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FIRST DIVISION

[A.M. No. MTJ-02-1390. April 11, 2002]

MERCEDITA
MATA
ARAES, petitioner, vs. JUDGE
SALVADOR M. OCCIANO, respondent.
DECISION
PUNO, J.:
Petitioner Mercedita Mata Araes charges respondent
judge with Gross Ignorance of the Law via a sworn LetterComplaint dated 23 May 2001. Respondent is the Presiding
Judge of the Municipal Trial Court of Balatan, Camarines Sur.
Petitioner alleges that on 17 February 2000, respondent judge
solemnized her marriage to her late groom Dominador B.
Orobia without the requisite marriage license and at Nabua,
Camarines Sur which is outside his territorial jurisdiction.
They lived together as husband and wife on the strength
of this marriage until her husband passed away. However,
since the marriage was a nullity, petitioners right to inherit the
vast properties left by Orobia was not recognized. She was
likewise deprived of receiving the pensions of Orobia, a retired
Commodore of the Philippine Navy.
Petitioner prays that sanctions be imposed against
respondent judge for his illegal acts and unethical
misrepresentations which allegedly caused her so much
hardships, embarrassment and sufferings.
On 28 May 2001, the case was referred by the Office of
the Chief Justice to then Acting Court Administrator Zenaida N.
Elepao for appropriate action. On 8 June 2001, the Office of
the Court Administrator required respondent judge to comment.
In his Comment dated 5 July 2001, respondent judge
averred that he was requested by a certain Juan Arroyo on 15
February 2000 to solemnize the marriage of the parties on 17
February 2000. Having been assured that all the documents to
the marriage were complete, he agreed to solemnize the
marriage in his sala at the Municipal Trial Court of Balatan,
Camarines Sur. However, on 17 February 2000, Arroyo
informed him that Orobia had a difficulty walking and could not
stand the rigors of travelling to Balatan which is located almost
25 kilometers from his residence in Nabua. Arroyo then
requested if respondent judge could solemnize the marriage in
Nabua, to which request he acceded.
Respondent judge further avers that before he started the
ceremony, he carefully examined the documents submitted to
him by petitioner. When he discovered that the parties did not
possess the requisite marriage license, he refused to
solemnize the marriage and suggested its resetting to another
date. However, due to the earnest pleas of the parties, the
influx of visitors, and the delivery of provisions for the occasion,
he proceeded to solemnize the marriage out of human
compassion. He also feared that if he reset the wedding, it
might aggravate the physical condition of Orobia who just
suffered from a stroke. After the solemnization, he reiterated
the necessity for the marriage license and admonished the
parties that their failure to give it would render the marriage
void. Petitioner and Orobia assured respondent judge that they
would give the license to him in the afternoon of that same day.
When they failed to comply, respondent judge followed it up
with Arroyo but the latter only gave him the same reassurance
that the marriage license would be delivered to his sala at the
Municipal Trial Court of Balatan, Camarines Sur.
Respondent judge vigorously denies that he told the
contracting parties that their marriage is valid despite the
absence of a marriage license. He attributes the hardships and
embarrassment suffered by the petitioner as due to her own
fault and negligence.
On 12 September 2001, petitioner filed her Affidavit of
Desistance dated 28 August 2001 with the Office of the Court
Administrator. She attested that respondent judge initially

refused to solemnize her marriage due to the want of a duly


issued marriage license and that it was because of her
prodding and reassurances that he eventually solemnized the
same. She confessed that she filed this administrative case out
of rage. However, after reading the Comment filed by
respondent judge, she realized her own shortcomings and is
now bothered by her conscience.
Reviewing the records of the case, it appears that
petitioner and Orobia filed their Application for Marriage
License on 5 January 2000. It was stamped in this Application
that the marriage license shall be issued on 17 January 2000.
However, neither petitioner nor Orobia claimed it.
It also appears that the Office of the Civil Registrar
General issued a Certification that it has no record of such
marriage that allegedly took place on 17 February 2000.
Likewise, the Office of the Local Civil Registrar of Nabua,
Camarines Sur issued another Certification dated 7 May 2001
that it cannot issue a true copy of the Marriage Contract of the
parties since it has no record of their marriage.
On 8 May 2001, petitioner sought the assistance of
respondent judge so the latter could communicate with the
Office of the Local Civil Registrar of Nabua, Camarines Sur for
the issuance of her marriage license. Respondent judge wrote
the Local Civil Registrar of Nabua, Camarines Sur. In a letter
dated 9 May 2001, a Clerk of said office, Grace T. Escobal,
informed respondent judge that their office cannot issue the
marriage license due to the failure of Orobia to submit the
Death Certificate of his previous spouse.
The Office of the Court Administrator, in its Report and
Recommendation dated 15 November 2000, found the
respondent judge guilty of solemnizing a marriage without a
duly issued marriage license and for doing so outside his
territorial jurisdiction. A fine of P5,000.00 was recommended to
be imposed on respondent judge.
We agree.
Under the Judiciary Reorganization Act of 1980, or
B.P.129, the authority of the regional trial court judges and
judges of inferior courts to solemnize marriages is confined to
their territorial jurisdiction as defined by the Supreme Court.
The case at bar is not without precedent. In Navarro vs.
Domagtoy,[1] respondent judge held office and had jurisdiction
in the Municipal Circuit Trial Court of Sta. Monica-Burgos,
Surigao del Norte. However, he solemnized a wedding at his
residence in the municipality of Dapa, Surigao del Norte which
did not fall within the jurisdictional area of the municipalities of
Sta. Monica and Burgos. We held that:
A priest who is commissioned and allowed by his local
ordinance to marry the faithful is authorized to do so only within
the area or diocese or place allowed by his Bishop. An
appellate court Justice or a Justice of this Court has jurisdiction
over the entire Philippines to solemnize marriages, regardless
of the venue, as long as the requisites of the law are complied
with. However, judges who are appointed to specific
jurisdictions, may officiate in weddings only within said
areas and not beyond. Where a judge solemnizes a
marriage outside his courts jurisdiction, there is a
resultant irregularity in the formal requisite laid down in
Article 3, which while it may not affect the validity of the
marriage, may subject the officiating official to
administrative liability.[2] (Emphasis supplied.)
In said case, we suspended respondent judge for six (6)
months on the ground that his act of solemnizing a marriage
outside his jurisdiction constitutes gross ignorance of the
law. We further held that:

The judiciary should be composed of persons who, if not


experts, are at least, proficient in the law they are sworn to
apply, more than the ordinary laymen. They should be skilled
and competent in understanding and applying the law. It is
imperative that they be conversant with basic legal principles
like the ones involved in the instant case. x x x While
magistrates may at times make mistakes in judgment, for
which they are not penalized, the respondent judge exhibited
ignorance of elementary provisions of law, in an area which
has greatly prejudiced the status of married persons.[3]
In the case at bar, the territorial jurisdiction of respondent
judge is limited to the municipality of Balatan, Camarines Sur.
His act of solemnizing the marriage of petitioner and Orobia in
Nabua, Camarines Sur therefore is contrary to law and
subjects him to administrative liability. His act may not amount
to gross ignorance of the law for he allegedly solemnized the
marriage out of human compassion but nonetheless, he cannot
avoid liability for violating the law on marriage.
Respondent judge should also be faulted for solemnizing
a marriage without the requisite marriage license. In People
vs. Lara,[4] we held that a marriage which preceded the
issuance of the marriage license is void, and that the
subsequent issuance of such license cannot render valid or
even add an iota of validity to the marriage. Except in cases
provided by law, it is the marriage license that gives the
solemnizing officer the authority to solemnize a marriage.
Respondent judge did not possess such authority when he
solemnized the marriage of petitioner. In this respect,
respondent judge acted in gross ignorance of the law.
Respondent judge cannot be exculpated despite the
Affidavit of Desistance filed by petitioner. This Court has
consistently held in a catena of cases that the withdrawal of the
complaint does not necessarily have the legal effect of
exonerating respondent from disciplinary action. Otherwise, the
prompt and fair administration of justice, as well as the
discipline of court personnel, would be undermined.
[5]
Disciplinary actions of this nature do not involve purely
private or personal matters. They can not be made to depend
upon the will of every complainant who may, for one reason or
another, condone a detestable act. We cannot be bound by the
unilateral act of a complainant in a matter which involves the
Courts constitutional power to discipline judges. Otherwise,
that power may be put to naught, undermine the trust character
of a public office and impair the integrity and dignity of this
Court as a disciplining authority.[6]
WHEREFORE, respondent Judge Salvador M. Occiano,
Presiding Judge of the Municipal Trial Court of Balatan,
Camarines Sur, is fined P5,000.00 pesos with a STERN
WARNING that a repetition of the same or similar offense in
the future will be dealt with more severely.

In Criminal Case No. 2860-V-93, a prosecution for illegal


recruitment in large scale, the information reads:
That during the period of February to June 1993, in
Valenzuela, Metro Manila and within the jurisdiction of this
Honorable Court, the above-named accused, representing
herself to have the capacity to contract, enlist and recruit
workers for employment abroad, did then and there wil[l]fully
and unlawfully, for a fee, recruit and promise employment/job
placement in a large scale to ARISTON B. VILLANUEVA,
MARY JANE AQUINO-VILLANUEVA, ALFRED BRYANT
BERADOR, FRENNIE MAJARUCON and WILFREDO
TUBALE, without said accused having secured first the
necessary license or authority to engage in recruitment activity
from the Philippine Overseas Employment Administration
(POEA), in violation of the aforementioned provision of Law.
Contrary to Law.[1]
The five informations for estafa, on the other hand,
docketed as Criminal Cases Nos. 2861-V-93, 2862-V-93, 2863V-93, 2864-V-93, and 2865-V-93, alleged that the appellant
violated paragraph 2(a), Article 315 of the Revised Penal
Code, thus:
In Criminal Case No. 2861-V-93:
That sometime in the month of February 1993 or thereabouts
in Valenzuela, Metro Manila and within the jurisdiction of this
Honorable Court, the above-named accused, defrauded and
deceived one NAPOLEON APARICIO y CLEMENTE in the
following manner to wit: said accused, by means of false
manifestations and fraudulent representation made to the said
complainant to the effect that she has the capacity and
power to recruit and employ complainant abroad and facilitate
the necessary amount to meet the requirements thereof,
knowing said manifestations and representation to be false and
fraudulent and made only to induce said complainant to give,
as in fact, the latter did give and deliver to said accused cash
money amounting to P40,000, but said accused, once
in possession of the same, with intent to defraud and deceive
the herein complainant, did then and there willfully, unlawfully
and feloniously misapply, misappropriate and convert [the
same] to her own personal use and benefit, [and] despite
demands made upon her to return the said amount of P40,000,
said accused failed and refused and still fails and refuses to do
so, to the damage and prejudice of the complainant in the
aforementioned amount of P40,000.
Contrary to Law.[2]
In Criminal Case No. 2862-V-93:

SO ORDERED.
Davide, Jr., C.J., (Chairman), Kapunan, and YnaresSantiago, JJ., concur.

