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Camille May Savillo

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Constitutional Law II

CUISON vs. COURT OF APPEALS


FACTS: On February 7, 1989, respondent Presiding Judge of the Regional Trial Court of
Pangasinan rendered a Joint Decision in Criminal Cases Nos. L-3553 and L-3554, finding the
accused Eduardo Cuison guilty of the crime of double homicide. On appeal to the Court of
Appeals, the said decision was affirmed with the modification that the civil indemnity be
increased. The accused elevated the decision on a petition for review but the Supreme Court
denied the said petition. The case was remanded to the RTC for promulgation of the
decision. However, respondent Judge promulgated the decision of the CA only with respect to
the modified civil liability of the accused but did not commit the accused to jail to commence
service of his sentence.

Asst. City Prosecutor Abraham L. Ramos II reported the matter to the Solicitor General and
requested that a motion for clarification be filed with this Court to clarify the decision. The CA
then rendered a Resolution which states that they simply modified the appealed decision of the
court in one respect only - the increase of the indemnity to be paid by the appellant to the heirs of
the victims, and that they had affirmed the decision of the court with regard to the penalty of
imprisonment imposed in the said trial courts decision.

Respondent Judge then set the promulgation of the decision anew. The accused, however, filed a
Motion to Set Aside Promulgation on the grounds that the judgment in said case was already
promulgated and therefore there is nothing to promulgate anymore, and that to pursue with the
scheduled promulgation will violate his constitutional right against jeopardy. The respondent
Judge granted the aforestated motion. The Solicitor General then filed before the CA a petition
for certiorari and mandamus contending that the respondent Judge seriously erred and gravely
abused his discretion in refusing to execute the penalty of imprisonment in spite of the CAs
Decision and Resolution. He prays that the Order of the judge be nullified and the penalty of
imprisonment rendered against the accused be enforced.
ISSUE: Whether petitioners right against double jeopardy was violated
RULING: Petitioner contends that the promulgation by Judge Ramos of the Respondent Courts
decision by reading its dispositive portion has effectively terminated the criminal cases against
him. In other words, petitioner claims that the first jeopardy attached at that point.

The Court is not persuaded. As a rule, a criminal prosecution includes a civil action for the
recovery of indemnity. Hence, a decision in such case disposes of both the criminal as well as the
civil liabilities of an accused. Here, the trial court promulgated only the civil aspect of the case,
but not the criminal.

As earlier observed, the promulgation of the CA Decision was not complete. In fact and in truth,
the promulgation was not merely incomplete; it was also void. In excess of its jurisdiction, the
trial judge rendered a substantially incomplete promulgation. The Court emphasizes that grave
abuse of discretion rendered the aforementioned act of the trial court void. Since the criminal

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cases have not yet been terminated, the first jeopardy has not yet attached. Hence, double
jeopardy cannot prosper as a defense.
The constitutional proscription of double jeopardy is not violated by a Court of Appeals order
requiring the trial court to promulgate a decision sentencing the accused to imprisonment even if,
earlier, the same decision has been promulgated in regard only to the payment of the modified
civil indemnity arising from the same criminal act. Otherwise stated, the promulgation of only
one part of the decision, i.e., the liability for civil indemnity, is not a bar to the subsequent
promulgation of the other part, the imposition of the criminal accountability.

