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EN

BANC
G.R. No. 206248, February 18, 2014
GRACE M. GRANDE, Petitioner, v. PATRICIO T. ANTONIO,
Respondent.
D E C I S I O N
VELASCO JR., J.:
Before this Court is a Petition for Review on Certiorari under
Rule 45, assailing the July 24, 2012 Decision1 and March 5,
2013 Resolution2 of the Court of Appeals (CA) in CAG.R. CV
No. 96406.
As culled from the records, the facts of this case are:
Petitioner Grace Grande (Grande) and respondent Patricio
Antonio (Antonio) for a period of time lived together as
husband and wife, although Antonio was at that time already
married to someone else.3 Out of this illicit relationship, two
sons were born: Andre Lewis (on February 8, 1998) and Jerard
Patrick (on October 13, 1999).4 The children were not
expressly recognized by respondent as his own in the Record
of Births of the children in the Civil Registry. The parties
relationship, however, eventually turned sour, and Grande left
for the United States with her two children in May 2007. This
prompted respondent Antonio to file a Petition for Judicial
Approval of Recognition with Prayer to take Parental
Authority, Parental Physical Custody, Correction/Change of
Surname of Minors and for the Issuance of Writ of Preliminary
Injunction before the Regional Trial Court, Branch 8 of Aparri,
Cagayan (RTC), appending a notarized Deed of Voluntary
Recognition of Paternity of the children.5
On September 28, 2010, the RTC rendered a Decision in favor
of herein respondent Antonio, ruling that [t]he evidence at

hand is overwhelming that the best interest of the children can


be promoted if they are under the sole parental authority and
physical custody of [respondent Antonio].6 Thus, the court a
quo decreed the following:
WHEREFORE, foregoing premises considered, the Court
hereby grants [Antonios] prayer for recognition and the same
is hereby judicially approved. x x x Consequently, the Court
forthwith issues the following Order granting the other reliefs
sought in the Petition, to wit:
a.
Ordering the Office of the City Registrar of the City of
Makati to cause the entry of the name of [Antonio] as the
father of the aforementioned minors in their respective
Certificate of Live Birth and causing the
correction/change and/or annotation of the
surnames of said minors in their Certificate of Live
Birth from Grande to Antonio;
b.
Granting [Antonio] the right to jointly exercise Parental
Authority with [Grande] over the persons of their minor
children, Andre Lewis Grande and Jerard Patrick Grande;
c. Granting [Antonio] primary right and immediate custody
over the parties minor children Andre Lewis Grandre and
Jerard Patrick Grande who shall stay with [Antonios]
residence in the Philippines from Monday until Friday
evening and to [Grandes] custody from Saturday to
Sunday evening;
d.
Ordering [Grande] to immediately surrender the persons
and custody of minors Andre Lewis Grande and Jerard
Patrick Grande unto [Antonio] for the days covered by the
Order;
e.
Ordering parties to cease and desist from bringing the
aforenamed minors outside of the country, without the
written consent of the other and permission from the
court.
f. Ordering parties to give and share the support of the minor

children Andre Lewis Grande and Jerard Patrick Grande


in the amount of P30,000 per month at the rate of 70%
for [Antonio] and 30% for [Grande].7 (Emphasis supplied.)
Aggrieved, petitioner Grande moved for reconsideration.
However, her motion was denied by the trial court in its
Resolution dated November 22, 20108 for being pro forma and
for lack of merit.
Petitioner Grande then filed an appeal with the CA attributing
grave error on the part of the RTC for allegedly ruling contrary
to the law and jurisprudence respecting the grant of sole
custody to the mother over her illegitimate children.9 In
resolving the appeal, the appellate court modified in part the
Decision of the RTC. The dispositive portion of the CA Decision
reads:
WHEREFORE, the appeal is partly GRANTED. Accordingly, the
appealed Decision of the Regional Trial Court Branch 8, Aparri
Cagayan in SP Proc. Case No. 114492 is MODIFIED in part and
shall hereinafter read as follows:
a.

The Offices of the Civil Registrar General and the City


Civil Registrar of Makati City are DIRECTED to enter
the surname Antonio as the surname of Jerard Patrick
and Andre Lewis, in their respective certificates of
live birth, and record the same in the Register of
Births;
b.
[Antonio] is ORDERED to deliver the minor children
Jerard Patrick and Andre Lewis to the custody of their
mother herein appellant, Grace Grande who by virtue
hereof is hereby awarded the full or sole custody of these
minor children;
c. [Antonio] shall have visitorial rights at least twice a week,
and may only take the children out upon the written
consent of [Grande]; and

d.

The parties are DIRECTED to give and share in support of


the minor children Jerard Patrick and Andre Lewis in the
amount of P30,000.00 per month at the rate of 70% for
[Antonio] and 30% for [Grande]. (Emphasis supplied.)
In ruling thus, the appellate court ratiocinated that
notwithstanding the fathers recognition of his children, the
mother cannot be deprived of her sole parental custody over
them absent the most compelling of reasons.10 Since
respondent Antonio failed to prove that petitioner Grande
committed any act that adversely affected the welfare of the
children or rendered her unsuitable to raise the minors, she
cannot be deprived of her sole parental custody over their
children.
The appellate court, however, maintained that the legal
consequence of the recognition made by respondent
Antonio that he is the father of the minors, taken in
conjunction with the universally protected bestinterest
ofthechild clause, compels the use by the children of the
surname ANTONIO.11
As to the issue of support, the CA held that the grant is legally
in order considering that not only did Antonio express his
willingness to give support, it is also a consequence of his
acknowledging the paternity of the minor children.12 Lastly,
the CA ruled that there is no reason to deprive respondent
Antonio of his visitorial right especially in view of the
constitutionally inherent and natural right of parents over
their children.13
Not satisfied with the CAs Decision, petitioner Grande
interposed a partial motion for reconsideration, particularly
assailing the order of the CA insofar as it decreed the change of
the minors surname to Antonio. When her motion was
denied, petitioner came to this Court via the present petition.

In it, she posits that Article 176 of the Family Codeas


amended by Republic Act No. (RA) 9255, couched as it is in
permissive languagemay not be invoked by a father to
compel the use by his illegitimate children of his surname
without the consent of their mother.
We find the present petition impressed with merit.
The sole issue at hand is the right of a father to compel the use
of his surname by his illegitimate children upon his recognition
of their filiation. Central to the core issue is the application of
Art. 176 of the Family Code, originally phrased as follows:
Illegitimate children shall use the surname and shall be under
the parental authority of their mother, and shall be entitled to
support in conformity with this Code. The legitime of each
illegitimate child shall consist of onehalf of the legitime of a
legitimate child. Except for this modification, all other
provisions in the Civil Code governing successional rights shall
remain in force.
This provision was later amended on March 19, 2004 by RA
925514 which now reads:
Art. 176. Illegitimate children shall use the surname and shall
be under the parental authority of their mother, and shall be
entitled to support in conformity with this Code. However,
illegitimate children may use the surname of their father if
their filiation has been expressly recognized by their
father through the record of birth appearing in the civil
register, or when an admission in a public document or private
handwritten instrument is made by the father. Provided, the
father has the right to institute an action before the regular
courts to prove nonfiliation during his lifetime. The legitime
of each illegitimate child shall consist of onehalf of the

legitime of a legitimate child. (Emphasis supplied.)


From the foregoing provisions, it is clear that the general rule
is that an illegitimate child shall use the surname of his or her
mother. The exception provided by RA 9255 is, in case his or
her filiation is expressly recognized by the father through the
record of birth appearing in the civil register or when an
admission in a public document or private handwritten
instrument is made by the father. In such a situation, the
illegitimate child may use the surname of the father.
In the case at bar, respondent filed a petition for judicial
approval of recognition of the filiation of the two children with
the prayer for the correction or change of the surname of the
minors from Grande to Antonio when a public document
acknowledged before a notary public under Sec. 19, Rule 132
of the Rules of Court15 is enough to establish the paternity of
his children. But he wanted more: a judicial conferment of
parental authority, parental custody, and an official declaration
of his childrens surname as Antonio.
Parental authority over minor children is lodged by Art. 176 on
the mother; hence, respondents prayer has no legal mooring.
Since parental authority is given to the mother, then custody
over the minor children also goes to the mother, unless she is
shown to be unfit.
Now comes the matter of the change of surname of the
illegitimate children. Is there a legal basis for the court a quo to
order the change of the surname to that of respondent?
Clearly, there is none. Otherwise, the order or ruling will
contravene the explicit and unequivocal provision of Art. 176
of the Family Code, as amended by RA 9255.
Art. 176 gives illegitimate children the right to decide if they

want to use the surname of their father or not. It is not the


father (herein respondent) or the mother (herein petitioner)
who is granted by law the right to dictate the surname of their
illegitimate children.
Nothing is more settled than that when the law is clear and free
from ambiguity, it must be taken to mean what it says and it
must be given its literal meaning free from any
interpretation.16 Respondents position that the court can
order the minors to use his surname, therefore, has no legal
basis.
On its face, Art. 176, as amended, is free from ambiguity. And
where there is no ambiguity, one must abide by its words. The
use of the word may in the provision readily shows that an
acknowledged illegitimate child is under no compulsion to
use the surname of his illegitimate father. The word may
is permissive and operates to confer discretion17 upon the
illegitimate children.
It is best to emphasize once again that the yardstick by which
policies affecting children are to be measured is their best
interest. On the matter of childrens surnames, this Court has,
time and again, rebuffed the idea that the use of the fathers
surname serves the best interest of the minor child. In Alfon v.
Republic,18 for instance, this Court allowed even a legitimate
child to continue using the surname of her mother rather than
that of her legitimate father as it serves her best interest and
there is no legal obstacle to prevent her from using the
surname of her mother to which she is entitled. In fact, in
Calderon v. Republic,19 this Court, upholding the best interest of
the child concerned, even allowed the use of a surname
different from the surnames of the childs father or mother.
Indeed, the rule regarding the use of a childs surname is
second only to the rule requiring that the child be placed in the

best possible situation considering his circumstances.