FIRST DIVISION

[G.R. No. 127848. July 17, 2003]

PEOPLE OF THE PHILIPPINES, appellee, vs. MARLENE


OLERMO @ Marlene Tolentino, appellant.
DECISION
AZCUNA, J.:
In separate informations filed before the Regional Trial
Court (RTC) of Valenzuela, Metro Manila, Branch 172, Marlene
Olermo a.k.a. Marlene Tolentino was accused of illegal
recruitment in large scale and five counts of estafa.

That sometime in May 1993 or thereabouts in Valenzuela,


Metro Manila and within the jurisdiction of this Honorable
Court, the above-named accused, defrauded and deceived
one MARY JANE AQUINO-VILLANUEVA in the following
manner to wit: said accused, by means of false manifestations
and fraudulent representation made to the said complainant to
the effect that she has the capacity and power to recruit and
employ complainant abroad and facilitate the necessary
amount to meet the requirements thereof knowing said
manifestations and representation to be false and fraudulent
and made only to induce said complainant to give, as in fact,
the latter did give and deliver to said accused cash money
amounting to P35,000, but said accused, once in possession
of the same, with intent to defraud and deceive the herein
complainant, did then and there willfully, unlawfully and
feloniously misapply, misappropriate and convert [the same] to
her own personal use and benefit, [and] despite demands
made upon her to return the said amount of P35,000, said
accused failed and refused and still fails and refuses to do so,
to the damage and prejudice of the complainant in the
aforementioned amount of P35,000.
Contrary to Law.[3]
In Criminal Case No. 2863-V-93:

That sometime in May and June 1993 or thereabouts in


Valenzuela, Metro Manila and within the jurisdiction of this
Honorable Court, the above-named accused, defrauded and
deceived one ARISTON B. VILLANUEVA in the following
manner to wit: said accused, by means of false manifestations
and fraudulent representation made to the said complainant to
the effect that she has the capacity and power to recruit and
employ complainant abroad and facilitate the necessary
amount to meet the requirement thereof, knowing said
manifestations and representation to be false and fraudulent
and made only to induce said complainant to give, as in fact,
the latter did give and deliver to said accused cash money
amounting to P35,000, but said accused, once in possession
of the same, with the intent to defraud and deceive the herein
complainant, did then and there willfully, unlawfully and
feloniously misapply, misappropriate and convert [the same] to
her own personal use and benefit, [and] despite demands
made upon her to return the said amount of P35,000, said
accused failed and refused and still fails and refuses to do so,
to the damage and prejudice of the complainant in the
aforementioned amount of P35,000.

overseas. She informed complainant Aparicio that he needed


to pay her P40,000 for a work permit and a plane ticket to
Saipan where he is allegedly to be employed. Aparicio agreed
to pay her the said amount. He made his first payment
of P20,000 on March 30, 1993. Appellant allegedly called him
up and instructed him to deliver the money, which he did, to a
certain Jennifer Balduesa at Danding Building, Municipal Site,
Valenzuela, Metro Manila where appellants office, Jirk
Manpower Services, is located. Complainant Aparicio made his
second payment on April 21, 1993. Again, he delivered the
amount of P20,000 to Jennifer Balduesa in appellants office in
Valenzuela upon the instructions of appellant. He was issued a
cash voucher for each payment he made. [8]Appellant promised
him that he would leave for Saipan on May 3, 1993 and she
even showed him his plane ticket. However, he was not able to
leave on said date. The date of his departure was moved
several times by appellant until he began to suspect something
was amiss. Hence, he reported the matter to the National
Bureau of Investigation (NBI). Appellant thereafter pretended
to refund the amounts he paid by issuing him a check, which,
however, bounced when it was presented for payment. [9] He
later learned that appellant was not a duly-licensed recruiter.

Contrary to Law.[4]

Complainant Ariston Villanueva,[10] jobless, is married to


another complainant Mary Jane Aquino-Villanueva. They were
not married yet when they first encountered appellant. He
testified that he read the advertisement of appellant in a
newspaper, sometime in April 1993, offering assistance to
those who would like to work overseas. [11] He called the
number indicated therein and spoke to appellant. They first
agreed to meet in Greenbelt, Makati, but during the appointed
hour, appellant did not show up. The following day, they spoke
again on the telephone and agreed to meet in the office of
appellant in Valenzuela. When they met, appellant informed
him and complainant Aquino-Villanueva that she can help them
find work in Hong Kong. However, they must pay her P35,000
each for their plane fares and placement fees. On May 3,
1993, complainant Villanueva paid appellant an initial amount
of P40,000. On
May
20,
1993,
he
gave
appellant P30,000. Appellant issued him a receipt for each
payment he made.[12] Their departure, however, kept on being
postponed by appellant. Finally, they asked for a refund of their
payments. Appellant issued three checks on different dates
amounting to P70,000. However, these
checks were
dishonored when they were presented for payment. [13] In the
end, appellant gave back only P19,000. Complainants
Villanueva and Aquino-Villanueva subsequently inquired with
the Philippine Overseas Employment Agency (POEA) whether
or not appellant was licensed to recruit persons for overseas
employment. They were informed that appellant is not a
licensed recruiter and they procured a certification to this
effect.[14]

In Criminal Case No. 2864-V-93:


That sometime in the month of March 1993 or thereabouts in
Valenzuela, Metro Manila and within the jurisdiction of this
Honorable Court, the above-named accused, defrauded and
deceived one FRENNIE MAJARUCON y BACO in the
following manner to wit: said accused, by means of false
manifestations and fraudulent representation made to the said
complainant to the effect that she has the capacity and power
to recruit and employ complainant abroad and facilitate the
necessary amount to meet the requirements thereof, knowing
said manifestations and representation to be false and
fraudulent and made only to induce said complainant to give,
as in fact, the latter did give and deliver to said accused, cash
money amounting to P20,000, but said accused, once in
possession of the same, with intent to defraud and deceive the
herein complainant, did then and there willfully, unlawfully and
feloniously misapply, misappropriate and convert [the same] to
her own personal use and benefit, [and] despite demands
made upon her to return the said amount of P20,000, said
accused failed and refused and still fails and refuses to do so,
to the damage and prejudice of the complainant in the
aforementioned amount of P20,000.
Contrary to Law.[5]
In Criminal Case No. 2865-V-93:
That sometime in the month of February 1993 or thereabouts
in Valenzuela, Metro Manila and within the jurisdiction of this
Honorable Court, the above-named accused, defrauded and
deceived one ALFRED BRYANT BERADOR y OCHOA in the
following manner to wit: said accused, by means of false
manifestations and fraudulent representation made to the said
complainant to the effect that she has the capacity and power
to recruit and employ complainant abroad and facilitate the
necessary amount to meet the requirements thereof, knowing
said manifestations and representation to be false and
fraudulent and made only to induce said complainant to give,
as in fact, the latter did give and deliver to said accused cash
money amounting to P25,350, but said accused, once in
possession of the same, with intent to defraud and deceive the
herein complainant, did then and there willfully, unlawfully and
feloniously misapply, misappropriate and convert [the same] to
her own personal use and benefit, [and] despite demands
made upon her to return the said amount of P25,350, said
accused failed and refused and still fails and refuses to do so,
to the damage and prejudice of the complainant in the
aforementioned amount of P25,350.
Contrary to Law.[6]
Complainant Napoleon C. Aparicio,[7] jobless, testified that
he came to know appellant through his sister in February
1993. He allegedly talked with appellant Marlene Olermo a.k.a.
Marlene Tolentino regarding the latters offer to give him a job

Complainant Alfred Bryant Berador,[15] a cook, testified


that on or about February 22, 1993, he was introduced to
appellant by one of her partners in the agency. He met her in
their office in front of the Municipal Hall of Valenzuela. He paid
her a total amount of P24,000 as placement and processing
fees for his employment in Japan. He was issued a receipt for
each payment made.[16] He was not, however, allowed to leave
for Japan immediately. Complainant Berador was first required
by appellant to undergo a seminar to learn Nippongo for one
week. However, on the fourth day of the seminar, appellant
was arrested by the authorities. Complainant Berador
subsequently learned that appellant did not have a license to
recruit workers for overseas employment. He went to the
POEA and was issued a certification stating this fact.[17]
Complainant Frennie Majarucon,[18] jobless, testified that
she was introduced to appellant by her kumadre named Elvie
sometime in March 1993. They first met in the office of
appellant in front of the Municipal Hall of Valenzuela. Appellant
informed her that she had an available job for her in Hong
Kong and that she would need P45,000 for placement and
processing fees and P2,000 for her passport. Complainant
Majarucon was only able to give P22,000, which was
evidenced
by
the
receipts
issued
to
her
by
appellant. [19] However, complainant Majarucon never left for
Hong Kong. She thus inquired from the people in appellants
office whether the amount she paid to appellant can be
refunded. She was promptly informed, however, that appellant
had been arrested and was already in jail for illegal
recruitment. Complainant Majarucon then proceeded to the