ALMARIO vs. COURT OF APPEALS


FACTS: Petitioner is one of the accused in two criminal cases for estafa, with respondent Rizal
Commercial Banking Corporation (RCBC) as the offended party in both cases. The cases were
scheduled for continuous trial, but the hearings were cancelled because the Presiding Judge of
the court was elevated to the Court of Appeals and no trial judge was immediately
appointed/detailed thereto. The hearings were kept on being postponed. Hence, upon motion of
petitioners counsel, respondent court issued an order dismissing the case against accused
Roberto Almario for failure to prosecute and considering that accused is entitled to a speedy trial.
However, upon motion of the private prosecutor, respondent court reconsidered the previous
Order and stated that the dismissal in that Order did not result in the acquittal of the accused
since the right of the accused to speedy trial has not been violated, and its dismissal having been
made upon the motion of the accused there is no double jeopardy. Petitioner sought a
reconsideration but it was denied. Petitioner filed before the CA a petition for certiorari,
prohibition and mandamus with preliminary injunction against the presiding judge, RCBC and
the People of the Philippines. The CA denied the petition.
The petitioner maintains that the appellate court erred in sustaining the trial court which, in turn,
had gravely abused its discretion, amounting to lack of jurisdiction, when it reconsidered the
order which dismissed the criminal cases against him. Petitioner asserts that this reversal was a
violation of the doctrine of double jeopardy, as the criminal cases were initially dismissed for an
alleged violation of petitioner's constitutional right to a speedy trial.
ISSUE: Whether, in petitioner's cases, double jeopardy had set in so that petitioner's
constitutional right against such jeopardy had been violated
RULING: In the cases at bar, the order of dismissal based on a violation of the right to speedy
trial was made upon motion by counsel for petitioner before the trial court. It was made at the
instance of the accused before the trial court, and with his express consent. Generally, the
dismissal of a criminal case resulting in acquittal made with the express consent of the accused
or upon his own motion will not place the accused in double jeopardy. However, this rule admits
of two exceptions, namely: insufficiency of evidence and denial of the right to speedy trial.
However, in this case, delay in the trial was due to circumstances beyond the control of the
parties and of the trial court. The postponements were justified on the ground of lack of notice to
accused, co-accused, and/or counsel. Another was made without objection from petitioner's
counsel. Thus, after a closer analysis of these successive events, the trial court realized that the

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dates of the hearings were transferred for valid grounds. Hence, the trial court set aside its initial
order and reinstated the cases against petitioner, which order the appellate court later sustained.
There was no unreasonable, vexatious and oppressive delay in the trial. Hence, there was no
violation of petitioner's right to speedy trial as there were no unjustified postponements which
had prolonged the trial for unreasonable lengths of time. There being no oppressive delay in the
proceedings, and no postponements unjustifiably sought, the Court concurs with the conclusion
reached by the CA that petitioner's right to speedy trial had not been infringed.
It follows that petitioner cannot invoke the constitutional right against double jeopardy when that
order was reconsidered seasonably. The trial court's initial order of dismissal was upon motion of
petitioner's counsel, hence made with the express consent of petitioner. That being the case,
despite the reconsideration of said order, double jeopardy did not attach

MANANTAN vs. COURT OF APPEALS


FACTS: On June 1, 1983, the Provincial Fiscal of Isabela filed an information charging
petitioner George Manantan with reckless imprudence resulting in homicide. On arraignment,
petitioner pleaded not guilty to the charge. Trial on the merits ensued. In its decision dated June
30, 1988, promulgated on August 4, 1988, the trial court decided in petitioners favor, finding
him not guilty and acquitted him without a ruling on his civil liability.
On August 8, 1988, private respondents filed their notice of appeal on the civil aspect of the trial
courts judgment. In their appeal, the respondents prayed that the decision appealed from be
modified and that appellee be ordered to pay indemnity and damages. The appellate court
decided the appeal in favor of the respondents and held Manantan civilly liable and sentenced
him to indemnify the plaintiffs-appellants in the amount of P174,400.00.
Petitioner moved for reconsideration, but the appellate court denied the motion. Hence, this
appeal. Petitioner opines that the Court of Appeals should not have disturbed the findings of the
trial court on the lack of negligence or reckless imprudence under the guise of determining his
civil liability. He argues that the trial courts finding that he was neither imprudent nor negligent
was the basis for his acquittal, and not reasonable doubt. He submits that in finding him liable
for indemnity and damages, the appellate court not only placed his acquittal in suspicion, but
also put him in double jeopardy.
ISSUE: Whether or not his right against double jeopardy was violated
HELD: Private respondents contend that while the trial court found that petitioners guilt had not
been proven beyond reasonable doubt, it did not state in clear and unequivocal terms that
petitioner was not recklessly imprudent or negligent. Hence, impliedly the trial court acquitted
him on reasonable doubt. Since civil liability is not extinguished in criminal cases if the
acquittal is based on reasonable doubt, the CA had to review the findings of the trial court to
determine if there was a basis for awarding indemnity and damages.
In the instant case, petitioner had once been placed in jeopardy by the filing of the criminal case
and the jeopardy was terminated by his discharge. The judgment of acquittal became
immediately final. Note, however, that what was elevated to the CA was the civil aspect of the

