Republic of the Philippines

SUPREME COURT
Manila
THIRD DIVISION
G.R. No. 170447

June 23, 2009

BIENVENIDO DIÑO and RENATO COMPARATIVO, Petitioners,
vs.
PABLO OLIVAREZ,1 Respondent.

That on or about the 10th day of May 2004, in the City of Parañaque,
Philippines, and within the jurisdiction of this Honorable Court, the
above-named accused, Remedios Malibiran and Pablo Olivarez,
conspiring and confederating together and both of them mutually
helping and aiding one another, did then and there willfully, unlawfully
and feloniously, engage in vote buying activities on election day of
May 10, 2004, by distributing or giving Uniwide gift certificates, a
thing of value, as consideration to induce or influence the voters to
vote for candidate Pablo Olivarez, a candidate for the City Mayor of
Parañaque, in violation of Omnibus Election Code.
Criminal Case No. 04-1105

DECISION
CHICO-NAZARIO, J.:
Petitioners Bienvenido Diño and Renato Comparativo assail the
Decision2 of the Court of Appeals dated 28 September 2005 in CAG.R. SP No. 89230, nullifying the Orders3 dated 12 January 2005, 9
March 2005, and 31 March 2005 of Judge Fortunito L. Madrona of
Branch 274 of the Regional Trial Court (RTC) of Parañaque City, in
Criminal Cases No. 04-1104 and No. 04-1105.
Petitioners instituted a complaint for vote buying against respondent
Pablo Olivarez. Based on the finding of probable cause in the Joint
Resolution issued by Assistant City Prosecutor Antonietta PabloMedina, with the approval of the city prosecutor of Parañaque, two
Informations4 were filed before the RTC on 29 September 2004
charging respondent Pablo Olivarez with Violation of Section 261,
paragraphs a, b and k of Article XXII of the Omnibus Election Code,
which read:
Criminal Case No. 04-1104

That on or about the 10th day of May, 2004, in the City of
Parañaque, Philippines, and within the jurisdiction of this Honorable
Court, the above-named accused, Carmelo Jaro and Pablo Olivarez,
conspiring and confederating together and both of them mutually
helping and aiding one another, did then and there willfully, unlawfully
and feloniously, engage in vote buying activities on election day of
May 10, 2004, by distributing or giving Uniwide gift certificates, a
thing of value, as consideration to induce or influence the voters to
vote for candidate Pablo Olivarez, a candidate for the City Mayor of
Parañaque, in violation of the Omnibus Election Code.
The arraignment of the respondent was initially set on 18 October
2004.5
On 7 October 2004, respondent filed before the Law Department of
the Commission on Elections (COMELEC) an "[a]ppeal of [the] Joint
Resolution of the City Prosecutor of Parañaque City with Motion to
Revoke Continuing Authority" pursuant to Section 10, Rule 34 of the
1993 COMELEC Rules of Procedure. Respondent argued that the
pendency of the appeal of the Joint Resolution before the COMELEC
should prevent the filing of the Informations before the RTC as there
could be no final finding of probable cause until the COMELEC had