POEA where she found out that the appellant was indeed not a
licensed recruiter.
For her part, appellant Olermo denied all the charges
against her.[20] She alleged that she was engaged only in visa
assistance. She denied ever having represented herself as
possessing authority to deploy workers for overseas
employment. She thus explained that she only offered
complainants Villanueva, Aquino-Villanueva, Aparicio and
Majarucon assistance in processing their tourist visas. With
respect to the accusation of complainant Berador, appellant
alleged that she was only helping him process his trainees
visa.
On August 23, 1996, the trial court rendered a decision
convicting appellant of the crimes charged. The dispositive
portion of the decision reads:
WHEREFORE, judgment is hereby rendered as follows:
(1) In Crim. Case No. 2860-V-93, the Court finds accused
Marlene Olermo @ Marlene Tolentino guilty beyond
reasonable doubt and as principal of the crime of Illegal
Recruitment in large scale as defined and penalized under
Article 38 in relation to Article 39 (a) of the Labor Code, as
amended by P.D. 2018, without any attending mitigating or
aggravating circumstance and hereby sentences her to a
penalty of life imprisonment and a fine of P100,000, without
subsidiary imprisonment in case of insolvency;
(2) In Crim. Case No. 2861-V-93, the Court finds accused
Marlene Olermo @ Marlene Tolentino guilty beyond
reasonable doubt and as principal of the crime of Estafa as
defined and penalized under paragraph 2(a) in relation to the
first paragraph of Article 315 of the Revised Penal Code
without any attending mitigating or aggravating circumstance
and, applying the Indeterminate Sentence Law, hereby
sentences her to a penalty of SIX (6) YEARS and TWO (2)
MONTHS of prision mayor as minimum to TEN (10) YEARS
and ONE (1) DAY of prision mayor as maximum. The accused
is further sentenced to pay complaining witness Napoleon
Aparicio the amount of P40,000, without subsidiary
imprisonment in case of insolvency, plus the costs of suit;
(3) In Crim. Case No. 2862-V-93, the Court finds accused
Marlene Olermo @ Marlene Tolentino guilty beyond
reasonable doubt and as principal of the crime of Estafa as
defined and penalized under paragraph 2(a) in relation to the
first paragraph of Article 315 of the Revised Penal Code
without any attending mitigating or aggravating circumstances
and, applying the Indeterminate Sentence Law, hereby
sentences her to a penalty of SIX (6) YEARS and TWO (2)
MONTHS of prision mayor as minimum to TEN (10) YEARS
and ONE (1) DAY of prision mayor as maximum. The accused
is further sentenced to pay complaining witness Mary Jane
Aquino-Villanueva the amount of P35,000, without subsidiary
imprisonment in case of insolvency, plus the costs of suit;
(4) In Crim. Case No. 2863-V-93, the Court finds accused
Marlene Olermo @ Marlene Tolentino guilty beyond
reasonable doubt and as principal of the crime of Estafa as
defined and penalized under paragraph 2(a) in relation to the
first paragraph of Article 315 of the Revised Penal Code
without any attending mitigating or aggravating circumstances
and, applying the Indeterminate Sentence Law, hereby
sentences her to a penalty of SIX (6) YEARS and TWO (2)
MONTHS of prision mayor as minimum to TEN (10) YEARS
and ONE (1) DAY of prision mayor as maximum. The accused
is further sentenced to pay complaining witness Ariston B.
Villanueva the amount of P35,000, without subsidiary
imprisonment in case of insolvency, plus the costs of suit;
(5) In Crim. Case No. 2864-V-93, the Court finds accused
Marlene Olermo @ Marlene Tolentino guilty beyond
reasonable doubt and as principal of the crime of Estafa as
defined and penalized under paragraph 2(a) in relation to the
first paragraph of Article 315 of the Revised Penal Code
without any attending mitigating or aggravating circumstances
and, applying the Indeterminate Sentence Law, hereby
sentences her to a penalty of TWO (2) YEARS, FOUR (4)
MONTHS and ONE (1) DAY of prision correccional as

minimum to SIX (6) YEARS and ONE (1) DAY of prision


mayor as maximum. The accused is further sentenced to pay
complaining witness Frennie Majarucon y Baco the amount
of P20,000, without subsidiary imprisonment in case of
insolvency, plus the costs of suit.
(6) In Crim. Case No. 2865-V-93, the Court finds accused
Marlene Olermo @ Marlene Tolentino guilty beyond
reasonable doubt and as principal of the crime of Estafa as
defined and penalized under paragraph 2(a) in relation to the
first paragraph of Article 315 of the Revised Penal Code
without any attending mitigating or aggravating circumstance,
and, applying the Indeterminate Sentence Law, hereby
sentences her to a penalty of FOUR (4) YEARS and TWO (2)
MONTHS of prision correccional as minimum to EIGHT (8)
YEARS of prision mayor as maximum. The accused is further
sentenced to pay complaining witness Alfred Bryant Berador y
Ochoa the amount of P25,350, without subsidiary
imprisonment in case of insolvency, plus the costs of suit.
SO ORDERED.[21]
Appeal followed and the following are assigned as errors:
I
The trial court gravely erred in giving full weight and credence
to the testimonies of the prosecution witnesses and in not
considering the defense interposed by the accused-appellant.
II
The court a quo gravely erred in convicting accused-appellant
of the crimes charged despite failure of the prosecution to
prove her guilt beyond reasonable doubt.
III
The court a quo gravely erred in finding the accusedappellant guilty beyond reasonable doubt of the crime of largescale recruitment despite its lack of jurisdiction.
IV
The court a quo gravely erred in disregarding the right of the
appellant to have a competent and independent counsel.
V
The court a quo gravely erred in finding the accusedappellant guilty beyond reasonable doubt for the crime of
estafa.
VI
The court a quo gravely erred in ordering the payment
of P35,000, to complainant Mary Jane Aquino
Villanueva; P35,000, to complainant Napoleon
Aparicio;P20,000, to complainant Frennie Majarucon
and P35,000, [sic] to complainant Alfred Bryant Berador.[22]

First and Second Issues: Credibility of Witnesses and


Proof Beyond
Reasonable Doubt in Illegal Recruitment in Large Scale
Appellant contends that the prosecution failed to prove
beyond reasonable doubt all the essential elements of the
crime of illegal recruitment in large scale. Furthermore, she
contends that her alleged act of illegally recruiting at least three
persons was not sufficiently established by the testimonies of
the witnesses for the prosecution.
Article 13, paragraph (b) of the Labor Code enumerates
the acts which constitute recruitment and placement:

(b) Recruitment and placement refer to any act of canvassing,


enlisting, contracting, transporting, utilizing, hiring, or procuring
workers, and includes referrals, contract services, promising or
advertising for employment, locally or abroad, whether for profit
or not: Provided, That any person or entity which, in any
manner, offers or promises for a fee employment to two or
more persons shall be deemed engaged in recruitment and
placement.
Appellants acts of promising, offering and assuring
employment overseas to complainants fall squarely within the
ambit of recruitment and placement as defined above. The fact
that she did not sign nor issue some of the receipts for
amounts received from complainants has no bearing on her
culpability. The complainants have shown through their
respective testimonies and evidence that she was indeed
involved in the prohibited recruitment. In fact, it was even
proven that appellant advertised her services in a newspaper.
Article 38 of the Labor Code renders illegal those
recruitment activities without the necessary license or authority
from the POEA. Article 38 provides:
Article 38. Illegal Recruitment. --- (a) Any recruitment activities,
including the prohibited practices enumerated under Article 34
of this Code, to be undertaken by non-licensees or non-holders
of authority shall be deemed illegal and punishable under
Article 39 of this Code. The Department of Labor and
Employment or any law enforcement officer may initiate
complaints under this Article.
(b) Illegal Recruitment when committed by a syndicate or in
large scale shall be considered an offense involving economic
sabotage and shall be penalized in accordance with Article 39
hereof.
Illegal recruitment is deemed committed by a syndicate if
carried out by a group of three (3) or more persons conspiring
and/or confederating with one another in carrying out any
unlawful or illegal transaction, enterprise or scheme defined
under the first paragraph hereof. Illegal recruitment is deemed
committed in large scale if committed against three (3) or more
persons individually or as a group. x x x.
Article 39 of the Labor Code, in turn, provides:
Article 38. Illegal Recruitment. --- (a) The penalty of life
imprisonment and a fine of One Hundred Thousand Pesos
(P100,000) shall be imposed if illegal recruitment constitutes
economic sabotage as defined herein; x x x.
The elements of illegal recruitment in large scale are: (1)
the person undertakes any recruitment activity defined under
Article 13, paragraph (b), or any prohibited practice
enumerated under Article 34 of the Labor Code; (2) said
person does not have a license or authority to engage in the
recruitment and placement of workers; and (3) the act is
committed against three or more persons, individually or as a
group.[23]
All these three elements were proven by the prosecution
beyond reasonable doubt. First, the complaining witnesses
have satisfactorily established that appellant promised them
employment
and
assured
them
of
placement
overseas. Appellant even had her office advertised in a
newspaper, undoubtedly to reach more people seeking jobs
abroad. Second, appellant did not have any license to recruit
persons for overseas work. The Licensing Division of the
POEA issued a certification to this effect. Third, appellant
undertook the recruitment of not less than three workers. The
complainants herein were recruited individually on different
occasions. The law applies whether the workers were recruited
individually or as a group.
It is not material that complainants Mary Jane Aquino
Villanueva and Wilfredo Tubale were not presented in court to
substantiate their claims against appellant. The law applies if
appellant committed the illegal act against at least three
persons, individually or as a group. In the case at bar, the
prosecution proved beyond reasonable doubt that at least

three persons were recruited by appellant: Ariston B.


Villanueva, Alfred Bryant Berador and Frennie Majarucon.
With respect to the credibility of these witnesses, it is
settled that where the issue is on credibility, the findings of the
trial court will generally not be disturbed. The trial court has the
advantage of hearing the witnesses and observing their
conduct during trial, circumstances that carry great weight in
appreciating credibility.[24] The trial court is thus in a better
position to settle such an issue.

