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G.R. NO. 147678-87, 2004 July 7, En Banc

On 30 October 1996, ten (10) informations, one for each count of rape, allegedly committed on ten different dates 07 October 1995, 14 December 1995, 05 January 1996, 12 January 1996, 29 February 1996, 08 May 1996, 02 July
1996, 18 July 1996, 16 August 1996 and 28 August 1996 - were filed against appellant EFREN MATEO. Except for
the variance in dates, the ten informations, later docketed Criminal Cases No. 9351 to No. 9360, inclusive, in the
Regional Trial Court of Tarlac, uniformly read "The undersigned OIC Provincial Prosecutor upon preliminary investigation conducted by the MTC, Tarlac,
Tarlac, Branch 1, accuses Efren Mateo of Brgy. Buenavista, Tarlac, Tarlac of the crime of Rape, committed as follows:
That on or about January 12, 1996, in the Municipality of Tarlac, Province of Tarlac, Philippines and within the
jurisdiction of this Honorable Court, the said accused Efren Mateo y Garcia, who is the guardian of the complaining
witness, did then and there willfully, unlawfully and feloniously and by means of force and intimidation have carnal
knowledge with said Imelda C. Mateo in their house against her consent."[1]
The trial ensued following a plea of not guilty entered by appellant to all the charges.
According to Imelda Mateo, she was born on 11 September 1980 to the spouses Dan Icban and Rosemarie
Capulong. Rosemarie Capulong and appellant started to live together without the benefit of marriage when private
complainant was only two years old. Imelda stayed with her mother and appellant in a house in Buenavista, Tarlac,
and adopted the surname of appellant when she started schooling.
Imelda recalled that each time the ten rape incidents occurred her mother, Rosemarie, was not at home. On 07
October 1995, the date of the first rape, Rosemarie went to Bamban and returned home only the next day. The
second rape was said to have occurred on 14 December 1995, while her mother was attending a seminar for daycare workers. Imelda recalled the third rape to have been committed on 05 January 1996, the same day her mother
resigned from her job and left for Manila. The fourth rape, she said, happened a week later, on 12 January 1996,
when Rosemarie Capulong was attending yet another seminar for day-care workers. The fifth incident was on 29
February 1996, when Rosemarie left for Manila to follow-up her application for an overseas job. The sixth rape took
place on 08 May 1996 when Rosemarie was once again in Manila to attend to her application papers. On 01 July
1996, Rosemarie and appellant left for Manila as Rosemarie was scheduled to depart for Jeddah. Appellant returned
home in the evening of the next day, 02 July 1996, the same day the job recruiter relayed the news that Rosemarie
Capulong could not yet leave for Jeddah. During the night, appellant again molested Imelda. With Rosemarie finally
away, appellant frequented his nocturnal visits. On the night of 18 July 1996, appellant went into her room and
abused her while her siblings were sleeping in the sala. The same incident was repeated on the night of 16 August
1996 when appellant, already naked, entered the room and sexually assaulted Imelda. The last rape was committed
on 28 August 1996. According to private complainant, she never reported any of the ten incidents to anybody
because the accused had threatened to kill her and her mother if she were to disclose the matter to anyone.
Imelda stated that each of the ten rape incidents were committed in invariably the same fashion. All were perpetrated
inside the house in Buenavista, Tarlac, during the night and, each time, she would try to ward off his advances by
kicking him but that he proved to be too strong for her. These incidents occurred in the presence of her three
sleeping siblings who failed to wake up despite the struggles she exerted to fend off the advances. She recalled that
in all ten instances, appellant had covered her mouth with a handkerchief to prevent her from shouting.

Subsequently, however, she changed her statement to say that on two occasions, particularly the alleged sexual
assaults on 02 July 1996 and 18 July 1996, appellant had only covered her mouth with his hands. Still much later,
Imelda testified that he had not covered her mouth at all.
The predictable pattern of the rape incidents testified to by Imelda prompted the defense to ask her whether she had,
at any one time, taken any protective measure in anticipation of the rape incidents. She replied that once she had
requested her brothers and sister to keep her company in the bedroom at night but appellant had scolded them. On
the night of the fourth rape, she narrated that she armed herself with a knife but, when appellant entered her room
that night, she was not able to retrieve the bladed weapon from under the bed as appellant was sitting right on top of
Dr. Rosario Fider, the second witness for the prosecution, stated that she had physically examined private
complainant on 14 October 1996 and found superficially healed lacerations at 3:00, 6:00 and 9:00 positions on her
private organ that could have been caused by an insertion of an instrument or by sexual intercourse. According to Dr.
Fider, the lacerations pointed to possibly one or two, and at most three, incidents of rape, which had happened not
earlier than two weeks before the date of the physical examination.
Appellant denied each of the charges. On 07 October 1995, the date of the first rape, he claimed that he was in
Barangay Talaga, Capas, to pick up newly hatched ducklings, numbering about a thousand, which had to be properly
fed, kept warm and constantly cared for that required him to be around the entire day and night for two weeks. The
fowls had then to be brought into an open field located one and a half kilometers away which could be traversed by
foot. He continued to tend to the animals from 20 October 1995 until sometime in February 1996. During the period,
he was able to go home only once a week or three times a month.
On 14 December 1995, the supposed date of the second rape, appellant admitted that he had temporarily left the
care of his ducks to go caroling with his wife, their daughter Imelda and some friends. He immediately returned to
care for his ducks, located some 500 meters from their residence, that kept him busy and away from home when the
third, fourth and fifth rape incidents were said to have taken place on the 5th and 12th of January and 29th of
February of 1996. While he admitted to leaving occasionally the animals in order to go home, these visits, however,
were said to be brief and mainly for getting some food and fresh clothes. Appellant could not recall when exactly he
sold the ducks but it was definitely prior to 08 May 1996, the day he was accepted and reported for work at the LA
Construction of Hacienda Luisita, Tarlac, located some three kilometers away. On 08 May 1996, the date of the sixth
rape, he was at work from seven oclock in the morning until the following day to finish a rush job.
On 01 July 1996, he accompanied his wife, Rosemarie, to Manila who was scheduled to leave for Jeddah the
following day. Upon being advised that her flight was postponed, the couple stayed in the house of one Luding
Sevilla in Caloocan. On 03 July, he returned to Tarlac. From 15 July to September, 1996, he was given the nightshift
at the LA Construction. Appellant asserted that it was impossible for him to have raped private complainant on 28
August 1996 because at six oclock that evening, his friends Boy Botio, Boy Pineda, Marvin Dalangin and Nelson
Castro had picked him up at his house to attend the fiesta at Barangay Murcia, Concepcion, Tarlac, where they spent
the night.
Appellant dismissed the charges against him as being the malicious retribution of a vengeful stepdaughter.
Allegedly, on 11 October 1996, he took private complainant to task after his son, Marlon Mateo, who had reported
seeing her engaged in sexual intercourse with one Pikong Navarro inside the room of their house. Earlier, on 05
August 1996, he also learned that Sharon Flores, a neighbor and a friend of private complainant, had caught his
stepdaughter and Navarro in a very compromising position. In anger, he hit Imelda twice with a piece of bamboo. He
then forbade her from going out at night and leaving her siblings alone in the house.
Rosemarie Capulong, the mother of private complainant, rose to testify in defense of her common-law husband.
Capulong asserted that she had not at any time, prior to her departure for Jeddah, spent any night outside their
house. Rosemarie said that she was a day-care teacher from June 1990 until June 1996. On 07 October 1995, the
date of the supposed first rape, she was at home and did not go to Bamban as so claimed by private complainant.

Capulong disputed the claim of private complainant that she attended a seminar for day-care workers on 12 January
1996 since her job did not require her to attend seminars except for regular meetings held on the last Friday of every
month, with each meeting lasting for only half a day. The last seminar she had attended was in June of 1990 in
Tarlac. On 29 February 1996, Rosemarie was also certain that she spent the night at home as she had to report for
work the following day. She started obtaining documents for her planned employment abroad only on 12 February
1996, when she secured her birth certificate in Bamban as so attested by the date appearing on the certification from
the Municipal Civil Registrar of Bamban. On 08 May 1996, she admitted being away from home while attending a
general assembly of day-care workers in Zambales. On that day, appellant was likewise not at home due to his
overtime work up until about three or four oclock in the early morning. Imelda herself, Capulong testified, had
attended on that day the San Miguel fiesta. Contrary to the allegation of private complainant, the witness was not in
Manila on the 5th and 12th of January 1996 because, at that time, she had yet no plans of working overseas. She
denied the assertions of private complainant that Capulong had resigned from her day-care work on 05 January
1996, saying it was actually months later, or in June of 1996, when she quit her job. It was on 13 February 1996
when she went to Manila for the first time to attend to her application for a possible overseas work. She made
subsequent trips to the city, that is, on the 3rd, 5th, 8th and 24th of the month of June, to follow-up her employment
papers and to submit herself to a medical check-up. All these visits only took a day, and she would always be home
in Buenavista at nightfall. On 01 July 1996, appellant accompanied her to Manila but, upon learning that her flight
was postponed, they spent the night in Caloocan. The couple stayed together in Manila until 03 July 1996, when
appellant decided to return to Tarlac. Rosemarie worked in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia, until 11 November 1996 when she
decided to return home.
Rosemarie Capulong corroborated the testimony of appellant regarding his whereabouts from October 1995, when
the ducks were first brought to the field, until 15 December 1995, when appellant had joined her and their friends
caroling. Capulong believed that the charges may have been fabricated by her relatives who were jealous of
appellant because it was he, not they, who had been receiving the remittances of her earnings from Saudi Arabia.
Sharon Flores, a neighbor, testified that, about noontime on 05 August 1996, she repaired to the house of private
complainant to investigate rumors regarding a man seen entering the Capulong residence. When she went in, she
saw private complainant and Pikong Navarro lying on the bed, embracing each other under a blanket.
Anselmo Botio, a friend of appellant, and Marlon Mateo, a brother of private complainant, corroborated appellants
alibi. Botio said that on 28 August 1996, at six oclock in the evening, he, together with appellant and some friends,
went to attend the fiesta in Barangay Murcia upon the invitation of one Ruben Santos. The group arrived in Murcia at
seven oclock that evening and promptly had dinner and a drinking spree which lasted until the morning of the next
Marlon Mateo testified that one day in October 1996, while his mother was working overseas, he arrived home from
school, and saw Pikong Navarro and private complainant, both naked, on the bed. Navarro was on top of private
complainant and was making thrusting motions. Marlon Mateo hurriedly left to report the incident to his father.
At the conclusion of the trial, the court a quo issued its decision, dated 23 January 2001, finding appellant guilty
beyond reasonable doubt of ten (10) counts of rape
"WHEREFORE, the Court finds the accused guilty beyond reasonable doubt of ten (10) counts of rape and is hereby
sentenced to suffer the penalty of reclusion perpetua for each count of rape and to indemnify the complainant the
sum of P50,000.00 as actual damages and P50,000.00 as moral damages for each count of rape."[2]
More often than not, the Court has deemed it sufficient to convict an accused for rape solely on the basis of the
testimony of the victim.[3] The heavy reliance normally given by the Court on the narration of the victim finds
justification on the fact that, generally, she would be the sole witness to the incident and the shy and demure
character of the typical Filipina would preclude her from fabricating that crime. It is imperative, nonetheless, that the
testimony must be convincing and straightforward in order to avoid any serious doubt from being cast on the veracity
of the account given.

Relative to the first supposed rape incident, private complainant categorically stated that she had slept in the lone
bedroom of the house while her siblings and her stepfather slept in the sala

How did (sic) he able to remove your t-shirt and shorts?


He brought me to the sala and in that place when he undressed me, sir.
x x x




How did (sic) he able to take you out from the room? In what way?


She (sic) lifted me and still my mouth was covered, my hands were stocked and I cannot move, sir.

Q. She (sic) lifted you by his two hands, is that right?


Yes, sir.[4]


You testified on direct examination that there is only one room in your house, is that right?


Yes, sir.


And you were then sleeping inside your house in that one room, is that right?


Yes, sir.

Q. While your brothers as well as your stepfather were then sleeping outside your room, you [were] also sleeping,
is that right?

Yes, sir.[5]

In the next breath, however, she testified that all her three siblings were sleeping with her on the night of 07 October
1995 Q.

How did (sic) he able to remove your t-shirt and shorts?


He brought me to the sala and in that place when he undressed me, sir.

Q. Do you want to tell this Honorable Court that he brought you to the sala where your brothers Ryan and Marlon
and your sister Iris were then sleeping?

My brothers and sister were sleeping in the room, sir.


Is it not a fact that there was only one room in your house?


But they slept there on that night, sir.

Q. In other words, Madam Witness, you were sleeping together with Ryan, Marlon, and Iris by that time in one
room together in one bed?

Yes, sir.[6]

Still, later, Imelda changed her testimony and said that her brothers were in the sala and that it was only her sister Iris
who was with her in the bedroom when the rape incidents were committed Q.

How about your brother Ryan where did he sleep on October 7, 1995?


At the sala, sir.


Who was with him in the sala?


He [was] sleeping with my stepfather and my brother Marlon, sir.


How about Iris, where was she sleeping?


She was with me, sir.

Q. You mean to imply to the Court that according to you the accused abused you on October 7, 1995, Iris [was]
with you in the room?

Yes, sir.


Are you sure of that?


Yes, sir.
x x x



Q. You stated in your direct testimony that on October 7, 1995 your father entered your room where you were
sleeping, covering your mouth and forced you to go to the sala, do you recall that statement?

No, sir.


Do you not remember that you have testified that he was able to take you to the sala?


No, sir.


And then when you reached the sala, you stated that the accused criminally abused you?


No, sir.

Q. Do you not remember having been asked by the prosecutor examining you, and now I cite to you your
statement; `Q - Public Prosecutor Llobrera, `Now, let us make it clear. You said you were brought to the sala and
your answer, `Yes, sir. Do you not remember having made that statement?

No, sir.

Q. And another question, `When you reached the sala what were the first things he did to you and your answer,
`He kissed me, sir. Do you remember that?

No, sir. The first time he abused me was in the room, sir.[7]

The Solicitor General would posit that the claim of private complainant that she had the sole privilege of sleeping in
the lone bedroom of their house while the rest of the family, namely both her parents and her three siblings, had to
squeeze themselves in the sala strained credulity, and that the testimony of her mother, Rosemarie Capulong, to the
effect that the couple were the occupants of the single bedroom while their children stayed in the sala where the
television was located, made more sense.
Imelda testified that her three siblings - Marlon, Ryan and Iris - were sleeping inside the house every time the rape
incidents were committed. The identical testimony of everyone else in the Mateo household, including her mother
Rosemarie Capulong and brother Marlon Mateo, exposed such assertions to be a blatant lie and categorically stated
that Ryan himself had never stayed in the Mateo residence because he was living with his grandparents since
Private complainant testified that during the rape incidents she was gagged with a handkerchief which rendered her
unable to shout for help. Later on, however, she gave different versions on whether appellant covered her mouth with
his hand or with a handkerchief during the rape incidents occurring on 07 October 1995, 05 January 1996, 12
January 1996, 18 July 1996, 16 August 1996 and 28 August 1996. Eventually, she repudiated her earlier testimony
by stating that appellant had never covered her mouth, either with a handkerchief or with his hand Q.

Both the incidents of July 2 and July 18, according to you, he only covered your mouth on both occasions?


Yes, sir.


He did not tie your mouth with anything?


No, sir.

Q. Miss Witness, in your statement also on August 20, 1997, you stated that the accused covered your mouth and
tied your mouth with a handkerchief on both occasions. Do you remember having given that statement?

No, sir.


So, you do not remember having made that statement?


No, sir.

Q. Recalling your testimony you gave on August 20, 1997, for the July 2 occasion and the testimony that you gave
as appearing on page 18 of the transcript of stenographic notes. These questions and answers were given and
answered by you. `Q.
While he was doing all these things to you, did you call for help? A.
I cannot shout
because my mouth was covered with a handkerchief, sir. Q. Was he holding that handkerchief? A. It was tied, sir.
On July 17, 1997, you said that the accused tied your mouth on July 2, 1996, and you said that you cannot shout
because your mouth was tied with a handkerchief. Do you remember having stated that?

