitigating circumstance by counteracting it with unfounded allegations of
aggravating circumstances. 25
WHEREFORE, the judgment appealed from is hereby MODIFIED by convicting the appellant
Gregorio Magallanes of the crime of homicide only with the mitigating circumstances of
voluntary surrender and plea of guilty in his favor, and imposing upon him an indeterminate
sentence of four (4) years, two (2) months and one (1) day of prision correccional as
minimum to ten (10) years of prision mayor as maximum. In all other respects, the judgment
of the court a quo is AFFIRMED.
SO ORDERED.
Narvasa, C.J., Davide, Jr., Melo and Panganiban, JJ., concur.

Republic of the Philippines


SUPREME COURT
Manila
FIRST DIVISION

G.R. No. L-40902 February 18, 1976


THE PEOPLE OF THE PHILIPPINES, petitioner,
vs.
HONORABLE JUDGE AMANTE P. PURISIMA, COURT OF FIRST INSTANCE OF
MANILA, BRANCH VII, and JOSEFA PESIMO, respondents.
Jose L. Gamboa, Jose D. Cajucom & Emilio Llamanzares, City Fiscal's Office, Manila for
petitioner.
MARTIN, J.:
This is a question of concurrent jurisdiction between a court of first instance and a city court
in the trial of a criminal indictment where the penalty provided for by law is imprisonment of
not less than one (1) month nor more than six (6) months or a fine of not less than P200.00
nor more than P500.00, or both, in the discretion of the court.
On May 9, 1975, the City Fiscal of Manila charged private respondent Josefa Pesimo before
the respondent Court of First Instance of Manila for violation of Section 16, Act 3753,
otherwise known as the "Civil Register Law"1 in that:
(O)n or about January 20, 1969, in the City of Manila, Philippines, the said
accused did then and there wilfully, unlawfully, feloniously and knowingly make
false statements in the Certificate of Birth of her son, CARLOS PESIMO
CUCUECO, JR., who was born on said date, which Certificate of Live Birth was
presented for in the Civil Registrar, this City, by then and there making it
appear, as it did appear, that her said son is her legitimate child with one
CARLOS LAYUG CUCUECO and that said accused was married to said Carlos
Layug Cucueco on April 3, 1962, at San Jose, Camarines Sur, the said accused
well knowing the same to be false and untrue as she has never been married to
the former and that Carlos Pesimo Cucueco, Jr., is not their legitimate child.
This criminal act is punishable with imprisonment of not less than one (1) month nor more
than six (6) months or a fine of not less than P200.00 nor more than P500.00, or both, in the
discretion of the court.
On May 26, 1975, respondent court dismissed the case ex mere motu for the reason that the
offense complained of does not come within the perimeter of its jurisdiction. Respondent
court maintains that the prescribed penalty of one (1) month to six (6) months imprisonment
is below the floor limit of its original jurisdiction in criminal cases, since the said jurisdiction
starts only from those offenses where the penalty of imprisonment, in particular, exceeds six
(6) months. Because of this, jurisdiction belongs exclusively to the City Court of Manila
which has the competence to impose the penalty of imprisonment and fine, alternatively or
jointly.
The People moved for a reconsideration of the dismissal order, but the respondent court
denied the motion in its Order of June 10, 1975.
Forthwith, petitioner elevated the matter to Us thru this present petition for review on
certiorari.
We find the petition to be meritorious.
1. Section 44 (f) of the Judiciary Act of 1948, as amended, provides that Courts of First
Instance shall have original jurisdiction "(i)n all criminal cases in which the penalty provided
by law is imprisonment for more than six months, or a fine of more than two hundred pesos."
On the other hand, Section 87 (c) of the same Act confers on municipal courts original
jurisdiction to try "offenses in which the penalty provided by law is imprisonment for not
more than three years, or a fine of not more than three hundred pesos, or both such fine and

imprisonment" except violations of election laws. The same section provides that municipal
courts of provincial capitals and city courts "shall have like jurisdiction as the Court of First
Instance to try parties charged with an offense committed within their respective
jurisdictions, in which the penalty provided by law does not exceed prision correcional or
imprisonment for not more than six years or fine not exceeding six thousand pesos or both."
These quoted statutory provisions plainly import that the exclusive jurisdiction of municipal
courts in criminal cases, which is commonly shared by city courts and municipal courts of
the provincial capitals, covers only those offenses where the penalty prescribed by law
does not exceed six (6) months imprisonment or two hundred pesos fine. The moment the
penalty for the offense exceeds 6-month imprisonment or P200 fine, jurisdiction inevitably
becomes concurrent with the courts of first instance: for municipal courts, up to those
offenses punishable with three (8) years imprisonment or P3,000.00 fine; and for city courts
and municipal courts of provincial capitals, up to those offense with penalty of six (6) years
imprisonment or P6,000.00 fine. As the Court ruled in Esperat v. Avila, 2 "...
the exclusive original jurisdiction of the justice of the peace and municipal courts is confined only
to cases where the prescribed penalty is imprisonment for 6 months or less, or fine of P200.00 or
less, whereas, the exclusive original jurisdiction of the court of first instance covers cases where
the penalty is incarceration for more than three (3) years (or 6 years in the case of city courts
and municipal courts in provincial capitals), or fine for more than P3,000.00 (or P6,000.00 in
proper cases), or both such imprisonment and fine. Between these exclusive jurisdictions lies a
zone where the jurisdiction is concurrent." Section 44 (f) reveals no inconsistency with Section
87 (c). These two sections can stand together and can be given "conjoint, not discordant,
effect. 3 There is no constitutional impediment to the conferment on courts of different levels of
concurrent jurisdiction over the same offense or offenses. 4 The amendment of Section 87 (c) of
Republic Act No. 3828 in 1963, enlarging the original jurisdiction of municipal and city courts
assumingly to lighten the burden of the courts of first instance, was not meant to obliterate the
concurrent criminal jurisdiction of the courts of first instance under Section 44 (f) whenever the
offense is penalized with imprisonment for more than six months or a fine of more than 200
pesos. 5 That notwithstanding, the jurisdiction of the courts of first instance remains the same,
although an area was left where said jurisdiction is to be exercised concurrently with the inferior
courts. 6 With respect to the eleven (11) offenses enumerated in Section 87 (c), 7 the jurisdiction
of the municipal and city courts is co-extensive with that of the courts of first instance. 8Said
Section 87 (c) cannot be construed as conferring exclusive original jurisdiction on judges of
municipal and city courts over these specified cases without nullifying pro tanto Section 44
(f). 9 At most, the exclusive original jurisdiction of the municipal and city courts over the same
obtains only when the imposable penalty does not exceed 6 months imprisonment or P200 fine.
2. The respondent court erred in disclaiming jurisdiction over the case for the expedient
reason that the penalty of imprisonment prescribed by law for the offense charged reaches
only the maximum of six (6) months. It must be observed that imprisonment is not the sole
penalty for the crime charged. There is also the alternative penalty of fine not less than
P200.00 nor more than P500.00. This penalty of fine alone sufficiently brings the offense
charged within the jurisdictional range of the court of first instance, since the jurisdiction of
said court originates "(i)n all criminal cases in which the penalty provided by law is ... a fine
of more than two hundred pesos." More over, the violated law allows the imposition of both
imprisonment and fine, or arresto mayor and fine not exceeding P500.00, a clear source
from which the court of first instance could validly draw authority to take cognizance of the
case. As the Court held in Esperat v. Avila, "(s)ince the crime of grave coercion is punishable
with arresto mayor (imprisonment from on month and one day to six months) and fine not
exceeding P500.00, said offense comes within the area of concurrent jurisdiction of
municipal or city courts and court of first instance. 10 In said case, the jurisdiction becomes
concurrent because the fine exceeds P200. It is a fundamental rule that the jurisdiction of a court
is determined by the amount of fine and imprisonment. 11 If the crime charged is penalized with
imprisonment not exceeding six months or a fine not more than P200.00, the municipal court has
original jurisdiction; otherwise it is the court of first instance. 12
Respondent court further refused jurisdiction because the discretion afforded it under the

law, i.e., to impose the penalty imprisonment, or fine, or both, cannot be exercised by it,
since the Penalty of imprisonment "is basically below its jurisdictional reach." Respondent
court's thesis suffers from a congenital failure to properly seize the issue involved. The issue
here is one of jurisdiction, of a court's legal competence to try a case ab origene. In criminal
prosecutions, it is settled that the jurisdiction of the court is not determined by what may be
meted out to the offender after trial 13 or even by the result of the evidence that would be
presented at the trial, 14 but by the extent of the penalty which the law imposes for the
misdemeanor, crime or violation charged in the complaint. If the facts recited in the
complaint and the punishment provided for by law are sufficient to show that the court in which
the complaint is presented has jurisdiction, that court must assume jurisdiction. 15
3. There is no question that the fine ranging from P200 to P500 prescribed by Section 16 of
Act 3753, Civil Register Law, for the violation charged enters the realm of jurisdiction of the
respondent court of first instance which, inter alia, originates from those offenses punishable
with a fine exceeding P200.00. nonetheless, the jurisdiction is concurrent with the municipal
and city courts, so that, the filing of the information against private respondent with the
respondent Court of First Instance vested authority in the latter court to retain and try the
same. 16 It is an axiom in procedural law that where several courts have concurrent jurisdiction
over the same offense, the court which first acquires. jurisdiction of the prosecution retains it to
the exclusion of the others. 17
ACCORDINGLY, the orders subject matter of this petition are hereby reversed and set aside,
and the case ordered remanded to the court a quo with instructions to proceed with tile trial
on the merits, after arraignment of the accused.
No pronouncement as to costs.
SO ORDERED.
Teehankee (Chairman), Makasiar, Esguerra and Muoz Palma, JJ., concur.

Republic of the Philippines


SUPREME COURT
Manila
EN BANC
G.R. No. L-19568

March 31, 1964

PEOPLE OF THE PHILIPPINES, plaintiff-appellee,


vs.
JOSE L. CHUPECO, defendant-appellant.
Office of the Solicitor General for plaintiff-appellee.
J. Gonzales Orense for defendant-appellant.
REYES, J.B.L., J.:
Appeal from a decision of the Court of First Instance of Manila (in its Crim. Case No. 14786)
to the Court of Appeals, but which the latter court, pursuant to Section 17 of the Judiciary
Act of 1948, as amended, had certified the Supreme Court as a case in which the jurisdiction
of an inferior court is in issue.
The accused-appellant, Jose L. Chupeco, was charged on 2 February 1951 before the Court
of First Instance of Manila under the following information:
That on or about the 28th day of November, 1947, in the City of Manila, Philippines,
the said accused being the owner of, and, having previously on the 24th day of July,
1946, executed a Chattel Mortgage on the following properties:
An open shed under construction to be used sawmill building, containing an

area of 350 sq. m. more or less, located at Sitio Saguing, Dinalupihan, Bataan.

1w ph1.t

SAWMILL MACHINERY & EQUIPMENT:


One "Wheland" Circular sawmill No. 3 complete with carriage and w/60"
inserted circular saw (new);
One Gray Marine Full Diesel Engine 225 H.P. Serial No. 13835, Engine No. C17040;
One RD-14 Tractor with Bulldozer, motor No. 6719028;
One D-6 Caterpilar tractor motor 626-134;
One Clitract International Caterpilar Motor No. 2398-D;
One Air compressor (Aray type);
One complete set of welding instruments (local made);
One Lathe machine F.E. Reed Co. Length 8' swing 8";
One planer for iron and steel F. E. Reed & Co.;
One tracing machine and one vise (local made);
TRANSPORTATION UNITS:
One Chevrolet truck Model 1941 Motor No. KR-214658 1946 Plate No. 9794;
One International Baby truck Model 1938 Motor No. ND-13-6470;
One G.M.C. Army truck 6 x 6 Motor No. 70485739-Plate No. 10239;
One Willy's jeep Motor No. DP 2977-Plate No. 1512.
located at sitio Saguing, Dinalupihan, Bataan in favor of the Agricultural and
Industrial Bank, whose capital, assets, accounts, contracts and choses in action were
subsequently transferred to the herein complainant Rehabilitation Finance
Corporation an institution created and operating pursuant to the provisions of
Republic Act No. 85, with principal office at the City of Manila, Philippines, to secure
a loan of P20,000.00, from said Agricultural and Industrial Bank, did then and there
willfully, unlawfully and feloniously (on the aforesaid date of 28th day of November,
1947, with intent to defraud the said Rehabilitation Finance Corporation, pledge and
incumber, or cause to be pledged and incumbered the same personal properties to
one Mateo B. Pinile without having fully satisfied the mortgage and during the term
thereof and without the consent of the mortgagee bank written on the back of the
mortgage, and, thereafter) knowingly transfer and remove, or cause to be transferred
and removed the said properties to the municipality of Subic, Zambales, also without
the written consent of the mortgagee bank, to the damage and prejudice of the said
Rehabilitation Finance Corporation in the sum of P15,935.80, Philippine currency,
representing the unpaid balance of the aforesaid mortgage.
The accused moved to quash the foregoing information on the ground that more than one
offense is charged and that the court had no jurisdiction. Upon denial of the motion, the
accused was arraigned, and he entered a plea of not guilty. After the case was partly tried,
the defense counsel and the fiscal entered into an agreement to have the information
amended to the effect that the charge be only for removal of properties mortgaged,
eliminating the portion referring to pledging already pledged property. The information,
however, remained un-amended. The accused then filed a motion to dismiss involving the
agreement, but the court denied it, and ordered that the case be tried on the charge "of
having pledged property which had been previously pledged or mortgaged". After trial, the
court found the accused guilty of the said offense, and imposed a penalty of two months and
one day ofarresto mayor.

Not satisfied, the accused interposed an appeal to the Court of Appeals, but the said court
certified the case to the Supreme Court, as formerly stated.
The accused attacks the jurisdiction of the trial court on the strength of the agreement with
the fiscal to discard the charge of repledging or remembering the chattels already
mortgaged to the Agricultural and Industrial Bank thus leaving in force only the accusation
of having transferred the encumbered property from Bataan to Zambales without the
consent of the mortgagee. It is argued that since the place where the chattels were, as well
as the site to which they were moved, are both outside of Manila, the courts of the latter
acquired no jurisdiction to try the case, because the offense was not committed within the
Manila territory.
We find this stand without merit. The original terms of the charge averred (and it is not
disputed) the crime of repledging already encumbered property without the creditor's
consent, and one of the essential ingredients of the offense (the execution of the first
mortgage) having been alleged, to have taken place in Manila, the court of first instance of
that city acquired jurisdiction over the offense under the Rules of Court (People vs. Mission,
48 O.G., 1331; Rule 110, section 9). It is well-established that once vested, the jurisdiction is
not tolled by subsequent amendment or stipulation (McClain vs. Kansas City Bridge Co., 83
SW 2d, 132; Shankle vs. Ingram, 45 S.E. 578; Walton vs. Mardeville Dowling & Co., 5 NW
776), which in this case amounted to no more than an avowal by the prosecution that it
could not establish the other elements of the offense.
Furthermore, the court actually rejected the defense motion to dismiss, and directed that the
cue be tried on the original charge of repledging property already encumbered. The accused
obeyed that directive, and by so doing it renounced the claim that the information had been
so amended as to discard that particular averment.
But the fatal error in the decision appealed from is its disregard of the fact that the evidence
fails to show that the properties mortgaged to the bank are the same one encumbered
afterwards to Mateo Pinili. In fact, the Office of the Solicitor General recommends the
acquittal of the accused on this very ground Brief, pp. 10-11).
There is no question that the herein accused execute in the City of Manila a Chattel
Mortgage, Exhibit "D", on the properties located in Bataan and listed in the in formation in
favor of the Agricultural and Industrial Bank on 24 July 1946, and that the accused pledged
or encumbered in the City of Manila, on 28 November 1947 the properties listed in Exhibit
"E", which are as follows:
One (1) sawmill with gray marine engine 125 H.P. circular law and all appurtenances,
implements and parts, also building, camarin and housing improvements under Tax
No. 1260-V for 1947, assessed at P8,000.00 paid under O.R. No. 59318, dated May 14,
1947, Dinalupihan, Bataan;
One (1) bulldozer H.D.-14, with dozer, Make: Allis-Chalmers, Eng. No. 3251541;
Two (2) cargo trucks (6 x 6), Eng. No. 220314218-Reg. No. 17094 and Eng. No.
220359225-Reg. No. 17093.
However, there is nothing in the evidence to show that the properties listed in Exhibit "D"
and in the information are the same properties listed in Exhibit "E". The descriptions are
materially different.
An assential element common to the two acts punished under Article 319 of the Revised
Penal Code is that the property removed or repledged, as the case may be should be the
same or identical property that was mortgaged or pledged before such removal or
repledging. Therefore, even if the Court of First Instance of Manila had jurisdiction over the
case, the accused cannot be found guilty on the evidence on record of the crime for which he
stands indicted.
FOR THE FOREGOING REASON, the appealed decision is hereby reversed, and another one

entered acquitting the accused Jose L. Chupeco. No pronouncement as to costs.