Third Issue: Jurisdiction


or Venue
The defense argues that appellant cannot be convicted of
large scale illegal recruitment because the alleged prohibited
acts against complainants were committed beyond the
jurisdiction of the Regional Trial Court of Valenzuela. She
points out that in complainant Villanuevas affidavit, he stated
that he first met appellant in her residence in Quezon
City. However, during complainant Villanuevas testimony in
court, he stated that he first met appellant in her office in
Valenzuela.
The Rules of Court provide that in all criminal
prosecutions, the action shall be instituted and tried in the court
of the municipality or province wherein the offense was
committed or any of the essential ingredients thereof took
place.[25] In the case at bar, the prosecution proved that the
element of offering, promising, and advertising overseas
employment to the complainants took place in appellants office
in Valenzuela.Furthermore, it is elementary that jurisdiction in
criminal cases is determined by the allegations in the
information.[26] In this case, the information filed against
appellant for illegal recruitment in large scale clearly placed
the locus criminis in Valenzuela. As stated earlier, it was in
Valenzuela where the complainants were offered or promised
overseas employment by appellant. Furthermore, based on the
prosecutions evidence, the Court is sufficiently convinced that
at least one element of the crime of illegal recruitment in large
scale took place in Valenzuela. Where some acts material and
essential to the crime and requisite to its consummation occur
in one province or city and some in another, the court of either
province or city has jurisdiction to try the case, it being
understood that the court first taking cognizance of the case
will exclude the others.[27]

Fourth Issue: Right to Competent Counsel


Appellant, next maintains that the court a quo gravely
erred in disregarding her right to a competent and independent
counsel. Appellant notes that during the presentation of the
prosecutions first witness on August 11, 1993, appellant was
represented by Atty. Hortensio Domingo, who was not her
retained counsel for the case. During the hearing, Atty.
Domingo manifested that appellant herself requested him to
represent her in that days hearing since her counsel, Atty.
Yuseco, was still in Cagayan. During the second, third, fourth,
and fifth hearings, appellant was represented by another
counsel, a de oficio one, a certain Atty. Ricardo Perez, again
because counsel for appellant was not around. Because of
these instances, appellant claims that she was deprived of her
right to competent counsel because the lawyers who
represented her in the abovementioned hearings were not
familiar with her case and, hence, were not able adequately to
protect her interests.
Article III, Section 12, paragraph (1) of the Constitution
provides:
Any person under investigation for the commission of an
offense shall have the right x x x to have competent and
independent counsel preferably of his own choice. x x x.
The right to counsel is intended to preclude the slightest
coercion as would lead the appellant to admit something false.
[28]
Moreover, the words preferably of his own choice do not

mean that the choice of a lawyer by appellant is exclusive as to


preclude other equally competent and independent attorneys
from handling the defense. If this were so, the tempo of justice
would be solely within the control of appellant who could
choose to impede the judicial process by simply selecting a
lawyer who, for one reason or another, is not available to
defend her.

Fifth and Sixth Issues: Proof Beyond Reasonable Doubt in


the
Charges of Estafa, and the Order of Payment
Five separate informations were filed against appellant
charging her of violating subdivision 2(a) of Article 315 of the
Revised Penal Code. Except for the names of the offended
parties, the dates of the commission of the crime, and the
amounts involved, all informations were similarly worded:
That sometime in the month of February 1993 or thereabouts
in Valenzuela, Metro Manila and within the jurisdiction of this
Honorable Court, the above-named accused, defrauded and
deceived one NAPOLEON APARICIO y CLEMENTE in the
following manner to wit: said accused by means of false
manifestations and fraudulent representation made to the said
complainant to the effect that she has the capacity and power
to recruit and employ complainant abroad and facilitate the
necessary amount to meet the requirements thereof, knowing
said manifestations and representation to be false and
fraudulent and made only to induce said complainant to give,
as in fact, the latter did give and deliver to said appellant cash
money amounting to P40,000, but said accused, once
in possession of the same, with intent to defraud and deceive
the herein complainant, did then and there wilfully, unlawfully
and feloniously misapply, misappropriate and convert [the
same] to her own personal use and benefit, [and] despite
demands made upon her to return the said amount of P40,000,
said accused failed and refused and still fails and refuses to do
so, to the damage and prejudice of the complainant in the
aforementioned amount of P40,000.
Contrary to Law.[29]
Except in Criminal Case No. 2862-V093, the prosecution
was able to prove beyond reasonable doubt appellants guilt in
the cases of estafa.
Subdivision 2(a) of Article 315 of the Revised Penal Code
lists ways by which estafa may be committed:
2. By means of any of the following pretenses or fraudulent
acts executed prior to or simultaneously with the commission
of the fraud:
(a) By using fictitious name, or falsely pretending to possess
power, influence, qualifications, property, credit, agency,
business or imaginary transactions; or by means of other
similar deceits.
There are three ways of committing estafa under this
provision: (1) by using a fictitious name; (2) by falsely
pretending to possess power, influence, qualifications,
property, credit, agency, business or imaginary transactions;
and (3) by means of other similar deceits. Under this class of
estafa, the element of deceit is indispensable. Such deceit
consists of the false statement or fraudulent representation of
the appellant, which was made prior to, or at least
simultaneously with, the delivery of the thing by the
complainant, it being essential that such false statement or
fraudulent representation constitutes the very cause or the only
motive which induces the complainant to part with the thing of
value. If there is no prior or simultaneous false statement or
fraudulent representation, any subsequent act of appellant,
however fraudulent and suspicious it may appear, cannot serve
as a basis for prosecution for this class of estafa.
The Solicitor General, correctly states in the appellees
brief, that all the elements of the abovementioned crime have
been established beyond reasonable doubt. Appellant
represented herself, personally and by way of the

advertisement in the newspaper, that she can provide


complainants with work abroad. Hence, relying on her
representations, complainants parted with their money and
delivered the same to appellant. The truth, however, was that
appellant never had the license from the POEA to recruit
persons for overseas employment. Complainants were never
given any employment abroad and thus they suffered damage
by reason of appellants illegal acts.
We note, however, that in Criminal Case No. 2863-V-93,
the trial court only ordered appellant to pay complainant Ariston
B. Villanueva a total amount of P35,000 in actual
damages. The fundamental principle of the law on damages is
that one injured by a breach of contract or by a wrongful or
negligent act or omission shall have a fair and just
compensation, commensurate with the loss sustained as a
consequence of the defendants acts. Actual damages are such
compensation or damages for an injury that will put the injured
party in the position in which he had been before he was
injured. They pertain to such injuries or losses that are actually
sustained and susceptible of measurement.[30] To justify an
award of actual damages, there must be competent proof of
the actual amount of loss. Credence can be given only to
claims which are duly supported by receipts.[31] In this case, it
was duly proven by the receipts presented by complainant
Villanueva and his testimony during trial that he handed
appellant a total amount of P70,000 and only got
back P19,000. Hence, correction of the trial courts award is
called for. Appellant should be ordered to pay complainant
Ariston B. Villanueva the total amount of P51,000 in actual
damages in Criminal Case No. 2863-V-93.
Correction of the trial courts penalty imposed upon
appellant in Criminal Case No. 2863-V-93 is therefore likewise
called for. Article 315 of the Revised Penal Code provides:
Article 38. Swindling (estafa). ---Any person who shall defraud
another by any of the means mentioned hereinbelow shall be
punished by:
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 P12,000 but does not exceedP22,000; 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 additionalP10,000; 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; x x x.
Hence, applying the Indeterminate Sentence Law, the
accused in Criminal Case No. 2863-V-93 shall be sentenced to
a penalty of four (4) years and two (2) months of prision
correccional as minimum to ten (10) years of prision mayor as
maximum.
With respect to Criminal Case No. 2862-V093, the
prosecution failed to fulfill its duty to produce evidence showing
appellants guilt beyond reasonable doubt of the charges of
estafa committed against Mary Jane Aquino-Villanueva.
Absolute certainty of guilt is not demanded by the law to
convict of any criminal charge but moral certainty is required,
and this certainty is required as to every proposition of proof
requisite to constitute the offense.[32] In the said criminal case
for estafa, no proof whatsoever was adduced by the
prosecution. The offended party, Mary Jane Aquino-Villanueva,
was not even asked to testify in open court.
WHEREFORE, judgment is hereby rendered as follows:
I. The judgment of the trial court in Criminal Case No.
2860-V-93 finding appellant Marlene Olermo a.k.a. Marlene
Tolentino guilty of Illegal Recruitment in Large Scale and
sentencing her to life imprisonment, as well as to pay a fine of
One Hundred Thousand Pesos (P100,000) is AFFIRMED.
II. The judgments in Criminal Cases Nos. 2861-V-93,
2864-V-93 and 2865-V-93, finding appellant guilty beyond
reasonable doubt of four separate offenses of estafa are
AFFIRMED in toto.

III. The judgment in Criminal Case No. 2863-V-93 finding


appellant guilty beyond reasonable doubt of estafa is
MODIFIED, insofar as appellant is hereby sentenced to FOUR
(4) YEARS and TWO (2) MONTHS of prision correccional as
minimum to TEN (10) YEARS of prision mayor as maximum
and that appellant is further ordered to pay complainant Ariston
B. Villanueva the amount of P51,000, without subsidiary
imprisonment in case of insolvency, plus costs of suit.
IV. The judgment in Criminal Case No. 2862-V-93 is
REVERSED and appellant is ACQUITTED from the charge of
estafa.
Costs de oficio.
SO ORDERED.
Davide, Jr., C.J., (Chairman), Vitug, Ynares-Santiago,
and Carpio, JJ., concur.