No, sir.
x x x



Q. On the July 18 occasion, you also stated in your direct testimony on August 29, 1997, when asked these
following questions appearing on page 21 of the transcript of stenographic notes. `Q. Tell the Court how did he rape
you on that night? A. On that night while I was sleeping in my room, he tied a handkerchief in my mouth so I could
not shout, sir. Do you remember having stated that?


No, sir.

Q. And also you were asked this question: `Q. After tying this handkerchief to your mouth, what did he do to
you? You said that he raped you. Do you remember having given this statement?

No, sir.[8]

Also quite telling were some discrepancies in the testimony of private complainant regarding the whereabouts of her
mother Rosemarie Capulong on the dates of the incidents. According to private complainant, it was when her mother
Rosemarie was not at home when appellant would commit the dastardly crimes. Not only did the account of Imelda
contradict that of Rosemarie but that Imelda herself would appear to have made irreconcilable statements. According
to her, on 07 October 1995, the date of the first rape, Rosemarie had gone to Bamban to visit her mother.
Subsequently, however, she said that Rosemarie went to Bamban because she worked there, only to later say that,
at that time, Rosemarie had already resigned from work. Imelda would further change her story by stating that
Rosemarie Capulong did not report for work that day; then, in a quick turnaround, she remarked that her mother did
go to Bamban not to work but to get her birth certificate. Interestingly, Imelda said that 07 October 1995 was a
working day, and that she had gone to school the following day. Judicial notice could be taken of the fact, however,
that 07 October 1995 was a Saturday and that the following day, a Sunday, could not have been a school day. With
respect to the rape committed on 12 January 1996, Imelda testified that Rosemarie was attending a seminar; yet,
when cross-examined, she told the trial court that on that day Rosemarie went to Manila to borrow money from her
The subsequent conduct of a victim could also either confirm or negate her claim of rape.[9] The human nature,
characterized by an instinct for self-preservation and an aversion to humiliation, would dictate that a typical victim of
rape could display changes in behavior, erratic mood swings and an alteration in her daily routine. No such changes
were observed in the case of private complainant. She testified that on the day after the first incident on 07 October
1995, she woke up at six o'clock in the morning, washed her face, and went to school. There was no apparent
attempt on her part to run away from home despite every chance to escape from her tormentor or to exercise every
means available to ensure that the incidents would not be repeated. At fifteen years old, already old enough to think
of her safety and well-being, Imelda Mateo went about her usual business as if nothing unusual had occurred. She
continued to sleep in the same bedroom with nary any precaution against the bestiality she was sure would come
everytime her mother was away.
While it may be argued that appellant's moral ascendancy over Imelda was enough to intimidate her to suffer in
silence; still, it could well be improbable for a victim who had been raped no less than ten times not to make a simple
outcry against her unarmed rapist when she had every opportunity to do so.
The Solicitor General assails the factual findings of the trial court and recommends an acquittal of appellant.
The records would disclose that the first half of the trial, from 17 July 1997 until 15 October 1997, was conducted by
Judge Lino L. Diamsay. Judge Edgardo F. Sundiam conducted the trial from 14 January 1999 until 24 February
1999. From 11 May 1999 until the day of the last hearing, it was Judge Arsenio P. Adriano who heard the case.
While this change of the presiding judges would not invalidate the proceedings, it did deny to the deciding magistrate
the opportunity to observe in entirety the demeanor of the witnesses which could well be vital to the decision-making
process, particularly where credibility would, by and large, constitute the singular issue.
The law demands that only proof of guilt beyond reasonable doubt can justify a verdict of guilt.
Up until now, the Supreme Court has assumed the direct appellate review over all criminal cases in which the penalty
imposed is death, reclusion perpetua or life imprisonment (or lower but involving offenses committed on the same
occasion or arising out of the same occurrence that gave rise to the more serious offense for which the penalty of
death, reclusion perpetua, or life imprisonment is imposed). The practice finds justification in the 1987 Constitution

Article VIII, Section 5. The Supreme Court shall have the following powers:
(2) Review, revise, reverse, modify, or affirm on appeal or certiorari, as the law or the Rules of Court may
provide, final judgments and orders of lower courts in:
x x x



(d) All criminal cases in which the penalty imposed is reclusion perpetua or higher.
The same constitutional article has evidently been a thesis for Article 47 of the Revised Penal Code, as amended by
Section 22 of Republic Act No. 7659,[10] as well as procedural rules contained in Section 3 of Rule 122,[11] Section
10 of Rule 122,[12] Section 13 of Rule 124[13] and Section 3 of Rule 125[14] of the Rules of Court. It must be
stressed, however, that the constitutional provision is not preclusive in character, and it does not necessarily prevent
the Court, in the exercise of its rule-making power, from adding an intermediate appeal or review in favor of the
In passing, during the deliberations among the members of the Court, there has been a marked absence of unanimity
on the crucial point of guilt or innocence of herein appellant. Some are convinced that the evidence would appear to
be sufficient to convict; some would accept the recommendation of acquittal from the Solicitor General on the ground
of inadequate proof of guilt beyond reasonable doubt. Indeed, the occasion best demonstrates the typical dilemma,
i.e., the determination and appreciation of primarily factual matters, which the Supreme Court has had to face with in
automatic review cases; yet, it is the Court of Appeals that has aptly been given the direct mandate to review factual
While the Fundamental Law requires a mandatory review by the Supreme Court of cases where the penalty imposed
is reclusion perpetua, life imprisonment, or death, nowhere, however, has it proscribed an intermediate review. If only
to ensure utmost circumspection before the penalty of death, reclusion perpetua or life imprisonment is imposed, the
Court now deems it wise and compelling to provide in these cases a review by the Court of Appeals before the case
is elevated to the Supreme Court. Where life and liberty are at stake, all possible avenues to determine his guilt or
innocence must be accorded an accused, and no care in the evaluation of the facts can ever be overdone. A prior
determination by the Court of Appeals on, particularly, the factual issues, would minimize the possibility of an error of
judgment. If the Court of Appeals should affirm the penalty of death, reclusion perpetua or life imprisonment, it could
then render judgment imposing the corresponding penalty as the circumstances so warrant, refrain from entering
judgment and elevate the entire records of the case to the Supreme Court for its final disposition.[15]
Statistics would disclose that within the eleven-year period since the re-imposition of the death penalty law in 1993
until June 2004, the trial courts have imposed capital punishment in approximately 1,493,[16] out of which 907
cases[17] have been passed upon in review by the Court. In the Supreme Court, where these staggering numbers
find their way on automatic review, the penalty has been affirmed in only 230 cases comprising but 25.36% of the
total number. Significantly, in more than half or 64.61% of the cases, the judgment has been modified through an
order of remand for further proceedings, by the application of the Indeterminate Sentence Law or by a reduction of
the sentence. Indeed, the reduction by the Court of the death penalty to reclusion perpetua has been made in no
less than 483 cases or 53.25% of the total number. The Court has also rendered a judgment of acquittal in sixty-five
(65) cases. In sum, the cases where the judgment of death has either been modified or vacated consist of an
astounding 71.77% of the total of death penalty cases directly elevated before the Court on automatic review that
translates to a total of six hundred fifty-one (651) out of nine hundred seven (907) appellants saved from lethal
Under the Constitution, the power to amend rules of procedure is constitutionally vested in the Supreme Court Article VIII, Section 5. The Supreme Court shall have the following powers:

(5) Promulgate rules concerning the protection and enforcement of constitutional rights, pleading,
practice, and procedure in all courts.
Procedural matters, first and foremost, fall more squarely within the rule-making prerogative of the Supreme Court
than the law-making power of Congress. The rule here announced additionally allowing an intermediate review by
the Court of Appeals, a subordinate appellate court, before the case is elevated to the Supreme Court on automatic
review, is such a procedural matter.
Pertinent provisions of the Revised Rules on Criminal Procedure, more particularly Section 3 and Section 10 of Rule
122, Section 13 of Rule 124, Section 3 of Rule 125, and any other rule insofar as they provide for direct appeals from
the Regional Trial Courts to the Supreme Court in cases where the penalty imposed is death, reclusion perpetua or
life imprisonment, as well as the resolution of the Supreme Court en banc, dated 19 September 1995, in "Internal
Rules of the Supreme Court" in cases similarly involving the death penalty, are to be deemed modified accordingly.
WHEREFORE, the instant case is REMANDED, and all pertinent records thereof ordered to be FORWARDED, to the
Court of Appeals for appropriate action and disposition, consistent with the discussions hereinabove set forth. No
costs. SO ORDERED.

G.R. No. 214865, August 19, 2015

Nature of the Case
This treats of the Petition for Review on Certiorari1 under Rule 45 of the Rules of Court seeking the reversal of the
April 28, 2014, July 17, 20142 and October 10, 20143 Resolutions of the Court of Appeals (CA) in CA-G.R CR No.
35962, which dismissed petitioner's appeal for her failure to file the required appellant's brief. Said dismissal
effectively affirmed her conviction by the trial court of six counts of qualified theft through falsification of commercial
The Facts
Petitioner Rosvee Celestial was employed by Glory Philippines as its "Accounting-in-Charge." As such, she handles
the company's bank transactions and accounting ledgers. She was terminated in 2006 when it was discovered that
she made anomalous withdrawals from the company's dollar account.
According to Akihiro Harada, the president of Glory Philippines, petitioner's modus was to prepare and ask him to
sign withdrawal slips allegedly to pay for company expenses. Afterwards, petitioner would photocopy the signed slips
and submit the said copies for the company's documentation. Later, she would insert additional figures in the
originally signed forms to be able to withdraw an amount higher than what was intended, keeping for herself the
excess amount and the duplicate original of the form. It was only when Harada noticed the discrepancies between the
photocopied slips and the actual amounts withdrawn that he discovered petitioner's criminal acts. As extrapolated
from the records, the amounts stated in the withdrawal slips are as follows:4redarclaw
Date of Withdrawal
Photocopy of the Withdrawal

June 1,

June 9,

June 26,

June 30,

June 30,

July 11,

Duplicate of the Withdrawal













Thereafter, Glory Philippines lodged a criminal complaint against petitioner for qualified theft. Finding probable cause
to file charges against petitioner, the Assistant Provincial Prosecutor of Cavite City then filed six (6) Informations with
the Regional Trial Court (RTC), Cavite City, Branch 16, indicting her with six (6) counts of qualified theft through
falsification of commercial documents, docketed as Criminal Case Nos. 94-07 up to 99-07.
On June 25, 2013, the RTC rendered a Decision5 convicting petitioner, thus:LawlibraryofCRAlaw
WHEREFORE, premises considered, the Court finds the accused ROSVEE CELESTIAL y CALDEJON guilty beyond
reasonable doubt in Criminal Case Nos. 94-07 to 99-07 of the crime of six (6) counts of Qualified Theft through
Falsification of Commercial Documents and is hereby sentenced to suffer the penalty of imprisonment consisting
of TWENTY (20) years of Reclusion Temporal for Each Count.
SO ORDERED. Aggrieved, petitioner elevated the case to the CA via notice of appeal.
On November 28, 2013, petitioner received a copy of the CA Notice dated November 20, 2013,6directing her to file an
appellant's brief within thirty (30) days from receipt thereof. On December 27, 2013, petitioner's former counsel, Atty.
Bernard Paredes, moved for a thirty-day extension, or until January 26, 2014, within which to comply. Counsel would
later on inform petitioner that he prayed for another extension of until February 26, 014 to file the appellant's
Allegedly unknown to petitioner, the CA, on April 28, 2014, issued a Resolution, which considered petitioner's appeal
abandoned and dismissed for failure to file her appellant's brief. The fallo of the Resolution reads:LawlibraryofCRAlaw
It appearing from the CMIS Verification Report dated April 14, 2014 that accused-appellant and her counsel de parte
failed to file the required appellant's brief despite a total extension of 60 days or until February 26, 2014 granted, by
the Court, pursuant to Section 8 of Rule 124 of the Revised Rules on Criminal Procedure, the instant appeal is
considered ABANDONED and accordingly DISMISSED.
Petitioner then claimed that she was surprised to have received, on August 6, 2014, a copy of the CA Resolution
dated July 17, 20149 with attached Notice of Entry of Judgment.10 The Resolution, in part, reads:LawlibraryofCRAlaw
Considering the CMIS Verification dated My 11, 2014 that NO Motion for Reconsideration or Supreme Court petition
was filed, the Resolution dated April 28, 2014 has attained finality on May 28, 2014. Let said Resolution now be
ENTERED in the Book of Entries of Judgments.
This prompted petitioner to file, on August 22, 2014, an Omnibus Motion,11 moving for (1) reconsideration of the July
17, 2014 Resolution, and (2) leave of court for the attached appellant's brief to be admitted. Petitioner averred that
she never personally received a copy of the April 28, 2014 Resolution that considered her appeal abandoned and
dismissed; that her former counsel, Atty. Paredes, was grossly and inexcusably negligent in handling her case; that
the reviewing court may still allow for an extension of time since no motion to dismiss had been filed; that substantial
justice demands that she be given another opportunity to file her brief.
Unfortunately for petitioner, the CA, unswayed by her arguments, dismissed the Omnibus Motion through the assailed
October 10, 2014 Resolution. Hence, the instant recourse.
The Issue
Petitioner prays that the rulings of the CA be reversed on the following grounds:LawlibraryofCRAlaw




Verily, the main issue for consideration herein boils down to whether not the CA erred in dismissing the case for
petitioner's failure to file her appellant's brief.
In its Comment,13 the Office of the Solicitor General (OSG), for the People, countered that the right to appeal is a
statutory privilege that may be lost if the party who seeks to avail the same does not comply with the requirements of
the rules. Citing Section 8, Rule 124 of the Rules of Court, the OSG further argued that the CA is granted the
discretion to dismiss an appeal for failure to prosecute, such as when the appellant fails to file the required
brief.14 Finally, the OSG invoked the doctrine of immutability of judgments and averred that the dismissal of
petitioner's appeal had already attained finality and may no longer be recalled or modified.15redarclaw
The Court's Ruling
The petition is unmeritorious.
The CA's dismissal of the appeal for
failure to prosecute was in order
Section 8, Rule 124 of the Rules of Court pertinently provides:LawlibraryofCRAlaw
SEC. 8. Dismissal of appeal for abandonment or failure to prosecute. - The Court of Appeals may, upon motion of the
appellee or motu proprio and with notice to the appellant in either case, dismiss the appeal if the appellant fails to file
his brief within the time prescribed by this Rule, except where the appellant is represented by a counsel de officio.
As aptly observed by the CA, petitioner's claim that she was not personally informed of the dismissal of the appeal
deserves scant consideration. Fundamental is the rule that notice to counsel is notice to the client.16 When a party is
represented by a counsel in an action in court, notices of all kinds, including motions and pleadings of all parties and
all orders of the court must be served on his counsel.17redarclaw
In the case at bar, it cannot be disputed that Atty. Paredes represented petitioner in the proceedings before the CA.
And based on the registry return receipt, counsel received a copy of the April 28, 2014 Resolution on May 12,
2014.18 Thus, the CA complied with the procedural requirement under Section 8, Rule 124 and no violation of
petitioner's right to notice of the dismissal can be attributed to the appellate court.
Furthermore, the oft-cited doctrine is that the negligence of counsel binds his client.19 This is based on the rule that
any act performed by a counsel within the scope of his general or implied authority is regarded as an act of his client.
While, truly, there are situations where the Court can relax procedural rules, such exceptions do not obtain in the
extant case.
Under the factual backdrop of this case, We find the failure to file the appeal brief inexcusable. First, the handling
lawyer, Atty. Paredes, was undoubtedly at fault. Even with the benefit of two (2) thirty-day (30-day) extensions,
counsel, nevertheless, still failed to comply with the CA's directive. Second, petitioner herself was likewise negligent
since, as she admitted, Atty. Paredes informed her that the deadline for the second extension was until February 26,
2014.20 It is then baffling why petitioner took no action to ensure compliance with the CA Notice to file her appellant's
brief from the time she followed up the case to the date of the deadline, and even thereafter until the April 28, 2014
Resolution was promulgated. Absolutely nothing appeared to have been done in the interim, not even in terms of
noting that no appeal brief had been filed. Thus, the petitioner simply took too long to rectify its mistake; by the time
that she acted, it was simply too late.21 From these circumstances, the CA cannot in any way be said to have erred in
dismissing the appeal.
The proper penalty
Notwithstanding the denial of the petition, We find cogent reason to lift the Entry of Judgment issued by the CA and
modify the penalty imposed by the trial court. The demand of substantive justice calls for this approach. Pertinently,
Arts. 309 and 310 of the Revised Penal Code (RPC) provide:LawlibraryofCRAlaw
Article 309. Penalties. - Any person guilty of theft shall be punished by:LawlibraryofCRAlaw
1. The penalty of prision mayor in its minimum and medium periods, if the value of the thing stolen is more than