In Republic of the Philippines v. Capote,20 We gave due
deference to the choice of an illegitimate minor to use the
surname of his mother as it would best serve his interest, thus:
The foregoing discussion establishes the significant connection
of a persons name to his identity, his status in relation to his
parents and his successional rights as a legitimate or
illegitimate child. For sure, these matters should not be taken
lightly as to deprive those who may, in any way, be affected by
the right to present evidence in favor of or against such change.
The law and facts obtaining here favor Giovannis petition.
Giovanni availed of the proper remedy, a petition for change of
name under Rule 103 of the Rules of Court, and complied with
all the procedural requirements. After hearing, the trial court
found (and the appellate court affirmed) that the evidence
presented during the hearing of Giovannis petition sufficiently
established that, under Art. 176 of the Civil Code, Giovanni is
entitled to change his name as he was never recognized by his
father while his mother has always recognized him as her
child. A change of name will erase the impression that he was
ever recognized by his father. It is also to his best interest as
it will facilitate his mothers intended petition to have him
join her in the United States. This Court will not stand in
the way of the reunification of mother and son. (Emphasis
supplied.)
An argument, however, may be advanced advocating the
mandatory use of the fathers surname upon his recognition of
his illegitimate children, citing the Implementing Rules and
Regulations (IRR) of RA 9255,21 which states:
Rule 7. Requirements for the Child to Use the Surname of the

Father
7.1 For Births Not Yet Registered
7.1.1 The illegitimate child shall use the surname of the father
if a public document is executed by the father, either at the
back of the Certificate of Live Birth or in a separate document.
7.1.2 If admission of paternity is made through a private
instrument, the child shall use the surname of the father,
provided the registration is supported by the following
documents:
x x x x
7.2. For Births Previously Registered under the Surname of the
Mother
7.2.1 If filiation has been expressly recognized by the father,
the child shall use the surname of the father upon the
submission of the accomplished AUSF [Affidavit of Use of the
Surname of the Father].
7.2.2 If filiation has not been expressly recognized by the
father, the child shall use the surname of the father upon
submission of a public document or a private handwritten
instrument supported by the documents listed in Rule 7.1.2.
7.3 Except in Item 7.2.1, the consent of the illegitimate child is
required if he/she has reached the age of majority. The consent
may be contained in a separate instrument duly notarized.
x x x x
Rule 8. Effects of Recognition
8.1 For Births Not Yet Registered

8.1.1 The surname of the father shall be entered as the last


name of the child in the Certificate of Live Birth. The Certificate
of Live Birth shall be recorded in the Register of Births.
x x x x
8.2 For Births Previously Registered under the Surname of the
Mother
8.2.1 If admission of paternity was made either at the back of
the Certificate of Live Birth or in a separate public document or
in a private handwritten document, the public document or
AUSF shall be recorded in the Register of Live Birth and the
Register of Births as follows:
The surname of the child is hereby changed from (original
surname) to (new surname) pursuant to RA 9255.
The original surname of the child appearing in the Certificate of
Live Birth and Register of Births shall not be changed or
deleted.
8.2.2 If filiation was not expressly recognized at the time of
registration, the public document or AUSF shall be recorded in
the Register of Legal Instruments. Proper annotation shall be
made in the Certificate of Live Birth and the Register of Births
as follows:
Acknowledged by (name of father) on (date). The surname of
the child is hereby changed from (original surname) on (date)
pursuant to RA 9255. (Emphasis supplied.)
Nonetheless, the hornbook rule is that an administrative
issuance cannot amend a legislative act. In MCC Industrial Sales
Corp. v. Ssangyong Corporation,22 We held:

After all, the power of administrative officials to promulgate


rules in the implementation of a statute is necessarily limited
to what is found in the legislative enactment itself. The
implementing rules and regulations of a law cannot extend the
law or expand its coverage, as the power to amend or repeal a
statute is vested in the Legislature. Thus, if a discrepancy
occurs between the basic law and an implementing rule or
regulation, it is the former that prevails, because the law
cannot be broadened by a mere administrative issuance an
administrative agency certainly cannot amend an act of
Congress.
Thus, We can disregard contemporaneous construction where
there is no ambiguity in law and/or the construction is clearly
erroneous.23 What is more, this Court has the constitutional
prerogative and authority to strike down and declare as void
the rules of procedure of special courts and quasijudicial
bodies24 when found contrary to statutes and/or the
Constitution.25 Section 5(5), Art. VIII of the Constitution
provides:
Sec. 5. The Supreme Court shall have the following powers:
x x x x
(5) Promulgate rules concerning the protection and
enforcement of constitutional rights, pleading, practice and
procedure in all courts, the admission to the practice of law,
the Integrated Bar, and legal assistance to the underprivileged.
Such rules shall provide a simplified and inexpensive
procedure for the speedy disposition of cases, shall be uniform
for all courts of the same grade, and shall not diminish,
increase, or modify substantive rights. Rules of procedure of
special courts and quasijudicial bodies shall remain
effective unless disapproved by the Supreme Court.

(Emphasis supplied.)
Thus, We exercise this power in voiding the abovequoted
provisions of the IRR of RA 9255 insofar as it provides the
mandatory use by illegitimate children of their fathers
surname upon the latters recognition of his paternity.
To conclude, the use of the word shall in the IRR of RA 9255
is of no moment. The clear, unambiguous, and unequivocal use
of may in Art. 176 rendering the use of an illegitimate
fathers surname discretionary controls, and illegitimate
children are given the choice on the surnames by which
they will be known.
At this juncture, We take note of the letters submitted by the
children, now aged thirteen (13) and fifteen (15) years old, to
this Court declaring their opposition to have their names
changed to Antonio.26 However, since these letters were not
offered before and evaluated by the trial court, they do not
provide any evidentiary weight to sway this Court to rule for or
against petitioner.27 A proper inquiry into, and evaluation of
the evidence of, the childrens choice of surname by the trial
court is necessary.
WHEREFORE, the instant petition is PARTIALLY GRANTED.
The July 24, 2012 Decision of the Court of Appeals in CAG.R.
CV No. 96406 is MODIFIED, the dispositive portion of which
shall read:
WHEREFORE, the appeal is partly GRANTED. Accordingly, the
appealed Decision of the Regional Trial Court Branch 8, Aparri
Cagayan in SP Proc. Case No. 114492 is MODIFIED in part and
shall hereinafter read as follows:
a.

[Antonio] is ORDERED to deliver the minor children


Jerard Patrick and Andre Lewis to the custody of their

mother herein appellant, Grace Grande who by virtue


hereof is hereby awarded the full or sole custody of these
minor children;
b.
[Antonio] shall have visitation rights28 at least twice a
week, and may only take the children out upon the
written consent of [Grande];
c. The parties are DIRECTED to give and share in support of the
minor children Jerard Patrick and Andre Lewis in the
amount of P30,000.00 per month at the rate of 70% for
[Antonio] and 30% for [Grande]; and
d.
The case is REMANDED to the Regional Trial Court,
Branch 8 of Aparri, Cagayan for the sole purpose of
determining the surname to be chosen by the
children Jerard Patrick and Andre Lewis.
Rule 7 and Rule 8 of the Office of the Civil Registrar General
Administrative Order No. 1, Series of 2004 are DISAPPROVED
and hereby declared NULL and VOID.
SO ORDERED.
Sereno, C.J., Carpio, LeonardoDe Castro, Peralta, Bersamin, Del
Castillo, Abad, Villarama, Jr., Perez, Reyes, PerlasBernabe, and
Leonen, JJ., concur.
Brion, J., on leave.
Mendoza, J., no part.
Endnotes:

1Rollo, pp. 2341. Penned by Associate Justice Edwin D.

Sorongon and concurred in by Associate Justices Hakim S.


Abdulwahid and Marlene GonzalesSison.
2 Id. at 4243.

3 Id. at 25.
4 Id. at 10, 25, 4446, 50.
5 Id. at 79.
6 Id. at 30.chanrobleslaw
7 Id. at 2425.
8 Id. at 30.
9 Id. at 31.
10 Id. at 3638.
11 Id. at 38.
12 Id. at 39.
13 Id.
14 An Act Allowing Illegitimate Children to Use the Surname of

Their Father Amending for the Purpose Article 176 of


Executive Order No. 209, Otherwise Known as the Family
Code of the Philippines, signed into law on February 24, 2004
and took effect on March 19, 2004 fifteen (15) days after its
publication on Malaya and the Manila Times on March 4, 2004.
15 Rule 132, Sec. 19. Classes of Documents. For the purpose of

their presentation in evidence, documents are either public or


private.
Public documents are: (a) The written official acts, or records
of the official acts of the sovereign authotirty, official bodies
and tribunals, and public officers, whether of the Philippines,
or a foreign country; (b) Documents acknowledged before a

notary public except last will and testaments; and (c)


Public records, kept in the Philippines, of private documents
required by law to be entered therein. All other writings are
private.
16Republic v. Lacap, G.R. No. 158253, March 2, 2007, 517 SCRA

255; Chartered Bank Employees Association v. Ople, No. L


44717, August 28, 1985, 138 SCRA 273; Quijano v. Development
Bank of the Philippines, G.R. No. 26419, October 19, 1970, 35
SCRA 270; Luzon Surety Co., Inc. v. De Garcia, No. L25659,
October 31, 1969, 30 SCRA 111.
17 Agpalo, Ruben, STATUTORY CONSTRUCTION 460 (6th ed.,

2009); citations omitted.


18 No. L51201, May 29, 1980, 97 SCRA 858.
19 126 Phil. 1 (1967).
20 G.R. No. 157043, February 2, 2007, 514 SCRA 76, 8384.
21 Office of Civil Registrar General (OCRG) Administrative

Order No. 1, Series of 2004, issued by the National Statistics


OfficeOffice of the Civil Registrar General. Approved on May
14, 2004, published on May 18, 2004 on the Manila Times, and
took effect on June 2, 2004.
22 G.R. No. 170633, October 17, 2007, 536 SCRA 408, 453.
23Regalado v. Yulo, 61 Phil. 173 (1935); Molina v. Rafferty, 37

Phil. 545 (1918).


24 The Office of the Civil Registrar General exercises quasi

judicial powers under Rule 13, Title 1, of NSO Administrative


Order 193, December 18, 1993, Implementing Rules and
Regulations of Act No. 3753 and Other Laws on Civil

Registration:
RULE 13. Posting of the Pending Application. (1) A notice to
the public on the pending application for delayed registration
shall be posted in the bulletin board of the city/municipality
for a period of not less than ten (10) days. (2) If after ten (10)
days, no one opposes the registration, the civil registrar shall
evaluate the veracity of the statements made in the required
documents submitted. (3) If after proper evaluation of all
documents presented and investigation of the allegations
contained therein, the civil registrar is convinced that the event
really occurred within the jurisdiction of the civil registry
office, and finding out that said event was not registered, he
shall register the delayed report thereof. (4) The civil
registrar, in all cases of delayed registration of birth, death and
marriage, shall conduct an investigation whenever an
opposition is filed against its registration by taking the
testimonies of the parties concerned and witnesses in the form
of questions and answers. After investigation, the civil registrar
shall forward his findings and recommendations to the Office
of the Civil RegistrarGeneral for appropriate action. (5) The
Civil RegistrarGeneral may, after review and proper
evaluation, deny or authorize the registration.
25Tan v. COMELEC, G.R. Nos. 16614347 & 166891, November

20, 2006, 507 SCRA 352, 370371.


26Rollo, pp. 4546.
27 Rule 132, Sec. 34. Offer of evidence. The court shall consider

no evidence which has not been formally offered. The purpose


for which the evidence is offered must be specified.
28 In family law, the right granted by a court to a parent or

other relative who is deprived custody of a child to visit the

child on a regular basis. See DICTIONARY OF LEGAL TERMS


529 (3rd ed.).


