Bengzon, C.J., Padilla, Baut

G.R. No. L-37933 April 15, 1988


FISCAL CELSO M. GIMENEZ and FEDERICO B. MERCADO, petitioners,
vs.
HON. RAMON E. NAZARENO, Presiding Judge, Court of First Instance of Cebu and
TEODORO DE LA VEGA, JR., respondents.
The Solicitor General for petitioners.
Victor de la Serna for respondents.
GANCAYCO, J.:
Two basic issues are raised for Our resolution in this petition for certiorari and mandamus.
The first is whether or not a court loses jurisdiction over an accused who after being
arraigned, escapes from the custody of the law. The other issue is whether or not under
Section 19, Article IV of the 1973 Constitution, an accused who has been duly tried
in absentia retains his right to present evidence on his own behalf and to confront and crossexamine witnesses who testified against him.
The following facts are not in dispute:
On August 3, 1973, Samson Suan, Alex Potot, Rogelio Mula, Fernando Cargando, Rogelio
Baguio and the herein private respondent Teodoro de la Vega Jr., were charged with the
crime of murder.
On August 22, 1973 all the above-named. accused were arraigned and each of them pleaded
not guilty to the crime charged. Following the arraignment, the respondent judge, Hon.
Ramon E. Nazareno, set the hearing of the case for September 18, 1973 at 1:00 o'clock in
the afternoon. All the acused including private respondent, were duly informed of this.
Before the scheduled date of the first hearing the private respondent escaped from his
detention center and on the said date, failed to appear in court. This prompted the fiscals
handling the case (the petitioners herein) to file a motion with the lower court to proceed
with the hearing of the case against all the accused praying that private respondent de la
Vega, Jr. be tried in absentia invoking the application of Section 19, Article IV of the 1973
Constitution which provides:
SEC. 19. In all criminal prosecution, the accused shall be presumed innocent
until the contrary is proved, and shall enjoy the right to be heard by himself
and counsel, to be informed of the nature and cause of the accusation against
him, to have a speedy, impartial, and public trial, to meet the witnesses face to
face, and to have compulsory process to the attendance of witnesses and the
production of evidence in his behalf. However, after arraignment trial may
proceed notwithstanding the absence of the accused provided that he has been
duly notified and his failure to appear is unjustified. (Emphasis supplied.) *
Pursuant to the above-written provision, the lower court proceeded with the trial of the case
but nevertheless gave the private respondent the opportunity to take the witness stand the
moment he shows up in court. 1
After due trial, or on November 6,1973, the lower court rendered a decision dismissing the
case against the five accused while holding in abeyance the proceedings against the private
respondent. The dispositive portion is as follows:

WHEREFORE, insofar as the accused Samson Suan Alex Potot, Rogelio Mula
Fernando Cargando and Rogelio Baguio are concerned, this case is hereby
dismissed. The City Warden of Lapu-Lapu City is hereby ordered to release
these accused if they are no longer serving sentence of conviction involving
other crimes.
The proceedings in this case against the accused Teodoro de la Vega, Jr. who
has escaped on August 30,1973 shall remain pending, without prejudice on the
part of the said accused to cross-examine the witnesses for the prosecution and
to present his defense whenever the court acquires back the jurisdiction over
his person. 2
On November 16,1973 the petitioners filed a Motion for Reconsideration questioning the
above-quoted dispositive portion on the ground that it will render nugatory the
constitutional provision on "trial in absentia" cited earlier. However, this was denied by the
lower court in an Order dated November 22, 1973.
Hence, this petition.
The respondent court, in its Order denying the Motion for Reconsideration filed by the
herein petitioners, expressed the opinion that under Section 19, Article IV of the 1973
Constitution, the private respondent, who was tried in absentia, did not lose his right to
cross-examine the witnesses for the prosecution and present his evidence. 3 The reasoning of
the said court is that under the same provision, all accused should be presumed
innocent. 4Furthermore the lower court maintains that jurisdiction over private respondent de la
Vega, Jr. was lost when he escaped and that his right to cross-examine and present evidence must
not be denied him once jurisdiction over his person is reacquired. 5
We disagree.
First of all, it is not disputed that the lower court acquired jurisdiction over the person of the
accused-private respondent when he appeared during the arraignment on August 22,1973
and pleaded not guilty to the crime charged. In cases criminal, jurisdiction over the person
of the accused is acquired either by his arrest for voluntary appearance in court. Such
voluntary appearance is accomplished by appearing for arraignment as what accusedprivate respondent did in this case.
But the question is this was that jurisdiction lost when the accused escaped from the
custody of the law and failed to appear during the trial? We answer this question in the
negative. As We have consistently ruled in several earlier cases,6 jurisdiction once acquired
is not lost upon the instance of parties but continues until the case is terminated.
To capsulize the foregoing discussion, suffice it to say that where the accused appears at the
arraignment and pleads not guilty to the crime charged, jurisdiction is acquired by the court
over his person and this continues until the termination of the case, notwithstanding his
escape from the custody of the law.
Going to the second part of Section 19, Article IV of the 1973 Constitution aforecited a
"trial in absentia"may be had when the following requisites are present: (1) that there has
been an arraignment; (2) that the accused has been notified; and (3) that he fails to appear
and his failure to do so is unjustified.
In this case, all the above conditions were attendant calling for a trial in absentia. As the
facts show, the private respondent was arraigned on August 22, 1973 and in the said
arraignment he pleaded not guilty. He was also informed of the scheduled hearings set on
September 18 and 19, 1973 and this is evidenced by his signature on the notice issued by
the lower Court. 7 It was also proved by a certified copy of the Police Blotter 8 that private
respondent escaped from his detention center. No explanation for his failure to appear in court in
any of the scheduled hearings was given. Even the trial court considered his absence unjustified.
The lower court in accordance with the aforestated provisions of the 1973 Constitution,

correctly proceeded with the reception of the evidence of the prosecution and the other
accused in the absence of private respondent, but it erred when it suspended the
proceedings as to the private respondent and rendered a decision as to the other accused
only.
Upon the termination of a trial in absentia, the court has the duty to rule upon the evidence
presented in court. The court need not wait for the time until the accused who who escape
from custody finally decides to appear in court to present his evidence and moss e the
witnesses against him. To allow the delay of proceedings for this purpose is to render
ineffective the constitutional provision on trial in absentia. As it has been aptly explained:
. . . The Constitutional Convention felt the need for such a provision as there
were quite a number of reported instances where the proceedings against a
defendant had to be stayed indefinitely because of his non- appearance. What
the Constitution guarantees him is a fair trial, not continued enjoyment of his
freedom even if his guilt could be proved. With the categorical statement in the
fundamental law that his absence cannot justify a delay provided that he has
been duly notified and his failure to appear is unjustified, such an abuse could
be remedied. That is the way it should be, for both society and the offended
party have a legitimate interest in seeing to it that crime should not go
unpunished.9
The contention of the respondent judge that the right of the accused to be presumed
innocent will be violated if a judgment is rendered as to him is untenable. He is still
presumed innocent. A judgment of conviction must still be based upon the evidence
presented in court. Such evidence must prove him guilty beyond reasonable doubt. Also,
there can be no violation of due process since the accused was given the opportunity to be
heard.
Nor can it be said that an escapee who has been tried in absentia retains his rights to crossexamine and to present evidence on his behalf. By his failure to appear during the trial of
which he had notice, he virtually waived these rights. This Court has consistently held that
the right of the accused to confrontation and cross-examination of witnesses is a personal
right and may be waived. 10 In the same vein, his right to present evidence on his behalf, a
right given to him for his own benefit and protection, may be waived by him.
Finally, at this point, We note that Our pronouncement in this case is buttressed by the
provisions of the 1985 Rules on Criminal Procedure, particularly Section 1 (c) of Rule 115
which clearly reflects the intention of the framers of our Constitution, to wit:
... The absence of the accused without any justifiable cause at the trial on a
particular date of which he had notice shall be considered a waiver of his right
to be present during that trial. When an accused under custody had been
notified of the date of the trail and escapes, he shall be deemed to have waived
his right to be present on said date and on all subsequent trial dates until
custody in regained....
Accordingly, it is Our considered opinion, and We so hold, that an escapee who has been duly
tried in absentiawaives his right to present evidence on his own behalf and to confront and
cross-examine witnesses who testified against him. 11
WHEREFORE, in view of the foregoing, the judgment of the trial court in Criminal Case No.
112-L in so far as it suspends the proceedings against the herein private respondent Teodoro
de la Vega, Jr. is reversed and set aside. The respondent judge is hereby directed to render
judgment upon the innocence or guilt of the herein private respondent Teodoro de la Vega,
Jr. in accordance with the evidence adduced and the applicable law.
No pronouncement as to costs.
SO ORDERED.

Teehankee, C.J., Yap, Fernan, Narvasa, Melencio-Herrera, Gutierrez, Jr., Cruz, Paras,
Feliciano, Padilla, Bidin, Sarmiento, Cortes and Grio- Aquino, JJ., concur.

[G.R. No. 134307. December 21, 1998]

EDUARDO M. COJUANGCO, JR., petitioner vs. SANDIGANBAYAN (FIRST


DIVISION) and PEOPLE OF THE PHILIPPINES, respondents.
DECISION
QUISUMBING, J.:

This petition for prohibition under Section 2 of Rule 65 of the Rules of Court seeks to dismiss
Criminal Case No. 22018 entitled People of the Philippines vs. Eduardo M. Cojuangco, Jr., et al.,
now pending before respondent Sandiganbayan (First Division), and to prohibit said court from further
proceeding with the case. Petitioner invokes his constitutional right to due process, a speedy trial, and
a speedy determination of his cases before all judicial, quasi-judicial and administrative
bodies. Further, he prays for the issuance of a Temporary Restraining Order and/or Writ of Preliminary
Injunction enjoining respondent Sandiganbayan (First Division) from further enforcing and/or
implementing its order dated February 20, 1995 which bans petitioner from leaving the country except
upon prior approval by said court.[1]
Criminal Case No. 22018 is an offshoot of a complaint filed on January 12, 1990, by the Office of
the Solicitor General before the Presidential Commission on Good Government (PCGG), docketed as
I.S. No. 74, against the former Administrator of the Philippine Coconut Authority (PCA) and the
former members of the PCA Governing Board, petitioner among them, for violation of Republic Act
No. 3019, the Anti-Graft and Corrupt Practices Act, as amended. In said complaint, the respondents
were charged for having conspired and confederated together and taking undue advantage of their
public positions and/or using their powers, authority, influence, connections or relationship with the
former President Ferdinand E. Marcos and former First Lady, Imelda Romualdez-Marcos without
authority granted a donation in the amount of Two Million Pesos (P2,000,000.00) to the Philippine
Coconut Producers Federation (COCOFED), a private entity, using PCA special fund, thereby giving
COCOFED unwarranted benefits, advantage and preference through manifest partiality, evident bad
faith and gross inexcusable negligence to the grave (sic) and prejudice of the Filipino people and to the
Republic of the Philippines.[2]
Subsequently, however, this Court ruled that all proceedings in the preliminary investigation
conducted by the PCGG were null and void and the PCGG was directed to transmit the complaints and
records of the case to the Office of the Ombudsman for appropriate action.[3]
In a Resolution dated June 2, 1992, the panel of investigators recommended the filing of an
Information for violation of Section 3(e) of R.A. No. 3019, as amended, against herein petitioner and
five other respondents.
As set out in the Memorandum of the Office of the Special Prosecutor, subsequently, the following
relevant incidents took place:

The above Resolution dated June 2, 1992 was referred by Assistant Ombudsman

Abelardo L. Aportadera, Jr. to the Office of the Special Prosecutor for review and if
warranted, for the preparation of the criminal information.
In a Memorandum dated July 15, 1992 the Office of the Special Prosecutor affirmed the
recommendation as contained in the Resolution dated June 2, 1992.
However, on August 19, 1992 then Ombudsman Conrado M. Vasquez ordered the panel
of investigators to discuss the merits of the prejudicial question posed by respondent
Lobregat.
In a Memorandum dated November 18, 1992, the panel of investigators found that Civil
Case No. 0033 does not pose a prejudicial question which will warrant the suspension of
the filing of the criminal case.
The aforesaid Memorandum was received by Assistant Ombudsman Abelardo L.
Aportadera on December 1, 1992 who submitted his comment thereto on December 16,
1992 to then Ombudsman Vasquez.
On December 23, 1992, then Ombudsman Vasquez ordered the panel of investigators to
go to the specifics and not the general averments on issue of prejudicial question.
In a Memorandum dated December 1, 1993 the panel of investigators recommended that
the motion to suspend proceedings be granted.
On December 3, 1993 then Ombudsman Vasquez referred for comment to the Office of
the Special Prosecutor the Memorandum dated December 1, 1993 of the panel of
investigators on the issue of the existence of prejudicial question.
In a Memorandum dated January 16, 1995, Special Prosecution Officer Daniel B.
Jovacon, Jr. resolved that no prejudicial question exists to warrant the suspension of the
criminal proceedings which recommendation was approved by then Ombudsman
Vasquez on January 26, 1995. The Information, together with the case record of OMB0-90-2806, was forwarded to the Office of the Ombudsman on February 10, 1995.
On February 16, 1995 Criminal Case No. 22018 was filed with the Sandiganbayan and
thereafter raffled to the First Division.
On February 17, 1995, an order for the arrest of petitioner was issued by the respondent
Sandiganbayan.
On February 19, 1995 petitioner filed with respondent court an Opposition to Issuance
of Warrant of Arrest with Motion For Leave To File Motion For Reconsideration of
Ombudsman Resolutions. In his Opposition, petitioner alleged that since the only
documents attached to the Information and submitted to respondent Sandiganbayan were
the Resolution dated June 2, 1992 of the panel of investigators and the Memorandum
dated January 16, 1995 of the Office of the Special Prosecutor, the same were not
adequate for the determination of probable cause for the issuance of a warrant of arrest
by respondent Sandiganbayan. Hence, petitioner claims the respondent Sandiganbayan