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criminal case. Petitioner was not charged anew with a second criminal offense identical to the
first offense. The records clearly show that no second criminal offense was being imputed to
petitioner on appeal. In modifying the lower courts judgment, the appellate court did not
modify the judgment of acquittal. Nor did it order the filing of a second criminal case against
petitioner for the same offense. Obviously, therefore, there was no second jeopardy to speak
of. Petitioners claim of having been placed in double jeopardy is incorrect.
Our law recognizes two kinds of acquittal, with different effects on the civil liability of the
accused. First is an acquittal on the ground that the accused is not the author of the act or
omission complained of. This instance closes the door to civil liability, for a person who has
been found to be not the perpetrator of any act or omission cannot and can never be held liable
for such act or omission. There being no delict, civil liability ex delicto is out of the question, and
the civil action, if any, which may be instituted must be based on grounds other than
the delict complained of. This is the situation contemplated in Rule 111 of the Rules of Court.
The second instance is an acquittal based on reasonable doubt on the guilt of the accused. In this
case, even if the guilt of the accused has not been satisfactorily established, he is not exempt
from civil liability. This is the situation contemplated in Article 29 of the Civil Code, where the
civil action for damages is for the same act or omission. Although the two actions have
different purposes, the matters discussed in the civil case are similar to those discussed in the
criminal case. However, the judgment in the criminal proceeding cannot be read in evidence in
the civil action to establish any fact there determined, even though both actions involve the same
act or omission. The reason for this rule is that the parties are not the same and secondarily,
different rules of evidence are applicable. Hence, notwithstanding herein petitioners acquittal,
the Court of Appeals in determining whether Article 29 applied, was not precluded from looking
into the question of petitioners negligence or reckless imprudence.

PEOPLE vs. FELICIANO


FACTS: The accused-appellant, Carlos Feliciano, was a security guard at the Kingsmen
building, the hub of four disco pubs in Kalibo, Aklan. Rodel de la Cruz was also a security guard
stationed at the parking lot of the same building. In the early morning of June 5, 1995, Feliciano
and de la Cruz centrally figured in the investigation over the grisly death of an unidentified
woman whose body was found sprawled in Barangay New Buswang, Kalibo, Aklan. An
Information was filed against de la Cruz and Feliciano. The prosecution sought the discharge of
accused de la Cruz so that the latter could testify against his co-accused. Pending resolution by
the trial court on the motion, Feliciano and de la Cruz were arraigned and both entered a plea of
not guilty. Then, the court granted the motion of the prosecution and the name of de la Cruz, an
accused turned state witness, was forthwith stricken off from the Information. When the trial
concluded, the RTC pronounced accused Feliciano guilty beyond reasonable doubt of the crime
of Robbery with Homicide and sentenced him to suffer the extreme penalty of death.
ISSUE: Whether the trial court erred in discharging the accused Rodel de la Cruz to be the state
witness against co-accused Carlos Feliciano
RULING: The Court agrees with appellant that state witness Rodel de la Cruz appears to be far
from being the inculpable young man who has simply been an unwitting and reluctant
accomplice to a gruesome crime. Several incidents militate against his innocence. The evident
attempt, nevertheless, of the accused turned state witness to mitigate his own culpability did not
adversely affect his discharge nor did it render completely weightless the evidentiary value of his
testimony.