Republic of the Philippines SUPREME COURT Manila
THIRD DIVISION
G.R. No. 175822 October 23, 2013
CALIFORNIA CLOTHING INC. and MICHELLE S. YBAEZ,
Petitioners, vs. SHIRLEY G. QUIONES, Respondent.
D E C I S I O N
PERALTA, J.:
Assailed in this petition for review on certiorari under Rule 45
of the ; Rules of Court are the Court of Appeals Decision1 dated
August 3, 2006 and Resolution2 dated November 14, 2006 in
CA-G.R. CV No. 80309. The assailed decision reversed and set
aside the June 20, 2003 Decision3 of the Regional Trial Court of
Cebu City (RTC), Branch 58, in Civil Case No. CEB-26984; while
the assailed resolution denied the motion for reconsideration
filed by petitioner Michelle Ybaez (Ybaez).
The facts of the case, as culled from the records, are as follows:
On July 25, 2001, respondent Shirley G. Quiones, a
Reservation Ticketing Agent of Cebu Pacific Air in Lapu Lapu
City, went inside the Guess USA Boutique at the second floor of
Robinsons Department Store (Robinsons) in Cebu City. She
fitted four items: two jeans, a blouse and a shorts, then decided
to purchase the black jeans worth P2,098.00.4 Respondent
allegedly paid to the cashier evidenced by a receipt5 issued by
the store.6

While she was walking through the skywalk connecting


Robinsons and Mercury Drug Store (Mercury) where she was
heading next, a Guess employee approached and informed her
that she failed to pay the item she got. She, however, insisted
that she paid and showed the employee the receipt issued in
her favor.7 She then suggested that they talk about it at the
Cebu Pacific Office located at the basement of the mall. She first
went to Mercury then met the Guess employees as agreed
upon.8
When she arrived at the Cebu Pacific Office, the Guess
employees allegedly subjected her to humiliation in front of the
clients of Cebu Pacific and repeatedly demanded payment for
the black jeans.9 They supposedly even searched her wallet to
check how much money she had, followed by another
argument. Respondent, thereafter, went home.10
On the same day, the Guess employees allegedly gave a letter to
the Director of Cebu Pacific Air narrating the incident, but the
latter refused to receive it as it did not concern the office and
the same took place while respondent was off duty.11 Another
letter was allegedly prepared and was supposed to be sent to
the Cebu Pacific Office in Robinsons, but the latter again
refused to receive it.12 Respondent also claimed that the
Human Resource Department (HRD) of Robinsons was
furnished said letter and the latter in fact conducted an
investigation for purposes of canceling respondents
Robinsons credit card. Respondent further claimed that she
was not given a copy of said damaging letter.13 With the above
experience, respondent claimed to have suffered physical
anxiety, sleepless nights, mental anguish, fright, serious
apprehension, besmirched reputation, moral shock and social
humiliation.14 She thus filed the Complaint for Damages15
before the RTC against petitioners California Clothing, Inc.
(California Clothing), Excelsis Villagonzalo (Villagonzalo),

Imelda Hawayon (Hawayon) and Ybaez. She demanded the


payment of moral, nominal, and exemplary damages, plus
attorneys fees and litigation expenses.16
In their Answer,17 petitioners and the other defendants
admitted the issuance of the receipt of payment. They claimed,
however, that instead of the cashier (Hawayon) issuing the
official receipt, it was the invoicer (Villagonzalo) who did it
manually. They explained that there was miscommunication
between the employees at that time because prior to the
issuance of the receipt, Villagonzalo asked Hawayon " Ok na ?,"
and the latter replied " Ok na ," which the former believed to
mean that the item has already been paid.18 Realizing the
mistake, Villagonzalo rushed outside to look for respondent
and when he saw the latter, he invited her to go back to the
shop to make clarifications as to whether or not payment was
indeed made. Instead, however, of going back to the shop,
respondent suggested that they meet at the Cebu Pacific Office.
Villagonzalo, Hawayon and Ybaez thus went to the agreed
venue where they talked to respondent.19 They pointed out
that it appeared in their conversation that respondent could
not recall whom she gave the payment.20 They emphasized that
they were gentle and polite in talking to respondent and it was
the latter who was arrogant in answering their questions.21 As
counterclaim, petitioners and the other defendants sought the
payment of moral and exemplary damages, plus attorneys fees
and litigation expenses.22
On June 20, 2003, the RTC rendered a Decision dismissing both
the complaint and counterclaim of the parties. From the
evidence presented, the trial court concluded that the
petitioners and the other defendants believed in good faith that
respondent failed to make payment. Considering that no
motive to fabricate a lie could be attributed to the Guess
employees, the court held that when they demanded payment

from respondent, they merely exercised a right under the


honest belief that no payment was made. The RTC likewise did
not find it damaging for respondent when the confrontation
took place in front of Cebu Pacific clients, because it was
respondent herself who put herself in that situation by
choosing the venue for discussion. As to the letter sent to Cebu
Pacific Air, the trial court also did not take it against the Guess
employees, because they merely asked for assistance and not
to embarrass or humiliate respondent. In other words, the RTC
found no evidence to prove bad faith on the part of the Guess
employees to warrant the award of damages.23
On appeal, the CA reversed and set aside the RTC decision, the
dispositive portion of which reads:
WHEREFORE, the instant appeal is GRANTED. The decision of
the Regional Trial Court of Cebu City, Branch 58, in Civil Case
No. CEB-26984 (for: Damages) is hereby REVERSED and SET
ASIDE. Defendants Michelle Ybaez and California Clothing,
Inc. are hereby ordered to pay plaintiff-appellant Shirley G.
Quiones jointly and solidarily moral damages in the amount
of Fifty Thousand Pesos (P50,000.00) and attorneys fees in the
amount of Twenty Thousand Pesos (P20,000.00).
SO ORDERED.24
While agreeing with the trial court that the Guess employees
were in good faith when they confronted respondent inside the
Cebu Pacific Office about the alleged non-payment, the CA,
however, found preponderance of evidence showing that they
acted in bad faith in sending the demand letter to respondents
employer. It found respondents possession of both the official
receipt and the subject black jeans as evidence of payment.25
Contrary to the findings of the RTC, the CA opined that the
letter addressed to Cebu Pacifics director was sent to

respondents employer not merely to ask for assistance for the


collection of the disputed payment but to subject her to
ridicule, humiliation and similar injury such that she would be
pressured to pay.26 Considering that Guess already started its
investigation on the incident, there was a taint of bad faith and
malice when it dragged respondents employer who was not
privy to the transaction. This is especially true in this case
since the purported letter contained not only a narrative of the
incident but accusations as to the alleged acts of respondent in
trying to evade payment.27 The appellate court thus held that
petitioners are guilty of abuse of right entitling respondent to
collect moral damages and attorneys fees. Petitioner California
Clothing Inc. was made liable for its failure to exercise
extraordinary diligence in the hiring and selection of its
employees; while Ybaezs liability stemmed from her act of
signing the demand letter sent to respondents employer. In
view of Hawayon and Villagonzalos good faith, however, they
were exonerated from liability.28
Ybaez moved for the reconsideration29 of the aforesaid
decision, but the same was denied in the assailed November
14, 2006 CA Resolution.
Petitioners now come before the Court in this petition for
review on certiorari under Rule 45 of the Rules of Court based
on the following grounds:
I.
THE HONORABLE COURT OF APPEALS ERRED IN FINDING
THAT THE LETTER SENT TO THE CEBU PACIFIC OFFICE WAS
MADE TO SUBJECT HEREIN RESPONDENT TO RIDICULE,
HUMILIATION AND SIMILAR INJURY.
II.

THE HONORABLE COURT OF APPEALS ERRED IN AWARDING


MORAL DAMAGES AND ATTORNEYS FEES.30
The petition is without merit.
Respondents complaint against petitioners stemmed from the
principle of abuse of rights provided for in the Civil Code on the
chapter of human relations. Respondent cried foul when
petitioners allegedly embarrassed her when they insisted that
she did not pay for the black jeans she purchased from their
shop despite the evidence of payment which is the official
receipt issued by the shop. The issuance of the receipt
notwithstanding, petitioners had the right to verify from
respondent whether she indeed made payment if they had
reason to believe that she did not. However, the exercise of
such right is not without limitations. Any abuse in the exercise
of such right and in the performance of duty causing damage or
injury to another is actionable under the Civil Code. The
Courts pronouncement in Carpio v. Valmonte31 is noteworthy:
In the sphere of our law on human relations, the victim of a
wrongful act or omission, whether done willfully or
negligently, is not left without any remedy or recourse to
obtain relief for the damage or injury he sustained.
Incorporated into our civil law are not only principles of equity
but also universal moral precepts which are designed to
indicate certain norms that spring from the fountain of good
conscience and which are meant to serve as guides for human
conduct. First of these fundamental precepts is the principle
commonly known as "abuse of rights" under Article 19 of the
Civil Code. It provides that " Every person must, in the exercise
of his rights and in the performance of his duties, act with
justice, give everyone his due and observe honesty and good
faith."x x x32 The elements of abuse of rights are as follows: (1)
there is a legal right or duty; (2) which is exercised in bad faith;

(3) for the sole intent of prejudicing or injuring another.33


In this case, petitioners claimed that there was a
miscommunication between the cashier and the invoicer
leading to the erroneous issuance of the receipt to respondent.
When they realized the mistake, they made a cash count and
discovered that the amount which is equivalent to the price of
the black jeans was missing. They, thus, concluded that it was
respondent who failed to make such payment. It was,
therefore, within their right to verify from respondent whether
she indeed paid or not and collect from her if she did not.
However, the question now is whether such right was
exercised in good faith or they went overboard giving
respondent a cause of action against them.
Under the abuse of rights principle found in Article 19 of the
Civil Code, a person must, in the exercise of legal right or duty,
act in good faith. He would be liable if he instead acted in bad
faith, with intent to prejudice another.34 Good faith refers to
the state of mind which is manifested by the acts of the
individual concerned. It consists of the intention to abstain
from taking an unconscionable and unscrupulous advantage of
another.35 Malice or bad faith, on the other hand, implies a
conscious and intentional design to do a wrongful act for a
dishonest purpose or moral obliquity.36
Initially, there was nothing wrong with petitioners asking
respondent whether she paid or not. The Guess employees
were able to talk to respondent at the Cebu Pacific Office. The
confrontation started well, but it eventually turned sour when
voices were raised by both parties. As aptly held by both the
RTC and the CA, such was the natural consequence of two
parties with conflicting views insisting on their respective
beliefs. Considering, however, that respondent was in
possession of the item purchased from the shop, together with

the official receipt of payment issued by petitioners, the latter


cannot insist that no such payment was made on the basis of a
mere speculation. Their claim should have been proven by
substantial evidence in the proper forum.
It is evident from the circumstances of the case that petitioners
went overboard and tried to force respondent to pay the
amount they were demanding. In the guise of asking for
assistance, petitioners even sent a demand letter to
respondents employer not only informing it of the incident but
obviously imputing bad acts on the part of respondent.1wphi1
Petitioners claimed that after receiving the receipt of payment
and the item purchased, respondent "was noted to hurriedly
left (sic) the store." They also accused respondent that she was
not completely being honest when she was asked about the
circumstances of payment, thus:
x x x After receiving the OR and the item, Ms. Gutierrez was
noted to hurriedly left (sic) the store. x x x
When I asked her about to whom she gave the money, she gave
out a blank expression and told me, "I cant remember." Then I
asked her how much money she gave, she answered, "P2,100;
2 pcs 1,000 and 1 pc 100 bill." Then I told her that that would
(sic) impossible since we have no such denomination in our
cash fund at that moment. Finally, I asked her if how much
change and if she received change from the cashier, she then
answered, "I dont remember." After asking these simple
questions, I am very certain that she is not completely being
honest about this. In fact, we invited her to come to our
boutique to clear these matters but she vehemently refused
saying that shes in a hurry and very busy.37
Clearly, these statements are outrightly accusatory. Petitioners
accused respondent that not only did she fail to pay for the

jeans she purchased but that she deliberately took the same
without paying for it and later hurriedly left the shop to evade
payment. These accusations were made despite the issuance of
the receipt of payment and the release of the item purchased.
There was, likewise, no showing that respondent had the
intention to evade payment. Contrary to petitioners claim,
respondent was not in a rush in leaving the shop or the mall.
This is evidenced by the fact that the Guess employees did not
have a hard time looking for her when they realized the
supposed non-payment.
It can be inferred from the foregoing that in sending the
demand letter to respondents employer, petitioners intended
not only to ask for assistance in collecting the disputed amount
but to tarnish respondents reputation in the eyes of her
employer. To malign respondent without substantial evidence
and despite the latters possession of enough evidence in her
favor, is clearly impermissible. A person should not use his
right unjustly or contrary to honesty and good faith, otherwise,
he opens himself to liability.38
The exercise of a right must be in accordance with the purpose
for which it was established and must not be excessive or
unduly harsh.39 In this case, petitioners obviously abused their
rights.
Complementing the principle of abuse of rights are the
provisions of Articles 20 and 2 of the Civil Code which read:40
Article 20. Every person who, contrary to law, willfully or
negligently causes damage to another, shall indemnify the
latter for the same.
Article 21. Any person who willfully causes loss or injury to
another in a manner that is contrary to morals or good

customs, or public policy shall compensate the latter for the


damage.
In view of the foregoing, respondent is entitled to an award of
moral damages and attorney s fees. Moral damages may be
awarded whenever the defendant s wrongful act or omission is
the proximate cause of the plaintiffs physical suffering, mental
anguish, fright, serious anxiety, besmirched reputation,
wounded feelings, moral shock, social humiliation and similar
injury in the cases specified or analogous to those provided in
Article 2219 of the Civil Code.41 Moral damages are not a
bonanza. They are given to ease the defendant s grief and
suffering. They should, thus, reasonably approximate the
extent of hurt caused and the gravity of the wrong done.42 They
are awarded not to enrich the complainant but to enable the
latter to obtain means, diversions, or amusements that will
serve to alleviate the moral suffering he has undergone.43 We
find that the amount of P50,000.00 as moral damages awarded
by the CA is reasonable under the circumstances. Considering
that respondent was compelled to litigate to protect her
interest, attorney s fees in the amount of ofP20,000.00 is
likewise just and proper.
WHEREFORE, premises considered, the petition is DENIED for
lack of merit. The Court of Appeals Decision dated August 3,
2006 and Resolution dated November 14, 2006 in CA-G.R. CV
No. 80309, are AFFIRMED.
SO ORDERED.
DIOSDADO M. PERALTA Associate Justice
WE CONCUR:
PRESBITERO J. VELASCO, JR. Associate Justice Chairperson

