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VOL.153,AUGUST31,1987

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Sta.RosaMiningCompanyvs.Zabala
*

No.L44723.August31,1987.

STA. ROSA MINING COMPANY, petitioner, vs. ASSISTANT


PROVINCIAL FISCAL AUGUSTO ZABALA, in his capacity as
OFFICERINCHARGE of the Provincial Fiscal's OFFICE of
CamarinesNorte,andGILALAPAN,et.al.,respondents.
Remedial Law Criminal Procedure Institution of criminal actions
After the case had already been filed in court, a fiscal is not clothed with
power, without the court's consent, to dismiss a criminal action actually
instituted and pending further proceedings Power to dismiss criminal
actions is vested solely in the court.There is no question that the
institution of a criminal action is addressed to the sound discretion of the
investigatingfiscal.Hemayorhemaynotfiletheinformationaccordingto
whethertheevidenceisinhisopinionsufficienttoestablishtheguiltofthe
accusedbeyondreasonabledoubt.(Gonzalesvs.CourtofFirstInstance,63
Phil.846)andwhenhedecidesnottofiletheinformation,intheexerciseof
his discretion, he may not be compelled to do so (People vs. Pineda, 20
SCRA748).However,afterthecasehadalreadybeenfiledincourt,"fiscals
are not clothed with power, without the consent of the court, to dismiss or
nolle prosequi criminal actions actually instituted and pending further
proceedings. The power to dismiss criminal actions is vested solely in the
court" (U.S. vs. Barredo, 32 Phil. 444, 450 Gonzales vs. Court of First
Instance,supra).
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*ENBANC.

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Sta,RosaMiningCompanyvs.Zabala

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Same Same Same Mandamus issues against the fiscal Despite the
personal/convictions of the fiscal, he is dutybound to prosecute the case to
enablethecourttoarriveatanindependentjudgmentastotheculpabilityof
theaccused.lnthecaseatbar,thecourtbelowdeniedthefiscal'smotionto
dismiss on the ground that there was a prima facie case against private
respondents. The question presented for determination now isafter a case
hasbeenfiledincourt,canafiscalbecompelledtoprosecutethesame,after
hismotiontodismissithasbeendenied?Thiscourtisoftheviewthatthe
writ prayed for should issue. Notwithstanding his personal convictions or
opinions,thefiscalmustproceedwithhisdutyofpresentingevidencetothe
courttoenablethecourttoarriveatitsownindependentjudgmentastothe
culpabilityoftheaccused.Thefiscalshouldnotshirkfromhisresponsibility
much less leave the prosecution of the case at the hands of a private
prosecutor. At all times, the criminal action shall be prosecuted under his
direction and control (Sec. 4, Rule 110, Rules of Court). Otherwise, the
entire proceedings will be null and void (People vs. Beriales, 70 SCRA
361).
SameSameSameSame If the fiscal is not convinced that a prima
facie case exists, he cannot move for the dismissal of the case and, when
denied,refusetoprosecutethesame.Accordingly,ifthefiscalisnotatall
convinced that a prima facie case exists, he simply cannot move for the
dismissalofthecaseand,whendenied,refusetoprosecutethesame.Heis
obliged by law to proceed and prosecute the criminal action. He cannot
imposehisopiniononthetrialcourt.Atleastwhathecandoistocontinue
appearingfortheprosecutionandthenturnoverthepresentationofevidence
to another fiscal or a private prosecutor subject to his direction and control
(U.S. vs. Despabiladeras, 32 Phil. 442 U.S. vs. Gallegos, 37 Phil. 289).
Wherethereisnootherprosecutoravailable,heshouldproceedtodischarge
his duty and present the evidence to the best of his ability and let the court
decide the merits of the case on the basis of the evidence adduced by both
parties.
SameSame Same Same Same The mere fact that the Secretary of
Justice had directed the fiscal to move for dismissal of the case and the
motiontodismissfiledisdeniedbythetrialcourt,isnojustificationforthe
fiscal's refusal to prosecute the case.The mere fact that the Secretary of
Justicehad,afterreviewingtherecordsofthecase,directedtheprosecuting
fiscaltomoveforthedismissalofthecaseandthemotiontodismissfiled
pursuant to said directive is denied by the trial court, is no justification for
therefusal
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ofthefiscaltoprosecutethecase.Itisthecourtwherethecaseisfiledand
notthefiscalthathasfullcontrolofit.