respondent failed to appear before the RTC. On 11 October 2004.9 Before Judge Madrona could act on the motion to quash. of Section 261. he averred that the city prosecutor was no longer empowered to amend the informations.13 On 12 January 2005.6 In a letter7 dated 11 October 2004. Assistant Prosecutor Pablo-Medina.12 On 14 December 2004. respondent filed a Motion to Quash the two criminal informations on the ground that more than one offense was charged therein. the Law Department of the COMELEC directed the city prosecutor to transmit or elevate the entire records of the case and to suspend further implementation of the Joint Resolution dated 20 September 2004 until final resolution of the said appeal before the COMELEC en banc. Moreover. 7457 states: . Judge Madrona.10 " The Amended Informations sought to be admitted charged respondent with violation of only paragraph a. Judge Madrona issued an order denying respondent’s Motion to Quash dated 11 October 2004." arguing that no resolution was issued to explain the changes therein. Rule 117 of the Rules of Court. Rule 110 of the Rules of Court. with a warning that the arraignment would proceed without any more delay. unless the Supreme Court would issue an injunctive writ. Judge Madrona reset the arraignment to 9 March 2005. in relation to Section 13.15 On 1 February 2005.16 On 9 March 2005. filed on 28 October 2004 its "Opposition to the Motion to Quash and Motion to Admit Amended Informations. Pursuant to these powers."18 which was denied in an Order dated 31 March 2005. 745721 dated 4 April 2005. Moreover.resolved the appeal. with the approval of the city prosecutor. in open court. in violation of Section 3(f). and ordered the arrest of respondent and the confiscation of the cash bond. Pablo Olivarez. Article XXII of the Omnibus Election Code. since the COMELEC had already directed it to transmit the entire records of the case and suspend the hearing of the cases before the RTC until the resolution of the appeal before the COMELEC en banc. respondent filed an "Opposition to the Admission of the Amended Informations.14 Respondent filed an Urgent Motion for Reconsideration dated 20 January 2005 thereon. the COMELEC promulgated Resolution No. Thereupon. Article XXII of the Omnibus Election Code . the Law Department of the COMELEC filed before the RTC a Manifestation and Motion20wherein it alleged that pursuant to the COMELEC’s powers to investigate and prosecute election offense cases. particularly the deletion of paragraph k. 17 On 11 March 2005. denied the Motion for Reconsideration of the Order denying the Motion to Quash and admitting the Amended Informations. Judge Madrona issued an Order resetting the hearing scheduled on 13 December 2004 to 1 February 2005 on account of the pending Motion to Quash of the respondent and the Amended Informations of the public prosecutor. The dispositive portion of Resolution No. The Order directed that a bench warrant be issued for the arrest of respondent to ensure his presence at his arraignment. in relation to paragraph b. it had the power to revoke the delegation of its authority to the city prosecutor. 19 On 5 April 2005. and admitted the Amended Informations dated 25 October 2004. he argued that the charges made against him were groundless. 8 This caused the resetting of the scheduled arraignment on 18 October 2004 to 13 December 2004.11 On 1 December 2004. Section 261. respondent filed an "Urgent Motion for Reconsideration and/or to Lift the Order of Arrest of Accused Dr.

The appellate court granted the appeal in a Decision dated 28 September 2005 declaring that the COMELEC had the authority to conduct the preliminary investigation of election offenses and to prosecute the same. 04-1104 and No. provincial prosecutors. al. The appellate court also pronounced that Judge Madrona erred in admitting the amended informations. GRANTED. II THE HONORABLE COURT OF APPEALS ERRED IN GIVING CREDENCE TO ACCUSED’S ALLEGATION THAT COMELEC . et. 1104 and 1105 until the Commission has acted on the appeal of respondents. however. to APPROVE and ADOPT the recommendation of the Law Department as follows: 1. To revoke the deputation of the Office of the City Prosecutor of Parañaque to investigate and prosecute election offense cases insofar as I. the present petition under Rule 65 where the petitioners enumerate the following assignments of error. the Law Department of the COMELEC moved (1) that the RTC hold in abeyance further proceedings in Criminal Cases No. since they were made in excess of the delegated authority of the public prosecutor. and (2) to revoke the authority of the city prosecutor of Parañaque to prosecute the case. designating therein the lawyers from the Law Department of the COMELEC to prosecute Criminal Cases No. To direct the Law Department to handle the prosecution of these cases and file the appropriate Motion and Manifestation before the Regional Trial Court of Parañaque. the Commission RESOLVED. the COMELEC may delegate such authority to the Chief State Prosecutor. assailing the Orders. as it hereby RESOLVES. to hold in abeyance further proceedings on Criminal Case Nos.S.22 The fallo of the Decision reads: UPON THE VIEW WE TAKE OF THIS CASE. SP No. Nos. to revoke such authority to delegate. and city prosecutors. the petition at bench must be. The impugned Orders of the public respondent Judge Fortunito L. 04-1105. respondent filed a Special Civil Action for Certiorari before the Court of Appeals docketed as CA-G. the categorical order of the COMELEC to suspend the prosecution of the case before the RTC effectively deprived the city prosecutor of the authority to amend the two informations. vs. Remedios Malabiran and Pablo Olivarez" and "Bienvenido et. are concerned. and 31 March 2005 are hereby VACATED and NULLIFIED. Sally Rose Saraos. entitled "Renato Comparativo vs. Branch 274. Let the Law Department implement this Resolution. 89230. 23 Hence." respectively. to wit: I THE HONORABLE COURT OF APPEALS ERRED IN NULLIFYING THE ORDER OF THE COURT A QUO AS IT BASICALLY ERRED IN ITS APPRECIATION THAT THE TWO AMENDED INFORMATIONS WERE FILED AT A TIME WHEN THE PUBLIC PROSECUTOR HAD NO MORE AUTHORITY TO DO SO. On 8 April 2005. The COMELEC.Considering the foregoing. dated 12 January 2005. 04-2608 and 042774. 04-1104 and No. al. and his orders to arrest the respondent and to confiscate the latter’s cash bond were devoid of legal basis. Regional Trial Court of Parañaque City dated 12 January 2005. 9 March 2005. as it hereby is. Thus. As such. 04-1105 until the COMELEC has acted on respondent’s appeal. 9 March 2005 and 31 March 2005 of the RTC. has the corresponding power. and 2. Madrona of Branch 274. Without costs in this instance. too. The Temporary Restraining Order issued in the instant petition is made PERMANENT. Thus. THUS.R..