ROBERTO A. ABAD
JOSE CATRAL MEN
Associate Justice
Associate Justi
MARVIC MARIO VICTOR F. LEONEN Associate Justice
A T T E S T A T I O N
I attest that the conclusions in the above Decision had been
reached in consultation before the case was assigned to the
writer of the opinion of the Court s Division.
PRESBITERO J. VELASCO, JR. Associate Justice Chairperson,
Third Division
C E R T I F I C A T I O N
Pursuant to Section 13, Article VIII of the Constitution and the ,
Division Chairperson s Attestation, I certify that the
conclusions n the above Decision had been reached in
consultation before the case was assigned to the writer of the
opinion of the Court s Division.
MARIA LOURDES P. A. SERENO Chief Justice

Footnotes
1 Penned by Associate Justice Agustin S. Dizon, with Associate

Justices Isaias P. Dicdican and Apolinario D. Bruselas, Jr.,


concurring; rollo pp. 52-62.
2 Penned by Associate Justice Agustin S. Dizon, with Associate

Justices Isaias P. Dicdican and Pampio A. Abarintos, concurring;


rollo pp. 70-71.
3 Penned by Presiding Judge Gabriel T. Ingles; rollo pp. 40-51.
4 Rollo, pp. 52-53.

5 Records, p. 8.
6 Id. at 2.
7 Id.
8 Id.
9 Id.
10 Id. at 3.
11 Id.
12 Id.
13 Id. at 4.
14 Id. at 5.
15 Id. at 1-7.
16 Id. at 5.
17 Id. at 38-46.
18 Id. at 41-42.
19 Id. at 42.
20 Id. at 43.
21 Id.
22 Id. at 43-44.
23 Rollo, pp. 49-51.
24 Id. at 61. (Italics and emphasis in the original)

25 Id. at 56.
26 Id. at 57.
27 Id. at 58.
28 Id. at 61.
29 CA rollo, pp. 84-90.
30 Rollo, p. 14.
31 481 Phil. 352 (2004).
32 Carpio v. Valmonte, supra, at 361-362.
33 Dart Philippines, Inc. v. Calogcog, G.R. No. 149241, August 24,

2009, 596 SCRA 614, 624; Carpio v. Valmonte, supra note 31, at
362.
34 Villanueva v. Rosqueta, G.R. No. 180764, January 19, 2010,

610 SCRA 334, 339.


35 Dart Philippines, Inc. v. Calogcog, supra note 33.
36 Gonzales v. Philippine Commercial and International Bank,

G.R. No. 180257, February 23, 2011, 644 SCRA 180, 202.
37 Rollo, p. 59. (Emphasis and italics in the original)
38 Uypitching v. Quiamco, G.R. No. 146322, December 6, 2006,

510 SCRA 172, 179.


39 Dart Philippines, Inc. v. Calogcog, supra note 33; id.
40 Carpio v. Valmonte, supra note 31, at 362.
41 Id. at 364.

42 Villanueva v. Rosqueta, supra note 34, at 341.


43 Carpio v. Valmonte, supra note 31, at 365.

Republic of the Philippines SUPREME COURT Manila


FIRST DIVISION
G.R. No. 163753 January 15, 2014
DR. ENCARNACION C. LUMANTAS, M.D., Petitioner, vs. HANZ
CALAPIZ, REPRESENTED BY HIS PARENTS, HILARIO
CALAPIZ, JR. and HERLITA CALAPIZ, Respondent.
D E C I S I O N
BERSAMIN, J.:
The acquittal of the accused does not necessarily mean his
absolution from civil liability.
The Case
In this appeal, an accused desires the reversal of the decision
promulgated on February 20, 2003,1 whereby the Court of
Appeals (CA) affirmed the judgment rendered on August 6,
1999 by the Regional Trial Court (RTC), Branch 13, in
Oroquieta City ordering him to pay moral damages despite his
acquittal of the crime of reckless imprudence resulting in
serious physical injuries charged against him.2
Antecedents
On January 16, 1995, Spouses Hilario Calapiz, Jr. and Herlita
Calapiz brought their 8-year-old son, Hanz Calapiz (Hanz), to
the Misamis Occidental Provincial Hospital, Oroquieta City, for
an emergency appendectomy. Hanz was attended to by the
petitioner, who suggested to the parents that Hanz also
undergo circumcision at no added cost to spare him the pain.
With the parents consent, the petitioner performed the
coronal type of circumcision on Hanz after his appendectomy.

On the following day, Hanz complained of pain in his penis,


which exhibited blisters. His testicles were swollen. The
parents noticed that the child urinated abnormally after the
petitioner forcibly removed the catheter, but the petitioner
dismissed the abnormality as normal. On January 30, 1995,
Hanz was discharged from the hospital over his parents
protestations, and was directed to continue taking antibiotics.
On February 8, 1995, Hanz was confined in a hospital because
of the abscess formation between the base and the shaft of his
penis. Presuming that the ulceration was brought about by
Hanzs appendicitis, the petitioner referred him to Dr. Henry
Go, an urologist, who diagnosed the boy to have a damaged
urethra. Thus, Hanz underwent cystostomy, and thereafter was
operated on three times to repair his damaged urethra.
When his damaged urethra could not be fully repaired and
reconstructed, Hanzs parents brought a criminal charge
against the petitioner for reckless imprudence resulting to
serious physical injuries. On April 17, 1997, the information3
was filed in the Municipal Trial Court in Cities of Oroquieta City
(MTCC), to which the latter pleaded not guilty on May 22,
1998.4 Under the order of April 30, 1999, the case was
transferred to the RTC pursuant to Supreme Court Circular No.
11-99.5
At the trial, the Prosecution presented several witnesses,
including Dr. Rufino Agudera as an expert witness and as the
physician who had operated on Hanz twice to repair the
damaged urethra. Dr. Agudera testified that Hanz had been
diagnosed to have urethral stricture and cavernosal injury left
secondary to trauma that had necessitated the conduct of two
operations to strengthen and to lengthen the urethra. Although
satisfactorily explaining that the injury to the urethra had been
caused by trauma, Dr. Agudera could not determine the kind of

trauma that had caused the injury.


In his defense, the petitioner denied the charge. He contended
that at the time of his examination of Hanz on January 16,
1995, he had found an accumulation of pus at the vicinity of the
appendix two to three inches from the penis that had required
immediate surgical operation; that after performing the
appendectomy, he had circumcised Hanz with his parents
consent by using a congo instrument, thereby debunking the
parents claim that their child had been cauterized; that he had
then cleared Hanz on January 27, 1995 once his fever had
subsided; that he had found no complications when Hanz
returned for his follow up check-up on February 2, 1995; and
that the abscess formation between the base and the shaft of
the penis had been brought about by Hanzs burst appendicitis.
Ruling of the RTC
In its decision rendered on August 6, 1999,6 the RTC acquitted
the petitioner of the crime charged for insufficiency of the
evidence. It held that the Prosecutions evidence did not show
the required standard of care to be observed by other
members of the medical profession under similar
circumstances. Nonetheless, the RTC ruled that the petitioner
was liable for moral damages because there was a
preponderance of evidence showing that Hanz had received
the injurious trauma from his circumcision by the petitioner.
The decision disposed as follows:
WHEREFORE, for insufficiency of evidence, this court renders
judgment acquitting the accused, Dr. Encarnacion Lumantas, of
reckless imprudence resulting in serious physical injuries, but
ordering him to pay Hanz Calapiz P50,000.00 as moral
damages. No costs.

SO ORDERED.
Ruling of the CA
On appeal, the CA affirmed the RTC,7 sustaining the award of
moral damages. It opined that even if the petitioner had been
acquitted of the crime charged, the acquittal did not
necessarily mean that he had not incurred civil liability
considering that the Prosecution had preponderantly
established the sufferings of Hanz as the result of the
circumcision.
The petitioner moved for reconsideration, but the CA denied
the motion on April 28, 2004.8
Hence, this appeal.
Issue
Whether the CA erred in affirming the petitioners civil liability
despite his acquittal of the crime of reckless imprudence
resulting in serious physical injuries.
Ruling
The petition for review lacks merit.
It is axiomatic that every person criminally liable for a felony is
also civilly liable.9 Nevertheless, the acquittal of an accused of
the crime charged does not necessarily extinguish his civil
liability. In Manantan v. Court of Appeals,10 the Court
elucidates on the two kinds of acquittal recognized by our law
as well as on the different effects of acquittal on the civil
liability of the accused, viz:
Our law recognizes two kinds of acquittal, with different effects
on the civil liability of the accused.1wphi1 First is an acquittal

on the ground that the accused is not the author of the act or
omission complained of. This instance closes the door to civil
liability, for a person who has been found to be not the
perpetrator of any act or omission cannot and can never be
held liable for such act or omission. There being no delict, civil
liability ex delicto is out of the question, and the civil action, if
any, which may be instituted must be based on grounds other
than the delict complained of. This is the situation
contemplated in Rule 111 of the Rules of Court. The second
instance is an acquittal based on reasonable doubt on the guilt
of the accused. In this case, even if the guilt of the accused has
not been satisfactorily established, he is not exempt from civil
liability which may be proved by preponderance of evidence
only.
The Rules of Court requires that in case of an acquittal, the
judgment shall state "whether the evidence of the prosecution
absolutely failed to prove the guilt of the accused or merely
failed to prove his guilt beyond reasonable doubt. In either
case, the judgment shall determine if the act or omission from
which the civil liability might arise did not exist."11
Conformably with the foregoing, therefore, the acquittal of an
accused does not prevent a judgment from still being rendered
against him on the civil aspect of the criminal case unless the
court finds and declares that the fact from which the civil
liability might arise did not exist.
Although it found the Prosecutions evidence insufficient to
sustain a judgment of conviction against the petitioner for the
crime charged, the RTC did not err in determining and
adjudging his civil liability for the same act complained of
based on mere preponderance of evidence.12 In this
connection, the Court reminds that the acquittal for
insufficiency of the evidence did not require that the