12,000 pesos but does not exceed 22,000 pesos, but if the value of the thing stolen exceeds the latter amount the
penalty shall be the maximum period of the one prescribed in this paragraph, and one year for each
additional ten thousand pesos, but the total of the penalty which may be imposed shall not exceed twenty years.
In such cases, and in connection with the accessory penalties which may be imposed and for the purpose of the
other provisions of this Code, the penalty shall be termed prision mayor or reclusion temporal, as the case may be.
2. The penalty of prision correctional in its medium and maximum periods, if the value of the thing stolen is more than
6,000 pesos but does not exceed 12,000 pesos.
3. The penalty of prision correctional in its minimum and medium periods, if the value of the property stolen is more
than 200 pesos but does not exceed 6,000 pesos.
4. Arresto mayor in its medium period to prision correctional in its minimum period, if the value of the property stolen
is over 50 pesos but does not exceed 200 pesos.
5. Arresto mayor to its full extent, if such value is over 5 pesos but does not exceed 50 pesos.
6. Arresto mayor in its minimum and medium periods, if such value does not exceed 5 pesos.
7. Arresto menor or a fine not exceeding 200 pesos, if the theft is committed under the circumstances enumerated in
paragraph 3 of the next preceding article and the value of the thing stolen does not exceed 5 pesos. If such value
exceeds said amount, the provision of any of the five preceding subdivisions shall be made applicable.
8. Arresto menor in its minimum period or a fine not exceeding 50 pesos, when the value of the thing stolen is not
over 5 pesos, and the offender shall have acted under the impulse of hunger, poverty, or the difficulty of earning a
livelihood for the support of himself or his family.
Article 310. Qualified theft. - The crime of theft shall be punished by the penalties next higher by two degrees than
those respectively specified in the next preceding article, if committed by a domestic servant, or with grave abuse of
confidence, or if the property stolen is motor vehicle, mail matter or large cattle or consists of coconuts taken from the
premises of the plantation or fish taken from a fishpond or fishery, or if property is taken on the occasion of fire,
earthquake, typhoon, volcanic eruption, or any other calamity, vehicular accident or civil disturbance, (emphasis
In ascertaining the proper penalty, We are guided by Our pronouncement in People v. Mercado:22redarclaw
First, We get the value of the property stolen as determined by the tr al court, to wit:LawlibraryofCRAlaw

Crim. Case No.

Withdrawal Date
Stolen Amount
Amount in Pesos23

June 1, 2006 June 9, 2006 June 26, 2006 June 30, 2006 June 30, 2006 July 11, 2006
P 531,570.00 P265,785.00
P159,471.00 P785,970.00

Second, We determine the imposable base penalty under Art. 309 of the RPC. Here, since the totality of the stolen
amounts for each case exceeds P22,000.00, the imposable base penalty for each count, as per Art. 309 (1),
is prision mayor in its minimum and medium periods to be imposed in the maximum period, which is eight (8) years,
eight (8) months and one (1) day to ten (10) years ofprision mayor, had the crime charged been simple
Third, since the value of the stolen goods exceeds P22,000.00, We compute for the additional years of maximum
imprisonment under Art. 309 (1) by deducting P22,000.00 from each case, and by subsequently dividing each
difference by P10,000.00, disregarding any remainder amount. This would yield the following
Grim. Case No.
Stolen Amount in Pesos
Less P22,000.00
Divided By P10,000.00

P531,570.00 P265,785.00 P425,256.00 P531,570.00 P159,471.00 P785,970.00
509,570.00 243,785.00 403,256.00 509,570.00 137,471.00

Fourth, We add the maximum of the base penalty to the above-determined quotient to arrive at the maximum
imprisonment term imposable had the crime committed been simple theft:LawlibraryofCRAlaw
Grim. Case No.
Maximum of
Base Penalty
Years to the

10 years

10 years

10 years

10 years

10 years

10 years







60 years

34 years

50 years

60 years

23 years

86 years

Fifth, the maximum imprisonment term should not exceed the 20-year cap under Art. 309 (1), and any imprisonment
term in excess of the cap should be disregarded. In this case, since all sums exceeded 20 years, the proper penalty the maximum period adverted to in Art. 309 (1) - would have been 20 years of reclusion temporal, before the
application of the indeterminate sentence law, for each count, had petitioner been convicted of simple theft.
Sixth, the penalty for qualified theft is two degrees higher than that for simple theft. Under Art. 25 of the RPC, two (2)
degrees higher than reclusion temporal- the penalty following reclusion perpetua - is death.25 Be that as it may. Art. 74
of the RPC, provides:LawlibraryofCRAlaw
ART. 74. Penalty higher than reclusion perpetua in certain cases. -In cases in which the law prescribes a penalty higher than another given penalty, without specifically designating the
name of the former, if such higher penalty should be that of death, the same penalty and the accessory
penalties of Article 40, shall be considered as the next higher penalty.
Applying the aforequoted provision, the penalty of death cannot be :ted on herein petitioner, regardless of whether or
not the imposition of capital punishment has been suspended. This is so because the penalty of death was not
specifically prescribed as an imposable penalty under Art. 309 (1) of the RPC.Two degrees higher than reclusion
temporal, the next higher penalty than reclusion perpetua, would then still be reclusion perpetua, with the accessory
penalties of death under Art. 40 of the RPC.26redarclaw
Jurisprudence, moreover, teaches that when the penalty of death cannot be imposed pursuant to Art. 74, the period
of imprisonment should be fixed at forty (40) years of reclusion perpetua. Otherwise, there would be no difference at
all between reclusion perpetua imposed as the penalty next higher in degree and reclusion perpetua imposed as the
penalty fixed by law.27 The proper penalty to be imposed in this case, therefore, is forty (40) years of reclusion
perpetua, with the accessory penalties of death, for each count of qualified theft.28redarclaw
Lastly, since petitioner is convicted of six (6) counts of qualified theft through falsification of commercial documents
with corresponding six (6) penalties of forty (40) years of reclusion perpetua,Art. 70 of the RPC on successive service
of sentences shall apply. As provided:LawlibraryofCRAlaw
Article 70. Successive service of sentence. xxx
Notwithstanding the provisions of the rule next preceding, the maximum duration of the convict's sentence shall not
be more than three-fold the length of time corresponding to the most severe of the penalties imposed upon him. No
other penalty to which he may be liable shall be inflicted after the sum total of those imposed equals the same
maximum period.
Such maximum period shall in no case exceed forty years.
Therefore, in spite of the six (6) penalties of forty (40) years of reclusion perpetua, petitioner shall only suffer
imprisonment for a period not exceeding 40 years. A downward modification of the penalty imposed by the RTC is
then in order.
WHEREFORE, in light of the foregoing, the Court rules as follows:LawlibraryofCRAlaw

The instant petition is hereby DENIED for lack of merit, and;chanRoblesvirtualLawlibrary


The Entry of Judgment in CA-G.R CR No. 35962 is LIFTED. The June 25, 2013 Decision of the Regional
Trial Court, Cavite City, Branch 16 in Criminal Case Nos. 94-07 up to 99-07, as effectively confirmed by the
Court of Appeals, is hereby AFFIRMED with MODIFICATION to read as follows:LawlibraryofCRAlaw
WHEREFORE, premises considered, the Court finds the accused ROSVEE CELESTIAL y
CALDEJON guilty beyond reasonable doubt in Criminal Case Nos. 94-07 to 99-07 of the crime of six (6)
counts of Qualified Theft through Falsification of Commercial Documents and is hereby sentenced to suffer
the penalty of imprisonment consisting of six (6) penalties ofreclusion perpetua, with the accessory
penalties provided in Art. 40 of the RPC. But with the application of Art. 70 of the RPC, accusedappellant shall suffer the penalty of imprisonment for a period not exceeding 40 years.

SO ORDERED.cralawlawlibrary
G.R. No. 195547, December 02, 2015
Before the Court is a petition for review on certiorari under Rule 45 of the Rules of Court seeking to set aside the
Resolutions1 of the Court of Appeals (CA), dated September 9, 2010,2 December 14, 2010,3 and February 14,
20114 in CA-GR. CR No. 32066.
The instant petition traces its origin to an Information filed with the Regional Trial Court (RTC) of Las Pias City, dated
October 23, 2006, charging herein petitioner and a certain Manuel Hurtada (Hurtada) and Aida Ricarse (Ricarse) with
the crime of estafa as defined and punished under Article 315, paragraph 2 of the Revised Penal Code. The
Information reads as follows:
That on or about the 27th day of September 2006, and prior thereto, in the City of Las Pias, Philippines and within
the jurisdiction of this Honorable Court, the abovenamed accused, conspiring and confederating together and all of
them mutually helping and aiding one another by means of deceit, false pretenses and fraudulent acts executed prior
to or simultaneously with the commission of fraud, did then and there wilfully, unlawfully and feloniously defraud
ELIZABETH T. LAUZON in the following manner to wit: that accused by means of false pretenses and fraudulent
representations which they made to the complainant that they are authorized to sell, dispose or encumber a parcel of
land located at Las Pias City covered by TCTNo. T-19987 issued by the [Register] of Deeds of Las Pias City and
that they promised to transfer the Certificate of Title in the name of the complainant, said accused fully knew that their
manifestation and representations were false and untrue, complainant was induced to part with her money in the
amount of P420,000.00, as she in fact gave the amount of P420,000.00 representing part of the purchase price of the
said parcel of land and for which accused received and acknowledge[d] the same, and after complainant conducted
the necessary verification with the Register of Deeds of Las Pias City it turned out that the registered owner of the
said parcel of land is Marita F. Sanlay and mortgaged to Household Development Bank then assigned to National
Home Mortgage Finance Corporation (NHMFC), and that accused are not authorized to sell, dispose or encumber
the parcel of land covered by TCT No. T-19987, to the damage and prejudice of the complainant in the amount of
After trial, the RTC found petitioner and her co-accused guilty of other forms of swindling under Article 316 of the
Revised Penal Code. The dispositive portion of the RTC Decision reads, thus:
WHEREFORE, as the crime was committed with abuse of confidence reposed on Manuel Hurtada by Elizabeth
Lauzon without any mitigating circumstance to offset, all three accused, namely: 1) Manuel Hurtada, Jr. y Buhat; 2)
Aida Ricarse y Villadelgado and 3) Ma. Corazon Ola, are hereby found guilty beyond reasonable doubt of Estafa
under Article 316 of the Revised Penal Code and each sentenced to undergo imprisonment of Six (6) months straight
penalty and to indemnify, jointly and severally, the complainant Elizabeth T. Lauzon in the amount of P320,000.00 and
to pay a fine of P1,000,000.00 and to pay the cost of the suit.
SO ORDERED.6ChanRoblesVirtualawlibrary

Petitioner and the other accused appealed the RTC Decision to the CA. Petitioner and Ricarse jointly filed their Brief
for Accused-Appellants7 dated June 10, 2009, while Hurtada filed his Brief for the Accused-Appellant8 dated
September 9, 2009.
A Brief for the Appellee,9 dated March 1, 2010, was subsequently filed.
On May 28, 2010, petitioner filed a Manifestation with Leave of Court praying that she be granted a period of twenty
(20) days within which to file an appropriate pleading.
On June 29, 2010, petitioner filed a Motion for Leave of Court to File Amended Appellant's Brief.10
In its first assailed Resolution promulgated on September 9, 2010, the CA denied petitioner's motion for having been
filed out of time.
Petitioner filed a Motion for Reconsideration,11 but the CA denied it in its second assailed Resolution dated December
14, 2010.
Undeterred, petitioner, on January 4, 2011, filed a Very Urgent Ex-Parte Motion for [Extension of Time] to File for
Vacation of Resolution or Appropriate Pleading.12
On February 14, 2011, the CA issued its third assailed Resolution denying petitioner's motion, treating the same as a
second motion for reconsideration, which is a prohibited pleading.
Hence, the instant petition for review on certiorari based on the following grounds:
(a) whether or not the Honorable Court of Appeals (CA) by wholly adopting the stance of the Honorable Office of the
Solicitor General has overlooked the evidence on record, from the pleadings and four affidavits of merits filed with the
CA, and in the process violated the due process of law of the petitioner as enunciated in Ang Tibay v. CIR, and
subsequent SC decisions thereto.
(b) whether or not the petitioner has made a second motion for reconsideration.
(c) whether or not the governing law or rule is Rule 10 on amendments of pleading, and not Section 6, both of Rule 6
and 11, in relation to Section 9 of Rule 44 and Section 4 of Rule 124 on matter of reply, all of the Rules of Court; and
(d) whether or not the liberality rule for amendment of pleadings instead of the general rule on liberality must be
applied in favor of the petitioner.13ChanRoblesVirtualawlibrary
At the outset, the Court notes that the instant case suffers from a procedural infirmity which this Court cannot ignore
as it is fatal to petitioner's cause.
What petitioner essentially assails in the present petition is the CA's denial of her motion to file an amended
appellant's brief. It is settled that the remedy of a party against an adverse disposition of the CA would depend on
whether the same is a final order or merely an interlocutory order.14 If the Order or Resolution issued by the CA is in
the nature of a final order, the remedy of the aggrieved party would be to file a petition for review on certiorari under
Rule 45 of the Rules of Court.15Otherwise, the appropriate remedy would be to file a petition for certiorari under Rule
In Republic of the Phils., v. Sandigahbayan (Fourth Division), et al.,17 this Court laid down the rules to determine
whether a court's disposition is already a final order or merely an interlocutory order and the respective remedies that
may be availed in each case, thus:
Case law has conveniently demarcated the line between a final judgment or order and an interlocutory one on the
basis of the disposition made. A judgment or order is considered final if the order disposes of the action or proceeding
completely, or terminates a particular stage of the same action; in such case, the remedy available to an aggrieved
party is appeal. If the order or resolution, however, merely resolves incidental matters and leaves something more to
be done to resolve the merits of the case, the order is interlocutory and the aggrieved party's remedy is a petition
forcertiorari under Rule 65. Jurisprudence pointedly holds that:
As distinguished from a final order which disposes of the subject matter in its entirety or terminates a particular
proceeding or action, leaving nothing else to be done but to enforce by execution what has been determined by the
court, an interlocutory order does not dispose of a case completely, but leaves something more to be adjudicated
upon. The term final judgment or order signifies a judgment or an order which disposes of the case as to all the
parties, reserving no further questions or directions for future determination.
On the other hand, a court order is merely interlocutory in character if it leaves substantial proceedings yet to be had