PETITIONformandamustoreviewtheorderoftheCourtofFirst
InstanceofAlbay.
ThefactsarestatedintheopinionoftheCourt.
BIDIN,J.:
MandamustocompelrespondentFiscaltoprosecuteCriminalCase
No.821ofthethenCourtofFirstInstanceofCamarinesNorteuntil
thesameisterminated.
The facts of the case are not disputed. On March 21, 1974,
petitioner filed a complaint for attempted theft of materials (scrap
iron)formingpartoftheinstallationsonitsminingpropertyatJose
Panganiban, Camarines Norte against private respondents Romeo
Garrido and Gil Alapan with the Office of the Provincial Fiscal of
CamarinesNorte,thenheadedbyProvincialFiscalJoaquinIlustre.
The case was assigned to third Assistant Fiscal Esteban P.
Panotes for preliminary investigation who, after conducting said
investigation, issued a resolution dated August 26, 1974
recommending that an information for Attempted Theft be filed
against private respondents on a finding of primafacie case which
resolutionwasapprovedbyProvincialFiscalJoaquinIlustre.Private
respondents sought reconsideration of the resolution but the same
wasdeniedbyFiscalIlustreinaresolutiondatedOctober14,1974.
OnOctober29,1974,FiscalIlustrefiledwiththeCourtofFirst
InstanceofCamarinesNorteanInformationdatedOctober17,1987
docketed as Criminal Case No. 821, charging private respondents
withthecrimeofAttemptedTheft.
In a letter dated October 22, 1974, the private respondents
requestedtheSecretaryofJusticeforareviewoftheResolutionsof
the Office of the Provincial Fiscal dated August 26, 1974 and
October14,1974.
On November 6, 1974, the Chief State Prosecutor ordered the
ProvincialFiscalbytelegramto"PleaseelevateentirerecordsPFO
Case577againstGarridoetal.,reviewinfive
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Sta.RosaMiningCompanyvs.Zabala

daysanddeferallproceedingspendingreview."
Theletterrequestforreviewwasopposedbypetitionerinaletter
to the Secretary of Justice dated November 23, 1974 alleging,
among other things, that an information for Attempted Theft had
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alreadybeenfiledagainstprivaterespondentsforwhichreasonthe
request for review has become a moot question as the Provincial
Fiscalhaslostjurisdictiontodismissthechargeforattemptedtheft.
On March 6, 1975, the Secretary of Justice, after reviewing the
records,reversedthefindingsofprimafacie case of the Provincial
Fiscalanddirectedsaidprosecutingofficertoimmediatelymovefor
thedismissalofthecriminalcase.Petitionersoughtreconsideration
ofthedirectiveoftheSecretaryofJusticebutthelatterdeniedthe
sameinaletterdatedJune11,1975.
AmotiontodismissdatedSeptember16,1975wasthenfiledby
theProvincialFiscalbutthecourtdeniedthemotionontheground
that there was a prima facie evidence against private respondents
andsetthecasefortrialonFebruary25,1976.
Private respondents sought reconsideration of the court's ruling
but in an Order dated February 13, 1976, the motion filed for said
purposewaslikewisedenied.TrialofthecasewasresettoApril23,
1976.
Thereafter, Fiscal Ilustre was appointed a judge in the Court of
First Instance of Albay and respondent Fiscal Zabala became
officerincharge of the Provincial Fiscal's Office of Camarines
Norte.
On April 19, 1976, respondent Fiscal filed a Second Motion to
Dismissthecase.Thissecondmotiontodismisswasdeniedbythe
trialcourtinanorderdatedApril23,1976.Whereupon,respondent
fiscal manifested that he would not prosecute the case and
disauthorized any private prosecutor to appear therein. Hence, this
petitionformandamus.
In this action, petitioner prays for the issuance of the writ of
mandamus"commandingrespondentfiscaloranyotherpersonwho
may be assigned or appointed to act in his place or stead to
prosecuteCriminalCaseNo.821oftheCourtofFirst
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Sta.RosaMiningCompanyvs.Zabala