complainants recovery of civil liability should be through the


institution of a separate civil action for that purpose.13
The petitioners contention that he could not be held civilly
liable because there was no proof of his negligence deserves
scant consideration. The failure of the Prosecution to prove his
criminal negligence with moral certainty did not forbid a
finding against him that there was preponderant evidence of
his negligence to hold him civilly liable.14 With the RTC and the
CA both finding that Hanz had sustained the injurious trauma
from the hands of the petitioner on the occasion of or
incidental to the circumcision, and that the trauma could have
been avoided, the Court must concur with their uniform
findings. In that regard, the Court need not analyze and weigh
again the evidence considered in the proceedings a quo. The
Court, by virtue of its not being a trier of facts, should now
accord the highest respect to the factual findings of the trial
court as affirmed by the CA in the absence of a clear showing
by the petitioner that such findings were tainted with
arbitrariness, capriciousness or palpable error.
Every person is entitled to the physical integrity of his
body.1wphi1 Although we have long advocated the view that
any physical injury, like the loss or diminution of the use of any
part of ones body, is not equatable to a pecuniary loss, and is
not susceptible of exact monetary estimation, civil damages
should be assessed once that integrity has been violated. The
assessment is but an imperfect estimation of the true value of
ones body. The usual practice is to award moral damages for
the physical injuries sustained.15 In Hanzs case, the
undesirable outcome of the circumcision performed by the
petitioner forced the young child to endure several other
procedures on his penis in order to repair his damaged
urethra. Surely, his physical and moral sufferings properly
warranted the amount of P50,000.00 awarded as moral

damages.
Many years have gone by since Hanz suffered the injury.
Interest of 6% per annum should then be imposed on the
award as a sincere means of adjusting the value of the award to
a level that is not only reasonable but just and commensurate.
Unless we make the adjustment in the permissible manner by
prescribing legal interest on the award, his sufferings would be
unduly compounded. For that purpose, the reckoning of
interest should be from the filing of the criminal information
on April 17, 1997, the making of the judicial demand for the
liability of the petitioner.
WHEREFORE, the Court AFFIRMS the decision promulgated on
February 20, 2003, with the modification that legal interest of
6% per annum to start from April 17, 1997 is imposed on the
award of:P50,000.00 as moral damages; and ORDERS the
petitioner to pay the costs of suit.
SO ORDERED.
LUCAS P. BERSAMIN Associate Justice
WE CONCUR:
MARIA LOURDES P. A. SERENO Chief Justice
TERESITA J. LEONARDO-DE CASTRO
Associate Justice
BIENVENIDO L. REYES Associate Justice

MARTIN S. VILLARA
Associate Justi

C E R T I F I C A T I O N
Pursuant to Section 13, Article VIII of the Constitution, I certify
that the conclusions in the above Decision had been reached in
consultation before the case was assigned to the writer of the

opinion of the Court's Division.


MARIA LOURDES P. A. SERENO Chief Justice

Footnotes
1 Rollo, pp. 25-30; penned by Associate Justice Perlita J. Tria

Tirona (retired), with Associate Justice Roberto A. Barrios


(retired/deceased) and Associate Justice Edgardo F. Sundiam
(retired/deceased) concurring.
2 Id. at 13-20.
3 Id. at 21-24.
4 Records, p. 174.
5 Id. at 413.
6 Rollo, pp. 13-20.
7 Id. at 25-30.
8 Id. at 33.
9 Article 100, Revised Penal Code.
10 G.R. No. 107125, January 29, 2001, 350 SCRA 387, 397.
11 Section 2, Rule 120, Rules of Court.
12 Article 29, Civil Code.
13 Romero v. People, G.R. No. 167546, July 17, 2009, 593 SCRA

202, 206.
14 Id.

15 Ong v. Court of Appeals, et al., G.R. No. 117103, January 21,

1999, 301 SCRA 387, 398.

































Republic of the Philippines SUPREME COURT Manila
EN BANC
G.R. No. 176830 February 11, 2014
SATURNINO C. OCAMPO, Petitioner, vs. HON. EPHREM S.
ABANDO, in his capacity as Presiding Judge of the Regional
Trial Court of Hilongos, Leyte, Branch 18, CESAR M. MERIN,
in. his capacity as Approving Prosecutor and Officer-in-
Charge, ROSULO U. VIVERO, in his capacity as Investigating
Prosecutor, RAUL M. GONZALEZ, in his capacity as
Secretary of the Department of Justice, Respondents.
x - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - x
G.R. No. 185587
RANDALL B. ECHANIS, Petitioner, vs. HON. THELMA BUNYl-
MEDINA, in her capacity as Presiding Judge of the Regional
Trial Court of Manila, Branch 32, HON. EPHREM S.
ABANDO, in his capacity as Presiding Judge of the Regional
Trial Court of Hilongos, Leyte, Branch 18, CESAR M. MERIN,
in his capacity as Approving Prosecutor and Officer-in-
Charge, ROSULO U. VIVERO, in his capacity as Investigating
Prosecutor, RAUL M. GONZALEZ, in his capacity as
Secretary of the Department of Justice, Respondents.
x - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - x
G.R. No. 185636
RAFAEL G. BAYLOSIS, Petitioner, vs. HON. THELMA BUNYI-
MEDINA, in her capacity as Presiding Judge of the Regional
Trial Court of Manila, Branch 32, HON. EPHREM S.

ABANDO, in his capacity as Presiding Judge of the Regional


Trial Court of Hilongos, Leyte, Branch 18, CESAR M. MERIN,
in his capacity as Approving Prosecutor and Officer-in-
Charge, ROSULO U. VIVERO, in his capacity as Investigating
Prosecutor, RAUL M. GONZALEZ, in his capacity as
Secretary of the Department of Justice, Respondents.
x - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - x
G.R. No. 190005
VICENTE P. LADLAD, Petitioner, vs. HON. THELMA BUNYI-
MEDINA, in her capacity as Presiding Judge of the Regional
Trial Court of Manila, Branch 32, and the PEOPLE OF THE
PHILIPPINES, Respondents.
D E C I S I O N
SERENO, CJ.:
On 26 August 2006, a mass grave was discovered by elements
of the 43rd Infantry Brigade of the Philippine Army at Sitio
Sapang Daco, Barangay Kaulisihan, Inopacan, Leyte.1 The mass
grave contained skeletal remains of individuals believed to be
victims of "Operation Venereal Disease" (Operation VD)
launched by members of the Communist Party of the
Philippines/New Peoples Army/National Democratic Front of
the Philippines (CPP/NPA/NDFP) to purge their ranks of
suspected military informers.
While the doctrine of hierarchy of courts normally precludes a
direct invocation of this Courts jurisdiction, we take
cognizance of these petitions considering that petitioners have
chosen to take recourse directly before us and that the cases
are of significant national interest.

Petitioners have raised several issues, but most are too


insubstantial to require consideration. Accordingly, in the
exercise of sound judicial discretion and economy, this Court
will pass primarily upon the following:
1. Whether petitioners were denied due process during
preliminary investigation and in the issuance of the warrants
of arrest.
2. Whether the murder charges against petitioners should be
dismissed under the political offense doctrine.
ANTECEDENT FACTS
These are petitions for certiorari and prohibition2 seeking the
annulment of the orders and resolutions of public respondents
with regard to the indictment and issuance of warrants of
arrest against petitioners for the crime of multiple murder.
Police Chief Inspector George L. Almaden (P C/Insp. Almaden)
of the Philippine National Police (PNP) Regional Office 8 and
Staff Judge Advocate Captain Allan Tiu (Army Captain Tiu) of
the 8th Infantry Division of the Philippine Army sent 12
undated letters to the Provincial Prosecutor of Leyte through
Assistant Provincial Prosecutor Rosulo U. Vivero (Prosecutor
Vivero).3 The letters requested appropriate legal action on 12
complaint-affidavits attached therewith accusing 71 named
members of the Communist Party of the Philippines/New
Peoples Army/National Democratic Front of the Philippines
(CPP/NPA/NDFP) of murder, including petitioners herein
along with several other unnamed members.
The letters narrated that on 26 August 2006, elements of the
43rd Infantry Brigade of the Philippine Army discovered a
mass grave site of the CPP/NPA/NDFP at Sitio Sapang Daco,
Barangay Kaulisihan, Inopacan, Leyte.4 Recovered from the

grave site were 67 severely deteriorated skeletal remains


believed to be victims of Operation VD.5
The PNP Scene of the Crime Operation (SOCO) Team based in
Regional Office 8 was immediately dispatched to the mass
grave site to conduct crime investigation, and to collect,
preserve and analyze the skeletal remains.6 Also, from 11-17
September 2006, an investigation team composed of
intelligence officers, and medico-legal and DNA experts,
conducted forensic crime analysis and collected from alleged
relatives of the victims DNA samples for matching.7
The Initial Specialist Report8 dated 18 September 2006 issued
by the PNP Crime Laboratory in Camp Crame, Quezon City, was
inconclusive with regard to the identities of the skeletal
remains and even the length of time that they had been buried.
The report recommended the conduct of further tests to
confirm the identities of the remains and the time window of
death.9
However, in a Special Report10 dated 2 October 2006, the Case
Secretariat of the Regional and National Inter-Agency Legal
Action Group (IALAG) came up with the names of ten (10)
possible victims after comparison and examination based on
testimonies of relatives and witnesses.11
The 12 complaint-affidavits were from relatives of the alleged
victims of Operation VD. All of them swore that their relatives
had been abducted or last seen with members of the
CPP/NPA/NDFP and were never seen again.
They also expressed belief that their relatives remains were
among those discovered at the mass grave site.
Also attached to the letters were the affidavits of Zacarias
Piedad,12 Leonardo C. Tanaid, Floro M. Tanaid, Numeriano

Beringuel, Glecerio Roluna and Veronica P. Tabara. They


narrated that they were former members of the
CPP/NPA/NDFP.13 According to them, Operation VD was
ordered in 1985 by the CPP/NPA/NDFP Central Committee.14
Allegedly, petitioners Saturnino C. Ocampo (Ocampo),15
Randall B. Echanis (Echanis),16 Rafael G. Baylosis (Baylosis),17
and Vicente P. Ladlad (Ladlad)18 were then members of the
Central Committee.
According to these former members, four sub-groups were
formed to implement Operation VD, namely, (1) the Intel
Group responsible for gathering information on suspected
military spies and civilians who would not support the
movement; (2) the Arresting Group charged with their arrests;
(3) the Investigation Group which would subject those
arrested to questioning; and (4) the Execution Group or the
"cleaners" of those confirmed to be military spies and civilians
who would not support the movement.19
From 1985 to 1992, at least 100 people had been abducted,
hog-tied, tortured and executed by members of the
CPP/NPA/NDF20 pursuant to Operation VD.21
On the basis of the 12 letters and their attachments, Prosecutor
Vivero issued a subpoena requiring, among others, petitioners
to submit their counter-affidavits and those of their
witnesses.22 Petitioner Ocampo submitted his counter-
affidavit.23 Petitioners Echanis24 and Baylosis25 did not file
counter-affidavits because they were allegedly not served the
copy of the complaint and the attached documents or evidence.
Counsel of petitioner Ladlad made a formal entry of
appearance on 8 December 2006 during the preliminary
investigation.26 However, petitioner Ladlad did not file a
counter-affidavit because he was allegedly not served a
subpoena.27