in connection with the controversy. It does not end the task of the court in adjudicating the parties' contentions and
determining their rights and liabilities as against each other. In this sense, it is basically provisional in its
In the present case, the Court agrees with the contention of the Office of the Solicitor General (OSG) that the assailed
Resolutions of the CA are interlocutory orders, as they do not dispose of the case completely but leave something to
be decided upon.19 What has been denied by the CA was a mere motion to amend petitioner's appeal brief and the
appellate court has yet to finally dispose of petitioner's appeal by determining the main issue of whether or not she is
indeed guilty of estafa. As such, petitioner's resort to the present petition for review on certiorari is erroneous.
Thus, on this ground alone, the instant petition is dismissible as the Court finds no cogent reason not to apply the rule
on dismissal of appeals under Section 5,20 Rule 56 of the Rules of Court.
The Court is neither persuaded by petitioner's argument that the CA Resolution which denied her motion to amend
her brief is appealable. Petitioner's reliance on the case of Constantino, et al. v. Hon. Reyes, et al.,21 is misplaced. In
the said case, petitioner Constantino wanted to amend his complaint after the same was dismissed by the then Court
of First Instance (CFI) on the ground that the complaint stated no cause of action. However, the trial court dismissed
petitioner's motion to admit the amended complaint. Petitioner sought to appeal the case but the trial court
disapproved the record on appeal on the ground that the appeal had been filed out of time. In granting the petition
formandamus filed before this Court to compel the CFI judge to approve the record on appeal, this Court held that
"[e]ven after an order dismissing his complaint is issued, an amendment may still be allowed. The motion to amend
should be filed before the order of dismissal becomes final and unappealable, because thereafter there would be
nothing to amend. If the amendment is denied, the order of denial is appealable and the time within which to appeal
is counted from the order of denial not from the order dismissing the original complaint."22
From the above factual and procedural antecedents, it is clear that petitioner has taken the Court's ruling
in Constantino out of context. In the said case, the complaint which the petitioner therein sought to amend was
already dismissed. The order which denied petitioner's motion to amend the complaint is, therefore, final, and not
interlocutory, as there is nothing else to be done by the trial court after such denial other than to execute the order of
dismissal. Thus, the order denying the motion to amend the complaint is appealable. On the other hand, what is
sought to be amended in the present case is not a complaint but an appeal brief which was not dismissed by the CA.
More importantly, the denial of petitioner's motion to amend her appeal brief does not end the task of the CA in
adjudicating the parties' contentions and determining their rights and liabilities as against each other. Substantial
proceedings are yet to be conducted in connection with the controversy, thus barring resort to an appeal.
In any case, even if the Court will consider petitioner's contentions in the present petition, the Court still finds that the
CA did not commit any error in issuing the assailed Resolutions.
The Court does not agree with petitioner's insistence that the questioned Resolutions deprived her of her right to due
process because the CA supposedly failed to inform her of the issues involved in and of the reasons for rendering the
said Resolutions.
It is true that under Section 14, Article VIII of the Constitution, no decision shall be rendered by any court without
expressing therein clearly and distinctly the facts and the law on which it is based. However, petitioner must be
reminded that what she assails are interlocutory orders and it has already been ruled by this Court that the above
constitutional provision does not apply to interlocutory orders because it refers only to decisions on the merits and not
to orders of the court resolving incidental matters.23
In any case, even a cursory reading of the September 9, 2010 Resolution of the CA readily shows that the appellate
court has laid down the factual and procedural premises and discussed the reasons and the bases for denying
petitioner's motion.
Petitioner, nonetheless, reiterates her argument that the principle on the liberal interpretation of the Rules should be
applied in the present case. She further contends that instead of Section 4, paragraph 2, Rule 124 of the Rules of
Court, it should be Rule 10 of the same Rules, referring to amendments of pleadings, which should govern the instant
The Court is not persuaded.
The CA has correctly ruled that under Section 4, paragraph 2, Rule 2, of the Rules of Court, petitioner had twenty (20)
days from receipt of herein respondent's brief to file a reply brief to discuss matters raised in respondent's brief which
were not covered in her brief. However, as found by the CA, petitioner's manifestation requesting an additional period
to file an appropriate pleading as well as her motion for leave of court to file an amended appellant's brief was filed

seventy-nine (79) days late and, as such, was deemed "not acceptable or too long to ignore."24
Even if the court were to apply the rule on amendment of pleadings, it is clear under Section 3, Rule 10 of the Rules
of Court that after a responsive pleading has been filed, as in the present case, substantial amendments may be
made only by leave of court. Moreover, such leave may be refused if it appears to the court that the motion was made
with intent to delay. In the instant case, the Court finds that the CA did not commit any error in refusing to grant
petitioner's motion to amend her -brief on the ground that the delay in filing such motion is unjustified.
Finally, it bears to point out that the premise that underlies all appeals is that they are merely rights which arise from
statute; therefore, they must be exercised in the manner prescribed by law.25 It is to this end that rules governing
pleadings and practice before appellate courts were imposed.26These rules were designed to assist the appellate
court in the accomplishment of its tasks, and overall, to enhance the orderly administration of justice.27 Failing in this
respect, the instant petition should be denied.
WHEREFORE, the instant petition is DENIED. The assailed Resolutions of the Court of Appeals, dated September 9,
2010, December 14, 2010 and February 14, 2011, in CA-GR. CR No. 32066, areAFFIRMED.
The Court of Appeals is DIRECTED to proceed with the resolution of the case on the merits WITH DISPATCH.
SO ORDERED.chanroblesvirtuallawlibrary
G.R. No. 172110

August 1, 2011


x - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -x
G.R. No. 181804
These two cases were consolidated as they arose from the same factual milieu and assail the same decision of the
Court of Appeals.
Minda Villamor and Glicerio Vios, Jr. (petitioners), along with Nicolas Caballero, Ricardo Tormis, and Jeffrey Cutab,
were charged with frustrated murder before the Regional Trial Court (RTC) of Lanao del Norte, Branch 4, Iligan City,
docketed as Criminal Case No. 4-7450. The accusatory portion of the Amended Information dated February 2, 1999
filed against them reads:
That on or about January 7, 1999, in the City of Iligan, Philippines and within the jurisdiction of this Honorable Court,
the said accused, conspiring and confederating together and mutually helping each other, by means of treachery,
evident premeditation and inconsideration of a price or reward, armed with a bladed weapon and with intent to kill, did
then and there willfully, unlawfully and feloniously attack, assault, stab and wound one Jean V. Jumawan thereby
inflicting upon her the following physical injuries, to wit:

Multiple stab wounds, abdomen.

thus performing all the acts of execution which should have produced the crime of Murder as a consequence, but
nevertheless did not produce it by reason of causes independent of their will.1 (Underscoring in the original)
When arraigned, all the accused pleaded not guilty.
Soon after, accused Ricardo Tormis changed his previous plea to guilty, was sentenced, and then committed to the
San Ramon Penal Colony and Farm in Zamboanga City to serve his sentence.2 Accused Nicolas Caballero was
subsequently discharged as an accused, as he was utilized as a state witness.3 The case against accused Jeffrey
Cutab was later dismissed after his Demurrer to Evidence was granted by the RTC.4
The facts established by the evidence of the prosecution, as summarized by the Solicitor General in the Peoples
Brief, are as follows:
About 1:00 P.M. of January 7, 1999, victim Jean Jumawan, a public school teacher, was resting inside her classroom
No. 11 at Iligan City East Central School, Tambo, Hinaplanon, Iligan City when Ricardo Tormis and Nicolas Caballero
arrived. Immediately thereafter, Caballero stepped out of the classroom while Tormis handed Jumawan an envelope,
saying that it came from Minda Villamor and Glicerio Vios, Jr. (TSN, Aug. 18, 1999, p. 7). When Jumawan was about
to open the envelope, Tormis suddenly stabbed her successively, hitting the different parts of her body (TSN, id., pp.
7-8). When she parried Tormis assault, Jumawans hand likewise sustained injuries. She fell down to the floor. Tormis
continued his assault but missed because Jumawan, who was then lying on the floor, kicked him, causing him to
stagger backward. Jumawan stood up and shouted for help while Tormis fled (TSN, id., p. 9).
Bloodied and weak, Jumawan was carried and brought to the Mindanao Sanitarium and Hospital where Dr. Anastacio
Gayao and Dr. Elfred Solis performed surgery on her major multiple stab wounds x x x. Dr. Gayao issued her a
medical certificate (Exh. "B," rollo, p. 188), x x x.
On February 4 to 12, 1999, because of her inability to move her wounded right hand fingers, Jumawan likewise
underwent surgery under Dr. Agustin Morales at the Cebu Doctors Hospital, Cebu City. Dr. Morales and Dr. Manuel
Juanillo, her other attending physician, issued her a medical certificate (Exh. "C," rollo, p. 190), x x x.
x x x Until now, despite medical intervention, [Jumawan] cannot write with the use of her right hand. She now uses
her left hand, but still with difficulty (TSN, Aug. 18, 1999, p. 12). She cannot anymore move easily and feels anxious
that she is no longer the same person as she used to be.
She was absent from her school work for about four (4) months due to her hospital confinement and rehabilitation.
Hence, she received no salary.
Jumawan presented numerous receipts of her medical expenses due to the injuries she sustained (Exhs. "Q" to "Q14"). x x x In prosecuting this case, Jumawan hired the services of Atty. Providencio Abragan, her private prosecutor,
and agreed to pay P30,000.00 as acceptance fee and P1,000.00 as appearance fee.
Prior to the stabbing incident, or on October 27, 1990, when Jumawan, Vios, and Villamor were still teaching
colleagues at the Luinab Elementary School, Iligan City, Jumawan and her mother filed an administrative complaint
against Vios before the Department of Education, Culture and Sports (DECS) (TSN, Dec. 7, 1999, p. 12).
Likewise, prior to the stabbing incident, Jumawan filed a case for Grave Oral Defamation against Minda Villamor who
was thereafter convicted by the Municipal Trial Court in Cities, Branch 5, Iligan City in its Decision dated April 30,
1998 in Case No. (29570-AF) I-5776. On appeal, the Regional Trial Court of Lanao del Norte, Branch 5, Iligan City, in

its Order dated March 3, 1999, affirmed the lower courts decision of conviction. The case is now pending review by
the Court of Appeals, docketed as CA-G.R. CR No. 23519.
Nicolas Caballero x x x who, upon motion by the prosecution, was discharged [as an accused] and utilized as a state
witness, affirmed his sworn statement dated January 11, 1999 (Exhs. "A" & "A-1," rollo, pp. 186-187).
According to Caballero, Vios and Minda Villamor were the ones who planned the stabbing of Jumawan on January 7,
1999. Upon instruction by Vios and Villamor, he looked for a killer and got Ricardo Tormis to do the job. Unlike
Caballero, Vios, Minda Villamor and Jumawan were all from Luinab, Iligan City, while Tormis was a resident of Ladid,
Digkilaan, Iligan City. He was promised that Vios and Villamor would take care of him while the killer would be
given P10,000.00 to be shouldered equally by the two (TSN, July 26, 1999, pp. 10-11).
The plot was first hatched at about 7:00 P.M. of January 2, 1999 in the house of Vios, with Caballero, Vios, Villamor
and Michael Quiapo in attendance (TSN, ibid., p. 10). On January 3, 1999, they met again at the house of Villamor,
who told Vios to make it fast because she was very angry with Jumawan (TSN, id., p. 11). When Caballero asked her
the reason of their hatred against Jumawan, Vios replied that Jumawan implicated him in the burning of her car, while
Villamor stated that she had a case with Jumawan (TSN, id.).
At 5:50 P.M. of January 6, 1999, Caballero brought Tormis, who agreed to do the "job," to Vios and Villamor who
instructed the former to kill Jumawan saying, "Kami nay bahala ninyo pagkahuman" (TSN, id., p. 12).
About 12:45 P.M. of January 7, 1999, Caballero, as planned, escorted Ricardo Tormis to the classroom of Jumawan.
When inside, Caballero left Tormis and went back to the school gate where he left the bicycle they used, and waited.
Shortly thereafter, Tormis, carrying a knife, went out of Jumawans classroom. Caballero and Tormis boarded the
bicycle and fled to Tambo, Bayug, Iligan City (TSN, id., p. 14).1avvphi1
Both the knife used by Tormis to stab Jumawan and the bicycle used by Caballero and Tormis were provided by Vios,
x x x.
x x x in the late afternoon of January 7, 1999, Caballero and Tormis returned to the house of Vios. Villamor was
fetched from her house just across the street. Vios and Villamor gave Tormis P1,000.00 and was told to come back
for the balance of P9,000.00 (TSN, id., p. 15).
For his participation, Caballero was handed P400.00 and was advised to hide somewhere because he was identified
(TSN, id.). He took refuge for four (4) days in Marawi City but, on January 11, 1999, he went back to Iligan City where
he voluntarily related the incident to the barangay captain, and then in the police precinct, with the assistance of a
counsel (Exhs. "A" and "A1," rollo, pp. 181-187).5
Petitioners denied having committed the crime charged.
Invoking the defense of alibi, petitioner Glicerio Vios, Jr. claimed that at the time the crime was committed, he was in
his classroom conducting classes when he noticed some pupils running, and then a co-teacher informed him that
Jean Jumawan was stabbed inside her classroom. It was only on January 11, 1999 when he first met Nicolas
Caballero during the investigation of this incident at the prosecutors office. He did not harbor any ill-feelings towards
private complainant Jean Jumawan, since the administrative case she (and her mother) filed against him before the
DECS was dismissed for insufficiency of evidence. He contradicted himself, though, when he stated during crossexamination that there was no DECS order dismissing the said administrative case.
For her part, petitioner Minda Villamor testified that she and her brother Ernesto Lura were in Libonan, Bukidnon from
January 1, 1999 until dawn of January 4, 1999 to visit their old sick father. She thus could not have met Nicolas

Caballero, as he claimed, at petitioner Vios house in the evening of January 2, 1999 and at her house the following
day where they (petitioners) supposedly discussed with him the plan to kill Jean Jumawan. It was only during the
investigation of the stabbing incident that she first met Caballero and Ricardo Tormis. She admitted that she and Jean
Jumawan had once an altercation which led to the filing of grave oral defamation by Jumawan and her mother
against her (Minda Villamor). She denied, however, that she was angry at the two since, she had already forgotten
about that case.
Finding credible and trustworthy the positive and categorical testimonies of prosecution witnesses who have no ill
motive in testifying against the petitioners, the RTC, by Decision6 dated July 7, 2003, convicted the latter of frustrated
murder as principals by inducement, thus:
WHEREFORE, premises all considered, the Court finds both accused, Glicerio Vios, Jr. and Minda Villamor, guilty of
Frustrated Murder beyond reasonable doubt. Applying the Indeterminate Sentence Law, each of them is hereby
meted the penalty of Prision Mayor Maximum of 10 years and 1 day, as minimum, to Reclusion Temporal Medium of
17 years and 4 months, as maximum.
Further, accused Glicerio Vios, Jr. and Minda Villamor, as well as Ricardo Tormis, are hereby ordered to pay Jean
Jumawan, jointly and solidarily, the following:
a) the sum of P207,279.85 as actual and compensatory damages;
b) the amount of P59,320.00 as loss of earning capacity;
c) the sum of P100,000.00 as moral damages;
d) the amount of P50,000.00 as exemplary damages; and
e) the sum of P45,000.00 as attorneys fees.7
The petitioners seasonably filed separate Notices of Appeal.
The Court of Appeals (CA), Cagayan de Oro City rendered a Decision8 dated October 27, 2005 in CA-G.R. CR No.
27667, the dispositive portion of which reads:
FOR THE REASONS STATED, We DISMISS the appeal of accused-appellant Glicerio Vios, Jr. and AFFIRM the
appealed decision with respect to the accused-appellant Minda Villamor. The award of damages is MODIFIED and
the accused-appellants, together with the accused Ricardo Tormis, are ordered to pay, jointly and severally, the victim
Jean Jumawan the following amounts:
1) P207,279.85 as actual and compensatory damages;
2) P25,000.00 as temperate damages;
3) P50,000.00 as moral damages;
4) P25,000.00 as exemplary damages; and
5) P25,000.00 as attorneys fees.9
The appeal of Glicerio Vios, Jr. was dismissed, since his appeal brief was filed too late without even a motion for
extension of time to file the same having been made.