should recall the warrant of arrest already issued or desist from issuing a warrant of
arrest. Petitioner, avers, furthermore that the filing of the Information was premature
considering that he was not furnished a copy of the Ombudsmans Resolution in
violation of Section 27 of R.A. No. 6770 and prays that he be given leave to file a
motion for reconsideration of the Ombudsmans Resolution dated June 2, 1992 and the
Office of the Special Prosecutors Memorandum dated January 16, 1995.
On February 22, 1995, petitioner posted bail. On the same day he likewise filed,
through counsel, a Manifestation stating that he was posting bail without prejudice to the
Opposition To Issuance of Warrant of Arrest with Motion For Leave To File a Motion
For Reconsideration of the Ombudsmans Resolution which he filed.
In a Resolution dated February 20, 1995, the respondent Sandiganbayan barred
petitioner from leaving the country except upon approval of the court.
In an Order dated February 22, 1995, the respondent Sandiganbayan gave petitioner and
the other accused twenty (20) days to file their respective motions for reconsideration of
the Ombudsmans Resolution with the Office of the Ombudsman. PCGG was likewise
given a similar period within which to file its comment to the motions for
reconsideration. Furthermore, the respondent Sandiganbayan ordered petitioner to
supplement or amplify his existing motion on the issue of the propriety of the issuance
of an Order of Arrest based merely on the resolution of the Ombudsman in support of
the filing of the Information, among others.
On March 9, 1995, petitioner filed a Memorandum in Amplification of Opposition To
Issuance of Warrant of Arrest.
In a Resolution dated March 14, 1995, petitioner was granted additional fifteen (15)
days or until March 29, 1995 within which to file his motion for reconsideration with the
Office of the Ombudsman.
Petitioner filed his motion for reconsideration on March 28, 1995.
In a Resolution dated April 3, 1995, the respondent Sandiganbayan denied petitioners
motion seeking the recall of the issuance of the warrant for his arrest.
On April 7, 1995, petitioner filed a motion for reconsideration of the Resolution dated
April 3, 1995 of the respondent Sandiganbayan.
On May 25, 1995, petitioner was conditionally arraigned pleading not guilty to the
Information. The arraignment was undertaken solely to accommodate the petitioner in
his request to travel pending the determination of probable cause against him at the
reinvestigation stage. The conditional arraignment is subject to the condition that if
petitioner is exonerated at the preliminary investigation, the arraignment is set aside. On
the other hand, should there be cause against the petitioner either as already charged or a
separate charge which might be related to the case pending, the arraignment will not
serve as basis for the invocation of the right against double jeopardy.

In the meantime, in a Memorandum dated October 22, 1995, Special Prosecution Officer
Victorio U. Tabanguil found no probable cause to warrant the filing against petitioner
and the other accused in Criminal Case No. 22018 and recommended the dismissal of
the case. The recommendation for dismissal was approved by the Honorable
Ombudsman on November 15, 1996.
On December 6, 1996, Special Prosecutor Officer Victorio U. Tabanguil filed a
Manifestation attaching a copy of the Memorandum dated October 22, 1995 with the
respondent Sandiganbayan for its consideration.
On December 13, 1996 petitioner filed an Urgent Motion To Dismiss alleging that with
the reversal of the earlier findings of the Ombudsman of probable cause, there was
therefore nothing on record before the respondent Sandiganbayan which would warrant
the issuance of a warrant of arrest and the assumption of jurisdiction over the instant
case.
On December 23, 1996 the Office of the Solicitor General, in representation of the
PCGG, filed with the Office of the Special Prosecutor a motion for reconsideration of
the Memorandum dated October 22, 1996 recommending the dismissal of the case
against petitioner and the other accused in Criminal Case No. 22018.
In an Order dated January 6, 1997, Special Prosecution Officer Victorio U. Tabanguil
merely noted the motion for reconsideration dated December 23, 1996 of the Office of
the Solicitor General.
On January 13, 1997, petitioner filed a Motion To Strike Out Alternatively, Opposition
To Complainants Motion For Reconsideration dated December 23, 1996 alleging that
the motion was filed out of time.
In an Order dated January 9, 1997, the respondent Sandiganbayan ordered the
prosecution to justify the relationship that may be established with respect to the
COCOFED on one hand and the Philippine Coconut Authority on the other, as a basis
for justifying the position of the prosecution in this case. Furthermore, upon information
provided by Prosecutor Tabanguil that the Office of the Solicitor General has sought a
reconsideration on the desire of the prosecution to withdraw the information, the Office
of the Solicitor General was given fifteen (15) days to submit its comment to the Motion
to Withdraw Information. The petitioner and the other accused were given the same
period to reply to the comment if they so desire. After which the matter will be deemed
submitted for resolution.
On January 17, 1997, the prosecution filed its compliance to the Order dated January 9,
1997. On the other hand, the Office of the Solicitor General filed its comment on
January 24, 1997.
In an Order dated February 4, 1997, the respondent Sandiganbayan ordered the PCGG
lawyers to present themselves before the respondent court and respond to the claim of
the OSG that the exhibits necessary are with the PCGG so that the Republic might

effectively substantiate its position that probable cause exists. Furthermore, it is as


much the function of the court to determine the existence of probable cause and the
propriety of the withdrawal of the Information to be assured that the evidence for the
complainant has been properly presented or the accused is properly protected at
preliminary investigation.
In an Order dated February 17, 1997, the respondent Sandiganbayan, with the agreement
of the parties, gave the Office of the Solicitor General ten (10) days within which to
submit some form of cataloging and explanation of the documents on record to the
prosecution. On the other hand, the prosecution was given fifteen (15) days from receipt
of the submission within which to review the matter once more and to respond thereat.
On June 13, 1997, the PCGG filed its Entry of Appearance dated June 3, 1997.
On June 19, 1997, petitioner filed a Second Motion To Resolve the Urgent Motion To
Dismiss dated December 12, 1996.
On July 3, 1997, petitioner filed a Motion to Strike Out (Re: PCGGs Entry of
Appearance) dated June 30, 1997.
On July 16, 1997, the PCGG filed an Opposition to the Motion To Strike Out (Re:
PCGGs Entry of Appearance).
On July 18, 1997, petitioner filed a Reply to the Opposition to Strike Out.
On July 31, 1997, the PCGG filed a Rejoinder to the Reply of petitioner.
On January 23, 1998, petitioner filed a Third Motion To Resolve the Urgent Motion To
Dismiss dated December 12, 1996.
In an Order dated January 26, 1998, respondent Sandiganbayan duly noted petitioners Motion to
Dismiss. [4]
Hence, the present petition.
On July 22, 1998, the Court issued a resolution requiring respondents to file their respective
comments to the petition.[5]
On August 5, 1998, petitioner filed a motion reiterating his application for temporary restraining
order and/or writ of preliminary injunction with urgent motion for hearing thereon[6] citing the urgency
of lifting the travel restriction on him in view of the various problems involving the investments of San
Miguel Corporation (SMC) abroad which must be immediately attended to by petitioner as duly elected
Chairman and Chief Executive Officer of SMC. Petitioner asserts that quite often, it becomes
necessary for him to attend meetings and conferences abroad where attendance must be confirmed
promptly. Considering that he must first secure the permission of respondent Sandiganbayan before he
can travel abroad and abide by the conditions imposed by said court upon the grant of such permission,
petitioner contends that it becomes impossible for him to immediately attend to the aforecited tasks.
On September 2, 1998, the Court noted the respective comments to the petition filed by the Office
of the Special Prosecutor and the Solicitor General and required petitioner to file a consolidated reply

within ten (10) days from notice.[7]


On September 3, 1998, petitioner filed a Second Motion Reiterating Application for Temporary
Restraining Order and/or Writ of Preliminary Injunction with Urgent Motion for Hearing,[8] arguing
among others that the continued maintenance of the hold-departure order against him has deleterious
consequence not only on him personally but also on San Miguel Corporation, a publicly listed stock
company, of which he is now Chairman and Executive Officer.[9]
On September 7, 1998, the Court resolved to defer action on the aforementioned second motion
reiterating the application for the issuance of a temporary restraining order and/or a writ of preliminary
injunction until the filing of petitioners Consolidated Reply and required the Sandiganbayan to file its
own Comment on the petition in view of the Comment filed by the Office of the Special Prosecutor
divergent from the position taken by respondent Sandiganbayan.[10]
On September 10, 1998, petitioner filed a Consolidated Reply[11] and prayed that his Second
Application for a Temporary Restraining Order and/or Writ of Preliminary Injunction with Urgent
Motion for hearing dated September 2, 1998 be now acted upon.
On September 17, 1998, respondent Sandiganbayan filed a motion for extension of time to file its
comment to the petition. Subsequently, petitioner filed his Third Motion Reiterating Application for
Temporary Restraining Order and/or Writ of Preliminary Injunction with Urgent Motion for
Hearing[12] in view of the urgency of lifting the ban on foreign travel imposed on him by respondent
Sandiganbayan.
After respondent Sandiganbayan filed its comment on October 5, 1998, the Court in its Resolution
dated October 7, 1998, noted the aforesaid comment and resolved to set the case for oral argument on
October 21, 1998.[13]
During the oral argument, the Court suggested that the parties take up in their arguments the
following issues:
(1)

whether the warrant of arrest issued by respondent Sandiganbayan is null


and void, or should now be lifted if initially valid;
(2)
whether petitioners basic rights to due process, speedy trial and speedy
disposition of the case have been violated as to warrant dismissal of Criminal Case No.
22018; and
(3)
whether the ban on foreign travel imposed on petitioner per Order of February 20, 1995
should be vacated to enable petitioner to go abroad without prior permission of, and other restrictions
imposed by, the respondent Sandiganbayan.[14]
After hearing the arguments of the parties, the Court resolved to require them to submit their
respective memoranda on the related issues taken up on the hearing including the merits of the case
within twenty (20) days. The motion of counsel for petitioner that the issue of lifting the ban on
foreign travel imposed on petitioner be resolved first, was held under advisement.[15]
On November 6, 1998, petitioner filed another Motion to Resolve Petitioners Motion for
Issuance of a Temporary Restraining Order or Writ of Preliminary Injunction Enjoining Enforcement

of Respondent Sandiganbayans Order dated February 20, 1995 (Hold Departure Order) with an
alternative prayer to travel abroad within a period of six (6) months.[16]
In its Resolution dated November 9, 1998, the Court noted the aforesaid motion and directed
petitioner that in the meanwhile, he may address his request for permission to travel abroad to the
Sandiganbayan.[17]
On November 12, 1998, petitioner filed a Motion for Reconsideration of the Courts resolution
dated November 9, 1998 and argued that:
x x x

xxx

xxx

(6) While the petitioner may indeed obtain some relief by addressing his prayer for permission to
travel abroad to the Sandiganbayan, to a large extent, this defeats the purpose of the petition because
petitioner has precisely come to the Supreme Court to obtain relief from an oppressive regime of
authorization to travel abroad that the Order of the Sandiganbayan of February 20, 1995 (Annex E,
Petition) has imposed. Significantly, not any of the respondents have opposed petitioners application
for the issuance of temporary restraining order and/or writ of preliminary injunction or for permission
to travel abroad.[18]
On November 20, 1998, petitioner filed a Manifestation[19] in support of his motion for
reconsideration, setting forth the urgency of lifting the ban on foreign travel imposed on him in view of
the need to oversee the critical stages in the international operations of SMC as its Chairman and Chief
Executive Officer.
On November 20, 1998, the Office of the Solicitor General filed a Manifestation indicating that it
is not interposing any objection to petitioners prayer that he be allowed to travel abroad.
With the submission of the parties respective memoranda, the Court now proceeds to resolve the
petition.
As postulated during the oral argument, three main issues confront us in this petition, to wit:
(1)

whether the warrant of arrest issued by respondent Sandiganbayan is null


and void, or should now be lifted if initially valid;
(2)
whether petitioners basic rights to due process, speedy trial and speedy
disposition of the case have been violated as to warrant dismissal of Criminal Case No.
22018; and
(3)
whether the ban on foreign travel imposed on petitioner per Order of February 20, 1995
should be vacated to enable petitioner to go abroad without prior permission of, and other restrictions
imposed by, the respondent Sandiganbayan.[20]
On the first issue, petitioner and the Office of the Special Prosecutor both argue that the warrant of
arrest issued by respondent Sandiganbayan is null and void for lack of sufficient basis upon which it
could have personally determined the existence of probable cause to issue the warrant of arrest
against him. They contend that there was a violation of Section 2, Article III of the Constitution
because the Information in Criminal Case No. 22018 was accompanied only by the Resolution dated
June 2, 1992 of the Panel of Graft Investigators of the Office of the Ombudsman recommending the

filing of the information and the Memorandum dated January 16, 1995 of the Office of the Special
Prosecutor denying the existence of a prejudicial question which will warrant the suspension of the
filing of the criminal case. Their argument is principally anchored on the pronouncements made in the
case of Ho vs. People[21] that reliance on the prosecutors report alone is not sufficient in determining
whether there is probable cause for the issuance of a warrant of arrest. Consequent to the nullity of the
warrant of arrest, petitioner further argues that the Sandiganbayan has not acquired jurisdiction over
him and is without power to exercise the same.
However, the Office of the Special Prosecutor and the Office of the Solicitor General maintain that
any infirmity that may have attended the issuance of the warrant of arrest was cured by petitioners
voluntary submission to the jurisdiction of the respondent Sandiganbayan when petitioner posted bail
and subsequently invoked the jurisdiction of the Sandiganbayan by filing numerous motions wherein
he sought affirmative reliefs.
Now, pertinent to the issue at hand is the second clause of Section 2, Article III of the 1987
Constitution, which provides that:
Sec. 2. x x x no search warrant or warrant of arrest shall issue except upon a probable

cause to be determined personally by the judge after examination under oath or


affirmation of the complainant and the witnesses he may produce, and particularly
describing the place to be searched and the persons or things to be seized. (Emphasis
supplied)
In Ho vs. People,[22] the Court had the opportunity to elucidate on the matter of determining of
probable cause to merit the issuance of a warrant of arrest:
First, x x x the determination of probable cause by the prosecutor is for a purpose

different from that which is to be made by the judge. Whether there is reasonable
ground to believe that the accused is guilty of the offense charged and should be held for
trial is what the prosecutor passes upon. The judge, on the other hand, determines
whether a warrant of arrest should be issued against the accused, i.e., whether there is a
necessity for placing him under immediate custody in order not to frustrate the ends of
justice. Thus, even if both should base their findings on one and the same proceeding or
evidence, there should be no confusion as to their distinct objectives.
Second, since their objectives are different, the judge cannot rely solely on the report of
the prosecutor in finding probable cause to justify the issuance of a warrant of
arrest. Obviously and understandably, the contents of the prosecutors report will
support his own conclusion that there is reason to charge the accused of an offense and
hold him for trial. However, the judge must decide independently. Hence, he must have
supporting evidence, other than the prosecutors bare report, upon which to legally
sustain his own findings on the existence (or nonexistence) of a probable cause to issue
an arrest order. This responsibility of determining personally and independently the
existence or nonexistence of probable cause is lodged in him by no less than the most
basic law of the land. Parenthetically, the prosecutor could ease the burden of the judge
and speed up the litigation process by forwarding to the latter not only the information