InstanceofCamarinesNorte"(Petition,Rollo,p.27).
There is no question that the institution of a criminal action is
addressedtothesounddiscretionoftheinvestigatingfiscal.Hemay
orhemaynotfiletheinformationaccordingtowhethertheevidence
is in his opinion sufficient to establish the guilt of the accused
beyondreasonabledoubt.(Gonzales vs. Courtof FirstInstance, 63
Phil. 846) and when he decides not to file the information, in the
exerciseofhisdiscretion,hemaynotbecompelledtodoso(People
vs.Pineda,20SCRA748).However,afterthecasehadalreadybeen
filed in court, "fiscals are not clothed with power, without the
consent of the court, to dismiss or nolle prosequi criminal actions
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actually instituted and pending further proceedings. The power to


dismiss criminal actions is vested solely in the court" (U.S. vs.
Barredo, 32 Phil. 444, 450 Gonzales vs. Court of First Instance,
supra).
"However, the matter of instituting an information should be distinguished
fromamotionbythefiscalforthedismissalofacasealreadyfiledincourt.
Thejudgemayproperlydenythemotionwhere,judgingfromtherecordof
the preliminary investigation, there appears to be sufficient evidence to
sustaintheprosecution.Thisis,asitshouldbe,becausethecaseisalready
in court and, therefore, within its discretion and control (Abela vs. Golez,
131SCRA12).

Thisrulingisjustbeingconsistentwiththeprinciplefirstlaiddown
inU.S.vs.Valencia(1 Phil. 642) where it was held that "after the
complainthasbeenpresented,andcertainlyafterthetrialhasbeen
commenced, the court and not the fiscal has full control of it. The
complaintcannotbewithdrawnbythefiscalwithouttheconsentof
thecourt."Itisdiscretionaryonthecourtwherethecaseispending
to grant the motion to dismiss or deny the same (Asst. Provincial
FiscalofBataanvs.Dollete,103Phil.914).
In the case at bar, the court below denied the fiscal's motion to
dismiss on the ground that there was a prima face case against
private respondents. The question presented for determination now
isafteracasehasbeenfiledincourt,canafiscalbecompelledto
prosecutethesame,afterhismotionto
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SUPREMECOURTREPORTSANNOTATED
Sta.RosaMiningCompanyvs.Zabala

dismissithasbeendenied?
This court is of the view that the writ prayed for should issue.
Notwithstanding his personal convictions or opinions, the fiscal
must proceed with his duty of presenting evidence to the court to
enablethecourttoarriveatitsownindependentjudgmentastothe
culpability of the accused. The fiscal should not shirk from his
responsibility much less leave the prosecution of the case at the
handsofaprivateprosecutor.Atalltimes,thecriminalactionshall
be prosecuted under his direction and control (Sec. 4, Rule 110,
RulesofCourt).Otherwise,theentireproceedingswillbenulland
void(Peoplevs.Beriales,70SCRA361).
"In the trial of criminal cases, it is the duty of the public
prosecutor to appear for the government since an offense is an
outragetothesovereigntyoftheState."(Moran,Commentsonthe
Rules of Court, Vol. IV, 1980 Ed., p. 10). This is so because "the
prosecutingofficeristherepresentativenotofanordinarypartytoa
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controversy but of a sovereignty where obligation to govern