His motion for reconsideration of the CA Decision having been denied,10 Glicerio Vios, Jr. filed the present Petition for
Review on Certiorari, docketed as G.R. No. 181804. Essentially, he alleged that the CA erred in dismissing his appeal
by mere technicality, and in affirming the factual findings of the trial court.11
Minda Villamors motion for reconsideration of the CA Decision was also denied for being late. She admitted that a
copy of the CA Decision was received by her counsel, Atty. Elpidio N. Cabasan, on November 16, 2005; hence, the
last day to file her motion for reconsideration was on December 1, 2005. On November 30, 2005, however, her new
counsel, Atty. David Warren G. Lim, filed a Motion For Extension of Time to File Motion for Reconsideration (with
Notice of Appearance), praying for a 30-day extension of time from December 1, 2005, or until December 31, 2005,
within which to file the said motion for reconsideration as Atty. Cabasan was suffering from "prostate illness [with]
diabetic complication."12
It was only on December 28, 2005 that Atty. Lim filed a motion for reconsideration13 of the CA Decision, way beyond
the reglementary period.
Expectedly, the CA denied both motions, holding that "no motion for extension of time to file a motion for
reconsideration is allowed pursuant to
Habaluyas Enterprises, Inc. v. Japson, 142 SCRA 208 (May 30, 1986)."14
Minda Villamor then filed the present Petition for Review on Certiorari, docketed as G.R. No. 172110, alleging in
essence that the CA erred in affirming the findings of the trial court, particularly on the credibility of witnesses.15
In its separate Comments, the Office of the Solicitor General prays for the denial of both petitions for lack of merit.
The present petitions must fail.
It is axiomatic that the "Rules of Court, promulgated by authority of law, have the force and effect of law. More
importantly, rules prescribing the time within which certain acts must be done, or certain proceedings taken, are
absolutely indispensable to the prevention of needless delays and the orderly and speedy discharge of judicial
business. Strict compliance with such rules is mandatory and imperative. Only strong considerations of equity will
lead us to allow an exception to the procedural rule in the interest of substantial justice."16
As regards Minda Villamors petition (G.R. No. 172110), suffice it to say that the CA properly denied her motion for
extension of time to file a motion for reconsideration of the assailed CA decision as such motion is clearly proscribed
in Habaluyas Enterprises, Inc. v. Japson. Thus, the subsequent filing of her motion for reconsideration of the CA
decision way beyond the reglementary period has rendered the said decision final and executory.
With respect to the petition of Glicerio Vios, Jr. (G.R. No. 181804), he admits that "he failed to file his appellants brief
within the reglementary period."17 He submits, though, that the CA "erred in dismissing his appeal for such technical
deficiency."18 He justified the late filing of his Appeal Brief in this wise:
x x x the reason of x x x the delayed filing of petitioners appeal brief was because of a shooting incident that took
place in the law firm of petitioners counsel wherein one of the lawyers in the said firm was shot. For this reason, the
law office was x x x temporarily closed for fear of possible attack to the lawyers in the said law firm. Threats were so
high since then that the law office was able to regularly function only sometime in June 2004. With such justifiable
reason, a strict application of Rule 124, Section 8 of the Rules of Court is not ideal because it will obviously deprive
therein petitioner from substantial justice."19
We are not persuaded.

In dismissing the appeal of Glicerio Vios, Jr., the CA noted that despite several months had lapsed from the time the
Notice to File Brief dated November 28, 2003 was sent to the appellants and their counsels, he belatedly filed his
appeal brief only on June 22, 2004 without previously filing a motion for extension of time to file the same. In fact, as
further observed by the CA, his Appeal Brief "makes no mention of any good or sufficient cause explaining the delay
of its filing."20 Thus, the CA ruled:
Vios x x x filed his Brief on June 22, 2004 without filing a motion for extension of time to file appellants brief. The
OSG maintained in its second Appellees Brief that Vios failure to file his brief within the reglementary period warrants
the dismissal of his appeal.
We dismiss Vios appeal for his failure to file the same within the time allowed by the Rules of Court. Rule 124,
Section 8 of the said Rules provides: "x x x. The Court of Appeals may, upon motion of the appellee or motu propio
and with notice to the appellant in either case, dismiss the appeal if the appellant fails to file his brief within the time
prescribed by the Rule, except where the appellant is represented by a counsel de oficio. x x x."
Under the Revised Rules of Criminal Procedure (Section 3, Rule 124), the appellant must file his brief within thirty
(30) days from receipt by the appellant or his counsel of the notice from the clerk of court of this Court that evidence,
oral and documentary, is already attached to the record.
The record reveals that a Notice to File Brief dated November 28, 2003 was sent to the appellants as well as to their
counsels. x x x. Vios did not file any motion for extension of time to file brief despite the fact that several months had
lapsed from the time the notice to file brief was sent to the appellants and their counsels. Vios appeal brief makes no
mention of any good or sufficient cause explaining the delay in its filing. The dismissal of his appeal, therefore, is
proper under the Rules, considering that the trial courts judgment of conviction has become final as to him.21
The belated explanation proffered by petitioner Vios counsel to justify his delay in filing the Appeal Brief was well
rejected by the CA. Indeed, if the alleged shooting incident at his counsels law firm was the cause of the delay, it is
highly unimaginable why such bizarre episode which supposedly prompted the temporary closure of the law firm for
fear of possible follow-up attacks to the lawyers therein was not mentioned at all in his Appeal Brief. Strangely, such
incident was totally concealed from the CA.
Having failed to show compelling reason to warrant the relaxation of the application of the Rules in his favor, Vios
petition must perforce be denied.
The unjustified failure of both petitioners herein to observe very elementary rules of procedure in the observance of
reglementary periods undermines the stability of the judicial process. Thus, their appeal for liberal application of the
Rules "in the interest of substantial justice" cannot be successfully invoked. Besides, their petitions, as shown earlier,
commonly raise factual issues relative to the trial courts findings on the sufficiency of evidence to establish their guilt
beyond reasonable doubt a matter beyond the province of this Court to review.
WHEREFORE, these consolidated petitions are DENIED and the assailed Decision and Resolutions of the Court of
Appeals are AFFIRMED.
G.R. Nos. 112389-90 August 1, 1994
MERCEDES D. NAVARRO, petitioner,

Fortunato F.L. Viray, Jr. for petitioner.

Petitioner Mercedes D. Navarro was convicted of violating B.P. 22 in Criminal Cases Nos. L-3848 and L-3849 in the
Regional Trial Court of Pangasinan. 1 She went to the Court of Appeals. In a motion dated September 15, 1992, she
asked for an extension of 90 days from September 17, 1992, within which to file her brief. The motion was granted.
However, she failed to file her brief within the extension, and even beyond. On February 9, 1993, the appellate court
dismissed her appeal 2 pursuant to Sec. 8, Rule 124 of the Rules of Court. *
On March 1, 1993, Navarro filed a motion for new trial on the ground of "newly-discovered evidence." This was
denied on June 9, 1993, the appellate court observing as follows:
While this Court's Resolution dismissing the above-entitled cases has not yet become final when
the present motion for new trial was filed, appellant-movant failed to show any compelling reason or
justifiable cause for the reinstatement of the appeal. Hence, the dismissal of the appeal stands and
the filing of the motion for new trial is out of order. Before the motion for new trial could be
considered by us, it is incumbent upon appellant-movant to move for reconsideration of this Court's
Resolution dismissing the appeal. No such motion for reconsideration having been filed by herein
movant-appellant, said Resolution has become final as of March 5, 1993.
On July 5, 1993, Navarro filed a motion for reconsideration, but this was denied on October 20, 1993.
In her petition for review before this Court, she alleges that:
a) She never sought reinstatement of her appeal but asked that a new trial be granted on the ground of "newlydiscovered evidence.
b) The conclusion of the Court of Appeals that she should have filed a motion for reconsideration of the dismissal of
the appeal before she filed her motion for new trial has no support under the present rules and jurisprudence.
In his comment on the petition, the Solicitor General contends that the appeal had already been dismissed. What she
should have done first was to move for reconsideration of the order of dismissal and have the appeal reinstated. The
respondent court could not entertain and give due course to any other pleading filed after the dismissal of the appeal.
The petition must fail.
As Navarro filed only a notice of appeal and not an appellant's brief, her appeal was correctly dismissed for lack of
interest in prosecuting it.
The Court of Appeals was also correct in denying her motion for new trial, although not simply on the technical
ground of failure to file a motion for reconsideration of the dismissal order.
Rule 124, Sec. 14, of the Rules of Court provides:
At any time after the appeal from the lower court has been perfected and before the judgment of
the appellate court convicting the accused becomes final, the latter may move for a new trial on the
ground of newly-discovered evidence material to his defense, the motion to conform to the
provisions of Sec. 4, Rule 121.

In the present case, the motion for new trial was filed with the Court of Appeals after the dismissal of the appeal for
non-filing of the appellant's brief. The dismissal of an appeal becomes a final judgment of the appellate court after the
lapse of 15 days from service of a copy thereof upon the accused or his counsel unless the period is suspended by a
motion for new trial.
At the time the motion for new trial was filed by the petitioner with the appellate court, the resolution dismissing the
appeal (and thus affirming the judgment of the trial court) had not yet become final. Navarro received notice of the
resolution on February 17, 1993. The judgment became final on March 5, 1993. The motion for new trial was filed on
March 1, 1993, within the period fixed under Rule 124. In fact, the appellate court itself admitted that its resolution
dismissing the appeal "ha(d) not yet become final when the motion for new trial was filed."
It would appear, however, that the petitioner decided to file the motion for new trial only when she received a copy of
the resolution of the appellate court dismissing her appeal.
After the alleged accidental meeting with the saleslady to whom she claims to have made payment, the petitioner had
taken no step, either by herself or her counsel, to manifest before the Court of Appeals that she was filing a motion for
new trial because of "newly-discovered evidence."
Neither did she move to have her appeal reinstated after it was dismissed, nor did she offer any explanation for her
failure to file her brief. It was only on March 1, 1993, or more than 60 days after the lapse of the 90-day extension
granted by the appellate court, that she filed her motion for new trial.
The petitioner probably hoped that her lost appeal could be retrieved by a motion for new trial. It was not.
There is another justification for the denial of the petitioner's motion for new trial. The appellate court did not exercise
its discretion capriciously or whimsically because the so-called "newly-discovered evidence," if admitted, would at
most have been corroborative only. We do not consider it of so substantial a character as to overturn the judgment of
The alleged newly-discovered evidence would have made a difference if the date of payment made by Navarro to
Tamayo's saleslady had been stated therein, to prove that payment was made within 5 banking days from notice of
the dishonor of the checks. The prima facie presumption laid down in B.P. 22 that the drawer had knowledge of the
insufficiency of his funds at the time of the issuance of the check would have been rebutted. The alleged payment
would have precluded the filing of the charges were it not for the significant fact that the receipt wasundated.
The conviction was correctly sustained by the respondent court. The elements of the offense punished in B.P. 22 are:
(1) the making, drawing and issuance of any check to apply to account or for value; (2) the knowledge of the maker,
drawer or issuer that at the time of issue he does not have sufficient funds in or credit with the drawee bank for the
payment of such check in full upon its presentment; and (3) subsequent dishonor of the check by the drawee bank for
insufficiency of funds or credit or dishonor for the same reason had not the drawer, without any valid cause, ordered
the bank to stop payment. 3
Payment of the value of the check either by the drawer or by the drawee bank within five banking days from notice of
the dishonor given to the drawer is a complete defense. The prima facie presumption that the drawer had knowledge
of the insufficiency of his funds or credit at the time of the issuance and on its presentment for payment is rebutted by
such payment. This defense lies regardless of the strength of the evidence offered by the prosecution to prove the
elements of the offense. In the case at bar, the petitioner failed to overcome the presumption by substantiating her
allegation of payment. There is no proof that the payment, if it was really made at all, was done within 5 days from the
notice of dishonor.
Worthy of special note are the following acute observations of Judge Antonio M. Belen, with which we fully agree:

It is rather strange why the accused did not immediately inform the complaining witness that she
had already paid the amounts covered by exhibits A and B (checks in question) when oral as well
as written demands were made to her before the filing of the cases. It is likewise hard to believe
that the accused will just pay and give the sum of P28,750 to a mere saleslady of the complainant
without any receipt. There is a legal maxim that evidence to be credible must not only proceed from
the mouth of a credible witness but it must be credible in itself. No better test has yet been found to
measure the value of a witness' testimony than its conformity to the knowledge and common
experience of mankind (People vs. Baquiran, 20 SCRA 451).
We are satisfied that the respondent court did not err in not granting the motion for new trial based on the supposed
newly-discovered evidence, which, even if admitted, would not have reversed the petitioner's conviction.
WHEREFORE, the petition is DENIED and the challenged decision of the Court of Appeals is AFFIRMED, with costs
against the petitioner. It is so ordered.
Davide, Jr., Quiason and Kapunan, JJ., concur.
Bellosillo, J., is on leave.
G.R. No. 186417

July 27, 2011


FELIPE MIRANDILLA, JR., Defendant and Appellant.
For Review before this Court is the Decision of the Court of Appeals (CA) in CA-G.R. CR-HC No. 00271,1 dated 29
February 2008, finding accused Felipe Mirandilla, Jr., (Mirandilla) guilty beyond reasonable doubt of special complex
crime of kidnapping with rape; four counts of rape; and, one count of rape through sexual assault.
Mirandilla is now asking this Court to acquit him. He contends that he could not have kidnapped and raped the victim,
AAA,2 whom he claims to be his live-in partner. The records, however, reveal with moral certainty his guilt.
Accordingly, We modify the CA Decision and find him guilty of the special complex crime of kidnapping and illegal
detention with rape.
AAA narrated her 39-day ordeal in the hands of Mirandilla.
It was 2 December 2000, eve of the fiesta in Barangay San Francisco, Legazpi City. At the plaza, AAA was dancing
with her elder sister, BBB.3
AAA went out of the dancing hall to buy candies in a nearby store. While making her way back through the crowd, a
man grabbed her hand, his arm wrapped her shoulders, with a knifes point thrust at her right side. She will come to
know the mans name at the police station, after her escape, to be Felipe Mirandilla, Jr.4 He told her not to move or
ask for help. Another man joined and went beside her, while two others stayed at her back, one of whom had a gun.

They slipped through the unsuspecting crowd, walked farther as the deafening music faded into soft sounds. After a
four-hour walk through the grassy fields, they reached the Mayon International Hotel, where they boarded a waiting
tricycle. Upon passing the Albay Cathedral, the others alighted, leaving AAA alone with Mirandilla who after receiving
a gun from a companion, drove the tricycle farther away and into the darkness. Minutes later, they reached the
Gallera de Legazpi in Rawis.5
Mirandilla dragged AAA out of the tricycle and pushed her inside a concrete house. At gunpoint he ordered her to
remove her pants.6 When she defied him, he slapped her and hit her arms with a gun, forced his hands inside her
pants, into her panty, and reaching her vagina, slipped his three fingers and rotated them inside. The pain weakened
her. He forcibly pulled her pants down and lifting her legs, pushed and pulled his penis inside.7"Sayang ka," she
heard him whisper at her,8 as she succumbed to pain and exhaustion.
When AAA woke up the following morning, she found herself alone. She cried for help, shouting until her throat dried.
But no one heard her. No rescue came.
At around midnight, Mirandilla arrived together with his gang. Pointing a gun at AAA, he ordered her to open her
mouth; she sheepishly obeyed. He forced his penis inside her mouth, pulling through her hair with his left hand and
slapping her with his right. After satisfying his lust, he dragged her into the tricycle and drove to Bogtong, Legazpi. At
the roads side, Mirandilla pushed her against a reclining tree, gagged her mouth with cloth, punched her arm, thigh,
and lap, and pulled up her over-sized shirt. Her underwear was gone. Then she felt Mirandillas penis inside her
vagina. A little while, a companion warned Mirandilla to move out. And they drove away.9
They reached a nipa hut and AAA was thrown inside. Her mouth was again covered with cloth. Mirandilla, with a gun
aimed at her point blank, grabbed her shirt, forced her legs open, and again inserted his penis into her vagina.10
The following evening, Mirandilla and his gang brought AAA to Guinobatan, where she suffered the same fate. They
repeatedly detained her at daytime, moved her back and forth from one place to another on the following nights, first
to Bonga, then back to Guinobatan, where she was locked up in a cell-type house and was raped repeatedly on the
grassy field right outside her cell, then to Camalig, where they caged her in a small house in the middle of a rice field.
She was allegedly raped 27 times.11
One afternoon, in Guinobatan, AAA succeeded in opening the door of her cell. Seeing that Mirandilla and his
companions were busy playing cards, she rushed outside and ran, crossed a river, got drenched, and continued
running. She rested for awhile, hiding behind a rock; she walked through the fields and stayed out of peoples sight
for two nights. Finally, she found a road and followed its path, leading her to the house of Evelyn Guevarra who
brought her to the police station. It was 11 January 2001. AAA was in foul smell, starving and sleepless. Evelyn
Guevarra gave her a bath and the police gave her food. When the police presented to her pictures of suspected
criminals, she recognized the mans face she was certain it was him. He was Felipe Mirandilla, Jr., the police told
The following morning, accompanied by the police, AAA submitted herself to Dr. Sarah Vasquez, Legazpi Citys
Health Officer for medical examination. The doctor discovered hymenal lacerations in different positions of her
hymen, indicative of sexual intercourse.13 Foul smelling pus also oozed from her vagina - AAA had contracted
Mirandilla denied the charges against him. This is his version.
Mirandilla first met AAA on 3 October 2000. By stroke of fate, they bumped into each other at the Albay Park where
AAA, wearing a school uniform, approached him. They had a short chat. They were neighbors in Barangay San
Francisco until Mirandilla left his wife and daughter there for good.15