it should be noted that the appropriate remedy for petitioners is to file a petition for review on certiorari under Rule 45 of the Rules of Court. must proceed within the lawful scope of their delegated authority. all Provincial and City Fiscals." III THE HONORABLE COURT OF APPEALS ERRED IN DECLARING AS PERMANENT THE TEMPORARY RESTRAINING ORDER EARLIER ISSUED. if warranted. Section 2.25 The main issues in this case are (1) whether or not the Office of the City Prosecutor of Parañaque had acted in excess of its jurisdiction when it filed the Amended Informations. and/or their respective assistants are herby given continuing authority. Continuing Delegation of Authority to Other Prosecution Arms of the Government. as deputies of the Commission. Section 2. have the exclusive power to conduct preliminary investigation of all election offenses punishable under this Code. or which may be indorsed to them by the Commission or its duly authorized representative and to prosecute the same. and that the Chief State Prosecutor.24 This Court finds merit in the present petition. and the petitioners were able to file their petition on 6 January 2006 within the period for extension granted by this Court. acting on its behalf. through its duly authorized legal officers. That in the event that the Commission fails to act on any complaint within four months from his filing. The Commission may avail of the assistance of other prosecuting arms of the government: Provided. It cannot therefore be claimed that this petition is being used as a substitute for appeal after the remedy has been lost through the fault of the petitioner. the provincial prosecutors and city prosecutors. however. Prosecution. within the 15-day reglementary period for the filing of a petition for review on certiorari. Petitioners received the Court of Appeals’ Resolution on 24 November 2005 and filed an Urgent Motion for Extension of Time to Appeal on 6 December 2005. an authority that the COMELEC may revoke or withdraw in the proper exercise of its judgment. Such authority . Section 265 of the Omnibus Election Code provides: Section 265. and to prosecute the same. the complainant may file the complaint with the office of the fiscal or with the Ministry of Justice for proper investigation and prosecution. At the outset.—The Commission shall. the expiration of the reglementary period.RESOLUTION WAS RECEIVED BY THE PROSECUTOR "DAYS BEFORE THE (sic) FILED THE AMENDED INFORMATIONS. and (2) whether or not Judge Madrona had acted in accordance with law when he issued the warrant for the arrest of respondent and ordered the confiscation of his cash bond due to the latter’s failure to appear for arraignment. and not a petition for certiorari under Rule 65 as petitioners aver in their Manifestation and Motion dated 9 January 2006. especially considering that it was filed within the reglementary period for the same. There is no dispute that the COMELEC is empowered to investigate and prosecute election offenses. However. Rule 34 of the COMELEC Rules of Procedure provides for the continuing delegation of authority to other prosecuting arms of the government. and whether Judge Madrona had acted in excess of his jurisdiction when he admitted the said Amended Informations and denied the respondent’s motion to quash. to conduct preliminary investigation of complaints involving election offenses under the election laws which may be filed directly with them.—The Chief State Prosecutor. This Court granted the motion of petitioners for an extension of 30 days from 9 December 2005. this Court has decided to treat the present petition for certiorari as having been filed under Rule 45. in accordance with the liberal spirit pervading the Rules of Court and in the interest of justice.