and his bare resolution finding probable cause, but also so much of the records and the
evidence on hand as to enable His Honor to make his personal and separate judicial
finding on whether to issue a warrant of arrest.
Lastly, it is not required that the complete or entire records of the case during the preliminary
investigation be submitted to and examined by the judge. We do not intend to unduly burden trial
courts by obliging them to examine the complete records of every case all the time simply for the
purpose of ordering the arrest of an accused. What is required, rather, is that the judge must
have sufficient supporting documents (such as the complaint, affidavits, counter-affidavits, sworn
statements of witnesses or transcripts of stenographic notes, if any) upon which to make his
independent judgment or, at the very least, upon which to verify the findings of the prosecutor as to the
existence of probable cause. The point is: he cannot rely solely and entirely on the prosecutors
recommendation, as Respondent Court did in this case. Although the prosecutor enjoys the legal
presumption of regularity in the performance of his official duties and functions, which in turn gives
his report the presumption of accuracy, the Constitution, we repeat, commands the judge
to personally determine probable cause in the issuance of warrants of arrest. This Court has
consistently held that a judge fails in his bounden duty if he relies merely on the certification or the
report of the investigating officer.[23]
As alleged by petitioner, in the case at bar, the Sandiganbayan had two pieces of documents to
consider when it resolved to issue the warrant of arrest against the accused: (1) the Resolution dated
June 2, 1992 of the Panel of Investigators of the Office of the Ombudsman recommending the filing of
the Information and (2) the Memorandum dated June 16, 1995 of the Office of the Special Prosecutor
denying the existence of a prejudicial question which will warrant the suspension of the criminal
case. The Sandiganbayan had nothing more to support its resolution.
In Roberts vs. Court of Appeals, [24] we struck down as invalid an order for the issuance of a
warrant of arrest which were based only on the information, amended information and Joint
Resolution, without the benefit of the records or evidence supporting the prosecutors finding of
probable cause. And in Ho vs. People,[25] we declared that respondent palpably committed grave
abuse of discretion in ipso facto issuing the challenged warrant of arrest on the sole basis of the
prosecutors findings and recommendation, and without determining on its own the issue of probable
cause based on evidence other than such bare findings and recommendation.[26]
Similarly, we are now constrained to rule that herein respondent court failed to abide by the
constitutional mandate of personally determining the existence of probable cause before issuing a
warrant of arrest. For the two cited documents were the product of somebody elses determination,
insufficient to support a finding of probable cause by the Sandiganbayan. Hence, the warrant of arrest
issued by respondent court on February 17, 1995 against herein petitioner is palpably invalid.
Consequent to the nullity of the warrant of arrest, the crucial issue now posed is whether or not
respondent Sandiganbayan could still exercise jurisdiction over the petitioner and proceed with the trial
of the case.
As already adverted to, the Office of the Special Prosecutor and the Office of the Solicitor General
are in agreement, that whatever infirmity might have attended the issuance of the warrant of arrest
against petitioner, it was cured by petitioners subsequent act of voluntarily submitting to respondent
courts jurisdiction by posting his bail and filing the following pleadings which sought affirmative

relief, to wit: (1) Opposition to Issuance of Warrant of Arrest with Motion for Leave to File Motion for
Reconsideration; (2) Motion for extension of time to file Motion for Reconsideration; (3) seven
Motions to Travel Abroad and two Motions for Extension of time to stay abroad.[27] Hence, they
contend that respondent courts jurisdiction over petitioner has remained in effect.
Petitioner objects to this contention, and asserts that since the warrant of arrest issued by
respondent Sandiganbayan is null and void, it never acquired jurisdiction over the person of the
petitioner; as a consequence, it never acquired jurisdiction to take of the offense charged and to issue
any order adverse to the rights of petitioner, including an Order restricting his right to
travel.[28] According to petitioner, the submission of both the Office of the Special Prosecutor and the
Office of the Solicitor General is not only absurd but also oppressive and offensive to the Bill of Rights
since it would mean that to preserve his right against the issuance of a warrant of arrest without
probable cause determined in accordance with Sec. 2, Article III of the Constitution, petitioner should
have allowed himself to be incarcerated or imprisoned from the time the warrant of arrest was issued
on February 20, 1995 up to the present, or for more than three (3) years now, and continue to be
imprisoned until the Supreme Court decides to declare the arrest void.[29]
On this score, the rule is well-settled that the giving or posting of bail by the accused is tantamount
to submission of his person to the jurisdiction of the court.[30] Thus, it has been held that:
When a defendant in a criminal case is brought before a competent court by virtue of a

warrant of arrest or otherwise, in order to avoid the submission of his body to the
jurisdiction of the court he must raise the question of the courts jurisdiction over his
person at the very earliest opportunity. If he gives bail, demurs to the complaint or files
any dilatory plea or pleads to the merits, he thereby gives the court jurisdiction over his
person. (State ex rel. John Brown vs. Fitzgerald, 51 Minn., 534)
xxx

xxx

xxx

Conceding again that the warrant issued in this case was void for the reason that no probable cause
was found by the court before issuing it, the defendant waived all his rights to object to the same by
appearing and giving bond.[31]
By posting bail, herein petitioner cannot claim exemption from the effect of being subject to the
jurisdiction of respondent court. While petitioner has exerted efforts to continue disputing the validity
of the issuance of the warrant of arrest despite his posting bail, his claim has been negated when he
himself invoked the jurisdiction of respondent court through the filing of various motions that sought
other affirmative reliefs.
As ruled in La Naval Drug vs. CA[32]:
[L]ack of jurisdiction over the person of the defendant may be waived either expressly

or impliedly. When a defendant voluntarily appears, he is deemed to have submitted


himself to the jurisdiction of the court. If he so wishes not to waive this defense, he must
do so seasonably by motion for the purpose of objecting to the jurisdiction of the court;
otherwise, he shall be deemed to have submitted himself to that jurisdiction.
Moreover, [w]here the appearance is by motion for the purpose of objecting to the jurisdiction of

the court over the person, it must be for the sole and separate purpose of objecting to said
jurisdiction. If the appearance is for any other purpose, the defendant is deemed to have submitted
himself to the jurisdiction of the court. Such an appearance gives the court jurisdiction over the
person.[33]
Verily, petitioners participation in the proceedings before the Sandiganbayan was not confined to
his opposition to the issuance of a warrant of arrest but also covered other matters which called for
respondent courts exercise of its jurisdiction. Petitioner may not be heard now to deny said courts
jurisdiction over him. Nor can we ignore the long line of precedents declaring that where the accused
had posted bail, as required, to obtain his provisional liberty, it becomes futile to assail the validity of
the issuance of the warrants of arrest.[34]
As to petitioners contention that he should have just allowed himself to stay in jail pending the
resolution of his opposition to the issuance of the warrant of arrest against him, if only to avoid waiving
his right to question the jurisdiction of respondent court, the Office of the Special Prosecutor has
pointed out that petitioner is not without a remedy. Petitioner could have filed a petition
for certiorari and prohibition with prayer for the issuance of a temporary restraining order, rather than
actively participate in the proceedings before the Sandiganbayan. And as exemplified by the case of
Allado vs. Diokno,[35] this remedy has already proved to be effective.
Against the continued exercise of jurisdiction by respondent Sandiganbayan in Criminal Case No.
22018, petitioner also invokes the Memorandum of the Office of the Special Prosecutor dated October
22, 1995 recommending the dismissal of the case against him due to the absence of probable cause,
which was later on approved by the Ombudsman on November 15, 1996. Citing the case of Torralba
vs. Sandiganbayan,[36] petitioner argues that this Memorandum is an integral part of the preliminary
investigation and should take precedence notwithstanding the fact that the same was made after the
filing of the Information before the Sandiganbayan, for to deny any efficacy to the finding of the Office
of the Special Prosecutor would negate the right of the petitioner to a preliminary investigation.
The well-entrenched rule however, as laid down by the case of Crespo vs. Mogul[37] is that:
x x x once a complaint or information is filed in Court any disposition of the case as its

dismissal or the conviction or acquittal of the accused rests in the sound discretion of the
Court. Although the fiscal retains the direction and control of the prosecution of
criminal cases even while the case is already in Court he cannot impose his opinion on
the trial court. The Court is the best and sole judge on what to do with the case before
it. The determination of the case is within its exclusive jurisdiction and competence. A
motion to dismiss the case filed by the fiscal should be addressed to the Court who has
the option to grant or deny the same. It does not matter if this is done before or after the
arraignment of the accused or that the motion was filed after a reinvestigation or upon
instructions of the Secretary of Justice who reviewed the records of the investigation.
Nevertheless, petitioner claims exception to this rule by making this distinction:
b. The preliminary investigation in Crespo vs. Mogul, supra, was conducted by the Office of the
Provincial Fiscal and, following established procedure with respect to such preliminary investigations,
the preliminary investigation conducted by the fiscal, in the language of Crespo, is terminated upon
the filing of the information in the proper court (at p. 470). On the other hand, the instant case

involves a preliminary investigation conducted by the Office of the Special Prosecutor pursuant to Sec.
11[4](a), and under Sec. 27 of R.A. No. 6770. In preliminary investigations conducted by the Office
of the Special Prosecutor, the respondent has the right to file a motion for reconsideration of any
resolution within five (5) days from receipt of written notice, and pursuant to Sec. 7, Rule II of
Administrative Order No. 7 (Rules of Procedure of the Ombudsman), the respondent has the right to
file a motion for reconsideration within fifteen (15) days from notice of the Resolution of the
Ombudsman. Until the motion for reconsideration is resolved, preliminary investigation is not
terminated notwithstanding filing of information in court. In the instant case, no copy of the Resolution
of the Office of the Special Prosecutor which brought about the filing of the Information, was served on
the petitioner; consequently, when the Information was filed, the preliminary investigation had not yet
been terminated. It follows that the Resolution of the Office of the Special Prosecutor (approved by the
Ombudsman) resolving in petitioners favor the Motion for Reconsideration he had filed, now finding
no probable cause, was an integral part of the preliminary investigation, not subject to review by the
Sandiganbayan (see Torralba vs. Sandiganbayan, 230 SCRA 33 [1994]).[38]
Petitioners reliance on Torralba vs. Sandiganbayan is not, in our view, persuasive. In that case the
petitioners were not given any chance at all to seek reconsideration from the Ombudsmans final
resolution because they were not furnished with a copy of the final resolution of the Ombudsman that
could have enabled them to file a motion for reconsideration. As a result, the Court declared that
petitioners were not only effectively denied the opportunity to file a motion for reconsideration of the
Ombudsmans final resolution but also deprived of their right to a full preliminary investigation
preparatory to the filing of the information against them.[39]
In the case at bar, however, notwithstanding the filing of the Information before the
Sandiganbayan, petitioner was able to file a motion for reconsideration of the Ombudsmans Resolution
with leave of court, and in fact his two motions for extensions to file the same were granted by the
respondent court.[40] This eventually paved the way for the filing of subsequent Memorandum of the
Office of the Special Prosecutor, which was later on approved by the Ombudsman, recommending the
dismissal of the case against him. However, since the Information has already been filed before the
Sandiganbayan, the resolution of the aforesaid recommendation now lies within the jurisdiction and
discretion of respondent court. Parenthetically, in the Torralba case, we did not altogether deprive the
Sandiganbayan of its jurisdiction to proceed with the case, despite the defect in the conduct of the
preliminary investigation, since we declared that:
The incomplete preliminary investigation in this case, however, does not warrant the quashal of the
information, nor should it obliterate the proceedings already had. Neither is the courts jurisdiction nor
validity of an information adversely affected by deficiencies in the preliminary
investigation. Instead, the Sandiganbayan is to hold in abeyance any further proceedings therein and to
remand the case to the Office of the Ombudsman for the completion of the preliminary investigation,
the outcome of which shall then be indorsed to Sandiganbayan for its appropriate
action.[41] (Underscoring supplied)
Clearly, consistent with the rule in Crespo vs. Mogul, after the filing of the information in court,
any disposition of the case as to its dismissal or the conviction or acquittal of the accused rests in the
sound discretion of the Court.[42]
Proceeding now to the second issue, petitioner maintains that the long delay that characterized the
proceedings in Criminal Case No. 22018 before respondent Sandiganbayan has resulted in the violation
of his Constitutional right to a speedy trial and a speedy determination of his case. Thus, petitioner

submits that:
4.09. It has been more than three (3) years since the Information in Criminal Case No. 22018 was
filed with respondent Sandiganbayan. More than one and a half (1/2) years have elapsed since the
Office of the Special Prosecutor filed its Manifestation seeking the dismissal of the case. Based on the
Office of the Special Prosecutors finding of the absence of probable cause, petitioner filed on
December 13, 1996, an Urgent Motion To Dismiss. Three times, on March 24, 1997, June 18, 1997
and January 23, 1998, petitioner has sought resolution of his Urgent Motion To Dismiss. These
notwithstanding, the dismissal of the information as to petitioner remains pending and petitioner
continues to be under criminal indictment -- constrained to suffer without justification in law and the
Constitution, the humiliation, the restraints to liberty and the tormenting anxieties of an accused.[43]
Respondents concede that there has indeed been some delay but deny that it amounted to a
violation of petitioners right of speedy disposition of his case. They cite as justification the
reorganization of the Sandiganbayan on September 23, 1997 wherein it was reconstituted into five (5)
Divisions;[44] (2) the filing of motions by petitioner seeking affirmative reliefs from the
Sandiganbayan; (3) the failure of petitioner himself to invoke his right to speedy resolution of his
pending motions prior to the filing of this petition;[45] (4) the heavy caseload of respondent court.[46]
The 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.[47] It should be
emphasized that the factors that must be taken into account in determining whether this constitutional
rights has been violated are as follows: (1) the length of delay, (2) the reason for such delay and (3) the
assertion or failure to assert such right by the accused, and the prejudice caused by the delay.[48]
As in previous occasions, the Court takes judicial cognizance of the fact that structural
reorganizations[49] and the ever increasing case load of courts have adversely affected the speedy
disposition of the cases pending before them.
In the instant case, however, the Court finds that delay concerns the resolution of petitioners
Urgent Motion to Dismiss, which is an offshoot of the Memorandum of the Office of the Special
Prosecutor recommending the dismissal of the case. Such delay is now far from
excusable. Petitioners Motion to Dismiss has been filed as early as December 13, 1996 and, on three
occasions, petitioner has moved for the urgent resolution of this motion.[50] What further militates
against further delay in resolving this case is the fact that the government prosecutors themselves
concede that this case is of paramount importance, involving as it does the recovery of the ill-gotten
wealth or government funds, unlawfully used or misused by persons close or perceived to be close to
the Marcoses.[51] Respondent court declared in its Order dated February 17, 1997 that the matter
would be deemed submitted for resolution upon compliance with the Office of the Special Prosecutor
as to whether there is indeed no probable cause against petitioner,[52]which compliance was submitted
by the Office of the Special Prosecutor on March 17, 1997.[53] Under these circumstances, the Court
does find the period of more than one year that elapsed for resolving petitioners motion to dismiss
quite long, considering that all pertinent pleadings required by the Sandiganbayan were already
submitted.
Even if petitioner himself might have contributed to said delay, as contended by respondents, in
our view it is best that the case be resolved on the merits by the Sandiganbayan with due regard to
petitioners right to due process, speedy trial and speedy disposition of the case against him and his coaccused.