Two days later, Mirandilla and AAA met again at the park. He started courting her,16 and, after five days, as AAA
celebrated her 18th birthday, they became lovers. Mirandilla was then 33 years old.
Immediately, Mirandilla and AAA had sex nightly in their friends houses and in cheap motels. On 24 October 2000,
after Mirandilla went to his mothers house in Kilikao, they met again at the park, at their usual meeting place, in front
of the parks comfort room, near Arlene Moret, a cigarette vendor who also served as the CRs guard.17 They decided
to elope and live as a couple. They found an abandoned house in Rawis, at the back of Gallera de Legazpi. Emilio
Mendoza who owned the house, rented it to them for P1,500.00.18 They lived there from 28 October until 11
December 2000.19 From 12 December 2000 until 11 January 2001,20 Mirandilla and AAA stayed in Rogelio
Marcellanas house, at the resettlement Site in Banquerohan, Legazpi City.
Mirandilla and AAAs nightly sexual intimacy continued, with abstentions only during AAAs menstrual periods, the last
of which she had on 7 December 2000.21 In late December, however, Mirandilla, who just arrived home after visiting
his mother in Kilikao, saw AAA soaked in blood, moaning in excruciating stomach pain.22 AAA had abortion an
inference he drew upon seeing the cover of pills lying beside AAA. Mirandilla claimed that AAA bled for days until she
left him in January 2001 after quarrelling for days.23
Mirandilla, however, had a second version of this crucial event. He claimed that AAA missed her menstruation in
December 200024 and that he would not have known she had an abortion had she not confessed it to him.25
Mirandilla was charged before the Regional Trial Court (RTC) of Legazpi City, Branch 5, with kidnapping with rape
(Crim. Case No. 9278), four counts of rape (Crim. Case Nos. 9274 to 9277), and rape through sexual assault (Crim.
Case No. 9279).
The RTC, in its decision dated 1 July 2004, convicted Mirandilla of kidnapping, four counts of rape, and one count of
rape through sexual assault with this finding:
This Court has arrived at the factual conclusion that Felipe Mirandilla, Jr., in the company of three others [conferrers],
kidnapped AAA in Barangay xxx, City of xxx, on or on about midnight of December 2, 2000 or early morning of
December 3, 2000, held her in detention for thirty-nine days in separate cells situated in the City of xxx; xxx; and xxx.
Felipe Mirandilla, Jr., carnally abused her while holding a gun and/or a knife for twenty seven times, employing force
and intimidation. The twenty seven sexual intercourses were eventually perpetrated between the City of xxx and the
towns of xxx and xxx. At least once, Felipe Mirandilla, Jr., put his penis inside the mouth of AAA against her will while
employing intimidation, threats, and force.26
On review, the CA affirmed with modification the RTC ruling, convicting Mirandilla. It found him guilty of the special
complex crime of kidnapping with rape (instead of kidnapping as the RTC ruled), four counts of rape, and one count
of rape by sexual assault.27 It rejected Mirandillas defense that he and AAA were live-in partners and that their sexual
encounters were consensual.28 It noted that Mirandilla failed to adduce any evidence or any credible witness to
sustain his defense.29
Hence, this appeal.
Mirandilla repeats his allegations that the prosecutions lone witness, AAA, was not a credible witness and that he
and AAA were live-in partners whose intimacy they expressed in consensual sex.

We find Mirandilla guilty of the special complex crime of kidnapping and illegal detention with rape.
Mirandilla admitted in open court to have had sexual intercourse with AAA, which happened almost nightly during
their cohabitation. He contended that they were live-in partners, entangled in a whirlwind romance, which intimacy
they expressed in countless passionate sex, which headed ironically to separation mainly because of AAAs
intentional abortion of their first child to be a betrayal in its gravest form which he found hard to forgive.
In stark contrast to Mirandillas tale of a love affair, is AAAs claim of her horrific ordeal and her flight to freedom after
39 days in captivity during which Mirandilla raped her 27 times.
First Issue:
Credibility of Prosecution Witness
Jurisprudence is consistent that for testimonial evidence to be believed, it must not only come from a credible witness
but must be credible in itself tested by human experience, observation, common knowledge and accepted conduct
that has evolved through the years.30
Daggers v. Van Dyck,31 illuminates:
Evidence to be believed, must not only proceed from the mouth of a credible witness, but it must be credible in itself
such as the common experience and observation of mankind can approve as probable under the circumstances. We
have no test of the truth of human testimony, except its conformity to our knowledge, observation, and experience.
Whatever is repugnant to these belongs to the miraculous and is outside of judicial cognizance.32
First, the trial judge, who had the opportunity of observing AAAs manner and demeanour on the witness stand, was
convinced of her credibility: "AAA appeared to be a simple and truthful woman, whose testimony was consistent,
steady and firm, free from any material and serious contradictions."33 The court continued:
The record nowhere yields any evidence of ill motive on the part of AAA to influence her in fabricating criminal
charges against Felipe Mirandilla, Jr. The absence of ill motive enhances the standing of AAA as a witness. x x x.
When AAA testified in court, she was sobbing. While she was facing Felipe Mirandilla, Jr., to positively identify him in
open court, she was crying. Felipe Mirandilla Jr.s response was to smile. AAA was a picture of a woman who was
gravely harmed, craving for justice. x x x.34
Second, the trial court found AAAs testimony to be credible in itself. AAAs ordeal was entered into the police blotter
immediately after her escape,35 negating opportunity for concoction.36 While in Mirandillas company, none of her
parents, brothers, sisters, relatives, classmates, or anyone who knew her, visited, saw, or talked to her. None of them
knew her whereabouts.37 AAAs testimony was corroborated by Dr. Sarah Vasquez, Legazpi Citys Health Officer, who
discovered the presence not only of hymenal lacerations but also gonorrhoea, a sexually transmitted disease.
More importantly, AAA remained consistent in the midst of gruelling cross examination. The defense lawyer tried to
impeach her testimony, but failed to do so.
The Court of Appeals confirmed AAAs credibility in affirming the RTC decision.
We emphasize that a trial courts assessment of a witness credibility, when affirmed by the CA, is even conclusive
and binding, if not tainted with arbitrariness or oversight of some fact or circumstance of weight or influence.38This is
so because of the judicial experience that trial courts are in a better position to decide the question of credibility,
having heard the witnesses themselves and having observed firsthand their deportment and manner of testifying
under gruelling examination.39 Thus, in Estioca v. People,40 we held:

In resolving issues pertaining to the credibility of the witnesses, this Court is guided by the following principles: (1) the
reviewing court will not disturb the findings of the lower courts, unless there is a showing that it overlooked or
misapplied some fact or circumstance of weight and substance that may affect the result of the case; (2) the findings
of the trial court on the credibility of witnesses are entitled to great respect and even finality, as it had the opportunity
to examine their demeanour when they testified on the witness stand; and (3) a witness who testifies in a clear,
positive and convincing manner is a credible witness.41
Second Issue
"Sweetheart Theory" not Proven
Accuseds bare invocation of sweetheart theory cannot alone, stand. To be credible, it must be corroborated by
documentary, testimonial, or other evidence.42 Usually, these are letters, notes, photos, mementos, or credible
testimonies of those who know the lovers.43
The sweetheart theory as a defense, however, necessarily admits carnal knowledge, the first element of rape.
Effectively, it leaves the prosecution the burden to prove only force or intimidation, the coupling element of rape.
Love, is not a license for lust.44
This admission makes the sweetheart theory more difficult to defend, for it is not only an affirmative defense that
needs convincing proof;45 after the prosecution has successfully established a prima facie case,46 the burden of
evidence is shifted to the accused,47 who has to adduce evidence that the intercourse was consensual.48
A prima facie case arises when the party having the burden of proof has produced evidence sufficient to support a
finding and adjudication for him of the issue in litigation.49
Burden of evidence is "that logical necessity which rests on a party at any particular time during the trial to create a
prima facie case in his favour or to overthrow one when created against him."50(Emphasis supplied)
Mirandilla with his version of facts as narrated above attempted to meet the prosecutions prima facie case. To
corroborate it, he presented his mother, Alicia Mirandilla; his relatives, Rogelio Marcellana and Emilio Mendoza; and,
his friend Arlene Moret.
Arlene Moret, the cigarette vendor who also served as the CRs guard, testified that on 30 October 2000, AAA and
Mirandilla arrived together at the park.51 They approached her and chatted with her. On cross examination, she
claimed otherwise: Mirandilla arrived alone two hours earlier, chatting with her first, before AAA finally came.52 She
also claimed meeting the couple for the first time on 30 October 2000, only to contradict herself on cross examination
with the version that she met them previously, three times at least, in the previous month.53 On the other hand,
Mirandilla claimed first meeting AAA on 3 October 2000 at the park.54
The accuseds mother, Alicia Mirandilla, testified meeting her son only once, and living in Kilikao only after his
imprisonment.55 This contradicted Mirandillas claim that he visited his mother several times in Kilikao, from October
2000 until January 2001.56
Even Mirandilla contradicted himself. His claim that he saw AAA soaked in blood, agonizing in pain, with the
abortifacient pills cover lying nearby, cannot be reconciled with his other claim that he came to know AAAs abortion
only through the latters admission.57
Taken individually and as a whole, the defense witnesses testimonies contradicted each other and flip-flopped on
materials facts, constraining this Court to infer that they concocted stories in a desperate attempt to exonerate the

As a rule, self-contradictions and contradictory statement of witnesses should be reconciled,58 it being true that such
is possible since a witness is not expected to give error-free testimony considering the lapse of time and the
treachery of human memory.59 But, this principle, learned from lessons of human experience, applies only to minor or
trivial matters innocent lapses that do not affect witness credibility.60 They do not apply to self-contradictions on
material facts.61 Where these contradictions cannot be reconciled, the Court has to reject the testimonies,62 and apply
the maxim, falsus in uno, falsus in omnibus. Thus,
To completely disregard all the testimony of a witness based on the maxim falsus in uno, falsus in omnibus, testimony
must have been false as to a material point, and the witness must have a conscious and deliberate intention to falsify
a material point. In other words, its requirements, which must concur, are the following: (1) that the false testimony is
as to one or more material points; and (2) that there should be a conscious and deliberate intention to falsity.63
Crimes and Punishment
An appeal in criminal case opens the entire case for review on any question, including one not raised by the
parties.64 This was our pronouncement in the 1902 landmark case of U.S. v. Abijan,65 which is now embodied in
Section 11, Rule 124 of the Rules of Court:
SEC 11. Scope of Judgment. The Court of Appeals may reverse, affirm, or modify the judgment and increase or
reduce the penalty imposed by the trial court, remand the case to the Regional Trial Court for new trial or retrial, or
dismiss the case. (Emphasis supplied)
The reason behind this rule is that when an accused appeals from the sentence of the trial court, he waives the
constitutional safeguard against double jeopardy and throws the whole case open to the review of the appellate court,
which is then called upon to render such judgment as law and justice dictate, whether favorable or unfavorable to the
To reiterate, the six informations charged Mirandilla with kidnapping and serious illegal detention with rape (Crim.
Case No. 9278), four counts of rape (Crim. Case Nos. 9274-75-76-77), and one count of rape through sexual assault
(Crim. Case No. 9279).
The accusatory portion of the information in Criminal Case No. 9278 alleged that Mirandilla kidnapped AAA and
seriously and illegally detained her for more than three days during which time he had carnal knowledge of her,
against her will.67
The Court agrees with the CA in finding Mirandilla guilty of the special complex crime of kidnapping with rape, instead
of simple kidnapping as the RTC ruled. It was the RTC, no less, which found that Mirandilla kidnapped AAA, held her
in detention for 39 days and carnally abused her while holding a gun and/or a knife.68
Rape under Article 266-A of the Revised Penal Code states that:
Art. 266-A. Rape, When and How Committed. Rape is committed
1. By a man who shall have carnal knowledge of a woman under any of the following circumstances:
a. Through force, threat or intimidation; xxx.
2. By any person who, under any of the circumstances mentioned in paragraph 1 hereof, shall commit an act
of sexual assault by inserting his penis into another persons mouth or anal orifice, or any instrument or
object, into the genital or anal orifice of another person.

AAA was able to prove each element of rape committed under Article 266-A, par. 1(a) of the Revised Penal Code,
that (1) Mirandilla had carnal knowledge of her; (2) through force, threat, or intimidation. She was also able to prove
each element of rape by sexual assault under Article 266-A, par. 2 of the Revised Penal Code: (1) Mirandilla inserted
his penis into her mouth; (2) through force, threat, or intimidation.
Likewise, kidnapping and serious illegal detention is provided for under Article 267 of the Revised Penal Code:
Article 267. Kidnapping and serious illegal detention. Any private individual who shall kidnap or detain another, or in
any manner deprive him of his liberty, shall suffer the penalty of reclusion perpetua to death;
1. If the kidnapping or detention shall have lasted more than three days. xxx
An imminent Spanish commentator explained:
la detencin, la pricin, la privacin de la libertad de una persona, en cualquier forma y por cualquier medio por
cualquier tiempo en virtud de la cual resulte interrumpido el libre ejercicio de su actividad."69
Emphatically, the last paragraph of Article 267 of the Revised Penal Code, as amended by R.A. No. 7659,70states that
when the victim is killed or dies as a consequence of the detention or is raped, or is subjected to torture or
dehumanizing acts, the maximum penalty shall be imposed. This provision gives rise to a special complex crime. As
the Court explained in People v. Larraaga,71 this arises where the law provides a single penalty for two or more
component offenses.72
Notably, however, no matter how many rapes had been committed in the special complex crime of kidnapping with
rape, the resultant crime is only one kidnapping with rape.73 This is because these composite acts are regarded as a
single indivisible offense as in fact R.A. No. 7659 punishes these acts with only one single penalty. In a way, R.A.
7659 depreciated the seriousness of rape because no matter how many times the victim was raped, like in the
present case, there is only one crime committed the special complex crime of kidnapping with rape.
However, for the crime of kidnapping with rape, as in this case, the offender should not have taken the victim with
lewd designs, otherwise, it would be complex crime of forcible abduction with rape. In People v. Garcia,74 we
explained that if the taking was by forcible abduction and the woman was raped several times, the crimes committed
is one complex crime of forcible abduction with rape, in as much as the forcible abduction was only necessary for the
first rape; and each of the other counts of rape constitutes distinct and separate count of rape.75
It having been established that Mirandillas act was kidnapping and serious illegal detention (not forcible abduction)
and on the occasion thereof, he raped AAA several times, We hold that Mirandilla is guilty beyond reasonable doubt
of the special complex crime of kidnapping and serious illegal detention with rape, warranting the penalty of death.
However, in view of R.A. No. 9346 entitled, An Act Prohibiting the Imposition of Death Penalty in the Philippines,76 the
penalty of death is hereby reduced to reclusion perpetua,77 without eligibility for parole.78
We, therefore, modify the CA Decision. We hold that the separate informations of rape cannot be considered as
separate and distinct crimes in view of the above discussion.
As to the award of damages, we have the following rulings.
This Court has consistently held that upon the finding of the fact of rape, the award of civil damages ex delicto is
mandatory.79 As we elucidated in People v. Prades,80 the award authorized by the criminal law as civil indemnity ex
delicto for the offended party, aside from other proven actual damages, is itself equivalent to actual or compensatory
damages in civil law.81 Thus, we held that the civil liability ex delicto provided by the Revised Penal Code, that is,
restitution, reparation, and indemnification,82 all correspond to actual or compensatory damages in the Civil Code.83