a formal amendment may only be made with leave of court and when it can be done without causing prejudice to the rights of the accused. After the plea and during the trial. this Court finds that the public prosecutors. It simply reads: In this connection. in filing the Amended Informations. and delay the administration of justice. at any time before the accused enters his plea. without leave of court. the public prosecutor had avoided such an undesirable situation. Intramuros. . modify and reverse the resolution of the Chief State Prosecutor and/or provincial/city prosecutors. Section 10 of the COMELEC Rules of Procedure provides that the COMELEC is empowered to revise.—Appeals from the resolution of the State Prosecutor or Provincial or City Fiscal on the recommendation or resolution of investigating officers may be made only to the Commission within ten (10) days from receipt of the resolution of said officials. in the letter dated 11 October 2004. the filing of the Amended Informations cannot in any way be considered improper. As such. was issued on 4 April 2005. after the Amended Informations were filed on 28 October 2004. which would have forced the COMELEC to re-file the cases. the precautionary measure taken by the public prosecutor was clearly not intended to disobey the COMELEC. Amendment or substitution. x x x. waste government resources. Resolution No. the public prosecutor filed the Amended Informations. By filing the Amended Informations. in form or in substance.may be revoked or withdrawn any time by the Commission whenever in its judgment such revocation or withdrawal is necessary to protect the integrity of the Commission. Dalaig of the COMELEC Law Department. A complaint or information may be amended. Section 14. written by Director Alioden D. provided. did not revoke the continuing authority granted to the City Prosecutor of Parañaque. The decision of the Commission on said appeals shall be immediately executory and final. did not exceed the authority delegated by the COMELEC. 7457. thus. Be that as it may. The letter dated 11 October 2004. (Emphasis provided. Thus. Rule 110 of the Rules on Criminal Procedure. Respondent filed a Motion to Quash on 11 October 2004 on the ground that more than one offense was charged therein. The instructions of the COMELEC. not to have the public prosecutor abandon the prosecution of the case and negligently allow its dismissal by not filing the Amended Informations. rather it was an act necessitated by the developments of the case. Section 10. were clearly intended to allow sufficient time to reconsider the merit of the Joint Resolution.) Since the Rules of Court provided for a remedy that would avert the dismissal of the complaints on the ground that more than one offense was charged. you are hereby directed to transmit the entire records of the case to the Law Department. revise. however that this shall not divest the Commission of its power to motu proprio review. Furthermore. Appeals from the Action of the State Prosecutor. which effectively revoked the deputation of the Office of the City Prosecutor of Parañaque. Commission on Elections. promote the common good. Provincial or City Fiscal.26 The filing of the Amended Informations was not made in defiance of these instructions by the COMELEC. or to flout its authority or diminish its powers to review the appealed Joint Resolution. You are further directed to suspend further implementation of the questioned resolution until final resolution of said appeal by the Comelec En Banc. provides: Section 14. leaving the COMELEC in a quandary should it later dismiss the appeal before it. Manila by the fastest means available. or when it believes that successful prosecution of the case can be done by the Commission. modify or reverse the resolution of the chief state prosecutor and/or provincial/city prosecutors.