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Constitutional Law II

The rules of procedure allowing the discharge of an accused to instead be a witness for the state
has its origins in the common law of ancient England where faithful performance of such an
agreement with the Crown could entitle a criminal offender to an equitable right to a
recommendation for executive clemency. In the Philippines, this grant is not one of arbitrary
discretion but rather a sound judicial prerogative to be exercised with due regard to the proper
and correct dispensation of criminal justice. In this case, even while one might be convinced that
state witness Rodel de la Cruz would, on the basis of evidence ultimately submitted, appear to be
equally as, and not less than, guilty in conspiracy with appellant Carlos Feliciano, the hands of
the State are now stayed and the Court must assure the exemption of the witness from
punishment.
It is widely accepted that the discharge of an accused to become a state witness has the same
effect as an acquittal. The impropriety of the discharge would not have any effect on the
competency and quality of the testimony, nor would it have the consequence of withdrawing his
immunity from prosecution. A discharge, if granted at the stage where jeopardy has already
attached, is equivalent to an acquittal, such that further prosecution would be tantamount to the
state reneging on its part of the agreement and unconstitutionally placing the state witness in
double jeopardy. The rule, of course, is not always irreversible. In an instance where the
discharged accused fails to fulfill his part of the bargain and refuses to testify against his coaccused, the benefit of his discharge can be withdrawn and he can again be prosecuted for the
same offense.
Despite an obvious attempt to downgrade his own participation in the crime, state witness de la
Cruz, nevertheless, did not renege from his agreement to give a good account of the crime,
enough to indeed substantiate the conviction of his co-accused, now appellant Carlos Feliciano,
by the trial court. Appellant Carlos Feliciano was not able to sufficiently dispute his
participation therein. Neither his blanket denial nor his alibi, both inherently weak defenses, was
amply proved.
The Supreme Court affirmed the decision of the trial court except insofar as it imposed on Carlos
Feliciano the penalty of death which was reduced to reclusion perpetua.

MERCIALES vs. COURT OF APPEALS


FACTS: Criminal cases for rape with homicide, in connection with the death of one Maritess
Ricafort Merciales, were filed against the private respondents, Joselito Nuada, Pat. Edwin Moral,
Adonis Nieves, Ernesto Lobete, Domil Grageda and Ramon "Pol" Flores, before the Regional
Trial Court, Fifth Judicial Region, Legaspi City. The said cases were consolidated in Branch 8,
presided over by the respondent judge. During the trial, after presenting seven witnesses, the
public prosecutor filed a motion for the discharge of accused Joselito Nuada, in order that he may
be utilized as a state witness. However, the prosecution contended that it was not required to
present evidence to warrant the discharge of accused Nuada, since the latter had already been
admitted into the Witness Protection Program of the Department of Justice. Consequently, the
respondent judge denied the motion for discharge, for failure of the prosecution to present
evidence as provided for by Section 9, Rule 119 of the 1985 Rules on Criminal Procedure.
The prosecution filed a petition for certiorari before the Supreme Court, questioning the
respondent judge's denial of the motion to discharge the accused Nuada. However the private
respondents objected to any further resetting as this would constitute a violation of their right to a
speedy trial. The defense then moved that the cases be deemed submitted for decision, and asked
leave of court to file a demurrer to evidence. On October 21, 1994, the trial court issued the
assailed Order, acquitting all of the accused for lack of sufficient evidence to prove their guilt
beyond reasonable doubt. The mother of the victim filed before the respondent Court of Appeals