impartially is as compelling as its obligation to govern at all and
whoseinterest,therefore,incriminalprosecutionisnotthatitshall
winacase,butthatjusticeshallbedone.Assuch,heisinapeculiar
and very definite sense the servant of the law, the twofold aim of
whichisthatguiltshallnotescapeorinnocencesuffer"(Suarezvs.
Platon,69Phil.556).
Accordingly,ifthefiscalisnotatallconvincedthataprimafacie
caseexists,hesimplycannotmoveforthedismissalofthecaseand,
whendenied,refusetoprosecutethesame.Heisobligedbylawto
proceed and prosecute the criminal action. He cannot impose his
opinion on the trial court. At least what he can do is to continue
appearingfortheprosecutionandthenturnoverthepresentationof
evidence to another fiscal or a private prosecutor subject to his
directionandcontrol(U.S.vs.Despabiladeras,32Phil.442U.S.vs.
Gallegos, 37 Phil. 289). Where there is no other prosecutor
available, he should proceed to discharge his duty and present the
evidencetothebestofhisabilityandletthecourtdecidethemerits
ofthecaseonthebasisoftheevidenceadducedbybothparties.
ThemerefactthattheSecretaryofJusticehad,afterre
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Sta.RosaMiningCompanyus.Zabala

viewing the records of the case, directed the prosecuting fiscal to


move for the dismissal of the case and the motion to dismiss filed
pursuant to said directive is denied by the trial court, is no
justification for the refusal of the fiscal to prosecute the case. It is
the court where the case is filed and not the fiscal that has full
controlofit.Veryrecently,thisCourtinMarioFl.Crespovs.Hon.
LeodegarioL.Mogul(G.R.No.53373,promulgatedJune30,1987)
ruled:
"The rule therefore in this jurisdiction is that once a complaint or
information is filed in Court any disposition of the case as its dismissal or
theconvictionoracquittaloftheaccusedrestsinthesounddiscretionofthe
Court.Althoughthefiscalretainsthedirectionandcontroloftheprosecution
ofcriminalcasesevenwhilethecaseisalreadyinCourt,hecannotimpose
hisopiniononthetrialcourt.TheCourtisthebestandsolejudgeonwhatto
do with the case before it. The determination of the case is within its
exclusivejurisdictionandcompetence.Amotiontodismissthecasefiledby
the fiscal should be addressed to the Court who has the option to grant or
deny the same. It does not matter if this is done before or after the
arraignment of the accused or that the motion was filed after a
reinvestigationoruponinstructionsoftheSecretaryofJusticewhoreviewed
therecordsoftheinvestigation.
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In order therefore to avoid such a situation whereby the opinion of the


SecretaryofJusticewhoreviewedtheactionofthefiscalmaybedisregarded
by the trial court, the Secretary of Justice should, as far as practicable,
refrain from entertaining a petition for review or appeal from the action of
thefiscal,whenthecomplaintorinformationhasalreadybeenfiledinCourt.
ThemattershouldbeleftentirelyforthedeterminationoftheCourt."

WHEREFORE,petitionisherebyGranted.Publicrespondentorany
otherpersonwhomaybeassignedorappointedtoactinhisplaceor
stead,isherebyorderedtocontinueprosecutingCriminalCaseNo.
821untilthesameisterminated.
SOORDERED.
Teehankee(C.J.),Yap,Fernan,Narvasa,MelencioHerrera,
Gutierrez, Jr., Cruz, Paras, Feliciano, Gaycayco, Padilla and
Corts,JJ.,concur.
Sarmiento,J.,nopartIwastheformercounselofrespon
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Ocampovs.Arboleda

denthereinGilAlapan.
Petitiongranted
Notes.Theremedyofoffendedpartyifafiscalrefusestofilea
case is to file with the proper authorities or courts criminal and
administrative charges against the prosecuting officer. (Abela vs.
Golez, 131 SCRA 12 Bautista vs. City Fiscal of Dagupan, 131
SCRA132.)
It is not fair to compel a fiscal to prosecute a person whom he
believes not guilty of an of fense, unless he abuses his discretion.
(Abelavs.Golez,131SCRA12).
o0o

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