Finally, with respect to the issue of whether or not the ban on foreign travel should be continued,
as imposed on petitioner by respondent Sandiganbayan per its Order dated February 20, 1995 with
accompanying restrictions in effect, we resolve to rule in the negative. The travel ban should be lifted,
considering all the circumstances now prevailing.
The rule laid down by this Court is that a person facing a criminal indictment and provisionally
released on bail does not have an unrestricted right to travel, the reason being that a persons right to
travel is subject to the usual constraints imposed by the very necessity of safeguarding the system of
justice.[54] But, significantly, the Office of the Solicitor General in its Manifestation dated November
20, 1998 indicated that it is not interposing any objection to petitioners prayer that he be allowed to
travel abroad based on the following considerations:
x x x (1) that it is well within the power of this Court to suspend its own rules, including the second
paragraph, Section 23, Rule 114 of the Rules of Court; (2) that it has been shown in the past that the
petitioner has always returned to the Philippines after the expiration of the period of his allowed travel;
and (3) that petitioner, now Chairman of the Board of San Miguel Corporation, may be constrained to
leave the country for business purposes, more often than he had done in the past, x x x.[55]
It however recommended that the period of travel should be reduced to three (3) months instead of
six (6) months as requested by petitioner and that the latter should be required to post an additional
cash bond equivalent to the present cash bond posted by him.[56]
Moreover, prescinding from our initial declaration that the issuance of warrant of arrest against
petitioner by respondent court is invalid, it now becomes necessary that there be strong and compelling
reasons to justify the continued restriction on petitioners right to travel abroad. Admittedly, all of
petitioners previous requests to travel abroad has been granted and that, as confirmed by the Office of
the Solicitor General, that petitioner has always returned to the Philippines and complied with the
restrictions imposed on him. The necessity of further denying petitioners right to travel abroad, with
attendant restrictions, appears less than clear. The risk of flight is further diminished in view of
petitioners recent reinstatement as Chairman and Chief Executive Officer of San Miguel Corporation,
though he has now more justification to travel so as to oversee the entire operations of that
company. In this regard, it has to be conceded that his assumption of such vital post has come at a time
when the current economic crisis has adversely affected the international operations of many
companies, including San Miguel. The need to travel abroad frequently on the part of petitioner, to
formulate and implement the necessary corporate strategies and decisions, could not be
forestalled. These considerations affecting the petitioners duties to a publicly held company, militate
against imposing further restrictions on petitioners right to travel abroad.
WHEREFORE, the Court hereby resolves to DISMISS the petition insofar as the dismissal of
Criminal Case No. 22018 against the petitioner is concerned. Respondent Sandiganbayan (First
Division) is hereby ordered to proceed with the resolution of the pending motions and incidents in
Criminal Case No. 22018 with utmost dispatch. Meanwhile, the Resolution of the Sandiganbayan
(First Division), dated February 20, 1995, imposing a ban on petitioners travel abroad without its prior
approval pending the resolution of Criminal Case No. 22018 is, for the reasons heretofore advanced,
hereby LIFTED for a period of three (3) months counted from the finality of this decision. Any similar
request during the pendency of said case before the Sandiganbayan shall be addressed to that court.
No pronouncement as to costs.

SO ORDERED.
Davide, Jr., C.J. (Chairman), concur.
Melo, J., No part. Did not take part in the deliberation.
Vitug, J., Please see separate (concurring) opinion.
Panganiban, J., Please see concurring and dissenting opinion.
[G.R.. No. 121017. February 17, 1997]

OLIVIA B. CAMANAG, petitioner, vs. THE HONORABLE JESUS F.


GUERRERO IN HIS OFFICIAL CAPACITY AS CITY PROSECUTOR OF
MANILA, NESTOR GONZALES, IN HIS OFFICIAL CAPACITY AS
ASSISTANT PROSECUTOR OF MANILA, THE HONORABLE MARlNO
DELA CRUZ IN HIS OFFICIAL CAPACITY AS PRESIDING JUDGE OF
BRANCH
22
OF
THE
REGIONAL
TRIAL
COURT
OF
MANILA, respondents.
DECISION
HERMOSISIMA, JR., J.:

This case asks for and includes: (1) a Petition for Declaratory Relief under Rule 64 of the
Revised Rules of Court which seeks the declaration of nullity of Sections 15 and 17 of the
Ombudsman Act (R.A. No. 6770), insofar as it empowers the Ombudsman to conduct
preliminary investigations and to directly undertake criminal prosecutions; (2) a Petition
for Certiorari to declare as null and void, for allegedly having been rendered with grave abuse
of discretion, the Resolution dated June 21, 1995 rendered in I.S. No. 95-D-12930 by
respondent Assistant City Prosecutor Nestor D. Gonzales and approved by respondent City
Prosecutor Jesus F. Guerrero; (3) a Petition for Mandamus to compel respondents City
Prosecutor and Assistant City Prosecutor to conduct a preliminary investigation on the
complaint for Falsification of Public Documents filed against petitioner; and (4) a Petition for
Prohibition to enjoin respondent judge of the City of Manila from further proceeding with the
cases stemming from the information charging petitioner with three (3) counts of falsification
lodged with the trial court and to order the dismissal thereof.
The facts, as summarized in the Comment of the Office of the Solicitor General, are as
follows:

"On August 2, 1993, the Professional Regulations Commission (PRC) issued the Table
of Results of those who failed the May, 1993 Certified Public Accountant (CPA)
Licensure Examinations. On Page 11 thereof, Sequence No. 493, petitioner Olivia B.
Camanag was listed as having failed with a general average of 50.00% (Annex "1").
However, on December 15, 1993, petitioner in accomplishing her Personal Data sheet
(CSC form No. 212) as employee of the Bureau of Internal Revenue (BIR) indicated
under question No. 18 that she passed the May, 1993 Board Examinations with a rating
of 75.42% (Annex "2").

On July 4, 1994, an anonymous letter was sent to PRC Chairman Hermogenes P. Pobre
'claiming that certain BIR employees allegedly passed the CPA Licensure Exams under
anomalous circumstances' (Annex "3").
Still, on July 28, 1994, petitioner claimed to have received what was purportedly a
'Certified True Copy' of her passing rating sheet, allegedly signed by PRC Acting
Assistant Chief Leandro O. Ordenes (Mr. Leandro O. Ordenes is actually the Records
Officer of the PRC) (Pet., Annex "C").
On August 24, 1994, PRC Chairman Pobre wrote Ombudsman Conrado Vasquez that
BIR employees Marilyn Lee, Connie Dimapilis, Eilene Purification, Elenita Villamor,
Lodiminda Crizaldo, petitioner Olivia Camanag and Maria Rosario de los Reyes, did not
actually pass the CPA licensure examinations (Annex "3").
On October 5, 1994, Associate Ombudsman Investigator (AOI) Joaquin S. Bumanlag set
the fact-finding investigation of the matter on October 11, 1994 at 10:00 a.m. He also
issued a Subpoena Duces Tecum to the Chief of the BIR Personnel Division (Annex
"4").
On December 1, 1994, AOI Bumanglag concluded his fact-finding investigation with a
Report finding probable cause against petitioner for violation of Article 171(4) of the
Revised Penal Code. AOI Bumanglag recommended a preliminary investigation (Annex
"5") to be conducted on the case, and at the same time, he executed under oath the
corresponding affidavit-complaint against petitioner (Annex "6").
On December 19, 1994, Ombudsman Investigator (OI) Rainier C. Almazan, acting on
the said affidavit-complaint, directed petitioner to submit her counter-affidavit (Annex
"7").
On January 13, 1995, petitioner submitted her counter-affidavit with annexes alleging
that she passed the CPA licensure examinations with a grade of 75.42% (Annex "8").
On January 31, 1995, PRC Records Section Chief Leandro O. Ordenes, issued a
Certification, stating that petitioner failed in the CPA licensure examinations (Annex
"9").
On February 27, 1995, OI Almazan issued a Resolution, finding '. . . sufficient ground to
engender a well-founded belief that the crimes of falsification of public documents . . .
have been committed . . .' (Petition, Annex "F").
Under a 1st Indorsement of even date, Deputy Ombudsman for the Armed Forces of the
Philippines (AFP) Manuel B. Casaclang deputized respondent City Prosecutor of Manila
Jesus Guerrero to file the corresponding charges against petitioner and to handle the
prosecution of the cases (Annex "10").
On April 11, 1995, the Office of the City Prosecutor of Manila docketed the case as IS
No. 95-D-12930 and herein respondent Nestor Gonzales, Assistant City Prosecutor of
Manila, set it for another round of preliminary investigation on May 5 and 12, 1995

(Annex "11").
While the preliminary investigation was ongoing before the City Prosecutor, petitioner
filed a motion to reset preliminary investigation (Annexes "11-A" and "12"), Motion to
Issue Subpoena and Subpoena Duces Tecum to Leandro Ordenes [OIC, Records
Section] and Ernesto Jaurique [Exec. Director] (Petition, Annex "G"); and a
Comment/Manifestation stating, among others, that 'another round of preliminary
investigation should be conducted by the City Prosecutor.' Why petitioner should
demand another round of preliminary investigation while one was already on-going is
not clear on record.
At any rate, the preliminary investigation conducted by the City Prosecutor yielded
additional evidence of falsification against petitioner, to wit: Ordenes' Certification
(Annex "9"), and the Table of Results-Failed, CPA Licensure Exams (Annex "1"), both
submitted by the PRC showing that petitioner did flunk the CPA Licensure Exam of
May, 1993.
On June 21, 1995, respondent City Prosecutor issued the questioned Resolution, 'x x x
finding sufficient ground to hold petitioner for trial' and ordering the filing of the
Information in court (Pet., Annex "I").
On July 17, 1995, three (3) Informations for falsification of public documents were filed
against petitioner docketed as Criminal Cases No. 95-143922-24. The cases were raffled
off to the sala of respondent Judge Marino M. dela Cruz, Regional Trial Court, Branch
22, Manila (Annex "13-A" - "13-C").
On July 25, 1995, petitioner filed a Motion to Reduce Bail Bond (Annex "14").
But even before respondent judge could act on his motion to reduce bail bond, petitioner
filed the instant petition.
Thereafter, petitioner posted her cash bond with 'Waiver' viz:
"'Pursuant to Letter of Instructions No. 40 dated November 10, 1972, issued by the
President of the Philippines, following annotation is hereby incorporated in the CASH
BOND posted for the account in the above-entitled cases.
The herein accused hereby agreed that in case she jumps bail or fails to appear for
trial/arraignment despite due notice to her counsel, her right to be present is deemed
waived, which failure shall to all intents and purposes authorize the Court to proceed
with the hearing as if she were personally present."[1]
The issues raised in the instant case are the following:
I

"WHETHER OR NOT SECTIONS 15 AND 17 OF REPUBLIC ACT 6770 WHICH


EMPOWERS (SIC) THE OMBUDSMAN TO CONDUCT PRELIMINARY
INVESTIGATIONS OF MATTERS AND/OR REFERRED TO IT IS (SIC) NULL AND

VOID FOR BEING CONTRARY TO AND VIOLATIVE OF THE PROVISIONS OF


THE CONSTITUTION.
II

"WHETHER OR NOT UNDER THE CIRCUMSTANCES OBTAINING IN THE


INSTANT CASE, THE HONORABLE PUBLIC RESPONDENTS CITY
PROSECUTOR AND ASSISTANT CITY PROSECUTOR ARE DUTY BOUND AS
SUCH TO BE DIRECTED TO CONDUCT THE REQUISITE PRELIMINARY
INVESTIGATION OF THE ANONYMOUS COMPLAINT FILED AGAINST
HEREIN PETITIONER.
III

WHETHER OR NOT THE INFORMATIONS FILED BEFORE THE SALA OF THE


HONORABLE RESPONDENT JUDGE WITHOUT THE BENEFIT OF A
PRELIMINARY INVESTIGATION CONDUCTED BY RESPONDENT CITY
PROSECUTOR ARE CHARACTERIZED BY SUCH FATAL DEFECTS AS TO
WARRANT A WRIT OF PROHIBITION TO ENJOIN RESPONDENT JUDGE FROM
TAKING ANY FURTHER ACTION THEREON EXCEPT TO ORDER THE
OUTRIGHT DISMISSAL THEREOF."
I

As to the first issue, petitioner assails as unconstitutional Sections 15 and 17 of the


Ombudsman Act (R.A. No. 6770) insofar as it empowers the Office of the Ombudsman to
conduct preliminary investigation and to directly undertake criminal prosecutions on three
grounds: (1) such grant of powers to the Office of the Ombudsman has no constitutional basis
and runs directly counter to the intent of the framers of the Constitution; (2) it violates the
principle of separation of powers; and (3) it is in direct contravention of Article XI, Section 7 of
the Constitution.
The assailed provisions of the Ombudsman Act read:

"SEC. 15.
Powers, functions and duties. The Office of the Ombudsman shall have
the following powers, functions and duties:
(1) Investigate and prosecute on its own or on complaint by any person, any act or
omission of any public officer or employee, office or agency, when such act or omission
appears to be illegal, unjust, improper or inefficient. It has primary jurisdiction over
cases cognizable by the Sandiganbayan and, in the exercise of this primary jurisdiction,
it may take over, at any stage, from any investigatory agency of Government, the
investigation of such cases;
xxx

xxx

xxx

(3) Direct the officer concerned to take appropriate action against a public officer or
employee at fault or who neglects to perform an act or discharge a duty required by law,

and recommend his removal, suspension, demotion, fine, censure, or prosecution, and
ensure compliance therewith; or enforce its disciplinary authority as provided in Section
21 of this Act; Provided, That the refusal of any officer without just cause to comply
with an order of the Ombudsman to remove, suspend, demote, fine, censure, or
prosecute an officer or employee who is at fault or who neglects to perform an act or
discharge a duty required by law shall be ground for disciplinary action against said
officer."
xxx

xxx

xxx

"SEC. 17.
Immunities. In all hearings, inquiries, and proceedings of the
Ombudsman, including preliminary investigations of offenses, no person subpoenaed to
testify as a witness shall be excused from attending and testifying or from producing
books, papers, correspondence, memoranda and/or other records on the ground that the
testimony or evidence, documentary or otherwise, required of him, may tend to
incriminate him or subject him to prosecution: Provided, That no person shall be
prosecuted criminally for or on account of any matter concerning which he is compelled,
after having claimed the privilege against self-incrimination, to testify and produce
evidence, documentary or otherwise.
Under such terms and conditions as it may determine, taking into account the pertinent
provisions of the Rules of Court, the Ombudsman may grant immunity from criminal
prosecution to any person whose testimony or whose possession and production of
documents or other evidence may be necessary to determine the truth in any hearing,
inquiry or proceedings being conducted by the Ombudsman or under its authority, in the
performance of or in the furtherance of its constitutional functions and statutory
objectives. The immunity granted under this and the immediately preceding paragraph
shall not exempt the witness from criminal prosecution for perjury or false testimony nor
shall he be exempt from demotion or removal from office.
Any refusal to appear or testify pursuant to the foregoing provisions shall be subject to
punishment for contempt and removal of the immunity from criminal prosecution."
The Ombudsman Act, petitioner concedes, clearly empowers the Office of the
Ombudsman to conduct preliminary investigation and to prosecute individuals on matters
and/or complaints referred to it or filed before the said government agency. But, the vesting of
powers to the Office of the Ombudsman to conduct preliminary investigations and to directly
undertake criminal prosecutions, petitioner argues, is totally bereft of any constitutional basis.
In support of this stand, petitioner cites that, under the 1987 Philippine Constitution,
specifically in Section 13, Article XI, entitled "Accountability of Public Officers," the only
powers of the present day Ombudsman are enumerated as follows:

"Section 13. The Office of the Ombudsman shall have the following powers, functions
and duties:
(1) Investigate on its own, or on complaint by any person, any act or omission of any
public official, employee, office or agency, when such act or omission appears to be

illegal, unjust, improper, or inefficient.