In a Resolution28 dated 16 February 2007, Prosecutor Vivero


recommended the filing of an Information for 15 counts of
multiple murder against 54 named members of the
CPP/NPA/NDFP, including petitioners herein, for the death of
the following: 1) Juanita Aviola, 2) Concepcion Aragon, 3)
Gregorio Eras, 4) Teodoro Recones, Jr., 5) Restituto Ejoc, 6)
Rolando Vasquez, 7) Junior Milyapis, 8) Crispin Dalmacio, 9)
Zacarias Casil, 10) Pablo Daniel, 11) Romeo Tayabas, 12)
Domingo Napoles, 13) Ciriaco Daniel, 14) Crispin Prado, and
15) Ereberto Prado.29
Prosecutor Vivero also recommended that Zacarias Piedad,
Leonardo Tanaid, Numeriano Beringuel and Glecerio Roluna be
dropped as respondents and utilized as state witnesses, as
their testimonies were vital to the success of the prosecution.30
The Resolution was silent with regard to Veronica Tabara.
The Information was filed before the Regional Trial Court
(RTC) Hilongos, Leyte, Branch 18 (RTC Hilongos, Leyte)
presided by Judge Ephrem S. Abando (Judge Abando) on 28
February 2007, and docketed as Criminal Case No. H-1581.31
Petitioner Ocampo filed an Ex Parte Motion to Set Case for
Clarificatory Hearing dated 5 March 2007 prior to receiving a
copy of the Resolution recommending the filing of the
Information.32
On 6 March 2007, Judge Abando issued an Order finding
probable cause "in the commission by all mentioned accused of
the crime charged."33 He ordered the issuance of warrants of
arrest against them with no recommended bail for their
temporary liberty.34
On 16 March 2007, petitioner Ocampo filed before us this
special civil action for certiorari and prohibition under Rule 65
of the Rules of Court and docketed as G.R. No. 176830 seeking

the annulment of the 6 March 2007 Order of Judge Abando and


the 16 February 2007 Resolution of Prosecutor Vivero.35 The
petition prayed for the unconditional release of petitioner
Ocampo from PNP custody, as well as the issuance of a
temporary restraining order/ writ of preliminary injunction to
restrain the conduct of further proceedings during the
pendency of the petition.36
Petitioner Ocampo argued that a case for rebellion against him
and 44 others (including petitioners Echanis and Baylosis37
and Ladlad38) docketed as Criminal Case No. 06-944 was then
pending before the RTC Makati, Branch 150 (RTC Makati).39
Putting forward the political offense doctrine, petitioner
Ocampo argues that common crimes, such as murder in this
case, are already absorbed by the crime of rebellion when
committed as a necessary means, in connection with and in
furtherance of rebellion.40
We required41 the Office of the Solicitor General (OSG) to
comment on the petition and the prayer for the issuance of a
temporary restraining order/ writ of preliminary injunction,
and set42 the case for oral arguments on 30 March 2007. The
OSG filed its Comment on 27 March 2007.43
The following were the legal issues discussed by the parties
during the oral arguments:
1. Whether the present petition for certiorari and prohibition
is the proper remedy of petitioner Ocampo;
2. Assuming it is the proper remedy, whether he was denied
due process during preliminary investigation and in the
issuance of the warrant of arrest;
3. Whether the murder charges against him are already
included in the rebellion charge against him in the RTC.44

Afterwards, the parties were ordered to submit their


memoranda within 10 days.45 On 3 April 2007, the Court
ordered the provisional release of petitioner Ocampo under a
P100,000 cash bond.46 Acting on the observation of the Court
during the oral arguments that the single Information filed
before the RTC Hilongos, Leyte was defective for charging 15
counts of murder, the prosecution filed a Motion to Admit
Amended Information and New Informations on 11 April
2007.47 In an Order dated 27 July 2007, Judge Abando held in
abeyance the resolution thereof and effectively suspended the
proceedings during the pendency of G.R. No. 176830 before
this Court.48
While the proceedings were suspended, petitioner Echanis was
arrested on 28 January 2008 by virtue of the warrant of arrest
issued by Judge Abando on 6 March 2007.49 On 1 February
2008, petitioners Echanis and Baylosis filed a Motion for
Judicial Reinvestigation/ Determination of Probable Cause
with Prayer to Dismiss the Case Outright and Alternative
Prayer to Recall/ Suspend Service of Warrant.50
On 30 April 2008, Judge Abando issued an Order denying the
motion.51 Petitioners Echanis and Baylosis filed a Motion for
Reconsideration52 dated 30 May 2008, but before being able to
rule thereon, Judge Abando issued an Order dated 12 June
2008 transmitting the records of Criminal Case No. H-1581 to
the Office of the Clerk of Court, RTC Manila.53 The Order was
issued in compliance with the Resolution dated 23 April 2008
of this Court granting the request of then Secretary of Justice
Raul Gonzales to transfer the venue of the case.
The case was re-raffled to RTC Manila, Branch 32 (RTC Manila)
presided by Judge Thelma Bunyi-Medina (Judge Medina) and
re-docketed as Criminal Case No. 08-262163.54 Petitioner
Echanis was transferred to the PNP Custodial Center in Camp

Crame, Quezon City. On 12 August 2008, petitioners Echanis


and Baylosis filed their Supplemental Arguments to Motion for
Reconsideration.55
In an Order56 dated 27 October 2008, Judge Medina suspended
the proceedings of the case pending the resolution of G.R. No.
176830 by this Court.
On 18 December 2008, petitioner Ladlad filed with the RTC
Manila a Motion to Quash and/or Dismiss.57
On 23 December 2008, petitioner Echanis filed before us a
special civil action for certiorari and prohibition under Rule 65
of the Rules of Court seeking the annulment of the 30 April
2008 Order of Judge Abando and the 27 October 2008 Order of
Judge Medina.58 The petition, docketed as G.R. No. 185587,
prayed for the unconditional and immediate release of
petitioner Echanis, as well as the issuance of a temporary
restraining order/writ of preliminary injunction to restrain his
further incarceration.59
On 5 January 2009, petitioner Baylosis filed before us a special
civil action for certiorari and prohibition under Rule 65 of the
Rules of Court also seeking the annulment of the 30 April 2008
Order of Judge Abando and the 27 October 2008 Order of Judge
Medina.60 The petition, docketed as G.R. No. 185636, prayed for
the issuance of a temporary restraining order/ writ of
preliminary injunction to restrain the implementation of the
warrant of arrest against petitioner Baylosis.61
The Court consolidated G.R. Nos. 185587 and 185636 on 12
January 2009.62
On 3 March 2009, the Court ordered the further consolidation
of these two cases with G.R. No. 176830.63 We required64 the
OSG to comment on the prayer for petitioner Echaniss

immediate release, to which the OSG did not interpose any


objection on these conditions: that the temporary release shall
only be for the purpose of his attendance and participation in
the formal peace negotiations between the Government of the
Republic of the Philippines (GRP) and the CPP/NPA/NDFP, set
to begin in August 2009; and that his temporary release shall
not exceed six (6) months.65 The latter condition was later
modified, such that his temporary liberty shall continue for the
duration of his actual participation in the peace negotiations.66
On 11 August 2009, the Court ordered the provisional release
of petitioner Echanis under a P100,000 cash bond, for the
purpose of his participation in the formal peace negotiations.67
Meanwhile, the Department of Justice (DOJ) filed its
Opposition68 to petitioner Ladlads motion to quash before the
RTC Manila. The trial court conducted a hearing on the motion
on 13 February 2009.69
On 6 May 2009, Judge Medina issued an Order70 denying the
motion to quash. The motion for reconsideration filed by
petitioner Ladlad was also denied on 27 August 2009.71
On 9 November 2009, petitioner Ladlad filed before us a
special civil action for certiorari under Rule 65 of the Rules of
Court seeking the annulment of the 6 May 2009 and 27 August
2009 Orders of Judge Medina.72 The petition was docketed as
G.R. No. 190005.
On 11 January 2010, we ordered the consolidation of G.R. No.
190005 with G.R. Nos. 176830, 185587 and 185636.73 We also
required the OSG to file its comment thereon. The OSG
submitted its Comment74 on 7 May 2010.
On 27 July 2010, we likewise required the OSG to file its
Comment in G.R. Nos. 185636 and 185587.75 These Comments

were filed by the OSG on 13 December 201076 and on 21


January 2011,77 respectively. Petitioners Echanis and Baylosis
filed their Consolidated Reply78 on 7 June 2011.
On 2 May 2011, petitioner Ladlad filed an Urgent Motion to Fix
Bail.79 On 21 July 2011, petitioner Baylosis filed A Motion to
Allow Petitioner to Post Bail.80 The OSG interposed no
objection to the grant of a P100,000 cash bail to them
considering that they were consultants of the NDFP negotiating
team, which was then holding negotiations with the GRP peace
panel for the signing of a peace accord.81
On 17 January 2012, we granted the motions of petitioners
Ladlad and Baylosis and fixed their bail in the amount of
P100,000, subject to the condition that their temporary release
shall be limited to the period of their actual participation in the
peace negotiations.82
Petitioner Ladlad filed his Reply83 to the OSG Comment on 18
January 2013.
OUR RULING
Petitioners were accorded due process during
preliminary investigation and in the issuance of the warrants of
arrest.
A. Preliminary Investigation
A preliminary investigation is "not a casual affair."84 It is
conducted to protect the innocent from the embarrassment,
expense and anxiety of a public trial.85 While the right to have a
preliminary investigation before trial is statutory rather than
constitutional, it is a substantive right and a component of due
process in the administration of criminal justice.86

In the context of a preliminary investigation, the right to due


process of law entails the opportunity to be heard.87 It serves
to accord an opportunity for the presentation of the
respondents side with regard to the accusation. Afterwards,
the investigating officer shall decide whether the allegations
and defenses lead to a reasonable belief that a crime has been
committed, and that it was the respondent who committed it.
Otherwise, the investigating officer is bound to dismiss the
complaint.
"The essence of due process is reasonable opportunity to be
heard and submit evidence in support of one's defense."88
What is proscribed is lack of opportunity to be heard.89 Thus,
one who has been afforded a chance to present ones own side
of the story cannot claim denial of due process.90
Petitioners Echanis and Baylosis allege that they did not
receive a copy of the complaint and the attached documents or
evidence.91 Petitioner Ladlad claims that he was not served a
subpoena due to the false address indicated in the 12 undated
letters of P C/Insp. Almaden and Army Captain Tiu to
Prosecutor Vivero.92 Furthermore, even though his counsels
filed their formal entry of appearance before the Office of the
Prosecutor, petitioner Ladlad was still not sent a subpoena
through his counsels addresses.93 Thus, they were deprived of
the right to file counter-affidavits.
Petitioner Ocampo claims that Prosecutor Vivero, in collusion
with P C/Insp. Almaden and Army Captain Tiu, surreptitiously
inserted the Supplemental Affidavit of Zacarias Piedad in the
records of the case without furnishing petitioner Ocampo a
copy.94 The original affidavit of Zacarias Piedad dated 14
September 2006 stated that a meeting presided by petitioner
Ocampo was held in 1984, when the launching of Operation VD
was agreed upon.95 Petitioner Ocampo refuted this claim in his

Counter-affidavit dated 22 December 2006 stating that he was


in military custody from October 1976 until his escape in May
1985.96 Thereafter, the Supplemental Affidavit of Zacarias
Piedad dated 12 January 2007 admitted that he made a
mistake in his original affidavit, and that the meeting actually
took place in June 1985.97 Petitioner Ocampo argues that he
was denied the opportunity to reply to the Supplemental
Affidavit by not being furnished a copy thereof.
Petitioner Ocampo also claims that he was denied the right to
file a motion for reconsideration or to appeal the Resolution of
Prosecutor Vivero, because the latter deliberately delayed the
service of the Resolution by 19 days, effectively denying
petitioner Ocampo his right to due process.98
As to the claim of petitioners Echanis and Baylosis, we quote
the pertinent portion of Prosecutor Viveros Resolution, which
states:
In connection with the foregoing and pursuant to the Revised
Rules of Criminal Procedure[,] the respondents were issued
and served with Subpoena at their last known address for
them to submit their counter-affidavits and that of their
witnesses.
Majority of the respondents did not submit their counter-
affidavits because they could no longer be found in their last
known address, per return of the subpoenas. On the other
hand, Saturnino Ocampo @ Satur, Fides Lim, Maureen Palejaro
and Ruben Manatad submitted their Counter-Affidavits.
However, Vicente Ladlad and Jasmin Jerusalem failed to submit
the required Counter Affidavits in spite entry of appearance by
their respective counsels.99
Section 3(d), Rule 112 of the Rules of Court, allows Prosecutor