In the 1998 landmark case of People v. Victor,84 the Court enunciated that if, in the crime of rape, the death penalty is
imposed, the indemnity ex delicto for the victim shall be in the increased amount of NOT85 less thanP75,000.00. To
reiterate the words of the Court: "this is not only a reaction to the apathetic societal perception of the penal law and
the financial fluctuation over time, but also an expression of the displeasure of the Court over the incidence
of heinous crimes..."86 xxx (Emphasis supplied)
After the enactment R.A. 9346,87 prohibiting the imposition of death penalty, questions arose as to the continued
applicability of the Victor88 ruling. Thus, in People v. Quiachon,89 the Court pronounced that even if the penalty of
death is not to be imposed because of R.A. No. 9346, the civil indemnity ex delicto of P75,000.00 still applies
because this indemnity is not dependent on the actual imposition of death, but on the fact that qualifying
circumstances warranting the penalty of death attended the commission of the offense.90 As explained in People v.
Salome,91 while R.A. No. 9346 prohibits the imposition of the death penalty, the fact remains that the penalty provided
for by the law for a heinous offense is still death, and the offense is still heinous.92 (Emphasis supplied)
In addition, AAA is entitled to moral damages pursuant to Art. 2219 of the Civil Code,93 without the necessity of
additional pleadings or proof other than the fact of rape. This move of dispensing evidence to prove moral damage in
rape cases, traces its origin in People v. Prades,94 where we held that:
The Court has also resolved that in crimes of rape, such as that under consideration, moral damages may
additionally be awarded to the victim in the criminal proceeding, in such amount as the Court deems just, without the
need for pleading or proof of the basis thereof as has heretofore been the practice. Indeed, the conventional
requirement of allegata et probata in civil procedure and for essentially civil cases should be dispensed with in
criminal prosecutions for rape with the civil aspect included therein, since no appropriate pleadings are filed wherein
such allegations can be made. (Emphasis supplied)1avvphi1
Corollarily, the fact that complainant has suffered the trauma of mental, physical and psychological sufferings which
constitute the bases for moral damages are too obvious to still require the recital thereof at the trial by the victim,
since the Court itself even assumes and acknowledges such agony on her part as a gauge of her credibility. What
exists by necessary implication as being ineludibly present in the case need not go through superfluity of still being
proven through a testimonial charade. (Emphasis supplied)95
AAA is also entitled to exemplary damages of P30,000.00, pursuant to the present jurisprudence.
WHEREFORE, the appeal is DENIED. The Decision of the Court of Appeals in CA-G.R. CR-HC No. 00271 is hereby
AFFIRMED with MODIFICATION. Accused Felipe Mirandilla, Jr., is found guilty beyond reasonable doubt of the
special complex crime of kidnapping and serious illegal detention with rape under the last paragraph of Article 267 of
the Revised Penal Code, as amended, by R.A. No. 7659, and is sentenced to suffer the penalty of reclusion
perpetua, without eligibility for parole, and to pay the offended party AAA, the amounts of P75,000.00 as civil
indemnity ex delicto, P75,000.00 as moral damages, and P30,000.00 as exemplary damages.
G.R. No. 149723

October 27, 2006




Assailed by way of Petition for Review on Certiorari under Rule 45 of the Rules of Court is the August 31, 2001
Resolution1 of the Court of Appeals (CA) in CA-G.R. CR No. 20431 which granted the Motion for Bail2 of accusedappellant, herein respondent Victor Keith Fitzgerald, (Fitzgerald).
The facts are of record.
An Information filed with the Regional Trial Court (RTC), Branch 75, Olongapo City and docketed as Criminal Case
No. 422-94, charged Fitzgerald, an Australian citizen, with Violation of Art. III, Section 5, paragraph (a), subparagraph
(5) of Republic Act (R.A.) No. 7610,3 allegedly committed as follows:
That sometime in the month of September 1993, in the City of Olongapo, Zambales, Philippines and within
the jurisdiction of this Honorable Court, said accused VICTOR KEITH FITZGERALD, actuated by lust, and
by the use of laced drugs ("vitamins") willfully, unlawfully and feloniously induced complainant "AAA,"4 a
minor, 13 years of age, to engage in prostitution by then and there showering said "AAA" with gifts, clothes
and food and thereafter having carnal knowledge of her in violation of the aforesaid law and to her damage
and prejudice.5
After trial and hearing, the RTC rendered a Decision dated May 7, 1996, the decretal portion of which reads:
WHEREFORE, finding the accused Victor Keith Fitzgerald GUILTY beyond reasonable doubt of the offense
of Violation of Section 5, Paragraph (a) sub-paragraph 5 of Republic Act No. 7610, he is hereby sentenced
to suffer an indeterminate prison term of eight (8) years and one (1) day of prision mayor as minimum, to
seventeen (17) years, four (4) months and one (1) day of reclusion temporal as maximum, with all the
accessory penalties attached therewith; and to indemnify the private complainant "AAA" the amounts
ofP30,000.00 as moral damages and P20,000.00 as exemplary damages.
The Lingap Center of the Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD) in Olongapo City shall
hold in trust the said awards and dispose the same solely for the rehabilitation and education of "AAA", to
the exclusion of her mother and her other relatives.
The accused under Article 29 of the Revised Penal Code shall be credited in full of his preventive
imprisonment if he has agreed voluntarily in writing to abide by the same disciplinary rules imposed upon
convicted prisoners, otherwise to only 4/5 thereof.
Upon completion of the service of his sentence, the accused shall be deported immediately and forever
barred from entry to the Philippines.
In Criminal Case No. 419-94 for Rape, the accused is acquitted.
Fitzgerald applied for bail which the RTC denied in an Order dated August 1, 1996, which reads:
In fine, on the basis of the evidence adduced by the Prosecution during the hearing on the bail petition, the
Court is of the considered view that the circumstances of the accused indicate probability of flight and that
there is undue risk that the accused may commit a similar offense, if released on bail pending appeal.

WHEREFORE, and viewed from the foregoing considerations, the Petition for Bail pending appeal is
Fitzgerald appealed to the CA which, in a Decision8 dated September 27, 1999, affirmed the RTC Decision, thus:
IN VIEW WHEREOF, with the modification that the penalty imposed on the accused-appellant is
imprisonment of Fourteen (14) years, Eight (8) months and One (1) day of Reclusion Temporal to Twenty
(20) years and One (1) day of Reclusion Perpetua, the decision of the court a quo is hereby AFFIRMED.
Fitzgerald filed a Motion for New Trial10 and a Supplemental to Accused's Motion for New Trial11 on the ground that
new and material evidence not previously available had surfaced. The CA granted the Motion for New Trial in a
Resolution dated August 25, 2000, to wit:
WHEREFORE, the appellant's Motion for New Trial dated October 14, 1999 is GRANTED. The original
records of this case is hereby REMANDED to the Presiding Judge of the Regional Trial Court of
Olongapo City Branch 75 who is DIRECTED to receive the new evidence material to appellant's
defense within sixty days from receipt and thereafter to submit to this Court the said evidence
together with the transcript of stenographic notes together with the records of the case within ten
(10) days after the reception of evidence. The Motion to Transfer appellant to the National Penitentiary is
DENIED.12 (Emphasis ours)
The People (petitioner) filed a Motion for Reconsideration13 from the August 25, 2000 CA Resolution while Fitzgerald
filed a Motion to Fix Bail with Manifestation.14 Both Motions were denied by the CA in its November 13, 2000
Resolution.15 In denying Fitzgerald's bail application, the CA held:
[T]his Court hereby RESOLVES to:
2. DENY accused-appellant's Motion to Fix Bail with Manifestation, pursuant to the provisions of Section 7,
Rule 114 of the Rules of Court which provides:
"Sec. 7. Capital Offense or an offense punishable by reclusion perpetua or life imprisonment, not
bailable. No person charged with a capital offense, or an offense punishable by reclusion
perpetua or life imprisonment when evidence of guilt is strong shall be admitted to bail regardless
of the stage of the criminal procecution."
In the case at bar, the maximum imposable penalty in accordance with Republic Act 7610 otherwise known
as the Special Protection of Children against Child Abuse, Exploitation and Discrimination Act is reclusion
perpetua. As it is, the evidence of guilt is strong, hence, We hold that his motion for bail cannot be
granted at this point.
With regard to his alleged physical condition, let it be stressed that accused-appellant is not
precluded from seeking medical attention if the need arises provided the necessary representations
with the proper authorities are made.
SO ORDERED.16 (Emphasis ours)
The People filed with this Court a Petition for Review on Certiorari17 docketed as G.R. No. 146008 questioning the
August 25, 2000 and November 13, 2000 CA Resolutions. The petition was dismissed in a Resolution18 dated
January 15, 2001, which became final and executory on May 2, 2001.19

Meanwhile, on December 3, 2000, Fitzgerald filed with the CA a Motion for Early Transmittal of the Records and for
the Re-Examination of the Penalty Imposed, and a Motion for Bail.20 The People filed its Comment21 to both Motions.
On August 31, 2001, the CA issued the herein assailed Resolution22 granting Fitzgerald's bail application, thus:
Be that as it may, while We maintain that, as it is, the evidence of guilt is strong, We have taken a
second look at appellant's plea for temporary liberty considering primarily the fact that appellant is already of
old age23 and is not in the best of health. Thus, it is this Court's view that appellant be GRANTED temporary
liberty premised not on the grounds stated in his Motion for Bail but in the higher interest of substantial
justice and considering the new trial granted in this case. Accordingly, appellant is hereby DIRECTED to
post a bail bond in the amount of P100,000.00 for his temporary liberty provided he will appear in any court
and submit himself to the orders and processes thereof if and when required to do so. The appellant is
likewise refrained from leaving the country now or in the future until this case is terminated. Accordingly, the
Bureau of Immigration and Deportation is ORDERED to include appellant in its hold departure list xxx.
SO ORDERED.24 (Emphasis ours)
Thereafter, the RTC ordered Fitzgerald's temporary release on
September 4, 2001 upon his filing a cash bond in the amount of P100,000.00.25
Hence, the People filed this Petition to have the August 31, 2001 CA Resolution annulled and set aside. Petitioner
argues that the CA erred in granting respondent Fitzgerald's Motion for Bail despite the fact that the latter was
charged with a crime punishable by reclusion perpetua and the evidence of his guilt is strong.26 It also questions the
jurisdiction of the CA to act on said Motion, considering that the case had been remanded to the RTC for new trial.27
In his Comment and Memorandum, respondent counters that the grant of new trial negated the previous findings of
the existence of strong evidence of his guilt;28 and justifies his provisional release on humanitarian grounds, citing as
an extraordinary circumstance his advanced age and deteriorating health.29
The petition is meritorious.
We resolve first the preliminary question of whether the CA, after issuing its August 25, 2000 Resolution granting a
new trial, still had jurisdiction to act on respondent's Motion to Post Bail. Our ruling on this matter, however, shall be
limitted to the effect of the August 25, 2000 CA Resolution on the latter's jurisdiction; it shall have no bearing on the
merits of said Resolution as this has been decided with finality in G.R. No. 146008.
According to petitioner, considering that the August 25, 2000 CA Resolution, referring the case to the RTC for new
trial, had become final and executory on May 2, 2001 when this Court denied its petition for review in G.R. No.
146008, then, when the CA issued the August 31, 2001 Resolution granting respondent bail, it had been stripped of
jurisdiction over the case.30
Petitioner is mistaken.
When this Court grants a new trial, it vacates both the judgment of the trial court convicting the accused31 and the
judgment of the CA affirming it,32 and remands the case to the trial court for reception of newly-discovered evidence
and promulgation of a new judgment,33 at times with instruction to the trial court to promptly report the outcome.34 The
Court itself does not conduct the new trial for it is no trier of facts.35
However, when the CA grants a new trial, its disposition of the case may differ, notwithstanding Sec. 1,36 Rule 125 of
the 2000 Rules on Criminal Procedure which provides for uniformity in appellate criminal procedure between this
Court and the CA. Unlike this Court, the CA may decide questions of fact and mixed questions of fact and law.37 Thus,
when it grants a new trial under Sec. 14, Rule 124, it may either (a) directly receive the purported newly-discovered

evidence under Sec. 12,38 or (b) refer the case to the court of origin for reception of such evidence under Sec. 15.39 In
either case, it does not relinquish to the trial court jurisdiction over the case; it retains sufficient authority to resolve
incidents in the case and decide its merits.
Now then, the CA, in its August 25, 2000 Resolution, ordered: first, the remand of the original records of the case to
the RTC; second, that the RTC receive the new evidence material to appellant's defense within 60 days from receipt
of the original records; and third, that the RTC submit to it the said evidence together with the transcript of the case
within 10 days after reception of evidence.40 From the foregoing dispostion, it is evident that the CA retained appellate
jurisdiction over the case, even as it delegated to the RTC the function of receiving the respondent's newlydiscovered evidence. The CA therefore retained its authority to act on respondent's bail application. Moreso that the
the original records of the case had yet to be transmitted to the RTC when respondent filed his bail application and
the CA acted on it.
With that procedural matter out of the way, we now focus on the substantive issue of whether the CA erred when it
allowed respondent to bail.
The right to bail emenates from of the right to be presumed innocent. It is accorded to a person in the custody of the
law who may, by reason of the presumption of innocence he enjoys,41 be allowed provisional liberty upon filing of a
security to guarantee his appearance before any court, as required under specified conditions.42
Implementing Sec. 13,43 Article III of the 1987 Constitution, Sections 444 and 5, Rule 114 of the 2000 Rules of Criminal
Procedure set forth substantive and procedural rules on the disposition of bail applications. Sec. 4 provides that bail
is a matter of right to an accused person in custody for an offense not punishable by death, reclusion perpetua or life
imprisonment,45 but a matter of discretion on the part of the court, concerning one facing an accusation for an offense
punishable by death, reclusion perpetua or life imprisonment when the evidence of his guilt is strong.46 As for an
accused already convicted and sentenced to imprisonment term exceeding six years, bail may be denied or revoked
based on prosecution evidence as to the existence of any of the circumstances under Sec. 5, paragraphs (a) to (e), to
Sec. 5. Bail, when discretionary Upon conviction by the Regional Trial Court of an offense not
punishable by death, reclusion perpetua, or life imprisonment, admission to bail is discretionary. The
application for bail may be filed and acted upon by the trial court despite the filing of a notice of appeal,
provided it has not transmitted the original record to the appellate court. However, if the decision of the trial
court convicting the accused changed the nature of the offense from non-bailable to bailable, the application
for bail can only be filed with and resolved by the appellate court.
Should the court grant the application, the accused may be allowed to continue on provisional liberty during
the pendency of the appeal under the same bail subject to the consent of the bondsman.
If the penalty imposed by the trial court is imprisonment exceeding six (6) years, the accused shall be
denied bail, or his bail shall be cancelled upon a showing by the prosecution, with notice to the accused, of
the following or other similar circumstances: (a) That he is a recidivist, quasi-recidivist, or habitual
delinquent, or has committed the crime aggravated by the circumstance of reiteration; (b) That he has
previously escaped from legal confinement, evaded sentence, or violated the conditions of his bail without
valid justification; (c) That he committed the offense while under probation, parole, or conditional pardon; (d)
That the circumstances of his case indicate the probability of flight if released on bail; or (e) That there is
undue risk that he may commit another crime during the pendency of the appeal.
The appellate court may, motu proprio or on motion of any party, review the resolution of the Regional Trial
Court after notice to the adverse party in either case. (Emphasis supplied)
It will be recalled that herein respondent was charged with violation of Section 5, par. (a), sub-paragraph (5), Article III
of R.A. No. 7610, a crime which carries the maximum penalty of reclusion perpetua. He was later convicted by the
RTC for a lesser crime which carried a sentence of imprisonment for an indeterminate term of eight (8) years and one
(1) day of prision mayor as minimum, to seventeen (17) years, four (4) months and one (1) day of reclusion
temporal as maximum.
These circumstances are not altered when the CA granted a new trial.47 As already discussed, the CA
retainedappellate jurisdiction over the case even as it ordered the remand of the original records thereof to the RTC