(2) Direct, upon complaint or at its own instance, any public official or employee of the
Government, or any subdivision, agency or instrumentality thereof, as well as of any
government-owned or controlled corporation with original charter, to perform and
expedite any act or duty required by law, or to stop, prevent, and correct, any abuse or
impropriety in the performance of duties.
(3) Direct the officer concerned to take appropriate action against a public official or
employee at fault, and recommend his removal, suspension, demotion, fine, censure, or
prosecution, and ensure compliance therewith.
(4) Direct the officer concerned, in any appropriate case, and subject to such limitations
as may be provided by law, to furnish it with copies of documents relating to contracts
or transactions entered into by his office involving the disbursement or use of public
funds or properties, and report any irregularity to the Commission on Audit for
appropriate action.
(5) Request any government agency for assistance and information necessary in the
discharge of its responsibilities, and to examine, if necessary, pertinent records and
documents.
(6) Publicize matters covered by its investigation when circumstances so warrant and
with due prudence.
(7) Determine the causes of inefficiency, red tape, mismanagement, fraud, and
corruption in government and make recommendation for their elimination and the
observance of high standards of ethics and efficiency.
(8) Promulgate its rules of procedure and exercise such other powers or perform such
functions or duties as may be provided by law. (Emphasis supplied).
From the above-quoted provision of the 1987 Philippine Constitution, petitioner claims
that the powers of the Ombudsman are clearly defined or delineated. More particularly,
petitioner alleges that the extent of the power of the Ombudsman, insofar as criminal
prosecutions are concerned, is clearly spelled out in paragraphs (1) and (3) as emphasized.
But while, petitioner alleges, Section 13, paragraph (1) of the aforecited Article XI of the
Constitution duly empowers the Ombudsman to conduct investigations, the power to directly
undertake criminal prosecutions has been clearly withheld by the framers of the Constitution
from the Ombudsman in no uncertain terms under paragraph (3) of the aforecited article,
which merely empowers the Office of the Ombudsman "to direct the officer concerned to take
appropriate action and recommend prosecution". Thus, according to petitioner, while it is clear
that the Office of the Ombudsman has no power to directly undertake criminal prosecutions,
there is a question as to whether the power lodged in it to investigate under paragraph (1) is
tantamount to a grant of power to conduct preliminary investigations.
Petitioner submits that consonant to the withholding of the power to directly undertake
criminal proceedings, the Ombudsman does not possess the power to conduct formal
preliminary investigation proceedings for the simple reason that formal preliminary

investigation proceedings constitute an integral part of the process of criminal prosecutions.


This is so, according to petitioner, inasmuch as the term prosecution is defined by Black's Law
Dictionary as:

"x x x (a) criminal action: a proceeding instituted and carried on by due course of law,
before a competent tribunal, for the purpose of determining the guilt or innocence of a
person charged with crime x x x"[2]
More precisely, petitioner continues, "to prosecute" has been defined as "to begin and to carry
on a legal proceeding,"[3] and "it marks the commencement of a criminal prosecution and
precedes and determines the filing of an information."[4]
Additionally, petitioner asserts that the unqualified grant of prosecutorial powers to the
Ombudsman runs directly against the intent of the framers of the Constitution, particularly, to
lodge prosecutorial powers in other governmental officers, i.e., the public prosecutors. In
further support of this argument, petitioner relies heavily on the records of the proceedings of
the Constitutional Commission of 1986, particularly, on the debates and interpellations of the
Committee on Accountable Officers which drafted Section 13, Article XI of the 1987 Philippine
Constitution.
Indeed, the proceedings so indicate:
"MR.. RODRIGO:
The President:

Madam President.
Commissioner (Francisco A.) Rodrigo is recognized.

MR. RODRIGO: I noticed that the proposed provisions on the Ombudsman retain the
Tanodbayan, and there seems to be an overlapping in the functions of the Tanodbayan
and the Ombudsman. What is the clear-cut dividing line between the functions of the
Ombudsman and the Tanodbayan, so that our people will know when to go to the
Tanodbayan and when to go to the Ombudsman?
MR. MONSOD: Madam President, essentially, the difference lies in one being a
prosecutory arm and the other a champion of the citizen who is not bound by legal
technicalities or legal forms, but I would like to ask Commissioner Nolledo to explain this
in detail.
MR. NOLLEDO: If we go over the provision of P.D. No. 1607, which amended P.D. No.
1487, creating the Office of the Tanodbayan, also called by Mr. Marcos as Ombudsman,
there are two parts in the functions of the Tanodbayan: First, to act as prosecutor of antigraft cases, and to entertain complaints from the public. The second part constitutes the
basic function of the Ombudsman. And if we turn to page 3 of the report of the
Committee, Section 5 provides and I quote:

'The Tanodbayan created pursuant to the mandate of Section 6 of Article XIII of the
Constitution shall continue to function and exercise its powers as now or hereafter
may be provided by law, except those conferred on the office of the Ombudsman
created under this constitution.'
This means that we are removing the second part of the functions of the Tanodbayan and

vesting the same in the office of the Ombudsman; and therefore, the Tanodbayan shall
continue to discharge his functions under the first party merely as prosecutor, like a
fiscal, of anti-graft cases, which are filed with the Anti-Graft Court.
MR. RODRIGO: So, the Ombudsman cannot prosecute?
MR. NOLLEDO: No, he cannot. He can refer the cases that should be prosecuted to the
appropriate official he may be the Tanodbayan or he may be the ordinary fiscal.
MR. RODRIGO: Has the Ombudsman any power to compel the prosecuting arm to
prosecute or can he only recommend?
MR. NOLLEDO: He can direct.
MR. RODRIGO: Can he command?
MR. NOLLEDO: That is equivalent to commanding the fiscal if the fiscal refuses to file the
case. And then in that case, if the fiscal refuses, then there are available remedies. He
may appeal to the Ministry of Justice.
MR. RODRIGO: Can the Ombudsman act on his own?
MR. NOLLEDO: Yes, even without a complaint.
MR. RODRIGO: If the fiscal refuses to file the information, can the Ombudsman file the
information?
MR. NOLLEDO: No. I understand he will appeal to the Minister of Justice and the Ministry of
Justice will correspondingly decide on the appeal. If the Ministry of Justice, for example,
upholds the Ombudsman, there is no question about that. But if the Ministry of Justice
does not uphold him, the Ombudsman perhaps, based on the presidential form of
government, may appeal to the President. And the President, where the Ministry of
Justice is merely his alter ego, may overrule the Minister of Justice . . . .xxx."[5]

In view of the above-quoted records of the proceedings of the Constitutional,


Commission, it is clear, petitioner argues, that the power of the Ombudsman is limited to the
mere issuance of the directives to the appropriate officer, i.e., the Prosecutor, to cause the
filing of the information and the prosecution thereof. This allegedly clearly portrays the intent
of the Constitutional Commission members to withhold prosecutorial powers from the
Ombudsman and to lodge it with other governmental officers.
Anent the second ground, petitioner argues that the unqualified grant of prosecutorial
powers to the Office of the Ombudsman violates the principle of separation of powers
enshrined in the Constitution. This, inasmuch as, according to petitioner, the Office of the
Ombudsman is a constitutional body, and is a part neither of the legislative, executive nor
judiciary branches. As such, petitioner claims, in the absence of an express constitutional
provision to the contrary, it is not empowered to conduct preliminary investigations, as these
pertain exclusively to the executive branch.
Anent the third ground, which petitioner claims as perhaps the strongest argument

against the constitutionality of R.A. No. 6770, petitioners argues that the unqualified grant of
prosecutorial powers on the Office of the Ombudsman is in direct contravention of Article XI,
Section 7 of the 1987 Philippine Constitution. Article XI, Section 7 of the 1987 Philippine
Constitution reads:

"Section 7. The existing Tanodbayan shall hereafter be known as the office of the
Special Prosecutor. It shall continue to function and exercise its power as now or
hereafter may be provided by law, except those conferred on the office of the
Ombudsman created under this Constitution."
In support of this argument, petitioner claims that in the interpretation of this particular
provision and those pertaining to the office of the Ombudsman, Fr. Joaquin Bernas, an
eminent authority on constitutional law and a member of the 1986 Constitutional Commission,
had occasion to write:

"The 1973 Constitution also enjoined the Batasang Pambansa to create an office of the
Ombudsman or Tanodbayan. Again the Batasang Pambansa was anticipated by the
President in P.D. 1630 creating the office then of Tanodbayan. The broad discretion of
the legislative authority to expand or contract the power of the Tanodbayan under the
1973 Constitution was recognized in Inting v. Tanodbayan.
The 1987 Constitution changed much of that. The title Tanodbayan has been retained for
the Ombudsman. He has also been given one over-all deputy and at least one deputy
each for Luzon, Visayas, and Mindanao. He retains the functions of the Tanodbayan of
the 1973 Constitution except the prosecutorial functions.
The Ombudsman and his deputies are appointed by the President from a list of nominees
presented by the judicial and Bar Council and they have rank of Chairman and Member
respectively of the Constitutional Commissions. They serve for a term of seven years.
The prosecutorial functions have been given over to a Special Prosecutor from the
Ombudsman. (The Constitution of the Republic of the Philippines, Bernas, Joaquin, Vol.
II, 1990 p. 408) [emphasis supplied]"[6]
If prosecutorial functions have in fact been retained by the Office of the Special Prosecutor,
petitioner opines, the unqualified grant of power to exercise such prosecutorial functions given
by R.A. No. 6770 to the office of the Ombudsman invariably diminishes the authority and
power lodged in the office of the Special Prosecutor. In this light, petitioner argues, R.A. No.
6770, insofar as it unqualifiedly vests prosecutorial functions to the office of the Ombudsman,
infringes on Section 7, Article XI of the fundamental law, and is hence, unconstitutional.
We are visibly impressed by the ratiocinations of petitioner, but, unfortunately, we are
bound by stare decisis.
I

Anent petitioner's contention that the vesting of prosecutorial powers to the Ombudsman
finds no basis in the 1987 Constitution and that it runs counter to the intent of the framers of

the Constitution to withhold such powers from the Ombudsman, suffice it to state that a
similar contention had already been overruled by this Court in the case of Acop v. Office of
the Ombudsman.[7] In upholding the validity of the grant of prosecutorial powers on the
Ombudsman, notwithstanding the intent of the framers of the 1987 Constitution to withhold
such powers from him, this Court declared, that:

"xxx (w)hile the intention to withhold prosecutorial powers from the Ombudsman was
indeed present, the Commission did not hesitate to recommend that the Legislature
could, through statute, prescribe such other powers, functions and duties to the
Ombudsman. Paragraph 6, Section 12 of the original draft of the proposed Article on
Accountability of Public Officers, which the Committee recommended for incorporation
in the Constitution, reads:
xxx

xxx

xxx

(6)
To exercise such powers and perform such functions or duties as may be
provided by law (2 Record, 264).
As finally approved by the Commission after several amendments, this is now embodied
in paragraph 8, Section 13, Article XI (Accountability of Public Officers) of the
Constitution, which provides:
Section 13.
The Office of the Ombudsman shall have the following powers,
functions, and duties:
xxx

xxx

xxx

Promulgate its rules and procedure and exercise such other functions or duties as may be
provided by law. (emphasis supplied)
Expounding on this power of Congress to prescribe other powers, functions, and duties
to the Ombudsman, we quote Commissioners Colayco and Monsod during interpellation
by Commissioner Rodrigo:
MR. RODRIGO:
Let us go back to the division between the powers of the Tanodbayan and the Ombudsman
which says that:
The Tanodbayan . . . shall continue to function and exercise its powers as provided by law,
except those conferred on the office of the Ombudsman created under this Constitution.
The powers of the Ombudsman are enumerated in Section 12.
MR. COLAYCO:
They are not exclusive.
MR. RODRIGO:

So, these powers can also be exercised by the Tanodbayan?


MR. COLAYCO:
No, I was saying that the powers enumerated here for the Ombudsman are not
exclusive.
MR. RODRIGO:
Precisely, I am coming to that. The last enumerated functions of the Ombudsman is: 'to
exercise such powers or perform such functions or duties as may be provided by
law. 'So, the legislature may vest him with powers taken away from the
Tanodbayan, may it not?
MR. COLAYCO:
Yes.
MR. MONSOD:
Yes.
MR. RODRIGO:
And it is possible that pretty soon the Tanodbayan will be a useless appendage and will lose
all his powers.
MR. COLAYCO:
No. I am afraid the Gentleman has the wrong perception of the system. We are leaving to the
Tanodbayan the continuance of his functions and the exercise of the jurisdiction given to
him pursuant to . . .
MR. RODRIGO:
Law.
MR. COLAYCO:
No. Pursuant first to the Constitution and the law which mandated the creation of the
office.
MR. RODRIGO:
Madam President. Section 5 reads: 'The Tanodbayan shall continue to function and exercise
its powers as provided by law.'
MR. COLAYCO:
That is correct, because it is under P.D. No. 1630.

MR. RODRIGO:
So, if it is provided by law, it can be taken away by law, I suppose.
MR. COLAYCO:
That is correct.
MR. RODRIGO:
And precisely, Section 12(6) says that among the functions that can be performed by the
Ombudsman are 'such functions or duties as may be provided by law.' The sponsors
admitted that the legislature later on might remove some powers from the
Tanodbayan and transfer these to the Ombudsman.
MR. COLAYCO:
Madam President, that is correct.
MR. MONSOD:
Madam President, perhaps it might be helpful if we give the spirit and intendment of the
Committee. What we wanted to avoid is the situation where it deteriorates into a
prosecution arm. We wanted to give the idea of the Ombudsman a chance, with prestige
and persuasive powers, and also a chance to really function as a champion of the
citizen.
However, we do not want to foreclose the possibility that in the future, The Assembly,
as it may see fit, may have to give additional powers to the Ombudsman; we want
to give the concept of a pure Ombudsman a chance under the Constitution.
MR. RODRIGO:
Madam President, what I am worried about is if we create a constitutional body which has
neither punitive nor prosecutory powers but only persuasive powers, we might be raising
the hopes of our people too much and then disappoint them.
MR. MONSOD:
I agree with the Commissioner.
MR. RODRIGO:
Anyway, since we state that the powers of the Ombudsman can later on be implemented by
the legislature, why not leave this to the legislature?
MR. MONSOD:
Yes, because we want to avoid what happened in 1973. I read the committee report which
recommended the approval of the 27 resolutions for the creation of the office of the
Ombudsman, but notwithstanding the explicit purpose enunciated in that report, the

implementing law the last one, P.D. No. 1630 did not follow the main thrust; instead
it created the Tanodbayan, (2 record, 270-271. ) (Emphasis supplied)
xxx
MR. MONSOD:

xxx

xxx

(reacting to statements of Commissioner Blas Ople):

May we just state that perhaps the honorable Commissioner has looked at it in too much of
an absolutist position, The Ombudsman is seen as a civil advocate or a champion of the
citizens against the bureaucracy, not against the President. On one hand, we are told he
has no teeth and he lacks other things. On the other hand, there is the interpretation that
he is a competitor to the President, as if he is being brought up to the same level as the
President.
With respect to the argument that he is a toothless animal, we would like to say that we are
promoting the concept in its form at the present, but we are also saying that he can
exercise such powers and functions as may be provided by law in accordance
with the direction of the thinking of Commissioner Rodrigo. We did not think that
at this time we should prescribe this, but we leave it up to Congress at some
future time if it feels that it may need to designate what powers the Ombudsman
need in order that he be more effective. This is not foreclosed.
So, his is a reversible disability, unlike that of a eunuch; it is not an irreversible disability
(Emphasis supplied)."[8]

The inevitable conclusion is that the Ombudsman, under the 1987 Constitution,
particularly under paragraph 8, Section 13, Article XI,[9] may be validly empowered with
prosecutorial functions by the legislature, and this the latter did when it passed R.A. No. 6670,
which gave the Ombudsman, among others, the power to investigate and prosecute
individuals on matters and/or complaints referred or filed before it.