Provided. Rule 116 of the Rules of Criminal Procedure. the arraignment scheduled on 13 December 2004 was reset to 1 February 2005 because of the pending Motion to Quash. Thus. While it is true that the fiscal has the quasi-judicial discretion to determine whether or not a criminal case should be filed in court. However. which far exceeded the sixty days provided by the rules. Judge Madrona acted in accordance with law when he admitted these Informations and dismissed the respondent’s Motion to Quash. for the arrest of the respondent due to his failure to be present for his arraignment and for the confiscation of his cash bond.29 Five months.Consequently. it is clear that the arraignment of the accused is not indefinitely suspended by the pendency of an appeal before the Department of Justice or. These Orders are consistent with criminal procedure. v. When the accused voluntarily submits himself to the court or is duly arrested. Suspension of arraignment. should respondent still fail to appear therein. in this case. the reviewing authority is allowed 60 days within which to decide the appeal. When the respondent failed to appear on the scheduled arraignment. Judge How. After the filing of the complaint or the information. arraignment shall follow as a matter of course. who posted bail bonds after the trial court issued a Warrant of Arrest on 4 October 2004. respondent filed his Appeal of the Joint Resolution at the Office of the City Prosecutor of Parañaque on 7 October 2004. The trial court thereby acquires jurisdiction over the case. the court then acquires jurisdiction over the person of the accused. no abuse of discretion can be attributed to Judge Madrona when he issued the Orders. (c) A petition for review of the resolution of the prosecutor is pending at either the Department of Justice. this case was decided before the Rules of Criminal Procedure were revised on 1 December 2000. approximately 60 days thereafter. From the foregoing.—Upon motion of the proper party.27 In this case. Moreover. as the ground stated therein—the informations charged more than one offense—could no longer be sustained. was ample time for the respondent to obtain from COMELEC a reversal of the Joint Resolution. Judge Madrona nonetheless reset the arraignment to 9 March 2005. and the respondent. Section 11. the arraignment shall be suspended in the following cases: xxxx In pronouncing that Judge Madrona acted in grave abuse of discretion when he failed to defer the arraignment of the respondent. once the case has been brought to court. On 1 December 2004. The filing of an information in the trial court initiates a criminal action. enumerates the instances that can suspend the arraignment of the accused: Section 11. It was only on 9 March 2005. 28 Thereafter. That the period of suspension shall not exceed sixty (60) days counted from the filing of the petition with the reviewing office. whatever disposition the fiscal may feel is proper in the case should be addressed to the consideration of the trial court. with the warning that the court would impose the appropriate sanctions. or the Office of the President. the trial court acquired jurisdiction over the persons of the accused Carmelo Jaro. the arraignment that was scheduled on 11 October 2004 was re-scheduled to 13 December 2004. Law Department of the COMELEC. rather. Remedios Malibaran. In this case. dated 9 March 2005 and 31 March 2005. and the rule setting the 60-day period for the suspension of the arraignment of the . Inc. or five months after the respondent filed his appeal before the Law Department of the COMELEC that Judge Madrona held the arraignment and issued the Bench Warrant of Arrest against respondent.30 wherein this Court cautioned judges to refrain from precipitately arraigning the accused to avoid any miscarriage of justice. a warrant for the arrest of the accused is issued by the trial court. the Court of Appeals cited Solar Team Entertainment.

. 12. to decide the appeal at the soonest possible time was anchored on the rule provided under Department Memorandum Order No. SO ORDERED.R.31 WHEREFORE. dated 3 July 2000. No costs.accused pending an appeal or a petition for review before a reviewing authority was not yet applicable. the instant appeal is GRANTED. 89230 is REVERSED. which mandates that the period for the disposition of appeals or petitions for review shall be 75 days. The Decision of the Court of Appeals dated 28 September 2005 in CA-G. this Court did not sanction an indefinite suspension of the proceedings in the trial court. the Justice Secretary. 04-1105 before the RTC. SP No. Its reliance on the reviewing authority. 04-1104 and No. the prosecution of which shall be under the direction of the Law Department of the COMELEC. This Court orders the continuation of the proceedings in Criminal Cases No. Nevertheless. it should be noted that even in Solar.