for reception of evidence. In retaining appellate jurisdiction, it set aside only its own September 27, 1999 Decision but
left unaltered the May 7, 1996 RTC Decision. In fact, in its August 31, 2001 Resolution, the CA emphasized:
As we have pointed out earlier, the propriety of appellant's conviction of the offense charged as well as the
penalty imposed thereto should be resolved during the appreciation of the new trial after considering the
new evidence which appellant insist would prove his innocence.48
The May 7, 1996 RTC Decision, therefore, remained operative. And under said Decision, respondent stood
sentenced to an imprisonment term exceeding six years.
Moreover, both the RTC and CA were unanimous in their findings of the existence of strong evidence of the guilt of
respondent.49 These findings were not overturned when the CA granted a new trial. Under Section 6 (b), Rule 121,
the grant of a new trial allows for reception of newly-discovered evidence but maintains evidence already presented
or on record. And if there has been a finding that evidence is strong and sufficient to bar bail, that too subsists unless,
upon another motion and hearing, the prosecution fails to prove that the evidence against the accused has remained
strong.50 In the present case, no new evidence had since been introduced, nor hearing conducted as would diminish
the earlier findings of the RTC and CA on the existence of strong evidenc against respondent.
In sum, the circumstances of the case are such, that for respondent, bail was not a matter of right but a mere
privilege subject to the discretion of the CA to be exercised in accordance with the stringent requirements of Sec. 5,
Rule 114. And Sec. 5 directs the denial or revocation of bail upon evidence of the existence of any of the
circumstances enumerated therein 51 such as those indicating probability of flight if released on bail or undue risk that
the accused may commit another crime during the pendency of the appeal.
As it is, however, the CA, in its August 31, 2001 Resolution, admitted respondent to bail based, "xxx not on the
grounds stated in his Motion for Bail xxx," but "xxx primarily [on] the fact that [he] is already of old age and is not in
the best of health xxx," and notwithstanding its finding that "xxx as it is, the evidence of guilt is strong xxx."52The
Resolution disregarded substantive and procedural requirements on bail.
It is bad enough that the CA granted bail on grounds other than those stated in the Motion filed by respondent; it is
worse that it granted bail on the mere claim of the latter's illness. Bail is not a sick pass for an ailing or aged detainee
or prisoner needing medical care outside the prison facility. A mere claim of illness is not a ground for bail.53 It may be
that the trend now is for courts to permit bail for prisoners who are seriously sick.54 There may also be an existing
proposition for the "selective decarceration of older prisoners" based on findings that recidivism rates decrease as
age increases.55 But, in this particular case, the CA made no specific finding that respondent suffers from an ailment
of such gravity that his continued confinement during trial will permanently impair his health or put his life in danger. It
merely declared respondent not in the best of health even when the only evidence on record as to the latter's state of
health is an unverified medical certificate stating that, as of August 30, 2000, respondent's condition required him to
"xxx be confined in a more sterile area xxx."56 That medical recommendation was even rebuffed by the CA itself
when, in its November 13, 2000 Resolution, it held that the physical condition of respondent does not prevent him
from seeking medical attention while confined in prison.57
Moreover, there is a finding of record on the potential risk of respondent committing a similar offense. In its August 1,
1996 Order, the RTC noted that the circumstances of respondent indicate an undue risk that he would commit a
similar offense, if released on bail pending appeal.58 The RTC explained its findings thus:
Dr. Aida Muncada, a highly competent Psychiatrist, testified that phedophilia is a state of sexual disorder and
sexual dysfunction. It is intense and recurrent. The possibility of the commission of a similar offense for
which the accused was convicted is great if the accused will be exposed to "stress" and if an opportunity to
commit it lurks.59
The foregoing finding was not traversed or overturned by the CA in its questioned Resolution. Such finding, therefore,
remains controlling. It warranted the outright denial of respondent's bail application. The CA, therefore, erred when it
granted respondent's Motion for Bail.
WHEREFORE, the petition is GRANTED and the August 31, 2001 CA Resolution ANNULLED and SET ASIDE. The
bail bond posted by respondent is CANCELLED. Let an ORDER OF ARREST ISSUE against the person of the
accused, Victor Keith Fitzgerald.

No costs.
G.R. NO. 159222

June 26, 2007

PEOPLE OF THE PHILIPPINES and the HON. BRICIO YGANA, Presiding Judge, Regional Trial Court, Branch
153, Pasig City, Petitioners,
The Petition for Review on Certiorari1 before this Court assails the March 31, 2003 Decision2 and July 18, 2003
Resolution3 of the Court of Appeals (CA) in CA-G.R. SP No. 68797,4 which granted a Petition for Annulment of
Judgment under Rule 47 of the February 29, 2000 Decision5 of the Regional Trial Court (RTC), Branch 153, Pasig
City, in Criminal Case No. 103677.
The facts are not disputed.
On the basis of a complaint lodged by Traders Royal Bank (TRB),6 an information for estafa was filed against Rafael
M. Bitanga (Bitanga) before the RTC and docketed as Criminal Case No. 103677. Bitanga pleaded "not guilty" to the
offense charged. He was allowed to post bail.
During trial on the merits, the People presented the testimonies of three TRB employees on how Bitanga duped the
bank into accepting three foreign checks for deposit and encashment, which were however returned to TRB by
reason of "unlocated accounts."7
When it was time for the defense to present his case, however, Bitanga and his counsel failed to appear and adduce
evidence.8 Upon motion of the public prosecutor, a warrant of arrest was issued against respondent and his right to
adduce evidence was deemed waived.9
On February 29, 2000, the RTC promulgated in absentia a Decision finding Bitanga guilty as charged, thus:
WHEREFORE, judgment is hereby rendered convicting accused Rafael M. Bitanga of the crime of estafa defined and
penalized under Article 315, par. 2 (a) of the Revised Penal Code and hereby sentences him to suffer imprisonment
of four (4) years and two (2) months of prision correccional as minimum to twenty (20) years of reclusion temporal as
maximum with the necessary penalties provided by law and to indemnify private complainant Traders Royal Bank the
amount of P742,884.00 and to pay the cost.
On January 28, 2002, Bitanga filed with the CA a Petition for Annulment of Judgment with Prayer for Other
Reliefs11 on the ground that extrinsic fraud was allegedly perpetuated upon him by his counsel of record, Atty.
Benjamin Razon.12 He alleged that he received copy of the February 29, 2000 RTC Decision only on December 13,
The People filed an Answer14 opposing the Petition.

The CA granted the Petition for Annulment of Judgment in the March 31, 2003 Decision assailed herein, the decretal
portion of which reads:
WHEREFORE, in the light of the foregoing considerations, the petition is hereby GRANTED. Accordingly, the
decision of the Regional Trial Court in Muntinlupa City, Branch 153 being tainted with circumstances constitutive of
extrinsic fraud which deprived the petitioner herein of his day in court is SET ASIDE. Resultantly, Criminal Case No.
103677 is remanded to the court of origin for further proceedings to give herein petitioner opportunity to present his
evidence in said case and for the trial court to render judgment in accordance with the evidence adduced. Corollarily,
the petitioner may be released and allowed to be on bail unless there are other valid and legal reasons for his
continued detention.
and denied the People's Motion for Reconsideration in its Resolution16 of July 18, 2003.
The foregoing CA Decision and Resolution are now being questioned by the People (petitioner) on these grounds:
The two previous counsels were not negligent in defending respondent.
Assuming without admitting the existence of negligence on the part of the previous counsels, the same does not
constitute extrinsic fraud.
The Court of Appeals did not accord the previous counsels their right to procedural due process of law.
Jumping bail, respondent waived his right to present his evidence.17
The Petition for Review is meritorious.
Section 1, Rule 47 of the Rules of Court, limits the scope of the remedy of annulment of judgment to the following:
Section 1. Coverage. This Rule shall govern the annulment by the Court of Appeals of judgments or final orders
and resolutions in civil actions of Regional Trial Courts for which the ordinary remedies of new trial, appeal, petition
for relief or other appropriate remedies are no longer available through no fault of the petitioner.
The remedy cannot be resorted to when the RTC judgment being questioned was rendered in a criminal case. The
2000 Revised Rules of Criminal Procedure itself does not permit such recourse, for it excluded Rule 47 from the
enumeration of the provisions of the 1997 Revised Rules of Civil Procedure which have suppletory application to
criminal cases. Section 18, Rule 124 thereof, provides:
Sec. 18. Application of certain rules in civil procedure to criminal cases. The provisions of Rules 42, 44 to 46 and 48
to 56 relating to procedure in the Court of Appeals and in the Supreme Court in original and appealed civil cases shall
be applied to criminal cases insofar as they are applicable and not inconsistent with the provisions of this Rule.

There is no basis in law or the rules, therefore, to extend the scope of Rule 47 to criminal cases. As we explained in
Macalalag v. Ombudsman,18 when there is no law or rule providing for this remedy, recourse to it cannot be
allowed, viz.:
Parenthetically, R.A. 6770 is silent on the remedy of annulment of judgments or final orders and resolutions of the
Ombudsman in administrative cases. In Tirol, Jr. v. Del Rosario , the Court has held that since The Ombudsman Act
specifically deals with the remedy of an aggrieved party from orders, directives and decisions of the Ombudsman in
administrative disciplinary cases only, the right to appeal is not to be considered granted to parties aggrieved by
orders and decisions of the Ombudsman in criminal or non-administrative cases. The right to appeal is a mere
statutory privilege and may be exercised only in the manner prescribed by, and in accordance with, the provisions of
law. There must then be a law expressly granting such right. This legal axiom is also applicable and even more true in
actions for annulment of judgments which is an exception to the rule on finality of judgments.19
The Petition for Annulment of Judgment of the February 29, 2000 Decision of the RTC in Criminal Case No. 103677
was therefore an erroneous remedy. It should not have been entertained, much less granted, by the CA.
Even on substantive grounds, the Petition for Annulment of Judgment does not pass muster.
A petition for annulment of judgment is a remedy in equity so exceptional in nature that it may be availed of only when
other remedies are wanting,20 and only if the judgment sought to be annulled was rendered by a court lacking
jurisdiction or through proceedings attended by extrinsic fraud.21
When the ground invoked is extrinsic fraud, annulment of judgment must be sought within four years from discovery
of the fraud, which fact should be alleged and proven.22 In addition, the particular acts or omissions constituting
extrinsic fraud must be clearly established.23
Extrinsic or collateral fraud is trickery practiced by the prevailing party upon the unsuccessful party, which prevents
the latter from fully proving his case. It affects not the judgment itself but the manner in which said judgment is
obtained. 24
In the present case, respondent Bitanga complained that his own counsel perpetrated fraud upon him by abandoning
his cause. He attributed the following acts and omissions to them:
1. Atty. Benjamin Razon failed to inform his client of the scheduled hearings for the receptioon of defense evidence.
This resulted in depriving herein petitioner of a chance to prove his innocence by presenting a valid defense;
2. He failed to attend the scheduled hearing for reception of petitioners' evidence for which reason the case was
deemed submitted for decision without his evidence;
3. He never bother to verify what transpired at the hearing he failed to attend, and thus, was not able to file the
necessary pleadings to lift the order considering the case submitted for decision without petitioners' evidence;
4. He withdrew his appearance as counsel for the petitioner without getting the express conformity of his client. Thus,
the court appointed a counsel de officio from the Public Attorneys Office;
5. The counsel de officio, however, exerted no effort in contacting the petitioner to prepare him for defense evidence.
He simply submitted the case for decision and waived the presentation of Defense evidence;
6. After receiving the court a quo's adverse decision, convicting herein petitioner, he did not notify or inform his
clients, herein petitioners; and
7. He did not appeal the case to the Court of Appeals; or avail themselves of other remedies under the law.25

The CA equated the foregoing behavior of said counsels to extrinsic fraud in that it impaired Bitanga's right to due
process and rendered the proceedings in Criminal Case No. 103677 a farce. Citing a ruling of the appellate court
in Sps. Carlos and Erlinda Ong v. Nieves Jacinto, et al.,26 the CA held:
While it is true that neglect or failure of counsel to inform his client of an adverse judgment resulting in the loss of his
right to appeal will not justify setting aside a judgment that is valid and regular on its face, this rule is not unbending
and admits of exceptions as where reckless or gross negligence of counsel deprives the client of due process. This
Court believes, and so holds, that the enumerated deplorable acts and omissions of petitioner's counsel on record,
finding no abatement either later from his court-appointed lawyer, taken together, more than suffice to paint a clear
picture of delinquency, gross negligence and recklessness constitutive of extrinsic fraud.27
Bitanga defends the foregoing view of the CA as consistent with a basic rule in criminal procedure that every leeway
must be given an accused person to defend himself, lest he be wrongfully deprived of liberty.28
Disagreeing with the CA, the People maintain that the acts and omissions imputed to said counsels amounted to
mere professional negligence which cannot be equated with extrinsic fraud in the absence of allegation and evidence
of malice.29 The People point out that it was Bitanga's own act of jumping bail which did him in, for had he showed up
in court when summoned, he would not have lost the right to present his defense.30
The People's arguments are tenable.
Extrinsic fraud is that perpetrated by the prevailing party, not by the unsuccessful party's own counsel.31 As a general
rule, counsels ineptitude is not a ground to annul judgment, for the latter's management of the case binds his
client.32 The rationale behind this rule is that, once retained, counsel holds the implied authority to do all acts which
are necessary or, at least, incidental to the prosecution and management of the suit in behalf of his client, and any act
performed by said counsel within the scope of such authority is, in the eyes of the law, regarded as the act of the
client himself.33
There is an exception to the foregoing rule, and that is when the negligence of counsel had been so egregious that it
prejudiced his clients interest and denied him his day in court.34 For this exception to apply, however, the gross
negligence of counsel should not be accompanied by his clients own negligence or malice.35 Clients have the duty to
be vigilant of their interests by keeping themselves up to date on the status of their case. 36 Failing in this duty, they
suffer whatever adverse judgment is rendered against them. As we held in Tan v. Court of Appeals:37
Moreover, annulment of judgment may either be based on the ground that the judgment is void for want of jurisdiction
or that the judgment was obtained by extrinsic fraud. By no stretch of the imagination can we equate the negligence
of the petitioner and his former counsel to extrinsic fraud as contemplated in the cited rules. Extrinsic fraud refers to
any fraudulent act of the prevailing party in the litigation which is committed outside of the trial of the case, whereby
the unsuccessful party has been prevented from exhibiting fully his case, by fraud or deception practiced on him by
his opponent. The fraud or deceit cannot be of the losing partys own doing, nor must it contribute to it. The extrinsic
fraud must be employed against it by the adverse party, who, because of some trick, artifice, or device, naturally
prevails in the suit. This Court notes that no such fraud or deceit was properly proved against the private respondent.
Indeed, the petitioner has no reason to protest his own negligence.38 (Emphasis supplied)
In the present case, the acts and omissions attributed to counsel amounted to negligence only, which cannot be
considered extrinsic fraud. Moreover, said counsels negligence was caused by Bitanga's act of jumping bail.
There appears to be no issue about how Atty. Razon represented Bitanga during the presentation of the evidence of
the prosecution. The CA itself noted that during said period, Atty. Razon conducted the cross-examination and recross-examination of the witnesses for the prosecution.39

Problems arose only when it was Bitangas turn to present his defense. As noted by the CA, Atty. Razon failed to
attend the hearings scheduled on December 10, 1998, February 18, 1999, April 20, 1999, and May 25, 1999.40His
absences, however, appear to be justified. When he was required by the RTC to submit an explanation for his
absences, Atty. Razon clarified:
2. That on May 25, 1999 from 7:00AM to 9:30AM counsel waited for the accused to pick him up at his residence in
order both counsel and accused can go to court together, it being the defense evidence of the accused, counsel was
not even feeling well that morning on account of his swollen leg;
3. That the accused never showed up putting counsel in a quandary whether he has been relieved as counsel for the
accused or not. The accused likewise never contacted counsel nor showed up in person x x x counsel in his
residence or office or called up by telephone x x x counsel made inquiry at the accused place of business but was
informed that the accused had already vacated the premises leaving no forwarding address where he can be located
or contacted. It is now June and still accused never contacted counsel so that counsel is left without alternative but to
withdraw from the case.41 (Emphasis added)
The RTC accepted the foregoing explanation of Atty. Razon and allowed him to withdraw his appearance as counsel
even without the conformity of Bitanga whose whereabouts could not be traced.42 Moreover, the RTC ordered the
arrest of Bitanga and the forfeiture of his cash bond because of his continued non-appearance. The RTC also
considered his right to present evidence waived.43
It is apparent that Bitanga left Atty. Razon in the dark. While said counsel exerted effort to contact Bitanga, the latter
made himself completely scarce: he vacated his old business address without leaving a forwarding address or
informing Atty. Razon about the change; worse, after moving to a different address, Bitanga did not bother to resume
communication with Atty. Razon. Even if said counsel could have appeared in court without his client, his presence
would not have salvaged the case for he had no witness to present or evidence to submit.
There was therefore no factual or legal basis to the conclusion of the CA that extrinsic fraud prejudiced the right of
Bitanga to present his defense. He has only himself to blame for jumping bail and leaving his case in disarray.
WHEREFORE, the petition is GRANTED. The March 31, 2003 Decision and July 18, 2003 Resolution of the Court of
Appeals are ANNULLED and SET ASIDE.
Upon finality of herein Decision, let the Regional Trial Court, Branch 153, Pasig City be furnished a copy hereof for
execution of its final Decision dated February 29, 2000 in Criminal Case No. 103677.