II

Turning now to the second ground, petitioner contends that the Office of the Ombudsman,
being a constitutional body, cannot exercise executive functions, such as conducting
preliminary investigation in criminal cases. The contention is devoid of merit. As conceded by
the petitioner, the Office of the Ombudsman is a distinct constitutional body whose duties and
functions are provided for by the Constitution itself. Considering that the power of the
Ombudsman to investigate and prosecute criminal cases emanates as it does from the
Constitution itself, particularly, under paragraph 8, Section 13, Article XI as above-quoted,
which empowers the Ombudsman to "exercise such other powers or perform such other
functions or duties" as Congress may prescribe through legislation, it cannot be logically
argued that such power or the exercise thereof is unconstitutional or violative of the principle
of separation of powers enshrined in the Constitution.
Equally devoid of merit is the contention of petitioner that R.A. No. 6770, insofar as it
unqualifiedly vests prosecutorial functions on the Ombudsman, infringes on Section 7, Article
XI of the Constitution, in that it invariably diminishes the authority and power lodged in the
Office of the Special Prosecutor. This ground relied upon by petitioner, like the first ground,
has also been extensively dealt with and answered in, the aforecited case of Acop v. Office of

the Ombudsman.[10] Addressing the contention raised by petitioners that the Office of the
Special Prosecutor is not subordinate to the Ombudsman and is, in fact, separate and distinct
from the Ombudsman, such that Congress may not, under the present Constitution, validly
place the Office of the Special Prosecutor under the Office of the Ombudsman, this court has
upheld not only the power of Congress to so place the Office of the Special Prosecutor under
the Ombudsman, but also the power of the Congress to remove some of the powers granted
to the then Tanodbayan, now Office of the Special Prosecutor, under P.D. 1630, and transfer
them to the Ombudsman. Thus, this Court said:

"xxx Section 7 of Article XI expressly provides that the then existing Tanodbayan, to be
henceforth known as the Office of the Special Prosecutor, 'shall continue to function and
exercise its powers as now or hereafter may be provided by law, except those conferred
on the Office of the Ombudsman created under this Constitution.' The underscored
phrase evidently refers to the Tanodbayan's powers under P.D. No. 1630 or subsequent
amendatory legislation. It follows then that Congress may remove any of the
Tanodbayan's/Special Prosecutor's powers under P.D. No. 1630 or grant it other powers,
except those powers conferred by the Constitution on the Office of the Ombudsman."[11]
Continuing, this Court further said:

"Pursuing the present line of reasoning, when one considers that by express mandate of
paragraph 8, Section 13, Article XI of the Constitution, the Ombudsman may 'exercise
such other powers or perform functions or duties as may be provided by law,' it is
indubitable then that Congress has the power to place the Office of the Special
Prosecutor under the Office of the Ombudsman. In the same vein, Congress may remove
some of the powers granted to the Tanodbayan by P.D. No. 1630 and transfer them to
the Ombudsman; or grant the Office of the Special Prosecutor such other powers and
functions and duties as Congress may deem fit and wise. This Congress did through the
passage of R.A. No. 6770" (Emphasis supplied).[12]
III

The other question raised herein pertains to whether or not under the circumstances
obtaining in the instant case, public respondents City Prosecutor and Assistant City
Prosecutor are duty bound to conduct another preliminary investigation of the anonymous
complaint filed against herein petitioner. Substantially, petitioner alleges that, inasmuch as the
refusal by respondents City Prosecutor and Assistant City Prosecutor to conduct a preliminary
investigation was predicated on the assumption that R.A. No. 6770 duly empowers the Office
of the Ombudsman to conduct a preliminary investigation, which petitioner asserts is
unconstitutional, said respondents are compellable by mandamus to conduct their own
preliminary investigation, and their refusal to a preliminary investigation of the charges against
petitioner is tantamount to a denial of due process. Additionally, petitioner alleges that the
conduct of a preliminary investigation is mandated further by the inherent weakness in
complainant's case
These contentions of petitioner are devoid of merit.

Firstly, as have been extensively discussed above, petitioner's attack on the validity or
constitutionality of R.A. No. 6770 is without merit. Thus, there is no more question on the
validity or constitutionality of the power of the Ombudsman to conduct the preliminary
investigation of the charges against respondent. It is not pretended further by petitioner that
the Ombudsman did not actually conduct a preliminary investigation of the charges against
her, although petitioner alleged certain defects in the conduct of the preliminary investigation.
In the second place, as correctly observed by the Office of the Solicitor General in its
Comment, there is sufficient showing that another round of preliminary investigation, apart
from the one conducted by the Office of the Ombudsman, was actually conducted by the
Office of the City Prosecutor of Manila in the cases a quo. Thus, on record are petitioner's
various Motions filed before the City Prosecutor to reset preliminary investigation[13] and to
subpoena a certain witness.[14] Petitioner had likewise filed her comment on the cases
against her then pending with the City Prosecutor.[15] Complainant PRC also submitted
evidence against petitioner in the same proceedings. Finally, a memo of preliminary
investigation conducted by the City Prosecutor was attached to the Informations eventually
filed against petitioner before the Ombudsman.[16] These pieces of evidence clearly indicate
that a second round of preliminary investigation was conducted by the City Prosecutor.
There is no basis, therefore, to petitioner's allegations, and petitioner cannot validly claim,
that she had been denied due process either by the Office of the Ombudsman or by the City
Prosecutor.
Neither is the alleged inherent weakness of complainant' s case, a ground to compel the
City Prosecutor to conduct another preliminary investigation, apart from the one already
conducted and the one conducted earlier by the Ombudsman. On this score, suffice it to state
that this Court has adopted a policy of non-interference in the conduct of preliminary
investigations, and leaves to the investigating prosecutor sufficient latitude of discretion in the
exercise of determination of what constitute sufficient evidence as will establish "probable
cause" for filing of information against a supposed offender. In Tabujara v. Office of the
Special Prosecutor,[17] it was ruled that:

"Courts cannot interfere with the discretion of the (fiscal) Ombudsman to determine the
specificity and adequacy of the averments of the offense charged. He may xxx proceed
with the investigation of the complaint if it is, in his view, in due and proper form.
xxx

xxx

xxx

"The Ombudsman x x x is the proper adjudicator of the question as to the existence of a


case warranting the filing of information in court."[18]
As this Court held in the case of Cruz, Jr. v. People,[19] "(t)he rule is based not only upon
the investigatory and prosecutory powers granted by the Constitution to the Office of the
Ombudsman but upon practicality as well. Otherwise, the functions of the courts will be
grievously hampered by innumerable petitions assailing the dismissal of investigatory
proceedings conducted by the Office of the Ombudsman with regard to complaints filed
before it, in much the same way that the courts would be extremely swamped if they could be
compelled to review the exercise of discretion on the part of the prosecuting attorneys each
time they decide to file an information in court or dismiss a complaint by a private

complainant."
IV

With respect to the issue as to whether or not the Informations filed before the sala of
respondent judge, allegedly without the benefit of a preliminary investigation conducted by
respondent City Prosecutor, are characterized by such fatal defects that would warrant a writ
of prohibition to enjoin respondent judge from taking any further action thereon except to
order the case's outright dismissal, suffice it to state that the pronouncements of this court
aforesaid, for obvious reasons, no longer need a discussion as to the merit or the lack
thereof. Besides, petitioner's prayer for injunction to restrain the criminal action against her is
not legally permissible:

"xxx an injunction will not generally lie to restrain a criminal action (Paderanga v.
Drilon, 196 SCRA 86 [1991]; Brocka v. Enriel, 192 SCRA 183 [1990]; Crespo v. Mogul,
151 SCRA 462 [1987]). In the Brocka case, we laid the following exceptions to the rule
(1) when the injunction is necessary to afford adequate protection to the constitutional
rights of the accused; (2) when it is necessary for the orderly administration of justice or
to avoid oppression or multiplicity of actions; (3) when there is a prejudicial question
which is subjudice; (4) when the acts of the officer are without or in excess of authority;
(5) where the prosecution is under an invalid law, ordinance or regulation; (6) when
double jeopardy is clearly apparent; (7) where the Court has no jurisdiction over the
offense; (8) where it is a case of persecution rather than prosecution; (9) where the
charges are manifestly false and motivated by the lust for vengeance; and (10) when
there is clearly no prima facie case against the accused and a motion to quash on that
ground has been denied."[20]
Petitioner has not shown that her case falls within any of the recognized exceptions.
Perforce, her prayer for injunction to restrain the criminal actions against her must be denied.
WHEREFORE, for lack of merit, the instant Petition is DENIED.
SO ORDERED.
Padilla, (Chairman), Bellosillo, Vitug, and Kapunan, JJ., concur.

Republic of the
Supreme Court
Manila
FIRST DIVISION
METROPOLITAN BANK and
TRUST COMPANY,

G.R. No. 164538

Petitioner,
Present:
- versus -

CORONA, C. J., Chairperson,


LEONARDO-DE CASTRO,
BERSAMIN,*
DEL CASTILLO, and
PEREZ, JJ.

ROGELIO REYNADO and


JOSE C. ADRANDEA,**
Promulgated:
Respondents.
August 9, 2010
x------------------------------------------------------------------x

DECISION
DEL CASTILLO, J.:
It is a hornbook doctrine in our criminal law that the criminal liability for estafa is not affected
by a compromise, for it is a public offense which must be prosecuted and punished by the
government on its own motion, even though complete reparation [has] been made of the
damage suffered by the private offended party. Since a criminal offense like estafa is
committed against the State, the private offended party may not waive or extinguish the
criminal liability that the law imposes for the commission of the crime.[1]
This Petition for Review on Certiorari under Rule 45 of the Rules of Court seeks the reversal
of the Court of Appeals (CAs) Decision[2] dated October 21, 2002 in CA-G.R. SP No. 58548
and its further Resolution[3] dated July 12, 2004 denying petitioners Motion for
Reconsideration.[4]
Factual Antecedents
On January 31, 1997, petitioner Metropolitan Bank and Trust Company charged
respondents before the Office of the City Prosecutor of Manila with the crime of estafa under
Article 315, paragraph 1(b) of the Revised Penal Code. In the affidavit[5] of petitioners audit
officer, Antonio Ivan S. Aguirre, it was alleged that the special audit conducted on the cash and
lending operations of its Port Area branch uncovered anomalous/fraudulent transactions
perpetrated by respondents in connivance with client Universal Converter Philippines, Inc.
(Universal); that respondents were the only voting members of the branchs credit committee
authorized to extend credit accommodation to clients up to P200,000.00; that through the socalled Bills Purchase Transaction, Universal, which has a paid-up capital of only P125,000.00

and actual maintaining balance of P5,000.00, was able to make withdrawals


totalingP81,652,000.00[6] against uncleared regional checks deposited in its account at
petitioners Port Area branch; that, consequently, Universal was able to utilize petitioners
funds even before the seven-day clearing period for regional checks expired; that Universals
withdrawals against uncleared regional check deposits were without prior approval of
petitioners head office; that the uncleared checks were later dishonored by the drawee bank for
the reason Account Closed; and, that respondents acted with fraud, deceit, and abuse of
confidence.
In their defense, respondents denied responsibility in the anomalous transactions with
Universal and claimed that they only intended to help the Port Area branch solicit and increase
its deposit accounts and daily transactions.
Meanwhile, on February 26, 1997, petitioner and Universal entered into a Debt
Settlement Agreement[7] whereby the latter acknowledged its indebtedness to the former in the
total amount of P50,990,976.27[8] as of February 4, 1997 and undertook to pay the same in bimonthly amortizations in the sum of P300,000.00 starting January 15, 1997, covered by
postdated checks, plus balloon payment of the remaining principal balance and interest and
other charges, if any, on December 31, 2001.[9]
Findings of the Prosecutor
Following the requisite preliminary investigation, Assistant City Prosecutor Winnie M.
Edad (Prosecutor Edad) in her Resolution[10] dated July 10, 1997 found petitioners evidence
insufficient to hold respondents liable for estafa. According to Prosecutor Edad:
The execution of the Debt Settlement Agreement puts complainant bank
in estoppel to argue that the liability is criminal. Since the agreement was made
even before the filing of this case, the relations between the parties [have]
change[d], novation has set in and prevented the incipience of any criminal
liability on the part of respondents.[11]
Thus, Prosecutor Edad recommended the dismissal of the case:
WHEREFORE, for insufficiency of evidence, it is respectfully
recommended that the case be dismissed.[12]
On December 9, 1997, petitioner appealed the Resolution of Prosecutor Edad to the
Department of Justice (DOJ) by means of a Petition for Review.[13]
Ruling of the Department of Justice
On June 22, 1998, the DOJ dismissed the petition ratiocinating that:
It is evident that your client based on the same transaction chose to file

estafa only against its employees and treat with kid gloves its big time client
Universal who was the one who benefited from this transaction and instead,
agreed that it should be paid on installment basis.
To allow your client to make the choice is to make an unwarranted
classification under the law which will result in grave injustice against herein
respondents. Thus, if your client agreed that no estafa was committed in this
transaction with Universal who was the principal player and beneficiary of this
transaction[,] more so with herein respondents whose liabilities are based only on
conspiracy with Universal.
Equivocally, there is no estafa in the instant case as it was not clearly
shown how respondents misappropriated the P53,873,500.00 which Universal
owed your client after its checks deposited with Metrobank were dishonored.
Moreover, fraud is not present considering that the Executive Committee and the
Credit Committee of Metrobank were duly notified of these transactions which
they approved. Further, no damage was caused to your client as it agreed [to] the
settlement [with] Universal.[14]
A Motion for Reconsideration[15] was filed by petitioner, but the same was denied on March 1,
2000 by then Acting Secretary of Justice Artemio G. Tuquero.[16]
Aggrieved, petitioner went to the CA by filing a Petition for Certiorari & Mandamus.[17]
Ruling of the Court of Appeals
By Decision[18] of October 21, 2002, the CA affirmed the twin resolutions of the
Secretary of Justice. Citing jurisprudence[19] wherein we ruled that while novation does not
extinguish criminal liability, it may prevent the rise of such liability as long as it occurs prior to
the filing of the criminal information in court.[20] Hence, according to the CA, [j]ust as
Universal cannot be held responsible under the bills purchase transactions on account of
novation, private respondents, who acted in complicity with the former, cannot be made liable
[for] the same transactions.[21] The CA added that [s]ince the dismissal of the complaint is
founded on legal ground, public respondents may not be compelled by mandamus to file an
information in court.[22]
Incidentally, the CA totally ignored the Comment[23] of the Office of the Solicitor
General (OSG) where the latter, despite being the statutory counsel of public respondent DOJ,
agreed with petitioner that the DOJ erred in dismissing the complaint. It alleged that where
novation does not extinguish criminal liability for estafa neither does restitution negate the
offense already committed.[24]
Additionally, the OSG, in sharing the views of petitioner contended that failure to
implead other responsible individuals in the complaint does not warrant its dismissal,