FIRST DIVISION

[A.M. No. MTJ-04-1556. March 31, 2005]

PURITA LIM, complainant, vs. JUDGE CESAR M. DUMLAO,


Municipal
Trial
Court,
San
Mateo,
Isabela,respondent.
DECISION
YNARES-SANTIAGO, J:
In a verified letter-complaint[1] dated June 5, 2003,
complainant Purita Lim charged respondent Judge Cesar M.
Dumlao of the Municipal Trial Court of San Mateo, Isabela, with
Gross Ignorance of the Law and Grave Abuse of Authority.
Complainant averred that she filed two criminal cases for
carnapping and theft with the Regional Trial Court of Santiago
City, Isabela, Branch 35, against a certain Herman A. Medina.
On May 8, 2003, Medina was apprehended and detained at
the Bureau of Jail Management and Penology, Santiago City
Jail, by virtue of a Warrant of Arrest issued by then Presiding
Judge Fe Albano Madrid of Branch 35.
On May 9, 2003, respondent judge issued three separate
orders for the release of Medina on the ground that he had
posted bail with his court. Complainant alleged that respondent
judge frequently approves bail bonds for cases filed in other
courts and outside the territorial jurisdiction of his court. He
also issues search warrants for implementation outside of his
courts jurisdiction which, resultantly, are often quashed and the
corresponding cases dismissed because the articles seized
were inadmissible as evidence.
As proof, complainant attached copies of Search Warrant
Nos. 2002-120,[2] 2002-173,[3] and 2002-180[4] issued by
respondent judge. Search Warrant No. 2002-120 was ordered
quashed on September 2, 2002[5] by Judge Anastacio Anghad
for being infirmed and fatally defective. The crime was
committed outside the territorial jurisdiction of the MTC of San
Mateo, Isabela and no compelling reasons were stated in the
application to justify its filing before the MTC of San Mateo,
Isabela. What is more, it was found that respondent judge did
not conduct a thorough and extensive inquiry to the deponent
and his witnesses as required by the Rules on Criminal
Procedure[6] in order to establish probable cause and the
justification for the application.
Search
Warrant
No.
2002-173
was
also
ordered[7] quashed by Judge Anghad on December 18, 2002
as probable cause was not actually ascertained and searching
questions and answers were not conducted. In another case,
Search Warrant No. 2002-180[8] was likewise quashed and the
articles seized by virtue of the warrant were declared
inadmissible in evidence[9] because the applicant failed to
prove extreme and compelling circumstances and the warrant

issued did not particularly describe the place to be searched


and the persons or things to be seized.
In view of these instances, complainant requested for an
investigation into the activities of respondent judge. On June
30, 2003, the Court Administrator referred the complaint to
respondent judge requiring his comment thereon within ten
days from receipt,[10] but he failed to file the required comment
notwithstanding his receipt of the order on July 28, 2003 as
evidenced by the Registry Return Receipt. The Court
Administrator sent a 1st Tracer[11] dated October 28, 2003 which
respondent judge received on November 19, 2003. On June
28, 2004, this Court resolved to require respondent judge to
show cause why he should not be disciplinarily dealt with or
held in contempt for his obdurate refusal to file his comment.
[12]
On December 8, 2004, with still no response from
respondent judge, the Court resolved to dispense with the
comment.[13]
The Office of the Court Administrator (OCA), through
Court Administrator Presbitero J. Velasco, Jr. and Deputy Court
Administrator Jose P. Perez, submitted to this Court a
Memorandum dated February 15, 2005. In said memorandum,
the Court was informed that respondent judge has been
charged in six (6) administrative cases, including the instant
case, to wit:
1. MTJ-01-1339 (Efren Morales vs. Judge Cesar
Dumlao) for Abuse of Authority. Respondent was
fined P5,000.00 in a decision dated February 13,
2002.
2. MTJ-01-1350 (Lorenzo Pascual, et al. vs. Judge
Cesar Dumlao) for Gross Negligence and Gross
Ignorance. Respondent fined P10,000.00 in a
decision dated July 20, 2001.
3. MTJ-03-1519 (Reynaldo Sinaon, Sr. vs. Judge
Cesar Dumlao) for Grave Abuse of Authority,
Misconduct, Dereliction of Duty and Ignorance of
the Law. The case is pending.
4. 03-1442-MTJ (Ester Barbero vs. Judge Cesar
Dumlao) for Abuse of Authority. The case is
pending.
5. 97-394-MTJ (Artemio Alivia vs. Judge Cesar
Dumlao) for Anomalous Reduction of Bailbond.
Case pending.
The OCAs evaluation stated:
The respondents failure to submit his comment as required is
further evidence of his defiance of directives issued by his
superiors. It is, furthermore, indicative of his admission of the
charges pending against him. Indeed, the practice of
respondent accepting and approving bail bonds of detained
persons who are charged of crimes in courts other than his
own constitutes gross ignorance of the law.
We believe, however, that in the determination of the penalty,
we should consider the fact that he presides over four (4)
courts to wit: MTC, San Mateo, Isabela as presiding judge;
MCTC, Alfonso-Lista-Aguinaldo as acting presiding judge;
MTC, Ilagan, Isabela as acting presiding judge, and MCTC of
Tumauini-Delfin Albano also as acting presiding judge.
Thus, the OCA recommended:
Respectfully submitted for the consideration of the Honorable
Court with the recommendations that the respondent Judge be
required to pay a fine of TEN THOUSAND PESOS
(P10,000.00) for his obdurate refusal to file his comment on the
complaint. Further, respondent judge be required to pay a fine
of TWENTY ONE THOUSAND PESOS (P21,000.00) and
warned that a repetition of the same offense will be dealt with
more drastically for approving bail bonds for accused persons
who were detained in places outside his territorial jurisdiction.
We agree with the recommendations of the OCA, except
as to the penalty.
Section 17, Rule 114 of the Rules of Criminal Procedure
provides:

Section 17. Bail, where filed. (a) Bail in the amount fixed may
be filed with the court where the case is pending, or, in the
absence or unavailability of the judge thereof, with any regional
trial court judge, metropolitan trial judge, municipal trial judge,
or municipal circuit trial judge in the province, city or
municipality. If the accused is arrested in a province, city or
municipality other than where the case is pending, bail may
also be filed with any Regional Trial Court of said place, or if no
judge thereof is available, with any metropolitan trial judge,
municipal trial judge, or municipal circuit trial judge therein.
It is not disputed that the criminal cases filed by
complainant against Herman Medina were pending before the
Regional Trial Court of Santiago City, Isabela, Branch 35. In
fact, the warrant of arrest was issued by Judge Fe Albano
Madrid, presiding judge of the said court. The order of release
therefore, on account of the posting of the bail, should have
been issued by that court, or in the absence or unavailability of
Judge Madrid, by another branch of an RTC in Santiago City.
In this case, however, there is no proof that Judge Madrid was
absent or unavailable at the time of the posting of the bail
bond. In fact, complainant Lim avers that on the day
respondent judge ordered the release of Medina, Judge Madrid
and all the judges of the RTC of Santiago City, Isabela were at
their respective posts.
It is elementary that a municipal trial court judge has no
authority to grant bail to an accused arrested outside of his
territorial jurisdiction. The requirements of Section 17(a), Rule
114 as quoted above must be complied with before a judge
may grant bail.[14] The Court recognizes that not every judicial
error bespeaks ignorance of the law and that, if committed in
good faith, does not warrant administrative sanction, but only in
cases within the parameters of tolerable misjudgment.
[15]
Where, however, the law is straightforward and the facts so
evident, not to know it or to act as if one does not know it
constitutes gross ignorance of the law.[16]
Respondent judge undeniably erred in approving the bail
and issuing the order of release. He is expected to know that
certain requirements ought to be complied with before he can
approve Medinas bail and issue an order for his release. The
law involved is rudimentary that it leaves little room for error. In
the case of Espaol and Suluen v. Mupas,[17] we have stated:
Thus, a judge who approves applications for bail of accused
whose cases were not only pending in other courts but who
were, likewise, arrested and detained outside his territorial
jurisdiction is guilty of gross ignorance of the law and violates
Rule 3.01 of the Code of Judicial Conduct. It must be
emphasized that the rules of procedure have been formulated
and promulgated by this Court to ensure the speedy and
efficient administration of justice. Failure to abide by these
rules undermines the wisdom behind them and diminishes
respect for the law. Judges should ensure strict compliance
therewith at all times in their respective jurisdictions.[18]
It is settled that one who accepts the exalted position of a
judge owes the public and the court the ability to be proficient
in the law and the duty to maintain professional competence at
all times.[19] When a judge displays an utter lack of familiarity
with the rules, he erodes the confidence of the public in the
courts. A judge owes the public and the court the duty to be
proficient in the law and is expected to keep abreast of laws
and prevailing jurisprudence. Ignorance of the law by a judge
can easily be the mainspring of injustice.[20]
Respondent judges predicament is further aggravated by
his unauthorized or irregular issuance of search warrants not
once but a number of times. To our mind, his violations cannot
be excused as mere lapses in judgment but blatant and
conscious disregard of basic rules of procedure.
Moreover, records show that he has been previously
charged and found guilty of similar charges. Respondent judge
has been previously fined Five Thousand Pesos for notarizing
the revocation of a Special Power of Attorney in violation of
Supreme Court Administrative Circular No. 1-90. [21] In another
case, he was found guilty of gross ignorance of the law and
negligence in the performance of duties for issuing a temporary
restraining order and granting a partys motion without the
benefit of a proper hearing. He was fined Ten Thousand Pesos.
[22]

Section 8, Rule 140 of the Rules of Court characterizes


gross ignorance of the law and procedure as a grave offense.
The penalties prescribed for such offense are: (1) Dismissal
from service, forfeiture of all or part of the benefits as the Court
may determine, and disqualification from reinstatement or
appointment to any public office, including government owned
or controlled corporations, provided, however, that the
forfeiture of benefits shall in no case include accrued leave
credits; (2) Suspension from office without salary and other
benefits for more than three (3) months but not exceeding six
(6) months; or (3) a fine of more than P20,000.00 but not
exceeding P40,000.00.
In Gomos, et al. v. Adiong,[23] the respondent judge
therein was suspended from office without salary and benefits
for six months after he was found guilty of gross ignorance of
the law. We took judicial notice that previously, he was fined in
the sum of P20,000.00 for gross ignorance of the law and
another P5,000.00 for gross ignorance of the law and grave
abuse of discretion.
In this case, respondent judge appears undeterred in
disregarding the law. He has continued to exhibit such
behavior that betray an unconcerned stance about the
previous penalties he has received and the warnings
previously given that any repetition of similar infractions shall
be dealt with more severely. Thus, we are imposing a penalty
more severe than a fine. Given the circumstances, suspension
from office for six (6) months without salary and benefits is
reasonable.
We agree with the OCA that the respondent judge must
be held administratively liable for his unjustified failure to
comment on an administrative complaint. This constitutes
gross misconduct and insubordination. We held in Imbang v.
Del Rosario, that:
The office of the judge requires him to obey all the lawful
orders of his superiors. It is gross misconduct, even outright
disrespect for the Court, for respondent judge to exhibit
indifference to the resolution requiring him to comment on the
accusations in the complaint thoroughly and substantially. After
all, a resolution of the Supreme Court should not be construed
as a mere request, and should be complied with promptly and
completely. Such failure to comply accordingly betrays not only
a recalcitrant streak in character, but also disrespect for the
Courts lawful order and directive. (Emphasis supplied)[24]
In that case, we fined the judge in the amount of
P10,000.00 for his failure to comply with our directives. In the
present case, a fine of Ten Thousand Pesos (P10,000.00) as
recommended by the OCA is reasonable penalty for
respondent judges repeated failure to file his comment on the
complaint.
WHEREFORE, premises considered, respondent Judge
Cesar M. Dumlao of the Municipal Trial Court of San Mateo,
Isabela, is found GUILTY of Gross Ignorance of the Law and
Grave Abuse of Authority and is hereby SUSPENDED from
office for a period of six (6) months without salary and other
benefits with a WARNING that a repetition of the same shall
merit a more serious penalty. He is likewise FINED the amount
of Ten Thousand Pesos (P10,000.00) for his obstinate failure to
file comment on the complaint filed against him despite proper
notice.
SO ORDERED.
Davide,
JJ., concur.

