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RepublicofthePhilippines

SUPREMECOURT
BaguioCity
THIRDDIVISION
G.R.No.197293April21,2014
ALFREDOC.MENDOZA,Petitioner,
vs.
PEOPLEOFTHEPHILIPPINESANDJUNOCARS,INC.,Respondents.
DECISION
LEONEN,J.:
FACTS:
JunoCarsallegedthatonJune2,2007,ithiredAlfredoasTradeIn/UsedCarSupervisor.OnNovember
19,2007,itsDealer/Operator,RolandoGarcia,conductedapartialauditoftheusedcarsanddiscovered
thatfive(5)carshadbeensoldandreleasedbyAlfredowithoutRolandosorthefinancemanagers
permission.4
Thepartialauditshowedthatthebuyersofthefivecarsmadepayments,butAlfredofailedtoremitthe
paymentstotallingP886,000.00.Itwasfurtherallegedthatwhiletherewere20carsunderAlfredos
custody,only18wereaccountedfor.FurtherinvestigationrevealedthatAlfredofailedtoturnoverthefiles
ofa2001HyundaiStarexandaHondaCity1.5LXI.JunoCarsallegedthattakingintoaccountthe
unremittedamountsandtheacquisitioncostoftheHondaCity,Alfredopilferedatotalamountof
P1,046,000.00toitsprejudiceanddamage.5
Inhiscounteraffidavit,Alfredoraised,amongothers,JunoCarssupposedfailuretoproveownershipover
thefive(5)carsoritsrighttopossessthemwiththepurportedunremittedpayments.Hence,itcouldnot
havesuffereddamage.6
OnMarch4,2008,ProvincialProsecutorReyF.DelgadoissuedaResolution7findingprobablecauseand
recommendingthefilingofaninformationagainstAlfredoforqualifiedtheftandestafa.
Alfredomovedforreconsideration,butthemotionwasdenied.8Hethenfiledapetitionforreviewwiththe
DepartmentofJusticeonMay16,2008.9
WhileAlfredosmotionforreconsiderationwasstillpendingbeforetheOfficeoftheCityProsecutorof
Mandaluyong,twoinformationsforqualifiedtheft10andestafa11werefiledbeforetheRegionalTrial
Court,Branch212,MandaluyongCity.OnMarch31,2008,Alfredofiledamotionfordeterminationof
probablecause12beforethetrialcourt.OnApril28,2008,healsofiledamotiontodeferarraignment.
OnMarch3,2009,thetrialcourt,throughPresidingJudgeRizalinaCapcoUmali,issuedanorder15
dismissingthecomplaint,statingthat:
Afterconductinganindependentassessmentoftheevidenceonrecordwhichincludestheassailed,the
courtholdsthattheevidenceadduceddoesnotsupportafindingofprobablecausefortheoffensesof
qualifiedtheftandestafa.xxx.16

JunoCarsfiledamotionforreconsideration,whichthetrialcourtdeniedonJuly3,2009.17
JunoCarsthenfiledapetitionforcertiorariwiththeCourtofAppeals,arguingthatthetrialcourtacted
withoutorinexcessofitsjurisdictionandwithgraveabuseofdiscretionwhenitdismissedthecomplaint.
Itarguedthat"thedeterminationofprobablecauseandthedecisionwhetherornottofileacriminalcasein
court,rightfullybelongstothepublicprosecutor."18
OnJanuary14,2011,theCourtofAppealsrenderedadecision,19reversedthetrialcourt,andreinstated
thecase.Initsdecision,theappellatecourtruledthatthetrialcourtactedwithoutorinexcessofits
jurisdiction"insupplantingthepublicprosecutorsfindingsofprobablecausewithherownfindingsof
insufficiencyofevidenceandlackofprobablecause."20
Aggrieved,AlfredofiledapetitionforreviewunderRule45beforethiscourt.
ISSUE1:
whetherthetrialcourtmaydismissaninformationfiledbytheprosecutoronthebasisofitsown
independentfindingoflackofprobablecause.
RULING1:
Whilethedeterminationofprobablecausetochargeapersonofacrimeisthesolefunctionofthe.
prosecutor,thetrialcourtmay,intheprotectionofone'sfundamentalrighttoliberty,dismissthecaseif,
uponapersonalassessmentoftheevidence,itfindsthattheevidencedoesnotestablishprobablecause.
Theconductofthepreliminaryinvestigationandthesubsequentdeterminationoftheexistenceofprobable
causeliesolelywithinthediscretionofthepublicprosecutor.29Ifuponevaluationoftheevidence,the
prosecutorfindssufficientbasistofindprobablecause,heorsheshallthencausethefilingofthe
informationwiththecourt.
Oncetheinformationhasbeenfiled,thejudgeshallthen"personallyevaluatetheresolutionofthe
prosecutoranditssupportingevidence"30todeterminewhetherthereisprobablecausetoissueawarrant
ofarrest.Atthisstage,ajudicialdeterminationofprobablecauseexists.