suggesting that the proper remedy is to cause their inclusion in the information.[25] This
notwithstanding, however, the CA disposed of the petition as follows:
WHEREFORE, the petition is DENIED due course and, accordingly,
DISMISSED. Consequently, the resolutions dated June 22, 1998 and March 1,
2000 of the Secretary of Justice are AFFIRMED.
SO ORDERED.[26]
Hence, this instant petition before the Court.
On November 8, 2004, we required[27] respondents to file Comment, not a motion to
dismiss, on the petition within 10 days from notice. The OSG filed a Manifestation and
Motion in Lieu of Comment[28] while respondent Jose C. Adraneda (Adraneda) submitted his
Comment[29] on the petition. The Secretary of Justice failed to file the required comment on
the OSGs Manifestation and Motion in Lieu of Comment and respondent Rogelio Reynado
(Reynado) did not submit any. For which reason, we issued a show cause order[30] on July 19,
2006. Their persistent non-compliance with our directives constrained us to resolve that they
had waived the filing of comment and to impose a fine of P1,000.00 on Reynado. Upon
submission of the required memorandum by petitioner and Adraneda, the instant petition was
submitted for resolution.
Issues
Petitioner presented the following main arguments for our consideration:
1.
Novation and undertaking to pay the amount embezzled do not extinguish criminal
liability.
2.
It is the duty of the public prosecutor to implead all persons who appear criminally
liable for the offense charged.
Petitioner persistently insists that the execution of the Debt Settlement Agreement with
Universal did not absolve private respondents from criminal liability for estafa. Petitioner
submits that the settlement affects only the civil obligation of Universal but did not extinguish
the criminal liability of the respondents. Petitioner thus faults the CA in sustaining the DOJ
which in turn affirmed the finding of Prosecutor Edad for committing apparent error in the
appreciation and the application of the law on novation. By petitioners claim,
citingMetropolitan Bank and Trust v. Tonda,[31] the negotiations pertain [to] and affect only
the civil aspect of the case but [do] not preclude prosecution for the offense already
committed.[32]
In his Comment, Adraneda denies being a privy to the anomalous transactions and passes on

the sole responsibility to his co-respondent Reynado as the latter was able to conceal the
pertinent documents being the head of petitioners Port Area branch. Nonetheless, he contends
that because of the Debt Settlement Agreement, they cannot be held liable for estafa.
The OSG, for its part, instead of contesting the arguments of petitioner, even prayed before the
CA to give due course to the petition contending that DOJ indeed erred in dismissing the
complaint for estafa.
Given the facts of the case, the basic issue presented before this Court is whether the
execution of the Debt Settlement Agreement precluded petitioner from holding respondents
liable to stand trial for estafa under Art. 315 (1)(b) of the Revised Penal Code.[33]
Our Ruling
We find the petition highly meritorious.
Novation not a mode of extinguishing
criminal liability for estafa; Criminal liability for
estafa not affected by compromise or novation of
contract.
Initially, it is best to emphasize that novation is not one of the grounds prescribed by the
Revised Penal Code for the extinguishment of criminal liability.[34]
In a catena of cases, it was ruled that criminal liability for estafa is not affected by a
compromise or novation of contract. In Firaza v. People[35] and Recuerdo v. People,[36] this
Court ruled that in a crime of estafa, reimbursement or belated payment to the offended party
of the money swindled by the accused does not extinguish the criminal liability of the
latter. We also held in People v. Moreno[37] and in People v. Ladera[38] that criminal liability
for estafa is not affected by compromise or novation of contract, for it is a public offense which
must be prosecuted and punished by the Government on its own motion even though complete
reparation should have been made of the damage suffered by the offended party. Similarly in
the case of Metropolitan Bank and Trust Company v. Tonda[39] cited by petitioner, we held
that in a crime of estafa, reimbursement of or compromise as to the amount misappropriated,
after the commission of the crime, affects only the civil liability of the offender, and not his
criminal liability.
Thus, the doctrine that evolved from the aforecited cases is that a compromise or
settlement entered into after the commission of the crime does not extinguish accuseds liability
for estafa. Neither will the same bar the prosecution of said crime. Accordingly, in such a

situation, as in this case, the complaint for estafa against respondents should not be dismissed
just because petitioner entered into a Debt Settlement Agreement with Universal. Even the
OSG arrived at the same conclusion:
Contrary to the conclusion of public respondent, the Debt Settlement
Agreement entered into between petitioner and Universal Converter Philippines
extinguishes merely the civil aspect of the latters liability as a corporate entity
but not the criminal liability of the persons who actually committed the crime of
estafa against petitioner Metrobank. x x x[40]
Unfortunately for petitioner, the above observation of the OSG was wittingly glossed over in
the body of the assailed Decision of the CA.
Execution of the Debt Settlement Agreement did not
prevent the incipience of criminal liability.
Even if the instant case is viewed from the standpoint of the law on contracts, the disposition
absolving the respondents from criminal liability because of novation is still erroneous.
Under Article 1311 of the Civil Code, contracts take effect only between the parties, their
assigns and heirs, except in case where the rights and obligations arising from the contract are
not transmissible by their nature, or by stipulation or by provision of law. The civil law
principle of relativity of contracts provides that contracts can only bind the parties who
entered into it, and it cannot favor or prejudice a third person, even if he is aware of such
contract and has acted with knowledge thereof.[41]
In the case at bar, it is beyond cavil that respondents are not parties to the agreement. The
intention of the parties thereto not to include them is evident either in the onerous or in the
beneficent provisions of said agreement. They are not assigns or heirs of either of the
parties. Not being parties to the agreement, respondents cannot take refuge therefrom to bar
their anticipated trial for the crime they committed. It may do well for respondents to
remember that the criminal action commenced by petitioner had its genesis from the alleged
fraud, unfaithfulness, and abuse of confidence perpetrated by them in relation to their positions
as responsible bank officers. It did not arise from a contractual dispute or matters strictly
between petitioner and Universal. This being so, respondents cannot rely on subject settlement
agreement to preclude prosecution of the offense already committed to the end of extinguishing
their criminal liability or prevent the incipience of any liability that may arise from the criminal
offense. This only demonstrates that the execution of the agreement between petitioner and
Universal has no bearing on the innocence or guilt of the respondents.

Determination of the probable cause, a function


belonging to the public prosecutor; judicial review
allowed where it has been clearly established that the
prosecutor committed grave abuse of discretion.
In a preliminary investigation, a public prosecutor determines whether a crime has been
committed and whether there is probable cause that the accused is guilty thereof.[42] The
Secretary of Justice, however, may review or modify the resolution of the prosecutor.
Probable cause is defined as such facts and circumstances that will engender a wellfounded belief that a crime has been committed and that the respondent is probably guilty
thereof and should be held for trial.[43] Generally, a public prosecutor is afforded a wide
latitude of discretion in the conduct of a preliminary investigation. By way of exception,
however, judicial review is allowed where respondent has clearly established that the
prosecutor committed grave abuse of discretion that is, when he has exercised his discretion in
an arbitrary, capricious, whimsical or despotic manner by reason of passion or personal
hostility, patent and gross enough as to amount to an evasion of a positive duty or virtual
refusal to perform a duty enjoined by law.[44] Tested against these guidelines, we find that
this case falls under the exception rather than the general rule.
A close scrutiny of the substance of Prosecutor Edads Resolution dated July 10, 1997
readily reveals that were it not for the Debt Settlement Agreement, there was indeed probable
cause to indict respondents for the crime charged. From her own assessment of the ComplaintAffidavit of petitioners auditor, her preliminary finding is that Ordinarily, the offense of estafa
has been sufficiently established.[45] Interestingly, she suddenly changed tack and declared
that the agreement altered the relation of the parties and that novation had set in preventing the
incipience of any criminal liability on respondents. In light of the jurisprudence herein earlier
discussed, the prosecutor should not have gone that far and executed an apparent
somersault. Compounding further the error, the DOJ in dismissing petitioners petition, ruled
out estafa contrary to the findings of the prosecutor. Pertinent portion of the ruling reads:
Equivocally, there is no estafa in the instant case as it was not clearly
shown how respondents misappropriated the P53,873,500.00 which Universal
owed your client after its checks deposited with Metrobank were
dishonored. Moreover, fraud is not present considering that the Executive
Committee and the Credit Committee of Metrobank were duly notified of these
transactions which they approved. Further, no damage was caused to your client
as it agreed [to] the settlement [with] Universal.[46]

The findings of the Secretary of Justice in sustaining the dismissal of the Complaint are matters
of defense best left to the trial courts deliberation and contemplation after conducting the trial
of the criminal case. To emphasize, a preliminary investigation for the purpose of determining
the existence of probable cause is not a part of the trial. A full and exhaustive presentation of
the parties evidence is not required, but only such as may engender a well-grounded belief that
an offense has been committed and that the accused is probably guilty thereof.[47] A finding
of probable cause does not require an inquiry into whether there is sufficient evidence to
procure a conviction. It is enough that it is believed that the act or omission complained of
constitutes the offense charged.[48] So we held in Balangauan v. Court of Appeals:[49]
Applying the foregoing disquisition to the present petition, the
reasons of DOJ for affirming the dismissal of the criminal complaints for estafa
and/or qualified estafa are determinative of whether or not it committed grave
abuse of discretion amounting to lack or excess of jurisdiction. In requiring
hard facts and solid evidence as the basis for a finding of probable cause to
hold petitioners Bernyl and Katherene liable to stand trial for the crime
complained of, the DOJ disregards the definition of probable cause that it is a
reasonable ground of presumption that a matter is, or may be, well-founded, such
a state of facts in the mind of the prosecutor as would lead a person of ordinary
caution and prudence to believe, or entertain an honest or strong suspicion, that a
thing is so. The term does not mean actual and positive cause nor does it
import absolute certainty. It is merely based on opinion and reasonable belief;
that is, the belief that the act or omission complained of constitutes the offense
charged. While probable cause demands more than bare suspicion, it requires
less than evidence which would justify conviction. Herein, the DOJ reasoned
as if no evidence was actually presented by respondent HSBC when in fact the
records of the case were teeming; or it discounted the value of such substantiation
when in fact the evidence presented was adequate to excite in a reasonable mind
the probability that petitioners Bernyl and Katherene committed the crime/s
complained of. In so doing, the DOJ whimsically and capriciously exercised its
discretion, amounting to grave abuse of discretion, which rendered its resolutions
amenable to correction and annulment by the extraordinary remedy of certiorari.
In the case at bar, as analyzed by the prosecutor, a prima facie case of estafa exists against
respondents. As perused by her, the facts as presented in the Complaint-Affidavit of the
auditor are reasonable enough to excite her belief that respondents are guilty of the crime
complained of. In Andres v. Justice Secretary Cuevas[50] we had occasion to rule that the
presence or absence of the elements of the crime is evidentiary in nature and is a matter of
defense that may be passed upon after a full-blown trial on the merits.[51]

Thus confronted with the issue on whether the public prosecutor and the Secretary of Justice
committed grave abuse of discretion in disposing of the case of petitioner, given the sufficiency
of evidence on hand, we do not hesitate to rule in the affirmative. We have previously ruled
that grave abuse of discretion may arise when a lower court or tribunal violates and
contravenes the Constitution, the law or existing jurisprudence.
Non-inclusion of officers of Universal not a ground
for the dismissal of the complaint.
The DOJ in resolving to deny petitioners appeal from the resolution of the prosecutor gave
another ground failure to implead the officers of Universal. It explained:
To allow your client to make the choice is to make an unwarranted
classification under the law which will result in grave injustice against herein
respondents. Thus, if your client agreed that no estafa was committed in this
transaction with Universal who was the principal player and beneficiary of this
transaction[,] more so with herein respondents whose liabilities are based only on
conspiracy with Universal.[52]
The ratiocination of the Secretary of Justice conveys the idea that if the charge against
respondents rests upon the same evidence used to charge co-accused (officers of Universal)
based on the latters conspiratorial participation, the non-inclusion of said co-accused in the
charge should benefit the respondents.
The reasoning of the DOJ is flawed.
Suffice it to say that it is indubitably within the discretion of the prosecutor to
determine who must be charged with what crime or for what offense. Public prosecutors, not
the private complainant, are the ones obliged to bring forth before the law those who have
transgressed it.
Section 2, Rule 110 of the Rules of Court[53] mandates that all criminal actions must
be commenced either by complaint or information in the name of the People of the against all
persons who appear to be responsible therefor. Thus the law makes it a legal duty for
prosecuting officers to file the charges against whomsoever the evidence may show to be
responsible for the offense. The proper remedy under the circumstances where persons who
ought to be charged were not included in the complaint of the private complainant is definitely
not to dismiss the complaint but to include them in the information. As the OSG correctly
suggested, the proper remedy should have been the inclusion of certain employees of Universal
who were found to have been in cahoots with respondents in defrauding petitioner. The DOJ,
therefore, cannot seriously argue that because the officers of Universal were not indicted,

respondents themselves should not likewise be charged. Their non-inclusion cannot be


perversely used to justify desistance by the public prosecutor from prosecution of the criminal
case just because not all of those who are probably guilty thereof were charged.
Mandamus a proper remedy when resolution of
public respondent is tainted with grave abuse of
discretion.
Mandamus is a remedial measure for parties aggrieved. It shall issue when any
tribunal, corporation, board, officer or person unlawfully neglects the performance of an act
which the law specifically enjoins as a duty resulting from an office, trust or station.[54] The
writ of mandamus is not available to control discretion neither may it be issued to compel the
exercise of discretion. Truly, it is a matter of discretion on the part of the prosecutor to
determine which persons appear responsible for the commission of a crime. However, the
moment he finds one to be so liable it becomes his inescapable duty to charge him therewith
and to prosecute him for the same. In such a situation, the rule loses its discretionary character
and becomes mandatory. Thus, where, as in this case, despite the sufficiency of the evidence
before the prosecutor, he refuses to file the corresponding information against the person
responsible, he abuses his discretion. His act is tantamount to a deliberate refusal to perform a
duty enjoined by law. The Secretary of Justice, on the other hand, gravely abused his
discretion when, despite the existence of sufficient evidence for the crime of estafa as
acknowledged by the investigating prosecutor, he completely ignored the latters finding and
proceeded with the questioned resolution anchored on purely evidentiary matters in utter
disregard of the concept of probable cause as pointed out in Balangauan. To be sure, findings
of the Secretary of Justice are not subject to review unless shown to have been made with grave
abuse.[55] The present case calls for the application of the exception. Given the facts of this
case, petitioner has clearly established that the public prosecutor and the Secretary of Justice
committed grave abuse of discretion.
WHEREFORE, the petition is GRANTED. The assailed Decision of the Court of
Appeals in CA-G.R. SP No. 58548 promulgated on October 21, 2002 affirming the
Resolutions dated June 22, 1998 and March 1, 2000 of the Secretary of Justice, and its
Resolution dated July 12, 2004 denying reconsideration thereon are hereby REVERSED and
SET ASIDE. The public prosecutor is ordered to file the necessary information for estafa
against the respondents.
SO ORDERED.