Jr.,

C.J.,

Quisumbing,

Carpio, and Azcuna,

FIRST DIVISION

[A.M. No. MTJ-01-1384. April 11, 2002]

RASMIA U. TABAO, complainant, vs. ACTING PRESIDING


JUDGE ACMAD T. BARATAMAN, MTCC, BRANCH
1, MARAWI CITY, respondent.
DECISION
PUNO, J.:
The present administrative case stems from an affidavitcomplaint[1] filed by complainant Rasmia U. Tabao charging
respondent Judge Acmad Barataman, in his capacity as acting
presiding judge of MTCC, Branch 1, Marawi City, with gross
ignorance of the law and grave abuse of discretion.
Complainant Rasmia Tabao is the private complainant in
Criminal Case No. 9106 entitled "People vs. Samsodin M.
Tabao" for abandonment of minor. It appears that on July 16,
1998, respondent judge issued an Order[2] granting the motion
for bail on recognizance filed by the father of the accused
pursuant to R.A. No. 6036.The motion of the prosecution to
cancel bail on the ground that accused is a certified public
accountant and can afford to post cash bond was denied by
respondent judge in an Order dated June 30, 1999, [3] stating
that the law, in allowing bail on recognizance, does not
distinguish whether an accused is rich or poor.
Complainant avers that respondent committed grave
abuse of discretion in granting the motion for bail on
recognizance because (1) it was filed not by the accused but
by his father, Hadji Yusoph Tabao; (2) the prosecutor was not
furnished a copy of the motion and there was no hearing
conducted; (3) it lacked the sworn statement of the accused
signed in the presence of two witnesses; and (4) the motion
and its supporting affidavit were signed by the father of the
accused. Complainant also contends that the accused is not
poor but is a certified public accountant and operates a
transport business in Metro Manila. Thus, it is urged that he
should not have been released on recognizance since he could
put up a cash bond.
In his comment, respondent judge alleges that the crime
of abandonment of a minor is covered by the Rules on
Summary Procedure and hence bail on recognizance is not
required as the court can immediately arraign and try the
accused, pursuant to Section 13 of the Rules; that if he were
the acting judge when the criminal case was filed, he would not
issue a warrant of arrest but order the immediate arraignment
and trial of the case and there would be no need to discuss the
matter of bail; and, that the court can appoint as custodian of
the accused his father, a former City Councilor of Marawi City,
who qualifies as a responsible person under Section 15, Rule
144 of the Rules of Court.
On November 6, 2001, Court Administrator Presbitero J.
Velasco, Jr. submitted a Memorandum[4] finding respondent
judge guilty of gross ignorance of the law for releasing the
accused on recognizance before it could acquire jurisdiction
over his person. The accused was still at large when the
motion for bail was filed. He likewise found the respondent
judge to have violated R.A. No. 6036. He ratiocinated: first, the
law requires that the accused sign in the presence of two
witnesses of good standing in the community a sworn
statement binding himself, pending final decision of his case, to
report to the Clerk of Court hearing the case periodically every
two weeks. No such sworn statement was executed by the
accused and; second, in order to be released on recognizance,
the accused must be unable to post bail bond. The accused is
a CPA and can afford to post bond. The Court Administrator
recommends that respondent judge be ordered to pay a fine
of P20,000.00, considering that it is his first offense, with a
warning that a repetition of the same or similar offense shall be
dealt with more severely.
We agree with the finding of the Office of the Court
Administrator. The respondent judge is liable in granting the
motion for bail on recognizance in clear violation of R.A. No.
6036, for the following reasons:
First. Section 1 of R.A. No. 6036 provides that "any
provision of law to the contrary notwithstanding, bail shall not
be required of a person charged with violation of a criminal
offense the prescribed penalty for which is not higher than six
months imprisonment and/or a fine of two thousand pesos, or
both." Instead of bail, Section 2 states that the person charged

"shall be required to sign in the presence of two witnesses of


good standing in the community a sworn statement binding
himself, pending final decision of his case, to report to the
Clerk of Court hearing his case periodically every two
weeks. The Court may, in its discretion and with the consent of
the person charged, require further that he be placed under the
custody and subject to the authority of a responsible citizen in
the community who may be willing to accept the
responsibility. In such a case the affidavit herein mentioned
shall include a statement of the person charged that he binds
himself to accept the authority of the citizen so appointed by
the Court."
In the present case, it is not disputed that the sworn
statement supporting the motion for bail filed before
respondent judge was signed, not by the accused but by his
father. The failure of the accused to sign the sworn statement
is in clear contravention of the express mandate of the law that
the person charged shall sign a sworn statement binding
himself to report to the Clerk of Court. This is a personal
obligation imposed by R.A. No. 6036 on the accused and
cannot be assumed by the custodian or responsible citizen
who may be appointed by the court. It is different from Section
15, Rule 114 of the Rules of Criminal Procedure which allows
the release of the accused on his own recognizance or that of
a responsible person. R.A. No. 6036 applies to criminal cases
where the prescribed penalty is not higher than six months
imprisonment and/or a fine of P2,000.00, or both. In the case
at bar, accused stands charged with abandonment of a minor
which carries with it the imposable penalty of arresto
mayor and/or a fine of P500.00. Hence, it was erroneous for
respondent judge to have granted the motion for bail on the
basis of the affidavit of the father of the accused.
Moreover, R.A. No. 6036 allows the release of the
accused on his own recognizance only where it has been
established that he is unable to post the required cash or bail
bond. The accused in this case is a CPA who is engaged in the
transport business. We reject the contention of respondent
judge that the law does not distinguish whether the accused is
rich or poor. The distinction is all to clear for the law explicitly
provides that the accused can be released on his own
recognizance only if he is able to clearly establish that he is
unable to post cash or bail bond.
We reiterate the rule that although a judge may not be
subjected to disciplinary action for every erroneous order or
decision he renders, that relative immunity is not a license to
be negligent or abusive and arbitrary in performing his
adjudicatory prerogatives. Judges who wantonly misuse the
powers vested in them by law cannot render fair and impartial
justice.
Second. Respondent judge does not deny that the
accused in Criminal Case No. 9106 was at large when the
motion for bail on recognizance was filed and subsequently
granted. Bail is the security given for the release of a person in
custody of the law.[5] Section 15, Rule 114 of the Revised Rules
of Criminal Procedure provides that the court may release a
person in custody on his own recognizance or that of a
responsible person. It is a basic principle that bail is intended
to obtain provisional liberty and cannot be granted before
custody of an accused has been acquired by the judicial
authorities by his arrest or voluntary surrender. It is self-evident
that a court cannot grant provisional liberty to one who is
actually in the enjoyment of his liberty for it would be
incongruous to give freedom to one who is free. Thus, we have
held that it is premature to file a motion for bail for someone
whose liberty has yet to be curtailed.[6]
In the case at bar, respondent judge was fully cognizant
that the court had not yet acquired jurisdiction over the person
of the accused who was still at large and yet, he entertained
and granted his motion for bail. In doing so, respondent judge
violated a tenet in criminal procedure which is too basic as to
constitute gross ignorance of the law. When the law violated is
elementary, a judge is subject to disciplinary action.[7]
Indeed, the Code of Judicial Conduct enjoins judges to be
faithful to the law and maintain professional competence. A
judge is called upon to exhibit more than just a cursory
acquaintance with statutes and procedural rules; it is
imperative that he be conversant with basic legal principles
and be aware of well-settled authoritative doctrines. He should
strive for excellence exceeded only by his passion for truth, to

the end that he be the personification of justice and the Rule of


Law.[8]
In the case of Comia vs. Antona,[9] we found respondent
judge liable for gross ignorance of the law for entertaining an
application for bail even though the court had not yet acquired
jurisdiction over the accused. He was fined P20,000.00 with a
stern warning that a repetition of the same or similar acts shall
be dealt with more severely.

Complainant immediately filed a petition for certiorari


before the Court of Appeals challenging the issuance of the
warrant of arrest. The Court of Appeals issued a temporary
restraining order enjoining the trial court from enforcing the
said warrant. Accordingly, respondent Judge issued an Order
on June 25, 2002, deferring the resolution of the Very Urgent
Motion until after the expiration of the TRO issued by the Court
of Appeals. Thereafter, the petition was dismissed by the Court
of Appeals for lack of merit.

WHEREFORE, the Court finds respondent Judge Acmad


T. Barataman liable for gross ignorance of the law and imposes
upon him a fine of P20,000.00 with a stern warning that a
repetition of the same or similar acts shall be dealt with more
severely.

On August 20, 2002, complainant filed a motion for


respondent Judges inhibition. Two days after, i.e., on August
22, respondent Judge issued the assailed warrant of arrest
against complainant. Meanwhile, complainant through counsel
filed a Notice of Change of Address.

SO ORDERED.
Davide, Jr., C.J., (Chairman), Kapunan, and YnaresSantiago, JJ., concur.

FIRST DIVISION

[A.M. No. RTJ-04-1852. June 3, 2004]

WILFREDO M. TALAG, complainant, vs. JUDGE AMOR A.