Vivero to resolve the complaint based on the evidence before


him if a respondent could not be subpoenaed. As long as efforts
to reach a respondent were made, and he was given an
opportunity to present countervailing evidence, the
preliminary investigation remains valid.100 The rule was put in
place in order to foil underhanded attempts of a respondent to
delay the prosecution of offenses.101
In this case, the Resolution stated that efforts were undertaken
to serve subpoenas on the named respondents at their last
known addresses. This is sufficient for due process. It was only
because a majority of them could no longer be found at their
last known addresses that they were not served copies of the
complaint and the attached documents or evidence.
Petitioner Ladlad claims that his subpoena was sent to the
nonexistent address "53 Sct. Rallos St., QC,"102 which had never
been his address at any time.103 In connection with this claim,
we take note of the fact that the subpoena to Fides Lim,
petitioner Ladlads wife,104 was sent to the same address, and
that she was among those mentioned in the Resolution as
having timely submitted their counter-affidavits.
Despite supposedly never receiving a subpoena, petitioner
Ladlads counsel filed a formal entry of appearance on 8
December 2006.105 Prosecutor Vivero had a reason to believe
that petitioner Ladlad had received the subpoena and
accordingly instructed his counsel to prepare his defense.
Petitioner Ladlad, through his counsel, had every opportunity
to secure copies of the complaint after his counsels formal
entry of appearance and, thereafter, to participate fully in the
preliminary investigation. Instead, he refused to participate.
We have previously cautioned that "litigants represented by

counsel should not expect that all they need to do is sit back,
relax and await the outcome of their case."106 Having opted to
remain passive during the preliminary investigation, petitioner
Ladlad and his counsel cannot now claim a denial of due
process, since their failure to file a counter-affidavit was of
their own doing.
Neither do we find any merit in petitioner Ocampos allegation
of collusion to surreptitiously insert the Supplemental Affidavit
of Zacarias Piedad in the records. There was nothing
surreptitious about the Supplemental Affidavit since it clearly
alludes to an earlier affidavit and admits the mistake
committed regarding the date of the alleged meeting. The date
of the execution of the Supplemental Affidavit was also clearly
stated. Thus, it was clear that it was executed after petitioner
Ocampo had submitted his counter-affidavit. Should the case
go to trial, that will provide petitioner Ocampo with the
opportunity to question the execution of Zacarias Piedads
Supplemental Affidavit.
Neither can we uphold petitioner Ocampos contention that he
was denied the right to be heard. For him to claim that he was
denied due process by not being furnished a copy of the
Supplemental Affidavit of Zacarias Piedad would imply that the
entire case of the prosecution rested on the Supplemental
Affidavit. The OSG has asserted that the indictment of
petitioner Ocampo was based on the collective affidavits of
several other witnesses107 attesting to the allegation that he
was a member of the CPP/NPA/NDFP Central Committee,
which had ordered the launch of Operation VD.
As to his claim that he was denied the right to file a motion for
reconsideration or to appeal the Resolution of Prosecutor
Vivero due to the 19-day delay in the service of the Resolution,
it must be pointed out that the period for filing a motion for

reconsideration or an appeal to the Secretary of Justice is


reckoned from the date of receipt of the resolution of the
prosecutor, not from the date of the resolution. This is clear
from Section 3 of the 2000 National Prosecution Service Rule
on Appeal:
Sec. 3. Period to appeal. The appeal shall be taken within
fifteen (15) days from receipt of the resolution, or of the denial
of the motion for reconsideration/ reinvestigation if one has
been filed within fifteen (15) days from receipt of the assailed
resolution. Only one motion for reconsideration shall be
allowed. (Emphasis supplied)
Thus, when petitioner Ocampo received the Resolution of
Prosecutor Vivero on 12 March 2007,108 the former had until
27 March 2007 within which to file either a motion for
reconsideration before the latter or an appeal before the
Secretary of Justice. Instead, petitioner Ocampo chose to file
the instant petition for certiorari directly before this Court on
16 March 2007.
B. Issuance of the Warrants of Arrest
Article III, Section 2 of the Constitution provides that "no
search warrant or warrant of arrest shall issue except upon
probable cause to be determined personally by the judge after
examination under oath or affirmation of the complainant and
the witnesses he may produce."
Petitioner Ocampo alleges that Judge Abando did not comply
with the requirements of the Constitution in finding the
existence of probable cause for the issuance of warrants of
arrest against petitioners.109
Probable cause for the issuance of a warrant of arrest has been
defined as "such facts and circumstances which would lead a

reasonably discreet and prudent man to believe that an offense


has been committed by the person sought to be arrested."110
Although the Constitution provides that probable cause shall
be determined by the judge after an examination under oath or
an affirmation of the complainant and the witnesses, we have
ruled that a hearing is not necessary for the determination
thereof.111 In fact, the judges personal examination of the
complainant and the witnesses is not mandatory and
indispensable for determining the aptness of issuing a warrant
of arrest.112
It is enough that the judge personally evaluates the
prosecutors report and supporting documents showing the
existence of probable cause for the indictment and, on the
basis thereof, issue a warrant of arrest; or if, on the basis of his
evaluation, he finds no probable cause, to disregard the
prosecutor's resolution and require the submission of
additional affidavits of witnesses to aid him in determining its
existence.113
Petitioners Echanis and Baylosis claim that, had Judge Abando
painstakingly examined the records submitted by Prosecutor
Vivero, the judge would have inevitably dismissed the charge
against them.114 Additionally, petitioner Ocampo alleges that
Judge Abando did not point out facts and evidence in the
record that were used as bases for his finding of probable
cause to issue a warrant of arrest.115
The determination of probable cause for the issuance of
warrants of arrest against petitioners is addressed to the
sound discretion of Judge Abando as the trial judge.116 Further
elucidating on the wide latitude given to trial judges in the
issuance of warrants of arrest, this Court stated in Sarigumba v.
Sandiganbayan117 as follows:

x x x. The trial court's exercise of its judicial discretion should


not, as a general rule, be interfered with in the absence of grave
abuse of discretion. Indeed, certiorari will not lie to cure errors
in the trial court's appreciation of the evidence of the parties,
the conclusion of facts it reached based on the said findings, as
well as the conclusions of law. x x x.
Whether or not there is probable cause for the issuance of
warrants for the arrest of the accused is a question of fact
based on the allegations in the Informations, the Resolution of
the Investigating Prosecutor, including other documents
and/or evidence appended to the Information.
Here, the allegations of petitioners point to factual matters
indicated in the affidavits of the complainants and witnesses as
bases for the contention that there was no probable cause for
petitioners indictment for multiple murder or for the issuance
of warrants for their arrest. As stated above, the trial judges
appreciation of the evidence and conclusion of facts based
thereon are not interfered with in the absence of grave abuse
of discretion. Again, "he sufficiently complies with the
requirement of personal determination if he reviews the
[I]nformation and the documents attached thereto, and on the
basis thereof forms a belief that the accused is probably guilty
of the crime with which he is being charged."118
Judge Abandos review of the Information and the supporting
documents is shown by the following portion of the judges 6
March 2007 Order:
On the evaluation of the Resolution and its Information as
submitted and filed by the Provincial Prosecution of Leyte
Province supported by the following documents: Affidavits of
Complainants, Sworn Statements of Witnesses and other
pertinent documents issued by the Regional Crime Laboratory

Office, PNP, Region VIII and Camp Crame, Quezon City, pictures
of the grave site and skeletal remains, this court has the
findings [sic] of probable cause in the commission by all
mentioned accused of the crime charged.119
At bottom, issues involving the finding of probable cause for an
indictment and issuance of a warrant of arrest, as petitioners
are doubtless aware, are primarily questions of fact that are
normally not within the purview of a petition for certiorari,120
such as the petitions filed in the instant consolidated cases.
The political offense doctrine is not a ground to dismiss the
charge against petitioners prior to a determination by the trial
court that the murders were committed in furtherance
of rebellion.
Under the political offense doctrine, "common crimes,
perpetrated in furtherance of a political offense, are divested of
their character as "common" offenses and assume the political
complexion of the main crime of which they are mere
ingredients, and, consequently, cannot be punished separately
from the principal offense, or complexed with the same, to
justify the imposition of a graver penalty."121
Any ordinary act assumes a different nature by being absorbed
in the crime of rebellion.122 Thus, when a killing is committed
in furtherance of rebellion, the killing is not homicide or
murder. Rather, the killing assumes the political complexion of
rebellion as its mere ingredient and must be prosecuted and
punished as rebellion alone.
However, this is not to say that public prosecutors are obliged
to consistently charge respondents with simple rebellion
instead of common crimes. No one disputes the well-
entrenched principle in criminal procedure that the institution

of criminal charges, including whom and what to charge, is


addressed to the sound discretion of the public prosecutor.123
But when the political offense doctrine is asserted as a defense
in the trial court, it becomes crucial for the court to determine
whether the act of killing was done in furtherance of a political
end, and for the political motive of the act to be conclusively
demonstrated.124
Petitioners aver that the records show that the alleged
murders were committed in furtherance of the
CPP/NPA/NDFP rebellion, and that the political motivation
behind the alleged murders can be clearly seen from the charge
against the alleged top leaders of the CPP/NPA/NDFP as co-
conspirators.
We had already ruled that the burden of demonstrating
political motivation must be discharged by the defense, since
motive is a state of mind which only the accused knows.125 The
proof showing political motivation is adduced during trial
where the accused is assured an opportunity to present
evidence supporting his defense. It is not for this Court to
determine this factual matter in the instant petitions.
As held in the case of Office of the Provincial Prosecutor of
Zamboanga Del Norte v. CA,126 if during trial, petitioners are
able to show that the alleged murders were indeed committed
in furtherance of rebellion, Section 14, Rule 110 of the Rules of
Court provides the remedy, to wit:
SECTION 14. Amendment or substitution. A complaint or
information may be amended, in form or in substance, without
leave of court, at any time before the accused enters his plea.
After the plea and during the trial, a formal amendment may
only be made with leave of court and when it can be done

without causing prejudice to the rights of the accused.