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a petition to annul the foregoing Order of the trial court. The CA dismissed the petition. Hence,
the instant petition.
ISSUE: Whether reopening the criminal case will violate the accuseds right to double jeopardy
RULING: The criminal case was for rape with homicide. Although the public prosecutor
presented seven witnesses, none of these actually saw the commission of the crime. It was only
Joselito Nuada, one of the accused, who came forward and expressed willingness to turn state
witness. His testimony was vital for the prosecution, as it would provide the only eyewitness
account of the accuseds complicity in the crime. The trial court required the public prosecutor
to present evidence to justify Nuadas discharge as a state witness, but the latter insisted that
there was no need for such proof since Nuada had already been admitted into the Witness
Protection Program. The refusal to present the required evidence prompted the trial court to
deny the motion to discharge Nuada.
In the case at bar, the public prosecutor knew that he had not presented sufficient evidence to
convict the accused. He deliberately failed to present an available witness and thereby allowed
the court to declare that the prosecution has rested its case. The public prosecutor in this case
was guilty of blatant error and abuse of discretion, thereby causing prejudice to the offended
party. By refusing to comply with the trial courts order to present evidence, the public
prosecutor grossly violated the rules. Likewise guilty for serious nonfeasance was the trial
court. Notwithstanding its knowledge that the evidence for the prosecution was insufficient to
convict, especially after the public prosecutor tenaciously insisted on utilizing Nuada as state
witness, the trial court passively watched as the public prosecutor bungled the case.
Inasmuch as the acquittal of the accused by the court was done without regard to due process of
law, the same is null and void. It is as if there was no acquittal at all, and the same cannot
constitute a claim for double jeopardy.
By contending that the challenged Decision is void for having been issued with grave abuse of
discretion amounting to lack or excess of jurisdiction, the petition does not violate the right of
the accused against double jeopardy. Thus, even assuming that a writ of certiorari is granted, the
accused would not be placed in double jeopardy because, from the very beginning, the lower
tribunal had acted without jurisdiction. Precisely, any ruling issued without jurisdiction is, in
legal contemplation, necessarily null and void and does not exist.
POTOT vs. PEOPLE
FACTS: Joey S. Potot, petitioner, was charged with homicide. Upon arraignment, he pleaded
guilty to the charge. Thereupon, the trial court rendered and promulgated its judgment,
convicting him of homicide. Petitioner then filed a manifestation with motion informing the trial
court that he is not appealing from the Decision and praying that a commitment order be issued
so he could immediately serve his sentence. However, the wife of the victim filed a motion for
reconsideration/retrial praying that the Decision be set aside and that the case be heard again
because there were irregularities committed before and during the trial which caused miscarriage
of justice. The trial court granted the motion. It likewise ordered that the records of the case be
remanded to the Office of the Provincial Prosecutor for re-evaluation of the evidence and to file
the corresponding charge. Petitioner filed a motion for reconsideration contending that the trial
court has no jurisdiction to issue the order as the Decision had become final, and that the said
order would place the accused in double jeopardy. The trial court denied the motion for
reconsideration for the reason that the State is not bound by the error or negligence of its
prosecuting officers, hence, jeopardy does not attach.
ISSUE: Whether or not the judgment has become final that the accuseds right against double
jeopardy will be violated upon re-trial of the same case

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RULING: The Court finds the petition meritorious.


Section 7, Rule 120 of the Revised Rules on Criminal Procedure states that only the accused may
ask for a modification or setting aside of a judgment of conviction. And this he must do before
the said judgment becomes final or before he perfects his appeal. Such judgment
becomes final in any of the following ways: (a) when no appeal is seasonably filed by the
accused, except in case of automatic review of the decision imposing the capital penalty; (b)
when he has partially or totally served his sentence; (c) when he expressly waives his right to
appeal the judgment, except when the death penalty is imposed; or (d) when he applies for
probation. When one of these circumstances is present, the trial court which rendered the
judgment of conviction loses jurisdiction to alter, modify or revoke it.
It is an undisputed fact that three days after the promulgation of the judgment of conviction,
petitioner filed a manifestation expressly waiving his right to appeal therefrom. Such waiver has
the effect of causing the judgment to become final and unalterable. Thus, it was beyond the
authority of the trial court to issue the order setting aside its Decision which had attained finality.
It is likewise procedurally impermissible for the trial court to grant private complainant's motion
for reconsideration of its Decision. Section 1, Rule 121 of the same Rules provides that at any
time before a judgment of conviction becomes final, the court may, on motion of the accused or
at its own instance but with the consent of the accused, grant a new trial or reconsideration. Since
the motion for reconsideration of the judgment of conviction was not initiated by the accused or
at the instance of the trial court with his consent, the same should have been denied outright as
being violative of the above provision. At any rate, the records do not show any irregularity in
the preliminary investigation of the case before the Provincial Prosecutors Office.
The Court agrees with the petitioner that the assailed orders would violate his constitutional right
against double jeopardy. Such right prohibits any subsequent prosecution of any person for a
crime of which he has previously been acquitted or convicted. The objective is to set the effects
of the first prosecution forever at rest, assuring the accused that he shall not thereafter be
subjected to the peril and anxiety of a second charge against him for the same offense.
The requisites for invoking the defense of double jeopardy have been established. Records show
that petitioner was charged with homicide under a valid information before the trial court which
has jurisdiction over it. He was arraigned and pleaded guilty to the charge. On the basis of his
plea, petitioner was convicted and meted the corresponding penalty. As petitioner has been
placed in jeopardy for the crime of homicide, he cannot be prosecuted anew for the same offense,
or any offense which necessarily includes or is necessarily included in the first offense charged.