REYES, Regional Trial Court, Manila Branch
21,respondent.
DECISION
YNARES-SANTIAGO, J.:
This is an administrative complaint filed against Judge
Amor A. Reyes of the Regional Trial Court, Manila for partiality,
grave abuse of authority and oppression in connection with
Criminal Case No. 02-201852 entitled People of the
Philippines v. Wilfredo Talag.
The instant case arose when, on April 18, 2001, a certain
Romeo Lacap filed a complaint against Wilfredo Talag, Leticia
Talag and Kenneth Bautista, for violation of Batas Pambansa
Blg. 22 and Estafa occasioned by the dishonor of four checks.
On June 4, 2001, during the preliminary investigation,
Wilfredo Talag, Leticia Talag, and Kenneth Bautista, submitted
their counter-affidavits denying any participation in the
transaction allegedly perpetrated by them to defraud the
complainant.
On December 15, 2001, the Assistant City Prosecutor
issued a Resolution recommending the filing of an Information
for Estafa against herein complainant and the dismissal of all
the charges against Leticia Talag and Kenneth Bautista. The
Information was filed with the RTC of Manila, Branch 21,
presided by respondent Judge Amor A. Reyes, and docketed
as Criminal Case No. 02-201852.
On May 7, 2002, complainant filed a motion for
reconsideration before the Office of the City Prosecutor,
praying for the dismissal of the complaint against him for utter
lack of merit. On even date, he filed an Omnibus Motion before
the trial court: (1) to defer issuance of warrant of arrest and/or
to recall the same if already issued; and (2) to remand case to
the Office of the City Prosecutor pending review of the motion
for reconsideration.
On May 31, 2002, complainant filed with the trial court a
Very Urgent Motion to Set for Hearing Accuseds Omnibus
Motion to defer issuance of warrant of arrest and/or to remand
case to the Office of the City Prosecutor pending review of the
motion for reconsideration.
According to complainant, on June 11, 2002, he
requested his counsel to determine whether the hearing for the
pending motions had already been set. To his consternation,
he was told by his counsel that respondent Judge ordered the
issuance of a warrant of arrest without first resolving the said
motions.

On September 30, 2002, complainant filed a Very Urgent


Motion to Consider Motion to Remand Case to the Office of the
City Prosecutor pending Review of the Motion for
Reconsideration and Motion for Re-investigation and to
Resolve the Same with Urgency. On October 2, 2002, he filed
a Motion to Resolve Motion for Inhibition.
Respondent Judge denied the motion for inhibition and
set
the
case
for
arraignment
on December
11,
2002. Complainant claims that said order never reached him or
his counsel since it was sent by registered mail to his previous
address at No. 1 Zaragosa Street, San Lorenzo Village, Makati
City, inspite of the Notice of Change Address which was filed
as early as August 28, 2002.
Since complainant failed to attend his arraignment
allegedly due to lack of notice, respondent Judge reset the
same to January 22, 2003. However, the second notice was
again sent to the wrong address at Makati City, again resulting
in complainants failure to attend his arraignment. As a
consequence, respondent judge issued a bench warrant of
arrest.
Subsequently, complainant filed a Motion to Recall
Warrant of Arrest and a Very Urgent Motion for
Reconsideration. On February 28, 2003, an order was issued
by the respondent Judge which lifted the bench warrant but
denied the motion for reconsideration.
On May 12, 2003, complainant filed a verified complaint
before the Office of the Court Administrator charging
respondent Judge with partiality, grave abuse of authority and
oppression allegedly committed in the following manner:
(1) Respondent Judge issued the warrant of arrest
on May 23, 2003 despite complainants
pending omnibus motion to defer issuance of
warrant of arrest or to recall the same if
already issued and to remand case to Office
of the City Prosecutor, and the very urgent
motion to set for hearing the omnibus
motion;
(2) When the matter was elevated to the Court of
Appeals and a temporary restraining order
was issued, respondent seemed to have
waited for the TRO to expire and for the
dismissal of complainants petition before the
Court of Appeals because she did not
resolve the motion for inhibition, and she
immediately issued a warrant of arrest
against him after said petition was
dismissed.
(3) Respondent had a predisposition to deny the
motions filed by complainant since, although
she was in haste in issuing the warrant of
arrest, she nonetheless dilly-dallied in
resolving the motions filed by complainant;
(4) Despite complainants notice for a change of
address, respondents order of November 18,
2002, setting his arraignment on December
11, 2002, was sent to his and counsels
former address resulting in his failure to
attend the arraignment;

(5) In the same way, the notice of the resetting of


arraignment from December 11,
2002 to January 22, 2003, was again sent to
the wrong address, such that he was not
notified of said scheduled arraignment. Such
lack of notice however, did not stop
respondent Judge from issuing a bench
warrant of arrest for his failure to appear on
the scheduled arraignment;
(6) Although respondent Judge lifted the said bench
warrant on February 28, 2003, she
nevertheless denied complainants motion for
reconsideration relative to the Order dated
November 2002 denying the motion for
inhibition;
(7) Respondent Judge exhibited partiality and
malevolent attitude when she did not only
deny all remedies available to complainant
but also uttered hostile side-comments
during hearings and even commented that
complainant was overly fond of filing
motions.[1]
In her comment, respondent Judge refuted the charges in
this wise:
(1) She did not consider the omnibus motion dated
May 7, 2002 filed by complainant because its
notice of hearing was addressed to the
Public Prosecutor, for which reason, she
issued the warrant of arrest on May 23,
2003;
(2) She issued the order dated June 25, 2002
deferring the resolution of complainants very
urgent motion to set the case for hearing in
view of the resolution of the Court of Appeals
dated June 14, 2002, enjoining her from
enforcing the warrant of arrest issued
against complainant;
(3) Since the trial court had not yet acquired
jurisdiction over the person of the
complainant when the court received the
motion to set the case for trial filed by Asst.
City Prosecutor, she again issued a warrant
of arrest against complainant;
(4) Respondents issuance of warrant of arrest
against complainant on May 23, 2002,
despite the filing of the omnibus motion and
the motion to set the omnibus motion for
hearing, was sustained by the Court of
Appeals in its decision dated August 14,
2002, dismissing complainants petition;
(5) Inasmuch as the trial court has not acquired
jurisdiction over the person of the
complainant, respondent, after the Court of
Appeals denied complainants petition and
lifted the 60-day TRO, ordered the issuance
of a warrant of arrest against complainant;
(6) Since it was only on October 17, 2002 that the
bail posted by complainant on September
26, 2002 for his provisional liberty before the
Executive Judge of RTC, Makati, was
received by respondent court, she could not
resolve the motion for inhibition considering
that the court has not acquired jurisdiction
over his person;
(7) Complainant is to blame for the delay in the
resolution of his motions because of his
penchant in filing defective motions and for
not immediately submitting himself to the
jurisdiction of the court;

(8) The issuance of a warrant of arrest and


confiscation of the bond of complainant
on January 22, 2003 was in accordance with
Sec. 21, Rule 114 of the Revised Rules on
Criminal procedure in view of complainants
failure to appear despite notice to him and
his bondsman. The notice of change of
address filed by complainant pertains to the
change of address of his counsel and not to
himself, hence, court processes were sent to
his alleged old address.Moreover, Produce
Orders of the December 11, 2002 and
January 22, 2003 settings were sent to
complainants bondsman, but this
notwithstanding, complainants bondsman
failed to produce him in court and it even
filed a motion of extension of time to do so;
(9) Complainants claim of bias and partiality on the
part of respondent in denying complainants
motion for reconsideration and motion to
inhibit is baseless and unfounded
considering that the assailed orders of the
respondent were made on the basis of law
and facts of the case.[2]
On August 8, 2003, the Office of the Court Administrator
submitted its recommendation for the dismissal of the
complaint for lack of merit.
We have closely scrutinized the arguments of the
contending parties and find the charges filed against
respondent are baseless.
The Information was filed on May 7, 2002 while the
warrant of arrest was issued May 23, 2003. When complainant
filed the omnibus motion onMay 7, 2002, the court has not yet
acquired jurisdiction over his person. With the filing of
Information, the trial court could then issue a warrant for the
arrest of the accused as provided for by Section 6 of Rule 112
of the Revised Rules on Criminal Procedure. The issuance of
the warrant was not only procedurally sound but it was even
required considering that respondent had yet to acquire
jurisdiction over the person of complainant. Consequently,
complainants charge that respondent Judge failed to act on the
omnibus motion before issuing the arrest warrant is untenable.
Whether respondent correctly disregarded the omnibus motion
in view of the alleged fatal defects is a judicial matter, which is
not a proper subject in an administrative proceeding. It bears
noting that respondent court immediately deferred the
execution of the warrant of arrest upon issuance by the Court
of Appeals of the TRO. Incidentally, although the Court of
Appeals issued a temporary restraining order, it eventually
sustained the issuance by respondent of the arrest warrant and
dismissed the petition for certiorari.
Neither can we ascribe partiality nor grave abuse of
authority on the part of respondent for issuing anew an alias
warrant after the expiration of the Court of Appeals 60-day
TRO. With the lifting of the retraining order, no legal obstacle
was left for the issuance of the arrest warrant and thus set in
motion the stalled prosecutorial process by acquiring
jurisdiction over the person of the accused.
Complainant blames the respondent for his failure to
appear at his arraignment because the notice was sent to the
wrong address despite a prior notice for change of address. A
cursory reading of the notice of change of address will show
that it pertains to the counsels residence, not to the
complainants. In view of this, it becomes reasonable for the
court to assume that court processes could be sent to
complainants old and unchanged residence. As correctly
pointed out by respondent Judge, the Produce Order of
the December 11, 2002 and January 22, 2003 settings were
sent to complainants bondsman. Hence, in accordance with
Sec. 21, Rule 114 of the Revised Rules of Court, his
bondsman must produce him before the court on the given
date and failing to do so; the bond was forfeited as it was.
On the matter of respondents denial of the motion for
inhibition, suffice it to say that the issue of whether a judge
should voluntarily inhibit himself is addressed to his sound
discretion pursuant to paragraph 2 of Section 1 of Rule 137,
which provides for the rule on voluntary inhibition and states: a

judge may, in the exercise of his sound discretion, disqualify


himself from sitting in a case, for a just or valid reasons other
than those above-mentioned. Taking together all the acts and
conduct of respondent Judge relative to complainants case, we
believe that she did not exhibit any bias or partiality to warrant
her voluntarily inhibition from the case. Curiously, while
complainant decries the alleged respondents predilection for
denying all his motions, he himself conceded that respondent
Judge has done everything pursuant to law and jurisprudence.
[3]
Bias and partiality cannot be presumed, for in administrative
proceedings no less than substantial proof is required. Apart
from bare allegations, there must be convincing evidence to
show that respondent Judge is indeed biased and partial. In
administrative proceedings, the burden of proof that
respondent Judge committed the act complained of rests on
the complainant.[4] Complainant failed to discharge this burden.

days from notice and the issuance must be


resolved by the court within thirty (30) days
from the filing of the complaint or
information.
x x x[1]

This Court finds from the records of Criminal Case No. 03219952 the following documents to support the motion of the
prosecution for the issuance of a warrant of arrest:
1.