ISSUE2:
Whatisthedifferencebetweenthedeterminationofprobablecausebytheprosecutorononehandandthe
determinationofprobablecausebythejudgeontheother.

RULING2:
Therearetwokindsofdeterminationofprobablecause:executiveandjudicial.Theexecutive
determinationofprobablecauseisonemadeduringpreliminaryinvestigation.Itisafunctionthatproperly
pertainstothepublicprosecutorwhoisgivenabroaddiscretiontodeterminewhetherprobablecauseexists
andtochargethosewhomhebelievestohavecommittedthecrimeasdefinedbylawandthusshouldbe

heldfortrial.Otherwisestated,suchofficialhasthequasijudicialauthoritytodeterminewhetherornota
criminalcasemustbefiledincourt.Whetherornotthatfunctionhasbeencorrectlydischargedbythe
publicprosecutor,i.e.,whetherornothehasmadeacorrectascertainmentoftheexistenceofprobable
causeinacase,isamatterthatthetrialcourtitselfdoesnotandmaynotbecompelledtopassupon.
Thejudicialdeterminationofprobablecause,ontheotherhand,isonemadebythejudgetoascertain
whetherawarrantofarrestshouldbeissuedagainsttheaccused.Thejudgemustsatisfyhimselfthatbased
ontheevidencesubmitted,thereisnecessityforplacingtheaccusedundercustodyinordernottofrustrate
theendsofjustice.Ifthejudgefindsnoprobablecause,thejudgecannotbeforcedtoissuethearrest
warrant.32
Inanycase,iftherewaspalpableerrororgraveabuseofdiscretioninthepublicprosecutorsfindingof
probablecause,theaccusedcanappealsuchfindingtothejusticesecretaryandmoveforthedefermentor
suspensionoftheproceedingsuntilsuchappealisresolved.36(Emphasissupplied)
Inthiscase,theresolutiondatedMarch4,2008ofProsecutorReyF.Delgadofoundthatthefactsand
evidencewere"sufficienttowarranttheindictmentof[petitioner]xxx."37Therewasnothinginhis
resolutionwhichshowedthatheissueditbeyondthediscretiongrantedtohimbylawandjurisprudence.
WhiletheinformationfiledbyProsecutorDelgadowasvalid,JudgeCapcoUmalistillhadthediscretionto
makeherownfindingofwhetherprobablecauseexistedtoorderthearrestoftheaccusedandproceedwith
trial.
Jurisdictionoveranaccusedisacquiredwhenthewarrantofarrestisserved.Absentthis,thecourtcannot
holdtheaccusedforarraignmentandtrial.
Inthiscase,JudgeCapcoUmalimadeanindependentassessmentoftheevidenceonrecordandconcluded
that"theevidenceadduceddoesnotsupportafindingofprobablecausefortheoffensesofqualifiedtheft
andestafa."41Specifically,shefoundthatJunoCars"failedtoprovebycompetentevidence"42thatthe
vehiclesallegedtohavebeenpilferedbyAlfredowerelawfullypossessedorownedbythem,orthatthese
vehicleswerereceivedbyAlfredo,tobeabletosubstantiatethechargeofqualifiedtheft.Shealsofound
thatthecomplaint"[did]notstatewithparticularitytheexactvalueoftheallegedofficefilesortheir
valuationpurportedlyhavebeenremoved,concealedordestroyedbytheaccused,"43whichshefound
crucialtotheprosecutionofthecrimeofestafaunderArticle315,fourthparagraph,no.3(c)oftheRevised
PenalCode.
Accordingly,withthepresentlawsandjurisprudenceonthematter,JudgeCapcoUmalicorrectly
dismissedthecaseagainstAlfredo.
Althoughjurisprudenceandproceduralrulesallowit,ajudgemustalwaysproceedwithcautionin
dismissingcasesduetolackofprobablecause,consideringthepreliminarynatureoftheevidencebeforeit.
Itisonlywhenheorshefindsthattheevidenceonhandabsolutelyfailstosupportafindingofprobable
causethatheorshecandismissthecase.Ontheotherhand,ifajudgefindsprobablecause,heorshemust
nothesitatetoproceedwitharraignmentandtrialinorderthatjusticemaybeserved.
WHEREFORE,thepetitionisGRANTED.ThedecisiondatedJanuary14,2011oftheCourtofAppealsin
CAG.R.SP.No.110774isREVERSEDandSETASIDE.CriminalCaseNos.MC081160405against
AlfredoC.MendozaareDISMISSED.
SOORDERED.

MARVICMARIOVICTORF.LEONEN
AssociateJustice