However, any amendment before plea, which downgrades the
nature of the offense charged in or excludes any accused from
the complaint or information, can be made only upon motion
by the prosecutor, with notice to the offended party and with
leave of court. The court shall state its reasons in resolving the
motion and copies of its order shall be furnished all parties,
especially the offended party. (n)
If it appears at any time before judgment that a mistake has
been made in charging the proper offense, the court shall
dismiss the original complaint or information upon the filing of
a new one charging the proper offense in accordance with
Section 19, Rule 119, provided the accused shall not be placed
in double jeopardy. The court may require the witnesses to
give bail for their appearance at the trial. (Emphasis supplied)
Thus, if it is shown that the proper charge against petitioners
should have been simple rebellion, the trial court shall dismiss
the murder charges upon the filing of the Information for
simple rebellion, as long as petitioners would not be placed in
double jeopardy.
Section 7, Rule 117 of the Rules of Court, states:
SEC. 7. Former conviction or acquittal; double jeopardy.
When an accused has been convicted or acquitted, or the case
against him dismissed or otherwise terminated without his
express consent by a court of competent jurisdiction, upon a
valid complaint or information or other formal charge
sufficient in form and substance to sustain a conviction and
after the accused had pleaded to the charge, the conviction or
acquittal of the accused or the dismissal of the case shall be a
bar to another prosecution for the offense charged, or for any

attempt to commit the same or frustration thereof, or for any


offense which necessarily includes or is necessarily included in
the offense charged in the former complaint or information.
Based on the above provision, double jeopardy only applies
when: (1) a first jeopardy attached; (2) it has been validly
terminated; and (3) a second jeopardy is for the same offense
as in the first.127
A first jeopardy attaches only after the accused has been
acquitted or convicted, or the case has been dismissed or
otherwise terminated without his express consent, by a
competent court in a valid indictment for which the accused
has entered a valid plea during arraignment.128
To recall, on 12 May 2006, an Information for the crime of
rebellion, as defined and penalized under Article 134 in
relation to Article 135 of the Revised Penal Code, docketed as
Criminal Case No. 06-944 was filed before the RTC Makati
against petitioners and several others.129
However, petitioners were never arraigned in Criminal Case
No. 06-944.1awp++i1 Even before the indictment for rebellion
was filed before the RTC Makati, petitioners Ocampo, Echanis
and Ladlad had already filed a petition before this Court to
seek the nullification of the Orders of the DOJ denying their
motion for the inhibition of the members of the prosecution
panel due to lack of impartiality and independence.130 When
the indictment was filed, petitioners Ocampo, Echanis and
Ladlad filed supplemental petitions to enjoin the prosecution
of Criminal Case No. 06-944.131 We eventually ordered the
dismissal of the rebellion case. It is clear then that a first
jeopardy never had a chance to attach.
Petitioner Ocampo shall remain on provisional liberty under

the P100,000 cash bond posted before the Office of the Clerk of
Court. He shall remain on provisional liberty until the
termination of the proceedings before the RTC Manila.1wphi1
The OSG has given its conformity to the provisional liberty of
petitioners Echanis, Baylosis and Ladlad in view of the ongoing
peace negotiations. Their provisional release from detention
under the cash bond of P100,000 each shall continue under the
condition that their temporary release shall be limited to the
period of their actual participation as CPP-NDF consultants in
the peace negotiations with the government or until the
termination of the proceedings before the RTC Manila,
whichever is sooner. It shall be the duty of the government to
inform this Court the moment that peace negotiations are
concluded.
WHEREFORE, the instant consolidated petitions are
DISMISSED. The RTC of Manila, Branch 32, is hereby ORDERED
to proceed with dispatch with the hearing of Criminal Case No.
08-262163. Petitioner Saturnino C. Ocampo shall remain on
temporary liberty under the same bail granted by this Court
until the termination of the proceedings before the RTC Manila.
Petitioners Randall B. Echanis, Rafael G. Baylosis and Vicente P.
Ladlad shall remain on temporary liberty under the same bail
granted by this Court until their actual participation as CPP-
NDF consultants in the peace negotiations with the
government are concluded or terminated, or until the
termination of the proceedings before the RTC Manila,
whichever is sooner.
SO ORDERED.
MARIA LOURDES P. A. SERENO Chief Justice
WE CONCUR:

ANTONIO T. CARPIO Associate Justice

PRESBITERO J. VELASCO, JR.


TERESITA J. LEONARDO
Associate Justice
Associate Justi
ARTURO D. BRION
DIOSDADO M. PER
Associate Justice
Associate Justi
LUCAS P. BERSAMIN
MARIANO C. DEL CA
Associate Justice
Associate Justi
ROBERTO A. ABAD
MARTIN S. VILLARA
Associate Justice
Associate Justi
JOSE PORTUGAL PEREZ
JOSE CATRAL MEN
Associate Justice
Associate Justi
BIENVENIDO L. REYES
ESTELA M. PERLAS-B
Associate Justice
Associate Justi
See separate concurring opinion MARVIC MARIO VICTOR F.
LEONEN Associate Justice
C E R T I F I C A T I O N
Pursuant to Section 13, Article VIII of the Constitution, I certify
that the conclusions in the above Decision had been reached in
consultation before the cases were assigned to the writer of the
opinion of the Court.
MARIA LOURDES P. A. SERENO Chief Justice

Footnotes
1

Also allegedly found from 2009 to 2012 were more mass


grave sites in Gubat, Sorsogon; Camalig, Albay; and Labo,
Camarines Norte all in the Bicol Region
[http://www.interaksyon.com/article/38278/photos--bones-
in-npa-mass-grave-dont-easily-surrender-names-of-victims
(Last accessed on 13 January 2014)].

On 21 July 2012, a mass grave was found in San Francisco,


Quezon
[http://newsinfo.inquirer.net/233887/remains-
found-in-quezon-mass-grave-include-a-pregnant-rebel-army-
exec (Last accessed on 13 January 2014)].
2 Except G.R. No. 190005, which is only a petition for certiorari.
3 Rollo (G.R. No. 176830), pp. 135-269.
4 Id. at 139.
5 Id. at 336.
6 Id.
7 Id. at 337.
8 Id. at 424-427.
9 Id. at 427.
10 Id. at 336-338.
11 Id. at 337-338.
12 With Supplemental Affidavit dated 12 January 2007; id. at

276-278.
13 Id. at 273, 287, 296, 309, 318 and 329.
14 Id. at 289.
15 Id. at 288, 310, 319 and 329.
16 Id. at 319.
17 Id. at 310, 319 and 329.

18 Id. at 310 and 319.


19 Id. at 289-290.
20 Id. at 89.
21 Id. at 291.
22 Id. at 91.
23 Id.
24 Rollo (G.R. No. 185587), p. 10.
25 Rollo (G.R. No. 185636), p. 14.
26 Rollo (G.R. No. 190005), p. 51.
27 Id. at 52.
28 Rollo (G.R. No. 176830), pp. 88-94.
29 Id. at 93.
30 Id.
31 Id. at 84-87.
32

Id. at 96-99. Petitioner Ocampo received a copy of the


Resolution on 12 March 2007.
33 Id. at 82.
34 Id.
35 Id. at 3-81.
36 Id. at 77.

37 Rollo (G.R. No. 185587), p. 451.


38 Rollo (G.R. No. 190005), p. 75.
39 Rollo (G.R. No. 176830), p. 59. On 1 June 2007, the Supreme

Court granted the petitions in Ladlad v. Velasco G.R. Nos.


172070-72, 172074-76 and 175013 in which the RTC of
Makati, Branch 150, was ordered to dismiss Criminal Case Nos.
06-452 and 06-944.
40 Id. at 62.
41 Id. at 515-A 515-B.
42 Id. at 541-542.
43 Id. at 554-A.
44 Id. at 554-C 554-D.
45 Id. at 554-D.
46 Id. at 557-558.
47 Rollo (G.R. No. 185587), pp. 426-427.
48 Id. at 428-429.
49 Id. at 18.
50 Id. at 430-460.
51 Id. at 69-73.
52 Id. at 461-485.
53 Id. at 486.

54 Id. at 19.
55 Id. at 487-519.
56 Id. at 64-68.
57 Rollo (G.R. No. 190005), pp. 162-218.
58 Rollo, (G.R. No. 185587), pp. 3-63.
59 Id. at 56.
60 Rollo (G.R. No. 185636), pp. 7-71.
61 Id. at 64.
62 Id. at 564.
63 Rollo (G.R. No. 185587), p. 587.
64 Id. at 606-607.
65 Rollo (G.R. No. 176830), pp. 736-740.
66 Id. at 1029-1032.
67 Id. at 742-743.
68 Rollo (G.R. No. 190005), pp. 331-340.
69 Id. at 347-348.
70 Id. at 108-111.
71 Id. at 112.
72 Id. at 3-107.
73 Id. at 860-861.

74 Id. at 879-922.
75 Id. at 932-933.
76 Id. at 940-1003.
77 Rollo (G.R. No. 185587), pp. 807-851.
78 Rollo (G.R. No. 185636), pp. 1363-1391.
79 Rollo (G.R. No. 190005), pp. 1006-1024.
80 Rollo (G.R. No. 185636), pp. 1399-1402.
81 Rollo (G.R. No. 190005), p. 1046; rollo (G.R. No. 185636), p.

1419.
82 Rollo (G.R. No. 190005), pp. 1050-1053.
83 Id. at 1073-1116.
84 Ang-Abaya v. Ang, G.R. No. 178511, 4 December 2008, 573

SCRA 129, 146.


85 Uy v. Office of the Ombudsman, G.R. Nos. 156399-400, 27

June 2008, 556 SCRA 73, 93.


86 Id.
87 Santos v. People, G.R. No. 173176, 26 August 2008, 563 SCRA

341, 369.
88 Kuizon v. Desierto, 406 Phil. 611, 630 (2001).
89 Id.
90 Pascual v. People, 547 Phil. 620, 627 (2007).

91 Rollo (G.R. No. 185587), p. 31; rollo (G.R. No. 185636), p. 41.
92 Rollo (G.R. No. 190005), pp. 49-50.
93 Id. at 51-52.
94 Rollo (G.R. No. 176830), pp. 75-76.
95 Id. at 288-289.
96 Id. at 45-46.
97 Id. at 277.
98 Id. at 74-75.
99 Id. at 91.
100 Rodis, Sr. v. Sandiganbayan, 248 Phil. 854, 859 (1988).
101 Id.
102 Rollo (G.R. No. 176830), p. 136.
103 Rollo (G.R. No. 190005), p. 51.
104 Id. at 11.
105 Id. at 51.
106 Balgami v. CA, 487 Phil. 102, 115 (2004), citing Salonga v.

CA, 336 Phil. 514 (1997).


107 Rollo (G.R. No. 176830), p. 587.
108 Id. at 74.
109 Id. at 21.

110 Allado v. Diokno, G.R. No. 113630, 5 May 1994, 232 SCRA

192, 199-200.
111 De los Santos-Reyes v. Montesa, Jr., 317 Phil. 101, 111

(1995).
112 People v. Grey, G.R. No. 180109, 26 July 2010, 625 SCRA

523, 536.
113 Supra note 111.
114 Rollo (G.R. No. 185587), p. 27; rollo (G.R. No. 185636), p. 34.
115 Rollo (G.R. No. 176830), p. 64.
116 Sarigumba v. Sandiganbayan, 491 Phil. 704, 720 (2005).
117 Id. at 720-721.
118 Cuevas v. Muoz, 401 Phil. 752, 773-774 (2000).
119 Rollo (G.R. No. 176830), p. 82.
120 Heirs of Marasigan v. Marasigan, G.R. No. 156078, 14 March

2008, 548 SCRA 409, 443; Serapio v. Sandiganbayan (Third


Division), 444 Phil. 499, 529 (2003); Reyes v. CA, 378 Phil. 984,
990 (1999).
121 People v. Hernandez, 99 Phil. 515, 541 (1956).
122 People v. Lovedioro, 320 Phil. 481, 489 (1995).
123

Glaxosmithkline Philippines, Inc. v. Malik, 530 Phil. 662


(2006); Punzalan v. Dela Pea, 478 Phil. 771 (2004); Potot v.
People, 432 Phil. 1028 (2002).
124 Supra note 122.

125 Id.
126 401 Phil. 945, 961 (2000).
127 Pacoy v. Cajigal, G.R. No. 157472, 28 September 2007, 534

SCRA 338, 352.


128 Id.
129 Rollo (G.R. No. 176830), pp. 117-128.
130 Ladlad v. Velasco, G.R. Nos. 172070-72, 172074-76, 175013,

1 June 2007, 523 SCRA 318, 340.


131 Id.