The report of the National


Bureau of Investigation to Chief
State
Prosecutor Jovencito R. Zuo as
regards their investigation on the
complaint
filed
by
private
complainant
Manuel Dy Awiten against
Mina
Tan Hao @ Ma. Gracia TanHao and
Victor
Ngo
y
Tan
for
syndicated estafa. The
report
shows
that Hao induced Dy to
invest more than a hundred million
pesos
in
State
Resources
Development
Management
Corporation, but when the latters
investments fell due, the checks
issued by Hao in favor of Dy as
payment for his investments were
dishonored for being drawn against
insufficient funds or that the account
was closed.[2]

2.

Affidavit-Complaint of private
complainant Manuel Dy Awiten.[3]
Copies of the checks issued by
private complainant in favor of State
Resources Corporation.[4]

WHEREFORE, in view of the foregoing, the Court


resolves to adopt the recommendation of the Court
Administrator, and accordingly, DISMISS the instant complaint
for lack of merit.
SO ORDERED.
Davide,
Jr.,
C.J.,
(Chairman),
Carpio, and Azcuna, JJ., concur.

Panganiban,

SECOND DIVISION

CHESTER DE JOYA, G.R. No. 162416


Petitioner,
Present:
PUNO, J., Chairperson,
- versus - SANDOVAL-GUTIERREZ,
CORONA,
AZCUNA, and
GARCIA, JJ.
JUDGE PLACIDO C. MARQUEZ,
in his capacity as Presiding Judge of
Branch 40, Manila-RTC, PEOPLE Promulgated:
OF THE PHILIPPINES and THE
SECRETARY OF THE DEPARTMENT January 31, 2006
OF JUSTICE,
Respondents.
x----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------x

3.

4.

Copies of the checks issued to


private complainant representing
the supposed return of his
investments in State Resources.[5]

5.

Demand letter sent by private


complainant to Ma. Gracia Tan Hao.

DECISION
AZCUNA, J.:
This is a petition for certiorari and prohibition that seeks the
Court to nullify and set aside the warrant of arrest issued by
respondent judge against petitioner in Criminal Case No. 03219952 for violation of Article 315, par. 2(a) of the Revised
Penal Code in relation to Presidential Decree (P.D.) No.
1689. Petitioner asserts that respondent judge erred in finding
the existence of probable cause that justifies the issuance of a
warrant of arrest against him and his co-accused.
Section 6, Rule 112 of the Revised Rules of Criminal
Procedure provides:
Sec. 6. When warrant of arrest
may issue. (a) By the Regional Trial
Court. Within ten (10) days from the filing of
the complaint or information, the judge shall
personally evaluate the resolution of the
prosecutor and its supporting evidence. He
may immediately dismiss the case if the
evidence on record clearly fails to establish
probable cause. If he finds probable
cause, he shall issue a warrant of arrest,
or a commitment order if the accused has
already been arrested pursuant to a
warrant issued by the judge who
conducted the preliminary investigation
or when the complaint or information was
filed pursuant to section 7 of this Rule. In
case of doubt on the existence of probable
cause, the judge may order the prosecutor to
present additional evidence within five (5)

[6]

6.

Supplemental
Affidavit
of
private complainant to include the
incorporators and members of the
board of directors of State
Resources
Development
Management
Corporation
as
participants in the conspiracy to
commit
the
crime
of
syndicated estafa. Among
those
included was petitioner Chester
De Joya.[7]

7.

Counter-Affidavits of Chester
De Joya and the other accused,
Ma. Gracia Hao and Danny S. Hao.

Also included in the records are the resolution issued


by State Prosecutor Benny Nicdao finding probable cause to
indict petitioner and his other co-accused for syndicated estafa,
[8]
and a copy of the Articles of Incorporation of State
Resources Development Management Corporation naming
petitioner as incorporator and director of said corporation.
This Court finds that these documents sufficiently
establish the existence of probable cause as required under
Section 6, Rule 112 of the Revised Rules of Criminal
Procedure. Probable cause to issue a warrant of arrest
pertains to facts and circumstances which would lead a
reasonably discreet and prudent person to believe that an
offense has been committed by the person sought to be
arrested. It bears remembering that in determining probable

cause, the average man weighs facts and circumstances


without resorting to the calibrations of our technical rules of
evidence of which his knowledge is nil. Rather, he relies on the
calculus of common sense of which all reasonable men have
an abundance.[9] Thus, the standard used for the issuance of a
warrant of arrest is less stringent than that used for
establishing the guilt of the accused. As long as the evidence
presented shows a prima facie case against the accused, the
trial court judge has sufficient ground to issue a warrant of
arrest against him.
The foregoing documents found in the records and
examined by respondent judge tend to show that therein
private complainant was enticed to invest a large sum of
money in State Resources Development Management
Corporation; that he issued several checks amounting
to P114,286,086.14 in favor of the corporation; that the
corporation, in turn, issued several checks to private
complainant, purportedly representing the return of his
investments; that said checks were later dishonored for
insufficient funds and closed account; that petitioner and his
co-accused, being incorporators and directors of the
corporation, had knowledge of its activities and
transactions.These are all that need to be shown to establish
probable cause for the purpose of issuing a warrant of arrest. It
need not be shown that the accused are indeed guilty of the
crime charged. That matter should be left to the trial. It should
be emphasized that before issuing warrants of arrest, judges
merely determine personally the probability, not the certainty, of
guilt of an accused. Hence, judges do not conduct a de
novo hearing to determine the existence of probable
cause. They just personally review the initial determination of
the prosecutor finding a probable cause to see if it is supported
by substantial evidence.[10] In case of doubt on the existence of
probable cause, the Rules allow the judge to order the
prosecutor to present additional evidence. In the present case,
it is notable that the resolution issued by State Prosecutor
Benny Nicdao thoroughly explains the bases for his findings
that there is probable cause to charge all the accused with
violation of Article 315, par. 2(a) of the Revised Penal Code in
relation to P.D. No. 1689.
The general rule is that this Court does not review the
factual findings of the trial court, which include the
determination of probable cause for the issuance of warrant of
arrest. It is only in exceptional cases where this Court sets
aside the conclusions of the prosecutor and the trial judge on
the existence of probable cause, that is, when it is necessary
to prevent the misuse of the strong arm of the law or to protect
the orderly administration of justice. The facts obtaining in this
case do not warrant the application of the exception.
In addition, it may not be amiss to note that petitioner
is not entitled to seek relief from this Court nor from the trial
court as he continuously refuses to surrender and submit to the
courts jurisdiction. Justice Florenz D. Regaladoexplains the
requisites for the exercise of jurisdiction and how the court
acquires such jurisdiction, thus:
x x x Requisites for the exercise of
jurisdiction and how the court acquires such
jurisdiction:
a.
Jurisdiction over the
plaintiff or petitioner: This is acquired by the
filing of the complaint, petition or initiatory
pleading before the court by the plaintiff or
petitioner.

process issued by the court to him,


generally by the service of summons.
c.
Jurisdiction over the
subject matter: This is conferred by law and,
unlike jurisdiction over the parties, cannot be
conferred on the court by the voluntary act or
agreement of the parties.
d.
Jurisdiction over the
issues of the case: This is determined and
conferred by the pleadings filed in the case
by the parties, or by their agreement in a
pre-trial order or stipulation, or, at times by
their implied consent as by the failure of a
party to object to evidence on an issue not
covered by the pleadings, as provided in
Sec. 5, Rule 10.
e.
Jurisdiction
over
the res (or the property or thing which is the
subject of the litigation). This is acquired by
the actual or constructive seizure by the
court of the thing in question, thus placing it
in custodia legis, as in attachment or
garnishment; or by provision of law which
recognizes in the court the power to deal
with the property or subject matter within its
territorial jurisdiction, as in land registration
proceedings or suits involving civil status or
real property in the Philippines of a nonresident defendant.
Justice Regalado continues to explain:
In two cases, the court acquires jurisdiction
to try the case, even if it has not acquired
jurisdiction over the person of a nonresident
defendant, as long as it has jurisdiction over
the res, as when the action involves the
personal status of the plaintiff or property in
the Philippines in which the defendant claims
an interest. In such cases, the service of
summons by publication and notice to the
defendant is merely to comply with due
process requirements. Under Sec. 133 of the
Corporation
Code,
while
a
foreign
corporation
doing
business
in
the Philippines without a license cannot sue
or intervene in any action here, it may be
sued or proceeded against before our courts
or administrative tribunals.[11]
Again, there is no exceptional reason in this case to
allow petitioner to obtain relief from the courts without
submitting to its jurisdiction. On the contrary, his continued
refusal to submit to the courts jurisdiction should give this
Court more reason to uphold the action of the respondent
judge. The purpose of a warrant of arrest is to place the
accused under the custody of the law to hold him for trial of the
charges against him. His evasive stance shows an intent to
circumvent and frustrate the object of this legal process. It
should be remembered that he who invokes the courts
jurisdiction must first submit to its jurisdiction.
WHEREFORE, the petition is DISMISSED.
No costs.

b.
Jurisdiction over the
defendant
or
respondent: This
is
acquired by the voluntary appearance or
submission
by the defendant
or
respondent to the court or by coercive

SO ORDERED.