PEOPLE vs. ASTUDILLO


FACTS: This is an appeal from the decision of the Regional Trial Court of Bangued, Abra,
Branch 2, convicting appellants Clarence Astudillo, Crisanto Astudillo and Hilario Astudillo of
the crime of Murder; sentencing them to suffer the penalty reclusion perpetua and ordering them,
jointly and severally, to pay damages to the heirs of the deceased. Upon arraignment, appellants
pleaded not guilty. Trial on the merits thereafter ensued.
On March 16, 1998, the trial court rendered a decision convicting appellants of the crime of
Murder qualified by abuse of superior strength. Appellants filed a motion for reconsideration
contending that the prosecution failed to prove their guilt beyond reasonable doubt and,
assuming that it did, the qualifying circumstance of abuse of superior strength, not having been

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alleged in the information, cannot be appreciated against them. Appellants motion for
reconsideration was denied in an Order dated July 13, 1998. However, an Amended Decision
was rendered where the phrase abuse of superior strength was replaced with TREACHERY
in the body of the Decision.
ISSUE: Whether or not there was a violation of the right against double jeopardy when the trial
court rendered the second decision
RULING: Under Rule 121, Section 1 of the Revised Rules on Criminal Procedure, a motion for
reconsideration of a judgment of conviction may be filed by the accused, or initiated by the
court, with the consent of the accused. Likewise, under Rule 120, Section 7, a judgment of
conviction may be modified or set aside only upon motion of the accused. These provisions
changed the previous rulings of the Court to the effect that such modification may be made upon
motion of the fiscal, provided the same is made before a judgment has become final or an appeal
has been perfected. The requisite consent of the accused to such motion for reconsideration or
modification is intended to protect the latter from having to defend himself anew from more
serious offenses or penalties which the prosecution or the court may have overlooked.
Accordingly, once the judgment has been validly promulgated, any reconsideration or
amendment to correct a manifest substantial error, even if unwittingly committed by the trial
court through oversight or an initially erroneous comprehension, can be made only with the
consent or upon the instance of the accused. Errors in the decision cannot be corrected unless the
accused consents thereto, or himself moves for reconsideration of, or appeals from, the decision.
However, the protection against double jeopardy in the foregoing rules may be waived by the
accused. Thus, when the accused himself files or consents to the filing of a motion for
reconsideration or modification, double jeopardy cannot be invoked because the accused waived
his right not to be placed therein by filing such motion. His motion gives the court an opportunity
to rectify its errors or to reevaluate its assessment of facts and conclusions of law and make them
conformable with the statute applicable to the case in the new judgment it has to render. In effect,
a motion for reconsideration or modification filed by or with consent of the accused renders the
entire evidence open for the review of the trial court without, however, conducting further
proceedings, such as the taking of additional proof.
Clearly, therefore, appellants cannot dictate upon the trial court which aspects of the judgment of
conviction should be reviewed. Having filed a timely motion for reconsideration asking the
court to acquit, or in the alternative, convict them of the lesser offense of homicide, appellants
waived the defense of double jeopardy and effectively placed the evidence taken at the trial open
for the review of the trial court. At any rate, the issue of the attendant qualifying circumstance in
the case at bar was squarely raised by the appellants in their alternative prayer for conviction for
the lesser offense of homicide in view of the erroneous appreciation of the qualifying
circumstance of abuse of superior strength which was not alleged in the information. Hence, the
court a quo is not only empowered but also under obligation to rectify its mistake in appreciating
the qualifying circumstance of abuse of superior strength instead of treachery. Verily, it is
precluded from considering the attendance of a qualifying circumstance if the complaint or
information did not allege such facts. Even before the Revised Rules on Criminal Procedure took
effect on December 1, 2000, qualifying circumstances were required to be so specified in the
complaint or information, otherwise they cannot be appreciated against the accused.